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If England had the German Reichstag
suffrage law, 9,600,000 would be enfranchised, instead of
7,300,000, _i.e._ 2,300,000 more."[171]


Kautsky's view that capitalists cannot bend a more or less democratic
government to their purposes and therefore will not institute such a
government, unless forced to do so, is undoubtedly based on German
conditions. He contends that the hope of the German bourgeois lies not
in democracy nor even in the Reichstag, but in the strength of Prussia,
which spells Absolutism and Militarism. He admits in one passage that
conditions may be different in the United States, England, and British
colonies, and under certain circumstances in France, but for the peoples
of eastern Europe advanced measures of democracy such as direct
legislation belong to "the future State," while no reforms of importance
to the workers are to be secured to-day except through the menace of
revolution. It would be perfectly consistent with this, doubtlessly
correct, view of present German conditions, if Kautsky said that after
Germany has overthrown Absolutism and Militarism, progressive capitalism
may be expected to conquer reactionary capitalism in Germany as
elsewhere, and to use direct legislation and other democratic measures
for the purpose of increasing profits, with certain secondary,
incidental and lesser (but by no means unimportant) benefits to labor.
But this he refuses to do. He readily admits that Germany is backward
politically, but as she is advanced economically he apparently allows
his view of other countries to-day and of the Germany of the future to
be guided by the fact that the large capitalists now in control in that
country (with military and landlord aid) oppose even that degree of
democracy and those labor reforms which, as I have shown, would result
in an increased product for the capitalist class as a whole (though not
of all capitalists). For he pictures the reactionary capitalists in
continuous control in the future both in Germany and other countries,
and the smaller capitalists as important between these and the masses of
wage earners. The example of other countries (equally developed
economically and more advanced than Germany politically) suggests, on
the contrary, a growing unity of large and small capital through the
action of the state--and as a result the more or less progressive policy
I have outlined. (See Part I.)

But Kautsky's view is that of a very large number of Socialists,
especially in Germany and neighboring countries, is having an enormous
influence, and deserves careful consideration. The proletariat, he says,
is not afraid of the most extreme revolutionary efforts and sacrifices
to win equal suffrage where, as in Germany, it is withheld. "And every
attempt to take away or limit the German laborer's right of voting for
the Reichstag would call forth the danger of a fearful catastrophe to
the Empire."[172] It is here and elsewhere suggested, on the basis of
German experience, that this struggle over the ballot is a struggle
between Capital and Labor. The German Reichstag suffrage was made equal
by Bismarck in 1870 for purely capitalistic reasons, and the number of
voters in England was doubled as late as 1884, and the suffrage is now
to be made universal through similar motives. Yet the present domination
of the German Liberals and those of neighboring countries by a
reactionary bureaucratic, military, and landlord class, persuades
Kautsky that genuine capitalistic Liberalism everywhere is at an end.

Yet in 1910 the German Radicals succeeded, after many years of vain
effort, in forming out of their three parties a united organization, the
Progressive Peoples Party (_Fortschrittliche Volkspartei_). The program
adopted included almost every progressive reform, and, acting in
accordance with its principles, this Party quite as frequently
co÷perates with the Socialists on its left as with the National Liberals
immediately on its right. The whole recent history of the more advanced
countries, including even Italy, would indicate that the small
capitalist element, which largely composes this party, will obtain the
balance of power and either through the new party or through the
Socialist "reformists" (the latter either in or out of the parent
organization)--or through both together--will before many years bring
about the extension of the suffrage in Prussia (though not its
equalization), the equalization of the Reichstag electoral districts,
and the reduction of the tariff that supports the agrarian landlords and
large capitalists, put a halt to some of the excesses of military
extravagance (though not to militarism), institute a government
responsible to the Reichstag, provide government employment for the
unemployed, and later take up the other industrial and labor reforms of
capitalist collectivism as inaugurated in other countries, together with
a large part also of the radical democratic program. There is no reason
for supposing that the evolution of capitalism is or will be basically
different in Germany from that of other countries. (See Chapter VII.)

