The Following is in Public Domain, and was Scanned from ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA XXII which was Printed in 1884 It should be noted, there are Organized Groups, who do not want this Information to be known by the General Public. It is to be noted; in Comments made by the Modern Readers, this Dialogue is Consider to be Difficult Reading. Knowledge is Power...SHARE IT!
The word "socialism" is of comparatively recent origin, It having been coined in England in 1835. In that year a society which received the grandiloquent name of the "Association of all Classes of all Nations" was founded under the auspices of Robert Owen; and the words "socialist " and "socialism" Were first used during the discussions which arose in connexion with it. As Owen and his school had no esteem for the political reform of the time, and laid all emphasis on the necessity of social improvement and reconstruction, it is obvious how the name came to be recognized as suitable and distinctive. The term was borrowed from England by a distinguished French writer, Reybaud, in his well-known work the .Reformateurs modernes (1839), in which he discussed the theories of Saint- Simon, Fourier, and Owen. Through Reybaud it soon gained wide currency on the Continent, and is now the accepted world-historic name for one of the most remarkable movements of the 19th century.
The name was thus first applied in England to Owen's theory of social reconstruction, and in France to those also of Saint-Simon and Fourier. The best usage has always connected it with the views of these men and the cognate opinions which have since appeared. The word, however, is used with a great variety of meaning not only in popular speech and by politicians but even by economists and learned critics of socialism. The general tendency is to regard as socialistic any interference with property undertaken by society on behalf of the poor, the limitation of the principle of 1aissez-faire in favour of the suffering classes, radical social reform which disturbs the present system of private property as regulated by free competition. It is probable enough that the word will be permanently Used to express the tendency indicated in these phrases, as a general name for the strong reaction that has now set in against the over strained individualism and one-sided freedom which date from the latter half of the 18th century. The application is neither precise nor accurate; but it is use and wont that determine the meaning of words, and this seems to be the tendency of use and wont. Even economic writers differ greatly in the meaning they attach to the word.
The great German economist Roscher defines it as including " those tendencies which demand a greater regard for the common weal than consists with human nature." Adolf Held says that "we may define as socialistic every tendency which demands the subordination of the individual will to the community." Janet more precisely defines it as follows :-" We call socialism every doctrine which teaches that the state has a right to correct the inequality of wealth which exists among men and to legally establish the balance by taking from those who have too much in order to give to those who have not enough, and that in a permanent manner, and not in such and such a particular case,-a famine, for instance, a public calamity, &c;." Laveleye explains it thus: "In the first place every socialistic doctrine aims at introducing greater equality in social conditions, and in the second place at realizing those reforms by the law or the state." Von Scheel simply defines it as the "economic philosophy of the suffering classes." Of all these definitions it can only be said that they more or less faithfully reflect current opinion as to the nature of socialism. They are either too vague.
The aim of the present article is essentially to give a history and exposition of socialism in its leading phases and principle. The point of view is objective,-to explain what socialism has been and is. A controversial or critical article on the many vexed questions suggested by the subject would have been inconsistent with the plan of this work.] or they are misleading, and they quite fail to bring out the clear and strongly marked characteristics that distinguish the phenomena to which the name of socialism is properly applied. To say that socialism exacts a greater regard for the common weal than is compatible with human nature is to pass sentence on the movement, not to define it. In all ages of the world, and under all forms and tendencies of government and of social evolution, the will of the individual has been subordinated to the will of society, often unduly so. It is also -most mis-leading to speak as if socialism must proceed from the state as we know it. The early socialism proceeded from private effort and experiment.
A great deal of the most notorious socialism of the present day aims not only at subverting the existing state in every form but all the existing political and social institutions. The most powerful and most philosophic, that of Karl Marx, aimed at superseding the existing governments by a vast international combination of the workers of all nations, withoutdistinction of creed, colour, or nationality. Still more objectionable, however, is the tendency not: unfrequently shown to identify socialism with a violent and lawless revolutionary spirit. As sometimes used "socialism" means nothing more nor less than the most: modern form of the revolutionary spirit with a suggestion of anarchy and dynamite.
