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to which the working class should have an authoritative voice.

The programme contains nothing as to the practical consequences of the
provisions it contains, but Herr Bebel, in his book on "Woman and
Social Democracy," gives some examples. One is that the working time
will be alike for men and women, another that domestic life will be
limited to the cohabitation of man and woman, for children are to be
brought up by society, and a third that cooking and washing will be
the care of central public kitchens and washhouses. Meanwhile, all
these years, it may be noted, Herr Bebel and his millions of followers
have been living exactly like everybody else.

The student of working-class conditions in Germany is unlikely to
think clearly unless he distinguishes between such terms as Social
Democracy, Socialism, Trade Unionism, and Labour party. Social
Democracy is a species of Socialism. All Social Democrats are
Socialists, but not all Socialists Social Democrats. The latter, as an
enrolled political party, paying annual subscriptions and looking
forward to the future state as conceived by Marx, and now by Bebel,
number something under a million; the remaining three millions who
voted for Social Democratic candidates at the last general election
may have included men who believe in Social Democratic ideals, but the
vast majority of them, unless one does grave injustice to their common
sense, voted for such candidates owing to dissatisfaction with the
policy of the Government and present conditions generally - the high
cost of living, the pressure of taxation, the severity of class
distinctions, and like grievances, real or imaginary. These people are
Socialists in the English or international sense of the word, not
Social Democrats strictly speaking; and with these people the Emperor
is most angry because he knows they form the element most capable of
dangerous expansion.

Again, though the vast majority of German Socialists in the broader
sense are Trade Unionists, not all Trade Unionists are Socialists.
Trade Unionism - the organization of labour against capital - is
represented in Germany by two main bodies; the free or Socialist
Unions containing about two million working men, and the "Christian"
or loyal "National" Unions, which are anti-Social Democrat and
anti-Socialist. These have a membership of about 300,000. The
Hirsch-Duncker Unions, with 100,000 members, are Liberal, but also
loyal and anti-Socialist. In labour conflicts, naturally, as
distinguished from politics, all workmen of the particular branch in
conflict work together, whether they are Socialist or not. It need
only be added that there is no so-called "Labour party" in the German
Parliaments. The Social Democratic party in the Reichstag represents
labour interests generally, and promote them much more insistently and
successfully than they do the Utopia of their dreams.

But enough has been said to show the comprehensive and revolutionary
nature of Social Democratic doctrine. The only other feature that
requires mention in connexion with the movement is the desire on the
part of a section of the party for a revision of its programme. The
party of revision is usually identified with the names of Heinrich von
Vollmar, who first suggested it, and Eduard Bernstein, who is in
favour of trying to realize that portion of the programme which deals
with the social needs of the existing generation, the demands of the
present day, and would leave to posterity the attainment of the final
goal. The views of the Revisionists differ also from those of the
Radicals in respect of two other main questions which divide the
party, that of voting budgets and that of going to court. The
Revisionists are willing to do both, and the Radicals to do neither. A
decisive split in the party is annually looked for, but hitherto, when
congress-day came, the Revisionists, for the sake of peace and unity
in the party, have refrained from pushing their views to extremes. One
might suppose that professors of the tenets of Social Democracy would
get into trouble with the police, but they avoid arrest and
imprisonment by taking care to avoid attacking property or the family,
advocating a republic, or introducing religious questions into their

In dealing with the growth of Social Democracy in Germany the
philosophic historian would doubtless refer to the French Revolution,
or go still farther back to the Reformation, as the starting-point of
every great change in the views of civilized mankind during the last
four and a half centuries; but it is with more recent times these
pages are chiefly concerned and consequently with causes now
operative. The main specific cause is the change from agriculture to
industry, and with it the growth of what is generally spoken of as
"industrialism." Industrialism means the assemblage of large masses of
intelligent men forming a community of their own, with its special
conditions and the wants and wishes arising from them. This is the
most fertile field for Socialism, for a new organization of society.
In Germany Socialistic ideas kept growing with the increase of
industrialism, and came to a head with the attempts by H√ґdel and
Nobiling on the life of the Emperor William. The anti-Socialist laws,
passed for a definite period, followed, but they were not renewed; the
Emperor and his Government pressed on instead with a great and
far-reaching social policy, and Socialism, in the form of Social
Democracy, freed from restraint, took a new lease of life.

