Socialism, The Slave State

Max Hirsch

[Part 1]

The analysis of the proposals and the conceptions of Socialism which are here presented to the reader where delivered by Max Hirsch as addresses, in the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne, Australia, in 1904. The meetings were attended by men and women of every section of society, and the Hall was crowded on each occasion. This was the first time that a thorough examination of what Socialism is, and how it would work out in practice, was submitted to a free-for-all audience. The deep interest these addresses stirred in the minds of politicians and industrialists brought forth a demand for their publication in the form of a pamphlet.


Freedom – A Vanishing Ideal

The last decades have witnessed a vast change in the sentiments and ideals of a large section of the people. Years ago the working classes, nurtured in the spirit of freedom, still believed, in spite of occasional lapses, that their class aspirations would be realised through an extension of freedom and a greater equality of rights and opportunities.

Since then a gradual change has taken place. The reactionary teaching of Socialism has been adopted more and more; little by little a considerable part of the freedom for which our forefathers fought and bled and died has been dissipated under the influence of this teaching, and the large and well organized Labor Party is now prepared to sacrifice all the rest, to submit itself and all of us to the harrowing despotism of a Socialist State.

The question arose whether I should give expression to my views on Socialism. I hesitated for some time, fearing the unavoidable dryness of the subject. The importance of giving voice to the view that the success of Socialism would be the worst calamity which could overtake civilized humanity, coupled with the imminent danger that the Socialist party may become dominant, induced me to disregard these misgivings.

Socialism World-wide, Specious, Disastrous.

Socialism is a movement world-wide in extent; in every civilized country it is attracting the attention and support of large sections of the people. Such a world-wide movement must have world-wide causes. Nor are these causes difficult to find. Everywhere the masses of the people are smarting under a sense of economic injustice; everywhere they see that the marvellous industrial progress of the last century has borne but inadequate fruit for the working masses; everywhere they experience that while untold millions accumulate in a few hands, the condition of the masses is but little improved.

This injustice Socialism proposes to remedy, and it must be admitted -- it would be foolish to deny -- that on the surface it would appear as if it could provide this remedy. I have, however, gained the conviction that this appearance is misleading, that far from securing to the masses of the people a greater share in the wealth which they help to produce, it would actually curtail the share which the vast majority of them now receive. Nor would this be the only evil. Man does not live by bread alone. There are higher boons than material wealth. Freedom, equality of rights, the purity and joys of family life -- these are the higher fruits of the social state. For the partial attainment of these boons generation after generation of men have sacrificed wealth and life itself. Socialism must not only stop further progress in these directions, but will lead to the loss of the progress so far made in its long and weary upward struggle.

I therefore oppose Socialism, not because I believe existing social arrangements to be just and good. On the contrary, for the last fifteen years of my life I have done all that my powers permit to show their injustice, and point out what I conceive to be the remedy. I oppose it because it offers a stone for bread; because the remedy which it offers is no remedy, but a poison which would corrode the whole life of the social body.

To prove this charge I intend to bring before you the avowed changes which Socialism proposes to effect in our industrial organization, and some of the unavowed consequential changes which the adoption of these proposals must inevitably provoke. Next I intend to bring before you a picture of the economic outcome of Socialism, showing that it must culminate in industrial retrogression and consequent universal poverty. Third, I intend to deal with the political outcome of Socialism, showing that its inevitable result must be such a despotism on the part of its bureaucracy, such slavery for the rest of the people, as has not been approximated even in the worst days of Roman Caesarism, and that this slavery must be accompanied by a loss of all the virtues which we as a nation value most highly.

Complexity of Present Industrial Organization.

Before entering upon the industrial proposals of Socialism, permit me to show, however inadequately, the real nature of the existing industrial organization which Socialism proposes to destroy. We live in a world in which no one can lead an independent life. Every one of us is dependent upon the help of all others for the satisfaction of his desires and the maintenance of his life. Every article which man can use is the result of a vast system of world-wide, voluntary, and unconscious co-operation.

