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illogical, perhaps, and indefensible on any cut-and-dried scheme of science or religion. Still a solution which takes into account the facts is always better than the absence of any attempt to arrive at a solution at all.
It may be hard to determine in particular cases whether a man is more helped by sternness or sympathy in the pass to which incompetence has reduced him. But it is clear that an attempt at decision is better than the present system of lumping together the worn-out worker and the man who will not work under the common designation of pauper. The abolition of guardians, then, involves, sooner or later, the abolition of the law they administer as a separate department of government, and the consequent extinction of pauperism as a thing in itself. This alone would be a sufficient justification of the reforms we have outlined.
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PUBLISHED May, 1906. REPRINTED FEBRUARY, 1908.
SOCIALISM AND LABOR
The return to the House of Commons of twenty-nine members pledged to independence is the greatest political experiment the wageearners of Great Britain have ever made. But it is an experiment. On it they have spent time, money, hard work and fine enthusiasm. If it is to be of permanent value to them, much more time, much more money, much harder work and much more enthusiasm will have yet to be spent. It rests with the elected representatives of Labor to make the experiment a success, and to convince the workers in the constituencies that their earnings and their energy have not been drawn upon for nothing, or for next to nothing.
It is the very urgent duty, therefore, of the small Labor Party in the present House of Commons to prove to the exploited classes that it is well worth their while to put forth further effort to make that small party a large one; large in the near, predominant in the far, future. In short, to win the great mass that has so far not supported Labor candidates, the Labor Party must justify its existence in the eyes of the little few who have. Only by so doing can odd seats be gained for Labor during the life of the present parliament and a great and a much more decisive victory be achieved at the next general election.
The one thing sure in politics is reaction. After the flow follows always the ebb. In the case of this great Liberal triumph the reaction will come soon; it will be violent; it will gain volume and impetus from time. By the nature of things it will be a reaction against Liberalism ; but there is no such necessary reason why it should be also a reaction against Labor. At by-elections and at the next general election Liberal seats will inevitably fall, but it is by no means inevitable, nor need it be likely, that Labor seats should share in the catastrophe. Nay, further, there is no sound reason why the misfortunes of either of the other parties should not be Labor's opportunity. The Labor party will be hurt by the reaction just in so far as, in the eyes of the electorate, it is identified with the party against whom the reactionary forces are directed. By just so much as it has proved itself to be independent of and distinct from that party will it be safe. But independence of itself will not suffice. Only by a wise and prudent and, at the same time, a forceful policy of the Labor Party now in the House of Commons the seats won at the last election may be held for ever. The present position of Labor was won by Hope ; it can be secured and strengthened only by Realization. A party in parliament can be held together, kept vital, only by a policy-not by vague aspirations and foggy ideas
but by a policy. A policy implies something more than a desire to obtain certain definite legislation. It implies strategy, initiative, criticism and opposition. These, to be effective, must be based upon some principle either of attack or of defence or of both. Labor today is essentially aggressive; its policy is a policy of attack. The object of its hostility is Capitalistic Monopoly in all its forms, and the winning for those who work of every penny which now goes into the pockets of those who idle. A stupendous undertaking truly, but that and nothing less than that is the objective of the Labor Party
Nothing is gained, though much may be lost, by concealments, subterfuges, reticences. The Labor Party is a party against the Landlord and the Capitalist.
It is also a trustee of the interests of a great historic Empire, an Empire which, if it is worthily to develop, must be transformed into a great democratic Commonwealth.
In an Empire such as ours a member of parliament is called upon daily to direct his criticism upon every sort of political issue concerning every sort of interest. Thus it is impossible for him, however hard set may be his will, to isolate himself or his activities to the furtherance of any one sectional interest how great soever the section or its interests may be. A member of an Imperial parliament, he is an Imperialist in spite of himself. What is true of an individual member is more true of a party. A party which concerns itself with sectional interests only will soon cease to be a party; it will degenerate into a group, and as such it cannot hope to receive serious backing in the country, The average elector cares for many things which lie, or appear to lie, outside his
own narrow economic interests. He cares for the Colonies, and he wishes to keep and to increase their friendship and their goodwill. He cares (though not so much as he should) for India and those other of our dependencies in the government of which strictly democratic methods are not immediately practicable. He recognizes that there is such a place as South Africa, and he realizes more acutely than he was wont to do that South Africa is upon occasion capable of costing a great deal of money and some blood. He is anxious, now and then, about national security, security from foreign invasion, security for the commerce on which his livelihood depends, for the ships that bring his daily bread from across the seas. The Fiscal controversy has borne in upon him the fact that his daily bread does, and is likely to continue to, come to him from across the seas. Even foreign affairs are not altogether beyond his ken, for he is conscious, though not perhaps fully, that "Foreign Policy” is the policy of Great Britain in distant lands.
If the average man is to be won over, the Labor Party must concentrate an intelligent and a broad-minded criticism upon every question touching all or any of these many and varied interests of the average elector. The average elector is a most potent person. It is he who turns minorities into majorities and majorities into minorities, and he it is who in the last resort must decide the future of the Labor Party.