Jean Jaurès, socialist and humanitarian/6

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Socialism, by its very nature, is opposed irreconcilably to Militarism. In his book on Jaurès, M. Rappoport points out that, after the foundation of the second International in Paris in 1889, Socialism more and more developed an anti-militarist bias. Jaurès, who was above all things a humanitarian, ardently supported the cause of International Peace. Though he believed that France and other countries should defend themselves against aggression, yet he was, after Tolstoy, the strongest individual force for Peace in Europe.

He had no doubt of the need of the people for peace.[1] “It is war above all which will make orderly social evolution impossible,” he says, “while on the contrary, by the guarantee of democracy and peace, the fullness of popular rights and international security, the passage from our bourgeois society to the socialist order can be accomplished by steps, by arranged transitions, without violence and shedding of blood, without waste of economic forces.”

To Jaurès war was [2]"the horrible crime which forces into a quarrel brothers in work and in poverty all the world over." But he sees that war is of the essence of capitalism and that it will not be eradicated till capitalism itself has been abolished. "Yes, that is the great Socialist truth. Yes, in the capitalist world there is permanent, eternal, universal war, the war of all against all, of individuals against the individuals in a class, of classes against classes in a nation, of nations against nations, of races against races in humanity. Capitalism is disorder, hatred, coveteousness without check, the rush of a troop which precipitates itself on profit and tramples on the multitude to get it."

And France? [3]"France does not want war; she needs peace for the immense work of socialistic change, which will demand all her strength, … This will for peace is not a wish to humble herself, and no one outside will mistake it for that. But it ought to show itself clearly, distinctly, radiantly. The most decisive sign that France could give to the world of this pacific desire would be, not to give herself up to Germany against England, nor to England against Germany … but to believe in the possibility of peace between Germany and England and to work for it ceaselessly, with discretion but with sincerity. That is the wise policy. That is the necessary policy. Those who wish for peace, but who by announcing inevitable conflicts create the vertigo of war, enervate and upset by secret contradictions the reason of the country. And they take away from France the benefit of absolute clearness, clearness for others and clearness for herself, which is a safeguard for her and for all the world."

But one thing may be worse, he feels, than war, and that is, the condition of the world under an armed peace—such an armed peace as existed all through the latter part of Jaurès' life. For armed peace combines all the evils of war—hatred, moral uncertainty, the twilight of intrigue and doubt, all the base passions, with none of those redeeming features which Jaurès saw in war. "If we have a horror of war," he says, "it is not from a feeble and enervated sentimentalism.… If sufferings are a necessary condition of a great human step in advance, the revolutionary can resign himself to them." And he speaks with admiration of that state of mind which comes from the [4]"great probability of near peril, the certainty of imminent sacrifice, the frequent familiarity with death joyfully accepted." Such fruits of war he did not despise. But he seriously warns those who talk lightly of the good that is bound to spring from war. In 1905 Jaurès had been asked by the German Social Democrats to go and speak in Berlin itself on the subject of International Peace. Though the German Government refused him permission and Jaurès did not go, the speech was read publicly in Germany and published in Vorwärts. In it he says: "But in Europe to-day it is not by the way of international war that the work of Liberty and Justice will be accomplished and that the grievances of one people against another will be redressed.… From a European war the Revolution might spring forth; and the governing classes would do well to ponder on that—but there might result also for a long period, crises of counter-revolution, of furious reaction, of exasperated nationalism, of stifling dictatorships, of monstrous militarism, a long chain of retrograde violence, of base hatreds, of reprisals, of slavery. And as for us, we have no wish to play at this game of barbarous chance.…"

