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least competent to perform so unpleasant, unpopular, and
tremendous a task. " The eternal unrest and disturbance of this
administrative guidance of production, together with the
capricious changes of desire and demand in tlie sovereign people,
would most certainly increase, to an extraordinary degree, the
tyrannous fatality of these ever recurrent crises."

lo. Democi^itic Collectivism promises to abolish what it
regards as the slavery of the wage-system. The system, however,
by which it would do so is one far more justly chargeable with
involving slavery. As regards this argument see the words
already quoted on p. 59.

These arguments are all extremely worthy of consideration for
their own sakes. They fully sustain Dr. Schiiffle's contention
that Social Democracy " can never fulfil a single one of its
glowing promises." They have, however, a further interest
simply as coming from Dr. Schjiffle. His earlier work, the
" Quintessence of Socialism," 1878, was widely regarded as not
only a socialistic production, but as the only production of the
kind which had succeeded in showing that Collectivism was not
an altogether impracticable and impossible scheme. Marx and
his coadjutors had done nothing in this direction ; their work
had been merely critical and destructive. Schiiffle undertook
the task which they had not ventured on, and made Collectivism
look as plausible as possible. He presented the case for it so



THE COLLECTIVISATION OF CAPITAL 255

skilfully indeed, that all those who have since attempted to show
its practicability have done little else than substantially repeat
what he had said. It cannot, then, be reasonably averred that
he has not thoroughly understood what Collectivism means, and
is worth ; that he has not comprehended it profoundly, and from
within. Yet what is his real opinion of it? That we learn
from the supplement to the "Quintessence" — from the "Im-
possibility of Social Democracy," 1884. It is a very definite and
decided opinion — the conviction that " the faith in. the millennial
kingdom of Democratic Collectivism is a mere bigotry and super-
stition, and as uncouth a one as has ever been cherished in any
age." As was, perhaps, to be expected, those who had received
the earlier work with jubilation, entered into " a conspiracy of
silence " regarding the latter.*



* Among the many able works which have been published in refutation
of Collectivism the most conclusive and satisfactory on the whole, in the
opinion of the present writer, is M. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu's " Le CoUectivisme,
examen critique du nouveau socialisme." 3^. ed. 1893.



CHAPTER VIII.

SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION.

Socialism is a theory as to the organisation of
society. It has done good service by insisting on
the need for more and better social organisation. It
was especially by the boldness and keenness of their
criticism of the actual constitution of society that
the founders of modern Socialism — Saint-Simon,
Fourier, and Owen — drew attention to themselves,
and gained a hearing for their proposals. And so
has it been with their successors. It is largely
because of the amount of truth in their teaching" as
to the prevalence of disorder and anarchy, disease
and misery in society, that their views have obtained
so large a measure of sympathy and success.

Nor is this other than natural, seeing that society
is really in every organ, portion, and department of it
in a far from satisfactory condition. There is no
profession without either just grievances or unjust
privileges. Land is, in general, poorly remunerative
to its proprietors ; farming is precarious : and agri-
cultural labourers are depressed and discontented
not without reasons. The war between labour and
capital becomes increasingly embittered and danger-
ous. There can be no reasonable doubt that in not
a few occupations men and women are working far



SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION 257

too many hours, and are consequently left without
time and strength for living fully human lives. It
is unquestionable that under the guise of business
hateful injustice is perpetrated to an enormous
extent ; and that by lying devices, dishonest tricks,
heartless practices, a large number of persons reputed
respectable beggar their neighbours and enrich
themselves. It is terrible to think of the physical
and moral condition and surroundings of multitudes
of human beings in many of our large towns ; and of
all the misery and vice implied in the statistics of
drunkenness, prostitution, and crime in this empire.
The socialistic criticism of society as at present
constituted has not only been directly and wholly
useful in so far as it has been temperate and well-
founded ; it has also been indirectly and partially
useful even when passionate and exaggerated, as it
has almost always been. By its very violence and
onesidedness it has provoked counter-criticism, and
led to closer and more comprehensive investigation.
It has contributed to a general recognition of the
necessity of instituting careful and systematic in-
quiries into the social difficulties and evils with
which it is contemplated to deal by legislation and
collective action. And this is an important gain.
A thorough diagnosis is as necessary to the cure of
social as of bodily diseases. Of many social troubles
and grievances an adequate knowledge would of
itself go fir to secure the removal ; in regard to all
of them it is the indispensable condition of effective
remedial measures. Ignorant intervention, however
benevolent, only comj^licates the difficulties which



