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 19 of 35)
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from the proletarian standpoint. But what does that mean
but to look at them from the standpoint, not of a narrow class,
but from the highest standpoint that one can take up ? To
say that we look at them from the proletarian standpoint is
to say that we study them from the standpoint of those who
are the mass, the many, the crowd, the disinherited, to whom
we would fain give more light, justice, and well-being. Class-
solidarity, therefore, is patent to all ; it forces itself on their
attention. It does not suppress class-antagonism; they are
two standpoints, different but equally true. Society to-day
is such as to admit simultaneously both a class-antagonism —
which our aim just is to abolish, by abolishing classes — and
also, citizens, a class-solidarity, thanks to which we not only
can but must care for the general interests of the country,
since in working for all we work for the proletarians.

If that point is reached, do you not see we are at the end
— we are agreed ? It is understood — for I heard no protest
anywhere against Jaures' words — that the Socialist party,
serving and defending the interests of the proletariate, in no
way neglects the general interests of the country, but shares
in their burden. Is it not, then, clear that it must therefore
in every way, under every accessible form, serve those general
interests whose care is not separated in its thought from the
proletariate's interests ?


What I here assert afresh is the need for the Socialist party
to unite clearly on common principles, accepted by all.

As for these principles, citizens, we have never all through
this long debate discussed them. One point has been dis-
cussed for three long years — participation in Government ;
and on it you will allow me these few words. When it
presented itself, as I told you yesterday, those more particu-
larly called revolutionary Socialists, seeing themselves con-
fronted by this natural consequence of their own conduct,
were frightened. They saw that it was the condemnation, not
of their conduct, but of a way of speaking which they declined
to give up. They withdrew ; you remained ; and what then
occurred in the portion of the Parti Socialiste Frangais which
you form ? A very natural thing. Before, during, and after
the split — at least, in the few months which followed it — while
not condemning participation in the Government, while accept-
ing it, even, you yet surrounded it with all sorts of restrictions
and reserves; just because you hoped, and would fain hope
even against hope, to keep united to you the Socialist comrades
who threatened to go off, and who in fact did separate ;
secondly, because you feared — and what scruples could do
you more honour? — lest the wine of truth should be too
strong for your adherents' heads if you poured it out to them
without stint ; lest in wanting to fly at one stretch to the end
marked out for you, you should leave too many laggards and
separatists by the wayside. Besides, you were in no hurry
to settle it ; you had in the Government a comrade who was
there under his own responsibility ; you had put him, as it
were, on furlough there, and the position was — if he erred,
the party could lawfully disclaim all responsibility, but if he
did anything good and useful, he would, you knew, be the
first to refer the honour and profit of it to the party as a

But, citizens, that situation has ended. You have had to
take sides, and what should have happened has happened :
participation in the Government — I may say after this present


debate, whose pivot and centre, openly or implicitly, it has
all the time been — is no longer opposed in principle. On
that I must explain myself. You ask for clearness ; you
cannot complain if I am clear, I say that in all the debate,
at which we have just been present, participation in the
Government has apparently aroused no opposition ; and if
it does arouse it, then we must take sides — let me say no less
flatly and frankly — about the principles as well as the direction
of the party, i.e. about the essence of its methods. I think
we should be fully agreed ; I think we are ; and it is because
I think we are, because I am convinced that on participation
in the Government, as on our principles, there is between
the vast majority of this Congress and myself no opposition

in what 1 say no, there can be no split between us ;

since, as soon as we agree on the guiding ideas, you under-
stand that on questions of application, however important,
divorce and division cannot be.

I believe that on these questions I was right in acting as I
did ; I have given you my reasons ; I am confident that the
future will confirm them, and that the application of the
principles and tactics which I have indicated will lead you
rapidly on this fated path. But understand that on these
questions of application I only ask to go forward as a disciplined
soldier. I have faith in the future, in the goodness of my
cause, in your honesty, in the care which you have, as I have,
for the interests of the Socialist party and of the country itself;
and to-morrow, hand in hand, we pursue the same task, at
which for the ten years we have worked together for the
Republic and the social idea.

