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Whether they have to
meet government ownership and 33-year leases now being tried on a small
scale in New Zealand, or whether a capitalist collectivist government
allows agricultural evolution and land titles to take their natural
course, they expect to corner the labor supply, and in this way
ultimately to urge agriculture along in the Socialist direction. From
the moment they have done this, they expect a steady tendency on the
part of agriculturists to look forward, as the workingmen have done, to
the Socialist State:--

"The question arises, under a Socialist rÚgime, will small
property, the property cultivated by the owner and his family, be
transmissible, allowed to be sold, or left as inheritance to the
children, to the nephews, and even to very remote cousins? From the
moment this property is not used as an instrument of
exploitation--and in a Socialist society, _labor not being sold_,
it could never become one--what do we care whether it changes hands
every morning, whether it travels around through a whole family or

For, since the Socialist State will furnish work for all that apply, at
the best remuneration, and under the best conditions, especially as it
will do this in its own agricultural enterprises, relatively few farmers
will be able to pay enough to secure other workers than those of their
own families.

In the United States the Party has definitely decided by a large
majority, in a referendum vote, that it does not intend to try to
disturb the self-employing farmer in any way in his occupation and use
of the land. In a declaration adopted in 1909, when, by a referendum
vote of nearly two to one, the demand for the immediate collective
ownership of the land was dropped from the platform, the following
paragraph was inserted:--

"There can be no absolute private title to land. All private titles,
whether called fee simple or otherwise, are and must be subordinate to
the public title. The Socialist Party strives to prevent land from being
used for the purpose of exploitation and speculation. It demands the
collective possession, control, or management of land to whatever extent
may be necessary to attain that end. It is not opposed to the occupation
and possession of land by those using it in a useful bona fide manner
_without exploitation_." (My italics.)

Those American Socialists who have given most attention to the subject,
like Mr. Simons, have long since made up their minds that there is no
hope whatever either for the victory or even for the rapid development
of Socialism in this country unless it takes some root among the
agriculturists. Mr. Simons insists that the Socialists should array
against the forces of conservatism, privilege, and exploitation, "all
those whose labor assists in the production of wealth, for all these
make up the army of exploited, and all are interested in the abolition
of exploitation."

"In this struggle," he continues, "farmers and factory wage workers
must make common cause. Any smaller combination, any division in the
ranks of the workers, must render success impossible. In a country where
fundamental changes of policy are secured at the ballot box, nothing can
be accomplished without united action by all classes of workers.... The
better organization of the factory workers of the cities, due to their
position in the midst of a higher developed capitalism and more
concentrated industry, makes them in no way independent of their rural
brothers. So long as they are not numerous enough to win, they are
helpless. 'A miss is as good as a mile,' and coming close to a majority
avails almost nothing."[230]

Looking at the question after this from the farmers' standpoint, Mr.
Simons argues that many of the latter are well aware that the ownership
of a farm is nothing more than the ownership of a job, and that the
capitalists who own the mortgages, railroads, elevators, meat-packing
establishments, and factories which produce agricultural machinery and
other needed supplies, control the lives and income of the
agriculturists almost as rigidly as they do those of their own
employees. Mr. Simons's views on this point also are probably those of a
majority of the party.

Mr. Victor Berger does not consider that farmers belong to that class by
whom and for whom Socialism has come into being. "The average farmer is
not a proletarian," he says, "yet he is a producer."[231] This would
seem to imply that the farmer should have Socialist consideration,
though perhaps not equal consideration with the workingman. Mr. Berger's
main argument apparently was that the farmers must be included in the
movement, not because this is demanded by principle but because "you
will never get control of the United States unless you have the farming
class with you," as he said at a Socialist convention.

