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movement of all who retained the slightest suspicion of superstition."



BRITISH SOCIALISM 49

called for to palliate the evils of existing society," " means of
transition to the socialistic state," and the like, the schemes and
proposals of the Libei'alism or Radicalism which it professes to-
despise. All these it claims as socialistic, and presents as if they
were original discoveries of its own. It has thus put so-called
Liberalism and Radicalism to a serious disadvantage, and greatly
benefited itself. The result is not yet so apparent in the dis-
organisation and weakening of Liberalism or Radicalism in Britain
as in German)', but it can hardly fail to manifest itself. In its
real spirit and nature, of course, Socialism is more akin to Pro-
tectionism of the Paternal State type than to Liberalism. Hence
there are various shades and degrees of what is known as State
Socialism.

Finally, British Socialism owes most of the strength it possesses
to its connection with the cause of Labour. We are not thei-efore
to suppose, however, that it has thereby secured to itself the full
strength of the Labour Movement. Socialism for the reason just
indicated naturally seems large and strong. But for the same
reason it may be much smaller and weaker than it seems. Many
who profess to be Socialists would probably disown Socialism just
when it began to be properly socialistic, i.e., to expropriate, col-
lectivise, and compulsorily organise. Our British Socialism is quite
possibly not unlike " the great image" of Nebuchadnezzar's dream;
of which, we are told, " the brightness was excellent," " the form
terrible," and the materials " gold, silver, brass, and ii-on " ; yet
which, because it rested on feet partly of clay, became, when
struck, "like the chaff of the summer threshing-flooi\" May not
real Socialism be only the clay in the feet of " the great imas^e,"
nominal Socialism ?

Within the last two years various changes have taken place in
the socialistic periodical press.

Anarchism has, so far as I am aware, no periodical organ in
England at present. Freedom has, I think, ceased to appear,
but I am not sure of this ; it has often shown itself alive aftei-
being supposed to be dead. The Commonweal, once the organ of
the Socialist League, has not been published since May 1892,
when its editor was condemned to imprisonment on the charge of
writing an article inciting to the murder of Mr. Justice Hawkins.
The Anarchist party is universally admitted to be a ver}- small



so SOCIALISM

one; and we mny congi-atulate ourselves that it is so, notwith-
standing that Mr. Sidney Webb assures us that the Anarcliist
is a man " whose main defect may be characterised as being " too
good for this world " (" Socialism in England," p. 55).

The following socialistic periodicals are in circulation at the
pi-esent time (JuneiS93): — Justice, The Worhaan's Times, The
Clarion, and The Christian Weekly — all weekly publications ; and
llie Labour Elector, The Lahour Froj)het, The Labour Leader, Land
and Labour, Brotherhood, The Chitrch Reformer, and The Positivist
Revieto — all monthly publications.

Justice is the oldest oi-gan of pure Socialism in the United
Kingdom, and at present the only organ of the Social Demo-
cratic Federation. It may fairly claim to have " for the past ten
years fearlessly and honestly advocated the cause of Socialism." It
has avoided every kind of compromising concession, and rather
repelled than sought partial sympathisers. The number of sub-
scribers to this consistent and ably conducted paper would,
perhaps, be about the clearest indication procurable as to the
extent of the belief in Socialism pui"e and simple. It is admitted
that the number has never been large. H. M. Hyndman, H.
Quelch, E. Belfort Bax, W. Uttley, and S. Stepniak are among
its chief contiiljutors.

The Workman's Times is in the third year of its existence. Its
contents are of a somewhat miscellaneovis nature. Its principles
are decidedly Marxian. Messrs. Champion and Barry accvise it
of attempting to exploit the Independent Labour Party for
business purposes. Its chief merit is the amount of information
which it gives regarding Continental Socialism. Of its con-
tributors may be named Eleanor and Ed. Marx-Aveling, H.
Halliday Sparling, Miss Conway, and H. Bussell Smart, &c.

The Clarion is published at Manchester, and edited by " Nun-
quam " (R. Blatchford). Some of the contributions of the editor
show reading and reflection, but no praise can be honestly given
to three-fourths of the contents of each number. Until I saw
this publication I believed it impossible that Socialists, men profess-
ing to have a great cause and mission at heart, could be on a level
either as regards intelligence or taste with the readei's of Sloper.

