Friday, October 30, 2015

The Myth of Magna Carta, by Edward Jenks


by Edward Jenks

"MAGNA CARTA is then the first corporate act of the nation roused to the sense of its unity." "The nation in general, the people of the towns and villages, the commons of later days . . . had now thrown themselves on the side of the barons." "The people . . . for the first time since the Conquest ranged themselves on the side of the barons against the king."

These are the words, clear and unmistakeable, of a writer to whom every student of English history owes an incalculable debt, who combines great learning with sound judgment, who is, in fact, almost above praise, whose memory is one of the precious things of those who were privileged to sit at his feet. The view which the words express, though he did not found it, has passed into modern text-books written under his influence - has, in fact, become classical, accepted alike by scholars and laymen. Though, in a sense, but an abstract view, it cannot be regarded, surely, as of interest only to experts; for, if it be true, the grant of Magna Carta was an epoch in the national life, if it be untrue, the whole nation is being trained to take a distorted view of its own past.

Clear and unmistakeable are the words. They assert, that the Great Charter was the result, not of a class movement, still less of an accidental conspiracy, but of the united efforts of "the nation, the people of the towns and villages "-in fact, of all ranks in the community. The Charter was not merely won for "the people"; it was won by "the people," in conjunction, of course, with the barons and the prelates.

This is a momentous fact, if it be a fact. Happily, the evidence by which it must stand or fall, is neither obscure nor technical, and can be appreciated by the layman almost as well as by the historical expert. It is only necessary for us to put aside preconceived notions, and look at the testimony. All the beliefs of past generations cannot make a conclusion true, if the evidence does not warrant it.

Shall the expected word of apology here be said? By one at least, and he most entitled, we may be very sure that no apology would have been desired. In his clear zeal for the truth, the late Bishop of Oxford would have welcomed every honest questioning of his conclusions. Never was a writer whose works breathe a purer spirit of devotion to the light;- never one more patient of differing views, more earnest to foster the spirit of enquiry. Towards the writers who have reproduced his words, apology is less due; but it is freely offered. The general reader, impatient of attempts to disparage the equator, and incredulous of criticism, may be reminded, that other traditions, once very much accepted, have disappeared. Where is now the "folkland" of the Saxon nation? Where the " English Canon Law" of the days before the Reformation?

To come to the point. Till a few months ago, the writer held (and, it is to be feared, taught) the accepted view of Magna Carta,relying on the orthodox guides. A careful examination of the evidence, undertaken in discharge of a public duty, has slowly brought him to the conclusion, that there is no shadow of justification for the conventional doctrine —that in truth, Magna Carta was not (a) the work of the "nation " or the " people" in any reasonable sense of the term, nor (b] a landmark in constitutional progress, but (c) a positive nuisance and stumbling-block g to the generation which came after it. In other words, it is "Great" only as the caravan giant is great, not as Napoleon and Goethe were great. It is a bulky document.

(a) Now the first of these three contentions is partly a matter of evidence, partly a matter of inference. Needless to say, the Charter itself affords no direct evidence for the view that it was won by the united efforts of "the people." Though addressed "to all the king's faithful men," it expressly bears to have been granted on the counsel of twenty-seven persons named, every one of whom was a prelate, an earl, or (as the Charter itself puts it), a nobilis; and the formal addition of "other faithful men of ours" must, according to the well-known rule of ejusdem generis, be held to mean, other men of a similar rank. Moreover, the Charter entrusts the execution of itself to a committee of "barons of the kingdom"; and, when these are chosen, their names are seen, with the single exception of that of the Mayor of London (of whom more hereafter) to be of the bluest blood of the feudal and official aristocracy.

But, of course, our knowledge of the circumstances is not confined to the Charter itself. Like almost all historical events, it was the outcome of both general and special causes. The former are known to all students of history; the latter are detailed for us in the writings of some score of chroniclers, several of them strictly contemporary, others living within a generation of the events which they describe.

The general cause at work, the cosmic force behind the framers of the Charter, was jealousy of the growing power of the monarchy. The twelfth century had been an age of great rulers. Friedrich Barbarossa and Friedrich II in Germany, Philip Augustus in France, above all, Henry Fitz-Empress in England, had borne hardly upon feudal independence. The royal courts had tempted suitors away from the courts of the barony and the manor; the royal mints had threatened to abolish private coinage; the royal faces had been set like flints against the cherished right of private war. At the beginning of the twelfth century, the France of Louis the Fat had been a mere strip of land in the valley of the Seine and the Orleanais; at the beginning of the thirteenth, the iron hand of Philip Augustus ruled from Arras to Limoges, and from Burgundy to the rocks of Finisterre. As the twelfth century turned on its pivot, the English barons had been revelling in the licence which Stephen could not check; when the fourth quarter of the century was reached, they had known something of the "demon" power and serpentine cunning of Henry of Anjou. Above these earthly monarchs, gradually putting forward claims which, to the Europe of two centuries before, would have sounded fantastic, rose the mighty power of the Papacy, just now reaching its zenith in the person of Innocent III, "the greatest of all the successors of St. Peter." Innocent III is a name not unknown in connection with Magna Carta; and it is worth noting that, the moment his own claims are acknowledged by John, his heavy hand is laid in the scale in favour of the King. Small wonder that a class which cherished memories of the days when every baron was king on his own land, should regard with dismay this new condition of things, should seek for an opportunity of revolt.

The reign of John was its golden opportunity. Of doubtful title, more than suspected of parricide, defeated and disgraced in war, entangled in a quarrel with the Pope from which he could only extricate himself by a shameful surrender, the King seemed born to afford his barons the chance for which they pined. As if to insist on his own destruction, John must needs heap personal insults on the natural leaders of a baronial revolt. The tale of his evil deeds is too well known to need repetition. Doubtless he did not spare the common people, if they came in his way; but his choicest insults were reserved for the bishops and abbots, whose churches he defaced and whose wool he seized, and for the nobles, whose wives and daughters he boastfully dishonoured. What wonder that his magnates turned upon him?

All this is clear beyond measure in the chronicles. But of any popular rising against the King, not one word. Gervase of Canterbury, Walter of Coventry, Bartholomew Cotton, Roger of Wendover, Henry of Knighton, Ralph of Coggeshall, Matthew of Westminster, annalists of Burton, Margan, Tewkesbury, Winton, Waverley, Dunstable, Osney, Worcester - surely one of these would have had something to say of a popular rising? No. Everything is done by the "magnates," the "nobles," the "earls and barons," the proceres, the "knights"; it is almost impossible to reproduce the wearisome re-iteration of these terms by all the chroniclers. Not that these writers have any lack of words to describe the "people," when such is their desire. They can and do talk much of "burgesses," "husbandmen," "men of all sorts and conditions," "inhabitants." Sometimes these persons are being plundered, sometimes apologising to a legate for a hasty ebullition of lynching, sometimes hearing a charter read out by the sheriff. But of joining the baronial agitation, not one word. Much capital has been made out of the undoubted fact that London was long in the hands of the barons, and that its mayor was one of the executors of the Charter. But the actual accounts (especially that of Roger of Wendover), make it clear that the barons got possession of the city by a trick, through the connivance of a few of the wealthier citizens. The poorer sort were, in fact, for the King; and had to be roughly used to prevent them attacking the barons. One genuine "popular" rising the chroniclers do indeed show us, that of William, or Wilkin, in Sussex. And this was directed against the French allies of the barons. In fact, Matthew of Westminster seems to put the whole thing in a nutshell, when he describes the people of the eastern counties as being:

"miserably crushed as it were between two millstones rolling 1n reverse ways, to wit, the barons and the royalists."

