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inroads have already been made in it; and these constitute tho Progress of Socialism.
Three hundred years ago, for fear of the horde of sturdy beggars," which even hanging had failed to extirpate, the wise Cecil was led to institute the general system of poor relief, a deduction from rent and interest for the benefit of those who were excluded from directly sharing in them. But the industrial evolution had not yet made this condition universal; and little further progress was made in Socialism until the beginning of our century. Then, indeed, the acme of individualism was reached. No sentimental regulations hindered the free employment of land and capital to the highest possible personal advantage, however many lives of men, women, and children were used up in the process. Capitalists still speak of that bright time with exultation. “It was not five per cent. or ten per cent.," says one,“ but thousands per cent. that made the fortune of Lancashire." But opinion turned against Laisser faire fifty years ago. Mainly by the heroic efforts of a young nobleman, who lately passed away from us as Lord Shaftesbury, a really effective Factory Act was won; and the insatiate greed of the manufacturers was restrained by political power, in the teeth of their most determined opposition. Since then the progress has been rapid. Slice after slice has, in the public interest, been cut off the profits of land and capital, and therefore off their value, by Mines Regulation Acts, Truck Acts, Factory Acts, Adulteration Acts, Land Acts. Slice after slice has been cut off the already diminished incomes of the classes enjoying rent and interest, by the gradual shifting of taxation from the whole nation às consumers of taxed commodities to the holders of incomes above £150, the average family income of the Kingdom. Step by step political power and political organisation have been used for industrial ends, until a Minister of the Crown is the largest employer of labour in the country, and at least 200,000 men, not counting the army and navy, are directly in the service of the community, without the intervention of the profit of any middleman. All the public needs supplied by the labour of these public servants were at one time left to private enterprise, and were a source of legitimate individual investment of capital. Step by step the community has absorbed thein, wholly or partially; and the area of private exploitation has been lessened. Parallel with this progressive nationalisation or municipalisation of industry, a steady elimination of the purely personal element in business management has gone on. The older economists doubted whether anything but banking could be carried on by joint-stock enterprise : now every conceivable industry, down to baking and milk-selling, is successfully managed by the salaried officers of large corporations of idle shareholders. More than one-third of the whole business of England, measured by the capital employed,* is now done by jointstock companies, whose shareholders could be expropriated by the community with little more dislocation of industry than is caused by the daily purchase of shares on the Stock Exchange.
Besides its direct supersession of private enterprise, the State • See Mr. Giffen's statement of capital, in “Capital and Land” (Fabiat Tract, No. 7).
now registers, inspects, and controls nearly all the industrial functions which it has not yet absorbed. The inspection is often detailed and rigidly enforced. The State in most of the larger in. dustrial operations prescribes the age of the worker, the hours of work, the amount of air, light, cubic space, heat, lavatory accommodation, holidays, and meal-times; where, when, and how wages shall be paid ; how machinery, staircases, lift-holes, mines, and quarries are to be fenced and guarded; how and when the plant shall be cleaned, repaired, and worked. Even the kind of package in which some articles shall be sold is duly prescribed, so that the individual capitalist shall take no advantage of his position. On every side he is being registered, inspected, controlled; eventually he will be superseded by the community, and he is compelled in the meantime to cede for public purposes an ever-increasing share of his rent and interest.*
This is the rapid progress of “Collectivism ” which is so notice. able in our generation. England is already the most Socialist of all European communities, though the young Emperor of Germany is now compelled by the uneasy ground swell of German politics to emulate us very closely. English Collectivism will, however, inevitably be Democratic—a real “ Social Democracy" instead of the mere Political Democracy with which Liberals coquet. As the oldest industrial country, we are likely to keep the lead, in spite of those old-fashioned politicians who innocently continue to regard Socialism as a dangerous and absolutely untried innovation. Are there not still, in obscure nooks, disbelievers and despisers of all science? The schoolmaster never penetrates into all the corners in the same generation. ·
But some will be inclined to say, “This is not what we thought “ Socialism meant? We imagined that Socialists wanted to bring " about a sanguinary conflict in the streets, and then the next day “ to compel all delicately nurtured people to work in the factories “ at a fixed rate of wages."