When the two resolutions were put to the Congress, that of M.
Jaures, censuring but not excluding M. Millerand, was carried by
109 votes to 89, with 15 abstentions.


Resolution of the Executive of the Socialist Party
OF France regarding the Verdict of the French
Socialist Party at Bordeaux.

The Socialist Party of France has been formed by the junction of
two seceding revolutionary groups under the old leaders, MM.
Guesde and Vaillant. It is not strong numerically, but its pro-
nouncement has a representative value.

The discussions and the result of the Congress which has
just taken place at Bordeaux only confirm what we had always
said, and easily foreseen : once admit the participation of a
Socialist in bourgeois government, and every compromise,
every desertion of the Socialistic standpoint, is not only
possible but necessary.

Thus, in spite of voting for the Budget of Public Worship,
for the application of atrocious laws, and against the non-
intervention of the army in strikes, Millerand has found a
majority to uphold him, uncensured, in the Neo-Socialist ranks.

Logically, he was right — granting the basis upon which this
party was formed — and those who demanded his exclusion were
wrong. Once admit the solidarity of classes in the sharing of
the central Government, and every other kind of solidarity
forces itself on you —

Solidarity in the establishment of a budget which, weighing
chiefly on the producing class, gives the bourgeoisie the means
of securing and prolonging its rule ; —

Solidarity in a colonial policy, which is merely a policy of
opening markets for products stolen from the producers, the
proletarians of France ; —

Solidarity in the obligation to uphold discipline in the army
and clergy in the Republic, because intellectual police and
material police are the indispensable instruments for any order
amid the anarchy inherent in the present capitalistic rcgwic, —

Solidarity in a diplomacy which puts army and fleet at the
service of the bad debts of rotten financiers,^ and makes the
' In allusion to the Mitylene incident.


French Republic the helper of every monarchy, the vassal of
the Tsar's despotism.^

It now remains to be seen whether those who could once
believe it possible to remain Socialists and revolutionaries
while consenting to supply, even casually, partners in Govern-
ment to the capitalist bourgeoisie, will in the light of these
last events yield to the evidence, and be willing to go not
backward but forward to rejoin comrades whose only fault was
in being right before they were.

It is no matter, as those whose interest is in confusing
everything try to give out, of opposing Revolution to reforms,
the one excluding the other. Reforms and Revolution, far
from being mutually exclusive, complete and condition each
other :

For if torn from the hostile class, reforms, however limited,
increase not only the freedom of action but the courage and
keenness of the fighting proletariate ; while if refused, they prove
the impotence or the bad will of the governing bourgeoisie and
form a first-rate stimulus for the working-class, which is driven
to hasten the winning of its emancipation by the high hand.

The pretended opposition is only a delusion. The thing
is to note, as the facts show, that there cannot be any Socialism
away from that basis of class-war and uncompromising opposi-
tion to the bourgeois State, upon which the Socialist Party of
France fights.

' The Tsar's visit to Paris, while Millerand was in the Ministry, rendered
very difftcuU the position of the French Socialist Party.


The Verelen(iungstfieoiieha.sheen so diversely understood that the
following passages from the Bernstein debate at the German party's
Liibeck Congress, iQOi, seem worth detaching. Kautsky and Bebel
are the leading Marxists, Dr. David a leading Revisionist.

From the Speech of Karl Kautsky.