Surely an odd way for national heroes to behave.

This curious omission on the part of the chroniclers did not fail to strike so thorough a student as Dr. Stubbs.

"That the historians have recorded less of the action of the third estate, is accounted for by the fact, that at this period, and from this period to the Reformation, the baronage acts as advocate for it." . . . . "We do not indeed find, in the list of those who forced the King to yield, any names that prove the commons to have been influential in drawing up the articles."

These are damaging admissions; and they do not stand alone in Dr. Stubbs' works. Whether the baronage really did "act as advocate" for the commons, may well be doubted. We must consider that question at the next stage. But, in any case, advocacy is not co-operation; and it is cooperation which Dr. Stubbs, in the passages quoted at the head of this article, has emphatically asserted, and which his followers, less cautious than he, have alleged in still wider terms. In fact, at one point, the Bishop of Oxford seems to have almost abandoned his main contention; for he admits that, in the stormy opening of the drama, during the years 1208-13, we notice

"the absence of anything like popular rebellion, and the postponement of the general rising to the end of the religious struggle."

And he elsewhere hints, that this submission was purchased, in the earlier stages of the struggle, by a suspension of general taxation. Without entirely admitting the soundness of the reason, we may well admit the truth of the fact. But, once more we ask, where is the evidence for the "general rising at the end of the religious struggle"? Why had the barons to fight for almost every town which they held? Why, when John had been beaten and disgraced, did Tonbridge, Belvoir, Rockingham, Berkhampstead, York, and Hertford fall again into his hands? Why were forty of the leading barons themselves at the point of surrender when John died? Of course everyone knows the cock-and-bull story of the alleged treachery of the French. But that brings us to a still more formidable objection. Why was it necessary for the barons to call in the French at all? Surely it was an odd step for a party which at first put the banishment of foreigners in the forefront of its programme? The answer to all these questions is simple and obvious. The baronial party had no popular feeling behind it. In fact, there is some evidence to show that such faint popular manifestation as appeared, was on the side of the king.

But let us pass from effort to achievement. Is the Charter a great landmark in history? Did it win liberties for the masses, for the "people of the towns and villages"? Is "the whole of the Constitutional History of England a commentary on this Charter"? Let us look at the Charter itself, and the demands of the barons, on which it was founded.

It is the fashion to put in the forefront of all accounts of these documents, their so-called "national" clauses, and to treat their "feudal" clauses (which can scarcely be ignored) as an unimportant tail-piece. That is hardly the way of the Charter itself; nor is it the plan which would naturally be followed by an impartial analyst. The Charter is usually divided into sixty-three clauses or articles. Of these, thirteen,(1) though important enough at the moment, are purely formal or temporary, and cannot possibly be "landmarks." They come at the end of the document, and their exclusion reduces the number of permanent clauses to fifty. Of these fifty clauses, twenty-two(2) are purely feudal, and they include twelve of the first sixteen articles of the Charter. Three (3) of the most famous of the remaining clauses concern "free men" only, about whom there will be a word to say. One clause (41) relates to merchants, one (13) to cities, two (1 and 22) guarantee clerical immunities. This leaves twenty-one (4) which may conceivably be of general application. We may summarize thus :—

Formal and temporary clauses . . . . 13

Purely feudal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

Free men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Merchants and cities . . . . . . . . . . . 2

The Church . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

General . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Total clauses in the Charter . . . . . . . 63

But we are really making an extravagant allowance, if we admit that all, or even the bulk, of the twenty-one "general" clauses were of real importance to the common man of the thirteenth (or any other) century. To the peasant of John's reign, it would make little difference that the "inquest of life and limb" could be freely had without payment, that he might freely go forth of and return to the realm (he who rarely went beyond his own village during his whole life), that Common Pleas should not follow the King, that justices, sheriffs, and bailiffs should be learned in the law, that the writ of Praecipe should no longer be granted to the detriment of feudal claims, that the measure of London should be the standard of ale and barley. What did he care about these things? What the peasant of the thirteenth century desired, was, that he should not be tallaged at his lord's caprice, that his services should be fixed, that he should have a remedy for unjust eviction, that he might take his labour to another lord if he wished, that he might send his son to school, and marry his daughter without payment of a fine. There is no word in the Charter or the Articles to secure him these rights. The Londoners obtained the insertion in the Articles of a clause about borough tallage; but it did not appear in the Charter, its place being taken by a meaningless confirmation of "existing liberties and free customs." But it is when we look at the Charter from the point of view of class distinction that we see how hollow is the claim of constitutional progress. The result of analysis is crushing. Six social classes are expressly mentioned by the Charter as recipients of rights, viz., earls and barons (among whom we may include the great ecclesiastics), knights, "free men" (liberi homines), clerics, merchants, villeins. Putting aside the "general" clauses, which may be assumed to benefit all alike, we may count up the number of rights accorded to each of these classes. Stated, for the sake of clearness, in tabular form, the figures are somewhat startling. We find that :—

To the earls and barons are guaranteed . . . . 12 rights (5)

To the knights . . . . . . . . . . . 11 rights (6)

To the "free men" . . . . . . . . . 4 rights (7)

To the lower clergy is guaranteed . . . . . 1 right (8)

To the merchants and burgesses are guaranteed . . . 3 rights (9)

To the villeins is guaranteed . . . . . 1 right (10)

This proportion is painfully suggestive of Falstaff's celebrated ratio between sack and bread.

We cannot, of course, get exact figures; but, according to Sir Henry Ellis' well-known estimate of the Domesday returns, the number of villeins (11) was, in 1086, quite four-fifths of the whole population; and there is small reason to suppose that it was much less in 1215. In fact, few historians will care to dispute that, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the vast majority of the dwellers in England were peasants, or that (to quote the high authority of Professor Vinogradoff) "the majority of the peasants are villeins." If to these we add the lower clergy, the merchants and the burgesses, we include all classes that can, by any fair use of the term, be called "popular"; and it would be a moderate estimate to reckon the total of these at five-sixths of the entire male population. If we were to reckon in the women and children dependent on them, we should, of course, get a higher proportion still. But what becomes of the "national" character of a document which guarantees five special rights to five-sixths of the so-called "nation," and twenty-seven to the remaining insignificant minority?

But here we touch what the writer firmly believes to be the great secret of the false glamour which invests Magna Carta. Three well-known clauses confer important rights upon the "free man" (liber homo); and a very natural confusion of ideas has-created the belief, that this highly favoured person corresponds to the "simple freeman" of Teutonic legend, the "man in the street" of the modern Press. German scholars have even invented a special name for him - the gemeinfrei, or common freeman. Unhappily for this pleasing theory, the wording of the Charter itself renders it quite untenable. From that excellent source we learn certainly what the liber homo was not, and can shrewdly guess what he was. He was neither earl, baron, nor knight; but he certainly was not cleric, merchant, or villein, for the Charter draws, in three successive clauses,(12) an elaborate distinction between him and them.

As to what he was, it is not quite so clear. But he shared the aristocratic privilege of - trial by "peers" (clause 39), he had a "contenement" (clause 20), and held a court (clause 34). Now, unfortunately, we cannot be quite sure what a contenementum was, though no less a person than Selden, in after years, thought it meant the estate of a knight or baron. But we may be fairly sure, that the man who held a court, in the England of the thirteenth century, was more free than common. Strange things have been said of the English peasant of the later Middle Ages, but never yet that he rebelled against the King for interfering with his judicial dignity. In truth, the famous 39th clause, which protects the liber homo against seizure, imprisonment, disseisin, outlawry, exile, destruction, and attack by the King, was no magnificent declaration of the rights of the common man; it was simply a recognition of the privileges of an aristocratic class, a class of landowners, who, though not technically "feudal," can no more be ranked amongst "the people," than can the country gentleman of to-day.

