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Confusion of Tongues. Mr. Edmund Kelly, in his able article in this issue of the Review, points out the difficulty which people of different nations have of understanding each other. He is quite right,. but the difficulty extends further still. Comrade Kelly is a man with a fine classical education, a lawyer, a diplomat (not long ago the legal advisor of the American legation at Paris). In his past experiences the people with whom he has come into close personal touch have doubtless been of the possessing classes, while the working classes have probably figured in his experience mainly as voters to be reached by political methods. Now he has thought himelf out of the class in which he has lived and joined hands with the working class. But he does not yet speak its language. There are many others like him; perhaps a third of our readers will heartily endorse his view. But the wage-workers will sigh, smile or swear at his artless assumption that the petty capitalists who hope to hinder the growth of the trusts are our "natural allies" in paving the way for a new social order. In saying this we do not wish to disparage the value of the writer's reasoning. Grant his assumptions, and much of it is irresistible. We need such writers and speakers. But we also need the other kind. In the next issue of the Review we hope to have a promised article from Vincent St. John, a comrade on the firing line of the class struggle (indeed he is just recovering from a serious wound inflicted by one of the mine-owners' thugs at Goldfield) who will write on Industrial Unionism.
Public Ownership as an Issue. One passage in Mr. Kelly's article is worth special attention. In his fourth section he says:
"Now no issue will constitute a more direct step toward socialism than public ownership; for public ownership means an eight hour day for the employé, the elimination of trusts for the tradesman, and low rates for the farmer."
Let us pass lightly over the eight hour clause. It is doubtless true that the sight of an increasing number of government employes working eight hours would intensify the discontent of the laborers who still have to work ten. But the government employés would no longer have to fight for their eight hour day, and might neglect to help the outside laborers who could not get it without fighting. And suppose the capitalists should decide to give all laborers an eight hour day, would that show the end of capitalism was near? And if so, why? But the other two clauses of this "direct step", the tradesman clause and the farmer clause. are something more than doubtful. If we could "eliminate the trusts" for the tradesman (which we can't) he would cease to be a virtual wage-worker for the big capitalist with only "profits" enough to live on, and would be on the road to becoming a capitalist himself. destined to become a magnate and to be "eliminated" by the powerful
reformers of the next generation. And if we were to give the farmer. "low rates" on his freight and the things he buys (and of course "high rates" on what he sells), would he not thereupon become a staunch conservative? Where does the proletarian come in, all this while? He has pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for his "natural allies", and he is still hungry. If the big capitalists were really as united and class-conscious and far-seeing as we used to imagine them to be when we were populists, they might reasonably come out for a large measure of "public ownership" themselves. Judicious concessions along this line might conceivably prolong capitalism fifty or a hundred years. But things don't happen in that way. The people who make history are not far-sighted theorists; they simply act as their environment makes them act.
What Shall Our Platform Be? There is one big debatable question. Two courses are open. We can make a vote-catching platform to allure as many as possible of our "natural allies" who want the trusts busted and railroad rates reduced so as to make small individual production or the petty exploitation of a few wage-workers more profitable than now. Perhaps such a platform would increase our vote faster than any other we could adopt. But the new voters who would thereby be attracted would be a source of weakness. If by chance we were to elect the officers of a state with such allies our party would be disrupted at the first practical test. The other way is to adopt a platform which will put on record our interpretation of the way in which the evolution of industry is urging on the development of society. The platform drafted by Comrade Hillquit, while it may require slight amendments, performs this task admirably. Industry is rapidly evolving to the point where the final grapple between laborer and capitalist is near. We can do little to hasten or delay this; what we can do is to think, talk and write clearly, and organize the workers who know what they want into a machine for getting it.
The Constitution of the United States. The recent Supreme Court decision setting aside the railroad rate laws of Minnesota and North Carolina, on the ground that their effect was to confiscate the private property of the railroad stockholders, by reducing rates to a point where dividends could not be paid, will help to clear the air. This decision is perfectly logical, and we socialists have no occasion to question either the integrity or the intelligence of the judges who rendered it. The constitution of the United States was framed for the express purpose of protecting private property. True, in 1788 the most important property interests were those of small producers, while now the trust and railway magnates control nearly all the property worth mentioning,. But the constitution still works as it was meant to work in protecting propertyowners against those without property. One moral is that trust busting on the part of state legislatures has now become merely amusing. Another is that if the socialists capture a city council or a state legislature, their hands will be tied so long as the capitalist parties control the federal courts. But all this is no reason for our sitting down and waiting. On the contrary, this logical action of the Supreme Court is a new stimulus to us, for it helps draw class lines more rigidly than ever before. When the people who work come to realize that they must act unitedly in order to get the wealth they produce, the battle will be all but won, and every act of the federal courts on behalf of the corporations helps the workers to wake up.
Socialists as Jurors. The right of trial by jury is one survival in the American Constitution that works to our advantage, and we have thus far been slow to realize the fact. The jury is a weapon that was
slowly and painfully forged by the English bourgeoisie in its struggle against feudalism, and it is embodied in this same constitution which is otherwise so useful to the capitalist. Moreover, it is one of the Fourth of July traditions that help persuade us that we are a free people, and to abrogate it now would be a dangerous experiment for the powers that be. A juror has full power to judge the law as well as the facts. Here in Chicago an attempt has lately been made to revive an obsolete state law requiring that saloons be closed on Sunday. Thus far every jury before which a case under this law has been brought has either acquitted or disagreed. Here is a precedent that will be to our advantage. As the class struggle grows warmer, arbitrary arrests of workingmen will be more frequent. Every man arrested should demand a jury trial, and every socialist should assert his right to judge whether the enforcement of the law in the case before him is for or against his own class interests, and act accordingly. Nearly every offender brought before a jury is deprived of his liberty because his actions are a menace to the welfare of the capitalists. They may also be a menace to the interests of the laborers, but these are two independent questions, to be settled on their merits.. A clear recognition of this on the part of every socialist may do something toward hastening the break-up of capitalism.
