Thursday, 5 December 2013




"British Socialism" is the title of a book by J. Ellis Barker, the author. One great merit of the book is that it gives the doctrines of the Socialists in their own words, so that there can be no charge of misrepresenting them. It begins with the very natural and necessary question—What is Socialism? There are all sorts of hazy notions floating about as to the meaning of the word, and many even of those who profess to be Socialists differ among themselves as to its definition; but the true idea is manifestly that which is crystalised in the teaching and writings of the acknowledged leaders of the movement. If you want to know what are the distinctive principles of a Liberal, a Radical, or a Conservative, you will go to the speeches or writings of persons who occupy prominent positions in their respective ranks, and the doctrines of Socialism must be ascertained in a similar way. Socialism is not what A or B chooses to fancy it is, but what it can be proved to be in the minds of its chief propagandists, such as Carl Marx, Bax, Gronlund, Blatchford, Davidson, and many others quoted in this volume, and in the official programmes of the Socialist organisations.


"The basic doctrine (says the author) upon which the great edifice of Socialistic theory has been reared may be summed up in the phrase, 'Labour is the only source of wealth!' " The fallacy of this dictum is exposed by the author,who points out that, invention, organisation, management, and thrift are more important than manual labour, because they alone, working with modern machinery, enable manual labour to be highly productive. Passing over various other doctrines, which could not be stated in a few words, we arrive at the following, which are essential elements in the Socialistic creed:—Private property is robbery, private wealth is a crime; the private possession of property ought to be abolished ; competition ought to be replaced by co-operation ; or, as it is often expressed, individualism ought to be superseded by collectivism. However they may differ in other things, all Socialists agree in demanding the socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. All these are to be taken away from the private possessors, and thrown into a common stock. According to the "Clarion," the great organ of the party, "the Socialists demand that the people shall own everything. Not the 'State,' the 'people.' So great is the difference between the word 'State,' and the word 'people.'" Socialism wars not only against private profit, but equally against State management. What form of government they would put in its place they have not told us, and do not seem themselves to know, beyond this, that everyone is to be set to such work as the community dictates, and at such rates us it may appoint. The workers are not to be paid in money—which apparently would be abolished—but in orders on the general store. There is to be no rent or interest. The Socialist manifesto says: "The overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, by and in the interest of the whole community: That is Socialism." In the following words the aims of the party are explained in detail : —"Here, in plain words, is the principle, or root-idea, on which all Socialists agree — that the country, and everything in the country, shall belong to the whole people (the natives), and shall be used by the people, and for the people. That principle, the root idea of Socialism, means two things: (1) That the land, and all the machines, tools, and buildings used in making needful things, together with all the canals, rivers, roads, railways, ships, and trains used in moving, sharing (distributing) needful things, and all the shops, markets, scales, weights, and money used in selling or dividing needful things, shall be the property of (belong to) the whole people (the nation): (2) That the land, tools, machinery, trains, rivers, shops, scales, money, and all the other things belonging to the people, shall be worked, managed, divided, and used by the whole people in such way as the greater number of the whole people shall deem best." All the Socialistic organisations, we are told, "absolutely agree in their main purpose —spoliation. On that point there is absolute unanimity among all the British Socialists, and they condemn State Socialism because State Socialism would not mean confiscation and general division. Besides, it would not enable the Socialist leaders to overturn the State, and to seize the reins of Government." The opposition between individualism and Socialism is thus expressed by Bax : —"To the one, individual possession is right and justice, and social confiscation is wrong and injustice; to the other, individual possession is wrong and injustice, and confiscation is right and justice."


In regard to the two very important points—1. How the transfer from the individual possessor to the community is to be effected—whether by confiscation or compulsory purchase; and (2) how the affairs of the community are to be managed or administered, the Socialists give no certain information. They either shelter themselves under disingenuous juggling with words, or they put off the inquirer by saying that all those things will arrange themselves. They have evidently never worked out the details. They have the most child-like faith in the perfectibility of human nature under the Socialist regime. Socialism is to bring about a golden age —a millennium—which has never yet been seen upon earth. The highly imaginative descriptions of the state of things under Socialism which we find in the rhapsodies of some of the Socialists show them to be mere dreamers, with a perfectly astounding want of knowledge of human nature, and a boundless measure of credulity. Bax declares that the great act of confiscation will be the seal of the new era : then, and not till then, will the knell of civilisation, with its rights of property and its class society, be sounded.    The only substantial difference between Socialists as to the expropriation of private property seems to be in the manner of doing it, some admitting that it might be done gradually, others that it may be done at a stroke. Some admit the principle of compensation ; others not.


