This is an address supporting socialism, where Davis situates socialism as an obvious next move in the historical trajectory from feudalism to freedom; authority to democracy. Davis sees said historical trajectory as an ongoing movement away from monopolies of truth, state power, and industrial production and distribution.
Unfortunately, this essay, clearly written for a particular audience (“I assume that you have not come here to be entertained…”) has no definite date in the manuscript, or identification of the event where it was presented. There is ample textual evidence that it was written during the time Earl Davis was the Minister of the Unity Church in Pittsfield (1905-1919).
During this time Davis published a short pamphlet, “Socialism: A Reply to The Common Assertion that the Socialist Movement is Atheistic, Irreligious, and a Menace to the Family” (1910). “The Ethical Aspect of Socialism” clearly derives from a common concern to explicate and support the Socialist movement in the United States.
Davis also references “the Pres. of the United States.” This could be Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1906 said, among other things, “The very reason why we object to state ownership, that it puts a stop to individual initiative and to the healthy development of personal responsibility, is the reason why we object to an unsupervised, unchecked monopolistic control in private hands. We urge control and supervision by the nation as an antidote to the movement for state socialism. Those who advocate total lack of regulation, those who advocate lawlessness in the business world, themselves give the strongest impulse to what I believe would be the deadening movement toward unadulterated state socialism.” Davis' essay could be read as a response to this stance by Roosevelt.
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Transcription by Davis Baird. Item description based off writing and context provided by Davis Baird.
Earl Clement Davis, ministers, Unitarianism, Socialism
Davis, Earl Clement, "The Ethical Aspect of Socialism" (2022). Manuscripts. 15.