The Christian Weekly is a new periodical, a sequel to Religious
Bits. It aims at promoting a reformation which " will result in



BRITISH SOCIALISM 51

the abolition of the monopolies of land and capital, wliicli create
the extremes of poverty and riches ; of the vested interests which
maintain the drink traffic ; of the want and luxury which pro-
pagate sexual immorality ; and of the legal violence which compels
one man to do the will of another." It has on its staff a practised
expositor of Socialism in J. C. Kenworthy.

We pass to the monthlies. The Labour Elector has appeared
monthly instead of weekly since May, owing to the illness of its
chief conductor, Mr. H. H. Champion, a man of strong individuality
who has long taken an active part in socialistic and labour move-
ments. It is exceptionally free, for a socialistic publication, from
visionariness ; shows no prejudice in favovir of popular politicians ;
And is candid to excess, perhaps, in pointing out the weaknesses
and faults of the " friends of Labour." Its claim to " treat of
all important Labour questions from an absokitely indcjpendent
point of view " is not likely to be challenged by any one ; but it
may, perhaps, be thought that it also treats of all Labour leaders,
except Mr. Champion, too much de haut en has. It does not
expend much of its strength in direct socialistic propagandism.

The Labour Prophet, the organ of the Labour Church, is edited
by John Trevor, and published at Manchester. The Labour
Leader is edited by Keir Hardie, M.P., and published at Dum-
fries. Land and Labor is the organ of the Land Nationalisation
Society.

Brotherhood, a Magazine of Social Progress, is in its seventh
year. It is owing to the self-sacrifice of its editor, Mr. J. Bruce
Wallace, M.A., of Brotherhood Church, that it has attained this
age. In May of the present year there was incorporated with it
The Xationalization News : the Journal of the Nationalization oj
Labour Society, established to Promote the System Proposed in
'■''Looking Backward." The Christian Socialist had been previously
amalgamated with it. It aims at propagating the principles of
Universal Brotherhood and Industrial Co-operation upon a
national and religious basis, and demands of those who reject
Socialism to show them " some more fraternal social system, some
fuller practical recognition of what is associated in the Divine
All-Fatherhood." The group of Socialists represented by Brother-
hood is characterised by faith in Mr. Bellamy and in home co-
operative colonies.



52 SOCIALISM

The Church Reformer, edited by the Eev. Stewart D. ITendlam,
is (only in part) the organ of the Guild of St. Matthew. This
Guild, founded by Mr, Headlam, has for objects: — " i. To get
rid, by every possible means, of the existing prejudices, espe-
cially on the part of ' secularists,' against the Church, her Sacra-
ments and Doctrines ; and to endeavour ' to justify God to the
people.' 2. To promote frequent and reverent worship in the
Holy Communion, and a better observance of the teaching of the
Church of England as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
3. To promote the study of Social and Political Questions in the
light of the Incarnation." If the views of the members of the
Guild are even in general accordance with those of the editor and
chief contributors to The Church Reformer there can be no more
reasonable doubt of the genuineness of their Socialism than of
their Sacerdotalism. Mr. Headlam and his friends are naturally
much occupied at present with the question of Disestablishment.
They oppose the Disestablishment policy of the Liberationists, not
only on the ground of its selfishness and unspirituality, but also
of its inadequacy and incompleteness. What they themselves
demand is a liberation of the Church from Mammon and Caste ;
that the Church shall be treated as a universal brotherhood of
equals, a spiritual democi-acy, in which all baptised are entitled to
a share in the election of their bishops and clergy ; that patronage
in all forms shall be abolished ; and that all endowments and
property shall be nationalised without any distinction between
Chui'ch or other property, or between the property of one Church
and another. Landowners they would get rid of by taxation which
is to rise by degrees till it reaches 20s. in the pound. " As for
compensation," says Mr. Headlam, " from the point of view of
the highest Christian morality, it is the landlords who should
compensate the people, not the people the landlords. But prac-
tically, if you carry out this reform by taxation, no compensation
would be necessary or even possible " (" Christian Socialism,'^
p. 14).

