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She realizes that such democracy
as we have to-day is useful to-day, and that in a future crisis it may
serve as a lever for overturning the present social order. "Democracy is
indispensable," she says, "not because it makes the conquest of
political power by the working class superfluous, but, on the contrary,
because it makes this seizure of power not only necessary, but the only
remaining alternative."

From Kautsky and Bebel, who have always been known as strong believers
in the possibilities of political action, to the somewhat skeptical
revolutionary Socialists of France, the ballot has thus far remained the
weapon of first practical importance, even for revolutionary purposes.
Bebel expects some day a great crisis which will go far beyond the
power of any merely political means to solve. Kautsky looks forward to
more than one great conflict, in which other means will have to be
employed, as does also his Socialist critic and opponent, Jaurès. But
for the present all these men are occupying themselves with politics.

Even those Socialists who are most skeptical of the revolutionary
possibilities of political action by no means turn their back upon it.
The French advocate of economic action and revolutionary labor unionism,
Lagardelle, who recently surprised some of his French comrades, as I
have already pointed out, by running as a candidate for the French
Chamber, claimed that he did this in entire consistency with his
principles. And even the arch-revolutionary, Gustave Hervé, has declared
that in spite of all the faults and limitations of political action,
revolutionary Socialists must cling to the Socialist Party. Hervé had
looked with a favorable eye on the formation of a revolutionary
organization which was to consist only in part of Socialists and in part
of revolutionary labor unionists, but he declared at the last moment
that such an organization ought to be only a group within the Socialist
Party. A bitter critic of Jaurès and also of the orthodox "center" of
the party on the ground that their methods are too timid to achieve
anything for Socialism in view of the ruthless aggressions of the
capitalists, Hervé nevertheless said that it was only very exceptional
circumstances that could justify revolutionary Socialists acting against
the party organization, even though it seemed to be doing so little
effective fighting against the capitalist enemy.

There could be no stronger evidence of the powerful hold of political
action even on the most revolutionary Socialists than the summary in
which Hervé reviews his reasons for this conclusion:--


"_First_: That the only manner of agitating for
anti-parliamentarism that succeeds, and is without danger, is
before and after electoral periods--showing constantly to the élite
of the proletariat the insufficiency and dangers of parliamentarism
in general and parliamentarist Socialism in particular;

"_Second_: During electoral periods all propaganda disparaging the
possibilities of politics unaided by other forms of action should
cease, 'in order not to embroil ourselves with the Socialist masses
who must be handled carefully at any cost, in the interest of the
revolutionary cause';

"_Third_: While the revolutionary Socialists' discontent with the
party's moderation and exclusive absorption in the details of
politics or reform ought not to lead them to oppose the
organization during election periods, it does not follow that
revolutionary Socialists can not even at such times continue to
preach their principles and proclaim their hatred to the
conservative parties and their attitude towards the Parliamentary
Socialist Party 'of sympathy mixed with distrust';

"_Fourth_: An exception should be made against certain Socialist
candidates who may have taken a scandalously conservative
anti-labor and anti-revolutionary position in the legislative
session just gone by, and that against the latter there should be a
fight to the finish, certain as we are of having with us almost the
entire support of the parliamentary Socialist Party."[285]


In a word, Hervé proves his democracy by respecting the opinion of the
majority of the Socialist Party, because he hopes and believes that it
will become revolutionary in his sense of the word. With a strong
preference for "direct action," strikes, "sabotage," boycotts, etc., he
yet allows his policies to be guided very largely by a political
organization.

