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aside the war spirit, and that the trade unions of
to-day will become in the future not only peace-
able but peace-makers. Where labor is organized,
there it is best paid, there it is best educated,
there, for the most part, it does its work best. The
progress of the nineteenth century is in the direc-
tion of a larger education and better organization
both of caj)ital and labor. The days of pure indi-
vidualism are over.

Moreover, we have incipient organizations of
capital and labor combining together for a com-
mon end. We have them in j^rofit-sharing, in
cooperation, in schemes of arbitration, sometimes
successful, sometimes failures, but always with a
better spirit of brotherhood beneath them and in
them than in that old spirit of antagonistic selfish-
ness which gives the reward only to the strong and
death to the weak.^

Socialism, then, — though I do not define it, —

1 See, throughout, Sidney and Beatrice Webb's History of
Tra des- Un io n is m .

^ To these considerations should be added, in any comprehen-
sive survey of the age, a consideration of the growth of organi-
zations for philanthropic or guasz-philanthropic purposes, but
wholly voluntary. The following note is condensed from an arti-
cle by Prince Krapotkin in the Nineteenth Century for August,
1887 ; it is far from complete ; indeed, it is little more than a
suggestion of a class whose number is legion : —

" The Dutch Bunden, extending now their organizations over



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 123

I take to be a reaction against the excessive indi-
vidualism of the past.i It exists in widely different
forms. It includes the Christian Socialist, who

the rivers of Germany, and even to the shipping trade of the
Baltic.

" The sindicats of France.

" The Lifeboat Association, which has saved no less than 32,000
lives.

•' The Hospitals Association, and hundreds of like organiz^a-
tions.

" Societies for all possible kinds of studies ; for gymnastics, for
shorthand-writing, for the study of a separate author, for games
and all kinds of sports.

" Societies which encroach on what was formerly the domain
of the state or the municipality.

" Free federation of independent communes, for temporary or
permanent purposes, lies at the very bottom of Swiss life, and to
these federations many a part of Switzerland is indebted for its
roads and fountains, its rich vineyards, well-kept forests, and
meadows, which the foreigner admires. And besides these small
societies, substituting themselves for the state within some lim-
ited sphere, do we not see other societies doing the same on a
much larger scale ?

" An army of volunteers, which surely might stand against any
army of slaves obeying a military despot.

" The Red Cross Society."

1 " We have been afflicted by an exaggeration of individualism,
and the next century will show that human society is greater and
nobler than all that which is merely individual. This doctrine,
which has its foundation in the laws of nature and of Christianity,
is accused of Socialism by the frivolous and impetuous, as well as
by the capitalists and the rich. But the future will call forth
into the light of reason the social state of the world of labor. We
shall then see on what laws the Christian society of humanity
rests." Cardinal Manning, quoted in Nitti's " Catholic Socialism,"
pp. 315, 316.

"Socialism differs from individualism both in method and in
aim. The method of socialism is cooperative ; the method of



124 CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

believes that Christianity is a social religion, and
that the principles and j^recepts of Jesus Christ,
carried out in social organizations, will revolu-
tionize the present social order, as it has revo-
lutionized social order in the past ; the " Socialist
of the Chair," so called, — that is, the scientific
Socialist, — who believes that the political eco-
nomy of the past has been unscientific, because
not inductive, and who desires by a careful investi-
gation of social phenomena to form a basis for a
new social science ; and the state Socialist, ^vho
believes that the state should own all the imple-
ments of industry, and control and direct all indus-
trial functions ; in other words, that the community
should be the sole capitalist, and all men should be
laborers in its employ. The first form of social-
ism may be described as a religious sentiment, the
second as a philosophical method, the third as a
politico-social doctrine.

Socialism and Christianity, then, agree in two
fundamental respects. They both aim to secure

individualism is competitive. The one reg-ards man as working-
with man for a common end ; the other reg-ards man as working-
against man for private g-ain. The aim of socialism is the fulfill-
ment of service ; the aim of individualism is the attainment of
some personal advantage, riches, place, or fame. Socialism
seeks such an organization of life as shall secure for every one
the most complete development of his powers ; individualism
seeks primarily the satisfaction of the particular wants of each
one, in the hope that the pursuit of private interest will in the
end secure public welfare." Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott,
Address on Socialism at Church Congress at Hull, 1890, Incarna-
tion and Common Life, p. 226.



