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making requires even to-day a large measure of skill,
special knowledge and precision. The enactment of a
wise law or regulation presupposes a careful deliberation
over its main object, and the minute and searching ex-
amination of its separate provisions. In many cases the
original project is modified and improved before adoption,
and the law as finally enacted is often the result of a com-
promise, more or less satisfactory to all. In all pro-
gressive legislation, furthermore, there must be a certain
consistency and continuity of idea, — a system ; and this
feature will be more essential to a socialist legislature,
which will have to deal with the most vital problems of
the nation, than it is to modern legislative bodies.

But such systematic, planful and elastic legislation
cannot be introduced by popular Initiative and cannot
be enacted by popular Referendum. The Initiative is in
its nature spasmodic and often inconsistent, and the
Referendum is too rigid and categorical for a regular
engine of the popular will. The Initiative and the Ref-
erendum are excellent institutions in conjunction with
parliaments. As preventives and correctives of legislative
abuses they are indispensable to every true democracy;
they cannot, however, do away with representative gov-
ernment.

But if representative assemblies should be retained under
socialism, they will at the same time probably be modi-
fied very largely to meet the requirements of greater



SOCIALISM AND THE STATE 14I

democracy and to comply with the new needs and func-
tions of the commonwealth.

The Initiative and Referendum will probably be
established in conjunction with all legislative bodies, and
will be coupled with the right of the constituents to recall
their representative at all times. The representatives of
the people will furthermore be elected by the votes of all
adult citizens, male and female, and their powers will
naturally be curtailed by the limited functions of a so-
cialist parliament.

What will be these functions, and in what manner will
they be discharged?

The functions of national government to-day may be
roughly divided under two main heads — those of a gen-
eral administrative or political character, represented by
the departments of foreign affairs, national defense, treas-
ury, justice, education, insurance, health, fine arts, etc.,
and those of a character, prevalently industrial or economic,
such as the administration of posts, railroads, telegraphs,
canals, mines and other national industries and the de-
partments of agriculture, public works, etc.

In the modern state the political functions largely pre-
ponderate, and the economic functions occupy but a sub-
ordinate position. This is natural in view of the fact that
the political functions of the present state are largely
exercised for the benefit of the ruling classes. Under
socialism the industrial activities of the government are
bound to increase, and the political activities to diminish.

The division of the governmental functions into those
of a political and those of an economic nature has given
rise to the hypothesis that the socialist parliament will re-
main bi-cameral — the political chamber taking the place



142 THE SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY AND MOVEMENT

of the lower house and the economic chamber that of the
upper house.

"Does any one believe that the earth will cease to re-
volve, if the present upper and lower houses of parliament,
whose division does not correspond to anything, shall be
replaced by a political chamber and an economic cham-
ber?" queries B. Malon, and he continues: "The po-
litical chamber might be elected by universal suffrage as
our present representative assemblies; but the economic
chamber, the larger and more important of the two,
should be the result of professional elections, with proper
regard to the special qualifications of the elected, so that
it should truly represent the producers and workers of all
categories." ^

Anton Menger suggests a somewhat similar ar-
rangement. "It will be expedient," he asserts, "that
legislation in the socialist state shall be enacted by two
chambers: one to be elective and to be subject to the
democratic tendencies of the people, the other to be aristo-
cratic, but to be composed not of the most useless, but of
the really best members of the state;" and such "best
members," according to Menger, are to be the highest
active or retired state officials and the leading representa-
tives of the sciences, arts and literature.^

The notion that the industrial affairs of the socialist
state will not be administered by officers elected by gen-
eral popular vote, but by men chosen by the members of
each separate trade and calling for their experience and
special qualifications, is generally accepted by the socialists.

Wilhelm Liebknecht suggests that the most important

^ " Precis de Socialisme," pp. 300, 301.
* "Neue Staatslehre," pp. 179, 180.



SOCIALISM AND THE STATE 1 43

work of legislation and administration be performed by
committees of experts instead of parliaments/ and Annie
Besant, in a somewhat vivid flight of imagination, says:
"One may guess that in each nation all the Boards of
communal authorities will ultimately be represented in
some central Executive or Industrial Ministry; that the
Minister of Agriculture, or Mineral Industries, or Textile
Industries, and so on, will have relations with similar
officers in other lands; and that thus, internationally as
well as nationally, cooperation will replace competition." ^

* "Ueber die politische Stellung der Sozialdemokratie," 9th Edition,
Berlin, 1893, p. 5.

- "Industry under Socialism," in Fabian Essays, American Edition,
Boston, 1894, p. 147.



