R. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) Ensor.

Modern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; online

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Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 18 of 35)
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a new hemisphere by the progress of their ship. Possibly we
may thus gradually penetrate into the zone of the Socialistic
State ] but — and this is what Sarraute omits in his theory, and
Millerand forgets too far in practice — granted that the State
has been partially penetrated by the proletarian and Socialistic
force, granted that we can and ought to hope, in reason, that
the democratic State can be entirely penetrated, assimilated,
and transformed by the force of Socialism and the people, it
remains true to-day in a proportion still vast and overwhelming,
that the State — thanks to the power of the propertied bour-
geoisie, to the routine and narrow individualism of a vast mass
of peasants, to the Nationalist diversions and the short-sighted-
ness of part of the petty bourgeoisie of artisans and shop-keepers,
to the division of the proletarians weakening and fighting
against each other, and to the force of tradition — is in fact a
bourgeois State, a State of capitalistic property ; which to-day
resists useless, and works with us in part ; but which to-morrow,
by the abrupt coalition of all our opponents or half-hearted
supporters, may again become against us a State of violence,
aggression, and systematic resistance : and if we should never
lose the chance of penetrating as fully as possible this demo-
cratic bourgeois State, we should never let the proletarians
forget that it is but still partially won over, that it is still
largely a hostile force. Against this hostile force subsisting in
the Stale we must pit the one force which can neutralize it —
that of the complete Socialistic ideal, grouping and rallying the
proletarians, to add to their force of penetration.

What I say of the democracy of the State, I say no less of
the general interests which Sarraute mentioned. I admit that
henceforth SociaUsm must guard its part of the country's general


interests — those of freedom, security, and prosperity ; and
Socialism will not fail to do so. It defends, and has defended,
the political freedom of all classes — political freedom con-
ceived at once as an instrument of emancipation for the
proletarian class, and a guarantee of dignity for the individuals
of the nation. Also it defends security : when we ask for the
transformation of the barrack-army into a popular and national
militia, it is not to disarm the country ; it is, pending the time
which we hasten of simultaneous European disarmament, to add
to the nation's defensive strength, by harmonizing its military
institutions with the principle of its political ones. And we
defend the economic prosperity of the country ; when conven-
tions like the Brussels Sugar Convention intervene to regulate
international economics, we see to it that France is not tricked ;
we think it the duty of our diplomacy, without violence or
colonial exactions, to insist, so far as France's productivity
entitles her to insist, that a share in distant markets, in China
or elsewhere, be assured to the pacific penetration of our
industry, which is a necessary condition for plentiful wages for
the proletarian class. We do not therefore ignore the general
prosperity, the general security, and the general freedom of the
country ; but I add, and the addition is needed, that in watch-
ing and guiding the course of general interests, we must do so
from the proletarian standpoint. It is our good fortune that the
general interest of France and of civilization is tied up with
the self-interest of a rising class, which is the proletariate.^

Look at the health questions. Those diseases which come
and infect all society — whence do they originate? From the
squalor of the people, from the filth of the working-class dwell-
ings. And it is we, who want to compel a new housing regime in

1 Cp. the quotation from Mr. Frederic Harrison, prefixed to Gronlund's
Co-operative Coinvionwealth : — " The working-class is the only class which
is not a class. It is the nation, It represents, so to speak, the body as a
whole, of which the other classes only represent special organs. These
organs, no doubt, have great and indispensable functions, but for most pur-
poses of government the State consists of the vast labouring majority. Its
welfare depends on what their lives are like."