Another cause of as general, but less ponderable, a nature is the
remnant of the feudal spirit and feudal manners which lingers in the
attitude of the German governing and official classes towards the rest
of the population. The most objectionable features of the feudal
system have passed away, the cruel and exclusive rights and privileges
which only men in ignorant personal servitude to an all-powerful
master could permanently endure; but traces of the system still exist
in the official attitude towards the public and in the tone of the
official communications issued by the administrative services
generally. Attitude and tone may be referred in part to the
traditional character of the Prussian monarchy, which regards the
people as a flock of sheep, or as a "talent," as the Emperor has
called it, entrusted to its care and management by Heaven; but it is
also due in part to the systematization of public life - and largely of
private life - which at times makes the foreigner inclined to think
Germany at once the most Socialistic and at the same time the most
tyrannically ruled country in the world. Everything in Germany must be
done systematically, and the system must be the result of development.
But there is no use in having a system unless it is enforced - otherwise
it remains, like Social Democracy, a theory. Compulsion, therefore,
is necessary, and the Government provides it through its official
machinery and its police. The systematization has enormous public
advantages, but it is difficult for the Anglo-Saxon, jealous of his
individual right to direct his public life through his own
representatives and his private life according to his own judgment,
to accommodate himself to a system which seems to him unduly to
interfere with both right and judgment.

Perhaps it is the manner in which, under the name of authority,
compulsion is exercised by subordinate officialdom and in especial by
the police, as much as the compulsion itself, which irritates in
Germany. Every profession, business, trade, and occupation, down to
that of selling matches and newspapers in the streets, is meticulously
regulated; and while there is nothing to object to in this, what
strikes the Anglo-Saxon as objectionable is that the regulations are
enforced with the manners and in the tone of a drill-sergeant. The
official in Germany, he finds, is not the servant of the public. There
is a story current in England of a Duke of Norfolk, when
Postmaster-General, going into a district post-office and asking for a
penny stamp. The clerk was dilatory, and the Duke remonstrated. "Who
are you, I should like to know?" asked the clerk impertinently, "that
you are laying down the law." "I am the public," replied the Duke
simply, at the same time showing the clerk his card. An English
Foreign Secretary once told a deputation that the Ministry was
"waiting for instructions from their employers - the people." In
Germany it is the opposite; the official is the master and the public
his dutiful servant. In Germany the official expects marked deference
from the public: the post-office clerk is "Mr. Official," the guardian
of the law "Mr. Policeman" (with your hat off). The Anglo-Saxon rather
expects the deference to be on the other side, and has a sordid
subconsciousness that he pays the official for his services. Perhaps
the Social Democrat has something of the same feeling.

One of the chief consequences of industrialism in Germany is that the
people of the country are migrating to the towns. To the country
bumpkin the city is an Eldorado and a lordly pleasure-house. In truth,
he is much better off in it than in the stagnant life of the country.
In the city he sees comfort on every hand, with possibilities of
enjoyment of every kind, and if he does not soon get a share of the
good things going he grows discontented and turns Socialist. In the
city, too, he learns to think and compare, he perceives the
distinction of classes and notices that certain classes have open to
them careers from which he is excluded. Then there is the apparently
inevitable antagonism between labour and capital, between the employer
and employed, which drives the worker to Social Democracy, as offering
the prospect of his becoming his own master and enjoying the whole
fruits of his labour. He may not know Matthew Arnold's "Sick King in
Bokhara," but he would endorse Arnold's lines: -

"And these all, for a lord
Eat not the fruit of their own hands;
Which is the heaviest of all plagues
To that man's mind, who understands."

