to make my own ethics."
To this objection the only possible reply of the Socialist
State would be the enforcement of the argument of
superior brute force. Might and right would have be-
My opponent declines to commit himself to the view
that the rational is nobler than the animal element in
man, or that soul is intrinsically superior to sense ; yet
he asserts that Socialists do not underestimate the
spiritual side of man, and that they strive for perfection
in all spheres of human existence.
By the very fact that he refuses to recognize the in-
trinsic superiority of the rational over the sense facul-
172 SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
ties, he does underestimate the spiritual element. By
putting the rational or spiritual on the same level of
importance with the physical nature, he declares im-
plicitly that to exercise the latter, to indulge the
physical appetites, in those purely individual acts of
dissipation and sensuality which atrophy the intellect
and brutalize the will, constitutes conduct that is
quite as laudable and reasonable as the loftiest ac-
tivity of the intellect or the firmest control of the
passions. Since there is no difference of moral impor-
tance or worth between the two sets of faculties, each man
enjoys full liberty, moral as well as physical and psycho-
logical, to choose for himself which faculties he shall exer-
cise most, to choose whether he shall live like a man or
like a brute; and no moral stigma can attach to one
choice more than to the other.
If individual conduct be outside the moral law, then
no man has any moral obligation toward himself ; hence
his "striving for perfection" is not a moral obligation,
but an entirely optional performance. It is no more
good, reasonable, or laudable than the practice of the
most degrading personal debauchery.
Mr. Hillquit admits that the monogamous family,
understood as a permanent union, would and should
disappear under Socialism. For he advocates, not
indeed sexual promiscuity, but unions dissoluble at the
will of the parties themselves. By removing all mer-
cenary motives from marriage, he will leave but one basis
of conjugal union mutual love. To quote his own
words : "A union based on love can endure only so long
as love continues. In other words, most Socialists,
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 173
in common with most sensible and enlightened persons,
favour dissolubility of the marriage tie at the pleasure
of the contracting parties."
But, contends my opponent, these "love" unions would
"endure in undimmed and lifelong purity in a much
larger number of cases than to-day."
While an extended reply to this assertion is impossible
for want of space and unnecessary because my main
purpose has been merely to bring out the real attitude
of Socialists on the question of monogamy, a few sum-
maries of controverting arguments may not be out of
a. The theory before us assumes that under Socialism
the actual opportunity of making their own living would
be open to all women as an easy alternative to marriage.
This implies a vast increase in the proportion of women
in industrial occupations. Such a situation is neither
morally nor socially desirable. Probably nine-tenths
of the women who are now engaged in manufacture, and
a large proportion of those in trade and transportation,
are performing tasks which are physically and morally
detrimental to themselves, and therefore to the race.
It is not possible that Socialism or any other scheme
would change essentially the nature or effects of these
b. The assumption that it is somehow degrading for
a woman to depend upon a man for a livelihood, or to
allow material considerations to influence her choice of a
husband is cheap and shallow. It is adopted mainly
by those who are enmeshed in a superficial a priori social
philosophy, and by that blatant and shameless little
clique of creatures who think they are "advanced femin-
174 SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
ists," and who would like to make women over into a
bad imitation of men. In the light of nature and
common sense, it is no more unbecoming for a woman to
depend upon a man for her livelihood than for a man
to depend upon a woman for his meals, the care of the
household, or the bearing and nursing of children.
c. Even under Socialism, many women would still
find that they could better their condition by marrying
a higher-paid man. And large numbers of them would
have sense enough left to see that marriage is natural,
while most industrial employments are to them un-
natural and harmful, and that marriage even on a lower
economic level is on the whole preferable to "economic
independence." To assume that these two classes of
women would not marry until they were certain that
love was the only determining motive, is to betray a
lofty indifference to some of the most palpable facts of
human nature and human life.
d. Has my opponent any data to show that divorce
is less common among love marriages than among those
that have taken into account other considerations?
