IN THE OPEN
Russia swallowed more socialism than she was able to assimilate in the opinion of more than one critic, and the United States has taken socialistic pills so heavily coated with conservative sugar that their effect has been negligible. It is left for Great Britain to face the question squarely and to thrash out the merits and demerits of socialism in Parliament through a resolution introduced in the House of Commons by Philip Snowden Socialist, calling for government purchase, ownership, and management of all industries.
The significance of this event, called the most important development in socialism since the Russian revolution, is that the fundamental issue will be debated under conditions where its advocates support a programme including neither arson nor bomb-throwing, and where those opposed will not demand jail sentences for Socialists at the mention of the word. The present opportunity is the first a government has had to discuss so vital a problem in the atmosphere of a budget debate, the first time that socialism has had as cool attention as a financial report.
It is a foregone conclusion that the resolution will be defeated. Liberals and Conservatives have already intimated their dissent. Labor is in a peculiar position; to support the motion would be to lose many Liberals who look to a strong coalition, and to oppose it means the loss of a considerable part of the labor backing. But Ramsey Macdonald, head of the Labor Party, by his recent friendly overtures from King George seems to have edged towards the side of conservative reform. If England's industries will not be taken over by the government as a result of this proposal, at least the attitude of the English Parliament on socialism will be definitely recorded. The unclouded issue is raised in British politics.
Such a rational attitude is particularly needed just now. Other circumstances contributed much to the failure of socialism in Russia: extravagant threats of the system produced the Facisti; and violence caused socialists to be suppressed in the United States. Through calm consideration in the British Parliament socialism for the first time has an even chance to vindicate itself as a practical theory of economics.