Take, for instance, this coat which I am wearing. In order to produce it, some men had to clear land and rear sheep; another group of men had to shear the sheep; another group had to clean the wool; still another group had to dye the yam; yet another had to weave the yam into cloth; and still another group had to fashion the cloth into a coat.

Simultaneously with these activities, another group of men had to collect horn, and another had to fashion these into buttons; another group had to plant and tend cotton bushes; still another had to collect the cotton; another had to spin the cotton into yam; another had to weave the yam into cloth; and still another had to dye the cloth in order that there should be lining for the coat.

At the same time another group of men had to plant and tend mulberry trees; another had to rear silk worms, collect the cocoons and unravel them; another group had to spin the silk into thread; and still another had to dye the thread in order that the coat might be sewn together. Antecedent to all the activities so far mentioned, other groups of men had each to mine ore, coal, and flux, in order that another group might smelt these materials into iron; while other groups, spread all over the earth and far too numerous to number, had to fashion the iron into all the many tools and machines which were required for the many different activities mentioned.

Also antecedently, other groups of men had to cut down trees, and still others had to cut the trees into planks; others had to quarry slate and still others had to cut it into shape; still others had to dig clay, and still others had to bake the clay into bricks in order that yet other groups of men might form these materials into factories, warehouses, and dwelling houses. Even this does not exhaust the process.

In order that all these various materials, originating in different parts of the world, might be brought to the places where they could be most conveniently transformed, many different groups of men had to act as carters, sailors, and railway men. Antecedent again to their rendering these services, thousands of different groups had to perform the manifold processes which resulted in the production of carts, ships, and railways.

Yet other groups of men, intervening st every stage of all these processes, had, as bankers, brokers, merchants, and storekeepers, to co-ordinate all these activities. And finally, in order that all these many thousand different groups of men could direct their energies each to his special task, thousands upon thousands of other groups, also spread over the whole earth, had to direct their energies to the production of the many different kinds of food and other things which the former wanted.

Marvels of Unconscious Co-operation.

All over the earth millions upon millions of men are thus engaged in co-operating with each other. All of them are actuated by one motive only in this co-operation -- each seeks to gain the best living he can for himself; seeks to satisfy the maximum of desires with the minimum of labor. But in carrying out this purely selfish purpose, each of them also subserves the unselfish purpose of making it easier for all others to satisfy their desires.

All of them, moreover, are co-operating unconsciously, each having only his own purpose in view, and very few of them have any knowledge of the ultimate object towards the production of which their labor is directed. And further, this co-operation, world-wide in extent, is also extensive in time. Forty, fifty, sixty years may have passed since the first stroke of work was done, which resulted recently in the production of this coat.

The Socialistic Alternative.

The industrial organization now existing, and which Socialists term contemptuously "the capitalistic system of industry," thus presents a picture of world-wide, continuous, and unconscious co-operation almost too vast for the mind of man to grasp. Of all the marvellous contrivances which man has developed, none is so marvellous as this system of co-operation, upon the certainty, continuity, and completeness of which every one of us is dependent for the satisfaction of his desires; upon the permanency of which we all count with the same certainty as we do upon the rising and the setting of the sun.

Moreover, this system which is carried on unconsciously and voluntarily, has been developed unconsciously. No government, no parliament, no king has created it, though all of them have hampered its growth, and still hamper it. It has grown, is growing, and is daily becoming more highly evolved by the unconscious action of men seeking to satisfy their desires with the least exertion, and who in order to do this, have to comply with the natural laws which direct the actions of man in the social state.

This voluntary and unconscious co-operation is the framework of our civilization. Socialism condemns and intends to displace it with a system of compulsory co-operation, consciously directed by State authority. That which has grown up naturally in the course of untold centuries they wish to abolish in favor of an unknown, untried, and artificial system. For the natural pressure of necessity directing man's industrial activity, they want to substitute the pressure of organized force. Voluntary action they would supplant by compulsion.

