The Daily People
Sept. 3, 1906
T he “practical” man sneers at socialism as visionary, unattainable, and without any immediate social value.
Immersed in his own private affairs, and judging the world from the limited horizon which they afford, he fails to perceive that socialism is the only vital economic, political and moral force of modern times.
For instance, the tendency of the age to interlock and internationalize trust interests, is a practical prelude to socialism, to whose developments the writings of socialists have contributed in no small degree. These have exposed the wastes of competition, and pointed out the inevitability of combination as a step in the evolution of society, and, in so doing, have given a more conscious aim to capitalist production, while preparing the way for the acceptance of concentration as a preliminary to social production and ownership.
Politically, we know that socialism is a factor, not so much in what it does itself, as in what it compels its opponents to do for and against it.
What are the laws enacted in the interests of labor—however sporadic and futile they may be—if not concessions of capitalism to the growing power of socialism? And what apparition induces the plutocrats of all countries to grant a measure of relief to their expropriated victims, if not the apparition of socialism?
Would the czar have granted the Duma were socialism not present in Russia today? What are “the public ownership of public utilities” and New Zealand government enterprises, of which there is so much laudation by middle-class economists and reactionists, but abortive attempts to prevent the consummation of full-fledged classconscious socialism? What was Mark Hanna’s aim—now carried out by his associates in the Civic Federation, in “Americanizing” the trade unions, if not to preserve the political and economic domination of his class from the political and economic triumph of socialism, by way of classconscious industrial unionism?
It can be said that, whatever good there is in the various social panaceas—in “welfare work,” “social service,” municipal beautification, tenement house and factory improvement—has been achieved largely through the pressure brought to bear upon capitalism by socialism. The necessity for quieting and suppressing dissatisfaction favorable to socialist agitation is always present with the capitalist class.
Morally, the practical effects of socialism are reflected in private philanthropy, tainted money, and other discussions involving principle and conduct; antimilitarism, packing house exposures, and a hundred and one other manifestations in favor of greater honesty, decency and peace. The millions that Carnegie and Rockefeller gave to education and religion are the vain appeasers of a “social conscience” stirred into active protest by socialist philosophy and morality. They are the semirestitutions of stolen social wealth made under pressure of the new outlooks on the new origin and functions of wealth that are primarily due to the influence of socialism on modern thought. Read the tainted money discussion, read the discussions on antimilitarism, on packing house exposures, and note the influence of socialism on both sides of those controversies, and be convinced that socialism is the greatest moral force of the age, permeating and influencing the arguments and actions of its opponents.
Just as the American nation was impossible as long as King George ruled, so also is socialism impossible of complete demonstration as long as capitalism holds sway. To have asked the exponents of American independence to prove independence practical under King George would have been unjust; yet, the opponents of socialism ask socialists to prove socialism practical under capitalism.
Despite this handicap, however, such is the evolution of capitalism under socialist influence, that the socialist can and does prove all that the practical man demands of him. Socialism can and does meet all the standards applied to it.
Socialism is practical, in the best sense of the term; a living, vital force of inestimable value to society.