H.M. Hyndman, Cosmopolis, January-March 1898

Socialism and the Future of England

Source: Cosmopolis:, An International Monthly Review, pp.22-58, Vol. 9, No. 25, January-March 1898;
Transcribed: by Graham Seaman.

In dealing with the great Socialist movement of the end of the nineteenth century, even the most superficial observer must be struck with its increasingly international character. It is true that the old "International" as a definite organisation, composed of representatives of all countries, issuing manifestoes and giving advice to the civilised world, came to an end in 1871, and has never since been reconstituted. But the growth of the international spirit has been in nowise hampered by the lack of a common central council, though the absence of clear, forcible pronouncements upon questions of general international interest has at times been felt, and is so felt to-day, as a serious practical need. In every civilised country, however, there exists at the present moment a body of organised and disciplined Socialists who, here slowly, there rapidly, are becoming a recognised political and social power within their respective national boundaries, and are making ready to act in concert on the wider field of international relations.

All these organised national Socialist parties hold the same opinions. They have a clearly defined and generally accepted theory as to the past, the present, and probable future of human society taken as a whole. However much their tactics may vary in order to meet local requirements, they are agreed as to the main lines of the policy which should be adopted in order to help forward the great general transformation which is everywhere going on. At all the important international Congresses held during the past ten years, there has been no difference of principle between the various national corps of the main international Socialist army. Such disputes or disturbances as occurred have arisen from the foolish admission to these gatherings of people whose fundamental principles are entirely opposed to those of that social-democracy which now comprises the overwhelming majority of Socialists in every country. Argument and discussion there must necessarily be when men and women even of the same views meet to consider the difficulties and complications of our existing industrial and commercial systems; but there is no longer any difference of opinion as to the groundwork of their creed, and the governing classes in all countries have now to face the strenuous and unceasing opposition of educated and determined men, who feel quite confident that the future is to them.

Hitherto, there has been a disposition everywhere on the part of those in authority and their hangers-on in the Churches and Universities, to scoff at Socialism as one of those popular delusions that have swept vast multitudes on to do, or try to do, they scarcely knew what, of which history gives us several important examples. But the steady advance of Socialist opinion, and the acceptance of Socialist theories by some of the ablest writers and thinkers in all countries, has checked this tendency to make fun of the whole movement; and now a feeling of curiosity and anxiety, not to say of fear, is being manifested, which contrasts markedly with the previous indifference or derision. An uneasy suspicion is even being aroused in many minds that the Socialists may after all be right, and that the present form of society, like other forms of society which preceded it, must inevitably undergo a crucial transformation; while at the same time the drawbacks to our existing social arrangements, and the terrible contrasts between riches and poverty, in view of the enormous power to produce wealth now at the disposal of mankind, become more and more obvious each day.

The theories which meet with such wide acceptance among the working people of all nationalities, and are now forcing their way among the well-to-do on both sides of the Atlantic, are, however, as is well known, not based on any preconceived ideas or a priori reasoning. "Utopian Socialism," as it has been called, has nowadays little influence. Even the most carefully conceived experiments which aim at withdrawing people from their surroundings and establishing small oases of co-operation outside the prevailing wilderness of competition, meet with little but ridicule from modern Socialists. It is the whole sweep of society which we aspire to influence and control; not by getting out of it, but by living in it; not by denouncing it, but by understanding it and bringing others to understand it. Then, as the result of such general comprehension of the facts around us, we propose to attain through collective management the complete domination of the entire business of the community, by and for the benefit of all its members.

Hence there are two sides to our view of sociology: the historical side, which treats of the growth of man in society through ages past up to our capitalist society of to-day; and the practical side, which takes account of the facts of our own time arising out of the general unconscious development of society, and endeavours to handle them, through an educated and disciplined democracy, to the general advantage of coming generations.

Thus we contend that the economic condition of any given society was and is the main, though by no means the sole, factor in determining its general arrangements, and that every successive social development on a large scale has been the inevitable result of some important change in the economic relations previously existing; each modification as it occurs having had to struggle hard in order to make its way through the social forms, customs, laws, religions bequeathed to the community from the earlier stages. For example, the enslavement of captives as family or tribal servants, which replaced immediate butchery or cannibalism, only took place when such enslaved captives, owing to the progress of man's power over nature, could produce more than their keep. Similarly the private ownership of cattle or plots of land, due likewise to economic causes, split up the primitive collective property, constituted the first step in the dissolution of the ancient communities, and in the course of ages substituted property relations for those of kinship, which had at first entirely dominated social arrangements. The development of private property on an ever-increasing scale, as commerce and class rule came in to extend the new conditions, rendered unavoidable all that followed, up to and including the great slave-supported civilisations of antiquity.

At a much later period the failure of the Roman armies to conquer, or even to hold their own against, the barbarian tribes on the frontiers dried up the sources of the slave supply for the great slave-worked estates of the Roman Empire, and enforced the abandonment of that costly and exhausting method of cultivating the land in huge masses for the advantage of the rich, which had already impoverished so much of the magnificent soil of Italy. Morality or religion was not involved in the changes. In all cases a distinct economic advance, or economic breakdown, according as it is viewed from behind or from the front, brought about a complete change in all the social conditions of the period. Similarly, the onward march from feudalism, with its attendant villenage and personal relations, to a society in which wealth at the top and free men and wage-earners at the bottom were the main features, brought with it a complete alteration in the social structure of the entire community. The methods of production being modified below the whole of society, including its laws and religion, necessarily underwent a corresponding, though gradual, change above. So, in like manner, when the great machine industry and world-wide commerce entailed still further development in the same direction, what survived of the old personal relations and local restrictions disappeared, and nothing but money relations became the rule with civilised mankind.

And now, once more, this great capitalist period, as we contend, is coming to an end; not by reason of the disgust of mankind at large with its ethical wrong-doing, or class injustice, but because, like all the old systems of production which have preceded it, and have passed away, it blocks the path of further progress, and is, therefore, now engaged in digging its own grave. Free competition, which was the life of the earlier individual capitalism, is gradually being swept away by stupendous companies, national and international. Even Protection in many countries fosters this new growth.

The manifold antagonisms of our modern life, between gold and commodities, between organisation in the factory and anarchy in the exchange, between production for use and production for profit, between country and town, &c., are all becoming merged in the one crucial antagonism between the wage-earners as a class and the capitalists as a class; which, again, is due to the economic antagonism, engendered at the very inception of the capitalist system, between social production for social purposes and individual control of the products so created for the purpose of making an individual profit. The workers, who have only their labour-power to sell for wages in order to obtain subsistence, are combining every day more and more closely on the one side: the capitalist class, which obtains its wealth by the value produced in excess of the wages by the workers, is combining every day more and more closely on the other. Above the two combatants the State, which, after having wholly abandoned its functions, has been compelled, as the organised force of the community, to interfere in order to protect, for the national benefit, the lives and health of the workers, to prevent the wholesale sacrifice of children by the capitalists, to secure the general education of the people and to mitigate the class war, is now also driven to assume control of great public services, and is hesitating as to how far this system can be advantageously extended. Municipalities, also, are proceeding in the same direction, and collective is being substituted for individual or company agency in every direction, even by men who proclaim themselves the bitterest opponents of Socialism in every shape.

