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Progress in
this view, like Darwin's variations, takes place a step at a time, and
its steps are infinitesimally small. _The Worker_ of Brisbane,
Australia, says: "The complicated complaint from which society suffers
can only be cured by the administration of _homeopathic_ doses....
Inculcate Socialism? Yes, but grab all you can to be going on with.
Preach revolutionary thoughts? Yes, but rely on the ameliorative
method.... The minds of men are of slow development, and we must be
content, we fear, to accomplish our revolution piecemeal, bit by bit,
till a point is come to when, by accumulative process, a series of small
changes amounts to the Great Change. The most important revolutions are
those that happen quietly without anything particularly noticeable
seeming to occur."

What is a Great Change depends _entirely_, in the revolutionist's view,
on how rapidly it is brought about, and "revolutionary thoughts" are
empty abstractions unless accompanied by revolutionary methods. Once it
is assumed that there is plenty of time, the difference between the
conservative and the radical disappears. For even those who have the
most to lose realize in these days the inevitability of "evolution." The
radical is not he who looks forward to great changes after long periods
of time, but he who will not tolerate unnecessary delay--who is
unwilling to accept the so-called installments or ameliorations offered
by the conservative and privileged (even when considerable) as being
satisfactory or as necessarily contributing to his purpose at all. The
radical spirit is rather that of John Stuart Mill, when he said, "When
the object is to raise the permanent condition of a people, small means
do not merely produce small effects; they produce no effect at all."

Some political standard and quantitative measure is as necessary to
social progress as similar standards are necessary in other relations.
If the political standard of the Socialists is so low as to regard
social reform programs which on the whole are more helpful to the
capitalists than to other classes--and therefore "produce no effect at
all" as far as the Socialist purpose is concerned--as if they were
_concessions_, then it follows naturally that the Socialists will be
ready to pay a price for such concessions. They will not only view as a
relative gain over the capitalists measures which are primarily aimed at
advancing capitalist interests, but they will inevitably be ready at a
price to relax to some extent the intensity of their opposition to other
measures that are capitalistic and antipopular. For instance, if old age
pensions are considered by the workers to be an epoch-making reform and
a concession, they may be granted by the capitalists all the more
readily. But if thus overvalued, advantage will be taken of this
feeling, and they will in all probability be accompanied by restrictions
of the rights of labor organizations. On the other hand, if such
pensions, however desirable, are considered as a reform which will
result indirectly in great savings to the capitalist classes, to public
and private charitable institutions, to employers, etc., then the
Socialists will accept them and, if possible, hasten their
enactment,--but, like the French, will refuse to pay for them out of
their own pockets (even through indirect taxation, as the British
workingmen were forced to do) and will allow them neither to be used as
a cloak for reaction, nor as a substitute for more fundamental reforms.

In other words, a rational political standard would teach that a certain
measure of political progress is normal in capitalist society as a
result of the general increase of wealth and the general improvement in
political and economic organization, especially now that the great
change to State capitalism is taking place; while reforms of an entirely
different character are needed if there is to be any relative advance of
the political and economic power of the masses, any tendency that might
lead in the course of a reasonable period of time to economic and social
democracy.

"A new and fair division of the goods and rights of this world should be
the main object of all those who conduct human affairs," said De
Tocqueville. The economic progress and political reforms of this
capitalistic age are doubtless bringing us nearer to the day when a new
and fair division of goods and rights _can_ take place, and they will
make the great transformation easier when it comes, but this does not
mean that in themselves they constitute even a first step in the new
dispensation. That they do is denied by all the most representative
Socialists from Marx to Bebel.

The most bitter opponents of Socialism, like its most thoroughgoing
advocates, have come to see that the whole character of the movement has
grown up from its unwillingness to compromise the aggressive tactics
indispensable for the revolutionary changes it has in view, until it has
become obvious that, _just as Socialism as a social movement is the
opposite pole to State capitalism, so Socialism as a social method is
the opposite pole to opportunism_.

FOOTNOTES:

[93] The Communist Manifesto.

[94] _The Coming Nation_, Sept. 9, 1911.

[95] Mr. Gompers's articles in the _Federationist_ have recently
appeared in book form.

