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.

We thus see that, according to these theorists, the kind of moral conversion which is to make socialism practicable is to be rigidly confined to one particular class; for, on the part of the majority, no change at all is required in order to make the socialistic evangel welcome.  So far as they are concerned, the Old Adam is quite sufficient.  None of us need much converting in order to welcome the prospect of an indefinite addition to our incomes, which will cost us nothing but the trouble of stretching out our hands to take it.  Socialists often complain that, under the existing dispensation, there is one law for the rich and another law for the poor.  They propose themselves to introduce a difference which goes still deeper, and to provide the few and the many, not only with two laws, but with two different natures, and two antithetic moralities.  The morality of the many is to remain, as it always has been, comfortably based on the familiar desire for dollars.  The morality of the few is to be based on some hitherto unknown contempt for them; and the class which the socialists fix upon as the subjects of this moral transformation, is precisely the class which they denounce as being, and as always having been, in respect of its devotion to dollars, the most notorious, and the most notoriously incorrigible.

That arguments such as these, culminating in an absurdity like this, and starting with the assumption that it is possible to animate a manufacturer’s office with the spirit of soldiers facing an enemy’s guns, should actually emanate from sane men would be unbelievable, if the arguments were not being repeated from day to day by men who, in some respects, are far from being incompetent reasoners.  Indeed, many of them themselves would, it seems, be extremely doubtful with regard to the plasticity imputed by them to human nature, if it were not for a theory of society which is not peculiar to socialism.  This is the theory that, in any community or nation in which each citizen is completely free to express his will by his vote, and realises the extent of the power which thus resides in him, the will of the majority has practically no limits to its efficiency, and will be able in the future to bring about moral changes, which are at present, perhaps, beyond the limits of possibility, but are only so because the means of effecting them have never yet been fully utilised.  This theory of democracy we will consider in the following chapter.


[13] Mr. G. Wilshire, in criticising this argument as stated in one of my American addresses, declares that there would be nothing in socialism to prevent any great artist (such as a singer) from making an even larger fortune than he or she does now.  But though a Melba, under the existing system, demands a large price for her services, under socialism all would be changed.  Though she could get it, she would no longer want it.  She would then want no reward but the mere joy of using her voice.  And he infers that this change which would take place in the bosoms of great singers would repeat itself under the breast-pocket of every leader and organiser of commercial enterprise.  It would be hard to find a better illustration of the purely fanciful reasoning commented on in the text.

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