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He said that this was due in part to
the character of the German movement, as shaped by the circumstances of
the past, and partly to the fact that the Reichstag was powerless in the
German government, and claimed that they would have been only too glad
to follow the French reformists' course, if they could have done so,
just as their only reason for not using revolutionary measures was also
that the German government was too strong for them.

"Then," concluded Jaurès, "you do not know which road you will choose.
There was expected from you after this great victory a battle cry, a
program of action, a policy. You have explored, you have spied around,
watched events; the public's state of mind was not ripe. And then before
your own working class and before the international working class, you
masked the feebleness of your activity by taking refuge in extreme
theoretical formulas which your eminent comrade, Kautsky, will furnish
to you until the life goes out of him." As time has not yet tested
Jaurès's accusations, they cannot yet be finally disproved or proved.
The replies of his revolutionary opponents at the Congress were chiefly
counter-accusations. But the later development of the German movement
gives, as I shall show, strong reasons why Jaurès's criticisms should be
accepted as being true only of the reformist minority of the German

Jaurès referred to the British unionists as an example of the success of
reformist tactics. Bebel was able to dispose of this argument. "The
capitalists of England are the most able in the world," he said. "If
next year at the general elections English Liberalism is victorious, it
will again make one of you, perhaps John Burns, an Under Secretary of
State, not to take an advance towards Socialism, but to be able to say
to the working people that it gives them voluntarily what has been
refused after a struggle on the Continent, in order to keep the votes of
the workers." (This is just what happened.)

"Socialism," he concluded, "cannot accept a share of power; it is
obliged to wait for all of the power."

The Amsterdam resolution, passed by a large majority after this debate,
was almost identical with that which had been adopted by a vote of 288
to 11 at the German Congress at Dresden in the previous year (1903),
and although the Austrian delegates and others, nearly half the total,
had expressed a preference for a substitute of a more moderate
character, they did not hesitate, when this motion was defeated, to
indorse the more radical one that was finally adopted. And in 1909, when
this Dresden (or Amsterdam) resolution came up for discussion at the
German Congress of Leipzig, it was unanimously reaffirmed. Those
opposing it did not dare to dispute it at all in principle, but merely
expressed the mental reservation that it was qualified by another
resolution adopted at a recent Congress which had declared that the
party should be absolutely free to decide the question of _temporary_
political alliances in _elections_. As such electoral combinations,
valid only for the _second ballot_, and lapsing immediately after the
elections, had always been common, the Dresden resolution was never
meant by the majority of those voting for it to forbid them. Its purpose
was only to insist that the object of the Socialists must always be
social revolution and not reform, since, to use its own words, supreme
political power "cannot be obtained step by step."

"The Congress condemns most emphatically," the Dresden resolution
declared, "the revisionist attempt to alter our hitherto victorious
policy, a policy based upon the class struggle; just as in the past _we
shall go on achieving power by conquering our enemies, not by
compromising with the existing order of things_." (My italics.) In a
recent letter widely quoted by the continental press, August Bebel
contended that in Germany at least the Social Democracy and the other
political parties have grown farther and farther apart during the last
fifty years. While Bebel claims that Socialists support every form of
progress, he insists that nevertheless they remain fundamentally opposed
even to the Liberal parties, for the reason, as he explained at the Jena
Congress (1905), that "_an opposition party can, on the whole, have no
decisive influence until it gains control of the government_," that
until the Socialists themselves have a majority, governments could be
controlled only by an alliance with non-Socialist parties. "If you (the
Socialist Party) want to have that kind of an influence," said Bebel,
"then stick your program in your pocket, leave the standpoint of your
principles, concern yourself only with purely practical things, and you
will be cordially welcome as allies." (Italics mine.) At the Nuremburg
Congress (1908) he said: "We shall reach our goal, not through little
concessions, through creeping on the ground, and coming down to the
masses in this way, but by raising the masses up to us, by inspiring
them with our great aims."