But whatever its causes, Social Democracy is one of the most curious
and anomalous societies extant. In a country which worships order, it
calls for absolute disorder. A revolutionary movement, it anxiously
avoids revolution. It is a magnificent organization for no apparent
practical, direct, or immediate purpose. Proclaiming the protection of
the law and enjoying the blessing of efficient government, it yet
refuses to vote the budget to pay for them. It supports a large
parliamentary party without any clear or consistent parliamentary
policy in internal or external affairs, unless to be "agin the
Government" is a policy. And lastly, if some of its economic demands
are justifiable, and have in several respects been satisfied by modern
legislation, its fundamental doctrine, the basis of the entire
edifice, is a wild hallucination, sickening to common sense, and
completely out of harmony with the progressive economic development of
all nations, including its own.

In conclusion, it may be added that the social side of the Social
Democracy is perhaps too often unrecognized or ignored by the foreign
observer. Life for the poorer classes in Germany is apt to be more
monotonous and dull than for the poorer classes of any country which
nature has blessed with more fertility, more sunshine, more diversity
of hill and dale, and where people are more mutually sociable and
accommodating. Social Democracy offers something by way of remedy to
this: a field of interest in which the workers can organize and make
processions and public demonstrations and can talk and theorize and
dispute, and in which the woman can share the interest with the man;
or a club, a social club with the largest membership in the world
except freemasonry.

We must return, however, to the Emperor. During this period, in
December, 1890, he, like every one else with his own ideas on
education as well as on art and religion, delivered his views on
popular instruction. At this time - he was then thirty - he called
together forty-five of the ablest educational experts of the country
and addressed them on the subject of high-school education. His
Minister of Education, Dr. von Grossler, had drawn up a programme of
fourteen points for discussion, and the Emperor added to these a few
others he wished to have considered.

German high-school education, be it remarked, is a different thing
from English public-school education, and ought rather to be spoken of
as German information than as German education. We have seen that the
spirit of the German university differs largely from that of the
English university, in that it is not concerned with the formation of
character or the inculcation of manners. The same may be said of the
German gymnasium, or high school, the institution from which the
German youth, as a rule, goes to college. No teaching institution,
English or German, be it further said on our own account, makes any
serious attempt to teach what will prepare youth for intercourse with
the extremely complicated world of to-day, to give him, to take but
one example, the faintest notion of contract, which, if he possessed
it, would save him from many a foolish undertaking and protect him
from many a business betrayal, Far from it. All the disagreeable, and
many of the painful incidents of his subsequent life, all equally
avoidable if knowledge regarding them had been instilled into him in
his early years, he must buy with money and suffering and disgust in

But the Emperor is waiting to be heard. His entire speech need not be
quoted, but only its chief contentions. In introducing his remarks he
claimed to speak with knowledge as having himself sat on a
public-school bench at Cassel.

The Social Democracy being to the Emperor what King Charles's head was
to Mr. Dick, it is not surprising to find almost his first statement
being to the effect that if boys had been properly taught up to then,
there would be no Social Democracy. Up to 1870, he said, the great
subject of instruction for youth was the necessity for German unity.
Unity had been achieved, the Empire was now founded, and there the
matter rested. "Now," said the Emperor, "we must recognize that the
school is for the purpose of teaching how the Empire is to be
maintained. I see nothing of such teaching, and I ought to know, for I
am at the head of the Empire, and all such questions come under my
observation. What," he continues,

"is lacking in the education of our youth? The chief fault
is that since 1870 the philologists have sat in the high
schools as _beati possidentes_ and laid chief stress upon
the knowledge to be acquired and not on the formation of
character and the demands of the present time. Emphasis has
been put on the ability to know, not on the ability to
do - the pupil is expected to know, that is the main thing,
and whether what he knows is suitable for the conduct of
life or not is considered a secondary matter. I am told the
school has only to do with the gymnastics of the mind, and
that a young man, well trained in these gymnastics, is
equipped for the needs of life. This is all wrong and can't
go on."

