Socialism, The Slave State
Startling Examples of Bureaucratic Inertia.
Let me give you a few examples. The discovery that lemon juice was
a preventive and cure for scurvy was made in 1593. From that day on
it was frequently used in ships, and gradually maritime vessels
began to carry it habitually. The British Admiralty did not adopt it
till 1795, when the safety of the Channel fleet was endangered by
scurvy, of which the sailors were dying like flies. That is, it took
200 years to move the Admiralty officials to take this step, and
more deaths were caused by this official reluctance to go outside
the beaten grooves than were caused by battles, wrecks, and all
other casualties at sea put together.
Similarly, the British Admiralty stuck to paddies, and could not
be induced to adopt screw-propellers for men-of-war, for fourteen
years after their use had become general in the mercantile marine.
Again, the Admiralty left the plates of their ships unprotected by
anti-corrosive paint for many years after its use had established
itself on all other iron ships.
Again, it was not until the breakdown of many ships' engines, and
years after it had been generally adopted, that the Admiralty
consented to adopt Silver's governor for marine engines.
Similarly with the Post Office, of which Sir Charles Siemens, the
great electrical engineer, used to complain that it was almost
impossible to get it to adopt any improvement in telegraphy.
It needs no more examples. This tendency of State departments to
remain in a groove is so distinct and universal that it has become
proverbial. Yet this tendency must be infinitely greater under
Socialism, owing to the total absence of the stimulating example of
private industry, and owing to the absence of any motive on the part
of others to overcome the inertia or hostility of officials.
Stagnation and Retrogression.
As I have pointed out, the difficulties in the way of the adoption
of any invention are very great, even under the existing competitive
system. They generally are overcome by men who expect to share in
the reward of the inventor, and inventors gladly share their
prospective reward with the man who gets their inventions adopted.
When no such reward can be obtained, the motive to overcome the
difficulties will be gone, and no such effort will be made.
Still another danger arises. Under Socialism the adoption of any
new invention or process depends upon the will of officials; no
pressure of competition can induce it. Suppose such officials have
made an error -- have adopted a new invention or process which is
less useful than those that were discarded. If this is done under
the existing competitive system -- as it is frequently done -- loss
of competitive power and of trade quickly compels the abandonment of
the failure. But under Socialism there is nothing but the
conscientiousness of the officials to cause a failure to be
abandoned, while their self-interest might easily cause them to
refuse to do so.
Let me now recapitulate. We have seen that, through absence of
reward, and through want of time and means to make experiments, the
number of inventions and discoveries would be much diminished; that,
as officials cannot personally benefit by the adoption of successful
inventions, they would be reluctant to adopt any, partly because it
would, for a time, increase their work; partly because they would
have to risk reproof and loss of credit for possible failures;
partly because they would have to overcome the reluctance of
workmen; and partly because it is nobody's interest to persuade them
to adopt new machinery and processes.
In addition, we found that no guarantee exists under Socialism, as
is the case now, that new machinery and processes are more useful
than those discarded. Clearly, then, Socialism would put an end to
the marvellous progress which, during the course of the last hundred
years, has changed the face of the earth; which has endowed men with
previously unimagined power; which has chained the forces of nature
to man's triumphal car.
We know now that the marvels which have been achieved are but an
earnest of the marvels yet to come; we know that, proud as we may be
of the achievements of the immediate past, we are but standing on
the threshold of nature's treasure house. But that threshold will
never be passed, the inner sanctuary of nature will never be
entered, if Socialism is adopted, for the heavy hand of its
officialdom will crush the budding powers of man, will put an end to
further progress, will call a bait to the upward march which
otherwise would lead man to uncover the most deeply-hidden secrets
of nature, and to compel them to do his will. Instead of progress,
we would have stagnation, soon to fall into inevitable
All Inducement to Exertion Killed.
