XVIII. EARLY SOCIALISTS
UP to now we have used the term Socialism as though it were identical with the teachings of Marx and Engels, founders of scientific socialism. Marx and Engels, however, called themselves communists; it is therefore important that at the very outset we state precisely what socialism means and what is its distinction from communism. A proper understanding of these two terms is imperative in the light of the confusion in usage that prevails today. For example, Russia now designates itself a Socialist Soviet Republic, although it is controlled by a Communist Party under Stalin which affirms that it can build socialism in one country alone. On the other hand, members of the Socialist Party declare that the regime in Russia is not socialist at all, but is restoring capitalism. Between the socialists and the communists there has been a very bitter and sanguinary struggle. Again, still other people designate as Socialism a situation wherein the government takes over railroads and nationalizes a certain amount of property.
In the days of Marx and Engels, the term Socialist had been used by Robert Owen and others and had come to mean ideas and plans for a new society put forth by declassed elements of the upper classes. These socialists were utopians who, regardless of their specific plans, had certain basic characteristics in common. According to them, socialism consisted of a grand plan conceived in the brain of the utopian genius. The plan was to be realized by means of peaceful, rational discussion. All the utopians were firm believers in the power of reason to change the world, and all they wanted was the opportunity to persuade others of the justice and reasonableness of their position. All their plans were static, completed blueprints, eternal and immutable.(*1) None of them understood the meaning of history or of evolution.
None of these dreamers relied upon the working class. They had no conception of the class struggle, but rather appealed to the wealthy to help them to ameliorate the lot of the poor, either, as Robert Owen, for philanthropic reasons, or, as Saint-Simon and Fourier, as a reaction from the terror of the French Revolution. None of these men conceived of the new social order as being a product of violence. They hated the insurrections of the mob and rabble led by communists. The movement was to be led entirely from the top and not from the bottom.
All of these people were extremely critical of the capitalist order, being opposed to competition, and wanting to terminate the privileges of the industrialists. Against all forms of anarchy and chaos, the utopians sought refuge from the existing interminable clash to secure eternal harmony within society, harmony of the social order with nature. To usher in the new utopia, they worked out schemes of mutual co-operation and mutual aid of a more or less authoritarian nature. These aspects of the utopians gave them the name Socialists. (*2)
The plans of social inventors like Owens, Saint-Simon, Fourier, and others, could easily have become the ideology of reactionary collectivists, and, indeed, they do form the prototypes of the plans of twentieth century fascism. However, in those days, capitalism had no need of such schemes. The industrialists were thinking, not of crushing the labor movement, but of using the poor for their own political advantage and bringing peace and order to society not by authoritarian utopias but by the anarchy of capitalism. Thus the critical doctrines of the utopians could be taken up only by the victims of capitalism who gave to them certain interpretations which made them the precursors of scientific socialism.
It was imperative that Marx and Engels, who proceeded in an entirely different manner, should separate themselves from this utopian planfulness. If the utopians called themselves Socialists, Marx and Engels called themselves Communists and put out their Communist Manifesto, forming their Communist League, etc. Marx and Engels created a movement and relied upon the working class to carry forward the traditions of the peasant war, of the Paris Commune in the French Revolution, and of Baboeuf and the other communists. Insurrection, class struggle, the proletariat, these were the factors of Marxist political theory, rather than any pale philanthropic and timid scheme of “harmony.”
Before Marxism arises, the disciples of Robert Owen, Fourier, Saint- Simon, and such elements, color the movements of the working class. The adherents of Saint-Simon, for example, were against exploitation, against private property, and against capitalism, as then extant. They favored a tax on land and producers’ co-operatives. The Saint-Simonians always thought of society with a capital “S” and regarded all the members of the nation as included in one collective organization. Thus it is that the terms “Socialism” and “Social Democracy” came to be taken over by the workers who fought many battles under this name.
The Marxist could not ignore this situation and when, in Germany and elsewhere, working class organizations arose that called themselves Socialist or Social Democratic, it was not for Marx and Engels to stand aloof from these movements because of a name.
Of course, the fact that the name Socialism was chosen to designate the vague gropings of the proletariat in itself showed how immature and confused the working class was. Nevertheless, as Marx himself had declared, the workers had to learn from their own experiences; they would not accept learned dissertations imposed upon them by some intellectual. It was necessary for Marx to penetrate that movement, to work within it, and to nurture there the seeds of Marxism that would eventually win over the labor elements to scientific socialism.
Thus it was that by the ‘60’s of the last century, Marx was willing to accept the term Socialism, since it no longer represented the old blueprint plans of the utopian, and Friedrich Engels could write his book, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific.
After the death of Marx and with the rise of the Second International, the term Socialism took complete possession of the field and became synonymous with communism. This was all the easier since socialism had always been understood as a future transition stage of society leading to communism, as the first or lower stage of communism. However, it soon became plain that the abandonment of the term “Communism” had in reality covered the abandonment of the revolutionary class struggle. After the debacle of the World War, the revolutionary socialists split away from the others, under Lenin, and retook the name Communist.
Thus we see that, even when used exactly, the term Socialism can have three distinct meanings. First, it can mean a future system of society characterized, as described by Marx, by the fact that capitalism, with its markets, commodities, values, prices, exchange, surplus value, capital, money, competition, etc., is no more; instead, there is a conscious, planful society where production is for use on such an enormously improved technical plane that there will be plenty for all. This society will be a stage between capitalism and communism and will retain some remnants of the former in the mental make-up of the individual. The State, however, will have withered away, together with religion, recognized as the opium of the people. Socialism will gradually give way to communism.