But the third, and, perhaps, the heaviest charge against the Charter is, that it was a positive stumbling block in the path of progress. Throughout it aims at consecrating that feudal organisation of society which, happily for the nation, was so soon to pass away. It has elsewhere been pointed out, by an accurate and cool-headed writer, that the rhetorical promises upon which its fame so largely rests were, for all practical purpose valueless. It would be difficult to show how it secured the "freedom of the Anglican Church." To most observers it would seem, that that Church does not, even now, enjoy any very great measure of freedom - in the sense, at least, in which the word was understood in 1215. "To none will we sell, to none deny or delay, right or justice." It does not require much knowledge of the history of English Law to realise the hollowness of that promise. "It shall be lawful to every one to go forth of the realm" (except in time of war). But what about the writ ne exeat regno, and the licence long required for travel? The famous "constitutional" clauses, which are often referred to as guaranteeing the right of Parliamentary taxation, will not bear the test of reading; for it is clear now (1) that they refer only to feudal burdens, (2) that they contemplate a purely feudal assembly, and (3) that, happily for future progress, they disappeared from the Charter immediately after the death of John.

But it is not so generally realised, that some of the clauses of the Charter (and these not the least famous) are positively re-actionary, and would, had they been observed, have hampered seriously the progress of the next generation. By abolishing the writ of Praecipe (clause 34), the barons hoped to secure that darling treasure of feudal independence, the monopoly of the manorial courts in suits concerning land. Happily, the clause was evaded, but only at the cost of cumbrous and costly fictions, which disgraced English legal procedure for six centuries. The claim to "trial by peers" was long supposed, by a curious freak of ignorance, to guarantee that "palladium of British liberties," trial by jury. As a matter of fact, it delayed indefinitely the adoption of that wholesome reform; and it is responsible, among other things, for the absurdities of the recent Russell case. The consecration of the lord's claim to the forfeiture of a felon's lands, for centuries worked a cruel injustice to the children of convicts, already, one would suppose, unfortunate enough; and many another oppressive feudal claim obtained a renewed lease of life from the clauses of the Charter. To suppose, in fact, that the barons who claimed the right, in the court of Philip Augustus, of disposing of the crown of England at their absolute discretion, were anxious to share their power with the people whom they plundered and taxed, is to make too great a demand on human credulity. The baronial leaders of 1215 had the inestimable advantage of fighting against a King who seemed determined, on every possible occasion, to put himself in the wrong; and they were not unwilling to strengthen their case by rhetorical flourishes about popular rights. But that they really intended to take the people into partnership, there is no scrap of evidence to show.(13)

Finally, it is often triumphantly pointed out, that the Charter was re-issued no less than thirty-eight times, now on the mere volition of the royal advisers, now on the demand of reformers. The fact is admitted; but the inference appears strange. Why was it necessary to insist on the repeated confirmation of the Charter? Obviously, because it failed to do its work. At first it was firmly believed that this result was due to the violation of its provisions by the royal advisers. It was natural for an unlettered generation, mere children in the ways of political freedom, to take that view. But we, reading the long and stormy reign of John's son in the light of later experience, can see that they were wrong. The cunning favourites of Henry were very careful to observe the letter of the law, just as were the unworthy Ministers of Charles, four centuries later. At last the truth began to dawn upon that really national party, which the evils of Henry's reign slowly brought into existence. The demand for the Charter is still raised; but chiefly as an ancient and stirring battle cry. It is perceived that the Charter is not enough. It consecrates the past, not the future. It leaves the King in full possession of his feudal claim to exact tallage, it leaves him free to invent new taxes, it makes no provision for national representation, it allows the Ministers of State to be selected purely by royal caprice. The entire break with the past attempted by the Reformers at the Parliament of Oxford in 1258, shows that at last this truth was realised; and, from that time, the demand for the Charter becomes a matter of form. The scheme of 1258 was too revolutionary; it succeeded only for a moment. But, in the long reign of Edward Longshanks, the compromise between King and people was slowly worked out, until, at its end, our scheme of government assumed the shape which it preserved, save for brief intervals, till the Revolution of 1688. But it was not the Charter which brought about this result. All the happy changes which we associate with the name of Edward - the creation of a national Parliament, the renunciation of the irregular taxes, free trade in land, the perpetual Peace of the King, the right of the subject to remedy against the royal officials, the Concordat between Church and State, the organisation of the Coast Guard, the reform of the Exchequer - all these were the work of men who were unborn, or in their cradles, when the Charter was signed at Runnymede. And the very vice, not of the Charter itself, but of the literary adulation which in later years grew up around it, is, that it turns the eyes of the Englishman away from a period full of real interest and abundant suggestion, to fix them upon a melodramatic and somewhat tawdry scene in a turgid and unwholesome drama. John, and William Marshall, and even Stephen Langton, are not to be mentioned in the same breath with Edward, and Robert Burnell, and Winchelsey. The scene before Westminster Hall, on the 14th July, 1297, when the great King, thwarted in his skilful plans by the selfish quibbles of his barons, cast himself passionately upon the support of his people, and received from them equally passionate expressions of their trust and love, is a far nobler subject for a national poet or painter, than the hollow truce at Runnymede, when a conspiracy of self-seeking and reckless barons j wrung from a worthless monarch the concession of feudal , privileges, which he never for one moment intended to observe.

In truth it does not require much historical knowledge to discover the real author of the Myth of Magna Carta. He was a man whose lot was cast in troublous times, amid the angry mutterings of that coming struggle which was to light the torch of civil war in England. Deeply pledged to the popular side in that struggle, he cast into it all the weight of his profound if somewhat undigested learning, and his powerful if somewhat unscrupulous intellect. It was an age in which historical discoveries were received with credulity, in which the canons of historical criticism were yet unformulated. Doubtless, more than one of Coke's contemporaries (John Selden, for example) must have had a fairly shrewd idea that Coke was mingling his politics with his historical research. But, for the most part, those competent to criticise Coke's research were of his way of thinking in politics, and did not feel called upon to quarrel with their own supporter. Zeal for historical truth is apt to pale before the fiercer flame of zeal for political victory. It is a tribute to Coke's character and ability, that he imposed his ingenious but unsound historical doctrines, not only on an uncritical age, but on succeeding ages which deem themselves critical. It is not, perhaps, altogether a testimony to the industry and acumen of a generation which might well be impartial in such matters, that the legend invented by Coke has been so long allowed to pass current as the gospel of history.

Edward Jenks


(1) Nos. 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63. (I quote from the well-known edition in Stubbs' Select Charters.)

(2) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 21, 26, 29, 31, 32, 34, 37, 43, 46, 47.

(3) 27, 30, 39.

(4) 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 28, 33, 35, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 45, 48, 54, 60.

(5) (1) Fixed "reliefs," (2) protection against abuses of guardianship, (3) fit marriages for infant heirs, (4) protection to widows, (5) protection of land from debts, (6) fixed aids and sentages, (7) fixed services, (8) assessment of fines by "peers," (9) freedom of taxation, (10) forfeitures of felon tenants' lands, (11) wardship of tenants' heirs, (12) custody of vacant abbeys which they have founded.

(6) All the, above except (9) and (12), and, in addition, liberty to do castle guard in person, instead of paying money equivalent.

