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 8 of 35)
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against the risk of constructing too hastily and too rigidly at a
time when science may upset in a moment the very elements
of life — perhaps, as our great chemist, Berthelot, once sug-
gested, by utterly altering our ways of taking food, or, perhaps,
by profoundly modifying the conditions of industry through
unexpected applications of the transmission of energy. In
speaking thus our friend only brought out the two aspects of
Socialism — what forms at once its ideal power and its practical
greatness. Our philosophers, our ideologues (a fine and a
right word — in its proper place) construct systems ; collectivism
is an ideal and complete plan of society. But if we look
upwards, higher and higher, we do not for that lose our foot-
hold ; we keep in touch with the firm, resisting ground. We
do not substitute our imaginations for the realities amid which
we move ; and everything we realize is meant to be, and
must be, the consequence and result of phenomena already


accomplished. But hypothesis is one of the needful means
to progress in every kind of knowledge ; and it would be a
strange representation, or rather misrepresentation, of the
teaching of the geniuses, like Claude Bernard, who have insti-
tuted the experimental method, to pretend to compel sociologist
or scientist to erase from his papers the fruitful hypothesis.

One of our opponents, I fancy M. Meline himself, once
found no better way of taxing our friend Jaurbs with the
boldness of his views than to call him " the poet

Its InSTDll'S,"*

of Socialism." Doubtless M. Meline scarcely tion depends
fancied, as he flung this trait at our friend, that he on its broad
was paying him the best and most precious com- human life
pliment ever received either by Jaurbs or by the and in-
party which is proud of including him. Certainly
he is a " poet " in the grandest sense of the word — the supreme
orator who has thrilled the soul of the artisan and peasant
democracy with the most moving accents heard by a French
audience for a hundred years. But it is not given to every
party to arouse poets and be defended thus. A lost cause
wrapped in the double prestige of tradition and misfortune
may know a Berryer. A people arisen to claim its rights or
defend its soil may borrow the voice of a Mirabeau or a
Danton, or, a century later, a Gambetta ; but the capitalist
class, wholly tied to the defence of its material interests, with-
out ideals or beliefs, cannot with all its gold purchase an
advocate whose voice can win for it the hearts of the people
whom it exploits. If Socialism to-day dominates and over-
shadows every party, if it attracts and retains the passionate
interest of every cultivated mind, if it thrills every generous
heart, it is because in its large synthesis it embraces every
manifestation of life, because nothing human is alien to it,
because it alone offers to-day to our hunger for justice and
happiness an ideal purely human and apart from all dogma —
separating itself thus unmistakably from the " Christian
Socialism," which is only a wretched sham Socialism,^ since,
' It is necessary to remind the reader that " Christian Socialism " has an


far from working to set men free, it works only for the rule and
dominance of a threatened theocracy.

Socialism does aim at securing for every human being, by
a beneficent and quite natural transformation, these two
twin blessings, liberty and property, of which the
of Socialism capitalistic regime inevitably robs him. But in thus
must be con- indicating the end which our party pursues, I have
s u lona . aj^sY^gi-ed beforehand the ridiculous charge, so often
made, that it expects its ideas to triumph only by violent
revolution. Our eminent friend, Gabriel Deville, whom the
Fourth Constituency will send next Sunday to sit with us in the
Socialist group at the Chamber, said some days ago, strongly
and definitely, that we could get the social transformation
from no rebel minority, but from a majority with a purpose.
Resort to force ? — for whom and against whom ? Republicans
before everything, we do not indulge the crazy idea of appeal-
ing to a pretender's sham prestige or a dictator's sword to secure
the triumph of our doctrines. We appeal only to universal
suffrage. It is the voter whom we want to set economically
and politically free. We claim only the right of persuading
him. I do not suppose any one will credit us with the absurd
intention of taking revolutionary steps against the Senate ;
which a Radical Ministry, had it vacillated less, would have
sufiiced to reduce to reason. No, to realize the immediate
reforms capable of relieving the lot of the working-class, and
thus fitting it to win its own freedom, and to begin, as condi-
tioned by the nature of things, the socialization of the means
of production, it is necessary and sufficient for the Socialist
party to endeavour to capture the , Government through
universal suffrage.

