Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Socialism
Origin of name.
The word "socialism" is of comparatively recent origin, having been coined in England in 1835. In that year a society which received the grandiloquent name of the "Association of all Classes of all Nations" was founded under the auspices of Robert Owen; and the words "socialist" and "socialism" were first used during the discussions which arose in connexion with it. As Owen and his school had no esteem for the political reform of the time, and laid all emphasis on the necessity of social improvement and reconstruction, it is obvious how the name came to be recognized as suitable and distinctive. The term was borrowed from England by a distinguished French writer, Reybaud, in his well-known work the Reformateurs modernes (1839), in which he discussed the theories of Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen. Through Reybaud it soon gained wide currency on the Continent, and is now the accepted world-historic name for one of the most remarkable movements of the 19th century.
The name was thus first applied in England to Owen’s theory of social reconstruction, and in France to those also of Saint-Simon and Fourier. The best usage has always connected it with the views of these men and the cognate opinions which have since appeared. The word, however, is used with a great variety of meaning not only in popular speech and by politicians but even by economists and learned critics of socialism.
Vague usage of current speech.
The general tendency is to regard as socialistic any interference with property undertaken by society on behalf of the poor, the limitation of the principle of laissez-faire in favour of the suffering classes, radical social reform which disturbs the present system of private property as regulated by free competition. It is probable enough that the word will be permanently used to express the tendency indicated in these phrases, as a general name for the strong reaction that has now set in against the overstrained individualism and one-sided freedom which date from the latter half of the 18th century. The application is neither precise nor accurate; but it is use and wont that determine the meaning of words, and this seems to be the tendency of use and wont.
Definitions of leading writers.
Even economic writers differ greatly in the meaning they attach to the word. The great German economist Roscher defines it as including "those tendencies which demand a greater regard for the common weal than consists with human nature." Adolf Held says that "we may define as socialistic every tendency which demands the subordina-tion of the individual will to the community." Janet more precisely defines it as follows:—" We call socialism every doctrine which teaches that the state has a right to correct the inequality of wealth which exists among men and to legally establish the balance by taking from those who have too much in order to give to those who have not enough, and that in a permanent manner, and not in such and such a particular case,—a famine, for instance, a public calamity, &c." Laveleye explains it thus : "In the first place every socialistic doctrine aims at introducing greater equality in social conditions, and in the second place at realizing those reforms by the law or the state." Von Scheel simply defines it as the "economic philosophy of the suffering classes." Of all these definitions it can only be said that they more or less faithfully reflect current opinion as to the nature of socialism. They are either too vague or they are misleading, and they quite fail to bring out the clear and strongly marked characteristics that distinguish the phenomena to which the name of socialism is properly applied. To say that socialism exacts a greater regard for the common weal than is compatible with human nature is to pass sentence on the movement, not to define it. In all ages of the world, and under all forms and tendencies of government and of social evolution, the will of the individual has been subordinated to the will of society, often unduly so. It is also most misleading to speak as if socialism must proceed from the state as we know it. The early socialism proceeded from private effort and experiment. A great deal of the most notorious socialism of the present day aims not only at subverting the existing state in every form but all the existing political and social institutions. The most powerful and most philosophic, that of Karl Marx, aimed at superseding the existing governments by a vast international combination of the workers of all nations, without distinction of creed, colour, or nationality.
Socialism not necessarily violent and lawless.
Still more objectionable, however, is the tendency not unfrequently shown to identify socialism with a violent and lawless revolutionary spirit. As sometimes used, "socialism" means nothing more nor less than the most modern form of the revolutionary spirit with a suggestion of anarchy and dynamite. This is to confound the essence of the movement with an accidental feature more or less common to all great innovations. Every new thing of any moment, whether good or evil, has its revolutionary stage in which it disturbs and upsets the accepted beliefs and institutions. The Protestant Reformation was for more than a century and a half the occasion of national and international trouble and bloodshed. The suppression of American slavery could not be effected without a tremendous civil war. There was a time when the opinions comprehended under the name of "liberalism" had to fight to the death for toleration; and representative government was at one time a revolutionary innovation. The fact that a movement is revolutionary generally implies only that it is new, that it is disposed to exert itself by strong methods, and is calculated to make great changes. It is an unhappy feature of most great changes that they have been attended with the exercise of force, but that is because the powers in possession have generally attempted to suppress them by the exercise of force.
In point of fact socialism is one of the most elastic and protean phenomena of history, varying according to the time and circumstances in which it appears and with the character and opinions and institutions of the people who adopt it. Such a movement cannot be condemned or approved en bloc. Most of the current formulae to which it has been referred for praise or censure are totally erroneous and misleading.
Its central principle economic.
Yet in the midst of the various theories that go by the name of "socialism" there is a kernel of principle that is common to them all. That principle is of an economic nature, and is most clear and precise. The central aim of socialism is to terminate the divorce of the workers from the natural sources of subsistence and of culture. The socialist theory is based on the historical assertion that the course of social evolution for centuries has gradually been to exclude the producing classes from the possession of land and capital and to establish a new subjection, the subjection of workers, who have nothing to depend on but precarious wage-labour. The socialists maintain that the present system (in which land and capital are the property of private individuals freely struggling for increase of wealth) leads inevitably to social and economic anarchy, to the degradation of the working man and his family, to the growth of vice and idleness among the wealthy classes and their dependants, to bad and inartistic workmanship, and to adulteration in all its forms; and that it is tending more and more to separate society into two classes,—wealthy millionaires confronted with an enormous mass of proletarians,—the issue out of which must either be socialism or social ruin. To avoid all these evils and to secure a more equitable distribution of the means and appliances of happiness, the socialists propose that land and capital, which are the requisites of labour and the sources of all wealth and culture, should become the property of society, and be managed by it for the general good. In thus maintaining that society should assume the management of industry and secure an equitable distribution of its fruits socialists are agreed, but in the most important points of detail they differ very greatly.
Points of difference among socialists.
They differ as to the form society will take in carrying out the socialist programme, as to the relation of local bodies to the central government, and whether there is to be any central government, or any government at all in the ordinary sense of the word, as to the influence of the national idea in the society of the future, &c. They differ also as to what should be regarded as an "equitable" system of distribution. The school of Saint-Simon advocated a social hierarchy in which every man should be placed according to his capacity and rewarded according to his works. In the communities of Fourier the minimum of subsistence was to be guaranteed to each out of the common gain, the remainder to be divided between labour, capital, and talent,—five-twelfths going to the first, four-twelfths to the second, and three-twelfths to the third. At the revolution of 1818 Louis Blanc proposed that remuneration should be equal for all members of his social workshops. In the programme drawn up by the united social democrats of Germany (Gotha, 1875) it is provided that all shall enjoy the results of labour "according to their reasonable wants," all of course being bound to work. It is needless to say also that the theories of socialism have been held in connexion with the most varying opinions in philosophy and religion. A great deal of the historic socialism has been regarded as a necessary implicate of idealism. Most of the prevailing socialism of the day is based on the frankest and most outspoken revolutionary materialism. On the other hand, many socialists hold that their system is a necessary outcome of Christianity, that socialism and Christianity are essential the one to the other; and it should be said that the ethics of socialism are closely akin to the ethics of Christianity, if not identical with them.
Great changes implied in socialism.
Still it should be insisted that the basis of socialism is economic, involving a fundamental change in the relation of labour to land and capital,—a change which will largely affect production, but will entirely revolutionize the existing system of distribution. But, while its basis is economic, socialism implies and carries with it a change in the political, ethical, technical, and artistic arrangements and institutions of society which would constitute a revolution greater probably than has ever taken place in human history, greater than the transition from the ancient to the mediaeval world, or from the latter to the existing order of society. In the first place, such a change generally assumes as its political complement the most thoroughly democratic organization of society. The early socialism of Owen and Saint-Simon was marked by not a little of the autocratic spirit; but the tendency of the present socialism is more and more to ally itself with the most advanced democracy. Socialism, in fact, claims to be the economic complement of democracy, maintaining that without a fundamental economic change political privilege has neither meaning nor value. In the second place, socialism naturally goes with an unselfish or altruistic system of ethics. The most characteristic feature of the old societies was the exploitation of the weak by the strong under the systems of slavery, serfdom, and wage-labour. Under the socialistic régime it is the privilege and duty of the strong and talented to use their superior force and richer endowments in the service of their fellow-men without distinction of class or nation or creed. In the third place, socialists maintain that under their system and no other can the highest excellence and beauty be realized in industrial production and in art, whereas under the present system beauty and thoroughness are alike sacrificed to cheapness, which is a necessity of successful competition. Lastly, the socialists refuse to admit that individual happiness or freedom or character would be sacrificed under the social arrangements they propose. They believe that under the present system a free and harmonious development of individual capacity and happiness is possible only for the privileged minority, and that socialism alone can open up a fair opportunity for all. They believe, in short, that there is no opposition whatever between socialism and individuality rightly understood, that these two are complements the one of the other, that in socialism alone may every individual have hope of free development and a full realization of himself.
Essence of socialism.
Having seen, then, how wide a social revolution is implied in the socialistic scheme of reconstruction, let us repeat (1) that the essence of the theory consists in this—associated production with a collective capital with the view to an equitable distribution. In the words of Schäffle, "the Alpha and Omega of socialism is the transformation of private competing capitals into a united collective capital" (Quintessenz des Socialismus). A. Wagner’s more elaborate definition of it (in his Grundlegung) is entirely in agreement with that of Schäffle. This is the principle on which all the schools of socialism, however opposed otherwise, are at one. Such a system, while insisting on collective capital (including land), is quite consistent with private property in other forms, and with perfect freedom in the use of one’s own share in the equitable distribution of the produce of the associated labour. A thoroughgoing socialism demands that this principle should be applied to the capital and production of the whole world; only then can it attain to supreme and perfect realization. But a sober-minded socialism will admit that the various intermediate stages in which the principle finds a partial application are so far a true and real development of the socialistic idea. (2) Socialism is both a theory of social evolution and a working force in the history of the 19th century. Some of the most eminent socialists, such as Rodbertus, regard their theory as a prophecy concerning the social development of the future rather than as a subject of agitation. In their view socialism is the next stage in the evolution of society, destined after many generations to supersede capitalism, as capitalism displaced feudalism and feudalism succeeded to slavery. Even the majority of the most active socialists consider the question as still in the stage of agitation and propaganda, their present task being that of enlightening the masses until the consummation of the present social development, and the declared bankruptcy of the present social order, shall have delivered the world into their hands. Socialism, therefore, is for the most part a theory affecting the future, more or less remote, and has only to a limited degree gained a real and practical footing in the life of our time. Yet it should not be forgotten that its theories have most powerfully affected all the ablest recent economic writers of Germany, and have even considerably modified German legislation. Its influence is rapidly growing among the lower and also among the most advanced classes in almost every country dominated by European culture, following as a destroying negation the development of capitalism. (3) In its doctrinal aspects socialism is most interesting as a criticism of the present economic order, of what socialists call the capitalistic system, with which the existing land systern is connected. Under the present economic order land and capital (the material and instruments without which industry is impossible) are the property of a class, employing a class of wage-labourers handicapped by their exclusion from land and capital. Competition is the general rule by which the share of the members of those classes in the fruits of production is determined. Against this system critical socialism is a reasoned protest; and it is at issue also with the prevailing political economy, in so far as it assumes or maintains the permanence or righteousness of this economic order. Of the economic optimism implied in the historic doctrine of laissez-faire socialism is an uncompromising rejection. (4) Socialism is usually regarded as a phase of the struggle for the emancipation of labour, for the complete participation of the working classes in the material, intellectual, and spiritual inheritance of the human race. This is certainly the most substantial and most prominent part of the socialist programme, the working classes being the most numerous and the worst sufferers from the present régime. This view, however, is rather one-sided, for socialism claims not less to be in the interest of the small capitalist gradually crushed by the competition of the larger, and in the interest also of the large capitalist, whose position is endangered by the huge unmanageableness of his success, and by the worldwide economic anarchy from which even the greatest are not secure. Still it is the deliverance of the working class that stands in the front of every socialistic theory; and, though the initiative in socialist speculation and action has usually come from the middle and upper classes, yet it is to the working men that they generally appeal.