(7) (1) Moderate fines assessed by the "neighbourhood," (2) no seizure of goods on intestacy, (3) freedom from compulsory cartage, (4) trial by "peers."

(8) Freedom of benefices from fines,

(9) (1) Ancient liberties and customs, (2) moderate fines assessed by " neighbourhood," (3) freedom of trade.

(10) Moderate fines assessed by "neighbourhood."

(11) Including the still humbler ranks of cotarii, berdarii, &c., who certainly could claim nothing that the villeins could not claim.

(12) 20, 21, 22.

(13) 12, 14.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

True Socialist Methods - Reform Movements Fail

One of the most fascinating things, I think, about the history of progressivism, is the convincing of Revolutionaries that rejecting the revolution and accepting Evolutionary Socialism is the better way forward. Tied in with this, is the timeline of when it all occurred. In 1910, in "A Talk with the Richest Socialist in America", the following was a part of the discussion:

True Socialist Methods

"What," I asked, "would be true Socialist methods?"

The millionaire who would abolish all those methods by which most millionaires have been created in this country opened his big eyes (which had for a long time, been closed), and smiled.

"The true Socialistic methods? Why to say to the present owners of the industries, as the American patriots said to King George and his favorites:

"'You have taxed us long enough, you have asserted the right of owner-ship long enough, now we repudiate these alleged rights utterly. From this date we will permit mine of our product to be diverted to you, for we have paid you, over and over again, for any service any of you have rendered in any capacity, We shall stop further payment from this date, You have been paid in full, We will forgive you for the wrongs which you have done to us; we will ask tits recompense from you for all the robberies you have inflicted on us; but, hereafter, we will use the money capital which we ourselves provided, and the buildings and machinery which we ourselves have made, and the tracks which our own hands have laid. An of us 'who have participated in the, creation of these necessary implements of labor have paid whatever debts we owed you (if we ever owed you any debt), long, long ago; these are now ours by right. You may keep your title deeds and your certificates of stock, but we will keep the premises.'"

Strange doctrines for a man of wealth, for an offshoot of a Knicker-bocker family?

Reform Movements Fail.

"Do the reform movements which are everywhere being heralded through-out the country help toward Social-ism?" I inquired.

"They fall short of satisfying me," was the astonishing young man's reply. "Honest administration of public affairs, honest use of city resources, financial and otherwise, for dealing with city employes - all these are necessary, but they might all be realized and leave us in a state far from ideal."

The progressive movement and the socialist movements would not become joined at the hip until the 20's/30's. Its also interesting to note the attempt to distort what was said to King George, And make it seem as if paychecks amount to some sort of payments for a debt when they don't. But most importantly, he isn't having reformism.

There's three major things(probably more) that made the socialists more interested in merging with the progressives:

1) The first Red Scare. It should never be forgotten that it was progressives who conducted the original red scare against communists and socialists.

2) Wilson's railroad nationalization. Since the progressives had moved so far as to be willing to accept full nationalization, why not merge with them?

3) The opening of the 1920's. By the 20's, the word socialism had become a dirty word. So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. They had to go somewhere. Welcome to the new and improved progressivism.

Besides the revolution, what the progressives believed and what the socialists believed were virtually identical, only a small laundry list of differences was present. Why not join? There would also be some communists that had made their way into the movement, but they were still largely considered to be the crazy uncle in the attic, this was only a progressive and socialist movement at this time. Full scale merging with communism wouldn't happen until the 60's.

As an aside, I would note the tone of this article, even in 1910. I couldn't imagine the New York Times interviewing a Tea Partier with this much friendliness. An interview as such would be full of angst and loaded questions to distort all answers, before they were given and afterwards. Just goes to show you where the Times was at, even in 1910.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Menace of Individual Liberty

In "The American Conception of Liberty and Government", Frank Johnson Goodnow wrote the following: (page 21)
The political philosophy of the eighteenth century was formulated before the announcement and acceptance of the theory of evolutionary development. The natural rights doctrine presupposed almost that society was static or stationary rather than dynamic or progressive in character, it was generally believed at the end of the eighteenth century that there was a social state which under all conditions and at all times would be absolutely ideal. The rights which man had were believed to come from his Creator. These rights consequently were the same then as they once had been and would always remain the same. Natural rights were in theory thus permanent and immutable. Natural rights being conceived of as eternal and immutable, the theory of natural rights did not permit of their amendment in view of a change in conditions.

The actual rights which at the close of the eighteenth century were recognized were, however, as a matter of fact influenced in large measure by the social and economic conditions of the time when the recognition was made. Those conditions have certainly been subjected to great modifications. The pioneer can no longer rely upon himself alone. Indeed with the increase of population and the conquest of the wilderness the pioneer has almost disappeared. The improvement in the means of communication, which has been one of the most marked changes that have occurred, has placed in close contact and relationship once separated and unrelated communities. The canal and the railway, the steamship and the locomotive, the telegraph and the telephone, we might add the motor car and the aeroplane, have all contributed to the formation of a social organization such as our forefathers never saw in their wildest dreams. The accumulation of capital, the concentration of industry with the accompanying increase in the size of the industrial unit and the loss of personal relations between employer and employed, have all brought about a constitution of society very different from that which was to be found a century and a quarter ago.

Changed conditions, it has been thought, must bring in their train different conceptions of private rights if society is to be advantageously carried on. In other words, while insistence on individual rights may have been of great advantage at a time when the social organization was not highly developed, it may become a menace when social rather than individual efficiency is the necessary prerequisite of progress. For social efficiency probably owes more to the common realization of social duties than to the general insistence on privileges based on individual private rights. As our conditions have changed, as the importance of the social group has been realized, as it has been perceived that social efficiency must be secured if we are to attain and retain our place in the field of national competition which is practically coterminous with the world, the attitude of our courts on the one hand towards private rights and on the other hand towards social duties has gradually been changing. The general theory remains the same. Man is still said to be possessed of inherent natural rights of which he may not be deprived without his consent. The courts still now and then hold unconstitutional acts of legislature which appear to encroach upon those rights. At the same time the sphere of governmental action is continually widening and the actual content of individual private rights is being increasingly narrowed.

Today's progressives will not speak the truth about who they are, they are all wearing masks. But the old original progressives were alarmingly honest. That's when/why they learned to wear masks in the first place.

That's why we need to hear from the original progressives. But at the same time, "quotes" like this make clear why the original progressives are not really quotable. There aren't nearly as many 10 word or 20 word pull quotes, where one can show the ill intent that these people have towards us.

The danger of progressivism is the culture. And when we read the original progressives, it is frightening indeed. These are exactly the people that the Founding Fathers tried to protect us against.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

James Madison's argument against wealth redistribution

Its not uncommon for a progressive to rattle off the phrase "The Founders could not have foreseen" - and fill in the blank. The Founders couldn't have forseen x, they couldn't have foreseen y, and so it goes. Well, Mr. Progressive they did foresee you and your tyrannical schemes. This is illustrated by James Madison himself, at the Convention on June 26th, 1787:
We cannot however be regarded even at this time, as one homogeneous mass, in which every thing that affects a part will affect in the same manner the whole. In framing a system which we wish to last for ages, we shd. not lose sight of the changes which ages will produce. An increase of population will of necessity increase the proportion of those who will labour under all the hardships of life, & secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings. These may in time outnumber those who are placed above the feelings of indigence. According to the equal laws of suffrage, the power will slide into the hands of the former. No agrarian attempts have yet been made in in this Country, but symtoms, of a leveling spirit, as we have understood, have sufficiently appeared in a certain quarters to give notice of the future danger. How is this danger to be guarded agst. on republican principles? How is the danger in all cases of interested coalitions to oppress the minority to be guarded agst.? Among other means by the establishment of a body in the Govt. sufficiently respectable for its wisdom & virtue, to aid on such emergences, the preponderance of justice by throwing its weight into that scale. Such being the objects of the second branch in the proposed Govt.

