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Littre's Dictionary of the French Language:

A system which, subordinating political reforms, offers a plan of social reforms. Communism, Mutualism, Saint-Simonism, Fourierism, are Socialisms.


A political doctrine tending to establish égalitaire association as the basis of government.

Dictionary of the French Academy:

The doctrine of those who desire to change the condition of society and reconstruct it on an entirely new plan.

Cassell & Co.'s Encyclopædic Dictionary (1887):

Scientific Socialism embraces :

(1) Collectivism: An ideal Socialistic state of society, in which the functions of the government will include the organization of all the industries of the country. In a Collectivist State every person would be a State official, and the State would be coextensive with the whole people.

(2) Anarchism (meaning mistrust of government and not abandonment of social order) would secure individual liberty against encroachment on the part of the State in the Socialistic commonwealth. They are divided into Mutualists, who hope to attain their ends by banks of exchange and free currency, and Communists, whose motto is, "From every man according to his capacity, to every man according to his needs."

From this interesting assortment of broad-gauge and narrow-gauge definitions the Anarchists can glean as much encouragement as the Collectivists. None of them are authoritative. The makers of dictionaries are dependent upon specialists for their definitions. A specialist's definition may be true or it may be erroneous. But its truth cannot be increased or its error diminished by its acceptance by the lexicographer. Each definition must stand on its own merits. With this remark as a preface, I offer once more the definition of Socialism which I printed in these columns nearly two years ago, and am willing to leave it to the reader whether it meets the requirements of a scientific definition more or less satisfactorily than the definitions in the dictionaries:

"Socialism is the belief that the next important step in progress is a change in man's environment of an economic character that shall include the abolition of every privilege whereby the holder of wealth acquires an anti-social power to compel tribute."