Laurence Gronlund.

The coöperative commonwealth in its outlines. An exposition of modern socialism online

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himself: " 1 aui on too high a plane to be affected by any
temptation to steal/' Of course he is! With a yearly salary
of $20.00(J there is for him every temptation to refrain from steal-
ing. Is his then anything but a b> negative"' virtue? He should
not. like the pharisee of old, speak so superciliously of his
'• lofty plane," until he was in want of the necessaries and de-
cencies of life, with no honest way open to him to procure
them. We have in the foregoing seen what the '• lofty plane*'
of his congregation amounts to; their principal virtue per-
haps consists in hating so heartily the offences of other people,
not in their set.

The difference between our so called " virtuous" and "vi-
cious'" classes is far more a difference of temptation than of
virtue. The virtuous person can pride himself on very little
else than negative virtues; he is virtuous because everything
tempts him to be virtuous. Even so we want eveiybody, even
the meanest of men. to be tempted, and the Coming Common-
wealth will so tempt all.

Now we pass over to sympathy, the crown of Morals.

We have frequently throughout this work had occasion to
quote from Herbert Spencer. The reason is, that he is truly
the most profound of recent English philosophers, that his
influence on all liberal minds in our country has been very
great, and that we cannot conceive of any better way of prop-
agating socialist ideas than to show them to be the logical out-
come of the best modern thoughts. And Spencer's later phil-
osophy is really socialist. The best socialist lessons can be
drawn from his latest work : kt Data of Ethics," and especially
from the chapter on Sympathy.

Sympathy is fellow-feeling. To sympathize is to make the
pleasure and pain of our fellows our own; the former we do
willingly, the latter unwillingly. We naturally sympathize
with pleasant, joyful people; we with difficulty sympathize
with sorrowful and miserable persons. Anyone can easily
convince himself of the truth of this, by one day attending a
funeral and the next day a wedding.

J t is therefore but natural that sympathy grows, if those


around us habitually manifest pleasure and but rarely pain,
while it decreases, if we ordinarily witness little pleasure and
much pain. It is also natural that sympathy at present grows
but little, since the life usually led under our present conditions
is such that suffering is daily inflicted or daily displayed by

And please observe that sympathy and pity are two greatly
different things. Sympathy requires equality ; pity regards
the object not only as suffering, but as weak, hence as inferior;
therefore the distresses of those beneath us excite only the same
sentiment as that with which we regard the suffering of an
over worked cart-horse. It is just because the occasional so-
called "charities" of the wealthy have their motive in pity
and not in sympathy, that they lack all moral value, though
the following remarks of Prof. Adler are also true: "Of
what avail would it be if one of the members of the great
monopoly which I have recently described were to found an
orphan asylum or to build a hospital? Should we really be
willing to clap hands as many are supposed to do and cry, Oh,
how charitable the man is! Why, he has not begun to give
back to society what he has taken from it in the first instance,
much less that he should claim credit to himself for his char-
itableness." In such cases " charity " is nothing but hush-

And for the very reason that there can be no sympathy with-
out equality, we in a former chapter denounced the subjection
of emploj r e to employer as demoralizing. We now wish to
speak of a relation than which nothing in the present consti-
tution of Society is more essentially vicious and morally in-
jurious : the relation of domestic servants to their '• masters "
and '• mistresses." We called the wage-workers' condition
substantial slavery; that of servants is servitude in substance
and forin.

American society has wofully retrograded in this respect.
In the beginning of this century Americans spoke of their
"help;" now it is everywhere " servants! " This is not a
mere difference of words, but involves a degradation in posi-
tion. The servant drops hersurname, a veritable degradation, for


It marks her as a person henceforth of no social account ; she is
spoken to only to receive orders ; she abandons family life, an
ordeal not required by out-door workers; she is day and night
subject to the bidding of master and mistress, and may be
called to account for every hour out of the twenty-four. We
think it very much to the credit of American women, that they
refuse thus to degrade themselves. They are in pleasing con-
trast to the so-called " men " who consent to perform menial
services for others for — money, or who even with apparer. v
satisfaction act as the liveried flunkeys of our money-baga
Our wage-workers at least keep alive the spirit of discontent
but who ever imagined that our flunkeys could be rebels?

