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About The independent. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1902-1907 | View Entire Issue (Jan. 15, 1903)
THE NEBRASKA INDEPENDENT.
JANUARY 15. .1903.
omic conditions absolutely determine
! social, moral and political ones; that
profits are always and Inevitably in
iquitous; and that therefore all pro
ductive property and occupations
without exception ought to be in state
hands, Fabianism denies. What is
unfortunate in Fabianism is that it
seems to look upon state economic ac
tivity as rather the normal order, to
be departed from or not insisted on
only when personal initiative is clear
ly better. I should urge just the re
versethat Individualism ought to be
the standing presumption, to be reso
lutely trenched on when it fails, pro
vided public functioning is certain to
do better, but always to be preserved
and acted upon iw the normal. I deem
. this difference in points of view rather
important; but public ownership has
not yet gone so far that a Fabianist
policy and a rational Individualism
need at present clash.
Here, at least, I fear, I for one must
part company with socialism, that
mode of thought in its orthodox form
seeming to me to proceed upon pre
suppositions wholly unscientific.
One of these is the assumption that
the estate of the human species on this
iaith can be radically bettered made
over, perfected so that sin and mis
ery f ball in effect disappear. This I
4.1 A rm v,a foHVi nlv anil tint reasoned
JUUgC IU wj wj -
conviction. In common with all
healthy men I share such faith, but I
cannot exalt it to the level of dogma
or of scientific prediction.. Its basis is
primarily religious though it derives
more or less support also from the
progress which humanity seems to
have made in the past Each of these
grounds is worthy recognition. The
belief in question is therefore not to
be ranked as mere credulity. It can
not, however, on the other hand, be
accepted as a scientific premise. We
hope for a city of 'God, to be estab
lished right here in this actual earth;
but if you ask for a demonstration
that it will come I can give you noth
ing of the kind, and no one can.
On the contrary, alas, the scientific
data all seem to point the other way.
There is a sadly convincing induction,
familiar to students of social history,
that whenever material betterment
comes to the ignorant poor, as througn
a rise of wages or the cheapening of
bread, it is speedily checked by in
crease in population. The principal
. ; consideration that forbade me to fin.!
!in socialism a panacea was the in
sight that, granting to socialism as a
purely economic resort all that is
claimed for it, which, was further than
'I could go; supposing socialism to
bring to pass economically all that
Rodbertus, Marx, or any apostle ever
claimed, the community would soon b3
again suffering from its old-fashioned
ills through the irrational multipli
cation of the species. However great
economic prosperity may come
through socialism or otherwise the
sort of humanity we have had to deal
with thus far, the only kind of men we
know, will use such prosperity to mui
tiply perniciously, to develop a sub
merged tenth, an ignorant and vicious
proletariat, whose woes will be so
great as again and very soon to lower
the average weal well toward zero.
I am not forgetting what socialists
say against this. Marx would have us
believe that economic welfare inevit
ably begets intellectual and moral san
ity. I could never see any proof of
this. It is another bland and thought
less assumption. Innumerable cases of
physical plenty could be cited, taken
from all the historic centuries and
from the most diverse conditions of
race, climate and society, which ara
not followed by mental or moral up
lift. I instance the good-for-naught
Anglo-Saxon men in the most pros
perous parts of this country without
large families, rarely sick, able to
command good wages if willing to
work, yet forever In rags, without a
cent's worth of property or credit,
e. g., oJe Beall, in Sam Walter Foss
- poem, "He'd Had No Show."
HE'D HAD NO SHOW.
"Joe Beall 'ud sit upon a keg
Down to the groc'ry store, an' throw
f - 1 i. 11.11. 1 .
vue.ieg ngat over i omer leg
An' swear he'd never had no show.
, Oh, no,' said Joe,
'Hain't hed no show,
Then shift his quid to t'other jaw,
An' chaw, an' chaw, an' chaw, ah'
"He said he got no start in life,
Didn't get no money from his dad,
The washin' took in by his wife
Earned all the funds he ever had.
