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Directing attention to the Attacks of Socialism, and the Character
and Authority of its Modern Representatives. An apology for bringing before the public the subject of this volume is scarcely needed. The fresh currents of a powerful movement, now sweeping across every country in Europe, are felt by all, and dreaded by not a few. Socialism and democracy are words of pregnant meaning, and the antagonism between the possessing and the labouring classes becomes daily more evident and more alarming. The frequent meetings of working men to assert their claims, the unwelcome interruptions of industrial pursuits by means of strikes, are some of the indications (and others are not wanting) to warn us of a powerful ferment which now is agitating the heart of our labouring people. Some think that what we experience now are only the first waves of an advancing flood—a great social revolution. The old "patriarchal relationship” between the paid artisan and the capitalist who employed him has disappeared, to return no more. Even from Russia tidings have reached us of the spread of agrarian socialism. In Basle the International Congress, held in 1869, declared that private landed property is to cease. Hired labourers know how to use
their rights of coalition in forming themselves into Unions for resistance and defiance. Many of their leading spirits are in full expectation that the year 1889 may bring deliverance to the fourth estate (i.e. the labouring class) from the yoke of the “money aristocracy,” just as the Revolution of 1789 rescued the third estate from the plundering domination of the other two—the spiritual and temporal aristocracy. The chasm between the money-possessing portion of the community, called by continental writers the “bourgeoisie," and that portion of it which possesses nothing, the operative classes or so-called “proletarians," appears not only externally in wealth and poverty, but internally and most profoundly in the heart of the people. It is not the result merely of agitation caused by the “emissaries” of some secret society, or the intangible influences of some Sevil spirit.” It must be traced rather to the stupendous development of modern industry, and that inequality which has accompanied it, pari passu, in the distribution of acquired wealth. We will endeavour to obtain a clear view of this grave reality which stares us in the face, and the deep significance of this modern movement.
In order to do this, we ask three questions :
(1.) What do social agitators affirm respecting the order of things existing in our present system of human economy?
(2.) What are the improvements and changes they demand ? (3.) What is the manner of, and who are the
persons by whom, this criticism is represented and these demands are made ?
Respecting the first of these questions, “socialism gives a most positive reply. Proudhon, a man of character and genius, says unreservedly “Property is theft."