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- The Inhumanity of Socialism - 4/7 -


noticeable increase of mortality among the least efficient. The mortality tables have not yet been studied in their relations to this subject, but in time they will be. In Australia, mostly unsettled, the eight hour day is easy. If enforced in China the mortality would be awful. But then China has great but untouched natural resources to be developed by machinery devised elsewhere, and whose development will decrease mortality, while at the same time, at least for a long period, permitting more leisure. These conditions tend to equalize themselves throughout the world and in time the contest between humanitarian instincts and economic pressure will reach a world-wide equilibrium through the operation of natural law. What will happen then I do not know. Neither can any of us know.

What we do know is that in each generation the aggregate of human happiness will be in a direct ratio with production per capita, up to the limit of the ability of the earth to produce food. We also know that the rate of production per capita will increase or decrease in a direct ratio with the amount of human energy devoted to production and not wasted in confiict, whether individual, class or international.

Each generation must work out its own problems in its own way. As population grows denser, individual freedom must more and more give way to collective restraint and direction. We in the cities have less freedom than those of the country, and the greater the city the more the individual impulse must be subordinated to collective control.

But we must never attempt to supplant individual selfishness, inspiring individual initiative and energy by any form of community ownership or direction which destroys or lessens opportunity for the more competent and especially the economically exceptional man. You would create thereby a machine operated by machinists for the accomplishment of machine purposes which are the purposes, good or bad as the case may be, of the individual operators who have never been and are not likely to be the economically competent.

For our generation the problem is, while not restricting either the opportunity or the reward of the economically competent, to compel the predatory and extortionate among them to behave decently, so that others of their class may do so without ruin - to which end, in my judgment, jail sentences and not fines will be most effective.

And likewise, to compel the ill-disposed and violent among the economically ineffective, to obey the laws or suffer the consequences.

To bother our heads much less about Social theories, whose premises it is impossible to establish, and much more about the practical relief of the unfortunate by both individual and collective action and suppression of parasitism among both rich and poor.

To encourage and promote the organization of interests, not for contention, but for cooperation.

To fully recognize, that only by personal exertion according to his ability does any one earn the right to live, but that the reward of exertion will be and should be apportioned, not in the ratio of energy displayed, but in that of its effectiveness and usefulness to Society.

To learn to differentiate between that reasonable discontent which is the mainspring of human progress, and that unreasonable discontent which is the destruction of Society.

And finally, each of us according to his ability and opportunity, to practice and inculcate respect for the law, the maintenance of order, regard for the rights of others, admiration for the successful, sympathy with the unfortunate, charity for all, hope for humanity, joy in the simple life and contentment therewith.

[1] See Note 2.

[2] The accuracy of this reference was challenged by a young Socialist, after the address. I have not read Capital for many years but think I cannot be far wrong in my statement and, in any case, the conception as stated, whether accurately Marxian or not, is the conception of all who give vitality to Socialism in this country. Hence, I do not take the time to verify my recollection. I am a busy man and it is no light thing to tackle Capital with intent to extract its precise meaning. Multitudes who have tried it have failed. Perhaps I was one of them. Of course Marx recognized the value of Labor other than manual, but his appeal was to manual workers and it is mainly they who have responded.

[3] Some of these counts would bear subdividing but they would come out all right. Any syllogism will come out all right when you assume the premises.

A Critique of Socialism

To the Ruskin Club

When your Mr. Bamford wrote me that the Ruskin Club was out hunting trouble, and that if I would come over here the bad men of the club would "do me up," I confess my first impulse was to excuse myself from the proffered hospitality. In the first place, as I have never posed as a social champion I had no reputation at stake and I was horribly afraid. Secondly, while my reading of Socialist and Anti-Socialist literature is the reverse of extensive, I am very sure that nothing can be said for or against Socialism which has not already been said many times, and so well said that a fair collection of Anti-Socialist literature would make a punching-bag solid enough to absorb the force of the most energetic of pugilists. Finally, the inutility of such a sally presented itself forcibly, since there is, so far as I know, no record of the reformation of a Socialist after the habit is once firmly established. But while at first these considerations were all against my putting on my armor, in the end the instinct of eating and fighting, which is as forceful in the modern savage, under the veneer of civilization, as in our unpolished progenitors, overcame all considerations of prudence, and here I am to do battle according to my ability. I promise to strike no foul blows and not to dodge the most portentous of whacks, but to ride straight at you and hit as hard as I can.

