Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION - Socialistic Fallacies
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PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
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PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION
I take the word “fallacy” in the sense in which it is employed by Bentham1 :—“By the name of fallacy, it is common to designate any argument employed, or topic suggested, for the purpose, or with a probability, of producing the effect of deception—of causing some erroneous opinion to be entertained by any person to whose mind such argument may have been presented.”
In the following pages my object has been to reduce to their true value the socialistic fallacies with which a number of able, but frequently unscrupulous, men, amuse the idle and attract the multitude. They do not even possess the merit of having originated either their arguments or their systems. They are plagiarists, with some variations, of all the communist romances inspired by Plato. Their greatest pundits, Marx and Engels, have built up their theories upon a sentence of Saint Simon and three phrases of Ricardo.2
What has become of the Utopias of Fourier and of Cabet, of Louis BlanC's organisation of labour, of Proudhon's bank of exchange, of Lassalle's question of the right to work and of the iron law of wages, and of Karl Marx' and Engels' Communistic Manifesto? As soon as you attempt a discussion with Socialists, they tell you that “the Socialism which you are criticising is not the true one.” If you ask them to give you the true one, they are at a loss, thereby proving that, if they are agreed upon the destruction of capitalist society, they do not know what they would substitute for individual property, exchange and wages. In June, 1906, M. Jaurès promised to bring forward within four or five months propositions for legislation which should supply a basis for collectivist society. He takes good care not to formulate them because he foresees the risk to which he would be exposing himself, despite the incomplete development in him of a sense of the ridiculous.
No Socialist has succeeded in explaining the conditions for the production, remuneration and distribution of capital in a collectivist system. No Socialist has succeeded in determining the motives for action which individuals would obey. When pressed for an answer, they allege that human nature will have been transformed.
This introduces a difficulty; for, if I am hungry or thirsty, can someone else, in a collectivist society, give me relief? When Denys the Tyrant had a stomach-ache, he never succeeded in handing it on to a slave. Torquemada, by torturing and burning heretics and Jews, was able to prevent the expression of ideas; he never succeeded in changing one. The individual remains a constant quantity.
While leaving out of account the fact that the more the individual develops, the stronger will be the resistance he offers to every kind of repression, collectivists end in a government by police on the model of those of the Incas in Peru or the Jesuits in Paraguay.1 “The proletarian class will govern,” says Karl Marx, but he does not explain how. Mr. Carl Pearson, one of the “intellectuals” of Socialism who has the courage of his convictions, recently said: “Socialists have to inculcate that spirit which would give offenders against the State short shrift and the nearest lamp-post.”2 The reader will be referred hereafter to another quotation which proves that, in a slightly modified form, this is also the opinion of M. Deslinières.3
While awaiting this happy consummation, the Stuttgart Congress has reaffirmed, on August 20th, 1907, that he only can be recognised as a true Socialist who adheres to the struggle of classes. According to this conception, the wish of one class constitutes law; audacious minorities will oppress intimidated majorities, and the social war is to rage permanently. These Socialists transfer all the conceptions of a warlike civilisation to economic society; the individual who is enrolled among their troops owes passive obedience to his leaders, and the independents are enemies to be received with the classic option of “your money or your life!” Socialism is a hierarchy on a military basis, imported from Germany, as M. Charles Andler proclaims.4 When they reserve all their energies against their fellow-citizens, the supporters of the struggle of classes are logical; for it is not worth troubling to take from a neighbour who would defend himself that which will be within reach of their hands on the day when they attain to power. The French Socialists show how they will employ their power, by celebrating the anniversary of the Commune; and those of them—such as the leaders of the General Confederation of Labour—who claim to be practical, put before their levies as an ideal, a general strike, accompanied by the destruction of industrial property and plant, short circuits, explosions of gas and of dynamite, and the derailment and holding up of trains.
