Class War and Violence
I. War of the poorer groups against the rich groups—Opposition of democracy to the division into classes—Methods of buying social peace—The corporative mind.
II. Illusions relating to the disappearance of violence—The mechanism of conciliation and the encouragement which it gives to strikers—Influence of fear on social legislation and its consequences.
Everybody complains that discussions about Socialism are generally exceedingly obscure. This obscurity is due, for the most part, to the fact that contemporary Socialists use a terminology which no longer corresponds to their ideas. The best known among the people who call themselves revisionists do not wish to appear to be abandoning certain phrases, which have served for a very long time as a label to characterise Socialist literature. When Bernstein, perceiving the enormous contradiction between the language of social democracy and the true nature of its activity, urged his German comrades to have the courage to appear what they were in reality,1 and to revise a doctrine that had become mendacious, there was a universal outburst of indignation at his audacity; and the reformists themselves were not the least eager of the defenders of the ancient formula. I remember hearing well-known French Socialists say that they found it easier to accept the tactics of Millerand than the arguments of Bernstein.
This idolatry of words plays a large part in the history of all ideologies; the preservation of a Marxist vocabulary by people who have become completely estranged from the thought of Marx constitutes a great misfortune for Socialism. The expression “class war,” for example, is employed in the most improper manner; and until a precise meaning can be given to this term, we must give up all hope of a reasonable exposition of Socialism.
A. To most people the class war is the principle of Socialist tactics. That means that the Socialist party founds its electoral successes on the clashing of interests which exist in an acute state between certain groups, and that, if need be, it would undertake to make this hostility still more acute; their candidates ask the poorest and most numerous class to look upon themselves as forming a corporation, and they offer to become the advocates of this corporation; they promise to use their influence as representatives to improve the lot of the disinherited. Thus we are not very far from what happened in the Greek states; Parliamentary Socialists are very much akin to the demagogues who clamoured constantly for the abolition of debts, and the division of landed property, who put all public charges upon the rich, and invented plots in order to get large fortunes confiscated. “In the democracies in which the crowd is above the law,” says Aristotle, “the demagogues, by their continual attacks upon the rich, always divide the city into two camps . . . the oligarchs should abandon all swearing of oaths like those they swear to-day; for there are cities in which they have taken this oath—I will be the constant enemy of the people, and I will do them all the evil that lies in my power.”2 Here, certainly, is a war between two classes as clearly defined as it can be; but it seems to me absurd to assert that it was in this way that Marx understood the class war, which, according to him, was the essence of Socialism.
I believe that the authors of the French law of August 11, 1848, had their heads full of these classical reminiscences when they decreed punishment against all those who, by speeches and newspaper articles, sought “to trouble the public peace by stirring up hatred and contempt amongst the citizens.” The terrible insurrection of the month of June was just over, and it was firmly believed that the victory of the Parisian workmen would have brought on, if not an attempt to put communism into practice, at least a series of formidable requisitions on the rich in favour of the poor; it was hoped that an end would be put to civil wars by increasing the difficulty of propagating doctrines of hatred, which might raise the proletariat against the middle class.
Nowadays Parliamentary Socialists no longer entertain the idea of insurrection; if they still occasionally speak of it, it is merely to give themselves airs of importance; they teach that the ballot-box has replaced the gun; but the means of acquiring power may have changed without there being any change of mental attitude. Electoral literature seems inspired by the purest demagogic doctrines; Socialism makes its appeal to the discontented without troubling about the place they occupy in the world of production; in a society as complex as ours, and as subject to economic upheavals, there is an enormous number of discontented people in all classes—that is why Socialists are often found in places where one would least expect to meet them. Parliamentary Socialism speaks as many languages as it has types of clients. It makes its appeal to workmen, to small employers of labour, to peasants; and in spite of Engels, it aims at reaching the farmers;3 it is at times patriotic; at other times it declares against the Army. It is stopped by no contradiction, experience having shown that it is possible, in the course of an electoral campaign, to group together forces which, according to Marxian conceptions, should normally be antagonistic. Besides, cannot a Member of Parliament be of service to electors of every economic situation?
In the end the term “proletariat” became synonymous with oppressed; and there are oppressed in all classes:4 German Socialists have taken a great interest in the adventures of the Princess of Coburg.5 One of our most distinguished reformers, Henri Turot, for a long time one of the editors of the Petite République6 and municipal councillor of Paris, has written a book on the “proletariat of love,” by which title he designates the lowest class of prostitutes. If one of these days the suffrage is granted to women, he will doubtless be called upon to draw up a statement of the claims of this special proletariat.
