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The Socialist Library. II. 


the Socialist Eibrarp— II. 

£dited by J. Ramsay MacDonald. 

Socialism and Society 

J. Ramsay MacDonald 




10 Rbd Lion Codrt E.C. 




Table of Contents. 

Preface. fagb 

The British Electors' suspicion of theory is mis- 
taken because, (I) historically, grand political 
epochs coincide with the grand religious and 
philosophical epochs, ... ... ... xi 

and (2) political practice and theory are as a. 
matter of fact inseparable ... ... ... xii 

This is particularly the case when politics become 
constructive ... ... ... ... xiii 

as they are to-day. ... ... ... ... xiii 

For constructive political work the organic con- 
ception of society is the most fruitful. ... xvi 

As the Socialist alone considers not only the 
individual but the social unit in his work, he 
must have a clear idea of what the nature of 
theunitis. ... ... ... ... xviii 

This necessitates a re-statement of the Socialist 
conception of historical progress. ... xix 


Chapter I — The Pkoblbm. 

The Problem is Poverty, which is not merely 

physical but mental and moral. ... ... r 

Outward improvement may proceed along with 

vital decay. ... ... ... ... z 

The question does not merely affect the workman, 

but the capitalist ... ... ... ... 4. 

and the whole of society ... ... ... 6 

Individuality is rare under modern conditions ... 7 
The reason is that each function in society is 

self-centered and competitive ; ... ... S 

hence, co-ordination is the task of the Twentieth 

Century. ... ... ... .. ... 9 

Chapter II — Society and the Individdal. 

Political policies depend upon what view one 

takes of the social type. ... ... ... 10 

Does the organic type correspond to facts ? ... II 

Individualist psychology exaggerates the free play 

of the human will, ... ... ... 12 

whilst the Socialist conception of function ... I2 

and the dependence of the individual upon society I $ 
as illustrated in the change of individual function 

which follows social re-organisation, ... 17 

are in accord with the biological views of social 

progress, viz : that it depends upon modification 

of the social structure. ... ... ... iS 

The purely individual functions in progress are : 

I — Alterations of social structure by industrial 
invention, etc. ... ... ... ... 22 

2 — Alterations of social structure by effective 
moral demand. ... ... ... ... 22 

To the race, however, belongs the inheritance of 

the past, and the individual shares in that 

inheritance through his communal group. ... 25 
" Individualism,'' so-called, is therefore an unreal 

abstraction. ... ... ... ... 26 

Further points in connection with the conception 
of society as an organic type are (l) its form, 
and (2) its self-consciousness. ... ... 29 

Society is an organisation of the biological t3rpe, 
and our ideas of the individual and the com- 
munity must be formed accordingly. ... 32 

Chapter III — The Economic Period. 

Society exists for purposes of mutual aid, ... 34 
therefore a society whose functions are competitive 

evolves into Socialism. ... ... ... 3S 

Society develops through the political and the 

economic stages to the moral one. ... ... 37 

The political stage is governed by the necessities 

of a nation-making period, ... ... ... 38 

develops democratic forms ... ... ... 43 

and passes into the economic stage, ... ... 42 

which is at first competitive and individualistic. 42 

This stage is now complete, ... ... ... 45 

because ([) sub-division of labour has gone about 

as far as it can, ... ... ... ... 45 

as is illustrated in shoe-making and tailoring ; ... 47 

(2) co-ordination of difierent trades has begun, ... 48 
as is illustrated by the Steel Trust, etc ; ... 49 

(3) the power of capital, owing to facilities for 
communication, etc., has been too much in- 
creased to be socially safe, ... ... ... 5' 

as illustrated by the use of machinery, etc. ; ... $2 

(4) competition is giving place to monopoly 
within certain areas, and ... ... ... 56 

(5) between others is developing into national 
wars; and ... ... ... ... 5^ 

(6) the competitive state cannot meet certain 
demands made upon it. ... ... ... 59 

So far we have only been solving the problems of 
wealth production. ... ... .■■ 60 

This process, regarded from a biological point of 
view, is seen to contain safeguards against 
cataclysms, ... ... ... 62 

but it encourages parasitism, ... ... ... 63 

as illustrated in the Monarchy and the House of 

Lords. ... ... ... ... ... 64 

The period also has its ethical characteristics, e.g. 

Evangelicism, ... ... ... ... 66 

and its political, e.g.. Individualism, ... ... 70 

but both are failing to satisfy present day needs. 72 

Chaftek IV. — Utopian and Semi-Scientific Socialism. 

The mistake of the Utopia builders was that they 
assumed that Society was an architectural 
relationship which could be made and unmade 
at the will of individuals. ... ... ... 74 

Sir Thomas More and Robert Owen were taken as 
examples. ... ... ... ... 75 

When Owen lived, Society was beginning to solve 
the problems of wealth production, ... ... 79 

and in doing so had to sacrifice the interest of its 
cells, the individuals. ... ... ... 81 

Modification of the social structure necessary for 
progress, and this must be done in keeping with 
Society's " law of being," ... ... ... 83 

as shown in the history of the Co-operative 
movement. ... ... ... ... 83 

The functions of Society must be co-ordinated 
before moral results can be attained, ... ... 87 

but before this could be seen, biological science 
had to be so far advanced as to establish 
evolution on a sure foundation. ... ... 89 

Philosophy, especially German Philosophy, had 
been speculating upon the same problem, ... go 

and Marx approached Socialism through Hegel- 
ianism. ... ... ... ... ... 94 

Marx's task was to weld rival Socialist dogmas 
and methods, ... ... ... ... 94 

but being a pre-Darwinian ... ... ... 97 

he accepted Hegel's idea of growth ... ... 100 

and the rational part of his dialectic, ... ... lo2 

and so was misled by thoughts of antithesis 
revolution, etc., ... ... ... ... 103 

which the social condition of England at the 
time encouraged. .. ... ... ... 107 

Chapter V. — Towards Socialism. 

The approach to Socialism through a class war ... no 
assumes a simple opposition of two economic 
classes, ... ... ... ... ... ill 

whilst the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are 
split up into economic sections, e.g., economic 
tunctions of opposing interests. ... ... in 

Interests of the same persons are complex, e.g., 

influence of Co-operation and Building Societies 117 
Class interests are personal, ... ... ... 120 

have no constructive value, ... ... ... 121 

are the basis of the pre-Socialist labour movement, 121 
and cannot be merged into social interests. ... 122 

The progressive impulse is intellectual, ... ... 124 

and Socialism is inevitable not because Capitalism 
is to break down, but because man is a rational 
being. ... ... ... ... ... 125 

The wage earners, however, are ripe for Socialist 
experiment, ... ... ... ... 129 

but the Socialist appeal is for a rational judgment 
upon its conceptions of the community and the 
individual. .. ... ... ... 131 

Chapter VI. — Socialism and the Political Organ. 

A positive view of the State is essential to Socialism 133 

In considering the political policy of Socialism, 
one must not overlook the characteristics of 
national political methods, because they vary in 
different countries.... ... ... ... 135 

Jn this country progress does not advance by 
revolutionary stages, ... ... ... 137 

and parties are not dogmatic, but adopt experi- 
mental methods. I... ... ... ... 137 

Socialism, developing through the Spencean 
philanthropists, ... ... ... ... 139 

Owenism and Chartism, ... ... ... 140 

after a period of purely political interests, .. 141 

has now reached the point when it becomes the 
guiding idea of progress. ... ... ... 1 44 

A new party then becomes necessary to deal with 
the new problems in the new spirit, ... ... 146 

The immediate needs of organised labour, ... 147 

the ripened harvest of the teachings of Carlyle 
Ruskin, Spencer, ... ... ... ... 148 

and the definite Socialist organisations,... ... 149 

have united in forming the new political organ. ... T49 

Thus, the apparent re-action of recent years ... 149 
really indicates the end of the Liberal period in 
politics, ... ... ... ... ... 150 

religion, ... ... ... ... ... 151 

national finance, ... ... ... ... 152 

social organisation, ... ... ... -"153 

and belief in nationality. ... ... ... 154 

Darwinism and Hegelianism are not the cause of 
re-action. ... , ... ... ... 157 

This is shown (I) by the break-up of the Liberal 
party, but more especially by (2) the rise of new 
fundamental ideas in politics, and ... ... 160 

(3) the spread of new germinal political growths — 
Municipal Socialism. ... ... ... 161 

The period of reaction has in reality been a tran- 
sition from democracy in form to democracy in 
power. ... ... ... ... ... 162 

Though there is not identity, there is continuity 

between old and new progressive parties, ... 165 

the rise of the new following a well-defined course. 166 


Land must be nationalised and ... ... 170 

capital owned by the community. ... ... 171 

It must also be emphasised that the social organ- 
isation of production determines distribution, ... 172 

that Socialism will not be a static industrial state, 173 
and that its views upon distribution are biological 

and not mechanical. ... ... ... 177 

But the method of socialisation is not a priori but 

experimental. ... ... ... ... 178 

The Socialist motto is not Sic Velo, but Solviiur 

Amtulando, ... ... ... ... 180 

«^., the Socialist view of property ... ... 180 

and of the measure of value. ... ... ... 182 

Socialism is not opposed to machinery ... 183 

Socialism would not destroy special groups like 

Trade Unions, the Church, the Family, ... 185 

Its key idea is transformation.... ... ... 186 



In a life the greater part of which has to be 
spent in the noisy and dusty arena where 
politics is a hand-to-hand battle, there are 
few opportunities given for retiring into the 
peaceful wilderness where one can think out 
the more fundamental questions of govern- 
ment, and see party difEerences justified and 
explained in the light of theories of what 
Society, the State, and politics are, of what 
the function of Parliament in a community 
is, of what progress means, and of what its 
method must be. 

Indeed, it is the habit of plain matter-of- 
fact Britons to declare most sturdily that 
these questions are of no great importance to 
the man of affairs. British political life, it is 
stated, moves by experience and not by theory; 
and the British elector is supposed to suspect 
any man who attempts to regulate and develop 
political policy in accordance with certain 
intellectual conceptions, such as the evolution 
of the State and its relation to individual 
happiness. That political method, it is said, 


is foreign. It is the cause of revolutions. It 
is unpractical. The British elector glories in 
his distrust of ideas. 

There are two replies to the "practical" 
elector who is inclined to believe that politics 
is the art of living from hand to mouth — of 
muddling through. In the first place, every 
time that British politics has risen to heroic 
proportions, it has been either inspired by 
religious fervour, as in Cromwell's day, or 
strengthened by philosophical conviction, as 
in the epoch of individualist Radicalism just 
closed. Though the British people may have 
no love for theoretical politics, their imagina- 
tion must be lit up before they rise to great 
political efforts. But, in the second place, the 
most mediocre man who has ever gained the 
confidence of a respectable constituency on 
the ground that there is no flighty nonsense 
about him, has, in spite of himself, to take 
sides on fundamental questions. 

Our happy-go-lucky disregard for theory — 
theory being after all nothing more harmful 
or dangerous than experience systematised and 
the broken visions of light completed by the 
exercise of reason — threatens to become a 
calamity. Far be it from me to join in the 
loud chorus of approval and amplification 
which, for too many years, has unfortunately 
been cheering Carlyle's dyspeptic character- 
isation of Parliament as a talking shop, but 
if it were called a " jobbing shop," truth 


would not be violated. Its work is miscel- 
laneous, scrappy, disorganised. It flies into 
panics, or goes quietly to sleep. It treats the 
most deeply-seated diseases as though they 
were but skin deep. It prunes when it should 
uproot ; it patches when it should make 
anew ; it refuses to see beyond its nose when 
it should be scanning the horizon. 

The consequences are serious. When its 
work was to liberate, Parliament could 
roam like a Red Cross Knight, freeing any 
damsel held in durance vile whom it hap- 
pened to come across — from a Nonconformist 
who wanted to wed and be buried in his 
faith, to an atheist or a Jew who wanted to 
represent a constituency in Parliament. 

But this period is over, and that of social 
construction has begun. And how are we to 
build ? What plans are we to execute ? 
Empirical methods will not help us unless 
they are used as tests of ideal systems. With 
what idea are we to experiment ? The sheer 
pressure of clamour and need will force us to 
take action. In. what direction are we to 
move ? All change is not progressive. Which 
of the roads at present possible is the right 
one ? We must pass more factory legislation. 
But what is the constructive function of 
factory legislation? We must amplify our 
laws of compensation to injured workmen. 
But what is to be the relation between the 


workman, the employer and the community 
in respect to the financial responsibility im- 
posed by more perfect compensation laws? 
We shall probably be asked to interfere 
legislatively with wages. How far will the 
system of capitalism bear such interference ? 
How far will such interference open out 
the way of further development to Society? 
What must be the nature, the limits and the 
direction of this interference, so as to allow 
and encourage a more perfect system of social 
relationships than that which is being broken 
down? The feeding of school children is 
apparently to be undertaken. Upon what 
principle is it to be done? Is the State to 
supplant the family? Is the family to be 
retained as a social unit in future ? What is 
in reality the extent of its functions and 
duties ? The appeals of the unemployed 
compel us to appoint committees and sketch 
legislative proposals. How far is it legitimate 
for the State to provide work for men ? What 
are the limits and nature of its responsibility 
in this respect ? What comprehensive scheme 
of treatment for the unemployable follows as 
a necessary consequence upon any State 
recognition of the unemployed ? The problems 
of rating and taxation are forcine themselves 
upon us under conditions of which the 
economists and statesmen of the last century 
had no experience. Do not the principles of 
rating and taxation require revision ? Must 


we not reconsider what is the real function 
and justification of both public and private 
property ? Even the machinery of democracy 
is being questioned. What is the best form 
of democratic organisation ? Has the passing 
of the individualistic rights of man from the 
active stage of politics necessitated a revision 
of the conception of democracy which the 
eighteenth century handed on to the nineteenth? 
Above all, we shall have to consider how far 
a State can protect its industry, and what 
steps a modern industrial community should 
take to secure for its producers a fair share of 
the world's markets, and for its consumers a 
fair share of its aggregate wealth. This 
question, crudely raised by the Tariff 
Reformers, has been as crudely answered by 
the "pure and simple" Free Traders. 

These are but a few of the questions to the 
solution of which twentieth century statesmen 
will be called to contribute. And which of 
them can be successfully dealt with by merely 
yielding to the pressure, the cry, the passion, 
the fear, or the political exigency of the 
moment? One and all involve a considera- 
tion of what is the nature of the organised 
community, what is its relation to the 
individual, to voluntary combinations of 
individuals, to trade and commerce, and 
so on. 

The danger of the theorist in politics is, of 


course, apparent. Theory may be a blind 
tyrant, a will-o'-the-wisp, a sedlictive syren. 
It may create an unreal world through which 
its bewitched victim rushes blindly to destruc- 
tion. But it is the politician's business to 
bring theory and experiment into the closest 
tovlch, to prevent the one separating from 
the other, to use the first to keep the second 
intelligent, the second to keep the first sane. 
" Let us learn a lesson from Cantillon," wrote 
jevons, "who, though he touches the depths 
*' of theory in one chapter, knows how to limit 
" himself within the possibilities of practical 
" life in the next."^" 

At any rate, in view of the emergence of 
these vital problems, we need to discover 
some illuminating idea of social organisation 
which will give each a natural order and a 
relative importance — which will enable us to 
find our place upon the map. 

Siich are the conclusions to which a pretty 
intimate connection with the actual business 
of politics has led me. In this volume I have 
attempted to explain the conception of Society 
which seems to me to accord with observed 
fact and to offer a guidance for the constructive 
work of legislation which lies awaiting US. 
It perhaps does not deserve to be Called the 
work of the study. Rather is it the jottings 
of spare moments saved with much effort from 

* Principles of Economics, London, 1905, p. 175. 

XVI 1 

the conflict in the arena — the hurried summary 
of the principles of a politician. 

I accept the organic type of organisation as 
that to which Society corresponds in its 
essential characteristics, and also as that 
which is most fruitful as a guide for political 
experiments. But, far be it from me to claim 
that all Socialists hold, or should hold, that 
view. There is too much doctrinairism in Soc- 
ialism already. But we must work upon some 
provisional hypothesis, if political effort is to 
be anything but a pastime of the useless 
classes. " It is often said," writes M. Poincarfe 
as a physical scientist,* "that experiments, 
" should be made without preconceived ideas. 
"That is impossible. Not only would it 
" make every experiment fruitless, but even if 
" we wished to do so, it could not be done. 
" Every man has his own conception of the 
" world, and this he cannot so easily lay aside. 
" We must, for example, use language, and 
" our language is necessarily steeped in pre- 
" conceived ideas. Only, they are unconscious 
" preconceived ideas, which are a thousand 
" times the most dangerous of all." This 
is as true of social as of physical science, of 
politics as of physics. Parliament is a 
laboratory; its legislative experiments must 
be undertaken in precisely the same scientific 
frame of mind as those of the chemist or the 

* Science atid Hypothesis, Lond., 1905, p. 143. 

XVI 11 

If any section of politicians demur to this 
conception of their work, the Socialist at any 
rate cannot. For a distinction between the 
Socialist politician and all others is that he 
thinks of the whole of Society as well as of 
the separate individuals who compose it. It 
is as impossible for him to think of Man apart 
from Society as it is for the scientist to think 
of Man apart from the Animal Kingdom. To 
the Socialist, Society is a Unity. 

But that does not carry us very far. Before 
the idea of a united Society can help as a 
guide in legislation, we must make up our 
minds as to the type of unity to which Society 
corresponds, because obviously upon that 
depends the relation between Society and the 
individual which legislation must express and 
must not violate. Having made up his mind 
as to the type, the Socialist is in a position to 
co-ordinate and organise the social problems 
pressing for solution, to co-ordinate and 
organise the proposals he makes regarding 

In undertaking this work, I have hoped to 
be able to state the Socialist position to 
readers in this country in a way more in 
accord with British mental and political 
conditions than has hitherto been done. 
Marx's co-ordination or historical fact and 
explanation of historical movement from the 
point of view of the Hegelian left wing, 

brought the whole theory of Socialism from 
the misty realms of vague desire, to the clearly 
defined empire of science. But our views of 
individual and social growth have been 
profoundly modified since Marx began his 
work. Moreover, the conceptions of social 
evolution which Marx held never have been 
accepted by the majority of British Socialists. 
Society in this country, with its free institu- 
tions and machinery which can respond to the 
least impulse of the popular will so soon as 
the people care to express themselves, pro- 
gresses by an assimilation of ideas and 
circumstances. The process of organic 
nutrition is paralleled in the process of social 
nutrition. Individuals formulate ideas. Society 
gradually assimilates them, and gradually the 
assimilation shows its effect on the social 
structure. The laws of organic assimilation 
apply in a specially simple way to our 
conditions, our politics and our parties ; and 
it is the operation of these non-catastrophic 
and non-revolutionary laws which to-day is 
causing social unsettlement and calling for 
political readjustment. 

Within the limits of this necessarily small 
volume, I have been unable to show in 
what respect the organic likeness of Society 
requires special modification. The chief 
differences, so far as they pertain to this study, 
are, that the social organism is less rigidly 


fixed than the biological organism, at least in 
its higher forms; and that in social experiments 
biological law becomes a principle consciously 
Understood and adapted to circumstances 
carefully selected and prepared in such a way 
as to produce swift results. 

As several who have written about the book 
imagine that my description of the rise and 
fall of parties is only a study in contemporary 
politics from my own Independent Labour 
Party point of view, 1 should like to state 
that I wrote with the political history of the 
last quarter of the eighteenth and the first 
half of the nineteenth centuries in mind, and 
I venture to hope that anyone acquainted with 
the history of that period will recognise the 
episodes which are the foundations of the 

A few alterations in phrases and sentences 
have been made so as to make my meaning 
clearer and my argument more precise than 
in the first edition. 

I have to acknowledge with gratitude my 
indebtedness to Mr. Arthur Ransom for having 
read the proofs when I had no time to do so 

J. Ramsay MacDonald. 
October, 1905. 


Chapter I. 


POVERTY still challenges the reason and 
the conscience of men, and instead of 
becoming less acute as national wealth 
increases, it becomes more serious. The 
result of such investigations as those of Mr. 
Charles Booth and Mr. Rowntree, and of the 
Committees which inquired into the prevalence 
of child labour and the extent of physical 
deterioration, shatter with the rudest indif- 
ference any complacency that one may have 
built upon figures showing the astounding 
totals of national wealth, or the satisfactory 
averages of personal income. It may not be 
true literally that the rich are growing richer 
at a time when the poor are becoming poorer* ; 

* This depends upon the length ot the period of com- 
parison. If we compare the 14th century with the 19th 
it is true literahy; if we compare 1800 with 1900 it is 
not true. 

but it is an undeniable fact that the lot of the 
poverty-stricken becomes more deplorable as 
the advance of the well-to-do becomes more 
marked, and that modern conditions of life 
press with increasing weight upon the 
propertyless classes. Never was it more true 
than it is torday that two civilizations exist 
side by side in every industrial country — the 
civilization of the idle or uselessly employed 
rich, and the civilization of the industrial 

Pauperism is perhaps the least alarming 
form and the most misleading index of 
poverty. Wrecks lifting their broken spars up 
to heaven are less woeful than unseaworthy 
ships tossing helplessly on stormy waters. 
Moreover, the existence of numerous charit- 
able and subsidising agencies, together 
with the increasing expenditure of municipal 
authorities upon work which is in the nature 
of relief, show that the flood of poverty has 
altogether overflowed the embankments which 
the Poor Law has provided to contain it. 

When we survey modern conditions in 
search of a point from which to begin and 
trace out the weedy and tortuous path of 
poverty, we naturally fix upon the silent 
village and the deserted field. Our rural 
districts are depopulated ; the rural districts 
of every commercial country are emptying 
their people into the cities, and as the sources 

of healthy manhood are depleted, the reserve 
forces of the race are drained off. Commissions 
sit and report upon the physique of the 
people, and their conclusions, bad enough in 
all conscience, might be worse. For, the 
nerves of the people, not being subject to 
foot-rule measurement, or pound avoirdupois 
weighing, are not taken into account, and the 
morals of the people are left to be gossiped 
about by sensation mongers, or to be sported 
with by sectarians, and are not made the 
subject of cold, impartial investigation.* 

The whole subject of the vital condition of 
the people is too often supposed to be 
thoroughly dealt with when satisfactory 
figures of death rates! and enticing photo- 
graphs of improved houses are given, and thus 
the fact is obscured that in spite of all sanitary 
and similar improvements, the vital energies, 
the stamina, the mental cleanliness, the moral 
robustness of our people are suffering, not for 
this or that special reason, but because the 
complete setting of life is barren, wearisome 
and exhausting to human beings. 

' Only the fringe of this question is touched in the 
investigations which Mi. Booth has carried on in London 
and Mr. Rowntree in York. Police Court records and 
Lunatic Asylum reports form a considerable literature 
upon the subject however. 

t But, be it noted, that one of the most important 
sections of vital statistics, the rates of infant mortality, 
shews no improvement for the last half-century. 

I need mention but one cause of this. The 
better organisation of the functions of pro- 
duction has been of necessity attended by a 
quickening of pace, and by a heavier draft 
upon the energies of the producers. More life 
is consumed in production — in fact, so much 
life is consumed in this, that little is left to be 
spent in other concerns. Old age and the 
inefficiency of years come sooner than they 
used to do. The squeezing of the orange is 
done more quickly and more thoroughly now. 

Nor is this merely a workman's grievance, 
for everyone afEected by the industrial changes 
which have marked the Liberal* epoch has 
suffered in the same way. The workman 
suffers from periodic unemployment and from 
a chronic uncertainty of being able to make 
ends meet. This re-acts upon his personal 
habits so that he follows the allurements of 
intemperance, or seeks pleasure in the 
risks of gambling, loses his sense of crafts- 
manship and his unwillingness to work dis- 
honestly, is driven into the loafing habit 
* It may be advisable to state definitely that I am 
frequently to use the word " Liberal," as I do here, not 
in its political but epochal sense. It indicates that 
period of social evolution when capital, freed from the 
political and social dominance of Feudalism, developed 
a political, economic and social policy in accordance 
with its own nature. The keynote of the epoch is 
individual liberty of the unreal, atomic kind ; its political 
characteristic is enfranchisement, its economic is compe- 
tition, and its social is wealth. 

through frequent unemployment, and finally 
becomes a machine which turns out a mini- 
mum amount of work at a maximum price. 
We may regret this as much as we like, and 
blame the workman as much as we care, but 
this is the natural consequence of a state of 
society in which private interests control 
industrial capital, in which the land and the 
instruments of production belong to a class 
different from that which uses them, in which 
the predominant relationship between the 
employer and the workman is that of a con- 
tract to do work at a price, and in which 
their is no response and no appeal to moral and 
spiritual motives. The capitalist also suffers 
from insecurity caused, not by mistakes or 
faults of his own, but by the competitive 
moves of his rivals. In France,® tweijty per 
cent, of the businesses started disappear at 
once : in America,! ninety per cent, of busi- 
ness men fail either absolutely or relatively ; 
and though Marshall contends^ that business 
risks are decreasing in this country, the 
probable truth is that they are only changing 
their character, as financial cases in the Law 
Courts appear to show. Moreover, the im- 
provements in methods of production, the 
concentration of capital, the development 

* Leroy Beaulieu, Ripartition des RUhesses, chap. xi. 
t Wells, Recent Economic CAangeSfLondon, 1891, p. 351 
■j^ Marshall, Principles of Economics, London, 1898, 
>., p. 703. 

of means of communiration, the opening up 
of the world's markets, and the increasing 
number of nations taking part in international 
competition, put an ever tightening pressure 
upon the capitalist, and demand that more 
and more of his life's energies shall be spent 
in business. Although the statute book 
teaches him business morality and protects 
him against certain forms of unprincipled and 
anti-social competition (like adulterated goods 
and long hours), he is compelled to drive the 
sharpest bargains, to adopt methods in busi- 
ness which he could not employ honourably 
in personal relations, and to cross far too 
frequently the line of dishonesty. He can 
indulge in few sentiments ; he cannot enjoy 
very much of the luxury of morality. Business 
is a war in which he whose nerves are not 
always well strung, whose eye is not always 
fixed upon the vigilant enemy, and whose 
heart is not always prepared to drive home 
every advantage, is likely to be overborne. 
The purpose which must dominate the moral- 
ity and the thought of the business man is a 
favourable balance sheet, and only in so far 
as an exercise of the finer sentiments does not 
adversely influence that summary of trading 
operations can he give way to them. 

The result is inevitable. The arts languish, 
the vulgar empire of plutocracy extends its 
gilded borders, luxurious indulgence takes the 

place of comfort, selfish pursuits that of public 
spirit, philanthropic effort that of just dealing. 
We are accustomed to regard the present as 
a state of individualism, but no delusion could 
be more grotesque. Nothing is rarer in society 
to-day than individuality, and it is doubtful if 
ever there was less individuality amongst us 
than there is at the present moment. One has 
only to look on whilst the sons of the nouveaux 
riches spend their money, or whilst the crowds 
which our industrial quarters have disgorged 
enjoy themselves, to appreciate the meaning- 
less monotony of our pleasure. From our 
furniture, made by the thousand pieces by 
niachines, to our religion, stereotyped in set 
formulae and pursued by clock-work methods, 
individuality is an exceptional characteristic. 
In the production of wealth, owing to the 
differentiation of processes, there is less and 
less play for individuality, and as this more 
exclusively occupies the time and thought of 
both employers and employed, uniformity 
spreads its deadening hand over Society, imita- 
tion becomes a social factor of increasing 
power, respectability becomes more securely 
enthroned as the mentor of conduct, and a 
drab level of fairly comfortable mediocrity is 
the standard to which we conform. No tiling 
is, indeed, more absurd than an argument ii; 
support of the present state of Sqciety, ba^ed 
on the assumption that as we move aw^y from 
it in the direction of Socialism we; are leaving 


individuality and individual liberty behind. 

Liberty and regular employment — the fit- 
ting of men to the work which they can do 
best — can be secured only when the various 
functions of the social organism — the capital- 
istic and labouring, the consuming and pro- 
ducing — are all co-ordinated. At present each 
function is self-centred. It is as though the 
appetite, the head or the muscles of the 
human body worked each for itself — as indeed 
sometimes happens in the case of gluttons, 
hair splitters, or slaves. But then we know 
the consequences. There is an interruption in 
the general health and growth. There is a 
dwarfing of some parts and an abnormal de- 
velopment of others. The body rebels periodi- 
cally, and teaches the functions that only 
when they take their proper places in the 
whole, and act obedient, not to their own 
appetites, but to the needs of the complete 
organism, do they enjoy an unbroken and a 
full satisfaction. 