But while in the commune, the department, and the nation
Socialism works to replace capitalistic by social property, it
cannot lose sight of the general international character, which
the development of knowledge, and consequently of human

utterly different meaninjT in nearly every different country, and that M.
Millerand refers to ihe Christian Socialism of his own.


relations, has stamped upon the social problem. I know how

insincerely our opponents have tried to exploit against us the

international understanding between the workers. ^ , ,.

° Socialist

Men who know no frontiers when they want to con- internation-

cert profitable agreements between speculators of ^^'sm.
any race, cry out for shame and horror at the thought that workers
who do not speak the same language can meet to discuss their
common interests. These patriots have not feared to fling the
fatherland into our domestic quarrels as a handy argument
to help their cause. But the good sense of the people has
done justice to these shameless manoeuvres. At this meeting,
where our country's single mind, as also her various aspects,
is so strongly asserted, I need not repeat that we have never
had the unnatural and insane idea of breaking and throwing
away that unique instrument of material and moral progress,
forged by the centuries, which is called the French fatherland.
No, never ; not when, in a few days' time, we receive witli all
due sympathy and respect Liebknecht, the unfailing champion
of the Socialistic idea, the brave defender of right, who in
187 1 sacrificed his freedom for his admirable protest against
the crime of annexing Alsace-Lorraine which the Iron Chan-
cellor was preparing; not when we receive the German
deputy, nor when in a few weeks' time we go to the international
Congress at London, shall we ever forget that, while inter-
nationalists, we are Frenchmen and patriots. "Patriots" and
" internationalists " are two titles that our ancestors of the
French Revolution were able nobly to combine.

Such, citizens, are in my opinion the three essential points
which are necessary and sufficient to characterize a Socialistic

programme — intervention of the State to convert

' . ,. . . . , , ,.„ Summary.

from capitalistic mto national property the different

categories of the means of production and exchange in propor-
tion as they become ripe for social appropriation ; capture of
Government through universal suffrage ; international under-
standing between the workers.


By a. Millerand

The following is a preface to a collection of speeches published
by Millerand under the above title in 1903. The reformist method as
opposed to the revolutionary, the national interest as beside the
internationalism of the Marxists, the "solidarity of classes" as
beside the Marxian class-war, and the expediency of Socialists
participating in Governments not wholly Socialistic, are the main
points of controversy handled. The preface, which appeared some
time before the Bordeaux Congress, helped to define some issues there,
and its documentary importance has been very widely recognized.

I HAVE collected a few of the speeches which I have delivered
in the past ten years, partly by the wish of friends, partly lo
indicate once more the leading characteristics of a policy to
which at least the merit of continuity will be conceded.

A party which is not content with ambitions at short range,
which fixes its gaze high and far, requires an ideal ; the
Socialist party proclaims its own. I once tried to formulate
it ; I was then fortunate enough to secure the assent of all
fractions of the party, voiced by their accredited representa-
tives. Some of those who approved me in 1896 have since
withdrawn their approval. One of their complaints against
the programme, which they had applauded, is that it won over
too quickly too many new adherents. I feel this fault to be
a creditable one. Perhaps the programme only fell into it
because it was equally removed from vague generalities




admitting of every construction, and from false definiteness
which events may soon belie.

It is important to determine with the utmost precision the
direction which we wish to follow. Where are we going?
What dream of justice, freedom, and happiness is ours?
By what means and in what shape do we hope to realize it ?
These questions must be answered, and the answer which we
give is, I think, unequivocal and unambiguous.

