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.
the problem would remain of how to discriminate those who would, as industrial directors, achieve the greatest successes, from those who would bring about nothing but relative or absolute failure.  This problem of how, under a regime of socialism, ability could be so tested that the practical means of direction could be granted to or withheld from it, according to its actual efficiency, is the problem which we will consider first; for though of secondary importance as compared with the problem of motive, it is in more immediate connection with the details of daily business.


[8] The economic condition of the great mass of the population, which this “up-to-date” socialist contemplates, is precisely analogous to that of the Helots in Sparta, whose subsistence was secured independently of their specific services, whilst their services to the directing class were wrung from them by a system of iron discipline.

[9] While these pages were in the hands of the printers, a work was published by an American socialist, in which it is asserted that the socialisation of America would consist at first of this precise process—­namely, the conversion of all the existing active employers and directors of labour into the salaried servants of some state department.



For the moment, then, we will waive the problem of motive altogether; we will assume that a society which denied to its able men any pecuniary reward proportionate to the magnitude of its products could provide them with a motive of some kind—­we need not inquire what—­which would prompt them still to exert themselves as eagerly as they do now; and we will merely consider how, a multitude of such men being given, the most efficient of them could be constantly selected as the official directors of labour, and the rest, in proportion to their inefficiency, be either dismissed or excluded.  In order to realise the difficulties which, in this respect, socialism would have to face, let us consider the manner in which the problem is solved now.

Under the system of private capitalism it solves itself by an automatic process.  In order that any man may direct the labour of other men, he must, under that system, be the possessor or controller of so much wage-capital.  Now this capital—­this implement of direction—­in proportion as it is employed, disappears, and is reproduced only by a subsequent sale of the products resulting from the labour in the direction of which it has been expended.  Thus a man, we will say, invents a new engine for motor-cars, and devotes to the production of twenty engines of the kind all the capital which he possesses—­namely, two thousand guineas.  Apart from the raw material out of which the engines are to be constructed, his

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A Critical Examination of Socialism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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