iHiiiiMiiiiUHniiiiiiiiiiiuiimmHttiiiniiiiiiim miMiMUHU ii iiuuimtwuMMmtim
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES
ALLAN L. BENSON
Author of "The Usurped Power o^f the Courts,"
"The Growing Grocery Bill," "Socialism
Made Plain," etc.
B. W. HUEBSCH
By The Pearson Publishing Co.
By Allan L. Benson
First printing, February, lOIU
Second printing, March, I!)i;t
Tliird printing. May, 191.)
Fourth printing, June, 1913
. • ••,*•.••*..• • . - • • • • •
• • •• ' •• •• > * .' • • •'• * ,* <• •*. • •
• ••• •• '♦ ,•• . " .• • »•'••:•.•• •• • •
.... . . . • - • . .
• - •
I To THE Disinherited i
II What Socialism Is and Why It Is . . . 4
e^ III The Virtuous Grafters and Their Grave
o Objections to Socialism 24
. . IV Why Socialists Preach Discontent ... 43
V How THE People May Acquire the Trusts 63
VI The " Private Property " Bogey-Man . . 81
^11 Socialism the Lone Foe of War .... 99
VIII Why Socialists Oppose " Radical Politi-
cians " 120
^^ IX The Truth about the Coal Question . .139
r X Deathbeds and Dividends 153
>v\ XI If Not Socialism — What? ..... 166
*^ Appendix 183
The Truth About Socialism
TO THE DISINHERITED
I AM going to put a new heart into you. I am go-
ing to put your shoulders back and your head up.
Behind your tongue I shall put words, and behind your
words I shall put power. Your dead hopes I shall drag
back from the grave and make them live. Your live
fears I shall put into the grave and make them die. I
shall do all of these things and more by becoming your
voice. I shall say what you have always thought, but
did not say. And, when your own unspoken words
come back to you, they will come back like rolling thun-
This country belongs to the people who live in it.
The power that made the Rocky Mountains did not
so make them that, viewed from aloft, they spell
The monogram of Morgan is nowhere worked out
in the course of the Hudson River.
Nothing above ground or below ground indicates that
this country was made for anybody in particular.
Everything above ground and below ground indicates
that it was made for everybody.
Yet, this country, as it stands to-day, is not for every-
body. Everybody has not an equal opportunity in it.
A few do nothing and have everything. The rest do
everything and have nothing.
A great many gentlemen arc engaged in the occupa-
2 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
tion of trying to make these wrongs seem right. They
write pohtical platforms to make them seem right.
They make pohtical speeches to make them seem right.
They go to Congress to make them seem right. Some
go even to the White House to make them seem right.
But no mere words, however fine, can make these wrongs
The conditions that exist in this country to-day are
indefensible and intolerable. This should be a happy
country. It should be a happy country because it con-
tains an abundance of every element that is required to
make happiness. The pangs of hunger should never
come to a single human being, because we already pro-
duce as much food as we need, and with more intelli-
gent effort could easily produce enough to supply a
population ten times as great.
Yet, instead of this happy land, we have a land in
which the task of making a living is constantly becom-
ing greater and more uncertain. Everything seems to
be tied up in a knot that is becoming tighter.
You do not know what is the matter.
Your neighbor does not know what is the matter.
Why should you know what is the matter?
You never listen to anybody who wants you to find
out. You listen only to men who want to squeeze you
out. Their word is good with you every time. You
may not think it is good, but it is good. You may not
take advice from Mr. Morgan, but you take advice from
Mr. Morgan's Presidents, Congressmen, writers, and
speakers. You may not take advice from Mr. Ryan,
but you take advice from the men whom Mr. Ryan con-
trols. If you should go straight to Mr. Ryan you
would get the same advice. What these men say to you,
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Ryan say to them. You listen
TO THE DISINHERITED 3
as they speak. You vote as they vote. They get what
they want. You don't get what you want. But you
stick together. You seem never to grow tired. You
were with them at the last election. Many of you will
be with them at the next election. But you will not be
with them for a while after the next election. They
will go to their fine homes, while you go to your poor
ones. They will take no fear with them, save the fear
that some day you will wake up ; that some day you will
listen to men who talk to you as I am talking to you.
But you will take the fear of poverty with you, and it
will hang like a pall over your happiness.
If you have lost your hope of happiness, get it back.
This can be a happy nation in your time. This country
is for you. It is big. It is rich. It is all you need.
But you will have to take it, and the easiest way to take
it is with ballots.
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS
THE occupation of the scarlet woman is said to'
be " the oldest profession." If so, the robbery
of man by man is the oldest trade. It is as old as the
human race. It had its origin in the difficulty of pro-
ducing enough of the material necessities of life. The
earth was lean. Man was weak. Never was there
enough food for all. Many must suffer. Some must
What wonder that man robbed man? Self-preserva-
tion is the first law of nature. We have always fought
and shall always fight for those things that are scarce
and without which we should die. If water were
scarce, we should all be fighting by the brookside. If
air were scarce, we should all be straining our lungs to
take in as much as we could.
But what wonder, also, that the robbed should resist
those who robbed them? The robbed, too, have the in-
stinct of self-preservation. They, too, want to live.
All through the ages, they have fought for the right to
live By the sheer force of numbers, they have driven
their exploiters from pillar to post. Again and again,
they have compelled their exploiters to abandon one
method of robbery, only to see them take up another.
And, though some men no longer own other men's bod-
ies, some men still live by the sweat of other men's
The question is: Must this go on forever? Must
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 5
a few always live so far from poverty that they cannot
see it, while the rest live so close ta it that they cannot
see anything else? Must millions of women work in
factories at men's work, while millions of men walk the
streets unable to get any work? Must the cry of child-
labor forever sound to high heaven above the rumble of
the mills that grind their bodies into dividends? Must
the pinched faces of underfed children always make
some places hideous?
No man in his senses will say that this situation must
always exist. Human nature revolts at it. The wrong
of it rouses the feelings even before it touches the intel-
lect. Something within us tells us to cry out and to
keep crying out until we find relief. We have tried al-
most every remedy that has been offered to us, but every
remedy we have tried has failed. The hungry children
are still with us. The hungry women are still with us.
The hungry men are still with us. Never before was it
so hard for most people to live. Yet, we live at a time
when men, working with machinery, could make enough
of everything for everybody.
Your radical Republican recognizes these facts and
says something is the matter. Your Democratic radical
recognizes these facts and says something is the matter.
Your Rooseveltian Progressive also recognizes these
facts and says something is the matter. But if you
will carefully listen to these gentlemen, you will ob-
serve that none of them believes much is the mat-
ter. None of tliem believes much need be done to
make everything right. One wants to loosen the tariff
screw a little. The otliers want to put a new little
wheel in the anti-trust machine.
Socialists differ from each of these gentlemen. So-
cialists say much is the matter with this country. So-
6 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
cialists say much is the matter with any country, most
of whose people are in want or in fear of want, and
some of whose people are where want never comes or
can come. Some such conditions might have been tol-
erated a thousand years ago. Socialists will not toler-
ate them to-day. They say the time for poverty has
passed. They say the time for poverty passed when
man substituted steam and electricity for his muscles
and machinery for his fingers.
But poverty did not go out when steam and electricity
came in. On the contrary, the fear of want became
intensified. Now, nobody who has not capital can live
unless he can get a job. In the days that preceded the
steam engine, nobody had to look for a job. Every-
body owned his own job. The shoemaker could make
shoes for his neighbors. The weaver could weave cloth.
Each could work at his trade, without anybody's per-
mission, because the tools of their trades were few and
inexpensive. Now, neither of them can work at his
trade, because the tools of his trade have become nu-
merous and expensive. The tools of the shoemaker's
trade are in the great factory that covers, perhaps, a
dozen acres. The tools of the weaver's trade are in an-
other enormous factory. Neither the shoemaker nor
the weaver can ever hope to own the tools of his trade.
Nor, with the little hand-tools of the past centuries, can
either of them compete with the modern factories. The
shoe trust, with steam, electricity and machinery, can
make a pair of shoes at a price that no shoemaker, work-
ing by hand, could touch.
Thus the hand-workers have been driven to knock at
the doors of the factories that rich men own and ask for
work. If the rich men can see a profit in letting the
poor men work, the poor men are permitted to work.
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 7
If the rich men cannot see a profit in letting the poor
men work, then the poor men may not work. Though
there be the greatest need for shoes, if those in need
have no money, the rich men lock up their factories and
wave the workers a: .ay. The workers may starve, if
they like. Their wi< -s and children may starve. The
workers may become tramps, criminals or maniacs ; their
wives and their little children may be driven into the
street — but the rich men who closed their factories be-
cause they could see no profit in keeping them open —
these rich men take no part of the responsibility. They
talk about the " laws of trade," go to their clubs and
have a little smoke, and, perhaps, the next week give a
few dollars to " worthy charity " and forget all about
Now, the Socialists are extremely tired of all this.
Their remedy may be all wrong, but they are tired of
all this. Put the accent upon the tired all the time.
They say it is all wrong. Not only do they say it is
all wrong, but they say they know how to make it all
right. They do not propose to do any small job of
tinkering, because they say that if small jobs of tinker-
ing were enough to cure the great evil of poverty, we
should have cured it long ago. They say we have been
tinkering with tariffs, income taxes and the money ques-
tion for a hundred years without reducing either want
or the fear of want. They say we have made no prog-
ress, during the last hundred years, in reducing want
and the fear of want, because we have never hit the
grafters where they live. By this, they mean that we
have never cut the tap root upon which robbery grows.
The serfs cut off the tap root when they threw off chat-
tel slavery, but another tap root has grown and wc have
not yet discovered where to strike.
8 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
The Socialists say they know where to strike.
" Strike at the macJiinery of the country," they say,
" by having the people, through the government, own
the machinery of the country."
" Cut out the profits of the private owners" they say.
" Let the people oivn the trusts and make things because
they zvant the things, instead of because somebody else
wants a profit, and there will never again be in this coun-
try either zvant or the fear of want."
This sounds like a nice, man-made program, cooked
up late at night by some zealous gentleman intent upon
saving his country. It may be a foolish program, but
if it is, it is not that kind of a foolish program. It is
not man-made, any more than Darwin's theory of evo-
lution is man-made. Darwin observed present animal
life and thereby explained the past. Socialists observe
past and present industrial life and thereby forecast the
future. Paradoxically, then, the Socialist remedy is not
a Socialist remedy. If it is anything, it is the remedy
that evolution is bringing to us. Socialists see what
evolution is bringing and proclaim it, much as a train-
man announces the coming of a train that he already
sees rounding a curve.
Let me tell a story to illustrate this point :
Seventy years ago. Socialist writers predicted and
accurately described the trusts as they exist to-day.
Nobody paid much attention to the predictions or the
descriptions. Nowhere in the world was there a single
trust. Nowhere in the world was any one thinking of
forming one. The first trust was not formed until al-
most forty years later.
The trusts were predicted because the steam engine
had been invented and brought with it machinery. The
invention did not mean much to most people. It meant
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 9
everything to these early Socialists. They saw its sig-
nificance. They saw that it meant a transformed world.
Never again would the world be as it had always been.
Never again would the amount of wealth that man could
create be limited by his weak muscles. Steam and ma-
chinery had come to do, not only what he had been
doing, but what he had never dreamed of doing. i
The only lesson that the rich men of the day learned
from steam was that it meant more money for them.
The rich men of the day, by the way, were in need of
a new method of exploitation. Serfdom had just gone
down in the Napoleonic wars, and some men were no
longer able to exploit other men by claiming to own
the other men's bodies. Exploitation, through the pri-
vate ownership of land, still continued, it is true, but a
man working by hand cannot be much exploited be-
cause he cannot make much. What I mean by this is
that he cannot be exploited of many dollars. Of course,
he can be exploited of so great a percentage of his
product that he is left starving, but the man who ex-
ploits him will not be much richer. That is why there
were no great fortunes, as we now know them, in the
days before the machinery age. Wealth was too diffi-
cult to make.
But, to return to our story. The invention of the
steam engine gave the rich men of the early eighteenth
century the opportunity of which they stood much in
need. Factories cost money. The workers did not
have any. The rich men did. The rich men built fac-
tories. That is to say, they thought they were only
building factories. As a matter of fact, they wore
taking over, from the hands of evolution, the poor man's
tools. Never again were working men to own the tools
of their trades. Their tools had gone down in the
lo THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
striigp^le in which the survivors must be the fittest. For
centuries, the world had starved because of their old
hand-tools. They could not, for a moment, exist after
steam and machinery came. It was right that the hand-
tools should go. It was unfortunate for the workers
only that the successors of hand-tools were too expen-
sive for individual ownership, and that they were also
unsuited to such ownership. No man can run a whole
shoe factory, even if he owns one. Many men are re-
quired to run many machines, and many machines are
required to make the labor of men most productive.
All of this, the early Socialists saw or reasoned out.
They saw the rich men of the day building factories.
They saw those who were not quite so rich joining to-
gether to build factories. Little co-partnerships were
springing up all over the world. Everybody competed
with everybody else in his line. Manufactures multi-
plied, and it became the common belief that " competi-
tion was the life of trade."
Stick a pin here. The roots of Socialism go down
somewhere near this point.
The early Socialist writers who predicted the trusts
did not believe competition was the life of trade. They
believed the inevitable tendency of competition was to
kill itself. Their reasoning took this form:
Manufacturers engage in business, not be-
cause they want to supply goods to the public,
but because they want to make profits for them-
Inasmuch as the question of who shall make
the profits depends upon who shall sell the
goods, manufacturers will compete with each
other to sell goods.
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY. IT IS ii
Manufacturers will be able to compete and
still make a profit so long as the demand for
goods far exceeds the supply.
But the demand for goods w-ill not always
far exceed the supply. The opportunity to
make profits will tempt other capitalists to
create manufacturing enterprises. The market
will become glutted with goods, because more
will have been produced than the people can
Competition among manufacturers will then
become so fierce that profits will first shrink
and eventually disappear.
Manufacturers, to regain their profits, will
then cease to compete. The strongest will buy
out or crush the weakest. Monopolies will be
formed, primarily to end competition and save
the competitors from themselves, but, having
been formed, they will also be used to rob the
Mind you — this reasoning- is not new. It is seventy
years old. It sounds new only because it has so recently
come true. Nobody whose eyes are open now believes
that competition is the life of trade. The phrase has
died upon the lips of the very men who used to speak it.
The late Senator Hanna was one of the many who used
to believe that good trade could not be where compe-
tition was not. But, when the great tru.st movement
of 1898 was under way, Senator Hanna said: "It is
not a question of whether business men do or do not
believe in trusts. It is a question only of whether busi-
ness men want to be killed by competition or saved by
12 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
However, tlie existence of the trusts is ample verifica-
tion of the Socialist prophecy that they would come.
And the trusts came in the way that the early Socialists
said they would come.
We may now proceed to consider what those early
Socialist writers thought of the trusts that they so ac-
curately described before they came, what they believed
would become of them and what they believed would
No Socialist was ever heard finding fault with a
trust simply for existing. A Socialist would as soon
find fault wnth a green apple because it had been pro-
duced from a blossom. In fact, Socialists regard the
trusts as the green apples upon the tree of industrial
evolution. But they would no more destroy these in-
dustrial green apples that are making the world sick
than they would destroy the green apples that make
small boys sick. They pause, first because they are evo-
lutionists, not only in biology, but in everything; sec-
ond, because they recall that the green apples that make
the boy sick will, if left to ripen, make the man well.
In short, Socialists regard trusts, or private monopolies,
as a necessary stage in industrial evolution ; a stage that
we could not have avoided ; a stage that in many respects,
represents a great advance over any phase of civilization
that preceded it, yet a stage at which we cannot stop'
unless civilization stops. Therefore, Socialists take this
It is flying in the face of evolution itself to
talk about destroying, or even effectually regu-
lating the trusts.
Private monopolies cannot he destroyed ex-
cept as green apples can he destroyed — hy
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 13
crushing them and staying the evolutionary
processes that, if left alone, will yield good
Private monopolies cannot he effectually
regulated because, so long as they are per-
mitted to exist, they will regulate the govern-
ment instead of permitting the government to
regulate them. They will regulate the govern-
ment because the great profits at stake will
give them the incentive to do so and the enor-
mous capital at their command will give them
the power to do so.
In other words, Socialists say that the processes of
evolution should go on. What do they mean by this?
They mean that the good elements of the trust princi-
ple should be preserved and the bad elements destroyed.
What are the good elements? The economies of large,
well-ordered production, and the avoidance of the waste
due to haphazard, competitive production. And the bad
elements? The powers that private monopoly gives,
through control of market and governmental policies,
to rob the consumer.
Socialists contend that the good can be saved and the
bad destroyed by converting the private monopolies into
public monopolies — in other words, by letting the
government own the trusts and the people own the gov-
ernment. This may seem like what the foes of So-
cialism would call a " patent nostrum." It is nothing of
the kind. It is no more a patent nostrum than the
trusts are patent nostrums. Socialists invented neither
private monopolies nor public monopolies. Socialists
did not kill competition. Competition killed itself. So-
cialists simply were able to foresee that too much com-
14 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
petition would end all competition and thus give birtli
to private monopoly.
And, having seen thus far, they looked a little further
and saw that private monopoly would not be an un-
mixed blessing. They saw that under it, robbery would
be practised in new, strange and colossal forms. They
knew the people would not like robbery in any form.
They knev;^ they would cry out against it as they are
crying out against the trusts to-day. And they believed
that after having tried to destroy the trusts and failed
at that ; after having tried to regulate the trusts and
failed at that, that the people would cease trying to
buck evolution, and get for themselves the benefits of
the trusts by owning them.
This may be an absurd idea, but in part, at least, it
has already been verified. It has been demonstrated
that private monopoly saves the enormous sums that
were spent in the competitive era to determine whether
this man or that man should get the profit upon the
things you buy. The consumer has absolutely no in-
terest in the identity of the capitalist who exploits him.
But when capitalists were competing for trade, the con-
sumer was made to bear the whole cost of fighting for
Private monopoly has largely done away with the cost
of selling trust goods, by doing away with the individual
competitors who were once struggling to put their goods
upon the market. Private monopoly has also reduced
the cost of production by introducing the innumerable
economies that accompany large production.
What private monopoly has not done and will never
do is to pass along these savings to the consumers. The
monopolists have passed along some of the savings, but
not many of them. What they have passed along bears
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 15
but a small proportion to what they have kept. That
is what most of the trouble is about now. The people
find it increasingly difficult to live. For a dozen years,
it has been increasingly difficult to live. Persistent and
more persistent has been the demand that something be
done about the trusts.
The first demand was that the trusts be destroyed.
Now, Mr. Bryan is about the only man in the country
to whom the conviction has not been borne homfe that
the trusts cannot be destroyed. The rest of the people
want the trusts regulated, and the worst of the trust
magnates sent to jail. Up to date, not a single trust
has been regulated, nor a single trust magnate sent to
jail. Officially, of course, the Standard Oil Company,
the American Tobacco Company and the Coal Trust
have been cleansed in the blue waters of the Supreme
Court laundry and hung upon the line as white as snow.
But gentlemen who are not stone blind know that this is
not so. They know the Standard Oil Company, the
American Tobacco Company and the Coal Trust have
merely put on masks and gone on with the hold-up busi-
ness. Therefore, the Socialist predictions of seventy
years ago have all been verified up to and including the
inability of any government either to destroy or regulate
So much for what Socialists believe Socialism, by
reducing the prices of commodities to cost, would do
for the people as consumers. Socialists believe So-
cialism would do even more for the people as workers.
Behold the present plight of the workingman. He has
a right to live, but he has not a right to the means by
which he can live. He cannot live without work, yet,
ever he must seek work as a privilege — not as a right.
The coming of the age of machinery has made it im-
i6 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
possible to work without machinery. Yet the worker
owns no macliincry and can get access to no machinery
except upon such terms as he may be able to make with
Socialists urge the people to consider the results of
this unprecedented situation. First, there is great in-
security of employment. No one knows how long his
job is destined to last. It may not last another day.
A great variety of causes exist, any one of which may
deprive the worker of his opportunity to work. Wall
Street gentlemen may put such a crimp in the financial
situation that industry cannot go on. Business may
slow down because more is being produced than the
markets can absorb. A greedy employer may precipi-
tate a strike by trying to reduce the wages of his em-
ployees. Any one of many causes may without notice
step in between the worker and the machinery without
which he cannot work.
But worse than the uncertainty of employment is the
absolute certainty that millions of men must always be
out of work. Times are never so good that there is
work for everybody. Most persons do not know it, but
in the best of times there are always a million men
out of work. In the worst of times, the number of men
out of work sometimes exceeds 5,000,000. The coun-
try cries for the things they might produce. There is
great need for shoes, flour, cloth, houses, furniture, and
fuel. These millions of men, if they could get in touch
with machinery, could produce enough of such staples
to satisfy the public demand. If they could but work,
their earnings would vastly increase the amount of
money in circulation and thus increase the buying power
of everybody. But they cannot work, because they do
not own the machinery without which they cannot work.
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 17
and the men who own it will not let it be used, because
they cannot see any profits for themselves in having it
Socialists say this is an appalling situation. They
are amazed that the nation tolerates it. They believe
the nation would not tolerate it if it understood it.
Some things are more easily understood than others. If
5,000,000 men were on a sinking ship within swimming
distance of the Atlantic shore and the employing class
were to prevent them from swimming ashore for no
other reason than that the employing class had no use
for their services — the people would understand that.
Socialists believe the people will soon understand the
Here is another thing that Socialists hope the people
will soon understand. The policy of permitting a few
men to use the machinery with which all other men
must work or starve compels all other men to become
competitors for its use. If there were no more workers
than the capitalists must have, there would not be such
competition. But there must always be more workers
than the capitalists can use. The fact that the capitalist
demands a profit upon the worker's labor renders the
worker incapable of buying back the very thing he has
made. Under present conditions, trade must, therefore,
always be smaller than the natural requirements of the
people for goods. And since, with machinery, each
worker can produce a vast volume of goods, it inevita-
bly follows that only a part of the workers are required
to make all of the goods that can be sold at a profit.
That is why there is not always work for all.
With more workers than there are jobs, it thus comes
about that the workers are compelled to compete among
themselves for jobs. Only part of the workers can be
i8 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
employed and the struggle of each is to become one of
that part. The workers who are out of employment are
always willing to work, if they can get no more, for a
wage that represents only the cost of the poorest living
upon which they will consent to exist. It therefore fol-
lows that wages are always based upon the cost of
living. If the cost of living is high, wages are high. If
the cost of living is low, wages are low. In any event,
the worker has nothing left after he has paid for his
Socialists say this is not just. They can understand
the capitalist who buys labor as he buys pig-iron, but
they say labor is entitled to more consideration than pig-
iron. The price of labor, they declare, should be gauged
by the value of labor's product, instead of by the direness
of labor's needs. They say the present situation gives
to the men w^ho own machinery most of its benefits and
to the many who operate it none of its hopes. Now, as
of old, the average worker dare hope for no more than
enough to keep him alive. Again and again and again
the census reports have shown that the bulk of the
people in this country are so poor that they do not own
even the roofs over their heads.
The purpose of Socialism is to give the workers all
they produce. And, when Socialists say "workers "
they do not mean only those who wear overalls and
; carry dinner pails. They mean everybody who does
I useful labor. Socialists regard the general superin-
tendent of a railroad as quite as much of a worker as
they do the man on the section. But tliey do not regard
the owners of railway stocks and bonds as workers.
They regard them as parasites who are living off the
products of labor by owning the locomotives, cars and
.other equipment with which the workers work. And,
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 19
since the ownership of machinery is the club with which
SociaHsts say capitaHsts commit their robberies, So-
ciaHsts also declare that the only way to stop the rob-
beries is to take away the club. It would do no good
to take the club from the men who now hold it and give
it even to the individual workers, because, with the
principle of private ownership retained, ownership would
soon gravitate into a few hands and robbery would go
on as ruthlessly as ever. Socialists believe the only
remedy is to destroy the club by vesting the ownership
of the great machinery of production and distribution
in the people, through the government.
Such is the gist of Socialism — public ownership of
the trusts, combined with public ownership of the gov-
ernment. Gentlemen who are opposed to Socialism —
for what reasons it is now unnecessary to consider —
lose no opportunity to spread the belief that there are
more kinds of Socialism than there are varieties of the
celebrated products of Mr. Heinz. This is not so.
There are more than 30,000,000 Socialists in the world.
Not one of them would refuse to write across this chap-
ter: "That is Socialism," and sign his name to it.
Every Socialist has his individual conception of how man-
kind would advance if poverty were eliminated, but all
Socialists agree that the heart and soul of their philos-
ophy lies in the public ownership, under democratic gov-
ernment, of the means of life. And, as compared with
this belief, all other beliefs of Socialism are minor and
inconsequential. Public ownership is the rock upon which
it is determined to stand or fall.
Socialists differ only with regard to the means by
which public ownership may be brought about. A'
handful of Socialists, for instance, believe that in order
to bring it about it is necessary to oppose the labor
20 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
unions. All other Socialists work hand in hand with
the labor unions.
Also, there is a difference of opinion among- So-
cialists as to how the p^overnment should proceed to
obtain ownership of the industrial trusts, the railroads,
telegraph, telephone and express companies and so
forth. Some Socialists are in favor of confiscating
them, on the theory that the people have a right to resort
to such drastic action. In a way, they have excellent
authority for their position. Read what Benjamin
Franklin said about property at the convention that was
called in 1776 to adopt a new constitution for Pennsyl-
" Suppose one of our Indian nations should now agree to form
a civil society. Each individual would bring into the stock of
the society little more property than his gun and his blanket, for at
present he has no other. We know that when one of them has at-
tempted to keep a few swine he has not been able to maintain a
property in them, his neighbors thinking they have a right to kill
and eat them whenever they want provisions, it being one of their
maxims that hunting is free for all. The accumulation of property
in such a society, and its security to individuals in every society,
must be an effect of the protection afforded to it by the joint strength
of the society in the execution of its laws.
" Private property is, therefore, a creature of society, and is sub-
ject to the calls of that society whenever its necessities require it,
even to the last farthing."
But one need quote only the law of self-preservation to
prove that if any people shall ever become convinced
that their lives depend upon the confiscation of the trusts
that such confiscation will be justified. When men
reach a certain stage of hunger and wretchedness they
pay scant attention to every law except the higher law
that says they have a right to live.
I believe that most vSocialists twenty years ago, were
in favor of confiscation. The trend now is all toward
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 21
compensation. Not that Socialists have changed their
minds at all about the equities of the matter. They have
not. But they are coming to see that compensation is
the easier and quicker way. Victor Berger, the first So-
cialist congressman, introduced in the House of Repre-
sentatives an anti-trust bill in which he proposed that
the government should buy all of the trusts that control
more than forty per cent, of the business in their re-
spective lines, and pay therefor their full cash values —
minus, of course, wind, water and all forms of specula-
tive inflation. In short the differences in the Socialist
party upon the question of compensation are not unlike
the differences which once existed with regard to the
best means by which the negroes might be emancipated.
Years before the Civil War, Henry Clay proposed that
the government should buy the negroes at double their
market price and set them free. He said this would be
the cheapest and quickest way of settling the troubles
between the North and the South. The slave owners
would not consent, and, eventually Lincoln freed their
slaves without paying for them.
When Socialists speak of buying the trusts, they nat-
urally invite the inquiry as to where they expect to get
the money to pay for them. They expect to get the
money out of the profits of the trusts. That is the way
that Representative Berger provided in his bill. It is
a poor trust that does not pay dividends upon stock and
interest upon bonds that do not aggregate at least ten
per cent, of the capital actually invested. Most of them
pay more, and some of the express companies occasion-
ally spring a fifty or a 100 per cent, dividend.
Tlie Socialist proposal is that the government pay for
the trusts with two-per cent, bonds, and that each year,
enough money be put into a sinking fund to retire the
22 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
bonds in not more than fifty years. The burden of pur-
chasing the trusts would thus he spread over a httle more
than two generations, but Sociahsts say the burden would
be a burden only in name, since the prices of trust goods
could be radically reduced, even while the trusts were
being paid for, and upon the retirement of the bonds, all
prices could be reduced to cost. '
Those who know little or nothing about Socialism be-
lieve that Socialists also differ as to the advisability of
using violence to bring about Socialism. Never was
there a greater mistake. Above all others, the Socialist
party is the party of peace. When Germany and Eng-
land, in 191 1, were ready to fly at each other's throats,
it was the Socialist party of Germany that assembled
200,000 men in Berlin one Sunday afternoon and de-
clared that if there were a war, the Socialists of Ger-
many would not help fight it. It was generally ad-
mitted, at the time, that the attitude of the German
Socialists, more than anything else, was responsible for
the avoidance of w^ar.
Socialists are equally pacific when considering the best
means by which Socialism may be brought about. So-
cialists are, first, last and all the time in favor only of
political action and trade-union action. Wherever there
is a free ballot, they believe in using it, to the exclusion
of bombs and bullets. Socialists realize that they can
w'in only by converting a majority of the people to their
belief. That is why they begin one campaign the next
morning after the closing of another. They are busy
with the printing press and their tongues all the while.
For them, there is no closed season.
Socialists realize that Socialism can be reared only
upon understanding, and that the use of dynamite would
turn the minds of the people against them for a hundred
WHAT SOCIALISM IS AND WHY IT IS 23
years. Any Socialist who believes otherwise is the same
sort of a potential criminal that can be found in any
other party — and equally as rare. The Republican
party had its Guiteau and its Czolgosz, but it repudiated
neither of them more quickly than the Socialist party
would repudiate one of its own members who should
commit a great crime.
Socialists, as a party, stand for violence only in the
same way that Abraham Lincoln stood for it. If the
Socialists should carry a national election in this coun-
try, and, the capitalists, refusing to yield, should turn
the regular army at them, the Socialists would use all
the violence they could muster. While they are in a
minority, they are obeying the laws that the capitalists
make, but when the Socialists become a majority, they
will insist, even with bullets, that the capitalists obey the
laws that the Socialists make.
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS AND THEIR GRAVE OBJECTIONS
IT is an old saying that the tree that bears the best
apples has the most clubs under it. Enough clubs
arc under the tree of Socialism to stock a wood-yard.
Some of the clubs bear the imprints of honest men.
Some do not. The great grafters of the present day
are the most persistent foes of Socialism. The great
grafters say, not only that Socialism is anti-religious,
but that it would destroy the family. The grafters also
say that Socialism stands for free love.
It may be amusing to hear a grafter oppose Socialism
on the ground that it is against religion. It may be
diverting to hear gentlemen with Reno reputations
charge that Socialism would establish free love and thus
destroy the family. But such charges cannot be dis-
missed by laughing at those who make them. Honest
men and women want to know the truth.
The truth is that there is no truth in the charge that
Socialism is against religion. Socialism is purely an
economic matter. It has no more to do with religion
than it has to do with astronomy. It is no more against
religion than it is against astronomy. Men of all re-
ligious denominations are Socialists, and men of no
religious denomination are Socialists. Nor is there any
reason why this should not be so. The very pith and
marrow of Socialism is the contention that the people,
through the government, should own and operate, for
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 2^
their exclusive benefit, the great machinery of produc-
tion and distribution that is now owned and operated by
the trusts. Either this contention is sound or it is not.
Whether it is sound or not, a man's reh'gious behefs can-
not possibly have anything to do with what he thinks of it.
But while Socialism is in no sense anti-religious, it is
in one sense pro-religious. So good an authority as the
Encyclopedia Britannica declares that " the ethics of So-
cialism and the ethics of Christianity are identical." One
of the concerns of Christianity is to establish justice upon
earth. The only concern of Socialism is to establish jus-
tice upon earth. Socialism seeks to establish justice by
giving each human being an equal opportunity to labor,
while depriving each human being of the power to appro-
priate any part of the product of another human being's
labor. If the Socialist program contains a word of
comfort for either grafters or loafers, neither the graft-
ers nor the loafers have found it.