j. JAURES 173

the great cities and the rural districts, who are not hampered in
this by private-property prejudices, who put the health and life
of men above a narrow interpretation of property rights ; it is
we alone who can here be the guardians of the general health,
precisely in being the champions of the proletariate in par-
ticular. What, again, can contribute more to the nation's
general forces, its productive forces, its power of economic
expansion, than the health of the race, the health and vigour
of the workers themselves? And it is we, and we only, who
by a vigorous labour legislation can protect these working
forces, which are not only the proletariate's right, but the whole
nation's patrimony, and which capitalistic selfishness must not
be allowed to squander. Again, from the economic stand-
point — the standpoint of prosperity of which Millerand spoke,
that of wealth of which Sarraute spoke — of course we do not
want to set up Socialism in an impoverished nation ; of course
we do not want Socialism to be the effect of, or the signal for,
a sort of economic rarefaction in our country ; of course we
want activity, initiative, and production to make wealth
circulate in streams ; but we want the streams to take number-
less channels, to let their strength and their blessings reach all
the producers. Well, what is to-day the most decisive means
of augmenting these productive forces of France and of
Europe ? Obviously it is to rid Europe of the crushing,
exhausting burden of old-fashioned armaments which not only
squander seven or e^ht milliards of francs, but squander the
strength of men in the season of youth and energy, when the
activities that are numbed later could yield their maximum
effort for the wholesale production. Well, and who can realize
this simultaneous disarmament of Europe? Who is interested,
most urgently interested, in the relief of the budget from this
overwhelming burden ? Is it the bourgeoisie ? Yes, the
bourgeoisie has some interest ; to obtain the simultaneous
disarmament of Europe we do not decHne to appeal to its
interest, rightly understood. We do not decline to ; and we
do not wish, by any sort of narrow, uncompromising prejudice,


to mutilate and sterilize our popaganda. But if the bourgeoisie,
too, has an interest in disarmament, the proletariate, it must be
agreed, has twice and thrice as much. It is interested because
it, too, shares in the general progress of production ; it is
additionally interested, because while the bourgeoisie is already
provided for — in the budget, by bounties, subsidies, and
millions of State interest, and, failing the national budget, by
the social budget of dividends and rents secured to it by the
capitalistic constitution of present society — the proletariate can
only be provided for — for the social work it needs, for relief,
and insurance against unemployment^ disablement, and old
age — if there is such a large free surplus in the budget as there
can only be when the millions squandered on works of inter-
national destruction are reserved for works of social solidarity.
Lastly, the proletariate has a still more direct and decisive
class interest in disarmament ; it is that while armaments go
on, while the spectre of war between nations remains on the
horizon, the people and the proletarians themselves have
necessarily a vital concern diverting to the care of external
defence a part of the energies which should be spent on
internal organization. In this way war, while it burdens the
bourgeoisie like the people, is also a possible diversion against
the proletariate ; and that is why the latter, besides sharing
the general interest of nations in the abolition of war, has,
further, a direct class interest in it. That is why it is to-day
not the only force, of course, but the deepest, most definite,
most decisive force for disarmament and peace ; and why we
should preserve in the affirmation of the proletariate's will and
policy, even inside democracy, the definiteness that ensures
its needful vigour.

Well, I say that in my view Millerand's mistake in the
votes which he gave, and which have been criticized, was in
reckoning, like Sarraute, with but one aspect of the problem.
He saw, quite rightly, that we were a democracy, a Republic ;
he understood, and had the courage to say, that this enclosure
of the proletariate by Republican democracy, this possibility


for the proletariate to move and progress within the democracy
and through the RepubHc, entailed special obligations as well
as special opportunities on the proletariate and on the Socialist
party which expresses it in politics ; and to enable the Social-
ist party to assist in the common task of limited reforms, of
strengthening public liberties, which can be realized in concert
with the other democratic groups, he consciously or un-
consciously abraded and blunted overmuch the sharpness
with which the proletariate should stamp its own force and
will even on the democracy. That is what I blame in his
policy ; that is its danger. I was glad to hear him say
yesterday, that if he gave the votes criticized (of which I will
speak), he did not give them to remain faithful to the attitude
he had to take as a Minister in virtue of Cabinet solidarity. I
was glad to hear him say that, because if he had said, or let it
be understood, that the participation of a Socialist in the
Government obliged the Minister who had been through a
coalition to limit afterwards his Socialistic utterances to the
momentary compact concluded in view of Ministerial action.
Socialistic participation in the Government would be the
worst of dangers, for it would kill off by the way all the living
forces which our party might contain. Such a view is
impossible, and will be impossible for the proletariate. When
the proletariate wants, as I think force of circumstances will
impel it, to make it a normal and regular practice for Socialists
to take part in the central Government, the Socialist represen-
tative, while the Ministerial mandate which his party has en-
trusted to him lasts, will be bound by the rules and obligations
of Ministerial solidarity. The proletariate will recognize in
this a formal obligation — what I will call, if you like, a passing
professional requirement — which makes no inroad on the
representative programme ; so that when the momentary
Ministerial compact is over, he recovers — I will not say his
undiminished freedom of Sociahstic action, for he has never,
save by a sort of purely formal stipulation, lost that — he
recovers his entire freedom of speech. What would, I repeat,


