Edward Raymond Turner.

Europe since 1870 online

. (page 7 of 49)
Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 7 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the eighteenth century the world had seemed full of
abuses, and they had stated the means by which men
could be given their natural equality and the happiness
which ought to be their due; these doctrines had been re-
stated in the French Revolution, and attempt made to
carry them into effect. Hence had come civil equality.
But the radical reformers of the Revolution had clearly
perceived that the better state which they hoped for could
never be attained unless economic equality came also.
Presently the effects of the Industrial Revolution were
apparent, and economic inequalities appeared still more
striking. To remedy these conditions old doctrines were
restated so strikingly that they have never since failed of

The ideas now known as socialism did not originate in
the nineteenth century, but in some form can be traced
back very far. Plato, who perceived the inequalities of
his time, and who declared that in every city there were
two great groups, the few who had, and the many who did
not have, always at war with each other, described in his
Republic an ideal state in which there should be community
of goods and all fare alike. Others before him had dreamed
of this, and the idea was handed on down. ^Yhen Chris-
tianity was established something of communism was
adopted. " If thou wilt be perfect," said Jesus to a certain


ideas in
earlier times



In the

in the

one, "go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.'*
Holding of property in common for all the members came
to be the rule of organization in the early Church as it
was in the later monastic societies; but as time went on it
was not retained in the general organization of the Catholic
Church. In 1360 John Ball and others preached to Eng-
hsh villeins that in the beginning all men were equal and
that serfdom ought to be abolished. The doctrine of
communism was again memorably stated in the sixteenth
century by the Englishman, Sir Thomas More, who de-
scribed the blessed country of Utopia where community of
goods prevailed. During the period of the Reformation
there was some attempt to realize this, especially in
places where the Anabaptists were in control. During the
seventeenth century in England certain Levellers arose
to preach that all men should have equal position. In the
eighteenth century French philosophic writers again ex-
pounded the doctrine. In 1748 Montesquieu recalled the
communism of the Republic of Plato, declared that the
rich obtained their wealth by taking from others, suggested
that the State should divide great fortunes, and asserted
that in return for their labor the State owed food, cloth-
ing, and a healthful living to all of its citizens. Rousseau,
who learned much from Montesquieu, asserted in his
Discourse Concerning Inequality among Men (1754) that in
the state of nature, before the time of private property,
all men were free and held the property in common.

In the French Revolution the disciples of Rousseau and
his fellows, both Girondins and Jacobins, held similar ideas;
and, though these ideas had almost no actual result, yet
during the most extreme part of the Revolution some at-
tempt was made to put them into effect. One of the
Girondists asserted that equality would come only if
fortunes were equally divided by law, and if laws were
passed to prevent inequalities in the future. In 1792
Robespierre declared that property held in common by all



of society was indispensable. "The French Revolution,"
said Sylvain IMarechal in 1796, in his Manijcste de.s Kgaux
(Proclamation of Equals), "is but the forerunner of an-
other revolution much greater . . . which will be
the last . . . we move forward to something more
sublime and just, the common weal and comnmnily of
goods. No more private ownership of land, the land be-
longs to no one." By this time reaction was already
under way, and the bourgeois Directory was in control.
Against this government Babeuf, who had asserted belief
in complete equality and community of property, headed
a conspiracy in 1796. His scheme, which at once came
to naught with his capture and execution, had been the
establishment of a state in which private property should
not exist, and in which the commonwealth, holding all
property, should direct all the work of its citizens, dividing
their tasks among them, and, if necessary, compelling men
to do the work assigned. Actually, the course of the
Revolution brought it about that private property in
France presently came to be divided among a larger num-
ber of proprietors than before. From France communistic
doctrines had spread over into England, but no substantial
results were apparent.

For the most part the communistic theories of the Old
Regime and the Revolution had to do with landed prop-
erty, but during the first half of the nineteenth century
the Industrial Revolution produced in western Europe
such large results, such power and wealth in the hands of
capitahsts and factory owners, and made so evident the
lowly dependence of a multitude of workers, that again the
ideas of better arrangement of wealth and of regulation
by the State were taken up. They were directed now
more against the bourgeoisie. In France the sale on easy
terms to the peasants of the lands of the nobles and the
Church was bringing to the mass of the people better
chance than the people of any nation ever before had had.

by law

The In-



Socialism in

In France

But in Great Britain, and also in lands near by, the In-
dustrial Revolution was now creating a new proletariat,
for whom other measures were needed.

