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In a word, our greatest statesman
recognized that our political democracy and liberty were based on the
wide distribution of the land and other forms of capital. (See Lincoln's
Message of December 3, 1861.) If Lincoln foresaw no class struggle
between "hired labor" and the "returning despotism," this was only
because he mistakenly expected that the nation would continue to consist
chiefly of small capitalists. Yet his conclusions and those of his
contemporaries, so clearly limited to conditions that have passed away,
are taught like a gospel to the children in our public schools to-day.

The present generation, however, is slowly realizing, through the
development of organized capitalism in industry and government, and the
increase of hired laborers, that it is not nature alone that
civilization must contend against, not merely ignorance or poverty or
the backwardness of material development, but, more important than all
these, the systematic opposition of the employing and governing classes
to every program of improvement, except that which promises still
further to increase their own wealth and power.

The Socialist view of the evolution of society is that the central fact
of history is this struggle of classes for political and economic power.
The governing class of any society or period, Marx taught, consists of
the economic exploiters, the governed class of the economically
exploited. The governing class becomes more and more firmly established
in power, until it begins to stagnate, but the machinery of production
continues to evolve, and falls gradually into the hands of some
exploited element which is able to use this economic advantage as a
means for overthrowing its rulers. Marx felt that with the vast
revolution in society marked by modern science and modern machinery, the
time is fast approaching when the exploited classes of to-day will be
able to overthrow the present ruling class, the capitalists, and at the
same time establish an industrial democracy, where all class oppression
will be brought to an end.

However his predictions may turn out in the future, Marx's view of the
past is rapidly gaining ground and is possibly accepted by the majority
of those most competent to speak on these questions to-day, including
many leading economists and sociologists and prominent figures in
practical political life. Winston Churchill, for example, says that "the
differences between class and class have been even aggravated in the
passage of years," that while "the richer classes [are] ever growing in
wealth and in numbers, and ever declining in responsibility, the very
poor remain plunged or plunging even deeper into helpless, hopeless
misery." This being the case, he predicts "a savage strife between class
and class," unless the most radical measures are taken to check the
tendency. Nor are his statements mere rhetoric, for he shows
statistically "that the increase of income assessable to income tax is
at the very least more than ten times greater than the increase which
has taken place in the same period in the wages of those trades which
come within the Board of Trade returns."[208] In other words, the income
of the well-to-do classes (which increased nearly half a billion pounds,
that is, almost doubled, in ten years) is growing ten times more rapidly
than that even of the organized and better paid workmen, who alone are
considered in the Board of Trade returns.

Here is a situation which is world-wide. The position of the working
class, or certain parts of it, may be improving; the income of the
employing and capitalist class is certainly increasing _many fold_ more
rapidly. Here is the financial expression of the growing _divergence_ of
classes which Marx had in mind, a divergence that we have no reason
whatever for supposing will be checked, as Mr. Churchill suggests, even
by his most "Socialistic" reforms, short of surrendering the political
and economic power to those who suffer from this condition.

At the German Socialist Congress at Hanover in 1899, Bebel said that
even if the income of the working class was increasing, or even if the
purchasing power of total wages was becoming greater, the income of the
nation as a whole was increasing much more rapidly and that of the
capitalist class at a still more rapid rate. The great Socialist
statesman laid emphasis on the essential point that capitalists are
absorbing continually a greater and a greater proportion of the national

The class struggle, says Kautsky, rests not upon the fact that the
misery of the proletariat is growing greater, but on _its need to
annihilate a pressure that it feels more and more keenly_.

"The class struggle," he writes, "becomes more bitter the longer it
lasts. The more capable of struggle the opponents become in and through
the struggle itself, _the more important become the differences in their
conditions of life, the more the capitalists raise themselves above the
proletariat by the ever growing exploitation_."[209]

This feature of present-day (capitalistic) progress, Socialists view as
the very essence of social injustice, no matter whether there is a
slight and continuous or even a considerable progress of the working
class. The question for them is not whether from time to time something
more falls to the workingman, but what proportion he gets of the total
product. It would never occur to any one to try to tell a business man
that he ought not to sell any more goods because his profits were
already increasing "fast enough." It is as absurd to tell the workingman
that the moderate advance he is making either through slight
improvements as to wages and hours, or through political and social
reforms, ought to blind him to all the possibilities of modern
civilization from which he is still shut off, and which will remain out
of his reach for generations, unless his share in the income of society
is rapidly increased to the point that he (and other non-capitalist
producers) receive the total product.