be fatal, would be the notion that after this momentary com-
pact for Government action there survived a kind of posthu-
mous obligation ; for that would mean for ever limiting the
statement of Socialism to the limits of a business programme
necessarily full of the bourgeois spirit. I rejoice that Mille-
rand sets forth the problem otherwise. He says : " No, but
we must take account of the new conditions in which the
Socialist party must move ; and since it can aspire to govern
or in any case can henceforth exert a very strong influence on
Governments, it must set itself to make their work as easy as
possible, by not presenting to them, as I said just now, that
part of the Socialistic programme which too violently exceeds
the bounds of what is immediately realizable."

Ah, my friend Millerand, I acknowledge that your idea of
tactics would make things singularly easy. But, let me say, it
has, conversely, the same fault as Guesde's policy ; it is too
easy. We are no longer at the stage when politics are easy
for the Socialist party. Guesde has no difficulties with his :
" I for my part know nothing in society but the working-class;
all that is not working-class I fight, and fight indiscriminately.
I make no distinction between groups that are retrograde,
violently retrograde, Csesarist or clerical, and the liberal,
democratic groups of the bourgeoisie ; I leave out the whole
revolutionary tradition of France, which at tragic periods has
forced the democratic bourgeoisie, in order to vanquish the Old
Regime, to make acting agreements with the revolutionary
population of the faubourgs, whose consequences extend into
contemporary history." Guesde ignores all that ; he is shut
up in an exclusive proletariate, as in a fortress surrounded
by a deep moat, and fights impartially against every party
encamped round it ; whether they come as friends or as foes,
he turns his weapons against all quarters of the horizon alike.
That is indeed the easy policy ; it is, if I may say so without
hurting any one, the supremely lazy policy that which saves
the trouble of acting, adapting, reflecting, drawing distinctions.
But the essential function of the human understanding just is.


to find distinctions inside things which to tlie ignorant and tlic
simple appear uniform. It is a childish policy, the policy of
childhood, of powerlessness ; it may have served for a passing
hour to preserve the scarce-born consciousness of the pro-
letariate from the troubling of outside influences ; but now
that the proletariate is formed, and is clearly self-conscious, now
that the Socialistic idea is powerful, and it can and must act,
to return to this policy of false no-compromise is to go system-
atically back to childhood ; and whereas childhood is lovable
and healthy when it is natural childhood, it is deplorable and
deadly when it is the relapse of a mind already developed, but
blinded by ignorance. Yes, this policy is easy to excess ; you
need only say, " Class-war."

But your policy, Millerand, is too easy also. You need
only say, " We do not keep, or we keep chiefly for our
statements of Socialistic programmes, anything but what can be
immediately assimilated by the Governmental action of to-
day." I admit that, if so, our relations with Governments and
with other bourgeois groups are simplified remarkably. Only
this policy has a decisive danger ; it cuts the Socialistic pro-
gramme in two. You saw through the tree at a certain height,
and only the lower part of the programme remains assimilated
to reality : the rest is an apex detached from the root ; and the
part of our programme which we have thus ceased to assert,
which we have not incorporated by our assertions at least into
the daily life of the party — this part ceasing to receive the sap
of action and vitaUty, will no longer be anything but a sort
of flourish, a dead survival.

