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The reformers do not object to promising the revolutionaries that
they shall have their own way in the relatively rare crises when
revolutionary means are used or contemplated. The revolutionaries are
willing to allow the reformers to claim all the credit for all reforms
beneficial to the workers that happen to be enacted. Neither gives up
their first principle, whether it be revolution or reform, but in the
matter of secondary importance, reform or revolution, each side
tolerates in the party an attitude in diametrical opposition to its
principles and the tactics it requires. Both do this doubtless in the
belief that by this opportunism they will some day capture the whole
party, and that a split may thus be avoided in the meanwhile.

Since the Toulouse Congress the divisions within the French Party have
become much more acute. Briand's conduct in the great railway strike in
1911 is discussed below. Yet in spite of this experience of how much the
government is ready to pay for railways and how little it is ready to do
to their employees, Jaurès's followers at the Party Congresses of 1911
and 1912 stood again for the policy of nationalization, and Guesde was
impelled to warn the party that Briand's "State Socialism" was the
gravest danger to the movement.

Briand's positive achievements are also defended by Jaurès. The recent
workingmen's pension law, unlike that of England, demands a direct
contribution from the employees. Nevertheless, it contained some slight
advantages, and of the seventy-five Socialist members of the Chamber of
Deputies, only Guesde voted against it. Even when the Federation of
Labor was conducting a campaign against registration to secure these
"benefits," Jaurès's organ, _L'Humanité_ took the other side. The
working people, as usual, followed their unions. Less than 5 per cent
registered; in Paris only 2.5 per cent, and in Brest 22 out of 10,000.

The experience with Millerand and Briand has made it impossible for
Jaurès to tie the French Party to "reformism." But reformism has brought
it about that the Party is often split in its votes in the Chamber of
Deputies. In the Party Congresses, however, Jaurès is outvoted where a
clear difference arises, an outcome he does his best to avoid. The
Congress of 1911 (at St. Quentin) reaffirmed the international decision
at Amsterdam which prevents the party going in for reform as a part of a
non-Socialist administration. It declared that "Socialists elected to
office are the representatives of a party of fundamental and absolute
opposition to the whole of the capitalist class, and to the State, its
tool." And Vaillant said that since the Amsterdam Congress in 1904 the
question of participation in capitalist ministries had ceased to exist
in France.

It is true that Jaurès secured at this Congress, by a narrow majority,
an indorsement of his policy of accepting the government pension offer.
But the orthodox followers of Guesde and the revolutionary disciples of
Hervé joined to secure its condemnation first by the Paris organization,
and later by the National Council of the Party by the decisive vote of
87 to 51. This resolution which marks a great turning point in the
French Party, is in part as follows:--

"The National Council declares that each time a labor question is to be
decided, the Socialist Party should act in accord with the General
Confederation of Labor."

As the Confederation has indorsed Socialism both as an end and as a
means, few, if any, Socialist parties would object to this resolution.
But the Confederation is also revolutionary, and this policy, if adhered
to, marks an end to the influence of the "reformism" of Jaurès.

The precise objections to the government's insurance proposal are also
significant. The National Council protested against the following
features:--


(1) The compulsory contributions.

(2) The capitalization (of the fund).

(3) The ridiculous smallness of the pension.

(4) The age required to obtain the pension.

(5) The reëstablishment of workingmen's certificates.


Among the working people there is no doubt that the first feature was
the chief cause of unpopularity. But Socialists know that, through
indirect taxes or the automatic fall in wages or rise in prices, the
same object of charging the bill to the workers may be reached. The
capitalization refers to the investment and management of the large fund
required by a capitalist government, thereby increasing its power. The
last point has to do with the tendency to restrict the workers' liberty
in return for the benefits granted--a tendency more visible with the
pensions of the railway employees which were almost avowedly granted to
sweeten the bitter pill of a law directed against their organizations.

