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The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice

Stephen Leacock

Book Overview: 

This lengthy political essay by noted Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock was written while he was professor of political economy at McGill University. He argues for a middle ground between individualism/capitalism and pure socialism.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .In this system mankind placed its hopes for over half a century and under it the industrial civilization of the age of machinery rose to the plenitude of its power.[34]

In the preceding chapter an examination has been made of the purely mechanical side of the era of machine production. It has been shown that the age of machinery has been in a certain sense one of triumph, of the triumphant conquest of nature, but in another sense one of perplexing failure. The new forces controlled by mankind have been powerless as yet to remove want and destitution, hard work and social discontent. In the midst of accumulated wealth social justice seems as far away as ever.

It remains now to discuss the intellectual development of the modern age of machinery and the way in which it has moulded the thoughts and the outlook of mankind.

Few men think for themselves. The thoughts of most of us are little more than imitations and adaptations of the ideas of stronge. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I thought this was a very interesting read, addressing the problems in both systems of socialism and capitalism.

Leacock's views and insights on social justice systems...more

I disagreed with a number of leacock’s conservative views. However I cannot deny that this book length essay was easy to read and well written.

Fear of socialism is his blindspot. His critiques of the left are less of a criticism and more propaganda about how socialism would bring about the destructi

An essay arguing that socialism is doomed to fail because of human nature but that some of its concepts should be implemented as a kind of social welfare safety net. Surprisingly relevant for a 100 year old book.

A fantastic and sober look at why we humans can't seem to build that perfect society that we have always dreamer of.
Communism and socialism? No altruistic or uncorrupt leadership can be found to make it work.
Capitalism and democracy? Pretty good options for us all things considered.
Starvation despit

I really like this book and find it quite interesting. I found it funny that most of his suggestions (such as incorporating progressive tax to be spent on education and opportunities for children) are used in most modern societies. This book was written in 1920, and we're pretty much doing what he s