[ Philip Snowden, as sitting Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, explains his conception of Socialism to 'undeserving sinner' Sir Courtenay Mansel. ] Typed Letter Signed ('Snowden') from Snowden to Mansel, describing his conception of Socialism.

Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden (1864-1937), first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924 and 1929-1931) [ Sir Courtenay Cecil Mansel (1880-1933), Welsh politician ]
Publication details: 
72 Carlisle Mansions, S.W.1. [ London ], on letterhead of 11 Downing Street. 4 December 1931.
SKU: 20634

3pp., 8vo. In good condition, lightly-aged and spotted. A significant letter, in which Snowden, as the sitting Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, gives a detailed explanation of his conception of Socialism, and his views on state ownership versus private enterprise. He begins by explaining that the delay in replying is due to 'the busy and anxious time I have had lately'. He continues: 'You ask me to enlighten an undeserving sinner as to the meaning of a “sane and progressive Socialism.” He begins a nine-line definition of socialism by describing it as 'a principle regulating the relations of individuals in a society. It is not at all a definite scheme of social organisation.' He sees socialism as 'the opposite of competition – that is every individual seeking to gain most himself regardless of the fate of others'. Snowden concedes that 'that is a principle which is applied in a large measure today', but adds that 'no society could hold together if unbridled competition were allowed to operate'. After referring to the need to 'organise industry and the services which supply common needs on co-operative lines', and the present ownership of many of those services 'by public bodies either State or municipal or corporations working under statutory concessions' he states his belief that 'we must inevitably go forward on those lines as industrial and social services tend more and more to assume the Trust form. That is what I mean by a sane and progressive Socialsim. The form will probably be that of public corporations under State Charter independent of political control, such as the Electricty Board and the B.B.C.' He considers that progress in the matter 'will necessarily depend on public opinion. The public ownership and control we have had in the past has been largely empirical and compulsory because of the failure of private enterprise to achieve an economic and satisfactory service. In future it will become more conscious.' He cannot put his case more fully in 'a short letter', but hopes he has 'said enough to give you an idea of what I mean'. The letter concludes: 'I remember you quite well when you were in the House of Commons. You seem to have given up the idea of going back. I am not surprised.'