I acknowledge, again, that this complicated pohcy which
I am trying to formulate before the party, a policy which
consists in at once collaborating with all democrats, yet
vigorously distinguishing one's self from them; penetrating
partially into the State of to-day, yet dominating the State of
to-day from the heights of our ideal — I acknowledge that this
policy is complicated, that it is awkward, that it will create
serious difficulties for us at every turn ; but am I to suppose that



you ever hoped, with your deep practical feeling and high
intelligence, that we could pass from the period of capitalism to
the organization of Socialism without coming across these
difticulties incessantly ?

The question was eventually referred to a Committee which sat
late on the 13th, and reported to the Congress on the 14th. The
order of the day originally suggested by the federations desirous of
excluding Millerand ran thus :—

The Congress,

Recognizing that IVIillemnd has openly talien the responsibiiitij
for his attitude and his acts : —

Without declining to pursue the policy of reforms capable of being
obtained in accordance with the law of the Republic ; —

Asserts that the Socialist party remains a party revolutionary in
its end — the transformation of capitalist society into collectiuist or
communist society, and in its means — the general strike and recourse
to the force of the proletariate in case the bourgeoisie cannot be
expropriated by Parliamentary action ; —

Declares that it only acknowledges the so-called practical policy ' so
far as it entails on Socialism no violation of its programme and
principles, no abdication of its programme and principles, no abdica-
tion of its ideal ; —

Decides that by his votes, which illustrate his personal tactics,
Citizen Millerand has placed himself outside the Socialist party, and
decides that within the Socialist party there is no room for the tactics
and the conception of Citizen Millerand.

During the discussion in the Committee, however, the anti-
Millerand representatives came to think that greater unanimity would
be obtained by a briefer declaration, and therefore substituted the
following : —

The Congress decides that Citizen Millerand is excluded from the
Socialist party on account of his anti-Socialistic votes.

This was adopted in Committee by 19 federations, against 16
voting for an order of the day of M. Jaures, and two abstentions.
On the following morning it was submitted to the whole congress by
M. Renaudel ; after whom M. Jaures set forth his counter-proposal
in the following terms : —

This is the text of the order of the day which in the name
' La politique dite des realith.


of sixteen federations I will briefly, as far as my strength allows
me, defend before the Congress : —

The Congress,

Considering that the action of the Socialist party ought
to be constantly regulated by tlie idea of a complete transformation
of the social order ;

Considering that the necessary work of daily reform cannot
be separated fro?n the constant assertion, in theory and practice, of
the Socialistic ideal defined by the ?iational and international
congresses, particularly by the Co?igj-ess of Tours ;

Declares that it is the strict duty of Socialist representatives
to uphold by their votes the tradition of the Socialist party regard-
ing the separation of the Churches and the State, and to insure
ahuays the free development of the working-class organized for
the jiecessary struggle against the capitalist class ;

Declares, further, that the Socialist party is a party of free
thought and perpetual scientific inquiry, but that its dtity towards
tlie proletariate is to exact from all its representatives the disciplined
observation of the collective decisions of the party in Congress
assembled ;

And takes note of the declarations made iji this sense by
Citizen Millerand.

I say, citizens, that this order of the day answers to every
legitimate and reasonable anxiety of the Congress and of our
opponents themselves. What do you want — 'what does the
Socialist party want ? It wants three things. Firstly, it wants
to assert that the work of reforms, of daily, Parliamentary
action in which it is engaged, will in no way curtail the assertion
of the ideal defined by the Congress. That is one of the essen-
tial parts of the declaration we submit. Secondly, it wants,
while recalling the need for representatives to uphold by their
votes the tradition regarding the separation of the Churches and
the State, to indicate to French Socialists and Frenchmen
generally that in certain individual votes Millerand had put


