H.M. Hyndman

Will Socialism Benefit the English People

(17 April 1884)

Source: HM Hyndman, April 17 1884, Hyndman v Bradlaugh, “Will Socialism Benefit the English People,” Pamphlet, Freethought, pp.40. There is both a 1884 and 1907 edition, the latter with a Hyndman introduction.
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford from the 1884 edition, courtesy of Bishopsgate Institute Library.

A verbatim report of a Debate between H. M. Hyndman and Charles Bradlaugh, held at St James’ Hall on April 17 1884, Professor Beesly in the Chair. Published in London by the Freethought Publishing Company, 63 Fleet Street, E.C., in 1884, price 3d. and Printed by Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh.

THE CHAIRMAN: Fellow citizens, we are met here to-night to listen to what I have no doubt will be a very interesting discussion. The subject is one of the highest importance. It is a subject upon which everyone who feels any interest in it ought to furnish himself with as clear ideas as possible. The speakers are both of them able representatives of their respective opinions. They are both of them well accustomed to expound them; there cannot be the smallest question about their sincerity, and the earnestness with which they hold those opinions. (Hear, hear.) Each of them is well acquainted with the other’s position, and therefore, although one evening may seem to be but a very small space for handling so vast a subject, I dare say we shall find that they will soon know how to narrow down their controversy to the essential points at issue, and so we shall derive profit from the evening – greater profit than perhaps is usually derived from discussions of this character. I need hardly remind you that the usefulness of the meeting will depend a good deal upon a circumstance over which the speakers have no control, and that is the temper of the audience – (Hear, hear.) – their patience, their forbearance in listening to arguments with which they do not agree. Perhaps I shall not be wrong if I assume that a large portion of those present have come here with their minds pretty well made up already one way or the other. It would, however, I suppose, be too much to expect that they will not from time to time give expression to their feelings of approbation or disapprobation of the arguments they may hear, but I would appeal to them not to do so to such an extent as either to interfere with the quiet hearing of those who may wish to listen quietly to what is being said, or so as to curtail unfairly the space of time allotted to each of the speakers. I may say that it is not intended to-night to submit any resolution to the meeting, or to take any show of hands, and therefore there is no reason whatever why it should be regarded as a trial of strength, a trial of lungs or exhibition of numerical strength between the two different parties. (Laughter.) For myself, I may say I am in the Chair to-night because both parties have done me the honour to believe that I should endeavor to conduct the proceedings, as far as depends upon me with impartiality – (Hear, hear.) – and perhaps they thought I should find it all the more easy to do so because they believe it is pretty well known that I belong to a school of opinion which differs very considerably from the opinions of both Mr. Bradlaugh and Mr. Hyndman. I shall not detain you any longer, but I shall just explain to you the conditions on which it has been agreed that this discussion should be carried on. Mr. Hyndman will first speak for half-an-hour; then Mr. Bradlaugh will speak for half-an-hour; then each of the speakers will address you for twenty minutes, and then again for ten minutes; and that will conclude the proceedings.