Another meaning of the term Socialism has to do with the Dictatorship of the Proletariat that initiates socialism. The Soviet Union, for example, is legitimately called the “Socialist” Republic, not because the stage of society known as socialism exists in Russia, but rather because the Dictatorship of the Proletariat existing in Russia has abolished to a very considerable extent private ownership of the means of production and has laid the basis for the extinction of capitalism, leading to socialism. This was the usage of Lenin. Under Stalin, the theory has been stretched to mean that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat itself is socialism, that socialism is compatible with an army, with a State, with class struggles, with markets, wages, etc. We shall take this up later. It is well, however, to note that under Lenin, socialism could mean not only a future state of society as laid down by Marx, but also could be a designation of a transition regime—Dictatorship of the Proletariat-leading to socialism.
The third meaning of the term Socialism is to signify the program of the Socialist parties as distinct from that of the Communist. In short, here socialism is opposed to communism. In the present chapter we shall use socialism in this last sense of the term, namely, to mean the program and practice of the Socialist parties as separate from and in conflict with those of the Communist.
It is true that the Socialist parties agree with the Communist that socialism, as a stage of society, is the end of their striving. It is also true that very often the Socialist parties fervidly maintain their adherence to the doctrines of Marx, claiming only to interpret them in another direction. In fact, the literary heirs of Marx and Engels, like Karl Kautsky, Eduard Bernstein, and others, became leaders, not of a “Communist” movement but of the “Socialists.” Today, however, what we must stress is not the agreement in ultimate goal that the socialists have in common with the communists, but rather the struggles between them that have led to the breaking up of the labor movement and to tremendous convulsions all over the world.
If at present we see some signs of the mitigation of these splits and a tendency for socialists and communists to come together, it is only because the blows of fascism have compelled them to unite on the one hand, while, on the other, the large Communist parties connected with Russia have so degenerated towards the socialist position as practically to be indistinguishable from their erstwhile enemies. We must not, however, confuse “united front” with “unity” and the fact that the socialists and communists are willing to unite on a common field of action does not necessarily mean that they will not fight each other to the death under other circumstances.
The earliest of the utopians of the nineteenth century from the point of view of influence was Saint-Simon, a French nobleman who, at an early age, had volunteered to fight in the American Revolution, but had later become frightened by the effects of the French Revolution. To Saint-Simon,"Progress is achieved in one of two ways, by revolution or dictatorship, and dictatorship was preferable to revolution.” (*3) Revolution was an anachronism that would become unnecessary were society changed. Denouncing the sovereignty of the people, Saint-Simon went so far as to propose an alliance between the Bourbons and the industrial classes in order to achieve his plan for preventing revolution; he asked the King to declare himself the chief of the kingdom and to adopt his plan by royal ordinance. Thus the plans of Saint-Simon were anti-revolutionary and anti-democratic from the very beginning.
What Saint-Simon desired was an industrial State directed by modern science. (*4) “Saint-Simon’s creed can best be described as ‘industrialism’ plus a slight admixture of Socialism… .” (*5) He advocated the abolition of the landed idle class and the limitation of society to two classes only, the learned and the industrial. (*6) Standing armies and war should be abolished. (*7) The good of society was attained by the satisfaction of its physical and moral wants. The object of government was to apply knowledge and wealth to that end. To Saint-Simon, liberty was not an end or even a means to an end. It was a result, the result of man’s progressive mastery of nature; man freed himself through society. Tremendously impressed by the power of industry, Saint-Simon believed it was necessary to harness industry and its technical progress to the social order to obtain a better social system. Thus, in his plans there were to be no parasites; his was to be a regime where industry dominated.
Saint-Simon invented an industrial parliament of three chambers, the first, a chamber of invention; the second, of examination; the third, of execution. The First Chamber was to have three hundred engineers, poets, scholars, musicians, and such, of whom two hundred were to be engineers. This body would initiate all legislation. The Second Chamber was also to contain three hundred, of which one hundred were to be mathematical physicists, one hundred metaphysicians, and one hundred physicians. This Chamber was to examine the laws. The Third Chamber was to be composed of the “captains of industry,” a term which Saint-Simon was the first to coin. This body alone was to execute the laws. Thus, the industrialist was to have the power of administration entirely in his hands.
Labor was the highest duty of a citizen and only the worker could govern society. Saint-Simon, however, included the industrialist as part of labor and drew no distinction between him and his employed worker. Indeed, at this time in France, to draw such a distinction would have seemed strange, since the entrepreneurs took an active part in organizing the labor process. To accomplish the rule of labor, Saint-Simon planned a widespread general education, the abolition of poverty, and the preeminence of learning and industry. In his last work, Saint-Simon raised his utopia to the level of a religion, exhorting all to love one another; to raise the moral and physical condition of man by industry and education; to let the captains of the three leading departments of knowledge, of art, and of industry conduct and constitute the government; to give to every man according to his needs and exact from every man according to his capacity; to supply work with the head or hand for everyone.”
The opinions of Saint-Simon, so violently a reaction against the anarchical Liberalism of the French Revolution, easily are revealed as merely a rationalization of the system of French affairs which Napoleon attempted to develop. We have here, as under Napoleon, great praise for industry, a theory of government of talents, an idealization of work without talk, a theory of the necessity of religion and of the ubiquity of the government, a denunciation of the old regime and a criticism of laissez faire Liberalism, with control in the hands of the dictator, the agent of industry. Some of these plans of Saint-Simon are even today being taken over by fascist groups in Europe.