While recognizing the great confusion in the use of the word "socialism," we have treated it as properly a phenomenon of the 19th century, beginning in France with Saint-Simon and Fourier, in England with Robert Owen, and most powerfully represented at the present day by the school of Karl Marx. As we have seen, however, there are definitions of the word which would give it a wider range of meaning and a more ancient beginning, compared with which capitalism is but of yesterday,—which would, in fact, make it as old as human society itself.
In the early stages of human development, when the tribe or the village community was the social unit, the subordination of the individual to the society in which he dwelt was the rule, and common property was the prevalent form. In the development of the idea of property, especially as regards land, three successive historical stages are broadly recognized,—common property and common enjoyment of it, common property and private enjoyment, private property and private enjoyment. The last form did not attain to full expression till the end of the 18th century, when the principle of individual freedom, which was really a reaction against privileged restriction, was proclaimed as a positive axiom of government and of economics. The free individual struggle for wealth and for the social advantages dependent on wealth is a comparatively recent thing. In all periods of history the state reserved to itself the right to interpose in the arrangements of property,—sometimes in favour of the poor, as in the case of the English poor law, which may thus be regarded as a socialistic measure. Moreover, all through history revolts in favour of a rearrangement of property have been very frequent. And in the societies of the Catholic Church we have a permanent example of common property and a common enjoyment of it.
How are we to distinguish the socialism of the 19th century from these old-world phenomena, and especially from the communism [207-1] which has played so great a part in history? To this query socialists, especially of the school of Marx, have a clear and precise answer. Socialism is a stage in the evolution of society which could not arrive till the conditions necessary to it had been established.
Genesis of socialism.
The first and most essential of these was the development of the great industrialism which after a long period of preparation and gradual growth began to reach its culminating is point with the inventions and technical improvements, with the application of steam and the rise of the factory system, in England towards the end of the 18th century. Under this system industry was organized into a vast social operation, and was thus already socialized; but it was a system that was exploited by the individual owner of the capital at his own pleasure and for his own behoof. Under the pressure of the competition of the large industry, the small capitalist is gradually crushed out, and the working producers become wage-labourers organized and drilled in immense factories and workshops. The development of this system still continues and is enveloping the whole world. Such is the industrial revolution. Parallel with this a revolution in the world of ideas equally great and equally necessary to the rise of socialism has taken place. This change of thought which made its world-historic announcement in the French Revolution made reason the supreme judge and had freedom for its great practical watchword. It was represented in the economic sphere by the school of Adam Smith.
Socialism was an outcome of it too, and first of all in Saint-Simon and his schools professed to give the positive and constructive corrective to a negative movement which did not see that it was merely negative and therefore temporary. In other words, Saint-Simon may be said to aim at nothing less than the completion of the work of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. Thus socialism professes to be the legitimate child of two great revolutions,—of the industrial revolution which began to establish itself in England towards the end of the 18th century, and of the parallel revolution in thought which about the same time found most prominent expression in France. Robert Owen worked chiefly under the influence of the former; Saint-Simon and Fourier grew up under the latter. The conspiracy of Babeuf is properly to be regarded as a crude revolutionary communism not essentially different from the rude efforts in communism made in earlier periods of history. With Saint-Simon and Owen historic socialism really begins, and is no longer an isolated fact, but has had a continuous and widening development, the succession of socialistic teaching and propaganda being taken up by one country after another throughout the civilized world.
We have seen, then, that the rise of socialism as a new and reasoned theory of society was relative to the industrial revolution and to the ideas proclaimed in the French Revolution, prominent among which, besides the much emphasized idea of freedom and the less easily realized ideals of equality and fraternity, was the conception of the worth and dignity of labour. Though Owen was most largely influenced by the former and Saint-Simon and Fourier by the latter, it is certain that all three were greatly affected by both the new movements. The motive power in Owen’s career was the philanthropy and humanitarianism of the 18th century. He had grown up in the midst of the industrial revolution; he was one of the most successful pioneers in the improvement of the cotton manufacture. No one could be more deeply conscious of the enormous abuses of the factory system; and no one better knew the wonderful services it could render if technical improvement were only made subordinate to human well-being. In the career of Owen we see the new spirit of the 18th century seeking to bring the mechanism of the new industrial system under the direction of a nobler principle, in which the good of all should be the great and sole aim. The position of Saint-Simon was considerably different, yet akin. As Owen had before his eyes the evils of a young but gigantic industrialism, Saint-Simon contemplated the hoary abuses of an idle and privileged feudalism, fearfully shaken no doubt by the Revolution, but still strong in Europe, and in France as elsewhere powerfully revived during the period after Waterloo. Saint-Simon saw that a new world, an industrial world resting on labour, had arisen, while the old feudal and theological world—fainéant courtiers and a clergy steeped in ignorance—still ruled. All this array of parasites, who had no longer any useful function to perform for society, Saint-Simon sought to replace by the industrial chiefs and scientific leaders as the real working heads of the French people. Only he expected that these exceptionally gifted men, instead of exploiting the labour of others, should control an industrial France for the general good. Neither Owen nor Saint-Simon was revolutionary in the ordinary sense. Owen was most anxious that the English and other Governments should adopt his projects of socialistic reform. Leading statesmen and royal personages befriended him. He had no faith in the political reforms of 1832; he reckoned the political side of chartism as of no account, and he preferred socialistic experiment under autocratic guidance until the workmen should be trained to rule themselves. The same autocratic tendency was very pronounced in Saint-Simon and his school. His first appeal was to Louis XVIII. He wished to supersede the feudal aristocracy by a working aristocracy of merit. His school claim to have been the first to warn the Governments of Europe of the rise of revolutionary socialism. (For further information as to Saint-Simon and his school, see SAINT-SIMON.) The good and bad aspects of the Saint-Simon socialism are too obvious to require elucidation in this article. The antagonism between the old economic order and the new had only begun to declare itself. The extent and violence of the disease were not yet apparent; both diagnosis and remedy were superficial and premature. Such deep-seated organic disorder was not to be conjured away by the waving of a magic wand. The movement was all too utopian and extravagant in much of its activity. The most prominent portion of the school attacked social order in its essential point—the family morality—adopting the worst features of a fantastic, arrogant, and prurient sacerdotalism, and parading them in the face of Europe. Thus it happened that a school which attracted so many of the most brilliant and promising young men of France, which was so striking and original in its criticism of the existing condition of things, which was so strong in the spirit of initiative, and was in many ways so noble, unselfish, and aspiring, sank amidst the laughter and indignation of a scandalized society.
Outlines of its history.
The beginning of socialism may be dated from 1817, the year when Owen laid his scheme for a socialistic community before the committee of the House of Commons on the poor law, the year also that the speculations of Saint-Simon definitely took a socialistic direction. The outlines of the history of socialism are very simple. Till 1850 there was a double movement in France and England. In the former country after Saint-Simon and Fourier the movement was represented chiefly by Proudhon and Louis Blanc. In England after Owen the movement was taken up by the body of Christian socialists associated with Maurice and Kingsley. The more recent socialism is due chiefly to German and also Russian thinkers, but is generally international both in sympathy and activity.
Considered as a purely literary and speculative product, the socialism of Fourier was prior to those of both Owen and Saint-Simon. His great work, Théorie des Quatre Mouvements, was published as early as 1808. The socialism of Fourier, however, scarcely attracted any attention and exercised no influence till those of Owen and Saint-Simon were on the decline. His system is one in which the wildest fantasy is mixed with ingenious theory and the most searching criticism of the present competitive system ; even yet it is almost unrivalled in pungency and effectiveness. The pantheistic conception of the world which underlay the Saint-Simonian theory of the "rehabilitation of the flesh" formed the basis also of the social ethics and arrangements of Fourier. According to Fourier, evil is the artificial product and attendant of civilization, the result of perverted human institutions, which have run counter to the ordinances of the Creator in pronouncing passions and affections to be bad which are simply natural. Between the creature and the Creator there have been 5000 years of misunderstanding.. There is but one way of removing this misunderstanding,—to give a free and healthy and complete development to our passions. This Fourier sought to accomplish in his phalanges, which, united in a system of free federation, would, as he believed, soon cover the world (see FOURIER).
Revolution of 1830.
The year 1830 was an important turning-point in the history of socialism. During the fermentation of that time the activity of the Saint-Simon school came to a crisis, and the ideas of Fourier had an opportunity of taking practical effect. Some of the Saint-Simonians joined him. The movement in France was short-lived; and the numerous experiments tried in America were not more successful. One of the most notable societies suggested by Fourier’s influence, but entirely free from his immoral tendencies, was Brook Farm, established by George Ripley and other cultured Americans in 1840. A most praiseworthy and successful institution also suggested by the teaching of Fourier is the Familistére at Guise (Aisne) conducted by M. Godin. But by far the greatest result of the revolution of 1830 was the definitive establishment of the contrast between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Hitherto these two classes had fought side by side against feudalism and the reaction. The bourgeoisie were now rulers, and the proletariat became the revolutionary party, the first outbreak under the new conditions taking place at Lyons in 1831, when the starving workmen rose to arms with the device, "Live working or die fighting." During the latter half of the reign of the bourgeois king Louis Philippe Paris became more than ever the centre of socialistic fermentation. In 1839 Louis Blanc published his Organisation du Travail, and Cabet his Voyage en Icarie. In 1840 Proudhon published his book on property. At this period Paris counted among her visitors Lassalle, the founder of the social democracy of Germany; Karl Marx, the chief of scientific international socialism; and Bakunin, the apostle of anarchism.
The socialism of Saint-Simon and Fourier was largely speculative, imaginative, and utopian, and had only a very remote connexion with the practical life of their time.
With Louis Blanc (1811-1882) socialism came into real contact with the public history of France. The most conspicuous feature of Louis Blanc’s teaching was that he demanded the democratic organization of the state as preparatory to social reorganization. His system, therefore, had a positive and practical basis, in so far as it allied itself to a dominant tendency in the existing state. Louis Blanc was an eminent journalist, born at Madrid, where his father had a high post on the finances of King Joseph. His celebrated work on socialism, Organisation du Travail, exerted a very large influence on the thought of France. The formula of progress, says Louis Blanc, is double in its unity,—moral and material amelioration of the lot of all by the free co-operation of all and their fraternal association. He saw, however, that the great end of social reform could not be attained without political reform. It was not enough to discover the true methods for inaugurating the principle of association and the organization of labour according to the rules of reason, justice, and humanity. It was necessary to have political power on the side of social reform, political power resting on the chambers, on the tribunals, and on the army; not to take it as an instrument was to meet it as an obstacle. For these reasons he wished to see the state constituted on a thoroughly democratic basis as the first condition of success. He demanded that the state thus reformed should establish associations, which he called social workshops, for co-operative production. The money should be provided by the state, which also should draw up the rules. The state should appoint the functionaries for the first year. After that the workmen should elect their own managers. "Though the false and anti-social education given to the present generation makes it difficult to find any other motive of emulation and encouragement than a higher salary, the wages will be equal, as the ideas and character of men will be changed by an absolutely new education." Louis Blanc hoped that private firms would not be able to exist under the competition of such associations, and that the latter would in time absorb all the production of the country. Notwithstanding the influence exerted by Louis Blanc and the working men’s party in the provisional Government of 1848, it cannot be said that his plans obtained a fair hearing or a fair trial. His schemes were certainly not carried out in the national workshops of that year. These were really a travesty of Louis Blanc’s proposals, instituted expressly to discredit them. They were simply means of finding work for a motley proletariat thrown out of employment during the period of revolutionary disturbance; and these men were put to unproductive work, whereas of course Louis Blanc contemplated nothing but productive work, and the men he proposed to invite to join his associations were to give guarantees of character. The months following the revolution of February were, moreover, a period of industrial stagnation and insecurity, when any new project of trade, either on the old or new lines, had very little prospect of success. This remark applies largely also to the private associations for co-operative production subsidized by the republican Government. These were more closely akin to the plans of Louis Blanc; but to them also the times were unfavourable, and the help given them was both scanty and injudicious. As one of the leaders during this difficult crisis Louis Blanc had neither personal force nor enduring political influence sufficient to secure any considerable success for his cause. He was an amiable and genial enthusiast, but without weight enough to be a controller of men on a wide scale. The labour conferences at the Luxembourg, over which he presided, ended also as his opponents desired, without any tangible result. The proletariat at Paris, incensed at the closing of the national workshops, rose in armed insurrection, which was overthrown by Cavaignac in the sanguinary days of June (see CAVAIGNAC). Louis Blanc was in no way implicated in the revolt, but he found it necessary to go into exile in England. With the bloodshed of the days of June French socialism ceased for a time to be a considerable force. Socialism in the true acceptation of the word was indeed only partially responsible for the insurrection. It was a rising of a proletariat not particularly versed in theories of social reconstruction, but deeply incensed at the reactionary measures of their rulers. Inasmuch, however, as it destroyed the most enterprising leaders of the work-men and quelled the spirit of the remainder, it thoroughly repressed the tendency to innovation amongst them for a long time to come, while the false prosperity of the second empire removed their most crying grievances. Under Napoleon III. there was consequently comparative quietness in France. Even the International had very little influence on French soil, though French working men had an important share in starting it.
