Reaction to Capitalism
Transition from Democratic Individualism to Democratic Socialism and Collectivistic Socialism or Governmental Communism
What is the remedy of Capitalism? Socialism? What is Socialism? Is it democratic? Is it undemocratic? Is it a restricted democracy? Is it identical with Communism, or is it different from it? Socialism leads to the sacrifice of individual liberty in order to establish the principle of Equality. What is the remedy? Democratic Socialism? Is Democratic Socialism likely to succeed? Is it likely to be widespread in the near future? Or will it give way to State Socialism? What is the truth behind the State Socialism? What are the defects of the State Socialism? Is the principle of Equality indispensable to State Socialism? Why does State Socialism or Governmental Communism lead to Totalit-arianism? Is not Totalitarianism the denial of Reason? -- Is it not the suicide or execution of the rational and intellectual expansion of the human mental being? Is Totalitarianism likely to be the inevitable end of the Age of Reason? Or is there some other possibility? Is Collectivism not an indispensable stage of Human development? Can not the defects of Collectivism be remedied? Can Collectivism be not spiritualised?
What is the Justification of Socialism?
“Its true nature, its real justification is the attempt of the
human reason to carry on the rational ordering of society to its fulfilment, its will to get rid of this great parasitical excrescence of unbridled competition, this giant obstacle to any decent ideal or practice of human living. Socialism sets out to replace a system of organised economic battle by an organised order and peace. This can no longer be done on the old lines, an artificial or inherited inequality brought about by the denial of equal opportunity and justified by the affirmation of that injustice and its result as an eternal law of society and of Nature. That is a falsehood which the reason of man will no longer permit.”
Socialism must do away with individual liberty, even if it professes to respect it
“Neither can it be done, it seems, on the basis of individual liberty; for that has broken down in the practice. Socialism therefore must do away with the democratic basis of individual liberty, even if it professes to respect it or to be marching towards a more rational freedom. It shifts at first the fundamental emphasis to other ideas and fruits of the democratic ideal, and it leads by this transference of stress to a radical change in the basic principle of a rational society.”
Socialism must do away with the inherited right in the property in order to establish Equality
“Equality, not a political only, but a perfect social equality, is to be the basis. There is to be equality of opportunity for all, but also equality of status for all, for without the last the first cannot be secured; even if it were established, it could not endure. This equality again is
impossible if personal or at least inherited right in property is to exist, and therefore socialism abolishes --- except at best on a small scale --- the right of personal property as it is now understood and makes war on the hereditary principle. Who then is to possess the property? It can only be the community as a whole. And who is to administer it? Again, the comm-unity as a whole. In order to justify this idea, the socialistic principle has practically to deny the existence of the individual or his right to exist except as a member of the society and for its sake. He belongs entirely to the society, not only his property, but himself, his labour, his capacities, the education it gives him and its results, his mind, his knowledge, his individual life, his family life, the life of his children.”
The inevitable character of Socialism is to determine the whole life of the society
“Moreover, since his individual reason cannot be trusted to work out naturally a right and rational adjustment of his life with the life of others, it is for the reason of the whole community to arrange that too for him. Not the reasoning minds and wills of the individuals, but the collective reasoning mind and will of the community has to govern. It is this which will determine not only the principles and all the details of the economic and political order, but the whole life of the community and of the individual as a working, thinking, feeling cell of this life, the development of his capacities, his actions, the use of the knowledge he has acquired, the whole ordering of his vital, his ethical, his intelligent being. For so only can the collective reason and intelligent will of the race overcome the egoism of
individualistic life and bring about a perfect principle and rational order of society in a harmonious world.”
This is denied or minimised by the most democratic socialists
“It is true that this inevitable character of socialism is denied or minimised by the more democratic socialists; for the socialistic mind still bears the impress of the old democratic ideas and cherishes hopes that betray it often into strange illogicalities. It assures us that it will combine some kind of individual freedom, a limited but all the more true and rational freedom, with the rigours of the collectivist idea. But it is evidently these rigours to which things must tend if the collectivist idea is to prevail and not to stop short and falter in the middle of its course. If it proves itself thus wanting in logic and courage, it may very well be that it will speedily or in the end be destroyed by the foreign element it tolerates and perish without having sounded its own possibilities. It will pass perhaps, unless guided by a rational wisdom which the human mind in government has not yet shown, after exceeding even the competitive individualistic society in its cumbrous incompetence.”
