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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a general term applied to several schemes of social arrangement which advocate community of property, and abandon or modify individual industry, the rights of marriage, and of the family. In discussing the subject of Socialism, two elements are to be considered: (1) the judgment of socialism on existing institutions and practices and on their results; (2) the various plans which it has proposed for doing better. Socialism affirms that the evils it complains of are irremediable in the present constitution of society. In the opinion of Socialists, the existing arrangements of society in respect to property and the production and distribution of wealth are, as a, means to the general good, a total failure. First among existing evils may be mentioned that of poverty. The institution of property is upheld and commended principally as being the means by which labor and frugality are insured their reward and mankind enabled to emerge from indigence. But Socialism urges that an immense proportion of the industrious classes are, at some period or other of their lives, dependent on legal or voluntary charity; that many are outstripped by others who are possessed of superior energy or prudence; that the reward, instead of being proportioned to the labor and abstinence of the individual, is almost in the inverse ratio to it that the great majority are what they are born to be — some to be rich without work, others to become rich by work, but the great majority are born to hard work and poverty through life; that competition is, for the people, a system of extermination, resulting from the continual fall of labor. "Cheapness," they say, "is advantageous to the consumer, at the cost of introducing the seeds of ruinous anarchy among the producers." The Fourierists (M. Considerant, Destinee Sociale 1, 35-37) enumerate the evils of existing civilization in the following order: 1. It employs an enormous quantity of labor and of human power unproductively, or in the work of destruction, e.g. in sustaining armies, courts, magistrates, etc.; in allowing ‘ good society,' people who pass their lives in doing nothing, also in allowing philosophers, metaphysicians, political men, who produce nothing but disturbance and sterile discussions.
2. That even the industry and powers which, in the present system, are devoted to production do not produce more than a small portion of what they might produce if better directed and employed," e.g. "the wastefulness in the existing arrangements for distributing the produce of the country among the various producers." Socialism seeks to put an end to the vices and suffering of men, not by individual regeneration and reformation, but by a new social organization. It is the employment of political and economic measures for a moral purpose. Proceeding upon the supposition that the individual is wholly or largely the creature of circumstances, it seeks to make the latter as favorable as possible. Thus it makes a religion of social regeneration, and proposes to renovate the world by a new arrangement of property and industrial interests. Although in some measure anticipated by movements in the ancient world, socialism may be considered a product of the French Revolution, which was an anarchic attack on the social system that had its roots in the feudalism of the Middle Ages. The first to revive or bring socialistic ideas into general notice was Francois Noel Babeuf (1764-97), in his paper Le Tribun du Peuple. The idea from which he started was that of equality, and he insisted that there should be no other differences than those of age and sex; that men differed little in their faculties and needs, and consequently should receive the same education and food. After his death his system, Babouvism, was for some time entirely forgotten, until, in 1834, Buonarotti again attempted its propagation in the Moniteur Republicain and Homme Libre. The three most noted developments of Socialism are Communism, Fourierism, and Saint-Simonism or Humanitarianism. The Nihilists of Russia at this time attract considerable attention because of the efforts made by the government towards their extinction. They believe that, in order to human progress, it is not only possible, but absolutely necessary, to begin at once with the present complicated social phenomena in the way of a sudden and complete social reform, or with a revolution. In April, 1879, an attempt was made by one of their number to assassinate the emperor. This has led to the arrest of hundreds, many of whom have been sent to Siberia. A number of Socialistic communities have been established in the United States, some of which have already been noticed. (See HARMONISTS); (See SEPARATISTS); (See SHAKERS). Others will be treated in this article.
I. The Amana Society. — This society takes its name from the Bible (Song of Solomon 4:8), and has its location in Iowa, in the town of Amana. The members call themselves the "True Inspiration Congregations" (Wahre Inspirations Gemeinden), and are Germans. They came from Germany in 1842, and settled near Buffalo, N.Y.; but in 1855 they removed to their present location. The "work of inspiration" began far back in the 18th century, an account of the journeys, etc., of "Brother John Frederick Rock" in 1719 being given in the Thirty-sixth Collection of the Inspiration Record. Finally, in 1816, Michael Krausert became what they call an "instrument," and to him were added several others, among them Christian Metz, who was for many years, and until his death (1867), the spiritual head of the society. Another prominent "instrument" was Barbara Heynemann, whose husband, George Landman, became spiritual head of the society. The removal to this country was inaugurated by Metz, who professed to have a revelation so directing.
