The competitive system: America has grown up in the spirit of the laissez faire philosophy: we have been taught to believe that if the government and the monopolists would not interfere, individual self interest working in the spheres of production and exchange would bring about the highest possible social efficiency. America has been the paradise of this laissez faire individualism. With millions of acres of free land to which the dissatisfied could go, and a continent to develop; with the absence of traditional authority and the presence of the most adventurous spirits of all countries, it is no wonder that individualism and competition appeal to the typical American. Then, too, the idea of the "Survival of the Fittest" introduced by Darwin, gave to competition a new scientific basis, so that even in these days of huge combinations, when Judge Gary of the United States Steel Corporation testifies before a Committee of the House of Representatives that competition in the steel industry is dead,1 a large element in the American population still wishes to destroy the "Trust" and rely upon competition to bring about substantial social justice.
This idea of the effectiveness of competition was illustrated by an economist of a past generation by a description of the provisioning of London, holding it to be self-evident that no public or monopolistic agency could meet the complex and multiform needs so well as they were met by the blind working of competition. But the people of London were not all fed. Perhaps as many as thirty per cent had to go hungry part of the time, then as now. Competition falls far short of efficiency.
Lack of coördination: In the laissez faire philosophy it was forgotten that individual liberty must be limited____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Elements of Socialism:A Text-Book. Contributors: John Spargo - Author, George Louis Arner - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1912. Page number: 19.
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