Studies in Socialism/Translator's Introduction

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The following essays were first published in a Socialist daily paper in Paris, and are therefore addressed to a public not only well versed in the main theories of Socialism, but in the various questions that have arisen since Socialist ideas have ceased to be merely theories and have become crystallised into party programmes. In America, however, we cannot take for granted, as M. Jaurès does, a familiarity with these ideas, and it has therefore seemed best to prefix to a translation of his essays a summary of the fundamental Socialist theories and of the various methods advocated.

Although Socialists differ upon many points, they all agree on the following main definition:

Socialism is the doctrine that the means of production (that is, capital, land, and raw materials, or in other words, all wealth which is used for the creation of more wealth) should not be owned by individuals, but by society.

In order to understand the process of thought by which Socialists have arrived at this formula, we may imagine an unprejudiced observer of a philosophic turn of mind who has set himself to consider the spectacle offered by modern societies, and to judge it according to two standards, the standard of abstract justice and the standard of social expediency.



The first thing that will strike such an observer is the extraordinary difference in the amount of material comfort enjoyed by different members of the same political group, a difference so great that the community may be almost said to represent two civilisations; and the next thing will probably be the difference in social standing, which practically divides the community into groups of masters and servants.

As he looks about him he sees some men beginning to work at sordid and unpleasant labour at seven o'clock in the morning and keeping on till six at night, and at the end of such a day going home to a two-room tenement; he sees that they and their wives and children are undernourished, that their clothing is insufficient, and that all the conditions of their lives are unsanitary and uncivilised.[1] And he sees some men whose work is far lighter and more agreeable, or who do not work at all, and yet whose lives are made up of every material satisfaction their imaginations can conceive. Although between these two extremes there exist an almost infinite number of degrees of wealth, statistics will tell him that in both England and America "nine tenths of all the realised property to-day belongs to a class that comprises only one tenth of the population—that ninety per cent, of the citizens, the great mass of the people, share among them, even including their little homes and furniture, and all their much-vaunted hoards, the ownership of not more than ten per cent, of the capital wealth."[2] It is for this upper tenth of the population that all the luxuries and most of the comforts of life are

manufactured. For them the best books are written, the best plays acted, the fastest steamers hurry across the seas, and all the discoveries of science are applied. It is they who live to the full, it is they who enjoy, who develop mentally and spiritually through their contact with the beauty and civilisation of their own and other worlds. They are the ones who can pay. But the other nine tenths are condemned not only to physical discomfort but, far more tragically, to a stunting even of their capacity for the higher forms of enjoyment. They cannot pay.

The philosopher will naturally try to discover the reason for this abyss which, in dividing the nation into owners and non-owners, divides it also into two civilisations. He may be tempted to accept the easy generalisation current in society which will run somewhat as follows:

"Wealth is in the first instance a reward of industry. It comes to a man as the natural result of the work he performs. If he is very industrious or very skilful and earns more wealth than he needs to satisfy his immediate wants, or if he is very thrifty and sacrifices some of his less pressing desires, he is able to accumulate wealth. This accumulation he will use to create more wealth, and he then becomes a capitalist. The capitalist, therefore, is either an exceptionally industrious, an exceptionally skilful, or an exceptionally abstemious man. In any case he is an exceptionally valuable member of the community, and deserves his exceptional rewards."

But a study of the facts will lead our enquirer to discover some weaknesses in this pleasantly simple solution. He will see that up to a certain point the theory holds good, but to a certain point only. It is true that the unskilled labourer, who gives work of least value to the community, receives the lowest wages, the skilled labourer next, the engineer next, and so on. But this comprehensible ascending scale is thrown out of all proportion by the appearance on the scene of the shop-keeping and trading class. The relation between services and rewards becomes confused: the rewards seem to mount up by some magical compound-interest process. Our neat little generalisation about industry and thrift takes on a singularly inadequate, not to say comic, appearance when applied to the manipulators of the stock-market or the railroad barons. And in the case of a large number of persons who perform no kind of work whatever (or who perform work that has nothing to do with the source of their wealth) and yet into whose hands a regular supply of wealth flows incessantly, the explanation breaks down altogether.