Compared with the parallel movement in France the early socialism of England had an uneventful history (see OWEN). In order to appreciate the significance of Owen’s work it is necessary to recall some of the more important features of the social condition of the country in his time. The English worker had no fixed interest in the soil. He had no voice either in local or national government. He had little education or none at all. His dwelling was wretched in the extreme. The right even of combination was denied him till 1824. The wages of the agricultural labourer were miserably low. The workman’s share in the benefits of the industrial revolution was doubtful. Great numbers of his class were reduced to utter poverty and ruin by the great changes consequent on the introduction of improved machinery; the tendency to readjustment was slow and continually disturbed by fresh change. The hours of work were mercilessly long. He had to compete against the labour of women, and of children brought frequently at the age of five or six from the workhouses. These children had to work the same long hours as the adults, and they were sometimes strapped by the overseers till the blood came. Destitute as they so often were of parental protection and oversight, with both sexes huddled together under immoral and insanitary conditions, it was only natural that they should fall into the worst habits, and that their offspring should to such a lamentable degree be vicious, improvident, and physically degenerate. In a country where the labourers had neither education nor political or social rights, and where the peasantry were practically landless serfs, the old English poor-law was only a doubtful part of an evil system. All these permanent causes of mischief were aggravated by special causes connected with the cessation of the Napoleonic wars, which are well known. It was in such circumstances, when English pauperism had become a grave national question, that Owen first brought forward his scheme of socialism (1817). In his communities, which were intended to be self-dependent units, Owen sought to provide the best education and the constant exercise of unselfish intelligence, to unite the advantages of town and country, and to correct the monotonous activity of the factory with the greatest variety of occupation, while utilizing all the latest improvements in industrial technique. The causes of Owen’s failure in establishing his communities are obvious enough. Apart from the difficulties inherent in socialism, he injured the social cause by going out of his way to attack the historic religions and the accepted views on marriage, by his quixotry and tediousness, by refusing to see that for the mass of men measures of transition from an old to a new system must be adopted. If he had been truer to his earlier methods and retained the autocratic guidance of his experiments, the chances of success would have been greater. Above all, Owen had too great faith in human nature, and he did not understand the laws of social evolution. His great doctrine of the influence of circumstances in the formation of character was only a very crude way of expressing the law of social continuity so much emphasized by recent socialism. He thought that he could break the chain of continuity, and as by magic create a new set of circumstances, which would forthwith produce a new generation of rational and unselfish men. The time was too strong for him, and the current of English history swept past him. Even a very brief account of Owen, however, would be incomplete without indicating his relation to Malthus. Against Malthus he showed that the wealth of the country had, in consequence of mechanical improvement, increased out of all proportion to the population. The problem, therefore, was not to restrict population, but to institute rational social arrangements and to secure a fair distribution of wealth. Whenever the number of inhabitants in any of his communities increased beyond the maximum, new ones should be created, until they extended over the whole world, uniting all in one great republic with one interest. There would be no fear of over-population for a long time to come. Its evils were then felt in Ireland and other countries; but that condition of things was owing to the total want of the most ordinary common sense on the part of the blinded authorities of the world. The period would probably never arrive when the earth would be full; but if it should the human race will be good, intelligent, and rational, and would know much better than the present irrational generation how to provide for the occurrence. Such was Owen’s socialist treatment of the population problem.
In England the reform of 1832 had the same effect as the revolution of July (1830) in France: it brought the middle class into power, and by the exclusion of the workmen emphasized their existence as a separate class.
The discontent of the workmen now found expression in Chartism. As is obvious from the contents of the charter, Chartism was most prominently a demand for political reform; but both in its origin and in its ultimate aim the movement was more essentially economic. As regards the study of socialism, the interest of this movement lies greatly in the fact that in its organs the doctrine of "surplus value" afterwards elaborated by Marx as the basis of his system is broadly and emphatically enunciated. While the worker produces all the wealth, he is obliged to content himself with the meagre share necessary to support his existence and the surplus goes to the capitalist, who, with the king, the priests, lords, esquires, and gentlemen, lives upon the labour of the working man (Poor Man’s Guardian, 1835).
Christian socialism in England.
After the downfall of Owenism began the Christian socialist movement in England (1848-52), of which the leaders were Maurice, Kingsley, and Mr Ludlow. The abortive Chartist demonstration of April 1848 excited in Maurice and his friends the deepest sympathy with the sufferings of the English working class,—a feeling which was intensified by the revelations regarding "London Labour and the London Poor" published in the Morning Chronicle (1849). Mr Ludlow, who had in France become acquainted with the theories of Fourier, was the economist of the movement, and it was with him that the idea originated of starting co-operative associations. In Politics for the People, in the Christian Socialist, in the pulpit and on the platform, and in Yeast and Alton Locke, well-known novels of Kingsley, the representatives of the movement exposed the evils of the competitive system, carried on an unsparing warfare against the Manchester school, and maintained that socialism rightly understood was only Christianity applied to social reform. Their labours in insisting on ethical and spiritual principles as the true bonds of society, in promoting associations, and in diffusing a knowledge of co-operation were largely beneficial. In the north of England they joined hands with the co-operative movement inaugurated by the Rochdale pioneers (1844) under the influence of Owenism. Productive co-operation made very little progress, but co-operative distribution has proved a great success.
In 1852 the twofold socialist movement in France and England had come to a close, leaving no visible result of any importance. From that date the most prominent leaders of socialism have been German and Russian. To reach the beginnings of German socialism we must go back a little, as it took its rise in the years preceding the revolution of 1848.
Its most conspicuous chiefs are Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Lassalle, and Rodbertus (for the last two, see LASSALLE and RODBERTUS). The greatest and most influential of the four was unquestionably Marx, who and his like-minded companion Engels are the acknowledged heads of the "scientific and revolutionary" school of socialism, which has its representatives in almost every country of the civilized world, and is generally recognized as the most serious and formidable form of socialism Karl Marx (1818-1883) was of Jewish extraction. He was born at Treves, and studied at Berlin and Bonn, but neglected the speciality of law, which he nominally adopted, for the more congenial subjects of philosophy and history. He was a zealous student and apparently an adherent of Hegelianism, but soon gave up his intention of following an academic career as a teacher of philosophy and joined the staff of the Rhenish Gazette, published at Cologne as an organ of the extreme democracy. In 1843, after marrying the sister of the Prussian minister Von Westfalen, he removed to Paris, where he applied himself to the study of economic and social questions and began to publish those youthful writings which must be reckoned among the most powerful expositions of the early form of German socialism. With Arnold Ruge he edited the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher. In 1845 he was expelled from Paris and settled in Brussels, where he published his Discours Sur le Libre Echange, and his criticism of Proudhon’s Philosophie de la Misère, entitled Misère de la Philosophie. In Paris he had already met Friedrich Engels, who was destined to be his lifelong and loyal friend and companion-in-arms, and who in 1845 published his important work Die Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England. The two friends found that they had arrived at a complete identity of opinion; and an opportunity soon occurred for an emphatic expression of their common views. A society of socialists, a kind of forerunner of the International, had established itself in London, and had been attracted by the new theories of Marx and the spirit of strong and uncompromising conviction with which he advocated them. They entered into relation with Marx and Engels; the society was reorganized under the name of the Communist League; and a congress was held, which resulted (1847) in the framing of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, which was published in most of the languages of western Europe, and is the first proclamation of that revolutionary socialism armed with all the learning of the 19th century, but expressed with the fire and energy of the agitator, which in the International and other movements has so startled the world. During the revolutionary troubles of 1848 Marx returned to Germany, and along with his comrades Engels, Wolff, &c., he supported the most advanced democracy in the New Rhenish Gazette. In 1849 he settled in London, where till his death in 1883 he applied himself to the elaboration of his economic views and to the realization of his revolutionary programme. During this period he published Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie (1859), and the first volume of his great work on capital, Das Kapital (1867).
Origin of German socialism.
The causes which have variously contributed to the rise of German socialism are sufficiently clear. With the accession of the romanticist Frederick William IV. to the throne of Prussia in 1840 German liberalism received a fresh expansion. At the same time the Hegelian school began to break up, and the interest in pure philosophy began to wane. It was a time of disillusionment, of dissatisfaction with idealism, of transition to realistic and even to materialistic ways of thinking. This found strongest expressions in the Hegelian left, to which, after the ideals of the old religions and philosophies had proved unsubstantial, there remained as solid residuum the real fact of man with his positive interests in this life. The devotion and enthusiasm which had previously been fixed on ideal and spiritual conceptions were concentrated on humanity. To adherents of the Hegelian left, who had been delivered from intellectual routine by the most intrepid spirit of criticism, and who, therefore, had little respect for the conventionalisms of a feudal society, it naturally appeared that the.interests of humanity had been cruelly sacrificed in favour of class privilege and prejudice. The greatest thinkers of Germany had recognized the noble elements in the French Revolution. To recognize also the noble and promising features of French socialism was a natural thing, especially for Germans who had been in Paris,—the great hearth of the new ideas. Here they found themselves definitely and consciously in presence of the last and greatest interest of humanity, the suffering and struggling proletariat of western Europe, which had so recently made its definite entry in the history of the world. Thus socialism became a social, political, and economic creed to Karl Marx and his associates. But they felt that the theories which preceded them were wanting in scientific basis; and it was henceforward the twofold aim of the school to give scientific form to socialism and to propagate it in Europe by the best and most effective revolutionary methods.
View of Marx and his school.
The fundamental principle of the Marx school and of the whole cognate socialism is the theory of "surplus value,"—the doctrine, namely, that, after the labourer has been paid the wage necessary for the subsistence of himself and family, the surplus produce of his labour is appropriated by the capitalist who exploits it.