For the essential demands of Socialism -- that upon which all Socialists are agreed, that which separates Socialism from every other political and economic school -- is the acquisition by the State of all land, of all the means and opportunities of transportation, and of all the tools, machinery, buildings, and material of industry, and the conduct by the State through its officials of all and every industry. The State is to be the only owner of land and industrial capital, the only conductor of all industries, the only employer of labor; every adult, man and woman, is to be employed by the State in some industrial occupation.

A manifesto published by a "Joint Committee of Socialist Organizations of Great Britain" merely repeats the central plank of the platform of all other socialistic bodies: "There is a growing feeling at the present time, that, in view of the increasing number of Socialists in Great Britain, an effort should be made to show that, whatever differences may have arisen between them in the past, all who can fairly be called Socialists are agreed in the main principles of their thoughts and action. ...On this all Socialists agree. Our aim, one and all, is to obtain for the whole community, complete control of the means of transport, the means of manufacture, the mines and the land."

This complete revolution of the existing system of industrial co-operation is claimed as the necessary condition for the abolition of involuntary poverty, under the conception that competition is responsible for the misery of the masses of the people; that rent, interest, and profit are unjust deductions from the reward of individual labor, and that therefore the abolition of competition, of rent, of interest, and profit is the absolutely necessary condition for justice in the social relations of men. These industrial changes, the monopoly of all industry and exchange by the State, involves certain obvious consequential changes.

When the State owns all the industrial capital, private loan capital also will have disappeared. Even if some men still owned capital, as may be the case in the early stages of Socialism, they could not lend it, because there would be no security on which it could be lent, and no interest would be allowed to be obtained for it. National debts are also incompatible with Socialism, as are all stocks, shares, and other negotiable documents. There can be no trading and no markets, and there would be neither necessity nor possibility for money. All transactions being with the State, each citizen would have a book, on the credit side of which would be entered the value of the services rendered by him, and on the debit side of which would appear the value of the articles which he had taken from the Government stores, and of other services rendered to him by the State.

Socialist Disputes as to Labor's Reward.

I have already said these are the conceptions and demands on which all Socialists agree. Now we come to a question on which there is some divergence of opinion among them.

If the State owns all capital, conducts all industries, and employs all the labor, the State obviously and admittedly becomes the owner of all the wealth that will be produced. But as human beings cannot live without food, clothing and shelter, and want various other things as well, the State must distribute these things among the individuals; that is, the State must give some reward for labor. Socialists therefore propose that the State -- after deducting the things necessary for the replacement and extension of national capital -- shall distribute all the other wealth produced among the citizens. But as to the manner of doing this a difference of opinion exists.

One comparatively small section advocates that this reward be apportioned to each citizen in accordance with the value of the services rendered by him. The great majority, however, declares this to be impossible, and advocates equal reward in value, regardless of the value of services rendered, as the only plan feasible under Socialism. And they are quite right; for in the absence of competition and markets, such as Socialism aims at, it is impossible to ascertain either the relative value of services rendered, or the relative value of goods.

Who, for instance, will say how many hours of labor by a navvy equal one hour of labor by a great landscape painter; or how many hours of labor done by a mechanic working on a bridge equal one hour of labor done by a great engineer in planning and designing the bridge? Free and equal competition settles these questions with unerring certainty; in its absence, they cannot be settled even approximately, for there is no common standard of measurement.

Likewise, the value of goods cannot be discovered in the absence of competition and markets. Who can say, in these circumstances, what is the value of wheat, when, as is the case, the same labor produces five times as much wheat from a more fertile than from a less fertile piece of land of equal area? Who can discover the relative value of a pair of boots made from the best part of a skin, and that of another pair made from the worst parts of the same skin? Or who can discover the value of by-products which appear in many industries, and especially in nearly all chemical industries? Competition alone can discover these values. In the absence of competition, they cannot be discovered; can only be determined arbitrarily by the dictates of officials.

If, then, Socialism were to adopt unequal rewards, these officials would have to settle arbitrarily the value of the services rendered by each worker, as well as the value of every kind and quality of goods; if equal reward is adopted, they would only have to perform the latter task. Fortunately this latter one is not so open to corruption as the former. But in determining the value of services, the road is open to every kind of favoritism, jobbery, terrorism and corruption.