Nor does the Socialist program contain a word of
comfort for the Reno gentlemen. Socialists beg leave
frankly to doubt the sincerity of certain wealthy men who
profess to believe that Socialism would destroy the fam-
ily by bringing about free love. Socialists say the best
proof that these men believe nothing of the kind is that
they do not make application to join the Socialist party.
The wives of some of them certainly make enough appli-
cations for divorce.
Addressing themselves to the members of the capitalist
class, Socialists therefore speak as follows:
"If the preservation of the family depends upon you,
God help the family. If the preservation of womanly
women depends upon you, God help the women. You
arc not all bad, but you are all doing bad. Some of you
are doing bad without knowing it; some of you are doing
26 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
bad tliongli knowing^ it. But, wlictlier you know it or
not, all of you are doing bad because your capitalist sys-
tem is bad. Your system makes those of you who would
do good do bad. It makes you fatten upon the labor of
children, because your competitors are fattening upon the
labor of children. It makes you fatten upon the labor of
women, because your competitors are fattening upon the
labor of women. It makes you fatten upon the labor of
men because your competitors are fattening upon the
labor of men. It makes you keep men, women and chil-
dren poor, because in no other way could you become
" And you are the ones who are so fearful lest Social-
ism shall destroy the home. Why do you not worry a
little lest the poverty caused by capitalism shall destroy
the home? Why are you so slightly stirred by the spec-
tacle of little children torn from their firesides and their
schools to work for starvation wages in factories and de-
partment stores? Why are you so well able to control
your grief when the census reports tell you that more than
5,000,000 women and girls have been compelled to become
wage-earners because their husbands and fathers receive
so little wages that they cannot support their families?
Why are you so well able to bear up when the white-
slave dealer gets the little girl from the department store?
" None of these facts, nor all of these facts seem to sug-
gest to you wealthy gentlemen who are opposing Social-
ism that the conditions under which you have become rich
are doing anything to disrupt the family or to bring about
free love. But you profess to be stunned to a stare when
Socialists present a program that is devoted to the single
purpose of preventing you, who do no useful labor, from
robbing those who do it all. If you have other grounds
for opposing Socialism, state them. But in the name of
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS ^y
common decency, don't come forward as the protectors of
women and children. Your hands are not clean."
Socialists contend that Socialism would do more to
purify, glorify and vivify the family than capitalism has
ever done or can do. Their reasoning takes this form :
Unless poverty is good for the family, capitalism is not
good for the family, because capitalism means poverty
or the fear of poverty for all hut a few and can never
mean anything else. Capitalism can never mean any-
thing else because capitalism is essentially parasitical in
its nature. It lives and can live only by preying upon
the working class.
If plenty for everybody, zvithout too much or too little
for anybody will purify, glorify and vivify the family,
Socialism will purify, glorify and vivify it. Socialism
will place all of the great machinery of modern production
in the hands of the people, to be used fully and freely for
nobody's advantage but their own.
Of course, the family cannot be improved without
changing it. Upon this obvious fact is based the whole
capitalist attack upon Socialism as a destroyer of the
home. Socialists believe that freedom from poverty
would have a profound effect upon domestic relationships.
And Socialist writers have tried to picture the world as it
will be when all of the hot hoops of want have been re-
moved from the compact little group that is called the
They have pictured woman standing firmly upon her
feet, with the ballot in one hand and the power under the
law to live from her labor with comfort and self-respect,
cither inside or outside of her home. But no Socialist
has ever pictured a world in which woman would be com-
pelled to work outside her home if she did not want to.
Such a picture is reserved for capitalism in the present
28 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
day. Socialists merely contend that Socialism would
make women economically independent, by guaranteeing'
to them the full value of their labor. No woman would
be compelled to marry to get a home. No woman who
had a home would be compelled by poverty to stay in it
if she were badly treated. For the sake of her children,
she might do so if she wished, but she could not be com-
pelled to do so. She would simply be free to act as her
judgment might dictate — to profit from a wise choice
or to suffer from an unwise one.
Briefly, such is the Socialist picture of the Socialist
world for women. No Socialist contends that it is a
picture of a perfect world. A perfect world could con-
tain neither fools, hotheads, nor vicious persons. The
hard conditions of the present world, and the harder
conditions of those long past have created too many
fools, hotheads and vicious persons to justify the hope
that all such persons can quickly be made wise, cool and
good. Socialists, with all their optimism, are not so op-
timistic as that. They have absolutely no program, pat-
ented or otherwise, for making people good.
Their only contention is that they have a program
under which people can be good if they want to. They
know, only too well, that with the coming of Socialism,
everybody will not suddenly want to be good. They ex-
pect to have to deal with the bad man and the bad woman.
But they do not expect to have to deal with so many
bad men and bad women as we now have to deal with.
They do not expect to have to deal with any men or
women who have been made bad by poverty or the fear
of poverty. They do not expect to have to deal with
women who have been forced into prostitution because
there seemed to be no other way to keep soul and body
together. Socialists say that if there are any prostitutes
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 29
under Socialism they will be women who deliberately
choose prostitution as a vocation. Perhaps women, bet-
ter than men, can judge how many such women there are
likely to be.
It is this picture of economically independent woman-
hood that is hailed by the wealthy detractors of Socialism
as the sign that the Socialists plan to destroy the home
and supplant it with free love. Socialists say that such
conclusions can be based only upon these assumptions :
That nothing but poverty keeps women from being
That if women were given the power to support them-
selves decently and comfortably outside of the home,
they would at once desert their children, their husbands
and " destroy the family."
Socialists believe women can safely be trusted with
enough money to live on. Yet the word " trust," as here
used, is not quite the word. Socialists do not believe it
is within their province either to trust or to distrust
women. Socialists believe economic independence is a
right that women should demand and get, rather than a
privilege tliat man should grant or deny, as he may see
fit. If women do well with economic independence, well
and good. If they do ill with it, still well and good. If
they have not yet learned to use economic independence,
they cannot begin learning too quickly, nor can they learn
except by trying to use it.
In any event. Socialists do not claim the right of
guardianship over women. They do not believe any
human being, regardless of sex, has a right to coerce
another when that other is not invading the rights of
some other. They believe that women to-day are being
coerced. Coerced by poverty. Coerced by fear of pov-
erty. Coerced by men who presume upon their own
30 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
economic independence and the economic dependence of
women. They cite, as proof of their behefs, the grow-
ing number of divorces, together with the fact that
women are the apphcants for most of the divorces.
And, the astounding circumstance about all of this is
that because Socialists hold these views, they are de-
nounced by rich grafters and their retainers as " destroy-
ers of the family," and " free-lovers."
The Socialists have said no more than Herbert
Spencer said about the folly of trying to promote happi-
ness with coercion. They say that weakness pitted
against strength and dependence against independence
invite coercion — no more in a family of nations than in a
family of individuals; that a woman whose economic de-
pendence prevents her from doing what all of her in-
stincts call upon her to do is coerced. Here is what
Herbert Spencer says in Social Statics (p. 76) :
" Command is a blight to the affections. Whatsoever of beauty —
whatsoever of poetry there is in the passion that unites the sexes,
withers up and dies in the cold atmosphere of authority. Native
as they are to such widely-separated regions of our nature, Love
and Coercion cannot possibly flourish together. Love is sympa-
thetic ; Coercion is callous. Love is gentle ; Coercion is harsh. Love
is self-sacrificing; Coercion is selfish. How then can they co-exist?
It is the property of the first to attract, while it is that of the last
to repel ; and, conflicting as they do, it is the constant tendency of
each to destroy the other. Let whoever thinks the two compatible
imagine himself acting the master over his betrothed. Docs he be-
lieve that he could do this without any injury to the subsisting re-
lationship? Does he not know rather that a bad effect would be
produced upon the feelings of both by the assumption of such an
attitude? And, confessing this as he must, is he superstitious enough
to suppose that the going through of a form of word will render
harmless that use of command which was previously hurtful ? "
Nobody ever called Spencer a " destroyer of the
home," or a "free-lover" for that. Yet, if Spencer
meant anything, he meant that coercion is primarily
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 31
wrong because it deprives the incHvidnal of the riglit to
be guided by his own judgment. Sociah'sts contend that
women have a right to be guided by their own judgment,
even if tliey make mistakes. Men do so. Women rebel
against the denial of their equal riglit. They rebel
against the coercion that is worked against them by their
inability to earn decent, comfortable livings outside of
their homes. Socialists say the family can never be
what it might be or what it should be so long as this war-
fare continues. Tiiey say that since the weak never
coerce the strong, there should be no economically weak
members of the community. Men and women should
both be economically independent. Each is likely to
treat the other better if they are so.
Francis G. Peabody, Professor of Christian Morals at
Harvard, has been as fortunate as Spencer in escaping
the charge of being a " destroyer of the family " and
a " free-lover." The professor is quoted in the press as
" One thing is certain, the family is rapidly becoming disorganized
and disintegrated. . . Divorces are being granted at an ever-
increasing rate. It may be computed that if the present ratio of
increase in population and in separation is maintained, the number
of separations of marriage by death would at the end of the twen->
tieth century be less than the number of separations by di-
vorce. . . .
" Owing to industrial life, the importance of the family is already
enormously lessened. Once every form of industry went on within
the family circle, but as the methods of the great industry arc sub-
stituted for work done in the home, the economic usefulness of the
family is practically outgrown."
Then, painting a picture of the world to come, as he
sees it, the professor said:
" Thus with the coming of the social state, family unity will be
for a higher end. The wife, being no longer doomed to household
32 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
driulgcry, will liavc tlic prcnter bicssinp of economic cr|iia1ity. Chil-
dren will be cared for by the comnuniity nnder healllifnl and uni-
form coiulitions, and we shall arrive at what has been called the
happy time when continuity of society no longer depends upon the
But what Professor Pcabody has said, or what Social-
ists have said with regard to the next step in the evohi-
tion of the family is a httle beside the point, and is men-
tioned so at length only because the detractors of Social-
ism make so much of it. The point is: Ought the world
if it can, to get rid of poverty, and will Socialism do it?
If Socialism will rid the world of poverty, ought we to
retain poverty to keep women good? Who knows that
economic independence would make women bad? The
grafters intimate that they know. But who believes the
grafters? The grafters say the present status of the
family is so good that we should be content to remain
poor in order to preserve it. Professor Peabody says
the present status of the family is so bad that it is falling
to pieces. The professor has proof of his statement in
every divorce court. The grafters have proof of their
statement in no court, nor anywhere else.
Besides, the testimony of the grafters is properly sub-
ject to suspicion. If Socialism would remove poverty it
would also remove the grafters. If Socialism would
not remove poverty or the grafters, but would
bring about free love, do you believe the grafters
would oppose it? Is it not more likely that the
grafters believe Socialism would remove both poverty
and themselves and that they are trying to throw
a scare into the people by howling about the
threatened destruction of the family? If not, why do
not the grafters themselves do something to stop their
own destruction of the family? A $ioo bill will make
more happiness in a home than a sermon against Social-
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 33
ism. Why don't they give up their dividends and let
the workers have what they produce? Why don't they
drum Professor Peabody out of Harvard? H the So-
ciaHsts are free-lovers, Professor Peabody is a free-
lover. Why don't they put him out? Is it because he
does not also advocatQ Socialism?
" Ah," say the grafters, " but the lives of Socialists do
not bear out their protestations of devotion to the family.
Look at the * affinities ' that some of them have had."
" Quite true," say the Socialists, " but one affinity does
not make a fire, nor do two make a forest. What if one
or two Socialists of more or less prominence have been
divorced? Are affinities and divorces unknown among
Democrats and Republicans? Is the percentage of di-
vorces greater in Socialist families than it is in Dem-
ocratic or Republican families? Where is your proof?
Wiiat have you got on Debs? What have you got on
Berger ? What have you got on Seidel, the former So-
cialist ]\Iayor of Milwaukee ? These men are in the lime-
light. If they should make a mismove, you would
blazon it. What do you know against them ? "
The foregoing pretty well sums up the situation, so far
as the free-love and destroying-the-family charges are
concerned. There is nothing in them. Socialists are
trying to eradicate poverty now. They have no other
immediate concern. If the eradication of poverty should
send the world to hell, the Socialists, if they can, will
send the world to hell. They do not believe anything
that can be kept only with poverty is worth keeping.
Tiieir observation has taught them that poverty is always
and everywhere a curse. They believe no other curse is
nearly so great except the curse of excessive riches.
Let us now pass to objections to Socialism that are both
pertinent and honest. It is the common belief of those
34 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
\vlio do not understand Socialism that, under a Socialist
form of government, the government would do every-
thing and tlie people could therefore do nothing; that
" everybody would be held down to a dead level," and
that as a consequence of the individual's inability to rise,
nobody would have an incentive to work.
Here are several kindred objections rolled into one.
Let us pick them to pieces and see what is in them.
Let it be conceded that under Socialism the government
would own and operate all of the great industries. What
of it ? The people would do precisely what they are do-
ing now, except that they would do it through the gov-
ernment for themselves, instead of through capitalists
for themselves and the capitalists. The people are now
engaged in useful labor. A small body of parasites are
appropriating much that the people produce. Under
Socialism, the parasites will have to go to work. The
people will simply continue to work, though under better
conditions and for a greater return than they now re-
Now, let us see just what is meant by " keeping every-
body upon a dead level." As the world stands to-day,
people differ chiefly as to wealth and to intellect. If one
person is not on a " dead level " with another it is because
he is more intelligent or more stupid than that other, or
because he is richer or poorer. Nobody, of course, be-
lieves that Socialism or anything else could put Edison
on a dead level with the boss of Tammany Hall. If So-
cialism is to establish a dead level, it must therefore be
by establishing equality as to wealth.
Capitalism has pretty nearly done that already. The
great bulk of the world is poor, living from hand to
mouth, worrying about the increased cost of living, and
going to the grave as empty-handed as when it came into
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 35
tlie world. Only a few have any money, beyond their
immediate needs, and as a rule that few is composed of
men who perform no useful labor. Here and there is a
man who combines a little useful labor with a great deal
of cogitation as to how he can appropriate something
that somebody else has produced. He may have enough
to cause him to mortgage his house to buy an automobile,
and to make a little pretence of affluence. But financially
he is a faker and he knows it. On the other hand, the
men who are not financial fakers are not workers. That
is to say, either they do no work that is useful to society,
or the work they do that is useful justifies but a small
part of their incomes.
To illustrate: The owner of a great industry devotes
his time to the management of that industry. So far as
his managerial activities pertain to the production and
distribution of his product, they are socially useful. So
far as they pertain to obtaining a profit for himself upon
that product they are not socially useful. The value o£
the socially useful part of his activities may be approxi-
mately measured by what he would pay another man for
managing the manufacturing and distributing end of his
business. The extent to which he is a parasite upon the
community may be approximately measured by the dif-
ference between his net income from the industry and the
sum he would pay another man to manage the manufac-
turing and distributing end of his business. A hired
manager might receive $5,000 a year. The capitalist
proprietor may receive $50,000 a year or he may receive
nothing — he is in a gambler's game and must take a
gambler's chances. If he receives $50,000 a year
$45,000 of it is because he owns the machinery. If he
did not own the machinery, he himself would be com-
pelled to hire out as a manager at $5,000 a year. In
36 THE TRUTH Ar.OUT SOCIALISM
other words, $45,000 a year is the price that the workers
pay the capitalist for the privilege of working with his
machinery. Socialists therefore contend that we are
already on a dead level of wealth, except as to the fact
that we have permitted a few who do little or no useful
labor to rise above those who do nothing else.
Socialists, however, are not opposed in principle to the
economic dead level, and they do not believe anybody else
is. If it were desirable that each human being should
have a billion dollars, and, by pressing a button, each
human being could have a billion dollars, Socialists do
not believe there would be an extended Alphonse and
Gaston performance over the ceremony of pressing the
button. Socialists are opposed only to a dead level that
is so nearly level with the hunger line. They want to
raise the level to the point where it will comfort, not
alone the stomach, but the heart and the brain.
Now, mind you. Socialists have no patented wage-
scales that they intend to force upon the people. If
Socialism stands for anything, it stands for the expres-
sion of popular will, and therefore it will be for the
people to say, when Socialism comes, whether the man-
ager of a railway system shall receive greater compensa-
tion than a train conductor on that system. I do not
fear contradiction when I say almost every Socialist be-
lieves extraordinary ability should be rewarded with
extraordinary compensation — not $10,000 a month for
the manager of a railway system that pays its conductors
$100 a month, but enough more than the conductor to
show that the manager's services are appreciated at
their worth. Socialists would also give garbage men
and sewer diggers extraordinary wages, on the theory
that their work is vitally necessary to everybody else and
extremely disagreeable to themselves.
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 37
But to satisfy those who want the dead level objection
analyzed to the bone, suppose everybody were to receive
equal compensation? Should we not have less injustice
in the world than we have now? Should we have any
suffering from hunger and cold? Should we have so
many crimes due to poverty? Should we have any
women forced into prostitution by poverty? Should we
have a single human being upon the face of the earth
haunted by the constant fear that he could not get work
and could not get food?
We have all of these evils now. Are they worth think-
ing about? Are they seri jus enough to justify us in try-
ing to be rid of them? Granted, for the sake of argu-
ment, that we cannot get rid of them without doing an
injustice to the railroad manager who would be paid no
more than a conductor — is it not better to do injustice
to an occasional person who would still be treated as well
as any of the others, than to compel all the others to
endure present conditions? If not, the "good of the
greatest num.ber " is a fallacy, and majority rule is a
But would anyone question either the right or the ex-
pediency of such action if the situation were reversed?
Suppose that the present system under which a few men
own almost everything had made almost everybody rich.
Suppose the few who were not rich — corresponding in
numbers to the present capitalist class — were to de-
mand that the rules of the game be so changed that they
could be made rich by making everyone else poor. Let
us suppose, even, that the few were to say that the
present system, while it worked satisfactorily for every-
body else, worked an injustice to them. Let us go
farther and say that the mere handful of objectors were
right in such contention. Would the 95 per cent, of the
38 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
people wlio were prospering under tlie system neverthe-
less voluntarily overturn it and impoverish themselves
merely that 5 per cent, might become wealthy ?
But tlierc is still another side to the " dead level " ob-
jection. Is not enough enough? Who but a glutton
wants more food than he should eat? Who but a fop
■wants more clothing than he needs to wear? Who but
a man who has been pampered with riches, or spoiled by
the envy that riches so often produce, wants more than a
comfortable, roomy, sanitary house in which to live?
Does the possession of more things than these make the
few who have them happier?
Socialists doubt it. If they did not doubt it, they
would still be against conditions that give such ad-
vantages to a few who are not socially useful while deny-
ing even ordinary comforts to everyone else. And,
right here, Socialists again ask these questions : " Even
if such luxuries be conceded as advantages, are we not
paying too great a price to give them to a few? Is it
well that so many should have no home in order that a
few should have many homes? And, if there is to be
any difference in homes, ought not the difference to be
in favor of those who are most useful instead of those
who are the most predatory ? "
Socialists contend that under Socialism, everybody
could not only have work all the time, but that everybody
could live as well as now does the man whose income is
$5,000 a year. They point to the fact that the man who
now spends $5,000 a year on his living, does not consume
the products of very much human labor. He has a com-
fortable house, but comfortable, sanitary houses are not
hard to build. Machinery makes almost all of the mate-
rials that go into them, and makes them cheaply. And
a house properly built lasts a lifetime.
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 39
The $5,ooo-a-year man and his family also eat some
food. But the flour is made with machinery at low cost,
as are also many other articles. The raw materials
come from the earth at the cost of human labor, but the
profits that are added to them by capitalists represent no
sort of labor.
So is it with clothing, furniture and everything else
that the $5,ooo-a-year man and his family consume.
Everything is made cheaply and rapidly with machinery.
The workers who make these things get little. The con-
sumer pays much. The difference between the cost of
making and the selling price is what eats up a large part
of the $5,000. Socialists believe that by cutting out all
of this difference and cutting out enforced idleness, ev-
erybody could live as well as the $5,ooo-man now lives.
This is only an approximation, of course.
Now we come to the question of rising. What chance
would a man have to rise under Socialism ?
Let us see, first, what is meant by rising. A man can
rise with his fellows or he can rise without them. I am
speaking now, of course, only of rising in the financial
scale. Habits of thought have been inculcated in us
which too often prevent us from thinking of rising in
any other way. When we think of bettering our con-
dition, we usually think in terms of money. We seldom
think in terms of greater leisure and greater freedom to
do the things that make life really worth while; knowing
^that rich men are u.sually the slaves of their money, we
nevertheless want to be slaves.
Socialism is not intended to help the man who wants
to rise financially above his fellows. It throws out no
bait to him. A few men will undoubtedly rise a little
above their fellows during the early stages of Socialism,
but they will not rise very much and there will not be
40 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
very many of them. Socialism is for all, not for a few.
It is devoted to the task of raising the financial standing
of everybody who does useful labor and lowering the
financial standing of everybody who does not. Socialists
say that if Socialism were otherwise, it would be no bet-
ter than the lottery which is provided by the capitalist
system. Socialists do not believe in the lottery princi-
ple. They have observed that the gentlemen who run
lotteries, rather than the ones who play them, wear the
diamonds. Nor does the fact that an occasional washer-
woman draws $22,000 with which she knows not what to
do, change their minds about the game.
See what a game it is that we are now playing. We
teach our small boys that this is a country of glorious
opportunities. In picturing the possibilities before them,
we know no bounds. We go even to the brink of the
ultimate and look over. Away in the distance, we
see the White House, and point to it. " There," we say
to our boys, " there is where you may some day be.
Each of you has a chance to be President. And, if you
should not be President, each of you has a chance to be a
Rockefeller or a Carnegie. Carnegie began as a bobbin
boy. Rockefeller began as a clerk in an oil store. If
you are honest and industrious, perhaps you can do as
Now, what are the facts? Not one of those boys has
much more chance of becoming the President than a
ring-tailed monkey has of becoming Caruso. It is not
that the boys are worthless — they may have in them
better timber than any past President ever contained.
But unless we shorten the Presidential term, and shorten
it a good deal, we cannot accommodate very many of
the lads with the use of the White House. During the
next eighty years, even if no President shall serve more
THE VIRTUOUS GRAFTERS 41
than one term, there can be no more than twenty Presi-
dents. During the same time — if we go on repeating
such fooHshness — perhaps a bilHon boys will be
solemnly assured that each of them has a chance to be
President, thougli, as a matter of fact, only twenty boys
can cash in on their chances.
Do we never consider how ridiculous we make our-
selves? Do we never fear the crushing question that
some bright boy some day will ask : " Dad, just how
much do you think twenty chances in a billion are
worth ? "
I mention this only to show at what an early age we
begin to hold out to our boys false hopes of the future.
I cannot attempt to explain the fact that no boy asks his
father why, in such a country of glorious possibilities as
this, he contents himself with driving a truck — but that
does not matter. The point is that we go on fooling the
boys until they are old enough to know better. They are
not very old when this time comes. The world teaches
them young. It is the exceptionally stupid young man
who does not know, at the age of twenty-five, that the
chances against him in playing for a Presidency, a Rock-
efellership, or a Carnegieship are infinitely greater than
would have been the chances against him, if he had lived
two generations earlier and played the Louisiana Lot-
tery. Beside such a prospect, the chance of winning a
fortune at the race track looks like a certainty. Yet we
drove the Louisiana Lottery from the country because it
was such a delusion that it amounted to a swindle, and
we are beginning to drive tlie race tracks out of the coun-
try for the same reason.
Socialists believe it would be belter not to promise so
much and to perform more. They believe it would be
better to promise each industrious man approximately
42 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
the present comfort-cciiiivalcnt of $5,000 a year and
give it to him, than to hold out to him tlic hope of great
riches and give him, instead, great poverty or great un-
easiness because of the fear of poverty.
The Sociahsts may be wrong in all of this, but they
cheerfully place the burden of proof that the world is
well upon those who make the claim that it is well.
They ask the capitalists to find more than the exceptional,
rare man who has realized more than a fraction of the
promises that were held out to him in his youth. For
every such man that the capitalists may produce, the
Socialists will undertake to find twenty men who are liv-
ing from hand to mouth, either in poverty or in the fear
Such is the Socialist position with regard to " rising "
in the world. So far as Socialists are able to discover,
all of the rising that most persons do is done in the early
morning — about an hour before the 7 o'clock whistle
" Early to bed and early to rise " is not in violation of
the Socialist constitution, but Socialists respectfully con-
tend that the rising should be made worth while. And,
they also contend that if the people must be promised
something to make them rise, it is better, in the long run,
to promise something and give it to them than to promise
more and not give it to them. The best that can be said
for the latter plan is that it has been a long time tried
and until recently has worked satisfactorily for those
who made the promises they failed to keep.
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT
RICH men tell poor men to beware of Socialism
because Socialists preach discontent. Rich men
also tell poor men to beware of Socialism because
Socialists " preach the class struggle," and try to " array-
class against class," politically.
It is all true. Socialists do these things. They make
no bones about doing them. They say they would feel
ashamed of themselves if they did not do them. If they
had a thousand times the power they have, they would do
these things a thousand times harder than they do. Just
so rapidly as they gain power, they are doing these things
What is it that they do ? Let us see.
Socialists preach discontent. Discontent with what?
Discontent with home? Discontent with children? Dis-
content with friends? Discontent with honest labor?
Discontent with ambition? Discontent with life as a
whole? ^\'hy, nothing of the kind.
Socialists preach discontent only zvith poverty that is
made by robbery, and the ills that follow in its wake.
The Hon. Charles Russell, of England, said in 1912
that 12,000,000 of England's 45,000.000 population
were on the verge of starvation — shall we be satisfied
A recent investigation into the causes of tiie shockingly
high rate of infant mortality in Germany* shows that
** the children of poverty hunger before they are born.
♦"The Proletarian Child," by Alliert Laiigun, published in Berlin.
44 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
They come into the world ill-developed, weaker than the
children of plent3% and with such low resistant powers
that infant mortality rages in their ranks like an epi-
demic." Shall we be satisfied with that?
Here in the United States millions of men cannot get
work, while millions of men, women and children are
compelled to work for starvation wages. Shall we be
satisfied with that?
The census reports show that most people do not own
the roofs over their heads, having nothing but the
clothes upon their backs and their meager furniture.
Shall we be satisfied with that?
We are creating wealth rapidly, but what we make is
concentrating into so few hands that a few men hold us
as in the hollow of their hands, telling us whether we
may work, telling us what wages we shall receive if we
work, telling us how much we shall pay for meat, sugar,
lumber, clothing, salt and steel. Shall we be satisfied
The Stanley Steel Committee's investigations showed
that, by a system of interlocking directorates, eighteen
men control thirty-five billions of industrial property —
a third of the entire national wealth. Shall we be sat-
isfied with that?
In times of industrial depression more than 5,000,000
men who want to work are refused the right to do so,
because the few men who control everything cannot see
a profit for themselves in letting 5,000,000 men work to
support themselves. Shall we be satisfied with that?
The cost of living, mounting higher and higher, is
crowding an increasing number of unorganized workers
into the bottomless pit in which men, women and children
sufifer the tortures of hell. Shall we be satisfied with
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 45
Mr. ]\Iorgan, with the tremendous money-power that
is behind him, is a greater power in this country than the
President of the Lnited States, or the Congress of the
United States. Shall we be satisfied with that?
Some gentlemen are satisfied with these facts, but
Socialists are not. They are preaching discontent.
Should we not be worthy of your scorn and contempt if
we did not preach discontent? If such discontent is
wrong, contentment with the facts against which Social-
ists cry out must be right. Who has both the candor
and the effrontery to say that contentment with such
facts is right ? Should we be contented with the woolen-
mill owners of New England who, fattening upon high
Republican tariffs, starve men, women and little children
with low wages? Should we be contented with the cot-
ton-mill owners of the South, who, under the protection
of Democratic state administrations, fill both their mills
and the graveyards with little children? Should we be
contented with a world in which a few own everything
and the rest do everything — a world in which the
worker is but a fleeing fugitive from inevitable fate, own-
ing neither his job, nor the roof over his head?
The cry of this wronged worker has come down
through the ages, but never was his hold upon the means
of life so slight as it is to-day.
"Every creature has a home —
But thou, oh workingman, hast none."
So Shelley sang before machinery came. And, oh, the
truth of it — the truth of it still! And the pity of it I
In these days the inexcusability of it! Yet when we So-
cialists cry out against it — when wc try to awaken the
workingman to a realization that a new world was born
when the steam engine was born, and that this new world
46 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
may be and should be for him — we are rebuked by the
capitahsts because we are " preaching discontent."
Of course we are preaching discontent. We are going
to preach it, if present conditions persist, so long as we
have breath with which to preach. We respectfully de-
cline to permit capitalists, as such, to tell us what we may
or may not preach. We preach what we please without'
their leave. They preach what they please without our
leave. At intervals, they preach a good deal, tlirough
some of the magazines, about religion. Big cap-
ital is behind the " Men and Religion Forward " move-
ment, and some other similar movements. These gentle-
men who are living in luxury off what they take from us
tell us to take religion from them in the magazines and
be happy. " In the sweet by and by " we are to get our
own, while they get their own now. Socialists are wil-
ling to stand in on all of the sweet by and by they can get
by and by, but they are also determined to made a pro-
digious fight for the sweet here and now.
Socialists regard poverty, in this day, as nothing less
than a scandal. Before the age of machinery there was
reason for some poverty. Now there is none. We can
make all the wealth we need and more. We could cut
our work-day in two and still make all we need. Yet
poverty is scourging the world as wars never scourged it.
In Germany, England, the United States — wherever
capitalism has reached a high state of development —
men, women and children are pursued to the grave by
poverty or the fear of poverty.
Some gentlemen believe this is all right. They believe
this is as it should be. With such gentlemen Socialists
do not hope to make headway. With such gentlemen
Socialists do not seek to make headway. They belong
to the rich class who are grafting off the working class.
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 47
From them Socialists expect no quarter, nor will they
give any. The conflict must go to a finish. There will
be no surrender upon the part of the Socialists. The So-
cialist party will never fuse with any of their parties. If
the Socialist party were standing still, instead of going
ahead, it would stand still alone for a thousand year«
before it would go a foot with any capitalist party.
IMake no mistake. This is all true. You saw the!
Greenback party wither and blow away. You saw the
Populist party swallowed by the Democratic party. But
you will never see the Socialist party wither, nor will you
ever see it swallowed. Its members are not composed
of material that withers or fuses. Right or wrong, they
are actuated by the highest ideal that can move a human
being — the ideal of human justice. And they are going
down the line on their ideal, regardless of the length of
the line or of the obstructions that may be placed in their
way. After a man has seen Socialism, he can never
thereafter defend capitalism. That is to say, he cannot
if he is honest. Two or three out of a million are not.
Such persons, not infrequently, are hired by capitalists
to " expose " Socialism.
But while Socialists do not hope to make any progress
among the rich, they do hope to make progress among
the working class. Again, I must explain that Socialists
do not consider the working class to be exclusively com-
posed of those who wear overalls. Socialists include in
the working class all of those who do useful labor. It
matters not whether such labor be done by the digger in
the ditch or by the general superintendent of a railroad.
Socialists place all of those who do useful labor in the
working class. Workers are creators of wealth. Cre-
ators of wealth differ from capitalists in this: workers
make; capitalists take. Cajiitalists arc profit-scckcrs.
48 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
The small merchant takes a profit, but it is not the kind
of a profit that the big cai)italist takes. The small mer-
chant's profit represents only his labor, and is, therefore,
really wages. The big capitalist's profits represent no
sort of labor. It is such profits that set capitalists and
workers at war, because the profits come out of the work-
ers. Socialists call this war the class struggle.