Mr. HYNDMAN, who was received with loud cheers, said: Mr. Chairman, friends, and fellow-citizens, in rising here to-night as the delegate of the Democratic Federation to maintain that Socialism will benefit the English people, I desire to say at the outset that I do so in no sense as an individual. (Hear, hear.) I come here as the delegate of an organised Socialistic body. The cause for which I come here and have the honor to champion is too high and too noble to be mixed with personal considerations of any kind whatsoever. I know very well that in meeting an opponent here to night who has been before the public for very many years, who is a master of the art of addressing public audiences, and thoroughly acquainted with all the ways of debate, I do so at some considerable disadvantage. I only ask those who are present, and who think that I do not put the case of the Socialists sufficiently well before this great audience, to supplement my shortcomings as I go along; and to others, whether the majority or the minority of those present who differ from what I have to say, I only ask what I believe I should get without asking, viz., for a fair and impartial consideration of the arguments I have to lay before you. (Hear, hear.) Now, first, what is Socialism? I will endeavor to give a definition which applies to the active life of to day. Socialism then is an endeavor to substitute for the anarchical struggle or fight for existence an organised co-operation for existence. That, I say, in so far as it applies to the active life of today. But it is something much more; it is a distinct historical theory which accounts for the progress of man in society by his command over the forces of nature, by the economical development, the power which he has of producing wealth. Thus the history of the past enables us to understand the present, and in some sort to forecast, the future, but with that I have not to do at this moment. What do we see around us? We see that never in the history of mankind was there such power over nature as there is to-day. Never had man before steam, electricity, machinery – all these great powers with which to produce wealth. Those powers are increasing in every country in Western Europe and America at far greater rate than the population is increasing. Therefore it is not necessary to go to the amount of population to account for the contrasts we see around us. If it were necessary to limit the amount of population, let us begin with those who do not produce. (Hear, hear.) If it is necessary there should be fewer people in the country let a few of the idlers stop breeding. Therefore when we come to these contrasts, which we all see and deplore, with this enormous power and this enormous wealth on the one hand, and such terrible misery and awful destitution upon the other, it must strike us all – it has struck us all, or I take it we should not be here to-night – that these contrasts ought not to continue. (Hear, hear.) Why is it that on the one hand the producers in this country are the poorest of the population? Why is it that those who do not produce are the richest? How, on the other hand, are we to give the producers a full share in that which they produce, and to teach those who live in luxury without producing, some better idea of existence? On the answer, Mr. Chairman, to those two questions, I take it, the debate we hold to-night will hinge. Now then, first and foremost, men are born into this world, hundreds and thousands of them, without any property whatsoever – (Oh, oh) – or any claim to any property. We are all born without any property. They arrive at manhood and womanhood in that condition – thousands of them. What, is their position? They have no property, no command over the means of production, either land, capital, machinery, or credit, either as individuals or as part of the organised community. Under what conditions, then, have they to live? They have not one thing which they possess but the force of labor in their bodies. Mind, what I am saying applies not only to the worker, not only to the distributor who is working on the railways, &c., but it applies in a very large degree to the small shopkeepers and clerks and those who live by intellectual labor. They have to compete against one another in what is called the labor market in order to be able only to exist Under what circumstances do they so compete? The middle class economists all tell us that the law of that competition is that they get on the average the standard of life in the country in which they were born, and just so much as will enable them to hand on the same lot to their successors. There are some who get more; there are some highly skilled laborers who receive more than this, but there are others, as some perhaps here may well know, who for months never get a full meal, and there are whole classes who, as the official reports tell us, never get enough food to keep them clear of the diseases which arise from starvation. (Applause.) Such I say is the law under which they work. Now see what follows upon that. These producers of the community, the men who produce all the wealth in this England of ours, what do they get? Say that a man is receiving 5s. a day, which is considered remarkably high wages (the average of the country is about one-half of that), and he produces a value of £1 in that day, where does the 15s. go? It goes, as we know very well, to pay the landlord’s rent, to pay interest on the capital, to pay profits, and it is labor value. The value of this man who is working very close to starvation wages produces the luxuries which we see around us. (Cheers.) That is the surplus value which is divided up by the idle or non-producing classes of the population. Now, what is the result to those who thus work? Are they not enfeebled by want of sufficient leisure, by want of power, by want of that which is taken from them under the forms of society in which we dwell? None can deny that it is so. We know that the brutal competition of one against the other, where there is plenty for all, means to the great mass of English people (and my opponent here to-night will not deny it), degradation to the English people, and worse degradation in the future than it is to-night. (Applause.) Consider the circumstances under which the work is carried on today. Say that a man is working, and a machine is introduced to the trade in which he is a skilled laborer, ought it not to benefit everyone that greater wealth can be produced with less labor? Certainly, there is no reason why it should not. Why are we known as organised individuals if we cannot take hold of what each of us invents and produce it for the benefit of all? It is not so used. It is used by a class against a class, and there is many a man who works as a skilled laborer to-day who, if a machine is invented whereby man may benefit, will be turned out to compete against his fellows on the street to-morrow. That is what I say is anarchy for those men, not order; and the uncertainty of the condition so produced, think of that. What uncertainty it is for a man not to know whether he will be able to keep his wife and his children because mankind is getting greater power over the forces of nature. Now, how does it tell on women? Are there not hundreds, nay thousands, of girls turned out into the streets to starve; nay, worse, to go to prostitution by reason of the invention of these machines. (Applause.) In these matters it is necessary to speak out. We Socialists do not blink the question. We go to the roots of the society we see around us. That is not all. Taking the system of production as it to-day exists, what do you see? An increasing difficulty in buying what you may call good goods. There has been the age of stone, there has been the age of bronze and the age of iron, but it strikes me we are in the age of adulteration. If a careful summary were made of the process of production for profit under which our present civilisation exists, it strikes me a fair representation of it would be a keg of bosh butter, a bale of shoddy cloth, and a wooden ham, and that might go down to posterity as a fair summary of what our system is tending to. (Hear, hear.) Remember that workmen who produce these adulterated goods have no interest in these adulterations, which injure their health, lower their vitality, and damage the market upon which they are dependent for their livelihood. (Applause.) What do you say to that, then, for a system of production which is based on falsifying the very goods which the men have to produce? I say again it is anarchy, not order; when you use the force of nature to produce rottenness instead of pure goods. (Cheers.) Again, what do we see around us to-day? A universal crisis in every industrial centre. There are men out of work at Shields, and there are many in the East End of London who are unable to get anything to do, and it is getting worse. That state of things is not confined to this country, but it is all over the world. What is the reason of this great industrial crisis that comes once in every eight or nine or ten years? How do you account for it? We have our explanation, and it is this. We say – and remember what is the case to-day – there is wheat piled up in the elevators of Chicago and in New York. There is food enough in America. Is there no one in London who wants a loaf? Is there nobody who would give a day’s work for some of that wheat in our great industrial centres? Plenty of them; but you cannot bring the two together. There are gluts of commodities such as boots and shoes, and yet there are plenty of people with bare feet who would be glad to do a day’s work in order to get them. Consider what this means. It means that you cannot bring the two sources of wealth together, the labor and the goods which have been produced. Why? Because the class that owns the means of production cannot produce to a profit, which profit the very glut itself prevents. (Hear, hear.) What is the reason, again, of that? It is this – that whereas mankind in the factories or upon the farm, and men all through our great industries, are working in social union, exchange is conducted at war; those who take the commodities after they are produced continue to produce more and more in order to undersell one another, and the worker has no command over the market, the result being this great financial crisis, which throws hundreds and thousands into misery day after day. (Applause.) We say that can only be remedied as the production is social, so the exchange must be social too; that the workers must control the system of exchange in the interest of the whole of the community; that it must no longer be conducted for the advantage of a class; that the competition for gain above, and competition for bare subsistence-wages below, must fade into a great organisation where both are conducted for the general good. As we are talking and discussing here we can see very well that the State itself, the organising State of the middle class, has been obliged to come in in order to remedy in some sort the anarchy which exists around us. Take the Factories Acts. Why were they introduced? I do not think my opponent would deny that they were most valuable measures, that they have done some good, and protected women and children somewhat. So infamous was the slavery under unrestricted competition that it was necessary to stop the degradation which was going on. Again, people were growing up in ignorance. Parents did not see that their children were educated in any way whatever. It became so serious to the community – so manifest was it that it was necessary to intervene, that the School Board was introduced, and it has not gone half far enough in my humble judgment, but nevertheless the rights of parents to bring up their children in ignorance were interfered with by Parliament, and were put a stop to as far as they then could go. There is an interference on the part of the State. Again, in the question of employers’ liability for injury done to their workmen, the State again comes in, and it is acknowledged on all hands by the middle class economists, whom we Socialists oppose, that this is beneficial to the community. (No, no.) I say yes. I say it is acknowledged by Professor Thorold Rogers, if that gentleman will look at his writings. It is acknowledged by Mr. Henry Sidgwick in his last book – let him look at his writings. It is acknowledged by Henry Fawcett, of whom I will have something to say directly. It is acknowledged by Mr. Walker, the American – by all the leading middle class economists of the present day. (“Herbert Spencer.”) He is not an economist, to start with; and no one ever contended he was before this gentleman in the hall. (Oh, oh.) You may say oh but it is so. To go on; I say these interferences have been commonly acknowledged as beneficial and necessary, and it is my belief that at the present moment it would be impossible to put an end to either of these measures. I must hurry on. Again, we are no Utopians. We cannot take up society by the root and plant it elsewhere. We have not the slightest wish to take a trip to Venus, or take a little jaunt to Saturn. We have no idea of that sort at all, neither do we think we can raise up a little oasis of co-operation in the midst of a great wilderness of competition. We have no such idea whatever. Every attempt made in this direction has been a failure, and we do not intend to try it again. They were failures because they did not take account of what was going on around, them, of having an association which should dominate over all in the interest of all. We are in no sense Utopians. We take the history of the past in order to analyse the history of the future. That being so, what do we see in the sphere of State organisation? I have spoken about State prohibition. You see already a State Post Office, not organised in the interests of the workers in the Post Office – for they compete for starvation wages, like everybody else. (No, no.) A gentleman behind me says: “No, no,” but I should think no one would dispute that when the Postmaster-General said “If you do not like your wages, I can get somebody outside to do it just as cheap or cheaper.” Thus they are working at starvation wages. The Post Office produces to the country £2,500,000 a year, or thereabouts. We say that organisation should be used, not for the benefit of the middle class to reduce their taxation, but for the benefit of the workers, and to improve them. (Applause.) We go farther; we go to each of the other departments that are used by the State, the Telegraph, the Savings Bank, the various departments under their control, the dockyards and factories – all these should be handled by salaried servants, but instead of being handled for the upper class and the middle class, they should be worked for the benefit of the workers, and for the benefit of all. (Loud applause.) We desire it not under the control of a class, but under the control of a Democracy, where every adult woman and man shall be entitled to a vote. (Hear, hear.) This is no control of class. The State ceases when every man and. every woman is the State himself – (Hear, hear.) – when it is the right and the duty of all to labor, and none is able to thrust off on to another class the right of maintaining them from their cradles to their graves. I say that such a Democratic community as that ceases to be a State; it means an organisation for all and by all. Such an organisation we look to as the force of the future. The Democratic Federation (whose delegate I am to-night) has put forward a series of stepping-stones for this organisation. We believe that the propaganda we have carried on has brought many questions to the front, and is bringing them day by day. We say the work we have done has been already to a large extent beneficial, and that Socialistic ideas are abroad among the people at this hour. Sir; we are accused of preaching discontent and stirring up actual conflict. We do preach discontent, and we mean to preach discontent; and we mean if we can to stir up actual conflict. (Hear, hear.) I have never known any progress in the history of the world where the men who were striving for it were not accused of setting class against class. There is class conflict going on without our feeling it; it is going on in every country in Europe, and it is bitter in England. It is here to-day though it is below the surface, but thirty or forty years ago it appeared in our cities, and we desire today that it shall be the conflict of argument as far as possible; an organised conflict wherein all shall benefit and none really suffer. Such proposals as those which I have here, and which I have not time now to dilate upon, are objected to, particularly the one for feeding children in the Board Schools, and every child that goes there in my opinion ought to be well fed. What does this overpressure arise from? From want of physical vigor. If you overwork the brain the body will break down to a moral certainty. (Hear, hear.) So with regard to housing of the poor; the compulsory construction of artisans’ dwellings in our cities all through the country. Why should that not be? Is not that for the benefit of all? Assuredly it is. The small amount of injury which might be done means really justice to the whole community. I may have another opportunity of going seriatim through these proposals of ours, but I desire in the few minutes that are left to me to point out that our system in no way hampers individuality – nay, it is the first system where individuality for all has ever been possible. (Hear, hear.) Sir, I can imagine nothing more horrible than to see, as I see day after day, able men, far more capable as I believe than I am myself, crushed down by society, bound to keep their noses to the grindstone every day of, their lives, unable to use individuality, unable to use the powers they have been gifted with, unable to do a stroke of work for the emancipation of man, because they are obliged to work in order to keep themselves. (Cheers.) Is that individuality? It is slavery; and one of the worst and most degrading forms of slavery that the world has ever seen. If you go to the match-box-makers in the East-end of London, if you go to the north and see the people at work in the mills, or to any of the numberless sweaters’ dens, what do you find? Individuality? No! not a particle of it. (Cheers.) Very well then. We say, light labor for all. We know right well that three or four hours’ work a day is more than sufficient to cover luxury and comfort for every man. (Hear, hear.) We say that this can only be done by the collective ownership of land, capital, machinery and credit, by the complete ownership of the people in this great country of ours. I say, therefore, that Socialism will benefit the English people. (Hear, hear.) I contend then that it will benefit them physically – (“Prove it”) – that it will benefit them in this way, that it will benefit every child to be brought up in full physical health, benefit him and her to be taught to labor not against their fellows; it will give them an intellectual education, it will give them a moral education as against beastly competition for greed of gain. (Applause.) It will do more than this. All the world looks to us because here capitalism and landlordism are more supreme than elsewhere. They know they cannot move unless we men in England move; they know the here is the nexus of the greed for gain that dominates this planet; that if we Socialists can organise, as we shall organise, a power that it will benefit not our own people but the organised industry of the civilised world, and I say that such an ideal, such a national ideal, to keep before our men and our women amongst us, the emancipation of men and the enfranchisement of women, the right of those who live by labor to enjoy the fruits of that labor in common for the benefit of all, and to get for our country the leadership in this great crusade for men, is the noblest thing which will benefit every man and woman that has a part in it, and will carry us down to posterity as those who worked for the greatness and glory of mankind and the human race to countless and countless generations. (Loud applause.)

