Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/321

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305
SOCIALISM

planned a series of measures for the insurance of workmen against sickness, accidents and old age, measures duly carried out in 1883, 1884 and 1891, respectively. The socialists not unreasonably regarded the government as their convert. They could point to two other “unwilling witnesses,” the Christian Socialists and the “Socialists of the Chair.”

In the Protestant parts of Germany the socialists as a rule were social democrats, in the Catholic as a rule they were Christian Socialists. As early as 1863 and 1864 Dr Bellinger and Bishop Ketteler, followed by Canon Moufang, had represented socialistic sentiment and doctrine. Ketteler, who had been under the influence of Lassalle, had hopes that the church would make productive associations her special care. Moufang would have depended more on the state than on the church. All were awake to the evils of the workmen's position as described by the social democrats, and they were anxious that the Catholic church should not leave the cure of the evils to be effected without her assistance. Ketteler died in 1877; and the pope's encyclical of the 28th of December 1878 bore no trace of his influence, mixing up as it did socialists, nihilists and communists in one common condemnation. The encyclical De conditione opificum of 1891 might show that the views of the Christian Socialists had penetrated to headquarters; but the encyclical on Christian Democracy of 1901 (January) betrays no sympathy with them. The Protestant church in Germany has been hampered by fear of offending the government; but it contains a vigorous if tiny body of Christian Socialists. Rudolf Todt, a country pastor, was their prophet. His book on Radical German Socialism and Christian Society (1878) led Dr Stöcker, the court chaplain, to found an association for “Social Reform on Christian Principles.” This was denounced rather unfairly by politicians of all ranks as an organized hypocrisy. Its influence was shortlived, and its successor, the “Social Monarchical Union” (1890), shared the unpopularity of Stöcker, its founder. Even the Socialists of the Chair, middle class Protestants as they were, would have nothing to say to it, but preferred to go a way of their own.

From the year 1858 there had existed a league of economists and statesmen called the “economic congress” (Volkswirtschaftlicher Kongress), a kind of English Cobden Club, though it aimed chiefly at free trade among all sections of the German people in particular. After the Empire its work seemed finished; and a new society was formed, the “Union for a Policy of Social Reform” (Verein für Socialpolitik). Professors G. Schmoller, W. Roscher, B. Hildebrand, A. Wagner, L. J. Brentano, the statistician E. Engel and others met at Halle in June 1872, and a meeting of their supporters followed at Eisenach in October of that year. These Katheder-Socialisten or Socialists of the Chair (academic socialists) agreed with the social democrats in recognizing the existence of a “social question,” the problem how to make the labourers' condition better. To the old-fashioned economist this was no problem for the legislature; competition solved its own problems. But, while the social democrats looked for social revolution, the academic socialists were content to work for social reform, to be furthered by the state. The state was, to them, “a great moral institution for the education of the race.” They were a company of moderate state socialists, relying on the state and the state as it then was. They did much gratuitous service to the government in the preliminary investigations preceding the great insurance laws.

The German people were made a little more inclined to state socialism than before by the efficiency displayed by the bureaucracy in the wars of 1866 and 1870. If the Insurance Laws are found to work well, this inclination may be confirmed, and the idea of a revolution may fall into the background. The attitude of the social democratic party became less uncompromising than in earlier days. Since they regained their liberty in 1890, their leaders have kept them well in hand. Their principal journal Vorwärts was conducted with great ability. Their agitation became as peaceful as that of trade unionists or co-operators in England. They ceased to denounce the churches. They tried to gain sympathy, quite fairly, by taking up the cause of any distressed workers, or even ill-used natives in colonies, and urging redress from the state. The present state had become to them almost unconsciously their own state, a means of removing evils and not a mere evil to be removed. The anarchists had been disowned as early as 1880. The extreme socialists who demanded return to the old tactics were cast out at Erfurt in 1891, and became “Independent Socialists.”

The controversy between friends and critics of socialism still rages in learned circles, producing a prodigious quantity of literature year by year; but the old strictures of Treitschke and Schäffle seem now to have lost a little of their point. Though the programme adopted at Gotha in 1875 was not entirely or even seriously altered, the parts of it due to Lassalle fell into the background. For many years Marx and not Lassalle was the great authority of the party. Marx died in 1883, but remained an oracle till 1894, when (just before his own death in 1895) Engels published the last volume of his friend's book on capital. The volume was expected to solve certain logical difficulties in the system. Instead of this, it caused a feeling of disappointment, even among true believers. Many, like Bebel and Kautsky, kept up the old adoration of Marx; but many, like Eduard Bernstein, rightly felt that to give up Marx is not to give up socialism, any more than to give up Genesis is to give up theology. Bernstein openly proposed in congress that the old doctrines and policy of the party, involving as they do the despair of reform and insistence on the need of revolution, should be dropped. He had not carried his point in 1908, but his influence seemed to be increasing. The death of Liebknecht (August 1900) removed from the ranks of the social democrats one of their most heroic figures, but also one of the strongest opponents of such a change of front. Yet Liebknecht himself had made concessions. It was impossible for a man of his shrewdness to close his eyes to what the state had done for the German workman. It was impossible, too, to ignore the progress that Germany had made in wealth and industry since the creation of the Empire in 1871. Germany has been fast becoming a manufacturing country; and, though the growth of large manufacturing towns in the Rhine valley and elsewhere has multiplied socialists, it has added to the income of the German workman. He is further from poverty and distress; and his socialism means an endeavour after a larger life, not, as formerly, a mere struggle against starvation. It is likely, therefore, to have less and less of mere blindness and violence in it.

The German socialists were chiefly interested in securing such an extension of the franchise in Prussia as would make their representation in the Prussian parliament correspond as near to the number of their adherents as in the Reichstag itself. They had only gained seven seats in the former in June 1908, though they had perhaps half a million of adherents in Prussia. They seemed for good or for evil to be taking the place of the old radical party. The position in Austria was somewhat different. The first general elections held under a really democratic suffrage (May 1907) resulted in the return of eighty social democrats and sixty Christian socialists to the Reichsrath, as compared with eleven and twenty-six in the unreformed parliament. They were opposed (as anti-clerical and clerical) on many questions, but they made it certain that economic and industrial policy affecting the whole nation would rival and perhaps out-rival the questions of racial supremacy and haute politique that absorbed the attention of the old Reichsrath.

France.—In France the socialists have found it harder to work in the parliamentary harness. Marx had said long ago that for the success of socialism besides English help there must be “the crowing of the Gallic cock.” French enthusiasm for social revolution is feeble in the country districts but very strongly pronounced in the large towns. The Communards of 1871 might be called municipal socialists of a sort, but their light went out in that année terrible. Something like a movement towards organized socialism began in 1880 on the return of some prominent members of the old commune from exile. A congress was held at Havre under the leadership of J. Guesde and J. A. Ferroul; it adopted a “Collectivist” programme, Collectivisme meaning state socialism. A minority under J. F. E. Brousse and J. F. A.