CHAPTER VI

SOCIALISM AND POLITICS

Politics, Representative Government and Political Parties

Practical politics may be defined as the art or action
of guiding or influencing the poHcy of a government, or
the effort to obtain control of or influence over the powers
of government. *

And it is essential for the first part of this definition
that the guidance and influence to which it refers, should
not be exercised by the organized government itself, but
by persons or parties outside of it. The difference be-
tween Administration and Politics is just this, that the
former consists in the direct management of public affairs
by the persons officially vested with the power and charged
with the duty to manage them, while the latter is an
indirect management secured through influence or power
over the public oflicial.

In absolute monarchies the powers of government are
concentrated, at least theoretically, in the person of the
autocrat; hence the political influence and functions of the
country are confined to the small circle of persons who

* "In the narrower and more usual sense, Politics is the act or vocation
of guiding or influencing the poHcy of a government through the organi-
zation of a party among its citizens." — Century Dictionary.

"The administration of public affairs or the conduct of political mat-
ters so as to carry elections and secure public offices." — Standard
Dictionary.

144



SOCIALISM AND POLITICS 1 45

alone have the opportunity to come in frequent contact
with the person of the monarch — the high nobiHty and
the dignitaries of the church. PoHtics in such countries
is conducted principally through the medium of court
cliques; its objects are usually the personal advantages
and preferment of a set of individuals or a caste; its
methods are those of intrigue and conspiracy, and the
climax of such politics is a palace or dynastic revolution.

Countries of a constitutional form of government, on
the other hand, are bound to evolve politics of an entirely
different type. The head of a constitutional government,
whether he be designated king or president, is but one
wheel in the administrative machinery of the state. His
powers are limited by a constitution, and the active and
vital functions of government are vested in bodies of
popular representatives — the national parliaments, state
legislatures and municipal councils. In order to guide or
influence the policies of such a government, it is no longer
sufficient to gain the good graces of the chief executive;
it becomes necessary to enlist the support or obedience of
a majority of the representative assembly.

This shifting of the field of political operation en-
tails a chain of radical changes in the methods, aims and
objects of modern politics. The representative assemblies
are large bodies of men, frequently of divergent views and
interests ; their power is temporary, and its continuance de-
pends upon the confidence of their constituencies; their
deliberations and actions are public and open to the
scrutiny of the people; their actions must, therefore^ be
such as will be reasonably certain to meet with the ap-
proval of at least that portion of the population whose
support is indispensable to their public careers.

L



146 THE SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY AND MOVEMENT

Under normal conditions the individual and unsup-
ported political intriguer, plotting for his own preferment
or for that of the small clique of his friends or confederates,
is thus obviously powerless to influence a popular govern-
ment to an appreciable degree. He disappears in politics
with , the disappearance of the absolute state, and his
place is taken by the large body of citizens, banded to-
gether permanently for the purpose of controlling the
government, ostensibly in the interests of the people as a
whole according to their views of the needs of the people,
but actually in the interest of a given class or section of
the population, as we shall endeavor to show presently.
The most direct way to control the government which
naturally suggests itself to such a body of citizens, is to
place men of their own midst in the administration, and
its ultimate aim is, therefore, to elect a majority of the
representatives in the popular assembHes and of other
governmental and public functionaries. Thus arises the
modern political party with its strong and ramified or-
ganization, its platforms, issues and electoral campaigns.
And in practice we observe that the origin of organized
political parties coincides in each country with the estab-
lishment of a parliamentary regime. "They are a neces-
sary evil in free government," as De Tocqueville puts
it.»

The British Parliament has largely served as a model
for all other constitutional countries, and the life of that
body in its modern form, as the real repository of the
political power of the country, may be dated from the
meeting of the Long Parliament in 1640, when the House
of Commons deprived the crown of its two most essential

* Alexis de Tocqueville, "Democracy in the United States," p. i86.



SOCIAIJSM AND POLITICS 1 4/

prerogatives — the power to levy taxes and the right to
dissolve Parliament indefinitely, and to the Bill of Rights,
which practically vested all legislative functions of the
United Kingdom in Parliament. Prior to the Long
Parliament there were no fixed poHtical parties in the
modern sense in England, but the next year already wit-
nesses the formation of the first two distinct and well-
defined parties of England, the Cavaliers and the Round-
heads; and these parties, subsequently known as Whigs
and Tories, and still later as Liberals and Conservatives,
gradually changing their aims and methods of warfare
with the changed conditions of the advancing centuries,
reappear as the leading factors in all political struggles of
England, from the stormy days of the Long Parliament
down to our own time.

In France there were no organized political parties
prior to the revolutionary Constituent Assembly of 1789,
but when the first National Assembly or parHament met
in 1 791, after the adoption of a constitution for the re-
public, it found itself at once divided into at least four
distinct political parties — the Royalists, who yearned for
a return to the old regime; the Feuillants or constitutional
monarchists, the Girondists or moderate republicans, and
the Montagnards or radical republicans.