40, no, said Joe,
'Hain't hed no show,'
An' then he'd look up at the clock
An' talk, an' talk, an' talk, an' talk.
"I've waited twenty years let's see
- Yes, twenty-four, an' never struck,
Altho' I've sot roun' patiently,
The fust tarnation streak er luck.
O, no,' said Joe,
'Hain't hed no show.'
Then stuck like mucilage to the spot
An' sot, an' sot; an sot, an sot.
" 'I've come down regerler every day
For twenty years to Piper's store.
I've sot here in a, patient way, . -.;
Say, hain't I Piper?' Piper swore.
'I tell ye, Joe,
Yer hain't no show;
Yer too dern patient' ther hull raft,
Jest laffed, an' laffed, an'- laffed, an
If therefore," we wish to go upon a
Itjisin nf fact a fill not uticn dreams
we ought not to expect from social
Ism hnwpvpr triumnhant. anv Derma
nent deliverance from the principal
woes that are upon us.
Permit me now to distinguish be
tween two types of socialism, scien
tific and popular, for.' to some extent.
what I have still to say can be made
more relevent by treating them apart
Socialism of the reasoned sort, as
worked out by Rodbertus and in part
by Marx, is at first sight very at
tractive. It meets manv oblections on
which the more popular doetrine has
no word. Thus, it is anti-communist
ic not proposing that all men's ser
vices shall be rewarded alike irrespec
tive of ability and fidelity, but aim
ing to mete out rewards in an equit
able manner. By the device of labor
time money." essaying to make costs
and prices exactly agree, it proposes
that any person shall command" for a
day's toil products costing the com
munity precisely the amount of time,
toil, units to which he has been sub
jected in the day's work. Not "to all
men alike;" but, "to every man ac
cording as his work shall be." This
system patiently elaborated by Rod
bertus, is so perfect and workable at
many points that it tempts one to
hail it as a real herald of the bliss
for which we sigh. I have elsewhere
analyzed this scheme, finding, to my
regret, that in practice it must after
all either utterly break down or else
produce its little benefit at the cost
of greater ills than it removes. ,
Much more interesting is every day
socialism, the type now disturbing
modern politics by ominously gaining
converts daily. I may dub it. "loose
socialism," "state socialism" or "the
socialism of the man in the street"
Increasing hosts of intelligent men and
women who never heard of Rodber
tus, impressed by the workine of
trusts, of the postoffice and Of public
ownership in this country and else
where, jump to the conclusion that
the complete generalization of such
ownership would usher fn a millenium.
Their cry is "Only substitute Uncle
Sam for Uncle John Rockefeller, Un
cle Pierpont Morgan and all such.
and the thing is done." Rodbertus1
careful planning for eauitv thev isrnnre
as superfluous labor.
I cannot help regarding such neonle
as under a complete hallucination.
There is much history to prove how
enticing and ideal a dan mav lnnk
when viewed in the block yet fail
nopeiessiy under the searching test of
experience. Compare the expected
with the actually realized, (a.) in the
freeing of the Spanish-American re
publics from Spam; (b) in the intro
duction of free trade in Great Britain,
and (c) in the abolition of slavery
in our south!
The best substitute for trial hv tiro
is an analysis of fire and of the bo
dies which are consumed or nnrifiorf
thereby. Can we not, by a parallel
process, analyzing the system and al
so the nature of the human subjects on
whom it is proposed to try It, ascer
tain what the results would be were
the state made employer of all and
popular socialism actually put to the
test? Let us attempt this.
Frankly, socialism as popularly advocated-
would be likely to promote re
form in a few not unimportant partic
ulars. It would perhaps at points act
more happily than any less drastic
The abolition of business corpora
tions would of course end gambling
in domestic stocks; but there would
still be Canadian, Mexican and Eu
ropean stocks and bonds, and also for
a long time, our own government
bonds which last would be likely to
fluctuate under the proposed regime
as never before. Produce gambling
would also be left to flourish. In a
word, the gambling which connects
itself with speculation would be little
affected by socialism of the rough and
Under such socialism the evils of
scarcity and glut might be mollified
by the careful gathering of statistics
telling supply and demand. It is to be
remarked, however, that, owing to di
versity of seasons and weather and
to people's changing tastes and wants
the evils referred to can at best be
only a little diminished, white ww
can be done in this way trusts are !
now rapidly oringmg about.'
