1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Socialism
SOCIALISM (see 25.301).—Socialism is at once a theory, or rather a whole body of theories, and a movement, or rather a number of movements more or less closely connected. The name has been used during the past century to describe many different social theories, in all of which a common character has been perceived. In recent times it has come to be used less with reference to any definite theory than for the purpose of describing the movements in various countries which have adopted the name or have declared their adhesion to Socialism. It is thus possible, in setting out to give a summary account of Socialism, to describe it either by its connotation, that is to say, in terms of the ideas for which it stands, or by its denotation, that is, in terms of the groups and parties which profess allegiance to it. But neither of these methods of description is by itself satisfactory, nor is it possible by either, or even by a combination of both, to arrive at a satisfactory or adequate definition of Socialism. The word is used, and has been used increasingly in recent years, in a number of different and frequently overlapping senses. It has changed its meaning with time: but the changes have not served to clarify it, but rather to increase the number of different senses in which the term is used.
It would be well to begin by ruling altogether out from the scope of this article certain popular uses of the term which have been current especially during the past generation. The well-known phrase, “We are all Socialists now,” and the constant references to “socialistic legislation,” only serve to obscure the real meanings which attach to the word. When it is said that, “We are all Socialists now,” all that is meant is that everybody nowadays is prepared to agree that a greater measure of governmental intervention both in industry and in the affairs of society generally is necessary than was currently regarded as necessary or even possible 100 years ago.
The phrase “socialistic legislation” again is frequently used to cover almost any extension of governmental activity in the sphere either of industry or of provision under the State or under local government auspices for the needs of the people. The phrase “socialistic taxation” is used, with a greater approximation to accuracy, in reference to those forms of taxation which aim not merely at producing revenue for the public authorities, but at bringing about an actual readjustment in the distribution of income in the community, arrived at by the unregulated operation of capitalist economic forces. Again, almost any extension in the sphere of local government action, such as the taking over of a tramway system or the establishment of banking or insurance facilities by a local authority, is frequently referred to as “municipal socialism,” even if the public body which inaugurates this policy does not consist of members who profess any allegiance to, or have any sympathy with, the doctrines of any Socialist party or group. All these and similar uses of the word “Socialism” are here ruled out of consideration.
The word “Socialism” first came into use in the third or fourth decade of the 19th century in England and France. The first-known literary reference to it occurs in the “Poor Man's Guardian” in 1833; but it is believed that the word was occasionally used at an earlier date in both France and England. In Great Britain it was most frequently used during the first half of the 19th century in reference to the doctrines associated with the name of Robert Owen and his disciples, and to the theories of the anti-capitalist economists, such as W. Thompson, who were largely affected by Owenite teaching. In France the name similarly attached itself to the doctrines of thinkers of whom the most important were followers of St. Simon and Fourier. Its use then spread much more rapidly on the continent of Europe than in Great Britain, and it was mainly in connexion with the growth of continental Socialist movements (Louis Blanc in 1848; the First International Working Men's Association in the 'sixties and the Paris Commune of 1871) that it was used by English writers, until it was reimported into Great Britain as the name applied to a constructive body of doctrines in the early 'eighties, especially under the auspices of H. M. Hyndman and the Democratic Federation (subsequently the Social Democrat Federation).
It is important to realize that in all its modern meanings the word “Socialism” refers definitely to doctrines and movements which owe their rise to the growth of large-scale production and the capitalist system in industry. It is, indeed, sometimes applied to theories and Utopian speculations, such as those of Sir Thomas More, which have no direct reference to any particular stage of social evolution and are merely attempts to outline the structure of an ideal commonwealth. But, although such Utopias as those of Plato and More may present features of resemblance to the doctrines of modern Socialism, there is no real connexion between these and the theories or attitudes towards property which are sometimes comprehended under the terms “mediaeval Socialism” and “mediaeval Communism.” Socialism, as a body of doctrine and as a movement applicable to modern conditions—and these are the senses of the term which matter to the student—made its appearance when the changes in methods of production and transport, which are usually described as the “Industrial Revolution,” had created the modern working class or “proletariat,” and had caused this class to make the attempt to organize for common protection against the the evil effects of new industrial conditions.
