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cure can only be found in the popular control of industry. Or, are we to say that "the morality of the working classes " depends, not upon "circumstances," but upon some mysterious gift of grace or redemption? The intimate connection between “circumstances and drinking, the degrading effect of material uncertainty (which the doctrinaire moralist seems to regard as an unmixed moral benefit for the working classes), are, at any rate, as normal phenomena as the powerlessness of a "degenerate" to cope with such conditions at all. A good deal more investigation is surely needed of the conditions under which “character and ideas” operate before we can so easily assume their spontaneous generation and their indefinite possibilities. Universalize the principle, and it is doubtless good for all persons that they should not be above the possibility of falling into distress by lack of wisdom and exertion; competition is in this sense a sovereign condition of life, and the Socialist regrets that more room is not made for its beneficent operation in the “moral development" of our "splendid paupers." There seems to be just a tendency on the part of the Charity Organization Society to treat the working-classes as if they had peculiar opportunities for independent life, just because their circumstances are so difficult ; the eye of the moral disciplinarian should surely also be turned upon the many people who are as much pensioners of society as if they were maintained in an alms-house. The poor man's poverty (it would seem) is his moral opportunity. But this kind of beatitude for the poor would have more point if it were always their own lack of wisdom and exertion which occasions their “falling into distress." It must be admitted that the existence of an unemployed rich is as great a source of danger and deterioration to society as that of an unemployed poor, and to a great extent the one is an aggravating cause of the other. Much of the casual employment of the employed classes directly ministers to the unproductive and exclusive consumption of the rich; and one great difficulty in the way of the organization of production on the basis of rational and persistent wants, and the provision of a true industrial basis to the life of the worker, lies in the irregular, capricious, and characterless expenditure of superfluous incomes. The Insufficiency of the Charity Organization Society.
All that our "Poor Law Reformers ” have to say about the policy of "relief works," "shelters,” and relaxation of the Poor Law is. undeniable ; but the corollary that in “refraining from action " we are helping on a better time seems hardly adequate, however graphic. ally it can be illustrated from the history of unwise philanthropy. So long as the Charity Organization Society contents itself with the demonstration that devices of this kind only drive the evil further in, it is really helpful ; but in refusing to look for any source of the evils except foolish benevolence on the
one side and reckless improvidence on the other, it seems to be unduly simplifying the conditions of the problem. It is, at any rate, scarcely justified in deprecating the inquiry as to whether the absence of any rational organization of industry may not be a part of the situation. Thinkers of this school are so much concerned for the moral independence of the worker that his actual economic, dependence hardly enters into their consideration. The circumstances beyond the control of great masses of workers engaged in machine industries are much larger than those that their own action goes to make up, and here again Collectivism endeavors to bring these circumstances much more within their control. Lack of employment means, we are told, lack of character ; but where, after all, does character come from? The contention of Socialists is that the absence of any permanent organization of industry, by setting a premium upon partial and discontinuous employment, is itself a contributory cause of shiftless character ; and where the character is hopeless, the best way of dealing with it is such an organization as would really sift out and eliminate the industrial residuum. All permanent organization means the withdrawal of partial and inadequate employment from a certain class. *
Surely in this case system and character act and react : discourage intermittent employment, and you save the "marginal" cases from social wreckage ; while it becomes possible to deal with the industrial residuum in some restorative or restrictive way. But is not this the point of Collectivism ? The Fabian Society has repudiated the false economics of "relief works" with quite as much energy as the Charity Organization Society. But the real objection to relief works, as also to "Old Age Pensions," is that they have no logical connection with the system they are designed to palliate. "Continuity of employment" and "superannuation pensions part of a Socialist state ; but the idea of “the State" as a relief society to the employees of private industry can only be satisfactory to the employer, whose irresponsibility it would effectually sanction. Under a system of individualistic industry, “State relief” and “State pensions " can only mean an allowance in aid of reckless speculation and low wages; and these devices only serve to distract reform from the true line of deliverance—the best possible organization of industry and the improvement of the conditions of labor. It is not the Socialist who contemplates the “ransom" of the capitalistic system by relief work and old age pensions.t I do not think that even the most impatient Socialist has ever suggested that out-door relief in any shape was Socialism ; while the scientific Socialist has never regarded so-called wholesale “Socialistic remedies" of this kind as other than the herring across the track. Socialism means the organization not of charity, nor of relief, but of industry, and in such a way that the problem of finding work which is not apparently wanted, and of devising pensions for no apparent service, would not be “normal."