Jaurès was a patriot in the highest and purest sense of the word. He loved France with the Hebrew prophet's love of Israel, he loved her with an intensity of which the ordinary patriot is incapable. He could easily "scorn delights and live laborious days" for her welfare. He had a vision of her glorious destiny in which he really believed as few men believe in anything, and love of one's country was in his eyes a natural, a healthy and a fundamental instinct. [5]"There is," he says, "among the individuals (in a nation) … an invisible ground of common impressions.… Forces half instinctive and for that very reason immense and formidable." And he shows how the prodigious strength of the great common emotions that occasionally arise results from the fact that they have grown up out of the most commonplace ordinary acts of daily life, speaking, walking, talking, by which the life of each man in a group mingles with the common life of all. And thus the great movements of the spirit have a basis in Nature. "Yes," he adds, "they are great and good forces, but also full of peril and trouble." And "in the international life man is still a wolf towards his fellow man. The country, by absorbing or rather by exalting individual egoism in a great collective egoism, too often covers the most brutal greed with a semblance of generosity. Men are capable of the illusion that they are serving justice when they are devoting themselves for the interests, even the unjust interests of a force, in which they are included but which is infinitely above them. Thence come blind entanglements and brutal maxims. Thence comes the adherence given even by high-minded men to the detestable formula, 'My country right or wrong.' In the measure that men progress and become enlightened the necessity becomes apparent of rescuing each country from classes and castes, so as to make it really, by the sovereignty of work, the possession of everyone. The necessity also appears of abolishing in the international order the state of nature, of submitting the nations in their reciprocal relationships to rules of right, sanctioned by the active consent of all civilized people."

[6]"But this national and international transformation is only possible if each of the men who carry within them the new idea acts in his country and on his country. By hope, by common and harmonious action all the proletariat, all the men of social justice and international peace belong beforehand to the same human country, to the universal country of free work and of reconciled nations. But this high ideal cannot be projected by them in the void. They can only realize it in autonomous countries … according to … the history of each."

He denounces that patriotism that excludes humanity. [7]"To tell the Frenchman that it is his duty 'passionately to prefer France,' the German that it his duty passionately to prefer Germany, the Englishman to prefer England, the Italian to prefer Italy, the Chinaman to prefer China, is to create amongst the peoples a condition of fixed blindness, infatuation, injustice and violence. He who deliberately prefers himself to another recognizes in others only inferior rights; this is the principle of all crimes, of all iniquities. It is the formula and doctrine of nationalist barbarism, and teachers who … spread this base idea commit the crime of lèse-humanity and lèse-fatherland.… Miserable patriots, who to love and serve France must 'prefer' it, that is, must disparage other peoples, the other great moral forces of humanity.… The true formula of patriotism is the equal right of all countries to liberty and justice, and the duty of every citizen to strengthen in his country liberty and justice."

Jaurès was a man of faith, with a glowing vision which he was doing all that a man could do to realize. He was full of ardent hope for the future, a hope which the crushing events of the past two years seem to have proved unwarranted, at any rate as regards so near a future as his words sometimes implied. Yet even in his most optimistic moments he was keenly conscious of the tremendous difficulties to be overcome; they were probably far more apparent to his clear intellect than to the minds of the shallow pessimists who know nothing of the self-sacrificing effort of creation made by the man of faith.

In L'Armée Nouvelle he says that the proletariat knows what a difficult task it is at once to struggle against war and to safeguard the independence of nations, and he adds: [8]"The class which assumes this glorious and formidable responsibility is forced itself to an immense effort of education and organization, of wisdom and heroism. It is not naïve enough to claim to enclose beforehand in a well-arranged formula, tumultuous events. An abstract scheme would not suffice to guide men in these confused and terrible crises."

And again he says: [9]"The voice of the proletariat everywhere, which begins to rise vibrating and strong above the nations agitated by an eternal anxious rumour of war, cannot repeat all that was said by Schiller's belfry. It can say 'I call the living and I weep over the dead.' It cannot yet say 'I break the lightning.' There still remains for us to accomplish," he repeats, "an immense work of education and organization. But in spite of all, henceforth one may hope, one can act. Neither blind optimism, nor paralyzing pessimism. There is a beginning of working class and socialist organization, there is a beginning of international conscience. Henceforth if we really wish we can re-act against the fatal tendency to war which the capitalist régime contains.