Positivism claims to be the truest and completest form of
Socialism; and so I may here mention The Positivist Review, pub-
lished since the beginning of the present year, and containing in
each number a contribution by Frederic Harrison, by Dr. Bridges^
and by its editor, Professor Beesly.



BRITISH SOCIALISM 53

There is a quarterly periodical, Seed-Time, which is mildly and
vaguely socialistic. It is the organ of the New Fellowship, a
society which has arisen from the personal and literai-y influence
of Mr. Edward Carpenter, author of "Towards Democracy,"
«• England's Ideal," &c. The general aim of the New Fellowship
is one with which few men will fail to sympathise ; it is truly to
socialise the world by truly humanising it. Its central thought
can hardly be better expressed than in the following sentence of
Mr. Maurice Adams : " The greatest aid we can render towards
the abolition of despotism, and the establishment of a true
democracy, both in the home and in the State, is to allow the New
Spirit of Solidarity and Fellowship to have full possession of our
being, so that it may, as Walter Besant has so happily expressed
it, ' destroy respect and build up reverence ; ' to allow free play to
our sympathy with every human being, that the thought of his
subjection or degradation may be as intolerable to us as that of
our own ; to give our full allegiance to the great truth that only
in mutual service and comradeship can we ever realise life's
deepest joy." The members of the New Fellowship are obviously
good, cultvn-ed, high-minded men and women, deeply imbued with
the sentiments and ideas which are the inspiration and essence of
the writings of Ruskin, Thoreau, and Tolstoi, of Wordsworth,
Browning, and Tennyson. Seed-Time, like Brotherhood, has
advocated the formation of industrial villages for the able-bodied
poor.

The Social Outlook is an occasional magazine, edited by the Rev.
Herbert V. Mills, Honorary Secretary of the Home Colonisation
Society. The attempt made at Starnthwaite, under the direction
of Mr. Mills, ended in May last in forced evictions.

The socialistic periodicals mentioned above are all those known
to me, but there may quite possibly be others. There are cer-
tainly not a few newspapers and journals which show a bias
towards Socialism.

The Fabian Society, founded in 1883, does not maintain an
official journal, but it is active in issuing tracts. Its leading
members, although nebulous thinkers, are fluent speakers and
expert writers, and well known as popular lecturers and
essayists.

The strength of Socialism in Britain lies mainly in London.



54 SOCIALISM

Socialism does not appear to be flourishing in Scotland. There
are, however, socialist societies in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Abei-deen,
and Dundee. In Ireland Socialism has hardly yet made itself
felt. This is, of course, because in Ireland only the Land Question
has been of late agitated. When the Labour Question emerges
Socialism will appear, probably in a very bad form.

British Socialism has an extraordinary number of officei'S
relatively to privates. Many of them are able, and some of them
are distinguished men ; but no general or commander, no man
of great organising and guiding genius has yet appeared among
them.

The best account of the development of Socialism in this
country is Sidney Webb's " Socialism in England," 1S90. Mr.
Webb is a prominent member of the Fabian Society.*



* The foregoing note was written in June 1893, and the author holds
himself responsible only for its correctness at that date. There is probably
no portion of the periodical press in which comparatively so many changes
occur as the socialistic. The Comnwniceal has reappeared, and The Labour
Leader is now published in London and Glasgow.

The German socialistic periodicals are much more numerous than the
British, and the French still more numerous than the German. German
anarchist journals have been for the most part published in London and
in the United States. The Arheiterfreund (printed in Hebrew characters),
the Autonomie, anarchistisches, JiommuvistiscJies Organ, and the Freiheit,
Internationales Organ der Anarchisten deutscher Spraclie, are among those
which have been printed in London.

The Fiench anarchist journals are numerous, and generally of the most
mischievous character. Among those which have appeared during the
last ten or twelve years are VAffami, L'Alarme, L'Audace, La Bataille,
Ca ira, Le Defi, Le Drapeau Noir, Le Drapeau Rouge, Le Droit anarchique,
L'^meute, Le Forgat du Travail, URijtlre anarckiste, U Internatalanarchiste,
La Lutte sociale, La Eevolte, Le Bevolte, L^a Eevue anarchiste, La Bevue
AntijMtriotique, and La Vengeance anarchiste.

