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I have shown what the Socialists are doing to-day to gain
supreme control over governments. What do they expect to do when they
have obtained that power? I have given little attention to the steps
they will probably take at that time because the question belongs to the
future, and has not yet been practically confronted. It is impossible to
tell how any body of men will answer any question until it is before
them and they know their answer must be at once translated into acts.
Yet a few concrete statements as to what Socialists expect and intend
for the future--especially in those matters where there is practical
unanimity among them, may be justified, and may help to define their
present aims. There are certain matters where Socialists have as yet had
no opportunity to show their position in acts, and yet where their
present activities, supported by their statements, indicate what their
course will be.

First, how do Socialists expect to proceed during the transitional
period, when they have won supreme power, but have not yet had time to
put any of their more far-reaching principles into execution? The first
of these transitional problems is: What shall be done with those
particular forms of private property or privilege which stand in the way
of an economic democracy? How far shall existing vested rights be
compensated?


"And as for taking such property from the owners," asks Mr. H. G.
Wells, "why shouldn't we? The world has not only in the past taken
slaves from their owners, with no compensation or with meager
compensation; but in the history of mankind, dark as it is, there
are innumerable cases of slave owners resigning their inhuman
rights.... There are, no doubt, a number of dull, base, rich people
who hate and dread Socialism for purely selfish reasons; but it is
quite possible to be a property owner and yet be anxious to see
Socialism come into its own.... Though I deny the right to
compensation, I do not deny its probable advisability. So far as
the question of method goes it is quite conceivable that we may
partially compensate the property owners and make all sorts of
mitigating arrangements to avoid cruelty to them in our attempt to
end the wider cruelties of to-day."[292]


Socialists are, of course, quite determined that either the vested
interests of all persons dependent on small unearned incomes and unable
otherwise to earn their living shall be protected, or that they shall be
equally well provided for by other means. No practical Socialist has
ever proposed, during this transitional period, to interfere in any way
either with savings bank accounts or with life insurance policies on a
reasonable scale, or with widows and orphans who are using incomes from
very small pieces of property for identical purposes.

As to the compensation of the wealthier classes, this becomes entirely a
secondary question, a matter of pure expediency. The great British
scientist and Socialist, Alfred Russell Wallace, and the moderate
Socialist, Professor Anton Menger of Vienna, propose almost identical
plans of compromise with the wealthy classes,--compromises which would
perhaps result in a saving to a Socialist government and might therefore
be advisable, aside from any sentimental question of protecting or
abolishing vested "rights." Professor Wallace, objects to "continuing
any payments of interests beyond the lives of the present receivers and
their direct heirs [now living], who may have been brought up to expect
such inheritance." For if we were to compensate any others, Wallace
points out that we would be "actually robbing the present generation to
the enrichment and supposed advantage of certain unborn individuals, who
in most instances, as we now know, are much more likely to be injured
than benefited."[293] Professor Menger proposes that, in exchange for
property taken by the government from owners of large fortunes, there
should be allotted to them, and their descendants now living, a modest
annuity "sufficient to satisfy their legitimate needs," as being more
reasonable than Wallace's plan of such an income as they were "brought
up to expect."[294] But in the long run the difference between the two
methods would be immaterial--and the one chosen would doubtless depend
on the social or anti-social attitude assumed by the wealthy. In either
case there would be no unearned incomes in any generation not yet born.
On the other hand, it is perfectly possible that a Socialist Party which
had seized the reins of political power might, through motives of
caution and self-protection, use greater severity against those of the
capitalists whom they thought had played an unfair part in the welfare
against the installation of the new government. It is scarcely to be
doubted, for instance, that those capitalists who tried to embroil us in
foreign wars in order to prevent the establishment of social democracy
would probably be exiled and their property confiscated. Certainly these
measures would be employed against all such persons as had counseled or
participated in the suspension of civil government or other violent
measures.

But where will the money come from even for the payment of such limited
compensation as the Socialists decide upon? Assuming that the stocks and
bonds of the railways and other large businesses were paid for at the
cost of reproduction, or, let us say, at 50 per cent their present
market value, a vast amount would still be required. The Socialist
answer to this question is very brightly given by America's most popular
and influential Socialist organ, the _Appeal to Reason_. It reminds us
that the Socialists, once having the reins of political power, will then
be the possessors of all the credit of the government.


