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The
more revolutionary view is that capitalism in Germany, with the
irresponsible Kaiser, the unequal Reichstag election districts, the
anti-democratic suffrage law and constitution in Prussia, is
impregnable--but that the progressive capitalists may themselves force
the reactionaries to take certain steps toward democracy in order to
check absolutism, bureaucracy, church influence, agrarian legislation,
and certain excesses of militarism. (See the previous chapter.) The
position of the "radicals" was that capitalism was so profoundly
reactionary that even the shifting of the burdens of taxation for
military purposes to capitalist shoulders should not check it. Bebel's
view was more revolutionary. For even conceding to capitalism the
possibility of checking armaments and ending wars, and of establishing
semidemocratic governments on the French or English models, he finds the
remainder of the indictment against it quite sufficient to justify the
most revolutionary policy.

However, the main question was not really involved at this Congress. A
government might be supported on this tax question and the support be
withdrawn later when it came to a critical vote on the budget as a
whole, or on some other favorable occasion.

It was only at the Congress at Magdeburg, in 1910, that the latter
question was finally disposed of. The Magdeburg Congress not only
reaffirmed the revolutionary policy previously decided upon by the
German and International Congresses already mentioned, but it also
showed that the revolutionary majority, stronger and more determined
than ever, was ready and able to carry out its intention of forcing the
reformist minority to follow the revolutionary course. This congress,
besides more accurately defining the view of the revolutionary majority,
made clearer than ever the profound differences of opinion in the
Socialist camp. The subject under discussion was: Can a Socialist party
support a relatively progressive capitalist government by voting for the
budget when no fatal danger threatens the party's existence, such as
some _coup d'état_? Seventeen of the twenty Socialist members of the
Legislature of Baden, without any such excuse, had supported a more or
less progressive government and kept it in power, the very action that
had been so often forbidden.

The importance of this act of revolt lay in the fact that the government
the Socialists had supported, however progressive it might be, was
frankly anti-Socialist. On several occasions the Prime Minister, Herr
von Bodman, has made declarations of the most hostile character, as, for
instance, that no employee of the government could be a Social-Democrat,
and that the local officials should make reports of the personnel of the
army recruits "so that those of Social-Democratic leanings could be
properly attended to." After one of these declarations, even the
Socialist members of the legislature who had previously planned to vote
for the government, were repelled, and decided that was impossible to
carry out their intentions. The Prime Minister thereupon made a
conciliatory speech for the purpose of once more obtaining this vote.
But even this speech was by no means free from the most marked hostility
to Socialism. "To portray the Social-Democracy as a mere disease is not
correct," said he; "it is to be cast aside in so far as it fights the
monarchy and the political order. But, on the other hand, it is a
tremendous movement for the uplift of the fourth estate, and therefore
it deserves recognition."

It will be seen that the Prime Minister withdrew nothing of his previous
accusations. But the Baden Social-Democrats finally decided that, if
they did not support him, some important reforms would be lost,
especially a proposed improvement of the suffrage for town and township
officials. This was not a very radical advance, for even the
_Frankfurter Zeitung_, a strongly anti-Socialist organ, wrote that "from
the standpoint of consistent Liberalism the bill left so many
aspirations and so many just demands unfulfilled that even the parties
of the left, not to speak of the Social-Democrats, would be justified in
declining to pass the measure."

Indeed the South German reformists do not really pretend that it is any
one particular reform that justifies laying aside or temporarily
subordinating the fight against capitalist government. At the Nuremburg
Congress in 1908 the ground given for an act of this kind was that if
Socialists did not vote for that budget particularly, a large number of
the officials and workingmen employed by the government would fail to
receive the raise of wages or salary that it offered. Herr Frank,
spokesman of the Baden Party, now defended the capitalist government of
Baden and the Socialist action in supporting it, on the general ground
that _advantages could thus be secured for the working classes_. Of
course, this brings up immediately the question: if moderate material
advantages are all the working people are striving for, why cannot some
other party which has more _power_ than the Socialists give still more
of these advantages? Indeed, the fact that all these reforms were
supported by capitalist parties and were allowed to pass by a frankly
capitalistic government (progressive, no doubt, but anti-Socialist),
gives this government and these parties a superior claim to the credit
of having brought the reforms about.