The proposed socialism would not
prevent crises. Crops may fail or im
mense conflagrations or epidemics oc
cur as now. Ups and downs in the
value of money may aiso take place.
Any improvement in these respects is
as likely, without , socialism as with.
Strikes and lockouts will also still be
possible Friction between capital and
labor is in no wise certain to be abol
ished by making the public sole em
ployer. The form of the boss-system
must continue under socialism. At
present wage scales are rarely drawn
up by the actual owners of proper
ties.' Agents, managers, superinten
dents do this. Such functionaries
would still be required, prevailing so
cialism, and one of them and the work
ers under him might disagree upon
wages as now. The general public,
owning all things, would likely enough
insist on high wage3, but, then as
now, a special group of laborers may
demand remuneration which cannot
be conceded, giving rise to a strike
on the one hand or a lockout on the
other. The strife may then spread
from establishment to establishment,
enforced idleness, . underproduction
and want ensuing, as is so unfortun
ately the case at present. I cannot
see how socialism is to assure any ap
preciable improvement in matters of
this sort ..
State socialists assume that their
establishment of society would annul
profits, interest and rent It would
not. unless private property of every
kind and degree were done away.
and it is not proposed to go so fa
as that The fee of consumable prop
erty, pleasure grounds, personal li
braries, kits of tools, clothing and
so on the fee, in a word, of all prop
erty which is no longer capital but
has been passed over to consumers
for consumption purposes the fee cf
all such property is to remain in pri
But as surely as this is so loaning
and economic rent will to some extent
continue. Savings banks will of course
be owned by government, but is there
to be no inducement for people to de
posit in them ,no rate per cent? And
if, residence land or even houses be
ing privately owned, the fashion
shows favor for certain wards, streets,
or corners, I would like to know what
power on earth could keep the phe
nomenon of rent from arising?
Profits, too, would stay. Suppose
that by some art or device you or I
can sell given products cheaper than
the state mills, farms or fisheries can,
are we -to be put in jail for doing
so? If not, we shall make profits.
There would be many cases of this
In the main no doubt profit-taking
under that name will cease, but if in
dustry is to go on strongly, the same
or similar winnings must be permitted
in the form of salaries. Supervising,
organizing inventive talent must be
paid for and the remuneration must
come from the people's industry. Your
new system will perhaps prevent a
few cases of extortionate profits, but
supervisory agency will on the whole
cost the people as much under it as
under the present order.
I also pause when apostles of social
ism urge that their system would se
cure work at fair wages for all at all
times, putting an end to necessity for
charity. A socialist government
might of course artificially provide
employment through woodyards, stone
breaking plants, etc., where men hav-
ng no other jobs could earn small
sums-a system of disguised charity.
But present governments can do this
as well as socialism could. Socialists
do not mean this. They affirm that
normal and lucrative employment will
be always ready. How will socialism
guarantee this unless it can, as we
nave seen it cannot, prevent scarcity,
glut, strikes, lockouts, crop failures.
floods, fires and epidemics?
Frequently the occasion of a man's
being out of work is not that there
snt work, but that there is none of
his exact sort, or none of this with
out search and travel, or that the
wages of other conditions do not suit.
I am wholly unable to see how gen
eral public ownership could much if
any limit these possibilities of hitch.
as for charity, the occasions for it
originate partly in misfortunes which
are inevitable, utterly unpreventable
oy government or otherwise, and part-
y in mens laziness and un thrift.
That these bad qualities are ineradic
able in human nature I will not al-
ege, hut 1 cannot for the life of me
see what socialism could do to abate
them. I believe that it would insuf
ferably Increase them.