This theory is an application of the principle that labour is the source of value, which was enunciated by many of the old writers on economics, such as Locke and Petty, which was set forth with some vagueness and inconsistency by Adam Smith, and was more systematically expounded by Ricardo. The socialistic application of the principle in the doctrine of surplus value had been made both by Owenites and chartists. It was to prevent this appropriation of surplus value by capitalists and middlemen that the Owen school tried the system of exchange by labour notes in 1832,—the value of goods being estimated in labour-time, represented by labour notes. The principle that labour is the source of value has been accepted in all its logical consequences by Marx, and by him elaborated with extraordinary dialectical skill and historical learning into the most complete system of socialism that has ever been formulated. A like application of the principle but in a less rigorous fashion has been made by Rodbertus; and it is the same theory that underlies the extravagancies and paradoxes of Proudhon. The question whether the priority in the scientific development of the principle is due to Marx or Rodbertus cannot be fully discussed here. But it may be said that, while the Social Letters of Rodbertus to Von Kirchmann were published in 1850, the importance of the principle was understood by the Marx school as early as 1845, and in a broad and general way had indeed become the common property of socialists. The historical importance and scientific worth of the writings of Rodbertus should not be overlooked; nor are they likely to be when so much attention has been given to him by A. Wagner and other distinguished German economists. But in the great work of Marx: the socialist theory is elaborated with a fulness of learning and a logical power to which Rodbertus has no claim. With Marx the doctrine of surplus value receives its widest application and development ; it supplies the key to his explanation of the history and influence of capital, and consequently of the present economic era, which is dominated by it. It is the basis, in fact, of a vast and elaborate system of social philosophy. In any case it is an absurdity as well as an historical error to speak of Marx as having borrowed from Rodbertus. Marx was an independent thinker of great originality and force of character, who had made the economic development of modern Europe the study of a laborious lifetime, and who was in the habit, not of borrowing, but of strongly asserting the results of his own research and of impressing them upon other men.
The great work of Marx may be described as an exposition and criticism of capital. But it is also indirectly an exposition of socialism, inasmuch as the historical evolution of capital is governed by natural laws, the inevitable tendency of which is towards socialism. It is the great aim of Marx to reveal the law of the economic movement of modern times. Now the economic movement of modern times is dominated by capital. Explain, therefore, the natural history of capital, the rise, consolidation, and decline of its supremacy as an evolutionary process, and you forecast the nature of that into which it is being transformed,—socialism. Hence the great task of the Marx school is not to preach a new economic and social gospel, not to provide ready-made schemes of social regeneration after the fashion of the early socialists, nor to counteract by alleviating measures the wretchedness of our present system, but to explain and promote the inevitable process of social evolution, so that the domination of capital may run its course and give place to the higher system that is to come.
The characteristic feature of the régime of capital, or, as Marx usually calls it, the capitalistic method of production, is, that industrial operations are carried on by individual capitalists employing free labourers, whose sole dependence is the wage they receive. Those free labourers perform the function fulfilled in other states of society by the slave and the serf. It is the tendency of the capitalistic system to consolidate those two classes,—the capitalist class, enriching itself on the profits of industry, which they control in their own interest, and the class of workers, nominally free, but without land or capital, divorced, therefore, from the means of production, and dependent on their wages,—the modern proletariat. The great aim of the capitalist is the increase of wealth through the accumulation of his profits. This accumulation is secured by the appropriation of what the socialists call surplus value. The history of the capitalistic method of production is the history of the appropriation and accumulation of surplus value. To understand the capitalistic system is to understand surplus value. With the analysis of value, therefore, the great work of Marx begins.
The wealth of the societies in which the capitalistic method of production prevails appears as an enormous collection of commodities.
Value and labour.
A commodity is in the first place an external object adapted to satisfy human wants; and this usefulness gives it value in use, makes it a use value. These use values form the material of wealth, whatever its social form may be. In modern societies, where the business of production is carried on to meet the demands of the market, for exchange, these use values appear as exchange values. Exchange value is the proportion in which use values of different kinds exchange for each other. But the enormous mass of things that circulate in the world market exchange for each other in the most different proportions. They must, however, have a common quality or they could not be compared. This common quality cannot be any of the natural properties of the commodities. In the business of exchange one thing is as good as another, provided you have it in sufficient quantity. Leaving out of consideration, therefore, the physical qualities that give commodities use value, we find in them but one common characteristic,—that they are all products of human labour. They are all crystallized forms of human labour. It is labour applied to natural objects that gives them value. What constitutes value is the human labour embodied in commodities. And the relation of exchange is only a phase of this value, which is therefore to be considered independently of it. Further, the labour-time spent in producing value is the measure of value, not this or that individual labour, in which case a lazy or unskilled man would produce as great a quantity of value as the most skilful and energetic. We must take as our standard the average labour-force of the community. The labour-time which we take as the measure of value is the time required to produce a commodity under the normal social conditions of production with the average degree of skill and intensity of labour. Thus labour is both the source and the measure of value.
Development of capitalistic regime.
As we have seen, the characteristic feature of the capitalistic system of production is that industry is controlled by capitalists employing free wagelabour; that is, while the capitalist owns and controls the means of production, the free labourer has lost all ownership in land and capital and has nothing to depend on but his wage. This condition of things was established only after a long and gradual process of social change, which Marx copiously illustrates from the history of England, as the classic land of the fully developed capitalism. In the Middle Ages the craftsman and peasant were the owners of the small means of production then extant, and they produced for their own needs and for their feudal superior; only the superfluity went into the general market. Such production was necessarily small, limited, and technically imperfect. Towards the close of the Middle Ages a great change set in caused by a remarkable combination of circumstances,—the downfall of the feudal system and of the Catholic Church, the discovery of America and of the sea route to India. Through the breaking up of the feudal houses with their numerous retainers, through the transformation of the old peasant-holdings into extensive sheep-runs, and generally through the prevalent application of the commercial system to the management of land instead of the Catholic and feudal spirit, the peasantry were driven off the land, a multitude of people totally destitute of property were thrown loose from their old means of livelihood, and were reduced to vagabondage or forced into the towns. It was in this way that the modern proletarians made their tragic entry in history. On the other hand, there was a parallel development of the capitalist class, brought about by the slave trade, the exploitation of the American colonies and of both the Indies, and by the robbery, violence, and corruption which attended the transference of the land from the Catholic and feudal to the modern régime. The opening and extension of the great world market, moreover, gave a great stimulus to industry at home. The old guilds having already been expropriated and dissolved, the early organization of industry under the control of an infant capitalism passed through its first painful and laborious stages, till with the great mechanical inventions, with the application of steam as the motive power, and the rise of the factory system towards the close of the 18th century, the great industrial revolution was accomplished, and the capitalistic method of production attained to its colossal manhood.
The capitalistic system thus established, we have to remember that in all its forms, and throughout all the stages of its history, the great aim of the capitalist is to increase and consolidate his gains through the appropriation of surplus value. This appropriation of surplus value is a very old phenomenon in human society. In all the forms of society which depended on slave labour, and under the feudal régime, the appropriation of the results of other men’s labour was open and undisguised. Under the capitalistic system it is disguised under the form of free contract. The workman appears on the labour market with the sole commodity of which he has to dispose, his labour force, and sells it for a specified time at the price it can bring, which we call his wage, and which is equivalent to the average means of subsistence required to support himself and to provide for the future supply of labour (in his family). But the labour force of the workman as utilized by the capitalist in the factory or the mine produces a net value in excess of his wage. That is, over and above his entire outlay, including the wage paid to his workmen, the capitalist finds himself in possession of a surplus, which can only represent the "unpaid labour" of his workmen. This surplus is the surplus value of Karl Marx, the product of unpaid labour. This it is which the capitalist seeks to obtain and to accumulate by all the methods available. These methods are described by Marx with great detail and elaboration through several hundred pages of his first volume. His account, supported at every step by long and copious citations from the best historical authorities and from the blue-books of the various parliamentary commissions, is a lurid and ghastly picture of the many abuses of English industrialism. It is the dark and gloomy reverse of the industrial glories of England. The fearful prolongation of the hours of labour, the merciless exploitation of women, and of children from the age of infancy, the utter neglect of sanitary conditions, whatever could lessen the costs of production and swell the profits of the capitalist, though every law of man and nature were violated in the process,—such are the historical facts which Marx emphasizes and illustrates with an overwhelming force of evidence. They receive ample confirmation in the history of the English Factory Acts, imposed on greedy and unscrupulous capitalists after a severe struggle prolonged for half a century, and required to prevent the moral and physical ruin of the industrial population.
Results of capitalistic system.
It will be seen that the first and most conspicuous result of the capitalistic system is that, while production is a social operation carried on by men organized and associated in factories, the product is appropriated by individual capitalists : it is social production and capitalistic appropriation. Another conspicuous and important result is that, while we have this organization in the factories, we have outside of them all the anarchy of competition. We have the capitalistic appropriators of the product of labour contending for the possession of the market, without systematic regard to the supply required by that market—each one filling the market only as dictated by his own interest, and trying to out do his rivals by all the methods of adulteration, bribery, and intrigue,—an economic war hurtful to the best interests of society. With the development of the capitalistic system machinery is more and more perfected, for to neglect improvement is to succumb in the struggle; the improved machinery renders labour superfluous, which is accordingly thrown idle and exposed to starvation. But, as the technique improves, the productive power of industry increases, and continually tends more and more to surpass the available needs of the market, wide as it is. The consequence is that the market tends to be overstocked even to absolute repletion; goods will not sell, and a commercial crisis is established, in which we have the remarkable phenomenon of widespread panic, misery, and starvation resulting from a superabundance of wealth,—a "crise pléthorique," as Fourier called it, a crisis due to a plethora of wealth. These crises occur at periodic intervals, each one severer and more widespread than the preceding, until they now tend to become chronic and permanent, and the whole capitalistic world staggers under an atlantean weight of ill-distributed wealth. Thus the process goes on in obedience to its own inherent laws. Production is more and more concentrated in the hands of mammoth capitalists and colossal joint-stock companies, under which the proletariat are organized and drilled into vast industrial armies. But, as crisis succeeds crisis, until panic, stagnation, and disorder are universal, it becomes clear that the bourgeoisie are no longer capable of controlling the industrial world. The incompatibility between social production and anarchic distribution decidedly declares itself. With the progress of democracy the proletariat seizes the political power, and through it at last takes complete control over the economic functions of society. It expropriates the private capitalist and appropriating the means of production manages them in its own interest, which is the interest of society as a whole ; society passes into the socialistic stage through a revolution determined by the natural laws of social evolution, and not by a merely arbitrary exercise of power. It is a result determined by the inherent laws of social evolution, independent of the will and purpose of individual men. All that the most powerful and clear-sighted intellect can do is to learn to divine the laws of the great movement of society, and to shorten and alleviate the birth-pangs of the new era. The efforts of reactionaries of every class to turn the wheel of history backwards are in vain. But an intelligent appreciation of its tendencies and a willing co-operation with them will make progress easier, smoother, and more rapid.
It will have been seen that what Marx and his school contemplate is an economic revolution brought about in accordance with the natural laws of historic evolution. But in order to understand the full import of this revolution in the mind of Marx we must remember that he regards the economic order of society as the groundwork of the same, determining all the other forms of social order. The entire legal and political structure as well as philosophy and religion are constituted and controlled in accordance with the economic basis. This is in harmony with his method and his conception of the world, which is the Hegelian reversed. "For Hegel the thought process, which he transforms into an independent subject under the name idea, is the creator of the real, which forms only its external manifestation. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material transformed and translated in the human brain." His conception of the world is a frank and avowed materialism. His method is the dialectic applied to a world thus understood ; the business of inquiry, namely, is to trace the connexion and concatenation in the links that make up the process of historic evolution, to investigate how one stage succeeds another in the development of society, the facts and forms of human life and history not being stable and stereotyped things, but the ever-changing manifestations of the fluent and unresting real, the course of which it is the duty of science to reveal. The whole position of the Marx school may therefore be characterized as evolutionary and revolutionary socialism, based on a materialistic conception of the world and of human history. Socialism is a social revolution determined by the laws of historic evolution—a revolution which, changing the economic groundwork of society, will change the whole structure.
Criticism of Marx's views.
