The Economics of Socialism Reconsidered

The Economics of Socialism Reconsidered

The Economics of Socialism Reconsidered

The Economics of Socialism Reconsidered

Excerpt

The subject of this book has been the main interest of all my adult life. My earliest years were spent in the company of two delightful old people to whom my mother was a combination of housekeeper and maid-of-all-work. They were poor, by middle-class standards, but they had kept their books and their music, one or two pictures and a few Roman coins in a cigar-box; at a very early age they taught me to read. Upon their death the scene changed with terrifying abruptness to one room in a slum, which I shared with my mother, my invalid father and my cat, and to an elementary school disorganized by the First World War. The latter I exchanged quite soon after, at thirteen, for the service of a multiple shop to which I contributed fifty-six hours of my life each week, receiving in return six shillings, the addition of which to my mother's irregular earnings as a charwoman effected the greatest proportional improvement in my standard of living which I have yet experienced.

No one around me seemed to think there was either anything wrong or anything avoidable in the way we lived, but, having started to browse in the public library, I discovered, first, that H. G. Wells wrote adventure stories which could provide a temporary way out into another world, and then that there were people called socialists who thought that there was a way out in reality. I poured over Wells and Shaw under the window of our room, which gave a restricted view of the windows of a provision merchant between the backs of a bookbinder and a chapel, until I had decided that I too was a socialist and that I had better find some more and do something about it. In the course of this process I discovered very soon that opinion among socialists was deeply divided on methods and on objectives: at this stage I had the enormous good fortune to come under the stimulating influence of that great teacher the late F. W. Cuthbertson. He confirmed my already dawning conviction that the principles I was asserting on carts at street corners needed careful examination, and would require great skill in application. Consequently I decided that . . .

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