This is to confound the essence of the movement with an accidental feature more or less common to all great innovations. Every new thing of any moment, whether good or evil, has its revolutionary stage in which it disturbs and upsets the accepted beliefs and institutions. The Protestant Reformation was for more than a century and a half the occasion of national and international trouble and bloodshed. The suppression of American slavery could not be effected without a tremendous civil war. There was a time when the opinions comprehended under the name of "liberalism" had to fight to the death for toleration; and representative government was at one time a revolutionary innovation. The fact that a movement is revolutionary generally implies only that it is new, that it is disposed to exert itself by strong methods, and is calculated to make great changes. It is an unhappy feature of most great changes that they have been attended with the exercise of force, but that is be-cause the powers in possession have generally attempted to suppress them by the exercise of force.
In a point of fact socialism is one of the most elastic and protean phenomena of history, varying
according to the time and circumstances in which it appears and with the character and opinions
and institutions of the people who adopt it. Such a movement cannot be condemned or approved
en b1oc. Most of the current formulæ to which it has been referred for praise or censure are
totally erroneous and misleading. Yet in the midst of thee theories that go by the name of
"socialism" there is a of principle that is common to them all. That principle? is of an economic
nature, and is most clear and precise; The central aim of socialism is to terminate the divorce of
the workers from the natural sources of subsistence and of culture. The socialist theory is based
on the historical assertion that the course of social evolution for centuries has gradually been to
exclude the producing classes from the possession of land and capital and to establish a new
subjection, the subjection of workers, who have nothing to depend on but precarious
wage-labour. The socialists maintain that the present system (in which land and capital are the
property of private individuals freely struggling for increase of wealth) leads inevitably to social
economic anarchy, to the degradation of the working man and his family, to the growth of vice and idleness among the wealthy classes and their dependants, to bad and inartistic workmanship, and to adulteration in all its forms; and that it is tending more and more to separate society into two classes, -wealthy millionaires confronted with an enormous mass of proletarians,-the issue out of which must either be socialism or social ruin. To avoid all these evils and to secure a more equitable distribution of the means and appliances of happiness, the socialists propose, that land and capital, which are the requisites of labour and the sources of all wealth and culture, should become the property of society, and be managed by it for the general good. In thus maintaining that society should assume the management of industry and secure an equitable distribution of its fruits socialists are agreed, but in the most important points of detail they differ very greatly.
They differ as to the form society will take in carrying out the socialist programme, as to the relation of local bodies to the central government, and, whether there is to .be any central government, or any government at all in the ordinary sense of the word, as to the influence of the national idea in the society of the future, &c;. They differ also as to what should be regarded as an "equitable" system of distribution. The school of Saint-Simon advocated a social hierarchy in which every man should be placed according to his capacity and rewarded according to his works. In the communities of Fourier the minimum of subsistence was to be guaranteed to each out of the common gain, the remainder to be divided between labour, capital, and talent,- five-twelfths going to the first, four-twelfths to the second, and three-twelfths to the third. At the revolution of 1848 Louis Blanc proposed that remuneration should be equal for all members of his social work-shops. In the programme drawn up by the united social democrats of Germany (Gotha, 1875) it is provided that all shall enjoy the results of labour "according to their reasonable wants," all of course being bound to work. It is needless to say also that the theories of socialism have been held in connexion with the most varying opinions in philosophy and religion. A great deal of the historic socialism has been regarded as a necessary implicate of idealism. Most of the prevailing socialism of the day is based on the frankest and moat outspoken revolutionary materialism. On the other hand, many socialists hold that their system is a necessary outcome of Christianity, that socialism and Christianity are essential the one to the other; and it should be said that the ethics of socialism are closely akin to the ethics of Christianity, if not identical with them. Still it should be insisted that the basis of socialism is economic, involving a fundamental change in the relation of labour to land and capital,-a change which will largely affect production, but will entirely revolutionize the existing system of distribution. But, while its basis is economic, socialism implies and carries with it a change in the political, ethical, technical, and artistic arrangements and institutions of society which would constitute a revolution greater probably than has ever taken place in human history, greater than the transition from the ancient to the mediæval world, or from the latter to the existing order of society. In the first place, such a change generally assumes as its political complement the most thoroughly democratic organization of society. The early socialism of Owen and Saint- Simon was marked by not a little of the autocratic spirit; but the tendency of the present socialism is more and more to ally itself with the most advanced democracy. Socialism, in fact, claims to be the economic complement of democracy, maintaining that without a fundamental economic change political privilege has neither meaning nor value. In the second place, socialism naturally goes with an unselfish or altruistic system of ethics. The most characteristic feature of the old societies was the exploitation of the weak by the strong under the systems' of slavery, serfdom, and wage-labour.