The conflict of class interests is not a mere theory, but a widely
recognized reality, and the worst accusation that can be made against
Socialists is not that they are trying to create a war of classes where
none exists, but that some of them at times interpret the conflict in a
narrow or violent sense (I shall discuss the truth or untruth of this
criticism in later chapters). Yet Mr. Roosevelt voices the opinion of
many when he calls the view that the maximum of progress is to be
secured only after a struggle between the classes, the "most mischievous
of Socialist theses," says that an appeal to class interest is not
"legitimate," and that the Socialists hope "in one shape or another to
profit at the expense of the other citizens of the Republic."[210]

"There is no greater need to-day," said Mr. Roosevelt in his Sorbonne
lecture, "than the need to keep ever in mind the fact that the cleavage
between right and wrong, between good citizenship and bad citizenship,
runs at right angles to, not parallel to, the lines of cleavage between
class and class, between occupation and occupation. Ruin looks us in the
face if we judge a man by his position instead of judging him by his
conduct in that position."

This is as much as to say that there are only individuals, but no class,
which it is better to have outside than inside of a progressive
majority. The Socialist view is the exact opposite. It holds that _the
very foundation of Socialism as a method_ (which is its only aspect of
practical importance) is that the Socialist movement assumes a position
so militant and radical that every privileged class will voluntarily
remain on the outside; and events are showing the wisdom and even the
necessity of these tactics. Socialists would say, "Ruin looks us in the
face if, in politics, we judge the men who occupy a certain position
(the members of a certain class) by their conduct as individuals,
instead of judging them by the fact that they occupy a certain position
and are members of a certain class."

Again, to the Chamber of Commerce at New Haven, Mr. Roosevelt expressed
a view which, to judge by their actions, is that of all non-Socialist
reformers: "I am a radical," he said, "who most earnestly desires to see
a radical platform carried out by conservatives. I wish to see great
industrial reforms carried out, not by the men who will profit by them,
but by the men who will lose by them; by such men as you are around me."

Socialists, on the contrary, believe that industrial reforms will never
lead to equality of opportunity except when carried out wholly
independently of the conservatives who will lose by them. They believe
that such reforms as are carried out by the capitalists and their
governments, beneficent, radical, and even stupendous as they may be,
will not and cannot constitute the first or smallest step towards
industrial democracy.

Mr. Roosevelt's views are identical on this point with those of Mr.
Woodrow Wilson and other progressive leaders of the opposite party.
Mayor Gaynor of New York, for example, was quoted explaining the great
changes that took place in the fall elections of 1910 on these grounds:
"We are emerging from an evil case. The flocking of nearly all the
business men, owners of property, and even persons with $100 in the
savings bank, to one party made a division line and created a contrast
which must have led to trouble if much longer continued. The
intelligence of the country is asserting itself, and business men and
property owners will again divide themselves normally between the
parties, as formerly." Here again is the fundamental antithesis to the
Socialist view. Leaving aside for the moment the situation of persons
with $100 in the savings bank, or owners of property in general (who
might possess nothing more than a small home), Socialists are working,
with considerable success, towards the day when at least one great party
will take a position so radical that the overwhelming majority of
business men (or at least the representatives of by far the larger part
of business and capital) will be forced automatically into the opposite

Without this militant attitude Socialists believe that even the most
radical reforms, not excepting those that sincerely propose equal
opportunity or the abolition of social classes _as their ultimate aim_,
must fail to carry society forward a single step in that direction.
Take, as an example, Dr.

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Keywords: opposite, roosevelt, governing, property, exploited, democracy, remain, progress, owners, example
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