Throughout the development from first to last this progress has been wholly unconscious. Mankind so far have been ignorant whither they went. The wisest have been as much in the dark as the most foolish. No intelligent attempt has been made to direct the course of the social evolution which has landed us, as a huge collection of sentient automata, in an industrial system whose nature we have but just begun to comprehend. Now, however, the time has come when we, who reap the heritage of this long succession of human sufferings, are able to foresee to some extent the line which events are taking, and to prepare for the approaching changes as reasonable beings should. Hence, though all Social Democrats are agreed that the inevitable outcome of scientific discovery and social transformation will be a series of co-operative commonwealths coming ever closer to one another, in which universal co-operation for existence and enjoyment will be substituted for anarchical competition for riches and misery, in which also economic antagonisms being entirely removed class distinctions will of necessity disappear, and the class State will be swept away for ever; nevertheless, and in spite of this acceptance of inevitable change, Socialists as a body agree that attempts must be made, even under present conditions, to ameliorate the conditions of life for the proletariat, or propertyless wage-earners, of every nation, and have agreed upon certain palliatives at international congress after international congress, as being applicable to the workers of every country.

Such measures are the reduction of the labour day to eight hours or less; the establishment of one full day of rest in each week for the workers in all trades and businesses; the abolition of child labour in factories and workshops before the age of sixteen; the maintenance at State charge of the children in all board schools up to the same age; the complete suppression of trades which are proved to be necessarily injurious to health, and the more thorough provision of sanitary conditions in all factories; the restriction as far as possible of night work. These and a few other measures are regarded, I say, as immediately applicable to all civilised countries, and, though first proposed by Socialists, are now advocated by many who have no sympathy with Socialist doctrines as a whole. By degrees they will probably be adopted by the different Governments in order to gain popularity, or to head off, as they think, the dangerous Socialist agitation. But every such advance made towards the attainment of a higher standard of life, better education, and generally improved conditions of existence for the mass of the people, tells in favour of the earlier victory for our final programme, the acceptance of which in the meantime is fostered by irrepressible economic causes, and is resolutely championed by the members of the party in every country.

That a population which is physically deteriorated or badly educated affords a most unpromising field for Socialist propaganda has long since been fully admitted; and it is surely noteworthy that it is precisely the best educated people in Europe, the Germans, who have the most formidable Social-Democratic party of all at the present time.

Such theories of material historic development, such proposals for immediate practical reforms, such growing power for political, and even in case of unbearable oppression from above, for forcible action, held, advocated and attained by the Socialist party of the world, can scarcely fail to produce a cumulative effect on modern society as time goes on. The increasing tendency to widen the area of the public services has its effect also in the same direction; though for the time being the control of these services by the State may, in some cases, apparently strengthen a reactionary bureaucracy. Consequently, there was never a period when Socialists regarded the immediate future with more confidence than they do to-day. If here and there a momentary slackening of the tidal flow may be detected, this is more than made up for by the steady onward sweep of the whole stream, while the elements of internal dissension which in times past have threatened both national and international Socialist parties are at present of less significance than usual.


Socialism being thus widespread at the present time, and influencing modern thought and action in every direction, it would naturally be expected that Great Britain, the country in which the great machine industry, with its complementary distributing agents, canals, railways, and steamships, first developed, would be also the country in which these theories, growing as they do out of the capitalist system, would find the most general acceptance. Forty or fifty years ago it was taken for granted by the Socialist leaders that this would be the case; and to this day Continental Socialists cannot understand why it is that this island, where the original aristocracy of labour, in the form of the Trade Unions of skilled workers, is more powerful than anywhere else, has fallen behind other nations in the creation of a vigorous and effective Socialist party, as well as in the adoption of thorough democratic political forms. The fact is indisputable. While Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and other countries have many Socialist deputies in their respective National Assemblies, there is not a single Socialist in the House of Commons; nor do recent elections show that there is much chance of our obtaining a seat in the national assembly, for the next three or four years at any rate. Even in constituencies where the working classes could return any candidate they choose, as at Barnsley or Middleton, they still prefer to elect as their representatives men of the employing class, who have made fortunes at their expense, instead of selecting Trade Unionists or Socialists who would directly champion their own class interests.

It is true that our political forms are at least a hundred years behind our economic development, and that the absence of universal suffrage, of payment of registration and election expenses out of the public purse, of payment of members, of shortened periods of qualification for voting and of the second ballot, puts the English workers at a great disadvantage in elections as compared with many of their Continental brethren. But, on the other hand, our complete freedom of speech, of the press, and of combination give opportunities here which are too often lacking in countries where the Socialist party is strongest. Granted that great political reforms are still needed before Great Britain can be considered electorally a democratic country in the sense in which France or even Germany or Italy is a democratic country; the truth remains that, so far, the English and Scotch workers, even where they have the power to do precisely what they please, and the expense is of no great moment, fail to exercise their power, as an ever-growing proportion of the workers on the Continent exercise it, in favour of Socialist candidates.

The nation which affords to the students of the world the classical ground for studying working-class movements; where capitalism in its modern shape attained full development a generation or more before it did so elsewhere; where the Chartists gave the first example of a determined and intelligent working-class revolt against the domination of unscrupulous employers; where the Legislature was first compelled to enact laws protecting women and children, and to some extent men, from the ruthless greed and cruelty of a money-getting class; where the direct influence of the Trade Union leaders on Governments first became very considerable, two of them having actually held important office as a tribute to that influence; where the great co-operative societies first became industrially important — this nation is now in many respects by no means abreast of the Continental peoples, and is actually unable or unwilling to carry out international agreements for the benefit of the children of the workers, in accordance with the understanding arrived at even by the Governments some years ago in Berlin. This surely is a very remarkable state of things, and one not to be explained by some passing reference to the "innate conservatism of Englishmen." For the past forty years at least there has been a growing disinclination to use the funds and forces of organised Trade Unionism for political purposes on independent lines. Unions which contain in their statutes direct reference to and provision for such action, refuse to move directly in a political sense in order to gain advantages for themselves and their class. No experience hitherto has taught them wisdom in this matter. Pitmen, cotton hands, railway men, dock labourers, engineers, have all so far shut their eyes as trade unionists to the effective and economical powers of political action which lie ready to their hand; though it is quite certain that if one-half of the money, energy, and self-sacrifice recently expended by the engineers, not to speak of other trades, on their great strike and lock-out had been devoted to political action, an eight-hour day by legislative enactment would by this time have been secured for every trade in the country. Clearly there are some general causes at work here to blind the workers to their own true interests.

The situation is even worse in regard to the metropolis taken by itself. Every other capital in Europe is the most active centre of the advanced movement in the nation. Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Brussels, Copenhagen, all lead the way in their respective countries; in each the Socialist party is extremely formidable, and is possessed of an influence, as on the Municipal Council of Paris, out of all proportion to its mere voting power. London, on the other hand, returns to Parliament a large majority of actual reactionists, and boasts of not a single vigorous Socialist on its County Council of its School Board. Socialists, it is true, figure frequently on the metropolitan Vestries and Boards of Guardians; and in outlying districts such as West Ham and Southend the Social-Democratic Party have recently astonished the inhabitants by returning their candidates to the local Councils by a very large poll. But the contrast between London as a whole and other capitals is none the less striking from the political point of view.