Thus there are three possible attitudes of Socialists towards the
self-employing farmer, and all three are represented in the movement.
Kautsky, Vandervelde, and many others believe that after all he is not a
proletarian, and therefore should not or cannot be included in the
movement. The French Socialists and many Americans believe that he is
practically a proletarian and should and can be included. The
"reformists" in countries where he is very numerous believe he should be
included, even when (Berger) they do not consider him as a proletarian.
The Socialist movement, on the whole, now stands with Kautsky and
Vandervelde, and this is undoubtedly the correct position until the
Socialists are near to political supremacy. The French and American
view, that the self-employing farmer is practically a wage earner, is
spreading, and though this view is false and dangerous if prematurely
applied (_i.e._ to-day) it will become correct in the future when
collectivist capitalism has exhausted its reforms and the small farmer
is becoming an employee of the highly productive government farms or a
profit-sharer in co÷perative associations.

At the last American Socialist Convention (1910) Mr. Simons's resolution
carefully avoided the "reformist" position of trying to prop up either
private property or small-scale production, by the statement that, while
"no Socialist Party proposes the immediate expropriation of the farm
owner who is cultivating his own farm," that, on the other hand, "it is
not for the Socialist Party to guarantee the private ownership of any
productive property." He remarked in the Convention that the most
prominent French Marxists, Guesde and Lafargue, had approved the action
of the recent French Socialist Congress, which had "guaranteed the
peasant ownership of his farm," but he would not accept this action as
good Socialism. Mr. Berger offered the same criticism of the French
Socialists, and added that the guarantee would not be worth anything in
any case, because our grandchildren would not be ruled by it.

However, there is a minority ready to compromise everything in this
question. Of all American States, Oklahoma has been the one where
Socialists have given the closest attention to agricultural
problems. The Socialists have obtained a considerable vote in every
county of this agricultural State, and with 20,000 to 25,000 votes
they include a considerable proportion of the electorate. It is
true that their platform, though presented at the last national
convention, has not been passed upon, and may later be disapproved
in several important clauses, but it is important as showing the
farthest point the American movement has gone in this direction.
Its most important points are:--

The retention and _constant enlargement of the public domain_.

By retaining school and other public lands.

By purchasing of arid and overflow lands and the State reclamation
of all such lands now held by the State or that may be acquired by
the State.

By the purchase of all lands sold for the non-payment of taxes.

Separation of the department of agriculture from the political

Election of all members and officers of the Board of Agriculture by
the direct vote of the actual farmers.

Erection by the State of grain elevators and warehouses for the
storage of farm products; these elevators and warehouses to be
managed by the Board of Agriculture.

Organization by the Board of Agriculture of free agricultural
education and the establishment of model farms.

Encouragement by the Board of Agriculture of co÷perative societies
of farmers--

For the buying of seed and fertilizers.

_For the purchase and common use of implements and machinery._

For the preparing and sale of produce.

Organization by the State of loans on mortgages and warehouse
certificates, the interests charges to cover cost only.

State insurance against disease of animals, diseases of plants,
insect pests, hail, flood, storm, and fire.

Exemption from taxation and execution of dwellings, tools, farm
animals, implements, and improvements to the amount of one thousand

_A graduated tax on the value of rented land and land held for

Absentee landlords to assess their own lands, the State reserving
the right to purchase such lands at their assessed value plus 10
per cent.

Land now in the possession of the State or hereafter acquired
through purchase, reclamation, or tax sales to be rented to
_landless_ farmers under the supervision of the Board of
Agriculture at the prevailing rate of share rent or its equivalent.
The payment of such rent to cease as soon as the total amount of
rent paid is equal to the value of the land, and the tenant thereby
acquires for himself _and his children_ the right of occupancy. The
title to all such lands remaining with the commonwealth.[232]

I have italicized the most significant items. The preference given
to landless farmers in the last paragraph shows that the party in
Oklahoma does not propose to distribute its greatest favors to
those who are now in possession of even the smallest amount of

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Keywords: elevators, amount, socialism, country, nothing, action, position, organization, simons, majority
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