The Social Plan
Lecturing the other day before a brilliant galaxy of young men and women, known, in the college where they belong, as Economics Three, there occurred to me, and I used, the metaphor of a social reformer sitting as a raven on the window-sill and croaking `Social Plan.' Economics Three woke up and laughed. This gave me the idea that it might be of great service if economic problems could be discussed in the form of the literature of the imagination. This would help to remove the argument from the angers and the bitterness that so often surround it. If we cannot discuss it like gentlemen, let us at least discuss it like idiots. Having got the idea, all I had to do was to write this book.Back to Line
Of the economic basis of this book I would like to say this. Forty years of hard work on economics has pretty well removed all the ideas I ever had about it. I think the whole science is a wreck and has got to be built up again. For our social problems there is about as much light to be found in the older economics as from a glowworm. Only one or two things seem to me clear. Cast-iron communism is nothing but a penitentiary. Sooner or later either it is doomed or man is doomed. I believe that the only possible basis for organized society is that of every man for himself, -- for himself and those near and dear to him. But on this basis there must be put in operation a much more efficient and much more just social mechanism. We need not a new game but a new set of rules. There must be bread and work for all; and that ought to mean mighty little work and lots of bread.