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^.." '■ V'c'{■;c'^.^ 





Wm. ISBISTER, Limited 





Some of the following chapters are republished, with 
modifications and considerable additions, from the 
Contemporary Review or the British Qtmrterly, by 
permission of the conductor^ of those periodicals, but 
most of the work, more than two-thirds of it, appears 
now for the first time. I have confined myself to the 
broader phases of contemporary socialism. There are 
many petty groups and coteries among revolutionary 
socialists, but it is needless to describe them in detail, 
because while each calls itself by its own name they 
differ only on minor points of future government or ' 
present policy, and adhere, all of them, to one or other 
of the two main types of existing social democracy — 
the Centralist, which is usually known as Communism, 
Socialism, or Collectivism, and the Anarchist, which — 
though also Communist, Socialist, or Collectivist — is 
generally known as Anarchism or Nihilism. Nor have^ 


I thought it necessary to bestow any separate treatment 
^on what is called State Socialism ; because that is either 

va mere general expression for any undue extension of 
the power of the State for the amelioration of the 
r^i labouring classes, or it is the specific name of a party 
in Gtermany whose programme is just the ordinary 
socialist programme of nationalising land and the 
instruments of production, but who seek to carry it out 
gradually by means of the existing State, " the Social 
Monarchy of the Hohenzollems," instead of doing so all 

^ at once by means of the Social Democratic Republic ; 
and in either case the phase of opinion the expres- 
sion represents is substantially described and discussed 
in various parts of the following work. On the other 
,hand, I have introduced a chapter on Heniy George 

Calthough he is not a socialist, because his doctrines are 
in many respects closely allied with those of socialism, 
and because he has done more than anyl^other single 
person to stir and deepen in this country an agitation 
which, if not socialistic, at least promises to be a mother 
of socialism. When the first chapter of the present book 
was put into type there seemed little sign of our long 
immunity from socialism, always so strange to foreign 
observers, being seriously disturbed, but now the air is 



busy with cries of Social Democracy, Christian Socialism, 
State Socialism, and every manner of social sentiment- 
ality and mysticism. Socialist societies are establishing 
themselves in the cities and at the universities ; socialist 
lectures are being delivered; socialist discussions pro- 
moted; and there are already several socialist organs 
in the weekly and monthly press, conducted with ability 
and a somewhat bitter zeal, and numbering among their 
contributors writers whose names are held in high 
respect, though, it is true, for other qualities than 
political wisdom. These organs do not represent, not 
do they profess to represent, any positive unity of 
opinion, but their predominant tendency is the energetic 
one of revolutionary social democracy, which usually in 
the end turns and rends the softer varieties of socialism 
in whose company it first sets out 

It is too soon to say what may come of this move- 
ment, or what weight ought to be assigned to it. It 
would be foolish to disparage it. Haxthausen thought 
Russia was protected from socialism by her rural com- 
mune. Professor von Stein thought Germany was 
protected from it by her want of manufacturing indus- 
tries. Yet both were signally mistaken, and we may 
possibly cherish a like error if we fancy ourselves to 


possess a sure protection against socialism in tiie prac- 
tical character of our people and our habits of free and 
open discussion. What is called practicality is no 
safeguard against delusive ideas outside one's own 
immediate field of practical activity, and there is perhaps 
no country, except the still more practical country of 
America, where more favour is shown to fanaticism of 
any kind, if there seems to be heart in it Besides, 
there are everywhere many to whom the practical test 
of a scheme will not be, shall we be any better for the 
change ? but rather, can we be any worse for it ? and 
who will look with nothing but hope to any manner of 
revolution. At the same time, if we compare the pre- 
sent movement with the Chartist movement a generation 
ago, we shall run no risk of overrating its importance. 
' Chartism was essentially a social democratic movement, 
aiming, like the socialism of our day, at the conquest by 
the labouring classes of the political power of the State 
for the purpose of using it as the direct instrument of 
their own social amelioration ; but in Chartism the 
whole of the labouring classes of the time were more or 
less represented. The general economic position of 
every section of these classes was then much less favour- 
able and hopeful than it now is, and many sections of 


them sofiered serious distress. But the classes that 
were then most active and disturbed have meanwhile 
found a way of hope and comfort, and are not only 
quiety but decidedly anti-revolutionary. The present 
movement is thus, in a sense, much more partial than 
Chartism. It ferments round the grievances of particu- 
lar classes, especially the agricultural labourers in the 
country, and what are called the outcast poor in the 
cities. But these grievances have raised questions that 
cut deep and reach tar, and while the waters are 
troubled with such questions, it is only natural to find 
socialism or other forms of extreme opinion flitting 
about on the top of Uie wave. 



Revival of Socialism, 1— Extinction of Old Types, 2— Main 
Surviving Type, Social Democracy, 3 — Its Two Varieties, 
Socialist and Nihilist, 5— Its Relations to Political Democracy, 
6 — Definition of Socialism, 7 — Cairnes on Mill's Profession 
of Socialism, 8— State Socialism, 12 — Conservative Socialism, 
14 — The Minimum of Socialism, 14— First Rise of Social 
Demociacy, 15 — Rousseau Baboeuf, 17— Connection of Social- 
ism with Democracy, 20--The Danger to Free Institutions, 27 ' 
— Necessity and Probability of Wider Diffusion of Property, 
29— Spread of Socialism— inGcrmany, 36— in America, 39— in 
Austria, 40— in France, 43— in Belgium, 46— in Holland, 47 — 
in Switzerland, 48— in Spain, 50— in. Portugal, 64 — in Italy, 
54— in Denmark, 57— in England, 59. 


German Socialists before Lassalle, 64— Favourable Conditions for 
Socialist Agitation in Germany, 66— Character of Lassalle, 68 
—The Hatzfeldt Case, 72— Theft of the Cassette, 74— Trial 
for Sedition, 76 — Literary Activity, 76 — Letter to Leipzig 
Working Men, 78— Foundation of General Working Men's 
Association, 80— Lassalle's Agitation, 81— His Death, 82— 
Funeral, 85— Political Views, 86— Idea and Position of the 
Working Class, 86— Functions of the State, 90— Economical 
Doctrines, 94— Anarchic Socialism of the present Industrial 
Regime, 99— Ricardo's " Ironl^a w" of Wage8,'100— A National, 
not an International Socialist, 105 — Internationality not 
peculiar to Socialist Parties, ] 08— Reason of Socialist Con- 
demnation of Patriotism, 109. 



Reception of his Work on Capital, 111 — Influence of Political 
Refugee^ 115— The Young Hegelians, 119— Feuerhach*8 
Humnninm, 121— "Young Grermany," 127— Weitling ^and 
Albrecht, 129— Early Socialistic Leanings of Marx, 131— Marx 
in Paris, 134— in Brussels, 135— The Communist League, 135 
— Communist Manifesto of 1847, 137—'* New Rhenish Gazette,** 
141 — Marx in London, 142— The International, its Rise and 
Fall, 144— Tendency to Division in Revolutionary Parties, 160— 
"Das Capital,** 152— Historical Rise of Capitalism, 154 — 
Origin of Surplus Value, 155— Theory of Value, 159— Price, 
163 -Criticism of his Theory of Value, 166— Wages, 168— 
Normal Day of Labour, 171— Machinery, 173— Piecework, 176 
— Relative Over-population, 179. 


Rodbertus, 183— Professor Winkclblech (Mario), 185— His Awaken- 
ing to Social Misery, 185— Ai>plication to Eksonomical Study for 
Solution, 187— View of Social Problem, 189— Heathen Idea of 
Right (Monopolism) to be replaced by Christian Idea of Right 
(PanpoUsm), 190— Liberalism and Communism both Utopias, 
192— Federalism alone realises Christian Idea of Right, 196^ 
Natural Right of all to Propert}', 198 — Right to Labour and to 
Fruits of Labour, 201— Necessity of Controlling Increase of 
Population, 202 — Of Suppressing Unproductive Acquisition, 203 
— Collectivisation of Land and Proiluctive Capital, 203. 


The Name, 206— Held's Vindication of it, 206— Objections to it, 210 
—Founders of the Historical School, 214— Their Departure from 
Manchester Party, 215— Eisenach Congress, 216— The His- 
torical Method, 218— The Historical School a Realist School, 
220— An Ethical School, 225— Their Theory of the SUte, 228— 
The Social Question, 229— Von Scheel, 233— Brentano, 234. 




Socialism and ChriRtianity, 237— Views of St Simon and Cabet, 
238— Irreligious Character of Contemporary Socialism, 239 
—The Christian Socialists of England in 1850, 240— 
Those of Germany now, 243— The Catholic Group, 244— 
Ketteler, 246 — Moufang, 263 — Protestant Group, 268— 
Stacker, Todt, 259— Christian Social Working Men's Party, 



Haxthausen's Opinion of Kussia's Safety from Socialism, 268 — 
First Beginnings of Revolutionary Socialism in Russia, 269— 
Emancipation from Dependence on Western Ideas, 272 — 
Heel's Influence, 273— Slavophils, 274— Their Agreement with 
Revolutionists in Favour for Socialism, 279 — Herzen's Ideal of 
Communal Federation, 281— Effect of Crimean War on Progress 
of Socialism, 283— Herzen and Herzenism, 285— Nihilism, 288 
— Turgenieflf, Koscheleff, 289— Schedo Ferroti, 290— Herzen's 
"Kolokol," 293— Tchernycheffsky, 294— Bakunin, 294— His 
" Alliance of Socialist Democracy," 298— His Emeute at Lyons 
in 1870, 300— Admission to and Expulsion from International, 
300— ** Pandestniction," 302— Causes of Nihilism, 306— 
Russian Impressionability, 307— Political and Intellectual 
Immaturity, 310 — Arbitrary Procedure of Russian Authorities, 
312— " The good Revolutionist," 314—" Collective Messiahism," 
316— Resort to Assassination, 318— Political Elements of 
Nihilism, 319— Prevalence of Discontent, 320— Grievances of 
Jews, 322— Of University Men, 323— Of the Peasantry, 324— 
Evikjof Bureaucratic Crovemment, 329— Growing Power of 
Pablic Opinion in Russia, 332— Necessity of Constitution, 336. 




A Social Question recognised by Contemporary Economists, 339-— 
Mr Cairnes on the Situation, 340— Socialist Indictment of 
Existing? Regime, 342— 1st, the "Iron Law of Wages," 343— 
Allecjed Deterioration of VVajje-Labourers' Position Unfounded, 
345— Their Starfdard of Living Better, 345— Their Individual 
Share in the National Wealth more, 348— The "Iron Law" 
Misunderstood by Socialists, 350— The "Iron Law" itself 
Unsound, 353 — The Rate of Wages really Depends on the per 
capita Production, 354— Prospects of Increasing per capita 
Productitm, 360— Piece Work, 362 —Shorter Day of Labour, 367 
— 2nd, Alleged Multiplications of Vicissitudes, 374— Effects of 
Machinery, 373 — Temporary Redundancies, 374 — Serious 
Redundancies Lessening, 375 — Value of Good System of Com- 
mercial Statistics, 377— 3rd, Alleged Ex-propriation of the 
Value of the Labourer's Work, 378— How Value is Constituted, 
379— Justice of Interest, 381— Social Importance of Work 
of CapitaliMt Employer, 383 --Public Value of Private 
Property, 387— Value of Freedom, :iSH—Laissez Faire, 391— 
Social Mission of the State, 393— Necessity for Diffusion of 
Property, 395— For Opportunities of Investment, 395— Co- 
operative Production, 396 — Advantage of Interlacing of 
Classes, 398 — Reason of exceptionally good House Accommoda- 
tion among Working Classes of Sheffield, 399. 


Mr George Predicts that his Book would find Apostles, 404— 
Fuliilraent of the Prediction, 405— Sisyphism, 406— Loses his 
Religions Belief through Perception of Poverty, 407— Recovers 
it again, 409— Ist, His Problem, 410— Its unverified Assump- 
tion, 411— Evidence of Facts against it, 413— Average Scale 
of Living has Risen, 414 — Proportion of Paupers, unable to 
obtain it, has Declined, 415— Special Decline of Able-bodied 


PauperiBin, 416— Increase of Length of Life, 419— Mr Greorge 
Changes his Problem from one of Qoantity to one of Proportion, 
421— Rent really no laiger Proportion of National Wealth 
or even of Agricnltural Prodace than before, 423— Wages 
no Smaller Proportion, 425— Indications of Increasing Dis- 
tribution of Wealth, 427— 2nd, Mr George's Explanation, 431 
—Alleged Tendency of Wages to a Minimum that gives but a 
Bare Living, 432— The Wages Fund and Population Theories, 
435— Mr George's Ne.w Population Theory, 437— His >'ew 
Wages Funtl Theory, 441— His Explanation of the Distribution 
of Wealth without taking Profits into Account, 448— Views on 
Rent, 451— on Interest, 461— Wages, 461— Margin of Culti- 
vation, 462 — Absurdities of his Explanation, 464— 3rd, Mr 
George's Remedy, 466— Land Nationalisation Movement in 
England, 467— Futility of Mr George's Remedy, 468— Confis- 
cation, 471 — Difference of Mr Ge<»rj;e'ft Proposal from Mr 
Mill's, 472— Agricultural Land as truly the Fruit of Labour as 
other Commodities, 473— Real Distinction between Land and 
other Property, 476— Social Claim on all Property, - 477— Is 
Private Property the best Guarantee for the most Productive 
use of Land ? 478 — Land Nationalisation no Assistance to the 
Reforms that are Needed, 482. 



It was a common topic of congratulation at the 
Exhibition of 1862 that the political atmosphere of 
Europe was then entirely free from the revolutionary 
alarms which overclouded the first Exhibition in 
1861 ; but in that very year the old clouds began to 
gather once more at different quarters of the horizon. 
It was in 1862 that Lassalle delivered to a club of 
working men in Berlin his address on ''The present 
Epoch of the World, and the Idea of the Working 
Class," which was published shortly afterwards under the 
title of " The Working Man's Programme," and which 
has been called by his friends " The Wittemberg Theses " 
of the new socialist movement; and it was at the 
Exhibition itself that those relations were established 
between the delegates of English and French trade 
societies which issued eventually in the organisation 
of the International. The double train thus laid has 
put in motion a propaganda of social revolution more 
vigorous, widespread, and dangerous than any which 
has preceded it 

^t though the reappearance of socialism was not 
immediately looked for at the time, it could cause no 
serious surprise to any one who considered how nearly 



the socialist theory is allied with some of the ruling 
ideas of modem times, and how many points of 
attraction it presents at once to the impatient philan- 
thropy of enthusiasts, to the passions of the multitude, 
and to the narrow but insistent logic of the nimierous 
class of minds that make little account of the complexity 
of life. Socialism will probably never keep long away 
during the present transitional period of society, and 
there is therefore less interest in the mere fact of its 
reappearance than in marking the particular form in 
which, after a prolonged retirement, it has actually 
returned ; for this may perhaps be reasonably taken to 
be its most vital and endiuing type, and consequently 
that with which we shall mainly have to reckon in the 

- Now the present movement is, before all, political 
and revolutionary. The philanthropic and experimental 
forms of socialism, which played a conspicuous r61e 
before 1848, perished then in the wreck of the 
Revolution, and have never risen to life again. The old 
schools have dispersed. Their doctrines, their works, 
their very hopes, have gone. The theories of man's entire 
dependence on circumstances, of the rehabilitation of the 
flesh, of the passional attraetion, once in everybody's 
mouth, have sunk into oblivion. The communities 
of Owenites, St Simonians, Fourierists, Icarians, which 
multiplied for a time on both sides of the Atlantic, 
are extinct. The socialists of the present day have 
discarded all belief in the possibility of effecting any 
social regeneration except by means of political authority, 
and the first 'object of their endeavours is therefore the 
conquest of the powers of the State. There are some 


exceptions, but these are very unimportant. The 
communistic societies of the United States, for instance, 
are mostly organisations of eccentric religious sects 
which have no part or influence in the life of the 
century. The Colinsian Collectivists, followers of the 
Belgian socialist, Colins, are a mere handful ; and the 
Familistfere of Guise in France — ^a remarkable institution, 
founded since 1848, by an old disciple of Fourier, though 
not on Fourier's plan — stands quite alone, and has no 
imitators. Non-political socialism may accordingly 
be said to have practically disappeared. 

Not only so, but out of the several sorts and varieties 
of political socialism, only one has revived in any 
strength, and that is the extremest and most revolu- 
tionary. It is the democratic conununism of the Young 
H^elians, and it scouts the very suggestion of State- 
help, and will content itself with nothing short of State- 
transformation. Schemes such as were popular and noisy 
thirty years ago — schemes, involving indeed organic 
changes, but organic changes of only a partial character — 
have gone to their rest Louis Blanc, for example, was 
then a name of some power ; but remarkably enough, 
though Louis Blanc was but the other day buried with 
great honour, his Organisation of Labour seems to be as 
completely forgotten as the Circulus of Leroux. M. G. 
de Molinari writes an interesting account of the debates 
that took place in the working men's clubs o£ Paris in 
the year 1868-9 — the first year they were granted 
liberty of meetmg after the establishment of the Second 
Empire — ^and he states that while Fourier and Cabet 
were still quoted by old disciples, though without any 
idea of their systems being of practical moment. 


Louis Blanc's name was not even mentioned. 
Proudhon's gospel of a state bank of mutual credit for 
furnishing labourers with capital, by issuing inconvertible 
notes without money and without price, has still a 
sprinkling of Mthful believers, who call themselves 
Mutualists ; but they are extremely few, and, as a rule, 
the socialists of France at the present day, like those of 
Qermany, put their biih in iron rather than paper. 
What they want is a democracy of labour, to use one of 
their -own phrases — ^that is, a state in which power and 
y property shall be based on labour ; where citizenship shall 
depend on a labour qualification, instead of a qualifica- 
tion of birth or of property ; where there shall be no 
citizen who enjoys without labouring, and no citizen 
who labours without eiyoying ; where every one who is 
able to work shall have employment, and every one who 
has wrought shall retain the whole produce of his 
labour; and where accordingly, as the indispensable 
prerequisite of the whole scheme, the land of the 
country and all other instruments of production shall be 
made the joint property of the conununity, and the 
conduct of all industrial operations be placed under the 
direct administration of the State. Furthermore, all 
this is contended for as a matter of simple right and 
justice to the labouring classes, on the ground that the 
wealth of the nation belongs to the hands that made it ; 
it is contended for as an obligation of the State, 
because the State is held to be merely the organised 
will of the people, and the people is the labouring class ; 
and it is contended for as an object of immediate 
accomplishment — if possible, by ordinary constitutional 
means, but, if not, by revolution. 


This is the form in which socialism has re-appeared, 
and it may be described in diree words as Revolutioiu^ 
Socialist Democnracy. The movement is divided into 
two main branches — German Socialism and Russian 
Nihilism — but the differences between these two branches 
are only such as ihe same movement might be expected 
to exhibit in passii^ through different media^ personal 
or national Modem democrats have been long divided 
into Centralists and Federalists — ^the one party seeking 
to give to the democratic repuUic they contemplate a 
strongly centralised form of government, and the other 
jMreferring to leave the local conmiunes comparatively 
independent and sovereign, and free, if they choose, to 
nnite themselves in convenient federations. The federal 
republic has always been the fervourite ideal of the 
Democrats of Spain and of the Communards of Paris, 
and there is generally a tendency among Federalists, in 
thdr impatience of all central authority, to drop the 
element of federation out of their ideal altogether and 
to advocate the form of opinion known as " anarchy " — 
that is, the abolition of all superior government It was 
very natural that this ancient feud among the democrats 
should appear in the ranks of socialist democracy, and 
it was equally natural that the Russian Radicals, hating 
the autocracy of their counta7 and idealising its rural 
communes, should become the chief adherents of the 
federalist and even the anarchic tradition. 

This is the only point of principle that separates 
nihilism from socialism. In other respects nihilism 
may be said to be but an exi^mer phase of socialirao. 
It indulges in more violent methods and in a more 
omnivorous spirit of destruction. Its fury takes a wider 


sweep; it attacks all current beliefis and all existing 
institutions; it puts its hopes in universal chaos. I 
shall endeavour in a future chapter to explain, from 
peculiarities of the national character and culture, why 
this gospel of chaos should find so much acceptance in 
Russia ; but it is no exclusively Russian product. It 
was preached with singular coolness, as will be subse- 
quently shown, by some of the Young Hegelians of 
Germany before 1848, and it obtains among the more 
volatile members of most socialist organisations stilL 
Attacks on religion, patriotism, the family, are very 
usual accessories of their practical agitations everywhere. 
As institutions and beliefs are seen to lend strength to 
each other, teeth set on edge against one are easily 
brought to gnash at all. A sharp check from the public 
authority generally brings out to the front this extremer 
element in Grerman socialism. After the repressive 
legislation of 1878 the German socialists struck the 
restriction of proceeding "by legal methods" out of 
their progranmiie, and the wilder spirits among them 
would be content with nothing short of a policy of general 
destruction, and being expelled from the party, started 
an organisation of their own on thoroughly nihilist 
Unes. The nihilism and socialism of the present time 
developed from the same circle of opinion, for 
Bakunin and Chemycheffsky, the founders of the one, 
were Young Hegelians of the Extreme Left, as well as 
Marx and Lassalle, the founders of the other ; and they 
both show the same characteristics of being democratic 
and revolutionary even more than socialistic. 

Under these influences, the word socialism has come 


to contract a new meanings and is now generally 
defined in a way that would exclude the very theories 
it was originally invented to denote. Its political 
element — ^its demand on the public power in behalf of 
the labouring class — ^is taken to be the pith and essence 
of the system. Mr Caimes, for example, says that the 
circumstance which distinguishes socialism from all 
other modes of social speculation is its invocation of 
the powers of the State, and he finds feult with Mr 
Mill for describing himself in his ^^ Autobiography " as 
a socialist, merely because his ideal of ultimate 
improvement had more in conmion with the ideal of 
socialistic reformers than with the views of those who 
in contradistinction would be called orthodox. The 
passage from the "Autobiography" runs as follows : — 
"While we repudiated with the greatest energy that 
tyranny of society over the individual which most 
socialistic systems are supposed to involve, we yet 
looked forward to a time when society will no longer 
be divided into the idle and the industrious ; when the 
rule that they who do not work shall not eat will be 
applied, not to paupers only, but impartially to all ; 
when the division of the produce of labour, instead of 
depending, as in so great a degree it now does, on the 
accident of birth, will be made by concert on an 
acknowledged principle of justice ; and when it will no 
longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible for 
human beings to exert themselves strenuously in 
procuring benefits which are not to be exclusively theur 
own, but to be shared with the society they belong to/' 
(Autobiography, pp. 231-232). On this passage Mr 
Caimes observes : — " If to look forward to such a state 


ojf thiBgB as an ideal to be Btriven tot is sociaUaniy I at 
(mce acknowledge myself a socialist ; but it eeesm to 
me that the idea which 'socialism' conveys to most 
minds is not that of any particular form oi society to be 
realised at a future time when tibe character of human 
beings and the conditions o{ human life are widdly 
different from what they now are, but rather certain 
modes c^ action, more especially the employment of the 
powers of the State for the instant accomplishment of 
ideal schemes, which is the invariable attribute of all 
projects generally regarded m socialistic. So ^iktirely 
i& this the ease that it ia conunon to hear any proposal 
which is thought to involve an undue extension of the 
powers of the State branded as socialistic, whatever 
be the object it may seek to accomplish. Afl^ all, the 
question is one of nonii^^laiuie merely ; but people are 
so greatly governed by words that I cannot but r^^ 
that a philosophy of social life with which I so de^y 
sympathise, should be prejudiced by verbal associations 
fitted, as it seems to me, oaly to mislead." (Leading 
Principles of Political Economy, p. 316.) 

Mr Caimes's oty^tion ib just, for a reformer's position 
ought to be determined, not by the distant ideal he may 
think best, if the conditions were ripe for its realisation, 
but by the policy which he counts to be of present 
importance under the conditions that exist. He may 
cherish, as many orthodox economists do, the socialiat 
hope. He may look for a time when comfort and 
civilization shall be more universally and securdy 
diffused ; when heads and hands in the world of labour 
shall work together in amity ; when competition and 
exclusive private property and self-interest shall be 


•wallowed up in love and common labour. But he 
knows that the traBafiHrmation must be gradnal, and 
that the material conditions of it must never be pushed 
on in advance of the intellectual and moral. And this 
CMts him off by a whole diameter from those who are 
now known as socialists. In every question of the day 
he wiU be found in an c^posite camp from them. For 
he makes the ideal what it is and ought to be, the goal 
of his action ; they make it their starting-point, and the 
peculiarity of the case is that with their view of the 
situation they cannot make it anything else. For to 
their mind the struggle they are engaged in is not a 
struggle for amelioration, but for plain and elementary 
r^t It is not a question of {nroviding greater 
happiness tofr the greatest number ; it is a question of 
doing them bare justice, of giving them their own, of 
protecting them against a disguised but very real 
expropriation. They declare that, under the present 
industrial arrangements, the labouring classes are in effect 
robbed of most of the value of the work of their hands, 
and of course die suf^nession of systematic robbery is 
an immediate obligation of the present Justice is a 
basis to start from now, if possible, and not a dream to 
await hereafter. First let the labouring man have his 
rigjita, they cry^ and then and then only shall you have 
the way clear for any fru*ther parley about his friture. It 
ia larue that he is not the victim of individual rapacity 
so much as (^ the system, and that he cannot get his 
rights till the system ia completely changed, but the sys- 
tem, they aigue, can never be completely changed except 
bf tibe power of the State, and why then not change it 
at cmoe ? Now, it is obvious how to people who take 



this view of the matter there should seem no other 
alternative but an instant reconstruction of industrial 
society at the hands of the State. For if it is justice 
that has to be done, then it appears only natural to 
conclude that it falls upon the State, as the organ of 
justice, to do it, and that it cannot do it too soon. The 
demand for the immediate accomplishment of their 
scheme by public authority is thus no accidental 
accessory of it merely, but is really inseparable from the 
ideas on which the scheme is founded. It is, in fact, so 
much, if I may use the word, the note of socialism 
wherever socialism makes itself heard in the world now, 
that it can only produce confusion to give the name of 
socialist to persons who hold this note in abhorrence, 
and virtually desire no more than the gradual triumph 
of co-operation. 

It may be answered that the latter, like the former, 
aim not at a mere reform of the present industrial 
system, but at an essential change in its fundamental 
principles — at an eventual suppression of exclusive 
property and unrestricted competition — and that it is 
therefore only proper to classify them with those who 
seek the like important end, however they may differ 
from the latter as to the means and seasons of action. 
This might be right, perhaps, if our only consideration 
were to frunish a philosophical classification of opinions, 
but we have to deal with a living and agitating party 
whose name and work are much canvassed, and there is 
at anyrate great practical inconvenience in extending 
the current designation of that party so as to include 
persons who object strongly to its whole inmiediate 
work ; to Rodbertus, for example, who wished private 


property to be converted into common property, but 
gave five hundred years at least for the process ; or to 
Maurice, who, believing sincerely enough that competi- 
tion was the tap-root of all evils, knew at the same 
time that it could not be extirpated by the State or 
by institutions of any kind without a moral and 
intellectual improvement of society. 

The inconvenience of this usage is increased by the 
circumstance that the term is even more frequently 
extended unduly in precisely the contrary direction. It 
is not only applied to persons who desire to see industrial 
society built on a new fundamental principle, even 
though they refuse to call the State to their coimsels in 
the matter at all, but it is very commonly applied to 
persons who have no wish whatever to alter the 
principle of the present system, merely because they 
invoke the exercise of authority for the execution of 
certain immediate reforms. For example, the Socialists 
of the Chair and the Christian Socialists of Germany 
contemplate nothing beyond correctives and palliatives 
of existing evils, but then they ask the State to 
administer them. They ask the State to inspect 
fistctories, or to legalise trades' unions, or to organise 
working class insurance, or to fix &ir wages. Their 
requests may be wise or foolish, but none of them, nor 
all of them together, would either subvert or transform 
the existing industrial system ; and those who propound 
them are called socialists merely because theysmake it 
part of the State's business to deal with social questions, 
or perhaps more particularly because they make it the 
State's business to deal with social questiobs. in the 
interest of the working class. This idea of socialism 

12 lyTBODUOTOllT* 

seems largely to govern the current employment of 
the term. We often hear any firesh extension of the 
functions of the State condemned as socialistic ev^i 
when the extension is not supposed to be made in the 
interests of the working class, or to be conducive to 
them. The purchase of the telegraphs was socialistic ; 
the proposal to purchase the railways is socialistic ; a 
national system of education is socialistic ; and an eecle- 
nastical establishment, if it were now brought forward 
as a new suggesticm, would be pronounced socialistic, 
toa Since, in a socialistic community, all power is 
assigned to the State, any measure which now increases 
the power of the State gets easily represented as an 
approach to socialism, especially in the want — ^and it is 
one of our chief wants at present— of a rational and 
discriminating theory of the jH^oper limits and q>here of 
public authority. 

But in the prevailing use of the word, there is 
generaUy the idea that the intervention of authority to 
which it is applied is undertaken to promote the 
well-being of the less fortunate classes of society. 
Since socialism seeks to construct what may be called 
a working class State, where the material welfsure of 
each shall be the great object of the organisation of all, 
it is common to represent as socialistic any proposal 
that asks the State to do something for the material 
well-being of the working class, and to describe any 
group of such proposals or any theory that fervours them 
by the name of socialism. The so-called State-Sociidism 
of Prince Bismarck, for example, is only, as he has 
himself declared, a following-out of the traditions of 
the House of Hohenzollem, the princes of that dynasty 

nrraoDTJCfroKT. 13 

having always counted it one of their first duties as 
rulers to exercise a special protection and solicitude 
over the poorer classes of their subjects. The old ideas 
of feudal protection and paternal government have 
chaims for many minds that deplore the democratic 
spirit of modem society. In Germany they have been 
maintained by the feudal classes, the court, and the 
clergy; their presence in the general intellectual 
atmosphere there has probably fecilitated the dififusion 
of socialistic views ; and they have certainly led to 
the curious phenomenon of a Conservative Socialism, in 
which the most obstinately Conservative interests in the 
countiy go to meet the Social Democrats half-way, and 
promise to do everything to get them better wages if 
they will but come to church again and pray for the 
Kaiser. The days of feudal protection and paternal 
government are gone ; as idealised by Carlyle they 
perhaps never existed ; at anyrate, in an age of equality 
they are no longer possible; but their modem counter- 
parts are precisely the ideas of social protection and 
fraternal government which find their home among 
socialists. On the strength of this analogy, Prince 
Bismarck and his imperial master are sometimes spoken 
of as socialists, because they believe, like the latter, that 
the State should exercise a general or even a particular 
providence over the industrial classes. But socialism 
is more than such a belief. It is not only a theory of 
the State's action, but a theory of the State's action 
founded on a theory of the labourer's right It is at 
bottom a demand for social justice. It tells us that an 
enlargement of social justice was made when it was 
declared that every man shall be free — or, in other 


words, that every man shall possess completely his own 
powers of labom* ; and it claims that a new enlargement 
of social justice shall be made now, to declare that 
every man shall possess the whole produce of his labour. 
Now, this claim of right is really at the bottom of the 
whole movement, and necessitates both the invocation 
of authority and the demand for immediate realisation, 
as well as the conununistic changes proposed to realise 
it by. Those who are known as Conservative Socialists, 
in patronising the working people, do not dream of 
countenancing any such claim, or of admitting in the 
least that there is anything positively unjust in the 
present industrial system. Xone of them would go 
further than to say that the economic position of the 
labourer is insufficient to satisfy his legitimate aspirations 
in a civilized community ; few of them would go so far. 
It is therefore only confusing to class them among 
socialists. M. Limousin speaks of a '^ minimum of 
socialism.'' He would call no man a socialist who does 
not hold this minimum, and he would call every man a 
socialist who does hold it. And the minimum of 
socialism, in his opinion, is this, that the State owes 
a special duty of protection to labourers because they are 
poor, and that this duty consists in securing to them a 
more equitable part in the product of general labour. 
The latter clause might have been better expressed in 
less general terms, but that may pass. The definition 
recognises at any rate that the paternal or the fraternal 
theory of government does not of itself constitute 
socialism, and that this must be combined with the 
demand for a new distribution of wealth on grounds of 
justice or equity, before we have even the minimum of 


socialism. Mill holds a more or less socialistic idea of 
what a just society would be ; Bismarck holds a more 
or less socialistic view of the functions of the State ; but 
neither of these ideas separately make up the minimum 
of socialism ; and it would therefore be misleading to call 
either of them by that name, while to call both by it 
would be hopeless confusion, since the one politician 
holds exactly what the other rejects, and no more. But, 
after all, it is of less importance to define socialism in 
the abstract than to describe the actual concrete 
socialism that has organisation and life, especially as 
the name is only transferred in common speech to all 
these varying shades of opinion, because they are 
thought to resemble that concrete socialism in one 
feature or another. 

Having now ascertained the general nature of the 
contemporary socialistic movement, we shall be in a 
better position to judge of its bearings and importance. 
We have seen that the only form of socialism which 
has come to life again since 1848, is the political and 
revolutionary phase of Social Democracy. Now, this 
was also the original form in which socialism first 
appeared in modem Eiu*ope at the time of the earlier 
Revolution of 1789. The tradition it represents is con- 
sequently one of apparently vigorous vitality. It has 
kept its place in European opinion for a hundred years, 
it seems to have grown with the growth of the demo- 
cratic spirit, and it has in our own day broken out 
simultaneously in most of the countries of the continent, 
and in some of them with remarkable energy. A 
movement like this, which seems to have taken a 

16 nrrmoDUOTORT. 

ocmtinuous and extenBive hold of the popular miady 
and which moreover has a consciongness of right, 
a passion for social justice, however mistaken, at the 
heart of it, cannot be treated lightly as a political force ; 
but at the same time its consequence is apt to be greatly 
overrated both by the hopes of sanguine adherents and 
by the apprehensions of opponents. Socialists are 
incessantly telling us that their system is the last word 
of the Revolution, that the current which broke 
loose over Eiu*ope in 1789 is setting, as it could 
not help setting, in their direction, and that it 
can only find its final level of repose in a 
democratic communism. Conservative Cassandras tell 
us the same thing, for the Extreme Right takes the 
same view as the Extreme Left does of the logical 
tendency of measures. They feel things about them 
moving everywhere towards equality, they feel them- 
selves helpless to resist the movement, and they are sure 
they shall waken one morning in a social revolution. 
Stfdil, for example, thought democracy necessarily 
conducted to socialism, and that wherever democracy 
entered, socialism was already at the door. A few 
words wiU therefore be still necessary towards explaining, 
first, the historical origin of modem socialism ; second, 
the relations of socialism to democracy, and, finally, the 
extent and character of the spread of the present 

Respecting the first of these three points, modem 
socialism was generated out of the notions about 
property and the State which appeared towards the close 
of last century in the course of the speculations then 
in vogue on the origin and objects of civil society, and 


which were proclaimed about the same time by many 
diflFerent writers — by Brissot, by Mably, by Morelly, and 
above all by RousseaiL Their great idea was to restore 
what they called the state of nature, when primitive 
equality still reigned, and the earth belonged to none, 
and the fruits to all They taught that there was no 
foundation for property but need. He who needed a 
thing had a right to it, and he who had more than he 
needed was a thief. Rousseau said every man had 
naturally a right to whatever he needed ; and Brissot, 
anticipating the famous words of Proudhon, declared 
that in a state of nature " exclusive property was theft." 
It was so in a state of natiu^, but it was so also in a 
state of society, for society was built on a social contract, 
'* the clauses of which reduce themselves to one, viz., 
the total transfer of each associate, with all his rights, to 
the commiurity." The individual is thus nothing, the 
State is all in all. Property is only so much of the 
national estate conditionally conceded to the individual. 
He has the right to use it, because the State permits him, 
while the State permits him, and how the State permits 
him. So with every other right ; he is to think, speak, 
train his children, or even beget them, as the State 
directs and allows, in the interest of the common good. 

These ideas circulated in a diffuse state till 1793. 
They formed as yet neither system nor party. But 
when Joseph Baboeuf, discarding his Christian name of 
Joseph (because, as he said, he had no wish for Joseph's 
virtues, and so saw no good in having him for his 
patron saint), and taking instead the ominous name of 
Caius Gracchus, organised the conspiracy of the Egaux 
in that yefU*, then modem socialism b^an, and it 



began in the form in which it stiU survives. Baboeuf s 
ambition was to found what he called a true democratic 
republic, and by a true democratic republic he meant 
one in which all inequalities, whether of right or of feet, 
should be abolished, and every citizen should have 
enough and none too much. It was vain, he held, to 
dream of making an end of privilege or oppression until 
all property came into the hands of the Government, 
and was statedly distributed by the Government to the 
citizens on a principle of scrupulous equality. Misled 
by the name Caius Gracchus, people thought he wanted 
an agrarian law and equal division. But he told them 
an agrarian law was folly, and equal division would not 
last a twelvemonth, if the participants got the property 
to themselves. What he wanted, he said, was 
something much more sublime — it was community of 
goods. Equality could only be made enduring through 
the abolition of private property. The State must be 
sole proprietor and sole employer, and dispense to every 
man his work according to his particular skill, and his 
subsistence in honourable sufficiency according to his 
wants. An individual who monopolised anything over 
and above such a sufficiency committed a social theft. 
Appropriation was to be strictly limited to and by 
personal need. 

Baboeuf saw no difficulty in working the scheme; 
was it not practised every day in the army, with 1,200,000 
men ? If it were said, the soil of France is too small to 
sustain its population in the standard of sufficiency 
contemplated, then so much the worse for the superflu* 
ous population ; let the greater landlords first, and then 
as many sansculottes as were redundant, be put out of 


the way for their countiyB good. He actually aacribed 
this intention to Robespierre, and spoke of the Terror as 
if it were an excellent anticipation of MalthusianisnL 
Did any one say that, without inequalities, progress would 
cease and arts and civilization decay, Baboeuf was 
equally prepared to take the consequences. " Perish 
the arts," said a manifesto discovered with him at his 
apprehension, " but let us have real equality." " All 
evils," he said in his newspaper, "are on their trial. 
Let them all be confounded. Let everything return to 
chaos, and from chaos let there rise a new and regenerated 

We have here just the revolutionary socialist demo- 
cracy that is still rampant over Europe. Socialists now 
indeed generally make light of the difficulty of 
over-population which Baboeuf solved so glibly with the 
guillotine, and they contend that their system would 
humanize civilization instead of destroying it. They 
follow, too, a different tradition from Baboeuf regarding 
the right of property. While he built that right on need, 
they build it on labour. He said the man who has more 
than he needs is a thief ; they say the man who has more 
than he wrought for is a thief. He would have the 
State to give every man an honourable sufficiency right 
off, according to his need ; they ask the State to give 
every man according to his work, or, if unfit for work, 
according to his need, and they hold that this rule would 
afford every one an honourable sufficiency. But these 
differences are only refinements on Baboeuf s plan, and 
its main features remain — equality of conditions, nation- / 
alisation of property, democratic tyranny, a uniform 
medium fSettal to progress, an omnipresent mandarin 


control crushing out of the people that energy of 
character which W. von Humboldt said was the first 
and only virtue of man, because it was the root of all 
other excellence and advancement. In short, socialists 
now seek, like Baboeuf, to establish a democratic republic 
— a society built on the equal manhood of every citizen 
— ^and, like Baboeuf, they think a true democratic 
republic is necessarily a socialistic one. 

This brings me to the next point I mentioned, the 
interesting problem of the true relations of socialism to 
democracy. Is socialism, as Stahl and others represent, 
an inevitable corollary of democracy ? If so, our interest 
in it is very real, and very immediate. For democracy 
is already here, and is at present engaged in every 
country of Europe hi the very work of reorganising the 
social system into harmony with democratic require- 
ments. Its hammer may make little sound in some 
places, but the work proceeds none the less effectually 
for the silence, and it will proceed, slowly or more 
rapidly, until all the institutions of the country have 
been renovated by the democratic spirit. Will the 
social system, which will result from the process, be 
socialism ? " The gradual development of the principle 
of equality," says De Tocqueville, "is a providential 
fact. It has all the characteristics of such a fact. It is 
universal ; it is durable ; it constantly eludes all human 
interference ; and all events, as well as all men, contribute 
to its progress. Would it be wise to imagine that a 
social movement, the causes of which lie so fiix back, can 
be checked by the efforts of one generation ? Can it be 
believed that the democracy which has overthrown the 


feudal system and vanquished kings will retreat before 
tradesmen and capitalists? Will it stop now that it 
has grown so strong, and its adversaries so weak ?" If, 
then, the natural tendency of democracy is to socialism, 
to socialism we must eventually go. 

But the natural tendency of democracy is not to 
socialism. A single plain but remarkable &ct suffices 
to establish that. Democracy has been in full bloom in 
America for more than a century, and there are no 
traces of socialism there except among some German 
immigrants of yesterday ; for, of course, the communism 
of the eccentric religious sects of America proceeds from 
religious ideals, and has no bearing one way or other on 
the social tendency of democracy. The labouring class 
is politically everything in that country — everything at 
least that electoral power can make them in an elective 
republic ; and they have never shown any desire to use 
their political power to become socially everything or to 
interfere with the freedom of property. Had this been 
in any way the necessary effect of democratic institu- 
tions, it must have by this time made its appearance in 
the United States. De Tocqueville indeed maintains 
that so far from there being any natural solidarity 
between democracy and socialism, they are absolutely 
contrary the one to the other. ' " Democracy," he 
said in a speech in the Republican Parliament of 
France in 1849, "extends the sphere of individual 
independence, socialism contracts it. Democracy gives 
every individual man his utmost possible value, socialism 
makes every man an agent, an instrument, a cipher. 
Democracy and socialism coincide only in the single 
word equality, but observe the difference : democracy 


desires equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in 
compulsion and servitude." ^ 

That is so &r substantially true, but it cannot be 
received altogether without qualification. We have had 
experience in modem times of two different forms of 
democracy, which may be called the American and the 
Continental. In America equality came as it were by 
nature, without strife and without so much as observa- 
tion ; the colonists started equal. But freedom was 
only won by sacrifice; the first pilgrims bought it by 
exile ; the founders of the Republic bought it a second 
time by blood. Liberty therefore was their treasure, 
their ark, their passion ; and having been long trained in 
habits of self-government, they acquired in the daily 
exercise of their liberty that strong sense of its practical 
value, and that subtle instinct of its just limits, which 
always constitute its surest bulwarks. With them the 
State was nothing more than an association for mutual 
protection — an association, like any other, having its 
own definite work to do and no more, and receiving 
from its members the precise powers needed for that 
work and no more ; and they looked with a jealousy, 
warm from their history and life, on any extension of 
the State's functions or powers beyond those primary 
requirements of public safety or utility which they laid 
upon it. In the United States property is widely dif- 
fused ; liberty has been long enjoyed by the people as a 
fiw5t as well as loved by them as an ideal ; the central 
authority has ever been held in comparative check ; and 
individual rights are so general a possession that any 
encroachment upon them in the name of the majority 
would always tread on interests numerous and strong 


enoo^ to raise an effectual resistance. Democracy has 
in America, accordingly, a soil most &vourable to its 
healthy growth ; the history, the training, and the 
circumstances of the people all concur to support 

But on the Continent democracy sprang from very 
different antecedents, and possesses a very different 
character. Equality was introduced into France by 
convulsion, and has engrossed an undue share of her 
attention since. Freedom, on ihe other hand, has been 
really less desired thaA power. The Revolution found 
the affairs of that country administered by a strong 
centralised organisation, with its hand everywhere and on 
everything, and the Revolution left them so. Revolution 
has succeeded revolution; dynasties and constitutions 
have come and gone ; almost every part of the political 
and social system has suffered change; the form of 
government has been republic, empire, monarchy, empire, 
and republic again ; but the authority of government, its 
sphere, its attributes, have remained throughout the 
same. Each party in succession has seized the power of 
the State, but none has sought to curb its range. On 
the contrary, their temptation lay the other way ; they 
have been always so bent on using the authority and 
mechanism of government to impair or suppress the 
influence of their adversaries, whom they regarded as at 
the same time the adversaries of the State, that they 
could only wish that authority to be larger and that 
mechanism more perfect than they abready were. Even 
the more popular parties are content to accept the exist- 
ing over-government as the normal state of affairs, and 
always strive to gain the control of it rather than to 


restrain its action. And so it has come about that, 
while they sought liberty for themselves, they were afraid 
to grant it to their opponents, for fear their opponents 
should be able to get the authority of this too powerful 
administration into their hands and serve them in the 
san^e way. The struggle for freedom has thus been 
corrupted into a stru^le for power. That is the secret 
of the pathetic story of modem France. That is why, 
with all her marvellous eflForts for liberty, she has never 
fiiUy possessed it, and that is why she seems condemned 
to instability. 

A growing minority of the democratic party in France 
is indeed opposed to this unfortunate over-government, 
but the democratic party in general has always coimten- 
anced it, perhaps more than any other party, because to 
their minds government represents the will of the people, 
and the people can not be supposed to have any reason to 
restrain its own will. Besides, they are still dominated 
by the doctrines of Rousseau and the other revolutionary 
writers who looked with the utmost contempt on the 
American idea of the State being a kind of joint-stock 
association organised for a circumscribed purpose and 
with limited powers, and who held the State, on the 
contrary, to be the organ of society in all its interests, 
desires, and needs, and to be invested with all the 
powers and rights of all the individuals that compose it. 
Under the social contract, by which they conceived the 
State to be constituted, individuals gave up all their 
rights and possessions to the community, and got them 
back immediately afterwards as mere State concessions, 
which there could be no injustice in withdrawing again 
next dBij for the greater good of the community. Instead 


of enjoying equal freedom as men, the great object was 
to make them eigoj equal completeness as citizens. 

From historical conditions like these there has sprung 
up on the Continent — in Germany as well as France — 
a quite diflTerent type of democracy from the American, 
and this type of democracy, while it may not be the 
best, the truest, or the healthiest type of it, has a 
tendency only too natural towards socialism. It contains 
in its very build and temperament organic conditions 
that predispose it to socialism as to its peculiarly 
besetting disease. It evinced this tendency very early in 
the history of the Revolution. As Ledru-Rollin reminded 
De Tocqueville, in replying to his speech, the right to 
labour on the part of the strong and the right to 
assistance on the part of the weak were already 
acknowledged by the Convention of 1793. These claims 
may be said to constitute the very A B C of socialism, 
and they have always moved with more or less energy 
in the democratic tradition of the Continent. Democracy, 
guided by the spirit of freedom, will resist socialism ; but 
authoritative democracy, such as finds &vour abroad, 
leans strongly towards it. A democratic despotism is 
obviously more dangerous to property than any other, 
inasmuch as the despot is, in this case, more insatiable, 
and his rapacity is so easily hid and even sanctified 
under the general considerations of humanity that always 
mingle with it. 

It is therefore manifest that the question whether 
political democracy must end in social, is one that 
cannot be answered out of hand by deduction from the 
idea. The development will diflFer in different countries, 
for it depends on historical conditions, of which the 


mcNst important is that I have now touched on, whether 
the national character and circumstances are calculated 
to guide that development into the form of democratic 
liberty or into the form of democratic tyranny. A second 
condition is scarcely less important, viz., whether the laws 
and economical situation of the country have conduced 
to a dispersion or to a concentration of property. For 
even in the freest democracy individual property can 
only be permanently sustained by diffusion, and, if 
existing conditions have isolated it into the hands of 
the few, the many will lie under a constant, and in 
emergencies, an irresistible temptation to take freedom 
in their hand and force the distribution of property by 
law, or nationalise it entirely by a socialistic recon- 
struction. It used to be a maxim in former days that 
power must be distributed in some proportion to 
property, but with the advent of democracy the maxim 
must be converted, and the rule of health will now be 
found in having property distributed in some proportion 
to power. That is the natural price of stability under 
a democratic regime. A penniless omnipotence is an 
insupportable presence. When supreme power is vested 
in a majority of the people, property cannot sit securely 
till it becomes so general a possession that a majority of 
the people has a stake in its defence, and this point will 
not be reached until at least a large minority of them 
are actually owners, and the rest enjoy a reasonable 
prospect of becoming so by the exercise of care and 
diligence in their ordinary avocations. 

The future thus stands before us with a solenm 
choice: property must either contrive to get widely 
diffused or it will be nationalised altogether; and the 


£Eite of free institutions hangs upon the dilemma. For 
in a democratic community the peril is always near. De 
Tocqueville may be right in saying that such com- 
munities, if left to themselves, naturally love liberty ; 
but there are other things they love more, and this 
profound political philosopher has himself pointed out 
with what exceptional vigour they nourish two powerful 
passions, either of which, if it got the mastery, would 
prove fatal to freedom. One is the love of equality. 
" I think," says he, " that democratic communities have 
a natural taste for freedom; left to themselves they 
will seek to cherish it, and view every privation of it 
with regret. But for equaUty their passion is ardent, 
insatiable, insistent, invincible ; they call for equality in 
freedom, and if they cannot obtain that, they still call 
for equality in slavery. They will endure poverty, 
servitude, pauperism, but they will not endure aristo- 
cracy." The other is the unreined love of material 
gratification. By this De Tocqueville does not mean 
sensual corruption of manners, for he believes that 
sensuality will be more moderate in a democracy than 
in other forms of society. He means the passion for 
material comfort above all other things, which he 
describes as the peculiar passion of the middle classes ; 
the complete absorption in the pursuit of material 
well-being and the means of material well-doing, to the 
disparagement and disregard of every ideal consideration 
and interest, as if the chief end and whole dignity of 
man lay in gaining a conventional standard of comfort 
When a passion like this spreads from the classes whose 
vanity it feeds to the classes whose envy it excites, 
social revolution is at the gates, and tins is one of De 


Tocqueville's gravest apprehensions in contemplating 
the advance of democracy. For he says that the 
passion for material well-being has no check in a 
democratic community except religion, and if religion 
were to decline — ^and the pursuit of comfort undoubtedly 
impairs it — then liberty would perish. " For my part," 
he declares, " I doubt whether man can ever support at 
once complete religious independence and entire public 
freedom ; and I am inclined to think that if fedth be 
wanting in him he must serve, and if he be free he must 
believe." It is impossible therefore, in an age when the 
democratic spirit has grown so strong and victorious, to 
avoid taking some reasonable concern for the Aiture of 
liberty, more especially as at the same time the sphere and 
power of government are being everywhere continually 
extended, the devotion to material well-being, and what 
is called material civilization, is ever increasing, and 
religious faith, particularly among the educated and the 
working classes, is on the decline. 

This is exactly the rock ahead of the modem State, of 
which we have been long warned by keen eyes aloft, 
and which seems now to stand out plainly enough to 
ordinary observers on the deck. Free institutions run 
continual risk of shipwreck when power is the posses- 
sion of the many, but property — from whatever cause-^ 
the enjoyment of the few. With the advance of demo- 
cracy a diffusion of wealth becomes almost a necessity 
of State. And the difficulty only begins when the 
necessity is perceived. For the State cannot accomplish 
any lasting or effective change in the matter without 
impairing or imperilling the freedom which its interven- 
^on is meant to protect — without, in short, becoming 


socialist, for fear of socialism ; and when it has done its 
best it finds that the solution is still subject to moral 
and economical conditions which it has no power to 
control./ In trade and manufactures, which occupy such 
vast and increasing proportions of the population of 
modem countries, the range of the State's beneficial or 
even possible action is very little ; and in these branches 
the natural conditions at present strongly favour con- 
centration or aggregation of capital. The small masters 
have simply been worsted in ordinary competition with 
the large producers, and so long as the large system of 
production continues the cheapest system of production, 
no other result can be expected. The social problem, 
therefore, so far as these branches are concerned, is to 
discover some form of co-operative arrangement which 
shall reconcile the large system of production with the 
interests of the labouring class, unless, indeed — what 
is for from impossible — the large system of production 
is itself to be superseded in the further advance of in- 
dustrial development. The economical superiority of 
that system depends greatly on the circumstance that 
the power now in use — water or steam — necessitates 
the concentration of machinery at one spot ; but Mr 
Babbage predicted fifty years ago that if a new power 
were to be discovered that could be generated in a 
central place in quantities sufficient for the requirements 
of a whole community, and then distributed, as gas is, 
wherever it was wanted, the age of domestic manu- 
foctures would return. Every little community might 
then find it cheaper, by saving carriage, and availing 
itself of cheaper local labour, to manufsEtcture for itself 
many of the articles now made for it at the large mills ; 


and the small factory or workshop, so suitable, among 
other advantages, for co-operative enterprise, would 
multiply everywhere. Now, have we such a power in 
electricity ? If so, not the least important effect of the 
new agent will be its influence on the diffusion of 
wealth, and its aid towards the solution of the social 
problem of the nineteenth century. 

With land and agriculture the situation is somewhat 
different The distribution of landed property has 
always depended largely on legal conditions, and since 
these conditions have — in this country at least — wrought 
for two centuries in favour of the aggregation of estates, 
their relaxation may reasonably be expected to operate 
to some extent in the contrary direction. Too much 
must not be built on this expectation, however, for the 
natural conditions are at present at least as partial to 
the large property as the legal. The abolition of entail 
and primogeniture, by emancipating the living proprietor 
from the preposterous tyranny of the dead, and by 
bringing to the burdened the privilege of sale, must 
necessarily throw greater quantities of land into the 
market than reach it now, but the redistribution of that 
land will as necessarily conform to the existing social 
and economical circumstances of the country ; and Eng- 
land will never cease to be characterised by the large 
property, so long as its social system lends exceptional 
consideration to the possession of land, and its com- 
mercial system is continually creating an exceptional 
number of large fortunes. The market for the large 
estate is among the wealthy, who buy land as an instru- 
ment of enjoyment, of power, of social ambition, and 
what with the wealth made at home and the wealth 




INTRODUOTORT. '\^5 ' 31 

made in the colonies, the number of this class is erer on 
the increase ; the natural market for the small estate, on 
the other hand, is among the farming class, to whom 
land is a commercial investment, and the farmers of 
England, unlike those of other countries, unlike those 
of our own country in former days, are as a rule posi- 
tively indisposed to purchase land, finding it more 
profitable to rent it This aversion, however, is much 
more influential with large &rmers than with small 
ones. It is commonly argued as if a small farmer who 
has saved money will be certain to employ it in taking 
a more extensive holding, but that is not so. On the 
contrary, he more usually leaves it in the bank ; in some 
parts of Scotland many small farmers have deposits of 
from £500 to £1000 lying there at interest ; they studi- 
ously conceal the £Eict, lest their landlords should hear 
of it, and raise their rent, and they submit to much 
inconvenience rather than withdraw any portion of it, 
once it is deposited. Their ruling object is security and 
not aggrandisement, and consequently if land were in 
the market in lots to suit them, they would be almost 
certain to become purchasers of land. In forecasting 
the possibility of the rise of a peasant proprietary in this 
country, it is often forgotten that, whether land is a 
profitable investment for the farmer or not, the class of 
fEurmers from whom such a proprietary would be gener- 
ated is less anxious for a profitable investment than for 
a safe one, and that to many of them, as of other classes, 
independence will always possess much more than a 
commercial value. 

But, however this may be, land is distributed by 
holdings as well as by estates, and in connection with 


our present subject the distribution by holdings is 
perhaps the more important thing of the two. " The 
magic of property " is no exclusive prerogative of the 
soil ; ownership in stock will carry the same political 
effects as ownership in anything else ; and a satisfactory 
system of tenant right may yield all the social and 
economical advantages of a peasant proprietary. In hct, 
tenant right, so far as it goes, is proprietorship, and it has 
before now developed into proprietorship even in name. 
The old lamented yeomanry of England were, the great 
majority of them, copyholders, and a copyholder was 
simply a tenant-at-will whose tenant right was con- 
solidated by custom into a perpetual and hereditary 
property ; and if the soil of England will ever again 
become distributed among as numerous a body of owners 
as held it in former ages, it will most likely occur through 
a similar process of consolidation of tenant right. But 
as it is — and though this is a truism, it is often over- 
looked in discussions on the subject — ^the tenants are 
owners as well as the landlords ; their interests enlist 
them on the side of stability ; they have a stake in the 
defence of property ; and even though the prevailing 
tendency to the accumulation of estates continues 
unchecked^ its peril to the State may be mitigated by the 
preservation and multiplication of small and comfortable 
holdings, which shall nourish a substantial and inde- 
pendent peasantry, and supply a hope and ambition to 
the rural labourers. That is so far well. We know that 
it is an axiom with Continental socialists that a 
revolution has no chance of success, however well 
supported it may be by the artisans of the towns, if the 
peasantry are contented and take no part in it ; and the 


most serious feature in more than one of the great 
countries of Europe at this moment is the miserable 
condition into which their agricultural labourers have 
been suffered to fall, and their practical exclusion from all 
opportunities of raising themselves out of it. The 
stability of Europe may be said to rest on the number 
of its comfortable peasantry ; the dam of the Revolution 
is the small farm. This is not less true of England than 
of the Continent, for although the agricultural population 
is vastly outnumbered by the industrial in this country, 
that consideration really increases rather than diminishes 
the political value of sustaining and multiplying a 
contented tenantry. 

Now England is the classical country of the large 
farm as well as of the large estate. Its holdings 
have always been larger than those of other nations ; 
they were so when half of them were owned by 
their occupiers, they are so still when they are rented 
fix)m great landlords. The large forms have grown 
larger ; a holding of 200 acres was counted a very 
large ferm in the time of the Commonwealth ; it would 
be considered a very moderate one in most English 
counties now. But yet the small farm has not gone the 
way of the small estate. The effects of consolidation 
have been balanced to such a degree by a simultaneous 
extension of the area of cultivation that the number of 
holdings in England is probably more considerable than 
it ever was before. If we may trust Gregory King's 
estimate, there were, 200 years ago, 310,000 occupiers of 
holdings in England, 160,000 owners, and 160,000 
tenants ; in 1880 there were, exclusive of allotments, 
which are now numerous, 295,313 holdings of 50 acres 


and under, and 414,804 holdings altogether. Moreover, 
the jFuture of the small fiBLrm is much more hopeful than 
the fixture of the small estate or the small factory. All 
admit the small holding to be preferable to the large for 
dairy fiBLrming and market gardening; and dairy farms 
and market gardens are two classes of holdings that 
must continue to multiply with the growth of the great 
towns. But even with respect to com crops, it is now 
coming to be well understood that the existing condi- 
tions of high ferming would be better satisfied by a 
smaller size of holding than has been in most favour 
with agricultural reformers hitherto ; because then, and 
then only, can the farmer be expected to bestow upon 
every rood of his ground that generous expenditure of 
capital, and that sedulous and minute care which are 
now necessary to make his business profitable. Without 
entering on the disputed question of the comparative 
productiveness of large and small farms, it ought to be 
remembered, in the first place, that th^ economical 
advantage of the large fiarm — ^the reason why the large 
farmer has been able to offer a higher rent than the 
smaller — is not so much because he produces more, as 
because he can afford to produce less ; and, in the next 
place, that the small fiarmer has heretofore wrought, not 
only with worse appliances than the large — ^which 
perhaps he must always do — but also with less 
knowledge of the theory of his art, and worse conditions 
of tenure — ^in both of which respects we may look for 
improvement in the immediate future. Even as it is, we 
find small farmers equalling the highest production of 
the country. In the evidence before the Duke of 
Richmond's Conunission, there is a case of a fermer of 


three acres producing 45 bushels per acre, or about 
twice the average of the season in those bad years that 
impoverished the larger fBumers. The same body of 
evidence seems to prove that the small &rmer has more 
staying power — a better capacity of weathering an 
agricultural crisis — than the large ; for he has much less 
frequently petitioned for a reduction of rent — an 
advantage which landlords may be expected not to 
overlook. He enjoys, too, a monopoly of the superior 
efficiency of interested labour, and as the personal 
efficiency of the labourer — his skiU, his knowledge, his 
watchfulness, his care — ^are becoming not less, but more 
important with the growth of scientific &rming, whether 
in com raising or cattle rearing, the small farm system 
will probably continue to hold, if not to enlarge, its 
place in modem agriculture ; and if it is able to do so, it 
will constitute one of the best buttresses against the 
social revolution. 

^ It remains to mark the spread of socialism in the 
various countries of Europe and America. Socialism 
being now, as we have seen, social democracy, we 
should expect to find it most widely and most acutely 
developed in those countries where, 1st, the social 
condition of the lower classes is most precarious, or, in 
other words, where property and comfort are ill 
distributed; 2nd, where political democracy is already 
a matter of popular agitation ; and, 3rd, where previous 
revolutions have left behind them an unquiet and 
revolutionary spirit — a "valetudinary habit," as Burke 
calls it, " of making the extreme medicine of the State 
its daily bread." That is very much what we do 

36 mTfeontJCToRY. 

find. An these conditions are present in Germany — the 
country in which socialism has made the most remark- 
able and rapid advance. Dr Engel, head of the 
Statistical Bureau of Prussia, states that in 1875 six 
million persons, representing, with their families, more 
than half the population of that State, had an income 
less than £21 a-year each; and only 140,000 persons 
had incomes above £150. The number of landed 
proprietors is indeed comparatively large. In 1861, 
there were more than two millions of them out of a 
population of 23,000,000 ; and in a country where half 
the people are engaged in agriculture this would at first 
sight seem to offer some assurance of general comfort. 
But then the estates of most of them are much too 
small to keep them in regular employment or to furnish 
them with adequate maintenance. More than a million 
hold estates of less than three acres each, and averaging 
little over an acre, and the soil is poor. The consequence 
is that the small proprietor is almost always over head 
and ears in debt. His property can hardly be called his 
own, and he pays to the usurer a much larger sum 
annually as interest than he could rent the same land 
for in the open market. More than half of these small 
estates lie in the Rhine provinces alone, and the 
distressed condition of the pisasantry there has been 
quite lately brought again before the attention of the 
legislature. But while thus in the west the agricultural 
population suffers seriously from the excessive subdivision 
of landed property, they are straitened in the eastern and 
northern provinces by their exclusion from it Prince 
Bismarck, speaking of the spread of socialism in a 
purely agricultural district like Lauenburg, which had 


excited surpri3e, sai4 ti^t this wouljd not seem 
remarkable to any one who fefljected tha-t, from the 
land legislation in that part of the country, the 
labourers could never hope to acquire the smallest spot 
of ground as their own posse^sloi), and were kept in a 
state of dependence on the gentry and the peasant 
proprietors. Half the land of Prussia is held by 31,000 
persons ; and emigration, which used to co^e chiefly 
from the eastern provinces, where subdivision had 
produced a large class of indigent proprietors, proceeds 
now predominantly from the quarters where large estatep 
abound. The diminution of emigration from the Rhine 
provinces is indeed one qause of the increase of distress 
among the peasant proprietary ; but why emigration has 
ceased, when there seems more motive for it, is not so 
clear. As yet, however, socialism has taken com- 
paratively slight hold of the rural population of Germany, 
because they are too scattered in most parts to combine ; 
but there exists in that country, as in others, a general 
conviction that the condition of the agricultural labourers 
i^ really a graver social question than the condition of 
the other industrial classes, and must be faced in most 
countries before long. Socialism has naturally made 
most way among the factory operatives of Germany, 
who enjoy greatest facilities for combination and mutual 
fomentation, and who besides, while better off in 
respect to wages than various other sections of work- 
people, are yet the most improvident and discontented 
class in the commimity. Then, in considering the 
circumstances of the labouring classes in Germany, it 
must be remembered that, through customs and indirect 
taxation of different kinds, they pay a larger share of 


the public burdens than they do in some countries, and 
that the obligation of military service is felt to be so 
great a hardship that more than a third of the extensive 
emigration which now takes place every year from the 
German empire is prompted by a desire to escape it 
Before the establishment of the empire only about a 
tenth part of the emigrants left the countiy without an 
official permit, but the proportion has been rising every 
year since then, and sometimes comes to nearly a hal£ 

Under these circumstances the strength of the Social 
Democratic party in that country is not surprising. In 
1877 they returned twelve candidates to the Reichstag, 
and gave a total vote of 497,000 ; and if we make allow- 
ance for constituencies where no socialist candidate 
appeared, we may count their electoral strength in that 
year to have been over 600,000. This would amount 
to no more than a tenth of the entire working class 
constituency of Germany, but then it was already much 
more numerous than some revolutionary organisations, 
as, for example, the Jacobins of France, that have suc- 
ceeded in seizing possession of power ; and, besides, the 
most striking element in the case was the rate of in- 
crease which the figures showed as compared with those 
of previous elections. In 1871, the socialist vote was 
only 160,000, and in 1874 it was only 350,000. What 
alarmed the Government most was the decided progress 
made by the movement in Berlin, for the rise of a strong 
revolutionary agitation among a dense population at the 
very seat of authority could not be viewed without 
concern. In 1876 only 1961 socialist votes were 
recorded in Berlin, and indeed before that time the 
movement had never found any favour among the work- 


ing classes of that city, in spite of the most zealous 
efforts of its ablest advocates. But in 1877 the vote in 
Berlin rose to 37,576, and in 1878 to 56,336. The 
government accordingly took occasion, from the succes- 
sive attempts made in the latter year upon the life of 
the Emperor by Hoedel and Nobiling, to institute^ with 
consent of Parliament, a series of repressive measures 
against socialism generally, placing Berlin in a state of 
siege, stopping the newspapers of the party, forbidding 
its meetings, expatriating its leaders or placing them 
under surveillance, and so on« These measures were 
renewed in 1881, but they have not been successftd in 
scotching the movement, which still makes its presence 
felt at opportunities, though we have now no means of 
ascertaining its actual strength. 

The rapidity of the spread of socialism has been even 
greater in America than in Germany, and that is at first 
sight striking, as taking place in a free country where 
property is more than usually di£Fused. But the fact is 
easily explained. American socialism is a mere episode 
of German socialism ; it is confined almost exclusively to 
the German population of the United States. A writer 
in the Ncyrth American Review for 1879, in mentioning 
that at the previous election the increase in the socialist 
vote at New York and Chicago was higher than the 
increase that had taken place at Berlin, goes on to say 
that this was mainly to be ascribed to German inunigra- 
tion, that the leaders of the movement in the United 
States were without exception Germans, and that at the 
first National Convention of Socialists at Philadelphia, 
in July 1876, three-fourths of those present were 


Socialism was imported into Austria very early from 
Prussia, and at first spread fester there than in the latter 
country. Austria is mainly an agricultural State^ and 
the circumstances of the peasantry and agricultural 
labourers have long occasioned more or less acute dis- 
content. Greater part of the land is held in very large 
estates by the clergy and nobility, and the evils of the 
old feudal regime are only now being gradually removed. 
There are 1,700,000 peasant proprietors in Cisleithania 
alone, but then their properties are seriously encumbered 
by the debt of their redemption from feudal servitudes, 
and by the severity of the public taxation. The land 
tax amounts to twenty-six per cent of the proprietor's 
income, and the indirect taxes on articles of consumption 
are numerous and burdensome. But three-fourths of 
the rural population are feum-servants or day labourers, 
and are worse off even than the same class elsewhere. 
A socialist organisation, with numerous branches, was 
soon formed in Austria, a few newspapers were estab- 
lished, mass meetings were held, and in December 1869 
a mob of 100,000 men presented themselves at the door 
of the Reichsrath on the first day of the session, and 
sent a deputation to Count Taaffe demanding frill liberty 
of meeting, associating, and printing. At this the 
authorities took alarm, and repressive measures were 
immediately adopted, which have remained in force ever 
since. Socialism is therefore comparatively little heard 
of in Austria, but this result is due less to the policy of 
repression than to other circumstances. In the first 
place, the eternal struggle of nationalities, which is at 
once the plague and the salvation of that singularly- 
compounded empire, has cast eveiy other agitation into 


the shade. The heterogeneous character of the monarchy 
saves it from the developed virulence of socialist democ- 
racy, as it saves it from various other perils. And, in 
the next place, the socialists of Austria chose from the 
first from conviction a moderate and opportunist policy, 
and have always been less revolutionary than the social- 
ists of other countries. They were expressly instructed 
by Dr von Schweitzer and Liebknecht, the leaders 
of the Social Democrats of Germany, to give a general 
adherence to the party of the Liberal baargeoisie, and 
to vote for the candidates of that party at the 
elections, on the ground that before anything further 
could be thought of in Austria, the priestly and 
feudal aristocracy must first of all be overturned, and 
that it was therefore the present duty of the socialists 
to strengthen the hands of those who were pursuing 
that end. The manner in which the social question is 
crossed by the nationality question in Austria is shown 
in the formation of a new party in 1871, called the 
Federalistic Working Men's Party. The object of this 
party is to promote in every way the general interests of 
the labouring classes, and at the same time to contend 
for the federalistic solution of the nationality question, 
which would give equal rights to every nationality, and 
combine them all in one State by a loose federal union. 
The Liberals were Centralists, and were mostly Ger- 
mans ; the Federalists were Conservatives, Clericals, 
Slavs, and Poles ; so that here we find the nationalist 
leanings of a body of working men drawing them into 
an alliance with the Conservatives, in spite of a general 
sympathy which they expressed with the aims of 
socialism. This sympathy was only general, however, 


for they disapproved of immediate abolition of private 
property and inheritance, and they disapproved of the 
intemationality of the International The unions of free 
peasants which have sprung up in recent years in various 
provinces of Austria are independent of socialism, and 
will not hear of the social democracy of the labourers. 
Their great aim is to procure a reduction in the taxes 
paid by the peasantry, but then they add to their pro- 
gramme the principle of State-help to labour, the abolition 
of all feudal privileges and all rights of birth, gratuitous 
education, and cessation of the policy of contracting 
national debt, and they speak vaguely about institut- 
ing a peasant State, and requiring every minister and 
responsible official to serve an apprenticeship to peasant 
labour as a qualification for office, in order that he may 
understand the necessities and capacities of the peasantry. 
This idea of the peasant State is analogous to the idea 
of the labour State of the socialist democrats ; but of 
course this is agreement which is really conflict. It is 
like the harmony between the French king and his 
rival : " I and my brother Charles are wonderfully at 
one ; we both seek the same thing — Milan.'' The class 
interest of the landed peasant is contrary to the class 
interest of the working man, and would be invaded by 
social democracy. The peasantry are simply fighting for 
their own hand, and as their votes are courted by both 
political parties they wiU probably be able to secure 
some mitigation of their grievances. Distress is certainly 
serious among them when, as happened three years ago, 
in a parish of 135 houses as many as 35 executions were 
made in one day for fidlure to pay taxes, and in another 
of 250 houses as many as 72 ; but on the whole there 


seems to be little of that hopeless indigence which 
appears among the peasant proprietary in countries 
where the practice of unrestricted or compulsory sub- 
division of holdings exists, or has recently existed, to 
any considerable extent 

France finds in her peasant proprietors her best 
protection against the socialism towards which she is 
driven by the revolutionary tradition of her towns, by 
the amplitude of the functions already discharged by her 
Government, and by the inflated claims and improvident 
habits of a large proportion of the labouring class in cities, 
popularly known as " les Sublimes." A brochure, which 
attracted considerable attention some years ago, called 
" Le Sublime," states that only 40 per cent of the 
working men of Paris are out of debt, and Mr Malet 
says that they are so dissipated that none of them have 
grandchildren or grandfathers. The providence, industry, 
and comfort of the rural population of France have 
been long and justly held up to our admiration by 
economists. The vast majority of them are proprietors, 
most of whom cultivate their own land, and cultivate it 
with skill and profit According to M. de Lavergne 
they are not so well fed, so well clad, or so well lodged 
as the English hna labourers, but living in a different 
climate they have fewer wants, and they are undoubtedly 
more contented. Among a class like this, whose days 
are spent in fi*ugal comfort and fruitful industry, and are 
brightened by hope and confidence in the future, 
socialism, of course, finds no open door. On the 
contrary, every man of them feels he has something to 
lose and nothing to gain by social revolution ; and as 
they constitute much the most numerous class in the 


eommunity, their worldly contentmeBt is the strongest 
bulwark of the existing order of things. The impression 
of their substantial independence is so marked that even 
the Frenchmen who were members of the International 
Working Men's Association, departing from the principles 
of that society, always stood up for the maintenance of 
the peasant proprietary, as a necessary counterpoise to 
the power of the Government. 

It is difficult to estimate the degree in which 
socialism prevails among the industrial classes of France. 
M. G. de Molinari said in 1869 that out of every ten 
working men in that country who had any interest 
beyond eating and drinking, nine were socialists, but as 
far as can be judged that seems to he no longer so. On 
the other hand, M. Thiers was certainly mistaken when 
he declared in his last manifesto that socialism wa^ 
extinct in France. Congresses of working men are still 
periodically held in the socialist interest, which, however, 
are remarkable for the divisions of opinion and sect 
which they represent ; and congresses of working men, 
equally well attended, are also convened, at which 
anarchy and Utopias of all kinds are stoutly condemned, 
and the hopes of the labouring classes are directed to 
the gradual development of co-operative production and 
other remedial agencies of a moderate character. The 
trades* unions of France hold .as much aloof from 
socialist principles and organisations as those of this 
country. In 1880 the general committee of the trades' 
unions of Paris issued an address, in which, while 
maintaining that the working class ought to enjoy a 
more preponderant political and social rOle than they 
at present have, they declare at the swie time that the 


working class can never expect to gain this rOle except 

by proceeding in a practical and gradual fashion, and 

they recommend in the meantime the advocacy of a 10 

hom^* day of labour, full freedom of meeting and 

association, the giving of government contracts to 

working men's co-operative associations, and a national 

superannuation fund for "veterans of industry." 

Socialism has at present its chief home in France among 

the Communards — the remnant of the party of the 

Revolutionary Commune of 1871. At the time of the 

insurrection the majority of the Revolutionary committee 

were not socialists, they were merely Jacobins, and 

they seem to have looked upon their socialist brethren, 

whom they always spoke of as " the economists," as 

somewhat unpractical persons, who were for embarrassing 

the action of to-day by the speculations of to-morrow ; 

but in July, 1874, thirty-three leading military or 

administrative officers of the Commune, belonging mostly 

to the Jacobin side of the house, issued a manifesto from 

London, where they resided as refugees, in which they 

pronounced for socialism completely, and described the 

Commune as but "the militant form of the social 

revolution." And after the amnesty of 1880 there was 

a considerable flicker of socialist agitation, and a 

numerous issue of socialist journals. This agitation has 

gone on increasing in activity, both public and secret, 

since that time ; and in the present state of the country 

nihilism — <)r, as it is now generally called there and 

elsewhere, anarchism — ^is a disturbing force of by no 

means an unimportant character. It ought to be 

added that even the more moderate sections of the 

working class, who disclaim all sympathy with the 


socialist programme, still always hold out to the front 
the ideal of " a veritable democracy of labour," as the 
final though gradual goal of the State. 

Belgium is exposed to the influence of every agitation 
that troubles France, and its circumstances are in many 
ways very favourable for the development of socialism, 
its population being dense, its labouring class numerous, 
and their wages low. There was at one time, accord- 
ingly, a considerable body of socialists in Belgium. The 
International had eight federations of associations there, 
and it established several journals, one of which still 
survives. After the downfidl of the International, the 
Belgian socialists sought to reconstitute themselves 
on a national basis, and they are divided, as, indeed, all 
socialists now are, into two fistctions, the politicians, who 
are for gaining power by the elections, and the political 
abstainers, who eschew politics and political agencies 
altogether, and believe in nothing but violence and 
destruction. The party is not now strong in Belgium, 
and has made no way in recent years. M. de Laveleye 
attributes this result — no doubt rightly — to the effect of 
free institutions. Socialism has been left by the Govem- 
ment to stand or &11 on its merits before public opinion. 
It has been allowed to hold meetings and even 
oecumenical congresses in the capital of the country, to 
publish and advocate its views freely from the platform 
and the press ; and the longer they have been discussed, 
the feebler they have become. Then a good deal has 
been done in Belgium to develop various means of 
improving the labourer's lot, and especially to encourage 
habits of saving, on the part of the men, and of tsir and 
kindly treatment on the part of the masters. The 


patriarchal relationship between employers and employed 
has always been a favourite ideal with the Catholic 
Church, and is supported in Belgium by a strong 
organisation of Catholic Working Men's Clubs, which 
were formed into one body in 1867, which were united 
with the Catholic Working Men's Clubs of Germany in 
1869, and with those of France in 1870, and which now 
constitute with these the International Catholic Working 
Men's Association. 

Holland, Switzerland, and, indeed, our own country, 
exhibit other instances of the effect of free institutions in 
disarming socialism of its danger, or even giving immu- 
nity from its visitation altogether. In Holland wealth 
is very unequally divided, wages are comparatively low, 
and indirect taxation fells very heavily on the working 
class. But the people are phl^matic, domestic, religi- 
ous, and contrive on small means to maintain a general 
appearance of comfort and decency. The International, 
however, found many adherents in that country. In 
1869 it had a branch in almost every town of Holland, 
and, after the downfall of the Paris Commune, it began 
so active an agitation that the bourgeoisie took alarm, 
and the government imposed some restrictions on the 
socialist press. The Amsterdam Lithographers went so 
fer in 1872 as to decline taking any part in celebrating 
the three hundredth anniversary of the independence of 
their country, which occurred in that year, declaring 
that national festivals were contrary to the purposes of 
their association. Wages were very generally raised 
soon after ; the co-operative movement was actively pro- 
moted under the lead of orthodox theologians ; and the 
more pressing demands of the workmen being tolerably 


satisfied, the interest in socialism began to decline, and 
though there still exists a sprinkling of socialists in 
Holland, who keep up two newspapers, they are seldom 
heard of. 

Switzerland has for a century swarmed with conspira- 
tors of all hues and nations, but the Swiss themselves 
have been steel against revolution. The International 
held congresses in Geneva, as it did at the Hague and 
Brussels, but it counted almost no native of the country 
among its members. The Gteneral Congress of Working 
Men's Clubs of German Switzerland in 1874 had not a 
word to say about nationalising land and productive 
instruments, but only of factory l^slation and State aid 
to technical and general education. Mr Bonar, in his 
report to the Foreign Office in 1870 on the condition of 
the industrial classes of Switzerland, ascribes their con- 
tentment partly to the working of democratic institutions, 
and partly to the prevalence of benevolent and charitable 
associations. " In enumerating," he says, " the favour- 
able circumstances in which the Swiss working man is 
placed, prominence must be given to the inmiense 
extension of the principle of democracy, which, whatever 
may be its defects and dangers from a political point of 
view, when pushed to extremes, serves in Switzerland 
in its economical effects to advance the cause of the 
operative by removing the barriers dividing class from 
class, and to establish among all grades the bonds of 
mutual sympathy and goodwill ; further strengthened 
by a widely-spread network of associations organised 
with the object of securing the conmion interests 
and welfare of the* people." Masters and workmen 
are socially more equal than in most European 


countries ; they sit side by side at the board of 
the Communal Council, they belong to the same 
choral societies, they refresh themselves at th^ same 
caiife. In most cantons, too, operatives are either 
owners of, or hold from the communes, small pieced of 
land which they cultivate in their leisure hours, and 
which thus serve them when work gets slack or fkils 
alt^ther. The favourable rural economy of th^ 
coiintiy is well known ; its peasant proprietors rival 
those of France. The Swiss societies of beneficence are 
remarkable, and almost suggest the hope that the 
voluntary socialism of a more enlarged and widely 
organist systetn of charity may be found to furtiish a 
substantial solution of the social question. Every 
cantoil of Switzerland has its society of public utility, 
whose ttims take an extensive range ; it gives the stdrt 
to projects of improvement of every description, infant 
dehools, schools of design, savings* banks, schemes for 
the poor, the sick, the dumb, singing classes, halls for 
Sunday recitation, popular lectures, workmen's houses, 
protection of animals, even industrial undertdkings 
which promise to be ultimately beneficial, though they 
may not pfeiy at first The society of Basle has 900 
members and a capital of £6000, and the Swiss Society 
of Public Utility is an organisation for the whole 
Republic, which holds an annual congress at Zurich, 
and general meetings in the difiel^nt cantons by turiis. 
These meetings pass oflF with every mark of enthusiieisni, 
atid gather together men of all religious and political 
opinions in a common concern for the progress And 
prosperity of the masses. One of the institutiotis which 
theSe ftocietieis have largely promoted is what they call 


a hall of industry, or a bazaar, where loans may be 
received by workmen on the security of their wages, or 
of goods they may deposit. A labourer who has made 
any article which he cannot get immediately sold, may 
deposit it at one of these bazaars, and obtain an advance 
equal to a fixed proportion of its value, and if the 
article is sold at the bazaar, the proceeds are accounted . 
for to the depositor, less the sum advanced and a small 
charge for expenses. These institutions, Mr Bonar 
says, have had excellent effects, though he admits that 
the fecilities of borrowing have led the working men 
in some places into debt, but they are at any rate a vast 
improvement on the pawnbroking system in vogue else- 
where. The condition of Switzerland shows us clearly 
enough that democracy under a regime of freedom lends 
no ear to socialism, but sets its face in entirely different 

The countries where, next to Germany, socialism has 
made most progress are Russia, Italy, and Spain, the 
three most revolutionary countries in Europe, and it has 
assumed in all three the extremer form of nihilism or 
anarchism. I shall treat of Russia more fiilly in a 
separate chapter. In Spain the International possessed 
an extensive organisation, which in 1873 comprised 674 
branch associations, planted over the whole length and 
breadth of the land, from industrial centres like Barce- 
lona to remote rural districts like the island of Miyorca. 
It had a total membership of more than 300,000. M. 
de Laveleye was present at some of the meetings of 
these associations in 1869, and says: — "They were 
usually held in churches withdrawn from worship. 
From the elevation of the pulpit the orators attacked 


everything that used to be exalted there, Ood, religion, 
the priests, the rich. The discourses were white-hot, 
but the audience remained calm. Many women were 
seated on the ground working, nursing their infants, and 
listening with attention as to a sermon. It was the 
very image of *93." He adds that their journals write 
with unparalleled violence, especially against religion 
and the church. The welcome which the International 
has received in Spain is easily explained by the demo- 
cratic agitation with which the country has been so long 
fermenting. So far as can be ascertained, the economic 
position of the labouring class in Spain is by no means 
bad, and would, under better government, be really 
good. Two-thirds of the population are engaged in 
agriculture, and it is among the agricultural population 
that socialism has spread most widely. Their condition 
varies very much. In the southern provinces the cereal 
plains and also the lower pasturages are generally pos- 
sessed by large proprietors, who work them by fieomers 
on the metayer principle, with the help of bands of 
migratory labourers in harvest time ; but in the moun- 
tainous parts of these provinces the estates belong for 
the most part to the communes. They are usually large, 
and as every member of the conunune has an undivided 
right of using them, he is able to obtain from them the 
main part of his living without rent. Many of the 
inhabitants of such districts engage in the carrying trade, 
to which they conjoin a little cattle-dealing as oppor- 
tunities offer, and as they are sober and industrious they 
are usually comparatively well off. In the northern 
provinces the situation is in some respects better. Land 
is much subdivided, and though the condition of the 

52 ti^t^HUhbTbiit. 

labouring class is not as a rule unembarraissed, that 
result is due more to their own improvidence and in^ 
dolence than to anything else. A man of frugal and 
industrious habits can always rise without much diffi- 
culty fipom the position of day labourer to that of 
metayer tenant, and from tenant to proprietor, and 
some of the small proprietors are able to amass a con- 
siderable competency. Besides, even the improvident 
are saved from the worst by the communal organisation. 
They have always a right of pasturage on the commons, 
and a ri^ht to wood for fire, house and furniture, and 
they get their children's education and medical attend- 
ance in sickness gratuitously on condition of giving six 
days* labour at the roads of the commune. The most 
active and saving part of the population, north and 
south, IS the class of migratory workmen, who stay at 
home only during seed time and harvest, and go for the 
rest of the year to work in Castile, Andalusia, or 
Portugal, as masons or carpenters, or waiters, and 
always come back with a store of money. Sometimes 
they remadn abroad for a year or two, and sometimes 
they go to Cuba or Mexico for twenty years, and return 
to settle on a property of their own in their native 
village. This class forms the personel of the small 
property in Spain, and they give by their presence a 
healthy stimulus to the neighbourhoods they reside in. 
The small property is in Spain, as elsewhere, too often 
turned from a blessing to a curse by its subdivision, on 
the death of the proprietor, among the membiers of his 
fitmily, who in Spain are usually numerous, though it is 
interesting to learn that in some of the Pyrenean valleys 
it has befen preserved for five hundred yeai^ by the habit 


of int^ral transmission to the oldest child — son or 
daughter — coupled with the habit of voluntary celjjbacy 
on the par;t of ,niany of the other children. The econo- 
mical situation of Spain, then, is not free from defects, 
but there always exists a wide margin of hope in a 
country where, as Frere said, "God Almighty has so 
much of the lapd in his own holding,'* and its economical 
situation would not of itself be likely to precipitate 
social reyolutio^. 

