Alfred Raymond Johns.

Socialism; its strength, weakness, problems and future online

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Copyright, 1913, by













Preface 7

Introduction 9

Foreword 15


What Socialism Is Not 17

What Is Socialism? 19


Strength and Attractiveness of Socialism 24

Weakness of Socialism 32

Problems of Socialism 42

Socialism and Religion 51


Socialism and the Liquor Traffic 60


The Future of Socialism 71



Every good citizen of the United States is
deeply interested in the welfare of the country.
The rights of the common people are as vital as
the protection of infant industries. It is often
said that the rich are getting richer and the poor
poorer. That is only a half truth. The rich are
getting richer, but so are the poor getting richer;
but the rich are getting richer faster than the
poor; and while the American workingman re-
ceives the highest wage of any toiler, yet he is not
able to purchase the necessities of life to as good
advantage as the workingman in some other

The relationship between capital and labor has
been strained for generations. There is a "Land
of Eden" somewhere in the realm of figures where
just the correct percentage of profit goes to each
side. But it is difficult to discover the land. With
the strong arm of power, capital grasps much more
than its share, so labor declares. With the strong
arm of the strike and boycott, labor demands too
large a share, so capital asserts. The common



ground, satisfactory to both sides, is difficult to
discover. Men have struggled with the problem,
but the solution is not found except in isolated

As one method suggested for the solving of
nearly all social problems Socialism has been pre-
sented by its friends. It is a scheme to do away
with both capital and labor per se and make every
person both a capitalist and a laborer. It is a
large scheme when fully inaugurated, and it has
its advantages; but the question remains, Is it
practical ? With a warm regard for the laboring
man, with which class he spent all the early years
of his life, and with deep respect for very many
strong and talented men who have pushed industry
up into large success, the writer sends out this
message with an earnest desire that all the good
features of Socialism may be speedily adopted by
the people of the nation, but with just as earnest
a prayer that we may be saved from the complica-
tions and oppressions which the adoption of the
whole scheme would surely bring to us.

A. R. J.

Flint, Michigan, January, 1913.


Socialists insist that because the church does
not advocate their peculiar economic system there-
fore the church is untrue to the teachings of Jesus
Christ. They declare that Socialism is merely
a practical expression of Christian ethics and the
evangel of Jesus, and that Jesus came into the
world primarily to establish a cooperative com-
monwealth which is to be fully realized in Social-
ism. They insist that Karl Marx, the founder
of modern Socialism and a hater of Christianity,
more nearly presents the ideals of Jesus than
does any other man who is not a Socialist, no
matter what else he may believe.

As a matter of fact, nobody can prove from
Scripture that Jesus was the advocate of any social
system. He came neither to establish an ideal
republic nor a Utopian democracy. He came to
establish an absolute monarchy, which shall be
composed of all those who acknowledge his king-

Only those who are blinded by self-interest or
ignorance would declare that the present economic



system is all that one could desire. The United
States is the greatest country in the world so far
as production is concerned, but in the matter of
distribution we are not so fortunate. Practically
all reformers agree with the Socialists, when they
portray the evils which we are fighting ; but many
of them part company when it comes to advocat-
ing a remedy whereby these evils are to be abol-
ished. Surely, the church cannot adopt and advo-
cate Socialism as the only economic system
whereby society is to be saved, because if it were
to do so, it would be an injustice to the Christian
men in the church who are convinced that there
are other economic systems which are more in
accord with their ideas of social reform than is
Socialism. The church does not exist primarily
for the purpose of advocating an economic system.
It gives every man the right to believe as he
chooses concerning such things, so long as there is
nothing immoral or unethical in the program
Avhich he accepts.

