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books the same hostility was found, and, in more than one town, even after the books had been provided, the action was revoked and the free textbooks temporarily withdrawn; in the same way, free public libraries, now so universal, had an ordeal to go through.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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Upton Sinclair noted how the Social Gospellers moved on from hebrew texts

In his book The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation, Upton Sinclair makes an interesting observation: (page 299/300)
And now the War has broken upon the world, and caught the churches, like everything else, in its mighty current; the clergy and the congregations are confronted by pressing national needs, they are forced to take notice of a thousand new problems, to engage in a thousand practical activities. No one can see the end of this - any more than he can see the end of the vast upheaval in politics and industry. But we who are trained in revolutionary thought can see the main outlines of the future. We see that in these new church activities the clergy are inspired by things read, not in ancient Hebrew texts, but in the daily newspapers. They are responding to the actual, instant needs of their boys in the trenches and the camps; and this is bound to have an effect upon their psychology. Just as we can say that an English girl who leaves the narrow circle of her old life, and goes into a munition factory and joins a union and takes part in its debates, will never after be a docile home-slave; so we can say that the clergyman who helps in Y. M. C. A. work in France, or in Red Cross organization in America, will be less the bigot and formalist forever after. He will have learned, in spite of himself, to adjust means to ends; he will have learned co-operation and social solidarity by the method which modern educators most favor - by doing. Also he will have absorbed a mass of ideas in news despatches from over the world. He is forced to read these despatches carefully, because the fate of his own boys is involved; and we Socialists will see to it that the despatches are well filled with propaganda!

The Desire of Nations

So the churches, like all the rest of the world, are caught in the great revolutionary current, and swept on towards a goal which they do not forsee, and from which they would shrink in dismay: the Church of the future, the Church redeemed by the spirit of Brotherhood, the Church which we Socialists will join.

Within two short paragraphs, there's three really important observations.

First, this viewpoint of Sinclair's that churches don't do anything practical. What he means, of course, is those of us who believe in the Lord and engage in worship on a regular basis. That's a waste of time. Alternatively, he also means (somewhat) charitable work, since as a rule progressives look at charity as insufficient. Real charity obviously comes from and is enforced by a heavy handed redistributive government regime.

Second, this notion that the Social Gospellers spend more time reading newspapers than they do(did) 'ancient Hebrew texts'. I have little doubt that he is including 'translated ancient Hebrew texts' within that. This explains a lot about how corrupt the Social Gospel was, since it was more about being socialist Christianity than it was about being Christian. Which makes sense that if the Social Gospellers had abandoned their bibles and instead were reading only newspapers, they would not be very well versed in the Word as they should be. Particularly since those news dispatches were, by Sinclair's own admission, filled with socialist propaganda.

And finally, Sinclair points out how the Church of the future will be redeemed by the spirit of Brotherhood. This ties together the first, second, and third. The "spirit of brotherhood" means collectivism. Once the churches have embraced collectivism, then socialists can join.

But how are the first second and third tied together? This is a process that Sinclair is explaining. This is the process of how one or more churches can become infected and corrupted by socialism or "social justice". Create a crisis in an attempt to get people's eye off of the ball, get them reading more newspapers filled with propaganda, and the abandonment of the Truth is all but certain.