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As a
consequence they are everywhere crowding into the Socialist ranks--by
the hundred thousand in countries where the movement is oldest. Even in
the organized Socialist parties these middle-class elements everywhere
form a considerable proportion of the whole. Practically a third of the
American Party according to a recent reckoning were engaged either in
farming (15 per cent) or in commercial (9 per cent) or professional
pursuits (5 per cent).

It is plain that certain sections of the so-called middle class are not
only welcomed by Socialist parties, but constitute their most dependable
and indispensable elements. Indeed, the majority of the Socialists agree
with Kautsky that the danger lies in the opposite direction, that an
unreliable small capitalist element has been admitted that will make
trouble until it leaves the movement, in other words, that Socialist
friendship for these classes has gone to the point of risking the
existence of their organization. Surely their presence is a guarantee
that Socialists have not been ruled by the working class or proletarian
"fetish," against which Marx warned them more than half a century ago.

FOOTNOTES:

[207] The _American Magazine_, October, 1911.

[208] Winston Churchill, _op. cit._, p. 389.

[209] _Die Neue Zeit_, Oct. 27, 1911.

[210] Speech just before Congressional Elections of 1910.

[211] Speech delivered by Mr. Roosevelt, Dec. 13, 1910.

[212] John Spargo, "Karl Marx."

[213] Edward Bernstein, "Evolutionary Socialism," p. 143.

[214] Karl Kautsky, "The Social Revolution," pp. 58-59.

[215] The _Outlook_, March 13, 1909.

[216] Karl Kautsky in _Vorwaerts_ (Berlin), Feb. 7, 1909.

[217] Quoted by Jaurès, "Studies in Socialism," p. 103.

[218] Karl Kautsky, "Erfurter Programm," p. 258.

[219] Karl Kautsky, "The Social Revolution," pp. 48-49.

[220] The _International Socialist Review_ (Chicago), October, 1911.

[221] H. G. Wells, "This Misery of Boots," p. 34.

[222] Karl Kautsky, "The Social Revolution," p. 51.




CHAPTER II

THE AGRICULTURAL CLASSES AND THE LAND QUESTION


I have pointed out the relation of the Socialist movement to all classes
but one,--the agriculturists,--a class numerically next in importance to
the industrial wage earners.

On the one hand most agriculturists are small capitalists, who, even
when they do not own their farms, are often forced to-day to invest a
considerable sum in farm animals and machinery, in rent and interest and
in wages at the harvest season; on the other hand, a large part of the
farmers work harder and receive less for their work than skilled
laborers, while the amount they own, especially when tenants, scarcely
exceeds what it has cost many skilled workers to learn their trade. Are
the great majority of farmers, then, rather small capitalists or
laborers?

For many years Socialists paid comparatively little attention to the
problem. How was it then imagined that a political program could obtain
the support of the majority of the voters without presenting to the
agricultural population as satisfactory a solution of their difficulties
as that it offered to the people of the towns? On the other hand, how
was it possible to adapt a program frankly "formulated by or for the
workingmen of large-scale industry" to the conditions of agriculture?

The estimate of the rural population that has hitherto prevailed among
the Socialists of most countries may be seen from the following language
of Kautsky's:--


"We have already seen how the peasant's production [that of the
small farmer] isolates men. The capitalists' means of production
and the modern State, to be sure, have a powerful tendency to put
an end to the isolation of the peasant through taxation, military
service, railways, and newspapers. But the increase of the points
of contact between town and country as a rule only have the effect
that the peasant farmer feels his desolation and isolation less
keenly. They raise him up as a peasant farmer, but awake in him a
longing for the town; they drive all the most energetic and
independently thinking elements from the country into the towns,
and rob the former of its forces. So that the progress of modern
economic life has the effect of increasing the desolation and
lonesomeness of the country rather than ending it.

"The truth is that in every country the agricultural population is
economically and politically the most backward. That does not imply
any reflection on it; it is its misfortune, but it is a fact with
which one must deal."[223]


Not only Kautsky and Vandervelde, but whole Socialist parties like those
of Austria and Germany, are given to the exploitation of the supposed
opposition between town and country, the producer and the consumer of
agricultural products. At the German Socialist Congress of 1911, Bebel
declared that to-day those who were most in need of protection were the
consumers of agricultural products, the workingmen, lower middle classes
and employees. He felt the day was approaching when the increased cost
of living would form the chief question before the German people, the
day when the German people would raise a storm and tear down the tariffs
on the necessaries of life as well as other measures that unduly favor
the agriculturists--while the proposal of socialization would come up
first in the field of agriculture.