Socialists are opposed to class war. Socialists believe
there should be no classes. There would be no classes
if everybody worked at useful labor and took no more
than belonged to him. But if some men will not work
at useful labor, choosing, instead, to make war upon
those who are working, who is to blame? Certainly not
the workers. They are trying to get nothing that be-
longs to anyone else. They have never yet been able to
keep what belonged to them.
Socialists recognize these facts. They say a class
struggle is in progress. Anybody who denies their state-
ment must necessarily know nothing of the existence of
trusts, labor unions, courts, lobbyists, crooked legisla-
tors, millionaires, paupers, overworked workers, or men
who are underworked because they can get no work.
Anyone who recognizes the existence of these things can-
not well deny either the existence of classes or the exist-
ence of a struggle. The dead of this warfare are upon
every industrial battlefield, where the fierce desire for
profits sends workers to their doom for lack of the safe-
guards that would have saved their lives. The wounded
are in every poverty-stricken home.
Either these statements are true or they are not. If
they are true, is it wiser to recognize their truth, or,
ostrich-like, to stick our heads in the sand and deny both
the existence of classes and the class struggle? Socialists
.WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 49
believe it is wiser to recognize the existence of the facts.
They deplore the existence of the class struggle, but they
can see only harm in closing our eyes to it. If their con-
tention is correct a small body of capitalists are robbing
the great working class. If the working class has not
found out who is robbing it it cannot find out too quickly.
Nor can the working class find out too quickly the meth-
ods by which it is being robbed.
It is the advocacy of these ideas that has caused the
Socialists to be censured by the rich for trying to " array
class against class." If one class is being robbed by
another ought not the class that is being robbed to be
politically arrayed against the class that is robbing it?
Do we not array those whose houses are broken into by
burglars against the burglars? Is not the existence of
police forces sufficient proof that we do? If capitalists,
working through laws they have made, are robbing the
workers of thousands, where burglars take cents, why
should not the workers be politically arrayed against the
capitalists even more solidly than they are arrayed
The workers, either singly or collectively, as in their
unions, are already arrayed against the capitalists, so far
as fighting for more wages is concerned. Without any
help from Socialists, we thus have here class arrayed
against class. Socialists seek only to extend this conflict
to the ballot-box. They ask the worker to remember
when he votes as well as when he strikes that he belongs
to the working class. They point out to him that he is
robbed under the forms of law and that the robbery can-
not be stopped until the operations of capitalist laws are
stopped. The operations of capitalist laws cannot be
stopped until working men stop them. Working men
[50 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
can stop tliem only by uniting at the ballot-box and wrest-
ing from the capitalist class the control of the govern-
In this Avay only do Socialists try to " array class
against class." They do not try to array men against
men. They do not try to engender hatred of Mr. Mor-
gan, Mr, Rockefeller, or any other great capitalist.
Socialists have nothing against any rich man individually.
They regard all great capitalists as the natural and inev-
itable products of the capitalist system. If the great
capitalists are sometimes bad, it is because the capitalist
system makes them bad. If the particular capitalists
who are bad had never been born, the capitalist system
would have made others do the same bad acts. There-
fore Socialists are opposed to the system that makes man
bad rather than to the men who have been made bad by
the system. If every capitalist in the world had gone
down with the Titanic, Socialists would have expected
absolutely no improvement in conditions, because the
capitalist system would still have remained. Other men
would simply have taken their places, and the wrongs
w^ould have gone on. Therefore, Socialists leave it to
Democratic and Republican politicians to point out " bad
men " and say if this man or that man were in jail we
should have no more robbery. The slightest reflection
should reveal the fallacious character of such comment.
Where are all of the " bad men " of the last two genera-
tions? Where are William H. Vanderbilt, Jay Gould,
E. H. Harriman and the others? They are not simply
in jail — they are dead. But who noticed the slightest
abatement of robbery when they died? Who will note
the slightest improvement of conditions when the " bad
men" of the present day are dead? Then how ridicu-
lous it is to say that if Mr. Morgan, Mr. Rockefeller
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 51
and some others were in jail we should have no more
robbery. So long as we have a system that makes men
bad we shall have bad men.
Let us now inquire what it is about the capitalist sys-
tem that makes men bad. We shall not have far to
look. It is the private ownership and control, for the
sake of private profits, of the means of life. Think how
gigantic is this power! All of our food, clothing and
shelter is made with machinery. A few own the ma-
chinery. The others cannot use it without permission.
And, if permission be given, it can be used only upon such
terms as the owners offer. Those terms are always the
lowest wages for which anybody can be found to work.
Is it any wonder that the few who control this ma-
chinery go mad with the desire to accumulate wealth?
Is it any wonder that they press their advantage to the
limit? Are you sure you would have done less if you
had been placed in the same circumstances? I am not
sure I should have done less. In fact, I am quite sure I
should have done as much, or more, if I could. I say
this because I take into account the tremendous power of
habit and environment.
An environment of money makes those whom it sur-
rounds forget men. The Titanic was not raced through
icebergs to her doom because her owners were indifferent
to the loss of human life. The Titanic was raced
to her doom because her owners forgot human life.
They thought only of the money that would come from
the advertisement of a quick trip across the Atlantic. If
they had not been made mad by this thought they would
at least have remembered their ship, with its cost of
$8,000,000. But in their money-madness they forgot
not only their passengers, but their own ship. Yet, if
the manager of the company had been sailing the ship for
'52 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
the government, witliout thought of profit, he would have
thought of the passengers, the crew, the ship and the ice-
bergs. And if the trusts were owned by the government,
the men in charge of them would think of the workers
when they fixed wages and of the consumers when they
fixed the prices of finished products.
So easy is it to dispose of the argument that Socialism
is impracticable because it could not be made to work
" without changing human nature." Some men believe
we must forever go on grabbing, grabbing, grabbing,
while others go on starving, starving, starving. Human
nature will " change " just so rapidly as conditions are
changed. If one sits on a red-hot stove, it is " human
nature " to arise. But if the stove be permitted to cool,
one who sits on it will not arise until other reasons than
heat have made him wish to do so. Yet, the human
nature of the man in each case is the same. It has in no
wise changed. It is only the stove that has changed.
Precisely so will the actions of men change when the
production of the necessities of life by the government
has demonstrated that no one need ever fear the lack of
the means with which to live. The very knowledge that
the stomach is taken for granted — that with free oppor-
tunity to labor, the material necessities and comforts of
life are as assured as the air itself — will destroy the in-
centive to accumulate more wealth than is needed. Even
the richest now consume and waste but a fraction of the
w^ealth they possess. Yet they are spurred on to seek
still further accumulations, because it is only so recently,
comparatively, that the whole race was fighting for the
means of life, that the madness for money is still in the
The madness for money will not always be in the air.
Human nature is wonderfully adaptive. As soon as thQ
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 53
workers take control of the government for the benefit
of their class, and demonstrate the perfect ease with
which enough weahh can be produced to enable every-
body to live as well as the $5,000 a year man now lives,
the scramble for wealth will quickly subside. It will
not subside instantly, but it will subside. A few may
grumble, as their industries are bought and taken over
by the government, but they will have to take it out
in grumbling. They will not even have to work if they
don't want to. They will have enough money obtained
from the sale of their plants to enable them to live
without working. But none of their successors will ever
be able to live without working, because no opportunity
will exist for anyone to obtain the products of another's
labor. Goods will be made and sold by the government
at cost. No capitalist will stand between producers and
consumers. The people will be their own capitalists,
owning their own industrial machinery and managing it
through the government.
Those who are opposed to Socialism ask what as-
surance we have that, under Socialism, the people would
be able to manage their government. Others ask why
we should not be as likely to have grafters in office under
Socialist government as we are now under Democratic
or Republican government? Still others believe that a
Socialist government would inevitably become tyrannical
and despotic, destroying all individual liberty and eventu-
ally bringing down civilization in a heap.
Let us answer these objections one by one. And let
us first inquire why the people are not now able to man-
age and control their government.
In the first place, our form of government does not
permit the people to control it. The rich men who made
our constitution — and they were rich for their day; not
54 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
a working man among them — purposely made a consti-
tution under which nothing could be done to which the
rich might object. That is why the United States sen-
ate was created. It was frankly declared in the consti-
tutional convention that the senate was intended to rep-
resent wealth. The house of representatives was to
represent the people, but the senate was to represent
wealth, and the house of representatives could enact no
legislation without the consent of the senate. Moreover,
the United States supreme court, over which the people
have absolutely no control, was created to construe the
laws made by congress.
That is the first reason why the people do not now con-
trol their government — the framers of the constitution
did not intend that they should control it, and the rich
men of our day are taking advantage of their oppor-
tunity to control it themselves. The second reason is
that the capitalist system, based, as it is, upon private
profits, makes it highly profitable for the capitalist class
to control the government. The robberies of capitalism
are committed through laws, and control of the govern-
ment is necessary to obtain and maintain the laws.
Socialists would abolish the senate, thus vesting the
entire legislative power in the house of representatives.
They would take from the President the power to ap-
point justices of the supreme court, and give the people
the right to elect all judges. They would take from the
United States supreme court the usurped power to de-
clare acts of congress unconstitutional, and give to the
people the power to say what acts of congress should
be set aside. They would make the constitution of the
United States amendable by majority vote, and they
would make every public official in the country, from
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 55
President down, subject to immediate recall at any time,
by the vote of the people.
Socialists respectfully offer these reasons, among
others, for believing that under Socialism, the people
would be able to control their government. Another
reason is that, under Socialism, there would be no trust
senators or representatives, no representatives of great
private banking interests or other aggregations pf pri-
vate capital, because there would be no such private in-
The reasons are equally plain why, under Socialism,
we should not be as certain to have Socialist grafters
in office as we are now to have Democratic and Repub-
lican grafters. But not one of these reasons is that
Socialists believe themselves to be more nearly honest
than anyone else. Socialists have no such delusion.
Socialists simply point to the fact that all of the present
grafting is to secure private profits. When the profit
system is abolished, and goods are made for use instead
of for profit, nothing will be left to graft for. Public
officials could still steal, of course; they could falsify
pay-rolls, and probably in many other ways rob the peo-
ple. But, in the first place, public officials now do little
of this sort of clumsy stealing, and, in the second place,
whatever stealing of this sort that may be done under
Socialism will be punished in precisely the same way
that it now is, except more vigorously. Moreover, So-
cialists do not believe there will be much such stealing,
or that it will long continue. And so far as grafting is
concerned, when the private profit system that makes
grafting is abolished, grafting will be abolished along
Let us now examine the charge that a Socialist gov-
56 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
ernmcnt would become tyrannical, despotic, destroy in-
dividual liberty, and thus destroy civilization itself.
With all legislative power vested in the house of rep-
resentatives which is elected by the people, all judges
elected by the people and the United States supreme
court shorn of its usurped power to declare laws uncon-
stitutional, it is difficult to see how the government could
become tyrannical. It is still more difficult when it is
considered that, under the Socialist government, the peo-
ple would have these additional powers :
The power to recall, at any time, any official.
The power to enact, by direct vote, any laws that their
legislative bodies might refuse to enact.
The power, by direct vote, to repeal any law that their
legislative bodies had enacted.
And the power, by direct vote, to amend their con-
stitutions, both federal and state, any time they wished
to do so.
If there could be any tyranny or despotism under such
a form of government, gentlemen who profess to be-
lieve so are entitled to make the most of it.
Many good persons believe, however, that if Socialism
were to come, all individual liberty would be lost. Such
persons lack, not only a knowledge of Socialist plans,
but a sense of humor. They assume that we now have
individual liberty. They do not seem to realize that the
average boy, as soon as he is old enough to work, if notj
before, is grabbed off by necessity and chucked into the
nearest job at hand. The boy may have preferred to
work at something else; perhaps even he is better fitted
for something else. But the pinch of necessity both com-
pels him to work and to take what he can find. He may
rattle around in two or three occupations before he finds
one in which he stays for life, but the other occupations,
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 57
like the first one, are not of his choosing. He takes
each of them simply because he must have work.
If Sociahsm would enable the head of every family
to earn as good a living as the $5,ooo-a-year man now
gets, the head of no family would be compelled to send
his children out to work until they had completed, at
least, the high school course. If boys were not com-
pelled to go to work so young, does it not seem likely
that, with added years, they would be better able to
choose an occupation that would be more nearly suited
both to their tastes and their abilities? And if we should
destroy the power of poverty to push boys into the oc-
cupation nearest to them, should we be justly subject
to the charge that we had destroyed, or even impaired,
the boys' individual liberty?
Persons who derive their knowledge of Socialism from
capitalist sources have strange, and sometimes awful,
ideas of what Socialism is setting out to do. They are
told, and many of them believe, that under Socialism,
the individual would be a mere puppet in the hands of
the government, not arising in the morning until the
ringing of the governmental alarm clock, doing during
the day whatever odd jobs might be assigned to him by
a governmental boss, and going to bed at night when
the boss told him to.
Suppose we shake up this trash and let the wind blow
Who would thus tyrannize over the people? "The
Socialists," it is answered. But who, at that time, will
the Socialists be? They will constitute at least a major-
ity of the people, will they not? The Socialists will
never gain control of the government until they become
a majority — the Milwaukee coalitii-»n plan of the old
capitalist parties can be depended upon to prevent that.
(58 .THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Then what you are asked to behevc is that a majority of
the people will deliberately go about it to create and
afterwards maintain a form of government and industry
under which the majority as well as the minority will be
Remember this : Socialism will never do anything that
at least a majority of the people do not want done.
This is not a promise, it is fact. A Socialist adminis-
tration could do nothing to which a majority of the peo-
ple objected. If such an act were attempted, the ma-
jority would instantly recall the administration, wipe out
its laws, and assert its own will.
And, also, remember this: If the Socialists, after the
next election, were to control every department of the
government there would be no upheaval, no paralysis of
industry. Everybody would go to work the next morn-
ing at his accustomed task. The business of socializing
industry would proceed in an orderly, deliberate man-
ner. One industry at a time would be taken over. Per-
haps the railroads would be taken over first. A year
might be required to take them over. But not a wheel
would stop turning while the laws were being changed.
Gentlemen who talk about the blotting out of individ-
ual liberty under a Socialist government make this fatal
mistake. They assume that a minority would control
a Socialist government, precisely as a minority now con-
trols this government. And having made this error
they naturally easily proceed to the next error — the as-
sumption that if Socialists were to establish such a crazy
government, they would not suffer from it as much as
anyone else, and, therefore, would maintain it against
the will of the others.
There is absolutely no foundation for this " tyranny-
lo§s-of-individual-libert^ " charge. A government con-
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 59
trolled by the people cannot tyrannize over the people,
nor can the abolition of poverty curtail, under democratic
government, the individual liberties of the people. Who
now has the most individual liberty — the man who is
poverty-stricken or the man who isn't ?
Yet Socialists make no pretense of a purpose lo create
^a world in which the worker may blithely amble up to
,the governmental employment office and demand a job
picking a guitar. The worker may amble and demand^
but he will not get the job unless there is a guitar to
pick. In other words, Socialists expect to exercise or-
dinary common sense in the conduct of industry.
Broadly speaking, the man who is best fitted to do cer-
tain work will be given that work to do. It would be
absurd to plan or promise anything else. At the same
time, the destruction of poverty, and the multiplication
of the mass of manufactured goods that will follow the
satisfaction of all of the people's needs, will give the
workers greater freedom in exercising their discretion ia
the choice of an occupation.
At this point in the proceedings som.ebody always in-
quires, " Who will do the dirty work? "
Socialists do not expect ever to make the cleaning of
sewers as pleasant as the packing of geraniums. They
do expect, however, to offer such extraordinarily
good compensation for this extraordinarily unpleasant
work that the sewers will be cleaned. Why should any-
one expect that plan to fail, since the present plan does
not fail? We now offer very poor wages for this very
unpleasant work, yet the sewers do not go uncleaned.
Is it to be supposed that the same men who are now doing
this dirty work for low wages would refuse to do it for
higli wages? Most certainly the government would be
compelled to offer wages high enough to get the dirty,
6o THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
but important, work done. It is lack of work that now
makes men take dirty work at dirty wages. Under So-
cialism there can be no lack of work, because the people
.will own their own industrial machinery and will be free
to use it. Furthermore, machinery is now doing much
of the dirty work, and, as time goes on, will do more
Socialists are often asked what they will do with the
man who will not work. If facetiously inclined, they
usually reply that one thing they will certainly not do
with him is to make him a millionaire. But, really, the
question is absurd. What do the opponents of Social-
ism believe a Socialist government would do with the
man who would not work ? Do they believe such a man
would be given a hero medal, or be pensioned for life?
What is there to do with such a man, but to let him
starve? I mean a man having the ability to work and
having work offered to him, who would nevertheless re-
fuse to work.
But, outside the ranks of criminals, there is no such
man, nor will there ever be. Socialists would punish
thieves precisely as capitalists punish them, except for
the fact that Socialists would not discriminate in favor
of the biggest thieves. To answer the question in a
single sentence. Socialists would depend upon the spurs
afforded by the desires for food, clothing and shelter,
to keep most of the people at work, and the odd man
who might choose to steal would be treated in the or-
dinary way — imprisoned.
But the question, " What will you do with the man
who will not work? " reveals a strange belief that is held
by those who do not hold much of a clutch upon the
facts of life. I have a very dear old aunt who believes
from the bottom of her honest heart that tlie great mass
WHY SOCIALISTS PREACH DISCONTENT 6li
of unemployed are either drunkards or loafers. In dis-
cussing the problem of the unemployed with gentlemen
who are living upon the sunny side of the street, they
almost invariably fire this question, " Why don't those
fellows get out into the country where the farmers are
crying for help and can't get any? "
I was brought up on a farm, and I still remember that
not much farming was done in winter. The great de-
mand for extra help comes in mid-summer, when the
crops are harvested. During six or eight weeks there
is a demand from the farms for more help than they can
get. But what man who has a family in the tenements
of New York or Chicago can afford to pay his railroad
fare to Iowa, Nebraska, or even Ohio, to get six weeks'
In the first place, they have not the money with which
to pay their fare. These men live from hand to mouth
in the city, running in debt during the week, and paying
their debt with the wages they receive Saturday night.
If their fares were advanced by the farmers who wanted
to hire them they would have little or nothing left from
what they might earn on the farms, and, in the mean-
time, their families in the cities would be starving.
Furthermore, farm-work is a trade of which these city
workers know nothing. They could learn the trade of
farming, of course, but they could not learn it in six
weeks. At any rate, in panic times there are more than
5,000,000 out of work in this country, and in no con-
ceivable circumstances is it possible that any considerable
part of this number could find work upon the farms even
six weeks of the year.
The fact is that the conditions of modern industrial
life are so hard that an increasing number of unorgan-
ized workers are barely able to live, even when they
62 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
work. The constantly increasing cost of living, brought
about by the trusts through their control of markets and
prices, robs these men to the limit, and they have no
labor unions to increase their wages. Still, they do not
refuse to work, even for a bare, miserable living. On
the contrary, they are eager to work. So are the great
bulk of the unemployed eager to work for a miserable
If, under these horrible conditions, men are willing to
work, what reason have we to suppose that any great
number would refuse to work under a Socialist govern-
ment for compensation that would enable each of them
to live as well as tlie $5,ooo-a-year man now lives? Gen-
tlemen who want to worry about this may worry about
it. Socialists are not worrying. If, under Socialism, a
few dyed-in-the-wool loafers should appear, Socialists
are prepared to deal with them. They do not propose to
cease their attempts to rid the world of poverty, merely
because of the possibility of the appearance of an occa-
HOW THE PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS
MOST men are not interested in private profits, be-
cause they don't get any. Profits are only for
capitalists, and the number of capitalists bears but an
insignificant proportion to the whole number of people.
Most men are wage- workers, of one sort or another, or
Yet we are living under a system that makes private
profits the basis of business. If profits are good, busi-
ness is good. If profits are only fair, business is only
fair. If profits are bad, business is bad. And, when
business is bad, the whole country suffers, though the
country has the men, the machinery and the land with
which business might be made good.
Socialists liken the present business edifice to an in-
verted pyramid resting upon its point — the point of
private profits. Socialists have observed that the steadi-
est pyramids do not rest upon their points. They do
not believe the pyramids of Egypt would have stood as
long as they have if they had not been right side up.
Socialists therefore propose that the pyramid of busi-
ness shall be turned right side up. They believe it would
stand more nearly steady if placed upon the broad basis
of the people's needs than it now does upon the pivot-
point of private profits.
That is all that Socialists mean when they talk about
the "revolutionary" character of their philosophy.
l^liey want to make a revolutionary change in the basis
'64 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
of business. They want goods produced solely to sat-
isfy the public need for goods, rather than to satisfy any
man's greed for profits. They do not see how business
can be thus -revolutionized, so long as a few men own all
of the great machinery with which goods are produced.
Socialists, therefore, propose that the ownership of all
the great machinery shall be acquired by the people, by
purchase, and thus transferred from a few to all.
Those who are not in favor of this program may be
divided into two classes. One class, desiring to cling
to tlie private profit system, is opposed, upon principle,
to the Socialist program. The other class, while eager
enough, perhaps, to be rid of present conditions, does
not believe the Socialist plan is practicable. The reason
why so many men believe the Socialist plan is imprac-
tical is because so many men do not know what the So-
cialist plan is. The newspapers, owned as they are by
capitalists, do not take the pains to tell the people much
about the plans of Socialism. Even so great a trust
lawyer as Samuel Untermyer of New York, apparently
did not know much about the plans of Socialism until
he debated Socialism in Carnegie Hall with Morris Hill-
quit. Mr. Untermyer, in his opening statement, made
the colossal mistake of declaring that the Socialists had
no definite plan for transferring the industries of the
country from private to public ownership; that no one
knew whether they meant to take over all industries, or
whether they meant to take over only the trusts, while
leaving the small concerns that are now fighting the
trusts to compete with the government. In short, Mr.
Untermyer left the impression that in the matter of put-
ting their program into practice the Socialists were whirl-
ing around in a fog.
Let us see who was whirlins" around in a fog.
PEOPLE MAY. ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 65
Victor L. Berger, the Socialist congressman from Mil-
waukee, introduced in the House of Representatives a
bill embodying the following features:
The government shall immediately proceed to take
over the ownership of all the trusts that control more
than 40 per cent, of the business in their respective
The price to be paid for these industries shall be
fixed by a commission of fifteen experts, whose duty
it shall be to determine the actual cash value of the
Payment for the properties shall be proffered in the
form of United States bonds, bearing 2 per cent, in-
terest payable in 50 years, and a sinking fund shall
be established to retire the bonds at maturity.
In the event of the refusal of any trust owner or
owners to sell to the government his or their proper-
ties at the price fixed by the commission of experts,
the President of the United States is authorized to
use such measures as may be necessary to gain and
hold possession of the properties.
A Bureau of Industries is hereby created within
the Department of Commerce and Labor to operate
all industries owned by the government.
Mind you, tills is but the barest skeleton of the Berger
bill. The bill itself may have no sense in it. But that
is not the point. Samuel Untermyer, great trust-lawyer
and presumably well-read man, said that the Socialists
had no definite plan for taking over the industries of the
country. He made this statement in Carnegie Hall be-
fore thousands of people. And there was not one word
of truth in it. If he had taken the slightest pains to in-
form himself, he might easily have learned that the So-
66 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
cialists have an exceedingly definite plan for taking over
the ownership of the nation's industries.
But Mr. Untermycr took no pains to inform himself.
Ignorant as an Eskimo of the Socialist program, he just
Avent to Carnegie Hall and talked. What he did not
know, he guessed. What he could not guess right, he
guessed wrong. He could guess almost nothing right.
Mr. Hillquit made him look ridiculous. He was ridic-
ulous. He was more than ridiculous. He was an object
for pity. A great lawyer, having a great reputation to
sustain, discussing a great subject of which he had only
the most meager knowledge!
Mr. Hillquit riddled him, of course, but he did not
riddle much because, speaking Socialistically, Mr. Unter-
myer is not much. But, unfortunately, only the 5,000 or
6,000 who heard the debate knew that Mr. Untermyer
had been riddled. Millions of New Yorkers who read
the capitalist newspapers the next morning received the
impression from the headlines that Untermyer had rid-
dled not only Hillquit but Socialism. " Socialists have
no definite plans for doing the things they want to do "
was the parroted charge. The charge was not true, but
the public did not know the charge was not true. The
capitalist newspapers would not let the public know.
The newspapers had good reasons for not letting the pub-
lic know. The newspapers are owned or backed by mil-
lionaires who are interested in maintaining present
conditions. Socialism would interfere with these news-
paper millionaires as much as it would interfere with any
other millionaires. Yet it is from such sources that the
public receives most of its information with regard to
Socialism. It is because of this fact that the public
knows so much about Socialism that is not so.
It emphatically is not so that the Socialists have no
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 67
definite plan for taking over the management and control
of the industries of the country. They know precisely
what they are trying to do and how they are trying to
do it. They have not drafted all of the laws that would
be required under a Socialist republic for the next 500
years, but they have formulated certain general princi-
ples that, once established, will endure for centuries. I
shall endeavor to make these general principles plain.
Socialists want to end class warfare. They want to
prevent one class from robbing any other class. They
do not see how class warfare can be ended so long as
a small class controls the means of life of the great class.
The means of life is the machinery and materials with
which men work. Socialists, therefore, purpose that the
means of life shall be owned by all of the people, through
If this program be put into effect, a start must be made
somewhere. Socialists purpose that the start be made
with the trusts. They propose that the start be made
with the trusts because the trusts have advanced furthest
along the road of evolution. The trusts have already
sloughed off the multitude of primitive, competitive
managers. They are concentrated. Only the slightest
shift will be necessary to concentrate the managements
a little more and vest them in the government. Besides,
the trusts control the bulk of the production of the great
necessaries of life. Get the trusts and we shall have
life. We shall have food. We shall have clothing.
We shall have shelter. We shall have all of these things,
because we shall have the machinery with which we may
make all of these things.
Long before Congressman Bcrgcr's bill was drafted,
the cry of the Socialists was " Let the nation own the
trusts." Among Socialists, this cry was as insistent and
as common as the cry of " Let us stand pat " was in-
68 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
sistent and common among the Hanna Republicans of
1896 and 1900. That Sociahst cry showed where the
Sociahsts planned to begin. Congressman Berger's bill
only echoed the cry and made it more definite. The So-
cialist cry was " Let the nation own the trusts." Con-
gressman Berger's bill told what trusts were, within the
meaning of Socialist demands, and how to get them.
Berger's bill declared that a trust should be construed to
mean any industry or combination of industries that con-
trolled 40 per cent, or more of the national output of
its product. And, Berger's bill also laid down the prin-
ciple that the easiest way to acquire the trusts is to buy
them. Moreover, his bill also sought to provide the gov-
ernmental machinery and the money with which to
Never mind whether Berger's bill was wise or foolish.
Never mind whether the Socialist program is wise or
foolish. We are now considering the charge that the
Socialists have no definite program. That is what Mr.
Untermyer said. That is what a thousand others say.
Is it not plain that they are all wrong? Who can doubt
that if the Berger bill were enacted into law, the trusts
could and would be taken over? The Berger bill is
plainer than any tariff bill that was ever written. Any
man of common sense can understand it. No man can
understand a tariff law. Yet tariff laws are adminis-
tered. They are definite enough to accomplish what the
protected manufacturers really want accomplished.
Even those who oppose high tariff laws do not contend
that they should be repealed because they lack definite-
The simple fact is that the Socialists want to take the
trusts first, because they are the most important and the
best adapted to immediate ownership by the people. For
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 69
the time being', small competitive manufacturers would
be compelled to compete with the government. If the
Socialist theory of production is a fallacy, the small
competitive producers would demonstrate it by providing
better working conditions for their employees and selling
goods more cheaply than the government. In that event,
Socialism would fall of its own weight and the nation
would restore present conditions.
If the Socialist theory of production is not a fallacy,
the competitive producers would be driven out of busi-
ness and sell their plants to the government for what
they were worth. They would be driven out of business,
because they could not afford to do business without a
profit. They could get no profit without appropriating
part of the product of their workers, and if they appro-
priated part of the product of their workers, the work-
ers would shift over to the national industries where no
products were appropriated.
In short, if the national ownership of trusts were a
success, the day of the competitive manufacturer would
be short. He could not afford to do business with a com-
petitor who sought no profits. And this is precisely
what Socialists believe would take place. They believe
the national ownership of the trusts would be quickly
followed by the national ownership of every industry
that is now owned by some to skim a profit from the
labor of others.
This does not mean, however, that peanut stands would
be owned by the government. It does not necessarily
mean that farms would be owned by the government.
The Socialists are not fanatics over the mere principle
of government ownership. They appeal to the prin-
ciple only to accomplish an end. The end is the de-
struction of the power of some to rob others. If there
70 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
is no robbery, tbcre is no occasion for the application
of the principle. The ownership of a peanut stand gives
the owner no power to rob anybody. A man who tills
his own farm is robbing nobody. Neither the owner-
ship of the peanut stand nor the ownership of the farm
gives the owner the power to rob anybody, because
neither owner profits from the labor of an employee.
But if tenant farming should ever become a serious evil
in this country — and it is increasing all the while — the
Socialists, if they were in power, would take over the
ownership of all tenant farm lands. They would take
over the tenant farms for the same reason that they now
w^ant to take over the trusts — because the landlords
were using the powder of ownership to appropriate part
of the products of the tenants.
Let this do for the critics who say that Socialists have
no definite program for taking over the ownership of
the nation's industries. There is another set of critics
who say that, if Socialists should ever take over the
industries, they could not run them. They say that the
change from private to public ownership would bring
chaos, that the government, as a manager of industry,
would break down, that red revolution would sweep the
world and that civilization would probably go down with
I shall pause a moment to comment upon the lack of
humor that these gentlemen betray. They take them-
selves so seriously. If they were called upon to attend
a dog beset with fleas, they would doubtless counsel the
dog to prize the fleas as it prized its life.
" Don't bite off one of those fleas, my dear dog," we
can hear them say. " You don't know it, but they are
doing you good. Each flea-bite increases the speed with
which you pursue game. . If fleas were not biting you
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 71
all the time, you might become so comfortable that you
would lie down in the sun, go to sleep, forget to eat,
and thus starve to death. Remember, the fleas are your
Of course, the great capitalists who are opposing So-
cialism are not to be likened to fleas, except as to the
facts that they are exceedingly agile and are working at
the same trade. But in a season of national mourning
over the high cost of living, is it not unseemly for these
gentlemen to provoke us to laughter by telling us that, if
we were to lose them, we ourselves should be lost ? We
who work can never save ourselves. We can be saved
only by those who work us.
Let us get down to brass tacks. If the Socialists were
to gain control of this government to-morrow, probably
the first thing they would do toward carrying out their
program would be to call a national convention to draft
a twentieth century constitution to replace our present
eighteenth century one. The convention would abolish
the senate, vest the entire legislative power in the house
of representatives, destroy tlie United States Supreme
Court's usurped power to declare acts of congress un-
constitutional, make all judges elective by the people
and establish the initiative, the referendum and recall.
Socialists would not attempt to establish Socialism with-
out first clearing the ground so that the people could con-
trol their government absolutely.
The work of the convention having been approved by
the people, perhaps the first trust that would be taken
over would be the railroad trust. It would be a big job.
It would be so big a job that no other similar job would
be undertaken until tiie completion of the railroad job
was well under way, and the railroad job might require
a year or two. I mention tin's fact to show that it
72 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
would not be the purpose of a Socialist administration
to rip this country up from Maine to Southern Cali-
fornia within twenty-four hours from the fourth of
March. In fact, there would be no ripping or jarring,
as I shall soon show. Everything would proceed in an
orderly, lawful manner.
I I say there would be no ripping or jarring, because
there would be no cessation of industry. Let us sup-
pose, for instance, that the ownership and control of the
railroads had been transferred from the present owners
to the government. What would happen? Absolutely
nothing in the nature of a jar. What happens now when
one group of capitalists sell a railroad to another group
of capitalists? Nothing, of course. The new owners
tell the general manager to keep on running trains, as
usual, or if they install a new general manager, they tell
him to keep on running trains. The trainmen, if they
did not read the newspapers, would not know the road
had changed hands.