Another factor has entered in, and this factor is the private ownership of capital. It disturbs the relation between services and rewards; its action illustrates the law "unto him that hath shall be given" without regard to what he has done or is doing. Its effect is very similar to that of a moving sidewalk. Nine tenths of the human race walk on their own feet and go fast or slow according to the strength they have and the effort they put forth. These are the manual workers, artisans, and propertyless professional men, whose reward is indeed proportioned to their industry, skill, and thrift. But one tenth are able to jump on to the moving sidewalk, or are deposited there by the effort or favour of others; they get a share of wealth-producing wealth and are carried along by it. They may keep on walking or not just as they choose; if they do they will go a bit faster, if they stand still they will go forward just the same. Some of them may manage to jump on to the faster moving inner circles; these are the men who have manipulated their share of wealth-producing wealth with most success. And some men have never had to walk on the solid resisting earth at all. They cannot imagine what it would be like not to have the moving sidewalk to help them along. They may have neither skill nor ability, but their fathers had, and there they are.

So our philosopher can amend his original answer thus: "Wealth is a reward of industry and a reward of thrift, but much more than these, a reward for the possession of wealth."

He will recognise that industry and thrift alone are not enough to give a man a good place on the moving sidewalk. Another quality altogether, a quality which we in America have christened "smartness," takes a man from the ranks of the non-owners and makes him a member of the upper tenth. The smart man can make a shrewd bargain, he can foresee the fluctuations in the market, he knows a thousand ways of getting the better of his adversaries in the game known as business competition, he has a keen understanding of certain elementary truths about men and things, and is able to see a little further into the future than other people. Smartness, in the business sense, may be defined as the sum of those qualities that enable a man to get hold of a share of wealth-producing wealth, to enter the owning class.

"What is the point of this argument?" the defender of the status quo might ask; "so long as a man keeps the law, hasn't he a right to all the wealth he can get?"

But our philosopher is looking at the question from another point of view. He is interested in a larger justice than is involved in the mere obeying of existing laws: it is his business to examine those laws by the standards of abstract right and the advantage of the community as a whole.

Is the division of wealth just, then? Does it, in other words, go to the people who have earned it? If we are to answer "yes" to this question, we must be able to show that the mere fact of owning wealth contributes in some way to the growth of that wealth, because we have seen that it is the ability to become an owner of wealth, and no other sort of ability, that gives a man a place on the moving sidewalk.

But it is impossible to establish any causal connection between the ownership of capital and its wealth-producing quality. It may be owned by a single man, or by a group of men, by an idle woman living in Europe, or by a little child: the owner, as owner, is a negligible quantity. And if the "smart man" is not an organiser or manager as well as owner, he contributes nothing to the process of creating the yearly return. The people who make the sidewalk move are those who apply their industry to capital: they are the managers and foremen, the mechanics, artisans, and labourers, the farmers and hewers of wood and drawers of water, all the thousands of men whose hands and brains are used to mould and transform wealth into new shapes, to move it from the place where it is created to the place where it is needed, who gather in the fruits of the earth and who labour to make it yield its increase. In so far as the smart business man uses his brain to help on this great productive process or to facilitate the exchange of the product, he has earned a share of the common wealth. But as a mere owner he is outside the creative process.

It is clear, then, that our philosopher must answer "no" to the question whether the division of wealth is just. It certainly does not go in due proportion to the people who have created it. But is it perhaps distributed according to some principle of social expediency? He will ask himself whether it is well for the community that a premium should be given to the quality of smartness at the expense of the qualities of thrift and industry, a premium so great that its benefits accrue not only to the smart man himself but to his children and his children's children, who may have no socially valuable qualities whatever. Is it well for society that the trust organiser should have an income five hundred times as great as that of the college professor, that a good business head should get so much greater a return for its exertions than a fine scientific brain? And is it well that the son of a bank president should receive, as a reward for merely existing, a share of the common wealth two hundred times as great as that meted out to the civil engineer? Again the answer must inevitably be "no."



But this is not all. Not only are the material desires of the owners satisfied out of all proportion to the work they perform, but they also occupy a position of social superiority which practically divides society into groups of rulers and ruled.

