According to this philosophy the social dy namic which compels advance is the continuous improvement of the processes of production. Every new invention and every improvement in the organization of industry starts in motion a series of influences which do not cease until they have reached and affected every institution within the society of which they form the indus trial basis. During the last 100 years mechanical improvements have multiplied many fold the productive power of each individual worker. But the army of unemployed prevent the price of labor power as a whole from rising much above the point necessary to maintain the efficiency of the wage-worker as a producer. Consequently the workers who use these im proved instruments receive but a small fraction of the greatly multiplied product. They have no choice under the present system but to accept these conditions. While production is for sale in the competitive market only the cheapest can continue to produce. If the workers are to produce, and they cannot live without pro ducing, since they have no power of ownership to take from other producers, they must gain access to these highly perfected tools. Hence they compete with one another for the privilege of using them, and of selling their labor-power to the owners of the tools. They finally accept a wage-contract by which, for the privilege of producing their own wages during the first hour or two of work, they continue at work for many hours more, producing surplus value for the owner of the means of production which they use.
Improvements in production often take other than mechanical forms. The modern trust is, to some extent, to be considered as such an improvement. Socialist writers pointed out over a half century ago the self-destructive character of competition. It was then foreseen that one of the inherent characteristics of large industry was its greater economy as compared with smaller competitors. Consequently the large in dustry tended to eliminate all smaller competi tors within the circle of its market. Improve ments in transportation, communication and storage rapidly extended the circle of the mar ket to national, and for some products, at least, to international dimensions. When, however, there are sufficient plants constructed to more than supply any circle of the market and com petition is reduced to a few industrial units, the wastes of competition and the destructive ness of competitive war become so evident that combination is inevitable. The result is some one of the various forms of combination by which competition is stifled and monopoly es tablished.
The wage-workers seek political victory in order that they may impress their interests upon the social organism and thereby remove the evils under which they suffer at the present time. Since most of the evils of which they complain spring from the fact that they are debarred from access to natural resources and the in struments for the production and distribution of wealth, their first demand is that such access be freely granted. But free access implies legal
ownership and with modern concentrated com plex industry this ownership cannot be indi vidual unless all the evils of the present system are retained. Hence, we have a demand for collective ownership.
Thus Socialism as a philosophy is mainly an analysis of capitalism. As an ideal, as a social stage, it presupposes the capitalist system, since that can alone prepare the way for Socialism.
This future system, or ideal, is in no sense of the word a scheme whose adoption is asked for by the Socialists. It is simply the next logical stage in social evolution. Socialists do not attempt, therefore, to give any details of that future society since all such details will be dependent upon the decision of a majority of the working class of that future time, and upon the stage of industrial development which has been attained when Socialism -is ushered in. Since both of these factors are manifestly im possible of being known at the present time, any attempt to forecast their outcome would be equally impossible. All that can be said is that present tendencies of social development show what must be a few of the general features of the next social stage.
Socialists maintain that the coming society will be preferable to the present one, especially for the working class. With a collective demo cratically managed organization of industry, in which natural resources and the mechanical means for the production and distribution of wealth have their ownership vested in society, and where production is for the direct use of the producers and not for sale, the wastes of the present system will be largely abolished. Among these wastes which will be abolished are advertising, duplication of plants and power, poor utilization of mechanical progress, disad vantageous geographical location of industries, etc. Some of these are already being abolished by the trust method of production. But at the present time the saving accomplished redounds almost wholly to the benefit of the few owners of the trustified industry. In addition to this, Socialists maintain that much greater savings would be made under Socialism by the utiliza tion in productive labor of the energies of whole classes of the population from whose strength and ability society, at present, derives little or no advantage. This would be true, for example, not alone of the present army of the unemployed amounting in the United States to between 1,000,000 and 3,000,000, accord ing to industrial conditions, but also the purely capitalist class whose functions of ownership being performed collectively would enable the members of that class to directly assist in production. By far the larger share of that portion of the population concerned in the protection of individual property rights in what Socialism would make collective prop erty, such as lawyers, judges, police, private watchmen, detectives and the army and navy, could also he changed into productive workers.