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TO THE READER.
A dialogue on Political Optimism” in the Nineteenth Cen. tury for August, 1880, contains the following language:
“We see that political systems in all progressive societies tend toward socialistic democracy. We see everywhere that it must come to that. We all of us feel this conviction, or all of us, I suppose, who have reflected on the matter. We feel, too, that nothing we can do can avert or possibly long delay the consunimation. Then, we must believe that the movement is being guided, or is guiding itself to happy issues."
This passage may serve as a key to the following pages. They have been written that you may see that the social and political phenomena in all progressive countries, and particularly in our own country and Great Britain, are, in a perfectly natural manner, evolving a New Social Order, a Social Democratic Order, which we have called The Cooperative Commonwealth; in other words, — to speak pointedly, - that Socialism is no importation, but a home-growth, wherever found. They are written to give you good reasons for expecting that this New Social Order will be, indeed, a “happy issue” to the brain-worker as well as to the hand-worker, to woman as well as to man. They are written to give reasons for our convictions that it must come to that, here as elsewhere, within a comparatively short period, or to barbarism. Barbarism! - Yes.
Let not yourself be led astray by the remarkable increase everywhere of wealth on the whole, possibly the under-current is, nevertheless, carrying us swiftly backwards. Suppose you had told a Roman citizen in the age of Augustus that his proud country then had entered on its decline,
as every school-boy now knows it had, he would have thought you insane. Now, the many striking parallels between that period and the times in which we are living
must have forced themselves on your attention, if you are of a reflective turn of mind, as we assume you are. You will liave observed the same destructive forces to which History attributes the fall of pagan Rome busily at work under your very eyes. You see the saine mad chase after wealth; you find everywhere the same deadening scepticism in regard to high ideals. You observe in all our centres of activity a corruption I will not say as great as, but promising in due time to rival that of the Roman Empire. Be careful not to be too scornful if we prophesy that in, say, twenty-five years from now,-if not the Cooperative Commonwealth should then, perchance, be realized the demagogues of New York City will buy voters by free public feasts and theatricals, that you will hear the cry of "panem et circenses” "give us bread and circuses,” if you live then ! Indeed, we have already read in the N. Y. Tribune : "Every one of our civil Justices has give en a day's .outing 'to the wives and children of his district." Even now in many of the States wealth seems a pre-requisite to the attainment of Senatorial honors and millionaires and song of millionaires are bidding for seats in the lower house of Congress.
But, for reasons hereafter set forth, we do not believe our race will return to barbarism. The Roman Empire was saved from that fate, finally, by being reanimated. Our age as fully needs reanimation as the period of the Cæsars. We shall be reanimated : history will once more see Society reconstructed on a new basis.
Says lluxley: "The reconstruction of Society on a scientific basis is not orly possible, but the only political object much worth striving for." True, emphatically true! Except so far as it is implied in this sentence that any individual or any nation can go to work and arbitrarily reconstruct Society on a scien. tific or any other basis.
Socialism-modern Socialism, German Socialism, which is fast becoming the Socialisin the world over-holds that the impending reconstruction of Society will be brought about by the Logic of Events; teaches that The Coming Revolution is strictly an Evolution Socialists of that school reason from no