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accomplished ; to reintroduce protection and privi-
lege ; to withdraw the common rights of men in order
to equalise co nditions by favouring some at the ex-
pense of others ; and, in a word, to suppress natural
liberty and to violate justice. Were Socialists,
however, to do otherwise they would virtually
admit that the economic and other evils under
which society is suffering are of a kind to be dealt
with not by such revolutions as may be necessary to
gain essential rights and natural liberties but by
such reforms — i.e., such measures of adjustment and
improvement — as will always be needed to ensure the
proper exercise of rights, and to prevent the abuses
of liberties, which have been gained.

Accordingly they persist in presenting an exag-
gerated and distorted view of the social situation.
And in order to give plausibility to it they de-
nounce as akin to those social and civil distinctions
ao-ainst which the France of the Revolution so
justly protested, others which are of an entirely
different character. But they are thereby inevi-
tably led to deny the principle and to contravene

2 B



386 SOCIALISM

the spirit of fraternity. Whenever, for example,
they represent the distinction between rich and
poor as equivalent in itself to one between the
privileged and the oppressed, they set the poor
against the rich by teaching error. There is
nothing unjust in men having very unequal shares
of wealth. To prevent the freedom of choice and
conduct the exercise of which leads some to wealth
and others to poverty would be manifestly unjust
so long as that freedom was not immorally and
dishonestly applied. To equalise fortunes by the
employment of force and the suppression of liberties
would be manifestly to oppress those levelled down
and unfairly to favour those levelled up.

Besides, when liberty is only limited by justice there
is no absolute division or distinction between rich and
poor : they do not form separate castes or even dis-
tinct "estates." There is, in this case, a continuous
gradation from the richest of the rich to the poorest
of the poor, and there is no inequality of rights,
such as there was between the nobility and clergy
of France and the great bulk of the French people
before the Revolution.

Socialists must likewise bear the responsibility of
having seriously violated the principle of fraternity
by habitually representing capitalists, both good
and bad, as the enemies and oppressors of the
working classes. They have thus spread hatred
and enmity among those who ought to live on
terms of friendly and fraternal relationship. And
they have similarly erred by indulging in much
mischievous abuse of the shop-keeping and trading



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 387

community, or bourgeoisie as they call it. They
have represented it as a non-productive and parasitic
body composed of peculiarly narrow-minded, pre-
judiced, and selfish persons, and manual labourers
as mentally and morally superior to them, and the
only true authors of national wealth. At the same
timie, further to deceive and embitter those whom
they have thus flattered, they are accustomed to
describe them as the proletariat — i.e., to apply to
them a term of insult and shame, one only applica-
ble to the idle, servile, improvident, and dissolute,
and wholly inappropriate to men who honestly labour
for their bread. While, then. Socialists have placed
the word " fraternity " conspicuously in their pro-
grammes and on their banners, they have, in
general, deplorably disregarded and dishonoured it
in their speeches, writings, and actions. I rejoice
to acknowledge that there are exceptions, signal
and noble exceptions, to this statement ; but as a
general statement it cannot be disputed.

The thought of fraternity readily suggests that
of charity, for brethren ought to love and aid one
another. A man who really feels the brotherhood of
men cannot but recognise in every sufferer the appro-
priate object of his sympathy, nor can he fail to do
his part in supplying the wants of the needy. How,
then, is Socialism related to charity, understanding
the term in its ordinary signification ? Socialism
aims at suppressing the need of charity, at least so
far as poverty constitutes the need. It professes to
be a complete solution of the problem of misery. It



388 SOCIALISM

undertakes to secure that there shall be no poor,
but that all men shall be equally rich, or at least
sufficiently rich. What are we to think of it in this
respect ?

It would not be fair to charge it with want of
charity. If it err as to charity it is owing to its
feeling of charity. And it is commendable in aiming
at reducing the need for charity. If poverty could
be abolished by us we undoubtedly ought to abolish
it. It is a duty to strive to get rid of it so far as is
possible without causing evils even worse than
itself Socialistic teaching as to charity is healthily
counteractive of much churchly teaching on the
subject which has done enormous mischief.