Mr. James Leatham, in a pamphlet entitled “The Class War,”1 says that “the Independent Labour Party is the only Socialist party in Europe, probably in the world, which does not accept, but explicitly repudiates, the principle of the class war.” But the Social Democratic Federation, founded by Mr. William Hyndman, which in 1907 became the Social Democratic party, “proclaims and preaches the class war.”2 The Independent Labour Party is unable to adhere to this totidem verbis. By the force of circumstances, its programme confines it to practical matters, since it admits of the power of confiscation of private property. The Labour Party, which from 1900 to 1906 was known as the Labour Representation Committee and now forms the Parliamentary Labour Party, does not dissemble as to its programme. At the eighth annual conference at Hull in January, 1908, the following resolution was endorsed by 514,000 votes to 469,000:—
That in the opinion of the Conference the time has arrived when the Labour Party should have a definite object, the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange, to be controlled by a democratic state in the interests of the entire Community; and the complete emancipation of Labour from the domination of capitalism and landlordism with the establishment of social and economic equality between the sexes.”
Even if a large majority be not associated with this declaration, the Labour Party has absorbed the Trade Union group in the House of Commons, which numbered twenty-one members after the General Election of 1906. The Labour Party put forward fifty candidates, of whom thirty were elected. But the Miners' Federation decided in June, 1908, by a majority on the ballot of 44,843 votes, definitely to join the Labour Party. The result of this is that at the next General Election the fifteen miners' members of the Trade Union group will have to sign the Labour Party constitution. At the end of 1908 there were remaining only three members of the Trade Union group.1
The Social Democratic Party carries the Independent Labour Party along with it: the two combined in the Labour Party carry the Trade Union group, and although the Labour Party numbers less than fifty votes in the House, it is sweeping towards Socialism the majority of 380 members of the Liberal Party elected in 1906. These latter refuse to listen to the warnings of their colleague Mr. Harold Cox, who was informed by the representative of the Preston Liberal Association that it was intended to contest his seat at the General Election.2
The programme of the Labour Party includes:— (a) The collective regulation of industry; (b) the gradual direct transference of land and industrial capital from individual to collective ownership and control; (c) absorption by the State of unearned income and unearned increment; (d) provision for needs of particular sections of the community.
The Socialists may claim with pride that the advance has already begun along each of these lines.
Since the coming into office of the present Government they have obtained the Trade Disputes Act, which formally recognises the right of picketing, that is the right to intimidate as against non-strikers, and relieves the Trade Unions of all legal responsibility with regard to their agents. A Coal Mines Bill (1909) provides that no miner shall work underground for more than eight hours a day. Using the sweating system as a pretext, they have obtained the constitution of Wages Boards, with power to fix a minimum wage. Despite the French experience of “Bourses du Travail,” Mr. Winston Churchill has introduced a Bill for the establishment of Labour Exchanges which has scarcely met with any opposition. In 1908, the Old Age Pensions Act provided that as from the 1st of January, 1909, old age pensions may be claimed by all persons of 70 years or over who fulfil the statutory conditions.
Until 1906 the Liberal and Democratic party in Great Britain placed in the forefront of its programme the relief of the taxpayer by the reduction of the National Debt and the decrease of taxation. It prided itself on its sound finance. From the time when the Socialists try to make the State provide for the livelihood and the happiness of all, the Liberal Government bases its existence upon the increase of expenditure. The Budget shews a deficit. So much the better! Taxation is no longer imposed solely for the purpose of meeting expenditure incurred in the general interest. It is looked upon as an instrument for the confiscation of the rents paid to landlords and of the interest paid to holders of stocks and shares, as a means of absorption by the State of unearned income and unearned increment. The Budget for 1909-1910 introduced by Mr. Lloyd George is an application of this portion of the Socialist programme. No doubt he states that the scale of taxation proposed by him is a modest one, but he is placing the instrument in the hands of the Socialists. When they have once grasped it, they will know how to use it. Mr. Shackleton, M.P., in opening the Trade Union Congress on September 6th, 1909, referred to it as “a Budget which will rank as the greatest financial reform of modern times.”
The Socialists may well be proud of their success in Great Britain. Although they number less than nine per cent. of the members of the House of Commons, they have succeeded in conferring the privilege of irresponsibility upon the Trade Unions, in laying the foundation in the Budget for the socialisation of land and of industrial capital and in converting financial legislation into an instrument for the struggle of classes. And Mr. Keir Hardie was able, on September 1st, 1909, at Ipswich, to say without covering himself with ridicule, that the present generation will see the establishment of Socialism in England! The question of the unemployed is an excellent means of agitation, and Mr. Thorne, M.P., has not hesitated to advise them to plunder the baker's shops. If his advice had been followed, where would bread have been found on the following day?
