A Common Objection Answered
Opposition at Socialist meetings often takes the form of asking for a detailed plan of Socialism, and on receiving the reply that none can be given, the opposer declares triumphantly that Socialism is impracticable.
Now, as a matter of fact, any forecast of the details of a future system of society will be vitiated by its being coloured by conceptions engendered by our present environment. As all our ideas are suggested by our material surroundings, past and present, we cannot mentally project ourselves into a form of society that has never yet been in existence.
Further, no detailed plan is necessary for the attainment of Socialism. We know that Capitalism was brought about by the revolution that destroyed the old society, Feudalism. Were the pioneers of that revolution, the men who fought the battle of the rising bourgeoisie against the feudal nobility, prepared with a plan of capitalist society? Had they in mind such details as wheat corners, massacres, and Liberator swindles? No, it was sufficient for the purpose to wrest the political machinery out of the hands of the feudal nobility. The details of Capitalism have been settled by the capitalists themselves as they have arisen. Similarly, it is sufficient for the working class to capture the political machinery and to seize the mean of production and distribution. The details of Socialist society will then be settled by the people as they arise. The broad basis of Socialism, viz., the common ownership of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, and their democratic control by the people, is sufficient for the present.
Moreover, the opposer is not usually very consistent, for he is probably either a Liberal or a Conservative. If the former he would at the last general election have voted for Home Rule for Ireland, without having any knowledge of the details of the present Home Rule Bill. If a Conservative he would have voted for Tariff Reform, of which Mr. Balfour has declared no details can be given thus: “I may say incidentally that I am not going to be bullied by our opponents into doing what they never think of doing, which is to give an account of the precise details of their procedure some years hence”.
H. T. Edwards