We cannot withstand the temptation once more to bring foi
ward our friend, the uncompromising abolitionist, to point i
moral. He, by nature the kindest of men. a champion of tlit
Eights-of-Man theory, once commended the English mon-ser-
vants compared with American specimens and said : a when
I pay a man to be a servant, I want him to be a servant/'
Suppose a slave-holder once upon a time bad said in his hear-
ing : " I bought him for a slave and I want him to be a slave "
what would be have thought of such an argument? Thus
tbis system of rich and poor, of master and servant, demoral-
izes the best of us, for it nourishes our "'love of lording it,"
which is the greatest obstacle to the growth of sympathy.

It is. moreover, evident tbat the insolent individualism which
is the moving power of our present industrial system necessa-
rily stifles all sympathetic sentiments. It incites men to pur-
sue their individual happiness in complete indifference to their
follows. When Herbert Spencer was here, he told us that he
had observed, that Americans do not resent small trespasses.
Why, if any passer-by would resent having to force his tortu-
ous way on sidewalk *, crowded with boxes, or having his face
and clothes covered with the sweepings from our stores, he
would make himself ridiculous ! Spencer got the cart before
the hor«e. Every individual bore is a sovereign and says like
Vanderbilt: u the dear public be damned!" — and acts accoro-

Sympathy however has proven itself a far stronger forcv

MORALS. 21 ( J

than individualism. The views we now hold on the subject
of Slavery compared with those held by the good and wise of
old prove the growth of sympathy during the whole historic
period of man. And please mark, that even during this indi-
vidualistic, sceptical age, in which integrity has so wofully
deteriorated, sympathy has constantly been on the increase.
The evidences thereof are on every side. Look at all the hu-
mane institutions in every nook and corner of our land — asy-
lums and hospitals for every sort of misfortune and malady.
Consider how ready men were to inflict bodily tortures a couple
of centuries back and how anxious we now are to avoid doing
so. Think of the penal code of medieval England and contrast
therewith our treatment of criminals. Observe finall}* the rel-
ative frequency of the crimes themselves: while crimes
against property have notoriously increased, those of brutality
and passion have just as evidentby grown less as well in num-
ber as in atrocity.

Just as we did not have to go very far to look for the reason
of the backward state of integrity, so the reasons for the growth
of sympathy are easy to find. Pain has been constant 1 .}- on
the decrease and pleasure as constantly on the increase; that
is to say. we are much better clad, sheltered and fed than our
ancestors were ; many plagues which decimated our tore lathers
during the Middle Ages have been entirely extirpated; many
others of their diseases have been considerably alleviated.
Thus, again, we find our principal proposition substantiated,
that it is material prosperity that is the basis for all improve-
ment, that economic relations are the foundation of even the
highest form of morals.

And in this conquest of sympathy over individualism we have
another evidence, of the most convincing force, that we are irre-
sistably drifting towards Socialism. Why. even Spencer foresees
"an advanced social state where the manifestations of pleas-
ure predominate and where sympathy, therefore, will reach a
height that we cannot now imagine."'

And what kind of " advanced social state " has Spencer hero
in his mind ? Hear him !

"The citizens of a large nation, industrially organized, have


reached their possible ideal of happiness when the producing,
distributing and other activities are such, that each citizen
finds in them a place for all his energies and aptitudes while
he obtains the means of satisfying all his desires.

"And we can imagine the eventual existence of a commu-
nity where, in addition, the members are characterized by em-
inent aesthetic faculties, and achieve complete happiness only,
when a large part of life is tilled by aesthetic activities."

In these words Spencer, on whom the word "Socialism"
probably has the same effect that a red cloth has on any healthy
bull, has drawn an admirable picture of — a Socialist State,
our Cooperative Commonwealth.

For in the Commonwealth that we have sketched in the pre-
ceding pages everybody will certainly find "a place for all
his energies and aptitudes''' and obtain " means of satisfying
all his desires."