Modern Socialism, although it has claimed many adherents belonging to other classes, is thus essentially a working-class or “proletarian” movement, in that it is based upon and directly due to the rise of the “proletariat” as a distinct social class capable of independent class organization and suffering under a sense of injustice and inhibition. The Socialism of the Owenite period serves in certain respects very clearly to reveal this essential character of the movement. Owen himself has indeed been described by subsequent social thinkers—by Marx, for example— as a “Utopian” Socialist; but the rise of the Owenite movement is very clearly and directly traceable to the actual economic conditions of the early 19th century. It was out of his experience as a factory manager and owner at New Lanark and elsewhere that Owen developed his Socialist doctrines; and, in the minds of most of his followers even more than Owen himself, these doctrines possessed always a close and definite relation to the rise of the working class to social consciousness and to the possibility of social power. Thus, while Owen was expounding his doctrine of ideal Coöperative or Socialist communities, and endeavouring to demonstrate by practical experiment possibilities of achieving Socialism by the foundation of such communities in the midst of a rapidly developing capitalist environment, many of those who were most affected by his doctrines were engaged either, as economists, in developing their critique of the current economic theories based on capitalism, or, as leaders in the new-born working-class movement, in endeavouring to organize the “proletariat” for the winning of control over industry and over the machinery of Society. The Grand National Consolidated Trades Union, in which Owenite ideas played so large a part, was organized by men who were aiming not merely at the protection of the working class in face of the adverse conditions created by the new factory system, but at a definite transformation of the industrial order and the winning of control over industry for the “productive classes.” This aim was even more clearly defined in the other great “Owenite” union of the period, the Builder's Union, and its abortive plan of 1833 for the formation of a Grand National Gild of Builders. The Chartist movement, which was largely influenced by Owenite and Socialist ideas, was definitely aiming at the conquest of political power by the organized working class with a view to social transformation.
Socialism in Great Britain thus came into existence as: (1) a challenge to the orthodox economic theories of Ricardo and other writers; and (2) an attempt to win power in Society for the organized working class. It was, however, left for later thinkers, and above all for Karl Marx (1818-83), to take up where they had been dropped by the original English pioneers both the anti-capitalist economic teachings and the endeavour to build up the working-class movement into a constructive force aiming at the transformation of the social order. The Socialism of Karl Marx is frequently contrasted with the Socialism of previous thinkers as being “scientific,” whereas their Socialism was “Utopian.” But, in fact, Marx's Socialism was very largely based upon that of the earlier thinkers and working-class leaders, although he for the first time formulated into a definite system the views and the policy which they had only suggested and sought after.
All modern Socialism, even that of the schools which repudiate or at least profess no allegiance to Marx, has been profoundly influenced by him. This applies even to those schools of Anarchist Communists and French and Italian Syndicalists who seem to have least in common with Marxian teaching; for, even in their case, many Marxian ideas have blended with the ideas which they have derived from other Socialist and quasi-Socialist thinkers, such as P. J. Proudhon; and, although they have interpreted the Marxian teaching differently, a great deal of it has found its way into their systems and policies.
Marx's first important contribution to Socialist thinking, The Communist Manifesto (1847), which was drafted jointly by him and Friedrich Engels, is generally recognized as the starting point of the modern Socialist movement. His Das Kapital, of which the first volume was published in 1867, is the working-out into a system of the most vital ideas originally presented in The Communist Manifesto. These works have, of course, been translated into practically all European languages, and their ideas have generally passed into the common stock of European Socialist thought. This has hitherto been true of Great Britain in a less degree than of any other important industrial country; but even English Socialism began in the 'eighties on an essentially Marxian foundation, and, although Marx fell into disfavour with British Socialists in the 'nineties and in the earlier years of the present century, there has recently been an important revival of the study of his works among the more radical section of the British working-class movement. In other countries the organized Socialist movement is in practically all cases definitely Marxian, and bases its thinking and its propaganda throughout on Marxian terminology and Marxian ideas. Thus we find that, as divergent currents have again and again appeared in European Socialism, the name of Marx and his fundamental conceptions have been invoked, for the purpose of justifying widely divergent policies and conceptions. During the past few years, for example, a great pamphleteering controversy has been proceeding between Nikolai Lenin on the one side and Karl Kautsky on the other, representing two very different tendencies in European Socialism. Each of these writers bases his contentions on an almost theological reverence for the words of Marx, and seeks to justify his position by copious quotations from Marx's books and manifestos.
In the criticism which has been directed against Marx by orthodox economists in many countries, attention has been paid mainly to his theory of value, and only in a considerably less degree to his theory of history. This is unfortunate; for there is no doubt that the theory of value has played a quite secondary part to the so-called “materialist conception of history” in the influence which Marx's teaching has exercised on the modern working-class movement. The theory of value, as it was presented by Marx, and his attempt to build a theoretical economic system on the idea of labour as the source of value and exploitation as consisting in the appropriation by a privileged class, the owners of the means of production, of the surplus value created by labour, was mainly a criticism and inversion, to suit Socialist ends, of the current economics of Marx's own day. Like Thompson and the earlier English economists to whom he owed so much, Marx took the Ricardian theory of value and drew from it conclusions by no means acceptable to orthodox economic theorists. Undoubtedly his ideas of “surplus value,” and exploitation resulting from the individual appropriation of “surplus value,” played an important part in creating the sense of injustice and oppression among the workers; but by themselves they would never have sufficed to give Marx his dominant position as the theorist of modern Socialism.
