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Proposed Roads To Freedom by Bertrand Russell

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organization. Life already shows in which direction the change
will be made. Not in increasing the powers of the State, but
in resorting to free organization and free federation in all those
branches which are now considered as attributes of the State.''
Kropotkin, ``Anarchist Communism,'' pp. 28-29.

Attractive as this view is, I cannot resist the
conclusion that it results from impatience and
represents the attempt to find a short-cut toward the
ideal which all humane people desire.

Let us begin with the question of private crime.[50]
Anarchists maintain that the criminal is manufactured
by bad social conditions and would disappear
in such a world as they aim at creating.[51] No doubt
there is a great measure of truth in this view. There
would be little motive to robbery, for example, in an
Anarchist world, unless it were organized on a large
scale by a body of men bent on upsetting the Anarchist
regime. It may also be conceded that impulses
toward criminal violence could be very largely eliminated
by a better education. But all such contentions,
it seems to me, have their limitations. To take
an extreme case, we cannot suppose that there would
be no lunatics in an Anarchist community, and some
of these lunatics would, no doubt, be homicidal.
Probably no one would argue that they ought to be
left at liberty. But there are no sharp lines in nature;
from the homicidal lunatic to the sane man
of violent passions there is a continuous gradation.
Even in the most perfect community there will be
men and women, otherwise sane, who will feel an
impulse to commit murder from jealousy. These are
now usually restrained by the fear of punishment,
but if this fear were removed, such murders would
probably become much more common, as may be
seen from the present behavior of certain soldiers
on leave. Moreover, certain kinds of conduct arouse
public hostility, and would almost inevitably lead to
lynching, if no other recognized method of punishment
existed. There is in most men a certain natural
vindictiveness, not always directed against the worst
members of the community. For example, Spinoza
was very nearly murdered by the mob because he was
suspected of undue friendliness to France at a time
when Holland was at war with that country. Apart
from such cases, there would be the very real danger
of an organized attempt to destroy Anarchism
and revive ancient oppressions. Is it to be supposed,
for example, that Napoleon, if he had been born into
such a community as Kropotkin advocates, would
have acquiesced tamely in a world where his genius
could find no scope? I cannot see what should prevent
a combination of ambitious men forming themselves
into a private army, manufacturing their own
munitions, and at last enslaving the defenseless citizens,
who had relied upon the inherent attractiveness
of liberty. It would not be consistent with the principles
of Anarchism for the community to interfere
with the drilling of a private army, no matter what
its objects might be (though, of course, an opposing
private army might be formed by men with different
views). Indeed, Kropotkin instances the old volunteers
in Great Britain as an example of a movement
on Anarchist lines.[52] Even if a predatory army were
not formed from within, it might easily come from a
neighboring nation, or from races on the borderland
of civilization. So long as the love of power exists,
I do not see how it can be prevented from finding an
outlet in oppression except by means of the organized
force of the community.

[50] On this subject there is an excellent discussion in the
before-mentioned work of Monsieur Naquet.

[51] ``As to the third--the chief--objection, which maintains
the necessity of a government for punishing those who break the
law of society, there is so much to say about it that it hardly can
be touched incidentally. The more we study the question, the
more we are brought to the conclusion that society itself is
responsible for the anti-social deeds perpetrated in its midst, and
that no punishment, no prisons, and no hangmen can diminish
the numbers of such deeds; nothing short of a reorganization of
society itself. Three-quarters of all the acts which are brought
every year before our courts have their origin, either directly or
indirectly, in the present disorganized state of society with
regard to the production and distribution of wealth--not in the
perversity of human nature. As to the relatively few anti-social
deeds which result from anti-social inclinations of separate
individuals, it is not by prisons, nor even by resorting to the
hangmen, that we can diminish their numbers. By our prisons,
we merely multiply them and render them worse. By our detectives,
our `price of blood,' our executions, and our jails, we
spread in society such a terrible flow of basest passions and
habits, that he who should realize the effects of these institutions
to their full extent, would be frightened by what society is
doing under the pretext of maintaining morality. We must
search for other remedies, and the remedies have been indicated
long since.'' Kropotkin, ``Anarchist Communism,'' pp. 31-32.

[52] ``Anarchist Communism,'' p. 27.

The conclusion, which appears to be forced upon
us, is that the Anarchist ideal of a community in
which no acts are forbidden by law is not, at any
rate for the present, compatible with the stability of
such a world as the Anarchists desire. In order to
obtain and preserve a world resembling as closely
as possible that at which they aim, it will still be
necessary that some acts should be forbidden by
law. We may put the chief of these under three

1. Theft.

2. Crimes of violence.

3. The creation of organizations intended to subvert
the Anarchist regime by force.

We will briefly recapitulate what has been said
already as to the necessity of these prohibitions.

1. Theft.--It is true that in an Anarchist world
there will be no destitution, and therefore no thefts
motivated by starvation. But such thefts are at present
by no means the most considerable or the most
harmful. The system of rationing, which is to be
applied to luxuries, will leave many men with fewer
luxuries than they might desire. It will give
opportunities for peculation by those who are in control
of the public stores, and it will leave the possibility of
appropriating such valuable objects of art as would
naturally be preserved in public museums. It may
be contended that such forms of theft would be prevented
by public opinion. But public opinion is not
greatly operative upon an individual unless it is the
opinion of his own group. A group of men combined
for purposes of theft might readily defy the public
opinion of the majority unless that public opinion
made itself effective by the use of force against them.
Probably, in fact, such force would be applied
through popular indignation, but in that case we
should revive the evils of the criminal law with the
added evils of uncertainty, haste and passion, which
are inseparable from the practice of lynching. If,
as we have suggested, it were found necessary to provide
an economic stimulus to work by allowing fewer
luxuries to idlers, this would afford a new motive for
theft on their part and a new necessity for some form
of criminal law.

2. Crimes of Violence.--Cruelty to children,
crimes of jealousy, rape, and so forth, are almost
certain to occur in any society to some extent. The
prevention of such acts is essential to the existence
of freedom for the weak. If nothing were done to
hinder them, it is to be feared that the customs of a
society would gradually become rougher, and that
acts which are now rare would cease to be so. If
Anarchists are right in maintaining that the existence
of such an economic system as they desire would
prevent the commission of crimes of this kind, the
laws forbidding them would no longer come into
operation, and would do no harm to liberty. If, on
the other hand, the impulse to such actions persisted,
it would be necessary that steps should be taken to
restrain men from indulging it.

3. The third class of difficulties is much the most
serious and involves much the most drastic interference
with liberty. I do not see how a private army
could be tolerated within an Anarchist community,
and I do not see how it could be prevented except by
a general prohibition of carrying arms. If there
were no such prohibition, rival parties would organize
rival forces, and civil war would result. Yet, if there
is such a prohibition, it cannot well be carried out
without a very considerable interference with individual
liberty. No doubt, after a time, the idea of
using violence to achieve a political object might die
down, as the practice of duelling has done. But such
changes of habit and outlook are facilitated by legal
prohibition, and would hardly come about without
it. I shall not speak yet of the international aspect
of this same problem, for I propose to deal with that
in the next chapter, but it is clear that the same
considerations apply with even greater force to the
relations between nations.

If we admit, however reluctantly, that a criminal
law is necessary and that the force of the community
must be brought to bear to prevent certain kinds of
actions, a further question arises: How is crime to be
treated? What is the greatest measure of humanity
and respect for freedom that is compatible with the
recognition of such a thing as crime? The first thing
to recognize is that the whole conception of guilt or
sin should be utterly swept away. At present, the
criminal is visited with the displeasure of the community:
the sole method applied to prevent the occurrence
of crime is the infliction of pain upon the
criminal. Everything possible is done to break his
spirit and destroy his self-respect. Even those
pleasures which would be most likely to have a civilizing
effect are forbidden to him, merely on the ground
that they are pleasures, while much of the suffering
inflicted is of a kind which can only brutalize and
degrade still further. I am not speaking, of course,
of those few penal institutions which have made a
serious study of reforming the criminal. Such
institutions, especially in America, have been proved
capable of achieving the most remarkable results, but
they remain everywhere exceptional. The broad rule
is still that the criminal is made to feel the displeasure
of society. He must emerge from such a treatment
either defiant and hostile, or submissive and cringing,
with a broken spirit and a loss of self-respect.
Neither of these results is anything but evil. Nor
can any good result be achieved by a method of treatment
which embodies reprobation.

When a man is suffering from an infectious disease
he is a danger to the community, and it is necessary
to restrict his liberty of movement. But no one
associates any idea of guilt with such a situation.
On the contrary, he is an object of commiseration to
his friends. Such steps as science recommends are
taken to cure him of his disease, and he submits as
a rule without reluctance to the curtailment of liberty
involved meanwhile. The same method in spirit ought
to be shown in the treatment of what is called
``crime.'' It is supposed, of course, that the criminal
is actuated by calculations of self-interest, and
that the fear of punishment, by supplying a contrary
motive of self-interest affords the best deterrent,
The dog, to gain some private end,
Went mad and bit the man.