In Palestine at the time of Christ, and generally
throughout the Roman Empire in the early centuries
of Christianity, charity in the form of almsgiving,
or at least of relief which involved no demand for
labour or exertion from the recipient, was not only
an appropriate, but almost the only way, of relieving
poverty. In inculcating brotherly love, Christ
naturally enjoined His hearers to show it in what
was the only form in which they could show it.
But unfortunately his exhortations to almsgiving
have been widely so misunderstood and misapplied
as to have enormously increased the power and
wealth of the Church and the number and degrada-
tion of the poor. In several countries of Europe
so-called charity has, perhaps, done more harm than
even war. To provide remunerative work, and so to
make almsgiving as unnecessary as possible, is what
is most required at the present day. A man who



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 389

establishes a successful manufactory in the west of
Ireland would thereby do much more good there than
by giving away a large fortune in alms.

But it is one thing to be aware of the abuses of
charity and another to deny such need for it as
really exists, or to fancy, as Socialists do, that the
need for it is temporary, and may be easily got rid
of. I fear that vast as are the sums at present
spent in charity, they are not vaster than are re-
quired ; and that comparatively few people who give
with discrimination and after due inquiry, give too
much in charity. I confess even to not seeing any
probability that our earth will become free from
sorrow and suffering, pain and poverty, so long as
the physical constitution and arrangements of the
world remain generally what they are, and especially
so long as human nature and its passions are not
essentially changed.

Will the adoption of Communism or Collectivism
prevent earthquakes and tempests, pestilence and
disease, drought and famine, catastrophes and acci-
dents? Will it expel from the hearts and lives
of men solfishness and folly, improvidence, envy,
and ambition ? If not, or, in other words, if the
old order of things continues, if the world is not,
through some great material change and spiritual
manifestation, transfigured into a new earth with
a regenerated humanity, we may expect our earth
to remain a place where chanty will find abundant
opportunities for exercise.

It is not nearly so probable that a communistic or
collectivlstic organisation of society would diminish



390 SOCIALISM

the need for charity as it is that it would weaken
the motives to it and deprive it of resources.
AVithout freedom and the consequent inequahty of
fortunes there might well have been far more misery
in the world than there has been, while there could
not have been the wonderful development of charity
and of charitable institutions which is so conspicuous
in the history of Christendom.

Socialists would abolish charity by providing work
for, and rendering it compulsory on, all who are
capable of working, and by granting to those who
are incapable the supply of their wants in the name,
not of charity, but of justice. Are they sure, how-
ever, that they could always provide work for all
who need it ? Are they sure that they could always
provide it on such terms as would be tolerable to
workmen ? If they are, one would like very much
to know their secret. If they have one, they have
not yet divulged it. As for the idle and dissolute,
those whose poverty is voluntary and disgraceful,
how are Socialists to compel them to maintain them-
selves by labour except by violence or starvation?
But we could do it by these means without Socialism ;
we are only prevented from doing it by our respect
for human liberty and our soft-heartedness.

Then, although calling what is really of the nature
of charity "justice" is very characteristic of Social-
ism, it is also a worse than useless device. It can
only do harm to confound the provinces of justice
and of charity. We ought to give to justice all that
belonofs to it, and seek in addition to diffuse and
deepen the feeling of the obligatoriness of charity ;



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 391

but we ought not to encourage men to claim pre-
tended rights, and deaden in them the sense of
gratitude for acts of kindness and generosity.

Individuals, voluntary associations, and the Church
have often, in their dispensation of charity, com-
mitted serious mistakes, and aggravated the evils
which they desired to remove. But they have not
erred more grievously than has the State. The old
English Poor Law was the cause of an enormous
amount of poverty and of demoralisation. " England,"
says Fawcett, " was brought nearer to the brink of
ruin by it than she ever was by a hostile army." *

It would be a deplorable policy to entrust the
State with the exclusive right to deal with the
problem of poverty, or with the means of satisfying
all the demands of poverty. The result would
assuredly be that the State would waste and abuse
the resources foolishlv confided to it, and that idle-
ness and vice would be encouraged. The State in
its dealings with poverty should only be allowed to
act under clear and definite rules, and should be
kept rigidly to economy. While it ought to see
that all charitable societies and institutions regularly
publish honest accounts, and should from time to
time carefully inquire into and report on the good
and evil results which they are producing, it should,
instead of seeking to substitute its own action for
free and spontaneous charity, encourage such charity,
and only intervene in so far as may be necessary to
supply its deficiencies.