The socialism of Spain is only a modification of the 
movement of revolutionary democracy which has stirred 
the country continuously for many years. The habits 
aiid feelings of the Spaniards are in some respects un- 
usually democratic ; nowhere is the sentiment of human 
dignity or of mutual equality more prevalent and uni- 
versally recognised. The communal organisation of the 
country is democratic ; every inhabitant of the commune 
who is able to read and write has a voice in its manage- 
ment ; and the working of the communal system gives 
more popular satisfaction than any other institution in 
the land. The pernicious despotism of the central 
government was therefore the more strongly detested 
because of its contrast to the beneficent democracy of 
the local boards, and this contrast led in Spain, exactly 
B& it did in Russia, to the adoption by the revolutionary 
party of the federal republic as their ideal. They con- 
tend for the independence not merely of provinces or 
even of communes, but of the smallest townships and 
viHa^. Castelar declared the federal republic to be 
the most perfect form of State, though he held its 
immediate introduction to be impracticable ; and the 
r^yohition of 1873, in which the International played W 


active part, was excited for the purpose of introducing 
it. The Federal Republicans are indeed not all socialists ; 
many of them are for making the agricultural labourers 
peasant proprietors, and even for dividing the conmiunal 
property among them ; but in a country where com- 
munal property already exists to so large an extent, the 
idea of making all property communal always lies very 
near the hand of the democratic reformer. 

From Spain socialism passed into Portugal, but it 
works very quietly there. Its adherents formed an 
organisation in 1872, they hold congresses, they publish 
newspapers, they start candidates, and they actively 
promote their views in every Intimate way. Their 
programme is '^ anarchism," like that of their Spanish 
allies, but unlike anarchists anywhere else, they will 
have no resort to violence. M. de Laveleye explains 
this by stating that they are naturally '' less violent than 
the Spaniards, that the economical situation of the 
country is better, and liberty, being very great, has pre- 
vented the explosion of popular fury elsewhere exas- 
perated by repression." 

Socialism was introduced into Italy by Bakunin about 
1868, and spread rapidly everywhere. He founded 
many lodges of the International, which have survived 
the extinction of the parent society and still bear its 
name, and they have not ceased to increase in member- 
ship. They have large numbers of female members, 
who are especially extreme in their views, and violent as 
public agitators against the State and the Church and 
the fionily. Liberty of the press being unrestricted in 
Italy, socialist journals are frequently started, but most 
of them die after a brief duration firom want of fimda. 


The people are too poor to subscribe to them, and the 
party too poor to subsidise them. There is still one, 
however, in most of the chief towns, and they are all 
distinguished by the violence of their spirit. The de- 
velopment of socialism in Italy is no matter of surprise. 
Though there is no great industry in the country, the 
whole population seems a proletariate. There is a dis- 
tressed nobility, a distressed peasantry, a distressed 
working class, a distressed body of university men. 
Mr Gallenga says that for six months of the year Italy 
is a national workshop ; everybody is out of employment 
and has to get work from die State ; and he states as 
the reason for this, that the employing class wants enter- 
prise and ability, and are apt to look to the government 
for any profitable undertakings. The government, how- 
ever, are no better financiers than the rest, and the state 
of public finances is one of the chief evils of the country. 
Taxation, too, is heavy, and yet property and life are 
not secure. " The peasants," says M. de Laveleye, "are 
reduced to extreme misery by rent and taxation, both 
alike excessive. Wages are completely madequate. 
Agricultural labourers live huddled in botirgades, and 
obtain only intermittent employment. There is thus a 
rural proletariate more wretched than the industriaL 
Excluded from property by latifundia, it becomes the 
enemy of a social order that crushes it" The situation 
is scarcely better in parts of the country which are free 
from latifundia. In Sicily most of the agricultural 
population live on ferms owned by themselves, but then 
these farms are too snfall to support them adequately, 
and their occupiers scorn the idea of working for hire. 
There are as many nobles in Sicily as in England, and 


Mr Dawes (from whose report on Sicily to tbe Fpr^g9 
Office in 1872 I <)raw these pfurticulars) ^t^ates tiiajb 25 
per cent, of the lower orders are what be tenps droae^j 
idlers who are maintained by their wives ^d children. 
In Italy there is little worj^ng-dasp opii^n distinct 
from the agricultural. There are few fietctories, and die 
artisans who work in towns have the habit of living in 
th^ native villages near by, and going and coming 
every day to their work. Two-tihirds of die persons 
engaged in manufi^;ti^:es do so, or at least go to thioir 
rur?^ homes from Saturday till Monday. Their habits 
ajad ways of thinking are those of agriculturists, and 
the social question of Italy is substantially the 
agricultural labourers' question. The stu^dents at the 
Universities, too, are everywhere leav<ened witl^ 
socialism. The advanced men among them seem to 
' have ceased to cry for a republic, and to plaqe their 
hope now in socialism. They have no desire to 
overturn a king who is as patriotic as the best president, 
and they count the form of government of mii^or import- 
ance as comparecjl vith the reconstitution of property. 
Bakunin thought Italy the mo^t revolutionary country 
of Europe except Spain, because of its exceptionally 
numerous body of enthusiastic young men without 
career or prospects ; and cert^i^nly revolutionary elen^tents 
abound in the peninsula, but as M. de Laveleye 
shrewdly remarks, a revolution is perhaps next to 
impossible for want of a revolutionary nie<»*opQlis. 
"The malaria," he says, "which makes Rome unin- 
habitable for part of the year will long preserve her 
from the danger of becoming the seat of a new 

Of ttie ikhree ScandinaviaD cojoiutries Denmark alcmQ 
\m given any response to the socialist agitation, jn 
Sweden aiwj Nw^ay there exists m class pf labourers 
without property. There jr few great manufeoturers, /tA^- 
aad only 15 per cent, pf the people live ia towns. The 
rest are spread sparsely over the rural districts on 
&nns belonging to themselves, and in the absence 
of roads are obliged to make at home many of the 
ordinary articles of consumption. What with the 
produce of their own small properties and their own 
gei^eral handiness, they are unusually independent and 
com£c>rtable. M. de Laveleye considers them the 
happiest people in Europe. Attempts wei:e made by 
agents of the International in 1873 to effect a footing 
for its doctrines in both these countries, but it is not 
surprising that these attempts signally failed. The 
circumstances erf Denmark are different The operatives 
of the to^s are badly off. Ui Strachey tells us in his 
report ^to the FQi;eign Office in 1870 that every fourth 
injiabitant of Copenhagen wa^ i^ receipt of parochial 
relief i^ 1867, and he says that while the Daniriti 
c^eratiyep are sober aad well educated, they fidl in 
fedwtiy ^d thrift. " No feet in my report," he states, 
" is more certain than that the Dane ha« yet to learn 
jd^e m^fuung of the word work; of entireness and 
tbpwughnesp he has seldom any adequate notion. Thip 
is why the Swedish arti?»n caa sp often take ^e bread 
;from his naoutiL" In the rural districts, too, the 
.eopnomical situation, though in poij^e respects highly 
jfcyourable, is attended by a shadow. The land is, 
indeed, widely diffiis^ There are in all 280,000 
femilies m the rural d^ricte of D^nn^k, and pf these 


170^000 occupy independent freeholds, 30,000 fium 
hired land, and only 26,000 are agricultural labourers 
pure and simple. Seven-eighths of the whole country 
is held by peasant proprietors, and as a rule no class in 
Europe has improved more during the last half century 
than the Danish peasant or Bonde. Mr Strachey says, 
'' The Danish landlord was till recent times the scourge 
of the peasantry. Under his paternal care the Danish 
Bonde was a mere hewer of wood and drawer of water ; 
his lot was no better than that of the most miserable 
ryot of Bengal The Bonde is now the freest, the most 
politically wise, the best educated of European yeomen." 
But there is another side to the picture. In Denmark, 
as in other places where the small property abounds, 
the property is often too small for the proprietor's 
necessities, and there thus arises a kind of proprietor- 
proletariate, unwilling to part with their land and 
unable to extract a living out of it. This class, along 
with the rural labourers who have no property, 
constitute a sort of fourth estate in the country, and 
there as elsewhere their condition is preparing a serious 
social question for the future. Then, among the 
influences fevourable to the acceptance of socialism in 
Denmark, must be counted the fru^t that one of the two 
great political parties of the country is democratia 
Curiously enough that party consists of the peasantry, 
and the Conservatives of Denmark are the conmiercial 
classes of the towns, with the artisans in their wake, 
their Conservatism^ however, being substantially identical 
with the Liberalism of the same classes in other 
countries. This democratic party seeks to make every- 
thing in the State conduce to the interests of the 


peasantry, and keeps alive in the country the idea that 
the State exists by the will of the people, and for their 
good alone. 

The International was introduced into this exclusiyely 
Protestant country by two militant Roman Catholics — 
Pio, a retired military officer, who came to Denmark as 
religious tutor to a baroness who had joined the church 
of Rome, and Geleff, who wrote for an Ultramontane 
journal They pursued their new mission with great 
zeal and success. They opened branches of the associa- 
tion in most of the towns ; they held open air meetings, 
to one of which, at Copenhagen in 1874, they drew 
more than 15,000 labourers, all belonging to the Inter- 
national ; but in the same year they absconded to 
America with the whole funds of the association. Their 
place at the head of the movement was taken by an 
authoress, Jacquette Ldlyenkrantz, and, as in other 
countries, women are among its most active propa- 
gandists. It is advocated by several journals. 

England is the only great country where socialism has 
at present neither organ nor organisation diat reaches 
the public eye or ear. Detached social democratic clubs 
exist here and there, and socialistic ideas are ventilated 
in various radical associations. The nationalisation of 
the land is a conmion topic of speculative discussion, is 
included in the programme of more than one political 
society recently formed, and has been prominently 
brought before the public by a section of the Irish 
agitators. But I see no sufficient reason for believing 
that socialism has secured any serious foothold in 
Elngland. We are sometimes told that it has done so. . 
The Times opened the year 1882 with an article of an 

P9 ip'P.QRpCTQpY. 

alanpist nature, wajming ^s that the working classes were 
becoming rapidly socialiatic in sentiment, and that 
some untoward complication might any day precipitate a 
convulsion. The tinder was tiiere, said the Tinfes, and 
so were the sparks. Put thie only English joum^j 
known to me, which at that time adyoQated revolutionary 
pocialism of the Intematipnal type, has since died for 
want of subspribers ; and if we may judge, from soijae of 
its last utterance^, it fouijid, among its friends, no real 
unity of conviction or decision ofjpurpose. The tinder 
was hard to reach, and what was of it was stiff to take 
fire. Mr Fawcett expressed a few y^ars ago a somewhat 
similar opinion to this^of the Times, and he gave seversd 
reasons for doii^ so. First, the labouring classes were 
every day getting more discontented with their presjent 
condition ; then, they were every year ma)dng larger ajjd 
larger claims for assistance of vapous kinds from public 
money, for emigration, for work to unemployed at good 
wages, for securing comfortable houses and wholesome 
food at reasonable rateis ; then, there was more danger 
of such demwds beipg acceded to in England than 
elsewhere, on account of the system of Government ty 
party, and the temptation of bidding for popular 
support ; and, fruiihe^more, even responsible ministers 
belonging to the party least likely to sympathise with 
socialism, such as Sir John Pakington, had already told 
the working classes diat Parliament ought to provide 
them with good houses and good food. Now, of course, 
the working classes are undeniably discontented with 
their present condition, and, as Mr Fawcett is ready to 
admit, they are justifiably so. No thoughtful person of 
fmy class can be contented or can avoid grave mi^- 


giringd and apprehensions when he rejects that in the 
wealthiest nation in the world, ahnost every twentieth 
inhabitant is a panper ; that according to poor-law 
repoto, on^flfth of the dommunity is insufficiently clad ; 
that according to medical reports to the Privy Council, 
ijie agriculttinJ labourers and large clashes of working 
|)eople ill towns are too poorly fed to save them froni 
what are known as starvation diseases ; that the great 
proportion of our ^pulation lead a life of monotonous 
and incessant toil, with no prospect in old age, but 
penury and parochial support ; and that one-third, if not 
indeed one-half, of the families of the coulitry, are 
huddled, six in a room, in a way quite incompatible 
with the elementaiy claims of decency, health or morality. 
But the English working class show no signs of any 
disposition to despair of successfully effecting thbir 
amelioitttioii under the general conditions of the existing 
industrial economy, and they manifest a decided aversion 
aild distrust towards sweeping and untried solutions. 
Englaiid is the despair of continental socialists. Everr 
requisite of revolution is there, and yet the people will 
not rise. The yeomanry are gdne. The land has cotne 
into the hands of a few. Industry in carried on by 
great cetitraUsed capital. The labourers are thronged 
in large towns. ^^ The English," says Eugene Dupont, 
a leading member of the International, " possess all the 
nlaterials necessaiy for thb social revolutioil ; but they 
lack the generalising spirit and the revolutionary 
passioti." Mr Fawcett, in a later article, is niore 
reiissured; foi* he had witnessed in the interval the 
nuHrellous patience with which the working men of 
Eliglfetnd bor^ very trying depressions of trade ^thout, 


for a moment, raising any cry for assistance from the 
State. They are always discovering new proofe of their 
ability to carry out improvements in their lot by means 
at their own command, and perhaps to carry them out 
better in the end than could be done by the initiative of 
authority. Even in the matter of shorter hours, which 
IB certainly one of their most legitimate aspirations, and 
which the late Mr Greg feared would be one of the first 
subjects on which they would make violent demands on 
the action of the State after their general admission to 
the suffrage, they have found that they can gain their 
ends as well without public aid ; and as both the strain 
and the productiveness of industry difier considerably in 
different trades, it is certainly best that each trade should 
adjust the length of the day of labour to its own 

Of course there will always be a danger under popular 
government of unsound demands being made on the 
State in behalf of the working class, just as they have 
been and are still made on behalf of other classes. 
These can only be dealt with in detail as they arise. State 
intervention is no longer superstitiously tabooed; and 
though the class legislation of the future will be working- 
class legislation, there is no reason for pronouncing any 
particular exercise of authority to be a piece of class 
legislation merely because it conduces specially to the 
benefit of the working class. The soundness of the 
measure must be settled at the time of its proposal by 
broad considerations of public utility. Perhaps the best 
safeguard against undue demands on the power of the 
State by the labouring classes is to enlaige their experi- 
ence of how much they can do for themselves with the 



limited pecuniary ability they at present possess, if they 
receive sufficient encouragement to husband it and 
opportunity to invest it ; and no one has done more 
for this end than Mr Fawcett himself since he assumed 
the administration of the Post-office. 






Oermax socialism is — it is hardly too much to say — 
the creation of Ferdinand Lassalle. Of course there 
were socialists in Germany before Lassalle. There are 
socialists everywhere. A certain rudimentary socialism 
is always in latent circulation in what may be called 
the "natural heart" of society. The secret clubs of 
China — " the fraternal leagues of heaven and earth " — 
who argue that the world is iniquitously arranged, that 
the rich are too rich, and the poor too poor, and that 
the wealth of the great has all accrued from the sweat 
of the masses, only give a formal expression to ideas 
that are pt^bably never far from any one of us who 
have to work hard and earn little, and they only 
formulate them less systematically than Marx and his 
disciples do in their theories of the exploitation of 
labour by capital. Socialism is thus so much in the 
conunon air we all breathe, that there is force in the 
view that the thing to account for is not so much the 
presence of socialism at any time, as its absence. 
Accordingly it had frequently appeared in Germany 
under various forms before Lassalle. Fichte— to go no 
farther back — ^had taught it from the standpoint of the 


speculative philoeopher and philanthropist. Schleier- 
macher, it may be remembered, was brought up in a 
religious community that practised it. Weitling, with 
some allies, preached it in a pithless and hazy way as a 
gospel to the poor, and finding little encouragement^ 
went to America, to wbrk it out experimentally there. 
The young Hegelians made it part of their philosophic 
creed. The Silesian weavers, superseded by machinery, 
and perishing for want of work, raised it as a wild 
inarticulate cry for bread, and dignified it with the 
sanction of tears and blood. And Karl Marx and 
Friedrich Engels, in 1848, summoned the proletariate 
of the whole world to make it the aim and instrument 
of a universal revolution. But it was Lassalle who 
first really brought it from the clouds and made it a 
living historical force in the common politics of the 

Professor Lorenz von Stein, of Vienna, — for the 
lexicons identify him with the Ludwig Stein who wrote 
an acute and thoughtful book on French Communism 
in 1842, — says in that work that Germany, unlike 
France, and particularly England, had nothing to fear 
from socialism, because Germany had no proletariate to 
speak of. Yet, in twenty years, we find Germany 
become suddenly the theatre of the most important and 
formidable embodiment of socialism that has anywhere 
appeared. Important and formidable, for two reasons : 
it founds its doctrines, as socialism has never done 
before, on a thoroughly scientific investigation of the 
facts, and criticism of the principles, of the present 
industrial regime, and it seeks to carry them out by 
means of a political organization, growing singularly 



in fitrengthy and based on the class interests of the great 
majority of the people. [ 

There were, of conrse, predisposing contditions for this 
outburst A German proletariate had oome iuto being 
since Stein wrote, and though still /much smaller, 
in the aggregate, than the English, it was perhaps 
really at this time the more plethoric and distressed 
of the two. For the condition of the English working- 
classes had been greatly reUeved by emigration, by 
fiEtctory legislation, by trades' unions, whereas in some 
of these directions nothing at all, and in others only 
the feintest beginnings, had as yet been effected in 
Germany. Then, the stir of big political movement and 
anticipation was on men's minds. The future of the 
German nation, its unity, its freedom, its development, 
were practical questions of the hour. The nationality 
principle is essentially democratic, and the aspirations 
for Germau unity carried with them in every one of the 
States strong movements for the extension of popular 
freedom and power. This long spasmodic battle for 
liberty in Germany, which began with the century, and 
remains still unsettled, this long series of revolts and 
concessions and overridings, and hopes flattered and 
again deferred, this long uncertain babble of Gross- 
Deutsch and Klein-Deutsch, and Centralist and Federalist 
and Particularism of " Gotha ideas " and " new eras " 
and " blood and iron," had prepared the public ear for 
bold political solutions, and has entered from the first 
as an active and not unimportant &ctor in the socialist 
agitation. Then, again, the general political habits and 
training of the people must be taken into account 
Socialistic ideas would find a readier vogue in Germany 


than in this country, because the people are less rigidly 
practical, because they have been less used to the 
sifting exercise of free discussion, and because they have 
always seen the State doing a great deal for them 
which they could do better for themselves, and are 
consequently apt to visit the State with blame and 
claims for which it ought not to be made responsible. 
Then the decline of religious belief in Germany, which 
the church herself did much to produce when she was 
rationalistic, without being able to undo it since she 
has become orthodox, must certainly have impaired the 
patience with which the poor endured the miseries of their 
lot, when they still entertained the hope of exchanging 
it in a few short years for a happier and an everlasting 
one hereafter. 

All these circumstances undoubtedly favoured the 
success of the socialistic agitation at the period it 
started, but, when everything is said, it is still doubtful 
whether German socialism would ever have come into 
being but for Lassalle. Its fermenting principle has 
been less want than positive ideas. This is shown by 
the fiEict that it was at first received among the 
German working-classes with an apathy that almost 
disheartened Lassalle ; and that it is now zealously 
propagated by them as a cause, as an evangel, even 
after they have emigrated to America, where their 
circumstances are comparatively comfortable. The ideas 
it contains Lassalle found for the most part ready to 
his hand. The germs of them may be discovered in 
the writings of Proudhon, in the projects of Louis 
Blanc. Some of them he acknowledges he owes to 
Rodbertus, others to Karl Marx, but it was in passing 


through his mind they first acquired the stamp and 
ring that made them current coin. Contentions 
about the priority of publishing this bit or that bit 
of an idea, especially if the idea be Mse, need 
not concern us ; and indeed Lassalle makes no claim 
to originality in the economical field. He was not so 
much an inventive as a critical thinker, and a critical 
thinker of almost the first rank, with a dialectic power, 
and a clear vivid exposition that have seldom been 
excelled Any originality that is claimed for him lies 
in the region of interpretation of previous thought, and 
that in the departments of metaphysics and juris- 
prudence, not of economics. 

The peculiarity of his mind was that it hungered with 
almost equal intensity for profoimd study and for 
exciting action, and that he had the gifts as well as the 
impulses for both. As he said of Heraclitus the Dark, 
whom he spent some of his best years in expounding, 
"there was storm in his nature." Heine, who knew 
and loved him well as a young man in Paris, and 
indeed found his society so delightful during his last 
years of haggard sufiering, that he said, " No one has 
ever done so much for me, and when I receive letters 
from you, courage rises in me, and I feel better," — 
Heine characterizes him very truly in a letter to 
Vamhagen von Ense. He says he was struck with 
astonishment at the combination of qualities Lassalle 
displayed — ^the union of so much intellectual power, 
deep learning, rich exposition on the one hand, with 
so much energy of will and capacity for action on the 
other. With all this admiration, however, he seems 
unable to regard him without misgiving, for his 


audacious confidence, checked bj no thought of 
renunciation or tremor of modesty, amazed him as much 
as his ability. In this respect he says Lassalle is a 
genuine son of the modem time, to which Vamhagen 
and himself had acted in a way as the midwives, but 
on which they could only look like the hen that hatched 
duck's eggs and shuddered to see how her brood took 
to the water and swam about delighted. Heine here 
puts his finger on the secret of his young friend's iailure. 
Lassalle would have been a great man if he had more 
of the ordinary restraining perceptions, but he had 
neither fear nor awe, nor even — ^in spite of his vein of 
satire — a wholesome sense of the ridiculous, — ^in this 
last respect resembling, if we believe Carlyle, all Jews, 
Chivalrous, susceptible, with a genuine feeling for the 
poor man's case, and a genuine enthusiasm for social 
reform, a warm friend, a vindictive enemy, full of ambi- 
tion both of the nobler and the more vulgar type, beset 
Mrith an importunate vanity and given to primitive lusts ; 
generous qualities and churlish throve and strove in him 
side by side, and governed or misgoverned a will to 
which opposition was almost a native and necessary 
element, and which yet — or perhaps rather, therefore — 
brooked no checL '^ Ferdinand Lassalle, thinker and 
fighter," is the simple epitaph Professor Boeckh put on 
his tomb. Thinking and fighting were the craving of 
his nature ; thinking and fighting were the warp and 
woof of his actual career, mingle indeed with tiireads 
of more spurious fibre. The philosophical thinker and 
the political agitator are parts rarely combined in one 
person, but to these Lassalle added yet a tiiird, which 
seems to agree with neither. He was a fiishionable 


dandy^ noted for his dress, for his dinners, and, it must 
be added, for his addiction to pleasure. A man appar- 
ently, with little of that solidarity in his own being 
which he sought to introduce into society at large, and 
yet his public career possesses an undoubted unity. It 
is a mistake to represent him, as Mr L. Montefiore has 
done, as a savan who turned politician as if by accident 
and against his will, for the stir of politics was as 
essential to him as the absorption of study. It is a 
greater mistake, though a more common one, to repre- 
sent him as having become a revolutionary agitator 
because no other political career was open to him. He 
felt himself, it is said, like a Caesar out of employ, dis- 
qualified for all Intimate politics by his previous life, 
and he determined, if he could not bend the gods, that 
he would move Acheron. But so early as 1848, when 
yet but a lad of twenty-three, he was tried for sedition, 
and he then declared boldly in his defence that he was 
a socialist democrat, and that he was " revolutionary on 
principle." This he remained throughout He laughs 
at those who cannot hear the word revolution without a 
shudder. " Revolution," he says, " means merely trans- 
formation, and is accomplished when an entirely new 
principle is — either with force or without it — put in the 
place of an existing state of things. Reform, on the 
other hand, is when the principle of the existing state of 
things is continued, and only developed to more logical 
or just consequences. The means do not signify. A 
reform may be carried out by bloodshed, and a revolu- 
tion in the profoundest tranquillity. The Peasants* War 
was an attempt to introduce reform by arms, the inven- 
tion of the spinning-jenny wrought a peaceful revo- 


lution.** In this sense he was ^'revolutionary on 
principle." His Uiought was revolutionary, and it was 
the lessons he learnt as a philosopher that he applied 
and pled for as an agitator. His thinking and his 
fighting belonged together like powder and shot His 
Hegelianism, which he adopted as a youth at college, is 
from first to last the continuous source both of impetus 
and direction over his public career. Young Qermany 
was Hegelian and revolutionary at the time he went to 
the University (1842), and with the impressionable 
Lassalle, then a youth of seventeen, Hegelianism became 
a passion. He wrote articles on it in University maga- 
zines, preached it right and left in the caf(6s and -kneipen, 
and resolved to make philosophy his profession and 
habilitate as a privat docent at Berlin. It was the first 
sovereign intellectual influence he came under, and it 
ruled his spirit to the end. In adopting it, his intel- 
lectual manhood may be said to have opened with a 
revolution, for his fetmily were strict Jews, and he was 
brought up in their religion. 

Lassalle was bom in 1825 at Breslau, where his 
father was a wholesale dealer. He was educated at the 
Universities of Breslau and Berlin, and at the latter city 
saw, through the Mendelssohns, a good deal of the best 
literary society there, and made the acquaintance, among 
others, of Alexander von Humboldt, who used to call 
him a Wunderkind. On finishing his curriculum, he 
went for a time to Paris, and formed there a close 
friendship with H. Heine, who was an old acquaintance 
of his fetmily. He meant to habilitate as a privat docent 
when he returned, but was diverted fixim his purpose by 
the task of redressing a woman's wrongs, into which he 


threw himaelf with the romantic enterprise of a knight- 
enranty and which he carried, through years of patient 
and zealous labour, to a successful issue. The Countess 
Hatzfeldt had been married when a girl of sixteen to a 
cousin of her own, one of the great nobles of Gbrmany, 
but the marriage turned out most unhappily after a few 
years, and she was obliged, on account of the nudtreat- 
meat she suffered, to live apart from her husband. His 
persecution followed her into her separation. He took 
child after child from her, and was now seeking to take 
the last she had left, her youngest son. He allowed her 
very scanty and irregular support, while he lavished his 
money on mistresses, and was, at this very moment, 
settling on one of them an annuity of £1000. This 
state of things had continued for twenty years, and the 
Countess's own relations had, for family reasons, always 
declined to take up her case. Lassalle, who had made 
her acquaintance in Berlin, was profoundly touched by 
her story, and felt that she was suffering an intolerable 
wrong, which society permitted only because she was a 
woman, and her husband a lord. Though not a lawyer, 
he resolved to undertake her case, and after carrying the 
suit before thirty-six different courts, during a period of 
eight years, he at length prociu^ for her a divorce in 
1851, and a princely fortune in 1854, from which she 
rewarded him with a considerable annuity for his exer- 
tions. Lassalle's connection with this case not un- 
naturally gave rise to sinister construction. It was 
supposed he must have been in love with the Countess, 
and wanted to marry her, but this was disproved by the 
event Darker insinuations were made, but had Uiere 
been truth in them^ it could not have escaped the spies 


the Count set to watch him, and the servants the Count 
bribed to infonn on him. Chivaby, vanity, and temerity 
at the 'Season of life when all three qualities are at their 
height, accoimt sufficiently for his whole conduct, and I 
see no reason to doubt the explanation he himself gives 
of it " Her family," he states, " were silent, but it is 
said when men keep silence the stones will speak. 
When every human right is violated, when even the 
voice of blood is mute, and helpless man is forsaken by 
his bom protectors, there then rises with right man's 
first and last relation — man. You have all read with 
emotion the monstrous history of the unhappy Duchess 
of Praslin. Who is there among you that would not 
have gone to the death to defend her ? Well, gentle- 
men, I said to myself, here is Praslin ten times over. 
What is the sharp death agony of an hour compared 
with the pangs of death protracted over twenty years ? 
What are the wounds a knife inflicts compared with the 
slow murder dispensed with refined cruelty throughout 
a being's whole existence? What are they compared 
with the immense woe of this woman, every right of 
whose life has been trampled under foot, day after day, 
for twenty years, and whom they have first tried to 
cover with contempt that they might then the more 
securely overwhelm her with punishment ? . . . The 
difficulties, the sacrifices, the dangers did not deter me. 
I determined to meet false appearances with the truth, 
to meet rank with right, to meet the power of money 
with the power of mind. But if I had known what 
infamous calumnies I should have to encounter, how 
people turned the purest motives into their contraries, 
and what ready credence they gave to the most wretched 


lies — ^well, I hope my purpose would not have been 
changed, but it would have cost me a severe and bitter 
struggle." There seems almost something unmodem in 
the whole circumstances of this case, both in the oppres- 
sion the victim endured, and in the manner of her 

In the course of this suit occurred the robbery of 
Baroness von MeyerdorflTs cassette, on which so much has 
been said. The Baroness was the person already men- 
tioned on whom Count Hatzfeldt bestowed the annuity 
of £1000. The Countess, on hearing of this settlement^ 
went straight to her husband, accompanied by a cleigy- 
man, and insisted upon him cancelling it, in justice to 
his youngest son, whom it would have impoverished. 
The Count at first promised to do so, but after her 
departure refused, and the Baroness set out for Aix to 
get her bond effectually secured. Lassalle suspected 
the object of her journey, and said to the Countess, in 
the presence of two young friends, Could we not obtain 
possession of this bond? No sooner said than done. 
The two young men started for Cologne, and one of 
them stole the Baroness's cassette, containing the verit- 
able deed, in her hotel, and gave it to the other. They 
and Lassalle were all three successively tried for their 
part in this crime. Oppenheim, who actually stole the 
cassette, was acquitted ; Mendelssohn, who only received 
it, was sent to prison ; and Lassalle, who certainly sug- 
gested the deed, was found guilty by the jury, but 
acquitted by the judges. Moral complicity of some sort 
was clear, but it did not amount to a legal crime. Our 
interest with the transaction is merely to discover the 
light it reflects on the character of the man. It was a 


rash, foolish, and lawless freak, but of course the ordinary 
motives of the robber were absent The theft of the 
cassette, however, was a transaction which his enemies 
never suffered to be forgotten. 

The theft of the cassette occurred in 1846 ; Lassalle 
was tried for it in 1848, and was no sooner released 
than he fell into the hands of justice on a much more 
serious chai^. The dissolution of the first Prussian 
National Assembly in 1848, and the gift of a Constitu- 
tion by direct royal decree, had excited bitter disap- 
pointment and opposition over the whole country. 
There was a general agitation for combining to stop 
supplies by refusing to pay taxes, in order thus " to 
meet force with force," and this agitation was particu- 
larly active in the Rhine provinces, where democratic 
views had found much favour. Lassalle even planned 
an insurrection and urged the citizens of Dusseldorf to 
armed resistance, but the Prussian Government promptly 
intervened, placed the town under a state of siege, and 
threw Lassalle into jaiL He was tried in 1849 for 
• treason, and acquitted by the jury, but was immediately 
afterwards brought before a correctional tribunal on the 
minor chaise of resisting oflScers of the police, and sent 
to prison for six months. It was in his speech at the 
former of these trials that he declared himself a partisan 
of the Socialist Democratic Republic, and claimed for 
every citizen the right and duty of active resistance to 
the State, when necessary. He had nothing but scorn 
to pour on the passive resistance policy of the Parlia- 
ment.* " Passive resistance is a contradiction in itself. 
It is like Lichtenberg*s knife, without blade, and without 
handle, or like the fleece which one must wash without 


wetting. It is mere inward iU-will without the outward 
deed. The Crown confiscates the people's freedom ; 
and the Prussian National Assembly, for the people's 
protection, declares ill-will ; it would be unintelligible 
how the commonest logic should have allowed a l^s- 
lative assembly to cover itself with such incomparable 
ridicule if it were not too intelligible." These are bold 
words. He felt himself standing on a principle and 
representing a cause ; and so he went into prison, he 
tells us, with as light a heart as he would go to a ball ; 
and when he heard that his sister had petitioned for his 
pardon, he wrote instantly and pubUcly disclaimed her 

All these trials had brought Lassalle into considerable 
notoriety, not unmingled with a due recognition of his 
undoubted verve, eloquence, and Inilliancy. One effect 
of them was that he was forbidden to come to Berlin. 
This prohibition was founded, of course, on his seditious 
work at Dusseldorf, but is believed to have been insti- 
gated and kept up by the influence of the Hatzfeldt 
&mily. Lassalle felt it a sore privation, for his ambitions 
and hopes all centred in Berlin. After various ineffec- 
tual attempts to obtain permission, he arrived in the 
capital one day in 1857 disguised as a waggoner, and 
through the personal intercession of Alexander von 
Humboldt with the king, was at length suffered to 
remain. His ^' Heraclitus" had just appeared, and at 
once secured him a position in literary circles. One of 
his first productions alter his return to Berlin was a 
pamphlet on ''The Italian War and the Mission of 
Prussia ; a Voice from the Democracy," which shows 
that his political prosecutions had not soured him 


against Prussia. His argument is that freedom and 
democracy must in Germany, as in Italy, be first pre- 
ceded by unity, and that the only power capable of 
giving unity to Germany was Prussia, as to Italy, 
Piedmont He had more of the political mind than 
most revolutionaries and doctrinaires, and knew that 
tiie better might be made the enemy of the good, and 
that ideals could only be carried out gradually, and by 
temporary compromises. He was monarchical for the 
present, therefore, no doubt because he thought the 
monarchy to be for the time the best and shortest road 
to the democratic republic. His friend Rodbertus said 
there was an esoteric and an exoteric Lassalle. That 
may be said of all politicians. Compromise is of the 
essence of their work. 

During the next few years Lassalle's literary activity 
was considerable. Besides a tragedy of no merit (" Franz 
von Sickingen," 1859) and various pamphlets or lectures 
on Fichte, on Lessing, on the Constitution, on Might 
and Right, he published in 1861 the most important 
work he has left us, his " System of Acquired Rights," 
and in 1862, a satirical commentary on Julian Schmidt's 
"History of German Literature," which excited much 
attention and amusement at the time. His " System of 
Acquired Rights" already contains the germs of his 
socialist views, and his pamphlet on the Constitution, 
which appeared when the "new era" ended* and the 
era of Bismarck b^;an, is written to disparage the Con- 
stitutionalism of modem Liberals. A paper Constitution 
was a thing of no consequence ; it was merely declara- 
tive^ not creative ; the thing of real account was the 
distribution of power as it existed in actual fact The 


king and army were powers, the Court and nobility 
were powers, the populace was a power. Society was 
governed by the relative strength of these powers, as it 
existed in reality and not by the paper Constitution 
that merely chronicled it Right is regarded as merely 
declarative of might It is thus easy to see why he 
should have more sympathy with the policy of Bismarck 
than with the Liberals ; and later in the same year he 
expounded his own political position very completely 
in a lecture he delivered to a Working Men's Society in 
Berlin, on " The Connection between the Present Epoch 
of History and the Idea of the Working Class." This 
lecture, to which I shall again revert, was an epoch in 
his own career. It led to a second Government prose- 
cution, and a second imprisonment for political reasons ; 
and it and the prosecution together led to his receiving 
an invitation to address a Greneral Working Men's Con- 
gress at Leipzig, in February, 1863, to which he re- 
sponded by a letter, sketching the political programme 
of the working class, which was certainly the first step 
in the socialist movement 

Attention was already being engaged on the work of 
industrial amelioration. The Progressist party, then 
including the present National Liberals, had, under the 
lead of Schultze Delitzsch, been promoting trades unions 
and co-operation in an experimental way, and the work- 
ing classes themselves were beginning to think of taking 
more concerted action for their own improvement The 
Leipzig Congress was projected by a circle of working 
men, who considered the Schultze Delitzsch schemes 
inadequate to meet the case. This was exactly Lassalle's 
view. He begins his letter by telling the working men 


ihsit if all they wanted was to mitigate some of the 
positive evils of their lot, then the Schultze Delitzsch 
miions, savings' banks, and sick funds were quite suffi- 
cient, and there was no need of thinking of anything 
more. But if their aim was to elevate the normal con- 
dition of their class, then more drastic remedies were 
requisite ; and, in the first instance, a political agitation 
was indispensable. The Leipzig working men had dis- 
cussed the question of their relation to politics at a 
previous congress a few months before, and had been 
divided between abstaining from politics altogether, and 
supporting the Progressist party. Lassalle disapproved 
of both these courses. They could never achieve the 
elevation they desired till they got universal suffi-age, 
and they would never get universal sufirage by backing 
the Progressists who were opposed to it He then 
explains to them how their normal condition is per- 
manently depressed at present by the essential laws of 
the existing economical rSgime, especially by " the iron 
and cruel law of necessary wages." The only real cure 
was co-operative production, the substitution of asso- 
ciated labour for wage labour ; for it was only so the 
operation of this tyrannical law of wages could be 
escaped. Now co-operative production, to be of any 
eflTective extent, must be introduced by State help and 
on State credit The State gives advances to start rail- 
ways, to develop agriculture, to promote manufactures, 
and nobody calls it socialism to do so. Why should 
people cry socialism if the State does a similar service 
to the great working class, who are, in fact, not a class 
but the State itself. 96i per cent of the population 
are ground down by " the iron law," and cannot possibly 


lift themselves above it by their own power. They 
must ask the State to help them, for they are themselves 
the State, and the help of the State is no more a super- 
seding of their own self-help than reaching a man a 
ladder supersedes his own climbing. State help is but 
self-help's means. Now these State advances cannot be 
expected till the working class acquires political power 
by universal sufirage. Their first duty was therefore to 
organize themselves and agitate for universal sufirage ; 
for universal sufirage was a question of the stomach. 

The reception his letter met with at first was most 
discouraging. The newspapers with one consent con- 
demned it, except a feudalist organ here and there who 
saw in it an instrument for damaging the Liberals, 
What seemed more ominous was the opposition of the 
working men themselves. The Leipzig Committee to 
whom it was addressed did indeed approve of it, and 
individual voices were raised in its favour elsewhere, 
but in Berlin the working men's clubs rejected it with 
decided warmth, and all over the country one working 
men's club after another declared against it. Leipzig 
was the only place in which his words seemed to find 
any echo, and he went there two months later and 
addressed a meeting at which only 7 out of 1300 voted 
against him. With this encouragement he resolved to 
go forward, and founded, on the 23rd of May, 1863, the 
General Working Men's Association for the promotion 
of universal sufirage by peaceful agitation, after the 
model of the English Anti-Corn Law League. He 
immediately threw himself with imsparing energy into 
the development of this organization. He passed fix>m 
place to place, delivering speeches, establishing branches ; 


he started newspapers, wrote pamphlets, and even 
larger works, published tracts by Rodbertus, songs by 
Herwegh, romances by Von Schweitzer. But it was 
uphill worL South Oermany was evidently dead to 
his ideas, and even among those who followed him in 
the North there were but few who really understood 
his doctrines or concurred in his methods. Some were 
for more " heroic " procedure, for raising fighting corps 
to free Poland, to free Schleswig-Holstein, to fi-ee 
oppressed nationalities anywhere. Many were perfectly 
impracticable persons who knew neither why exactly 
they had come together, nor where exactly they would 
like to go. There were constant quarrels and rivalries 
and jealousies among them, and he is said to have 
shown remarkable tact and patience, and a genuine 
governing faculty in dealing with theuL Lassalle's hope 
was to obtain a membership of 100,000 : with a smaller 
number nothing could be done, but with 100,000 the 
movement would be a power. In August, 1863, he had 
only enrolled 1,000 after three months' energetic labour, 
which, he said, " would have produced colossal results 
among a people like the French." He was intensely 
disappointed, and asked " when will this foolish people 
cast aside their lethargy ? " but meanwhile repelled the 
suggestion of the secretary of the organization that it 
should be at once dissolved. In August, 1864, another 
ye€ur's strenuous work had raised their numbers only to 
4,610, and Lassalle was completely disenchanted, and 
wrote the Countess Hatzfeldt from Switzerland, shortly 
before his death, that he was continuing President of 
the Association much against his will, for he was now 
tired of politics, which was mere child's play if one had 



not power. He seems to have been convinced that the 
movement was a failure, and would never become a 
force in the State. Yet he was wrong ; his words had 
reaUy taken fire among the working classes, and kindled 
a movement which, in its curious history, has^shown the 
remarkable power of spreading fester with the checks 
it encountered. It seems to have profited, not merely 
from political measures of repression, but even fix^m the 
internal dissensions and divisions of its own adherents, 
and some oersons tell us that it was first stimulated 
into decided vigour by the fatal event which might have 
been expected to crush it — the sudden and tragical 
death of its chief. 

In the end of July, 1864, Lassalle went to Switzerland 
ostensibly for the Righi whey cure, but really to make 
the acquaintance of Herr von Donnigsen, Bavarian 
Envoy at Berne, whose daughter he had known in 
Berlin, and wished to obtain in marriage. It is one of 
the fatalities that entangled this man's life in strange 
contradictions, that exactly he, a persona ingratissima 
to Court circles, their very arch-enemy, as they believed, 
should have become bound by deep mutual attachment 
with the daughter of exactly a German diplomatist, the 
courtliest of the courtly, a Conservative seven times 
refined. They certainly cherished for one another a 
sincere, and latterly a passionate affection, and they 
seem to have been well fitted for each other. Helena 
von Donnigsen was a bright, keen-witted, eccentric, 
adventurous young woman of twenty-five, and so like 
Lassalle, even in appearance, that when she was acting 
a man's part, years afterwards (in 1874), in some 
amateur performance in the theatre of Breslau, Lassalle's 


native town, many of the audience said, here was 
LassaUe again as he was when a bov. Learning from a 
common friend in Beriin that Lassalle was at the Righi, 
she made a visH to some friends in Berne, and soon 
after accompanied them on an exenrsion to that 
" pc^ular " mountain. She inquired for Lassalle at the 
hotel, and he joined the party to the summit She 
knew her parents would be opposed to the match, but 
felt certain that her lover, with his gifte and charms, 
would be able to win them over, and it was accordingly 
agreed that when she returned to GeneA-a, Lassalle 
should go there too, and press his suit in person. The 
parents, however, were inexorable, and reftised to see 
him; and the young lady in despair fled from her 
fether 8 house to her lover's lodging, and urged him to 
elope with her. Lassalle cahnly led her back to her 
father's roof, with a control which some writers think 
quite inexplicable in him, but which was probably due 
to his still believing that he would be able to talk the 
parents round if he got the chance, and to his desire to 
try constitutional means before resorting to revolutionary. 
Helena was locked in her room for days alone with her 
excited brain and panting heart For days, father, 
mother, sister, brother, all came and laid before her 
what ruin she was bringing on the family for a mere 
selfish whim of her own. If she married a man so 
objectionable to people in power, her fether would be 
obliged to resign his post, her brother could never look 
for one, and her sister, who had just been engaged to a 
count, would, of course, have to give up her engage- 
ment She was in despair, but ultimately submitted 
passively to write to Lassalle, desiring him to consider 


the matter ended, and submitted equally passively (for 
she infonns us herself) to accept the hand of Herr von 
Racowitza, a young Wallachian Boyar, whom she had 
indeed been previously engaged to, and sincerely liked 
and respected, without in the eminent sense loving hiuL 
Lassalle had meanwhile wrought himself into a fury of 
excitement Enraged by her parents' opposition, en- 
raged still more by their refusal even to treat with him, 
enraged above all by his belief that their daughter was 
being illegitimately constrained, he wrote here, wrote 
there, tried to get the foreign minister at Munich to 
interfere, to get Bishop Ketteler to use his influence, 
promised even to turn Catholic to please the Donnigsens, 
forgetting that they were Protestants. All in vain. At 
last two of his friends waited by appointment on Herr 
von Donnigsen, and heard from Helena's own lips that 
she was to be married to the Boyar, and wished the 
subject no more mentioned. She now tells us that she 
did this in sheer weariness of mind, and with a confused 
hope that somehow or other the present storm would 
blow past, and she might have her Lassalle after alL 
Lassalle, however, was overcome with chagrin, and 
though he always held that a democrat should not fight 
duels, and had got Robespierre's stick, which he usually 
carried, as a present for having declined one, he now 
sent a challenge both to the father and the brid^room. 
The latter accepted. The duel was fought Lassalle 
was fatally wounded, and died two days after, on the 
31st August, 1864, at the age of 39. Helena married 
Herr Racowitza shortly afterwards, but he was already 
seized with consumption, and she says she found great 
comfort, after the tumult and excitement of the Lassalle 


episode, in nursing him during the few months he lived 
after their marriage. 

The body was sent back to Germany, after funeral 
orations from revolutionists of aU countries and colours, 
and the Countess Hatzfeldt had made arrangements for 
similar funeral celebrations at every halting place along 
die route to Berlin, where she meant it to be buried, 
but at Cologne it was intercepted by the police on 
behalf of the liassalle family, and carried quietly to 
Breslau, where, after life's fitful fever, he was laid 
silently with his fathers in the Jewish burying-ground of 
his native place. Fate, however, had not even yet done 
with him. It followed him beyond the tomb to throw 
one more element of the bixarre into his strangely 
compounded history. Lest the death of the leader should 
prove fetal to the cause, the Committee of the General 
Working Men's Association, determined to turn it, if 
possible, into a source of strength, as B. Becker, his 
successor in the president's chair, informs us, "by 
carrying it into the domain of faith." Lassalle was not 
dead but only translated to a higher and surer leadership. 
A Lassalle cultus was instituted, and Becker says that 
many a Gterman working man believed that he died for 
them, and that he was yet to come again to save them. 
This singular apotheosis, which is neither creditable to 
the honesty of the leaders of the Socialist movement, 
nor to the intelligence of its rank and file, was kept up 
by periodical celebrations among those of the German 
socialists who are generally known as the orthodox 
Lassalleans, down, at least, to the time of the Anti- 
Socialist Law of 1878. 

Lassalle's doctrines are mainly contained in his lecture 


on "The Present Age and the Idea of the Working 
Class," which he delivered in 1862, and published in 
1863, under the title of the "Working Men's Pro- 
gramme," and in his "Herr Bastiat-Schultze von 
Delitzseh, der Oekonomische Julian ; oder Capital und 
Arbeit," Berlm, 1864. 

In the " Working Men*s Progranune," the question of 
the emancipation of the working class is approached and 
contemplated from the standpoint of the H^elian philo- 
sophy of history. There are, it declares, three successive 
stages of evolution in modem history. First, the period 
before 1789, the feudal period, when all public power 
was vested in, exercised by, and employed for the benefit 
of, the landed class. It was a period of privileges and 
exemptions, which were enjoyed by the landed interests 
exclusively, and there prevailed a strong social contempt 
for all labour and employment not connected with the 
land. Second, the period 1789-1848, the bourgeois 
period, in which personal estate received equal rights and 
recognition with real, but in which political power was 
still based on property qualifications, and l^islation was 
governed by the interests of the bourgeoisie. Third, the 
period since 1848, the age of the working class, which 
is, however, only yet struggling to the birth and to legal 
recognition. The characteristic of this new period is, 
that it will for the first time give lalwur its rights, and 
that it will be dominated by the ideas, aspirations, and 
interests of the great labouring class. Their time has 
already come, and the bourgeois age is already past in 
fact, though it still lingers in law. It is always so. 
The feudal period had in reality come to an end before 
the Revolution. A revolution is always declarative and 


never creative. It takes place first in the heart of 
society, and is only sealed and ratified by the outbreak. 
''It is impossible to make a revolution, it is possible 
only to give external legal sanction and efiect to a 
revolution already contained in the actual circumstances 

of society To seek to make a revolution is 

the folly of inmiature men who have no consideration 
for tiie laws of histoiy ; and for the same reason it is 
inmiature and puerile to try to stem a revolution that 
has already completed itself in the interior of society. 
If a revolution exists in fact, it cannot possibly be 
prevented from ultimately existing in law.'' It is idle, 
too, to reproach those who desire to effect tiiis transition 
with being revolutionaiy. They are merely midwives 
who assist in bringing to the birth a future with which 
society is already pregnant Now, it is this midwife 
service that Lassalle believes the working class at present 
requires. He says of the fourth estate what Sieyfes 
said of the third, What is the fourth estate ? Nothing ? 
What ought the fourth estate to be? Everything. 
And it ought to be so in law, because it is so already 
in fact The bourgeoisie in overthrowing the privileges 
of the feudal class, had almost immediately become a 
privileged class itself. At so early a period of the 
revolution as the 3rd of September, 1791, a distinction 
was introduced between active and passive citizens. 
The active citizen was the citizen who paid direct taxes, 
and had, therefore, a right to vote ; the passive citizen 
was he who paid no direct taxes, and had no right to vote. 
The effect of this distinction was to exclude the whole 
labouring classes from the franchise ; and under the July 
Monarchy, while the real nation consisted of some 


thirty millions^ the l^al nation (pays I4gal), the people 
legally possessed of political rights, amounted to no 
more than 200,000, whom the Qovemment found it only 
too easy to manage and corrupt The revolution of 
1848 was simply a revolt against this injustice. It was 
a revolt of the fourth estate against the privileges of the 
third, as the first revolution was a revolt of the third 
against the privileges of the other two. Nor were the 
privileges in which Uie bourgeoisie had contrived to infeft 
tiiemselves confined to political rights alone ; they 
included also fiscal exemptions. According to the latest 
statistical returns, it appeared that five-sixths of the 
revenue of Prussia came fix)m indirect taxation, and 
indirect taxes were always taken disproportionately out 
of the pockets of the working class. A man might be 
twenty times richer than another, but he did not 
therefore consume twenty times the amount of bread, 
salt, or beer. Taxation ought to be in ratio of means, 
and indirect taxation — so much favoured by the 
bourgeoisie — ^was simply an expedient for saving the rich 
at the expense of the poor. 

Now, the revolution of 1848 was a fight for the 
emancipation of the working class from this unequal 
distribution of political rights and burdens. The 
working class was really not a class at all, but was the 
naticm ; and the aim of the State should be their 
amelioration. ''What is the State?'' asks Lassalle. 
" You we the State," he replies. " You are ninety-six 
per cent, of the population. All political power ought to 
be of you, and through you, and for you ; and your good 
and amelioration ought to be the aim of the State. It 
ought to be so, because your good is not a class interest 


but is the national interest. The fourth estate differs 
from the feudal interest, and differs from the bourgeoiaiey 
not merely in that it is not a privileged class, but in 
tiiat it cannot possibly become one. It cannot 
degenerate, as the bourgeoisie had done, into a privileged 
and exclusive caste; because, consisting as it does of 
the great body of the people, its class interest and the 
conmion good are identical, or at least harmonious. 
'^Your afiieiir is the affair of mankind; your personal 
interest moves and beats with the pulse of history, with 
the living jninciple of moral development" 

Such then is the idea of the working class, which is, 
or is destined to be, the ruling principle of society in the 
present era of the world. Its supremacy will have 
important consequences, both ethical and political 
Ethically, the working class is less selfish than the 
classes above it, simply because it has no exclusive 
privileges to maintain. The necessity of maintaining 
privileges always develops an assertion of personal 
interest in exact proportion to the amount of privilege 
to be defended, and that is why the selfishness of a 
class constantly exceeds the individual selfishness of the 
members that compose it Now under the happier 
rSgime of the idea of labour, there would be no 
exclusive interests or privileges, and therefore less 
selfishness. Adam would delve, and Eve would spin^ 
and consciously or unconsciously, each would work 
more for the whole, and the whole would work more 
for each. Politically, too, the change would be 
remarkable and beneficial The working class has a 
quite different idea of the State and its aim from the 
bourgeome. The latter see no other use in the State 


but to protect personal freedom and property. The 
State is a mere night-watchman, and, if there were no 
thieves and robbers, would be a superfluity ; its occupa- 
tion would be gone. Its whole duty is exhausted when 
it guarantees to every individual the unimpeded exercise 
o( his activity as &r as consistent with the like right of 
his neighbours. Even irom its own point of view this 
bourgeois theory of the State feils to effect its purpose. 
Instead of securing equality of freedom, it only secures 
equality of right to freedom. If all men were equal in 
fiu3t, this might answer well enough, but since they are 
not, the result is simply to place the weak at the mercy 
of the powerful. Now the working class have an 
entirely different view of the State's mission from this. 
They say the protection of an equality of right to 
fi'eedom is an insufficient aim for the State in a morally 
ordered community. It ought to be supplemented by 
the securing of solidarity of interests and community 
and reciprocity of development • History all along is an 
incessant struggle with Nature, a victory over miseiy, 
ignorance, poverty, powerlessness — i.e., over unfreedom, 
thraldom, restrictions of all kinds. \ The perpetual 
conquest over these restrictions is the development of 
freedom, is the growth of culture. Now this is never 
effected by each man for himself. It is the function of 
the State to do it The State \b the union of individuals 
into a moral whole which multiplies a millionfold the 
aggregate of the powers of each. The end and function 
of the State is not merely to guard fi'eedom, but to 
develop it ; to put the individuals who compose it in a 
position to attain and maintain such objects, such levels 
of existence, such stages of culture, power, and freedom, 


as ihey would have been incapable of reaching b; their 
own individual efforts alone. The State is the great 
agency for guiding and training the human race to 
positive and progressive development ; in other words, 
for bringing human destiny (Le., the culture of which 
man as man is susceptible) to real shape and form in 
actual existence. Not freedom, but development is now 
the keynote. The State must take a positive part, 
proportioned to its inmiense capacity, in the great work 
which, as he has said, constitutes history, and must 
forward man's progressive conquest over misery, ignor- 
ance, poverty, and restrictions of eveiy sort This is 
the purpose, the essence, the moral nature of the State, 
which she can never entirely abrogate, without ceasing 
to be, and which she has indeed always been obliged, 
by the very force of things, more or less to fulfil, often 
without her conscious consent, and sometimes in spite 
of the opposition of her leaders. In a word, the State 
must, by the union of all, help each to his full develop- 
ment This was the earnest and noble idea of 1848. 
It is the idea of the new age, the age of labour, and it 
cannot fail to have a most important and beneficial 
hewing on the course of politics and l^islation when- 
ever it is permitted to have free operation in that sphere 
by means of universal and direct suffrage. 

This exposition of Lassalle's teaching in his "Work- 
ing Men's Programme" already furnishes us with the 
transition to his economical views. Every age of the 
world has its own ruling idea. The idea of the working 
class is the ruling idea of the new epoch we have now 
entered on, and that idea implies that every man is 
entitled to a menschemoUrdiges Ddsein, to an existence 


worthy of his moral destiny, and that the State is bound 
to make this a governing consideration in its legislative 
and executive work. Man's destiny is to progressive 
civilization, and a condition of society which makes 
progressive civilization the exclusive property of the 
few, and practically debars the vast mass of the people 
from participation in it, stands in the present age self- 
condemned. It no longer corresponds to its own idea. 
Society has long since declared no man shall be enslaved; 
society has more recently declared no man shall be 
ignorant ; society now declares no man shall be without 
property. He cannot be really free without property 
any more than he can be really free without knowledge. 
He has been released successively from a state of l^al 
dependence and frt)m a state of intellectual dependence; 
he must now be released from a state of economical 
dependence. This is his final emancipation, which is 
necessary to enable him to reap any fruits from the 
other two, and it cannot take place without a complete 
transformation of present industrial arrangements. It is 
a common mistake to say that socialists take their stand 
on equsdity. They really take their stand on freedom. 
They aigue that the positive side of freedom is develop- 
ment, and if every man has a right to freedom, then 
every man has a right to the possibility of development, 
From this right, however, they allege the existing 
industrial system absolutely excludes the great majority. 
The freeman cannot realize his freedom, the individual 
cannot realize his individuality, without a certain 
external economical basis of work and enjoyment, and 
the best way to frunish him with this is to clothe him 
in various ways with collective property. 


LaBsalle's argument, however, is still more specific 
than this. In the beginning of his '^Herr Bastiat- 
Schultze/' he quotes a passage from his previous work 
on " The System of Acquired Rights," which he informs 
us he had intended to expand into a systematic treatise 
on "The Principles of Scientific National Economy." 
This intention he was actually preparing to fulfil when 
the Leipzig invitation and letter diverted him at once 
into practical agitation. He regrets that circumstances 
had thus not permitted the practical agitation to be 
preceded by the theoretical codex which should be the 
basis for it, but adds that the substance of his theory 
is contained in this polemic against Schultze Delitzsch, 
though the form of its exposition is considerably modified 
by his plan of following the idea of Schultze's "Working 
Men's Catechism," and by his purpose of answering 
Schultae's misplaced taunt of "half knowledge" by 
trying to extinguish the economical pretensions of the 
latter as completely as he had done the literary pre- 
tensions of Julian Schmidt " Every line I write," says 
Lassalle, with a characteristic finality of self-confidence, 
" I write armed with the whole culture of my century ;" 
and at any rate Schultze Delitzsch was far his inferior 
in economical as in other knowledge. In the passage 
to which I have referred, Lassalle says, " The world is 
now face to fEi.ce with a new social question, the question 
whether, since there is no longer any property in the 
immediate use of another man, there should still exist 
property in his mediate exploitation — Le.y whether the 
free realization and development of one's power and 
labour should be the exclusive private property of the 
owner of the instruments and advances necessary for 


labour — i.e., of capital ; and whether the employer as 
such, and apart from the remuneration of his own 
intellectual labour of management, should be permitted 
to have property in the value of other people's labour — 
i.e., whether he ought to receive what is known aa the 
premium or profit of capital, consisting of the difference 
between the selling price of the product and the sum of 
the wages and salaries of all kinds of labour, manual 
and mental, that have contributed to its production." 

His standing-point here, again, as always, belongs to 
the philosophy of history — to the idea of historical 
evolution with which his Hegelianism had early 
penetrated him. The course of legal history has been 
one of gradual but steady contraction of the sphere of 
private property in the interests of personal freedom and 
development. The ancient system of slavery, under 
which the labourer was the absolute and complete 
property of his master, was followed by the feudal 
system of servitudes, under which he was still only 
partially proprietor of himself, but was boimd by law to 
a particular lord by one or more of a most manifold 
series of specific services. These systems have been 
successively abolished. There is no longer property in 
man or in the use of man. No man can now be either 
inherited or sold in whole or in part He is his own, 
and his power of labour is his own. But he is still &r 
from being in full possession of himself or of his labour. 
He cannot work without materials to work on and 
instruments to work with, and for these the modem 
labourer is more dependent than ever labourer was 
before on the private owners in whose hands they have 
accumulated. And the consequence is that under 


existing industrial arrangements the modem labourer has 
no more individual property in his labour than the 
ancient slave had. He is obliged to part with the 
whole value of his labour, and content himself with 
bare subsistence in return. It is in this sense that 
socialist writers maintain property to be theft — not that 
subjectively the proprietors are thieves, but that objec- 
tively, under the exigencies of a system of competition, 
Uiey cannot help offering workmen, and workmen 
cannot help accepting, wages fer under the true value of 
their labour. Labour is the source of all wealth, for the 
value of anything — that which makes it wealth — is, on 
the economists' own showing, only another name for the 
amount of labour put into the making of it ; and labour 
is the only ground on which modem opponents of 
socialism, Thiers and Bastiat for example, think the 
right of individual property can be established. And 
yet on the methods of distribution of wealth that now 
exist, individual property is not founded on this its only 
justifiable basis, and the aim of socialism is to emanci- 
pate the system of distribution from the influence of 
certain unconscious forces which, as they allege, at 
present disturb it, and to bring back individual property 
for the first time to its natural and rightful foundation — 
labour. Their aim is not to abolish private property, 
but to purify it, by means of some systematic social 
r^ulation which shall give each man a share more 
conformable with his personal merit and contribution. 
liVen if no question is raised about the past, it is plain 
that labour is every day engaged in making more new 
property. Millions of labouring men are, day after day, 
converting their own brain, muscle, and sinew into 


uBefiil commodities, into value, into wealth. Now, the 
problem of the age, according to Lassalle, is this, 
whether this unmade property of the future should not 
become genuine labour property, and its value remain 
greatly more than at present in the hands that actuaUy 
produced it 

This, he holds, can only be done by a fundamental 
p^onstruction of the present industrial system, and by 
new methods of determining the remuneration of the 
labouring class. For there is a profound contradiction 
in the present system. It is unprecedentedly commu- 
nistic in production, and ui^)recedentedly individualistic 
in distribution. Now there ought to be as real a 
joint participation in the product, as there is ahready a 
joint participation in the work. Capital must become 
the servant of labour instead of its master, profits must 
disappear, industry must be conducted more on the 
mutual instead of the proprietary principle, and the 
instruments of production be taken out of private hands 
and turned into collective or even, it may be, national 
property. In the old epoch, before 1789, industrial 
society was governed by the principle of solidarity 
without freedom ; in the period since 1789, by freedom 
without solidarity, which has been even worse ; in the 
epoch now opening, the principle must be solidarity in 

Partisans of the present system object to any social 
interference with the distribution of wealth, but they 
forget how much — how entirely — that distribution is 
even now effected by social methods. The present 
arrangement of property, says Lassalle, is, in feet, noth- 
ing but an anarchic and unjust socialism. How do you 


define sockdism ? he asks. Socialism is a distribution 
of property by social channels. Now this is the condi- 
tion of things that exists to-day. There exists, under 
the guise of individual production, a distribution of 
property by means of purely objective movements of 
society. F(Mr there is a certain natural solidarity in 
things as they are, only being under no rational control, 
it operates as a wild natural force, as a kind of £Bbte 
destroying all rational freedom and all rational responsi- 
bility in economical affairs. In a sense, there never was 
more solidarity than there is now ; there never was so 
much interdependence. Under the large system of 
production, masses of workmen are simply so many 
component parts of a single great machine driven by the 
judgment or recklessness of an individual capitalist 
With modem facilities of intercommunication, too, the 
trade of the world is one and indivisible. A deficient 
cotton harvest in America carries distress into thousands 
of households in Lyons, in Elberfeld, in Manchester. 
A discovery of gold in Australia raises all prices in 
Europe. A simple telegram stating that rape prospects 
are good in Holland instantly deprives the oilworkers of 
Prussia of half their wages. So far frcHn there beins: 
any truth in the contention of Schultze Dditzsch, that 
the existing system is the only sound one, because it is 
founded on the principle of making eveiy man responsi- 
ble for his own doings, the very opposite is the case. 
The present system makes every man responsible for 
what he does not do. In consequence of the unpre- 
cedented interconnection of modem industry, the sum of 
conditions needed to be knoMn for its successfiil 
guidance have ao immensely increased that rational 



calculation is scarcely possible, and men are enriched 
without any merit, and impoverished without any &ult. 
According to Lassalle, in thfe absence as yet of an 
adequate system of commercifj statistics, the number of 
known conditions is always much smaller than the 
number of unknown, and the consequence is, that trade 
is very much a game of chance. Everything in modem 
industrial economy is ruled by social connections, by 
favourable or unfavourable situations and opportunities. 
Canjunctur is its great Orphic chain. Chance is its Provi- 
dence — Chance and his sole and equally blind counsellor, 
Speculation. Every age and condition of society, says 
Lassalle, tends to develop some phenomenon that more 
particularly expresses its type and spirit, and the purest 
type of capitalistic society is the financial speculator. 
Capital, he maintains, is a historical and not a logical 
category, and the capitalist is a modem product He is 
the development, not of the ancient Croesus or the 
media3val lord, but of the usurer, who has taken their 
place, but was in their lifetime hardly a respectable 
person. Croesus was a very rich man, but he was 
not a capitalist, for he could do anything with his 
wealth, except capitalize it The idea of money making 
money and of capital being self-productive, which 
Lassalle takes to be the governing idea of the present 
order of things, was, he says, quite foreign to earlier 
periods. Industry is now entirely under the control 
of capitalists speculating for profit No one now makes 
things first of all for his own use — as mythologizing 
economists relate — and then exchanges what is over 
for the like redundant work of his neighbours. Men 
make everything first of all, and last of all, for otiier 



people's use, and they make it at the direction and 
expense of a capitalist who is speculating for money, 
and, in the absence of systematic statistics, is specu- 
lating in the dark. Chance and social connections make 
him rich, chance and social connections bring him to 
ruin. Capital is not the result of saving, it is the result 
of canjtmctur ; and so are the vicissitudes and crises 
that have so immensely increased in modem times. 
What you have now, therefore, says LassaUe, is a system 
of socialism ; wealth is at present distributed by social 
means and by nothing else ; and all he contends for is, as 
he says, to substitute a regulated and rational socialism 
for this anarchic and natural socialism that now exists. 

His charge against the present system, however, is 
more than that it is anarchic; he maintains it to be 
unjust — organicaUy and hopelessly unjust The labourer's 
back is the green table on which the whole game is 
played, and all losses are in the end sustained by him. 
A slightly unfavourable turn of things sends him at once 
into want, while even a considerably fiftvourable one 
brings him no corresponding advantage, for according to 
all economists, wages are always the last thing to rise 
with a reviving trade. The present system is in &ct 
incapable of doing the labourer justice, and would not 
suffer employers to do so even if tliey wished. Iiyustice 
is bred in its very bone and blood. In this contention 
LassaUe builds his whole aigument on premises drawn 
from the accepted economical authorities. Socialist 
economy, he says, is nothing but a battle against 
Ricardo, whom he describes as the last and most repre- 
sentative development of bou/rgeaia economy; and it 
fights the battle with Ricardo's own weapons, and on 

too FBRKir Aim UkSfiALUB. 

ttieavdo's own gronad. There are two pmciples in 
particular of wliich it makes madtt vae, Bioardo's law of 
value and Bicardo'0 law of natural or necessary wages. 
; Ricardo's law of value is that the value of a com- 
modil^, or the quantity of any odier commodity for 
which it will exdiange, depends on the rehUive quantity 
of labour which is Decessary for its production, and not 
<»i the greater or leas oom^nsation which is paid for 
that labo«r. Value is thus resolved into so much 
laboWy or what is the same thing, so much time oon- 
sumed in labour/ mental and manual, upon the com- 
modity. This reduction of value to quantity of time is 
reckoned by Lassfdle the one great merit of Ricardo and 
the Ei^Iidi eoononusts. Ittcardo, however, strictiy 
limited his law to oommodities that admitted of in- 
de&»ite multiplication, the value of other oon»afK>ditieB 
being, he held, regulated by their scarcity ; and he con- 
fined it to the normal value of the commodities only, 
the fluctuations of their market-price depending on 
other oonsiderations. But Lassalle seeks to make it 
cover tiiese eases also by means of a distinctioB he 
<hraws be<;ween individual time of labour, and Bodally 
necessary thne of labour. Acco;*ding to this distinotioa 
what constitutes the vahie of a product is not the 
time actually taken or required by the perscm wbio 
made it ; for he may have been indolent or slow, or 
may not have used die means and apphances irviych 
tiie age he lived in afforded him. What constitutes 
value is the average time of labour socially neoeswury, 
the time required by labour of average efficiency using 
the Methods the age supplies. If the oonunodit^ can be 
produced in an hour, an hour's worit wUl be its valae^ 


thongfa yra have tekea lea to ^xxlace U bj aloiw 
neAods. So fiir ih&e is nothing very reaiaikaUc^ but 
Tftnwillo goes ob to aigue that y o« may waste your tuaa 
not merely by osing methods thai society has super- 
seded, bat by ptodacing coouaodities that society no 
long^ wants. Yoa go on ~^«>H?^ shoe-bttckles after 
th^ have gone out of &shion, and yoo can get nothing 
for theoi. They have no vahie. And why ? BecausSi 
while they indeed represent labour, they do not ragiie- 
sent socially necessary labour. So again with over- 
production: you may produce a greater amount of a 
coBHBodity than sodety requires at the time. The vahie 
ol the commodity fidk. Why ? Because while it has 
cost as much actual labour as before, it has- not cost so 
much socially necessary labour. In fi^ct the labour it 
has taken has been socially unnecessary, tor there was 
no demand for the product On the other hand — and 
we are entitled to make this expansion of Lassalle s 
aigum^it — ^take the case of under-production, of deficient 
supply. Pnoes rise. What is usually known as a 
scarcity value is conferred <m commodities. But this 
scaraty value Lassalle converts into a labour value ; the 
commodity is produced by the same individual labour, 
but the labour is moce socially necessary. In plain 
English, there is more demand for the product 

Lasealle's distinction m thus an ingenious invention 
for expressing rarity value ua terms of labour value. It 
has no theoretical importance, but is of some practical 
service in the sociali^ic argument That argument is 
not tibat value is constituted by labour pure and sample, 
but by labour modified by certain general conditions of 
society ; coly it holds that these ooaditionfl — oonditions 


of productivity, of rarity, of demand — ^have been created 
by nobody in particular, and that, therefore, nobody in 
particular should profit by them, and that so £gu* as the 
problem of the distribution of value goes, the one factor 
in the constitution of value which needs to be taken 
into account in settling that problem, is labour. All 
value comes fix)m labour, represents so much time of 
labour, is, in fact, so much "labour-jelly," so much 
preserved labour. 

While one accepted economical law thus declares that 
all value is conferred by the labourer, and is simply his 
sweat, brain, and sinew incorporated in the product, 
another economical law declares that he gains no advan- 
tage fix^m the productivity of his own work, and that 
whatever value he produces, he earns only the same wages 
— ^bare customary subsistence. In that lies the alleged 
iigustice of the present system. Von Thuenen, the 
fiunous Feudalist landowner, and economical experiment- 
alist, said, many years ago, that when the modem working 
class once b^an to ask the question, What is natural 
wages? a revolution might arise which would reduce 
Europe to barbarism. This is the question Lassalle 
asked, and by which mainly he stirred up socialism. 
The effect of the previous argument was to raise the 
question. What is the labourer entitled to get? and to 
suggest the answer, he is entitled to get everything. 
The next question is, What, then, does the labourer 
actually get ? and the answer is, that on the economists' 
own showing, he gets just enough to keep soul and 
body together, and on the present system can never get 
any more. Ricardo, in conunon with all orthodox 
economists; had taught that the value of labour^ Uke 


the value of everything else, was determmed by the cost 
of its production, and that the cost of the production of 
labour meant the cost of the labourer's subsistence 
according to the standard of living customary among his 
class at the time. Wages might rise for a season above 
this level, or fidl for a season below it, but they always 
tended to return again to it, and would not permanently 
settle anywhere else. When they rose higher, the labour- 
ing class were encouraged by their increased prosperity to 
marry, and eventually their numbers were thus multiplied 
to such a degree that by the force of ordinary competition 
the rate of wages was brought down again ; when they 
fell lower, marriages diminished and mortality increased 
among the working class, and the result was such a 
reduction of their numbers as to raise the rate of wages 
again to its old level. This is the economical law of 
natural or necessary wages — " the iron and cruel law " 
which Lassalle declared absolutely precluded the wage- 
labourers — i.e.y 96 per cent, of the population — ^from all 
possibility of ever improving their condition or benefiting 
in the least from the growing productivity of their own 
work. This law converted industrial freedom into an 
aggravated slavery. The labourer was unmanned, taken 
out of a relationship which, with all its faults, was 
still a human and personal one, put under an impersonal 
and remorseless economical law, sent like a commodity 
to be bought in the cheapest market, and there dis- 
possessed by main force of competition of the value of 
the property which his own hands had made. Das 
BUgenthvm ist Fremdthum geworden. 

It is no wonder that teaching like this should move 
the minds of working men to an intolerable sense of 


despair and wrong. Nor was there any poesibiliiy of 
hope except in a revolution. For the injustioe com- 
plained of lay in the essence of the existing economical 
system^ and could not be removed^ except with the 
complete abolition of the system. The only solution 
of tiud question^ therefore^ was a socialistic reconstruct 
ti<Mi which should make the instruments ol production 
coUective property, and subordinate capital to labour^ 
but such a solution would of course be the work of 
generations, and meanwhile, the easiest mediod of tran- 
sition from the old order of things to the new, lay in 
establishing productive associations of working m^i on 
State credit These would form the living seed-oom of 
the new era. This was just Louis Blanc's scheme with 
two differences — vh., that the associations were to be 
formed gradually and that they were to be formed volun- 
tarily. The State was not asked to introduce a new 
organization of labour by force all at once, but merely 
to lend capital at interest to one sound and likely asso- 
ciation after another, as they successively claimed its 
aid This loan was not to be gratuitous, as the French 
socialists used to demand in 1848, and since there would 
be eventually only one association of the same trwie in 
each town, and since, besides, they would also establish 
a system of mutual assurance against loss, trade by 
trade, the State, it was urged, would really incur no 
risk. Lassalle, speaking of State help, said he did not 
want a hand from the State, but only a little iSnger, and 
he actually sought, in the first instance at least, no 
more than Mr Gladstone gives in the Irish Land 
Act The scheme was mainly urged, of course, in the 
interests of a sounder distribution of wealth; but 

Lassidle oontended that it would also inereaae produc- 
tion ; and it is important to remember that he says it 
would not otherwise be economicallj justifiable^ because 
'^ an increase of production is an indispensable condition 
of every improvement of our social state." This increase 
would be ^ected by a saving of cost^ in abolishing local 
competition^ doing away with middle-men and private 
d^pitalists, and adapting production better to needs. 
The business books of the association would form tlie 
bajBOS of a sound and trustworthy system of commercial 
statistics, so much required for the purpose of avoiding 
over-production. The change would, he thought, also 
introduce favourable alterations in consumption, and in 
the direction of production ; inasmuch as the taste of 
the working class for the substantial and the beautiful, 
would more and more supplant the taste of the bow- 
geaisie for the cheap and nasty. 

After the death of Lassalle, the movement he began 
departed somewhat finom the lines on which he launched 
it He was a national, not an international socialist 
He held that every country ^ould solve its own sociid 
question for itself, and that the working class movement 
was not, and should not be made, cosmopolitan. He 
was even, — as Prince Bismark said in Parliament, when 
taxed with having personal relations with him, — ^patriotic. 
At least he was an intense believer in Prussia; less, 
however, because he was a Prussian than because Prussia 
was a strong State, and because he thought that strong 
States alone could do the world's work in Germany or 
elsewhere. By nationality in itself he set but Uttie store ; 
a nationality had a right to separate exiatoQce if it could 


assert it, but if it were weak and struggling, its only duty 
was to submit with thankfulness to annexation by a 
stronger power. He wished his followers, therefore, to 
keep aloof fix^m the doings of other nations, and to con- 
centrate their whole exertions upon victory at the elections 
in their own country and the gradual development of 
productive associations on national loans. This restric- 
tion of the range of the movement had from the first 
dissatisfied some of its adherents, especially a certain 
active section who hated Prussia as much as Lassalle 
believed in her, and after the influence of the Inter- 
national began to make itself felt upon the agita- 
tion in Germany, this difference of opinion gathered 
gradually to a head. In 1868 a motion was brought 
before the general meeting of the League in &vour of 
establishing relations with the International and accept- 
ing its programme. The chief promoters of this motion 
were the two present leaders of the Social Democratic 
party in the Reichstag, Liebknecht — an insuigent of 
1848, a refugee in London till 1862, and thereafter a 
journalist in Germany — and Bebel, a cooper in Leipzig, 
and it was strongly opposed by the president of the 
League, Dr von Schweitzer, an advocate in Frankfort, 
and a strong champion of Prussia, who was elected to 
the presidency in 1866, just at the time the extension 
of the suffrage gave a fi'esh impetus to the movement, 
and whose energy and gifts of management contributed 
greatly to the development of the oiganisation. The 
motion was carried by a substantial majority, but before 
next year Von Schweitzer had succeeded in turning 
the tables on his opponents, and at the general 
meeting in 1869, Liebknecht and Bebel were expelled 


from the League, as traitors to the labourers' cause. 
After their expulsion they called together in the same 
year a congress of working men at Eisenach, which 
was attended mainly by del^ates from Austria and 
South Germany, and founded an independent organ- 
isation on the principles of the International and 
under the name of the Social Democratic Labour 
Party of Germany. The two organisations existed side 
by side till 1874, when a imion was effected between 
them at a general meeting at Gtotha, and they became 
henceforth the Socialist Labour Party. This was the 
burial of the national socialism of Lassalle, for though 
in deference to his followers, the new programme pro- 
mised in the meantime to work within national limits, 
it expressly recognised that the labourers' movement was 
international, and that the great aim to be striven after 
was a state of society in which every man should be 
obliged to share in the general labour according to his 
powers, and have a right to receive from the aggregate 
product of labour according to what was termed his 
rational requirements. Some '' orthodox Lassalleans," 
as they called themselves, held aloof from this com- 
promise, but they are too few to be of any importance. 

Among the causes which brought the odiers to so 
much unanimity was undoubtedly the establishment of 
the German Empire in 1871, which was viewed with 
imiversal aversion by socialists of every shade. On the 
outbreak of the war, Schweitzer and the members of the 
original League gave their sympathies warmly to the 
arms of their country, and the Social Democratic party 
was nearly equally divided on the subject ; but after the 
foundation of the French Republic, they all with one 

106 FBSPIMAiro hAaaAJ»IA. 

oooBent declared that tiie war ought ntew to oetiBe, aad 
the socialist deputies, no matter whieh organisation they 
belonged to, voted without exception against granting 
supplies for its continuance. They were likewise opposed 
to the recGgnition of the title <^ emperor and to the con- 
stitution of the empire, and indeed as repuUkans they 
could not be anything else. From a recollection mdnly of 
these votes Prince Bismarck considers the movement to 
be unpatriotic and hostile to tiie empire, and accordingly 
suppressed its propaganda in 1878, when its growth 
seemed likely to prove a serious dai^er to an empire 
whose stability was still &r from being assured by uiy 
experience of its advantages. The socialists retorted 
upon this policy at their congress at Wyden, Switzerland, 
in 187^ by striking out of tiieir programme the limitation 
of proceeding by legal means^ on the ground that the 
action of the government having made legal means im- 
practicable, no resource was left but to meet force by 
force. They have consequently thrown aside the last 
shred of the practical policy of Lassalle, and stand out 
now as a party of international revolution. 

The movement could, however, hardly help becoming 
international ; not, as some aU^, because this is a 
peculifuity of revolutionary parties; on the contrary, 
other parties may also exhibit it. What, for example, 
was the Holy Alliance but an international league of 
tile monarchical and aristocratic parties against the ad- 
vance of popular rights ? Nor is it a peculiarity of the 
present time only. No doubt the increased inter-com- 
munication and inter-depend^ice between countries now 
facilitates its development There are no longer nations 
in Europe, said Heine, but only parties. But in reaLUy 


H faafl always been nearly as much so as now. Any 
party foimded on a definite general principle or interest 
may in any age become intematiomd, and even what 
may seem unpatriotic The Protestants of France in 
the 16th century sought help from England, and the 
Jacobites of finglaiul in the 18th sov^t help frt)m 
France ; just as the German socialists of 1870 sided with 
the French after Sedan, and the French communists of 
1871 preferred to see their country occupied by the 
Germans rather than governed by the " Versaillais." In 
aU these cases the party principles were naturally inter- 
national and the party bias overcame the patriotic. 

Besides, the socialist is, almost by necessity of his 
position and principles, predisposed to discourage and 
condemn patriotism. Others indeed condemn it as well 
as he. Most of the great writers who revived German 
literature towards the b^inning of this century — Les- 
sing. Herder, Wieland, Goethe — ^have all disparaged it 
They looked on it as a narrow and obsolete virtue, useful 
enough perhaps in rude times, but a hindrance to rational 
progress now ; the modem virtue was humanity, the idea 
of which had just freshly burst upon their age like a new 
power. This consideration may no doubt to some extent 
weigh with socialists also, for their whole thinking is 
leavened with the notion of humanity, but their most 
immediate objection to patriotism is one of a practical 
nature. Their complaint used always to be that the 
proletarian had no country, because he was excluded 
from political rights. He was not a citizen, and why 
should he have the feelings of one ? But now he has 
got political rights, and they still complain. He is in 
the country, they say, but not yet of it. He is practi- 


cally excluded fix^m its civilization, fix>m all that makes 
the country worth living or fighting for. He has no 
country, for he is denied a man's share in the life that 
is going in any. Edmund Ludlow wrote over his door 
in exile — 

" Every land is my fittherland 
For all lands are my Father's." 

The modem socialist says, No land is my fittherland, for 
in none am I a son. He believes himself to be equally 
neglected in all, and that is precisely the severest strain 
that can try the patriotic sentiment. The proletarian is 
taught that in every country he is a slave, and that 
patriotism and religion only reconcile him to remaining so. 



It is a curious and not unmeaning circumstance that 
the country where Karl Marx is least known, is that in 
which for the last thirty years he lived and worked. 
His word has godt^into all the earth and evoked in 
some quarters echoes which governments will neither 
let live nor let die ; but here, where it was pronounced, 
its sound has scarcely been heard. His principal book, 
" Das Kiipital/' is a criticism of the modem industrial 
system as explained by English economists and ex- 
emplified in English society. Though written in 
German it seldom cites a German authority, but it 
shows an imusual knowledge of the earlier English 
economical writers ; it goes very fully into the circum- 
stances of English labour, as described in Parliamentary 
blue books; it constantly draws its illustrations from 
EngUsh industrial life, and always even states its money 
allusions in terms of English coin (probably because no 
other currency is so well known to so many nations.) 
Yet English is perhaps the only one of the greater 
languages of the civilized world in which this work has 
not been translated — ^a circumstance which is the more 
noteworthy, because it shows, that, however democratic 


socialism has spread in America, it has as yet taken no hold 
on the interest of the English-speaking population. Marx 
himself could have few more fervent desires than to eflfect 
a footing for his doctrines among the working class of 
this country ; for the great object to which he devoted 
his energies — ^with, I believe, a thoroughly disinterested, 
though mistaken zeal — ^for nearly forty years was the 
oiganization of a consentaneous international move- 
ment among the proletariate of all civilized nations for 
an organic reconstruction of society; and he declares 
unreservedly that any proletariate movement in which 
England takes no part is '' nothing better than a storm 
in a glass of water." For England is the classical land 
of the proletariate, where the mowter was first bred, 
where it has consequently grown to greatest maturity, 
and where, if anywhere, it must first show its might 
Yet the writings of Marx are hiuxQy better known in 
; this country than those of Confucius, and it is doubtful 
whether, outside of a few Radical clubs in London, the 
^English proletariate so much as know his name. In 
Russia, on the other hand, where there is no modem 
system of production and no modem proletariate at all, 
his work has had a large sale, as many as 3,000 copies 
having been disposed of within a year after the transla- 
tion appeared. That is to say, the book has had a 
striking success in the country to whose circumstances 
it a{^lie8 least, and the coldest reception in the country 
whose circumstances it most directly deals with. The 
fortunes of this work seem thus, to some extent, to mock 
the theory on which it is founded ; for if, as its author 
alleges, the course of industry is creating an intolerable 
ecoiMHmcal situation, it is at least noteworthy that the 

society where that situation is admittedly most eom^ 
pletely developed, and where, therefore, there oi^t to 
be the greatest call for socialism, should have made 
least response to it^ although it happens at die same 
time to be the society where those who are supposed to 
suffer from the situation possess the laigest freedom 
to express their mind. 

The reason of this is obvious; tile most energetic 
element in contemporary socialism is political rather 
than economical. The movement is before all revdu- 
tionary, and finds its easiest points of contact in 
quarters where a revolutionary opposition already exists. 
In Russia, it is true, there is more tiian one party whose 
ways of thinking would prepare them to give the 
socialistic idea a hospitable welcome. There is the 
national party, who believe the Russian mir and art^ 
are to supply the model for the social organization of 
naodem Europe, who are proud to think with Herzen 
that their despised peasant, disguised with dirt and 
muddled with brandy, has solved the social problem of 
the nineteenth century, and who would therefore give a 
ready ear to teaching which fed a hope so agreeable to 
their national vanity. But the party chiefly interested in 
socialism is the too well known party of disorder, who 
naturally entertain a fraternal sympathy with any sort of 
revolutionary agitation elsewhere. In EJngland again, 
there is no democratic or revolutionary opposition, 
organised or speculative. The Irish disaffection is 
founded on race antipathy and not on political princif>)to ; 
it is neither democratic nor monarchial; it is only 
nationalist ; and the anti-rent agitation was a sociaBstio 
lasunreetion with the socialism left out of it It 



contained no thought of social liquidation, and built 
\ its whole claim on ancient customary right and 
I not on modem abstractions. Apart from the Irish 
question, the course of politics in this country has 
long run very smooth ; none of the questions of the day 
have forced the fundamental principles of the existing 
system into popular debate ; there has been no abstract 
philosophical discussion of them of any deep-reaching 
kind ; and the working classes are preoccupied with the 
development of trades unions, of friendly societies, and of 
the great co-operative movement, from which, in spite 
of many discouragements, they not unwarrantably expect 
, great results. Revolutionary socialism is therefore quite 
' foreign to the present temper of the English mind ; and 
if it ever acquires a footing here, it will not be from any 
change in the economical situation, but it will be fr^m 
the growth of an energetic democratic agitation, excited 
either by the injudicious obstinacy of those in power, or 
by the direct teaching of influential thinkers. A demo- 
cratic party may not be all socialists, but it will ever 
have a strong tendency to socialism, which a section of 
the party will always follow. For, whatever may be 
the case with democracy triumphant and settled, demo- 
cracy militant, the democracy of an agitating party, is 
necessarily penetrated by an overmastering sense of the 
claims of numbers, and by a most dangerous deprecia- 
tion of the rights of individuals, and of the value of 
individuality. Now this conception of the unlimited 
right of the greatest number convoys you to the gates of 
socialism of the contemporary type, and you cannot well 
get to those gates without its convoy. 

