66. The Redistribution of Income
Our position is a perfect1y simple one and we have the great advantage of understanding our position. We oppose socialism to capitalism.
We say in criticism of capitalism: Your system has never kept its promises for one single day since it was promulgated. Our production is ridiculous. We are producing eighty horsepower motor cars when many more houses should be built. We are producing most extravagant luxuries while children starve. You have stood production on its head. Instead of beginning with the things the nation needs most, you are beginning at just the opposite end. We say distribution has become so glaringly ridiculous that there are only two people out of the 47,000,000 people in this country who approve of the present system of distribution——one is the Duke of Northumberland and the other is Lord Banbury.
We are opposed to that theory. Socialism, which is perfectly clear and unmistakable, says the thing you have got to take care of is your distribution. We have to begin with that, and private property, if it stands in the way of good distribution, has got to go.
A man who holds public property must hold it on the public condition on which, for instance, I carry my walking stick. I am not allowed to do what I like with it. I must not knock you on the head with it. We say that if distribution goes wrong, everything else goes wrong-religion, morals—government. And we say, therefore (this is the whole meaning of our socialism), we must begin with distribution and take al1 the necessary steps.
I think we are keeping it in our minds because our business is to take care of the distribution of wealth in the world and I tell you, as I have told you be fore, that I don’t think there are two men, or perhaps one man, in our 47,000,000 who approves of the existing distribution of wealth. I will go even further and say that you will not find a single person in the whole of the civilized world who agrees with the existing system of the distribution of wealth. It has been reduced to a blank absurdity.
I think the day will come when we will be ab1e to make the distinction between us and the capita1ists. We must get certain leading ideas before the peop1e. We shou1d announce that we are not going in for what was the old-fashioned idea of redistribution, but the redistribution of income. Let it always be a question of income.