It is not only in the nursery that bogey-making continues to be a very general though quite unnecessary source of anxiety. Socialists do but foretell the probable direction of English social evolution; and it needs nothing but a general recognition of that development, and a clear determination not to allow the selfish interests of any class to hinder or hamper it, for Socialism to secure universal assent. All other changes will easily flow from this acquiescent state of mind, and they need not be foreshadowed in words.
“ But will not Socialism abolish private property?" It will certainly seriously change ideas concerning that which the community will lend its force to protect in the personal enjoyment of any individual.
It is already clear that no really democratic government, whether consciously Socialist or not, will lend its soldiers or its police to enforce the “rights” of such an owner as Lord Clanricarde. Even Matthew Arnold declared the position of the mere landlord to be an “anachronism. “Landlordism" in Ireland is admittedly doomed, and opinion in England is rapidly ripening in favour of collective control over the soil. The gradual limitation of the sphere of privateproperty which has been steadily taking place will doubtless continue; and just as courts of justice, private mints, slaves, public offices, pocket boroughs, votes, army commissions, post offices, telegraph lines, and now even continental telegraph cables landing on English shores, have ceased to be permissible personal possessions, so will the few remaining private gasworks, waterworks, docks, tramways, and schools be quickly absorbed, and an end be also made to private railways and town ground-rents. Ultimately, and as soon as may be possible, we look to see this absorption cover all land, and at least all the larger forms of industrial capital. In these, as Herbert Spencer pointed out forty years ago as regards land, private ownership will eventually no more be possible than it is now in a post office or a court of justice, both of which were once valuable sources of individual profit. Beyond the vista of this extension of collectivism, it is at present unnecessary to look ; but we may at any rate be sure that social evolution will no more stop there than at any previous stage.
* More detailed particulars of this largely unconscious adoption of Collectivism will be found in the “Fabian Essays in Socialism” (Scott), and in “Socialism in England” (Sonnenschein).
This is the Progress of Socialism. To an ever growing number of students of history and science, its speedy acceleration appears at once our evident destiny and our only hope. Political Economy, at least, whatever the economist may think of Socialism, now recognises no other alternative. So long as land and industrial capital remain in unrestrained private ownership, so long must “the subjection of “labour to capital, and the enormous share which the possessors of the “instruments of industry are able to take from the produce" inevitably continue, and even increase. The aggregate product may continue to grow ; but“ the remuneration of labour as such, skilled or unskilled, can never rise much above its present level.”
The only effectual means of raising the material condition of the great mass of the people, is for them to resume, through their own public organisations, that control over their own industry which industrial evolution has taken from them, and to enter collectively into the enjoyment of the fertile lands and rich mines from which they are now so relentlessly excluded. This is the teaching of economic science; and, however little individual economists may relish the application, the workers are rapidly coming to appreciate it.
In this direction, too, is the mighty sweep and tendency of social evolution. Without our knowledge, even against our will, we in England have already been carried far by the irresistible wave. What Canute will dare to set a limit to its advance ? One option we have, and one only. It is ours, if we will, to recognise a rising force, to give it reasonable expression, nay, within limits, even to direct its course. This is why we are Socialists, and why you must become so. For if the conscious intelligence of the natural leaders of the community lag behind the coming thought; if it ignore the vast social forces now rapidly organising for common action; if it leave poverty and repression and injustice to go on breeding their inevitable births of angry brutality and fierce revenge : then, indeed, social evolution may necessarily be once more accomplished by social cataclysm. From this catastrophe, our gradual adoption of Social Democracy is the path of escape.
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I.-REFORMS IN ADMINISTRA.
TION. Will you press at the first opportunity on the Board for the following :
1. Evening meetings of the Board ?
2. Strict classification of the recipients of relief?
3. The allowance to the aged poor of adequate relief in their own homes wherever their character and circumstances permit ?
4. The housing of the different classes of indoor poor in separate buildings ?
5. The establishment of cottage homes or almshouses for the aged ?
6. The provision of a separate apartment, when desired, for married people both over sixty?
7. The abolition of a uniform dress ?
8. The provision for the aged poor in the workhouse of (a) books and newspapers, (6) tobacco or snuff ?
9. Permission to the aged poor to interest themselves in some occupation, and to go out on every fine day?
10. Genuine surprise visits of inspection of the workhouse?