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They
agree that activity is the best teacher and that the class struggle must
be actually fought. But they propose other activities and feel that a
whole intermediate stage of Socialist evolution, including the capture
of national governments, lies between the Socialist agitation of the
past and any administration of a township that can do anything to bring
recruits to Socialism and not merely to "State Socialist" reform.

This is the view of the revolutionary majority of the international
movement. But the "reformist" minority is both large and powerful, and
since it draws far more recruits than does the revolutionary majority
from the ranks of the book educated and capitalistic reformers, its
spokesmen and writers attract a disproportionately large share of
attention in capitalistic and reform circles, and thus give rise to
widespread misunderstanding as to the position of the majority.

Not only are both the more or less Socialistic parties in Great Britain
and the Labour parties of the British colonies "reformist" to the extent
that they are either entirely outside or practically independent of the
international movement, but the parties of Belgium, Italy, and South
Germany have, for a number of years, concentrated their attention almost
exclusively on such reforms as the capitalist governments of their
countries are likely to allow to be enacted--the dominant idea being to
obtain all that can be obtained for the working classes at the present
moment, even when, for this purpose, it becomes necessary to subordinate
or to compromise entirely the plans and hopes of the future. And it is
only within the last year or two that the revolutionary wing in these
last-named countries has begun to grow rapidly again and promises to
regain control.

There can be no doubt that Socialist "reformism" has become very
widespread. President Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, who
had every facility of meeting European Socialists and unionists on a
recent tour, made some observations which are by no means without a
certain foundation.[95] He says that he talked to these people about
Socialism and, though they all knew "the litany, service, and
invocation" and the Socialist text for the coming revolution, they
preserved this knowledge for their speech making, while in conversation
it all faded away into the misty realms of the imagination.
"Positively," writes Mr. Gompers, "I never found one man in my trip
ready to go further into constructive Socialism than to repeat
perfunctorily its time-worn generalities. On the other hand, I met men
whom I knew years ago, either personally or through correspondence or by
their work, as active propagandists of the Socialists' theoretical
creed, who are now devoting their energies to one or other of the
practical forms of social betterment--trade unionism, co÷peration, legal
protection to the workers--and who could not be moved to speak of
utopianism [Mr. Gompers's epithet for Socialism]." It is doubtless true,
as Mr. Gompers says, that the individuals he questioned have practically
abandoned their Socialism, even though they remain members of the
Socialist parties. For if such activities as he mentions could be
claimed as "Socialism," then there is very little public work an
intelligent and honest workingman can undertake, no matter how
conservative it may be, which is not to go by that name.

The chief characteristic of the reformists is, indeed, frankly to claim,
either that all the capitalist-collectivist reforms of the period are
Socialist in origin, or that they cannot be put into execution without
Socialist aid, or that such reforms are enacted only as concessions, for
fear that Socialism would otherwise sweep everything before it.

Rev. Carl D. Thompson, formerly a Socialist member of the Wisconsin
Legislature, and now Town Clerk of Milwaukee, for example, claims
Millerand as a Socialist minister, though the French Socialist Party
agreed by an almost unanimous vote that he is not to be so considered,
and attributes to this minister a whole series of reforms in which he
was only a single factor among many others. Many important legislative
changes which have taken place in Italy since 1900, Mr. Thompson
accredits to the opportunist Socialist leader, Turati, with his handful
of members of the chamber, though it is certain that even at the present
moment the Socialists have not yet arrived at a position where they can
claim that they are shaping governmental action as strongly as their
Radical allies. Mr. Thompson states that the "Socialist Independent
Labour Party" of Great Britain had thirty-four representatives in
Parliament at a time when the larger non-Socialist Labour Party, which
included it, had only this number. He claimed that a majority of this
latter party were Socialists, when, as a matter of fact, only a minority
were members of any Socialist party even in the ultra-moderate sense in
which the term is employed in England, and he accredits all the chief
reforms brought about by the Liberal government to this handful of
"Socialists," including even the old age pensions which were almost
unanimously favored by the old parties.[96] He even lists among his
signs of the progress of Socialism the fact that, at the time of
writing, fifty-nine governments owned their railways, while a large
number had instituted postal savings banks.

