chapter  I
24 Pages

Definition of Socialism

We can conceive of two very different ways of studying socialism. We can see it as a scientific doctrine on the nature and evolution of societies in general and, more specially, of the most civilized contemporary societies. In this case, the analysis does not differ from that to which scholars submit the theories and hypotheses of their respective sciences. They are considered abstractly, outside of time, space, and of future history, not as something whose genesis one attempts to find, but as a system of propositions which express or are deemed to express facts. We then ask what is its truth or falsity, whether or not it corresponds to social reality, in what measure it is consistent with itself and with things as they are. This is the method, for example, that M. LeroyBeaulieu followed in his book on Collectivisme. This will not be our point of view. The reason for it is that, without diminishing the importance of our interest in socialism, we would not know how to perceive in it a clearly scientific character. In fact, re­ search can only be so-called if it has a definite object, which it aims to translate into intelligible language. Science is a study bearing on a delimited portion of reality which it aims at know­ ing and, if possible, understanding. To describe and explain what is and what has been-this is its only job. Speculation about the future is not its affair, although it may seek as its final objective to render this possible.