In transforming the material world science has simultane-
ously, by a parallel effect which cannot be escaped, overturned
tlie economic conditions of mankind. A chasm has opened
between the lot of the worker of industry, serf no longer of the
soil but of the machine, and that of the employer, often an
impersonal company, whom he serves without knowing him.
In spite of the progress of philosophy, legislation, and morals,
there have appeared two opposing classes with economic
interests which can only be reconciled by the absorption of
the one in the other. Socialism aims, in the social system,
at abolishing the classes, as the French Revolution, in the
political system, resulted in abolishing the orders. It wishes
the wage-earner to rise to the dignity of a partner. It wishes,
not that individual property should be abolished in the new
humanity — which is an incomprehensible proposal — but, on
the contrary, that it should be so transformed and enlarged as
to be for every man a sort of natural and necessary extension
of himself over things, the indispensable instrument of life and

Socialism does not, any more than did the French Revolu-
tion, propose to legislate for Frenchmen, or Germans, or
Englishmen, but for men. Everywhere where the same stage
of civilization has brought with the same greatness the same
misery, the same transformations seem to it to be rendered
necessary. Thus, in spite of differences of race and language,
the sentiment of a common ideal unites across space the
Socialist proletariate of the two worlds.


Although it is sketched in large strokes, this ideal cannot
therefore without unfairness be reproached as obscure or
equivocal. Its two essential characteristics, on the contrary,
are quite clearly marked. It pursues, through an international
agreement of the workers, the radical transformation of the
conditions of property, which should cease to be the appanage
of a certain number of men, and become the lot of all.

Some Socialists, in every country, have not withstood the
too natural temptation to grasp the problem more closely, and,
forestaUing time, to build up the whole structure of the future
city. These Utopias are unembarrassing, and may even be
useful, if people do not forget to take them for what they are
— works of imagination, whose shifting shapes are daily
modified by reality. They would be dangerous, they might
even be fatal, if people were drawn on to claim to crystallize
in them Socialist action and thought. Experience has shown,
how inevitably errors become manifest, after a relatively short
time, even in the constructions of a man of genius.

If it is, I do not say legitimate, but inherent in the progress
of all knowledge, that one should use hypotheses, and if the
collectivist hypothesis, which we use, derives' from the very
development of the capitalistic regime a singular value, still
its legitimate employment must never blind us into mistaking
the means for the end. We must beware of becoming the
prisoners of necessarily variable formulae which must change
as men progress. Our end is not to erect an immovable
edifice on a fixed plan according to a prescribed ritual ; it is
not to build a church for a sect, but to make the world more
habitable for everybody by eff'acing in succession the social
injustices, and by educating a humanity emancipated step
by step from internal tyrannies as well as external constraints.

* Sf * ^!> :!=

Edncatiov : these few syllables enclose the whole future
of mankind. It is true, profoundly true, that the emancipation
of the workers will be the task of the workers themselves ; we
should understand by that, that they must look only to


themselves for their liberation, and especially must make them-
selves able and worthy to work it out. But how ? And this
question surely has a cruel irony under a social regime, where all
the strength of the worker is daily spent in his master's service
without his retaining any leisure beyond what repairs for
to-morrow's effort the organism worn out by to-day's. So
society, which has the greatest interest in the regular and
normal march of progress, is compelled to intervene with
a view to securing for all its members humane conditions
of work.

This position is no longer debated as regards children and
women. The regulation of the working day, so far as con-
cerns them, no longer arouses even theoretical opposition.
The force of logic has led legislation to adopt the same rule
for men working with them. The time is at hand, when by a
fortunate necessity the same law will apply to all workers,
whatever their age or sex, setting them free to be men and
citizens as well as producers.

Equally beyond dispute now is the need of regulating
labour so as to secure health and prevent accidents. Per-
ceptible improvements have been made in this respect,
particularly in the great industry ; much is left to be won. It
is no mean advantage to have reached a point where only the
facts of cases are disputed, and one does not collide with the
barrier of a pretended principle.