In England, where industrial change had been greatest,
came the first important development in this period.
Early in the nineteenth century Robert Owen, a Scotch-
man, developed at New Lanark a model factory com-
munity, where the workers shared in the profits of their
labors. He believed that it would be possible for in-
dustrial and agricultural life everywhere to be so arranged.
The enterprise at New Lanark was very successful, but
attempts to set up similar communities elsewhere usually
failed. It was generally found that a leader with the
enterprise and the skill necessary to win such success
would only work for himself, while the workers, much
pleased to share in the profits, were unwilling or unable
to assume any part of the losses. Later on, however,
cooperative enterprises and stores were established, not
only in Great Britain but elsewhere. Owen himself went
beyond his undertaking at New Lanark, constantly inter-
esting himself in assisting the poorer classes and reforming
society. He tried to establish various communities in
which property and interests should be in common. He
was afterward regarded as the founder of socialism in
England. Indeed, it was in connection with his efforts
that the term "socialism" arose. He himself may have
employed it, but as early as 1835 one of his disciples is
known to have used the word "socialist" {socius, comrade
or ally). In the following years socialism permeated the
ideals of the Chartist reformers, but died down with the
failure of their schemes.

During this time the Industrial Revolution was develop-
ing also in France, where factories, slums, proletariat, all
attracted increasing attention. Thoughtful and humane
men began to advocate fundamental reform, going back
to the ideas of Rousseau, Robespierre, and Babeuf . Saint-



Simon, later on regarded as the founder of French
socialism, who developed his ideas especially in the years
1817-1 S'^o, proposed that all property should be owned
by the State, that inheritance should be abolished, and that
industry should be re^^ulated by men of science. Fourier
believed that reform should be made through establish-
ing industrial communities, in which the profits would be
divided among capital, labor, and talent. Somewhat
later appeared Louis Blanc, who published his Organisa-
tion du Travail (Organization of Labor) in 1839. He
condemned industrial competition, and taught that the
State should institute "social" workshops, in which the
workmen should choose their managers and divide the
gains. When the Revolution of 1848 suddenly broke out
in Paris, the socialists were for the moment so strong that
Blanc and other leaders became members of the provisional
government established. Socialism had for some time
been growing among the masses in French cities, and
radical reforms had been asked for. Blanc and his as-
sociates were now ranged with the republicans, since they
believed that the establishment of a republic would bring
best chance of obtaining the social reforms which they
wished for. He declared that private property ought
to be replaced bj' public, that everyone should have
opportunity to work, and that industry should be con-
trolled not under capitalists but in cooperative societies
under the workmen therein engaged.

The great majority of the people of France were op-
posed to such schemes then as later, but something was
accomplished for the moment. A commission was es-
tablished under Blanc to consider the reforms which
socialists wanted. Blanc had advocated cooperative work-
shops, for which, at the beginning, the necessary capital
was to be advanced by the State, and in which the enter-
prise would be controlled by the workmen — something
like what the syndicalists desired sixty years later. But


Louis Blanc
in 1848



The Ateliers

Decline of
the older

while his commission deHberated about various measures
— a ten-hour working day, assistance for workmen, and
better conditions for them— the government put into opera-
tion a scheme resembhng what he had urged, but in char-
acter actually quite different, and something he would
never have approved. National Workshops {Ateliers
Nationaux) were set up, in which the State was to be the
employer. This was, indeed, nothing more than a gigantic
system of poor relief, for men were put to work, irrespec-
tive of their training, at digging and then filling up the
holes, and at similar tasks, the State paying them the uni-
form wage of two francs a day. Many applied for this
work, there was not enough to go around, and great
confusion and dissatisfaction arose. The entire scheme,
with which the authorities associated Blanc's name, in-
curred disrepute, and when the government, now con-
trolled by the bourgeoisie, felt itself stronger, the National
Workshops were abolished. Then the socialist and radical
workingmen of Paris rose in furious revolt. After terrible
street fighting they were completely crushed, and in 1848
as in 1796 the bourgeoisie remained completely triumphant.
Thus it is evident that ideas of socialism or commimism,
even more than the doctrine of evolution, had had a long
development before the middle of the nineteenth century,
and that many thinkers who contributed to its teachings
continued to influence men after this time. But by 1848
the socialism of Owen, Fourier, Saint-Simon, and their
followers was visibly sunk in decay; their efforts had
failed, and it was apparent that their teachings had not
produced the results they hoped for. Chartism in Eng-
land was dying out. The schemes of Louis Blanc had
failed in Paris. After 1840 many radical workmen had
lost faith in the doctrines of these teachers, and some
of them began to believe that reforms by the government,
and remedies brought by philanthropists or conducted
by "men of science" would help them little. The better-



