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out knowing what it is. We who have jobs have not yet realized that our interests are bound up with those of the poor devil who goes to the house of correction. So we sit still and let the brutal policeman and the servile judge do as they like with him. What we might do is to let him know he has a right to a jury trial, and then if we are drawn on his jury, vote to acquit if we believe he acted as he was forced to act. If even one thousand of those arrested in Chicago on petty charges were to demand jury trials, and if half the juries acquitted the prisoners or failed to agree, the capitalist government would be panic-stricken, for the courts would be clogged so that the usual business could not be done, and unless the mayor is less efficient than we take him for, he would devise some measure for the temporary relief of the unemployed. In any event, we have "nothing to lose but our chains," and the jury is a weapon as yet untried that may serve the working class well in the stormy years that are just ahead.
A Working Class Party. The constitution adopted at the national convention of the Socialist Party last May has been almost unanimously ratified by a referendum of the membership, and goes into effect at the beginning of 1909. The most important change is that the executive committee of seven, now elected by a plurality vote of the membership, will hereafter be chosen by the National Committee, consisting of one or more members from each state. At first sight this may seem like a step away from democracy. But the practical effect of the old plan was that most of the members scattered their votes among a multitude of candidates who had no chance of election, while a small but well-organized minority succeeded in electing several members who are far from representing the temper of the party as a whole. The next four years will almost certainly be a period of rapid growth for the organization, and the acts of the new executive committee will shape to some extent the lines on which it will grow. Through all the little questions that the committee must solve from day to day, one larger question will inhere, namely, whether the Socialist Party is to put its main energy into getting votes and offices by whatever propaganda will get them most effectively, or whether it is to put its work into the development of clear-headed revolutionists who will not allow themselves to be diverted from one single aim, the destruction of capitalism. Is the Socialist party to work for reforms or for revolution? We believe three fourths of the members are for revolution. We believe most of the members of the National Committee are sincerely desirous of representing those who elect them. The next few weeks will be the time for those who want a revolutionary executive committee to make their wishes known.
The past two months have been a critical period for German Social Democracy — more critical, in fact, than any the party has known for half a decade. Last month I gave a brief account of the controversy that has been raging about the question of Socialist parliamentary tactics. This is not a new controversy: the problem with which it concerns itself has frequently. demanded solution in times past and will doubtless reappear in the future. So deep is its theoretical significance, so wide was the meaning given it in the discussions of our German comrades, that the solution reached must be taken into account by Socialists the world over.
Six years ago the German party congress — in session at Lübeck - decided that Socialist parliamentary factions throughout the einpire should consistently vote against the granting of budgets – except under very special circumstances. A vote for a budget, it was held, is a vote in support of a capitalist government; hence, inconsistent with the Socialist policy of criticism and opposition. This policy is the only one in harmony with the Marxian doctrine. According to Marx the position of the worker under capitalism grows steadily worse. Hence, no permanent good can be achieved by anything short of the abolition of the entire system. What are called tactical advantages are of no
The Revisionists, on the other hand, maintain that even under the capitalist system the condition of the proletariat is gradually improving. It seems to them that this improvement can be facilitated by judicious parliamentary alliances; that by throwing their vores here or there the Socialists may now and then gain favorable legislation which would otherwise be unobtainable. And every bit of favorable legislation is a new weapon in the hands of the workers. The better they are situated economically and politically the more effectively they can fight for their cause. Therefore, say the Revisionists, this problem of tactics is of vital importance; upon its solution depends the rapidity of our advance. So the principle at stake is the Marxian theory as to the position of the working class under capitalism.
The conflict of opinion was brought to a head_by the recent actions of Socialist factions in the assemblies of Bavaria, Baden and Würtemberg — all south German states. Socialist representatives in all these assemblies supported their respective budgets. In one case the excuse given was that by so doing they were saving the government from the clericals; in another that the budget voted for contains provisions favorable to the working class. The actions and explanations of the south Germans roused a storm of criticism - especially in the north. This was answered by the contention that conditions in north and south are very different. In the south constitutions are comparatively liberal, and so there the proletariat has a chance to gain advantages. Under the medieval laws of Prussia this may be impossible — but Prussia ought not to be allowed to dictate. In Socialistische Monatshefte this position has been vigorously defended by Comrades Bernstein, Heine and others.
The German Parteitag, or congress, met at Nüremberg, September 15-19. There were 362 delegates present - which makes this the most representative assembly the party has ever held. The whole matter of Revisionism as represented in the budget cases was thoroughly thrashed out. The debate lasted for two and a half days; so the decision arrived at must be taken as conclusive for the present.
The principal resolution under discussion was presented by the executive committee of the party. It is of so great importance that I translate it in full:
“The party convention indorses anew the resolutions of Lübeck and Dresden, which read: “As long as the state remains in the hands of the ruling class it is an organ of class rule and constitutes a means of keeping down the propertyless masses. The political purpose of the proletarian class-struggle is to get possession of the powers of state by conquering the enemy. Any policy of compromise with the existing social and political order is not to be considered.'
“As a necessary consequence of this fundamental conception and in view of the fact that a vote in favor of a budget must be regarded as a vote of confidence in the government. Socialist representatives are always to refuse to vote in favor of a budget presented by an opposing government - except in case the defeat of such a budget through the action of our comrades means the acceptance of one less favorable to the working class.
"The granting of the budgets in the assemblies of Würtemburg, Baden and Bavaria is, therefore, out of harmony with the resolutions of Lübeck and Dresden.
"The refusal to vote for the budget, as a matter of principle, is a policy fully in accord with the present position of the propertyless masses, a position which makes necessary an uncompromising opposition to the existing, capital-serving political power.