Nor is this contrast rendered any more intelligible when we look at the history of the great centre of capitalism and commercialism. For centuries London led the nation; and even within the last twenty-five years no one could have predicted the advent of such a period of apathy and reaction among nearly six millions of people as that which now we see. A marked instance of this apathy and reaction has been afforded by the attitude of the "Progressive" candidates for the School Board for London at the late election in regard to the "Compromise" which admits of religious teaching in the public Board schools. When this Compromise was arranged in the House of Commons, seven-and-twenty years ago, 1 well remember that the advanced party, in and out of Parliament, was most indignant, and denounced the whole arrangement as a scandalous breach of faith and betrayal to the enemy. Today, a generation later, the representatives of the same party cling to that Compromise as a sacred trust, and vilify Socialists as wild revolutionaries because they have the audacity to declare that the State or Municipal schools should have nothing whatever to do with teaching the Bible as a religious book. Apart from the return of Parliamentary candidates, matters are a little better in the Provinces so far as regards the return of Socialists on local bodies. But it is questionable whether, in spite of appearances, London as a whole is much behind the cities of the north; whether indeed Socialism will not obtain its first serious victories in England in London.

Now, it certainly cannot be said that Great Britain is so fortunate in its social arrangements at the present time that the workers require less attention here than elsewhere from the standpoint of Socialism. Notwithstanding the vast increase of wealth during the past five-and-twenty or thirty years, the condition of the mass of the people has assuredly not improved in anything approaching the same ratio. Though wages are on the whole higher for the better class of workers, and the purchasing power of these wages is greater than it has ever yet been, there is nowadays no longer so much need as there was twenty years ago to point out that, as a set-off to this improvement, vast masses of our city populations live in a condition of deplorable misery and that even the "respectable poor" are very badly off. Such facts as that 4,000,000 out of our population receive charity in one shape or another during the year; that twenty-five per cent, of the people die either in the workhouse, the pauper lunatic asylum, or the hospital; that the deterioration in the physique and general development of the dwellers in our cities is the matter of constant complaint and regret upon the part of doctors and others; that at least 55,000 children, according to middle class testimony, go to school breakfastless in London, without reference to those who, being half-fed, are almost equally unable to take advantage of the teaching provided, and that the state of things in other great cities is not much better; that the periods of stagnation and out-of-work, with their consequent uncertainty and starvation for thousands, come more frequently and last longer when they come; that the over-crowding and consequent lack of fresh air or opportunities for healthy exercise is everywhere becoming more serious, in spite of efforts made in Glasgow and other great cities to cope with this crying evil; that the people have been swept by economical causes, including the injurious policy of the railways, from the country districts into the towns; and that we now are dependent on foreign sources for our food supplies to the extent of £50,000,000 annually — these facts, I say, thus briefly summed up, show clearly that the need for a powerful Socialist party to stir up thought and compel action on behalf of the people in a collective sense is nowhere more obvious than in the leading capitalist country of the world. The physical and mental deterioration of the mass of our city population alone requires immediate and continuous attention in the interest of the whole community, if the majority of the nation is not soon to consist of a mass of anaemic degenerates.

No greater contrast can be imagined than that daily presented by the physical development of the upper and middle classes and the physical decay of large masses of the workers. The young men and young women of the well-to-do section of our society are splendid specimens of humanity — certainly much finer, taken all round, than their fathers and mothers were before them. The average weight of the crews rowing in the University race at Putney has increased, for instance, no fewer than nine pounds per man during the last thirty years; an extraordinary increase, accompanied by at least a proportionate physical improvement in the students not so specially endowed. In every sport and pastime the records of past champions are lowered with ease; while at the same time the length of life yearly increases as measured by the tables of the actuaries, and the enjoyment of existence has certainly not diminished. Compare all this healthy growth with the statistics of working class physical deterioration as given in by certifying surgeons, recruiting sergeants, dispensary doctors, and district visitors, and it is quite clear that we have little reason to congratulate ourselves upon any great general improvement. Mere averages in such matters are proverbially misleading; but it is noteworthy that Mr. Charles Booth, who began his researches into London poverty with a view to refuting the "exaggerations" of Socialists like myself, proved conclusively by his exhaustive investigations that we had greatly understated the squalor of the conditions in which hundreds of thousands of the London workers exist. Similar careful inquiry in the great cities of the North of England and Scotland would give similar results.

But if the effect of capitalist domination in Great Britain to-day is to stunt the physical, moral, and intellectual development of an increasing proportion of the population; if in public education, and in care for our children in other respects, we are falling behind France, Germany, and even America; if the infamous half-time system is still allowed to flourish, to the permanent injury of the rising generation, in spite of international protest; then it can scarcely be honestly contended that the well-being of the individual citizen, upon which so much stress is laid in some quarters, is best secured by allowing all individuals (children included) to shift for themselves in order to secure the survival of the fittest. The fittest to survive in our slums, and even, to some extent, in the better workingclass districts, are the physically unfit to carry on the most important duties of the community. In such circumstances the extension of the sphere of collective action becomes a necessity, in order to secure that higher standard of citizenship which can alone develop the individual, and at the same time strengthen the nation.


I have said that the Continental Socialists, as a rule, are surprised at the slow progress which Socialism is making in England, and are quite at a loss to account for it. The reasons for falling behind are not far to seek; though in order to admit them as correct we must throw over the arguments and predictions of the leaders of Socialist thought of five and twenty or thirty years ago. It is manifestly not true that the earlier development of capitalism of necessity entails, in the community which has led the way in this respect, the earlier development of organised Socialism. On the contrary, the complete capitalist predominance in industrial England has been the main cause of the reactionary attitude of the workers at the present time. The principal reasons of our lack of rapid success, so far, in England, may thus be summed up: —

(1) Three generations of capitalist supremacy, during which the working class of Englishmen have become accustomed to regard themselves as city wage-earners, and nothing more, have crippled their capacity for rising above their surroundings. By about the year 1870 nearly all traces of Chartism, Owenism, or any advanced movement in a social sense had died down. The ideas of obtaining possession of the land, machinery, and distributive agencies for the benefit of the whole community, which were quite common during the revolt against capitalism in the first half of the century, had altogether faded from men's minds. Until the commencement of the Socialist propaganda by the Social-Democratic Federation in 1881 and 1882, there was literally no active movement among the people in favour of an improvement in their conditions of life.

(2) Inferior education has left the mass of Englishmen incapable of the mental vigour and alertness which are necessary to understand and apply the principles of Socialism. Everything which does not come easily within the scope of their superficial knowledge is regarded by them as no concern of theirs. They want what is immediate, practical, economical. In fact, the English workers as a whole are imbued with all the views and prejudices of the third-rate middle class.

(3) Political economy as taught in the public schools has been entirely devoted to the spread of shopkeeper and profitmonger ideas of the arrangements proper for any given society.

(4) Religious teaching and religious organisations have resolutely kept in view the subordination of the workers to their superiors in the matter of wealth. Religion and cant, hypocrisy and respectability, have more influence in Great Britain than anywhere else in the world.

(5) The apathy and indifference — the most formidable allies of reaction — engendered in our great cities by insufficient food, bad clothing, wretched housing, and impure air. A large proportion of our population is so low down that it does not appreciate or complain of its own degradation. Poverty below a certain level inevitably breeds reaction. The very poor don't even care to vote at a School Board election in favour of the interests of their own children. Coals and blankets in the winter, systematically distributed, and subscriptions to local clubs of one sort or another, have bought constituency after constituency for members of the House of Commons. Immediate needs outweigh every prospect of future advantage. They have, too, a ludicrous and misplaced sense of dignity. "What do you mean by calling this a slum, mister?" called out one of the listeners when a Socialist was holding forth in perhaps the most miserable district of all London; "I lives here." Similar cases have often occurred elsewhere. What hope is there of people like that?