"The present condition of things is ambiguous and mixed. There is no fatality in it, no certainty. The proletariat is not suffciently strong for there to be a certainty of peace, nor is he weak enough for there to be a fatality of war. In this state of indecision and this unstable equilibrium of forces, human action can do much. The formidable part of the unknown is not alarming for us Socialists alone. It is fearful also for those who would rashly let loose wars of which no one to-day can predict the political consequences, the internal rebounds."

Jaurès fully recognized that while the education of the peoples in the direction of peace and of friendly international relationships could only be expected to proceed slowly, the relationships of the Governments of the Great Powers was uneasy and menacing in the highest degree. He had always regarded the alliance of France with Russia with apprehension. France he thought was always controlled by and never controlled Russia; she was led therefore into dangerous actions which she would never have undertaken alone. In the early days of the understanding between the two countries he became afraid that France might be led at the tail of Russia into those wars of "adventure" in the Far East which he regarded as wrong and foolish. And meanwhile [10]"internally Tzarism, exploited by our governors against the revolutionary tradition of France, increased the strength of the French reaction with something of Russian servitude."

Jaurès welcomed the Entente between France and England, but not as against Germany. He would have wished for an understanding, too, with Germany, but not at the price of weakening the understanding with England.

Above all, Jaurès thought that one of the greatest evils was the supposed necessity of a struggle between Germany and England, with its terrible effect upon the growth of armaments and of militarism.

His words were solemn and prophetic: [11]"Doubtless," he says, "the rivalry of economic interests is acute. But war would be a solution neither for the one people nor the other. It is doubtless impossible to abolish England's great power of expansion, and it is impossible to crush the methodical force of production of the populous and scientific Germany. Striking at one another desperately, the two peoples would bruise and wound one another and splash the world with blood; but neither of them would eliminate the other; and after an exhausting struggle they would still have to reckon with one another."

"Or if, by a peculiar stroke of fortune, one of the two peoples reduced the other to a long powerlessness, the conqueror, become formidable to the rest of the world, would see formed against him one of those universal coalitions which broke Louis XIV. and Napoleon.…

"Wisdom, the care of their interests counsels England and Germany, then, to negotiate, to come to terms, to seek a settlement at all points of the globe where their activities meet or their ambitions clash. This is the duty of their statesmen. This would be their glory. And it is also about this that the proletariat of the two nations ought to occupy itself without delay and without intermission."

For France he saw a great mission, whereby she could render to civilization and to peace, to political liberty and to social justice the greatest possible service. This service was "to moderate the Anglo-German conflict," But to be capable of undertaking this great work, to play the Peacemaker, she must herself be without ideas of aggression, she must have no secret designs of her own, she must be loyal to the nations she desires to help. And Jaurès did not see in the French people the clear and certain intention to pursue peace that he would have wished. France knows she needs peace and yet betrays ideas and designs incompatible with peace. Over and over again he told France that her behaviour with regard to Morocco had tied her hands.

For Jaurès saw that only by the growth of international good faith can lasting peace be assured. When France and Germany came 134 JEAN JAURES finally to an agreement over the Morocco question in 1911, he made a powerful speech in the Chamber of Deputies, in which he reviewed the past and exposed the selfishness of the financial interests involved in the struggle over Morocco, which had several times brought Europe close to war. [12]"For years," he said, in beginning his speech, "with a persistence which bordered on monotony, I have brought before you and before the country, warnings and objections; I have pointed out that the way in which our policy was developing could only end in crises and deceptions. But many citizens accused me of pessimism and bias."

And yet, as he went on to point out, for eight years there had been "apprehensions, alarms, conflicts," and as many as three times Europe had been brought by this business to the verge of war. Now at last it had ended in France having to give up a portion of the Congo to Germany, and her power had been weakened to check the designs of other nations.