Among other things which the English Socialists propose to abolish are the monarchy and the House of Lords. They also propose repudiation of the national debt. They wage war against every existing institution unless it agrees with their own scheme. As Marx says:—"The Communists every where support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things." Loyalty is to be abolished. "Let us have no humbug," says Bax. "The man who cannot on occasion be (if needs be) the declared and certain enemy of that doubtful entity, 'his country,' is no Social Democrat." He also says: — 'The foreign policy of the great inter- national Socialist party must be to break up these hideous race monopolies called Empires, beginning in each case at home. Hence everything which makes for the disruption and disintegration of the Empire to which he belongs must be welcomed by the Socialist as an ally. It is his duty to urge on any movement tending in any way to dislocate the commercial relations of the world, knowing that every shock the modern complex commercial system suffers weakens it, and brings destruction nearer." "These" (comments our author) "being the doctrines of revolutionary Socialists, it is only natural that many British Socialists take the enemy's part in case of war;" and in a note he adds—"See, for instance, Hyndman in the 'Transvaal war,' and the 'Degradation of England.' "


Many Socialists, we are told, have become anarchists, that is, people who are opposed to all government of whatever kind. ''Socialists may be divided into two classes— communists and anarchists." "The philosopher of British Socialism (Bax) frankly confesses himself a revolutionary anarchist." Another prominent Socialist (Blatchford) declares:-"I am opposed to godship, kingship, lordship, priestship. . . . I am opposed to imperialism, militarism, and conquest;" and still another (Davidson) says:-"The State is the evil, the inveterate foe of labour, be the Government autocratic, bureaucratic, or social democratic ; " in fact, these Socialist anarchists set themselves against all rule or government, whether human or divine, except, of course, their own. "Many British Socialists defend not only philosophic anarchism, but also that form of anarchism which finds its expression in murder."
The Socialist catechism teaches that the changes aimed at by Socialists are to be brought about by revolution, and instances the French revolution of 1789. Some of the British Socialists would go further than the French revolutionists, who, they say, were soft-hearted men. "Even the murderous Paris Commune was too moderate for the taste of many British Socialists, who favour sterner measures." As Bax says : —"The Commune had one special fault, that of a fatuous moderation in all its doings." The Socialist way of viewing things is certainly peculiar. An example of this is seen in the statement of Davidson that "the vulgar notion that anarchy is a synonym for disorder is as nearly as possible the reverse of the truth. It is governments and laws that do all the mischief." This is either a deliberate attempt to mislead or the result of crass ignorance, for anarchy (anarchia) means abolition of or revolt from all power and authority, and where there is no restraint or government but every one is free to do just what it pleases, there must be disorder. It is as if you attached a number of horses to a vehicle with no reins, and no driver. There would certainly be disorder there. 


The following declarations of Socialists will show their attitude towards the possessors of wealth and property. "The rich have no right to any of their possessions." "The poor owe no duty to the rich, unless it be the duty which an honest man owes to the thief who has robbed him. The rich have no right to any of their possessions, for there is but one right, and that is the right of the labourer to the fruit of his labour, and the rich do not labour. No man has any right to be rich." Bax is quoted as saying:—"The cheapest way of obtaining goods is not to pay for them, and if a buyer can avoid payment for the goods he obtains, he has quite as much right to do so as the seller has to receive for them double or treble their cost price, and call it profit."
To all healthy, right-minded people work is a blessing, and the founder of Christianity declared—"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work," but the Socialists ''declare it to be a curse and a vice." As Bax says:—"The man who works at his trade or avocation more than necessity compels him, or who accumulates more than he can enjoy, is not a hero, but a fool from the Socialist's standpoint." It follows, therefore, that "it is the interest of the workers to get as high a wage as possible for as little labour as possible." The one idea of Socialism seems to be selfish enjoyment; duty is not to be found in their scheme. "British Socialists do their utmost to convert the workers into shirkers by teaching them not only that work is on evil in itself, but by constantly admonishing them on scientific grounds to work as little as possible during the time they are employed." We, with our darkened perception, call this dishonesty.