How, then, do things stand with the Theory of Increasing
Misery? The theory asserts, that things must always get
worse before they can get better, that the proletariate sinks
into ever-increasing misery until it has grown quite irresistible,
and that only then does the great day of emancipation dawn.
Comrades, has that theory ever been held by any one in the
party with any claims to importance ? Certainly not. It has
long ago been refuted — refuted by none other than Karl
Marx in his " Capital." " Increasing misery " is to be under-
stood only as a tendency and not as an unconditional truth ;
it means only that capital, in order to increase its surplus-value,
must tend to make the position of the workers ever more and
more miserable. That we know; but Marx himself has
indicated the counter-tendency. He himself was one of the
first champions of laws protecting the workers, one of the first
who drew attention to the importance of trade-unions, at a
time when other Socialists ignored them, as early as 1847.
He showed that this tendency is absolutely necessary, but not
that it leads of absolute necessity to the depression of the
worker. But we must distinguish ourselves from bourgeois



reformers, in that the latter think the tendency itself can be
overcome and a social peace be established, a state of things
in which capital does not tend to depress the workers. Capital
must so tend ; and that is the basis of the class-war, which
must go on till we wrench from capital the instruments of its
political and economic power. Till that is done, social peace
cannot be restored ; and only in that sense have we held fast
to the Theory of Increasing Misery.

From the Speech of Dr. Eduard David.

Again, there is the Theory of Increasing Misery. We talked
at Hanover about the miserable condition of this Theory of
Increasing Misery ; and now back comes Kautsky with the
assertion that no one formerly conceived of it in the sense of a
progressive absolute increase of misery, but that it always was
only thought a tendency, with which counter-tendencies inter-
fered. At Hanover I answered Kautsky by simply quoting
the Commnnisi Manifesto, where nothing is said of a ten-
dency to depression, but where bourgeois society is described
as not even in a position to feed its slaves — the worker turning
into the pauper. And that is not said of individuals, but of
ilie mass of the proletariate ; and the manifesto makes not the
smallest reference to counteraction by trade-unionist organiza-
tion. Marx did so later ; but in the Conwnmist Manifesto
he did not lay the smallest stress upon it. He did say some-
thing quite different ; he said, " In the revolution closely
confronting us the working-class will break its chains, because
it has nothing to lose." And the Communist Manifesto
closes with the prospect of revolution, in the sense of violent
revolution close ahead. So there have been people who have
taken this standpoint ; and if to-day the Communist Mani-
festo is still set up as a standard, as Kiesel ^ has set it up, it
is impossible to say, " What a crazy exposition of the Theory

' A delegate who spoke earlier on the same afternoon.


of Increasing Misery that is ! No rational human being ever
held that ! " If one alters one's opinion, one should have the
courage and the strength to say, " We made a mistake."

From the Si'KECh of Bebel.

First of all, I intended not to go into differences of prin-
ciple between the two schools. I thought that the Hanover
Congress had settled that. To my surprise, Kautsky has
deviated from this proper course. He has gone into the so-
called Theory of Increasing Misery, and has thereby given
Uavid opportunity for a polemic. It is bad to let things of
that sort go uncontradicted ; so I will say a few words. The
Coiujiiunist Manifesto has been appealed to. I affirm that
already in 1872, Engels, in concert with Karl Marx, declared
that they wished to re-publish it only as a historical document.
Whoever has studied the works of Marx and Engels in detail
can have no doubt that they never set up the Theory of In-
creasing Misery in the sense explained by David. If anything
is characteristic, and refutes large passages in Bernstein's
" Presuppositions of Socialism," it is the passage from
" Capital," prefixed as a motto to Bernstein's book, in which
Karl Marx describes the Ten Hours' Bill as the victory of a
principle. Marx took the view that by organization the work-
ing-class can counteract the depressing tendencies of capital,
and if by the strength of their organization they succeeded in
inciting the State to take such steps, then it was not merely a
great moral advance, but the victory of a new principle. Even
a man like Lassalle, who took so decidedly the standpoint of
the Brazen Law of Wages, — even he gives no occasion for his
being invoked as a witness on behalf of a false conception of
the Theory of Increasing Misery. In his " Open Letter in
Reply " he says : " People tell you workers you are to-day in
quite a different position from that of three or four hundred
years ago. No doubt you are better off than the Botokudians
or than cannibal savages." " Every human satisfaction," he


says further on, " depends always on the relation of the means
of satisfaction to what the custom of the period demands
already as bare necessaries for existence, or, which is the same
thing, upon the excess of the means of satisfaction over the
lowest limit of what the custom of the period demands as bare
necessaries for existence." " If you then compare," he suggests
further, " what the rich class has to-day with what the working-
class has to-day, then the gap between the working-class and
the rich class to-day is greater than ever before." That is the
pith of the Theory of Increasing Misery — a thing so simple
and obvious that David, who is an important man in our
party, and well acquainted with its history, should have been
unprejudiced enough to recognize these conceptions of our
great theorists.