Then the Empire-builder speaks - what is wanted above all is a national

"We must make German the foundation for the gymnasium: we
must produce patriotic young Germans, not young Greeks and
Romans. We must depart from the centuries-old basis, from
the old monastic education of the Middle Ages, when Latin
was the main thing and a tincture of Greek besides. That is
no longer the standard. German must be the standard. The
German exercise must be the pivot on which all things turn.
When in the exit examination (_Abiturientenexamen_) a
student hands in a German essay, one can judge from it what
are the mental acquirements of the young man and decide
whether he is fit for anything or not. Of course people will
object - the Latin exercise is very important, very good for
instructing students in other languages, and so on. Yes,
gentlemen, I have been through the mill. How do we get this
Latin exercise? I have often seen a young man get, say 4-1/2
marks, for his German exercise - 'satisfactory,' it was
considered - and 2 for his Latin exercise. The youngster
deserved punishment instead of praise, because it is clear
he did not write his Latin exercise in a proper way; and of
all the Latin exercises we wrote there was not one in a
dozen which was done without cribbing. These exercises were
marked 'good,' but when we wrote an essay on 'Minna von
Barnhelm' (one of Lessing's dramas) we got hardly
'satisfactory.' So I say, away with the Latin exercise, it
only harms us, and robs us of time we might give to German."

The Emperor goes on to recommend the study of the nation's history,
geography, and literature ("Der Sage," poetry, he calls it).

"Let us begin at home," he says; "when we have learned
enough at home, we can go to the museums. But above all we
must know our German history. In my time the Grand Elector
was a very foggy personage, the Seven Years' War was quite
outside consideration, and history ended with the close of
the last century, the French Revolution. The War of
Liberation, the most important for the young citizen, was
not taught thoroughly, and I only learned to know it, thank
God, through the very interesting lectures of Dr. Hinzpeter.
This, however, is the _punctum saliens_. Why are our young
men misled? Why do we find so many unclear, confused
world-improvers? Why is our government so cavilled at and
criticized, and so often told to look at foreign nations?
Because the young men do not know how our conditions have
developed, and that the roots of the development lie in the
period of the French Revolution. Consequently, I am
convinced that if they understood the transition period from
the Revolution to the nineteenth century in its fundamental
features, they would have a far better understanding of the
questions of to-day than they now have. At the universities
they can supplement their school knowledge."

The Emperor then turned to other points. It was "absolutely necessary"
to reduce the hours of work. When he was at school, he said, all
German parents were crying out against the evil, and the Government
set on foot an inquiry. He and his brother (Henry) had every morning
to hand a memorandum to the head master showing how many hours it had
taken them to prepare the lessons for the day. In the Emperor's case
it took, "honestly," from 5-1/2 to 7 hours' home study. To this was to
be added 6 hours in school and 2 hours for eating meals - "How much of
the day," the Emperor asks, "was left? If I," he said, "hadn't been
able to ride to and from school I wouldn't have known what the world
even looked like." The result of this, he continued, was an

"over-production of educated people, more than the nation
wanted and more than was tolerable for the sufferers
themselves. Hence the class Bismarck called the
abiturienten-proletariat, all the so-called hunger
candidates, especially the Mr. Journalists, who are often
broken-down scholars and a danger to us. This surplus, far
too large as it is, is like an irrigation field that cannot
soak up any more water, and it must be got rid of."

Another matter touched on by the Emperor was a reduction in the amount
to be learned, so that more time might be had for the formation of
character. This cannot be done now, he remarks, in a class containing
thirty youngsters, who have such a huge amount of subjects to master.
The teacher, too, the Emperor said, must learn that his work is not
over when he has delivered his lecture. "It isn't a matter of
knowledge," he concludes "but a matter of educating the young people
for the practical affairs of life."

