1. Introduction, by Z
In part 2 of Proposed Roads to Freedom, Russell discusses many concrete social and political issues, and proposes a number of concrete solutions, in line with his favored doctrine, Guild Socialism–a federalist development of Kropotkin-style social anarchism.
And in the last chapter, “The World As It Could Be Made,” he quite lyrically describes a normative vision of a categorically politically better world: as it were, John Lennon’s “Imagine” for 1918.
One thing that is striking about Russell’s arguments is his consistent avoidance of a priori reasoning, abstraction, and even minimal formalization.
It’s as if, in this book, he found great intellectual relief from the relentless abstractions and formal-logical reasoning patterns of Principles of Mathematics, Principia Mathematica, Problems of Philosophy, the aborted Theory of Knowledge project, Our Knowledge of the External World, and even An Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.
As a consequence, however, his proposed political solutions are TOO concrete–too much embedded in a certain historical-social context: Europe and England, circa 1918, at the end of The Great War.
This fact makes Russell’s ideas less directly applicable to the USA and the rest of the world, circa 2016, than they should be.
But just as in the earlier case of our helping Russell out with an a priori ethical anarchist argument against nationalist, capitalist Statism, here we can also help him out with some procedural ethical anarchist political principles.
First, by oppression, I mean the following:
A person or a group of people are oppressed if and only if their actual condition falls below what would be minimally sufficient to meet the ethical demands of respect for their human dignity.
Second, by oppression with respect to X, I mean the following:
A person or group of people are oppressed with respect to X if and only if their actual condition falls below what would be minimally sufficient to meet the ethical demands of respect for their human dignity with respect to X.
So, for example, young black men in the USA in 2015 and 2016 are oppressed with respect to treatment by the police: in the USA in 2015 and 2016, the police have been and are treating young black men violently in ways that fall substantially below what would be minimally sufficient to meet the ethical demands for their human dignity with respect to police treatment.
Third, Federalism says that States should introduce a series of mediating institutional structures between government and the individual, each of which and all of which have specifically ethical aims and rational justifications.
Fourth, Quasi-Federalism says that HUMANITY should introduce a series of mediating institutional structures between government and the individual, each of which and all of which have specifically ethical ANARCHIST aims and rational justifications.
Fifth, Quasi-Federalism operates according to The Devolutionary and Dynamic Anti-Oppression Principle (DDAO):
Suppose that a State or Statelike institutional structure SS exists. Then SS should be replaced by a series of new institutional structures, each one of which simultaneously represents a definite step in the direction of the devolutionary deconstruction of SS and also a definite step in the direction of the dynamic construction of a non-oppressive condition, in a post-State world, for all the people affected by SS.
In a normative sense, each new institutional structure simultaneously represents a definite “left to right” decrease in Statist coercion and also a definite “right to left” increase in individual and collective non-oppression.
So each new structure is dual and enantiomorphic (mirror-reflected) in a categorically normative sense.
More generally, we should always be looking to design and create new institutional structures that have this normatively dual, enantiomorphic character, i.e., they satisfy DDAO.
So, for example, for each armed police force in the USA, there should be a new devolutionary/dynamic police force regime 1 in which NO police officers normally carry guns or EVER use other violent solutions to policing problems (left to right devolution of the State) and ALL police officers normally engage in community policing and CONSISTENTLY practice non-violent solutions to policing problems, although they still carry nightsticks and have some training in the martial arts (right to left construction of a non-oppressive condition for young black men, and others, in a post-State world).
And then, as soon as it can be implemented, for each armed police force in the USA, there should be a new devolutionary/dynamic police force regime 2 in which NO police officers normally carry nightsticks or EVER use other violent solutions to policing problems (left to right devolution of the State) and ALL police officers normally engage in community policing and CONSISTENTLY practice non-violent solutions to policing problems, although they still have some training in the martial arts (right to left construction of a non-oppressive condition for young black men, and others, in a post-State world).
