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Secondly, within
a few years, it would give to the masses of the population, according to
their abilities, all the education needed to fill _from the ranks of the
non-capitalistic classes_ a proportion of all the most desirable and
important positions in the community, corresponding to their numbers,
and would see to it that they got these positions.

It is undoubtedly the opinion of the most representative figures of the
international Socialist movement that there is not the slightest
possibility that any of the non-Socialist reformers of to-day or of the
near future are following or will follow any such policy, or even take
the slightest step in that direction; and that there is nothing
Socialists can do to force such a policy on the capitalists until they
are actually or practically in power. Society may continue to progress,
but it is surely inconceivable to any close observer, as it is
inconceivable to the Socialists, that the privileged classes will ever
consent, without the most violent struggle, to a program which, viewed
as a whole, would lead, _however gradually or indirectly_, to a more
equitable distribution of wealth and political power.


[90] Kautsky, "The Capitalist Class" (pamphlet).

[91] Marx's letters to Sorge.

[92] Marx's letters to Sorge.





The Socialist movement must be judged by its acts, by the decisions
Socialists have reached and the reasoning they have used as they have
met concrete problems.

The Socialists themselves agree that first importance is to be attached,
not to the theories of Socialist writers, but to the principles that
have actually guided Socialist parties and their instructed
representatives in capitalist legislatures. These and the proceedings of
international and national congresses and the discussion that constantly
goes on within each party, and not theoretical writings, give the only
truthful and reliable impression of the movement.

In 1900 Wilhelm Liebknecht, who up to the time of his death was as
influential as Bebel in the German Party, pointed out that those party
members who disavowed Socialist principles in their _practical
application_ were far more dangerous to the movement than those who made
wholesale theoretical assaults on the Socialist philosophy, and that
political alliances with capitalist parties were far worse than the
repudiation of the teachings of Karl Marx. In his well-known pamphlet
_No Compromise_ he showed that this fact had been recognized by the
German Party from the beginning.

I have shown the Socialists' actual position through their attitude
towards progressive capitalism. An equally concrete method of dealing
with Socialist actualities is to portray the various tendencies _within_
the movement. The Socialist position can never be clearly defined except
by contrasting it with those policies that the movement has rejected or
is in the process of rejecting to-day. Indeed, no Socialist policy can
be viewed as at all settled or important unless it has proved itself
"fit," by having survived struggles either with its rivals outside or
with its opponents inside the movement.

If we turn our attention to what is going on within the movement, we
will at once be struck by a world-wide situation. "State Socialism" is
not only becoming the policy of the leading capitalistic parties in many
countries, but--in a modified form--it has also become the chief
preoccupation of a large group among the Socialists. "Reformist"
Socialists view most of the reforms of "State Socialism" as installments
of Socialism, enacted by the capitalists in the hope of diverting
attention from the rising Socialist movement.

To Marx, on the contrary, the first "step" in Socialism was the conquest
of complete political power by the Socialists. "The proletariat," he
wrote in the Communist Manifesto "will use _its political supremacy_ to
wrest, by degrees, all capital from the capitalists, to centralize all
instruments of production in the hands of the State, _i.e. of the
proletariat organized as the ruling class_." (My italics.) Here is the
antithesis both of "reformist" Socialism within the movement and of
"State Socialism" without. The working people are _not_ expected to gain
more and more political power step by step and to use it as they go
along. It is only _after_ gaining full political _supremacy_ by a
revolution (peaceful or otherwise) that they are to socialize industry
step by step. Marx and his successors do not advise the working people
to concentrate their efforts on the centralization of the instruments of
production in the hands of governments as they now are (capitalistic),
but only _after_ they have become completely transformed into the tools
of the working people "organized as the ruling class," to use Marx's

The central idea of the "reformist" Socialists is, on the contrary, that
before Socialism has captured any government, and even before it has
become an imminent menace, it is necessary that Socialists should take
the lead in the work of social reform, and should devote their energies
very largely to this object. It is recognized that capitalistic or
non-Socialist reformers have taken up many of the most urgent reforms
and will take up more of them, and that being politically more powerful
they are in a better position to put them into effect. But the
"reformist" Socialists, far from allowing this fact to discourage them,
allege it as the chief reason why they must also enter the field. The
non-Socialist reformers, they say, are engaged in a popular work, and
the Socialists must go in, help to bring about the reforms, and claim
part of the credit. They then propose to attribute whatever success they
may have gained, not to the fact that they also have become reformers
like the rest, but to the fact that they happen to be Socialists. The
non-Socialist reformers, they say again, are gaining a valuable
experience in government; the Socialists must go and do likewise.
Reforms which were steps in capitalism thus become to them steps in
Socialism. It is not the fashion of "reformists" to try to claim that
they are very great steps--on the contrary, they usually belittle them,
but it is believed that agitation for such reforms as capitalist
governments allow, is the best way to gain the public ear, the best kind
of political practice, the most fruitful mode of activity.

One of the leading American Socialist weeklies has made a very clear and
typical statement of this policy:--

"_If we leave the field of achievement to the reformer, then it is
going to be hard to persuade people that reform is not sufficient.
If Socialists take every step forward as part of a general
revolutionary program_, and never fail to point out that these
things are but steps forward in a stairway that mean nothing save
as they lead to a higher stage of society, then the Socialist
movement will carry along with it all those who are fighting the
class struggle. The hopelessness of reform as a goal will become
apparent when its real position in social evolution is pointed

The leading questions this proposed policy arouses will at once come to
the reader's mind: Will the capitalist reformers in control of national
governments allow the Socialist "reformists" to play the leading part in
their own chosen field of effort? If people tend to be satisfied with
reform, what difference does it make as to the ultimate political or
social ideals of those who bring it about? If the steps taken by
reformers and "reformists" are the same, by what alchemy can the latter
transform them into parts of a revolutionary program?

Mr. Simons, nevertheless, presents this "reformism" as the proper policy
for the American Party at its present stage:--

"It has become commonplace," he says, "to say that the Socialist
movement of the United States has entered upon a new stage, and
that with the coming of many local victories and not a few in
State and nation, Socialist activity must partake of the character
of preparation for the control of society.

"Yet our propaganda has been slow to reflect this change. This is
natural. For more than a generation the important thing was to
advertise Socialism and to inculcate a few doctrinal truths. This
naturally developed a literature based on broad assertions,
sensational exposures, vigorous denunciations, and revival-like
appeals that resulted in sectarian organization.

"It has been hard to break away from this stage. It is easier to
make a propaganda of 'sound and fury' than of practical
achievement. Once the phrases have been learned, it is much simpler
to issue a manifesto than to organize a precinct. It always
requires less effort to talk about a class struggle than to fight
it; to defy the lightning of international class rule than to
properly administer a township. Yet, if Socialism is inevitable, if
the Socialist Party is soon to rule in State and nation, then it is
of the highest importance that Socialists should know something of
the forces with which they are going to deal; something of the
lines of evolution which they are going to further; something of
the government which they are going to administer; something of the
task which they profess to be eager to accomplish."

It might seem that, after the first stage has been passed, the next
promising way to carry Socialism forward, the way actually to "fight"
the class struggle and to achieve something practical is, as Mr. Simons
says, to talk less and to go in and "administer a township."
Revolutionary Socialists agree that advertising, the teaching of a few
basic doctrines, emotional appeals, and the criticism of present society
have hitherto taken up the principal share of the Socialist agitation,
and that all these together are not sufficient to enable Socialists to
achieve their aim, or even to carry the movement much farther.

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Keywords: parties, practical, marx's, governments, working, government, should, social, reformists, revolutionary
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