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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/595

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

MARCH, 1891.


 

SUPPOSED TENDENCIES TO SOCIALISM.[1]
By WILLIAM GRAHAM, M. A.,

PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND JURISPRUDENCE, QUEEN'S COLLEGE, BELFAST.

THERE are others besides Herbert Spencer who discern socialism as the end or logical outcome of certain tendencies which now prevail or which are thought to prevail; and, as all prophecies in modern times must be based on what we know of existing tendencies, supplemented by what history tells us of the course of similar tendencies in the past, it is a matter of importance to know how far such tendencies do really exist, and, if they do, to gauge, if possible, their probable momentum, and to judge whether they are likely to be permanent or passing, because confident prophecies have been hazarded on the strength of certain tendencies, while at the very moment of the prophecy a counter-tendency was setting in.[2]

The alleged tendencies to socialism are chiefly two: the tendency of the state to widen its functions, especially in the economic sphere; and the tendency to increased concentration of wealth. As to the former, there is no doubt that the modern state has a tendency to widen the range of its activity in the economic sphere, as also in the interests of culture, and this tendency is to a certain extent socialistic. The tendency exists; it has increased in England during the present century, especially since the passing of the first Factory Acts in 1844. It has increased especially in the legislative sphere, and as far as the regulation of industry is con-


  1. From Socialism New and Old, by William Graham. International Scientific Series, No. LXVIII. In press of D. Appleton & Co.
  2. As in the case of De Tocqueville's celebrated prophecy that nothing could stop the tide setting toward democracy and the equality of conditions, although a counter-tide toward a new inequality had already set in, with, as a consequence of it, the rise of a new aristocracy or plutocracy in all western Europe.