And so-on, until police regime N is reached, in which police treatment of young black men in the USA fully meets or exceeds the minimal demands of respect for their human dignity, in a post-State world.
Then DDAO should be repeatedly re-applied to other Statist structures, until we’ve constructed “the world as it could be made.”
2. Bertrand Russell, Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism, and Syndicalism
THE WORLD AS IT COULD BE MADE
IN the daily lives of most men and women, fear plays a greater part than hope: they are more filled with the thought of the possessions that others may take from them, than of the joy that they might create in their own lives and in the lives with which they come in contact.
It is not so that life should be lived.
Those whose lives are fruitful to themselves, to their friends, or to the world are inspired by hope and sustained by joy: they see in imagination the things that might be and the way in which they are to be brought into existence. In their private relations they are not pre-occupied with anxiety lest they should lose such affection and respect as they receive: they are engaged in giving affection and respect freely, and the reward comes of itself without their seeking. In their work they are not haunted by jealousy of competitors, but concerned with the actual matter that has to be done. In politics, they do not spend time and passion defending unjust privileges of their class or nation, but they aim at making the world as a whole happier, less cruel, less full of conflict between rival greeds, and more full of human beings whose growth has not been dwarfed and stunted by oppression.
A life lived in this spirit–the spirit that aims at creating rather than possessing–has a certain fundamental happiness, of which it cannot be wholly robbed by adverse circumstances. This is the way of life recommended in the Gospels, and by all the great teachers of the world. Those who have found it are freed from the tyranny of fear, since what they value most in their lives is not at the mercy of outside power. If all men could summon up the courage and the vision to live in this way in spite of obstacles and discouragement, there would be no need for the regeneration of the world to begin by political and economic reform: all that is needed in the way of reform would come automatically, without resistance, owing to the moral regeneration of individuals. But the teaching of Christ has been nominally accepted by the world for many centuries, and yet those who follow it are still persecuted as they were before the time of Constantine. Experience has proved that few are able to see through the apparent evils of an outcast’s life to the inner joy that comes of faith and creative hope. If the domination of fear is to be overcome, it is not enough, as regards the mass of men, to preach courage and indifference to misfortune: it is necessary to remove the causes of fear, to make a good life no longer an unsuccessful one in a worldly sense, and to diminish the harm that can be inflicted upon those who are not wary in self- defense.
When we consider the evils in the lives we know of, we find that they may be roughly divided into three classes. There are, first, those due to physical nature: among these are death, pain and the difficulty of making the soil yield a subsistence. These we will call
physical evils.'' Second, we may put those that spring from defects in the character or aptitudes of the sufferer: among these are ignorance, lack of will, and violent passions. These we will callevils of character.” Third come those that depend upon the power of one individual or group over another: these comprise not only obvious tyranny, but all interference with free development, whether by force or by excessive mental influence such as may occur in education. These we will call “evils of power.” A social system may be judged by its bearing upon these three kinds of evils.
The distinction between the three kinds cannot be sharply drawn. Purely physical evil is a limit, which we can never be sure of having reached: we cannot abolish death, but we can often postpone it by science, and it may ultimately become possible to secure that the great majority shall live till old age; we cannot wholly prevent pain, but we can diminish it indefinitely by securing a healthy life for all; we cannot make the earth yield its fruits in any abundance without labor, but we can diminish the amount of the labor and improve its conditions until it ceases to be an evil. Evils of character are often the result of physical evil in the shape of illness, and still more often the result of evils of power, since tyranny degrades both those who exercise it and (as a rule) those who suffer it. Evils of power are intensified by evils of character in those who have power, and by fear of the physical evil which is apt to be the lot of those who have no power. For all these reasons, the three sorts of evil are intertwined. Nevertheless, speaking broadly, we may distinguish among our misfortunes those which have their proximate cause in the material world, those which are mainly due to defects in ourselves, and those which spring from our being subject to the control of others.