From a speech delivered at the Tours Congress of the French
Socialist Party, 1902.

Jean-Lfeon Jaures (born 1859) was educated at the Ecole Normale
Superieure, and graduated in philosophy. From 1881 to 1885 he was
a Professor of Philosophy at Albi and Toulouse ; from 1885 to 1889 he
sat in the Chamber of Deputies as an independent Republican ; from
1889 to 1892 he was again a professor at Toulouse, and became a
Socialist. In 1893-98 he sat as a Socialist in the Chamber ; he lost
his seat in 1898, but regained it in 1902. In 1899 the French Social-
ists were united under his leadership ; but the entrance of M, Millerand
into the Cabinet in that year caused M. Guesde to lead a secession
in 1900, followed by that of M. Vaillant in 1901, and of the Alleman-
ists in 1902. There remain, however, under M. Jaures' leadership
about three-fourths of the French Socialists, with the ablest of the
younger men.

I DO not entirely disown the idea of the general strike, em-
ployed in the legal form which will give it a maximum force"
The delusion is to suppose that the general strike gains force
by becoming violent. That delusion has been experienced in
the case of the partial strike.

M. Briand. — It is legal, we agree ; but it is made revolu-
tionary by counter-revolutionary resistance. See what took
place at Barcelona ; soldiers were despatched, guns went off,
and the strike transformed itself into a revolutionary force.

M. Jaures. — Let us be quite clear. I do not at all say


that the general strike cannot transform itself into a violent
movement ; but you are equally unable to guarantee a partial
strike against doing so. I do not say that the general strike
may not issue in acts of violence, and perhaps, if the repres-
sion is cruel and exasperates public feeling, in a revolutionary
movement. But I do say that when we talk to the proletariate
about the general strike, we must say that, so far as the cool
thought and deliberate will of men can govern events, — and
events of that kind — they should set themselves to preserve
for the general strike its peaceful and legal character, because
in that way it has more force.

That is the history of the partial strike. At first workmen
did not think of it otherwise than as a progress towards revolt.
Not a single partial strike occurred at the beginning of the
century which was not accompanied by machine-breaking, by
material violence against persons and property ; the workers
fancied that the strike would only be effective if it terrified
the employers and the Government. Well, by experience the
English working-class, which is our elder brother in the matter
of strikes, perceived that the partial strike was all the more
effective the better it was prepared and the more calmly,
peaceably, and lawfully it was conducted ; precisely because
it did not give brutal force an [occasion for interfering ; and
because in this way the economic interests of the bourgeoisie
could be disturbed to a maximum extent.

I claim that experience, which has proved to the workers
that the partial strike was the more effective the more it kept
within the law, — I claim that the same experience will prove it
for the general strike, at least in democratic countries. That
is why the example of Spain, which you mention, cannot hold
good for our country. You know that in Spain universal
suffrage is only a universal swindle ; you know that Spanish
democracy does not exist. And, let me tell you, it is, precisely,
experience which proves that the working-class is only obliged
to resort to violence in the most backward countries.

I said just now that not many shots had been fired in


Europe. But many have been fired in the world ? Where ?
In South America, in the Spanish Republics. The regime of
the rifle goes along to-day with the decaying regimes. Your
Spanish example cannot hold good for France. I am con-
vinced, — and it is why I blame our friends for hesitating to
take a stand on the general strike, and leaving it wrapped in
a mystery which makes a bugbear, — I am convinced that when
we attack that idea we shall see that the general strike can
incorporate itself in the normal movement of modern working-
class democracies, that it will increase the strength of the
working-class and constrain it to a new effort at self-conscious-
ness and self-government, if it wishes to obtain from it all the
results which it may produce.

