William Beanland.

The case against socialism, plainly stated for the man in the street online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryWilliam BeanlandThe case against socialism, plainly stated for the man in the street → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook







The Case
against Socialism

Plainly stated
for the Man
in the Street.



London and FeIling-on>Tyne:


New York: 3 East Fourteenth Street.

Melbourne: aa6 Little Collins Street.

4 a 5 7 i




The Case
against Socialism

Plainly stated for the
Man in the Street.



CO., LTD., London and Felling-on-Tyne.
New York: 3 East Fourteenth Street. 1909.

r, OCT.1920


I DESIRE to have it distinctly understood that
an objection to SociaHsm and an aversion to
Socialistic legislation does not necessarily imply
contentment with the existing state of affairs.
I am not one of those who calmly and placidly
tell you " We are very well as we are." We are
not very well as we are. There are many
anomalies to be removed, many wrongs to be
redressed, much useless suffering to be relieved.
But there is no one remedy which will cure all
the ills of the body politic, just as there is no
one remedy which will cure all diseases of the
physical body, although many quack nostrums
are advertised which make this claim.

Socialism is the " purple pill " of politics,
warranted by those who prescribe it to be a sure
and certain cure for the manifold social evils which
civilization has brought in its train. I propose
very briefly to examine its claims.

This little work is not intended to be a text-
book for the student. He has been amply catered
for by other writers, such as Mr. W. H. Mallock
and Mr. Max Hirsch, and to these I wish to

acknowledge my own deep indebtedness. My




efforts arc entirely for the benefit of him who
will suffer most under the rule of a Socialist
State, and who — least apprehending the dangers
and fallacies of Socialism — is most liable to be
attracted by the Pinchbeck Paradise which is
promised by Socialist orators. I appeal, as they
appeal, to the Man in the Street. Let him read
and judge between us.



March, 1909-



I. — Socialistic Fallacies - - - i

II. — What is Socialism ? - - - 14

III. — Practical Difficulties - - 18

IV. — Socialism no New Thing - - 33

V, — How is a Socialist State to be

REALIZED ? - - - - 39

VI. — Socialism and the Family - - 52

VII. — Socialism and Christianity - 60

VIII. — Socialism and Slavery - - 65

IX. — Socialism and Patriotism - - 72


Plainly stated for the Man in the Street.



The whole theory of Socialism is based upon
fallacious assumptions. It is a harmful prescrip-
tion caused by a mistaken diagnosis. I have
heard open-air orators secure enthusiastic applause
by an energetic advocacy of the theory that
" labour produces all, and, therefore, as a matter
of abstract justice, has a right to all." The
Socialist speaker delights in contrasts; he pictures
on the one hand a few bloated capitalists, and
on the other the proletariat — vast riches and
unspeakable poverty — and takes no account of
the infinite gradations between. Let us examine
his statement. Does labour produce all wealth,
and, if not all, what proportion ? The production
of wealth in this country has vastly increased
during the last hundred years, and yet fifty
labourers working to-day cannot by their own
unaided efforts produce any more than the same


number of men could have produced a hundred
years ago. If the carpenter, the shoemaker, or
the navvy had to use exactly the same instru-
ments as their forefathers, they could not use
them with any greater efficiency. The agricul-
tural labourer of to-day cannot dig up a larger
area of land in a given time than his predecessors.
The same argument applies to all departments of
industry. And yet fifty men to-day can and do
produce thirty, forty, and a hundredfold more
than they could have produced if they had lived
a hundred years ago. The reason is obvious.
The brain of the inventor has brought forth
mechanical contrivances and labour-saving devices
which have vastly increased the productive power
of the labourer. The labourer has not done it
himself; it has been done for him, and, therefore,
the vast increase in production during the period
referred to must not be credited to labour, but to
another factor called ability.