(6) The great Trade Union organisations have formed, as Bronterre O'Brien predicted they would form, an aristocracy of labour, which until within the last few years has had little in common with the mass of the working population, and in no sense hitherto have the Unions acted as leaders of the whole mass of toilers, as their Socialist comrades have on the Continent. The influence of skilled Unionists up to quite a recent date has indeed been actually reactionary in many directions, standing as obstacles in the path of organised Socialism.

(7) Our political forms are, as already said, a hundred years at least behind our economic development. The governing classes have very cleverly given the people the appearance of democracy, but have carefully hedged the concessions round by so many limitations and restrictions that the control is still absolutely in the hands of the great landlords and capitalists.

(8) The aristocracy here is much more astute than the aristocracy on the Continent, and this applies also to the governing class generally. A policy of repression has been given up for nearly fifty years. A policy of acceptance and postponement, and purchase of active working class leaders, has been adopted instead. Great interest is pretended to be taken in all matters of social reform; Royal Commissions are appointed which examine, report, and adjourn, and do nothing; charitable agencies and five-per-cent. philanthropic companies are established, and thus the sting is taken out of any agitation, so that the system, with, of course, its hideous accompanying degradation, may "last our time."

(9) The capitalist newspapers, instead of vehemently backing the capitalist interests, which they really represent, advocate all so-called "moderate" reforms, flatter those working-class leaders who are in no way dangerous, and resolutely boycott the Socialist movement in every way.

That Socialism should have been able to make headway in Great Britain, notwithstanding all these obstacles and without funds, is surely evidence of the soundness of our principles. If our advance has been slow, it has undoubtedly been sure. Moreover, it can no longer be contended that there is any of the attraction of novelty in the matter. We have been at work in Great Britain now for just seventeen years; for in January, 1881, it may truly be said that there was no Socialist organisation and scarcely any Socialist propaganda of any kind in Great Britain. Not only so, but there was practically no Socialist literature. The old orthodox or classical political economy held the field almost unchallenged. Laissez-faire and Free Trade were still the doctrines of both political parties: the impulse given by the Factory Act agitation having spent its force. Though John Stuart Mill proclaimed himself a Socialist in his autobiography, Socialism was regarded by the educated and uneducated alike as a sort of fad which had a terrible side to it in the tremendous fanaticism that made most of its adherents enemies of society and of the human race. The frightful scenes which wound up the brief existence of the Commune of Paris were still regarded by most Englishmen from the point of view of M. Thiers and the Versailles troops, as being the natural outcome of Socialism and Communism. As to the English Trade Unions, they were as much opposed to Socialism as were the middle-class vestries, the House of Commons, and the Churches. The less the members understood about it the more hostile they were. It was all that Adam Weiler, the German cabinet-maker, could do to get a hearing when, year after year, with a courage and persistence which will ever do honour to his memory, he brought forward his resolution in favour of an eight hours' day, and tried to put a little Socialism into the heads of his fellow delegates. As with the skilled so with the unskilled labourers, they were wage-earners first, last, and altogether. Socialism had no root in their past, and no prospect of influencing their future.

What a change to-day. Two vigorous and well-organised Socialist bodies — the Social-Democratic Federation and the Independent Labour Party — daily coming closer to one another, have active branches in every large town and representatives on local boards throughout the country. Go where you will, Socialists are to be found who work cordially with the older or the younger of these two organisations, or with both. In addition, the Fabian Society, which still exercises some influence on the middle class, the Labour and Brotherhood Churches, and small separate societies in various centres are engaged, at any rate, in sapping the old economic and political opinions. A complete library of Socialist books and pamphlets has been created in the English language, and any student can now acquire a thorough knowledge of our theories and principles in our own tongue. Poets and professors, artists and authors, men of science and men of business, engineers, architects, and decorators of the highest distinction are all openly proclaiming themselves Socialists; that is to say, men who are in favour of the ownership and control of the great wealth-producing forces of modern society by the community at large. Even the newspapers cannot keep clear of the subject, and phrases first made use of by Socialist writers have become the commonplaces of leading articles and of ordinary conversation. The Church has followed, as usual, the general popular current, and, apart from avowed Christian Socialists — of whom there is a considerable number — many of the clergy are adopting Socialist palliatives as essential to check the deterioration which they see going on around them; while no less important a personage than the Bishop of Durham declared, in one of his addresses, that capitalism was by no means the last stage in the history of human development.

Among the workers the general change of tone and thought, though not as yet of action, is quite as remarkable. True, they have not yet broken loose from the ties of the old bourgeois factions and their outworn shibboleths, in the matter of political voting; but in their general attitude towards Socialism a marked change of front can be noted. At the annual Trade Union Congress the old reactionary element — the Mawdsleys, the David Holmes, the Pickards — have found it quite impossible, even by the enactment of new and arbitrary rules of exclusion, to prevent the Socialists from capturing each successive Congress; and, so far as voting goes, it is not too much to say that the great majority of the delegates of the "aristocracy of labour" are now committed to the Socialist programme. The advance cannot, of course, be traced so clearly as this among the unorganised and unskilled workers, but the impossibility of getting any opposition to Socialist doctrines from the largest audiences, either in or out of doors, proves clearly which way the tide is setting. Even the old notion that Socialists are necessarily the party of destruction has been exploded, and many who do not at all share our general opinions now speak of the class war, which they formerly referred to in tones of horror, as being a necessity of present social conditions.

Thus, though the evidence of the spread of Socialism in England does not as yet appear to the extent which might reasonably be expected in the ballot-boxes either at Parliamentary or municipal elections, it cannot be disputed that the whole of English society is permeated with Socialist ideas, and that the liquefied theories, so to say, might at any moment crystallise into a really powerful Socialist party in response to a shock from without.


Meanwhile, the unconscious development which must, as we hold, eventually bring with it Socialism, whether we wish it or not, is proceeding apace. The growth of monopoly in the shape of huge non-competing companies has not as yet attained the same proportions in the United Kingdom that it has in the United States, where nearly every great industry has been "cornered" or "combined" into a Trust. But matters here have progressed much further in this direction already than the people at large are at all aware of. On the railways, to begin with, competition between different companies to the same point has been quite given up both for freight and passengers. This great monopoly of transport holds the agriculture and trade of Great Britain in its grip, and a few boards of directors, by their excessive charges for freight of all kinds, and their discriminating rates for imported goods, constitute the heaviest system of protection in favour of the foreigner that the world has ever seen. Moreover, the State has actually encouraged and helped on the growth of this vast monopoly, by permitting the railway companies to acquire and crush their only possible competitors, the canals. To such an absurd point has this favouritism of a private monopoly of the great highways of the island been carried, that the Government itself is now in more than one instance sending its own supplies and parcels by road to their destination, this being cheaper than their conveyance by rail. Even under existing economic conditions the noncompeting railway companies are a curse to the industry of the people, no important improvement being possible as things stand.

Again, in the domain of shipping, "rings" of shipowners are the rule rather than the exception. Competition here, as with the railways, is practically at an end between competing lines or companies to the same port. The Eastern trade, the Cape trade, the Australian trade, and to an ever-increasing extent the American trade, are all in the hands of monopolists who with their heavy weight of capital can crush any would-be competitors by carrying at cost or even at a loss for a time.