During the last few years Socialism has been making rapid progress in
France. Whereas in the elections of 1889 the Socialist votes amounted to
only 90,000, in 1S93 they numbered 500,000, of which 226,000 were from
Paris alone. The Socialists in the Chamlicr of Deputies are consequently
now able to play as preponderating a role as do the Irish Nationalists ia
our own House of Commons.



CHAPTER HI.

COMMUNISM, COLLECTIVISM, AND
STATE INTERVENTION.

The two chief forms of Socialism are Communism
and Collectivism. Both are clearly included in
Socialism, and they are easily distinguishable. It
is unnecessary to say much regarding the first.
The second is the only kind of Socialism which is
very formidable, and, consequently, the only kind
which urgently requires to be discussed.

Communism is related to Socialism as a species to
its genus. All Communists are Socialists, but all
Socialists are not Communists. Perhaps all Social-
ism tends to Communism. Socialism revolts
against the inequalities of condition which result
from the exercise of liberty. But why should it
stop short, or where, in opposing them, can it stop
short, of the complete equality of conditions in
which Communism consists ? Only when property
is left undivided, when it is held and enjoyed by
the members of a society in common, is there
equality of coiidition.

It is often said that Communism is impracticable.
In reality it is the form of Socialism which is far the
most easily, and has been far the most frequently,
practised. Communistic societies have existed



56 SOCIALISM

in nearly every land, and have appeared in almost
all ages of the world. It would be easy to collect
from the last two thousand years of history many
hundreds, and, from the present century, many
dozens, of examples of such societies. The family
has from its very nature somewhat of a communis-
tic character. The aggregation of families origin-
ated those so-called primitive communities still
extant in various countries, which held land in
common, and in which there very probably was at
first proprietary equality among all the families of
each group. But such natural or naturally evolved
forms of society as families and village communities
have never been found to be exclusively communis-
tic, or without considerable distinctions and in-
equalities of condition existing between their
members. Many societies more properly designated
communistic have had their oriofin and end in
religion, as, for example, that of the early Christians
in Apostolic times, those among the Gnostic sects,
the monastic brotherhoods of the Catholic Church,
the pantheistic brotherhoods of mediaeval heretics,
&c., down to the associations of Shakers and
llappists in the United States. Keligious Com-
munism has in some cases flourished and conferred
great services on humanity, owing to the religious
abnegation and zeal which have originated and
inspired it, but it has certainly cast no light on how
the bulk of mankind may acquire a sufficiency of
the means of material well-being.

It is, perhaps, only in the present century that
communistic societies have been formed as solutions



COMMUNISM 57

of the industrial and social problem. The great
field for experiments of the kind has been the
United States. These experiments have not been
uninstructive or useless ; and no reasonable person
' will regret that they have been made, or desire to
see the liberty of repeating and varying them
restricted. It may be unwise in a man to sur-
render his individual rights or personal jDroperty in
order to become a member of a communistic society,
but if he does so freely, and can quit the society
should he get tired of it, he ought to be allowed to
have his own way. The fullest freedom of combina-
tion, of co-operation, and of association cannot be
justly withheld so long as the primary laws of
morality are not violated.

Already, however, it is clear enough that no com-
munistic experiments carried on in the backwoods of
America will yield much light as to how the economic
and social evils which endanger countries in advanced
stages of development, are to be removed or remedied.
A large number of experiments made have entirely
failed, ending in a forsaken saw-pit and an empty
larder. Others have had considerable success. In
the United States there are at the present time
between seventy and eighty communistic societies,
a goodly proportion of which are not of recent
origin, while a few of them are about a century old.
It has been estimated that their collective or asfofre-
gate wealth if equally divided among their members
would amount to about ;^8oo for each, which far
exceeds the average wealth of the population even
of the richest countries. But the slightest investi-



58 SOCIALISM

Ration of the causes of the prosperity of the more
flourishing of these societies shows that they are of
a kind which must necessarily prevent Communism
from being any generally ap})licable solution of the
social problem.