We must also remember that businesses are
now much better organized than they were, and
that this also is due to the exercise of ability.
In computing, therefore, the causes of the pro-
duction of wealth, we have to reckon, besides
labour, both inventive and directive ability. Nor
must we forget that as the use of capital is
essential to all business enterprise, the man who
supplies the capital — even if he does nothing else
— has contributed towards production, and may


justly claim some reward. I think it is possible
by means of an illustration to form some idea as
to how much is due to labour and how much
to ability in the case I shall quote. Let us
suppose that a firm of manufacturers give a
contract to a builder for the erection of a mill.
The contractor employs five hundred men and
takes eighteen months to complete the contract.
The firm of manufacturers afterwards require
another mill erecting, the exact counterpart of
the first, and decide to employ the same con-
tractor. Unfortunately, however, the contractor
has died, but his successor obtains the job. He
employs exactly the same men as his predecessor.
They work the same number of hours, and are
paid the same wages. The second building is an
exact duplicate of the first, but it is finished in
fifteen months instead of eighteen. Clearly, then,
the productive power of the labourers has been
greater, not because they put forth more strenuous
efforts or worked longer hours, but because their
efforts were directed and supervised by the second
employer with greater ability than was displayed
by the first. It must be obvious, then, that in
this case the ivholc of the increase in the pro-
ductive power of the labourers was due to ability,
and not to labour at all. What, then, becomes
of the Socialist contention that labour produces
all ? Like most Socialist arguments, it is a
fallacy. Although many Socialist orators are


ignorant of the fact, the theory referred to was
first propounded by Karl Marx as the result of
a long and scientific study of economics.

The ordinary tub-thumping Socialist finds it
good business to appeal to the cupidity of the
masses. They are not slow to believe that they
are not getting their fair share of the national
wealth, and that they have been defrauded of
their rights. Marx, however, held this theory in
all seriousness, and used it as a foundation upon
which to erect his scheme for the Socialist State.
He advanced as an argument in favour of his
theory that owing to the increased productive
power of labour, the labourer could now — if he
were allowed to retain the entire produce of his
labour — maintain himself by working half or even
a quarter as long each day as he would have had
to work a hundred years ago.

Clearly, the labourer of to-day produces each
day more than sufficient to maintain himself and
his family for that day. Then what becomes of
the surplus ? Marx believes it to be wrongfully
annexed by the capitalist. Of course, if labour
did produce all wealth, and could continue to
produce all wealth without the aid of capital and
without being dependent on directive ability, then
Marx would be right. But, as we have seen,
labour is not responsible for all — and in the case
I have just quoted was not responsible for any
part of — the recent increase in the production of


wealth. It seems to me only fair to recognize
that three factors are necessary for the production
of wealth, and that each should have its fair
share of remuneration — viz., labour, capital, and
directive ability. Capital is no use without labour,
nor is labour any good without capital — and re-
member that as soon as the labourer owns a
spade he is possessed of capital. We also need
not demonstrate that which is perfectly obvious,
that labour, undirected, or unwisely directed, may
not only not produce any wealth at all, but even
result in loss of capital.

I was born in a manufacturing district, and
am perfectly certain that if all the capitalists in
that district were to make a present to their work-
people of all the mills, spinning frames, looms,
and woolcombing machines, and, moreover, to
provide an ample supply of capital to run those
mills, and then hand them over to their employees,
the capital would be lost in a very short time,
because there would not be sufficient directive
ability to guide and direct the efforts of the
labourers, to keep in touch with the markets,
and to provide for and even anticipate the wants
of the public.