This is the popular view of crime; yet no dog goes
mad from choice, and probably the same is true of the
great majority of criminals, certainly in the case
of crimes of passion. Even in cases where self-interest
is the motive, the important thing is to prevent
the crime, not to make the criminal suffer. Any
suffering which may be entailed by the process of
prevention ought to be regarded as regrettable, like the
pain involved in a surgical operation. The man who
commits a crime from an impulse to violence ought
to be subjected to a scientific psychological treatment,
designed to elicit more beneficial impulses. The
man who commits a crime from calculations of self-
interest ought to be made to feel that self-interest
itself, when it is fully understood, can be better served
by a life which is useful to the community than by one
which is harmful. For this purpose it is chiefly necessary
to widen his outlook and increase the scope of his
desires. At present, when a man suffers from insufficient
love for his fellow-creatures, the method of
curing him which is commonly adopted seems scarcely
designed to succeed, being, indeed, in essentials, the
same as his attitude toward them. The object of
the prison administration is to save trouble, not to
study the individual case. He is kept in captivity in
a cell from which all sight of the earth is shut out: he
is subjected to harshness by warders, who have too
often become brutalized by their occupation.[53] He is
solemnly denounced as an enemy to society. He is
compelled to perform mechanical tasks, chosen for
their wearisomeness. He is given no education and no
incentive to self-improvement. Is it to be wondered
at if, at the end of such a course of treatment, his
feelings toward the community are no more friendly
than they were at the beginning?

[53] This was written before the author had any personal
experience of the prison system. He personally met with
nothing but kindness at the hands of the prison officials.

Severity of punishment arose through vindictiveness
and fear in an age when many criminals escaped
justice altogether, and it was hoped that savage
sentences would outweigh the chance of escape in the
mind of the criminal. At present a very large part
of the criminal law is concerned in safeguarding the
rights of property, that is to say--as things are
now--the unjust privileges of the rich. Those whose
principles lead them into conflict with government,
like Anarchists, bring a most formidable indictment
against the law and the authorities for the unjust
manner in which they support the status quo. Many
of the actions by which men have become rich are far
more harmful to the community than the obscure
crimes of poor men, yet they go unpunished because
they do not interfere with the existing order. If the
power of the community is to be brought to bear to
prevent certain classes of actions through the agency
of the criminal law, it is as necessary that these
actions should really be those which are harmful to
the community, as it is that the treatment of ``criminals''
should be freed from the conception of guilt
and inspired by the same spirit as is shown in the
treatment of disease. But, if these two conditions
were fulfilled, I cannot help thinking that a society
which preserved the existence of law would be preferable
to one conducted on the unadulterated principles
of Anarchism.

So far we have been considering the power which
the State derives from the criminal law. We have
every reason to think that this power cannot be
entirely abolished, though it can be exercised in a
wholly different spirit, without the vindictiveness and
the moral reprobation which now form its essence.

We come next to the consideration of the economic
power of the State and the influence which it
can exert through its bureaucracy. State Socialists
argue as if there would be no danger to liberty in a
State not based upon capitalism. This seems to me an
entire delusion. Given an official caste, however selected,
there are bound to be a set of men whose whole
instincts will drive them toward tyranny. Together
with the natural love of power, they will have a rooted
conviction (visible now in the higher ranks of the
Civil Service) that they alone know enough to be able
to judge what is for the good of the community. Like
all men who administer a system, they will come to
feel the system itself sacrosanct. The only changes
they will desire will be changes in the direction of
further regulations as to how the people are to
enjoy the good things kindly granted to them by their
benevolent despots. Whoever thinks this picture overdrawn
must have failed to study the influence and
methods of Civil Servants at present. On every matter
that arises, they know far more than the general
public about all the DEFINITE facts involved; the one
thing they do not know is ``where the shoe pinches.''
But those who know this are probably not skilled in
stating their case, not able to say off-hand exactly
how many shoes are pinching how many feet, or what
is the precise remedy required. The answer prepared
for Ministers by the Civil Service is accepted by the
``respectable'' public as impartial, and is regarded
as disposing of the case of malcontents except on a
first-class political question on which elections may
be won or lost. That at least is the way in which
things are managed in England. And there is every
reason to fear that under State Socialism the power
of officials would be vastly greater than it is at

Those who accept the orthodox doctrine of democracy
contend that, if ever the power of capital were
removed, representative institutions would suffice to
undo the evils threatened by bureaucracy. Against
this view, Anarchists and Syndicalists have directed
a merciless criticism. French Syndicalists especially,
living, as they do, in a highly democratized country,
have had bitter experience of the way in which the
power of the State can be employed against a
progressive minority. This experience has led them to
abandon altogether the belief in the divine right of
majorities. The Constitution that they would desire
would be one which allowed scope for vigorous minorities,
conscious of their aims and prepared to work
for them. It is undeniable that, to all who care for
progress, actual experience of democratic representative
Government is very disillusioning. Admitting--
as I think we must--that it is preferable to any
PREVIOUS form of Government, we must yet acknowledge
that much of the criticism directed against it by
Anarchists and Syndicalists is thoroughly justified.

Such criticism would have had more influence if
any clear idea of an alternative to parliamentary
democracy had been generally apprehended. But it
must be confessed that Syndicalists have not presented
their case in a way which is likely to attract
the average citizen. Much of what they say amounts
to this: that a minority, consisting of skilled workers
in vital industries, can, by a strike, make the economic
life of the whole community impossible, and can in
this way force their will upon the nation. The action
aimed at is compared to the seizure of a power
station, by which a whole vast system can be paralyzed.
Such a doctrine is an appeal to force, and
is naturally met by an appeal to force on the other
side. It is useless for the Syndicalists to protest that
they only desire power in order to promote liberty:
the world which they are seeking to establish does not,
as yet, appeal to the effective will of the community,
and cannot be stably inaugurated until it does do so.
Persuasion is a slow process, and may sometimes
be accelerated by violent methods; to this extent such
methods may be justified. But the ultimate goal of
any reformer who aims at liberty can only be reached
through persuasion. The attempt to thrust liberty
by force upon those who do not desire what we consider
liberty must always prove a failure; and Syndicalists,
like other reformers, must ultimately rely
upon persuasion for success.

But it would be a mistake to confuse aims with
methods: however little we may agree with the proposal
to force the millennium on a reluctant community
by starvation, we may yet agree that much of
what the Syndicalists desire to achieve is desirable.

Let us dismiss from our minds such criticisms of
parliamentary government as are bound up with the
present system of private property, and consider
only those which would remain true in a collectivist
community. Certain defects seem inherent in the
very nature of representative institutions. There is
a sense of self-importance, inseparable from success
in a contest for popular favor. There is an all-but
unavoidable habit of hypocrisy, since experience
shows that the democracy does not detect insincerity
in an orator, and will, on the other hand, be shocked
by things which even the most sincere men may think
necessary. Hence arises a tone of cynicism among
elected representatives, and a feeling that no man
can retain his position in politics without deceit.
This is as much the fault of the democracy as of the
representatives, but it seems unavoidable so long as
the main thing that all bodies of men demand of their
champions is flattery. However the blame may be
apportioned, the evil must be recognized as one which
is bound to occur in the existing forms of democracy.
Another evil, which is especially noticeable in large
States, is the remoteness of the seat of government
from many of the constituencies--a remoteness which
is psychological even more than geographical. The
legislators live in comfort, protected by thick walls
and innumerable policemen from the voice of the
mob; as time goes on they remember only dimly the
passions and promises of their electoral campaign;
they come to feel it an essential part of statesmanship
to consider what are called the interests of the community
as a whole, rather than those of some discontented
group; but the interests of the community as
a whole are sufficiently vague to be easily seen to
coincide with self-interest. All these causes lead
Parliaments to betray the people, consciously or
unconsciously; and it is no wonder if they have produced
a certain aloofness from democratic theory in the
more vigorous champions of labor.

Majority rule, as it exists in large States, is
subject to the fatal defect that, in a very great number
of questions, only a fraction of the nation have
any direct interest or knowledge, yet the others have
an equal voice in their settlement. When people have
no direct interest in a question they are very apt
to be influenced by irrelevant considerations; this is
shown in the extraordinary reluctance to grant autonomy
to subordinate nations or groups. For this
reason, it is very dangerous to allow the nation as a
whole to decide on matters which concern only a small
section, whether that section be geographical or
industrial or defined in any other way. The best
cure for this evil, so far as can be seen at present,
lies in allowing self-government to every important
group within a nation in all matters that affect that
group much more than they affect the rest of the
community. The government of a group, chosen by
the group, will be far more in touch with its constituents,
far more conscious of their interests, than a
remote Parliament nominally representing the whole
country. The most original idea in Syndicalism--
adopted and developed by the Guild Socialists--is the
idea of making industries self-governing units so far
as their internal affairs are concerned. By this
method, extended also to such other groups as have
clearly separable interests, the evils which have shown
themselves in representative democracy can, I believe,
be largely overcome.

