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- The Inhumanity of Socialism - 2/7 -


exceptional man that we owe all that exists, outside of Nature, which we count valuable, and the ability to so use the resources of Nature as to enable mankind to live. If products were to be divided among mankind so that each should receive according to his contribution to the possibilities of production, after the exceptional men had received their just dues, there would be very little left for the rest of us. When European races first discovered this continent it probably supported less than one million souls, and the number was not increasing. That it will ultimately support some hundreds of millions is due to the dealings of the human intellect with Nature. Brains do not get, do not ask, do not expect and could not use what would rightfully come to them.

But intellects vary in character and usefulness, and let us try by differentiation and elimination to isolate and consider those particular classes of intellect whose activities bear most directly on the questions raised by Socialistic theory. The chiefs are the devotees of pure science - the Galileos, the Newtons, the Pasteurs, the Faradays, the Kelvins, and the innumerable company of those like them, many known but most unknown, who spend their days and nights in the search for truth. They deserve and get the greatest of rewards which is the respect and admiration of their fellowman. As for material things, they desire and get very little. Following them are the magnates of applied science, the Watts, the Stephensons, the Bells, the Edisons, and their like, who apply to beneficial use the discoveries of the great lights of pure science often with prodigious material profit to themselves. The patent offices know them all, big and little. They perform a magnificent service, are highly esteemed in their day and generation and their material rewards are great. And upon the whole the world does not grudge them what they get.

But there are others. Next after the magnates of applied science in public estimation, but of equal economic importance, I would place the Captains of Industry. Without their grasp of human necessity and desire and their organizing and directing ability, Labor would grope blindly in the dark by wasteful methods to the production of insufficient quantities of undesirable products. The Marxian[2] conception of an economic surplus wrongfully withheld from Labor which produces it is the disordered fancy of a fine intellect hopelessly warped by the contemplation of human misery and humanitarian sympathy with human distress. All economic discussion is worthless if tainted by human sympathy. The surplus value in production is trifling and seems large only because concentrated in comparatively few hands. The surplus of ages is concentrated in the structures which we see all about us, and in the commodities ready or partly ready for consumption and which will disappear in a short time. The annual accretions are small for an enormous amount of human effort is wastefully directed. That more effort is not wasted is due to the increasing necessities of an increasing population stimulating the most competent by the hope of personal gain to provide new means and new methods whereby those necessities may be served. No stimulus other than the hope of personal gain has ever been found effective to inspire this effort, or make it successful. Government administration invents nothing. It copies tardily and administers wastefully. Direction falls to those who compete successfully in talk not to those who demonstrate resourcefulness and masterfulness in forseeing human requirements, utilizing available means for supplying them, and effectiveness in least wastefully directing labor in the use of these means. Our Captains of Industry are those who for the most part starting life with nothing but a sound mind in a strong body have risen to the direction of great affairs through unrestricted opportunity to strenuously compete through long hours of hard labor and the mental and bodily strength to endure it. There is no reason to suppose that any other method than the same strenuous and unrestricted competition would produce men equal to such responsibilities, or that any inspiration but the hope of personal gain would induce such effort. The contention that the honor of direction and the applause of the multitude would incite to the necessary competition is not sound. In the first place long years of inconspicuous service but with the same eager effort are essential preliminaries to the great places which but few can reach, and secondly the honor would go as it does now in public affairs, not to the man efficient in industry, but to the man efficient in talk. The one stimulus to personal exertion which Nature supplies, and the only stimulus which operates powerfully, and universally and continuously is the desire of personal gain coupled with the instinct for construction and accomplishment. Since the desire is for the largest possible production it is folly to try to withdraw that stimulus and substitute an emotion which, however powerful in a few persons and for uncertain periods, operates most strongly on those industrially least capable.

For I venture the assertion that there is not now and never has been among Socialists a single person who has demonstrated the ability to so direct the Labor of any considerable number of men either in production or distribution that the aggregate of yearly accomplishment at market value is as great as the aggregate cost at current wages.

The second count in the indictment of Socialism, therefore, is that for lack of the sole stimulus which Nature supplies, and the lack of opportunity under a system of equal tasks, with ideals of leisure, direction of production and exchange under a Socialistic regime would be so much less efficient than now that the aggregate waste would be far greater than that of the parasitism which has always existed in competitive Society.