Socialism is said to be spreading rapidly among the trade unions of Great Britain. Lord Balfour of Burleigh is quoted as saying that "year by year more legislation is proposed of which the effect is to draw upon the earnings of the efficient for the benefit of the inefficient. Year by year Parliament makes life harder for those whoso labour benefits the State, and easier for those who are a drag upon it."   
Socialists are enemies to thrift and temperance. "The so-called thrift and temperance movements are essentially antagonistic to Socialism" in the opinion of Bax and Quelch. "The trade co-operation canonises the bourgeois virtues, but Socialist vices of 'overwork' and 'thrift' " "Co-operation, as carried on in England, is an obstacle and a danger to the Socialist cause." "Among the many quack remedies for poverty," says Davidson, "the most venerable and the most illusive is thrift or saving." The temperance people also come in for their share of castigation. "Total abstainers are capable of viler actions, than those of certain drunkards, while the profoundest depth of ignorance and incapacity to think are attributes of millions of total abstainers." German Socialists, to their credit, take a widely different view of the matter. The fact is that many of the prominent Socialists spit out their venom upon everything which most people regard as sacred and laudable. Everything is condemned except their pet Socialism.
The British Socialists are also opposed to friendly societies, which, according to them, "are the least promising of any of the democratic movements from the political point of view." Their fallacious argument is, that thrift, temperance, self-denial, by lessening the workers' expenses, bring down the rate of wages. If that were really the case, then the more wasteful, self-indulgent, and improvident a man was the better off he would be. But if his expenses rise pari passu with his wages, how could he be benefited by an increase in them?     

The Socialists are said to be very hostile to the colonial policy of the Empire. "Nearly all the British Socialists passionately oppose the retention of India. They never tire of condemning British rule in India, and of endeavouring to incite the native races to rebellion." The following words of Mr. Hyndman will show the vitriolic spirit of the Socialist propagandists:—"India is the greatest and most awful instance of the cruelty, greed, and short-sightedness of the capitalist class of which history gives any record. Even the horrors of Spanish rule in South America are dwarfed into insignificance in comparison with the cold, calculating, economic infamy which has starved, and is still deliberately starving, millions of people to death in British India." The leading Socialist monthly declares:—"We assert the right of the Indian people to manage their own affairs, and ardently desire the destruction of British rule there." The disloyal, rancorous attitude of the British Socialists is contrasted with the loyalism of the German Socialists, who profess themselves willing to give their lives for their Fatherland.
Not only are our Socialists striving to excite disaffection among the native races, and to stir up rebellion among them, but, it is said, they are also trying to undermine the loyalty of the Army and Navy.
The author, after giving a number of extracts from Socialist writings on "Socialism and the Monarchy," concludes the chapter thus:—"Many further extracts regarding English and foreign monarchs might be given, but they are so indescribably coarse, and so offensive—even the late Queen is most shamelessly slandered, abused, and calumniated—that they are hardly fit for publication, and their authors shall be nameless."


As to the family relation, it is difficult to formulate the opinions of English Socialists, as they do not appear to have made any definite declaration on the subject, but the statements of individual Socialists lead to the belief that, in their view, private possession of a wife must follow the law of private possession of other things; that is, that it must be communised. "Marriage as we know it, is merely one of the many unwholesome fungi that grow out of the reeking, rotting corpses of private property, and it would not be difficult to conceive of a sexual order infinitely more angelic." According to Morris and Bax, the union of man and woman would be dependent on "mutual inclination and affection, an association terminable at the will of either party. There would be no vestige of reprobation weighing on the dissolution of one tie and the forming of another." This is simply the doctrine of free love. The German Socialist Babel goes so far as to make the indulgence of the sexual passion a positive duty.     