In that Commonwealth ignorance and uncleanliness will dis-
appear. Even so bodily pains, for we may be sure that med-
ical science and, especially, a developed public l^giene will
very soon have reduced physical suffering to a minimum.

In that Commonwealth will be found that necessary condi-
tion of sympathy which Spencer ignores: substantial, perhaps
absolute, equality. The relation then, corresponding to our
"domestic service,"' will at all events be a moral— a sympathetic
relation: that is. domestics will be incorporated in the family,
as members of it. No one then, surely, will be so slavish as to
accept the position on less honorable terms.

"Is the man crazy?" some will here exclaim, " no one to
black our boots, brush our clothes, sweep our rooms, attend
us lit meals, nurs" our children ! No one to look after our coin-
fort ! No one to answer, when we call 'Put/ * John ' and ' Bridg-
et ! ' That will be a nice sort of life, indeed ! "

We really think you vvillhave to "* look after your comfort "
yourself; most of your fellovvmen, mauy of them far more
worthy than you. now have to do that. At the public places, of
course, you can hav* all your wants supplied and yourself at-
tended to, but murk ! by persons, as much public functionaries
as you yourself will be, and conscious of being so, and


whom you cannot familiarly call "Ben" or "John," ex-
cept on an equal footing. But at home you will have to be
"served" by members of your family and such people whom
your personal qualities will attach to your person.

That Commonwealth, we insist, will be Spencer's " advanced
social state" where sympathy will attain such a growth, that
we now hardly can conceive of it; for we firmly believe with
John S. Mill, that "the prescut wretched social arrangements
are the only hindrances to the attainment by almost all of an
existence, made up of a few and transitory pains and many and
various pleasures."

We have already considered some of the fruits of that high-
er morality which thus will be the natural outcome of better
economic conditions. We may now add that not only
crimes against property, which we discussed under the head
of "integrity." but all forms of crime will probably be prac-
tically unknown

Crime, in all its forms, is an evidence of the neglected re-
sponsibilities of Sociery. exactly as the plagues of the Middle
Ages were the proofs that the laws of health were disregard-
ed. Now we have a daily birth of so many infants, so imbed-
ded in criminality, that you might lay your hands on each and
s.iy, that if not rescued by something akin to a miracle, this
child is, inevitabl}', destined to a criminal career. It is a sad
reflection that infanticide would in their cases be absolute mer-
cy! Yet the State stands by with folded arms, cares not a
straw for them, permitting them to be trained to crime, fur-
nishing them even temptations, until it catches them with its
implacable arms and — strangles them. For mark! children
and young persons — and old persons, too, for that matter —
are led into a criminal career from precisely the same reasons
that keep proper people from such a career : temptation, ex-
ample and love ot approbation.

The New Order will do away with crimes against property —
" legitimate." such as the law now takes no notice of, as well

o a

as ■' illegitimate " — by tempting all the right way. It will do
away with crimes of brutality and passion by its thorc ugh
education and exalted sympathy. For this class of crimes


does, certainly, depend upon the "plane "-up to which one
has been educated. As to such crimes Beecher might, with
propriety, say of himself, that he is on too high a plane ever
to be tempted to commit them, though a given occasion
might prove, that he was mistaken even in that. In other
words, criminals will be found to be what all socalled " nui-
sances" at bottom are: useful matter in wrong places.

Of courso, for the first few generations the New Order will
still have some criminals on its hands. In order to show, that
Socialists are not influenced by any peculiar sentimentality in
favor of criminals, let us state that we perfectly agree with
Herbert Spencer, who would give convicts the barest of boards
to rest on and nothing but cold water to support themselves
on, until they force themselves — by an internal coercion which
they can carry with them out of prison — to work for their
necessaries of life and whatever comforts they desire, with-
out subjecting them to any unnecessary pain and degradation
as now they are subjected to. But that, also, can only be prop-
erly accomplished in the Xew Commonwealth, where convict
labor will become an integral part of the cooperative labor of
Society. Convicts will there,certainly, not be utilized by con-
tractors to paste leather and pasteboard together to make a
thick sole impose upon the public, as is said not to be (infre-
quently the case now.

