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WHAT is Socialism ?

It is exceedingly difficult to answer that question in a few words, for Socialism is exceedingly elusive and bewildering in its doctrines, its aims, and its proposals.

Its opponents have described it as “a doctrine of sordid materialism and of atheism," they have denounced it as “the gospel of everlasting bellyful,” and as “the coming slavery.' They have stated that Socialism means to abolish religion, that it "would try to put laziness, thriftlessness, and inefficiency on a par with industry, thrift, and efficiency, that it would strive to break up not merely private property, but, what is far more important, the home, the chief prop upon which our whole civilisation stands." 3

The Socialists, on the other hand, claim that “Socialism presents the only living ideal of human existence "4; that “ Socialism is science applied with knowledge and understanding to all branches of human activity” 5; that

· Millar, Socialism, p. 21.
· Herbert Spencer, The Man versus the State, p. 18 ff.
3 Roosevelt, Presidential Message, December 1907.
• Walter Crane in Squire, Socialism and Art, Foreword.
5 Bebel, Woman, p. 256.


“Socialism is freedom," I and that it is exceedingly just, for “the justice of Socialism will see all things, and therefore understand all things."? One of the Socialist leaders has told us “ Socialism is much more than either a political creed or an economic dogma. It presents to the modern world a new conception of society and a new basis upon which to build up the life of the individual and of the State." 3 Another informs us“ Socialism to Socialists is not a Utopia which they have invented, but a principle of social organisation which they assert to have been discovered by the patient investigators into sociology whose labours have distinguished the present century.” 4 A third has stated that “ Socialism is really neither more nor less than the science of sociology." A fourth asserts that “it is a scientific scheme of national government entirely wise, just, and practical.” 6 A fifth states “Socialism to me has always meant not a principle, but certain definite economic measures which I wish to see taken.” 7

Other Socialists have taught that “Socialism is an ethical system founded on justice and truth; it is a heartfelt, soul-inspiring religion, resting upon the love of God.” “Socialism is a theory of social organisation, which reconciles the individual to society. It has discovered how the individual in society can attain to a state of complete development.” “Socialism is the right of the community, acting in its corporate capacity, to intervene in the lives and labours of men and women.” 10

· Kessack, Capitalist Wilderness, p. 2.
? Ford, Woman and Socialism, p. 3.
Keir Hardie, From Serfdom to Socialism, p. 1.

Webb, The Difficulties of Individualism, p. 3.
5 Hyndman, Socialism and Slavery, Preface.
6 Blatchford, Merrie England, p. 100.
? Shaw, The Impossibilities of Anarchism, p. 3.
s “Veritas," Did Jesus Christ teach Socialism? p. 1.

Macdonald, Socialism, p. 3.
"• Labour Record, February 1907,

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