Social Protest Lit: Grant Allen, “The Wrongfulness of Riches”

indexAn short essay from Grant Allen entitled The Wrongfulness of Riches from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

If you are on the side of the spoilers, they you are a bad man. If you are on the side of social justice, then you are a good one. There is no effective test of the high morality at the present day save this.

Critics of the middle-class type often exclaim, of reasoning like this, “What on earth makes him say it? What has he to gain by talking in that way? What does he expect to get by it?” So bound up are they in the idea of a self-interest as the one motive of action that they never even seem to conceive of honest conviction as a ground for speaking out the truth that is in one. To such critics I would answer, “The reason why I write all this is because I profoundly believe it. I believe the poor are being kept out of their own. I believe the rich are for the most part selfish and despicable. I believe wealth has been generally piled up by cruel and unworthy means. I believe it is wrong in us to acquiesce in the wicked inequalities of our existing social state, instead of trying our utmost to bring about another, where right would be done to all, where poverty would be impossible. I believe such a system is perfectly practicable, and that nothing stands in its way save the selfish fears and prejudices of individuals. And I believe that even those craven fears and narrow prejudices are wholly mistaken; that everybody, including the rich themselves, would be infinitely happier in a world where no poverty existed, where no hateful sights and sounds met then eye at every turn, where all slums were swept away, and where everybody had their just and even share of pleasures and refinements in a free and equal community.”

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