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Berger forgot England when he said that the tariff falls on the poor
man's head, for England has shown that the abolition of the tariff does
not benefit the poor man in the slightest degree. Poverty is far more
widespread there than here. He pointed to the fact that the importation
of goods into the United States was restricted, while that of labor was
not. He forgot that where both are restricted, as in Australia, the
workers are no better off than here.

The arguments employed in Mr. Berger's speech, in so far as they
referred to the tariff, were for the most part not to be distinguished
from those used by the Democrats in behalf of important capitalistic
elements of the population, and hence the welcome with which they were
received by the Democratic Congress and press. The Socialist matter in
the speech relating only indirectly to the tariff was, of course, less
favorably commented upon.

Mr. Berger's second speech before Congress was also significant. It was
in support of governmental old-age pensions, a very radical departure
for the United States and difficult of enactment because of our federal
system--but already, as Mr. Berger said, in force in Great Britain,
France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Since the legislatures in all these countries are controlled by
opponents of Socialism, it is evident that such measures have been
adopted from other than Socialist motives. In fact they have no
necessary relation to Socialism at all, but, on the contrary, have been
widely enacted for capitalistic reasons without regard to the demands or
power of the workers.

Mr. Berger is reported to have said a few days after this speech: "The
idea will in five years have been incorporated into law. Both of the old
parties within that time will have incorporated the theory into their
platforms. Both the old parties to-day are approaching Socialistic
ideas, and appropriating our ideas to save themselves from the coming
overthrow."[163] The idea of governmental old-age pensions, on the
contrary, has always been popular in certain anti-Socialist circles and
is entirely in accord with any intelligent system of purely capitalistic
collectivism. Its common adoption by progressive capitalists would seem
to indicate that they consider it as being either directly or indirectly
conducive to their own interests. It is unnecessary to assume that they
adopt it from fear of Socialism. Few if any capitalists consider the
overthrow of capitalism as imminent, or feel that Socialism is likely
for many years to furnish them with a really acute political problem. A
combination of Republicans and Democrats, for example, with a full vote,
would easily overwhelm Mr. Berger, the sole Socialist Congressman in
his own Congressional district. If present political successes continue,
it will still take years for Socialism to send a score of
representatives to Congress, and when it does do so, they will be as
impotent as ever to overthrow the capitalist order.

For any independent representative without political power or
responsibility to propose radical reforms in advance of the larger
parties is a very simple matter. Statesmen with actual power cannot
afford to take up such reforms until the time is _politically_ ripe for
their practical consideration. When such a measure is passed, for the
individual or group that first proposed it to claim the credit for the
change would be absurd. These reforms, when conditions have suitably
evolved, become the order of the day, and are urged by all or nearly all
the forces of the time. The radical British old-age pension bill, it
will be remembered, was passed almost unanimously, although in the
Parliament that passed it there were only about 40 Socialist or
semi-Socialist representatives out of a total of 670 members.

What, then, could be more fatuous than such a view as the following,
expressed recently by a well-known Socialist:--

"Do you not think that the whole country should be apprised that this
(Berger's Old-age Pension bill) is a Socialist measure, introduced by a
Socialist Representative, and backed by the Socialist Party--before the
Republicans and Democrats realize the advisability of stealing our
thunder. In England the working-class political movement is stagnant
because the Liberal Party has out-generaled the Socialists by
voluntarily enacting great social reforms."[164]

In his anxiety to prepare a bill that capitalist legislators would
indorse and pass in the near future, Mr. Berger aroused great criticism
within the Party. The _New York Volkszeitung_ pointed out that in
limiting the benefit of the law to those who had been naturalized
citizens of the United States for sixteen years, he was requiring a
residence of twenty-one years in this country, a provision which
involved an excessively heavy discrimination against a very large
proportion of our foreign-born workers. Mr. Berger's project, moreover,
demanded that those convicted of felonies should also be excluded.
Socialists, as is well known, have always asserted that the larger part
of crimes and criminals were due to injustices of the existing social
order, for which the "criminals" were in no sense to blame. Mr. Berger's
secretary, Mr. W. J. Ghent, vigorously defended this clause, on the
typical "State Socialist" ground that the future Society would deal
_more severely_ with criminals than the present one.