When Madison talks about the "leveling spirit", he's talking about socialism. Back in the days of the Founding Fathers, those who would use government to reach into your back pocket had not yet decided to call themselves 'socialists'. They called themselves "levellers". As in, levelling the playing field, levelling people's incomes, levelling the amount of materialistic wants in everybody's house. Socialism.

Madison also specifically asks how to protect against this danger since it is so much a threat to any system that they wanted to "last for the ages". That's very forward thinking. Our Founders did not want government reaching into Peter's pocket for the lone/express purpose of giving to Paul. Paul did not earn that, so he should not get it. As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, that sort of activity is tyrannical. Taking that which is not yours is tyrannical.

He was right to worry about this sort of tyranny. Where we are at now, people no longer "secretly sigh" for government to equally distribute people's earnings. They openly proclaim that government should take, and take plenty.

Progressives should not be allowed to get away with casting this as something new. Wealth redistribution - tyranny - is older than liberty. These are not the "new ideas" that they proclaim to be the heralds of.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Trend Toward Collectivism, by Walter Rauschenbusch

The Trend Toward Collectivism

Prof. Walter Rauschenbusch of Rochester, New York, author of "Christianity and the Social Crisis," spoke before the City Club at luncheon, Saturday, April 13, on "The Trend Toward Collectivism in the Modern World," Mr. Harry F. Ward presided.

HARRY F. WARD: "We are to listen today to a discussion of one of the most significant movements in modern society, the movement toward the collective control of life. We have been driven into a social consciousness. We are developing a social conscience, and in the realm of government, of industry and of religion the very vital question is, how we are going to express this in social action. The man who is going to address us is qualified to speak on this topic, not simply as a student, but as one who has long and patiently observed the social movement at first hand. He has for years been intimate with the needs of the industrial group. He is the author of a book which is recognized in Europe as one of the few vital books which have been produced in this country and in our generation. Among his fellow ministers of all denominations he is not without that honor which is sometimes accorded to prophets. I have great pleasure in introducing to you Professor Walter Rauschenbusch, of Rochester, New York." (Applause.)

Prof. Walter Rauschenbusch

"My subject is to be the trend toward collectivism. I suppose most of you will regard 'collectivism' simply as a disguise for socialism. Socialism is traveling around the country in very many disguises. Many of the men who believe in it most heartily are afraid of using the word. One of the most prominent magazine writers and lecturers on the subject recently told me that he avoided using the word altogether, because as soon as he said 'socialism,' people regarded him as an atheist, a believer in free love, an enemy of the family, and a destroyer of the state. He used 'collectivism' or 'industrial democracy' or 'the new nationalism,' or any old thing, because it was bound to work out toward socialism anyhow.

"A friend of mine told me of a conversation with a man who visited him and was constantly using a certain objectionable and very emphatic monosyllable that some of you may be acquainted with by reputation. My friend, who is a Presbyterian elder, remonstrated with him for using that word so constantly. He replied that he was trying to rehabilitate it in polite society. I am afraid it is just about as hopeful to rehabilitate that word as it is to rehabilitate the word ‘socialism.’

"But I am really not trying to dodge the use of that word. I mean by 'collectivism' something larger than 'socialism' usually means. Socialism, in its organized form, seems to me to be only one section of a far larger movement, and that larger movement I want to designate today by the word 'collectivism,' not because that is the ordinary use of the word, but simply in order to have an algebraic symbol for something we want to express.

"I believe in the utility of organized socialism and of the socialist party. I am not a member of it, but I am glad that it is in existence, and if I were a devout Republican or Democrat - which I am not - I would wish, for the sake of my own party, that there might be a strong socialist minority party in every legislature, in congress and in all local boards of aldermen, etc. That would be a very powerful stimulus to the old parties to make for righteousness. They would suddenly sit up and take notice, I think, if they found even half a dozen good, vigorous, intelligent socialists to stand by and look on over their shoulders while they were doing business; and so far from desiring the failure of socialism, I think it is a good, thing that it is coming on. It will have a purifying influence in our national life. And yet I regard socialism much as the powerful midstream current of a large river. The river carries a far larger bulk of water and yet is swiftest in midstream. Socialism is the dogmatic, definite, clear, intelligent comprehension of this general trend, frequently in an exaggerated and dogmatic form, but the trend itself is far larger.

What Collectivism Is

"My proposition this afternoon is that we are all moving in the direction of what I would call 'collectivism.' By collectivism I mean emphasis on public welfare and public rights, rather than private welfare and private rights, and a desire to increase the amount of public property as against private property. All constructive proposals today are tending to increase the movement of public ownership and of public functions. All public-spirited movements are working in the same direction. There is a curious unanimity of instinct running through the entire civilized world making in that direction. It raises a kind of presumption of historical destiny.

"The oldest achievements of civilization have gradually passed into public ownership. For instance, public roads and streets and bridges were, to a large extent, at one time under private ownership. Many of us recollect the toll roads of early days in our own country. Toll bridges owned by private corporations were also common. They have now become generally publicly owned. The fire-fighting apparatus which is now everywhere part of the public equipment used to be a private affair. In ancient Rome private corporations used to extinguish fires. When a fire broke out in ancient Rome, the fire-fighters would offer to extinguish it at so much, and the owner of the place had a chance to make a dicker with them while the fire was making rapid progress. The bigger the fire got the higher their rates. I commend that to all who believe in capitalism as a lost chance for making profit. Something of the kind existed in England not long ago. The public organization for fighting fire is of comparatively recent origin. The courts likewise used to be under private control, to a large extent. The nobles of England and of France used to have the right of justification and it was a lucrative source of profit to them. Justice was a profit-making enterprise. Warfare, likewise, used to be a very lucrative source of income and a private appurtenance. Nobles of even comparatively low rank had the right to make war and plunder and keep all that they could get. You can see how desirable that would be. Warfare now has become a collective undertaking. It is reserved to the people at large. Government itself used to be a private concern. Private individuals did the governing and made what they could out of it. Today, through democracy, governing has come a public and collective undertaking.

Collective Basis of Education

"In recent times some other large enterprises have become of a collective nature; for instance, our public schools. Private educational undertakings have narrowed down and public education has become one of the great collective undertakings of modern society. Our public schools are constantly increasing their functions and the insistency with which they enter into public life. Our post-office system is fortunately a collective undertaking, thanks to the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin. We have to thank him for placing in the midst of our privately-owned institutions one great institution of collective ownership, the post-office. It is also partly a banking concern.

"Our museums and public libraries are also public and collective undertakings; parks and playgrounds likewise; hospitals and baths in many cases. Our water supply in most American cities, I think, is now publicly owned, and while there may be some dissatisfaction where there is public ownership of the water supply, usually the public has a ready means of redress. On the other hand where the water supply is in the hands of private corporations, there is usually a good deal of disregard for public health. Wherever any little nucleus of public ownership of that kind exists there is a desire to expand it; just as in the crystallizing of ice a small particle of ice will become the nucleus for further crystallizing.

