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strongest, France, we have the reports of the mayors of


several cities ^ which afford an excellent insight into the
workings of "socialist" municipalities.

In Roubaix, a manufacturing town in Northern France,
of a population of about 125,000, the socialists were in
control of the municipal government for a number of
years. The first attention of the socialist council was given
to the task of properly bringing up the children of the poor.

"The child and its welfare, its protection against disease,
against want and against contamination, its training and
its culture," says Felix Chabrouilland, the socialist secre-
tary of the Roubaix municipality, in one of the reports
mentioned, " this has been the constant care of the socialist
council of Roubaix.

"The socialist officers began their work for the little
ones by admitting girl-mothers to the relief offered by the
bureau of charities, which up to that time had been piously
denied them. For the benefit of infants the socialist
officers provided a distribution of layettes to needy mothers.
Moreover, the bureau of medical assistance has been
reorganized, and the mothers can obtain without cost the
services of the doctor and the midwife.

"The child is born. To whom shall the mother intrust
it if she must return to the factory ?

" Before the socialists came into power, Roubaix had no
municipal creches (day nurseries). They contented them-
selves with subsidizing to a slight extent the work of private

"In 1894 the first municipal creche was started in a

* The reports appeared originally in "Le Mouvement Socialiste" and
in "Le Socialiste"; they were translated into English and published
under the title, "Socialists in French Municipalities," by Charles H.
Kerr, Chicago, 1900.


rented building in the heart of a populous district. Some
months later $10,000 was voted for building another
creche, which, opened in 1896, deserves to be taken as a
model. A third is now building, and others are under
construction. Children are received in the municipal
creches without any charge.

"The resolution establishing restaurants for school
children was passed by the socialist council on the first day
of its official existence. These restaurants, the cost of
which is borne by the school fund, are open every school
day of the year. The great majority of children are ad-
mitted without charge. The children enrolled as paying are
charged fifteen centimes a meal in the kindergartens and
twenty centimes in the primary schools. Since 1892 the
school restaurants of Roubaix have served 2,818,601 meals,
of which only 20,402 were paid for. The meal consists
of a soup, a plate of meat with vegetables, 80 grammes of
bread and a glass of beer.

"To give children food of the first quality is an excellent
thing. But some of them lack sufficient clothing. Since
the socialists have replaced the reactionaries in the mayor's
office, the bureau for clothing school children has distrib-
uted to the poor children in the secular schools 157,617
pieces of clothing, — trousers, shirts, dresses, caps, pairs
of stockings or of shoes, etc.

"By the terms of an agreement made in 1897 ^^d re-
newed in 1900, the city of Roubaix sends to the seaside
hospital of Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, a little place near Dunkirk,
the children from its common schools who are enfeebled,
anemic — in a word, 'candidates for disease,' whose
delicate constitution may be restored by the good effects
of a sojourn at the seashore. These children are sent


during the summer season, from April 15 to October 15,
and remain a month at the sanitarium. Each caravan
is composed of not less than 100 children nor more than
160, and their only duty while at the seashore is to take
deep breaths of fresh air, play in the sunlight and improve
in health. No classes, no lessons, no discipline other than
what a parent would impose, but watchful care. Already
1865 little 'candidates for disease,' boys and girls, have
been helped by a month at Saint-Pol. There is no doubt
on the part of any one acquainted with the facts but that
the benefit to the children, moral as well as physical, has
been great."

The socialists of Roubaix also largely extended and im-
proved the common school system of the town by estab-
lishing a number of new classes, introducing courses of
manual training, etc.

Next to the all-important subject of education, the so-
cialist administration of Roubaix bestowed the greatest care
upon the matter of public health and the support of the
poor. It established municipal bathing houses and dis-
infecting plants as well as municipal bakeries and kitchens.
In its bakeries it baked its own bread for the poor of the
town, and distributed it freely at the homes of the latter,
while its kitchens provided all needy families with whole-
some food, at the lowest possible price.

In addition to this, the socialist municipality paid a
pension of 1 20 francs a year to the aged poor of either sex
living at home ; it provided a number of cottages for widows
with little children to care for, established a bureau for
free legal advice and built a new hospital for the sick.

The socialist administration of Roubaix largely benefited
the municipal employees, whose hours of labor were re-


duced to eight per day and whose wages were substantially
increased, and it endowed the theaters and the scientific
and artistic societies of the town more liberally than its
bourgeois predecessors had done.