If Saint-Simon became a respectable figure in the eyes of the workers, it was not so much because of his theories, but rather owing to the work of his disciples, the Saint-Simonians, who, made up of petty-bourgeois elements, heavily stressed their critique of anarchical industrial society and thus played into the hands of working-class and middle-class elements who were moving in a progressive and radical direction. As we have seen, Saint- Simon had great influence over Auguste Comte, founder of sociology, and the Saint-Simonians were able to influence some of the intellectuals on the continent and in England, especially John Stuart Mill and Carlyle.
Later to achieve recognition was the work of Charles Fourier. One may say that Fourier and Saint-Simon together constitute one whole, each being regarded as the complement of the other. “Saint-Simonism represented the principle of authority, of centralization; while Fourier made all possible provision for local and individual freedom. With Saint- Simonism the State is the starting point, the normal and dominant power; in Fourier the like position is held by a local body corresponding to the commune, which he called the phalange. (*8)
Fourier’s starting point in his criticism of the present order of things was not the injustice of the distribution of social wealth, or the suffering of the poor, but rather the anarchic wastefulness of modern production and the repellent condition of labor. Fourier does not address himself to the sentiments of man, but to their material interests. “His battle-cry is not ‘justice,’ but ‘order,’ and the general prosperity and happiness of mankind is but an incident of the universal harmony of his system, not its primal aim.” (*9) As Brisbane, one of his disciples, put it: The universe was governed by fixed and mathematical laws the discovery of which would usher in the law of harmony on earth with the result that man would rule nature, rule himself and become attuned to the cosmos. (*10) The genius of Fourier penetrated into these secrets and gave them to the world, not as a fantasy of wish-fulfillment, but as a mere statement of the scientific law of universal harmony.
Under Fourier’s true order of society there would be established universal wealth and prosperity, universal knowledge and intelligence, attractive industry, permanent peace and social concord, unity of all interests, universal co-operation and association, practical liberty in all relations, social equality of the race, universal health and vigor, passional harmony and social unity. (*11) Fourier stressed above all two important principles: first, industrial activity could be made really attractive; secondly, the solidarity of the human race. Fourier, like most Frenchmen, wanted social science to be a social science.
Fourier obtained his principles of harmony from a grand study supposedly embodying the entire universe. His theory included four movements, social, animal, organic, and material, and in all of these different worlds one law prevailed, the law of attraction, which is the idea of God. (*12) “God, in requiring of any of his creatures the performance of a work or function, employs no other lever or agent than Attraction; he never resorts to coercion, constraint or violence in any form; he governs the Universe by this power alone; he impels all beings to fulfil their Destiny from the pleasure, the charm, the delight, he connects with it, and not from fear of pain or punishment.” (*13)
Far more than Saint-Simon, Fourier attempted to work out the laws of evolution, and insisted that even under the Harmonic Order there would still be differences of opinion, contrasts of character and personal antipathies, the abolition of which would destroy the very spice of life. These individual clashes, far from leading to discord, would stimulate a competition for the mutual good. However, here again, thanks to the utopian colonies of his disciples and to his own penchant for meticulously closed systems, what remains of Fourierism is not a theory of evolution but some schematic blue-print in which Fourier predicts that in due time wild animals will associate with man as soon as man overcomes his vices, that the light from the Aurora Borealis will be transformed into dew that will make the North Pole have the climate of sunny Italy and the oceans taste like lemonade. (*14)
According to Fourier, the trouble with industry was that it was neither attractive nor effective. It was his task to lay down a theory of how to make industry attractive and to secure a regime of harmony. To accomplish this, industry must be organized on the basis of a study of human passions. All must be productive laborers, organized in Commune co-operatives where the individual can develop freely. The Communes are to have local autonomy. The State is to be reduced to nothing.
By no means was Fourier a communist. He was vehemently opposed to the schemes of Robert Owen. In his organized Commune known as the Phalanx, no community of property existed; private capital was retained, as well as the right of inheritance. All those within the Phalanx were to labor and, of the proceeds of their labor, five-twelfths were to go to the laborer, four-twelfths to capital, and three-twelfths to the talented ones (management), of whom, no doubt, Fourier was to be the leader. (*15) Thus, capital was to be made a permanent institution, but in such a guise as to make Fourier’s new industrialism a weapon against red revolution. While the Saint-Simonians believed in nationalization of property, the Fourierists were associationists, more individualistic in character, and insisting that the individual should not be merged in the mass but must be safeguarded by means of small autonomous groups. Federation would be entirely voluntary; all unity would be prompted from within rather than imposed from without.
From one angle, Fourier was thus connected with Proudhon. From another angle, Fourier became a starting point for the theories of those who later were to espouse guild socialism. While Saint Simon thought in terms of national economy, Fourier thought in terms of a garden city where, with his Phalanstery carefully ordered and regulated, (*16) the distinction between industry and agriculture was to be wiped out and within the city there was to be an intimate correlation of both. Fourier, therefore, is a reaction against the heaped up monuments of stone that make up a modern city; as he feared revolution, so did he fear Paris, and desired to transform its narrow streets into large boulevards surrounded by fields where the healthy organism could flourish.