1. Social Economy. — The society was not communistic in Germany, and even after removal to this country the community intended to live simply as a Christian congregation. Being obliged to look after the temporal interests of each other, they built workshops, etc., out of a common fund, and thus drifted into their present practice. They have now seven villages, and carry on farming, woollen, saw, and grist mills. Each family has a house for itself; but the members eat in common, in cooking or eating houses, of which there are fifteen. Each business has its foreman; and these leaders, in each village, meet every evening to consult and arrange for the following day. The civil or temporal government is vested in thirteen trustees, chosen annually by the male members, the trustees choosing the president of the society. The elders are men of presumably deep piety, appointed by inspiration, and preside at religious assemblies. The members are supplied with clothing and other articles, excepting food, by an annual allowance to each individual. Usually a neophyte enters on probation for two years, and, if a suitable person, is admitted to full membership; although some are received at once into full membership by "inspiration." They forbid the use of musical instruments (except a flute), and exclude photographs and other pictures, as tending to idol worship. Although not forbidding marriage, celibacy is looked upon as meritorious; and young men are not allowed to marry until twenty-four years of age. The society is financially prosperous, has no debt, has money at interest, and owned in 1874 about 25,000 acres of land, 3000 sheep, 1500 head of cattle, 200 horses, and 2500 hogs, with a population of about 1500.
2. Religion and Literature. — The society is pietistic, and believes in inspiration as a result of entire consecration to God. It accepts both the Old and the New Testament, but not to the exclusion of present inspiration. It does not practice baptism, but celebrates the Lord's supper whenever led by "inspiration." Inspiration is sometimes private, at other times public; and the warnings, reproofs, etc., thus received are written down in yearly volumes, entitled Year-books of the True Inspiration Congregations. When a member offends against the rules of society, he is admonished by the elders; and if he do not amend, expulsion follows. These rules are twenty- one in number, and encourage sobriety, reverence, honesty, and abstinence. They hold religious services on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, and every evening. They keep New year's as a holiday, and Christmas, Easter, and Holy Week are their great religious festivals. At least once a year there is an "Untersuchung," or inquisition of the whole community, including children — an examination of its spiritual condition, in which each member is expected to make confession of sins. Their hymnology is found in The Voice from Zion (Ebenezer, 1851, pp. 958), and another hymn book in regular use, Psalms after the Manner of David, etc. (Amana, Ia., 1871). Among their books is Innocent Amusement (Unschuldiger Zeitvertreib), a mass of pious doggerel; Jesus' A, B, C for his Scholars, also in rhyme; Rhymes on the Sufferings, Death, Burial, and Ascension of Christ.
II. Perfectionists of Oneida and Wallingford. — This society is of American origin, having for its founder the present head, John Humphrey Noyes, born in Brattleborough, Vt., in 1811. He was educated at Dartmouth, Andover, and Yale. While in the latter institution he entered upon a new experience and new views of the way of salvation, which took the name of Perfectionism. In 1834 he went to Poultney, Vt., and slowly gathered about him a small company of believers, and in 1847 had forty persons in his own congregation, besides small gatherings in other states who recognized him as leader. Not a Communist at first, Mr. Noyes, in 1845, made known his peculiar views, and began cautiously to practice them in 1846. The community were mobbed and driven from the place, and in 1848 settled in Oneida, Madison Co., N.Y. Other communities were established, but all were eventually merged in those of Oneida, N.Y., and Wallingford, Conn. After various reverses, they began to accumulate property, engaged in manufacture and the preserving of fruits, etc., and in 1874 had 640 acres of land near Oneida, with 240 at Wallingford. In ten years (1857-66) they had netted $180,580, and were worth over $500,000. The two communities must be counted as one, and the members are interchangeable at will. In February, 1874, they numbered 283 persons, 131 males and 152 females. The members are mostly Americans, largely recruited from New England.