This position depends far more on his theory of history, the effect of which was to give to those members of the working class who encountered his teaching the sense of possessing a mission and of having on their side the great world forces of social transformation. Interpreting historical changes as the result of the operation of economic forces, Marx insisted that to each stage in the evolution of the means of production there corresponds an evolution in the forms of political society and in the class structure of society. The industrial system of the 19th century, he claimed, had called into existence a new social class, the propertyless, wage-earning “proletariat”; for, although there had been capitalists and wage-earners in earlier stages of social evolution, the economic structure of Society had not before been based upon the dominance of the capitalists as a class. Nor had the “proletariat” been called into existence as a class, confronting the possessing capitalists throughout the industrial system in all the countries of the world which had reached the capitalist phase. The next stage in social evolution, according to Marx, would be the rise to power of the “proletariat,” and, just as the capitalists had risen to power and displaced or absorbed the privileged classes with which social authority had previously rested, so the “proletariat” under the system of large-scale industry would improve its organization and increase its strength until it was able to do battle with, and to overthrow, the capitalist class. In expounding this theory of “economic determinism” or the “materialist conception of history,” Marx made a number of prophecies concerning the actual future of capitalist industrialism which have not thus far been at all completely verified. The progressive elimination of the small capitalist, the aggregation of the control of capital into fewer and fewer hands, the progressive “misery” of the “proletariat,” which Marx prophesied, are forecasts in which truth and falsehood are intertwined. But these prophecies concerning the actual course of events are in no sense vital to his central idea, which is that of the gradual rise to power of the “proletariat” or working class, and the conquest by it of economic authority, resulting necessarily in the transformation of the political structure of Society and in the abolition of social classes.
It is easy to see that this doctrine was bound to exercise a strong fascination over the minds of those men and women of the working classes who were brought into contact with it. Whereas, without some such theory they were conscious only of the enormous strength of the forces to which they were subject, and of their manifest weakness as almost property-less wage-earners, living in constant insecurity, at the mercy of trade fluctuations which resulted periodically in widespread unemployment, Marx gave them the sense of fulfilling an historic mission, and of having on their side a world-force far more powerful than the huge economic and political strength which seemed to be in the possession of the ruling classes of the day. It is this one thing, and one thing only, that explains the veneration in which Marx is held throughout practically the whole Socialist movement. It was he, who, more than anyone else, gave the working class a sense of power, and imported into their efforts towards organization and concerted resistance to the evils to which they found themselves subject a conscious purpose not merely of combating capitalism, but also of replacing it.
In the earlier article some account was given of the rise of Socialist parties in various European countries. This rise continued at an increasing pace in later years, a great impetus having been given to the Socialist forces in almost all parts of Europe by the circumstances of the World War.
There was in 1921 in every industrialized country at least one Socialist party, possessing in the majority of cases a considerable representation in its national Parliament. Indeed, in many countries there had come into being more than one Socialist party; for the process of unification of Socialist political forces which had been proceeding steadily up to the outbreak of the war gave place to a separatist tendency, which resulted in a regrouping of forces in most of the countries in which the movement was strong. The first cause of these divisions was the attitude of Socialists towards the outbreak of the World War. In almost all belligerent countries the Socialist parties became divided over the issues of the war. In some cases these divisions of opinion resulted in actual cleavages within the various parties; in others the parties held together, but acute divisions of opinion continued inside them. These differences were greatly accentuated by the Russian revolutions of 1917, which inevitably exercised a very powerful influence on Socialist opinion throughout the world. Just as, in its earlier days as an organized political movement, Socialism always tended to look back to the Paris Commune of 1871, it now even more definitely looks back to the Russian revolutions of 1917, upon which the most acute divisions of opinion in the world of Socialism to-day are based. Any attempt, therefore, to analyze the forces at work in the Socialist movement of the various countries in 1921 must begin by taking into account the new alignment of opinion caused by the Russian revolutions.
The first Russian revolution of 1917 was universally acclaimed by Socialists throughout the world. It meant for them the overthrow of Tsardom and the destruction of the most powerful and complete absolutist monarchy left in the world. Moreover, refugees from Russia had played an important part in the Socialist movement in almost all countries in which it had become organized. It was not the first of the Russian revolutions but the coup of Nov. 1917 that divided acutely the Socialists of the various countries. Everywhere the left wing of the Socialists acclaimed the Bolshevik Revolution, while the right wing was hostile to what it regarded as the overthrow of the “democratic” institutions which had been introduced under the Kerensky regime.