The CHAIRMAN: I now call upon Mr. Bradlaugh.

Mr. BRADLAUGH, who was received with loud cheers, said: Friends, the distinction between myself and my antagonist is this. We both recognise – I am not quite sure from his speech how far we actually clearly recognise – we both recognise many social evils. He wants the State to remedy them, I want the individuals to remedy them. (Hear, hear. A voice: “Which individuals?”) I will tell you, and I want the evil of interruption remedied by your individually holding your tongue. We recognise the most serious evils, and especially in large centres of population; arising out of the poverty already existing, aggravating and intensifying the crime, disease, and misery developed from it. My antagonist wants to cure that by some indefinite organisation. (A voice: “Not indefinite.”) It may be definite to you. It is not to me yet – (Hear, hear.) – and I will show you so when I follow what he has said. I want to remedy the evil, attacking it in detail by the action of the individuals most affected by it. I do not wonder that men call themselves Socialists. The evils are grave enough to make men willing to take any name that they may connect with a possible cure. What I shall try to do is to show that the cure does not lie in the direction pointed out in the speech we have listened to, and I have to complain that we have had no definition of Socialism, that the two very vague phrases which commenced the speech were as far from being a definition as any phrases can possibly be. (Hear, hear.) Unless we can understand one another there is no use in discussing with one another. I shall try at least to make the position I take clear, and I will begin by distinguishing between social reformers and Socialists. Getting the vote for women may be done without being a member of the Democratic Federation, and there are no political or social evils which have been referred to in the speech of to-night, nor any one of the remedies for them, that were not discussed so long ago that they may be found in the old Chartist Circular of 1840. (Hear, hear.) I do not mean that they are less worth discussing now, but I do mean that they have not the newness that has been claimed for them in the speech to which we have just listened. Social reform is one thing because it is reform; Socialism is the opposite because it is revolution – (applause, in which Mr. Hyndman joined) – and that I am sorry to see is approved by my antagonist. Revolution, as he says, to be effected by argument if possible. Aye, but by what if argument be not possible? (Force.) Yes, that is the term. (Applause.) Force. Yes, that is the curse, and that is why I deem it my duty to be here at the expense of much misrepresentation, for the purpose of diverting and turning away this argument of force which holds weapons to our enemies, and which hurts and damns our cause. (Applause.) Let me here point out that which has been already stated roughly in the speech to which have listened, namely, that no Socialistic experiment has ever yet succeeded in the world. (Oh, oh.) None ever! The temporary success – (Interruption) – if you cannot listen to argument against you, how do you hope to convince the majority who are hostile to you? (Hear, hear.) I was saying that no Socialistic experiment had ever yet been successful. Some have seemed to be temporarily successful, but only so long as they have been held together, either by some religious tie, and then they have broken up when the effect of the tie has failed, and of this there are numerous illustrations; or by personal devotion to some one man, and then they have broken up when that man has grown weary, or when his life has ceased; or when directed by some strong chief or chiefs, holding together only so long as the direction lasted. Then they have only been temporarily successful, while they have been very few in number. When their apparent success has tempted many to join them, then they have broken down, and I will tell you why. As long as they were few, they did not lose the sense of private property; they did not lose sight of the advantage they were gaining by their individual exertions. The small community owned its property hostile to, or at least distinct from, that of every property around it, and therefore each one knew every addition he had made to the common stock; the stock was so small that he could count his increased richness. I have complained that we have heard no definition of Socialism, and the complaint would be unfair indeed unless I were prepared to give what I believe to be a definition. I will do it at once. I say that Socialism denies individual private property. (Hear, hear; No, no.) I will show you that it does in the last words which fell from the speaker when he had forgotten to speak cautiously, and it is not unnatural – I shall probably do the same – it is not unnatural that the enthusiasm of such a meeting as this should induce one not to speak cautiously. I am glad he did not, because he spoke accurately then from his own position. I say that Socialism denies all individual private property, and affirms that society organised as the State – (No) – those who say “No” will remember at present I am not debating with them. (Hear, hear.) They possibly may be more intelligent, but this gentleman (Mr. Hyndman) is the representative for the moment – (Hear, hear.) – and affirms that society organised as the State should own all wealth, direct all labor, and compel the equal distribution of all produce. I say that is what the vague, words amount to. What does the collective ownership of all the means of wealth, and of the results of labor mean, if it does not mean that? What does the organised direction of work through the State mean, if it does not mean that? If the words are only counters to jingle in the ears of the hungry, then they are not only no good, but may result in serious mischief. (Hear, hear.) I say that a Socialistic state, would be that state of society in which everything would be held in common, in which the labor of every individual would be directed and controlled by the State, to which State would belong all results of labor. I urge the importance of exact definitions. (Hear, hear.) The gentleman says that he represents a body which has issued some programme. One of the persons signing that programme writes himself, and he actually complains that the opponents of Socialism want too much definition and too much explanation of what is to be done, and he says that scientific Socialism gives no details. Dare you try to organise society without discussing details? It is the details of life which make up life. (Cheers.) The men who neglect details are lost in a fog, they have no sure path. You might as well build a house without bricks as discuss a scheme without details, and I object to vague phrases which may mean anything or nothing, and I object to being told that this is to be done by a revolution, to be effected by argument if possible. (Laughter.) We ought to know what it is to be done by if argument is not possible, and I will show you that argument will be impossible within a very few moments. The question is: “Will Socialism benefit the English people?” and by “benefit” I mean, permanently improve the condition of, and by “the English people” I mean the majority of the English people. (“All.”) I would say “all” if I could, but the man who says “all” is very likely to benefit none. (Laughter.) The practical way is to benefit the majority with the least injury to any. And I object that if a Socialistic State could be realised it could only be done by revolution; that it would require in effect two revolutions, one a revolution of physical force and the other a mental revolution, and I will show you that both of them are impossible. (Hear, hear, and interruption.) Permit me to say, even if you are wiser than myself, you had better hear me first – to laugh at me before hearing me may be Socialistic, but it is not common sense. (Laughter and cheers.) I object, if the two revolutions could be effected, and if Socialism could be realised, that then it would be fatal to all progress by neutralising and paralysing individual effort, and I say that civilisation has only been in proportion to the energy and enterprise of the individual. (Hear, hear.) Now I have said that in order to effect Socialism in this country – and I am only dealing with this country – it would require a physical-force revolution, because you would want that physical force to make all the present property-owners who are unwilling, surrender their private property to the common fund – you would want that physical force to dispossess them. You say “by argument if possible”; but how many property-owners are there? I say that the property-owners are in the majority, not in the minority. (No, no.) I am not going merely to say it, I am going to prove it. (Applause.) I am going to prove that the property-owners in this country are in the enormous majority. What is a property-owner? A property-owner is that person who has anything whatever beyond what is necessary for the actual existence of the moment. All savings in the Savings Bank, the Co-operative Store, the Building Society, the Friendly Society and the Assurance Society are property; and I will show you that there are millions of working men in this country who are in that condition. (Applause.) It is not true that the majority are starving. It is bad enough that any should starve – it is terrible enough that any should starve; and I and one other in this room at least have given evidence of our sincerity in the discussion of this question, It is from no ignoring of poverty, of the misery and the terrible crime which grow out of it, that I speak; but I say you are hindering the cure of it to pretend that the bulk are in that condition, when it is comparatively the few. Property-owners belong to all classes – the wage-earning class are largely property-owners. (Oh, oh, and laughter.) I will prove it – do not laugh till you have heard the evidence. Ignorance does not give you the right to make a revolution. In old times, before the science of medicine was studied, quacks were ready to come forward to cure every disease, and they did it with thorough honesty, with thorough confidence, and with thorough incapacity. Unless we test the symptoms we may not agree even about the disease. (Cheers.) I say, then, that physical force revolution must fail because the majority are against you; and I say even if it succeeded by the desperate energy of those owning nothing who directed it, that then the crime of it and the terror of it, and the mischief of it, and the long-enduring demoralisation of it, would more retard and hinder progress than do any possible good – (great applause) – and I allege that those who pretend when they are in a minority, that science has given them the means to equalise strength by the use of weapons and explosives, which were not known in other times, are criminal in the highest degree. (Bravo and interruption. A voice: “Coercion.”) I would try to coerce you by appealing to your brains, but if you have not any I cannot help it. But I say that a Socialistic State, even if it could be realised by force, could not be maintained unless you make a mental revolution – a revolution in which you alter all present forms of expression – a revolution in which you efface the habit of centuries of education – a revolution in which the use of the words “my house,” “my coat,” “my watch,” “my book,” all disappear. (Oh.) “Oh!” you say; but why may I have a gold watch? The man in the next street has none. Is there to be common lot? Then where the distinction? You say, “These are details,” and I say, Yes, they are details, they are the details that you have not studied. (Applause.) I say that every form of expressing private property would have to be unlearned, and for that you must cancel all your literature, you must unteach all your teachers, you must uneducate all your schoolmasters and re-educate them, and a new dictionary will have to be invented. (Hear, hear.) “Hear, hear,” yes; but in the meantime what becomes of society? Will you direct it? and who are “you”? (Laughter.) I object that in a Socialistic State there would be no inducement to thrift, no individual savings, no accumulation, no check upon waste. I say that on the contrary you would have paralysis and neutralisation of endeavor, and that in fact you would simply go back, you could not go forward. (Hear, hear.) I urge that the only sufficient inducement to the general urging on of progress in society is by individual effort, spurred to action by the hope of private gain; it may be gain of money, it may be gain in other kind, it may be gain in the praise of fellows or sharing their greater happiness; but whatever it is, it is the individual motive which prompts and spurs the individual to action. (Hear, hear.) In this Collective Socialism, the State would direct everything, and there could be no freedom of opinion at all, no expression of opinion at, all except that which the State ordered and directed. (Rubbish.) You say “Rubbish,” and I think you correctly express your own thoughts, but at least do not anticipate mine. (Laughter.) If I want to lecture now I hire a hall if I can; I get people to come if I can; I pay for announcements if I can; my private risk enables me to do it, or that of those who stand by me, it is the same thing. In a State where the State owns the lecture hall, who shall have it? May I or some other who thinks he can speak? Will the hungry pay for the gas wasted on my empty room? How is it to be arranged? Will some committee decide whether there shall be such a lecture or not? Do not say these are foolish details; they are details of your system which you have to face. A public meeting, who may convene it – how many may concur in it – who shall provide the building – who pay for it? Or a pamphlet; at present I buy paper and print it if I can get a printer to trust me, or have the means of paying him; he prints it for his private profit at his private press. There will be no private presses, and no private printers, no private money to pay for it, or if there be, then your collective holding is a sham and a delusion. (Cheers.) How is a newspaper to be conducted which requires large capital? May it be conducted hostilely to the State? Will the State advance funds for the paper to advocate that you may make a revolution to overturn it? (Loud laughter and applause.) How will you arrange for museums and theatres, music halls and places of public resort? (Oh.) You may say “Oh,” but there must be some amusement in life – if you live as dead as the Shakers, you will be as pale as the Shakers. They are honest, but they are gloomy. (Question.) They are honest, but they are sad, and they are only limited in number. Now that is done by private enterprise. How will you induce a great actor to stop here, or a good singer? He may get paid in other countries in the world for his private benefit, but here he must do it for the common good. How will you get great actors or singers at all? Will you train them? Shall the State select them early in life? Now people speculate in a special kind of education, and incur the risk, the individual risk, in the hope of gaining individual profit. (Hear, hear.) If you say these are nothing, then you have not stopped to consider it at all. How are you to deal with the railways? I prefer that all monopolies should be controlled by the State, which gives the monopoly. (Applause.) But that is not Socialism. (“Yes, it is.”) That is not Socialism, for the railway is not everybody’s property to use as everybody pleases; persons can only purchase the right of travelling upon it for the distance they want to go by parting with a portion of their individual earnings. How, when the State owns railways, is it to be managed? May I go to Aberdeen if and when I please? (Laughter.) Is the poor man who stops to earn my journey, or do you not think of any of these things at all? Omnibuses and cabs, how are they to be regulated when the collective property belongs to the organised State? How will you get your cabmen and chimney-sweeps? If you organise labor, you must pick all these men, and who is to be the “you” to pick them? How is the distinction to be made between employment on skilled and unskilled labor? Individual effort regulates all this; State effort would crush it all. You talk about foreign produce. How are you going to get it? You will have no markets here. (“Why not?”) Why, if all things are owned by everybody, nobody can sell to anybody. (Laughter.) Are you going to send unpaid buyers abroad to use their great skill without reward to buy cheaply for you, and who are “you”? What may the State buy abroad – may it be luxuries for everybody, or only for some? and if for some, why only for some? and if no luxuries at all, how are you going to get people to act if there is a dead level which nothing can go beyond? Is the State to provide a private laboratory for scientists, and private libraries for students; to give the artist the proper means for study, for painting, or for music, or for sculpture, and if not, how will excellence in these be won? Or are these to be neglected? and if yes, what becomes then of the beauty which I think someone near me is in favor of (Laughter, question.) There would be no encouragement to make beauty. You say “Question;” but it is the whole question. If you knock all beauty out of life, then life will not be left worth living. (Cheers.) I am told that property is to be held collectively, and one of the points in connexion with that is the nationalisation of the land. (Hear, hear.) Let me show you whom you have to deal with then. You have to deal with some millions of people; not a handful as some say – not a mere handful of marauders, as some say. For example, you have 1,057,896 persons in this country holding small plots of land, the bulk of these probably in centres of population, plots from under an acre up to fifteen acres. How are you going to get them to give it up? (Hear, hear.) And ought you to try? They are not marauders. 500,000 of them are members of building societies now, working men, and probably another 200,000 of them have been. (Hear, hear.) Are you going to fight them, or are you going to leave them their private property, and only own collectively all the rest? In some words which my able antagonist will recognise it was said “Force, or the fear of force, is unfortunately the only reasoning which can appeal to a dominant estate, or which will even induce them to surrender any portion of their property.” (Hear, hear.) You say “Hear, hear;” but you must use that force against ten millions of the population. I will show you that ten millions of the population are in possession of recorded property. Here are 1,057,000 – they represent at least four millions – (No, and cries) – they have wives and children. You do not regard wives and children. I do. (Cheers, and interruption from a steward of the Democratic Federation.) You, who are so indecent when you are here as a steward on the other side to preserve order, at least set some example. The gentleman who now interrupts was good enough, at a recent meeting, to suggest that I should have the first rope when revolution came. At least let him be decent here. I say the nationalisation of the land, if proposed, would render at once bankrupt every life assurance company in the kingdom. They have some seventy-five millions invested of mortgage on landed property. You speak of a few thousands. Why, in the ordinary savings’ banks, in 1883, you have 1,900,000 depositors; in the Post Office Savings’ Bank 2,706,612 depositors. [The Chairman here called “Time.”] Fight them! (Loud and prolonged cheering.)

