Socialism, a word now employed in several different senses. Loosely, it includes all schemes for abolishing social inequality, and in this sense it is generally distinguished as utopian socialism, under which designation communities like those of the Essenes, the early Christians, and the Shakers in the United States at the present day, and the ideal commonwealths of Plato, More, and Harington, are to be classed. St. Simon (1760-1825), Owen (1771-1858), and Fourier (1768-1830) were the leading modern Utopians. Scientific socialism is an economic theory which affirms that the materials from which labor produces wealth—i. e., the land—should be the property of the community, not of individuals forming a separate class. Socialists also demand that the existing capital, having (as they contend) been unjustly appropriated by the landholding class or its assignees, be restored, with the land, to the community. It vests all authority in the hands of delegates elected by the community, and seeks to substitute public co-operation for private enterprise in supplying all social needs. Modern socialism is of European origin. In the first half of the nineteenth century, F. D. Maurice (1805-72), and Charles Kingsley (1819-75), two English clergymen, advocated a large extension of the system of co-operation. The work begun by them is carried on on more extended lines by Christian socialism, which “claims to be the result of applying Christ’s teaching to national, social, and commercial life, and not merely to personal conduct. Those who hold this view maintain that Christ said little as to a future state, but much of bettering the conditions of life in this world. They point out that be consistently placed the community before the individual, and taught that the foundation of society is brotherhood, not competition for profit, as now with us. Christian Socialists adopt that name because they believe that a really Christian society must be what is called socialistic.”
Scientific socialism embraces:
- Collectivism: An ideal socialistic state of society, in which the functions of the government will include the organization of all the industries of the country. In a collectivist state every person would be a state official, and the state would be coextensive with the whole people. Safeguards would be provided against the formation of an oligarchy by the controlling officials.
- Anarchism (meaning mistrust of government, and not abandonment of social order) would secure individual liberty against encroachment on the part of the state in the socialistic commonwealth. Anarchists deny that the legislation of yesterday is enlightened enough for the affairs of to-day, and seek to make laws and other institutions as fluid as possible. They admit no authority except that which carries conviction, and would treat an incorrigible criminal as a dangerous lunatic. The assassins of the Empress of Austria, the King of Italy, and President McKinley are the practical exponents of this criminal theory. They are divided into Mutualists, who hope to attain their ends by banks of exchange and free currency, and Communists, whose motto is “From every man according to his capacity, to every man according to his needs.”