"I would like to raise this question: Wherever public ownership has become well established, has secured a backing in the community and has habituated itself in the social life, is there any desire to go back of it ? There is today, for instance, some criticism of the post-office; but if there were a referendum of the whole people of the United States would they vote that the post-office should be turned over to any one of the express companies ? Wherever public functions are exercised by private corporations there is always chronic dissatisfaction running through the community. On the other hand, where public ownership has become well established the public always has a direct means of redress in case there is cause for complaint. That fact is, I think, a great historical verdict in favor of collectivism.

The European Movement

"Other countries have gone much further than we in the direction of expandng the area of collective ownership. In Europe, as many of you know, in many cities and countries, gas, electric light, electric power, the telegraph system, the telephone system, the parcels post, railways, theaters, opera houses, are all comprised within the area of collective ownership, and the people there would not think of going back of it. In those points where European civic life is superior to ours, as for instance in the well-ordered and beautiful German cities, it is usually due to the fact that there is a far larger area of collective undertaking and collective enterprise than there is with us.

"In our country additional undertakings have been forced upon us within recent years, through the very largeness that was necessary in them. For instance, irrigating the waste lands of the west necessarily had to be a public undertaking. The Panama Canal, likewise, had to be undertaken by public enterprise, and you all know what a nest of public functions has sprng up around that canal. The boarding houses and hotels and public pleasure resorts there are run by our government, and on the whole it is well done. The subways in some of our large cities are likewise constructed with public capital. When a thing is done collectively it can be planned long ahead and there will be no duplication of the undertaking. The canal system in Germany is a remarkable illustration of the efficiency of public planning. One canal will hitch in with the other. The canal system in Germany co-operates with the railway systems; both are publicly owned, both linked together. The heavier freights are carried on the canals by water and the lighter freights are carried by the railroads. In our own country the publicly owned canals are in competition with the privately owned railroads, and each tries to hold the other down. For instance, the Erie Canal in the State of New York exists largely as a safety valve for the people, as a means of keeping down freight rates, and we have to keep up that expensive canal in part for that purpose. The railroads, on the other hand, have succeeded in holding down the improvement of the Erie Canal, because if it were too efficient it would be too dangerous to them. So, instead of having co-operation between these two great systems of transportation, we have some degree of competition, which is hostile to the efficiency of either of them.

The Control of Public Health

The necessities of public health have also tended to increase the scope of public ownership. When we own our water supply we also have to look after the sanitary character of the watersheds connected with the water supply, and are compelled to lay some restriction upon the wide areas from which our large cities draw their water.

"In England they have come to the point, of laying a very vigorous hand on the tenement houses of the large cities in the interest of public health. A number of large English cities have torn out entire sections of the city, tearing down the unsanitary tenements and constructing new streets of a fine and sanitary character in the interest of the public health.

"The time is coming when our American municipalities, too, will have to go further in the direction of collective ownership in order to protect the health of our citizens, for instance, in caring for the sanitary character of milk and ice supply. Ice has become so necessary a part of life in our modern cities, under present conditions, that it ought not to be tolerated that the price of ice be fixed by a monopoly. Coal also. There is no competition in the coal prices in our cities, is there? Do you have competition between individual dealers so far as ice and coal are concerned? In Rochester the price of coal is fixed for the dealer. The individual dealer would go below it at his peril. His supply of coal would be withheld from him by the large concerns from which he has to buy. A situation of that kind is contrary to the public welfare. A cheap supply of coal, a cheap supply of ice, are necessary for the public health and public welfare under modern conditions.

"In Germany it is one of the demands of the Socialist party that drug stores shall be run on behalf of the public and drugs sold at cost price. There is a great deal to recommend that to the mind of any one who knows about the adulteration of drugs in America. Some of the most necessary drugs, like anti-toxin and vaccine, at present are furnished by municipalities.

"There are other directions in which collectivism is extending its scope which might, perhaps, conceal themselves from our eyes. For instance, as you all know, there is a strong movement, not only in our country but in England and in Germany, to put an increased taxation on land values. We are familiar with the program of the Single Taxers. That, too, is a collectivist movement. It is supposed to be the extreme of individualism, but really it is collectivism, because it tends to put the hand of the people on a great source of wealth which is produced by public improvements and which, at present goes to private persons. This movement proposes to take some share of that wealth, if not the whole of it, for public purposes, and so far it is a movement of collectivism. In fact, wherever there is an appropriation of unearned incomes or a larger taxation on large incomes, we have a tendency toward collectivism. Wherever there is a monopoly in Europe of liquor, of tobacco, of salt, of matches, for the purpose of raising public revenue, they have collectivism for public income.

Private and Public Insurance

"Our insurance system is a form of collectivism. Life insurance, fire insurance, is an arrangement for binding together a great number of people in a common interest in such a way that when one of them is smitten by disaster, by fire, by accident, by death, the rest of them will come to his relief. No matter if they are organized fraternally and privately, it is nevertheless a form of collectivism. But in recent years we have become aware of the fact that private insurance extends its advantages to but a limited number of people. It is practically unavailable to the large number of working people who need it most. Industrial insurance, so-called, seems to me a flat failure in our country. It is so fearfully expensive that it returns to the working man very little for what he puts into it. Our private insurance companies do not seem to have been capable of devising a satisfactory system for the poor man who needs insurance most. On that account, Germany, England and France are working in the direction of compulsory insurance, which is under- taken by the state and extends the system of insurance to a far larger number. Insurance can be made cheap when it is made universal for the entire working class. Compulsory nation-wide insurance represents a collective system of savings.

"The same thing, is true in regard to pensions. Wherever you have pensions you have collectivism. The pensions of our soldiers and public officers, like the police, are a collective system of having society care for individuals in the time of their need. As you know, the pension system is making rapid headway. In England, everybody over seventy, without adequate income, can draw $1.25 per week. In our own country it is coming not by government agency, but by the undertaking of large corporations, who are beginning to care for their employees in their old age; but that is Collectivism also.

Cooperative Enterprise in Europe

"The large extension of voluntary co-operative enterprises in modern life is well known to you. The extent of co-operation in European countries is astonishing to Americans. Co-operative stores are a great economic fact in England, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany. In our own country we have made little progress in voluntary co-operation. Perhaps one of the chief causes is that we have not yet learned to economize. We do not yet bother about small savings. We are prodigal. But I wonder whether the present era of high prices will not lead to an extension of co-operative buying in our own country. If I were a rich man and had leisure and capital and public spirit I think that is one of the lines of effort that I should go into. I should put my capacity for organization into the service of the people in order to organize and make effective and productive co-operative enterprises. That would immediately react on the entire community. Collective buying and selling would be one of the best means of keeping down artificially high prices.

"One line of collective influence which, perhaps, has escaped us is the influence of collective intelligence on the improvement of farming in our country. Within recent years there has been a very remarkable advance in the application of science to farming. That is not due to the enterprise of the individual farmer who has personally made chemical examination of soils or experimented on the production of better seeds. This stimulating influence in agriculture has been due to collective agencies. The granges have been organs of collective life. The government experimental stations, government distribution of literature, government supervision and distribution of seed, have been collective undertakings in which private profit was no element and this has been able to stimulate a great many individuals in the direction of greater intelligence and economy in their farming operations. Here, then, we have an interesting case where collectivism has, to some degree, invaded what is still the bulwark of private enterprise, firming. Farming has not yet advanced far in the direction of collective undertaking, as modem industry has. It is still left in the main to the individual farmer that has 160 acres. Yet collective intelligence has stimulated these many individuals.