The main methods of combating these evils are: for physical evils, science; for evils of character, education (in the widest sense) and a free outlet for all impulses that do not involve domination; for evils of power, the reform of the political and economic organization of society in such a way as to reduce to the lowest possible point the interference of one man with the life of another. We will begin with the third of these kinds of evil, because it is evils of power specially that Socialism and Anarchism have sought to remedy. Their protest against Inequalities of wealth has rested mainly upon their sense of the evils arising from the power conferred by wealth. This point has been well stated by Mr. G. D. H. Cole:–
What, I want to ask, is the fundamental evil in our modern Society which we should set out to abolish?
There are two possible answers to that question, and I am sure that very many well-meaning people would make the wrong one. They would answer POVERTY, when they ought to answer SLAVERY. Face to face every day with the shameful contrasts of riches and destitution, high dividends and low wages, and painfully conscious of the futility of trying to adjust the balance by means of charity, private or public, they would answer unhesitatingly that they stand for the ABOLITION OF POVERTY.
Well and good! On that issue every Socialist is with them. But their answer to my question is none the less wrong.
Poverty is the symptom: slavery the disease. The extremes of riches and destitution follow inevitably upon the extremes of license and bondage. The many are not enslaved because they are poor, they are poor because they are enslaved. Yet Socialists have all too often fixed their eyes upon the material misery of the poor without realizing that it rests upon the spiritual degradation of the slave.
I do not think any reasonable person can doubt that the evils of power in the present system are vastly greater than is necessary, nor that they might be immeasurably diminished by a suitable form of Socialism. A few fortunate people, it is true, are now enabled to live freely on rent or interest, and they could hardly have more liberty under another system. But the great bulk, not only of the very poor, but, of all sections of wage-earners and even of the professional classes, are the slaves of the need for getting money. Almost all are compelled to work so hard that they have little leisure for enjoyment or for pursuits outside their regular occupation. Those who are able to retire in later middle age are bored, because they have not learned how to fill their time when they are at liberty, and such interests as they once had apart from work have dried up. Yet these are the exceptionally fortunate: the majority have to work hard till old age, with the fear of destitution always before them, the richer ones dreading that they will be unable to give their children the education or the medical care that they consider desirable, the poorer ones often not far removed from starvation. And almost all who work have no voice in the direction of their work; throughout the hours of labor they are mere machines carrying out the will of a master. Work is usually done under disagreeable conditions, involving pain and physical hardship. The only motive to work is wages: the very idea that work might be a joy, like the work of the artist, is usually scouted as utterly Utopian.
But by far the greater part of these evils are wholly unnecessary. If the civilized portion of mankind could be induced to desire their own happiness more than another’s pain, if they could be induced to work constructively for improvements which they would share with all the world rather than destructively to prevent other classes or nations from stealing a march on them, the whole system by which the world’s work is done might be reformed root and branch within a generation.
From the point of view of liberty, what system would be the best? In what direction should we wish the forces of progress to move?
From this point of view, neglecting for the moment all other considerations, I have no doubt that the best system would be one not far removed from that advocated by Kropotkin, but rendered more practicable by the adoption of the main principles of Guild Socialism. Since every point can be disputed, I will set down without argument the kind of organization of work that would seem best.
Education should be compulsory up to the age of 16, or perhaps longer; after that, it should be continued or not at the option of the pupil, but remain free (for those who desire it) up to at least the age of 21. When education is finished no one should be COMPELLED to work, and those who choose not to work should receive a bare livelihood, and be left completely free; but probably it would be desirable that there should be a strong public opinion in favor of work, so that only comparatively few should choose idleness. One great advantage of making idleness economically possible is that it would afford a powerful motive for making work not disagreeable; and no community where most work is disagreeable can be said to have found a solution of economic problems. I think it is reasonable to assume that few would choose idleness, in view of the fact that even now at least nine out of ten of those who have (say) 100 pounds a year from investments prefer to increase their income by paid work.