Socialistic policy can only be a policy of ruin and of misery: the question which it involves is that of free labour actuated by the motive of profit as against servile labour induced by coercion. The Socialist ideal is that of slave labour, convict labour, pauper labour and forced labour—a singular conception of the dignity of the labourer. As regards its economic results, Mr. St. Leo Strachey cites the following, among other examples, in his excellent little book, Problems and Perils of Socialism. In 1893, Mr. Shaw Lefevre, as Commissioner of Public Works, arranged to pull down a part of Millbank Prison by means of the unemployed. When these men worked with the knowledge that their pay would vary according to the work done, they did twice as much as when they knew that whether they worked or idled their pay would be 6½d. an hour.
The prospect of gain does not exercise its influence only upon the wage-earner, it reacts upon all men, financiers, employers of labour, and investors, because it admits of an immediate and certain sanction, that of gain or loss.
A private employer will make profits where the State suffers loss. While individuals make profits and save, governments are wasteful and run into debt. Statesmen and local officials are free from direct responsibility, and know that they will not go bankrupt and that the taxpayers will foot the bill.
A fakir no doubt will torture himself in order to attain to superhuman felicity. Millions of men have submitted to the cruel necessities of war and have given their lives for their family, their caste, their tribe or their country. Others have braved persecution and suffered the most atrocious tortures for their faith. It may be said that man is ready for every form of sacrifice, except one. Nowhere and at no time has man been found to labour voluntarily and constantly from a disinterested love for others. Man is only compelled to productive labour by necessity, by the fear of punishment, or by suitable remuneration.
The Socialists of to-day, like those of former times, constantly denounce the waste of competition. Competition involves losses, but biological evolution, as well as that of humanity, proves that they are largely compensated by gain. Furthermore, there is no question of abolishing competition, in Socialist conceptions; the question is merely one of the substitution of political for economic competition. If economic competition leads to waste and claims its victims, it is none the less productive. Political competition has secured enormous plunder to great conquerors such as Alexander, Cæsar, Tamerlane and Napoleon; it always destroys more wealth than it confers upon the victor.
We have seen the operation of political competition in the internal economy of States. In the Greek Republics, and in those of Rome and Flor ence, in which the possession of power and of wealth was combined, it was impossible for parties to co-exist; the struggle of factions could only end in the annihilation of one and the relentless triumph of the other. This is the policy represented by Socialism.
The first result is to frighten capital, and capital defines the limits of industry. If it withdraws, industry decays and activity diminishes; and no trade union, strike or artificial combination can raise wages when the supply of labour exceeds the demand.
Mr. J. St. Loe Strachey entitles one of his chapters, “The richer the State, the poorer the People.” He says: “People sometimes talk as if the poor could be benefited by making the State richer.” Mr. St. Loe Strachey's answer is: “There is a certain amount of wealth in any particular country. Hence, whatever you place in the hands of the State you must take away from Brown, Jones and Robinson. You do not increase the total wealth.” The entire Socialist policy consists in taking away from individuals for oneself and one's friends. When this policy is practised by the highwayman in a story with a blunderbuss in his hand, it is called robbery, and the highway-man is pursued, captured, tried and hanged.
The Socialists formulate a theory of robbery and call it restitution to the disinherited. Disinherited by whom? Disinherited of what? Let them produce their title deeds! They call it expropriation, but that is a misnomer, what they set out to practice is confiscation. Under cover of the laws and in virtue of them, they get themselves elected as members of municipal bodies and legislative assemblies. In France, Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United States they seize upon the constitutional and legal means which are at the disposal of every citizen as they would take a rifle or a revolver at a gunsmith's. Once they have them in their hands they use them to put their system of spoliation into practice, this being the name given to legalised robbery. Instead of leading to the gallows, it leads to power, honours, position and wealth. The British Socialists adopt the ideal and carry out the policy of the Socialists of other countries with remarkable superiority. They rule the Liberal Party and, by annually introducing one of their postulates into legislation, gain a stage at each attempt.