Surely, then, we can put aside as an exploded
fallacy the theory that labour produces all and
has a right to all. lUit how is the labourer to
obtain his fair share of the wealth which he helps
to produce ? He can obtain it, and is obtaining


it, by a natural evolution. Let me quote an
example from Mr. W. H. Mallock {Labour and
the Popular Welfare). " In 1843, when Queen
Victoria had been six or seven years on the
throne, the gross income of the nation was in
round numbers five hundred and fifteen million
pounds. Of this, two hundred and thirty-five
million pounds went to the labouring classes, and
the remainder, two hundred and eighty million
pounds, to the classes that paid income tax.
Only fifty years have elapsed since that time,
and, according to the best authority, the income
of the labouring classes now is certainly not less
than six hundred and sixty million pounds. That
is to say, it exceeds by a hundred and forty-five
million pounds the entire income of the nation
fifty years ago. An allowance, however, must be
made for the increase in the number of the
labourers. That is, of course, obvious, and we
will at once proceed to make it. But when it
is made, the case is hardly less wonderful. The
labouring classes in 1843 numbered twenty-six
millions. At the present time they number
thirty-three millions. That is to say, they have
increased by seven million persons. Now assum-
ing, as we have done, that Labour by itself
produces as much as fourteen pounds per head
of the population,^ this addition of seven million

' At the close of the eighteenth century the income of
Great Britain with a population of ten millions was about


persons will account for an addition of ninety-
eight million pounds to the five hundred and
fifteen million pounds, which was the amount of
the national income fifty years ago. We must
therefore, to make our comparisons accurate,
deduct ninety-eight million pounds from the
hundred and forty-five million pounds just men-
tioned, which will leave us an addition of forty-
seven million pounds. We may now say, without
any reservation, that the labouring classes of this
country, in proportion to their number, receive
to-day forty-seven million pounds a year more
than the entire income of the country at the
beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria. . . .
The same number of labourers and their families
as then formed the whole labouring population
of the country now possess among them every
penny of the amount that then formed the income
of the entire nation."

I think it must be admitted that Mr. Mallock
has in this illustration proved clearly and con-
clusively that labour is getting year by- year a
larger and larger share of the national income.

I remarked at the commencement of this chapter
that the Socialist orator delights in contrasts,
and finds them very eifectivc arguments when he
addresses unthinking crowds. I have heard strect-

a hundred and forty million pounds, or fourteen pounds
per head for the entire population, but for the sake of
argument it is assumed that labour produced it all.


corner speakers mention by name a certain mill-
owner who possesses a carriage and pair, and ask
how it was that he could ride in luxury through
the streets whilst his hearers had to tramp through
the mud and slush.

We will suppose that the employer referred to
is making j^2,ooo per year, and that he employs
five hundred workpeople. He provides all the
capital, takes all risks of loss, and steers the
business through all the shoals and quicksands
of commerce, often paying wages not out of in-
come, but out of capital. His reward is for the
use of his capital and for providing the directive
ability which supervises and controls the efforts of
his workpeople. Suppose he raises the wages of
everybody in his employ one shilling per week.
This will be very little good to the workpeople.
They will still have to tramp through the mud
and slush, but the increase in the wage bill will
absorb 3^1,300 per year, and the employer will
have to walk also or hire a cab occasionally.
Thus we see that arguments based upon these
startling contrasts, though effective and popular,
possess very little value as arguments.

Another favourite argument of the Socialist
party is that the rental of the land of this country
is absorbed by a few rich men whom it would be
no crime to rob of their ill-gotten wealth.

Now what are the facts ? We will assume a
large landowner to be a man who owns a thousand


I acres. In 1878 these " large landowners " received
a rental of twenty-nine million pounds, whilst
j seventy million pounds was divided among nine
' hundred and fifty thousand smaller owners.

Let the working man make no mistake. By
any legislation which confiscates the land of this
country the working classes who are interested in
friendly societies, co-operative societies, building
societies, and other institutions, and also those
who are fortunate enough to own the cottage in
which they live, will be the first to suffer.

The same result would follow an attack upon
the large railway companies, in whose shares
numerous small investors are interested.

The result would be to satisfy the cupidity of
the thriftless and incapable among the workers by
robbing the thrifty and capable; surely an unwise
thing to do, and one not calculated to encourage
thrift and energy amongst the masses of the
people. One Socialist fallacy which is hard to
kill is that all that a man possesses which he has
not earned by the labour of his own hands is
"unearned increment."