[96] Carl D. Thompson, "The Constructive Program of Socialism"
(pamphlet).

[97] Victor Grayson and G. R. S. Taylor, "The Problem of Parliament," p.
56.

[98] Editorial in the _Socialist Review_ (London), May, 1910.

[99] _Vorwaerts_ (Milwaukee), Jan. 3, 1893.

[100] Edmond Kelly, "Individualism and Collectivism," p. 398.




CHAPTER II

"REFORMISM" IN FRANCE, ITALY, AND BELGIUM


The Socialist parties in Italy, Belgium, and France, where "reformism"
is strong, are progressing less rapidly than the Socialists of these
countries had reason to expect, and far less rapidly than in other
countries. It would seem that in these cases the same cause that drives
the movement to abandon aggressive tactics also checks its numerical
growth.

For example, it is a matter of principle among Socialists generally to
contest every possible elected position and to nominate candidates in
every possible district. The revolutionary French Socialist, Jules
Guesde, even stated to the writer that if candidates could be run by the
party in every district of France, and if the vote could in this way be
increased, he would be willing to see the number of Socialists in
Parliament reduced materially, even to a handful--the object being to
teach Socialism everywhere, and to prepare for future victories by
concentrating on a few promising districts rather than to make any
effort to become a political factor, at the present moment. Similarly,
August Bebel declared that he would prefer that in the elections of 1912
the Socialists should get 4,000,000 votes and 50 Reichstag members
rather than 3,000,000 votes and 100 members. In the latter case, of
course, the Socialist members would have been elected largely on the
second ballot by the votes of non-Socialists.

The policy actually carried out in both Italy and France has of late
been exactly the opposite to that recommended by Guesde and Bebel. In
the elections of 1909, the Socialist Party of Italy put up 114 less
candidates for Parliament than they had in the election of 1904, while
the number of candidates nominated in France was 50 less in 1910 than it
had been in 1906. The consequence was that the French Party received an
increase of votes less absolutely than that gained by the conservative
republicans and scarcely greater than that of the radicals, while in
Italy the Socialists actually cast a smaller _percentage_ of the total
vote in 1909 than they did in 1904, while the party membership
materially decreased.

This policy had a double result; it sent more Socialists to the
Parliaments, in each case increasing the number of members by about 50
per cent; on the other hand, it helped materially those radical and
rival parties most nearly related to the Socialists, for in many
districts where the latter had withdrawn their candidates these parties
necessarily received the Socialist vote. A vast field of agitation was
practically deserted, and even when the agitation was carried on, the
distinction between the Socialist Party and the parties it had favored,
and which in turn favored it, became less marked, and the chances of the
spread of Socialism in the future were correspondingly diminished.

In France it is this policy which has brought forward the so-called
"independent Socialists" of the recent Briand ministry. Being neither
Socialists nor "Radicals," they are in the best position to draw
advantages from the "rapprochement" of these forces, and it was thus
that Millerand came into the ministry in 1900, that Briand became prime
minister in 1910, and Augagneur minister in 1911. These are among the
most formidable opponents of the Socialist movement in France to-day. It
will seem from this and many other instances that the opportunist policy
which leads at first to a show of success, later results in a weakening
of the immediate as well as the future possibilities of the movement.

The opportunist policy leads not only to an abandonment of Socialist
principle, an outcome that can never be finally determined in any case,
but sometimes to an actual betrayal or desertion, visible to all eyes,
as, for instance, when Ferri left the movement in Italy, or Briand and
Millerand in France. That such desertions must inevitably result from
the looseness taught by "reformist" tactics is evident. Yet all through
Briand's early political career, Jaurès was his intimate associate, and
even after the former had forsaken the party, the latter confessed that,
like the typical opportunist, he had still expected to find in Briand's
introductory address as minister "reasons for hoping for the progress of
social justice."

The career of Briand is typical. "One must understand how to manage
principles," he had said in 1900 at the very time he was making the
revolutionary declarations I shall quote (in favor of the general strike
and against the army).



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Keywords: change, general, minister, object, rather, produce, reform, rapidly, opportunist, conservative
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