Permit me now to deal with the next question -- the efficiency of
labor under Socialism. The only motive for industrial exertion is
the desire to reap its fruits. If men could satisfy their material
desires without industrial exertion, they would gladly abstain from
it. They would equally abstain if all reward were withheld from
them. The motive for industrial exertion, therefore, is strongest
when men receive the full reward of their labor.
But if it is all the same to men whether they work hard and
efficiently, or little and inefficiently, they will inevitably
choose the latter course. This divorce between exertion and reward
is the main reason for the universally recognized inefficiency of
The existing system, suffering from injustice in distribution,
where the majority of men cannot hope to enjoy all the fruits of
their labor, also largely reduces the efficiency of labor. But under
Socialism -- entailing equal reward for unequal service -- this
inefficiency of labor must grow to an appalling extent. All motive
for exertion would cease to exist, for no exertion, mental or
physical, could increase the reward of anyone.
Delusive Hopes of Socialists.
Socialists reply that equality of distribution by no means
withdraws the motive for exertion, inasmuch as the amount which can
be distributed depends upon the exertion of every individual, that
the harder and more efficiently anyone works the greater will be the
reward which he receives in common with all. This reply, while fully
admitting the importance of self-interest as a motive for exertion,
overlooks the fact that each individual can benefit himself but
little by his own greater exertion when the reward of all is equal.
Take, for instance, Australia. There are about 1,500,000 adults,
and therefore, under Socialism, the results of any man's greater
exertions would have to be divided equally among all of them. Every
one of them could only obtain the one million five hundred
thousandth part of his greater exertion. If a worker wanted to
increase his own reward by 1 d. a year, he would have to increase
the product of his annual labor by 1,500,000 pennies -- that is, by
6,250 pounds. If he wanted an increase of 1 d. a week, he would have
to increase his annual output to the extent of 325,000 pounds; and
if he wanted a penny more per day, he would have to produce more
wealth to the tune of l,875,000 pounds. Is it likely that these
considerations will induce him to increase his exertions?
But it may be said that he knows that if all the others also
increase their exertions in the same way, each will get all that his
greater exertions produce. This is true, but scarcely effective. For
no worker can know whether all the other workers labor as hard as he
does. He cannot know it as to all the men in the same factory; still
less can he know it with regard to the workers in all the other
similar factories, and still less with regard to the workers in all
the departments of national production.
Therefore, every worker will disregard the possibility of
obtaining a share in the produce of the greater exertions of others;
the only thing he sees is that, all others sharing equally in the
produce of his greater exertions, the advantage to him of exerting
himself will be unrecognizable. Therefore, he will not do so, and
the efficiency of labor will suffer an enormous decline.
The Analogy of Slave Labor.
The absence of any individual motive for exertion on the part of
the regulated workers has three consequences.
One is that the result of their labor will fall off both in
quantity and quality. The produce of all the industries of the State
will be less, and that which is produced will be less serviceable.
The second consists of waste of material. Careless work involves
waste; and as all work would be careless under Socialism, the waste
of material would be frightful.
The third consequence is, that the number of regulative officials
must be largely increased, for men who work unwillingly and
inefficiently want far more supervision than those who work
willingly and efficiently. Again, slave labor suggests itself as an
example. This increase in the number of regulative officials reduces
the average output of industry still more. Every one of them would
add to the product, if, instead of supervising, he were actually
The Reign of Fear.
No doubt it will be replied that this increase in supervision
would put an end to the tendency towards slack, careless, and
But this can only take place to a small extent. The contention
presupposes that laziness and inefficiency will entail punishment.
What punishment? Weak, slow, lazy, or otherwise inefficient workers
cannot be allowed to starve. Are men and women to be starved because
they are weak or unfit for the work expected of them? Clearly, this
would be their fate if they were dismissed, for there would be no
other employer. Can their reward be lessened because they are less
efficient, than others? This would also be impossible under
Socialism, because no notice can be taken of degrees of efficiency
-- all rewards must be equal.