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 125

the reorganization of society, and such a reorga-
nization of society as shall give a greater diffusion
of virtue, intelligence, and power. In these two
respects they are allied ; both ai:e^ social and both
are democratic in their purpose. But they differ in
very important respects vitally affecting both their
method and their spirit. Broadly speaking, Social-
ism puts environment first and character second ;
Christianity puts character first and environment
second. (It is not true that intelligent Socialism
disregards private character; nor is it true that
intelligent Christianity — the Christianity wdiich
follows the teaching of the Master — disregards
social conditions. But it is true that the social
reformer puts the emphasis on the condition ;
the Christian disciple puts the emphasis on the
individual character.

1. Socialism is founded on the principle that
happiness depends primarily upon circumstances.
Like Christianity, it endeavors to make men hap-
pier ; but it endeavors to do tl^is chiefly by improv-
ing their environment, — by giving them cleaner
streets, better homes, greater wealth, larger mea-
sure of the comforts which wealth brings. It
offers itself chiefly as a cure for poverty, — that
is, to improve a condition, not to change the nature,
of man. Christianity is founded upon the belief
that happiness depends primarily upon character,
that a good man in evil conditions will be happy,
aud that a bad mau in good conditions will be
miserable. Jesus Christ has expressed this faith



126 CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

very clearly in the opening paragraph of the Ser-
mon on the Mount. Blessedness, he says in effect,
is dependent, not upon what the individual pos-
sesses, but upon what the individual is, and each
quality in character has its own blessedness. They
that mourn are blessed, because by their sorrow
they are made strong. The meek are blessed, for
they, not the grasping, enjoy the earth. They who
hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed,
for this is a craving which is certain to be satisfied.
The pure in heart are blessed, for tliey shall enjoy
the visibn of the higher things, especially of God,
denied to those who indulge their imagination in
sensual images. Teaching this by his words,
Christ taught it even more clearly by his life.
He absolutely disregarded the conditions which
men are accustomed to think essential to happi-
ness ; was untroubled by his poverty ; cared not
that he had no place in which to lay his head ;
depended on the hospitality of the community for
his earthly subsistence ; sought, day by day, his
bread from his heavenly Father, and impliedly
taught his followers that they might do the same.
And yet, going through such a life of poverty,
accom2)anied with public contumely, a social out-
cast from the higher intellectual circles of his
time, and under the shadow of oncoming death,
he left, as his highest legacy to his followers, this
bequest : " These things have I spoken to you
that my joy might remain in you, and that your
joy might be full."



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 127

There has recently been circulated In certain
English and American papers the pathetic story
of the " Happiest Man in London." This man
and his wife were found living in a single room
with nothing but the most necessary furniture.
"For twenty-five years the wife had been para-
lyzed, and her husband had been her nurse, her
protector, her support, and, most of all, her lover
all the time. She could scarcely speak, and her
only strength of expression lay in her eyes, looking
' straight out, clear and shining.' In response to
a new doctor's question, this hero of a man told in
the simplest and most sincere way how he lived.
' I get up early of a morning, you see, sir,' said
Temple, ' and make our breakfast and attend to
her. Tlien, before I start for work, — I 'm in an
engineer's employ, — I just boards her up in bed
so as she can't fall out. I 'm back at dinner hour,
and we have it together. Then, when I leave
work, my evenin' soon passes. There 's usually a
bit of cooking to be done, and washing up, and the
room to be seen to. An invalid must have things
clean about her ; it is n't agreeable to just lie and
look at anything dirty. I like Lucy to keep
bright, — but, there ! she always is ; and if occa-
sionally she gets down, I soon cheer her up : don't
I, Lucy ? I said I 'd love her, comfort her, honor
and kee^^ her, in sickness and in health. I 've
tried, and we 've been happy. Sir, love does it
all. You '11 want to comfort her, you '11 have to
honor her, and if sickness come you '11 love her all



128 CHRISTJAXJTY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

the more.' From the bed there came a strange
sound. It was something between a laugh and
a sob. And the doctor, turning, looked away
again. Her husband's words had moved the wife
to tears, but her face was radiant with the joy in
her upturned eyes. Temple laid his hand on
hers, — hers which could give no answering pres-
sure. ' Sir,' he said, ' I can't wish you better
happiness than I've had. I wish you as much.
And I take it I'm about the happiest man in
London.' " 1

I quote this simple story here as the best pos-
sible way of illustrating the Christian's faith that
happiness depends on character, not on condition.