The transition from private to public ownership would
be accomplished precisely as smoothly. The only
change would be in the orders that a Socialist adminis-
tration would give to the chief executive officer of the
railroads. That order, in substance, would be : " Don't
try to make any profits out of the railroads. Run them
at cost. Give the men more wages and shorter hours,
and give the public the best possible service at the low-
est possible rate and with the least possible risk to hu-
If you can manufacture a riot out of such ingredients,
go to it. If you can figure out how such a proceeding
would disrupt civilization, proceed at your leisure.
The cards are all down. You now know what the
Socialists want to do. Where is the danger?
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 73
" Oh," the capitah'st gentlemen say, " but you Social-
ists are not business men, and business men are required
to manage industries. A Socialist government would
Mayor Gaynor expressed much the same thought in a
statement about Socialism that he prepared for the New
tYork Times. Mr, Gaynor's attitude toward Socialism is
tolerant — almost sympathetic — yet he asked :
"Who would run your Socialistic government? Where would
you get honest and competent men? Would the human understand-
ing and capacity be larger then than it is now?"
Wherever Socialism is discussed, such questions are
asked. They are evidently regarded as insuperable ob-
stacles to Socialism. As a matter of fact, they serve
only to show how little the questioners know of Social-
Socialists do not purpose to establish hatcheries for
the breeding by special creation, of a class of super-men
to administer government and manage industry. They
will depend upon the regular run of the human race for
material with which to work out their ideas. But they
will approach the subjects of government and industry
from a different point of view. The capitalist's concep-
tion of honest and efficient government is that sort of
government that will best protect b.im in the enjoyment
of the unjust advantages that he has over the rest of the.
people. The capitalist's conception of honest and effi-
cient business management is that sort of business man-
agement that will yield him the most profits upon the
least capital. The Socialist's conception of the best gov-
ernment is that which gives no man an advantage over
another, while giving every man the greatest opportunity
to exercise his faculties, together with the greatest de-
74 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
gfree of personal liberty that is consistent with the liberty
of everybody else. And, the Socialist's conception of
honest and cfiicient business management is that sort of
management that produces the most product under the
best working conditions at the least cost and distributes
it among the people without profit.
In answer to Mayor Gaynor and others, Socialists
therefore make these replies: /
Capitalists are now able to get honest men who are
competent to administer the government in the interest
of the capitalist class. Why, then, should you doubt
that Socialists \vili be able to get honest men who will
be able to administer the government in the interest of
the working class? In either case, it is simply a matter
of executing the orders of the employer. Capitalism's
employees obey its orders. Socialism's employees will,
for the same reason, obey its orders. You tell your
employees to maintain the advantage that the few have
over the many, and they obey you. We shall tell our
employees to destroy the advantage that the few have
over the many. We believe they will obey us. If they
do not, we shall recall them. That is more than you
can now do.
Mayor Gaynor and others also ask if the " human un-
derstanding and capacity " would be larger under Social-
ism than they are now. Positively not. But we respect-
fully beg leave to suggest that it is not a matter of un-
derstanding or capacity. It is a matter of purpose and
intention. Men " understand " what they are given to
understand. If a man is told to understand the problem
of grinding human beings down to push dividends up,
he devotes his mind to this task and to no other. If the
same man were told to grind dividends down to the
vanishing point ^nd hoist human beings high and dry
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 75
above tlie poverty point, he would probably understand
that, too. And, so far as capacity is concerned, we al-
ready have the capacity for great productive effort. We
simply are not permitted to exercise enough of it to keep
us in comfort Socialism would not increase the capacity
of the human mind, but it would give the nation an op-
portunity to exercise the capacity it has.
To simmer the whole matter into a few words, Social-
ism would endeavor to place government and industry
in the hands of men who would consider every problem
and every opportunity from the point of view of the
working class. It is the reverse of this method against
which Socialists complain. Capitalists are compelled to
consider the working class last in order that they may
consider themselves first. The interests of the capitalist
class and the working class, instead of being " identical,"
are hostile. The capitalist class seeks a maximum of
product for a minimum of wages. The working class
seeks a maximum of wages for a minimum of product.
The two classes are at war with each other for the pos-
session of the values that the working class creates.
And, since capitalists control both government and
industry, it is but natural that the interests of capitalists
should be considered first and the interests of working-
A little thought is enough to dissipate the fear that
a Socialist government would fail, " because Socialists
are not business men, and business men are required to
manage industry." Let us first inquire, what is meant
by a " business man " ? Is he not. first and foremost, a
man who is expert in the squeezing out of profits? Of
course, he is. If he can produce enough profits to sat-
isfy his stockholders, he need know nothing about the
mechanics of the business itself. And, so long as busi-
76 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
ness is conducted upon the basis of private profits, it is
obvious that the men in charge of it must be " business "
men — men who understand the business of extracting
But, with business estabHshed upon a basis of public
usefuhiess, with no thought of private profits, of what
use would be such a business man? His executive and
organizing ability would be of the greatest value, but
his ability as a mere profit-getter would be of no value.
For purposes of illustration, let us consider Judge
Gary, the chief executive official of the United States
Steel Corporation. Judge Gary probably knows about
as much about making steel as you do about making
Stradivarius violins. He was educated as a lawyer, prac-
tised law and was graduated to the bench. He knows a
steel rail from a gas tank, but, to save his life, he could
not make either. He is a lawyer — plus. A lawyer
with a business man's instinct for profits. A lawyer
with a business man's instinct for organization and ad-
Back of Judge Gary sits a cabinet of Wall Street di-
rectors who, in a general way, tell him what to do. But,
like Judge Gary, these Wall street directors know noth-
ing about the making of steel. They are expert only in
the making of profits.
Now, a simple old person who had just dropped down
here from another planet might tell you that such men
could not possibly manage a great business like that of
the steel trust. Such a simple old person might tell you
that, under the management of such men, the plants of
the steel trusts would be as likely to turn out bologna
sausages or baled hay as steel. But we know, as a mat-
ter of fact, that, under the management of such men, the
steel trust turns out nothing but steel. And why ? Sim-
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 'j'j
ply because, below these managers are thousands of
highly trained men and hundreds of thousands of wage-
workers who, collectively, know all that is known about
the making of steel.
Here, then, comes this crushing question. If the So-
cialists were to gain control of this government, and
upon behalf of the government, buy out the steel trust,
what would prevent the Socialist President from writing
such a letter as this to the chief executive officer of the
"Dear Judge Gary: Until further notice stay where you are and
do as you have been doing, except as to these particulars : Instead
of consulting with J. Pierpont Morgan and your Wall Street cabinet,
consult with me and my cabinet Instead of making steel for profit,
make it solely for use. It will not be necessary for you to make
steel rails that break in order to keep steel stock from breaking on
the market. Make everything as good as you can, sell everything
you make at cost, increase the wages of your workingmen and
shorten their hours. Do everything you can, in fact, to make the
lot of the steel-worker as comfortable as may be."
Would such a letter create a riot? Would Judge
Gary indignantly resign and the workers flee?
Would the production of steel be interrupted for a
Yet, in no more violent way than this would the So-
cialists take over the ownership and control of any in-
dustry. The men now in charge would be left in charge
— at least until better men could be found to take their
places. Probably, here and there, a man would have to
be changed. Not every man who can squeeze out profits
is good for anything else. But the men who could for-
get profits and make good in usefulness — the men who
could look at their problems solely from the point of
view of the public — such men would be let alone.
They would not only be let alone, but they would be
78 TIIK TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
given a better opportunity than they now have to make
good. Profits ever stand in the way of making good
in the real sense. Steel rails that break and kill passen-
gers are not made poor because the steel trust officials
do not know how to make them better. They are made
poor because it would decrease profits to make them bet-
ter. Every intelligent manager of industry knows of
many things that he might do to increase the worth of
his product, but most of this knowledge goes to waste
because it would interfere with profits.
Let no man fear that Socialism, if tried, would crum-
ple up because the government would be unable to find
competent managers of industry. Every industry will
continue to produce men who are competent to take
charge of its technical work. The matter of executive
heads is of secondary importance. The Postmaster.
General of the United States, who, almost invariably, is
a mere politician, is at the head of one of the greatest
enterprises in the world, yet the mails go on. The men
who sort letters must know their business. The Post-
master General need not know his. It would be better
if he did, of course, but even if he does not the mails
go on. So much more important, collectively, are the
real workers of the world than any man who figure-
heads over them.
When E. H. Harriman died the Harriman heirs found
a man to head the Harriman system of railroads. The
man they found — Judge Lovett — is not even a rail-
road man, but the Harriman lines go on. The Vander-
bilts, Goulds, Rockefellers and Morgans also find men
to manage their railroads and other industries. What
these capitalists have done, the President, his cabinet and
congress, will probably have little difficulty in doing.
Opponents of Socialism make ridiculous statements
PEOPLE MAY ACQUIRE THE TRUSTS 79
about the slavery that they declare would exist if the
people, through the government, owned and operated
their own industries. The workingman is told that, un-
der Socialism, he would be ordered about from place to
place as if he were a child.
This charge is no more ridiculous than another charge
that is sometimes made, by which it is represented that,
under Socialism, the blacksmith would burst into an
opera house, demand the job of leading the orchestra,
and start a revolution if he were denied the job. The
fact is that, under Socialism, industry would proceed,
so far as these matters are concerned, in much the same
manner that it now proceeds. The workers would be
free to apply for the kinds of work for which they re-
garded themselves as best fitted. So far as the neces-
sities of industry would permit, the applications of the
workers would be granted. But, in the long run, the
workers would have to work where they were needed,
precisely as they now have to work where they are
needed, and, then as now, particular tasks would be
given to those who were best fitted to perform them.
Under Socialism, the worker would have to apply for
work, at this place or that place, precisely as he does
now. The only difference would be that he would al-
ways get work somewhere, that he would work fewer
hours, under better conditions, for more pay, and, that,
as a voter, he would have a voice in the management of
all industry. |
Such are the replies made by Socialists to the chief
objections that are launched against Socialism. There
is another charge — not an objection — that should also
be considered. It is the charge that Socialists arc dream-
ers, striving to establish a Utopia. Nothing could be
more absurd. Socialists are evolutionists. Tlicy do not
8o THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
believe in Utopias, because they do not believe tliere is or
can be such a thing as the last word in human progress.
They believe the world will always continue to go onward
and upward, precisely as it has always gone onward and
upward. Much as they are devoted to Socialism, they
have not the slightest belief that the world will stop with
Socialism. They believe Socialism will some day become
as outgrown and burdensome as capitalism now is, and
that, when that day comes, Socialism should and will give
way to something better.
Tlie chief contention of Socialists is that Socialism is
the next step in civilization, that it represents a great ad-
vance over capitalism, that it will end poverty and indus-
trial depressions, and that Socialism must come unless
civilization is to go backward.
THE " PRIVATE PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN
SOCIALISTS want the people, through the govern-
ment, to own and operate the country's great
industries. In making this proposal, however, they al-
ways specify tliat they also want the people to own and
operate the government.
Upon this slight basis rests the charge that Socialists
oppose the right of the individual to own private prop-
erty. Gentlemen who own much private property —
hundreds of millions of dollars' worth — energetically
try to frighten gentlemen whose holdings of private prop-
erty are chiefly confined to the clothes they stand in and
the chairs they sit in.
" Beware of those Socialists," say these gentlemen,
" They are your worst enemies. They would deprive
you of the right to own private property. They would
have everybody own everything jointly, thus permitting
nobody to own anything individually. Look out for
. We Socialists say to you : " Look out for the gentle-
men who are so fearful lest you shall lose the right to
own private property. If you will observe carefully,
you will note that they are the ones who own practically
all of th'" private property. You have hopes, perhaps,
but they nave the property. Your hopes do not increase.
Their property does. Besides, we have no desire to deny
you the right to own private property. On the contrary,
we want to make your right worth something. It is
82 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
not worth anything now, because you don't own anything
and can't own anything. You are kept too busy making
a bare living."
Tlie imagination can picture no more seductive subject
than the right to own private property. The right to
own private properly suggests the power to exercise the
right. The power to exercise the right a Httle suggests
the power to exercise it much. The power to exercise it
much suggests the power to put the world at one's feet ;
to reach out and get this, whatever it may be; to go there
and get that, wherever it may be. Nothing that is of
earth or on earth is beyond the dreams of one who owns
enough private property. Therefore, the subject may be
worth a little more than ordinary consideration.
What, then, is property? Let us look around us.
One man has property in land. So far as the eye can
see, maybe, the laws of the state defend him in his power
to say: "This is mine. I bought it. I paid for it.
No one can take it from me without my leave. No one
may even pick a flower from the hillside, or a berry from
a bush without my consent."
Property in land may be called property in natural re-
sources — property in things that man did not make.
Then there is property in things that man has made.
Property in food, property in clothing, property in
houses, and property in the mills and machinery with
which food, clothing, houses and all other manufactured
articles are made.
Now, why should anyone wish a property right in any-
thing? Why should anyone wish to say of anvthing on
earth : " This is mine. No one may take it irom me
without my leave. No one may even use it without my
leave " ?
Only that he may fully use and enjoy it. That is the
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN 83
only valid reason that lies behind the desire to own any-
thing. Some things cannot be fully used and enjoyed
unless they are exclusively within the control of those
who use them. A home into which the world was at
liberty to enter would be no home. It might be a lodging
house or a hotel, but it would be no home. Therefore,
there is a valid reason why each individual should ex-
clusively control the house in which he lives. Such ex-
clusive control may arise from private ownership, as we
now understand the term, or it may arise from the right,
guaranteed by the state, to exclusive control so long as
its use is desired; but, from whatever it may arise, it
It is the shame of the present civilization that it does
not exist. The great majority of human beings have not
the exclusive control of the houses in which they live.
Their clutch upon their habitations is of the flimsiest sort.
The sickness of the father may deprive them of the
power to pay rent and thus put them out. The ability of
some other man to pay a greater rental may put them out.
Any one of many incidents may deprive them of their
right to exclusive control of their domiciles.
Exclusive control of the furnishings of a home is also
necessary to their complete enjoyment. What is true of
house furnishings is true of clothing. Anything, in fact,
that is exclusively used by an individual cannot be com-
pletely enjoyed unless it is exclusively controlled by that
Wherein lies the justice of permitting one individual
to own that which he does not use and cannot use, but
which some other individual must use? Why should
Mr. Morgan and his associates be permitted to own the
machinery with which the steel trust workers earn their
living? Why should Mr. Rockefeller and his associates
84 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
be permitted to own so many of the railroads witli which
railroad men earn their living? Why should one man
be permitted to own block upon block of tenements,
wiiile block upon block of tenement-dwellers own no
These questions cannot be answered by saying that the
world has always been run this way. In the first place,
it is not true. Never, during all the years of the world,
until less than a century ago, did a few men own the
tools with which all other men work. In fact, it is only
within the last 40 years that such ownership has divided
the population into a small master class and a vast serv-
ant class. But even if the world had always been run as
it is running, that, in itself, would not make it right.
And anything that is wrong cannot be made right with-
out changing it.
We Socialists are determined to change the laws re-
lating to private property. We assert that the present
laws are wrong. We are prepared to prove that they are
wrong. We are eager to demonstrate that the poverty
of the masses is the direct result of the ownership, by a
few, of a certain kind of property that should not be pri-
vately owned. We refer, of course, to the industrial ma-
chinery of the country, which is owned by those who do
not use it and used by those who do not own it.
Our proposal, therefore, is this: We say that all prop-
erty that is collectively used should be collectively owned,
and that all property that is individually used should be
individually owned. The last clause should help out the
gentleman who is afraid that Socialism would rob him
of the ownership of his undershirt. The first clause will
help him to own an undershirt.
Please take this suggestion : Distrust any man who
advises you to distrust Socialism because of the fear that
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN 85
it would destroy the individual's right to own property.
Such a man is always either ignorant upon the subject of
Socialism or crooked upon the subject of capitalism.
There are no exceptions, for Socialism does not mean
what he says it means and would not do what he says
it would do.
Socialism would give such a meaning to the individual
right to own property as it has never had in all the
history of the world. Under Socialism, the individual
would not only have the right to own property, but he
would have the power to exercise the right. He would
own property. If Socialism would not give every head
of a family the power exclusively to control as good a
house as the $5,ooo-a-year man now lives in, Socialists
would have no use for Socialism. The actual owner-
ship of the house might or might not rest with the indi-
vidual. To prevent grafters from grabbing houses, it
might be deemed advisable to let the state hold the title.
But the state would protect the individual in the right
exclusively to control the house as long as he wished to
live in it, even if it were for a lifetime. If the people so
desired, the state might even go further and give the
children, after the death of their parents, the same right.
But no Socialist government would permit a landlord
class to fatten upon a homeless class.
Why? Because Socialists believe that no validity un-
derlies a private title to property except the validity that
is completed by the use of property. This statement,
like any other, can be made ridiculous by construing it
ridiculously. Socialists do not mean by this, for in-
stance, that if a man should take his family to the coun-
try for the summer anybody would have a right to move
into his house, merely because he had temporarily ceased
to use it. But Socialists do mean that it is hostile to the
86 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
interests of the community for a small class to own so
much that they can never use.
Socialists believe that the needs of the community are
so great that all of the resources of the community should
be available to the community. Therefore, they v^-ould
require occupancy, or use, as a pre-requisite to the perfec-
tion of a title. Not that if a man, in spring, were to hang'
up his winter underclothing for the summer, any neigh-
bor gentleman would thereby be given the right to appro-
priate the same — nothing of the kind. This statement
with regard to use, like all other statements made by
Socialists, must be construed reasonably. We simply lay
down the principle that it is wrong to perpetuate condi-
tions under which a few are enabled to grab so much
more than they can use. Such grabbing hurts. What a
man cannot use he should not have. He thereby prevents
others from getting what they need.
Besides, what is grabbing but a bad habit? Mr.
Rockefeller's $900,000,000, if expended exclusively for
bologna sausages, might buy enough to supply him for a
million years. If expended for golf balls, he might be
able to play golf, without buying a new ball, until he had
eaten the last sausage. If expended for clothing, he
might be able to wear a new suit, every fifteen minutes,
for the next 28,000,000 years. But what good do all of
these figures do Rockefeller? His capacity for consum-
ing wealth is extremely limited. It is only his capacity
for appropriating the wealth created by others that is
great. Every time Mr. Rockefeller's watch ticks $2
drop into his till — but he never sees them. He hardly
knows they are there. He has to hire a bookkeeper to
know they are there. So far as certainties are concerned,
Mr. Rockefeller knows only that when he wants bacon
and eggs, with a little hashed brown potatoes on the side,
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN 87
he has the money to pay for them. In other words, the
few wants of his sHght physical body are never in danger
Mr. Rockefeller's physical wants would be in no danger
of denial if he were worth only $50,000. Why, then,
does he want to own the rest of his $900,000,000 worth
of property? Plainly, it is only because he is a victim
of a bad habit. Some men want money because of the
power it gives them, but Rockefeller has never seemed to
care much about power. He simply has a mania for ac-
cumulation. The more he gets, the more he can get —
therefore, he always wants to get more.
And, what does Rockefeller do with wealth, after he
gets it? Why, he lets us use it. He invests it in rail-
roads, or steel mills, or steamboats, or copper mines, or
restaurants, or whatever seems likely to bring him more
money. He does not use any of these properties much.
The same freight train that brings him a package of
breakfast food brings carloads of kitchen stoves and iron
bedsteads to those whose watches have to tick all day to
bring in $2. But the point is that while Mr. Rockefeller
uses his properties little and we use them much, he is con-
tinuously charging us toll for their use and investing the
toll in more iron, more steel or more copper. If he
charged us no toll, we should have reason to be thankful
to him. If he should invest the toll in the necessities of
life and dole them out to us, we should, if we were beg-
gars, also have reason to be thankful to him. But he
invests his toll in more iron, more steel or more copper
— toll that the men who made it need to put blood into
their bodies and clothing on their families.
That is all that the private ownership of property does
for Mr. Rockefeller more than it does for anybody else.
The beefsteak upon his plate is no more secure from out-
88 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
side attack than is the food upon the plate of the poorest
laborer. But the industrial machinery that Mr. Rocke-
feller owns enables him to get, every time his watch ticks,
the equivalent of $2 worth of food, or clothing, or any-
We stupid people who permit the private ownership of
industrial machinery should be exceedingly thankful to
Mr. Rockefeller and men of his type. To these gentle-
men, are thanks especially due from those persons who
believe that the constitution of the United States repre-
sents the last gasp of wisdom and should not, therefore,
in any circumstances, be changed. Under the constitu-
tion and laws of this country, as they stand to-day, Mr.
Rockefeller and his associates could legally starve us to
death, if they were so minded. Each of them could go
abroad, deposit $1,000,000 in the Bank of England, then
cable instructions to close down every industry they own,
which would mean every industry of importance in the
country, including the railroads. No one would have a
legal right to trespass upon their premises, and their
hoarded wealth would be sufficient to enable them to live
comfortably abroad to the end of their days, while the
people of America were starving to death.
Of course, the people of America would not starve to
death. Law or no law, the people of America would
break into the abandoned properties and operate them.
Without extended delay, they would change the law, in-
cluding the federal constitution, to justify their action.
But the theoretical possibility of such abandonment is
sufficient to illustrate the absurdity of our present laws
with regard to the ownership of private property.
When the constitution was adopted, even no such the-
oretical possibility existed. It is true that we were
then almost exclusively an agricultural people, and some
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN 89
of the best families had stolen millions of acres of the
most available land. But back of the most available land
were untold millions of acres of other land upon which
human life could be sustained — land tliat could be had
for the taking and clearing. The factory age had not
dawned. Every home was its own factory, in which
cloth was woven and clothing was made. Aside from
the stolen land which was privately owned, almost noth-
ing was privately owned that was not suitable for pri-
vate ownership. That was largely due, of course, to the
further fact that there was not, at that time, much wealth
in the country.
But, viewed from any angle, the unrestricted private
ownership of property is a curse to the people and always
has been. If it were not a curse, in the sense that it en-
ables some to rob others, no one who is in his senses
would be in favor of it. The desire to use property is a
legitimate reason for \vishing to own it, but the desire
to own property that one does not use can arise from no
other motive than a purpose to use such ownership as
a bludgeon with which to rob the users.
Apply this test and it will be found never to fail. The
landlord owns land because he wants to live in idleness
from the fruits of those who till the land. The multi-
millionaire owners of industrial machinery want to ow'n
the industrial machinery because they want to use such
ownership to appropriate part of what their employees
produce. If private ownership did not give this ad-
vantage to the owners, the owners would not care to own.
If it does give this advantage to the owners the workers
have a right to object. Moreover, the workers have a
right to insist that such ownership cease.
It is not enough to reply that a man has a right to own
any physical property that he can buy. Some burglars
90 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
have enough money to buy dark lanterns and " jimmies,"
paying for the same in perfectly lawful coin of the
United States. But merely because the private owner-
ship of burglars' tools is not for the good of the people,
we have laws forbidding such ownership, and if the laws
be violated, we seize and confiscate the tools.
Some day, the fact may dawn upon us that, for every
dollar taken with burglars' tools, a million dollars is
taken — quite legally, of course — by the owners of in-
It may be a sore blow, of course, to a man who under
capitalism, has never been able to own a cofifee grinder,
to tell him that, under Socialism, he would not be per-
mitted to own a steel mill. If so, let the blow fall at
once. He might as well know the worst now, as later.
But if there be those who are interested in owning homes,
furniture, clothing, motorboats, automobiles, and so
forth, let them be interested in Socialism. Socialism, by
no means, guarantees that every laborer shall go to his
work in a six-cylinder car, while his wife does the mar-
keting in a limousine, but it does guarantee that Social-
ism would not prevent him from privately owning all
such property that he could earn.
We realize, of course, that this is but a small bait to
hold out to a man whom capitalism has given the " right "
to own the earth. Among gentlemen who would like
to own the earth, perhaps we shall therefore make little
progress. But among gentlemen who have been promised
the earth and are getting only hell, we may do better.
The time may come when they will tire of piling their
bones at the foot of the precipice of private property.
The time may come when they will realize that it would
be no more absurd to have private undershirts owned by
the public than it is to have the public's industrial ma-
THE "PRIVATE-PROPERTY" BOGEY-MAN 91
chinery owned by private interests. Then we shall have
" And everything will be divided up equally, all around,
and in five years the same persons will be rich who are
now rich, and the same persons who are now poor will be
List to the croaking parrot that has just flown into
our happy home. Whenever and wherever there is a
discussion about Socialism, that wise old bird wheels in
and declares it is all a wicked scheme to rob the rich for
the benefit of the poor, and that in no event could it long
succeed. Poor old feathered imitation of a human in-
tellect ! Brainless, yet not without a voice, it talks on
and on and on. Bereft of its feathers and its voice, it
might take its place upon a hook in the market place and
eventually work its way into some careless shopper's
basket as a perfectly good partridge, or diminutive duck.
Placed upon the table and served as a delicacy, its worth-
lessness would soon be understood. But clad as nature
clothed it and harping words that some one once dropped
into its ear, its voice is continuously mistaken for the
voice of wisdom and the progress of the world is com-
manded to halt.
But the progress of the world does not halt. Those
who can think without inviting excruciating pain; those
who can reflect without bringing on a stroke of apoplexy,
are not compelled to think much or to reflect much to
realize that nothing the bird says about " dividing up " is
so. Who divided up the wealth that is represented in the
public buildings in Washington? What part of the
White House, pray, do you own? Do you own the south
veranda, or do you own the President's bed? Maybe it
is the gilded lady upon the dome of the Capitol who calls
you " papa " or " mamma." li not, the wealth repre-
92 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
scntcd in the public buildings in Washington has not been
" divided up," for you have not been given your share.
Under Socialism, the wealth of the nation would no
more be divided up than the wealth invested in the Amer-
ican navy is divided up now. The industrial wealth of
the community, owned in common by the members of
the community, would be at the service of the community.
It would no more be at the service of an individual,
exclusive of any other or all other individuals, than the
postal department is now at the service of an individual
to the exclusion of any other individual. Nor would
any man or small set of men ever have a greater oppor-
tunity to regain possession of the nation's industrial
wealth than any man or small set of men now have to ac-
quire private ownership of the Capitol at Washington.
Any man may walk into the Capitol with all the freedom
that he might feel if it were his own. But let any man
try to sell off a wing as a lodging house and the Capitol
police would do their duty. Let Socialists once national-
ize the nation's industries and they will cheerfully agree
to lay their heads on the block if individuals ever recover
possession of them.
Gentlemen who believe otherwise forget that under
Socialism there would no longer be the means by which a
few pile up great fortunes at the expense of the many.
The private ownership of property that is collectively
used is the means by which such fortunes are now ac-
cumulated. With the means gone, how could the for-
We Socialists are also often chided for what our op-
ponents are pleased to call our " gross materialism."
Gentle folk like the Morgans, the Guggenheims, the
Ryans, the Havemeyers and others often grieve because
our vision seems to comprehend nothing but bread and
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN 93
butter, clothing and furniture, houses and lots and pen-
sions for the aged.
Their grief is perhaps natural. We talk much about
those things. We are frankly committed to the task of
removing poverty from the world. Material things are
required to remove poverty. When poverty goes, of
course, a lot will go that is not material. All of the un-
happiness that is caused by poverty and the fear Of pov-
erty will go. All of the ignorance that is caused by
poverty will go. All of the crimes that are caused by
ignorance and poverty will go. And much of the vice
Much of the vice? Did you ever consider how much
vice would go if capitalism were to go? Did you ever
realize to what extent vice is fostered by the profit sys-
tem to which Socialism is opposed? No? Then read
what Wirt W. Hallman, of Chicago, said before the
American Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis.
Here it is:
" If any city will take the profit out of vice, it will immediately
reduce the volume of vice at least 50 per cent. If, in addition, it will
make vice dangerous to men as well as women, to patrons, property-
owners and business men as well as to dive-keepers and women
street-walkers, it will reduce vice 75 per cent, or more, and will
reduce the wreckage of health and morals in much the same propor-
Socialism will not only take the profit out of vice, but
it will take it out of everything. By enfranchising
woman and making her economically independent, no
woman would be compelled to sell herself to keep herself.
Socialism, in this and other enumerated respects, is there-
fore not particularly materialistic.
But what if it were wholly materialistic? What if its
advocates thought of teaching nothing to the world but
the best means of supplying itself with bread and butler,
94 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
boots and shoes, caps and clothing, houses and lots? Do
you now require your grocer to teach you ethics? Does
your haberdasher supply you with spiritual food as well
as neckties? If your house were burning, would you
refuse the assistance of the fire department merely
because the fire department is exclusively material-
The charge of " gross materialism " is but more sand
thrown in the eyes of those who could not be so easily
robbed if they could see Socialism. Socialists behold a
world that is and always has been poverty-stricken.
They say that for the first time in the history of the
world it is now possible to remove poverty. And those
gentlemen who might have to go to work if poverty were
removed rebuke the Socialists because they do not sing
psalms while talking about the bread and butter question.
Assuredly, no flattery is thereby intended, but indeed
what flattery this is. By inference, they tell the world
that we are super-men. We could tell the world all it
needs to know if it were not for the cussedness that
causes us to harp on bread and butter.
The real cause of such complaint is, of course, not that
we are teaching the world too little, but too much. We
could preach ethics and religion until the cows came
home and not arouse a croaker. We could preach noth-
ing until the cows dropped dead and still there would be
silence. But when we proclaim the right of the indi-
vidual, not only to work, but to possess all he creates, the
gentlemen who create nothing and own everything fire
at us every brick within reach.
Mr. John C. Spooner, once a United States Senator
from Wisconsin, but, happily, no longer such, feels par-
ticularly aggrieved at the Socialist proposals commonly
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY " BOGEY-MAN 95
known as the initiative, the referendum and the recall.
To engraft these measures upon our federal and state
constitutions would, he says, be an attempt to bring about
a " pure democracy," meaning thereby a community the
members of which directly governed themselves. A
" pure democracy," according to Mr, Spooner, was never
made to work on a great scale and cannot be made to
Mr. Spooner, who, in and out of office, has always
served the rich, is evidently still true to his allegiance.
If Mr. Spooner does not know that no Socialist, nor any
other person fit to be out of an idiot asylum, has ever
even suggested that the government of the United States
be converted into a pure democracy, the sum of his
knowledge is even less than the sum of his public services
up to date. Socialists, and those who have followed us
in advocating the initiative, the referendum and the re-
call merely want to give the people power to do certain
things for themselves, provided their elected representa-
tives refuse to do them.
We do not propose to do away with representative
government. We do not propose to disband a single
legislative body. But we do propose to make every
elected official represent us. We do not care whether he
be a judge, a congressman or a President. He must
represent us. But merely because we are determined
these gentlemen shall represent us, other gentlemen like
Mr. Spooner seek to make the people believe we are try-
ing to go back to the old New England town meeting
days and collect 90,000,0000 people on the prairie some-
w'here every time a law is to be passed or a fourth-class
postmaster appointed. The most charitable construction
that can be placed upon the attitude of Mr. Spooner and
96 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
men of his kind is tliat they are infinitely more foolisH
tiian they beheve Sociahsts to be.
Another point of view is suggested by a Denver gen-
tleman whose letter follows :
"In one of your articles on Socialism, you tell liow Socialists
would govern — changes they would make in the constituti'on, and
so forth. I should like to ask what you Socialists, or your ancestors
had to do with making our present form of government? In other
words, what percentage of the Socialists have three generations of
American-born ancestors? Socialist leaders, in particular? A very
small percentage, I venture to say. Socialism is a result of im-
migration. Americans still have faith in the constitution of the
When all other attacks fail, the charge is gravely
made that " Socialism is un-American " and, therefore, a
" result of immigration."
