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Monopolies of local service, again, are still higher in the industrial scale, so far as they represent the organization of production by the consumers (that is, on the basis of rational and persistent wants), and are under direct public control. And the policy of “practical, Collectivism” lies in exacting from such monopolies the full measure of their capacity, and making them object-lessons in co-operative industry.
Monopoly as a Result of Selection. It is, after all, only by selection that the collective organization of industry can itself prevail, and this is an argument, if any were needed, against any catastrophic closure of the present system. Hence the significance of the demand that government and public, bodies should proceed upon a more scientific method than private competitive enterprise " can well afford "-in the direction of better organization of employment, standard wages for standard work, shorter hours, and other model conditions of industry. In Glasgow, at the present moment, there is actually a competition between municipal tramways and private means of transit; and the whole (if short) history of the municipalization of tramways is full of interest. and instruction. Municipal management is a higher type of industry, and represents a competition of quality. It might be objected that this argument points to a mixed system of public and private industry, and does not meet the difficulty that a monopoly once established is liable to deterioration. It does point to the means by which public will supersede private administration of certain industries : that is, by competition and proved superiority of type. But it also assumes that the inferior type must give way. Still
, the standard remains ; it has been to a certain extent set, and to a greater extent recognized and approved, by the community. It could only fall back with a falling back in the community itself, that is, in its standard of satisfaction, material and moral. The higher type at once makes and depends upon its “environment.” It may, indeed, have become an object of local pride and civic self-consciousness; a competition may be set up between one municipality and another, and that again would be a competition of quality. Readers of “Unto This Last” will remember a suggestion of the same kind, not the least fruitful idea of the economist who has best understood the real significance of the pre-established harmony between ethics and economics. In the same way it may be said that the real evil of the "drink traffic" is that it is a private, instead of a public, enterprise.
Collectivism will, in fact, proceed by selective experiments of the kind I have indicated, granting the moral and intellectual conditions required by a higher type of administration ; and where it does not take the form of social ownership, the principle may be just a effective in the form of social control-control, that is, in the direction of a higher type of industrial character. Mining, railway, and factory legislation is, from this point of view, simply the application "standard” ideas to competitive industry.
Socialism and its Critics. If, then, this general account of the drift of Collectivism and of its real inwardness be at all true, what becomes of the polemic against Collectivist ideals that underlies the criticism of eminent social philosophers, and of the false antithesis that is so often set up between "moral" and "economic ” Socialism. All the tendencies they attack, Collectivists attack; but while "moral" Socialists are content with ascribing them generally to (abstract) moral and intellectual causes, Collectivists, rightly or wrongly, find that they are moral and intellectual causes which are logically connected with the whole principle and practice of individualistic or private competitive industry, and refuse to believe that some undefined miracle of moral agency is better than any intelligible causation. I propose to deal in detail with this kind of objection to Collectivism, mainly with a view to exhibiting in a clearer light the logical idea and consequences of that position. For I will readily admit that this task is necessary, in view of the language that has been, and to a certain extent still is, used by responsible Socialists. I admit that there is some excuse for the perversion, or rather the construction, of count lectivist philosophy on which the "moral" case against Socialism is supposed to rest. For in some cases the teaching is ambiguous, in others it is evasive, and in certain cases it is demonstrably illogical. The philosophy of Collectivism is still in the making, and reasonable Collectivists themselves are perfectly aware of the extent to which their social doctrine has still to be thought out. But if we can once disengage the root idea, we can, at any rate, say what are logical consequences and what are not; and I hope to show that neither "free meals," nor “relief works," nor "pensions without services," nor “the abolition of private property are logical deductions from the Collectivist principle; they are, in fact, the denial of it, and could not be part of a strictly Socialist economy.
