Review of the Book
Socialism as the Sociological Ideal
by Floyd J. Melvin
[Reprinted from the Single Tax Review,
Mr. Metvin undertakes to demonstrate that the social democratic
organization of industry will be a concrete manifestation of the
sociological ideal. This ideal, the nowhere definitely stated as such,
seems to be the social system which seeks by means of the social
control of heredity and environment to direct the further progress of
civilization in accordance with the ideals arising through social
self-consciousness. This is the true Socialism, of which the
socialistic regime is the practical application. No philosophical
basis for the ideal is at- tempted. We are left to infer that a high
degree of democratic socialization is of necessity a good.
The anthropology of the book is ridiculous and naive, its
bibliography a most entertaining hodge-podge. The author is read in
only a certain class of "social" speculation. It is highly
dubious whether sociology is a science, and the irritating stress laid
upon its scientific character, seems strange when one considers its
utterly poor scientific material. Sociology is a compound of
anthropology, political philosophy and history. Its peculiar
significance is philosophical rather than scientific. We miss
throughout the book the fine metaphysical equipment of Mackenzie's on
Introduction to Political Philosophy or the passion of
Fitz-James Stephens' Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
The work seems throughout to confound similarity of function with
equality of opportunity to function. It is not an extension of
democracy to make men physically alike, neither is it an extension of
democracy to make them financially, mentally and spiritually alike.
The function of democracy as we conceive it, is to allow of so much
individual development as is compatible with the development of any
other member of the group. Although he expressly repudiates it, the
logical ideal of the author's democracy would be a Jesuit society, "each
for all and all for each," in which the common will is the will
of all, in which the individual development is subordinate always to
that will. Our ideal is that of the social will not obtruding itself
save to guard the individual wills. The individual will includes the
right to power, riches or any form of social inequality, not unfairly
gained by depriving others of the equal opportunities to do the same.
The elimination of chance in society which the Luther thinks to be a
great feature of socialistic organization, is its most damming phase.
The author would confer a favor by defining the word "social."
Prof. Dewey has declared the individual to be a situation, a "focus"
of social traditions. If so he possesses nothing that society cannot
lay prior claim to. If this theory be true why seek individual
development at all? Man should develop only as a social situation,
being evoluted by his usefulness to the group. The weak point in all
socialistic ideals (here used philosophically) is the gliding over of
the fact, that the "being different" part of a man is what
makes him an individual and is the only fact about him that is
significant for political ethics. And that is why individualism and
not Socialism is the true goal.