Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
His View of Communism
By Roswell Dwight Hitchcock (18171887)
[Born in Machias, Me., 1817. Died at Somerset, Mass., 1887. Socialism. 1879.]
IT remains to glance at what we have called the Gospel of Communism. The expression may have grated on your ears. The points are mostly of contradiction, not of resemblance. Our Christian Gospel has in it the three elements of incarnation, atonement, and regeneration. The Gospel of Communism has no God in it at all, incarnate or any other. And it preaches neither atonement nor regeneration, for it recognizes no sin, only disease to be cured, or discord to be attuned. There is trouble enough in the world, but it all comes of inequality of social condition. Change that, and all will be changed. Equalize conditions, and there shall be no more sea. Equalize conditions, and Paradise returns. Return it shall, says Communism, for Communism, like Christianity, is militant, only the weapons of its warfare are carnal. Equality of condition may be only preached as yet; by and by, when converts are multiplied, it shall be carried, as Mohammed carried Arabia, by force of arms. Enforced equality of social condition, that is the consummation; equality enforced, and reënforced, from generation to generation.
Behold now the recovered Paradise. Nature is here, with all her laws, but with no transparency of land, or sea, or sky. No light shines through. We have science, such as it is; the science of second causes. Poets and theologians are all dead. There is no God, nothing but unconscious force, which hears no prayers. Like as a father pitieth his children is part of an old Hebrew lullaby. We need no pity, only an equal chance. Humanity is sufficient unto itself; is Providence enough, and Grace enough. There are no families any more, not even a family, but only a flock or a herd. Human brotherhood is cant and nonsense, where no child calls any man father on earth, and there is no Father in Heaven. We are not brothers, only companions, oarsmen together in the galley, oxen together in the furrow. We have no favors to ask of anybody. All we need, and all we want, is wages for our work. As for work, organization of labor takes care of that, both to find it for us and to keep us at it. In the Orient, children are seldom seen playing together, and women seldom smile. Here, too, when Communism triumphs, the air will have lost its oxygen. There will be no more play. And there will be no more heroism. Moral character is of no account, so long as the work goes on. Genius is of no account, where the brightest must fare no better than the dullest. By and by, ambition is all gone. Competition is the name of a lost art. The arts are all lost. Coarser products deteriorate. Production declines. Everything declines. The alarm is sounded: We are going to ruin; we must all of us work more, and work better. Who shall make us work more and better? One another. And so our Paradise bristles with bayonets.
We had better be calling things by their right names. This is no Paradise of men, but of animals: of dull oxen first, each under his own end of the yoke by day, and each at night in his own stall, yokes and stalls all alike; presently, it will be of dogs, each growling and gnawing his well-picked bone; by and by it will be of wolves, howling and chasing down the belated teams; but at last it will be of tigers, tearing one another to pieces in the jungle. So the chapter, and so the volume, ends, this tragic volume of human history: at the bottom of the final page, after a fashion of the old printers, Memento mori, with skull and cross-bones, though not of man, but of beast. The circle is now completed. The evolution ends. Beast thou art, and unto beast shalt thou return. Whether Law or Gospel, science said it; and so it is.