Read KISMET of Socialism: Positive and Negative , free online book, by Robert Rives La Monte, on

“Verily I say unto you. That there be some of them that stand here
which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of
God come with power.” Mark, ix, 1.

The very close analogy between primitive Christianity and Modern Socialism has often been pointed out both by materialists, such as Enrico Ferri, and by Churchmen, such as the Reverend Doctor Hall.

We find in both the doctrine of the Advent. The primitive Christian believed in all simplicity and sincerity that he should not taste death until the Son of Man had come and established upon earth His kingdom of justice, peace and brotherhood. The Marxian Socialist to-day is even more sure that men and women now living will bear a part in the Social Revolution which is to usher in the reign of Fellowship on earth. The secret of the propaganda power of both movements is in the sincerity of this conviction.

Just at this point we are often met with two queries, both of which bear witness to the persistence of the utopian tadpole tails of the questioners. The first question is: If the early Christians were sincere and yet mistaken, may not the Socialists also be mistaken in their doctrine of the inevitability of Socialism? The second question is: If Socialism is inevitable is coming anyhow why do you Socialists vex your souls agitating for it?

The doubt of the inevitability of Socialism on analysis is always found to be a doubt of the pro-socialist desires and actions of the Proletariat. No one disputes that the Capitalist system is breaking down. With the great mass of the producers receiving bare subsistence wages the impossibility of disposing of the almost miraculously stupendous product of modern machines and processes is mathematically demonstrable. The former paradox of the Socialist agitator, that the Utopian is the man who believes in the possibility of the continuance of the present system, has become a platitude. Nor can many be found to dispute the statement that the centralization of industry in the United States has reached a point where Socialism is economically entirely practicable. The doubt of the sceptics is: Will the workers create, in the language of economics, an effective demand for Socialism? Two eminent Utopians have voiced this doubt in the recent past. Their names are George D. Herron and Daniel DeLeon. Both alike forget that the desires, ideals, and motives of the proletariat cannot but be in harmony with their economic environment, and I do not think that either of them would deny that, as we near the downfall of Capitalism, the economic environment will more and more imperatively drive men to Socialism as the only avenue of escape from chaos and pessimism. On this point, of the motives to action of the individual being formed by economic conditions, Marx wrote in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”: “On the various forms of property, on the conditions of social existence, there rises an entire superstructure of various and peculiarly formed sensations, illusions, methods of thought and views of life. The whole class fashions and moulds them from out of their material foundations and their corresponding social relations. The single individual, in whom they converge through tradition and education, is apt to imagine that they constitute the real determining causes and the point of departure of his action.” (Prof. Seligman’s translation.)

The man who has thoroughly assimilated the doctrine of historical materialism cannot for a moment doubt the inevitability of Socialism. The utopianism which evinces itself in this doubt may be depended upon to betray itself elsewhere in the views of the doubters. We find that this is signally true in the case of the two illustrious utopian sceptics I have mentioned. The Natural Rights platform that Professor Herron wrote and the Socialist Party adopted in 1904 is only less utopian than Daniel DeLeon’s curiously childish conceit that in the highly factitious, “wheel of fortune” form of organization of the Industrial Workers of the World we have the precise frame-work of the coming Co-operative Commonwealth.

It does not seem too much to say that doubt of the inevitability of Socialism is in all cases a symptom of failure to apprehend clearly the full implications of the Materialist Conception of History.

The second question, If Socialism is inevitable, why do Socialists work to bring it about?, would appear to have been answered by implication in the course of our discussion of the first question. In brief, we work for it because we know that if we did not it would never come. It is inevitable simply because Socialists are inevitable. Our activity as Socialist agitators is a necessary result of the development of capitalist industry just as much as the Trust is. Again, we work for Socialism because we know we can get it, and we work all the harder if we believe it is coming soon. One of the most active of our wealthy socialists has said: “If I had to be in ’the hundred year, step at a time, take-what-you-can-get’ class, you would find me automobiling my life away down at Newport with Reggie Vanderbilt instead of editing this magazine.... As said, I would rather chase down the pike on my Red Dragon at ’steen hundred miles an hour, terrifying the farmers, than go in for any ’reform game’.” (Gaylord Wilshire in Wilshire Editorials. New York, 1907. Pages 232, 233.) So we find that in practice the belief in the inevitability and the proximity of Socialism is the most powerful stimulus to socialist activity.

We believe that the doctrine of the inevitability of Socialism is scientifically true, that its proclamation is the most effective weapon in the arsenal of the Socialist agitator, and that it is the most powerful incentive to Socialist activity; so that we mean exactly what the words imply when we address our non-socialist friends in the words of William Morris:

"Come, join in the only battle wherein no man can fail,
Where whoso fadeth and dieth, yet his deed shall still prevail."