2. Socialism is founded on the faith that man's
moral character depends primarily on his condi-
tion ; Christianity, on the faith that man's condi-
tion depends primarily on his moral character.
Unquestionably, character and condition act and
react on each other. Unquestionably, both So-
cialism and Christianity recognize this law. But
not less certain is it that, in so far as Socialism
endeavors to mould the character at all, it does
so by change in the environment ; and that Chris-
tianity, in so far as it endeavors to change en-
vironment, does so chiefly through direct action
upon the character. All the higher forms of
Socialism seek not merely to change man's con-
dition, not merely to make him happier, but
also to make him a better man. But it pro-

^ Condensed from the Ladies^ Home Journal, February, 1895.



CHRISTIANJTY AND SOCIALISM. 129

ceeds in all its forms on the genenil assump-
tion that, if the social organism is made right,
the moral condition of man will be made right
in consequence. In its extreme forms, as we
have already seen, it affirms the natural good-
ness of man, and traces all the evils in him, as
well as those which environ him, to a vicious
social order. Said Adolph Wagner to an enthu-
siastic Socialist, " Your scheme would work well
if men were to become angels." " Why should
they not become angels ? " rej^lied the Socialist.
" It is enough to do away with the present eco-
nomic injustice, and all men will become angels." ^
It is not, however, the Socialist alone who enter-
tains this opinion. There are as many different
sects in what we call socialistic philanthropy as
there are in the Christian church ; or, if not as
many, at least as antagonistic to each other. They
do not agree in the social reforms which they pro-
pose, but they all agree in the opinion that, if the
necessary social reform were carried into effect,
the moral reform of humanity would follow. One
social reformer tells us that we must abolish the
tariff, and then prices will be lowered and wealth
will be distributed ; another tells us that we must
raise the tariff, and then wages will be increased
and wealth will be distributed. One social re-
former tells us we must levy all taxes on the land,
and take them off everything else ; another tells
us we must take them off the land and levy them
1 Quoted by F. S. Nitti in Catholic Socialism, p. 22.



130 CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

on incomes. One social reformer tells us we must
increase the power, and extend the functions, of
government; another, that government is a failure,
or, at best, a necessary evil, and that we must
reduce its powers, or abolish it altogether. But
the high-tariff man and the free-trader, the land-
tax and the income-tax advocate, the state So-
cialist and the Anarchist, widely as they differ,
all agree in this one fundamental doctrine, that,
if we can only make the social organism right,
humanity will be well taken care of. They strike
at the vice in the organism ; demand reform in the
organism; seek changes that can be wrought by
leg-islation in the orc^anism.

Christ proceeded on the directly opposite as-
sumption. He made almost no attempt to change
the social order or the social organism. The
system of taxation which prevailed in the Ro-
man Empire was abominably unjust. Christ
said never a word about taxation. Labor was
not only underpaid and ill-paid, but, for the most
part, worked with its hands in manacles ; but
Christ said never a word about slavery. If drink-
inof and drunkenness were not as bad in their
forms then as they are now, by reason of the
modern use of distilled liquors, then compara-
tively unknown, drinking habits and animalism,
in all its forms, were worse in Greece than they
have ever been in America; but Christ never
leveled his shafts against the liquor trade, or
the making of wine. Pharisaism had the prestige



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 131

of a great hierarchical system. Christ did not
strike at the hierarchy and the system ; he struck
at the Pharisee, not at the ism. He struck at
the injustice, not at the form which the injustice
took at a particular era, in a particular coun-
try, under particular circumstances. He sought
to change, not methods, but men. He struck,
not at the outward clothing of the wrong, but
at the wrong itself. Accordingly, he said al-
most nothing about social evils, and a great deal
about individual sins. In strictness of speech,
a nation does not sin. The individuals who make
up the nation are the sinners. Sins are indi-
vidual, and Christ proceeded on the assumption
that, if we can get rid of sin in the individual, we
shall get rid of evil in the state ; but if we leave
the sin in the individual, all social reform will
result only in a change in the form of social evil.