The reason for this is to be found in the conditions under which wealth is created. The process is simple. To live a man must have not only the wealth that he consumes in food, lodging, and clothing to-day, but the means of creating a new supply of that same wealth to-morrow. His strength and skill are of no use to him unless he has the material on which to exercise them. But as that material is all in the hands of other men, he has to go to them to ask for the privilege of working in order to live. From that moment their power over him begins to be exercised. Though it is true that the owners of wealth need the labour of the non-owner in order to make their wealth yield its increase (or as the optimistic conservatives are so fond of putting it, "Capital and Labour are partners"), they do not need the labour as much as the labourer needs the wealth. For the labourer's position is essentially a hand-to-mouth one: he must have instant access to the material, while the owners can very well let it stand over for a while if it seems more to their advantage to do so. The most they can lose by delay is an expected addition to their wealth: he loses the necessities of life. From this superior position in the matter of the labour contract it results that the owners or their agents do actually control the conditions of life of the non-owner. They decide in the first place whether he shall work at all: if for any reason it seems more profitable for them that he should remain in idleness, they deny him access to the material he needs in order to work, and he has no choice but to wait their good pleasure.[3]

In the second place, they decree the kind and amount of labour he shall perform and the conditions under which he shall perform it: hours of work, sanitation, comfort, safety, are all controlled by the owners.

And in the third place, they decide how much of the product he shall have as a reward for his labour, and in so doing they practically determine the quality or quantity of food he can eat, the lodging he can inhabit, the clothes he can wear, the amusement he can indulge in, the degree of health and efficiency he shall enjoy—in a word they may be described as determining by their action the kind of person he is to become and (what is more extraordinary) the kind of people his wife and children shall become.

I do not need to explain that this extreme statement of the case only holds good for the lowest grades of labour of which there is a practically unlimited supply. As soon as the labourer acquires special skill his work has the added value that comes from a limitation in the supply, and the overwhelming advantage of capital is slightly counteracted. This accounts for the reasonable ascending scale of rewards for labour noticed at first. The despotic position of the owners is still more effectually diminished when many non-owners unite and make a single bargain, thus controlling the supply of labour artificially. Though the terms on which the non-owners are able to get access to the wealth of the owners are much more favourable when the former act as a unit, one has only to compare the conditions of life of, for example, the members of the United Mine Workers with those of the presidents of the coal-carrying railroads who employ them, in order to form some notion of the degree of equality in bargaining attained even under these most favourable conditions for the non-owners.[4]

After all the modifying factors have been taken into consideration, it remains generally true that wealth-producing wealth may give to its owners so great a power over the lives of those who must get at that wealth in order to live that it may fairly be described as tyrannical. Indeed so undoubted is this power that one of those who exercise it felt constrained to account for its existence by declaring, in words that instantly became famous, that in his opinion it was of divine origin; God in His infinite wisdom had chosen certain worthy men to administer the wealth of the country, and the inference was that any revolt against their authority was impious. If it is fair to judge any system by the statements that its warmest supporters make concerning it, the present system under which wealth is produced must stand condemned on the strength of the defence offered by that railroad president. According to the standard of justice and social expediency the process by which wealth is created is as imperfect as that by which it is divided.



It would be a mistake, however, to hold the individual owner responsible for social injustice. The tyranny of the owner is in most cases an impersonal tyranny, not deliberate or malevolent, but mechanical, indirect, and inevitable. He does what is called "investing his money," that is, he puts the wealth-producing wealth at his disposal into the hands of a group of other men, organisers, managers, and so on, who take upon themselves the care of making it yield a certain return. Self-interest and honesty combined make them see to it that he gets as large a return as possible: they are "looking after the interests of their stockholders," and with their eyes fixed on that side of the "labour-contract," they not unnaturally disregard the other. One sees constant examples of this during strikes, when the employees urge on the one hand that they are working ten hours a day for a bare "living wage," and the answer of the representative of the employers always is: "But as it is we only just make enough profit to pay our dividends, so any question of raising wages is absurd." The manager of an impersonal business concern may be a most just and tender-hearted man, but as an agent he has no choice but to ensure the profit of his employers before he can consider the "standard of life" of their employees. And the individual owner may be a just and tender-hearted man, but what can one shareholder in a great trust do to change the wages or conditions of work of the employees of the trust? Our vast organisation of industry has completely separated the owner from the producer. He may feel a sense of responsibility for the lives of those non-owners whose work brings him his yearly quota of comfort and pleasure, but he is as helplessly a part of the system as the poorest labourer.

