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The Socialists have been the first to recognize this, and for
this reason oppose any entrance of Socialists into capitalist
governments, _i.e._ their acceptance of minority positions in national
cabinets or councils of State. (See Chapters II, VI, and VII.)

Expressing the belief of the overwhelming majority of those who are
watching the progress of affairs in Milwaukee, the _Journal_ of that
city stated, "What they [the Socialists] are doing [in Milwaukee] is not
essentially Socialistic, though some of the reforms they propose are
Socialistic in tendency." This need not be taken to mean that the
Milwaukee reforms are supposed to tend to Socialism as Socialists in
general understand it, but rather to that capitalistic collectivism to
which Mr. Taft refers when he says that in the present regulation of the
railroads "we have gone a long way in the direction of State Socialism."

Mr. Stokes's comment upon many widely published defenses of the
Milwaukee Socialists by anti-Socialists was published in a letter to the
_New York World_ which sums up admirably the International standpoint:
"It is surely public opinion out of office and not the party in office,"
wrote Mr. Stokes, "that does the most for progress in this country, and
it seems to me exceedingly doubtful whether any party in power has ever
led public opinion effectively at any time. I share with very many
Socialists the view that it is entirely fallacious to suppose that more
can be done at this stage of the world's progress through politics, than
through 'education, agitation, and perpetual criticism.'"

I have referred to Mr. Berger as a "reformist" to distinguish his
policies from the professed opportunism of some of the British
Socialists. But I have also noted that his tactics and philosophy, as
both he and they have publicly acknowledged, are alike at many points.
For example, his views, like theirs, often seem less democratic than
those of many non-Socialist radicals, or even of the average American.
Years after the labor unions and the farmers of most of the States had
indorsed direct legislation, and in a year when it was already becoming
the law of several States, Mr. Berger, looking out for the interests of
what he and his associates frankly call the "political machine" of the
Wisconsin Party, damned it by faint praise, though it was an element of
his own platform; and he had claimed credit for having first proposed it
in Wisconsin. He acknowledged that the Initiative and Referendum _make
towards_ Socialism and are the surest way in the end, but urged that
they are "also the longest way," and wrote in the _Social-Democratic

"The real class conscious proletariat is still in a minority, and
liable to stay so for a time to come. It can only show results by
fighting as a well-organized, compact mass.

"But the initiative, the referendum, and the right to recall have a
tendency to destroy parties and loosen tightly knit political

"Therefore, while the Socialist Party stands for direct legislation
as a democratic measure, we are well aware that the working class
will be helped very little by getting it. We are well aware that
the proletariat, before all things, must get more economic and
political, strength--more education and more wisdom. That, besides
teaching co÷peration, we must build _political machines_."[152] (My

On the question of Woman Suffrage, also, Mr. Berger long showed a
similarly hesitating attitude, saying that intelligent women "have
always exercised great political power" even without the ballot;
doubting whether women's vote would help the advance of humanity "in the
coming time of transition," saying this is a question of fact on which
Socialists may honestly differ, and urging that "no one will deny that
the great majority of the women of the present day--_and that is the
only point we can view now_, are illiberal, unprogressive, and
reactionary to a greater extent than the men of the same stratum of
society." (The italics are mine.) Finally, Mr. Berger concluded as
follows, twice throwing the balance of his opinion from one scale into

"Now, if all this is correct, female suffrage, for generations to
come, will simply mean the deliberate doubting of the strength of a
certain church,--will mean a great addition to the forces of
ignorance and reaction....

"However, we have woman suffrage in our platform, and we should
stand by it. Because in the end it will help to interest the other
half of humanity in social and political affairs, and it will be of
great educational value on both women and men....

"Nevertheless, it is asking a great deal of the proletariat when we
are requested to delay the efficiency of our movement _for
generations_ on that count. And we surely ought not to lay such
stress on this one point as to injure the progress of the general
political and economic movement--the success of which is bound to
help the women as much as the men."[153] (The italics are mine.)