ment of the condition of the proletariat, it was said, must
come through the efforts of itself. The doctrines which
such men held vaguely and not yet well defined had to
some extent been stated by the German, Wilhelm Weit-
ling, and by the Frenchman, Etienne Cabet who in 1840
published his Voyage en Icarie, a philosophic romance
which described the communism of an ideal state. Pres-
ently German refugees, followers of this workingmen's
movement, founded the Communist League, a secret
society, with headquarters in London. It was at this
point that Marx, the great expounder of modern socialist
doctrines, appeared.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) was of Jewish descent, and
came of a middle-class family in Rhenish Prussia. He
was destined for the law, but his own inclinations carried
him to philosophy and historical studies. He was at
first a liberal bourgeois, in the days of political repression
in Germany before the Revolution of 1848, Soon he found
it expedient to leave the country. In 1843 he went to
Paris. There he met Friedrich Engels, his companion and
co-worker thereafter. Through study of the teachings
of Robert Owen, and through acquaintance with Louis
Blanc in Paris, Marx became a social reformer and an
advocate of the workingman's cause. In 1847 Marx and
Engels attended a meeting of the Communist League
held in London, The views which they there stated made
much impression, and they were asked to draw up a work-
ing programme for the League. This they did, and in 1848
appeared the Communist Manifesto, a small pamphlet
containing in brief form their socialist doctrines. "Let
the ruling classes tremble," they said. "Workmen of all
lands, unite." In 1849 Marx, having returned to Prussia,
was expelled from the country. Presently along with his
wife he took refuge in London, and remained in England
till his death. During these long years, in the midst of
poverty, discouragement, and meager living, sustained by


Karl Marx




Finds refuge
in England

of Marx

His writings

the devotion of his wife and the sjmipathy of followers and
friends, haunting, as many a scholar since has done, the
round room of the British Museum in quest of materials
for research, writing in his rooms, often in the midst of
the children whom he loved, shouting, tumbling, harness-
ing him as he wTote and whipping him in the midst of
laughter and shouts, he composed his profound and exten-
sive studies which constitute a landmark in the develop-
ment of historical and economic writing. His chief work.
Das Kapital (Capital), was pubhshed in 1867.

In 1862 Marx took the lead in founding the Interna-
tional Working Men's Association, often known as the
Internationale, which brought together in one organization
the communist organizations of different countries.
National feelings were ever growing stronger, despite the
new economic teachings, and it was found impossible to
hold together the workmen of all countries in one body,
so that the Association soon broke down, though interna-
tional meetings came together from time to time later on.
By 1870 belief in communism had made considerable
progress, though in the next year it received a decisive
setback in the collapse of the Commune of Paris, which
Marx had approved. But communism, or socialism, as it
was called again later on, had received vast impetus and
new meaning from the teachings of Engels and Marx.
Everywhere the Communist Manifesto had attracted atten-
tion. Das Kapital had not directly influenced many, but
the ideas of the master were being reduced to simple
form, popularized and spread broadcast, as new teachings
and great doctrines usually are, by numerous disciples
who proclaimed them again and again. In another genera-
tion they had become mighty factors in the intellectual
and economic life of the world; and when the century
ended, it was seen that the teachings of Marx — like the
exhortations of Luther and Calvin, like the theories of
Rousseau, like the doctrine of evolution taught by Dar-

of Marx and


win — had profoundly affected the minds of great numbers
of men.

According to Marx there had always been a few at the
top ruling and exploiting the many beneath them. Be- Engds
tween the two groups there had been a struggle from of
old. In ancient times the contest was between masters
and slaves; slavery had gradually disappeared, but then
society was divided into the lords above and the great body
of the serfs beneath them; gradually serfdom had dis-
appeared in most places, as nobles and lords lost their
power, but from the ruins of feudal society had come the
modern bourgeois society, and the age-long struggle was
still being fought out between capitalists and industrial
workers. "Society as a whole," said the Communist
Manifesto, "is more and more splitting up into two great
hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each
other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat." In the end the Struggle of


upper class, the workingmen's enemy and master, would
be completely overthrown. Now the workers toiled for
their masters in factories and were huddled together in
tenements and slums, but their number was great, and if
they could unite with the workers in the country they
might some day get the government within their control.
Capital and wealth were held by a few; they were destined
to be concentrated in still fewer hands; then, finally, when
the people had control, all would be taken over by the
State for the people. Marx declared that upper-class
capitalists largely owned as private property the wealth
which had been created by the workers, and that with
the destruction of the bourgeoisie and their organization,
this would be brought to an end and capital be the com-
mon property of the people. The Manifesto stated in
simple form some of the measures which it was hoped
would be ordained: abolition of property in land, all rents
to be taken for the public; a heavy progressive or grad-
uated income tax; abolition of inheritance; centralization




Their char-

of credit in the hands of the State, the State setting up a
national bank with exclusive monopoly; all means of
communication and transport to be centralized, controlled
by the State; State ownership of factories and instruments
of production; equal liability of all to labor — establish-
ment of "industrial armies"; free education of all children
in public schools, and abolition of children's factory labor.
"In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and
class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which
the free development of each is the condition for the free
development of all." "The proletarians," said the Mani-
festo, "have nothing to lose but their chains. They have
a world to win."