The importance of this consideration will be apparent 


when we turn to Germany, the great home of contem- 
porary socialism, because we find that the present 
movement really originated there as a direct development 
of theoretical democracy, and that its spread has been 
greatly promoted by the presence throughout the country 
of revolutionary elements bred in the long struggle for 
political emancipation. Of course, the economic^ con- 
. ditions of such a movement existed. There was no 
doubt misery enough, and there were no doubt in- 
equalities enough of wealth in Germany, as there is 
misery enough, and as there are inequalities enough of 
wealth in most other places, to suggest the idea either 
to benevolent reformers or to less well-meaning dema- 
gogues, that some arrangement might be discovered, 
whereby the wealth that was now wasted by the rich 
might be made to circulate so as to lessen the wretched- 
ness of the poor. But as for as want went, the classes 
who felt most sorely pinched at the time were the pro- 
fessional classes, of whose straits Treitschke gives us an 
affecting picture, and the working classes in general 
were so insensible to their indigence that Lassalle said 
the first thing to be done was to teach them their 
misery. If we look to the spread of the movement, 
then next to the effective agitation of Lassalle, and to 
the impetus given by the concession of universal suffrage 
in 1866, which supplied an immediate practical work to 
concentrate the energies of the organization upon, what 
most contributed to it was the presence of the survivors 
of the political movement of 1848, and the continued 
development of similar political elements from the opera- 
tion of similar political causes. And if we go back to 
the earlier origin of the movement, to the time when 


its peculiar type of doctrine was first disseminated in 
Gennany, its representatives then — some of whom are 
its chief leaders still — would have scorned the sugges- 
tion that the revolution they contemplated had its 
origin, as Napoleon said all revolutions had, in the 
belly. To their thinking a revolution was the work of 
time, aided by philosophy. It was a product, on the 
one hand, of the natural forces of historical evolution, 
and, on the other, of philosophy teaching the people to 
take a conscious share in its production. The present 
form of socialism appeared first some forty years ago 
among the Young Hegelians as part of a very wide- 
reaching philosophy of life, and it was at once eagerly 
embraced by political exiles across the German border 
as their dream and hope for the future, even while, as 
they themselves believed, the very materials for making 
it a popular or triumphant movement had not as yet 
eome into existence. They were told that by ordinary 
process of historical evolution the labouring and lower 
middle classes were being rapidly converted into one 
immense proletariate, whose development would inevit- 
ably bring in a reign of democracy with socialism, and 
they sat by the waters of London or Geneva and waited 
— not without freaks of impatient and delusive anticipa- 
tion — for the birth of this great German proletariate 
which should break all bonds and effect the redemption 
of society. There are thus to be taken into account, in 
explaining German socialism, two special historical con- 
ditions which contributed to lend it its particular type, 
and to facilitate its subsequent spread. First, the re- 
markable course of philosophical speculation which the 
nation passed through in the earlier half of this century. 


and which spared nothing in heaven or earth from its 
most powerfiil cmcible ; and second, the long-standing 
struggle for political emancipation, which, accordii^ to 
Freiligrath's figure, kept Oermany in a restless agitation, 
like Hamlet, haunted incessantly by the ghost of its 
freedom, and maddening itself fitfully to fruitless re- 
venges. Now all this cannot be better illustrated than 
in connection with the career of Karl Marx, who waa 
probably the first of the Young H^elians to become a 
decided adherent of socialism, and who proclaimed then 
a socialism substantially identical with that which af>- 
pears to-day in an ampler form in his work on Capital. 

Bom at Treves in 1818, the son of a Christian Jew 
who had a hi^ post in the Civil Service, Marx was 
sent to the University of Bonn, towards the end of the 
'308, won a considerable reputation there in philosophy 
and jurisprudence, determined, like Lassalle, to devote 
himself to the academic profession, and seemed destined 
for an eminently successful career, in which his sub- 
sequent marriage with the sister of the Prussian Minister 
of State, Von Westphalen, would certainly have fiicili- 
taied his advancement. But at the University he came 
under the spell of Hegel, and passed, step by step, with 
the Extreme Left of the H^elian school, into the philo- 
sophical, religious, and political Radicalism which finally 
concentrated into the Humanism of Feuerbach. Just 
as he had finished his curriculum, the accession of 
Frederick William IV. in 1840 stirred a rustle of most 
misplaced expectation among the Liberals of Germany, 
who thought the day of freedom was at length to break, 
and who rose with generous eagerness to the taflks to 
which it was to summon them. Under the influence of 


these hopes and feelings, Marx abandoned the profes- 
sorial for an editorial life, and committed himself at the 
very outset of his days to a political position which 
compromised him hopelessly with German governments, 
and forced him, step by step, into a long career of 
revolutionary agitation and organization. He joined 
the staff of the Rhenish Gazette, which was founded 
at that time in Cologne by the leading Liberals of the 
Rhine country, including Camphausen and Hansemann, 
and which was the organ of the Young Hegelian, or 
or Philosophical Radical party, and he made so great 
an impression by his bold and vigorous criticism of the 
proceedings of the Rhenish Landtag that he was ap- 
pointed editor of the newspaper in 1842. In this post 
he continued his attacks on the Government, and they 
were at once so effective and so carefully worded that a 
special censor was sent from Berlin to Cologne to take 
supervision of his articles, and when this agency proved 
ineffectual, the journal was suppressed by order of the 
Prussian Ministry in 1843. From Cologne Marx went 
to Paris to be joint editor of the Deutsche Franzosische 
Jahrbiicher with Arnold Ruge, a leader of the Hegelian 
Extreme Left, who had been deprived of his professor- 
ship at the University of Halle by the Prussian Govern- 
ment, and whose magazine, the Deutsclie Jahrbiicher^ 
published latterly at Leipzig to escape the Prussian 
authority, had just been suppressed by the Saxon. The 
Deutsche Franzosische Jahrbiicher were published by 
the well-known Julius Froebel, who had some time 
before given up his professorship at Zurich to edit a 
democratic newspaper, and open a shop for the sale of 
democratic literature ; who professed himself a com- 


munist in Switzerland, and had written some able 
works, with very radical and socialistic leanings, but 
who seems to have gone on a different tack at the 
time of the Lassallean movement, for he was — as 
Meding shows us in his " Memoiren zur 2ieitgeschichte " 
— ^the prime promoter of the ill-fated Congress of 
Princes at Frankfort in 1865. The new magazine 
was intended to be a continuation of the suppressed 
Deutsche JahrbUcher, on a more extended plan, embrac- 
ing French as well as German contributors, and supplying 
in some sort a means of uniting the Extreme Left of 
both nations ; but no French contribution ever appeared 
in it, and it ceased altogether in a year's time, probably 
for commercial reasons, though there is no unlikelihood 
in the allegation sometimes made, that it was stopped 
in consequence of a difference between the editors as to 
the treatment of the question of communism. 

The Toung Hegelians had already b^un to take the 
keenest interest in that question, but were, for a time, 
curiously perplexed as to the attitude they should assume 
towards it. They seem to have been fascinated and 
repelled by turns by the system, and to have been 
equally unable to cast it aside or to commit themselves 
fairly to it. Karl Grim, himself a Young Hegelian, 
says that at first they feared socialism, and points, for 
striking evidence of this, to the fact that the Rhenish 
Oazette bestowed an enthusiastic welcome on Stein's 
book on French communism, although that book con- 
demned the system from a theologically orthodox and 
politically reactionary point of view. But he adds that 
the Toung Hegelians contributed to the spread of 
socialism against their wiU, that it was through the 

interest they took in its speculations and experiments 
that sociali^n aoquired credit and support in public 
opinion in Gtermany^ and that the earUest traces of 
avowed socialism are to be found in the Rhenish Oaaette. 
If we may judge by the extracts from some of Marx's 
articles in that journal which are given in Bruno Bauer's 
" VoUstandige Geschichte der Parthd-Eampfe in Deut- 
schland wahrend der Jahre 1842-46/' we should say that 
Marx was even at this early period a decided socialist^ 
for he often complains of the great wrong " the poor 
dumb millions " suffer in being excluded by their poverty 
from the possibility of a free development of their powers, 
^'and from any participation in the fruits of civiliza- 
tion/' and maintains that the State had &r oth^ duty 
towards them than to come in contact with iiiem only 
through the police. When Ruge visited Cabet in Paris 
he said that he and his friends (meaning, he explained, 
the philosophical and political opposition) stood so &r 
aloof frx)m the question of communism that they had 
never yet so much as raised it, and that, while th^^ 
were communists in Germany, there was no commun- 
istic party. This statement is probably equivalent to 
saying that he and his school took as yet a purely theo- 
retical and platonic interest in socialism, and had not 
come to adopt it as part of their practical programme. 
Most of them were already communists by conviction, 
and the others felt their general philosophical and politi- 
cal principles forcing them towards communism, imd 
the reason of their hesitation in accepting it is probably 
expressed by Ruge, when he says (in an article in Hein- 
aen's "Die Opposition," p. 103), that the element of 
truth in communism was its sense of the necessity of 


political emaDcipation, but that there was a great danger 
of communists forgetting the political question in their 
zeal for the social. It was chiefly under the influence 
of the Humanism into which Feuerbach had transformed 
the Idealism of H^el^ that the Hegelian Left passed 
into comnmnism. Humanist and communist became 
nearly convertible terms. Friedrich Engels mentions in 
his book on the condition of the English working classes, 
published in 1845, that all the German communists of 
that day were followers of Feuerbach, and most of the 
followers of Feuerbach in Germany (Ruge seems to have 
remained an exception) were communists. Stein attri- 
buted French socialism greatly to the prevailing sensual- 
istic character of French philosophy, which conceived 
enjoyment to be man's only good, and never rose to 
what he calls the great German conception, the 
logical conception of the Ego, the idea of knowing 
for the sake of knowing. The inference this contrast 
suggests is that the metaphysics of Germany had been her 
protector, her national guard, against socialism, but, as we 
see, at the very time he was writing the guard was turning 
traitor, and a native socialism was springing up by 
natural generation out of the idealistic philosophy. The 
fiwjt, however, rather confirms the force of Stein's re- 
mark, for the Hegelian idealism first bred the more 
sensualistic system of humanism, and then humanism 
bred socialism. 

Hegel had transformed the transcendental world of 
current opinion, with its personal deity and personal 
immortality, into a world of reason; and Feuerbach 
went a step further, and abolished what he counted the 
transcendency of reason itselE Heaven and God, he 

122 KARL IfARX. 

entirely admitted, were nothing but subjective illusions, 
fieuitastic projections of man's own being and his own 
real world into external spheres. But mind, an 
abstract entity, and reason, a universal and single 
principle, were, in his opinion, illusions too. There 
was nothing real but man — the concrete flesh and blood 
man who thinks and feels. ^^ God," says Feuerbach, 
speaking of his mental development, " was my first 
thought. Reason my second, Man my third and last" 
He passed, as Lange points out, through Comte's three 
epochs. Theology was swept away, and then meta- 
physics, and in its room came a positive and materialistic 
anthropology which declared that the senses were the 
sole sources of real knowledge, that the body was not 
only part of man's being, but its totality and essence, 
and in short that man is what he eats — Der Memch ist 
was er last. Man, therefore, had no other God before 
man, and the promotion of man's happiness and culture 
in this earthly life — which was his only life — was the 
sole natural object of his political or religious interest 
This system was popularised by Feuerbach's brother 
Friedrich, in a little work called the " Religion of the 
Future," which enjoyed a high authority among the 
German communists, and formed a kind of lectionary 
they read and commented on at their stated meetings. 
The object of the new religion is thus described in it : — 
^^Man alone is our God, our father, our judge, our 
redeemer, our true home, our law and rule, the alpha 
and omega of our political, moral, public, and domestic 
life and work. There is no salvation but by man." And 
the cardinal artioles of the fidth are that human nature 
is holy, that the impulse to pleasure is holy, that every- 


thing which gratifies it is holy, that every man is destined 
and entitled to be happy, and for the attainment of this 
end has the right to claim the greatest possible assistance 
from others, and the duty to afford the same to them in 

Now the tendency of this metaphysical and moral 
teaching was strongly democratic and socialistic. There 
was said to be in the existing political system a false 
transcendency identical with that of the current religious 
system. King and council hovered high and away 
above the real life of society in a world of their own, 
looking on political power as a kind of private property, 
and careless of mankind, from whom it sprang^ to whom 
it belonged, and by whom and for whom it should be 
administered. " The princes are gods," says Feuerbach, 
'^ and they must share the same fate. The dissolution 
of theology into anthropology in the field of thought is 
the dissolution of monarchy into republic in the field of 
politics. Dualism, separation is the essence of theology ; 
dualism, separation is the essence of monarchy. There 
we have the antithesis of God and world ; here we have 
the antithesis of state and people." This dualism must 
be abolished. The state must be humanized — must be 
made an instrument in the hands of all for the welfare 
of all ; and its inhabitants must be politized, for they, all 
of them, constitute the polls. Man must no longer be a 
means, but must be everywhere and always an end. 
There was nobody above man; there was neither 
superhuman person, nor consecrated person ; neither 
deity, nor divine right. And, on the other hand, as 
there is no person who in being or right is more than 
man, so there must be no person who is less. There 


must be no unmenschen, no slaves, no heretics, no 
outcasts, no outlaws, but every being who wears human 
flesh must be placed in the enjoyment of the Aill rights 
and privileges of man. The will of man be done, 
hallowed be his name. 

These principles already bring us to the threshold of 
socialism, and now Feuerbach's peculiar ethical principle 
carries us into its courts. That principle has been well 
termed Tuism, to distinguish it from Egoism. The 
human unit is not the individual, but man in conv^-se 
with man, the sensual £go with the sensual Tu. The 
isolated man is incomplete, both as a moral and as a 
thinking being. '^ The nature of man is contained only 
in the community, in the unity of man with man. 
Isolation is finitude and limitation, conununity is 
freedom and infinity. Man by himself is but man ; man 
with man, the unity of I and Thou, is God." Feu^bach 
personally never became a communist, for he says his 
principle was neither egoism nor communiflm, but the 
combination of both. They were equally true, for they 
were inseparable, and to condemn self-love would be, 
he declared, to condenm love to others at the same time, 
for love to others was nothing but a recognition that 
their self-love was justifiable. But it is easy to perceive 
the natural tendency of the teaching that the social man 
was the true human unit and essence, and was to the 
individual as a Grod. With most of his disdples 
Humanism meant making the individual disappear in 
the community, making egoism disappear in love, and 
making private property disappear in collective. Hess 
flatly declared that ^' the species was the end, and the 
individuals were only means." Ruge dii^Mited this 


doctrine, and contended that the empirical individual 
was the true human unit and the true end, but even he 
said that socialism was the humanism of common life. 
Griin passes into socialism by simply applying to 
property Feuerbach's method of dealing with theology 
and monarchy. He argues that if the tnie essence of 
man is the social man, then, just as theology is 
anthropology, so is anthropology socialism, for property 
is at present entirely alienated, externalised from the 
social man. There is a false transcendency in it, like 
that of divinity and monarchy. " Deal, therefore," he 
says, "with the practical God, money, as Feuerbach 
dealt with the theoretical ;" humanize it Make 
property an inalienable possession of manhood, of every 
man as man. For property is a necessary material for 
his social activity, and therefore ought to belong as 
inalienably and essentially to him as everything which 
he otherwise possesses as means or materials of his 
activity in life ; as inalienably, for example, as his body 
or his personal acquirements. If man is the social man, 
some social possession is then necessary to his manhood, 
and might be called an essential part of it ; but existing 
property is something outside, as separate from him as 
heaven or the sovereign power. Griin accordingly says 
that Feuerbach's " Essence of Christianity " supplies the 
theoretical basis for Proudhon's social system, because 
the latter only applies to practical life the principles 
which the former applied to religion and metaphysics, 
but he admits that neither Feuerbach nor Proudhon 
would acknowledge the connection. 

We thus see how theoretical humanism — a philosophy 
and a religion — led ei^ily over into the two important 


articles of practical humanism, a democratic trans- 
formation of the State and a communistic transformation 
of society. This was the ideal of the humanists, and it 
contains ample and wide-reaching positive features, but 
when it came to practical action they preferred for the 
present to take up an attitude of simple but implacable 
negation to the existing order of things. No doubt 
variety of opinion existed among them ; but if they are 
to be judged by what seemed their dominant interest 
they were revolutionaries and nothing else. They 
repudiated with one consent the socialist Utopias of 
France, and refrained on principle from committing 
themselves to, or even discussing, any positive scheme 
of reconstruction whatsoever. They held it premature 
to think of positive proposals, which would, moreover, 
be sure to sow divisions among themselves. Their 
first great business was not to build up but to 
destroy, and their work in the meantime was therefore 
to develop the revolutionary spirit to its utmost possible 
energy, by exciting hatred against all existing institu- 
tions ; in short, to create an immense reservoir of 
revolutionary energy which might be turned to account 
when its opportunity arrived. Their position is 
singularly like the phase of Russian nihilism described 
by Baron Fircks, and presented to us in TurgenieflTs 
novels. It is expressed very plainly by W. Marr, 
himself an active humanist, who carried Feuerbach's 
" Essence of Christianity " as his constant companion, 
and founded a secret society for promoting humanistic 
views. In his interesting book on Secret Societies in 
Switzerland, he says, " The masses can only be gathered 
under the flag of negation. When you present detailed 


planSy you excite controversies and sow divisions ; you 
repeat the mistake of the French socialists, who have 
scattered their redoubtable forces, because they tried to 
carry formulated systems. We are content to lay down 
the foundation of the revolution. We shall have 
deserved well of it if we stir hatred and contempt 
against all existing institutions. We make war against 
all prevailing ideas, of religion, of the State, of country, 
of patriotism. The idea of Grod is the keystone of a 
perverted civilization. It must be destroyed. The true 
root of liberty, of equality, of culture, is Atheism. 
Nothing must restrain the spontaneity of the human 
mind." All this work of annihilation could neither be 
done by reform, nor by conspiracy, but only by 
revolution, and " a revolution is never made ; it makes 
itself." While the revolution was making, Marr founded 
an association in Switzerland, "Young Germany," 
which should prepare society for taking effective action 
when the hour came. There was a •* Young Germany " 
in Switzerland when he arrived there ; part of a 
federation of secret societies established by Mazzini in 
1834, under the general name of " Young Europe," and 
comprising three series of societies : — " Young Italy," 
composed of Italians ; " Young Poland," of Poles ; and 
" Young Germany," of Germans. But this oiganization 
was not at all to Marr's mind, because it concerned 
itself with nothing but politics, and because its method 
was conspiracy. " Great transformations," he said, " are 
never prepared by conspiracies," and it was a very great 
transformation indeed that he contemplated. He there- 
fore formed a "Young Germany" of his own. His 
plan was to plant a lodge, or " fiunily," wherever there 


existed a (Jerman working men's association. The 
members of this family became members of the associa- 
tion and formed a leaven which influenced all around 
them, and, through the wandering habits of the German 
working class, was carried to much wider circles. The 
family met for political discussion once a week, read 
Friedrich Feuerbach together on the Sundays with fresh 
recruits, who, when they had mastered him, were said 
to have put off the old man ; and their very password 
was humanity, a brother being recognised by using the 
half-word human — ? interrogatively, and the other 
replying by the remaining half — itdt The members 
were all ardent democrats, but, as a rule, so national in 
their sympathies that the leaders made it one great 
object of their disciplina arcani to stifle the sentiment 
of patriotism by subjecting it to constant ridicule. 

Their relations to communism are not quite easy to 
determine. Marr himself sometimes expresses dis- 
approval of the system. He says " Communism is the 
expression of impotence of will The communists lack 
confidence in themselves. They suffer under social 
oppression, and look around for consolation instead of 
seeking for weapons to emancipate themselves with. It 
is only a world — weariness desiring illusion as the 
condition of its Hfe." He says the belief in the absolute 
dependence of man on matter, is the shortest and most 
pregnant definition of communism, and that it starts 
from the principle that man is a slave and incapable of 
emfmcipating himself. But, on the other hand, rie 
complains that the members of " Young Germany " did 
not sufiiciently appreciate the social question, being 
disgusted with the fanaticism of the communists. By 


the communists, he here means the fbUowers of 
Weitling and Albrecht, who were at that time creating 
a party movement in Switzerland. The prophet 
Albrecht, as he is called, was simply a crazy mystic with 
proclivities to sedition which brought him at length to 
prison for six years, and which took there an 
eschatological turn from Ids having, it is said, nothing to 
read but the Bible, so that on his release he went about 
prophesying that Jehovah had prepared a way in the 
desert, which was Switzerland, for bringing into Europe 
a reign of peace, in which i>eopIe should hold all things 
in common and enjoy complete sensuous happiness, 
sitting under their common vine and fig-tree, with 
neither king nor priest to make them any more afraid. 
Weitling was not quite so unimportant, but the attention 
he excited at the time is certainly not justified by any of 
the writings he has left us. He was a tailor from 
Magdebuig, who was above his work, believing himself 
to be a poet and a man of letters, condemned by hard 
fate and iniquitous social arrangements to a dull and 
cruel lot Having gone to Paris when socialism was the 
rage there, he eagerly embraced that new gospel, and 
went to Switzerland to carry its message of hope to his 
own German countrymen. There he forsook the needle 
altogether, and lived as the paid apostle of the dignity 
of manual labour, for which he had himself little mind. 
His ideas are crude, confiised, and arbitrary. His ideal 
of society was a community of labourers, with no State, 
no Church, no individual property, no distinction of 
rank or position, no nationality, no fetherland. All 
were to have equal rights and duties, and each was to 
be put in a position to develop his capacity and gratify 


his bents as &r as possible. He was moved more by 
the desire for abstract equality than German socialists 
of the humanist or contemporary type, for they do not 
build on the justice of a more equal distribution of 
wealth so much as on the necessity of the possession of 
property for the free development of the human person- 
ality. He is entirely German, however, in his idea of 
the government of the new society. It was to be 
governed by the three greatest philosophers of the age, 
assisted by a board of trade, a board of health, and a 
board of education. In Switzerland he founded, to 
promote his views, a secret society, the " Alliance of the 
Just," which had branches in most of the Swiss towns. 
Its members were chiefly Germans from Germany, for 
very few of the communists in Switzerland were bom 
Swiss, and accordmg to Marr, who was present at 
some of their meetings, they were three-fourths of them 
tailors. "I felt," says Marr, "when I entered one of 
these clubs that I was with the mother of tailors. The 
tailor sitting and chatting at his work is always extreme 
in his opinions. Tailor and communist are synonymous 
terms." It was to some of the leaders of this alliance 
that Weitling unfolded his wild scheme of a proletariate 
raid, according to which an army of 20,000 brigands 
was to be raised among the proletariate of the large 
towns, to go with torch and sword into all the countries 
of Europe, and terrify the bourgeoisie - into a recognition 
of universal conmiunity of goods. It is only fair to add 
that his proposal met with no favour. Letters were 
found in his possession, and subsequently published in 
Bluntschli's official report, which show that some of 
Weitling's correspondents regarded his scheme with 


horror and others treated it with ridicule. One of them 
said it was trying to found the kingdom of heaven with 
the furies of hell. The relations between "Young 
Germany" and Weitling*8 allies were apparently not 
cordial, though they had so much in common that, on 
the one hand, Weitling's correspondents urge him to 
keep on good terms with " Young Germany," and, on 
the other, Marr says he actually tried to get a conmion 
standing ground with the communists, and thought he 
had found it in the negation of the present system of 
things — the negation of religion, the negation of patriot- 
ism, the negation of subjection to authority. 

Now the importance of this excursus on the Young 
H^elians lies in the fact that Karl Marx waa a humanist, 
and looked on humanism as the vital and creative principle 
in the renovation of political and industrial society. In 
the Deutsche Franzodsche Jahrbucher he published an 
article on the H^elian Philosophy of Right, in which 
he says: "The new revolution will be introduced by 
philosophy. The revolutionary tradition of Germany is 
theoretical. The Reformation waa the work of a monk ; 
the Revolution will be the work of a philosopher." 
The particular philosophy that was to do the work is 
that of the Gterman critics, whose critique of religion 
had ended in the dogma that man is the highest being 
for man, and in the categorical imperative, " to destroy 
everything in the present order of things that makes a 
man a degraded, insulted, forsaken, and despised being." 
But philosophy cannot work a revolution without 
material weapons ; and it will find its material weapon 
in the proletariate, which he owns, however, was at the 
time he wrote only beginning to be formed in Germany. 


But when it rises in its strength, it will be irresistible, 
and the revolution which it will accomplish wiU be the 
only one known to history that is not Utopian. Other 
revolutions have been partial, wrought by a class in the 
interests of a class ; but this one will be a universal and 
uniform revolution, effected in the name of all society, 
for the proletariate is a class which possesses a universal 
character because it dissolves all other separate classes 
into itself. It is the only class that takes its stand on a 
human and not a historical title. Its very sorrows and 
grievances have nothing special or relative in them ; 
they are the broad sorrows and grievances of humanity. 
And its claims are like them; for it asks no special 
privileges or special prerogatives; it asks nothing but 
what all the world will share along with it The history 
of the world is the judgment of the world, and the 
duration of an order of things founded on the ascendancy 
of a limited class possessing money and cukure, is 
practically condemned and foredoomed by the rapid 
multiplication of a large class outside which possess 
neither. The growth of this latter body not merely 
tends to produce, but actually is, the dissolution of the 
existing system of things. For the existing system is 
founded on the assertion of private property, but the 
proletariate is forced by society to take the opposite 
principle of the negation of private property for the 
principle of its own life, and will naturally carry that 
principle into all society when it gains the power, as it 
is rapidly and inevitably doing. Marx sums up : " The 
only practical emancipation for Germany is an emanci- 
pation proceeding from the standpoint of the theory 
which explains man to be the highest being for maau 


In Germany the emancipation from the middle ages is 
only possible as at the same time an emancipation from 
ihe partial conquests of the middle ages. In Germany 
one kind of bond cannot be broken without all other 
bonds being broken too. Germany is by nature too 
thorough to be able to revolutionize without revolutioniz- 
ing from a fundamental principle^ and following that 
principle to its utmost limits; and therefore the 
emancipation of Germany will be the emancipation of 
man. The head of this emancipation is philosophy ; its 
heart is the proletariate." He adds that when things 
are ripe, ''when all the inner conditions have been 
completed^ the German resurrection day will be heralded 
by the crowing of the Gallic cock." 

In this essay we mark already Marx's overmastering 
belief in natural historical evolution, which he had learnt 
from Hegel, and which prevented him from having any 
sympathy with the Utopian projects of the French 
socialists. They vainly imagined, he held, that they [ 
could create a new world right off, whereas it was only ! 
possible to do so by observing a rigorous conformity to { 
the laws of the development already in progress, by | 
making use of the forces already at work, aiid proceed- 
ing in the direction towards which the stream of things 
was itself slowly but mightily moving. Hegel sought 
the principle of organic development in the State, but 
Marx sought it rather in civil society, and believed he 
had discovered it in that most mighty, though uncon- 
scious product of the large system of industry, the 
modem proletariate, which was bom to revolution as 
the sparks fly upward ; and in the simultaneous decline 
of the middle classes, that is, of the conservative element 


which could resist the change. The process which was, 
as he held, now converting society into an aggregate of 
beggars and millionaires was bound eventually to 
overleap itself and land in a communism. I shall not 
discuss the truth of this conception at present, but it 
contributes, along with the sentiments of justice and 
humanity that animate — brightly or wrongly — the ideal 
of the socialists, to lend something of a religious force 
to their movement, for they feel that they are fellow- 
workers with the nature of things. 

We left Marx in Paris, and on returning to him, we 
find him engaged — as indeed we usually do when his 
history comes into notice — in a threefold warfare. 
Besides his general war against the arrangements of 
modem society, he is always carrying on a bitter and 
implacable war against the Prussian Government, and 
is often engaged in controversy — sometimes very personal 
— with foes of his own philosophical or revolutionary 
household. After the cessation of the Deutsche Franzo- 
sische Jah/rbUcher, Marx edited a paper called VorwdrtSy 
and in this and other journals open to him, he attacked 
the Prussian administration so strongly that that 
administration complained to Guizot, who gave him 
orders to quit France. His more personal controversy 
at this time arose out of one of the schisms of the Young 
Hegelians, and he and his friend Friedrich Engels wrote 
a pamphlet — "Die Heilige Familie" — against the 
Hegelian Idealism, and especially against Bruno Bauer, 
who had offended him — says Erdmann, in his " History 
of Philosophy" — ^at once as Jew, as Radical, and as 
journalist When expelled from France, he went to 
Brussels, where he was allowed to continue his war 


upon the Prussian Government without interference, till 
the revolution of 1848. During this period he devoted 
his attention more particularly than hitherto to com- 
mercial subjects, and published in 1846 his *^ Discours 
sur le Libre-Change," and in 1847 his " Mis^re de la 
Philosophic," a reply to Proudhon's " Philosophic de la 
Misfere" — both in French. 

While in Brussels, Marx received an invitation from 
the London Central Committee of the Communist 
League to join that society. This league had been 
founded in Paris in 1836, for the purpose of propagating 
communist opinions among the working men of Germany. 
Its organization was analogous to that of the Interna- 
tional and other societies of the same kind. A certain 
number of members constituted a Oemeindey the several 
Gemdnden in the same town constituted a Kreis, a num- 
ber of Kreise were grouped into a leading Krdsy and at 
the head of the whole was the Central Committee which 
was chosen at a general congress of deputies from all the 
Kreise^ and which had since 1840 had its seat in London. 
The method of the league was to establish, as a sphere 
of operation, German working men's improvement 
associations everywhere. The travelling custom of 
German working men greatly facilitated this work, and 
numbers of these associations were soon founded in 
Switzerland, England, Belgium, and the United States. 
The reason its committee applied to Marx was that he 
had just published a series of pamphlets in Brussels in 
which, as he tells us, he '' submitted to a merciless 
criticism the medley of French-English socialism and 
communism and of German philosophy, which then 
constituted the secret doctrine of the League," and 


insisted that ''their work could have no tenable 
theoretical basis except that of a scientific insight into 
the economical structure of society, and that this ought 
to be put into a popular form, not with the view of 
carrying out any Utopian system, but of promoting 
among the working classes and other classes a self- 
conscious participation in the process of historical 
transformation of society that was taking place under 
their eyes." This is always with Marx the distinctive 
and ruling feature of his system. The French schemes 
were impracticable Utopias, because they ignored the 
laws of history and the real structure of economical 
society ; and he claims that his own proposals are not 
only practicable but inevitable, because they strictly 
observe the line of the actual industrial evolution, and 
are thus, at worst, plans for accelerating the day after 
to-morrow. But, besides this diflFerence of principle, 
Marx thought the League should also change its method 
and tactics. Its work, being that of social revolution, 
was different from that of the old political conspirators 
and secret societies, and therefore needed different 
weapons ; the times, too, were changed, and offered new 
instruments. Street insurrections, surprises, intrigues, 
pronunciamientoa might overturn a dynasty, or oust a 
government, or bring them to reason, but were of no 
avail in the world for introducing collective property or 
abolishing wage labour. People would just b^n again 
the day after to work for hire and rent their ferms as 
tiiey did before. A social revolution needed other and 
larger preparation ; it needed to have the whole popula- 
tion first thoroughly leavened with its principles ; nay, it 
needed to possess an international character, depending 


not on detached local outbreaks^ but on steady concert 
in revolutionary action on the part of the labouring 
classes everywhere. The cause was not political, or 
even national, but social ; and society — which was 
indeed ahready pregnant with the change — must be 
aroused to a conscious consent to the delivery. What 
was first to be done, therefore, was to educate and move 
public opinion, and in this work the ordinary secret 
society went but a little way. A secret propaganda 
might still be carried on, but a public and open pro- 
paganda was more effectual Bud more suitable to the 
times. There never existed greater facilities for such a 
movement, and they ought to make use of all the 
abundant means of popular agitation and intercom- 
munication which modem society allowed. No more 
secret societies in holes and comers, no more small 
risings and petty plots, but a great broad organization 
working in open day, and working restlessly by tongue 
and pen to stir the masses of all European countries to 
a common international revolution. Marx sought in 
short to introduce the large system of production into 
the art of conspiracy. 

Finding his views well received by the Central 
Conmiittee of the Communist League, he acceded to 
their request to attend their General Congress at London 
in 1847, and then, after several weeks of keen discussion, 
he prevailed upon the Congress to adopt " the Manifesto 
of the Conmiunist party," which was composed by him- 
self and Engels, and which was afterwards translated 
from the German into English, French, Danish, and 
Italian, and sown broadcast everywhere just before the 
Revolution of 1848. This Conmiunist League may be 


said to be the first organization — and this Communist 
Manifesto the first public declaration — of the Interna- 
tional Socialist Democracy that now is. The Manifesto 
begins by describing the revolutionary situation into 
which the course of industrial development has brought 
modem society. Classes were dying out ; the yeomanry, 
the nobility, the small tradesmen, would soon be no more; 
and society was drawn up in two widely separate hostile 
camps, the large capitalist class, or bourgeoiaiey who had 
all the property and power in the country, and the 
labouring class, the proletariate, who had nothing of 
either. The bourgeoisie had played a most revolutionary 
part in history. They had overturned feudalism, and 
now they had created proletarianism, which would soon 
swamp themselves. They had collected the masses in 
great towns ; they had kept the course of industry in 
perpetual flux and insecurity by rapid successive trans- 
formations of the instruments and processes of production, 
and by continual recurrences of commercial crises ; and, 
while they had reduced all other classes to a proletariate, 
they had made the life of the proletariate one of priva- 
tion, of uncertainty, of discontent, of incipient revolution. 
They exploited the labourer of political power; they 
exploited him of property, for they treated him as a 
ware, buying him in the cheapest market for the cost of 
his production, that is to say, the cost of his living, 
and taking from him the whole surplus of his work, 
after deducting the value of his subsistence. Under 
the system of wage labour, it could not be otherwise. 
Wages could never, by economical laws, rise above 
subsistence ; and while wage labour created property, it 
created it always for the capitalist, and never for the 


labourer ; and in hct the latter only lived at all, so far 
as it was for the interests of the governing class, the 
bourgeoisie^ to permit him. Class rule and wage labour 
must be swept away, for they were radically unjust, and 
a new reign must be inaugurated which would be 
politically democratic and socially communistic, and in 
which the free development of each should be the 
condition for the free development of all. 

The Manifesto went on to say that communism 
was not the subversion of existing principles, but their 
universalization. Conmiunism did not seek to abolish 
the State, but only the bourgeois state, in which the 
bourgeois exclusively hold and wield political power. 
Communism did not seek to abolish property, but 
only the bourgeois system of property, under which 
private property is really abeady abolished for nine- 
tenths of society, and maintained merely for one- 
tentL Communism did not seek to abolish marriage 
and the fEimily, but only the bowrgeois system of things 
under which marriage and the f5Eunily, in any true sense 
of those terms, were virtually class institutions, for the 
proletariate coidd not have any family life worthy of the 
name, so long as their wages were so low that they were 
forced to huddle up their whole femily, regardless of all 
decency, in a single room, so long as their wives and 
daughters were victims of the seduction of the bourgeoisie, 
and so long as their children were taken away pre- 
maturely to labour in mills for bourgeois manufacturers, 
who yet held up their hands in horror at the thought of 
any violation of the institution of the family. Commun- 
ism did not tend to abolish fetherland and nationality — 
that was abolished already for the proletariate, and was 


being abolished for the bourgeame, too, by the extensions 
of their trade. 

As to the way of emancipation, the proletariate must 
strive to obtain political power, and use it to deprive 
the bourgeoisie of all capital and means of production, 
and to place them in the hands of the State, ue., of the 
proletariate itself organized as a governing body. Now, 
for this, immediate imd various measures interfering 
with property, and condemned by our current economy, 
were requisite. Those measures would naturally be 
different for different countries, but for the most 
advanced countries the following were demanded: (1) 
Expropriation of landed property and application of rent 
to State expenditure ; (2) abolition of inheritance ; (3) 
confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels ; 
(4) centralization of credit in the hands of the State by 
means of a national bank, with State capital and 
exclusive monopoly ; (5) centralization of all means of 
transport in hands of State ; (6) institution of national 
factories, instruments of production, and improvement 
of lands on a conmion plan ; (7) compulsory obligation of 
labour upon all equally, and establishment of industrial 
armies, especially for agriculture ; (8) joint prosecution 
of agriculture and mechanical arts, and gradual abolition 
of the distinction of town and country; (9) public 
and gratuitous education for all children, abolition of 
children's labour in &ctories, &c The Manifesto ends 
by saying : — '^ The communists do not seek to conceal 
their views and alms. They declare openly that their 
purpose can only be obtained by a violent overthrow of 
all existing arrangements of society. Let the ruling 
classes la^mble at a communistic revolution. The 


proletariate have nothing to loee in it but their chains ; 
they have a world to win. Proletarians of all countries, 

When the French Revolution of February 1848 broke 
out, Marx was expelled without circumstance from 
Brussels, and received an invitation from the Provisional 
Government of Paris to return to France. He accepted 
this invitation, but was only a few weeks in Paris when 
the German revolution of March occurred, and he 
hastened to the theatre of affairs. With his friends, 
Freiligrath, Wolff, Engels, and others, he established on 
June 1st in Cologne the New Rhenish OazetUy which 
was the soul of the Rhenish revolutionary movement, 
the most important one of the year in Germany, and 
that in which, as we have seen, the young Lassalle first 
emerged on the troubled sur&ce of revolutionary 
politics. After the coup (T^tat of November, dissolving 
the Prussian Parliament, the New Rhenish Ouzette 
strongly urged the people to stop paying their taxes, and 
thus meet force by force. It inserted an admonition to 
that effect in a prominent place in every successive 
number, and Marx was twice tried for sedition on 
account of this admonition, but each time acquitted. 
The newspaper, however, was finally suppressed by 
civil authority after the Dresden insurrection of May, 
1849, its last number appearing on June 19th in red 
type, and containing Freiligrath's well-known " Farewell 
of the New Rhenish Gazette " — spiritedly translated for 
us by Ernest Jones — which declared that the journal 
went down with "rebellion" on its lips, but would 
reappear when the last of the German Crowns was 


Farewell, but not for ever farewell ! 

They cannot kill the spirit, my brother ; 
In thunder Til rise on the field where I fell, 

More boldly to fight out another. 
When the last of Crowns, like glass, shall break 

On the scene our sorrows have haunted, 
And the people its last dread ** Guilty " shall speak. 

By your side you shall find me undaunted. 
On Rhine or on Danube, in war and deed. 

You shall witness, true to his vow. 
On the wrecks of thrones, in the midst of the field. 

The rebel who greets you now. 

This VOW is no mere Parthian flourish of poetical 
defiance. Freiligrath and his friends undoubtedly 
believed at this time that the political movements of 
1848 and 1849 were but preliminary ripples, and would 
be presently succeeded by a great flood-wave of 
revolution which they heard already sounding along in 
theb dangerously expectant ear. His poem on the 
Revolution remains as evidence to us that in 1850 he 
still clung to that hope, and it would not have been out 
of tune with his sanguine beliefs of the year before if he 
promised, not merely that the spirit of the journal 
would rise again, but that its next number would be 
published, after the Deluge. 

Meanwhile Marx went to London, where he remained 
for the rest of his life. Finding that the revolutionary 
spirit did not revive, and that historical societies, which 
have not lost their moral and economical vitality, had a 
greater readjusting power against political disturbance 
than he previously believed, he gave up for the next ten 
or twelve years the active work of revolutionizing. The 
Communist League, which had got disorganised in the 
revolutionary year, and was rent in two by a bitter 


schism in 1850, was, with his concurrence, dissolved in 
1852, on the ground that its propaganda was no longer 
opportune ; and the story of the Brimstone League, 
with its iron discipline and ogrish desires, of which 
Mehring says Marx was, during his London residence, 
the head-centre, is simply a fairy tale of Karl Vogt's, 
whose baselessness Marx has himself completely 
exposed. Before leaving the Communist League, two 
circumstances may be mentioned, because they repeat 
themselves constantly in this revolutionary history. The 
one is that this schism took place not on a point of 
doctrine, but of opportunity ; the extremer members 
thought the conflict in Germany on the Hessian question 
offered a good chance for a fresh revolutionary outbreak, 
and they left the League because their views were not 
adopted. The other is that in one of its last reports 
(quoted by Mehring) the League definitely justifies, and 
even recommends, assassination and incendiarism — " the 
so-called excesses, the inflictions of popular vengeance 
on hated individuals, or on public buildings which 
revive hateful associations." For the next ten years 
Marx lived quietly in London, writing for the New 
York Tribune and other journals, and studying modem 
industry on this its ^'classical soil." A pamphlet or 
two on Louis Napoleon, on Lord Palmerston (widely 
circulated by David Urquhart), on the Cologne 
Communistic Trial, a more solid work, the "Kritik 
der Politischen Oekonomie" (1859), and a bitterly 
personal polemic with Karl Vogt occasionally interrupted 
the even tenour of his way, but he does not claim our 
attention again till the foundation of the International 
Working Men's Association in 1864 


The International was simply the Communist League 
raised again from the dead Their principles were the 
same ; their constitution was the same ; and Marx b^an 
his inaugural address to the International in 1864 with 
the very words that concluded his Conununistic 
Manifesto of 1847, " Proletarians of all nations, unite I" 
When the representatives of the English working men 
first suggested the formation of an international 
working men's association, in the address they 
presented in the Freemasons' Tavern to the French 
working men who were sent over at the instance of 
Napoleon III. to the London Exhibition of 1862, they 
certainly never dreamt of founding an organization of 
revolutionary socialist democracy which in a few years 
to come was to wear a name at which the world turned 
pale. Their address was most moderate and sensible. 
They said that some permanent medium of interchanging 
thoughts and observations between the working men of 
different countries was likely to throw light on the 
economic secrets of societies, and to help onwards the 
solution of the great labour problem. For they declared 
that that solution had not yet been discovered, and that 
the socialist systems which had hitherto professed 
to propound it were nothing but magnificent dreams. 
Moreover, if the system of competition were to 
continue^ then some arrangement of concord between 
employer and labourer must be devised, and in order to 
assert the views of the labouring class effectively in that 
arrangement, a firm and organized union must be 
established among working men, not merely in each 
country, but in all countries, for their interests, both as 
citizens and as labourers, were eveiywhere identical. 


Those ideas would constitute the basis of a very ratioiial 
and moderate programme. But when, in the following 
year, after a meeting in favour of the Polish iiDsurrection, 
which was held m St. Martin's HaU under the 
presidency of Professor Beesly, and at which some of 
the French delegates of 1862 were present, a committee 
was appointed to follow up the suggestion, this 
conmiittee asked Marx to prepare a programme and 
statutes for the proposed association, and he impressed 
upon it at its birth the stamp of his own revolutionary 
socialism. He never had a higher official position in 
the International than corresponding secretary for 
Qermany, for it was determined, probably with the view 
of securing a better hold of the great English working 
class and their extensive trade organizations, that the 
president and secretary should be English working men, 
and then, after a time, the office of president was 
abolished altogether because it had a monarchical 
savour. But Marx had the ablest, the best informed, 
and probably the most made-up mind in the council ; he 
governed without reigning ; and, with his faithful 
Grerman following, he exercised an almost paramount 
influence on its action from first to last, in spite of 
occasional revolts and intrigues against an authority 
which democratic jealousy resented as dictatorial, or — 
worse still — ^monarchiaL The statutes of the associa- 
tion, which were adopted at the (Jeneva Congress of 
1866, declared that ^^ the economical subjection of the 
labourer to the possessor of the means of labour, i.e., of 
the sources of life, is the first cause (rf his political, 
moral, and material servitude, and that the economical 
emancipation of labour is consequently the great aim to 



which every political movemeDt ought to be subordi- 
nated/' Now no doubt the " economical emancipation 
of labour " meant diflferent things to diflferent sections of 
the association's members. To the English trades 
unionists it meant practically better wages ; to the 
Russian nihilists it meant the downfall of the Czar and 
of all central political authority, and leaving the social- 
istic communal organization of their country to manage 
itself without interference from above ; to some of the 
French members (as appeared at the Lausanne Congress 
in 1867) it meant the nationalization of credit and all 
land except that held by peasant proprietors, a class 
which it was necessary to maintain as a counterpoise to 
the State ; while, to the German socialists, it meant the 
abolition of wages, the nationalization of land and the 
instruments of production, the assumption by the State 
of a supreme direction of all trade, commerce, finance, 
and agriculture, and the distribution by the State of 
land, tools, and materials to guilds and productive asso- 
ciations as the actual industrial executive. There were 
thus very different elements in the composition of the 
International, but a modus rivendi was found for some 
years by nursing an ultimate ideal, which was desirable, 
and meanwhile practically working for a proximate and 
much narrower ideal, which was more immediately 
feasible or necessary. The association could thus hold 
that nothing could benefit the working class but an 
abolition of wages, and could yet, as it sometimes did, 
help and encourage strikes which wanted only to raise 
wages. At its Congress in Brussels in 1868 it declared 
that a strike was not a means of completely emancipat- 
ing the labourers, but was often a necessity in the 


present situation of labour and capital Most of the 
other practical measures to which the association ad- 
dressed itself— the eight hours normal day of labour, 
gratuitous education, gratuitous justice, universal suff- 
rage, abolition of standing armies, abolition of indirect 
taxes, prohibition of children*s labour. State credit for 
productive associations — contemplated modifications of 
the existing system of things, but always contemplated 
them as aids to and instalments of the coming transfor- 
mation of that system. The consciousness was con- 
stantly preserved that a revolution was impending^ and 
that, as Lassalle said, it was bound to come and could 
not be checked, whether it approached by sober ad- 
vances from concession to concession, or flew, with 
streaming hair and shod with steel, right into the central 

This was very much the keynote struck hf Marx in 
his inaugural address. That address was simply a re- 
view of the situation since 1848, and an encouragement 
of his forces to a renewal of the combat Wealth had 
enormously increased in the interval ; colonies had been 
opened, new inventions discovered, free trade intro- 
duced ; but misery was not a whit the less ; class con- 
trasts were even deeper marked, property was more 
than ever in the hands of the few ; in England the 
number of landowners had diminished eleven per cent 
in the preceding ten years ; and if this rate were to 
continue, the country would be rapidly ripe for revolu- 
tion. While the old order of things was thus hastening 
to its doom, the new order of things had made some 
advances. The Ten Hours Act was "not merely a 
great practical result, but was the victory of a principle. 


For the first time the poltieal ecoaomj of the bmMrg»mie 
had been in eieav bvoad daj put in subjeetioii to the 
pofitical econom^r of the working cla8&'' Then, again, 
the experiment of co-operation had now beenb sufficientl; 
tried to show that it was. possible to carry on industry 
without the intervention of an en^lojing cbss, and had 
s)>read abroad the hope that wage labour was, like 
riarerj and feudal servitude, only a transitory and sub- 
ordinate form, which was destined to be superseded by 
associated labour. The International had for its aim to 
prooopto this associated labour ; only it sought to do so, 
not piecemeal and sporadically, but systematically, on a 
national scale, and by State means. And for this end 
the labouring class must first acquire political power,, 
so aa to obtdn possession of the means of production ; 
and to acquire political power they must unite. 

The Infemational, though, as we have seen,, possessing 
no real solid^ity in its composition, held together till 
the outbreak of the Franco-German war, and of the 
revolution of the Paris Commune. It was, of course, 
stron^y opposed to the war, as it was to all war ; and 
strongly in favour of the revolution, as it was of all 
revolution. Its precise complicity in the work ot the 
Commune is not easy to determine, but there can be no 
doubt that its importance has been greatly exaggerated, 
both by the fears of its enemies and the vanity of its 
members. Some of the latter were certainly among 
those who sat in the H6tel de Ville, but none of them 
were leading mindB there ; and, as for the association 
itself, it never had a real membership, or ramifications, 
of any formidable extent. For example, the Englidi 
trades unions were in connection with it, and> their 

newbets migiit be, tb a sense, couBted anoiig its mem- 
bers, but it is «ertHiB tbey aever recognised it as tm 
fttt^rity OT3OT them, and tbey probably subscribed to it 
mainly as to a useful anjdliary in a strike. The leaders 
of the Intonaitional, hoi^ver, were, wdonbtedly, heart 
and soul with the Commoiie, and approved probably 
bc^ 0[ its aims and methods, and Marx, at the Congress 
of thi Intermtaonal, at ikte Hague, in 1872, drew from 
its Adhire 1^ tesson that '' revolution must be solidary'' 
in order to succeed. A revolubien in one capital tX 
Europe mttst be supported by simultaneous revolutimis 
in die rest But, white there is little greynnd far the 
cammon bdief that the Inteniational had any important 
influence in c^^eating the msnrrection of the dommune, 
it is certam that the msurrectioa of the Commune kSled 
the IntemationaL The English members dropped dS 
from it and never retmmed, and at its first Congress 
after the revohitioa {tkte Hague, 1872), tiie association 
itself was rent by a £»tal schism arising from d^rences 
of opinion on a question as to the government <yf the 
society of <te ftiture, winch wonM probably not hhve 
become a subject of such keen present interest at the 
time but for the Paris Commane. The question con- 
oeraed the maintenance or abolition of the State, of the 
supreme oentral political authority, and the discussion 
bi^aght to li^t that the socialists of the International 
were divided into two distinct and irreconcilable camps 
— the Centralist Democratic Socialists, headed by Marx, 
and the Anarchic Sociatiste, headed by Michael Bakmiin, 
the Russian revolutionist The Marxists insisted that the 
socialist regime of collective property and systematic 
co-operative production could not possibly be intro- 


ducedy maintained^ or regulated^ except by means of an 
omnipotent and centralized political authority — call it 
the State, call it the collectivity, call it what you like — 
which should have the final disposal of everything. The 
Bakunists held that this was just bringing back the old 
tyranny and slavery in a more excessive and intolerable 
form. They took up the tradition of Proudhon, who 
said that "the true form of the State is anarchy," 
meaning by ai^trchy, of course, not positive disorder, 
but the absence of any supreme ruler, whether king or 
convention. They would have property possessed and 
industry pursued on a communistic principle by groups 
or associations of workmen, but these groups must form 
themselves freely and voluntarily, without any social or 
political compulsion. The Marxists declared that this 
was simply a retention of the system of free competition 
in an aggravated form, that it would only lead to con- 
fusion worse confounded, and that the Bakunists, even 
in trying to abolish the evils of laissez-faire, were still 
foolishly supposing that the world could go of itsel£ 
This division of opinion — really a broader one than that 
which parts socialist from orthodox economist — ^rent the 
already enfeebled International into two separate organ- 
izations, which languished for a year or two and passed 
away. And so, with high thoughts of spreading a reign 
of fraternity over the earth, the International Working 
Men's Association perished, because being only human, 
it could not maintain fraternity in its own narrow bor- 
ders. This is a history that repeats itself again and 
again in socialist movements. As W. Marr said in the 
remark quoted above, revolutionists will only unite on a 
negation ; the moment they begin to ask what they will 


put in its place they differ and dispute and come to 
nought Apprehend them, close their meetings^ banish 
their leaders, and you but knit them by common suffering 
to conmion resistance. You supply them with a nega- 
tion of engrossing interest, you preoccupy their minds 
with a negative programme which keeps them united, 
and so you prevent them from raising the fatal question 
— ^What next ? which they never discuss without break- 
ing up into rival sects and {Actions, fraternal often in 
nothing but their hatred. '' It is the shades that hate 
one another, not the colours." Such disruptions and 
secessions may — as they did in Germany — by emulation, 
increase for a time the efficiency of the organization as a 
pi^pagandist agency, but they certainly diminish its 
danger as a possible instrument of insurrection. A 
socialist organization seems always to contain two ele- 
ments of internal disintegration. One is the prevalence 
of a singular and almost pathetic mistrust of their 
leaders, and of one another. The law of suspects is 
always in force among themselves. At meetings of the 
German socialists, Liebknecht denounces Schweitzer as 
an agent of the Prussian Government, Schweitzer accuses 
Liebknecht of being an Austrian spy, and the frequent 
hints at bribery, and open charges of treason against the 
labourers' cause, disclose to us now duller and now 
more acute phases of that unhappy state of mutual sus- 
picion, in which the one supreme, superhuman virtue, 
worthy to be worshipped, if haply it could anywhere be 
discovered, is the virtue men honoured even in Robes- 
pierre — the incorruptible. The other source of disinte- 
gration is the tendency to intestine divisions on points 
of doctrine. A reconstruction of society is necessarily 


a most extttifflve prograoamei and allows room for the 
otBioBt vanety of opinion and plan. The longer it is 
discussed the more certainly do diSerenoes arise, and the 
DAOvement beoomes a strife of schools in no way formid- 
aUe to the government All this only furnishes another 
reason for the conclusicHi that in dealing with socialist 
agitations^ a government's safest as well as justest 
policy is, as much as may be^ to leave them alone. Then* 
daoger lies in the cloudiness ot their ideas, and that can 
only be dispersed in the free breezes of popular discuasioa. 
The sword is an idle method of reasoning with an idea ; 
an idea will eventually yield to nothing but argument 
Repression, too, is absolutely impossible with modem 
£Btcilities of inter-oonmiunication, and can at best but 
drive the offensive elements for a time into subterranean 
channels, where they gather like a dangerous choke- 
damp that may occasion at any moment a serious 

After the &11 of the International Marx took no 
fiirther part in public moveubents, but occupied his time 
in completing his work " Das Capital," under frequent 
interruption from ill-health, and he died in Paris in the 
spring of 1883, leaving that work still unfinished. 

The Das Capital of Marx may be said to be the 
sacred book of contemporary socialism, and though, like 
other sacred books, it is probably a sealed one to the 
body of the fiedthful, for it is extremely stiff reading, it is 
the great source from which socialist agitajtors draw 
their inspiration and arguments. Apart from the repre- 
sentative authority widi which it is thus invested, it 
must be at onee acknowledged to be an able, leaned, 


and UD|K)rtant work, founded on diligent reeeareh, 
evincing carefiil elaboration of materials, much acute- 
ness of logical analyBis, and so much solicitude for pre- 
cKdoa that a special terminology has been invented to 
secure it. The author's taste for logical distinctions, 
however, as he has actually applied it, serves rather to 
darken than to elucidate his exposition. He overloads 
wijth analysis secondary points of his lugument which 
are clear enough without it, and he assumes without 
analysis primary positions which it is most essential for 
faim to make plain. His style and method carries us 
back to the ecclesiastical schoolmen. His superabound- 
mg love of scholastic formalities is unmodem ; and one 
may be permitted to hope that the odium more than 
tlieological widi which he speaks of opponents ba& 
become unmodem too. Burke is ^'the sophist and 
sycophant Edmund Burke ; " Macaulay is also " a syco- 
phant," and what is worse, ^^a systematic falsifier of 
histoiy ;" Bentham is " a genius of civic conunonplace ;" 
Earl Russell is ^' the tomtit of Liberalism." The Morn- 
ing Star is ''an idiotically naive Free Trade organ." 
Proudhon is a Spitzburger, a grocer kind of body, w1m> 
borrowed a few ideas " from Gray, Bray, and others," 
and made '' a Hiilistine Utopia " of them. 

Marx's argument takes the form of an inquiry into 
the origin and social effects of capital ; understanding 
the word capital, however, in a peculiar sense. Capital, 
according to the elementary teaching of political eco- 
nomy, always means the portk)n of wealth which is 
saved from immediate consumption to be devoted to 
productive uses, and it matters not whether it is so 
saved and devoted by the labourer who is to use it, or 


by some other person who lends it to the labourer at 
interest or employs the labourer to work with it at a 
fixed rate of wages. A fisherman's boat is capital as 
much as a Gunard Company's steamer, although the 
boat is owned by the person who sails it and the 
steamer by persons who may never have seen it The 
fisherman is labourer and capitalist in one, but in the 
case of the steamer the capital is supplied by one set of 
people and the labour undertaken by another. Now 
Marx speaks of capital only after this division of 
functions has taken place. It is, he says, not a logical 
but a historical category. In former times men all 
wrought for the supply of their own wants, the seed 
and stock they received was saved and owned by them- 
selves, capital was an instrument in the hands of labour. 
But in modem times, especially since the rise of foreign 
commerce in the 16th century, this situation has been 
gradually reversed. Industry is now conducted by 
speculators, who advance the stock and pay the 
labourer's wages, in order to make gain out of the 
excess of the product over the advances, and labour is a 
mere instrument in the hands of capital. The capitalist 
is one who, without being personally a producer, ad- 
vances money to producers to provide them with mate- 
rials and tools, in the hope of getting a larger sum of 
money in return, and capital is the money so advanced. 
With this representation of capital as money, so long as 
it is but a popular form of speech, no fault need be 
found, but Marx soon after falls into a common &llacy 
and positively identifies capital with money, declaring 
them to be only the same thing circulating in a difierent 
way. Money as money, he says, being a mere medium 


of exchange, is a middle term between two conmiodities 
which it helps to barter, and the order of circulation is 
C — M — C, Le., commodity is converted into money 
and money is reconverted into commodity. On the other 
hand money as capital stands at the two extremes, and 
commodity is a middle term, a medium of converting 
one sum of money into another and greater ; the order 
of circulation being expressed as M — C — M. Of 
course capital, like other wealth, may be expressed in 
terms of money, but to identify capital with money in 
this way is only to introduce confusion, and the real 
confusion is none the less pernicious that it presents 
itself under an affectation of mathematical precision. 

Capital, then, as Marx understands it, may be said to 
be independent wealth employed for its own increase, 
and in ^' societies in which the capitalistic method of 
production prevails " all wealth bears distinctively this 
character. In more primitive days, wealth was a store 
of means of life produced and preserved for the supply 
of the producer's future wants, but now it ^^ appears as 
a huge collection of wares," made for other people's 
wants, made for sale in the market, made for its own 
increase. What Marx wants to discover is how all this 
independent wealth has come to accumulate in hands 
that do not produce it, and in particular from whence 
comes the increase expected from its use, because it is 
this increase that enables it to accumulate. What he 
endeavours to show is that this increase of value cannot 
take place anywhere except in the process of production, 
that in that process it cannot come from the dead 
materials, but only from the living creative power of 
labour that works upon them, and that it is accordingly 


virtually BtoleR from the labourers iHio made it hy the 
superior economicai foroe of tbe owners of the dead 
materials, without which indeed it oould not be made, 
but whose service is ^rtitled to a much more limiied 

No increase of value, he contends, can occur a die 
process of exchange, for an exchange is a mere transposi- 
tion -of things of equal value. In one sense both parties 
in the transaction are gainers, for «ach gets a thing he 
wants for a thing he ^oes not want The useMness of 
the two commodities is thus increased by the exchange, 
but their valne is not. An exchange simply means tiiat 
each party gives to ^e o^r equal vahw for equiJ value, 
and even if it were possible for one of them %o make a 
gain in value to-day — to get a more valnaUe thing for 
a less vahsiaMe thing — still, as all tbe worid is buyer and 
seller in turn, they would lose to-morrow as buyers what 
they gamed to-day as sellers, and the <M level <^ value 
would be restored. No increase whatever would be 
effected. There is indeed a class of people whom he 
describes as always buying and never selling — the un- 
producing class who live on their money, and who, he 
says, receive by legal titles or by force wealth nmde by 
producers without giving anything in exchange for it. 
And it may be supposed that perhi^ vahie is created 
by selling things to Hm class of persons, or by selling 
things to them above their true value, but that is not 
so; you would have brought no new value into the 
world by such a transaction, and even if you got more for 
your goods than their worth, you would only be cheating 
back fixHn these rich pe<q>le part of the money tiiat ihey 
had previously received for nothing. Another supposi- 

KARLMARZ. ^ - . L&7 

tiaa reRiains. Periiape new value is created in the 
proeesB of exchange when one dealer takes advantage 
of aaother — when Peter, say, contrives to induce Paul 
to take £4B worth of wine for £50 worth of iron. But 
in this case there has been no increase of value ; the 
value has merely changed hands ; Peter has £10 more 
tlian he had before, and Paul £10 less. The com- 
modities have between them after the transaction, as 
they had before it, a total value of £90, and that total 
cannot be increased by a mere change of possessor. 

Having thus establishecl to his satisfaction that com- 
merce, being only a series of exchanges, cannot produce 
any increase of value, or what he terms surplus value, 
Marx says that that only makes the problem of the origin 
of smrplus value more enigmatical than ever. For we 
are thus left in presence of an apparent contradiction : 
surplus value cannot spring up in the circulation of 
commodities because circulation is nothing but an ex- 
change of equivalents ; and yet surplus value cannot 
spring up anywhere except in circulation, because the 
class of persons who receive it and live by it do not 
produce. Here, then, is a riddle, and Marx sets himself 
to rede it. True, he says, value is not created directly 
in the market, but a commodity ib purchased in the 
market which has the remarkable property of creating 
value. That commodity is the human powers of labour. 
The very use of these powers, their consumption, their 
expenditure, is the creation of value. But marvellous 
as they are their possessor is obliged to sell them, be- 
cause while they are yielding their product he must 
meanwhile live, and he sells a day's use of them for a 
da/s means of living. They create in a day far more 


than the value of the wages for which they are bought 
This excess is surplus value, and is the secret and 
fountainhead of all accumulations of capital. Powers 
which can create six shillings worth in a day may be 
procured in the market for three shillings, because three 
shillings will pay for their necessary maintenance. Sur- 
plus value is the difference between the value of the 
labourer's necessary maintenance and the value of the 
labourer's production, and it is in the present system 
entirely appropriated by the dealer who advances him 
his wages. 

Marx thus bases his argument on two principles which 
he borrows from current economical writers, without, 
however, observing the limitations under which those 
writers taught them, and introducing besides important 
modifications of his own. The one principle is that value 
comes from labour, or as economists stated their law, 
that the natural value of commodities is determined by 
the cost of their production. The second is only a 
special application of the first ; that the natural wages 
of labour are determined by the cost of its production, 
and that the cost of the production of labour is the cost 
of the labourer's subsistence. The feult he finds with the 
present system is accordingly this, that while labour 
creates all value it is paid only by its stated living, no 
matter how much value it creates; and he then goes over 
the phenomena of modem industrial life to show how 
each arrangement is invented so as to extract more and 
more value out of the labourer by prolonging his hours 
of work or enhancing its speed without giving him any 
advantage whatever from the increase of value so ob- 
tained. We shall get a fair view of Marx's alignment, 

KARL MAR2. 159 

therefore, if we follow it through the successive heads : 
Ist, Value ; 2nd, Wages ; 3rd, Normal day of labour ; 
4th, Machinery ; 6th, Piecework ; 6th, Relative over- 

1st Value. Marx holds that all capital — all industrial 
advances except wages — is absolutely unproductive of 
value, and therefore not entitled to the acknowledgment 
known as interest The original value of all such capital 
— the purchase price of the materials, together with a 
certain allowance made for tear and wear of machinery 
— is carried forward into the value of the product, and 
preserved in it, and even that could not be done 
except by labour. The old value is preserved by 
labour, and all new value is conferred by it, and there- 
fore interest is a consideration entirely out of the ques- 
tion. It is obvious to object that labour by itself is as 
unproductive as capital by itself, but Marx would reply 
that while labour and capital are equally indispensable 
to produce new commodities, it is labour alone that 
produces new value, for value is only so much labour 
preserved, it is merely a register of so many hours of 
worL His whole argument thus turns upon his doctrine 
of the nature of value, and that doctrine must therefore 
be closely attended to. 

What, then, is value ? Marx considers that most 
errors on this subject have arisen from confusing value 
with utility on the one hand or with price on the other! 
and he regards his discrimination of value from these! 
two ideas as his most important contribution to political 1 
economy. He takes his start from the distinction cur- \ 
rent since the days of Adam Smith between value in 
use and value in exchange, and of course agrees with 

Smith in makuig the value of a commodity in exchange 
to be independent of its Value in use. Water had great 
value in use and none in exchange, and diamonds had 
great value in exchange and little in use. Value in use 
is therefore not value strictly so called, it is utility ; but 
strictly speaking value in exchange, according to Marx, 
is not value either, but only the form under which in 
our state of society value manifests itself. There was 
no exchange in primitive society when every family pro- 
duced things to supply its own wants, and there would 
be no exchange in a communism, for in an exchange the 
transacting parties stand to one another equally as 
private proprietors of the goods they barter. And 
where there was no exchange there could of course be 
no exchange - value. No doubt there was value for 
all that in primitive times, and there would be value 
under a communism, though it would manifest itself in 
a different form. But as we live in an exchanging 
society, where everything is made for the purpose of 
being exchanged, it is in exchange alone that we have 
any experience of value, and it is only from an 
examination of the phenomena of exchange that we 
can leam its nature. 

What, then, is value in exchange ? It is the ratio in 
which one kind of useful commodity exchanges against 
another kind of useful commodity. This ratio, says Marx, 
does not in the least depend on the usefulness of the 
respective conunodities, or their capacity of gratifying any 
particular want. For, first, that is a matter of quality, • 
whereas value is a ratio between quantities ; and second, 
two different kinds of utihty cannot be compared, for 
they have no common measure, but value, being a ratio. 


implies comparison, and comparison implies a common 
measure. A fiddle charms the musical taste, a loaf 
satisfies hunger, but who can calculate how much musi- 
cal gratification is equivalent to so much satisftu^tion of 
hunger. The loaf and the fiddle may be compared in 
value, but not by means of their several uses. Third, 
there are many commodities which are useful and yet 
have no value in exchange ; air, for example, water, 
and, he adds, virgin soil. In seeking what in the ex- 
change the value depends on, we must therefore leave 
the utility of the commodities exchanged entirely out of 
account, and if we do so there is only one other attri- 
bute they all possess in common, and it must be on that 
attribute that their value rests. That attribute is that 
they are all products of labour. While we looked to 
the utility of commodities, they were infinite in their 
variety, but now they are all reduced to one sober 
characteristic, they are so many different quantities of 
the same material, labour. Diversity vanishes ; there 
are no longer tables and chairs and houses, there is only 
this much and that much and the next amount of 
preserved human labour. And this labour itself is not 
discriminated. It is not joiner work, mason work, or 
weaver work ; it is merely human labour in the abstract, 
incorporated, absorbed, congealed, in exchangeable 
commodities. In an exchange commodities are quantities 
of labour jelly, and they exchange in the ratio of the 
amount of labour they have taken in. 

Value, then, is quantity of abstract labour, and now 
what is quantity of labour ? How is it to be appertained ? 
Labour is the exertion or use of man's natural powers 
of labour, and the quantity of labour is measured by the 



duration of the exertion. Quantity of labour is thus 
reduced to time of labour, and is measured by hours and 
days and weeks. Marx accordingly defines value to be 
an immanent relation of a commodity to time of labour, 
and the secret of exchange is that " a day's labour of 
given length always turns out a product of the same 
value." Value is thus something inherent in commodities 
before they are brought to market, and is independent 
of the circumstances of the market 

Marx has no sooner reduced value to the single 
uniform element of time of labour, and excluded from 
its constitution all considerations of utility and the state 
of the market, than he reintroduces those considerations 
under a disguised form. In the first place, if a day's 
labour of given length always produces the same value, 
it is obvious to ask whether then an indolent and 
unskilful tailor who takes a week to make a coat has 
produced as much value as the more expert hand who 
turns out six in this time, or, with the help of a machine, 
perhaps twenty ? Marx answers, Certainly not, for the 
time of labour which determines value is not the time 
actually taken, but the time required in existing social 
conditions to produce that particular kind of commodity 
— ^the time taken by labour of average eflBciency, using 
the means which the age affords — in short, what he 
calls the socially necessary time of labour. Value is an 
immanent relation to socially necessary time of labour. 
Marx's standard is thus, after all, not one of quantity of 
labour pure and simple ; it takes into account, besides, 
the average productive power of labour in different 
branches of industry. " The value of a commodity," 
says he, " changes directly as the quantity, and inversely 


as the productive power, of the labour which realises 
itself in that commodity." Before we know the value 
of a commodity we must therefore know not only the 
quantity of labour that has gone into it, but the 
productive power of that labour. We gather the 
quantity from the duration of exertion, but how is 
average productive power to be ascertained ? By simply 
ajscertaining the total product of all the labour engaged 
in a particular trade, and then striking the average for 
each labourer. Diamonds occur rarely in the crust of 
the earth, and therefore many seekers spend days and 
weeks without finding one. Hits and misses must be 
taken together ; the productive power of the diamond 
seeker is low ; or, in other words, the time of labour 
socially necessary to procure a diamond is high, and its 
value corresponds. In a good year the same labour 
will produce twice as much wheat as in a bad ; its 
productive power is greater ; the time socially necessary 
to produce wheat is less, and the price of the bushel 
fisdls. The value of a commodity is therefore influenced 
by its comparative abundance, whether that be due to 
nature, or to machinery, or to personal skill. \ 

But, in the next place, if value is simply so much 
labour, it would seem to follow, on the one hand, that 
nothing could have value which cost no labour, and, on 
the other, that nothing could be devoid of value which ^ 

cost labour. Marx's method of dealmg with these two 
objections deserves close attention, because it is here 
that the fundamental fallacy of his argument is brought 
most clearly out He answers the first of them by draw- 
ing a distinction between value and pricey which he and 
bis followers count of the highest consequence. Things 


which cost no labour may have a pricey but they have 
no value, and, as we have seen, he mentions among such 
things conscience and virgin soil. No labour has touched 
those things ; they have no immanent relation to socially 
necessary time of labour ; they have not, and cannot have 
any value, as Marx understands value. But then, he says, 
they command a price. Virgin soil is actually sold in the 
market ; it may procm*e things that have value though it 
has none itself. Now, this distinction between value and 
price has no bearing on the matter at all, for the simple 
reason that, as Marx himself admits, price is only a 
particular form of value. Price, he says, is " the money 
form of value ;" it is value expressed in money ; it is the 
exchange value of a commodity with money. To say 
that uncultivated land may have a price but not a value 
is, on Marx's own showing, to say that it has an exchange 
value which can be definitely measured in money, and 
has yet no value. But he has started from the pheno- 
mena of exchange ; he has told us that exchange value 
is the only form in which we experience value now ; 
and he thus arrives at a theory of value which will not 
explain the facts. If he argued that a thing had value, 
but no exchange value, his position might be false, but 
he says that a thing may have exchange value but no 
value, and so his position is contradictory. Moreover, 
he describes money accurately enough as a measure of 
value, and says that it could not serve this function 
except it were itself valuable, i.e., unless it possessed 
the quality that makes all objects commensurable, the 
quality of being a product of labour. Yet here we find 
him admitting that virgin soil, which, ex hypothesis does 
not possess that quality, and ought therefore to be in- 

KJUM, MAKX. 165 

cominenaurable with anything that possesses it, is yet 
measured with money every day. Such are some of the 
absurdities to which Marx is reduced by refusing to 
admit that utility can confer value independently of j 

Let us see now how he deals with the other'objection. 
If labour is just value-forming substance, and if value is 
just preserved labour, then nothing which has cost 
labour should be destitute of value. But Marx frankly 
admits that there are such things which have yet got no 
value ; and they have no value, he explains, because 
they have no utility, " Nothing can have value without 
being useful. If it is useless the work contained in it is 
useless, and therefore has no value." He goes further ; 
he says that a thing may be both useful and the product 
of labour and yet have no value. " He who by the 
produce of his labour satisfies wants of his own pro- 
duces utility but not value. To produce a ware, i.e., a 
thing which has not merely value in use, but value in 
exchange, he must produce something which is not only 
useful to himself, but useful to others," Le.y socially 
useful. A product of labour which is useless to the 
producer and everybody eke has no value of any sort ; 
a product of labour which, while useful to the producer, 
is useless to any one else, has no exchange value. It 
satisfies no want of others. This would seem to cover 
the case of over-production, when commodities lose their 
value for a time because nobody wants them. Lassalle 
explained this depreciation of value by saymg that the 
time of labour socially necessary to produce the articles 
in question had diminished. Marx explains it by saying 
that the labour is less socially useful or not socially 


useful at alL And why is the labour not socially useful ? 
Simply because the product is not so. The social utility 
or inutility of the labour is a mere inference from the 
social utility or inutility of the product, and it is there- 
fore the latter consideration that influences value. Marx 
tries in vain to exclude the influence of that considera- 
tion, or to explain it as a mere subsidiary qualification 
of labour. Labour and social utility both enter equally 
into the constitution of value, and Marx's radical error 
lies in defining value in terms of labour only, ignoring 

For what, after all, is value ? Is Marx's definition 
of it in the least correct ? No. Value is not an inherent 
relation (whatever that may mean) of a commodity to 
labour ; it is essentially a social estimate of the relative 
importance of commodities to the society that forms the 
estimate. It is not an immanent property of an object 
at all ; it is a social opinion expressed upon an object in 
comparison with others. This social opinion is at 
present collected in an informal but effiective way, 
through a certain subtle tact acquired in the market, .by 
dealers representing groups of customers on the one 
hand, and manufacturers representing groups of pro- 
ducers on the other ; and it may be said to be 
pronounced in the verdict of exchange, t.e., according to 
Mill's definition of value, in the quantity of one 
conmiodity given in exchange for a given quantity of 
another. Now, on what does this social estimate of the 
relative importance of conmiodities turn ? In other 
words, by what is value and diffierence in value 
determined? Value is constituted in every object by 
its possession of two characteristics: 1st, that it is 


socially useful ; 2nd, that it costs some labour or trouble 
to procure it No commodity lacks value which 
possesses both of these characteristics ; and no com- 
modity has value which lacks either of them. Now 
there are two kinds of commodities. Some may be 
produced to an indefinite amount by means of labour, 
and since all who desire them can obtain them at any 
time for the labour they cost, their social desirableness, 
their social utility, has no influence on their value, which, 
therefore, always stands in the ratio of their cost of pro- 
duction alone. Other classes of commodities cannot be in 
this way indefinitely multiplied by labour ; then* quantity 
is strictly limited by natural or other causes ; those who 
desire them cannot get them for the mere labour of 
producing them ; and the value of commodities of this 
sort will consequently always stand in excess of their 
relative cost of production, and will be really determined 
by their relative social utility. In fact, so far from the 
labour required for their production being any guide to 
their value, it is their value that will determine the 
amount of labour which will be ventured in their 
production. A single word may be added in explanation 
of the conception of social utility. Of course a 
commodity which is of no use to any one but its owner 
has no economic value, unless it happens to get lost, 
and, in any case, it is of no consequence in the present 
question. The social utility of a commodity is its 
capacity to satisfy the wants of others than the possessor, 
and it turns on two considerations : 1st, the importance 
of the want the commodity satisfies, and, 2nd, the 
number of persons who share the want All commodities 
which derive a value from their rarity or their special 

168 KABI. MABX. 

excellence belong to this latter class, and the vice of 
Marx's theory of value is simply this, that he takes a 
law which is true of the first class of commodities only 
to be true of all classes of them. 

2. WcLges. Having concluded by the vicious, argument 
now explained that all value is the creation of the per- 
sonal labour of the workman — is but the roistered 
duration of exertion of his labouring powers — Marx 
next proceeds to show that, as things at present exist, 
the value of these labouring powers themselves is fixed 
not by what they create but by what is necessary to 
create or at least renovate them. The rate of wages, 
economists have taught, is determined by the cost of the 
production of labouring powers, and that is identical 
with the cost of maintaining the labourer in working 
vigour. Marx accepts the usual explanations of the 
elasticity of this standard of cost of subsistence. It 
includes, of course, the maintenance of the labourer's 
fjGtmily as well as his own, because he will die some day, 
and the permanent reproduction of powers of labour 
requires the birth of fresh hands to succeed him. It 
must also cover the expenses of training and apprentice- 
ship, and Marx would probably agree to add, though he 
does not actually do so, a superannuation allowance for 
old age. It contains, too, a variable historical element, 
differs with climate and country, and is, in fact, just the 
customary standard of living among free labourers of the 
time and place. The value of a commodity is the time 
of labour required to deliver it in normal goodness, and 
to preserve the powers of labour in normal goodness a 
definite quantity of provisions and comforts is necessary 


according to time, country, and customs. The part ol 
the labouring day required to produce this definite 
quantity of provisions and comforts for the use of the 
day may be called the necessary tinie of labour — the 
time during whic}i the workman produces what is neces- 
sary for keeping lUm in existence — and the value created 
in this season i^ be called necessary value. But the 
workman's physical powers may hold on labouring 
longer than -this, and the rest of his working day may 
accordingly be called surplus time of labour ^ and the 
value created in it surplus value. This surplus value 
may be created or increased in two ways : either by 
reducing or cheapening the labourer's subsistence, i.6,, 
by shortening the term of necessary labour ; or by pro- 
longing the length of the working day, t.e., by increasing 
the term of surplus labour. There are limits indeed 
within which this kind of action must stop. The 
quantity of means of life cannot be reduced below the 
minimum that is physically indispensable to sustain the 
labourer for the day, and the term of labour cannot be 
stretched beyond the labourer's capacity of physical 
endurance. But within these limits may be played an 
important rOle, and the secret of surplus value lies in 
the simple plan of giving the labourer as little as he is 
able to live on, and working him as long as he is able 
to stand. A labourer works 12 hours a day because he 
cannot work longer and work permanently and well, 
and he gets three shillings a day of wages, because three 
shillings will buy him the necessities he requires. In 
six hom-s' labour he will create three shillings' worth of 
value, and he works the other six hours for nothing, crea- 
ting three shillings' worth of surplus value for the master 


who advances him his wages. It is from these causes 
that we come on the present system of things to the 
singular result that powers of labour which create six 
shillings a day are themselves worth only three shillings 
a day. This absurd conclusion, says Marx, could never 
have held ground for an hour, had it not been hid and 
disguised by the practice of paying wages in money. 
This makes it seem as if the labourer were paid for the 
whole day when he is only paid for the half. Under 
the old system of feudal servitude there were no such 
disguises. The labourer wrought for his master one 
day, and for himself the other five, and there was no 
make-believe as if he were working for himself all the 
time. But the wages system gives to surplus labour 
that is really unpaid the false appearance of being paid. 
That is the mystery of iniquity of the whole system, the 
source of all prevailing legal conceptions of the relation 
of employer and employed, and of all the illusions about 
industrial freedom. The wages system is the lever of the 
labourer's exploitation, because it enables the capitalist to 
appropriate the entire surplus value created by the 
labourer — i.e., the value he creates over and above what 
is necessary to recruit his labouring powers withal. 

Now surplus value, as we have seen, is of two ^nds, 
absolute and relative. Absolute surplus value is got by 
lengthening the term of surplus labour ; relative surplus 
value by shortening the term of necessary labour, which 
is chiefly done by inventions that cheapen the necessaries 
of Ufe. The consideration of the first of these points 
leads Marx into a discussion of the normal length of the 
day of labour ; and the consideration of the second into 
a discussion of the eflects of inventions and machinery 


on the condition of the working classes. We shall 
follow him on these points in their order. 

3. Normal day of labour. There is a normal length 
of the day of labour, and it ought to be ascertained and 
fixed by law. Some bounds are set to it by nature. 
There is a minimum length, for example, beneath which 
it cannot Ml ; that minimal limit is the time required 
to create an equivalent to the labourer's living, but as 
under the capitalistic system the capitalist has also to 
be supported out of it, it can never be actually shortened 
to this minimum. There is also a maximum length 
above which it cannot rise, and this upper limit is fixed 
by two sorts of considerations, one physical, the other 
moral. 1st Physical limits. These are set by the 
physical endurance of the labourer. The day of labour 
cannot be protracted beyond the term within which the 
labourer can go on from day to day in normal working 
condition to the end of his normal labouring career. 
This is always looked to with respect to a horse. Ue 
cannot be wrought more than eight hours a day regu- 
larly without injury, 2nd. Moral limits. The labourer 
needs time (which the horse does not, or he would 
perhaps get it) for political, intellectual, and social 
wants, according to the degree required by society at 
the time. Between the maximum and minimum limit 
there is, however, considerable play-room, and therefore 
we find labouring days prevailing of very different length, 
8 hours, 10, 12, 14, 16, and even 18 hours. There is 
no principle in the existing industrial economy which 
fixes the length of the day ; it must be fixed by law on a 
sound view of the requirements of the case. Marx 


pitches upon B hours as the best limit, because it affords 
a security for the permanent physical efficiency of the 
labourer, and gives him leisure for satis^dng those in- 
tellectual and social wants which are becoming every 
day more largely imperative. He makes no use of the 
reason often urged for the 8 hours day, that the increased 
intelligence it would tend to cultivate in the working 
class would in many ways conduce to such an increase 
of production as would justify the shorter term of work. 
But he is very strong for the necessity of having it fixed 
by law, and points out that even then employers will 
need to be carefiiUy watched or they will find ways and 
means of extending the day in spite of the law. When 
the day was fixed in England at 10 hours in some 
branches of industry, some masters gained an extra 
quarter or half-hour by taking five minutes off each 
meal time, and the profit made in these five minutes 
was often very considerable. He mentions a manufac- 
turer who said to him, " If you allow me ten minutes 
extra time every day you put £1000 a year into my 
pocket," and he says that is a good demonstration of 
the origui of surplus value, for how much of this £1000 
would be given to the man whose extra ten minutes' 
labour had made it ? Marx enters very fuUy into the 
history of English factory legislation, acknowledges 
the great benefit it has conferred both upon the labouring 
class and the manufacturers, and says that since ttie Act 
of 1830 the cotton industry has become the model in- 
dustry of the country. He prefers, too, the gradual 
course of English legislation on the subject to the revo- 
lutionary method adopted by France in 1848, and this 
is worth noticing, because it is a preference we should 

KARti liARX. 173 

not have expected. In England, he says, restrictions 
were first put upon the labour of children^ then of 
women, then of men ; first in one industry, then in 
another, then in a third, and for many years without 
any declaration of principle at alL In France, on the 
other hand, a twelve hours Act was introduced right off 
as a principle over the whole country, and in every 
branch of production at the same time. And what is 
the result ? In England the gain has been permanent, 
in France not. 

4. Effects of mdchiyiery, and the growth of fixed 
capital on the working clones. The whole progress of 
industrial improvements is a history of fresh creations 
of relative surplus value, and always for the benefit of 
the capitalist who advances the money. Everything 
that economises labour or that adds positively to its 
productivity, contracts the labourer's own part of the 
working day and prolongs the master's. Division and 
subdivision of labour, combination, co-operation, organ- 
isation, inventions, machinery, are all '^ on the one hand 
elements of historical progress and development in the 
economic civilization of society, but on the other are all 
means of civilized and refined exploitation of the laboiu^r.* 
They not only increase social wealth at his expense, but 
in many cases they do him positive injury. These im- 
provements have cost capitalists nothing, though capi- 
talists derive the whole advantage of them. Subdivision, 
combination, organisation, are simply natural resources 
of social labour, and natural resources of any kind are 
not produced by the capitalist Inventions, again, are 
the work of science, and science costs the capitalist 


nothing. Labour, association, science — these are the 
sources of the increase ; capital is nowhere, yet it sits 
and seizes the whole. Machinery, of course, is capital, 
but then Marx will not admit that it creates any value, 
and contends that it merely transfers to the product 
the value it loses by tear and wear in the process of 
production. The general effect of industrial improve- 
ments, according to Marx, is — 1st, to reduce wages; 
2nd, to prolong the day of labour ; 3rd, to overwork 
one-half of the working class ; 4th, to throw the rest 
out of employ ; and, 5th, to concentrate the whole 
surplus return in the hands of a few capitalists who 
make their gains by exploiting the labourers, and in- 
crease them by exploiting one another. This last point 
we need not further explain, and the third and fourth 
we shall unfold under the separate heads of Piecework 
and Relative Over-population. The remaining two I 
shall take up now, and state Marx's views about a little 
more fully. 

