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PART II  THE ECONOMICS OF A SOCIALIST COMMUNITY
SECTION II The Foreign Relations of a Socialist Community
1 The Spatial Extent of the Socialist Community
National Socialism and World Socialism
Early Socialism is marked by its predilection for a return to the simpler modes
of production of primitive times. Its ideal is the self-sufficing village, or, at
most, the self-sufficing province—a town around which a number of villages are grouped.
Being averse to all trade and commerce, its protagonists regard foreign trade as
something entirely evil which must be abolished. Foreign Trade introduces superfluous
commodities into the country. Since it was once possible to do without them, it
is obvious that they are unnecessary, and that only the extreme ease with which
they can be procured is responsible for the unnecessary expenditure upon them. Foreign
Trade undermines morality and introduces foreign ideas and customs. In Utopia the
stoic ideal of self-mastery was transmuted into the economic ideal of self-sufficiency.
Plutarch found it an admirable thing in Lycurgusan Sparta—as romantically conceived
in his day—that no merchant ship ever entered her harbours.
This attachment to the ideal of economic self-sufficiency, and their complete incapacity
to understand the nature of trade and commerce, led the Utopians to overlook the
problem of the territorial limits of the ideal state. Whether the borders of fairyland
are to be wider or narrower in extent does not enter into their considerations.
In the tiniest village there is space enough to realize their plans. In this way
it was possible to think of realizing Utopia tentatively in small instalments. Owen
founded the New Harmony community in Indiana. Cabet founded a small Icaria in Texas.
Considerant founded a model phalanstery in the same state. "Duodecimo editions of
the New Jerusalem," jeers the Communist Manifesto.
It was only gradually that socialists came to perceive that the self-sufficiency
of a small area could provide no foundation for Socialism. Thompson, a disciple
of Owen, remarked that the realization of equality among the members of one community
was far from signifying the realization of equality between the members of different
communities. Under the influence of this discovery, he turned to centralized Socialism.
Saint-Simon and his school were thorough centralizers. Pecqueur's schemes of reform
claimed to be national and universal.
Thus emerges a problem peculiar to Socialism. Can Socialism exist within limited
areas of the earth's surface? Or is it necessary that the entire inhabited world
should constitute a unitary socialistic community?
2 Marxian Treatment of this Problem
For the Marxian, there can be only one solution of this problem—the ecumenical solution.
Marxism, indeed, proceeds from the assumption that by an inner necessity, Capitalism
has already set its mark upon the whole world. Even to-day Capitalism is not limited
to a single nation or to a small group of nations. Even today it is international
and cosmopolitan. "Instead of the old local and national isolation and self-sufficiency,
world trade has developed and the interdependence of nations." The cheapness of
their commodities is the "heavy artillery" of the bourgeoisie. With the aid of this
it compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt bourgeois methods of production.
"It forces them to adopt so-called civilization, i.e. to become bourgeois. In a
word, it creates a world after its own image." And this is true not only of material
but also of intellectual production. "The intellectual productions of one nation
become the common property of all. National narrowness and exclusiveness become
daily more impossible, and out of the many national and local literatures a world
It follows, therefore, from the logic of the materialist interpretation of history
that Socialism too can be no national, but only an international phenomenon. It
is a phase not merely in the history of a single nation, but in the history of the
whole human race. In the logic of Marxism the question whether this or that nation
is "ripe" for Socialism cannot even be asked. Capitalism makes the world ripe for
Socialism, not a single nation or a single industry. The expropriators, through
whose expropriation the last step towards Socialism must be taken, must not be conceived
save as major capitalists whose capital is invested throughout the whole world.
For the Marxian, therefore, the socialistic experiments of the "Utopians" are just
as senseless as Bismarck's facetious proposal to introduce Socialism experimentally
into one of the Polish districts of the Prussian State. Socialism is an historical
process. It cannot be tested in a retort or anticipated in miniature. For the Marxian,
therefore, the problem of the autarky of a socialist community cannot even arise.
The only socialist community he can conceive comprehends the entire human race and
the entire surface of the globe. For him the economic administration of the world
must be unitary.
Later Marxians have, indeed, recognized that, at any rate for a time, the existence
of many independent socialist communities side by side must be anticipated. But,
once this is conceded one must go further and also take into account the possibility
of one or more socialist communities existing within a world which, for the most
part, is still capitalistic.
3 Liberalism and the Problem of the Frontiers
When Marx and, with him, the majority of recent writers on Socialism consider Socialism
only as realized in a unitary world state, they overlook powerful forces that work
against economic unification.
The levity with which they dispose of all these problems may not unreasonably be
attributed to what, as we shall see, was an entirely unjustifiable acceptance of
an attitude with regard to the future political organization of the world, which
was prevalent at the time when Marxism was taking form.
At that time, liberals held that all regional and national divisions could be regarded
as political atavisms. The liberal doctrine of free trade and protection had been
propounded—irrefutable for all time. It had been shown that all limitations on trade
were to the disadvantage of all concerned: and, arguing from this, it had been attempted
with success to limit the functions of the state to the production of security.
For Liberalism the problem of the frontiers of the state does not arise. If the
functions of the state are limited to the protection of life and property against
murder and theft, it is no longer of any account to whom this or that land belongs.
Whether the state extended over a wider or a narrower territory, seemed a matter
of indifference to an age which was shattering tariff barriers and assimilating
the legal and administrative systems of single states to a common form. In the middle
of the nineteenth century, optimistic liberals could regard the idea of a League
of Nations, a true world-state, as practicable in the not too far distant future.
The liberals did not sufficiently consider that greatest of hindrances to the development
of universal free trade—the problem of races and nationalities. But the socialists
overlooked completely that this constituted an infinitely greater hindrance to the
development of a socialistic society. Their incapacity to go beyond Ricardo in all
matters of economics, and their complete failure to understand all questions of
nationalism, made it impossible for them even to conceive this problem.
Poehlmann, Geschichte der sozialen Frage und des
Sozialismus in der antiken Welt, Vol. I, pp. 110 ff.; 123 ff.
Tugan-Baranowsky, Der moderne Sozialismus in seiner
geschichtlichen Entwicklung (Dresden, 1908), p. 136.
Pecqueur, Théorie nouvelle d'Économie sociale et
politique, p. 699.
Marx-Engels, Das Kommunistische Manifest, p. 26.
Bismarck's speech in the German Reichstag,
on February 19, 2878 (Fürst Bismarcks Reden, edited by Stein, Vol. VII, p. 34).
Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die
Sozialdemokratie (Vienna, 2907), p. 519.
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