William Morris as an Exponent of Socialism

William Morris as an Exponent of Socialism  (1905) 
by Samuel Williams Cooper

address before the Browning Society, of Philadelphia, on December 14, 1905

The Anarchists say that all the ills of humanity come from monopolies or government,—that there has not been an effort made by society for its betterment which has not been met by an appeal to authority. Reformers have been burned at the stake, slavery upheld as a divine institution, countless millions slaughtered in wars of conquest and aggression, and, in general, the mass of humanity made the slaves of a few rulers. Class legislation, the prevention of competition, the monopolizing of the means of existence, have resulted in political knavery, civic unrighteousness, and commercial Iniquity, and have indoctrinated mankind with a lust for criminal gain which has destroyed most of that which was good within him. The reflex action on humanity has poisoned the pure streams of morality which spring from the free earth. They claim that, under State Socialism, we would have a policeman to thump into us health, wealth, and wisdom, and to tell us what to eat, drink, or wear. There would be State doctors, State bar-tenders, State pie-inspectors, State nurseries, and State families.

They say there is no magic whatever in the name "State." The State, they say, is merely a corporation organized by authority, the powers of which have now been taken possession of by the wealthy and privileged classes. Its purpose are not the prevention of aggression, but committing aggression, the enforcing of codes of bad morals, and holding the people in slavery.

They say this corporation is supported largely by criminals, [52] who are the managers of the same, and that it commits more crimes of violence and more robbery than all the rest of society; that it manufactures criminals by means of its criminal laws; that, by permitting the organization of sub-State bodies,

—private corporations,—it allows industrial buccaneers and privateers with roving letters of marque to embark on the high seas of commerce, ready to destroy all honest merchantmen; that its patent and copyright Jaws, its laws for restriction of free trade, and all the mass of class legislation which it has built up, are only the means whereby the poor are exploited and the monopolists made rich beyond the dreams of romance.

They say that all attempts to make people good by having corporate legislators pass certain enactments, and then filing them away in pigeon holes, is futile, and they claim that humanity cannot be raised, like hothouse flowers, but should be allowed natural growth.

They claim that, under a natural condition, in which society was not interfered with by the police, morality would develop, and that, by unions, associations, societies, and clubs, organized for the purpose of carrying on any necessary operation of society, people would be far better off morally, mentally, physically, and financially, and that there would not be the enormous economic waste which is incident to governmental control.

They claim that by voluntary organization for the prevention of aggression mankind would be much safer than it can possibly be under present conditions.

These and many more things they Claim, which it might be worth while to look into, for many of them seem to bear critical examination.