B. Contemporary democracy in France finds itself somewhat bewildered by the tactics of the class war. This explains why Parliamentary Socialism does not mingle with the main body of the parties of the extreme left.
In order to understand this situation, we must remember the important part played by revolutionary war in our history; an enormous number of our political ideas originated from war; war presupposes the union of national forces against the enemy, and our French historians have always severely criticised those insurrections which hampered the defence of the country. It seems that our democracy is harder on its rebels than monarchies are; the Vendéens are still denounced daily as infamous traitors. All the articles published by Clémenceau to combat the ideas of Hervé are inspired by the purest revolutionary tradition, and he says so himself clearly: “I stand by and shall always stand by the old-fashioned patriotism of our fathers of the Revolution,” and he scoffs at people who would “suppress international wars in order to hand us over in peace to the amenities of civil war” (Aurore, May 12, 1905).
For some considerable time the Republicans denied that there was any struggle between the classes in France; they had so great a horror of revolt that they would not recognise the facts. Judging all things from the abstract point of view of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, they said that the legislation of 1789 had been created in order to abolish all distinction of class in law; for that reason they were opposed to proposals for social legislation, which, nearly always, reintroduced the idea of class, and distinguished certain groups of citizens as being unfitted for the use of liberty. “The revolution was supposed to have suppressed class distinction,” wrote Joseph Reinach sadly in the Matin of April 19, 1895; “but they spring up again at every step. . . . It is necessary to point out these aggressive returns of the past, but they must not be allowed to pass unchallenged; they must be resisted.”7
Electoral dealing led many Republicans to recognise that the Socialists obtain great successes by utilising the passions of jealousy, of deception, or of hate, which exist in the world; thenceforward they became aware of the class war, and many have borrowed the jargon of the Parliamentary Socialists: in this way the party that is called Radical Socialist came into being. Clémenceau asserts even that he knows moderates who became Socialists in twenty-four hours. “In France,” he says, “the Socialists that I know8 are excellent Radicals who, thinking that social reforms do not advance quickly enough to please them, conceive that it would be good tactics to claim the greater in order to get the less. How many names and how many secret avowals I could quote to support what I say! But that would be useless, for nothing could be less mysterious” (Aurora, August 14, 1905).
Léon Bourgeois—who was not willing to adapt himself completely to the new methods, and who, for that reason perhaps, left the Chamber of Deputies for the Senate—said, at the congress of his party in July 1905: “The class war is a fact, but a cruel fact. I do not believe that it is by prolonging this war that the solution of the problem will be attained; I believe that the solution rather lies in its suppression; men must be brought to look upon themselves as partners in the same work.” It would therefore seem to be a question of creating social peace by legislation, thus demonstrating to the poor that the Government has no greater care than that of improving their lot, and by imposing the necessary sacrifices on people who possess a fortune judged to be too great for the harmony of the classes.
Capitalist society is so rich, and the future appears to it in such optimistic colours, that it endures the most frightful burdens without complaining overmuch: in America politicians waste large taxes shamelessly; in Europe, the expenditure in military preparation increases every year;9 social peace might very well be bought by a few supplementary sacrifices.10 Experience shows that the middle classes allow themselves to be plundered quite easily, provided that a little pressure is brought to bear, and that they are intimidated by the fear of revolution; that party will possess the future which can most skilfully manipulate the spectre of revolution; the radical party is beginning to understand this; but, however clever its clowns may be, it will have some difficulty in finding any who can dazzle the big Jew bankers as well as Jaurès and his friends do.
C. The Syndicalist organisation gives a third value to the class war. In each branch of industry employers and workmen form antagonistic groups, which have continual discussions, which negotiate and make agreements. Socialism brings along its terminology of class war, and thus complicates conflicts which might have remained of a purely private order; corporative exclusiveness, which resembles the local or the racial spirit, is thereby consolidated, and those who represent it like to imagine that they are accomplishing a higher duty and are doing excellent work for Socialism.