The Emperor lastly dealt with the subject of shortsightedness. "I am
looking for soldiers," he said.

"We need a strong and healthy generation, which will also
serve the Fatherland as intellectual leaders and officials.
This mass of shortsightedness is no use, since a man who
can't use his eyes - how can he do anything later?"

and he went on to mention the extraordinary facts that in some of the
primary classes of German schools as many as 74 per cent, were
shortsighted, and that in his class at Cassel, of the twenty-one
pupils, eighteen wore spectacles, while two of them could not see the
desk before them without their glasses.

The Englishman in Germany often attributes German shortsightedness to
the Gothic character of German print. It is more probable that the
long hours of study spent poring over books without fresh-air
exercise, judiciously interposed, is responsible for it.

It has been said that every one, like the Emperor, has his own theory
of education, but there is one passage in the Emperor's speech with
which almost all men will agree - that, namely, in which he urges that
knowledge is not the only - perhaps not the chief - thing, but that
young people must be educated for the practical affairs of life.
Unfortunately, as to how we are successfully to do this, the Emperor
is silent; and it may be that there is no certain or exact way. One
could, of course - but we are concerned with the Emperor.

The difference of opinion between the Emperor and Bismarck regarding
the Emperor's visit to Russia seems to have left no permanent ill-will
in the Emperor's mind, for on returning in October, 1889, from visits
to Athens, where he attended the wedding of his sister Sophie with the
Heir-Apparent of Greece, Prince Constantine (now King Constantine),
and Constantinople, where he was allowed to inspect the Sultan's
seraglio, he sent a letter to the Chancellor praying God to grant that
the latter's "faithful and experienced counsel might for many years
assist him in his difficult and responsible office." In January, 1890,
however, the question of renewing the Socialist Laws, which would
expire shortly, came up for settlement. A council of Ministers, under
the Emperor's presidency, was called to decide it. When the council
met, Bismarck was greatly surprised by a proposal of the Emperor to
issue edicts developing the principles laid down by his grandfather
for working-class reform instead of renewing the Socialist Laws. The
Reichstag took the Emperor's view and voted against the renewal of the
Laws. It only now remained to give effect to the Emperor's edicts.
They were considered at a further council of Ministers, at which the
Emperor exhorted them to "leave the Social Democracy to me, I can
manage them alone." The Ministers agreed, and Bismarck was in a
minority of one. This, however, was only the beginning of the end.
Bismarck decided to continue in office until he had carried through
Parliament a new military Bill, which was to come before it in May or
June. Meanwhile fresh matters of controversy between the Emperor and
the Chancellor arose regarding the grant of imperial audiences to
Ministers other than the Chancellor. Bismarck insisted that the
Chancellor alone had the right to be received by the Emperor for the
discussion of State affairs.

The quarrel was accentuated by a lively scene which occurred between
the Emperor and the Chancellor about this period in connexion with a
visit the leader of the Catholic Centre party had paid the Chancellor,
and on March 17th the Emperor sent his chief Adjutant, General von
Hahnke, to say he awaited the Chancellor's resignation. Bismarck
replied that to resign at this juncture would be an act of desertion;
the Emperor could dismiss him. At the same time the Chancellor
summoned a meeting of Ministers for the afternoon, but while they were
discussing the situation a message was brought from the Emperor
telling them he did not require their advice in such a matter and that
he had made up his mind about the Chancellor. The messenger on the
same occasion expressed to Bismarck the Emperor's surprise at not
having received a formal resignation. Bismarck's reply was that it
would require some days to prepare such a document, as it was the last
official statement of a "Minister who had played a meritorious part in
the history of Prussia and Germany, and history should know why he had
been dismissed." Three days later, on March 20th, an hour or two after

Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 8 of 31)