By the secret articles of the treaties of 1904 and 1905 with England and Spain, France had put it out of her power honestly to carry out the provisions of the treaty of Algeciras. Jaurès spoke of the mistake which had been committed "by destroying, with the Act of Algeciras, the only means of expression of an international opinion. … "Now this act is wrecked, this international opinion is dispersed. Each is engaged in its own affairs: Italy painfully devours Tripoli, Russia proceeds to the partition and absorption of Persia, Austria-Hungary, remembering Bosnia-Herzegovina, is not in the least able to recommend disinterestedness and moderation to Spain."

He went on to say: "Though the new settlement has in my eyes and in the eyes of my friends the immense and inestimable merit of getting rid of every immediate cause of conflict and of making possible, if we wish it, a better arrangement of international life, yet this new settlement leaves the world, in spite of everything, in a troubled state, with passions awake and minds excited.… The chancelleries put questions to one another with a formidable courtesy, recriminations and controversies are prolonged.

"From whence comes this, gentlemen, and how have we arrived at this menacing chaos? How shall we get out of it?"

We must look back to the past, he says, and see what mistakes have been committed. First there is the want of that patience which would have enabled France to have penetrated Morocco peacefully and legitimately with European civilization—to her own good and that of Morocco That would have been an effective though quiet policy, but an ostentatious policy was preferred.

It was beneficial, he goes on, to reconcile England and Italy with France, but the problem was to do this without "uselessly and thoughtlessly exciting the susceptibilities of Germany."

Jaurès then gave a description of the rise of Germany, showing how she had always had the misfortune to lag behind the other great nations in her development. He pointed out that for forty years peace had been maintained and that, during that time, Germany had grown immensely in population and in industrial activity. Now she finds herself again too late. Most parts of the world are already occupied. Therefore it is natural, says Jaurès, that she should watch with a particularly scrupulous care that no new distribution of the small markets which remain should be arranged.

"And this is why in 1904 and 1905 when vast diplomatic combinations came into play, and when these diplomatic combinations had for their immediate object the distribution of a new sphere of influence and of power, I say that it was a grave imprudence in French diplomacy not to have occupied itself by real and serious negotiations in taking precautions with reference to the susceptibilities of Germany,

"You have made, eight years later, the bargain by which, eight years ago, you would have saved France a period of crisis and agitation."

Many of the deputies were very much excited by Jaurès' speech, and when he continued that now "France, with the consciousness of her liberty, and dignity, and force, and with her in- dependence in mind judges that in exchange for the influence which she assumes in Morocco she owes to other nations, she owes especially to Germany, compensation of an economic or at least a territorial order" a member called out: "No, she owes nothing at all," and another told Jaurès that he was using the language of the German Chancellor.

But in spite of the anger which he excited, Jaurès proceeded to denounce the secret treaties.

"… They nourish the solitary pride of diplomatists.… They propagate besides everywhere suspicion. People say, 'Are there no others?'… And at the same time by an inevitable result they ruin the value of treaties; the public signature that the nations exchange has no longer any value, it has a depreciated title on the diplomatic market since there are, behind and below, secret values, occult values, which run between one diplomatist and another.

"Oh, what an admirable addition to the temptation to perfidy, when there are two series of treaties, public treaties which bind you towards the nation in daylight, and secret treaties containing contrary clauses! One cannot altogether fail to keep one's word.…

"And it is a final vice of these treaties that they do not always remain secret and ignored by those who may have an interest in knowing about them.…"

These mistakes of impatience, of imprudence, of deception, were not the only ones. Jaures declared there had been provocation towards the people of Morocco, unfairness towards the Sultan.