Coming now to that great majority who will not choose idleness, I think we may assume that, with the help of science, and by the elimination of the vast amount of unproductive work involved in internal and international competition, the whole community could be kept in comfort by means of four hours’ work a day. It is already being urged by experienced employers that their employes can actually produce as much in a six-hour day as they can when they work eight hours. In a world where there is a much higher level of technical instruction than there is now the same tendency will be accentuated. People will be taught not only, as at present, one trade, or one small portion of a trade, but several trades, so that they can vary their occupation according to the seasons and the fluctuations of demand. Every industry will be self-governing as regards all its internal affairs, and even separate factories will decide for themselves all questions that only concern those who work in them. There will not be capitalist management, as at present, but management by elected representatives, as in politics. Relations between different groups of producers will be settled by the Guild Congress, matters concerning the community as the inhabitants of a certain area will continue to be decided by Parliament, while all disputes between Parliament and the Guild Congress will be decided by a body composed of representatives of both in equal numbers.
Payment will not be made, as at present, only for work actually required and performed, but for willingness to work. This system is already adopted in much of the better paid work: a man occupies a certain position, and retains it even at times when there happens to be very little to do. The dread of unemployment and loss of livelihood will no longer haunt men like a nightmare. Whether all who are willing to work will be paid equally, or whether exceptional skill will still command exceptional pay, is a matter which may be left to each guild to decide for itself. An opera-singer who received no more pay than a scene-shifter might choose to be a scene-shifter until the system was changed: if so, higher pay would probably be found necessary. But if it were freely voted by the Guild, it could hardly constitute a grievance.
Whatever might be done toward making work agreeable, it is to be presumed that some trades would always remain unpleasant. Men could be attracted into these by higher pay or shorter hours, instead of being driven into them by destitution. The community would then have a strong economic motive for finding ways of diminishing the disagreeableness of these exceptional trades.
There would still have to be money, or something analogous to it, in any community such as we are imagining. The Anarchist plan of a free distribution of the total produce of work in equal shares does not get rid of the need for some standard of exchange value, since one man will choose to take his share in one form and another in another. When the day comes for distributing luxuries, old ladies will not want their quota of cigars, nor young men their just proportion of lap-dog; this will make it necessary to know how many cigars are the equivalent of one lap-dog. Much the simplest way is to pay an income, as at present, and allow relative values to be adjusted according to demand. But if actual coin were paid, a man might hoard it and in time become a capitalist. To prevent this, it would be best to pay notes available only during a certain period, say one year from the date of issue. This would enable a man to save up for his annual holiday, but not to save indefinitely.
There is a very great deal to be said for the Anarchist plan of allowing necessaries, and all commodities that can easily be produced in quantities adequate to any possible demand, to be given away freely to all who ask for them, in any amounts they may require. The question whether this plan should be adopted is, to my mind, a purely technical one: would it be, in fact, possible to adopt it without much waste and consequent diversion of labor to the production of necessaries when it might be more usefully employed otherwise? I have not the means of answering this question, but I think it exceedingly probable that, sooner or later, with the continued improvement in the methods of production, this Anarchist plan will become feasible; and when it does, it certainly ought to be adopted.
Women in domestic work, whether married or unmarried, will receive pay as they would if they were in industry. This will secure the complete economic independence of wives, which is difficult to achieve in any other way, since mothers of young children ought not to be expected to work outside the home.
The expense of children will not fall, as at present, on the parents. They will receive, like adults, their share of necessaries, and their education will be free. There is no longer to be the present competition for scholarships among the abler children: they will not be imbued with the competitive spirit from infancy, or forced to use their brains to an unnatural degree with consequent listlessness and lack of health in later life. Education will be far more diversified than at present; greater care will be taken to adapt it to the needs of different types of young people. There will be more attempt to encourage initiative young pupils, and less desire to fill their minds with a set of beliefs and mental habits regarded as desirable by the State, chiefly because they help to preserve the status quo. For the great majority of children it will probably be found desirable to have much more outdoor education in the country. And for older boys and girls whose interests are not intellectual or artistic, technical education, undertaken in a liberal spirit, is far more useful in promoting mental activity than book-learning which they regard (however falsely) as wholly useless except for purposes of examination. The really useful education is that which follows the direction of the child’s own instinctive interests, supplying knowledge for which it is seeking, not dry, detailed information wholly out of relation to its spontaneous desires.