It is no wonder, with such a lukewarm advocacy of its own platform by
the Party's organ and its chief spokesman, that some of the lesser
figures in the Milwaukee movement--such as certain Socialist
aldermen--seem to have lost the road altogether until even Mr. Berger
has been forced to call a halt. For the leader of a "political machine,"
to use Mr. Berger's own expression, may allow himself certain liberties;
but when his followers do the same, disintegration is in sight. Witness
Mr. Berger's words, written only a few weeks after the Socialist victory
in Milwaukee; words which seem to indicate that the tendencies he
complains of were the direct result, not of slow degeneration, but of
the local Party's reformistic teachings and campaign methods:--

"The most dangerous part of the situation is that some of our
comrades seem to forget that we are a Socialist Party.

"They not only begin to imitate the ways and methods of the old
parties, but even their reasoning and their thoughts are getting to
be more bourgeois and less proletarian. To some of these men the
holding of the office--whatever the office may be--seems to be the
final aim of the Socialist Party. These poor sticks do not know
that there are many Socialists who deplore that the necessity of
electing and appointing officeholders will make it twice as hard to
keep the Socialist Party pure in this country, than in other
countries where the movement is relieved of this duty and danger.

"And even some of the aldermen seem to have lost their Socialist
class consciousness--if they ever had any."

It is difficult to see how Mr. Berger can expect to maintain respect for
principles that he teaches and applies so loosely himself. It is,
furthermore, difficult to understand how he expects submission to the
decisions of his organization when he himself has been on the verge of
revolt both against the national and international movement. He has
always avowed his profound disagreement with the methods of the
Socialists in practically every State but his own. He and his associates
were at one moment so far from the national and international principle
that they sought to support a non-Socialist candidate for judge--on the
specious ground that no Socialist was nominated. But the National
Congress condemned and forbade such action by an overwhelming majority.
Mr. Berger's unwillingness to act with his organization even went so far
at one point that he was punished by a temporary suspension from the
National Executive Committee. And, finally, he even threatened in
Socialist Berlin that if the American Party, which he claimed held his
views on immigration, was not allowed to have its way, it would pay no
attention to the decision of the International Congress; though at the
very time he was threatening rebellion the decision of the recent
Congress showed that two-thirds of the American Party stood, not with
him, but with the International Movement. Should he be surprised if
Milwaukee aldermen, like himself, interpret Socialism as they see fit,
and forget that they are a part of a Socialist Party?

But while Mr. Berger and the present policies that are guiding American
"reformist" Socialists differ profoundly from those of the International
movement, and resemble in some ways the policies of the non-Socialist
reformers of Wisconsin and other States, in other respects there is a
difference. The labor policy of the collectivist reformers and of the
"reformist" Socialists might be expected to differ somewhat--not in what
is ordinarily called the labor legislation, _i.e._ factory reform,
workingmen's compensation, old age pensions, etc., but in their attitude
to labor organizations and the labor struggle: strikes, boycotts, and

Senator La Follette's followers are in the overwhelming majority
farmers; the Wisconsin "Social-Democrats," as they call themselves, have
secured little more than one per cent of the vote of the State outside
of Milwaukee and a few other towns, and even less in the country. On the
other hand, the majority of the workingmen of Milwaukee and several
other towns vote for the Socialists, while those who do not are usually
not followers of Senator La Follette, but Catholics and Democrats. The
Wisconsin "Insurgents" have as yet by no means taken the usual
capitalist position in the struggle between employers and labor unions,
but they have shown repeatedly that they are conscious that they
represent primarily the small property holders and the business
community generally, including the small shareholders of the "trusts."

_La Follette's Weekly_, in an important article defending direct
legislation and the recall, says that the reason "we, the people," do
not give enough attention to public measures is that "we are so busy
with our private affairs," and continues: "Indeed, our success in our
private enterprises, nay even equality of opportunity to engage in
private enterprises, is coming more and more to depend upon the measure
of protection which we may receive through our government from the
unjust encroachments of the power of centralized Big Business." These
"State Socialist" radicals represent primarily small business men and
independent farmers, who are often employers, and their friendship to
employees will necessarily have to be subordinated whenever the two
interests come into conflict.


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Keywords: private, business, through, suffrage, certain, country, public, opinion, office, differ
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