1. Daily Life, etc. — The members live in one large building, the older people occupying separate chambers, the younger sleeping two together. There is no regulation style of dress, although plainness is expected of all. They have twenty-one standing committees on finance, amusements, arbitration, etc.; and, besides this, the duties of administration are divided among forty-eight departments, as publication, education, agriculture, manufacture, etc. Every Sunday morning a meeting is held of the "Business Board," composed of the heads of all the departments, and any members of the community who choose to attend. The children are left to the care of their mothers until weaned, when they are placed in the general nursery, under "caretakers," who are both men and women. They have no sermon or public prayers, and address one another as Mr. or Miss, except when the women were married before they entered the society. An annual allowance of thirty-three dollars is made to each woman, the men ordering clothes when in need. In the school the Bible is the prominent textbook, but a liberal education is encouraged. They receive members with great care, but exact no probation.
2. Religious Belief — The Perfectionists hold to the Bible as the "textbook of the spirit of truth," to Jesus Christ as "the eternal Son of God," and to "the apostles and Primitive Church as the exponents of the everlasting Gospel." They believe that the second advent of Christ took place at the period of the destruction of Jerusalem; that the final kingdom of God then began in the heavens; that the manifestation of the kingdom in the visible world is now approaching; that its approach is ushering in the second and final resurrection and judgment; that a Church on earth is now rising to meet the approaching kingdom in the heavens, and to become its duplicate and representative; that inspiration, or open communication with God and the heavens, involving perfect holiness, is the element of connection between the Church on earth and the Church in the heavens, and the power by which the kingdom of God is to be established and to reign in the world. They also teach that "the Gospel provides for complete salvation from sin," which, they say, "is the foundation needed by all other reformers." Community of goods and of persons they believe to have been taught by Jesus, and hold that communism is "the social state of the resurrection." In their system, "complex marriage takes the place of simple," they affirming that there is no intrinsic difference between property in person and property in things; and that the same spirit which abolished exclusiveness in regard to money would abolish, if circumstances allowed full scope for it, exclusiveness in regard to women and children. "Complex marriage" means that, within the limits of their community, any man and woman may freely cohabit, having gained each other's consent through a third party. They are firm believers in the efficacy of the "faith cure," and quote instances in which invalids have been instantly restored to perfect health in answer to prayer.
This community has lately taken an important step towards reorganization by formally abandoning the system of complex marriage that father John Humphrey Noyes has consistently advocated for so many years. Considerable opposition having been experienced because of the promiscuous commerce of the sexes asserted to exist, father Noyes has decided to abandon his scheme called stirpiculture in practice, while retaining it in theory. He accordingly wrote (Aug. 20, 1879) a message to the community, containing modifications in their platform, of which the following is a summary:
I. To give up the practice of complex marriage, not as renouncing belief in the principles and prospective finality of that institution, but in deference to the public sentiment evidently rising against it.
II. To place themselves as a community, not on the platform of the Shakers, on the one hand, nor on that of the world, on the other, but on Paul's platform, which, while allowing marriage as a concession to human weakness, prefers celibacy as the holier and more perfect state.
III. To continue to hold their business and property in common; to continue to live together, and to eat at the same table; to retain the common department for infants and juveniles, and to maintain the practice of regular evening meetings for mutual criticism.
The platform contained in the communication was adopted by a formal vote on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 26, abolishing the offensive abomination of complex marriage at a stroke. The society will hereafter, therefore, consist of two classes of members — celibates, and married persons living together as husband and wife under the laws of marriage as generally understood. The family idea is left, it is true; but with permanent families within the community family it is shorn of its main significance, and takes the form of a common work, a common interest in commercial ventures, and a common property. Among the literary productions of this community are, Paul not Carnal; The Perfectionist; The Way of Holiness; Berean Witness; Spiritual Magazine; Free Church Circular; Bible Communism; History of American Socialism; and Essay on Scientific Propagation (the latter two by J.H. Noyes).
III. Aurora and Bethel Communes. — The founder and present ruler of these communities is Dr. Keil, a Prussian, born in 1811. At first a man- milliner, he became a mystic, and afterwards, at Pittsburgh, made open profession of his belief. He gathered a number of Germans about him, to whom he represented himself as a being to be worshipped, and later as one of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelation. He began to plan a communism somewhat resembling that of Rapp, but without the celibate principle. His followers, in 1844, removed to Bethel, Mo., and took up four sections of land, or 2560 acres, to which they added from time to time, until they possessed 4000 acres. In 1874 they numbered about 200 persons. In 1855 Dr. Keil, with about 80 persons, removed to Oregon, and the following year settled at Aurora. They numbered in 1874 nearly 400 people, and owned about 18,000 acres of land.