Government and law will still exist in our community, but both will be reduced to a minimum. There will still be acts which will be forbidden–for example, murder. But very nearly the whole of that part of the criminal law which deals with property will have become obsolete, and many of the motives which now produce murders will be no longer operative. Those who nevertheless still do commit crimes will not be blamed or regarded as wicked; they will be regarded as unfortunate, and kept in some kind of mental hospital until it is thought that they are no longer a danger. By education and freedom and the abolition of private capital the number of crimes can be made exceedingly small. By the method of individual curative treatment it will generally be possible to secure that a man’s first offense shall also be his last, except in the case of lunatics and the feeble-minded, for whom of course a more prolonged but not less kindly detention may be necessary.
Government may be regarded as consisting of two parts: the one, the decisions of the community or its recognized organs; the other, the enforcing of those decisions upon all who resist them. The first part is not objected to by Anarchists. The second part, in an ordinary civilized State, may remain entirely in the background: those who have resisted a new law while it was being debated will, as a rule, submit to it when it is passed, because resistance is generally useless in a settled and orderly community. But the possibility of governmental force remains, and indeed is the very reason for the submission which makes force unnecessary. If, as Anarchists desire, there were no use of force by government, the majority could still band themselves together and use force against the minority. The only difference would be that their army or their police force would be ad hoc, instead of being permanent and professional. The result of this would be that everyone would have to learn how to fight, for fear a well- drilled minority should seize power and establish an old-fashioned oligarchic State. Thus the aim of the Anarchists seems hardly likely to be achieved by the methods which they advocate.
The reign of violence in human affairs, whether within a country or in its external relations, can only be prevented, if we have not been mistaken, by an authority able to declare all use of force except by itself illegal, and strong enough to be obviously capable of making all other use of force futile, except when it could secure the support of public opinion as a defense of freedom or a resistance to injustice. Such an authority exists within a country: it is the State. But in international affairs it remains to be created. The difficulties are stupendous, but they must be overcome if the world is to be saved from periodical wars, each more destructive than any of its predecessors. Whether, after this war, a League of Nations will be formed, and will be capable of performing this task, it is as yet impossible to foretell. However that may be, some method of preventing wars will have to be established before our Utopia becomes possible. When once men BELIEVE that the world is safe from war, the whole difficulty will be solved: there will then no longer be any serious resistance to the disbanding of national armies and navies, and the substitution for them of a small international force for protection against uncivilized races. And when that stage has been reached, peace will be virtually secure.
The practice of government by majorities, which Anarchists criticise, is in fact open to most of the objections which they urge against it. Still more objectionable is the power of the executive in matters vitally affecting the happiness of all, such as peace and war. But neither can be dispensed with suddenly. There are, however, two methods of diminishing the harm done by them: (1) Government by majorities can be made less oppressive by devolution, by placing the decision of questions primarily affecting only a section of the community in the hands of that section, rather than of a Central Chamber. In this way, men are no longer forced to submit to decisions made in a hurry by people mostly ignorant of the matter in hand and not personally interested. Autonomy for internal affairs should be given, not only to areas, but to all groups, such as industries or Churches, which have important common interests not shared by the rest of the community. (2) The great powers vested in the executive of a modern State are chiefly due to the frequent need of rapid decisions, especially as regards foreign affairs. If the danger of war were practically eliminated, more cumbrous but less autocratic methods would be possible, and the Legislature might recover many of the powers which the executive has usurped. By these two methods, the intensity of the interference with liberty involved in government can be gradually diminished. Some interference, and even some danger of unwarranted and despotic interference, is of the essence of government, and must remain so long as government remains. But until men are less prone to violence than they are now, a certain degree of governmental force seems the lesser of two evils. We may hope, however, that if once the danger of war is at an end, men’s violent impulses will gradually grow less, the more so as, in that case, it will be possible to diminish enormously the individual power which now makes rulers autocratic and ready for almost any act of tyranny in order to crush opposition. The development of a world where even governmental force has become unnecessary (except against lunatics) must be gradual. But as a gradual process it is perfectly possible; and when it has been completed we may hope to see the principles of Anarchism embodied in the management of communal affairs.
