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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. In order to claim this program as
distinctively theirs, Socialists must differentiate it in some way from
other reform programs. As there is no practical difference, they must
insist that the ideal is not the same, that Socialists are using the
reforms for different purposes, that only part of their program is like
that of any one capitalist party, while in other parts it resembles
those of other capitalist parties, etc.

That "party necessity" can drive even radical and influential Socialists
into such a position may seem incredible. But when it is understood that
loyalty to party also conflicts with loyalty to principle in many cases
even to the point of driving many otherwise revolutionary Socialists to
the very opposite extreme, _i.e._ to fighting _against_ progressive
capitalist reforms purely for party reasons, this willingness to allow
the Socialist organization to claim such reforms as in some sense its
own, will appear as the lesser deviation from principle.

For example, Kautsky opposes direct legislation--with the proviso that
_perhaps_ it may have _a certain value_ in English-speaking countries
and _under some circumstances_ in France. His arguments in spite of this
proviso are directed almost wholly against it, on the ground that direct
legislation would take many reforms out of the hands of the Party, would
cause them to be discussed independently of one another instead of bound
together as if they were inseparable parts of a program and would weaken
the Party in direct proportion as its use was extended.[174]

Yet Kautsky himself contends, in the same work in which this passage
occurs, that Socialists favor all measures of democracy, even when the
movement at first loses by their introduction. In a word he holds that
the function of promoting immediately practicable political reforms is
so important to the Party, and the Party with its present organization,
membership and activities, is so important to the movement, that even
the most fundamental principle may, on occasion, be disregarded.
Democracy is admitted to be a principle so inviolable that it is to be
upheld generally even when the Party temporarily loses by it. Yet
because direct legislation might rob the Socialists of all opportunity
for claiming the credit for non-Socialist reforms, because it would put
to a direct vote a program composed wholly of elements held in common
with other parties, and differing only in its combination of these
elements, because the Party tactics would have to be completely
transformed and the Party temporarily weakened by being forced to limit
itself entirely to revolutionary efforts, Kautsky turns against this
keystone of democratic reform.

"There is indeed no legislation without compromises," he writes; "the
great masses who are not experienced political leaders, must be much
easier confused and misled than the political leaders. If compromise in
voting on bills were really corrupting, then it would work much more
harm through direct popular legislation than through legislation by
Parliament, ... for that would mean nothing less than to drive the cause
of corruption from Parliament, out among the people."

"Direct legislation," he continues, "has the tendency to divert
attention from general principles and to concentrate it on concrete
questions."[175] But if the Socialists cannot educate the masses to know
what they want concretely, how much less will they understand general
principles? If they cannot judge such concrete and separate questions,
how will they control Socialist officials who, as it is now, so often
build their programs and decide their tactics for them? There is no
mechanical substitute for self-government within Socialist organizations
or elsewhere. Direct legislation will do much to destroy all artificial
situations and place society on the solid basis of the knowledge or
ignorance, the division or organization, the weakness or strength of
character of the masses. The present situation, however useful for
well-intentioned Socialist "leaders," is even better adapted to the
machinations of capitalist politicians. And because it militates against
the politically powerful small capitalists as well as against the
non-capitalists, it is doomed to an early end.

Kautsky, in a word, actually fears that the present capitalist society
will carry out, one by one, its own reforms. For the same reason that he
denies the ability or willingness of capitalism to make any considerable
improvements in the material conditions of labor, except as compelled by
the superior force (or the fear of the superior force) of Socialism, he
would, if possible, prevent the capitalists from introducing certain
democratic improvements that would facilitate reforms independently of
the Socialist Party. However, the economic and political evolution of
capitalism will doubtless continue to take its course, and through
improved democratic methods all Socialist arguments based on the
impossibility of any large measure of working-class progress under
capitalism, and all efforts to credit what is being done to the advance
of Socialism, will be seen to have been futile. The contention between
Socialists and capitalists will then be reduced to its essential
elements:--

Is progress under capitalism as great as it might be under Socialism?

Is capitalist progress making toward Socialism by improving the position
of the non-capitalists _when compared with that of the capitalists_, or
is it having the opposite effect?

Even the "syndicalists," little interested as they are in reform, seem
to fear, as Kautsky does, that so long as considerable changes for the
better are possible, progress towards Socialism, which in their case
also implies revolution, is impossible. I have shown that Lagardelle
denies that Labor and Capital have any interest whatever in common.
Similarly, a less partisan writer, Paul Louis, author of the leading
work on French unionism ("Histoire du Movement Syndicate en France"),
while he notes every evil of the coming State Socialism, yet ignores its
beneficent features, and bases his whole defense of revolutionary labor
unionism on the proposition that important reforms, even if aided by
friendly Socialist co÷peration or hostile Socialist threats, can no
longer be brought about under capitalism:--


"The Parliamentary method was suited by its principle to the reform
era. Direct action corresponds to the syndicalist era. Nothing is
more simple.

"As long as organized labor believes in the possibility of amending
present society by a series of measures built up one upon the
other, it makes use of the means that the present system offers it.
It proceeds through intervening elected persons. It imagines that
from a theoretical discussion there will arise such ameliorations
that its vassalage will be gradually abolished."


The belief here appears that a steady, continuous, and marked
improvement in the position of the working class would necessarily lead
to its overtaking automatically the rapidly increasing power of
capitalism. If this were so, it would indeed be true, as Louis contends,
that no revolutionary movement could begin, except when all beneficial
labor reforms and other working-class progress had ended.

I shall quote (Part III, Chapter V) a passage where Louis indicates that
syndicalism, like Socialism itself, is directed in the most fundamental
way against all existing governments. He takes the further step of
saying that existing governments can do nothing whatever for the benefit
of labor, and that their _sole_ function is that of repression:--


"The State, which has taken for its mission--and no other could be
conceived--the defense of existing society, could not allow its
power of command to be attacked. The social hierarchy which itself
rests upon the economic subordination of one class to another, will
be maintained only so long as the governmental power shatters every
assault victoriously, represses every initiative, punishes without
mercy all innovators and all factious persons....

"In the new order [syndicalism] there is no room for any
capitalistic attribute, even reduced to its most simple expression.
There is no longer room for a political system for safeguarding
privileges and conquering rebels. If our definition of the State is
accepted, that it is an organ of defense, always more and more
exacting because it is in a society always more and more menaced,
it will be understood that such a State is condemned to disappear
with that society....

"The State crushes the individual, and syndicalism appeals to all
the latent energies of that individual, the State suspects and
throttles organizations, and syndicalism multiplies them against
it.... All institutions created by the State for the defense of the
capitalist system are assailed, undermined by syndicalism."[176]


Here is a view of the State as far opposed as possible to that of
Kautsky, who says truly that it is "a monster economic establishment,
and its influence on the whole economic life of a nation to-day is
already beyond the power of measurement."[177] For Kautsky, the State is
primarily economic and constructive; for Louis it is purely political
and repressive. Yet Kautsky, like Louis, seems to feel that if the State
were capable of carrying out reforms of any importance to the wage
earners, or if it were admitted that it could do so, it would be
impossible to persuade the workers that a revolution is necessary and
feasible. And so both deny that "State Socialism," which they recognize
as an _intervening stage_ between the capitalism of to-day and
Socialism, is destined to give better material conditions, if less
liberty, than the present society.



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Keywords: better, possible, system, nothing, existing, important, itself, democratic, leaders, masses
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