The features of Fourier’s utopia appealed mightily to reformers in America, and while the system of Saint-Simon found no echo in the United States, that of Fourier was seized upon in an emphatic and practical manner. After all, the Americans were nothing if not practical. America had always been the land of utopia; here was an opportunity to carry out what was an eminently respectable doctrine, not at all revolutionary, but rather a backfire for revolution, although the Americans had no such fear of revolution as Fourier. Fourierism appealed to them because it was an attempt to organize on a small scale an ideal system of society, retaining capitalism, retaining individualism, reducing the State to nil, escaping the conflicts of society which the intellectuals of America could see so clearly were at hand.
From early times, colonists had come to America to build utopia. In the eighteenth century these utopias were entirely of an agrarian and religious nature, made up of foreign-born elements. “It is safe to say that considerably over one hundred, possibly two hundred, communistic villages have been founded in the United States, although comparatively few yet live. There are perhaps from seventy to eighty communities at present in the United States, with a membership of from six to seven thousand, and property the value of which may be roughly estimated at twenty-five or thirty million dollars." (*17) It has been estimated that the number of persons who at one time or another participated in utopian experiments in the United States in the nineteenth century has run into the hundreds of thousands. (*18)
In the early nineteenth century, those addicted to utopian plans of such a nature were mostly Germans and later, French. In the 1820’S, utopianism took the form of adherence to the views of Robert Owen, who came to this country to establish his utopian colonies and had great influence here, being invited several times to speak privately before the members of the Congress of the United States, the President, and other important officials. Upon the failure of Owenism, the utopian reformers, 1840-1850, eagerly went towards Fourierism, yielding, from 1848 on, to the utopian plans of Cabet.
The Fourierists were able to win a number of talented admirers. (*19) In 1814, Brisbane published the work of Fourier under the title of Social Destiny of Man, and two years later, in New York, Brisbane inaugurated a regular column for the propagation of Fourier’s ideas. The magazine, The Phalanx or journal of Social Science, was issued; it was rechristened The Harbinger in 1845, when it was transferred to the Brook Farm Colony. It passed from existence in 1849 along with Brook Farm. (*20) Thus, the Fourierist schemes were closely tied up with the transcendentalism of the Concord School of Liberal thinkers, who, in theory and in practice, attempted to run away from reality.
The third utopian of importance in the early nineteenth century was Robert Owen, whose chief theoretical contribution was the plan for the formation of producers’ co-operatives taking in all the industries of a locality organized in a thoroughly centralized communist manner. The vital principle of the new industrialism must be co-operation; competition was to be no more.
“In this above all else Owen’s significance lies. It is the idea that unifies all his varied activities. Whether he is pleading for a Factory Act to protect the helpless servants of the new machines, or for a universal system of liberating education, or for trade unions, or for his own scheme of co-operative communities, the dominant idea in his mind is the need for the social control of the new productive power. (*21)
Unlike Fourier and Saint-Simon, Robert Owen did not represent a reaction from the violence of the French Revolution as such. His opinion was that politics wasn’t of any great importance, since it was but a result of economic relations. The thing to do was to change the economic relations and the social environment. A typical Englishman, Owen believed that man owed his character entirely to social environment and that, if this could be changed, man could be entirely transformed. (*22)
The fundamental principles that Owen espoused could be reduced to five: (1) that man was a product of environment; (2) that feelings and convictions were independent of our will; (3) that feelings produced the motive to action (will); (4) that no two humans were ever similar exactly; (5) that every normal individual can be raised or lowered by social influence. (*23) In line with these principles, Owen took an aggressively anti-religionist position.
Robert Owen spent his life attempting to carry out his ideas. A wealthy manufacturer, he was able to form a model village, to pose as a moral reformer, philosopher and uplifter of society. He paid great attention to infant schools and to the education of the workmen at a time when such education was woefully lacking. His idea was, “Happiness cannot be isolated among a few human beings.” (*24) He reduced the hours of labor and introduced his own factory legislation to improve working conditions.
All the while, Owen was proving that these reforms only brought more profit to him, that philanthropy paid handsomely. And, indeed, “Although the wages given to the workmen were lower than were paid elsewhere, it caused no discontent among the people, and New Lanark escaped the disturbances and protracted strikes so general among cotton-spinners in England and Glasgow.” (*25) This success led Owen to appeal to the rich to emulate him.
Robert Owen, however, knew exactly from whence his large wealth came. He stated emphatically: “It is a common mistake arising from the confusion of ideas inseparable from the present erroneous system of society, to believe that the rich provide for the poor and working classes; while in fact the poor and working classes create all the wealth which the rich possess …. The rich … actually prevent them from creating a supply of wealth that would be sufficient to preclude all from becoming poor …." (*26)
Owen was no disciple of Malthus. The poor need not always be with us; labor could always produce a surplus. Owen never tired of showing the contrast between rich and poor and of arguing for a system where all would get the produce of their labor and form communities to this end. The workers produced forty times as much as before and yet they were in terrible circumstances. (*27) In his report on the causes of poverty, made in 1817, Owen pointed to the effects of the introduction of machinery in this regard and urged that employment be found for those thrown out of work by the introduction of a system whereby each city would provide a farm and factory for employment of the poor. In his report he actually went to the extent of working out the minute details of his projected scheme of Parallelograms. In a later work he expanded his ideas. Society was to be divided into four classes: (1) paupers, to be taken care of as above; (2) workmen; (3) small proprietors; (4) idlers with big capital. The last group was to hire workmen under conditions whereby the workers would control. Each workman was to work in comfort for seven years, then to be given one hundred pounds and placed in class three—or he could work five years more and be given two hundred pounds.