258 SOCIALISM

it seeks to solve, and aggravates the evils which it
hopes to cure.

As to the practicability of social organisation
Socialism cannot be charged with the lack either of
faith or hope. Its leading representatives to-day
show the same sort of simple and credulous confi-
dence in their ability to transform and beautify
society which was so conspicuous in Owen, Saint-
Simon, Fourier, and Cabet. It is possible, indeed,
as the example of Von Hartmann proves, to combine
Socialism with Pessimism, at least to the extent of
believing that it will inevitably come, yet only as a
stage of illusion and misery in the course of humanity
towards annihilation. But this conjunction is rare,
and probably not to be met with at all outside a
small philosophical circle. As a rule Socialists take
an extremely rosy view of the near future even
when they take a most gloomy view of the entire
past.

And in this confidence and hopefulness there is
undoubtedly something true and worthy of commen-
dation. Faith and hope are necessary to those who
would face aright the future and its duties. And
there are good reasons for cherishing them within
certain limits : namely, all the evidences which we
have for concluding that there has been progress or
improvement in the past ; that there exists an
Eternal Power which makes for righteousness ; and
that the evils which afflict society are in their very
nature curable or diminishable by individual and
collective effort. But faith is never wholly good
except when entirely conformed to reason ; nor is



SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION 259

hope ever wholly good except when it is entirely
accordant with the laws and lessons of experience.
The faith and hope of Socialism, however, even when
it claims to be scientific, largely outrun reason and
ignore experience ; they are largely the most childish
simplicity and credulity. If they have saved, as
some suppose, a large section of the working classes
from pessimistic despair, it is so far well ; yet there
must be serious danger of a reaction when the extent
of their irrationality is discovered.

The great ends of life can by no means be so easily
or readily realised as Socialists imply in their schemes
of social organisation. Labour is the law of life ;
hard labour is the sign of earnest life. In the sweat
of the brow the vast majority of men must eat their
bread. In the sweat of the brain the mental worker
must hammer out his thoughts. In the bloody
sweat of a broken heart the martyr must consummate
his sacrifice. So has it been for ages on ages, and
so it is likely to be for ages on ages to come, even
until man is altogether different from what he is
now, and no longer needs the stimulus of hardship
or the correction of suffering. Life has obviously
not been meant, on the whole, to be easy, devoid
of strain, untried by misery and affliction. And
those who tell us that they have some scheme
by which they can make it so are fanatics or
•charlatans.

It is much more difficult to become rich, or even
to get a moderate portion of the good things of this
life, than Socialists admit. There is no class of
creatures in the world of which some do not die of



26o SOCIALISM

starvation. Why should man be an exception ? *
Man, it is true, is better than a beast ; but just
because he is so, suffering has more and higher uses
to him than to a beast. He has reason, and there-
fore is capable of indefinite progress while the
lower creatures are not ; but therefore also he is
liable to innumerable aberrations from which they
are exempt, and which he can only slowly learn

