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England. Though little has happened during the past month there has been a good deal of significant discussion. There is no country in the world where at the present moment the fundamental principles of government are so much in question. Every joint in the social fabric is being put to the test. It must be admitted, however, that the legislative result is pitiful enough. For example, the long promised Old-Age Pension Bill is valuable only because it recognizes the principle of social responsibility and so opens up the whole problem of the relation of the individual to the state. This measure, which was introduced into the House of Commons on May 7th, provides for a pension of $1.25 a week to all the worthy poor above seventy years of age whose weekly incomes are under $2.50. Mr. Asquith estimates that the number of such will not exceed 500,000, and so the provisions of the bill can be carried out at an annual expense of about £30,000,000. Of course few of the poor, worthy or unworthy, ever live to the age of seventy, and it is very clever of the Premier to use this fact in support of his bill. Some of the arguments against the measure are extremely amusing. The London Spectator proclaims, for example, that the maintenance of indigent employes should devolve upon the capitalists who have profited by their toil, not upon the state. Which looks rather queer on the pages of a sheet that wages systematic war upon Socialism. The Education Bill outlined in the April number of the Review has practically been defeated in the House of Lords, and a new one is now up for discussion. This was submitted by the Bishop of St. Asaph on March 30th. Strange as it may appear this measure, though unofficially supported by the Angelican church, seems to an outsider more sensible, and even more liberal, than the one introduced by the government. It provides that no elementary schools shall be maintained out of public funds unless controlled by the local education authority; that there shall be no religious test for teachers; that no teacher shall be required to give religious instruction; that any teacher may on certain days give such religious instruction as may be desired by parents, but shall not be paid therefor out of the public funds. This bill has strong support, and, with some amendments, stands a' chance of favorable action. But whether it goes through or not the government can get small comfort out of the situation.
As was expected Winston Churchill was defeated in the Manchester bye-election. The chief interest attaching to the incident lies in the fact that in their eagerness for the Irish vote the govern
ment pledged themselves to make home-rule the issue in the next general election. Mr. Churchill was finally saved to the cabinet by being returned from the safe constituency of Dundee.
The relation between the Social Democrats and what has come to be called the "Socialist-Labor" party is now a matter of vital importance to our English comrades. The Social Democratic Federation maintains toward the English labor movement an attitude somewhat analogous to that of the Socialist Labor Party in the United States. Since the adoption of Socialism as the objective of the Laborites there has arisen a strong element in the S. D. F. demanding a change of policy. This element is represented by numerous letters in recent numbers of Justice, the official organ of the party The chief arguments presented sound strangely familiar to American ears. It is contended, e. g., that keeping aloof from the trades-union movement argues lack of faith in the principle of the class-struggle. The Socialist element in the Labor-Party, it is claimed, is already strong. Increased by the adhesion of the S. D. F., it would soon leaven the whole lump of the labor movement. Then, we are told, the proletarian class would have a real political expression. Comrade H. Quelch replies to all this that the Labor Party is not yet sufficiently class conscious to be trusted, and if the Social Democrats go over to it they will be bound by the will of a compromising majority; consequently there will be no organization to represent before the English proletariat the genuine principles of Socialism. Whatever is the immediate outcome of this discussion there can be no doubt that the S. D. F. will ultimately join with the larger current of the labor movement. In the meantime it is worth remembering that it is the Labor Party which has made Socialism a national issue in England.
Germany. In an article which has been widely discussed and quoted a writer in the London Spectator comments on what he calls German Disillusionment. For years the Germans have been hypnotized by the spirit of imperialism. From their colonial aggressions, their imposing army, their industrial conquests, they expected some great national good-just what, has remained rather vague. Now they have achieved a sort of national greatness, and a majority of them are waking up to the fact that they get little out of it except the privilege of paying taxes. In this connection Vorwaerts publishes a number of illuminating articles. During the past ten years, it appears from figures given in these articles, the cost of the necessities of life has been steadily rising. Since 1900 the price of wheat and potatoes has increased more than 25 per cent. This increase, more alarming than a similar phenomenon in America, seems to be due to new tariff rates and the monopolizing of industry. That there has been no corresponding increase in wages goes without saying. The Prussian government has just refused to raise the slender salaries of its employes. The most disheartening feature of the situation, from the standpoint of the bourgeois statesmen and economists, is that Germany faces an industrial crisis similar to our own. Already production is being limited, and captains of industry are instituting such "economies" as reduction of wages and the discharge of workingmen.
