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 2 of 35)
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society as a continual handicap, increasing the amounts of capital owned,
and diminishing the relative numlier of owners.


a diminishing class who have capital and can work on their
own account, and an increasing class who have not, but must
sell their services — " capitalists " and " proletarians." If the
right of private property in capital is secured in its absolute
form (the form taught to Europe by Roman law), the prole-
tarians are absolutely at the capitalists' mercy. They vmst
work for the capitalists, for otherwise they cannot work at all,
and would starve. The capitalists can make them do what
work they please, under what conditions they please, and need
only give even a subsistence wage so far as they fear a shortage
of labour.

Socialism then asserts, that unless the capitalists' right of
property is limited, the proletarian's degradation will be un-
limited. Even Roman law, when it forbade the creditor to
enslave his debtor, acknowledged that the State must fix some
minimum, below which the capitalist cannot bargain for the
proletarian to go. When Socialism advocates, e.g., a com-
pulsory eight hours' day, it proceeds on exactly parallel lines ;
a capitalist shall not force a proletarian to work nine hours,
any more than he can force him to become a slave. Broadly
this process may be termed the " expropriation " of capital.
The employers have been quite logical in protesting that " a
man can do what he likes with his own." As soon as the State
says, " You shall not do this or that with your capital," ex-
propriation has begun.

We should note here, though, that expropriation may take
one of two forms — the State may abolish the owner, or it may
abolish ownership. It does the former, whenever a railway
system is nationalized or a tramway system is municipalized. It
does the latter, partially, when it regulates the hours or condi-
tions of labour, and more completely, when (as by compulsory
arbitration) it fixes labour's wage. The two methods some-
times compete. Land nationalization illustrates the former, —
the State becomes landlord \ while a policy of land registry
combines with a heavy progressive land-tax, restraints on leas-
ing, prohibition of mortgages, and regulation of landed


inheritance, illustrates the latter, — the State abolishes landlord-
ism. Doubts will arise as to which method is the best in
particular cases ; but as a rule the former only protects the
proletarian as consumer, and the latter only as producer.
Each, therefore, needs to be supplemented by the other. A
State railway may benefit the consuming community in any
case; but it only benefits railwaymen if it adopts a good
standard wage policy (which, e.g., the Prussian State Railways
do not). A standard wage system benefits proletarian pro-
ducers in any case ; but they can only realize its value in
consumption, if the State protects them against monopolies
by intelligently nationalizing and municipalizing them.

The moral claim from which Socialism starts is that for
equality of opportunity. This may be made clearer by a
single illustration. Elementary education in England is
Socialistic ; secondary is not. Observe that neither is possible
without capital — that is, proletarian children (say 90 per cent,
of those reared) must in default of State action or charity go
without education. The State has stepped in, and has said
to every proletarian child : " You shall have elementary
education ; you shall have at least the ' three R's ' to help you
in working and in bargaining for the means to work." Social-
ism demands ^ an identical policy for further education. It
asks that every child shall have an equal chance of it, and
that his capacity shall decide how far he shall go. But
under a strict operation of private property the proletarian
children must have no chance at all, and the amount of educa-
tion which each gets be proportioned not to his own capacity
so much as to his father's capital.

It is worth while in this place to give a brief glance at the
historical development of Socialism prior to that contained in
this volume. Modern Socialism originated about Genesis of
a century ago in the disillusionments following Socialism,
the industrial revolution, which emanated from England,
and the political revolution, which emanated from France.
' Cf. all the programmes.


The " great industry " and the whole cornucopia of machinery
suddenly increased wealth and poverty side by side in a
very puzzling fashion. There is no need to recapitulate here
the horrors of 1800-1850; how with the introduction of
"labour-saving" machinery, men, women, and small children
were worked to death, or how the textile operatives who pro-
duced a hundred times as much as the hand-loom weavers,
suffered hardship where the latter had enjoyed comfort.^ A
parallel puzzle sprang out of the political revolution. This
was not so much the collapse of constitutional card-castles as
the failure of egalitc — of the abolition of privilege. Privilege
of wealth replaced privilege of birth, through the law of
property ; and through the law of inheritance restored it.