When the average man says that he is a "Chris-
tian Socialist" he means to place the emphasis
upon the word "Christian," while the Socialist,
who is looking for his influence and his vote, places
the emphasis on the word "Socialist." Mean-


while that "Christian Socialist'' is giving Social-
ism the credit for his Christianity. There is no
more reason why a man should call himself a
"Christian Socialist" than there is that he should
call himself a "Christian Republican" or a
"Christian Democrat." So-called "Christian
Socialists" frequently try to excuse their position
by appealing to the honored names of Kingsley
and others who described their doctrine, many
years ago, as "Christian Socialism." These men
omit to mention the fact that neither Maurice nor
Kingsley taught a single principle or doctrine of
Marxism or any other kind of modern Socialism.
As Professor Flint remarks: "When they main-
tained that social organization must be preceded
by individual reformation; that trust in state aid
or legislation was a superstition; that self-help
was the prime requisite for the amelioration of
the condition of the working classes ; that coopera-
tion should be voluntary and accompanied by
appropriate education; that, so far from private
property being robbery, it was a divine steward-
ship; and that men could never be joined by
brotherhood, ... but must first feel that they had
one common Father, they struck at the very roots
of Socialism."


What, then, should be the attitude of the church
toward Socialism \ While the church cannot
accept and advocate Socialism, it recognizes the
following facts :

First, that a man has a perfect right to be a
Socialist, if he is convinced that Socialism is mor-
ally and economically sound.

Second, that it is quite possible for a man to
be a Christian and a Socialist too. There are
certain forms of Socialism which are not antag-
onistic to Christianity, although it should be
remembered that there is no necessary relation-
ship between the two — one being an economic
system and the other a religion.

Third, the church does not stand for the present
economic system. It stands only for so much of it
as is in accordance with the principles laid down by
Jesus Christ. The economic system under which
we are living is not ideal. There is much in it
which must be remedied, and good men everywhere
must seek to bring about a fairer condition in be-
half of the toilers. This will never be accom-
plished by soup-kitchens and bread-lines. Work-
ingmen demand justice, and they are right.

Fourth, the church does not preach the gospel
of Jesus Christ in order to make men satisfied


with their present economic condition, nor because
they desire to offer it as a mere sop. It does not
preach this gospel, fearful lest workingmen are
about to bring about a great revolution, but it
preaches the same gospel with all of its hopes and
aspirations, as well as its duties and obligations to
workingmen and employers alike.

Charles Stelzle.
New York City, February, 1013.


When Karl Marx issued his volumes on Cap-
ital, about 1848, he laid the foundations upon
which Socialism has been constructed. His ideas
rooted in Germany, and when he was exiled to
England he carried with him the principles of
Socialism, and shortly they were finding a lodg-
ing place in the minds of the working classes there.
Soon they were winning a hearing in France,
Austria, and Italy, but they did not find much
favor in the United States until many years later,
and it is only within the last ten or fifteen years
that Socialism has attracted any particular atten-
tion here. I shall have very little to say regarding
the Socialism of Europe, but shall confine the
discussion almost entirely to its growth and char-
acteristics in America.

The Socialistic vote in the United States has

been as follow? :

1892 21,164

1896 36,274

1900 87,814

1904 402,283

1908 420,464

1912 900,672



Leading Socialists proclaim that were it not for
the organization of the new party in 1912 their
vote would have swept far past the million mark,
and they are freely predicting that within a com-
paratively few years they will have control of
Congress and a President in the White House.

Professor Iloxie, of the University of Chicago,
claims that there are now over a thousand Social-
ists holding office in thirty-six different States, and
that there are fifty cities with Socialistic mayors,
and three hundred towns which have one or more
aldermen belonging to the party.

Socialism is therefore so strong that every
citizen should be informed regarding it. This is
an attempt at a sane, practical, unprejudiced dis-
cussion of what Socialism really is, and the results
that would follow should it ever be adopted.