The last echoes of the electoral reform demonstrations are dying away. On April 16th the captured demonstrants were sentenced to various fines and terms of imprisonment. Socialists are making an interesting comparison between this incident and a similar one which occurred in 1894. In both cases it turned out that police spies did
their utmost to induce the crowds to riot. In 1894 these spies were obliged to make a clean breast of the affair and the prisoners got off with a light sentence; in 1908 the police commissioner forbade his men to testify against the department and the prisoners were given the limit. Still more significant is the fact that in 1894 numerous bourgeois papers gave unprejudiced accounts of the "riot," while in 1908 all of them represented the demonstrants as malicious law-breakers. Within fourteen years the lines of the class-struggle have_grown infinitely sharper.
There are other signs to prove that the conflict between bourgeois and proletarian, between progress and reaction, is growing more and more definite and bitter. Old-fashioned liberalism, the sort that asserted itself in the Revolution of 1848, has had its deathwarrant signed. This political faith has been represented by the faction known as the Free-Thinkers. These Free-Thinkers, appealing to the old revolutionary principle of individual liberty, have in times past fought many a battle against reaction. Even within the last few months a few of them have had hope of lining up their party with the Social Democracy in favor of electoral reform. But in a congress held recently in Frankfort these representatives of the old liberalism were practically thrown out of the party. The lineal descendants of the revolutionists of 1848 are now permanently grouped with the bloc in support of the government.
So far as the Social Democrats are concerned this development is not without its advantages. At the last election to the Landtag they gave their support to three Free-Thinkers who pledged themselves to vote for electoral reform; when it came to the test all three proved false. This has done much to clear the ground for the campaign which is now on. On June 3rd are to be chosen the electors who will select the members of the new Landtag. As was explained in this department last month, the Socialists can secure little representation, no matter how large their vote. All they hope to do is to make an impression upon the public consciousness. But their campaign activities are heroic. Everywhere and in every manner conceivable the injustice of the three-class electoral system is being exposed. Socialists the world over will await eagerly reports of the outcome of the conflict.
The Association law outlined in the April number of the Review has been passed by the Reichstag. In a few respects the government was forced to amend it. In its final form, for example, it permits the use of foreign languages in international congresses, in political meetiugs and generally in parts of the country where 60 per cent of the_inhabitants speak some language other than German.
Holland. During the Easter holidays four Socialist conventions were held, at all of which vital questions of policy came up for discussion. At the fourteenth convention of the Social Democratic Party of Holland, held at Arnheim, it was the place of parliamentarism in the party program and, more particularly, the management of the party press and the actions of the Socialist group in Parliament, which were under examination. The leaders were charged with laying too much stress on politics and too little on industrialism, with exchanging favors with bourgeois statesmen and failing to support the Socialist cause in other countries. The men attacked, especially Comrade W. H. Vliegen, editor of Het Volk, defended themselves triumphantly and were acquitted by a vote of 204 to 86. The task for which the party is now gathering its forces is a campaign in favor of universal suffrage. Reports submitted indicated a very satisfactory increase in numbers and activities.
Belgium. In Belgium the great problem of the hour is the proposed annexation of the Congo Free State. And the attitude of the Socialist group of deputies to this problem was the chief matter for debate in the convention of the party which was held in Brussels. The deputies themselves, including Comrade Vandervelde, are in favor of annexation but opposed to the specific measure presented by the government. The convention decided after a long discussion that any colonial policy is unsocialistic and that therefore it would organize a propaganda against annexation. The deputies expressed their willingness to submit to the dictates of the party.