The medley of schools and parties and interested classes who
tried to answer these two puzzles may be divided into two main
groups — those who saw the good in the two revolutions, and
wanted them carried further ; and those who saw the evil, and
wanted them put back. The peculiarity of the Socialists was
that they saw both the good and the evil, and could not there-
fore go whole-heartedly with either party. Tories of the type
illustrated in England by Southey or Lord Shaftesbury were in
sympathy with the Socialist policy of regulating the factories.
Radicals of the Utilitarian school were in sympathy with their
extreme democracy and with the faith which nearly all
Socialists have always had in the economic soundness of the
new methods of industry. But the Tories could not accept
what might have won the Radicals ; and the Radicals could
not accept what might have won the Tories. Hence while
the Socialists got some help from both parties, they were
generally viewed as Ishmaels by both — a curious fate for men
so incurably benevolent as their founders, Owen and St.

' That the hardship became starvation was referred by its sufferers to
taxation, Protection, and particularly the Corn Laws. The same sufferers
remained unanimous that their diagnosis had been correct after its remedy,
Free Trade, was applied.


The effect of their finding themselves thus awkwardly
outside the poHtical pale was that the early Utopian
Socialists became Utopians. They were not Socialism.
" unpractical " men in quite the ordinary sense ; Owen,
for instance, was the largest manufacturer of his time. But
in the existing party situation they almost despaired of
capturing, except for special objects, the State machinery; and
easily fell into the error of thinking that they could act for
themselves. Their most obvious resource was to form co-
operative units of producers. Owen knew that, though cotton
operatives were paid very badly, cotton mills paid very well.
Why not work a mill by an association of men, who should
agree to share gains pretty equally, instead of making one man
a millionaire and the rest paupers? Better still, why not
form a settlement of many such associations working at
different industries and exchanging the products in propor-
tions measured by the labour-time spent on each ? This
solution, in ditferent forms, haunted Socialists for long. Some-
times the idea was to set up the co-operators in new lands as
fresh nations, sometimes to plant them in existing societies
which they should be in, but not of. Owen himself tried both
experiments. The constructive idea of Fourier — his "phalan-
stbres " — has the same root. Louis Blanc, noting that though
workmen might agree to do without an employer they could
not do without capital, proposed that the State should loan
them capital. This proposal (revived by Lassalle, in 1862-64)
shows Utopianism forced back, in spite of itself, upon
politics.^ The least Utopian of early Socialists was, in some
respects, St. Simon. The importance of studying in history
the action of classes, the notion of changing the State itself
from a police State to a director of industry, and the idea of
Internationalism, are all to be found in his writing; and if he

* It is the Utopianism of co-operation which has endeared it to the
" Christian Socialists " of different countries, who otherwise have very few
points in common. Their leaders have welcomed it as a way of improving
society without disturbing politics.


did not found a party, he tried to found a church. Owen's
activity was, by contrast, fertile rather in its by-products. At
New Lanark he showed what a factory and a factory village
could be like. And he was the father of factory legislation as
well as of co-operation and trade-union federation. With the
passing of the first Factory Acts Socialism began to be
realized. As Marx said later, " The Ten Hours Bill was
not merely a great practical success; it was the victory of
a principle." ^

The interest of the Utopians is now academic, and nothing
further will be found of them in this volume but an extract
from Bebel's Charles Fourier^ indicating the differences
Marx and between their Socialism and that of modern poli-
Lassaiie ; ticians. The authors of the newer standpoint
making were Karl Marx (with Engels) and Lassalle ;
influence. through whose medium, rather than at first hand,
whatever now survives of their predecessors' influence, survives.
Their ideas made an epoch, because with them two decisive
qualities first came to the front in Socialism — the scientific
and the political. The change may be in large measure
traced to Hegel, from whom both Marx and Lassalle learned
the evolutionary view of history and the organic view of
society. Both were men of great learning, by whom the
immense work done by economists, historians, and jurists in
the first half of the nineteenth century was appreciated and
utilized. Both also were, though with differences, born
agitators. With '•'■ the white steel of science " ^ they set
themselves to seek the natiruothwendig — what by the natural
laws of social development must be ^ — and to design a policy

' The dictum has been taken by Bernstein as a motto for his Die
Voraussetzimge^i des Sozialismus.