What Socialism Is iSTot

There are serious misapprehensions concern-
ing Socialism in the minds of many people. Some
associate it with communism, anarchism, or even
nihilism. It is safe to say, however, that real
Socialism has little or nothing in common with
any of them. Nihilism is negative, destructive,
annihilative, and has no constructive policy what-
ever. Anarchism advocates entire lack of either
law or government. It denies the right of govern-
ment to govern, and argues that society has no
rights over the individual. The red flag of
anarchism means blood, war, riot, while the red
flag of Socialism is intended to typify the rich,
red blood of a common brotherhood. Communism
seeks a condition of society where everything is
held in common, or where there is as absolute a
condition of equality as can possibly be, even to
common ownership of income. Socialism holds
for individual incomes. Socialism has much in
common with communism, but it is not commun-
ism. The old story illustrates the point :



Pat asked Mike what Socialism was.

"Does it mane whin yez hav two houses yez will
giv me wan ?"

"Sure," said Mike.

"Does it mane whin yez hav two cows yez will
giv me wan ?"

"Sure," again replied Mike.

"Does it mane whin yez hav two pigs yez will
giv me wan ?" asked Pat.

"O, go on wid yez," said Mike; "yez know I've
got two pigs."

Now, the men were discussing communism, and
not Socialism, although many people confuse the
two. The aim and purpose of Socialism, as
defined by its advocates, is to produce a condition
of society that wall prevent both dire poverty and
inordinate private wealth; and while Socialism
has a communistic tendency, there is no disposi-
tion to have the rich divide with the poor directly.
The purpose is to bring about such a condition of
society that no person could be either very rich or
very poor.

What Is Socialism ?

It is not easy to answer this question, for
Socialism is an intricate scheme and assumes
somewhat different forms in separate places.
Primarily, it is an industrial movement, and it is
this phase of the propaganda that should be cred-
ited with the responsibility for its growth. The
following is often given as a short, terse defini-
tion : "Socialism is the collective ownership of all
the social means of production, distribution, and
exchange and the democratic management of the

The Socialists object to the term "government
ownership," and much prefer the expression,
"collective ownership," or ownership by all of the
people. The following quotation from one of their
newspapers gives their own definition of what
Socialism is:

1. Collective ownership of the means of producing and
distributing wealth, such as mines, lands, factories, rail-
roads, mail, express, telegraph, and telephone service,
light, water, and heating plants, etc., so that private



monopoly, giaft, and extortion would be impossible,
and rent, interest, and profit will be abolished, and all
may have the full product of their labor.

2. Private ownership of wealth, such as homes, ve-
hicles, furniture, books, pictures, etc., according to the
value of one's labor. Socialism means the public owner-
ship of capital, the private ownership of the products
of one's labor; the public ownership of the means of
life; the private ownership of life itself.

3. Direct legislation through the initiative, referendum,
and imperative recall, so that the people themselves
may rule promptly as they please in spite of councils,
Legislatures, Congresses, or courts.

4. A new system of money, issued by the government
alone and limited so that it will be a true medium of
exchange only, not a medium of exploitation as now.

The basic principles of Socialism are contained
in the first two statements above. The last two are
merely corollaries. Professor Richard T. Ely has
given ns four important principles of Socialism in
his volume on Socialism and Social Reform. He
says, first it means "Common ownership of the
material instruments of production." All Social-
ists agree on this. The moment anything serves
as a means of income that moment the state must
step in and own that thing, whatever it is. At
the present time the government, for the people,
owns the Panama Canal, the lakes and rivers, the
highways, the mail system, the public schools, the


army and navy, and oftentimes public buildings
used for public purposes, such as armories, post
offices, courthouses, city halls, etc. As Socialism
prevails, the telegraph and telephone lines, gas
and water plants, railroads, mines, factories,
shops, farms, stores, and everything producing
wealth, or where wealth is produced, would all
come under the control and ownership of the state,
and the state would be the only employer of labor
in the country. That is the first and most impor-
tant principle of Socialism.