Under the socialistic régime it is the privilege and duty of the strong and talented to use their superior force and richer endowments in the service of their fellow-men without distinction of class or nation or creed. In the third place, socialists maintain that under their system and no other can the highest excellence and beauty be realized in industrial production and in art, whereas under the present system beauty and thoroughness are alike sacrificed to cheapness, which is a necessity of successful competition. Lastly, the socialists refuse to admit that individual happiness or freedom or character would be sacrificed under the social arrangements they propose. They believe that under the present system a free and harmonious development of individual capacity and happiness is possible only for the privileged minority, and that socialism alone can, open up a fair opportunity for all. They believe, in short, that there is no opposition whatever between socialism and individuality rightly understood, that these two are complements the one of the other, that in socialism alone may every individual have hope of free development and a full realization of himself. Having seen, then, how wide a social revolution implied in the socialistic scheme of reconstruction, let us repeat (1) that the essence of the theory consists in the associated production with a collective capital with the view to an equitable distribution. In the words of Schäffle, "the Alpha and Omega of socialism is the transformation of private competing capitals into a united collective capital"(Quintessenz des Socialismus). A. Wagner's more elaborate definition of it (in his Grundlegung) is entirely in agreement with that of Schäffle.
This is the principle on which all the schools of socialism, how-ever opposed otherwise, are at one. Such a system, while insisting on collective capital (including land), is quite consistent with private property in other form; and with perfect freedom in the use of one's own share in the equitable distribution of the produce of the associated labour. A thoroughgoing socialism demands that this principle should be applied to the capital and production of the whole world; only then can it attain to supreme and perfect realization. But a sober. minded socialism will admit that the various intermediate stages in which the principle finds a partial application are so far a true and real development of the socialistic idea, (2) Socialism is both a theory of social evolution and a working force in the history of the 19th century. Some of the most eminent socialists, such as Rodbertus, regard their theory as a prophecy concerning the social development of the future rather than as a subject of agitation. In their view socialism is the next stage in the evolution of society, destined after many generations to supersede capitalism, as capitalism displaced feudalism and feudalism succeeded to slavery.
Even the majority of the most active socialists consider the question as still in the stage of
agitation and propaganda, their present task being that of enlightening the masses until the
consummation of the present social development, and the declared bankruptcy of the present
social order, shall have delivered the world into their hands. Socialism, therefore, is for the most
part a theory affecting the future, more or less remote, and has only to a limited degree gained a
real and practical footing in the life of our time. Yet it should not be forgotten that its theories
have most powerfully affected all the ablest recent economic writers of Germany, and have even
modified German legislation; - Its influence is rapidly growing; among the lower and alsoamong the most advanced classes in almost every country dominated by European culture, following as a destroying negation the development of capitalism. (3) In its doctrinal aspects socialism is most interesting as a criticism of the present economic order, of what socialists call the capitalistic system, with which the existing land system is connected. Under the present economic order land and capital (the material and instruments without which industry is impossible) are the property of a class, employing a class of wage labourers handicapped by their exclusion from land and capital.