* This question and the sentence which precedes it, called forth the
following observations from the editor of "Progress, the Organ of the
Salem Literary Society, Leeds" (November 1892): "These words occur
in an article on Socialism and Social Organisation, which appeared in
the September number of Good Words. The writer of the article is Dr.
Flint, a Professor of Divinity of Edinburgh, and the author of some well-
known works on Theism. Good Words is a Christian paper, and Dr. Flint
is a Christian man, but his words reveal a cold, hopeless, and most sceptical
pessimism. Christianity may well pray to be delivered from its apologists.
Here is an acknowledged defender of the Christian faith calmly asking
why man should be an exception to the law, that ' of every class of
creatures some must die of starvation.' Dr. Flint's statement could be
passed over with comparative indifference if there were no reason to fear
that what he expresses with such unblushing candour was the tacit belief
of a great many Christian men, sometimes finding milder expressions in
the misread words of Jesus Christ, ' The poor ye have always with you.'
We admit with Professor Flint that the great ends of life cannot be easily
reached ; that labour is the law of life : that the vast majority of men
must eat their bread in the sweat of their brow. But we emphatically
deny that there is any law of nature which dooms a man who has indus-
triously striven after a livelihood to die of starvation. Such a belief
belongs to antiquated and discredited political economy. Did we cherish
it, it would work more mischief to our Theism than all Professor Flint's
elaborate theories could repair. It is not true, it never has been true, and
it is not likely to be true, that there is any real pressure of population
upon the means of subsistence. The world's fields stand white unto the
harvest. Nature's resources are infinite, she has heaped up in her vast
storehouses food and fuel and raiment for all. Nature is no niggard, witli
ungrudging hand she yields her treasures to those who seek them with
industry and patience. None need go empty away. We do not forget
that Nature has other than a smiling face. Famine and pestilence and
storm have slain their thousands. But history is the record of man's
conquest over Nature. It is his privilege to wrest from Nature her secrets.



SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION 261

to detect and abandon in the school of want and
adversity.

No distribution of the present wealth of the world
would give plenty to every one. Were all the
gold supposed to be in the world at present equally
distributed each person would hardly get a sovereign
a piece. Were all the land in Britain equally dis-
tributed among its inhabitants each person could

to make the crooked places straight, and the rough places plain ; to
make the wilderness and the solitary place glad, and the desert rejoice
and blossom as a rose. There is enough of mystery in life — the mystery
of sin and pain and death — without making life more mysterious still by
teaching that there are men born into this world who by irrevocable
natural law are destined to die of slow starvation."

Now, neither in the words animadverted on, nor in any other words
which I have written, have I either affirmed or implied that there is " any
law of nature which dooms a man who has industriously striven after a
livelihood to die of starvation," or that "there are men born into this
world who by irrevocable natural law are destined to die of slow starva-
tion." In referring to what Lassalle and his followers have said of the
so-called " iron law of wages," I have explicitly indicated my entire dis-
belief in such laws. Dr. Thomas Chalmers loved to expatiate " on the
capacities of the world for making a virtuous species happy." 1 am far
from denying that it has such capacities. I readily admit that the
miseries of society are mainly due not to the defects of the world, but to
the errors and faults of man. Were the human race perfect in intellect,
disposition, and conduct, possibly not only no human being but no harm-
less or useful beast would be allowed to die of starvation. Were it so the
pressure of population upon the means of subsistence would, of course,
be unknown. It is, however, actual, not ideal, human nature, real, not
hypothetical human beings, that we must have in view when dis-
cussing practical social questions. When my critic denies that popu-
lation has ever pressed on the means of subsistence he denies facts
without number. His panegyric on the bountifulness of Nature will surely
not apply to the Sahara or the Arctic regions, or even to Donegal or
Connemara. History has been the record of man's conquest over Nature
only to a limited extent, and it has been the record also of much else — of
much that is painful and shameful. Neither Theism nor Christianity can
be truly benefited by ignoring facts or indulging in rhetorical exaggera-
tion'. A sceptical pessimism is bad, but so likewise is a shallow and illusory
optimism.



262 SOCIALISM

not get quite two acres. Were all the rents of all
the landowners in Britain appropriated by the nation
to pay the taxes they would be insufficient to pay
them. Were the people of France grouped into
households of four individuals each, and the whole
annual income of France equally apportioned among
them, each of these households, it has been calculated,
would only receive about three francs a day. Were,
even in those trades where there are the largest
capitalists, the workmen to obtain all the profits of
the capitalists to themselves, in scarcely any case
would they receive four shillings per week more
than they do.

