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In an 1864 address, Abraham Lincoln argued that:
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different but incompatible things, called by the same name liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.
Lincoln’s definition of slavery, “[an arrangement that allows] some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor,” is also a good working definition of socialism.
George Fitzhugh, an antebellum slavery proponent, agreed. In 1854 he wrote:
[S]lavery is a form, and the very best form, of socialism… The association of labor properly carried out under a common head or ruler, would render labor more efficient, relieve the laborer of many of the cares of household affairs, and protect and support him in sickness and old age, besides preventing the too great reduction of wages by redundancy of labor and free competition. Slavery attains all these results…
With negro slaves, their wages invariably increase with their wants. The master increases the provision for the family as the family increases in number and helplessness. It is a beautiful example of communism, where each one receives not according to his labor, but according to his wants.