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This little book, written with the purpose of presenting in a popular and readable form, ideas which have been treated more seriously elsewhere, is almost wholly descriptive of a form of social and industrial organization which the writer conceives to be in harmony with the principle of social justice elsewhere enunciated.
The problem of practical socialism is as old as civilization. In all centuries men have dreamed of a golden age in which all things would be made perfect, and have struggled to devise laws and systems under which men might cooperate in harmony, and all have sufficient for their needs. Yet, at the present day, the problem appears to be as little understood as in the beginning. From the time of Moses and Plato to that of the more modern Utopian imaginings which hold our interest for a passing day and are soon forgotten, philosophers have left but futile records of their speculations. Hence men have come to think of the problem as one which does not come within the sphere of exact science.
He who claims to have reached a solution of the problem must necessarily face an incredulous audience. Men will hesitate to believe that a problem so long unanswered, and apparently too complex for the application of any principle or theory, has been brought within the dominion of science, and that a way has been marked out for future reformers which will
eventually result in a system of industry and cooperation under which all men will be justly treated.
Yet why should men assume that there is any question which cannot be made the subject of scientific knowledge, any problem which cannot be understood? Nature has not made it impossible to establish social justice, much less impossible therefore to define it.
"True enough," you may say, "but how are we to know when the correct answer has been given?” My answer is that you judge it by these standards:
That it harmonizes with the understood laws of progress and evolution.
That its realization is the logical outcome of a process of political and industrial change already be
That it involves no sudden or impossible change of human nature in order to become operative.
That it calls for no artificial or arbitrary adjustment of work or wages.
That it preserves the fullest liberty to the individual.
That it ensures to each the full value of his labour and equality of opportunity.
That it answers every objection which can be fairly made to any theory of industrial reorganization. Finally, that it appeals to every sense of justice and fairness.
The New Socialism
WHAT IS SOCIALISM ?
Socialism may be broadly defined as the conscious effort to realise the ideal of social justice. I know of no better definition than this, vague though it may appear. It is only by such a broad generality that we can include every phase of that great world movement which people have learned to think of as socialism. On one point, however, are socialists found to be in perfect agreement. Essentially socialism is a criticism of existing social and industrial institutions. All agree that there is and can be no such thing as justice under capitalism, and that the realization of the ideal of social justice can be accomplished only by the overthrow of the capitalist system.
Naturally, the first conception which men formed of a new social order was that of complete equality of its members, a simple theory which may be likened to man's first conception of the formation of the Earth, and naturally enough socialism still suggests to the average man the idea of equality, and idea which to the individualist means the cessation of that natural rivalry which makes for progress in mankind and which is to society what the law of gravity is to the physical universe.