What were "the advantages for the struggle of the working class" that
Frank and his associates could obtain by voting for the Baden Budget of
1910--besides the extension of the suffrage? First importance was placed
upon school reforms. Several religious normal schools were abolished;
women were permitted to serve on municipal committees for school affairs
and charities; the wages of teachers were somewhat increased; school
girls were given an extra year; physicians were introduced into the
schools; and a law was passed by which, for the first time, children
were no longer forced to take religious instruction against the will of
their parents. Social-Democrats in the legislature were allowed for the
first time to write the reports for important committees, such as those
on the schools, factory inspection, and town or township taxation. Aside
from these considerable improvements in the schools and in the election
law, the only advantage of importance was a decrease of the income tax
for those who earn less than 1400 marks ($350). One might have expected
that a government which claims to be progressive, to say nothing of
being radical or Socialistic, would altogether have exempted from
taxation incomes as small as $350--modest even for Germany. Frank
mentions also that 100,000 marks ($20,000) was appropriated for
insurance against unemployment, but this sum is trifling for a State the
size of Baden.

It was not denied by the radical Socialists that such measures are
desirable, but they did not feel that it was worth while, on that
account, to lay aside their main business, that of building up a
movement to overthrow capitalist government. As I have shown, capitalist
governments may be expected continually to inaugurate programs of
reform which, while strengthening capitalism, are incidentally of more
or less benefit to the working class. This is neither any part of
Socialism, nor does it tend towards decreasing the economic disparity
between the classes.

"If small concessions and trifles have been referred to," said the
revolutionary Karl Liebknecht, "it must not be understood that by this
it is meant to undervalue the practical work of the Badenese, but that
what has been attained is considered to be small, when measured by the
greatness of our aims. The so-called radicals, these are the true
reformers, the realistic political reformers who do not overlook the
forest on account of the trees."

Bebel, in two long speeches delivered at this Congress, defined the
Socialist attitude to existing governments and existing political
parties in a way that no longer leaves it possible that any earnest
student of Socialism can misunderstand it. He was supported by the
overwhelming majority of the Congress when he said that the policy of
the Baden Social-Democrats meant practically the support of the National
Liberals; that is to say, of the conservative party of the large
capitalists. The Socialists of Germany all consider that the parties
nearest related to theirs are the Radical or small capitalist parties,
formerly called the "Freethinkers" and the "People's" parties
(Freisinnige and Volkspartei) and now united under the name Progressive
Party. But a tacit alliance with these alone could not have been brought
about in Baden, so that the Socialists there favored going so far as to
ally themselves for all practical purposes with the chief organization
representing the bankers, manufactures, and employers--with the object,
of course, of overcoming the conservatives, the Catholic and
aristocratic parties.

"Now all of a sudden we hear that our tactics are false, that we must
ally ourselves with the National Liberals," said Bebel. "_We even have
National Liberals in our party.... But if one is a National Liberal,
then one must get out._ The Badenese speak of the great results which
they have obtained with the help of the Great Alliance [_i.e._ an
alliance with both National Liberals and Radicals]. Now results which
are reached with the help of the National Liberals don't bring us very
far.

"If we combine with capitalistic parties, you can bet a thousand to one
that we are the losers by it. It is, so to speak, a law of nature, that
in a combination of the right and the left the right draws the profits.
Such a combination cripples criticism and places us under obligations."

"_The government can well conciliate the exploited classes in case of
necessity, but never with a fundamental social transformation in the
direction of the socialization of society._" The reader must here avoid
confusion. Bebel does not say that the ruling class cannot or will not
bring about great legislative and political reforms, such as large
governmental undertakings of more or less benefit to every class of the
community, like canals or railways, but that such measures as are
_conceded to the Socialist pressure_ and at _the same time actually work
in the direction of Socialism are few and insignificant_.



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Keywords: policy, importance, suffrage, alliance, course, school, germany, governments, taxation, minister
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