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Berger and the Wisconsin Social-Democrats on the other hand
represent primarily the workingmen of the cities, especially those who
are so fortunate as to be members of labor unions. The "Social
Democrats" appeal, however, for the votes of the farmers, of "the small
business man," and of "the large business men who are decent employers";
they announce that the rights of corporations will be protected under
their administrations, declare that they who "take the risks of
business" are entitled "to a fair return"; and have convinced many that
they are not for the present anti-capitalistic in their policy, though
they have not as yet succeeded in getting very much capitalistic
support.

For many years, indeed, the struggle between employers and unions has
been less acute in Milwaukee than in many other large cities, while
wages and conditions are on the whole no better. The Milwaukee
Socialists have repeatedly called the attention of employers to this
relative industrial peace and have attributed it to their influence,
much to the disgust of the more militant Socialists, who claim that
strikes are the only indication of a fighting spirit on the part of the
workers. Mr. Berger, for example, has explained "the rare occurrence of
strikes in Milwaukee" as being due largely to the Social-Democrats of
that city who, he says, "have opposed almost every strike that has been
declared here."[154]

Certainly the attitude of the Socialists towards the employers in one of
the largest industries, brewing, has on the whole been exceptionally
friendly, as evidenced among other things by the Socialists' appointment
of one of a leading brewery manager (who was not even a Socialist) as
debt commissioner of the city, and their active campaign for the brewing
interests, including a denunciation of county option, though this
measure has already been indorsed by both of the capitalistic parties
even in the liquor-producing State of Kentucky, as well as elsewhere,
and is favored by very many Socialists, not as a means of advancing
prohibition, but as the fairest present way of settling the controversy.

But even relative peace between capital and labor is not lasting in our
present society and it will scarcely last in Milwaukee. Already there
are signs of what is likely to happen, and the business-men admirers of
Milwaukee Socialism are beginning to drop away. A few more strikes, and
Berger and his associates may be forced to abandon completely their
claim that it is to the interest of employers, with some exceptions, to
elect Socialists to office.

The situation after a recent strike in Milwaukee is thus summed up by
the _New York Volkszeitung_, a great admirer, on the whole, of the
Milwaukee movement:--


"The new measures which are taken for the betterment of the city
transportation system, for the preparation of better residence
conditions and parks for the poorer classes of the people," says
the _Volkszeitung_, "did not much disturb Milwaukee's 'Best
Society.' Rather the opposite. For all these things did not at the
bottom harm their interests, but were, on the contrary, quite to
their taste, in so far as they rather increased than injured the
pleasure of their own lives.

"But at last what had to happen, did happen. The moment a great
conflict between capital and labor broke out in the great community
of Milwaukee, the caliber of the city administration was bound to
show itself....

"The prohibition which Mayor Seidel issued to the police, not to
interfere for either side, his grounds and those of the city
council's presiding officer, Comrade Melms, their instructions to
the striking 'garment workers' how they should conduct the strike
in order to win a victory, the admonition that they might safely
call a scab a scab without official interference--all this is of
decisive importance, not only for its momentary effect on the
Milwaukee strike, but especially for the Socialist propaganda, for
the demonstration of the tremendous advantage the working people
can get even at the present moment by the election of Socialist
candidates....

"And now it is all over with the half well-disposed attitude that
had been assumed towards our comrades in the city administration.
With burning words the capitalistic and commercial authorities
protest against these official expressions, as being likely to
disturb 'law and order' and as having the object of stirring up the
class struggle and of undermining respect for the law.

"That came about which must come about, if our Milwaukee comrades
did their duty. And they have done it, at the right moment, and
without hesitation. And this must never be forgotten. But the real
battle between them and their capitalist opponent _begins now for
the first time_."


