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The answer and the only rational answer is, it should go so far as to meet the demands of social justice. This is precisely the demands of Socialism. Let us now grant that by freedom of contract absolute freedom is not intended, but freedom to buy and sell in accordance with civil law and the principles of the existing order.

Is freedom of contract thus qualified Christian? If not, can it be Christianized? The answer must be in the negative. In the summer of 1891 a man bought up 14,000,000, bushels of corn and withheld it till the price advanced 20 per cent to the disadvantage and distress of thousands. Christianity says, "He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him."1 Can this corn transaction, which is representative under freedom of contract, be Christianized? Fresh in memory is a Chicago wheat corner which so "squeezed" an old and honorable firm in New York that the senior member found relief in suicide. A secular journal that upholds "the present order," characterizes this corn-dealer and this wheat-squeezer, whose only offence and complete defence is that each is doing a lawful business under freedom of contract, as "a thief and a robber." 2

Strong language this for the eye of capitalism to use. towards its hand; for there ought to be no schism between the members of the capitalistic body. But nothing is more common than for the friends of the existing order to exalt freedom of contract, or some other capitalistic principle, and then roundly condemn the man who employs it most logically and most successfully. Witness the kind of epithets applied to J. Gould, Vanderbilt, and indeed nearly all men who, by extraordinary ability, have secured a fortune, in perfect accordance with the laws of the land, of society, and of the "existing order." We do not say, however, in accordance with Christianity. Speculation is everywhere; it pervades society like an atmosphere. Your grocer engages in it; so does everybody. The gambling spirit is not confined to the Stock Exchange. Getting something and all one can for nothing is the universal

1 Prov. xi. 26.

2 "Springfield Daily Union," Sept. 7, 1888.

practice. The head of a large manufacturing plant recently told the writer that the law of business was "to claim the whole world and concede only as you must." We do not approve the business of cornering commodities, even on the small scale which every small dealer is practising. What we insist on is, that the advocate of the existing order, of which cornering is a most perfect, natural, and consummate flower, cannot consistently condemn it. A tree, however, is known by its fruit. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit;" and Socialism, in the language of its Great Head, says, not that the tree shall be Christianized, but "hewn down and cast into the fire." But this is not the worst count in the bill of indictment Christianity brings against freedom of contract. By the exercise of this principle, capital combines and secures control, not only of necessary commodities, but of work itself by which the poor man can alone sustain life. He stands before a great corporation to sell his labor, and has no more to say about the price than an infant. It may be his only chance for work at any price; he may have a helpless family behind him and starvation before him; he is forced to take the wages offered, however low; and this also is called freedom of contract. The phrase is elastic. We exclude bribery, a case of real freedom, and include the hiring of the laborer by the corporation, a case of the entire absence of freedom. But this elasticity of freedom of contract is its most valuable quality; it solves the capitalistic problem how to serve God and mammon at the same time. About 600 railroad companies in the United States employ 800,000 men. The employees of some of these companies, numbering thousands, are dependent upon the nod of one man for their daily bread. "The mutuality of dependence between a great railroad corporation and any single one of its hundreds of machinists, engineers, firemen, brakemen, switchmen, track men, or other employees, is absolutely inappreciable. The dependence is altogether one-sided."

Freedom of contract is a misnomer when one party arbitrarily fixes the terms of contract and the other is compelled to accept.

A most unjust and socially harmful exercise of this principle is the formation of trusts to control production and raise prices. A trust is only a perpetual corner. The coal trust meets and decides to reduce the output of coal, and price is advanced twenty-five cents per ton. What has the consumer to say anyway about the price he shall pay for coal? The Standard Oil Trust agrees to give the Producers' Association 5,000,000 barrels of oil, if the latter would reduce the production of crude oil 17,500 barrels per day, and is justified under the sacred principle of freedom of contract. We deny the moral right of a few thus to enrich themselves at the expense of the many, and we are unable to see how these transactions can be Christianized.

Christianity says, "And if thou sell aught unto thy neighbor, or buyest aught of thy neighbor's hand, ye shall not oppress one another.” 1

Freedom of contract allows the strong and the cunning to impose upon the weak and the innocent. This it has done and is doing till unspeakable mischief and misery have been inflicted upon society.

3. Competition, the third principle of the existing order, is not only relatively but absolutely anti-Christian. The formula for competition is, man against man. Christianity says man for man, "ye are members one of another." Competition is war; Christianity is peace.

We can no more mix Christianity and competition than we can mix oil and water. But we need not dwell upon this point, for it is admitted. Dr. Gladden declares competition to be war: "A war in which the strongest will win. . . The wage-system, when it rests on competition as its sole basis, is anti-social and anti-Christian." 2 This is our posi-tion precisely.

Competition, the third principle in capitalism, is antiChristian. What is essentially anti-Christian cannot be Christianized; it must be abolished.

Socialism would remove the evil effects of these principles by removing the cause. It would sweeten the stream at which society is drinking by purifying the fountain, 2 "Applied Christianity," p. 33.

1 Lev. xxv. 14.

rather than by spasmodic and inadequate attempts to filter the water along the current.

These evils are not merely incidental to a system which can be Christianized by preventing them; they inhere in the system itself. The existing order is a necessary link in the chain of industrial development. Individualisin was as necessary for Socialism as slavery was for feudalism, or feudalism for capitalism. Each of these systems was regarded as the divinely ordained and final order. As they outgrew their usefulness and the evils connected with them became threatening and unendurable, conservative and good men sought to perpetuate by Christianizing them as they now do the existing order. Slavery was a divine order, and men sought to Christianize it, but in vain. Polygamy was a divine institution, and when society outgrew it, Christianization was attempted only to end in failure.

The liquor traffic seeks to be Christianized. A saloon in Salt Lake bore the inscription, "Holiness to the Lord;" but Christianity refuses to baptize the liquor traffic. Every form of human selfishness seeks to be Christianized. Hardly any great error or institution which becomes a menace to society dies without seeking, and too often temporarily finding, shelter under the protecting ægis of Christianity.

CHAPTER VI

ADVANTAGES OF THE SOCIALISTIC STATE

"With fervency I spoke of that new world blessed with plenty, purified by justice, and sweetened by brotherly kindness, the world of which I had indeed but dreamed, but which might so easily be made real."- EDWARD BELLAMY.

SOCIALISM aims primarily at industrial reformation, but it affects all social interests, as they are vitally connected with industry.

For an interesting résumé of the advantages of the "Cooperative Commonwealth," we might refer to "Looking Backward," a book which, under the guise of a simple but charming romance, vividly portrays the harmonious and wholesome working of social and industrial institutions under the Socialistic state.

If it be said this is utopian, let us bear in mind that the particular details of the working of the great principles of Socialism are of little consequence. "Looking Backward" has not stirred the hearts of the nations on account of its non-essential details, but rather on account of its mighty truths set over against terrible wrongs in such a way as to amount to a new discovery. If these truths are utopian, the New Testament is utopian. Their application, which is wholly gratuitous, but which superficial people regard as paramount to the principles themselves, must be experimental and vary with circumstances.

The character of this treatise, however, calls for facts, for things that are practicable and probable. We proceed, therefore, to specify some of the actual advantages of the Socialistic state.

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