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Socialism and American ideals   By: (1877-1956)

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SOCIALISM AND AMERICAN IDEALS

BY WILLIAM STARR MYERS, Ph.D. PROFESSOR OF POLITICS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS PRINCETON LONDON HUMPHREY MILFORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 1919

1919, by PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS

Published February, 1919 Printed in the United States of America

TO THE MEMORY OF SAMUEL SELDEN LAMB IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF A MUTUAL PROMISE MADE AT "DEAR OLD CHAPEL HILL"

PREFACE

The following essays originally appeared in the form of articles contributed at various times to the (daily) New York Journal of Commerce and Commercial Bulletin . Numerous requests have been received for a reprinting of them in more permanent form, and this little volume is the result.

I am deeply indebted to my friend Mr. John W. Dodsworth, of the Journal of Commerce , for his kind and generous permission to reprint these articles. Since numerous changes and modifications from the original form have been made the responsibility for these statements and the sentiments expressed rests entirely upon me.

I hope it is not necessary for me to say that this is not intended as an exhaustive study of the more or less widespread movement to advance paternalism in Government. My object is to lay before the people, in order that they may carefully consider them, the reasons for thinking that Socialism is in theory and practice absolutely opposed and contrary to the principles of Americanism, of democracy, and even of the Christian Jewish religion itself.

WM. STARR MYERS.

Princeton, N.J. November 28, 1918.

CONTENTS

Introduction Materialism and Socialism 3

I. The Conflict with the Idea of Equality of Opportunity 13

II. Why Socialism Appeals to Our Foreign Born Population 23

III. Its Conflict with the Basic Principles of Democracy and Religion 34

IV. Some Instances of its Practical Failure 54

V. The True Antidote Found in Co operative Effort 74

INTRODUCTION

MATERIALISM AND SOCIALISM

It was about a decade ago that Professor E.R.A. Seligman of Columbia University published his valuable work on the "Economic Interpretation of History," which gave a great impetus to the study, by historians, of the economic influences upon political and social development. Professor Seligman showed conclusively that one of the most potent forces in the growth of civilization has been man's reaction upon his material environment. Since that time the pendulum has swung so far in this direction that many students of history and economics would seem to think that all of life can be summed up in terms of materialism, that environment after all is the only important element in the advance of society, and that mankind is a rather negligible quantity. This is just as great a mistake as the former practice of ignoring economic influence, and even so great an authority as Professor Seligman would seem to tend in that direction.

On the other hand, Mr. George Louis Beer rightly claims that "the chief adherents of economic determinism are economists and Socialists, to whom the past is, for the most part, merely a mine for illustrative material. The latter, strangely enough, while explaining all past development by a theory that conceives man to be a mere self regarding automaton, yet demand a reorganization of society that postulates a far less selfish average man than history has as yet evolved."[1]

Most thoughtful people of to day know that the political and economic elements were just as strong as the religious one in the Protestant Reformation in Germany, but that fact by no means would lessen the value of the gains for intellectual and religious freedom that were won by Martin Luther. Again, bad economic conditions had as much, or more, to do with the outbreak of the French Revolution as did political and philosophical unrest... Continue reading book >>




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