Is romantic love the only, or the most powerful, factor
in the permanence of conjugal unions ?
e. Moreover, when men and women realize that their
unions are terminable at will, they will be much more
likely than now to mistake passion and infatuation for
love, both before and after marriage, and much more
liable to neglect such considerations as mind, character,
My opponent assures me that Socialism would not
withdraw the education of children from the control
and supervision of the parents, nor prevent the latter
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 175
from giving their children the benefit of "supplemental
private or school instruction in any subject they may
Thus the only instruction to be permitted outside the
public schools will be merely " supplemental." Although
this "supplemental" training may be given in a private
school as well as at home, the child will be compelled
to attend the public school regularly, and to follow all
the courses taught therein. No parent will be allowed
to educate his child wholly or mainly outside the public
school. What is this if it be not monopoly of educa-
I never denied that Mr. Spargo and the International
Socialist movement condemned deeds of violence. I
merely maintained that their condemnation was based
not upon moral grounds, but upon mere expediency.
I asserted that no authoritative Socialist denounces such
practices as morally wrong. And my opponent admits
the correctness of these contentions when he "can only
answer : Blessed is the movement whose practical no-
tions of expediency coincide so well with the abstract
precepts of the highest morality."
If this be not an implicit assertion that violence is
morally lawful whenever it is expedient for Socialism,
and a virtual confession that my interpretation of Social-
ist thought on the subject is accurate, I am forced to the
conclusion that my opponent is using language in a
purely esoteric sense, of which he refuses to give up the
How exactly the Socialist notions of expediency "coin-
cide" with abstract moral precepts, is beautifully illus-
1 76 SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
trated In the recent history of the I. W. W. faction of
American Socialism. "The Industrial Workers of the
World" accept the principle of expediency, but not the
practical application of it offered by the majority of the
party. Believing that "deeds of violence" are expedient
in the war with Capitalism, they proceed to demolish,
if possible, the "abstract precepts of the highest moral-
ity." Worse than all, they demonstrate that expediency
is not expedient, since their interpretation of it has split
the American Socialist party in twain. A similar situa-
tion obtains in the European movement.
What else could any thinking person expect ? Preach
the theory that a practice derives all its morality from
expediency, and you open the way for the most reckless
use, or abuse, of it by all those persons who will not ac-
cept you as its infallible interpreter.
BY MR. HILLQUIT
Dr. Ryan's rebuttal is largely an effort to fortify his
arguments in support of his two main ethical precepts,
the final and immutable character of the moral law
and the indissolubility of marriage.
In my main paper I asserted that the moral notions
and practices of individuals, classes, and nations are
subject to variations and changes, and that the nature
of such variations and the direction of such changes
are largely determined by material needs and advantages.
In support of this contention I instanced the callousness
of capitalist morality as applied to industrial pursuits
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 177
and the perverse moral notions which sanction interna-
Dr. Ryan's reply to this contention may be fairly
summed up in three points :
1. The killing of human beings, in war or in peace,
is not always morally wrong. The nation " that is in the
right" is justified on "solid moral grounds" in defending
such right by "force of arms," and the community has
a similar moral right to the "legal execution" of the
"criminal" or "capital offender."
2. "Perhaps in the majority of cases the offending
nation thinks that it has a proper grievance," and simi-
larly, the offending capitalist often fails to realize the
social iniquities of the prevailing industrial system.
3. "Sometimes the wrongful nation realizes the im-
morality of its course," but fails to admit it, just as a
large class of the employers realize the moral depravity
of their practices, but either "lull to sleep or deliberately
violate their better moral perceptions."
Let us examine these arguments.
Dr. Ryan justifies the killing of "aggressors," "capital
offenders," and "criminals," wholesalely in war or in
retail "by legal process." But what is an "aggression"
or "offence," and what is "innocence" or "defence,"
and how and by whom are they to be differentiated ?