"At the same time faults against the Sultan himself. You told us yesterday … that the Sultan was at the end of his resources, that all his resources were hypothetical, that the entire revenue from his customs was absorbed by the payment of loans. Yes, but as the consequence of a deliberate policy. This is what was desired.… First 40% was taken from him, then 60%, and it was said: 'When he has not a penny left, when he cannot maintain himself any more, when he can no longer pay his miserable little army, when he can only live by squeezing the sole tribes that are squeezable, that is, those that hitherto remain faithful to him, then there will be revolt, anarchy, and the Sultan will be reduced to powerlessness and we shall have a pretext to interfere.' This was the calculation of the Government, this was the calculation of the colonials.…

"When one has manœuvred in this way … to ruin the Act of Algeciras, one cannot allege that it was condemned to disappear by its own defects.…

"… The Act of Algeciras inaugurated in Europe an admirable method of international organization for the solution of economic and political conflicts; it was a noble attempt which would have permitted France to develop largely its interests in Morocco in agreement with the international sentiment, with the interests, with the rights of Europe.…

"It was difficult, perhaps, but it was great, it was noble, it would have spared the world immediate agitations, and it prepared for the future the form according to which other disputes could have been settled. But no, it was desired, so as to devour Morocco, greedily, gluttonously, to snatch it out of the international régime, to drive the Sultan to ruin, and this terrible example, this fatal example has been given of international treaties, affirmed and violated at the very moment when everywhere in Europe public faith seemed lowered.

"Ah, gentlemen, what a sad spectacle is that at which the consciences of men have looked in the past few years.… A series of violations of public faith, ostensible treaties undermined by secret treaties, international engagements violated or mocked at, Bosnia and Herzegovina confiscated, annexed, in contempt of an international treaty, the Act of Algeciras violated, Italy throwing herself on Tripoli in a time of absolute peace."

… "And what I deplore for France … great force as she is of moral nobility, what I regret is, that she has supplied her share in initiative, in example, in the detestable responsibility for these universal violations of sworn faith, in this abasement of the international signature and loyalty."

At this point in his speech a great outcry was raised against Jaurès. He was called to order, fists were shaken at him and great confusion reigned. The deputies however seem to have listened to him with greater calmness the next day when he finished his speech, developing in it, in more detail, the dangers of international finance. At the end he reverted gravely to the unsafe condition into which these adventures were continually leading Europe. He spoke of that "atmosphere of storm, of suspicion, from which it seems the lightning of war might be precipitated at any moment." He begged them not to believe the fatalistic doctrine that such a war was inevitable, but to work honestly against it with all their strength. In a terrible and prophetic passage he described what a modern European war would be and then ended on a happier note by recalling the forces that were working even now for peace.

The tremendous danger with which the modern developments of capitalism and finance threaten peace drove a certain number of French Socialists to sympathise with the extreme position held by Gustave Hervé. The revelations of the Dreyfus case, which had shown that the French army was led by a number of men really opposed to the Republic and ready to plot against her, and the discovery on the other hand that Radical ministries could use the army for the purpose of suppressing strikes, produced a profound disgust, which in Gustave Hervé led to a kind of anti-patriotism. He contended that all forms of patriotism were a delusion for the worker, who had no real fatherland as long as he was deprived of all those benefits which make their country dear to the privileged classes. He argued that the worker would be as well off under one anti-Socialist government as another, and would gain nothing by fighting to preserve the possessions of his present masters. He never really knows which is the aggressor in a war, and for him there is only one duty—to refuse to fight for the capitalist state at all, and to paralyze every war by a general strike and a revolutionary effort. This as we have seen was not Jaurès' point of view, though Hervé interested him, as did all original men, and with much of Hervé's destructive criticism he was in complete sympathy. But to him the nation was a reality of great significance. Moreover, Hervé's repudiation of every means of combating war and the spirit of war but by the one means of refusing to fight, was foreign to Jaurès' mode of thought. Rather he urged on the workers to use every means available to bring about lasting peace, and he earnestly begged them to make use of the ideas of International Arbitration and the Conferences of the Hague. [13]"For a long time," he says, "Socialism was defiant of International Arbitration. It had its reasons." The royal persons and the diplomatists who smiled upon the Hague Conference did not show their sincerity by their subsequent behaviour. But it may be asked: Why, if it is merely a trick on their part, do they go to the Hague at all? They go because they know that the people really want peace and that by making this show of a "bonne petite paix à leur facon " which "will permit of a certain number of wars," they will save the proletariat from making a reality of the thing. But the right method for the people is not to laugh at all this and despise it, but to force these same diplomatic personages to put into practice their professions. ' "Messieurs les Ministres, Messieurs les gouvernants, Messieurs les diplomates, chamarrés d'or et revêtus de belles intentions, si vous voulez l'arbitrage international, nous aussi." Since they have been to the Hague they can no longer tell us that arbitration is impossible, and now we mean them to do what they have said. Hervé had said that the workers could never tell whether a war were really offensive or only defensive. Jaurès replied that the test would in future be whether its promoters were willing to submit to arbitration.