For those reasons the majority of Socialists recognize that equality of reward in value, with absolute disregard of the value of services, is the only system possible to Socialism. In support, I will quote the following passage from the Fabian Essays:

Equal Reward Incompatible with Edticiency.

"The impossibility of estimating the separate value of each man's labor, with any really valid result; the friction which would arise, the jealousies which would be provoked, the inevitable discontent, favoritism and jobbery that would prevail -- all these things will drive the Communal Council into the right path, equal remuneration of all workers."

Socialism, which aims at the abolition of the natural law of competition, thus is compelled to disregard another natural law -- the law that among adults the more efficient shall reap the reward of their efficiency; which, in human society, means that those who render greater services to their fellowmen, shall also receive a greater reward than those who render smaller service. This law, acting through competition, is the cause of the evolution of every form of life and of the evolution of human society from barbarism to civilization.

This natural law, Socialism would supplant by a condition, in which it would be as good to the individual to be inefficient and lazy, as to be efficient and industrious. Human beings can no more disregard natural social laws -- without exposing themselves to punishment -- than they can disregard the physical laws of the universe. If they create conditions in which efficiency is deprived of its due reward, where it will be as good to be inefficient as efficient, two results may be predicted with absolute certainty. The gradual growth towards greater social efficiency of all men will cease. In its place will come a gradual decline in social efficiency, until the efficiency of all has fallen to the level below which life cannot be maintained.

How Socialists Would Acquire Land and Capital.

The question now arises, how does Socialism propose to obtain possession of all the land and industries of the country? The early Socialists proposed to do so by revolution and sudden confiscation. But the absurdity of such schemes has long been recognized by Socialists, and they therefore rely upon the constitutional and gradual introduction, increment by increment, of their scheme. They also recognize that people can be far more easily induced to travel along the road which leads to Socialism, if the end of the journey is kept out of sight; moreover, we constantly witness various interests clamoring for governmental performance of services which, with a little trouble and expense, these interests could perform, and as experience shows, could perform better, for themselves. Yet every restriction placed on industry, every interference of the State with the conduct of industry, and every assumption by the State of unprivileged industrial functions, attunes the public mind to further interference, and the accumulation of such restrictions and interferences must gradually bring us to the nationalization of one or another unprivileged private industry. When this has once been started, the impetus will have been given which will rapidly lead to full Socialism. As a body, sliding down an inclined plane, gathers impetus as it proceeds, so Socialists hope, and hope with reason, that through restriction they may rapidly proceed to nationalization, and that then the rest will accomplish itself.

Compensation or Confiscation.

The next question is, how do Socialists propose to pay for the land and all the industries of the country? Whenever Socialists begin to turn their projects into practice, the as yet not wholly corrupted public opinion will compel the offer of some sort of compensation to dispossessed persons, probably in the form of interest-bearing bonds. But they cannot continue to do this. For as the abolition of rent, interest, and profit is one of the main objects of Socialism, the socialized State can neither continue the payment of interest, nor the issue of interest-bearing bonds. Two definite proposals have been made. One, originating with one of the leaders of Socialism in the United States, Laurance Gronlund, proposes to issue non-interest bearing bonds to the value of material assets, goodwill, patents, and other like intangible assets being disregarded, and to make those bonds redeemable through the gradual withdrawal of goods from the State stores. This proposal obviously involves confiscation to a large extent. Another and more authoritative proposal, coming from the Fabian Society, is to tax rent, interest, and profits to a gradually increasing extent, and to use the revenue thus obtained for the gradual purchase of industries. This proposal, however, also amounts to practical confiscation. For this taxation would gradually reduce the value of these assets, while at the same time their owners would themselves almost exclusively furnish the amount paid in compensation. Whatever plan, however, is adopted, that full compensation will be paid or that the State will continue to pay interest on any bonds given in compensation, is absolutely impossible without frustrating the main objects of Socialism.

