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The naming and writing of THE WORKINGMAN'S PARADISE were both done hurriedly, although delay has since arisen in its publishing. The scene is laid in Sydney because it was not thought desirable, for various reasons, to aggravate by a local plot the soreness existing in Queensland.
While characters, incidents and speakings had necessarily to be adapted to the thread of plot upon which they are strung, and are not put forward as actual photographs or phonographs, yet many will recognise enough in this book to understand how, throughout, shreds and patches of reality have been pieced together. The first part is laid during the summer of 1888-89 and covers two days; the second at the commencement of the Queensland bush strike excitement in 1891, covering a somewhat shorter time. The intention of the plot, at first, was to adapt the old old legend of Paradise and the fall of man from innocence to the much-prated-of “workingman's paradise”—Australia. Ned was to be Adam, Nellie to be Eve, Geisner to be the eternal Rebel inciting world-wide agitation, the Stratton home to be presented in contrast with the slum-life as a reason for challenging the tyranny which makes Australia what it really is; and so on. This plot got very considerably mixed and there was no opportunity to properly re-arrange it. After reading the MSS. one friend wrote advising an additional chapter making Ned, immediately upon his being sentenced for “conspiracy” under George IV., 6, hear that Nellie has died of a broken heart. My wife, on the contrary, wants Ned and Nellie to come to an understanding and live happily ever after in the good old-fashioned style. This being left in abeyance, readers can take their choice until the matter is finally settled in another book.
Whatever the failings of this book are it may nevertheless serve the double purpose for which it was written:
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(1) to assist the fund being raised for Ned's mates now in prison in Queensland, and (2) to explain unionism a little to those outside it and Socialism a little to all who care to read or hear, whether unionists or not. These friends of ours in prison will need all we can do for them when they are released, be that soon or late; and there are too few, even in the ranks of unionism, who really understand Socialism.
To understand Socialism is to endeavour to lead a better life, to regret the vileness of our present ways, to seek ill for none, to desire truth and purity and honesty, to despise this selfish civilisation and to comprehend what living might be. Understanding Socialism will not make people at once what men and women should be but it will fill them with hatred for the unfitting surroundings that damn us all and with passionate love for the ideals that are lifting us upwards and with an earnest endeavour to be themselves somewhat as they feel Humanity is struggling to be.
All that any religion has been to the highest thoughts of any people Socialism is, and more, to those who conceive it aright. Without blinding us to our own weaknesses and wickednesses, without offering to us any sophistry or cajoling us with any fallacy, it enthrones Love above the universe, gives us Hope for all who are downtrodden and restores to us Faith in the eternal fitness of things. Socialism is indeed a religion—demanding deeds as well as words. Not until professing socialists understand this will the world at large see Socialism as it really is.
If this book assists the Union Prisoners Assistance Fund in any way or if it brings to a single man or woman a clearer conception of the Religion of Socialism it will have done its work. Should it fail to do either it will not be because the Cause is bad, for the Cause is great enough to rise above the weakness of those who serve it.J.M.