Mr. HYNDMAN, who was again received with loud cheers: Mr. Chairman, I must confess when I entered this hall I did not expect that I had to explain all the details of bottle-washers’ cooks, and cabmen in the remote future. (Hear, hear.) I must honestly say that it never entered my mind that my opponent would adopt that line of argument. He has adopted some other lines of argument: more as it seems to me, germane to the matter, and with those I shall deal. I will commence, however, by saying that he correctly stated in a certain way the difference between us when he said that the difference was between the collective power and the individual power, but, as I pointed out in my opening address, when all have the vote, all are the State. (Hear, hear.) They could elect therefore for certain purposes those whom they desired to organise their labor. It is just as possible for the worker in a factory, in a mine, or on the land to elect those who shall organise their labor and that they should exchange the products of that labor with those around them, as it is that somebody to-day should take upon himself, owning that property, to organise their labor and take from them the third part of the labor value they produce. (Cheers.) But, sir, my opponent said that I claim a novelty in this business. I claimed nothing of the sort. (Hear, hear.) Nor have I in anything I have ever written or said claimed any novelty whatsoever. What I say is this, that we Socialists to-day are the direct inheritors of whole generations of those who have worked before us, and more especially are we indebted to those who worked prior to 1848. Such men as Robert Owen – (Hear, hear.) – a noble and glorious man. He was unable to see the full historical development, but he worked hard for co-operation as far as he could see it. Such men as Bronterre O’Brien again, a really great man. (Bravo.) He demanded the nationalisation of the land, and denounced the villainy of capital under which the working class, as I contend, suffer to-day. Again, there were such men as Oastler, Stephens, Feargus O’Connor, to a certain point, and many more men who worked hard for the cause which we call Socialism to-day. It is perfectly true that for the organised scientific socialism we are indebted to another great man, a foreigner this time, who lived thirty years in our midst; we are indebted to Dr. Karl Marx for that organisation, but I say that he himself was deeply indebted to these Englishmen, and acknowledged his indebtedness in everything he ever wrote, and that being so I claim no novelty. We claim a direct inheritance, and we stand here as international Socialists; beside that international Socialism we must have. But I am told the difference is between revolution and reform. (Hear, hear.) The revolution is going on to-day. (Hear, hear.) The revolution is here amongst us. The very fact that we are here debating Socialism to-night, organised revolutionary Socialism, is itself a revolution. (Hear, hear.) I say that two or three years ago it would have been impossible to have had this hall crowded by an audience perhaps evenly divided between those who agree with Socialism and those who are opposed to it, and I say that that in itself is a revolution of opinion, a mental revolution of that very kind that my opponent says we ought to bring about. And what is that mental revolution? It is a reflexion of the revolution that is going on below in the forms of production to-day. The revolution is going on day by day; electricity is supplanting steam, and steam is supplanting in other directions the old mechanical powers; and that constant competition of machinery with the skilled working man is producing a revolution in his lot, and rendering it more and more insecure. Therefore, I say that is not reform; it is revolution. (No.) It is revolution, and we make ourselves the mouthpieces of that revolution, and desire to carry it out. (Applause.) Again, I said “by argument if possible,” and my presence here as a delegate to-night shows that we are anxious to convince. Why, Sir, amongst our body there are many men who are wealthy to-day who are anxious to step down from their position of advantage. (Oh, oh, laughter, and repeated cries of “Name, name.”).