With Owen the problem was not production but proper distribution of wealth. Sturdy advocate of co-operation, completely refusing to recognize the worth of the State, and contemptuous of politics, Robert Owen terminated his activities in England only to re-engage in them on a grander scale in America, where his utopia could be put into full effect. He invested much money in his venture at New Harmony, Indiana, but by 1830 his village of co-operation, with its labor notes, was forced to close down. (*28)
However, the idea of co-operation did not disappear, and, after the Reform Bill of 1832, which failed to enfranchise them, groups of workers in England became active in organizing co-operative societies. The trade unions themselves conceived of their function as instruments of collective bargaining to be merely secondary to their ideas for a co-operative system. In 1834, indeed, Robert Owen headed a grand trade union movement, only to see it collapse that very year. Robert Owen could not endure long as a trade union leader. “He had been too much used, as an employer, to playing the benevolent autocrat…. The cause was, in his eyes, essentially a crusade for the moral regeneration of society as a whole, and not a war of class against class. The struggle to achieve a wage advance here, or to resist a wage reduction there, did not interest him; for to his mind trade-unionism and co-operation were of account only as means to the establishment of the ‘New Moral World.” (*29)
Besides Robert Owen, who was above all a practical philanthropist and a dreamer who had pictured that he could universalize under the capitalist system the social conditions which he had been able to construct in his village of New Lanark, there arose in Britain a school of socialists stemming from Ricardo. They included such people as William Thompson, John Gray, Thomas Hodgskin, and John Francis Bray. Some of these writers connected themselves with the school of Welfare-Liberalism typified by John Stuart Mill.
The fundamental principle of Ricardo’s work was that the exchangeable value of commodities, or their relative worth as compared with each other, depends exclusively on the quantities of labor necessary to produce them and bring them to market. Adam Smith had done this before but had assumed that after rent had been established and capital accumulated, values fluctuated according to variations of rent and wages. Ricardo showed this to be wrong both in regard to rent and in regard to wages. To Ricardo it was not true that if wages rose prices had to rise, as Adam Smith believed, and “There can be no rise in the value of labour without a fall of profits.” (*30) Naturally, such views could be taken up by workingmen.
William Thompson, (*31) an economist, was interested not in production, but in the distribution of wealth to insure the greatest happiness to the greatest number. Like Bentham, he began to study the laws of happiness and came to the conclusion that, as all men are susceptible to equal amounts of happiness, only full equality would lead to justice. Since all men are naturally nearly equal and all wealth is the product of labor, great wealth must come from robbery. The rich were, therefore, robbers.
To Thompson, three different systems of industrial organization were possible: (1) the present method of theft and frauds, where wealth is for the few and is taken from the many; (2) the system of “security” where each is to have the whole produce of labor; and (3) a system of “equality” which may be considered as flowing from the principle of utility. Thompson himself favored the third, trying to follow two masters, both Bentham and Robert Owen, although he agreed with Owen’s co-operatives.
Thompson took his stand against the Malthusian restriction of population. He exposed the Corn Repeal laws agitation as purely capitalistic, and took the side of labor. Capital was unproductive; only labor created value. The worker was correct in joining unions, but the weapon of the partial strike was extremely limited and could get the worker nowhere.
John Gray (*32) agreed with Thompson that the foundation of all property is labor. Gray’s method was to study the distribution of wealth in a given society, estimating the total wealth and discovering what portion each class got. To do this, Gray had to analyze class relations to find out which were productive and what proportion of the wealth each section received.
Gray thought only those who worked by manual labor and produced material wealth were productive, though some producers were useless—those producing luxury articles-while some non-producers were engaged in useful services. “The productive class, Gray concluded, received only a trifle more than one-fifth of their produce, while the remaining four-fifths were absorbed by landlords and capitalists.” (*33)
Gray denounced the occupations of one-third of the population as useless. The very name soldier was a disgrace to human nature. (*34) Rent was robbery; lawyers were useless; doctors would pass away under a new social order.
Gray’s great contribution was to show that production is restricted and confined by competition and exchange. Abolish competition and exchange and there would be no limit to production. He denied the right of an individual to own land, since all have an equal right to develop; thus he stood for land nationalization as well as for a system of small farms. This economist believed in co-operatives, but in exchange and not in production. He wanted a national bank with paper notes based on goods.
Gray sums up his argument as follows: “We have endeavored to show by whom wealth is created, and by whom it is consumed. We have endeavored to show that it is from human labor that every description of wealth proceeds; that the productive classes DO NOW support, not only themselves, but every unproductive member of society; that they only are productive members of society who apply their own hands either to the cultivation of the earth itself, or to the preparing or appropriating the produce of the earth to the uses of life; …
“We have endeavored to show that the real income of the country, which consists in the quantity of wealth annually created by the labour of the people, is taken from its producers, chiefly, by the rent of land, by the rent of houses, by the interest of money, and by the profit obtained by persons who buy their labour from them at one price, and sell it at another; that these immense taxes of rent, interest and profits on labour, must even continue while the system of individual competition stands; that in the new communities all would be productive members of society; excepting only the persons absolutely required in occupations, who would also devote their time and talents to the general good… .” (*35)
Gray’s conclusions should have led him ultimately to communism, but neither Gray nor Thompson went that far. Both wanted the laborer to receive the full product of his labor, but both insisted that the laborer could do as he pleased with this product and could start his own enterprise by himself. This could lead only to individualism again. In this way, the communistic theories of Thompson and Gray were stultified by the limitations of their times.