It is well known that litigants who are strangers in a town are generally very badly treated by the judges of commercial courts sitting there, who try to give judgment in favour of their fellow-townsmen. Railway companies pay fantastic prices for pieces of ground, the value of which is fixed by juries recruited from among the neighbouring landowners. I have seen Italian sailors overwhelmed with fines, for pretended infractions of the law, by the fishing arbitrators with whom they had come to compete on the strength of ancient treaties. Many workmen are in the same way inclined to assert that in all their contests with the employers, the worker has morality and justice on his side; I have heard the secretary of a syndicate (so fanatically a reformer as distinct from a revolutionary that he denied the oratorical talent of Guesde) declare that nobody had class feeling so strongly developed as he had,—because he argued in the way I have just indicated,—and he concluded that the revolutionaries did not possess the monopoly of the just conception of the class war.
It is quite understandable that many people have considered this corporative spirit as no better than the parish spirit, and also that they should have attempted to destroy it by employing methods very analogous to those which have so much weakened the jealousies which formerly existed in France between the various provinces. A more general culture and the intermixing with people of another region rapidly destroy provincialism: would it not be possible to destroy the corporative feeling by frequently bringing the important men in the syndicates into connection with the employers, and by furnishing them with opportunities of taking part in discussions of a general order in mixed commissions? Experience has shown that this is feasible.
The efforts which have been made to remove the causes of hostility which exist in modern society have undoubtedly had some effect, although the peacemakers may be much deceived about the extent of their work. By showing a few of the officials of the syndicates that the middle classes are not such terrible men as they had believed, by loading them with politeness in commissions set up in ministerial offices or at the Musée social, and by giving them the impression that there is a natural and Republican equity, above class prejudices and hatreds, it has been found possible to change the attitude of a few former revolutionaries.11 These conversions of a few of their old chiefs have caused great confusion in the mind of the working classes; the former enthusiasm of more than one Socialist has given place to discouragement; many working men have wondered whether the trades union organisation was not becoming a kind of politics, a means of getting on.
But simultaneously with this evolution, which filled the heart of the peacemakers with joy, there was a recrudescence of the revolutionary spirit in a large section of the proletariat. Since the Republican Government and the philanthropists have taken it into their heads to exterminate Socialism by developing social legislation, and by moderating the resistance of the employers in strikes, it has been observed that, more than once, the conflicts have become more acute than formerly.12 This is often explained away by saying that it was an accident, the result simply of the survival of old usages; people like to lull themselves with the hope that everything will go perfectly well on the day when manufacturers have a better understanding of the usages of social peace.13 I believe, on the contrary, that we are in the presence of a phenomenon which flows quite naturally from the conditions in which this pretended pacification is carried out.
I observe, first of all, that both the theories and action of the peacemakers are founded on the notion of duty, and that duty is something entirely indefinite—while law seeks rigid definition. This difference is due to the fact that the latter finds a real basis in the economics of production, while the former is founded on sentiments of resignation, goodness, and of sacrifices; and who can judge whether the man who submits to duty has been sufficiently resigned, sufficiently good, sufficiently self-sacrificing? The Christian is convinced that he will never succeed in doing all that the gospel enjoins on him; when he is free from economic ties (in a monastery) he invents all sorts of pious obligations, so that he may bring his life nearer to that of Christ, who loved men to such an extent that he accepted an ignominious fate that they might be redeemed.
In the economic world everybody limits his duty by his unwillingness to give up certain profits. While the employer will be always convinced that he has done the whole of his duty, the worker will be of a contrary opinion, and no argument could possibly settle the matter: the first will believe that he has been heroic, and the second will treat this pretended heroism as shameful exploitation.
Our great pontiffs of duty refuse to look upon a contract to work as being of the nature of a sale; nothing is so simple as a sale; nobody troubles himself to find out whether the grocer or his customer is right when they do not agree on the price of cheese; the customer goes where he can buy more cheaply, and the grocer is obliged to change his prices when his customers leave him. But when a strike takes place it is quite another thing. All the well-intentioned people, all the “progressives” and the friends of the Republic, begin to discuss which of the two parties is in the right: to be in the right is to have accomplished one’s whole social duty. Le Play has given much advice on the means of organising labour with a view to the strict fulfilment of duty; but he could not fix the extent of the mutual obligations; he left it to the tact of each, to the just estimation of the duties attaching to one’s place in the social hierarchy, to the masters intelligent appreciation of the real needs of the workmen.14
The employers generally agree to discuss disputes on these lines; to the claims of the workers they reply that they have already reached the limit of possible concessions—while the philanthropists wonder whether the selling price will not permit of a slight rise in wages. Such a discussion presupposes that it is possible to ascertain the exact extent of a man’s social duty, and what sacrifices an employer must continue to make in order to carry out the duties of his social position. As there is no process of reasoning which can resolve such a problem, wiseacres suggest recourse to arbitration; Rabelais would have suggested recourse to the chance of the dice. When the strike is important, deputies loudly demand an inquiry, with the object of discovering whether the industrial leaders are properly fulfilling their duties as good masters.