We can best express this failure of present- 
day Society to enrich all its classes not merely 
with worldly possessions, but with character 
and capacity to employ leisure time, by de- 
scribing modem conditions as being poverty- 
stricken. For to judge the prevalence of 
poverty merely by returns of income or de- 
posits in savings banks, is like judging a piece 
of architecture by the size of the stones used 
in the building. 

We have a vast accumulation of actual 
physical want. Mr. Booth says that about 30 
per cent, of the London population must be 
classified amongst that accumulation ; and if 
it is not relatively growing, it is not actually 
decreasing. We seem to have reached the 
maximum of improvement which the existing 
social organisation can yield. Further amelior- 
ative efforts of a purely reforming character 
can produce little fruit. Our social machinery 
apparently cannot employ more than 97!- per 
cent, of the willing workers at best, and it 
cannot raise more than from 70 to 80 per cent, 
of our people above the " poverty line." In 
addition to that, our Society bears a still 
greater accumulation of mental and moral 
poverty, and apparently this is increasing 
rather than decreasing. 

Such are the conditions which challenge 
the social reformer. They cannot be the final 
state of social evolution. There must be 
another state ahead of us less marked by 
failure, less chaotic, better organised, and the 
question is, how are we to move into it ? It 
appears to be the special task of the twentieth 
century to discover a means of co-ordinating 
the various social functions so that the whole 
community may enjoy robust health, and its 
various organs share adequately in that health. 
But this is nothing else than the aim of 

Chapter II. 


It is of the utmost importance, at the very out- 
set, to understand with definite clearness to 
what type of unity societies and communities 
of men belong, because otherwise we cannot 
judge what the relations between the individual 
and Society, between conduct and law, ought 
to be ; how the various activities within Society 
— e.g., trade and commerce, education, &c., 
should be regarded ; whether professions 
should bring profits to individuals, or be 
functions contributing life to the whole ; what 
the State is, and what its sphere ought to be ; 
what the nature of individual liberty is. 

If men live together, forming tribes, nations, 
communities, societies, like stones accumulated 
in heaps. Society is only a collection of separate 
men, laws are only rules preventing their hard 
corners from knocking against the sides of 
their neighbours, the State exists only to main- 
tain the heap (and not that necessarily). 
In such a unity the individual man alone 
counts. Individualism must be the pre- 
dominating idea. Liberty is the freedom of 
action of the individval, and is a thing of 


quantity, every limit imposed on its extent — 
as for instance the legal command, " Thou 
shalt not kill " — ^being a curtailment of it. 

If, however, Society is a unity of the organic 
kind, totally different conclusions follow. The 
individuals composing it are still separate and 
conscious, but they depend very largely upon 
the Society in which they live for their 
thoughts, their tastes, their liberties, their 
opportunities of action, their character — in 
brief, for everything summed up in the word 
civilisation. It is in Society, and not in the 
individual, that the accumulation of the race 
experience is found. Liberty is a matter of 
quality and not of quantity, and curtailment 
of its limits does not necessarily lessen its 
amplitude. The community enters at every 
point into the life of the individual, and the 
State function is not merely to secure life, but 
to promote good life. 

How far do these theoretical deductions 
agree with the actual facts ? How far, to 
begin with, is the life of the individual organ- 
ically connected with that of his Society ? 

Put an individual from a well developed 
Society into the midst of a different civilisa- 
tion, or place him in wild nature, and he is 
helpless in proportion as the Society to which 
he belongs is " advanced."® Paralyse in a well- 

* The reason why the sailor is a " handy man" is that 
a ship's crew is a type of a primitive form of Society. 


developed Society all the life which it has 
inherited from the past — its economic 
machinery, its legal processes, its institutions 
of every kind — and the individual is left more 
helpless than the primitive savage catching 
fish with his shell hooks. The present is rooted 
in the past ; the future can be dragged away 
from neither. 

An individualist psychology exaggerates 
the free play of the human will, and denies 
the organic type of Society mainly on the 
ground that each individual in Society has an 
independent will and consciousness of his 
own. In the organism consciousness is con- 
centrated in a small part of the whole — the 
brain or nervous system ; in Society conscious- 
ness is diffused throughout, and no specialised 
function of feeling can be created. This, 
Spencer calls a cardinal difference. But upon 
examination the difference appears to be not 
nearly so great as it first seems.* 

The cells that are ultimately differentiated 
to become the nerve systems of organisms are 
the ordinary cells which go to make up 

* It is not within the scope of this political study to 
discuss this point fully, but I cannot help thinking that 
at this point Spencer sacrificed his philosophy to his 
individualism, and Huxley's lamentable surrender of his 
previous position in the Romanes Lecture was owing to 
his failure to estimate accurately how small this difference 

organic tissue, and they differ from muscular 
cells no more than a doctor differs from an 
agricultural labourer. 

Moreover, the work of organic nerve systems 
is paralleled in Society by political functions 
as a Socialist conceives them. The function 
of the nervous system is to co-ordinate the 
body to which it belongs, and enable it to 
respond to impressions and experiences received 
at any point. It can also originate movement 
itself. Evidently the individualist cannot 
admit any such differentiated organ in 
Society. But the Socialist, on the other hand, 
sees its necessity. Some organ must enable 
other organs and the mass of Society to com- 
municate impressions and experiences to a 
receiving centre, must carry from that centre 
impulses leading to action, must originate on 
its own initiative organic movements calcu- 
lated to bring some benefit or pleasure to the 
organism. This is the Socialist view of the 
political organ on its legislative and ad- 
ministrative sides. It gathers up experience, 
carries it to a centre which decides corres- 
ponding movements, and then carries back to 
the parts affected the impulse of action. 

Upon this point the psychological sociol- 
ogists do not face facts. " Within aggrega- 
" tions of men, mental activities are con- 
" tinually asserting themselves, and working 
" themselves out in conformity to psycho- 

•'logical la^v. In this process the human 
" mind, aware of itself, deliberately forms krid 
" carries out policies for the organisation and 
"perfection of social life, in order that the 
" great end of Society, the perfection of the 
" individual personality, may be completely 
"attained."* The distinction here set up 
between thought arid nature by the expres- 
sion " in conformity to psychological law," 
in spite of the writer's protests to the 
contrary, leaves the problem at its most 
interesting point. What is the relation 
between psychological and biological law 
as factors in human evolution ? What is 
the scope of biological law? Did the 
psychological process of evolution appear only 
with man ? Undoubtedly the mind of man 
moulds society, but only just as the mind of 
the animal assists its biological evolution. The 
difference is of degress, not of kind. So that, if 
we begin to assume the airs of the psycho- 
logical sociologist, we must regard the 
evolution of the whole universe as psycho- 
logical, and when we refer to biology we 
include psychology in our idea all the time. 
The truth is that man's power to influence the 
social organisation in which he is placed is 
lihiited to the biological method of influencing 
and changing functions. The simple fact that 
the changing impact is a human will, does not 

*Giddings, The Elements of Sociology, London. 1897. 

p: 150- 

make the change or its method psychological. 
The view taken of Society by the individualist 
psychologist is that which the cell in the 
organic body might be expected to take of its 
own liberty and importance. We now know 
that the cell has an individuality of its own, 
and we can imagine the strenuous efEorts made 
by cell philosophers to prove that the body 
existed for them, and that the modifying and 
moving force in the organism was the indivi- 
dual cell.* 

We over-rate our individual importance in 
these matters. When we build our houses, 
use the facilities of modem town life, become 
enraptured with our religious consolations, 
contemplate the productions of our art, or 
plunge into the speculations of our divine 
philosophers, we seldom think that all these 
precious possessions and exercises belong to 
Society, and not to the individual, and that 
when the individual enjoys them he is in reality 
putting to use possessions which he cannot 
keep for himself, which he did almost nothing 
to acquire, which he can do little more than 

■' There is less of the purely fanciful in these considera- 
tions than we may be inclined to think at first. Recent 
investigations into the nature of cells, and recent specula- 
tions, based upon scientifically observed facts as to the 
meaning of cell activity — as, for instance, Binet's Psychic 
Life of Micro-Organisms — ^point to a fulness of cell life 
which foreshadows many of the characteristics of the 
highest animals — such as memory, will, fear, &c. 


protect from rusting and corrupting, and which 
he simply has the privilege of borrowing 
for usury. Throughout our lives we are 
but as men feasting at the common table 
of a bountiful lord, and when we bear in the 
dishes of the feast, or gather up the crumbs 
which have fallen from the board, we pride 
ourselves on our wealth and the magnificent 
reward which our labour has brought to 
us. When, in time, we die, however, our 
vacant place is of little consequence. Every- 
thing we have done, everything we were, 
becomes social property, and our life is of 
value mainly in so far as it has contributed to 
the fulness of social life and the development 
of social organisation and efficiency. This is 
borne in upon us with irresistible force when 
we think of the few individuals whose 
memories are rescued from the grave. Our 
Dictionary of National Biography makes a grand 
display on our library shelves, but when we 
think of its great array of volumes, in the 
midst of the crowded market-place or the 
streaming thoroughfares where humanity 
flows like a tide, what a puny collection it 
seems ! What vast echoless generations does it ' 
suggest ! What millions of nameless ghosts 
gather round its few pages of imperishable 
memories ! 

The "being" that lives, that persists, that 
develops, is Society ; the life upon which the 

individual draws that he himself may have 
life, liberty and happiness is the social life. 
The likeness between Society and an organism 
like the human body is complete in so far as 
Society is the total life from which the 
separate cells draw their individual life. Man 
is man, only in Society. 

This dependence of the individual upon the 
form and nature of the social organisation 
also determines the individual's function. As 
the organisation of society changes, men's 
functions in it change also. The great 
divisional epochs of sociology — primaeval and 
early society, the mediaeval age and modem 
times — were distinguished by certain general 
characteristics of tribal and national life 
expressing itself in different forms of social 
organisation which determined the modes of 
thought, the economic pursuits,and the relative 
values of social functions, classes and men, and 
which settled whether men and classes were 
regarded from the point of view of status and 
subordination, or of equality and liberty. 
Man, himself, has been the same thing, has 
been built upon practically the same principles 
of physiology and psychology as he now is, 
right through human history. But it would 
have been as absurd to claim equality for him 
in the feudal age as it would be to claim a 
free and absolutely separate individuality for 


the cells in his own body. His status was 
determined by the social organisation of 
his time. When his tribe became a part of a 
nation, his political function was changed ; 
when his nation moved from its military to 
its commercial stage, he had to be the weaver 
and the ironworker instead of the man-at- 
arms, and his status was changed accordingly. 
As a workman in the commercial epoch, he 
finds his function in society altered with every 
machine that is invented. The boot and shoe 
operative of to-day is almost as different from 
the boot and shoe operative of fifty years ago 
as the stomach of the bell animalcule is from 
that of man. Every improvement in loco- 
motion, everything which breaks down inter- 
national barriers and opens up the world, every 
extension of markets, every attempt to 
reorganise industry by the more effective use 
of capital, every vital impulse given to the 
country to empty itself into the town, changes 
men's functions, alters their relations to each 
other and to Society, implants new habits, new 
virtues and new vices in them, gives them 
new ideals to guide conduct, modifies their 
body, and impresses itself generally upon the 


All this change has come, not because any 
individual or combination of individuals has 
sought it, but because someone, impelled by 
the possibilities which the social organism 


offered for a modification of its functions, and 
by the creative opportunities which circum- 
stances gave to thought and will, altered the 
organisation of Society — for instance, by 
labour-saving machinery — at this point or 
that, with the result that the whole organism 
had to re-adjust itself to the change. 

When Stephenson made his steam engine he 
had no thought of the social results of his 
action, except in its immediate consequences 
as an improvement in hauling machinery, and 
yet how fundamentally has Stephenson's 
engine changed men. A study of history 
shows, not the free play of the individual will 
in determining the character and direction of 
human activities, but the almost absolute con- 
trol of the social organism. The Great Man 
has undoubtedly modified that organism now 
and again — the soldier, the preacher, the 
thinker, the inventor, the organiser of industry, 
— but the results of these men's work have not 
been gained as a direct influence on their 
fellows, but through a modification of the 
structure of society, and a consequent change 
of the functions which individuals are called 
upon to perform. To the sum total of these 
modifications many small changes have con- 
tributed much more than a few great altera- 

War, the most revolutionary force of all, has 
had to lower its flags to the persistent dogged- 
ness of Society (if the expression may be used) 


in going its own way. The inroads of Rome 

upon Europe left less permanent results than 

was at one time supposed. The incursion of 

the barbaric armies from the North upon 

Italy had no greater effect than a violent 

storm has upon a vigorous sapling ; little that 

was permanent followed the partition treaties 

and edicts which marked the triumph and 

sealed the downfall of Napoleon; few real 

organic changes were effected by the destructive 

hurricanes of the French Revolution. After 

the war which was to do so much to 

revolutionise the social and political life of 

South Africa, the country began to develop 

from the point it had reached before the war 

broke out, and upon lines but little different 

from those laid down before war was thought 

about. Effect, of course, all these revolutions 

had, but how little compared with the furies 

that accompanied them, and the tremendous 

efforts which were consumed by them. And 

as the pre-revolution and post -revolution times 

are minutely examined, although change may 

have been rapid (as indeed change from one 

variety of a species to another, as in flower 

culture for instance, often is), the continuity 

between the old and the new is well marked.* 

* This opinion, so contrary to the views of the Radical 
writers of the last two or three generations, is becoming 
a commonplace in sober history — the history where colour 
and movement are subordinated to the sober facts. These 
revolutionary epochs, these ditches supposed to be dug 
across history, do not bear examination. Even what we 


Or, we may consider how very little 
difference there is between the Republican 
United States and the Monarchial Great 
Britain, and that what difference exists is 

westerns have been taught to regard as the greatest of all 
these ditches, the difference between Paganism and 
Christianity, hardly exists. In the chapter. Some Thoughts 
on the Transition from Paganism to Christianity, in 
Professor Bernard Bosanquet's The Civilisation of 
Christendom, the subject is dealt with in accordance both 
with what I have written above and also of the views I 
express later on regarding the growth of political parties. 
Mr. Bryce in his Holy Roman Empire (chap, iii.) 
summarises the effect of the barbaric invasion in these 
words: "It is hardly too much to say that the thought 
" of antagonism to the Empire and the wish to extinguish 
" it never crossed the minds of the barbarians." Surely 
no one who knows European history will dispute the view 
that the partition of Europe by the representatives of the 
Powers at Vienna resulted in the wars which Germany, 
Italy, Austria and France have undergone to break down 
the artificial arrangements of Metternich and his masters. 
The Radical Epoch has altogether exaggerated the real 
influence of the French Revolution. Its effect upon law 
was supposed to be one of its most blessed contributions 
to European history, but according to Professor Viollet, 
corroborated by Professor Maitland (Cambridge Modem 
History, vol. viii., p. 7S3), "the Revolutionary Epoch 
" manifests a truth, which no historian of whatsoever 
' ' school ever expressed more felicitously and clearly than 
" Portalis in the preliminary discourse of the Civil Code : 
" • The Codes of nations are the work of time ; properly 
" 'speaking, they are not made.' . . . French legisla- 
" tion in the century just passed . . . is the result of 
'■historical forces, and no mere invention or artificial 
" creation." Exactly the same is true of social and political 


owing not to Declarations of Independence, 
but to the difEerences in social organisation, 
which are caused by the fact that one is a 
new country and the other an old one, and 
that one had a prairie up to yesterday, and the 
other has had none for many a generation. 

The mode of progress is, the individual, 
endowed with possibilities of action by his 
ancestors, is launched into Society — the race 
— to receive from it the impress and impact 
of its inherited qualities, and thus by the play 
and interplay of the individual and social in- 
heritance, and individual and social dynamic, 
progress is carried on. 


The influence of the individual upon Society 
is of two kinds. There are, in the first place, 
the rearrangements in social functions which 
result from a reorganisation of industrial 
structure consequent upon invention, e.g., the 
application of steam power to processes of 
production and exchange. Then there is the 
bombardment of social structure carried on 
by the disquietude and discontent of indi- 
viduals who demand from Society better moral 
results than Society in its existing constitution 
can give. The work of the Utopians belongs 
to this second class of effort. 

This second moulding force is to be much 
stronger in the future than it has been in the 
past, because it cannot come into full play 


until political democracy is established.* The 
people must gain possession of the State before 
the moral shortcomings in the working of 
Society become disassociated from other ques- 
tions, and present clear political and social 
issues. The first comprehensive problem which 
faces an industrial and enfranchised democracy 
is how to make Society conform in its function- 
ing to the moral standards of the individual. 
The moral sense of the individual, conse- 
quently, is constantly attacking a morally 
inefficient state of Society, and acts as a modi- 
fying force upon it, hastening and guiding its 

Political programmes to-day are being 
moulded by the demand, emanating from the 
individual conscience, that Society should do 
justice, that merit should be rewarded, that 
the righteous should not need to beg for bread. 
If the righteous cannot find a market, it is 
said by the defenders of the present chaos, 
either for their labour or the fruits of their 
labour, the righteous must starve. But this 
answer satisfies nobody — at any rate nobody 
working at " the mills of God." The question 
continues to be asked, why the righteous can- 
not find a market ? and the question is repeated 

'After political democracy has been established in a 
few countries, others more backward politically may, 
however, carry on their socio-moral agitations at the 
same time as they carry on their political ones. Russia 
is a case in point. 



whether the righteous is a fool or an imbecile 
or an honest but baffled and unfortunate man. 
Men will not be satisfied with a non-moral 
answer to a moral question. Descriptive 
economics will not soothe the enquiring moral 
intelligence. The dissatisfied moral nature 
will simply turn to change the economic re- 
lationships of Society so that the righteous 
may have a market and be saved from begging 
for bread. 

It must be remembered in estimating the 
power of this modifying influence that it does 
not depend for success upon the numbers 
of its conscious advocates, but upon the clear- 
ness of its thought and the justness of its pre- 
sentation. In a sense Jerichos are not taken 
by assault ; their walls fall down at the blast 
of trumpets. Moral truth comes like the 
dawn, not like an army of conquest. It can- 
not be energetically opposed after it has been 
discovered. "Thrice is he armed who hath 
his quarrel just " — if the fact that justice is 
on his side is recognised by his opponent. 

So when the time comes for a further effort 
on the part of Society to perfect itself, the 
step to be taken must be one which not only 
vmifies the organism more completely, and 
which makes its organs work more in co-opera- 
tion and less in competition with each other, 
but also one which promises to satisfy more 
fully the demands that social action and 


individual action should approximate to the 
same standards of morality. The satisfying 
of the moral sense of the individual and the 
economising of effort in Society must proceed 
hand in hand in progressive social evolution. 

The development of social structure more 
accurately embodies and satisfies the moral 
demands of the individual as we approach the 
time when Society is prepared to be modified 
in accordance with the dreams of the Utopians. 
Education liberates the individual will and 
intelligence so that they are increasingly effec- 
tive in producing the machinery necessary for 
economy of social effort ; this reacts upon in- 
dividual morality, and makes it more exacting 
in its demands upon Society, because the 
individual himself is then surrounded by social 
circumstances which press closer and closer 
upon him the necessity of undergoing the 
discipline of will and intelligence which makes 
character and justifies the thousand and one 
movements aimed at improving human quali- 
ties. This play and interplay of social 
organisation and need of individual will and 
character, seems to me to be an accurate 
description of the scope and method of 
individual action in Society, 

But the great reservoir of inheritance is the 
race and not the individual. When one con- 
siders in detail how much the social ego 
controls individual action this moulding 


power of the race seems to be limitless. 
Patriotism, a pride in one's national history, 
is the life of the organism imparting itself to 
the individual. The generation into which a 
man happens to have been born, the social 
circles in which he moves, the character of the 
vital moulding forces which play upon him in 
accordance as he lives in a suburb or in the 
centre of a city, the etiquette (settled genera- 
tions before and now largely irrational) of the 
profession to which he belongs, the tenure of 
an office round which traditions have grown 
up, the very language he uses, are influences 
which haunt him as persistently as his shadow, 
and do more than anything else to determine 
the tenor of his life and thought. But they 
are all drawn, not from the reservoir of 
individual, but of social, inheritance. 

This error of under- estimating the influence 
of social inheritance upon individual life has 
led to the very grave practical mistakes of 
political and moral individualism. It has 
been characteristic of the Liberal epoch to 
regard the individual as a separate, self-con- 
tained, creative being, bedecked in the regal 
garments of possessions and rights. This 
individualism has received the homage of a 
century whose interests, pursuits and problems 
blinded it to a fuller conception of human 
qualities. No age has been less fitted than 
the nineteenth century to value the common 


life, to find contentment in working in single- 
ness of heart for the good of the whole, to be 
at peace in a prosperous organism. But at last 
the falseness of this individualistic emphasis 
is being recognised. On its moral side it is 
not bringing peace, it is not advancing the 
frontiers of the kingdom of righteousness. On 
its political side, whence it has yielded the 
greatest amount of gain, it now stands baffled 
by the problems of State authority ; on its 
industrial side it has divorced economics from 
life and has failed absolutely to solve the 
problem of distribution. The code of laws 
imposing with ever-increasing stringency upon 
traders and manufacturers the elementary 
principles of honesty and fair-dealing grows 
steadily, and every addition is a fresh impeach- 
ment of self-regarding individualism as the 
basis of conduct. The gulf between rich and 
poor, the periodical breakdown of the modern 
industrial machine, causing wide-spread desti- 
tution, the sinister economic mechanism by 
which the owners of monopolies — especially of 
land — can claim an extra toll every time that 
commtmal wisdom and conscience adopt some 
scheme to alleviate the lot of the most hardly 
pressed classes, conclusively show that Society 
does not yet meet the requirements of human 
standards of use and value. 

On the other hand, every attempt to correct 
the shortcomings of what has been the domin- 
ant typeof individualism — except the attempts 


of charity either organised or disorganised — 
tends to supplant the type. The individual 
in search of liberty finds that the ideas and the 
claims contained in the modem expression 
" individualism " only mislead him. The 
individualism of the Factory Laws, of the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Children Acts, of 
Weights and Measures and Adulteration 
statutes, is an individualism taught to find 
outlets for its energy in social directions, and 
individualism disciplined by and co-ordinated 
with the requirements of man's social nature. 
In such administrative rules as those of public 
authorities to provide in contracts that fair 
wages must be paid for the work, we observe 
the same movement in operation, laying down 
the conditions under which the individual 
must be, not a wild buccaneer, but a humble 
organ in society, seeking peace in service and 
wealth in sharing. The acquiring self-regard- 
ing / is an altogether imperfect realisation 
of the human ego. 

In fact, disguise it from ourselves as we may, 
in our so-called " practical " moments, every 
conception of what morality is — except 
neurotic and erotic whims like those of 
Nietzsche or antiquated pre-scientific notions 
like those of the Charity Organisation 
Society — assumes that the individual is im- 
bedded organically in his social medium, and 
that, therefore, the individual end can be 


gained only by promoting the social end ; that 
the individual is primarily a cell in the organ- 
ism of his Society ;* that he is not an absolute 
being, but one who develops best in relation to 
other beings and who discovers the true mean- 
ing of his ego only when he has discovered 
the oneness of Society. " Man rises from the 
" life of his petty self to that of his family, 
" his tribe, and his race, mankind, finding his 
" greater self each time in these."! 


Two difficulties still remain, having a bear- 
ing on the purpose of this study. The form 
of an organism is the result of its past racial 
experience in the struggle for life, and has 
been moulded by the same forces which have 
determined the functions to be performed by 
its organs. 

Has Society a form ? Unless it has, it is 
impossible to conceive of organic functions 

- I am not discussing here what the scope of individual- 
ism is. The individual is by no means " a quiescent cell." 
He has a law of his own being, an evolution of his own, 
and an individual as well as a social end. The fears lest I 
should be denying all this can arise only from an imperfect 
view of what the life of a cell in an organism is. AU I am 
insisting upon here is, that in any adequate system of in- 
dividualism the fact that liberty and freedom of action 
(involving right to possess and so on) must be conditioned 
by social considerations in the interests of the individual 
himself, has to be recognised, and the system constructed 

t Carpenter, The Art of Creation, London, 1904, p. 192. 


being performed by the individual and groups 
of individuals. 

Society has no bodily form like a plant, or 
an elephant, or man himself. But here again 
it is more the appearance than the reality 
that is wanting. For, after all, organic form 
is only useful for holding together the relation- 
ship of organs. The human body, for instance, 
is not essentially a form composed of head, 
trunk, and legs : it is essentially a relationship 
of various organs which, in co-operation, 
compose a living unity of the human type. If 
we piece together two legs, two arms, a head, 
and a trunk, with their organs, we have a 
bodily form, but no organic unity. But if 
these organs are joined in that relationship 
which we call living, it would not matter 
whether they were in actual contact or not — 
whether they had form or not. If the character- 
istic vital relationship were still possible, they, 
in that relationship, would be an organism. 
A vital relationship between organs, not a 
bodily form containing these organs, consti- 
tutes an organism. 

Society is such an organism. Its organs are 
connected by a living tissue of law, of habit 
and custom, of economic inter-dependence, of 
public opinion, of political unity ; and these 
living connections maintain the stability of 
relationship between organs precisely as bodily 
form does. In that tissue the individual 
and the class are not embedded as stones in 

lime, but live as cells or organs in a body. 
That living tissue, on the other hand, is 
modified in biological fashion by external 
and internal impulses, needs and influences, 
arising from the experience of the whole 
organism. It lives when the individuals die, and 
preserves its vitality, identity and authority, 
after the component. cells and organs of any 
given moment have all disappeared and given 
place to others. Law survives generation 
after generation (just as the human body, with 
its three score and ten years of life, may be 
said, from the cell point of view, to survive 
generations of cells), obtaining from people 
unborn when the statutes were passed as much 
reverence and obedience as from those who 
helped to pass them. So with custom, public 
opinion, habits, mental attributes, institutions. 
The individual is part of them. They are the 
life into which he is born ; their pulse regu- 
lates the beating of his ; their qualities deter- 
mine his own. 

The second difficulty is, that Society is not 
self-conscious. As a matter of fact, Society is 
keenly self-conscious For, what are law and 
custom but evidence of the self-consciousness 
of Society ? And, as Society approaches a 
greater definiteness in organic relationships, 
its self-consciousness becomes more accurate 
and more under its control. 


Hence it is that the laws governing the 
existence and growth of human Society could 
not be understood until biological science 
was sufficiently far advanced to explain, with 
tolerable fulness of detail, the laws which 
regulate life and its evolution. For Society 
belongs to the biological type of existence 
because it is no mere collection of separate in- 
dividuals, like a heap of sand, but a unified 
and organised system of relationships, in which 
certain people and classes perform certain 
functions and others perform other functions, 
and in which individuals find an existence 
appropriate to their being by becoming parts 
of the functioning organs, and by adopting a 
mode of life and seeking conditions of liberty, 
not as separate and independent individual- 
ities, but as members of their commimities. 

The chief problems of social life relate to the 
organisation and development of codes of law, 
institutions, economic relationships, social 
ethics, public opinion ; they include the growth 
and decay of functions, the development and 
deterioration of organs and their relationship 
to the total life of the organism, the gradation 
from one stage of organisation to another by 
internal modifications — e.g., from primitive to 
mediaeval and on to modern society — and the 
persistence of a social individuality after the 
composing personal units have passed away. 

The chief difference between the social 
organism and the animal organism is, that 
whilst the latter, in the main, is subject to the 
slowly-acting forces expressed in the laws of 
natural evolution, the former is much more 
largely — though not nearly so largely as some 
people imagine, and in a less and less degree 
as it becomes matured (another organic 
characteristic) — under the sway of the com- 
paratively rapidly moving and acting human 
will. This gives the former an elasticity for 
change which the other does not possess. But 
the type of its organisation, the relations 
between its various organs, and the mode of 
their functioning — and it is with these that 1 
have to deal in this book — are biological. 

Chapter III. 


If we are to consider, with any profit, what 
are the imperfections of existing Society, and 
what is the law of its further evolution, we 
must begin by reminding ourselves that there 
is a law of mutual aid in life as well as one 
of the struggle for existence, and that the 
former is predominant in human Society. 

The struggle for life, fought on the indi- 
vidualistic plane at first, is transferred to the 
social. One of the very first results of the 
individual struggle with nature and with 
other individuals, is to create groups of indi- 
viduals for mutual protection. This is a law 
of life from the cell to the mammal. Mutual 
aid thus becomes as important a factor in 
evolution as the struggle for life. The law of 
group existence and development blends with 
that of individual existence and development 
to weave the pattern of progress. 

