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within a testator's family, as it has already been restricted over most of the Continent, though not in the United States of America. If so, whatever other consequences may ensue, Socialism will not be the gainer, for a larger number of property-holders will be enlisted against Socialistic encroachments on property. A milder, but less practicable, alternative would be the adoption of Mill's suggestion, that no one should be allowed to inherit more than a comfortable independence.' The difficulty of carrying out this suggestion literally is self-evident, but a Liberal statesman, in a Democratic age, will not shrink from the idea of progressive succession and legacy duties, which may have much the same effect. The distinction between a progressive succession duty and a progressive income tax is very material. The latter, though worthy of far more consideration than it has received, strikes directly at acquisition, and might very seriously check the accumulation of capital. The former would leave the capitalist full control of his own savings during life, and, if it weakened bis incentives to accumulation, so far as these depend on his desire to enrich his children, it would sensibly increase the incentives to accumulation on the part of these very children, who might otherwise lapse into drones. The funds thus obtained by the State might be utilised in relief of other taxes, without robbing anyone either the deceased capitalist who, having brought nothing into the world, is entitled to carry nothing out, or his children who, knowing the law beforehand, would have governed their expectations and laid their plans accordingly. The whole amount of capital applicable to reproductive uses would not be diminished, but only redistributed, for whatever the estate of the deceased might lose would go to increase the capital of the general taxpayer.

2. But a far safer mode of satisfying the reasonable demands of modern Socialism consists in the bold and vigorous development of local self-government. Communism and Communalism, though often confounded, are naturally opposed to each other, as we may learn from the example of Saxon times, where the communal rights of each township or hundred were stoutly maintained by the same local assemblies which jealously guarded individual rights of property. So far as State-Socialism has for its end the subordination of private to public interests, an extension of local self-government will often prove a more potent means of attaining that end than an extension of Imperial control. All departments of State must needs be guided by general rules, and no officers acting under instructions from Downing Street can bring the master's eye' to bear on local affairs with the same vigilance or success as officers employed by a local authority. Had the old County Courts been maintained, they would assuredly have prevented numberless encroachments of modern landowners on common rights by piecemeal enclosure, obstruction or diversion of footpaths, the creation of nuisances injurious to the public health or

convenience, and the like. The way to put down such grievances is not to call in State aid, but to popularise and invigorate local tribunals, so that each invasion of public franchises may be promptly denounced and checked under the pressure of public opinion. This is the spirit of American Democracy, and the strength which it has infused into the local institutions of the United States is probably the main reason why Socialism has there made so little progress. Even a half-Socialistic measure, like the concession of free education to all citizens, will produce a very different effect according as it is carried out by an Imperial or a local authority. If the whole cost of maintaining elementary schools were thrown on the Consolidated Fund, no matter how lavishly inspectors might be multiplied, school management would at once flag, healthy rivalry would cease, and the average standard of attainments among the scholars would almost certainly be lowered. It would be far otherwise if, as in America, the same principle were applied by each municipality or parish. It may, perhaps, be doubted whether rural labourers, however eager to obtain improved cottages at the public expense, would not use their votes to abolish compulsory attendance if they could, even though education were free; but a few years hence Democracy will heartily adopt universal education, at all events if it be free. Those who paid school-rates would then take care to get their money's worth, and a large part of the population might be expected to feel an honourable pride in their school buildings and staff. In a word, there would be less of Socialism, but more of true Democracy, in the system of popular education.

3. If we now look at Socialism from its purely industrial side, we may well ask what it has to offer which is not to be obtained with far less disturbance of society under a system of industrial partnership. Let us take an extreme case, and suppose national workshops, such as proved a disastrous failure in Paris, to be established in London for the benefit of distressed operatives. Capital would be required to work them; let us further suppose this capital to be raised by confiscating the property of the rich, or some other Socialistic device. But this capital, however it might be raised, would mainly be withdrawn from some other business, that is, from the employment of labour elsewhere, so that, as a whole, the labouring class might gain little or nothing. But let this pass; the question remains whether either capital or labour is likely to be so beneficially invested in national workshops as in workshops belonging to industrial partnerships. The marvellous success of two such enterprises in France goes far to justify Mill's belief in their value as an agency for reconciling the claims of labour and capital. There are, of course, difficulties in managing them, because workmen are less trustful and amenable to discipline as partners than as factory hands; and these difficulties have marred the success of similar experiments in England. But the difficulties incident to managing an industrial or co-operative partnership are as nothing compared with those to be surmounted if the State were really to undertake the impossible task of organising labour and apportioning wages on Socialistic principles.

Can we suppose,' Mr. Mill asks, that with men as they now are, duty and honour are more powerful principles of action than personal interest ?' Can we doubt that under a Socialistic system of State management the spirit of improvement would be crushed out by the spirit of routine, that discord would take the place of harmonious discipline, and that, however equably the products of labour might be distributed, the quantity, if not the quality, of them would be vastly diminished? These risks would be avoided, or at least greatly mitigated, under a system of industrial partnership, and the fact of such a system having made so little way in England is a strong proof that industrial Socialism is out of harmony with the national character. At all events, so far as co-operation is a remedy for the evils of competition, it is a remedy which the working classes have in their own hands, and which they are fast learning to apply.