In the eyes of the average Englishman, the American
colonists were decidedly hardened offenders when they
seditiously refused to pay lawful taxes regularly imposed
on them by parliament, while the colonists vowed that
England was the aggressor and offender in attempting
such taxation. To the mediaeval Catholic governments
the "heretic" was a capital offender, and even the in-
178 SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
fallible Catholic Church with its immutable notions of
the moral law condoned that conception. Autocratic
governments consider every active republican a "capital
offender," and in return every republic considers it a
crime to strive for the establishment of a monarchy.
To the anarchist every capitalist is an offender ; to the
typical capitalist every "agitator" and labour leader is
All these different and opposite elements would cheer-
fully subscribe to Dr. Ryan's doctrine. What a picture
of "eternal, invariable, and immutable ethics" !
But even less convincing than my opponent's moral
justification of some wars and of all "legal executions"
is his touching picture of the nation going to war in a
sad and sombre mood arising from the consciousness of
its own guilt, and of the capitalist realizing the unright-
eousness of his course. In actual experience such con-
scious and shame-faced offenders are rare. As a rule
the belligerent nations are equally emphatic in their
moral indignation against each other and equally loud
in the patriotic protestations of their own offended inno-
cence, while the churches of both countries send conflict-
ing and bewildering prayers to the Almighty for the
victory of their respective just causes.
As to the typical capitalists, they are usually in full
accord with the position of that candid and pious Ameri-
can representative of their class who recently consoled
his countrymen with the assurance that the Lord has
ceded the treasures of the earth to certain "Christian
gentlemen," who knew how to operate and capitalize
Dr. Ryan comes very much nearer the truth when he
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 179
asserts that the offending nations and classes often fail
to realize their wrongdoings. But perhaps this state-
ment seems so convincing to me only because I have
been contending for it all through this debate.
Dr. Ryan's final argument in support of his theory of
immutability of the moral law, is that without such a
standard moral progress would be impossible or, at any
rate, unmeasurable. "How can we know," he queries,
"whether the changes in moral notions and actions to
which we give the name of progress are properly so
called, unless we have some permanently valid code of
My opponent here seems to confound two entirely
different ideas Final Ethics and the Ethical Ideal.
When he speaks of Final Ethics he has in mind a uniform
unchanged and unchangeable code of morals, which was
in existence at the first appearance of man and will re-
main in full force until the end of the world. An Ethical
Ideal on the other hand means nothing more than the
highest conception of morality to which the human mind
can attain at a given stage of social and intellectual de-
velopment. There is nothing permanent about it. On
the contrary, it is its elasticity that constitutes its
greatest worth. Such an ideal always represents a vast
advance over the cruder ideals of the less civilized past,
and it falls short of the higher ideals which a better future
will undoubtedly develop.
Another logical somersault my opponent performs in
drawing his deductions from my views on the compara-
tive importance of the various human capacities. Be-
cause I refuse to admit "the intrinsic superiority of the
l8o SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
rational over the sense faculties," he concludes that I
consider it "quite as laudable and reasonable" to in-
dulge "in those purely individual acts of dissipation and
sensuality which atrophy the intellect and brutalize
the will" as in "the lofty activity of the intellect."
In other words, he asserts that the person who holds
the physical and intellectual functions of man in equal
esteem must approve of the grossest abuses of the
former just as much as of the most proper and normal
uses of the latter.
In my main paper on this subject I stated that most
Socialists favour the dissolubility of the marriage tie at
the pleasure of the contracting parties. My opponent
construes this statement as an "admission" on my part
"that the monogamous family, understood as a permanent
union, would and should disappear under Socialism."
By a skilful blending of the terms "permanent union,"
"indissoluble marriage," and "monogamy" he contrives
to convey the impression that Socialism is opposed to the
institution of monogamous marriage. There is abso-
lutely no foundation for such an assertion.