Starting from an entirely different premise, Thomas Hodgskin argued that labor was the source of all wealth, that all exchangeable value is produced by labor. (*36) Landlords and capitalists produce nothing. Capital is not stored-up labor as others believe; even wages are the produce of labor which is entitled to everything it produces. Instead of arriving at communism, however, Hodgskin embraced the theory of laissez faire which to him represented a theory of the laws of the harmony of nature. (*37) Thus Hodgskin was very close to the utilitarian and philosophic Radical school. He denounced Ricardo as being wholly interested in profits, but at the same time he also condemned the theory that capital and labor have contrary interests, believing that both capital and wages could be increased simultaneously. He wanted the master manufacturers to be paid as laborers for the value of their services in the factory, although he was opposed, on the basis of natural rights, to the capitalists receiving an income from their property holdings.
Hodgskin was jealous of governmental powers which checked the individual and thus became opposed to the national system of education by government, favoring the creation of private mechanics institutes instead. Likewise, he was opposed to parliamentary regulation of factory laws, to the taxation of alcohol, and to any interference in the relations of capital and labor. Thus to Hodgskin, socialism was a reaction from and not a correction of the errors of capitalism, and, like some of the Anarchists of the day, his real thesis was to perpetuate true competition by depriving property holders of their privileges.
If we say that Hodgskin belongs to the economic school of Ricardian socialists of the day, it is simply because of his declaration that labor is the source of all value, and his conclusion that capitalists should receive no income from their holdings. In effect, Hodgskin was far closer to the socialistic Anarchism of Proudhon than to the views of Karl Marx.
To John Francis Bray, the root of all social wrong was the institution of property as it then existed. (*38) Political equality unaccompanied by economic equality was impossible, as would soon be demonstrated in the evolution of America, as well as already having been amply proven in Europe.
Like Owen and Thompson, Bray declared that man is a creature of circumstances which he cannot change and which he is forced to obey. All men are equal and have the duties of equal labor and the rights of equal wealth and social ownership of land. Since men are more or less equal in labor, wages should be more or less equal.
Bray realized vaguely that the workers were exploited, although he could not state the fact clearly, implying rather that the worker is cheated in the process of exchange. He did exclaim, however, that the worker gives the employer six days labor for an equivalent worth four days labor, and that all gain is extracted from the productive classes. The gain of the capitalist is the loss of the workman. (*39)
Bray characterized the present system as follows: “Under the present social system, the whole of the working class is dependent upon the capitalist or employer for the means of labour; and where one class by its position in society, is thus dependent upon another class for the MEANS of LABOUR, it is dependent likewise for the MEANS OF LIFE … ." (*40) He recommended that all should labor, all exchanges should be equal.
The only possible remedy was the abolition of the private ownership of wealth and of the right of inheritance. The productive class should take over the State and issue paper money in terms of labor to buy out the capitalist. Since money and banking were the great weapons of the capitalists, these were to be replaced by labor notes.
“Society was to undertake the physical, intellectual, and moral education of all children, leaving to parents as individuals only the ‘caressing of parental love."’ (*41) Women were to be freed from economic dependence and political inferiority; thus, like William Thompson and John Stuart Mill, who had also evoked great interest in the woman question, Bray became a champion for the development of womanhood. He also stood for a complete system of social insurance and protection of labor.
All of these Ricardian socialists with their theories of value as labor were limited by the defects of utopians generally. First, as a rule they were unable to take an historical perspective. Second, they were rationalists, believing in the power of peaceful persuasion to move the world. Third, they had no connection with the labor movement, but were intellectual elements of the bourgeoisie, keen enough to begin to infer what was wrong with the world and to draw radical conclusions from orthodox, classical, economic theory.
None the less, they foreshadowed the works of Marx and Engels and reflected the claims and pretensions of the labor movement then clamorously arising in Chartist agitations and in the revolutions of Europe.
At this time, other groups also appeared to criticize the industrial system and to espouse the cause of the under-dog. A Christian Socialist movement arose in England. Later on, in Europe, there would appear a Catholic Socialism, a State Socialism, and a Guild Socialism. These movements, however, presented themselves, generally after the rise of Marxism, in order to fight and destroy revolution. Thus, these other socialist movements were not the forerunners of Marxism, but were rather its enemies. Their theories could very well be adopted by reactionary collectivists as seen today in the fascist camp. We shall treat this type of socialism under fascism.
The conditions which were arising prior to 1848 were such as to make inevitable expressions leading to the conclusions later embodied by Marx. It would be well to pause to describe briefly the conditions of the time as they affected the working class, conditions normally bad, made infinitely worse by the periodic cyclical crises of overproduction and unemployment which were then setting. in and which found the worker completely unprotected.
In Paris, for example, it was estimated in 1836 that 100 out of every 1,232 people were below the poverty line and that 9 out of every 24 deaths took place in the hospices, that is, in the alms houses. During the crisis of 1847, one-third of the population was in receipt of charity, with 450,000 food tickets issued, (*42) while in July 1848, two-thirds of the workers were unemployed in Tourcoing, three-fourths in Calais, two-thirds in St. Etienne, etc.
In England the situation was dramatized by the flow of emigration. In 1838, emigration was about 33,000; in 1842, it rose to 128,000. For the eight years 1846 to 1854, emigration totaled over 2,500, 000. (*43) With the Irish famine, the population of Ireland became rapidly depleted, almost a million people perishing.