It will be seen that the work of Marx is a natural history of capital, especially in its relation to labour, and in its most essential features is a development of two of the leading principles of the classic economics,—that labour is the source of value, but that of this value the labourer obtains for himself merely a subsistence wage, the surplus being appropriated by the exploiting capitalist. Marx’s great work may be described as an elaborate historical development of this glaring fundamental contradiction of the Ricardian economics, the contradiction between the iron law of wages and the great principle that labour is the source of wealth. Marx’s conception of labour is the same as that of Ricardo, and as a logical exposition of the historic contradiction between the two principles on the basis of Ricardo the work of Marx is quite unanswerable. It is obvious, however, that the definition of labour assumed both in Ricardo and Marx is too narrow. The labour they broadly posit as the source of wealth is manual labour. In the early stages of industry, when the market was small and limited and the technique was of the simplest and rudest description, labour in that sense might correctly enough be described as the source of value. But in modern industry, when the market is worldwide, the technique most complex, and the competition most severe, when inventiveness, sagacity, courage, and decision in initiative, and skill in management, are factors so important, no such exclusive place as has been claimed can be assigned to labour. The Ricardian principle, therefore, falls to the ground. And it is not historically true to maintain, as Marx does, that the profits of the capitalist are obtained simply by appropriating the products of unpaid labour. In initiating and managing the capitalist is charged with the most difficult and important part of the work of production. As a natural consequence it follows that Marx is also historically inaccurate in roundly explaining capital as the accumulation of unpaid labour appropriated by the capitalist. In past accumulation, as in the control and management of industry generally, the capitalist has had the leading part. Capital, therefore, is not necessarily robbery, and in an economic order in which the system of free exchange is the rule, and the mutually beneficial interchange of utilities, no objection can be raised to the principle of lending and borrowing of money for interest. In short, in his theory of unpaid labour as supplying the key to his explanation of the genesis and development of the capitalistic system Marx is not true to history. It is the perfectly logical outcome of certain of the leading principles of the Ricardian school, but it does not give an adequate or accurate account of the facts of economic evolution.
It may indeed be maintained that in his theory of unpaid labour Marx is not consistent with the general principles of his own philosophy of social evolution. With him history is a process determined by material forces, a succession of orderly phenomena controlled by natural laws. Now we may waive the objection suggested by the principle enunciated in the Marx school itself, that it is not legitimate to apply ethical categories in judgment on economic processes that are merely natural, which, however, Marx does with revolutionary emphasis throughout some hundreds of pages of his great work. It is more important to point out, in perfect consistency with the principles of the school, that the energy and inventiveness of the early capitalists especially were the most essential factors in determining the existence and development of a great economic era, and that the assertion of freedom was an indispensable condition in breaking the bonds of the old feudal order, which the new system displaced. Instead, therefore, of living and growing rich on the produce of unpaid labour, the capitalist had a great social and industrial function to perform, and played a great part in historic evolution. The position and function of the workman was subordinate.
There can be no doubt that in his theory of surplus value obtained from unpaid labour Marx as agitator and controversialist has fallen into serious contradiction with himself as scientific historian and philosopher. The theory that labour is the source of value was widely accepted among economists during his early life, and by its justice and nobleness it was well adapted to the comfortable optimism prevalent among so many of the classical school. The economists, however, did not follow the principle to its obvious conclusion, that if labour is the source of wealth the labourer should enjoy it all. It was otherwise with the socialists, who were not slow to perceive the bearing of the theory on the existing economic order. In his controversial treatise against Proudhon Marx gives a list of writers (beginning with the political economy of Hopkins, published in 1822, only five years after the appearance of Ricardo’s great work) by whom the principle was applied to revolutionary purposes. Its simplicity and seeming effectiveness must have made it most attractive. As posited by the classic economy and applied by the socialists Marx accepted the principle. It was an unanswerable argumentum ad hominem when addressed to an economist of the Ricardian school; but it should have broken down when confronted with historical fact. Nevertheless it was made and continued to be the foundation stone of the system of Marx, and is really its weakest point. His doctrine of surplus value is the vitiating factor in his history of the capitalistic system. The most obvious excuse for him is that he borrowed it from the classic economists. It would be the greatest possible mistake, however, to make this a reason for undervaluing the remarkable services rendered to economics by Karl Marx. He spent forty laborious years almost wholly in exile as the scientific champion of the proletariat. In the combination of learning, philosophic acumen, and literary power he is probably second to no economic thinker of the 19th century. He seems to have been master of the whole range of economic literature, and wielded it with a logical skill not less masterly. But his great strength lay in his knowledge of the technical and economic development of modern industry and in his marvellous insight into the tendencies in social evolution determined by the technical and economic factors. Whether his theories in this department are right or wrong they have suggested questions that will demand the attention of economic thinkers for a long time to come. It is in this department and not in his theory of surplus value that Marx’s significance as a scientific economist is to be found.
The great merit of Marx, therefore, lies in the work he has done as scientific inquirer into the economic movement of modern times, as the philosophic historian of the capitalistic era. It is now admitted by all inquirers worthy of the name that history, including economic history, is a succession of orderly phenomena, that each phase in the line of succession is marked by facts and tendencies more or less peculiar to itself, and that laws and principles which we now condemn had formerly an historical necessity, justification, and validity. In accordance with this fundamental principle of historical evolution arrangements and institutions which were once necessary, and originally formed a stage in human progress, may gradually develop contradictions and abuses and thus become more or less antiquated. The economic social and political forms which were the progressive and even adequate expressions of the life of one era become hindrances and fetters to the life of the succeeding times. This, the school of Karl Marx says, is precisely the condition of the present economic order. The existing arrangements of landlord, capitalist, and wage-labourer under free competition are burdened with contradiction and abuse. The life of society is being strangled by the forms which once promoted it. They maintain that the really vital and powerful tendencies of our time are towards a higher and wider form of social and economic organization,—towards socialism. This we believe to be the central point of the whole question ; but the fuller discussion of it can more conveniently be postponed to the close of this article, when we come to consider socialism as a whole.
The opinions of Marx were destined to find expression in two movements, which have played a considerable part in recent history,—the International and the social democracy at of Germany. Of the International Marx was the inspiring and controlling head from the beginning; and the German social democracy, though originated by Lassalle, before long fell under Marx’s influence. Marx wrote the famous inaugural address of the International and drew up its statutes, maintaining a moderation of tone which contrasted strongly with the outspoken vigour of the communist manifesto of 1847. But it was not long before the revolutionary socialism which underlay the movement gained the upper hand. This found strongest expression in the address drawn up by Marx in 1871 after the suppression of the commune, and entitled The Civil War in France. The International was not responsible for the revolt of the commune, which was a rising for the autonomy of Paris, supported chiefly by the lower classes. It was a protest against excessive centralization raised by the democracy of Paris, which has always been far in advance of the provinces, and which found itself in possession of arms after the siege of the town by the Germans. But, while it was prominently an assertion of local autonomy, it was also a revolt against the economic oppression of the moneyed classes, and thus contained within it strong socialistic tendencies. The socialists properly so called were only a small minority. In this address, however, Marx and his associates made themselves morally solidaire with the commune. They saw in it a great rising against the existing conditions of the Parisian proletariat, which only partially saw the way of deliverance, but was tired of oppression and full of just indignation against the tyrannous upper classes, that controlled the central government of France. This address, if it tended to increase the prestige of the International, greatly reduced its real influence. Its last meeting as controlled br Marx took place at The Hague in 1872. The chief himself was present, and succeeded in casting out the anarchist following of Bakunin; but it was the expiring effort. See INTERNATIONAL.
German social democracy.
This loss of influence by Marx was in the meantime more than compensated by his success in gaining control so over the social democracy of Germany. Of the workmen’s unions which had grown so rapidly in Germany in the years following 1860, and which had first been patronized by the Progressist party, some had attached themselves to the national socialism of Lassalle, but many held aloof from that movement, and under the influence of Liebknecht and Bebel were gradually drawn over to the views of Marx. At Lassalle’s death in 1864 his "general working-men’s union of Germany" numbered only 4610 members. After losing its founder the union bad a changeful and somewhat precarious career for a time; and it was only under the presidency of Von Schweitzer, which lasted for four years (1867-1871), that it began moderately to flourish. In the meantime the adverse party also made considerable progress. The confederation of German unions, which was founded in 1863, declared in 1865 for universal suffrage, pronounced against the Schulze-Delitzsch schemes in 1866, and in the congress at Nuremberg of 1868 by a large majority declared their adhesion to the International. In a great congress at Eisenach in 1869 they founded the "social democratic working-men’s party," and in the same year sent representatives to the International congress at Basel. Great efforts were made for a fusion of the Eisenach and the Lassalle party, and this was effected in a congress at Gotha (May 1875). At this congress 25,000 regular members were represented, of whom 9000 belonged to the Marx party and 15,000 to that of Lassalle. The united body assumed the name of the "socialistic working-men’s party of Germany," and drew up a programme, which, as the most important manifesto hitherto published by any socialist body, deserves to be given entire.
Programme of socialistic working-man's party.
I. Labour is the source of all wealth and all culture, and as useful work in general is possible only through society, so to society—that is, to all its members—belongs the entire product of labour by an equal right, to each one according to his reasonable wants,—all being bound to work.
In the existing society the instruments of labour are a monopoly of the capitalist class; the subjection of the working class thus arising is the cause of misery and servitude in every form.
The emancipation of the working class demands the transformation of the instruments of labour into the common property of society and the co-operative control of the total labour, with application of the product of labour to the common good, and just distribution of the same.
The emancipation of labour must be the work of the labouring class, in contrast to which all other classes are only a reactionary mass.
II. Proceeding from these principles, the socialistic working-men’s party of Germany aims by all legal means at the establishment of the free state and the socialistic society, to destroy the iron law of wages by abolishing the system of wage-labour, to put a term to exploitation in every form, to remove all social and political inequality.
The socialistic working-men’s party of Germany, though working first of all within the national limits, is conscious of the international character of the labour movement, and resolved to fulfil all duties which this imposes on the workmen, in order to realize the universal brotherhood of men.
In order to prepare the way for the solution of the social question, the socialistic workingmen’s party of Germany demands the establishment of socialistic productive associations with state help under the democratic control of the labouring people. The productive associations are to be founded on such a scale both for industry and agriculture that out of them may develop the socialistic organization of the total labour.
The socialistic working-men’s party demands as bases of the state—(1) universal, equal, and direct right of electing and voting, with secret and obligatory voting, of all citizens from twenty years of age for all elections and deliberations in the state and local bodies ; the day of election or voting must be a Sunday or holiday; (2) direct legislation by the people ; questions of war and peace to be decided by the people ; (3) universal military duty ; a people’s army in place of the standing armies ; (4) abolition of all exceptional laws, especially as regards the press, unions, and meetings, and generally of all laws which restrict freedom of thought and inquiry ; (5) administration of justice by the people ; free justice (6) universal and equal education by the state ; compulsory education ; free education in all public places of instruction ; religion declared to be a private concern.
Within the existing society the socialistic working-men’s party of Germany demands—(1) greatest possible extension of political rights and liberties in the sense of the above demands ; (2) a single progressive income-tax for state and local purposes, instead of the existing taxes, and especially of the indirect taxes that oppress the people ; (3) unrestricted right of combination ; (4) a normal working-day corresponding to the needs of society; prohibition of Sunday labour ; (5) prohibition of labour of children, and of all women’s work injurious to health and morality ; (6) laws for the protection of the life and health of workmen ; sanitary control of workmen’s dwellings ; inspection of mines, of factories, workshops, and house-labour, by officials chosen by the workmen ; an effective employers’ liability Act ; (7) regulation of prison labour ; (8) workmen’s funds to be under the entire control of the workmen.
