Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II: Socialism Versus Democracy - Socialistic Fallacies
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CHAPTER II: Socialism Versus Democracy - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
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Socialism Versus Democracy
Factors opposed to “social evolution”—Socialism opposed to small industries and small properties—Appeal to workmen's legislation—Sidney Webb opposed to thrift and co-operation—Apology for idleness—The Confederation of Labour and the “slough of democracy”—“The class for itself and the class in itself”—Some leaders of the proletariat class—The primary school teachers and the class in itself.
In order that the “Socialist evolution” may be realised, it is necessary that industry and capital should be concentrated in a few hands, and, on the other hand, that there should be a great mass of wage-earners, increasingly wretched and deprived of all personal property. Such is the process as determined by Marx and Engels in the “Communist Manifesto,” and confirmed by the Erfurt Congress in 1891.
But this phenomenon does not appear if the “artisan” works in isolated independence; neither does it appear if those who carry on small industries, working in their own houses, have not been previously absorbed in the proletariat crowd of workmen employed in the great industries; nor does it appear if the small proprietor preserves his love of individual property. The prophesied social evolution miscarries; the heralded paradise of the socialisation of all the means of production and exchange vanishes. Democracy and Socialism are antagonistic.
Have I invented and formulated this proposition for polemical purposes? It comes from a Socialist, Herr Werner Sombart.1
“What should be the attitude of socialism with regard to the masses which have not yet fallen into the ranks of the proletariat, such as the lower middle class (petite bourgeoisie) and of that part of the population which may perhaps never exhibit any tendency to inclusion in the proletariat? Should the object of the proletariat be essentially proletarian or should it be democratic? If it become democratic, what becomes of its programme? Is it to be socialism or democracy? The fundamental contention is expressed in the opposition between these two points of view.”
Bernstein published a series of articles in 1905 under the title, “Will Social Democracy Become Popular?”1
In order to obtain recruits for the Socialist army it is necessary to “proletariarise” those who carry on small industries as well as small trades, and the owners of small properties, all of whom display elements of resistance to the socialisation of the means of production. The movement of concentration, which does not take place naturally, must be obtained by force, in order to arrive at the catastrophe foretold by Karl Marx, as “on the one hand a few large industrial establishments and on the other the masses who possess nothing at all, the former absorbing the latter without their being able to offer resistance.”
In order to reach this point, the simplicity and ignorance of the very persons is to be exploited whom it is proposed to ruin, and of their representatives in Parliament. And legislation is to be carried out on the lines of social insurance and regulation of labour, in such a manner as to annihilate the small men, to overburden them with general expenses and risks, to close their shops and businesses and to try by artificial means to bring about the concentration of industries to which economic liberty fails to lend itself.
Werner Sombart frankly recognises this when he says that “a good system of workmen's legisla tion is a weapon of the highest order for proprietors of undertakings on a large scale, wherewith to ruin the small men and disembarrass themselves of their competition.1
M. E. Vandervelde also demands this factitious concentration. “We must,” he says, “wish for, and even foster by legislative measures, the passing of the degenerate forms of individual production into the superior forms of production in common.”2
People exclaim that the small or family workshop gets out of control, and demand its suppression. It will be the compulsory stage on the road to proletarisation, if small proprietors, small industrialists and small traders, in fact all persons with a moderate position in life, fail to remember that democracy and socialism are antagonistic. They have already, in spite of numerous warnings, frequently been the dupes of those who lured them to work for their own destruction. Laws, such as those with reference to a weekly day of rest, are of a nature to give them such warning.
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb protest against a group of careful artisans carrying on an enterprise by themselves. They would be supporting a minor industry, “which is diametrically opposed to the Socialist ideal.” They would be producing for their own profit, and the community would obtain no more power over their industry than over the industry of the individual.