In the still larger city of Lille, which was likewise
under socialist control for a number of years, the mu-
nicipal reforms introduced by the socialists bear a
general resemblance to those of Roubaix, except that
some of them, particularly those relating to sanitary
measures and hygienic supervision, were carried out on a
larger scale. A notable feature of the socialist administra-
tion of Lille was the promotion of the fine arts and higher
education among the poor. The school of fine arts was
reorganized on a higher and more efficient plane; the
municipal theater was frequently opened to the workers,
and by agreement with the management of the theaters in
the city, the administration received four hundred free
seats at each performance, which were distributed among
the workingmen; popular concerts and lectures were
periodically arranged at the expense of the city, and liberal
prizes were awarded to poor students of recognized ability.

The examples of Roubaix and Lille are typical for all
other municipalities under socialist control in France.
In almost all cases the care of the children, the public
health, the assistance of the poor and the legal protection
of the workingmen are the prime concern of the admin-

The socialists of France ascribe but a secondary im-
portance to the municipal ownership of street cars, tele-
phones, etc., although wherever possible, they regulate the
rates of such public service concerns and sometimes even
operate them as municipal enterprises.


With all their reforms, the socialist municipalities in
France are as a rule far from being extravagant or reckless
in their expenditures, and their balance sheets usually show
a substantial surplus. The taxes are shifted, as much as
possible, from the poor to the wealthy.

In Belgium the powers of the municipal administration
are even more limited than in France — the mayor of the
city is appointed by the king, and the decisions and ordi-
nances of the municipal council are subject to the veto of
the ''^deputation pcrmanente," a bureau of the provincial
parliament and of the king. Under these circumstances
the socialists in Belgian town and city councils have natu-
rally not been able to introduce very radical innovations
in the municipal administration of the country. Thus the
principle of the progressive income tax for the raising of
municipal revenues has repeatedly been adopted by the
councils of socialist municipalities, and has been vetoed
by the government as often as adopted. Among the first
tasks of a socialist municipality in Belgium is the improve-
ment of the conditions of the workingmen in its employ.
A fixed minimum wage, a fixed maximum workday, and
insurance against accidents are almost uniformly among
the first measures adopted by a new socialist administra-
tion in a Belgian town. The schooling of cliildren with the
special features of free clothing, free meals and vacation
colonies plays as important a part in every socialist munici-
pal administration in Belgium as in France, but in the
former somewhat more attention is being paid to the
municipal operation of street cars, gas, electricity, water-
works, etc.

The socialist municipal councilors of Belgium have or-
ganized a union for the study of municipal problems and


the dissemination of information on affairs of municipal
administration, with a permanent bureau and a salaried
secretary, and their example has been followed by the
socialists of Holland.

The socialist municipalities of Denmark proceed sub-
stantially along the same lines as those of France and
Belgium. Speaking for the town of Esbjerg as a typical
example, the editor of the local socialist paper relates in a
recent report : "The Socialists hold 12 of the 19 seats in the
city council. Our first act, after having gained control,
was to assist the poor, and we have managed to make it
possible for all poor to avoid public charity.

"We then helped the hungry school children by giving
them a free noon-day meal, until the minister of the in-
terior prohibited the appropriation of the necessary means.

"We next had the food paid for by the free poor fund and
in turn appropriated money for the fund.

"Later, however, we formed a private organization,
which took charge of the feeding of the school children,
and strangely enough, the city council was now given
permission by the department of the interior to appropriate
the required money for this purpose.

"We have endeavored to improve the school system,
until we now have free and uniform education in all
common schools.

"However, other things have drawn public attention
toward Esbjerg more than these. The contractors
formerly had a solid organization and as a rule always
agreed on bids for public works, and then divided the
profits. The socialists soon put a stop to this. We em-
ployed workmen direct and bought our own lumber and
brick. We built a school and employed our carpenters


direct. Then we were boycotted. We could get no more
brick at the kilns, and the team owners were forbidden to
deliver any material to the building. This strike lasted
half a day, after which we bought the required brick at the
contractors' own brick kiln.

"The employers' association, however, has since at-
tempted, hitherto without any success, to delay or even
stop all work undertaken by us.

"The anti-socialist minority has now resigned in a body,
in spite of the fact that they have been represented on all
committees, according to their number in the council."

The distinctive features of municipal socialism in Italy
are the reduction of the taxes on articles of food, the
increase of direct taxes, and the municipal subsidies and
support of labor exchanges and cooperative enterprises
conducted by trade unions, although the socialist admin-
istrations do not neglect any of the customary municipal
reform measures.

In the United States Wisconsin is so far the only state
in which the socialists have of late years had a substantial
and growing representation in the legislature and in the
councils of some municipalities, notably in the city of
Milwaukee. In the state legislature as well as in the
Milwaukee City Council, they form minority groups,
but they have nevertheless been able to influence the actions
of both bodies in a marked degree. Mr. Carl D. Thomp-
son, a former socialist member of the Wisconsin State
Legislature, enumerates a surprisingly large number of
positive measures initiated by the Socialist Party and
passed by the city council of Milwaukee or the state
legislature of Wisconsin.^

' "The Constructive Program of Socialism," Milwaukee, 1908.