The only punishment possible under Socialism, therefore, is the
knout or the jail. Is it really believed that these will make labor
efficient? Did they do so in the slave-gangs of the Southern States?
Obviously, men cowering under the fear of such punishments cannot
be, industrially, as efficient as free men, under no other stress
than the natural pressure which links labor with life. Is fear as
good a motive to industrial exertion as hope of reward; sullen
resentment as good as cheerful anticipation; distaste as good as joy
in one's work?
If they are not, then the efficiency of the labor of the regulated
masses must suffer an incalculable decline under Socialism.
Lessons of Present Day Officialdom.
At least equally serious must be the decline in the efficiency of
the regulating officials, for here also efficiency does not bring
any greater reward; among them also all material motive for exertion
will have disappeared.
Moreover, the efficiency of management must be reduced through
other causes. Whenever an undertaking becomes so large that the man
at the head cannot himself supervise the whole of it, strict
regulations must take the place of personal initiative.
Still more is this the case when an undertaking is so large as to
require an extensive and graduated managerial organization, for then
each grade in the regulative machinery is more or less fettered;
lower grades appeal to higher; these transmit the request to still
higher. Much time and labor is wasted before a decision is arrived
at, and, therefore, invariable practice takes the place of
This graduation, limitation, and inflexibility is greatest where
many separate and distinct departments are subject to one graduated
managerial organization, such as is the case with all State
departments to-day. For here ultimate decisions rest with officials
having no personal knowledge of the circumstances guiding the
proposals of subordinates. Hence results the red-tape of all
government departments, such as has been so aptly described by the
Public Service Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Dealing in his annual report with the question of civil service
circumlocution, Mr. D. C. McLachlan quotes from Baron Stockmar's "Memoirs"
the following with regard to the procedure in the English Royal
Household: "If a pane of glass on the door of a cupboard in the
kitchen needs mending the process is -- (1) A requisition must be
prepared and signed by the chief cook; (2) this must be
countersigned by the clerk of the kitchen; (3) it is then taken to
the Master of the Household; (4) it must next be authorized by the
Lord Chamberlain's Office; (5) being thus authorized, it is laid
before the clerk of the works under the office of woods and forests.
So that it would take months before the pane of glass in the
cupboard door could be mended." Mr. McLachlan says further that
it cannot be denied that the above is, mutatis mutandis, an
unexaggerated description of what has been perpetrated in many of
the public offices of these States.
Let me give you one more example.
We have learned lately that the contract post-offices in Australia
no longer keep duty stamps for sale, and thus, the country
population being unable to obtain them easily, serious inconvenience
is caused. This state of affairs has arisen since the Postal
department has been transferred to the Commonwealth. As the
Victorian Government has no longer any guaranteed contract with the
people who keep these post-offices, it insists upon being paid in
advance for all stamps. The contractors say that the commission is
too small to enable them to lay out their capital, and thus there is
Now, if a private person had experienced this difficulty, he would
have ended it in an hour. He would have notified the contractors at
once -- "All right. Get two decent citizens to guarantee us
against loss to the extent of, say 10 pounds, and we will give you
that amount of stamps on credit." But that was too simple a
solution for a government. So we have had a prolonged correspondence
between the Victorian and the Commonwealth Governments; have had
this mighty question debated for years; and, meanwhile, the country
people have suffered every kind of inconvenience, and the end is not
Now, if this red-tape, this roundabout working, this waste exists,
as it does exist, in every governmental service, surely it must
receive an incalculable increase under Socialism. For not only would
the stimulating example of private industry be lost, but, compared
with the huge extent of the undertakings conducted by officialdom
under Socialism, those so conducted at present are infinitesimal.
The wheels within wheels, therefore, would be added to to an
incalculable extent, and would gradually crush all efficiency out of
the managing organization.
Round Pegs in Square Holes.
Moreover, both the regulated masses and the regulating bureaucracy
will be exposed to yet another cause creating loss of efficiency.