Another question arose in the German Party which at the bottom involved
the same principles. It had been settled that Socialists could not
accept a share in any non-Socialist administration, no matter how
progressive it might be. But if a social reform government is ready to
grant one or more measures much desired by Socialists, shall the latter
vote the new taxes necessary for these measures, thus affording new
resources to a hostile government, and shall it further support the
annual budget of the administration, thus extending the powers of the
capitalist party that happens to be in power? The Socialist policy, it
is acknowledged, has hitherto been to vote for these individual reforms,
but never to prolong the life of an existing non-Socialist government.
The fundamental question, says Kautsky, _is to whom is the budget
granted_, and not _what measures are proposed_. "To grant the budget,"
he says, "means to give the government the right to raise the taxes
provided for; it means to put into the hands of the governor the control
of hundreds of millions of money, as well as hundreds of thousands of
people, laborers and officeholders, who are paid out of these millions."
That is to say, the Socialist Party, according to the reasoning of
Kautsky and the overwhelming majority of Socialists, wherever it has
become a national factor of the first importance, must remain an
opposition party--until the main purpose for which it exists has been
accomplished; namely, the capture of the government, and for this
purpose it must make every effort to starve out one administration after
another by refusing supplies. At the National Congress at Nuremburg in
1908 it was decided by a two-thirds vote that in no one of the
confederated governments of Germany would Socialists be allowed to vote
for any government other than that of their own party, no matter how
radical it might be, unless under altogether extraordinary
circumstances, such as are not likely to occur. Some of the delegates of
South Germany said that they would not be bound by this decision, but
later a number expressed their willingness to accede to it, while others
of them were forced to do so by the local congresses of their own party.

This question was brought up at the German Congress at Leipzig in 1909.
The parties in possession of the government had proposed a graduated
inheritance tax, which nearly all Socialists approve. Moreover, a _part_
of the taxes of the year would be used for social reforms. Favoring as
they did the change in the method of taxation, would the Socialist
members of the Reichstag be justified in voting for the proposed tax at
the third reading? All agreed that it was well to express their friendly
attitude to this form of tax at the earlier readings, but approval at
the third reading might have the effect of finally turning over a new
sum of money to an unfriendly government; although it would be collected
from the wealthier classes alone, it might be expended largely for
anti-democratic purposes. The revolutionaries, with whom stood the
chairman of the convention, the late Paul Singer, were against voting
for the tax on the third reading, for they argued that if the Socialists
granted an increased income to a hostile government merely because they
were pleased with the form of the taxes proposed, it might become
possible in the future for capitalist governments to secure Socialist
financial support in raising the money for any kind of reactionary
measures merely by proving that they were not obtaining the means for
carrying them out from the working people.

Half of the members of the Parliamentary group, on the other hand,
decided in favor of voting for the tax on the third reading, the
reformists largely on the ground that it would furnish the means for
social reforms, Bebel and others, however, on the entirely different
ground that if the upper classes had to pay the bill for imperialism and
militarism, the increase of expenditures on armaments would not long

The "radical" Socialists represented by Ledebour proposed that not one
penny should be granted the Empire except in return for true
constitutional government by the Kaiser. Certainly this was not asking
too much, even though it would constitute a political revolution, for
the majority of the whole Reichstag afterwards adopted a resolution
proposed by Ledebour demanding such guarantees. In other words, he would
make all other questions second to that of political power--no economic
reform whatever being a sufficient price to compensate for turning aside
from the effort to obtain democratic government, _i.e._ more power.

Bebel, however, said he would have voted for the bill if he had been
present, though he made it clear both at this and at the succeeding
congress that he had no intention of affording the least support to a
capitalistic administration (see below).

It appears that Bebel's position on this matter is really the more
radical. Ledebour and Singer seemed to feel that the further
democratization of the government depends on Socialist pressure.

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Keywords: elections, cannot, finally, should, another, governments, non-socialist, granted, reforms, budget
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