Socialists do not hesitate to justify either of these confiscatory proposals, nor the utter disregard of the value of services rendered in the reward of labor. They insist that human beings have no rights whatsoever which the State must respect. Permit me to prove again this remarkable attitude. Laurance Gronlund, in "Co-operative Commonwealth," writes: "It is society, organized society, the State, that gives us all the rights we have. As against the State, the organized society, even labor does not give us a particle of title to what our hands and brain produce." Likewise, Professor Robert Flint, in "Socialism," writes: "Socialism denies to the individual any rights independent of society, and assigns to society authority to do whatever it deems for its own good, with the persons, the faculties, and possessions of individuals."

The man who has no rights is a slave. These quotations prove to you that slavery is the essence of Socialism, and that its apostles have provided themselves with a moral theory which justifies any confiscation in which they may indulge. Freedom and justice they regard as mere empty words. The conception that every man is entitled to possess and enjoy all the fruits of his labor is to them an old-world delusion. Nor is this denial of all human rights accidental, in the sense that some Socialists may agree with it and others may disagree. On the contrary, it is the inevitable outcome of the industrial proposals with which all Socialists agree. For the admission of individual human rights would stamp these proposals as in the highest degree despotic and unjust. Morally, they cannot be defended except on the assumption that human rights do not exist; that what have been so regarded are mere privileges granted by the State for its own purposes, and which the State may therefore arbitrarily abolish.

This doctrine brings Socialism into conflict with itself. It starts with the assertion that existing economic conditions, based on the law of the State, are unjust, and that the object of Socialism is to abolish State-created injustice. It finishes by declaring that the State cannot commit injustice. For injustice consists of the infringement of rights; where there are no rights there can be no injustice. Thus Socialism is compelled to commit intellectual suicide.

Socialist Organization and Bureaucracy.

Permit me now to draw some further consequences which must inevitably arise from the adoption of the fundamental proposals of Socialism. If the State owns and manages all industries, the State must also create a managing organization, and this organization must be directed by one supreme authority. For it is then no longer the free demand of individuals which, through competition, determines the kinds, qualities, and quantities of goods that shall be produced. Some official or officials in central authority must undertake this task. Otherwise this inevitable result would arise, that some kinds and qualities of goods would be produced largely in excess of what is wanted, while some other kinds and qualities would be unproduced.

The central authority, therefore, must make itself acquainted, not only with the amount of every kind and quality of goods likely to be wanted in a given year, but it must do so for many years in advance. For as I have already pointed out, the production of almost any article is a continuous process, extending over many years. Whether any man or company of men can successfully accomplish the tremendous task of providing many years in advance for all the manifold wants and desires, ever varying, of a whole nation, may well be doubted. Certainly, our experience of the industrial efficiency of government officials does not lead to the belief that they can do it.

But in order that the officials of the Socialist State may have the slightest chance of accomplishing it, however bad and inefficiently, all industrial authority must be concentrated in one center. Under this central authority there must be many authorities, each dealing with one of the main branches of industry; under each of them again must be the heads of every separate factory, mine, farm, and distribution warehouse, and under each of them must be sub-managers, foremen, and gangers.

Thus, in addition to the bureaucracy now existing everywhere, there must be created another far more numerous and carefully graduated bureaucracy, which directs the whole industrial affairs of the nation, as well as the daily tasks of the whole army of workers.

Powers of Bureaucracy.

Moreover, this bureaucracy must also determine the kind of labor which each person, man and woman, shall perform; must direct where this labor is to be performed by each of them, as well as the intensity with which each shall work. For obviously the determination of the quantity of each kind and of each quality of goods to be produced involves the power to shift labor from an occupation in which it has become excessive to one in which there is insufficient labor. This is again admitted by Socialists. August Bebel, the great leader of the Socialist party of Germany, in "Woman," says: "If a superfluity of workers occurs in one branch and a deficiency in another, it will be the duty of the Executive to arrange matters and readjust the inequality."

This necessary power to shift labor from one occupation to another, however, involves the further power to shift the laborers from place to place, to determine where they shall reside. For it will inevitably happen that the new occupation to which they are allotted can be carried on more conveniently, or can only be carried on, in another place than that where the worker resided so far.

