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He even admitted
in conversation with the writer that, attaching no value to political
advance as such, he was not even anxious at this time that the
illiterate South Italians should be given a vote, since they would long
remain under the tutelage of the Catholic Church.

One of the founders of the present French movement, its earliest and
chief theorist, Pelloutier, who has many followers among the present
officials of the French Federation of Labor, went even further, denying
to the government, and therefore to all political parties, any vital
function whatever. To Pelloutier the State is built exclusively upon
"superfluous and obnoxious political interests." The unions are expected
to work towards a Socialist society without much, if any, political
support. They are to use non-political means: "The general strike as a
purely economic means that _excludes the coöperation_ of parliamentary
Socialists and demands only labor union activity would necessarily suit
the labor union groups."[263]

The leading "syndicalist" writer to-day, Hubert Lagardelle, feels not
only that a Socialist Party is not likely to bring about a Socialist
society, but that any steps that it might try to take in this direction
to-day would necessarily be along the wrong lines, since it would
establish reforms by law rather than as a natural upgrowth out of
economic conditions and the activities of labor unions, with the result
that such reforms would necessarily go no farther than "State
Socialism."[264]

Lagardelle speaks of the "State Socialistic" reform tendency as
synonymous with "modern democracy." Because it supposes that there are
"general problems common to all classes," says Lagardelle, democracy
refuses to take into account the real difference between men, which is
that they are divided into economic classes. Here we see the central
principle of Socialism exaggerated to an absurdity. Few Socialists, even
the most revolutionary, would deny that there are some problems "common
to all classes." Indeed, the existence and importance of such problems
is the very reason why "State Socialism," of benefit to the masses, but
still more to the interest of the capitalists, is being so easily and
rapidly introduced. Lagardelle would be right, from the Socialist
standpoint, if he demanded that it should oppose mere political
democracy, or "State Socialism" in proportion as these forces have
succeeded in reorganizing the capitalist State--or rather after they
have been assimilated by it. But to obstruct their present work is
merely to stand against the normal and necessary course of economic and
political evolution, as recognized by the Socialists themselves, a
similar mistake to that made by the Populists and their successors, who
think they can prevent normal economic evolution by dissolving the new
industrial combinations and returning to competition. Just as Socialists
cannot oppose the formation of trusts under normal circumstances,
neither can they oppose the extension of the modern State into the field
of industry or democratic reform, even though the result is
_temporarily_ to strengthen capitalism and to decrease the economic and
political power of the working people. One of the fundamental
differences between the Socialist and other political philosophies is
that it recognizes ceaseless political evolution and acts accordingly.
It teaches that we shall probably pass on to social democracy through a
period of monopoly rule, "State Socialism," and political reforms that
in themselves promise no relative advance, economic or political, to the
working class.

In a recent congress of the French Party, Jaurès protested against a
statement of Lagardelle's that Socialism was opposed to democracy.
"Democracy," Lagardelle answered, "corresponds to an historical movement
which has come to an end; syndicalism is an anti-democratic movement to
the extent that it is post-democratic. Syndicalism comes after
democracy; it perfects the life which democracy was powerless to
organize." It is difficult to understand why Lagardelle persists in
saying that a movement which thus supplements democracy, which does what
democracy was claiming to do, and which is expected to supersede it,
should on this account be considered as "anti-democratic." Socialism
fights the "State Socialists" and opposes those whose democracy is
merely political, but it is attacking not their democracy or their
"State Socialism," but their capitalism.

"Political society," says Lagardelle, "being the organization of the
coercive power of the State, that is to say, of authority and the
hierarchy, corresponds to an economic régime which has authority and the
hierarchy as its base."[265] This proposition (the truth of which all
Socialists would recognize in so far as it applies to political society
in its present form) seems sufficient to Lagardelle to justify his
conclusion that we can no more expect Socialist results through the
State, than we could by association with capitalism. He does not agree
with the Socialist majority that, while capitalism embodies a ruling
class whose services may be dispensed with, the State is rather a
machine or a system which corresponds not so much to capitalism, as to
the system and machinery of industry which capitalism controls.

