Socialism as It Is: A Survey of the World-Wide Revolutionary Movement

By William English Walling | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
AGRARIAN "STATE SOCIALISM" IN
AUSTRALASIA

Australia and New Zealand are commonly taken as the most advanced of all countries in government ownership, labor reforms, and "State Socialism." Indeed they are often pictured as almost ideally governed, and the credulity with which such pictures are received shows the widespread popularity of "State Socialism."

The central principle of the Australian and. New Zealand reforms is, however, not government ownership or compulsory arbitration, as commonly supposed, but a land policy. By means of a progressive or graduated land tax it is hoped to break up all large estates and to establish a large number of small proprietors. When it was said to Mr. Fisher, the new "Labour Party" Premier of Australia, that this policy was not Socialism, he replied laconically, "It is my kind of Socialism." ( 1)

The "State Socialism" of Australia and New Zealand is fundamentally agrarian; its real basis is a modernized effort to establish a nation of small farm owners and to promote their welfare.

Next in importance and closely connected with the policy of gradually bringing about the division of the land among small proprietors, is the policy of the government ownership of monopolies. Already New Zealand is in the banking business, and the Australian Labour Party proposes a national bank for Australia. National life and fire insurance are instituted in New Zealand; the same measures are proposed for Australia. Already many railroads are nationally owned, and it is proposed that others be nationalized. Already extensive irrigation projects have been undertaken; it is proposed that the policy should be carried out on a wider scale. But the Australian Labour Party is not fanatical upon this form of "State Socialism." It does not argue, like the British Independent Labour Party, that the civilization of a community can be measured by the extent of collective

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