Here is the keynote of the situation. Only as more and more serious
strikes occur will the Milwaukee movement be forced to emphasize its
labor unionism rather than its reforms. It will then, in all
probability, be forced to take up an aggressive labor-union attitude
like that of the non-Socialist Labor Party in San Francisco. One action
at least of Mayor McCarthy in the latter city was decidedly more
threatening to the local employing interests than any taken in
Milwaukee, which after all had met the approval of one of the
capitalistic papers (_i.e._ the _Free Press_). The Bulletin of the
United Garment Workers, though grateful for the attitude of the mayor in
their Milwaukee strike, uses language just as laudatory concerning this
action of the anti-Socialist Labor mayor of San Francisco.[155]

The "reformist" Socialists lay much stress upon their loyalty to
existing labor unions. Some even favor the creation of a non-Socialist
Labor Party, more or less like those of San Francisco or Australia or
Great Britain. Indeed, the reformists have often acknowledged their
close kinship with the semi-Socialist wing of the British Labour Party,
and this relationship is recognized by the latter. All Socialists will
agree that even the reformists, as a rule, represent the interests of
the labor-union movement better than other parties; but the Socialist
Party is vastly more than a mere reformist trade-union party, and most
Socialists feel that to reduce it to this rôle would be to deprive it of
the larger part of its power even to help the unions.

In the statement of Mr. Debs already quoted in part in this chapter, he
also expresses the opposition of the Socialist majority to converting
the organization into a mere trade-union Party:--


"There is a disposition on the part of some to join hands with
reactionary trade unionists in local emergencies and in certain
temporary situations to effect some specific purpose, which may or
may not be in harmony with our revolutionary program. No possible
good can come of any kind of a political alliance, expressed or
implied, with trade unions or the leaders of trade unions who are
opposed to Socialism and only turn to it for use in some extremity,
the fruit of their own reactionary policy.

"Of course we want the support of trade unionists, but only of
those who believe in Socialism and are ready to vote and work with
us for the overthrow of capitalism."


It would seem from the expressions of Milwaukee Socialists that they, in
direct opposition to the policy of Mr. Debs, are working by opportunist
methods towards a trade union party, and that form of collectivism
advocated by the Labor Parties of Great Britain and Australia. But they
have been in power now in Milwaukee for nearly two years and have had a
strong contingent in the Wisconsin legislature, while their
representative in Congress has had time to define his attitude in a
series of bills and resolutions. We are in a position, then, to judge
their policy not by their words alone, but also by their acts.

Let us first examine their municipal policy. This assumes special
importance since the installation of Socialist officials in Berkeley
(California), Butte (Montana), Flint (Michigan), several smaller towns
in Kansas, Illinois, and other States, as a result of the elections of
April, 1911. To these victories have recently been added others (in
November, 1911) in Schenectady (New York), Lima and Lorain (Ohio),
Newcastle (Pennsylvania), besides very large votes or the election of
minor officials in many places in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Kansas, Illinois,
Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington, Utah, California,
and other States.

While the officials elected received in nearly every case only a
plurality (this is true also of most of those elected in Milwaukee), and
local or temporary issues existed in many instances, which caused the
Socialist Party to be used largely for purposes of protest, a part of
the vote was undoubtedly cast for a type of municipal reform somewhat
more radical than other parties have, as a rule, been ready to offer in
this country; up to the present time, at least, a considerable part of
the vote is undoubtedly to be accredited to convinced Socialists.

Milwaukee being as yet the only important example of an important
American municipality that has rested in Socialist hands for any
considerable period, I shall confine myself largely to the discussion of
the movement in that city. Some of those already in office in other
places have, moreover, taken the Milwaukee policy as their model and
announced their intention to follow it. Mayor Seidel's statement after a
year in office, and the explanations of the Rev. Carl Thompson (the city
clerk) made about the same time, cover the essential points for the
present discussion.

Both the statement of the mayor and that of the city clerk are concerned
with matters that interest primarily the business man and taxpayer. Mr.
Thompson disclaims that there is anything essentially new even in the
Socialists' plans, to say nothing of their performances.



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