Certain results are obtained in this way—which nevertheless seem absurd—because on the one hand the large employers of labour have been brought up with religious, philanthropic, and civic ideas;15 and on the other hand because they cannot show themselves too stubborn, when certain demands are made by people occupying a high position in the country. Conciliators stake their vanity on succeeding, and they would be extremely hurt if industrial leaders prevented them from making social peace. The workmen are in a much more favourable position, because the prestige of the peacemakers is very much less with them than with the capitalists; the latter give way, therefore, much more easily than the workers, in order to allow these well-intentioned folk the glory of ending the conflict. It is noticeable that these proceedings very rarely succeed when the matter is in the hands of workmen who have become rich: literary, moral, or sociological considerations have very little effect upon people born outside the ranks of the middle classes.
People who are called upon to intervene in disputes in this way are misled by what they have seen of certain secretaries of syndicates, whom they find much less irreconcilable than they expected, and who seem to them to be ripe for a recognition of the idea of social peace. In the course of conciliation meetings more than one revolutionary has shown that he aspires to become a member of the middle class, and there are many intelligent people who imagine that socialistic and revolutionary conceptions are only accidents that might be avoided by establishing better relations between the classes. They believe that the working-class world looks at the economic question entirely from the standpoint of duty, and they imagine that harmony would be established if a better social education were given to the citizens.
Let us see what influences are behind the other movement that tends to make conflicts more acute.
Workmen quickly perceive that the labour of conciliation or of arbitration rests on no economico-judicial basis, and their tactics have been conducted—instinctively perhaps—in accordance with this datum. Since the feelings, and, above all, the vanity of the peacemakers are in question, a strong appeal must be made to their imaginations, and they must be given the idea that they have to accomplish a titanic task: demands are piled up, therefore, figures fixed in a rather haphazard way, and there are no scruples about exaggerating them; often the success of the strike depends on the cleverness with which a syndicalist (who thoroughly understands the spirit of social diplomacy) has been able to introduce claims, in themselves very minor, but capable of giving the impression that the employers are not fulfilling their social duty. It often happens that writers who concern themselves with these questions are astonished that several days pass before the strikers have settled what exactly they have to demand, and that in the end demands are put forward which had not been mentioned in the course of the preceding negotiations. This is easily understood when we consider the bizarre conditions under which the discussion between the interested parties is carried on.
I am surprised that there are no strike professionals who would undertake to draw up lists of the workers’ claims; they would obtain all the more success in conciliation councils as they would not let themselves be dazzled by fine words so easily as the workers’ delegates.16
When the strike is finished the workmen do not forget that the employers at first declared that no concession was possible; they are led thus to the belief that the employers are either ignorant or liars. This result is not conducive to the development of social peace!
So long as the workers submitted without protest to the exactions of the employers, they believed that the will of their masters was completely dominated by economic necessities; they perceived, after the strike, that this necessity is not of a very rigid kind, and that if energetic pressure from below is brought to bear on the masters, the latter will find some means of liberating themselves from the pretended fetters of economic necessity; thus within practical limits capitalism appears to the workers to be unfettered, and they reason as if it were entirely so. What in their eyes restrains this liberty is not the necessities of competition but the ignorance of the employers. Thus is introduced the notion of the inexhaustibility of production, which is one of the postulates of the theory of class war in the Socialism of Marx.17
Why then speak of social duty? Duty has some meaning in a society in which all the parts are intimately connected and responsible to one another; but if capitalism is inexhaustible, joint responsibility is no longer founded on economic realities, and the workers think they would be dupes if they did not demand all they can obtain; they look upon the employer as an adversary with whom one comes to terms after a war. Social duty no more exists than does international duty.
These ideas are somewhat confused, I admit, in many minds; but they exist in a much more stable manner than the partisans of social peace imagine; the latter are deluded by appearances, and never penetrate to the hidden roots of the existing tendencies of Socialism.