The study of mutual aid therefore leads us 
to examine group organisation with a view to 
ascertaining what is the position of the indi- 
vidual within the group, how its organisation 
affects his liberty, and how far every member 


within it contributes to its efficiency. Social- 
ism is nothing more than a criticism of 
Society from the point of view of mutual aid 
and the formulation of a policy in accordance 
with the laws of mutual aid. 
One of the chief characteristics of existing 
Society is the incoherence of its functions. It 
is a machine which is always getting out of 
gear, as is shown by its alternating periods of 
overwork and unemployment, its excessive 
riches and despairing poverty, its enormous 
gross income and its appalling records of 
destitution and pauperism. Its productive 
and distributive functions are not organised 
so as to serve the common well being, but are 
working for their own special interests.* They 
are, therefore, competitive. It is as though a 
stomach performed its functions, not as part 
of a body, but as an organ conscious only of 
its separate existence, and thinking primarily 
of that existence. 

At present each separate organ preys 
upon all the others. True, it must to 

* It is interesting to note, as an addendum to the dis- 
cussion on how the individual is organically connected 
with his society, that in fulfilling the particular end 
which contemporary society is striving to attain (in the 
present day, the production of wealth), the individual is 
valued just as he succeeds in making that end his own 
(in the present day, amassing wealth), and he manages 
to square his conscience to any immoral acts which may 
promote his success in this direction. 


some extent and in some indirect way serve 
the community, for preying must not be 
too rapacious or the organ preyed upon will 
die. The landlord cannot exact too much 
rent, or industry will move elsewhere : the 
employer cannot cut wages too low or he will 
be unable to command skill and physique : 
the workman cannot demand too high wages 
or he will give an incentive to capital to 
break up labour combinations, introduce 
machinery and otherwise rearrange industrial 
processes. But in all this there is no working 
of a social organism balancing work and 
distributing awards. There is an exercise of 
judgment in determining how far one organ 
can safely go in preying upon another ; there 
is a call for diplomatic skill. But that is all. 
The laws which govern this relationship are 
of the same kind as those which govern the 
relationship between the shearer and the sheep. 

To establish an organic relationship, — a 
relationship by which each, contributing co- 
operatively to the life of the whole, may share 
in that life, — has now become the task of 
Society. This task, become the subject of a 
political propaganda and the guide of social 
change, is known as Socialism. Socialism is 
therefore not an abstract idea, nor a scheme 
of logical perfection, nor an acutely designed 
new social mechanism, nor a tour de force of 
the creative intelligence. It is the next stage 

in social growth. It is a proposal for the 
settlement of the problems which the present 
stage has raised by reason of its success. It 
is a recogiiition that the vital forces to which 
the present stage has given birth, but which it 
cannot nourish, must, nevertheless, realise 


History is a progression of social stages 
which have preceded and succeeded each 
other like the unfolding of life from the amoeba 
to the mammal, or from the bud to the 
fruit. To-day we are in the economic stage. 
Yesterday, we were in the political stage. 
To-morrow we shall be in the moral* stage. 
To-day, individual property and economic 
interest are the predominating influences upon 
society ; yesterday, the predominating influ- 
ence was national organisation — the necessity 
of national solidarity ; to-morrow, it will be 
justice, tempered by the virtues of sympathy. 
In other words, the course of evolution has 
been, the making of communities, the ex- 
ploitation of nature, the cultivation of men.f 

* I use the words to characterise man's responsibility 
to both his intelligence and his conscience. 

"I" There are two remarkable inconsistencies between 
the general sociological position taken up by Marx and 
Engels, and their persistent assertion of the economic 
basis of history, which should be pointed out here. In 
the first place they agreed that Hegel's greatest claim to 
fame was his demonstration that " the whole world," as 
Engels expresses it in Socialism : Utopian and Scientific 


At no time, however, are these epochs divided 
from each other by hard and fast lines. At 
any moment a virar may throw a nation back 
upon the first epoch when national self-defence 
would subordinate every other consideration ; 
whilst we have frequent reminders that econ- 
omic success cannot be pursued absolutely 
without regard to moral considerations. 

The political epoch is marked by the subor- 
dination of the individual and his right to 
liberty and property, to the national or tribal 
need for a head — a central nerve nucleus — 
connected with the natural mass by certain 
differentiated baron classes — nerve fibres and 
ganglia. The moral epoch will be marked 
by the complete emancipation of man so that 
he becomes master of himself — that self in- 
cluding the necessities of life, labour, and 
everything it requires for its existence and 

Whatever may have been the particular 

(P- 36), " natural, historical, intellectual, is represented as 
" a process, i.e., as in constant motion, change, transfor- 
" mation, development. " If that be true, is it conceivable 
that every department of life—" natural, historical, in- 
tellectual," (by-the-by a very slipshod division) — is 
chained to economics and cannot attain an independent 
development and existence of its own? In the second 
place Marx's insistence that each epoch has its own 
characteristic law of development is inconsistent with the 
assertion that economic considerations are at the basis of 
all historical evolution except that of primitive folk. 


circumstances under which the various com- 
munities have been formed, they have all 
grown owing to the necessity of self-defence. 
A strong central organisation was imperative, 
and this organisation had to be linked up to 
the masses around, by some aristocratic and 
military class of leaders subordinate to the 

In this process of unification we have the 
family joining with others to form, or itself 
growing into, the clan or tribe, and the clan 
or tribe, partly by eternal — e.g., voluntary 
impulse, — ^partly by eternal compulsion — e.g., 
conquest — joining to form a nation. For a 
time, the integrating forces are resented and 
opposed by the disintegrating sentiment and 
tradition of the clan, and only colonies of 
separate groups are formed at first. 

History is then a record of conflict between 
central and local authorities, between the 
integrating and disintegrating forces, the 
King and the Barons, the nation and the shire 
or municipality, Parliament and the guild — 
in which of necessity the law of integration 
asserts itself. This is the first chapter. 

The next chapter is marked by the organis- 
ation of the masses into a political unity 
and their initiation into the rights of 
citizenship. The opportunity for progress 

* It is still a well observed fact that uncivilized tribes 
which are governed on a monarchic plan are most 
successful in war, and consequently survive best. 


through this second stage comes first of all 
from the needs of the central authority,*' — the 
sovereign — to maintain its position against 
the local and clan disintregating forces, or 
against rival sovereigns. This leads to the 
establishment of some measure of political 
and economic freedom for the plebs — in other 
words, a nerve connection between the central 
nucleus and the surrounding mass. 

Meanwhile, the mass itself ceases to be 
amorphous and becomes differentiated into 
functions, e.g. , trades and classes. The economic 
stage is beginning ; the political one is fading 
away into the accomplished past. But the 
process of political intregation continues. 

The municipium, at first merely the wattled 
place of refuge for the people scattered on the 
soil, becomes a market, a centre of industry, a 
depot, a chartered community, a society, 
enjoying widening powers of self-government. 
The individuals composing it are divided into 
this trade and that. Some men and finally a 
class of men, acquire control of the means of 

* This connection is brought into great prominence by 
the study of ancient and mediaeval democracies, especially 
of the city republics. In Carthage, democracy increased 
its powers with Hannibal's military exploits ; in Rome, 
the power of the commons increased as the armies of the 
commons became necessary to rival rulers. The struggle 
between Emperor and Pope started the Italian cities upon 
their careers as independent republics. The political 
movement in Russia to-day is an interesting illustration 
of the same principle. 

production — the necessary conditions for an 
industrial community ; they secure credit or 
gain capital, and from the time that the 
producer has to depend upon a distant market 
cither for his raw material or for the sale of 
his produce, a separate class becomes the 
owners of these industrial necessities, the 
organisers of trade and the employers of 
labour. Opposition is at first shown between 
the old aristocracy of title and land, and the 
new plutocracy of wealth and manufactures, 
but again the laws of integration, of conserva- 
tion and imitation, come into operation. 
Assimilation and co-ordination take place. 
Production has become the grand social 
function, and those organising it are in a 
position to demand citizen rights. The owners 
of capital and property are first of all received 
into the fold of the sovereign lawmaking 
authority.® When society has developed so 
far, it still contains a vast amorphous mass of 
proletariat imconnected with its controlling 
central authority, although of importance as 
food providers who are, when roused, the in- 
vincible majority. 

Meanwhile, State activity touches more and 
more intimately the every-day life of the 
people, and it becomes more and more essen- 

* In their efforts to gain an entrance into this fold 
they have to make it easier for the lower classes to gain 
an entrance also in accordance with the law referred to 


tial that the people themselves should be able 
to pronounce what they think on the laws. 
The imperfect way in which any single indi- 
Aridual, family or class can represent the 
national unity or express the national will, 
necessitates the creation of an organ in which 
all interests and classes are represented, and 
Representative Democracy is established. 
The stage of political construction then ends. 
The economic period, at the end of which 
we stand and from the maturity of which 
Socialism springs into life, is marked by the 
organisation of production and exchange of 
wealth ; and production and exchange are best 
begun in a Society of the individualistic type. 
The scramble of competitors, the struggle for 
prizes, promote the exploitation of nature 
and create, to begin with, the best machinery 
for production and the best facilities for 

We therefore find that the first chapters in 
the economic epoch deal with the organisation 
of markets, the separation of the trading from 
the producing classes, the differentiation of 
capital from labour, and the setting of the 
producing functions over all other functions — 
in a word, they deal with the establishment 
of the bourgeoisie, the middle class, the 
plutocracy. As the epoch develops, frequent 
dislocations of industry take place, political 


and industrial agitatibii of a democratic 
and Socialist character disturbs society, as the 
life of the coming epoch germinates in the 
bosom of the order which is maturing, 
and glimpses of a better organisation are 
caught through the suffering of the victims. 
Utopias are dreamt of. But Society goes on 
evolving in its cuinbrous way. Organic things 
are not created or re-created in a day. The 
various phases in industrial evolution, the 
horrors of child labour as well as the beneficent 
effect of a world commerce, are as much a 
"necessity" in the nature of things* as the 
process of organic evolution revealed in the 
ponderous books of stone from the Cambrian 
schists to the river gravels. To indulge in 
dreamy imaginings upon how much more bless- 
ed we should have been had not this movement 
or that been crushed out by force or starved out 

* I am aware of the attacks that have been made upon 
the use of these words. But they still express better than 
any others the belief that every living thing develops in 
accordance with the law of its owa being, and that every 
function of society is ultimately limited in its operations 
by the whole social life. The living conscious individual 
partly obeys that law in accordance with the views of 
Determinists, but he is also partly obedient to his concep- 
tions of that law operating in a higher stage of perfection, 
and in a changed relationship. " Man partly is, and 
wholly hopes to be." He can therefore move from the 
fixed present, and secure some of the better possibilities 
of the future. We might say that the warp and the woof, 
of life are given to us, but that we can modify the pattern 
that is to be woven. 


by ignorance, is one of the vainest and least 
profitable of all serious recreations. The past 
was " necessary " ; the future is ours to make 
or to mar. Until the individualistic and 
competitive phase of our economic evolution 
had worked itself out, after building up an 
efficient mechanism of production and ex- 
change, we were not ready to deal with the 
problem of distribution, or with that of use 
and consumption. 

But the necessity of dealing with the 
problem of consumption — which is really the 
problem of endowing the individual with 
economic freedom, because freedom to con- 
sume is the last and most comprehensive 
of all economic freedoms — slowly emerges 
from the conditions established under the 
phase of productive effort. It is not only that 
the sense of justice is violated with increasing 
harshness as the contrast between the poverty- 
stricken and the luxurious classes becomes 
more marked in a nation whose aggregate 
income motmts up by leaps and bounds, but 
the very machinery of production tends to be 
transformed in such a way as to compel the 
public to guard their interests by gaining 
control of this machinery. Competition tends 
to pass away and monopoly takes its place ; 
the common needs, sacrificed by private 
interest in profit-making, assert themselves 
more and more through Factory Laws, experi- 

ments in municipalisation, Sanitary Laws 
and so on. In other words, the various 
functions in Society, acting originally inde- 
pendently of each other, tend to become 
grouped and be subject to a will and an 
interest common to the whole group ; and in 
time the groups themselves tend to become 
completely merged in the whole organism 
and to act in accordance with its will and 


At what point of this evolution are we 
now ? How far was the efficient organisation 
of labour gone ? How far has the machinery 
of production been transformed ? 

In attempting to answer those questions, 
we must remember that one of the chief 
tests of efficient organisation in industry 
is sub-division, accompanied by co-ordina- 
tion, of function.* In this respect we 
have attained a perfection which must be 
approaching its limits. Even in our 
domestic arrangements — the last to respond 
to change in social organisation — this 
sub-division and co-ordination have gone 
far. It is a long time since our wives and 
daughters spun at our own firesides wool from 

*Adam Smith's expression " the sub-division of labour " 
is an inadequate one as a description of what happens 
under the Factory System, because the co-operation of the 
work of those employed in the sub-divided processes is as 
necessary a characteristic of the system as the sub-division 


the backs of sheep grazing on our own 
meadows. These operations supplied too 
wide a market to remain domestic. But 
functions which were purely family and dom- 
estic, the materials for which were growing 
in our garderis, the implements for which were 
nothing more than a fireplace and a pot, and 
the performance of which was much more 
personal than even spinning (personal and 
wifely as that at one time was), have been 
organised apart from the duties of the 
housewife, until to-day our cooking is done to 
a large extent in bakeries, jam factories, 
canning and tinning establishments, and the 
very care of children is becoming more and 
more a specialised function of Society. 

But it is in the staple industries — those 
which supply a great market with a uniform 
article — that the process of differentiation 
and co-ordination has gone furthest. The 
cloth-worker used to alternate weaving and 
spinning with agriculture. But the inevitable 
law of differentiation forced him to leave his 
fields and give himself up wholly to his 
machine and his frame, which had become one 
of many in a factory. In the factories them- 
selves differentiation made itself felt. Separate 
departments were formed, and the division of 
processes became so great that different 
establishments confining themselves to differ- 
ent operations, like spinning and weaving in 
the cotton trade, were created. 


The chief sociological effect of mechanical 
invention has been to aid this process of sub- 
division and co-ordination of function. Adam 
Smith's reference at the opening of the Wealth 
of Nations, to the sub-division of labour in pin- 
making owing to the employment of machinery 
has become classical. But since Adam Smith's 
day, sub-division has gone both far and fast. 
I may illustrate this from the boot and shoe 
and tailoring trades. 

In 1859* men's ordinary cheap boots were 
made by 83 different operations done by two 
men; in 1895 they were made by 122 different 
operations performed by 113 workers, some of 
whom were women. In 1863 men's medium 
grade calf shoes, finished in style, were made 
by 73 operations done by one man; in 1895, 
by 173 operations performed by 371 work- 
people. Equally striking is the change 
in the names by which the workpeople 
describe themselves. In 1863, the men were 
shoemakers ; in 1895, the word has become 
little better than an abstraction, and no 
single workman is indicated by it. Instead 
of shoemakers we have vamp cutters, tip 
markers, second row stitchers, eyeleters, 
feather edgers, insole sorters, counter buffers, 
pullers over, welt strippers, outsole layers, 

* Report of the Commissioner of Labour on Land and 
Machine Labour, Washington, i8g8. The unit of pro- 
duction for the figures quoted is 100 pairs of shoes and 100 
vicuna coats. 


heel nailers, stitch dividers, bottom stainers, 
shank burnishers, treers, edge polishers and 
such like. 

The effect of mechanical appliances upon 
the clothing industry is equally marked. 
When men's ordinary vicuna coats were made 
by hand, 22 operations had to be performed 
and four men were employed upon them ; in 
1895, these coats were made up by 28 opera- 
tions upon which 254 workers were employed. 
The hand workers were known as tailors, 
trimmers and cutters ; the designation tailor 
has not survived the use of machinery, the trim- 
mer barely survives, whilst fitters, basters, 
sewing machine operators, button hole cutters, 
finishers, pressers and button sewers attest to 
the minute sub-division of the trade. 

Every industry shows the same process. 
Every minute operation in the manufacture of 
any article becomes separated, a staff is 
employed to perform it alone, and the aggre- 
gate number of hands in the labour unit 
of production is on the increase. The 
individual workman is no longer the unit 
of production, but a body of from 100 to 
400 persons as in shoemaking, and from 100 
to 300 as in tailoring. 

The same process has also affected trades. 
One trade dovetails into another, either be- 
cause one supplies raw material for the other 
or in some other way is a complement to it. 


For instance, a municipality doing its own 
street sweeping finds it to be advantageous 
to make and mend its brooms ; if it employs 
horses it finds that doing its own saddlery is 
economical ; if its stable is large it may em- 
ploy its own veterinary surgeon and start its 
own forge with profit. The necessity to 
destroy its dust and refuse may compel it to 
generate its own electricity, and for like 
reasons it may be driven into brickmaking, 
the supplying of electric lighting apparatus, 
printing, and so on. 

I have been told that a certain well-known 
slaughter and packing house found its bye- 
products so embarrassing to dispose of that it 
had to start the manufacture of sausages, 
bristles, glue, felt, candles, soap, table condi- 
ments, manure ; it owns the rolling stock 
which it uses ; in order to protect itself from 
competition, it has acquired railroads and 
organised transport in several cities ; it has 
opened retail shops ; it insures itself, and 
through a bank of its own, conducts its 
financial business. 

The activities of the American Steel Trust 
afford another example of this co-ordination 
of industry. As a manufacturing concern it 
includes operations like the making of tin- 
plates, tubes,bridges,wire and nails, which used 
to be separate businesses. But it has carried 
organisation and co-ordination much further 
than that. It has acquired 55,000 acres of 


the best cokirig coal lands in the Connellsville 
region, and has built over 18,000 coke ovens'. 
It holds 106 iron ore mines in the Lake 
Superior region, and large limestone proper- 
ties in Pennsylvania. It possesses 132 wells 
of natural gas, which yield on the aggregate 
11,000,000,000 cubic feet per annum. It owns 
1,200 miles of railway, and has a controlling 
interest in five other lines. It has a fleet of 
112 ore-carrying steamers, together with docks 
and landing stages and the machinery neces- 
sary for handling the iron ore.® 

With this sub-division and co-ordination of 
labour and industry has proceeded an enor- 
mous improvement in the means of communi- 
cation. Fifty years ago if one sent a message 
from London to Edinburgh, it took about a 
week to receive an answer, whilst from Lon- 
don to New York it took a month. The 
stage coach going at from seven to ten miles 
an hour, was the substitute for the express 
train going seven or eight times as fast, and 
the fare per passenger was not less than ;f 10 
for a journey which can now be done for 
thirty shillings. The ship depending upon 
the fitful winds was all that could be had 
instead of the ocean steamers which now run so 
punctually that one can catch a certain train 
by them at the end of a long voyage. There was 

*British Iron Trade Association : Report on American 
Industrial Conditions, London, 190J, pp. 22, etc. 

no regular cable service between the Old and 
the New World until 1866, and rates which 
are now a shilling a word were then £1. 
Telegrams were little used until between 1840 
and 1850, and then a good machine could 
only send 2.000 words per hour,* whilst now 
twelve times as many can be sent, and devices 
are employed for duplicating and for working 
several clerks upon the same message. And 
now the telephone is superseding both telegram 
and express train, t The Napoleonic capitalist 
sits in his office and conducts his trade in every 
coimtry and every clime as though his markets 
were but at the end of his street. There is 
only the space of a few minutes separating 
the Old from the New World. 

With these magical facilities under his 
control, the capitalist is no longer a private 
person operating in a little comer of his 
parish, whose success or failure only ripples 
the calm surface of the life of his village. He 
deals with Society ; the fate of peoples depends 
upon him ; he rules empires ; legislatures 
which monarchs cannot control are his pup- 
pets. Nominally, his property and his busi- 

*McCulloch's Dictionary of Commerce, London, 1882, 
Art. written 1869. 

1 1 have heard that owing to the adoption of the tele- 
phone one of the express trains running between New 
York and Chicago has been taken off. 


ness are his own, but the consequences 
attending the way he controls them are 
spread over Society. 

This becomes a matter of serious importance 
when labour-saving machinery is largely used. 
A machine which lightens labour can very 
easily be turned into one which takes the 
place of labour, and whether that happens or 
not depends upon whether the machine is 
held by a class which employs labour for a 
profit, or whether it is used by labour for its own 
benefit. So long as there are expanding mar- 
kets at home and abroad, machinery creates a 
demand for work, partly because the machin- 
ery itself must be made, and partly because it 
cheapens production and therefore increases 

But its employment enormously increases 
the power of the capitalist over the wage 
earner. It increases the proportion of un- 
skilled labour in the community,® and enables 
the capitalists to call in to his aid the weak 
and the casual workers, generally children 
and women, to take the places of men and 

*Cf. American Industrial Conditions, supra, p. 3 17, "The 
tendency in the Amercan steel industry is to reduce by 
every possible means the number of highly skilled men 
employed, and more and more to establish the general 
wage on the basis of common unskilled labour. , 
The American steel manufacturer has succeeded in late 
years in largely reducing the relative numbers of his skilled 
and highly paid hands." 

reduce their wages.® No sentiment, no 
tradition, no social interest can resist the 
imperative demand in the present economic 
state that the most convenient kind of labour — 
convenient to the capitalist — shall find its 
way to the factory gates. Whilst we prate, 
for instance, about the sacredness of the 
family life, we allow the convenience of the 
machine to undermine the economic props of 
the family group. A pillar of Sabbatarianism 
can prove satisfactorily to himself that his 
works must — the economic, not the moral must 
— go seven days in the week ; a man full of 
phrases glorifying humanity employs married 
women or girls to cut down the wages of men 
when he needs cheap labour, and turns men 
away from his factory gates. "Business 
principles " — the "business principles" of self- 
regarding individuals, not of Society — are made 
the excuse for human waste and unrighteous- 
ness, and we are willing to accept as a last 
word in social ethics an appeal that the 
rights — or the fancied rights — of property 
must be respected even should the heavens fall, 
and that the rights and duties of wage earners 
should be subordinated to the needs of the 
machinery which employs them. 

Thus we see how machinery, which might 

*A workman in an industrial town in the Midlands re- 
marked to me the other day : " I have eleven children, but 
thank God, most of them are girls. They can easily get 
work, but the boys are difficult to place." 


lighten labour, supplants it when used in the 
interest of a capitalist class, or increases the 
demand for cheap and unorganised labour 
without providing facilities for a cultured 
leisure. Thus we see how tools, a dead factor, 
rule men, the living factor in production, and 
how a class engaging in production for profits 
controls the class which takes part in produc- 
tion in order to maintain life. Things 
dominate men, with results spelt out in 
moral, social and physical deterioration. The 
workman has to accommodate himself to his 
employer's ledger. The owner of the land and 
the means of production is the owner of the 
lives of the people. He holds Society in the 
hollow of his hand 

This is no indictment of the individual 
capitalist, who is often trying his best to 
listen to ethical imperatives in his business. 
It is an indictment against a system of dis- 
organised functions in which even the success- 
ful capitalist is a victim morally, if not 
economically like his employee. 

Nor can any combination of labour in the 
form of Trade Unionism or Co-operation 
break down this form of economic slavery. 
These combinations, particularly when sup- 
ported by individual character, protect the 
wage earners up to a point, but capital and 
its interests can be concentrated much more 

thoroughly than labour and its interests, and 
ultimately the contest depends upon the phy- 
sical fact that the battalions of labour are 
numerous, and have a limited reserve of 
supplies or none at all ; and this unwieldiness 
of numbers and early fight with starvation 
must always be an enormous disadvantage to 
the wage earners. 

Hence we have reached a stage when the 
interest of the community in the use of some 
forms of property is much greater than the 
interest of the legal owners of that property, 
and when, in consequence, we must seriously 
question the advisability of allowing it to be 
controlled by private persons for private 

Even if it were physically possible for a 
person to own the light and air of heaven, so 
imperatively necessary is it for human beings 
to use them, that the right of private property 
in them is unthinkable. But the difference 
between light and air on the one hand, and 
land and industrial capital on the other, is 
only one of degree, and not one of kind.® As 
population multiplies, as it is deprived of free 
access to raw materials, as it becomes more 
dependent for life upon employment for 
wages. Society becomes increasingly interested 

* This is seen when as a matter of fact private ownership 
of land in towns, by causing overcrowding and slum con- 
ditions, really involves a private ownership of air and light. 

in the uses to which land and industrial 
capital are put. Its right to insist upon the 
social use of property grows, until at last the 
expediency of allowing private ownership in 
these necessary conditions of life is destroyed. 
The reasons which make the private owner- 
ship of light and air unthinkable tend to 
make the private ownership of land and in- 
dustrial capital also imthinkable. 

This inevitable growth of the necessity for 
Society to insist upon the proper use of land 
and capital is hastened in its final stages by 
the ceasing of competition within large econ- 
omic and geographical areas, and the ruinous 
intensification of competition between those 
areas. The competitive stage is always one 
of unstable equilibrium. The successful com- 
petitor always tends to swallow up his rivals, 
and then proceeds to fight a cannibal battle- 
royal with those who, like himself, have done 
some swallowing, have grown massive in 
consequence, and who have in due course to be 
faced by him. Or, he may come to a truce 
with them in a Kartel or Trust. The law of 
competition is that the operations of the indi- 
vidual capitalist become wider as capital 
becomes concentrated, and that at last a 
monopolistic peace is declared. 

Thus, in this country there is little com- 
petition in railway rates ; for years there has 
been little competition in paraffin oil ; in the 


iron, milling, shipping, tobacco, thread and 
other industries we have had in recent years 
combinations, created either after or without 
a competitive war, that have been more or 
less effective in reducing competition to a 
minimum. The wallpaper trust controls 98 
per cent, of the trade, the Bradford Dyers, the 
Textile Machinery Company, the London Coal 
Combination, and several others, claim about 
90 per cent., and the list could be extended to 
some length. Even when the combinations 
fail, the causes, however difficult they may be 
to overcome, are all seen to be vanquishable. 
The failures are but the backwash of the 
encroaching tide. 

The fact is that the state of individualist 
competition, the state of serving the com- 
munity by making personal profits, is nothing 
except the chaotic interregnum between two 
states of social organisation, in the present 
instance between Feudalism, when society 
was organised to maintain national life, and 
Socialism, when Society will be organised to 
maintain the industrial and moral efficiency 
of the community. It is inconceivable that 
the unregulated clash of individual interests 
and the haphazard expenditure of individual 
effort, which competition means, with all their 
accompanying waste of economic power and 
of human energy, should stand for ever as the 
final word which rational beings have to say 
upon their industrial organisation. 


But whilst within certain areas the bounds 
of industrial peace are being widened, the 
growth of aggressive political nationalism 
has transformed an economic rivalry between 
trading firms into a nationalist struggle. No 
movement in recent years is more menacing 
in its probable results and more absurd in its 
methods than this. If it is encouraged, it will 
postpone for generations the success of the 
tendency towards international peace, and will 
divert and arrest the growth of that humani- 
tarian sentiment which blots out from our 
minds — if not from our maps — national boun- 
daries. Already, under the mistaken belief 
that trade follows the flag, we have put an 
enormous strain upon our imperial resources 
and national wealth. Commerce, which, 
according to the Radical manufacturers, was 
to be the handmaiden of peace, has been en- 
listed upon the side of war. But no State can 
allow its international relations to be decided 
by its merchants. The interests, or supposed 
interests, of individual merchants must give 
way to the interests of the community. 

The fiscal agitation has, moreover, drawn 
our attention to the depredations of parasitic 
interests and the waste of disorganised indus- 
trial efforts. The jeremiads which have had 
to be uttered in order to give some appearance 
of evidence in support of Tariff changes, have 
made us conscious of the weight of the unneces- 
sary burdens which our industry has to bear, 

and industrial economy has been advocated, 
by the Socialist and Labour organisations 
at any rate, as the alternative to political 
protection. It has been shown that our 
railways are sacrificing national interests 
for private profits, that our iron and coal 
industry is weighted with mining rents 
and royalties, that our education system 
is paralysed by the contests of secta- 
ries, that our whole social organisation is 
maintained for private and class profit. Every 
crack and subsidence which has been proved 
to exist in our national commerce has been 
shown to be mendable, not by tariffs, but by 
the better organisation of industry. 