Labor is most efficiently performed when its character is in accord
with the innate tendencies of the laborer. A youth may make an
excellent teacher when he would be but a wretched cook; another's
services might be far more valuable as a farmer than as an engraver;
still another would make an excellent engineer when he would be but
a sorry physician. Unfortunately, even to-day, the number of round
pegs in square holes is very great. But many, perhaps the greatest
number, either from the start or ultimately, find the holes for
which they are best fitted.
Under Socialism, however, this would only occur here and there
through accident or favoritism. Choice of occupation by aspirants
being impossible, it is equally impossible for the regulative
bureaucracy to discover the special aptitudes of the numerous
aspirants for employment. Their various tasks must be allotted to
them by rote, and they may be transferred from occupation to
occupation, not as they desire, but as the necessities of the State
or the caprice of officials may dictate.
With possibly a few exceptions, therefore, all special aptitudes
will be neglected, and those capable of doing exceptionally good
work in one direction will be compelled to work at tasks in which
they are less efficient.
Subserviency, Flattery and Toadyism.
Seriously as this cause must reduce the efficiency of the
regulated masses, still more must it affect that of the regulators.
For how will these be selected? By election from below, by the
people? Will anyone contend that managerial efficiency, and not
other qualities, would determine the popularity of a candidate? Or
is it by appointment from above by superior officials? Again I ask,
would not subserviency, flattery, and toadyism be a surer way to
preferment than managerial ability and merit?
Ultimately, however, as I shall prove later, the bureaucracy would
become an hereditary class whose ranks would be closed to all
outsiders. But whether this would be the case or not, this much is
clear, that organizing and managing aptitude would be rarely the
special faculty of the members of the Socialist bureaucracy.
Curtailment of National Capital.
I have to point to another cause tending in the same direction.
The efficiency of the national labor is largely determined by that
of the available instruments of production and their amount. All
these instruments made by labor must, from time to time, be replaced
by labor. Every year large numbers of workers must be set to produce
materials which, after a lapse of years, may appear as tools or
machines, which again, after a lapse of years, deliver goods which
satisfy men's wants.
This production of capital, ever increasing, and providing for
wants of an even later date, is a function which existing society
performs unconsciously through pressure of competition. Under
Socialism it would have to be performed consciously.
The regulative authority would have to determine each year how
much of the national labor shah be exerted in directions which after
a lapse of years, may replace and extend the national industrial
capital. The labor so employed is withdrawn from the production of
goods which can be distributed in the near future, and directed
towards the production of goods which can only be distributed in the
distant future -- that is, the reward of all laborers next year is
largely reduced in order that its level may be maintained in some
distant future year. No man, or body of men, can have the prescience
and knowledge required to perform this stupendous task efficiently.
But suppose they do possess this prescience, will they act up to
it? The probability is all the other way. The majority of any people
are shortsighted and improvident, unwilling to buy future ease with
present abstinence. Still more is this the case when they themselves
cannot obtain the fruits of abstinence. Those who are improvident --
the majority -- will desire the greatest possible dividend from the
national labor, in order to enjoy it. Those who are abstinent will
still desire the same, because, under Socialism, private property in
consumption goods will continue. These, therefore, can be saved
individually, while nothing else can be so saved.
A proper replacement and extension of the national capital will,
therefore, be universally unpopular, and this must lead to its
insufficient replacement and extension.
This tendency will be increased through the inefficiency of labor,
already pointed out, for the officials can for a time conceal the
reduction in the amount of the national product by abstaining from
the proper replacement or extension of the national capital. They
would thus maintain their credit, while the loss might not be felt
These two causes must combine to produce a tendency, not only to
abstain from adding to the national capital, but actually to curtail
the national capital, which course must ultimately lead to such
curtailment of the product of the national labor as is scarcely
A Host or Evils.