The impotence and bad faith of the Liberal government become more and more manifest. Since last month's report in this department two of its measures have failed of passage: the Scottish small land-holdings bill was defeated in the House of Lords by a majority of 120, and the unemployed workingmen's bill went. down in the House of Commons under a majority of 149. Meantime two other long promised measures have been introduced, the education bill and the licensing bill. Both are having a rough time of it. The first provides that in all "one-school" towns the schools are to be taken over by thecounty governments. In places where there are more than one school denominational institutions are to receive support pro rata for their pupils. Like the education bill now in force this measure satisfies nobody. The licensing bill is more drastic than anticipated. It provides for local option, Sunday closing and the distributio of public houses in proportion to population. The last provision would close some 30,000 places of entertainment. The Laborites have got little comfort out of their antimilitary propaganda. A resolution in favor of reducing the naval appropriations was lost in the House by a vote of 320 to 73. More than $160,000,000 has been voted for the navy and a similar sum for the army -slightly less than the appropriations of last year, but more than was considered necessary at the time of the Boer war. All this must tend to drive intelligent Laborites out of the Liberal camp.
Two things have happened which throw light on the probable realignement of parties. The first of these was the delivery of Lord Roseberry's speech before the Liberal League on March 12th. The time might come, said the former premier, when Liberals would have to chose between Conservatism and protective tariff on the one hand and Socialism on the other. In that case he, for one, would not hesitate: for "Socialism is the end of all, of empire, faith-religious faith-freedom and liberty." The second significant event was the beginning, some weeks ago, of vigorous agitation in favor of the organization of a Center Party. According to its advocates this new party would stand for free trade, union with Ireland, moderate imperialism and-most important of all-war upon Socialism. This Center Party movement marks the definite beginning of the break-down of the present form of Liberalism: Lord Roseberry's speech foreshadows the final alignment of the friends and enemies of Socialism. The first will probably come soon; the second later on.
Australia. Australia has a habit of following England at a distance-sometimes rather a long distance. This fact has been strikingly exemplified by recent developments in the Australian working-class movement. The Labor Party has rapidly increased in power: on the 5th of
February it made great gains in the number of its representatives in the provincial assemblies. But its program leaves much to be desired. Its chief demands are: compulsory arbitration of strikes, state ownership of certain monopolies and the abolition of the upper houses and the office of provincial governor. So far it has steadily refused to take action analogous to that of the Hull conference in England. Just recently, in convention, it voted down a Socialist resolution by 118 to 37. But if precedent counts for anything, it will probably fall in line with its English prototype within a year or two.
France. In France the month has been uneventful. Early in March the Independent Socialists-those who have refused to come into the unified party formed in accordance with the resolution of the international congress-held a convention at Marseille. Only a small number attended and the event aroused little interest. The Chamber of Deputies is voting, item by item, a new fiscal law. This is made necessary by the half-way relief measures it is trying to palm off on the radicals. So far it has provided for an income tax, 4 per cent on the earnings of capital and 3 per cent on the earnings of labor. In Morocco the government is getting in deeper and deeper. It has recently dispatched fresh troops to the scene of action. The people become more and more restive as they see how a war ostensibly for the preservation of peace is becoming a war of aggression.
Germany. The German government is always constructive— actively, paternally constructive. Witness its campaign against the steadily rising forces of the Social Democracy. True to the Teutonic instinct it began by playing the schoolmaster. Its first move was designed to save from pollution the minds of its youth. In order that its efforts might be systematic and at the same time effectively veiled it founded, more than thirty years ago, the "Society for the Propagation of Popular Education." Up to the present time this society has sent into the world about half a million volumes of "safe and sane" literature. Some of these are copies of well known literary and scientific works doctored to suit the governmental taste; others are goody-goody essays and stories especially prepared to keep the children of the Emperor properly respectful of political and ecelesiastical authority. Just now, sad to relate, the Liberals and Centurists wage bitter war as to just what sort of sterilized pabulum is to be doled out of the innocents. Meantime these latter seem to be waxing moderately lusty on food of their own choosing.
Not content with the moderate success of its campaign of education, the imperial government is now aiming to dominate the field of labor organization. This is the purpose of the Law concerning Labor Commissions which has just been submitted to the Bundesrat. This measure provides for the constitution of labor-commissions, one for each branch of industry in each administrative district. Their chief duty is to be the encouragement of peaceful and profitable relations between capital and labor. To this end they are to act as arbitration boards, to exercise a general supervision over workingmen's relief measures and to make suggestions to local governments. What has made workingmen suspicious is the make-up of these commissions. They are to consist half of capitalists and half workingmen. The labor members are to be elected by the vote of all workers over thirty years of age, union and non-union. In case of an even division of a commission the chairman, named by the government, is to cast the deciding vote. If the measure was to deceive the proletariat into thinking the government has an interest in them it has failed miserably. Organized labor is solidly opposed to it.
For more than twenty years the Prussian government has made a