The achievements of socialist politics in the field of posi-
tive reform are thus not insignificant. But the socialists do
not overestimate them. They consider them as measures
calculated to brace and strengthen the working class in
its struggle against capital, but by no means as the be-
ginnings or installments of a socialist system.

The work of systematically rebuilding the economic and
political structure of modern society on the lines of social-
ism, can begin only when the socialists have the control
of the entire political machinery of the state, i.e., of
all the legislative, executive and judicial organs of the
government. As long as the socialist representatives in
modern legislative or administrative organs remain in
the minority, the more radical and truly socialistic reforms
advocated by them, the reforms aimed at the dispossession
of the privileged classes, are bound to founder on the op-
position of the ruling-class majorities in the government.
The socialists can expect to carry out their program only
by a series of gradual and successive, but systematic and
uninterrupted measures, when they themselves are in
the majority in the government, either having carried a
majority of the popular vote in a successful election, or
having been placed in power by a popular rising. The
chief aim of socialist activity is, therefore, to develop the
numerical strength and political maturity required for the
ultimate conquest of the powers of government, and the
supreme test of the success of present socialist politics is
the measure in which it realizes that aim. And it is in this,
their most important function, that socialist politics have
achieved their highest triumph.

For whatever might have been the significance of socialist
politics as a factor in securing immediate social reforms,


it certainly has been of transcendent importance in the
creation of the powerful national organizations of socialism.
It was the practical political battles of socialism, the
concrete attacks on the enemy, the definite issues and war
cries, the common victories and defeats that attracted mul-
titudes of European workingmen, and it is these that are
beginning to attract the mass of American workingmen to
the banner of socialism. If the number of socialist voters
of the world has grown from about 30,000 in 1867 to
almost 10,000,000 in 1908; if the socialists have become
a recognized factor in the public life of 25 modern na-
tions, having representation in the parliaments and ad-
ministrative organs of 16 of them; if the socialists have
elaborated a clear, detailed and sober program of social
transformation, and developed in their ranks thousands
of thinkers, orators, statesmen, organizers and leaders,
the practical politics of the modern socialist parties is
largely responsible for these splendid results. Without
the unifying and propelling force of political activity, the
socialist movement to-day might not have advanced much
beyond the stage of the purely literary significance of the
early socialist schools or beyond that of a number of inco-
herent sects.




Socialists and Social Reformers

To the outsider one of the most puzzling aspects of the
socialist movement is its attitude towards the modern move-
ments for social reform. The socialists are reformers^
The socialist program contains a large number of concrete
measures or "demands" for the progressive improvement
of our industrial, social and political institutions, and much
of the practical political activity of socialism is directed
towards the advancement of such reform measures.

And still socialists are often found reluctant to co-
operate with non-socialist reformers for the attainment of
specific reforms. Even when such proposed reforms are
apparently in line with the demands of socialism, the sepa-
rate movements for their realization are not seldom met by
them with indifference, sometimes even with active op-

The socialists have on that account been charged with
narrowness and inconsistency, but these charges are based
on an entire misconception of the character of socialist
reforms. There is a vital distinction between the reforms
advocated by the socialists and those urged by the re-
formers of all other shades.

The non-socialist reform movements may be divided into
two general groups; those inaugurated distinctly for the



benefit of the middle classes, i.e., the small farmers, manu-
facturers or traders, and those supported by ideologists of
all classes.

The movements of the former variety have for their in-
variable object the strengthening of the position of the
middle class as against the increasing power of large
capitalism. The measures advocated by them often con-
template the arrest of industrial development or even the
return to conditions of past ages. Among such "reform"
measures are the restrictions on combinations of capital
and the provisions against suppression of competition.
Measures of this character are reactionary even though
in their formulation they sometimes coincide with working-
class demands.

The ideologists of the "better classes" represent a less
reactionary but not more efficient type of social reformers.
These kind-hearted but shortsighted gentlemen are
thoroughly convinced of the soundness of our social
system as a whole. They notice occasionally certain
social evils and abuses, and they endeavor to remove them
in what seems to them to be the most direct way. They
happen to encounter an appalling condition of poverty,
and they seek to allay it by alms. They notice the spread
of disease among the poor, and they build hospitals and
sanitariums. They are shocked by the tidal wave of crime
and vice, and they strive to lead the sinners back to the
path of righteousness by moral sermons and model penal
institutions. They find their elected representatives in
public office incompetent and corrupt, and they unite to
turn them out of office and to elect more efficient and
honest men. They treat each social abuse and evil as an
isolated and casual phenomenon. They fail to see the con-


nection between them all. For them, as for the latej
German-American statesman, Carl Schurz, there is noj
social problem, but there are many social problems.