Many powerful causes must thus co-operate to reduce the
efficiency of labor, and to decrease the products of labor under
They are: Owing to the withdrawal of any reward for inventions and
discoveries, and through want of time and means to engage in costly
researches and experiments, these, the greatest factors in
industrial progress, will diminish. Of those, that will still be
made, few, if any, will be adopted. If any are adopted, no certainty
exists that they are not failures, or that such failures will be
While these causes will produce a discontinuance of the
progressive increase in productive capacity which distinguishes
modern industry, other causes will actually and enormously diminish
productive capacity. They are:
The divorce between labor and its proportional reward; the
substitution of fear for expectation of reward; the neglect of
special aptitudes; the absence of managerial ability among
officials; the red-tape and boundless waste of effort inherent in
all governmental departments, greatest where they are most numerous;
and the insufficient replacement of industrial capital.
Of these causes, all co-operating to reduce the efficiency of the
national labor and to diminish the output of the national
industries, only a few affect the efficiency of State-conducted
industries at the present time. The red-tape and waste of effort
arising from graduated organizations exist; to some extent, also,
the stimulus to effort is wanting which exists in private
industries. But all the other evils are absent, and, nevertheless,
the inefficiency of industry under the direction of Government
officials has become a by-word and a reproach. Allow me here to give
a few illustrations.
Government Muddling of the Present.
Let us begin with New South Wales. At a place named
Collarendebrey, the Government put down a bore, and got an ample
supply of artesian water. The surrounding settlers then let a
contract for cutting drains to make the water available, the price
being 16 pounds per mile. However, the sapient Government
interfered, took the matter out of the settlers' hands, and caused
the drains to be cut by day labor, under the direction of officials
of the Public Works department. The cost of cutting a mile of drain
on this system came to 96 pounds, though the wages of the day
laborers were no higher than the earnings of the contractor's men,
who worked at piece-work rates. That is, the stimulus of
proportionate reward being absent, and the supervising officials
having no direct interest in snaking the supervision efficient, the
productive capacity of the labor employed fell off to just one-sixth
of what it was before. The contractor's men produced exactly six
times the amount of wealth that the men employed under official
My next example is taken from Western Australia. The Coolgardie
Water Scheme had been carried out by day labor under official
direction. As its cost was found to be enormous, a Royal Commission
was appointed to investigate the cause. I shall quote a few
sentences only from the report of this Commission:
"The pipe trench and man-hole excavations have cost about 3s.
per cubic yard on this work, instead of 1s. 6d., for which it could
have been done under contract. How much of this excessive cost was
due to weak supervision, and how much to government stroke, this
Commission is unable to decide."
The concluding portion of section 4 (pipe laying and jointing),
"It seems probable that the ultimate cost of this branch of
the work will be about 100,000 pounds more than the estimate, which
appears to have been fair."
State Tobacco Monopoly in France.
The most instructive example of the inefficiency of
State-conducted industry, however, comes from France. I have lately
made a close study of the financial results of the State Tobacco
Monopoly in the several countries where it exists. I will lay before
you the results, taken from official reports, of the monopoly in
France, stating, however, that in the other countries the monopoly
of which I have been able to investigate, the results are even worse
in several respects.
In France, the taxation imposed on tobacco, in its price, is five
times the value of the tobacco. In Australia, the average taxation
is between two and three times the value of tobacco. The ordinary
quality of tobacco, that which is most largely consumed, is sold to
retailers in France at 4s. 6d. per lb; in Australia, Havelock and
Yankee Doodle, the most largely consumed brands, are sold to
retailers also at an average of 4s. 6d per lb. In France, the
cheapest tobacco is sold at 2s. 10d. per lb; in Australia at 2s. 6d
per lb., wholesale each.
As would, appear from these facts, and is notorious, this French
tobacco is of vile quality while the quality of this Australian
tobacco is excellent. Wages in the French State factories average 40
per cent lower than wages in Australian tobacco factories, and the
hours of labor are one-fourth longer in France.