Therefore I am with you for the general strike, but on
condition that it is not understood as Guerard understood it
some years ago. . . . The idea was spread that the general
strike was a machine which one kept in one's pocket, with the
key of the machine in another pocket, in order that the police
might not seize in the same pocket both the key and the
machine. Then, at a given moment, one wound up the
machinery, it struck the hour of the revolution, and the
revolution was accomplished. That is the idea which we must
not allow to obtain credence, because, even if it triumphed,
the general strike would not realize Communism before the
mass of the nation was prepared for it.

Some people seem to think that to create the new society
it is enough to have for the moment the upper hand in the
old. No, had the Commune triumphed, it would not have
achieved Socialism. At most it would have set up in France,
thirty years earlier, the Waldeck-Rousseau Ministry. I do not
belittle what the triumphant Commune might have done ; it
might have spared us the ten or fifteen years whieh we spent
in fighting the reaction and the forces of the past. But at
most it would have been a Gambettist republic, with Clemen-
ceau on the Extreme Left, which would have been installed after
the Commune's triumph, because in spreading it would have



let itself be adapted to the mental and economic conditions of
the country as a whole.

And what would have been true of the triumphant Commune,
would be true to-morrow of a triumphant general strike. Ah,
had it triumphed at Barcelona, do you think it would have
swept away in a trice the old monastic, feudal Spain, with
its great estates, its great households, and installed modern
scientific communism ? It would have been lucky, if it founded
a republic constantly threatened by a military dictator.

So we must tell the working-class that the general strike is
not this wonderful resource, this wonderful treasure. Revelin
said : " The trouble is that we shall never be able to give a
verdict on the general strike; there is no experience of it."
True, Re'velin, there is no experience of the revolutionary,
ideal, absolute general strike, of which some people talk. But
already, whatever they say, there have been many general
strikes. It is an error to talk of " the general strike ; " one
should say, " general strikes " — there have been many such,
and there will be more. And in examining the series we shall
find, that, like partial strikes, like the trade-union movement,
like universal suffrage, they are a mixture of good and evil ;
that sometimes they bring defeat, sometimes they bring partial
victories ; that they improvise nothing, are not a substitute
for effort, do not enable the working-class to dispense with

Look at the general strikes which have already happened ;
for they have happened, and if you wait till the whole of the
working-class material has been set in motion by a declaration
of the general strike, that will never happen. There have been
already extensive strikes, involving numerous bodies, and
aimed at supporting claims before the bar of public opinion ;
and that is the only complete definition of the general strike.
There have been several. And sometimes, as at Barcelona,
they have had results which we cannot estimate ; sometimes
they have had good but incomplete results, as in Belgium —
since there, after winning universal suffrage with plural voting,


the general strike had to stop without winning universal sullrage
pure and simple. Thus it has succeeded ; but succeeded
within limits.

Resolution of the Enschede Conference of the Social
Democratic Labour Party of Holland upon the
General Strike

The Conference was held on May 31 and June i, 1903. The
second and general strike of that year broke out on April 7. It was
directed against a Bill to prohibit strikes of railwaymen, which
seemed likely to secure the assent of an unrepresentative Chamber.
It failed, and the Bill passed.

The Congress,

Considering that the recent movement against the
Coercion Law came upon the labour movement unexpectedly,
in consequence of Government persecution and the tyranny
of the railway directors ;

Considering that if the workers had possessed universal
suffrage, they would have had in it a weapon for self-defence,
and in this case would not have taken refuge in a general strike
to defend their threatened rights ;

Considering that for want of a unanimous class-conscious-
ness, and from insufficient organization, they have not yet
shown themselves capable of successfully carrying through such
great movements, and that these deficiencies cannot be made

Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 19 of 35)