With the accession of Napoleon and the smothering of
parliament and constitution, political party life disappears
in France, but with the restoration and the new grant of a
constitution and parliament, the new political parties of
the Moderates and Independents immediately spring into
being.

In Germany the modern political parties date partly
from the days of the Frankfort Assembly in 1848, and



148 THE SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY AND MOVEMENT

partly from the establishment of the North German Union
in 1867.

The colonies of the United States knew little of politi-
cal parties, and held such institutions in scant esteem.
"Throughout the eighteenth century," remarks Henry
Jones Ford, " party was regarded as a gangrene, a cancer
which patriotic statesmen should combine to eradicate." *
But immediately following the Declaration of Independ-
ence, and even before the formal adoption of the national
constitution of the new republic, the Federalists and
Anti-FederaHsts appeared in the public arena as full-
fledged political parties, and while these parties have
since repeatedly changed their issues and watchwords,
and have finally settled on the party names of Republican
and Democratic, they rule to-day the poHtics of the
United States as absolutely and effectively as any political
parties in the world.

In Italy the modern political parties appear imme-
diately after the accomplishment of the unification of
the country as a constitutional monarchy. In Austria,
Hungary, Belgium and Holland the grant or conquest of
a constitution was in every case regularly followed by the
formation of political parties; in Russia the grant of a
mere phantom of a constitution was the immediate signal
for the spontaneous creation of a number of political
parties.

Constitutions, representative government and political
parties are thus intimately and indissolubly correlated
with each other; they have a common origin, and together
they constitute one historical phase in the development of

* "The Rise and Growth of American Politics," New York, 1898,
p. 90.



SOCIALISM AND POLITICS 1 49

our political institutions — the phase corresponding on the
whole to the modern or capitalist economic system.

Just as the fixed absolute state is the most appropriate
form of government of a rigorous feudal society, so is the
flexible representative system the ideal form of govern-
ment of the modern state of free competitive producers.

The rise of representative government and political
parties marks in all countries the ascendency of the
modern industrial classes over the landowning classes
formerly in power.

It is true we find in history abundant mention of par-
liaments and popular assemblies antedating by centuries
the modern capitalist system, and some of them tracing
their origin to hoary antiquity. But while these institu-
tions may have had a remote influence on the shaping
and forms of the modern parliaments, they certainly
had nothing in common with their present substance and
function.

The essential features of every modem representative
assembly may be summarized as follows : —

1. It is an independent governmental organ, whose ex-
istence and permanence are guaranteed by a constitution
which represents the supreme law of the land.

2. It meets at regular intervals.

3. It has the power to grant or veto the taxes or budget
of the state.

4. It is either vested with supreme legislative powers
or it acts as a check upon the legislative powers of the
crown.

5. The cabinet ministers are directly or indirectly under
its control.

6. As a rule it is bi-cameral.



I50 THE SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY AND MOVEMENT

7. The lower house, at least, is representative in char^
acter, and its members are chosen by and accountable
to the citizens entitled to vote.

Neither the mediaeval English Parliament, nor any
other popular assembly of the early or middle periods of
our era possessed these attributes.

"The mediaeval Parliament," says Edward Jenks,
" represented the estates of the realm, viz. : nobles, clergy,
yeomen or peasants, and craftsmen.

"But two things about it are well worth noticing: — •

" {a) It was not, in any ordinary sense of the term, a
popular institution. On the other hand, for many years
after its appearance, it was intensely unpopular, both
with 'constituencies' and representatives. . . . All hated
it, because a Parliament invariably meant taxation. The
members themselves disliked the odium of consenting to
taxes which their constituents would have to pay. Only
by the most stringent pressure of the Crown were Parlia-
ments maintained during the first century of their exist-
ence; and the best proof of this assertion lies in the fact,
that in those countries in which the Crown was weak.
Parliament ultimately ceased to assemble. The notion
that Parliaments were the result of a spontaneous demo-
cratic movement can be held by no one who has studied,
ever so slightly, the facts of history.