Does it never occur to these gentlemen that the United
States are also the " result of immigration " ? That the
English language, as we speak it here, is the result of im-
Would these gentlemen have us reject everything that
comes from Europe? If so, why do they not reject the
Declaration of Independence, which, though written by
Thomas Jefferson, yet breathes the spirit of Rousseau
and Voltaire, at whose feet he was proud to sit? Why
do they not reject the constitution of the United States
which is heavily saturated with the political principles of
the English? Why do they not reject the English com-
mon law, which assuredly is not American? Why do
they not reject the multiplication table, the works of
Shakespeare and the wireless telegraph?
Why don't they? Because they are not fools. They
are foolish, let us hope, only when they are talking about
Socialism. On this subject, their brains curdle. They
do not ask whether the principles upon which it is based
THE " PRIVATE-PROPERTY. " BOGEY-MAN 97
are true. Truth is not the test. The test is the place
where the principles were first proclaimed. If it could
be proved that they were first proclaimed at Muncie, In-
diana, by a gentleman who was born there immediately
after the landing of Columbus — then we might expect
these patriots to become Socialists even if Socialism had
not a leg to stand upon. But since Europeans chanced
to hit upon Socialism before we did, precisely as they
chanced to hit upon many another good thing before we
did, these gentlemen do not want Socialism, even though
it be true.
Well, let them reject it. Let them reject the sun, the
moon and the stars, if they want to. None of them was
made in America. Let them reject the Mississippi
River because it was discovered by De Soto, a foreigner.
Let them reject the Pacific Ocean because it was discov-
ered by Balboa, another foreigner. The march of the
sun and planets will probably not be seriously disturbed,
even if some gentlemen do reject them. Possibly the
Mississippi River may flow on. Certainly, the Socialist
party in America will not disband. It's busy.
I cannot tell my correspondent what percentage of So-
cialists have three generations of ancestors who were
born in America. I do not know. I do not care. I do
not know why he should care. I know some Socialists
who have fifteen generations of ancestors who were born
in America. I have seen some Socialists when they had
been in this country only fifteen minutes. So far as I
could discover, they were precisely like the Socialists who
had lived in this country, in person or by proxy, for 300
years. They all believed that poverty was unnecessary
and that Socialism would remove it.
Either that belief is true, or it isn't. Whence it
sprang or by whom it is expressed makes no difference
98 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
with its truth or falsity. Yet, men who think they can
tliink, write or speak as this gentleman has written.
They mean well, of course, but they are suffering from
ingrowing Americanism. They are turning their eyes
upon themselves and their backs upon the world. If
America ever reaches the point where it will reject truth,
simply because it comes from abroad, while accepting
error for no other reason than that it is made at home,
America will not be worth bothering about.
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR
ASK the first man you meet if he is in favor of war
and he will tell you he is not. Mr. Wilson is op-
posed to war. The Czar of Russia is opposed to war.
The King of Italy is opposed to war. The Sultan of
Turkey is opposed to war. The King of England and
the German Emperor are opposed to war. Every king
and emperor in the world is opposed to war. Mr,
Roosevelt, Mr. Bryan, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Carnegie, Mr,
Taft — everybody, everywhere, is opposed to war.
Yet, Mr. Taft, not so long ago, flung an army in the
face of Mexico, and dispatched powerful warships to the
coast of Cuba. The King of Italy, not so long ago,
attacked, by land and sea, the people of Turkey. Mr,
Roosevelt and Mr. Bryan, a little longer ago, enlisted in
the war against Spain. Mr. Morgan, only a few years
ago, helped to furnish the sinews of war with which
Japan fought Russia. At this moment, the King of
England and the German Emperor are threatening their
respective nations with bankruptcy in order to augment
their enormous machinery for the slaying of men. And,j
Mr. Carnegie, having grown rich, in part by the manu-
facture of armor-plate for warships, is now using some
of his money to further a peace-movement that brings no
Plainly, here is somctliing mystifying — a world that
wants to stop fighting and cannot. Why cannot it stop
fighting? Mr. Wilson cannot tell you. Mr. Alorgau
loo THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
will not tell yon. Mr. Roosevelt lias not told you. Mr.
Bryan and Mr. Carnegie seem not to know. No one
who should know seems to know. Yet, they must know.
Common sense says so. The men who make wars know
why they make them. Wars do not happen — they are
made. Somebody says : " Bring out the guns." Some-
body says : " Begin shooting." Somebody knows what
the shooting is about. i
What is it about? Be careful, now. Don't answer
too quickly. Don't say " the flag " has been insulted.
Don't say " the national honor " has been impugned.
These are old reasons, but they may not be true reasons.
We Socialists are willing to stake everything on the
statement that they are not true reasons. If we are
right, we are worth listening to. War is hell. During
the 132 years that we have been a nation, we have had
war hell at average intervals of 22 years. We are al-
ready preparing for our next war. We are arming to
the teeth. It may not last so long as the Civil War, but
it will be bloodier. We have all of the most improved
machinery for making it bloodier.
On the sea we are armed as Farragut never was
armed. Any of our dreadnoughts could sink all of the
ships, for which and against which, Farragut ever
fought. And, on land, we are armed as Grant never was
armed. Grant drummed out his victories with muzzle-
loading rifles. No rifle could be fired rapidly. No bul-
let could kill more than one man, nor any man unless
that man were near. But the modern rifle can be fired
25 times a minute, and it will kill at four miles. More
than that, a single bullet from a modern rifle will kill
every man in its path. It will shoot through 60 inches
of pine. It will string men like a needle stringing beads.
It will literally make a sieve of a soldier. Seventy bullet
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR loi
holes and more were found in the body of many a man
who fell on the plains of ]\Ianchuria.
Toward such a war — or worse — we are speeding.
Indeed, it will be hell. But it will not be hell for the men
who make it. It will be hell for the men who fight it.
The men who make it will stay at home. Their blood
will drench no battlefield. Their bones will lie in the
mire with no sunken ship. But the blood of the workers
will drench every battlefield, and their skeletons will
march with the tides on the floor of the sea.
Good Christian gentlemen who abhor w^ar hold out no
hope that war will soon .aase. Good Christian gentle-
men who abhor war pretend not to know why, in a world
that is weary of war, war still persists. Or, if they do
pretend to know, they account for the persistence of
war by slandering the human race. They say the race
is bad. Its brain is full of greed. Its heart is full of
The mind of the race is not, nor ever has been filled
with the greed that kills.
The heart of the race is not, nor ever has been, filled
with the black blood of murder.
It is only a few whose minds and hearts have been
thus poisoned by greed for gain or lust for power.
Probably wc should all have been thus poisoned if we
had been similarly circumstanced — if we had been great
capitalists. But most of us, lacking the capitalist's in-
stinct for profits, never chanced to see the easy loot and
the waiting dagger lying side by side. The gentlemen
who have seen them have made our wars. And the gen-
tlemen who do see them are making our wars to-day and
preparing others for the future.
,We Socialists make this charge flatly. We smear the
monstrous crime of war over the face of the cai)italist
I02 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
class. We mince no words. We say lo the capitalist
" Your pockets are filled with gold, but your hands are
covered with blood. You kill men to get money. You
don't kill them, yourselves. As a class, you are too care-
ful of your sleek bodies. You might be killed if you
were less careful. But you cause other men to kill,
" And you do it in the meanest way. You do it by
appealing to their patriotism.
" You say : ' It is sweet to die for one's country.*
" You don't dare say : ' It is sweet to die for Have-
meyer,' as many Americans died during the Sugar Trust
war to ' free Cuba.'
" You don't say : ' It is sweet to die for Guggenheim
or Morgan,' as many Americans would have died if
Taft's army had crossed the Rio Grande.
" You don't say : ' It is sweet to die for the Tobacco
and other trusts,' as many Americans died during the war
with the Philippines.
" You don't dare say any of these things, because you
know, if you did, you would not get a recruit. You
know you would be more likely to get the boot."
We Socialists, who make these charges, know they are
serious. They are as serious as we know how to make
them. If they lack any of the seriousness they should
have, it is because we lack some of the vocabulary we
should have. The facts upon which the charges are
made are serious enough to justify the full use of any
vocabulary ever made. The facts are the facts of
colossal murder for gain. And they are as old as his-
The small rich class that lives in luxury from the
labor of the great poor class has a reason for clinging
to the control of government. That reason is not far
SOCIALIS^I THE LONE FOE OF WAR 103
to seek. Without the control of government, the small,
rich class would not be rich. Government, in the hands
of the rich, is a sort of two-handed claw with which
golden chestnuts are pulled out of the fire. One claw
is the governmental power to make and enforce laws.
The other claw is the power to grab by force that which
cannot be grabbed by laws.
One nation cannot make laws for another nation.
But the capitalists of one nation may possess property
that is wanted by the capitalists of another nation. Or
the capitalists of one nation may see a great opportu-
nity for personal profit in transferring to their own
nation the sovereignty that another nation holds over a
certain territory. That was why Great Britain made
war against the Boers. Certain rich English gentlemen
believed they could make more money if the British flag
waved over the diamond and gold fields of the Trans-
vaal. For no more nearly valid reason, the capitalist
class of Japan made war against the capitalist class of
Russia. Russia had stolen Korea and Japan wanted it.
Korea belonged to the Koreans, but that made no dif-
ference. Two thieves struggled for it and one of them
The moment that the capitalist class of one nation de-
termines to rob the capitalist class of another nation, tlie
machinery for inflaming the public mind is set in motion.
This machinery consists of tongues and printing presses.
Tongues and printing presses immediately begin to fo-
ment hatred. Every man in each country is made to
feel that every man in the other country is his personal
enemy. But that is stating it too mildly. Every man
in each country is made to feel that every man in the
other country is as much worse than a personal enemy
as a nation is greater than an individual. Fervent ap-
lo4 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
peals are made to " patriotism." " The flag " is waved.
It is not " sweet to die " for Cecil Rhodes, for Roths-
child or any one else — " It is sweet to die for one's
country." And tiiousands of men take the bait.
They bid farewell to their homes. They embark upon
transports. They sail strange seas. They disembark
upon strange shores. They see strange men. Men
whom they never saw before. Men against whom they
have no possible sort of grudge. Men who never
harmed them. Men whom they never harmed. Com-
mon workingmen, like themselves.
But they shoot these men and are shot by these men.
They spill each other's blood. They break each other's
bones. They break the hearts of each other's families.
And, when one army or the other has been crippled be-
yond further fighting, there is peace. The peace of the
sword! The peace of death! The peace that leaves
the working classes of both countries poorer and the
capitalist class of only one country richer.
Was it not a great victory? Yes.
It was a great victory for the capitalists of the world
who lent money to both belligerents. (But it was not
a great victory for the workingmen of both countries,
who, through weary, weary years, will be shorn of part
of their earnings to pay the interest upon the war bonds.)
It was a great victory for the capitalist group who
plunged for plunder and got it. (But it was not a great
victory for the capitalist group that lost its plunder.)
It was a great victory for the generals, who, from a
safe distance, directed the fighting. (But it was not a
great victory for the workingmen who, at close quarters,
fell before the guns and were buried where they fell.)
It was no sort of a victory for the working class of
either country. At least, any victory that came to the
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR 105
working class of either country was merely incidental.
Great Britain whipped the Boers, but the British people
did not get the gold mines and the diamond mines. The
Japanese whipped the Russians, but the Japanese work-
ingmen did not get any of the plunder for which the war
was fought. The Japanese capitalists got all of the
plunder. The common people of Japan were so poor,
after they had fought a " successful " war against Rus-
sia, that, within six months of the termination of the
war, the Mikado urged the sternest self-denial upon
them as the only means of saving the country from bank-
ruptcy. And, notwithstanding the victory of the British
over the Boers, the common people of England were
never before so poor as they are to-day.
What is the use of blinking these facts? They are
facts. Nobody can disprove them. They stand. They
stand even in the face of the further fact that some wars
have helped the working class. The American Revo-
lution helped the working class of America. But the
American working class would not have been in need of
help if the English land-owning class who ruled the
British government had not been using the government
to plunder and oppress the people of America.
But that is only one side of the story. Let us look at
the American side. The common people of America
gained something from the war. They slipped from the
clutches of the English grafters. But they did not getj
what they were promised. Read the Declaration of In-''
dependence and see what they were promised. Read the
Constitution of the United States and see what they
were given. Between the Declaration of Independence
and the Constitution of the United States there is all
the difference that exists between blazing sunlight and
pale moonlight. No finer spirit was ever breathed into
io6 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
words than that which appears in the Declaration of
Independence. Jefferson wrote it, and he wrote splen-
didly, though the Declaration, as it stands, is not as he
first wrote it. Jefferson was so afire with the idea of
liberty that his associates upon the committee that
drafted the Declaration shrank from the light. They
compelled him to tone down his words. But the Decla-
ration as it stands spells Liberty with a big " L," And,
Liberty with a big " L " can be nothing but a republic
in which the people, through their representatives, ab-
The people, through their representatives, have never
ruled this country and do not rule it to-day. The Con-
stitution of the United States will not let them. It will
not let them vote directly for President. In the begin-
ning, the people did not even choose the electors who
elected the President. State Legislatures chose them.
No man except a legislator ever voted for the electors
who chose Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and
some others. To this day the Constitution denies the
right of the people to choose United States Senators and
Justices of the United States Supreme Court. In the
few states where the people practically choose United
States Senators they do so only by " going around the
end " of the Constitution. Tlicy exact a promise from
legislative candidates to elect the senators for whom the
people have expressed a preference. But this is wholly
extra-constitutional. If the legislators were to break
their promises, the United States Supreme Court would
be compelled to sustain them in their constitutional right
to do so.
Now, here is the point. Granted that the American
Revolution was of value to the American working class.
Granted that the ills that followed from American rule
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR 107
were not so grievous as the ills inflicted by the ruhng
class of England. Grant all this and more. Still, is
it not true that if it had not been for the ruling class
of England, there would have been no occasion for a
war? Is it not true that the English people, if they
had been in control of their own government, never
would have harmed the people of America? When did
the English people, or any other people, ever harm any-
body? When did a thievish, murderous ruling class
neglect to harm any people whose plunder seemed pos-
sible and profitable?
The idea that the people of one country, if left to
themselves, would ever become embittered against the
people of another country, is absurd. Test this state-
ment by your own feelings. Are you so angry at some
Japanese peasant who is now patiently toiling upon his
little hillside in Japan, that you would like to go to Japan
and kill him? Is there any person in Germany whom
you never saw that you want to kill?
Of course not. But if you are a " patriotic " Ameri-
can citizen, you may some day cross a sea to kill some-
body. If you believe in " following the flag," the flag
may some day lead you into the hell of war. If you
believe " it is sweet to die for one's country," you may
some day be shot to pieces. But if so, you will not die
for your country. Your country wants you to live.
You will die for the ruling class of your country. If
you should expire from gunshot wounds in Mexico, you
might die for Mr. Guggenheim, or some other noble
citizen who will be far from the firing line. Wherever
you may die from war-wounds, you will die to put more
money into somebody else's pockets.
It has always been so. Wiiy did we go to war against
England in 181 2? Because the English people had
io8 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
wronged us? The English people, left to themselves,
never Avronged anybody. We went to war with Eng-
land in 1812 because the ruling class of England, then
deep in the Napoleonic wars, were holding up American
ships upon the high seas to take off alleged British sub-
jects and jam them into the British Navy.
\ Such action, of course, was harmful to American
pride, but really it did not deeply concern the American
.working class. Most of the workers lived and died
without ever having seen a ship. Nevertheless, the
American working class was summoned to the slaughter.
My paternal great-grandfather, a humble farmer in the
Hudson River Valley, was drafted into the ranks, and
to this day I honor him because he would not go without
being drafted. And, when the war was ended, the work-
ing class of America was worse off than it was before.
So was the working class of England. Some were
dead. Some were shattered in health. The living lived
less well because they had to pay the cost of hell. The
impressment of alleged British subjects upon the high
seas ceased only because Great Britain chose to end it.
The treaty of peace contained no stipulation that she
should end it. Thus ceased this criminally stupid war,
which never would have begun if the people of Eng-
land, instead of a small ruling class, had ruled their own
The war with Mexico was so monstrous that General
Grant, who fought in it, denounced it in the strongest
language at his command. In the second chapter of
the first volume of his " Memoirs," after characterizing
the Mexican War as " unholy," he says :
"The occupation, separation and annexation" (of Texas) "were,
from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a con-
spiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR 109
for the American Union. Even if the annexation itself could be
justified, the manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon
Mexico cannot. . . . The Southern Rebellion was largely the
outgrowth of the Mexican War."
Do you get that? Two wars caused by slavery.
Seven hundred thousand men killed. Twenty billion
dollars' worth of wealth either destroyed outright, or
consumed for interest upon the public debt, or paid for
And for what?
To settle the question of slavery.
To settle the question of slavery that the men who
framed the national Constitution, most of whom were
slaveholders, permitted to exist.
To settle the question of slavery, which, never for
one moment, during all of those intervening years, was
anything but a curse even to the white working class.
And, what is chattel slavery? Merely a method of
appropriating the products of the labor of others. Who
were interested in maintaining it? Certainly not the
working class, no member of which ever owned a slave.
The capitalist class of the South was interested in it,
because its holdings were agricultural, and slave-labor
was well adapted to agricultural undertakings. The cap-
italist class of the North was not interested in maintain-
ing chattel slavery, because the investments of Northern
capitalists were chiefly in industrial undertakings, for
which black slave labor was not well suited. Yet, the
North never seriously objected to slavery, as such. Men
like Wendell Phillips, who did object to slavery, as such,
were mobbcrl in the North. If the North, like the
South, had been, so far as the great capitalists were
concerned, an agricultural country, there is no reason
y^hatevcr to suppose that tlic North would not have been
no THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
in favar of chattel slavery. What the North most ob-
jected to was the effort of the South to extend slavery
into new states, as they were admitted. The Southern
aristocracy, in this manner, sought to prevent the loss
of its hold upon the government. The Northern capital-
ists also desired to gain control of the government.
When the addition of new free states stripped the South
of its political supremacy, the South went to war. The
North resisted the attack to save the Union.
Remember, that is why the North went to war — to
save the Union, which had been attacked. It was not
to free the slaves and end slavery. We have this upon
the authority of no less a man than Lincoln. Lincoln
once sent word to the South that if it would permit him
to put one word into a peace-treaty, he would let the
South put in all the others. The one word that Lincoln
said he wanted to put in was " union," Lincoln was
opposed to slavery, but he was not so much opposed to
it that he wanted to fight about it. It was only after the
South had fought Lincoln almost to a standstill that he
rose above the Constitution and destroyed an institution
that was not even mentioned in the Constitution — much
less prohibited by it.
That is what the Civil War was about — chattel
Something that would not have existed if men had
not first existed who wished to ride upon the backs of
Something that would not have existed if the repre-
sentatives of the ruling class who drafted the Constitu-
tion had not been eager that it should persist.
Something that never for a moment benefited the
Yet, the working class fought the war — on one side
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR iii
to preserve slavery for the benefit of others; on the
other side to maintain a union under which white men
and black men alike are always upon the brink of pov-
Seven hundred thousand men followed the Stars and
Stripes and the Stars and Bars — to bloody graves.
Not one of them would have been killed in war if the
common people of each section had ruled each section.
The common people never owned slaves. They did well
if they owned themselves.
And now we come to the Spanish-American War.
We believe it was fought to " free Cuba." We believe
it was fought to " avenge the Maine." Don't take too
much for granted. Even Senator Nelson, of Minne-
sota, declared in the United States Senate in 1912 his
belief that the war with Spain was fomented by Ameri-
cans who held large interests in Cuba. He also de-
clared his belief that the Sugar Trust was trying to
foment another revolution for the purpose of bringing
about annexation and thus ridding itself of the 80 per-
cent, tariff that is now levied upon American sugar.
But there is more to the story. To this day, there is
no proof tliat the Maine was destroyed by Spaniards,
Cubans, or anyone outside of her. For fourteen years
the government of the United States did not seem to
want to know. The Maine, with the bones of 200 or
300 workingmcn aboard her, was permitted to lie in the
mud of Havana harbor where she sank. And, when
the wreck was tardily raised, nobody was able to say
that the ship was not destroyed by the explosion of her
own magazines. Now, the hull of the old ship is down
far in the ocean, with no hope tliat the facts will be
But the interests that wanted war had no doubt of
THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
the facts in 1898. Their newspapers thundered their
theory every day. The Maine had been destroyed by
Spaniards! We must "Remember the Maine." We
did remember the Maine, but we forgot ourselves. We
forgot to be sure we were right. And, even if we were
right, we forgot that the kilHng of a few thousands of
Spanish workingmen w^ould be no fit punishment for the
crime of the Spanish ruhng class that wrecked the Maine.
We also forgot to watch what Wall Street was doing
at the time. Read some paragraplis from the New York
Tribune of April i, 6, 9 and 20, 1898:
" Mr. Guerra, of the Cuban Junta, was asked about the Spanish-
Cuban bonds against the revenues of the island. He replied that he
did not know their amount, which report fixed at $400,000,000. . . ."
" These bonds are payable in gold, at 6 per cent, interest, ten years
after the war with Spain had ended. . . ."
" The disposition of the bonds of the Cuban Republic has been a
question discussed in certain quarters during the last few days, and
the grave charge has been made that the bonds have been given
away indiscriminately in the United States to people of influence
who would therefore become interested in seeing the Republic of
Cuba on such terms with the United States as would make the bonds
valuable pieces of property." (Kindly note that the bonds would be
worth nothing unless Spain were driven out of Cuba.) "Men of
business, newspaper, and even public officials, have been mentioned
as having received these bonds as a gift. . . ."
" A congressman said in the house on Monday that he had $10,000
worth of Cuban bonds in his pocket, while H. H. Kohlsaat, in an edi-
torial in one of the Chicago papers, charges the Junta with offering
a bribe of $2,000,000 of Cuban bonds to a Chicago man to use his
influence with the administration for the recognition of the Cuban
"Mr. Guerra made the somewhat startling statement that a man
representing certain individuals at Washington has sought to coerce
the Junta into selling $10,000,000 worth of bonds at 20 cents on the
dollar. ' This man practically threatened us that unless we let him
have the bonds at the price quoted, Cuba would never receive recog-
nition. He said he was prepared to pay on the spot $2,000,000 in
American money for $10,000,000 of Cuban bonds, but his offer was
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OE .WAR 113
You probably do not remember these items. Per-
haps, at that time, Hke many other citizens, you were too
busy " remembering the Maine." If so, what do you
think of these items now? Do they mean anything to
you? Do they offer any explanation as to why this
government, after having paid little or no attention to
six rebellions in Cuba during a 50-year period, suddenly
determined to *' free Cuba " ?
In any event, remember that whatever Spain did to
Cuba was done by the ruling class and not by the peo-
ple of Spain. The ruling class was bent upon the rob-
bery of the Cubans. The people of Spain did not profit
from the robbery. Nor was the working class of the
United States helped by the expulsion of Spain from
Cuba. The Sugar Trust and some other great Ameri-
can interests were helped, but the American working
class was not. The working class had only the pleasure
of doing the fighting, the dying and the bill-paying.
The American working class profited no more from
the war with the Philippines, which was fought solely
to provide a new field for the dollar-activities of Ameri-
can capitalists. There is no American workingman who
now finds it easier to make a living because of the gen-
erally improved conditions brought about by the war
with the Philippines. General conditions have not been
improved. They have been made worse to the extent
that the cost of the war is a burden upon industry. If
working-class interests had been consulted, the war never
would have been waged. No working class interest was
involved. The workers had everything to lose, includ-
ing life, by going to the front, and nothing to gain. But
they " followed the flag " — and some of them never
came back. They stayed — six feet under ground —
that the Tobacco Trust, the Timber Trust, and many
114 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
other great capitalist interests might stay on the islands
above the ground.
Look wherever you will, you cannot find a working
class interest that should or could cause workingmen to
slaughter each other. Nor is this situation new. It is
as old as war itself. It is a fact that men of sense and
honesty have always recognized. Tacitus said:
" Gold and power are the chief causes of war."
Dryden, the poet, said: " War seldom enters but where
And Carlyle, in this striking fashion, showed the utter
absence of working-class interest in war:
" To my own knowledge, for example, there dwell and toil in
the British village of Dumrudge, usually some five hundred souls.
From these, by certain ' natural enemies ' of the French, there are
successively selected, during the French war, say, thirty able-bodied
men. Dumrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed thent.
She has not, without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to man-
hood and even trained them up to crafts, so that one can weave,
another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under
some thirty stone, avoirdupois.
" Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are se-
lected, all dressed in red and shipped away, at public expense,
some two thousand miles, or, say, only to the south of Spain,
and fed there till wanted.
" And now, to the same spot in the South of Spain, are sent
thirty similar French artisans — in like manner wending their
ways, till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into
actual juxtaposition, and thirty stand facing thirty, each with a
gim in his hand. Straightway the order 'Firel' is given, and they
blow the souls out of one another; and, in the place of sixty brisk,
useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, which it
must bury and anew shed tears for.
"Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the devil is, not the
smallest! They lived far enough apart; were the entirest stran-
gers; nay, in so wide a universe, there was even, unconsciously,
by commerce, some mutual helpfulness between them.
" Simpleton 1 Their governors had fallen out, and, instead of
shooting one another, had these poor blockheads shoot."
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR 115
That is the cause of war between nations — " the gov-
ernors fall out." And who are the governors? No-
body but the representatives of the ruling class, who
clash in their race for plunder and deceive w^orkingmen
into doing their fighting for them.
Now, let us go back a bit. You may recall that I said
that the ruling capitalist class uses government as a two-
handed claw with which to pull golden chestnuts out of
the fire. One hand of this claw is the power to make
and enforce laws. The other hand — the power to
^vage war — is used to grab what cannot be grabbed
with laws. Wars between nations illustrate one form
of effort to get what laws cannot give. Here is an-
The United States is dotted with forts, arsenals and
armories. Far in the interior, where, by the widest
stretch of the imagination, no foreign army could come,
we see these grim reminders and prognosticators of
war. Under the Dick Military Law, the President of
the United States, without further legislation, can com-
pel every man in the United States, between the ages of
18 and 45 years, to enlist in the militia of his state and
serve under the orders of the President of the United
States. The President, therefore, has it in his power at
any time to raise an army of about 12,000,000 men and
place them in the field.
What for? To fight a foreign foe? Not much.
The Constitution of the United States forbids the Presi-
dent to make war against a foreign nation without the
explicit authorization of Congress. But the Dick Law
authorizes the President to raise this enormous army
and to command it.
Here is the question. At whom is this enormous po-
tential army aimed? Why is the land strewn with ar-
ii6 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
senals and armories that could be of little or no service
in a foreign war?
To quote a word from Carlyle, " Simpleton," do you
not know that all of these arrangements are made to
shoot you if the capitalist class should ever decide that
you should be shot? Nor, have you never noticed
against whom the state militia is invariably used?
If you have noticed none of these things, perhaps it'
would be well for you to wake up. The militia of the
states is practically never used except to beat down work-
ingmen who have revolted against the outrageous
wrongs heaped upon them by their employers. Ameri-
can workingmen do not readily revolt. Nowhere are
they any too prosperous. Millions believe from the bot-
toms of their hearts that they are being robbed. Yet,
they keep on. Only when they are ground into the
dust, as they were by the Woolen Trust at Lawrence,
or by the Coal Trust in Pennsylvania, do they rebel.
Please, therefore, note this monstrous situation :
Under the laws of the land, the capitalists have a
right to grind their employees as deeply into the dust as
they can grind them.
While this process is going on the national and state
troops are quite still. But when human nature, unable
to bear up longer, explodes and a few window panes are
broken, the troops come scurrying to the scene. Sol-
diers fill the streets, citizens are ordered this way and
that, guns are fired recklessly, perhaps a man or two or
a woman or two are killed ; the soldiers deny the killing
and charge it to the strikers themselves, and eventually
the strike is broken.
Can you recall when the militia of a state was re-
cently used for anything else?
Now, we Socialists do not believe in violence, even by
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR 117;
strikers. We are supposed to be greedy for blood, but
we are not. We do believe, however, the best way to
end violence caused by robbery is to end the robbery.
We believe it is contemptible for a government to be
blind to robbery so long as it proceeds without an out-
cry from the victim. We believe it is criminal for the
government to shoot the victim simply because, in his
distress, he breaks a pane of glass in the factory or mill
in which he was robbed. We can understand why such
crimes are committed, because we know that the same
capitalist interests that control industry also control gov-
ernment. But, understanding the offense does not make
us approve it. We are against the great crime of war,
whether it be practiced upon a huge scale abroad, or upon
a small scale at home.
But the President is also opposed to war, the Czar of
Russia is also opposed to war, and the German Emperor
is also opposed to war. No Socialist can outdo any of
these gentlemen in deploring war. The smallest Social-
ist, however, outdoes any of these gentlemen in making
good upon his declaration. Socialists will not go to
war. They will not join the army, the militia, or the
navy. All over the world this is true. They preach
against war in season and out of season. They
preach against anything that tends toward war.
They preach against dressing little boys as soldiers and
calling them " scouts." And wherever Socialists hold
seats in national legislative bodies, their attitude is ** No
men ; no money." They will vote for no bill that seeks
to draw another man or another dollar into the horrible
game of war.
Those who do not understand us, or who do not want
us to be understood, charge us with lack of patriotism.
If blood-letting for dollars be the test of patriotism,j we
ii8 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
certainly are not patriotic. We refuse to kill men for
money, either for ourselves or for any one else. Nor
do we believe that Frenchmen, Englishmen, Germans or
any others are less our brothers than are Americans.
We regard all nationalities and races as members of the
great human family. We want this family to live in
peace. We preach peace. We live peace. i
But how can there be peace when great groups of cap-
italists are contending for profits? How can there be
peace when great groups of capitalists controlling their
respective governments, build great fleets and muster
great armies to struggle for trade and profits? How
can there be peace when these same capitalists, through
their control of government, teach even school children
that the warrior's trade is glorious and that the citizen's
duty is to "stand by the flag"? Our flag has often
stood where it had no moral right to stand. It has stood
for the wrongs of capitalism when it should have stood
for the rights of the people. Our flag will always stand
for the wrongs of capitalism, so long as capitalism con-
trols the government.
In such circumstances, there can be no assured peace.
Peace tribunals, like that of The Hague, may be estab-
lished until their sponsors are black in the face, but still
there will be no peace. There can be no peace. Profits
prevent. The gentlemen who attach themselves to these
tribunals want peace — if. Peace if it can be main-
tained without hurting profits. Peace if it can be main-
tained without restraining capitalistic brigands who wish
to descend upon the property of others. Peace if it
can be had without price.
So war continues in a world that is weary of war.
Heavier and heavier becomes the burden of armaments.
The workingman staggers under the weight of the
SOCIALISM THE LONE FOE OF WAR 119
foiirteen-inch gun. The workingman may go hungry.
The gun must be fed.
"Whether your shell hits the target or not,
Your cost is six hundred dollars a shot.
You thing of noise and flame and power,
We feed you a hundred barrels of flour
Each time you roar. Your flame is fed
With twenty thousand loaves of bread.
Silence ! A million hungry men
Seek bread to fill their mouths again."*
Only one machine can smash this gun, and that is the
printing press. The greatest gun can shoot only twenty
miles or so. The Socialist press can shoot and is shoot-
ing around the world. When the working class controls
its printing presses, war will end.
Do you really want war to end, or is a string attached
to your wish? If you mean business, you can help end
it. But if you want the privilege of aiding in this great
work for humanity, you will have to vote the Socialist
ticket. It is the only ticket that always and everywhere
is sternly against war, as the Socialist party is the only
party opposed to the profit system that makes w^ars.