The same orthodox and revolutionary elements in the Party overthrew the
Monis Ministry by refusing to vote for it with Jaurès and his followers.
But this ministry, perhaps the most radical France has had, was in part
a creation of Jaurès, who had hailed it with delight in his organ,
_L'Humanité_. The fact that it only lived for three months and was
overthrown by Socialists was another crushing blow to Jaurès. As it came
simultaneously with his defeat in the National Council, it is highly
improbable that the reformists will succeed soon, if ever, in regaining
that majority in the movement which they held for a brief moment at the
time of the St. Quentin Congress and during the first days of the Monis
Ministry.

It is now in Belgium and Italy only that "reformism" is dominant and
still threatens to fuse the Socialists with other parties. In the last
election in Italy the Socialists generally fused with the Republicans
and Radicals, while the Belgian Party has decided to allow the local
political organizations to do this wherever they please in the elections
of 1912.

In Belgium, Vandervelde, who has usually represented himself as an
advocate of compromise between the two wings in international
congresses, has now come out for a position more reformistic than that
of Jaurès and only exceeded by the British "Labourites." He was one of
the movers of the Amsterdam resolution (see Chapter VII), which he now
declares merely repeated the previous one of Paris (1900) which, he
says, merely "forbids an individual Socialist to take a part in a
capitalist government without the consent of the Party." On the
contrary, this Amsterdam resolution, as Vaillant says, forbids Socialist
Parties to allow their members to become members of capitalist
ministries except under the most extraordinary and critical
circumstances.[102]

We are not surprised after this to hear Vandervelde say that the Belgian
Party has not decided whether it will take part in a future Liberal
government or not, because, though the occasion for this might occur
this year (1912), he considers it too far off in the future for present
consideration--surely a strange position for a Party that pretends to be
interested in a future society. We are also prepared to hear from him
that Socialists might be ready to accept representation in such a
ministry, not in proportion to their numerical strength, or even their
votes, but in proportion to the number of seats an unequal election law
gives them in Parliament. Whether, when the question actually presents
itself, the Party will follow Vandervelde is more than questionable.

In Italy "reformism" has reached its furthermost limit. When last year
(1911) Bissolati was offered a place in the Giolitti Ministry he
hesitated for weeks and was openly urged by a number of other Socialist
deputies to accept. After consultations with Giolitti and the king he
finally refused, giving as a pretext that, as minister, he would be
forced to give some outward obeisance to monarchy, but really because
such an action would split the Socialist Party and perhaps, also,
because he might not be able altogether to support Giolitti on the one
ground of the military elements of his budget. Far from condemning
Bissolati, the group of Socialist deputies passed a resolution that
expressed satisfaction with his conduct and even appointed him to speak
in their name at the opening of the new Parliament. All the deputies
save two then voted confidence in the new ministry and approbation of
its program.

The opinion of the revolutionary majority of the international movement
on this situation was reflected in the position of the revolutionaries
of the two chief cities of the country, Milan and Rome. At the former
city where they had a third of the delegates to the local Socialist
committee they moved that the Socialist Party could neither authorize
its deputies to represent it in a capitalist ministry or give that
ministry its support, "except under conditions determined, not by
Parliamentary artifices, but by the needs and mature political
consciousness of the great mass of workers." At Rome two thirds of the
Socialist delegates voted a resolution condemning the action of
Bissolati as "the direct and logical consequence of the thought,
program, and practical action of the reformist group," and reproved both
the proposal of immediate participation in a capitalist government and
"the theoretical encouragement of such a possibility" as being opposed
to all sound and consistent Socialist activity.

The "reformists," led by Turati, were of the opinion merely that the
time was not yet ripe for the action Bissolati had contemplated. But the
grounds given in the resolution proposed by Turati on this occasion show
that it was not on principle that he went even this far. He declared
that "in the present condition of the organization and the present state
of mind of the Party" a participation in the government which was "not
imposed by a real popular movement, would profoundly weaken Socialist
action, aggravating the already existing lack of harmony between purely
parliamentary action and the development of the political consciousness
and the capacity for victory on the part of the great mass of the
workers."[103] In other words, as in France, the working people,
especially those in the unions, will not tolerate a further advance in
the reformist direction, but Turati and Bissolati, like Jaurès and
Vandervelde are striving to compromise, just as far as they will be
allowed to do so.



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Keywords: followers, guesde, position, policy, congresses, political, employees, people, participation, question
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