CHRISTIAN SOCIALISM AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR SECULAR DEMOCRACY.
Christian socialism, as a doctrine which is preached to-day, might, for anything that its name can tell us to the contrary, be as different from ordinary socialism as is Christian Science from secular—as the science of Mrs. Eddy is from the science of Mr. Edison. We can judge of it only by examining the utterances of its leading exponents. For this reason, although I had long been familiar with the utterances of persons who call themselves Christian socialists in England, I felt bound to decline an invitation to discuss the subject in America, unless I could be furnished with some recent and formal version of the gospel as it is preached there. Accordingly there was sent to me the precise kind of document I desired. It formed the principal article in a journal called The Christian Socialist. Its author was a clergyman, and it was entitled “The Gospel for To-day.” It was what I expected that it would be. It reproduced in almost every particular the thoughts and moods distinctive of Christian socialists in England; and this article I will here take as a text.
The writer, exhibiting a candour which many of his secular brethren would do well to imitate, starts with an attack on all existing forms of democracy, which are all, he says, based on a profound and fatal fallacy. This is the assumption that all men are born equal, from which assumption the practical conclusion is deduced that the best state of society is one which will allow each of these so-called equal beings to work out his own happiness as best he can for himself, with the minimum of interference from his fellow-citizens or from the law. Now if, says our author, men were born equal in reality, such an individualistic democracy might perhaps work well enough. But men are not born equal. The root of the difficulty lies here. In the economic sense, as in all others, some men are incomparably more able than the great majority of their fellows, and even among the exceptionally able some are much abler than the others. Consequently, if the principles of modern individualistic democracy and modern individualistic economics are right, according to which the main motive of each should be to do the best for himself with his own powers that he can—“if it is duty to compete if competition is the life of trade, then the battle for self must ever go grimly on. The strong must subdue the weak, the rich the poor, the able the unable. Upon this basis the millionaire and the multi-millionaire have a perfect right to roll up their untold millions, even as the working-man has a right to seek the highest wages that he can get. All in different ways are seeking their own; and the keenest competitors are the best men. The prizes must go to the strongest and the shrewdest. It is the survival of the fittest.”