Monday, May 25, 2015

To Make Students of Socialism, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson


Dublin, N.H., July 14, 1905.

To the Editor of Harper's Weekly

Sir, - I observe in a recent number of your valuable journal an expression of surprise that my name should be united with others in the formation of an "Intercollegiate Socialist School" which "aims to imbue the minds of the rising generation with socialistic doctrines." This last phrase is your own, for I at least am connected with no organization for the purpose you here state. As to the names with which mine is united I am not concerned; as Theodore Parker used to say "I am not particular with whom I unite in a good action." As to the object in view it is clearly enough stated in the call itself: the movement does not aim to produce socialists, but to create students of socialism.

It is based on the obvious fact that we are more and more surrounded by institutions, such as free schools, free text books, free libraries, free bridges, free water-supplies, free lecture courses, even free universities, which were all called socialistic when first proposed, and which so able a man as Herbert Spencer denounced as socialism to his dying day. Every day makes it more important that this tendency should be studied seriously and thoughtfully, not left to demagogues alone. For this purpose our foremost universities should take the matter up scientifically, as has been done for several years at Harvard University, where there is a full course on "Methods of Social Reform - Socialism, Communism, the Single Tax." etc., given by Professor T.N. Carver. This is precisely what the "Intercollegiate Socialist School" aims at; and those who seriously criticise this object must be classed, I fear, with those medieval grammarians who wrote of an adversary "May God confound thee for thy theory of irregular verbs!"

I am, sir,

Thomas Wentworth Higginson