During the following years, from 1918-21, the differences within the Socialist ranks resulting from the Bolshevik Revolution were steadily accentuated. Under the auspices of the Russian Bolsheviks, or Communists as they now call themselves, with a definite reference back to The Communist Manifesto of 1847, a new international organization of Socialism, the Third or Moscow International, was inaugurated, and an appeal was made to the “proletariat” in all countries to rally to this new body, of which the fundamental ideas were the overthrow of the capitalist regime by the intensive prosecution of the class war, involving the use of force, and the assumption by the “proletariat” of dictatorship over Society during the “transitional period,” which would be necessary both for the combating of the attempts of the “counter-revolution” to regain power, and for the laying of the foundations of a Socialist or Communist society free from class distinctions. During the years after the Bolshevik Revolution these Communist doctrines gradually spread over Europe, and resulted in the formation in most countries of Communist groups and parties of varying degrees of importance. Sometimes these began by working as groups within the existing Socialist parties, and sometimes they succeeded in winning over to their side a majority of the older Socialist parties, which thus became Communist. In other cases, however, the Communists, unable to command a majority in the Socialist parties in other countries, founded new and rival parties of their own.
Thus in 1921 the position of European Socialism was extraordinarily complicated, as a reference to the state of affairs in a few of the principal countries will readily indicate. In France the Communists had succeeded in securing a majority in the ranks of the French Socialist party, and it had thereupon changed its name to the French Communist party. The minority, which refused to accept the change in name and policy, thereupon reformed the Socialist party as a coalition of right wing and central elements. In Italy the Socialist party, which was throughout opposed to Italian participation in the war, at first affiliated to the Moscow International; but subsequently differences arose as to the strategy to be adopted, and these led to a split in the ranks of the party, the extreme Communists, who were in a minority, seceding and forming a Communist party of their own, while the right and centre, including many Communists, held together as the Italian Socialist party. In Germany the Social Democratic party split during the war. A majority section of the party supported the German Government in the prosecution of the war and voted war credits. Gradually a minority party formed, and finally the anti-war elements left the Social Democratic party and formed the Independent Socialist party. After the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia two small Communist parties were also formed in Germany. In 1920 the majority of the Independent Socialist party resolved upon adhesion to the Moscow International and united with the Communist factions to form the German Communist party. The right wing of the Independent Socialist party continued in existence under the old name; and there were thus in Germany, in 1921, three distinct parties, Social Democrats or Majority Socialists, Independent Socialists, and Communists. In Great Britain the position was somewhat different; for political action was taken through the Labour party, a federation of trade unions, Socialist societies and kindred bodies. Of the Socialist societies, the British Socialist party, the direct descendant of the Social Democratic Federation, the earliest Socialist body in Great Britain, affiliated to the Moscow International and became the nucleus of a Communist party which applied for affiliation to the Labour party, but was refused. The Independent Labour party, which, unlike the Labour party as a whole, was hostile to participation in the war, nevertheless remained affiliated to the Labour party. There were thus only two groups undertaking political action in Great Britain—the Labour party, including the Independent Labour party, on the one hand, and the small, but militant, Communist party on the other.
These instances, drawn from a very much larger number, serve to illustrate the general character of the divisions which had arisen in the world Socialist movement since the Russian Revolutions of 1917. As the movement has been divided nationally, so a division has taken place in the international organization of Socialism. Before the war most of the Socialist parties of the world were loosely held together by the Congresses of the “Second International,” of which the first was held in 1889. Out of the Congresses developed the International Socialist Bureau, which was formed in 1900. The Bureau was unable to function effectively during the war, both because communications were to a large extent interrupted, and because of the differences of opinion between and among the various national sections. Various attempts were made to secure united action by all the national Socialist parties; but, in face of the opposition of the Governments and of internal differences, these produced little result, the attempt to call an International Socialist conference at Stockholm in 1918 breaking down. The Socialist parties of the Allied countries, however, held a number of conferences, and drew up a declaration of war aims, which exercised a certain influence. Immediately on the conclusion of hostilities steps were taken to convene a full International Socialist conference, and an attempt was made to reform the pre-war Socialist International. The reformed body, however, known as the “Second International,” never became, in face of acute differences of opinion, at all fully representative, and during 1919 and 1920 there were numerous secessions from it, until it came to consist principally of the British Labour party, the German Social Democratic party (Majority Socialists), and the Socialist parties of a number of small countries such as Sweden, Poland, Belgium and Holland. A number of Socialist parties held aloof both from the Second and from the Third International, and these bodies in 1920 formed a provisional International “Working Union,” of which the aim was the reconstitution at a later stage of a fully representative and inclusive Socialist International. This provisional body, sometimes known as the “Vienna International,” includes the British Independent Labour party, the German Independent Socialist party, the French and Swiss Socialist parties, and a number of others. The Italian Socialists were in 1921 unconnected with any of the three Internationals.