A social parasite is a person whose contribution to the social product is less than the cost of his or her keep. If obviously defective we shall, at least for the present, let humanity override the economic instinct which suggests their removal - an instinct which has effectively operated in some overcrowded communities and take care of them. But the world has no use for the able-bodied parasite who during his or her working period of life does not contribute to the social dividend by personal exertion sufficient to pay for the kind of life which has been led. In opposing Socialism I am not defending parasitism. That can be got rid of when it becomes worth while and will be. But to jump out of parasitism into Socialism would be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire. And we should have parasites still.

So much for the Captains of Industry whom we need. But there is still another class which could not exist in the Socialistic state, and which a great part of mankind holds in profound disesteem, but which is essential nevertheless. This is the man with the instinct of accumulation and whom we stigmatize as the "Capitalist" - the man who grasps what is within reach and holds it; who often gets the main profits of the inventions of the inventor; who forsees the future value of unused gifts of Nature and acquires them while they can be got cheap; who combines with others like him to control everything controllable and makes mankind pay roundly when it wants it. He is really the man to whom mankind is most indebted of all for without his beneficent if execrated service, in vain would the scientist toil in his laboratory, the inventor struggle through poverty to perfect his machine, the Captain of Industry conceive great accomplishment, and the laborer delve and grind at his daily task. The one supremely useful man is he who accumulates and holds.

If you say that this is an unlovely person the answer is that sometimes he is and sometimes he is not. If you say he is selfish the reply is that we are all selfish - he merely being able to make his selfishness effective. If you say he accumulates by devious ways and by grinding the face of the poor the reply is that sometimes he does and sometimes he does not. In these human aspects he is about like the rest of us. He it is who makes happiness and helpfulness possible.

But to these and all other assaults upon the character and methods of the accumulating man there is one general reply and that is that from the economic standpoint they are of no consequence whatever. It makes no economic difference what he is or what he does so only that he performs his accumulating office.

The one essential fact is that he assembles within his grasp the savings of Society, prevents their dissipation in personal indulgence, applies them to beneficial use, and enables the laborer to produce under the direction of the Captain of Industry by means of the devices of the inventor applied to the formulas of the scientist what is needful for the welfare of mankind - and to live while he is doing it. It is the accumulating man impelled by his instinct, or if you please his lust, for wealth and power who makes it possible for poor men to live in any great number. If he happens also to be a Captain of Industry, which usually he is not, it is merely one middleman cut out. His essential function is that of the money-grabber. It is by his exercise of that function that most of us exist.

The third count in the indictment of Socialism is that by obliterating the Capitalist, accumulating by interest, profit, rent, and the exploitation of Nature for private gain, it would make life impossible to half the population of the world and not worth living to the fittest who should manage to survive.

I trust I make myself understood for there is more and worse to come.

This discussion is necessarily didactic and assertive for it is impossible to prove or disprove any of these postulates. It is for that reason, and the lack of time that I cite no instances. They would be merely illustrative and not probative, for the human intellect is unequal to any adequate inductive study of the subject, and human life is too short to classify, master and digest the data even if they could be assembled. All that can be done is to state conclusions reached upon such observation and experience as is to each of us available and commend them to the judgment of others upon their observation and experience. Whatever can be proved at all can be reduced to a syllogism but agreement upon premises is in this case impossible.

But some things we do know and among them is the awful fact that man is powerless before Nature which deals with man precisely as it deals with other forms of life. Man can dodge Nature as the scale insect cannot, but higher forms of life can, and man the most effectively of all. But in the end she will get every one of us. Those will live happiest and longest who best know how to work with Nature and not against her. And individualism and not collectivism, is Nature's way. If our own object is the greatest aggregate of human comfort, we should realize that the greatest possible aggregate can only be attained when each individual under the stimulus of self-interest gets the largest measure of comfort for himself.

In the dim future which we shall not see, this may lead to conclusions which one shudders to think of. It may be that the time will come on this planet when in a decreasing population struggling for existence from the remains of an exhausted Nature, the greatest good of the greatest number will be found by the deliberate extinction of those least fit, that what is available may be reserved to those who can make best use of it. Astronomers tell us there are probably dead worlds whose spectrums tell us that they are of the same material as our own planet and presumably once the abode of sentient beings, for it is unthinkable that of all the worlds which occupy space which has no confines, the small planet which we inhabit alone supports sentient life. What tragedies darkened the last centuries of life in those dying worlds or what may happen to our own remote descendants happily we cannot know, but human experience does not enable us to conceive of any physical structure which does not ultimately resolve itself into its primal elements. On our own planet we know of forms of once vigorous life which utterly perished by reason of physical changes which we cannot


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