The CHAIRMAN: Gentlemen, be so good as to allow the speaker to continue without interruption. If you take up his time, I shall be obliged to allow him longer time than the twenty minutes allotted to him.

Mr. HYNDMAN: Now, with relation to force, my opponent says that we are all for force. Is there no force used to-day at all? (Hear, hear.) Has he not himself been the victim of force? (Applause.) I take it, Sir, that, the force of to-day is constantly used within the letter of law, but in spirit, illegally, in order to enforce the views of the dominant class; (Hear, hear.) We are told that argument, therefore, must fail, and that if argument fails, then we will resort to force. Now what is the position? We know, perfectly well that in the long run, unless you succeed by argument, force eventually does decide it. But we should be madmen, we should be fools indeed, if we were to day, when we have the right of public meeting, the free right, of argument, if to-day we were to go before the English people, in the minority we are, and advocate force, We endeavor to convince them, and we say we are opposed to force because we believe force can destroy, but cannot reconstruct. We appeal to you not to bring force on yourselves, not to drive men to desperation, men many of whom are at present living in misery; but take hold, of society around you and organise it for the benefit of all. (Applause.) Now, I am told further that Socialism denies all individual property alike. What did I say? I said, first of all, that we had the right, if we could get it, to the means of production. Very well, what does that mean? It means that in place of a class having control of the land, the machinery, the capital, and the credit, that the community should take them. I pointed out how in the Post Office, how in the railways, how in the factories, how in the shipping, it would be perfectly possible to continue the same system to-day. But who are the shareholders in the railroads: do they ever do any good in the world? They are simply using the labor of the dead in order to get the labor of the living. (Cheers.) I say that the whole railway system to-day might be organised just as well for the benefit of the community, and far better for all the workers in this country, than it is to-day under the control of shareholders and Boards of Directors. I have been told that I am lost in a fog and that we are quacks, and a variety of other things. Such matters as this I never pay any attention to. I remember, sir, the phrase of a famous Frenchman who on one occasion, when an antagonist said that he was a fool, an idiot, a dolt, and a variety of other things, said: “I understand by all these pretty compliments that my antagonist does not agree with me.” (Hear, hear.) I knew that, sir, before I came here. But I am accused of saying that the majority are starving. I never said such a word. I never said anything at all like it. What I said was that the majority of the population who had to compete with one another in the labor market either as producers, distributors, or as men who use their intellectual powers for others’ benefit, were competing against one another for a subsistence wage, and I say further that when my opponent states that there is this large amount of property he seems to forget that it is not so, and if he will refer to the Economist of February 23rd, 1884, he will discover that the savings banks are not a criterion of the wealth of the wage-earning class. The return shows that the savings are owned by others. And with regard to this building society business which is brought forward, and the amount of land held by building societies, a great many of those lands are mortgaged heavily to the capitalist class; and in addition to that with regard to the large number of owners whom my opponent quotes from the Blue-books, I would ask him to look at the Financial Reform Almanack, and see how those Blue-books have been fudged up, and how a single owner sometimes figures as eight or ten. But do you suppose that even those who hold building allotments are going to be dispossessed or injured? Suppose they get a full return for all the labor which they do, they would get in each year three or four times the amount of their building allotment. As a matter of fact the value of the labor which they get in the shape of wages is not more than one-third or one-fourth of the value which they produce. Now, that being so, how much greater return that is to them than the paltry building allotment, even supposing they were not mortgaged back to the capitalist class, as so many of them are. And again, how in any way does this small ownership benefit them? Take a period of distress like this, what happens? Do you not know that working men wage-earners throughout the country are forced to have resort over and over again to their savings, to sell out every little thing they have to tide over the period of depression? Look how it is to-day. How quickly that property fades away in times of depression. The little they have got together is soon gone, and very little indeed it is, not certainly enough to induce them to reject any system whereby they can obtain the means of production and relieve themselves from the domination of a class. I am told that there will be no incitement to thrift, and that no individual will be interested in doing anything for the advantage of the community, or to elevate himself. Sir, I think I may deny that any great thing has ever been done for direct personal gain. (Hear, hear.) I believe that a higher end and aim than that really has influenced mankind in every great advance that has been made. (Loud applause.) I appeal, sir, to higher motives that have governed mankind, not to low personal greed and profit which leads each man to strive to cut the others’ throats for personal advantage. I have yet to learn that Newton or Simpson or Darwin or Faraday worked as they worked for the sake of individual greed or individual advantage. (Applause.) They did not; they worked for the good of the human race, and because they worked for their fellows around them. Faraday himself lived on £400 a year, when he might have made four millions in his lifetime if he had chosen to patent what he did. (Oh, oh, and cheers.) He was the greatest chemical and electrical genius in his time, and he deliberately determined to give up his life to the sciences he had made his own. That has been so over and over again in the history of mankind. (Hear, hear.) All the great advances have been made by men, even under our present individual system, who were really imbued with the collective idea. It is said there would be really no high education. Why, sir, what education has been got for the people to-day has been really got by the interference of the State. (Hear, hear.) Even to-day they cannot get high education. Why? Because the upper and middle classes have laid their hands on the endowments intended for the benefit of the poor, and taken them to their own advantage. (Cheers.) That is what class domination does. The universities – to whom do they belong to-day? To the upper and middle classes. The higher education throughout is, as a whole, shut out from the poor, and I say again that until that organised Democratic State comes in to interfere our education will be the sham that it is to a large extent to-day. And amusement again! It would be out of our proceedings, and therefore I cannot appeal to it, but I say how much amusement is there for working-men to-day as a whole? How much enjoyment? How much can he use his time? I have spoken of this before, of the individuality. My opponent says all individuality will be crushed. I say individuality is crushed to-day. (Hear, hear.) And not for one class, but for all to a large extent. There are many of us who are crushed. Although some may have means, their intellectual development has been hampered from their earliest youth by the society around them, for they have not been able to emancipate themselves from these fetters that are around them in every direction. I say it cramps human intelligence to be perpetually thinking whether there will be bread-and-cheese for to-morrow. I say that so far from accumulation not being made, why under every old communal form, far inferior to that which we are working for, people were always, a year or two years ahead of their subsistence. Is that so with us? Not at all. My opponent himself admits that there are many who are constantly on the verge of starvation who are yet ready to work. Very well. Then I say such individuality as that means degradation, not elevation; it means injury, not progress. (Cheers.) I think I have dealt in the main with my opponent’s arguments. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) He has asked me to state how a newspaper could be brought out under the new system. Well, what difficulty is there in the organization of a body of men to bring out a newspaper? It is just as easy under any system of society as it is to-day. At this very moment there is being introduced into one of the largest printing offices in London a mechanical type-setter. A nice result that will be for the compositors, if there are any here, whereby a man sitting at a table could play the types into the places it is necessary for them to go into! (“Why not?”) I say it is a great advantage, but it is a very nice thing for the compositors who would be thrown out as unskilled laborers on to the street under our present system, but who would be benefited by the newspapers coming out with much less labor under the new system, which we champion. That thing applies in every direction. I say that if all are liable to work, the object of all will be to lessen the amount of necessary work, whereas to-day the object of every class which is living by profit is to increase the amount of work in order that they may increase the amount of profit. But again, and with this I will conclude; I would say, how is it that the workers have got what little they have got? (“Through Trades Unions.”) Now, what are they but small communal societies? (Hear, hear.) They are societies in which the individual sinks himself for the common advantage, and that is the only way in which they have gained anything at all. That is the best evidence, that by a wider extension of the same system all those who really produce and are useful members will, gain a similar advantage. (Applause.)