There can be no doubt that the division of opinion in the Socialist ranks which is reflected in these divisions in national and international organization is very profound. With the growth of parliamentary representation, the political Socialist parties of the various countries have been becoming steadily more moderate and constitutional in their outlook. But the Moscow revolution, accomplished by insurrectionary methods and by “proletarian” direct action, represented a challenge to the censtitutional political attitude of the more orthodox Socialist parties. Those which have rallied to the call of Moscow profess to be the only true inheritors of the Marxian tradition and the legitimate successors of the International Working Men's Association, or “First International,” of 1864. It is still impossible in 1921 to forecast the result of the conflicts between this section and the older Socialist parties; but it seems likely that the divisions which have come into existence will be to a considerable extent permanent, even if the ultimate point of cleavage has not yet been discovered.
James Bonar on p. 301 of vol. 25 defines Socialism as “that policy or theory which aims at securing by the action of the central democratic authority a better distribution and, in due subordination thereunto, a better production of wealth than now prevails.” It will be clear from what has been said above that this definition is certainly no longer adequate or correct in 1921, even if it could be regarded as adequate at the time at which it was made. It is as true now as then that all schools of Socialism are united in seeking a better distribution and also a better production of wealth; but it cannot be assumed that this is sought solely or even mainly “through the action of the central democratic authority,” or that many Socialists would agree that any such body as a “central democratic body” exists in the community as it is organized to-day. Any present-day definition of Socialism would certainly have to emphasize the fact that it seeks not merely a better distribution and production of wealth, but a fundamental reorganization in the whole system of organized Society, political as well as economic. At the time when Bonar wrote, Socialists, especially in Great Britain, were largely engaged in combating the still prevalent doctrines of laissez-faire politicians and economists, and in seeking to emphasize the necessity for a greater measure of collective regulation of the social and economic life of the community. In Great Britain, more than elsewhere, many Socialists came to regard the political State, or machinery of government, as the principal instrument of this regulation, and to look forward to the transition to Socialism mainly through the nationalization, or transference to State ownership, of all vital industries and services, together with an extension of municipal ownership in the sphere of local public-utility services. This idea of the form of the transition to Socialism fitted in well with the stress which was laid, during the 'nineties and the earlier years of the 20th century, upon political action. This period witnessed the formation, first of the Independent Labour party, and then in 1900 of the Labour Representation Committee, which subsequently became the Labour party. It was also the period during which the Fabian Society, with its propaganda of political permeation, largely influenced British Socialism, and diverted it from the Marxism of its earlier development in the 'eighties.
But from 1910 onwards new currents of opinion were increasingly affecting these accepted dogmas of Socialism, both in Great Britain and elsewhere. Important, in this connexion, is the rise of the Syndicalist movement in France, which was at its zenith in the earlier years of the 20th century, and of the Socialist Labour party and the Industrial Workers of the World in the United States of America. There were important differences between the standpoints of French Syndicalism, which was derived largely from the semi-Anarchist doctrines of Proudhon and his school, and American Industrial Unionism, based by Daniel De Leon and his followers upon the large-scale and “trustified” American capitalist system. But they were alike in stressing rather the economic than the political character of the transition to a Socialist system, and in demanding more aggressive action by the workers in the industrial field. In Great Britain and in other European countries these doctrines, although they were not accepted in their completeness, exercised a powerful influence, seen especially in Great Britain in the rise of the Guild Socialist movement after 1912 (see Guild Socialism).
Whereas Syndicalism and, in some of its forms, Industrial Unionism directly challenged the utility of Socialist political action and demanded an exclusive concentration upon the industrial field, the Guild Socialists never took up this attitude, but sought, without disparaging political action, to secure an intensification of industrial activity, and in particular a change in the attitude of Socialists towards the problem of industrial control. Their influence in this direction has extended far beyond their own ranks, and it is not too much to say that the effect of the various movements possessing largely an industrial character —Syndicalism, Industrial Unionism, Guild Socialism, etc.— has been to bring about a revolution in Socialist thinking on this question. It is no longer assumed by Socialists that nationalization is necessarily desirable, or that the transference of industry to the State, even if it be accomplished by a political victory of Socialists, furnishes an adequate solution of the industrial prob- lem. Most Socialists are agreed in desiring, in a greater or less degree, as an integral part of any Socialist system, the control of the administration of industry by the organized workers by hand and brain who are engaged in it.