Christ's method of dealing with social injustice
is strikingly illustrated by the history of the aboli-
tion of slavery. Leaving the slave in bondage
and the master in power, Christianity delivered
to them both its twofold message. To the master
it said. Give unto your servants that which is just
and equal, forbearing threatening, knowing that
your Master, also, is in heaven, neither is there
respect of persons with Him.^ To the slave it
said, Art thou called, being a servant? care not
for it; with goodwill do your service, not with
eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of
1 Eph. vi. 9 ; Col. iv. 1.



132 CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

heart, as unto Christ.^ It thus dignified the slave
and honored his toil. Under this teaching, slaves
did not count themselves disgraced because they
were slaves, nor degraded either by the toil put
upon them, or by the unjust punishments often
inflicted upon them. Under this teaching, the
masters came to look upon their slaves as their
brethren, to whom they owed far more than the
law required of them, far more than self-interest
could suggest to them. By this conception of it,
the whole relationship of master and slave was
lifted uj) and transfigured, as an earthly parable of
the relation between man and his God. Schmidt's
" History of the Social Results of Early Christian-
ity " and Lecky's "History of European Morals"
trace the effect of this teaching in the gradual and
un revolutionary abolition of slavery. Says the
former : —

"Long before Chrysostom had raised his voice in
favor of slaves, there had been glorious examples of
Christian masters freeing their slaves. Tlie earliest
known of these is Hermes, Prefect of Rome under
Trajan, who embraced Christianity with his wife,
children, and 1,250 slaves. On Easter Day, the day
of their baptism, Hermes gave them all freedom, and
ample assistance to enable them to gain a liv^elihood.
Shortly afterwards he suffered martyrdom with Bishop
Alexander, who was the means of his conversion. An-
other Prefect of Rome, under Diocletian, Chromatius,
was celebrated in the church for his zeal and charity.

1 1 Cor. vii. 21, 22 ; Eph. vi. 5-8 ; Col. iii. 22-25.



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 133

He set free 1,400 slaves, and gave them abundant
means of supjiort ; he said that those who had God
for their Father ought not to be tlie servants of man.
Melania, with the consent of her husband Pinius, gave
freedom to 8,000 slaves ; Ovinius, a French martyr, to
5,000. These great examples were followed by Chris-
tians who were not so rich. In the early part of the
fourth century three brothers set free their seventy-
three slaves. Augustine told the people in one of his
homilies that several clerks of the church of Hippo were
going to emancipate some slaves they possessed. We
cannot doubt that many others did the same, though the
historians, struck only with what shows in large propor-
tions, have preserved no account of the less startling
facts. Whilst rich pagans directed in their will that
the blood of their slaves should be shed in combats in
the areria. Christian masters, taught by the church, gave
freedom and legacies to their slaves, by their will." ^

The Socialist believes in manufacture rather than
in growth. The radical Socialist would rub off
from the slate all that past history has written
thereon, and write in its place a new scheme for the
industry of the future. Christianity is founded on
the belief that social organisms are not to be man-
ufactured, that they are a growth, and that the
fundamental condition of virtuous growth in so-
ciety is virtue in the individuals of whom it is
composed. Christianity, therefore, begins with
the individual and works toward social re^enera-
tion by the regeneration of the individual.

^ C. Schmidt, The Social Results of Early Christianity, p. 226.