In L'Armée Nouvelle he has developed his idea of free nations in a federation of humanity. [14]"It is only by the free federation of autonomous nations which have given up the exercise of military force, and have submitted themselves to the rules of law, that human unity can be realized. But it will not be by the suppression of national life but by its ennoblement. Nations will rise to be part of humanity without losing any of their independence, of their originality, of the liberty of their own genius.…

[14]"In the light of the new social order it is from henceforth a joy, a pride and a strength, for all the fighters for international Socialism to make an appeal to all that is most noble in the traditions, in the history and in the genius of the countries." Of all these acts of courage and efforts of mind he says, "We recall them, we invoke them, we say to men: Why should this movement cease?…

"The new humanity will only be rich and living if the originality of each people is retained in the general harmony.…

"This is why, in all its congresses, the Socialist and working-class International reminds the proletariat of all countries of the double and indivisible duty of maintaining peace by all means in its power, and of safeguarding the independence of all nations. Yes, of maintaining peace by all the means of action open to the proletariat, even by a general international strike, even by revolution. How many misunderstandings, voluntary and involuntary, how much contempt and calumny the adversaries of Socialism have gathered together on this subject.

"They forget, they affect to forget, that even in democratic countries war can be unchained without the consent of the people, without their knowledge, against their will. They forget that in the mystery in which diplomacy is still enveloped, foreign politics too often escape from the control of nations, that an imprudence, a fatuity, a stupid provocation, the infamous greed of some group of financiers may unchain sudden conflicts; that it depends still on a minority, a small circle, or on a system-ridden and infatuated man to engage the nation, and create the irreparable, and that war and peace are still unaffected by the law of democracy."

Jaurès saw that against this kind of scheming the proletariat had little resource and that it was possible that he might be forced to take desperate means against these evil effects of our present system of diplomacy. He might have to signify that [15]"he would not fight or rather that he would fight against the criminal plotters, that he would break if he could the forces of war, that he would rise to snatch the country from those who are trying to deceive it."

"Yes, this would be the right and the duty of the workers, … by a simultaneous and united effort of its militants in the countries exposed to the horrible catastrophe, to rise, make a desperate appeal to revolutionary force, and break these governments of delirium, and rapine and murder.…"

In the International Congress of Stuttgart in 1907 Jaurès took an active part. At a Congress held at Limoges on the 4th of November, 1906, and at another held at Nancy on the 13th of August, 1907, the French Socialist party had passed strong resolutions confirming those of previous earlier International Congresses which recognized the solidarity of the workers of all countries. It called upon the workers to prevent war by all the means in their power, from intervention in Parliament and public agitation to the general strike and insurrection.

