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The first stage is one where all
party members are agreed, since it is then merely a question of the
propaganda of general and revolutionary _ideas_. The second stage (the
present one) arises when the party has already obtained a modest measure
of power which can be either _cashed in_ and utilized for immediate and
material gains or saved up and held for obtaining more power, or for
both objects in degrees varying according as one or the other is
considered more important. Bauer shows that these two policies of
accumulating power and of spending it arise necessarily out of the
social composition of the party at its present stage and the general
social environment in which it finds itself.

At the third stage, he says, when the proletariat has come to form the
overwhelming majority of the population, their campaign for the conquest
of political power appears to the possessing classes for the first time
as a threatening danger. The capitalist parties then unite closely
together against the Social Democracy; what once separated them now
appears small in comparison to the danger which threatens their profits,
their rents, and their monopolistic incomes. So there arises again at
this higher stage of capitalist domination, as was the case at its
beginning, "a Social Democracy in battle _against all the possessing
classes, against the whole power of the organized state_." (Italics
mine.)[186] When the third stage arrives, these reformists who do not
intend to leave the revolutionary movement, begin to get ready to follow
it. Already the most prominent reformist Socialists outside of England
_claim_ that their position is revolutionary. This is true of the
best-known German reformist, Bernstein; it is true of Jaurès; and it is
also true of Berger in this country. Bernstein argues in his book,
"Evolutionary Socialism," that constitutional legislation is best
adapted to positive social-political work, "to the creation of permanent
economic arrangements." But he also says that "the revolutionary way
does quicker work as far as it deals with removal of obstacles which a
privileged minority places in the path of social progress." As for
choosing between the revolutionary and non-revolutionary methods, he
admits that revolutionary tactics can be abandoned only when the
non-propertied majority of a nation has become firmly established in
power; that is, when political democracy is so deeply rooted and
advanced that it can be applied successfully to questions of property;
"when a nation has attained a position where the rights of the
propertied minority have ceased to be a serious obstacle of social
progress." Certainly no nation could claim to be in such a position
to-day, unless it were, possibly, Australia, though there the empire of
unoccupied land gives to every citizen possibilities at least of
acquiring property, and relieves the pressure of the class struggle
until the country is settled. This view of Bernstein's, let it be noted,
is a far different one from that prevailing in England--as expressed,
for example, in an organ of the Independent Labour Party, where it is
said that "fortunately 'revolution' in this country has ceased to be
anything more than an affected phrase." Certainly there are few modern
countries where the "propertied minority," of which Bernstein speaks,
constitutes a more serious obstacle to progress than it does in England.

Jaurès's position is quite similar to that of Bernstein. He declared in
a recent French Congress that he was both a revolutionist and a
reformer. He indorses the idea of the general strike, but urges that it
should not be used until the work of education and propaganda has made
the time ready, "until a very large and strong organization is ready to
back up the strikers," and until a large section of public opinion is
prepared to recognize the legitimacy of their object. He says he expects
the time to arrive when "the reforms in the interest of the whole
working class which have been promised will have been systematically
refused," and then "the general strike will be the only resource left";
and finally cries, "Never in the name of the working people will we give
up the right of insurrection." This position is verbally correct from
the Socialist standpoint, and it shows the power of the revolutionary
idea in France, when even Jaurès is forced to respect it. But any
capitalist politician might safely use the same expressions--so long, at
least, as revolution is still far away.

So also Mr. Berger has written in the _Social Democratic Herald_ of
Milwaukee that "all the ballot can do is to strengthen the power of
resistance of the laboring people."


"We whom the western ultra class-conscious proletarians ... are
wont to call 'opportunists,'" writes Berger, "we know right well
that the social question can no more be solved by street riots and
insurrections than by bombs and dynamite.

"Yet, by the ballot _alone_, it will never be solved.

"Up to this time men have always solved great questions by _blood_
and _iron_." Berger says he is not given to reciting revolutionary
phrases, but asserts that the plutocrats are taking the country in
the direction of "a violent and bloody revolution."