But the most glorious fruit of this higher morality, the one
that ought to be most highly prized, will be this : that a com-
plete accord, a perfect conciliation, will at last be effected be-
tween two hitherto irreconcilable sentiments, self-love on the
one hand, and regard for our fellow-citizens and the public on
the other.

We have several times impressed upon our readers the fact
that Socialists take human nature as it is and we have claimed
that to be one of their greatest merits. It will also have been
noticed that our Commonwealth is built on self-love in robust
vigor as on its corner-stone. Every man is necessarily his
own centre, we hold; he can, as has been said, no more
displace himself from self-interest than he can leap off his
own shadow.


Now we already have, as Spencer has observed, instances
of complete accord between self-love and love for others. We
find it in the relation of a mother to her child and of the lov-
ing husband to his wife.

Is the mother who is watching day and night over her sick
child and thereby imperilling her own health devoid of self-
love? Is it not the fact that she is exactly gratifying herself
in acting as she does?

Go to the bottom and yon will And that her sacrifice is made
from a direct desire to make it, is made to satisfy an egoistic
sentiment or craving, and the strength of that egoistic senti-
ment is shown in a peculiarly strong light by the adoption of
children by the childless.

In the same manner the husband is truly egoistic, when he
makes sacrifices for the beloved wife.

Now. in the Cooperative Commonwealth, where perfect har-
mony will obtain between the interests of each citizen and
those of the citizens at large, just as it now obtains between
the members of a well-ordered family, there the final develop-
ment of sympathy will in time merge seif-love and regard for
our fellow citizens into a concord, kindred to that between
husband and wife and parent with children. A kindred con-
cord we say, not exactly a like concord.

We shall gain pleasure by giving pleasure, but we shall not
be thinking of the sympathetic pleasure gaiued. but only of
that given. We even shall in the New Commonwealth will-
ingly and with supreme satisfaction do acts of true self-sacri-
fice. The explanation of that seeming contradiction is, that
cases involving self-sacrifice will in that Commonwealth be-
come so rare and therefore so highly prized, that they will be
unhesitatingly preferred and not at all felt as self-sacrificing
acts; just as we even now sometimes hear it said of some-
body : * 4 Let him take the trouble : it pleases him to do so."

It will from all this be seen that we by no means want to
" reform " men. We do not claim that under Socialism men
or women will be any better than they now are or ever have
been. We want to reform their surroundings, the constitution


of Society, the mould in which their lives, thoughts and feel-
ings are east.

Socialists want to make it the interest of all to be honest, to
make it to the advantage of all to furnish their best work,
to make it natural for men to love their neighbors as themselves.

Socialists want all to be able to take a delight in life for its
own sake and in everything that ministers to it, and that is the
end of morals.

" Yes, it is Avell enough to enable people to take delight in
this life. Knt it is related of Samuel Johnson, that he once
exclaimed on being shown over a magnificent estate: ' Ave,
sir! these are the things that make death bitter.' It is vain
to bid men excludethethonghtof immortality from their minds,
and think only of making the best of this life and that is what
we understand Socialists mean them to do. We understand
that Socialists mean to drive religion entirely out of the

Yon misunderstand us, friend! We do not propose to drive
religion out of human life. But what is religion?''

It is with *• religion " as with ** deniocrac}^ ; " to revert to the
foreign words from which they are derived helps us very little
to get h'j the essence of what we mean when we use these
terms. According to its derivation u religion " means the res-
toration of a broken bond, it is understood, between earth and
heaven. Now, that there is a broken bond to restore, was
a fact to our forefathers; at present it is to all but simple-
minded people a theologic fiction. If, however, by " relig-
ion , ' you mean this dogmatic theology, Socialists do propose
to help drive it out. Socialism is the inveterate foe of theolo-
gy — a fact of which the Pope is well aware, wherefore he is
perfectly right in damning it — because Socialism is abreast
with the highest intelligence of the time, and the highest in-
telligence of all progressive countries is at issue with what,
only by a stretch of courtesy, may be called the popular re-
ligion. This, we hold, is a most mischievous state of affairs,
fatal to sincerity, and creating, on the one hand, in the masses
of the people a chilling, conceited scepticism in regard to


everything that cannot he touched or handled, or giving rise,
on the other hand, to sickly spiritual hallucinations. Ai) that
in the future will be needed to drive this theology entirely out
of human life is to continue that " Titanic laughter — thai ter-
rible, side-shaking, throne-and-aitar-shaking laughter'' — which
Kabelais started.