The same tendency to claim everything good as Socialism is very common
in Great Britain. Even the relatively advanced Socialist, Victor
Grayson, avoids the question whether there is any social reform which is
not Socialism,[97] and it seems to be the general position of British
Socialists that every real reform is Socialism--more or less.

August Bebel, on the contrary, is quoted as saying, "_It is not a
question of whether we achieve this or that; for us the principal thing
is that we put forward certain claims which no other party can put
forward._" The great German Socialist sees clearly that if Socialism is
to distinguish itself from the other parties it must rest its claims
solely on demands which are made exclusively by Socialists. This is what
those who claim that every reform is Socialism, or is best promoted by
Socialists, fail to see. By trying to make the word, "Socialism" mean
everything, they inevitably make it mean nothing.

It is true that for a time the very advertisement of the word
"Socialism," by this method, and even the widest and loosest use of
Socialist phrases had the effect of making people think about Socialist
principles. But this cannot be long continued before the public begins
to ask questions concerning the exact meaning of such expressions as
applied to everyday life. The Socialist paper, _Justice_, of London,
urged that "the very suggestion that any of the Liberal members of
Parliament were connected with the Socialist movement created a more
profound impression than all they ever said or did." This is doubtless
true, but when the novelty has once worn off of this situation it is
what so-called Socialists do that alone will count.

For example, the leading reformist Socialist of Great Britain, Mr. J. R.
MacDonald, wishes to persuade the Socialists of America to carry on "a
propaganda of immediately practicable changes, justified and enriched by
the fact that they are the realization of great ideals."[98] Such a
reduction of the ideal to what is actually going on, or may be
immediately brought about, makes it quite meaningless. Evidently the
immediately practicable changes that Mr. MacDonald suggests are
themselves his ideal, and what he calls the ideal consists rather of
phrases and enthusiasms that are useful, chiefly, for the purpose of
advertising his Party and creating enthusiasm for it.

The underlying motive of the "reformists" when they claim non-Socialist
reforms as their own, and relegate practically all distinctively
Socialist principles and methods to the vague and distant future, is
undoubtedly their belief that reforms rather than Socialism appeal to
the working class.

"The mass of workingmen will support the Socialist Party," a Socialist
reformer wrote recently, "not because they are being robbed under
capitalism, but because they are made to understand that this party can
be relied upon to advance certain measures which they know will benefit
them and their families here and now.

"The constructive Socialist believes that the co÷perative commonwealth
will be realized, not by holding it up in contrast to capitalism,--but
only by the working class fighting first for this thing, then for that
thing, until private enterprise is undermined by its rewards being eaten
up by taxes and its incentive removed by the inroads made upon profits."

The working people, that is, are not intelligent enough to realize that
they are "robbed under capitalism," and are not getting their
proportionate share of the increase of wealth, nor courageous enough to
take up the fight to overthrow capitalism; they appreciate only small
advances from day to day, and every step by which "private capitalism"
is replaced by State action is such an advance, while these advances are
to be secured chiefly through a Socialist Party. In a word, the
Socialist Party is to ask support because it can accomplish more than
other parties for social reform under capitalism, which at the present
period means "State Socialism."

For while "reformist" Socialists are taking a position nearly identical
with that of the non-Socialist reformers, the latter are coming to adopt
a political policy almost identical with that of the reformist
Socialists. I have noted that one of America's leading economists
advises all reformers, whether they are Socialists or not, to join the
Socialist Party. Since both "reformist" Socialists and "Socialistic"
reformers are interested in labor legislation, public ownership,
democratic political reforms, graduated taxation, and the governmental
appropriation of the unearned increment in land, why should they not
walk side by side for a very considerable distance behind "a somewhat
red banner," and "without troubling themselves about the unlike
goals"--as Professor John Bates Clark recommends?



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Keywords: number, whether, immediately, non-socialist, labour, because, either, practically, present, gompers
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