While, in view of the actual level of prices in Germany, there is no
doubt that even the smallest of the agriculturists are getting some
share of the spoils of the tariffs and other measures Bebel mentions,
there can also be little question that in such a storm of revolt as he
predicts the pendulum would swing too far the other way, and they would
suffer unjustly. It is true that the agriculturist produces bread, while
the city worker consumes it, but so also do shoe workers produce shoes
that are consumed by garment workers, and certainly no Socialist
predicts any lasting struggle between producers of shoes and producers
of clothing. It is true also that if the wage earner's condition is to
be improved, some limit must be set to prices as wages are raised. But
the flour manufacturer and the baker must be restrained as well as the
grain producer. Nor do Socialists expect to accomplish much by the mere
regulation of prices. And when it comes to their remedy, socialization,
there is less reason, as I shall show, for beginning with land rent than
with industrial capital, and the Socialist parties of France and America
recognize this fact.

But it is the practical result of this supposed opposition of town and
country rather than its inconsistency with Socialist principles that
must hold our attention. Certainly no agricultural program and no appeal
to the agricultural population, perhaps not even one addressed to
agricultural laborers, can hope for success while this view of the
opposition of town and country is maintained; for all agriculturists
want what they consider to be reasonable prices for their products, and
their whole life depends directly or indirectly on these prices. When
the workmen agitate, as they so often do in Europe, for cheap bread and
meat, without qualifying their agitation by any regard for the
agriculturists, all hope of obtaining the support of _any_ of the
agricultural classes, even laborers, is for the time being abandoned.

The predominance of town over country is so important to Kautsky that he
even opposes such a vital piece of democratic reform as direct
legislation where the town-country population is the more numerous than
that of the towns. "We have seen" he says, "that the modern
representative system is not very favorable to the peasantry or to the
small capitalists, especially of the country towns. The classes which
the representative system most favors are the large owners of capital or
land, the highly educated, and under a democratic electoral system, the
militant and class-conscious part of the industrial working class. So in
general one can say parliamentarism favors the population of the large
towns as against that of the country."

Far from being disturbed at this unjust and unequal system, Kautsky
prefers that it should _not_ be reformed, unless the town population are
in a majority. "Direct legislation by the people works against these
tendencies of parliamentarism. If the latter strives to place the
political balance of power in the population of the large towns, the
former puts it in the masses of the population, but these still live
everywhere and for the most part in a large majority, with the exception
of England, in the country and in the small country towns. Direct
legislation takes away from the population of the large towns their
special political influence, and subjects them to the country
population."[224]

He concludes that wherever and as long as the agricultural population
remains in a majority, the Socialists have no special reason to work for
direct legislation.

Of course Kautsky and his school do not expect this separation or
antagonism of agriculture and industry to last very far into the future.
But as long as capitalism lasts they believe agriculturists will play an
entirely subordinate rôle in politics. "While the capitalist mode of
production increases visibly the difficulties of the formation of a
revolutionary class (in the country), it favors it in the towns," he
says. "It there concentrates the laboring masses, creates conditions
favorable to every organization for their mental evolution and for their
class struggle.... It debilitates the country, disperses the
agricultural workers over vast areas, isolates them, robs them of all
means of mental development and resistance to exploitation."[225]

Similarly Vandervelde quotes from Voltaire's essay on customs a sentence
describing the European peasantry of a hundred and fifty years ago as
"savages living in cabins with their females and a few animals," and
asks, "who would dare to pretend that these words have lost all their
reality?" He admits that "rural barbarism has decreased," but still
considers the peasantry, not as a class which must take an active part
in bringing about Socialism, but as one to which "conquering Socialism
will bring political liberty and social equality."[226]

Kautsky says that either the small farmer is not really independent, and
pieces out his income by hiring himself out occasionally to some larger
landowner or other employer, or else, if entirely occupied with his own
work, that he manages to compete with large-scale cultivation only "by
overwork and underconsumption, by barbarism, as Marx says."

"To-day the situation of the city proletariat," Kautsky adds, "is
already so superior to the barbaric situation of the older peasants,
that the younger peasants' generation is leaving the fields along with
the class of rural wage earners." There can be no question that small
farms, those without permanent hired labor, survive competition with the
larger and better equipped, only by overwork and underconsumption.



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Keywords: against, industrial, to-day, capitalists, production, peasant, between, modern, rather, program
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