Capitalist “Humanity”

“The Socialist is almost always, yet, in most cases, without conscious hypocrisy, a non-Socialist in his own private life. On all sides of his character, indeed, the average Socialist shows the absence of that feeling for humanity which his creed inculcates.”—Witness (Ontario).

Ignoring the obvious contradiction that “the Socialist” is “nearly always a non-Socialist,” the truth of the above depends upon the writer’s interpretation of the words.

If the term Socialist is intended to mean one who endeavours to practice Socialism, then none can be other than non Socialist—unless our critic would expect the aspirant to the name to start a co-operative commonwealth, as a hobby, after knocking off work.

Let me elucidate. Socialism is a name given to a system of society wherein the present anachronism : social production—private ownership, shall find no place; a system wherein classes with opposing interests shall give place to a community with a common interest.

A Socialist is one who recognises that private ownership must give place to social control in order that society shall progress ; one who sees that the evils attendant upon mankind are due to the clashing interests of producer and owner, and who works for the society of harmonious material interests that must result from the abolition of class domination.

That is a Socialist, both public and private ; and the piebald individual with Socialistic principles in spots is ruled out.

The “feeling for humanity which his [Socialist] creed inculcates” is, evidently, conspicuously absent in the pro-capitalist, for, be it noted, our Socialist in parts “shows its absence” on his non-Socialist side. Certainly such feelings are not rapidly generated in the hothouse of capitalism. It does not pay ; but capitalism is never at a loss. If the real thing cannot be produced at a profit, nevertheless, quite an overdose of shoddy goods of this character has been dumped upon an unsuspecting proletariat in this enlightened country.

The humanity made so much of by the pro-capitalist does not appeal to the Socialist, who is more concerned with preventing the evils than sympathising with the unfortunate victims thereof.

What does capitalist humanity amount to ? Human beings are maimed and crippled in the scramble for dividends. Commerce demands such sacrifice. Production for profit ignores humanity, and after each day of modern industry hundreds are left by the wayside, maimed and bleeding.

The humanitarian here steps in and calls upon his brothers to assist in the holy work of rescue. How awful it is for the “image of the Creator” to expire in the gutter ! To tend the sick and to comfort the weary should be the work of the more fortunate ones.

To be sure. And, apart from the usefulness of such work, it may be very dangerous to allow the carcass to rot. Germs from the body may travel even into the homes of those more fortunate brethren. So, while supporting the system which maims and kills, they erect hospitals and poor-houses to receive the wreckage from the capitalist workshops.

Year by year the mass of that wreckage increases, and, of course, with the growth in the number of those who have fallen among thieves and got broken, the “good Samaritan” business expands also. To quote a writer in the Daily Chronicle, “they are awaiting the half starved children and consumptive sempstresses who will never get well until they have had enough to eat, and for the mothers who cannot feed their babes because they have no food for themselves.”

Describing a visit to the “House of Horror” (the London Hospital) the same writer says :

“Throughout the length and breadth of a building covering a space of eight acres, men and women were busy with the great and ceaseless fight with death. Always the great city casts up its human wreckage, its broken bodies, its scum of disease. The supply is inexhaustible from the torture chamber of life. . . I saw the vision of life’s cruelty in a great city. I saw sharp knives in whirling machines of great factories chopping off the fingers of working men and slicing off their limbs. I saw great ladders falling and smashing the bodies of men. I saw starvation weakening the fibre of the people of mean streets, and the microbes of disease grow fat in the filth. I saw vice eating up the bone and blood of men and breeding children of despair. For here around me in the London Hospital were the victims of all the seething cruelty of a great city in a civilised world.”

The modern hospital resembles nothing so much as the repairing department of a large factory. The human machine is received broken and worn ; the broken parts are patched and the worn parts rebuilt, and then it is returned to be rebroken and again repaired, until at last it is thrown on the industrial scrap-heap as utterly useless.

At present parsons, labour leaders, and others engaged in the dissemination of the “feeling for humanity” are busy denouncing the horrors of war and calling for “international arbitrament of national quarrels,” heedless of the fact that wars are necessary factors in the expansion of markets, and that standing armies are required to subdue a subject class.

Great though the loss of life by warfare is, it pales into insignificance beside the myriads needlessly slaughtered in factory and mine.

“Where is the Socialist’s humanity ?” “Where is he who practices Socialism in ‘private life’?” “Where are your Socialist hospitals ?” “What has Socialism done for the workers?” Such are the questions of the unthinking. Ask rather “What does that ‘humanity’ amount to which waits until the damage is done and then applies the sticking plaster; which calmly stands by while the limb is broken, and then hastens to supply a splint ?”

Look for the humane instinct in a system which is based upon the robbery and murder of the useful in the interest of the useless. Enquire into and discover what capitalism has done for the toiler.

Dr. Newman, chief medical officer of the Board of Education, reports that of the 6 millions of children attending elementary schools, approximately 50 per cent, require medical treatment.

The chief registrar of births and deaths, in his report for 1909, states that 20 per cent. of the deaths in that year occurred in the workhouses, hospitals, lunatic asylums, and prisons.

In London 1 in 7 and in Glasgow 1 in 2 live in overcrowded conditions, while in both cities thousands of houses are unoccupied, and there are thousands upon thousands of acres of unused land in both England and Scotland.

We are told that in Great Britain “there are a million men unemployed ; that one third of the population are on the verge of hunger.”

The total wages paid are ever decreasing, it being estimated that the wages now paid to the workers of this country are less by 6 millions than they were 8 years ago, and further, that the number of paupers in the United Kingdom has increased by 118,000 since 1901.

T. S. Chouston, M.D., LL.D., F.R.S.E., in a recent work, says : “In the report of a Royal Commission it is estimated that there are at least 350,000 persons representing the mentally helpless, dependent, and diseased element in the body politic. I should add another 50,000 and be well within the mark. Those have as first cousins an army of defectives of another kind. . . . It comes to this, that a large part of our ‘submerged tenth’ lacks brain-grit to cope with the conditions of modern life, especially in large cities.”

These are a few of the good things capitalism has done for the workers. The mechanism to cope with this enormous poverty, disease, and crime, necessary for the maintenance and upkeep of present society, springs, we are told, from a “feeling for humanity.” The Socialist wants none of it.

Just as every vice alleged against Socialism is found to actually exist to-day, so every pretended virtue of capitalist society shows its inherent rottenness.

No greater condemnation of the existing order can be given than the fact that it creates the necessity for these vast “humane” instutitions to deal with the worst of its flotsam and jetsam, to provide, for decency sake, a screen for awful spectacle of its wreckage,


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