Nor is this all. Young men and women entering upon their industrial life cannot be allowed to choose the kind of occupation which they desire to follow. For, if they were allowed to do so, too many would go into some occupations and too few would go into others. This tendency would be enormously aggravated by the inevitable equality of remuneration. The heavier and more disagreeable tasks bringing no greater reward than the lighter and more agreeable ones, the latter would inevitably become overcrowded. Therefore, the young men and women entering upon the active tasks of life would not, and could not, be allowed to choose their own occupation. State officials would choose for them and determine the whole course of their life. The youth who aspires to become a mathematician might be put to boot-making; one who aspires to be an engineer might be put to raising cattle; and the girl who desires to become a teacher might be compelled to work in a jute factory. Natural aptitudes could not be considered even if they were known to those who determine the selection. But in most cases they cannot be known at the comparatively early age of the aspirants, for special aptitudes frequently, if not mostly, declare themselves later in life. Being unknown, at the time, to the workers themselves, they cannot be known to the officials, and therefore cannot be considered.

The intensity of the exertion of every person must also be determined by these officials, for as every one receives equal reward, all would necessarily be called upon to work with similar intensity, otherwise those who naturally would work more intensely than others would become dissatisfied and would slacken their efforts. A dead level of inefficiency would thus be reached, all working at the stroke of the least efficient or most lazy.

In order to avoid this, the officials must have power to punish the lazy, stupid and inefficient, so as to stimulate their energies. What can these Powers be? These men and women cannot be discharged; their remuneration cannot be lowered. Therefore the only punishment possible is personal chastisement or imprisonment. The knout and the jail, therefore, threaten everyone who either is naturally slow or otherwise inefficient, or on whom these faults are fastened by the ill will of some official or officials.

Discipline and Tyranny.

Moreover, as in all bodies regulated by graduated authority, as for instance in every army, strict discipline must be observed in the industrial army of the Socialist State.

This again is admitted. Mr. Sydney Webb, in a lecture quoted by Sir Henry Wrixon in "Socialism," stated: "To suppose that the industrial affairs of a complicated industrial State can be run without strict subordination, without obedience to orders, and without definite allowance for maintenance, is to dream, not of Socialism, but of Anarchy."

Socialists, therefore, are right when they speak of the industrial organization of Socialism as an army. There must prevail in it the same graduation, the same strict regulation, the same subordination, the same unquestioning obedience as in a militant army. The comparative freedom of our civil life must give way to the unfreedom prevailing in the ranks of the military, and with it must come an adjustment of character like that which military discipline produces. Unquestioning obedience and subordination will be regarded as the chief virtues, and manly independence of thought and action, assertion of rights, and resistance to unjust aggression will come to be regarded as the worst of vices.

The Professions -- Press Monopoly.

Before leaving this part of the subject, attention must be drawn to the fact that equality of distribution cannot stop at any arbitrary line, but must prevail as to all the members, at least all the regulated members, of the State. Lawyers, doctors, painters, sculptors, actors, singers, scientists, and authors can no more be allowed to earn an income independent of the State than architects, engineers, and surveyors, or exceptionally skilful mechanics.

Moreover, all these classes of workers must be placed under the directive control of the bureaucracy the same as any other worker. Paid by the State, they must also work under the control of its officials, and these officials must determine the number to be employed in each of these professions, and therefore must choose those who shall employ themselves in each. Any man not so chosen could only work at these professions after he or she had accomplished the tasks set for them.

Even then they could not be allowed to sell their books, paintings, or sculptures, nor could the doctors, singers, actors, and musicians claim any fee for their services. No book could be published except with the approval of some State authority, for the State controlling all printing works, can, will, and must determine whether it shall be printed.

Likewise, the production of newspapers and all other journalistic works would be a monopoly of the State, for newspaper proprietors could no more be allowed to control newspaper factories than any other capitalist some other factory. Clearly, therefore, only such newspapers would and could be printed which voiced the views of the official bureaucracy.

Not only would all the wealth of the country be centered in the hands of the bureacracy, not only would this bureaucracy have absolute control, hourly and daily throughout their lives, over every man and woman, but they would also have an absolute monopoly over the manufacture of public opinion. No opinion could be expressed, no news could be published which they desired to suppress.