Communistic associations have had advantagfes in
America which could not have been obtained in
Europe. They have got land for little or nothing,
and timber for the mere trouble of cutting- it down.
They have lived under the protection of a powerful
government, and, through means of communication
provided by a wealth not their own, within reach of
large markets. They have, for the most part, had
capital to start with, and been composed of select
and enerofetic individuals.

But what is still more important to be remarked is,
that wherever communistic associations have not
proved failures as industrial or economical experi-
ments, their success has been dependent on two con-
ditions — namely, a small membershij) and a strict
discipline; ti:ie one of which proves that Communism
cannot be applied to nations, and the other of which
shows that it is not in harmony with the temper of a
democratic age. It is only when a communistic society
is small that each member can see it to be for his own
advantage to labour diligently and energetically.
The more the number of associates is increased the
more is the interest of each to work for the increase of
the collective wealth diminished, and the greater
become the temptations of each to idleness. If a
man be one of 400 persons engaged in any indus-
trial undertaking, the whole produce or gain of



COMMUNISM 59

which is to be equally divided among the co-opera-
tors, the inducement to exertion presented to his
mind in the form of self-interest, will probably be
stronger than that which acts on the majority of
men who work for wages. Not so, however, if he
be one in 4000 ; and if he be only one in 40,000, it
will be hopelessly weak. But were nations like
Britain, France, and Germany placed under a com-
munistic system, each man would be only one in
thirty, forty, or more millions of co-operators, all
entitled to share alike. In this case the stimulus of
self-interest to exertion would be practically nil ;
and the temptations to indolence and unfaithfulness
would be enormous.

The difficulty thus presented to the realisation of
Communism is at once so formidable and so obvious,
that a number of those who see in it the only just
system of social organisation and the only true
solution of the social problem, have felt themselves
compelled to propose that each of the nations of
Europe should be dismembered into thousands of
small, separate, independent communes. Such was
the scheme of the leaders of the socialistic insurrec-
tionists in Italy and Spain. Clearly, even if it were
carried into execution, although the individuals
within each commune might be levelled into equa-
litv, the communes themselves could not fail to be
unequal in their advantages, and thus occasions for
lusts and envyings, wars and fightings among them
would abound, while they would be at the mercy of
any nation which had been wise enough to retain
its unity. It would be a waste of time to refute so



6o SOCIALISM

monstrous a proposal ; yet the dismemberment of
nations which it recommends is an indispensable
condition to the general application of communistic
principles.

Moreover, the societies which practise Communism
must, in order to succeed, be characterised by sub-
missiveness to law and authority. The love of their
members for equality or for a common cause must be
so strong that they will be content to renounce for
them independence of judgment and action. The
Icarian societies founded by Cabet signally failed
because they consisted of men who imagined that
communistic equality could be combined with demo-
cratic freedom. The societies of Shakers founded
by Ann Lee have flourished because their members
implicitly obey the rules dictated by those whom
they suppose to be the channels of the Christ- spirit.

It is simply comical to hear Communism preached
by revolutionists and anarchists. But they may
learn not a little by attempting to practise what they
preach. Let even fifty of them join together and
endeavour to act on communistic principles, and
they will soon discover that the new order of things
which they have been recommending can no more
be carried on without a great deal of government
than could the old order of things which they
denounce ; that if government were needed to
prevent people from attempting to retain more than
they have honestly gained, still more will it be
needed to make them submit to a system based on
equal distribution, however unequal may be produc-
tion — or, in other words, on the denial of the



COLLECTIVISM 6i

labourer's right to seek a remuneration propor-
tioned to the value of his labour. Should they
succeed in living and working together harmon-
iouslv and prosperously, without any servile
surrender of their individual wills to a governing
will or common law, the sight of so great a miracle
will do far more to convert the world to their views
than argumentation or eloquence, insurrection or
martyrdom. The world has not hitherto beheld
anything of the kind. Probably it never will. To
establish a democratic Communism is likely to prove
as unmanageable a problem as to square the circle.

Communism, however, is now generally regarded
as an effete and undeveloped form of Socialism.
The kind of Socialism most in repute at present is
one which cannot be carried into practice by the
voluntarv action of individuals, or illustrated by



Online LibraryRobert FlintSocialism → online text (page 4 of 38)