(a). Industrial improvements tend to reduce wages. 
They do so, says Marx, through first mutilating the labourer 
intellectually and corporeally. As a result of subdivision 
of labour, workmen are rapidly becoming mere one-sided 
specialists. Headwork is being separated more and 
more from handwork in the labourer's occupation, and 
this differentiation of function leads to a hierarchy of 
wages which affords great opportunity for exploiting the 
labourer. Muscular power is more easily dispensed 
with than formerly, and so the cheaper labour of women 
and children is largely superseding the dearer labour of 
men. If this goes on much further the manufacturer 
will get the labour of a whole femily for the wages he 


used to pay to its head alone, and the labourer will be 
converted into a slave-dealer who sells his wife and 
children instead of his own labour. That this kind of 
slavery will find no sort of resistance from either master 
or labourer, is to Marx*s mind placed beyond doubt by 
the fikjt that though the labour of children under 13 
years of age is prohibited in English factories, advertise- 
ments appear in public prints for "children that can 
pass for 13." 

(6). Industrial improvements tend to lengthen the day 
of labour. Machinery can go on for ever, and it is the 
interest of the capitalist to make it do so. He finds, 
moreover, a ready and specious pretext in the greater 
lightness of the work as compared with hand labour, 
for keeping the labourer employed beyond the normal 
limits of human endurance. Capitalists always complain 
that long hours are a necessity in consequence of the 
increasing extent of fixed capital which cannot other- 
wise be made to pay. But this is a mistake on their 
part, says Marx. For, according to the factory inspec- 
tors' reports, shortening the day of labour to 10 hours 
has increased production and not diminished it, and the 
explanation is that the men can work harder while they 
are at it, if the duration of their labour is shortened. 
Shortening the day of labour has not only increased 
production, but actually increased wages. Mr Redgrave, 
in his Report for 1860, says that during the period 
1839-1859 wages rose in the branches of industry that 
adopted the ten hours' principle, and fell in trades where 
men wrought 14 and 15 hours a day. Small wages and 
long hours are always found to go together, because the 
same causes which enable the employer to reduce wages 


enable him to lenp^hen the labouring day. 

5. Piecework, Industrial improvements tend, Marx 
maintains, to overwork, to undue intensification of 
labour, for machinery can go at almost any rate all day 
and all night, and labourers are compelled by various 
expedients to work up to it Among these expedients 
none is more strongly condemned by Marx than piece- 
work, as encouraging over-exertion and overtime. He 
says that though known so early as the 14th century 
piecework only came into vogue with the large system 
of production, to which he thinks it the most suitable 
form of payment. He states (though this is not quite 
accurate) that it is the only form of payment in use in 
workshops that are under the factory acts, because in 
these workshops the day of labour cannot be lengthened, 
and the capitalist has no other way open to him of 
exploiting the labourer but by increasing the intensity 
of the labour. He ridicules the idea of a writer who 
thought " the system of piecework marked an epoch in 
the history of the working man, because it stood half- 
way between the position of a mere wage labourer 
depending on the will of the capitalist and the position 
of the co-operative artisan who in the not distant future 
promises to combine the artisan and the capitalist in his 
own person." Better far, he holds, for the labourer to 
stick to day's wages, for he can be much more easUy 
and extensively exploited by the piece system. He con- 
tends that experience has proved this in trades like the 
compositors and ship carpenters, in which both systems 
of payment are in operation side by side, and he cites 
from the factory inspectors' reports of 1860 the case of 


a factory employing 400 hands, 200 paid by the piece 
and 200 by the day. The piece hands had an mterest 
in working overtime, and the day hands were obliged to 
follow suit without receiving a farthmg extra for the 
additional hour or half-hour. This might be stopped 
by further legislation, but then Marx holds that the 
system of piece payment is so prone to abuse that when 
one door of exploitation shuts another only opens and 
legislation will always remain ineffectual. Every peculi- 
arity of the system ftunishes opportunity either for re- 
ducing wages or increasing worL On the piece system 
the worth of labour is determined by the worth of the 
work it does, and unless the work possess average ex- 
cellence the stipulated price is withheld. There is thus 
always a specious pretext ready to the employer's hand 
for making deductions from wages on the ground that 
the work done did not come up to the stipulated stan- 
dard. Then again, it furnishes the employer with a 
definite measure for the intensity of labour. He judges 
from the results of piecework how much time it gene- 
rally takes to produce a particular piece, and labourers 
who do not possess the average productivity are turned 
off on the ground that they are unable to do a minimum 
day's worL Even those who are kept on get lower 
average wages than they would on the day system. 
The superior workman earns indeed better pay working 
by the piece, but the general body do not The superior 
workman can afford to take a smaller price per piece 
than the others, because he turns out a greater number 
of pieces in the same time, and the employer fixes, from 
the case of the superior workman, a standard of payment 
which is injurious to the rest. In the end a change from 



day's wages to piece wages will thus be found to have 
merely resulted in the average labourer working harder 
for the same money. Marx, however, admits that when 
a definite scale of prices has been in long use and has 
become fixed as a custom, there are so many difficulties 
to its reduction that employers are obliged, when they 
seek to reduce it, to resort to violent methods of trans- 
forming it into time wages again. He gives an example 
of this from the strike of the Coventry ribbon- weavers 
in 1860, in resistance to a transformation of this kind. 

These are only some of the evils Marx lays at the 
door of piecework ; he has many more charges. From 
rendering the superintendence of labour unnecessary, it 
leads to abuses like the sub-contracts known in this 
country as " the sweating system," or what is a variety 
of the same, to contracts of the employer with his 
manager, whereby the latter becomes responsible for the 
whole work, and employs and pays the men. From 
making it the pecuniary interest of the labourer to work 
overtime, piecework induces him to overstrain his powers, 
and both to transgress the legal or normal limits of the 
day of labour, and to raise or exceed the normal degree 
of the intensity of labour. Marx, quoting from Dunning, 
says that it was customary in the engineering trade in 
London for employers to engage a foreman of excep- 
tional physical powers, and pay him an extra salary per 
quarter to keep the men up to his own pace ; an ex- 
pedient which, he adds, is actually recommended to 
^Burners by Morton in his " Agricultural Encyclopaedia.'' 
He attributes to piecework, especially in its operation 
on women and children, the degeneration of the labour- 
ing class in the potteries, which is shown in the Report 


of the Commission on the Employment of Children. 
But while Marx thus objects to piecework because it 
leads to overwork, he objects to it also because it leads 
to underworL It enables employers to engage more 
hands than they require, when they entertain perhaps 
only an imaginary expectation of work, for they know 
they run no risk, since paying by the piece they pay only 
for what is done. The men are thus imperfectly em- 
ployed and insufficiently paid. 

6. Relative Over-population. One of the worst fea- 
tures of modern industrial development is the vast 
number of labourers whom it constantly leaves out of 
employ. This Marx calls relative over-population. Of 
absolute over-population he has no fear. He is not a 
Malthusian. He holds that there is no population law 
applicable to all countries and times alike. Social 
organisms differ from one another as animals do and 
plants ; they have different laws and conditions. Every 
country and age has its own law of population. A con- 
stant and increasing over-population is a characteristic of 
the present age ; it is a necessary consequence of the 
existing method of carrying on industry ; but it is 
nothing in the nature of an absolute over-growth ; it is 
only, to Marx*s thinking, a relative superfluity. There 
is plenty of work for all, more than plenty. If those 
who have employment were not allowed to be over- 
wrought, and if work were to-morrow to be limited to 
its due amount for every one according to age and sex, 
the existing working population would be quite insuffi- 
cient to carry on the national production to its present 
extent Even in England, where the technical means 


of saving labour are enormous, this could not be done 
except by converting most of our present " unproductive" 
labourers into productive. There is therefore, Marx 
conceives, no reason why any one should be out of 
work ; but at present, what with the introduction of 
new machinery, the industrial cycles, the commercial 
crises, the changes of fashion, the transitions of every 
kind, we have always, besides the industrial army in 
actual service, a vast industrial reserve who are either 
entirely out of employment or very inadequately em- 
ployed. This relative over-population is an inevitable 
consequence of the capitalistic management of industry, 
which first compels one-half of the labouring community 
to do the work of all, and then makes use of the 
redundancy of labour so created to compel the working 
half to take less pay. Low wages spring from the 
excessive competition among labourers caused by this 
relative over-population. " Rises and fells in the rate of 
wages are universally regulated by extensions and con- 
tractions in the industrial reserve wcmj which correspond 
with changes in the industrial cycle. They are not 
determined by changes in the absolute number of the 
labouring population, but through changes in the relative 
distribution of the working class into active army and 
reserve army — through increase or decrease in the rela- 
tive numbers of the surplus population — through the 
degree in which it is at one time absorbed and at 
another dismissed." The fluctuations in the rate of 
wages are thus traced to expansions or contractions of 
capital, and not to variation in the state of population. 
Marx ridicules the theory of these fluctuations given by 
political economists, that high wages lead to their own 


fiJl bj eoooangiiig iBmrriagefi, mod so in the end 
increaaing the flopplj of Ubov, and that low wagw 
lead to their own rise bj diaoooniging mamages and 
reducing the 8iq>plT of labour. That, sajs Marx, is vefj 
fine, but heiore high wages could have prodnced a 
redundant population (which would take eighteen jean 
to grow up), wages would, with modem industrial cycles 
have been up, down, and up again through ordinaij 
fluctuations of trade. 

Relative over-population is of three kinds, current, 
lat^it, and stagnant. Current over-population is what 
conies from indd^ital causes, the ordinary changes that 
take place in the evefy day course of industry. A trade 
is slack this seastHi and brisk the next, has pohaps its 
own seasons, like house-painting in spring, posting in 
summer. Or one trade may from temporary reasons be 
busy, while others are depressed. In the last half-year 
of 1860 there were 90,000 labourers in London out of 
employment, and yet the &ctory inspectors report that 
at that very time much machinery was standing idle fen* 
want of hands. This comes from the labourer being 
mutilated, — ^that is, specialised — under modem sub- 
division of labour, and fit for only a single narrow 
craft Another current cause of over-population is 
that under the stress of modem labour the workman 
is old before his years, and while still in middle life 
becomes unfit for full work, and passes into the 
reserve. Marx says this is the real reason for the 
prevalence of early marriages among the working class. 
They are generally condemned for being improvident, 
but they are really resorted to from considerations of 
providence, for working men foresee that they will 


be prematurely disabled for work, and desire, when 
that day comes, to have grown-up children about them 
who shall be able to support them. Other current 
causes are new inventions and new fashions, which 
always throw numbers out of work Latent over- 
population is what springs from causes whose operation 
is long and slow. The best example of it is the case of 
the agricultural labourers. They are being gradually 
superseded by machinery, and as they lose work in the 
country they gather to the towns to swell the reserve 
army there. A great part of the fiirm servants are 
always in this process of transition, a few here, and a 
few there, and a few everywhere. The constancy of 
this flow indicates a latent over-population in the rural 
districts, and that is the cause of the low wages of 
agricultural labourers. By stagnant over-population 
Marx means that which is shown in certain branches of 
industry, where none of the workmen are thrown back 
entirely into the reserve, but none get full regular 



Maklo and Rodbertus are sometimes spoken of as the 
precursors of German socialism. This, however, is a 
mistake. The socialism which now exists appeared in 
Germany among the Young Hegelians forty years ago, 
before the writings of either of these economists were 
published, and their writings have had very little 
mfluence on the present movement. Rodbertus, it is 
true, communicated a decided impulse to Lassalle, both 
by his published letter to Von Kirchmann in 1853, and 
by personal correspondence subsequently. He was a 
landed proprietor of strongly Uberal opinions, who was 
appointed Mmister of Agriculture in Prussia in 1848, 
but after a brief period of office retired to his estates, 
and devoted himself to economical and historical study. 
He took a very decided view of the defects of the 
PxiBtine industrial system, and held in particular that, in 
Lcor^nce with Ricardo's law of necessary wages the 
Sbourer's income could never rise permanently above 
^e level of supplying him with a bare subsistence, and 
.««tlvthat while his labour was always mcreasmg 
'""^^Strt^.^u^h mechanical inventions and other 
m^ ^e^hl^e whi!h he obtained of the product was 


always decreasing. What was required was simply to 
get this tendency counteracted, and to devise arrange- 
ments by which the labourer's share in the product might 
increase proportionally with the product itself, for 
otherwise the whole working population would be left 
behind by the general advancement of society. The 
remedy, he conceives, must lie in the line of a fresh 
contraction of the sphere of private property. That 
sphere had been again and again contracted in the 
interests of personal development, and it must be so 
once more. And the contraction that was now necessary 
was to leave nothing whatever in the nature of private 
property except income. This proposal is substantially 
identical with the scheme of the socialists ; it is just the 
nationalization of all permanent stock; but then he 
holds that it could not be satisfactorily carried out in 
less than five hundred years. Rodbertus's writings havff 
never been widely known, but they attracted some 
attention among the German working class, and he was 
invited, along with Lassalle and Lothar Bucher, to 
address the Working Men's Congress in Leipzig in 1863. 
He promised to come and speak on the law of necessary 
wages, but the Congress was never held in consequence 
of the action of Lassalle in precipitating his own move- 
ment, and from that movement Rodbertus held entirely 
aloof. He agreed with Lassalle's complaints against 
the present order of things, but he disapproved of his 
plan of reform. He did not think the scheme of 
founding productive associations on State credit either 
feasible or desirable, and he would still retain the 
system of wages, though with certain improvements 
introduced by law. He thought, moreover, that Lassalle 

CAXL MA&LO. 185 

erred gravely in makiiig the socialibts a political party, 
and that they should have remained a purely economical 
one. Besides, he looked on it as mere folly to expect, 
with LassallCy the accomplishment in Uiirty years of 
changes which, as we have seen, he believed five 
centuries little enough time to evolve. 

Rodbertus may thus be said to have had some 
relati(Mis widi the present movement, but Mario stands 
completely aipeirt from it ; and his lai^ and important 
work, ''Untersuchungen iiber die Organization der Arbeit, 
Oder System der Welt-okonomie," published at Kassel 
in 1850-5 — though original, learned, and lucid — has 
remained so absolutely unknown that none of the 
lexicons mention his name, and even an economist like 
Schaeffle — who was the first to draw public attention 
to it, and has evidently been considerably influenced by 
it himself — had never read it till he was writing his 
own work on socialism (1870). But though Mario 
cannot be said to have contributed in any respect to the 
present socialistic movement, his work deserves attentive 
consideration as a plea for fundamental social reform, 
advanced by a detached and independent thinker, who 
has given years of patient study to the phenomena of 
modem economical life, and holds them to indicate the 
presence of deep-seated and wide-spread social disease. 
Carl Mario is the nom de plmne of a German professor 
of technology named Winkelblech, and he gives us in 
the prefEice to his second volume, a touching account of 
how he came to apply himself to social questions. In 
1843 he made a tour of investigation through Northern 
Europe in connection with a technological work he was 
engaged in writing, and visited among other places the 


blue fiEUjtory of M odum, in Norway, where he remained 
some days, charmed with the scenery, which he thought 
equal to that of the finest vaUeys of the Alps. One 
morning he went up to a neighbouring height, whence 
he could see the whole valley, and was calmly enjoying 
the view when a Oerman artisan came to ask him to 
undertake some commission to friends in the fiitherland. 
They engaged in conversation. The artisan went over his 
experiences, and repeated all the privations he and his 
fellows had to endure. His tale of sorrow, so alien 
apparently to the ravishing beauty around, made a 
profound impression on Winkelblech, and altered the 
purpose and work of his life. " What is the reason," he 
asked himself, '^ that the paradise before my eyes conceals 
so much misery ? Is nature the source of all this sufier- 
ing, or is it man that is to blame for it ? I had before, 
like so many men of science, looked while in workshops, 
o^ly on the forges and the machinery, not on the men — 
on the products of human industry, and not on the 
producers, and I was quite a stranger to this great 
empire of misery that lies at the foundation of our 
boasted civilization. The touching words of the artisan 
made me feel the nullity of my scientific work and life 
in its whole extent, and from that moment I resolved to 
make the sufferings of our race, with their causes 
and remedies, the subject of my studies." He 
pursued these studies with the greatest industry 
for several years, and found the extent of men's suffer- 
ings to be greatly beyond his expectation. Poverty 
prevailed everywhere — among labourers and among 
employers, too— with peoples of the highest industrial 
development, and with peoples of the lowest— in 


luxurious cities, aud in the huts of viUagers — in the rich 
plains of Lombardy, no less than the sterile wilds of 
Scandinavia. He arrived at the conclusion that the 
causes of all this lay not in nature, but in the fietct that 
human institutions rested on fiedse economical founda- 
tions, and he held the only possible remedy to consist in 
improving these institutions. He became convinced that 
technical perfection of production, however great, would 
never be able to extinguish poverty or lead to the difiusion 
of general comfort, and that civilization was now come 
to a stage in its development at which further progress 
depended entirely on the advancement of poUtical 
economy. Political economy was, therefore, for our 
time the most important of all sciences, and Winkelblech 
now determined to give himself thoroughly to its study. 
Hitherto he had not done so. " During the progress of 
my investigations, he says, the doctrines of economists, 
as well as the theories of socialists, remained almost 
unknown to me except in name, for I intentionally 
abstained from seeking any knowledge of either, in order 
that I might keep myself as free as possible from 
extraneous influences. It was only after I arrived at the 
results described that I set myself to a study of 
economical literature, and came to perceive that the 
substance of my thoughts, though many of them were 
not new, and stood in need of correction, departed com- 
pletely from the accepted principles of the science." 
He reached the conclusion that there prevailed every- 
where the symptoms of a universal social disease, and 
that political economy was the only physician that could 
cure it ; but that the prevailing system of economy was 
quite incompetent for that task, and that a new system 


was urgently and indispensably required. To set forth 
such a system is the aim of his booL He derides 
Proudhon's idea of social reforms coming of themselves 
without design, and argues strongly that no reform 
worthy the name can ever be expected except as 
the fruit of economical researches. He agrees with 
the socialists in so far as they seek to devise a 
new economical system, but he thinks they make a 
defective diagnosis of the disease, and propose an utterly 
inadequate remedy. He counts them entirely mistaken 
in attributing all existing evils to the unequal distribution 
of wealth, a deficiency of production being, in his opinion, 
a much more important source of misery than any error 
of distribution. In fact, his fundamental objection to 
the existing distribution is that it is not the distribution 
which conduces to the highest production, or to the 
most fruitful use of the natural resources at the command 
of society. He difiers from the Qerman socialists in 
always looking at the question from the standpoint of 
society in general, rather than from that of the pro- 
letariate alone, and he maintains that a new organisation 
of labour is even more necessary for the interest of the 
capitalists than for that of the labourers, because he 
believes the present system will in&llibly lead, unless 
amended, to the overthrow of the capitalist class, and the 
introduction of communism. His point of view is 
moreover purely economical and scientific, entirely free 
from all partizan admixture, and while he declares 
himself to be a zealous member of the republican party, 
he says that he purposely abstains from intervention in 
politics because he regards the political question as one 
of very minor rank, and holds that, with sound social 


arrangementa, people could live more happily under the 
Russian autocracy than, with unsound ones, they could 
do under the French republic. The organisation of 
labour is, in his opinion, something quite independent 
of the form of the State, and its final aim ought to be 
to produce the amount of wealth necessary to diffuse 
universal comfort among the whole population without 
robbing the middle classes. These characteristics 
sufficiently separate him from the socialist democrats of 
the present day. 

His book was published gradually in parts, sometimes 
after long intervals, between 1848 and 1856, when it 
was finaUy interrupted by his death. It remains, there- 
fore, incomplete. It was to have consisted of three 
parts ; 1st, a historical part, containing an exposition 
and estimate of the various economical systems ; 2nd, 
an elementary or doctrinal part, containing an exposi- 
tion of the principles of economical science ; and, 3rd, a 
practical part explaining his plan for the organisation of 
labour. The first two parts are all we possess ; the 
third, and most important, never appeared, which must 
be regretted by all who recognise the evidences of 
original power and singular candour that the other parts 

Mario's account of the social problem is that it arises 
from the fact that our present industrial organisation is 
not in correspondence with the idea of right which is 
recognised by the public opinion of the time. That 
idea of right is the Christian one, which takes its stand 
on the dignify of manhood, and declares that all men, 
simply because they are men, have equal rights to the 
greatest possible happiness. Up till the French 


Revolution, the idea of right that prevailed was the 
heathen one, which might be called the divine right of 
the stronger. The weak might be made a slave without 
wrong ; he might be treated as a thing, and not as a 
person or an equal, who had the same right with his 
master or his feudal superior to the greatest possible 
enjoyment Nature belonged to the conqueror, and his 
dominion was transmitted by privil^e. Inequality of 
right was therefore the characteristic of this period ; 
Mario calls it monopolism. But at the French 
Revolution the Christian idea of right rose to its due 
ascendancy over opinion, and the sentiments of love and 
justice began to assume a control over public arrange- 
ments. Do as you would be done by, became a rule for 
politics as well as for private life, and the weak were 
supported against the strong. EJquality of right was the 
mark of the new period ; Mario calls it panpolism. 
This idea could not be realised before the present day, 
because it had never before taken possession of the 
public mind, but it has done this now so thoroughly 
that it cannot be expected to rest till it has realised 
itself in every direction in all the practical applications of 
which it is susceptible. The final arbiter of institutions 
is always the conception of right prevailing at the time ; 
contemporary industrial arrangements are out of harmony 
with the contemporary conception of right ; and stability 
cannot be looked for until this disturbance is completely 

Now the first attempts that society made to effect 
this adjustment were not unnaturally attended with 
imperfection. In the warmth of their recoil firom the 
evils of monopolism, men ran into extreme and 


distorted embodiments of the opposite principle, and 
they ran contrary ways. These contrary ways are 
Liberalism and Conmiunism. Liberalism fixed its 
attention mainly on the artificial restrictions, the 
privil^es, the services, the legal bonds by which 
monopoly and inequality were kept up, and it thought 
a perfect state of society would be brought about if 
only every chain were snapped and every fetter stripped 
away. It conceived the road to the greatest possible 
happiness for every man, was the greatest possible 
freedom ; it idolised the principle of abstract liberty, and 
it &ncied if evil did not disappear, it was always 
because something still remained that needed emancipa- 
tion. Communism, on the other hand, kept its eyes on 
the inequalities of monopolistic society : imagined the 
true road to the greatest possible happiness was the 
greatest possible equality ; that all ills would vanish as 
soon as things were levelled enough ; in short, it 
idolised the principle of abstract equality. Modem 
Liberalism and modern Conmiunism are therefore of 
equal birth ; they have the same historical origin in the 
triumph of the principle of equality of right in 1789 ; they 
are only different modes of attempting to reduce that 
principle to practice ; and Liberalism happens to be the 
more widely disseminated of the two, not because it 
represents that principle better, but merely because being 
more purely negative than the other, it was easier of 
introduction, and so got the start of Communism in the 
struggle of existence. According to Mario, they are 
both equally bad representatives of the principle, and 
their chief good lies in their mutual criticism, by means of 
which they prepare the way for the true system, the 


system of Federalism, which will be presently explained. 
The history of revolution, he says, begins in the victory 
of Liberalism and Communism together over Monop- 
olism ; it proceeds by the conflict of the victors with 
one another, and it ends in the final triumph of 
Federalism over both. 

Mario next criticises the two systems of Liberalism 
and Communism with considerable acuteness. Both 
the one and the other are Utopias ; they are absorbed in 
realising an abstract principle, and they, as a matter of 
fact, produce exactly the opposite of what they aim at 
Communism seeks to reach the greatest possible happiness 
by introducing first the greatest possible equality. But 
what is equality ? Is it equality when each man gets a 
coat of the same size, or is it not rather when each man 
gets a coat that fits him ? Some communists would 
accept the former alternative. They would measure off 
the same length to the dwarf and the giant, to the 
ploughman and the judge, to the family of three and the 
ftimily of thirteen. But this would be clearly not 
equality, but only inequality of a more vicious and 
vexatious kind. Most communists, however, prefer the 
second alternative, and assign to every man according 
to his needs, to every man the coat that fits him. But 
then we must first have the cloth, and that is only got 
by labour, and every labourer ought if possible to 
produce his own coat. The motive to laboiu*, however, 
is weakened on the Communistic system, and if those 
who work less are to be treated exactly like those who 
work more, then that would be no abolition of 
monopoly, but merely the invention of a new monopoly, 
the monoi)oly of indolence and incapacity. The skiliul 


and industrious would be exploited by the stupid and 
lazy. Besides, production would for the same reason, 
insufficient inducement to labour, be diminished, progress 
would be stopped, and therefore the average of human 
happiness would decline. Communism thus conducts 
to the opposite of everything it seeks. It seeks 
equality, it ends in inequality ; it seeks the abolition of 
monopoly, it creates a new monopoly ; it seeks to increase 
happiness, it actually diminishes it It is a pure 
Utopia, and why ? Because it misunderstands its own 
principle. Equality does not mean giving equal things 
to every man ; it means merely affording the greatest 
))ossible playroom for the development of every 
personality, and that is exactly the principle of freedom. 
Tlie greatest possible equality and the greatest possible 
freedom can only be realised together ; they must spring 
out of the same conditions, and a system of right which 
shall adjust these conditions is just what is now wante<l. 
Liberalism is a failure from like causes. It seeks to 
realise happiness by freedom ; it realises neither. For 
it mistakes the nature of freedom, as the Communists 
mistake the nature of equality. It takes freedom to be 
the power of doing what one likes, instead of being the 
power of doing what is right Its whole bent is to 
exempt as much as possible of life from authoritative 
restraint, and to give as much scope as exigencies will 
allow to the play of individuality. It is based on no 
|)Ositive conception of right whatever, and looks on tlie 
State as an alien whose interference is something ex- 
ceptional, only justified on occasional grounds of public 
necessity or general utility. It fails to see that there 
are really no affairs in a community which are out of 



relation to tlie general wellbeing, and destitute of politi- 
cal significance. Nothing demonstrates the error of this 
better than the eflFects of the Liberal regime itself. For 
half a century the industrial concerns of the people have 
been treated as matters of piu^ly private interest, and 
this policy has resulted in a political as well as econo- 
mical revolution. Industrial freedom, which has pro- 
duced capitalism in the economical field, has resulted in 
political life in the ascendancy of a new class, a plu- 
tocracy, " the worst masters," said De Tocqueville, " the 
world has yet seen, though their reign will be short." 
The change which was effected by the legislation of the 
Revolution was not the development of a fourth estate, 
as is sometimes said ; it was really nothing more than 
the creation of a money aristocracy, and the putting of 
them in the place of the old hereditary nobility. The 
system of industrial right that happens to prevail, there- 
fore, so far from being, as Liberals fancy, outside the 
sphere of political interest, is in truth the very element 
on which the distribution of political power, in the last 
analysis, depends. Nothing is more political than the 
social question. Liberals think slight of that question, 
but it is, says Mario, the real question of the day, and 
it is neither more nor less than the question of the 
existence or abolition of Liberalism, the question of the 
maintenance or subversion of the principle of industrial 
freedom, the question of the ascendancy or overthrow of 
a money aristocracy. The fight of our age is a fight 
against a plutocracy bred of Liberalism. It is not, as 
some represent it, a struggle of labourers against em- 
ployers ; it is a joint struggle of labourers and lower 
bourgeoisie against the higher bourgeoisie, a struggle of 


those who work and produce against those who luxuriate 
idly on the fruits of others' labour. As compared with 
this question, constitutional questions are of very minor 
importance, for no matter whether the State be mon- 
archy or republic, if the system of industrial right that 
prevails in it be the system of industrial freedom, the 
real power of the. country will be in the hands of the 
capitalist class. He who fails to see this, says Mario, 
faUs to understand the spirit of his time. It is always 
the national idea of right that governs both in social 
and political relations, and as long as the national idea 
of right is that of Liberalism, we shall continue to have 
capitalism and a plutocracy. It is the mind that builds 
the body up, and it is only when a new system of right 
has taken as complete possession of the national con- 
sciousness as Liberalism did in 1789, that the present 
social conflict will cease and a better order of things 
come in. 

From want of such a system of right — ^from want even 
of seeing the necessity for it, Liberalism has defeated its 
own purpose. It sought to abolish monopoly ; it has 
only substituted for the old monopoly of birth the more 
grievous monopoly of wealth. It sought to establish 
freedom ; it has only established plutocratic tyranny. 
It has erred because it took for freedom an abstraction 
of its own and tried to realise that, just as Communism 
erred by taking for equality an abstraction of its own 
anj^ trying to realise that. The most perfect state of 
freedom is not reached when every man has the power 
of doing what he likes, any more than the most perfect 
state of equality is reached when every man has equal 
things with every other; but the greatest possible 


freedom w attained in a condition of society whch3 
every man has the greatest possible phiy room for the 
development of his personality, and the greatest possible 
equality is attained in exactly the same state of things. 
Real freedom and real equality are in fact identici^l. 
Every right contains from the first a social element as 
well as an individual element, and it cannot be realised 
in the actual world without observ ing a due adjustment 
between these two elements. Such an adjustment can 
only be discovered by a critical examination of the eco- 
nomical constitution of society, and must then be ex- 
pressed in a distinct system of industrial right, which 
imposes on individual action its just limits. True 
liberty is liberty \vithin these limits ; and the true right of 
property is a right of property under the same conditions. 
The fimdamental fault of Liberalism, the cause of its 
failure, is simply that it goes to work without a sound 
theory of right, or rather perhaps without any clear 
theory at all, and merely aims at letting every one do as 
he likes, with the understanding that the State can 
always be called in to correct accidents and excesses. 

This defect is what Federalism claims to supply. It 
claims to be the only theory that abandons abstractions 
and keeps closely to the nature of things, and therefore 
to be the only theory that is able to realise even approxi- 
mately the Christian principle of equality of right. Tlie 
name fiirnishcs no very precise clue to the solution it 
designates, and it has no reference to the federative 
form of State, for which Mario expressly disavows 
having any partiality. lie has chosen the word merely 
to indicate the fact that society is an organic confedera- 
tion of many diflFerent kinds of associations — famities^ 

CARL MAftl^O. 107 

churches, academies, mercantile companies, and so on ; 
that a»sociatioq is not only a natural form, but the 
natural form in which man's activity tends to be carried 
on ; and that in any sound system of industrial right 
this must be recognised by an extension of the collectivp 
form of property and the co-operative form of produc- 
tion. Conununism, says Mario, is mechanical, Liberalism 
is atomistic, but Federalism is organic. When he dis- 
tinguishes his theory from communism, it must be re- 
membered that it is from the communism which he hag 
criticised, and which he WQuld prefer to denomin^'vte 
Equalism ; it is from the communism of Baboeuf, which 
would out of hand give every man according to his 
needs, and would consequently, through impairing the 
motives to industry, leave those needs themselves in tlui 
long run less satisfactorily provided for than they Jire 
now. But his system is nearly identical with the com- 
munism of the Young Hegelians of his own time — that 
is, with the German socialism of the present day — 
although he arrived at it in entire independence of tlieir 
agitations, and builds it on deductions peculiar to him- 
self. Like them, he asks for the compulsory transfor- 
mation of land and the instruments of production from 
private property into collective property ; like them, he 
afiks for this on grounds of social justice, as the necessary 
mechanism for giving effect to positive rights that are 
set aside mider the present system ; and he says himself, 
" If you ask the question, how is the democratic social 
republic related to Federalism, the most suitable i^nswer 
is, as the riddle to its solution." 

He starts from the position that all picn have equally 
the right to property. Not merely in the sense, which 


is commonly acknowledged^ that they have the right to 
property if they have the opportunity of acquiring it ; 
but in the further significance, that they have a right to 
the opportunity. They are in fact bom proprietors — 
de jure at least, and they are so for two reasons. 
First, Otod has made them persons, and not things, 
and they have, therefore, all equally a natural right 
to their amplest personal development If society 
interferes with this liberty of personal development — 
if it suflfers any of its members to become the slaves of 
others, for example — ^it robs them of original rights 
which belong to them by the mere fact of their manhood. 
But, secondly, property, resources of some sort, being 
indispensable means of personal development, Qod, who 
has imposed the end, has supplied the means. He has 
given nature, the earth and the lower creation, into the 
dominion of man, not of this or that man, or class of 
men, but of mankind, and consequently every man has, 
equally with every other, a right to participate in the 
dominion of nature, a right to use its bounty to the 
extent required for his personal development. No 
appropriation of nature can be just which excludes this 
possibility and robs any man of this natural right. It 
is, therefore, wrong to allow to any single person, or to 
any limited number of persons, an absolute dominion 
over natural resources in which everybody else has, by 
nature, a right to some extent to share. He who should 
have complete and exclusive lordship over all nature, 
would be lord and master of all his fellowmen, and in a 
period after natural agents are all appropriated the 
system of complete and absolute property leaves the 
new comers at the mercy of those who are already in 


possession. They can only work if the latter give them 
the productive instruments ; they can only reap from their 
work so much of its fruits as the latter are pleased to 
leave with them ; and they must perish altogether 
unless the latter employ them. They are slaves, they 
are beggars ; and yet they came into the world with the 
rights of a proprietor, of which they can never be 
divested. Nature laid covers for them as well as for 
the rest, and a system of property is essentially unjust 
which ousts them from their seat at her table. The 
conmion theory of property starts from the premiss, that all 
men have the right to property, and draws the conclusion, 
that, therefore, some men have the right to monopolise 
it As usually understood, the proprietary right is as 
much a right of robbery as a right of property, and 
Proudhon would have been quite correct in describing 
property as theft, if no better system of property could be 
devised than the present 

But such a system can be devised ; one under which 
the rights of new comers may be respected without 
disturbing those of possessors. This can only be done 
by putting entirely aside the complete and absolute 
form of property which is in so much favour with 
Liberalism, and by making the right of property in any 
actual possession a strictly limited and circumscribed 
right from the first — the right not to an arbitrary control 
over a thing, but to a just control over it So long as 
property is always thought of as an arbitrary and 
absolute dominion over a thing, the proprietary right 
cannot possibly be explained in a way that does not 
make it a right given to some to rob others. Why not, 
therefore, define property from the beginning as subject 


to limitations, and contrive a new form or system of it, 
in which these limitations shall for ever receive due 
recognition, and no man be thereafter denied the oppor- 
tunity of acquiring as much of the bounty of nature 
as is necessary for him to carry out his personal 
development ? 

That is Mario's task, and it would have been an easy 
one, if all goods, if everything that satisfies a human 
want, had been supplied directly by nature, as air is 
supplied, without the need of industry to procure it or 
the power of industry to multiply it. Then the problem 
would be solved very simply as the earlier communists 
desired to solve it. Every member of society would be 
entitled to partake of nature's supplies, as he now does 
of air, in the measure of his need, and when those 
supplies ran exhausted, just as when the air became 
vitiated, society would be entitled, nay obliged, to sup- 
press further propagation. But the question is fiw fix)m 
being so simple. Nature only yields her bounties to us 
after labour ; they are only converted into means of life 
by labour ; and they are capable of beuig vastly multi- 
plied by labour. This element of labour changes the 
situation of things considerably, and niust be allowed a 
leading role in determining a just right and system of 
property. The only case where a proprietary right can 
be recognised which is unmodified by this consideration, 
is the case of those who are unable to labour. They 
fall back on their original right to a share in the bounty 
of nature in the measure that their personal development 
requires ; in other words, according to their needs. 
Their share does not lie waste, though they are unable 
to work it themselves, and their share belongs to them 


immediately becauHC they are persons, and uot because 
they may afterwards become labourers. Mario recog- 
nises, therefore, antecedently to labour the right to 
existence, and this right he proposes to realise for the 
weak and disabled by means of a compulsory system of 
national insurance. 

The other natural proprietary rights are consequent in 
one way or another upon labour. First, there is the 
right to labour. If every man has a right to a share in 
the dominion of nature, then every man who is able to 
labour has a right to obtain the natural resources that 
are necessary to give him employment according to 
capacity and trade. No private appropriation of these 
resources can divest him of his title to get access to 
them, and if he cannot find work himself, the State is 
bound to provide it for him in public workshops. 
Second, every man has a right to the most profitable 
possible application of labour to natural resources. He 
has an interest in seeing the common stock put to the 
best account, and he is wronged in this interest when 
waste is ()ermitted, when inferior methods are resorted 
to, or when the distribution of work and materials is ill 
arranged. Now the best arrangement is when each man 
is equipped according to the measure and quality of his 
powers. Nature will be then best worked, and man's 
personal development will then be best furthered. If 
such an arrangement cannot be effected on ttie system 
of property now in vogue, while it may be under another, 
it is every man's right to have the fonner system sup- 
planted by the latter. The most economical form of 
property is the most just Third, the next right is a right 
to an almost unlimited control over the fruits of one's own 


labour. Not over the means of labour ; these can only 
be justly or economically held by a circumscribed con- 
trol ; but- over the fhiits of labour ; these ought to be 
retained as exclusive property, for the simple reason 
that the natural resources will be so turned to the best 
account On any other system of payment the motive 
to labour is impaired, and the amount of its produce 
diminished. Distribution by need defeats its own end ; 
the very needs of the community would be less amply 
satisfied after it than before it Distribution according 
to work is the sound economical principle, and therefore 
the just one. Mario here leaves room for the play of 
the hereditary principle and of competition to some 
extent, and he allows the free choice of occupation on 
similar grounds. Men will work best in lines their own 
tastes and powers lead them to. Everything is deter- 
mined by economical utility, and economical utility is 
supposed to be at its height when the natural resources 
of a country are distributed among its inhabitants 
according to the requirements of their labouring powers. 
This condition of things can only be realised, first, if 
populatio]\ is regulated ; second, if unproductive labour 
is suppressed ; and third, if the means of labour are 
made common property. The necessity for r^ulating 
population comes, of course, frx)m the limitation of the 
natural resources at society's command. In any com- 
munity there is a certain normal limit of population — 
the limit at which all the natural resources are distributed 
among all the inhabitants according to their powers — 
and the community will learn when this limit is reached 
from the number of workmen who are unable to obtain 
private employment, and are obliged to seek work fix>m 


the State. Then it can r^ulate population by various 
expedients. It may require the possession of a certain 
amount of fortune as a preliminary condition to marriage, 
and raise this amount according to necessity. It may 
encourage emigration. It may forbid marriages under 
a fixed age, and to prevent ill^timacy, it might give 
natural children the same rights as legitimate ones. 
But Mario trusts most to the strong preventive check 
that would be supplied by the power imparted to 
working men under the Federal regime of improving 
their position. 

The same necessity that makes it Intimate, and, 
indeed, imperative to regulate population, makes it 
legitimate and imperative also to suppress what Mario 
calls unproductive acquisition, Le.y the acquisition by 
persons who are able to work of any other property than 
they earn as the fruit of their work ; and to suppress 
likewise all waste of the means of life and enjoyment, 
such, for example, as is involved in the maintenance of 
unnecessary horses, dogs, or other animals that only eat 
up the products of the soil. The obligation to labour 
and the curtailment of luxury would come into exercise 
before the restrictions on population, and be more and 
more rigorously enforced as the normal limit of popula- 
tion was approximated. 

But the most important and the most necessary 
innovation is the conversion of land and the instruments 
of production into the form of collective property. The 
form in which property should be held ought to be 
strictly determined by considerations of economical 
utility. From such considerations the Liberals them- 
selves have introduced important changes into the 

304 CARL HAIil-0. 

system of property ; they have abolished fiefe, hereditary 
tenancies, entail, servitudes, church and village lands, 
all the peculiarities of monopolistic society, because, as 
they said, they wished to substitute a good form of 
property for a bad ; and they at least have no right, 
Mario thinks, to turn round now on Communists or 
Federalists for proposing to supersede this good form of 
property by a better. They have themselves transformed 
property by law, and they have transformed it on 
grounds of economical advantage ; they have owned that 
the economical superiority of a particular form of 
property imposes a public obligation for its compulsory 
introduction. They asserted the competency of the 
State against the monopolists, and they cannot now 
deny it against the socialists. If the private form of 
property is best, then let the State maintain it ; but if 
the collective form is best, then the State is bound, even 
on the principles of Liberals themselves, to introduce it. 
The question can only be determined by experience of 
the comparative economical utility of the two. Without 
offering any detailed proof of his proposition from 
experience Mario then affirms that the most advantageous 
form of property is reached when the instruments of 
production are the collective property of associations, 
and the instruments of enjoyment (except wells, bridges, 
and the like) are the property of individuals. Each 
man's house would still be his castle ; his house and the 
fulness thereof would still belong to him ; but outside of 
it he could acquire no individual possessions. Of land 
and the means of labour, he should be joint-proprietor 
with others, or rather joint-tenant with them under the 
Crown, Industrial property would be held in common 


by the associations that worked it, and these associations 
would be organised by authority with distinct charters 
of powers and functions. 

Mario thus arrives at the same practical scheme as 
Marx, though by a slightly different road. Marx builds 
his claim on Ricardo's theory of value and Ricardo*8 
law of necessary wages. Mario builds his on man's 
natural right, as a sharer in the dominion of nature, to 
the most advantageous exercise of that dominion. 



The Socialists of the Chair have done themselves 
injustice and sown their course with embarrassing 
misconceptions by adopting too hastily an infelicitous 
name. It is more descriptive than most political 
nicknames, and therefore more liable to mislead. It 
was first used in 1872 in a pamphlet by Oppenheim, 
then one of the leaders of the National Liberals, to 
ridicule a group of young professors of political economy 
who had begun to show a certain undefined sympathy 
with the socialist agitations of LassaUe and Von 
Schweitzer, and to write of the wrongs of the labouring 
classes and the evils of the existing industrial system 
with a flow of emotion which was thought to befit their 
years better than their position. A few months later 
these young professors called together at Eisenach a 
Congress of all who shared their general attitude towards 
that class of questions. In opening this Congress — 
which was attended by almost every economist of note 
in Germany, and by a number of the weightiest and most 
distinguished Liberal politicians — Professor Schmoller 
employed the name " Socialists of the Chair " to describe 
himself and those present, without adding a single 


qualifying remark, just as if it had been their natural 
and ehosen designation. The nickname was no doubt 
accepted so readily, partly from a desire to take the 
edge oflF the sneer it was meant to convey, but partly 
also from the nobler feeling which makes men stand by 
a truth that is out of favour. Not that they approved 
of the contentions of social democracy out and out, but 
they believed there was more basis of truth in them than 
persons in authority were inclined to allow, and besides 
that the truth they contained was of special and even 
pressing importance. They held, as SchmoUer said, 
that " Social Democracy was itself a consequence of the 
sins of modem Liberalism." They went entu^ly with 
the social democrats in maintaining both that a grave 
social crisis had arisen, and that it had been largely 
brought about by an urational devotion on the part of 
the Liberals to the economical doctrine of laissez-faire. 
But they went further with them. They believed that 
the salvation of modem society was to come, not indeed 
.from the particular scheme of reconstraction advocated 
by the social democrats, but still from applications in 
in one form or another of their fundamental principle, 
the principle of association. And it was for that 
reason — it was for the purpose of marking the value 
they set upon the associative principle as the chief 

source of healing for the existing ills of the nations 

that they chose to risk misunderstanding and obloquy 
by accepting the nickname put upon them by their 
adversaries. The late Professor Held, who clahns as a 
merit that he was the first to do so, explains very clearly 
what he means by calling himself a socialist Socialism 
may signify many diflFerent things, but, as he uses the 


word, it denotes not any definite system of opinions or 
any particular plan of social reform, but only a general 
method which may ^uide various systems, and may be 
employed more or less according to circumstances in 
directing many different reforms. He is a socialist 
because he would give much more place than obtains at 
present to the associative principle in the arrangements 
of economical life, and because he cannot share in the 
admiration many economists express for the purely 
individualistic basis on which these arrangements have 
come to stand. A socialist is simply the opposite of an 
individualist. The individualist considers that the 
|)erfection of an industrial economy consists in giving to 
the principles of self-interest, private ])roperty, and free 
competition, on which the present order of things is 
founded, the amplest scope they are capable of receiving, 
and that all existing economical evils are due, not to the 
operation of these principles but only to their obstruc- 
tion, and will gradually disappear when self-interest 
comes to be l>etter understood, when competition is 
facilitated by easier inter-communication, and when the 
larw has ceased from troubling and left industry at rest 
The socialist, in Held's sense, is, on the other hand, one 
who rejects the comfortable theory of the natural 
harmony of individual interests, and instead of deploring 
the obstructions which embarrass the oiK^rations of the 
principles of competition, self-interest, and private 
property, thinks that it is precisely in consequence of 
these obstructions that industrial society contrives to 
exist at all. Strip these principles, he argues, of the 
restraints put upon them now by custom, by conscience, 
by public opinion, by a sense of fairness and kind feeling, 


and the inequalities of wealth would be immensely 
aggravated and the labouring classes would be unavoid- 
ably ground to misery. Industrial society would fall 
into general anarchy, into a helium omnium contra omnes, 
in which they that have would have more abundantly, 
and they that have not would lose even what they have. 
Held declines to join in the admiration bestowed by 
many scientific economists upon this state of war, in 
which the battle is always to the rich. He counts it 
neither the state of nature, nor the state of perfection, of 
economical society, but simply an unhappy play of selfish 
and opposing forces, which it ought to be one of the 
distinct aims of political economy to mitigate and 
counteract. Individualism has already had too free a 
course, and especially in the immediate past has enjoyed 
too sovereign a reign. The work of the world cannot 
be carried on by a fortuitous concourse of hostile atoms, 
moving continually in a strained state of suspended 
social war, and therefore, for the very safety of industrial 
society, we must needs now change our tack, give up our 
uidividualism, and sail in the line of the more positive 
and constructive tendencies of socialism. To Held*s 
thinking accordingly, socialism and individualism are 
merely two contrary general principles, ideals, or 
methods, which may be employed to regulate the con- 
stitution of economical society, and he declares himself 
a socialist because he believes that society sufiers at 
present from an excessive application of the individu- 
alistic principle, and can only be cured by an extensive 
employment of the socialistic one. 

This is all clear enough, but it is simply giving to the 
word socialism another new meaning, and creating a 



fresh source of ambiguity. That term has already con- 
tracted definite associations which it is impossible to 
dispel by mere word of mouth, and which constitute a 
refracting medium through which the principles of the 
Socialists of the Chair cannot fail to be presented in a 
very misleading form. These writers assume a special 
position in two relations — first, as theoretical economists, 
and, second, as practical politicians or social reformers ; 
and in both respects alike the term socialism is pecu- 
liarly inappropriate to describe their views. In regard 
to the first point, by adopting that name they have 
done what they could to " Nicodemus " themselves 
into a sect, whereas they might have claimed, if they 
chose, to be better exponents of the catholic tradi- 
tion of the science than those who found fault with 
them. This is a claim, however, which they would be 
shocked indeed to think of presenting. With a natural 
partiality for their own opinions, they exaggerated 
immensely the extent and also the value of their diver- 
gence from the traditional or, as it is sometimes called, 
the classical economy. In the energy of their recoil 
from the dogmatism which had for a generation usurped 
an excessive sway over economical science, they were 
carried too far in the opposite direction, but they had in 
their own minds the sensation that they were carried a 
great deal farther than they really were. They liked to 
think of their historical method as constituting a new 
epoch, and effecting a complete revolution in political 
economy, but, as will subsequently appear, that method, 
when reduced to its real worth, amounts to no more 
than an application, with somewhat distincter purpose 
and wider reach, of the method which Smith himself 


followed. Of this they are in some degree conscious. 
Brentano, who belongs to the extreme right of the 
school, says that Smith would have been a Socialist of 
the Chair to-day if he were alive ; and Samter, who 
belongs to the extreme left, though he is doubtful 
regarding Smith, has no hesitation in claiming Mill, 
whom he looks upon as standing more outside than 
inside the school of Smith. Their position is, therefore, 
not the new departure which many of them would fain 
represent it to be. They are really as natiu*al and as 
legitimate a line of descent irom Adam Smith as their 
adversaries the German Manchester Party who claimed 
the authority of his name. Perhaps they are even more 
so, for in science the true succession lies with those who 
carry the principles of the master to a more fruitfiil 
development, and not with those who embalm them as 
sacred but sterile simulacra. 

But it is as practical reformers that the Socialists of 
Chair suffer most injustice from their name. Since the 
word socialism was first used by Reybaud fifty years 
ago, it has always been connected with Utopian or 
revolutionary ideas. Now the Socialists of the Chair 
are the very opposite of revolutionaries both by creed 
and practice. None of the various parties which occupy 
themselves with the social problem in Germany is so 
eminently and advisedly practical. Their very historical 
method, apart from anything else, makes them so. It 
gives them a special aversion to political and social 
experiments, for it requires as the first essential of any 
project of reform that it shall issue naturally and easily 
out of— or at least be harmonious with — the historical 
conditions of the time and place to which it is to be 


applied. Roscher, who may be regarded as the founder 
of the school, says that reformers ought to take for their 
model Time, whose reforms are the surest and most 
irresistible of all, but yet so gradual that they cannot be 
observed at any given moment. They make therefore 
on the whole a very sparing use of the socialistic 
principle they invoke. Certainly the world, in their 
eyes, is largely out of joint, but its restoration is to 
proceed gently, like Solomon's temple, without sound of 
hammer. Some of them of course go farther than others, 
but they would all still leave us rent, wages, and profits, 
the three main stems of individualism. They struck the 
idea of taxing speculative profits out of their pn^ramme, 
and so fe,r from having any socialistic thought of abolish- 
ing inheritance, none of them except Von Scheel would 
even tax it exceptionally. Samter stands alone in 
urging the nationalization of the land ; and Wagner 
stands alone in desiring the abolition of private property 
in ground-rents in towns ; the other members cannot 
agree even about the expediency of nationalizing the 
railways. They work of set purpose for a better dis- 
tribution of wealth — for what Schmoller calls a 
progressive equalization of the excessive and even 
dangerous differences of culture that exist at present — 
but they recoil from all suggestion of schemes of reparti- 
tion, and they have no fault to find with inequality in 
itself. On the contrary they regard inequality as being 
not merely an unavoidable result of men's natural 
endowments, but an indispensable instrument of their 
progress and civilization. Schmoller explains that their 
political principles are those of Radical Toryism, as 
portrayed in Lord Beaconsfield's novels ; and he means 


that they rest on the same active sympathy with the 
ripening aspirations of the labouring classes, and the 
same zealous confidence in the authority of the State^ 
and in these respects are distinguished from modem 
Liberalism, whose governing sympathies are with the 
interests and ideas of the bourgeoisie, and which 
entertains a positive jealousy of the action of the State. 
The actual reforms which the Socialists of the Chair 
have hitherto promoted, have been in the main copied 
from our own English legislation — our fiictory acts, our 
legfdization of Trade Unions, our Savings Banks, our 
registration of Friendly Societies, our sanitary l^^lation, 
&c., &c.— measures which have been passed, with the 
concurrence of men of opposite shades of opinion, out of 
no social theory, but from a plain regard to the obvious 
necessities of the hour. So that we have been simply 
Socialists of the Chair for a generation without knowing 
it, doing from a happy political instinct the works which 
they deduce out of an elaborate theory of economical 
politics. Part of their theory, however, is, that in 
practical questions they are not to go by theory, and the 
consequence is that while they sometimes lay down 
general principles in which communism might steal a 
shelter, they control these principles so much in their 
application by considerations of expediency, that the 
measures they end in proposing differ little from such as 
commend themselves to the common sense and public 
spirit of middle-class Englishmen. 

Their general theory had been taught in Germany for 
twenty years before it was forced into importance by 
the policy it suggested and the controversies it excited 
in connection with the socialist movement which began 


in 1863. Wilhelm Roscher, professor of political 
economy in Leipzig, first propounded the historical 
method in his "Gnmdriss zu Vorlesmigen tiber die 
Staatswirthschaft nach geschichtlicher Methode/* pub- 
lished in 1843, though it deserves to be noticed that in 
this work he spoke of the historical method as being the 
ordinary inductive method of scientific economists, and 
distinguished it from the idealistic method proceeding 
by deduction from preconceived ideas, which he said 
was the method of the socialists. He had no thought 
as yet of representing his method as diverging from that 
of his predecessors, even in detail, much less as being 
essentially diflferent in principle. Then the late Bruno 
Hildebrand, professor of political science at Jena, in his 
work on the "National Economy of the Present and 
the Future," published in 1847, proclaimed the historical 
method as the harbinger and instrument of a new era in 
the science, but he speaks of it only as a restoration of 
the method of diligent observation which Adam Smith 
practised, but which his disciples deserted for pure 
abstractions. In 1853, a more elaborate defence and 
exposition of the historical method appeared in a work 
on "Political Economy from the Standpoint of the 
Historical Method," by Carl G. A. Kiiies, professor of 
national economy at Heidelbeig. But it was never 
dreamt that the ideas broached in these works had 
spread beyond the few solitary thinkers who issued 
them. The Free Traders were still seen ruling every- 
thing in the high places of the land in the name of 
political economy, and they were everywhere apparently 
accepted as authorized interpreters of the mysteries of 
that, to the ordinary public, somewhat occult science. 


They preached the freedom of exchange like a religion 
which contained at once all they were required to 
believe in economical matters, and all they were required 
to do. There was ground for Lassalle's well known 
taunt: "Get a starling, Herr Schultze, teach it to 
pronounce the word * exchange/ * exchange/ * exchange/ 
and you have produced a very good modem economist" 
The German Manchester Party certainly gave to the 
principle of laissez-faire, laiasez-aller, a much more 
unconditional and universal application than any party 
in this country thought of according to it. They looked 
on it as a kind of orthodoxy which it had come to be 
almost impious to challenge. It had been hallowed by 
the consensus of the primitive fathers of the science, and 
it seemed now to be confirmed beyond question experi- 
mentally by the success of the practical legislation in 
which it had been exemplified diuing the previous 
quarter of a century. The adherents of the new school 
never raised a murmur against all this up till the 
eventful time of the socialist agitation and the formation 
of the new Grerman Empire, and the reason is very 
plain. On the economical questions which came up 
before that period, they were entirely at one with the 
Free Traders, and gave a hearty support to their 
energetic lead. They were, for example, as strenuously 
opposed to protective duties and to restrictions upon 
liberty of migration, settlement, and trading, as Man- 
chester itself. But with the socialist agitation of 1863, 
a new class of economical questions came to the front — 
questions respecting the condition of the working classes, 
the relations of capital and labour, the distribution of 
national wealth, and the like — and on these new 


questions they could not join the Free Traders in saying 
" hands oflF." They did not believe with the Manchester 
school that the existing distribution of wealth was the 
best of all possible distributions, because it was the 
distribution which Nature herself produced. They 
thought, on the contrary, that Nature had littie to do 
with the matter, but even if it had more, there was only 
too good cause for applying strong corrections by art 
They said it was vain for the Manchester Party to deny 
that a social question existed, and to maintain that the 
working classes were as well off as it was practical for 
economical arrangements to make theuL They declared 
there was much truth in the charges which socialists 
were bringing against the existing order of things, and 
that there was a decided call upon all the powers of 
society, and, among others, especially upon the State, to 
intervene with some remedial measures. A good 
opportunity for concerted and successful action seemed 
to be afforded when the German Empire was established, 
and this led to the convening of the Eisenach Congress 
in 1872, and the organization of the Society for Social 
Politics in the following year. 

Men of aU shades of opinion were invited to that 
Congress, provided they agreed on two points, which 
were expressly mentioned in the invitation: 1st, in 
entertaining an earnest sense of the gravity of the social 
crisis which existed ; and 2nd, in renouncing the 
principle of laissez-faire and all its works. The 
Congress was attended by 150 members, including 
many leading politicians and most of the professors of 
political economy at the Universities. Roscher, Knies, 
and Hildebrand were there, with their younger disciples 


Schmoller, professor at Strasburg and author of the 
"History of the Small Industries;" Lujo Brentano, 
professor at Breslau, well-known in this country by his 
book on "English Gilds" and his larger work on 
"English Trade Unions;" Professors A. Wagner of 
Berlin and Schonbeig of Tiibingen. Then there were 
men like Max Hirsch and Duncker the publisher, both 
members of the Imperial Diet, and the founders of the 
Hirsch-Duncker Trade Unions ; Dr. Engel, director of 
the statistical bureau at Berlin ; Professor von Holtzen- 
dorflf, the criminal jurist ; and Professor Gneist, historian 
of the English Constitution, who was chosen to preside. 
After an opening address by Schmoller, three papers 
were read and amply discussed, one on Factory Legisla- 
tion by Brentano, a second on Trade Unions and 
Strikes by Schmoller, and a third on Labourers' Dwel- 
lings by EngeL This congress first gave the German! 
public an idea of the strength of the new movement ; 
and the Free Trade party were completely, and some- 
what bitterly, disenchanted, when they found themselves' 
deserted, not as they &ncied merely by a few efiusivc; 
young men, but by ahnost every economist of established 
reputation in the country. A sharp controversy ensued. 
The newspapers, with scarcely an exception, attacked 
the Socialists of the Chair tooth and nail, and leading 
members of the Manchester party, such as Treitschke 
the historian, Bamberger the Liberal politician, and 
others, rushed eagerly into the fray. They were met 
with spirit by Schmoller, Held, Von Scheel, Brentano, 
and other spokesmen of the Eisenach position, and one 
result of the polemic is, that some of the misunderstand- 
ings which naturally enough clouded that position at the 


b^inning have been cleared awaj, and it is now ad- 
mitted by both sides that they are really much nearer 
one another than either at first supposed. The Socialists 
of the Chair did not confine their labours to contro- 
versial pamphlets. They published newspapers, periodi- 
cals, elaborate works of economical investigation ; they 
held meetings, promoted trade unions, insurance societies, 
savings banks ; they brought the hours of labour, the 
workmen's houses, the effects of speculation and crises, 
all within the sphere of legislative consideration. The 
moderation of their proposals of change has conciliated 
to a great extent their Manchester opponents. Even 
Oppenheim, the inventor of their nickname, laid aside 
his scoffing, and seconded some of their measures ener- 
getically. Indeed, their chief adversaries are now the 
socialists, who cannot forgive them for going one mile 
with them and yet refusing to go twain — for adopting 
their diagnosis and yet rejecting their prescription. 
Brentano, who is one of the most moderate, as well as 
one of the ablest of them, takes nearly as grave a view 
of the state of modem industrial society as the socialists 
themselves do ; and he says that if the evils irom which 
it suffers could not be removed otherwise, it would be 
impossible to avoid much longer a socialistic experiment 
But then he maintains that they can be removed other- 
wise, and one of the chief motives of himself and his 
allies in their practical work is to put an end to social- 
istic agitation by curing the ills which have excited it 

The key to the position of the Socialists of the Chair 
lies in their historical method. This method has nothing 
to do with the question sometimes discussed whether 
the proper method of political economy is the inductive 


or the deductive. On that question the historical school 
of economists are entirely agreed with the classical 
school Roscher^ for example, adopts Mill's description 
of political economy as a concrete deductive science, 
whose A priori conclusions, based on laws of human 
nature, must be tested by experience, and says that an 
economical &ct can be said to have received a scientific 
explanation only when its inductive and deductive ex- 
planations have met and agreed. He makes, indeed, 
two qualifying remarks. One is, that it ought to be 
remembered that even the deductive explanation is 
based on observation, on the self-observation of the 
person who offers it. This will be admitted by all. 
The other is, that every explanation is only provisional, 
and liable to be superseded in the course of the progress 
of knowledge, and of the historical growth of social and 
economical structure. This will also be admitted, and 
it is no peculiarity of political economy. There is no 
science whose conclusions are not modified by the ad- 
vance of knowledge ; and there are many sciences besides 
political economy whose phenomena change their type 
in lapse of time. Roscher's proviso, therefore, amounts 
to nothing more than a caution to economical investi- 
gators to build their explanations scrupulously on the 
facts, the whole facts, and nothing but the fisusts, and to 
be specially on their guard against applying to the cir- 
cumstances of one period or nation explanations and 
recommendations which are only just regarding another. 
The same disease may have different symptoms in a 
child from what it has in a man, and a somewhat 
different type at the present day from what it had some 
centuries ago ; and it may therefore require a quite 


different treatment That is a very sound principle and 
a very self-evident one, and it contains the whole essence 
of the historical method, which, so far as it is a method 
of investigation at all, is simply that of other econonusts 
applied under a more dominating sense of the com- 
plexity and diversity of the phenomena which ^are sub- 
jected to it. There is consequently with the historical 
school more rigour of observation and less rigour of 
theory, and this peculiarity leads to practical results of 
considerable importance, but it has no just pretensions 
to assume the dignity of a new economical method, and 
it is made to appear much bigger than it is by looming 
through the scholastic distinctions in which it is usually 
set forth. 

The historical school sometimes call their method the 
recUiatic and ethical method, to distinguish it from what 
they are pleased to term the idealistic, and selfish or 
materialistic method of the earlier economists. They 
are realists because they cannot agree with the majority 
of economists who have gone before them in believing 
there is one, and only one, ideal of the best economical 
system. There are, says Roscher, as many different 
ideals as there are different types of peoples, and he 
completely casts aside the notion, which had generally 
prevailed before him^ that there is a single normal system 
of economical arrangements, which is built on the natural 
laws of economical life, and to which all nations may at 
all times with advantage conform. It is against this 
notion that the historical school has revolted with so 
much energy that they wish to make their opposition to 
it the flag and symbol of a schism. They deny that 
there are any natural laws in political economy ; they 


deny that there is any economical solution absolutely 
valid, or capable of answering in one economical situa- 
tion because it has answered in another. Roscher, 
Knies, and the older members of the school make most 
of the latter point ; but Hildebrand, Schonberg, Schmol- 
ler, Brentano, and the younger spirits among them, 
direct against the former some of their keenest attacks. 
They declare it to be a survival from the exploded 
metaphysics of the much-abused AufklUrung of last 
century. They argue that just as the economists of that 
period took self-interest to be the only economical 
motive, because the then dominant psychology — that of 
the selfish or sensual school — represented it as the only 
real motive of human action, of which the other motives 
were merely modifications ; so did they come to count 
the reciprocal action and reaction of the self-interest of 
different individuals to be a system of natural forces, 
working according to natiural laws, because they found 
the whole intellectual air they breathed at the time 
filled with the idea that all error in poetry, art, ethics, 
and therefore also economics, had come through departing 
from Nature, and that the true course in everything lay 
in giving the supremacy to the nature of things. We 
need not stop to discuss this historical question as to 
the origin of the idea ; it is enough here to say that the 
Socialists of the Chair maintain that in economical 
affidrs it is impossible to make any such distinction 
between what is natural and what is not so. Everything 
results from nature, and everything results from positive 
institution too. There is in economics either no nature 
at all, or there is nothing else. Human will effects or 
affects all ; and human will is itself influenced, of course. 


by human nature and human condition. Roscher says 
that it is a mistake to speak of industry being forced 
into " unnatural " courses by priests or tyrants, for the 
priests and tyrants are part and parcel of the people 
themselves, deriving all their resources from the people, 
and in no respect Archimedeses standing outside 
of their own world. The action of the State in 
economical affairs is just as natural as the action of the 
former or the manufacturer ; and the latter is as much 
matter of positive institution as tiie former. But while 
Roscher condemns this distinction, he does not go the 
length his disciples have gone, and reject the whole idea 
of natural law in the sphere of political economy. On 
the contrary, he actually makes use of the expression, 
" the natural laws of political economy," and asserts 
that, when they are once sufficiently known, all that is 
then needed to guide economical politics is to obtain 
exact and reliable statistics of the situation to which 
they are to be applied. Now that statement is exactly 
the position of the classical school on the subject 
Economical politics is, of course, like all other politics, 
an affair of times and nations ; but economical science 
belongs to mankind, and contains principles which may 
be accurately enough termed, as Roscher terms them, 
natural laws, and which may be applied, as he would 
apply them, to the improvement of particular economical 
situations, on condition that sufficiently complete and 
correct statistics are obtained beforehand of the whole 
actual circumstances. Economical laws are, of course, 
of the nature of ethical laws, and not of physical ; but 
they are none the less on that account natural laws, and 
the polemic instituted by the Socialists of the Chair to 


expel the notion of natural law from the entire territory 
of political economy, is unjustifiable. Phenomena 
which are the result of human action will always exhibit 
regularities while human character remains the same ; 
and, moreover, they often exhibit undesigned regularities 
which, not being imposed upon them by man, must be 
imposed upon them by Nature. While, therefore, the 
Socialists of the Chair have made a certain point against 
the older economists by showing the futility and 
mischief of distinguishmg between what is natural in 
economics and what is not, they have erred in seeking 
to convert that point into an argument against the 
validity of economical principles and the existence of 
economical laws. At the same time their position 
constitutes a wholesome protest against the tendency to 
exaggerate the completeness or finality of ciurent 
doctrines, and gives economical investigation a beneficial 
du-ection by setting it upon a more thorough and all- 
sided observation of facts. 

But when they complain of the earlier economists 
being so wedded to abstractions, the fault they chiefly 
mean to censure is the habit of solving practical 
economical problems by the unconditional application of 
certain abstract principles. It is the "absolutism of 
solutions " they condemn. They think economists were 
used to act like doctors who had learnt the principles of 
medicine by rote and applied them without the least 
discrimination of the peculiarities of individual con- 
stitutions. With them the individual peculiarities are 
everytiiing, and the principles are too much thrown into 
the shade. Economical phenomena, they hold, con- 
stitute only one phase of the general life of the particular 


nations in which they appear. They are part and 
parcel of a special concrete social organism. They are 
influenced — they are to a great extent made what they 
are — by the whole ethos of the people they pertain to, 
by their national character, their stage of culture, tiieir 
habits, customs, laws. Economical problems are conse- 
quently always of necessity problems of the time, and 
can only be solved for the period that raises them. 
Their very nature alters under other skies and in other 
ages. They neither appear everywhere in the same 
shape, nor admit everywhere of the same answer. They 
must therefore be treated historically and empirically, 
and political economy is always an afiair for the nation 
and never for the world. The historical school inveigh 
against the cosmopolitanism of the current economical 
theories, and declare warmly in fevour of nationalism ; 
according to which every nation has its own political 
economy just as it has its own constitution and its own 
character. Now here they are right in what they affirm, 
wrong in what they deny. They are right in affirming 
that economical politics is national, wrong in denying 
that economical science is cosmopolitan. In German 
the word economy denotes the concrete industrial 
system as well as the abstract science of industrial 
systems, and one therefore readily falls into the error of 
applying to the latter what is only true of the former. 
There may be general principles of engineering, though 
every particular project can only be successfully accom- 
plished by a close regard to its particular conditions. 
In claiming a cosmopolitan validity for their principles, 
economists do not overlook their essential relativity. 
On the contrary, they describe their economical laws as 


being in reality nothing more than tendencies, which are 
not even strictly true as scientific explanations, and are 
never for a moment contemplated as unconditional 
solutions for practical situations. Moreover Roscher, 
in defining his task as an economist, virtually takes up 
the cosmopolitan standpoint and virtually rejects the 
national. He says a political economist has to explain 
what is or has been, and not to show what ought to 
be ; he quotes the saying of Dunoyer, Je ri impose rien^ 
je ne propose mime rien, f expose ; and states that what 
he has to do is to unfold the anatomy and physiology of 
social and economy. He is a scientific man, 
and not an economical politician, and naturally assumes 
the position of science, which is cosmopolitan, and not 
that of politics, which is national and even opportunist. 
I pass now to a perhaps more important point, from 
which it will be seen that the Socialists of the Chair- are 
tar from thinking that political economy has nothing to 
do with what ought to be. Next to the realistic school, 
the name they prefer to describe themselves by is the 
ethical school. By this they mean two things, and 
some of them lay the stress on the one and some on the 
other. They mean, first, to repudiate the idea of self- 
interest being the sole economical motive or force.* 
They do not deny it to be a leading motive in industrial 
transactions, and they do not, like some of the earlier 
socialists, fiim at its extinction or replacement by a 
social or generous principle of action. But they main- 
tain that the course of industry never has been and 
never will be left to its guidance alone. Many other 
social forces, national character, ideas, customs — the 
whole inherited ethos of the people — ^individual peculi- 


arities, love of power, sense of feir dealing, public 
opinion, conscience, local ties, family connections, civil 
legislation — all exercise upon industrial affairs as real an 
influence as personal interest, and, furthermore, they 
exercise an influence of precisely tiie same kind. They all 
operate ethically, through human will, judgment, motives, 
and in this respect one of them has no advantage over 
another. It cannot be said, except in a very limited 
sense, that self-interest is an essential and abiding 
economical force and the others only accidental and 
\y passing. For while customs perish, custom remains ; 
opinions come and go, but opinion abides ; and though 
any particular act of the State s intervention may be 
abolished, State intervention itself cannot possibly be 
dispensed with. It is all a matter of more or less, of 
here or there. The State is not the intruder in industry 
it is represented to be. It is planted in the heart of the 
industrial organism from the beginning, and constitutes 
in fact part of the nature of things from which it is 
sought to distinguish it It is not unnatural for us to 
wear clothes because we happen to be bom naked, for 
Nature has given us a principle which guides us to 
adapt our dress to our climate and circumstances. 
Reason is as natural as paasion, and the economists who 
repel the State's intrusion and think they are thus 
leaving industry to take its natural course, commit the 
same absurdity as the moralist who recommends men to 
live according to Nature, and explains living according 
to Nature to mean the gratification as much as possible 
of his desires, and his abandoment as much as possible 
of rational and, as he conceives, artificial plan. The 
State cannot observe an absolute neutrality if it would. 


Non-intervention is only a particular kind of intervention. 
There must be laws of property, succession, and the 
like, and the influence of these spreads over the whole 
industrial system, and affects both the character of its 
production and the incidence of its distribution of 

But, second, by calling their method the ethical 
method, the historical school desire to repudiate the 
idea that in dealing with economical phenomena they 
are dealing with things which are morally indifferent,! 
like the phenomena of physics, and that science has 
nothing to do with them but to explain them. They have 
certainly reason to complain that the operation of the 
laws of economy is sometimes represented as if it were 
morally as neutral as the operation of the law of 
gravitation, and it is in this conception that they think 
the materialism of the dominant economical school to 
be practically most offensively exhibited. Economical 
phenomena are not morally indifferent ; they are ethical in 
their very being, and ought to be treated as such. Take, 
for example, the labour contract To treat it as a 
simple exchange between equals is absurd. The labourer 
must sell his labour or starve, and may be obliged to 
take such terms for it as leave him without the means 
of enjoying the rights which society awards him, and 
discharging the duties which society claims from him. 
Look on him as a ware, if you will, but remember he is 
a ware that has life, that has connections, responsibilities, 
expectations, domestic, social, political. To get his 
bread he might sell his freedom, but society will not 
permit him ; he may sell his health, he may sell his 
character, for society permits that ; he may go to sea in 


rotten ships, and be sent to work in unwholesome 

workshops; he may be herded in farm bothies where 

the commonest decencies of life cannot be ob8er\^ed ; 

and he may suck the strength out of posterity by putting 

his children to premature toil to eke out his precarious 

living. Transactions which have such direct bearings 

on freedom, on health, on morals, on the permanent 

well-being of the nation, can never be morally indifferent 

They arc necessarily within the sphere of ends and 

ideals. Their ethical side is one of their most important 

ones, and the science that deals with them is therefore 

r ethical. For the same reason they come within the 

province of the State, which is the normal guardian of 

the general and permanent interests, moral and 

economical, of the community. The State does not stand 

to industry like a watchman who guards from the outside 

property in which he has himself no personal concern. 

It htw a positive industrial oflBce. It is, says Schmoller, 

the great educational institute of the human race, and 

there is no sense in suspiciously seeking to reduce its 

action in industrial affairs to a minimum. His theory 

of the State is that of the Cultur-Sfaat, in distinction 

from the Polizei'Staaty and the RechtsStaaL The 

State can no longer be regarded as merely an omnipotent 

instrument for the maintenance of tranquillity and order 

in the name of Heaven ; nor even as a constitutional 

organ of the collective national authority for seciuing to 

all individuals and classes in the nation, without 

exception, the rights and privil^es which they are 

legally recognised to possess ; but it must be henceforth 

looked upon as a positive agency for the spread of 

universal culture within its geographical territory. 


With these views, the Socialists of the Chair could 
not fail to take an active concern with the class of topics 
thrown up by the socialist movement, and exciting still 
so much attention in Germany under the name of the 
social question. They neither state that question nor 
answer it like the socialists, but Uieir first offence, and 
the fountain of all their subsequent offending, in the 
judgment of their Manchester antagonists, consisted in 
their acknowledgment that there was a social question 
at all. Not that the Manchester party denied the 
existence of evils in the present state of industry, but 
they looked upon these evils as resulting from obstruc- 
tions to the freedom of competition which time, and 
time alone, would eventually remove, and from moral 
causes with which economists had no proper business. 
The Socialists of the Chair, however, could not dismiss 
their responsibility for those evils so easily. They owned 
at once that a social crisis had arisen or was near at hand. 
The effect of the general adoption of the large system of 
production had been to diminish the numbers of the 
middle classes, to reduce the great bulk of the lower classes 
permanently to the position of wage-labourers, and to 
introduce some grave elements of peril and distress into 
the condition of the wage-labourers themselves. They are 
doubtless better fed, better lodged, better clad, than they 
were say in the middle and end of last century, when not 
one in a hundred of them had shoes to his feet, when seven 
out of eight on the Continent were still bondsmen, and 
when three out of every four in England had to eke out 
their wages by parochial relief. But, in spite of these 
advantages, their life has now less hope and less 
security than it had then. Industry on the great 


scale has multiplied the viciiBsitudes of trade, and 
rendered the labourer much more liable to be thrown 
out of work. It has diminished the avenues to com- 
parative independence and dignity which were open to 
the journeyman under the regime of the small industries. 
And while thus condenmed to live by wages alone all 
his days, he could entertain no reasonable hope — at 
least before the formation of trade unions — that his 
wages could be kept up within reach of the measure of 
his wants, as these wants were being progressively 
expanded by the general advance of culture. Moreover, 
the twinge of the case lies here, that while the course 
which industrial development is taking seems to be 
banishing hope and security more and more from the 
labourer's life, the progress of general civilisation is 
making these benefits more and more imperatively 
demanded. The working classes have been growing 
steadily in the scale of moral being. They have acquired 
complete personal freedom, legal equality, political 
rights, genend education, a class consciousness ; and 
they have come to cherish a very natural and Intimate 
aspiration that they shall go on progressively sharing in 
the increasing blessings of civilization. Brentano says 
that modem public opinion concedes this claim of the 
working man as a right to which he is entitled, but that 
modem industrial conditions have been unable as yet to 
secure him in the possession of it ; hence the Social 
Question. Now some persons may be ready enou^ to 
admit this claim as a thing which it is eminently 
desirable to see realized, who will yet demur to the 
representation of it as a right, which puts society under 
a corresponding obligation. But this idea is a peculiarity 


belonging to the whole way of thinking of the Socialigts 
of the Chair upon these subiects. Some of them indeed 
take even higher ground. Schmoller, for example, 
declares that the working classes suffer positive wrong 
in the present distribution of national wealth, considered 
from the standpoint of distributive justice ; but his 
associates as a rule do not agree with him in applying 
this abstract standard to the case. Wagner also stands 
somewhat out of the ranks of his fellows by throwing 
the responsibility of the existing evils directly and 
definitely upon the State. According to his view, there 
can never be anything which may be legitimately called 
a Social Question, unless the evils complained of are 
clearly the consequences of existing legislation, but he 
holds that that is so in the present case. He considers 
that a mischievous turn has been given to the dis- 
tribution of wealth by legalizing industrial freedom 
without at the same time imposing certain restrictions 
upon private property, the rate of interest, and the 
speculations of the Stock Exchange. The State has, 
therefore, caused the Social Question ; and the State is 
bound to settle it The other Socialists of the Chair, 
however, do not bring the obligation so dead home to 
the civil authority alone. The duty rests on society, 
and, of course, so for on the State also, which is the 
chief organ of society ; but it is not to State-help alone, 
nor to self-help alone, that the Socialists of the Chair 
ask working men to look ; but it is to what they term 
the self-help of society. Society has granted to the 
labouring classes the rights of fi'eedom and equality, and 
has, therefore, come bound to give them, as far as it 
legitimately can, the amplest fieunlities for practically 


enjoying these rights. To give a man an estate 
mortgaged above its rental is only to mock him ; to 
confer the status of freedom upon working men merely 
^to leave them overwhelmed in an unequal struggle with 
capital is to make their freedom a dead letter. Personal 
and civil independence require, as their indispensable 
accompaniment, a certain measure of economical inde- 
pendence likewise, and consequently to bestow the 
former as an inalienable right, and yet take no concern 
to make the latter a possibility, is only to discharge 
one-half of an obligation voluntarily undertaken, and to 
deceive expectations reasonably entertained. No doubt 
this independence is a thing which working men must 
in the main win for themselves, and day after day, by 
labour, by providence, by association ; but it is never- 
theless an important point to remember, with Brentano, 
that it forms an essential part of an ideal which society 
has already acknowledged to be legitimate, and which 
it is therefore bound to second every effort to realize. 
The Social Question, conceived in the light of these 
considerations, may accordingly be said to arise from 
the fact that a certain material or economic independence 
has become more necessary for the working man, and 
less possible. It is more necessary, because, with the 
sanction of modem opinion, he has awoke to a new 
sense of personal dignity, and it is less possible, 
in . consequence of circumstances already mentioned, 
attendant upon the development of modem industry. 
It is not, as Lord Macaulay maintained, that the evils 
of man's life are the same now as formerly, and that 
nothing has changed but the intelligence which has 
become conscious of them. The new time has brought 


new evils and less right or disposition to submit to 
them. It is the conflict of these two tendencies which, 
in the thinking of the Socialists of the Chair, constitutes 
the social crisis of the present day. Some of them, 
indeed, describe it in somewhat too abstract formulte, 
which exercise an embarrassing influence on their 
speculations. For example, Von Scheel says the 
Social Question is the eflect of the felt contradiction 
between the ideal of personal freedom and equality 
which hangs before the present age, and the increasing 
inequality of wealth which results from existing 
economical arrangements ; and he proposes a^ the 
general principle of solution, that men should now 
abandon the exclusive devotion which modem Liberalism 
has paid to the principle of freedom, and substitute in 
its room an adhesion to freedom plus equality. But 
then equality may mean a great many different things, 
and Von Scheel leaves us with no precise clue to the 
particular scope he would give his principle in its 
application. He certainly seems to desire more than a 
mere dl^uality of right, and to aim at some sort or degree 
of equality of fiwt, but what or how he informs us not ; 
just as Schmoller, while propounding the dogma of 
distributive justice, condenms the communistic principle 
of distribution of wealth as being a purely aninml 
principle, and offers us no other incorporation of his 
dogma. In spite of their antipathy to abstractions, 
many of the Socialists of the Chair indulge considerably 
in barren generalities, which could servf^ them nothing 
in practice, even if they did not make it a point to 
square their practice by the historical conditions of the 


Brentano strikes on the whole the most practical key- 
note, both in his conception of what the social question 
is and of how it is to be met What is needed, he 
thinks, very much is to give to modem industry an 
organization as suitable to it as the old guilds were to 
the industry of earlier times, and this is to be done in 
great part by adaptations of that model. He makes 
comparatively little demand on the power of the State, 
while of course agreeing with the rest of his school in 
ihe latitude they give to the lawfulness of its interven- 
tion in industrial matters. He would ask it to bestow 
a legal status on trade unions and Mendly societies, to 
appoint courts of conciliation, to regulate the hours of 
labour, to institute &ctory inspection, and to take action 
of some sort on the daily more uigent subject of labourers' 
dwellings. But the elevation of the labouring classes 
must be wrought mainly by their own well-guided and 
long-continued efforts, and the first step is gained when 
they have resolved earnestly to b^in. The pith of the 
problem turns on the matter of wages, and, so &r at any 
rate, it has already been solved almost as welTas is 
practicable by the English trade unions, which have 
proved to the world that they are always able to convert 
the question of wages from the question how little the 
labourer can afford to take, into the question how much 
the employer is able to give — t.e., from the minimum to 
the maximum which the state of the market allows. 
That is of course a very important change, and it is 
interesting to know that F. A. Lange, the able and dis- 
tinguished hist(man of Materialism, who had written on 
the labour question with strong socialist sympathies, 
stated to Brentano that his account of the Elnglish 


trade unions had converted him entirely from his belief 
that a socialistic experiment was necessary. Brentano 
admits that the effect of trade onions is partial only ; 
that they really divide the labouring class into two 
different strata — those who belong to the trade unions 
being raised to a higher platform, and those who do not 
being lefb as they were in the gall of bitterness* But 
then, he observes, great gain has been made when at 
least a large section of the working class has been 
brought more securely within the pale of advancing 
culture, and it is only in this gradual way — section by 
section — that the elevation of the whole body can be 
eventually accomplished. The trade union has imported 
into the life of the working man something of the 
element of hope which it wanted, and a systematic 
scheme of working-class insurance is now needed to 
introduce the element of security. Brentano has pub- 
lished an excellent little work on that subject ; and here 
again he asks no material help from the State. The 
working class must insiu^ themselves against all the 
risks of their life by association, just as they must keep 
up the rate of their wages by association ; and for the 
same reasons — first, because they are able to do so under 
existing economical conditions, and second, because it is 
only so the end can be gained consistently with the 
modem moral conditions of their life — Le., with the 
maintenance of their personal freedom, equality, and 
independence. Brentano thinks that the sound prin- 
ciple of working-class insurance is that every trade 
union ought to become the insurance society for its 
trade, because every trade has its own special risks and 
therefore requires its own insurance premium, and be- 


cause malingering, feigned sickueHs, claims for loss of 
employment through personal fault, and the like, cannot 
possibly be checked except by the fund being adminis- 
tered by the local lodges of the trade to which the sub- 
scribers belong. The insurance fiind might be kept 
separate from the other funds of the union, but he sees 
no reason why it should not be combined with them, as 
it would only constitute a new obstacle to ill-considered 
strikes, and as striking in itself will, he expects, in course 
of time, give way to some system of arbitration. Bren- 
tano makes no suggestion regarding the mass of the 
working class who belong to no trade union. They 
cannot be dealt with in the same way, or so effectively. 
But this is quite in keeping with the general principle 
of the Socialists of the Chair — ^in which they differ toto 
c(bIo from the socialists — that society is not to be amelio- 
rated by rigidly applying to every bit of it the same 
plan, but only by a thousand modifications and remedies 
adapted to its thousand varieties of circumstances and 



The idea that a radical affinity exists between Christi- 
anity and socialism in their general aim, in their 
essential principles, in their pervading spirit, has strong 
attractions for a certain, by no means inferior, order of 
mind, and we find it frequently maintained in the course 
of history by representatives of both systems. Some of 
the principal socialists of the earlier part of this century 
used to declare that socialism was only Christianity 
more logically carried out and more faithfully practised ; 
or, at any rate, that socialism would be an idle super- 
fluity, if ordinary Christian principles were really to be 
acted upon honestly and without reserve. St Simon 
published his views under the title of the " Nouveau 
Christianisme," and asserted that the prevailing forms 
of Christianity were one gigantic heresy ; that both the 
Catholic and the Protestant Churches had now lost 
their power, simply because they had neglected their 
great temporal mission of raising the poor, and because 
their clergy had given themselves up to barren discussions 
of theology, and remained absolutely ignorant of the 
living social questions of the time ; and that the true 
Christian r^me which he was to introduce was one 


which should be founded on the Christian principle that 
all men are brothers ; which should be governed by the 
Christian law, " Have ye love one to another ?" and in 
y which all the forces of society should be mainly conse- 
crated to the amelioration of the most numerous and 
poorest class. Cabet was not less explicit He said 
that " if Christianity had been interpreted and applied 
in' the spirit of Jesus Christ, if it were rightfully under- 
stood and faithfully obeyed by the numerous sections of 
Christians who are really filled with a sincere piety, and 
need only to know the truth to follow it, then Christi- 
anity would have sufficed, and would still suffice, to 
establish a perfect social and political organization, and 
to deliver mankind from all its ills." 

The same belief, that Christianity is essentially 
socialistic, has at various times appeared in the Church 
itself. The socialism of the only other period in modem 
history besides our own century, in which socialistic 
ideas have prevailed to any considerable extent, was, in 
fact, a direct outcome of Christian conviction, and was 
realized among Christian sects. The socialism of the 
Anabaptists of the Reformation epoch was certainly 
mingled with political idea;s of class emancipation, and 
contributed to stir the insurrection of the German 
peasantry ; but its real origin lay in the religious fervour 
which was abroad at the time, and which buoyed 
sanguine and mystical minds on dreams of a reign of 
Glod. When men feel a new and better power arising 
strongly about them, they are forward to throw 
themselves into harmony with it, and there were people, 
touched by the religious revival of the Reformation, 
who sought to anticipate its progress, as it were, by 


living together like brothers. Fraternity is undoubtedly 

a Christian idea^ come into the world with Christ, 

spread abroad in it by Christian agencies, and belonging 

to the ideal that hovers perpetually over Christian 

society. It has already produced social changes of 

immense consequence, and has force in it, we cannot 

doubt, to produce many more in the future ; and it is 

therefore in nowise strange that in times of religioiis 

zeal or of social distress, this idea of fraternity should 

appeal to some eager natures with so urgent an 

authority, both of condemnation and of promise, that 

they would fain take it hi once by force and make it king. 