In industry the like tendency to abandon competition in favour of combination and monopoly may every where be seen. The price of coal in the great cities is no longer a matter of competition. It is settled by a "ring" of producers and distributors; and the coal-owners and coal-factors are continually combining in the form of larger limited companies to curtail further the competition which still exists, and to wipe out the smaller men. The iron industry affords examples of the same movement. Such firms as Armstrong's and Whitworth's, Vickers, and the great shipbuilding works of Barrow and Maxims have already combined, and still greater schemes of combination are on foot. Even now there is no free market in steel or iron rails. A "ring" has been formed which fixes the price, and the orders which may come into the market are divided up among the combined firms at this agreed rate. Here it may be observed America, Belgium, and Germany have cut in and undersold the English rail ring in the open world market. But even international competition, as Mr. Joseph Chamberlain showed us in the screw trade, need not necessarily be permanent. When the principle of combination against the public demand is once admitted, instead of competition for the public supply, a few thousand miles of water will not long interfere with arrangements that may seem beneficial to the new monopolists.

But from the national standpoint alone it is clear that every increase in the amount of capital necessary to carry on a productive business with success in any given department, tends in favour of larger and larger combinations of competing firms, and renders it possible for these great companies, when once formed, to close the field to newcomers, or smaller producers, by selling at unprofitable rates for a time. This growth has been observable of late in the sewing cotton industry, where the great combination of Coats, Clarke, and Jonas Brooks has forced a number of minor manufacturers into a similar common understanding, with ultimately, no doubt, the intention of coming to terms with the Paisley firms originally federated, and thus controlling the entire market. And so I might go on, in the fields of production and distribution alike, showing the growth of national industrial combination as against the free competition which is still supposed to exist by superficial economists. At the present moment, besides the instances given, there is no free market in antimony, no free market in nickel, no free market in mercury, no free market in lead pipes, no free market in the fish supply, no free market in petroleum, and so on and so on. In fact, we free Englishmen are ringed and rounded up by a set of industrial and commercial monopolists, whose operations pass at present quite unchallenged, and for the most part unnoticed.

The very men, however, who declaim most strongly against any organisation of industry and distribution in the hands of the community for the general benefit are stone blind to the drawbacks arising from these vast "trustifications," to use an Americanism, against the common good. Clearly the outlet for individual initiative and energy is quite as much circumscribed by these great monopolist combinations, with their hundreds of thousands or millions of dependent and permanent wage-earners, as it could possibly be by any system of employment in a series of public departments; without the advantages in every direction which such public services would offer to the public servants, who would then comprise the entire adult community.

At any rate, the result of this growth of combination and "trustification" has been to bring the employers in every trade closer and closer together. The industrial combination against the public consumers brings with it a class combination against the private wage-earners, or actual producers. The Trade Unions, and the workers generally, have no longer to face individual employers in any industry, but a solid federation of employers. In the United States not a single successful strike has been seen during the past ten years in any "trustified" industry. Our engineers, unfortunately, had not watched the signs of the times when they began their short-sighted attack upon individual employers in the London district. Nor is this combination of employers to resist the demands of their men by any means confined to the engineering trade. The railway directors, the shipping managers, the coal-owners, the cotton-spinners and weavers, the wool manufacturers, and so on, are all coming together and making common cause against the "hands" in their respective trades. Only public opinion and the fear of the intervention of Parliament compels the masters to agree to conference or arbitration. They feel themselves strong enough to win in the long run if the State will only confine itself to a policy of non-intervention. The rapid improvements in automatic machinery, and the impossibility of competition on a small scale, are, on the one hand, weakening the highly skilled trades, and, on the other hand, securing the permanence of the masters' position under the existing system. Strikes henceforth are as hopeless as they have always been ruinous. Yet the complete domination of the masters cannot be beneficial.

The concentration of the strength of the masters, however, is leading inevitably to the concentration of the strength of the workers. Already the talk of a federation of trades and of political action through the ballot-box is beginning to take a practical shape. Home combination and foreign competition are teaching even the ignorant and apathetic English workers a sharp lesson. On all sides, quite aside from the organised Socialists, the admission is being made that the old methods of warfare against the employing class are worthless; and before very long the most reactionary of the wage-earners above the level of semi-starvation and anaemic apathy will be forced to use their political power to secure their social emancipation; and that this can only be brought about by collective and communal action is scarcely disputed now, even by our opponents. The State, which has been compelled to interfere in order partially to protect, must be pushed on to organise in order to secure the full personal development of the mass of Englishmen against the callous irresponsibility of boards of directors and shareholders, and to control the monopolies in the interest of the entire population.

Already also municipalities, impelled by the necessities of the case and the Socialist agitation, are beginning to act in a collective sense. Though the provision and the control of gas, water, tramways, schools, parks, libraries, baths and washhouses, coffee-houses, warmed refuges, &c., by local councils do not in any sense involve Socialism, seeing that the employees of the municipality are still paid very poor wages; nevertheless, each step taken in the direction of such partial collectivism is a lesson in public as against private or company administration, and to some extent reduces the distance which we have to traverse before we attain the full stage of a co-operative commonwealth. The growing tendency for even avowedly reactionary bodies, like the Corporation of the City of London, to produce articles for their own use, the revolt against the employment of contractors as middlemen, as well as the payment by public functionaries of a rate of wages measured in some degree by a fair standard of life for the recipients, instead of by the extent to which it may be possible to trade upon the necessities of the workers, are all evidences of the general movement in a Socialist direction where municipal matters are involved; in the same way that the extensions of the Factory Acts, the Health Acts, the Compensation for Injury Acts, the Education Acts, and the Adulteration of Food Acts, are manifest recognitions that the State has other duties than those of merely national defence, or of making profits out of performing public services. Nevertheless, all these changes are, in the main, unconscious gropings towards Socialism as the consolidation of the two sides of the great class struggle already referred to. The danger, so far as Great Britain is concerned, is that causes without or within may bring about the downfall of the present industrial system before the people at large have been educated sufficiently to appreciate what is taking place around them, or to organise their methods of production and distribution on a new basis.


There are some Socialists who contend that the duty of active workers in the movement is to confine themselves to pointing out the facts of modern economic and social development to the mass of the people, refraining altogether from endeavouring to chart out a definite policy for the future. There are others again who, regardless of the truth that nearly all the most important work of Socialism has been done by men of the well-to-do classes, continually urge that the workers can only be emancipated by the workers themselves. It is certain, however, that in social affairs, as in other branches of human thought and action, no great advance can be beneficially made without some knowledge of what it is that we are striving to attain. And it is equally certain that no economically enslaved class has ever yet been freed by the action of its own members alone. If Socialists are necessarily democrats, and proclaim themselves Social-Democrats, this, therefore, arises not from any profound confidence in the wisdom of the mass of the people, who in existing conditions are too apathetic or too ignorant to understand what will benefit them; but because it is quite impossible to have a genuine co-operative commonwealth without educated Socialists, and the dangers of even a partially educated democracy seem to be less than those which must be encountered under a Caesarism or a bureaucracy — the only possible alternatives.