Nor has this change in the attitude of Socialists towards the problem of industry been without its effect in other spheres of policy. As Socialism passed from its earlier revolutionary into its middle purely constitutional and political phase, it came gradually to be assumed that the realization of Socialism would involve only the capture of political power by the Socialist parties and the use of the existing machinery of Society—modified perhaps in certain particulars, but remaining essentially the same—for socialist instead of for individualist ends. There is now acute division of opinion on this question; but most Socialists are far more ready than in 1910 to agree that the realization of Socialism would involve not a mere conquest of political power and the assumption of control over the machinery of government by the workers, but also a profound transformation in the machinery of government itself. By Lenin and the Communists (see Lenin's The State and Revolution for the best statement of this point of view) the State is regarded as purely a “capitalist organ,” the tool of a dominant class in Society. In the words of The Communist Manifesto, they regard the State as “an Executive Committee for administering the affairs of the whole governing class.” Such an instrument, essentially coercive in its character, will in their view become unnecessary with the realization of Socialism. During the transitional period of “dictatorship” the “proletariat” will indeed require an instrument fully as coercive as the capitalist State. But the Communist view of the existing machinery of the State cannot be adapted for this purpose, but must be destroyed and replaced by a “quasi-State” based definitely and exclusively upon the power of the workers themselves. Gradually, as the realization of Socialism comes nearer, they hold that this “quasi-State” will “wither away” and give place to a free organization of Society in which “government,” which they understand to imply a system based on coercion, will be replaced by “administration.” Even among those Socialists who do not accept this Communist view, keen criticism has been directed in recent times upon the structure of the present-day State and upon the conception of political democracy which was almost universally accepted in the 19th century. Universal political suffrage is no longer held to furnish any adequate basis, or even necessarily any basis at all, for truly democratic institutions; for it is pointed out that, as long as great inequalities of wealth and power exist in the community, and as long as the industrial system is based on an acute division of classes, this “political democracy” is in fact inoperative, since the power and wealth of the few can be used in order to prevent the will of the people from finding expression, and, indeed, to prevent the people from developing any conscious or clearly formulated will of its own. By the Guild Socialists and by many others of the newer schools of Socialist thought, stress is laid upon the importance of securing a system of democratic self-government in the industrial sphere as the necessary condition of democracy in politics or in Society as a whole.
These changes in the conception of Socialist aim and method have resulted in a much closer relationship between Socialist ideas and the definitely economic forms of working-class organization, such as Trade Unionism and Coöperation. No longer basing their hopes of Socialism entirely upon action in the political sphere, Socialists are driven more and more to rely on the development of the organizations created by the working classes themselves for the protection of their interests and standard of life, under capitalism. Whereas the earlier Socialists appealed to Trade Unionists and Coöperators to realize the necessity for Socialism and to embark upon political action, the newer schools of Socialism are endeavouring also to influence the policy of the Trade Unions and of the Coöperative movement in the direction of Socialism applied to industry—that is, of the development and expansion of working-class industrial control (see Trade Unionism and Guild Socialism).
The organization of the Socialist movement in Great Britain is often exceedingly bewildering to those who approach it for the first time. There are a large number of bodies of varying degrees of importance, and often with names which bear a close resemblance one to another. The Labour party, which is by far the largest political body, may be regarded as definitely Socialist in the sense in which the majority of continental European Socialist parties are Socialist. Its annual conference has repeatedly pronounced, in general terms, in favour of Socialism, and its policy on the whole coincides with that of the “right wing” Socialist parties of Europe. At the same time, its main strength is drawn from the trade unions. In 1920 it consisted of 126 affiliated trade unions with a total affiliated membership of 3,511,000. In addition it included the Independent Labour party and the Fabian Society and one or two smaller Socialist bodies. Locally it was organized in several hundred Local Labour parties, which in their turn consisted mainly of affiliated branches of trade unions, Socialist societies and kindred bodies. These Local Labour parties, under the new constitution of 1918, also admit individual members who accept the aims of the party. There is a very considerable individual membership enrolled in this way; but no figures are available. In 1920 the Labour party had 66 members in the House of Commons.
Apart from the Labour party, although in some cases affiliated to it, are the various Socialist societies, of which the largest is still the Independent Labour party, which has been mentioned above. This party had in 1920 35,000 members organized in local branches throughout the country. It had returned five members as Independent Labour party members to the House of Commons; and these sat as members of the Labour party. In addition a considerable number of members who were returned under the auspices of the trade unions, affiliated to the Labour party, belonged to the Independent Labour party.
Next in point of size stands the Communist party of Great Britain, formed in 1920 by a fusion of the British Socialist party with a number of local Communist organizations. This party is affiliated to the Third or Moscow International. It was gaining adherents in 1921. Its total membership, however, certainly did not at that date exceed 10,000. Of minor Socialist parties the following deserve mention. The Social Democratic Federation, formerly the National Socialist party, is the result of a split which took place during the war in the British Socialist party. A section of the British Socialist party, including H. M. Hyndman, the veteran Socialist leader, and many of the older members of the earlier Social Democratic Federation, resigned from the British Socialist party as a protest against its anti-war attitude and formed a separate body of their own. The Social Democratic Federation (the name was again assumed at the end of 1920) is affiliated to the Labour party. It is very small, its membership in 1920 being returned as 2,000.