Collectivism in Private Business

"In profit-making industries, too, there is an underground tendency toward collectivism in the aggregation of economic forces, in the increase of large undertakings in industry. Isn't that a form of collectivism, too ? Men no longer produce alone, by themselves, each in his own little shop. A tremendous number of people combine to produce and to finance enterprises. Our great corporations are collectively financed; they are collectively operated. About the only thing that seems to be private still is the dividends, and in them, too, there is now a tendency to make them more collective through methods of industrial co-operation, co-partnership, profit-sharing, and other enterprises of that kind, so that a larger number of men share in the income of the undertaking as well as in the work of it.

"We are learning how to run these larger enterprises. Collective labor has gradually become a social acquisition. What formerly was accomplished by the enterprise of a few great pioneers has now become the common possession of the great mass. You will remember the infancy of the department stores some thirty or forty years ago, how small and narrow they were; yet it took an able business man to run such a store. Now the running of a concern of that kind has become a social acquisition. Men of lower ability can do it. Just as in flying. A few years ago but a few people could fly ; now we see it becoming a social acquisition, like automobiling or bicycling. In time babies will be born with a knowledge of how to steer. So the running of great enterprises is becoming instinctive with Americans.

"Our great corporations and business houses are doing all that they can to cultivate the collective spirit among their employees. They are brought together at suppers and in other ways, and they learn to develop a spirit of fraternity and good will which makes them a part of the great industrial organization. The demand for the recognition of the trades unions is working in the same way. If the coal miners should now put the demand through of having their unions recognized, that would be a long extension of the conception of collective ownership. They would then enter into a kind of recognized partnership with the corporations that own the coal mines. It would, of course, be putting only one foot inside of the door, but the other foot would follow some time.

"In the degree in which our industry is being organized on a large scale competition is necessarily being shelved. Our great captains of industry are, all of them, heretics against the old principle of laissez-faire. They do not believe in it any more. They have all, with one accord, given their hearts to the idea of co-operation, though they do not all know it. Of course, when competition ceases, there is immediately a danger of monopoly, and the government, therefore, has to step in on behalf of the people in order to regulate it. The present inquisitiveness on the part of the government is simply one tendency in collectivism. It is an emphasis on the right of the common people in these great undertakings which have outgrown private ownership.

Where Will It Stop?

"Now, the question is will the government stop at that point ? Will it stop in simply investigating, inquiring, superintending, controlling, or will the tendency go further? Will it gradually come to the point of actually dominating and owning? I do not know, but it looks that way. Do you think that one hundred years from now we shall stand exactly where we now stand, with great corporations supervised and trimmed down a little by the government? Is not the present reaching out of the people toward direct legislation, toward a firmer clutch on the machinery of legislation, a kind of blind groping for collective power? Do the people intend merely to get hold of politics, or are they reaching out for something more than that? I think there is more behind. The people have an instinctive feeling that they must first get control of politics and then they will be able to control the business of the nation.

"About three years ago, when Mr. Roosevelt became contributing editor of the Outlook, Lyman Abbott published, in a very prominent position in the Outlook, the following sentences:

He is the most widely known representative of the present world-movement toward industrial democracy. Our object is to the industrial institutions of democracy into harmony with its political and educational institutions. Our resolve is that the money power in America, as its political and eduational power, shall come from the people, be exercised for the people and be controlled by the people.

"In other words, we ought to have as much democracy in our financial life as we now have in our educational and political life. Now I submit that that means collectivism.

The Trend of Thought

""In sizing up this whole movement we must also consider the trend of thought. You have, first of all, the great body of socialist conviction throughout the civilized nations, and any man would be a fool not to reckon with that. It is one of the great solid bodies of thought, unshakable. It is perfectly ridiculous, from the point of view of any student of history to suppose that that great movment will melt away again without accomplishing very large things in human society. How far it will go, how completely it will carry out its purposes, no man knows. I do not believe for a moment that it will accomplish all that it proposes to do. No great movement ever has done so, but this great body of opinion, of conviction, of almost religious enthusiasm, surely will do something for us before it gets through with us.

"Scientific economic thought is likewise away from private ownership and toward public control and public ownership. The idea of interference by the government seems to have lost some of its terrors since democracy has come in.

"The idealistic thinkers are almost with unanimity on the side of this movement toward collectivism. The artists, the great literary leaders of our time all have tended that way. Yesterday I was in one of your great public institutions, and in one room there were four remarkable pictures of great men. They were Carlyle, Ruskin, William Morris, Tolstoi. Now, these men represent very different tendencies in thought. Tolstoi was an anarchist, not a socialist, and yet all four of them stood for the tendency of collectivism.

"Of our magazine writers who deal with public questions very many are verging in this direction, though few of them have thrown in their lot definitely with socialism. It is only a question how far they go and where they stop. The same thing is true of newspaper writers. Mr. Marion Reedy of St. Louis said some time ago in talking about the suppression of freedom in the press that if all the newspaper writers of our country, for two weeks, said exactly what they think and how they view public conditions in this country, there would be such a revolution as the world has never seen, because most of them hold very radical opinions. He says that most of them are socialists, unless they are anarchists. I do not know. My acquaintance with them is not sufficient to substantiate that.

"Among college professors the question usually is how far they will go toward collectivism.

Where the Church Stands

"In the church likewise. The religious spirit has a strong affinity for the ideal of co-operation, more than for the idea of mere freedom, although that, too, is a religious ideal. The New York Evening Post, which, as you know, is a great organ of the old school of political thought, began to lament, away back in the nineties, that the church had gone over to socialism. That was exaggerated, and yet I think anyone who knows the run of thought among the leaders of the churches knows that in all the churches the trend is toward collectivism, thought not at all toward party socialism.

"Constructive statesmanship tends in the same direction. In England, in Germany, the really constructive statesmen have increased collective rights and property. Those public officers in our country who have taken their work seriously have usually been enthusiasts for some kind of public ownership. Haven’t you found in Chicago that some of your ablest and finest public officers have had at least some single hobby of public ownership and have tried to extend the scope of it?

"Look back over the men who have really made history in our own country, the men who have stood out as the bold champions of the people, the representatives of the higher and newer school of public service. They have usually been men who have fought for an increase of public activity, of public functions, of public property, as against the representatives of the interests that stand for the opposite principle.

"Beating Them to It

"When a movement is of such a nature that even its enemies have to aid it you can be sure it is a victorious movement. A clever man in Madison, Wis., said: The only way to beat socialism is to beat them to it.’ Those who are trying to beat socialism try to take the wind out of its sails by advancing its cause. Mr. Ray Stannard Baker told me an anecdote some time ago. The celebrated Russian writer, Ostrogorski, was in this country to study our American institutions. When he was about to finish his visit Mr. Baker interviewed him and asked him what he thought of the future of the socialists in this country. He thought they would not likely have much of a future. He thought our politicians were so acute, so clever, that they would not allow the socialist party to gain much headway; that, as fast as some issue had been advanced to victory by the socialists, the democrats or the republicans would appropriate that issue and carry it into effect themselves in order to take the wind out of the sails of the socialist party. That was Ostrogorski’s forecast. Mr. Baker told me that a few days later he had an interview with President Roosevelt, and told him this story about Ostrogorski, and Roosevelt slapped his knee and said. That’s exactly what I have been doing.’

"My proposition, then, is that we are in the midst of a great historical trend, which is carrying us forward, not merely the men of one party, but men of all parties. All public-spirited men, all idealistic men, all religious men feel the pull and push of this great tendency, and that creates the presumption that we are in the presence of a great historical necessity.