But Socialist politics are not politics at all in the ordinary sense of
the word. They are directed primarily to prepare the people for a great
struggle to come. "Situations are approaching," said Bebel at the
Congress at Jena, in 1905, "which must of physical necessity lead to
catastrophes unless the working class develop so rapidly in power,
numbers, culture, and insight, that the bourgeoisie lose the desire for
catastrophes. We are not seeking a catastrophe,--what use would it be to
us? Catastrophes are brought about by the ruling classes." Bebel was
referring particularly to the possibility and even the probability that
the German government might try to destroy the Socialist Party by
limiting the right of suffrage or to crush the unions by limiting the
right of labor to organize. If he predicted a revolutionary crisis, it
was to come from a life-and-death struggle of the working people in
self-defense, in a desperate effort to protect economic and political
rights, but especially _political_ rights, which, as the labor unionist,
von Elm, said at this congress, were "the key to all." A revolutionary
conflict was anticipated, to be fought out by economic means, but only
as part of a political crisis--in which the majority of the people would
be on the side of the Socialists and the labor unions. Similarly, in
America, Mr. Victor Berger stated at the Socialist Convention of 1908
that he had no doubt that "in order to be able to shoot even, some day,
we must have the powers of the political government in our hands, at
least to a great extent."

While neither the political revolution involved in the capture of
government by Socialist voters, nor the economic revolution that would
follow a wholly successful general strike would lead necessarily to
revolution in its narrow sense of a great but relatively brief crisis,
or to revolutionary violence; while either political or economic
overturn, or both, combined in a single movement, might be accomplished
peacefully and by degrees, capitalist governments are just as likely to
seize the one as the other, as the occasion for attempts at violent
repression. A complete political victory would thus lead to the same
crisis and violence as a victorious general strike.

As Bebel says, Socialists are not trying to create a revolutionary
crisis. But they have little doubt that the capitalists themselves will
precipitate one as soon as Socialism becomes truly menacing, as may
happen within a few years in some countries. "The politicians of the
ruling class have reached a condition where they are ready to risk
everything upon a single throw of the dice," says Kautsky, on the
supposition that Socialism is _already_ a real menace in Germany. "They
would rather take their chances in a civil war than endure the fear of a
revolution," he continues. "The Socialists on the other hand, not only
have no reason to follow suit in this policy of desperation, but should
rather seek by every means in their power to postpone any such insane
uprising [of the capitalists] even if it be recognized as inevitable, to
a time when the proletariat will be so powerful as to be able at once to
whip the enraged [capitalist] mob, and to restrain it, so that the one
paroxysm shall be its last, and the destruction that it brings and the
sacrifice it costs shall be as small as possible."[286]

The majority of Socialists have no inclination towards violence of any
kind at the present time, whether domestic or foreign, and will avoid it
also for all time if they can. But they fear and expect that the present
ruling class will undertake violent measures of repression which will
inevitably result in a conflict of physical force.

The Civic Federation, of which so many conspicuous Americans have been
members (including Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, August Belmont,
Seth Low, Nicholas Murray Butler, and other prominent philanthropists,
educators, statesmen, publicists, and multimillionaires), had its
earliest origin, to the author's personal knowledge, partly in an effort
to divert the energies of the working people from Socialism and
revolutionary unionism to the conservative trade unionism of the older
British type. It was natural that this organization should give more and
more of its attention to an organized warfare against the Socialist
movement as the latter continued to grow, and this it has done. Its
members have attacked the movement from every quarter, accusing it of a
tendency to undermine religion, the family, and true patriotism. But the
most direct and important accusation it has made has been that the
Socialists are working toward revolutionary violence. In its official
organ it has quoted Mr. Debs as saying: "When the revolution comes we
will be prepared to take possession and assume control of every
industry." The quotation is fairly chosen, and represents the Socialist
standpoint, but if it is to be thoroughly understood it must be taken in
connection with other positions taken by the party. No revolution is
contemplated, other than one of the overwhelming majority of the people,
nor is any violence expected, other than such that may be instigated by
a privileged minority in order to prevent the majority from gaining
control of the government and industries of the country.

That the Civic Federation writers also understand that the violence may
come from above rather than from below is clearly shown in the context
of the article in question. The Federation organ also attacks Mrs. J. G.
Phelps Stokes for having said, at Barnard College, that the present
government would probably be overturned by the ballot.



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Keywords: movement, federation, rather, ruling, catastrophes, general, capitalist, conflict, follow, unionism
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