How will the economic and political system that we have outlined bear on the evils of character? I believe the effect will be quite extraordinarily beneficent.
The process of leading men’s thought and imagination away from the use of force will be greatly accelerated by the abolition of the capitalist system, provided it is not succeeded by a form of State Socialism in which officials have enormous power. At present, the capitalist has more control over the lives of others than any man ought to have; his friends have authority in the State; his economic power is the pattern for political power. In a world where all men and women enjoy economic freedom, there will not be the same habit of command, nor, consequently, the same love of despotism; a gentler type of character than that now prevalent will gradually grow up. Men are formed by their circumstances, not born readymade. The bad effect of the present economic system on character, and the immensely better effect to be expected from communal ownership, are among the strongest reasons for advocating the change.
In the world as we have been imagining fit, economic fear and most economic hope will be alike removed out of life. No one will be haunted by the dread of poverty or driven into ruthlessness by the hope of wealth. There will not be the distinction of social classes which now plays such an immense part in life. The unsuccessful professional man will not live in terror lest his children should sink in the scale; the aspiring employee will not be looking forward to the day when he can become a sweater in his turn. Ambitious young men will have to dream other daydreams than that of business success and wealth wrung out of the ruin of competitors and the degradation of labor. In such a world, most of the nightmares that lurk in the background of men’s minds will no longer exist; on the other hand, ambition and the desire to excel will have to take nobler forms than those that are encouraged by a commercial society. All those activities that really confer benefits upon mankind will be open, not only to the fortunate few, but to all who have sufficient ambition and native aptitude. Science, labor-saving inventions, technical progress of all kinds, may be confidently expected to flourish far more than at present, since they will be the road to honor, and honor will have to replace money among those of the young who desire to achieve success. Whether art will flourish in a Socialistic community depends upon the form of Socialism adopted; if the State, or any public authority, (no matter what), insists upon controlling art, and only licensing those whom it regards as proficient, the result will be disaster. But if there is real freedom, allowing every man who so desires to take up an artist’s career at the cost of some sacrifice of comfort, it is likely that the atmosphere of hope, and the absence of economic compulsion, will lead to a much smaller waste of talent than is involved in our present system, and to a much less degree of crushing of impulse in the mills of the struggle for life.
When elementary needs have been satisfied, the serious happiness of most men depends upon two things: their work, and their human relations. In the world that we have been picturing, work will be free, not excessive, full of the interest that belongs to a collective enterprise in which there is rapid progress, with something of the delight of creation even for the humblest unit. And in human relations the gain will be just as great as in work. The only human relations that have value are those that are rooted in mutual freedom, where there is no domination and no slavery, no tie except affection, no economic or conventional necessity to preserve the external show when the inner life is dead. One of the most horrible things about commercialism is the way in which it poisons the relations of men and women. The evils of prostitution are generally recognized, but, great as they are, the effect of economic conditions on marriage seems to me even worse. There is not infrequently, in marriage, a suggestion of purchase, of acquiring a woman on condition of keeping her in a certain standard of material comfort. Often and often, a marriage hardly differs from prostitution except by being harder to escape from. The whole basis of these evils is economic. Economic causes make marriage a matter of bargain and contract, in which affection is quite secondary, and its absence constitutes no recognized reason for liberation. Marriage should be a free, spontaneous meeting of mutual instinct, filled with happiness not unmixed with a feeling akin to awe: it should involve that degree of respect of each for the other that makes even the most trifling interference with liberty an utter impossibility, and a common life enforced by one against the will of the other an unthinkable thing of deep horror. It is not so that marriage is conceived by lawyers who make settlements, or by priests who give the name of “sacrament” to an institution which pretends to find something sanctifiable in the brutal lusts or drunken cruelties of a legal husband. It is not in a spirit of freedom that marriage is conceived by most men and women at present: the law makes it an opportunity for indulgence of the desire to interfere, where each submits to some loss of his or her own liberty, for the pleasure of curtailing the liberty of the other. And the atmosphere of private property makes it more difficult than it otherwise would be for any better ideal to take root.