The Fabian Society, founded in 1883-4, nas been principally associated with certain intellectual leaders of the right wing of British Socialism, especially Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb and Mr. Bernard Shaw. It had about 2,000 members in 1920 and was affiliated to the Labour party. Its pamphlets and other propagandist work exercised a powerful influence on the formation of Socialist opinion during the period from 1889 to 1910, but it has since ceased to count as an effective influence; for, although Mr. and Mrs. Webb and other leaders remained active, they had transferred their main activities to other bodies, such as the Labour party itself.
The Socialist Labour party is an offshoot of the American “De Leonite” Socialist Labour party. It gained considerably in membership and influence during the war, when its leading members took a prominent part in the shop-stewards' movement, and in other rank-and-file trade-union and anti-war movements. Most of its more active members, however, passed over to the Communist party in 1920; and it then ceased to exercise any considerable influence. The Socialist party of Great Britain is a very small and unimportant body of rigid Marxians of the extreme left wing. The National Guilds League, the propagandist organization of the Guild Socialists, is described in the article Guild Socialism.
It will be seen from the foregoing account that the Socialist movements of the world were in 1921 in a state of unrest and transition, due largely to the events of the war and to the revolutions in Russia. It is impossible to forecast what will be the ultimate result of this ferment of forces and ideas, or in what manner the Socialist parties and societies of the world will eventually regroup themselves. Two clearly defined tendencies can be seen in the movement. The first is a constitutionalist and parliamentary tendency, expressing itself in the activities of the Majority Socialist parties of many countries. Its adherents repudiate for the most part recourse to revolutionary methods save under quite exceptional circumstances. At the other extreme is the tendency represented by Communism and the Communist parties which have arisen in most countries in recent years. Its adherents favour the use of political as well as industrial action, but regard the transition to Socialism essentially in terms of force to be generated by the uprising of the “proletariat.” They envisage the transformation of Society by a catastrophic overthrow of the existing political and economic system, and the substitution for it of a new system based on the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Between these two extremes there is no equally definite central body of opinion extending to a number of countries; but in almost every country there are “centrist” groups and tendencies, bearing in some cases a closer resemblance to the constitutionalist right wing (e.g. the Independent Labour party in Great Britain), and in others to the revolutionary left wing (e.g. the Socialist party in Italy).
The Guild Socialists and, in a less degree, the French Syndicalistes stand to a considerable extent in a different position, since in their case the main stress is laid neither on revolution nor on constitutional political action, but on the extension of the industrial power of the workers towards control over industry.
A marked feature of the more recent developments of the Socialist movement has been the growing closeness of the relationship between it and the economic organizations created by the workers for the defence of their interests and aspirations as producers and consumers. It has become far more manifest in the later years of the igth and the early years of the 20th century that Socialism is not solely, or even mainly, a political movement, but at least equally an industrial movement, aiming at a fundamental transformation not simply in the ownership, but also in the control and administration of industry, and in the motives upon which the industrial system depends. This is, indeed, to some extent a harking back to earlier conceptions of Socialism, such as those of Robert Owen in Great Britain and of Louis Blanc in France. It has resulted in a far closer affiliation between the Socialists of all schools, “right wing,” “left wing” and “centre” alike, and the trade-union movement; and the struggles between the rival schools of Socialism now largely reproduce themselves in the industrial sphere, as the various Socialist sections seek to influence the policy and to secure the allegiance of the trade-union organizations. This is true to a less extent of the cooperative movement; but it is becoming increasingly true in this case also.
Based, as it is, mainly upon the organized working-class movement, Socialism has necessarily, to a large extent, an economic basis; but it is important to realize that a great deal of its driving force comes from the fact that it is not only an economic movement, but also a movement based on certain clear and definite ideas which are largely shared by Socialists of all schools.
