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What Is Socialism

What Is Socialism

by Reginald Wright Kauffman


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An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter:
ONE Autumn afternoon, about fifteen years ago, I happened, on my way home from school, to be seated in a street-car behind two members of the faculty of a small college in central Pennsylvania. The pair were discussing the apparently wretched reputation of a third person unknown to me, and the elder educator rounded out his sweeping condemnation with a single fatal phrase:
"Why," said he, "the man's a Socialist!"
It was not so very long after the Haymarket tragedy in Chicago but that the distinctive word contained quite as much terror for me as he who uttered it patently intended it should have for him to whom it was addressed. Nevertheless, Socialism and Socialists were as vague in my mind as they were awful, and, realizing that I was in the company of the Wise Men, I therefore pricked up my ears for the reply to the question with which the second member of a college faculty in the Year of Our Lord 1893 countered this remark.
"Just how would you define Socialism, anyway?" he asked.
It was an inquiry, I have since come to know, that few other scholars have been able to answer in anything briefer than a volume; but the sage of the street-car hesitated not.
"Socialism," he declared, "is masked Anarchy; but it has no more chance of succeeding than if it dropped the mask."
I do not censure the professor, except perhaps because he spoke professorily; but I do say that he was wrong. Whether Socialism is to succeed or to fail remains, of course, to be seen; yet, succeeding or failing, it is no more Anarchism than it is any of the half-dozen other things that it is popularly believed to be, and, even if it were all of these and more beside, it is recognized by every keen-visioned student of politics and economics as the next great problem that will confront the voters of America.
Upon this point, if upon no other, Socialists and non-Socialists are agreed. Another professor, Mr. Herbert Spencer, several years ago brought the matter into general prominence when, in a treatise called "The Coming Slavery," he predicted, with gloomy forebodings, the ultimate victory of Socialism. Though his wish was so far from being a father to his thought, he may have erred as much on one side as the Pennsylvania instructor erred upon the other; yet, at his command, politicians everywhere opened their eyes to find that a new and still increasing army had advanced upon them as if by night. In this country the astute Mark Hanna flatly stated that old party lines are soon to vanish in the formation of a great conservative coalition to front this latter-day radicalism, and only a twelvemonth ago a President of the United States officially warned his people against " the growing menace of Socialism." From the view of the specialist, practical or theoretical, favorable or opposed, there to-day remains no doubt but that Socialism must soon be met in a desperate, even a life-and-death, struggle at the polls.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781987001877
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Press
Publication date: 10/05/2018
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.62(d)

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