It is not so that human relations will be conceived when the evil heritage of economic slavery has ceased to mold our instincts. Husbands and wives, parents and children, will be only held together by affection: where that has died, it will be recognized that nothing worth preserving is left. Because affection will be free, men and women will not find in private life an outlet and stimulus to the love of domineering, but all that is creative in their love will have the freer scope. Reverence for whatever makes the soul in those who are loved will be less rare than it is now: nowadays, many men love their wives in the way in which they love mutton, as something to devour and destroy. But in the love that goes with reverence there is a joy of quite another order than any to be found by mastery, a joy which satisfies the spirit and not only the instincts; and satisfaction of instinct and spirit at once is necessary to a happy life, or indeed to any existence that is to bring out the best impulses of which a man or woman is capable.
In the world which we should wish to see, there will be more joy of life than in the drab tragedy of modern every-day existence. After early youth, as things are, most men are bowed down by forethought, no longer capable of light-hearted gaiety, but only of a kind of solemn jollification by the clock at the appropriate hours. The advice to
become as little children'' would be good for many people in many respects, but it goes with another precept,take no thought for the morrow,” which is hard to obey in a competitive world. There is often in men of science, even when they are quite old, something of the simplicity of a child: their absorption in abstract thought has held them aloof from the world, and respect for their work has led the world to keep them alive in spite of their innocence. Such men have succeeded in living as all men ought to be able to live; but as things are, the economic struggle makes their way of life impossible for the great majority.
What are we to say, lastly, of the effect of our projected world upon physical evil? Will there be less illness than there is at present? Will the produce of a given amount of labor be greater? Or will population press upon the limits of subsistence, as Malthus taught in order to refute Godwin’s optimism?
I think the answer to all these questions turns, in the end, upon the degree of intellectual vigor to be expected in a community which has done away with the spur of economic competition. Will men in such a world become lazy and apathetic? Will they cease to think? Will those who do think find themselves confronted with an even more impenetrable wall of unreflecting conservatism than that which confronts them at present? These are important questions; for it is ultimately to science that mankind must look for their success in combating physical evils.
If the other conditions that we have postulated can be realized, it seems almost certain that there must be less illness than there is at present. Population will no longer be congested in slums; children will have far more of fresh air and open country; the hours of work will be only such as are wholesome, not excessive and exhausting as they are at present.
As for the progress of science, that depends very largely upon the degree of intellectual liberty existing in the new society. If all science is organized and supervised by the State, it will rapidly become stereotyped and dead. Fundamental advances will not be made, because, until they have been made, they will seem too doubtful to warrant the expenditure of public money upon them. Authority will be in the hands of the old, especially of men who have achieved scientific eminence; such men will be hostile to those among the young who do not flatter them by agreeing with their theories. Under a bureaucratic State Socialism it is to be feared that science would soon cease to be progressive and acquired a medieval respect for authority.
But under a freer system, which would enable all kinds of groups to employ as many men of science as they chose, and would allow the “vagabond’s wage” to those who desired to pursue some study so new as to be wholly unrecognized, there is every reason to think that science would flourish as it has never done hitherto. And, if that were the case, I do not believe that any other obstacle would exist to the physical possibility of our system.