It is the system and not the individual who profits by it that is the important factor in the situation, and it is therefore not so important to enquire whether the moral character of the individual can be reformed, as to discover whether the system can be so changed that it will become impossible for the natural egotism of man to bring about conditions so unjust to the majority and so inexpedient for society as a whole.

But it is precisely at this point that many men who consider themselves particularly unprejudiced and open-minded, stop thinking. They accomplish this feat by the timely application of a phrase ready-made to suit any emergency: "The struggle for life and the survival of the fittest."

"You approach this question from the wrong end altogether," such a man would say. "You talk about social justice and social expediency, but what we are dealing with are Laws of Nature, and Nature knows neither justice nor expediency. What she cares about is the production of types that shall be fit to survive, and her method is pitiless warfare. In the case of man, the struggle for survival is the social struggle. It may not be pretty, but it is necessary. You cannot change Nature: all you can do is to ameliorate conditions a little by prevailing upon the most successful individuals to render the lot of the least successful a little less unendurable, and even that is of doubtful benefit to society, which can only advance by the elimination of the 'least fit.'"

This is a seductive theory, but the knowledge of a little history and a little science candidly brought to bear upon it will soon reveal its superficial nature. Ever since the first group of savages found that it was safer for them to unite in the eternal fight against the animals and against other savages than to face the hostile world as individuals, there have been two sets of phenomena to be considered: those which have to do with man as an individual, and those which have to do with him as a member of a community. The "scientific" critic quoted above forgets that Nature is as much interested in the development of the community as in the development of the individual, and that the process of producing communities fit to survive has had a distinct reaction upon the primitive instincts of the individual.

The struggle for life can never be done away with, but it has manifested itself under so many different forms in the past that there is no reason to suppose its present form is the permanent one. Society has evolved from savagery to barbarism, from barbarism to feudalism, from feudalism to individualism, and with every change the relations of individuals to each other have been modified, the form of the struggle has altered, and the situation of those individuals who have not been successful is somewhat improved. The position of the modern industrial wage-earner is bad, but it is a step in advance of serfdom, as serfdom was a step in advance of slavery. And if we can judge society by the situation of its most unfortunate members as a chain is judged by its weakest link, we must acknowledge that society is moving in the direction of justice.

It is then perfectly legitimate to try to understand the essential characteristics of the present form in which the struggle for life is embodied and to compare it with a standard of abstract justice. In so doing we are merely putting ourselves in line with the evolutionary process: we are trying to foresee and, if possible, to help to bring about the new and juster form.



We may imagine that the philosopher with whom we began this enquiry has followed a line of reasoning somewhat like the preceding. He has seen that the creation of a new supply of wealth was due to the joint activities of thousands of individuals and not to the existence, inactive or otherwise, of a single individual who was called the owner of the original supply. Now if private ownership of capital is not a necessary factor in the production of new wealth, and if it is a necessary factor in the unjust distribution of that wealth, our philosopher will ask himself why the problem should not be solved by eliminating the individual owner from the scheme of production and distribution altogether, and by putting in his place society as a whole.

And when he has grasped this fact, that wealth is a social product, and that, being the product of society, it should be owned and administered by society for the benefit of all its members and not by individuals for their own benefit, he may call himself a Socialist.

Professor Menger of Vienna has given so clear a statement of the main Socialist theory, that I cannot do better than summarise it here:

"The Socialist, or Popular Labour, State," he says in substance, "rests on the fundamental notion that its primary object is identical with the primary object of each citizen, and this is, the preservation and development of the life of the individual and the propagation of the race. But in order that the State may be able to fulfil this object, it must control those natural riches which are necessary for the maintenance and development of the individual, instead of the rights over these being vested in a certain number of individuals, as is now the case. We must, however, distinguish between those riches which are not destroyed by use and those which are destroyed by use. The former, when controlled by individuals, bring about the present economic superiority of a class, with all the frightful results we know so well: the latter only concern the individual who uses and destroys them, and are not therefore matters of public concern."[5]

And Jaurès writes:

"The State must assure to every citizen with out exception the right to life by means of work: that is, the right to labour and to the full product of his labour. If it does this, it will satisfy the most exacting demands of human nature and fulfil its social duty. But it has only one method at its disposal. It must assure to every citizen a part ownership in the means of production, which will have become collective property."