Most workmen can save more weekly by the
exercise of good sense and self-denial than the
State could afford to give them beyond what
they already receive were Collectivism established
even without expense. The spontaneous bounties of
earth become yearly less adequate to support its
inhabitants. Each new (generation is thrown more
on its own powers of invention and exertion. Indi-
viduals may find " short cuts " to wealth, or even
*' break through and steal" their neighbours' pro-
perty ; but there is no public royal road to wealth ;
no other honest path for the great majority of men
even to a competency of external goods than that of
self-denial and toil.

The way to happiness is still more difficult to
discover and follow than that to wealth. They are
very different ways, and often those who find the
one lose the other. " Men," said Hol:)bes, " are
never less at ease than when most at ease." " Tht;



SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION 265

more things improve," says Mr. Spencer, "the louder
become the exclamations about their badness."
History abounds in facts which warrant these
statements. And one of the most strikino- of them
is that although the workmen of Europe never had
so much freedom and power, or received so large a
proportion of the wealth of Europe, as since the
triumph of free-trade and the introduction of ma-
chinery and the rise of the large industrial system,
yet an enormous number of them believe that never
till then had their class been so robbed, enslaved,
and afflicted, and that never was there more need
than at present to revolutionise society, and to
reconstruct it on altogether new principles.*

I blame them not ; and still less do I blame the
Power which has made human nature so that the
more it gets the more it would have, and that
attainment rarely brings to it contentment, or
outward prosperity inward satisfaction ; for I see
that unhappiness and discontent have uses in the
education of mankind, and functions in history,

* That men with merely the education of ordinary workmen should be
able to believe their condition worse than that of the workmen of all
former generations is, of course, hut little surprising, when men like Wm.
Morris and E. Belfort Bax can gravely assert that ^'■the whole of our
unshilled labouring classes are in a far worse position as to food, housing, and
clothing than any but the extreme fringe of the corresjmnding class in the
Jliddle Ages" ("Socialism, its Growth and Outcome," p. 79). It is to
be regretted that none of those who have made assertions of this kind
have attempted to prove them, although they could hardly have failed to
perceive that if they succeeded they would thereby not only make a most
valuable contribution to historical science, but inflict a really fatal blow-
on the civilisation which they detest. Julius Wolff, in his " System der
Socialpolitik," Bd. i. pp. 375-389, has some interesting rem.arks on such
assertions, and on the state of mind in which they originate.



r264 SOCIALISM

which abundantly justify their existence. But I
■cannot take due account either of the character of
human nature or of the history of the operative
•classes without inferring that if working men believe,
as Socialists endeavour to persuade them to believe,
that were Communism or Collectivism even estab-
lished and found to possess all the economic advan-
tages which have been ascribed to them, unhappiness
and discontent would thereby be lessened, they are
lamentably easy to delude. The sources of human
misery are not so easily stopped. Dissatisfaction
will not be conjured away by any change in tlie
mere economic arrans^ements of societv. Before as
^fter all such changes there will be not only dis-
content but the risks of disorder, conspiracy, and
revolution, which at present exist. Collectivism
will need its police and its soldiers, its tribunals
and prisons and armaments, just like Industrialism.
•Good reasons, indeed, might, I think, be given for
holding that it must require a larger force at its
•disposal to crush rebellion and ensure peace.

Excellence of every kind is, like hap})iness, very
difficult to attain. None of the ideal aims implicit
in our nature can be fully realised ; and even approxi-
mations thereto can only be made through toil and
self-denial. To become proficient in any department
of learning, science, or art, a man must not only
Jiave superior and aj)propriate abilities, but make a
patient, strenuous, and anxious use of them. It is
only the very few who with their utmost exertion
can attain high eminence, true greatness, of any
kind. The late M. Littrd's ordinary day of intel-



SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION 265

lectual toil, was during a considerable period of his
life, about fourteen hours ; and the labours of mind
are certainly not less exhausting than those of body.