I cannot close this chapter without calling the atten-
tion of readers to a book entitled " War — What For? "
by Mr. George R. Kirkpatrick. It is published by the
author at West Lafayette, Ohio. Between darkness and
daylight, one night, I read it all. I can never forget it.
If all the world had read it, there would be no more war.
♦P. F. McCarthy, in the New York World.
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICAL " POLITICIANS
A" RADICAL " politician, when he Is not an utter
fraud, is a well-meaning man who lacks either
the courage or the insight to do well. He can see
wrongs, but he cannot see rights. Or, if he can see
rights, he dare not do right. Always, there is some
reason why he should not do right. The people are
not ready. The time is not propitious. Thus does he
appease his conscience, betray his followers and destroy
Abraham Lincoln, during all except the last two years
of his life, was such a man. I sometimes feel that this
is why so many modern " radicals " believe they are sec-
ond Lincolns. They seem to remember Lincoln only as
he was when he was too small for his task. Mr. Roose-
velt, in particular, is suspected of harboring the belief
that he is a second Lincoln. In a way and to a degree,
Mr. Roosevelt is right. The ground upon which Mr.
Roosevelt now stands is broadly comparable to the ground
upon which Mr. Lincoln stood before he signed the
Emancipation Proclamation. Mr. Lincoln hated chattel
slavery, but was willing to end the war with slavery in-
tact. Mr. Roosevelt hates the robbery of man by man,
but he shrinks from trying to seize the club with which
the robbery is committed. He is willing to pick at the
splinters upon the club, precisely as Mr. Lincoln was
long willing to content himself with efforts to restrict
the evil of slavery. And, Mr. Roosevelt, picking at
splinters, is no more useful in destroying poverty than
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 121
was Mr. Lincoln, when he picked at the spHnters of
chattel slavery. The Civil War came on, in spite of all
that Lincoln did, because he did no more than to tem-
porize with the evil that was destined to cause the war.
Mr. Roosevelt, even as the leader of a new political
party, is doing no more than to temporize with the
monstrous evil of unnecessary poverty in America.
Let us look, even more closely, into the life of Lin-
coln. The career of no other man of modern times is
so well suited to our purpose. We want to know
whether a " radical " like Roosevelt or Wilson should
be more highly regarded by the people than a revolu-
tionist like Debs or Berger. Lincoln, at different times
in his life, was both a " radical " and a revolutionist.
His " radical " beliefs put him into the White House.
One colossal revolutionary act put him into the hearts
of men. We Socialists feel that he nestles a little more
closely to our hearts than he does to some others.
When Lincoln ceased to temporize with chattel slavery
and struck it down, he became one of us. He actually
did to chattel slavery what we are trying to do to wage
The magnitude of this act, as well as the usefulness
of a mere " radical " politician, may be measured by
what Lincoln's life would have been without his name
at the bottom of the Emancipation Proclamation. Tra-
.dition has it that Lincoln became a radical upon the
.slavery question when, as a flatboatman upon the Mis-
sissipiji, he saw a ncgress sold upon the auction block at
New Orleans. Tradition has it that he said : " If I ever
have a ciiance to iiit slavery, I will hit it and hit it hard."
The fact is that when Mr. Lincoln began to get the
power to hit slavery, he did not hit it hard. He was a
" radical " politician and therefore could not hit it hard.
122 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
He was against slavery, but he was also against any-
thing that would end slavery. In the phrase of our
time, he wanted to " regulate " slavery. Men like John
Brown and William Lloyd Garrison wanted to end
slavery and advocated means that would have ended it,
but Lincoln, though he hated slavery as much as they
did, wanted only to restrict it. He was " radical."
Brown and Garrison were revolutionary. Lincoln meant
well. Brown and Garrison were determined to do well.
But after Lincoln, even as President, had continued
to temporize with slavery; after he had sent word to the
Southern leaders that if they would let him write intc^
a treaty of peace the one word " union " he would let
them write all of the other words, including " slavery "
— after all of this, there came a change, and Lincoln
ceased to be a " radical." Then, and not until then, did
he strike the blow that in his youth he declared he would
strike if ever the opportunity should come. With only
the briefest words he laid the Emancipation Proclama-
tion before his cabinet.
" I do not lay this before you for your advice," he
said, " but only for your information. I have promised
my God that I will do this, and I shall do it."
Thus spoke the revolutionist. The time for " radical-
ism " had passed. Slavery, during half a century of
*' radicalism," had expanded. Having the power to kill
chattel slavery and daring to use it, Lincoln killed chat-
tel slavery. He put himself into the hearts of men. He
wrote his name so big in history that the names of all
other men since his time seem small.
Yet Lincoln, if he had been content to remain merely
a " radical," could have performed no service for his
country worth while, and Fame would have missed him
])y many a mile. If the South had won, the North
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 123
would have blamed Lincoln. If the North had won,
without destroying chattel slavery, nothing would have
been settled, and Lincoln would have been given the
credit for settling nothing. Lincoln's greatest opportu-
nity to serve his country lay in doing precisely what he
did, and it is to his eternal glory that he had both the
understanding and the courage to do it.
' The times again call loudly for such a man. Chattel
slavery is dead, but a greater slavery has grown up in its
place. Wage slavery is as much greater than chattel
slavery as the white people in this country are more
numerous than the black people. Poverty is widespread
and the fear of poverty is all but universal. No one
knows how much longer he will have employment. No
one can know how much longer he will have employ-
ment. A few own all of the machinery without which
we cannot be employed. These few have it in their
power to say whether we shall be permitted to earn the
means of life. We may want to work as much as we
please, but we cannot work unless they please. They do
not please to let us work unless they believe they can see
a profit in so doing. Tliat we need work means noth-
ing to those who own the great industries of the coun-
try. Nor does the fact that the people need the things we
could make. They consider only the question : " Is there
profit in it?" By their answer, we eat or hunger, live
Such times could not help but call for great men, even
in little places. The times call for great men to take
charge of municipal affairs, lest the poor shall be tor-
tured with bad tenements and robbed of their last nick-
els by little grafters while greater grafters are taking
their dollars. The times call for great men in state
offices, in judicial positions, in Congress and in the White
124 .THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
House. But, in response to the White House call, who
answered in 1912? Mr. Roosevelt answered. Mr. Wil-
Socialists do not regard either Mr. Roosevelt or Mr.
Wilson as a fraudulent " radical," in the sense that they
believe either of them to be intent upon wantonly fooling
the people. We regard Mr. Roosevelt as being some-
thing of a self-seeker. We regard him as the embodi-
ment of inconsistency. We know that when he was
President he never tried to do some of the things that
he later promised to do if we would again make him
President. We know he does not now promise to try
to take away the club with which robbery is committed.
He is still picking at the splinters, taking care to lay no
hand upon the club itself. And, so far as concerns Mr.
Wilson, we regard him as an amiable, cultured gentle-
man, who, meaning well, as he doubtless does, lacks the
imderstanding without which he can not do well. We
also call attention to the fact that immediately following
Mr. Wilson's nomination he began to placate the great
grafters. He invited them to his home to hold counsel
with him. And, in his speech of acceptance, he all but
laid himself at their feet. He said nothing worth say-
ing. He confined himself to platitudes. He swore al-
legiance to the " rule of right " as applied to govern-
ment, without giving the slightest indication of his defini-
tion of right. Wall Street applauded him. Stocks went
up. But would stocks have gone up if Wall Street had
believed that, under Wilson, grafters w^ould not be per-
mitted to continue to rob you ?
We Socialists may be extremely absurd persons, but,
as we look about us, we see two or three things that
should be done at once.
We believe every man should have the continuous
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 125
right to work. We believe this right should be guaran-
teed by law. The law prohibits stealing and vagrancy.
Why should not the law, therefore, guarantee the right
to avoid the necessity for becoming either a thief or a
We also believe that after a man has worked he should
not be robbed. We believe if nobody were robbed, there
would be in this country neither millionaires nor paupers.
From the fact that there are in this country so many
millionaires and so many paupers or near-paupers, we
deduce that the extent of the robbery of the many by the
few is appalling.
We want this stopped. We don't demand that it be
stopped a hundred years hence — we demand that it be
stopped now. We are interested in our posterity, but
we are also interested in ourselves. We want to enjoy
life a little. This world looks good to us. We know
it could be good to us. We demand that it shall be
good to us. Nor are we appeased by the promise of
some " radical " like Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Wilson that
if we will elect him President, he will try to make the
world a little less bad for us. The promise of a i per
cent, or a 5 per cent, reduction in robbery constitutes no
blandishment. We demand a 100 per cent, reduction in
robbery. We are tired of robbery. We mean to end
it. We shall end it. We cannot fail, because we have
a weapon with which the robbed class never before
fought. We have the gigantic printing press. Our an-
cestors had a puny press, or none at all. We shall
carry our word far. Wherever our word goes it will
wake. Sooner or later, the robbed will understand.
Then robbery will cease. Millions of people who under-
stand how to stop robbery will never consent to let a
few continue to rob them.
126 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Such is our demand — a lOO per cent, reduction in
robbery and the right of the individual to continuous
work. Yet, so far as we know, we want no more than
is wanted by every other man who is not robbing any-
body. We know of no man who is wilHng to be denied
the right to work. We know of no man who is wilhng
to be robbed. We differ from you RepuljHcans and
Democrats only in this: You seem to be willing to take
an eternity to end robbery and secure a guarantee to the
right to labor. We tell you that if you take an eternity
to get these rights you will never get them. We also
tell you that with either Mr. Wilson, Mr. Roosevelt or
any other so-called " radical " in the White House the
working class will remain poverty-stricken.
These gentlemen want to make you an omelette, but
they do not want to break any eggs. They are afraid
to break eggs. Breaking eggs means destroying the
great fundamental laws that capitalists use to rob you.
iYet, how are you ever to have an omelette unless eggs
are broken? How can you be helped without hurting
those who are now hurting you?
Make no mistake — anything that will make it much
easier for you to live by working will make it much
harder for capitalists to live without working. Pick-
ing at the splinters of this poverty-problem will not do.
The wrong is great; the remedy must be equally great.
Anything that will not hurt the capitalist class much
will not help you much.
Between you and the capitalist class there can be no
So long as either of you exists, there can be only war.
You will continue to fight for the right to live.
The capitalist class will continue to refuse you the
right to live except at the price of a profit.
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 127
This ultimatum, which has never appealed to your
stomach, will some day not appeal to your brain.
You will begin to ask questions.
You will ask if you were born only that Mr. Morgan,
Mr. Armour or Mr. Ryan might be made a little richer.
You will ask if it is right that you should die when
you can no longer make others richer.
Your common sense will tell you that you were not
born to make anybody richer.
Your common sense will tell you that you have a
right to live, whether anybody be thereby made richer.
And, when that time comes, you will be in no mood
to listen to the remedies of " radical " gentlemen like
Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Wilson.
You will no longer want wage slavery " regulated "
— you will want it destroyed.
You will call for another Lincoln to destroy wage
slavery as the first Lincoln destroyed chattel slavery.
And your call will be answered, because you will an-
swer it yourself.
You will place in office not only a man but men' who
will work your will. You will know what you want
and you will get it, because you will know how to get it.
The reason you have never gotten what you want is
because you have never known how to get it. You want
the right to work without being robbed. You do not
seem to realize that it is the existence of the capitalist
system that causes you to be robbed. In an indefinite
.sort of way you seem to believe that it is possible for a
small class of bond-holders and share-holders to live in
luxury without working and, at the same time, take noth-
ing from the product of your labor. If dividends grew
upon one tree and wages upon another, your belief would
be justified. But, inasmuch as dividends and wages
128 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
grow upon the same tree, yonr belief is not justified.
Both are the products of your labor. If the bondholders
Avere to take everything you produce, you would have
nothing. If you were to take everything you produce,
the bondholders and other capitalists would have noth-
Such being the fact, what possible benefit can come to
the American people through the election to the Presi-
dency of Woodrow Wilson? Mr. Wilson is not op-
posed to the capitalist system. He believes one class
should own all of the great industries of the country
while another class toils in them. Believing thus, he
necessarily believes no man has a right to work, how-
ever sore may be his need, unless some other man thinks
he can see a profit in hiring him. If he did not so be-
lieve, he would not have stood for the Presidency upon
the Democratic platform. The importance of securing
to each individual the right to work would have pre-
vented him from so standing. He would have pro-
claimed to the country an amendment to the platform
in some such words as these :
" // you elect me President, I will urge the passage
of a law that will make it a felony for any capitalist to
refuse work at wages representing the market price of
the product, except at such times as his steel plants, rail-
roads, or other industries, are running at fidl capacity."
He would also have added:
" When a man's right to work is involved, I care not
whether the man who hires him makes a profit or not.
Life comes before profits. Work comes before life.
J am for men."
Not one word of which Mr. Wilson ever said. Mr.
Wilson believes in profits first and life, if at all, after-
ward. He may not believe he does, but he does. That
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 129
is what his attitude amounts to. He wants both profits
and life if we can get them. But if either must fall, it
must be life. Life must always fall when work falls.
Mr. Wilson stands for absolutely nothing that will put
the worker's right to work before the capitalist's greed
for profits. Let him or any of his friends point out a
word in his platform, or any of his public utterances,
to the contrary. There is no such word, because it has
never been spoken or written by Mr. Wilson or anybody
who is back of him or in front of him.
More astounding do these facts become as we con-
sider them. Here is a great nation, eager to earn its
bread. Of the many millions who compose this nation,
not one in ten ever has or ever will receive a profit upon
anything. More than nine-tenths of our many millions
are wage-laborers or farmers. Naturally, they care
nothing about profits. If everybody were continuously
employed at good wages, and the balance-sheets, at the
end of the year, should show not one dollar left for
dividends, nobody except the capitalists would shed a
tear. So little does the working class really care about
profits. So convinced is the working class that the right
to work, together with the right to be protected from
robbery, should come ahead of everything else. Yet
this very working class that cares nothing about profits;
that cares and needs to care so much about the continu-
ous right to work; that cares and needs to care so much
about the right to be protected from robbery — this
very working class gave Mr. Wilson almost every vote
Do the people of America know how to get what they
The people of America want the continuous right to
I30 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Mr. Wilson offers them fine phrases about the " rule
of right " — phrases that Wall Street applauds because
Wall Street knows such phrases mean the continued rule
The people of America want the right to be protected
from robbery, and Mr. Wilson offers them an anti-trust
plank, in which they are solemnly assured that if they
will only wait until Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Morgan and
other similar gentlemen are in jail, they will be very
Is it not absurd? Indeed, it is not. It is pitiful. It
is pitiful that a people should so long have been kept in
ignorance of both the nature of their social malady and
its cure. Yet, how could they be otherwise than ig-
norant? They depend for such information upon their
newspapers, magazines, public officials, and public speak-
ers. Until recently, almost all of these sources were
poisoned against the people. They were poisoned
against the people because they were controlled, in one
way or another, by the capitalist class. They are still
almost all poisoned in the interest of the capitalist class.
The truth about Socialism is carefully suppressed. The
false is carefully put forward. Wrongs are admitted,
but rights are not recognized. The people are robbed,
yes — but who robs them? Why, the trusts and the
high-tariff gentlemen, certainly. Therefore, if we lower
the tariff and place the trust gentlemen in jail, we shall
Nobody seems moved to recall whether we were happy
when the tariff was low and there were no trusts.
Nobody seems to recall that the working class has
never been happy; that it has always been the prey of a
master class which has resorted first to one method and
then to another to plunder. In fact, nobody but Social-
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 131
ists seems to do any serious thinking until his favorite
" radical " President has passed into history without
doing the slightest thing to alleviate poverty.
Grover Cleveland was regarded, each time he was
elected, as radical. In Cleveland's day, not to be in
favor of highway robbery in office was regarded as
proof of radicalism. That is why Cleveland's dictum
that " a public office is a public trust " attracted national
attention. It was a new note. But in neither of Cleve-
land's terms did he do anything to improve the condition
of the American people. They were as poor when he
finally left office as they were when he first took office.
Moreover, there was good reason for their poverty.
Cleveland never lost an opportunity to betray them. He
sold bonds in secret to Mr. Morgan to the great profit
of Mr. Morgan and the great loss of the American
people. He hurled troops against strikers and placed
thousands of deputy United States Marshals under the
orders of railway managers who were trying to prevent
their employees from obtaining living wages.
Benjamin Harrison was never regarded as a radical,
but in 1888 he was regarded as an improvement upon
Cleveland. After Plarrison had done nothing for four
years, Cleveland was believed to be an improvement upon
Harrison. Four years more of Cleveland were enough
to send iiim out of office with the condemnation of every-
body but the grafters in both parties.
Business revived somewhat under the Presidency of
McKinley, but the revival was not so much due to any-
thing that Mr. McKinley did as it was to the fact that
the time had come for the pendulum to swing back from
panic to " prosperity." Nor did the revival solve the
problem of poverty. Nothing was settled because nf)th-
ing was changed. Not so many men were denied the
132 TI-IE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
right to work, but those who worked toiled only for a
" full dinner pail." They paid all they received to live
poorly. Only their employers fared wonderfully well.
For them there was real prosperity.
Which brings us to Mr. Roosevelt and his Progressive
Mr. Roosevelt was the first President of the type that
is now regarded as " radical." He held office seven
years and a half. He had " a perfectly corking time."
He did business with all of the bosses, including Hanna,
Quay, Cannon, Payne, Aldrich and a host of others, but
we have his word for it that his intentions were good.
Maybe they were. For the sake of argument, let it be
granted that they were. Let it be conceded that he be-
lieved the things he did would enable the average man
to earn a living more certainly and more easily. Still,
is it not a fact that the things he did failed to accomplish
what he expected they would?
Is it not a fact that it is to-day more difficult for most
persons to make a living than it was when Mr. Roose-
velt became President?
Is not the cost of living vastly more?
Are not more millions of men out of work?
Is there not greater uncertainty with regard to con-
tinuity of employment?
Are not more men, women and children living upon
the hunger line, or close to it?
Each of these questions must be answered in the
affirmative. Mr. Roosevelt, himself, would not dare,
even if he were so inclined, to answer them in the nega-
tive. The facts are notorious and scandalous. They
are scandalous because poverty, in this rich country, is
Yet, Mr. Roosevelt is not wholly to blame. He is
,WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 133
only partly to blame. A President is not the govern-
ment. He is only part of the government. As part of
the government, Mr. Roosevelt advocated measures,
some of which were enacted into law, that he believed
would do good. Subsequent events have proved that
he was in error. The measures he believed would help
have not helped. If they had helped, times would be
better than they were, instead of worse.
Therefore, we are brought face to face with these
" // Air. Roosevelt, during seven and one-half years
in the White House, coidd do nothing to make the con-
ditions of the average man's life easier, how long should
we have to elect him President in order to give him
time to do something worth while F
" If we were to elect him for life, are you sure that
the rest of his lifetime would he long enough?
" In any event, are you prepared to wait so long to
Mr. Roosevelt's friends, following this thought, re-
ply that he is not the same man that he was when he
left the White House; that he has grown, with vision
No, he is not the same man. The American people
have forced him into the advocacy of some things.
They have forced even some Socialist measures upon
him. The initiative, the referendum and the recall are
Socialist measures. For a good many years, Mr. Roose-
velt tried to damn them with faint praise combined
with a medley of doubts and strangling provisos. But
after these measures, in one winter, fought their way
into every state capitol west of the Mississippi, as well
as into some of the state capitols of the East, Mr. Roose-
velt saw a great light. Then he became in favor of them.
134 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
When Mr. Roosevelt was President he had nothing"
to say against the courts. He criticised individual
judges, as he criticised Judge Anderson of Indianapolis,
whom he called " a damned jackass and a crook." But
Judge Anderson, be it remembered, had just decided
against Mr. Roosevelt in the libel suit that he brought
against several newspapers because of articles reflecting
upon the part played by himself and others in the ac-
quisition of the Panama Canal property.
Now Mr. Roosevelt is convinced that our judicial sys-
tem is in need of reform. In reaching this opinion,
however, he is somewhat late. The courts are no longer
popular. The people have not yet begun to strike at
them, but they are watching them out of the corners of
their eyes. Mr. Roosevelt senses the situation and re-
sponds with a proposition to give the people the right to
recall, or set aside, the decisions of state courts. He
says nothing about giving the people the right to recall
the decisions of the United States Supreme Court,
though he must know this court is the chief judicial
offender. Yet we are asked to believe that Mr. Roose-
velt, in belatedly joining the fight against the tyrannical
power of the courts, is but giving proof of the greatness
to which he has grown and the increased fearlessness
with which he fights.
The women of the country have forced Mr. Roose-
velt into the advocacy of woman suffrage. Mr. Roose-
velt used to say that Mrs. Roosevelt was " only luke-
warm " toward woman suffrage, and that his interest in
it was the same. After the women of California gained
the ballot, and Mr. Roosevelt again became a candidate
for the Presidency, he changed from " lukewarm " to
very hot. From that moment, woman suffrage became
not only a right, but a necessity. Of course, the fact
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 135
that women vote in several western states that he hoped
to carry had no part whatever in changing his opinion.
Mr. Roosevelt is not that kind of a man.
Mr. Roosevelt's 1912 platform — or "contract with
the people," as he calls it — bristles with new devices and
new plans for the public good. Some of Mr. Roosevelt's
plans would probably help a little — provided he could
get a Congress that would put them into effect, and
courts that would declare them constitutional. Mr.
Lincoln probably could have helped the black slaves a
little if he had made it a legal obligation upon slave own-
ers to provide each negro, semi-annually, with a red neck-
tie and a paste diamond. Mr. Lincoln might have gone
even further and provided that each negro should be sup-
plied, during the water-melon season, with all the melons
he could eat. Instead, he wrote the Emancipation Proc-
Mr. Roosevelt's present political program is by no
means an emancipation proclamation to the American
people. It unties no knots, nor cuts any. It bristles
with Socialists' phrases, but it does not bristle with So-
cialist remedies. " This country belongs to the people
who inhabit it " — an assertion that appears in Mr.
Roosevelt's platform — is a Socialist phrase. But Mr.
Roosevelt's method of giving the people their own is not
Socialistic. The Socialist method is to give it to them.
tMr. Roosevelt's method is to appoint " strong " commis-
'sions to regulate the country that the people own, but
do not control or enjoy. Again and again in his plat-
form Mr. Roosevelt fervently advocates a " strong "
commission to do this or do that.
If the word " strong " in a platform were sufficient to
make a commission " strong " in action we might expect
the commissions that Mr. Roosevelt advocates to be as
I3'6 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
strong as any commission can be that is trying to regu-
late other people's property.
But we do not believe the word " strong " in a plat-
form makes a commission strong. Mr. Roosevelt, al-
ways preaching strenuosity, nevertheless appointed, dur-
ing his Presidency, some exceedingly poor officials.
Since Mr. Roosevelt, the originator of " strong " com-
missions as a cure for the poverty that is produced by
robbery, failed as he did, what should we expect from
such commissions if they were appointed by Presidents
of the ordinary Wall Street stripe?
Simmered down, Mr. Roosevelt's Progressive Party
stands simply for this: We are still to have trusts and
tariffs, but only such trusts and tariffs as Mr. Roosevelt
wants. We are still to have a master class who own all
of the industries and a servant class who do all of the
work, but masters and servants must conduct themselves
as Mr. Roosevelt provides. Masters may still hold out
for profits and servants may die for lack of opportunity
to work, but so long as Mr. Roosevelt, at Armageddon, is
" fighting for the Lord," what of it?
Such is not Mr. Roosevelt's reasoning, but it might as
well be. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Wilson, like all other
" radical " politicians, are incapable of rendering any
great service to the American people for the simple
reason that they do not strike at the great wrong. The
great wrong is the ownership, by a small class, of the
great class's means of life. A people who cannot sup-'
port themselves without asking the permission of others
are little more than slaves. We are such a people.
" Radicals" who promise, if given power, to free us,
only mock us. Such gentlemen are not radicals at all.
The word " radical " is derived from a Greek word
meaning " root." A real radical is one who goes to the
WHY SOCIALISTS OPPOSE " RADICALS " 137
roots of things. But radicals like Mr. Roosevelt and
Mr. Wilson go to the roots of nothing.
The only way to go to the root of anything is to go
Lincoln went to the root of the chattel slavery ques-
When he had finished, the chattel slavery question was
no longer a question — it was a corpse. After wasting
years of his life as an anti-slavery " radical " he became
an anti-slavery revolutionist and destroyed slavery.
Lincoln, during the last two years of his life, became a
real radical. A real radical and a revolutionist are but
different names for the same thing.
The working class is suffering from robbery. The
working class has always suffered from robbery.
Never has there been a time when a little crowd of graft-
ers were not feeding upon the workers.
In the beginning, the working class were held as
chattel slaves, the only possible cure for which was the
utter destruction of chattel slavery.
Then the workers became the serfs of feudal lords,
the only possible cure for which was the destruction of
Now the toilers are robbed by the private ownership
of the means of production, the only possible cure for
which is the destruction of such ownership and the sub-
stitution of public ownership through the agency of gov-
No tinkering will do. Tinkering could not and difl
not settle the white man's or the black man's slavery
question. Nothing but the absolute destruction of the
capitalist system can remove the poverty, the ignorance,
the crime and the vice that are inevitable products of the
1 38 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
But do not expect capitalists to remove this system for
yon. They will not.
You never saw a tiger feed its prey. You never saw
a burglar mend a victim's roof. You may see both of
these sights some day. H you should, you may, perhaps,
prepare yourself to behold the more marvelous spectacle
of the capitalist class financing the campaign of a genuine
radical who is bent upon taking the capitalist class off
But until you see a tiger feeding Its prey, you may well
ask yourself whether " radicals " whose campaigns are
financed by great capitalists are radical enough to do you
Certainly one side or the other is always doomed to
disappointment; either the capitalists who put up the
money or the workers who put up the votes. The cap-
italists are still doing quite well. Are you?
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION
ALMOST anyone can make anybody believe anything
that is not so. It is only the truth that makes poor
headway in this world. Our national motto seems to be :
" When there are no more blunderers or liars to be heard,
let us listen to common sense."
The anthracite coal situation is a case in point. So
long ago as 1902 this situation had become maddening.
As the result of a prolonged strike to obtain living wages
for the miners, the country, at the beginning of winter,
was threatened with a coal famine. So serious was the
situation that a " Get-Coal Conference " was held at De-
troit. Among the delegates were Victor L. Berger, the
first Socialist congressman, and a number of other So-
cialists. These Socialist delegates told the conference
what to do. They said :
" Go into politics. Make the governmental ownership
of the coal mines and the railroads a political matter.
Take over the ownership of these mines and railroads
and operate them for the benefit of the people, rather tlian
for the benefit of millionaires. Do that and you will
have solved your coal problem."
But that was the truth, mind you. As truth, it had no
chance of acceptance at that time. Truth never has a
chance the first time, the second time or the third time.
Truth has attained its great reputation for rising every
time it is crushed only because it has been so often
I40 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
And the truth that these men spoke in Detroit years
ago was forthwith crushed, not only in Detroit, but all
over the country. What was the use of believing? Were
there not plenty of blunderers about? Were there not
plenty of blind alleys in which to go?
Indeed, there were. The people went into one of them.
Or, rather, they remained in the blind alley in which they
had long been. That was the blind alley of private own-
ership of the coal mines and railroads. Plenty of blind
men could see a delightful opening at the end of this blind
alley. They were very sure that it led somewhere. It
must lead somewhere. Certainly, no great difficulty
could be encountered in managing these millionaires.
The Inter-State Commerce Commission would fix them
if nothing else could fix them. If the Inter-State Com-
merce Commission should prove too weak for the task,
the courts would not prove too weak. At any rate, there
was no danger ahead. It was entirely safe to leave the na-
tion's coal supply in the hands of a few men who had al-
ready abundantly proved their disinclination to treat
either their employees or the public honestly.
For ten straight years thereafter we fought the Coal
Trust in the courts. We enjoined it, we indicted it, we
prosecuted it. To what purpose? To no purpose. In
1 912, the United States Supreme Court brought an end
to the proceedings by handing down a decision that was
said to be a " great victory " for the Government. But
it was one of those great anti-trust victories that do not
hurt the trusts nor help the people. This " victory " did
not hurt the Coal Trust. The price of coal did not go
down a nickel. On the contrary, the prices of coal road
stocks immediately w^nt higher. Wall Street knew the
decision would not interrupt the Coal Trust in its plun-
dering, and backed its opinion with its money. Wall
TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION 141
Street quickly realized what we have not yet fully realized
— that the court had prohibited only a certain method
of stealing, while leaving the trust free to adopt any one
of a hundred other methods, each of which is as suitable
to its purposes as the method that has been put under the
The trust lawyers quickly juggled out one of the hun~^
Jdred other methods of stealing and the robbery of the
people continued as if there had been no decision by the
United States Supreme Court. Immediately, there was
a loud demand from the " radical " press that the anti-
trust law be so amended that it would prohibit the new
form of robbery. Again the Socialists repeated their
W'arning against reliance upon laws that seek to regulate
trusts. Again the Socialists urged the people to settle
the coal question for all time by owning and operating
the coal mines and the railroads that carry the coal to
the people. Between the advice given by Socialists and
the advice given by radicals, there was all the difference
that there is between night and day. The " radicals "
advised the people to leave the coal in the hands of a few
multi-millionaires and then fight in the courts to get it
back. The Socialists assured the people that if they
would take possession of their own coal they would not be
compelled to fight to get it back. But the advice given
by the Socialists contained too much truth to find ready
acceptance. There being not fewer than a hundred ways
in which the trust could rob the people, it seemed so much
more reasonable to let the trust try these various ways,
one by one, and prosecute the trust gentlemen for each
separate form of robbery. Ten years were required to
" win " the anti-trust case that was finally decided in
191 2, so we shall require at least 1,000 years to obtain
supreme court decisions prohibiting a hundred different
142 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
inclhods of Coal Trust robbery. But good, able " radi-
cal " gentlemen assured the people that the way to kill
the Coal Trust was to choke it with court decisions and
the people believed what they were told. Almost always
the people believe what they are told unless what they are
told is true. It is only the truth that must fight its way
in this world. So many powerful, selfish persons are al-
ways eager to foist the lie that feathers their nests.
Truth is always besmirched by those whom it would de-
stroy, and too often despised by those whom it would
Thus we have a naked view of two classes of men - —
the anthracite coal operators and their victims. The coal
operators are conscienceless robbers. They hold within
the hollows of their hands the anthracite coal supply of
this country. They own it or control it as you own or
control a gas range that you have bought or rented. The
coal supply of this country is their property. And though
you must draw upon it or freeze in winter, you cannot
have a pound of coal except at their price. And their
price is always all they believe they can get out of you
without a riot. The cost of production does not matter.
Your necessities do not matter. They want all they can
These naked millionaires are not attractive persons.
Who would be an attractive person if Jie had their
power? Are you so sure you would be an attractive
person if you had their power? Do not be too sure.
Give any man such an opportunity to squeeze millions
out of a people and it is very likely that he will squeeze
them. There is little or nothing in this " good man,"
" bad man " theory. The blackest Coal Trust magnate
is just what you and the Coal Trust have made him. If
anything, you are more to blame than he. He gets all
TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION 143
of his power from the laws. And the men whom you
elect make the laws. They make the laws which say
that a few men — or, so far as that is concerned, one
man — may own all of the anthracite coal mines in the
These laws are certainly very comfortable for the Coal
Trust gentlemen. If you are satisfied, they are. If you
don't move to change them, they will never move to
change them. But, if you are fit to cast a ballot, you
know that the present conditions can never be changed
until the laws that made the conditions are changed.
Let us now take a close view of the Coal Trust vic-
tims. You are one of them. You are tired of the Coal
Trust. You have no sort of notion that it is anytliing ex-
cept the robber concern that everybody believes it to be.