"Therefore," he says, "each of the 500,000 Socialist voters, and of
the two million workingmen who instinctively incline our way,
should, besides doing much reading and still more thinking, also
have a good rifle and the necessary rounds of ammunition in his
home and be prepared to back up his ballot with his bullets if
necessary.... Now, I deny that dealing with a blind and greedy
plutocratic class as we are dealing in this country, the outcome
can ever be peaceable, or that any reasonable change can ever be
brought about by the ballot in the end.

"I predict that a large part of the capitalist class will be wiped
out for much smaller things ... most of the plutocratic class,
together with the politicians, will have to disappear as completely
as the feudal lords and their retinue disappeared during the French
revolution.

"That cannot be done by the ballot, or _only_ by the ballot.

"The ballot cannot count for much in a pinch."[187] (My italics.)


And in another number Mr. Berger writes:--


"As long as we are in the minority we, of course, have _no right to
force_ our opinion _upon an unwilling majority_.... Yet we do not
deny that _after we have convinced the majority of the people_, we
are going to use force if the minority should hesitate."[188] (My
italics.)


Few will question the revolutionary nature of this language. But such
expressions have always been common at critical moments, even among
non-Socialists. We have only to recall the "bloody-bridles" speech of a
former populist governor of Colorado, or the advice of the _New York
Evening Journal_ that every citizen ought to provide against future
contingencies by keeping a rifle in his home. Revolutionary language has
no necessary relation to Socialism.

Mr. Berger, moreover, has also used the threat of revolution, not as a
progressive but as a reactionary force, not in the sense of Marx, who
believed that a revolution, when the times were ripe and the Socialists
ready, would bring incalculably more good than evil, but in the sense of
the capitalists, for whom it is the most terrible of all possibilities.
It is common for conservative statesmen to use precisely the same threat
to secure necessary capitalist reforms.

"Some day there will be a volcanic eruption," said Berger in his first
speech in Congress; "a fearful retribution will be enacted on the
capitalist class as a class, and the innocent will suffer with the
guilty. Such a revolution would throw humanity back into semi-barbarism
and cause even a temporary retrogression of civilization."

Such is the language used against revolutions by conservatives or
reactionaries. Never has it been so applied by a Marx or an Engels, a
Liebknecht, a Kautsky or a Bebel. Without underestimating the enormous
cost of revolutions, the most eminent Socialists reckon them as nothing
compared with the probable gains, or the far greater costs of continuing
present conditions. The assertion of manhood that is involved in every
great revolution from below in itself implies, in the Socialist view,
not retrogression, but a stupendous advance; and any reversion to
semi-barbarism that may take place in the course of the revolution is
likely, in their opinion, to be far more than compensated in other
directions, even during the revolutionary period (to say nothing of
ultimate results).

Revolutionary phrases and scares are of course abhorred by capitalistic
parties, and considered dangerous, unless there is some very strong
occasion for reverting to their use. But such occasions are becoming
more and more frequent. Conservative capitalists are more and more
grateful for any outbreak that alarms or burdens the neutral classes and
serves as a useful pretext for that repression or reaction which their
interests require. Progressive capitalists, on the other hand, use the
very same disturbances to urge reforms they desire, on the ground that
such measures are necessary to avoid "revolution." The disturbance may
be as far as possible from revolutionary at bottom. It is only necessary
that it should be sufficiently novel and disagreeable to attract
attention and cause impatience and irritation among those who have to
pay for it. Like the British strikes of 1911, it may not cost the
capitalist class as a whole one-hundredth part of one per cent of its
income. And it might be possible to repress, within a short time and at
no greater expense, a movement many times more menacing. Provided it
serves to put the supporters of capitalism on their feet, whatever they
do as a result, whether in the way of repression or of reform, will be
but to carry out long-cherished plans for advancing their own interests,
plans that would have been the same even though there had been no shadow
of a "revolutionary" movement on the horizon.



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Keywords: present, classes, reforms, progress, nation, democracy, movement, capitalists, italics, opinion
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