By this time the socialism of Germany began to be a power, which was calculated to excite grave alarm among the ruling classes. The social democrats had returned five members to the North German diet in 1867. For the German diet in 1871 they had counted only 120,000 votes, and returned two members; but in 1877 they had returned twelve members and polled nearly half a million. In Berlin the socialist voting strength had risen from 6695 in 1871 to 57,511 in 1878—an increase which was all the more remarkable that Lassalle could hardly obtain a hearing in the capital when he commenced his career. A much more significant feature of the movement was the admirable state of organization to which the socialist propaganda had attained. A large number of skilful, intelligent, and energetic agitators spread their doctrines throughout Germany; a whole machinery of newspapers, pamphlets, treatises, social gatherings, and even almanacs diffused the new creed. In all the great centres of population, in Berlin, Hamburg, and the industrial towns in Saxony and on the Rhine, the socialists were rapidly tending to become the strongest party. The Government accordingly intervened with exceptional legislation, which in 1878 was carried during the excitement occasioned by the attempts on the emperor’s life of Hödel and Nobeling. These exceptional laws, though administered with great rigour, have not by any means succeeded in arresting the progress of the movement, as at the election to the Reichstag in 1884 the socialists polled about 600,000 votes and returned twenty-four members. Berlin alone counted 68,000 socialist voters. In the last report relating to the anti-socialist law laid before the Reichstag (1885) the continued progress of the party is admitted.
Catholic socialism of Germany.
The participation of the Catholic Church of Germany in the social question dates from the period of the Lassalle agitation. In 1863 Döllinger recommended that the church should intervene in the movement, and Bishop von Ketteler of Mainz lost no time in expressing sympathy with Lassalle. In a treatise entitled Die Arbeiterfrage und das Christenthum (1864) Ketteler criticizes the liberalism of the Manchester school in substantially the same terms as Lassalle, and recommends the voluntary formation of productive associations with capital supplied by the faithful. In 1868 the Catholic socialism of Germany took a more practical form: it started an organ of its own and began to organize unions for the elevation of the working men. The principles of the movement have been with some precision expounded by Canon Moufang in an electoral address at Mainz (1871), and by the writers in their organ. All agree in condemning the principles of liberalism, especially in its economic aspects, as destructive of society and pernicious to the working-man, who, under the pretence of freedom, is exposed to all the precariousness and anarchy of competition and sacrificed to the iron law of wages. Self-help as practised in the Schulze-Delitzsch schemes is also considered to be no sure way of deliverance. This general remedy is union on Catholic principles, especially the formation of trade guilds suited to modern exigencies, which some of their leaders would make a compulsory measure enforced by the state. The views of Moufang, which are most definite, may be thus summarized: legal protection for the workers, especially as regards hours of labour, wages, the labour of women and children, sanitation; subventions for workmen’s productive associations; lightening of taxes on labour; control of the moneyed and speculating interests. In the organization of unions the success of Catholic socialism has been great; and the social democrats admit that they can make no progress in Catholic districts where the church has developed its social activity.
The socialist activity of the Protestant Church of Germany dates from 1878. The most important literary product of the movement is a work by Pastor Todt entitled Der radikale deutsche Socialismus und die christliche Gesellschaft. In this work Todt condemns the economics of liberalism as unchristian, and seeks to show that the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity are entirely Scriptural, as are also the socialist demands for the abolition of private property and of the wage system, that the labourer should have the full produce of his labour, and that labour should be associated. The chief leader of the movement is the court preacher Stöcker, the head also of the anti-Semitic agitation, which is largely traceable to economic causes. Stöcker founded two associations,—a central union for social reform, consisting of members of the middle classes interested in the emancipation of labour, and a Christian social working-men’s party. The former has had considerable success, especially among the Lutheran clergy. The movement has met with the most strenuous resistance from the social democratic party and has been greatly hampered by the anti-socialist law of 1878.
Little can here be said of the state socialism of Bismarck,—a very recent movement, which has not yet had time to pass into history. Its leading principles were announced in an imperial message to the Reichstag in November 1881. Besides the repressive measures necessary to restrain the excesses of the social democracy, the emperor declared that the healing of social evils was to be sought in positive measures for the good of the working man. The measures proposed were for the insurance of the workmen against accident, sickness, old age, and inability to work by arrangements under state control. "The finding of the right ways and means for this state protection of the working man is a difficult task, but also one of the highest that concern every society standing on the ethical foundations of the Christian national life." The message then proceeds to speak of measures for "organizing the life of the people in the form of corporative associations under the protection and furtherance of the state,"—a clause which might be taken as an admission of the collectivist principle. As yet the imperial programme has only been partially realized. It will be obvious that such measures can be rightly appreciated only with reference to the general theory and practice of Prussian government.
Anarchism of Bakhunin.
The acknowledged father of anarchism is PROUDHON (q.v.); but the doctrine owes its development chiefly to Russian thinkers who had been trained in the Hegelian left. The great apostle of the system in its advanced and most characteristic stage was Michael Bakunin. Bakunin was sprung from the highest Russian aristocracy, and was born at Torshok, in the government of Tver, in 1814. Leaving the army, in which he served for some time, he visited western Europe, chiefly Paris, where he met George Sand and Proudhon in 1847. For his share in the German disturbances of 1849 he was imprisoned in Russia for several years and then sent to Siberia, from which he escaped, and spent the rest of his life in exile in western Europe, principally in Switzerland. In 1869 he founded the Social Democratic Alliance, which, however, dissolved in the same year and entered the International. In 1870 he attempted a rising at Lyons on the principles afterwards exemplified by the Paris commune. At the Hague congress of the International in 1872 he was outvoted and expelled by the Marx party. Bakunin’s activity was most remarkable as an agitator. The international socialism of the Romance countries, especially that of Spain and Italy, has been largely moulded by him. He died at Bern in 1876. Nothing can be clearer or more frank and comprehensive in its destructiveness than the socialism of Bakunin. It is revolutionary socialism based on materialism and aiming at the destruction of external authority by every available means. He rejects all the ideal systems in every name and shape, from the idea of God downwards; and he rejects every form of external authority, whether emanating from the will of a sovereign or from universal suffrage. "The liberty of man," he says in his Dieu et L’Etat, "consists solely in this, that he obey the laws of nature, because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been imposed upon him externally by any foreign will whatsoever, human or divine, collective or individual." In this way will the whole problem of freedom be solved: that natural laws be ascertained by scientific discovery, and the knowledge of them be universally diffused among the masses. Natural laws being thus recognized by every man for himself, he cannot but obey them, for they are the laws also of his own nature; and the need for political organization, administration, and legislation will at once disappear. Nor will he admit of any privileged position or class, for "it is the peculiarity of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the intellect and heart of man. The privileged man, whether he be privileged politically or economically, is a man depraved in intellect and heart." "In a word, we object to all legislation, all authority, and all influence, privileged, patented, official, and legal, even when it has proceeded from universal suffrage, convinced that it must always turn to the profit of a dominating and exploiting minority, against the interests of the immense majority enslaved." The anarchy of Bakunin is therefore essentially the same as that of Proudhon, but expressed without paradox, and with a destructive revolutionary energy which has seldom been equalled in history. What they both contemplate is a condition of human enlightenment and self-control in which the individual shall be a law to himself, and in which all external authority shall be abolished as a despotic interference with personal freedom. It is an ideal to which the highest religion and philosophy look forward as the goal of man, not as one, however, which can be forthwith reached through the wholesale destruction of the present framework of society, but through a long process of ethical and social improvement. The error of the anarchists consists in their impatient insistence on this proclamation of absolute freedom in the present debased condition of the great mass of the people in every class. They insist on taking the last step in social development before they have quite taken the first. The other leading principles of anarchism will be best understood from the following extracts taken from the programme of the International Social Democratic Alliance. The Alliance demands above all things the definitive and complete abolition of classes, and political, economic, and social equality of individuals and sexes, and abolition of inheritance, so that in the future every man may enjoy a like share in the produce of labour; that land and soil, instruments of labour, and all other capital, becoming the common property of the whole society, may be used only by the workers, that is, by associations of cultivators and industrialists. It looks forward to the final solution of the social question through the universal and international solidarity of the workers of all countries, and condemns every policy grounded on so-called patriotism and national jealousy. It demands the universal federation of all local associations through the principle of freedom. Bakunin’s methods of realizing his revolutionary programme are not less frank and destructive than his principles. The revolutionist, as he would recommend him to be, is a consecrated man, who will allow no private interests or feelings, and no scruples of religion, patriotism, or morality, to turn him aside from his mission, the aim of which is by all available means to overturn the existing society. His work is merciless and universal destruction. The future organization will doubtless proceed out of the movement and life of the people, but it is the concern of coming generations. In the meantime all that Bakunin enables us to see as promise of future reconstruction is the free federation of free associations,—associations of which we find the type in the Russian commune.
Bakunin, as we have seen, has had great influence on the socialism of the Romance countries. The important risings in Spain in 1873 were due to his activity; and the socialism of Italy has been largely inspired by him.
In those countries, as well as in France and French Switzerland, anarchist doctrines of the same general type as that of Bakunin are still in vogue, and are advocated by men of mark in literature and science like Kropotkine and Elisée Reclus. The views of the propaganda which they represent were most clearly and distinctly brought out during the great anarchist trial at Lyons in 1883. What they aim at is the most absolute freedom, the most complete satisfaction of human wants, without other limit than the impossibilities of nature and the wants of their neighbours equally worthy of respect. They object to all authority and all government on principle, and in all human relations would in place of legal and administrative control substitute free contract, perpetually subject to revision and cancelment. But, as no freedom is possible in a society where capital is monopolized by a diminishing minority, they believe that capital, the common inheritance of humanity, since it is the fruit of the co-operation of past and present generations, ought to be at the disposal of all, so that no man be excluded from it, and no man seize part of it to the detriment of the rest. In a word, they wish equality, equality of fact, as corollary or rather as primordial condition of freedom. From each one according to his faculties; to each one according to his needs. They demand bread for all, science for all, work for all; for all, too, independence and justice. Even a government based on universal suffrage gives them no scope for effective action in the deliverance of the poor, as they maintain that of the eight million electors of France only some half a million are in a position to give a free vote. In such a state of affairs, and in view of the continued misery and degradation of the proletariat, they proclaim the sacred right of insurrection as the ultima ratio servorum.
It is an interesting fact that socialism has taken its most aggressive form in that European country whose civilization is most recent. The revolutionary opinions of Russia are not the growth of the soil, and are not the natural and normal outcome of its own social development: they have been imported from abroad. Falling on youthful and enthusiastic temperaments which had not previously been inoculated with the principle of innovation, the now ideas have broken forth with an irrepressible and uncompromising vigour which has astonished the older nations of Europe. Another peculiarity of the situation is that the Government is an autocracy served or controlled by a camarilla largely foreign both in origin and sympathy. In this case, then, we have a revolutionary party inspired by the socialism of western Europe fighting against a Government which is also in many ways an exotic and is not rooted in the mass of the people. The chief support of the Government is to be found in the reverence of the peasantry for the person and office of the czar, while the nihilists look upon the communal institutions of the country as their great ground of hope. Considered as a national movement, three distinct stages are recognized in the phenomena called Russian nihilism. In its first stage it was a speculative and anti-religious tendency, destructive of all orthodox tradition and authority. It was the spirit of the Hegelian left frankly accepting the materialism of Büchner and Moleschott as the final deliverance of philosophy; and the time was the early years of Alexander II when the old despotic restraints were so largely removed,—a period of reform and innovation and comparative freedom. In a country where religion had little influence among educated classes, and where philosophy was not a slow and gradual growth of the native mind, but a fashion import from abroad, the most destructive materialism found an easy conquest. It was the prevalent form among the advanced thinkers; it was clear, simple, and thorough and it suited well the anti-religious mood of the time. By the side of this negative speculation, however, the Russian, youth became aware of a new creed, destructive also in its beginnings, but full of the positive promise of future recostruction and regeneration,—socialism. Here they saw the struggle of the proletariat, so terribly conspicuous the Paris commune, which attracted universal attention 1871, a proletariat represented in Russia by a nation of peasantry sunk in immemorial ignorance and wretchedness. At this period hundreds of young Russians of both sexes were studying in western Europe, especially in Switzerland. In 1873 they were by an imperial ukaze recalled home, but they carried the new ideas with then. The period of speculation was succeeded by a period of socialist propaganda, which naturally met with implacable opposition and merciless repression from the Government. As they received no mercy, the nihilists determined to show none; and in 1878 began the terrible duel of the Russia revolutionists against the autocracy and its servants, whic culminated in the violent death of Alexander II. in 1881.