Yon would be much better pleased if the government
owned the mines. You would be still better pleased if
the government owned not only the mines but the rail-
roads that carry coal from the mines. You know that in
the Panama Canal Zone, where the government sells all
of the supplies, the cost of living is much less than it
is here. You believe all of this and more. But wliat
are you doing to translate your belief into accomplished
You are doing nothing. Tlie only way in which you
can translate tliis beh"cf into accomplished fact is to ex-
press your belief in political action. You must vote for
that which you believe. You must support a political
party that advocates the ownership by the government of
the coal mines and the railroads. If you vote for a party
that believes in permitting the ownership of the coal
mines and the railroarls to remain where it is you are vot-
ing for the Coal Trust. TIow long do you believe it will
take you to beat the Coal Trust by voting for the Coal
144 TPIE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Trust? Do you know of any way in which the Coal
Trust can be beaten except by voting against it?
Of course, the newspapers that you read will tell you
there are other ways of beating the robber Coal Trust tlian
by voting against it. They will tell you that the Coal
Trust can be " regulated " or indicted and convicted into
decency. Ask your newspapers what makes them think so.
We have many great trusts in this country — has a single
one of them ever been regulated into decency? Have
they been so ruthlessly pursued in court that they were
willing to be decent ? You know the answer. You know
there is not a decent great trust in the country. You
know that every attempt to drive them into decency has
failed. Yet your newspapers have the impudence to tell
you that it is not necessary that the government should
own the anthracite mines and the railroads.
It would be difficult to imagine a more amazing situa-
tion. Here we have in this country two sharply con-
trasted classes of opinion.
One opinion is that institutions like the Coal Trust
should be regulated or destroyed — compelled to go back
The other opinion is that institutions like the Coal Trust
can neither be regulated nor compelled to break up into
small parts and compete.
The men who hold the first opinion can not point to a
single instance wherein their belief has been justified by
events. The men who hold the second opinion have only ,
common sense with which to back up their assertion that,
if the government owned the coal mines and the rail-
roads, Coal Trust magnates and railway multi-million-
aires could not rob us.
But in this instance, as in all others where the robbery
of the many by the few is concerned, truth is put upon the
defensive. The grafters, as they might naturally be ex-
TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION 145
pected to do, not only shower upon the truth-tellers their
scorn and derision, but even the people who are being
robbed are doubtful or suspicious. They are not so cer-
tain that if robbers be stopped robbery will be stopped.
They suspect the statement that, if nothing be taken from
something, something will remain untouched. They
want us to prove, not only that two and two make four,
but that nothing from four leaves four.
But they don't ask the " regulation " send-them-to-jail
gentlemen to prove anything. When these grafters say
two from four leave four nobody expresses a doubt. Ev-
erybody is ready to believe that that which has never been
done can be easily done. Few are ready to believe that
that which might easily be done can be done at all.
The public attitude toward the Coal Trust and the
railroads constitutes possibly the only exception to this
rule. The Coal Trust and the railroads have so wronged
the people that the people would doubtless welcome their
ownership by the government. H the people were to vote
directly upon the question : " Shall the government take
over the ownership of the anthracite coal mines and the
railroads?" it is probable that the affirmative majority
would be not less than two to one. Yet, notwithstanding
the fact that the coal question can be solved only with
ballots, the Socialists are the only ones who seem ever to
try with their ballots to solve it. The rest of the people,
while opposed to the conditions that exist, vote the tickets
/of parties that are pledged to maintain the conditions
Every man who voted for Wilson, Roosevelt or Taft
voted to keep the coal supply of the nation in private
hands and the railroads in private hands.
Those who voted for Mr. Wilson voted to " destroy "
the Coal Trust and " send the trust magnates to prison."
Those who voted for Mr. Roosevelt voted to permit the
i4<5 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Coal Trust to continue to own the nation's coal supply,
provided only that it be " good." Otherwise, a " strong "
commission appointed by Mr. Roosevelt would proceed to
administer " social justice."
Those who voted for Mr. Taft voted to break the Coal
Trust into bits.
Candidly, let us ask, did either of these plans suit any-
body? Is there anybody who would not have vastly pre-
ferred tliat the government take over the ownership of the
anthracite coal mines and operate them for the benefit of
the people? A plan of governmental ownership and op-
eration would have settled the coal question instantly. A
government that can dig the Panama Canal can dig
But there is no likelihood whatever that Mr. Wilson's
plan to destroy the Coal Trust and all other trusts will
settle the coal question at all. The Coal Trust cares
nothing for courts. Mr. Hearst attacked the Coal Trust
more vigorously in the courts than any President ever at-
tacked any trusts in the courts. Mr. Hearst came out of
court absolutely empty-handed. He gained a few paper
victories, but he gained no substantial victory. He never
halted for a moment the upward flight of the price of
Mr. Wilson, if he try ever so hard, can do no better.
So long as the principle of the private ownership of the
lantliracite coal fields is admitted — and Mr. Wilson ad-
jmits this principle as fully as does anybody — nothing
can be done. Corporations can be split up into bits, it is
true, as the Standard Oil Company was split up, but what
do such splits amount to? Absolutely nothing. The
ownership is not changed. The dominating owners con-
tinue to handle the pieces as they formerly handled the
TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION 147
Suppose Mr. Wilson try to enforce the criminal clause
of the Sherman Anti-Trust law and put the coal magnates
into jail ? Suppose he try to compel the component parts
of the Coal Trust actually to compete with each other.
What will happen?
This will happen. The component parts of the Coal
Trust will refuse to compete. The men who are at the
head of the coal companies are business associates of long
standing. They know each other well, and they know
well that none of them can make any money by fighting
any of the others. So, when one gentleman announces
a schedule of coal prices, none of the others will undercut
him. All of the other coal companies will announce the
same prices, because the owners of each company will
also be the owners of all the other companies.
Did you ever stop to consider what position the gov-
ernment will then be in? Will not its hands be tied?
Can the government go into court and demand that the
other companies cut their prices? Suppose the other
companies say they cannot cut their prices without losing
money ? Suppose the other companies say nothing at all,
except : " This coal belongs to us. We have quite as
much right to fix our own price upon it as has the govern-
ment to fix its own price upon postage stamps. That
other coal companies have fixed the same price we have
is no more the government's business than it is because
several grocers fix the same price upon sugar, bacon, tea
It will then be up to the government to prove that the
idcnticality of prices is the result of conspiracy. If con-
spiracy cannot be proved, the government can do nothing.
In such a case, the government would never be able to
prove conspiracy. The coal operators would not con-
spire over the telephone, or on the street corners. There
148 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
would be little for tlieni to conspire about, anyway. All
of them would be financially interested in all of the com-
panies, precisely as Mr. Rockefeller is financially inter-
ested in all of the constituent companies of the Standard
Oil Company. The matter of price-fixing would proba-
bly be left to the dominating personality of the group,
precisely as it is now left, more or less, to the strongest
man among them. And, the prices he fixed would speed-
ily become the prices of all.
Thus do we perceive a peculiar feature of the human
mind. Individually, we know what we should like to do
about the Coal Trust and the railroads. We know we
should like to own and operate them. But collectively we
know no such thing. We do not get together. We act
as if that which each of us believes were believed by no
other than himself. We are like butter that will not
" gather " or bees that will not " hive."
There is every reason why we who are paying out-
rageous prices for coal should get together on the matter
of public ownership. The cost of mining coal is less than
$2 a ton. In 1902 Mr, George F. Baer — the "Divine
Right " gentleman — testified that the cost was $2, and
some other witnesses testified that it was as low as $1.43
a ton. Probably no one but the coal magnates know
exactly what the cost is, but now and then a fact leaks
out that is illuminating. Such a fact was discovered in
191 2 by a staff correspondent whom the New York
World sent into the coal regions.
The World man found that the Coal Trust sells coal
to its employees at a reduced price. This is not philan-
thropy, because if the Coal Trust charged full price for
coal, it would soon be compelled to pay the miners more
wages — they live like dogs, and not much more can be
taken from them until it is first given to them. At any
TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION 149
rate, the World man found that the price of coal, to min-
ers, is only $2 a ton.
Now, it is fair to assume that the Coal Trust is not
losing any money on the $2 coal that it is selling to its
employees. It is more likely that it is making a nickel
or two. At any rate, $2 a ton may be considered the ex-
treme limit of the cost of mining a ton of anthracite.
Whenever the people of this country are ready to listen
to the truth about the coal question, the retail price of coal
can quickly be more than cut in two. The actual cost of
mining coal and transporting it to any point within 500
miles of the mines probably is not more than $3 a ton.
If the people, through the government, owned and oper-
ated the mines, the government could afford to sell coal
at this price, plus the local cost of delivery. The wages
of the miners could be doubled — as they should be —
and coal could still be sold by the government at $5 a
ton. In any calculation about the coal problem, the min-
ers should not be forgotten. The Coal Trust will never
take care of them, but they have a right to demand that
they shall be taken care of.
The business of mining coal is dangerous and disagree-
able to the last degree. Coal miners, when they are at
work, seldom see the day. They go from the night of the
surface to the night of the mines. They breathe such
dust as never blew in the filthiest street. When a fall of
slate comes or an explosion of firedamp, their mangled
bodies are all that is left for their weeping widows and
orphans at the mouth of the mine. If they escape death
by accident, they cannot escape the death that comes from
the unhealth fulness of their calling. No life insurance
company wants much to do with a coal miner except at
the highest rates. No tuberculosis exhibit is complete
without the blackened lungs of a coal miner in a jar of
I50 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
alcohol. There is nothing for a coal miner when he is
alive but a cheerless existence of the greatest drudgery —
and nothing for iiini Avhcn he is dead but an unmarked
grave on the hillside. Yet 76,000 human beings thus
spend their lives in the antln-acite coal mines, and hun-
dreds of other thousands in the bituminous mines. All
of this great toll of human misery that the nation may
If the nation could not get along without coal, there
might be some excuse for this colossal sacrifice. Even
then, it would be hard for those who might be compelled
to make the sacrifice and, if we were to be fair about it,
we might have some difficulty in determining who should
go to the mines and who should go to the opera. If we
were to be fair about it, perhaps some of those who now
go to the opera would go to the mines sometimes. But
the nation could easily get along without sending any-
body into the mines. Water power and fuel oil will do
everything that coal is now doing.
Please consider the water power question. In a report
made to President Taft in 1912 by Commissioner of Cor-
porations Herbert K. Smith, these statements appear:
Steam and gas engines are creating in this country ap-
proximately 19,000,000 horsepower.
Water wheels, in this country, are developing 6,000,000
The water power of this country, capable of develop-
ment, is approximately 19,000,000 horsepower.
These statements mean that there is enough undevel-
oped water power in this country to more than take the
place of every coal-burning steam engine. This water
power, if converted into electricity, would do everything
that steam does and more. It would run machinery. It
would light streets. It would heat houses. Moreover,
TRUTH ABOUT THE COAL QUESTION 151
the water power, once developed, would not have to be
dug out of the ground every year. " White coal," as the
Italians call water power, is mined by the sun and thrown
into the furnace by the force of gravitation. Raih'oads
need not haul it. Nobody need deliver it. It hauls and
But that is not all. If there were not an ounce of water
power in this country, still we should not be dependent
upon coal for heat and power. Oil will burn quite as
well as coal — in fact, a good deal better. Dr. Rudolph
Diesel, of Munich, in 19 12 declared before the Institute
of Mechanical Engineers in London that exhaustive re-
searches had indicated the presence of as much oil in the
globe as there is coal ; that new oil fields were constantly
being discovered, Borneo, Mexico and even Egypt, in
addition to other known lands, containing great fields;
that " the world's production of crude oil had increased
three and a half times as rapidly as the production of
coal, and that the ratio of increase was becoming steadily
Why tlien do we continue to burn coal ? For the same
reason that we continue to do a number of other foolish
things. Because we do not manage this country in which
we liv^e. The men who are managing it are managing it
for profit. If there were a greater profit for the Coal
Trust in switching from coal to water power or oil they
would switch us quickly enough. If we were to change
to oil, it would be a simple matter to lay oi) pipes in the
streets precisely as we now lay water and gas pipes, and
heat our houses witli oil sprays blown into our furnaces
with jets of steam. Certainly, there w^ould be no diffi-
culty in heating houses from a central heating plant that
burned oil. Plenty of western cities have such central
heating plants now tliat burn coal. And the idea is a good
152 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
one, too. The central plant decreases the danger of fire,
besides doing away with dust and the necessity of shovel-
ing coal into the furnace of each house.
But gentlemen like the Coal Trust barons figure this
way: "We have a certain amount of money invested
here. We arc looking only for tlic highest rate of inter-
est that we can get upon our investment. We might serve
the people better if we were to turn to water-power de-
velopment or the burning of oil, but it is doubtful if we
should obtain a greater rate of interest upon our invest-
ment. Certainly, we should lose a lot by junking our
coal mines, as we should be compelled to do if we were
to prove their worthlessness — so, we'll just keep on
dealing in coal."
And, the people of the United States, through their
failure to " get together " politically behind some party
that stands for what they all want — the people of the
United States are getting the worst of it.
If the people of the United States want their govern-
ment — which is actually themselves, though they do not
seem to know it — if the people of the United States
w^ant their government to take over and to operate the coal
mines solely for the benefit of the people of the United
States, they can do it simply by standing together and
talking and voting for what they want.
In the meantime, it would be a splendid thing for the
country if the Coal Trust w^ould increase the price of coal
a dollar a month until such time as the people become
enough interested in their own problems to solve them.
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS
STOCK market reports do not show a relationship
between deathbeds and dividends. Such a relation-
ship exists, however. In this country, many are made to
die miserably in order that a few may live magnificently.
Every year, more than half a million human beings are
compelled to die in order that a few thousands may make,
every year, perhaps half a billion dollars. More than
three millions are kept sick in order that a handful may
be kept rich.
This is not mere rhetoric. It is fact. Irving Fisher,
Professor of Political Economy at Yale, and President of
the Committee of One Hundred on National Health, is
one of the authorities for the figures. In his report on
national vitality, to the Conservation Commission, he de-
clared that in this country, every year, 600,000 human be-
ings die whose lives might be saved ; that there are con-
stantly 3,000,000 ill who might be well.
Dr. Woods Hutchinson, New York physician, endorses
these estimates. Moreover, the estimates are confirmed
by the actual experience of New Zealand. New Zea-
land's dealh-rate is 9.5 to the thousand. Our death-rate
is 16.5 to the thousand. If New Zealand's population
were as great as our own, the number of deaths each
year, under her present rate, would be 630,000 fewer than
the number of Americans who die each year. Yet the
climate of New Zealand is no more healthful than is that
of America. New Zealand simply does not sacrifice her
people to private greed. America docs.
154 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Plenty of laymen know liow typhoid could be made a
dead disease. Germany has already made typhoid all
but a dead disease in Germany. Yet, in this country, tu-
berculosis, typhoid and other diseases that could easily be
prevented, are permitted to go on, killing their millions.
Why? Because capitalism stands in the way. Be-
cause deathbeds could not be decreased in number without
decreasing dividends in size. Because we can reduce the
death rale only by acting through our governments —
national, state and municipal — and big business, rather
than ourselves, controls these governments. Big busi-
ness, desiring to keep the special privileges it has and to
get more, puts men into office whom it believes will do its
bidding. Usually, these men know nothing and care
nothing about promoting the public health. They are
politicians. If they do know something about promoting
the public health, and attempt to apply their knowledge at
the expense of somebody's dividends, there is a fight. If
it is a disease-infected tenement that it is desired to tear
down, the injunction is brought into play.
Such a situation seems appalling. It is appalling. It
borders upon the monstrous that a people who have at last
learned how to prevent the great diseases should not be
permitted to apply their knowledge. That the people
endure such a condition can be explained only on the
theory that they realize neither the ease with which mod-
ern science could extend their lives, nor the identity of the
few who put dividends above life.
In order that there shall be no doubt concerning the
power of present knowledge, if applied, to destroy some
of the great diseases and cripple others, I shall set down
here a question that I asked of Professor Irving Fisher,
Dr. Woods Hutchinson, and Dr. J. N. McCormack. Dr.
McCormack is an eminent physician, who devotes his
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS 155
entire time to lecturing throughout the United States, un-
der the auspices of the American Medical Association
and the Committee of One Hundred. His topic is the
advisability of applying modern knowledge to the public
health problem. Here is the question :
" If you had the power of a czar, could you destroy tu-
berculosis and typhoid fever, and also greatly reduce the
number of deaths from pneumonia?" ' ,
Professor Fisher and Dr. McCormack replied promptly
in the affirmative. Evidently, I might as well have asked
Dr. Hutchinson if, having a glass of water, he could
drink it. He was most matter of fact. Without a doubt,
tuberculosis could be destroyed. So could typhoid fever,
which is solely a filth disease that no one can get without
eating or drinking matter that has passed through the
stomach of a typhoid victim. Parenthetically, I may say
that I heard Dr. Hutchinson tell a committee of the
United States Senate that if a National Department of
Health were established and properly administered, half
of the crime would cease in twenty-five years. Dr.
Hutchinson also said that it was entirely possible to save
the babies that died from preventable diseases — dysen-
tery, for instance. The lowest estimate of the number
of babies who die every year from preventable diseases is
Ask the same question of any physician in the country
who is worth his salt and he will give the same answer.
Thus well known are the methods by which the great dis-
eases might be destroyed.
The way to wipe out tuberculosis quickly, for instance,
would be to destroy every habitation that is known to be
hopelessly infected — and there are many such — permit
no habitation to be erected without provision for suf-
ficient sunlight and air; permit no factory or other work-
156 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
place to be erected without sufficient provision for sun-
lij;ht and fresh air — and destroy such workplaces as now
exist without this provision; reduce the cost of living so
that the millions who now cannot afford to live in sani-
tary homes and buy adequate food could do so ; isolate
the infected and educate the people with regard to the
necessity of sleeping with their bedroom windows wide
If this program were put through, tuberculosis would
cease as soon as those who are now infected should either
have recovered or died. It is because such a program
has not been put through that, according to Professor
Fisher, there are always 500,000 Americans suffering
from tuberculosis, and the annual death-roll from the dis-
ease is 150,000. Any municipal government, if it were
disposed to do so and the courts were willing to let it do
so, could put through the housing part of the program
in a single summer. The dangerous habitations could
be condemned. The government, if necessary, could
build and rent at cost, sanitary houses in the suburbs, as
the government of New Zealand does for its people.
Congress, the President and the courts, if they were dis-
posed to do so, could reduce the cost of living. If the
government can teach farmers by mail how to prevent
hog-cholera, there would seem to be no reason why it
should not teach human beings by mail to breathe fresh air
both night and day.
What stands in the way of immediately putting through
such a program? Nothing in the world except the men
whose property would be destroyed, or whose stealings
in food-prices would be stopped. The property loss
would be enormous. (Think of calling the destruction
of a lot of death-traps a " loss.") The " value " of the
property destroyed might be a billion dollars. Maybe it
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS 1157
would be two billions. What difference need it make if
it should take five billion dollars' worth of labor, lumber,
bricks, steel and other materials to replace death-traps
with life-traps? One hundred and fifty thousand lives
would be saved every year from tuberculosis alone, and
the rebuilding operations would create greater prosperity
for labor than was ever created. by any act of Congress.
A hundred years ago, no one knew how to startip out
tuberculosis. What good does it do us to know how?
We are not permitted to apply our knowledge. We can
peck away if we want to, at the edge of the problem, but
we mustn't strike at the middle. If we should, we might
cut somebody's dividends. We might interfere with the
" vested interests " of the owners of the cellars in which
25,000 New York families live, or with the owners of the
101,000 windowless rooms in which New Yorkers live,
or with the owners of the unsanitary houses and factories
in other cities. Our public officials know better than to
try to do anything really radical in the health line. They
have condemned just enough pestholes to know how dan-
gerous it is to political prospects to grapple with property,
and enforced just enough of the factory laws to know
how dangerous it is to try to enforce factory laws at all.
In New York City, according to Tenement House Com-
missioner Murphy, 45 persons are burned alive every
year in death-trap tenements. A new tenement-house
(law prohibits the erection of death-traps, and in the new
jtenements there are no cremations. But the old death-
traps are pcrmiltcd to stand. In ten years, 450 more per-
sons will have been burned alive. In 10 years, 1,500,000
more Americans will have died from tuberculosis.
"Of the people living in the United States to-day,"
.snifl J. Pease Norton, Assistant l^rofcssor of Political
Economy at Yale, " more than 8,000,000 will die of
158 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
tuberculosis." Between the ages of 20 and 30, every
third death is from consumption, and, at all ages, the
mortality from the same disease is one in nine.
We now censure ancient kings for having slaughtered
men in war for private profit. But what ancient king
ever made such a record in war as our dividend-takers
make in peace? What ancient king, in his whole life-
time, ever slew 8,000,000 men? What modern war
marked the end of so many men as tuberculosis kills in a
year? During the four years of the Civil War, only a
little more than 200,000 men were killed in battle. Tu-
berculosis kills 300,000 Americans every two years.
Other diseases that could be prevented if dividends were
out of the way bring up the total of avoidable deaths in
this country to 1,200,000 every two years.
What if our Government did nothing to end a war
that was killing 600,000 Americans each year? What
if a few contractors who were making millions out of the
war controlled elections, administrations and the courts
and would not let the government end the war?
What difference does it make whether foreign foes and
army contractors kill these millions, or whether domestic
dividend-takers and their governments kill them? Dead
men not only " tell no tales," but they have no prefer-
ences. It is as bad to be dead from one cause as from
" During the next ten years," said Professor Norton,
"more than 6,000,000 infants less than two years old
will end their little spans of life, while mothers sit by and
watch in utter helplessness. And yet this number could
probably be decreased by as much as half. But nothing
Dr. Cressey L. Wilbur, Chief Statistician for Vital
Statistics for the Federal Census Bureau, says that at
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS 159
least 100,000 and perhaps 200,000 children less than five
years old die in this country every year from preventable
Our national government freights the mails with circu-
lars telling how to cure hog-cholera and kill the insects
that prey on fruit trees; but in all the years since the
Revolutionary War, it has never sent a circular to a
mother telling her how to keep her baby alive. The
state and the municipal governments have done some-
thing, but they have usually stopped when they reached
the big money bags. Not a state or a city has made it
impossible for a baby to be given bad milk. Not a state
or a city has rid itself of unsanitary habitations. Not a
state or a city has condemned all the workshops in which
men and women work at the peril of their lives. Not a
state or a city has even enforced its own factory-inspec-
If the men whom big business has put in office were
even intelligently interested in public health, probably
50,000 babies could be saved each year without tearing
down a rookery or providing a single better house. A
little intelligent effort and a few thousand dollars would
Dr. Hutchinson tells what a little intelligent effort
and a few dollars did for the babies of the small English
city of Huddersficld. A few years ago a physician was
elected mayor. One of his first acts was to announce that
he woulfl give a prize of ten shillings to the mother of
every child born during the mayor's administration, pro-
vided the babies were brought to his office in perfect
health, on the first anniversary of their birth. The only
other stipulation was that no mother .should be eligible to
a prize who did not immediately report to the mayor the
birth of her infant.
i6o THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Though the prize was small, there was no lack of moth-
ers who were willing to be takers. The doctor-mayor
established what amounted to a correspondence school
for mothers, and, at the birth of each child, began to send
circulars telling how to take care of the baby; what to
feed it and what not to feed it ; what to do if the baby ap-
peared so-and-so — and so on. Moreover, he kept a city
physician on the circuit to look in at each home as often
as possible, to see how the babies appeared and give the
mothers further advice.
That's all there is to this story — except that he brought
down the death-rate for babies from 130 to 55 ; saved 75
babies each year to each thousand born. More than that
he helped the babies who would have lived anyway.
Good care, says the doctor, will increase the strength of
strong babies from 15 to 25 per cent.
Any American government could do as much. By
condemning unsanitary homes any American government
could do more. All that is necessary is the desire — and
the permission of those who control the governments.
The people that cast the ballots are willing to give the
permission, but the ballots they cast perpetuate the con-
ditions against which they complain. Otherwise, there
w^ould be no death-trap houses ; nor impure food ; nor ex-
tortionate food-prices ; nor unsanitary work-places. And
somebody would go to jail if an ice trust, desiring to crip-
ple competitors who might cut prices, should send ships
up a river to destroy the ice. It was brought out in
court that the New York Ice Trust did that. The ice
trust was convicted under the State anti-trust law. But
nobody is in jail. And ice is still selling at a price that
kills the children of the poor.
The only way to get iDig business on the side of public
health is to get public health and private profit on the
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS i6i
same side. Health makes efficiency, efficiency makes
profit, and whenever pubHc health can be bought at a
price that seems likely to yield a profit in efficiency, big
business will buy. That is the way Professor Fisher
figures it out and here is a case that he cites in point :
The girls in one of the Chicago telephone exchanges
that is located in a particularly smoky and dusty part of
the city complained to the manager of the smoke and
dust. He cheerfully advised them to forget the smoke
and dust and go on with their work, which, having more
hunger than money, they did.
A few months later a growing volume of complaints
against bad service caused the manager to investigate.
He found that the smoke and dust were interfering with
the operation of the switchboards. The little brass tags
were so gummed that frequently they did not fall when
subscribers called. Nor did the grime on the " plugs "
with which connections are made constitute a good me-
dium for the flow of electricity.
When the manager learned what the smoke and dust
were doing to his human machines he did nothing. But
when he learned what smoke and dust were doing to his
metallic machines he wasted no time. He laid the mat-
ter before his superiors, with the result that a plan was
installed for the filtration, through water, of every par-
ticle of air that entered the exchange.
It is not to the interest of big business as a whole that
the people should have pure food. The markets are
flooded with unwholesome food that an honest law,
honestly administered, would have barred. Professor
Fisher relates an incident that shows how afraid the big
meat dealers are of the pure food law.
The professor was sitting in the lobby of a hotel not
dibtant from New York. The proprietor of the hotel
i62 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
called up a New York meat dealer on the long-distance
'phone to complain that some bad beef had been sent to
the hotel. He said he had never yet fed his patrons on
rotten beef and he didn't intend to begin. The beef must
be taken away and the charge deducted from his bill.
The man at the other end of the wire evidently offered
no opposition, and the receiver was hung up. 1
Soon the telephone rang again. New York was on the
wire. The conversation was brief. All that Professor
Fisher could hear was the hotel man's single remark :
" I'll see what I can do and let you know."
The hotel man rang off and immediately called up a
local restaurant. Then Professor Fisher heard this
cheerful statement go over the wire:
" I've got some beef here that ain't just right, and
the New York people who sent it to me wanted me to
see if I couldn't sell it for them up here . . . Oh,
it'll hang together yet, but 'tain't what I want for my
people ; you might use it, though ... I don't know
what the price will be. You'll have to make your bar-
gain with them, but it won't be much. . . . All
right, send over and get it."
And this — and a thousand times more than this —
under the Pure Food Law! Such crimes could not oc-
cur if the government, when it tried to enact a decent
law, had not been thrown flat on its back. The pity of
it is that when big business and a government come into
collision over public health matters, the government is
usually thrown on its back.
" I doubt," said Dr. Hutchinson, " whether there is a
local health officer at any post of entry in the United
States who, if a case of plague, cholera or yellow fever
should appear on a ship, would not think three or four
times before he reported it. And if he did report it, as
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS 163
the law requires him to do, his act would cost him his
position. Business interests would cause his removal."
This is not mere talk. Nor is it simply prophecy.
It is history. So long as New Orleans was subject to
periodical outbreaks of yellow fever, the health authori-
ties were compelled not only to fight the disease, but
to fight the business interests that denied its existence.
Dr. Hutchinson says that business interests once caused
the removal of the State health officer of Louisiana,
merely because he insisted that yellow fever existed in
the State — which it did.
Dr. Hutchinson himself, as State health officer of
Oregon, in 1905-6, had to fight big business to conserve
public health. Big business whipped him. His experi-
ences were not novel, but one of them will be related
for the simple reason that it was not novel, and there-
fore shows the sort of opposition that health officers,
all over the land, are compelled to encounter.
Soon after taking of^ce Dr. Hutchinson began an in-
vestigation of the water supplies of the chief cities of
Oregon. His report showed that the water that private
corporations were serving to municipalities carried
Immediately the business interests of the State turned
their guns upon him. Through the newspapers, which
they controlled by reason of advertising contracts, they
denounced him as an " enemy of the State." " The fair
fame of the commonwealth " was being traduced by a
reckless maligner. He was even dared to show his face
in one city. An attempt was made to remove him from
ofTice, but the governor happened to be a man who could
not be browbeaten, and Dr. Hutchinson remained.
But while the business interests of Oregon were not
able to get the governor, they got somebody. The city
i64 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
officials ^vllo could have purified the water took no step
to do so. If they had merely recognized the existence
of infected water and urged the people to boil it, some
service would have been performed. But the municipal
officials upheld the " fair fame " of their various com-
munities by denying that the water was infected. Not-
withstanding their denials t3^phoid soon broke out. The
outbreak at Eugene, the seat of the State university, was
particularly severe. Several students died.
Yet the San Francisco plague case njust long stand as
the classic illustration of the manner in which business
fights government when a great disease comes. Black
plague — the deadliest known to the Orient ; a disease
that, more than once, has killed 5,ooo,0(X) persons dur-
ing a single outbreak — appeared in San Francisco in
1900. The local board of health quarantined the Chi-
nese district, and the news went out over the country.
The horror of horrors had arrived! The black plague!
It sent a shudder over the land.
It sent a greater shudder over the business interests
of San Francisco. These business interests quickly saw
visions of quarantines against the State and cessation
of tourist traffic. An appeal was made to a Federal
Judge to declare the quarantine illegal. He promptly
did so. In giving his decision, he went out of his way
to make this statement :
" If it were within the province of this court to de-
cide the point, I should hold that there is not now, and
never has been, a case of plague in this city."
The local board of health that discovered the plague
was removed, as was the State board of health that con-
firmed the prevalence of the disease. The governor of
the State sent a remarkable message to the Legislature
in which he denounced those who said plague existed in
DEATHBEDS AND DIVIDENDS 165
San Francisco, and appointed a committee of physicians
and big business men to go to the Cahfornia metropolis
and make an " impartial " investigation. The business
men on the committee included the biggest bankers and
merchants in California. They reported in the most posi-
tive terms that there was no plague.
Dr. Kinyoun, the Marine Hospital Surgeon in charge,
held his ground. Dr. Kinyoun was shortly transferred
to Detroit. His successor said there was plague. His
successor was shortly transferred to a distant city.
Of course, no one now denies that black plague was
in San Francisco precisely when Dr. Kinyoun said it
was. Even the eminent bankers and merchants who cer-
tified that it wasn't there admit that they were in
" error." It is nowhere denied that there were more than
200 cases. It is nowhere denied that there were more
than 100 deaths.
Such is the situation that has been imposed upon us by
a system that places private profits above human life.
Having painfully accumulated the knowledge with which
we could combat the great disease, we are unable to
apply it because we do not own and therefore cannot
manage our own country.
" We look with horror on the black plague of the
Middle Ages," said Professor Norton. " The black
plague was but a passing cloud, compared with the white
IF NOT SOCIALISM WHAT?
I HAVE never seen you, but I know you. Your
knuckles are bloody from continued knocking at
the door of happiness. The harder you knock, the
bloodier your knuckles become. But the door does not
open. It stands like an iron gate between you and
the desires of your soul.
What is the matter with this world? Was it made
wrong? Is it a barren spot to which too many have been
sent? After Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Morgan had been
sent, should you have been kept ? Is this their world and
are you an intruder here ?
You are not an intruder here. You know that. You
have as good a right here as anyone else. But perhaps,
nevertheless, this world was made wrong? If you had
the power to make worlds, could you make a better one ?
Could you make fairer skies? Could you make greener
fields? Could you improve the sun? Could you make
Perhaps you could do none of these things? If not,
what is the matter with this world? Look at it again.