That which is now meant by " religion " is the view we hold
of our relation to the great mystery which is all around us,
in time as well as in ?pace, and the awe we naturally feel when
we think of it. We do not propose to drive religion in
that sense out of the world, because it cannot be done, even
if w r e wanted to. Comte tried it and only succeeded in doing
what children do who are afraid of the darkness: they pull
the bedclothes over their heads and pretend there is no dark-
ness beyond. Nor are Socialists, like the men of the French
Revolution, going to commit such puerile follies, as either to
decree a deity out of existence or decree him back again.

But there is not the least doubt that just as the new econo-
mic system will greatly modify the family-relation, education
and morals, so it will mightily affect religion, as we have now
defined it. For, please mark this important fact, that as mor-
als and education are the fruits of our economic relations, so
religion is the fruit of our morals and education. The latter
are primary : our gods are but the reflections of our moral and
intellectual state. The religion of a nation is the outcome of
its highest intelligence in its most solemn moments.

It cannot be denied that the idea of immortality has hitherto
been an integral element of everything that deserves the name
of religion, that our whole race has and has had a deep and
secret longing for life beyond the grave. This longing may be
tlue to the fact that this world was to the masses a veritable
" vale of tears; " it has at all events been fostered by Cathol-
icism and other so-called u religions/' whose whole strength
consisted in offering a consolation to people who felt misera-
ble here. It is just possible that when men all live to a good ,
old age and get out of this life all the delights which nature
permits, that this longing itself will disappear. But this long-


ing does exist in the breast of mankind at present, and is no-
where stronger than in the Anglo-Saxon race.

Now, whether this longing for and belief in immortality is
to be a part of the religion of the future is impossible to fore-
see. We can only say with Prof. Goldwin Smith :

* 4 Suspense of judgment and refusal to accept the unknown
as known is the natural frame of mind for any one who has
followed the debate with an unprejudiced understanding and
who is resolved to be absolutely loyal to truth. To such a
one existence is an unfathomable and overwhelming mystery.
But let not this suspense of judgment intimate a negative de-
cision. For a negative decision the hour has certainly not yet ar-
rived) especially as the world has hardly yet had time to draw
breath after the bewildering rush of physical discovery."

We may also add, that Science knows as yet next to noth-
ing about the Mind; there are, however, great promises in
that direction in the near future. It is by studying the dis-
turbances of Nature, that Science has succeeded in penetrat-
ing some ot her inmost mysteries, and even so it is by watch-
ing the disturbances of the mind, that Science already has given
us glimpses of hitherto unknown powers of the mind. Thus
by the study of cataleptic patients it has already been demon-
strated, that the Mind has extraordinary capacities, independ-
ent of the orderly agency of its bodily machinery, and that its
perceptions in that condition are as much realities as those of
its ordinary condition. Jt is impossible to say, what light may
not he thrown on the question of personal immortality, when
once this rich mine has been worked out by Science; then "the
hour may have come for a decision,-' one way or the other.
It seems however to us, that the thought of living a thousand
years hence somewhere with personal identity unimpaired,
is so rapturous and so inspiring that mankind will not feel in-
clined to relinquish it until Science lays down its veto.

But whatever may be the fate of the immortality-theory,
we can be pretty sure thet our race will again be practically
unanimous on some religion, as they will be on all important
matters. They probably will never know whether they
have found the objective truth or not. but that is not of


first importance, for observe that religion is subjective^ is the
human view of the mystery and our relation to it; if the mys-
tery is ever revealed it will cease to be an object of religion.
But some theory of life is needed to give harmony, purpose

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Online LibraryLaurence GronlundThe coöperative commonwealth in its outlines. An exposition of modern socialism → online text (page 20 of 23)