The figures of the criminal rates also are illustrative of the situation. Whereas the population of Great Britain increased but 79 per cent between 1805 and 1841, crime committals increased 482 per cent, reaching a total of 174.6 to every hundred thousand.
The situation in the United States can be seen from the reports in the New York Daily Tribune. “… the average earnings of those who live by simple labor in our city—embracing at least two-thirds of our population—scarcely, if at all, exceed one dollar per week for each person subsisting thereon.” (*44) The typical wage of a needle worker is given as follows: “Work which had brought 971/2 cents in 1844 was paid Only 371/2 cents in 1845 The average earnings of these women were $1.50 to $2 a week, though many of them could not earn more than $1.” (*45)
As for working conditions, we cite the following: “The length of a day’s labor varied from twelve to fifteen hours…. The regulations at Patterson, New Jersey, required women and children to be at work at half past four in the morning…. Operatives were taxed by the companies for the support of religion; … Windows were nailed down and the operatives deprived of fresh air…. Women and children were urged on by the use of a cowhide, and an instance is given of a little girl, eleven years of age, whose leg was broken with a ‘billet of wood. Still more harrowing is the description of the merciless whipping of a deaf-and-dumb boy by an overseer…. He received … one hundred blows. At Mendon, Mass., a boy of twelve drowned himself in a pond to escape factory labor.” (*46)
In 1849, social conditions were investigated by the City of Boston. Dr. Clark officially reports: “One cellar was reported by the police to be occupied nightly as a sleeping-apartment for thirty-nine persons. In another, the tide had risen so high that it was necessary to approach the bedside of a patient by means of a plank which was laid from one stool to another; while the dead body of an infant was actually sailing about the room in its Coffin.” (*47) An investigation held at practically the same time in New York City declares the fact that by no means were such conditions peculiar to Boston but were common to practically every large city in the country.
Under such circumstances, it was no wonder that, especially within the ranks of labor, opinions adumbrating those of Marx appeared everywhere. Among the Chartists, for example, Ernest Jones declared: “Money-capital did not create labor, but labor created money-capital; machinery did not create work, but work created machinery. It therefore follows that labour is, by its own nature the sovereign power, and that it owes no allegiance, gratitude or subjection to capital.” (*48)
Another leader, J. Brontierre O’Brien,,did much to popularize the phrase "wage slavery.” He translated the work of Buonarotti on the Baboeuf ,movement in the French Revolution, and thus helped to bring the attention of the English workman to the early French Communist movement. Even in America “the term ‘wage-slave’ had a much better standing in the forties than it has today.” (*49)
Among the Chartists, G. J. Harnay could declare, “As regards the workingman exterminating other ‘classes, the answer is easy. Other classes have no right to exist. To prepare the way for the absolute supremacy of the working classes … preparatory to the abolition of the system of classes, is the mission of the Red Republican." (*50)
One writer could actually call for an industrial republic similar to Soviets. “Have the shoemakers a representative in the House of Commons? There are 133,000 shoemakers in the country, and these, with their wives and families, make upwards of half a million of human beings in this country, all living by shoemaking. Yet not one representative have they…..” (*51)
Thus we may conclude that the writings of the scientific socialists were fully the product of their times, the result of sharp economic contradictions and crises, of violent political revolutions. Had Marx and Engels not lived, there is no doubt that other writers would have elaborated the same points of view.
After the Revolution of 1830, repressive measures were increased by the reactionary forces in control of Central Europe. In Germany, the protests of intellectual radicals against the old order led to large-scale banishments from the country. These exiles, in 1834, were able to organize in Paris the League of the Banished. Soon a Right and Left Wing developed within the group, the Left Wing splitting in 1836 to form the League of the Just. This latter organization did away with the dictatorial tendencies of the former and established an administrative committee democratically elected to head its work. It read revolutionary and socialistic works and was extremely interested in the utopian writing of Cabet who was the leader in appealing directly to the working class for the establishment of his utopias.
The League of the Just did not content itself with abstract propaganda, but began secretly, in Germany and elsewhere, to organize branches of the society which functioned under the guise of educational and singing societies and which began the task of building labor unions. The League of the Just contained within it many communists, the leading figure being Wilhelm Weitling. Several of the League were imprisoned for taking part in the communist attempt of Blanqui in France in 1839.
It was this group that later was forced to emigrate to England, and which founded a German Workers Educational Union, which became the Communist Labor Educational Union. These bodies, together with the League of the Just, formed, in 1847, the Communist League headed by Marx and Engels.
At this point we do not wish to analyze the activity of the Communist League, which we leave for another chapter. Suffice it to say that the League played an important role in the political turmoils and revolutions of 1848. Through the Communist League, Marx and Engels were induced to write their remarkable Communist Manifesto which, translated into every European language, became a sort of bible of the working class. Thus the Communist League prepared the way for the international action of the workers which was first realized on a large scale in the First International formed in 1864.
The Communist League was a strictly communist organization with a definite philosophy, communist procedure, trained cadres. The First International was an entirely different body.
1. At least it is this part of their heritage for which they are remembered, thanks to the interpretation of their disciples. On the other hand, Auguste Comte borrowed his theory of the evolution of religion from Saint-Simon who also enunciated the evolutionary thought that mankind must decay like other living things. Saint-Simon’s speculations, however, always ended in closed systems.
