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For there are comparatively few who have neither read
any of the Fabian pamphlets nor seen or read any of Bernard Shaw's plays
in which the same standpoint is represented.

Mr. John A. Hobson classes the Socialist and non-Socialist reformers of
Great Britain together as regards their opportunism. Though a Liberal
himself, he objects that some Socialists are not radical enough, and
that "the milder and more opportunist brand suffer from excessive
vagueness." Of the prevailing tendency towards opportunism, Mr. Hobson
writes:--


"This revolt against ideas is carried so far that able men have
come seriously to look upon progress as a matter for the
manipulation of wirepullers, something to be 'jobbed' in committee
by sophistical motions or other clever trickery. Great national
issues really turn, according to this judgment, upon the arts of
political management, the play of the adroit tactician and the
complete canvasser. This is the 'work' that tells; elections, the
sane expression of the national will, are won by these and by no
other means.

"_Nowhere has this mechanical conception of progress worked more
disastrously than in the movement towards Collectivism._ Suppose
that the mechanism of reform were perfected, that each little
clique of specialists and wirepullers were placed at its proper
point in the machinery of public life, will this machinery grind
out progress? Every student of industrial history knows that the
application of a powerful 'motor' is of vastly greater importance
than the invention of a special machine. Now, what provision is
made for generating the motor power of progress in Collectivism?
Will it come of its own accord? Our mechanical reformer apparently
thinks it will. The attraction of some present obvious gain, the
suppression of some scandalous abuse of monopolist power by a
private company, some needed enlargement of existing Municipal or
State enterprise by lateral expansion--such are the sole springs of
action. In this way the Municipalization of public services,
increased assertion of State control over mines, railways, and
factories, the assumption under State control of large departments
of transport trade, proceed without any recognition of the guidance
of general principles. Everywhere the pressure of special concrete
interests, nowhere the conscious play of organized human
intelligence!...

"My object here is to justify the practical utility of 'theory' and
'principle' in the movement of Collectivism by showing that
reformers who distrust the guidance of Utopia, or even the
application of economic first principles, are not thrown back
entirely upon that crude empiricism which insists that each case is
to be judged separately and exclusively on its own individual
merits."


Mr. Hobson then proposes his collectivist program, which he rightly
considers to be not Socialist but Liberal merely--and we find it more
collectivistic, radical, and democratic than that of many so-called
Socialists. Moreover it expresses the views of a large and growing
proportion of the present Liberal Party. Then he concludes as follows:--


"If practical workers for social and industrial reforms continue to
ignore principles, the inevitable logic of events will nevertheless
drive them along the path of Collectivism here indicated. But they
will have to pay the price which shortsighted empiricism always
pays; with slow, hesitant, and staggering steps, with innumerable
false starts and backslidings, they will move in the dark along an
unseen track towards an unseen goal. Social development may be
conscious or unconscious. It has been mostly unconscious in the
past, and therefore slow, wasteful, and dangerous. If we desire it
to be swifter, safer, and more effective in the future, it must
become the conscious expression of the trained and organized will
of a people not despising theory as unpractical, but using it to
furnish economy in action."[134]


Practically all "State Socialists" hold a similar view to that of Shaw
and Webb. Mr. Wells even, in his "First and Last Things," has a lengthy
attack on what he calls democracy, when he tells us that its true name
is "insubordination," and that it is base because "it dreams that its
leaders are its delegates." His view of democracy is strictly consistent
with his attitude toward the common man, whom he regards as "a
gregarious animal, collectively rather like a sheep, emotional, hasty,
and shallow."[135] Democracy can only mean, Mr. Wells concludes, that
power will be put into the hands of "rich newspaper proprietors,
advertising producers, and the energetic wealthy generally, as the
source flooding the collective mind freely with the suggestions on which
it acts."

