“The present economic system concentrates initiative in the hands of a small number of very rich men.
At present the man who has no capital usually has to sell himself to some large organization. He has no voice in its management, and no liberty in politics except what his trade-union can secure for him. If he happens to desire a form of liberty which is not thought important by his trade-union, he is powerless; he must submit or starve.
Fear of destitution is not a motive out of which a free creative life can grow, yet it is the chief motive which inspires the daily work of most wage-earners. The hope of possessing more wealth and power than any man ought to have, which is the corresponding motive of the rich, is quite as bad in its effects; it compels men to close their minds against justice, and to prevent themselves from thinking honestly on social questions while in the depths of their hearts they uneasily feel that their pleasures are bought by the miseries of others.
The injustices of destitution and wealth alike ought to be rendered impossible. Then a great fear would be removed from the lives of the many, and hope would have to take on a better form in the lives of the few.”
— Bertrand Russell, Political Ideals (1917), Chapter I: Political Ideals, pp. 11-12
Political Ideals (1917) was written during the upheaval of World War One. It is a statement of Russell’s beliefs, a declaration of the ideas that influenced his thinking on the major events of the 20th century.