There is also another circumstance which 
we must take into account in considering 
how far the present organisation of Society 
is capable of improvement. At the present 
moment we are in the midst of a strong ten- 
dency in legislation to establish what is called 
a national minimum of social conditions — 
e.g., wages, sanitation, leisure, etc. Now, as 
a matter of fact, competitive industry will 
not bear all this, if the minimum is to be worth 
striving for, and a point must soon be reached 
when the far-seeing Socialist will cease to 
press for these superficial palliatives, and 
exert increased pressure for public ownership. 
When the legislative palliative is inconsis- 
tent with the system upon which it is 


to be imposed, the awakening moral con- 
sciousness which prompts the demand must 
see that it really condemns the existing state 
fundamentally, and not merely in some of its 
superficial and alterable features* 


Labour and industry have been sub-divided 
and co-ordinated only in so far as has been 
necessary for efficient production, the sub- 
division and co-ordination have not gone on 
for the purpose of increasing the health of 
the whole social organism. Land, capital 
and labour ; the producer and consumer ; the 
worker and the instruments of work — are all 
opposing functions in Society. Hence the 
wealth created by this system of opposition 
is inequitably distributed, and the civilization 
which it permits is a mixture of barbarism 
and Byzantinism, of philanthropy and injus- 
tice. The private ownership of land, express- 
ing itself through monopoly values, mining 
rents and royalties, wayleaves, rights of 

* I hold this point to be of the greatest importance for 
the future success of Socialism. State interference under 
Commerciahsm is strictly confined within limits. If we go 
beyond these our experiments will be failures, and like the 
Paris workshops of 1848 will become bulwarks behind 
which reactionaries will shelter themselves. Public owner- 
ship, which after all is Socialism, as distinguished from 
State interference which is only the path to Socialism, 
must not be allowed to be pushed into the background of 
Socialist effort, and in its interests, palliatives must be 
reijected sometimes. 


enclosure and powers to withhold from use, 
limits enterprise and is a heavy burden upon 
industry. The power of capital to look after 
its own interests first, makes our railways a 
hindrance rather than a help to our industrial 
position, subjects trade to serious periodical 
crises, prevents any effective attempt being 
made to regulate supply and demand, makes 
a national organisation of industry impossi- 
ble and an anarchy of superfluous wealth and 
bankruptcy, overtime add unemployment, 
permanent, and it dooms its dependent wage 
earners to lives devoid of that security and 
comfort which are essential to the liberty and 
moral advance of man. The separateness of 
labour and its subordination to capital breed 
the anti-social spirit, the conditions under 
which it has to do its work undermine honesty 
and craftsmanship, the reward it receives 
gives it no encouragement to attain to artistic 
or scientific skill and barely yields to it an 
opportunity to exercise the virtues of temper- 
ance and forethought. 

The organs of a healthy body politic are now 
in existence. In their variety and co-ordination 
they mark an advance upon the condition of 
Society a century ago. They indicate a substan- 
tial improvement in the economy of effort and 
precision in gaining results. But each organ 
is serving an interest of its own. When it is 
serving the whole, it is in order that it may 
serve itself first. The next stage in our social 


evolution must be marked, not by the develop- 
ment of more special functions, but by the 
co-ordination of the functions which are 
already in existence. The life of the com- 
munity must take the place in economic, 
political and moral eflFort, that the interest 
of the classes now occupies. 


This is the biological view of the evolution 
of Society towards Socialism. The evolution 
is accompanied by an opposition of different 
interests proceeding pari passu with a more 
complete organisation. But the predominant 
or vital fact is not that conflict, but rather 
the steady subordination of all functional and 
sectional interests to the living needs of the 
whole community, and the certain predomin- 
ance of those which are carrying on what at 
any given time is the chief concern of Society. 
Each epoch has its own appropriate " histori- 
cal basis " and motive, determined not by the 
fact that the stages of social evolution are the 
creations of the desire of individuals to live 
or to possess, but by the organic evolution of 
the functions of Society. 

One conclusion from this view must be 
specially noticed. As each stage of enfran- 
chisement approaches, we find that, by the 
influence on the individual mind of the pre- 
paredness of Society for change, intellectual 


and moral movements arise in harmony with 
the impending change, and weaken the resis- 
tance of the doomed interests. A movement 
towards more effective organisation is of 
necessity preceded by more comprehensive 
views of social utility, and of moral right and 
wrong. Since, under democracy, the form of 
social organisation is directly dependent upon 
the community's need, we have an increasing 
security against cataclysmic change, and a 
greater guarantee against revolution. Con- 
tests between the organism and the function, 
— between Society and a class, — become at 
last gradual surrenders to which day and date 
can hardly be assigned. 


In this growth of organisation Society 
presents a special feature owing to the con- 
stant attempts made by individuals to secure 
for themselves certain advantages, economic 
and social, which can only belong to a few 
and which are enjoyed as a rule at the expense 
of Society as a whole, or of subordinate classes 
in Society. The opportunity which a small 
class has to put itself in the position of a 
parasite is very great owing to the fact that 
in social evolution certain functions become 
from time to time predominant. The organ 
— class or group of persons — which fulfils these 
functions, and the individual cells — persons — 
composing these organs, are held consequently 


in distinction and acquire interests which, 
when a further social change has ripened, are 
found to be opposed to that change, and to 
have centred round themselves a group of 
organic relationships which are but obstruct- 
ive growths in the social organism. Parasitism 
breeds parasitism. The predominant function, 
with its accessories, in every stage of social! 
growth attempts to retard social evolution 
beyond the circumstances which give it pre- 
dominance. It seeks to establish itself as d 
vital part of Society to injure which means 
death ; it creates a practice of morality 
which serves it as a foundation ; it constructs 
an economic system which suits its needs ; it 
establishes by its Acts of Parliament a legal 
system to preserve its own lordly place ; it 
inculcates a habit of mind in the other social 
functions which makes them unwilling to 
consider any other system of social relation- 
ship than the existing one. 

The place of monarchy in the politifcal 
evolution of the community may be cited in 
proof of this. When the time came for tribes 
to amalgamate into nations, it was necessary 
to devise some means by which national unity 
could express itself, and this could be done 
only by selecting a national head. Except for 
such a head, nations subject to the storm and 
stress of invasion and internal disruptive forces, 
could not have existed. But just in proportion 
to the stress of the national need for a king, 

the king was able to set aside every tradition 
and custom which limited his tenure of office. 
He was able to raise himself into a class of 
which he was the only member, to establish 
that class upon a basis of divine right, to sur- 
round it with bulwarks of dependent classes, to 
make its continued existence appear to be 
essential to the existence of the nation. To- 
day, long after the nations have organised 
themselves into unities which find expression 
more effectively through representative assem- 
blies and by temporary heads, monarchy 
survives deprived of its legal authority but 
supported by the parasitism of thought and 
interest which it has inherited from the time 
when it performed a necessary function in 

In the economic development of Society, 
the same law holds good. The territorial 
baron holding land in trust for the community 
and fulfilling that trust by maintaining on 
that land a body of yeomen whose arms were 
at the disposal of the community in case of 
need, expressed in the most effective way 
possible the necessity for the community being 
properly defended. The circumstance that this 
allowed private wars on the part of the barons 
and personal expeditions on the part of the 
king, was only incidental to the state of 
national organisation at the time. When, in 
due time, the industrial development of the 
country necessitated a more perfect national 


organisation than feudalism, the new functions 
of capital and commercialism found the old 
ones of the land — feudalism — the vital centres 
of laws and privileges which had to be abolish- 
ed altogether or shared with the new classes. 
Although feudalism is no longer of any con- 
sequence to national life, the habit of mind 
which it engendered and the social distinctions 
which it necessitated still influence us, and 
we tolerate the existence of a House of Lords, 
make barons and baronets of those who do 
party services, and imagine we are thus main- 
taining the existence of the good old British 

Thus we see that though the diseased func- 
tions atrophy, they retain a sort of parasitic 
life and maintain a ceremonial and social 
existence owing to the incapacity of the social 
organism to assimilate them completely. 
Intellectual and social parasitism is one of the 
most formidable barriers to progress. 


The economic period has its characteristic 
ethical and political aspects. Whilst it was 
unfolding, the idea of individual liberty was 
becoming clearer and was pulling at the 
pillars of Society with alarming violence. 
Slavery was being abolished, evangelicism was 
crowning the meanest being with divine re- 
sponsibility, and the "rights of man" was 
being proclaimed from the street corners by 
agitators, and preached from studies by 


philosophers. The feeling of subordination 
inseparable from the organisation of feudal 
times was wearing off, and the separate 
individual, crowned with his priceless rights 
as a human being, was moving with an 
aggressive stride on to the stage to play 
his part. 

On its moral side, the epoch is best dis- 
tinguished by the evangelical movement which 
swept aside all barriers between man and 
his creator, all intermediaries, all intercessors 
of flesh, and established, once and for all it is 
to be hoped, individual responsibility for 
voluntary sin. It made man regard himself 
as an independent unit in the eyes of God, 
directly responsible to God for thoughts, 
words and deeds. In reality, perhaps it only 
raised anew the problem of Free Will and 
failed to answer it, but to that answer it 
made an important preliminary contribution 
by placing the burden of moral responsibility 
on the shoulders of /, not on those of we. 

This is not its final resting place, for / and 
we will have to bear the burden between them, 
but individualist morals had to be established 
before social morals could be understood. 

The shortcoming of evangelicism as a source 
of moral guidance was twofold. First of all, 
whilst attempting to place the seat of moral 
authority in the conscience, it in reality placed 
it in tradition and dogma which depended upon 


"the will to believe " almost exclusively, and it 
hardly touched conduct — except self-regarding 
conduct — at all. As a consequence of this, 
evangelicism was compelled to dwell with 
practical exclusiveness upon that aspect of 
morality — so often merely formal — which 
deals with the relations between man and God, 
— other-worldliness — and neglect that which 
is concerned with the relations between man 
and man. It has failed to insist upon the 
application of those parts of the Gospel whioh 
impose secular duties upon the Christian or has 
treated them as being metaphorical and poetic. 
It has therefore done little directly to create the 
moral demand for a change in the social 
organism. The method and need of personal 
regeneration have bounded the vision of 

Its second shortcoming was its individualist 
standpoint and philosophy — necessary so, one 
has to admit. Not only were individualism and 
evangelicism contemporary in history but they 
were akin to each other in principle ; so much 
akin, in fact, that just as evangelicism failed 
to conceive of an organic church, so did it fail 
to conceive of an organic state. Evangelic- 
ism viewed the problem of state interference 
mainly from the point of view of ardent 
religionists opposed to a State Church and 
Arminianism. It thus started from a false 
conception of the proper relationship between 
the state and the individual. It assumed that 


any increase of state activity was detrimental 
to individual character, and it was therefore 
incapable of directing the large volume of 
moral effort which it undoubtedly created, 
especially amongst those in the humbler 
walks of life, into a pressure acting from with- 
in society tending to readjust social relation- 
ships so that social results might approximate 
more and more to the requirements of the 
moral individual. On the whole, it therefore 
contented itself by encouraging the moral 
individual whom it created to regard the 
moral world as something exterior to his 
every-day experience and to live the dual life 
of " other-worldliness." 

In these later days distinctions cannot be 
drawn quite so clearly as I have done in the 
above sentences, but we are passing out of 
evangelicism. The Free Churches are begin- 
ning to deal with the social problem which is 
facing them. Morality is separating itself from 
dogmas and is endeavouring to interpret 
and explain itself through life and life only. 
The existence of a communal moral personal- 
ity, a communal moral will, a communal moral 
conscience, is being made the reason for 
legislation. The moral movement which 
characterised evangelicism is floating into the 
mid stream of progress to play its part as an 
agency in the epoch of social construction 
upon which we are entering. 



The direct contribution made to political 
progress during this period has been the 
democratic reforms of Liberalism. Liberalism 
is not necessarily democratic, though under 
political conditions such as ours it can hardly 
help becoming so. In this country if it has 
not succeeded in establishing a pure democracy, 
it had gone far in that direction before 
paralysis overtook it. It had answered in 
practice by passing a series of acts ending 
with Household Masculine Suffrage, the 
philosophic problem : In whom does the 
sovereignty rest ? 

After the struggle for political liberty has 
ended or has spent itself, political interest 
tends to become concentrated on questions 
regarding the function of the State, and parties 
begin to range themselves, on the one hand, 
round the atomic individualists guided by 
some idea of individual right and regarding 
the State from the point of view of what is 
erroneously called individualism® ; and on 

* I desire to emphasise that individualism and socialism 
do not express two opposing tendencies. What is generally 
called individualism is only that kind of individualism which 
regards the State as though it were mechanically built up 
of atoms called persons — atomic individualism. Socialism 
is a theory of individualism in which the individual is 
regarded as being in organic relationship with his fellows 
in the community, and in which, consequently, the State, 
the community and the individual are seen to be pursuing 
the same ends. 

the Other, round the organic individualists who 
apjproach political and social problems froin 
the point of view of service and duty. The 
work of Liberalism has made the position of 
the atomic individualists quite untenable. 
For, the State, after a democratic suffrage has 
been established, is no longer an authority 
external to the individual ; a law is no longer 
a decree imposed upon the people by ah 
arbitrary will bending the common will 
according to its desires. The democratic Statie 
is an organisation of the people, democratic 
government is self-government, deniocratic 
law is an expression of the will of the people 
who have to obey the law — not perhaps thfe 
will of every individual, but the communal 
will, voicing the need of all classes in their 
relation to the community, and may fitly be 
regarded, in spite of the opposition of a min- 
ority, as teing "for the good of all concerned." 

Consequently to speak or think, after the 
Liberal epoch, of State action being " grand- 
motherly," a limitation upon liberty, a doing 
for the individual something which he should 
do for himself, is as meaningless as to talk of 
the Hanoverian principles of Liberalism and 
the Jacobite sympathies of Toryism. 

Whilst the antagonism of interests, classes 
and functions still exists, or its memory still 
lingers, and whilst such class legislation as is 
passed to-day perverts the popular mind arid 


colours its vision, some bitter experiences of 
democratically decreed legislation may have 
to be borne. An interest finding itself tem- 
porarily in a position which enables it to 
dictate its own terms may pass laws beneficial 
to itself and oppressive to the rest of the 
community, but just as competition in indus- 
try ever tends to exhaust itself and give way 
to co-operation, by a similar law democracy 
tends to legislate for the whole social organ- 
ism and not merely for one of its functions. 
Democratic law tends to become national law, 
because democracy in working tends to 
harmonise and co-ordinate the social functions. 
A democratic government expresses the will 
of the social organism, and when it directs 
the actions of the people it speaks to them in 
their own voice. 

This has been the chief contribution of 
Liberalism to the evolution of social functions 
and their organisation. 

The economic period is therefore closing. 
Politically, morally, economically, its fruit 
has ripened and is being gathered. It 
has handed down to us three great problems 
which have arisen owing to its success in 
having solved its own. What is the sphere 
of the State ? What is the relation between 
individual and social morality ? How can 
national productive resources and accumulated 

wealth be used so that they may contribute 
most to the welfare of the whole community? 
Up to this point has progress brought us. 
Upon the portals of Socialism these three 
problems are written. 

Chapter IV. 


Before the idea of biological evolution 
regulated the thought and methods of social 
reformers, proposals for social reconstruction 
took the form of creations of a new earth 
and new men, made by the fiat of someone 
whose authority was equal to the task. The 
man who judged social results by his ideas of 
right and wrong was driven to plant his 
ideal community, wherein dwelt righteous- 
ness, on some undiscovered island in some 
imknown sea ; and when, in times nearer to 
our own, the reformer did not merely write of 
Utopias, but tried to make them, he bought 
land in the hopes of founding a society 
modelled on a plan devised from his own 


The fundamental mistake of the Utopia 
builders was that they did not understand 
that Society develops in accordance with laws 
of social life, and that it could not be rebuilt 
right away like a house on plans designed by 
the moral consciousness and administrative 


aputeness of individuals. They did not see 
tJiat the reforming operations of the individual 
■will are limited by the fact that Society 
progresses by the readjustment of its existing 
organisation. They assumed that the social,, 
relations were casual, and that the group life 
offered the very slightest resistance to tota^ 
readjustment. They had not grasped the idea 
that Society at any given time had been 
moulded and fixed by the experiences of the 
social group up to that time, — that it had 
inherited its form from the past, and that 
therefore it could not be made the plaything 
of men's imagination. Society could no 
more return to primitive bliss than man could 
return to the arboreal habits of his ancestors. 
They hoped to build anew, when all they 
could do was to aid in modifying structures and 
in changing relationships. They approached 
their task as though they were men consider- 
ing whether a house is adapted to their needs, 
whilst, by the nature of the problem, they 
should have approached it as men who 
desire to restore to health their ailing 
bodie^. They regarded Society as though it 
vyere an architectural construction of fixed 
parts, not as an organism maturing by the 
laws of variation and growth. 

Sir Thomas More's Utopia and Robert 
Owen's experiments illustrate this error. 

More was an apostle of the liberal thought 


of his time, such as it was. Guided by the 
humanism of the New Learning, he cast his 
eyes over the state of England, when the 
evolution of national industry was destroying 
the peasantry. The English manor system 
was being transformed into private ownership 
of land inspired by commercial considerations. 
The stream from the country to the towns 
had started. The landlords, responding 
to the alluring temptations of commerce, 
were beginning to regard their lands not as 
the instrument of territorial power but as a 
source of income, and the demand for wool 
made them turn their tilled acres to grazing, 
and put sheep on the fields instead of men. 
Society was moving from the territorial and 
agricultural stage to that of world markets 
and commerce. Capital was concentrating 
and slowly organising itself into a function 
separate and apart from labour, and the guild 
ordinances which protected the older methods 
of trade were passing into impotence. The 
unemployed were everywhere ; social conflict 
was everywhere. Everywhere the rich seemed 
to be in conspiracy against the poor. In 
More's own words : " The rich are ever 
"striving to pare away something further 
" from the daily wages of the poor by private 
" fraud and even by public law, so that the 
"wrong already existing (for it is a wrong 
" that those from whom the State derives 
" most benefit should receive least reward) is 

" made much greater by means of the law of 
" the State." The poor, in consequence, were 
leading " a life so wretched that even a beast's 
" life seemed enviable." Everything, even 
Christendom itself, was powerless to avert all 
this wrong-doing, he moaned. 

This indictment is wonderfully modern, 
wonderfully like the last Socialist speech one 
has heard, wonderfully like the present-day 
expressions of reformers who try to view 
honestly the facts of life.* And yet More, the 
New Learning, Christendom, did little and 
could do little to avert or shorten the calami- 
ties. The iron law of social evolution grinds 
out its results with magnificent callousness. 

Why ? Why did More write as a modern ? 
Why did his criticisms fall like seed by the 

*Cf. for instance these sentences of John Stuart Mill : — 
" If, therefore, the choice were to be made between Com- 
munism with all its chances, and the present state of 
society with all its sufferings and injustices ; if the institu- 
tion of private property necessarily carried with it as a 
consequence that the produce of labour should be appor- 
tioned as we now see it, almost in an inverse ratio to the 
labour — the largest portions to those who have never 
worked at all, the next largest to those whose work is 
almost nominal, and so in a descending scale, the remun- 
eration dwindling as the work grows harder and more dis- 
agreeable, until the most fatiguing and exhausting bodily 
labour cannot count with certainty on being able to earn 
even the necessaries of life — if this or Communism were 
the alternative, all the difficulties great or small of Com- 
munism would be but as dust in the balance." — Political 
Economy, Book II., chap. i. 

wayside ? The position of Robert Owen may 
as well be examined before an answer is, 

Owen's Utopias were products of the Indus- 
trial Revolution. He lived in a system 
designed exclusively for the production of 
wealth, devouring both the physique and the 
character of children, men and women. Human 
beings were the raw material upon which the 
growing industry of his time fed. Revolting 
from the spectacle, Owen began to condemn 
it on account of its moral deficiencies, began 
to address protesting appeals to the public 
intelligence and the public conscience. At 
first, his schemes were aimed at modifying 
the structure of the social organism. He 
proposed! to limit by law the labour of child- 
ren, to provide them with a suitable educa- 
tion, to humanise the environment of the 
people and, by alluring them to walk in more 
pleasant ways, draw them away from the 
paths of destruction they were treading. His 
work of that time afterwards earned for him 
the title of " the father of factory legisla- 
tion " and " the founder of infant schools." 
There was, then, little Utopianism about his 
piroposals. They were the constructive schemes 
of a man of penetrating thought and ripe 
experience who attempted to modify social 
environment without creating an ideal Society 
from the material of his own intelligence ; 

and they remain his chief contribution to the 
social changes of last century. 

But as time went on, Owen felt more and' 
more the discouragement of the idealist who 
lives some generations before Society is in a 
position to listen whole-heartedly to him. 
Cobbett was unknown in 1800 when Owen 
took over New Lanark ; and Cobbett had to 
re-inaugurate the Radical demands for poli- 
tical enfranchisement, and the Cobbett cam- 
paign had to be carried on for two or three 
generations, before Owen's social ideas could 
be pushed to the forefront of public interests. 
When Owen started his first community (1823) 
capitalism was but beginning its triimiphs. 
The State had only just given up its attempts 
to fix wages, having been bafHed in its bene- 
volent intentions by the vigorous and extensive 
changes in industrial conditions which the 
new economic order was bringing about, 
Even in industries like the woollen, which 
had been controlled by capitalists for over 
two centuries, the employers were but moder- 
ately rich. The same was true of cotton.* 
The Peels were separated by but one genera- 
tion from their yeoman origin. In Scotland, 
the first cotton mill had been erected only 
twenty-two years before Owen acquired New 

* " The cotton industry had not in the ' fifties ' sufficiently 
developed for the notions current to-day to emerge." — 
Chapman, Lancashire Cotton Industry, p. 250. 


Lanark.* A subscription list opened in 
Liverpool in 1798 in aid of the funds required 
to carry on the war with France, contained 
only two amounts of ;£'5oo and one of ;^4O0, 
and these were the largest sums subscribed, t 
As late as 1841, according to the report of the 
Assistant Commissioner for Scotland, presented 
to the Committee appointed to enquire into 
the condition of the unemployed Handloom 
Weavers, out of 51,000 weavers south of the 
Firth of Clyde, not more than 3,500 were 
employed in factories,! whilst it was quite 
common until the middle of the nineteenth 
century for agriculture and weaving to be 
carried on by the same person.§ As late as 
1834, it was stated before the Committee on 
Handloom Weavers that "if a man can pur- 
" chase a winding machine and a warping 
" mill and get credit for a sleep of yarn he can 
"get into motion as a master." !| Power- 
looms had not seriously menaced handlooms, 

* Industries of Glasgow and the West of Scotland, British 
Association Handbook, Glasgow, 1901, p, 141. 

+ Baines' History of Liverpool, pp. 503-4. In 1801, 
;^8o,ooo was subscribed in three hours for building an 
Exchange with a Square in front (ibid, 506-7). Even that 
would not have been considered a great feat a generation 
afterwards, and the great fuss made about it is significant. 

X Quoted by Chapman in Lancashire Cotton Industry, 
Manchester, 1903, p. 24. 

§ Ibid, pp. 10, 1 1, etc. 

II Ibid, p. 25. 


and were so imperfect that their use was not 
clearly economical. Spinning machinery was 
equally imperfect. Great as had been the 
strides of invention, and though the " Indus- 
trial Revolution " had been accoriiplished, the 
industrial organisation of the country was 
still but rudimentary. The factory system, 
characterised by specialisation and sub-divi- 
sion of labour together with centralised town 
industry, was but beginning ; the meEins of 
transport and locomotion were nothing better 
than the new canal system, which had been 
the subject of such feverish speculation in 
1792, and the stage coach; international 
trade was insignificant. But the character- 
istics of the industrial epoch were developing. 
The economic and political conditions of 
feudalism were passing away. The national 
existence of the country had been finally 
secured, and its economic development deci- 
sively begun. The first stage of that develop- 
ment had to solve the problems of how to 
produce wealth and create markets and 
marketing facilities. Therefore, the form of 
the social organism had to respond to those 
needs of the social life, and all the organs and 
cells in Society had to be subordinated to the 
organisation best fitted for satisfying them. 

This subordination entailed suffering and 
misery. The towns became pestilential, 
children were done to death in the mills, 
pauperism increased, the people threw up to 


heaven angry protests, Utopias were built 
from the mental stuff of the just and the 
generous, Owen agitated. But protest as the 
organs and the cells might. Society continued 
to organise itself so that it could produce 
wealth abundantly ; and all the fine ideas 
that were scattered abroad made no difference 
except in so far as they could modify the 
social structure within the limits of the econ- 
omic function imposed upon it by the charac- 
ter of the social need which had in due course 
arisen as an expression of the developing 
social life. 

Processes of readjustment and experiments 
in amelioration were begxm early. It was 
found by experience, for instance, that, in 
spite of the opposition of the capitalists, who 
were chiefly fulfilling the social functions of 
the epoch (labour, however necessary, being 
functionally subordinate), certain limita- 
tions imposed by Factory Legislation did not 
retard the development of the Factory System 
as the most efficient method of wealth pro- 
duction, but in reality aided it. We must 
not therefore commit the error of assuming 
that Factory Legislation is in principle 
opposed to the spirit embodied in the Factory 
System. Factory legislation, so long as its 
effect is tested by its compatibility with the 
efficiency of private capitalism to produce 
wealth and exploit labour, is an essential part 

of the capitalist system. It is an essein'tial 
influe'nce upon the social organism at a time 
When the form of the organism is determined 
solely by its efficiency in piroducing wealth. 
Hence it was that Owen's proposals for the 
state regulatioh of factories were efEective, 
and fructified in society, whilst his Utopian 
experiments were valuable mainly as warnings 
to future reformers. This was not because the 
legislative proposals were moral or right in 
the abstract, but because society was ripe for 
them ; they were " natural " in the sense that 
they were produced by the circumstances of 
the time, and advantageous to the vital pur- 
pose of the generation. And, above all, they 
were modifications of the social structure. 

This contention is strongly reinforced 
if we consider what at first seems to militate 
against it, the development of Co-operation 
from Owen's Utopian schemes. Co-opera- 
tion in Owen's mind was as much a 
tour de force as his New Harmony. It 
was a new organisation of society bringing 
the workers into a new relation with each 
other and altering fundamentally the condi- 
tions under which production and exchange 
were carried on. Logically it was an excellent 
idea. If it were possible for the individual — 
the cell — to create at any time a new social 
organisation, Owen's scheme of integral co- 
operation might have worked. But the indi- 

vidual lives in an organism — Society, — his 
will expresses itself in accordance with the 
life of the organism, his morality is able to 
act effectively only in so far as it can modify 
the social organism and is guided by the vital 
activity of the organism, and his confidence 
is given only to systems similar to, or but an 
easy stage removed from, the organism of 
which he is a part. Therefore, when Owen's 
idea of co-operation was adopted, its Utopian 
characteristics were gradually dropped, and, 
as its success became possible, the features it 
held in common with existing society became 
more marked. 

When the Rochdale Pioneers began their 
experiment in 1844, the Utopian features of 
Owenite Co-operation were becoming subor- 
dinate. True, the Pioneers threw out fore- 
shadowings of a new earth. The unemployed 
were to be absorbed, and an identity of interest 
between producer and consumer was to be 
established — in the long run. But the organi- 
sation of the movement was modelled on the 
organisation of existing society. The rest 
was ornament, and that ornament has had 
but the slightest influence in the development 
of the experiment. 

There was an opposition in Society between 
the functions of production and exchange, 
between the wage-earner and the person who 
sold him his food and clothing ; and the latter 
was drifting more and more completely under 


the control of the capitalist employers. The 
question was : Could that tendency be stopped 
without hindering the efficiency of the social 
organism to produce wealth, and without 
having to create an organisation difEerent in 
form and idea to society as it existed ? Ob- 
viously, dear and adulterated food, the credit 
system, an alliance between shopkeepers and 
employers were not only not essential, but 
might be harmful, to the efficient production 
of wealth, and the idea of the workmen 
being their own shopkeepers militated against 
no principle upon which production depended, 
So these things were alterable. But the 
private ownership of capital, capitalist control 
of the workshop, and competition in produc- 
tion, together with the existence of the xm- 
employed, were essential to the epoch of 
production, and these could not be altered. 

The question upon which the success of the 
Rochdale experiment depended was : Was 
there a sufficiently strong sense of solidarity 
amongst the workers to secure for the stores 
such a determined patronage as to protect 
them against outside competition ? As it 
turned out, there was. The Co-operative 
Store was patronised, not because it was more 
efficient or cheaper than the shop of the 
private trader, but because it was the Co- 
operative Store. The movement, in the main, 
did nothing to alter the organisation of 


society.* Some of the leaders of the move- 
ment, inspired by an antiquated conception 
of what they call " self-help," and masses of 
its ordinary members whose visions are nar- 
rowed by dividends and who regard Co- 
operation as being merely a venture in profit- 
able shopkeeping, have actually turned the 
movement into a defence of the present 
industrial system, on the ground that if 
distribution to-day is faulty, the reason lies in 
the defects of human character and not in 
social organisation. 