• Cp. infra, p. 45.

^ Both were Jews (like Ricardo), and have been reproached with
*' Semitic logic " — Marx the oftener, Lassalle the more justly. Marx's race,
perhaps, comes out in the habit of expression, by which he continually
presents concrete for abstract, fact for tendency, symbol for thing
symbolized — a mere vividness of thought easily mistaken for crudity, Cp.


as a modem engineer designs a breakwater, so that the
currents it breaks actually strengthen it by their pressure.
And with the agitator's political instinct they set themselves to
build a new party, by bringing into the political arena as a new
conscious element the proletarian class.

Socialism took several decades to come round to the
Lassalle-Marxian point of view, but for most European
countries the process was completed in the 'eighties. Since
then its internal history has been that of a bifurca- Revolu-
tion in each country into two schools. The one tionary
is called " Revolutionary" or *' Marxist," the other formist""
*' Possibilist," " Opportunist," " Revisionist," Socialism.
" Fabian," " Ministerial," " Reformist," — the last term being
the most exact and comprehensive. Non-Socialists like to
emphasize the difference between them, but seldom under-
stand its bearings. " Revolutionary Socialism," one sees
newspapers say, " is becoming a party of peaceful reform."
The revolutionaries are supposed to be non-Parliamentary, to
wish to replace the methods of democratic constitutionalism
by some dimly conceived method of violence ; the reformists,
on the other hand, are said to be really mere Liberals, men
who have found Socialism worthless, and gone back on it
without having the courage to say so. Neither of these views
will survive an examination of the facts ; the difference
between the two schools, although profoundly interesting, is
not so bald and elementary.

In the first place, the revolutionary Marxists are a constitu-
tional and Parliamentary party. The gospel of violence was
not Marx's but Blanqui's ; and though Marx played with it,
notably at the time of the Communist Manifesto, it is one of
his great merits that he saw the indispensableness of consti-
tutionalism to democracy and to a constructive revolution.
Lassalle's splendid suffrage-agitation in Germany drove home

for a striking corroboration of this as a Semitic trait, Renan, Viedejcsus^
c. xviii. [e.g. "des habitudes de style dont le caractere essentiel est de
preter a la metaphore, ou pour mieux dire a I'idee, une pleine realite ").


the idea, and after the tragedy of the Paris Commune in 1S71,
the notion of promoting Socialism by violence yielded every-
where to that of capturing constitutional machinery — except in
countries like Russia, where no such machinery exists. Between
Kautsky and Bernstein, Guesde and Millerand, Ferri and Turati,
Mr. Hyndman and Mr. Sidney Webb, there is no essential dis-
pute as to the expediency of Socialists entering Parliaments or
other popularly elected bodies. Nothing is more typical of
the Marxist leaders in Germany than the almost sacred im-
portance which they teach the workers to attach to the vote,
and the tenacity with which they defend such Parliamentary
privileges as belong to the German Reichstag. The only non-
Parliamentary political method which survives is that of the
general strike. But its adoption has been practically confined
to countries where an undemocratic franchise or system of
constituencies renders the capture of elected bodies impracti-
cable, and in nearly all cases it has been adopted on purpose
to remove these restrictions, i.e. to render itself superfluous
for the future.^ The only country with a democratic machinery,
where further importance is attached to it, is France ; this is
perhaps because the memory of Napoleonic plebiscites still
weakens French confidence in the ballot-box.

