« ForrigeFortsæt »
tion. And this he does not treat owing to the nature of his treatise, which aims to give an "estimate of the fundamental ideas in the theory of the leading minds of the Social-Democarcy”........ and "a presentation of these ideas which shall be as objective as possible." And as he says, "after two very promising efforts at a settlement of the agricultural question, the party as a whole has laid aside that question for the time being." The reader will do well to remember however, that this work of Kampffmeyer's bears the date of 1904, and that many things may happen within four years.
Perhaps no single work is so calculated to disillusionize the too enthusiastic preacher of an "absolutely scientific socialism" as this of Kampffmeyer-unless it be Bernstein's little brochure entitled "Is Scientific Socialism Possible?" We hasten to add that few will give the reader more confidence in the virility of a movement which can meet the tests of history and out of its very weaknesses fashion the weapons for victory, than does this story of the sturdy growth of the German Social-Democracy.
Every chapter throbs with the current of a live issue in the Socialist movement, not only of Germany, but of the world. The conception of the "state" and of "political action" is one vital to the American movement in these days, when "direct action" is not only written about by enthusiastic Frenchmen, its ambiguous phrases analyzed in the cold blood of retrospect in the Socialistische Monatshefte, but even finds expression in the platform committee of the American Socialist Convention.
"Social-Reform" is famous as a bug-a-boo to frighten socialist children, but like most of the terrible things of childhood, proved to be a helpful friend to the German SocialDemocracy when the latter had grown to years of maturity.
Very interesting and instructive also is the experience of the German movement in connection with the trades union and co-operative movements. Taken with the experiences of the French and Belgian comrades they are calculated to raise important questions in the minds of thoughtful American socialists as to possible resources of future strength for our party.
Those unfamiliar with the phases of thought in the European Socialist movement, as the majority of our American readers have seemed to be, may at first mistake Kampffmeyer's book for a plea in favor of the "reform wing" of the movement. But a more careful reading will make it plain that he is only stating carefully and impartially the various positions, giving equal space and emphasis to representatives of the var ious groups. (Bernstein is mentioned only twice, I think.)
Kampffmeyer states truly the basis of the principal variations of opinion, in a paragraph found in his chapter on "Trades Unions and Social Democracy", which reads as follows: "Points of view. . . depend upon the opinion which the various social-democratic wings have formed: first, with reference to the rapid or slow development of capitalism into socialism; second, concerning the possibility of the working class wresting labor legislation from the bourgeoisie within capitalistic society; third, concerning the role which labor legislation can undertake alongside the other means of transforming capitalism."
Most valuable of all, perhaps, is the portrayal of the changes of opinion on the part of men like Bebel, Liebknecht, etc., on matters connected fundamentally with theory and tactics. The following quotation from Liebknecht is characteristic of the whole story as told by Kampffmeyer: "In the early days of our party, when we had only few followers, we went to the Reichstag exclusively, or almost exclusively, for the propagation of our ideas. But very soon we were placed upon the ground of practical matters. We have seen that the injustice in the present social order is something more serious than simply an opportunity for the making of pretty speeches, and that it will not be done away with by the prettiest or strongest of speeches. We have discovered that the most important thing is, to do something in the field of practical affairs..."
The Socialist Party in America has suffered from the conception held of it by friends as well as by enemies, that it is fully formed and possesses a completed set of ideas. But a study of the movement in any country where it has had time to develop a history shows, that if socialist thought and theory is to be conceived as a crystal, it is as a crystal which has not yet fully formed all its facets and angles, nor drawn to itself all of the material of its own quality which is now in solution in the world of economics and politics. And the socialist movement is an organism, subject to all the laws of growth and adaptation; not final in its present form and force, but growing, changing, developing, taking on new and greater meaning day by day.
Some day there will be writen the story of "The Changes in the Theory and Tactics of the American Socialist Movement." I trust that it may show a record of as much sanity and insight as this work of Kampffmeyer's reveals in the German movement, with such added strength as ought to come to those who are in a position to profit by the experience of others. WINFIELD R. GAYLORD.