* The net result of organization at the Docks was, we are told, in the direction of confining to about 6,000 people the work which had previously been partial employ. ment for between 12,000 and 20,000. Cf. also the unorganized" cab-tout," etc.
† On the other hand, Pensions—and even carefully guarded and exceptional reliel schemes-might be regarded as part of a transitional policy. The Socialist who advocates Old Age Pensions is at the same time advocating a different conception and consequent method of industry, and not simply trying to save the credit of discredited system,
Socialism and Natural Selection. The real danger of Collectivism, indeed, is not that it would take the form of the charity that fosters a degraded class, but that it would be as ruthless as Plato in the direction of “social surgery." It may take a hard and narrow view of the “industrial organism" and the conditions of its efficiency. For the progress of civilization gives a social value to other qualities, other kinds of efficiency, than merely industrial or economic capacity. “Invalidism” may be said to develop valuable states of mind, and to strengthen the conception of human sympathy and solidarity. It is possible to apply the conception of an industrial organism in two ways: the State is an organism, and therefore it should get rid of its weak; the State is an organism, and therefore it should carry its weak with it. Perhaps, it might be said that the modern problem is not so much to get the weak out of the way, as to help them to be useful. There is no reason in the process of natural selection, as such, why every member of society, provided he be not criminal, should not be preserved and helped to live as effectively as possible. But this would depend upon the possibility of such a readjustment of the economic system that would enable all members to maintain an efficient existence under it, and, conversely, upon the condition that each person should do the work for which he is best fitted. “ Weakness and "unfitness" are, after all, relative; and in any more systematic organization of society what is now a man's weakness might become his strength. One advantage of the organization of industry would be the increased possibility of "grading” work, as also of estimating desert. The problem is no other than that of finding a distribution of work which would allow the weak to render a service proportioned to their ability in the same ratio as the service is required of the strong. The present system makes too little use of the weak and too much of the strong ; instead of helping the growth of all after their kind, it fosters an overgrowth of an exclusive and imperfect kind. And, lastly, if it be said that any form of Socialism would be immoral if it denied the necessity for individual responsibility, it may also be urged that the compulsory elevation by municipal and State activity of the most degraded classes is a necessary preliminary to their further elevation by individual effort and voluntary association. But none of these considerations seem germane to private competitive enterprise, which can hardly afford to "treat life as a whole." From all these points of view, therefore, I venture to think that the question of morality is largely a question of machinery, and that the consideration of morality apart from machinery reduces ethics to the level of a merely “formal" science.
Socialism and Property. Socialism recognizes the value of property by demanding its wider distribution. The social situation is, upon its showing (rightly or wrongly), largely created by the divorce of the worker from property and the means of production, which means that the arrangement and disposition of his life is outside his control. Private Property may be said to have an ethical value and significance so far as it is at once a sign and expression of individual worth, and gives to individual life some sort of unity and continuity. It follows that wages and salaries, on which society is largely, and under Collectivism would be wholly based, fulfil the principle of private property so far as they are in some degree permanent and calculable; otherwise, there is a discontinuity in the life of the individual ; he cannot look before and after, cannot organize his life as a whole. Socialists not only accept the “idea" of individual property, but demand some opportunity for its realization.* One point of the public organization of industry is that it would admit of more permanency, stability, and continuity in the life of the worker than is provided by the precariousness of modern competition. His life, it is contended, is much more exposed than it need be to the worst of material evils—uncertainty. The “Trust" organization of industry, as also the organization of dock labor, are in this point in the line of Socialist advance; and it is well known that the civil service attracts because it not only secures the livelihood of the employed, but leaves him time for volunteer work in pursuit of his interests and duties, private and public. Or, again, we are told that the social need is to make the possession of property very responsive to the character and capacity of the owner. Could the endeavor of Socialism be better expressed? Socialism does not, like certain forms of Communism, rest upon the idea that no man should have anything of his own; it is concerned with such an organization of industry as shall enable a man to acquire property in proportion to his character and capacity, but will cease to make the mere accumulation of private property, a motive force of industry. Just to the extent that property serves the needs of individuality, Socialism would encourage its acquisition : the idea of hand-to-mouth existence or "dependence," the ideal of the slave or the child, is probably much more encouraged by the fluctuations of competitive industry than by the routine but regular and calculable vocation of the public servant.
