G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 20000

You can read its for free!

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
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. E. W.] by forming a powerful
conservative proletariat whose one economic interest is that the
rich should have as much money as possible; and it is they who
encourage and often compel the property owners to defend themselves
against an onward march of Socialism. Thus we have the phenomenon
that seems at first sight so amazing in London: namely, that in the
constituencies where the shopkeepers pay the most monstrous rents,
and the extravagance and insolence of the idle rich are in fullest
view, no Socialist--nay, no Progressive--has a chance of being
elected to the municipality or to Parliament. The reason is that
these shopkeepers live by fleecing the rich as the rich live by
fleecing the poor. The millionaire who has preyed upon Bury and
Bottle until no workman there has more than his week's sustenance
in hand, and many of them have not even that, is himself preyed
upon in Bond Street, Pall Mall, and Longacre.

"But the parasites, the West End tradesman, the West End
professional man, the schoolmaster, the Ritz hotel keeper, the
horse dealer and trainer, the impresario and his guinea stalls, and
the ordinary theatrical manager with his half-guinea ones, the
huntsman, the jockey, the gamekeeper, the gardener, the coachman,
the huge mass of minor shopkeepers and employees who depend on
these or who, as their children, have been brought up with a
little crust of conservative prejudices which they call their
politics and morals and religion: all these give to Parliamentary
and social conservatism its real fighting force; and the more
'class conscious' we make them, the more they will understand that
their incomes, _whilst the present system lasts_, are bound up with
those of the proprietors whom Socialism would expropriate. And as
many of them are better fed, better mannered, better educated, more
confident and successful than the productive proletariat, the class
war is not going to be a walkover for the Socialists."[236]

If we take into account both this "parasitic proletariat" and the
"lumpen proletariat" previously referred to, it is clear that when the
Socialists speak of a class struggle against the capitalists, they do
not expect to be able to include in their ranks all "the people" nor
even all the wage earners. This is precisely one of the things that
distinguishes them most sharply from a merely populistic movement.
Populist parties expect to include _all_ classes of the "common people,"
and every numerically important class of capitalists. Socialists
understand that they can never rely on the small capitalist except when
he has given up all hope of maintaining himself as such, and that they
are facing not only the whole capitalist class, but also their hirelings
and dependents.

Socialists as a whole have never tended either to a narrowly exclusive
nor to a vaguely inclusive policy. Nor have their most influential
writers, like Marx and Liebknecht, given the wage earners _a privileged
position in the movement_. I have quoted from Liebknecht. "Just as the
democrats make a sort of a fetish of the words 'the people,'" wrote Marx
to the Communists on resigning from the organization in 1851, "so you
may make one of the word 'proletariat.'"

But it cannot be denied that many of Marx's followers have ignored this
warning, and the worship of the words "proletariat" or "working class"
is still common in some Socialist quarters. Recently Kautsky wrote that
the Socialist Party, besides occupying itself with the interests of the
manual laborers, "must also concern itself with all social questions,
but that _its attitude on these questions is determined by the interests
of the manual laborers_."

"The Socialist Party," he continued, "is forced by its class position to
expand its struggle against its own exploitation and oppression into a
struggle against all forms of exploitation and oppression, to broaden
its struggle for class interests into a struggle for liberty and
justice for all members of the community." According to this
interpretation, the Socialist Party, starting out from the standpoint of
the economic interests of the "manual laborers," comes to represent the
interests of all classes, except the capitalists. We may doubt as to
whether the other non-capitalist classes will take kindly to this
subordination or "benevolent assimilation" by the manual workers.
Kautsky seems to have no question on this matter, however; for he
considers that the abolition of the oppression and exploitation of the
wage earners, _the class at the bottom_, can only be effected by the
abolition of all exploitation and oppression, and that therefore "all
friends of universal liberty and justice, whatever class they may spring
from, are compelled to join the proletariat and to fight its class
struggles."[237] Even if this is true, these other classes will demand
that they should have an equal voice in carrying on this struggle in
proportion to their numbers, and Socialist parties have usually (though
not always) given them that equal voice.

The kernel of the working class, "the layers of the industrial
proletariat which have reached political self-consciousness," provides
the chief supporters of the Socialist movement, according to Kautsky,
although the latter is the representative "not alone of the industrial
wage workers, but of all the working and exploited layers of the
community, that is, the great majority of the total population, what one
ordinarily calls 'the people.'" While Socialism is to represent all the
producing and exploited classes, the industrial proletariat is thus
considered as the model to which the others must be shaped and as by
some special right or virtue it is on all occasions to take the
forefront in the movement. This position leads inevitably to a
considerably qualified form of democracy.

"The backbone of the party will always be the fighting proletariat,
whose qualities will determine its character, whose strength will
determine its power," says Kautsky. "Bourgeois and peasants are
highly welcome if they will attach themselves to us and march with
us, but the proletariat will always show the way.

"But if not only wage earners but also small peasants and small
capitalists, artisans, middle-men of all kinds, small officials,
and so forth--in short, the whole so-called 'common people'--formed
the masses out of which Social Democracy recruits its adherents, we
must not forget that these classes, with the exception of the
class-conscious wage-earners, are also a recruiting ground for our
opponents; their influence on these classes has been and still is
to-day the chief ground of their political power.

"To grant political rights to the people, therefore, by no means
necessarily implies the protection of the interests of the
proletariat or those of social evolution. Universal suffrage, as it
is known, has nowhere brought about a Social Democratic majority,
while it may give more reactionary majorities than a qualified
suffrage under the same circumstances. It may put aside a liberal
government only to put in its place a conservative or catholic

"Nevertheless the proletariat must demand democratic institutions
under all circumstances, for the same reasons that, once it has
obtained political power, it can only use its own class rule for
the purpose of putting an end to all class rule. It is the
bottommost of the social classes. It cannot gain political rights,
at least not in its entirety, except if everybody gets them. Each
of the other classes may become privileged under certain
circumstances, but not the proletariat. The Social Democracy, the
party of the class-conscious proletariat, is therefore the surest
support of democratic efforts, much surer than the bourgeois

"But if the Social Democracy is also the most strenuous fighter for
democracy, it cannot share the latter's illusions. It must always
be conscious of the fact that every popular right which it wins is
a weapon not only for itself, but also for its opponents; it must
therefore under certain circumstances understand that democratic
achievements are more useful at first to the enemy than to itself;
but only at first. For in the long run the introduction of
democratic institutions in the State can only turn out to the
profit of Social Democracy. They necessarily make its struggle
easier, and lead it to victory. The militant proletariat has so
much confidence in social evolution, so much confidence in itself,
that it fears no struggle, not even with a superior power; it only
wants a field of battle on which it can move freely. The democratic
State offers such a field of battle; there the final decisive
struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat can best be fought

The reader might understand this somewhat vacillating position on the
whole to favor democracy, but only a few pages further on Kautsky
explains his reasons for opposing the initiative and referendum, and we
see that when the point of action arrives, his democratic idealism is

"In our opinion it follows from the preceding that the initiative
and referendum do _not_ belong to those democratic institutions
which must be furthered by the proletariat in the interest of its
own struggle for emancipation everywhere and under all
circumstances. The referendum and initiative are institutions which
may be very useful under certain circumstances if one does not
overvalue these uses, but under other circumstances may cause
great harm.

Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | Next |

Keywords: cannot, referendum, initiative, better, working, certain, except, conservative, socialism, laborers
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.