EVOLUTION—REVOLUTION—REBELLION—INDIVIDUAL VIOLENCE—SOCIALISM AND ANARCHY.
The last and the gravest of the contradictions that it is attempted to set up between socialism and the scientific theory of evolution, relates to the question of how socialism, in practice, will be inaugurated and realized.
Some think that socialism ought, at the present time, to set forth, in all its details, the precise and symmetrical form of the future social organization.—“Show me a practical description of the new society, and I will then decide whether I ought to prefer it to the present society.”
Others—and this is a consequence of that first false conception—imagine that socialism wishes in a single day to change the face of the world, and that we will be able to go to sleep in a world completely bourgeois and to wake up next morning in a world completely socialist.
How is it possible not to see, some one then says, that all this is directly and thoroughly in conflict with the law of evolution, a law based on the two fundamental ideas—which are characteristic of the new tendencies of scientific thought and which are in conflict with the old metaphysics—of the naturalness and the gradualness of all phenomena in all domains of universal life, from astronomy to sociology.
It is indisputable that these two objections were, in great part, well founded when they were directed against what Engels has called “utopian socialism.”
When socialism, before the time of Karl Marx, was merely the sentimental expression of a humanitarianism as noble as it was neglectful of the most elementary principles of exact science, it was altogether natural for its partisans to give rein to the impetuosity of their generous natures both in their vehement protests against social injustices and in their reveries and day-dreams of a better world, to which the imagination strove to give precise contours, as witness all the utopias from the REPUBLIC of Plato to the LOOKING BACKWARD of Bellamy.
It is easy to understand what opportunities these constructions afforded to criticism. The latter was false in part, moreover, because it was the offspring of the habits of thought peculiar to the modern world, and which will change with the change in the environment, but it was well founded in part also because the enormous complexity of social phenomena makes it impossible to prophesy in regard to all the details of a social organization which will differ from ours more profoundly than the present society differs from that of the Middle Ages, because the bourgeois world has retained the same foundation, individualism, as the society which preceded it, while the socialist world will have a fundamentally different polarization.
These prophetic constructions of a new social order are, moreover, the natural product of that artificiality in politics and sociology, with which the most orthodox individualists are equally deeply imbued, individualists who imagine, as Spencer has remarked, that human society is like a piece of dough to which the law can give one form rather than another, without taking into account the organic and psychical, ethical and historical qualities, tendencies and aptitudes of the different peoples.