But to make every citizen a part owner in the capital of the community is only the first step in the process of realising social justice. The next and most pressing question is: "How shall the yearly product of this socially owned capital be divided? How can the ends of justice be best attained?"

Many answers to this question have of course been proposed, but they may all be grouped into two main schools, the Socialist proper and the Communist. I quote Menger[6]:

"But if the essence of Socialism consists only in the fact that the most important control over wealth is exercised by groups of men more or less large, instead of by individuals, we shall see that this system does not necessarily involve equal division of wealth among the citizens. The wealth destined for the immediate satisfaction of desires may, even in the Socialist State, be divided unequally, according to the quality and quantity of work performed, the rank occupied by each in the State, and many other factors. The great differences which we now see will disappear of themselves, since they result from the private ownership of wealth whose utility is permanent. There will be just enough inequality to serve as a spur to effort and a reward for excellence.

"If, however, the principle of equality be added to the above idea of the Socialist system. Socialism becomes Communism. Under this system the amount of wealth given to each citizen is quite independent of the quantity and quality of the work he performs and of any difference in the rank he has attained."[7]

Some Communists hold that the only just principle is summed up in the saying: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." They show a faith in the altruistic possibilities of human nature that one is tempted to characterise as visionary. Perhaps the time may come when the average man will give his best work to the community without regard to the reward he is to receive for it, and will be contented when he sees other men, less able and perhaps less industrious than he, paid at the same rate. There are a few such devoted individuals now, and possibly in the dim future they will be numerous enough to make their mental processes serve as a basis for society. But for all purposes of practical reform, the Socialist principle, in the strict sense of the word, seems to be the only possible one.

The Socialists do not hope to distribute wealth equally among all the workers, or on the basis of the needs of the different individuals: they hold that this would be extremely inadvisable, at least without a long period of training under a system far more equitable than the present one. What they do hope to do is to distribute it in such a way that men will be rewarded as nearly as possible in proportion to the services they perform, and not, as is now the case, partly in proportion to the services they perform and partly in proportion to the lien on other men's work that they or their fathers have been able to establish through accumulations of capital.

The practical problem of how wealth is to be divided in proportion to the quantity and quality of the work performed is an extremely delicate and difficult one. The simplest solution seems to be that each individual should be required to give a fixed minimum of work to the community, and that he should be paid a minimum wage, large enough to guarantee a good average "standard of life." The exceptionally able or industrious man would contribute more work and would be paid in proportion, so that he would be able to provide himself with some of the luxuries of life. Or,if hours were taken as the basis instead of piecework, the exceptional man who wished to work longer than the minimum day required by the State would be allowed to do so and would be rewarded accordingly. This system solves the problem of distribution with quantity as the determining factor. The factor of quality is far more subtle and would seem to involve the existence of a judging body who should determine the grade to which any given individual belonged. The exceptional man would then be rewarded according to the grade of excellence he had attained, which would be a rough method of recognising merit.[8]

If we grant the unequal distribution of wealth, some hierarchical grouping of the workers seems almost inevitable. The two great difficulties to be faced would be the possible exaggeration of the differences in rewards given to the members of the different groups and the danger of a corrupt official class. We must not forget, however, that it is never capital but only salaries that are to be distributed, and that the means of corruption would therefore be limited. It has also been suggested that the economy of a co-operative State would allow so much leisure to its citizens as might result in a strict surveillance of politics and official methods by the average man.

Under the Socialist system the natural differences between man and man would bring their natural differences in comforts and pleasure, and the average man's mainspring of activity would still be in operation.

But at this point we should note the classic objection to Socialism. Men, it is said, work from two motives, first, in order to amass wealth for themselves, and, second, in order to hand on the fruits of their labour to their children. Socialism would do away with both these motives, and the inference is that men would no longer work.

The error that underlies this criticism is that it is based on an observation of the mental processes of the owning class only. We have seen that the distribution of wealth under our present régime is such that the vast mass of workers never have the faintest hope of accumulating any wealth for themselves, while the idea of leaving anything whatever to their children would seem to them fantastic in the extreme. On the contrary, they count on their children to keep them out of the poorhouse when they are too old to support themselves.