2. Compare the critique of the utopians in J. Davis: Contemporary Social Movements, p. 51
3. See, G. Elton: The Revolutionary Idea in France, 1789-1871, p. 123. (1923 edition.)
4. His chief works are: L’Industrie (1816-1818), Le Politique (1819), L’Organisateur (1819-1820), Systeme Industriel (1821), and Le Nouveau Christianisme (1825).
5. Gide and Rist: A History of Economic Doctrines, p. 202.
6. In his first work, however, in 1803, Saint-Simon had proposed the very opposite, namely, to re-establish order in society by means of a union between the intellectuals and the territorial proprietors, the model being the Middle Ages, the purpose, to suppress the authority of the masses. The industrialists are not mentioned.
7. Saint-Simon’s opposition to military government, of course, came after Napoleon’s defeat. While Napoleon lived, his system of government in Italy was declared to be the best the world had ever seen. “So long as Napoleon’s fortunes were in the ascendant, no sycophant was ever more obsequious.” (A. J. Booth: Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism, p. 39.)
8. See, D. B. Cofer: Saint-Simonism in the Radicalism of Thomas Carlyle.
9. T. Kirkup: A History of Socialism (5th ed., 1913), p. 31.
10. M. Hillquit: History of Socialism in the United States, pp. 72-73. (Fifth edition.)
11. See, A. Brisbane: General Introduction to Social Science, pp. 13, 14 and following. (New York, 1876, edition.)
12. The same, p. 43.
13. In this respect Fourier seems to be forerunner of the works of Tarde with his laws of imitation.
14. Brisbane: work cited, p. 71.
15. For his chart of evolution, see C. Fourier: Theory of the Four Movements, p. 36.
16. Fourier was acute enough to predict that canals would be built both at Suez and Panama, although it was the disciples of Saint-Simon who built one and began the other!
17. The plan and rules of Fourier’s Phalanges are given in P. Godwin: A Popular View of the Doctrines of Charles Fourier, p. 51 and following.
18. R. T. Ely: The Labor Movement in America, p. 20. (1905 edition.)
19. M. Hillquit: History of Socialism in the United States, p. 25.
20. Brisbane, Greeley, Parke, Godwin, George Ripley, C. A. Dana, William Henry Channing, Hawthorne, Emerson, Theodore Parker, Thoreau, Henry James, James Russell Lowell, Margaret Fuller, Louise Alcott, and others were Fourierists.
21. N. J. Ware: The Industrial Worker, 1840-1860, p. 165.
22. G. D. H. Cole: The Life of Robert Owen, p. 5 (1930 edition.)
23. See R. Owen: A New View of Society and Other Writings. (Everyman’s ed.)
24. See, C. Southwell: Socialism Made Easy or a Plain Exposition of Mr. Owen’s Views; also, R. Owen: Public Discussion between Robert Owen and the Rev. J. H. Roebuch.
25. R. Owen: Letters on Education, p. 14.
26. A. J. Booth: Robert Owen, p. 41.
27. The same, p. 94.
28. See, R. Owen: Wealth and Misery.
29. No Negro could become a member of the New Harmony colony.
At first the constitution of the New Harmony was put on an exceedingly anti-democratic basis: “… the government was to be in a committee of twelve, of whom eight should be persons who had advanced one hundred pounds or upwards.” (W. L. Sargent: R. Owen and his Social Philosophy, p. 235.)
30. G. D. H. Cole, work cited, p. 9.
31. D. Ricardo: Works, p. 23 (J. R. McCulloch 1876 edition).
32. Wrote: An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth (1824); Appeal of One Half the Human Race; Women (1825); Labour Rewarded (1827); Practical Directions for the Speedy and Economical Establishment of Communities (1830). He died 1833.
33. Wrote: A Lecture on Human Happiness (1825); A Word of Advice to the Orbistonians (1826); The Social System (1831); An Efficient Remedy for the Distress of Nations (1842); The Currency Question, (1847); Lectures on the Nature and the Use of Money (1848)
34. E. Lowenthal: The Ricardian Socialists, p. 51.
35. However, the navy was all right!
36. John Gray: A Lecture on Human Happiness, pp. 69-70
37. The pertinent works of T. Hodgskin are: Labour Defended Against the Claims of Capital (1825); Popular Political Economy (1827); The Natural and Artificial Rights of Property Contrasted (1832).
38. Hodgskin, like Herbert Spencer, was on the staff of the London Economist.
38. J. Bray: Labour’s Wrongs and Labour’s Remedy, p. 17. (1931 ed.)
39. See, J. Bray, the same, p. 56 and following.
40. The same, p. 52.
41. E. Lowenthal: The Ricardian Socialists, p. 898.
42. R. W. Postgate: Revolution from 1789 to 1906, p. 165.
43. See, P. W. Slosson: The Decline of the Chartist Movement, especially p. 178.
44. New York Daily Tribune, July 9, 1845, quoted in N. J. Ware: The Industrial Worker 1840-1860, p. 7.
45. The same, p. 13.
46. R. T. Ely: The Labor Movement in America, p. 49 (1905 edition).
47. N. J. Ware: work cited, quoted from “City of Boston Document No. 66.”
48. E. Jones: Notes to the People, p. 74, quoted in P. W. Slosson, work cited.
49. N. J. Ware: The same, p. xv, footnote.
50. Quoted in P. W. Slosson, work cited, p. 197.
51. J. E. Smith: On the Prospects of Society, p. 98, quoted in R. W. Postgate, work cited, Document 46.