Hesitations of Social Democracy, and the likely future of Social Democracy
“These hesitations of social democracy, its uneasy mental poise between two opposing principles, socialistic regimen-tation and democratic liberty may be the root cause of the failure of socialism to make good in so many countries even when it had every chance on its side and its replacement by
the more vigorous and ruthlessly logical forces of Comm-unism and Fascism. On the other hand, in the northernmost countries of Europe, a temporising, reformist, practical Socialism compromising between the right regulation of the communal life and the freedom of the individual has to some extent made good; but it is still doubtful whether it will be allowed to go to the end of its road. If it has that chance, it is still to be seen whether the drive of the idea and the force it carries in it for complete self-effectuation will not prevail in the end over the spirit of compromise.”
The truth behind the collective idea of Socialism
“The rational collectivist idea of society has at first sight a powerful attraction. There is behind it a great truth, that every society represents a collective being and in it and by it the individual lives and he owes to it all that he can give it. More, it is only by a certain relation to the society, a certain harmony with this greater collective self that he can find the complete use for his many developed or developing powers and activities. Since it is a collective being, it must, one would naturally suppose, have a discoverable collective reason and will which should find more and more its right expression and right working if it is given a conscious and effective means of organised self-expression and execution. And this collective will and intelligence, since it is according to the original idea that of all in a perfect equality, might naturally be trusted to seek out and work out its own good where the ruling individual and class would always be liable to misuse their power for quite other ends. The right organisation of social life on a basis of equality and comradeship ought to give each man his proper place in
society, his full training and development for the common ends, his due share of work, leisure and reward, the right value of his life in relation to the collective being, society. Moreover, it would be a place, share, value regulated by the individual and collective good and not exaggerated or a depressed value brought to him fortuitously by birth or fortune, purchased by wealth or won by a painful and wasteful struggle. And certainly the external efficiency of the community, the measured, ordered and economical working of its life, its power for production and general well-being must enormously increase, as even the quite imperfect development of collective action in the recent past has shown, in a well-organised and concentrated State.
If it be objected that to bring about this result in its completeness the liberty of the individual will have to be destroyed or reduced to an almost vanishing quantity, it might be answered that the right of the individual to any kind of egoistic freedom as against the State which represents the mind, the will, the good and interest of the whole comm-unity, sarvam brahma, is a dangerous fiction, a baneful myth. Individual liberty of life and action -- even if liberty of thought and speech is for a time conceded, though this too can hardly remain unimpaired when once the socialistic State has laid its grip firmly on the individual, -- may well mean in practice an undue freedom given to his infrarational parts of nature, and is not that precisely the thing in him that has to be thoroughly controlled, if not entirely suppressed, if he is to become a reasonable being leading a reasonable life? This control can be most wisely and effectively carried out by the collective reason and will of the State which is larger, better, more enlightened than the individual’s; for it profits, as the average individual cannot do, by all the available
wisdom and aspiration in the society. Indeed, the enlightened individual may well come to regard this collective reason and will as his own larger mind, will and conscience and find in a happy obedience to it a strong delivery from his own smaller and less rational self and therefore a more real freedom than any now claimed by his little separate ego.”
Discrepancy between the ideas of Socialism and actual facts of Human Nature
“The pity of it is that this excellent theory, quite as much as the individualist theory that ran before it, is sure to stumble over a discrepancy between its set ideas and the actual facts of human nature; for it ignores the complexity of man’s being and all that that complexity means. And especially it ignores the soul of man and its supreme need of freedom, of the control also of his lower members, no doubt, -- for that is part of the total freedom towards which he is struggling, -- but of a growing self-control, not a mechanical regulation by the mind and will of others. Obedience too is a part of its perfection, but a free and natural obedience to a true guiding power and not to a mechanised government and rule. The collective being is a fact; all mankind may be regarded as a collective being: but this being is a soul and life, not merely a mind or a body. Each society develops into a sort of sub-soul or group-soul of this humanity and develops also a general temperament, character, type of mind, evolves governing ideas and tendencies that shape its life and its institutions. But the society has no discoverable common reason and will belonging alike to all its members; for the group-soul rather works out its tendencies by a diversity of opinions, a diversity of wills, a diversity of life,
and the vitality of the group-life depends largely upon the working of this diversity, its continuity, its richness. Since that is so, government by the organised State must mean always government by a number of individuals, -- whether that number be in theory the minority or the majority makes in the end little fundamental difference. For even when it is the majority that nominally governs, in fact it is always the reason and will of a comparatively few effective men -- and not really any common reason and will of all -- that rules and regulates things with the consent of the half-hypnotised mass.”
