What is Socialism?

What is the object of Socialism ? I was asked the other day. I will now endeavour to answer.

An object is a thing aimed at, an ultimate goal or a desired achievement. Socialism is a system of society based upon the common ownership and control of the necessities of life. Now what is the object Socialism expects to realise by establishing such a condition of society ?

Let us examine the definition and see if that will help us to an answer.

A system : that is a significant start. It indicates that there is only one system that can be of use. Socialism cannot be several systems, nor can it exist side by side with, or inside, another. It is all-sufficient in itself, and brooks no companion, for such would be a competitor.

System: what a lot that implies ! Method, organisation, control, economy, efficiency—these together implying a condition of mental and physical alertness, that all must admit is highly desirable, although at present seldom enjoyed.

Of society : what is society ? (This is where we cut the ground from under the feet of the “humanitarian “—that noble, sentimental “al¬truist”—who accuses us of sectionalism, and boasts that he stands for humanity.) Society stands for associated mankind, therefore it includes all, not merely a class, although it is the mission of the working class to make the effort that will abolish classes.

Based upon : yes, an excellent word is based. It suggests a sure foundation, permanence, stability.

Common ownership : ownership in common. The exact opposite of individual or private ownership. No miserly spirit can find a home under Socialism. The necessities of each are in relation to the necessities of all. No one is neglected; none surfeited. Man will become above the animals in that he is an owner—not a competitor to own, but a safe and sure life owner—of a share in the commonwealth, on one condition only: that he does his social duty—the possibility of which will be guaranteed by the same community that guarantees the reward.

And control: control in common also. What a contrast with society as it exists to-day, with a small section controlling the happiness of the larger, under the delusion that they have a “divine right ” (whatever that is) to do so. Common control means no more tyranny, oppression, slavery, or humility of a discreditable nature, but manliness, responsibility, liberty and equality—worth fighting for, isn’t it ?

The necessities of life : what are they ? Food, clothing and shelter, some say. Very good, as far as it goes, but it must not be taken too narrowly. It is difficult to set limitations, for much more than food, clothing and shelter are necessaries of life to-day, and other things become necessaries as time goes on. An efficient definition is : those things which are necessary for the well-being and progress of the community. To sum up and give a concise answer to the question that heads this article; Socialism will achieve the increased happiness of the whole of society.


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