I set about writing this book because, whether I liked it or not, I had been compelled by the movement of events to think out afresh my social and political creed. I do not mean by this that my fundamental views had changed; and certainly I have no dramatic act of conversion to offer to my readers. But I did feel the need to start thinking again as near as I could to fundamentals; and I felt this none the less for being fairly certain that the result would be not a recantation, but only a restatement of the old conclusions. In one sense—the more basic—my political opinions remain what they were; in another sense they are a good deal altered. I have been a Socialist for about twenty years, and I am, if anything, rather more a Socialist than ever; but my conception of Socialism has changed perforce with a changing world. The problems of to-day are not the problems of twenty years ago; and the solutions that then seemed all-important now look, in some cases, almost irrelevant. And, above all, the people have changed. The new generation is, in certain respects, markedly unlike the old.
This, of course, is not at all surprising. Twenty years ago, Socialism was still in the main an exercise in fantasy. It was already exerting a powerful influence on the movement of social policy, and much legislation contained a socialistic element. But the complete adoption of Socialism as a way of ordering the community's affairs was not within the region of immediate practical politics. In Great Britain the Labour Party was still a weak third party, hanging on to the Liberal coat-tails; and the Labour Party of those days was at most but semi-Socialist even