How far we are to regard the revolutionary movement of Russia as cognate in principle with anarchism is not easy to determine. In despotic countries, where constitutional reform and opposition to government are not tolerated, resolute innovators are naturally driven to secre conspiracy and to violent action. What distinguishes the Russian revolutionary party from other movements of a like nature is the intensity of the enthusiastic devotion and self sacrifice with which they have braved death, imprisonment, exile, and privation in every form and the calculating skill with which they have called the resources of modern chemistry to their aid. There is no doubt that the doctrines of men like Bakunin have had great influence on Russian socialism; but so have the writings of Marx as also of J. S. Mill and other advanced thinkers, who have no connexion with anarchism. It is certain that the leaders of the revolutionary party resorted to violent measures only after their peaceful propaganda was being ruthlessly suppressed. With regard to political reform many of their leaders have declared that they would be satisfied with constitutionalism. In the address sent to the emperor Alexander III. after the death of his father in March 1881, the executive committee of the revolutionary party offered to submit unconditionally to a national assembly duly elected by the people. In this recognition of constitutionalism, as well as in the strongly centralized organization of their executive, the Russian revolutionary party are essentially at variance with anarchism. In economics they advocate a thoroughgoing collectivism.
Classification of schools of socialism.
We have now given a brief outline of the various forms of socialism as they have historically appeared. It may be useful to group them as accurately and clearly as possible. (1) Experiments in socialism conducted by private initiative, as carried on in the schools of Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen; not that they objected to state help, but that, in point of fact, their efforts were conducted by private means. (2) Productive associations with state help : the programme of economic change favoured by Louis Blanc and Lassalle. (3) The Marx school of socialism, scientific and revolutionary, beyond all comparison the most important and most influential of all forms of socialism. (4) Anarchism. (5) Nihilism. (6) Christian socialism; inasmuch as the various phases of Christian socialism condemn the principle of competition as operating in modern industry, and favour the organization of labour on united principles, and especially of productive associations with a common capital and an equitable system of distribution, they must be regarded as true forms of socialism. (7) To these should be added the speculative socialism of which Rodbertus is the most remarkable example; recognizing the fundamental evils of the present system and agreeing with the Marx school in holding that socialism is the next stage in social evolution, Rodbertus believed that the period of its realization is so remote that any decidedly practical effort towards that end is inapplicable; hence he could only recommend transitional remedial measures, which will at least circumscribe the mischief inherent in the present economic order and also pave the way towards a better state. (8) And last of all may be added the various forms of state socialism, which are all examples of state action on behalf of the poor, especially of the use of the public resources for that purpose. The word "socialism" is very frequently used in this sense. As the continued use of the word in such a way is almost a certainty, this phase of the subject must be recognized here. It may be described as socialistic inasmuch as it fully admits the responsibility of society for all its members; but in many respects its tendencies are opposed to true socialism. It is a vague movement which has not yet had time to take shape, and cannot be discussed here. "Socialism of the chair" has already been discussed under POLITICAL ECONOMY, vol. xix. p. 393.
The above classification can of course pretend only to be a rough and general one. The various heads of the classification are not exclusive. The first variety has chiefly an historical interest. The American communities (discussed under COMMUNISM) are really cases of the old crude communism. Productive associations with state help stand on the Gotha programme of the social democrats of Germany. They are recommended by Christian socialists, both Catholic and Protestant, and they form an important item in the programme of the "knights of labour" of America. The resemblance in type between the "community" of Owen, the phalange of Fourier, the mir or commune of Russia, and the free commune of Bakunin is apparent. It is the social unit as determined by obvious economic, local, and historical conditions, and in socialism naturally becomes the point of departure for a new construction of society. It will have been noted that most of the important phases of socialism have been and are international in sympathy and activity. The Marx socialism is spreading in nearly every country of the civilized world, the doctrine being diffused by energetic agitators, and not seldom by men of philosophic and literary culture. In late years this is true both of France and England. It is well known how active anarchism has been. The Christian socialist movement is more or less operative in Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, and to some extent in England.
In this article our aim has been to give an expository and historical account of the various phases of socialism. It is impossible even to refer to all the different questions suggested in our sketch; and to discuss the relations of antagonism and affinity between socialism and the prevailing social and economic ideas and institutions would require a long and elaborate treatise. In the course of the article many obvious points of relationship, and particularly of contrast, between socialism and political economy have presented themselves. All that we can now do is to emphasize a few of the more important of these.
Relations to political economy.
The scope of the current political economy of Great Britain may be broadly defined as follows:— given the existing to arrangements with regard to land, capital, and labour, to determine the economic phenomena and the economic laws that will prevail under a system of free individual competition. As we have abundantly seen, socialism is diametrically opposed to the permanent continuance of these arrangements. It looks forward to the time when the present system of individual property in land and capital served by wage-labour will pass away, and when free competition on that basis will cease with the system of which it is a part. It regards the present economic order with the laws and conditions peculiar to it as a passing phase in the historic evolution of mankind, with no greater claim to permanence or finality than other historic eras which have bad their day. What enlightened socialism above all demands is that an unprejudiced science should endeavour to distinguish between such economic laws as are permanently grounded in the nature of man and his environment and such as have their validity only in the existing economic order, between such as are enduringly founded on nature and such as are only the accidents or temporary manifestations of a changing civilization. Socialists appeal to history to prove that what the orthodox economy considered the natural and normal order of things, with its distribution of wealth under the three categories of rent, profit, and wages, is really an exceptional phenomenon limited both in extent and duration. It is therefore an obvious error to speak of socialism as roundly controverting economic law. It is no business of socialism to controvert a law grounded in nature, such as the physiological basis of the law of population; but it denies the applicability of the Malthusian precept under the present condition, when wealth is superabundant, but badly distributed owing to causes for which neither nature nor science, but human selfishness and ignorance are responsible. Nor does it lie in the principles of socialism to question the validity of those special economic laws that hold good under the present economic order. Some of these, such as the iron law of wages, socialism is disposed rather to accentuate unduly as a necessity of the present system. It is the aim of socialism to abolish the conditions under which such laws have their validity. Socialists object to the present economic order because of the necessity of results which are opposed to human wellbeing. They object entirely to the existing order with its distribution of the produce of labour into the three categories of rent, profit, and wages, because on it are founded class distinctions, with the consequent antagonism of classes, and the subjection and degradation of the lower classes,—holding that economic subjection involves all other forms of subjection and degradation. In short, scientific socialism as represented by Marx and Friedrich Engels appeals against the existing economic order, of which the orthodox political economy is an exposition and for which it is so frequently an apology, to the higher laws and principles of social evolution as determined by the nature of man in relation to the environment in which he lives and develops.
There is no space here to trace historically the influence of political economy in the genesis of socialism, nor that of socialism on the recent political economy. It has naturally been the tendency of socialism to emphasize the idea of the worth and significance of labour, so prominent in the school of Adam Smith. This was one of the most valuable features of the Saint-Simon school, otherwise so much disfigured with utopianism and extravagance. As we have seen, the socialism of Marx is in some of its most important aspects a development of Ricardian principles. Turning to the influence of socialism on political economists, we need but refer to that exercised by French socialism on J. S. Mill, as described in his Autobiography. The economics of Germany has for the last fifteen years been most powerfully affected by the theories of Lassalle, Marx, and latterly also of Rodbertus. The causes which have produced socialism have also affected economics; but a large part of the change is due directly to the teaching of the socialists, especially of Marx, whose great work is recognized as of the first importance. Without commanding assent to its leading conclusions, socialism has given a new direction to most of the recent Continental research in political economy. The German "socialism of the chair," the influence of which is by no means confined to the country that produced it, is sufficient evidence of this.
Relation to Darwinism.
As we have already seen, Marx and his school accept in the completest form the doctrine of evolution, which they learned first in Hegel, but finally hold as taught by Darwin; and, in common with most socialists, from Saint-Simon downwards, they recognize three stages in the economic development of society,—slavery, serfdom, and wage-labour,—which last they believe will be displaced by an era of associated labour with a collective capital. But how, it is asked, does this theory of socialism as the next goal of society consist with the Darwinian doctrine of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest? Is not competition, this bête noire of the socialists, simply the social and economic form of the struggle for existence? Is not competition, therefore, the very condition of social progress? Is not socialism, therefore, inconsistent with progress? The question suggested is a large and complicated one, to which we cannot here pretend to give an exhaustive or determinate answer, but can only indicate some of the main lines of discussion. (1) In all periods of human development, and especially in its higher stages, progress consists most essentially in a growing social and ethical virtue and in the cultivation of the beautiful both in sentiment and art. With such an enlarging ideal of progress, how harmonize a system of competition like the present, by which millions in every great European country are effectively deprived of the means of development, and even of bare livelihood? The struggle for existence has always been modified by social and ethical conditions. If it is to continue, as it will in various forms, it should be carried on under higher conditions, suitable to a higher and less animal stage in the evolution of man. (2) Human progress has undoubtedly been attained through struggle, especially through the struggle for existence; but the struggle has essentially been one of men united in society, of tribe against tribe, of city against city, of nation against nation, and race against race. Thus it is easy to exaggerate unduly the importance of the struggle of the individual man. History has only too often seen the abnormal development of private selfishness, so overgrown as to weaken, and finally dissolve and overthrow, the society in which it acted, thereby accomplishing its own destruction. This is indeed the open secret of the ruin of most of the communities that have existed. In short, a happy and healthy individual development can be secured only through its due subordination to social virtue and the general welfare. Human progress has been by strong societies with a well-developed social and public virtue. The excessive development of "individualism" within a society has been its weakness and ruin. (3) While emphasizing the extreme importance of the hereditary principle, especially as connected with the fundamental institution of the family, we should also recognize its tendency to abuse in perpetuating the enormous inequalities of property and condition, many of which originated in a less perfect system of society. The hereditary principle has indeed greatly contributed to the solidity and continuity of the social order; but it also gives an exceptional advantage in the struggle for existence to the privileged few. In this point, therefore, the present system does not best fulfil the requirements of the evolution theory as applied to society. The struggle is not one of merit. It is frequently one of merit against hereditary privilege; not seldom it is one of privilege against privilege without regard to merit at all. (4) In considering the possibilities of human progress afforded by the present system of society in the light of the evolution theory, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the continuance of the race depends most on the less fit members of society, on the lower strata, which are thriftless, the worst fed, and worst educated. While the classes which are most intelligent and endowed with self-control abstain from marriage or defer it, those who have the lowest organization marry early and have large families. Even to perpetuate disease and deformity is not considered wrong. It may be that prohibitory and restrictive laws, even if passed, would prove inoperative and ineffectual in restraining so many hasty and ill-considered unions that only serve to multiply misery and disease; but it is surely excusable at least to inquire whether this abuse of freedom could not be curtailed by strengthening the social union and increasing the pressure of the enlightenment and moral sense of the community. (5) Above all, as the tendency of the present order is to give the victory to cheapness, it maybe asked whether competition,—the economic form of the struggle for existence—is really such a sure and potent element of progress, unless most powerfully counteracted by other principles? In short, history is the resultant of many complex forces, and it is easy to push too far the formulae of any system. It is out of the balance and harmony of many principles, of which the struggle for existence is but one, that human progress can proceed. (6) The main point is that in social evolution the widest phase of the struggle for existence is between forms of social organization. Hence the great question as regards socialism is whether it is the fittest form of social organization for the time coming? Is it best adapted to carry forward and develop in wider and more adequate form the progressive life of the future?