The Idea of Collectivism. What, then, is the idea of Modern Socialism, or Collectivism? I take it, Socialism implies, first and foremost, the improvement of pciety by society. We may be told that this is going on every day; yes, but not with any clear consciousness of what it is about, or of an ideal. Moreover, empirical social reform does not go beyond improvements within the existing system, or consider the effects of that system as a whole. As a rule, it means the modification of the system by an idea which does not belong to it, with the result that it is either ineffective or that it hampers the working of the system itself. When a prominent statesman can say that “We are all socialists now," he has reduced the idea of socializing individualistic commerce to its logical absurdity; it only means that we are endeavoring to rearrange the handicap between laborer, capitalist, employer, and landlord, according as either becomes the predominating partner in legislation. It is impossible to get out of the confused aims of social reformers anything like a point of view, or an idea of social progress ; it is a question of evils rather than ideals. Collectivism, as I have said, implies the consciousness by society of a social ideal, of a better form of itself, and its distinction lies in its clearer consciousness of the end to be attained and its conception of the means of attaining it. The means, as we know, are the collective control or collective administration of certain industries* by the community as a whole--" by the people for the people." (The ordinary formula of the “nationalization of the means of production" is unnecessarily prophetic, and is rather a hindrance than a help to the understanding of the ideal ; by itself, it does not give the point of Socialism, and belongs to the picture-book method of social philosophy, which presents us rather with a ready-made system than a principle of action to be progressively applied.) But, clearly, «
control,” organization,” “administration," are merely forms, the body without the soul ; we want to know-organization in what direction, control to what end? And the answer in quite general and formal terms is (as already suggested) a certain kind of existence and a certain standard of life to be maintained in and through the industrial organization of social needs. Mere nationalization, or mere municipalization, of any industry is not Socialism or Collectivism ; it may be only the substitution of corporate for private administration, the social idea and purpose with which Collectivism is concerned may be completely absent. The presence of the idea is recognized by the extent to which the public machinery is made the conscious and visible embodiment of an ideal type of industry, taking form in certain standard conditions of production as also certain standard requirements of consumption. It is agreed that there are certain things which society is so concerned in getting done in a certain way and after a certain type, that it cannot leave them to private enterprise. We may recall Aristotle's arguments in favor of public as against private education ; the important consideration being that education involves principles affecting the kind of social type and character which a particular society is interested in maintaining. The modern industrial state is beginning to realize that it is as deeply concerned in the conditions of industry that determine for better or worse the type and character of its citizens and the standard of its social life. This recognition implies the action of the general or collective will and purpose (which is, of course, also the will and purpose of individuals), represented by the social regulation of industry in the interest of a standard of industrial character and production—a standard of life—which society as society is concerned to maintain. The Collectivist calls upon society to face the logical requirements of the situation ; rightly or wrongly, he conceives that
I am not now concerned with any further specification of these expressions, as this belongs to a more strictly economic inquiry. Mr. Hobson's " Evolution of Modern Capitalism" deals with some of the aspects. Cf. also Fabian Tracts generally. * The community" means parish, district, municipality, or nation, as democratically organized. I assume throughout that modern Socialism means emphatically industrial democracy, that is, the realization in the industrial sphere of the principle already realized in the sphere of politics and religion.
a requirement of this kind is incompatible with the existence and the raison d'étre of "private competitive enterprise." He is trying to familiarize the community with the incompatibility by "example and practice," and at the same time to show that it is not with business, but with modern competitive business that the requirement is incompatible. What is good in ethics cannot be bad in economics, and vice verså, is an axiom of Socialism. A standard wage, for instance, is from the point of view of modern commerce a noncompetitive wage, for it is not regulated by the supply and demand of the market ; but from the point of view of good business and also good ethics, it is competitive ; men are selected for their efficiency, and not for their cheapness. The attempt to enforce this method of remuneration upon government and public bodies, as also to abolish the contractor,* is described and resented by the ratepayer as “Collectivist ;" he is right in his description, not in his resentment. The School Board, again, adapts its scale of salaries not to the supply of the market, but to the service required. It is only an individualist who can talk of "high" wages and "high" salaries in this connection ; a high wage is simply a wage that is adequate to a certain kind of work done at its best ; the wage is high according as the conception of the conditions required for the highest performance of the work is high. The Socialism of the School Board is, in the last resort, nothing else than a high standard of education, and therefore of the educator and his conditions of life. It is well to put it in this way, because it is often supposed that Collectivism or Socialism is simply a policy of securing better conditions of life for the worker, which gives the impression that it is a class and not a social point of view. The starting-point of social economics is, after all, consumption, and again its qualitative, not merely its quantitive development, rather than the conditions of work and worker as such ; they are, of course, really aspects of the same thing, as readers of Ruskin are in no danger of forgetting Accordingly, we find that the economic problem is not approached by the modern Socialist primarily from the side of " distribution," except so far as it affects the character of production" or consumption." Anyhow, the great thing is that the point of view is qualitative ; or, the regulative idea of Socialism is the maintenance of a certain standard of life, whether it is looked at from the point of Iview of the condition of the producer or his product. The whole point of factory legislation, again, lies in its attempt to exercise such social control over the conditions of industry as will prevent them from lowering the standard of life which society as society is interested in maintaining; it is becoming less sentimental, and more scientific in its scope ; and, again, it is now called “ Collectivist.”
Socialism and Humanism. From the standpoint of such an interpretation of the "idea" and the “phenomena" of Collectivism (which is, after all, sufficiently
* Cf. Mr. Sidney Webb's admirable vindication of the." Economic Heresies" of the London County Council. - Contemporary Review.
justified by the language of its opponents), the suggestion that it is
* Socialism without pity is empty, but a Socialism of mere pity is blind; and as I am concerned with the idea and method rather than the sentiment or psychological stimulus of Socialism, what may appear as an ultra-scientific view should not be misunderstood.
+ On the “Socializing of Consumption" cf. Smart's “Studies in Economics"; also the writings of Mr. P. Geddes and Mr. Hobson, among others. There is certainly a sense in which “ Consumption " is the beginning and end of Economics.