Friday, June 23, 2017

The Root of Socialism is Cowardice by Frederick Millar 1907

The Root of Socialism is Cowardice by Frederick Millar

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The root of socialism is cowardice. Here is the real source of the whole movement. It is the whine and the dream of the weakling’s base fear of rivalry, of competition. It is the duty of real men to circumvent and defeat, by war if necessary, by invasion if necessary, by conquest if necessary, by extermination if necessary, the despicable effeminacy of creatures unworthy of the name of men, because they fear to carry on the competitive struggle in which the true life of manhood consists. The socialist movement is popular because it appeals to these numerous creatures; panders to their baseness; promises them what they would be ashamed to desire or seek if they were men; and fools them to the top of their bent, while it misleads them into the pit of destruction. But who among the leaders of their political parties has the manliness to tell them the truth about this matter?

That the animating spirits of this movement fear to carry on the struggle for existence in its highest form—that they fear, in other words, the commercial and industrial competition which necessarily must exist, in so far as freedom exists—is about as certain as any fact concerning the minds of others can be; and it may be proved by their own teachings. And yet these people want us to believe that they are prepared, if parliamentary means fail them, to head a violent revolution to carry out their schemes. “Peaceably if possible, forcibly if necessary,” are the words used. It is absolutely certain that they are not prepared to do anything of the kind. Persons who cannot stomach commercial and industrial competition would not stomach lead and cold steel. They would not stomach anything that placed their precious skins in danger. Fear of competition in its commercial and industrial form necessarily means fear of it in its more deadly shapes. In seeking to abolish competition these agitators reveal their true character, and prove that, however good they may be at barking, they are not likely to do much biting if danger is about. If parliamentary means fail them, all means will fail them, for they have nothing else, and never will have anything else.

Yes, you will doubtless say, but socialism is gaining ground in England, is coming more and more into favour with the masses, and whatever becomes popular with them cannot be a bad thing. We do not dispute the growing popularity of the movement. We only point out that England is not the world—that even the whole of Europe is not the world—that America is not the world. Survival in the struggle for existence is not, and cannot be, for those peoples who are afraid of the struggle itself. Slothful love of ease and fear of rivalry will, sooner or later, deservedly go down before whatever is animated by a manlier spirit. Rotten principles will destroy millions as surely as they will destroy units. The time required may be longer, but there are reckoning days for nations and empires as well as for individuals. When crowds go wrong there are means in existence for dealing with them. Democracy does not rule the process of the suns. We can conceive of a democracy animated by sound principles and noble aims, but it does not exist in this country to-day. This process makes for the victory of the best and the overthrow of the worst, let massed ignorance vote as it may, let its flattering misleaders promise what they may, let the dreams of both be as rosy as they may. Realities will disturb them rudely.

It is not so much the form as the spirit of socialism, or, rather its want of spirit, which disgusts one. Its note is always the note of baseness, of unworthy dread of individual freedom, which it is ready to sacrifice to any extent for the sake of collective insurance in everlasting food, etc., with beer and skittles thrown in, which it promises to all without being in a position to keep its word. It is ever the cry of the laziness that wants to have everything done for it by others, and that abhors having to exert itself to do anything for itself. Socialism is the cry of adult babyhood for public nurses and public pap-bottles.

Government is to do everything for the lazy socialist without charging him anything for it! In fact, its numerous functionaries, its vast armies of inspectors, and inspectors of inspectors, and inspectors of inspectors of inspectors; its crowds of officials of all kinds, swarming everywhere like locusts to eat the people out of house and home, are to live and work, on the dreamer’s theory, without consuming anything at all; so that the socialist may be able to obtain everything he wants free, absolutely free! For how else is this model of altruism to have so much gratuitously done for him? Even the functionaries of a socialist State could not live on nothing. They will not be workers of miracles, and even those who profess to perform such wonders seldom appear to be able to do the miracle of living for long without eating; and many of them are very costly beggars, until they become still more costly robbers and spiritual despots.

