The Socialism of Our Times: A Symposium

The Socialism of Our Times: A Symposium

The Socialism of Our Times: A Symposium

The Socialism of Our Times: A Symposium

Excerpt

Pure pragmatism has never been a philosophy of power to guide men's acts. Opportunism or the doctrine of doing the next thing may at times be politically expedient but it is never an organizing creed for the multitudes. "We don't know where we're going but we're on our way" is no rallying cry for crusaders. The American Revolution was won less on the detailed grievances set forth in the Declaration of Independence than on the daring generalizations with which it begins.

It was the supreme service of Karl Marx that he gave to the vague grievances and aspirations of the oppressed workers a philosophy, a religion, a relationship with cosmic forces. He supplied those generalizations by which Dean Inge well says men live. Harold J. Laski has brought this out in a passage worth repeated quoting: ground. It almost created a proletarian consciousness by

"The Manifesto gave direction and a philosophy to what had been before little more than an inchoate protest against injustice. It began the long process of welding together the scattered groups of the disinherited into an organized and influential party. It freed socialism from its earlier situation of a doctrine cherished by conspirators in defiance of government and gave to it at once a purpose and in historic backgiving, and for the first time, to the workers, at once a high sense of their historic mission and a realization of the dignity implicit in their task. It destroyed at a stroke both the belief that socialism could triumph without long preparation, and the hope that any form of economic organization was possible save that which was implicit in the facts of the time. It insisted upon no natural rights. It did not lay down any metaphysics. It was, on the contrary, a careful and critical historical survey of the institutional process regarded . . .

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