The socialism of the present day is not of a religious 

origin. On the contrary, there is some truth in the 

remark of a distinguished economist, M. Paul Leroy- 

Beaulieu, that the prevalence of socialistic ideas is 

largely due to the decline of religious faith among the 

working classes. If there is only the one life, they feel 

they must realise their ideal here and realise it quickly, 

or they will never realise it at alL However this may 

be, the &ct is certain that most contemporary socialists 

have turned their backs on religion. They sometimes 

speak of it with a kind of suppressed and settled 

bitterness as of a friend that has proved &ithless : '^ We 

are not atheists, we have simply done with God." 

They seem to feel that if there be a God, He is at any 

rate no God for them, that He is the God of the rich, 

and cares nothing for the poor, and there is a vein of 

most touching, though most illogical reproach in their 

hostility towards a Deity whom they yet declare to 

have no existence. They say in their heart. There is no 

God, or only one whom they decline to serve, for He is 


no friend to the labouring man, and has never all these 
centuries done anything for him. This atheism seems 
as much matter of class antipathy as of free-thought ; 
and the semi-political element in it lends a peculiar 
bitterness to the socialistic attacks on religion and the 
Church, which are regarded as main pillars of the 
established order of things, and irreconcileable obstruc- 
tives to all socialist dreams. Thj3 Church has, therefore, 
as a rule looked upon the whole movement \iith a 
natural and justifiable suspicion, and has for the most 
part dispensed to it an indiscriminate condemnation. 
Some churchmen, however, scruple to assume this 
attitude ; they recognise a soul of good in the agitation, 
if it could be stripped of the revolutionary and atheistic 
elements of its propaganda, which they hold to be, after 
all, merely accidental accompaniments of the system, at 
once foreign to its essence and pernicious to its purpose. 
It is in substance, they say, an economical movement, 
both in its origin and its objects, and so far as it stands 
on this ground they have no hesitation in declaring that 
in their judgment thei-e is a great deal more Christianity 
in socialism than in the existing industrial regime. 
Those who take this view, generally find a strong bond 
of union with socialists in their common revolt against 
the mammonism of the church-going middle classes, 
and against cun*ent economical doctrines, which seem 
almost to canonize what they count the heartless and 
un-Christian principles of self-interest and competition. 

Such, for example, was the position maintained by 
the Christian Socialists of England thirty years ago — a 
band of noble patriotic men who strove hard, by word 
and deed, to bring all classes of fhe community to a 


knowledge of their duties, as well as their interests, and 
to supersede, as far as might be, the system of unlimited 
competition by a system of universal co-opefetion. 
They inveighed against the Manchester creed, then in 
the flush of success, with an almost prophetic fury of 
conviction, as if it were the special Antichrist of the 
nineteenth century. LassaUe himself has not used 
harder words of it. Maurice said he dreaded above 
everything " that horrible catastrophe of a Manchester 
ascendency, which I believe in my soul would be fatal 
to intellect, morality, and freedom;" and Eingsley 
declared that " of all narrow, conceited, hypocritical, 
anarchic, and atheistic schemes of the universe, the 
Cobden and Bright one was exactly the worst." They 
agreed entirely with the socialists in condenming the 
reigning industrial system : it was founded on un- 
righteousness ; its principles were not only un-Christian, 
but anti-Christian ; and in spite of its apparent 
commercial victories, it would inevitably end in ruin and 
disaster. Some of them had been in Paris and 
witnessed the Revolution of 1848, and had brought 
back with them two firm convictions — one, that a 
piu^ly materialistic civilization, like that of the July 
Monarchy, must sooner or later lead to a like fate ; and 
the other, that the socialist idea of co-operation 
contained the fertilizing germ for developing a really 
enduring and Christian civilization. Mr Ludlow 
mentioned the matter to Maurice, and eventually a 
Society was formed, with Maurice as president, for the 
purpose of promoting co-operation and education among 
the working classes. It is beyond the scope of the 
present work to give any fuller account of this 


iiiteresting and not unfruitiul movement here ; but it is 
to the purpose to mark two peculiarities which dis- 
tinguish it from other phases of socialism. One is, 
that they insisted strongly upon the futility of mere 
external changes of condition, unattended by corres- 
ponding changes of inner character and life. " There 
is no fraternity," said Maurice, finely, ** without a 
^ common Father." Just as it is impossible to maintain 
free institutions among a people who want the virtues 
of freemen, so it is impossible to realise fraternity in 
the general arrangements of society, unless men possess 
a sufficient measure of the industrial and social virtues. 
Hence the stress the Christian Socialists of England 
laid on the education of the working classes. The 
other peculiarity is, that they did not seek in any way 
whatever to interfere with private property, or to invoke 
the assistance of the State. They believed self-help to 
be a sounder principle, both morally and politically, and 
they believed it to be sufficient. They held it to be 
sufficient, not merely in course of time, but immedi- 
ately even, to effect a change in the face of society. 
For they loved and believed in their cause with a 
generous and touching enthusiasm, and were so sincerely 
and absolutely persuaded of its truth themselves, that 
they hardly entertained the idea of other minds resisting 
it " I certainly thought," says Mr Hughes, " (and for 
that matter have never altered my opinion to this day) 
that here we had foimd the solution of the great 
labour question ; but I was also convinced that we had 
nothing to do but just to announce it, and found an 
association or two, in order to convert all England, and 
usher in the millennium at once, so plain did the whole 


thing seem to me. I will not undertake to answer for 
the rest of the council, but I doubt whether I was at 
all more sanguine than the majority." Seventeen 
co-operative associations in London, and twenty-four in 
the provinces (which were all they had established 
when they ceased to publish their Journal), may seem 
a poor result, but their work is not to be estimated by 
that alone. The Christian Socialists imdoubtedly gave 
a very important impetus to the whole movement of 
co-operation, and to the general cause of the ameliora- 
tion of the labouring classes. 

The general position of Maurice and his allies (though 
with important differences, as will appear) has been 
taken up again by two groups in Germany at the present 
day — one Catholic, the other Protestant — in dealing 
with the social question which has for many years 
agitated that country. In one respect the Christian 
Socialists of England were more fortunate than their 
German brethren. Nobody ever ventured to question 
the purity of their motives. The intervention of the 
clergy in politics is generally unpopular : they are 
thought, rightly or wrongly, to be churchmen first, and 
patriots afterwards ; but it was impossible to suspect 
Maurice and his friends of being influenced in their 
efforts at reform by considerations of ecclesiastical or 
electoral interest, or of having any object at heart but 
the social good of the nation. It is otherwise with the 
Christian Socialists of Germany. Neither of the two Ger- 
man groups affects to conceal that one great aim of its 
work is to restore and extend the influence of the Church 
among the labouring classes ; and it is unlikely that the 
Clerical party in Germany were insensible to the political 


adv9,ntage of having organizations of working men under 
ecclesiastical control, though it ought to be acknow- 
ledged that these organizations were contemplated before 
the introduction of universal suffrage. But even though 
ecclesiastical considerations mingled with the motives of 
the Christian Socialists, we see no reason to doubt the 
genuineness of their interest in the amelioration of the 
masses, or the sincerity of their conviction of the econo- 
mical soundness of their programme. 

The Catholic group deserves to be considered first, 
because it intervened in the discussion much sooner than 
the Evangelical, and because it originated a much more 
important movement — larger in its dimensions than the 
other, and invested with additional consequence from 
the circumstance that being promoted under the coun- 
tenance of dignitaries, it must be presumed to have 
received the sanction of the Roman Curia, and may 
therefore afford an index to the general attitude which 
the Catholic Church is disposed to assiime towards Con- 
tinental socialism. The socialist agitation had no sooner 
broken out, in 1863, than Dr DoUinger, then a pillar of 
the Church of Rome, strongly recommended the Catholic 
clubs of Germany to take the question up. These dubs 
are societies for mutual improvement, recreation, and 
benefit, and are composed mainly of working men. 
Father Kolping, himself at the time a working man, 
had, in 1847, founded an extensive organization of 
Catholic journeymen, which, in 1872, had a total mem- 
bership of 70,000, and consisted of an affiliation of small 
journeyman clubs, with a membership of from 50 to 400 
each, in the various towns of Germany. Then there 
were also Catholic apprentice clubs — ^in many cases in 



alliance' with those of the journeymen ; there were 
Catholic master clubs, Catholic peasant clubs, Catholic 
benefit clubs, Catholic young men's clubs, Catholic 
credit clubs. Catholic book clubs, etc^ etc. These 
clubs naturally afforded an organization ready to hand 
for any general purpose the members might share in 
common, and being composed of working men, they 
seemed reasonably calculated to be of effective service 
in forwarding the cause of social amelioration. Early 
in 1864, accordingly. Bishop Ketteler of Mayence 
warmly seconded Dollinger's idea, and at the same time 
published a remarkable pamphlet on the Labour Ques- 
tion and Christianity, in which he unfolded his views of 
the causes and the cure of the existing evils. 

William Immanuel, Baron von Ketteler, had been for 
twenty years a powerful and impressive figure in the 
public life of Germany. His high rank, social and 
ecclesiastical, his immense energy, his weight of cha- 
racter, his personal disinterestedness of purpose, and his 
intellectual vigour and acuteness, had combined to give 
him great importance both in Church and State. Bom 
in 1811, of an ancient Westphalian family, he was 
trained in law and politics for the public service, and 
actually entered upon it, but resigned his post in 1838, 
in consequence of the dispute about the Cologne 
bishopric, and resolved to give himself to the work of 
the Church. After studying theology at Munich and 
Miinster, he was ordained priest in 1844, and became 
soon afterwards pastor at Hopster in Westphalia. Being 
sent as member for Langerich to the German National 
Assembly at Frankfort in 1848, he at once made his 
mark by the vigour with which he strove for the spiri- 


tual independence of the Churchy by the lectures and 
sermons he delivered on questions of the day, and 
especially by a bold and generous oration he pronounced 
at the grave of the assassinated deputy, Prince Lich- 
nowsky. This oration excited sensation all over Ger- 
many, and Ketteler was promoted, in 1849, to the 
Hedwigsburg Church, in Berlin, and in 1850 to the 
Bishopric of Mayence. In this position he foimd scope 
for all his powers. He founded a theological seminary 
at Mayence, erected orphan-houses and reformatories, 
introduced various religious orders and congr^ationist 
schools, and entering energetically into the disputes in 
Baden regarding the place and rights of the Catholic 
Church, he succeeded in establishing an understanding 
whereby the State gave up much of its patronage, its 
supervision of theological seminaries, its veto on ecclesi- 
astical arrangements, restored episcopal courts, and 
assigned the Church extensive influence over popular 
education. He was one of the bishops who authorized 
the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, but 
he belonged to the opposition at the Vatican Council of 

1870. He wrote a pamphlet strongly deprecating the 
promulgation of the dogma of infellibility, and went, 
even at the last moment, to the Pope personally, and 
implored him to abandon the idea of promulgating it ; 
but as his objection respected its opportuneness and not 
its truth, he did not secede with Dollinger when his 
opposition foiled, but accepted the dogma himself and 
demanded the submission of his clergy to it Bishop 
Ketteler was returned to the German Imperial Diet in 

1871, and led the Clerical Fraction in opposing the 
ecclesiastical policy of the Government. He di^ at 


Binghausen, in Bavaria, in 1877, and is buried in 
Mayence Cathedral Ketteler had always been pene- 
trated with the ambition of making the Catholic Church 
a factor of practical importance in the political and 
social life of Grermany, and with the conviction that the 
clergy ought to make themselves masters of social and 
political science so as to be able to exercise a leading 
and eflFective influence over public opinion on questions 
of social amelioration. He has himself written much, 
though nothing of permanent value, on these subjects, 
and did not approach them with unwashed hands when 
he published his pamphlet in 1864. 

In this pamphlet, he says the labour question is one 
which it is his business, both as a Christian aiid as a 
bishop, to deal with : as a Christian, because Christ, as 
Saviour of the world, seeks not only to redeem men*s 
souls, but to heal their sorrows and soften their condi- 
tion ; and as a bishop, because the Chiu*ch had, according 
to her ancient custom, imposed upon him, as one of his 
consecration vows, that he would, " in the name of the 
Lord, be kind and merciful to the poor and the stranger, 
and to all that are in any kind of distress." He considers 
the labour question of the present day to be the very 
serious and plain question, how the great bulk of the 
working classes are to get the bread and clothing 
necessary to sustain them in life. Things have come to 
this pass in consequence of two important economical 
changes — which he incorrectly ascribes to the political 
revolution at the end of last century, merely because 
they have taken place mostly since that date — the spread 
of industrial freedom, and the ascendency of the large 
capitalists. In consequence of these changes the 


labourer is now treated as a commodity, and the rate of 
his wages settled by the same law that determines the 
price of every other commodity — the cost of its produc- 
tion ; and the employer is always able to press wages 
down to .the least figure which the labourer will take 
rather than starve. Ketteler accepts entirely Lassalle's 
teaching about " the iron and cruel law," and holds it to 
have been so conclusively proved in the course of the 
controversy that it is no longer possible to dispute it 
without a deliberate intention of deceiving the people. 
Now there is no doubt, that Ricardo*s law of value is 
neither so iron nor so cruel as Lassalle took it to be ; 
and that when Lassalle alleged that in consequence 
of this law 96 per cent, of the population of Germany 
had to support their fEunilies on less than ten shillings 
a week, and were therefore in a state of chronic 
starvation, he based his statement on a calculation 
of Dieterici's, which was purely conjectural, and 
which, besides, disregarded the fact that in working- 
class families there were usually more breadwinners 
than one. Ketteler, however, adopts this whole state- 
ment of the case implicitly, and says the social problem 
of our day is simply how to emancipate the labouring 
class from the operation of this economical law. " It is 
no longer possible to doubt that the whole material 
existence of almost the entire labouring population — i.e., 
of much the greatest piyi; of men in modem states, and 
of their &milies — that the daily question about the 
necessary bread for man, wife and children, is exposed to 
all the fluctuations of the market and of the price of 
oommodities. I know nothing more deplorable than 
this &ct What sensations must it cause in those poot 


men who, with all they hold dear, are day after day at 
the mercy of the accidents of market price ? That is 
the slave market of our Liberal Europe, feshioned after 
the model of our humanist, illuminist, anti-Christian 
Liberalism and freemasonry." The bishop never spares 
an opportunity of attacking *^ heathen humanist Liberal- 
ism," which he says has pushed the labouring man into 
the water, and now stands on the bank spinning fine 
theories about his freedom, but calmly seeing him drown. 
After this it might be expected that Ketteler would 
be all for abolishing industrial freedom, and for restoring 
a rigime of compulsory guilds and corporations ; but he 
is not. He acknowledges that the old system of guilds 
had its advantages ; it was a kind of assured under- 
standing between the workman and society, according 
to which the former adjusted lus work and the latter 
his wages. But it was the abuses of the compulsory 
powers of the guilds that led to industrial freedom ; and, 
on the other hand, industrial freedom has great 
countervailing advantages of its own which he scruples 
to give up. It has immensely increased production and 
cheapened commodities, and so enabled the lower 
classes to enjoy means of life and enjoyment they had 
not before. Nor does Ketteler approve of Lassalle's 
scheme of establishing productive associations of working 
men upon capital supplied by the State. Not that he 
objects to productive associations ; on the contrary, he 
declares them to be a glorious idea, and thinks them 
the true solution of the problem. But he objects to 
supplying their capital by the State, as involving a 
direct violation of the law of property. The Catholic 
Church, he says, has never maintained an absolute 


right of property. Her divines have unanimously 
taught that the right of property cannot avail against a 
neighbour who is in extreme need, because God alone 
is absolute proprietor, and no man is more than a 
limited vassal, holding under GU)d, and on the con- 
ditions which He imposes ; and one of these conditions 
is that any man in extremities is entitled to satisfy his 
necessity where and how he pleases.* In such a case, 
according to Catholic doctrine, it is not the man in 
distress that is the thief, but the proprietor who would 
gainsay and stop him. The distressed have a positive 
right to succour, and the State may therefore, without 
violating any of the rights of property, tax the parishes, 
or the proprietors, for the relief of the poor. But 
beyond this the State has no title to go. It may 
legitimately tax people for the purpose of saving 
working men from extremities, but not for the purpose 
of bettering their normal position. 

But where the civil authority ends the Christian 
authority comes in, and the rich have only escaped the 
obligation of compulsory l^al enactment, to find them- 

* The bishop draws this oonclosion froui the principle that God 
has directed alt men to natnre to obtain from it the satisfaction of 
their necessary wants, and that this original right of the needy 
cannot be superseded by the subsec^uent institution of private pro- 
perty. No clonbt, he admits, that institution is also of God. It is 
the appointed way by which man's dominion over nature is to be 
realised, because it is the way in which natnre is best utilised for 
the higher civilization of man. But this purpose is seoondaiy and 
subordinate to the other. And, therefore, concludes the bishop, 
*' firmly as theology upholds the right of private property, it asserts 
at the same time that the higher right by which all men are directed 
to nature's supplies dare not be infringed, and that, consequently, 
any one who nnds himself in extreme need is justified, when c^er 
means fail, in satisfying this extreme need where and how he may 
(wo und wie er es vermag)." — Die Arbeiter-frage und dot Chriiteu- 
thnm (p. 78), 


selves under the more far-reaching obligations of moral 
duty and Christian love. The Church declares that the 
man who does not give alms where he ought to give it 
stands in the same category as a thief ; and there is no 
limit to this obligation but his power of giving help, 
and his belief that it would be more hurtful to give than 
to keep it. Ketteler's plan, accordingly, is that the 
capital for the productive associations should be raised 
by voluntary subscriptions on the part of Christian 
people. He thinks he has made out a strong case for 
establishing this as a Christian obligation. He has 
shown that a perilous crisis prevails, that this crisis can 
only be removed by productive associations, that pro- 
ductive associations cannot be started without capital, 
and he says it is a vain dream of Huberts to think of 
getting the capital from the savings of working men 
themselves^ for most of the working men are in a 
distressed condition, and if a few are better oflF, their 
savings could only establish associations so few in 
number and so small in scale, as to be little better than 
trifling with the evil. He sees no remedy but making 
productive associations a scheme of the church, and 
appealing to that Christian philanthropy and sense of 
duty which had already done great service of a like 
nature — as, for example, in producing capital to emanci- 
pate slaves in Italy and elsewhere. 

This remarkable proposal of the bishop seems to have 
fallen dead. Though he wrote and laboured much in 
connection with the labour question afterwards, he never 
reverted to it again; and when a Christian Socialist 
party was formed, under his countenance, they adopted 
a programme which made large demands not only on 


the intervention but on the pecuniary help of the State. 
It was not till 1868 that any steps were taken towards 
the actual organization of such a party. In June of 
that year three Catholic clubs met together at Crefeld, 
and after discussing the social question agreed to publish 
a journal (the Christliche Sociale Blatter) to promote 
their views. In September of the following year the 
whole subject of the relations of the Church to the 
labour question was discussed at a conference of the 
Catholic bishops of Germany, held at Fulda, and 
attended by Ketteler among others. This conference 
strongly recommended the clergy to make themselves 
thoroughly acquainted with that and other economical 
questions, to interest themselves generally in the con- 
dition of the working class they moved among, and even 
to travel in foreign countries to see the state of the 
labourers there and the effects of the institutions 
established for their amelioration. The conference also 
approved of the formation of Catholic Labourers' 
Associations, for the promotion of the general elevation 
of their own class, but held that the church had no call, 
directly or officially, to take the initiative in founding 
them. This duty was undertaken, however, later in the 
same month, by a general meeting of the Catholic Clubs 
of Germany, which appointed a special conmiittee, 
including Professor Schulte and Baron Schorlemer-Abst, 
for the express purpose of founding and organizing 
Christian social clubs, which should strive for the 
economical and moral amelioration of the labouring 
classes. This committee set itself immediately to work, 
and the result was the Christian Social Associations, or, 
as they are sometimes called from their patron saint, the 


St Joseph Associations. They were composed of, and 
managed by, working men, though they liked to have 
some man of eminence — never a clergyman — at the 
head of them, and though they allowed persons of 
property, clergymen, and especially employers of labour, 
to be honorary members. They met every Sunday 
evening to discuss social questions, and politics were 
excluded, except questions affecting the church, and on 
these a decided partisanship was encouraged. 

The principles of this party — or what may be called 
their programme — is explained in a speech delivered by 
Canon Mou&ng to his constituents in Mayence, in 
February, 1871, and published with warm approbation, 
in the Christliche Sociale Blatter in March. Christoph 
Mou&ng is, like Ketteler, a leader of the German 
Clerical party, and entitled to the highest esteem for his 
character, his intellectual parts, and hm public career. 
Bom in 1817, he was first destined for the medical 
profession, and studied physic at Bonn ; but he 
soon abandoned this intention, and betook himself to 
theology. After studying at Bonn and Munich, he was 
ordained priest in 1839. He was appointed in 1851 
professor of moral and pastoral theology in the new 
theological seminary which Bishop Ketteler had founded 
at Mayence, and in 1854 was made canon of the 
cathedral. Mou&ng entered the First Hessian Chamber 
in 1862 as representative of the bishop, and made a 
name as a powerful champion of High Church views 
and of the general ecclesiastical policy of Bishop 
Ketteler. In 1868 he was chosen one of the committee 
to make preparations for the Vatican Council ; but at 
the Council he belonged to the opponents of the dogma 


of inlkllibility, and left Rome before the dogma was 
promulgated. He submitted afterwards, however, and 
worked sedulously in its sense. Moufang sat in the 
Imperial Diet from 1871 to 1877, was a leading member 
of the Centre, and stoutly resisted the Falk legislation. 
He is joint -editor of the Katholiky and is author of 
various polemical writings, and of a work on the history 
of the Jesuits in Germany. 

Moufang takes a different view of the present duty of 
the Church in relation to the social question from that 
which we saw to have been taken by Ketteler. He 
asks for no pecuniary help from the Church, nor for any 
special and novel kind of activity whatever. The 
problem, indeed, cannot be effectively and permanently 
solved without her co-operation, but then the whole 
service she is able and required to render is contained 
ill the course of her ordinary ministrations in diffusing a 
spirit of love and justice and fairness among the various 
classes of society, in maintaining her charities for the 
poor and helpless, in dispensing comfort in distress, and 
in offering to the weary the hope of a future life. 
Moufang makes much more demand on the State than 
on the Church, in this also disagreeing with Bishop 
Ketteler*8 pamphlet. He says the State can and must 
help the poorer classes in four different ways : — 

Ist. By giving legislative protection. Just as the 
landlord and the money-lender are legally protected in 
their rights by the State, so the labourer ought to be 
legally protected in his property, which are his powers 
and time of labour. The State ought to give him legal 
security against being robbed of these, his only property, 
by the operation of free competition. With this view, 


Moufang demands the legalization of working men's 
associations of various kinds, the prohibition of Sunday 
labour, the legal fixing of a normal day of labour, legal 
restriction of labour of women and children, legal 
provision against unwholesome workshops, appointment 
of factory inspectors, and direct legal fixing of the rate 
of wages. The last point is an important peculiarity in 
the position of the Catholic Socialists. Mou&ng con- 
tends that competition is a sound enough principle for 
regulating the price of commodities, but that it is a very 
unsound one, and a very unsafe one, for determining 
the price of labour, because he holds that labour is not 
a commodity. Labour is a man's powers of life ; it is 
the man himself, and the law must see to its protection. 
The law protects the capitalist in his right to his 
interest, and surely the labouring man's powers of life 
are entitled to the same consideration. If an employer 
says to a capitalist from whom he has borrowed money : 
" A crisb has come, a depression in trade, and I am no 
longer able to pay such high interest ; I will pay you 
two-thirds or one-third of the previous rate," what does 
the capitalist say ? He refuses to take it, and why ? 
Simply because he knows that the law will sustain him 
in his claim. But if the employer says to his labourer ; 
" A depression of trade has come, and I cannot afford 
you more than two-thirds or one-third of your present 
wages," what can the labourer do? He has no 
alternative. He must take the wages offered him or go, 
and to go means to starve. Why should not the law 
stand at the labourer's back, as it does at the capitalist's, 
in enforcing what is right and just ? There is no more 
infraction of freedom in the one case than in the other. 


Moufang's argument here is based on an illusive 
analogy ; for in the contract for the use of capital the 
employer agrees to pay a fixed rate of interest so long as 
he retains the principal, and he can only avail himself 
of subsequent falls in the money market by returning 
the principal and opening a fresh contract ; whereas in 
the contract for the use of labour the employer engages 
by the week or the day, returning the principal, as it 
were at the end of that term, and making a new 
arrangement The point to be noted, however, is that 
Moufangs object, like Ketteler's, is to deliver work- 
ing men from their hand-to-mouth dependence on the 
current fluctuations of the market ; that he thinks 
there is something not merely pernicious but radically 
unjust in their treatment under the present system ; and 
that he calls upon the State to institute some regular 
machinery — a board with compulsory powers, and 
composed of labourers and magistrates — for fixing 
eveiywhere and in every trade a fair day's wages for a 
fair day's work. 

2nd. The State ought to give pecuniary help. It 
advances money on easy terms to railway schemes ; why 
should it not offer working men cheap loans for sound 
co-operative enterprises ? Of course it ought to make 
a keen preliminary examination of the projects proposed, 
and keep a sharp look-out against swindling or ill- 
considered schemes ; but if the project is sound and 
likely, it should be ready to lend the requisite capital at 
a low interest. This proposal of starting productive 
associations on State credit is an important divergence 
from Ketteler, who, in his pamphlet, condemns it as a 
violation of the rights of property. 


3rd. The State ought to reduce the taxes and military 
biurdens of the labouring classes. 

4th. The State ought to fetter the domination of the 
money power, and especially to check excesses of 
speculation, and control the operations of the Stock 

From this programme it appears that the Catholic 
movement goes a long way with the socialists in their 
cries of wrong, but only a short way in their plans of 
redress. Moufang*8 proposals may be wise or unwise, 
but they contemplate only corrections of the present 
industrial system, and not its reconstruction. Many 
Liberals are disposed to favour the idea of establishing 
courts of conciliation with compulsory powers, and Bis- 
marck himself once said, before the socialists showed 
themselves unpatriotic at the time of the French war, 
that he saw no reason why the State, which gave large 
sums for agricultural experiments, should not spend 
something in giving co-operative production a feir trial. 
The plans of labour courts and of State credit to ap- 
proved co-operative undertakings are for from the soci- 
alist schemes of the abolition of private property in the 
instruments of production, and the systematic regulation 
of all industry by the State ; and they aflFord no fair 
ground for the fear, which many persons of ability enter- 
tain, of " an alliance " — to use Bismarck's phrase — " be- 
tween the black International and the red." Bishop 
Martensen holds Catholicism to be essentially socialistic, 
because it suppresses all individual rights and freedom 
in the intellectual sphere, as socialism does in the eco- 
nomical. But men may detest private judgment without 
taking the least offence at private property. A bigot 



need not be a socialist, any more than a socialist a bigot, 
though each stifles the principle of individuality in one 
department of things. If there is to be any alliance 
between the Church and socialism, it will be not because 
the former has been trained, under an iron organization, 
to cherish a horror of individuality and a passion for an 
economical organization as rigid as its own ecclesiastical 
one, but it will be because the Church happens to have 
a distinct political interest at the time in cultivating 
good relations with a new political force. How fer 
Moufang and his associates have been influenced by this 
kind of consideration we cannot pretend to judge, but 
the sympathy they show is not so much with the 
socialists as with the labouring classes generally, and 
their movement is meant so far to take the wind from 
socialism, whether with the mere view of filling their 
own sails with it or no. 

No voice was raised in the Protestant Churches on 
the social question till 1878. They suficr from their 
absolute dependence on the State, and have become 
churches of doctors and professors, without effective 
practical interest or initiative, and without that strong 
popular sympathy of a certain kind which almost neces- 
sarily pervades the atmosphere of a Church like the 
Catholic, which pits itself against States, and knows 
that its power of doing so rests, in the last analysis, on 
its hold over the hearts of the people. The Home 
Missionary Society indeed discussed the question from 
time to time, but chiefly in connection with the effects 
of the socialist propaganda on the religious condition of 
the country ; and it was this aspect of the subject that 
eventually stirred a section of the orthodox Evangelical 


clergy to take practical action. They asked themselves 
how it was that the working classes were so lai^ly 
adopting the desolate atheistic opinions which were 
found associated with the socialist movement^ when the 
Church offered to gather them under her wing, and 
brighten their life with the comforts and encouragements 
of Christian faith and hope. They felt strongly that 
they must take more interest in the temporal welfare of 
the working classes than they had hitherto done, and 
must apply the ethical and social principles of Chris- 
tianity to the solution of economical problems and the 
promotion of social reform. In short, they sought to 
present Christianity as the labourer's friend. The leaders 
of this movement were men of much inferior calibre to 
those of the corresponding Catholic movement The 
principal of them were Rudolph Todt, a pastor at 
Barentheim in Old Preignitz, who published in 1878 a 
book on ^'Radical German Socialism and Christian 
Society," which created considerable sensation ; and 
Stocker, one of the Court preachers at Berlin, a member 
of the Prussian Diet, and an ardent promoter of 
reactionary policy in various directions. He is a warm 
advocate of denominational education, and of extending 
the power of the Crown, of the State, and of the landed 
class; and he was a prime mover in the Jew-baiting 
movement which excited (Jermany a few years ago. 
This antipathy to the Jews has been for many 
years a cardinal tendency of the " Agrarians," a small 
political group mainly of nobles and great landed pro- 
prietors, with whom Stocker frequently allies himself, 
and who profess to treat all political questions from a 
strictly Christian standpoint, but work almost exclu- 


sively to assert the interests of the landowners against 
the growing ascendency of the commercial and financial 
classes, among whom Jews occupy an eminent place. 
We mention this anti-Jewish agitation here to point out 
that, while no doubt fed by other passions also, one of 
its chief ingredients is that same antagonism to the 
bourgeoisie— compounded of envy of their success, con- 
tempt for their money-seeking spirit, and anger at their 
supposed expropriation of the rest of society — which 
animates all forms of continental socialism, and has 
already proved a very dangerous political force in the 
French Revolution of 1848. 

Todt*s work is designed to set forth the social prin- 
ciples and mission of Christianity on the basis of a 
critical investigation of the New Testament, which he 
believes to be an authoritative guide on economical as 
well as moral and dogmatic questions. He says that to 
solve the social problem, we must take political economy 
in the one hand, the scientific literature of socialism in 
the other, and keep the New Testament before us. As 
the result of his examination, he condemns the existing 
industrial regime as being decidedly unchristian, and 
declares the general principles of socialism, and even its 
main concrete proposals, to be directly prescribed and 
countenanced by Holy Writ Like all who assume the 
name of socialist, he cherishes a marked repugnance to 
the economical doctrines of modem Liberalism, the 
leaven of the bourgeoisie; and much of his work is 
devoted to show the inner affinity of Christianity and 
socialism, and the inner antagonism between Christi- 
anity and Manchesterdom. He goes so fur as to say 
that every active Christian who makes conscience of his 


faith has a socialistic vein in him, and that ever; 
socialist, however hostile he may be to the Christian 
religion, has an unconscious Christianity in his heart ; 
whereas, on the other hand, the merely nominal Chris- 
tian, who has never really got out of his natural state, 
is always a spiritual Manchestrist, worshipping laissez 
/aire, laissez aller, with his whole soul, and that a 
Manchestrist is never in reality a true and sound Chris- 
tian, however much he may usurp the name. Christianity 
and socialism are engaged in a common work, trying to 
make the reality of things correspond better with an 
ideal state ; and in doing their work they rely on the 
same ethical principle, the love of our neighbour, and 
they repudiate the Manchester idolatry of self-interest 
The socialist ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity 
are part and parcel of the Christian system ; and the 
socialist ideas of solidarity of interests, of co-operative 
production, and of democracy have all a direct biblical 
foundation, in the constitution and customs of the 
Church, and in the apostoUc teaching regarding it. 

Radical socialism, according to Todt, consists of three 
elements : first, in economics, communism ; second, in 
politics, republicanism ; third, in religion, atheism. 
Under the last head, of course, there is no analogy, but 
direct contradiction, between socialism and Christianity ; 
but Todt deplores the atheism that prevails among the 
socialists as not merely an error, but a fetal inconsist- 
ency. If socialism would but base its demands on the 
Gospel, he says, it would be resistless, and all labourers 
would flow to it ; but atheistic socialism can never fulfil 
its own promises, and issues a draft which Christianity 
alone has the power to meet It is hopeless to think of 


founding an enduring democratic State on the principles 
of liberty, equality, and fraternity, unless these principles 
are always sustained and reinvigorated by the Divine 
fraternal love that flows from faith in Jesus Christ. 

As to the second principle of socialism, Todt says, 
that while Holy Scripture contains no direct prescription 
on the point, it may be inferentially established that a 
republic is the form of government that is most har- 
monious with the Christian ideal His deduction of 
this is peculiar. The Divine government of the world, 
he owns, is monarchical, but then it is a government 
which cannot be copied by sinfrd men, and therefore 
cannot have been meant as a pattern for them. But 
(Jod, he says, has established His Church on earth as a 
visible type of His own invisible providential govern- 
ment, and the Church is a '^ republic under an eternal 
President, sitting by free choice of the people, Jesus 
Christ." This is both fancifril and felse, for Christ b an 
absolute ruler, and no mere minister of the popular will ; 
and there is not the remotest ground for founding a 
system of Biblical politics on the constitution of the 
Church. But it shows the length Todt is disposed to 
go to conciliate the favour of the socialists. 

But the most important element of socialism is its 
third or economical principle — conununism ; and this he 
represents to be entirely in harmony with the econo- 
mical ideal of the New Testament. He describes the 
communistic idea as consisting of two parts : first, the 
general principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity, 
which he finds directly involved in the scriptural doc- 
trines of moral responsibility, of men's common origin 
and redemption, and of the law of love ; and second 


the transformation of all private property in the instru- 
ments of production into common property, which in- 
cludes three points : (a) the abolition of the present 
wages system ; (b) giving the labourer the fiill product 
of his labour ; and (c) associated labour. As to the 
first two of these points, Todt pronounces the present 
wages system to be thoroughly unjust, because it robs 
the labourer of the full product of his labour ; and 
because unjust, it is unchristian. He accepts the ordi- 
nary socialist teaching about " the iron and cruel law." 
He accepts, too, Marx's theory of value, and declares it 
to be unanswerable ; and he therefore finds no difficulty 
in saying that Christianity condemns a system which in 
his opinion grinds the faces of the labouring classes with 
incessant toil, filches from them the just reward of their 
work, and leaves them to hover hopelessly on the margin 
of destitution. If there is any scheme that promises 
effectually to cure this condition of things, Christianity 
will also]J[approve of that scheme ; and such a scheme 
he discovers in the socialist proposal of collective pro- 
perty and associated labour. This proposal, however, 
derives direct^countenance, he maintains, from the New 
Testament It is supported by the texts which describe 
the Church as an organism under the figure of a body 
with many members, by the example of the common bag 
of the twelve, and by the communism of the primitive 
church of Jerusalem. But the texts about the Church as 
an organism have no real bearing on the subject at all ; for 
the Church is not meant to be an authoritative pattern 
either for political or for economical organization ; and 
besides, the figure of the body and its members would 
apply better to Bastiat's theory of the natural harmony 


of interests than to the socialist idea of the solidarity of 
interests. Then the common bag of the disciples did 
not prevent them from having boats and other instru- 
ments of production of their own individual property ; 
and we know that the communism of the primitive 
church of Jerusalem (which was a decided economical 
failure, for the poverty of that church had to be repeat- 
edly relieved by collections in other parts of Christendom) 
was not a conmiunity of property, but, what is a higher 
thing, a community of use, and that it was not com- 
pulsory but spontaneous. 

Todt, however, after seeming thus to commit himself 
and Christianity without reserve to socialism, suddenly 
shrinks from his own boldness, and draws bacL 
Collective property may be countenanced by Scripture, 
but he finds private property to be as much or even 
more so ; and he cannot on any consideration consent 
to the abolition of private property by force. It was 
right enough to abolish slavery by force, for slavery is 
an unchristian institution. But though private property 
is certainly founded on selfishness, there are so many 
examples of it presented before us in the New 
Testament without condenmation, that Todt shrinks 
from pronouncing it to be an unchristian institution. 
Collective property may be better, but private property 
will never disappear till selfishness is swallowed up of 
love ; and a triumph of socialism at present, while its 
disciples are unbelievers and have not Christ, the fount 
of love, in their hearts, would involve society in much 
more serious evils than those which it seeks to remove. 
Todt's socialism, therefore, is not a thing of the present, 
but an ideal of the distant friture, to be realized after 


Christian proprietors have come of their own accord to 
give up their estates, and socialists have all been 
converted to Christianity. For the present, in spite of 
his stem view of the great wrong and injustice the 
working classes suffer, Todt has no remedy to suggest, 
except that things would be better if proprietors learnt 
more to r^ard their wealth as a trust of which they 
were only stewards, and if employers treated their work- 
men with the personal consideration due to Christian 
brothers ; and he thinks the cultivation of this spirit ought 
to be more expressly aimed at in the work of the Church, 
This is probably, after all, the sum of what Christianity 
has to say on the subject ; but it s^ms a poor result 
of so much figuring and flourishing, to end in a general 
truth which can give no offence even in Manchester. 

Soon after the publication of Todt's book, Stocker 
and some Evangelical friends founded two associations, 
for the purpose of dealing with the social question from 
a Christian point of view, and established a newspaper, 
the StcuitS'Socialist, to advocate their opinions. Of 
the two associations, one, the Central Union for Social 
Reform, was composed of persons belonging to the 
educated classes — professors, manufacturers, landowners, 
and clergymen ; and the other, the Christian Social 
Working Men's Party, consisted of working men alone. 
This movement was received on all sides with un^ 
qualified disapprobation. The press. Liberal and 
Conservative alike, spoke with contemptuous dislike of 
this Mvcker-SocialisMuSy and said they preferred the 
socialists in blouse to the socialists in surplice. The 
Social Democrats rose against it with virulence, and 
held meetings, both of men and of women, at which 


they glorified atheism and bitterly attacked the clergy 
and religion. Even the higher dignitaries of the 
Church held coldly aloof or were even openly hostile. 
Stocker met all this opposition with unflinching spirit, 
convened public meetings in Berlin to promote his 
cause, and confronted the socialist leaders on the plat- 
form. The movement gave promise of fedr success. In 
a few months seven hundred pastors, besides many from 
other professions, including Dr Koegel, Court preacher, 
and Dr Buchsel, a German Superintendent, had enrolled 
themselves in the Central Union for Social Reform ; and 
the Christian Social Working Men's Party had seven- 
teen hundred members in Berlin, and a considerable 
number throughout the provinces. But its progress 
was interrupted by the Anti-Socialist Bill, passed soon 
afi;er in the same year, which put an end to meetings of 
socialists ; and since this measure was supported, though 
hesitatingly, by Stocker and his leading aUies, it has pro- 
bably impaired their influence with the labouring classes. 
The principles of this party, as stated in their 
programme, may be said generally to be that a decided 
social question exists, in the increasing gulf between 
rich and poor, and the increasing want of economical 
security in the labourer's life ; that this question cannot 
possibly be solved by social democracy, because social 
democracy is unpractical, unchristian, and unpatriotic ; 
and that it can only be solved by means of an extensive 
intervention on the part of a strong and monarchical 
State, aided by the religious factors in the national life. 
The State ought to provide by statute a regular 
organization of the working classes according to their 
trades, authorizing the trades' unions to represent the 


labourers as against their employers, rendering these 
unions I^ally liable for the contracts entered into by their 
members, assuming a control of their fimds, regulating 
the apprentice system, creating compulsory insurance 
Amds, etc. Then it ought to protect the labourers by 
prohibiting Sunday labour, by fixing a normal day of 
labour, and by insisting on the sound sanitary condition 
of workshops. Further, it ought to manage the State 
and communal property in a spirit fEivourable to the 
working class, and to introduce high luxury taxes, a pro- 
gressive income-tax, and a progressive legacy duty, both 
according to extent of bequest and distance of relation- 
ship. These very comprehensive reforms are, however, 
held to be inadequate without the spread of a Christian 
spirit of mutual consideration into the relations of 
master and workman, and of Christian fEiith, hope, and 
love into fianily life. Moreover, they are not to be 
expected from a parliamentary government in which the 
commercial classes have excessive influence, and hence 
the Christian Socialists lay great stress on the monarchi- 
cal element, and would give the monarch absolute 
power to introduce social reforms without parliamentary 
co-operation and even in face of parliamentary opposition. 
We have seen that Todt was disposed to fevour a 
republican form of government, but probably, like the 
Czar Nicholas, he has no positive objection to any 
other save the constitutional. His party has certainly 
adopted a very Radical social programme, but it is above 
all a Conservative group, seeking to resist the revolu- 
tionary and materialistic tendencies of socialism, and to 
rally the great German working class once more round 
the standard of Gk>d, King, and Fatherland. 



Haxthausen, writing in 1847, said that Russia had 
nothing to fear from the revolutionary tendencies which 
then threatened the other states of Europe, because its 
own " healthy internal organization'' — by which he meant 
its communal land system — saved it from pauperism, 
and consequently protected it from the very possibility 
of entertaining socialistic doctrines. These doctrines 
had, in the west, been bred among the proletariate, the 
large class of society who had no property, no stable 
source of income, no steady employment, and no sure 
hope for the morrow; and there was no class of this kind 
in Russia. From the communistic system of land tenure 
instituted in that country, every man had a right to his 
bit of ground, and possessed accordingly a certain 
guarantee against want ; and it was, therefore, very 
natural to infer, as Haxthausen did, that since the 
proletariate condition of life had absolutely no existence 
in Russia, the political principles to which it gave birth 
could not possibly come into being there either. But 
at the very time he wrote, the revolutionary spirit had 
already begun to move on the face of the waters of 
Russian society, and the doctrines of communism and 


aocialism had drawn a positive stimulus from that very 
" healthy internal organization," which he believed to be 
an impr^nable bulwark against them. The first 
b^nnings of the present revolutionary movement may 
be traced back to a remarkable group of young men of 
culture and social position in the city of Moscow, who, 
at the period when Haxthausen was exploring so 
successfully the institutions of Russia, were passing 
days and nights in high debate on history and politics 
and philosophy, mourning together over the past 
development of their country, and, imder the influence 
of the romanticist writers and the Hegelian philosophy, 
dreaming dreams of a better destiny for her in the 

Up till that time the Russians had been, as Caadeff 
said, a people without a people's history. The country 
had increased enormously in geographical extent ; it had 
developed immense military strength ; it had completed 
the centralisation of its administrative system ; and it 
had at length gained what was the crowning object of 
its ambition since the days of Peter the Great, a 
rec<^ized place among the powers of Europe ; but all 
this was a progress of the State alone, which brought 
with it no corresponding progress of the nation. The 
people were still exactly what they were centuries 
before the Romanoffs ascended the throne. Peter had, 
it is true, sought to leaven his people to some extent 
with the ideas and results of western civilization, but 
his reforms were dominated more by the desire to catch 
the eye of Europe than to benefit the population of 
Russia ; and the impulse which he communicated con- 
tracted itself after his day more and more into this 


narrow groove, producing a state of society which was 
most unwholesome and mischievous. Under Catherine 
the one consideration that settled the &te of any 
measure was the question, what would be thought of it 
in Europe? and though she established great schools 
here and there in her dominions, which excited the 
admiration of foreign travellers, she frankly owned that 
she had no wish to see such institutions becoming more 
general. " My dear prince," said Iler Majesty to one of 
her favourites, " do not complain that the Russians have 
no desire for instruction, for if 1 found schools, it is for 
Europe, where it is necessary to retain our rank in 
public opinion ; but if the day came when the peasants 
would be educated, neither you nor I should be able to 
retain our places." 

She sought to gain the importance of a European 
power without parting with the authority of an Asiatic 
despot, and to effect this double purpose two things 
were necessary. On the one hand, the court and the 
classes that moved about the throne must be refined 
with the culture of the western nations, whose recog- 
nition was courted ; on the other hand, the mass of the 
people must be left in the contented and loyal ignorance 
that raised no embarrassing questions. The result of 
this policy was a spectacle sad and ridiculous in the 
extreme. The upper classes, with Russian quickness, 
answered only too readily to the fashion prescribed by the 
court They cast aside their native costumes and put on 
the plain prosaic dress of the Franks ; they shaved off 
their Russian beards and trinmied their whiskers like the 
English ; they abjured even their mother tongue and 
spoke in French. Half a century ago the Privy Council 


» ^ , 


of Russia conducted its proceedings in French ; many of 
the noblesse knew no more of Russian than a Highland 
laird may do of G^lic, and the whole educated part of 
the conmiunity was filled with a servile spirit of 
imitation of western manners and culture. It was a 
proverb that if it rained in Paris they put up their 
umbrellas in St Petersburg, for their eyes were always 
in the west They patched themselves with any purple 
rag of European civilisation that struck their fuicy, and 
then strutted haughtily in this borrowed and often 
very inappropriate glory like negroes of the Congo in 
boots and jackets, treating their own countrymen as an 
inferior race. In their ambition to be European they 
had, in ftict, ceased to be Russian in interest or heart 
Russia had become two nations, foreign to one another 
in language, in manners, in sentiment But this century 
of intellectual servitude was not an unmixed evil, and 
history will find a justification of it in consequences 
which were not designed to proceed from it but could 
not so well have come from anything else. It was a 
'prentice period, in which Russia got her intellectual 
start It may be grotesque to swim on bladders, but 
it often helps the swimmer to strike out for himself; and 
the Russian zeal for western culture, though poor in its 
motives and perverse in its direction, did, at aU events, 
bring the educated mind of the country fairly into 
contact with European ideas, and these European ideas 
did serve to some extent to fertilize Russian life. It is 
impossible to learn the language of foreigners without 
being more or less touched by their thought, and feeling 
the impact of their intellectual freedom. 

Now fifty years ago educated Russia gave signs that 


this lesson had been learnt, that its juvenile period of 
imitation was drawing to a close, and that it was about 
to assume a more independent position. A native 
literature began to arise, a new interest was taken in 
Russian history and institutions, and the younger genera- 
tion was stirred by a strong reaction against the skin- 
deep Ihiropeanizing tendency of the previous age. This 
tendency had never wanted its bitter opponents in 
Russia, but it had not till now been opposed by men 
who had themselves come under its influence. It had 
been condemned by conservative landowners and " old 
believers," who thought the world would go wrong if 
the year were reckoned from the first of January instead 
of the first of September, and who counted shaving the 
latest subtlety of Satan. But now it was men who had 
themselves bowed the knee to European culture that 
stood up against the false and slavish idolatry it had 
become fashionable to pay it They had merely drunk 
deeper of the Pierian spring. Their fathers had dealt 
with the wisdom of the West like barbarians who were 
not used to it ; the new generation dealt with it like 
men who had been civilized by it They not merely 
wore its garb, but they imbibed some of its spirit, they 
assimilated some of its forces and principles, they 
caught some of its ruling ideas ; and among others, the 
principle of giving free play to the nature of things, 
which then enjoyed great authority through the roman- 
ticist writers ; the principle of nationality which has since 
changed half the face of Europe ; and the principle of 
historical evolution which was then rising into ascend- 
ancy through the influence of HegeL 

The coterie of young men in Moscow, already men- 


tioned, felt the full force of these influences. Hegel, in 
particular, was to them as their Bible. Alexander 
Herzen tells us in his interesting autobiographic 
sketches how closely they studied everything that came 
from his pen, how they devoted nights and weeks to 
clearing up the meaning of individual passages in his 
works, and how greedily they devoured every new 
pamphlet which issued from the German press upon any 
part of his system. And as with the Bible, so with 
Hegel. They claimed his authority for the most opposite 
views, which had in many cases grown in their minds 
under other influences than his, but which they were 
eager to shelter under one of his general formulce. Their 
differences grew more defined as they continued their 
disputations, and especially when they descended from 
the icy and uninhabited zone of the problems of know- 
ing and being, and began to discuss the merits of 
Catholicism, orthodoxy, and free thought, of autocracy 
and republicanism, of competition and socialism, of 
Russian and western civilization, they fairly parted into 
two, or rather three, separate camps, which may be said 
to be the parents of the three chief political parties in 
the Russia of the present day ; the Liberals or Westlings, 
the Revolutionists and the Slavophils. The Liberals 
indeed existed before. They were general admirers of 
the institutions of the western nations, and strove to 
conform those of Russia to them as much as possible. 
The Revolutionists and Slavophils, however, may be 
said to have taken their first origin in that cultivated 
circle. Alexander Herzen and Michael Bakunin were 
the leading minds on the one side, and the two brothers 
Kirieffsky, Chomyakoff*, the two Aksakofis, Sumarin and 



Kosheleif were the leaders of the other. The two 
parties had hardly a single positive opinion in common, 
but they were knit together by certain inarticulate 
fundamental sympathies to such an extent that Herzen 
speaks of the Slavophils as nos amis les ennemis ou 
plutdt nos ennemis les amis. Their sympathies lay in 
their common attitude to the time. Both were con- 
fident that a new departure was at hand for Russia, and 
especially for the Russian people, and both were there- 
fore penetrated with a certain popular and democratic 
interest not then usual in Russia, although each would 
realise it in its own way. The position of a political 
party can never be perfectly understood until we under- 
stand also the position of its opponents and allies ; and 
we may naturally expect to be better able to comprehend 
the nature of the present revolutionary movement if we 
consider it in the light reflected upon it by the partly 
collateral, partly antagonistic principles of the Slavo- 

The Slavophil is a mixture of the philosopher and 
the Jingo, intensely patriotic with an honest instinctive 
patriotism, which, in a just recoil from the shallow and 
servile Europeanizing tendencies of Russian society in 
the previous generation, has run to the contrary extreme, 
and idolizes Russian institutions because they are 
Russian, exactly as people had before for the same 
reason despised them. The Slavophil, however, is 
nationalist, because he is first philosophical, and he 
floatshis nationalism on general conceptions and principles 
drawn from economical science and the philosophy of 
history. The principle of nationality is the basis both 
of the foreign and of the internal policy he advocates. 


Community of creed and language is taken at once to 
prescribe the true limits of states, and to furnish the 
true channels for the development of peoples. Their new 
Panslavist enthusiasm, however, is very much old 
national ambition writ larger, for the Slavophils are far 
from thinking that Russia ought to release her hold of 
the Baltic provinces because they are German, or of the 
Swedish provinces because they are Swedish, but they 
strongly insist that, being the chief Slavonic and 
Orthodox power, she should gather under her wing every 
tribe and femily who at once speak a Slavonic dialect 
and adhere to the Greek rite, or for that matter, do 
the one without the other. Their nationalism, however, 
is of more concern to us here in its application to 
domestic politics. They hold that a nation must move 
all together if it is to move at aU, and that it cannot 
move all together, except in and through those common 
national forces and institutions which have made it what 
it is. If, accordingly, Russia is to have a future, it can 
only be by developing instead of superseding those 
social, economical, and ecclesiastical forms and peculiar- 
ities which have been the bone and muscle of its life 
for centuries. Russian civilisation is not merely 
European civilisation in a less perfect stage, but is 
something quite diJOTerent in essence, and made up of 
different constituents, and it ought, therefore, to be left 
to work out its own evolution in its own way. Hence 
the extreme impatience with which they regard the un- 
RuBsian policy introduced by Peter the Great They look 
upon it as a violent interruption of the normal develop-: 
ment of the national life, and a diversion of Russia 
from her true mission ; and they would, if they could, 


blot out the last century and a half of Russian internal 
history, and restore every dot and stroke of the old 
Muscovite palimpsest. Their nationalism goes so far 
as often to carry them entirely out of sympathy with the 
living nation of the present, and Herzen tells us that 
Ivan Aksakoff went about Moscow in a dress so national 
that people in the street took him for a Persian. 

Their great aim is to eflFect a return to the primitive 
purity of Russian life, before the breath of the west 
blew on it and blighted it It is folly, they say, to 
think of salvation coming irom modem European 
culture, for modem European culture cannot save itself. 
It is exhausted, sick unto death, and would certainly 
perish, if the ancient veins of Russian civilisation were 
not timeously opened to restore it Instead of religion, 
westem Europe possesses now nothing but an anarchy 
of sects, and instead of social harmony, an anarchy of 
competition. Infidelity and a war of classes are 
loosening the whole fabric and preparing its downfall. 
But the Slavophils of Moscow have discovered in Russia 
the very principles it needs. The first, and in their 
sight the most important, of these, is a theological 
principle which would build society once again on fiedth. 
It is the undivided eastem orthodoxy, to which Slavonic 
nations still loyally submit their reason as to the one 
creed of divine authority. The second is an economical 
principle, and it would knit society together again in 
mutual love and mutual deference. It is to be found 
in the Russian rural commune, which the Slavophils 
praise beyond all bounds as being free from the selfish- 
ness and class antagonism of the economical system of 
the west ; as exemplifying the humility of the Russian 


character just as the European system exemplifies the 
pride of the European character ; and as effecting a 
perfect reconciliation between love on the one hand, and 
freedom on the other. It behoves Russia, consequently, 
to give up her servile dependence on the western nations, 
for she is destined to invigorate their decrepitude by 
oonununioating to them a *^ new formula of civilization." 
While unimaginative Sir Archibald Alison was teaching 
the world that there was no function Russia was 
capable of except to be, like the Huns and Gk>ths of old, 
" the scourge of vicious civilizations," the Slavophils were 
cherishing mightier dreams, and thought that so far from 
being the scourge of vicious civilization, Russia was to 
be its redeemer. 

Now in all this there is much that is extravagant, 
much that is erroneous, much that is, to say the least, 
somewhat inconsistent with the humility it claims for 
the Russian character. The economical value of the 
Russian commimal land system is a subject upon which 
opinion is much divided even in Russia ; and as for the 
Eastern orthodoxy, a faith which is to be founded on a 
renunciation of the exercise of private judgment, is 
certainly not worth possessing, and cannot contribute 
either to manly character or national progress. But 
underneath all these contentions of the Slavophils there 
is one idea which it is their lasting merit to have kept 
before the minds of their countrymen. That is the idea 
that the people is more than the State, that it has a 
unity, a continuous life, and a worth all its own, and 
that no development is really progress which does not 
carry the people with it, and grow naturally out of 
existing conditions of their historical life. The very 


extravagance of their views has contributed to awaken 
a deeper historical national consciousness in the Russian 
mind, and to make men feel that Russia is not the court 
nor the governing classes, but that what makes Russia 
Russia is its people, with their simple &ith, their heredi- 
tary character, and their ancient institutions. The agita- 
tion of the Slavophils accordingly helped powerfully to 
swell that tide in the course of things which has within 
the present century made the common people of Russia 
an object of political interest, and to a certain extent 
a repository of political influence. A nationalist party 
is always conservative and reactionary, but the con- 
servatism of the Slavophils chimed in very closely with 
the radicalism of the Revolutionists. Their teaching had 
a strongly democratic tendency. Their great cry was 
the necessity of going to the people, as they phrased it 
The genius, the instincts, the institutions of the people 
were to be the guide and inspiration of future political 
development. They sought to return to the time before 
Peter, but then the time before Peter was more demo- 
cratic in its organization than the present, and they 
wished strongly to revive the power of the church, and 
the old semstvos or deliberative assemblies of landr 
owners. Many of them entertained the idea of a great 
representative assembly for the whole nation as being 
the only means by which the genuine culture of the 
Slavonic race could make itself felt on the government 
of the country. Then they are almost socialist in their 
admiration for the rural commune, and, like the socialists, 
they preach it as a universal panacea. Their nationalist 
pride took delight in the prospect opened by the remark 
of Cavour that the nations of the West had less to fear 


from the great armies of Russia than from her com- 
munal land system. Imperialist and Orthodox as they 
were, they had thus considerable affinity with the 
cosmopolitan and proselytising communism of the Revo- 
lutionists. " Socialism," said Herzen, " is the bridge on 
which we" (the Slavophils and his own party) "can 
reach hands." Though neither democrats nor socialists 
themselves, they have filled the sails of both, and have 
really done more than either in Russia to make the 
opinion of the people a factor in politics, and to con- 
centrate interest and expectations upon socialistic insti- 
tutions. It was natural therefore that Herzen, as we 
have seen, should regard them as a kind of enemy who 
were really friends, and that the Russian emigrants in 
London should look to the Slavophils and the Poles an 
their two chief allies in the revolution they anticipated. 

Except at this one point, however, the revolutionary 
party differed from every one of the positive views of 
the Slavophils ; and Herzen's criticism of their position 
is extremely just and vigorous. He says it is neither 
more nor less than a futile attempt to make history go 
back, and that whatever opinion may be held as to the 
value of the movement inaugurated by Peter the Great, 
that movement must now be taken as an accomplished 
fact, which had actually influenced Russian life for a 
hundred and fifty years, and which it was therefore folly 
to think of treating as if it had never occurred. By 
doing so the Slavophils were simply going out of har- 
mony with the living nation of to-day to enter into a 
useless sympathy with the cold bones of a nation dead 
and buried centuries before. It was well to return to 
the people, as they said, but they took a wrong method 


of getting into contact and union with the people. 
Instead of trying to bring the people up to the level of 
intelligence thej had reached themselves^ they sought 
rather to accommodate their own intelligence to the 
lower standard of the people. They would abjure the 
freedom of western science and submit their intellect to 
the authority of a stagnant church, whose principles were 
neither necessary nor serviceable for the development of 
Slavonic society. He condemns their religious bigotry, 
and he condemns still more strongly their chauvinism, 
their exclusive patriotism, their "Judaic sentiment of 
national pre-eminence/' their " aristocratic pretension to 
purity of blood." He acknowledges heartily, however, 
that they did valuable service in drawing public atten- 
tion to certain elements in the national life which were 
being smothered under an artificial civilization. He 
participates of course in their admiration for the artel 
or labourers' association and the commune, but he says 
that they forget that in r^ard to such institutions the 
great thing is not to maintain them in the frigid inmio- 
bility of Asiatic crystallisation, but, on the contrary, to 
adhere to their fundamental principles, and then allow 
considerable freedom and flexibility in applying them to 
the new requirements of the time. Moreover, he rejects 
entirely their partiality for the Czardom. He holds that 
socialism and despotism exclude one another ; that there 
is no via mediay such as they dream of, which shall 
allow fair room and play for both ; that despotism is a 
thing of the past which cannot much longer endure, and 
that socialism is the system of the future. Socialism would 
supplant monarchy, it would supersede religion. It is 
"society without government;" it is "terrestrial re- 


ligion/* " the religion of man," without (Jod or heaven. 
*' It is the completion of Christianity and the realisation 
of the Revolution. Christianity has made the slave a 
son of man ; the Revolution has emancipated him into a 
citizen ; socialism will make him a man." Russia would 
probably play a leading part in introducing this new era, 
because Russian society was already to such an important 
extent constituted on a socialistic basis. In that event 
he has no particular wish that Russia should remain 
Russia. On the contrary, he is a cosmopolitan com- 
munist. He would abolish the Byzantine and all other 
churches, the Czardom and all other central authorities, 
and would leave the world a cellular mass of petty 
agricultural and industrial communes, which were to be 
at perfect liberty to unite themselves if they saw meet 
in such federations as seemed convenient He says that 
'^ Slav peoples do not like either the idea of the State 
or the idea of centralization. They like to live in scat- 
tered conmiunes, aloof if possible from government inter- 
vention. They detest the State soldier, they detest the 
police. Federation will perhaps be the most national 
form for the Slavs." (" La Russie et le Vieux Monde," 
p. 29.) Herzen's statements here are probably no more 
exact than most other generalizations on the character of 
races, but this idea of a ^' genial anarchy," whether it be 
a constitutional prepossession of the Slavs or no, has 
always been the favourite social remedy of the Russian 
revolutionary party. They will have no authority above 
the rural commune, and no class above the peasantry. 
AU shall alike labour and all shall alike rule, and the 
world shall be at peace. They sometimes throw in, as 
Herzen does here, the prospect of subsequent federation. 


but that is a matter for the future. What lies to their 
hand now is to level to the dust everything that exalts 
itself over the peasant, to relieve society of every higher 
power that now crushes it into a unity that is against 
nature, and to resolve it into its component atoms : but 
then they think the atom can live by itself, and live better 
by itself, for the atom is the rural commune, and the evils 
that now afflict and compress its life — wars and taxation 
and insufficient land — are all results of vicious legislation 
and vicious administration on the part of a supreme 

M. de Laveleye has pointed out a striking diflference 
between the Extreme Left of the revolutionists to-day 
and the Extreme Left of the revolutionists in 1793. 
The Jacobins overthrew the Girondists because the 
Girondists advocated federalism ; the wilder £Eiction 
of the socialists broke off from the International 
because the International rejected federalism. The 
change is perhaps partly due to the &ct that 
the extremer section of contemporary socialists have 
been guided by Russian leaders, who have always had 
before their mind the thought of their own Russian 
rural commune. A belief in the industrial commune 
and a disbelief in everything else have always been the 
ruling features in the revolutionary tradition of Russia. 
We have been viewing that tradition in its cradle. We 
have seen it coming into being under the combined 
influence of a humanistic philosophy, of the democratic 
aspirations of the time, and of a patriotic admiration for 
the communistic land system of the country. We shall 
now follow it through its subsequent phases, and we 
shall find that while suffering modifications, as was 


natural, from the impact of events, it has preserved a 
substantial continuity from first to last It is often said 
that Herzen was no nihilist, and that he would have 
disclaimed all sympathy with the views and aims of the 
revolutionary party of our day. And he was certainly 
much less violent than they are, much less impatient, 
much less reckless, for he was a man of the world and 
of thought. He would have lent no countenance to the 
plots and assassinations that engross so much of their 
attention. But if his methods of action were more 
regular, his ideal was essentially the same as theirs : let 
all authority, divine and human, he contended, be laid 
low, and let emancipated mankind spontaneously re- 
arrange itself in federations of autonomous communes. 
Herzenism was in &ct just anarchic socialism, the 
nihilism of our own time. 

But though revolutionary socialism was thus taught 
in Russia so far back as the decade of the '40s, it never 
gathered any strength till after the Crimean war. The 
conspiracy of PetracheflFsky in 1849 was of a socialist 
character, but though it proceeded from a wide-spread 
organisation, it was the feeblest and most easily 
suppressed of all the continental ^metUes of that revolu- 
tionary epoch. The vigorous hand of Nicholas lay on 
the nation. With him absolutism reached that almost 
perfect realisation of type which things sometimes 
assume just before their decay. The fate of every 
interest and energy in great part of two continents was 
enchained to the one sovereign will of this '^ Emperor 
and Autocrat of all the Russias." Of him, and through 
him, and for him, were all things in his vast dominions, 
and the whole life of his great empire lay flat and 


muffled before him as under the oppressive hush of a 
Siberian frost But with the disasters to his arms in 
the Crimea the ice b^an to break. Men got to breathe 
and speak more freely. His rule had been so irksome 
that it overcame for the moment the patriotic feelings 
of his people, and every fresh defeat his forces sustained 
was hailed in Russia with angry delight as a humiliation 
inflicted upon the Czar, and was turned into an 
occasion for general complaint against his whole system 
of administration. His death, which occurred just as 
this storm was gathering, only gave it the freer scope, 
and when it became known that his successor was 
inclined to grant some popular concessions, the rush of 
expectation joined with the long pent-up discontent to 
produce a most restless fervour for liberty and reform. 

The Crimean war, though a reverse for Russia, was 
by no means a national calamity. It rang out the old 
order and rang in the new. It was the b^inning of 
the end of the absolute autocracy of the Czar. Had 
Nicholas triumphed in the Crimea the Czardom would 
have been ramparted with such an impression of its 
military omnipotence aa would have enabled it for many 
years longer to resist all disintegrating forces, whether of 
bureaucratic corruption on the one hand, or increasing 
p(^ular intelligence on the other. But his defeat 
abroad weakened his authority at home, and even had 
he lived he would have found it impossible to sway the 
destinies of all the Russias as he had hitherto done by 
his own soUtary initiative. His son and successor had 
neither his father's thirst for power nor his gift of 
ascendancy, and he showed no disposition to contend 
against the course things were taking. The result is 


that the Czar of Russia, though nominally an absolute 
monarch, has never since the Crimean war been able to 
exercise absolute rule. The ancient Czardom is virtually 
gone, for a Czar who cannot take any important step 
without consulting public opinion, and who can even be 
compelled by public opinion into taking one against his 
personal will (as was the case in the war 1877-8), is no 
longer the Czar of history, who knew no other rule but 
his mere good pleasure. There is no regular constitu- 
tional limitation to his prerogative, but the press, the 
various political clubs and factions, and other adventitious 
organs of opinion, exercise an influence greater perhaps 
than if there were. The power which Herzen wielded 
by his Kolokol (Bell), though wielded from London, 
between the Crimean war and the Polish insurrection, and 
the power Katkoff exercised by his Moscow Gazette 
after the latter event, are probably unique in the history 
of journalism. 

The Bell began to sound at a time when men's minds 
were peculiarly predisposed to listen to its peals. Their 
blood was moved by their consciousness of greater 
liberty, and by the preparations for serf-emancipation, 
the promises of judicial reform, local government, and 
other further measures. A spirit of blame^ of change, 
of innovation was abroad, and society seemed disposed 
to moult every feather and make all things new. The 
The Bdl chimed close with this temper. It touched 
every fibre of it, and woke a thrill of concord in the 
common heart of the nation. It entered with the re- 
commendation of a forbidden joy. Its name was not 
mentioned above the breath, for the press was not yet 
free. This lent it not only interest but weight If 


anonymity adds to the importance of jomnalism, secrecy 
does so still more, for it is more impressive to the 
imagination ; and a government prohibition reflects upon 
a newspaper the importance of the government which 
issues it The Bell, however, had vigour and ability 
enough to have been influential anywhere. It was 
written with wit, with point, with knowledge, with 
literary power ; it exposed abuses and attacked authori- 
ties with a freedom before unknown in the country ; it 
spoke what most men thought, but few would venture 
to express ; and the consequence was that it was greedily 
read and zealously distributed everywhere. Contraband 
though it was, it found its way into the hands of all 
classes, and the extent of its circulation may be inferred 
from the fact that at a single fair at Nishni Novgorod as 
many as 100,000 copies, which were supposed to have 
entered the country through Asia, were confiscated in 
one day. A solitary exile in London, Herzen exercised 
for some years frt)m an obscure printing office in the 
Caledonian Road all the power of a formidable political 
opposition to the Emperor and Autocrat of all the 
Russias. What was especially relished was his criticism 
of the Qovemment and his free handling of everything 
which had been previously thought too sacred to be 
touched. He spread greatly among his countrymen a 
revolutionary and iconoclastic spirit, that demanded of 
everything established and accepted that it should show 
cause why it should not cease to exist, and he secured a 
wide adhesion to his own peculiar political and philoso- 
phical creed. For a time Herzenism became the rage, 
and communistic views ran some seasons of high popu- 
larity among the young men of the educated classes in 


Russia, at a time when they had died down in France, 
and had not yet begun to shoot up again in Germany. 

Herzenism had its day and ceased to be, or, at least, 
under the influence of new events, it changed its form, 
as other forces do ; and after the Polish war we find 
the name of Herzen no longer the power it was, and 
Herzenism attenuated into a movement which has 
also considerably altered its complexion under the 
influence of subsequent events, but which has since 
that time passed by the denomination of nihilism. 
According to a recent writer Herzen's name lost its 
spell because it was then for the first time pronounced. 
Although everybody knew that Herzen was the editor 
of the Kolokoly no one had before ventured to name him 
in public as such, but now Katkofi*, who differed from 
him entirely about the Polish rebellion, and saw that it 
was necessary for the Russian cause to impair the 
influence of the Kolokoly attacked Herzen vigorously by 
name. The mystery that surrounded his figure was 
dispersed, and he became weak as other men. There 
may be some force in this, but the main reason for the 
decline of Herzen's influence was manifestly the access 
of patriotic feeling which rose to meet the Polish 
insurrection, and which Herzen's declared sympathy 
with the insurgents naturally repelled. The Poles, as 
one of the discontented elements in Russian society, had 
always been regarded by him as probable auxiliaries in 
future contingencies, and since, moreover, their cause 
was identified with that of freedom, he threw himself 
into it with fervour. This step separated him irrevoc- 
ably fix)m the Slavophils, who had hitherto rather 
strengthened his hands in his assaults upon the existing 


order of things. The Slavophils had shared in popular 
movements so far that when the Polish war broke out 
it was at first doubted to which side their sympathies 
would be lent, but when Katkoff stood up stoutly for 
the necessity of supporting the Czar out and out, in 
defending the integrity of his empire and suppressing 
the rebellion, and of breaking the power of the Polish 
nobility, he carried them and the whole nation with 
him, and Herzenism was for the moment discredited and 
cast into the shade. In the shade it bred nihilism in 
its rankest and most typical form. 

We possess various accounts of the meaning and 
nature of nihilism, and they all agree substantially in 
their description of it The word was first employed 
by TurgenieflF in his novel " Fathers and Sons," where 
Arcadi Petrovitch surprises his father and uncle by 
describing his friend Bazaroff as a nihilist Turgeuieff, 
it may be mentioned, was a friend of Bakunin's, and, 
indeed, lived with him for a time in Berlin. He may 
therefore be taken as a competent interpreter of a phase 
of opinion which is identified with Bakunin's name. 

'* A nihilist," baid Nicholas Petrovitch. '' This word must come 
from the Latin nihil , nothing, as far as I can judge, and conse- 
quently it signifies a man who recognises nothing." 

" Or rather who respects nothing," said Paul Petrovitch. 

*' A man who looks at everything from a critical point of view," 
said Arcadi. 

*' Does not that come to the same thing ? " asked his uncle. 

"No, not at all. A nihilist is a man who bows before no 
authority, who accepts no principle without examination, no 
matter what credit the principle has. " 

** Yes, before we had Hegelians ; now we have nihilists. We 
shall see what you will do to exist in nothingness, in a vacuum, aa 
if under an air pump. " 


Pypin says that Bazaroff was not a true or typical 
nihilist, but a considerable consensus of testimony goes 
to confirm TurgenieflTs representation of the character. 
Celestine tells us that whether Bazaroff is a typical 
nihilist or no, he himself personally knew many Bazarofis 
in Russia in the decade of the sixties. 

Koscheleff, writing in 1874, gives a similar explanation 
of nihilism. '* Our disease is a disease of character, and 
the most dangerous possible. We suffer from a fatal 
unbelief in everything. We have ceased to believe in this 
or in that, not because w*e have studied the subject 
thoroughly and become convinced of the untenability of 
our views, but only because some author or another in 
(Jermany or England holds this or that doctrine to be 
unfounded. Our nihilism is a thing of a quite peculiar 
character. It is not, as in the West, the result of long 
falsely-directed philosophical studies and ways of think- 
ing, nor is it the fruit of an imperfect social organisation. 
It is an entirely different thing from that The wind has 
blown it to us, and the wind will blow it from us again. 
Our nihilists are simply Radicals. Their loud speeches, 
their feult-finding, their strong assertions, are grounded 
on nothing. They borrow n^ative views from foreign 
authors, and repeat them and magnify them ad natiseam, 
and treat persons of another way of thinking as absurd 
and antiquated people who continue to cherish exploded 
ideas and customs. The chief cause of the spread of 
this (I will not say doctrine, for I cannot honour it 
with such a name, but) sect is this, that it imparts its 
communications in secret conversations, so that, for one 
thing, it cannot be publicly criticised and refuted, and, for 
another, it charms by the fascination of the forbidden." 



The same view of nihilism precisely is presented to 
us by Schedo Ferroti (Baron Fircks) in his very clear 
and thoughtful exposition and criticism of the movement 
in his work on LAvenir de la Bussie. According to 
him nihilism is neither the creed of a sect nor the 
doctrine of a school, nor the programme of a party. 
There is nothing in it of the nature of a system of fixed 
opinions capable of being expounded and applied, or of 
becoming in any sense the direct object of a propaganda. 
He represents it, like Turgenieff, as being nothing more 
than an intellectual temper \ or rather he goes a little 
beyond Turgenieff, and makes it an intellectual dis- 
temper. It is a moral infirmity of contemporary society, 
and takes different colours from the different minds it 
attacks. It is, moreover, an infirmity by no means con- 
fined to Russia. All Europe is more or less penetrated 
with the nihilist spirit, and every country has its 
nihilists, though in Russia alone have they forced them- 
selves upon public notice and attracted the embarrassing 
attentions of the Government. Nihilism, in short, is 
simply the critical spirit pushed to an extreme and left 
without any belief in anything but itself. The charac- 
teristic trait of nihilism is, he says, self-satis£Eiction, 
self-confidence without bounds, and amounting even to 
a sentiment of admiration, mingled with surprise, for 
the lucidity of its own intelligence. The nihilist be- 
lieves himself superior to all thinkers, past and present ; 
rejects with disdain every result which human research 
has established, and admits nothing as true but his own 
arbitrary and infEillible judgments. Nihilism is primarily 
a rebellion of the intellect against all authority, all that 
is accepted, all that is established, all that is sacred. It 


Mdll own no superior and brook no restraint The 
nihilist seeks to be his own God, king, father. He 
declares the authority of &ther over child to be as obso- 
lete and objectionable an absurdity as that of ruler over 
people or of Creator over creature. He seeks to dissolve 
State, commune, church, family ; to break every bond 
that holds things together, because in holding them 
together it limits their individual freedom ; and to make 
the race a mass of atoms, each of which should exert 
the same unlimited freedom in action as the critical 
intellect exerts in thought The political position of 
nihilists is only a particular application of their attitude 
to things in general. They go beyond all other revolu- 
tionists in two respects. In the first place, while other 
revolutionists may have entertained extravagant con- 
ceptions of the rights of man, and of the possibility of 
realising absolute personal freedom under ordinaiy 
human conditions, they have always believed in the 
necessity of society, of one kind of definite organisation 
or another, as the indispensable instrument of guaran- 
teeing the individual in his rights. They have never 
thought, for example, of disputing the necessity of sub- 
mission to the vote of a majority, or of respect to the 
majesty of existing law. They may occasionally attempt 
the impossible, but nihilists go farther, and find beyond 
the impossible a more impossible still ; for they would 
reject the tyranny of a majority as much as the tyranny 
of an autocrat, and would resent the external restraint 
of law as much as the external restraint of arbitrary 
will. In the next place, most other revolutionists have 
some positive scheme of a renovated society, however 
imperfect it may be, which gives a motive to their 


immediate work of destruction. The nihilist is bent on 
nothing but destroying, and has no thought or notion of 
how he is to build up again. He knows what he thinks 
wrong ; whatever is is wrong ; but he has no idea how 
it is to be put right, or whether in general there is so 
much as a right at all. He cannot be called democrat, 
republican, communist, or Utopian of any kind or degree, 
for his one intent is to destroy the whole existing order 
of things, and he is content to trust to the chapter of 
accidents for a better. There was, according to the 
same authority, only one positive element in the whole 
agitation, and that element was imported into it about 
the time of the Polish insurrection, and only remained 
with it for a few years. It was patriotism. It is always 
the unexpected that happens with this perverse and 
volatile generation, and nothing could have been less 
expected beforehand than that this upsetting and revo- 
lutionary party, who used to n^e against the Czar, 
should turn vehemently Chauvinist on the first serious 
rebellion against his authority. Yet the nihilists for- 
sook Herzen because he sympathised with the Poles, 
and Schedo Ferroti distinctly tells us that without be- 
coming in other respects less n^ative than before, they 
for some years raved as much as the Slavophils about 
the glory and greatness of their country. They had 
merely caught the last mode. Russian society was at 
the time infected with a boastful spirit whose natve 
extravagances are sharply satirised by Turgenieff. Men 
vaunted the military superiority of their country ; they 
were numerous enough "to bury their enemies with 
their caps ; " above all, they prided themselves on their 
" superior instinct " — " the rich Russian nature " — which, 


as they believed, was beginning to outshine the other 
nations in art, in literature, in music, in science, and all 
by force of an inborn genius which had no need to take 
trouble or receive training. " Some young people among 
us," says Turgenieff, " have discovered even a Russian 
arithmetic. Two and two do make four with us as well 
as elsewhere, but more pompously, it would seem. All 
this," he adds, '^ is nothing but the stammering of men 
who are just awaking." 

Herzen, writing in 1869, describes nihilism in sub- 
stantially analogous terms. It is the most perfect free- 
dom from all accepted ideas, and from all traditional 
prejudices which hinder the march of intellect. He 
adds, "When Belinsky heard a friend say that mind 
came to consciousness in man, and could not accept the 
remark, he was a nihilist. When Bakunin accused the 
Berlin professors of timidity, and the Paris revolutionists 
of 1848 of conservatism, he was a nihilist When 
PetracheflFsky and his followers were condemned to hard 
labour because (so the sentence ran) they sought to 
overturn all divine and human laws, and destroy the 
whole foundations of society, they were nihilists." The 
nihilist was one who went beyond the most Radical 
position ventured upon at the time either in thought or 
action. Belinsky, though a Liberal in politics, was not 
a revolutionist, and Petrachefisky is said to have been a 
disciple of the French communists, and to have desired 
a social transformation in their sense, yet because 
Belinsky found the pantheistic idealism of Hegel too 
positive for hun, and because PetrachefFsky sought to 
introduce his reconstruction by first destroying the exist- 
ing system, they are classed by Herzen along with 


Michael Bakunin, who would have nothing to do with 
mind, or Gk>d, or State, or country. Nihilism, according 
to this view of it, is very much the habit and attitude 
of denial. It would expand or contract its dimensions 
with the number of positions which it denied, and it 
would assume different complexions according to the 
particular position which chiefly inflamed its denial at 
the moment A certain variability thus appertained to 
it by nature. Like certain animals, it shifted its hue 
with the ground it happened to occupy. 

The leading intellectual lights of this phase of nihilism 
were Tchemychefisky and Bakunin. Tchemychefisky 
was a metaphysician, an economist, and a romance 
writer, and exercised during his brief literary career 
(1855-1863) a remarkable influence over the youthful 
intellect of the day. His chief works are his treatise on 
John Stuart Mill, partly a translation and partly a 
criticism from a socialistic standpoint, and his nihilist 
novel, "What to do," published in 1863. This book 
met with such wide popularity that the Government sent 
him to Siberia for it, where he still remains, and it has 
ei\]oyed an almost canonical authority among the nihilistB 
ever since this martyrdom, as they consider it, of its 
author. Bakunin was of much less importance as a 
writer than Tchemycheffisy. He has published nothing 
but a few pamphlets and polemical tracts on occasional 
subjects. But his activity was indefatigable in private 
society, in secret organisations, at congresses of various 
sorts, and he has done more than any other single person 
not merely to keep alive the nihilist agitation in Russia 
itself, but even more to spread it among the Latin 
peoples of the south of Europe. Unlike TchernycheflSsky, 


he belonged to an aristocratic family. He was the 
nephew of an ambassador, and the cousin of Qeneral 
Mouravieff. He was bred in the army, but being sent 
with his r^ment to Poland he conceived such a hatred 
of the despotism he saw in operation there, that he 
resigned his commission and returned to Moscow. Here 
he was well received in the intellectual and thoughtful 
circle that gathered round Belinsky, and made himself 
conspicuous amongst them by his zeal for the philosophy 
of Hegel. In 1846 he went to Germany, made the 
acquaintance of Arnold Buge and the Young H^elians 
of the Left, and wrote for the Halle Jahrbiu^her, under 
the signature of Jules Elizard. He went to Paris in 
1847, but was not suflFered to remain long there, and 
accordingly returned to Germany, where he took a lead- 
ing part in the Dresden insurrection of 1849. He was 
taken prisoner and condemned to death, but the sentence 
being commuted to penal servitude for life, he was 
claimed by the Russian Government, and conunitted to 
the fortress of PetropauloflFsky at St. Petersbui^. His 
imprisonment was commuted in 1857 by the late Czar 
to exile for life in Siberia, fix)m whence, however, he 
contrived to escape to England by way of Japan and 
the United States in 1861. His twelve years of seclu- 
sion from the world had only maddened his energy, 
instead of crushing it ; and he came out thinking and 
speaking of himself as a Prometheus unbound, with a 
mission to overthrow the powers and systems that were. 
At first he looked chiefly to Russia as his field of opera- 
tions — his own Russia, of which he still spoke with an 
exuberant nationalism. He wrote from London in 1861 
that while he still ardently sympathised with the work 


of liberating mankind in general, he intended to devote 
the rest of his life exclusively to the interests of 
Russians, Poles, and Slavs ; and his nationalism is more 
logical than that of the Slavophils, for, says he, ^^ let us 
banish the Tartars to the East, and the Germans to 
Germany, and let us he a true and purely Russian 
nation." It is more logical, but it is not less selfish, for 
they would make Russia Slavonic by Russianising the 
foreigners, and he by expelling them. His nationalism 
went the length of a furious hatred of the Grermans, 
worthy of the most vehement of the Slavophils. In a 
pamphlet entitled Romanoff, Pougatchef or Pestel, quoted 
by M. de Laveleye, he cries : " Oh ! war against the 
Germans is a good work, and one indispensable for the 
Slavs. Liberty must be restored to our brethren of 
Poland, of Lithuania, of the Ukraine, and deliverance 
be brought to the Slavs who groan under the yoke of 
Teutons and Turks. Alliance with Italy, Hungary, 
Roumania, and Greece against Prussia, Austria, and 
Turkey." But though he was not as yet emancipated 
from the ^' antiquated prejudice of nationality," he was 
of course entirely opposed to the Czardom. His aim, as 
he said, was '^ the realisation of that dream which was 
cherished by all Slavs, the constitution of a great and 
free panslavonic federation." 

By 1868 his nationalist fervour had blown off, and he 
appears in the congress of the Peace League at Berne 
in that year, an enemy not of one State as opposed to 
another, but of the existence of any State at all. He 
would abolish the State under every form whatsoever, 
and he would abolish religion and all hereditary rights, 
and make all men for the first time absolutely equal by 


affording them the same maintenance, the same starting- 
point, the same opportunities of education and culture, 
and the same means of industry. This dream of perfect 
equality was to be realised, not by means of laws, but 
by the essential nature of the organisation of industrial 
society itself, in which every man would have to work 
Mrith his head as well as his hands. This organisation, 
however, he would not allow to be called communistic. 
" Communism," says he, " I abhor, because it is the 
negation of liberty, and without liberty I cannot imagine 
anything truly human to exist I abhor it because it 
concentrates all the strength of society in the State, and 
squanders that strength in its service. I abhor it be- 
cause it places all property in the hands of the State, 
whereas my principle is the abolition of the State itself. 
I want the organisation of society and the distribution 
of property to proceed upwards from below by the free 
operation of society itself, and not downwards from 
above by the dictate of authority. I want the abolition 
of personal hereditary property, which is merely an in- 
stitution of the State and a consequence of State prin- 
ciples. In this sense I am a collectivist, not a com- 
munist" Collectivism is thus the constitution of society 
into voluntary productive associations, to originate by 
spontaneous action, and to endure without any external 
guarantee for the permanent enjoyment of their rights. 
This is, however, rather a consideration for the future 
than for the present ; the one concern of immediate 
moment is to reduce existing society to a tabula rasa 
on which the new order of things may imprint itself. 
All existing social forms must be swept away together 
and not a wrack left behind, lest it should become the 


nucleus for eventually bringing back all the rest 

In 1869 he founded an association called the ^^ Alliance 
of Socialist Democracy," to promote his views. The pro- 
gramme of this association says : " The Alliance declares 
itself atheistic. It desires the definitive and entire 
abolition of classes, and the political, economical, and 
social equalisation of the two sexes. It desires land, 
the instruments of production, and all other capital to 
become entirely the property of the collective society, 
and to be utilised by labourers only, that is, by agricul- 
tural and industrial associations. It recognises that all 
political and authoritative States actually existing ought 
to disappear in the universal union of free associations." 
The Alliance further declares that it desires '^ a universal 
revolution, at once social, philosophical, economical, and 
political, in order that first in Europe and then in the 
rest of the world there may not remain one stone upon 
another of the existing order of things, founded on 
property, on exploitation, on the principle of authority, 
whether religious, metaphysical, bourgeoisement doctrin- 
avrey or even jdcohinement r^volutionaire. To the cry of 
' Peace to the labourers ! liberty to all the oppressed ! ' 
and of ' Death to tyrants, exploiters, and patrons of 
every sort I ' we wish to destroy all States and all 
churches, with all their institutions and laws, religious, 
political, juridical, financial, police, academical, econo- 
mical, and social, in order that all those millions of poor 
human beings, deceived, enslaved, tormented, exploited, 
may at length breathe with perfect freedom, being 
delivered from all their directors and benefactors, whether 
official or officious, whether associations or individuals." 
In short, their work is to strip mankind of the whole 


growth of civilization and restore it to a primitive chaos 
without form and void, " to produce," as their phrase is, 
" a perfect amorphism." 