Marriage and family.
While many socialists have announced lax views regarding marriage and the family, it cannot in view of popular misunderstanding be sufficiently emphasized that the essence of socialism is an economic change. It enunciates no special doctrine on the relation of the sexes. In common with other social reformers, socialists generally advocate the equality of the sexes and the emancipation of women; they object to the mercenary element so common in marriage; and they abhor prostitution as one of the worst and vilest of existing evils, believing, moreover, that it is a necessary result of the present distinction of classes and of the unequal distribution of wealth. The views of the anarchists have already been noted. In the Marx school there is a tendency to denounce the legally binding contract in marriage. But such views all belong to the accidents of socialism.
So with regard to religion. Socialism has been and still is very frequently associated with irreligion and atheism. The same remark applies to Continental liberalism, and partly for a like reason: the absolute Governments of the Continent have taken the existing forms of religion into their service and have repressed religious freedom. On religion as on marriage socialism has no special teaching. While the anarchists of the school of Bakunin would overturn all forms of religion and reject the idea of God, the social democrats of Germany in their Gotha programme of 1875 declare religion to be a private concern. As we have seen, Christian socialism is a considerable force in many European countries; and in many of the other schools, especially that of Louis Blanc, the kinship and even identity of ethical spirit with that of Christianity are unmistakable.
In relation to politics.
In their revolutionary impatience the anarchists have avowed their hostility to all the existing political forms except the free commune, which alone will be left standing amid the general wreck they contemplate. The Marx school, as represented by its ablest living exponent, Friedrich Engels, also look forward to a period in the evolution of society when the state will become superfluous, and, having no longer any function to perform, will die away. The state they regard as an exploiting institution, an organization of the ruling classes for retaining the workers in economic subjection. The International was an attempt to supersede the exploiting states by a combination of the workers of all countries without distinction of creed, colour, or nationality. When the workers in the name of the whole society seize political power and take over the control of production, the rule of classes, their conflicts and the excesses of the struggle for existence among them, will cease. Instead of a government over persons we shall have an administration of things and the control of productive processes. Obviously the Marx school reserve the realization of this idea till the evolution of society has prepared the way for it. In the conduct of the International they insisted on a strongly centralized form of organization as against the free federalism and the rejection of all authority maintained by Bakunin and his followers. This opposition between centralization and federalism does not concern us here ; it is a question common to theoretical and practical politics. It is necessary, however, to say a word about the opposition between the national tendency of the Lassalle school and the international socialism of Marx. As we have seen, a compromise was effected in the Gotha programme of 1875, in which the importance of the nation as an existing form of human society is amply recognized. The question is still discussed in the organs of the social democrats; but the international tendency is decidedly the prevalent one. "Want of patriotism" is one of the current epithets of reproach cast at them. It is needless to point out that as most new movements of importance have been revolutionary, so also have they for good or evil been international. In becoming international the labour movement has only followed the example set by commerce, finance, diplomacy, religion, philosophy, art, music.
We have now reviewed the most important aspects of the socialist movement. As we have seen, socialism is a new form of social organization, based on a fundamental change in the economic order of society. Socialists believe that the present economic order, in which industry is carried on by private competitive capital, must and ought to pass away, and that the normal economic order of the future will be one with collective means of production and associated labour working for the general good. This principle of socialism is cardinal and fundamental. All the other theories so often connected with it and so important in relation to religion, philosophy, marriage, patriotism, &c., are with regard to socialism non-essential. Questions of method, though supremely important, must also be distinguished from the essential principle. At the same time it will be seen that an economic change, such as that contemplated in socialism, would most powerfully affect every other department of human life. Socialism, in short, means that in industry, in the economic arrangements of society, the collective or co-operative principle shall become normal or universal, that all who are able should contribute to the service of society, and that all should share in the fruits of the associated labour according to some good and equitable principle. In such a condition of things the noblest field for ambition will be in the service of society,— an ideal which is already partially realized in the democratic state. It is in this fundamental sense that J. S. Mill declared himself a socialist.1 It is in this sense also that Albert Schäffle, one of the first living authorities on economics and sociology, has, after long years of study of the subject, come to the conclusion that "the future belongs to the purified socialism." [220-2]
Scientific socialists strongly insist that this economic order of the future cannot be realized by utopian schemes or arbitrary legislation or mere revolutionary disturbance. If it come at all, it must come as the consummation of the dominant tendencies of modern social development; it must be realized under the conditions prescribed by our nature and environment. In discussing the doctrines of Marx we stated that the central point of the question was this—do the strongest forces of the social development of our time really tend towards the superseding of the present economic order and towards the establishment of a new and wider order based on collective capital and associated labour? Socialists maintain that they do, and that there is at present going forward a double process of dissolution and reconstruction,—the dissolution of individualism with a constructive tendency towards collectivism. From the socialist point of view the following may be signalized as indicative of such a process. (1) The tendency towards economic anarchy already explained in treating of Marx’s views. Over the whole industrial world we see great crises succeeding each other, resulting in stagnation and depression which now threaten to be chronic and permanent. While the productive forces of the world are enormously increasing, they only tend the more to intensify national and international competition, and to render labour superfluous, precarious, and dependent. Under this system the worker has neither freedom nor security. All this variety of symptoms are only a sign of the breakdown of the present economic order both in principle and method. They are the necessary results of the competitive system, which has thus finally revealed its real nature and tendency,—economic and social anarchy. (2) The constant and inevitable tendency towards concentration in industrial operations, which began with the introduction of steam and of the factory system, through which the small producer has been superseded by the capitalist, the smaller capitalist by the larger. And now the single capitalist is being absorbed in the company, a growing proportion of the world’s business being so large that only a great company can provide the requisite capital and organization; whilst in the large companies there is a tendency, in case they cannot drive each other out of the field, to bring about a fusion of interests. In all this we see a great constructive process inevitably going on as the result of the inherent tendencies of industrial development. Thus the control of industry will be concentrated in a few colossal companies and their chiefs. It is obvious how this process could simplify the transference of the whole to a collective management by society. (3) This leads us to a third important point, the growing tendency towards state control of industry, and the growing sense of the responsibility of society for all its members, observable in German politics, not less than under the more democratic conditions of France and England. It is apparent how under this influence the existing state might absorb one by one all the large social functions, as has already happened with regard to education, means of communication, &c. Naturally this could be accomplished only through a most comprehensive development of local and subordinate bodies of every kind. Socialism by no means implies that such an enormous burden of work should be thrown on the central government. Most socialist schools have contemplated a vast increase of communal or local autonomy,—a course which, on the other hand, does not carry with it the subversion of the central government. (4) In England during the last half century we have seen a long succession of efforts, partially successful, towards a new organization of society rendered necessary by the changes due to the industrial revolution. In economics as in other spheres the watchword of the new era has been freedom, the removal of restraint. But it has been found that positive measures of reconstruction were also necessary. Factory legislation carried in opposition to the prevailing economic theory, trades unions, employers’ combinations, industrial partnerships, boards of conciliation, the co-operative system,—all these are real, if partial, endeavours towards a new organization of society suited to the new conditions. Socialism claims to be the comprehensive scheme of organization which embraces in a complete and consistent unity all these partial efforts. (5) But the great social force which is destined to work out the vast transformation consists of the human beings most directly interested in the colossal struggle,—the modern democracy. This democracy is marked by a combination of characteristics which are new to history. It is being educated and enlightened in the school and by the cheap press; it is being drilled and organized in large factories, in the national armies, by vast popular demonstrations, in the gigantic electoral struggles of the time. Thus it is becoming conscious of its enormous power, and able to make use of it. It is becoming conscious also of its unsatisfactory social and economic position. The democracy which has become the master-force of the civilized world are economically a mass of proletarians dependent on precarious wage-labour. Having transformed the political condition of things, they are ready now for an economic transformation. But the inevitable process of concentration of industrial operations already referred to is entirely against the continuance or restoration of the small producer, whether workman or peasant proprietor. Such efforts of continuance or restoration are reactionary; they are economically unsound and must fail. Production and distribution ever tend to larger dimensions. The only issue out of the present economic condition is concentrated collective industry under the control of the new democracy and its chosen leaders. On the irresistible momentum of these two inevitable and ever-growing forces—the concentration of industry and the growth of the new democracy -socialism depends for the realization of its scheme of transformation.
Such are the tendencies to which philosophic socialists point as already working towards a transformation of society of the kind they expect. It is essentially a question of the future, with which we have no concern in this article. Our duty has simply been to point out the forces which socialists believe to be actually at work for the realization of their theory of social organization and here we must leave the subject.
The literature of socialism is enormous and rapidly growing ; besides those named under the special articles we now give a list of some of the leading works which are in whole or in art devoted to it:—Karl Marx, Das Kapital (1st vol., 3rd ed., Hamburg, 1883; 2nd vol., 1st ed., Hamburg, 1885); Friedrich Engels, Eugen Dühring’s Umwälzung der Wissenschaft, a controversial work, but containing a remarkably clear and able exposition of the Marx position by its best living exponent (2nd ed., Hottingen, Zurich, 1886) ; Albert Schäffle, Bau und Leben des socialen Körpers (Tübingen, 1878; the third vol. of this work supersedes his Kapitalismus und Socialismus, Tübingen, 1870), Quintessenz des Socialismus (7th ed., Gotha, 1879) ; Adolf Held, Sozialismus, Sozial-Demokratie, und Sozial-Politik (Leipsic, 1878) ; Von Sybel, Die Lehren des heutigen Socialismus und Communismus (Bonn, 1872); Lujo Brentano, Die christlich-soziale Bewegung in England (Leipsic, 1883) ; Von Scheel, Die Theorie der sozialen Frage (Jena, 1871); Alphons Thun, Geschichte der revolutionären Bewegungen in Russland (Leipsic, 1883); Rudolf Meyer, Der Emancipations-kampf des vierten Standes (2nd ed., Berlin, 1882); Franz Mehring, Die Deutsche Socialdemokratie, ihre Geschichte und ihre Lehre (Bremen, 1879); Laveleye, Le Socialisme Contemporain (2nd ed., Paris, 1883); Paul Janet, Les Origines du Socialisme Contemporain, (Paris, 1883) ; Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, Le Collectivisme (Paris, 1884); Le Procès des Anarchistes (Lyons, 1883) ; John Rae, Contemporary Socialism (London, 1884); Stepniak, Underground Russia (London, 1883); Hyndman, Historical Basis of Socialism in England (London, 1884). See also the relative chapters in Roscher’s Grundlagen der Nationalökonomie; Adolf Wagner’s Lehrbuch der politischen Oekonomie (vol. i., Grundlegung, 2nd ed., Leipsic, 1879) ; Mill’s Political Economy and Autobiography; and Sidgwick’s Principles of Political Economy. (T. K.)
205-1 The aim of the present article is essentially to give a history and exposition of socialism in its leading phases and principles. The point of view is objective,—to explain what socialism has been and is. A controversial or critical article on the many vexed questions suggested by the subject would have been inconsistent with the plan of this work.
207-1 As used in current speech, and also in economics, no very definite line of distinction between communism and socialism can be drawn. Generally speaking communism is a term for a system of common property, and this should be accepted as the reasonably correct usage of the word ; but even by socialists it is frequently used as practically synonymous with socialism. Collectivism is a word which has recently come into vogue to express the economic basis of socialism as above explained.
220-1 See his Autobiography; also his Pol. Economy, chapter on the probable future of the labouring classes.
220-2 Bau und Leben, vol. ii. 120.
The above article was written by: Thomas Kirkup. M.A.