Austria. The fifteenth convention of the Social Democratic Party of Hungary met at Budapest. Reports of the proceedings go to show that Hungarian Socialism has reached a crucial stage in its development. The government of the province is in the hands of feudalistic agrarians. They leave no stone unturned in their effort to hinder not only the spread of Socialism but even the growth of modern industrial life. As in Holland and Denmark and Prussia, the problem of the hour is electoral reform. It has lately been discovered that the imperial government plans to fob_off on the people a pseudo-reform measure. And now the Social Democratic Party, as the only representative of popular interests, is preparing for the greatest struggle of its existence. It made a good beginning last October when on the same day it made demonstrations in 191 cities and towns. New provincial organizations are being formed and literature is being distributed as never before. There is a good deal of talk of the general strike as the ultimate weapon.
German Poland. The eleventh convention of the Polish citizens of Germany met at Kattowitz. The chief subject discussed was the method of co-operating with the German comrades against the tyrannous measures of the German government.
Australia. These are lively times in Australia. The Socialists and the Laborites wage vigorous war for the support of the proletariat. The Laborites already exercise a strong political influence. In certain provinces they are actually in the majority, they control numerous municipalities, and everywhere they have made the problem of labor and capital the chief political issue. They have not yet formally recognized Socialism as their objective, but their leaders, and especially their journalists, are constantly preaching Socialism, and Socialism, too, of the genuine sort. But constituting an actual political force, the Laborites insist upon certain "immediate" reforms, the introduction of the eight-hour day, for example, and the erection of municipal slaughter-houses. And it is on this point, the demand for "palliatives," that the Socialists raise their issue. Our comrades in Australia differ from us in that they absolutely refuse to incorporate into their platform a program of reforms. This policy is vigorously defended by The Socialist of Melbourne, The International Socialist Review of Sydney, and The Flame of Broken Hill. The other side is represented by Barrier Truth, also published at Broken Hill, one of the mining centers. It argues that the Laborites with their insistence on "palliatives" are working along the line of evolution. Far from opposing Socialism, this paper insists that its own doctrines are the only ones to which Socialists can look for substantial advances. This position it supports with quotations from Marx and Engels. The situation is complicated just at present by the introduction of the I. W. W. In a land where labor unions have long been class conscious and actively political a form of organization which demands no political expression is naturally received with a good deal of suspicion.
BY MAX S. HAYES
The renomination of Debs and Hanford by the National Convention of the Socialist Party last month is meeting with universal satisfaction among the progressive and thinking element in organized labor and favorable comments are appearing in increasing number in the labor press. The opinion is expressed on all sides that Debs is pretty nearly the embodiment of this year's issues, as labor questions are bound to be injected in the campaign, much as the Democratic bunco-steerers would delight to sidetrack all economic discussion and revive the old tariff humbug. Bryan has never had much of a fling on the tariff trapeze, the greatest straddling scheme ever invented, but judging from his past performances he is about due to give us an exhibition of his versatility in this line. The peerless one has juggled the silver and injunction issues, imperialism, government railways and initiative and referendum, trusts, etc., and then carefully packed those toys away and is now backing up to the Grover Cleveland brand of safe and sane statesmanship. The poor man wants to be President at any cost, and if tariff agitation is too strong to suit "the interests" he may yet spring the momentous issue as to whether or not there are warts on the back of the neck of the man in the moon.
On the other hand, if Taft is the nominee on the Republican ticket or the convention is stampeded to Roosevelt, as many have been predicting, is immaterial, for Debs will confront either and force them on the defensive. Taft's literary henchmen point with pride to the fact that the fat man's decision in the Phelan case, while he was on the Federal bench, served as the basis for the opinion handed down by the United States Supreme Court in the Debs case, which sent the American Railway Union officials to the Woodstock jail, and subverted the right of free speech to government by injunction, the tyrannical weapon with which capitalism has mercilessly pursued the organized workers of this country for more than a dozen years. Should Roosevelt be nominated for a third term there will be a good many "undesirable citizens" who will want some further explanations on many of his public and private acts relating to labor questions from the gentleman who is credited by the Parryites with being "the father of the open shop."
Ben Hanford, Debs' running mate, is also an able orator, clear thinker and exceedingly popular with organized workingmen, especially in the eastern section of the country. That he will outclass his opponents on the old party tickets in every particular except boodle-getting will be quickly discovered by any person who cares to make comparisons.