But how is a revolution like this to be accomplished ? 
Well, " revolutions are neither accomplished by indivi- 
duals nor by secret societies. • They come of themselves, 
products of the movement of ideas and events. But a 
secret society can do something to spread in the mind 
of the masses the ideas which are pushing on towards 
revolution, and it can afterwards constitute a revolu- 
tionary directorate capable of guiding the convulsion 
when it breaks out For the international organisation 
of the Revolution a hundred devoted and closely united 
men are sufficient" It was with this view of preparing 
and fomenting the Revolution that Bakunin established 
his Alliance. It was partly a public and partly a secret 
society, and in spite of the objection of its author to 
centralisation, it was as centralised an organisation as 
the Society of Jesus or the Carbonari. Consistency, 
however, is no quality of the nihilist or of the Russian. 
Impressionable natures may be found aU things by turns, 
or even, for that matter, together. This Alliance was 
composed of three orders of members : 1st, the hundred 
" international brothers " already mentioned, who were 
personally known to one another and possessed the sole 
control of everything ; 2nd, the " national brothers " 
who were appointed by the "international brothers," 
but were kept in entire ignorance of the very existence 
of the international organisation, and were set to work 
to stir up revolution in their own respective countries ; 
and 3rd, simple adherents, members of local associations 
whose only duty was to ask no questions and to 


obey orders when the hour arrived. This Alliance 
dissolved itself in the year of its birth, in order that its 
several sections might one by one join the International 
Working Men's Association. Bi^unin's ideas seemed 
to gain ground in the International, and by means of 
its ramifications they spread with extraordinary rapidity 
in Spain and Italy. He was one of the forerunners of 
the Paris Conmiune of March 1871> for so early as the 
28th of September, 1870, less than four weeks after the 
fall of the Empire, he organised an insurrection at Lyons 
on the principles of the Commune. He issued a decree 
abolishing the State, and thought the opportunity had 
at last come for introducing his ideal r^me of a 
a federation of independent urban and rural communes. 
But his insurrection was speedily suppressed by a couple 
of regiments of National Guards, and he himself retired 
to Geneva and is not heard of again till the meeting of 
the International at the Hague in 1872. When he 
entered that Association, with the other members of his 
Alliance, it must have been on the imderstanding that 
the question of centralism or federalism, or, in other 
words, the question of the abolition of the State, should 
remain for the meantime in abeyance, as being of no 
immediate practical significance. But the ^metUe at 
Lyons, and especially the revolution of the Paris 
Commune, had in the interval made it a question of the 
day and it could no longer remain open. It was, 
therefore, brought up at the International Congress in 
1872, and Bakunin was defeated and expelled from the 

This difference as to the aim of the Revolution was 
not the only quarrel between the two sides ; there was 


also a difference as to the means to be used to 
accomplish it. The German socialists at this time still 
adhered to the policy of legal and peacefid means, of 
gaining power gradually at the elections. It was not till 
1879 that they were provoked by the persecutions 
to which they were subjected by the German 
Government, to delete from their statutes the qualifica- 
tion of seeking their ends by legal means. But 
Bakunin and the nihilists were even then, like 
Bismarck, all for " blood and iron," and the events of 
the recent revolution had made this question one 
of great practical interest at the time. The Inter- 
national was not a secret society, and always strongly 
insisted that open propagandism was more suitable to 
modem conditions and more likely to lead to success. 
But Bakunin's Alliance of Socialist Democracy which 
joined it was a secret society, and both its founder and 
its members had &ith in no methods of operation but 
those which the old secret societies were driven to 
practise in unhappier times. He had no belief in the 
efficiency of open discussion, and little confidence in the 
possibility of the revolutionary party gaining a decisive 
ascendancy at the elections. He seems to have thought 
the first condition of the success of a revolutionary 
minority was to create in the public mind a strong 
impression that they were already a majority, and that 
their cause was certain to triumph. This could only be 
done by arson and assassination, committed often and 
in many quarters, and as audaciously as possible, by a 
society working in darkness. The secrecy, simultaneity, 
and audacity of the crimes were all means of exciting 
the imagination and fears of the people, and of inducing 


them to submit to a power which appeared to beset 
them behind and before, so that it was hopeless to 
resist it M. de Laveleye, to whom I am indebted for 
many particulars in this account of Bakunin, quotes a 
passage from a pamphlet printed by him at Geneva in 
Russian and for Russia, and entitled '' The Principles of 
the Revolution," in which he says: "Admitting no 
other activity than that of destruction, we declare that 
the forms in which that activity ought to express itself 
may be extremely varied — ^poison, poignard, knout 
The Revolution sanctifies all without distmction/* 
Further, he says that to get to the gloomy city of 
" Pandestruction," the first requisite is "a series of 
assassinations and audacious, or even mad^ enterprises, 
horrifying the powerful and dazzling the people, till they 
believe in the triumph of the Revolution." The same 
doctrine was held by the socialist lodges which stood by 
Bakunin and erected a separate International Association, 
and was always preached by their organs. The 
Jurassian Federation of the International published a 
journal, called the Bulletin, which in its number of 4th 
March, 1876, took notice of the manifesto of some 
French socialists in New York, which demanded that in 
the future all reactionaries should be put to death 
without remorse. To this the Bulletin replied that 
hatred was a bad adviser, and that the reactionaries 
were numbered by millions, for they included not only 
magistrates, priests, functionaries, and proprietors, but 
even the great mass of the people who understood 
nothing of humanitarian collectivism. ''By universal 
sufirage," said the Bulletin, " we should have only half 
a million of votes ; then all the rest would have to be 


slain, which would be impossible. The essential thing 
is to put leaders out of the way, and for that some 
thousands of heads would suffice." Similar teaching 
occurs in the socialist prints of Belgium, Spain, Italy, 
and elsewhere. The assassination of sovereigns and 
officials is sometimes further defended on the ground 
that it is only a just retaliation for their unwarranted 
judicial murders— or administrative murders — of revolu- 
tionists, and that it is really not assassination but war. 
This was the position openly taken up by Mirsky in his 
defence before a Russian court of justice. If the Czar 
or his subordinates killed or banished a citizen without 
law or trial, the citizen had the same right to kill or 
banish the Czar or his subordinates without law. The 
nihilists were, in £Eu;t, belligerents and not criminals ; 
only they were belligerents without an army, who had 
to make war Mrith the best weapons they possessed. 

How well Bakunin's counsels have been followed in 
Russia is only too manifest in the history of the last 
decade. He died in 1876 at Berne, but his work has 
not followed him. After many successive attempts, the 
death of the Czar Alexander II. was at last effectually 
accomplished in February 1881, and many subordinate 
officers of State have perished violently at various times 
during the period. A Russian programme of a nihilist 
organisation, which fell into the hands of the (German 
authorities at Konigsberg in March 1876, breathes the 
most rabid spirit of universal destruction, but lays down 
principles of a sort of economy of assassination. It 
says that " the only revolution that can bring salvation 
to the people is one which uproots the idea of the 
State and buries all traditions, ordinances, and classes 


of the Russian empire in its ruins. The aim of this 
society is to emancipate the people from every 
organisation proceeding from above them. The future 
organisation will without doubt issue from the gift and 
life of the people, but that is the afiair of future 
generations. Our task is the most terrifying, ruthless, 
universal destruction." But in this work they are not 
to run-a-muck blindly, but to proceed with calculation. 
Paragraph 16 says: "It is necessary to consider the 
comparative utility for the revolution of the death of 
any particular persons. In the first degree of utility 
stand those persons who are the most dangerous of all 
for the revolutionary organisation, and whose death — a 
sudden and violent one — ^may frighten the government 
extremely and shake its power." 

This resort to assassination was one of the points on 
which Herzen differed entirely from Bakunin and the 
later nihilists, and indeed from the time of the Polish 
insurr^tion till his death in 1870 Herzen was out of 
harmonious relations with the revolutionary party he 
had done so much to create. He must have trembled 
sometimes at the sight of his own handiwork. He had 
helped to raise a spectre he had no power to lay. 
When Bakunin arrived from Siberia he used to 
contribute to the Kolokoly and was for a time its editor, 
but he and Herzen quarrelled and apparently never made 
it up again. Events in Russia were keeping the public 
mind in continual political excitement and carrying the 
volatile Russian nature to lengths which the more 
sober and disciplined understanding of Herzen could 
not approve. Herzen accordingly constantly decreased, 
while the wilder Bakunin constantly increased. When 


Herzen expressed his strong condemnation of the first 
attempt upon Czar Alexander's life made by Karakozoff, 
he was denounced as a traitor for doing so by both the 
Geneva and the Moscow committees of the nihilists, 
or as they mystically styled themselves, the "Cosmo- 
poetic Society of the Guardians of the True Light" 
When seen in the " true light," KarakozoflF was declared 
to be "a poet in deeds like Christ," "a true son of 
(Jod," " a disinterested saint," " the true light that was 
made flesh and dwelt among us." Regicide, they said, 
was not murder when it was committed to confer 
liberty upon "the people of God, called the Russian 
people ;" and Herzen was " a traitor to the Creator and 
to humanity" for saying otherwise. These documents 
are cited by Schedo Ferroti, and while they bear out his 
idea of nihilism being something diseased, they seem to 
show that it was in some cases not so absolutely and 
nakedly n^ative as he represents it to be. The men 
who used the expressions just quoted were mystics but 
not atheists, and their nihilism only extended to the 
overthrow of the czardom, and perhaps other institutions, 
political or religious. But nihilists may vary much in 
the extent of their negation and yet find some common 
basis for working together in the particular enmity 
which is of most immediate practical concern at the 
moment. That enmity seems firom first to last to be an 
antipathy to the czardom and the bureaucracy, and 
whatever phases the movement may successively 
assume this political streak of red always runs through 
the middle of it. In the decade of the sixties the 
political element in it seems to have been for a time 
eclipsed by the intellectual and philosophical, but since 



then it has again assumed the foremost place. The 
political symptoms were not absent then, nor are the 
intellectual now, but the epidemic has somewhat 
changed its type because the air has become heavier 
with political change. 

There are many persons — Madame de NovikoflF among 
others — ^who assert that nihilism is still nothing different 
fix)m what Schedo Ferroti and Turgenieff represented 
it to be in their time. They declare it to be a passing 
intellectual disease, which has seized hold of the 
educated classes of Russia in consequence of their 
imperfect mental discipline and their native excitability 
of character, and with which it is morally impossible to 
infect the peasantry or any other uneducated men. A 
certain measure of education is its necessary condition^ 
and, as Ferroti and Kosheleff agree in saying, a more 
perfect measure is its surest cure. I believe this view 
to be erroneous, but it is stiU certain that neither the 
nihilism of to-day nor the nihilism of twenty years ago 
can be explained without taking into consideration those 
peculiarities of national life and character to which 
these writers refer. 

In the first place, the Russians are in national 
character exceedingly impressionable, volatile, and 
predisposed to run into extremes. Diderot said they 
were rotten before they were ripe, and his remark lays 
the finger on a tendency which they undoubtedly 
betray. They are quick in taking up new ideas, they 
engage themselves for a time with nothing else, and 
they carry them rapidly to the utmost length they are 
capable of going. New movements sprout readily, run 
up to a rank growth, and go to seed. The com- 


paratively large proportion of women among the 
nihilists is partly due to the circumstance that they 
have a double share of this impressionable nature — one 
as Russians and one as women. It is partly due to the 
peculiarity that in Russia the women have much more 
independence and initiative than the men. Custine in 
mentioning this feet gives as a reason for it that under 
bad governments women are less oppressed than men. 
Whatever be the explanation, they certainly eiyoy 
social rights and liberties which are denied them in 
Western Europe. " In Russia," says Haxthausen, " the 
woman reigns, the man governs. In all ranks of 
life the women are better off than the men. They do 
much less work. The men light the fires and do the 
household work even, the wives looking after baby. 
Among the bourgeoisie the wife does nothing the whole 
day. She has not the slightest idea of house-keeping. 
The husband directs the house-keeping. Among the 
rich the females are better educated, but educated as 
women of fashion, not as housewives." Nicolai 
Karlowitch says that the reason why women are more 
independent in Russia than elsewhere is that "the 
poverty of their parents and brothers generally makes 
it easy for them to throw off the yoke and to do for 
themselves, instead of remaining as a burden on their 
male relatives." Then, the laws of Russia for the 
separate property of the wife as against the husband 
and of the mother as against the children, are more 
fevourable than in any other country, and give an 
industrious woman great independence with regard to 
the product of her labour. Then agam, in many cases 
the women occupy seats at the communal assemblies. 


especiaUy when the men in the village are few or are 
absent from home. And we know that no country has 
done more for the higher education of women than 
Russia. It has established gymnasia and progymnasia 
for them as well as for the young men. In 1872 there 
were 500 female students attending medical classes in St 
Petersbuig; in 1873 there were 73 Russian female medical 
students at Zurich. All this indicatiCS the existence of a 
greater degree of social equality between the sexes in 
Russia than elsewhere ; and this, in turn, sufficiently 
explains the exceptional proportion of female members in 
nihilist societies, as compared even with revolutionary 
fections in other countries. No doubt it may seem 
singular that Russian women who already enjoy 
exceptional independence, both legal and social, should 
catch so sharply the clamour for female emancipation, 
for " becoming man," as their phrase is, for taking their 
place in the world as men do, and not in the &mily 
alone, according to what they style the old " Harem or 
Boudoir " view of woman's sphere ; but that is entirely 
of a piece with the parallel paradox that a country like 
Russia, which has no proletariate, should give birth to 
that consuming zeal for the emancipation of labour from 
capital which has appeared from time to time in the 
speeches of Solovieff and other nihilist conspirators 
when on their trial, and in various nihilist manifestoes 
which have been made public Every new wind of 
doctrine carries them away. It ought to be said, 
however, that if the nihilists look upon the institution 
of the fieimily as a survival from an inferior state of 
society, their opinion seems for the most part to have 
remained matter of theory. According to the most 


trustworthy authorities, the representations given on this 
point in popular novels are exaggerated and misleading, 
and what are called '' nihilist marriages/' which occa- 
sionally occur, appear to be perfectly regular marriages, 
only they are entered into not with any view to 
co-habitation, but merely to give the wife more freedom 
to go out as a missionary of nihilist opinions than she 
could possess if she remained single. The usual account 
of this sort of fictitious marriage, as it is sometimes 
termed, is that the happy pair in many instances see 
one another at the ceremony for the first time — and for 
the last They go inunediately their own several ways 
and work quietly for the coming kingdom in the sphere 
allotted to them. 

Schedo Ferroti seemed to think that in his time one 
of the few solitary conservative influences left among 
the nihilists was their respect for women. The authority 
of the father was gone, he said, but the influence of the 
mother still prevailed, because she appealed to the 
heart rather than to the intelligence. But Nioolai 
Karlowitch, writing in 1878, tells us that the Russian 
mothers of the present generation are no protective 
against nihilism or any other policy that may be novel 
or fashionable, because they are themselves too much 
bitten with the temper and spirit which superinduce 
nihilism. He says that one of the strongest desires of 
educated women in Russia is to keep up with the age, 
and one of their strongest fears is to be thought 
antiquated. They, therefore, live in a kind of dread of 
being outrun or despised by their own children. '* Many 
parents,'* says Karlowitch, " who perceive the pernicious 
influence of this friend or that upon their children, yet do 


not venture in the circumstances to expel him from the 
house^ because they would be regarded as 'fiBonily 
despots/ and that is ^ too antiquated' '' He mentions 
the case of a highly-educated lady in St Petersburg who 
said to a friend^ ^'I bless my son in the name of 
Lassalle/' but when asked who then was Lassalle^ and 
what had he done, she could make no reply. She had 
merely used his name to show she was not one of those 
old-world people who believed in Christ Qeneral 
society in Russia seems thus to be possessed by a per- 
verted intellectual servility. Instead of the thraldom to 
the traditional, which is current elsewhere, there prevails 
the more unwholesome thraldom to the novel, which is 
the none less dangerous because it is a thraldom that 
disguises itself under the fiction of emancipation. The 
young, accordingly, only carry further, as is natural, the 
ideas and spirit of their elders, and raven for the 
destruction of beliefe and institutions which the latter 
are ashamed to defend. 

A second peculiarity of Russian life and character 
to which we are rightly referred as furnishing some 
assistance towards an explanation of the phenomena of 
nihilism, is closely allied with the former, and indeed is 
partly its cause. It is the political and intellectual 
immaturity of the Russian people. They want the 
deepness of earth, the strata of deciduous leaves of ages 
of culture and experience, the cumulative discipline of 
generations, which instinctively supplies correctives and 
counterpoises to partial or novel impulses ; which 
accustoms men to go about and about a subject and 
calculate all its bearings; and which enables them to 
compare means with ends and one end with another. 


They yield to the whirl of every new movement; and 
they make little scruple about pulling down old 
institutions, because in their simplicity they think it the 
easiest thing in the world to build them up again. A 
people accustomed to the exercise of political responsi- 
bilities cannot help learning moderation, but a nation 
which has never been suffered to do anything for itself, 
if it is once roused to revolt against this despotic over- 
government, cannot know where to stop. It will 
almost necessarily take freedom to consist in the absence 
of all restraint, instead of consisting, as it does, merely in 
the absence of restraint of a wrong kind. Many people 
find it a hard lesson to learn, that liberty must be 
limited to be secure, and that restraint of a right kind, 
so for from being its antagonist, is one of its first- 
conditions. The narrow rills that are seen breaking in 
white streaks over the rocky sides of a mountain or 
running stealthily between the bushes, sometimes 
wander about for a time, when they reach the valley, at 
their own sweet will and lose their identity in some 
stagnant morass. But near them are others which 
keep finding a channel for themselves and gather 
strength as they go till, after fertilising half a continent, 
they enter the ocean with the majesty and power of a 
great river. Now, is the channel of such a river, are its 
banks, a restraint upon its freedom? Nay, it is that 
channel, it is these banks, that gave it its freedom, that 
lent it all the force it possesses and prevented it fix)m 
perishing ere it rightly rose in the ignoble thraldom of 
marshy ground. So with political liberty ; the secret of 
its permanence is that it finds as it goes its own 
limitations. But the Russian people have never been 


permitted to acquire the political experience that could 
teach them this lesson. 

A third feature of Russian life which has contributed 
to the origin and general character of nihilism is one 
which is mentioned both by Schedo Ferroti and by 
Kosheleff, and which ought not to be overlooked. These 
writers believe that the arbitrary action of the Czar and 
bureaucracy has directly nursed the nihilistic spirit by 
destroying all respect for objective law. No law was 
fixed^ and therefore none was sacred. If general laws 
were laid down to-day they were repealed to-morrow, 
or were ignored and broken by the officials who were 
engaged in administering them. Herzen complains — 
this was in the days of Nicholas and before the reforms 
of the last reign — that the Russian government was 
^'infatuated with innovation/' that '' nothing was 
aUowed to remain as it was/' that ''everything was 
always being changed/' "a new ministry always 
beginning its work by upsetting that of its predecessors." 
Russia was, and for that matter is still, what the 
Germans call a Functionary-State, as distinguished from 
a Law-State, and the people had to look for guidance 
and direction not to fixed laws established by a central 
legislative authority and administered with unswerving 
fidelity by judiciary and executive, but merely to 
the arbitrary and changing decrees of the officials. 
These decrees seem to have been exceptionally arbitrary 
and changeable in Russia, and it was impossible from 
the knowledge of what you were required to do to-day 
to form any guess as to what you would be required to 
do to-morrow. Schedo Ferroti says that when the 
Russian people feel that their officials are disposed to be 


justy they never think of complaimng of the power these 
officials exercise. But when they found rules and 
methods in constant flux, and could not feel that 
to-morrow would be as to-day except in being equally 
harassing, they got naturally bewildered. They could 
not entertain any reverence for the law, when the only law 
they knew was the arbitrary will of continually changing 
sets of officials, and thus the peculiarities of the imperial 
system of administration itself tended to spread abroad 
a restless and lawless spirit 

There are, however, phenomena in the nihilist move- 
ment, which none of these causes, nor all of them 
together, fully explain, and which are inconsistent with 
the theory that the movement is nothing but the vague 
and purposeless agitation of a diseased and heady 
intellectualism, operating upon a half civilized people. 
The nihilists exhibit a pertinacity, a courage, a self- 
sacrifice, which cannot be supported without the con- 
sciousness of living for a positive cause, without the 
experience of definite practical evils, and without the 
hope— ^oudy, it may be, but still powerful— of ultimately 
instituting a better order of things. A nihilist journal 
stated about two years ago that as many as 17,000 
individuals had been banished administratively for 
connection with the revolutionary movement during the 
few preceding years, yet their places were eagerly filled 
with fresh recruits. Their boldness and their strength 
alike seem to grow with their misfortunes. Young 
men of parts and education lay aside their student's 
gown and serve for years and years as artizans or 
ploughmen in order to impregnate the lower orders with 
their principles ; and young ladies hire themselves as 


cooks in the same zeal for the advancement of the 
cause. In the Revolutionary Catechism, written in 
cipher, but read at the trial of Netchaieff in July 1871, 
Bakunin describes the good revolutionist thus : — " The 
revolutionist is a man under a vow. He ought to have 
no personal interests, no business, no sentiments, no 
property. He ought to occupy himself entirely with 
one exclusive interest, with one thought and one 
passion : the Revolution. .... He has only one 
aim, one science : destruction. For that and nothing 
but that he studied mechanics, physics, chemistry, and 
medicine; He observes, with the same object, the men, 
the characters, the positions, and all the conditions of 
the social order. He despises and hates existing 
morality. For him everything is moral that fevours the 
triumph of the revolution. Everything is immoral and 
criminal that hinders it ... . Between him and 
society there is war to the death, incessant, irreconcilable. 
He ought to be prepared to die, to bear torture, and to 
kiU with his own hands all who obstruct the revolution. 
So much the worse for him if he has in this world any 
ties of parentage, friendship, or love I He is not a true 
revolutionist if these attachments stay his arm. In the 
meantime he ought to live in the middle of society, 
feigning to be what he is not. He ought to penetrate 
everywhere, among high and low alike ; into the 
merchants' office, into the church, into the Qovemment 
bureaux, into the army, into the literary world, into the 
secret police, and even into the imperial palace. . . . 
He must make a list of those who are condemned to 
death, and expedite their sentence according to the 
order of their relative iniquities. .... A new 


member can only be received into the association by a 
unanimous vote, and after giving proofs of his merit not 
in word but in action. Every " companion " ought to 
have under his hand several revolutionists of the second 
or third degree, not entirely initiated. He ought to 
consider them part of the revolutionary capital placed 
at his disposal, and he ought to use them economically, 
and so as to extract the greatest possible profit out of 
theuL .... The most precious element of all 
are women, completely initiated, and accepting our entire 
programme. Without their help we can do nothing." 

These traits of the good revolutionist have only been 
too closely imitated. Thousands of men and women 
give themselves up to this infernal work with the 
devotion of a Xavier, with the tenacity of a Loyola. Now 
these people are not demons ; if you pricked them they 
would bleed. Nor are they maniacs ; the very theory I 
am combatting alleges that their absurdities and 
extravagancies, if they stood alone, and were free fix>m 
their crimes, are not uncharacteristic of the Russian 
mind, and might find plenty of counterparts in ordinary 
Russian society. They may be mystics, enthusiasts, 
fimatics, but they are not products of the critical spirit 
alone. Mere intellectual negation is not the stuff of 
which the qualities they exhibit are made. It must be 
first weighted vnth political or social discontent, and 
animated by political or social hope. And this is so 
with the nihilists. Their present work is destruction, 
and they enter upon it with the vehemence of their race. 
But they are actuated by no love of destruction for its 
own sake ; it is impossible to conceive any considerable 
body of human beings being so actuated. They would 


destroy, that others who come after them may build up. 
They sacrifice themselves for a cause, in whose triumph 
they shall not share ; they work for a generation they 
shall not live to see. Prince J. Lubomirskiy who is no 
admirer of them or their doings, informs us in his Z^ 
Nihilisme en Russia (Paris, 1879), that the nihilists 
say, '* After us will come new men with juster views. 
Having to work out a work already b^un, their hands 
will be more skilful than ours. They shall build; as 
for us, we shall destroy." He adds that they term 
themselves destroyers and precursors, and profess what 
he calls a sort of collective Messiahism. They await 
not the birth of a man, but the birth of a generation, 
and they work for it 

Now this is a kind of activity which could not be 
sustained on the windy vanity of being reputed more 
advanced than their neighbours, or on the wantonness of 
intellectual contempt, or the impatient dislike of all 
restraint and responsibility. The nihilists impose upon 
themselves restraints from which most men would shrink, 
and they submit to the rule of a central committee, which 
is more exacting than any despotism, and of whose personal 
and local habitation they are probably for the most part 
kept in ignorance. Of course nothing definite is known 
of the nature of the nihilist organisation, but it is 
generally supposed to be finshioned after the model of the 
earlier secret societies of Russia, and to consist of groups 
of ten, every two groups being connected together by an 
intermediary who is member of both. One group may 
know nothing of what is being done by another, for the 
ordinary rank and file are entrusted very sparingly wiUi 
compromising information, just as we have seen that in 


Bakunin's Alliance of Socialist Democracy none of the 
members was aware of the existence of the organisation of 
" international brothers " except the hundred international 
brothers themselves. The reason for adopting such an 
arrangement is obvious. The two chief dangers, which a 
secret society devoted to political conspiracy has to guard 
against, are discovery by the police, on the one hand, 
and betrayal by members on the other. Now, under a 
constitution like that described, the discovery of any single 
group leaves the police as much at sea as ever regarding 
the whole organisation, and the treason of any single 
member is seldom able to affect more than the particular 
group he belonged to himself. To avoid these dangers 
the society is made as much a secret to most of its own 
members as it is to everybody else, and perhaps even 
more of a terror. Fidelity within the body is only 
secured by the same relentless terrorism which is 
practised against powers and authorities without This 
appeared in the Netchaieff case. Netchaieff went 
in 1865 to Moscow and won some converts to the 
Revolution among the students at the Academy of 
Agriculture there. He formed them into a conmiittee, 
which he called the Bussicm Branch of the Interna- 
tional Working Men's Assodation, and the instructions 
he gave them, which were produced at the trial, show 
among other things that whatever the International 
may have aspired to be elsewhere, it was to be worked 
in Russia as a secret society. " The organisation,'' says 
this document, " is founded on confidence towards the 
individual No member knows how far he stands from 
the centre. Obedience to the orders of the conmiittee 
ought to be absolute, without objection and without hesi- 


tation/' Four of the initiated received commissions to 
enlist fresh adherents, and to found a new group each. 
One of the four was a philanthropic and much respected 
young man, named IvanoflF, who had established founda- 
tions for poor students, and used to spend his spare hours 
in teaching peasant children. He came to the conviction, 
however, that existing misery could not be eflFectually 
stopped by individual beneficence, or by anything but 
a social revolution. For a time he and NetchweflF got 
along well together ; but one day Netchaieff posted up 
revolutionary proclamations in the hospitals Ivanoff had 
founded for poor students, and the consequence was 
that these institutions were shut, and their conmiittees of 
management banished. Ivanoff was deeply grieved, and 
gave up his connection with the Association. Therefore, 
to make it impossible for him to betray them, Netchaieff 
and two other members of the Association, great friends 
of Ivanoff's, drew him on some friendly pretext into a 
quiet garden after night, and shot him dead with a 
revolver. This is an example of the methods by which 
fidelity and secrecy are sustained. Such societies may be 
founded, as Netchaieff's circular professes on confidence 
towards individuals, but exactly in proportion to the 
vitality of their need of mutual confidence is their 
liability to mutual suspicion. Their members move and 
have their daily being between two perils, the suspicion 
of the (Government, which is exile, and the suspicion of 
their own fellows, which is instant death. Steady 
submission to the discipline, the privation, the danger 
which nihilists live under, is certainly no fruit of mere 
intellectual frivolity that believes nothing, hopes nothing, 
respects nothing, admires nothing. 


I am, of course, for from disputing the influence of 
the intellectual solvents, to which Russian thought has 
been subjected for a generation, upon the present move- 
ment Without them, it may be freely acknowledged, 
the movement would probably never have come into 
being, but they would not have been able to produce it 
by themselves, apart from the political discontent, the 
political changes, and the political restlessness of the 
reign of the last Czar. Many causes combined to 
aggravate and spread under Alexander II. the discontent 
which had long slumbered under Nicholas. In the first 
place, Alexander II.'s reign was a reign of political 
reform, if, indeed, it ought not rather to be called, in 
the better sense, political revolution, for it is question- 
able whether any revolution ever carried through so 
many fundamental innovations with such extraordinary 
rapidity. The mind of the whole people, their 
thoughts, their talk, their expectations, their forebodings, 
were occupied continually with questions of radical 
reform; and it was inevitable that a considerable 
unsettling and upheaval of political opinion should 
attend the development of these changes. Some say 
nihilism has arisen, because these changes went too finst 
and too far ; and others say, because they did not 
go either finst or for enough ; while M. Anatole Leroy- 
Beaulieu, who has studied Russia profoundly, says that 
both views are right The Czar spread a spirit of disquiet 
by what he did, and he spread still more by what he left 
undone, and it was unavoidably so. By political 
changes, says M. Leroy-Beaulieu, a people may escape 
revolution, but they cannot escape the revolutionary 
spirit Great reforms create, both before they come and 


after they pass, a more or less deep-searching popular 
agitation. Besides, the transition necessarily causes 
considerable practical dislocations. It harasses some 
interests by superseding them, while it disappoints the 
excessive and inexperienced expectations of many others, 
and there has undoubtedly been a large accession to the 
malcontents of Russia from these inevitable effects of the 
recent reforms. But besides this, public opinion in 
Russia has grown up since the Crimean War into quite 
unwonted power and maturity, and naturally insists on 
some more formal organ for its expression, and for 
securing to it a due control over the course of national 
afiairs. The old grievances of bureaucratic domination 
are therefore brought now into a fiercer light than 
before, and encounter a state of public feeling which is 
much less willing to submit to them. In short, Russia 
has become at last sufficiently European to be moved by 
that wave of democratic sentiment before which all 
other European despotisms have been obliged to bow 
the head, and she is in reality now feice to &ce with the 
crisis of her conversion into a modem state. These 
points will require a little further elucidation, more 
especially the existence of harassed interests and classes, 
and the development of a public opinion, already power- 
ful enough to restrain the action of the Czar, and to 
assert itself against the bureaucracy. Nihilism is fed 
by this complex dissatisfaction, and is in fact but the 
form which such dissatisfiu^tion not unnaturally takes in 
the more volatile and ill-disciplined sections of a volatile 
and half-educated people. 

First, then, as to the ranks of the harassed and the 
discontented. Most of the nihilists, aj9 appears from 


their trials, are students, younger members of the small 
noblesse, sons and daughters of the clergy, or officials 
and professional men out of employ. Some of them 
belong indeed to the high nobility, princes who have 
lost court fevour, or have from genuine political motives 
joined their fortunes with the opposition, and who 
naturally assume a prominent and leading place in the 
movement Many more of them are Jews, smarting from 
Christian contumely, and determined perhaps, as Lord 
Beaconsfield says of the Jews in 1848, to avenge their 
hereditary sufferings by submerging Christendom in 
revolution. O. K. insists that nihilism is promoted by 
Jewish money, and by the countenance of foreign 
Governments, but she offers no good reason for her 
allegation. In Russia the Jews have not equal civil 
rights with the Christians, and they can hardly be 
expected to entertain any goodwill to an order of things 
which both by law and usage treats them with contemp- 
tuous dislike. But the main body of nihilist recruits 
are drawn from the classes I have mentioned, the 
students, the small nobility, the sons of the clergy, and 
the redundant frmctionaries. The small nobility were 
the class that suffered most from the serf emancipation. 
They were proprietors of a few serfs, who did all their 
labour, while they themselves held government offices. 
Before the great reign of Alexander II., these offices 
were in fiwjt practically occupied by members of this 
class alone. But now both these resources fEiiled 
them. Their serfe were freed, without compensation, 
and they had therefore to pay for the labour on their 
small property. And they no longer enjoyed an exclusive 


monopoly of the government offices. The door was 
opened to other classes^ and these classes thronged in. 
The great unemployed were thus multiplied on every side, 
for when once the way to civil employment was made 
smooth to all, many more pressed forward for admission 
than there were places for them to receive. The small 
nobility felt specially aggrieved, but the unsuccessful 
candidates from other classes were no happier in being 
left without a career. To make things worse, the army 
of officials who had managed the redistribution of the 
soil between the noblesse and their serfe, and the other 
details of the emancipation — the mediators, as they were 
termed — were naturally thrown on their own resources 
again, after that particular work was completed in 1870. 
Government felt that these mediators possessed certain 
claims, and tried to provide posts for as many of them 
as possible in the ordinary departments of public 
administration. If a mediator did not get a post he 
thought himself ill-used ; and if he did get one, why, 
then, some other person was kept out Either course 
increased the plethora of disappointed aspirants for 
official patronage who besieged the gate of ministers, 
and as they could not open the gate, they readily caught 
up a cry to pull down the walls. 

No class in the Empire supplies more recruits to the 
ranks of nihilism than the sons of the clergy. Some of 
the ecclesiastical colleges have been seed-beds of nihilism, 
and both at the universities and elsewhere many of the 
boldest and most active propagators of this desolating 
political and religious creed are sons of rural " popes." 
The popes of Russia have no legal privil^e, and no 
social position. They are poor, ill-educated, and treated 


with supercilious disdain, not only by the noblesse, but 
by the upper bourgeoisie ; and they have therefore no 
reason to cherish those conservative instincts which bind 
the clergy of so many other lands to the Crown and 
nobility. Their sons may be said accordingly to be 
nursed in an atmosphere, which, if not actually Radical, 
is yet strongly predisposing to Radicalism. They are 
always found among the boldest and most active 
partisans of nihilism at the schools and universities. 

The universities, and even the higher schools of 
Russia, possess as centres for the formation of opinion 
a political importance which they cannot acquire in a 
country of free institutions. The ardour of youth, the 
stimulus of ideas, the facilities of intercourse, all combine 
to make them a favourable recruiting ground for revolu- 
tionary movements, and eflTective centres for the 
propagation of revolutionary views. And in Russia 
during the last twenty years an important change has 
taken place in the personnel of the students at these 
institutions. Twenty years ago, 60 per cent, of them 
were sons of the noblesse, and only 40 per cent, sons of 
the functionaries, the lesser bourgeoisie, the clei^, and 
the peasantry. But to-day only 22 per cent, of them 
are sons of the noblesse, while 78 per cent, are sons of 
the other classes mentioned. (These figures are taken 
from a statistical report on the universities in a Russian 
professional journal, and are given by M. G. de 
Molinari in the Journal des Economistes for 1878.) 
The great majority of them are therefore men who have 
to make their way in the world for themselves ; and as 
M. Taine remarks, every man who has to make his way 
in the world is a Jacobin at starting. The prevailing 


spirit among Russian students is very Radical^ though, of 
course, some of them grow more moderate afterwards. 
Then the students have grievances of their own. 
Notwithstanding the Russian aptitude for language, the 
universities and high schools are ahnost always on the 
brink of sedition about Greek and Latin. The con- 
troversy between classicism and realism, as to the relative 
place which classics and science ought to occupy in 
education, is in the Russian universities a sore question 
of bread and butter, complicated with a question of 
political oppression. The standard of classical attain- 
ments requisite for a diploma seems to be pitched too 
high, either for the capacity of the teachers to impart 
them or of the pupils to acquire them, or for botii. An 
exceptionally large proportion of the candidates fiedl in 
Latin and Greek ; and since the curriculum is regulated 
by the minister of education, an aversion to these 
unpopular studies easily runs into sedition, and war is 
declared by the students, as has repeatedly been done 
within the last few years, upon what is described as ** the 
Moloch of autocracy.". This is, of course, one of the 
usual weaknesses of over-government Even where its 
intentions are righteous, it multiplies needlessly the 
occasions of political disaffection. Every petty 
grievance assumes a political complexion, and ill blood 
which is spent elsewhere in other channels turns its 
wrath straight at the head of the (Jovemment 

The peasantry have as yet sent few recruits to the 
nihilist ranks, but they are banning to send more. 
At most of the latest nihilist trials, some at least of the 
accused were peasants, or the sons of peasants, and if 
distress and discontent are the worst incentives to 


revolutioiiy then there is no doubt that the peasantry of 
Russia — taking one part of the country with another — 
are distressed and discontented in no ordinary degree. 
In a work recently published on the *' Bauerlichs 
Oemeinde-besitz in Bussland" Von Keussler gives us 
the results of a very careful study of their economical 
condition, and his statements may be relied on, because 
tiiey are based on official reports, and are entirely free 
from any partisan iiiterest. His account of their 
situation is this, that except in a few Governments the 
peasants are now very much worse off than they were 
before their emancipation. He does not attribute this, 
as is sometimes done, to any increase of drunkenness in 
consequence of freedom, because, as a matter of fact, 
drunkenness has not increased except in the immediate 
nei^bourhood of the few large cities. He attributes it 
to various reasons, but the most fundamental one is 
simply this, that the objects of the Emancipation Act 
have been defeated, and the popular benefits it was 
meant to yield have been largely neutralised in the 
process of its execution. To begin with, the peasants 
rarely got all the land they thought themselves entitled 
to, that is all they had previously possessed and cultivated ; 
their shares were usually clipped under one pretext or 
another for the advantage of their lords. But this, though 
now a sore ground of complaint, would not of itself have 
reduced them to the straits they at present suffer from or 
have excited the acute discontent they are beginning to 
manifest. Worse wrongs conspired with it. Nothing 
is of more vital value to small cultivators than grazing 
rights over common or forest land, and the Russian 
peasants have lost theirs since the emancipation. If 


they would not part with these rights willingly, they 
were made to part with them unwillingly. The Russian 
noblesse resorted to precisely the same policy as the 
English landlords practised with the yeomanry in the 
time of the Tudors. They kept on harassiog the 
peasantry perpetually, driving away their cattle or 
carrying them home to their own stalls, till the peasantry, 
finding that their share in the common cost them so much 
trouble and entailed so much waste of time in recovering 
the stolen beasts, were thankAil to sell it altogether 
for little better than an old song. The consequence of 
losing their grazing ground, however, was serious. 
Exactly as in the case of the Highland crofters, it was 
the first step in their economic decline. They were 
unable to keep the same number of cattle as they 
formerly kept; and not having the same amoimt of 
manure to bestow on their fields, their soil grew 
gradually exhausted^ and its yearly produce ceased to 
be adequate to the wants of the cultivator's house- 
hold. Hence the strange fact that the people are 
virtually over-crowded in a country with only nine 
femilies to. the square mile, and — what in the circum- 
stances is certainly not so strange — the growing ciy 
among the peasantry for more land to be cut fit>m 
the broad acres of the neighbouring noblesse, much of 
which, indeed, seems to have been their own by right, 
if the division under the Emancipation Act had only 
been equitably executed. 

This condition of things was still further aggravated 
by the general break-up of the old patriarchal joint- 
family system, which took place during the same period, 
and involved the subdivision of the paternal holding 


among the several sons and sons-in-law who used to live 
together with the father under the same roof, and whose 
several lots of land made up when combined a very 
considerable holding. This system was attended with 
so many economies in production and household expenses 
that its members were able to live in a kind of rude 
plenty. But the patriarchal household of Russia has 
departed, and with it has gone the large peasant 
farm. The consequence is that while the number 
of peasant holdings has, according to Keussler, 
'^enormously increased," their average size has much 
diminished, and recourse to a supplementary industry 
has become generally necessary. But Russia not being 
an industrial country, this supplementary industry is 
often &r to seek, and the peasant is therefore oblig€Kl to 
let his fium and emigrate, or to take what work he can 
get from the neighbouring noble on any terms the noble 
may choose to o£fer him. In the latter case, which is 
very common, he is practically as dependent, economi- 
cally, on his lord as he was before the Emancipation. 

To make matters worse, Russia, like every other great 
country, has added remarkably to its local taxation 
during the last twenty years ; and the public burdens on 
the land are said in the official reports, not only to 
have risen immensely, but to be in many districts 
"extremely oppressive." In fiwjt, in great part of 
the country they exceed the revenue of the land 
they are assessed on; and as the peasant pays taxes 
of every kind in proportion to the land he holds, 
the more land he has the poorer he becomes. Land- 
owning is reduced od absurdum when more is paid 
in taxes than is received in rent, and it becomes 


only a more intolerable form of serfdom when the 
owner cannot get quit of the land and must pay the 
burdens whether he draws any income or no. For 
example, the average rent of a peasant's share of land 
in the Wolost of Aleschino, in the Gk)vemment of 
Moscow, is 2 rbL 20 cop. ; in the Wolost of TJsmersk, 
in the same Government, it is 3 rbl. ; but the tairep 
in the former Wolost is 8 r. 60 c., and in the 
latter, 10 r. 50 c. It is not surprising that 30 per 
cent, of the peasant families of the former Wolost 
have had to give up farming, and that in 1879 there 
were arrears of taxes there to the extent of 16 r. 
a lot. We can easily understand, therefore, what 
^^Stepniak" mentioned in the Contemporary Review 
for September, 1883, that a peasant, instead of receiving 
a rent, often paid one to the tenant for taking the fium 
o£f his hands for the year. But though taxation has 
only reached this head in some Grovemments, it is 
severe and excessive in all, and can only be met without 
privation by the peasants who possess considerable 
portions of good land. It is aggravated, moreover, by 
the capricious and venal rule of the collectors. 

With a deteriorated agriculture and an increased 
taxation, the peasant properties have declined much in 
value; and except in districts passed through by railways, 
they have sunk much — ^in some Grovemments more than 
60 per cent. — below their original redemption price. 
Where this price has never been paid off, there is 
therefore little chance of it being paid off now ; and, in 
feet, it naturally seems to the peasant as if it were in 
the circumstances an injustice to extort it from him. 
Altogether Emancipation has at once increased the 

BtTSSIAK NimUSlI. 339 

grievances of the peasantry and transformed them firom 
grievances against landlords into grievances against the 
Imperial Government and its agents. The soil is thus 
laid for revolution, and the nihilists are not slow in 
lodging the seed. Their harvest, it is true, has not yet 
been very plenteous. The eighty million peasants seem 
to be as loyal and unquestioning worshippers of their 
£Gkther on earth, the Czar, as they have ever been ; but 
then they still expect him to be their deliverer, and 
believe that most of their evils have arisen from the 
late Czar's intentions being thwarted. Should, how- 
ever, this deliverance be delayed while their troubles go 
on growing, and, with increase of population, growing 
more abundantly, tiie kingdom of anarchy will be at 
hand. Russia is closely invested at present with social 
peril, and it is foolish to feign indifference to the cry 
of ^' Land and Liberty," which is now heard more and 
more frequently in the land, and which would be heard 
much oftener and much louder, too, but that the 
meetings which the peasants began to hold in the 
country churches for the purpose of agitating the 
question have been suppressed by the officers of the 

Bo frtr, then, of the distressed interests and classes ; 
now as to the more general causes of political dis- 
content and agitation. And first, the bureaucratic 
administration of the country has grown more objection- 
able than ever since the reforming epoch. Of all 
countries Russia, from its geographical extent and ito 
thin population, is the worst adapted for being governed 
well by a centnJised system, and yet no other countiy 
possesses so c^tndised an administration. The natural 


consequence is that its affairs are very ill-administerecL 
The bureaucracy has all the usual faults of bureaucracies, 
and has them more intensely. Its members are 
dictatorial, meddlesome and corrupt in the extreme. 
Leroy-Beaulieu says that Russia may be described as a 
despotism tempered by venality, for while nothing is 
exempt from State r^ulations and requirements, a 
certain alleviation of these may always be purchased by 
feeing an official Now the bureaucracy were opposed 
to the reforms. Knowing that these reforms were the 
beginning of an era which would end in the overthrow 
of their supremacy, they set themselves to render them 
as nugatory as possible. This only goaded the public 
mind by the sting of disappointment and heaped up the 
more wrath for the day of reckoning which is 
hastening on. For people felt that liberty had been given 
them by the one hand only to be taken back again 
by the other. They had received one after another 
the three most important popular institutions, 
a public and independent judicial system, a system 
of local self-government, and a free press. They had 
received them in name, but were practically denied their 
substance through the action of the bureaucracy. The 
judicial bench, the local boards, and the press are all 
over-ridden by the restrictions imposed upon them in 
doing their duty by the discretionary power reserved in 
the hands of the central executive auUiorities. A judge 
who shows signs of independence finds his position made 
uncomfortable to him, and even trial by jury is turned 
into a mere make-believe by the &ct that the govern- 
ment is not obliged to bring an accused person to open 
trial at all, but may send him to Siberia administratively 


for State reasons, which nobody has a right to challenge. 
Again, though all Russian subjects have been declared 
to be equal in the eyes of the law, the officials are 
practically treated as a privileged class. They are really 
subject to no l^al responsibility, partly because it is 
feared that the condemnation of a State functionary 
would tend to weaken the imperial authority, of which 
he is the incorporate representation, and partly because 
the bureaucracy have a class sentiment against bringing 
one another to punishment. Then the press may exist 
so long as it knows good alone of the government ; the 
moment it knows evil as well as good, it must surely die. 
The Oolos was suspended at the beginning of the late 
war for merely hinting that "society ought to take a 
direct share" in the preparations for so national an 
event; and about two years ago the same journal 
was deprived of the right of publishing advertise- 
ments for a certain period, merely because it made 
mention of the inconvenient circumstance that certain 
ecclesiastical dignitaries of the " Old Believers " were still 
lying in exile on account of their religious belief, and 
suggested that their release would be a fitting solemnity 
on the occasion of the celebration of the twenty-fifth 
anniversary of the Emperor's accession. To grant 
liberty of the press in principle and yet continually 
prevent or punish its exercise in practice is only to 
add the embitterment of mockery and insult to the 
previous embitterment of oppression. Then, as to local 
boards, the institution of them was a reform of the first 
importance. It was b^inning the growth of self- 
government at the right end. It is better to practise the 
people in the art of administration in their own particular 


sphere before entnisting them with a voice in imperial 
aflBurs through a national assembly. The contrary course 
has been productive of evil in France. But the new 
local boards of Russia possess in reality no independent 
initiative whatever^ and merely obey the dictates of the 
State officials of the district The reforms have thus ex- 
cited hopes only to disappoint them. Kosheleff declares 
that the state of affairs is positively worse in Russia since 
the reforms than it was before them. Mal-administration 
is rampant, and there exist no means whatever of 
bringing it to booL The circumstances of Russia, says 
Kosheleff, are less known in St Petersburg than those of 
France, England, or Germany, and the only cure, to his 
mind, is a universal or representative landed assembly, 
where disorders of every kind may be brought to open 
discussion and eventual correction. The radical evil of 
Russia is the misgovemment it endures at the hands of 
its bureaucratic administrators, and the only remedy 
is to supply the State with the usual modem organs ; 
to submit the processes of government to the control of 
public opinion in some effective way ; in short, to break 
down the autocracy of the Czar— of which, of course, the 
bureaucracy is but the necessary instrument — and 
establish the monarchy on a broader and more popular 

There are signs that this issue cannot be very long de- 
ferred An ind^>endent public opinion has been for many 
years ripening in Russia, and has more than once since 
the death of Nicholas broken out with sufficient energy 
and power to exert a positive influence on the course of 
events. The war with Turkey in 1877-8 showed for the 
first time in Russian history that the will of the people 


had become a real power in the direction of afiairs. The 
Czar and his mimsters were opposed to going to war^ 
for they knew the difficulties^ military and diplomatic^ 
which the step would involve ; but the popular 
enthusiasm, excited by the Slavophils and the Revolu- 
tionists together, was too strong for them to resist, and 
in the end they were obljged to yield. The nation had 
at length ventured to measure its strength with the 
Emperor and had overcome. It had taken the bit in 
its teeth and had discovered that the hand it used to 
quail under had lost its cunning and given it its own 
way. An experience like this makes a landmark in 
national life and cannot &il to have lasting and 
important consequences. The people gained a con- 
sciousness of its power, and will certainly be disposed 
hereafter to exercise it A new force has thus broken 
into the current of Russian politics, and statesmen 
must give it a weighty place in their future calculations. 
The will of the people, which has never counted for 
anything before, must count for much now ; and it will 
be strange indeed if the new era of popular institutions, 
which many Russian politicians have been long pointing 
to, can be much postponed. 

The end of the war had nearly as important bearings 
on the relations of the Czar and its people as its origin. 
Mettemich tells us that Alexander I. once asked Lord 
Grey how he could introduce a political opposition into 
Russia ; but his namesake and su&essor, Alexander IL, 
returned from a victorious war which covered him with 
no better glory than grey hairs, and found himself encom- 
passed with a whole l^on of political oppositions. One 
of the chief motives which stirred the Slavophil and 


revolutionary parties to preach a war of liberation 
abroad^ was the hope they cherished of obtaining, as 
one result fix)m it, some considerable measure of con- 
stitutional refonn at home. The Slavophils were con- 
fident that their great ambition — the uniting of the 
Slavonic States — would be realised by the war, but they 
expected at the same time th^t Slavonic unity would, 
like Italian unity, open the way for internal reconstruc- 
tion. Many of the Revolutionists, on the other hand, 
were not so certain of the omnipotence of the Czar's 
battalions and preferred to build their hopes on the 
contingency of his failure, which, they believed, would 
discredit him and his whole administration so much 
with his countrymen that he would be obliged, on his 
return, to make some popular concessions. The path of 
glory and the path of defeat seemed thus both likely to 
lead the Czar to divest himself of part of his unlimited 
power. The result disappointed and even mocked these 
hopes. The Czar could neither be said to have failed 
nor to have succeeded. His arms were victorious, but 
the fruit of victory was plucked from his very grasp by 
European diplomacy. The Slavophils watched with 
breathless interest the march of his triumphant forces 
on almost to the gates of Constantinople, and were 
deeply disappointed when the army stopped in obedience 
to European interposition just when they were already 
in their dreams seeing the cross wave fix>m St Sophia, 
and the Byzantine eagle set up again in its original home. 
They still hoped on, however, and made sure the mis- 
chance was only a temporary difficulty which the 
practical diplomacy of Gortschakoff would eventually 
clear away. But when they found that at the Berlin 


Congress, Russia assented to give up the great prize of 
her triumphant campaign they were roughly wakened 
from their dreams, and their rage knew no bounds. 
They directed the fiercest criticism against the adminis- 
tration, against the whole conduct of the war, and 
against the Czar himself. As usual, the stores had been 
deficient, and often uneatable ; the soldier's shoes had 
been soled with pasteboard instead of leather, so that 
thousands perished of cold in crossing the mountain 
snows. The troops were badly officered and badly 
armed. The officers were absolutely ignorant of the 
country they were attacking, and the men were armed 
with a gun so completely behind the age that it could 
not carry one-fourth the distance of the Turkish rifles. 
They declared that the Czar would have done better to 
have given in after the battle of Plevna than to have 
spent so much more blood to gain such poor results. 
They declared, moreover, that his heart had never been 
in the war from the first ; that he was afraid it might 
lead to constitutional changes at home ; and that his 
submission to European dictation, which they held to be 
in any case pusillanimous and dishonouring to the great- 
ness of Russia, really proceeded from a malevolent 
distrust of his people on the part of the Czar. They 
could no longer leave the prestige of their country in 
hands so faithless. The nation itself must take its 
own honour now into its own keeping, and assume 
some direct share in the management of public affairs. 
Laying their finger on the free constitution which the 
Czar helped to secure to the Bulgarians as one of the 
principal results of the war, and recalling his similar 
8^-vices towards the liberation of Servia and Roumania 

336 RUSSIAN mniLisM. 

on former occasions^ they aaked^ with a force which it 
was difficult to parry, whether these constitutions were 
to be treated in Russia as articles of export only, and 
whether Russians were to go on for ever spending their 
blood and treasure in procuring benefits for others which 
were denied to themselves. 

Now nothing is more natural than that a public 
opinion which has reached such maturity as that of 
Russia has now attained, should seek to have a more 
formal organ for its expression, and nothing is more 
inevitable than that it must sooner or later obtain it. 
For opinion which is ahready strong enough to control 
the will of the Emperor without a constitution is strong 
enough also to coerce him into conceding one. No 
doubt the question of a constitution for a country so 
extensive and embracing so many diverse races, most of 
them still half barbarous, is in any circumstances a 
subject of much perplexity and demanding most serious 
consideration ; and the Czar may feel that it would be a 
step of very doubtful policy at the present time, when the 
revolutionary spirit is so rampant among his subjects. 
Such hesitation is not surprismg, but still it cannot be 
justified on reflection. Seditious agitations have ac- 
companied every popular movement for constitutional 
reform in all countries, and have always been appealed to 
by the advocates of the Conservative policy as proofe of 
the danger of conceding the clahns advanced ; and yet, 
when the reform has been granted, the seditions have 
invariably vanished. 

The reason of this is very simple. A party of violence 
and extreme principles can only thrive in the warmth of 
the countenance lent it by the less demonstrative 


disaffection of the more moderate members of society, 
and it always withers away when the latter classes are 
satisfied by timely concessions. Procrastination only 
swells, instead of mitigating, the revolutionary spirit, for 
it but prolongs the political unrest from which that 
spirit is thrown off. The nihilists of Russia are merely 
the extremer and more volatile minds who have been 
touched by the impact of the present upheaval. They 
are the spray and the foam which curls and roars on the 
ridge of the general political movement which has been 
for years rolling over Russia, and their whole real 
importance is borrowed from the volume and momentum 
of the wave that bears them up. Folly, it has been 
said, is always weak and ridiculous till wisdom joins it, 
and the excesses of nihilism, if they stood alone, could 
not be the source of any formidable danger. But they 
do not stand alone. They flame out of an atmosphere 
overcharged with social discontent and political disaffec- 
tion. The acquittal of Vera Sassulitch was received with 
imdisguised gratification by press and people ; Mirsky was 
a popular hero; and the worst deeds of the nihilists meet 
with indulgent, if not approving, criticism in general 
society. One writer, familiar with Russia, assures us that 
it was no uncommon thing to hear serious men say, 
"Assassination is execrable, but — ;" and another 
mentions that he haa heard a high lady in St Petersburg 
declare in a large company, in presence of her daughter, 
that Vera Sassulitch was a great citizen and that she 
would be proud if one of her daughters had done the 
like. Nihilism ought therefore to be regarded less as a 
specific disease in itself than as the secondary symptoms 
accompanying vice in the general system, and it can be 



best treated indirectly by measures of agrarian ameliora- 
tion, and by the substitution of popular for bureaucratic 
government. The cry, " land and liberty," undoubtedly 
represents two broad and real wants of the whole 
Russian nation, and revolutionary elements will never 
cease to rage till these essential wants of a modern 
people are approximately realised. 



The renewal of the socialist agitation has not been 
unproductive of advantage, for it has led to a general 
recognition that the economical position of the people 
is far from satisfactory and is not free from peril, 
and that industrial development, on the lines on 
which it has hitherto been running, offers much less 
prospect than was at one time believed of effecting 
any substantial, steady, and progressive improvement 
in their condition. It is only too manifest that the 
immense increase of wealth which has marked the 
present century has been attended with surprisingly ^ 
little amelioration in the general lot of the people, and 
it is in no way remarkable that this &ct should tend 
to dishearten the labouring classes, and fill reflecting 
minds with serious concern. Under the influence of 
this experience economists of the present day meet 
socialism in a very different way from Bastiat and the 
economists of 1848. They entertain no longer the same 
absolute confidence in the purely beneficent character of 
the operation of the principles at present guiding the 
process of industrial evolution, or in the sovereign 
virtue of competition, unassisted and uncorrected, as 


an agency for the distribution as well as the production 
of wealth ; and they no longer declare that there is not 
and cannot possibly be a social question. On the 
contrary, some of them take almost as unfavourable a 
view of the road we are on as the socialists themselves. 
Mr Cairaes, who, with the solitary exception of Mill, is 
perhaps the ablest English economist since Smith, says : 
" The fimd available for those who live by labour tends, 
in the progress of society, while growing actually larger, 
to become a constantly smaller fraction of the entire 
national wealth. If, then, the means of any one class 
of society are to be permanently limited to this fund, it 
is evident, assuming that the progress of its members 
keeps pace with that of other classes, that its material 
condition in relation to theirs cannot' but decline. Now, 
as it would be fiitile to expect, on the part of the 
poorest and most ignorant of the population, self- 
denial and prudence greater than that actually practised 
by the classes above them, the circumstances of whose 
life are so much more favourable than theirs for the 
cultivation of these virtues, the conclusion to which I 
am brought is this, that unequal as is the distribution 
of wealth already in this country, the tendency of 
industrial progress — on the supposition that the present 
separation between industrial classes is maintained — ^is 
towards an inequality greater still. The rich will be 
growing richer ; and the poor, at least relatively, poorer. 
It seems to me, apart altogether from the question of 
the labourer's interest, that these are not conditions 
which furnish a solid basis for a progressive social state ; 
but having regard to that interest, I think the con- 
siderations adduced show that the first and indispensable 


step towards any serious amendment of the laborer's 
lot is that he should be, in one way or other, lifted out 
of the groove in which he at present works, and placed 
in a position compatible with his becoming a shiurerin 
equal proportion with others in the general advantages 
arising from industrial progress." (" Leading Principles," 
p. 340.) He thinks it beyond question that the condition 
of the labouring population is not so linked to the 
progress of industrial improvements that we may count 
on it rmingparH passu with that progress ; because, in the 
first place, the labourer can only benefit from industrial 
inventions which cheapen commodities that enter into his 
expenditure, and the bulk of his expenditure is on 
agricultural products, which are prevented from being 
cheapened by the increase of population always increaeong 
the demand for them; and, second, the labourer is 
practically more and more divorced fitjm the control of 
capital, and reduced to the position of a recipient of 
wages, and there is no tendency in wages to grow pari 
pa^ssu with the growth of wealth, because the demand 
for labour, on which, in the last analysis, the rate of 
wages depends, is always in an increasing degree 
supplied by inventions which dispense with labour. He 
is thus debarred from participating in the advantages of 
industrial progress either as consumer or as producer ; 
as consumer, by over-population, as producer, by his 
divorce frx>m capital Mr Caimes, like most economists, 
differs from socialists in thinking that the first requisite 
for any material improvement in the condition of 
the labouring classes lies in effective restraints on 
population, but he says that " even a very great change 
in the habits of the labouring classes as bearing upon 


the increase of population — a change hi greater than 
there seems any solid ground for expecting — ^would be 
ineffectual^ so long as the labourer remains a mere 
receiver of wages, to accomplish any great improvement 
in his state ; any improvement at all commensurate with 
what has taken place and may be expected hereafter to 
take place in the lot of those who derive their livelihood 
from the profits of capital" (p. 335). Here he is 
entirely at one with socialists in believing that tlie only 
surety for a sound industrial progress lies in checking tlie 
further growth of capitalism by the encouragement of co- 
operative production, which, by furnishing the labouring 
classes with a share in the one fund that grows with 
tlie growth of wealth, the fund of capital, offers them 
^' the sole means of escape from a harsh and hopeless 
destiny " (p. 338). Mr Caimes, then, agrees with the 
socialists in declaring that the position of the wage 
labourer is becoming less and less securely linked with 
the progressive improvement of society, and that the 
only hope of the labourer's future lies in his becoming a 
capitalist by virtue of co-operation ; only, of course, he is 
completely at issue wit^ them in regard to the means 
by which this change is to be effected, believing that 
its introduction by the direct intervention of the State 
would be unnecessary, ineffectual, and pernicious. 

I am disposed to think that Mr Caimes takes too 
despondent a view of the possibilities of progress that 
are comprised in the position of the wage labourer, but 
it is precisely that view that has lent force to the 
socialist criticism of the present order of things, and to 
the socialist calls for a radical transformation by State 
agency. The main charges brought by socialists against 


the existing econolAy are the three following, all of 
which, they allege, are consequences of the capitalistic 
management of industry and unr^ulated competition : — 
1st, that it tends to reduce wages to the minimum 
required to give the labourer his daily bread, and that 
it tends to prevent them from rising above that 
minimum ; 2nd, that it has subjected the labourer's life 
to innumerable vicissitudes, made trade insecure^ 
mutable and oscillatory, and created relative over- 
population ; and, 3rd, that it enables and even forces the 
capitalist to rob the labourer of the whole increase of 
value which is the fruit of his labour. These are the 
three great heads of their philippic against modem 
society : the hopeless oppression of the '' iron and 
cruel law " of necessary wages, the mischief of incessant 
crises and changes and o^the chaotic regime of chance, 
and the iniquity of capital in the light of their doctrine 
of value. Let us examine them in their order. 

I. Socialists found their first charge partly on their 
interpretation of the actual historical tendency of things, 
and partly on the teaching of Ricardo and other 
economists on natural wages. Now, to begin with the 
question of historical fact, the efiect which has been 
produced by the large system of production on the 
distribution of wealth and the general condition of the 
working class, is greatly misconceived by them. So fer 
as the distribution of wealth is concerned, the principal 
difference that has occurred may be described as the 
decadence of the lower middle classes, a decline both in 
the number of persons in proportion to population who 
ei\joy intermediate incomes, and also in the relative 
amount of the average income they eiyoy. Their 


individual income may be higher than that of the 
correspopding class 150 or 200 years ago, but it bears a 
less ratio to the average income of the nation. The 
reason of this decline is, of course, obvious. The 
yeomanry, once a seventh of our population, and the 
small masters in trade have gradually given way before 
the economical superiority of the large capital or other 
causes, and modem industry has as yet produced no other 
class that can, by position and numbers, fill their room ; 
for though, no doubt, the great industries call into being 
auxiliary industries of various kinds, which are still best 
managed on the small scale by independent tradesmen, 
the number of middling incomes which the greater 
industries have thus contributed to create has been far 
short of the number they have extinguished. The same 
causes have, of course, exerci^ very important effects 
on the economic condition of the working class. They 
have reduced them more and more to the permanent 
position of wage-labourers, and have left them relatively 
fewer openings than they once possessed for investing 
their savings in their own line, and fewer opportunities 
for the abler and more intelligent of them to rise to a com- 
petency. This want may perhaps be ultimately supplied 
under existing industrial conditions by the modem system 
of co-operation, which combines some of the advantages 
of the small capital with some of the advantages of the 
large, though it lacks one of the chief advantages of both, 
the energetic, uncontrolled initiative of the individual 
capitalist But at present, at any rate, it is premature 
to expect this, and as things stand, many of the old 
pathways that linked class with class are now closed 
without being replaced by modem substitutes, and 


working men are more purely and permanently wage- 
labourers than they used to be. But while the wage- 
labourer has perhaps less chance than before of becoming 
anything else, it is a mistake to suppose, as is sometimes 
done, that he is worse off, or even, as is perhaps invari- 
ably imagined, that he has a less share in the wealth of the 
country than he had when the wealth of the country was 
less. On the contrary, the position of the wage-labourer 
is really better than it has been for three hundred years. 
If we turn to the period of the English Revolution, we 
find that the income which the labourer and his family 
together were able to earn was habitually insufficient to 
maintain them in the way they were accustomed to live. 
Sir M. Hale, in his "Discourse touching the Poor," 
published in 1683, says the family of a working man, 
consisting of husband, wife, and four children, could not 
be supported in meat, drink, clothing, and house-rent 
on less than lOs. a week, and that he might possibly be 
able to make that amount, if he got constant employ- 
ment, and if two of his children, as well as their mother, 
could earn something by their labour too. Gr^ory 
King classifies the whole labouring population of the 
country in his time, except a few thousand skilled 
artisans, among the classes who decrease the wealth of 
the country, because, not earning enough to keep them, 
they had to obtain occasional allowances fi^om public 
funds. We do well to grieve over the pauperism that 
exists now in England. A few years ago, one person 
in every twenty received parochial support, and one in 
thirty does so yet. These figures, of course, refer to 
those in receipt of relief at one time, and not to all who 
received relief during a year. But for Scotland we have 



statistics of both, and the latter come as nearly as 
possible to twice as many as the former. If the same 
proportion rules in England, then every fifteenth person 
receives relief in the course of the year. But in Eing^s 
time, outof a population of five millions and a-haL^ 600,000 
were in receipt of alms, i.e., more than one in ten ; and if 
their children under 16 years of age were included, their 
number would amount to 900,000, or one in six. Now, 
while the labourers' wages were then, as a rule, unequal 
to maintain them in the way they lived, we know that 
their scale of living was much below that which is 
common among their class to-day. The only thing 
which was much cheaper then than now was butcher 
meat, mutton being only 2d. a lb., and beef, 1 Jd. ; but 
half the population had meat only twice a week, and a 
fourth only once. The labourer lived chiefly on bread 
and beer, and bread was as dear as it is now. Potatoes 
had not come into general use. Butter and milk 
were cheaper than now, but were not used to the same 
extent. Fuel, light, and clothing were all much dearer, 
and salt was so much so as to form an appreciable 
element in the weekly bill. When so many of the 
staple necessaries of life were high in price, the labourer's 
wages naturally could not afford a meat diet. Nothing 
can furnish a more decisive proof of the rise in the real 
remuneration of the wage-labourer since the Revolution 
than the fact that the wages of that period were 
insufficient to maintain the lower standard of comfort 
prevalent then, without parochial aid, while the wages 
of the same classes to-day are generally able to maintain 
their higher standard of comfort without such supple- 
mentary assistance. Then the hours of labour were 



longer ; the de^ih rate in London was 1 in 27^ in place 
of 1 in 40 now; and all those general advantages of 
advancing civilization, which are the heritage of all, 
were either absent or much inferior. 

These fiicts sufficiently show that if the rich have got 
richer since the Revolution, the poor have not got poorer, 
and that the circumstances of the laboiuing class 
have substantially improved with the growth of national 
wealth. But not only so ; there is also some reason for 
thinking that the improvement has been as near as 
may be proportional with the increase of wealth. The 
general impression is the reverse of this. It is usual to 
hear it said that while the labourers' circumstances 
have undoubtedly improved absolutely, they have not 
improved relatively, as compared with the progress in 
the wealth of the country and the share of it which 
other classes have succeeded in obtaining. But this 
impression must be qualified, if not entirely rejected, on 
closer examination. Data exist by which it can be to 
some extent tested, and these data show that while 
considerable alterations have been made in the distri- 
bution of wealth since the rise of the great industries, 
these alterations have not been un&vourable to the 
labouring classes, but that the proportion of the wealth 
of the country which falls to the working man to-day is 
very much the same — is indeed rather better than worse — 
than the proportion which fell to his share two hundred 
years ago. Gregory King made an estimate of the dis- 
tribution of wealth among the various classes of society 
in England in 1688, founded partly on the poll-books, 
hearth-books, and other official statistical records, and 
partly on personal observation and inquiry in the several 


towns and counties of England; and Dr C. Davenant, 
who says he had carefully examined King's statistics 
himself, checking them by calculations of his own and by 
the schemes of other persons, pronounces them to be "very 
accurate and more perhaps to be relied on than anything 
that has been ever done of a like kind." Now, a 
comparison of King's figures with the estimate of the 
distribution of the national income made by Mr Dudley 
Baxter from the returns of 1867, will aiford some sort 
of idea — though of course only approximately, and 
perhaps not very closely so — of the changes that have 
actually occurred King takes the femily income as 
flbie unit of his calculations. Baxter, on the other hand, 
specifies all bread-winners separately — ^men, women, and 
children ; but to furnish a basis of comparison, let us 
take the men as representing a family each, and if so, 
that would give us 4,006,260 working class families in 
the country in 1867. This is certainly a high estimate 
of their number, because in 1871 there were only five 
million of families in England; and according to the 
calculations of Professor Leone Levi, the working class 
comprises no more than two-thirds of the population, 
and would consequently consist in 1871 of no more than 
3,300,000 families. If we were to take this figure as 
the ground of our calculations, the result would be 
still more striking; but let us take the number of 
working class families to have been four millions m 
1867. The average income of a working class family in 
King's time was £12 12s. (including his artisan and 
handicraft families along with the other labourers); the 
average income of a working class family now is £81. 
The average income of English fianilies generally in 


Eang's time was £32 ; the average income of English 
families generally now is £162. The average income of 
the comitry has thus increased five-fold, while the average 
income of the working class has increased six and a half 
times. The ratio of the working class income to the 
general income st.ood in King's time as 1 : 2^, and now 
as 1 : 2. In 1688, 74 per cent, of the whole population 
belonged to the working class, and they earned 
collectively 26 per cent, of the entire income of the 
country ; in 1867 — ^according to the basis we have 
adopted, though the proportion is Uoubtless really less — 
80 per cent, of the whole population belong to the 
working class, and they earn collectively 40 per cent, of 
the entire income of the country. Their share of the 
population has increased 6 per cent ; their share of the 
income 14 per cent. 

Now, I am far from adducing these considerations with 
the view of suggesting that the present condition of the 
working classes or the present distribution of wealth is 
even approxhnately satisfactory, but I think they ought to 
be sufficient to disperse the gloomy apprehensions which 
trouble many minds as if, with all our national prosperity, 
the condition of the poorer classes were growing ever 
worse and could not possibly, under existing industrial 
conditions, grow any better ; to prevent us from prema- 
turely condemning a system of society, whose possibilities 
for answering the legitimate aspirations of the working 
class are so far from being exhausted, that it may rather 
be said that a real beginning has hardly as yet been made 
to accomplish them ; and to give ground for the hope 
that the existing economy, which all admit to be a most 
efficient instrument for the production of wealtli, may by 


wise correction and management, be made a not inade- 
quate agency for its distribution. 

The socialists are not more fortunate in their argument 
from the teaching of economists than in their account of 
the actual &cts and tendency of history. The *' iron and 
cruel law" of necessary wages is, as expounded by 
economists, neither so iron nor so cruel as Lassalle 
represented it to be. They taught that the price of labour, 
like the price of everything else, tended to settle at the 
level of the relative cost of its production, and that the 
cost of its production meant the cost of producing the 
subsistence required to maintain the labourer in working 
vigour and to rear his fiEkmily to continue the work of 
society after his day, but they always represented this as 
a minimum below which wages would not permanently 
settle, but above which they might from other causes 
remain for a continuity considerably elevated, and which, 
even as a minimum, was in an essential way ruled by the 
consent of the labouring classes themselves and dependent 
on the standard of living they chose habitually to adopt. 
If the rate of wages were forced down below the amount 
necessary to maintain that customary standard of living, 
the marriage rate of the labouringclasseswould tend to &11 
and the rate of mortality to rise till the supply of labour 
diminished sufficiently to restore the rate of wages to its 
old level. And, conversely, if the price of labour rose 
above that limit the marriage rate among the labouring 
class would tend to rise and the rate of mortality to fell, 
till the numbers of the working population increased to 
such an extent as to bring it down again. But the rate 
of marriage depended on the will and consent of the 
labouring class, and their consent was supposed to be 


given or withheld according as they themselves considered 
the current wages suflBcient or insufficient to support a 
femily upon. The amount of the labourer's " necessary " 
subsistence was never thought to be a hard and £Etst 
limit inflexibly fixed by physical conditions. It was 
not a bare living ; it was the living which had become 
customary or was considered necessary by the labourer. 
Its amount might be permanently raised, if in consequence 
of a durable rise of wages a higher standard of comfort 
came to be habitual and to be counted essential, and the 
addition so made to it would then become as real an 
element of natural or necessary wages in the economical 
sense as the rest. Its amount might also permanently 
fall, if the laboiu^rs ceased to think it necessary and 
contentedly accommodated their habits to the reduced 
standard, and there might thus ensue a permanent 
degradation of the labourer, such as took place in Ireland 
in the present century, when the labouring class adjusted 
themselves to reduction after reduction till their lower 
standard of living served, in the first place, to operate as 
an inducement to marriage instead of a check on it, 
because marriage could noj; make things worse and at 
least lightened the burdens of life 'by the sympathy that 
shared them ; and served, in the second place, to impair 
the industrial efficiency of the labourer till he was hardly 
worth better wages if he could haVe got them. So &r 
then was the doctrine of economists^from involving any 
" iron or cruel '* limit that they aiwaja df ew from it the 
lesson that it was in the power of the labouring classes 
to elevate themselves by the pleasant, if somewhat 
paradoxical, expedient of first enlarging their scale of 
expenditure. " Pitch your standard of comfort high and 


your income will look after itself/' is scarcely an onfiEdr 
description of the rule of prudent imprudence they 
inculcated on working people. They believed that the 
chief danger to which that class was exposed was their 
own excessive and too rapid multiplication, and they 
considered the best protection against this danger to lie 
in the powerful preventive of a high scale of habitual 

Moreover, Ricardo distinctly maintained that though 
the natural rate of wages was determined as he had 
explained, yet the operation of that natural law might 
be practically suspended in a progressive community for 
an indefinite period, and that the rate of wages actually 
given might even keep on advancing the whole time, 
because capital was capable of increasing much more 
rapidly than population. The price of labour, he taught, 
would in that case be always settled by the demand for 
it which was created by the accumulation of capital, and 
the sole condition of the accumulation of capital was the 
productive power of labour. The rate of wages in a 
progressive community might therefore almost never be 
in actual fact determined by this " iron and cruel law " 
at all, and so there is not the smallest ground for 
representing economists as teaching that the present 
system compels the rate of wages or the labour^'s 
renumeration to hover to and fro over the margin of 

Lassalle, then, built his agitation on a combination of 
errors. He was wrong in his interpretation of the 
tendency of actual historical development; he was wrong 
in his interpretation of the doctrine of economists ; and 
now, to complete the confusion, that doctrine is itaelf 


wrong. One strong objection to it is stated by Marx. 
He says that in the course of the 15 or 20 years required 
for population to readjust itself, so as to restore the 
normal level of wages, the price of labour would really 
have risen and fallen and risen again in consequence of 
the operation of the general causes that influence the 
industrial cycle; and I cannot refrain from expressing 
surprise that while he is sensible that Bicardo's law is 
not a complete explanation of the phenomena of wages, 
he should yet continue to build any part of his argument 
upon it as if it were. If we are at all to distinguish a 
natural or normal rate of wages from the fluctuating rates 
of the market, that natural or normal rate will be found 
really to depend, not on the cost of producing subsist- 
ence, but on the amount or rate of general production, 
or the amount of production ^er capita in the community, 
or, in other words, on the average productivity of labour. 
It is manifest that this would be so in a primitive 
condition of society in which industry was as yet 
conducted without the intervention of a special employ- 
ing class, for then the wages of labour would consist of 
its product, and be in fact, as Smith says, only another 
name for it. It would depend, however, not exclusively 
on the individual labourer's own eflficiency, but also on 
the fertility of the soil and the general efficiency of the 
rest of the labouring community. While according to his 
own efficiency he would possess a greater or smaller 
stock of articles, which, after providing for his own 
wants, he might exchange for other articles produced by 
his neighbours ; the quantity he would get in exchange 
for them would be great or small according to the degree 
of his neighbour's efficiency. The average real remunera- 



tion of labour, or the average rate of wages, in such a 
community would therefore correspond with the average 
productivity of its labour. But the same principle holds 
good in the more complex organisation of industrial 
society that now exists, though its operation is more 
difiBcult to trace. 

The price of labour is now determined by a struggle 
between the labourer and the employer, and the fortunes 
of the struggle move between two very real, if not very 
definitely marked, limits, the lower of which is con- 
stituted by the smallest amount which the labourer can 
afford to take, and the higher by the largest amount 
which the employer can afford to give. The former is 
determined by the amount necessary to support life, and 
the latter by the amount necessary to secure an adequate 
profit. Now the space between these two limits will be 
always great or small in proportion to the general 
productivity of labour in the community. The general 
productivity of labour acts upon the rate of wages in 
two ways, immediately and mediately. Immediately 
because, as is manifest, efficient labour is worth more to 
the employer than inefficient ; and mediately, as I shall 
presently show, because it conduces to a greater diversion 
of wealth for productive purposes, and so increases the 
general demand for labour. In modem society, as in 
primitive, the labourer not only obtains a higher 
remuneration if he is efficient himself, but gathers a 
higher remimeration from the efficiency of his neighbours. 

The proximate demand for labour is, of course, capital, 
but the amount of capital which a community tends to 
possess — in other words the amount of wealth it tends 
to detach for industrial investment — bears a constant 


relaidon to the amount of its general production. There 
is a disposition among economists to speak of the quantity 
of a nation's savings, as if it was something given and 
complete that springs up independently of industrial 
conditions, and as irrespectively of the purpose to which 
it is to be applied as the number of eggs a fowl lays or 
the amount of fruit a tree bears. But, in reality, it is not 
so. The amount of a nation's savings is no affair of 
chance ; it is governed much more by commercial reasons 
than is sometimes supposed. It is no sufficient account 
of the matter to say that men save because they have a 
disposition to save, because there is a strong cumulative 
propensity in the national character. They save because 
they think to get a profit by saving, and the point at 
which the nation stops saving is the point at which this 
expectation ceases to be gratified, the point at which 
enough has been accumulated to occupy the entire field 
of profitable investment which the community offers at 
the time. Some part of a nation's savings will always 
have originated in a desire to provide security for the 
future, but, as this part is less subject to fluctuation, it 
exercises less influence in determining the extent of the 
whole than the more variable part, which is only saved 
when there is sufficient hope of gain fix)m investing it. 
Now the field for profitable investment is, of course, the 
aggregate production of commodities under another 
aspect, for the supply of one thing is the demand from 
another. In a community of high productivity the 
whole build of the industrial system is larger, and 
capital, which is vitally connected with it, bears the 
general proportion of the whole. There may be said. to 
be a natural amount of capital in a country, in at leaat 


as trae a sense as there is a natural price of labonr, or a 
natural price of commodities. Capital has its bounds 
in the general industrial conditions and stature of the 
community, but it moves and answers these conditions 
with much more elasticity than the wage fund theory 
used to acknowledge. It is, as Hermann said, a mere 
medium of conveyance between consumer and consumer, 
and has its size decreed for it by the quantities it has 
to convey. The general demand for commodities is a 
demand for capital. It creates the expectation of profit 
which capital is diverted from expenditure to gratify, and 
since it is itself in another aspect the general supply of 
commodities, it furnishes the possibilities for meeting 
the demand for capital which it creates. This whole 
argument may seem to be reasoning in a circle or wheeling 
round a pivot, and so in a sense it may be, for the wheel 
of industry is circular. The rate of wages depends on 
the demand for labour ; the demand for labour depends 
on the amount of capital ; the amount of capital depends 
on the aggregate production of and demand for 
commodities ; and the amount of aggregate production 
depends on the average productivity of labour. It is 
but a more circuitous way of saying the same thing as 
the older economists said, when they declared the rate of 
wages to depend on the supply of capital, as compared 
with population, but it shows that the supply of capital 
is a more elastic element than they conceived, that it 
adjusts and re-adjusts itself more easily and sensitively 
to industrial conditions, including perhaps even those 
of population, and that it is governed in a very real 
way by the great primary &ctor that determines the 
whole size and scale of the industrial system in all its 


parts, the general productivity of labour. Taking <Hie 
country with another the rate of wages will be found to 
observe a certain proportion to the amount of production 
per ayrita in the community. 

This view will be confirmed by a comparison of the 
actual rates of wages prevalent in different countries. 
Sir Thomas Brassey has published an important body of 
positive evidence tending to show that the cost of labour 
is the same all over the world, that for the same wages 
get everywhere the same work, and that the higher you 
price of labour in some countries than in others is simply 
due to its higher efficiency. Mr Caimes, who did not 
accept this conclusion unconditionally, had, however, 
himself previously estimated that a day's labour in 
America produced as much as a day and a third's in 
Great Britain, to a day and a half s in Belgium, a day 
and three fourth's or two days' in France and Qermany, 
and to five days' labour in India. Now, when due 
regard is had for the influence of special historical 
circumstances, it will be found that the rate of wages 
observes very similar proportions in these several 
countries. In America it is higher than the relative 
productivity of the country would explain, because a 
new country with boundless natural resources creates a 
permanently exceptional demand for labour; because 
the fEU^ilities with which land can be acquired and 
wrought, even by men without previous agricultural 
training, affords a ready correction to temporary re- 
dundancies of labour ; and because the labour itself is 
more mobile, versatile, and eneigetic in a nation laigely 
composed of immigrants. Other modifying influences 
also interfere to preclude the possibility of a predoe 


correspondence between national rates of wages and 
national amounts of production per capita, for different 
countries vary much in the extent of the fixed capital 
they employ to economise personal labour. But enough 
has been said to show that, if a natural rate of wages is 
to be sought at all, it must be looked for, not in the cost 
of the production of subsistence, but in the rate of the 
production of conmiodities ; and while the standard of 
of living and the price of labour tend to some extent to 
keep one another up, the higher standard of living 
prevalent among labourers in some countries is a 
consequence much more than a condition of the higher 
rate of wages, which the higher productivity of labour 
in those countries occasions. 

There is therefore no ground for Lassalle's repre- 
sentation that the law of necessary wages condemns 
ninety-six persons in every hundred to an existence 
of hopeless misery to enable the other four to ride 
in luxury. The principles that govern the rate 
of wages are much more flexible than he supposed, 
and the experience of trade unions has sufliciently 
demonstrated that it is within the power of the wage- 
labourers themselves to effect by combination a material 
increase in the price of their labour. Trade unions 
have taken away the shadow of despondency that lay 
over the hired labourer's lot Their margin of effective 
operation is strictly limited ; still such a margin exists, 
and they have turned it to account They have put the 
labourer in a position to hold out for his price ; they 
have converted the question of wages from the question, 
how little the labourer can afford to take, into the 
question, how much the employer can afford to give. 


They have been able, in trades not subject to foreign 
competition, to effect a permanent rise in wages at the 
expense of prices, and they can probably, in all trades, 
succeed in keeping the rate of wages well up to its 
superior limit, viz., to the point at which, while 
the skilful employers might still afford to give more, 
the unskilful could not do so without ceasing to 
conduct a profitable business and being driven out of 
the field altogether. For unskilful management tells as 
ill on wages as inefficient labour. On the other hand 
high wages, like many other difficult conditions, 
undoubtedly tend to develop skilful management The 
employer is put on his mettle and all his administrative 
resource is called into action and keen play. They 
who, like socialists, inveigh against this modem despot, 
ought to reflect how much less possible it would 
have been for wages to have risen, if industry had been 
in the hands of hired managers who were not put to 
their mettle, because they had no personal stake in the 
result. It must not be forgotten, however, that while 
trade unions are able to keep the rate of wages up to 
its superior limit, they have no power to raise that limit 
itself. This can only be done by an increase in the 
general productivity of labour, and, in fact, the action of 
trade unions could not have been so effective as it has 
been, unless the high production of the country afforded 
them the conditions for success. And since, in conse- 
quence of their action and vigilance, the rate of wages 
in the trades they represent may be now taken as usually 
standing close to its superior limit, the chief hope of 
any further substantial improvement in the future must 


now be placed in the posaibility of raising that limit by 
an increased productivity. 

Of this the prospect is really considerable and promis- 
ing. Of course labourers will never benefit to the full from 
improvements in the productive arts, until by some 
arrangement, or by many arrangements, they are made 
sharers in industrial capital ; but they will benefit from 
these improvements, though in less measure, even as pure 
wage-labourers. Their unions will be on the watch to pre- 
vent the whole advantage of the improvement from going 
towards a reduction of the price of the commodity they 
produce, and such reduction in the price of the commodity 
as actually takes place will enable its consumers to spend 
BO much the more of their means on commodities made 
by other labourers, and to that extent to increase the 
demand for the labour of the latter. But the field from 
which I expect the most direct and extensive harvest to 
the working class is the development of their own 
personal efficiency. At present neither employers nor 
labourers seem fully alive to the resources which this 
field is capable of yielding, if it were wisely and fistirly 
cultivated. Both classes are often so bent on immediate 
advantage that they lose sight of their real and enduring 
interest It is doubtful whether employers are more slow 
to see how much inadequate remuneration and uncomfort- 
able circumstances impairefficiency and retard production, 
or labourers to perceive how much limiting the general 
rate of production tends to reduce the general rate of 
wages. In labour requiring mainly physical strength, 
contractors sufficientiy appreciate the &ct that their 
navvies must be well fed if they are to stand to their 
work, and that an extra shilling a day makes a material 


difference in the output But in all forms of skilled 
labour, likewise, analogous conditions prevail. Just as 
slave labour is inefficient because it is reluctantly given, 
and is wanting in the versatility and resourcefulness that 
comes from general intelligence, so is free labour less 
efficient or more efficient in exact proportion to its 
fertility of resource and to the hopefulness and cheerfril- 
ness with which it is exerted ; and both conditions are 
developed in the working class in precise ratio with 
their general comfort The intelligent workman takes 
less time to learn his trade, needs less superintendence 
at his work, and is less wasteftd of materials ; and the 
cheerful workman, besides these merits, expends more 
energy with less exhaustion. But men can have no 
hope in their work while thoy live purely from hand to 
mouth, and you cannot spread habits of intelligence 
among the labouring class, if their means are too poor 
or their leisure too short to enable them to participate 
in the culture that is going. 

