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In the year 1900, a student would have searched American literature in vain for any adequate expression of socialism written by a sympathetic student of the subject in this country, and published by a non-socialist publishing house. From that year until the outbreak of the European war, however, volume after volume issued from the press and, by the summer of 1914, practically every phase of socialist theory and tactics had been carefully treated.
Since the first of August, 1914, revolutionary changes have taken place in the socialist movement and philosophy. In many countries socialist theory, for the first time, under the most difficult circumstances, has been brought face to face with reality, and the socialist movement has evolved from a small, minority group to a powerful factor in the life of the people.
The war has given a great impetus to the guild socialist idea, with its emphasis on producers' control of industry and its insistence on the development of personality as the ultimate goal of society. It has afforded world-wide publicity to the soviet form of the state, with its demand for occupational representation and its temporary tatorship of the proletariat.” It has witnessed the de
1 The most noteworthy book on socialism at that time was Socialism and Social Reform, by Professor Richard T. Ely, an opponent of socialism. There were also Bellamy's utopian writings, Laurence Gronlund's Coöperative Commonwealth, pamphlet literature and a number of translations and importations.
velopment of the “ revolutionary communism” of the Moscow International,- advocate of mass action and of the immediate transformation of industrial society. It has changed the attitude of many groups of socialists toward international warfare and toward scores of other problems. These new tendencies have been noted in innumerable pamphlets written in dozens of languages. This, however, is the first attempt to deal with these recent developments within the pages of one volume.
“ Socialism in Thought and Action ” aims to do more than to record the recent progress of the movement. Students of socialism have generally agreed that any comprehensive treatment of this subject should involve a discussion of the socialist criticism of present day society, the socialist theory of economic development, the socialist conception of a future social state and the activities, achievements, and present status of the organized socialist movement in various countries of the world. These phases are here treated as fully as space will permit.
During the last few years it has been my privilege to address scores of college classes under the auspices of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, an educational organization formed “ to promote an intelligent interest in socialism among college men and women.” At these lectures certain well defined objections to socialism were continually urged. This volume states the most important of these objections and the socialist's answer thereto.
I have tried in these pages to express the thought of the organized movement and of its acknowledged spokesmen, rather than to record my own point of view. I have also endeavored to avoid abstractions and to connect socialist theory with the concrete life of to-day.
It is my hope that the present volume may serve as a
textbook for college classes and other study groups and as a ready reference book for the thinkers and the doers who have come to realize that an intelligent understanding of this greatest mass movement of the twentieth century is absolutely essential to enlightened citizenship.
Among those to whom acknowledgments are due for suggestions I wish to express my indebtedness to Gregory Zilboorg, secretary of the Ministry of Labor under Kerensky, to Evans Clark and Alexander Trachtenberg for their helpful suggestions in regard to the chapter on “ The Russian Revolution,” and to Ludwig Lore and Traugott Boehme for their criticism of the chapter on “The German Revolution.” Acknowledgment is due to Ordway Tead, Professor Paul H. Douglas and others for many helpful suggestions during the early stages of the manuscript.
I wish to convey my special thanks to Jessie W. Hughan and to Mary R. Sanford for their careful reading of practically the entire manuscriptsand for their invaluable suggestions.
HARRY W. LAIDLER. 70 Fifth Ave., N. Y. City, December, 1919.