To minify these criticisms, to make
a system that shall actually improve
on our present one, socialists should
go back to Rodbertus and try to
amend his proposals into workable
ness. His plan, if it could be executed
would, at many of the points tonrheri
on, bring real remedy. Of up-to-date
socialism this cannot be said. i
While socialism would thus have lit-
tie if any power for good it would 1
have vast power to Inflict Injury.
In my judgment the lax socialism o?
which I have been speaking would
beget four appalling evils, any one of
which would be 'a fate heading out
more hydra-like with Woes than tha
existing system itself.
1. It would inevitably degenerate
into communism.1 The svstem. if sets
up, would of course be administered
by its advocates, and these, you no
tice, when not avowed communists,
are people to lay greater stress on
equality than cn justice, minimizing
distinctions in men's productive abil
ity and making light of Rodbertus
painstaking effort to secure justice be
tween individual producers.
This trend of ' every day socialism
toward communism is not wanton,
but natural. Study of Rodbertus con-
vinces many socialists as it has mo
that socialism not involving commun
ism would be to say the least very
hard to administer. Not a few al
ready say what, upon trial, every
cne would echo: "A curse upon aU
this machinery and perspiration for
differentiating the individual shares of
product! Go to, we will divide equal
ly." That is easier and, for the ma
jority, the dividends so gotten at,
2. It would file off and at length en
tirely annul the invaluable spur of
That this result would come is ob
vious from the preceding point. The
miraculous richness of initiative, en
terprise and daring hitherto witnessed
in men's activities, mastering nature
and bringing forth ever new devices
for men's comfort and progress, would
fall away along with the prompting of.
individual opportunity. Philanthropy
might be incentive enough if you could
get it in necessary measure, but phil
anthropy is a quality not to be calle-1
into existence by mere notification
The loss at this point would be fatal.
With all their rapacity . and crimes
captains of industry are a colossal
net good. Social weal requires that
they be curbed,, not that they be
3. It would annihilate the power of
this nation to compete industrially cv
otherwise with leading nations. Ben
jamin Kidd rightly depicts how
quickly a people which conducts its
me non-competitively must drop be
hind such as continue under that cruel
but effective goad. On the nature and
amount or such loss people would dif
fer. If it meant merely lessened
ui cause awyjutz. Lilt) llitLlUl."
not a few would contemplate it with,
some composure; but few certainly
would confront composedly the likeli
hood of our becoming a vassal nation
or of our absorption by Great Britain
or the German empire.
4. It would subject society to a
species of mob rule at home. In what
sense do we believe in democracy?
Not in the Athenian sense that every
man is fit for any office or that men
are equally capable to give advice on
an questions; but m this sense: (1)
that natural differences of ability are
at any time sure to be found in any
iociety; u) that society naturally se
lects for its various duties and fiint.
tions those somehow specially fitted
for these, and then follows such lead
ers; and (3) that the result thus at
tained, though usually far from ner-
feet, is on the whole better than if
leaders were made such in any other
Socialism does not tenore this nHn-
ciple, and Rodbertus' socialism makes
reasonable provision for its successful
application, but popular social ism rlnoic
not. It plans for a leaderless nation.
its program would kill off able leader
s .ip and make the political hnss rwi
over all cursed forevermore. Great
men will not work in harness nor sub
mit to political tall or nolitirai rtis.
missal, which always involve
tact that manv noli tic 1 nffio
quiring high business and administra
tive ability are now well-filled. All
political official work is now
on in an atmosphere of competition,
with examples of competitive service
visioie an about It therefore offers
no hint of what would orrnr wpro im-
petition clean gone forever.
I for one believe it d
the people s work to be well and eco
nomically done, which
under multiple-headship such as pop-
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ROBERTS HPKCIAITV f n . HMt
IHJt OLD. KiaURLK HtIK U00l8 Ho LSI.
11214 UJU&BOttS t)TUET,CUlCAtjat
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