Though he regards Socialism as the sole impelling force for reforms of
benefit to labor, Kautsky definitely acknowledges that no reforms that
are immediately practicable can be regarded as the _exclusive_ property
of the Socialist Party:--


"But this is certain," he says, "there is scarcely a single
practical demand for present-day legislation, that is peculiar to
any particular party. Even the Social Democracy scarcely shows one
such demand. That through which it differentiates itself from
other parties is the totality of its practical demands and the
goals towards which it points. The eight-hour law, for example, is
no revolutionary demand....

"What holds together political parties, especially when like the
Social Democrats they have great historic tasks to accomplish, are
their final goals; not their momentary demands, not their views as
to the attitude to be assumed on all the separate questions that
come before the party.

"Differences of opinion are always present within the Party and
sometimes reach a threatening height. But they will be the less
likely to break up the Party, the livelier the consciousness in its
members of the great goals towards which they strive in common, the
more powerful the enthusiasm for these goals, so that demands and
interests of the moment are behind them in importance."[173]


The only way to differentiate the Socialists from other parties, the
only thing Socialists have in common with one another is, according to
this view, not agreement as to practical action, but certain ideals or
goals. Socialists may want the same things as non-Socialists, and reject
the things desired by other Socialists, and their actions may follow
their desires, but all is well, and harmony may reign as long as their
hearts and minds are filled with a Socialist ideal. But if a goal thus
has no _necessary_ connection with immediate problems or actions, is it
necessarily anything more than a sentiment or an abstraction?

Kautsky's toleration of reform activities thus has an opposite origin to
that of the "reformist" Socialists. _He_ tolerates concentration on
capitalistic measures by factions within the Socialist Party, on the
ground that such measures are altogether of secondary importance; _they_
insist on these reforms as the most valuable activities Socialists can
undertake at the present time.

Kautsky and his associates will often tolerate activities that serve
only to weaken the movement, provided verbal recognition is given to the
Socialist ideal. This has led to profound contradictions in the German
movement. At the Leipzig Congress, for example (1909), the reformists
voted unanimously for the reaffirmation of the revolutionary "Dresden
resolution" of 1903, with the explanation that they regarded it in the
very opposite sense from what its words plainly stated. They had fought
this resolution at the time it was passed, and condemned it since, and
had continued the actions against which it was directed. But their vote
in favor of it and explanation that they refused to give it any
practical bearing had to be accepted at Leipzig without a murmur. Such
is the result of preaching loyalty to phrases, goals, or ideals rather
than in action. The reformists can often, though not always, escape
responsibility for their acts by claiming loyalty to the goal--often, no
doubt, in all sincerity; for goals, ideals, doctrines, and sentiments,
like the human conscience, are generally highly flexible and subtle
things.

Kautsky's policy of ideal revolutionism, combined with practical
toleration of activities given over exclusively to non-Socialist reform,
which is so widespread in the German movement under the form of a too
rigid separation between theory on the one hand and tactics on the
other, agrees at another point with the policy of the reformists. The
latter, as I have mentioned, seek to justify their absorption in reforms
that the capitalists also favor, by claiming that they determine their
attitude to a reform by its relation to a larger program, whereas the
capitalists do not. Kautsky similarly differentiates the Socialists by
the totality of their demands; the individual reform, being, as he
concedes, usually if not always supported by other parties also. Yet it
is difficult to see how a program composed wholly of non-Socialist
elements could in any combination become distinctly Socialist. A
Socialist program of _immediate_ demands may be peculiar to some
Socialist political group at a given moment, but usually it contains no
features that would prevent a purely capitalist party taking it up
spontaneously, in the interest of capitalism.

What is it that drives Kautsky into the position that I have described?
To this question we can find a definite answer, and it leads us into the
center of the seeming mysteries of Socialist policy. The preservation of
the Socialist Party organization, with its heterogeneous constituent
elements, is held to be all-important; and this party organization
cannot be kept intact, and _all_ its present supporters retained,
without a program of practical reforms that may be secured with a little
effort from capitalist governments.



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Keywords: reactionary, between, revolutionary, capitalistic, movement, action, example, military, ideals, england
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