Before passing to other considerations, it must be noticed that our Latin countries present one great obstacle to the formation of social peace; the classes are more sharply separated by external characteristics than they are in Saxon countries; these separations very much embarrass Syndicalist leaders when they abandon their former manners and take up a position in the official or philanthropic circles.18 These circles have welcomed them with great pleasure, since it has been perceived that the gradual transformation of trades union officials into members of the middle classes might produce excellent results; but their comrades distrust them. In France this distrust has become much more definite since a great number of anarchists have entered the Syndicalist movement; because the anarchist has a horror of everything which recalls the proceedings of politicians—a class of people devoured by the desire to climb into superior classes, and having already the capitalist mind while yet poor.19
Social politics have introduced new elements which must now be taken into account. First of all, it must be noticed that the workers count to-day in the world by the same right as the different productive groups which demand to be protected; they must be treated with solicitude just as the vine-growers or the sugar manufacturers.20 There is nothing settled about Protectionism; the custom duties are fixed so as to satisfy the desires of very influential people who wish to increase their incomes; social politics proceed in the same manner. The Protectionist Government professes to have knowledge which permits it to judge what should be granted to each group so as to defend the producers without injuring the consumers; similarly, in social politics it declares that it will take into consideration the interests of the employers and those of the workers.
Few people, outside the faculties of law, are so simple as to believe that the State can carry out such a programme: in actual fact, the Parliamentarians decide on a compromise that partially satisfies the interests of those who are most influential in elections without provoking too lively protests from those who are sacrificed. There is no other rule than the true or presumed interest of the electors; every day the customs commission recasts its tariffs, and it declares that it will not stop recasting them until it succeeds in securing prices which it considers remunerative to the people for whom it has undertaken the part of providence: it keeps a watchful eye on the operations of importers; every lowering of price attracts its attention and provokes inquiries with the object of discovering whether it would not be possible to raise values again artificially. Social politics are carried on in exactly the same way; on June 27, 1905, the rapporteur21 of a law on the length of the hours of work in the mines said, in the Chamber of Deputies: “Should the application of the law give rise to disappointment among the workmen, we have undertaken to lay a new bill before the house” This worthy man spoke exactly like the rapporteur of a tariff law.
There are plenty of workmen who understand perfectly well that all the trash of Parliamentary literature only serves to disguise the real motives by which the Government is influenced. The Protectionists succeed by subsidising a few important party leaders or by financing newspapers which support the politics of these party leaders; the workers have no money, but they have at their disposal a much more efficacious means of action; they can inspire fear, and for several years past they have availed themselves of this resource.
At the time of the discussion of the law regulating labour in mines, the question of the threats addressed to the Government cropped up several times: on February 5, 1902, the president of the commission told the Chamber that those in power had “lent an attentive ear to clamourings from without; that they had been inspired by a sentiment of benevolent generosity in allowing themselves to be moved (despite the tone in which they were couched), by the claims of the working classes and the long cry of suffering of the workers in the mines.” A little later he added: “We have accomplished a work of social justice. . . . a work of benevolence also, in going to those who toil and suffer, like friends solely desirous of working in peace and under honourable conditions, and we must not by a brutal and too egotistic refusal to unbend, allow them to give way to impulses which, while not actual revolts, would yet have as many victims.” All these confused phrases served to hide the terrible fear which clutched this grotesque deputy.22 In the sitting of November 6, 1904, at the Senate, the minister declared that the Government was incapable of giving way to threats, but that it was necessary to open not only ears and mind, but also the heart “to respectful claims” (!); a good deal of water had passed under the bridges since the day when the Government had promised to pass the law under the threat of a general strike.23
I could choose other examples to show that the most decisive factor in social politics is the cowardice of the Government. This was shown in the plainest possible way in the recent discussions on the suppression of registry offices, and on the law which sent to the civil courts appeals against the decisions of the arbitrators in industrial disputes. Nearly all the Syndicalist leaders know how to make excellent use of this situation, and they teach the workers that it is not at all a question of demanding favours, but that they must profit by middle-class cowardice to impose the will of the proletariat. These tactics are supported by so many facts that they were bound to take root in the working-class world.