Another and closely related idea of the syndicalists is that all
political parties, as well as governments, necessarily become the tools
of their leaders, that they always become "machines," bureaucratically
organized like governments. Lagardelle adopts Rousseau's view that the
essence of representative government (all existing governments that are
not autocratic being representative) is "the inactivity of the citizen"
and urges that political parties, like society in general, are divided
between the governing and the governed. While there is much truth in
this analysis,--this being the situation which it is sought to correct
both in government and within political parties by such means as direct
legislation and the recall,--Lagardelle does not seem to see that
exactly the same problem exists also in the labor unions. For among the
most revolutionary as among the most conservative of labor organizations
the leaders tend to acquire the same relative and irresponsible power as
they do in political parties. The difficulty of making democracy work
inheres in all organizations. It must be met and overcome; it cannot be
avoided.

Lagardelle's distrust of political democracy goes even further than a
mere criticism of representative government. He thinks the citizen
to-day unable to judge general political questions at all,--so that in
his view even direct democracy would be useless. It is for this reason,
he says, that parties have it as an aim to act and to think in the
citizen's place. Lagardelle's remedy is not the establishment of direct
democracy in government or in parties, but the organization of the
people to act together on "the concrete things of life"; that is, on
questions of hours, wages, and other conditions closely associated with
their daily life and in his view adapted to their understanding. He does
not seem to see that such questions lead almost immediately, not only to
such larger issues as are already presented by the leading political
parties, but also to the still larger ones proposed by the Socialists.

Others of the syndicalists' criticisms, if taken literally, would
undoubtedly bring them in the end to the position occupied by
non-Socialist and anti-Socialist labor unionists. Lagardelle frankly
places labor union action not only above political action, which
Socialists, under many circumstances, may justify, but above Socialism
itself. "Even if the dreams of the future of syndicalistic Socialism
should never be realized,--none of us has the secret of history,--it
would suffice for me to give it my full support, to know that it is at
the moment I am speaking the essential agent of civilization in the
world." Here is a labor union partisanship which is certainly not
equaled by the average conservative labor leader, who has the modesty to
realize that there are other powerful forces making for progress aside
from the movement to which he happens to belong.

The syndicalists, or those who act along similar lines in other
countries, have brought new life into the Socialist movement; their
criticism has forced it to consider some neglected questions, and has
contributed new ideas which are winning acceptance. The basis of their
view is that the working people cannot win by mere numbers or
intelligence, but must have a practical power to organize along
radically new lines and an ability to create new social institutions
independently of capitalist opposition or aid.


Lagardelle writes: "There is nothing in syndicalism which can
recall the dogmatism of orthodox Socialism. The latter has summed
up its wisdom in certain abstract immovable formulas which it
intends willy-nilly to impose on life.... Syndicalism, on the
contrary, depends on the continually renewed and spontaneous
creations of life itself, on the perpetual renewing of ideas, which
cannot become fixed into dogmas as long as they are not detached
from their trunk. We are not dealing with a body of intellectuals,
with a Socialist clergy charged to think for the working class, but
with the working class itself, which through its own experience is
incessantly discovering new horizons, unseen perspectives,
unsuspected methods,--in a word, new sources of rejuvenation."[266]


Here, at least, is a valuable warning to Socialism against what its most
revolutionary and enthusiastic adherents have always felt is its chief
danger.

The fact that lends force to Lagardelle's argument is that the average
workingman has a much more important, necessary, and continuous function
to fill as a member of the labor unions than as a member of the
Socialist parties. It still remains a problem of the first magnitude to
every Socialist party to give to its members an equally powerful daily
interest in that work.



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Keywords: to-day, between, classes, reforms, rather, revolutionary, through, evolution, normal, people
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