* "Socialism ; its Causes and Remedies," p. 25.



392 SOCIALISM

Socialism vainly pretends to be able to do away
with poverty and misery. But, of course, it could
abolish true charity, and arrest the free mani-
festations of it. It could everywhere substitute
for spontaneous and voluntary charity what is
already known among us as " legal charity " and
" official charity." That, however, would be the
reverse of an improvement. " Legal charity " is a
contradiction in terms : there can be no charity
where there is a legal right or claim, and no
choice or freedom. So is " official charity," because
even when officials are allowed some decree of
liberty and discretion in giving or withholding,
what they give is not their own. Hence neither
legal nor official charity can be expected to call
forth gratitude.

But, although charity does not work in order to
obtain gratitude, it cannot accomplish its perfect
work without evoking it. For gratitude itself is
an immense addition to the value of the crifts or
effiscts of charity. It makes material boons moral
blessings. It is an intrinsically purifying and
elevating emotion, and can never be experienced
without making the heart better. When we know
it to be sincere, it is the best evidence we can
have that he who is now receivincr a kindness
will in other circumstances be ready to bestow one.
Charity to be fully and in a high sense, effective,
must be obviously self-sacrificing, and capable
of adapting itself to the particular wants of in-
dividuals. The State, acting through law and
officials, is incapable of a cliarity thus real and



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 393

efficacious. It makes no sacrifice, and it cannot
individualise.*

Socialism has been to a certain extent favourable
to the diffusion of international or cosmopolitan
feelinof. It has laboured with success to convince
the workmen of different nations that they have
common interests. It has taught them to organise
themselves internationally with a view to promote
these interests. We may well believe that the
ranofe of their intellectual vision and of their moral
sympathies has been thereby also extended. Pos-
sibly the section of British workmen which is most
under the influence of socialistic feelings and ideas
is the jDortion of the British people which is least
insular in its thoug-hts and sentiments. Socialism,
simply through awakening workmen to a sense of
the solidarity of their interests over all the civilised
world, has, doubtless, also helped them in some
measure towards a true appreciation of the brother-
hood of mankind.

And, it must be added. Socialism has further
directly inculcated human fraternity. It has ex-
plicitly proclaimed universal brotherhood, the love
of man as man, irrespective of race, country, and
relicrion. Socialists deserve credit for the earnest-
ness with which they have recommended peace



* There is no "individualising," in the sense meant, when a Government
official admits the claims of certain applicants for poor-law relief and
refuses those of others. The official is only empowered to decide to what
legal categories the applicants belong. There should be no administrative
freedom beyond what is conferred by the law administered.



394 SOCIALISM

between peoples; for the emphasis and outspoken-
ness with which they liave condemned the wars
"which originate in personal ambition, in the pride
or selfishness of dynasties, and in the vanity or
envy, the blind prejudices or unreasoning aversions
of nations. They have certainly no sympathy with
Jingoism.

Yet on the whole Socialism does not tend to give
to the world peace. It is far indeed from being really
rooted as some have pretended in the love of man as
man. The fraternity which it proclaims is narrow,
sectional, and self-contradictory. Such love as it
can be honestly credited with possessing is very
inferior to the pure, unselfish, all-embracing affection
enjoined by Christ and eulogised by St. Paul. It is a
class feeling, partial in its scope, mixed in its nature,
half love and half hate, generous and noble in some
of its elements but envious and mean in others.*

Hence while Socialism denounces the wars for
which Governments are responsible, it at the same
time inflames passions, favours modes of thought,
and excites to courses of conduct likely to give
rise to wars even more terrible and fratricidal.



