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Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Walsh's conclusions that
are contradicted by the evidence I have given in this chapter and
elsewhere in the present volume. The Socialist view of the last two
statements may be best shown by a quotation from Mr. Charles Edward
Russell, who is the critic referred to by Mr. Walsh, and has undertaken
with great success to uproot among the Socialists of this country the
fanciful pictures and fallacies concerning Australasia that date in this
country from the time of the radical and fearless but uncritical and
optimistic books of Henry D. Lloyd ("A Country Without Strikes," etc.).
Mr. Russell shows that a Labor Party as in Australia may gain control of
the forms of government, without actually gaining the sovereignty over
society or industry. (See the _International Socialist Review_,
September, 1911.) In an article that has made a greater sensation in the
American movement than any that has yet appeared (with the exception of
Debs's "Danger Ahead," quoted in the next chapter), Mr. Russell
writes:--


"A proletarian movement can have no part, however slight, in the
game of politics. The moment it takes a seat at that grimy board is
the moment it dies within. After that, it may for a time maintain a
semblance of life and motion, but in truth it is only a corpse.

"This has been proved many times. It is being proved to-day in
Great Britain. It has been proved recently and most convincingly in
the experience of Australia and New Zealand.

"In Australia the proletarian movement that began eighteen years
ago has achieved an absolute triumph--in politics. Under the name
of the Labor Party it has won all that any political combination
can possibly win anywhere. It has played the political game to the
limit and taken all the stakes in sight. The whole national
government is in its hands. It has attained in fullest measure to
the political success at which it aimed. It not merely influences
the government; it is the government.

"To make the situation clear by an American analogy, let us suppose
the Socialists of America to join hands with the progressive
element in the labor unions and with the different groups of
advanced radicals. Let us suppose a coalition party to be formed
called the Labor Party. Let us suppose this to have entered the
State and national campaigns, winning at each successive election
more seats in Congress, and finally, after sixteen years of
conflict, electing its candidate for President and a clear majority
of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This would be
admitted to be the summit of such a party's aims and to mean great
and notable success; and it would closely parallel the situation in
Australia.

"Exactly such a Labor Party has administered the affairs of
Australia since April, 1910. Its triumph was the political success
of a proletarian movement that was steered into the political game.
What has resulted?

"This has resulted, that the Labor Party of Australia is now
exactly like any other political party and means no more to the
working class except its name. Constituted as the political party
of that class, it has been swept into power by working-class votes,
and after almost a year and a half of control of national affairs,
it can show nothing more accomplished for working-class interests
than any other party has accomplished. The working class under the
Labor Party is in essentially the same condition that it has been
in under all the other administrations, nor is there the slightest
prospect that its condition will be changed.

"In other words, the whole machine runs on exactly as before, the
vast elaborated machine by which toilers are exploited and
parasites are fed. Once in power, the Labor Party proceeded to do
such things as other parties had done for the purpose of keeping in
power, and it is these things that maintain the machine.

"On the night of the election, when the returns began to indicate
the result, the gentleman that is now Attorney-General of the
Commonwealth was in the Labor Party headquarters, jumping up and
down with uncontrollable glee.

"'We're in!' he shouted. 'We're in! We're in!'

"That was an excellent phrase and neatly expressed the whole
situation. The Labor Party was in; it had won the offices and the
places of power and honor; it had defeated the opponents that had
often defeated it. It was 'in.' The next thing was to keep in, and
this is the object that it has assiduously pursued ever since. 'We
are in; now let us stay in. We have the offices; let us keep the
offices.'

"The first thing it does is to increase its strength with the
bourgeoisie and the great middle class always allied with its
enemies. To its opponents in the campaigns the handiest weapon and
most effective was always the charge that the Labor Party was not
patriotic, that it did not love the dear old flag of Great Britain
with the proper degree of fervor and ecstasy; that it was wobbly on
the subject of war and held strange, erratic notions in favor of
universal peace instead of yelling day and night for British
supremacy whether right or wrong--which is well known to be the
duty of the true and pure patriot. This argument was continually
used and had great effect.

"Naturally, as the Labor Party was now in and determined to stay
in, the wise play indicated in the game upon which it had embarked,
was to disprove all these damaging allegations and to show that the
Labor Party was just as patriotic as any other party could possibly
be. So its first move was to adopt a system of universal military
service, and the next to undertake vast schemes of national
defense. The attention and admiration of the country were directed
to the fact that the Labor administration was the first to build
small arms factories, to revise the military establishment so as to
secure the greatest efficiency and to prepare the nation for deeds
of valor on the battlefield.

"At the time this was done there was a crying need for new labor
legislation; the system or lack of system of arbitrating labor
disputes was badly in need of repairs; workingmen were being
imprisoned in some of the States for the crime of striking; the
power of government was often used to oppress and overawe strikers,
even when they had been perfectly orderly and their cause was
absolutely just. These with many other evils of the workingman's
condition were pushed aside in order to perfect the defense system
and get the small arms factories in good working order, for such
were the plain indications of the game that the Labor Party had
started out to play. 'We're in; let us stay in.'

"Meantime there remains this awkward fact about the condition of
the working class. It is no less exploited than before. It is as
far, apparently, from the day of justice under the rule of the
Labor Party as it was under the rule of the Liberal Party. What are
you going to do about that? Why, there is nothing to be done about
that as yet. The country, you see, is not ready for any radical
measures on that subject. If we undertook to make any great changes
in fundamental conditions, we should be defeated at the next
election and then we should not be in, but should be out. True, the
cost of living is steadily increasing, and that means that the
state of the working class is inevitably declining. True, under the
present system, power is steadily accumulating in the hands of the
exploiters, so that if we are afraid to offend them now, we shall
be still more afraid to offend them next year and the next. But the
main thing is to keep in. We're in; let us stay in.

"Hence, also, the Labor administration has been very careful not
to offend the great money interests and powerful corporations that
are growing up in the country. These influences are too powerful in
elections. Nothing has been done that could in the least disturb
the currents of sacred business. It was recognized as not good
politics to antagonize business interests. Let the administration
keep along with the solid business interests of the country,
reassuring them for the sake of the general prosperity and helping
them to go on in the same, safe, sane, and conservative way as
before. It was essential that business men should feel that
business was just as secure under the Labor administration as under
any other. Nothing that can in the least upset business, you know.
True, this sacred business consists of schemes to exploit and rob
the working class, and true, the longer it is allowed to go upon
its way the more powerful it becomes and the greater are its
exploitations and profits. But if we do anything that upsets
business or tends to disturb business confidence, that will be bad
for us at the next election. Very likely we shall not be able to
keep in. We are in now; let us stay in, and have the offices and
the power.

"Therefore, it is with the greatest pride that the Labor people
point out that under the Labor administration the volume of
business has not decreased, but increased; the operations of the
banks have shown no falling off; they are still engaged as
profitably as of yore in skinning the public; the clearings are in
an eminently satisfactory condition; profits have suffered no
decline; all is well in our marts of trade. The old machine goes on
so well you would never know there had been any change in the
administration. Business men have confidence in our Party. They
know that we will do the right thing by them, and when in the next
campaign the wicked orators of the opposition arise and say that
the Labor Party is a party of disturbers and revolutionists, we can
point to these facts and overwhelm them.



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Keywords: before, suppose, situation, politics, proletarian, 'we're, offend, powerful, exactly, proved
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