While the Belgian Socialists make use of Vooruit and of some other co-operative societies, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb declare that they present “the worst aspect of current affairs.” Work and thrift are considered as vices by Socialists. M. Paul Lafargue has written the apology of idleness. This is one way of flattering the lowest instincts, and it is evident that if these excellent apostles were listened to, pauperism would increase instead of diminishing.
Socialism or Democracy. The two are in conflict, as the German Socialists declare; and Werner Sombart and Bernstein, like the rest of the Socialists, only suggest temporary and embarrassed solutions of the difficulty.
In France, the theorists and the leaders of the Confederation of Labour, MM. Georges Sorel, Hubert Lagardelle and Griffuelhes, with greater hardihood, clearly say that they intend to put all the lower middle class-outside the door of Socialism, in order to extricate the workman from the “slough of democracy.” Their aim is that the economic and the political classes be united into one, and they distinguish between “the class in itself” and “the class for itself,” the former constituting the “economic group” and the latter the “psychological group.”
The “class in itself” is supplied by proletarians of the type conceived by Karl Marx, whose hours of labour constantly increase in length, while their wages decrease; the “class for itself” overruns them and annexes owners of small properties, small and even great traders and employers, clerks, officials, philanthropists, millionaires, Protestant pastors, priests, professors, men of letters, etc. But Karl Marx, a doctor of the University of Berlin, and the son-in-law of a Prussian “junker,” was not a member of the proletariat of which he declared himself to be the great chief. The same was the case with Engels, who was entrusted by his father with the management of a large cotton mill at Manchester, and who, while following the hounds and leading the life of a gentleman, was not ruined by his efforts. How many men are there at the head of the German Socialist Party, who are entitled to be ranked with the “class in itself”? Mr. Hyndman, the founder of Social Democracy in London, is a rich member of the middle class. Is Frances Evelyn, Countess of Warwick, with her castle and her 20,000 acres—a lady who is a firstrate horsewoman and a member of the Social Democratic Federation—a member of the “class in itself?”
All these people combine discontents more or less justified, deceptions more or less deserved, fancies more or less intelligent, ideas more or less vague, and ambitions more or less considerable.
This “party for itself” answers to the idea conceived by Jules Guesde in 1878—79 of combining all the proletarians found in the different middle-class parties for the purposes of the impending revolution, in order to organise the revolt against the capitalist world. The party was to possess a revolutionary and extra-Parliamentary character. The “revolutionary preface” ended in electoral combinations which returned Paul Lafargue. Jules Guesde, and several others by means of coalitions. Jules Guesde supported M. Léon Bourgeois in his ministry in 1896. M. Combes in his ministry succeeded in closing the Labour Exchanges and the Parliamentary Socialists did not desert him.
The theorists of the Confederation of Labour do not desire that the “class in itself” and “the class by itself” should be superimposed and that the one should be overrun and carried away by the other. They consider that the policy of the struggle of classes, as understood by the followers of Marx, ends in the constitution of a bourgeois political party and pour all their contempt upon it.
With reference to the claim of the primary school teachers to be admitted to the Labour Exchanges, they say that “an association of primary school teachers cannot be interested in questions arising out of the relations between trades unions, or in such as concern stoppage of work or internal disputes, general strikes, shortening the hours of labour, etc. It cannot itself go on strike. The teachers cannot be present at the sittings of the Confederation of Labour, at which they have no interest to defend; they cannot take part in discussions within the Unions, Trade Societies and Labour Exchanges for the same reason.”
If they have now admitted them,1 and look upon them with a sympathetic eye, like the associations of officials, that is only because they look upon them as elements in the political dissolution aimed at by the Confederation of Labour.
“Le Socialisme et le mouvement social au xixe siecle,” p. 144 foll.
“Socialistische Monatshefte,” August, October and November, 1905. See the “Mouvement socialiste,” January 15th, 1906, p.117.
Werner Sombart, op, cit.
“Le Collectivisme et l'evolution industrielle,” p. 53.
See “The Times,” August 13th, 1909