upon the party's doctrines a misinterpretation for which it was
not responsible and which it forbade to be repeated. Thirdly,
the Congress, the Socialist party, is to point out, that in our
party there is full freedom of discussion and freedom of thought ;
that there are principles, but there is no dogma. And in
asserting this freedom of thought and inquiry, this perpetual
right of the Socialist mind to follow in its course the moving
world and to renew its thought as things renew themselves,
the party means to and must indicate the freedom of conscience,
of thought, of mind, without which we should be the most
miserable of churches claiming to set up an infallibiUty un-
sanctioned by divine intervention. And we had to indicate
while asserting this indefinite freedom, that in action (and for
representatives action takes the form of voting) there must be
a certain minimum of unity and discipline, which does not
bind the representative's tactics on this or that point, but which
harmonizes his external action and his visible vote with the
collective decisions of the organized party.

The orders of the day of MM. Renaudel and Jaures were then
discussed, the one expelling M. Millerand, the other censuring by
implication his disputed votes, and engaging him not to repeat them.
During the discussion Millerand made another speech, from which
portions are here extracted dealing with (i) M. Jaures' view of the
opposition between ultra-reformers and ultra-revolutionaries, (2) the
attitude of the party to participation in government.

I am only at this tribune to afiirm my intention, my firm
desire, to-day as yesterday and as always, to speak not of
exclusion and infallibility, but of union, conciliation, and
concord. It is because I desire this conciliation and concord
intensely, that I ask you to let me briefly reply to that
interesting and moving portion of Jaures' speech where he
came to close quarters with the two conceptions which he
examined before you.^ If he will let me say so in all friendli-
ness, he seems to me to have paralleled rather too easily what
he called the Guesde and the Sarraute conceptions. It is not
> Cp. an/e, pp. 164-170, 176-17S.


for me to defend the Guesde conception — I should be afraid
of being charged with a want of conviction if I did — but
regarding the Sarraute conception you will let me say that
really perhaps it has not been considered as a whole ; there
has been the tendency, involuntary but arising naturally from
its comparison with Guesde's, to bring out what is possibly
its weak side. I have been told — for they have done me the
honour, for which I am sincerely grateful to Jaures, of asso-
ciating me with the clear and striking demonstration of my
friend Sarraute — I have been told, " Take care ! you have
blunted the sharpness (I quote Jaurbs' phrase) of the Socialist
proletariate." Do you think so, Jaurfes ? Our adversaries,
all the same, seemed to find it sharp enough, judging by their
outcries. No, we have not blunted the sharpness of the
proletariate so much ; nor is it perfectly accurate to say that
my whole policy is limited to retaining that portion of the
Socialistic conception which can be assimilated at once. I
think with you that it becomes our duty, I consider our
imperious duty, to intrude our ideas, bit by bit, into facts,
laws, and customs ; the more must we, while realizing peace-
fully and legally this work of necessarily partial and incomplete
construction, show the proletariate simultaneously the complete
Socialistic edifice as a whole, and never let it lose sight of the
end towards which we march. Let me say that the speaker
who addresses you cannot be charged with having ever for-
gotten the end for the sake of immediate reforms ; and that
I made a point, even when in oflice, I would say especially
when in office, at the very time when I was naturally busy
realizing what partial reforms I could, of asserting in public
— at Lille, at Lens, at Firminy, whenever I possibly could —
that I was not only a faithful soldier of the Socialist party,
acknowledging my party's authority, but a Socialist who asserted
when in office our unimpaired doctrine, our entire ideal. But,
really, while we fulfil this duty, we must meet the needs of
the day.

Just now Citizen Pierre Bertrand asked in this place,


" What is meant by the solidarity of classes ? " I did not
want to interrupt him, or I might have saved myself a speech
and said, " I will not refer you to my friend Sarraute's very
remarkable work on Socialism in opposition and in power —
you might be prejudiced against it ; I refer you to Jaurbs
himself. He showed this morning, in a lofty and precise
manner, that the Socialist party could take charge on its own
account of the general interests of the country, and that there
was none of them in which the proletariate itself was not
preponderatingly interested."

You, Jaures, said that we must look at these social interests

Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 18 of 35)