Destruction of Family Life.

Many Socialist writers advocate the most repulsive changes in marital relations. Other Socialists reject these with scorn. I again say that we are not concerned with these opinions, but are bound to inquire what may be the inevitable changes in the constitution of the family which the industrial organization of Socialism must produce. For that such a far-reaching change in social relations must bring about changes in family relations will be denied only by unthinking men. All men and women are to work at some individual task; men and women are to have equal rewards. These conditions must powerfully affect existing relations.

Women whose energy is expended in industrial work cannot preserve the comfort or even decency of individual households as well. Even if they could manage the additional work, it would be done perfunctorily, their interests lying elsewhere. They could not depute details to domestic servants, for, as a result of equal reward, domestic service would no longer exist. Father and mother having each their individual tasks to perform, would also be unable to rear their own children. Thus home ties would be diminished, and the maintenance of a separate home for each family made almost impossible. Men and women would all live in large lodging houses run by the State; children would be handed over at as early a period as possible to the care of the State.


Permit me now to recapitulate the conclusions arrived at.

Socialism would transfer to the State, without adequate compensation, all the land and capital of the country, and would establish an additional, numerous, and well-disciplined bureaucracy to manage all the industrial activities of the country, and to distribute some of its results to private citizens.

All the men and the women of the country would be at the absolute command of this bureaucracy with regard to the place at which they are to reside, and the kind and quantity of work which they are to perform, and all would receive the same wages with absolute disregard of merit.

Domestic service would be a thing of the past. Separate family homes would give way to common lodging houses; children would be separated from parents at the earliest age, and the rock on which our civilization is built, the monogynic marriage lasting throughout life, would gradually disappear.

Even if the bureaucracy were to be absolutely honest, even if all its members were actuated solely by public and not by private interests, it still must constitute an all-embracing despotic power.

Freedom, individuality and independence would be displaced by universal slavery; variety of life would give way to a dull uniformity; all the sweetest and purest joys which life offers to men and women would be sacrificed, and as I shall endeavor to prove, all these sacrifices would be made in vain; the uniformity would be a uniformity in such poverty as is now experienced only by the poorest in the land.


Economic and Industrial Consequences.

I have endeavored to picture the industrial organization which the adoption of the fundamental proposals of Socialism – proposals on which all Socialists are agreed – must inevitably bring about.

The main features of this organization we found to be the creation of a numerous, carefully graduated and strongly disciplined body of officials culminating in one central all-directing agency for the management of all the industries of the country.

This central agency, we found, must determine, years in advance, the various kinds of goods to be produced, the several qualities of each kind, as well as the quantities to be produced of each kind and quality.

In this stupendous task, however inefficiently it may be done, they must have the additional power to control every man and woman in the country with regard to the occupations which they are to follow, the place where they are to reside, and the intensity with which they are to work.

And further, we found that these officials would also have to determine the amount of wealth to be divided amongst the people, each adult receiving an equal share. Now I shall endeavor to bring before you some of the economic and industrial consequences of this Socialist organization.

Factors In Labor's Productivity.

The productivity of man's labor in the social state, affected as it is by his natural surroundings, such as fertility of soil, mineral treasures, and topographical features, is also affected, and to a still higher degree, by many social factors. Permit me to enumerate some of the more important of these.

One consists in the degree of efficiency possessed by the organizing and managing agencies. Another consists in the degree of willingness, conscientiousness, and efficiency with which each individual worker performs his task. A third is to be found in the correspondence between the natural aptitude of each worker and the task allotted to him. A fourth consists in the quantity and efficiency of the industrial capital available. But there is another factor, perhaps as important as all these put together, namely, the knowledge of nature and the use of natural forces in industrial processes.

