Forgotten Objections to Socialism
Time brings many changes, and among them a reversal in the attitude of the firmest opponents of Socialism towards their strongest objections.
Not so very long ago “leaders” of industry looked with bitter antagonism at any suggested interference in industry by the State. Socialism was opposed partly on the ground, so they said, that it represented such State interference. Nowadays, however, national governments (Fascist and otherwise) are glorified just on account of this State interference, and in industry after industry, leading representatives appeal to the State power to take action in one or another direction.
The old ideas of free competition have become obsolete, and the arguments built upon them have been forgotten by the anti-Socialist. Endeavours are common now to obtain agreements between sections (with government assistance) for the restriction of output or the destruction of surpluses, and for other varieties of a process which aims at balancing production against consumption.
It used to be urged that Socialists proposed providing people with uniform clothes and uniform houses. Governmental housing schemes have been a common feature of the last decade, and the objections made by supporters of capitalism have been that the schemes are not large enough or thorough enough.
The Nazis and the Fascists, the most thoroughgoing opponents of Socialism, have so far forgotten the “uniform” objection of the past that they want to dress us in shirts that only differ in colour from country to country.
How often have we heard, in days gone by, Socialism likened to the alleged paternalism of the Incas of Peru. But our paternal governments appoint officials to make sure that the unemployed have no savings hidden away, that we cross the roads at right places, that we truly inform them of what money we earn, that we properly cover our nakedness, and in many other ways display an inquisitorial interest in our private affairs.
From childhood onwards we are taught to appreciate how much we depend upon “great men” in all spheres of life, and we are urged to place our trust in them as leaders of thought and industry. But as soon as a “great man” loses his place, the public Press is full of vilifications of him. Whether he he a politician, a general, an admiral, an industrial magnate or an artist, it does not matter, he is torn to pieces in print. Those who escape this fate when alive are usually subjected to the process when dead, as witness the voluminous literature in the form of memoirs, letters, and so forth published every year.
And so the hens come home to roost, but the fact is usually forgotten, and the objections to Socialism to-day will become the bulwarks of capitalism to-morrow.