Moreover, no private manufacturer or dealer makes any profit on
tobacco in France. Therefore, the profit of the French Monopoly
should be at least two or three times as large as the revenue
derived from tobacco duties by the Commonwealth. As a matter of
fact, they are almost equal, being, per pound of tobacco consumed,
3s. 1-3/4d. in France, and. 3s. 1/4d. in Australia.
These facts prove clearly that the inefficiency of State
management wastes all the advantages arising from higher taxation,
lower quality, lower wages, longer hours, and saving of private
profit. The production of wealth in Australian tobacco factories is,
therefore, between two and three times that of French tobacco
This enormous waste, moreover, takes place when the activity of
the officials is stimulated by the advantage and teaching of the
private tobacco industry of other countries and of other private
industries in France herself. Clearly, the waste would be far
greater if this stimulus were absent, and if, all the industries of
the State being nationalized, all workers had become inefficient.
Equality in Poverty.
How speedily any serious reduction in the production of wealth
would bring about general poverty can be easily demonstated. I find
in Coghlan, "Seven Colonies," that the whole Australian
production in the year 1902 -- that of our mines, farms, pastures,
factories, forests and fisheries -- came to 29,987,000 Pounds, which
gives an average of 24 Pounds 16s. 10d. for every inhabitant, men,
women and children.
In order to make these figures quite clear, it must be said that a
considerable amount of wealth produced is not included in these
figures, but all such wealth is of a nature which cannot be
distributed, is industrial capital. Such is the building,
improvement, and repairs of railways and roads, sewerage and
irrigation works, and others of like nature. On the other hand, the
figures cited also embrace a good deal of industrial capital, such
as machinery, tools, locomotives, and similar things. If, then, we
take the figures as they stand, we are rather overstating the wealth
that can be distributed.
Yet, even so, it amounts to only 24 Pounds 6s. 10d. per head, or,
a family of five persons, to 124 Pounds a year, or, say 47s. 6d. per
week. If, then, owing to the causes which I have described, the
productivity of the national labor were to decline seriously, it is
obvious that, though all shared equally, that though rent, interest,
and profit were abolished, the share coming to every citizen would
be materially less than that enjoyed now by the average artisan.
There would then be equality, but equality in poverty.
The Dreary Raiment of Socialism.
Finally, another tendency must be described. Modern industry not
only provides an infinite variety of kinds of goods, but also an
infinite variety in each kind, of qualities, designs, and colors,
and this variety is being constantly added to by invention and
discovery. Not only is an infinity of existing and individually
varying desires thus catered to, but new desires and wants are being
As examples of the latter fact, I need only point to the invention
of bicycles and motor cars. This possibility of satisfying the
numerous desires of men, varying not only between individuals, but
also varying from time to time as to the same individual, lends to
life the color and variety which are among the chief causes of human
This color and variety must disappear under Socialism. The upward
tendency of man towards the conception and satisfaction of an ever
greater number of wants will be converted into the downward tendency
of an ever decreasing satisfaction of wants, and for these reasons:
I have shown that, under Socialism, all production must be
regulated by a central agency. This agency, one man or a board, must
determine the different kinds and qualities of goods to be produced
and the quantities of each, for many years in advance. To do this
with even an approximate degree of efficiency surpasses the wit of
the ablest men who ever lived, as long as the existing variety of
goods, qualities, designs and colors are maintained. Still less is
it possible when these are constantly added to.
But there is absolutely no guarantee that the directing agency
will be composed of even exceptionally able men. On the contrary,
every consideration leads to the conclusion that they will be
selected for other reasons than great organizing ability.
The whole industrial system, therefore, would fall into
inextricable confusion unless it were materially simplified. This
simplification can only take place through an enormous reduction in
the variety of goods to be produced. The variety of kinds, as well
as the variety in qualities, forms, designs, and colors, in each
kind must be largely sacrificed.