The question of the number of hours of work necessary to produce general material comfort is partly technical, partly one of organization. We may assume that there would no longer be unproductive labor spent on armaments, national defense, advertisements, costly luxuries for the very rich, or any of the other futilities incidental to our competitive system. If each industrial guild secured for a term of years the advantages, or part of the advantages, of any new invention or methods which it introduced, it is pretty certain that every encouragement would be given to technical progress. The life of a discoverer or inventor is in itself agreeable: those who adopt it, as things are now, are seldom much actuated by economic motives, but rather by the interest of the work together with the hope of honor; and these motives would operate more widely than they do now, since fewer people would be prevented from obeying them by economic necessities. And there is no doubt that intellect would work more keenly and creatively in a world where instinct was less thwarted, where the joy of life was greater, and where consequently there would be more vitality in men than there is at present.
There remains the population question, which, ever since the time of Malthus, has been the last refuge of those to whom the possibility of a better world is disagreeable. But this question is now a very different one from what it was a hundred years ago. The decline of the birth-rate in all civilized countries, which is pretty certain to continue, whatever economic system is adopted, suggests that, especially when the probable effects of the war are taken into account, the population of Western Europe is not likely to increase very much beyond its present level, and that of America is likely only to increase through immigration. Negroes may continue to increase in the tropics, but are not likely to be a serious menace to the white inhabitants of temperate regions. There remains, of course, the Yellow Peril; but by the time that begins to be serious it is quite likely that the birth-rate will also have begun to decline among the races of Asia If not, there are other means of dealing with this question; and in any case the whole matter is too conjectural to be set up seriously as a bar to our hopes. I conclude that, though no certain forecast is possible, there is not any valid reason for regarding the possible increase of population as a serious obstacle to Socialism.
Our discussion has led us to the belief that the communal ownership of land and capital, which constitutes the characteristic doctrine of Socialism and Anarchist Communism, is a necessary step toward the removal of the evils from which the world suffers at present and the creation of such a society as any humane man must wish to see realized. But, though a necessary step, Socialism alone is by no means sufficient. There are various forms of Socialism: the form in which the State is the employer, and all who work receive wages from it, involves dangers of tyranny and interference with progress which would make it, if possible, even worse than the present regime. On the other hand, Anarchism, which avoids the dangers of State Socialism, has dangers and difficulties of its own, which make it probable that, within any reasonable period of time, it could not last long even if it were established. Nevertheless, it remains an ideal to which we should wish to approach as nearly as possible, and which, in some distant age, we hope may be reached completely. Syndicalism shares many of the defects of Anarchism, and, like it, would prove unstable, since the need of a central government would make itself felt almost at once.
The system we have advocated is a form of Guild Socialism, leaning more, perhaps, towards Anarchism than the official Guildsman would wholly approve. It is in the matters that politicians usually ignore– science and art, human relations, and the joy of life –that Anarchism is strongest, and it is chiefly for the sake of these things that we included such more or less Anarchist proposals as the “vagabond’s wage.” It is by its effects outside economics and politics, at least as much as by effects inside them, that a social system should be judged. And if Socialism ever comes, it is only likely to prove beneficent if non- economic goods are valued and consciously pursued.
The world that we must seek is a world in which the creative spirit is alive, in which life is an adventure full of joy and hope, based rather upon the impulse to construct than upon the desire to retain what we possess or to seize what is possessed by others. It must be a world in which affection has free play, in which love is purged of the instinct for domination, in which cruelty and envy have been dispelled by happiness and the unfettered development of all the instincts that build up life and fill it with mental delights. Such a world is possible; it waits only for men to wish to create it.
Meantime, the world in which we exist has other aims. But it will pass away, burned up in the fire of its own hot passions; and from its ashes will spring a new and younger world, full of fresh hope, with the light of morning in its eyes.