Muddle and Inefficiency

  • Stephen Ingle


A major dimension of the socialist argument against inequality in capitalist society is that it is inefficient. That is to say, so much of the misery which attends social divisions within capitalism could be avoided by putting social institutions and arrangements upon a more scientific footing. The word scientific is not plucked out of the air: it has a special interest and importance. The discipline of science seemed to offer new prospects to many socialist thinkers, especially in Britain, towards the end of the last century. After all, Darwin, by applying scientific methods, had made enormous advances in the study of evolution and appeared to have created a totally new perspective upon man’s place in the world. Darwinism seemed to emphasise the importance of material factors such as environment upon man’s development, and this fitted well with what Marx had argued: that it was the nature of the social system which determined man’s consciousness and not vice versa. By better ordering his environment, therefore, man could alter the relationship between himself and others and even influence his subsequent evolution as a species! H. G. Wells wrote:1


Capitalist Society Capitalist System Social Division Conservative Party Scientist Capitalism 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in W. Wagar (ed.), H. G. Wells: Journalism and Prophecy (London: Bodley Head, 1965) p. 277.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Quoted in Hesketh Pearson, Bernard Shaw—His Life and Personality (London: Methuen and Company, 1961) p. 73.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    He said that Shaw had made it ‘… absolutely impossible for any British socialist… to talk or act like Stalin’. (See C. E. M. Joad (ed.), Shaw and Society (London: Odhams, 1953) p. 41.)Google Scholar

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© Stephen J. Ingle 1979

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  • Stephen Ingle

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