But if employers are apt to take too narrow a view 
of the worth of good wages as a positive source of high 
production, labourers are apt to take equally narrow 
views of the worth of high production as a source <^ 
good wages. The policy of limiting production is 
expressly countenanced by a few of their trade unions, 
with the concurrence, I fear, of a considerable body 
of working class opinion. This is shown in their idea of 
" making work," in their prohibition of " chasing " — ue., 
of a workman exceeding a given average standard of 
production — and in their prejudice against pieceworL 
Their notion of making work is irrational They think 
they can make work by simply not doing it, by spinning 


it out, by going half speed, under the impression that 
they are in this way leaving the more over to constitute 
a demand for their labour to-morrow. And, so in the 
immediate case in hand and for the particular time, it 
may sometimes be. But if this practice were to be 
turned into a law universal among working men, if all 
labourers were to act upon it everywhere, then the 
general production of the country would be immediately 
reduced, and the general demand for labour, and the 
rate of wages, would inevitably fall in a corresponding 
degree. Instead of making work, they would have 
unmade half the work there used to be, and have 
brought their whole class to comparative poverty by 
contracting the ultimate sources from which wages 
come. The true way to make work for to-morrow is to 
do as much as one can to-day. For the produce of one 
man's labour is the demand for the produce of another 
man's. Tliere is nothing more difficult for any class 
than to reach an enlightened perception of its own 
general interest. 

The objection usually made to " chasmg " and piece- 
work is that they always end in enabling employers to 
extract more work out of the men without giving them 
any more pay, and that they conduce to overstraining. 
Now piecework, without a fixed list of prices, is of 
course liable to the abuse which, it is allied, masters 
have made of it But with a fixed list of prices the 
labourers ought, with the aid of their unions, to be as 
able to hold their own against the encroachments of the 
masters under piecework as under day work, and piece- 
work is so decidedly advantageous, both to masters and 
to men, that it would be foolish for the former to refuse 


the reasonable concession of a fixed list of prices ; and 
it would be equally foolish for the latter to oppose the 
system under the delusive fear of a danger which it is 
amply in their own power to meet There is a good 
deal of force in the view of Mr William Denny, that 
piecework will prove the best and most natural transition 
from the present system to a regime of co-operative 
production, because it furnishes many kinds of actual 
opportunities for practising co-operation ; but whatever 
may be the promise of piecework for the age that is to 
come, there is no question about its promise for the life 
that now is. Mr Denny, speaking from experience in 
his own extensive shipbuilding works at Dumbarton, 
says that "a workman under piecework generally 
increases his out-put in the long run — partly by working 
hard, but principally by exercising more intelligence and 
arranging his work better — ^by about 75 per cent, while 
the total amount of his wages increases by about 50 per 
cent, making a distinct saving in the wages portion of 
the cost of a given article of about 14 per cent." 
("The Worth of Wages," p. 19). Similar testunony is 
given by Goltz, Boehmert, and a writer in Engels' 
Zeitschrift for 1868, as to the effect of the introduction 
of piecework into continental industries, and Roscher 
ascribes much of the industrial superiority of England 
to the prevalence of piecework here. According to Mr 
Howell, more than seventy per cent of the work of this 
country is done at present by the piece, and the Trades' 
Union Commission found it the accepted rule in the 
majority of the industries that came under their investi- 
gation ; in &ct, in all except the engineers, the ironfounders, 
and some of the building trades. The engineers entertain 


a strong objection to it, and their union has sometimes 
expelled members who have persisted in taking it Bat 
the system works smoothly enough when an established 
price list has become a recognised practice of the trade. 
The objection that the piece system leads to careless^ 
scamped, and inferior work can hardly be considered a 
genuine working class objection. That is the look-out 
of the masters, and they find it easier to check quality 
than to check quantity. Another reason sometimes 
given against piecework is that under it some men get 
more than their share in the common stock of work, but 
there lurks in this reason the same fallacy which lies in 
the notion of '* making work," the fallacy of seeking to 
raise the level of wages by limiting production, and so 
diminishing the common stock of work of society. 
Labourers seem sometimes to harbour an impression as 
if they were losing something when their neighboiUB 
were making more than themselves. Work appears to 
them — ^no doubt in consequence of the fluctuations and 
intermittent activity of modem trade — to come in bursts 
and wind&lls, nobody knows whence or how, and 
they are sometimes uneasy to see the harvest being 
I4>parently disproportionately appropriated by more 
active and efficient hands. But in the end, and as a 
steady general rule, they are gainers and not losers by the 
efficiency of the more expert workmen, because pro- 
ductivity, so &r from drying up the sources of work, is 
the very thing that sets them loose. 

A more important objection is the danger of over- 
straining, against which of course the working class are 
wise to exercise a most jealous vigilance. But, in tbe 
first place, it is easy to exaggerate this dang^. It k 


not really fix>m any deepened drain on the physical 
powers of the workmen, so much as from a quickening 
of his mental life in his work, that increase in his 
IMToductivity is to be expected, Mr Denny, it will be 
observed, attributes the additional out-put under piece- 
work not nearly so much to harder labour as to the 
exercise of more intelligence and to a better arrange- 
ment of the work. But, in the next place, to my mind 
the great advantage of piecework is that it affords 
a sound economical reason for shortening the day of 
labour. The work being intenser demands a shorter 
day, and being more productive, justifies it If the 
figures I have quoted from Mr Denny are at all repre- 
sentative, then a labourer, working by the piece, can 
turn out 40 per cent, more in 8 hours than working by 
the day he can do in 10. Differences may be expected 
to obtain in this respect in different trades and kinds of 
work, so that there cannot be any normal day of labour 
for aU trades alike, and each must adjust the term of its 
labour to its own circumstances. But wherever piece- 
work can increase the rate of production to the extent 
mentioned by Mr Denny, the day of labour may be 
shortened with advantage, and it can apparently do so 
in the very trades that most strongly object to it. A 
fitct mentioned by Mr Nasmyth, in his remarkable 
evidence before the Trades* Union Commission, opens a 
striking view of the possibilities of increasing production 
through developing the personal efiBciency of the labour- 
ing class, and of doing so i^ithout requiring any severe 
strain. " When I have been watching men in my own 
work," he says, " I have noticed that at least two-thirds 
of their time, even in the case of the most carefhl 


workmen, is spent, not in work, but in criticising with 
the square or straight-edge what they have been working, 
so as to say whether it is right or wrong/' And he 
adds — " I have observed that wherever you meet with 
a dexterous workman, you will find that he is a man 
that need not apply in one case in ten to his straight- 
edge or square." And why are not all dexterous, or at 
least why are they not much more dexterous than 
they now are? Mr Nasmyth's answer is, because 
the ftwulty of comparison by the eye is undeveloped 
in them, and he contends that this faculty is capable 
of being educated in every one to a very much higher 
d^ree than exists at present, and that its development 
ought to be made a primary object of direct training at 
school. " If you get a boy," he says, " to be able to lay 
a pea in the middle of two other peas, and in a straight 
line with these two, that boy is a vast way on in the 
arts." He has gone through a most valuable industrial 
apprenticeship before he has entered a workshop at alL 
If, through training the eye, workmen can save two-thirds 
of their time, it is manifest that there is abundant scope 
for increasing productivity and shortening the day of 
labour at the same time. Industrial eflSciency is much 
more a thing of mind than of muscle. Jeder Arbeiter ist 
auch Kopfarbeifer. All work is also head work. Skill 
is but a primary labour-saving apparatus engrafted by 
mind on eye and limb, and it is in developing the mental 
ftusulties of the labourers by well directed training, 
both general and technical, that the chief conditions for 
their further improvement lie. Their progress in intelli- 
gence may therefore be expected to increase their 
productivity so as to justify a shortening of their day of 


labour, and the leisure so acquired may be expected to 
be used so as to increase their intelligence. Any 
advance men really make in the scale of moral and 
mental being tends in this way to create the conditions 
necessary for its maintenance. 

We sometimes hear the same pessimist prophecy 
about shorter hours as we have heard for centuries 
about better wages, that they will only seduce the 
working class to increased dissipation. But experience 
is against this view. Of course more leisure and more 
pay are merely means which the labourer may according 
to his habits use for his destruction as easily as for his 
salvation. But the increase in the number of appre- 
hensions for drunkenness that fi-equently accompanies a 
rise in wages proves neither one thing nor another as to 
the general effect of the rise on the whole class of 
labourers who have obtained it ; it proves only that the 
more dissipated among them are able to get oftener 
drunk. Nor can the singular manifestations which the 
full hand sometimes takes Avith the less instructed 
sections of the working class, especially when it has 
been suddenly acquired, fiimish any valid inference as 
to the way it would be used by the working class 
in general, particularly if it were their permanent 
possession. ^Thc evidence led before the House of 
Lords Committee on Intemperance shows that the 
skilled labourers of this country are becoming Icfs 
drunken as their wages and general position are 
improving ; and Porter, in his " Progress of the 
Nation," adduces some striking cases of a steady rise 
of wages making a manifest change for the better in the 
habits of unskilled labourers. He mentions, on the 


authority of a gentleman who had the chief direction of 
the work, that " the formation of a canal in the North 
of Ireland for some time afforded steady employment to 
a portion of the peasantry, who before that time were 
suffering all the evils so common in that country which 
result from precariousness of employment Such work 
as they could previously get came at uncertain intervals, 
and was sought by so many competitors that the 
remuneration was of the scantiest amoimt In this 
condition the men were improvident to recklessness. 
Their wages, insufiBcient for the comfortable maintenance 
of their families, were wasted in procuring for them- 
selves a temporary forgetfulness of their misery at the 
whisky shop, and the men appeared to be sunk into a 
state of hopeless degradation. From the moment, 
however, that work was offered to them which was 
constant in its nature and certain in its duration, and 
on which their weekly earnings would be sufficient to 
provide for their comfortable support, men who had 
been idle and dissolute were converted into sober hard- 
working labourers, and proved themselves kind and 
careful husbands and fathers ; and it is stated as a fact 
that, notwithstanding the distribution of several hundred 
pounds weekly in wages, the whole of which would be 
considered as so much additional money placed in their 
hands, the consumption of whisky was absolutely and 
permanently diminished in the district During the 
comparatively short period in which the construction of 
this canal was in progress, some of the most careful 
labourers, men who most probably before then never 
knew what it was to possess five shillings at any one 
time, saved sufficient money to enable them to emigrate 


to Canada, where they are now labouring in independ- 
ence for the improvement of their own land " (p. 451). 
It may be difficult to extirpate drunkenness in our 
climate even with good wages, but it is certainly 
impossible with bad, for bad wages mean insufficient 
nourishment, comfortless house accommodation, and a 
want of tnat elasticity after work which enables men to 
find pleasure in any other form of enjoyment. As with 
better wages so with shorter hours. The leisure gained 
may be misused, especially at first, but it is nevertheless 
a necessary lever for the social amelioration of the 
labouring class, and it will more and more serve this 
purpose as it becomes one of their permanent acquisi- 
tions. There can be no question that long hours and 
hard work are powerful predisposing causes to drunken- 
ness. Studnitz mentions that several manufiicturers in 
America had informed him that they had invariably 
remarked, that with solitary exceptions here and there, 
the men who wrought for the longest number of hours 
were most prone to dissipation, and that the others 
were more intelligent, and formed on the whole a better 
class. Part of the prejudice entertained by working 
men against piecework comes from the fact that it is 
very often accompanied with overtime, and when that is 
the case it generally exerts an unfavourable effect on the 
habits of the workman. Mr Applegarth said, in his 
evidence before the Trades' Union Commission, that 
nothing degraded the labourer like piecework and over- 
time. Mr George Potter stated, in his evidence before 
the Select Committee on Masters and Operatives in 
1860, that it was a common saying among working 
people with regard to a man who works hard by piece- 



work and overtime, that such a man is generally a 
drunkard. He ascribed much of the intemperance of 
the labouring class to the practice of working " spells " 
— i.e., heats of work at high pressure on the piece and 
overtune system — ^instead of steadily ; and he says — 
" When I was at work at the bench I worked to a firm 
where there wiVR much overtime and piecewft'k, and I 
found that the men at piecework were men who 
generally spent five or six times more money in intoxi- 
cating drink, for the purpose of keeping up their physical 
strength, than the men at day work. I find, on close 
observation, that the men worb'ng at piecework are 
generally a worse class of men in every way, both in 
intelligence and education, and in pecuniary matters." 
Now, the ill eflfects which issue from piecework combined 
with overtime, could not accrue from piecework combined 
with shorter hours. Besides, in a case of this kind it is 
sometimes difficult to say which is cause and which 
effect, or how much the one acts and reacts on the 
other. For both Mr Potter and the manufacturers 
mentioned by Studnitz represent the men who wrought 
longest as being not only more drunken, but less 
intelligent and educated, and, in fact, as being every way 
inferior ; and we can easily understand how men of 
unsteady habits should prefer to work " spells," and try 
to make up by excessive work three days in the week, 
for excessive drinking the other three. But there is no 
reason why piecework should be irregular or uncertain 
any more than why it should be accompanied with 
overtime, and the feet that the intelligent and better 
educated workmen resisted the temptation to overwork 
— that, according to Mr Potter's evidence, they preferred 


the less remunerative, but less exhausting day work; 
and that, according to the American testimony, they 
wrought only a moderate number of hours as compared 
with the others — furnishes a ground of confidence that 
the growth and spread of intelligence would, even apart 
from regulation by State agency or trade union agency, 
form a s6rt of bulwark against the loss by the labouring 
class, under a system of piecework, of the general 
advantage of the shorter day of labour, to which that 
system would entitle them. In America the length of 
the day in trades working by the piece is left to the 
discretion of the labourer himself; but in work 
requiring the concert of many hands, a common arrange- 
ment is, of course, expedient; and the experience of 
America shows that this arrangement may be much 
better effected by trade union than by State agency. For 
eight hours has prevailed for years as the normal length 
of the day of labour among the building trades there, 
through the unions ; whereas, where the eight hours* day 
has been introduced by Government action, the experi- 
ment has ended unsuccessfully. Trades, however, diflfer 
very much in the strain they exact, and each ought to 
adjust its working day to its own industrial conditions. 
Great variety exists in the length of the working day in 
this country at present. In some trades it has already 
been for years eight hours, in others nine, ten, eleven, 
twelve, and even more, but the trade imions have been 
able to effect considerable reductions. 

* I cannot, therefore, take so dark a view as is some- 
times entertained of the futurity of the wage labourer, even 
if he were compelled to remain purely and permanently 


suclu His position has substantially improved in the 
past, and contains considerable capabilities for continued 
improvement in the future. Of course the action of 
trade imions, besides being confined to the limits I 
have described, is subject to the further restriction, that 
it can only avail for the labourers who belong to them, 
and is indeed founded on the exclusion or diminution of 
the competition of others. They impose limitations on 
the number of apprentices, and prescribe a certain 
standard of eflBciency, loosely ascertained, as a c<»ndition 
of membership. There can be no manner of objection 
to the latter measure, nor does- the former, though it is 
manifestly liable to abuse and is sometimes vexatious in 
its operation, seem to be practically worked so as to 
diminish the labour in any particular industry beneath 
the due requirements of trade, or to create an unhealthy 
monopoly. Then, though the trade unionists gather 
their gains by keeping off the competition of others, it 
cannot be said that these others are necessarily in any 
worse position than they would have occupied, if trade 
unions had never come into existence. It may even be 
that through the operation of custom, which will always 
have an influence in settling the price of labour, a 
certain benefit may be reflected upon them from a rise 
in the usual price effected by trade union agency. But 
in any case, it is no sound objection to an agency of social 
amelioration that its efficiency is only partial, for it is not 
80 much to any single panacea, as to the application of 
a multitude of partial remedies, that we can most wisely 
trust for the accomplishment of our great aim. 

11. The second main count in the sociaUst indictment 


of the present industrial system is that it has multiplied 
the vicissitudes of trade^ and so imposed an incurable 
and distressing insecurity upon the labourer's lot. The 
rapidity of technical transformation and the frequency 
of commercial crises create, it is alleged, a perpetual 
over-population, driving ever-increasing proportions of 
the labourers out of active employment into what Marx 
calls the industrial reserve, the hungry battalions of 
the half- employed or the altogether unemployed. 
In regard to technical transformation, the effects of 
machinery on the working class are now tolerably well 
understood. Individuals suffer in the first instance, but 
the class, as a whole, is eventually a great gainer. 
Machinery has always been the means of employing far 
more hands than it superseded, when it did supersede 
any (for it has by no means invariably done so). There 
is no way of "making work" like producing wealth. 
The increased production due to machinery cheapens 
the particular commodities produced by it, and thus 
enables the purchasers of these commodities to spend 
more of their income on other things, and so practically 
to make work for other labourers. But even in the 
trades into which the machinery has been imported, the 
effect of its introduction has been to multiply, instead of 
curtailing, employment Take the textile trades, much 
the most important of the machine industries. Mr 
Mulhall, in his " Dictionary of Statistics " (p. 338), gives 
the following statistics of the textile operatives in the 
United Kingdom at various dates :— 

Year. Men. Women. Children. Total. 

1835 . . . 82,000 167,000 104,000 353,000 
1850 . . . 158,000 329,000 109,000 596,000 
1880 . . . 232,000 543,000 201,000 976,000 


Marx and others dwell much on the fact, that machineiy 
leads frequently to the substitution of female for male 
labour; but the preceding table shows that while 
female labour has been largely multiplied, male labour 
has been scarcely less so, and besides, a more extensive 
engagement of women is in itself no public disadvantage. 
For half the question of our pauperism is really the 
question of employment for women, it being so much 
more difficult to find work for imemployed women than 
for unemployed men ; and if the course of industrial 
transformation opens up new occupations that are 
suitable for them, it is so Beir entirely a social gain, and 
no loss. No doubt, though the good accruing from 
industrial transformation &r outweighs the evil, yet evil 
does accrue from it, and evil of the kind allied, the 
tendency to develop local or temporary redimdancies of 
labour. But then that is an evil with which we have 
never yet tried to cope, and it may probably be dealt 
with as effectively on the present system as on any other. 
Socialism would stop it by stopping the progress which 
it happens to accompany, and would therefore envelop 
society in much more serious distress than it sought to 
remove. In Marx's remarkable survey of English 
industrial history almost every conquest of modem 
civilization is viewed with r^ret; but it is manifestly idle 
to think of forcing society back now to a state in which 
there should be no producing for profit, but only for 
private use, no subdivision of labour, no machinery, no 
steam, for these are the very means without which it 
would be impossible for our vastly increased population 
to exist at alL What may be done to meet the redun- 
dancies of labour that are always with us, is a difficult 


but pressing question which I cannot enter upon here. 
State provision of work — even in producing commodities 
which are imported from abroad and which might 
therefore be produced in State workshops without hurting 
home producers — has many drawbacks, but the problem 
is one that ought to be &ced, and something more must 
be provided for the case than workhouse and prison. 

In regard to commercial crises, they are rather 
lessening than increasing. They may be more numerous, 
for trade is more extensive and ramified, but they are 
manifestly less violent than they used to be. The 
commercial and financial crises of the present century 
have been moderate in their effects as compared with 
the Darien scheme, Law's speculations in France, or ^ ^ 
the Tulip mania in the Low Countries, and imder the « 

influence of the beneficial expansion of international 
commerce and the equally beneficial principle of free 
trade, we enjoy now an absolute immunity from the 
great periodical visitation of famine which was so 
terrible a scourge to our ancestors. Facts like these 
are particularly reassuring for this reason, that they are 
the result, partly of better acquaintance with the 
principles of sound commercial and financial success, 
and partly of the equalising effect of international 
ramifications of trade, and that these are causes from 
which even greater things may be expected in the 
future, because they are themselves progressive. There 
is no social system that can absolutely abolish vicissitudes, 
because many of them depend on causes over which 
man has no possible control, such as the harvests of the 
world, and others on causes over which no single society 
of men has any control, such as wars ; and, besides, it is 


possible to do a great deal more under the existing 
system than is at present done, to mitigate and neutralise 
some of their worst effects. To provide the labouring 
population with the security of existence, which is one 
of their pressing needs, a sound system of working class 
insurance must be devised, which shall indemnify them 
against all the accidents and reverses of life, including 
temporary loss of work as well as sickness and age, and 
it is not too much to hope, from the amount of attention 
which the subject is at present attracting, that such 
a system will be obtained. As Beir as yet appears, 
the scheme proposed by Professor Lujo Brentano, to 
which I have already referred, is, on the whole, the 
soundest and most satisfactory in its general principles 
that has been advanced. 

Again, much of the instability of trade arises from 
the want of commercial statistics, and the consequent 
ignorance and darkness in which it must be conducted. 
More light would lessen at once the mistakes of well- 
meaning manufacturers and the opportunities of illegi- 
timate and designing speculation. Socialists count all 
speculation illegitimate, because they fail to see that 
speculation, conducted in good faith, exercises a moder- 
ating influence upon the oscillations of prices, preventing 
them from falling so low, or rising so high, as they would 
otherwise do. Speculation has thus a legitimate and 
beneficial work to perform in the industrial system, and 
if it performed its work righUy, it ought to have the 
opposite effect from that ascribed to it by socialists, and 
to conduce to the stability of trade, instead of shaking it 
But unhappily an imscrupulous and frttudulent spirit too 
often presides over this work. Schaeffle, who is not only 


an eminent political economist, but has been Minister of 
Commerce to one of the great powers of Europe, says 
that when he got acquainted with the bourse, he gave up 
believing any longer in the economical harmonies, and 
declared theft to be the principle of modem European 
commerce. Socialists always take the bourse to be the 
type of capitalistic society, and the fraudulent speculator 
to be the type of the bourse, and however they may err 
in this, there is one point at any rate which it is almost 
impossible for them to exaggerate, and that is the mischief 
accruing to the whole community — and, as is usual with 
all general evils, to the working class more than any 
other — ^from the prevalence of imsound trading and 
inflated speculation. Confidence is the very quick of 
modem trade. The least vibration of distrust paralyses 
some of its movements and depresses its circulation. 
Enterprise in opening new investments is indeed more and 
more indispensable to the vitality of modem industry, but 
the mischiefe of misdirected enterprise are as great as 
the benefits of well-directed. Illegitimate speculation is 
very difficult to deal with. It can never be reached by 
a public opinion which worships success and bows to 
wealth with questionless devotion. Nor is it practicable 
for the State to put it down by direct measures. But 
the State may perhaps mitigate it somewhat by helping 
to procure a good system of commercial statistics, for 
unsoimd speculation thrives in ignorance, and may be 
to some extent prevented by better knowledge. The 
socialist demand for commercial statistics is therefore to 
be approved. They would benefit everybody but the 
dishonest dealer. They would not only be a corrective 
against unsound speculation, but they would tend to 


Bmooth the conflicts between capital and labour about 
the rate of wages, and the working class in America press 
the demand on the ground of their experience of the 
benefits they have already derived from the Labor 
Statistical Bureaux established in certain of the States 
there. Some of our own most weighty economical 
authorities are strongly in favour of a measure of this 
kind. Mr Jevons, for example, says, " So essential is a 
knowledge of the real state of supply and demand to the 
smooth procedure of trade, and the real good of the 
community, that I conceive it would be quite legitimate 
to compel the publication of requisite statistics. Secrecy 
can only conduce to the profit of speculators who gain 
from great fluctuations of prices. Speculation is advan- 
tageous to the public only so far as it tends to equalise 
prices, and it is therefore against the public good to allow 
speculators to foster artificially the inequalities of pric^ 
by which they profit The welfare of millions, both of 
consumers and producers, depends on an accurate 
knowledge of the stocks of cattle and corn, and it would 
therefore be no imwarrantable interference with the 
liberty of the subject to require any information as to 
the stock in hand. In Billingsgate fishmarket it has 
been a regulation that salesmen shall fix up in a con- 
spicuous place every morning a statement of the kind and 
amount of their stock ; and such a regulation, whenever 
it could be enforced on other markets, would always be 
to the advantage of every one except a few traders." 
(" Theory of Political Economy," p. 88.) 

III. The next principal charge brought by socialists 
against the present order of things is that it commits a 


signal injustice against the labouring class^ by suffering 
the capitalists who employ them to appropriate the 
whole increase of value which results from the process 
of production, and which, as is allied, is contributed 
entirely by the labour of the artizans engaged in the 
process. I have already exposed the fallacy of the 
theory of value on which this claim is founded, and I 
need not repeat here what for convenience sake has 
been stated in another place. (See chap, iii, pp. 161-8). 
Value is not constituted by time of labour alone, except 
in the case of commodities admitting of indefinite 
midtiplication ; it is constituted in all other cases by 
social utility ; and the importance of this distinction is 
especially manifest in treating of the very point that 
comes before us here, the value of labour. Why is one 
kind of labour paid dearer than another ? Why is an 
organiser of manual labour better paid than the manual 
labourer himself? Why is the railway chairman better 
paid than the railway porter ? Or why has the judge a 
better salary than the policeman ? Is it because he 
exerts more labour, more socially necessary time of 
labour ? No, the porter works as long as the chairman, 
and the policeman as long as the judge. Is it because 
more time of labour has been expended in the preparation 
and apprenticeship of the higher paid functionaries? 
No, because the railway chairman may have undergone 
no special training that thousands of persons with much 
poorer incomes have not also undergone, and the 
education of the judge cost no more than the education 
of other barristers who do not earn a twentieth part of 
his salary. The explanation of differences of remunera- 
tion like these is not to be found in different quantities 


of labour, but in different qualities of labour. One man's 
work is higher, rarer, more excellent, possesses in short 
more social utility than another's, and for that reason is 
more valuable, as value is at present constituted. It is 
thus manifest that the theory which declares value to be 
nothing but quantity of labour, nothing but time of 
labour, is inconsistent with some of the most obvious 
and important phenomena of value, the phenomena of 
the value of different kinds of labour. Many forms of 
labour are much more remunerative than others, nay, 
much more remimerative than many applications of 
capital, and the difference of remuneration is in no way 
whatever connected with the quantity of labour or the 
time of labour undergone in earning it Socialists may 
perhaps answer that this ought no^ to be so ; that if 
things were as they should be, the railway chairman, the 
station-master, the inspector, the guard, and the porter, 
would be paid by the same simple standard of the dura- 
tion of their labour in the service of the line — a standard 
which would probably reverse the present gradation 
of their respective salaries ; but if they make that 
answer, they change their ground ; they no longer base 
their claim for justice to the labourer on value cls it is 
constituted, but on value as they think it ought to be 
constituted. Their theory of value would in that case 
not be what it pretends to be, a scientific theory of the 
actual constitution of value, but a Utopian theory of its 
proper and just constitution. It woidd be tantamount 
to saying. Every man, according to our ideas of justice, 
ought to be paid according to the value of his work, 
and the value of his work, according to our ideas of 
justice, ought to be measured by the time — the socially 


necessary time — it occupied. But this whole argument 
is manifestly based on nothing better than their own 
arbitrary conceptions of justice, and it needs no great per- 
spicacity to perceive that these conceptions of justice are 
entirely wrong. In fiict, the common sense of men every- 
where would unhesitatingly pronoimce it unjust to requite 
the manager who contrives, organises, directs, with only 
the same salary as the labourer who executes under his 
direction, because, while both may spend the same time 
of labour, the service rendered by the one is much more 
valuable than the service rendered by the other. Let 
every man have according to his work, if you will ; but 
then, in measuring work, the true standard of its value 
is not its duration but its social utility, the social 
^ importance of the service it is calculated to render. 

This criterion of social utility is the principle that ought 
to guide us in answering the question that is really raised 
by the particular socialist charge now under considera- 
tion, the question of the justice of interest on capital. 
Interest is just because capital is socially useful, and 
because the owner of capital, in applying it to productive 
purposes, renders a service to society which is valuable 
in the measure of its social utility. Of course the State 
might perform this service itself. It might compulsorily 
abstract from the produce of each year a sufficient portion 
to constitute the raw materials and instruments of future 
production ; but, as a matter of fact, the State does not 
do so. It leaves the service to be rendered spontane- 
ously by private persons out of their private means. 
The service rendered by these persons to production is 
as indispensable as the service rendered by the labourers, 
and the justice of interest stands on exactly the same 


ground as the justice of wages. The labourer cannot 
produce by labour alone, without materials and imple- 
ments, any more than the capitalist can produce by 
materials and implements alone, without labour ; and the 
possessor of capital needs a reward to induce him to 
advance materials and implements just as much as the 
labourer needs a reward to induce him to labour. 
Nobody will set aside a portion of his property to pro- 
vide for future production if he is to reap no advantage 
from doing so, and if the produce will be distributed in 
exactly the same way whether he sets it apart or not. 
It would be as uiyust as it would be suicidal to with- 
hold the recompense to which this service entitled, and 
without which nobody would do it 

The real question for socialists to answer is, not 
whether it is just to pay private capitalists for the ser- 
vice society accepts at their hands, but whether society 
can perform this service better, or more economically, 
without them; whether, in short, the abolition of 
interest would conduce to any real saving in the end ? 
This practical question, crucial though it be, is one, 
however, to which they seldom address themselves — 
they prefer expatiating in cloudier regions. The ques- 
tion may not, with our present experience, admit of a 
definitive and authoritative answer ; but the probabili- 
ties all point to the conclusion that capitalistic manage- 
ment of production, costly as it may seem to be, is really 
cheaper than that by which socialism would supersede 
it. Capitalistic management is proverbially unrivalled 
for two qualities in which bureaucratic management is 
as proverbially deficient, economy and enterprise. 
Socialists complain much of the hosts of middlemen 


who are nourished on the present system, the heartless 
parasites who eat the bread of society without doing a 
hand's turn of real good; but their own plan would 
multiply vastly the number of unnecessary intermediaries 
depending on industry. Under the regime of the 
capitalist there are, we may feel sure, no useless clerks 
or overseers, for he has the strongest personal interest 
in working his business as economically as possible. 
But with the socialist mandarinate, the interest lies the 
other way, and the tendency of the head oflScials would be 
to multiply their subordinates and assistants, so that by 
diminishing the capitalists, society would not by any means 
have got rid of middlemen and parasites. There would be 
as much waste of labour as before. Sir Thomas Brassey 
is certainly right in attributing the industrial superiority 
of Great Britain as much to the administrative skill and 
economy of her employers as to the efficiency of her 
labourers. Individual capitalists are more enterprising, 
as well as more economical managers than boards. 
Their keenly-interested eyes and ears are ever on the 
watch for opportunities, for improvements, for new 
openings ; and having to consult nothing but their own 
judgment, they are much quicker in adapting themselves 
to situations and taking advantage of turns of trade. 
They will undertake risks that a board would not agree 
to, and they will have entered the field and established 
a footing long before a manager can get his directors to 
stir a finger. Now this habit of being always on the 
alert for new extensions, and new processes, and new 
investments, is of the utmost value to a progressive 
community, and it cannot be found to such purpose 
anywhere as with the capitalistic despot the socialists 


denounce, whose zeal and judgment are alike sharpened 
by his hope of personal gain and risk of personal 
loss. Studnitz informs us that in 1878 he found 
the mills of New York standing idle, but those of 
Philadelphia all going, and his explanation is that the 
former were under joint-stock management and the 
latter belonged to private owners. The present ten- 
dency towards a multiplication of joint-stock companies 
is a perfectly good one, because, for one thing, it helps 
to a better distribution of wealth ; but society would 
suffer if this tendency were to be carried so for as to 
supersede independent private enterprise altogether, and 
if joint-stock companies were to become the only form 
of conducting business. And if private enterprise is 
more advantageous than joint-stock management, because 
it has more initiative and adaptability, so joint-stock 
management is for the same reason more advantageous 
than the oflScial centralised management of all industry. 

If there is any force in these considerations, it seems 
likely that we should make a bad bargain, if we 
dismissed oiu* capitalists and private employers, in the 
expectation that we could do the work more cheaply 
by our own public administration. And the mistake 
would be especially disappointing for this reason, that 
in the ordinary progress of society in wealth and secur- 
ity the rate of interest always tends to fall, and that 
various forces are already in operation that may not 
imreasonably be expected to reduce the rate of profits as 
well. Profits, as distinguished from interest,, are the 
earnings of management, and the minimum which em- 
ployers will be content to take is at present largely 
determined by the entirely wrong principle that their 


amount ought to bear a direct proportion to the amount 
of capital invested in the business. In spite of 
competition, customary standards of this kind are very 
influential in the adjustment of such matters ; they are 
the usual criteria of what are called fiiir profits and feir 
wages ; they always carry with them strong persuasives 
to acquiescence ; and then, from their very nature, they 
are very dependent on public opinion. I am not san- 
guine enough to believe, with the American economist, 
F. A. Walker, that employers wiU ever come to be con- 
tent with no other reward than the gratification of power 
in the management of a great industrial undertaking ; 
but there is nothing extravagant in expecting that, 
through the influence of public opinion and the constant 
pressure of trade unions, a &irer standard of profits may 
be generally adopted, with the natural consequence of 
allowing a rise of wages. 

But whether these expectations are well grounded or 
no, one thing is plain, the only thing really material to 
the precise issue at present before us, and that is, that 
while interest and profits may both be un£a,ir in amount, 
just as rent may be, or wages, or judicial penalties, 
neither of them aire unjust in essence, because they are 
merely particular forms of remunerating particular ser- 
vices, which are now actually performed by the persons 
who receive the remuneration, and which, under the 
socialist scheme, would have to be performed — ^and in all 
probability neither so well nor so cheaply — ^by salaried 

With these remarks, we may dismiss the specific 
charge of iiyustice brought by socialists against the 
present order of things, and the specific claim of right 


for the labouring class which they prefer. Let us now 
submit their proposals to a more practical and decisive 
test — will they or will they not realise the legitimate 
aspirations, the ideal, of the working class ? Does social- 
ism offer a better guarantee for the realisation of that 
ideal than the existing economy ? I believe it does not. 
What is the ideal of the working class ? It may be said 
to be that they shall share pari passu in the progressive 
conquests of civilization, and grow in comfort and refine- 
ment of life as other classes of the community have 
done. Now this involves two things — first, p rogre ss ; 
second, diffi isionj jfLcrogress ; and socialism is so mtent 
on-^Si^TScondthat it fails to see how completely it 
would cut the springs of the first Some of its adherents 
do assert that production would be increased and pro- 
gress a<K3elerated under a socialistic economy, but they 
offer nothing in support of the assertion, and certainly 
oiu* past experience of human nature would lead us to 
expect precisely the opposite result. The incentives and 
energy of production would be relaxed. I have already 
spoken of the loss that would probably be sustained in 
exchanging the interested zeal and keen eye of the respon- 
sible capitalist employer for the perfunctory administra- 
tion of a State officer. A like loss would be suffered 
from lightening the responsibility of the labourers and 
lessening their power of acquisition. Under a socialist 
r^me they cannot by any merit acquire more properly 
than they enjoy in daily use, and they cannot by any fiault 
fail to possess that Now socialist labourers are not 
supposed any more than socialist officials to be angels 
from Heaven ; they are to carry on the work of society with 
the ordinary human nature which we at present possess ; 


and in circumstances like those just described, unstirred 
either by hope or fear, our ordinary human nature would 
undoubtedly take its ease and bask contentedly in the 
kind providence of the State which relieved it of all 
necessity for taking thought or pauis. The inevitable 
result would be a great diminution of production, which, 
with a rapidly increasing population (and socialism 
generally scouts the idea of restraining it), would soon 
prove seriously embarrassing, and could only be obviated 
by a resort to the lash ; in a word, by a return to indus- 
trial slavery. Now, with a lessening production, progress 
is clearly impossible, and the more evenly the produce 
was distributed the more certain would be the general 

Socialists ignore the civilizing value of private property 
and inheritance, because they think of property only as a 
means of immediate enjoyment, and not as a means of 
progress and moral development. They would allow 
private property only in what is sometimes termed 
consumers' wealth. You might still own your clothes, 
or even purchase your house and garden. But producer's 
wealth, they hold, should be common property, and 
neither be owned nor inherited by individuals. If 
this theory were to be enforced, it would be fetal to 
progress. Private property has all along been a great 
fector in civilization, but the private property that has been 
so has been much more producers' than consumers'. Con- 
sumers' wealth is a limited instrument of enjoyment; 
producers' is a power of immense capability in the hands of 
the competent. Socialists are really more individualistic 
than their opponents in the view they take of the func- 
tion of property. They look upon it purely as a means 


for gratifying the deeires of individoalB, and ignore the 
immense social value it possesses as a nurse of the 
industrial virtues and an agency in the progressive 
development of society from generation to generation. 

There is still another and even more important spring 
of progress that would be stifled by socialism — freedooL 
Freedom is, of course^ a direct and integral element in any 
worthy human ideal, for it is an indispensable condition 
for individual development, but here it comes into con- 
sideration as an equally indispensable condition of social 
progress. Political philosophers, like W. von Humboldt 
and J. S. Mill, who have pled strongly for the widest 
possible extension of individual freedom, have made 
their plea in the interests of society itself. They looked 
on individuality as the living seed of progress ; without 
individuality no variation of type or differentiation of 
function would be possible ; and without freedom there 
could be no individuality. Under a regime of socialism 
fi-eedom would be choked. Take, for example, a point of 
great importance both for personal and for social develop- 
ment, the choice of occupations. Socialism promises a free 
choice of occupations ; but that is vain, for the relative 
numbers thatare nowrequired in any particular occupation 
are necessarily determined by the demands of consumes 
for the particular commodity the occupation in question 
sets itself to supply. Freedom of choice is, therefore, 
limited at present by natural conditions, which cause no 
murmuring; but these natural conditions would still 
exist under the socialist regime, and yet they would 
perforce appear in the guise of legal and artificial restric- 
tions. It would be the choice of the State that would 
determine who should enter the more desirable occupa- 


tionSy and not the choice of the individoalfi themselveeu 
The accepted would seem favourites ; the rejected would 
complain of tyranny and wrong. Selection could not be 
made by competitive examination without treason against 
the principles of a socialist state, nor by lot without 
a sacrifice of efficiency. The same difficulties would 
attend the distribution of the fertile and the poor soils. 
Even consumption would not escape State inquisition 
and guidance, for an economy that pretended to do away 
with conmiercial vicissitudes must take care that a 
change of fietshion does not extinguish a particular 
industry by superseding the articles it produces. 
Socialism would introduce, indeed, the most vexatious 
and all-encompassing absolutist government ever 
invented* It would impose on its central executive 
functions that would require omniscience for their 
discharge, and an authority so excessive that E. von 
Hartmann is probably right in thinking that obedience 
could only be secured by £Etbricating for it the illusion of 
a divine origin and reinforcing loyalty by superstition. 
The extensive centralised authority given to government 
in France has undoubtedly been one of the main causes 
of the instability of the political system of that State, 
and a socialist rule, with its vastly greater prerogatives, 
could only maintain its ascendancy by being £Etbulously 
hedged with the divinity of a Grand Lama. A military 
despotism would be at least more consistent with 
modem conditions ; but a military despotism socialists 
abjure, and yet believe that they can exact from free 
and equal citizens an almost animal submission to an 
authority they elect themselves. 
Progress is only possible on the basis of industrial 


freedom and private property; and in the socialist 
controversy there is no question about the necessity 
of progress. That is an assumption common to both 
sides; socialists of the present day acknowledge it 
as implicitly as the general opinion of the time. 
They are no sharers in Mill's admiration for the stationary 
state ; they utterly ridicule his Malthusian horror of a 
progressive population. They are not prepared to say, 
Perish progress, but let the people be filled, for they 
know that human society is not in a condition of health 
when it ceases to progress ; and profoundly impressed as 
they are with the vital need for a better distribution of 
wealth, they hesitate to sacrifice for it an increasing 
production. On the contrary, they claim for their system 
that it would stimulate progress, as well as spread its 
blessings, better than the system that exists, and Lassalle 
at all events frankly declared that unless socialism 
increased production it would not be economically justi- 
fiable. But tried by this test, we have seen reason to 
find it wanting. The problem to which it addresses 
itself, the institution of a sound and healthy distribution 
of wealth, is probably the greatest social problem of the 
time ; but socialism fails to solve it, because no distri- 
bution can be sound and healthy which destroys the 
conditions of further progress. The true solution must 
adhere to the lines of the present industrial system, 
the lines of industrial fi'eedom and private property. 

It is one thing, however, to say that the principles of 
industrial freedom and private property are essential to 
a healthy distribution, and it is quite another thing to 
hold that the distribution is then healthiest and most 
perfect when these principles eiyoy the most absolute 


and unconditional operation. If socialism errs by sup- 
pressing them^ Liaissez-&ire runs into the opposite error 
of giving them unlimited authority. Laissez-faire is 
perhaps hardly any longer a living faith. The Manchester 
school is gone, and its doctrines, cast off by the Liberals, 
are now the last solace of a rigid Conservatism in the 
Liberty and Property Defence League. But when men 
still believed in the economical harmonies, they always 
taught that the best and justest distribution of wealth 
was that which issued out of the free competition of 
individuals, and that if this distribution ever turned out 
to be really faulty or partial, it was only because the 
competition was not free or perfect enough; because 
some of the competitors were not sufficiently en- 
lightened as compared with others, or not sufficiently 
mobile with their labour or capital ; in other words, 
because the competition was not conducted on equal 
terms. This theory manifestly makes the justice of the 
distribution effected by fi-ee competition to depend on 
the folse assumption of the natural equality of the 
competitors, and therefore as manifestly implies that 
unless men are equal in talents and opportunities, the 
system of unlimited freedom may produce a distribution 
that is seriously unjust. Laissez-faire thus had a germ 
of socialism in its being, and at the hour of its highest 
ascendancy in this country was already yielding place to 
a younger and more energetic social theory, which can 
hardly be said to have ripened even yet into definite and 
self-conscious form, though it has influenced industrial 
legislation for half a century. Much perplexity seems to 
exist about the principle that underlies that legislation. 
Xt proceeded from no deliberate theory of social 


politics, bat only from practical motives of humanitj, 
bent on relieving distressed classes of the population 
from the sufferings they were seen to endure. But 
it undoubtedly involved many successive interferences 
with industrial ft-eedom, not for the purpose of 
protecting equality of right, but for the purpose of 
correcting the effects of inequality of condition* And 
that was virtually the assumption by the State 
of a new social r61e; instead of maintaining equal 
freedom for weak and strong, the State took the part of 
the weak against the strong ; it transgressed the rigid 
principle of equality of right, and aimed directly, if not 
at equality of all conditions, yet certainly at the 
amelioration of the inferior conditions. It is some- 
times denied that there is in all this anything in 
the nature of a new rdle ; it is said that these 
successive interferences were not meant to destroy 
fi'eedom but to fulfil it; that for labourers living 
from hand to mouth, the labour contract as then 
practised was no more a free contract than the 
capitulation of a beleaguered garrison, when their pro- 
visions have run done, is a free capitulation ; and that 
therefore to prevent the labourers from submitting to 
terms incompatible with their progressive civilization, 
was not to violate their legal freedom but to make it a 
reality. But this is really an admission that legal freedom 
is after all no more an end in itself than government 
intervention is; that, on the contrary, it is but a means to 
a particular condition of human life which is here called 
real fi-eedom, which implies participation in progressive 
civilization, and which is represented as so supremely 
desirable a human possession that every citizen has a 


valid and recognised claim to possess it. And, as a 
matter of fact, freedom has not been advocated by its 
best representatives — ^by men like W. von Humboldt 
or J. S. Mill, for example — as an end, but merely as an 
incomparable instrument of human progress, through 
the play it furnishes to individuality; and since 
from its very nature it opens the way also for the 
alternative possibility of decline, if the other con- 
ditions tend in that direction, then the same reason 
that would prescribe freedom as the rule would 
justify intervention as an exceptional resort, to prevent 
the physical, moral, or economical decline of any 
considerable section of the community. Viewed in this 
light, liberty itself is a kind of negative intervention, and 
whether the State adopts liberty as its normal instrument, 
or limitations on liberty as its occasional ones, it is in 
both cases alike acting as the promoter of social progress 
rather than as the protector of equal right In &ct, the 
State cannot divest itself of a distinct social mission, and 
we need not be surprised that this mission should have 
extended its operations as industrial society has got more 
complex and interdependent, and the growing democratic 
spirit has forced the condition of the people into more 
constant public consideration. 

Many persons seem to be puzzled and alarmed by the 
prevalence of this tendency in our recent legislation. 
They are ready to condemn it as socialistic for no better 
reason than because it interferes with absolute freedom of 
contract, or of property, or of competition, in the interest 
of the poorer orders of society; but in reality it is broadly 
separated from socialism by the fact that it has never 
sought to substitute the political providence of the State 


for the keen and responsible and instructed providence 
of individuals themselves; that it has always placed 
individual responsibility rather than social and political 
organisation in the front of its ideal, and has put 
restraints on freedom only as exceptional and occasional 
correctives designed to elicit rather than supersede the 
personal industry, thrift, and responsibility of the classes 
in whose behalf it intervened. This may seem to 
be nothing more than a mere difference of more 
intervention or less, but there is really a very decisive 
demarcation between a policy whose aim is to make 
men rely on their own prudence for their good, 
and a policy which makes men depend on the 
State control ; a policy whose aim is to fiEu^ilitate the 
acquisition of private property, and a policy whose aim 
is to abolish it ; a policy which uses for its lever the 
ordinary moral and economical motives of individuals, 
and a policy which trusts to the compulsion of physical 
force. The State may become social reformer without 
becoming socialist, when it keeps these distinctions 
clearly before its view ; and, in fiact, it is only by following 
the one series and eschewing the other that the State can 
in any way really aid the working class in the attainment 
of their ideal That ideal they must work out for them- 
selves. It will never be otherwise won, for the qualities 
trained in working it out are essential to its permanent 
retention and progressive development. 

If, then, there is any truth in these considerations — ^if 
the general acquisition of private property, and not its 
universal abolition, is the demand of the working class 
ideal — then the business of social reform at present 
ought to be to foM^ilitate the acquisition of private 


property; to multiply the opportunities of industrial 
investment open to the labouring classes^ and to devise 
means for credit, for saving, for insurance, and the 
like. While, for reasons already explained, I have been 
unable to agree with Mr Caimes' despondent view of 
the economic position of the wage-paid labourers, I am 
entirely at one with him in conceiving the surest means 
to their progressive amelioration to lie in participation, 
by one means or another, in industrial capital. Much 
good may be done by a wider extension of trade unions, 
and a better organisation of working class insurance ; 
but the labourers must not rest content till they have 
found their way, under the new conditions of modem 
trade, to become capitalists as well as labourers. 
Co-operative production seems the most obvious solution 
of this problem ; but it is a mischievous, though a com- 
mon mistake, to r^ard it as the only solution. The 
fortunes of the working class are not all embarked in one 
bottom, and their salvation may be expected to fulfil 
itself in many ways. I cannot share in the lamentation 
sometimes made because some of the earlier productive 
associations have departed from the strict and original 
form of co-operation, under which all the shareholders in 
the business were labourers and all the labourers share- 
holders. In the present situation of affairs, variety of 
of experiment is desirable, for only out of many various 
experiments can we eventually discover which are most 
suitable to the conditions and fittest to survive. Co* 
operative production would perhaps have been further 
advanced to-day, if co-operators had not been so £a,ithful 
in their idolatry of their original ideal, and had fostered 
instead of discouraging variations of type, which may 


yet joBtify their superiority by persisting and multiplying. 
As it is, co-operative production has not been such a 
complete failure as it is sometimes represented ; it can 
show at least a few very signal tokens of success and 
great promise. It is often declared to be inapplicable 
to the great industries, because they require more capital 
and better management than co-operative working men 
are usually able to fumisL But in the town of Oldham 
there are 75 co-operative spinning mills, with a capital 
of £5,000,000. They are managed entu^ly by working 
men, their capital is contributed in £5 shares by 
working men, and they have during the last ten years 
paid dividends varying from 10 to 45 per cent These 
are joint-stock companies rather than co-operative socie- 
ties in the stricter sense ; but they are joint-stock com- 
panies of working men, and they furnish to working men 
in an effective and successful way that participation in 
the industrial capital of the country which is really what 
is wanted. It has been stated that there are a thousand 
operatives working at these mills who are worth £1000 
to £2000 ; and besides the mills, there are co-operative 
stores, building societies, and other working class com- 
panies in Oldham, with a combined capital of £3,500,000. 
In all these ways the zone of participators in property 
broadens, and hope and stimulus are introduced into the 
labourer's life. The truth seems to be that the great need 
of the woridng man is not so much money to invest as 
opportunity and motive for investment. The amount 
lodged in savings' banks, the amount raised by trade 
unions, the amount wasted in drink, the amount wasted 
in inefficient household economy, which might be much 
lessened by better instruction in the arts oi cookeiy and 


household management — all show that large numbers of 
the working class possess means at their disposal to 
constitute at least the beginnings of their emancipation, 
if good opportunities were open to them of using it 
advantageously in productive enterprise. Co-operation 
and industrial partnerships are not the only means by 
which this might be realised. Private firms might 
initiate a practice of reserving a certain amount of their 
capital to constitute a kind of stock for their workmen 
to invest their savings in, under — if that were legalised 
— limited liability. One advantage of this plan over 
the ordinary industrial partnership would be, that while, 
like it, it would enhance the workmen's zeal in their 
work, it could not possibly have the eflFect of reducing 
wages, because the stock would be a free investment, and 
would probably not be taken up by all or by more than 
a majority of the workmen. Again, with a reform of 
our land laws, small investments in land will no doubt 
be &cilitated, especially among the agricultural class. 

Socialists would no doubt, condemn all such invest- 
ments for the same reason as they generally condemn 
the co-operative movement, because they would tend 
to create "a new class with one foot in the camp of 
the bourgeoisie and the other in the camp of the 
proletariate." But that is precisely one of their chief 
advantages, and in making this objection socialists only 
betray how completely they ignore the operation of 
those portions of human nature that are the real forces 
and factors of social progress. It is only by linking a 
lower class to a higher that you can raise tiie level of 
the whole, and every pathway the working class makes 
into a comfortable equality with the lower bouigeoisie 


will coDBtitate at once an opportunity and a spur for 
others to follow them, which will exercise an elevating 
effect upon the entire body. If it were generally open 
to all the labouring classes to begin by being wage- 
labourers and end by sharing in some degree in the 
industrial capital of the country, this would raise the 
level of the whole — of those who after all remained 
wage-labourers still, as well as of those who succeeded 
in gaining a better competency. It would give them all 
something to keep looking forward to during their 
working life, something to save for and strive after, and 
a higher standard of comfort would get diffused and 
considered necessary in the class generally through the 
example of the better off. For the more comfortably 
situated working men — whether they have won their 
comfort by co-operation or otherwise — ^have not passed 
out of their class. They have, as is alleged, one foot 
in the camp of the proletariate still. They live and 
move and have their being among working people, and 
constitute by their presence and social connections a 
stimulating and elevating agency. It is through connec- 
tions like these that the ideas of comfort and culture 
that prevail among an upper class permeate through to 
a lower, and thus elevate the general standard of living 
upon which the level of wages so much depends. Even 
the minor inequalities in the ranks of the working class 
are not without their use in quickening their exertions to 
maintain the standard of respectability which they have 
won or inherited. Economists were not wrong in 
ascribing so much influence as they always have done to 
men's tenacity in adhering to their customary standard 
of life. Many striking illustrations of its beneficial 


operation might be mentioned ; I select one, because it 
concerns an aspect of the condition of the labouring 
classes of this country that is at present attracting much 
attention, their house accommodation. In all our large 
cities, the house accommodation of the working 
class has hitherto been about as bad as bad could 
be, but there is one singular exception — ^it is 
SheflBeld. Porter drew attention to the fact many years 
ago. " The town itself," he says, " is ill built and dirty 
beyond the usual condition of English towns, but it is 
the custom for each family among the labouring popula- 
tion to occupy a separate dwelling, the rooms of which 
are furnished in a very comfortable manner. The floors 
are carpeted, and the tables are usually of mahogany. 
Chests of drawers of the same material are commonly 
seen, and so in many cases is a clock also, the possession 
of which article of furniture has often been pointed out 
as the certain indication of prosperity and of personal 
responsibility on the part of the working man." 
("Progress of the Nation," p. 623.) The same condition 
of things still prevails, for at the meeting of the British 
Association in Sheffield in 1879 Dr Hime read a paper 
on the vital statistics of the town, in which he says : — 
"Although handsome public buildings are not a prominent 
feature in the town, still there are few towns in England 
where the great bulk of the population is so well pro- 
vided for in the way of domestic architecture. 
Overcrowding is very rare; cellar dwellings are unknown; 
and almost every fiimily has an entire house, a most 
important agent in securing physical as well as moral 
health." (Transactions of British Association 1879.) 
Now this is a fact of the highest interest, and we 


naturally ask what peculiarity there is in the trade or 
circumstances of Sheffield^ in the first place, to create 
such an exceptional excellence in the standard of 
working class house accommodation, and, in the next 
place, to maintain it One thing is certain; it is not due 
to better wages. There are trades in Sheffield very 
highly paid, but the labourers belonging to them are 
described by the anonymous author of " An Inquiry into 
the Moral, Social, and Intellectual Condition of the 
Industrious Glasses of Sheffield '' (London, 1839) as being 
much less comfortable in their circumstances than the 
others. This writer speaks of some trades in which 
"the workmen are steady, intelligent, and orderiy, 
seldom the recipients of charity or parochial relief. 
They depend on their own exertions for the respectable 
maintenance of their families, and when trade is 
depressed they strive to live on diminished wages, or 
tsM back on resources secured by industry and economy. 
This healthy and vigorous condition is not attributable 
to high wages. The workmen in the edge-tool trade 
are extravagantly remunerated, and yet, as a body, tiiey 
are perhaps as irr^ular and dissipated in their habits as 
any in the town. Their families, in time of good trade, 
feel few of the advantages of prosperity, and when 
labour is little in demand they arc the first to need the 
aid of charity. These diflFerences are fitmiliar to the 
most superficial observer of the social and moral 
condition of the workmen in the several branches" 
(p. 14). But the same writer mentions a peculiarity in 
the trade of Sheffield which, he says, marks it off from 
every other manufacturing town, and that peculiarity 
may serve to provide us with the explanation we 


are seeking. "With us," he says, "the distinctions 
between masters and men are not always well marked. 
Persons are to a great extent both. The transition from 
the one to the other is easy and frequent in those 
branches where the tools are few and simple, and the 
capital required extremely small, which applies to the 
whole of the cutlery department." "The facility 
with which men become masters causes extraordinary 
competition, and itn inevitable result, insufficient 
remuneration." " Here merchants and manufacturers 

cannot become princes Thcr# is not 

sufficient play for large fortunes. The making of 
fortunes is with us a slow process. It is, however, far from 

being partial The longer period required 

in the making of them allows the mind time to adapt 
itself to its improved circumstances, not merely the 
speculative and money-getting part of the understanding, 
but the whole of its social, moral, and intellectual 
powers, without which means are a questionable good. 
Wealth and intelligence are accordingly with us more 
generally associated than in towns where immense 
fortunes are rapidly made. In the latter case, there is 
no time for adaptation, nor is it deemed necessary or at 
all important, where money is the measure by which all 
things are estimated. Another evil dependent on this 
sudden elevation in life is the great distance which is 
immediately placed between employer and employed" 
(p. 15). Class and class are thus better knit together 
in Sheffield than elsewhere. The exceptional facility of 
becoming masters seems to be the particular instru- 
mentality which has brought down the ideas and habits 
of comfort of the bourgeoisie and spread them among 



the working class, and which has always prevented 
the great mass of the latter from sinking contentedly 
into a lower general standard of life. It introduced 
among them that social ambition, which is the most 
eflTective spur to progress, and the best preservative 
against decline. The fiict that the exceptionally good 
house accommodation which prevails among the labour- 
ing population of Sheffield is not owing to exceptional, 
or even at all superior, wages, is one of much hope and 
encouragement What is possible in Sheffield cannot 
be impossible elsewhere; and what is possible in the 
matter of house accommodation cannot be hopeless in 
other branches of consumption. 

I shall be told that in all this I am only repeating the 
foolish idea of the French princess, who heard the 
people complain they could not get bread, and asked 
why then they did not buy cake. Where combinations 
are possible, it will be said, investments may be also 
possible ; but the great majority of the working class are 
not in a position to combine, and it is mere mockery to 
tell people to save and invest who can hardly contrive 
to cover their backs. To this I reply, that there is 
no reason to assume that trade unions have reached the 
utmost extension of which they are susceptible, or to 
despair of their introduction into the hitherto unorganised 
trades. It was only lately common to deny the possibility 
of combination among agricultural labourers, and yet, 
scattered as they are, they have shown themselves not 
only able to combine, but to raise wages eflFectively by 
means of their combinations. It would no doubt be 
a much more difficult task to introduce an efficient 
organisation among people like needle-women or on- 


BkiUed day labourers, but it is far from impossible, and 
its initial difficulties might be smoothed by philanthropic 
assistance. It is true that, even when organisation has 
spoken its last word, much of the distressing poverty 
that now exists would probably still remain, because we 
must not disguise from ourselves the fact that much of 
that poverty is the direct fruit of vice, disease, or 
indolence. But socialism could not cope with this 
mass of misery any better than the present system, for 
men don't drink and loaf and enter into improvident 
marriages or illicit alliances because they happen to be 
paid for their labour by contract with a capitalist 
instead of valuation by a State officer, and they certainly 
would not cease doing any of these things because an 
indulgent State undertook to save them frt)m the 
natural penalties of doing them. 



Mr George: sent his book into the world with the 
remarkable prediction that it would find not only 
readers. but apostles, "^^^latever be its fate," he says, 
" it will be read by some who in their heart of hearts 

have taken the cross of a new crusade 

The truth I have tried to make clear will not find easy 
acceptance. If that could be, it would have been 
accepted long ago. If that could be, it would never 
have been obscured. But it will find friends — those 
who will toil for it, suffer for it ; if need be, die for it 
This is the power of the Truth " (p. 393). Mr George s 
prediction is not more remarkable than its fulfilment. 
His work has had an unusually extensive sale; a hundred 
editions in America, and an edition of 60,000 copies in 
this country are sufficient evidences of that; but the 
most striking feature in its reception is precisely that 
which its author foretold: it created an army of 
apostles, and was enthusiastically circulated, like the 
testament of a new dispensation. Societies were formed, 

* Progress and Poverty : An inquiry into the cause of industrial 
depressions, and of the increase of want with increase of wealth. 
The Remedy. By Henry George. London : Kegan Paul, Trench 


journals were devised to propagate its saving doctrines, 
and little companies of the faithful held stated meetings 
for its reading and exposition. It was carried as a 
message of consolation to the homes of labour. The 
author was hailed as a new and better Adam Smith, as 
at once a reformer of science and a renovator of society. 
Smith unfolded " The Nature arid Causes of the Wealth 
of Nations," but to Mr George, we were told, wa^ 
reserved the greater part of unravelling " the nature and 
causes of the poverty of nations," and if the obsolete 
science of wealth had served to make England rich, the 
young science of poverty was at length to make her 
people happy with the money. Justice and liberty 
were to begin their reign, and our eyes were to see — to 
quote Mr George's own words — " the City of God on 
earth, with its walls of jasper and its gates of pearl " 
(p. 392). 

The fervour of this first reception may — as was 
perhaps only natural — have suflfered some abatement 
since, but it affords a striking proof how largely modem 
society is disquieted by the results of our vaunted 
industrial civilisation. Even those amongst us who are 
most unwilling to disparage the improvement that has 
really taken place during the last hundred years in the 
circumstances of the people, still cannot help feeling 
that the improvement has fallen far short of what might 
have been reasonably expected from the contemporaneous 
growth of resources and productive power. But numbers 
of people will not allow that any improvement has 
occurred at all, and deliver themselves to an unhappy 
and unwarranted pessimism on the whole subject. 
Because industrial progress haa not extinguished poverty 


they conclude that it has not even lessened it, that it has 
no power to lessen it, nay, that its real tendency is to 
aggravate it, that it increases wealth with the one hand 
but increases want with the other, so that civilisation 
has developed into a purely upper class feast, where the 
rich are grossly overfilled with good things, and the 
poor are sent always emptier and emptier away. 
» Invention, they tell us, has followed invention ; machi- 
nery has multiplied the labourer's productivity at least 
ten-fold ; new colonies have been founded, new markets 
and channels of commerce opened in every quarter of the 
globe; gold fields have been discovered, free trade has been 
introduced, railways and ocean steamers have shortened 
time and space themselves in our service. Each and all 
of these things have excited hopes of introducing an era 
of popular improvement, and each and all of them have 
left these hopes unfulfilled. They think, therefore, they 
now do well to despair, and they fortify themselves in 
their gloom by citing the opinion of Mr Mill, that " it is 
questionable whether all the mechanical inventions yet 
made have lightened the day's toil of any human being," 
without observing that Mr Mill immediately follows up 
that opinion by expressing the confident assurance that 
it was 'Mn the nature and the futurity" of these inventions 
to effect that improvement These gloomy views have 
in France received the name of ISisyphiam, because they 
represent the working class under the present industrial 
system as being struck with a curse like that of Sisyphus, 
always encouraged by fresh technical advantages to 
renewed expectations, and always doomed to see their 
expectations perish for ever. 

Now, it was upon these despondent and burdened 


souls that Mr Oeorge counted so confidently, and, as 
time has shown, so correctly, for his apostles and 
martyrs; and he counted so confidently upon them 
because he had himself borne their sorrows, and drunk 
of their despair, and because he now believed most 
entirely that his discoveries would bring '^ inexpressible 
cheer*' to their minds, as, in the same circumstances, 
they had already brought inexpressible cheer to his own. 
" When I first realised," he says, " the squalid misery of 
a great city " — that is, of the latest and most character- 
istic product of industrial development — "it appalled 
and tormented me, and would not let me rest for 
thinking of what caused it and how it could be cured " 
(p. 395). Poverty seemed to him to be most abounding 
and most intense in precisely the most advanced countries 
in the world. " Where the conditions to which material 
progress everywhere tends are most fiilly realised — that 
is to say, where population is densest, wealth greatest, 
and the machinery of production and exchange most 
highly developed — we find the deepest poverty, the 
sharpest struggle for existence, and the more enforced 
idleness" (p. 4). Nay, poverty, he thought, seemed 
" to take a darker aspect " in every community at the 
very moment when it might be reasonably expected to 
brighten — at the moment when the community made a 
distinct advance in material civilisation, when "closer 
settlements and a more intimate connection with the 
rest of the world and greater utilisation of labour-saving 
machinery make possible greater economies in production 
and exchange, and wealth increases in consequence, not 
merely in the aggr^ate, but in proportion to population " 
(p. 4). This process of impoverishment might, he says, 


escape observation in an old country, because such a 
country has generally contained from time immemorial a 
completely impoverished class, who could not be further 
impoverished without going out of existence altogether, 
but in a new settlement like California, where he resided, 
poverty might be seen almost in the act of being 
produced by progress before one's very eyes. AVhile 
the colony had nothing better than log cabins or cloth 
shanties, '^ there was no destitution,'' though there might 
be no luxury. But "the tramp comes with the loco- 
motive, and alms-houses and prisons are as surely the 
marks of 'material progress' as are costly dwellings, 
rich warehouses, and magnificent churches" (p. 4). 
^'In the United States it is clear that squalor and 
misery, and the vices and crimes that spring from them 
everywhere, increase as the village grows to the city, 
and the march of development brings the advantages of 
improved methods of production and exchange. It is 
in the older and richer sections of the Union that 
pauperism and distress are becoming most painfully 
apparent. If there is less deep poverty in San Francisco 
than in New York, is it not because San Francisco is 
yet behind New York in all that both cities are striving 
for? When San Francisco reaches the point where 
New York now is, who can doubt that there will also 
be ragged and barefooted children in her streets?" 
(p. 6). The prospect alarmed and agitated him pro- 
foundly. It deprived him, as it has deprived so many 
of the continental socialists, of all religious belief for if 
the real order of things make an ever-deepening poverty 
to be the only destiny of the mass of mankind, it seemed 
vain to dream of a controlling providence or an immortal 


life. " It is difiBcult," says he, " to reconcile the idea of 
human immortality with the idea that nature wastes 
men by constantly bringing them into being where there 
is no room for them. It is impossible to reconcile the 
idea of an intelligent and beneficent Creator with the 
belief that the wretchedness and degradation, which are 
the lot of such a large proportion of human kind, result 
from his enactments ; while the idea that man mentally 
and physically is the result of slow modifications per- 
petuated by heredity, irresistibly suggests the idea that 
it is the race life, not the individual life, which is the 
object of human existence. Thus has vanished with 
many of us, and is still vanishing with more of us, that 
belief which in the battles and ills of life afibrds the 
strongest support and deepest consolation " (p. 396). 

The inquiry Mr George undertook was consequently 
one of the most vital personal concern to himself, and 
we are glad to think that it has been the means of 
restoring to him the faith and hope he prizes so much. 
"Out of this inquiry," he tells us, "has come to me 
something I did not think to find, and a faith that was 
dead revives " (p. 395). 

It may be ungracious to disturb a peace won so 
sorely and offered so sincei-ely to others, but the truth 
is, Mr Greorge has simply lost his faith by one illusion 
and recovered it again by another. He first tormented 
his brain with imaginary facts, and has then restored it 
with erroneous theories. His argument is really little 
better than a prolonged and, we will own, athletic 
beating of the air, but since both the imaginary facts 
and the erroneous theories of which it is composed have 
obtained considerable vogue^ it is well to subject it to 


a critical examination. I shall therefore take up 
successively, firsts his problem; second, his scientific 
explanation ; and third, his practical remedy. 

I. Mr George's Problem. 

He states his problem thus : — " I propose to seek the 
law which associates poverty with progress and increases 
want with advancing wealth " (p. 8). The first rule of 
scientific investigation is to prove one's fact before 
proceeding to explain it " There are more fitlse fiacts 
than false theories in the world," and a short examina- 
tion whether a phenomenon actually exists may often 
relieve us from a long search after its law. Mr George, 
however, does not observe this rule. He seeks for the 
law of a phenomenon without first verifying the pheno- 
menon itself, nay, apparently without so much as 
suspecting that it ought to be verified. He assumes a 
particular view of the social situation to be correct, 
because he assumes it. But his assumption is a purely 
subjective and, as will presently be shown, delusive 
impression. We imagine our train to be going back 
when a parallel train is going faster forward, and we are 
apt to take the general condition of mankind to be 
retrograding when we fix our eyes exclusively on the 
rapid and remarkable enrichment of the fortunate few. 
What Mr George calls " the great enigma of our time " 
is just the enigma of the apparently receding train, and 
he proceeds to solve it by coiling himself in a comer 
and working out an elaborate explanation trom his 
own inner consciousness ^'by the methods of political 
economy," instead of taking the simple and obvious 
precaution of looking out of the opposite carriage* 


window and testing, by hard fitcts, whether his im- 
pression was correct. Had he taken this precaution, 
had he resorted to an examination of the actual state of 
the ^Eicts, he would have found good reason to change 
his impression; he would have found that on the 
whole poverty is not increasing, that in proportion to 
population it is considerably less in the more advanced 
industrial countries than in the less advanced ones, 
and that he had simply mistaken unequal rates of 
progress for simultaneous movements of progress and 
decline. His impression, it must be admitted, is a 
prejudice of considerable currency ; there are many who 
tell us, as he does, that want is growing pari passu with 
wealth, and even gaining on it ; that if the rich are getting 
richer, the poor are at the same time getting poorer ; 
but it is a question of fact, and yet no one has ever 
seriously tried to prove the assertion by an appeal to 
fact That Mr George should have neglected to submit 
it to such a test, is the more remarkable, because he was, 
as he has told us, "tormented" in mind by it, and 
because he acknowledges that it is a " paradox " — i.e., 
against the reason of the case, and that it is also, to some 
extent at least, against appearances. He owns, for 
example, that "the average of comfort, leisure, and 
refinement has been raised," and that though the lowest 
class may not share in these gains, yet even they have 
in some ways improved. " I do not mean," he says, 
" that the condition of the lowest class has nowhere nor 
in anything been improved, but that there is nowhere 
any improvement which can be credited to increased 
productive power. I mean that the tendency of what 
we call material progress is in no wise to improve the 


condition of the lowest class in the essentials of healUiy, 
happy human life. Nay more, that it is to still further 
depress the condition of the lowest class. The new 
forces, elevating in their nature though they be, do not 
act upon the social fabric ftom underneath, as was for a 
long time hoped and believed, but strike it at a point 
intermediate between top and bottom. It is as though 
an immense wedge were being forced, not underneath 
society, but through society. Those who are above the 
point of separation are elevated, but those who are below 
are crushed down " (p. 5). From this passage it would 
appear that, according to Mr George, the condition of 
all except the lowest class has improved in consequence 
0/ material progress, and that the condition of the lowest 
class has improved in spite of it. He does not under- 
take, it seems, to affirm of any class that it has, as a 
matter of actual fact, become impoverished in the 
course of social development, but only that there is a 
tendency in the increase of productive power — in " the 
new productive forces" — in "material progress" — ^to 
impoverish the lower strata of society. But then he 
contends that these forces are practising exactly the 
same tendency on some of the highest strata, on classes 
that we know have been growing richer and richer every 
day. For he tells us that these new forces, entering our 
social system like a wedge, depress all who happen to be 
on the wrong side ; and we shall presently discover that 
this unhappy company on the wrong side of the wedge 
embraces many groups of persons who will be excessively 
astonished to learn that they are there. It includes, not 
only the poor labourers who live on wages, but the 
great capitalists who live on profits ; the great cotton 


spinners, ironmasters, brewers, bankers, contractors ; the 
very men, in short, of all the world, whom the new 
productive forces have most conspicuously and enor- 
mously enriched. I shall revert to this preposterous 
conclusion later on, but at present it is enough to say 
that a tide, which so many have swum against and 
swum to fortune, cannot be very formidable, and at all 
events can furnish no clue whatever to the possible 
condition of those who are exposed to it For that wc 
have only one resort. It is a plain question of fact — is 
poverty really increasing ? Are the poor really getting 
poorer ? And this can only be competently decided by 
the ordinary inductive evidence of facts. The data of 
this kind which we possess for settling the question, 
may not be so exact as would be desimble, but there is 
no higher tribunal to which we can appeal. The 
question must be answered by them or not answered at 

Now any data we have all conduct to the conclusion 
that poverty is not increasing. If poverty were increasing 
with the increase of wealth, it would show itself either 
in an increase of pauperism, or in a decline in the 
general standard of living among the labouring classes, 
or in a fall in the average duration of life, and these 
symptoms would be most acute in the countries that 
are most wealthy and progressive. Now, let us take 
England as a crucial case of a country in a very 
advanced stage of industrial development Is English 
pauperism greater now than it was before the "new 
productive forces " entered the country ? Is the general 
standard of living among the labouring classes lower ? 
Is the average duration of life less ? Are poverty and 


the various symptoms of poverty more acute in Elngland 
than in more backward countries ? 

In a foot-note to the passage last quoted from his 
book, Mr Greorge explains that the improvement he 
recognises in the lot of the lowest class does not consist 
in greater ability to obtain the necessaries of life. Does 
he mean, because more things are now reckoned among 
the necessaries of life ? If so, we fear there is no chance 
of that difficulty being removed, nor indeed is there any 
reason for desiring it to be so. Men's wants will always 
increase with their incomes, and the stru^le to make 
both ends meet may in that case indefinitely continue. 
But the fact remains that they have more wants satisfied 
than before, that they realise a higher standard of life, 
and that is the mark, and indeed the substance, of a 
more diffused comfort and civilization. It is true that 
as the general standard of living rises, people feel the 
pinch of poverty at a higher level than before, and 
become pauperised for the want of comforts that are 
now necessary, but which formerly few ever dreamt of 
possessing. To have no shoes is a mark of extreme 
indigence to-day ; it was the common lot a century ago. 
People may be growing in general comfort, and yet their 
ability to obtain necessaries remain stationary, because 
their customary circle of necessaries may be always widen- 
ing. The real sign of an advancing poverty is when the 
circle of recognised necessaries is getting narrow, and yet 
men have more difficulty in obtaining them than before ; in 
other words, 1st, wheu the average scale of living £bJ1s ; 
and 2nd, when a larger proportion of the people are 
unable to obtain it, reduced though it be. Now, in 
EiUgland, the contrary has happened ; the general 


standard of living has risen, and the proportion of those 
who are unable to obtain it has declined. 

In the preceding chapter I adduced evidence to show 
how greatly improved the working claas standard of 
living now is from what it was two hundred years ago, 
in the good old times socialist writers like to sing of, when 
men had not yet sought out many inventions and the 
world was not oppressed by the large system of produc- 
tion. But let us tap the line between then and now 
at what point we may, and we find the same result ; the 
tendency is always tp a better style of living. Mr Giffen, 
for example, in his address, as President of the Statistical 
Society, on 20th November, 1888, compares the con- 
dition of the working classes to-day with their 
condition half a century since, and concludes from official 
returns that while the sovereign goes as far as it did 
then in the purchase of commodities, money wages have 
increased from 30 to 100 per cent., and, at the same 
time, the hours of labour have been reduced some 20 
per cent. Except butcher meat and house-rent, every 
other element of the working man's expenditure is 
cheaper, and butcher meat was fifty years ago hardly 
an element of his expenditure at all, and the kind of 
house he then occupied was much inferior, as a rule, 
to what he occupies now, bad as the latter may in 
many cases be. 

But while the general standard of comfort has been 
rising, the proportion of the population who are unable 
to obtain it has been diminishmg. I have already 
stated that King estimated the number of persons in 
receipt of relief in England and Wales in 1688 at 
900,000. Now in 1882 the average number in receipt 


of relief at one and the same time was, according to 
official returns, 803,719 ; and if we are right in doubling 
that figure to find the whole number of paupers 
relieved in the course of the year (that being the 
proportion borne in Scotland), then we may conclude 
that there are some 1,600,000 paupers in England and 
Wales at the present day. That is to say, with nearly 
five times the population, we have less than twice the 
pauperism. The result is far from being entirely grati- 
fying ; a million and a half of paupers (with more than 
half as many again in Ireland and Scotland) constitute 
a very grave problem, or rather ganglion of problems ; 
but the fact supplies a decisive enough refutation of the 
pessimist idea that the actual movement of pauperism 
has been one of increase instead of one of decrease. 

During these two hundred years there is no period 
in which wealth and productive power multiplied more 
rapidly than the last thirty years, and, therefore, if Mr 
Greorge*s ideas were correct, there is no period that 
should show such a marked increase of pauperism. 
What do we find? We find that pauperism has steadily 
declined in England during that period. The decrease 
has been gradual and attended with no such striking 
interruptions as were frequently exhibited in former 
times. But the most remarkable feature about it is 
that the number of able-bodied paupers has diminished 
by nearly a half; from 201,644 in 1849 to 106,280 in 
1882. That is the very class of paupers whom Mr 
Qeorge represents it to be the special effect of increas- 
ing productive power to multiply, and yet, though 
wealth and productive power have made almost unex- 
ampled progress, and though the population has also 


considerably risen, in the interval, we have not more 
than half as many of this class of paupers now b& we 
had thirty years ago. No doubt this result is due in 
part to a better system of administering relief, just 
as it is due in part to the growth of trade unions and 
friendly societies, to the extension of savings' banks, 
and to other agencies. But if Mr GJeorge's principle is 
true, could such a result have taken place at all ? If 
" material progress " has a tendency to multiply "tramps" 
or able-bodied paupers, the tendency must be weak, 
indeed, when a little judicious management on the part 
of public bodies, or of working men themselves, would 
not only counteract it, but turn the current so strongly 
the other way. But the truth is that the " tramp " has 
never been so little of a care in this country as at the 
present hour, and that it is to material progress we owe 
his disappearance. He was a very serious problem to 
our ancestors for centuries and centuries. The whole 
history of our social legislation is a history of ineffectual 
attempts to deal with vagrants and sturdy beggars, and 
we are less troubled with them now mainly because 
industrial progress has given them immensely more 
, opportunities of making an honest and r^ular living. 
Industrial progress has all along been creating work and 
annihilating tramps, but it has all along been followed 
by absurd and perverse complaints like Mr Greorge's, 
that it was only creating tramps and annihilating 
opportunities of work. Mr George says the tramp 
comes with the locomotive, but a writer in 1673 
(quoted by Sir F. Eden, " State of the Poor," I., 190) 
declared that he came with the stage coach. He 
pictures the happy age before stage coaches, when (as 

B 2 


Mr Greorge says of Califomia) there might be no luxury 
but there was no destitution, when every man kept one 
horse for himself and another for his groom. But with 
the introduction of the stage coach the scene waa 
changed. People got anywhere for a few shillings, and 
ceased to keep horses. They were so much the richer 
themselves, but their grooms were ruined and thrown 
upon the world without horse or home. Now class 
privations like these are incidental to industrial trans- 
formations, and in an age of unusual industrial transitions 
like ours, they may be expected to be unusually 
numerous. But the effect of material progress on the 
whole is to prevent such privations rather than 
cause them. It multiplies temporary redundancies of 
labour, but it multiplies still more the opportunities for 
permanently relieving them. Why are we now firee from 
the old scourges of &mine and famine prices ? Partly 
because of free trade, but mainly because of improved com- 
munications, because of the steamer and the locomotive. 
Even commercial crises are getting less severe in their 
effects. The distress among our labouring classes 
during the American Civil War was nothing compared 
with their sufferings under the complete paralysis of. 
industry that followed the close of the great continental 
war in 1815. Miss Martineau tells us of that time : — 
"The poor abandoned their residences, whole parishes 
were deserted, and crowds of paupers, increasing in 
numbers as they went from parish to parish, spread 
wider and wider this awfiil desolation.'' (History of 
England, I. 39.) No such severe redundancy of labour 
has taken place since then, and the redundancies that 
attend changes of fashion or of mechanical agency, though 


they undoubtedly constitute a serious difficulty, are yet 
lightened and not aggravated by the various and com- 
plex ramifications of modem industry. Except a new 
colony there is no place where new comers are so easily 
taken on as in a highly-developed industrial country. 
There are Inore poor in Norway than in England, and 
they are increasing, yet in Norway there is no rent and 
no great cities. Mr George may say, and in fact he does 
say, that in old countries the number of paupers is 
reduced by simple starvation ; but if that were so, the 
death rate would be increasing. But in England the 
death rate is really diminishing. Let us again quote 
from Mr GiflFen's address: — "Mr Humphreys, in his 
able paper on 'The Recent Decline in the English 
Death Rate,' showed conclusively that the decline in 
the death rate in the last five years, 1876-80, as com- 
pared with the rates on which Dr Farr's English Life 
Table was based — rates obtained in the years 1841-45 
— amounted to from 28 to 32 per cent, in males at each 
quinquennial of the 20 years, 6-25, and in females at 
each quinquennial from 5-25, to between 24 and 36 
per cent ; and that the effect of this decline in the death 
rate was to raise the mean duration of life among males 
from 39.9 to 41.9 years, a gain of two years in the 
average duration of life. Mr Humphreys also showed 
that by far the larger proportion of the increased 
duration of human life in England was lived at useful 
ages, and not at the dependent ages of either childhood 
or old age. No such change could have taken place 
without a great increase in the vitality of the people. 
Not only had fewer died, but the masses who had 
lived must have been healthier and suffered less from 


sickness than they diA From the nature of the figures 
also the improvement must also have been among the 
masses and not among a select class where figures threw 
up the averaj^e. The improvement, too, actuaUy 
recorded obviously related to a transition stage. Many 
of the improvements in the condition of th*e working 
classes had only taken place quite recently. They 
had not, therefore, aflFected all through their existence 
any but the youngest lives. "When the improvements 
had been in existence for a longer period, so that 
the lives of all who are living had been affected 
from birth by the changed conditions, we might infer 
that even a greater gain in the mean duration of life 
will be shown. As it was the gain was enormous. 
Whether it was due to better and more abundant food 
and clothing, to better sanitation, to better knowledge 
of medicine, or to these and other causes combined, 
improvement had beyond all question occurred." The 
decline of pauperism in this country then is not due to 
any increasing mortality in the classes fix>m which the 
majority of the paupers come ; but it is one among 
many other proofs that these classes have profited, like 
their neighbours, by the course of material progress. 
They may not have profited in the same degree as 
some others, or in the degree we think desirable and 
believe to be yet possible for themselves. But they 
have profited. The situation is really, as we have said, 
one of unequal rates of progress, and not one of 
simultaneous progress and decline. 

And this Mr George seems, at a later stage of his 
argument, fi'eely to admit For when he comes to state 
"the law which associates poverty with progress and 


increases want with advancing wealth/' he explains that 
he does not contend that poverty is associated with 
progress at all, but only that a lessening proportion of 
the gross produce of society falls to some classes; 
that want may possibly not in the least increase with 
advancing wealth ; that all classes may be the 
wealthier for the growth of wealth; and practically, 
that the only evidence of the poverty of the poor is 
the greater richness of the rich. It seems he is not 
explaining in any wise why the poor are getting poorer, 
but only why they are not getting rich so fast as some 
of their neighbours. We must quote chapter and verse 
for this extraordinary vacillation about the very problem 
he wants to solve. "Perhaps," he says, in the last 
paragraph of Book III., chapter vi. (p. 154), "it may be 
well to remind the reader, before closing this chapter, 
of what has been before stated — that I am using the 
word wages, not in the sense of a quantity, but in the 
sense of a proportion. When I say that wages fall as 
rent rises, I do not mean that the quantity of wealth 
obtained by labourers as wages is necessarily less, but 
that the proportion which it bears to the whole produce 
is necessarily less. The proportion may diminish while 
the quantity remains the same, or even increases. If 
the margin of cultivation descends from the productive 
point, which we will call 25, to the productive point we 
will call 20, the rent of all lands that before paid rent 
will increase by this diflference, and the proportion of 
the whole produce which goes to labourers as wages 
will to the same extent diminish ; but if in the mean- 
time the advance of the arts or the economies that 
become possible with greater population have so increased 


the productive power of labour that at 20 the same 
exertion will produce as much wealth' as before at 25, 
labourers will get as wages as great a quantity as before, 
and the relative &11 of wages will not be noticeable in 
any diminution of the necessaries or comforts of the 
labourer, but only in the increased value of land and the 
greater comforts and more lavish expenditure of the 
rent receiving class." It thus turns out that the alleged 
impoverishment of the labouring classes through the 
increasing wealth of society — the sad and desolating 
spectacle that " tormented " Mr George ." so that he 
could not rest" — the cruel mystery that robbed him 
even of his religious faith, and moved him to write his 
powerful but inconclusive book — this was no real 
impoverishment at all, but only an iq)parent one. It 
is not so much as "noticeable" in "any diminution 
of the necessaries or comforts of the labourer ;" it is 
noticeable only in "the greater comforts and more 
lavish expenditure of the rent receiving class." The 
poverty of the labourer consists in the greater wealth 
of the landlord. The poor are not poorer; they 
only seem poorer, because certain of the rich have got so 
much richer. The problem is thus, on Mr George s own 
showing, just the mock problem of the apparently 
receding train. 