The motion on the subject, about which there was some divergence at the French Congresses, was carried unanimously at Stuttgart, where the Congress lasted from the l8th to the 24th of August. The motion was a very long one. It confirmed the ideas of previous congresses, recognized the inseparability of capitalism and militarism, and pointed out how many modern wars were fomented solely for the purpose of obtaining markets. It showed that the creation of a new social order based on the solidarity of the peoples was in direct conflict with the idea of war. It affirmed that it was the duty of all the workers to make war against the growth of armaments by refusing all money support and by the education of their children in ideas of friendship and solidarity towards the people of every country. It advocated a system of militia, believing this to be a real guarantee of peace. It refused to confine itself to any rigid formula as to what action on the part of the different national parties would be necessary to prevent war but confined itself to stating that the working classes must do everything possible. It contained a long paragraph pointing out what had already been done by the joint action of English and French Trades Unions, by the Socialist parties of France and Germany acting simultaneously in the two Parliaments and by numerous popular manifestations in both countries about Morocco, by Austrian and Italian Socialists to prevent a conflict between the two nations, by the vigorous intervention of Swedish workmen to prevent an attack on Norway, by the noble efforts of the Russian and Polish Socialists to stop war and to make the Japanese war result in liberty for the people.

The motion ended with an appeal for arbitration and general disarmament.

This motion exactly expressed Jaurès' point of view. After the Congress a great meeting was held at the Tivoli-Vaux-Hall in Paris by the French Socialists, and Jaurès gave a report of the Congress, especially in relation to peace. He there explained why the motion had not expressly affirmed the general strike and the possible necessity of insurrection in case of war. This was due to the difficulties of the German comrades, who would undoubtedly have been proceeded against for such an open declaration of the intention to rebel. He declared that the substitution of an account of what had already been done by the Socialists in various countries was his own doing. It was not unusual for Jaurès to draft the resolutions to be passed at Socialist Conferences.

In France a storm of disapproval had followed the passing of these resolutions at the Stuttgart Congress, and the cry of the reactionaries was that of all Socialists the French were the most anti-patriotic. The Matin, for example, had written: "All the foreign Socialists are patriots. It is only the French who desert and detest their country." [16]"And," said Jaurès, evidently in good spirits that night among his friends at the Tivoli-Vaux-Hall, "and Le Radical, L'Aurore, and Les Débats made a chorus. Citizens, however used one may be to these things one feels a moment of surprise, and one asks: Can it be, by chance, that all of us representatives of this proletariat of France, which has always heroically saved the country when it has been deserted by the privileged and the bourgeois.… can it be that suddenly we have become traitors and have fallen into the trap of these horrible German Socialists, who, as you know, are playing the game of the Kaiser?

"Citizens, what reassured me was that at the moment when the bourgeois newspapers of France were talking like this of the French Socialists, I, who had remained in Germany for a few days after Stuttgart, and who read all the German newspapers, read in almost all of them that all the other Socialists were good patriots and that the only enemies of their country were the German Socialists.… And the North German Gazette, the official newspaper of the German Chancellery, wrote these lines, word for word: 'The Congress of Stuttgart was equivocal and confused. One thing only came out clearly and certainly: that the German Socialists are the least patriotic of all the Socialists in the whole world.'"

But it was in vain that Jaurès and his friends, then and later, denied the implication of anti-patriotism. The enemies of Socialism were determined to believe them to be traitors. On Jaurès more than on anyone else the curses rained down. That he was "the friend of Germany," that he "always found Germany in the right," were commonplaces. Although, for instance, Hervé had been defeated at Nancy by 304 votes to 41, and although Jaurès had over and over again made his divergence from Hervé abundantly clear, it was labour lost as far as his enemies were concerned. For, as he said at the Tivoli-Vaux-Hall, the argument ran "Hervé is a monster and as for me, I am the lieutenant of Hervé. The Radical-Socialists … are still in a sort of dependence on me.… Therefore to vote for these social reforms … would be to play the game of the Socialist-Radicals, who are playing Jaurès' game … and Jaurès is playing Hervé's game and Hervé is playing the game of the German Emperor."

From the 14th to the l8th of July, 1914, a Socialist Congress took place in France which was the cause of a fresh outburst of reviling. In the clerical Action Français Jaurès was called "a public enemy," "a traitor," his actions were "infamous," "treacherous," and as everyone knows, "M. Jaurès c'est L'Allemagne." The editor, Monsieur Charles Maurras, knew well what passions he was rousing.