In England, consequently, the first duty of all Socialists is to check the physical degeneration which is going on, especially in our great cities; to improve the whole system of public education while extending the age of compulsory attendance at school; and to completely democratise our national, municipal, and other institutions, so that the entire people may directly control the government and administration of the country, centrally and locally.

To check the physical (and consequently moral and intellectual) deterioration which all deplore, and at the same time to bring about that better attendance at school which the conservative Sir John Gorst himself declares is essential, three steps are absolutely necessary to begin with: —

(1) State maintenance of the children in all Board schools up to the age of sixteen, and the removal of the schools as far as possible into the country.

The objections to these proposals are (a) that if parents were thus relieved of the cost of keeping their children the country would soon become over-populated; (b) that the children would be pauperised; (c) that the cost would be excessive and ruinous; (d) that it would be a monstrous interference with the responsibility of the parents for their children.

To these objections it may fairly be replied that the power of man to produce wealth now increases far more rapidly than any increase of population known; that, besides, well-fed populations notoriously increase less rapidly than ill-fed; that all children are dependent on others for their food — certainly the children of the rich are, and they are not pauperised — while the children of those who produce the wealth of the country and support the other classes are worthy of special consideration; that the expense of feeding and clothing would be economical if it stopped degeneracy, emptied the workhouses, gaols, and lunatic asylums, and provided the nation with vigorous, capable men and women; that in any case the antagonistic argument on the score of expense is really one in favour of leaving the children untended, putting aside the fact that much of the expense is even now most inefficiently incurred in private families; that the State has already seriously interfered with parental authority and responsibility, and compels parents to send their children to schools over which they have virtually no control, and in which the sanitary conditions are not always by any means what they ought to be; that also it is sheer waste to provide education for half-starved or ill-fed children at the public expense, and is grossly unfair to the teachers into the bargain. In short, free maintenance of children is the necessary complement to free education; both being essential to the well-being of the community and to be demanded as a right, not doled out as charity. That the children cannot as individuals secure for themselves that full subsistence which is essential in childhood needs no demonstration even to those who talk about pauper children. With respect to their being educated as far as possible in the country instead of in the cities, no one who has compared the physical appearance of workhouse or truant children brought up in a good workhouse or truant school* in the country with that of the children of quite respectable parents brought up in the cities can have any doubt as to the need for this change likewise, in the interest of the country at large as well as of the children themselves as individuals.

(2) The suppression by law of all half-time work, or work for wages, by children up to the age of sixteen. This is now universally admitted as desirable. The physical and moral deterioration brought about by the employment of half-timers is the constant theme of doctors and teachers alike. The only opponents of this preservative measure are the employers who want cheap child labour, and the greedy and short-sighted parents who sweat their own children at the cost not only of the children's health, but of keeping down their own rates of wages by the competition of these babes.

(3) Improved homes for the people built at public cost, and outside the present city areas, with plenty of air, parks, gardens, and pleasure grounds. There is no need to argue in favour of this. The utter failure of municipal or individual effort to cope with the crying evil of overcrowding and high rents in our great cities is obvious to all; but no attempt has been made to deal with the question seriously by national and local effort combined. The report of the Royal Commission of 1880, seventeen years ago, has, like nearly all such reports, remained useless for any practical purpose.

(4) Improved education, which shall not be mere book instruction, with a material diminution of the numbers of the children to be taught by one master or one mistress. No teacher can adequately handle more than thirty children, at the outside, at one time. Yet classes of seventy and eighty are still quite common. In such improved education as is advocated, leading from the Board Schools up to the Universities, it is clear that general industrial and manual training, as well as instruction in agriculture, must form an important feature in the curriculum if half-time is to be abolished. The advantage of such manual and agricultural training as giving aptitude for work in all trades has been proved conclusively, alike on the Continent, in this country, and in the United States of America. It is a necessary preliminary to the more definite technical training which must follow. So far manual training has been most narrowly and inefficiently taught in our public schools.

There are other matters of detail which might be insisted upon. But if the matter were regarded from the standpoint of wide national interest, and the suggested measures were carried at once, the physical degeneration of the mass of the people would be arrested, and the next generation of Englishmen and Englishwomen would, as a whole, be equal to the duties which they will be called upon to perform. At any rate, to continue to enlarge upon the glories of the Empire abroad, and to spend yearly about £40,000,000 to defend these shores from invasion and our commerce and colonies from attack, while permitting the people at home to deteriorate, seems to "wild Socialists" a piece of ruinous folly, even from the "practical" standpoint of the Imperial policy. We claim that the most important and useful application that can be made of the collective national power is to develop the faculties of each individual of the community to the highest extent. A nation whose citizens were thus physically and intellectually trained would have little reason to fear any attempts upon its independence.

At the present time the State is by far the greatest employer of labour in the United Kingdom. The Post Office, parcel post, telegraphs, savings banks, arsenals, dockyards, clothing establishments, factories, and public offices employ men and women in vast numbers, with as little regard for their general well-being as if the State were itself a greedy private employer, or an unscrupulous limited company. Absence of competition and reasonable pensions are the rule in all the higher grades of the public services; relentless competition and absence of pensions are the rule in most of the lower grades. The Post Office actually makes a profit for the well-to-do taxpayers of between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000 a year out of the overwork and underpay of its wage-earning servants. Some little improvements have been made in regard to rates of payment and hours of work, owing to Socialist agitation inside and outside. But still, the idea of the chief officers of the Post Office, from the Duke of Norfolk or Mr. Arnold Morley downwards, is that the public service ought to take advantage of the poverty of its wage-earners, and that the main object of this great public department should be to do the lower work as cheaply as possible. Against this we Socialists strongly protest. The public services of every kind ought to be regarded, not as a portion of the great capitalist sweating machine, but as national agencies for the organisation of each department for the common good. There is absolutely no reason why the Post Office, dockyards, arsenals, &c., should not form the nucleus of a great co-operative organisation, in which the two main considerations should be the general well-being of the employed and their supply with food, clothing, and houseroom at cost; and the efficiency of the services themselves. Neither can be assured in any way by the methods now in vogue, which engender permanent disaffection and encourage bad service by the payment of starvation wages and overwork. It is absolutely necessary that the State should set an example to other employers, and lead the way in its services to the replacement of wage-slavery by co-operative effort, if the coming reconstruction is to be carried out peacefully and beneficially for all. In this case there is no economic difficulty whatever to be encountered, and that State work can be performed quite as efficiently as the work outside is conclusively proved, even under existing unsatisfactory conditions, by the admirable vessels rapidly turned out from the Government dockyards.

It is necessary to insist upon the gross injustice of our arrangements in regard to the employees in the public service, because this is used as an argument against any extension of the public ownership and control over monopolies, even by many of the workers themselves. When, however, the public services are placed upon an equitable footing, the extension of the system will gradually gain the support of the whole working class, and constitute an important advance towards reconstruction on a co-operative basis.