4. Another tendency which a wise statesman would encourage as a prophylactic against Socialism is the revival of some intermediate links, now missing, between capitalists or employers and workpeople. In the olden times every country gentleman farmed, every farmer worked, and most labourers owned or rented plots of land. All these classes were thus brought into closer intercourse with each other, and besides these a true peasantry still existed, combining the attributes of all. Almost the same might be said of manufacture, when the mechanic was an apprentice, destined in due course to be a master, and vast numbers of mechanics were at once their own masters and their own workmen. It would be too much to expect that modern trade and rural economy should flow back into the ancient channels of mediæval guilds and feudal land-tenure. But it is not too much to expect that, under the joint impulse of Democracy and education, the excessive subdivision of labour may be checked; that petites industries may again spring up and flourish not only in the country, but in the heart of cities; that clever artificers may once more aspire to be masters of their whole craft, instead of mere cog-wheels in a complex machinery of production; that a constant ascending movement, such as exists in America, may cause the ranks of capital to be steadily recruited from the ranks of labour; that, in short, the natural inequalities of physical strength, mental ability, and moral character, may be left to operate freely in each generation with as little disturbance as possible from artificial obstacles created, but not justified, by the operation of similar inequalities in bygone ages.

The secret, then, whereby Socialism may be disarmed consists in satisfying its legitimate demands and nobler aspirations by measures founded on a juster and sounder principle. But, after all, the Social

istic leaven will continue to work in a Democratic community so long as the full virtues of individualism are not called into action, Socialism presupposes a far greater equality and uniformity of capacity and merit than actually exists among hunan beings. Until the laws of nature can be reversed, and the prodigious differences between man and man can be effaced, it is doomed to inevitable defeat; but if it should ever triumph, it would triumph over the ruins of that individual energy to which civilisation owes its vitality. It was the boast of the Athenian Democracy—the political marvel of the ancient world—that it gave unbounded play to individual character, and the American Democracy, however it may have since degenerated, originally drew its strength from the same fountain of individual liberty and independence. The suppression of this spirit, the absence of competition, and the prevalence of an ignorant State Socialism, as it may well be called, are the distinctive features of those Oriental governments whose dreary and monotonous rule, prolonged over century after century, excluded the very idea of progress, and left no fruits to be reaped by posterity. The advice addressed by M. Edmond Scherer to French Democrats may well be laid to heart by English Democrats allured by the phantom of State-Socialism :

Do not imagine that one class is to be enriched by impoverishing others; instead of opposing the formation of private fortunes, strive to increase the number of capitalists and proprietors; in like manner, instead of lowering public functions to bring them within the reach of incapacity, aim at drawing from the bosom of society all its inherent capacities, and at pressing them into the service of the State; in a word, let your establishment of social equality consist, not in forbidding natural superiorities to assert themselves or in forcing them down to the level of the general mediocrity, but, on the contrary, in favouring the manifestation and development of everything in the masses which is strong enough to rise above this level.1


But then, as M. Scherer truly observes, this is not the Socialistic, but the Liberal, and, he might add, the Christian, solution of the social problem.

Much, indeed, remains for us to learn and to do before this solution can be fully verified and practically worked out. The state of the poor in most European countries is still perhaps as great a reproach to Christian philanthropy as the constant recurrence of war between Christian nations, but it is assuredly not a greater reproach, In both cases the selfishness of human nature has as yet proved too strong for Christian principles, but have we the very smallest reason to believe that, where Christianity has failed, Socialism would succeed? Can we imagine any ideal of human brotherhood nobler than is set before us by the Gospel, or stronger motives for embracing it than are there impressed upon mankind, or more earnest attempts to realise it than have been actually made, both in Europe and America, in commonwealths organised on a Christian model ? The discouraging issue of such experiments should go far to convince reasonable men that what is wanted to hasten the good time coming is not so much organisation as moral and religious influences, operating more widely than heretofore on individual hearts and minds. Doubtless, the new Democracy will strive hard to bridge over by legislation the gulf which now yawns between the rich and the poor, nor is there any cause to despair of its accomplishing much by the steady light of past experience. But there is little hope of its accomplishing anything by the false lights of Socialistic theories, which, so far as they do not elude practical tests, are found to be radically false. If its leaders be wise, they will direct their efforts, not so much to reconstructing Society,' which is an abstract conception, as to raising the characters and capacities of men, women, and children, who are concrete realities. They will indulge in no querulous invectives against

1 La Démocratie et la France, Edmond Scherer, 1883.

capitalism, which is but a cant word for the power acquired by saving, but rather will exhort the working classes to win a share of this power by the same honourable process. They will see that abuse of competition is hardly more reasonable than abuse of gravitation, and that if capital now wrings an exorbitant return from the produce of labour, the labourer may obtain a like return for himself by means of co-operation. They will beware of ignoring or reviling the inexorable law by virtue of which the “refuse of human life'-the victims of disease, vice, and crushing misfortune-sink downwards and settle at the bottom of every society, except in Utopia, but will rather consider how to minimise and elevate even this residuum, without sowing the seeds of a fresh crop of misery for the next generation. Instead of worshipping, and teaching others to worship, a past that was never present, they will study the methods whereby the most provident and self-restrained of the working classes are already enabled to effect their own emancipation, with a view to adopting the same methods for the emancipation of a much larger number, if not of the whole body. Those who believe in Democracy will not regard this as too ambitious an aim for Democratic statesmanship; but, if this be too ambitious an aim, then how utterly vain is the vision of a Socialistic millennium! For the Socialistic transformation of a free people, like the English, into a vast Trades Union composed of a single class, would demand for its achievement a degree of intelligence little short of omniscience, and a revolutionary force little short of omnipotence; while the maintenance of such a system would require an infinitely higher order of public virtues in the whole community than would suffice, under the present system, to secure the greatest happiness of the greatest number in a sense far beyond the shallow counsels of Socialistic perfection.


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