Thus there has been embodied and moulded the concep-
tion of a legislation protecting the individual, careful of his
development, directed towards the defence and the setting in
operation of every power and all the wealth contained in germ
in the human being.

From this higher idea proceed the laws on education of
every grade, whether they are concerned to furnish every
child with the small primar)' capital without which a man
will live among his fellows like a foreigner to them, or
whether to organize technical education and apprenticeship,
or whether to swell the reservoir of superior knowledge


whence every people draws the elements of its prosperity
and power.

It is not enough to arm the individual for the struggle,
and to take care that the very need of living does not reduce
him to a machine's part and rob him of all that makes life
valuable or joyous. Man is an organism no less fragile than
admirable, beset every yard of the way by accidents and
failings, whether they come from conflicts with things, from
imperfections of the social system, or from hereditary taints.
A whole set of laws is being worked out to prevent or
minimize the effects of unemployment, illness, infirmity,
accidents, and old age. At the head of this new code of
Social Insurance and Prevision might fittingly be inscribed the
proclamation of the first of the rights of man — the right to
live. On each of its pages it is inspired and vitalized by the
feeling of solidarity, which makes easy for collective humanity
steps forward which the isolated individual would be powerless
even to conceive.

Association, organization : these two fruitful ideas go side
by side. A predominant and decisive part must be played by
them in social evolution. Through them the weak things
of the proletariate will be joined together, and become aware
of their strength. Along with power will come knowledge of
duties and responsibilities.

Trade-unions, co-operative societies : under these two
principal forms, which the proletariate employs with more
or less ease and success according to its degree of education,
the first grouping takes place.

But the time is, I feel confident, not far off when people
will account it in the general interest that the world of workers
should not be organized solely outside the factory. The Bill
on the friendly regulation of labour disputes, which I introduced,
aims precisely at replacing the inorganic mass of workers of the
middle-sized and the great industry — exposed in war (I mean
strikes), as in peace, to every impulsive influence — by a methodi-
cal organization making the workers of every factory into an


ordered group, represented by regular delegates, having habi-
tual and normal relations with the management, fitted for
taking deliberate and reflective resolutions. The adoption
of its principle will save at once the special interests of the
workers and those, inseparable from them, of national

« * * * #

I touch here a subject which does not fail to excite and
even to scandalize a certain number of our friends. The
national interest, the solidarity of classes — are these questions
about which a Socialist has a right to be anxious without
betraying the ideal which he claims to serve, the triumph of a
Immanity freed from class-wars and from wars of nations ?

History is made up of elements too numerous and complex
for any one to be able, without vanity, to claim to fix a hard-
and-fast date for the triumph of his ideas. We fulfil our whole
duty if we work in our station, within the limits of our
strength, following the law of our nature, to prepare its victory.
I have said how high the Socialist ideal is, and how it is not
enclosed in the narrow bounds which time and circumstances
have fixed for any given nation. All the same, it spreads
from men to their neighbours, and no bad way of working for
its extension is to take pains first to win over one's fellow-

How, then, can this propaganda be determined irrespectively
of the environment wherein it is carried on ? Can method
and tactics be the same under different or even opposite
regimes ? If it is true that the Republic is the political
formula of Socialism, it follows, of course, that in a country
where Socialism has achieved the immense step forward of
reahzing its political formula, its action and procedure, once it
possesses republican forms and universal suffrage, will assume
quite a special aspect and character. This means that it is not
only the right but the imperative duty of Social Democracy in
France to adapt its method to the conditions of the political
regime in which it moves. It would betray the first of its


duties if it look refuge in mere phrases of revolution in order
to be saved the responsibiUties and burdens implied by the
reformist method and the pursuit of immediate results. It
would, by the same act, sacrifice the primordial interests of
the proletariate by declining the effort which should, little by
little, realize the aggregate of improvements which I tried to
resume in an exact summary.