The next step in this direction is the nationalisation of the railways. That measure has been advocated by Socialists actively for nearly twenty years; but it may be said that from the date of the construction of the first railway in England in 1830 far-seeing men protested against the handing over these important communications to private companies. Recent works by the late Mr. Charles Hole, Mr. Clement Edwards, and others, have proved in detail that nothing short of complete ownership by the nation can relieve the country from the drawbacks of private ownership of its public highways. Some of these drawbacks have been referred to above. When things have come to such a pass that, owing to the heavy charges made by the companies, Canada, New Zealand, and the West of America are within the thirty-mile radius of London as reckoned by freight; that ores and manufactured articles can be sent to and from German and Belgian ironworks to port at one-third the cost in proportion to distance that similar freight is transported in Great Britain; that goods sent from foreign countries are hauled on English railroads at about half the rates charged for native stuff; that, as I pointed out to the Royal Labour Commission, I can get a cask of lager beer delivered in London from St. Louis (1,200 miles by rail and 3,000 miles by water), for less money than 1 can obtain the carriage of a sack of potatoes from Devizes — all this being so, it is clear that, even from the capitalist point of view, all is not for the best in the best of railway managements possible. The truth of this is now seen by many who are opposed to collective action in other directions, and the Railway Nationalisation Society is supported by able and influential men on both sides in politics.

On what basis the railways should be reacquired by the people from their temporary owners is, of course, a matter for discussion; but whatever arrangements may be necessary do not affect the principle of such reacquisition. Nowadays the railways are run solely for the profit of the shareholders, regardless of the interests of the people at large, and the men employed on them are underpaid and overworked, and treated with an almost utter disregard of the safety of life and limb, by the boards of directors. Now the change of the railway companies' system of Great Britain into a public department on the same lines as those advocated above for the Post Office would entirely transform our ideas as to freight and passenger traffic. The railways would become, like the high-roads, an essential portion of the veins and arteries of the whole country. Their machine-shops and steamers, their carriage factories and coal properties would come under public ownership and control as a portion of one gigantic co-operative concern. Through their agency, when handled from the point of view of public advantage, not only would the employees be much better off in all respects than they are to-day, but the transfer of schools and people's dwellings into the country, the reorganisation of agriculture on a co-operative basis, and, in the long run, the final removal of the antagonism between town and country, would become possible. The working out of this problem, like that of the arrest of the physical deterioration of our city population, which it will greatly aid, is a matter of immediate pressing necessity. From the Socialist point of view, the socialisation of the railways ought to be the next great advance in the reconstruction of our anarchic society.

Coal mines can scarcely be regarded as less of class monopoly than railways. "A necessary of industry ought not to be placed at the mercy of private owners," said to me one of the largest manufacturers in the North of England, assuredly no Socialist, at the time of the last great pitmen's strike. Just so. But the only possible way of avoiding the mischiefs incident to private ownership is by public control. That here, again, there is no economic difficulty of any serious magnitude to be found is manifest from the fact that nearly all the great coal properties to-day are owned by vast public companies or large individual owners; and that the acquisition of these properties by the nation, and their management as a public estate for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of men employed and the public at large, would be no more than an extension and transformation of the existing injurious monopoly into an integral part of the national property. The hundreds of thousands of coal-miners will not have that jealousy of democratic national ownership which afflicts the mind of the individual middle-class profitmonger, when they learn, as they are learning, that such a national co-operative system as it will lead to cannot fail to secure better conditions of existence for themselves and their children.

The same arguments apply to the cotton and iron, the wool, silk, and other industries. As already pointed out, in each and all of these departments of production the tendency is towards larger and larger combinations of irresponsible shareholders, in the form of limited companies with managers, in place of the old system of individual firms. From the point of view of the employed, the absorption of these industries by the collective agency of the whole people can scarcely fail to be an improvement; while it will surely be as much to their interest to select capable organisers and superintendents in the future as it is to the interest of the absentee shareholders at the present time to do so. The economic difficulties in the way of the suggested transformation are becoming daily less; and with improved education and a more thorough comprehension of the national advantages to be derived from the substitution of co-operation for competition in every direction — an end now at last attainable and being prepared for outside of our direct volition — the entire people, will rise to the level of their opportunities, and refuse to drift any longer when collective judgment and capacity may make us masters of our destinies as individuals. In the distributing agencies of shops, warehouses, advertising, &c., the enormous amount of wasted and useless labour, as matters stand, strikes every intelligent observer. Here, also, when production and distribution are equally regarded from the standpoint of the interest of the whole community, and the abrogation of bootless toil is looked upon as an absolute duty, advantage will be taken of the obvious course of development, in the shape of huge so-called co-operative establishments and stores crushing out the small distributors and middlemen, to organise municipal and national distributing centres throughout the country. For such agencies a demand, indeed, is already arising. Adulteration and articles of inferior quality also will disappear from the market when, all being interested in the production of the best sort of goods, there will be no profit to be made by trickery and swindling. The gradual but rapid replacement of competitive anarchy by municipal and national organisation will of itself prepare, and is indeed already preparing, men's minds for the change of system.

The question of agricultural land presents a far more difficult problem in Great Britain than is presented by any of the matters discussed hitherto, and is indeed far more difficult of solution here than in perhaps any other country. Our population is no longer settled upon the land, and there are now but a few hundred thousand agricultural labourers in the island. Seeing that three or, at the outside, four continuous generations of city life greatly enfeeble or almost entirely destroy the vigour of a working-class family, this depopulation of the country districts and crowding into the city areas is a very serious matter indeed to the nation. Our recruiting ground for the wear and tear of our working city life has been practically cut away, and there is no longer a country-bred race to fill up the gaps created by the increased pressure of modern commercialism. Land going out of cultivation on every side, while our dependence on foreign sources of food supply, from land of by no means superior quality in many cases, increases every year: this is a state of things which demands immediate and careful consideration with a view to prompt action. The Royal Commission on the subject has proved as useless as all other Royal Commissions. Its members never even tried to go to the bottom of the question. That Protection will not put things right can easily be seen by anyone who chooses to examine into the condition of agriculture in countries where Protection prevails. That small holdings will not help us is proved conclusively by the decay of the small proprietors elsewhere in nearly all departments of agriculture. That even nationalisation of railways and cheap freights will not of themselves suffice to turn the tide can also be detected by experience in districts which have both. Yet a nation which is divorced from agriculture is in a very dangerous position; while, in time of war, what our condition might be when deprived even temporarily of our supplies from without is something frightful to contemplate. The subject is too large a one to discuss adequately now. Suffice it to say that the organisation of co-operative production upon the land must go hand in hand with the like development in other directions, though it is much more difficult than similar organisation in factory industry and distribution, owing to the fact that agriculture has not yet attained the company form. Agriculture being made a portion of education in all schools must no longer be completely severed from other occupations. The improvements in modes of communication render this segregation unnecessary as it is in many respects harmful. Labour on the land, lightened as it already is by the application of machinery, may be alternated with labour in other departments. The organisation of the unemployed might well be conducted on such a plan as was proposed many years ago by the Social-Democratic Federation, and every advance in the direction of co-operative supply of public departments from native farms and market gardens would help to bring about that partial emigration from the cities to the land which is so desirable in the interests of the physical development of our population.

Every measure, therefore, which is advocated or adopted in modification of our existing system should be in the direction of the national absorption of monopolies and the organisation of co-operative production and distribution throughout the country. Anything short of this simply means reaction in disguise. As matters stand the very powers to create wealth which mankind possess as a whole are heading back the emancipation of the real producers; the growth of monopoly under the pretence of free competition, and the cramping influences of our miserable city life for the poor, do but engender an apathetic wage-slave class. If all were content with a standard of life not inferior to that enjoyed by the well-to-do middle class to-day, and none shirked their fair share of social responsibility, not four hours of healthy work for the service of the community would be necessary, and this standard might be raised and the limit of necessary labour reduced with each successive improvement in scientific processes. There is no evidence whatever that even a minority of well-fed and well-educated Englishmen are skulkers, any more than there is evidence to that effect in the case of other nationalities. We have arrived at the period in our history when a new departure is inevitable. We English Social-Democrats are anxious that this fresh start should be made by an intelligent and well-organised democracy.


