chapter  3
17 Pages

The Ethics of Socialism 1

The ethics of socialism presents the greatest difficulties. Anyone who has studied history knows that it is impossible to unify any great social movement under a single principle, or to attempt to define a period through an abstract formula; this formula never exactly applies to the facts it claims to explain. There is always a mixture of two contrary principles. It is very easy to recognize two opposing ethical conceptions in contemporary socialism: one is that of natural law, the other of historical law. Two essential principles should be considered in the study of contemporary socialism: that of the class struggle, and that of the historic mission of the proletariat. Marx's disciples, having to struggle against adversaries who invoked natural law, have often thought it fair to ridicule all ethical considerations and to stress solely the material side of the struggle.