The _New Age_, representing the younger Fabians, also despairs of
democracy and advocates compromise, because "the democratic party have
failed so far to be indorsed and inforced by popular consent." It
acknowledges that the power of the Crown is "great and even temporarily
overwhelming," but discourages opposition to monarchy for the reason
that monarchy rests on the ignorance and weakness of the people and not
on sheer physical coercion.[136] The _New Age_ opposes those democratic
proposals, the referendum and proportional representation, considers
that the representative may so thoroughly embody the ideals and
interests of the community as to become "a spiritual sum of them all,"
and admits that this ideal of a "really representative body of men"
might be brought about under an extremely undemocratic franchise.[137]
"Outside of a parish or hamlet the Referendum," it says, "is impossible.
To an Empire it is fatal."[138] And finally, this Socialist organ is
perfectly ready to grant another fifty million pounds for the navy,
provided the money is drawn from the rich, as it finds that "a good,
thumping provision for an increased navy would do a great deal to
sweeten a drastic budget for the rich, as well as strengthen the appeal
of the party which professes to be advancing the cause of the poor."
Imperialism and militarism, which in most countries constitute the chief
form in which capitalism is being fought by Socialists, are actually
considered as of secondary importance, on the ground that through
acquiescing in them it becomes possible to hasten a few reforms, such as
have already been granted by the capitalists of several other countries
without any Socialist surrender and even without Socialist pressure of
any kind.

The recent appeal of the _New Age_, for "a hundred gentlemen of ability"
to save England, its regret that no truly intelligent and benevolent
"governing class" or "Platonic guardians" are to be found, and its
weekly disparagement of democracy do not offer much promise that it will
soon turn in the radical direction. On the contrary it predicts that the
firm possession of political power by the wealthy classes is foredoomed
to result, as in the Roman Empire, in the creation of two main classes,
each of which must become corrupt, "the one by wealth and the other by
poverty," and that finally the latter must become incapable of corporate
resistance. The familiar and scientifically demonstrated fact of the
physical and moral degeneration of a considerable part of the British
working people doubtless suggests to many persons such pessimistic
conclusions. "It is hopeless in our view," the _New Age_ concludes, "to
expect that the poor and ignorant, however desperate and however
numerous, will ever succeed in displacing their wealthy rulers. No slave
revolt in the history of the world has ever succeeded by its own power.
In these days, moreover, the chances of success are even smaller. One
machine gun is equal to a mob."[139]

Indeed the distrust of democracy is so universal among British
Socialists that Belloc, Chesterton and other Liberals accuse them
plausibly, but unjustly, of actually representing an aristocratic
standpoint. In an article entitled "Why I Am Not A Socialist," Mr.
Chesterton expresses a belief, which he says is almost unknown among the
Socialists of England, namely, a belief "in the masses of the common
people."[140] Mr. Belloc, in a debate against Bernard Shaw, predicted
that Socialism, if it comes in England, will probably be simply "another
of the infinite and perpetually renewed dodges of the English
aristocracy."

It may be well doubted if any of the more important of the world's
conservative, aristocratic, or reactionary forces (except the
doctrinaire Liberals) are opposed to Socialism as defined by the Fabian
Society, _i.e._ a gradual movement in the direction of collectivism. Not
only Czar and Kaiser but even the Catholic Church may be claimed as
Socialistic by this standard. Mr. Hubert Bland, one of the original
Fabian Essayists and a very influential member of the Society, himself a
Catholic, actually asserts that the Church never has attacked Fabian or
true Socialism. In view of the fact that the Church is at war with the
Socialist Parties of Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, the
United States, and every country where both the Church and the
Socialists are a political power, in view of the wholesale and most
explicit denunciations by Popes and high ecclesiastics, and the war
being waged against the Socialist Parties at every point, Mr. Eland's
argument has some interest.

Having defined Socialism as "the increase of State rights" and "the
tendency to limit the proprietary rights of the individual and to widen
the proprietary rights and activities of the community" or as the
"control of property by the State and municipality," Mr. Bland has, of
course, no difficulty in showing that the Catholic Church has never
opposed it--though many individualistic Catholics have done so.

"No fewer than two Popes," writes Mr. Bland, "are said to have condemned
Socialism in authoritative utterances, but when I examine and analyze
these condemnations, I find it is not Socialism in the sense I have
defined it here, that is condemned."[141] It is indeed true that few of
the most bitter and persistent enemies of the Socialist movement condemn
"Socialism" as defined by Mr.



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Keywords: england, catholic, rights, actually, liberal, wealthy, hobson, classes, concludes, democratic
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