Guild Socialists, as we have seen, have another
suggestion, growing naturally out of the autonomy
of industrial guilds, by which they hope to limit the
power of the State and help to preserve individual
liberty. They propose that, in addition to Parliament,
elected (as at present) on a territorial basis
and representing the community as consumers, there
shall also be a ``Guild Congress,'' a glorified successor
of the present Trade Union Congress, which
shall consist of representatives chosen by the Guilds,
and shall represent the community as producers.

This method of diminishing the excessive power
of the State has been attractively set forth by Mr.
G. D. H. Cole in his ``Self-Government in Industry.''[54]
``Where now,'' he says, ``the State passes a Factory
Act, or a Coal Mines Regulation Act, the Guild Congress
of the future will pass such Acts, and its power
of enforcing them will be the same as that of the
State'' (p. 98). His ultimate ground for advocating
this system is that, in his opinion, it will tend to preserve
individual liberty: ``The fundamental reason
for the preservation, in a democratic Society, of both
the industrial and the political forms of Social organization
is, it seems to me, that only by dividing the
vast power now wielded by industrial capitalism can
the individual hope to be free'' (p. 91).

[54] Bell, 1917.

Will the system suggested by Mr. Cole have this
result? I think it is clear that it would, in this
respect, be an improvement on the existing system.
Representative government cannot but be improved
by any method which brings the representatives into
closer touch with the interests concerned in their
legislation; and this advantage probably would be
secured by handing over questions of production to
the Guild Congress. But if, in spite of the safeguards
proposed by the Guild Socialists, the Guild Congress
became all-powerful in such questions, if resistance
to its will by a Guild which felt ill-used became practically
hopeless, I fear that the evils now connected
with the omnipotence of the State would soon reappear.
Trade Union officials, as soon as they become
part of the governing forces in the country, tend to
become autocratic and conservative; they lose touch
with their constituents and gravitate, by a psychological
sympathy, into co-operation with the powers
that be. Their formal installation in authority
through the Guilds Congress would accelerate this
process. They would soon tend to combine, in effect
if not obviously, with those who wield authority in
Parliament. Apart from occasional conflicts, comparable
to the rivalry of opposing financiers which
now sometimes disturbs the harmony of the capitalist
world, there would, at most times, be agreement
between the dominant personalities in the two
Houses. And such harmony would filch away from
the individual the liberty which he had hoped to
secure by the quarrels of his masters.

There is no method, if we are not mistaken, by
which a body representing the whole community,
whether as producers or consumers or both, can
alone be a sufficient guardian of individual liberty.
The only way of preserving sufficient liberty (and
even this will be inadequate in the case of very small
minorities) is the organization of citizens with special
interests into groups, determined to preserve autonomy
as regards their internal affairs, willing to
resist interference by a strike if necessary, and
sufficiently powerful (either in themselves or through
their power of appealing to public sympathy) to be
able to resist the organized forces of government
successfully when their cause is such as many men
think just. If this method is to be successful we
must have not only suitable organizations but also
a diffused respect for liberty, and an absence of
submissiveness to government both in theory and practice.
Some risk of disorder there must be in such a
society, but this risk is as nothing compared to the
danger of stagnation which is inseparable from an
all-powerful central authority.

We may now sum up our discussion of the powers
of Government.

The State, in spite of what Anarchists urge, seems
a necessary institution for certain purposes. Peace
and war, tariffs, regulation of sanitary conditions
and of the sale of noxious drugs, the preservation of
a just system of distribution: these, among others,
are functions which could hardly be performed in
a community in which there was no central government.
Take, for example, the liquor traffic, or
the opium traffic in China. If alcohol could be
obtained at cost price without taxation, still more
if it could be obtained for nothing, as Anarchists
presumably desire, can we believe that there would not
be a great and disastrous increase of drunkenness?
China was brought to the verge of ruin by opium,
and every patriotic Chinaman desired to see the traffic
in opium restricted. In such matters freedom is
not a panacea, and some degree of legal restriction
seems imperative for the national health.

But granting that the State, in some form, must
continue, we must also grant, I think, that its powers
ought to be very strictly limited to what is absolutely
necessary. There is no way of limiting its
powers except by means of groups which are jealous
of their privileges and determined to preserve their
autonomy, even if this should involve resistance to
laws decreed by the State, when these laws interfere in
the internal affairs of a group in ways not warranted
by the public interest. The glorification of the State,
and the doctrine that it is every citizen's duty to serve
the State, are radically against progress and against
liberty. The State, though at present a source of
much evil, is also a means to certain good things,
and will be needed so long as violent and destructive
impulses remain common. But it is MERELY a means,
and a means which needs to be very carefully and
sparingly used if it is not to do more harm than good.
It is not the State, but the community, the worldwide
community of all human beings present and
future, that we ought to serve. And a good community
does not spring from the glory of the State,
but from the unfettered development of individuals:
from happiness in daily life, from congenial work
giving opportunity for whatever constructiveness
each man or woman may possess, from free personal
relations embodying love and taking away the roots
of envy in thwarted capacity from affection, and
above all from the joy of life and its expression in
the spontaneous creations of art and science. It is
these things that make an age or a nation worthy
of existence, and these things are not to be secured
by bowing down before the State. It is the individual
in whom all that is good must be realized, and the
free growth of the individual must be the supreme end
of a political system which is to re-fashion the world.



THE main objects which should be served by international
relations may be taken to be two: First, the
avoidance of wars, and, second, the prevention of the
oppression of weak nations by strong ones. These
two objects do not by any means necessarily lead in
the same direction, since one of the easiest ways of
securing the world's peace would be by a combination
of the most powerful States for the exploitation and
oppression of the remainder. This method, however,
is not one which the lover of liberty can favor. We
must keep account of both aims and not be content
with either alone.

One of the commonplaces of both Socialism and
Anarchism is that all modern wars are due to capitalism,
and would cease if capitalism were abolished.
This view, to my mind, is only a half-truth; the half
that is true is important, but the half that is untrue
is perhaps equally important when a fundamental
reconstruction of society is being considered.

Socialist and Anarchist critics of existing society
point, with perfect truth, to certain capitalistic factors
which promote war. The first of these is the
desire of finance to find new fields of investment in
undeveloped countries. Mr. J. A. Hobson, an author
who is by no means extreme in his views, has well
stated this point in his book on ``The Evolution of
Modern Capitalism.''[55] He says:

[55] Walter Scott Publishing Company, 1906, p. 262.

The economic tap-root, the chief directing motive of
all the modern imperialistic expansion, is the pressure of
capitalist industries for markets, primarily markets for
investment, secondarily markets for surplus products of
home industry. Where the concentration of capital has
gone furthest, and where a rigorous protective system prevails,
this pressure is necessarily strongest. Not merely
do the trusts and other manufacturing trades that restrict
their output for the home market more urgently require
foreign markets, but they are also more anxious to secure
protected markets, and this can only be achieved by extending
the area of political rule. This is the essential
significance of the recent change in American foreign
policy as illustrated by the Spanish War, the Philippine
annexation, the Panama policy, and the new application
of the Monroe doctrine to the South American States.
South America is needed as a preferential market for
investment of trust ``profits'' and surplus trust products:
if in time these states can be brought within a Zollverein
under the suzerainty of the United States, the financial
area of operations receives a notable accession. China
as a field of railway enterprise and general industrial
development already begins to loom large in the eyes of
foresighted American business men; the growing trade
in American cotton and other goods in that country will
be a subordinate consideration to the expansion of the
area for American investments. Diplomatic pressure,
armed force, and, where desirable, seizure of territory for
political control, will be engineered by the financial magnates
who control the political destiny of America. The
strong and expensive American navy now beginning to
be built incidentally serves the purpose of affording
profitable contracts to the shipbuilding and metal industries:
its real meaning and use is to forward the aggressive
political policy imposed upon the nation by the economic
needs of the financial capitalists.

It should be clearly understood that this constant
pressure to extend the area of markets is not a necessary
implication of all forms of organized industry. If competition
was displaced by combinations of a genuinely
cooperative character in which the whole gain of improved
economies passed, either to the workers in wages,
or to large bodies of investors in dividends, the expansion
of demand in the home markets would be so great
as to give full employment to the productive powers of
concentrated capital, and there would be no self-accumulating
masses of profit expressing themselves in new
credit and demanding external employment. It is the
``monopoly'' profits of trusts and combines, taken either
in construction, financial operation, or industrial working,
that form a gathering fund of self-accumulating credit
whose possession by the financial class implies a contracted
demand for commodities and a correspondingly
restricted employment for capital in American industries.
Within certain limits relief can be found by stimulation
of the export trade under cover of a high protective
tariff which forbids all interference with monopoly of
the home markets. But it is extremely difficult for
trusts adapted to the requirements of a profitable tied
market at home to adjust their methods of free competition
in the world markets upon a profitable basis of
steady trading. Moreover, such a mode of expansion is
only appropriate to certain manufacturing trusts: the
owners of railroad, financial and other trusts must look
always more to foreign investments for their surplus
profits. This ever-growing need for fresh fields of investment
for their profits is the great crux of the financial
system, and threatens to dominate the future economics
and the politics of the great Republic.

