Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)
Converted by Bellamy's Book. (S431: 1891)
"I am much pleased with it, especially with your fair and sympathetic treatment of Socialism. Some of your illustrations of the weakness of Socialism would have satisfied me a year ago, but it seems to me they are all well answered in Bellamy's 'Looking Backward.'
"From boyhood, when I was an ardent admirer of Robert Owen, I have been interested in Socialism, but reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was impracticable, and also, to some extent, repugnant to my ideas of individual liberty and home privacy. But Mr. Bellamy has completely altered my views in this matter. He seems to me to have shown that real, not merely delusive, liberty, together with full scope for individualism and complete human privacy, is compatible with the most thorough Socialism, and henceforth I am heart and soul with him.
"It is, however, a long way to such a goal, and your book will, I think, help men to a knowledge of the evils that have immediately to be remedied. I cannot see how the greatest evils of our present system, involuntary idleness and consequent pauperism, can ever be got rid of under the system of unrestricted competition and capitalism with labor as a marketable commodity."
Mr. Wallace, in a subsequent letter giving permission to use the foregoing letter, added:
"I should like to add that I do not think the course of social reform can be the same in England as in America. Our territorial aristocracy, still retaining much of the power they possessed in feudal times, are the source of the profound class distinctions that still prevail among us, and must be got rid of before we can make any real progress. Our first step, therefore, must be the nationalization of the land, by which the power and prestige of the great landlords will be destroyed. The workers, having free access to the land, will then be able to accumulate capital and to establish co-operative industries among themselves. They will thenceforth be independent of both landlords and capitalists, and the step will not be a difficult one from the partial and local to complete and national co-operation."