A Critique of Socialism

While it is doubtless true that no one can live in the world without in some degree modifying his environment, it is also true that the influence of a single person is seldom appreciable or his opinion upon Social questions of sufficient importance to excite curiosity, but I confess that when I listen to an address intended to be thoughtful, I enjoy it more or at any rate endure it better, if I have some knowledge of the mental attitude of the speaker toward his general subject. Thinking that possibly those who hear me this evening may have the same feeling, I begin by saying that I earnestly favor a just distribution of comfort. I suppose that if I should analyze the mental processes leading to that wish, I should find toward the bottom a conviction that if each had his due I should be better off. The objection to the Socialistic program is that it would prevent a just distribution of comfort.

Some years ago in a book of which I was guilty, I wrote the following: "There is implied in all Socialistic writing the doctrine that organized man can override, and as applied to himself, repeal the fundamental law of Nature, that no species can endure except by the production of more individuals than can be supported, of whom the weakest must die, with the corollary of misery before death. Competitive Society tends to the death of the weakest, Socialistic Society would tend to the preservation of the weak. There can be no question of the grandeur of this conception. To no man is given nobler aspirations than to him who conceives of a just distribution of comfort in an existence not idle, but without struggle. It would be a Nirvana glorious only in the absence of sorrow, but still perhaps a happy ending for our race. It may, after all, be our destiny. Nor can any right-minded man forbear his tribute to the good which Socialistic agitation has done. No man can tell how much misery it has prevented, or how much it will prevent. So, also, while we may regret the emotionalism which renders even so keen an intellect as that of Karl Marx an unsafe guide, we must, when we read his description of conditions for which he sought remedy, confess that he had been less a man had he been less emotional. The man whom daily contact with remediable misery will not render incompetent to always write logically, I would not wish to know. But it is the mission of such men to arouse action and not to finally determine its scope. The advocate may not be the judge. My animus is that I heartily desire most if not all the ends proposed by abstract Socialism, which I understand to be a perfectly just distribution of comfort. If, therefore, I am a critic of Socialism, I am a friendly critic, my objections to its progress resting mainly on a conviction that it would not remove, but would intensify, the evils which it is intended to mitigate." That is quite sufficient in regard to the personal equation.

There appear to be, unfortunately, as many sects of Socialists as of Christians, and if "Capital" were a more clearly written book I should be of the opinion that it would be as much better for Socialists if all other books on Socialism were destroyed as it would be for Christians and Jews if all books on Theology were destroyed, except the Bible. By Socialism I mean what some Socialist writers call "Scientific Socialism." "Marxism," it might be called. "Humanism," I think Marx would have preferred to call it, and I believe did call it, for he dealt with abstract doctrine applicable to men and not to nations, and his propaganda was the "International." Incidentally, as we pass on, we may notice in this connection the dilemma of American Socialists which they do not seem to realize. State Socialism has no logical place in a Socialistic program, for it merely substitutes the more deadly competition of nations for that of the individual, or even "trust" competition now existing, while Humanism, or Marxism, tends to a uniform condition of humanity which the American proletariat would fight tooth and nail because they would rightly believe that for them it would at present be a leveling down instead of leveling up.

Karl Marx was, of course, not the inventor of Socialism, nor was he, so far as I know, the originator of any of its fundamental doctrines, - the doctrine, for example, that all value is derived from Labor was part of mediaeval clericism, - but be first reduced it to coherent form and published it as a complete and definite system, and upon the issues, substantially as he formulated and left them, must Socialism stand or fall.

I must assume the members of the Ruskin Club to be familiar with the Marxian fundamental propositions, which I do not state because I shall confine my attack to the three derived propositions about which discussion mainly centers. We certainly do not want an exercise in serious dialectics after dinner, but I will say in passing that I do not think that any of his fundamental propositions are true, or that his


The Inhumanity of Socialism - 4/7

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