The government at Aurora is vested in Dr. Keil, who is both president and preacher, and has for his advisers four of the elder members, chosen by himself. The preacher and head of the Bethel Commune is Mr. Giese, with six trustees, chosen by the members. The people of both communes are plain, frugal, industrious Germans, with simple tastes, and seem contented and happy. They hold to principles which are chiefly remarkable for their simplicity.
1. That all government should be parental, to imitate the parental government of God.
2. That society should be formed upon the model of the family, having all interests and property absolutely in common.
3. That neither religion nor the harmony of nature teaches community in anything further than property and labor. Hence the family life is strictly maintained, and all sexual irregularities are absolutely rejected. Religious service is held twice a month, and after the Lutheran style.
IV. Icarians. — This community was the offspring of the dreams of Etienne Cabet, who was born in Dijon, France, in 1788. Cabet was educated for the bar, but became a politician and writer. He was a leader of the Carbonari, a member of the French Legislature, wrote a history of the French Revolution of July, was condemned to two years' imprisonment, but fled to London, where he wrote the Voyage to Icaria. In this book he described a communistic Utopia, and in 1848 set sail, with a number of persons, for Texas, where he started an actual Icaria. Sixty-nine persons formed the advance guard, which was attacked by yellow fever, and disorganized by the time Cabet arrived in the next year. They went to Nauvoo, Ill., and were established in that deserted Mormon town, May, 1850. They numbered here, at one time, not less than 1500 persons, and labored and planted with success; but Cabet developed a dictatorial spirit, which produced a split in the society. He and some of his followers went to St. Louis, where he died in 1856. Shortly after, the Illinois colony came to an end, and between fifty and sixty settled upon their Iowa estate, about four miles from Corning. They own at the present time 1936 acres of land; number 65 members and 11 families, most of whom are French. They live under the constitution prepared by Cabet, which lays down the equality and brotherhood of mankind and the duty of holding all things in common, abolishes servitude and servants, commands marriage under penalties, provides for education, and requires that the majority shall rule. In practice they elect a president once a year, who is the executive officer, but whose powers are strictly limited. They have also four directors, who carry on the necessary work and direct the other members. They have no religious observances. Sunday is a day of rest and amusement.
V. Bishop Hill Commune, now extinct, was formed by Swedish pietists, who settled in Henry County, Ill., October, 1846. Others followed, until, by the summer of 1848, they numbered 800 persons. At first they were very poor, living in holes in the ground and under sheds; but by industry and economy they prospered, so that, in 1859, they owned 10,000 acres of land and a town. Their religious life was very simple. Two services were held on Sunday and one each week night. They discouraged amusements as tending to worldliness, and after a while the young people became discontented with the dull community life. It was determined, in the spring of 1860, to divide the property, which was done. Dissensions still continuing, a further division was made, each family receiving its share, and the commune ceased to exist.
VI. Cedar Vale Community is a communistic society near Cedar Vale, Howard Co., Kansas, and was begun in January, 1871. Its members were recruited from among two essentially different classes of Socialists — the Russian Materialists and American Spiritualists. They numbered in 1874 four males, one female, one child; and on probation, two males, one female, and one child. They are organized under the name of the PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY, and hold to community of goods and to entire freedom of opinion.
VII. Social Freedom Community is a communistic society established early in 1874, in Chesterfield County, Va. It has two women, one man, and three boys as "full members," with four women and five men as "probationary members." They own a farm of 333 acres, and are attempting general farming, sawing, grinding, etc. The members are all Americans. They hold to "unity of interests, and political, religious, and social freedom; that every individual shall have absolute control of herself or himself." They have no constitution or by laws; ignore man's total depravity, and believe that all who are actuated by a love of truth and a desire of progress can be governed by love, and moral suasion.
See Holyoake, History of Co-operation (1875); Noyes, History of American Socialism (1870); Stein, Der Socialismus und Communismus des heutigen Frankreichs (1844), and Geschichte der socialen Bewegungen in Frankreich (1849-51). For information as to societies mentioned in this article we are largely indebted to Nordhoff, Communistic Societies of the United States (N.Y. 1875).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Socialism'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/socialism.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.