Mr. BRADLAUGH (who was again received with loud cheers): I regret that my antagonist imagined that some words which I used to the persons who interrupted me before I could get out my sentence, were intended to apply to him. I could have had no right to apply it except to the person who called my sentiments rubbish before he heard them; not one of those words had any application or was intended to have any application to the gentleman am discussing with.

Mr. HYNDMAN: Then I beg your pardon.

BRADLAUGH: I am told first, that I have to consult the Financial Reform Almanack upon the Blue Books relating to land-owning. It is hardly necessary for me to do that, because I analysed the returns eleven years ago, and published an analysis of them long before they appeared in the “Financial Reform Almanack,” although that is a very admirable publication. But no analysis would change the fact that 1,057,896 persons own small properties, 852,438 of them holding less than one acre – (A voice: “They are mortgaged”) – and when I am told that they are mortgaged, it is perfectly true that the essence of a building society’s plan is that the men who have not got the £200 to pay for their houses, are paying it out of their earnings by weekly or monthly instalments into the building society, the money being advanced at the commencement to enable the purchase to be made. And therefore the fact of their being mortgaged does not affect the statement I made. It is a lessening mortgage, and more than half-a-million, of such small properties have been cleared during the last twenty years. The fact of their being mortgaged does not affect the argument, and if it does as to those who are mortgaged, how will you deal with the rest? Then I am told that the savings are not put in by the working classes, but by others. But which others? There are 4,500,000 depositors – who are the others? Is it the few thousand owners of capital who have done it? But you cannot make 4,500,000 of them. I will read the figures; There are and there were paid into the Savings Bank, in 1883 (not the Post Office) £127,799,536; how could that be done by men only earning bare subsistence? It is not true. I do not care for the Economist. (Laughter.) No, I have a knowledge of the people at least as good as any Economist writer. I should suggest that when you have 2,300,000 persons members of friendly societies, that every one of these persons belongs to the working-classes – (Hear, hear.) – and when you have 500,000 persons members of co-operative societies, I suggest to you that three-fifths of them belong to the working classes – (Hear, hear.) – and when you have half-a-million of people members of building societies, I suggest to you that half of them at least belong to the absolute artisan classes. (Cheers.) And I say that if you consider the words “working-classes” to mean persons who exist by the sale of their labor, then the whole of those belong to the working-classes – (Hear, hear.) – and although it is perfectly true that the 4,500,000 depositors in the Savings Banks may include many children and servants) yet out of those figures I have read to you, you cannot have less than two and a half millions adult males – there are more than that – representing at least 10,000, 000 in population. (Hear, hear.). And what are the figures? The figures are of absolute savings left in the Savings’ Bank at the end of the year – Post-Office Savings’ Banks, £36,194,000; ordinary Savings’ Banks, £45,403,569; and then we are told that thrift is no good, because in the bad times it is soon used. But if there is nothing, then in the bad times it is starvation. (Applause.) I am told that man is blinded by thinking of bread and cheese for to-morrow. It is not true. (Hear, hear, and Oh, oh.) It is not true. (Cheers and counter cheers.) I am asked what good these building societies have done. I refer you to the great borough I have the honor to represent. I tell you that the building society plots have removed hundreds of them from squalor into cleanliness, and a whole district has grown up larger than the whole of the old town, in which men who were dwelling in filth and misery have now by their own individual exertions earned them clean, healthy, moral homes. (Cheers.) You ask me what is the good of it, and I answer you that in Lancashire, during the twenty-five years that I have been familiar with it, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, during the twenty-five years I have known it, hundreds of cleanly homes have sprung up in almost every district – thousands through those counties – and I say that that has made them more moral. I say that while they take no thought of bread and hunger for to-morrow they will be paralysed and indifferent, that they will have wasted themselves and their lives, and I say that while they tried to surround their wives and children with comfort, and acted with thrift in providing for the morrow, they were making a new race which will hinder the revolution you invoke. (Loud applause.) You say, use argument if possible, if not force must go. Eh! I read: “gunpowder helped to sweep away feudalism with all its beauty and all its chivalry, when new forms arose from the decay of the old. Now far stronger explosives are arrayed against capitalism.” I say it is not true; in this country there is no such array. I say it is a wicked lying libel to print it of the working men for whom I have the right to speak. (Prolonged applause.) I say that in the struggles in which labor takes part they would injure none. I say that they have grown out of the mad deeds of the old trades’ unions, only possible when men were outlaws and had no rights; and I say they rely on the platform to-day, on the press to-day, and on the organisation of their great bodies and unions to-day, on their congresses to-day, and they regard that man as their worst enemy who dare put into the hands of the capitalist foe things like that. (Loud cheers, and a voice: “Read a little further.”) I will read as far as I please. I have now another. I am told about shareholders in railways, and I find a proposal that they shall be expropriated with or without compensation – (Hear, hear.) – without compensation, and the national debt is to be extinguished. (Hear, hear.) Well, but you will then destroy every trade society in England – (Hear, hear.) – every life assurance company in England, every benefit society in England. Every savings bank will be ruined, for they have their money invested in Government securities and in these railway securities. You do not care for that, but I do, for I belong to the English people. And then you tell me when every man has a vote the State ceases. It does not. It is quite possible for every citizen to have a vote, and a very bad State to be left at the polling. (Hear, hear.) I am in favor of Democracy. (Oh!) Aye, and I ask for the vote for all. (Cheers.) I asked for the vote when some of you were opposing it. (Cheers.) I am told that force is used against me, and that I am a victim of it. I do not look much like a victim. (Laughter, and a voice: “You are, though.”) No, I am not. I am winning liberty for those that come after me by showing respect to the law, and by fighting within the law. (Loud cheers.) And then you say that you appeal to higher motives, not to greed of gain. (Hear, hear.) I do not appeal to greed of gain alone. I pointed out one might be moved by the desire to be known or to be praised, and to deserve it. I pointed out all that in the speech I put to you. It is not true that there is only the greed of personal gain. But it is good and desirable to have that greed if you can make those around you less miserable; less starving with the gain that is won. You do not say the majority are starving. Why then do you pretend that the few take and that the bulk who earn are left without? (Hear, hear.) If those words have no meaning do not use them. You are right to modify them here but you are wrong to print extravagant programmes which deceive the people. Take one illustration for example. Here you say that the total annual earnings of the country are £1,300,000,000, you say that of that the landlords take £1,000,000,000, and that the producers get £300,000,000. Where do you get your figures from? I find that the classes paying income tax pay income tax on £580,000,000 of income, and out of that these are incomes under £200 to the extent of about £26,000,000. There are incomes under £300 to the extent of about another £26,000,000. If all the rest are capitalists, which they are not, it would only leave £528,000,000, as against £772,000,000 of the total, £1,300,000,000. It is no use flinging about vague figures and big words. It is no use appealing in vague phrase to the future. The present is here. Do not talk of organising the State after you have destroyed this. Take the broom and sweep, one street clean by individual effort, and do not blow bubbles in the air. (Loud applause.) I am told that the lines and argument I have used have surprised. That is hardly my fault (Hear, hear.) – and it should not have been your misfortune; because I have delivered nearly every proposition I have put to-night in the course of a careful six lectures, some of which have been noticed in the journal with which I see your name connected. But why are these details not worth dealing with? Why do you jeer at the bottle-washer? Surely the bottle-washer is as good as the prince. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) I belong to the bottle-washers, and I want to know how our bottles are to be washed. Then you say, under the Socialistic State a number of men may organise a newspaper then as they do to-day. That is not true. They organise a newspaper to-day by clubbing together their private property, but they will then have no private property to club together. There will be no private paper-maker to buy paper from, no private printer to print it for them for hire. Everything will be held by the State, and can only be used under the direction of the State. You have not answered any of the propositions I put to you, and unless you answer them I cannot suppose you are prepared to deal with them. (Cheers.) I regret that I did, an injustice in suggesting that the propositions you put you claim to be new. I thought I heard it, and it shows I misunderstood. (Hear, hear.) But I had thought there was some claim for the newness in the speech which opened the debate. But if you refer me for your views to Bronterre O’Brien, Feargus O’Connor, and Robert Owen, you cannot unite those three opposite men in any harmonious social system; the whole of their plans and most of their ideas were opposed, and nobody would say he inherited the whole of their policy knowing it, if he gave his antagonist credit for knowing anything about it. Well now, I would ask you here, and I ask all who have to deal with this, to consider the question which is really raised: “Will Socialism benefit the English people?” (Cries of “Yes,” and “No.”) It is no use saying there are people in filth and misery, poverty and crime. We know it – we deplore it, and to the best of our ability, even if wrongfully, we have tried for thirty years to awaken men to the knowledge of it. You say organised society will remedy it. That may be true, but you do not show us the plan of organisation you propose. You say everybody having a vote they will do right, but I have seen countries where everybody has had a vote, and they have done wrong. (Hear, hear.) You do not venture to say whether you would have private property or not. You say first you mean collective ownership, and then say you are not against the private property of these people. You cannot blow hot and cold. You must be for the annihilation of all private property, or else your Socialistic system is of no avail. You say that reform is revolution, that electricity superseding steam or gas is revolution. It is a misuse of words. New agents modify old conditions, modify and do not destroy. It is progress, not destruction. It is perfectly true that everything which benefits the human kind by saving labor, injures some temporarily at the time this benefit first comes; but those who judge worthily and widely judge by the general benefit of the human race, and you appeal to the worst passions when you try to excite men amongst the audience who may be compositors, and who may be driven out of employ by machines. It is what was done in the old blanket-weavers’ days. It is what was done in the old days in Lancashire and Lanarkshire. It is what has ever been done by men who deal with these great social problems without belonging to and having their hearts in the welfare of the people. (Loud cheers.) Instead of making the State all-powerful, I would make the individual so strong for good that the State would have little left to do. (Hear, hear.) Every State interference with liberty is only defensible to-day because of the corrupt social state which we have got to remedy. (Cheers.) We are not beginning with a new plan, we are dealing with an old society; and when you talk of International Socialism, the wants of every nation differ, their wrongs differ, their needs differ, their traditions differ, and their aspirations differ. You cannot bring twenty honest earnest men of diverse countries together in any part of the world to plan reform but what you find their schemes, suggestions, and the whole of their trains of thought are different from one another. Then words suggesting force have no right to be used with the possibility of bad deeds behind them. The hungry are always ready to strike – (Hear, hear.) – and if you tell property owners we will not take from you by force if you give up willingly, it is the doctrine of the highwayman, who says: “Your money, or your life. I will not take your life if you give me your money, but I shall be compelled to shoot you if you do not.” (Great applause.) I am glad, short as this time is, that at least we have met to exchange some thoughts upon this question; but when the speaker says that two or three years ago such a discussion would have been impossible, it shows that he does not know the history of the country to which I belong. (Hear, hear.) Archibald Campbell, Robert Owen, Lloyd Jones, debated this very question before crowds as big as this thirty, thirty-five, and forty years ago, and those who say “No” simply do not know the history of their own country. (Hear, hear.) We are for reform. Revolution means destruction first. We cure gradually. If we try to cure the whole immediately, we must poison and destroy. We have to deal with generations of ill and habit that cannot be swept away by the stroke of a magic wand. It wants great patience, great endurance, bearing great obloquy. All those who preach class war do not know what life should be. Class war is murder; class war is fratricide; class war is suicide; and these who rail at the bourgeoisie may have won the right by hard toil, in mine and vein, with bar pick and shovel to do it; but if not, they should think long and before they attempt the railing. (Loud cheers.)

