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Moreover, while this great reform will strengthen Socialism
as indicated, it will strengthen capitalism still more, especially in
the earlier stages of the change. Socialists recognize, with Henry
George, that ground rent may be nationalized and "tyranny and spoliation
be continued." For if the present capitalistic state gradually became
the general landlord, either through the extension of the national
domain or through land taxation, greater resources would be put into the
hands of existing class governments than by any other means. If, for
example, the Socialists opposed the government bank in Germany they
might dread even more the _present_ government becoming the universal
landlord, though it would be useless to try to prevent it.

It is clear that such a reform is no more a step in Socialism or in the
direction of Socialism than the rest of the capitalist collectivist
program. But it is a step in the development of capitalism and will
ultimately bring society to a point where the Socialists, if they have
in the meanwhile prepared themselves, may be able to gain the supreme
power over government and industry.

Socialists do not feel that the agricultural problem will be solved at
all for a large part of the agriculturists (the laborers) nor in the
most satisfactory manner for the majority (self-employing farmers) until
the whole problem of capitalism is solved. The agricultural laborers
they claim as their own to-day; the conditions I have reviewed lead them
to hope also for a slow but steady progress among the smaller farmers.

FOOTNOTES:

[223] Karl Kautsky, "Parlamentarismus und Demokratie," edition of 1911,
p. 127.

[224] Karl Kautsky, "Parlamentarismus und Demokratie," edition of 1911,
pp. 126-128.

[225] Quotations from Kautsky following in this chapter are taken
chiefly from his "Agrarfrage."

[226] Émile Vandervelde, "Le Socialisme Agraire."

[227] _Die Neue Zeit_, June 16, 1911.

[228] Proceedings of 1910 Convention of the Socialist Party of the
United States.

[229] _Die Neue Zeit_, June 16 and 30, 1911.

[230] A. M. Simons, "The American Farmer," pp. 160-162.

[231] The 1908 Convention of the Socialist Party of the United States.

[232] Reprinted at frequent intervals by the _Industrial Democrat,_
Oklahoma City.

[233] Mr. Simons's resolution also contains another proposition,
seemingly at variance with this, which would postpone Socialist action
indefinitely:--

"In the field of industry what the Socialist movement demands is the
social ownership and control of the socially operated means of
production, not of all means of production. Only to a very small extent
is it [the land] likely to be, for many years to come, a socially
operated means of production."

On the contrary, it would seem that "State Socialism," the basis on
which Socialists must build, to say nothing of Socialism, will bring
about a large measure of government ownership of land in the interest of
the farmer of the individually operated farm. Socialism, it is true,
requires besides government ownership, governmental operation, and
recognizes that this is practicable only as fast as agriculture becomes
organized like other industries. In the meanwhile it recognizes either
in gradual government ownership or in the taxation of the unearned
increment, the most progressive steps that can be undertaken by a
capitalist government and supports them _even where there is no
large-scale production or social operation_. For "wherever individual
ownership is an agency of exploitation," to quote Mr. Simons's own
resolution, "then such ownership is opposed by Socialism," _i.e.
wherever labor is employed_.

The Socialist solution, it is true, can only come with "social
operation," but that does not mean that Socialism has nothing to say
to-day. It still favors the reforms of collectivist capitalism. Where
extended national ownership of the land is impracticable there remains
the taxation of the future unearned increment. To drop this "demand"
also is to subordinate Socialism completely to small-scale capitalism.




CHAPTER III

SOCIALISM AND THE "WORKING CLASS"


If the majority of Socialists are liberal in their conception of what
constitutes the "working class," they are equally broad in their view as
to what classes must be reckoned among its opponents. They are aware
that on the other side in this struggle will be found all those classes
that are willing to serve capitalism or hope to rise into its ranks.