The National Socialist Platform. Four years ago a Socialist Party platform was adopted without discussion and with hardly a dissenting vote on the floor of the convention, but it met with a storm of protest from party members who were not delegates, and who felt that their views had not been properly represented. This year all shades of opinion were fully represented, and every disputed point was thoroughly discussed. Nearly every test vote resulted in an overwhelming majority for one of the two opposing views, and when the platform as a whole came to a vote, it was passed without a word of protest. Some of us would have preferred to have included in it an explicit declaration for industrial unionism, but the majority of the delegates were not well enough informed on the subject to take a decided stand, and party platforms and resolutions must always state the things on which the members of a party are in substantial agreement rather than the things on which they differ. Some again would have preferred to replace the list of immediate demands by a general statement that we favor whatever is for the interest of the working class, but it was urged with a good deal of force that it is more democratic for the party through its delegates to consider the question of what measures are for and what against the interest of the working class than to leave the matter entirely to such comrades as might hereafter be elected to office. A motion was passed to include "all the land" with railways and other means of transportation, among those things of which immediate collective ownership was demanded. Moreover an attempt to make a definite declaration for maintaining the private ownership of small farms was voted down. These two votes doubtless represent the opinion generally prevailing among socialists, but the fact of the matter is that the question of individual or collective farming will in the long run be determined by the development of industrial processes, without the least reference political platforms. Or rather, the platforms of the future will be made to fit the industrial development of the future. It was an encouraging sign that a farmer was the one who drafted the
minority report on the farming questison which the convention accepted. The platform as adopted was alike revolutionary and constructive. It will enlist the support of all members of the working class who are beginning to understand socialism, and we can wait a little longer for the others.
The Party Constitution. The Socialist Party, unlike the old parties, is controlled by its members. The old parties have no members, only bosses and voters. A member of the Socialist Party is one who has signed a pledge severing his connection with any other party and who pays monthly dues, also wherever practicable attending the meetings of his local. The State and National Committees are elected by direct vote of the membership. The membership may at any time by a referendum vote reverse any acts of committees or officers, or remove them from office. The National Committee consists of one member from each state with an additional member for every thousand active members of the party. This committee is too large to hold frequent meetings, and minor details of party management are left to an executive committee of seven, all acts of which are subject to review by the National Committee. This executive committee was formerly elected by the National Committee, but during the last two years the experiment has been tried of electing it by a general referendum vote of the party membership. The experiment has led to some inefficiency and confusion and the recent convention voted, wisely, we believe, to return to the former method of electing an executive committee. It is not the province of the executive committee to originate new policies, but to carry out those of the National Committee, and its members should be selected for their experience and known efficiency rather than for their public prominence. Another feature added to the constitution is a provision for a socialist Congress to be held in the even years when no presidential election occurs. All amendments voted by the convention must be confirmed by a referendum vote of the membership before going into effect. Every Socialist should not merely vote the ticket but join the party. If you do not know how to get in touch with the nearest local, or with the secretary of your state, write to J. Mahlon Barnes, National Secretary, 180 Washington St., Chicago.
Women at the Convention. Never have women been so conspicuous a factor in the American Socialist movement as to-day. This was indicated in part by the intense interest with which the relations of women to the Socialist Party were discussed. The real question at issue was practically the same as the question of a special program to attract farmers. Some of the women in the convention, like some of the farmers, thought that the general Socialist propaganda would be better than any special appeal. A large majority of the women present, however, favored special action, and the convention complied with their wishes, although one woman offered strong reasons for holding that more could be accomplished by mak
ing the same appeal to women that we make to men. Unrestricted suffrage for adult women was rightly made a prominent part of our immediate demands. The Socialist Party of all countries stands not only for the collective ownership but also for the democratic control of the means of production by which wage-labor is exploited, and no control can be democratic when half the workers are denied a vote. The Socialist Party is the only party that has consistently advocated suffrage for woman through the whole course of its existence, and any lack of emphasis on this topic has been due to a lack of interest in the subject on the part of women. The most hopeful thing for the woman suffrage movement about our recent convention is the fact that women have fearlessly and efficiently taken hold of the general work of the movement. The women delegates commanded a hearing not because they were women but because they had something to say and knew how to say it.
Debs and Hanford. The veteran Socialist, who realizes how little votes count for without active brains behind them, is not easily carried away with enthusiasm over the question of candidates. But veterans and recruits alike had their pulses quickened when the Convention named Debs and Hanford as their standard bearers. The result was far from assured before the delegates met. Both of these comrades were said to be shattered in health, and it was feared that their places would have to be taken by untried men. But Hanford was at the Convention and the way he fought for his ideas dispelled all fears as to his fitness for a longer fight, while there were plenty of comrades who testified that Debs was himself again. So it was Debs and Hanford. Eugene V. Debs suddenly became a worldfigure in 1894 when as the head of the American Railway Union he went to Woodstock jail rather than surrender in the fight the railway men were waging on behalf of the overworked and underpaid operatives at the Pullman car works. 'Gene went into that jail a "pure and simple" trade union man; he came out a class-conscious Socialist, with a grasp on Socialist principles that many an earnest student might well envy. He worked for years to build up the Social-Democratic Party, and when in 1900 it united with the saner two-thirds of the Socialist Labor Party to make up the Socialist Party, he was made the presidential candidate of the united organization. In 1904, he was drafted into service again, and this time his running mate was Ben Hanford of New York, one of the fighters of "Big Six," the typographical union that forces recognition from the great capitalist newspapers of New York City, and an old-time member of the Socialist Labor Party. Debs and Hanford are living incarnations of the class struggle. A vote for them is a vote for the peace than can only come when the predatory class is overthrown.