What is the attitude of Socialism to religion generally, and Christianity in particular? "Some Socialists proclaim that Socialism will carry out the will of Christ upon earth ;" others "frankly confess that Socialism is absolutely incompatible with Christianity and all other religions; that Socialism can succeed only if religion be abolished, and that, therefore, religion must be abolished." Bax says: "Socialism has no sympathy with the morbid eternally revolving-in-upon-itself transcendent morality of the gospel discoveries ; "   and Mr. Blatchford, in reply to the "question why he has gone out of his way to attack religion, states: "I am working for Socialism when I attack a religion which is hindering Socialism. . . . I oppose the Christian religion, because I do not think the Christian religion is beneficial to mankind, and because I think it an obstacle in the way of humanism." Another Socialist writes: "Personally, I feel called upon to attack Christianity, as I would any other harmful delusion. I do not believe in the theology of Jesus, any more than I do in his sociology. . . . If the triumph of the Socialist ideal does not crush supernatural religion, then we shall still have a gigantic fabric of falsity and conviction upon which to wage war. Happily Christianity becomes less and less of a power every day." (Leatham.) Some Socialist verses quoted by our author contain such shocking language as applied to Christ that we should not venture to reproduce them even if space permitted. But Socialism wars not only with religion. "We are compelled," says Mr. Bax, "to abandon the belief in immortality." In fact Socialism is pure materialism. Leatham says:—"We get no assistance from Him (Jesus). His followers are our enemies in every country which owns His influence, and the worst enemies of all, because ever professing friendship." Bax asserts that Socialists "see higher types (than Christ) even in some now walking this upper earth." He says he knows not whether there is a God or not, but he denies "that there is a loving Heavenly Father who answers prayer." Professor Schuffle states that "Socialism of the present day is out-and-out irreligious, and hostile to the church :" and British Socialism is said to he far more irreligious, violent, and revolutionary than the German variety. There are people who profess themselves to be "Christian Socialists," but "by far the largest number of Socialists regard the Christian Socialists movement with suspicion and dislike." Professor Flint's opinion of Christian Socialism is that what is called so "will always be found to be unchristian in so far as it is socialistic, or unsocialistic in so far as it is truly and fully Christian."
Englishmen, are proud of their judges for their impartiality, and incorruptibility. But even they cannot escape the virulence of the Socialists.   "It is an undoubted truth that no judge can be strictly an honest man. The judge must necessarily be a man of inferior moral calibre. A judge, by the mere fact of his being a judge, proclaims himself a creature on a lower moral level than us ordinary mortals." because his duty compels him to do certain things, and it is assumed that he does this "for filthy lucre and tawdry notoriety." So says Bax.


Reverting to so-called "Christian Socialism," the following words from an article by the Rev. S. Skelhorn in the "National Review" for July last give a warning which is greatly needed at the present time:—"Just now the most popular and successful phase of social endeavour is Socialism, consequently the nonconformist pulpit is espousing the new evangel with marked enthusiasm. From the City Temple to the humblest tabernacle, dissent rings with the battle-cries of Social Democracy. It is true that these Socialist preachers are, for the most part, utterly ignorant of, what Socialism is or involves. The Christian Socialist who really understands Socialism is a rara avis. He is absolutely without knowledge of its economic basis. He confuses socialism with social reform, philanthropic feeling with scientific method, and empty declamation with weighty and well-ordered argument. But no matter, he can join in the chorus even if he cannot keep in tune, and shout if he cannot sing, and agitate if he cannot formulate. Hence the churches are beginning to acclaim socialism with vociferous voices . . . as proclaimed by the churches, it (Christian Socialism, is neither Socialism nor Christianity. However hard they may try to bind them together into a kind of Siamese twins, both repudiate the relationship. The association is a mongrel mixture."


The Socialistic system, to be worked successfully, demands a perfection of humanity which has never yet been seen in this world, and nothing less than the absolute fulfilment of the prophecies relating to the establishment of the Messianic kingdom on earth can effect. If this is ever to take place, it will be by the agency of Christianity, not of Socialism; for, as our author says, "unfortunately, there is nothing ideal and elevating in the Socialist teachings. . . . Socialism appeals to all the passions, and to all the vices, such as hatred, jealousy, envy, cupidity. It encourages, or, at least, excuses, wastefulness, improvidence, profligacy, and drunkenness. Its aim is, plunder." Can figs grow from thistles? The following from Kautsky, is a fair specimen of the utter absence of knowledge of human nature, of common sense, and reasoning power, on which Socialists base their system : —"May we not assume that under these conditions a new type of mankind will evolve which will surpass the highest type which culture has produced up till now? An over man, if you please, not as an exception, but as the rule." Socialists are cock-sure that they can do what has never been done yet—transform human nature, so that it may become angelic, and that all the evil in the world may disappear, and that man in the unfettered indulgence of all his desires may lead a life of animal enjoyment, according to some of their leading men, without any belief in a Supreme Being, and without any hope of a better life after this, where all that is wrong here shall be put right, and all that is awry shall be made straight. Truly this is to offer us a stone instead of bread. 
We put it to all cool-headed people capable of reasoning: Can a system which permits and encourages its advocates to preach Atheism, unbridled sensuality, anarchy, spoliation, which sets class against class, which proclaims that the only fault of the French Commune was that it was not bloody enough, and seeks to destroy every vestige of patriotism and loyalty in the British people be one that ought to be countenanced by those who believe that the world, however it may be marred by the vices and follies of men, is yet under the guidance of a Divine Power, Who desires the happiness of His creatures, and will help them if they will accept His help, to work out their own salvation ? 

 The Mercury 26 October 1908,

No comments: