A Critical Examination of Socialism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about A Critical Examination of Socialism.

Indeed, it may be observed further that, though the idea of equality of opportunity in general is not inconsistent with a socialistic scheme of society, as socialists of the more thoughtful kind have now come to conceive of it, it belongs distinctively to the domain of the fiercest individual competition.  For in so far as socialism differs from ordinary individualism, it differs from it in this—­that, instead of encouraging each man to do his utmost because what he gets will be proportionate to what he does, it aims at establishing a greater equality in what men get by making this independent of whether they do much or little; in which case the main concern of the individual would be the certainty of getting what he wanted, not the opportunity of producing it.

The three ideas or conceptions, then, which have engaged our attention in this and the three preceding chapters—­namely, the idea that labour does, as a statistical fact, produce far more in values than it at present gets back in wages; the idea that the mass of the population could permanently augment its resources by confiscating all dividends as fast as they became due, and the idea that it is possible to provide for unequal men, for more than a moment of their lives, equal opportunities of experimenting with their real or imaginary powers, are ideas, indeed, which have all the vices characteristic of socialistic thought; but the first and the third have no necessary connection with socialism, and the second is not peculiar to it.  We will now return to it as a system of exclusive and distinctive doctrines, and sum up, in general terms, the conclusions to which our examination of it is calculated to lead far-seeing and practical men, and more especially active politicians.


[25] The Christian Socialist author of The Gospel for To-day.  See chapter on Christian Socialism.

[26] Mr. Wilshire, in his volume of criticism on my American speeches.

[27] Socialism:  the Mallock-Wilshire Argument. By Gaylord Wilshire.  New York, 1907.

[28] While this work was in the press, one of the English Labour members, Mr. Curran, at a public meeting, gave his views, as a socialist, about this very question—­equality of industrial opportunity—­and as an example of such opportunity already in existence, he mentioned the cash-credit system, which prevails in banks in Scotland.  He seemed unaware that such advances of capital made in this system are made to picked men only.  These men, moreover, have the strongest stimulus to effect in the face that they will keep all their profits.  If a socialistic state gave cash-credits to everybody, it would confiscate all the profits if the workers were successful, and have no remedy against them if they failed.

[29] Unto This Last.

[30] See note to previous chapter, referring to the recent Red Catechism for socialist Sunday schools, in which children are taught, as the primary article of faith, that the wage-earners produce everything, that the productivity of all is practically equal, and that all are entitled to expect precisely the same kind of life.

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