William Morris- “What I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master’s man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brainslack brain workers, nor heartsick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all – the realisation at last of the meaning of the word commonwealth.”
William Morris, Art and Socialism (1884)
Nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making; or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers. Simple as that proposition is, and obviously right as I am sure it must seem to you, you will find, when you come to consider the matter, that it is a direct challenge to the death to the present system of labour in civilized countries. That system, which I have called competitive Commerce, is distinctly a system of war; that is of waste and destruction: or you may call it gambling if you will, the point of it being that under it whatever a man gains he gains at the expense of some other man’s loss. Such a system does not and cannot heed whether the matters it makes are worth making; it does not and cannot heed whether those who make them are degraded by their work: it heeds one thing and only one, namely, what it calls making a profit; which word has got to be used so conventionally that I must explain to you what it really means, to wit the plunder of the weak by the strong! Now I say of this system, that it is of its very nature destructive of Art, that is to say of the happiness of life. Whatever consideration is shown for the life of the people in these days, whatever is done which is worth doing, is done in spite of the system and in the teeth of its maxims; and most true it is that we do, all of us, tacitly at least, admit that it is opposed to all the highest aspirations of mankind.
Pasted from <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jmorris.htm>
Here I think Morris is saying that the system is wrong. And that all should be equal, and that no one should benefit from another’s plight. That mankind can be better, that we do not have to walk over others to gain material wealth or happiness. If everyone was equal the world would be a better place.
What is the difference between Marxism and Socialism?
Oct 7, 2007, 12.00am IST
What is the difference between Marxism and Socialism?
Socialism is a modern doctrine and is Western in origin, emerging with the development of industrial capitalism at the start of the nineteenth century. Socialism denotes a broad system of ideas. Marxism is a materialistic conception of history which seeks to explain the development of all societies and furthermore, make predictions about future social change. Marxists consider the material world, nature and society as constantly moving. Whereas, the socialists emphasise the organic unity of society. Marxists consider the material world as an integrated whole in which all things and phenomena are interconnected and interdependent. Whereas, socialists believe in equality and abolition of private enterprise. Marxism provides a scientific explanation of nature and society and hence, was a powerful instrument for revolutionary transformation. The society envisaged by socialists rests on certain values: redistribution of wealth to get rid of inequality, cooperative production to get rid of selfish competitors and new patterns of work and education to promote the growth of well-rounded individuals.
– Srijata Bhattacharya, Kolkata
Socialism has its attractions, but it also has its down side. I agree with Morris on the concept of equality which is lacking in a capitalist society. The capitalist state consists of a handful of elite ,who hold all the power and influence, Basic Communist ideology holds that the purpose of “the State” is to enforce social and economic disparity. According to Marxist thinking the State developed as a tool for a minority of people to oppress other people.
It is in the age of shepherds, in the second period of society, that the inequality of fortune first begins to take place, and introduces among men a degree of authority and subordination which could not possibly exist before. It thereby introduces some degree of that civil government which is indispensably necessary for its own preservation: and it seems to do this naturally, and even independent of the consideration of that necessity. The consideration of that necessity comes no doubt afterwards to contribute very much to maintain and secure that authority and subordination. The rich, in particular, are necessarily interested to support that order of things which can alone secure them in the possession of their own advantages. Men of inferior wealth combine to defend those of superior wealth in the possession of their property, in order that men of superior wealth may combine to defend them in the possession of theirs. All the inferior shepherds and herdsmen feel that the security of their own herds and flocks depends upon the security of those of the great shepherd or herdsman; that the maintenance of their lesser authority depends upon that of his greater authority, and that upon their subordination to him depends his power of keeping their inferiors in subordination to them. They constitute a sort of little nobility, who feel themselves interested to defend the property and to support the authority of their own little sovereign in order that he may be able to defend their property and to support their authority. Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all
– Adam Smith; The Wealth of Nations – 1776
Pasted from <http://www.rationalrevolution.net/war/communism_and_marxism.htm 13/04/13