A monogamous family is one formed by the union of
one woman with one man. If in such union one of the
mates dies and the survivor marries another spouse, the
union continues to be monogamous, and if the partners
divorce and each remarries, the resulting unions are still
strictly monogamous. Conversely, if we should assume
that the Mormon Church or some Islam government
should sanction simultaneous unions between one man
and several women and make such unions absolutely
indissoluble, the latter would be polygamous and not
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 181
monogamous. . Socialists stand for strict monogamy
coupled with the right of divorce, a right which is recog-
nized in all civilized countries. But while the privilege
of divorce is to-day accorded only for certain gross con-
jugal or personal misconduct, Socialists would extend that
privilege to all persons whose marital life has been ren-
dered loveless, joyless, and miserable for any reason
"Has my opponent any data to show that divorce is
less common among love marriages than among those
that have taken into account other considerations?"
queries Dr. Ryan.
Of course I have not. The scanty marital statistics
which the census furnishe.s us are unfortunately not
based on love marriages alone, but on all present-day
marriages, and these have largely been contracted for
"other considerations." But just for that reason the
available figures are rather interesting and by no means
irrelevant to Dr. Ryan's question. Here they are :
The total number of divorces granted in the United
States between 1887 and 1906 was 900,584 ; in other
words, within a period of twenty years, or about half of
the duration of a normal conjugal life, over 1,800,000
persons were divorced from each other by formal judicial
decree. In 1906 there were 72,062 divorces against
853,290 marriages one divorce for every twelve
These figures convey some notion of the extent of mari-
tal unhappiness under prevailing conditions, especially
if we bear in mind that divorce actions in our courts are
distasteful and repulsive proceedings, which the more
sensitive individuals try to avoid at any cost. The great-
182 SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
est conjugal tragedies are not enacted in open court-
room, but are suffered in tearful silence in the seclusion
of the shattered home.
Nor is divorce the only curb upon present-day mar-
riages. The "other considerations" than love to which
my opponent alludes involve among other things the
economic ability of the man to support a family. And
this ability is on the constant decrease in our blissful
capitalist system, with the rising cost of living, insuffi-
cient wages, and general economic insecurity. Accord-
ing to the census figures of 1910 the total male popu-
lation of the country, twenty years old and over, was
about 28,000,000. Out of these 8,102,062 were single,
1,470,280 widowed, and 155,815 divorced. Out of
the 25,500,000 women over twenty years old 4,947,406
were single, 3,165,967 were widowed, and 181,418
Thus out of a total of 53,500,000 adult Americans
18,000,000, or more than a third, were unmated. "This,"
observes Commissioner Rittenhouse, who was charged
with the task of investigating the alarming facts, "is
an unfortunate and startling state of affairs. Moreover,
from the ranks of the unmarried comes humanity's
heaviest contribution to immorality and crime." Yes,
especially when aided by the economic misery of millions
of women. If my opponent wants more "data" on this
interesting subject, I respectfully refer him to Mr. Knee-
land's reports of vice conditions in New York and
Chicago, 1 and the harrowing revelations contained in
them. A marriage made in the counting-room and
1 Report of Municipal Vice Commission, Chicago, 1911. "Com-
mercialized Prostitution," by George J. Kneeland, New York, 1913.
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 183
terminating in the divorce courts; a "monogamous"
marriage supplemented by wholesale enforced celibacy
and tempered by open prostitution and clandestine
adultery such is the typical marriage under Capitalism
which my opponent seeks to save from the onslaughts of
the wicked Socialists.
My opponent's main argument against what he de-
risively terms "love-unions" is that, since such unions
are largely predicated on economic independence, their
realization calls for a "vast increase in the proportion of
women in industrial occupations." Such a situation,
however, he considers highly undesirable because "prob-
ably nine-tenths of the women who are now engaged in
manufacture, and a large proportion of those in trade
and transportation, are performing tasks which are phys-
ically and morally detrimental to themselves, and there-
fore to the race."