If this be true, then the working classes obtain
a very large amount of this " unearned increment."

Any unskilful or lazy workman who is receiving
the same rate of pay as his more energetic and
skilful comrade must be receiving unearned in-
crement. And yet this very state of affairs is
encouraged by the Trades Unions.


But surely the man who uses his business
knowledge and foresight to buy or sell wool,
currants, copper, stocks and shares, land, or any-
thing else, is entitled to reap the reward of his
ability. He takes the risk. He backs his judg-
ment by adventuring his capital. If he loses, he
obtains no sympathy. If he wins, he has earned
his reward as fairly and justly as the man who has
made a table or a coat, and receives payment for
doing so. In one case the reward is for mental
labour and in the other for physical. In neither
case is it unearned increment. The Socialist
party as a body do not seem to understand the
illusive nature of wealth. To them the wealth of
the country is a vast treasure-house protected by
a feeble minority of the population, who could
easily be overpowered by the majority and the
aforesaid wealth appropriated. Let us suppose
that the mansion of a millionaire were to be looted
by the mob. How much would they get ? In
hard cash, very little. There would be valuable
pictures, costly furniture, priceless objects of art
and vertu, etc., etc.; but the realizable value of
these depends upon the maintenance of a com-
petitive system of society.

They are worth the market value and no more.
One rich man may give a fabulous price for a
picture, because he has set his mind upon possess-
ing it; whilst another rich man may be also eager
to secure it, and between the two the price is


raised very rapidly. Competition fixes the value,
but in the hands of the mob this value would
disappear; there would be little to divide: wealth
would take unto itself wings and lly away.

In the same manner, if all the wealth in this
country were confiscated by Parliament and a
Socialist order of government inaugurated, a very
large portion of that wealth would disappear and
be of no use whatever for carrying on the work of
the country and supporting the people.

Another fallacy embodied in the Socialist creed
is that the State can control a business organiza-
tion with more efficiency and economy than a
private firm.

There is absolutely no foundation for this belief.
What department of the State is not hampered
by red tape? In what Government organization
are the officials more anxious to anticipate and
provide for the wants of the public than would be
the owners of a private firm ? The Socialist will
be sure to instance the Post Office. But the
State did not take the initiative in this matter
and inaugurate our postal system to fulfil a public
need. The public were being catered for in this
matter by private enterprise, but the State stepped
in and declared that the right to carry letters was a
monopoly of the Duke of York. This is charac-
teristic of Government organizations. They dare
not face competition with private enterprise.
They must have a monopoly or they could not


live. We are not, therefore, even justified in
saying that the carrying of letters by the State
is done more economically and efficiently than
it could be done by private enterprise. Private
enterprise in this matter was arbitrarily extin-
guished and given no chance to compete.

With regard to parcels, however, the case is
different. A number of private firms undertake
the collection and distribution of these, and their
methods compare very favourably with those of
the Post Office. At Christmas time the walls of
every post office are placarded with frantic appeals
to the public to " post early," or their packages
may be delayed in transmission. At the same
time the private firms foresee the extra strain
upon their resources, provide for it, and efficiently
carry on their work without any fuss and without
any appealing placards.

The War Office and the Admiralty can certainly
not be regarded as economical or efficient institu-
tions, and the State administration of the Poor
Laws cannot justly be admired for either of these

It is against reason and common sense to
suppose that the abolition of competition and
the substitution of a monopoly will work either
for efficiency or economy.

When two or more private firms are competing
for the patronage of the public, then the wants
of the public are not only provided for, but must


be anticipated by those who control such firms or
they will fall behind in the race for public favour.
I must now close this chapter on Socialistic
Fallacies, not because I have mentioned them
all — that would be impossible. The whole Social-
istic propaganda is carried on by means of
fallacious assumptions. They are all easily ex-
posed, but because of their exceeding great number,
many of them must escape so far as this book is
concerned. The common sense of my readers,
however, will easily detect them.



