The Foes of Our Own Household

By Theodore Roosevelt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
SOCIALISM VERSUS SOCIAL REFORM

IT is always difficult to discuss a question when it proves impossible to define the terms in which that question is to be discussed. Therefore there is not much to be gained by a discussion of Socialism versus Individualism in the abstract. Neither absolute Individualism nor absolute Socialism would be compatible with civilization at all; and among the arguments of the extremists of either side the only unanswerable ones are those which show the absurdity of the position of the other. Not so much as the first step towards real civilization can be taken until there arises some development of the right of private property; that is, until men pass out of the stage of savage socialism in which the violent and the thriftless forcibly constitute themselves co-heirs with the industrious and the intelligent in what the labor of the latter produces. But it is equally true that every step toward civilization is marked by a check on individualism. The ages that have passed have fettered the individualism which found expression in physical violence, and we are

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