Examples of Communist Russia and National Socialist Germany
“This truth has come out with a startling force of self-demonstration in Communist Russia and National Socialist Germany, -- not to speak of other countries. The vehement reassertion of humanity’s need of a King crowned or uncrowned -- Dictator, Leader, Duce or Fuhrer -- and a ruling and administering oligarchy has been the last outcome of a century and a half of democracy as it has been too the first astonishing result of the supposed rise of the proletariate to power.”
Socialism and the trinity of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
Socialism and Totalitarianism
“This is indeed already the spirit, the social reason, -- or rather the social gospel, -- of the totalitarianism whose swelling tide threatens to engulf all Europe and more than
Europe. Totalitarianism of some kind seems indeed to be the natural, almost inevitable destiny, at any rate the extreme and fullest outcome of Socialism or, more generally, of the collectivist idea and impulse. For the essence of Socialism, its justifying ideal, is the governance and strict organisation of the total life of the society as a whole and in detail by its own conscious reason and will for the best good and common interest of all, eliminating exploitation by indivi-dual or class, removing internal competition, haphazard confusion and waste, enforcing and perfecting co-ordina-tion, assuring the best functioning and a sufficient life for all. If a democratic polity and machinery best assure such a working, as was thought at first, it is this that will be chosen and the result will be Social Democracy. That ideal still holds sway in northern Europe and it may there yet have a chance of proving that a successful collectivist rational-isation of society is quite possible. But if a non-democratic polity and machinery are found to serve the purpose better, then there is nothing inherently sacrosanct for the collectivist mind in the democratic ideal; it can be thrown in the rubbish-heap where so many other exploded sanctities have gone. Russian Communism so discarded with con-tempt democratic liberty and attempted for a time to substitute for the democratic machine a new sovietic structure, but it has preserved the ideal of a proletarian equality for all in a classless society. Still its spirit is a rigorous totalitarianism on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariate, which amounts in fact to the dictatorship of the Communist party in the name or on behalf of the proletariate. Non-proletarian totalitarianism goes farther and discards democratic equality no less than democratic liberty; it preserves classes -- for a time only, it may be, -- but as a
means of social functioning, not as a scale of superiority or a hierarchic order.”
Totalitarianism -- the suicide or the execution of the rational and intellectual expression of the Human Mental Being
“If this trend becomes universal, it is the end of the Age of Reason, the suicide or the execution by decapitation or lethal pressure, peine forte et durc, -- of the rational and intellectual expansion of the human mental being. Reason cannot do its work, act or rule if the mind of man is denied freedom to think or freedom to realise its thought by action in life. But neither can a subjective age be the outcome; for the growth of subjectivism also cannot proceed without plasticity, without movement of self-search, without room to move, expand, develop, change. The result is likely to be rather the creation of a tenebrous No Man’s Land where obscure mysticisms, materialistic, vitalistic or mixed, clash and battle for the mastery of human life.”
Will Totalitarianism occupy the globe?
“But this consummation is not certain; chaos and confusion still reign and all hangs in the balance. Totalitarian mysticism may not be able to carry out its menace of occupying the globe, may not even endure. Spaces of the earth may be left where a rational idealism can still survive. The terrible compression now exercised on the national mind and life may lead to an explosion from within or, on the other hand, having fulfilled its immediate aim may relax and give way in calmer times to a greater plasticity which will restore
to the human mind or soul a more natural line of progress, a freer field for their self-expanding impulse.
In that case the curve of the Age of Reason, now threatened with an abrupt cessation, may prolong and complete itself; the subjective turn of the human mind and life, avoiding a premature plunge into any general external action before it has found itself, may have time and freedom to evolve, to seek out its own truth, its own lines and so become ready to take up the spiral of the human social evolution where the curve of the Age of Reason naturally ends by its own normal evolution and make ready the ways of a deeper spirit.”