In the second place, the reformists have not abandoned
Socialism. They have not come round to laisser-faire^ because
their campaign against it has been worked out more in detail.
In principle they remain very close to Marx — how close may
be seen in this volume, if Mr. and Mrs. Webb's preface of

' Its most successful employment was in Belgium in 1893, when it
secured the abolition of a narrow property franchise, and enabled thirty
Socialists to be at once elected to a Chamber which previously contained
none. In 1902 the Belgian Socialists again employed it in the cause of
franchise reform, but failed ; an almost contemporary efifort in Sweden
was rather more successful. On these latter occasions the orthodox organs
of German Social Democracy expressed themselves as very doubtful of the
method. The general strike in Holland in 1903, in which the Socialists
played a leading part, would scarcely have occurred had the Dutch
Parliament been representative.


1902, or M. Millerand's St. Mande speech, be compared with
Liebknecht's Marxian speech at the Erfurt Congress. Their
innovation is primarily in tactics, though it reacts intricately
upon theory. A party, whose programme comprises more than
one reform, may be impressed either with the value of doing
the many things simultaneously as a system,^ so that by con-
currence they help each other's operation, or with that of doing
them successively piecemeal, so that each paves the way for
the other. Marxism, with its love of system, takes the former
view ; the reformists take the latter. Again, as we have seen,
Socialism is essentially an appeal on behalf of the interests
of one class, the proletarians, against what the other, the
capitalists, conceive to be theirs. Socialists can either
emphasize this contrast, the Class-War, and rely wholly on
conscious proletarian support, or they can take the line rather
of reconciling the opposition in a higher unity, the Solidarity
of Classes, pleading with the capitalists that they have miscon-
ceived their interest and that the true interest of all the com-
munity is that of the workers. Obviously the Class- War is
adapted for leading up to the simultaneous method, and the
Solidarity of Classes for carrying out the successive. As
between the methods, each has pretty evident pitfalls. The
revolutionary may lead to a sterile propaganda of hate ; the
reformist may dissipate itself in demoralizing compromises,
and find all its adherents either bought off or disgusted seriativi.
But as between the ideas, much can be pleaded for each.
English tradition, of course, is utterly in favour of successive-
ness. But the simultaneous idea has a growing importance,
the more complicated society becomes, and the more im-
possible it is to disturb one part without creating a need for
rectification in another. The greatest historical achievements
of English successiveness occurred at simpler stages of society
than to-day's.

' This does not of course mean in a single " catastrophic " day or by a
stroke of the pen, but it does mean by a Socialist Government which has
definitely attained power and can handle its programme as a whole.



It seemed desirable in this volume to give excerpts from
one of the many general discussions between revolutionaries and
reformists, which have occurred in the great European parties.
For this purpose the Millerand debate at the Bordeaux Con-
gress of the French Socialist party has been chosen. The
Hepp alternative would have been a Bernstein debate of

Bepnsteln. the German party. But for several reasons Bern-
steinism has been kept out of this volume. In the first place,
Herr Bernstein, though a brilliant thinker, is not a brilliant
politician, and has hardly any " following " in the strict sense. ^
Secondly, his gospel is cast in the form, largely, of a criticism upon
Marxian details, which few English readers could appreciate.
Thirdly, most of its ideas are imported and adapted from those
of foreign democracies, by turning to which we can get them
more at first hand. The Bordeaux debates are pervaded by a
thoroughly French genius for seizing the essential ; and throw,
too, into valuable prominence the particular position
of M. Jaurbs. He, though classed as a reformist,
is really a synthetizer, trying to combine adroitly the best of
both schools. While accepting a solidarity of classes, he insists
that the operation of a conscious organized proletarian class is
indispensable in politics. While pursuing reforms step by step,
he insists that the steps shall always be presented to the
electorate as part of a staircase. While defending alliances
with other parties, he has always insisted that the Socialist
party must remain a separate one. In these respects his
method differs from that of many kindred English progressives
more fundamentally than they are always aware. And it has
been more successful. -

' Those leaders of the German party, such as Von Vollmar and Auer,
who, in greater or less degree, sympathize with him, are not disciples. The
germs of all Von VoUmar's reformism may be found in his own speeches
before Bernsteinism ajjpeared. Bernstein may have fortifiedithem by some
arguments, but he has weakened them by his lack of the tactical sense.

