Open main menu

Page:Studies in socialism 1906.djvu/216

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
166
Studies in Socialism

production, that English manufactures would not be able to compete successfully with foreign products, and that wages would necessarily fall, are partly true; but they prove only one thing, and that is that the industrial greatness of England can be maintained only by the barbarous treatment inflicted on the labourers, by the destruction of health, and the social, physical, and intellectual degradation of whole generations. Naturally, if the ten-hour bill were to become a legal measure, England would be immediately ruined; but because this law would necessarily involve others that would force her into a course of action diametrically opposed to that which she has pursued hitherto, the law would be a step in advance,"

What a spirit of mistrust he shows toward all partial reforms, what narrow limits he assigns to the forces of self-transformation innate in the industrial system! And when, fifty years afterwards, in 1892, Engels republished this book, he never dreamed for a moment of asking himself by what corruption of thought, by what systematic error, he had been led to such false ideas on the political and social movement in England. He preferred to view with complacency a work to which history had given the lie in almost every particular. It is then perfectly natural to suppose that Engels, with this fundamental conception of things, should have always inclined, as Marx did, to give precedence to the forces that in the capitalist system tend to lower the status of the