The financial economy of American capitalism exhibits
in more dramatic shape a tendency common to the
finance of all developed industrial nations. The large,
easy flow of capital from Great Britain, Germany, Austria,
France, etc., into South African or Australian mines,
into Egyptian bonds, or the precarious securities of South
American republics, attests the same general pressure
which increases with every development of financial machinery
and the more profitable control of that machinery
by the class of professional financiers

The kind of way in which such conditions tend
toward war might have been illustrated, if Mr. Hobson
had been writing at a later date, by various more
recent cases. A higher rate of interest is obtainable
on enterprises in an undeveloped country than in a
developed one, provided the risks connected with an
unsettled government can be minimized. To minimize
these risks the financiers call in the assistance of the
military and naval forces of the country which they
are momentarily asserting to be theirs. In order to
have the support of public opinion in this demand
they have recourse to the power of the Press.

The Press is the second great factor to which
critics of capitalism point when they wish to prove
that capitalism is the source of modern war. Since
the running of a big newspaper requires a large capital,
the proprietors of important organs necessarily
belong to the capitalist class, and it will be a rare
and exceptional event if they do not sympathize with
their own class in opinion and outlook. They are
able to decide what news the great mass of newspaper
readers shall be allowed to have. They can
actually falsify the news, or, without going so far
as that, they can carefully select it, giving such items
as will stimulate the passions which they desire to
stimulate, and suppressing such items as would provide
the antidote. In this way the picture of the
world in the mind of the average newspaper reader
is made to be not a true picture, but in the main
that which suits the interests of capitalists. This is
true in many directions, but above all in what con-
cerns the relations between nations. The mass of the
population of a country can be led to love or hate
any other country at the will of the newspaper proprietors,
which is often, directly or indirectly, influenced
by the will of the great financiers. So long as
enmity between England and Russia was desired,
our newspapers were full of the cruel treatment meted
out to Russian political prisoners, the oppression of
Finland and Russian Poland, and other such topics.
As soon as our foreign policy changed, these items
disappeared from the more important newspapers,
and we heard instead of the misdeeds of Germany.
Most men are not sufficiently critical to be on their
guard against such influences, and until they are, the
power of the Press will remain.

Besides these two influences of capitalism in
promoting war, there is another, much less emphasized
by the critics of capitalism, but by no means less
important: I mean the pugnacity which tends to be
developed in men who have the habit of command.
So long as capitalist society persists, an undue measure
of power will be in the hands of those who have
acquired wealth and influence through a great position
in industry or finance. Such men are in the
habit, in private life, of finding their will seldom
questioned; they are surrounded by obsequious satellites
and are not infrequently engaged in conflicts
with Trade Unions. Among their friends and
acquaintances are included those who hold high positions
in government or administration, and these men
equally are liable to become autocratic through the
habit of giving orders. It used to be customary to
speak of the ``governing classes,'' but nominal democracy
has caused this phrase to go out of fashion.
Nevertheless, it still retains much truth; there are
still in any capitalist community those who command
and those who as a rule obey. The outlook of these
two classes is very different, though in a modern
society there is a continuous gradation from the extreme
of the one to the extreme of the other. The
man who is accustomed to find submission to his will
becomes indignant on the occasions when he finds
opposition. Instinctively he is convinced that opposition
is wicked and must be crushed. He is therefore
much more willing than the average citizen to resort
to war against his rivals. Accordingly we find,
though, of course, with very notable exceptions,
that in the main those who have most power are
most warlike, and those who have least power are
least disposed to hatred of foreign nations. This is
one of the evils inseparable from the concentration
of power. It will only be cured by the abolition of
capitalism if the new system is one which allows very
much less power to single individuals. It will not be
cured by a system which substitutes the power of
Ministers or officials for the power of capitalists
This is one reason, additional to those mentioned in
the preceding chapter, for desiring to see a diminution
in the authority of the State.

Not only does the concentration of power tend
to cause wars, but, equally, wars and the fear of them
bring about the necessity for the concentration of
power. So long as the community is exposed to
sudden dangers, the possibility of quick decision is
absolutely necessary to self-preservation. The cumbrous
machinery of deliberative decisions by the
people is impossible in a crisis, and therefore so long
as crises are likely to occur, it is impossible to abolish
the almost autocratic power of governments. In this
case, as in most others, each of two correlative evils
tends to perpetuate the other. The existence of men
with the habit of power increases the risk of war,
and the risk of war makes it impossible to establish
a system where no man possesses great power.

So far we have been considering what is true in
the contention that capitalism causes modern wars.
It is time now to look at the other side, and to ask
ourselves whether the abolition of capitalism would,
by itself, be sufficient to prevent war.

I do not myself believe that this is the case. The
outlook of both Socialists and Anarchists seems to
me, in this respect as in some others, to be unduly
divorced from the fundamental instincts of human
nature. There were wars before there was capital-
ism, and fighting is habitual among animals. The
power of the Press in promoting war is entirely due
to the fact that it is able to appeal to certain
instincts. Man is naturally competitive, acquisitive,
and, in a greater or less degree, pugnacious. When
the Press tells him that so-and-so is his enemy, a whole
set of instincts in him responds to the suggestion. It
is natural to most men to suppose that they have
enemies and to find a certain fulfillment of their nature
when they embark upon a contest. What a man
believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index
to his desires--desires of which he himself is often
unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes
against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and
unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to
believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something
which affords a reason for acting in accordance
with his instincts, he will accept it even on the slenderest
evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this
way, and much of what is currently believed in
international affairs is no better than myth. Although
capitalism affords in modern society the channel by
which the instinct of pugnacity finds its outlet, there
is reason to fear that, if this channel were closed,
some other would be found, unless education and
environment were so changed as enormously to diminish
the strength of the competitive instinct. If an
economic reorganization can effect this it may pro-
vide a real safeguard against war, but if not, it is
to be feared that the hopes of universal peace will
prove delusive.

The abolition of capitalism might, and very likely
would, greatly diminish the incentives to war which
are derived from the Press and from the desire of
finance to find new fields for investment in undeveloped
countries, but those which are derived from the
instinct of command and the impatience of opposition
might remain, though perhaps in a less virulent
form than at present. A democracy which has power
is almost always more bellicose than one which is
excluded from its due share in the government. The
internationalism of Marx is based upon the assumption
that the proletariat everywhere are oppressed by
the ruling classes. The last words of the Communist
Manifesto embody this idea--

Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic
revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but
their chains. They have a world to win. Working men
of all countries, unite!

So long as the proletarians have nothing to lose
but their chains, it is not likely that their enmity
will be directed against other proletarians. If the
world had developed as Marx expected, the kind of
internationalism which he foresaw might have inspired
a universal social revolution. Russia, which devel-
oped more nearly than any other country upon the
lines of his system, has had a revolution of the kind
which he expected. If the development in other countries
had been similar, it is highly probable that this
revolution would have spread throughout the civilized
world. The proletariat of all countries might have
united against the capitalists as their common
enemy, and in the bond of an identical hatred they
might for the moment have been free from hatred
toward each other. Even then, this ground of union
would have ceased with their victory, and on the morrow
of the social revolution the old national rivalries
might have revived. There is no alchemy by which
a universal harmony can be produced out of hatred.
Those who have been inspired to action by the doctrine
of the class war will have acquired the habit
of hatred, and will instinctively seek new enemies
when the old ones have been vanquished.

But in actual fact the psychology of the working
man in any of the Western democracies is totally
unlike that which is assumed in the Communist
Manifesto. He does not by any means feel that he
has nothing to lose but his chains, nor indeed is this
true. The chains which bind Asia and Africa in
subjection to Europe are partly riveted by him. He is
himself part of a great system of tyranny and
exploitation. Universal freedom would remove, not only
his own chains, which are comparatively light, but
the far heavier chains which he has helped to fasten
upon the subject races of the world.

Not only do the working men of a country like
England have a share in the benefit accruing from the
exploitation of inferior races, but many among them
also have their part in the capitalist system. The
funds of Trade Unions and Friendly Societies are
invested in ordinary undertakings, such as railways;
many of the better-paid wage-earners have put their
savings into government securities; and almost all
who are politically active feel themselves part of the
forces that determine public policy, through the
power of the Labor Party and the greater unions.
Owing to these causes their outlook on life has become
to a considerable extent impregnated with capitalism
and as their sense of power has grown, their
nationalism has increased. This must continue to
be true of any internationalism which is based upon
hatred of the capitalist and adherence to the doctrine
of the class war. Something more positive
and constructive than this is needed if governing
democracies are not to inherit the vices of governing
classes in the past.

I do not wish to be thought to deny that capitalism
does very much to promote wars, or that wars
would probably be less frequent and less destructive
if private property were abolished. On the contrary,
I believe that the abolition of private ownership of
land and capital is a necessary step toward any
world in which the nations are to live at peace with
one another. I am only arguing that this step, necessary
as it is, will not alone suffice for this end, but that
among the causes of war there are others that go
deeper into the roots of human nature than any that
orthodox Socialists are wont to acknowledge.