The same principles which apply to our home industries and domestic life will necessarily be brought to bear on our external interests, and the administration of our Empire. Our great oversea carrying business, for example, can scarcely fail to come under more direct national control and ownership as time goes on, and the action of even subsidised lines of steamers in joining "rings," spoken of above, together with their indifference to national welfare in regard to their treatment of sailors, cannot fail to hasten on the period when these services will be regarded as fulfilling a public function which can no longer be left in private hands.

If also we demand justice and emancipation from class domination at home, so we necessarily look to put an end to militarism and race oppression in the interest of the moneygetting class abroad. Those who control an Empire which comprises one-seventh of the habitable area of the globe, and one-fifth of its total population — exclusive of China, one-third — ought to be able to rise to a higher conception of what such a responsibility involves than the shoddy Imperialism which now passes muster as patriotism. Our self-governed Colonies can in time shake themselves clear of the capitalist chain which now binds them, while entering into closer relations with us at home, on the basis of the mutual welfare of both the connected peoples. Such ties as these, between free and equal men of the same race in different parts of the world, Social-Democracy cannot fail to bind closer. But the ruin wrought in India by draining away its wealth to Great Britain without return should teach even the most careless that real greatness and prosperity cannot exist where the interests of successive relays of foreign administrators are preferred to the well-being, and even the lives, of millions of human beings under our control. What India might have been we can form some idea of when we look at the prosperity of the native states under our light supervision. What India will be when natural causes and the awakening of the English democracy force a cessation of the existing system of bleeding to death upon our Government, it is possible to imagine when we see the rapidity with which Japan has developed into a great power, and is beginning to face and to attempt to solve the same serious economic and class issues which trouble us.

In Africa, as well as in Asia, the supposed necessities for extended markets, real enough indeed under existing circumstances, are bringing tropical regions, which we cannot colonise, under capitalist authority, and dooming some of the finest uncivilised races in the world to a mean form of slavery to the white man — as at Kimberley and Johannesburg in Natal and Rhodesia — far worse and more degrading in the long rim than the tribal slavery from which we claim to have relieved them. In all these matters we English Social-Democrats claim that same full freedom for others which we demand for ourselves. Let us aid these populations to work out their own material salvation, not by chaining them to the car of the hypocritical slave-driver and pious profitmonger, not by poisoning them with gin and disease, but by leading them, through the mild and steady influence of capable and sympathetic men and women who understand their history and customs, to the highest material level that is attainable along the lines of their own natural development. Our only rightful claim to pre-eminence is that we may help those at a lower stage of culture to attain more rapidly than would otherwise be possible to a superior human existence, without the drawbacks which have unfortunately attended our own advance.

All attempts to organise Socialism in any one nation spread naturally into a combination with other nations that are working in the same direction. Socialism, as I said to start with, becomes more and more international every day. This does not mean that Social-Democrats cease to be patriotic, but that they refuse to regard their own patriotism as necessarily antagonistic to the patriotism of others. At the present time millions of workers in France, Germany, and Belgium have ceased to regard the workers of Great Britain, with whom they daily compete in the field of industrial warfare, as in any sense their enemies. They recognise that the great problems which lie ahead of them as of us, can only be solved by joint effort and international organisation. Nationalist competition, which is the weapon of the capitalist, they would gladly abandon to-morrow in favour of international co-operation, which is the safety of the worker. Already the time is ripe for common action in many directions, already the democracies of Europe are beginning to refuse to obey the commands of their self-seeking rulers as they have done hitherto, and to afford such help as they can to one another in time of trouble. The end of the nineteenth century witnesses on both sides of the Atlantic the steady organisation of the proletariat for the conquest of the control of industry, nationally and internationally, and it is scarcely possible that the first half of the coming century will pass away without seeing the victory in great part won.

Much depends upon England as to how far that beneficent advance shall be hastened or retarded. For the moment we are not holding the place which of right we should hold in the progress of the peoples towards the goal which lies immediately ahead. But the period of apathy cannot much longer endure. To the ideal of Imperial domination, military rule, and capitalist supremacy, which reactionists find so alluring, we Socialists continually oppose our far higher ideal of a co-operative commonwealth that shall bind together first our own colonies, and then all civilised peoples, by the ties of mutual advantage, common freedom, and the hope of a general and rapid advance to a glorious future for mankind.

The personal selfishness and class greed which now blind the eyes of the majority to the infinitely greater enjoyment of life that everyone might secure under ever-improving economic conditions by common action with their fellows, will grow into the enlightened selfishness which recognises that only when the whole community is completely educated, and all are emancipated by collective effort from needless and irksome toil, can the faculties of each individual attain their highest development, and thus in turn benefit the society to which they are indebted for their training. Then will the series of easy and untrammelled delights of human existence in this beautiful world be generally appreciated in the course of a full and active life. Socialism, so far from repressing individual capacity and individual initiative, will for the first time afford them the freest possible outlet. There is nothing in the performance of light social duties, agreed to and accepted by all, which could stunt the intelligence or enfeeble the physique of any.

To-day millions of men and women in every civilised country are shut out from doing the work for society which they are most competent to do, and live a life of perpetual penal servitude, by reason of the squalid necessity, imposed by conditions inherited from the past, of performing exhaustive labour day after day, in order that they may merely continue to exist. They remain overmastered by the very power of the engines which they tend; to produce wealth and the pleasures of living for the mere enjoyment of life remain unknown to them, because the conception of what they themselves might achieve as a portion of an ordered society has not yet burst in upon their minds. But the economic forms are all ready, the ideas are spreading from man to man, the combinations entered upon for repression are preparing the way to enfranchisement. Even under the pressure of class domination, and amid the hurly-burly of class struggles, the greatest and best work that has ever been done in the world has been done for the family, the clan, the tribe, the city, the nation. Those deeds which have elevated and enlightened mankind in every department of human knowledge and effort have never been done for greed of gain. They have been achieved by individuals who have deliberately devoted their highest powers, and have given up the most precious years of their life, to secure better and more beautiful conditions of existence for those among whom that life was spent. The social forces of the near future will give a yet more powerful stimulus to this higher side of our common human nature on a still more exalted level; and I for one can imagine no nobler mission for England than that she should bear her full share in the conscious endeavour to transform the chaotic conditions of to-day into the ordered and happy harmony of to-morrow.

H. M. Hyndman.


* It is important to state that "truant schools" in connection with the Board schools, where boys who won't go to school are kept and clothed and fed in the country, are very popular with the truants. The boys will play truant again and again in order to be sent back to them. I venture to suggest that schools which smart, active, "naughty" boys, such as truants generally are, wish to go to must be schools which are pretty well managed in the interest of the children, even if the discipline be rather strict, and that we might do much worse than apply the same treatment to the unlucky good boys who don't play truant. Unfortunately, the whole question of education and physical training is regarded in Great Britain from the sordid point of view of the ratepayers, many of whom grudge every penny spent in this way. The matter is one of the very highest national moment in every sense, and the necessary charges for the public schools should be thrown upon the national exchequer. Until this is done no great improvement, I fear, will be brought about.