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Some Objections To Socialism From "The Atheistic Platform", Twelve Lectures   By: (1833-1891)

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From "The Atheistic Platform", Twelve Lectures

By Charles Bradlaugh.

London: Freethought Publishing Company

63, Fleet Street, E.C.



The great evils connected with and resulting from poverty evils which are so prominent and so terrible in old countries, and especially in populous cities have, in our own land compelled the attention, and excited the sympathy, of persons in every rank of society. Many remedies have been suggested and attempted, and from time to time, during the present century, there have been men who, believing that the abolition of individual private property would cure the misery abounding, have advocated Socialism. Some pure hearted and well meaning men and women, as Robert Owen, Abram Combe, and Frances Wright, have spent large fortunes, and devoted much of their lives in the essay to test their theories by experiments. As communities, none of these attempts have been permanently successful, though they have doubtless, by encouraging and suggesting co operative effort in England, done something to modify the fierceness of the life struggle, in which too often the strongest and most unscrupulous succeeded by destroying his weaker brother. Some Socialistic associations in the United States, as the Shakers and the Oneida community, have been held together in limited numbers as religious societies, but only even apparently successful, while the numbers of each community remained comparatively few. Some communities have for many years bravely endured the burden of debt, penury, and discomfort, to be loyal to the memory of their founder, as in the case at Icaria of the followers of Cabet. But in none of these was the sense of private property entirely lost; the numbers were relatively so small that all increase of comfort was appreciable, and in nearly all the communities there was option of the withdrawal of the individual, and with him of a proportion of the property he had helped to create or increase.

Particulars of all existing Socialistic communities in the United States are given in the works of Mr. Hinds and Mr. Nordhoff.

During the past generation, Socialistic theory has been specially urged in Germany, and the Socialist leaders there have acquired greater influence because of the poverty of the people, and because too of the cruel persecution to which Social Reformers, as well as Socialists, have been subjected by Prince Bismarck's despotic government.

A difficulty arising from the repressive measures resorted to in Germany has been that German emigrants to the United States and to Great Britain, speak and write as if precisely the same wrongs had to be assailed in the lands of their adoption as in the land of their birth.

Very recently in England and largely at the instance of foreigners there has been a revival of Socialist propaganda, though only on a small scale compared with fifty years ago, by persons claiming to be "Scientific Socialists," who declare that such Socialists as Robert Owen and his friends were Utopian in thinking that any communities could be successfully founded while ordinary society exists. These Scientific Socialists mostly middle class men declare their intense hatred of the bourgeoisie , and affirm that the Social State they desire to create can only be established on the ruins of the present society, by a revolution which they say must come in any event, but which they strive to accelerate. These Scientific Socialists deny that they ought to be required to propound any social scheme, and they contemptuously refuse to discuss any of the details connected with the future of the new Social State, to make way for which the present is to be cleared away. Most of the points touched on in this lecture were raised in the discussion on Socialism between myself and Mr. Hyndman recently held in St. James's Hall. Others of the questions have been raised in my articles in Our Corner , and in the reply there by Mr... Continue reading book >>

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