This tendency must be largely added to by the decline in the
efficiency of national labor. As labor becomes less productive, the
production of goods required for comfort or ornamentation must be
curtailed, in order that a sufficiency of bald necessaries may be
obtained. With every further loss of efficiency, this process must
be extended, till the national dividend, receivable by every
citizen, will consist of a far smaller quantity and variety of goads
and services than is now at the disposal of average artisans.
Monotony and Poverty.
Monotonous uniformity, in addition to general poverty, is thus
the inevitable result of Socialism, even if its bureaucracy remained
honest and clean-handed.
The average man and woman would not only find that desires, now
easily satisfied, must go without satisfaction, but that even those
desires, which would still find some satisfaction, would find it
Equality of income would be realized, at least among the regulated
masses of the people. But it would not be done by raising the means
of enjoyment of all to a. level above that enjoyed today by the
great majority of the people. On the contrary, the means of all
would be reduced to the level of that portion of the people whose
condition now appeals most strongly for relief.
Monotonous equality in unavoidable poverty would be the condition
of the whole people in the Socialized State.
THE POLITICAL AND ETHICAL OUTCOME OF SOCIALISM
The Vast Power of Socialist Officials.
I have tried to picture the economic and industrial consequences
that must result from the adoption of the fundamental proposals of
Socialism, those proposals on which all Socialists are agreed. I
showed that it must lead to industrial retrogression, that it must
lead to an enormous reduction in the productivity of labor, and,
therefore, to universal poverty. Now I shall endeavor to picture the
political consequences which the adoption of these same proposals
must bring about.
We found that the absolutely indispensible condition for the State
carrying on and managing the industries of the country, is the
creation of a managing officialdom -- a numerous, strongly
organized, carefully graduated and strongly disciplined body of
officials, culminating in one central all-directing agency.
We further found that in order that this central agency may
regulate industry and determine in what kinds and what qualities and
what quantities goods shall be produced, it must also have the power
to control every man and every woman in the country with regard to
the occupation which they are to follow, with regard to the place
where they are to reside, with regard to the intensity with which
they are to work; and we further found that the same officials must
also manage every printing establishment, and, therefore, must have
the monopoly of the production of all books, all newspapers, all
magazines, and other literature.
Therefore Socialism, in order that it shall manage the whole of
the industries of the country, must give to its officialdom a power
which has never yet been possessed by any governing agency in this
world; an unprecedented power of daily and hourly interference with
every detail of the life of the whole population. Not the Czar of
Russia, not the Sultan of Turkey, not Imperial Caesar in the hey-day
of his might, ever had such a power over the subject peoples as will
thus be given to the officials of the Socialized State.
If that power were carried out with absolute honesty, if the
Socialist officials were actuated by nothing else but the greatest
care for the public interest, and never looked after their own
interests; if there were never any organized attempt to exceed the
powers which have been given to them -- those powers nevertheless
which Socialism must give, would constitute the utmost despotism on
the part of the officials and corresponding slavery on the part of
the whole community.
But is it to be expected that such a power as this will be carried
out honestly? That is the next question which I ask you to consider.
I. ask you to consider what will the officials of Socialism do with
the tremendous power which the people will have handed over to them.
Like all groups of men, those constituting governmental agencies
-- the officials of the State -- desire to extend the functions, the
power, and the privileges of the Agency to which they belong. While
that is true of all classes of men, it is specially true, and to a
very much larger extent, of government officials, because carrying
out duties and performing functions which differ widely from the
functions performed by the rest of the people, there inevitably
arises among them a spirit of caste. Therefore, while all groups of
men place their own special interests above and before the general
interest, that is especially true of the officials of the State.
At the same time their close organization, their graduated
regulation, the fact that they are commanded from one center,
enables them to pursue their interests with persistency, and to
overcome easily the sporadic resistance of the rest of the people,
divided as they are by many apparently conflicting interests. The
whole course of history, therefore, shows that governmental bodies
constantly aim at extending their power, escaping control, and
transforming derivative authority into absolute authority.