Let us take an instance. In Australia and California
there is an intense dislike and fear toward the
yellow races. The causes of this are complex; the
chief among them are two, labor competition and
instinctive race-hatred. It is probable that, if race-
hatred did not exist, the difficulties of labor competition
could be overcome. European immigrants also
compete, but they are not excluded. In a sparsely
populated country, industrious cheap labor could,
with a little care, be so utilized as to enrich the existing
inhabitants; it might, for example, be confined to
certain kinds of work, by custom if not by law. But
race-hatred opens men's minds to the evils of
competition and closes them against the advantages of
co-operation; it makes them regard with horror the
somewhat unfamiliar vices of the aliens, while our
own vices are viewed with mild toleration. I cannot
but think that, if Australia were completely socialized,
there would still remain the same popular objection
as at present to any large influx of Chinese or
Japanese labor. Yet if Japan also were to become a
Socialist State, the Japanese might well continue to
feel the pressure of population and the desire for an
outlet. In such circumstances, all the passions and
interests required to produce a war would exist, in
spite of the establishment of Socialism in both countries.
Ants are as completely Socialistic as any community
can possibly be, yet they put to death any
ant which strays among them by mistake from a
neighboring ant-heap. Men do not differ much from
ants, as regards their instincts in this respect, where-
ever there is a great divergence of race, as between
white men and yellow men. Of course the instinct of
race-hostility can be overcome by suitable circumstances;
but in the absence of such circumstances it
remains a formidable menace to the world's peace.

If the peace of the world is ever to become secure,
I believe there will have to be, along with other
changes, a development of the idea which inspires the
project of a League of Nations. As time goes on, the
destructiveness of war grows greater and its profits
grow less: the rational argument against war acquires
more and more force as the increasing productivity
of labor makes it possible to devote a greater
and greater proportion of the population to the work
of mutual slaughter. In quiet times, or when a great
war has just ended, men's moods are amenable to
the rational grounds in favor of peace, and it is
possible to inaugurate schemes designed to make wars
less frequent. Probably no civilized nation would
embark upon an aggressive war if it were fairly
certain in advance that the aggressor must be defeated.
This could be achieved if most great nations
came to regard the peace of the world as of such
importance that they would side against an aggressor
even in a quarrel in which they had no direct interest.
It is on this hope that the League of Nations is based.

But the League of Nations, like the abolition of
private property, will be by no means sufficient if it
is not accompanied or quickly followed by other
reforms. It is clear that such reforms, if they are
to be effective, must be international; the world must
move as a whole in these matters, if it is to move at
all. One of the most obvious necessities, if peace is to
be secure, is a measure of disarmament. So long as
the present vast armies and navies exist, no system
can prevent the risk of war. But disarmament, if it
is to serve its purpose, must be simultaneous and by
mutual agreement among all the Great Powers. And
it is not likely to be successful so long as hatred and
suspicion rule between nations, for each nation will
suspect its neighbor of not carrying out the bargain
fairly. A different mental and moral atmosphere
from that to which we are accustomed in international
affairs will be necessary if agreements between nations
are to succeed in averting catastrophes. If once such
an atmosphere existed it might be perpetuated and
strengthened by wise institutions; but it cannot be
CREATED by institutions alone. International co-operation
requires mutual good will, and good will, however
it has arisen, is only to be PRESERVED by co-operation.
The international future depends upon the possibility
of the initial creation of good will between nations.

It is in this sort of matter that revolutions are
most useful. If the Russian Revolution had been
accompanied by a revolution in Germany, the dramatic
suddenness of the change might have shaken
Europe, for the moment, out of its habits of thought:
the idea of fraternity might have seemed, in the
twinkling of an eye, to have entered the world of
practical politics; and no idea is so practical as the
idea of the brotherhood of man, if only people can be
startled into believing in it. If once the idea of
fraternity between nations were inaugurated with the
faith and vigor belonging to a new revolution, all the
difficulties surrounding it would melt away, for all
of them are due to suspicion and the tyranny of
ancient prejudice. Those who (as is common in the
English-speaking world) reject revolution as a
method, and praise the gradual piecemeal development
which (we are told) constitutes solid progress,
overlook the effect of dramatic events in changing
the mood and the beliefs of whole populations. A
simultaneous revolution in Germany and Russia
would no doubt have had such an effect, and would
have made the creation of a new world possible here
and now.

Dis aliter visum: the millennium is not for our
time. The great moment has passed, and for ourselves
it is again the distant hope that must inspire
us, not the immediate breathless looking for the
deliverance.[56] But we have seen what might have been,
and we know that great possibilities do arise in times
of crisis. In some such sense as this, it may well
be true that the Socialist revolution is the road to
universal peace, and that when it has been traversed
all the other conditions for the cessation of
wars will grow of themselves out of the changed
mental and moral atmosphere.

[56] This was written in March, 1918, almost the darkest
moment of the war.

There is a certain class of difficulties which surrounds
the sober idealist in all speculations about the
not too distant future. These are the cases where
the solution believed by most idealists to be universally
applicable is for some reason impossible, and is,
at the same time, objected to for base or interested
motives by all upholders of existing inequalities. The
case of Tropical Africa will illustrate what I mean.
It would be difficult seriously to advocate the immediate
introduction of parliamentary government for
the natives of this part of the world, even if it were
accompanied by women's suffrage and proportional
representation. So far as I know, no one supposes
the populations of these regions capable of self-
determination, except Mr. Lloyd George. There can
be no doubt that, whatever regime may be introduced
in Europe, African negroes will for a long time to
come be governed and exploited by Europeans. If
the European States became Socialistic, and refused,
under a Quixotic impulse, to enrich themselves at the
expense of the defenseless inhabitants of Africa,
those inhabitants would not thereby gain; on the
contrary, they would lose, for they would be handed
over to the tender mercies of individual traders,
operating with armies of reprobate bravos, and committing
every atrocity to which the civilized barbarian
is prone. The European governments cannot divest
themselves of responsibility in regard to Africa.
They must govern there, and the best that can be
hoped is that they should govern with a minimum
of cruelty and rapacity. From the point of view of
preserving the peace of the world, the problem is to
parcel out the advantages which white men derive
from their position in Africa in such a way that no
nation shall feel a sense of injustice. This problem
is comparatively simple, and might no doubt be solved
on the lines of the war aims of the Inter-Allied Socialists.
But it is not this problem which I wish to discuss.
What I wish to consider is, how could a Socialist
or an Anarchist community govern and administer
an African region, full of natural wealth, but
inhabited by a quite uncivilized population? Unless
great precautions were taken the white community,
under the circumstances, would acquire the
position and the instincts of a slave-owner. It
would tend to keep the negroes down to the bare level
of subsistence, while using the produce of their
country to increase the comfort and splendor of the
Communist community. It would do this with that
careful unconsciousness which now characterizes all
the worst acts of nations. Administrators would be
appointed and would be expected to keep silence as
to their methods. Busybodies who reported horrors
would be disbelieved, and would be said to be actuated
by hatred toward the existing regime and by a perverse
love for every country but their own. No doubt,
in the first generous enthusiasm accompanying the
establishment of the new regime at home, there would
be every intention of making the natives happy, but
gradually they would be forgotten, and only the
tribute coming from their country would be
remembered. I do not say that all these evils are
unavoidable; I say only that they will not be avoided
unless they are foreseen and a deliberate conscious
effort is made to prevent their realization. If the
white communities should ever reach the point of
wishing to carry out as far as possible the principles
underlying the revolt against capitalism, they will
have to find a way of establishing an absolute
disinterestedness in their dealings with subject races. It
will be necessary to avoid the faintest suggestion of
capitalistic profit in the government of Africa, and
to spend in the countries themselves whatever they
would be able to spend if they were self-governing.
Moreover, it must always be remembered that backwardness
in civilization is not necessarily incurable,
and that with time even the populations of Central
Africa may become capable of democratic self-government,
provided Europeans bend their energies to
this purpose.

The problem of Africa is, of course, a part of the
wider problems of Imperialism, but it is that part in
which the application of Socialist principles is most
difficult. In regard to Asia, and more particularly
in regard to India and Persia, the application of
principles is clear in theory though difficult in political
practice. The obstacles to self-government which
exist in Africa do not exist in the same measure in
Asia. What stands in the way of freedom of Asiatic
populations is not their lack of intelligence, but only
their lack of military prowess, which makes them an
easy prey to our lust for dominion. This lust would
probably be in temporary abeyance on the morrow of
a Socialist revolution, and at such a moment a new
departure in Asiatic policy might be taken with
permanently beneficial results. I do not mean, of
course, that we should force upon India that form
of democratic government which we have developed
for our own needs. I mean rather that we should
leave India to choose its own form of government, its
own manner of education and its own type of civilization.
India has an ancient tradition, very different
from that of Western Europe, a tradition highly
valued by educated Hindoos, but not loved by our
schools and colleges. The Hindoo Nationalist feels
that his country has a type of culture containing elements
of value that are absent, or much less marked,
in the West; he wishes to be free to preserve this,
and desires political freedom for such reasons rather
than for those that would most naturally appeal to
an Englishman in the same subject position. The
belief of the European in his own Kultur tends to be
fanatical and ruthless, and for this reason, as much as
for any other, the independence of extra-European
civilization is of real importance to the world, for it is
not by a dead uniformity that the world as a whole is
most enriched.