- At present the achievement and prospects of Socialism in France are
probably the best in Europe ; and this, although the episode of the Commune


We will outline the theoretical differences between the two
schools, by comparing their attitudes towards the chief issues
— Nationalism (with whose aggressive aspect wc may often
identify Imperialism), Clericalism, Protectionism, and Agra-
rianism — opposed to Socialism, and towards its principal ally,

Marxian Socialism was in its genesis international, non-
religious. Free Trade, and urban. Its attitude towards national
and religious differences was purely negative; they were to
be ignored, lest they should divert attention from the all-
important issue between capitalists and prole-
tarians as such. The Internationalism resulting and intep-
from this has often taken practical and very noble national-
forms ; it is sufificient to recall the protest of '^'"*
Liebknecht and Bebel against Bismarck's annexation of Alsace-
Lorraine. Outside the Socialist ranks Nationalism in one
form and another has meantime been growing, being evidenced
particularly by an unexampled increase in all national arma-
ments and an unexpected persistence of the militarist spirit.
Against armaments and against militarism the protest of the
revolutionary Socialists has everywhere been of the most
strenuous. It is in general echoed by the reformists, but with
less assurance. The concrete spirit of reformism, which is
careful of national peculiarities in its domestic politics, cannot
overlook them wholly in foreign affairs. Moreover, its insistence
on the Solidarity of Classes and the all-round interests of a

in 1 87 1 almost annihilated it, and it has revived in face of an opposition
— from laisser-faire theorists and from Roman Catholics — to which none in
England is comparable. In the latter country a whole-hearted devotion to
opportunism and piecemeal reform has, since 1895, been virtually fruitless.
Reference, e.g., to the programme for the London County Council
formulated by the Fiibian Society in 1S95, shows that not one of the more
important of its nineteen desiderata have been secured, and many of the
most important have been decisively negatived. The majority of the
Council itself would at any time have endorsed them almost en bloc ; but
the omission to educate the electorate into a systematic view made it easy
for Parliament, including the London members, to ignore them.


community tends to substitute a national corollary for the in-
ternational one of the Class-War. Thus in Germany Herr
Bernstein has reminded the extreme anti-militarists, that
national Germany is the vessel of a certain culture, which some
of her military rivals (e.g. the Slavs) do really threaten. An
analogous course has been taken in France by M. Millerand.
The furthest instance of this tendency was the argument of a
few leading English Fabians who supported the South African
War, They urged that Imperialism and Internationalism were
really the same, since both deprecated the separatism of small
nations. This was not unlike arguing that theft and voluntary
communism are the same, since both operate against private
property. Plainly such arguments only appreciate the negative
sides of Imperialism or of theft, and ignore the animus of the
agent. Nor does Imperialism become less Nationalist by
being pleaded as promoting Civilization. The essence of
Nationalism is that the members of each nation believe their
national civilization to be Civilization. Perhaps the sanest and
most central line on this, as on many other questions, has been
that inspired by M. Jaures. He has not ceased to profess a
warm French patriotism, while putting extreme pressure on
the French Government in the directions of international equity
and European disarmament.

A slighter divergence has occurred on the Clerical question.
The orthodox Socialist policy, that religion is a purely private
Socialism concern, is much strained by the anti-Socialist
andcieri- activity of the clergy in many, chiefly Roman
caiism. Catholic, countries. It lets the Socialist insist on

secularizing education and stopping the State-salary which
many States give in one form or another to their clergy;
but it forbids him to attack this or that religion as such.
It has tactical as well as theoretic advantages, and its
more rigid observance by German Socialists in recent
years has won for them at last a considerable number of
Roman Catholic voters. Whether the French Socialist party
has violated it by backing M. Combes must be matter of


opinion. The stiffer Marxians incline to think that they

The attitude of Socialism to Protection has not been fully
theorized. The main argument of the classical economists

Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 2 of 35)