Mr. HYNDMAN (who was again cheered on rising): Mr. Chairman, friends, and, fellow citizens, before going to any further arguments of my opponent’s, I will conclude the sentence which he left unconcluded. (Hear, hear.) He says he quoted the passage: “Gunpowder helped to sweep away feudalism with all its beauty all its chivalry, when new forms arose from the decay of the old; now far stronger explosives are arrayed against capitalism, whilst the ideas of the time are as alive with revolution” – that cannot be doubted, I think – “as they were when feudalism fell. To avoid the like crushing anarchy of to-day” – I gave some instance of it in my opening speech “and the fierce anarchy of to-morrow, we are striving to help forward the workers of the control of the State as the only means whereby such hideous trouble can be avoided, and production and exchange can be organised for the benefit of the country at large.” (Cheers.) Now, Sir, I utterly deny that that passage bears the interpretation which my opponent put upon it. (Cheers.) I say, Sir, he should not, knowing what followed, have stopped where he did. I do not think it was quite fair – (Hear, hear.) – and I now put it to you whether that does not alter the sense entirely of the passage where he stopped.(Applause.) I say we are working here – aye, working every day. He has worked many years in his cause, and I thank him for what he has done. He has done great good – I know that. But I say we are working to-day because perhaps we see a little farther than he does. (Laughter and cheers.) He has spoken of the great advantage in his own town. I do not happen to know the town of Northampton but he has spoken of Lancashire, and says the people there are producing a new race, a race stalwart and gallant —

Mr. BRADLAUGH: I never said so.

Mr. HYNDMAN: I beg your pardon, sir, a new race which should withstand the revolution we were approaching. I say, take the blue book of 1875, and let him study the degradation, the physical misery of the popular centres, and then say what do you say of the new race. I lived in Stockport twenty-five years ago, and I have been back there several times since, and I state positively that the people of to-day are punier and more stunted than they were twenty-five years ago. (Cheers.) I say the factory work, as admitted to-day by the report of every certifying surgeon, means degradation to the women and children who work in those mills, and I say, if that is the new race let us have the old one. Remember it is only by reorganisation, that you can stop this miserable degeneration that is going on absolutely to-day. (Hear, hear.) Again I am asked with regard to the figures which were given, where do you get them from? I will tell you, from Mr. Giffen and Mr. Mulhall. Mr. Giffen puts the annual income of the country at 1,200 millions sterling, Mr. Mulhall at 1,247 millions sterling, to which you have to add the amount which comes to this country from foreign countries in return for various investments we have there. Now then, in the year 1869 Mr. Dudley Baxter, quite as good an expert as either Mr. Mulhall or Mr. Giffen, put the earnings of the wage-earning class at 255 millions sterling out of a smaller income, and Mr. Giffen himself, only six years ago, put the earnings of the wage-earning class at £338,700,000. When he denied that in the Times I sent the figures to show that he did say so, but the Times would not print my letter against Mr. Giffen. That shows how it is. Therefore, I say, going from the figures, upon the system my opponent urges, the working class get about one-fourth or one-third at the outset of the total produce and wealth of this country, and I say that all the talk about building societies, and all the talk about the enormous investments that they have, must read like bitter irony to men who see 800 millions of their wealth being taken from them by the social arrangements of to-day. (Cheers.) Again, Sir, I am told that Bronterre O’Brien, Feargus O’Connor and Robert Owen differed. I know they did; but do not we inherit the learning of Aristotle and Plato, although they were absolutely opposed? Certainly we do. (Hisses and cheers.) We are indebted to both. What I, say is this, that Feargus O’Connor, as I told you, differed from the other two very much, but O’Brien and Owen were both of them Socialists although in a different way. (Laughter.) We are deeply indebted to the men who preach the nationalisation of the land as O’Brien did and as Spence did, and we are deeply indebted to Robert Owen who showed how if the State were to take possession capital might be dominated. He himself did not work that out because he could not, but he showed how it could be done. (Laughter.) Read his works any of you who doubt – read his Combination between Land and Capital – but where he failed was that he had not seen the historical development which leads up to State domination, but the State domination not under the control of a class as it is to-day, but under the control of the people for the benefit of all. I never said that universal suffrage of itself would right anything. It is this very mental change which must be wrought, the mental change we are trying to bring about. I say the organised power of the community must be used with the definite forces which now dominate them. I never contended for a single moment that universal suffrage was alone enough; time, education, organisation, better knowledge are all necessary in order to bring about that which we desire, but you will not bring it about by simply exalting the individual. As I pointed out to my opponent, the one good thing the working classes have done, they have done as Trade Unionists, by combination, by sinking the individual against the class which is organised against them. They must dominate it by organisation. My opponent admits the corrupt social state; but this very social state is all round us. I am told there is no social war. Is there no social war? What happened at Kidderminster the other day? Unfortunately it was attended with violence, but it was begun by the capitalist. They began by substituting female labor for men’s labor in order to make more profit. Was not that class war, using a man’s own wife against himself? (Cheers.) Why, Sir, under the present system a man’s foes are indeed those of his own household. His own wife and children are brought in to compete with him on the labor market. Now, I say that this is class war, that we see the way in which the war is going on, and we desire that that class war shall inure to the benefit of the community and all those above all who work. But I am told that in dealing with these things I omit points that Mr. Bradlaugh puts to me. I say that these small matters are as nothing compared to what I have already proposed: to give food to all children in school, to the control of the land by the people, and by permitting the whole of this country to be used, not as it is used to-day for a comparatively small minority, especially the agricultural land. Take the condition of the land. Look at the great landowners who dominate over us. Look at the Duke of Bedford and the Duke of Westminster, and men like those. Is that the result of individuality my opponent wishes to see? I say let us municipalise the land – let us apply it to all classes by cumulative taxation, as we advocate. (Cheers.) Again, if you take the question of railroads and the National Debt. The National Debt was imposed and the railroads were sold to the shareholders by a class. The people were never represented. They never gave their assent to this enormous debt. They never gave their assent to this most egregious monopoly. They have never been asked yet whether they approve of these enormous monopolies. They have never been asked whether they approve of this indebtedness. I say let it be put to them. Let this question be put boldly before them – whether they are willing to sanction what has been done by a class or whether they are not. That is what I say we are attempting to do, and we shall achieve it. (Cheers.) I am told we are appealing to the hungry. We are not. We are appealing here to-night to the educated and the intelligent, and the men who have something, because we say hungry men make revolutions and riots, but they never made and organised revolution yet. It is the best educated and organised and capable men who have always made revolutions in our country. The revolution of 1641 to 1649, one of the greatest revolutions in history, was made in the interest of the middle classes, but how was it made? It was made by strong, stalwart, well-conducted, well-fed men. I say those revolutions were beneficial, and I say that such a revolution to-day, although God forbid it should come by force, I trust will come with the organised education of all. (Cheers.) But I say that such a revolution will enhance individuality, it will relieve people from this crushing domination of a class, and will enable each man to exchange through Government banks and Government distributive centres. Then men may have and own the fruits of their labor whereby they may all benefit. Therefore I say that what we look to is a thoroughly organised England wherein each man will work for all, where there will be free exchange of the fruits of labor without any profit, and where we shall hold up a really organised centre for mankind. (Applause.)