One of the things which appear to me to have most astonished the workers during the last few years has been the timidity of the forces of law and order in the presence of a riot; magistrates who have the right to demand the services of soldiers dare not use their power to the utmost, and officers allow themselves to be abused and struck with a patience hitherto unknown in them. It is becoming more and more evident every day that working-class violence possesses an extraordinary efficacity in strikes: prefects, fearing that they may be obliged to use force against insurrectionary violence, bring pressure to bear on employers in order to compel them to give way; the safety of factories is now looked upon as a favour which the prefect may dispense as he pleases; consequently he arranges the use of his police so as to intimidate the two parties, and skilfully brings them to an agreement.
Trades union leaders have not been long in grasping the full bearing of this situation, and it must be admitted that they have used the weapon that has been put into their hands with great skill. They endeavour to intimidate the prefects by popular demonstrations which might lead to serious conflicts with the police, and they commend violence as the most efficacious means of obtaining concessions. At the end of a certain time the obsessed and frightened administration nearly always intervenes with the masters and forces an agreement upon them, which becomes an encouragement to the propagandists of violence.
Whether we approve or condemn what is called the revolutionary and direct method, it is evident that it is not on the point of disappearing; in a country as warlike as France there are profound reasons which would assure a considerable popularity for this method, even if its enormous efficacy had not been demonstrated by so many examples. This is the one great social fact of the present hour, and we must seek to understand its bearing.
I cannot refrain from noting down here a reflection made by Clemenceau with regard to our relations with Germany, which applies equally well to social conflicts when they take a violent aspect (which seems likely to become more and more general in proportion as a cowardly middle class continues to pursue the chimera of social peace): “There is no better means,” he said (than the policy of perpetual concessions), “of making the opposite party ask for more and more. Every man or every power whose action consists solely in surrender can only finish by self-annihilation. Everything that lives resists; that which does not resist allows itself to be cut up piecemeal” (Aurora, August 15, 1905).
A social policy founded on middle-class cowardice, which consists in always surrendering before the threat of violence, cannot fail to engender the idea that the middle class is condemned to death, and that its disappearance is only a matter of time. Thus every conflict which gives rise to violence becomes a vanguard fight, and nobody can foresee what will arise from such engagements; although the great battle never comes to a head, yet each time they come to blows the strikers hope that it is the beginning of the great Napoleonic battle (that which will definitely crush the vanquished); in this way the practice of strikes engenders the notion of a catastrophic revolution.
A keen observer of the contemporary proletarian movement has expressed the same ideas: “They, like their ancestors (the French revolutionaries), are for struggle, for conquest; they desire to accomplish great works by force. Only, the war of conquest interests them no longer. Instead of thinking of battles, they now think of strikes; instead of setting up as their ideal a battle against the armies of Europe, they now set up the general strike in which the capitalist régime will be annihilated.24
The theorists of social peace shut their eyes to these embarrassing facts; they are doubtless ashamed to admit their cowardice, just as the Government is ashamed to admit that its social politics are carried out under the threat of disturbances. It is curious that people who boast of having read Le Play have not observed that his conception of the conditions of social peace was quite different from that of his imbecile successors. He supposed the existence of a middle class of serious moral habits, imbued with the feelings of its own dignity, and having the energy necessary to govern the country without recourse to the old traditional bureaucracy. To those men, who held riches and power in their hands, he professed to teach their social duty towards their subjects. His system supposed an undisputed authority; it is well known that he deplored the licence of the press under Napoleon III. as scandalous and dangerous; his reflections on this subject seem somewhat ludicrous to those who compare the newspaper of that time with those of to-day.25 Nobody in his time would have believed that a great country would accept peace at any price; his point of view in this matter did not differ greatly from that of Clemenceau. He would never have admitted that any one could be cowardly and hypocritical enough to decorate with the name of social duty the cowardice of a middle class incapable of defending itself.
Middle-class cowardice very much resembles the cowardice of the English Liberal party, which constantly proclaims its absolute confidence in arbitration between nations: arbitration nearly always gives disastrous results for England.26 But these worthy progressives prefer to pay, or even to compromise the future of their country, rather than face the horrors of war. The English Liberal party has the word justice always on its lips, absolutely like our middle class; we might very well wonder whether all the high morality of our great contemporary thinkers is not founded on a degradation of the sentiment of honour.
1Bernstein complains of the pettifoggery and cant which reigns among the social democrats (Socialisme théorique et socialdémocratie pratique, French translation, p. 277). He addresses these words from Schiller to social democracy: “Let it dare to appear what it is” (p. 238).
3Engels, La Question agraire et le socialisme. Critique du programme du parti ouvrier français, translated in the Mouvement socialiste. October 15, 1900, p. 453. It has often been pointed out that certain Socialist candidates had separate bills for the town and the country.