Competition is the general rule by which the share of the members of those classes in the fruits of production is determined. Against this system critical socialism is a reasoned protest; and it is at issue also with the prevailing political economy, in so far as it assumes or maintains the permanence or righteousness of this economic order. Of the economic optimism implied in the historic doctrine of laissez- faire socialism is an uncompromising rejection. (4) Socialism is usually regarded as a phase of the struggle for the emancipation of labour, for the complete participation of the working classes in the material, intellectual, and spiritual inheritance of the human race. This is certainly the most substantial and most prominent part of the socialist programme, the working classes being the most numerous and the worst sufferers from the present regime.
This view, however, is rather one-sided, for socialism claims not less to be in the interest of the small capitalist gradually crushed by the competition of the larger, and in the interest also of the large capitalist,whose position is endangered by the huge unmanageableness of his success, and by the world-wide economic anarchy from which even the greatest are not secure. Still it is the deliverance of the working class that stands in the front of every socialistic theory; and, though the initiative in socialist speculation and action has usually come from the middle and upper classes, yet it is to the working men that they generally appeal While recognizing the great confusion in the use of the word "socialism," we have treated it as properly a phenomenon of the 19th century, beginning in France with Saint-Simon and Fourier, in England with Robert Owen, and most powerfully represented at the present day by the school of Karl Marx. As we have seen, however; there are definitions of the word which would give it a wider range of meaning and a more ancient beginning, compared with which capitalism is but of yesterday,-which would, in fact, make it as old as human society itself.
In the early stages of human development, when the tribe or the village community was the social unit the subordination of the individual to the society in which he dwelt was the rule, and common property was the prevalent form. In the development of the idea of property, especially as regards land, three successive historical stages are broadly recognized,- common property and common enjoyment of it, common property and private enjoyment private property and private enjoyment. The last form did not attain to full expression till the end of the 18th century, when the principle of individual freedom, which was really a reaction against privileged restriction, was proclaimed as a positive axiom of government and of economics. The free individual struggle for wealth and for the social advantages dependent on wealth is a comparatively recent thing. In all periods of history the state reserved to itself the right to interpose in the arrangements of property,-sometimes in favour of the poor; as in the case of the English poor law, which may thus be regarded as a socialistic measure. Moreover, all through history revolts in favour of a rearrangement of property have been very frequent. And in the societies of the Catholic Church we have a permanent example of common property and a common enjoyment of it.
How are we to distinguish the socialism of the 19th century from these old-world phenomena, and especially from the communism (1) which has played so great a part in history? To this query socialists, especially of the school of Marx, have a clear and precise answer. Socialism is a stage in the evolution of society which could not arrive till the conditions necessary to it had been established. The first and most essential of these was the development of the great industrialism which after a long period of preparation and gradual growth began to reach its culminating point with the inventions and technical improvements, with the application of steam and the rise of the factory system, in England towards the end of the 18th century. Under this system industry was organized into a vast social operation, and was thus already socialized; but it was a system that was exploited by the individual owner of the capital at his own pleasure and for his own behoof. Under the. pressure of the competition of the large industry, the small capitalist is gradually crushed out, and the working producers become wage-labourers organized and drilled in immense factories and workshops.
The development of this system still continues and is enveloping the whole world. Such is the industrial revolution. Parallel with this a revolution in the world of ideas equally great and equally necessary to the rise of socialism has taken place. This change of thought which made its world-historic announcement in the French Revolution made reason the supreme judge and had freedom for its great practical watchword. It was represented in the economic sphere by the school of Adam Smith. Socialism was an outcome of it too, and first of all in Saint-Simon and his schools professed to give the positive and constructive corrective to a negative movement which did not see that it was merely negative and therefore temporary. In other words, Saint. Simon may be said to aim at nothing less than the completion of the work of Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. Thus socialism professes to be the legitimate child of two great revoluti