I do not send forth this little book with any ambitious hope that it will be widely read, or even that it will convert any one to Socialism. My hope is far more modest. It is that this book may be of some real service, as a labor-saving device, to the thinking men and women who have felt the lure of Socialism, and are trying to discover just what is meant by the oft-used words 'Marxian Socialism,' Should it prove of material aid to even one such man or woman, I would feel that I had been repaid a hundred-fold for my labor in writing it.
That is all there is of it. That is easy to understand, and every man of common sense is bound to admit that that much is true.
The word "materialistic" suggests philosophy and metaphysics and brings to our minds the old disputes about monism and dualism, and the dispute between religious people who believe in the existence of spirit and scientists who adopt modern materialistic monism. But no matter what position a man may hold on these philosophical and theological questions he can with perfect consistency recognize the fact that the economic factor is the dominant, determining factor in every day human life, and the man who admits this simple truth believes in the Marxian Materialistic Conception of History. The political, legal, ethical and all human institutions have their roots in the economic soil, and any reform that does not go clear to the roots and affect the economic structure of society must necessarily be abortive. Any thing that does go to the roots and does modi