Mr. BRADLAUGH (who was again received with cheers): I did not gather that the words which were read in any way explained or modified these words: “Now far stronger explosives are arrayed against capitalism,” and I should have liked to have known, in the mind of one of the signers who happens to be speaking this evening, what that meant. If it did not mean that a stronger explosive than gunpowder was a weapon which could and might be arrayed in this war, then it has no meaning whatever. (Hear, hear. A voice: “It meant moral force.”) A moral explosive! (Laughter.) A moral explosive stronger than gunpowder! There must have been an explosive in a vacuum there, I am afraid. (Laughter.) Then I am told that the times are as rife with revolution now as when feudalism was destroyed. It is not true. It is simply the repetition of words without meaning, or which if meant, are not true. No evidence was given of it, and to use vague phrases of this kind is utterly and wholly misleading. There is a respect for law amongst the people now that did not obtain at all then. There is an industry and saving now that did not exist at all then. I will remind you that on every matter which has been contradicted, when challenged upon it, no sort of evidence has been given. I asked who were the “others” than working folk of the 4,500,000 depositors; not the slightest explanation is given. My definition of Socialism has not been touched – never even objected to; yet if it be the true definition, it is fatal to the whole of the argument that has been put to us. (Hear, hear.) Then it has been put upon me that I have said there is no class war. I never said so. I rebuked those who try to make a class war. (Hear, hear.) There is too much class war, and I have done my best in my short life to try to diminish it – (a laugh) – and those who laugh are probably incapable of comprehending either the disadvantage or the work. (Cheers.) At least they do not convey to me the notion that Socialism involves courtesy in its communication with opponents. (Oh.) I am glad to have another illustration of the truth of what I am saying. (Question.) Then I am told it is not true what I have said about Lancashire and Yorkshire, but here again the point that I urged was not grappled with. I said the houses were better, newer, cleaner, and the only answer made is as to the places they work in. I dealt with the homes built within the past twenty years [Mr Hyndman an expressed dissent]; it is no use shaking your head; it was the homes I mentioned. I said that more human homes had been built and healthy surroundings provided, in which a man found the opportunity of making his wife and children more comfortable. It is true that there are many factories very bad, but it is not true of the whole of them; it is not even true of the majority of them erected in the present generation. (Hear, hear, and Oh.) I have been in hundreds of them. My speech will go amongst Lancashire and Yorkshire men who work in those mills, and who will know whether what I am saying is true or not. (Cheers.) In every new mill built in the last twenty years the best resources of science have been utilised, because owners of capital have found that under comfortable conditions more is got from the labor, and therefore they do it. (Hear, hear.) Ah! but if that is true, it gives the lie to the position taken. (Ridiculous.) You say it is ridiculous. You’re saying it is ridiculous is simply to say you are ignorant of the classes you propose to organise. Then I am told that Trades Unions work on Socialist lines. (No.) Yes, that was said – by combination and co-operation. But combination does not necessarily involve socialism, nor does co-operation. Each co-operative society owns its own property; each trade society watches its own interests; and it is because they are their own interests that they try to watch them. (Applause.) What they have learned is that, by the different trades meeting together in congresses year by year, they may not waste their efforts in fighting against one another, and may turn them to the real utilisation of their advantages in the struggle for life. Then I am told “we want the control of the land.” But how? And what will you do with that 1,000,000 of people? You have said nothing about that. You say that the nation has not approved of the railways being constructed as they are; but that does not give you the right to steal them. There are poor people who own shares as well as rich ones, poor people whose livelihood depends on them. You ought to deal with details, and if you are incapable of details, you have no right to try and move the people towards overturning what exists. (Applause.) You say that you have not appealed to the starving, I say you have told the whole of the wage-earning class that they are starving. You say: “To-day the worn-out wage slaves of our boasted civilisation look hopelessly at the wealth which they have created to be devoured only by the rich and their hangers-on.” (Cheers.) I tell you that is not true. I have always claimed that the rich take too much (Hear, hear.); but it is not true that they take all. It is not true that the State has educated the people. The people, in many fashions, have educated themselves. They won cheap papers against the State; they sold the unstamped press, and broke through against the State. Lancashire men and Yorkshire men did it. From Stockport’s neighborhood, which you say you know, thirty men lay in gaol one Christmas day in the fight for a free press and to win this education. (Great cheers.) When you used the three names and spoke of the system from them, and I show you the systems contradict each other, all you say is we inherit all their wisdom. So every generation inherits the whole of the wisdom of the generations which go before; but that is not Socialism. It was individual effort that gained the wisdom and left its record. The individual Aristotle who reasoned, the individual Plato who wrote, the individual Bronterre O’Brien who taught, and these men would have been crippled and gagged in your Socialistic State, which would have left them no platform, no voice. (Applause.) I know, in appealing to the miserable, they may be moved by their misery, but you will not cure their misery by vague preaching. You say you desire revolution – you say you are clamoring for it. These are the words you use. You say: “We are urging it on;” and I say it is the duty of every honest man to delay and prevent revolution. (Great cheers.) Revolution if it must come is terrible, if it must come it is horrible, revolution means ruined homes, it leaves behind the memory of bloody deeds. (Cheers and groans.) I speak for the English people, which through generations of pain and toil gradually has climbed towards liberty, the liberty of which they have won some glimpses, and which they are claiming still. I speak for the people – who are ready to suffer much if they may redeem some, who know that the errors of yesterday cannot be sponged away in a moment to-day, and who would try slowly, gradually, to mould, to modify, to build, and who declare that those who preach international Socialism, and talk vaguely about explosives, are playing into the hands of our enemies, and giving our enemies an excuse to coerce us. (Prolonged cheers.)

Mr. HYNDMAN: Friends and fellow-citizens, it is now my pleasant duty to ask you to accord a hearty vote of thanks to the honored English gentleman who occupies the chair. He is a man whose whole life has been devoted to working in the interests of the poorer classes of this country, a man who twenty years ago took the chair when no other man dared, a man who in conjunction with his friends stood forth on behalf of Trades Unions when they were abused and denounced by all the upper classes of this country. I say we owe him for his presence here to-night and the admirable way in which he has conducted this meeting, our sincere thanks, and I ask you to join with us in giving him a very cordial vote.

Mr. BRADLAUGH: I have pleasure in seconding that vote. I have learnt may lessons from your chairman twenty-five years ago, lessons which have served me, and I desire to tender him my thanks while I second the proposition that you give him yours. I desire to thank you who have listened patiently to some things that have offended you.

The resolution was carried with acclamation.

The CHAIRMAN: Gentlemen, I am very much obliged to you for the very kind way in which you have given this vote of thanks. My duty to-night has been an extremely easy one. As you have seen, the meeting has conducted itself in the most orderly manner, and the credit of it is entirely and alone to you and to the good temper with which the two disputants have carried on the discussion.


Last updated on 26 July 2018