It is admitted that every worker to-day produces many times the amount of wealth which the most efficient workman, most intelligently directed, and with ample capital at his disposal, could produce a hundred years ago. The increase is so great that the lowest estimate I have seen places it at 15-fold, that is that every worker to-day produces on an average fifteen times the amount of wealth which his predecessors could produce in the same time a century ago. What has brought about this marvellous change -- a change so great that, if it were not counteracted by other factors, it would have banished involuntary poverty from this world? There is no doubt as to the causes. This enormous increase in wealth-producing power is due to discoveries and inventions, and to their use in the industrial processes.

Seeing that all these factors affect the production of wealth, and, therefore, the amount of wealth which is available for the people, seeing also that each of them must be affected by social organization, no serious man, and no serious nation, can ever think of adopting Socialism, without careful consideration of the factors in the production of wealth.

Discouragement to Invention and Discovery.

Let us begin with the most important inventions and discoveries. It is evident, nor do the Socialists deny it, that under Socialism no special material reward can be hoped for by any inventor or discoverer, however much his invention or discovery might benefit mankind. But they argue that this absence of reward would not diminish useful inventions and discoveries; for the reason that men having a bent in that direction cannot help themselves, but must go on inventing and discovering.

It may be true that here and there a man may be found whose nature is so constituted that he would continue the exercise of his inventive faculties without any possible prospect of reward. But this cannot possibly be true of the great majority of inventors. These are constituted like other men, and will not undertake the costly experiments which most inventions entail, or the sometimes dangerous and generally expensive researches which precede discoveries, unless attracted thereto by a possibility of a great reward. The absence of reward thus must enormously decrease invention, and consequently the industrial progress of the nation.

This tendency would be strengthened from other directions. As under Socialism every man and woman must work at his or her appointed task a certain number of hours each day, the opportunity for researches and experiments which result in inventions and discoveries would be largely curtailed for all. Moreover, as all are to receive equal reward, the reward of each could not be great and none therefore would possess the means to make the costly researches or experiments which most inventions and discoveries entail. These two causes would obviously affect even the few exceptional persons who would not be prevented from the exercise of their inventive genius by the absence of all possibility of material reward.

If it is alleged that the State -- that is, some of its officials -- would select men and women to do the discovering and inventing of the nation, a serious reply is scarcely necessary. For even if the selection were made honestly, it would not be made efficiently, and even if made efficiently, it could offer no approximately adequate substitute for the thousands and thousands of brains which now endeavor independently to find solutions for industrial problems. While, for these reasons, inventions and discoveries would be rarely made under Socialism, other causes would arise tending to prevent the adoption of the few that might still be made.
The adoption of new inventions and discoveries generally entails the discarding of existing machinery and processes by employers, and a change in the accustomed method of working on the part of employees. Employers and employees are loth to do this. On employers it entails an immediate loss, and only the prospect of exceptional profit for a time or fear of losing competitive power induces them to adopt new inventions. The pressure of competition likewise overcomes the unwillingness of their employees to change their method of working.

The Red Tape of Bureaucracy.

None of these motives actuates the officials of the State. They can suffer no personal loss from refusing new inventions, nor can they gain personal advantage from adopting new inventions and discoveries. Moreover, and apart from the responsibility of discarding existing machinery, the adoption of new machinery and methods would also demand additional exertion on their part, and might expose them to unpopularity.

There is, however, still another and greater obstacle. Inventions do not generally spring perfect from the brain of men. When any industrial difficulty invites the application of inventive genius many unsuccessful attempts at its solution precede the successful one. This certainty of many failures before a success can be registered stands in the way of progress to-day. Capitalists, knowing this uncertainty, can only be induced to try a new discovery or invention by hopes of great gain or pressure of competition.

But no such motive will affect the officials of the State. For while they cannot obtain any material reward if the new process or machine is successful, they would certainly be blamed if it were unsuccessful. It would, therefore, be far safer for them to do nothing than to run this risk. Hence the absence of all motives to experiment with new inventions is fortified by strong motives against doing so, and Socialist officials will therefore carefully abstain from making such experiments.

Even at the present time (1904), when the example or competition of private enterprise stimulates the action of State officials, these causes retard their adoption of new inventions. Innumerable examples might be quoted of State departments refusing for years to use processes and appliances which privately conducted industries had proved to be advantageous.

Part 2