The second principle of Socialism, according
to Professor Ely, is, "Common management in
production." This means supervision and state
authority over every factory, mine, shop, farm,
office, store, or other place where labor is per-
formed or man or woman employed. It must
include restaurants, hotels, rooming houses, barber
shops, bowling alleys, rinks, theaters, circuses,
and everything else which human ingenuity has
devised as a method of earning a livelihood. As
there could be no private property producing an
income, every person would have to be employed
at some task in order to provide himself a living,
and thus every person would be in the employ of
the people and working for the government.


The third principle of Socialism, according to
Professor Ely, is, "Distribution of income by the
common authority." That, of course, would fol-
low from the other two principles. Xo person or
corporation could have any employees except the
government, and the state would have to see that
every j)erson had some employment from which he
would receive sufficient income in order to live.
As women take their place by the side of men as
equals in every way under Socialism, the govern-
ment would have to provide work and an income
for every woman as well as for every man. Early
in their propaganda the Socialists argued that, no
matter what the work, all incomes should be equal.
That seemed to be ideal and brotherly. The diffi-
culties which that theory led them into, however,
have finally compelled them to modify the plan,
and now very few of them argue for an equal

The fourth principle of Socialism, according
to Professor Ely, is, "Private property in the larg-
est proportion of income." By that is meant that
each person would have the spending of his own
money, and have absolute ownership of his per-
sonal property as long as he did not use it as a
source of revenue. Whenever any personal pro])-


erty becomes a source of revenue the state would
have to assume control of it. A man might own
his own house under Socialism, but he could not
rent a room in it, nor take a boarder, for that
would be a private source of wealth, which is
entirely contrary to the very fundamental prin-
ciples of Socialism. The state will have to pro-
vide homes and rooms for all who need them, and
restaurants and hotels for all who apply.

While Socialism is not communism, yet the
ideals of Socialism are that there shall not be
great differences between people in either wages,
incomes, homes, or conditions of living. The fol-
lowing definition of Socialism, given by Dr.
Stelzle, is absolutely correct: "Socialism is the
ownership by the people of all the means of pro-
duction, distribution, and exchange, democratic-
ally administered." That is Socialism.


Strength and Attractiveness of

The very growth of Socialism is sufficient proof
that it has attractiveness.

1. One of the greatest sources of its strength is
that it has a program which includes every man,
woman, and child, and presents a theory of living
which guarantees to solve the problem for every-
one. Anvthinc; that advertises to do that will
attract attention and gain followers, for the prob-
lem of making a living is a serious one to most
people. There have been a good many plans
launched to help a few people, or some people, or
certain classes of people, but never before a scheme
to lift up a whole nation and a world. Insurance
companies are an aid to those who are protected by
their policies ; secret societies reach out a helping
hand to those who are members of the particular
order; trades unions plan to be an aid to those who
join ; but Socialism comes with a scheme for wip-
ing out the slums and poor tenements, for anni-
hilating poverty and raising the submerged tenth,



for unseating the plutocrats and destroying the
caste and class idea, and for making the nation,
and finally the world, one big family of brothers
and sisters, all on a common level — the children
of a multimillionaire paternal government !

Such a scheme is attractive to many people, for
most folks are struggling at great odds for a liveli-
hood, and the materials for to-morrow's dinner are
nowhere in sight. Many people feel themselves to
be the under dog in a very unequal fight, and the
future looks dark and hopeless. The very poor
and the moderately poor compose the majority of
the population. The rainy day is coming, and
there is no financial umbrella in the savings bank
which can be used to keep off the rain in the
approaching storm.

