3 APRIL 1920, Page 25

The Sickness of an Acquisitive Society. By R. H. Tawney.

(Fabian Society. is. net.)—This cleverly written pamphlet will distress the author's fellow-Socialists, inasmuch as it is an attempt to distinguish between different kinds of property, some of which are to be regarded as good. Mr. Tawney would allow a farmer to own his farm. He would even admit "property in pure interest, including much agricultural rent," as it 'represents a necessary economic cost." His main idea is that the property. owner should have a "function "—it is the fashionable word with Socialists at the moment—and that the shareholder has no "function." It seems odd that an author who refers so often to the coal industry should not have reflected how the pits were sunk and equipped, if not by shareholders who took the risk of losing all their money in the speculation. Surely their " function " was of no small importance. Mr. Tawney writes very pleasantly about the need of transforming each industry into a profession, and it will be well if he can leaven the hard materialism of the party to which he belongs. Society, he says, "must regard economic interests as one element in life, not as the whole of life." It is encouraging to find that one Socialist at least is on the right track.