In a remarkable volume published shortly before his death in 1908, entitled “English Socialism To-day,” Mr. H. O. Arnold-Foster put this question: “Ought we to fight Socialism?” And he began by saying, “It is a question which it is necessary to ask.” Can this be so? Is there then a number of those who desire liberty for the employment of their faculties, their energy, their capacity for work, and their capital in accordance with their wishes and in such manner as they consider most convenient to their interests, who are not convinced that they ought to defend their liberty of action against Socialist tyranny? Does a number of those who wish to reap the benefit of their labour, their efforts and of the risks they have incurred admit that the Socialists have a right to deprive them of it? How can people entertain doubts as to their right to work and their right to own property? They have suffered themselves to be hypnotised by Socialistic fallacies and verbiage until they are ready to obey injunctions which will forbid them to act without the sanction of the Socialist authority, and command them to surrender to that authority their property, their inheritances, their savings and the capital which they have acquired.
Mr. Arnold-Foster replies, “It is necessary that we should fight Socialism,” and we should do so not only from the point of view of our material interests, but also from that of politics and of morals. The triumph of Socialism would involve a step backward: for the competition of parties existing side by side, it would substitute the social war; it would arrest the evolutionary process which substitutes contract for statute, as set forth by Sir Henry Maine, and it would subordinate all actions to the dispositions of authority.1 The result would be a reign of slavery among the ruins.
There are people who resign themselves to the Socialist invasion, as some Romans in the period of the decline of the Empire resigned themselves to those of the barbarians. They say that the Socialists, being the more numerous (which is not the fact) and the stronger (which is open to doubt) are possessed of the enthusiasm of conquerors and must prevail. Wise and prudent folks therefore prepare to accommodate themselves to their tyranny, and are ready to pay court to them. They are already seeking to conciliate the Socialist leaders, salute them politely, and assure them of their readiness to make every sacrifice to carry a sound Socialism into effect. By such cowardice they think that they are taking good security for their own advantage. When their backs are turned they wink their eyes and nod their heads, as much as to say : “See what sly fellows we are. The Socialists think that they are conquering us, whereas it is we who are the conquerors. The best way to annihilate them is to give in to them.”
This haphazard policy was followed by a man with a reputation for vigour and perspicacity. Bismarck attempted to switch off Marxist Socialism into a bureaucratic Socialism—result, 3,200,000 Socialist votes in the elections to the Reichstag in 1907!
All those who make concessions to the Socialists weaken themselves for the Socialists' advantage. The Socialists cannot form a portion of a govern ment majority because, their programme being one of conflict and of pillage, they impose it as a condition of their co-operation, while the essential attribute of the State is the maintenance for all of internal and external security.
It has been said that a Socialist minister is not a minister who is a Socialist. How indeed could he be? As minister of justice, instead of protecting property and persons, he would have to recognise no right other than the pretensions of the “class” which he represents; as minister of finance, he would have to proclaim the bankruptcy of the State, a simple and practical means of nationalising debt and abolishing investors. A party, the primary obligation of whose representatives on attaining to power is to disown their programme, can destroy, but can construct nothing. They do not strengthen the administration to which they are admitted, but they are forthwith excommunicated by the Socialist party. We have seen instances in the case of M.M. Millerand, Briand and Viviani.
Even in England the Labour Representation Committee refused to continue to pay Mr. John Burns the allowance paid to Labour Members of Parliament, more than a year before he attained to office. Inasmuch as members of the House of Commons are unpaid, the committee wanted to force him to accept assistance from the Liberal party in order that they might be able to denounce him as a Liberal hack.1 In opening the Stuttgart Congress, Herr Bebel observed that the inclusion of John Burns in the British Cabinet had not modified the fighting tactics of the Labour Party.
It is a mistake to temporise with Socialist fallacies; it is necessary to expose their falsity and their consequences instead of humbly saying to those who propagate them, “Perhaps you are right, only possibly you are going rather far.”