• The defectiveness of the socialistic conception of fraternity is by no
means visible only in bad feelings and bad actions towards those who are
not manual labourers. It is likewise very strikingly exhibited by the
extent to which Socialism belies its professions of sympathy even with the
operative classes. Socialistic legislation and socialistic intervention in
regard to labour have been largely characterised by injustice and cruelty
to the classes of workers most in need of fair treatment and generous aid ;
largely in favour of the strong and to the injury of the weak^expatriated
foreigners, non-unionists, and women. This aspect of Socialism, especially
as it has manifested itself in France, has been effectively dealt with by
M. Yves Guyotin "La Tyrannic Socialiste," 1893.



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 395

The enmities of class which it evokes may easily
lead to greater horrors than those of nations. It is
mere credulity to suppose that Socialism is tend-
ing to the abolition of war. Wherever there is
prevalent a militant and revolutionary Socialism
civil war must be imminent and large armies prime
necessities. Were Socialism out of the way we
might reasonably hope that the calamity of a great
European war would not be wholly without com-
pensation, Inasmuch as it might issue in a general
disarmament. But so long as in every country of
Europe there exists a Socialism ready In the train
of such a war to Imitate the deeds of the Parisian
Commune we cannot reasonably cherish any hope of
the kind. At present our civilisation, It has been
aptly said, "has an underside to it of terrible
menace ; as, in ancient Athens, the Cave of the
Furies was underneath the rock, on whose top sat
the Court of the Areopagus. The Socialism of our
day is a real Cave of the Furies. And the Furies
are not asleep in their Cave."* The socialistic spirit
must be expelled before there can be social peace.

Further, while Socialism has so far favoured
internationalism it has, as a general rule, discoun-
tenanced patriotism. Of course, no one denies that
there has often been much that was spurious and
foolish, blind and evil, in patriotism, or at least in
what professed to be patriotism ; much, in a word,
deserving of censure and contempt. For discoun-
tenancing anything of that nature no blame attaches

* R. D. Hitchcock, "Socialism," p. i (1S79).



J



396 SOCIALISM

to Socialism. But unfortunately it has also assailed
patriotism itself. Pages on pages might be filled
with quotations from socialistic publications in proof
of this. Mr, Bax does not misrepresent the common
strain and trend of socialistic opinion and sentiment
on the point when he writes thus : — " For the
Socialist the word frontier does not exist ; for him
love of country, as such, is no nobler sentiment
than love of class. The blustering ' patriot ' bigot,
big with England's glory, is precisely on a level with
the bloated plutocrat, proud to belong to that great
' middle class,' which he assures you is ' the back-
bone of the nation.' Bace-pride and class-pride are,
from the standpoint of Socialism, involved in the
same condemnation. The establishment of Socialism,
therefore, on any national or race basis is out of the
question. No, the foreign policy of the great inter-
national socialist party must be to break up those
hideous race monopolies called empires, beginning in
each case at home. Hence everything which makes
for the disruption and disintegration of the empire
to which he belongs must be welcomed by the
Socialist as an ally."*

That those who are blind to the sio^nificance of
individuality should thus see nothing to admire in
nationality is just what was to be expected. Nation-
ality is for a people what individuality is to a person,
— that in it which determines its distinctive form of
being and life, which confers on it an organic and

* "The Religion of Socialism," p. 126. On the relation of Socialism to
patriotism the reader may profitably consult Bourdeau, pp. 86-91 of the
work already mentioned.



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 397

moral character, and which impels it to assert and
maintain its rights to a free and independent
existence and to a national and full self-realisation.
Socialism is only logical when it proposes to treat
national individuality in the same manner as personal
individuality. But it is none the less erroneous on
that account.

