Imatges de pàgina

runs through our Parliamentary constituencies. Fortunately, as the King's highway, it is open to all alike.

Now with reference to the constituencies one result of the bidding of our two historical parties against each other for popularity has been the progressive widening of the parliamentary franchise. Without any special regard to intelligence and education, this instrument of political power has been distributed broadcast. At the present time, though wealth remains concentrated in what are relatively few hands, & population of some 43,000,000 sends more than 7,000,000 voters to the ballot, or a proportion in other words of almost one in six. Not content with this, the partisans of the extreme left are pressing forward towards universal adult suffrage, irrespective of the element of sex, so that democracy may be swallowed up in ochlocracy. Now no one, we presume, will seriously contend that either the present electorate, or the leaders of Socialism, are competent judges of the subtle and complex working of economic laws. But this does not affect the fact that the mob orator is free to assume a virtue that he does not possess, that he has withal full liberty of preaching, and that the final decision upon the issues which he presents to them rests with the suffrages of his hearers.

It is scarcely likely that the artisans and working classes of this country will be much concerned with the question whether as an abstract theory Socialism can or cannot be successfully defended. Neither will they necessarily conclude that because in many respects it prefers to remain vague it is therefore summarily to be set aside. What they do naturally wish to know is whether it is good sound business or whether it is imposture. Hitherto their possession of political power has been conspicuously marked by self-control, by patience, by reasonableness, and by intellectual sobriety. They have watched with pride the steady progressive growth of their Trades Unions, and of their various benefit and provident societies. They have seen and appreciated the complete abandonment in high places of the old doctrines of “Laissez faire,' and the descent of the State into the arena of legislative activity to do for the masses the work which they could not do for themselves. But once let them be persuaded by Socialist orators that what is known as “Capitalism' is only a system of organised robbery in disguise, and that so long as it is allowed to last, they are doomed to live their lives deprived of their fair share of the wealth which, as they are every day being taught, has been created by their manual labour alone, and who can say that their new convictions will not presently find a very practical expression in their votes ?

The danger, as it seems to us, cannot honestly be treated as an imaginary one, since it never can be easy to gauge and measure the volcanic forces that underlie the surface of our civilisation. Moreover, in the twilight of ignorance and credulity the Socialist can make the glitter of his wares look for all the world like gold, while at the same time the cleverly painted bladders which float his fairy promises before devouring eyes are but too well calculated to catch the fancy, until they have the ill-luck to get pricked. He can rally, too, round his standard all the inertness and distaste for continuous work, all the shiftless indolence, all the invertebrate and flabby discontent, all the rebellious resentment against the discipline of life, which, not in one class alone, but in many, takes to itself so many various forms. To men whose ears are still tingling, let us imagine, with the proclamation that in manual labour lies the source of all wealth, and that, through to-morrow's reorganisation of that labour, it will be the glorious mission of the proletariat to make manifest the salvation of society, how flat and how tame must sound the trite platitudes of the social reformer with his inevitable vista of years and years of weary patience ! To men who from week to week are sore pressed with anxiety as to how the two ends are to be made to meet, which message is the more likely to attract, the message that deliverance is even now at their very door, or the message that by steady continuance in thrift, and soberness, and industry, and self-reliance, they may make their sons better off than they can ever expect to be themselves ?

If infallible nostrums, and safe short cuts to the restoration of declining health, had not always exercised a strangely potent influence on the pathetic gullibility of human nature, the quacks in this illusive world of ours would not have so distanced the physicians, nor the vendors of patent pills and panaceas so frequently have died millionaires.

Moreover the danger is not by any means confined to the insidiousness of the promises which day by day are being so lavishly poured out to beguile the credulous and the ill-informed. There is an even greater danger wbich lies bebind. There is the quite immeasurable danger that lies hidden in all that these dupes are not told, and in all probability do not even dream of. For the darkest and deadliest side of Socialism is kept veiled and hidden from them, and should they ever vote their deceivers into power the veil will not be lifted till it is too late.

How, then, are the pioneers of Socialism to be met ? It is quite certain that they and their followers will never be scared away by shouting at them. And as for passion and prejudice, these are weapons which will only break in the hands of those who trust in them, Of heat there is already enough and to spare. It is not more heat that is needed but more light, and, what is more important still, a wider diffusion of light. Those of our practical politicians and working organisers, who are firmly persuaded that the advent of Socialism would herald the ruin of all classes in the community alike, would appear to have got a great deal of heavy spade-work before them among the electorate. The enemy has now taken the field in grim and deadly earnest and it is in the open field that he must be fought. Activity, energy and resourcefulness on one side must be met by at least equal activity, energy, and resourcefulness on the other. Organisation must be confronted by organisation, argument by argument, policy by policy, programme by programme, insidious flattery and cajolery by discriminating sympathy, fictions by facts. Thus and in no other way can the attention and confidence of the disquieted masses be caught and be kept. Truth, no doubt, is mighty, and will in the end prevail. But the end is not yet, and among men of little knowledge and of urgent needs, men whose circumstances make them naturally open to any plausibly presented offer, truth will not prevail by its own unassisted weight and efficacy. It needs devoted service, it needs men of public spirit, of warm sympathies, and of solid knowledge, men like the late Arnold Toynbee, to prepare its way, and it requires of them that perseverance in prosaic, ubiquitous, and persistent spade-work without which rank weeds are certain to grow apace.

Up to this point it has been our endeavour to make it evident that Socialism is neither a phantom bogy of our heated imaginations, nor a vague unrest too intangible to be dealt with practically ; but a well-organised political movement, seeking far and wide to win the support of the electorate with the view of using parliamentary power to establish the principles on which the movement is based. And it has further been contended that, in these circumstances, Socialism cannot successfully be met except by a counter-campaign at least equally well equipped, equally in earnest, and organised with equal efficiency..