One ought not to blame the Co-operative 
movement for " falling away from the faith : " 
one ought not to call its shortcomings failings. 
The line of development which the movement 
took only illustrates in a very conclusive way 
how the chief furiction which an epoch is 
called upon to perform, postpones the success- 
ful application of moral notions of social 
relationships, until the circumstances arise for 
such a change as will allow them to be 
grafted upon the social stem. That the 
Co-operative Congress should be the last 
resting place of the inadequate theories of the 
economic period is exactly what one would 

* Society is now, however, becoming fitted for an appli- 
cation of principles which underlie the Co-operative move- 
ment, and so co-operation, so far as it is intelligently 
kware of its own interests, is beginning to move in the 
direction of constructive State action, and Society is 
responding to the co-operative impulse. 


expect. The law of parasitism described 
elsewhere "'■■■ provides that in movements like 
Co-operation, the theories and assumptions 
held by the generation which made it a success 
should become embodied in the tissue of the 
movement, and resist change long after less 
well organised movements have responded to 
new ideas. 

Now we can see why Utopias of all ages 
reveal as their foundations practically the 
same clearness and firmness of moral vision. 
They all assert the right of man to life and to 
human consideration against the operations 
of social evolution which every now and 
again, owing to functional changes, sacrifice 
the personal interests of individuals and sec- 
tions of individuals. They all demand moral 
results from Society. Men, thinking and 
writing at those times of rapid change, make 
claims and utter criticisms from an ideally 
moral point of view. Hence, at every time 
of social change and of activity in social 
speculation, men dead for centuries are 
described as being " modern men." 

The moral standards of the builders of 
Utopias are the result of the experience of 
well co-ordinated organisms, such as man is. 
But the organisation of society has been loose 
and partial, its will has been weak, its function- 
ing imperfect, its morality, therefore, rudimen- 

*pp. 63-66. 



tary. The individual is therefore in moral 
possibilities far in advance of Society. Society, 
slowly and by organic adaptation, becomes 
more and more capable of expressing the 
moral consciousness of man, its lack of or- 
ganic coherence resulting in a lack of moral 
impulse. So, before the co-operative move- 
ment could " go back " to Owenism, it had to 
wait for a more complete sub-division of the 
various functions of the workman, a more 
thorough application of mechanical contri- 
vances to production, and also for the co- 
ordinating movement which proceeds along- 
side the disintegrating one, and which forms 
into a new social unity of functions the 
various divided classes which are rendering 
service to the whole. 

But before this advance in social organisa- 
tion has been reached, sociology has passed 
from its architectural or mechanical stage to 
its organic stage, and men have left behind 
the standpoint from which it appeared to be 
possible to build a New Jerusalem by Utopian 
methods. Reforming effort is seen to be im- 
potent unless it effects variations in the social 
structure, because it is seen that the defect 
giving rise to all the miseries which set 
Utopists dreaming, is, that every function in 
society has not been completely organised so 
that each co-operates with each and all with 
the whole. 
Moral criticisms on social organisation are 


useful only in so far as the critics bear in 
mind that the organisation hitherto has been 
necessarily unable to respond to them, and 
that the chief concern of moralists should be 
to improve the organisation of Society so as 
to make every function contribute to and 
share in the benefits of the whole organic life. 
This is the aim of Socialism. 


An accurate view of the meaning and the 
method of social progress could not precede 
the success of biology in explaining the mean- 
ing and method of organic evolution. But 
biological science is not much more than a 
century old, and for fully half its lifetime it has 
had to grope its way through tangled masses 
of ignorance and prejudice. Being the study 
of change in the organs and forms of life, 
biology had to remain dwarfed, whilst the 
miraculous views of creation, in accordance 
with which the world was supposed to be but 
in its youth, man almost as old as it, species 
the work of the hand of God, prevailed, 

The first movement towards the final success 
of bold enquiry and speculation came from 
the geologists towards the end of the 
eighteenth century, and within fifty years this 
new science had thrown into the dusty lumber 
room of ancient beliefs the literal interpreta- 
tion of the Biblical narrative of creation and 
everything it implies. The geological attack 


proceeded shoulder to shoulder with specula- 
tions regarding the origin of the species, and 
these cut even more deeply at the roots of 
cosmological views. Erasmus Darwin in 
1794, and Lamarck from 1801, challenged the 
assumption that species were fixed, argued 
that difEerences of function altered organisms, 
and regarded these alterations as the cause of 
organic variation. From 1806 researches in 
embryology discovered the remarkable fact 
that in his embryonic history man goes 
through stages of life which are a summary 
of his species evolution from the protoplasmic 
cell to the human being. Science was occupy- 
ing every position, and when in 1858 Darwin's 
Otigin of Species appeared, the revolution was 
complete. There were still gaps in the evi- 
dence, there was still a possibility of alternative 
explanations, but evolution, the dynamic of 
life, was carried in triumph into the company 
of accepted beliefs. 


The philosophers, however, since philosophy 
was, had been exploring this same problem of 
evolutionary processes in its world significance. 
In the seventeenth century, that part of those 
processes which is concerned with man in 
community, began to receive special attention. 
In the eighteenth century, national circum- 
stances gave these speculations a political 
character. A contest was raging throughout 

Europe between the people and their rulers. 
The people were asserting their rights to 
political freedom, and such an agitation 
necessarily brought into prominence the 
separate individual endowed with natural 
rights. The view of Society which gave most 
sympathetic countenance to these demands 
was that of a collection of individuals 
bound together by some mythical social con- 
tract. Only from some such assumption could 
the advocates of political natural rights find 
historical roots for their agitation. The 
questions which were studied in an evolution- 
ary frame of mind were, by political necessity, 
not the forms of social organisation itself, but 
the changes which had taken place in the 
political relationships between the parties to 
the contract, as, for instance, the growth of 
the kingly power, the deterioration of the 
status of the people in the government, the 
constitution of representative assemblies, the 
character of parliaments Thus, social science 
and philosophy were, for the time being, pushed 
aside to await the closing of this individual- 
istic chapter in politics, and the liberating 
effect of science upon thought in general. 

In Germany, however, the political problems 
which influenced intellectual speculation upon 
the nature of the social unity were different 
from those of France and England. In the 
German's heart the idea of a national unity 


lay directing his thoughts to the life of 
communities as well as to the liberty of 
individuals. Thus, Herder stated (1767) that 
" there is the same law of change in all man- 
"kind and in every individual nation and 
"tribe," and later on (i784-i79i)he developed 
the idea that each nationality " lived out its 
"own spirit." Kant followed and amplified the 
same idea, and Fichte, smarting as a Nation- 
alist under the heel of Napoleon, and employ- 
ing his intellect to awaken Germany to a 
sense of national pride, proclaimed that the 
perfect individual life could only be found im- 
mersed in the common life. Hegel developed 
the idea. To him all things and all processes 
were but the manifestation of Spirit or Idea, 
which evolved itself by a peculiar method. 
The acorn becomes the oak through self- 
destruction : the animal continues to live 
only so long as the tissues which com- 
pose it continue to be destroyed : death is 
life : life is death. Hence, the universe exists 
by a constant change in its elements. But 
what is the nature of this change ? Not, says 
Hegel, a change of growth in the things them- 
selves, not a natural succession of one condition 
from another as youth insensibly matures to 
manhood. The change is really in the Idea, 
of which the changing phenomena are the 
manifestations.* This, which has been called 
one of Hegel's " most unfortunate blunders," 

Encyclopddie, § 249. 


IS the error of the metaphysician, of the 
logician, untrained in the methods of science. 
It is naturally followed by a pronouncement 
that the issue of the more highly developed 
organisms from the lower is " a nebulous idea 
which thinking men of speculation must re- 
nounce." Hegel's philosophical conception of 
evolution included aj defence of fixed species, 
and was being shattered by science at the 
time it was absorbing the attention of meta- 

Its interest to us is that, modified and 
applied to history, it was made the basis of 
the first grand attempt to give scientific pre- 
cision to the Socialist idea by Karl Marx. 

Marx was born in 1818, and attended the 
universities of Bonn and Berlin at a time when 
the chairs of philosophy were held by Hegel- 
ians, and when Hegelianism was unchallenged 
in its sway over German thought. He re- 
sponded to the Liberal spirit of hope which the 
accession of Frederick William IV. to the 
Prussian throne in 1840 quickened in Prussia, 
and threw himself into politics and journal- 
ism. These pursuits required some knowledge 
of economics ; and a study of the French 
economists, and of Proudhon in particular, 
directed him towards Socialism. In 1 844, he 
met Engels in Paris, and from that time on- 
wards he was engaged in completing the 

fabric of his Socialist theories and in creating 
the organisations which were to give them 
practical efiect. 

When Marx became a Socialist, he entered 
a movement distracted by many leaders each 
with difEerent views, and ineffective by reason 
of loose organisation. No strong penetrating 
mind had welded the dreamers into a united 
and aggressive organisation or blended their 
dreams into a comprehensive social faith. 

In France, where Marx then was, several 
schools of Socialist thought and propaganda 
flourished, each bearing the name of one or 
other of the distinguished Frenchmen who 
paved the way for the modern movement. 

First amongst these was Saint Simon, whose 
views, indicated by his last work Nouveau 
Christianismc , sought the establishment of a 
moral order of international peace and co- 
operative industry, and gave birth to a move- 
ment which hoped to bring about the reign of 
fraternity by destroying all the privileges of 
birth, of which inheritance of property was 
considered to be the chief — "the effect of 
which is to leave to chance the apportionmeni 
of social advantages and condemn the largest 
class in number to vice, ignorance and poverty' 
— and by bringing into "one social fund" all 
the instruments of production and regulating 
their use by a hierarchy who should apportion 

work according to a man's capacity and 
assign wealth to him according to his work.* 

Then came Fourier, the fantastical specula- 
tor upon the wonderful cycles of our Earth's 
evolution and the architect of the Phalanstery 
where men, working in groups according as 
desire prompted them and sharing by certain 
rules in the wealth produced, would be led by 
their circumstances to live harmonious lives. 

Louis Blanc was the first of those pre- 
scientific Socialists to hold that if the basis of 
Socialism was moral, its method, nevertheless, 
should be political. He gave up the editor- 
ship of a newspaper because his proprietors 
objected to his opinions in favour of railway 
nationalisation. But he had not discovered 
that an idea which is not supported by an 
organisation of electors is politically impo- 
tent ; and his belief that a member of a 
ministry could, all by himself, effect radical 
social change by persuasion or permeation, 
tended to misdirect the energies of his fol- 
lowers from building up an independent 
organisation to taking part as an unorganised 
party in current political issues. Round him 
centred the demand for national workshops 
by which alone the characteristic tenet of his 

® Letter addres.sed by the Saint Simonians to the Presi- 
dent of the Chamber of Deputies, quoted in Palgrave's 
Dictionary of Political Economy, London, 1904, iii., p. 346. 


creed, the right to work, could be maintained, 
and the absorption of the means of production 
by the community be effected gradually and 
with certainty.® 

But it was Proudhon who was in the ascen- 
dant when Marx sought refuge and oppor- 
tunity for study in Paris ; and he stood on the 
border line between Socialism and Anarchism. 

Finally, in intimate touch with the Socialist 
movement proper were groups of revolutionary 
and reformist parties aiming at social re- 
construction — from Blanquists to Comtists. 

Here then was a floating mass of human- 
itarian feeling, of Utopian dreaming, of 
fanciful speculation and of sound economic 
criticism having in common a condemnation 
of the existing industrial system on the 

® Perhaps no social experiment has been more mis- 
understood and misrepresented than the Paris National 
Workshops of 1848. I.ouis Blanc, who is supposed to be 
their originator, wrote of them :— " As the kind of labour 
in these workshops was utterlj' unproductive and absurd, 
besides being such as the greater part of them were un- 
accustomed to, the action of the State was simply squan- 
dering the public funds ; its money, a premium upon 
idleness ; its wages, alms in disguise." After describing 
the sort of workshops he wanted to establish, he pro- 
ceeded : " The National Workshops as managed by M. 
Marie were nothing more than a rabble of paupers." 
Then he goes on to show " that these workshops were 
organised in hostility to me, as the official representative 
of Socialism, " ', 1848 Historical Revelations, 
London, 1848, chap. ix. 

ground that it failed to feed, clothe and pro- 
tect the producer of wealth, and also a belief 
that only by the organised people controlling 
the instruments of production could labour 
secure its due reward and the workman be 
able to command the comforts which he had 

But this mass of dreaming and discontent 
could have no great social value until it was 
pruned of the offshoots which were dissipating 
its vitality, until it was taught its own real 
meaning, until a definite statement of what 
was floating vaguely in its mind had been 
made, until its feelings were translated into a 
dogma, until its genesis was discovered. To 
do this was Marx's task. His Hegelian out- 
look presented to him a clear-cut view of the 
process of progress, and showed him the 
historical place of the whole movement ; and 
he chose words to express its meaning design- 
ed to draw together the floating elements of 
the Socialism of his time by giving simple and 
clear definitions of the Socialist purpose, and 
by sifting out from the movement every 
vestige of vagueness and Utopianism and every 
trace of bourgeois Socialism which would not 
assimilate with the economic basis of history, 
surplus value and the class war. 

The Communist manifesto was the first 
result. Issued when France was on the point 
of bursting out into revolution in 1848, the 


proletarian defeat in " the first great battle 
between Proletarian and Bourgeoisie,"* stifled 
for a time the movement of which the mani- 
festo was the mouthpiece, but it was called 
upon sixteen years later to perform almost 
the same service as Marx originally designed 
for it, when the proletarian movement, 
divided into " the English Trades' Unions, the 
followers of Proudhon in France, Belgium, 
Italy and Spain, and the Lasalleans in Ger- 
many,"! had to be brought together and its 
aspirations expressed in a common set of 

Marx rejected the Utopian constructive 
proposals of his time, and fixed his attention 
on the evolution of Society. He turned away 
from the creation of Phalansteries, and sought 
to change the social fabric. He also brushed 
aside, as being of secondary importance in 
social change, in his day at any rate, moral 
notions of right and wrong. The broad out- 
lines of the Socialist state were laid down by 
him, the passing character of existing social 
conditions was emphasised by him, the demo- 
cratic control of capital was established for 
ever by him as the distinguishing mark of 
Socialist opinion. But his conception of the 
method of social change misled him as to how 
the socialist forces were to act. Darwin had 

■* Engel's introduction to Communist Manifesto, Lon- 
don, 1888, p. 3. 
+ Ibid, p. 4. 


to contribute the work of his life to human 
knowledge before Socialism could be placed 
on a definitely scientific foundation.* 

The influence of Darwinianism upon Social- 
ism does not depend upon whether Darwin's 
special theories of evolution do or do not lead 
to Socialism. Virchow has said they do ; 
Haeckel has said they do not ; and the con- 
Ixoversy will not be settled until the evolution 
of the state and Society deprives it of reality. 
Socialism as a conception of a desirable 
organisation of Society is an idea which 
scientific investigations have illuminated and 
aided, but not created. The plan upon which 
the reconstruction was to be made, the justifi- 
cation offered for it, the way to attain to it, 
have depended very largely upon the state of 
scientific knowledge, and particularly upon 
the nature of the science which happened to be 
predominant — e.g., mathematical, chemical, 
biological, or psychological. What Darwin, 
then, did, was not to lay down biological 
laws which, to use Virchow's expression, 
" lead directly to Socialism," but to present a 
view of biological evolution which fundamen- 
tally affected our view of social evolution, 
and which, in consequence, indicated to us 
a more commanding standpoint from which 

*This subject is discussed in the first volume of this 
Library, Socialism and Positive Science, by Enrico Ferri, 
London, 1905, 


to judge our Socialist proposals, a more accu- 
rate way for carrying them into effect, and a 
more scientific phraseology in which to ex- 
press them. Darwinism applied to sociology 
is as far in advance of Hegelianism as Hege- 
lianism was in advance of Kantian individual- 
ism. Marxianism, however, is a product of 
German thought during the second and third 
decades of the nineteenth century. It reflects 
the method of that thought ; it reveals the 
imperfections of that thought.* " Scientific 
socialism, once for all," wrote Engels, " is an 
essentially German product." 

Marx rejected Hegel's Idealism, but he re- 
tained the Hegelian notion of how the Idea 
evolved itself. Hegel's great contribution to 
thought was that he once more brought us 
back to consider all being as in reality a 
becoming. The metaphysician is ever prone 
to lose himself in a maze of unreal oppositions 
and contradictions because he microscopically 
examines phenomena at a given moment, and 
refuses to consider their growth, their poten- 
tialities, their origin. Thus is created an 
unreal world of problems, absolutely insoluble 
because they are not part of the world at all. 

* Cf. Engels. " Readers will be surprised to stumble 
on the cosmogony of Kant and Laplace, on Darwin and 
modern physics, on Hegel and Classical German philo- 
sophy in a sketch of the growth of Socialism." Intro- 
duction to Socialism : Utopian and Scientific, dated 1882. 
One is surprised to find Darwin, but not the others. 


But so soon as we regard phenomena in their 
movements, in their evolution, in their poten- 
tialities, \ve are dealing with realities and not 
abstractions. Hegel brought us back to those 

Hegel's idea of growth, however, was mis- 
taken. It is contained in the oft-used expression 
" the negation of negation." A process starts 
by a certain condition — e.g., the individualised 
production of primitive times ; it then develops 
an opposite condition — e.g., the communal 
production of to-day, organised, however, for 
private profit ; it finally reaches equilibrium, 
and spends itself in a third condition which 
harmonises in itself the two opposites of the 
previous conditions — e.g., the coming Socialist 
State, which will combine communal produc- 
■tion and individual advantage through col- 
lectivist organisation. 

Marx and Engels seized upon the common 
radical view of the eighteenth century — the 
view which lay at the root of Saint Simonian 
politics — the class struggle, fructified it by 
bringing it in contact with the Hegelian 
dialectic and by substituting economic class 
motives for idealism as the moving power, and 
constructed, by a remarkable effort, both a 
philosophy of history and a political method. 
Change presented itself to Marx not as a 
process of functional adaptation, but as a 
result of conflicting economic interests seeking 
equilibrium. Hence, to this day, the meta- 


physical and logical faults of the Hegelian 
dialectic are vitiating the theories and dogmas 
of one Socialist School — the Marxian. 

The Hegelian dialectic is unfitted to describe 
biological evolution. It describes superficial 
appearances rather than explains deep seated 
causes '■•■ It would, for instance, explain what 
goes on in the hedgerows in Spring as an 
opposition between the bud and the envelop- 
ing sheath : it would be blind to the great 
stirring up of life from deepest root to highest 
branch tip, of which the opposition between 
bud and sheath is but a small — if dramatic 
and easily seen — incident. For this reason, 
it cannot be dissociated from the idea of 
catastrophe and revolution, of accumulated 
energy bursting through opposition, of a 
simplicity of opposing forces which is never 
found in the actual world. 

Marx himself, in his preface to the second 
edition of Capital,^ illustrates this in the 
words he has chosen to express his indebted- 
ness to Hegel. The rational Hegelian dialec- 
tic, he says, " is a scandal and an abomination 
" to bourgeolsdom and its doctrinaire profes- 
" sors, because it includes in its comprehension 
" an affirmative recognition of the existing 
" state of things, at the same time also the 
" recognition of the negation of that state, of 

*This is particularly true when it is used apart from 
Idealism, as Marx and Engels used it. 
tDated " London, January24, 1873. 


" its inevitable breaking up ; because it 
"regards every historically developed social 
" form as in fluid movement, and therefore 
" takes into account its transient nature not 
" less than its momentary existence ; because 
" it lets nothing impose upon it and is in its 
" essence critical and revolutionary." 

One holding modem biological views would 
have expressed himself difEerently. Biologi- 
cally, " the negation of the existing state of 
things," its " inevitable breaking up," " its 
momentary existence," is impossible. Here 
we find, as we find everywhere in the Marxian 
method, a lack of a real guarantee (although 
there are many verbal guarantees) that change 
is progress. The biological view emphasises 
the possibilities of existing society as the 
mother of future societies, and regards idea 
and circumstance as the pair from which the 
new societies are to spring. It gives not only 
an explanation of the existing state of things, 
but of its death — but certainly not its nega- 
tion — in giving birth to a future state of 
things. It also views every form of existence 
in its actual process of movement and there- 
fore on its perishing — very different from 
" perishable '' — side. It lays the very slightest 
emphasis on its " critical and revolutionary " 
side, because it is mainly constructive, and 
the idea of "clearing before building" is 
alien to its nature. Street improvements are 
not biological processes. 


There is a very great difference between 
the constructive dynamic, the perfecting or- 
ganisation, the more coherent co-operation of 
the organs of society, which is the biological 
view, and the logical movements, the super- 
ficial oppositions, the cataclysmic changfes 
which social progress appears to be when 
seen through the contorting spectacles of the 
Hegelian dialectic. The phenomena which 
need studying in a biological frame of mind, 
are the growing strength of the life-currents 
in Society, their deflections owing to their 
strength, and the modifications in functions 
and organisms which are necessitated in con- 
sequence. In short, the biologist as social 
reformer deals with social life as a whole, 
studies its evolution as a whole, and in terms 
of the underlying whole regards the surface 
things which his eyes see and his ears hear — 
the oppositions of classes, the brooding revo- 
lutions, the perishing social tissues, the " ne- 
gations " of what exists. 

Biology alone was competent to give the 
clue to the proper imderstanding of the pro- 
cess of evolution, because it was the science 
which dealt with the modes of change followed 
by organisms, and biology was as yet but 
stuttering its wonderful tale. Biology alone 
deals with the processes of vital change, the 
growth of the unlike from the like, the appear- 
ance of new qualities and characteristics, the 
gradual absorption and modification of parts. 

the development of new organs to fulfil new 
functions and respond to new circumstances. 
Taking on the one hand, the well-marked 
forms of new species, and, on the other, the 
forms of old species, biology had to study the 
growth of the first from the second, and from 
the very nature of its subject matter it had to 
reiject explanations which assumed revolution- 
ary changes or special creative fiats""" ; and it 
held it to be axiomatic that whatever change 
it was studying issued from the total life of 
the organism and expressed the needs of that 
total life. If, for instance, it is a stomach 
that is being modified, the modification is 
owing to a change of food which nature has 
imposed upon the organism, or to the re- 
adjustment of the organs and functions of the 
organism. But Hegel was no biologist, and 
Hegel, not Darwin, was intellectual father to 

* Dr. Bastian, Professor Hugo De Vries, Mr. Bateson, 
and others ,have pointed to certain facts and experiments 
which appear to show that organic transformation takes 
place rapidly or by leaps. Recently, this view has been 
brought before us particularly in De Vries's book on 
" Species and Vaiieiies : Their Origin and Mutation." If 
this view should succeed in receiving the support of 
investigators it will still only partly explain the origin 
and variation of species and would be very far from 
affording a biological analogy to the revolutionary con- 
ceptions of the Communist Manifesto and parts of Capital. 
It would go no further than emphasising the method of 
epochal political progress by the formation of indepen- 
dent political parties which I discuss in Chapter vi. 


Therefore it is that the expressions " revolu- 
tion" and "revolutionary," which are so 
frequently met with in the writings and 
speeches of Marxians to-day, and upon which 
they insist as a mark distinguishing them 
from mere reformers, do not only indicate, as 
is sometimes supposed, and as Social Demo- 
crats when hard pushed try to make us believe, 
that emphasis must be placed upon funda- 
mental change so as to make it clear that 
Socialism is not merely a proposal for 
engrafting upon existing Society reformist 
shoots.* The words mean more than that. 
They indicate what Marx borrowed from 
Hegel. From his master in philosophy he 
acquired the habit of regarding social pro- 
gress as moving from one epochal character- 
istic to its opposite over an intervening short 
revolutionary period. His mind dwelt on a 
" periodic cycle, through which modern in- 
" dustry runs, and whose crowning point is 
" the universal crisis."t He never fully 
recognised the character of those intervening 

* Cf. Ferri's definition of revolution : — " The critical 
and decisive moment, more or less prolonged, of an 
evolution which has reached its climax." What this means 
exactly is not very clear, and the biological examples 
which might be produced to throw light upon it cannot 
be used as sociological analogies. The critical stages 
through which a butterfly evolves, for instance, are the 
reminiscences of a racial past summarised in each indi- 
vidual ; but there is no analogy for that In Society. 

t Capital I., xxxi. London, 1896. 


stages. To the biologist the old disappears 
by renewing itself, and whilst the transforma- 
tion is taking place there is perhaps a rest, an 
apparent reaction, but no revolutionary chaos, 
nothing " short and sharp." But to Marx all 
that was meaningless. It was a view which 
was reactionary. Revolution was to him a 
real social fact when the old idea, crumbling 
by reason of its age, was being swept away 
by its own antithesis. Our own epoch of 
production, amongst others, was to pass when* 
"the integument [of capitalism] is burst 
"asunder. The knell of capitalist private 
"property sounds. The expropriators are 
" expropriated." 

And again, " Communists disdain to con- 
" ceal their vows and their purposes. They 
" openly declare that their ends can only be 
"attained by the forcible destruction of all 
" existing social order."t 

These sentences are typical of the deficiency 
of a sense of continuity which one finds in 
Marxian methods. The condition of England 
when Marx knew it (1840-1870) supported him 
in his error. Economic considerations as the 
spring of conduct were preached from the 
most respectable housetops, and the state of 
society, absorbed as it was in production, and 
hopelessly confused when higher and more 
permanent ends were thrust upon it, gave 

® Capital i., 789. 

■(• Communist Manifesto, p. 31. 


?imple justification for the most material|stic 
conception of the economic basis of history, 
class war and revolutionary methods. The 
couijtry seemed to be flushed with incipient 
jrevolution. The " antithetical " stage of pro- 
duction was at its height. The truth of th? 
Hegelian "movement" of three stages ap- 
peared to be about to show itself amidst thQ 
glow of flames ^nd clouds of dust. Engels 
wrote his l^orking Classes m England in 
1844. as a last chapter in the history of tlie 
pre-Socialist state. "The England of 1840- 
" 1870 has therefore become to the Social 
" Democrats what the Land of Canaan was to 
" the Covenanters— the land from which all 
" illustrations are drawn, on which all theories 
" of what is and what ought to be are based."* 
But the England of 1844 did not break jout 
into revplt ; Chartism did not develop into 
Socialism. The logical conclusion was not 
the line of advance. The class war created 
trade unionism ; the working classes became 
citizens ; law, morality, the force of com- 
bination lifted to some extent the pall of 
darkness which hung over the land. The 
Marxian to-day still wonders why England 
fell from grace. England did not fall from 
grace. Neither Marx nor Engels saw deep 
enough to discover the possibilities of peaceful 

* Hon. Bertrand Russell ; German Social Democracy, 
London, 1896, p. 9. 


advance which lay hidden beneath the sur- 
face. Their analogies misled them. 

Only when we understand the mind and the 
historical circumstances of Marx can we under- 
stand the phrases and key words that pass as 
current coin amongst Marxians all the world 
over. His philosophy belonged to an old 
generation ; his logical view of the state was 
unreal ; the words which he used, together 
with the conceptions which they expressed so 
accurately, are inadequate in relation to 
modern thought, and misleading for practical 
conduct ; in short, whilst fully accepting the 
coUectivist and Socialist conclusions of 
Marx, we must explain and defend them with 
a different conception of Society in our minds, 
different formulae on our lips, and different 
guiding ideas for our activities. 

The place which Marx occupies is on the 
threshold of scientific sociology, but not 
altogether over it. 

Chapter V. 


What, then, are the forces in present-day 
Society which Socialists should regard as 
making for Socialism ? 

The Marxian answer is that a war of classes 
is going on which one's eyes can see and one's 
ears hear. On the one hand is the exploiter, 
the person who accumulates surplus value, on 
the other, the exploited, the person who sells 
his labour power for a price which tends to 
sink to a bare subsistence level.* The 
opposition between those two classes grows 
in intensity. It will continue to grow until 
the workers become class conscious, seize 
political power, and establish the Socialist 
state. In the words of the Communist Mam- 

■* " The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself 
to membership in the commune, just as the petty bour- 
geois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to 
develop into a bourgeois. The modem labourer, on the 
contrary, instead of rising with the progress of industry, 
sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence 
of his own class." — Communist Manifesto, pp. 15-16. 


festo : "The proletariat will use its political 
" supremacy to wrest by degrees all capital 
" from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all in- 
" struments of production in the hands of the 
" state, I.e., of the proletariat organised as the 
" ruling class."* 

Such a view is both inaccurate as to facts 
and misleading as a guide for action. 