The aim of all socialist reforms, on the other hand, is to
strengthen the working class economically and politically
and to pave the way for the introduction of the socialist
state. The effect of every true socialist reform must be
to transfer some measure of power from the employing
classes. A socialist reform must be in the nature of a
working-class conquest.

The socialist reform measures, moreover, are all insepa-
rably and logically connected with each other, and only
when taken together do they constitute an effective pro-
gram of social progress. As separate and independent
measures, they would be trivial, and from the point of view
of the ultimate aim of the socialist movement, none of
them is alone of sufficient importance to warrant the con-
centration of all efforts for its realization.

The difference between the conceptions and methods
of the ideological social reformers and those of the social-
ists may be best shown by an illustration borrowed from
the domain of pathology. A number of physicians are
called into consultation on a grave case. The patient
suffers from spells of coughing, headaches and high fever.
His appetite is poor, and he is losing weight and color.

If the physicians are thoughtless and superficial prac-
titioners, they will regard all these indications as so many
separate and independent diseases. They will treat each
of the supposed diseases separately or they will have each
treated by a speciaHst in that particular branch of medicine.
But if a scientific and experienced practitioner be called into
the consultation, he will say to his colleagues; "Gentle-


men, your diagnosis of the case is wrong. Tlie patient
does not suffer from a complication of diseases. The
many supposed diseases which you have discovered are not
independent casual ailments; they are all but symptoms
of one grave organic disease — tuberculosis. If you suc-
ceed in banishing this organic disease from the patient's
system, the symptoms which you take for independent
ailments will disappear of themselves, but if you persist in
treating the symptoms without attacking the root of them
all, the patient cannot improve."

And so, hkewise, it is with the so-called evils of society.
Our social conditions are not healthy and normal, our
social organism is ill. The abject poverty of the masses
with all its concomitant evils — sickness, ignorance, vice
and crime — is appalling, while the extravagant luxuries
of our multi-millionaires only serve to accentuate the utter
misery of "the other half."

The gigantic trusts and monopolies which have developed
within recent years, the periodic crises and chronic strikes
and lockouts, are proof of the pathological condition of our
industries, while boss rule, corruption and bribery mark a
similar condition in our politics.

To the superficial student of society these conditions
present so many separate "evils," each one independent
of the others, each one curable by itself. Hence our
charity organizations, anti-vice leagues and societies for the
prevention of crime; hence our "trust busters," single
taxers, municipal-ownership men and anti-corrupt-prac-
tices advocates; hence our social and political reformers
of all types and specialties.

The socialists, on the other hand, see a clear connection
and necessary interdependence between these evils, They


regard them all as mere symptoms of one deep-rooted
disease of our social organism and do not believe in curing
the mere symptoms without attacking the real disease.
This disease the socialists find in the unhealthy organiza-
tion of our industries, based on the private ownership of
the means of production and distribution.

Poverty is the direct result of capitalistic exploitation,
and ignorance, \'ice and crime are poverty's legitimate
children. To maintain its rule, capitalism must dominate
government and public sentiment, hence the constant
incentive for the ruling classes to corrupt our politics, our
press, pulpit and schools.

The ultimate aim of the socialist movement is to convert
the material means of production and distribution into the
common property of the nation as the only radical and
effective cure of all social evils. But this program does
not imply that the socialists propose for the time being to
remain inactive, complacently expecting the dawn of the

The scientific physician in our illustration, after having
made his diagnosis, does not idly sit by expecting the
coming of the day when the dread disease shall suddenly
disappear. He proceeds to the proper course of treat-
ment forthwith. By a systematic process of strengthening
his patient's physique, by increasing his powers of resist-
ance, he gradually restores his patient's health. In the
course of the treatment he does not disdain palliatives
calculated to give temporary relief, but all his remedies
are strictly consistent and coordinate, and are applied
with the ultimate object constantly in view — the destruc-
tion of the mortal germs of the organic disease.

And the socialists proceed in a similar manner. They


seek to prepare the people for the radical change of the
industrial basis of society, by a systematic and never-
ceasing course of education, training and organization,
but in the meantime they do not reject temporary reform.
They favor every real progressive measure, and work for
such measures wherever and whenever an opportunity
offers itself to them. But all the socialist reforms are con-
sistent parts of their general program ; they all tend in one
direction and serve one ultimate purpose.

To the ordinary social reformer, on the other hand, each
evil is an evil by itself to be cured without change of the

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