I have set forth strongly all the major difficulties
in the way of the preservation of the world's peace,
not because I believe these difficulties to be insuperable,
but, on the contrary, because I believe that they
can be overcome if they are recognized. A correct
diagnosis is necessarily the first step toward a cure.
The existing evils in international relations spring,
at bottom, from psychological causes, from motives
forming part of human nature as it is at present.
Among these the chief are competitiveness, love of
power, and envy, using envy in that broad sense in
which it includes the instinctive dislike of any gain
to others not accompanied by an at least equal gain
to ourselves. The evils arising from these three
causes can be removed by a better education and a
better economic and political system.

Competitiveness is by no means wholly an evil.
When it takes the form of emulation in the service
of the public, or in discovery or the production of
works of art, it may become a very useful stimulus,
urging men to profitable effort beyond what they
would otherwise make. It is only harmful when it
aims at the acquisition of goods which are limited
in amount, so that what one man possesses he holds at
the expense of another. When competitiveness takes
this form it is necessarily attended by fear, and out
of fear cruelty is almost inevitably developed. But a
social system providing for a more just distribution
of material goods might close to the instinct of
competitiveness those channels in which it is harmful,
and cause it to flow instead in channels in which it
would become a benefit to mankind. This is one great
reason why the communal ownership of land and capital
would be likely to have a beneficial effect upon
human nature, for human nature, as it exists in adult
men and women, is by no means a fixed datum, but
a product of circumstances, education and opportunity
operating upon a highly malleable native

What is true of competitiveness is equally true
of love of power. Power, in the form in which it is
now usually sought, is power of command, power of
imposing one's will upon others by force, open or
concealed. This form of power consists, in essence, in
thwarting others, for it is only displayed when others
are compelled to do what they do not wish to do.
Such power, we hope, the social system which is to
supersede capitalist will reduce to a minimum by the
methods which we outlined in the preceding chapter.
These methods can be applied in international no
less than in national affairs. In international affairs
the same formula of federalism will apply: self-
determination for every group in regard to matters which
concern it much more vitally than they concern
others, and government by a neutral authority embracing
rival groups in all matters in which conflicting
interests of groups come into play; lout always
with the fixed principle that the functions of government
are to be reduced to the bare minimum compatible
with justice and the prevention of private
violence. In such a world the present harmful outlets
for the love of power would be closed. But the
power which consists in persuasion, in teaching, in
leading men to a new wisdom or the realization of
new possibilities of happiness--this kind of power,
which may be wholly beneficial, would remain untouched,
and many vigorous men, who in the actual
world devote their energies to domination, would in
such a world find their energies directed to the creation
of new goods rather than the perpetuation of
ancient evils.

Envy, the third of the psychological causes to
which we attributed what is bad in the actual world,
depends in most natures upon that kind of fundamental
discontent which springs from a lack of
free development, from thwarted instinct, and
from the impossibility of realizing an imagined
happiness. Envy cannot be cured by preaching;
preaching, at the best, will only alter its manifestations
and lead it to adopt more subtle forms of concealment.
Except in those rare natures in which
generosity dominates in spite of circumstances, the
only cure for envy is freedom and the joy of life.
From populations largely deprived of the simple
instinctive pleasures of leisure and love, sunshine and
green fields, generosity of outlook and kindliness
of dispositions are hardly to be expected. In such
populations these qualities are not likely to be found,
even among the fortunate few, for these few are
aware, however dimly, that they are profiting by an
injustice, and that they can only continue to enjoy
their good fortune by deliberately ignoring those
with whom it is not shared. If generosity and kindliness
are to be common, there must be more care
than there is at present for the elementary wants of
human nature, and more realization that the diffusion
of happiness among all who are not the victims of
some peculiar misfortune is both possible and imperative.
A world full of happiness would not wish to
plunge into war, and would not be filled with that
grudging hostility which our cramped and narrow
existence forces upon average human nature. A world
full of happiness is not beyond human power to
create; the obstacles imposed by inanimate nature
are not insuperable. The real obstacles lie in the
heart of man, and the cure for these is a firm hope,
informed and fortified by thought.



SOCIALISM has been advocated by most of its
champions chiefly as a means of increasing the welfare
of the wage earning classes, and more particularly
their material welfare. It has seemed accordingly,
to some men whose aims are not material, as
if it has nothing to offer toward the general
advancement of civilization in the way of art and
thought. Some of its advocates, moreover--and
among these Marx must be included--have written,
no doubt not deliberately, as if with the Socialist
revolution the millennium would have arrived, and
there would be no need of further progress for the
human race. I do not know whether our age is more
restless than that which preceded it, or whether it
has merely become more impregnated with the idea
of evolution, but, for whatever reason, we have
grown incapable of believing in a state of static
perfection, and we demand, of any social system,
which is to have our approval, that it shall contain
within itself a stimulus and opportunity for progress
toward something still better. The doubts thus
raised by Socialist writers make it necessary to
inquire whether Socialism would in fact be hostile to
art and science, and whether it would be likely to
produce a stereotyped society in which progress
would become difficult and slow.

It is not enough that men and women should be
made comfortable in a material sense. Many members
of the well-to-do classes at present, in spite of
opportunity, contribute nothing of value to the life
of the world, and do not even succeed in securing for
themselves any personal happiness worthy to be so
called. The multiplication of such individuals would
be an achievement of the very minutest value; and
if Socialism were merely to bestow upon all the
kind of life and outlook which is now enjoyed by
the more apathetic among the well-to-do, it would
offer little that could inspire enthusiasm in any
generous spirit.

``The true role of collective existence,'' says M.
Naquet,[57]'' . . . is to learn, to discover, to know.
Eating, drinking, sleeping, living, in a word, is a
mere accessory. In this respect, we are not
distinguished from the brute. Knowledge is the goal.
If I were condemned to choose between a humanity
materially happy, glutted after the manner of a
flock of sheep in a field, and a humanity existing in
misery, but from which emanated, here and there,
some eternal truth, it is on the latter that my choice
would fall.''

[57] ``L'Anarchie et le Collectivisme,'' p. 114.

This statement puts the alternative in a very
extreme form in which it is somewhat unreal. It may
be said in reply that for those who have had the
leisure and the opportunity to enjoy ``eternal
truths'' it is easy to exalt their importance at the
expense of sufferings which fall on others. This is
true; but, if it is taken as disposing of the question,
it leaves out of account the importance of thought
for progress. Viewing the life of mankind as a whole,
in the future as well as in the present, there can be
no question that a society in which some men pursue
knowledge while others endure great poverty offers
more hope of ultimate good than a society in which
all are sunk in slothful comfort. It is true that
poverty is a great evil, but it is not true that material
prosperity is in itself a great good. If it is to have
any real value to society, it must be made a means to
the advancement of those higher goods that belong
to the life of the mind. But the life of the mind does
not consist of thought and knowledge alone, nor
can it be completely healthy unless it has some
instinctive contact, however deeply buried, with the
general life of the community. Divorced from the
social instinct, thought, like art, tends to become
finicky and precious. It is the position of such art
and thought as is imbued with the instinctive sense
of service to mankind that we wish to consider, for
it is this alone that makes up the life of the mind
in the sense in which it is a vital part of the life of
the community. Will the life of the mind in this
sense be helped or hindered by Socialism? And will
there still be a sufficient spur to progress to prevent
a condition of Byzantine immobility?

In considering this question we are, in a certain
sense, passing outside the atmosphere of democracy.
The general good of the community is realized only
in individuals, but it is realized much more fully in
some individuals than in others. Some men have a
comprehensive and penetrating intellect, enabling
them to appreciate and remember what has been
thought and known by their predecessors, and to
discover new regions in which they enjoy all the
high delights of the mental explorer. Others have
the power of creating beauty, giving bodily form to
impalpable visions out of which joy comes to many.
Such men are more fortunate than the mass, and also
more important for the collective life. A larger share
of the general sum of good is concentrated in them
than in the ordinary man and woman; but also their
contribution to the general good is greater. They
stand out among men and cannot be wholly fitted
into the framework of democratic equality. A social
system which would render them unproductive would
stand condemned, whatever other merits it might

The first thing to realize--though it is difficult in
a commercial age--is that what is best in creative
mental activity cannot be produced by any system
of monetary rewards. Opportunity and the stimulus
of an invigorating spiritual atmosphere are important,
but, if they are presented, no financial inducements
will be required, while if they are absent,
material compensations will be of no avail. Recognition,
even if it takes the form of money, can bring a
certain pleasure in old age to the man of science
who has battled all his life against academic
prejudice, or to the artist who has endured years of
ridicule for not painting in the manner of his
predecessors; but it is not by the remote hope of such
pleasures that their work has been inspired. All
the most important work springs from an uncalculating
impulse, and is best promoted, not by rewards
after the event, but by circumstances which keep the
impulse alive and afford scope for the activities
which it inspires. In the creation of such circumstances
our present system is much at fault. Will
Socialism be better?