In the first place, it is not true that there 
are only two great economic classes in the 
community.f Marx was so anxious to sepa- 
rate himself from "bourgeoisie" economists 
that he determined on no account to recognise 
the conflicting interests of the receivers of 
rent and of profits.^ Some of his followers 
without allowing for the admission in their 
systems, concede the antagonism, as for in- 
stances when Mr. Hyndman describes the 
trinity of labourers, farmers and landlords as 
being "as compact a little set of antagonisms 
" as any in our society, "§ and later on when he 
states that "the only results of the confiscation 
"of competitive rents or royalties by the 
" State . . . would ... be the strengthening 
" of the hands of the capitalist class." || This 

* p. 21. 

t The Communist Manifesto, even in its day, admitted 
as much, but made no place for the fact in its theories. 
} Rodbertus made the same mistake. 
§ Economics of Socialism, London, 1896, p. 194. 
I) P- 209. 


is true only on condition that there is an 
economic antagonism between landlords and 
capitalists as well as between capitalists and 
workmen, and that the " class war " is carried 
on not between two but three armies, between 
any two of which there may be treaties of 
peace and offensive alliances.* 

But further, any idea which assumes that the 
interests of the proletariat are so simply 
opposed to those of the bourgeoisie as to make 
the proletariat feel a oneness of economic 
interest is purely formal and artificial, f It is a 

* jE.g., when the landed interests joined with laboui to 
secure factory laws, or when the capitalist interests join 
with labour to agitate for land nationalisation or for 
nationalisation of mining rents, etc. 

+ An attempt has been made (cf. Kerri : Socialism and 
Positive Science, Socialist Library, vol I., pp. 75, 145, etc.) 
to give the class war a biological meaning. In industrial 
society, it is said, the struggle for life is carried on not so 
much between individuals as between 'classes, the bour- 
geoisie and the proletariat, the exploiter and the exploited. 
This does not correspond to the facts, for the more clearly 
economic lines are drawn between classes, the more intense 
becomes the struggle for life within these classes. What 
is in reality the most significant change in the struggle for 
life as seen in society is, that the individual struggle is no 
longer against nature, but against a social organisation. In 
pre-civilized days man struggled with man and nature for 
subsistence which was scanty because nature was niggardly 
or unwooed by human toil j to-day man struggles with man 
and Society for subsistence which is scanty because the 
organisation of Society prevents the plenty which exists 
from finding its way into tl;ie possession of industrious men. 
The class struggle is not a biological idea at all. 

unification arrived at only by overlooking 
many differences and oppositions, which have 
been growing for some time rather than 
diminishing. For although, in the earlier years 
of the Factory System, the line between work- 
man and employer was not clearly drawn, and 
men could reasonably hope that by saving 
and by procuring credit they could become 
masters, to-day there is still a goodly number 
of workmen who cross the line and become 
employers or employing managers, whilst the 
great thrift movements, the Friendly Societies, 
the Building Societies, the Co-operative So- 
cieties, connect working class interests to the 
existing state of things. In addition, there 
are considerable classes of workers in the 
community whose immediate interests are 
bound up with the present distribution of 
wealth, and who, obedient to class interests, 
would range themselves on the side of the 
status quo. 

Of course it may be said that all these 
sections, in refusing to help on the change 
towards Socialism, are making a mistake 
from the point of view of their own interests, 
and that if they were properly enlightened 
they would see that they belong to an ex- 
ploited class, one and indivisible. That may 
be true, but a mode of action which is in- 
effective until men are " fully enlightened " is 
a chimera. Moreover, it is equally true that 


if the capitalist were fully enlightened, he too 
would embrace Socialism on account of the 
great blessings which it would bring to him. 
Thus all that the class war, when used to 
indicate the opposing armies whose combat 
is to usher in the reign of Socialism, means, is 
that an enlightened proletariat, not blinded 
by its immediate interests but guided by its 
permanent ones, will be Socialist. But so 
also will a similarly enlightened bourgeoisie ; 
hence the value of the class war as an uncom- 
promising statement of hard economic fact 
becomes a mere semblance. It is nothing but 
a grandiloquent and aggressive figure of 

It is an indisputable fact that the wage 
earner and the wage payer have interests 
which are antagonistic, and in the nature of 
things cannot be reconciled. The supposed 
identity of interest between capital and 
labour, which is assumed to be proved by the 
discovery that unless capital pays high wages 
it will not be able to command efficient 
labour, is no identity of interest at all. The 
efficient labour which high wages produce is 
still bought and sold by capital, is still em- 
ployed or. rejected as it suits the convenience 
of capital, is still underpaid to enable capital 
to accumulate high dividends, is still treated 
not as something possessing rights of its own 
but as something which ministers to the in- 


terests of others. This opposition may be 
expressed as a class war. But it is only one of 
the many oppositions tending to modify social 
organisation, and it is by no means the most 
active or most certain in improving that 

There is, for instance, the opposition be- 
tween consumer and producer. This opposition 
is peculiarly complex, because a man is a 
producer one hour and a consumer the next.® 
The most valid objection that can be taken 
to Trade Unionism (if it can be substantiated) 
is that it sacrifices the interests of the con- 
sumer to those of the producer. This has 
been illustrated in agreements between capi- 
talists themselves and also between capital 
and labour. Combinations of capital to raise 
prices or to monopolise the market, and agree- 
ments with workpeople to share in the benefits 
of artificially high prices on condition that 
they support the pool by refusing to work for 
any firm outside it, are examples of this rival- 
ry between the consumer and the producer. 
Sometimes the rivalry takes the form of a war 
between capitalists, as when the German pro- 
ducers of pig iron damage the interests of the 

* Tariff as it affects the wage earning class is the best 
illustration of this conflict of function in the same person, 
and the tug-of-war between the Protectionist and the Free 
Trader largely consists in the efforts of the one to induce 
the electors to think in the frame of mind of producers, and 
of the other to induce them to think as consumers. 


German steel manufacturers by dumping the 
rawer material in England. In other words, 
trade rivalry is as real and more forceful 
as an impulse of the day than class rivalry. 
Sometimes capital and labour in combination 
fight against a class consuming certain com- 
modities, as in the late bedstead combination ; 
sometimes labour alone fights against the 
consumer, as in the building trades where the 
increased price of labour has influenced costs 
of building, and consequently of housing 
accommodation.* The conflict of economic 
interest between the consumer demanding 
cheapness and the producer desiring to sell 
the use of his labour or the use of his capital 
at the highest rates, is also an economic con- 
flict which must not be overlooked or smoothed 
away in a formal generalisation. And it 
must be emphasised that the opposition is not 
one whit more unreal because the same man 
may belong at the same time to both the 
opposing classes. 

Certain modern developments are tending 
to break up into well defined economic 

* I desire to guard myself against misrepresentation here. 
Whilst I believe that the above statement is true, I impute 
no blame to the building trades' unions. If we have in the 
community a class so poor that they cannot afford to dwell 
in a house made under proper conditions of labour, that 
proves the existence of social evils which are not cured but 
intensified by keeping wages in the building trades at a 
low level. 


sections this " uniform " proletariat class. Of 
these the Co-operative and Building Societies 
are the most important. In the first of those 
movements, the wage earner becomes an em- 
ployer — or, as it presents itself more familarly 
to him, he is a receiver of dividends which, 
in part, are profits from other people's labour. 
All day, at his work in the factory or mine, 
he thinks of himself as the victim of the ex- 
ploiter, as the loyal trade unionist, as the 
wage earner. But he comes home in the 
evening, washes himself, puts a better coat on 
his back, goes to his Co-operative Committee 
and immediately undergoes a fundamental 
change. Psychologically, he is a different 
man. He is no longer a wage earner and a 
trade imionist, but a capitalist employer, who 
has been known to join in the anathema 
against labour combinations. 

This does not mean that wealth is being 
better distributed, but rather that the psycho- 
logical basis of class is being undermined. 
The boast of a control of "millions of money" 
which is made at every Co-operative Congress 
and the threat that capital and trade will 
leave the Stores if this or that departure in 
policy is decided upon, inculcates the capital- 
ist frame of mind in the worker, and though 
his sovereigns may be few, it is not the actual 
possession of riches which determines with 
what class a man associates himself. Imita- 


tion, as well as identity of economic interest, 
determines for practical purposes the class to 
which a man belongs. When a Primrose 
League dame shakes hands with an elector on 
polling day, she may or may not leave behind 
the shake a £^ note. But she certainly re- 
moves for the time being the psychological 
props upon which class feeling has been rest- 
ing. Down it tumbles, and the elector goes 
and votes for his "class enemy." Patronage 
and charity have the same effect. 

But the point is best illustrated by certain 
recent developments of co-partnership, which 
as an industrial theory is admirable, but as a 
sociological influence may be most repre- 
hensible. The South Metropolitan Gas Com- 
pany a few years ago determined to put an 
end to the organisation of its men, and con- 
sidered expedients for doing so. It decided 
to try co-partnership, and it succeeded. It 
bound its men to itself in precisely the same 
way as the proverbial man bound his donkey 
to his will by hanging a carrot in front of the 
animal's nose. Hoping ever to reach the 
carrot, the donkey romped home, and the 
driver's end was cheaply accomplished. 

It is interesting to work out the financial 
equivalent of the class solidarity of the proleta- 
riat, and this gas company's experiment throws 
some light on the question. The co-partner- 
ship scheme has been in operation for fourteen 


years, 4,000 men are affected, and their total 
holdings are ;^i 70,000.* Hence, in fourteen 
years under the scheme a man can save a little 
over ^40, or about £^ per annum ; and as his 
active working life does not average thirty 
years, this scheme allows the average man to 
save altogether something under ;^ioo. For 
this the men have given up their right to 
combine and their freedom of action, and have 
consented to place themselves absolutely at 
the disposal of the employing company. The 
result has been that, whilst nominally they are 
receiving specially good treatment, in reality 
specially good profits are being made out of 

By the second of those organisations — 
Building Societies — the interests of theworking 
classes become identified with those of the 
landowning classes, and are opposed to every 
attempt of the community to enter into posses- 
sion of the value which it imparts to land. 

There is also another aspect to this. The 

* Paper by Sir Geo. Livesey on the scheme, in Methods 
of Social Advancs. Edited by C. S. Loch. London, 1904. 

■(■ This is admitted by the manager, who, in the paper 
referred to above, stated that the bonus given to the men 
is first of all earned by them. "This," he says, "is 
proved by a comparison with the wages accounts of com- 
panies where the system is not in force, the rates of wages 
being the same, but the cost per ton of coal handled is 
considerably less." 


interests injured by our present social state are 
not merely those of the wage earners. Con- 
siderable classes of people depend on the wage- 
earners, and of these the small shopkeeper is 
a type. His social grade sympathy, however, 
unites him with the petite bourgeotste 
and divorces him from his economic 
supporters — the working classes — and thus re- 
bukes the theorists who see in social motive 
little more than economic motive. Then there 
are those whose comfort and success under 
existing conditions are but precarious — the 
bankrupts, the struggling business people, 
those engaged in industries which are passing 
under the control of trusts. All those are in 
economic positions which expose them to the 
allurement of the Socialist ideal. But they 
are possessed by a pathetic desire to attach 
themselves to the classes which rest in econo- 
mic calm and bask in a blaze of social sun- 
shine above the tempests and the shadows in 
which the lower strata live, and from the 
depths to which they sink they cast an adoring 
eye upon the villas of suburbia, and from 
the midst of their ruin they bow the knee 
to whatever bears the approving stamp of 

At this point we are able to strike at a 
vital defect in the " class war " conception of 
progress. When we appeal to class interests 
what do we do in reality ? A man's class in- 


terests surely appear to him to be only his 
personal interests, — ^not his interests as a 
member of the wage earning class, not his 
interests as a citizen, not his interests as a 
member of a commimity, but his individual 
interests from day to day. There is no prin- 
ciple of social reconstruction in this feeling. 
There is the motive of a scramble or of class 
defence and preservation, the motive to secure 
big wages, short hours and favourable condi- 
tions of work. But that is all. The tug of 
the class war is across, not upwards. There is 
no constructive value in a class war. 

The best expression of the class war is 
Trade Unionism. It is created on the assump- 
tion and experience that capital will do its 
utmost to exploit labour, and that labour 
ought to do its best to prevent capital from 
succeeding. The position is a simple and 
frank recognition of existing industrial fact. 
It concerns itself with no opposition except 
that between capital and labour, no union of 
interests except the interests of wage earning. 
It leads nowhere because it has no ideal goal ; 
its only result can be the bondage of one side 
or the other. Here is a pure example of the 
class war. Nay, more, it is the class war. 

The Trade Unionism, moreover, which is the 
purest expression of this simple antagonism 
between capital and labour, is what is known 
in this country as the Old Unionism, the 


Unionism which was opposed to labour poli- 
tics, to Socialism, to everything except con- 
ferences with employers and strikes as a last 
resort. It was sceptical of any reconstruc- 
tion, and decided in its opinion that if such 
reconstruction were to be tried. Trade Unionism 
was far too wise to have anything to do with 
it. This state of mind was also characterised 
by a narrow conception of trade interest as 
opposed to general interest. It is only the 
emptiest flattery to tell the old Trade Union 
movement that its various sections ever have, 
or ever could have, considered anything but 
their own immediate interests when settling 
their policy from time to time. Each of the 
wings of an army for carrying on the class 
war is bound in the nature of things to fight 
its battles mainly for its own hand. Trade 
solidarity rather than proletarian solidarity is 
thereal outcome of a class warin practice, and 
trade interest is ultimately individual interest. 

Convey it in what spirit we may, an appeal 
to class interest is an appeal to personal 
interest. Socialist propaganda carried on as 
a class war suggests none of those ideals of 
moral citizenship with which Socialist litera- 
ture abounds — " each for all, and all for each," 
" service to the community is the sole right of 
property," and so on. It is an appeal to 
individualism, and results in getting men to 
accept Socialist formulae without becoming 


Socialists. It springs from a time in the evo 
lution of the Labour Movement when the 
narrow creed of the old Trade Unionisin was 
the widest revelation that nature had yet 
made to men striving to protect themselves 
against the encroachment of capitalist power. 
In other words, the "class war" idea belongs 
to the pre-Socialist and pre-scientific phase 
of the Labour Movement. 

I am aware that the Marxian argues that 
this class struggle is the last, and that when 
the proletariat have been emancipated, the 
epochs of struggle end. The argument is 
absurd. The emancipation of the proletariat 
will of itself be the signal for new struggles 
of economic sections with apparently opposing 
interests, and so long as these oppositions are 
made the main reason for social change, each 
triumph only leads to other battles, again 
and again renewed. It is not the emancipa- 
tion of the numerical majority, or of a class 
so big as to be "no class but the nation," 
which matters. What matters is the character 
of the motive power which effected the eman- 
cipation. If that power is the conflict of 
interests, it will reappear in the new regime, 
and if it finds no complete class to infuriate, 
it will enter herds of sections which will then 
be prepared to fly at each others' throats. The 
assumption that by a class triumph Society is 
to emerge from the epoch of class conflict and 
sail gaily away upon the calm waters of 


fraternity, can be held only by those who 
have not ceased to believe in the magical and 
the irrational. 


The antagonisms in society which result in 
organic change of a progressive nature are not 
merely economic. They are also intellectual 
and moral. Man is moved by his head as well 
as by his pocket, by the growth of social 
instinct as well as by cupidity. The richest 
possession of any man is an approving con- 
science. People who themselves have no 
quarrel with existing economic arrangements, 
must measure the achievements of existing 
Society by standards of right and wrong, must 
enter its dark corners and sojourn amongst its 
waste places, its wrecks and its ruins, and 
must turn in horror and weariness from the 
spectacle and begin preparing for a new order 
of things. Everybody does not pile up riches 
on his inner lights so as to smother them. 
Even if we regard economics as the main- 
spring by which history moves, that does not 
prevent us from recognising that only by a 
combination of intellectual guidance and 
economic needs does historical change become 
one and the same thing with progress. 

The scheme upon which humanity evolves 
to higher and more humane stages of existence 
is either rational or it is not. If it is not, all 
organised attempts to hasten reform and make 
it effective — Socialism included — are waste 


effort. If it is rational, then progress becomes 
a matter of intellectual conviction, and man, 
seeking intellectual peace as well as economic 
security, will have to choose which he is to 
pursue. Even supposing he is a wage-earner 
and his pursuit of the means of life brings 
him into conflict with the existing state of 
Society, his success will not depend upon his 
richness of experience in poverty, but upon the 
meaning he places upon his experience and 
the methods he adopts to place himself in 
different conditions. Economic needs may 
give volume and weight to the demand for 
change, but reason and intelligence, the 
maturing of the social mind, ideals of social 
justice grasped so firmly that they have become 
real existences for those who hold them, give 
that demand a shape, a policy, a direction. 
Socialism must, therefore, recognise the in- 
tellectual as well as the economic movement. 
And if it over emphasises either side, let it be 
the former. For the pressure of economic need 
may exert itself in several conceivable direc- 
tions, not every one of which opens the 
gateway to progressive advance. A conscious- 
ness of class disabilities may be either a 
motive for reactionary sycophancy or for 
revolutionary indignation. A man's poverty 
may make him a Socialist, but it is as likely 
to induce him to sell his birthright for a mess 
of pottage. The slum life may blossom into 
revolution, but it is as likely to flourish into 


imperialism. The rich are led away from the 
light by their great possessions, but the pressure 
of poverty also induces the poor to be content 
with the immediate satisfaction of appetite, 
and incapacitates them from patient and 
strenuous striving. 

Not only, therefore, is it incumbent upon 
Socialism to recognise the existence of an 
intellectual motive, it must place that motive 
above the economic, because without it the 
economic struggle would be devoid of any 
constructive value ; it would be a mere tug-of- 
war ; it would never bring us to Socialism. 

This line of thought appears to overlook the 
article in the Marxian creed that Socialism is 
inevitable. But the industrial and economic 
inevitability of Socialism is a mere fancy. It 
is inevitable only if intelligence makes it so. 
It is inevitable only if we are to develop on 
rational lines ; it is inevitable, not because 
men are exploited or because the fabric of 
capitalism must collapse under its own weight, 
but because men are rational. It is the action 
of reason alone which makes our evils a sure 
cause of progress and not the possible begin- 
ning of final deterioration. Intelligence and 
morality set out the goal which makes struggles 
to escape the existing purgatory eSective. 
Human evolution is a stretching out, not a 
being pushed forward. Acorns produce oaks, 
grubs grow into beetles, tadpoles into frogs, but 


slums, industrial crises, poverty, trusts, do not 
in the same way grow into Socialism. Man 
was " inevitable " so soon as the amoeba ap- 
peared, but in the struggle for life which has 
taken place in the world of nature since life 
began, many species have been exterminated, 
many evolutions have never been completed. 
Arrested development is as conspicuous as 
finished processes. 

The workmen who vote Liberal and Union- 
ist to-day are perfectly conscious of the 
drawbacks of a life of wage-earning ; they are 
also quite conscious that they belong to a 
separate economic and social class — and a 
great many of them would like to belong to 
another. In short, in any natural meaning of 
the words, they are class conscious. But they 
are not Socialists, because they are not con- 
vinced that the intellectual proposals of 
Socialism should receive their support. 

In order, therefore, that the social organism 
may perfect itself, there must be the will for 
perfection and the definite idea as to what 
changes are required^ The life of the organ- 
ism is continued through change, and the 
organism itself is ever in a state of reorganisa- 
tion. Nation after nation has risen and 
fallen, others have risen, have attained to a 
certain civilization and there have stuck. But 
stagnation is impossible for our own Western 
peoples. They may fall ; political combina- 
tions may crush them ; the canker of poverty 


may make them degenerate. But if they 
are to continue to grow and to adapt 
themselves to new circumstances, if they are 
to continue to improve, it must be by the 
organisation of opinion and the operations of 
a constructive genius which sees the stage ahead 
and teaches the people how to attain to it. The 
Socialist appeal, therefore, is to all who believe 
in social evolution, who agree that the pro- 
blem which Society has now to solve is that of 
the distribution of wealth, who trust in demo- 
cracy, who regard the State not as antagonistic 
to, but as an aspect of individuality, and who 
are groping onwards with the co-operative 
faith guiding them. That appeal may find 
some people in poverty, and they may follow 
because it offers them economic security ; but 
it will find others in wealth, and they will 
follow because it brings order where there is 
now chaos, organisation where there is now 
confusion, law where there is now anarchy, 
justice where there is now injustice. 

Socialism marks the growth of Society, not 
the uprising of a class. The consciousness 
which it seeks to quicken is not one of 
economic class solidarity, but one of social 
unity and growth towards organic wholeness. 

We can now see to what combination of 


interests and convictions we must appeal, and 
how we must direct that appeal, in order to 
create the organic order of the Socialist State 
out of the atomic chaos of the present day. 

I reject what seems to me to be the crude 
notion of a class war, because class conscious- 
ness leads nowhere, and a class struggle may or 
may not be intelligent. But still, we turn our 
hopes first of all to the wage earners. They 
are the most certainly doomed victims of the 
present chaos ; they suffer most from the in- 
ability of the present system to provide em- 
ployment, wages, life ; they are least buoyed 
up by elusive hopes that a lucky turn of the 
wheel of fortune will pitch them up on the 
backs of others ; they are the helpless spills 
tossing on the troubled waters of present day 
strife ; their attempts to share in the benefits 
of an efficient method of production result in 
little but turmoil, hunger and poverty ; and 
above all, their needs have now become the 
chief concern of Society, because in fulness of 
time social organisation is being tested by its 
human results, and because the economic en- 
franchisement of the people naturally treads 
upon the heels of their political emancipation. 

And it is of special note for the moment, that 
they have been subject recently to rebuffs and 
attacks in the Press, the Courts of Law and 
Parliament, and thus have been taught the 
necessity of political unity and independent 
organisation. The politics of an enlightened 


industrial democracy is of necessity social, 
and is aimed at ending experiences of un- 
employment, old age pauperism, and so on. 
Hence, as one of the laws of evolution is that 
need creates organs, redistributes and organ- 
ises functions and changes biological types, 
working class policy must be directed towards 
the organisation and the development of the 
organs and functions of mutual aid in Society. 
So soon as a serious attempt has been made 
to frame a policy directed to such ends, it 
will be found that monopoly in land and the 
use of industrial capital for individual profit, 
are the sources of the experiences which 
Society now seeks to shun, and they must conse- 
quently be supplanted by public ownership 
and production for use before labour can enter 
into enjoyment of the blessings which an 
efficient method of wealth production makes 
possible. Labour has but one intelligent road 
of advance — that of economic and industrial 
reconstruction — that of Socialism. 

Amongst the wage earners, therefore, we 
must expect to find in fullest development, 
and in forms most political and effective for 
organic change, those vital and vitalising 
disturbances which indicate active life push- 
ing out to higher forms of organisation. But 
those disturbances, as has been shown, are not 
purely economic, and are not therefore con- 
fined to wage earners, and consequently in 
order to gather together the forces making for 


Socialism, the basis of the movement must be 
such that everyone sharing in the disturbed 
promptings may be included. 

All barrier phrases and sectional dogmas 
must be removed from Socialism. The ex- 
periments in factory legislation, in public 
health regulations, in education, in municipal- 
isation, are pointing out to men of all classes 
the desirability of going yet further along the 
road which leads to Socialism, and are form- 
ing in the minds of men of all classes a 
conception of Society, of the community and 
the individual, formed on Socialist principles. 
When we think systematically of the scattered 
fragments of reform promised by the political 
parties, we see that they are but the fore- 
shadowing of Socialism ; when the tendencies 
begun by scores of experiments — factory laws, 
public health laws, municipalisation — are 
followed out, joined together, systematised, 
Socialism is the result. This completeness of 
organisation, this idea of national and 
communal growth, this state of business 
efficiency, nothing short of it and nothing 
which is sectional in it, should be laid down 
as the basis of Socialism. And the political 
movement which is to express, and ultimately 
satisfy, this need for the organic unity of 
Society, must be a movement of the whole of 
Society and not of one of its functions — the 
working classes. As the brain moves obedi- 
ent to the grossest as well as the purest 


prompting of the needs of the living thing, so 
must the political organ in Society be subject 
to the purest prompting of moral intelli- 
gence as well as the grosser prompting of 
economic need, but both must be united if a 
more perfect form of Society is to be created. 

Economic hardships are the flints on the 
road, but these flints may develop on us the 
hoofs of the beast, or may compel us to use 
our intelligence to find smoother paths. 
Socialism is the latter alternative. 

Chapter VI. 


Socialism has sometimes been defined in such 
broad terms as to include philanthropic 
endeavour and moral efEort which rests upon 
individual will. Such a definition is inac- 
curate. The community, acting through law, 
and organised into definite forms determining 
the lines of individual action, is an essential 
part of the Socialist idea. The Socialist con- 
siders that the State is as essential to individual 
life as is the atmosphere, and he regards the 
evolution of political democracy ashavingbeen 
necessary in order to create a State which 
could respond to the common will. The 
modem State in most civilised countries is 
democratic, and, in spite of remaining anom- 
alies and imperfections, if the masses of the 
ordinary people are agreed upon any policy, 
neither rich electors, privileged peers, nor 
reigning houses could stand in their way. 
That being the case, the Socialist sees that so 
soon as the problem of : — In whom does the 
sovereignty rest ? — has been solved, progress 
presents to the community as a sequel the 
further conundrum : — What is the sphere of the 


State ? This is an essential part of the Socialist 
conception of social organisation. 


This involves a positive view of the State.* 
The Socialist refuses to regard the State as a 
mere atomic collection of individuals, the 
majority of whom coerce the minority ; he 
regards it as the means of expressing a will 
which belongs to the minority as well as to the 
majority, because the minority is organically 
connected with the community for which the 
State is acting ; he, therefore, does not consider 
legislative and administrative work to be a 
coercive limitation of individual liberty, be- 
cause he cannot think of a community as only 
a crowd of individuals, each self-centred, each 
pursuing his own ends, each endowed with 
natural and inviolable rights. The communal 
life is as real to him as the life of an organism 
built up of many living cells. When, there- 
fore, he is told that self-help and State activity 
are opposed to each other, that individual 
liberty and a thick statute book are incon- 

* It is true that a positive view of the State has been 
taken in much of our recent legislation, as, for instance, 
in Factory Acts, and in everything known as socialistic 
legislation, but it has been haphazard and unsystematic, 
and has been applied without understanding. State 
interference has often been resorted to as a quack remedy. 
Socialism comes with a clear and scientific idea of the 
aim and method of State activity, and can, therefore, dis- 
criminate between mistaken and fruitful methods of State 


sistent, that the action of the electors through 
parliament or municipalities is different in 
kind to that of individuals working separately 
for their ends, or that communal property is 
a limitation of private property, the Socialist 
confesses he does not follow the argument. 
There is no opposition between these things. 
Not only do they exist side by side — they are 
naturally interdependent. They indicate that 
the law of individual wellbeing is a law of 
social personality, and that mutual aid exists 
with individual struggle as an element in the 
process of progress. The State is, therefore, 
essential to Socialism, and we must consider 
Socialism as an influence in politics, and in 
relation to political parties. 

The history of State activity and political 
parties has been different in this country from 
that of the Continent. In modern times we have 
not had to fight wars of self-defence like Ger- 
many or France ; we have not had revolutions 
and revolutionary changes uprooting the 
present from the past ; we have not had, like 
France, political minorities, whose avowed 
objects have been to overturn the established 
political order ; militarism has not exercised its 
fatal influence of separating the State from 
the people ; since the days of George IV. our 
Parliament has been free to legislate as it 
wishes. We have, therefore, had few crises. 


Progress has been steady, if slow ; the dams 
obstructing its course have given way to slight 
pressure, and no floods of pent-up evil have 
had to break down barriers and rush furiously 
down courses where they might have mean- 
dered peacefully. On the Continent it has 
been different. There, the modern period was 
ushered in by revolution, wars followed, and 
natural boundaries were destroyed and a new 
crop of kings reared. When peace came, 
Europe did not begin where she had left ofE 
before the French Revolution exploded in her 
midst. She was partitioned to suit Austria 
and Mettemich, and volcanic forces were im- 
planted in Italy, Norway, Germany, Prussia, 
Belgium, Holland, and they began their pro- 
testing thunderings almost at once. Europe 
for well nigh a century was ruled by political 
Utopists, by gentlemen of individualist beliefs, 
who thought that the human will was invinc- 
ible, and that States and peoples were but 
blocks of wood to be cut into whatever forms 
the fancy of a few rulers decided. The 
result was revolution, sudden change, catas- 
trophic politics. 

This difference in political history between 
ourselves and our neighbours has had a deter- 
mining influence upon the work and nature of 
political parties here and in Europe. The 
difference is temporary, but it is important. 
Continental conditions have encouraged 

theories and dogmas regarding the course of 
progress, and have created parties to embody 
these theories and dogmas. Thus, we have 
rigidity in party relationship, and a lingering 
survival of the revolutionary method. 