"It is the never ending task of our agitation to enlighten the working classes continually in regard to this matter."
On the second day of the congress Comrade Bebel, though much broken in health, rose to open the discussion. The Lübeck resolution provided that only in very exceptional cases should Socialists agree to the granting of a budget. Bebel explained that in the congress of Lübeck only two possible cases were considered. If the withholding of Socialist votes from a budget should bring about the acceptance of one less favorable to the working class, or if the Socialists were in the majority and so could present a budget of their own, they would be justified in casting affirmative ballots. According to Bebel these were the only cases to be regarded as “exceptional” under the Lübeck resolution.
And the actions of the representatives in Bavaria, Baden and Würtemburg, he maintained, could be brought under neither of these cases. Since our whole activity is to give the proletariat such
an insight into present political and social order that a change will become inevitable, any coalition with this order is absolutely out of the question The action of the south German comrades has been defended on the ground that the budgets supported granted increased wages to state employes. These increased wages were granted for two reasons: (1) because under capitalist control tariff and other similar measures have increased the cost of living; (2) because by preventing the utmost discontent the government wishes to keep its employes from the Socialist ranks. Further than this, whenever it raises wages it adds to the burden of taxation, which falls principally upon the backs of the workers. So when the matter is looked at in the large any capitalist budget gives more to the workers than must be given: there is absolutely no reason why a Socialist should vote for it. So far as tactical advantages are concerned, the speaker showed that in cases in which alliances have been made the burgeois parties have held to the Socialists only so long as they could make use of them. Quotations from bourgeois statesmen were read to prove that they recognize the class-struggle and realize that there can be no permanent compromise. When we consent to coalitions we are naively delivering ourselves into their hands. By so doing, we necessarily alienate the workers, and so lose the only power which can support us in the conflict.
This address by Comrade Bebel was answered at great length by three south Germans representing the parliamentary factions whose actions were under discussion. They attempted to show that the Lübeck resolution left it to the separate parliamentary groups to decide just what are the exceptional circumstances which justify a departure from the general rule of conduct in regard to the budget. Then they went on to prove that they had assisted in working out the details of the budgets in question, that they had secured concessions for the good of the working class — hence they felt compelled to vote in the affirmative. But all this was invalidated by the admission that Bebel was right when he said that the governments had given no more than was forced from them by economic conditions.
Comrade Ebert closed the debate with an appeal for party unity. The resolution of the Executive Committee was accepted by a majority of 258 to 119. It will be noticed that this resolution is more definite than that accepted at Lübeck. Only one ceptional case is recognized - and that is so defined that hereafter parliamentary groups will have their path clearly marked out.
After the result of the ballot had been announced Comrade Segitz, in the name of 66 delegates from Bavaria, Baden, Würtemburg and Hessen, presented the following protest: “The undersigned party members declare: The German party congress being the legitimate representative of the whole organization, we knowledge it as the final authority in all matters of principle and in such matters of tactics as concern the entire empire. But we are also of the opinion that in all particular affairs of the politics of the individual states the state organization is the proper and competent power. On the basis of our common program it should determine the course of our politics in accordance with the particular circumstances in the various states. Therefore, the decision as to the vote on the budget should be left to the conscientious
judgment of parliamentary fractions responsible only to their state organizations."
The action of the congress together with the above protest has been widely discussed in journals and at public meetings. In general the north Germans support the action of the convention and the south Germans the protest. Just what will come of it all is hard to tell at the present moment. The question is, Just how far will the south Germans dare to go in their rebellion?
The Socialists of Italy have also been having a national congress. It met only a few days later than that of the Germans and, significantly enough, dealt with the same general problem. To be sure the situation in Italy is so special and so complex that the conclusions reached have not the importance for the outside world which must be attributed to those arrived at by our German comrades. In fact, the lining up the various wings of the Italian movement is so different from anything we know in this country that it is difficult to give an intelligible account of them in a short summary of the convention proceedings.
In the first place it must be said that the changes of policy decided on at Florence, where the congress met, were not so momentous as had been represented. In the words of Comrade Lazzari, "We have changed directors, but the music remains the same." That is to say, the straight revolutionary wing of the party was placed at the head of affairs by the Reformists, a faction hitherto corresponding to the German revisionists; but these Reformists themselves have changed with time so that now their name has become a libel.. In some provinces they are the most radical of revolutionists.
There are in Italy four different tendencies in the labor movement, represented by factions or separate organizations. These are: (1) the syndicalists, the membership of which relies entirely on physical force, especially on the general strike; (2) the Integralist wing of the Socialist party, representing a sort of labor party movement; (3) the Revolutionary Socialist wing, standing for straight Socialism in connection with labor unionism; (4) the Reformist wing of the Socialist party. When they were originally formed these various groups might have been arranged according to a scale in the order in which I have named them: then we should have had at one end political forcists, at the other pure and simple politicians.
Now if the Reformist wing, with its original spirit and purpose, had come to dominate the movement, it would have been an irreparable calamity. But that is not what has occurred. So many concessions did the Reformnists make that Comrade Morgari. the leader of the Integralists, finally voted with them. They agreed, first of all, not to go so far in their effort to take part in the practical affairs of government as to accept cabinet positions. They agreed, further, to form coalitions with other parties at the ballot box only under very exceptional circumstances. After declaring in a resolution that it held it advisable to institute constructive legislation in the interest of the working-cass movement, the congress accepted the following as a declaration of the limitations which the party must subject itself to in the working out of its political program: "The congress is of the opinion, however, that political