Dr. Ryan seems to overlook the fact that the prevail-
ing conditions of work are "physically and morally
detrimental," not to women alone, but to men as well,
and that these conditions are not inherent in industry,
but are made so by the exigencies of the capitalist
system based on intense and merciless exploitation of
Socialism strives to render work more wholesome,
easy, and attractive, and to secure to each working-
man a return sufficient to enable him to take care of his
family in decency and comfort. Under such conditions
women's work will naturally cease to be "physically
and morally detrimental," and besides, they will not be
forced to engage in industrial employment unless their
1 84 SOCIALISM: PROMISE OR MENACE
family duties will permit them and unless they freely
choose to do so. Will women under such conditions
continue to take active part in the industrial life of the
nation? At the risk of being classed by my opponent
with that "blatant and shameless" clique of "fem-
inists," I venture the prediction that very many of them
Dr. Ryan seems to assume in his argument: i. that
all women are married ; 2. that all married women bear
children; 3. that all married women bear children and
nurse them all the time.
All these assumptions, to borrow a happy phrase from
my opponent, violate "some of the most palpable facts
of human nature and human life."
In his rebuttal Dr. Ryan again reverts to the charge
that Socialist morality is based on expediency rather
than on abstract love of justice. He does not deny that
the accepted methods of the Socialist movement are
quite consonant with good morals, but he assures us
that if the Socialists had believed that their ends could
be more easily gained by methods of lawlessness and vio-
lence, they would not hesitate to resort to such methods.
Without admitting this entirely unprovable hypoth-
esis, I will observe that in actual fact there can be no
opposition or antagonism between social expediency
and true social morality. In support of this contention
I may quote an authority who enjoys the respect of my
opponent as much as my own I refer to Dr. John
Augustine Ryan. In speaking of certain planks in the
Socialist programme, in the third chapter of this book,
Dr. Ryan remarks: "Their ethical character can be
SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 185
determined only through an examination of their bearing
upon human welfare. This is the ultimate test of the
morality of any social system. In the matter of social
institutions, moral values and genuine expediency are
in the long run identical."
To this view I heartily subscribe.
SOCIALISM AND RELIGION
I. SOCIALISM is IRRELIGIOUS
BY JOHN A. RYAN, D.D.
To the charge that their movement is irreligious,
Socialists frequently reply that no support for this con-
tention can be found in the party platforms. In a gen-
eral way the reply is true ; it is also for the most part
In 1891 the "Erfurt Programme," probably the most
authoritative of all the party declarations, demanded
that religion "be declared a private concern." In the
national convention of 1908 the Socialist Party of the
United States proclaimed itself to be "primarily an
economic and political movement . . . not concerned
with matters of religious belief."
With regard to the first of these declarations we must
bear carefully in mind that it is merely a "demand for
the present," a statement of the attitude which the
Socialists desire to see maintained by existing govern-
It is not placed among the fundamental principles of
the platform, and consequently does not commit the
party to the belief or conviction that such a policy of
toleration should or would prevail in the Socialist State.
Hence its importance is not paramount.
SOCIALISM AND RELIGION 187
Moreover, both declarations need to be interpreted.
The platforms are not a complete expression of the teach-
ing and tendencies of the movement. All that they can
attempt is to set forth briefly the most essential prin-
ciples and the practical proposals.
In the words of Liebknecht, a platform "cannot be
a commentary. The agitators, the journalists, and the
learned of the party must give the commentary. " 1
One of the most enlightening and exhilarating illus-
trations of this rule will be found in the "Official Pro-
ceedings" (pp. 191-205) of the Chicago Convention
of 1908. More than one of the "agitators, the journal-
ists, and the learned of the party" furnished a very help-
ful commentary on the religious-neutrality plank.
To avow the true scientific Socialist position on the
subject of religion would, they pointed out, be decidedly
bad tactics in a presidential campaign.
The evidence that the Socialist movement (as distin-
guished from the contemplated Socialist State) is un-
friendly, if not actively hostile, to religion, and that the
Socialist philosophy is incompatible with religious