The differences between Socialists are far more differences as to method than differences as to ideal. Thus all Socialists are agreed that the carrying-on of industry on a basis of private profit produces anti-social results, and that the idea that the interests of the whole are best served by the enlightened pursuit by each private citizen of his own interests is fundamentally wrong. Although they differ widely as to the structure which a Socialist society should assume, and as to the forms of industrial administration which would best express the new community spirit, Socialists are agreed in demanding that all important industries and services should pass over from private hands into some form of social ownership and control, whether into the hands of the State or of local authorities, or of self-governing guilds, or of the coöperative movement, or of other forms of organization designed to express the communal spirit. They are agreed in believing the individual ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange to be undesirable, and in holding that both the extent and the character of production should be determined, not by any anticipation of individual profit, but by considerations of social need. Moreover, all Socialists insist that with the change from the system of private ownership and control in industry to social ownership and control must go a change in the motives which operate in the industrial system. They hold that, if industries and services are conducted under forms of organization designed in the interests of the whole community, the motive of public service, which is at present thwarted and inhibited by the existence of capitalism, will be brought into play, with the result that the members of the community will be more ready to render willing and efficient service. They are also increasingly of the opinion, first strongly urged by the Guild Socialists, that in order to bring this motive of social service into play it will be essential to democratize the industrial as well as the political system, by providing for a large measure of self-government in industry by the “workers by hand and brain.”
The charge used to be brought against the Socialist parties and groups of dwelling almost exclusively upon the economic concerns of Society, and of caring little or nothing for other questions of social and political policy. This charge can hardly be made nowadays; for the Socialist and Labour parties of the world have in almost all cases been led to formulate inclusive programmes and policies, and to take an active part in furthering social reorganization in all spheres of both national and international policy. Perhaps the best exposition of the national and international policy of Socialism of the constitutional type is contained in the pamphlet Labour and the New Social Order, issued by the British Labour party in 1918. This pamphlet has had an important international influence. The Communist wing, more fully preoccupied with questions of revolution than with plans for reform under the existing system, has not issued any quite comparable declaration of its aims; but the new Communist Manifesto of the Third (Moscow) International furnishes the clearest indication of its aims and policy as an international movement.
account of Socialism as a whole. The handiest text-books in English are: T. Kirkup, History of Socialism (new ed. revised by Edward R. Pease, 1913); and Werner Sombart, Socialism and the Social Movement (translated by M. Epstein (1909); R. C. K. Ensor, Modern Socialism (1907), is a useful collection of extracts from writings of Socialists of all countries. Max Beer's History of British Socialism (2 vols., 1919 and 1920) is indispensable. For the growth of the movement in various countries see Robert Hunter, Socialists at Work (1908), and the Labour International Handbook, prepared by the Labour Research Department (1921). Of books hostile to Socialism the best known are O. D. Skelton, Socialism: a Critical Analysis (1911), and W. H. Mallock, A Critical Examination of Socialism (1907); Hartley Withers, The Case for Capitalism (1920), may also be consulted. Other useful general books include: E. Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism (1909); Robert Blatchford, Merrie England (1895); Fabian Society, Fabian Essays (1889); J. Bruce Glasier, The Meaning of Socialism (1920); Laurence Gronlund, The Coöperative Commonwealth, edited by Bernard Shaw (1891); J. Ramsay MacDonald, Socialism, Critical and Constructive (1921); William Morris and E. Belfort Bax, Socialism: its Growth and Outcome (1893); Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom (1918); Emile Vandervelde, Collectivism and Industrial Evolution (1907); Le Socialisme contre l'État (1919); W. E. Walling, Socialism as it is (1912); H. G. Wells, New Worlds for Old (1908, rev. 1914). See also the innumerablepamphlets published by the various Socialist bodies.
1887-1909) is, of course, the foundation of most modern Socialist thinking. Of Marx's other works the most important for Socialist theory are: The Communist Manifesto, written in collaboration with Friedrich Engels (1847); The Critique of Political Economy (English translation, vol. ii. 1907); The Civil War in France (1871, reissued 1921); Revolution and Counter-Revolution or Germany in 1848 (Eng. 1896); The Poverty of Philosophy (Eng. 1900). Of the works of Engels the most important are: Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (Eng. 1892), and Landmarks of Scientific Socialism (Eng. 1907). Karl Kautsky, the leading exponent of political Marxism in Germany, can be best studied in The Erfurt Program (Eng. 1910); The Social Revolution (Eng. 1902); and in his attack on Bolshevism, Terrorism and Communism (Eng. 1920). For the Communist exposition of Marxism see N. Lenin, The State and Revolution (Eng. 1919), and other works. Of books on Marx and Marxism the most important are: Max Beer, The Life and Teaching of Karl Marx (Eng. 1921); Achille Loria, Karl Marx (Eng. 1920), and for a hostile criticism: E. von Böhm-Bawerk, Karl Marx and the Close of his System (Eng. 1898). Georges Sorel's La Décomposition du Marxisme (1908) and Benedetto Croce's Historic Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx (Eng. 1914) are important detached studies. A much fuller bibliography will be found in What to Read on Social and Economic Subjects (Fabian Society, new ed. 1020); and reference should be made to the bibliographies at the end of the articles on Communism, Guild Socialism, Syndicalism. There is, of course, a very largeliterature of the subject in almost every European language.
- These figures indicate the volume and page number of the previous article.