It is, nevertheless, true that under our capitalistic system these two motives are very generally active with the wealthy minority. It has seemed to me, however, that the first motive, the desire to accumulate a fortune for oneself, is more subtle in character than the individualists would have us believe. After the first necessities and comforts have been obtained, what most men really want to get out of life is success. But in almost all cases, success is vulgarly measured in terms of wealth, and so men seek wealth. But in the army and navy, in art, science, and literature, and in the English civil service and English political life, success is measured by the grade attained, by various rewards and decorations, by fame or authority over others, things that often bring no corresponding increase of wealth but that are as ardently pursued as wealth itself. They are the measure of success, and, as such, infinitely desirable.

As for the wish men have to leave a fortune to their children, this too may be attributed to two causes. In the first place, they want to know that their children will never lack the necessities and even the comforts to which they have been accustomed. If they are "self-made" men, they understand too well the difficult and precarious existence of those who have to face life with no resource but their own skill and labour: they wish to make certain that their children have the inestimably precious aid of a certain accumulation of wealth-producing wealth. But under the Socialist régime, where the "right to life" implies suitable work for all and a just and ample reward for that work, with, of course, proper care for those who are physically unable to support themselves, this natural anxiety on the part of parents would be removed. Every child would have a fair start in life, and no child would have the undue advantage that comes to those who, through no virtue of their own, find themselves in possession of a legal right to share in the product of the labour of others. For this is the true meaning of inheritance: the father leaves his son a lien on the labour of other men which he himself has obtained by clever management, special ability, or even by a stroke of luck, the rise or fall of the market, or the mere possession of a piece of land whose value has increased.

The second reason why men desire to leave a large fortune is the same as that which makes them selfishly desire to amass it: because it is one of the ways of gaining distinction. They imagine a newspaper article: "So-and-So died leaving a property of such and such value," or, in our significant phrase, "he was worth such and such a sum." But if this particular scale of personal importance were done away with altogether, men would turn their attention to some other means of exalting their own individuality, and would forget that the publication of his will was ever the means of bringing to a man a pathetically brief post-mortem distinction.

No, the average man does not work with the idea of "making a fortune," or of "leaving a fortune." He works first, because he must work in order to live, and, second, because he wishes to add to the present comfort of himself, his wife, and his children, and perhaps to "lay by something against a rainy day." The last motive would not hold good in a Socialist State, but the other two seem a too essential part of the psychology of "the man in the street" to be disregarded. Some scale in material rewards there must be, in order to mark degrees of excellence and add somewhat to the comforts of the especially industrious or especially able man. But the difference between the average man and the exceptional man should be only just enough to spur on the latter to give his best work. And since the Socialist State is founded on the principles of justice and expediency, the community would see to it that the exceptional man did not obtain his higher reward until the return for every man's labour was large enough to guarantee him a life worthy of a man and a citizen, a life lived under conditions making for health, civilisation, and the improvement of the race.



There is also a division of opinion among Socialists as to the administrative organisation which is to manage the collectively-owned wealth. Some believe that the ownership of the means of production should be vested in the nation and administered by a trained bureaucracy; others have the ideal of a less centralised politico-economic system, under which the commune or township would be the principal owner and employer of labour; others imagine associations of producers, each group owning and controlling the plant at which it works itself; while still others think that the future society will be a combination of all these forms, some property being vested in the nation, some in local government bodies, and some in the organised trades.[9]

It is interesting, and it may even be profitable, to attempt to foresee the exact form that the juster social organism will assume. It tends to clear up the ideas of Socialists themselves and may possibly serve as a stimulus to the imagination of those who dismiss the subject by saying: "Oh, yes, all very well in theory, but I can't imagine how you can put all that into practice." But such discussions have, after all, an interest which is chiefly academic: they cannot become of practical moment for many years.



There is, however, a pressing practical question that touches Socialists very closely and divides them very bitterly: this is the problem of what steps "militant" Socialists should take to bring about the establishment of Socialism. As Jaurès is continually touching upon this problem in the following essays, and as he presupposes a certain familiarity with it on the part of his readers, it may perhaps be well to give a preliminary sketch here.