It was the work of these communist teachers, and
especially of Marx, to take the earlier socialist specula-
tions, and give them firmer foundation and greater dis-
tinctness. The doctrines of Marx were no mere abstrac-
tions conceived in his own mind nor brilliant speculations
based upon foundations which he merely assumed. For
years he carried on tireless research in the past records
of industrial history and development, and whether or not
his deductions were correct, he deduced from his study
of the past his interpretation of the present and prophecies
for the future. His conclusion that all history recorded a
struggle between classes was plausible enough, however
true it may be. His prediction that the mass of the people
would certainly control the governments of their states
later on was in accord with the splendid dreams of the
democracy then developing, which since his time have
developed so much further still. His conclusion that
under the control of the people communism would be
established for the betterment of the lot of the people
had for more than two thousand years been the dream of
not a few philosophers who hoped to ameliorate the lot
of mankind. His idea that the proletariats of the several
countries had interests in common and should live together



in amity and accord was but an aspect of the scheme
which many noble spirits have cherished for the attainment
of peace and things better.

The ideas of Marx and other great sociahsts were carried
further and sometimes perverted by rasher and more
ardent spirits, whose declarations filled contemporaries
with aversion and horror. Socialism soon came under
the stigma of intending to break up the family, abolish
marriage, bring community of women, divide all prop-
erty equally, and do away with the Christian religion.
There was good reason to think that if those who cher-
ished these ideals could, they would bring them to pass
by force through sudden overturning and revolution.
Accordingly, socialism, like the doctrine of evolution, had
to encounter not merely the conservative instinct of the
time in which it appeared, but also the repugnance and
dread of many who were frightened at radical wildness.
For not all of this was Marx responsible. It should be
remembered also that, whatever his mistakes, and some
of them only time will determine, his motives were of the
best. He was filled with a passionate humanity and
desire to make the lot of his fellowmen better. "The
poor always ye have with you," was the maxim which
had come down through the ages; but these socialists con-
ceived of poverty as a disease in the State, curable, and
preventable, indeed, if the State were but organized better.

By 1870 socialism had not achieved great results, and
the Commune of Paris next year was to strike the people
of Europe with horror. In the latter part of the nine-
teenth century, however, increasingly would its influence
grow. Many of the socialists themselves would gradually
become less extreme, and expect to bring their reforms
about slowly, in consequence of perception by most people
that their doctrines were best. Some of their ideas in
course of time would be adopted by governments them-
selves and put into effect, for the most part, it would seem.

More radical

of socialist



Doubt con-


The Greek



for the better. Generally, however, their fundamental
doctrine, that private property should be abolished and
that all should be held by the State for the use of its
people, would find slow acceptance. It would be possible
to point out that communism had existed probably in
every primitive society, and that if the history of man-
kind extended over 100,000 years, perhaps much the
greater part of this time had known the existence of com-
munistic society. It was certain, however, that in the
development of what most people conceived to be the
better civilization of the more recent centuries, always
common ownership had yielded to the system of private
holding. Whether, then, communism was well adapted
for advanced peoples, whether it could ever be put into
operation for the welfare of the majority, in 1870 as in
1920, was for most people hidden in doubt and the future.

In the midst of vast revolutions thus going on in the
realm of general ideas most people continued to hold
to the philosophy and beliefs that had been handed
do\Mi by their Church, In the past, religion had always
been the greatest of intellectual forces affecting mankind,
embodying science, philosophy, explanation of the pres-
ent and hope for the future. In the Middle Ages the
Christian Church, gradually taking the best of the past
and the present, had become the most important of all the
agents of civilization and progress. It had seldom been
difficult for its ministers to hold the affection and ad-
herence of their followers, though always the bold and
speculative had struck out on new paths for themselves.
Especially was this so now during the strange and won-
drous time of the nineteenth century. During this time
the three parts of Christianity in Europe met the changes
about them with varying fortune.

Least affected then and for a long time after was the
Greek Catholic or Orthodox Church of the East, which
counted among its adherents most of the Russians, the


Greeks, and most of the South Slavs of the Balkan coun- The Church
try. This Chiirfh, lar-cly controlled by the Russian of the Slavs
Government and working in obedience to the tsar, had
long gone forward unwavering in its course, with ancient
ritual, and ceremonies of the past, little troubled by
revolts from within and scarcely touched by influence
from without. The Russian people were still oiF on one
side of the Continent, outside the great currents that

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 7 of 49)