The ultimate aim of Socialism is the nationalization of all land, industry, transportation, distribution and finance and their collective administration for the common good as a governmental function and under a popular government. It involves the abolition of private profit, rent and interest and especially excludes the possibility of private profit by increase of values resulting from increase or concentration of population. The majority of Socialists would reach this end gradually, by successive steps, and with compensation to existing owners. A violent minority would reach it per saltum, by bloodshed if necessary, and by confiscation — “expropriation” they call it. All alike conduct their propaganda by endeavoring to create or accentuate the class consciousness of manual workers who constitute the majority of human beings and whose condition, it is insisted, would be improved under a Socialistic regime. The violent wing promotes not merely class consciousness but class hatred.
I have no time to split hairs in this discussion and it may be assumed that I understand that Socialists do not expect to absolutely control all personal activity but would leave all persons free to pursue any vocation which they might desire and to have and hold whatever they may acquire by personal activity and enterprise so only that they make no profit on the work of another or absorb for their own use any gift of Nature. No Socialist that I know of has attempted to draw the exact line between activities to be wholly absorbed by the State and those which would be left to private enterprise. No wise Socialist I think — if there are wise Socialists — would attempt to draw such a line at present. There is a certain vagueness in the Socialists’ presentation of their case.
And before we proceed further let us get rid of the intellectual fog which envelops and shelters the advocates of Socialism. It is the fog of humanitarianism. I see and hear no advocacy of Socialism whose burden is not the uplift of humanity. Now, humanitarianism is perhaps the most beautiful thing there is. There is no more ennobling and inspiring sentiment than desire for the uplift of our fellowmen; but it has no legitimate place in the discussion of Socialism. For an advocate of Socialism to even refer, in presenting his case, to humanitarian sentiment is to that extent to beg the question.
For if Socialism would improve the lot of mankind, or of the major portion of it, that settles the whole matter. The quicker we get to it the better. Opponents of Socialism insist that it would benefit nobody, and that as to the least efficient in whose behalf Socialistic doctrines are especially urged, it would be deadly. As to the strong or the fairly efficient we need not concern ourselves. They will get on anyhow. What it is important to consider is the probable condition of the less efficient, and especially the submerged class, under a Socialist regime.