In its narrow sense the term "capitalist class" may be restricted to
mean mere idlers and parasites, but this is not the sense in which
Socialists usually employ it. Mere idlers play an infinitely less
important part in the capitalist world than active exploiters. It is
even probable that in the course of a strenuous struggle the capitalists
themselves may gradually tax wholly idle classes out of existence and so
actually strengthen the more active capitalists by ridding them of this
burden. Active exploiters may pass some of their time in idleness and
frivolous consumption, without actual degeneration, without becoming
mere parasites. All exploitation is parasitism, but it does not follow
that every exploiter is nothing more than a parasite. He may work
feverishly at the game of exploitation and, as is very common with
capitalists, may be devoted to it for its own sake and for the power it
brings rather than for the opportunity to consume in luxury or idleness.
If pure parasitism were the object of attack, as certain Socialists
suppose it to be, all but an infinitesimal minority of mankind would
already be Socialists.

Nor do Socialists imagine that the capitalist ranks will ever be
restricted to the actual capitalists, those whose income is derived
chiefly from their possessions. Take, for example, the class of the
least skilled and poorest-paid laborers such as the so-called "casual
laborers," the "submerged tenth"--those who, though for the most part
not paupers, are in extreme poverty and probably are unable to maintain
themselves in a state of industrial efficiency even for that low-paid
and unskilled labor to which they are accustomed. Mr. H. G. Wells and
other observers feel that this class is likely to put even more
obstacles in the path of Socialism than the rich: "Much more likely to
obstruct the way to Socialism," says Mr. Wells, "is the ignorance, the
want of courage, the stupid want of imagination in the very poor, too
shy and timid and clumsy to face any change they can evade! But even
with them popular education is doing its work; and I do not fear but
that in the next generation we will find Socialists even in the
slums."[234]

"Misery and poverty are so absolutely degrading, and exercise such a
paralyzing effect over the nature of men, that no class is ever really
conscious of its own suffering," says Oscar Wilde. "They have to be told
of it by other people, and they often entirely disbelieve them. What is
said by great employers of labor against agitators is unquestionably
true. Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down
to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of
discontent amongst them."[235] It is the "very poor" who disbelieve the
agitators. They must be embraced in every plan of social reconstruction,
but they cannot be of much aid. The _least_ skilled must rather be
helped and those who can and do help them best are not any of their
"superiors," but their blood brothers and sisters of the economic class
just above them--the great mass of the unskilled workers.

The class of casual workers and the able-bodied but chronically
under-employed play a very serious rôle in Socialist politics. It is the
class from which, as Socialists point out, professional soldiers,
professional strike breakers, and, to some extent, the police are drawn.
Among German Socialists it is called the "lumpen proletariat," and both
for the present and future is looked at with the greatest anxiety. It is
not thought possible that any considerable portion of it will be brought
into the Socialist camp in the near future, though some progress has
been made, as with every other element of the working class. It is
acknowledged that it tends to become more numerous, constantly recruited
as it is from the increasing class of servants and other dependents of
the rich and well-to-do.

But Socialists understand that the mercenary hirelings drawn from this
class, and directly employed to keep them "in order," are less dangerous
than the capitalists' camp followers. Bernard Shaw calls this second
army of dependents "the parasitic proletariat." But he explains that he
means not that they do not _earn_ their living, but that their labor is
unproductive. They are parasitic only in the sense that their work is
done either for parasites or for the parasitical consumption of active
capitalists. Nor is there any sharp line between proletarian and middle
class in this element, since parts of both classes are equally conscious
of their dependence. Shaw makes these points clear. His only error is to
suppose that Socialists and believers in the class war theory, have
failed to recognize them.


"Thus we find," says Shaw, "that what the idle man of property does
is to plunge into mortal sin against society. He not only withdraws
himself from the productive forces of the nation and quarters
himself on them as a parasite: he withdraws also a body of
propertyless men and places them in the same position except that
they have to earn this anti social privilege by ministering to his
wants and whims. He thus creates and corrupts a class of
workers--many of them very highly trained and skilled, and
correspondingly paid--whose subsistence is bound up with his
income. They are parasites on a parasite; and they defend the
institution of private property with a ferocity which startles
their principal, who is often in a speculative way quite
revolutionary in his views. They knock the class war theory into a
cocked hat [I shall show below that class war Socialists, on the
contrary, have always recognized, the existence of these facts,
"whilst the present system lasts."--W.



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Keywords: parasite, skilled, working, operation, kautsky, agitators, themselves, exploitation, either, taxation
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