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CHAPTER VII

OBJECTIONS TO SOCIALISM CONSIDERED

I. As to the Charge of Atheism.

"The belief in God is the bond and cement of all human society, and the support of justice." - PLUTARCH.

"It must be fairly stated, that their opposition to religion has no logical connection with their socialistic views."- PROFESSOR R. T. ELY.

It is charged that Socialism is atheistic and materialistic. It is not strange that such a charge has been made; it would be strange, however, if any well-informed writer should hereafter make it.

The Socialism of to-day is thoroughly Christian. Certain leaders of the earlier French and German Socialism fiercely attacked nearly all social institutions, including the church, and startled society by their blasphemous utterances. To-day the real leaders of Socialism are reverent, thoughtful, and Christian men and women, among whom are many moral and religious teachers. Socialism has come out from Communism and all other fanatical and Utopian schemes for reforming society. It takes its stand squarely and simply upon the eternal principles of right reason, social justice, and neighborly love. It is the prod

uct not of atheistic agitators, but of social and industrial evolution. It has reached that stage of development where it commands the attention of all thoughtful men.

It is fast being recognized as a new political economy, founded upon the highest type of ethics and the soundest social philosophy. No social movement, not even Christianity itself, ever spread with such rapidity among the masses, or in the same period gathered to itself so many wise and good men, throughout the civilized world. Is it reasonable to suppose such a movement to be inspired by

atheism? Why, then, the charge? There are two reasons : one is because the irreligion of certain earlier Socialists was hastily inferred to be inherent in the system; the other is because capitalistic writers found that, in the absence of valid argument, they could discredit Socialism by the charge of atheism.

We concede, however, the eminently scientific spirit and method of certain Socialists who have weighted the cause with materialistic views.

Marx would abolish religion. He says, "The critique of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the highest being for men; and thus with the categorical imperative of overthrowing all relations in which man is a degraded, enslaved, forsaken, contemptible being; relations which one cannot better describe than by the exclamation of a Frenchman, on occasion of a projected dog-tax, 'Poor dogs! They are going to treat you like men.'"1 The significance of this commiseration may be seen in the fact that dogs actually received better treatment than human beings. To harness women with dogs for carting produce, as is daily done in Paris, is to honor dogs above men. In Berlin the law allows the dog to draw no more than seven kilos, or about sixteen pounds, but puts no limit upon the load a woman may pull.

The irreligion of certain Socialistic leaders has naturally lead to the impression that Socialism is atheistic, or at least has allied itself with the grossest materialism, and is necessarily the enemy of religion.

Without entering into an extended refutation of this charge, we will submit several reasons that show conclusively its falsity.

1. The tap-root of Socialism on its economic side is its principle as to industrial methods. It advocates the principle of association, rather than that of individualism, in industry; and this principle, per se, has no more to do with atheism or materialism than the multiplication-table.

2. The social consequences that necessarily follow the adoption of this first principle, some of which we have con

1 As quoted in "Communism and Socialism" (Woolsey), p. 247.

sidered in the last chapter, are not only not atheistic, but in the highest degree Christian.

3. No one of the five postulates of Socialism considered in chapter iii. furnishes the slightest ground for this charge. A whole is equal to all its parts.

4. The principles of justice, equality, and fraternity among all men, which Socialism always emphasizes, and on which it builds, are the most glorious fruits of a theistic and spiritual religion.

5. Some of the closest students of Socialism, who are its ablest opponents, candidly admit that atheism and the material philosophy are not inherent in, but accidental to, Socialism. Laveleye says, "It is impossible to understand by what strange blindness Socialists adopt Darwinian theories, which condemn their claims of equality, while at the same time they reject Christianity, whence those claims have issued and where their justification may be found." The italics are ours.