The way of perfect duty is the hardest way of
all. We have been told that it is " easier for a
camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for
a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven,"
that kingdom which is righteousness and purity and
peace of spirit. Is it easier for the poor to enter in ?
When I consider their temptations and difficulties I
fear that it may often not be so.

Manifestly we have not been made for ease and
happiness in this world. Manifestly those who
would persuade us that merely to alter our social
arrangements will go far to secure our welfare are
mistaken. An illusion so childish is unworthy of
grown men, and the more plainly those who foster
it or cherish it are told so the better. We should
look at the world as it is ; face life as it is ; seek no
earthly paradise, as it is sure to be only a fool's
paradise ; and be content patiently to endure hard-
ships and resolutely to encounter obstacles, if thereby
we can improve even a little either ourselves or our
fellow- men.

We have no right to expect to see in our days
complete social organisation, or any near approxima-
tion to it. Social organisation proceeds with varying
rates of rapidity at different times and in different
places, but on the whole slowly. It is not accom-
plished by leaps and bounds. It is a continuous
process, which began with the beginning of society,
and has never been quite arrested, but which has



266 SOCIALISM

always been only a gradual transformation of the
old into the new throiio-h slight but repeated modi-
fications. Society has been always organic, and,
therefore, has been always organising or disorganising
itself ; it is organic now, and, therefore, at every
point the subject of organisation or disorganisation.
It is not a collection or mass of inoro-anic materials
capable of being organised at will, as wood, stone,
and metals can be built up into a house according to
a given plan, and as rapidly as may be wished. The
power of statesmen in relation to the organisation of
society is slight in comparison with the power of
Ijuilders and engineers in relation to houses and
bridges. Society must organise itself by a slow and
multiform evolution.

Now, it is not even denied by contemporary
Socialists that their predecessors overlooked the
truth just indicated, and, in consequence, failed to
fulfil the promises which they made, and to justify
the hopes which they awakened ; that Owen, Saint-
Simon, and Fourier, for instance, proceeded on the
assumption that they could organise society according
to their several ideals and schemes without troubling
themselves much as to its own natural evolution ;
and that the result was that their systems were
essentially Utopian, quite unrealisable on any large
scale. What the socialistic theorists of to-day tell
us is that they have got wholly rid of this error ;
that Socialism has ceased to be Utopian, and is now
scientific ; that instead of contravening historical
evolution the new Socialism is based upon it ; and
that its adherents do not " look for anything but



&



SOCIALISM AND SOCIAL ORGANISATION 267

the gradual passing of the old order into the new,
without breach of continuity or abrupt general
chano-e of social tissue."

Such statements are not to be implicitly trusted.
For, first, a theoretical belief in the necessarily
gradual evolution of society is quite compatible
with practical disregard of its natural and rational
consequences. Saint-Simon and Fourier, like Con-
dorcet before them, saw more clearly than the bulk
of their contemporaries that the history of mankind
had been a slow and continuous development, and
yet they extravagantly deceived themselves as to
the rate and character of social organisation in the
future. Auguste Comte had quite as firm a grasp
of the conception of historical evolution as Carl
Marx, and yet he believed that his ludicrous religion
of humanity would be established throughout the
West during the present century ; in seven years
afterwards over the monotheistic East ; and in
thirteen years more, by the conversion and re-
generation of all the polytheistic and fetichist
peoples, over the whole earth. It is not less
possible for even cultured and intellectual Marxist
Collectivists, and evolutionist Socialists of other
types, to be as credulous ; and most of them, I
imagine, are so.

They argue that Collectivism, for example, is
inevitably arising from industrialism, as industrial-
ism arose from feudalism , and because they thus
reason from a scientific conception or theory, that of
historical evolution, they conclude that they must
be sober scientific thinkers. But even if the argu-



268 SOCIALISM

ment were good, it would not warrant expectation
of the establishment of Collectivism in Europe until
three or four hundred years from this date. It has



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