Here, our revolutionary period ended with 
1832, and before that its revolutionary charac- 
teristics were very mild. As on the Continent, 
that period of our politics was characterised 
by political dogmas and systems of progress 
built up upon assumptions of class wars, 
economic motives, and other simple explana- 
tions of complicated problems.* But, since 
1832, parties have been in touch with life and 
national need, and, in a biological frame of 
mind, have been busying themselves with 
results, rather than in a logical frame of mind 
declining to budge one degree from some 
imagined meridian of sound political theory. 
Speculative politics have been proceeding 
pari passu with experimental politics. 

Parties do not therefore in this country 
survive after their theories have become use- 
less for practical purposes. The weird mum- 
mies of a byegone generation, which form the 
Liberal parties in most Continental countries, 
are unknown here except as individuals camp- 
ing outside the walls of the regular parties. 

* For instance, Philosophic Radicalism sprang from our 
revolutionary period, and hardly survived the generation 
which followed 1832. 


An influential minority can for a time thwart 
the will of the majority, but when the supreme 
test comes, a party finds its strength to lie 
not in its rich minorities, nor in its select sup- 
porters whose interests do not coincide with: 
its rank and file, but with the rank and file 
itself, and it is the experience of the rank and 
file which ultimately directs party policies. 

Our political method no doubt cripples 
intellectual movements in politics, but it lays 
massive foundations by patient experiment. 
It finds its chief motive for action not in the 
flaws of a system which one can detect, by 
logical processes, but in evils actually experi- 
enced. It compels the assimilation of all 
useless political organs, and does not allow 
the atrophied remnants of old parties to enr 
cumber the State by retaining a separate 
existence. It makes it impossible for parties 
to flourish on words, and forces them to 
apply themselves to the satisfaction of the 
needs experienced by the communities where 
they rule. But as the experimental method 
ever requires the guidance of theory, all 
scientific progress being a combination of in- 
duction and deduction, the British political 
method demands for its success a clear com- 
prehension of the social and individual ends 
which it from time to time embodies in its 
work, so that it is by no means a " living from 
hand to mouth." The British method is not 
opportunism, but the experimental method in 
the full scientific meaning of the term. 



The immediate origin of the present Socialist 
movement was the Industrial Revolution. It 
was the vague dreams of a Socialist order 
which men lingered over when they beheld 
the young dragged to the factories before 
their tiny legs could well carry them there, 
adults exploited of life and possession by the 
unchecked greed of capital, the ugly town raised 
up haunted by vice and inhabited by disease, 
poverty become chronic, "economic law" 
proclaiming the end of human sentiment in 
-business operations, men beaten and bruised and 
torn under the harrow of commercialism and 
left without consolation and without hope. 

The first germinating growths of the prac- 
tical Socialist spirit were to be found in 
projects for land nationalisation promulgated 
by men like Thomas Spence and Professor 
Ogilvie. The Spencean Philanthropists, who 
were a thorn in the side of the purely political 
Radicals, " openly meddled with sundry grave 
" questions besides that of a community in 
" land, and amongst other notable projects 
"petitioned Parliament to do away with 
" machinery."® Dr. Ogilvie was an Aberdeen 
Professor, who turned his attention to the 
depopulation of the country, and wrote An 
Essay on the Right of Property in Land, in which 

* Harriet Martineau's History of the Peace. Bohn's 
Edition, i.,p. 8l. 


he advocated the taxation of land values and 
the establishment of a Land Court. 

In the direct line of succession to these two 
came Robert Owen, who widened the outlook 
and the interests of the social reformers by 
laying down theories of the relation between 
education, character and environment. With 
him, English experimental Socialism may be 
said to begin. He started the epoch of social 
legislation which gave us our Factory Laws, 
and which, mainly through those laws, has 
made us familiar with the idea that it is the 
business of the State to protect the weak and 
create conditions favourable for the full dei- 
velopment of men and women. As the result 
of Owen's work, the tendency towards Social- 
ism in this country made itself manifest in 
certain directions, but particularly in politics 
through the growth of State activities and a 
movement in labour politics ; in ethics through 
the assumption, which ever since has had such 
definite practical effect, that man and his 
circumstances cannot be separated in any 
consideration of reform ; in business, through 
the growth of the Co-operative movement, 
first in distribution and latterly in production. 

The beginnings of a political labour move- 
ment, for which Owen was responsible, soon 
grew into Chartism under the nurturing care 
of evil social conditions and a lack of social 
sympathy in both political parties. It is 
marvellous that this movement did so little 


either by contributing ideas to succeeding 
generations or by direct influence upon legis- 
lation. Two explanations can be offered for 
this. In the first place the country was not 
quite ready even for political Chartism, and 
was far from ready for the social implications 
of Chartism. In the second place, although 
the people were prepared to be led, Chartism 
produced no genuine leaders. Under the 
political circumstances of the time, the voice 
of the masses of the people could penetrate 
Parliament only through secondary channels ; 
and the most permanent effect of Chartism 
was to give an impetus to the individualist 
and voluntary movements of Co-operation and 
Trade Unionism. 

Labour then ceased to organise itself 
for political purposes. The demand for 
labour which followed the inauguration of 
free trade, the development of railways and 
rapid transport, and the consequent opening 
up of the world's markets, allayed social 
agitation and gave the Radical wing of the 
Liberal Party an opportunity of inspiring the 
imagination of the working classes with visions 
of the blessings which would follow upon 
political reform and the curtailment of aristo- 
cratic privileges. Thus, the social problem as 
a direct political issue receded for the time. 
The enthusiasm of political democracy grew 
more ardent. A self-confident, impatient, 
spirited mass gathered to storm the last cita- 


dels of the politically privileged classes. 
Labour sentiment had been diverted into 
purely political channels. AH parties accepted 
the situation : the people were to rule. It 
might be the people drunk or the people sober, 
the people rational or the people cajoled. 
But still it was to be the people. 

This condition reinforced the national char- 
acteristic of trusting to experience rather than 
to theory. A sudden outburst of democratic 
ideas, owing mainly to Continental influ- 
ence, appeared in the fourth decade of last 
century, and have been dying gradually away 
ever since, because life is more or less tolerable 
under a monarchy, a House of Lords, and an 
Established Church. The attacking army 
has become dispirited, or content with things 
as they are. "The enemy" is not so bad 
after all. The spirit of the Labour Radi- 
calism of the seventies has gone out of us. 

But in the meantime legislation has become 
more and more intimately connected with 
life, administration with public needs, and 
the State with the individual. In this pro- 
cess, parties have changed and have accepted 
the inevitable.® Nothing is more difficult for 

* After the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832, Peel said 
during the debate on the Address that he would accept the 
Reform Act as " finally and irrevocably " settling the ques- 
tion of reform. His speech was tantamount to a declaration 
that the party which he led would change its spirit, and 
accommodate itself to the new conditions. The history of 
the Tory party since that time shows how well Peel under- 
stood the life of British political parties. 


the foreigner investigating our political con- 
ditions than to master this most elementary 
characteristic of British politics. He thinks 
of party as the embodiment of a political 
dogma, and finds ours to be the temporary 
exponent of a method. He looks for some- 
thing fixed and rigid, and finds something 
constantly in a state of flux and flow. He 
expects to find something founded on the 
rock of first principles, and discovers a barque 
floating upon currents and moving with the 


This characteristic of British political life 
is of the greatest importance to the Socialist 
movement. It necessitates a special phraseo- 
logy and a special political method. It means 
that in this country Socialism cannot create 
for itself a political party founded on its 
dogmas — it can only hope to become the spirit 
of a party which may not profess the Socialist 
creed as church folk profess that of Athanasius, 
but which will take the Socialist outlook and 
use Socialist constructive ideas as guides in 
practical legislation. It explains why Socialism 
is traceable in every kind of progressive acti vi ty, 
and why it is slowly and organically changing 
the structure of society, just as new' modes of 
thought change the whole of a man's outlook 
on life, or as a change in diet modifies the 
the digestive organs and the bodily structure. 


In spite of this, and in a way because of it, 
the life of a party is finite. A party applies 
certain general principles in certain directions, 
and to certain conditions, and then it is 
gradually faced by conditions very dissimilar 
to those which originated it, and which gave 
rise to its working principles. Then, whilst 
it struggles valiantly to adapt itself to the new 
conditions, it decays through a period which 
is a transition or reactionary period. 

There is some reason for regarding the 
present time as one of theseperiods. Capitalism 
has worked itself out ; atomic individualism 
has become barren ; the conception of property 
is being revised ; all the old axioms regarding 
the State and the individual are being swept 
away into reliquary chambers ; the centre of 
gravity in social economics is shifting from 
problems and methods of production to prob- 
lems and methods of distribution. In the 
political arena the old champions of political 
freedom, having fought their fight with their 
own appropriate weapons, are riding off the 
lists, whilst their places are being taken by a 
new generation, armed differently and fighting 
by new methods. 

Finally, a very definite and pressing need 
has arisen for the development of moral and 
social wealth, which can bring no dividends to 
capital,and therefore is neglected by capitalism. 
The character and quality of citizenship can 


be nurtured and encouraged by a policy of 
legislation and administration, but there is no 
private profit in it. The clearance of slum 
property, the maintenance of parks, the estab- 
lishment of havens of rest for the aged, the 
general improvement of the texture of human 
material by education,are communal questions. 
The deterioration of the physique of our people 
is of but remote interest to the factory owner 
or the house agent, and by them can be 
neglected, on the ground that it will not 
materially afEect profits and rents — this genera- 
tion at any rate. Indeed, profits and rents can 
really be made out of the very conditions 
which hasten this deterioration. But, for the 
community, every depopulated parish, every 
overcrowded area, every class of under-fed 
children, is dead loss. 

This does not always mean that new work 
must be undertaken. It very often means no 
more than that services, only part of which 
can pay dividends, and which are divided into 
paying and non-paying businesses, should be 
co-ordinated. At present, the paying parts are 
developed, and the non-paying neglected. But 
from the point of view of the community, both 
should be developed. Experience teaches that 
the full social need can never be supplied by 
self-interested capitalism. There are certain 
public needs which, though different and 
separable from the point of view of private 
enterprise, are inseparable from the point of 
view of public policy. Private enterprise, for 


instance, separates a housing from a transport 
policy. One interest builds houses, another 
constructs trams, and the activities of both are 
limited by rents and takings. But, from the 
point of view of the community, houses and 
trams, overcrowding and transport, are in- 
separable, and a policy regarding them is 
neither justified nor condemned by financial 
gain or loss. It would "pay" a community 
to run "free" trams as it now provides "free" 
roads. Further, in considering its policy of 
building up its structure, of gaining for itself 
healthy life in order to supply vigour to all 
its parts, of increasing its efficiency as the con- 
dition of individual eflBciency, a community 
has always to consider whether certain public 
needs — e.g., locomotion — have become so 
" primary " as to be part of a common 
charge — e.g., schools or roads — and, therefore, 
to be paid for from rates on the principle 
that the common needs of a community 
should be borne by the property of the com- 
munity or by those who are deriving most 
benefit from the community ; or whether they 
are still, in the main, personal luxuries and 
advantages, and, therefore, to be paid for out 
of the pockets of the user at certain rates per 
unit of use. 

This new conception of social structure and 
public policy could not be adapted to the 
political organisations which came into 
being to carry on the work of last cen- 


tiiry.'* Change in society is continuous, but 
new generations, organically connected with 
the old but not the old themselves, are required 
to carry on the change. If a generation spanned 
the space of a century and not of only a third 
of a century, change would be slower, because 
new organisations and new conceptions of 
epochal change would be more difficult to 
create. Consequently, when in politics a new 
outlook and objective are presented with 
comparative suddenness, a new political 
organisation is required. 

Ever since 1868, when the workmen in the 
boroughs were enfranchised, the growth of a 
new political organ has been apparent. This 
Reform Bill led at once to a conflict between 
organised labour and both political parties. 
After its lapse into a purely political groove, 
the labour movement again developed upon 
its own special lines. Trade Unionism 
demanded certain alterations in the law of 
conspiracy, of master and servant, of combi- 
nation ; the conditions of factory labour were 
such that no satisfactory improvement could 
be made save by further Acts of Parliament ; 
a mass of questions in social economics 

* An unexpected proof of this has been given while this 
book was passing through the press by the heavy Liberal 
vote in favour of the supply of electricity within the Metro- 
politan area by a private monopolist company. The vote 
of itself is of the greatest significance, but the defence cf 
their conduct which several Liberals have offered is at once 
the most amusing and most significant pronouncement 
that blundering politicians groping through a transition 
time ever made. 


grouped round the ownership of land, wages, 
unemployment, hours of labour, were occupy- 
ing the attention of the working classes, and 
the politicians were not prepared to face 
them. Moreover, in industrial warfare em- 
ployers forgot political differences and joined 
in opposing labour's demands. Thus was 
the necessity for a new political departure 
made clear. 

Nor were the new forces being gathered 
merely to the tune of the political incompe- 
tence of the old. Moral and intellectual 
tendencies and ideas that had been moving in 
Society for a generation and more, mingled 
with the revolt which was creating the 
new movement. Carlyle and Ruskin had 
troubled conscience and intellect ; the Chris- 
tian Socialists had struggled with the practical 
problems of association and organisation ; 
the craftsmen of later times, like Morris, laid 
down the only conditions under which honest 
work could be done, and whilst thundering 
against the shoddiness of the present system, 
infused a warm idealism into the new move- 
ment by writing and speaking of it in its 
artistic and craftsman aspects. Even Spencer's 
opposition, being based upon such a palpable 
failure to apply his philosophical system to 
Society, ripened into Socialist fruit, and Mill's 
later confessions contributed to the same end. 
Here, if anywhere, were the germs of a new 


political birth, too distinct and too powerful 
to be merely a fresh stimulus to an old and 
jaded political organisation. 

To begin with, they were perhaps but vague 
gropings rather than clearly defined visions, 
and their first result was a flood of estimable 
but xmcontroUed effort and willingness such 
as that which Marx found in Paris in 1847. 
From this flood arose the definite, at first 
tiny, but swift and straight running current 
of Socialism which organised itself in 1884 
through the Social Democratic Federation, 
and in 1893, to very much better purpose, 
through the Independent Labour Party. In 
1900, the Socialist and Labour movements 
combined, and the Labour Representation 
Committee was the result. Thus by the bio- 
logical process of a union between thought 
and experience, the study and the bench, the 
movement for a complete reconstruction and 
the demand for an immediate readjustment, a 
real political organism has been brought into 
life which is capable of embodying all the 
tendencies, gropings, thoughts, idealisms, 
which together are urging society forward to 
greater perfection. 


If we review our present political position 
from the standpoint of this chapter, we dis- 
cover in it a new meaning. For the past 
twenty years, Liberal politicians tell us, we 
have been in the trough of reaction. In one 

sense that is true, but reaction does not 
adequately include all that has been happen- 

The enfranchised people have disappointed 
their backers. Interests that were supposed 
to be doomed thirty years ago not only 
continue to exist, but have gathered 
strength. The King, the House of Lords, the 
military caste, have not only survived demo- 
cracy, but have found in its weakness a new 
source of power, and in its interests a new- 
bulwark of defence. 

This is not surprising. Metamorphosis 
exhausts the organism. The caterpillar, at 
the end of its caterpillar days, retires, and in 
a comatose and helpless condition passes 
through its transition stage. Every critical 
change in an organism is attended by a 
suspension of vital energy and a seeming ebb 
of life. 

Such is the condition of our society at the 
present time. The Liberal stage is past : the 
stage of Socialism has not yet fully come. 

Liberalism stood, in the political sphere, for 
enfranchisement, for freedom, for democracy. 
Its battles have not been won fully. The 
register of electors is limited ; the democracy 
are not enfranchised ; not a single woman can 
say directly what the law should or should 
not be. And, towering above the whole 


democratic fabric which has been erected 
since 1832, the House of Lords still raises its 
privileged head, the negation of popular 
sovereignty, the custodian of narrow class 
interests, the safeguard of everything anti- 
social and parasitical. 

But the flame of political democracy has 
died away. The demand for political power, 
except perhaps in the special case of women, 
will, for its own sake, stir up to no more 
crusades. The finishing touches will not be 
put upon political democracy until the exist- 
ing constitution is proved to be a barrier to 
social legislation. 

On its religious side. Liberalism stood for 
the liberation of spiritual organisations from 
the binding patronage of the State and for 
equality of all sects in the eyes of the law. 
The latter for most practical purposes has been 
secured, and the recent attempt to go back 
upon it made by certain provisions of the 
Education Act of 1902, blew the dying flame 
of religious Liberalism into a blaze which 
materially contributed to the happy change 
in Liberal prospects which has taken place 
since then. But in this department of Liberal 
activity, nothing remains to be done except 
to disestablish the church. In this, however, 
there is no great interest. The Liberationist 
argument has to be re-stated because the 
negative conception of the State upon which 


it rested is no longer held. But in the re- 
statement of the argument the Nonconformist 
must be willing to commit himself to doctrines 
of freedom of thought which involve what he 
erroneously calls " the secularisation of the 
State," and that he will not do. So, except 
under special conditions such as those created 
by the Education Bill, the religio-political 
principles of Liberalism have ceased to inspire 
enthusiasm and to provide a battle cry. 

In the matter of national finance, the retro- 
grade proposals of the Tariff Reform League 
and the stupid extravagance and maladminis- 
tration of the Government since 1895, have 
raised into a temporarily renewed value the 
classical economic doctrines of Liberalism. 
But these doctrines, whilst making excellent 
fortified camps for defensive purposes, are of 
no use to an army on the march. Free Trade 
solves no social problems. It may make 
poverty less oppressive, unemployment less 
severe, cost of living cheaper, labour combi- 
nation easier, monopolist combination more 
difKcult, and so on. But none of these 
advantages amounts to the solution of prob- 
lems. Economy is good, but not so good as 
profitable expenditure ; waste must be stopped, 
but with the desire to stop it must not go an 
idea that all State expenditure is wasteful. A 
campaign to encourage suspicion against 
national expenditure is a necessary and a 


good thing as a corrective to maladministra- 
tion in our spending departments, but as a 
positive policy it is futile. 

From the point of view of social organisa- 
tion, the function of Liberalism has been 
mainly negative. Liberalism has cleared the 
ground of ancient, tottering forms of property. 
It broke the feudal relationships which, during 
the political or nation-making epoch, knit the 
various classes in an organic whole, and in 
its attempts to solve the problem of wealth 
production, it glorified the rights of the 
separate individual and sub-divided the func- 
tions of labour down to the finest possible 
difierence ; but it made little attempt to co- 
ordinate these individual rights and sub- 
divided functions, except in so far as it was 
necessary for them to co-operate for the 
production of wealth. At certain points like 
education, factory conditions, public health, 
the pressure demanding public interference 
was so great that Liberalism had to find a 
place within itself for constructive ideas, 
which, when matured into full luxuriance in 
the next epoch, were to mark off that epoch 
in opposition to that of Liberalism. But the 
distinctive mark of the Liberal epoch was the 
disruption of social organic relationships, 
and the emphasising of atomic individualism 
as the controlling power in industry, religion 
and politics. Now, that atomic individualism. 

in face of the problems which the new century 
is called upon to solve, and of the knowledge 
which it has inherited, is seen to be false and 
of no practical value, Liberalism is compelled 
to apply the authority of the State for con- 
structive purposes in a haphazard way, and 
in relation to separate grievances as they 
come up. The attempt is futile. It only 
unites in opposition all the threatened interests, 
because the Liberal attack seems to be specially 
against them, and not the manifestation of 
deep national impulses of growth. Here again 
we see evidence of the close of an epoch. 

Finally, as regards a generous belief in the 
principle of nationality, to which the history 
of Liberalism owes some of its most inspiring 
pages — where is that belief now cherished? 
When our South African policy reached the 
fateful point when we had to choose the 
way of peace or that of war. Liberalism was 
split in twain, and the party which a few years 
before boasted of its nationalist sympathies 
has to bear a heavy share of responsibility for 
the discreditable transaction which removed 
the names of two Republics — one, the best 
governed in the world — from our geographies, 
and put in their place a corrupt and corrupting 

In both vegetable and animal kingdoms, 
when youth is past, the hard structures of the 

body are hardened and thickened, the saps of 
life flow more and more slowly and suffer 
greater and greater impediments, until at 
length motion ceases altogether, the sap rises 
no more in the Spring, the blood pulses 
no more through the veins. The weakening 
life of the Liberal epoch has been the most 
marked feature of politics during the past 
quarter of a century. 

Before the final silence comes and shadowy 
memory sits where life was, the forces of 
destruction, the armies of parasites, are 
already busy upon the decaying organism, 
preying upon its strength and living upon its 
sustenance. Even in human affairs we do not 
often see this humiliating spectacle of harpies 
pouncing upon the treasures which the en- 
feebled being can no longer defend ? Do we 
not detect this activity of the harpies of decay 
in our political life to-day? For what else 
are those organisations of one idea which 
induce electors to barter their votes and turn 
parties into separate fragments, which hang 
together only so long as each has a nostrum 
which has not hitherto been recognised by 
Act of Parliament, and which make alliances 
with other factions nursing other nostrums ? 
So long as a party is in vigorous health it 
keeps these party interests in their places, and 
prevents the dominance of faction and the 
menace of particularism ; but when it becomes 
feeble these maggots luxuriate and fatten, and 


national interests pass under the custodian- 
ship of groups which have bargained with 
each other for a majority, and which live on 
the decaying life of what was once a healthy 

But again, as in biology, dissolution happens 
only after germination, and organisms die 
only after they have given life to other organ- 
isms, so, in Society, one epoch dies after it 
has nurtured the epoch which is to succeed it 
in the process of evolution. We may therefore 
examine the characteristics of the present 
alleged reaction with some expectation of 
finding it to be nothing but the condition 
intervening between the vital activity of an 
epoch that has "lived its life," and that of 
another which is as yet an infant on the lap 
of Time. 

Do present political conditions fulfil such 
an expectation ? Is the reaction through 
which we have been going a definite back- 
sliding ? or, is it the lethargy and stupor of a 
people passing through a crisis in its develop- 
ment ? Has it been accompanied by changes 
in vital organisation which are as yet rudi- 
mentary, but promising ? 


In a book recently published written for the 
purpose of discussing this alleged reaction,* 

'^Democracy and Reaction, by L. T. Hobhouse, London, 


complaint is made that the biological theory 
of the struggle for life, misinterpreted and 
misunderstood, has afforded a new defence for 
aristocracy and for government by classes, 
and has weakened the conception of democratic 
equality as a guide in politics, economics and 
ethics. This, however, is true only to a 
small extent, and is much less true in this 
country (where the reaction has been more 
marked than anywhere else) than in France 
or in Germany. Discussions on the applica- 
tion of Darwinism to politics have hardly 
rippled the surface of politics here. Mr. 
Spencer's individualism was never more than 
a wail against new times and new men. His 
political arguments have never had the least 
weight on our public policy. They have 
never won the ear of a statesman as the 
Wealth of Nations won Pitt's ear, and the only 
attempt to make them the basis of a propa- 
gandist society was initiated by a few obscur- 
antist peers and private persons. Spencer's 
general philosophy, in the hands of intelligent 
studerits, has, however, contributed to the 
stability of Socialist thought, mainly by his 
clear exposition of the fact of social evolution. 
The Socialist literature of twenty years ago 
abounds in Spencerian arguments directed 
against Spencerian individualism. 

The crude individualism of the Rights of 
Man, as understood in the Eighteenth century 

— of the " all men are bom free and equal " 
type — which was the foundation of Liberal 
politics, and which gave to the Liberal epoch 
such magnificent power for destroying the 
crumbling organisation of feudalism and 
laying the foundations of democratic govern- 
ment, had to be supplanted by a doctrine of 
rights more accurate to the farts of social life 
before we could enter upon a constructive 
epoch. Hegelianism, in the hands of German 
bureaucrats and British imperialists, is no 
doubt subversive to the most elementary con- 
ditions of democracy; biological theories of 
evolution, in the hands of the threatened 
aristocratic and monopolist interests, are no 
doubt used to defend inequality, class govern- 
ment and the subjection of the many by the 
few. But the ultimate value of ideas cannot 
be estimated by the temporary abuse of those 
ideas, by their partial application, by the 
use made of them by interested classes in 
their own favour. The German bureaucrat 
and the British imperialist are not to have 
the last word on the application of Hegelian- 
ism and Darwinism to politics, nor are the 
Conservative aristocracy always to be in the 
ascendant as they have been during the past 
twenty years, and to have, in consequence, an 
opportunity of explaining by scientific jargon 
about the survival of the fittest, or philosoph- 
ical jargon about the governing classes, the 
simple fact that they are looking after them- 

1 59 

selves, and are preying upon the community. 
Both Hegelianism and Darwinism came 
into conflict with the political philosophy of 
the Liberal epoch ; both denied the principles 
of atomic individualism ; both challenged the 
intellectual basis of Radical Democracy. 
Progressive politics had to be re-systematised. 
The old crutches were broken ; the old lights 
blown out. The State had become a real 
thing and an essential condition of individual 
liberty ; the social organism had become a 
real existence subject to laws of growth 
modified from those of natural selection by 
the fact that selective reason had become a 
factor in further change. And that had closed 
a chapter. 

But when this happens, reaction always 
appears to follow. So soon as any prop is 
shattered or any old faith supplanted, a pro- 
cess of dissolution sets in. It is really not the 
old organisations which carry on the new life. 
This, for instance, happened at the Reforma- 
tion, when Luther had to confess : " No 
" sooner did our Gospel arise and get a hearing 
" than there followed a frightful confusion. . . 
" Every man at his free pleasure would be and 
" do what he liked in the way of pleasure and 
" license, so that all law, rule and order were 
"overthrown." This has happened every 
time that liberalising influences have softened 
the hard dogmas of faith, every time that 


the ethical imperative has been modified, 
that greater leisure, greater knowledge and 
greater comfort have freed men from the con- 
trol of the dead hand, emancipated them from 
custom and opened out wider and unfamiliar 
horizons for them to explore and exploit. Nat- 
urally, under such circumstances the menaced 
interests endeavour to arm themselves with the 
new ideas, and to the superficial observer 
these ideas may even seem to be the cause of 

But further, does not a careful examination 
of the period of reaction discover germinal 
growths which make us doubt the reality of 
reaction ? 

The political history of the past twenty 
years has not been a record of the defeat of 
the Liberal party and the rout of progressive 
opinion. It is mainly a record of the split-up 
of Liberalism and the disintegration of the 
progressive movement. It is of the greatest 
importance to remember this fact, if we are 
to arrive at an accurate conception of what is 
really going on. Like the cell which is about 
to divide and create a new organism, the 
Liberal party now contains more than one 
nucleus. At the same time a new manifesta- 
tion of vital activity has appeared. Socialism 
has at length reached a stage when it is more 
than a diffused influence, and becomes part of 
a definite organ functioning in politics. 


Whilst for the moment the reactionary ele- 
ments in society were luxuriating almost 
unchallenged in the midst of " a frightful 
confusion," Socialism was becoming a definite 
factor in administration and legislation. 
Reaction in national affairs was proceeding 
whilst constructive policies in local govern- 
ment — Municipal Socialism — were becoming 
a menace to monopolists and individualists 
of all kinds ; imperialist will-o'-the-wisps 
were enticing the people into muddy morasses 
whilst sound policies of social reconstruction 
were lighting warning beacons to blaze for a 
century ; whilst aristocratic notions were 
supplying wizard music to the ears of the 
crowds, the people were beginning to hum 
snatches of their own tunes ; whilst the nation 
was applauding the grandiloquent sentiments 
of its privileged classes it was beginning to 
formulate a few demands of its own, ask itself 
how it liked the exercise, and gather round 
its own advocates and applaud them with 
growing emphasis and ardour. 

The period of reaction has not been one of 
simple relapse. In local government, the 
period has been the most fruitful of any we 
have ever experienced. Even in legislation 
and in national affairs, in spite of certain out- 
standing events, it has been far from purely 
retrogressive, whilst, in the country, harvests 
of political opinion have ripened which a few 
years ago appeared to be still rank and green. 


The period of so-called reaction has been, in 
reality, a period of reconstruction and re- 

We have witnessed during the last quarter 
of the nineteenth century the transition from 
democracy clamouring for political recog- 
nition to democracy experimenting how best 
it can use its political power. Questions of 
political sovereignty have receded into history 
with those of kingly divine rights. From the 
parish to the nation democratic forms have 
been conceded, and from the parish to the 
nation democracy is now busy assuming 
authority, discussing what is its legitimate 
sphere of action, moving tentatively out in 
this and that direction, making incursions 
upon fields hitherto held to be sacred to 
individual enterprise, undertaking responsi- 
bilities which, it has hitherto been assumed 
generally, the public in their corporate and 
political capacity could not and ought not 

We are still living too near to this change 
to understand fully how thorough it is ; 
the change itself is too little understood, its 
features are yet too much the haphazard con- 
cerns which meet us with the dawn and pass 
from our thoughts with the night, its inward 
meaning is too imperfectly seen, for us to grasp 
the tremendous significance of the transition 
from democracy in form to democracy in 

power. The Franchise Acts of 1868 and 1884 
closed, not merely a chapter, but an epoch in 
political evolution. 