I do not think this question can be answered
without specifying the kind of Socialism that is intended:
some forms of Socialism would, I believe, be
even more destructive in this respect than the present
capitalist regime, while others would be immeasurably
better. Three things which a social system can
provide or withhold are helpful to mental creation:
first, technical training; second, liberty to follow
the creative impulse; third, at least the possibility of
ultimate appreciation by some public, whether large
or small. We may leave out of our discussion both
individual genius and those intangible conditions
which make some ages great and others sterile in art
and science--not because these are unimportant, but
because they are too little understood to be taken
account of in economic or political organization.
The three conditions we have mentioned seem to cover
most of what can be SEEN to be useful or harmful
from our present point of view, and it is therefore
to them that we shall confine ourselves.

1. Technical Training.--Technical training at
present, whether in science or art, requires one or
other of two conditions. Either a boy must be the
son of well-to-do parents who can afford to keep
him while he acquires his education, or he must show
so much ability at an early age as to enable him to
subsist on scholarships until he is ready to earn his
living. The former condition is, of course, a mere
matter of luck, and could not be preserved in its
present form under any kind of Socialism or Communism.
This loss is emphasized by defenders of the
present system, and no doubt it would be, to same
extent, a real loss. But the well-to-do are a small
proportion of the population, and presumably on the
average no more talented by nature than their less
fortunate contemporaries. If the advantages which
are enjoyed now by those few among them who are
capable of good work in science or art could be
extended, even in a slightly attenuated form, to all
who are similarly gifted, the result would almost
infallibly be a gain, and much ability which is now
wasted would be rendered fruitful. But how is this
to be effected?

The system of scholarships obtained by competition,
though better than nothing, is objectionable
from many points of view. It introduces the competitive
spirit into the work of the very young; it
makes them regard knowledge from the standpoint
of what is useful in examinations rather than in the
light of its intrinsic interest or importance; it places
a premium upon that sort of ability which is displayed
precociously in glib answers to set questions
rather than upon the kind that broods on difficulties
and remains for a time rather dumb. What is perhaps
worse than any of these defects is the tendency
to cause overwork in youth, leading to lack of vigor
and interest when manhood has been reached. It
can hardly be doubted that by this cause, at present,
many fine minds have their edge blunted and their
keenness destroyed.

State Socialism might easily universalize the
system of scholarships obtained by competitive examination,
and if it did so it is to he feared that it
would be very harmful. State Socialists at present
tend to be enamored of the systems which is exactly
of the kind that every bureaucrat loves: orderly,
neat, giving a stimulus to industrious habits, and
involving no waste of a sort that could be tabulated
in statistics or accounts of public expenditure.
Such men will argue that free higher education is
expensive to the community, and only useful in the
case of those who have exceptional abilities; it
ought, therefore, they will say, not to be given to all,
but only to those who will become more useful members
of society through receiving it. Such arguments
make a great appeal to what are called ``practical''
men, and the answers to them are of a sort which it
is difficult to render widely convincing. Revolt
against the evils of competition is, however, part
of the very essence of the Socialist's protest against
the existing order, and on this ground, if on no other,
those who favor Socialism may be summoned to look
for some better solution.

Much the simplest solution, and the only really
effective one, is to make every kind of education free
up to the age of twenty-one for all boys and girls
who desire it. The majority will be tired of education
before that age, and will prefer to begin other
work sooner; this will lead to a natural selection of
those with strong interests in some pursuit requiring
a long training. Among those selected in this way
by their own inclinations, probably almost all tho
have marked abilities of the kind in question will be
included. It is true that there will also be many
who have very little ability; the desire to become a
painter, for example, is by no means confined to
those who can paint. But this degree of waste could
well be borne by the community; it would be immeasurably
less than that now entailed by the support
of the idle rich. Any system which aims at
avoiding this kind of waste must entail the far more
serious waste of rejecting or spoiling some of the
best ability in each generation. The system of free
education up to any grade for all who desire it is
the only system which is consistent with the principles
of liberty, and the only one which gives a reasonable
hope of affording full scope for talent. This system
is equally compatible with all forms of Socialism
and Anarchism. Theoretically, it is compatible with
capitalism, but practically it is so opposite in spirit
that it would hardly be feasible without a complete
economic reconstruction. The fact that Socialism
would facilitate it must be reckoned a very powerful
argument in favor of change, for the waste of talent
at present in the poorer classes of society must be

2. Liberty to follow the creative impulse.--
When a man's training has been completed, if he is
possessed of really great abilities, he will do his best
work if he is completely free to follow his bent,
creating what seems good to him, regardless of the
judgment of ``experts.'' At present this is only
possible for two classes of people: those who have
private means, and those who can earn a living by
an occupation that does not absorb their whole
energies. Under Socialism, there will be no one with
private means, and if there is to be no loss as
regards art and science, the opportunity which now
comes by accident to a few will have to be provided
deliberately for a much larger number. The men
who have used private means as an opportunity for
creative work have been few but important: one
might mention Milton, Shelley, Keats and Darwin as
examples. Probably none of these would have produced
as good work if they had had to earn their
livelihood. If Darwin had been a university teacher,
he would of course have been dismissed from his post
by the influence of the clerics on account of his
scandalous theories.

Nevertheless, the bulk of the creative work of the
world is done at present by men who subsist by
some other occupation. Science, and research generally,
are usually done in their spare time by men
who live by teaching. There is no great objection to
this in the case of science, provided the number of
hours devoted to teaching is not excessive. It is
partly because science and teaching are so easily
combined that science is vigorous in the present age.
In music, a composer who is also a performer enjoys
similar advantages, but one who is not a performer
must starve, unless he is rich or willing to pander to
the public taste. In the fine arts, as a rule, it is not
easy in the modern world either to make a living by
really good work or to find a subsidiary profession
which leaves enough leisure for creation. This is
presumably one reason, though by no means the only
one, why art is less flourishing than science.

The bureaucratic State Socialist will have a
simple solution for these difficulties. He will appoint
a body consisting of the most eminent celebrities in
an art or a science, whose business it shall be to judge
the work of young men, and to issue licenses to those
whose productions find favor in their eyes. A licensed
artist shall be considered to have performed his duty
to the community by producing works of art. But of
course he will have to prove his industry by never
failing to produce in reasonable quantities, and his
continued ability by never failing to please his
eminent judges--until, in the fulness of time, he
becomes a judge himself. In this way, the authorities
will insure that the artist shall be competent,
regular, and obedient to the best traditions of his
art. Those who fail to fulfil these conditions will be
compelled by the withdrawal of their license to seek
some less dubious mode of earning their living. Such
will be the ideal of the State Socialist.

In such a world all that makes life tolerable to
the lover of beauty would perish. Art springs from
a wild and anarchic side of human nature; between
the artist and the bureaucrat there must always be
a profound mutual antagonism, an age-long battle
in which the artist, always outwardly worsted, wins
in the end through the gratitude of mankind for the
joy that he puts into their lives. If the wild side
of human nature is to be permanently subjected to
the orderly rules of the benevolent, uncomprehending
bureaucrat, the joy of life will perish out of the
earth, and the very impulse to live will gradually
wither and die. Better a thousandfold the present
world with all its horrors than such a dead mummy
of a world. Better Anarchism, with all its risks,
than a State Socialism that subjects to rule what
must be spontaneous and free if it is to have any
value. It is this nightmare that makes artists, and
lovers of beauty generally, so often suspicious of
Socialism. But there is nothing in the essence of
Socialism to make art impossible: only certain forms
of Socialism would entail this danger. William
Morris was a Socialist, and was a Socialist very
largely because he was an artist. And in this he
was not irrational.

It is impossible for art, or any of the higher
creative activities, to flourish under any system which
requires that the artist shall prove his competence to
some body of authorities before he is allowed to follow
his impulse. Any really great artist is almost
sure to be thought incompetent by those among his
seniors who would be generally regarded as best
qualified to form an opinion. And the mere fact of
having to produce work which will please older men
is hostile to a free spirit and to bold innovation.
Apart from this difficulty, selection by older men
would lead to jealousy and intrigue and back-biting,
producing a poisonous atmosphere of underground
competition. The only effect of such a plan would be
to eliminate the few who now slip through owing to
some fortunate accident. It is not by any system,
but by freedom alone, that art can flourish.

There are two ways by which the artist could
secure freedom under Socialism of the right kind.
He might undertake regular work outside his art,
doing only a few hours' work a day and receiving
proportionately less pay than those who do a full
day's work. He ought, in that case, to be at liberty
to sell his pictures if he could find purchasers. Such
a system would have many advantages. It would
leave absolutely every man free to become an artist,
provided he were willing to suffer a certain economic
loss. This would not deter those in whom the impulse
was strong and genuine, but would tend to
exclude the dilettante. Many young artists at
present endure voluntarily much greater poverty
than need be entailed by only doing half the usual
day's work in a well-organized Socialist community;
and some degree of hardship is not objectionable,
as a test of the strength of the creative impulse, and
as an offset to the peculiar joys of the creative life.