But let us take up this new issue. Mr George's 
assertion now is that wages are a less proportion of the 
gross produce of the country than they were, because 
rent absorbs a correspondingly larger proportion than it 
did. Is that so ? Mr George does not think of showing 
that it is: he assumes it, without apparently having 
the smallest pretence of fitct for his assertion. His 


assumption is entirely wrong. Bent is a much smaller 
proportion of the gross produce of the country than it 
was, and wages are not only in their aggregate a larger 
proportion of the aggregate produce of the country, but 
in their average a larger proportion of the per capita 
production. There is no need to rest in random 
assumptions on the matter. The gross annual produce 
of the United Kingdom is reckoned at present at twelve 
hundred millions sterling, the rent of the land at less 
than seventy millions, or about one-seventeenth of the 
whole. In the time of King and Davenant, 200 years 
ago or so, the annual produce of England and Wales 
was forty-three millions, and the rent of land ten 
millions, little less than one-fourth. (Davenant's 
Works, iv., 71). It is hardly worth while, however, 
making a formal assertion of so self-evident a proposition 
as that rent constitutes a much smaller fraction of 
the national income now that wealth is invested so 
vastly in trade and manufactures, than it did when 
agriculture was the one great business of life ; but it is 
perhaps better worth showing that rent does not absorb 
a greater proportion even of the agricultural produce of 
the country than it used to do. Rent has risen nearly 
200 per cent, in the course of the last hundred years, 
but it does not take one whit a larger share of the gross 
produce of the land than it took then. 

According to the calculations of Davenant and King, 
the gross produce of agriculture amounted, at the time 
of the Revolution, to four rents, or, allowing for tithes, 
to' three rents ; but this was only on the arable. The 
produce of other land, natural pasture and forest land 
and the like, came to less than two rents ; so that while 


the rent of arable was not more than a third of the 
produce (or to state it exactly 27 per cent), the rent of 
land generally was more nearly a half The figures are — 

Gross Produce. Rent 

Arable Land . . £9,079,000 £2,480,000 
Other Land . . 12,000,000 7,000,000 

Total . . . £21,079,000 £9,480,000 

(Davenant's Works, iv., 70). Arthur Young, a century 
later, declares that the doctrine of three rents was 
already exploded, and that farmers had b^un to 
expend so much on high cultivation that they would be 
very ill content if they produced no more than three 
rents. In fSstct, he declares that even in former times 
rent could never have amounted to a third of the 
produce, except on lands of the very first quality, and 
that a fourth was more probably the average proportion. 
In his "Political Arithmetic," published in 1779 (Part 
IL, pp. 27, 31), he estimated the gross agricultural 
produce of England (exclusive of Wales) at £72,826,827, 
and the gross agricultural rental at £19,200,000, or 26 
per cent., very nearly one fourth of the produce. To come 
down nearer our own time, M^Culloch estimated Uie 
gross agricultural produce of England and Wales in 
1842-3 to have been £141,606,857, and the gross agri- 
cultural rental £37,795,905, or 26 per cent of the 
produce (" Statistical Account of the British Empire," 
3rd Edition, p. 553). The gross agricultural produce 
of the United Kingdom is now 270 millions sterling, 
and the gross agricultural rental 70 millions — Mr 
M ulhall, indeed, estimates it at only 58 millions ; but 
at 70 millions it would be as nearly as possible, 62 


per cent, curiously enough the same figure exactly as 
in 1843 and in 1779, and almost the same as in 1689. 

So for of rent; now as to wages. I have already, in last 
chapter (p. 348), produced some evidence to show that 
the average labourer's wages bears a higher proportion 
to the average income of the country, or, in other words, 
that the labourer enjoys a higher per capita share of the 
gross annual produce of the country than he did in 
former times, and I need not repeat that evidence here. 
Mr Mulhall has made some calculations which confirm 
the conclusions there drawn (" Dictionary of Statistics," 
p. 246). He compares the income of the people of the 
United Kingdom at the three epochs of 1688, 1800, 
and 1883. He divides the people into classes and 
numbers them by families, stating the total income of 
each class and the total number of &milies among 
whom it was divided. I select the two columns con- 
taining the results for the whole population and the 
results for the working class. 

I. Number of Families — 

A.D. 1688. A;D. 1800. A.D. 1883. 

Whole Nation . . 1,200,000 1,780,000 6,575,000 
Working Class . . 759,000 1,117,000 4,629,000 

II. Earnings — 

A.D. 1688. A.D. 1880. A.D. 1883. 

^ion } «£4^»^^^>^^^ £230,000,000 £1,265,000,000 
^k^^l ^hOOOfiOO 78,000,000 447,000,000 

A single glance at these tables will show that the 
aggregate wages of the country constitutes a slightly 
better proportion of its aggregate annual income at 
present than in 1800, and a decidedly better proportion 


than in 1688. But if we look, not to the aggregate income 
of the class, but to the average income of the individual 
femilies it contains, the result is in nowise more &vour- 
able to Mr Greorge's assumption. The following table 
will show that : — 

III. Average Income of Families — 

A. D. .1688. A.D. 1880. A.D. 1883. 

Whole Nation. . .£37 £129 £189 
Working Class . . 14 69 96 

The average working class income was thus 37 per cent* 
of the average income of the country in 1688 ; 63 per 
cent of it in 1800 ; and 51 per cent of it in 1883. The 
difference between the last two epochs is so indecisive 
Uiat we may count them practically identical The real 
position of affairs then as to the proportion of wages to 
national produce is this, that wages eiyoy a considerably 
larger share of that produce now than they did at the 
end of the seventeenth century, and about the same 
proportion as they enjoyed at the end of the eighteentiL 
If, accordingly, Mr George resolves to stick by the point 
of proportion he would therefore have no more solid 
ground to stand on than on the point of quantity. 
Rent, as a proportion of the entire wealth of the 
country, has enormously declined, and even as a pro- 
portion of agricultural wealth, has not increased Wages 
as a proportion have not declined, but rather risen. 

These, among other things, are indications that we 
have been concluding too hastily that concentration of 
wealth is the characteristic tendency of the time, and 
ignoring the existence of many minor and less con- 
spicuous forces which have been working in the contrary 
direction. The real prospect at present is towards 
difiusion. The enormous accumulations that have 


marked the last hundred and fifty years have owed their 
existence largely to causes that cannot be expected to 
endure ; in the case of land, to vicious laws directly 
fitvouring aggregations, and in the case of trade, to the 
unparalleled rapidity of the transformations and ex- 
tensions industry has undergone during the period. 
Great inequalities are natural to such a time. Huge 
fortunes are made by pioneers, and will not be easily 
made by their successors. Railway contracting will 
never produce again a millionaire like Mr Brassey, but 
it will continue to furnish the means of many moderate 
fortunes and competencies. So with every other new 
branch of industry, or new field of investment. The 
lucky person who is the first to occupy it may rise to 
great riches, but his successors will divide the custom, 
and instead of one large fortune, there will be a 
considerable number of small ones. Mr George himsejf 
admits that the opportunities of making large fortunes 
are growing more limited, but oddly enough he considers 
the feet to be a signal evidence of " the march of concen- 
tration:" In his " Social Problems " (p. 69) he writes : 
^'An English fnend, a wealthy retired Manchester 
manu&cturer, once told me the story of his life. How 
he went to work at eight years of age, helping to make 
twine, when twine was made entirely by hand. How 
when a young man, he walked to Manchester, and 
having got credit for a bale of flax, made it into twine 
and sold it How, building up a little trade, he got 
others to work for him. How when machinery b^an 
to be invented, and steam was introduced, he took 
advantage of them, until he had a big factory and made 
a fortune, when he withdrew to spend the rest of his 


days at ease, leaving his business to his son. ^Supposing 
you were a young man now/ said I, * could you walk 
into Manchester and do that again V ' No/ replied 
he, *no one could. I coiddn't with fifty thousand 
pounds in place of my five shillings.' " The true moral 
of this little story is of course that it is more difficult to 
amass a huge fortune in that particular line now than 
when machinery was young, and that a man * with 
£50,000 to start with must now content himself with a 
much poorer figure than Mr George's lucky friend made 
out of nothing. Would Mr George compute what limit 
could be set to the sum his friend might have amassed, had 
he started in those golden days with £50,000 instead of 
five shillings ? Even as things stood, his solitary success 
did not distribute the wealth of Manchester any the 
better among his fellow spinners who were not fortunate 
enough to get credit for a bale of flax, or pushing 
enough to ask for it, and were not in a position to take 
advantage of the first introduction of a new power, and 
rise with it to great wealth. That the stream of things 
is now making for more moderate fortunes, and more (^ 
them, is confirmed by the testamentary statistics of the 
last ten years recently published by the Spectator 
newspaper. These figures show that the number of 
fortunes of the first rank left during that period has 
been very much less than it was in the preceding ten 
years, but that the number of moderate fortunes has 
been very much larger. 

What the future may hide in it I shall not venture to 
divine. It will no doubt bring upon industry fresh 
transformations, but we can hardly expect them to be 
so numerous or so rapid as in the brilliant era c^ 


industrial progress and colonial development we have 
passed through^ and some at least of the changes that 
are in store for us point, as I have shown in the intro- 
ductory chapter of this book, to a greater diffusion rather 
than a greater concentration in the future. Mr George 
says : " All the currents of the time run to concentration. 
To successfully resist it we must throttle steam and 
discharge electricity from human service" (p. 232). 
Now steam has undoubtedly been a great concentrator, 
but electricity, which is likely to take its place in the 
future, will to all appearance be as great a distributor. 
Mr George is equally mistaken regarding the real effect 
of the other " currents of the time." " That concentra- 
tion is the order of development," says he, " there can 
be no mistaking — the concentration of people in large 
cities, the concentration of handicrafts in large fectories, 
the concentration of transportation by railroad and 
steamship lines, and of agricultural operations in large 
fields. The most trivial businesses are being con- 
centrated in the same way — errands are run and carpet 
sacks are carried by corporations" (p. 232). The 
concentration of people in cities is not the same thing 
as the concentration of the wealth of those cities in the 
hands of a few individuals. The centralisation of labour 
in cities has assisted the birth of the trade union and 
the co-operative society, which are among the best 
agencies for difiusing wealth ; and the growth of joint- 
stock companies is a strange proof of a tendency to 
greater concentration of wealth, for the joint-stock 
company is really an instrument of the small capital, 
enabling it by combination to compete successfully with 
the larger ; and as to agriculture the real tendency, in 


this country at anyrate^ seems to be to lesser holdings. 
When we complain of the inequalities of our time — and 
I am far from desiring to underrate their extent or to 
palliate their mischievousness — we are apt to forget 
how largely the real and natural process of evolution is 
after all one of distribution, how much the most 
conspicuous of the inequalities have been incidental to 
a transition period, and due to causes of a temporary 
nature, and how many indications we possess that they 
are not unlikely to be corrected and moderated in the 
future course of social development Some of the 
official returns made in connection with the income 
tax show that the immense increase of wealth of the last 
thirty years has been fer from being reaped by 
any single class, but has been shared pretty evenly by 
all the classes included in those returns. We possess 
detailed accounts of the number of persons paying 
income tax in each grade of income under Schedule D, 
from the year 1849, and if we compare the figures of 
that year with those of 1879, we shall obtain a fiur 
index to the movement of distribution during those 
thirty years. Schedule D, it is true, includes only 
incomes derived from trades and professions, but these 
incomes may fiiirly enough be taken as sufficiently 
characteristic to afford a trustworthy indication of the 
general movement While population increased in die 
thirty years by 22 per cent., the number of incomes 
liable to income tax increased by 161 per cent, and of 
these, the incomes that have increased in much the 
largest proportion are precisely those middling or lower 
middling incomes which I have before shown to have 
unfortunately declined since 1688. While the number 


of incomes over £1000 a year has increased by 166 per 
cent.^ the number of incomes between £150 and £400 
a year has increased by 256 per cent. These figures 
prove that the tendency of things, so &r as it concerns 
the classes above the labourers,' is not to further and 
exclusive concentration, but rather towards a wider and 
beneficial diffusion ; and in regard to the labouring 
classes, it is admitted by all — even by the extremest 
social pessimists — that the upper and middle strata of 
them have participated in the progress of wealth equally 
with their neighbours. There remains only the lowest 
class of all, and their -emancipation is. the serious task of 
social reform in the immediate future ; but that class is 
even now not increasing in the ratio of population ; its 
misery comes fi'om many causes, most of them moral 
and physical rather than economical; and though it 
presents difficult and trying problems, there is no reason 
for renouncing the hope which alone can sustain social 
reformers to success. 

11. Mr George's Explanation. 

If there is any force in the foregoing observations it 
is plain that there is no such problem as Mr George has 
undertaken to explain, and we are therefore exempted 
from all necessity of examining his explanation. But to 
Mr George's own mind his explanation of the appearance 
that troubled him really constitutes the demonstration 
of it ; at any rate, he ofiers no other. The question of 
the increase of poverty is of course a question of fact, 
that cannot be settled by a priori deduction alone ; but 
Mr George seems to think otherwise. He is too bent 
on proving if to be necessary to think of asking whether 


it is actualy and even a man of science like Mr A. R. • 
Wallace, while regretting that Mr George had not chosen 
to build his proposals on ground of fact, declares that he 
adopted an equally Intimate method in deducing his 
results ''firom the admitted principles and data of political 
economy" ("Land Nationalisation," p. 19). Moreover, 
most of the social pessimism of the present time draws its 
chief support, exactly like Mr (Jeorge, from the supposed 
bearing of certain received economical doctrines ; and 
our task would therefore be incomplete if we did not 
follow Mr George on this " high priori road " on which 
he so boldly feres forth, and performs, as wiU presently 
be seen, many a remarkable feat 

Before b^inning his explanation, he throws the 
problem itself into what he conceives to be a more 
suitable scientific form. " The cause," says he, " which 
produces poverty in the midst of advancing wealth is 
evidently the cause which exhibits itself in the tendency 
everywhere recognised of wages to a minimum. Let us 
therefore put our inquiry into this compact form : Why, 
in spite of increase in productive power, do wages tend 
to a minimum which will give but a bare living ?" (p. 
10). The problem, as thus restated, is clearly, be it 
observed, one of quantity, not of proportion. A bare 
living is not a relative share, but a definite amount, of 
produce. But the tendency in wages to such a minimum, 
which he asserts to be everywhere recc^ised, is really 
not recognised at all. In alleging that it is so, Mr 
George evidently alludes to the doctrine of wages taught 
by Ricardo and his school ; but what they recognised in 
wages was a tendency, not to a minimum that would 
give but a bare living, but to a minimum that would 


give a customary living, in other words, that would 
sustain the labourers in the standard of comfort 
customary among their own class. The economical 
minimum is not the absolute minimum of a bare living ; 
it is, as Mr George himself elsewhere puts it, " the 
lowest amount on which labourers will consent to live 
and reproduce," — that is, not the lowest amount on 
which any individual labourer will do so, but the 
lowest amount which labouring people in general 
consider it necessary to earn before they will undertake 
the responsibility of marriage. If they were to get less 
than this, it was contended, they would refrain from 
marrying to an extent that would tell sufficiently on 
the supply of labour to force wages up again to their 
old level. This level was the minimum to which wages 
constantly tended, but then it was always higher than 
a bare living; it was determined by the standard of 
requirements current among the labouring class at the 
time ; and it was recognised to be capable of rising if 
that standard rose. True, Ricardo and the economists 
of his generation entertained very poor hopes of any 
such rise, because the working classes of their time, 
being without the intelligence, the ideas of comfort, the 
higher wants that are powerfully operative among the 
working classes of our day, were generally seen to " take 
out " their better wages when they chanced to get them 
in nothing but earlier marriages, which in the end 
brought their wages down again. We have happily 
now to do with a more aspiring and a less uniformly 
composed working class. It is perhaps more aspiring 
in some measure because it is less uniformly composed. 
It contains many ranks and inequalities and standards 



of social refinement and comfort, and the presence of 
these side by side develops a more active tendency 
upward, which, by supplying a stronger check than before 
on improvident marriages, will enable the labourers, 
class after class of them, to appropriate securely more 
and more of the common domain of advancing civilisa- 
tion. We have had abundant experience of a rise in 
the standard of life, and a rise in the rate of wages, 
both remaining as permanent possessions of sections of 
the labouring class. But if Ricardo and his school had 
less faith than they reasonably might have had in the 
possibility of a permanent upward tendency in wages, 
they certainly never dreamt of believing in any permanent 
downward tendency. According to their doctrine the 
rate of wages moved up and down within certain limits, 
but always tended to come back to a particular figure — 
the amount necessary to give the labourer the living 
customary among his class. This figure was really no 
more a minimum than it was a maximum ; wages were 
supposed to fall sometimes below it, as they were 
supposed to rise sometimes above it ; and to speak of it 
as a minimum that would give but a bare living is 
completely to misrepresent its nature. 

The assumption from which Mr George starts is thus 
in no wise an admitted principle of political economy, 
and would therefore not answer the test of legitimacy 
laid down by Mr Wallace. It has no ground outside 
of Mr George's own imagination. Economists would 
solve his problem, " why in spite of increased productive 
power wages tend to a minimum that will give but 
a bare living?" by simply denying his fiict, and having 
done with it. But Mr George persuades himself that 


they would answer it otherwise, and devotes the next 
section of his book to an elaborate confutation of the 
false answers he supposes they would return to it. 
They would either explain it, he thinks, by their theory 
of the wf^es* fiind, or they would explain it by their 
theory of population ; and so before confiding to us 
his own explanation he considers it necessary to stop 
and clear these two venerable theories out of his way. 
I am not concerned to defend these theories ; their 
truth would not make Mr George's own view any the 
felser, nor their falsehood make it any the truer. One 
of them indeed was dead and buried before Mr George 
attacked it, though I am bound to say it would never 
have fallen before the particular line of attack he directs 
against it. The wages' fund doctrine, which played a 
considerable rOle both in its original form as taught by 
Senior, and in its subsequent form as modified by 
M'Culloch, was refuted by Mr Thornton in 1869, was 
almost instantly abandoned by the candid mind of Mr 
Mill, and is now rarely met with as a living economical 
doctrine. The wages* fund is still regarded of course 
as having its limit in capital, and in the conditions 
which generate capital, but since these conditions 
include among other things the number and efficiency 
of the labourers, the amount of the wages* fund is no 
longer represented as at any given moment a fixed 
and predetermined quantity susceptible of no possible 
alteration to meet the exigencies of the labour market, 
and when once this characteristic was given up, the wages* 
ftind doctrine was seen to have degenerated into little 
more than a stately truism. The Malthusian theory of 
population is not in the same way discredited, but it 


likewise is now generally stated with some reserve. It 

has become well understood that the earlier economists 

assigned it too absolute and universal a validity, and 

that it is not, as they thought, a law for all ages, 

and especially and happily not a law for our own. It 

is true of an era of progressive population and 

diminishing return from agriculture, but for our day it 

has been robbed of its terrors by free trade and steam 

navigation, which have connected our markets with 

continents of virgin soil, and carried us virtually into 

an era of increasing return of indefinite duration. 

The population question was one of serious practical 

import for our fathers, and as they saw people marrying 

and giving in marriage, while every fresh bushel of 

food was extracted with increasing difficulty from an 

exhaustible soil, they looked with a reasonable dread 

to the ftiture, and saw no way of hope except in the 

practice of a heroic continence. But we live in another 

time. We find population increasing and yet bread 

cheapening, simply because the locomotive which 

alarmed Mr George by taking the tramp to California 

has brought back plenty to the rest of the world. It 

is due to the material progress he preaches against that 

we are the first generation who can afibrd to make light 

of the population question, and leave our remote posterity 

to deal with the peril when it shall actually arrive. 

Mr George, however, is not content with disputing 
these doctrines ; he insists on replacing them with others 
exactly opposite to them in purport, and for which 
he claims a like universal validity. He propounds 
a new population theory, and a new wages* fund 
theory of his own. The more population abounds^ the 


more will subsistence superabound, is his comfortable 
counter-proposition to Malthusianism. " I assert/' says 
he, " that in any given state of civilisation a greater 
number of people can collectively be better provided for 
than a smaller. ... I assert that the new mouths 
which an increasing population calls into existence, 
require no more food than the old ones, while the 
hands they bring with them can in the natural order of 
things produce more. I assert that^ other things being 
equal, the greater the population, the greater the 
comfort which an equitable distribution of wealth would 
give to each individual" (p. 99). In a word, his 
teaching is that "other things being equal" over- 
popidation is a ridiculous impossibility. What may be 
all concealed under the reservation, " other things being 
equal," he does not enlighten us, but it avowedly 
contains at least one presupposition of decisive import- 
ance to the question, the presupposition of the unlimited 
productiveness of the soil. Mr George denies the law 
of diminishing return. We shall presently find him, in 
his doctrine about rent, basing his whole book on the 
operation of this law. But here in his doctrine about 
population it suits him to deny it, and he does so on 
singularly fantastical grounds (p. 93). He denies it 
on the ground that " matter is eternal and force must 
for ever continue to act," as if the indestructibility of 
matter was the same thing as its infinite productiveness. 
" As the water that we take fi^oni the ocean must again 
return to the ocean, so the food we take from the 
reservoirs of nature is, fi*om the moment we take it, on 
its way back to those reservoirs. What we draw from 
a limited extent of land may temporarily reduce the 


productiveness of that land, because the return may be 
to other land or may be divided between that land and 
other land, or perhaps all land; but this possibility 
lessens with increasing area, and ceases when the whole 
globe is considered. That the earth could maintain a 
thousand billions of people as easily as a thousand 
millions is a necessary deduction from the manifest 
truths that at least, as £Eir as our agency is concerned, 
matter is eternal and force must for ever continue to act. 

And from this it follows that the limit 

to the population of the globe can only be the limit of 
space. Now this limitation of space — this danger that 
the human race may increase beyond the possibility of 
finding elbow-room — ^is so &r off as to have for us no 
more practical interest than the recurrence of the glacial 
period or the final extinguishment of the sun " (p. 94-5). 
If this passage means anything, it means that the race 
may go on multiplying as long as it finds room to stand 
on, and that even when that limit is reached it can only 
be squeezed to death and not starved. It can in no 
case apparently be starved. Subsistence cannot possibly 
run short, for the inherent powers of the soil are not 
permanently destructible. But he might as well ai^e 
that man must be omnipotent because he is immortal 
The question is not one of the durability of the productive 
powers of the earth, it is one of their limited or unlimited 
productive capacity. Up to a certain point they may 
yield the saine return at the same cost year after year in 
scBcula 8(Bculoru77i, but will they yield more? Manifestly 
not Every bushel they give after that is got at con- 
tinuously increasing cost Now of course wherever 
population increases so much, compared with the land at 


its disposal, that this increasing cost must be incurred in 
order to find them food, the epoch of diminishing return 
in agriculture has arrived, and the peril of over-population 
is already present. Happily, as we have said, that time 
is not yet, but it will come long, long before the human 
race fails to find elbow-room in this planet 

Mr George himself admits that in a country of incon- 
siderable extent, or in a small island, such as Pitcaim's 
Island, over-population is quite possible before elbow- 
room is near exhausted — (p. 74) — and in making the 
admission he virtually surrenders his case. He admits 
in detail what he denies in gross. For is not the soil of 
a small island or an inconsiderable country as eternal as 
the soil of a continent ? The only difference is that it 
is not so extensive, and therefore comes to the epoch of 
diminishing return sooner. That is all. The reason why 
he makes an exception of such an island is because its 
inhabitants " are cut off fix)m communication with the 
rest of the world, and consequently from the exchanges 
which are necessary to the improved modes of production 
resorted to as population becomes dense" (p. 74). 
But if density of population is such a sure improver of 
production as Mr George represents it to be elsewhere, 
why should it fail here ? And if it fidl anywhere, how can 
he argue that it must succeed everywhere? Once he 
admits, as he does in this passage, that subsistence has 
a definite limit in the modes of production that happen 
to be known in any age and country, and that population 
has a definite limit for such age and country in the amount 
of subsistence which the known modes of production are 
capable of extracting from the soil, he really admits all 
Uiat MalthusianB generally contend for, and coming to 


curse, he has really blessed them altogether. The limit of 
subsistence which he here recognises — the limit imposed 
by the state of the arts — is fer within the limit which he 
has just been denying, the natural limit to the inherent 
fertility of the soil, on which economists base their law 
of diminishing return. The former point is fiir sooner 
reached than the latter. Men will starve because they 
don't know how to make the best use of nature long 
before they will starve because nature is used up ; and 
it is exactly that earlier limit on which Malthusians lay 
stress. • 

But except for this inconsistent admission in the case 
of a petty isolated island, Mr George persistently refuses 
to recognise any kind of limit to subsistence either in 
the productive capacity of the soil or in the state of Uie 
arts. He seems to fancy that land will go on yielding 
larger and lai^ger harvests ad infinitum to acconmnodate 
an increasing population, and that even if it failed to do 
so, new inventions or improved processes of production 
would be constantly discovered when they were needed, 
and keep the supply of food always equal to the demand. 
With these crude assumptions in his head, he arrives 
very easily at his own peculiar theory, which, is, that 
subsistence tends to increase faster than population, 
because the growth of population itself affords the 
means of such economies and organisation of labour as 
multiply immensely the productive capacity of each 
individual labourer. A hundred labourers, he is fond of 
arguing, will produce much more than a hundred times 
the amount that one will, and it is therefore clear foUy 
to think of population as capable of encroaching on 
subsistence. On the contrary, it seems almost fitter to 


speak of it as a means of positively economising 
subsistence. Mr George's mistake arises from ignoring 
the fact that subsistence depends on the productive 
capacity of land as well as on the productive capacity of 
labour, and the productive capacity of land is not 
indefinitely progressive. 

Mr George's new wages fund theory is based on a 
precisely analogous misconception of the real conditions 
of the case, and is just as much in the air as his popula- 
tion theory. " Wages," he says, " cannot be diminished 
by the increase of labourers, but on the contrary, as the 
efficiency of labour manifestly increases with the number 
of labourers, the more labourers, other things being 
equal, the higher wages should be" (p. 62). Just as 
he has already argued that food can never run short 
before an advancing population, because the new hands 
can produce much more than the new mouths can con- 
sume, as if the hands span it out of their own finger 
nails ; so he now argues that wages can never decline 
for want of capital to employ labourers, because the 
capital that employs them is made by the labourers 
themselves. They are paid, he declares, not out of 
the capital of their employers, but out of the product 
of their own labour. Mr F. A. Walker, the emipent 
American economist, had already taught a similar 
doctrine, but with the reservation that, while wages 
were really paid out of the produce of the labour 
they remunerated, they were usually advanced out of 
the employer's capital But Mr George throws aside 
this reservation, and declares boldly that wages are 
neither paid nor advanced out of capital, and that if any 
advance is made in the transaction at ally it is the 


labourer who makes it to the employer, not the employer 
to the labourer. ^'In performiug his labour^ he (the 
labourer) is advancing in exchange; when he gets his 
wages the exchange is completed. During the time he 
is earning the wages he is advancing capital to his 
employer, but at no time, unless wages are paid before 
work is done, is the employer advancing capital to him " 
(p. 49). 

In this contention Mr Greorge relies much on the 
analogy of the "self employing" laboiu* of primitive 
society. Where men live by gathering eggs, he tells us, 
the ^gs they gather are their wages. No doubt ; but in 
our complicated civilizatioti we don*t live by gathering 
^gs from day to day, but by sowing the seed in spring, 
which is to yield us food only in harvest — ^by preparing 
work for the market which may take weeks, months, 
even years before it is marketable. The energetic Sir 
John Sinclair is said to have once danced at a ball in 
the evening dressed in a suit the wool of which was 
still growing on the sheep's back in the morning, but 
rapidity like that is naturally foreign to ordinary com- 
merce. The successive operations of clipping, fiiUing, 
teasing, spinning, dying, weaving, cutting, sewing occupy 
considerable time. So with other things. Houses, 
ships, railways are not built in a day, or by a single 
workman. The product of a single workman's work for 
a day at any of these things has no value apart from the 
product of the other worfanen's work, nor has the work 
of them all any value unless the work is, or is to be, 
completed. The wages paid during the period of con- 
struction therefore cannot possibly have come out of the 
work for which they were paid^ but must have been 


advanced otherwise. Who advances them? Clearly 
not the labourer himself, for he receives them. And yet 
that is what Mr Greorge unhesitatingly asserts^ and his 
argument is as courageous as it is ingenious. He does 
not shrink firom applying it to the extremest case you 
like to suggest — ^the Great Eastern, the Gothard Tunnel, 
the Suez Canal ; even in these cases the labourers, who 
spent months and years in doing the work, were paid out 
of the work itself, out of the Great Eastern, out of the 
Gothard Tunnel, out of the Suez Canal. " For," says Mr 
Gteorge, " a work that is incomplete is not valueless, it 
is not unexchangeable ; money may be raised on it by 
mortgage or otherwise, and as this money is raised on the 
product of the labourer's work, the wages it is employed 
to pay are really paid out of that product." But this 
only shifts the question a little, it does not answer it. 
Where does this lent money come from ? Certainly not 
from the work it is lent on. Perhaps not, Mr Greorge 
will rejoin, again shifting his ground, but it comes from 
the product of the contemporaneous work of other 
labourers. "It is not necessary to the production of 
things that cannot be used as subsistence or cannot be 
bmmediately utilised that there should have been a 
previous production of the wealth required for the 
maintenance of the labourers while the production is 
going on. It is only necessary that there should be, 
somewhere within the circle of exchange, a contem- 
poraneous production of subsistence for the labourers, 
and a willingness to exchange this subsistence for the 
thing on which the labour is being bestowed" (p. 61). 
But this is only passing round the dilemma. For this 
contemporaneous production has itself the same difficulty 


to face ; it has to sustain its labourers during the time 
taken to complete their work ; and it can only do so, 
according to Mr George*8 explanation, by raising the 
means through a mortgage on the unfinished worL It 
borrows to pays its own wages, but is apparently able 
to lend to pay other people's. Mr George has a happy 
method of carrying on the affairs of society by mutual 
accommodation. Peter is a shoemaker who wants money 
to buy leather to make shoes and food to maintain him 
till the shoes are made. Paul is a carpenter who is in 
a like case, and wants money to buy food and timber. 
Peter borrows the money he needs fix)m Paul on 
mortgage, and then Paul in turn borrows what he needs 
from Peter, on the same terms. Utopia is a pleasanter 
world than ours, and an lOU probably goes a long 
way in it; but here on this hard earth Peter would 
certainly make no shoes nor Paul any chairs, unless 
he had either himself saved enough to purchase the 
materials, or found a neighbour who had done so 
and was ready to make him an advance. Except for 
this neighbour he could not work at all, and could not 
therefore " create any wages," and the amount of work 
he got and wages he earned would manifestly depend 
greatly on the amount of capital this stranger possessed 
and was disposed to invest in such an enterprise. 

It is true that the wages of labour will be guided in 
amount by the quantity of the product, but they are not 
on that account actually paid out of the product And 
it is true that the labourer gives value for his wages — 
certain he would not otherwise be employed — but that 
value is not usually marketable until some time, in 
many cases years, after the wages have been ei\ioyed, 


and therefore cannot have been the source whence these 
wages came. The wages were paid out of the saved 
results of previous labour, that is out of capital, 
and Mr George has absolutely no conception of the 
amount of capital that is necessary to carry on the 
work of industry. He says we live from hand to 
mouth, and so in a sense we do. Our capital is being 
constantly consumed and constantly reproduced again, 
and economists are fond of showing, from the speedy 
recovery of a civilised state after a devastating war, how 
short a time it would really take to replace it entirely. 
But until it is replaced every inhabitant undergoes con- 
siderable privations, which simply mean that the rate of 
wages has fallen for want of it. There are some trades, 
like the baker's, where the product is actually sold 
before the wages are paid ; and there are many, like the 
whaler's mentioned by Mr George, where the labourers 
can afford to wait long terms for part at least of their 
remuneration (no great sign, by the way, of the minimum 
of a bare living), but even in these much capital must 
be set aside before a single hand is engaged. The 
whalers, for example, must be furnished with a ship to 
start with, and be provisioned for the voyage ; and if 
these requisites are not forthcoming they must go 
without work and wages altogether, or take work at 
inferior terms in a market glutted by their own arrival in it. 
Mr George speaks lightly of the labourers who excavated 
the Suez Canal advancing value to the company who 
employed them, and yet before a single pick or spade 
was stuck in tb the sand of the Isthmus the company had 
laid out, in preliminary expenses and machinery, as 
much as six millions sterling, more than a third of the 


whole cost of the Canal They had then to pay other 
five or six millions in wages before the work fetched a 
single fee ; and yet Mr George will have us believe that 
those five or six millions actually came out of the profits, 
merely because the projectors hoped and believed they 
might eventually come out of them. Labourers give an 
equivalent to the capitalists for their wages, but their wages 
are really paid out of the capital which their employers 
have saved for the purpose of purchasing that equivalent. 
I may have bought a cow in the hope of recouping 
myself by selling her milk, but I did not therefore pay 
her price out of the milk money — for nobody would have 
sold her to me if he had to wait for that ; I bought her 
out of money I had previously saved, and fix)m the same 
source exactly, and no other, do capitalists buy labour. 

But, objects Mr George, that cannot be; wages cannot 
be paid out of capital, because they are often lowest 
when, as shown by the low rate of interest, capital is 
most abundant. But Mr George here confounds existent 
capital with employed capital. It is only the capital 
actually employed that tells on wages ; the low rate of 
interest merely shows that there has been an increase in 
unemployed capital, and since that is generally a 
correlative of a diminution of employed capital, it is 
but natural that low interest should be attended by low 
wages. Low wages are a consequence of unemployed 
labour, unemployed labour a consequence of unemployed 
capital, and unemployed capital a consequence of 
un&vourable industrial conditions which labour, either 
with capital or without it, cannot evade or reverse. 

So far then of Mr George's views on population and the 


wages fond, for which much value, as well as originality, 
has been claimed. The chapters in which he states 
them are certainly among the most impressive and 
characteristic in his book. Nowhere else does he 
display more strikingly his remarkable acuteness, 
fertility, and literary power, and nowhere else are these 
high qualities employed more fruitlessly from sheer want 
of grasp of the elements of the problems he discusses. 
These chapters are after all, however, something of a 
digression from the main business of the book, and they 
have perhaps detained us too long from Mr George's own 
explanation of the supposed growth of poverty. 

His explanation is this : " The reason why, in spite of 
the increase of productive power, wages constantly tend 
to a minimum which will give but a bare living is that 
with increase in productive power, rent tends to even 
greater increase" (p. 199). "Rent swallows up the 
whole gain, and pauperism accompanies progress" (p. 
168). "The magic of property," it seems, has an 
unsuspected malignancy, but, in the present case, its 
spell is really exercised only over Mr Geoi^e*s own vision. 
For who, with his eyes open, would believe for a moment 
what Mr George so gravely asserts, that of the whole gain 
won by our multiplied productive power, none whatever 
has gone to the great bankers, and brewers, and cotton 
spinners, and ironmasters, and com factors, and ship- 
builders, and stockbrokers, and railway contractors ; that 
our Rothschilds, and Brasseys, and Barings, and Bairds, 
the great plutocrats of time, the possessors of the largest 
fortunes in the country, the very men and classes who 
have been most conspicuously enriched through the 
material progress of the nation, have all the while been 


conducting a hard struggle against a fetal tendency in 
their incomes to sink to a bare living, and had to feed, 
exactly like the manual labourers, from the crumbs that fell 
from the landowners' table. The assertion is too violent 
and preposterous to merit serious refutation. Everybody 
knows that greatest part of the wealth of modem society 
is not concentrated in the hands of the landlords at all, 
that it has not accrued from rent, and that it would not 
be a farthing the less though private property in land 
were abolished to-morrow. 

But violent and preposterous as Mr George's con- 
clusion is, it has not been arrived at without the exercise 
of much perverse ingenuity. Having been brought by 
his examination of the wages fund and population 
theories to the conviction that the key to his riddle was 
not to be discovered in the conditions that regulated 
production, he concludes that it must, therefore, be 
sought in the conditions that regulate distribution. His 
problem is thus one in the distribution of wealth, and it 
must be explained, if it is to be explained at all, by the 
laws of distribution. To investigate these laws, therefore, 
becomes now his object, and the first step he takes is 
a truly amazing one. At the very outset he throws the 
most important class of participators in the distribution — 
the class that appropriates the largest share — out of court 
altogether, and he proceeds to settle the whole question 
as if they never got a penny and as if the entire spoil were 
divided among their neighbours. People who live on 
profits, it seems, have no locus standi in a question of 
distribution, and the ca^e must be considered as if the 
parties exclusively concerned were the people who live on 
wages, the people who live on interest, and the people 


who live on rent " With profits," he says, " this inquiry 
has manifestly nothing to do. We want to find what it 
is that determines the division of their joint produce 
between land, labour, and capital, and profits is not a 
term that refers exclusively to any one of these three 
divisions. Of the three parts into which profits are 
divided by political economists, namely compensation for 
risk, wages of superintendence, and returns for the use of 
capital, the latter falls under the term interest, which 
includes all the returns for the use of capital and 
excludes everything else ; wages of superintendence falls 
under the term wages, which includes all returns for 
human exertions and excludes everything else ; and 
compensation for risk has no place whatever, as risk is 
eliminated when all the transactions of a community are 
taken together" (pp. 113-4). 

Now we have to do here with no mpT^ difference of 
terminology. Profits may be employers* wages, if you 
like to call them so ; but it is a fatal confusion to 
suppose that, because you have called them employers' 
wages, you are, therefore, entitled to treat them as if 
they were governed by the same laws and conditions as 
labourers' wages. The truth is that they are governed 
by opposite conditions, and that the pith of the labour 
question is just the conflict between these two kinds of 
wages for the better share in the distribution. The 
battle of labour is not against the employer receiving 
feir interest on his capital in proportion to its quantity, 
but against the amount of additional profit which the 
employer claims as wages of superintendence, and which 
he also rates in proportion to capital invested instead 
of rating it in proportion to his own trouble or efiiciency. 

D 2 


One of the chief hopes of the workman resides in the 
possibility of breaking down this erroneous criterion of 
fair remuneration for superintendence, and so getting 
the employers to content themselves with smaller profits 
than they have been in the habit of considering indis- 
pensable. Profits and wages have thus opposite and 
conflicting interests in the distribution, but Mr George, 
having once disguised the one in the garb of the other, 
is imposed on by the disguise himself, and treats them 
in his subsequent speculations as if they were the same 
thing, or at any rate — what in the present connection is 
equally pernicious in its effects — as if their respective 
shares in the distribution were determined by precisely 
the same conditions. The result is, as might be 
expected, a series of singular contretemps springing 
fi-om mistaken identity, like those we are familiar with 
on the comic stage. The manufacturing millionaire 
appears before us as the victim of the same harsh destiny 
as the penniless crossing-sweeper, and the banker of 
Lombard Street is overshadowed by the same blighting 
poverty as the lumper of Wapping. Proudhon, in 
a powerful passage, describes pauperism as invading 
modem society at both extremes; it invaded the 
poor in the positive form of natural hunger ; it 
invaded the rich in the unnatural but more devouring 
form of insatiable voracity. The burden of Mr 
George's prophetic vision contains no such refine- 
ments. He sees a huge wedge driven through die 
middle of society ; and on the underside of that 
enchanted wedge he sees the merchant princes of the 
world eating the bread of poverty with their lowest 
dependents, Mr George's classification of profits under 


wages therefore involves much more than a mere change 
of nomenclature, for it has led him to pass off this 
absurd vision as a literal description of things as they 
are. By that classification he has really put out of his 
own sight the most important factor in the settlement of 
the question he is discussing, and so he begins playing 
Hamlet by leaving the part of Hamlet out. 

Having simplified matters by throwing profits out of 
the cast, Mr George*s next step is to assign the leading 
role to rent. In the whole drama of the modem distri- 
bution of wealth, no pai-t is more striking or more often 
misunderstood than the part played by rent Wages never 
cease to cost much and to be worth little, but rent seems 
to have the property of going on growing while the land- 
lords themselves sleep or play. This fact has impressed Mr 
GJeorge so profoundly that, losing sight of things in their 
true connection and proportions, he declares that the 
growth of rent is the key to the whole situation, and 
that neither wages nor any other kind of income, not 
derived from land, can ever draw any advantage from 
the increase of prosperity, because rent always steps 
in before them and runs off with the spoil. He professes 
to found this conclusion on Ricardo's theory of rent, 
which he accepts, not only as being absolutely true, but 
as being too self-evident to need discussion. Indeed, he 
seems disposed, like some others, to have his fling at Mill 
for calling it the pons asinorum of political economy ; 
but we shall presently discover various grounds for 
suspecting that he has not crossed the bridge success- 
fully himself, and that here, as elsewhere, he has been 
led seriously astray by looking at things through the 
mist of doctrines he has only imperfectly mastered. 


Anyhow, he offers his theory as a deduction from 
Ricardo's law of rent, and this deduction claims 
particular attention because it is the corner-stone of 
his speculations, and constitutes what he would con- 
sider his most original and important contribution 
to economical science. He says that the law of 
rent itself "has ever since the time of Ricardo 
. . . been clearly apprehended and fully recognised. 
But not so its corollaries. Plain as they are, the 
accepted doctrine of wages . . has hitherto pre- 
vented their recognition. Yet, is it not as plain as the 
simplest geometrical demonstration that the corollary 
of the law of rent is the law of wages, when the division 
of the produce is simply between rent and wages ; or the 
law of wages and interest together, when the division 
is into rent, wages, and interest " (p. 120). It is really 
plainer. It is a mere truism. In any simple division, 
if you know how much one of the factors get, you know 
how much is left for the others, and if you like to 
dignify your conclusion by the name of corollary, you are 
free to do so. But the real point is this, whether the 
share obtained by rent is fixed irrespectively of the share 
obtained by wages and interest, or whether, on the 
contrary, it does not presuppose the previous determina- 
tion of the latter. There is no doubt, at any rate, as to 
how Ricardo — Mr George's own authority — r^arded 
the matter. According to his celebrated theory, 
wages and interest are satisfied first, and then rent is 
just what is over. Rent is simply surplus profit In 
hiring land, the farmer hires a productive machine, and 
under the influence of competition gives for the use of 
that productive machine for a year, the whole amount of 


its annual produce which remains as a surplus after 
paying the wages of his labourers, and allowing interest 
on his capital, and what he considers a fair profit for his 
own work of superintendence. A certain current rate 
of wages and a certain current rate of profit are pre- 
supposed, and after these demands are met, then if the 
land has yielded anything more, that surplus is what is 
paid as rent Ricardo always presumes that land that 
cannot produce enough to meet these demands will not 
be cultivated at all, and that the poorest land actually 
under cultivation is land that meets them and does no 
more; in other words, that leaves nothing over for rent. 
Let us take Ricardo^s law as it is stated by Mr George 
himself (p. 118) : " The rent of land is determined by 
the excess of its produce over that which the same 
application can secure from the least productive land in 
use." The standard by which, according to this law, 
the amount of rent is supposed to be determined, is the 
produce of the least productive land in use. Now, what 
is the least productive land in use ? It is land that 
produces just enough to pay the wages the labourers 
upon it are content to work for, and the profits the 
farmer of it is content to farm for. How that rate of 
wages and that rate of profits are fixed, is no matter 
here ; but one thing is clear — and it is enough for our 
present purpose — that they cannot be determined, as 
Mr George represents them as being, by a law of rent 
which presumes and is conditioned by their operation. 
Ricardo*s law virtually explains rent in terms of wages 
and profits, and it would therefore be the height of 
absurdity to re-explain wages and profits in terms of 
rent. And if that is so, the circumstance which excites 


Mr George's surprise, that economists have always so 
clearly apprehended the law of rent itself, and yet fidled 
so completely to recognise the corollaries which he 
plumes himself on being the first to deduce from it, 
admits of a very simple explanation: the economists 
understood the law they expounded, and were better 
reasoners than to employ it as a demonstration of it» 
own postulates. 

This will become still plainer, if we look more closely 
at the fact which has struck Mr George so much — the 
constant rise of rent in modem society. He attributes 
that rise to many causes ; in fact, there are few things 
that will not, in his opinion, raise rent Progress of 
population will do so ; but if population is stationary, 
it will be done all the same by progress in the arts ; the 
spread of education will do it ; retrenchment of public 
expenditure will do it ; extending the margin of cultiva- 
tion will do it ; and so will artificial contraction of that 
margin by speculation. In short, he is so haunted by 
the idea, that he seems to believe that so long as rent is 
suffered to survive at all, whatever we do will only con- 
duce to its increase. Every step of progress we take 
extends its evil reign, and if pn^ess were to reach 
perfection, rent would drive wages and interest completely 
off the field and appropriate "the whole produce" (p. 179). 
These fears arfe not sober, but they could never have risen 
had Mr George first mastered the theory of rent he founds 
them on. For rent, being the price paid by producers 
for the use of a productive machine, cannot rise unless 
the price of the product rises first (or its quantity, if so be 
that it does not increase so much as to reduce its price), 
for unless the price of agricultural produce rises, the 


farmer cannot afford to pay a higher rent for the land 
than he paid before. No part of Ricardo*s theory is 
more elementary or more unchallenged than this, that 
the rent of land constitutes no part of the price of bread, 
and that high rent is not the cause of dear bread, but 
dear bread the cause of high rent. Rent cannot rise 
further or faster than the price of bread (or meat, of 
course) will allow it, and the price of bread is beyond 
the landowner's control He cannot raise it, but once 
it rises, he can easily raise rent in a corresponding degree. 
If a rise of rent depends on a rise in the price of bread, what 
does a rise in the price of bread depend on ? On two 
things which Mr George ignores or misunderstands, the 
progress of population and the diminishing return in agri- 
cultural production. The growth of population increases 
the demand for food so much as to raise its price, and 
renders it profitable to resort to more difficult soils or 
more expensive methods for additional supplies. The 
price will then remain at the figure fixed by the cost of 
the costliest portion that is brought to market 

Now Mr George laughs at the idea of increase of 
population causing any difficulty about the supply of food 
— population, which he is never tired of telling us, is the 
very thing most wanted to multiply that supply, and pos- 
sesses a power of multiplying it in even a progressive ratio 
to its numbers. "The labour of 100 men," he says, "other 
things being equal, will produce much more than one 
hundred times as much as the labour of one man" (p. 163). 
And he laughs in the same way at the idea of a diminish- 
ing return in agriculture, as if, says he, matter were not 
eternal, and as if an increasing population did not of 
itself increase the productive capacity of the land through 


increasing the productive capacity of the labour upon it. 
These two misunderstandings lie at the bottom of all 
Mr George's tagaries about rent, and they are perhaps 
natural to a speculator, resident in a rich new colony, 
which, as he describes it himself, " with greater natural 
resources than France, has not yet a million people." 
No doubt in a country at that particular stage of its 
historical development, increase of population may 
involve an increase, and even a more than proportional 
increase, of food as well as of other commodities ; but 
that particular stage is a temporary and fleeting one, and 
the world in general is very differently situated from the 
State of California four-and-twenty years ago. Where 
there is plenty of good land, the increase of population 
occasions no increase in the cost of producing food, 
because there is no need to resort to poorer land for the 
purpose; and while food is got as cheaply as before, 
other things are got much more easily and abundantly 
in consequence of the economies of labour and the many 
mutual services which result from the increased numbers 
of the comnmnity. But that state of matters only con- 
tinues so long as there remains no occasion to resort to 
poorer soils for the production of food, and that time is 
long past in most countries of the world. Mr George 
no doubt contends that in all countries it is just the same 
as in California, because even though it may have become 
more difficult in some places to produce food, it has 
become everywhere much easier to produce other com- 
modities, and (so he argues) the production of any kind of 
commodity is practically equivalent of the production of 
food, for it can always be exchanged for food. So it can, 
if food is there to exchange for it ; but the very question 


is whether food is there, or is there in the same relative 
quantity. If I say it is more difficult to get food, it is 
no answer to tell me that it is much easier to get other 
things. And because other things may be multiplied 
indefinitely at the same cost, that is no reason for 
denying that food can only be multiplied indefinitely at 
increasing cost Yet Mr (Jeorge reasons as if it were. 
This confusion is repeated again and again in the 
course of his book, and has evidently had much influ- 
ence on his whole speculations. He describes the 
advantages which the colonist derives from the arrival 
of other settlers. " His land yields no more wheat or 
potatoes than before, but it does yield far more of all 
the necessaries and comforts of life. His labour upon it 
will bring no heavier crops, and we will suppose no more 
valuable crops, but it will bring far more of all the other 
things for which men work " (p. 168.) That is true, but 
it is not to the purpose. The new settler required a 
market, and population brought it ; but although popula- 
tion up to a certain point is beneficial, you cannot for that 
reason declare that beyond that point it cannot possibly 
become embarrassing. For onMr George's own hypothesis 
the ground yields no more wheat and potatoes than before, 
and the limit to convenient population is prescribed by 
the amount of food the ground yields, and not by the 
quantity of other commodities which skilled labour can 
produce. If population were to exceed what that stock 
of food woul^ adequately serve, then new comers would 
find little comfort in Mr George's rhetorical common- 
place that they had two hands and only one mouth. 
His simple confidence, that they never can be at a loss, 
because they can get food by exchange as well as by 


direct production, is a mere dream, because he foists 
that the people they are to exchange with are in the 
same case as themselves. They can only give food in 
exchange for other things so long as they raise more food 
than serves their own numbers, and when their numbers 
increase beyond that point, they will have no food to 
sell The limit to subsistence is not the productive 
capacity of labour, but the productive capacity of land. 

Mr George's argument rests on another very curious 
fallacy. He builds his whole theory of distribution on the 
fieict of the extension of the margin of cultivation from 
better to worse soils, but in the same breath he denies the 
existence of the very conditions that alone make that 
fiwt possible. Nobody would resort to worse land 
unless the better were unable to furnish indefinite 
supplies at the old cost, i.e., unless the principle of 
diminishing return prevailed in agriculture. Nor would 
anyone resort to worse land until it paid him to do so, 
i.e, until the produce of this worse land became, through 
a rise in its price or through improvements in the art 
of agriculture, equal in net value to the produce 
previously yielded by the worst land then in cultivation. 
Mr George denies the principle of diminishing return. 
He denies " that the recourse to lower points of pro- 
duction involves a smaller aggr^ate of produce in 
proportion to the labour expended." He denies this, 
''even where there is no advance in the arts and the 
recourse to lower points of production is clearly the 
result of the increased demand of an increased popula- 
tion. For," says he, " increased population of itself, and 
without any advance in the arts, implies an increase in 
the productive power of labour" (p. 163). But the 


question is^ does it imply any increase in the productiye 
power of the soil ? Mr Greorge contends that it does, 
but only on the superior soils, not on the inferior. 
Increasing population^ in his opinion, renders all labour 
so much more effective that '' the gain in the superior 
qualities of land will more than compensate for the 
diminished production on the land last brought in " (p. 
165). Now to all this there is one simple answer: 
why then resort to inferior soils at all ? If crowding 
on the superior soils can make those soils indefinitely 
productive, why go &rther and fare worse ? There can 
be no reason for having recourse to worse land, but that 
the better has ceased to yield enough at the old cost. 
Orga^sation and economy of labour are excellent things, 
but they cannot press from the udder more milk than it 
contains, or rear on the meadow more sheep than it will 
carry, or grow on a limited area available for cultivation 
more than a definite store of food. 

But while Mr George denies that there is anything to 
force people to poorer soils, he supposes at the same 
time that they go freely in order to get a less profit He 
holds the amount of return obtained from cultivating 
the least productive land in use to be the lowest rate of 
return for which anybody will invest his capital, and 
therefore to serve in some sense as a standard rate of 
remuneration for all applications of capital and labour. 
Nobody, he declares, will work for. less than he can make 
on land that pays no rent But will any one work such 
land for less than he can make in other industries ? That 
is what Mr Gteorge supposes to be done every day, 
although he laughs at the idea of there being any necessity 
for doing it It need not be said that men are not such 


lunatics. They are really forced to go to worse soils be- 
cause the better cannot increase their yield indeOnitely at 
the same cost, and they never go till they possess a 
reasonable expectation of making as much out of the 
worse land as they did before out of the better. 

From all these remarkable misconceptions of the 
working of rent, and of the theory of Ricardo on the 
subject, which he professes to follow, he draws his first 
law of distribution, which is nevertheless, so far as it goes, 
undoubtedly correct : " Rent depends on the margin of 
cultivation, rising as it falls and falling as it rises'* (p. 155). 

To find the law of rent, he has told us, is to find at the 
same time its correlatives, the laws of wages and interest, 
and these laws accordingly he states thus : " Wages 
depend on the margin of cultivation, falling as it- falls 
and rising as it rises. Interest (its ratio with wages 
being fixed by the net power of increase which attaches 
to capital) depends on the margin of cultivation, falling 
as it falls and rising as it rises" (p. 156). He is not 
content, however, with merely inferring these two laws as 
corollaries from the law of rent, but thinks it necessary to 
construct for wages and interest a certain independent 
connection with the movement of the margin of cultivation. 
Todoso,he first reduces interest, as he had already reduced 
profits, to a form of wages ; he then erects all the difier- 
ent forms of wages {i.e., every form of income except 
rent) into a single hierarchical system, in which there are 
many different rates of remuneration, occasioned by the 
necessity of compensatmg different risks and exertions, 
but all moving up and down concurrently wdth a certain 
general rate of wages at the bottom of the scale ; and he 
finally connects this general or standard rate of wages 


with the margin of cultivation, by saying that no one 
would work at anything else for less than he can make 
on land open to him free of rent, and that therefore the 
income made by cultivating such land must be the 
lowest going. 

Mr George's view of the nature of interest is peculiar. 
He considers it to be the natural increase of capital, 
the fruit of inherent reproductive powers, like the 
increase of a calf into a cow, or of a hen into a hen and 
chickens ; and because interest comes in this way freely 
from nature, he believes the private appropriation of it 
fo be thoroughly just, although he presently gives 
precisely the same reason for declaring, rent to be theft. 
It is unnecessary to discuss either the truth or the con- 
sistency of this doctrine here, and I refer to it now merely 
to explain that although Mr George thus justifies 
interest as being the price of a natural force, he 
introduces it into his theory of the origin of poverty, 
as the price of human labour. " The primary division 
of wealth," he says, " is dual, not tripartite. Capital 
is but a form of labour, and its distinction from 
labour is in reality but a subdivision, just as the division 
of labour into skilled and unskilled would be. In our 
examination we have reached the same point as would 
have been attained had we simply treated capital as a 
form of labour, and sought the law which divides the 
produce between rent and wages ; that is to say between 
the possessors of the two factors, natural substance and 
powers and human exertion— which two factors, by 
their union, produce all wealth" (p. 144). The difierence 
between interest and wages is but as the difference 
between the wages of skilled labour and the wages of 


unskiUed ; the wages of skilled labour is only the wages 
of unskilled^ pltis some consideration for the skilly or for 
the time spent in training, or for drawbacks of varioua 
kinds ; and the wages of unskilled labour is fixed by the 
amount that can be made on land that pays no rent. 
Profits, salaries, stipends, fees are, in the same way as 
interest, declared to be modes of wages. The £50,000 a 
year of the merchant prince, it seems, is just the £50 of 
the day-labourer, with £49,950 added to compensate him 
for the additional perils or drawbacks or discomforts of his 
life. All incomes, except the landowner's, row in the 
same boat, and the day-labourer's sets the stroke. When 
the margin of cultivation descends, he is the first to suifer, 
and then all the rest suficr with him. If he loses £10 
a year, they successively lose £10 too ; the doctor or 
bank-agent will have £490, instead of £500 ; the railway 
chairman, £4990, instead of £5000; the merchant prince, 
£49,990, instead of £50,000 ; and then* loss is the 
landlord's gain. Here then we see the whole mystery 
of iniquity as Mr George professes to unravel it " The 
wealth produced in every community is divided into two 
parts by what may be termed the rent line, which is 
fixed by the margin of cultivation, or the return which 
labour and capital could obtain firom such natural 
opportunities as are free to them without payment of 
rent. From the part of produce below this line, wages 
and interest must be paid. All that is above goes to 
the owners of land " (p. 121). 

Mr George here confounds the margin of cultivation 
with the margin of appropriation. When economists 
speak of an extension of the margin of cultivation, they 
mean a resort to less productive land, and that is 


always accompanied by a rise of rent^ but an extension 
of the margin of appropriation may be a resort to more 
productive land, and may occasion a fall of rent; as has 
been done in Europe to-day through appropriation in 
America. But what in reality he builds his argument on 
is neither the movement of the margin of cultivation, 
nor the movement of the margin of appropriation, 
but simply the existence of abundance of unappropriated 
land. Where that exists, rent will, of course, be 
low, and wages will be high, for nobody will give much 
for land when he can get plenty for nothing at a little 
distance off, and nobody will work at anything else for 
less than he can make on land that he may have for 
nothing. For such land supplies labourers with an 
alternative. It is not the best of alternatives, for it needs 
capital before one can make use of it, and it takes time 
before any return is made from it. A diversity of national 
industries, for example, is better, and raises wages more 
effectively. Agricultural ws^es are higher in the 
manufacturing counties of England than in the purely 
agricultural ; and they are higher in the manufacturing 
Eastern States of Mr (Jeorge's own country than in the 
purely agricultural States of the West, which possess the 
largest amount of unappropriated land. The reason of 
this is two-fold : other industries increase the competition 
for labour generally, and create, at the same time, a better 
market for &rm produce. Unoccupied land would 
act — ^though less effectually — ^in the same way as an 
alternative ; but few countries are fortunate enough to 
possess much of it, and as Mr George does not propose 
to interfere with the occupation of land, but only to tax 
the occupiers, he has no scheme for showing how 


countries that have it not are to get it It is easy, of 
course, to call it from the vasty deep. " Put to any one 
capable of thought," says Mr George, " this question : 
^ Suppose there should arise from the English Channel 
or the German Ocean a Noman's land on which common 
labour to an unlimited amount should be able to make 
ten shillings a day, and which would remain unappro- 
priated and of free access like the commons which once 
comprised so large a part of English soil. What would 
be the efTect upon wages in England T He would at 
once tell you that common wages throughout England 
must soon increase to ten shillings a day " (p. 207). 
Perhaps so, but a little more thought would teach him 
that " a Noman's land on which common labour to an 
unlimited amount should be able to make ten shillings a 
day," must be itself unlimited in extent, and could not be 
accommodated in the English Channel. Apart from 
preternatural conditions it could not afford remunerative 
employment to more than a definite number of occupants 
and cultivators, and when it came to be entirely 
occupied, England would stand exactly as it does at 
present If the millennium of the working class is to 
depend on the discovery of a Xoman*s land of infinite 
expansibility, it must be indefinitely postponed. 

But supposing such an alternative existed and did 
influence the amount employers pay their workmen, how 
is it to influence in the same direction the amount they 
reserve to themselves ? It is true, as a matter of fact, 
that wages and interest generally rise and fall together, 
for the simple reason that they are generally subject 
to the same influences. When capital is busily employed, 
so is necessarily labour, and then both wages and interest 


are high; when capital is largely unemployed, so is 
naturally labour also, and then both wages and interest 
are low. But an influence like that which is now adduced 
by Mr George does not act on labourer and employer 
alike. It supplies the labourer with an alternative which 
strengthens his hands in his battle for wages .with 
employers. Does it then at the same time strengthen 
the employer in his battle with the labourer ? Does it 
first raise wages at the expense of profits, and then raise 
profits at the expense of wages ? It clearly cannot To 
argue as if the existence of alternative work which 
benefits the labourer, must benefit the employer in the 
same d^ree, and as if the want of it must injure the 
employer because it injures the labourer, is simply to 
misunderstand the very elements of the case. One 
might as well argue that because the heights of Alma 
were a decided strat^cal advantage to the Russians, 
who were posted on them, they were therefore an equal 
advantage to the Allies, who had to scale them. 

Laws of distribution, which are' founded on a series of 
such arbitrary absurdities as those which I have succes- 
sively exposed, are manifestly incapable of throwing any 
rational light on the causes of poverty, or giving any 
practical guidance to its amelioration. But, absurd as 
they may be, they are at least propoimded with con- 
siderable parade, and we are therefore quite unprepared 
for the strange turn Mr George next chooses to take. 
It will be remembered that the only reason why he 
undertook to search for these laws at all was, that by 
means of them he might explain why wages tended to 
sink to a minimum that would give but a bare living, 
but now that he has discovered those laws, he declines to 

E 3 


apply them to the solution of this problem. He will not 
draw the very conclusion he has laid down all his appa- 
ratus to establish. He will not solve the problem he has 
promised us to solve ; in fact, he tells us he never meant 
to solve it ; he never thought or said wages tended to 
sink to a minimum that would give a bare living ; he 
never said they tended to sink at all ; aU he meant to 
assert was that if they increased, they did not increase 
so fast as the national wealth generally*. He used " the 
word wages not in the sense of a quantity, but in the 
sense of a proportion" (p. 154). He will not therefore, 
after all, show us why the poor are getting poorer ; 
but he will read for us, if we like, another riddle, why 
they are not growing rich so fest as some of their neigh- 
bours. In the name of the patient reader, I may be 
permitted to lodge a humble but firm protest against 
this eccentric and sudden change of front Mr George 
ought really to have decided what problem he was to 
write about before he began to TiTite at all, and we may 
therefore for the present dismiss both his problem and 
his explanation till he makes up his mind. 

HI. Mr George's Remedy. 

After our experience of his problem and his explana- 
tion, we cannot indulge expectations of finding any 
serious or genuine worth in the practical remedy Mr 
George has to prescribe ; and we hear, without a thought 
of incongruity, the lofty terms in which, like other 
medicines we know of, it is advertised to the world by iia 
inventor as a panacea for every disease society is heir ta 
" What I propose," he says, " as the simple yet sovereign 
remedy which will raise wages, increase the earnings of 


capital, extirpate pauperism, abolish poverty, give remu- 
nerative employment to whoever wishes it, afford 
free scope to human powers, lessen crimes, elevate morals 
and taste and intelligence, purify government, and carry 
civilisation to yet nobler heights, is — to appropriate rent 
by taxation " (p. 288). And the direction for applying 
the remedy is equally simple : it is to " abolish all tax- 
ation save that upon land values " (ib). This remedy is 
currently described as the nationalisation of land; 
but nationalisation of laud is a phrase which stands 
for several very different and even conflicting ideas. 
With the usual fatality of revolutionary parties, the 
English land nationalisers arc already broken into three 
separate organisations, and represent at least three 
mutually incompatible schemes of opinion. There is 
first the socialist idea of abolishing both individual 
ownership and individual occupation of land, and culti- 
vating the soil of the country by means of productive 
associations or rural communes. Then there is the 
exactly opposite principle of Mr A. R. Wallace and his 
friends, who are so much in love with both individual 
ownership and individual occupation that their whole 
arnjL is to compel lis all by law to become occupying 
owners of land, whether we have any mind to be so or no. 
And, finally, we have the scheme of, Mr Geoi'gc, which 
must be carefully distinguished from the others, because 
he would destroy individual ownership but leave indivi- 
dual occupation perfectly intact. His non-interference 
with individual occupation is remarkable, because, as we 
have seen, he declares the cause of poverty to be the 
exclusion of unemployed labour from the opportunity of 
cultivating land, and because that exclusion is chiefly 


due to the prior occupation of the land by eariier 
settlers. Mr George, however, thinks he can provide a 
plentiful supply of unoccupied land, at a nominal price, 
for an indefinite number of new comers without disturbing 
any prior occupant. He would do it by merely abolishing 
the private owner and asking the occupant to pay his rent 
to the State instead of to a landlord, and he explains 
to us how it is that this simple expedient is to effect 
the purpose he desires. "The selling price of land 
would fall; land speculation would receive its death- 
blow ; land monopolisation would no longer pay. 
Millions and millions of acres, from which settlers are 
now shut out by high prices, would be abandoned by 
their present owners, or sold to settlers upon nominal 
terms. And this not merely on the frontiers, but within 
what are now considered profitable districts. . . . 
And even in densely populated England would such a 
policy throw open to cultivation many hundreds of 
thousands of acres now held as private parks, deer pre- 
serves, and shooting grounds. For this simple device of 
placing all taxes on the value of land would be in effect 
putting up the land at auction to whoever would pay 
the highest rent to the State. The demand for land 
fixes its value, and hence if taxes were placed so as to 
very nearly consume that value, the man who wished to 
hold land without using it would have to pay very 
nearly what it wmdd be worth to any one who wanted 
to use it" (p. 309). 

Putting up laud to auction will not secure cheap or 
nominally rented fanns to an indefinite number of new 
comers, unless there is an indefinite supply of land to 
divide into ferms, but in the present world that is not 


SO ; and when the existing stock of agricultural land is 
exhausted, and every man has his farm, but there is no 
more for any new comer, what is Mr George's remedy 
then? Abolition of property in land will of course 
abolish all trading in such property; but trading in 
landed property does not restrict its occupation. The 
land speculator, while he holds the land, of course keeps 
out another competitor from the ownership, but he keeps 
nobody from its occupation and cultivation. He is 
surely as ready as anybody else to make money, if money 
is to be made, by letting it, even by putting it up to 
auction, if Mr George prefers that mode of letting. The 
transfer of the power of letting to the State will not 
secure a tenant any figister. And as to the private 
parks, deer forests, and shootings of England, Mr George 
forgets that they are, most of them, at present rented, 
and not, as he seems to fancy, owned, by their occupants, 
and that it would not make a straw of difference to 
them whether they paid their rents to the Crown factor 
or to the landlord's agent. Since Mr George does not 
prohibit the making of fortunes, he cannot prevent 
commercial kings from America or great brewers from 
England hiring forests in the Scotch Highlands. And 
since, in spite of his celebrated declaration that " to the 
landed estates of the Duke of Westminster the poorest 
child that is bom in London to-day has as much right 
as has his eldest son," he would still leave the Duke a 
princely income from the rents of the buildings upon his 
estates, and would suffer him to enjoy it without paying 
a single tax or rate on it all (p. 320) ; why should the Duke 
give up his forest in Assynt, merely because the Crown 
is to draw the rent instead of the Duke of Sutherland ? 


Mr George accordingly proposes a remedy that would 
remedy nothing, but leave things just as they are. Deer 
forests and the like may not be the best use of the land, 
but the particular change Mr George suggests would 
not suppress them or even in the slightest d^ree check 
their spread, and would not throw the ground now 
occupied by them into the ordinary market for cultiva- 
tion. And, besides, even if it did, the land so provided 
for new comers would necessarily soon come to an end, 
and with it Mr George's " simple and sovereign remedy," 
at least in its specific operation. 

But it is noteworthy that in his recent lectures in this 
country, Mr George made little account of the specific 
operation of his remedy as a means of furnishing un- 
employed labourers with a practicable alternative in 
agricultural production, to which they might continue 
indefinitely to resort, and that he preferred for the most 
part drawing his cure for poverty from the public 
revenue which the confiscation of rent would place at 
the disposal of the community. Now as to this aspect 
of his remedy, it is surely one of the oddest of his 
delusions to dream of curing pauperism by multiplying 
the recipients of poof relief, and taking away firom it, as 
he claims credit for doing, through the countenance of 
numbers, that reproach which has hitherto been the 
the strongest preventive against it Besides, he and his 
friends greatly exaggerate the amount of the fund the 
country would derive from the rent of its ground. It 
would really fall far short of paying the whole of our 
present taxation, not to speak of leaving anything over 
for wild schemes of speculative beneficence. The niral 
rent of the country is only seventy millions, and that 


sum includes the rent of buildings, which Mr (Jeorge 
does not propose to touch, and which would probably 
in the aggregate balance the ground rent of towns, which 
he includes in his confiscation project. Now our local 
taxation alone comes very near that figure, and certainly 
the people generally can scarcely be expected to rise 
from a condition of alleged poverty to one of substantial 
wealth, or even comfort, through merely having their 
local rates paid for them. 

The result would therefore be poor, even if no com- 
pensation were to b^ made to the present receivers of 
the rent ; but with the compensation price to pay, it 
would be really too ridiculously small to throw a whole 
nation into labour and disorder for. Much may be 
done — ^much must be done — to make the land of the 
country more available and more profitable for the wants 
of the body of the people, but not one jot of what is 
required would be done by mere nationalisation of the 
ownership, or even done better on such a basis than on 
that which exists. The things that are requisite and 
necessary would remain still to be done, though land 
were nationalised to-morrow, and they can be equally 
well done without introducing that cumbrous innovation 
at all. With compensation the scheme is futile ; without 
it, it is repugnant to a healthy moral sense. Mr (Jeorge 
indeed regards confiscation as an article of faith. It is 
of the essence of the message he keeps on preaching 
with so much conviction and courage and fervour. 
Private property in land, he tells us, is robbery, and 
rent is theft, and the reason he offers for these strong 
assertions is that nothing can rightly be private property 
which is not the fruit of human labour, and that 


land is not the fruit of human labour, but the gift of 
Grod. As the gift of Grod, it was, he believes, intended 
for all men alike, and therefore its private appropriation 
seems to him unjust Under these circumstances he 
considers it as preposterous to compensate landowners 
for the loss of their land, as it would be to compensate 
thieves for the restitution of their spoil. To confiscate 
land is only to take one's own ; Mr George has no 
diflBculty about the sound of the word, nor is he troubled 
by any subtleties as to the length it is proper to go in the 
work. Mr Mill, whose writings pnobably put Mr (Jeorge 
first on this track, proposed to intercept {or national 
purposes only the future unearned increase of the rent of 
land, only that portion of the future increase of rent which 
should not be due to the expenditure of labour and 
capital on the soil. Mr George would appropriate the 
entire rent^ the earned increase as well as the uneamedy 
the past as well as the future ; with this exception that 
interest on such improvements as are the fruit of human 
exertion, and are clearly distinguishable from the land 
itself, would be allowed for a moderate period. He 
says, in one place, " But it will be said : These are 
improvements .which in time become indistinguishable 
from the land itself ! Very well ; then the title to the 
improvements becomes blended with the title to the 
land ; the individual right is lost in the common right. 
It is the greater that swallows up the less, not the less 
that swallows up the greater. Nature does not proceed 
from man, but man from nature, and it is into the 
bosom of nature that he and all his works must return 
again " (p. 242). And in another place, speaking of 
the separation of the value of the land from the value 


of the improvements, he says : " In the oldest country 
in the world no difficulty whatever can attend the 
separation, if all that be attempted is to separate the 
value of the clearly distinguishable improvements, made 
within a moderate period, from the value of the land, 
should they be destroyed. This manifestly is all that 
justice or policy requires. Absolute accuracy is im- 
possible in any system, and to attempt to separate all 
the human race has done from what nature originally 
provided, would be as absurd as impracticable. A 
swamp drained, or a hill terraced by the Romans, 
constitutes now as much a part of the natural advantages 
of the British Isles as though the work had been done 
by earthquake or glacier. The fact that after a certain 
lapse of time the value of such permanent improvements 
would be considered as having lapsed into that of the 
land, and would be taxed accordingly, could have no 
deterrent eflFect on such improvements, for such works 
are frequently undertaken upon leases for years" (p. 
302). The sum of this teaching seems to be that Mr 
George would recognise no separate value in any im- 
provements except buildings, and would be disposed to 
appropriate even them after such lapse of time as would 
make it not absolutely unprofitable to erect them. 

What Mr Greorge fails to perceive is that agricultural 
land is in no sense more a gift of God, and in no sense 
less an artificial product of human labour, than other 
commodities, than gold, for example, or cattle, or 
furniture, in which he owns private property to be 
indisputably just Some of the richest land in England 
lies in the fen country, and that land is as much the 
product of engineering skill and prolonged labour as 


Portland Harbour or Menai Bridge. Before the days 
of Sir Cornelius Vermuyden it was part of the bottom 
of the sea, and its inhabitants, as they are described by 
Camden, trode about on stilts, and lived by snaring 
waterfowl. Some of the best land in Belgium was 
barren sand heaps a hundred years ago, and has been 
made what it is only by the continuous and untiring 
labour of its small proprietors. In these cases the 
labour and the results of the labour are obvious, but no 
cultivated land exists anywhere that is not the product 
of much labour — certainly much more labour than Mr 
George seems to have any idea of. In the evidence 
taken before the recent Crofters' Commission, Mr Greig, 
who conducted the Duke of Sutherland's improvements 
in the Strath of Kildonan, stated that the cost of 
reclaiming 1300 acres of land there, and furnishing 
them with the requisite buildings for nine variously sized 
farms, was £46,000. Apart from the buildings, the 
mere work of reclamation alone is generally estimated 
to have cost £20 an acre, and in another part of the 
same estates an equally extensive piece of reclamation 
is said to have cost £30 an acre. By means of this great 
expenditure of capital and labour, land that would hardly 
fetch a rent of a shilling an acre before is worth twenty 
or thirty shillings an acre now. Not the buildings only, 
but the land itself has been made what it is by labour. 
It has been adapted to a useful office by human skill as 
really as the clay is by the potter, or the timber by the 
Wright Deduct from the rent of these reclaimed acres 
the value contributed by human labour, and how much 
would remain to represent the gift of God? And 
would it be greater or less than would remain after a 


like process applied, say, to a sovereign or to a nugget 
of gold ? Mr George has no scruple about the justice 
of pjivate property and inheritance in the nugget, and 
indeed in all kinds of moveable wealth. "The pen 
with which I am writing," he says, for example, "is 
justly mine. No other human being can rightfully lay 
claim to it, for in me is the title of the original producers 
who made it " (p. 236). The original producer of the 
nugget appropriated what was surely a gift of God as 
much as the clays or loams of husbandry, and if he, as 
Mr George admits, has " a clear and indefeasible title 
to the exclusive possession and enjoyment" of his 
nugget, and may transmit that title by bequest or sale 
unimpaired for an unrestricted period of time, why is 
the original producer of agricultural land to be held up 
as more than half a thief, and the present possessor as 
one entirely ? And if a proprietor has spent £20,000 
in buildings, and £26,000 in reclamations, in order to 
convert the surface of the earth into useful arable soil, 
why is he to be allowed rent on the £20,000, and 
denied it on the £26,000 ? 

So far as the distinction between gifts of natiure and 
products of labour goes, moveable wealth and immoveable 
stand on precisely the same footing. Both are alike 
gifts of nature, and both are alike products of labour. 
In thinking otherwise Mr George is certainly supported 
by the high authority of Mr Mill, who has also failed 
to recognise how far arable land was really an artificial 
product He says : " The land is not of man's creation, 
and for a person to appropriate to himself a mere gift 
of nature, not made to him in particular, but which 
belonged to all others until he took possession of it, is 


primd facie an injustice to all the rest " (Dissert iv., 
289). But what is of man's creation ? He finds his 
materials abeady created, and he merely appropriates 
them, and adapts them to his own uses by labour, exactly 
as he does with the soil that in his hands becomes 
fruitful fields. Land is as much a creation of man as 
anything else is, and everything is as much a gift of God 
as land. That distinction is therefore of no possible help 
to us. The true ground for observing a difference 
between the right of property in land and the right of 
property in other things must be sought for elsewhere. 
It is not because land is a gift of nature, while other 
things are products of labour, but because land is at once 
limited in quantity, and essential to the production of the 
general necessaries of life. These are the characteristics, 
that make land a unique and exceptional commodity, and 
require the right of property in it to be subject to 
different conditions from the right of property in other 
products of labour. The justification of the restriction 
of that right in the case of land accordingly rests neither 
on theological dogma nor on metaphysical distinction, 
but on a plain practical social necessity. Where land 
is still abundant, where population is yet scanty as 
compared with the land it occupies, there is no occasion 
for interference ; the proprietor might enjoy as absolute 
a title as Mr (Jeorge claims over his pen, without any 
public inconvenience, but, on the contrary, with all the 
public benefit that belongs to absolute ownership in 
other things. But as soon as population has increaseil 
so much as to compel recourse to inferior soils for its 
subsistence, it becomes the duty of society to see that 
the most productive use possible is being made of its 


land, and to introduce such a mode of tenure as seems 
most likely eflfectually to secure that end. Under these 
circumstances private property in land requires an addi- 
tional justification, besides that which is sufficient for 
other things ; it must be conducive to the best use of the 
land. Society has become obliged to husband its re- 
sources; if it will do so most efficiently by means of private 
property, private property will stand ; if not, then it must 
fall. Of course land is not the only kind of property that 
is subject to this social claim. All property is so held, 
but in the case of other things the claim seldom comes 
into open view, because it is only on exceptional 
occasions that it is necessary to call it into active 
operation. Provisions are among the things Mr Greorge 
considers not gifts of God but products of labour, but in 
a siege private property in provisions would absolutely 
cease, and the social right would be all in all. These 
products of labour would be nationalised at that time 
because in the circumstances the general interests of the 
community required them to be so, and the reason why 
they are not nationalised at other times is at bottom 
really this, that the general interest of the community is 
better served by leaving them as they are. In some 
parts of the world all products of labour actually are 
nationalised ; in Samoa, for example, a man who wants 
anything has a latent but recognised claim to obtain it 
from any man who has it ; but Dr Turner explains that 
the result is most pernicious, because while it has extin- 
guished absolute destitution, it has lowered the level of 
prosperity and prevented all progress, no man caring to 
labour when he cannot retain the fruits of his labour. 
Civilised communities, however, have always perceived 


the immense public advantage of the institution of 
private property, and the right to such property, of 
whatever kind, really rests in the last analysis on a 
social justification, and is held subject to a social claim, 
if any reason occurred to exert it. In this respect there 
is nothing peculiar about land. The only peculiarity 
about land is that a necessity exists for the practical 
exercise of the claim, because landed property involves 
the control of the national food supply, and of other 
primary and essential needs of the community. The 
growth of population forces more and more imperatively 
upon us the necessity of making the most of our land, 
and consequently raises the question how far private 
property in such a subject is conducive to that end. 

Now, in regard to capital invested in trade manu- 
factures, it has always been justly considered that the 
private interest of its possessor constitutes the best 
guarantee for its most productive use, because the trader 
or manufacturer is animated by the purely commercial 
motive of gaining the greatest possible increase out of 
the employment of his capital. But it must be admitted 
that the private interest of the landlord does not supply 
us with so siu'e a guarantee. He desires wealth no 
doubt as well as the trader, but he is not so purely 
influenced by that desire in his use of his property. He 
is apt to sacrifice the most productive use of land — or, 
in other words, his purely pecuniary interest — to con- 
siderations of ease or pleasure, or social importance, or 
political influence. He may consolidate &rms, to the 
distress of the small tenants and the injury of the 
country generally, merely because there is less trouble in 
managing a few large farmers than a number of small ; 


or he may refuse to give his tenants those conditions of 
tenure that are essential to eflBcient cultivation of the 
land, merely to keep them more dependent on himself 
in political conflicts. Mr George, however, has a 
strong conviction that even the purely pecuniary 
interest of the private owner tends to keep land out 
of cultivation, but he builds his conclusion on the 
special experiences of land speculation rather than on 
the general facts of land -owning. Of course if there 
were no land-owning thei*e would be no land speculation, 
but to abolish land-owning merely to cure the evils of 
land speculation is, if I may borrow an illustration of 
his own, tantamount to burning a house to roast a joint 
Besides, all that is alleged is that speculation keeps a 
certain amount of land in America out of the market. 
In other countries it suflers from a contrary reproach. 
The evil of the bandes noires of France and the Land- 
metzger of Germany is their excessive activity hi 
bringing land into the market, by which they have 
aggravated the pernicious sub-division of estates that 
exist In America the effect of speculation may be 
diflerent, but at anyrate keeping land out of the market 
is one thing, keeping it out of cultivation is another ; 
and it is hard to see how speculation should prevent the 
extension -of cultivation, because cultivation may be as 
well undertaken by tenant as proprietor, and why should 
a speculator, who buys land to sell it in a few years at 
a high profit, object to taking an annual rent in the 
interval from any one who thought it would pay him to 
hire the land? It would not be fair to condemn the 
landlord for the sins of the land speculator, even if the 
latter were all that Mr George's curious horror of him 


represents him to be, and if he exercised any of the 
irrationally extravagant effects which Mr G^oi^ ascribes 
to his influence over the economy of things ; but as a 
matter of fact a sober judgment can discover no 
possible reason why the private interest of a land 
speculator as such should stand in the way of the 
cultivation of the soil he happens to hold. What 
concerns us here, however, is not the private interest of 
the speculator, but the private interest of the landlord, 
whether a speculative purchaser or not. Now, much 
land lies waste at present through the operation of the 
game laws, which establish an artificial protection of 
sport as an alternative industry against agriculture, but 
then the general institution of private property in land 
must not be credited with the specific effects of the 
game laws, and need not be suppressed in order to get 
rid of them. The abolition of these laws would place 
the culture of wild animals and the culture of domestic 
animals on more equal terms in the commercial com- 
petition, and would probably restore the balance of the 
landlord's pecuniary advantage in favour of the latter. 
Besides, it is not a question of ownership but of 
occupation of land that is really involved. If the land 
were nationalised to-morrow, the State would have to 
decide whether it would let as much land as had 
hitherto been let to sporting tenants ; and of course it 
can decide that, if it chooses, now. 

So far as I am able to judge, there is only one respect 
in which the pecuniary interest of the landlord appears 
to be unfavourable to an extension of cultivation. There 
is probably a considerable quantity of land that might 
becultivated with advantage to the community generally 


by labourers who expected nothing from it but the 
equivalent of ordinary wages, and which is at present 
suffered to lie waste, because its produce would be 
insufficient to yield anything more than wages and would 
afford nothing to the capitalist farmer as profit or to the 
landlord as rent How far this operates I have, of course, 
no means of knowing ; but here again, one may deal with 
waste ground if it were judged requisite to do so, 
without resorting to any revolutionary schemes of 
general land nationalisation. Of course much land 
is kept in an inferior condition, or perhaps absolutely 
waste, through want of capital on the part of its 
owners, but the same result would happen under the 
nationalisation plan, through want of capital on the part 
of the tenants. Mr George does not propose to supply 
any of the necessary capital out of public funds, but 
trusts to the enterprise and ability of the tenants them- 
selves to furnish it ; so that the occupier would be no 
better situated under the State than he would be under 
an embarrassed landlord, if he enjoyed compensation for 
his improvements. In either case he would improve as 
&r as his own means allowed, and he would improve 
no further. But if by nationalisation of land we 
get rid of the embarrassed landlord, we lose at the 
same time the wealthy one, and the tenants of the 
latter would be decidedly worse off under the State, 
which only drew rents, but laid out no expenses. The 
community, too, and the general cultivation of the 
country would be greatly the losers. Mr George has 
probably little conception of the amount of money an 
improving landlord thinks it necessary to invest in 
maintaining or increasing the productive capacity of his 

P 2 


laud. A convenient illustration of it is furnished by the 
evidence of Sir Arnold Kemball, commissioner of the 
Duke of Sutherland, before the recent Crofters' Com- 
mission. Sir Arnold gave in an abstract of the revenue 
and expenditure on the Sutherland estates for the thirty 
years 1853-1882, and it appears that the total revenue 
for that period was £1,039,748, and the total ex- 
penditure (exclusive of the expenses of the Ducal 
establishment in Sutherland) was £1,285,122, or a 
quarter of a million more than the entire renti\l. Here, 
then, is a dilemma for Mr George : With equally liberal 
management of the land on the part of the State, how 
is he to endow widows and pay the taxes of the bour- 
geoisie out of the rents? And \\ithout such liberal 
management how is he to promote the spread of 
cultivation better than the present owners ? 

The production of food, however, is only one of those 
uses of the land in which the public have a necessary and 
growing interest They require sites for houses, for 
churches, for means of comnmnication, for a thousand 
purposes, and the landlord often refuses to grant such 
altogether, or charges an exorbitant price for the 
privilege. He has refused sites to churches from sectarian 
reasons ; for laboiu^ers* cottages in rural districts for fear 
of increasing the poor-rate ; in small to^ms with a growing 
trade from purely sentimental objections to their growth ; 
he has refused rights of way to people in search of pure 
air, for fear they disturbed his game, and he has enclosed 
ancient paths and commons whii^h had been the enjoy- 
ment of all from immemorial time. I do not speak of the 
ground rent in large cities where owners are numerous, 
because that, though, a question of great magnitude. 


involves peculiarities that separate it from the allied 
question of rural ground rent, and make it more 
advantageously treated on its own basis. But in country 
districts where owners are few, and the possession of 
land therefore confers on one man power of many 
sorts over the growth and comfort of a whole 
community, that power ought certainly to be closely 
controlled by the State. Its tyrannical exercise has 
probably done more than anything else to excite popular 
hostility against landlordism, and to lend strength to 
the present crusade for the total abolition of private 
property in land. But here again the cure is far too 
drastic for the disease. What is needed is merely the 
prevention of abuses in the management of laud, and 
that will be accomplished better by regulations in the 
interest of the community than by any scheme of com- 
plete nationalisation. A sound land reform must — in 
this country at least — set its face in precisely the 
contrary direction. It must aim at multiplying, instead 
of extirpating, the private owners of land, and at nursing 
by all wise and legitimate means the growth of a 
numerous occupying proprietary. State ownership by 
itself is no better guarantee than private ownership by 
itself for the most productive possible use of the land ; 
indeed, if we judge from the experience of countries 
where it is practised, it is a much worse one ; but by 
universal consent the best and surest of all guarantees 
for the highest utilisation of the land is private owner- 
ship, coupled with occupation by the owner. 

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