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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). An Autobiography. 1913.

XIII. Social and Industrial Justice. Appendix: Socialism

As regards what I have said in this chapter concerning Socialism, I wish to call especial attention to the admirable book on “Marxism versus Socialism,” which has just been published by Vladimir D. Simkhovitch. What I have, here and elsewhere, merely pointed out in rough and ready fashion from actual observation of the facts of life around me, Professor Simkhovitch in his book has discussed with keen practical insight, with profundity of learning, and with a wealth of applied philosophy. Crude thinkers in the United States, and moreover honest and intelligent men who are not crude thinkers, but who are oppressed by the sight of the misery around them and have not deeply studied what has been done elsewhere, are very apt to adopt as their own the theories of European Marxian Socialists of half a century ago, ignorant that the course of events has so completely falsified the prophecies contained in these theories that they have been abandoned even by the authors themselves. With quiet humor Professor Simkhovitch now and then makes an allusion which shows that he appreciates to perfection this rather curious quality of some of our fellow countrymen; as for example when he says that “A Socialist State with the farmer outside of it is a conception that can rest comfortably only in the head of an American Socialist,” or as when he speaks of Marx and Engels as men “to whom thinking was not an irrelevant foreign tradition.” Too many thoroughly well-meaning men and women in the America of to-day glibly repeat and accept—much as medieval schoolmen repeated and accepted authorized dogma in their day—various assumptions and speculations by Marx and others which by the lapse of time and by actual experiment have been shown to possess not one shred of value. Professor Simkhovitch possesses the gift of condensation as well as the gift of clear and logical statement, and it is not possible to give in brief any idea of his admirable work. Every social reformer who desires to face facts should study it—just as social reformers should study John Graham Brooks’s “American Syndicalism.” From Professor Simkhovitch’s book we Americans should learn: First, to discard crude thinking; second, to realize that the orthodox or so-called scientific or purely economic or materialistic socialism of the type preached by Marx is an exploded theory; and, third, that many of the men who call themselves Socialists to-day are in reality merely radical social reformers, with whom on many points good citizens can and ought to work in hearty general agreement, and whom in many practical matters of government good citizens well afford to follow.