A. (Albert) Schäffle.

The quintessence of socialism online

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political economy? This discussion is not with-
out importance, in the face of the gradual
growth of establishments organised by the public
authority, even in the province of the social
circulation of material, which consists of the
production and transference of commodities. If



SOCIALISM. 125



a good economical system of collective produc
tion were devised, which is as yet a long way
off from being the case {vide my " Bau und
Leben," vol. iii.),' it would still not have been
proved that it ought to be introduced suddenly
and exclusively, without any regard to the
many, perhaps more important, extra-economical
interests, which nevertheless might still stand
forbiddingly in its path. If ever an ordered
system of collective production be unfolded in
the distant future, its success would certainly
be only slowly achieved, and certainly far more
by the process of the self-annihilation of capital
in competition, and by the self-dissolution of
the dominant liberal capitalistic system of
business, than by the victory of the barricade ;
far more by the necessity of self-preservation,
realised by the whole state, than by a violent
blow from beneath. But, till then, there is still
no doubt a long time to wait.

Practically, too, the democratic collective
system has rendered an essential service,
namely, by critically and politically suggesting
the "positive social reform," which has been
taken in hand by the government in Germany
since the last edition of the " Quintessence " was



126 SOCIALISM.



published. The present author has meanwhile
expressed his views respecting the whole extent
of the problem of this " positive social reform,"
in three little pamphlets : "The Hopelessness of
Social Democracy" (three letters), "Compulsory
Incorporated Benefit Funds," and " The In-
corporation of Mortgage Credit."

The writings are perhaps adapted to convince
the reader that the "social question" includes
to-day, as at all times, in a complicated whole,
many particular problems in relation to reform,
a multiplicity of particular social questions,
and that the solution of these cannot take place
through the overthrow of society as it is by the
introduction of a radically new society, but only
through the progress of existing society and of
its law. To the legitimate demand of social
democracy, that there shall be furnished even
to the proletariat of industry, as a result of
their labour, a position worthy of manhood,
and something more than the barely necessary
share of the produce of the national labour
community ; that the abuse of the superiority
of capital and of credit shall be averted ; that
a sense of joint responsibility in relation to
poverty and misfortune shall be awakened ;



SOCIALISM. 127



that a public economic management shall be
introduced, in so far as the capitalistic economy-
becomes actually useless, — to this demand the
most complete satisfaction can be given in the
way of positive gradual reform, without sup-
pressing capital in the shape of private property,
but rather by generalizing it. Particulars of
the process will be found in the pamphlets
just mentioned. In the present book our task
was not to furnish a critical refutation of, nor
yet a positive (reformatory) attack upon, social
democracy, but to portray and open up the circle
of thought presented by the collective principle,
whether democratic or not democratic.



Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.



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Online LibraryA. (Albert) SchäffleThe quintessence of socialism → online text (page 7 of 7)