One of the chief reasons why we cannot see 
the magnitude of this change is that parties 
maintain their old names and appeal to their 
traditions. But that both Conservative and 
Liberal parties have been revolutionised in 
twenty-five years must be apparent to every- 
one who has withdrawn himself from the 
stream of political event and noted its pro- 
gress. Mr. Herbert Spencer's polemical state- 
ment of the change in his The Man versus The 
State may be unfounded in its conclusions 
and mistaken in its inferences, but it is true 
in its facts. " Most of those who now pass 
as Liberals are Tories of a new type " ;* " it 
seems needful to remind everybody what 
Liberalism was in the past, that they may 
perceive its unlikeness to the so-called 
Liberalism of the present . . . how are we to 
explain this spreading confusion of thought 
which has led it [Liberalism] in pursuit of 
what appears to be public good, to invert the 
method by which in earlier days it achieved 
public good ? " t And Mr. Spencer sees an 
inversion of method not only in the Liberal 
party. " If the present drift of things con- 
tinues, it may by-and-by really happen, that 
the Tories will be defenders of liberties which 

*P- I- t P- 4-S. 


the Liberals, in pursuits of what they think 
popular welfare, trample under foot."* The 
facts which justify Mr. Spencer in coming to 
these conclusions are indisputable. He inter- 
prets them in the spirit of the controversialist. 
He throws upon them the misleading light of 
that rich fund of illustration which is his 
peculiar method. He fails to notice 
adequately that the change of the Tory party 
is quite as significant as that of the Liberal 
party. But the fact remains that, whether 
to its praise or blame, the progressive idea of 
the century has in these latter years borne 
fruit in ideals and purposes which, logically 
at any rate, seem to be in antagonism to 
their parentage. 

It is, therefore, no surface change which 
has taken place if present tendencies are to 
continue, and if from them a new epoch of 
legislation is to spring. Our complete con- 
ception of democracy, its forms, its functions, 
the nature of its government, its method of 
expressing itself, the interpretation which it 
is to put upon the old watchwords of liberty 
and progress, its relation to its pioneering 
heralds, is being revolutionised by the very 
short practical experience which we have had 
of its aspirations now that it has been estab- 
lished as sovereign power. The irresistible 
movement of events has transported us from 

* p. 17. 

1 65 

thoughts of democratic form to thoughts of 
democratic function. 


These conclusions have an important bear- 
ing upon the relation between the old parties 
and the new. One sometimes hears of "the 
profound gulf " fixed between Liberalism and 
Socialism, and of the Liberal party being 
crushed out. That is the thought of the 
logician who sees things in the abstract, and 
not of the biologist who is accustomed to 
deal with life. The fact is, there are no gulfs 
in the course of organic evolution, and nothing 
in the main stream of that evolution has been 
crushed out. Lower forms merge into higher 
forms, one species into another, the vegetable 
into the animal kingdom ; in human history, 
one epoch slides into another. Each new stage 
in evolution retains all that was vital in the old 
and sheds all that was dead. Even when we 
see revolution and sudden change in thought 
or habits of peoples and individuals, we only 
behold the result of many hidden influences 
become visible. Socialism, the stage which 
follows Liberalism, retains everything that 
was of permanent value in Liberalism, by 
virtue of its being the hereditary heir of 
Liberalism. Thus we have seen in recent 
times that when two vital principles of 
Liberalism were assailed — the existence of 
nationalities and the policy of free exchange 

1 66 

between nations — Socialism rallied to their 
defence even when enfeebled Liberalism could 
not always command enough vital force to do 
so itself. The democratic work of Liberalism 
is the basis of the Socialist State ; the indi- 
vidualist morality of Evangelicism is the 
basis of the social morality of Socialism ; the 
economics and organisation of production are 
the basis of the Socialist economics and or- 
ganisation of distribution.* 

This gradual transition with periods of 
rapid change is peculiarly the characteristic 
of British conditions, where parties do not 
hold to principles as dogmas, but are prepared 
(within limits, of course) to be guided by 
experience. Hence it is that in the evolution 
of a new political organisation in this country 
it appeals not to one but to both the preceding 
political parties for recruits, and embodies 
principles from both, unified by reason of its 
more commanding and comprehensive point 
of view. It is very nearly true that new wine 
can be poured into old bottles. The new 
biological offspring has much in common with 
its decaying parents — even when it is starting 
upon a totally new line of development. 

* It is worth while noting that this is also true of modern 
Toryism. The Toryism of the end of the Liberal epoch is 
a new creation owing to the achievement of that epoch. 
Cf. p. 140 f.n. 


The characteristics of our time of apparent 
reaction are as follows : 

The decline in vigour of the old progressive 
party and the activity within it of narrow 
visioned and one idea groups : 

The formation outside it of a nucleus of a 
new political party, building itself upon fun- 
damental political theories which reflect the 
pressure of current problems, and which there- 
fore are careful to separate themselves from 
the fundamental principles of the old parties 
legislative and administrative, and to start a 
series of experiments upon new ideas : 

The almost unconscious change in the 
principles which underlie administration and 
legislation, in the direction of the principles 
upon which the new party rests,® and this 
tendency cannot be obscured by the reaction- 
ary doings of the party in power during the 
transition : 

The steady growth of what may be called 
an unassimilated mass of political support, 
the result of social instinct rather than of 
individual reason, and also the result of a law 
of intellectual gravitation by which a small 
body made weighty, because it knows its own 
mind, draws mass to it : 

- The explanation of this is, that fiuitful political ideas 
cannot anticipate very far vital social movements, and that 
these movements have begun to transform society even 
when it is busy combatting and rejecting their more 
general and absolute expression. 



If in the meantime the reaction has been 
violent and the enfeebled party distressingly 
impotent — as has happened in our own time— 
the more healthy sections of the old party 
co-operate with the new party, and so by a 
process which is not altogether assimilation, 
but very much like one of sexual reproduction, 
the new political organism which is to carry 
on the life of the epoch is at last formed. 

This party flourishes until in due time its 
vitalising idea becomes feeble by success, and 
it becomes pregnant with a new political life 
to which it gives birth and then passes away. 

This is the normal process. Repression, 
force, revolution, catastrophe modify it, but this 
is the order of birth, virility and decay which 
has hitherto guided all political parties. 

The Socialist party will be no exception to 
the rule. Away beyond into the eternal future 
we cannot go. The only thing we are certain 
about is that Socialism itself will create 
problems hardly dreamt of as yet, and that in 
its bosom will germinate a new social life 
which can be brought to birth only through 
the gateway of death and dissolution. But 
sufficient for the day is the good thereof. 

To solve the problem of poverty by co- 
ordinating the various functions of society; 
to quicken the social instinct by making the 
community play a greater part in individual 
life ; to discover to men, wearied after a 


fruitless search for liberty, that the paradise 
they sought is to be found in faithful service 
to their group and ultimately to humanity; 
to bring law and ethics into vital relationship 
with life ; to create from the anarchy and 
injustice of the present day, order and fair- 
ness ; to make the State a hive of busy 
workers enjoying their rights only by virtue 
of their services ; and to use as the power of 
action from which these changes are to come 
the conception that the State is the comple- 
ment of the individual and legislation a foim 
of individual will — that is to be the task and 
the method of the Socialist Epoch. 


Our experience has shown that the owner- 
ship and use of monopolies essential to the 
production of wealth, like land, and of the 
capital required under the factory and asso- 
ciated labour system, determine the method of 
distribution, and the extent to which the indi- 
vidual members of a community share in its 
wealth and prosperity. 

So long as land is privately owned it can 
exact unjust tolls from public and private 
enterprise, and its owner can dip his hands in 
wealth created, generally in spite of his opposi- 
tion, and nearly always without his help. 

This is no place to discuss in detail the 
merits of the rival schools of Land National- 
ization and the Single Tax in any of its 
forms. Suffice it to say that not only is the 
Single Tax wrong in its economic theory, and 
inaccurate in its description of itself, but it 
would fail to solve the problem of private 
ownership of the land monoply. The Socialist 
must support the nationalisation of the land 
itself and not merely the nationalisation of 
portion of rent. 



But when the land has been nationalised, 
the private ownership of industrial capital 
will still present the problems which arise 
when the supply of public needs is left to the 
care of private interests. The nationalisation 
of the land will not solve industrial problems. 
Unemployment alternating with overtime, 
riches with poverty, the trading in luxuries 
and the pandering to vices and weaknesses 
which private interest encourages without a 
thought of the wider consequences because 
it is concerned only with the more immedi- 
ate result of profit upon the transaction, all 
point to the same conclusion — the control 
of industrial capital by the community. 

If one could rely upon moral checks on 
individual conduct, or if it were sufficient to 
set bounds to anti-social action by legislative 
enactment, a mingling of public law and 
private character might be a suf&cient safe- 
guard for the public, and thus the problem of 
the use of industrial capital might be solved on 
lines individualistic in the main. No doubt, 
this solution would preserve to us some of the 
advantages of the individualist regime which, 
were it possible, we might well take pains to 
preserve. But when we survey the tendency 
of the times, the rise of finance in succession 
to legitimate business, the soul-less character 
of most of our business organisations, the 
strangling pressure which business interests 
place upon moral impulse, we must give up 


in despair any hope that in this way can the 
problem be solved. Public ownership must 
be resorted to. Trade must be organised like 
a fleet or an education system. 

No doubt within the limits of the existing 
social organisation, much could be done to aid 
a more equitable and economic distribution of 
wealth. The incidence of taxation could be 
readjusted so that incomes which represent 
services rendered might be relieved, whilst 
those representing rents and monopoly profits 
might be more heavily burdened. Following 
the idea that what appears to be over-produc- 
tion is in reality under-consumption,* caused 
by a method of distribution which necessitates 
a wasteful and harmful accumulation of 
wealth at one end and so acts as a bar to the 
steady and uninterrupted flow of wealth 
through Society, we may go some length yet 
in this present system in the direction of increa- 
sing the consuming efficiency of the public and 
thus maintain a steady demand for labour. But 
the key to the position is production, and so 
long as production is in the hands of competing 
private individuals, demand and supply caa 

• Writing of this, one must acknowledge the splendid 
services which Mr. J. A. Hobson has done, both to the 
science of economics and the art of government, in working 
out and applying his theory of under-consumption, which 
was the basis of the Physiology of Industry, written by 
him and Mr. Mummery in 1889. 

never be kept in touch with each other except 
by periodic industrial crises, when some of the 
accumulation is scattered. 

For the facts are these. Every producer 
to-day acts as though he meant to capture the 
whole market for himself, and so long as 
there is an efEective demand to satisfy, he pro- 
duces to the utmost capacity of his produc- 
ing machinery. In times of confidence he is 
over confident. He does not think of the many 
streams of produce flowing in to take the place 
of the materials drawn off by the consumer ; 
he only thinks of how the stream issuing from 
his own works may be as great in volume as 
possible. Then, his people are working over- 
time ; they are making unusually high wages ; 
and, as they are living in a rush and are 
over-exhausted, they spend a high percentage 
of their income uneconomically. The inevi- 
table glut takes place. In two years the 
unregulated powers of production can produce 
enough to satisfy three years of consumption. 

Hence it is evident that however desirable 
it may be to increase the powers of consump- 
tion enjoyed by the wage earning classes, that 
of itself will not obviate industrial crises, 
because it will only be a further incentive to 
the individual producer to produce a greater 
proportion of the markets' demands. A rising 
demand is a spur upon supply. It is also 
obvious that abstention, thrift and temperance 
on the part of the wage earners will not avoid 

unemployment periods, (although such conduct 
might rob them of their worst experiences) 
because these periods are not caused by the 
fault of consumers. They are the fault 
of producers. There can be no steadiness 
of industry so long as there is anarchy in 
production. The flow of production must 
be regulated at its source. The instruments 
of production must be socialised before unem- 
ployment is obviated, and the problem of 
distribution solved. 

This is supposed to be tantamount to saying 
that there must be no further improvements in 
machinery, no further advances in industrial 
organisation, no more saving of effort. But 
that is a mistake. Under Socialism, a portion 
of the national production will be earmarked 
for experiments, and there will be more 
room for, and encouragement given to 
inventive initiative and experimentine with 
new processes than under the present system 
which, by trusting to individuals with limited 
capital, by encouraging the growth of monopo- 
lies, and by stunting human capacity is, in 
spite of its boasts to the contrary, pre-eminently 
unfitted to develop to the utmost either the 
human or the mechanical elements in produc- 
tion. The Economic epoch cannot complete 

So far from being a static state, Socialism, 
by raising each worker into the position of 
co-partnership with all other workers and by 


proportioning reward to approved honest 
effort, will call for such an application 
of science to industry as the world has 
not yet seen. It will provide a constant 
incentive to improve the means of produc- 
tion because such improvement will not 
be a menace to labour, but a direct and 
certain cause of more leisure and comfort to 
it. Under Socialism, one may rest assured, 
national production will not only be charged 
with the expenses of the political state, but 
the wear and tear of the industrial state — e.g., 
old-age pensions, improvements in machinery, 
scientific experiments — will be duly provided 

I have been aware when writing of the 
problem of distribution, that our economists 
have done their best to deny its existence 
altogether in the way in which I have been 
considering it. Marshall tells us that "capital 
in general and labour in general " are re- 
warded "in the measure of their respective 
" (marginal) efficiencies,"* a somewhat vague 
statement which leaves the reader to answer 
for himself the question which immediately 
occurs : " Efficiencies in what ? " But the 
most detailed examination of the subject that 
has been made by an orthodox economist in 
recent years is that by Professor Smart.| His 

* Principles of Economics, London, 1898, p. 617. 

t TAe DisMiutien 0/ Income, hondort, 1899, 


conclusion is that there is enough "rough 
justice " in the present system to enable him 
to call it " Distribution according to Service." 
The public, according to him, by making 
demands and by patronising or neglecting to 
patronise, rewards with wealth or dooms with 
failure. This, however, is not the case. The 
machinery of production, of financing, of 
buying and selling is not run by the public, 
but by interested parties. The public have 
not placed South African mine magnates in 
Park Lane, and English workmen in two or 
three-roomed houses in dull, sunless streets. 
The conditions under which property is held, 
and under which the function of production is 
carried on, the relation between the market 
and the factory on the one hand and the home 
and the factory on the other — in short the 
whole industrial mechanism, determine the 
proportion of national income assigned to 
each of the classes in the community.* 

The conclusion to which we are driven is 
that those economists in whose hands econo- 
nomics is simply a descriptive and not a 
critical science, are compelled to accept the 
present state of distribution as something 
which has to be defended with a mild amount 

* It is true that Professor Smart lays down as a con- 
dition to his conclusion stated above, " given private 
property." But it is not " private " property which is 
the important thing at all, but the present organisation 
and use of private property. 


of enthusiasm. The Socialist who regards 
economics as a branch of Sociological science 
and who illuminates it by discriminating 
appreciation or depreciation of the social 
conditions which exist at present, is not con- 
tent with those descriptive exercises and those 
ingenious apologies for what is simply 
because it is. With him the science of econo- 
mics and the art of government go hand in 
hand. In that respect he goes back to Adam 
Smith. He is not content with Professor 
Marshall's characteristically inconclusive 
" efficiencies," or with Professor Smart's mis- 
leading " given private property." He does 
not think that the existing distribution is just ; 
he regards the character of the industrial 
mechanism as the determinant of how distri- 
bution is to be made ; and from that stand- 
point he sees the inadequacy of all personal 
and individualist theories accounting for 
mal-distribution, such as drunkenness and 
improvidence, and he labours, in consequence, 
for a readjustment of the parts of the 

At the same time he takes no mechanical 
view of the problem. He Imows that an 
absolutely accurate distribution according to 
merit is quite impossible. The problem is 
biological, and is therefore incapable of a 
nice mathematical solution down to moral 
decimal points. Nor indeed is this necessary. 


We do not object to the present system 
because it fails to discriminate between 
desserts measured by ;£"ioo and those measured 
^y £^°° ^nd sixpence. We object to it because 
it dooms whole classes to inadequate food, 
inadequate mental equipment, inadequate 
opportunities to become human beings, and 
all that Socialism and a Socialist system of 
distribution can claim to do is to destroy social 
parasites, and secure that everyone who gives 
service to Society shall receive from Society 
an ample measure of opportunities to live and 
enjoy living. 

Attempts have been made from time to 
time to lay down limits to the socialising 
process, and settle by a prion logical methods 
that certain trades are in their nature indi- 
vidualistic, and, therefore, incapable of being 
included within the scope of Socialist recon- 

That may or may not be so. We are not 
in a position at the present time to hold any 
very definite opinion on the subject. The 
character of these trades— e.j'., the artistic 
group — will not remain as it is at present 
after Society has taken upon itself a different 
organic form. It may be that they will fall 
into a proper place in the organisation — it 
may be that their necessities will be the soil 
from which is to spring the new growth of 
social idea which is to characterise the epoch 
after Socialism. But, whether the one or the 

other happens, matters little to us at present. 

The function of the Socialist theory is to 
guide. The seaman, in his voyages across the 
seas, steers by certain marks, and at certain 
points alters his course and follows new marks 
when the old can lead him no further. So 
with Socialism. Its method is not the archi- 
tectural and dogmatic one of building straight 
away from bottom to top, but the organic 
and experimental one of relieving imme- 
diate and pressing difficulties on a certain 
plan, and tn accordance with a certain scheme of 

We have, therefore, begun with municipal 
administration, and have proceeded from 
water to trams and from light to milk, the 
necessity for the latter developments being 
suggested partly by the principle which un- 
derlay the first experiments, and partly because 
as a matter of experience certain definite 
grievances met us as we went on. 

From administration to legislation is a 
natural and necessary step; and as pressing 
matters like housing and trams were ready for 
treatment, and as practical plans had already 
been prepared for their settlement, they were 
first of all dealt with in Municipal Socialism ; 
so in National Socialism the harvest which is 
ripe and most easily reaped will be gathered 
first, and the experience gained in reaping it 


will be used when more difficult harvests have 
to be brought in. Thus, we shall begin the 
process of nationalizing capital with services 
like the railways, or with exploitations of na- 
tional resources like mines ; or we shall begin 
the process of industrial reconstruction by ag- 
rarian policies which will bring the towns into 
contact with the country, re-populate the de- 
serted villages, and re-till the waste fields. 
As the problem of the unemployable and the 
unemployed is most pressing, and as it is the 
direct result of some of the most glaring 
follies and imperfections of our present system, 
it will afford the first opportunities of es- 
tablishing Socialism on a large scale. This 
will open out the way for us, and further steps 
will come naturally. Solvitur ambulando, not 
stc volo — laboratory experiment, not revolution 
— is the method ot Socialism emerged from 
the Utopian and pseudo-scientific stages. 

It has been said that this method will post- 
pone the Socialist millennium till doomsday. 
But the reply is obvious. Social resistance to 
change is much more quickly and surely 
overcome by these methods of organic modifi- 
cation than by any Utopian revolutionary 

In the same way torrents of printed matter 
have been issued from the press, discussing how 
property is to be held under Socialism — and 


all to no purpose. The Socialist creed upon 
property is perfectly simple. It considers that 
property can be legitimately held only as the 
reward for services. It condemns the existing 
state of things, because those who do no 
service own most property.* Socialism is, 
therefore, a defence of property against the 
existing order. As, however, it regards the 
living factor in production — man — as being 
of more consequence than the dead factors — 
land and capital, — it seeks to set limits upon 
the employment of property for the purpose of 
keeping men in economic subjection, and it 
proposes to organise Society in such a way as 
to render it necessary that the services upon 
which property is held are continuous, 
and not as to-day, stored up, so that a Marl- 
borough, who fought a few battles and had a 
wife who could manage her Sovereign two 
centuries ago, could found a family and put 
it in a position to consume other people's 
wealth for ever and ever. To secure this 
aim. Socialism need not refuse to recognise 
the right of inheritance. Its business is 
not to prevent accumulation, or prohibit its 
transference, but to provide that such accumu- 

* Cf. " How small a part of all the labour performed in 
England, from the lowest paid to the highest, is done by 
persons working for their own benefit. Under the present 
system of industry this incitement [property in labour's 
produce] does not exist in the great majority of cases." 
Mill, Political Economy, bk. II., chap. 1. 


lation is not made at the public expense, and 
not employed to keep the public in subjection 
for all generations. 

But, on the other hand, the Socialist con- 
tends that the community, as well as the in- 
dividual, creates values which it should hold 
as property and devote to common interests. 
Every valid argument which establishes the 
right of individuals to own and use property, 
is equally applicable to a defence of the 
community's right to own and use property. 
Social income, in the shape of taxes and rates, 
is not private income appropriated, and the 
theory and method of taxation should be 
revised, so that values created by the public 
may find their way into the public exchequer. 
This would lead to a substantial redistribution 
of wealth, because whilst tending to deprive 
parastic classes of their nourishment, it would 
ease industrious classes of burdens and provide 
nourishment for the active functions of the 
community. Here opens out another broad 
avenue leading to the Socialist state. 

Similarly we have had acute discussion 
which has been worse than useless upon labour 
notes, coins, and other forms of Socialist cur- 
rency and standards of value. At the present 
moment all that the Socialist need do is to lay 
down and defend as a general principle that 
reward for work should be certain and suffi- 


cient, and that full opportunity should be 
given to each adult to work at some remunera- 
tive employment. Whether our successors are 
to calculate in labour notes or in pounds ster- 
ling, our successors will have to decide when 
the application of the Socialist principle has 
gone so far as to make the matter a practical 
one. Some things will have happened in the 
interval, we may depend upon it, which will 
have a very important bearing on the question. 
Again, not stc volo, but solvttur ambulando ! 

A misunderstanding regarding the Socialist 
attitude to labour-saving machinery is equally 
widespread. At present, as I have explained, 
such machinery is used by a class in the 
interests of that class primarily. The con- 
venience of the machine is the first considera- 
tion in industrial organisation. If it does 
skilled work the skilled workman is displaced, 
if it does heavy work the strong workman is 
displaced, if it splits up complicated work 
into simple and automatic processes women 
and children take the places of men. With- 
out any attempt being made to protect human 
interests, to conserve social experience, to 
guard spiritual growths like the family, we 
permit Society to be moulded by the opera- 
tions of machinery. To-day we have in many 
towns — of which those engaged in the boot 
and shoe and hosiery trades may be taken as 
examples — a movement going on which will 


end in the transformation of women and girls 
into the bread-winners of the family, and of 
men and boys into casual labourers or habitual 
loafers. When this tendency is pointed out 
to well-meaning people they adihit its potency, 
but shrug their shoulders in helples^ despair. 
What can be done ? The men rnust go. The 
machine, like the young cuckoo, inust wriggle 
the other fledglings out of the nest to make 
room for itself. It is sad, but inevitable ! 

The Socialist objects to this. He is deter- 
mined ^to make the machine a social instru- 
ment, to make it serve Society and not 
control Society. He is, therefore, not against 
mechanical invention. "He is no Luddite. His 
idea is that such aids to labour should be con- 
trolled in the common interest. Moral con- 
siderations should in the main determine the 
form of social organisatiofi, and the non- 
social use of economic forces should be 
put an end to before they destroy the 
moral growths which Society at present shows. 
The Socialist welcomes every new machine, 
but demands that it be used as part of a moral 
organisation, and not put into operation under 
the control of sectional, interests. Machinery 
must amplify life, not profits ;* it must there- 

* The argument that the community benefits by the 
cheap products of machinery is good up to a point. The 
cheapness of sweating, the cheapness which destroys crafts- 
manship, the cheapness which means unemployment, is the 
cheapness of deterioration. Socialism also means cheap- 
ness, but an economic cheapness. 


fbfe be Subject to social conttol, arid nbt class 

Withili the sCopb of this communal oirganisa- 
tion of ihdustiy thdre Will be a nfefed lor 
Smaller grodps, such as tradd Unions, churches, 
familie~s. Itideed, the larger organisation will 
greatly depend upon the sillallfer groups for 
its Success. As the domttiuilal Organisation 
becomes fllore efficient, the individual will 
respond with more intelligence and more char- 
afctet, and as this individual thuS irSsfjonds, these 
smaller grtiupis will become more important. 
Trade unionism keepitig the communal in- 
dustrial organisation in the closest touch with 
the needs of the workers ; a church attending 
with enthusiastic care to the life, and not 
merely to the dognxaj of Christianity ; a family 
organisation built upon a sound economic 
basis and embodying, in as pure a form as 
humanity will allow, the spiritual needs of 
men, and safeguarding at the same time the 
rights of the community, would be precious 
organs in the body communal. 

One of the assumptions which bear up the 
fabric of Socialist thought and expectation 
is that as Society approaches in its organisa- 
tion to the Socialist condition, the individual 
will respond to the moral responsibilities 
which that condition will lay upon him. The 
individual is in tune with his Society, and for 
that reason Socialism can purify the gross. 

1 86 

blundering, vulgar thing to-day called indi- 
vidualism into an impulse which will seek to 
express itself and find its liberty in social 
conduct through service to the community. 

Hence it is that the key idea to the under- 
standing of Socialism is not a wiping-out but 
a transformation, not a re-creation but a fulfil- 
ment. The impulses and appetites of the old 
are to be carried on into the new, but they 
are to run in different channels and demand 
different nourishment. 

At the threshold of Socialist speculation 
stands as sentinel the Law of Continuity, and 
as guides the Laws of Variation. 

Printed by Wadinorth &• Co., The Rydal Press, Keighley. 



FOR some time it has been felt that there is a 
deplorable lack in this country of a Socialist 
literature more exhaustive and systematic than 
pamphlets or newspaper articles. In every other 
country where the Socialist movement is vigorous, 
such a literature exists, and owing to it Socialism 
has taken a firmer hold upon the intellectual 
classes, and, amongst Socialists themselves, its 
theories and aims are better understood than they 
are here. 

Comparing the output of Socialist literature 
in Germany or France with Great Britain, one 
must be struck with the ephemeral nature of the 
great bulk of the matter which we publish, and the 
almost complete absence of any attempts to deal 
exhaustively with Socialism in its many bearings 
in economics, history, sociology and ethics. This 
failure is all the more to be regretted, because 
just as the special development of British indus- 
trialism afforded the basis for much of the con- 
structive work of foreign Socialists half a century 
ago, so the growth of British democratic institu- 
tions and the characteristics of British political 
methods have a special and direct bearing upon 
Socialist theories and tactics. 

It is also disquieting to think that, on the one 
hand, the intellectual life of our country is becom- 
ing more and more attached in its interests and 
sympathies to reaction, and that, on the other, so 
many who lift up their voices against backward 
tendencies either look behind with regretful regard 
upon policies which are exhausted and can no 
longer guide us, or frankly confess that they are dis- 
consolate without hope. 

To the promoters of this Library, Socialism 
appears to be not only the ideal which has to be 
grasped before the benumbing pessimism which 
lies upon the minds of would-be reformers can be 
removed, but also the one idea which is guiding 
such progressive legislation and administration 
to-day as are likely to be of permanent value. But 
those experimenting with it are only groping ; are 
working with an instrument they do not under- 
stand ; are applying an idea they have not 
grasped ; and it is therefore believed that as a 
practical contribution to political principles and 
methods, the Library may be of some value. 

The Library, however, with more assurance of 
definite success, will aim at providing studies in 
Socialism, or from Socialistic standpoints, which 
will be stimulating to the Socialist movement, and 
which may do something to knit together the 
different sections of Socialist opinion and activity 
in this country. It will contain translations of the 
best works of foreign Socialists, as well as contribu: 
tions from our own writers. 

It follows that the volumes will not be selected 

because they advocate any particular school of 
Socialist thought, but because they are believed 
to be worthy expositions of the school to which 
they belong. 

April, 1905. 


I. — Socialism and Positive Science, by Pro- 
fessor Enrico Ferri. i/- and^i/6. 3rd 

II. — Socialism and Society. By J. Ramsay 
MacDonald. i/- and 1/6. 3rd Edition. 

III. — Socialist Studies. By J. Jaurfes. 

Socialism and the Drink Traffic. By Philip 
Snowden. In preparation. 

Capitalism and the Native Races. By Sydney 
Olivier, C.M.G. 

Progress of Socialism in England. By Sydney 
Ball, M.A. 

Socialism in Parliament. By Members of the 
Administrative Council of the Independent 
Labour Party. 

Translation of Works by E. Vandervelde 
(Belgium), K. Kautsky (Germany), E. 
Bernstein (Germany). 

These will be followed by volumes on : 

Socialism and Democracy. 
Socialism and the Rural Population. 
Socialism and the Position of Women. 

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