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.
and vulgarer moral plane of her remoter ancestry.  There is,” he proceeds, “no more silly and persistent error than the belief of parents that they can influence to any appreciable degree the moral ideas and impulses of their children.  These things have their springs in the bases of character; they are the flower of individuality; and they cannot be altered after birth by the foolishness of preaching.”  Let us read this passage, with the alteration of only a word or two, and it forms an admirable criticism of the more recent speculations of the party to which Mr. Allen belonged.  There is no more silly and persistent error on the part of socialists than the belief that they can influence to any appreciable degree the moral ideas and impulses of the citizens of any community, or that these things, which are the flower of congenital individuality, can be altered after birth by the foolishness of socialism.

But the arguments at the service of socialism are not exhausted yet.  Even if voting majorities should be unable to transform human nature, that men of power shall become willing to exert their power only in order that they may be deprived of it, there is a class of socialists who declare that what is impossible with mere human democracy, will be rendered possible by the divine influence of a rightly preached Christianity.  To Christian socialists, as such, I have as yet made no special reference; nor will it be necessary now to be very prolix in our dealings with them; but in their attitude and their equipment for the task of effecting an economic revolution, they throw so strong a light on the character of contemporary socialism generally that a brief consideration of their gospel will be interesting and highly instructive, and will fitly lead us to the conclusion of this part of our argument.


[15] Mr. G. Wilshire, in his criticism of the argument, as stated by me in America, says that, under the existing system, the consumer is not free to choose what goods he will buy, but has them thrust on him by the capitalist producer.  Yet he, and socialists in general, complain at the same time of the competition between capitalists, which is simply a competition to supply what consumers most desire.  Here and there, when no competition exists, one firm can force its goods, if they are of the nature of necessaries, on the local public.  But under the existing system this is only an occasional incident.  Under socialism it would be universal.  When tobacco is a state monopoly, state tobacco is forced on the great mass of the people.

[16] Mr. G. Wilshire admits, on behalf of socialists, that the argument of this chapter is so far correct that no democracy can make men of ability exercise their ability if they do not wish to do so; and that if they wish for exceptional rewards they will be able to demand them.  A Melba, he says, under socialism, would be able, if she wished for it, to get probably even higher remuneration than she does to-day.  But, he continues, under socialism, such men and women, though they could get such rewards, will be so changed that they will not wish for them.  A Melba will then sing for the mere pleasure of singing.

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