M. Léon Say has repeatedly said that to refuse to give battle for fear of being beaten is to accept defeat. In France, governments and majorities in the Chamber of Deputies have acquired the habit of yielding to the commands of the General Confederation of Labour and to the threats of strikers. It will be seen hereafter1 that this weak policy has reduced the policy of violence to a system. At the time of writing, the masons are demanding kennels at the Labour Exchange for the dogs that are trained to track and hunt down non-strikers!
I trust that the failure of the general strike in Sweden, where the Labour Party claims to be the best organised in the world,2 will have the effect of reassuring the faint-hearted. The leaders of the Labour Federation ordered a general strike for the morning of August 4th, 1909, and their order was obeyed with docility by 250,000 workmen. The butchers, grocers and bakers found themselves without clerks or workmen. If the railway employees refused to run the risk of losing their pensions by breaking their contracts of labour, the tramway employees, who were bound by a collective contract, did not hesitate to tear it up. The “Social Demokrat” attempted to prove that they were entitled, and that it was their duty, to do so under conditions which created a case of moral force majeure. M. Jaurès on being consulted replied, according to M. Branting, the leader of the Swedish Socialists, that it was the undoubted duty of the workmen to keep their engagements, but that “this obligation could not deprive them of their legitimate means of defence.”3 This line of argument, borrowed from Escobar,4 did not capti vate public opinion. Various groups were organised for purposes of defence. Noblemen, bourgeois, officers, students and clerks went to work as they would have done in the case of a besieged city; there was no lack of food, the roads were swept, the hospitals kept open and order secured against the efforts of the strikers by the public security brigade. The Labour Federation had expected to turn over society like an omelette. It encountered a formidable resistance. The population of Sweden numbers 5,377,000. The 250,000 strikers who had declared war upon their fellow citizens learned that this majority had no intention of submitting to their good pleasure.
The government refused the part of mediator which some counsellors, full of good intentions, but wanting in perspicacity, advised them to assume. It did not tell the nation at large that it ought to give way, or advise the strikers not to be too exacting. It contented itself with its proper part—that of maintaining order.
The lesson is complete. M. G. Sorel, the doctrinaire member of the French General Confederation of Labour, without indulging in any illusions as to the possibility of a general strike, advised the Socialists to employ it as a myth, destined to seduce the ignorant and credulous masses. In order that they might continue to exploit it, they should have kept it alive in people's imaginations, and should not have attempted to introduce it into real life. The bogey became ridiculous when its inventors tried to materalise it. They have had an opportunity of seeing that the bourgeoisie does not allow itself to be plundered as easily as they imagined.1
Economic ignorance is a far more powerful factor in Socialism than cowardice. “It is much about the same from top to bottom of the social ladder,” said M. Louis Strauss recently, the distinguished president of the Belgian Conseil Supérieur du Commerce et de l'Industrie. By reason of this ignorance a number of grown-up children, who fancy themselves to be mature citizens, believe that the State can fix wages and the hours of labour, turn the employer out of his undertaking and replace him by inspectors, and secure markets for commodities, while raising their net cost according to the whims of parliamentary majorities.
In this book I have set forth economic facts which everyone is in a position to verify for himself. It is a manual for the use of all who are desirous of calling themselves familiar with the question, including Socialists who hold their opinions in good faith.
“The Book of Fallacies.” Introduction. Sect. I.
See infra, Book III., chap. 3.
See infra, Book I., chaps. ii. and v.
Carl Pearson, “Ethics of Free Thought,” p. 324 (quoted by Robert Flint, “Socialism,” p. 334).
See infra, Book IX., chap. iv. M. Desliniéres is the author of the Code Socialiste.
Communist Manifesto, vol. ii., p. 178.
“The Social Democratic Federation: its objects, its principles, and its works,” 1907.
“The Reformer's Year Book,” 1909, p. 27.
See the article by Mr. Cox (“Socialism in the House of Commons”) in the “Edinburgh Review” for 1907.
Yves Guyot. “La Dèmocratie individualiste.” Sir Henry Maine, “Ancient Law.”
”The Star,” February 10th, 1905.
Infra, Book VIII.
Lindley, The Trade Union Congress.
“The Times,” September 1st, 1909.
A Spanish casuist who advanced the proposition that “good intentions justify crimes.”
See infra, Book VIII., chap. ix.