"How much money," asks the _Appeal_, "did Morgan need in order to
buy up all the independent steel companies for the steel trust?"
And it answers: "Not a penny. Rather than needing money, he issued
stock in the new concern in payment for the old independent mills,
and after all was done proceeded to almost double his stock! In
other words, instead of needing money, he acquired a vast sum in
the transaction. One who is familiar with the way the railroads
have been built and the vast fortunes erected understands that
there was almost no investment. It all came through a series of
tricks. Those tricks, as honest in the reversal as when the
capitalist played them, can be reversed. Hardly a corporation but
has forfeited its charter. With the charter cancelled stocks would
tumble and the water would speedily go. Socialists are not fools
that they should merely fall into the hands of men who think that
they can unload on them in such a manner as to saddle a perpetual
debt on the people. If the steel trust, after organizing and buying
up smaller concerns, could still issue vast series of stocks and
bonds, why could not the Socialists issue all the money they needed
to accomplish the same things? And would not the money based on
lands and mills be as good security as the money we now have based
on nothing under the sun but inflated railroad and trust stocks
[securities]?"


Undoubtedly some such method will be followed--with those essential
industries that will not already have become collective property under
capitalism.

In so far as "State Socialism" or collectivist capitalism will have
paved the way, by extensive government ownership, the problem of
confiscation or compensation becomes much simplified. Kautsky has very
ably summarized the prevailing Socialist plan for dealing with it at
this point:--


"As soon as all capitalist wealth had taken the form of
(government) bonds, it would be possible to raise a progressive
income, property and inheritance tax, to a height which until then
was impossible.

"It is one of our demands at the present time that such a tax shall
be substituted for all others, especially for the indirect tax.

"But even if we had to-day the power to carry through such a
measure with the support of the other parties, which is plainly
impossible, because no bourgeois party would go so far, we would at
once find ourselves in the presence of great difficulties.

"It is a well-known fact that the higher the tax the greater the
efforts at tax dodging.

"But when a condition exists where any concealment of income and
property is impossible, even then we would not be in a position to
force the income and property tax as high as we wish, because the
capitalists, if the tax on their income or property pressed them
too closely, would simply leave the State.

"Above a certain measure such taxes cannot rise to-day even if we
had the political power.

"_The situation is completely changed, however, when capitalist
property takes the form of public debts._

"The property to-day that is so hard to find then lies in broad
day-light.

"It would then only be necessary to declare that all bonds must be
public, and it would be known exactly what was the value of every
property and every capitalist income.

"_The tax would then be raised as high as desired_ without the
possibility of tax frauds.

"It would then also be impossible to escape taxation by emigration,
for the tax could simply be taken from the interest before it was
paid out. [A similar tax exists in France to-day.]

"_If necessary it might be put so high as to be equivalent, or
nearly so, to a confiscation of the great properties._

"It might be well to ask what is the advantage of this round-about
way of confiscation over that of taking the direct road?

"The difference between the two methods is not so trifling as at
first appears.

"Direct confiscation of all capitalists would strike all, the small
and the great, those utterly useless to labor, in the same manner.

"It is difficult, often impossible, in this method to separate the
large possession from the small, when these are united in the form
of money capital in the same undertaking.

"Direct confiscation would complete this quickly, often at one
stroke, while _confiscation through taxation permits the
disappearance of capitalists' property through a long-drawn-out
process, proceeding in the exact degree in which the new order is
established and its benevolent influence made perceptible._

"Confiscation in this way loses its harshness and becomes more
acceptable and less painful.

"The more peaceable the conquest of political power by the
proletariat, and the more firmly organized and enlightened it is,
the more we can expect that the primitive forms of confiscation
will be softened." (My italics.)[295]


Nor are any of the more influential Socialists anxious to make a clean
sweep of private enterprise in industry.



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Keywords: either, incomes, professor, living, vested, socialism, becomes, against, possible, rights
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