To such Socialism comes with its roseate-hued
pictures of ease and plenty and the proletariat
cry, "A master artist has come!" As dry, desert
sands absorb water, so the poor drink in the mes-
sage of Socialism. It places women on an equal
plane with men ; it has a plan for retiring people
at about sixty years of age upon a comfortable
pension ; it guarantees to provide liberally for the
aged, crippled, infirm, feeble, and all those unable
to provide for themselves, and as the soap-box


orator proclaims such things he makes converts

2. Then Socialism is a scheme for preventing
the tremendous waste of competition. Under our
present system this waste is immeasurably appall-
ing. The railroads furnish a striking example.
Professor Ely estimates that the competitive lines
between Chicago and Xcw York alone have cost
$200,000,000 to build and equip, or sufficient to
erect 200,000 homes at a cost of $1,000 each!
The running expenses of competing lines entail a
continuous waste. In our country alone the waste
in building and equipping railroads has run into
an estimated thousand million of dollars, or suffi-
cient to provide a comfortable home for every
person in the land !

But railroads arc only one source of this waste
in competition. A similar drain, if not as large,
is found everywhere. Competing telegraph and
telephone lines, gas works, factories manufactur-
ing stoves, furnaces, furniture, vehicles, glass,
crockery, and clothing all add to the waste. Each
article must be advertised ; traveling men must go
from place to place at large expense to sell, and
we have a thousand stores and merchants engaged
in business where a few could supply every


demand of the public if conveniently located and
organized. A dozen milkmen cross and recross a
city, taking the time and labor of three men where
one man would do were the routes systematized.
All this cost of manufacturing, advertising, sell-
ing, delivering, maintaining must be paid even-
tually by the consumer — and it is pure waste!
The trend of modern business methods is toward
concentration. Ten thousand articles can be
made at a smaller cost per article than a hundred.

Under Socialism every article of commerce
would be manufactured in central factories in
large quantities and distributed from the factories
directly to retail dealers. There would be no
competition in either manufacture or sale, there-
fore no need of advertising, salesmen, or middle-
men. The scheme looks quite ideal on paper, and
soimds well from the street corner. The Social-
ists also claim that there would be no waste from
strikes, lockouts, shutdowns, riots, etc., where now
millions of dollars are worse than lost.

3. A third source of the strength of Socialism
is in its scheme for a more equal division of the
world's wealth, preventing vast riches on the one
hand and dire poverty on the other. Everyone
will freely admit that there is much that is unsatis-


factory in our present distribution. Here is a
gilded youth, the son of a rich father, who races
through the town in a big red automobile, and who
spends a thousand dollars in one night in a drink-
ing and gambling debauch with like companions
and fast women. His life is a stench to the com-
munity, and he has never done an honest day's
work in his life nor earned an honest dollar.
Over there is a beautiful girl with latent talent for
culture and refinement, but she is compelled to
stand behind a counter for nine hours a day for
six days of the week in order to earn the five
dollars which will make possible her support, when
added to the aid received from her father. All
that is holy within us revolts at the injustice, but
the injustice continues. If there is any remedy,
under our present system, it has not yet been dis-
covered and applied.

Under Socialism there will doubtless be gilded
youths, but the fathers will not be millionaires!
Fast young men will have some work to do in
order to earn a living, for the theory is a man for
every job and a job for every man. There will be
no "Weary Willies" around at the back door beg-
ging for a "handout," neither will there be any
still more "Weary Willies" in the front parlor


gushing small talk with the "Languid Lillians" —
idle daughters of the idle rich — for every woman
must also work if she w r ould live. Of course, with
the short hours of labor promised, there will be
much time for visiting and social intercourse, but
each person will be a laborer ! The Bible teaches
that if a man will not work, neither should he eat,
and it is wholesome doctrine. The world is no
place for a young man with muscle and brains who
is "retired" and living as a parasite upon the
interest of the capital his father wrested from the
sweat of other generations even though the father
himself did sweat in order to win.

Socialism looks with great disfavor upon the
legacy and recommends that all estates be absorbed
by the government in three or four generations,
by a heavy inheritance tax. It thus would bring

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Online LibraryAlfred Raymond JohnsSocialism; its strength, weakness, problems and future → online text (page 1 of 4)