4Hampered by the monopoly of the licensed stockbrokers (agents de change), the other brokers (coulissiers) of the Bourse thus form a financial proletariat, and among them more than one Socialist admirer of Juarés may be found. [Trans. Note.—The coulissiers are only allowed to deal in certain markets—the Kaffir, Argentine, etc. They are constantly conducting press campaigns against the privileged brokers. Many of them are naturalised German Jews, and the licensed brokers utilise this fact in defending their own position.]
5The Socialist deputy Sudekum, the best-dressed man in Berlin, played a large part in the abduction of the Princess of Coburg; let us hope that he had no financial interest in this affaire. At that time he represented Jaurès’s newspaper at Berlin.
6H. Turot was for some considerable time one of the editors of the nationalist paper L’Eclair, and of the Petite République at the same time. When Judet took over the management of L’Eclair he dismissed his Socialist contributor.
9At The Hague Conference the German delegate declared that his country bore the expense of armed peace with ease; Léon Bourgeois held that France bore “quite as lightly the personal and financial obligations which the national defence imposed on its citizens.” Ch. Guieysse, who quotes this speech, thinks that the Tsar had asked for the limitation of military expenditure because Russia was not rich enough yet to maintain herself at the level of the great capitalist countries (La France et la paix armée, p. 45).
11In the matter of social “clowneries” there are very few new things under the sun. Aristotle had already laid down the rules of social peace: he says that demagogue “should in their harangues appear t be concerned only with the interests of the rich, just as in oligarchies the government should only seem to have in view the interests of the people” (loc. cit.). That is a text which should be inscribed on the door of the offices of the Direction du Travail.
13In his speech of May 11, 1907, Jaures said that nowhere had there been such violence as there was in England during the period when both the employers and the Government refused to recognise the trade union. “They have given way; there is now vigorous and strong action, but which is at the same time legal, firm, and wise.”
14Le Play, Organisation du travail, chap. ii. § 21. According to this writer, more attention should be paid to moral forces than to the systems that are invented in order to regulate wages in a more or less automatic manner.
16The French law of December 27, 1892, seems to have foreseen this possibility; it lays down that delegates on conciliation boards should be chosen among the interested parties; it thus keeps out these professionals whose presence would render the prestige of the authorities and of philanthropists precarious.
18Everybody who has seen trades union leaders close at hand is struck with the extreme difference which exists between France and England from this point of view; the English trades union leaders rapidly become gentlemen, without anybody blaming them for it (P. de Rousiers, Le Trade-unionisme en Angleterre, p. 309 and p. 322). While correcting this proof, I read an article by Jacques Bardaux, pointing out that a carpenter and a miner had been made knights by Edward VIII. (Débats, December 16, 1907).
19Some years ago Arsène Dumont invented the term social capillarity to express the slow climbing of the classes. If Syndicalism submitted to the influence of the pacifists, it would be a powerful agent of social capillarity.
20It has often been pointed out that the workers’ organization in England is a simple union of interests, for the purpose of immediate material advantages. Some writers are very pleased with this situation because, quite rightly, they see in it an obstacle to Socialistic propaganda. To embarrass the Socialists, even at the price of economic progress and of the safety of the culture of the future, that is the great aim of certain idealists dear to the philanthropic middle classes.
22This imbecile has become Minister of Commerce. All his speeches on this question are full of balderdash; he has been a lunacy doctor, and has perhaps been influenced by the logic and the language of his clients.
23The Minister declared that he was creating “real democracy,” and that it was demagogy “to give way to external pressure, to haughty summonses, which, for the most part, are only higher bids and baits addressed to the credulity of people whose life is laborious.”
25Speaking of the elections of 1869, he said that there had been “violences of language which France had not till then heard, even in the worst days of the Revolution” (Organisation du Travail, 3rd ed. p. 340). Evidently, the revolution of 1848 was meant. In 1873 he declared that the Emperor could not congratulate himself on having abrogated the system of restraint on the press, before having reformed the morals of the country (Réforme sociale en France, 5th ed. tome iii. p. 356).
26Sumner Maine observed a long while ago that it was England’s fate to have advocates who aroused very little sympathy (Le Droit international, French translation, p. 279). Many Englishmen believe that by humiliating their country they will rouse more sympathy toward themselves; but this supposition is not borne out by the facts.