It may be further considered that it is the object of Collectivism not merely to give a true industrial and calculable basis to the life of the worker, but to give to the possession of property character and propriety. There is a justifiable pleasure in surrounding one's self with things which really express and respond to one's own character and choice of interest, and in the feeling that they are one's own in a peculiar and intimate sense. But the number of books, pictures, and the like, which one "desires for one's own," is comparatively small, and would be much smaller, if one had within reach a museum, a library, and a picture-gallery. The property that is revolting is that which is expressive, not of character, but of money;, the house, for instance, of "a successful man
made beautiful" by contract.” Emerson's exhortation to put our private pictures into public galleries is perhaps extreme, and not altogether
Throughout this discussion I am thinking of "the enjoyment of individual Property” as distinct from the employment of private Capital and the private possession of Land.
practical or reasonable. But the public provision of libraries and galleries, and of things that can be best enjoyed in common, not only enlarges the background of the citizen's life and adds to his possessions, but suggests a reasonable limit to the accumulation of property ; as it would most certainly give a social direction to art, when it could minister to the needs of a nation rather than the ostentation of the few. And the same may be said of public parks, means of transit, and the like—all in the direction of levelling those inequalities of property which serve no social purpose. Whether, then, property be regarded as a means of self-expression," or as “materials for enjoyment," the Collectivist ideal may be said to lie in the direction, not of denying, but of affirming and satisfying the need ; and the Socialists criticise the distribution of property under individualistic institutions just from the point of view of its failure to satisfy a need of human nature. Mr. Bosanquet, for instance, really expresses the Socialist's position when he says: "The real cause of complaint today, I take it, is not the presence, but the absence of property, together with the suggestion that its presence may be the cause of its absence.” He points out, moreover, that the principle of unearned private property and the principle of Communism really meet in the common rejection of the idea of earning, of some quasi-competitive relation of salary to value or energy of service—in fact, of the organization of Society upon a basis of labor, which is the ideal of Socialism. Similarly he puts himself at the point of view of the Socialist when he says: "The true principles of State interference with acquisition—and alienation-would refer to their tendency, if any, to prevent acquisition of property on the part of other members of society," a principle which omits nothing in Collectivist requirements, and opens up a series of far-reaching considerations.t
Socialism and Competition. I have already endeavored to show that Socialism is a method of social selection according to social worth (in the widest sense): that it desires to extend the possibilities of usefulness to as many as possible, and would measure reward by the efficiency of socially valuable work. The differences in reward would, however, be of less account in proportion as social consideration and recognition, and the collective privileges and opportunities of civilization, are extended to any kind of worker, and as the motives to personal accumulation are reduced within social limits. I Indeed, it is a question whether the conven*In "Some Aspects of the Social Problem,” which originally suggested this paper.
Cf. The “Land Nationalization " propaganda generally. For the sake of their economic case, as also for purposes of political propaganda, it is regrettable that modern Socialism gives more prominence, in its theory, to “Capital" than to “Land" -but of the works of Achille Loria and his school.
Cf. Mill (" Autobiography") and Marshall (“Principles ") on the “Motives to Collective Action"; also Sidney Webb's “ Difficulties of Individualism" (Fabian Tract No. 69). "A social system devised to encourage the art of establishing the maximum inequality over our neighbors '-as Ruskin puts it-appears destined to be replaced, wherever this is possible, by one based on salaried public service, with the stimulus of duty and esteem, instead of that of fortune-making."