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may fail, but from time to time they will grow more 'general' and
more powerful, and will wrest more concessions from the owners,
until the point is reached where the railroad business will return
practically no private profits to its owners. And when this point
is reached, or the certainty of its being reached is plainly seen,
then mastership will make its next shift. There will be two

"The first is literal, physical suppression, by the armed forces of
the nation still under control of the capitalists, and greatly
augmented for the purpose. This, however, for a multitude of
reasons, is a most dangerous policy and much more 'impossible' than
the general strike. Instead of postponing social revolution, it
rather accelerates its approach.

"The other alternative, and the one by all means most likely to be
adopted, is government ownership of the railroads, with the
capitalists, of course, as owners of the government. This will
undoubtedly be ushered in as 'State Socialism.' Laws will be passed
constituting the railroad workers as direct servants of the State,
and forbidding the general strike or any other kind of strike.

"The prohibition will not have the desired effect. If attempted to
be enforced, it merely throws capitalist society back on the first
dangerous alternative policy we have mentioned. But it will give
capitalism a breathing spell, and a chance to 'spar for wind' for a
while, which is the best it can expect. The general strike will
still be utilized to assail the capitalist State and its property.

"The final struggle will be a political one, for the capture of the
State from the hands of the capitalists, and such capture will mean
the transfer of capitalist State-owned property to collective
property and the establishment of industrial democracy, or


[271] The following quotations are taken from the brochure, "Der
Generalstreik," by Henriette Roland-Holst (Dresden, 1905).

[272] From a private letter published editorially in the _New York Sun_.

[273] The _Outlook_, Nov. 25, 1911.

[274] _Collier's Weekly_, Sept. 2, 1911.

[275] The _Outlook_, Aug. 26, 1911.

[276] _Die Neue Zeit_, Oct. 27, 1911.



"The workers do not yet understand," says Debs, "that they are engaged
in a class struggle, and must unite their class and get on the right
side of that struggle economically, politically, and in every other
way--strike together, vote together, and, if necessary, fight
together."[277] Socialists are prepared to use force when governments
resort to arbitrary violence--for example, to martial "law." In the
Socialist view no occasion whatever justifies the suspension of the
regular government the people has instituted--and even if such an
occasion could arise there is no authority to which they would consent
to give arbitrary power. Military "government" is not government, but
organized violence.

Tolstoi's masterly language on this matter will scarcely be improved

"The slavery of the working people is due to this, that there are
governments. But if the slavery of the laborers is due to the
government, the emancipation is naturally conditioned by the
abolition of the existing governments and the establishment of new
governments,--such as will make possible the liberation of the land
from ownership, the abolition of taxes, and the transference of the
capital and the factories into the power and control of the working

"There are men who recognize this issue as possible, and who are
preparing themselves for it.... So long as the soldiers are in the
hands of the government, which lives on taxes and is connected with
the owners of land and of capital, a revolution is impossible. And
so long as the soldiers are in the hands of the government, the
structure of life will be such as those who have the soldiers in
their hands want it to be.

"The governments, who are already in possession of a disciplined
force, will never permit the formation of another disciplined
force. All the attempts of the past century have shown how vain
such attempts are. Nor is there a way out, as the Socialists
believe, by means of forming a great economic force which would be
able to fight successfully against the consolidated and ever more
consolidating force of the capitalists. Never will the labor
unions, who may be in possession of a few miserable millions, be
able to fight against the economic power of the multimillionaires,
who are always supported by the military force. Just as little is
there a way out as is proposed by other Socialists, by getting
possession of the majority of the Parliament. Such a majority in
the Parliament will not attain anything, so long as the army is in
the hands of the governments. The moment the decrees of the
Parliament are opposed to the interests of the ruling classes, the
government will close and disperse such a parliament, as has been
so frequently done and as will be done so long as the army is in
the hands of the government."

Tolstoi, in spite of his contrary impression, here reaches conclusions
which are the same as those of the Socialists; for they are well aware
that armies are likely to be used to dissolve Parliaments and labor

"The introduction of socialistic principles into the army will not
accomplish anything," Tolstoi continues. "The hypnotism of the army
is so artfully applied that the most free-thinking and rational
person will, _so long as he is in the army_, always do what is
demanded of him. Thus there is no way out by means of revolution or
in Socialism."

Here Tolstoi is again mistaken, for at this point also Socialists agree
with him completely. The soldier, they agree, must be reached, and some
think must even be led to act, _before_ he reaches the barracks--whether
he is about to enter them for military training in times of peace or for
service in times of war.

"If there is a way out," concludes Tolstoi, "it is the one which
has not been used yet, and which alone incontestably destroys the
whole consolidated, artful, and long-established governmental
machine for the enslavement of the masses. This way out consists in
refusing to enter into the army, before one is subjected to the
stupefying and corrupting influence of discipline.

"This way out is the only one which is possible and which at the
same time is inevitably obligatory for every individual

Socialists differ from the great Russian, not in their analysis of the
situation, but in their more practical remedy. They would _organize_ the
campaign against military service instead of leaving it to the
individual, and _after_ they had converted a sufficient majority to
their views they would not hesitate to use any kind of force that seemed
necessary to put an end to government by force. But they would not
proceed to such lengths until their political and economic modes of
action were forcefully prevented from further development. If civil
government is suspended to combat the great general strike towards which
Socialists believe society is moving they will undertake to restore it
or to set up a new one to replace that which the authorities have
"legally" destroyed. I say _legally_ because all capitalist governments
have provided for this contingency by giving their executives the right
to suspend government when they please--on the pretext that its
existence is threatened by internal disorder. It has been generally and
publicly agreed among capitalist authorities that this power shall be
used in the case of a general strike--as the British government
declared, at the time of the recent railway strike, _whether there is
extensive popular violence or not_.

I have shown that the Socialists contemplate the use of the general
strike whenever, in vital matters, governments refuse to bow to the
clearly expressed will of the majority, and that they recognize the
difficulties to be overcome before such a measure can be used
successfully. Of course the overwhelming majority of the population will
have to be against the government. But the military aspect of the
question may possibly make it necessary that the majority to be secured
will have to be even greater than was at first contemplated, and that an
even more intense struggle will have to be carried on. The Bismarcks of
the world are already using armies as strike breakers and training them
especially for this purpose, while even the more democratic and peaceful
States, like England and France, are rapidly following in the same
direction. Of course, as Bismarck said, not all of a large army can be
so used, but there is a strong tendency in Russia and Germany, which may
be imitated elsewhere, for the military leaders to concentrate their
efforts and attention on the picked and more or less professional part
of their armies, and it is this part that is being used for
strike-breaking purposes.

No one has dealt more ably with this struggle between the working people
and coercive government than Karl Liebknecht, recently elected to the
Reichstag from the Kaiser's own district of Potsdam, who spent a year as
a political prisoner in Germany for his "Militarismus und
Anti-Militarismus." Liebknecht opens his pamphlet by quoting a statement
of Bismarck to Professor Dr. Otto Kamaell, in October, 1892:--

"In Rome water and fire were forbidden to him who put himself
outside of the legal order. In the middle ages that was called to
outlaw. It was necessary to treat the Social-Democracy in the same
way, to take away its political rights and its right to vote. So
far I have gone.

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Keywords: before, together, socialism, soldiers, course, economic, working, armies, property, possible
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