Mr. C. E. Russell, of New York, author and Socialist candidate for governor of New York State, delivered the tenth lecture of the series on "The Social Problem and its Remedies" yesterday afternoon. His subject was "The Socialists' Remedy."
Mr. Russell first outlined briefly the problems which face society, the impoverishment of the masses, the concentration of great financial power in the hands of a few capitalists, and the constant increase in the cost of living and in the terrors of the slums. Under the present system of society, the physical power of the workingman is being constantly undermined and will be found woefully lacking when war faces the country. Great Britain has had experience which has proved that capital is destroying the power of the nation, and we are facing a great crisis which may teach us the same thing, unless we profit by her examples and take steps to avert it.
Many remedies have been suggested to meet this coming crisis: parcels post, the insurgent program, government ownership of railroads, and a score of others; but there is a great world test-tube where they have all been tried. In New Zealand every conceivable reform has been given a trial, and with more or less success. The postal service is excellent, telegraph rates are cheap and the company is efficient, there are stringent laws against corporations, there is government ownership of railroads, there is efficient factory inspection; but in spite of all this, poverty, cost of living, slums, corporations, and capital are steadily increasing.
The trouble is not that bad men run the government--there are no bad and good men, but just men--the trouble is that laboring men are producing wealth and then are not possessing it. Each year labor is taking a smaller part of the produce of industry, while capital takes now four-fifths of it. The Socialist remedy for this is national ownership of those industries which produce articles necessary to life. Private property has nothing to do with the question except as it deals with necessities. The Socialists believe only that things common to all should be owned and operated for the benefit of all.
The change to common ownership may come in two ways: it may be done by purchasing the industries with public bonds or by taking them as already being the real property of the people. However it comes, its arrival is inevitable, for it is a logical evolution from the first combination made in the thirteenth century. What we should do is to follow the natural trend of evolution, in order that men may work no longer to create wealth for others but rather for themselves, and that there shall be no more poverty in the world and slums shall disappear.