Mr. Berger's bill was objected to by New York Socialists on the ground
that the old parties could be expected to give a more liberal bill in
the near future, and that it would then be difficult to explain the
narrower Socialist position. Mr. Ghent answered that nowhere had such a
liberal measure been enacted. To this the _Volkszeitung_ remarked that
there is a tremendous difference between a bill that owes its origin to
a capitalist government and one that comes from a Socialist
representative of the working class: "The former sets up a minimum while
the latter must demand the maximum." Finally, the _New York Local_ of
the Socialist Party resolved: "That we request the National Executive
Committee to resolve that Comrade Berger shall, before introducing any
bill, submit it to secure its approval by the National Executive
Committee."

Mr. Berger's maiden speech also summed up excellently the general policy
of Socialist "reformism."

"When the white man is sick or when he dies," he said, "the employer
usually loses nothing." Mr. Berger does not understand that, in modern
countries, _employers as a class_ are seeing that the _laborers as a
class_ are, after all, their chief asset: and are therefore organizing
to care for them through governmental action, as working animals, even
more systematically and infinitely more scientifically than slaves were
ever cared for. He is exhausting his efforts to persuade, or perhaps he
would say to compel, the government to the very action that the
interests of its capitalist masters most strongly demand.

Curiously enough, Mr. Berger expressed the "reformist," the
revolutionary, and the State capitalist principle in this same speech,
without being in the least troubled with the contradictions. He spoke of
industrial crises, irregular employment and unemployment as if they were
permanent features of capitalism:--


"These new inventions, machines, improvements, and labor devices,
displace human labor and steadily increase the army of unemployed,
who, starved and frantic, are ever ready to take the places of
those who have work, thereby still further depressing the labor
market."


The collectivist capitalists have already set themselves aggressively
to work to abolish unemployment, to make employment regular, to connect
the worker that needs a job with the job that needs a worker, and to put
an end to industrial crises, and with every promise of success.

Immediately afterward, Mr. Berger made a correct statement of the
Socialist position:--


"The average of wages, the certainty of employment, the social
privileges, and the independence of the wage-earning and
agricultural population, _when compared with the increase of wealth
and social production_, are steadily and rapidly decreasing."


The Socialist indictment is not that unemployment, irregularity of
employment, or any other social evil is increasing absolutely, or that
it is beyond the reach of capitalist reform; but that _the share of the
constantly increasing total of wealth and prosperity that goes to the
laborers is constantly growing less_.

A few minutes later in the same speech, Mr. Berger indorsed pure "State
Socialism." Legislation, he said, that does not tend to _an increased
measure of control on the part of society as a whole_ is not in line
with the trend of economic evolution and cannot last. This formulates
capitalistic collectivism with absolute distinctness. What it demands is
not a new order, but more order. What it opposes is not so much the rule
of capitalists, as the disorder of capitalism--which capitalists
themselves are effectively remedying. It is not only our present
government that is capitalistic but our present society, also. Increased
control over industry, over legislation and government, on the part of
the present society _as a whole_, would be but a step toward the
achievement of _State capitalism_. The purpose of Socialism is to
overcome and eliminate the power of capitalism whether in society or in
government, and not to establish it more firmly. Increased control by
society as a whole, far from being a Socialist principle, is not
necessarily even radical or progressive. In fact _the most far-seeing
conservatives_ to-day demand it, for "_control by society as a whole_"
means, for the present, _control by society_ as it is.

Finally, in reply to questions asked on the floor of Congress after this
same speech, Mr. Berger said: "Any interference by the government with
the rights of private property is Socialistic in tendency," that is,
that every step in collectivism is a step in Socialism. Yet this demand
for the restriction of the rights of private property by a conservative
government is the identical principle advocated by progressives who will
have nothing to do with Socialism.



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Keywords: representative, unemployment, states, england, without, themselves, overthrow, collectivism, criminals, increased
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