But, beyond a shadowy indication thrown out here and there, we have as yet said little as to what Socialism is, nor have we attempted to state the grounds on which we are convinced that it is the duty of every loyal and self-respecting citizen to offer to it an uncompromising and unflagging hostility. In what remains of this article, a brief attempt must accordingly be made to make good these omissions.

By Socialism, then, as expounded through its accredited press, we understand that movement which has for its ultimate aim the transfer of the soil, and of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange, from private hands to collective ownership, and to public management and control. This transfer is to be realised, through gradual and progressive stages, by steadily contracting the sphere of the individual while steadily enlarging the activity of the State, in its local no less than in its central form. The private manufacturer is to be ousted from his factory, the landlord deprived of his land, the shipowner of his fleet, and so on through the whole industrial series. Private enterprise, in all its varieties, will thus cease to exist. Every service, of every description, which has any share in providing for the material needs of the community will be exclusively owned and administered by the State, whether directly, or indirectly, through the

province, the municipality, or the parochial commune. There will be no longer any industrial competition. Production for the purpose of gain will give place to production for use only. All products will be warehoused by the State. They will be daily distributed among the citizens as they may give evidence of requiring them. Payment for them will not be in money, for of money there will be none for that purpose. Payment will be in labour-time certificates. Every ablebodied adult of work age will each day have his allotted task of so much work. In return for such work, as measured by labour-time, he will get his certificate, and this certificate will be exchangeable at the national store-centres for its equivalent in the necessaries and conveniences of life. The sole employer will be the State, and all the foremen and superintendents of industry will be State officials. The only private property which will be permissible will be in things for strictly personal use. 'A man,' smiles Mr. Grayson, 'would keep his tooth-brush and tooth-pick. The whole community will thus consist of two classes, the one class including the relatively small and highly centralised body of organisers and captains of industry, the other including all the workers in the hive. The only recognised human relationship will be the relation of the citizens to the State. Domestic relationships, being intertwined with the idea of private property, will be ignored and destroyed. Children, when born, will at once be taken charge of by the national foundling hospitals, and the State will continue responsible for them until they attain the age fixed for labour. Marriage will become an association terminable at the will of either party. Religion will be a department of positive science, and 'all antiquated conceptions based on theological dogma' will cease to occupy men's thoughts. Socialism moreover being essentially international, patriotism and imperialism will be at an end, and humanity will be amalgamated as soon as possible under the red flag of Social-Democracy. Such, in broad outline, will be the Co-operative Commonwealth,' as the Socialist desires to frame it, and its rootprinciple is equality. It forms, so to speak, the social obverse of universal suffrage, and the equality at which it aims is to be engineered into effect by the direct interference of the State with individual liberty and with private property both in respect of production and of distribution.

It may be convenient at this point to give a list of the main enactments and changes which would presumably herald the declaration of the Co-operative Commonwealth.'

(1) The abolition of the Monarchy. (2) The abolition of our Second Chamber. (3) The disintegration of the Empire and abandonment of India. (4) The repudiation of the National Debt.

(5) The cancellation of all financial contracts, whether in respect of land-rents, mortgages, royalties, debenture bonds, or stocks and shares. The vast sums which have been invested out of their savings by the working classes would thus at once be confiscated, and their Voluntary Societies dissolved.

(6) The disbanding of the Regular Army in favour of a Citizen Army.

(7) The disendowment of all endowed bodies.

(8) The revocation or reconsideration of the laws affecting marriage, property, inheritance, and testamentary powers.

(9) The suppression of the independence of the Press. (10) Universal adult suffrage. (11) Parliaments to be dissolved and re-elected at short intervals. (12) Appointments to the judiciary to be made elective.

Now the first difficulty which presents itself with regard to this political and social transformation is a practical one-namely, the difficulty of effecting it. Theorists may talk as they please about economic expropriation,' but the plain fact is that the socialistic scheme is a scheme of dishonesty, robbery, and plunder, on a colossal scale. We should be slow to believe that, in a country like England, such a scheme could ever be established without civil war, or that, if established by some revolutionary coup de main, it could have any reasonable hope of working smoothly or of maintaining itself. For at the bare prospect of a House of Commons pledged to thorough-going Socialism all movable capital would take to itself wings, and the resultant panic would bring the whole edifice of our national life down to the ground by a dislocation of industries and of credit, which must end by involving employers and employed alike in one common ruin. But if, for argument's sake, this initial difficulty be set aside, what has the scheme itself to say in self-defence ? From the point of view of economics its root-principle, as we have said, is equality. Before prosperity and before public benefit must come equality. But such a theory directly contradicts the human nature with which after all it has to deal. Nature has not made us equal, but unequal. Neither in physical health, nor in muscular strength, nor in personal attractiveness, nor in mental powers, 'nor in moral stamina, energy, and endurance, does mankind stand on a common level. Pitchfork human nature out of the industrial hive, and she will immediately return to expose the sheer absurdity of the schemes by which she was to be kept at bay. Or is it equality of opportunity that the new State will offer ? But who, as men are now constituted, will thank it for equality of opportunity when the only really operative inducements to hard work have been destroyed ? The only opportunity of which the citizen under the new bureaucratic régime will be desirous is the opportunity of electing task-masters who will be likely to act with leniency in checking his labour-sheets, and who will let him down in his life of monotonous drudgery as easily as may be practicable.

And if the good of all’ should turn out to be less efficient as a

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