" {h) Parliament, at any rate the representative part of
it, was, in the origin, concerned solely with the granting of
money. The nobles were, it is true, hereditary councilors
of the Crown; but the clerical proctors, and the members
of the counties and boroughs, could claim no such position.
There was no pretense of such a thing in the early days of
Parliament." It was liability, and not privilege, which was



SOCIALISM AND POLITICS 151

the basis of Parliamentary representation; it was the old
idea of seizure of the village elders (for ransom), carried
out on a magnificent scale." ^

These rather humiliating functions of the early Par-
liaments are by no means peculiar to England. The
French States-General were convoked by the king when-
ever he needed money. Their duties consisted in making
grants, and their rights in presenting grievances or peti-
tions, and the king as a rule forced the former and ignored
the latter. The three Estates of France, the Nobility, the
Clergy and the Commons or Third Estate, formed three
independent chambers, deliberating and voting separately,
the decision of any of the two chambers being binding on
the third. And as the Nobility and Clergy were exempt
from taxation and otherwise mostly united in interest as
against the burgesses and peasantry, the Assembly of
Estates usually resulted in a hesivy tax imposed by the
first two Estates upon the third. Once in a while the
rebellious representatives of the "third estate" would re-
fuse to "register" the royal edict for new taxes. In such
cases the king would personally appear in the session and
compel the recalcitrant commons to register his edicts.
This peculiar procedure was for some reason styled "Hi
de justice'' — bed of justice.

The mediaeval German Diet was composed of the per-
sonal representatives of the numerous reigning princes of
the empire and a few representatives of the cities. It had
no important or useful functions to perform and no real
power over the country.

The early Polish Diet was merely a council of the nobles,
and the early Russian Assemblies were convoked on

* Edward Jenks, "History of Politics," London, 1900, pp. 132, 133.



152 THE SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY AND MOVEMENT

critical occasion, ordinarily for the purpose of furnishing
the government with money and arms.

As to the ancient Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon assemblies,
the witenagemotes, they have even less claim to the title
of parliament in the modern sense than the mediieval
bodies. They were practically nothing but councils of
elders or chiefs, with little or no binding powers.

And just as the pre-capitalistic "parliaments" have
nothing in common with the modern institution of that
name, so have the pre-capitahstic "parties" no affinity
with the political parties of the modern type.

Historians sometimes designate as parties the followers
of hostile princes contending for a throne, or the scattered
adherents of a religious creed or even a scientific theory.
In that rather loose sense, parties have, of course, existed
at all times. But it requires more than the mere common
adherence to a person or theory to make a political party.

No aggregation of individuals can be properly styled a
political party unless they are bound together by a com-
mon social and political ideal and by planned and organized
action aimed at the maintenance or realization of that
ideal; the two most vital features of every political party
are: unity of principle and unity of action.

And here we arrive at the most baffling aspect of the
political party — the mysterious union of principle, which
lends harmony and continuity to the modern political or-
ganization, and enables it to survive all changing political
situations and issues. It cannot be mere casual agreement
on abstract ideas and theories, for frequently we see a
party as a whole abandon its original views and adopt
new and altogether different grounds and issues. The
history of the last century is replete with instances of



SOCIALISM AND POLITICS I 53

parties which were formed for specific political objects,
and remained intact and active long after those objects
had been fully accomplished.

Nor can it be mere compatibility of temper that holds
vast masses of individuals together in definite political
parties, for every political party of any significance unites
within its fold men of all conceivable dispositions and in-
clinations.

The force that cements the members of a political party
together is obviously not to be looked for in the intellectual
or psychic world. It must be found in the more realistic
sphere of our existence — the material interests of the
special classes of modern society represented by each of
the political parties.

Classes and Class Struggles in Modern Society

One of the cardinal doctrines of modern socialism is
the doctrine of the "class struggle."

The inhabitants of every state, as was casually mentioned
in the preceding chapters, may always be divided into
several groups of persons with reference to their source of
income or mode of acquiring the material means of their
existence. Within each group the single individuals may
strive for the largest possible share of the common income,
but as against all the other elements of society, each of
such groups is interested in the maintenance and increase
of its special revenue or material wealth. Each of such
social groups constitutes a separate "class" of society,
and the characteristic features of every class are these :
its individual members are united in their general economic
interest with each other, and as a whole they are opposed



154 THE SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY AND MOVEMENT

to all other classes contending with them for their share of
the national wealth.

The existence of classes thus creates the instincts of
class solidarity and class antagonism, and the socialists
contend that the efforts of each class to maintain or improve
its position, and the resultant conflicts between them, con-
stitute the politics of the nations and make their histories.

The doctrine of the class struggle in its present finished
form was first proclaimed in " The Communist Manifesto,"
which was drafted by the principal theoretical founders of
modern socialism, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, in
1848, and is there stated in the following terse and cogent
language : —

"The (recorded) history of all hitherto existing society
is the history of class struggles.

"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and
serf, guild master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor
and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another,
carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open, fight,
that each time ended either in revolutionary reconstitution
of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending
classes.

"In the earlier epochs of history we find almost every-
where a complicated arrangement of society into various
orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient
Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in
the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild masters, jour-
neymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes,
again, subordinate gradations.

"The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from
the ruins of feudal society, has not done away with class
antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new



SOCIALISM AND POLITICS 155

conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place


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