Nationality is a great and sacred fact. No other
principle has been seen in our own age to evoke an
enthusiasm more intense, sacrifices more disinter-
ested, exertions more heroic, than that of nationality.
Faith in it has built up nations under our very eyes.
When the jDeojDles of Europe renounce this faith
which has been instilled into them by the words and
examples of a Gioberti and Mamiani, a Mazzini,
Garibaldi and Kossuth, a Quinet and Hugo, and a
host of kindred spirits, for belief in the principle of
national disruption and disintegration inculcated by
socialists and anarchists, sophists and sceptics, they
will make a miserable exchange. The sense of
nationality and of its claims, the love of country,
patriotism, is neither a fanatical particularism nor a
formless egotistical cosmopolitanism. It no more
excludes than it is excluded by the love of humanity.
Purged from ignorance, so as to be no blind instinct
such as makes the wild beast defend its forest or
mountain lair, and purged from selfishness, so as to
manifest itself not in contempt or enmity towards
strangers but in readiness to make whatever sacrifices
the good of our own countrymen calls for, it is a
truly admirable affection, binding, as it does, through
manifold ties of sympathy the members of a common-



398 SOCIALISM

wealth into a single body, raising them above them-
selves through a consciousness of duties to a land
and people endeared to them by a thousand memories
and associations, and so inducing and strengthening
them to conform to all the conditions on which the
harmony and happiness of national life depend.*

We pass on to consider how Socialism stands
related to justice. Justice and benevolence, right-
eousness and goodness, are neither identical nor
separable. The goodness which does not observe
and uphold justice is not true goodness ; the justice
which does not seek to promote the ends of good-
ness is not true justice.

True love of man seeks the highest good of man,
which certainly includes righteousness (justice) ; it
will use any means, however painful, which will

* Bishop Westcott has in the following lines beautifully indicated how
true patriotism will operate in social and economic life : — " The Christian
patriot will bend his energies to this above all things, that he may bring
to light the social fellowship of his countrymen. He will not tire in urging
others to confess in public, what home makes clear, that love and not
interest is alone able to explain and to guide our conduct — love for some-
thing outside us, for something above us, for something more enduring
than ourselves : that self-devotion and not self-assertion is the spring of
enduring and beneficent influence : that each in his proper sphere — work-
man, capitalist, teacher — is equally a servant of the State feeding in a
measure that common life by which he Uvea : that work is not measured
but made possible by the wages rendered to the doer ; that the feeling of
class is healthy, like the narrower affections of home, till it claims to be
predominant : that we cannot dispense, except at the cost of national
impoverishment, with the peculiar and independent services of numbers
and of wealth and of thought, which respectively embody and interpret
the present, the past, and the future : that we cannot isolate ourselves as
citizens any more than as men, and that if we willingly offer to our country
what we have, we shall in turn share in the rich fulness of the life of all."
— "Social Aspects of Chiistianity," pjj. 45-6.



SOCIALISM AND MORALITY 399

stimulate and aid man to realise his highest good,
and to become what he ought to be. The sense of
justice can be satisfied with nothing short of the
realisation of righteousness itself ; it cannot seek or
be satisfied with punishment for its own sake. A
man who punishes merely because punishment is
deserved, and rests content when deserved punish-
ment is inflicted, cannot be a good man, inasmuch
as he seeks not the good of the person he punishes.
And he is not even a just man, for it is not the
realisation of righteousness but only the punishment
of crime that he seeks. Any being who is in the
highest and widest sense just, who is truly and com-
pletely righteous, must be also benevolent, gracious,
and merciful, because a genuine and perfect right-
eousness desires not only to punish sin but to destroy
it and to make every being wholly righteous ; and
the attainment of this can alone satisfy also absolute
love, generosity, and compassion. Conversely where
there is perfect love, a faultless and unlimited bene-
volence, it must seek the rio-hteousness throuofh
which alone its end, the utmost welfare of all, can
be reached.

Socialism does well then when it insists that
human society ought to be founded on justice and
that all the relations of men in society should be
conformed to justice. There may be virtues which
deserve at times more praise than justice, but it is
only when they are in accordance with justice. All
affections and all courses of conduct into which the
sense of justice does not to some extent enter, are
not entitled to be regarded as virtues ; and if con-



Online LibraryRobert FlintSocialism → online text (page 29 of 38)