The other possibility[58] would be that the necessaries
of life should be free, as Anarchists desire, to
all equally, regardless of whether they work or not.
Under this plan, every man could live without work:
there would be what might be called a ``vagabond's
wage,'' sufficient for existence but not for luxury.
The artist who preferred to have his whole time for
art and enjoyment might live on the ``vagabond's
wage''--traveling on foot when the humor seized him
to see foreign countries, enjoying the air and the
sun, as free as the birds, and perhaps scarcely less
happy. Such men would bring color and diversity
into the life of the community; their outlook would be
different from that of steady, stay-at-home workers,
and would keep alive a much-needed element of light-
heartedness which our sober, serious civilization tends
to kill. If they became very numerous, they might
be too great an economic burden on the workers;
but I doubt if there are many with enough capacity
for simple enjoyments to choose poverty and free-
dom in preference to the comparatively light and
pleasant work which will be usual in those days.

[58] Which we discussed in Chapter IV.

By either of these methods, freedom can be preserved
for the artist in a socialistic commonwealth--
far more complete freedom, and far more widespread,
than any that now exists except for the possessors of

But there still remain some not altogether easy
problems. Take, for example, the publishing of books.
There will not, under Socialism, be private publishers
as at present: under State Socialism, presumably the
State will be the sole publisher, while under Syndicalism
or Guild Socialism the Federation du Livre
will have the whole of the trade in its hands. Under
these circumstances, who is to decide what MSS. are
to be printed? It is clear that opportunities exist
for an Index more rigorous than that of the Inquisition.
If the State were the sole publisher, it would
doubtless refuse books opposed to State Socialism.
If the Federation du Livre were the ultimate arbiter,
what publicity could be obtained for works criticising
it? And apart from such political difficulties
we should have, as regards literature, that
very censorship by eminent officials which we agreed
to regard as disastrous when we were considering the
fine arts in general. The difficulty is serious, and a
way of meeting it must be found if literature is to
remain free.

Kropotkin, who believes that manual and intellectual
work should be combined, holds that authors
themselves should be compositors, bookbinders, etc.
He even seems to suggest that the whole of the manual
work involved in producing books should be done by
authors. It may be doubted whether there are
enough authors in the world for this to be possible,
and in any case I cannot but think that it would
be a waste of time for them to leave the work they
understand in order to do badly work which others
could do far better and more quickly. That, however,
does not touch our present point, which is the
question how the MSS. to be printed will be selected.
In Kropotkin's plan there will presumably be an
Author's Guild, with a Committee of Management,
if Anarchism allows such things. This Committee
of Management will decide which of the books submitted
to it are worthy to be printed. Among these
will be included those by the Committee and their
friends, but not those by their enemies. Authors
of rejected MSS. will hardly have the patience to
spend their time setting up the works of successful
rivals, and there will have to be an elaborate system
of log-rolling if any books are to be printed at all.
It hardly looks as if this plan would conduce to harmony
among literary men, or would lead to the publication
of any book of an unconventional tendency.
Kropotkin's own books, for example, would hardly
have found favor.

The only way of meeting these difficulties, whether
under State Socialism or Guild Socialism or Anarchism,
seems to be by making it possible for an author
to pay for the publication of his book if it is not
such as the State or the Guild is willing to print at
its own expense. I am aware that this method is contrary
to the spirit of Socialism, but I do not see what
other way there is of securing freedom. The payment
might be made by undertaking to engage for
an assigned period in some work of recognized utility
and to hand over such proportion of the earnings as
might be necessary. The work undertaken might
of course be, as Kropotkin suggests, the manual part
of the production of books, but I see no special reason
why it should be. It would have to be an absolute
rule that no book should be refused, no matter what
the nature of its contents might be, if payment for
publication were offered at the standard rate. An
author who had admirers would be able to secure their
help in payment. An unknown author might, it is
true, have to suffer a considerable loss of comfort
in order to make his payment, but that would give
an automatic means of eliminating those whose writing
was not the result of any very profound impulse
and would be by no means wholly an evil.

Probably some similar method would be desirable
as regards the publishing and performing of new

What we have been suggesting will, no doubt, be
objected to by orthodox Socialists, since they will find
something repugnant to their principles in the whole
idea of a private person paying to have certain
work done. But it is a mistake to be the slave of a
system, and every system, if it is applied rigidly, will
entail evils which could only be avoided by some
concession to the exigencies of special cases. On the
whole, a wise form of Socialism might afford infinitely
better opportunities for the artist and the man of
science than are possible in a capitalist community,
but only if the form of Socialism adopted is one
which is fitted for this end by means of provisions
such as we have been suggesting.

3. Possibility of Appreciation.--This condition
is one which is not necessary to all who do creative
work, but in the sense in which I mean it the great
majority find it very nearly indispensable. I do not
mean widespread public recognition, nor that ignorant,
half-sincere respect which is commonly accorded
to artists who have achieved success. Neither of
these serves much purpose. What I mean is rather
understanding, and a spontaneous feeling that things
of beauty are important. In a thoroughly commercialized
society, an artist is respected if he makes
money, and because he makes money, but there is no
genuine respect for the works of art by which his
money has been made. A millionaire whose fortune
has been made in button-hooks or chewing-gum is
regarded with awe, but none of this feeling is
bestowed on the articles from which his wealth is
derived. In a society which measures all things by
money the same tends to be true of the artist. If he
has become rich he is respected, though of course
less than the millionaire, but his pictures or books
or music are regarded as the chewing-gum or the button-
hooks are regarded, merely as a means to money.
In such an atmosphere it is very difficult for the artist
to preserve his creative impulse pure: either he is
contaminated by his surroundings, or he becomes
embittered through lack of appreciation for the object
of his endeavor.

It is not appreciation of the artist that is necessary
so much as appreciation of the art. It is difficult
for an artist to live in an environment in which
everything is judged by its utility, rather than by its
intrinsic quality. The whole side of life of which
art is the flower requires something which may be
called disinterestedness, a capacity for direct
enjoyment without thought of tomorrow's problems and
difficulties. When people are amused by a joke they
do not need to be persuaded that it will serve some
important purpose. The same kind of direct pleasure
is involved in any genuine appreciation of art.
The struggle for life, the serious work of a trade or
profession, is apt to make people too solemn for
jokes and too pre-occupied for art. The easing of
the struggle, the diminution in the hours of work, and
the lightening of the burden of existence, which would
result from a better economic system, could hardly
fail to increase the joy of life and the vital energy,
available for sheer delight in the world. And if this
were achieved there would inevitably be more spontaneous
pleasure in beautiful things, and more enjoyment
of the work of artists. But none of these good
results are to be expected from the mere removal
of poverty: they all require also a diffused sense of
freedom, and the absence of that feeling of oppression
by a vast machine which now weighs down the individual
spirit. I do not think State Socialism can give
this sense of freedom, but some other forms of Socialism,
which have absorbed what is true in Anarchist
teaching, can give it to a degree of which capitalism is
wholly incapable.

A general sense of progress and achievement is
an immense stimulus to all forms of creative work.
For this reason, a great deal will depend, not only
in material ways, upon the question whether methods
of production in industry and agriculture become
stereotyped or continue to change rapidly as they
have done during the last hundred years. Improved
methods of production will be much more obviously
than now to the interest of the community at large,
when what every man receives is his due share of the
total produce of labor. But there will probably not
be any individuals with the same direct and intense
interest in technical improvements as now belongs
to the capitalist in manufacture. If the natural
conservatism of the workers is not to prove stronger
than their interest in increasing production, it will
be necessary that, when better methods are introduced
by the workers in any industry, part at least
of the benefit should be allowed for a time to be
retained by them. If this is done, it may be presumed
that each Guild will be continually seeking for new
processes or inventions, and will value those technical
parts of scientific research which are useful for this
purpose. With every improvement, the question will
arise whether it is to be used to give more leisure or to
increase the dividend of commodities. Where there
is so much more leisure than there is now, there will
be many more people with a knowledge of science or
an understanding of art. The artist or scientific
investigator will be far less cut off than he is at
present from the average citizen, and this will almost
inevitably be a stimulus to his creative energy.

I think we may fairly conclude that, from the
point of view of all three requisites for art and science,
namely, training, freedom and appreciation, State
Socialism would largely fail to remove existing
evils and would introduce new evils of its own; but
Guild Socialism, or even Syndicalism, if it adopted
a liberal policy toward those who preferred to work
less than the usual number of hours at recognized
occupations, might be immeasurably preferable to
anything that is possible under the rule of capitalism.
There are dangers, but they will all vanish if the
importance of liberty is adequately acknowledged.
In this as in nearly everything else, the road to all
that is best is the road of freedom.



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