134 CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

It is sometimes said that the church is a capital-
istic institution. There is some truth in the asser-
tion, which is really less an accusation than a
eulogy. The church goes into a region where the
people are living in poverty and in rags. By
Christian teachings it puts into them such a spirit
of honesty, of industry, of temperance, of thrift,
that they begin to leave the saloon and seek the
savings bank, and must either move from the
neighborhood to one of greater competence and
comfort, or remain in the neighborhood, making it
one of comj^etence and comfort. One object of
Christianity as of Socialism is to make all men
capitalists. This object Christianity accomplishes
wherever it succeeds in its mission, and the fact
that churches are capitalistic institutions is a wit-
ness that the hope of social reform lies in the
church of Christ.

3. Socialism appeals primarily to the man in
his lower nature. It proposes first to give the
ragged and dirty man a bath and clean clothes,
then to provide for his body ; then to give him in-
dustrial education and put his children in school,
to provide for the intellect ; then to win for him
a larger income, a greater share in the world's
wealth ; as to God and immortality, it is for the
present silent. It postpones all consideration of
the higher needs of the spirit until these prelim-
inary reforms are accomplished. Socialism is
thus often atheistic and irreligious ; not indeed
necessarily so, but certainly not necessarily theistic



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 135

and religious. The majority of Socialists show
greater faith in a Palace of Delight than in a
church, in ministry to the body and the mind than
in appeals to the higher spiritual nature.

This was not Christ's method. He did not be-
gin with the bottom of man and work up to the
top ; he began at the top and worked down toward
the bottom. He did not attempt to lift men up by
a leverage applied from below ; he attempted to
lift them up by a hand reached down from above.
Did he not feed five thousand in the wilderness ?
Yes ! after he had preached all day ; but he
preached first and fed afterwards. This also was
the method of Socrates : " All good and evil here
in the body or in human nature originate in the
soul, and overflow from thence, as from the head
into the eyes, and therefore, if the head and body
are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul '
that is the first thinof." ^

The message of Christianity is that of the poets
and prophets of all ages, who pierce the disguise
and behold and address themselves to the living
man behind the mask. Its message to every man
groveling in the dust, degraded by his own ani-
malism or tram23led under foot of men, degraded
by the oppression of others, is the message of God
to Ezekiel, " Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and
I will speak unto thee." It begins with the dec-
laration. You are sons of God, you are immortal,
life has infinite possibilities for you, arise and

^ Jowett'a Plato, The Charmides, vol. i., p. 11.



136 CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

walk. The bird is in prison in the egg ; conser-
vatism would leave the egg unbroken, leave every-
thing as it is and has been : it will get an addled
egg. Radicalism wonld impatiently break the
shell to let the imprisoned captive free ; it will get
a dead bird. Christianity broods the egg and the
bird breaks its own shell.

There is an old Norse legend that the god of
summer was killed and carried off in captivity to
the prison-house of the dead, and the whole world
went into mourning. The flowers folded their
petals, the trees dropped their leaves, the brooks
ceased their murmuring song and pulled an icy
coverlet over themselves, and the whole earth cov-
ered its dead self with a white shroud. Then one
of the gods said : " I will go to the abode of the
dead, cost what it may, and see if I cannot ransom
and bring back the god of summer." He went,
riding through the dark and dangerous valley, un-
til he came to the prison-house, and pleaded there
for liberation, and at last ransomed the god of
summer so far as this, that the keeper of the
prison-house said : " Your god may return to you
in the spring, but in the fall must come back
again." So, every spring, according to this old
legend, the god of the summer returns to the
earth, and then the whole earth rejoices ; and every
fall he goes away, and then the whole earth
mourns. The disciples of Jesus Christ are trying
to bring the God of the summer into the hearts
of the children of men ; certain that so long as



CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIALISM. 137

human hearts banish Him from their presence, and
the kingdom is the kingdom of selfishness, so long
it will be the kingdom of poverty and wretched-
ness ; but that when He comes, and the world re-
ceives Him, all the flowers will be fragrant, and all
the trees full of green leaf, and all the birds full
of song, for He brings life.



CHAPTER V.

Christ's law of the family.

The family is the first and most fundamental
social organization. Upon it all other social or-
ganizations are founded. Upon its purity and
permanence the purity and permanence of the
social order in all its forms depend. If it is
corrupt, life is corrupted at the spring; no pro-



Online LibraryLyman AbbottChristianaity and social problems → online text (page 9 of 25)