But how will the French Socialist party have the right to
call the republican regime its own, how will it handle practi-
cally that incomparable instrument of reforms, if it affects
keeping outside of the Republican party's life and means to
isolate itself in the barren part of a systematic critic ? It will
only win that authority over the nation without which our
views cannot be realized, on condition that it remains neither
alien nor indifferent to any of its emotions and aspirations.
In domestic affairs it must take sides in the battle in which
the Republic is engaged, and formulate its opinion, inspiring
itself — as how should it else? — by its own ideal, but also by
the needs, the thoughts, and the traditions of the Republican
democracy, which it continues and from which it inherits. It
will not neglect either the good order and prosperity of the
pubUc finances, first condition of all social reform, or the
maintenance and development of the national production.
Public works, improvements destined to promote industry,
commerce, and agriculture, judicious management and utiliza-
tion of our colonial domain, — all these are questions which
will claim its scrutiny and retain its attention. It will be the
attentive and zealous servant of the nation's greatness and

Its patriotism — the more sincere because it hates the noisy
declamations of Chauvinist politicians — has nothing to fear
from its ardent love of peace and of mankind. Until that
unknown date when the Governments agree to lay aside in
concert the heavy burden of military expenses, isolated dis-
armament would be worse than a folly ; it would be a crime
against the very ideal whose foremost soldier the Socialists see


France to be. Wliilc applying themselves to uphultl and
strengthen our diplomacy in the ways of peace, to draw from
past conventions every effect of union and concord which they
admit, and to get new treaties concluded tightening the bonds
of friendship and solidarity between nations, they will watch
no less carefully to preserve the country's independence un-
endangered by any aggression, through the power of its arms
and the security of its alliances. While preparing for the
future, they will not forget either the duties created for them
by the past or the obligations imposed by the present.

To pursue successfully this realistic and ideal policy, to
make it yield all its fruits, the Socialist party must clearly
acknowledge its responsibilities.

I have not dissimulated the end towards which it marches,
and I am acquainted with the argument that Socialism can,
and indeed should, call itself " revolutionary," since in fact the
disappearance of the wage-system will be the most real and
radical of revolutions. Words do not frighten me ; but 1
dread equivocations. And what equivocation could be more
unfortunate than that of a party masked by a title which
contradicts formally its spirit and its method ? If we reckon
violence reprehensible as well as useless, if legal reforms
appear to us at once as our immediate objective and as the
sole practical procedure to bring us nearer our distant goal, let
us, then, have the courage, not a difficult courage, to call our-
selves by our own name, " reformists," since reformists we are.
Let us take our courage the whole way ; and having declared
for the reformist method, let us dare to accept its conditions
and consequences. Long before yesterday the French Socialist
party gave the first place in its programme to the capture of
government; long before to-day it passed from theories to
acts, and sent its campaigners into town-halls, into depart-
mental assembhes, into Parliament ; it did not do so without
resigning itself to the daily compromises which are the price
of action, and allying itself with the parties near to it. Having


gone so far, being persuaded more than ever of the utility and
necessity of a method which has proved its value in experience,
by what aberration should it desert that method at the very
moment when it is becoming most effective ? By what incon-
sistency should it consent to canvass every mandate, and yet
rigorously forbid itself to join in the Government, and take,
along with the highest responsibilities, the most certain
power ?

Such an illogical course, if possible to continue, would soon
ruin the credit and influence of the party weak enough and
sufficiently uncertain of itself to commit it. To put the people
off to the mysterious date when a sudden miracle will change
the face of the world, or day by day, reform by reform, by a
patient and stubborn effort to win step by step all progress —
those are the two methods which we must choose between.

Faithful to its principles and to the method which is its
own, equally careful not to arouse chimerical hopes, and not

Online LibraryR. C. K. (Robert Charles Kirkwood) EnsorModern socialism, as set forth by socialists in their speeches, writings, and programmes; → online text (page 8 of 35)