Socialism is very dijfficult to define, because the
Socialists themselves are by no means unanimous.
To quote the words of the late Lord Salisbury,
"Where they are precise, they are not agreed, and
where they are agreed, they are not precise."
Many people have an idea that Socialism means
an equal division of the wealth of the nation
amongst the people of the nation; that at some
given time we should all make a fresh start
possessed of the same amount of money. But,
whatever else Socialism may mean, it certainly
does not mean that, but something very different.
If an equal division of the wealth of the country
were made to-day, it would be very unequally
divided by to-morrow.

Although there is much difference of opinion
among Socialist writers, the vast majority advocate
the abolition of private property and the sub-
stitution of State ownership. They believe that
the widespread poverty and intense suffering which
undoubtedly exist to-day are attributable to the
tyrannical despotism and insatiable greed of land-
owners and capitalists. Prince Krapotkin, a




Russian Socialist, put the case as follows: —
"A feeble minority lays claim to the bulk of the
national wealth; has town and country houses
built for itself, and accumulates in banks the coin,
notes, and documents of all sorts which represent
the wealth produced by labour. All this we must
seize, and by one and the same blow we shall set
free the unhappy peasant whose plot of ground is
burdened by a mortgage, the small shopkeeper
who lives in a constant dread of bankruptcy, and
a wretched crowd of persons who have not bread
enough for the morrow."

"We must clearly see that private property is a
conscious or an unconscious theft of that which
belongs to all, and we must be prepared to seize
all with alacrity for the common use and benefit."
In a small pamphlet, entitled "The Manifesto of
the Socialist League," Messrs. Wm. Morris and
E. Belfort Bax say, "The land, the capital, the
machinery, factories, workshops, stores, means of
transit, mines, banking, all weans oj production and
distrihition of wealth must be declared and treated
as the common property of all."

The Social Democratic Federation (England)
states its objects to be: —

"The Socialization of the means of production,
distribution and exchange to be controlled by a
democratic State in the interests of the entire
community, and the complete emancipation of
labour from the domination of capitalization and


landlordism, with the establishment of social and
economic equality between the sexes."

In the Fabian Essays it is shortly stated that
Socialism is "the common holding of the means
of production and exchange, and the holding of
them for the equal benefit of all."

Some Socialists endeavour to draw a distinction
between capital and wealth. Mrs. Besant defines
wealth as "the accumulated, unconsumed result of
labour applied to raw material so long as it is not
attempted to utilize such result for profit."

As soon as it is used for purposes of profit, it
becomes capital and would belong to the State.

For example, suppose —

(i) A man spent every penny of his income.
He would be secure from molestation.

(2) He saved ten pounds per year and
treasured it up in an old stocking. That
would be wealth, and he would be per-
fectly justified in keeping it.

(3) He invested the ten pounds in oranges

and paid another man to hawk them.
His wealth would be turned into capital
because it was utilized for profit, and his
stock of oranges would be liable to con-
fiscation by the State. However, Mrs.
Besant is not in accord with the main
body of Socialist opinion, and we need
not consider her ideas at length.
Taking into consideration the opinions of the



best known writers upon the subject, I should
define Socialism as being — " The abolition of
private propcrt}' in land, raw material, instruments
of production, funded capital, etc. All these would
belong to the State, which would also direct all
labour and compel the equitable distribution of
the produce of such labour."

It will be seen, therefore, that Socialism means
a revolution — either peaceful or otherwise. It
proposes altogether to abolish the existing com-
petitive system of society, and to replace it by an
altogether new and untried system. In view of
this speculative and experimental character of
Socialism, cautious politicians are very much in-
clined to cheerfully and courageously " bear the ills

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryWilliam BeanlandThe case against socialism, plainly stated for the man in the street → online text (page 1 of 5)