You can see it in the rise of petty elective chiefs of Teutonic
tribes to absolute and hereditary kingship; you can see it in the
rise of humble deacons and presbyters into princes of the church,
and popes; you can see it to-day in the absolute power which has
been acquired by the party machinery in the United States.
For while the people of the United States still enjoy all the
forms of control over their several governments, while popular
election is still the only road to all political and many
administrative offices, nevertheless it is a notorious fact that the
people have lost all control. It has been transferred to the party
machinery -- the officers of the party, its bureaucracy, created for
the purpose of making popular control effective. The party's
officials, directed by some "boss," nominate the whole of
the candidates for office, and to the people there is but left the
inefficient, the inglorious, and frequently distasteful task of
ratifying the nomination of either the one or the other of the two
The machinery that has been created to attain one object has
attained another and a contrary object. The servants of the people
have become the masters of the people.
Co-operative Societies and Trades Unions.
Now this same tendency for officials to escape control and to
wield a power that cannot be resisted by the people may also be
studied in other than official directions. It has manifested itself
already in the co-operative societies of Great Britain, culminating
in the wholesale societies of England and Scotland.
Let me place before you what a careful observer, the late Henry
Demarest Lloyd, had to say on that subject in his very interesting
book called "Labour Co-partnership." First let me state
that Mr. Lloyd cannot be objected to by Socialists, for he was an
ardent Socialist himself. Nevertheless, speaking of the organization
of these wholesale societies, be says:
"The co-operative stores of each district hold meetings
periodically to decide questions of business and policy. In those
district meetings the wholesale directors are represented by two of
their own number, and with their wider experience and central
prestige they find it an easy matter usually to control the local
"Nominally, the wholesale is under the control of the
delegates chosen by the people who hold shares in it, and for whose
convenience it was constituted; but practically, popular control is
gradually becoming a mere name. The central government has become so
large that its own public cannot deal with it."
Now let me bring you another proof. Let me bring before you the
difficulties which the trades unions experience to control and limit
the growing power of their officials. The evidence is taken from "Industrial
Democracy," by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Webb, surely witnesses that
cannot be objected to by Socialists. Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Webb have
made the greatest and most interesting study of the history of
trades unionism. They are unwilling witnesses to what they here
state, for they are leading Socialists themselves. Excuse the length
of the quotation; it is so important that I cannot curtail it.
Dealing with the evolution of trade union organization, they say:
"It was assumed that everything should be submitted to the
voices' of the whole body. ...As the union developed from an angrv
crowd ... into an insurance company of national extent ... the need
for administrative authority more and more forced itself on the
minds of the members. ...The growing mass of business and the
difficulty and complication of the questions dealt with involved the
growth of an official class marked off by capacity, training, and
habits of life, from the rank and file.
"Failure to specialize executive functions quickly brought
extinction. On the other hand, this very specialization undermined
the popular control. ...The yearly expedients of rotation of office,
the mass meeting, and the referendum proved in practice utterly
inadequate as a means of recovering genuine popular control. At each
particular crisis the individual member found himself overmatched by
the official machinery which he had created.
"At this stage irresponsible bureaucracy seemed the
inevitable outcome. The democracy found yet another expedient, which
in some favorite unions has gone far to solve the problem. The
specialization of the executive in a permanent expert civil service,
was balanced by the specialization of the legislature, by the
establishment of a supreme responsible assembly, undertaking the
work of direction and control. ...
"We have seen how difficult it is for a community of manual
workers to obtain such an assembly, and how large a part is
inevitably played in it by the ever-growing number of salaried
officers. ...How far such a development will tend to increase
bureaucracy; how far, on the other hand it will increase the real
authority of the people over the representative assembly; and of the
representative assembly over the permanent civil service. ...All
these questions which make the future interesting."
3 * Return
to Part 1