It was not long before the madman came forward who translated into action the desire of these enemies of justice.

"Jaurès," says Rappoport, "made no reply." There was too much of greater moment to preoccupy him. His spirit, though profound, ardent, and passionate, was naturally gay and serene, but the hour had now come when even his brave heart was appalled at the approaching cloud which had begun to overspread Europe.

On the 28th July, 1914, he went with other comrades—Guesde, Vaillant, Sembat, Longuet—to Brussels to make a final effort by means of the International to save the cause of Peace. There in the Royal Circus of Brussels he made his last speech. He declared that the French Government wanted peace, and set himself to oppose the idea that France should allow herself to be dragged unwillingly into war because of secret treaties. "If appeal is made to secret treaties with Russia," he cried, "we shall appeal to public treaties with Humanity."

From the last article which he wrote we can gather the depth of his feeling: "When one sees the panic, the financial disasters, the sinister rumours that the mere thought of this war have unchained, one asks if even the maddest and most wicked of men are capable of bringing about such a crisis." The greatest danger of all, he feels, is in "the enervation which gains on everyone, the sudden impulses of fear, of prolonged anxiety.…" And then he made one more appeal to the sanity of the people.

Jaures spent his last day, July 31st, in an effort to influence the French Ministers to put such pressure on the Russian Government that war might by chance yet be averted.… Then came the end, and the unhappy people were left to plunge forward into the horrible darkness without their great leader. Not only France needed him, but all Europe, and his death remains one of the most cruel blows of this tragic time.

He has not been here to see the fearful new chapter of the world's history which began in August, 1914. One cannot help asking the futile questions: What would he have said? What would he have done? We cannot know, and each will perhaps answer the questions according to his own conception of Jaurès and possibly according to his own bias. Of one thing we may be sure. No wailing voice would have arisen from him. He would not have said: All is lost; we have lived in vain. However bitter his disappointment, whatever agony he had endured at the wreckage of so many of his hopes, we cannot doubt that his ardent, living spirit would have risen above the gloom and despair, and that, whatever had been his position during the war (and it is certain that his presence would have been of great service), after the war he would have set to work again with the same tireless energy as before. "An immense work of education lies before us": those were his words, and perhaps he would have realized that the work was greater than even he had thought. But with his clear conception of the slow evolution, yet certain progress, of mankind, it is impossible to believe that he would have despaired, all the more that he had long recognized that nationality was an old, very old instinct, and internationalism a new growth.

Martyr to his faith in Humanity, murdered because he was ahead, so far ahead, of his time, he stands an heroic figure, pointing out the way and drawing the noble and generous young generations of to-day and to-morrow towards Equality, and Liberty and Peace.

  1. L'Armée Nouvelle, p. 463.
  2. Jaurès' speech at the Tivoli-Vaux-Hall, Sept. 7, 1907
  3. Rappoport, p. 77
  4. Rappoport p. 76, Jaurès speech published in Vorwärts
  5. L'Armée Nouvelle, pp. 451-452
  6. L'Armée Nouvelle, p. 453.
  7. Rappoport, p. 80.
  8. L'Armée Nouvelle, p. 463.
  9. From a speech by Jaurès published in Vorwärts, 1905.
  10. Speech of Jaurès published in Vorwärts, 1905.
  11. Speeches of Jaurès published in Vorwärts, 1905.
  12. Speech of Jaurès in the Chamber of Deputies, December 19 and 20, 1911.
  13. Jaurès' speech at the Tivoli-Vaux-Hall, September 7, 1907
  14. 14.0 14.1 L'Armée Nouvelle, pp. 454, 456-459.
  15. L'Armée Nouvelle, pp 460-461
  16. Jaurès' speech at the Tivoli-Vaux-Hall, Sept. 7, 1907.