Dr. Woolsey, an opponent of Socialism, explains this mystery. He tells us that before Socialism was thought of, France and Germany had lost their faith in Christianity: philosophers, scholars, and leaders of thought generally, had rejected the supernatural, and not only Socialism, but every other ism, would be treated from a materialistic standpoint. "A large part of the thinkers of France, and nearly all of those who leaned toward communism, had discarded Christianity; but, far worse than this, the great mass of the workmen in Paris and other towns of France were leavened with unbelief in God and Christ." 1

In answer to the question," Has it (Socialism) made the working men atheists; or were they atheists already?" he says, "The old German faith had begun to give way within the church or churches themselves some time before socialistic principles were thought of. . . . The free thinking which showed itself so mighty a destructive agent in France, spread in Germany. . . . Philosophy, in the shape given to it by Hegel, became pantheistic, and when it went down among the people atheistic. To this source the

1 "Communism and Socialism," pp. 244, 245.

departure of the nation from the faith of the Scriptures must be ascribed.

So, then, the working class was not so much to blame for their atheism as were those who had the intelligence of the country in their possession." 1 Is this not really conclusive of this charge?

It appears that it is not Socialism, but the capitalistic system, with its intelligent leaders, that naturally brings forth atheism and materialism.

6. It is conceded that Socialism would abolish outright many of the evils condemned by the Scriptures, and which the gospel of Christ, handicapped as it is by the existing economy, is seeking to overcome.

This is not only not atheism, but Christianity.

7. Socialism being the application to industry of those rules of human conduct laid down by Jesus Christ, namely, the Golden Rule, love, fraternity, unselfishness, it is the most humane and most just, the most divine and beautiful system ever devised by the human mind and presented to mankind for their adoption.

8. The early French Socialists paid special honor to Christ. Professor R. T. Ely says of these reformers of 1850, "At that time if any one had visited the assembly rooms of a communistic or Socialistic society in Paris, he would in all probability have found there a picture of Christ with these words written under it, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the first representative of the people.'" 2

9. Among the leaders of this movement to-day are ministers of religion, philanthropists, political economists, public teachers, and writers, who think independently, and have no interest to serve but the truth.

Opponents of Socialism can hardly resist the temptation to prejudice the cause in the minds of the people by associating it with irreligion. Even Dr. Woolsey, forced to concede that faith had given way "before Socialistic principles were thought of," proceeds to indulge in a series of a priori

1" Communism and Socialism," p. 240.
2" French and German Socialism," p. 146.

speculations, tending to show that the Socialistic state might not be favorable to religion.

Next to the patience of God must be ranked the patience and long-suffering of the toiling masses with a church founded by Jesus Christ and perpetuated by those professing to be his disciples, but allied with wealth and caste, and upholding a social organization that oppresses and degrades them, and makes the brotherhood taught by Christ a farce.

We are not so foolish as to expect that this charge of atheism will be at once withdrawn. Newspapers and magazines must continue to supply what their readers demand.

Some preachers as yet know little of Socialism, and they are not only uninformed but human. It is just as easy now for a minister to preach himself out of his pulpit as it was in the days of Jonathan Edwards.

The commercial law of supply and demand obtains too largely between pulpit and pew, although exceptional ability will, of course, admit of exceptional boldness. If the real causes of irreligion among German working men and Socialists have been such as Dr. Woolsey points out, there is no foundation for the implication contained in such paragraphs as the following:

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"The International Society proclaims itself atheist. A procession of twenty thousand Socialists, singing ribald songs, passed lately into a cemetery in Berlin through gates on which were inscribed the words: There is no hereafter.'" 1 What of the fact that probably many times as many individualists in Berlin believe the same doctrine? The infidelity of these Socialists was not due to their Socialism. Thomas Paine and other Revolutionary patriots were infidels, but this was not due to democracy. Our republic was born on an ebbing tide of religion; loyalty to liberty and treason to Christianity went hand in hand. Infidelity was cultured and fashionable. When Timothy Dwight entered upon the presidency of Yale College in 1795, "a considerable portion of the class which he first taught had assumed the names of the prin1" Labor" (Cook), p. 12.

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