The Family Spirit in Society

"I do not know where that is going to carry us. I do not know how much of socialism the future will have to embody. It is foolish to attempt to forecast that. Let God and our grandchildren look out for that. We can't do it. But we are moving, and my proposition is that for the present we ought to move in that direction. We ought not to move backward in the direction of private ownership of the means of production, but we ought to move forward to an extension of public functions and public property. The family spirit always grows up around family property, doesn't it? When a family has no property and cannot do anything for its members, its members will not love it. On the other hand, where a family has well-established property and the family develops inside of that property, family traditions and pride trail up like a creeper on this trellis of family property.

"The same thing is true about the community spirit. When a city has no public property it will have little public spirit. Public property is essential for the growth of patriotism. In all those communities in past history which have been rich in public spirit and local patriotism there has also been a great deal of public property and many public functions. This is the direction in which destiny is pushing us onward, and the question is whether we will be willing pioneers and friends of that movement, or whether we shall be pushed on against our will and be mere slaves of destiny." (Applause.)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Views on Socialism, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson


Colonel T. W. Higginson Speaks with His Well Known Conciseness.

Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the venerable and eminent author, surprised many people, recently, by Signing the manifesto of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, says the New York World. That the wealthy biographer of Longfellow and Whittier, historian, essayist, member of many learned societies and life-long associate of the men of letters should openly advocate socialism astonished all but those who know him intimately. Colonel Higginson received the World's staff correspondent in Boston and expressed himself on socialism as follows, weighing his words with great care:

"The very word 'socialist' has become difficult to deal with, from the fact that it has been vaguely used to express the party of progress, and the progressive body in a community is, by its nature, subdivided, and is never so closely organized and united as the conservative body. This is more visible in America than even in England.

"I never call myself a socialist, because no two persons interpret the word in the same way. But I grew up in the Brook Farm and Fourierite period and have always been interested in all tendencies in that direction. More than this, I have studied more than half a century and observed a steady tendency through our whole society in that direction - that is, the substitution of vigorous social organization for the individualism which once prevailed.

"In my boyhood, for instance, public schools were in their infancy, and, in the vast majority of cases, offered only momentary instruction, public high schools only existing here and there, and, for many years following, there was a vigorous protest against, the introduction of higher branches into these schools. Against the plan of public provision of school books the same hostility was found, and, in more than one town, even after the books had been provided, the action was revoked and the free textbooks temporarily withdrawn; in the same way, free public libraries, now so universal, had an ordeal to go through. "When the great Boston Public Library was first established the prediction was made that it would amount to nothing beyond public documents and a few books bestowed on the institution by their authors.

"Water supplies were at first the property of private companies, not open to the public at large. Bridges were toll bridges, and the only good roads were turnpike roads. In all these cases it was only very gradually that the tolls were abolished and the public at large assumed ownership. In every instance, the movement for public ownership was fought against and regarded as a step toward socialism. The assertion was perfectly correct - the unconscious march of the community was in that direction, and the peculiarity of the case was that neither of these steps was ever taken back again. There was a time when even the post-office was so imperfectly established that an energetic private company in San Francisco competed with it, and, for a time, kept all the local business mainly in its own hands.

"The peculiarity is not so much that these successive changes have been made, but that they have all grown up in one direction and that no step backward has ever been taken. On the contrary, example tells. The individual freedom of municipal governments gives the opportunity to test side by side the profitableness and safety of the two methods. A near-by town in Massachusetts, for instance, has a public water system, while its neighbor, with about the same population, has a private company to supply it, and each family there pays twice as much for water as in the other town. These things tell rapidly, and thus the method of municipal ownership grows.

"Now, municipal ownership is a step toward socialism, as far as it goes, and the fact that all these steps tend one way shows that socialism advances, even if unconsciously, all the time. In 1800, there were sixteen public waterworks in the United States, all privately built and owned, except one in Winchester, Va. Fourteen of these private plants have since become public. Of the fifty largest cities in this country, twenty-one originally built and now own their waterworks, twenty have changed from a private to a public ownership and only nine depend on private capitalists.

"The peculiarity is not so much in these changes as in the fact that they are practically all one way. Those who have once tried the public system would no more consent to changing it than they would think of handing over the post-office to a private corporation. "So far as tendency goes, we are all Socialists in dally life, without knowing that fact. it is useless to deny that obstacles occur at every step, and it is very well to do everything with due deliberation. But that the movement of human history is toward the public ownership of monopolies is unquestionable and, if that be socialism, make the most of it.

"As for the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, it is simply an expression of opinion that a college should not ignore the study of this great movement of the age."

COLONEL T. W. HIGGINSON, Who Gives His Views on Socialism.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Why do some socialists gravitate to evolutionary tactics over revolutionary tactics? And why do some statists gravitate to progressivism instead?

Evolutionary socialism or revolutionary socialism? That is the question.

William James Ghent wrote a pamphlet titled "Reds Bring Reaction", which is a seemingly thin-veiled attack from one leftist on the rest of his fellow leftists. But within these pages lies the answer. Substantively the pamphlet is not what it seems to be. On page vii:

"The revolutionary Communist, for all his stage-play, is a fanatic and a firebrand. So long as society insists upon keeping on hand such stores of inflammable material in the form of large sections of the working class steeped in privation and misery, it must expect, from time to time, what follows from the touch of flame to tinder. But the chief danger lies in the fact that the tumult and shouting of the Left inevitably strengthens the Reaction of the Right."

One of the strengths of so many of today's modern radicals is that they have convinced people that they aren't really as radical as they seem.

In other words, the evolutionaries believe that they are superior to the revolutionaries because they will not see a reaction from the reactionaries. Sadly, we have the last 100 years of American history to prove that the evolutionaries were correct in their supposition.

In a 1920's pamphlet "Making socialists out of college students", the author makes one final point then asks the following question:

The bomb-throwing anarchist and bullet-shooting radical will never retard America. The big job is with the pink variety, - whose poison is injected quietly and where we least suspect it.

What are you going to do about it? Or are you too busy?

So from the viewpoint of a statist, the reason why evolutionary socialism is superior to revolutionary socialism is blindingly clear. But what of progressivism? Why would a statist prefer progressivism over socialism? The evolutionary doesn't engender nearly as much opposition, but what of progressivism? Progressive ideology seemingly abandons government ownership altogether, progressive ideology can then actually bring in supporters that otherwise would not be supporters. We see it all the time, every one of us can cite an example that made us scratch our heads. See Stuart Chase's "Political System X" for more details about how this works. Specifically number 17.

17. Not much "taking over" of property or industries in the old socialistic sense. The formula appears to be control without ownership. it is interesting to recall that the same formula is used by the management of great corporations in depriving stockholders of power.

See? It's not socialism! It's just regulation. It's centralized planning, it's not wholesale theft of a citizen's private property. Who couldn't support that? It's just the middle road. Are you one of these crazy radicals on either side? Regulation is pure, regulation is clean, regulation is saintly. (content continues below the screenshot)

This was the very first blog post I made, besides announcing "hey, I'm here". The answer is right here in this book, Hise was an adviser to TR.(Chase mentioned above was an adviser to FDR) Look at the language that Hise uses.(contained in the screenshot) It's not socialism, it's just common sense. It's reasonable. It's cooperation, it's the public utilities. We just need fair prices. Blah blah blah blah, we have been hearing this same scripted nonsense for the last 100 years. But most importantly, Hise says this:

"the industrial concentrations remain private property in charge of those who own them just as at present"

Now how many corporations can you think of who mistakenly support progressive causes? How many individuals? Ideologically, both progressivism and evolutionary socialism are virtual unknowns to most Americans, while these two ideologies remain arguably the most dangerous.

"I'm willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends." - Van Jones