Here it is — spinning beneath your feet as it has spun
since the dawn of time, and, never before, since the dawn
of time, has it been such a world as it is now. Never
before, since the dawn of time, was it so well suited to
your purposes as it is now.
Your ancestors enjoyed no material thing that they had
not wearily created with their hands. You need create
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT? 167
nothing with your hands. You need but to touch with
the tips of your fingers the iron hands that can make
what man could never make so well. Whatever ma-
chinery can make, you can have. And, to drive this ma-
chinery, you have the forces of the sun, as they come to
you in the form of steam and electricity.
Make no mistake — good, bad or indifferent as this
world may be, it is at least moving. None of your an-
cestors ever lived in such a world. And none of your
descendants will ever live in such a world as we live in
Edison once pictured to me the world that he already
sees dawning. It was a wonderful world, because it was
filled with wonderful machinery. Cloth would go into
one end of a machine and come out at the other end
finished suits of clothes, boxed and ready for the mar-
ket. Every machine, instead of making a part of a thing,
would make the complete thing and put it together. The
world would be smothered with wealth.
But there was one disquieting feature about his world.
There was not much room in it for men. Each ma-
chine, attended by but a single man, would do the work
of hundreds of men. Moreover, that one man need not
be skilled. He need be but the merest automaton. Only
the inventor of the machine need have brains.
Maybe Edison was dreaming. The easy way is to say
he was dreaming. I, who know him, have my doubts.
'Edison always dreams before he does, but everything
that he dreams seems pitifully small beside what he does.
He dreamed of the electric light before he made it, but
his dream was paltry beside the light he made. And, the
dynamo of his dream was a whccli)arr(jw beside the
dynamo that to-day sings its shrill srmg around the world.
This much, however, is not a dream. Some of the
1 68 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
automatic machinery that Edison spoke of is already
here. One man behind a machine is doing the work of
hundreds of men. Men are becoming a drug upon the
labor market. More than five millions are often out of
work. As invention proceeds, the percentage of the
population who cannot find work must increase.
What is going to become of these men ? Do you ex-
pect them to starve quietly? Do you believe they will
make no outcry? Do you believe they will raise no hand
against a world that raises both hands against them?
Moreover, what kind of a world is it in which the greater
the machinery, the greater the curse to the men who run
machinery? We do not yet live in such a world, it is
true, but if Edison be not in error, we shall soon live in
it? What shall we do when machinery does everything?
This may seem like a far cry, but it isn't. The germ
of the Socialist philosophy is contained in this one word
" machinery." Let us put the spot-light upon that word
and show everything that is in it.
Suppose there were one machine in this country that
was capable of producing every material thing that hu-
man beings need or desire. Suppose the machine were
so wonderfully automatic that it could be perfectly op-
erated by pushing a button, once a day, in a Wall Street
Beside this push-button, suppose there were another
button that operated all of the railroads in the country;
passenger trains automatically starting and stopping at
the appointed places; freight trains automatically taking
on and discharging their cargoes. Not a human being
at work anywhere.
Imagine also one man owning this great machine and
The rest of the race, if it were to remain law-abiding,
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT? 169
would be compelled to change the law or starve to death,
would it not? What else could the race do? Nobody-
would have any work. Nobody would therefore have
anything with which to buy. The single giant machine
might be capable of producing, with the push-button help
of its owner, more necessities and luxuries than the en-
tire race could consume. The automatic railway system
might be capable of delivering to every door everything
that everybody might want. The single owner might
have more billions of dollars than Mr. Rockefeller has
cents. But nobody else would have anything.
What I am trying to show is that the private owner-
ship of machinery is a gigantic wrong. If it were not a
wrong, the world would be helped by the private owner-
ship of a single machine fitted to produce every material
thing that the race needs. If the people owned such a
machine, there would certainly be no more poverty.
There would be no more poverty because the people
would get what the machine produced.
If this be plain, let us further consider the present sit-
We live in a wonderful world.
It is big enough and rich enough to enable everybody
in it to live in comfort.
But hundreds of millions throughout the world do not
live in comfort because the progress of the world has
brought relatively little to them.
They have no sliare of stock in the earth — somebody
who has a little piece of paper in his hand claims the own-
ership of the spot of earth upon which they wish to lay
their heads and charges them rent for using it.
Another little group own all of the machinery, hand-
ing out jobs here and there to the men who offer to work
for the least.
I70 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Nor is this a chance situation, A small class has al-
ways robbed the great class. It has been and is the rule
of the world. The methods of robbery have been
changed. IMcthod after method has been abandoned as
the people awakened to the means by which they were
being robbed. But robbery has never been abandoned.
The small, greedy, cunning class that will not be con-
tent with what it can earn is here to-day, playing the old
game with a new method.
Socialists declare the new method is to own the indus-
trial machinery with which all other men must work.
You may not agree with this. Probably you do not.
If you do not, will you kindly answer some questions?
Why do a few men, who will work with no machinery,
want to own all of the machinery in the country?
Would these men care to own any machinery if there
were not an opportunity in such ownership to get money?
Where can the money they get come from except from
the wealth that is produced by the men who work with
So long as a few men own all of the machinery, must
not all other men be at their mercy?
How can anyone get a job so long as the men who own
the machinery say he can have no job?
How can anyone demand a wage that represents the
full value of his product so long as the capitalist refuses
to pay any wages that do not assure a profit to him?
Mr. Roosevelt and some others would have you believe
that all of these wrongs can be " regulated " into rights.
They would have you believe that only " strong " com-
missions are necessary to make all of these wrongs right.
But Mr, Roosevelt and some others do not know what
they are talking about. This is not a matter of opinion
but a matter of fact. Men have talked as they talk since
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT? 171
robbery began. History records no instance of one of
them that made good. During all of the years that Mr.
Roosevelt was in the White House, he never appointed
a commission that was " strong " enough to make good.
We have it upon the authority of no less a man than
Dr. Wiley that 'Mr. Roosevelt's commission to prevent
the poisoning of food was not strong enough to make
good. The food-poisoning went on.
I mention Mr. Roosevelt's food commission because it
is a shining example of what his " strong " commission
theory of government cannot do. Mr. Roosevelt, un-
questionably, is and was opposed to the poisoning of
food. He appointed a commission to stop one kind of
poisoning. But, for reasons that you, as well as anyone
else, can surmise, the commission decided in favor of the
food-poisoners instead of in favor of the public. Which
brings us to this question: If Mr. Roosevelt could not
appoint a commission " strong " enough even to prevent
the poisoning of food, what reason have you to believe
that he or anyone else could appoint a commission strong
enough to prevent capitalists from robbing workingmen ?
You who oppose Socialism do so, no doubt, largely
because you believe the people could not advantageously
own and manage their own industrial machinery. We
who advocate Socialism reply that it is much easier to
manage what you own than it is to manage what some-
one else owns. The facts of history show that it is prac-
tically impossible to manage what someone else owns.
That is what we are trying to do to-day — and we
are failing at it. We are trying to manage the trusts.
Fight as we will, the trusts are managing us. They fix
almost every fact in our lives. They begin fixing the
facts of our lives even before we are born. They
determine even whether all of us shall be born. It
i;2 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
is a well-known fact that when times are bad, the
birth-rate decreases. Having the power to make bad
times, the trusts also have the power to diminish the
number of births. The trust panic of 1907 unquestion-
ably prevented thousands of children from being born.
No one can ever know how many, but we do know that
both marriages and births decreased.
In view of such facts as these, is it not idle to talk
about "regulating" the property of others? Is it not
stupid to believe that in such regulation lies our greatest
hope of material well-being? You must admit that, thus
far, the process of regulation has gone on painfully
slowly. If poverty, the fear of poverty and enforced
idleness are any indications of the progress of the coun-
try, it is difficult to see that we have made any progress.
Never before were so many millions of men out of work
in this country as there were during the panic of 1907.
Never before were so many millions of human beings so
uncertain of their future. A few men hold us all in the
hollows of their hands. Our destinies lie, not in our-
selves, but in them.
Is it not so? Don't be blinded by "commissions,"
political pow-wow and nonsense — is it not so? If it is
so, how much progress have we made toward getting rid
of poverty by trying to regulate property that we do not
own? We have been playing the game of " regulation "
for more than a generation. It has done nothing for
you. How many more generations do you expect to
live? Are you willing to go to your grave with this
pestilential question of poverty still weighing upon your
heart? Are you willing to go out of the world feeling
that you never really lived in it — that it was only a place
where you toiled and sweat and suffered while others
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT? 173
We Socialists put it to you as a common-sense affirma-
tion that your time can come now if you and all others
like you will join in a political effort to make it come.
Any political partisan will make you the same promise,
but you know, from sad experience, that their promises
are worthless. We ask you to consider whether our
promises are worthless.
We promise you, for instance, that if you will give us
power you need never again want for v;ork. If the
people, through the government, owned the trusts and
other great industries, why should anybody ever again
want for work? Thenceforward, the great plants would
always be open. No factory door would ever be closed
so long as there was a demand for the product of the
factory. If the demand for goods were greater than the
capacity of the factories, the number of factories would
be increased. Nothing is simpler than to increase the
number of factories. Only men and materials are re-
quired. We have an abundance of each.
But we promise you more. We promise you that, if
you will give us power, we will give you not only the
continuous opportunity to work, but we will give you
continuous freedom from robbery. Again, nothing is
simpler than to work without robbery. All that is
necessary is to enable the worker to go to work without
walking into anyone's clutches. No one can now go to
work without walking into many men's clutches. When
a man goes to work for the Steel Trust, he walks into the
clutches of everybody who owns the stocks or the bonds
of the trust. When a man goes to work for a railway
company, he walks into the clutches of every person who
owns the stocks or the bonds of the railway company.
In other words, the stock and bondholders of these insti-
tutions, by virtue of their control of the machinery in-
174 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
volvcd. have it in their power to say whether the worker
shall work or not work. They say he shall not work un-
less they can make a profit upon his labor. The worker
cannot haggle too long because he must labor or starve.
Therefore, he comes to terms. He walks into the
clutches of those who want to rob him of part of what he
produces. He consents to w^ork for a wage that repre-
sents only a part of what he has produced.
That is robbery. You may call it business, but it is
robbery. If robbery is anything, it is the taking of the
property of another against his will. The worker knows
his wage is not all he earns. He resents the fact that he
must toil long and hard for a poor living, while his em-
ployer lives in luxury without doing any useful labor.
But the worker has no alternative. He must consent.
He does consent.
Under Socialism, there would be no such robbery, be-
cause goods would not be produced for profit. Goods
would be produced only because the people wanted them.
Whatever the people wanted would be produced, not in
niggardly volume, but in abundance.
Decent homes, for instance, would be produced. Mil-
lions of people in the great cities now live in houses that
are death-traps. They are not houses, in the sense that
country dwellers understand the word, but dingy rooms,
piled one upon another in great blocks. Light seldom
enters some of them. Fresh air can hardly get into any
of them. The germs of tuberculosis abound. The
germs of other diseases swirl through the dust of the
streets. The death-rate is abnormally high — particu-
larly the death-rate of children. Yet, nothing would be
simpler, if the profit-seeking capitalists were shorn of
their power, than to give every human being in this coun-
try a decent home.
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT? 175
The best material out of which to make a house is
cement or brick. Either is better than wood because
wood both rots and burns. There is practically no limit
to the number of cement and brick houses that could be
built in this country. Every State contains enough clay
and other materials to build enough houses to supply the
whole country. If the five millions of men who were
out of work for many years following the panic of 1907
could have been employed at house-building, they them-
selves would not only have been prosperous, but the
American people would have been housed as they had
never been housed before. If the two millions of men
who are always denied employment, even in so-called
" good " times, were continuously engaged in house-build-
ing, good houses would be so numerous that we should
not know what to do with them.
The same facts apply to all other necessities of life.
The nation needs bread. Some are starving for it all
the while. Yet what is simpler tiian the furnishing of
bread? We know how to grow wheat. With the sci-
entific knowledge that the government could devote to
wheat growing, combined with the improved machinery
that a rich government could bring to bear upon the prob-
lem, the wheat-production of the country could easily be
multiplied by four. Little Holland and little Belgium,
with no better soil than our own, raise almost four times
as much wheat to the acre as we do. And, with wheat ^
once grown, nothing is more simple than to make it into
flour. Probably we already have enough milling ma-
chinery to make all the Hour we need. If not, we could
easily build four times as many mills. We should never
be unable to build more mills until we had no unem-
ployed men to set to work. And. if we had no unem-
ployed men to set to work, we should have, for the first
176 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
time in the history of tlie world, a completely happy na-
Do you doubt any of tliesc statements? How can
you doubt them ? We have the men. We have the ma-
terials. The only trouble is that they are kept apart.
They are kept apart because a few men control things
and will not allow men and material to come together
unless that means a profit for the few men. We Social-
ists purpose to put them together. If they were put
together, how much longer do you believe the people
would have to shiver in winter for lack of woolen cloth-
ing? There is no secret about raising sheep. We have
vast areas upon which we could raise more than we shall
ever need. Even a concern like the Woolen Trust — the
head of which was indicted for conspiring to " plant "
dynamite at Lawrence to besmirch the strikers — even
such a concern enables some of us to wear wool in the
winter time. How many more do you believe would
wear wool if the United States government were to take
the place of this concern as a manufacturer of woolen
goods? Do you believe anybody would be compelled to
suffer from cold for lack of woolen clothing? How can
you so believe? The government, if necessary, could
build four woolen mills for every one that exists. The
government could not fail to supply the people's needs.
And, with all goods sold at cost, prices would be so low
that the people could buy.
These, and many other possibilities, are entirely within
your reach. You can realize them now. Will you
kindly tell when you expect to realize them by voting
for the candidates of any other party except the Socialist
party? No other party except the Socialist party pro-
poses to put men and materials together. Every other
party except the Socialist party proposes that a small
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT ? 177
class of men shall continue to own all of the great indus-
trial machinery, while the rest shall continue to be
robbed as the price of its use. Every other party except
the Socialist party proposes that a small body of men
shall continue to graft off the rest by wringing profits
from them. No party except the Socialist party puts the
people above profits.
Even Mr. Roosevelt and his party do not. Mr.
Roosevelt stands as firmly for the principle of profits as
does Mr. Morgan. Mr. Roosevelt differs from the most
besotted reactionary only in his hallucination that he
could appoint " strong " commissions that would suc-
cessfully regulate other people's property. ]\Ir. Roose-
velt does not seem to recognize that, so long as profits
are in the capitalist system, the workers must not only be
robbed of part of what they produce, but that they must
be periodically denied even the right to work at any wage.
Nor does he seem to realize that, if he were to reduce
the profits to the point where there was not much rob-
bery, the capitalists would no longer have any incentive
for remaining in business.
With profits eliminated, or cut to the vanishing point,
the capitalist system cannot stand.
With profits not eliminated or cut near the vanishing
point, the people cannot stand.
Therefore, Mr. Roosevelt is trying to bring about the
impossible. He is trying to prevent the people from be-
ing robbed without destroying the power of the capitalist
to live by robbery. Mr. Roosevelt probably would like
to decrease, somewhat, the extent to which cai)italists
practice robbery. But he is not willing to take away
from them the power to njb.
If Mr. Roosevelt were chasing burglars instead of the
Presidency, we should first laugh at him and then put a
178 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
new man on the force in his place. Imagine a police-
man trying to prevent burglary by " regulating " the
burglars, saying to them in a hissing voice: "Now,
gentlemen, this burglary must stop. We really can have
no more of it. None of you must carry a * jimmy ' more
than four feet long. Any burglar caught with more
than twenty skeleton keys will be sent to prison."
Yet that is practically what Mr. Roosevelt says to the
capitalists. The "jimmy" of the capitalist is his own-
ership of the tools with which his employees work, but
Mr. Roosevelt makes no move to take this instrument
from the men who are despoiling the workers. All that
Mr. Roosevelt purposes to do is to place a limit upon the
amount that the capitalist can legally abstract. And he
depends upon " strong " commissions to keep the fero-
cious capitalist in order.
We Socialists have no faith in such measures. We
frankly predict their failure, precisely as twenty years
ago we predicted the failure of the Sherman Anti-Trust
Law. We were then known to so few of our own
people that not man}^ persons had the pleasure of calling
us fools. Now, nobody wants to call us fools for that.
We are now fools because we do not believe in Wilson
or in Roosevelt.
We are not content to await the verdict of time, but we
await it with confidence. We dislike to waste twenty-
five more years in chasing up this Roosevelt blind alley,
but if you should determine to make the trip — which we
hope you will not — we shall still be on the main track
when you come back.
If somebody else had the key to your house and would
not let you in unless you paid him his price, you would
not value highly the services of a policeman who should
tell you that the way to deal with the gentleman was to
IF NOT SOCIALISM— WHAT? 179
" regulate " him. If the gentlemen had locked you out
upon an average of four times a week, you would feel
even less kindly disposed toward such a policeman.
We Socialists feel that the capitalist class has keys that
belong to the American people, and that it has used and is
using those keys to prevent the people from using their
own, except upon the payment of tribute.
We feel that the capitalist class holds the keys to our
workshops and will not let us enter except upon such
tribute terms as they can wring from us.
We feel that the capitalist class has the keys to our coal
fields and will not let us be warm in winter except upon
the payment of money that should go, perhaps, for food
We feel that the capitalist class has the keys of our
national pantry and compels those to go hungry whom it
has denied the right to work.
In short, we feel that the capitalists have the keys of
our happiness — so far as happiness depends upon ma-
terial things — and are compelling us to subsist upon un-
certainty and fear, when security and contentment lie
just at our elbows, awaiting the turn of the keys.
We Socialists are ready to stand behind any party that
will pledge itself to return these keys to the people, re-
serving only the right to be convinced that the pledge is
made in good faith and will be kept.
If Mr. Roosevelt will promise to use his best efforts to
take from the capitalists the private ownership of in-
dustry, we Socialists shall believe he means business and
shall begin to respect him.
If Mr. Wilson will make a similar promise, we shall
feel the same toward him.
But if Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Wilson should make
such a promise, they would have absolutely no capitalist
iSo THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
suppcirt. Mr. Perkins would not be with Mr. Roosevelt.
Mr. Ryan would not be with Mr. Wilson. So far as
great capitalists are concerned, Armageddon and Sea
Girt would look a good deal like a baseball park two
weeks after the close of the season.
All the world over, the Socialist party is the only po-
litical organization that frankly stands up to the guns and
demands the keys. It is the only party that minces no
words and looks for no favors from the rich. The So-
cialist party is avowedly and earnestly committed to the
task of compelling the capitalist class to surrender the
power with which it robs. And, anyone who believes
that power does not lie in the private ownership of in-
dustrial machinery need only try to become rich without
owning any such machinery or gambling in its products.
We Socialists are willing to stake our lives on the state-
ment that if you will transfer the ownership of industry
from the capitalist class to the people, those who now
constitute the capitalist class will never get another dollar
that they do not work for or steal in common burglar or
pickpocket fashion. If we are in error about the signifi-
cance of the private ownership of industry, the transfer
of such ownership to the people would not hurt the cap-
italist class. But the capitalist class evidently does not
believe the Socialists are wrong in holding this belief,
because the capitalists are fighting us tooth and nail.
Nothing is the matter with this world. Whatever \&
the matter is with you. You can begin to get results
now if you will begin to vote right now. The election of
Victor L. Berger to Congress in 19 lo threw more of the
fear of God into the capitalist class of this country than
any other event that has happened in a generation. If
fifty Socialists were in Congress, the old parties would
outdo each other in offering concessions to the people.
IF NOT SOCIALISM — WHAT? i8i
As an illustration of what fifty Socialist Congressmen
could do I will relate an incident that took place in Wash-
ington in the winter of 191 2.
Berger, by playing shrewd politics, had brought about
a congressional investigation of the Lawrence woolen
mill strike. He had brought to Washington a carload of
little tots from the mills — boys and girls — apd they
had spent the day telling a committee of the House of
Representatives of their wrongs. The stories were heart-
breaking. Here was a stunted little boy who declared
he worked in a temperature of 140 degrees for $5 a week.
A young girl — the daughter of a mill-worker — told of
an insult offered to her by a soldier and of her own arrest
when she struck him. A skilled weaver described the
difficulty of keeping life in his four children on a diet of
bread and molasses. Every story was different in detail,
but all were alike in the depths of poverty that they
revealed. The testimony bore heavily upon those who
listened, and when the session was suspended for the day
the members of Congress hastened quickly from the
As Berger walked rapidly toward the door an old man
stopped him. Apparently he was a business man, 55 or
60 years old. Certainly he was not a workingman. But
he had heard the day's testimony and he could not remain
*' Mr. Berger," he said, " I have always been against
you and all Socialists. I was sorry when I hoard you
had been elected to Congress. But if you brought about
this investigation, as I am informed you did, 1 want to
say to you that if you were never to do another thing
during your term, your election would have been more
than justified. I hope your people will keep you in Con-
gress as long as you live."
i82 JHE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
How many more men would change their minds if
there were fifty Sociahsts in Congress? How many
capitalists would change their minds as to how far they
could safely go in robbing the people?
Three millions of votes for the Socialist ticket would
by no means elect a Socialist president. But they would
squeeze out more justice from the capitalist parties than
the people have had since this government began.
Moreover, if you want the world during your own life-
time you will have to take it during your own lifetime.
It will not do you much good to let your grandchildren
take it during their lifetime.
NATIONAL SOCIALIST PLATFORM
(Adopted at Indianapolis, May, 1912)
THE Socialist Party of the United States declares that the
capitahst system has outgrown its historical function, and has
become utterly incapable of meeting the problems now con-
fronting society. We denounce this outgrown system as incompe-
tent and corrupt and the source of unspeakable misery and suffer-
ing to the whole working class.
Under this system the industrial equipment of the nation has
passed into the absolute control of a plutocracy which exacts an an-
nual tribute of millions of dollars from the producers. Unafraid
of any organized resistance, it stretches out its greedy hands over
the still undeveloped resources of the nation — the land, the mines,
the forests and the water-powers of every State in the Union.
In spite of the multiplication of labor-saving machines and im-
proved methods in industry which cheapen the cost of production,
the share of the producers grows ever less, and the prices of all the
necessities of life steadily increase. The boasted prosperity of this
nation is for the owning class alone. To the rest it means only
greater hardship and misery. The high cost of living is felt in
every home. Millions of wage-workers have seen the purchasing
power of their wages decrease until life has become a desperate
battle for mere existence.
Multitudes of unemployed walk the streets of our cities or trudge
from State to State awaiting the will of the masters to move the
wheels of industry.
The farmers in every State are plundered by the increasing prices
exacted for tools and machinery and by extortionate rents, freight
rates and storage charges.
Capitalist concentration is mercilessly crushing the class of small
business men and driving its nicnihers into the ranks of propertiless
wage workers. The overwhelming majority of the people of Amer-
ica are being forced under a yoke of bondage by this soulless in-
It is this capitalist system that is responsible for the increasing
burden of armaments, the poverty, slums, child labor, most of the
insanity, crime and prostitution, and much of the disease that afflicts
i84 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
Under this system the working class is exposed to poisonous con-
ditions, to frightful and needless perils to life and limb, is walled
around with court decisions, injunctions and unjust laws, and is
preyed upon incessantly for the benefit of the controlling oligarchy
of wealth. Under it also, the chihlren of the working class are
doomed to ignorance, drudging toil and darkened lives.
In the face of these evils, so manifest tliat all thoughtful observers
are appalled at them, the legislative representatives of the Republi-
can. Democratic, and all reform parties remain the faithful servants
of the oppressors. Measures designed to secure to the wage earners
of this nation as humane and just treatment as is already enjoyed
by the wage earners of all other civilized nations have been smoth-
ered in committee without debate, and laws ostensibly designed to
bring relief to the farmers and general consumers are juggled and
transformed into instruments for the exaction of further tribute.
The growing unrest under oppression has driven these two old
parties to the enactment of a variety of regulative measures, none
of which has limited in any appreciable degree the power of the
plutocracy, and some of which have been perverted into means for
increasing that power. Anti-trust laws, railroad restrictions and
regulations, with the prosecutions, indictments and investigations
based upon such legislation, have proved to be utterly futile and
ridiculous Nor has this plutocracy been seriously restrained or
even threatened by any Republican or Democratic executive. It has
continued to grow in power and insolence alike under the adminis-
trations of Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft.
In addition to this legislative juggling and this executive con-
nivance, the courts of America have sanctioned and strengthened the
hold of this plutocracy as the Dred Scott and other decisions
strengthened the slave power before the Civil War.
We declare, therefore, that the longer sufferance of these condi-
tions is impossible, and we purpose to end them all. We declare
them to be the product of the present system in which industry is
carried on for private greed, instead of for the welfare of society.,
We declare, furthermore, that for these evils there will be and can
be no remedy and no substantial relief except through Socialism,
under which industry will be carried on for the common good and
every worker receive the full social value of the wealth he creates.
Society is divided into warring groups and classes, based upon
material interests. Fundamentally, this struggle is a conflict be-
tween the two main classes, one of which, the capitalist class, owns
the means of production, and the other, the working class, must use
these means of production on terms dictated by the owners.
The capitalist class, though few in numbers, absolutely controls
the Government — legislative, executive and judicial. This class owns
the machinery of gathering and disseminating news through its or-
ganized press. It subsidizes seats of learning — the colleges and
schools — and even religious and moral agencies. It has also the
added prestige which established customs give to any order of so-
ciety, right or wrong.
The working class, which includes all those who are forced to
work for a living, whether by hand or by brain, in shop, mine or on
the soil, vastly outnumbers the capitalist class. Lacking effective
organization and class solidarity, this class is unable to enforce its
•will. Given such class solidarity and effective organization, the
workers will have the power to make all laws and control all indus-
try in their own interest.
All political parties are the expression of economic class interests.
All other parties than the Socialist Party represents one or another
group of the ruling capitalist class. Their political conflicts reflect
merely superficial rivalries between competing capitalist groups.
However they result, these conflicts have no issue of real value to
the workers. Whether the Democrats or Republicans win politically,
it .is the capitalist class that is victorious economically.
The Socialist Party is the political expression of the economic
interests of the workers. Its defeats have been their defeats, and
its victories their victories. It is a party founded on the science and
laws of social development. It proposes that, since all social ne-
cessities to-day are socially produced, the means of their production
shall be socially owned and democratically controlled.
In the face of the economic and political aggressions of the capi-
talist class the only reliance left the workers is that of their eco-
nomic organizations and their political power. By the intelligent and
class-conscious use of these they may resist successfully the capitalist
class, break the fetters of wage slavery, and fit themselves for the
future society, which is to displace the capitalist system. The So-
cialist Party appreciates the full significance of class organization and
urges the wage earners, the working farmers and all otlicr useful
workers everywhere to organize for economic and p(jlitio.iI action,
and we pledge ourselves to support the toilers of the fields as well
as those in the shops, factories and mines of the nation in lluir
struggle for economic justice.
In the defeat or victory of the working class party in this new
struggle for freedom lies the defeat or triumph of the common people
of all economic groups, as well as the f.iilu'-c or the triunipli of
popular government Thus the Socialist Party is the party of the
present day rcvnlMtion. which marks the transition from economic
individualism to Socialism, from wage slavery to free co-operation,
from capitalist oligarchy to industrial democracy.
As measures calculated to strengthen the working class in its
i86 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
fight for the realization of its ultimate aim, the Co-operative Com-
nronweaitii, and to increase the power of resistance against capitalist
oppression, we advocate and pledge ourselves and our elected of-
licers to the foUowmg program:
I. The collective ownership and democratic management of rail-
roads, wire and wireless tclegraplis and telephones, express services,
steamboat lines and all other social means of transportation and
1 communication and of all large scale industries.
' 2. The immediate acquirement by the municipalities, the States
or the federal government of all grain elevators, stock yards, storage
warehouses and other distributing agencies, in order to reduce the
present extortionate cost of living,
3. The extension of the public domain to include mines, quarries,
oil wells, forests and water power.
4. The further conservation and development of natural resources
for the use and benefit of all the people :
(o) By scientific forestation and timber protection.
(6) By the reclamation of arid and swamp tracts.
(c) By the storage of flood waters and the utilization of water
(d) By the stoppage of the present extravagant waste of the
soil and of the products of mines and oil wells.
(e) By the development of highway and waterway systems.
5. The collective ownership of land wherever practicable, and, in
cases where such ownership is impracticable, the appropriation by
taxation of the annual rental value of all land held for speculation.
6. The collective ownership and democratic management of the
banking and currency system.
The immediate government relief of the unemployed by the ex-
tension of all useful public works. All persons employed on such
works to be engaged directly by the government under a workday
of not more than eight hours and not less than the prevailing union
wages. The government also to establish employment bureaus; to
lend money to States and municipalities witliout interest for the
purpose of carrying on public works, and to take such other meas-
ures within its power as will lessen the widespread misery of the
workers caused by the misrule of the capitalist class.
The conservation of human resources, particularly of the lives and
well-being of the workers and their families:
1. By shortening the workday in keeping with the increased pro-
ductiveness of machinery.
2. By securing to every worker a rest period of not less than a
day and a half in each week.
3. By securing a more effective inspection of workshops, facto-
ries and mines.
4. By forbidding tlie employment of children under 16 years of
I 5. By the co-operative organization of industries in federal peni-
rtentiaries and workshops for the benefit of convicts and their de-
6. By forbidding the interstate transportation of the products of
child-labor, of convict labor and of all uninspected factories and
7. By abolishing the profit system in government work, and sub-
stituting either the direct hire of labor or the awarding of contracts
to co-operative groups of workers.
8. By establishing minimum wage scales.
9. By abolishing official charity and substituting a non-contribu-
tory system of old age pensions, a general system of insurance by
the State of all its members against unemployment and invalidism
and a system of compulsory insurance by employers of their work-
ers, without cost to the latter, against industrial disease, accidents
The ab.solute freedom of press, speech and assemblage.
The adoption of a gradual income tax, the increase of the rates of
the present corporation tax and the extension of inheritance taxes,
graduated in proportion to the value of the estate and to nearness
of kin — the proceeds of these taxes to be employed in the socializa-
tion of industry.
The abolition of the monopoly ownership of patents and the sub-
stitution of collective ownership, with direct rewards to inventors
by premiums or royalties.
Unrestricted and equal suffrage for men and women.
The adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall and of pro-
portional representation, nationally as well as locally.
The abolition of the Senate and the veto power of the President.
The election of the President and the Vice President by direct
vote of the people.
The abolition of tlie power usuri)fd by the .Supreme Court of the
United States to pass upon the constitutionality of the legislation
enacted by Congress. National laws to be repealed only by act of
Congress or by the voters in a majority of the States.
1 88 THE TRUTH ABOUT SOCIALISM
TIic pfrantinp of the right of suffiape in the District of CohiiTf-
bia with representation in Congress and a democratic form of mu-
nicipal government for purely local affairs.
The extension of democratic government to all United States ter-
The enactment of further measures for general education and par-
ticularly for vocational education in useful pursuits. The Bureau
of Education to be made a department.
The enactment of further measures for the conservation of health.
The creation of an independent Bureau of Health with such re-
strictions as will secure full libertj' for all schools of practice.
The separation of the present Bureau of Labor from the Depart-
ment of Commerce and Labor and its elevation to the rank of a de-
Abolition of the federal district courts and the United States Cir-
cuit Courts of Appeals. State courts to have jurisdiction in all
cases arising between citizens of the several States and foreign cor-
porations. The election of all judges for short terms.
The immediate curbing of the power of the courts to issue injunc-
The free administration of justice.
The calling of a convention for the revision of the Constitution
of the United States.
Such measures of relief as we may be able to force from capitalism
are but a preparation of the workers to seize the whole powers of
government in order that they may thereby lay hold of the whole
system of socialized industry and thus come to their rightful inherit-
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below
UN 1 5 1950
UWiRL MAR 1419^
LD URL jVIAR
»• MAY 20 19B1
AA 000 649 068
J I ill