In this place it will be useful to clear away a misunderstanding. When the need for the struggle for existence, for the survival of the fittest and for the disappearance of their opposites, is insisted upon, the inference is sometimes drawn that those who insist on this need affirm by implication that nothing whatever should under any circumstances be done by the strong to soften the lot of the weak. Such an inference, however, is not warranted. There is room for love in the service of reason. Love is not the highest, but it comes near to the highest in proportion as it serves the highest. But the ideal of reason is strength, the greatest possible activity of mind and body for the greatest possible number of persons for the longest possible time. Towards this ideal the love that is guided by reason will ever work; and the love that is not guided by reason had better not exist. So long as the help which strength gives voluntarily to weakness—gives without governmental or collective compulsion in any shape or form—is not of such a character as to enable and encourage mental, moral, or physical weakness to multiply and extend itself in the country and in the world, but is of such a character as to lessen the mischief to which it ministers, no harm is done to society considered as a continuing succession of generations, and posterity is not injured by so wisely-governed a form of benevolence. But benevolence greatly needs to be wisely governed if it is to avoid sinning against the light of science, the only means of salvation, social and individual alike, and the only light of man. The essential thing is that there shall be a steady advancement towards reason’s ideal. The essential thing is that every kind of mental, moral, and physical inefficiency shall steadily grow less rather than more.

This brings us to another point. A violent, sudden, and wholesale destruction of the weak by the strong, which is sometimes said by socialists and communists to be the logic of the individualist position, would promote no steady improvement. It would produce only reaction, the natural fruit of violence and haste. Consequently it would only be less of a curse to its country, and to the world at large, than the blind, irrational sentimentalism now working so much evil in our midst by thoughtlessly providing facilities for, and encouraging the multiplication of, all forms of inefficiency; thus spreading the very mischief to which it ministers, and which it is the endeavour of all rational minds to steadily and surely remove.

When we urge that socialism is bad, we do not want it to be understood that we are contending that the system under which we are now living, which is largely socialistic, and a great part of the evil in which is, to a considerable extent, due to its socialistic laws and institutions, is the best of all possible systems for all possible time. On the contrary, we say, reform the present system in the direction of justice; of equal, even-handed justice, without class favour, and without class partiality; of justice for each and justice for all. This will mean getting rid of most, if not all, of its socialism. We do not say that human intelligence allied with political power will never devise better laws and institutions than those we have now to put up with. We do not oppose any change which is really for the better for this or subsequent generations. But socialism, or rather a larger dose of it, is not a change for the better; it is a change for the worse, as the facts about it clearly demonstrate. Whatever else the good and lasting system of the future may be, it will assuredly not be socialism. It will be a system in which there is far greater scope for healthy and bracing competition than exists now, as well as far greater security for the private property which such competition requires. In short, it will be an individualist system. Those are the best laws, those are the best institutions, which lead men to put forth their best faculties of mind and body to the uttermost, without injury to their health and without injustice to each other. This is a position of reason, which is that of men prepared to take the risks of personal freedom, instead of embracing collective slavery and then looking to the State to dry-nurse and molly-coddle them into adult babyhood.

But an economic and social gospel based upon fear of rivalry, fear of competition, fear of being killed with work, fear of paternal and maternal duties and responsibilities—fear, in short, of everything that makes a man a man or a woman a woman—cannot be entertained seriously by men who have any respect for themselves, or any desire for the lasting good of their species. Socialism is damned because it seeks to do by political means what cannot be done by such means. It would raise the poor, but no class in this world is really benefited without a change in its character as well as in its material circumstances; and no class in this world can be really elevated to a higher plane of mental, moral, and physical life without the constant exercise of personal economy, thrift, industry, valour, continence, and the other virtues. Nor is it desirable that the state of things should be otherwise. Outward prosperity that corresponds to no inward worth, to no nobility of mind and action, is a vain and empty thing. A good mind is the only good for itself, and other things are good just in so far as they make for it.

Those who seek to help the poor by taking from the rich merely because they are rich, only sink the poor lower in their own self-respect and in the respect of the rest of the world. They produce paupers, but not men. Those who seek to help the poor by relieving them of their duties and responsibilities as parents, only debase and enslave them. They produce loose, vicious, careless, shallow, idle characters, but not men, not women. They will sink their protégés low enough if they are but allowed to do so. This is why, far more in the interests of the poor than in those of the rich, the deadly poison of socialism, wherever it is found, and under whatever disguise it is sought to be concealed, ought to be not merely opposed, but utterly, completely, and for ever destroyed.

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