Upon the question of Method, as it is called, European Socialists are separated into two schools: the one, followers of the great militant, Karl Marx, are called Revolutionists, Marxists, or Orthodox; the other. Opportunists, Reformists, Revisionists, Fabians.

The Revolutionary Socialists do not necessarily believe in the use of force to obtain their ends. Indeed, as Jaurès points out, the partisans of the General Strike are the only ones who hope to win by other than legal political methods. But what they do believe in is the possibility of establishing the Socialist system in its entirety, after they shall have obtained political power. They depend upon the "class-warfare" that undoubtedly exists, to bring about a revolution, possibly peaceful in character, which will have for its object the abolition of private property in the means of production and the substitution of social property in its place. Their method of action, then, is to rouse the non-owners to a sense of their position, and to teach them to look forward to the day when they shall be strong enough to bring about this radical change.

This belief in the "revolutionary" method has two practical results. In the first place, it makes those who hold it indifferent to any less sweeping social reforms: they are working for complete political power and a complete social reconstruction. In the second place, the necessary stress laid upon the antagonism of classes makes them especially unwilling to enter into political alliance with other parties, who represent the owning class, even if such alliance would result in the gain of certain concrete advantages for the non-owners.

The Reformists, on the other hand, think that the coming change is too complex to be instituted as a whole. Their ultimate ideal is the collective ownership of capital, but they believe that they can best reach that ideal by introducing reforms gradually as the strength of their party and economic conditions admit, instead of hoping to apply a cast-iron dogmatic system as a unit. The details are too complicated, the new factors that may have to be considered in the field of industrial invention alone are too diverse for any cut and dried revolutionary action to meet with success. The general principle on which the Reformists must act is clear enough to them: it guides them in the practical solution of each problem as it presents itself. And by the light of this principle they have formulated in every country party programmes which, according to their Fabian method, will be gradually adopted by the various legislatures.

These Socialist programmes demand as a rule the same general reforms: a legal limitation of the working day, a legal minimum wage, compulsory insurance against illness, accidents, and non-employment, old age pensions, compulsory arbitration on the New Zealand pattern, drastic amendment of factory legislation, especially with the object of abolishing child-labour, the substitution of an income-tax or land-tax for all indirect taxation, and, most important perhaps of all, the gradual extension of the domain of public services (national and municipal), beginning with railways, mines, and other "natural monopolies." Socialists are also advocates of at least partial disarmament and of the extension of international arbitration, and most of the party programmes contain statements to that effect.[10]

It must not be supposed that the orthodox Marxists refuse to endorse the party programme. But whereas the Revolutionists consider legislative reforms as of secondary importance and some extremists even look at them askance as tending to weaken the antagonism between the classes, which they believe to be the essential revolutionary force, the Revisionists regard such reforms as necessary steps toward the establishment of complete Collectivism. They hold, moreover, that every reform is not only a positive gain on the side of justice, a positive advance toward their goal, but also a valuable means of educating the public mind and preparing the way for the next step.

The very great importance attached to legislative action by Reformists leads naturally to their adopting a different attitude toward practical politics. They wish to bring about certain definite reforms, and being always in a minority they must, in order to accomplish anything, enter into alliance with other parties that are willing to carry out at least part of their programme. It is over this question of alliance that the battle within the party has raged. How close shall it be? Shall it be purely temporary, or of indefinite duration? And shall a Socialist ever be permitted to hold office in a non-Socialist ministry? These are the practical questions that agitate European Socialists in all countries.



In France the question of method has been complicated by the political situation. French Reformists have been led into a particularly close union with the other Republican groups, not only because by these tactics they can further the adoption of social reforms, but also because the political situation has demanded such an alliance.

To a French political thinker of the type of Jaurès the social and political problems are closely united. He sees but two great parties, the party of the Revolution and the party of the Counter-Revolution. The Revolution, according to this special use of the word, is not a sudden upheaval that took place a hundred years ago, or is to take place a hundred years hence, but a process of development, begun by those who claimed political rights for all citizens in 1789 and continued by those who have claimed social and economic rights for them ever since. Extreme Marxists like Guesde and Vaillant do not have this sense of the unity and continuity of the liberal movement. To them a moderate liberal Republican is a natural enemy and the tool of capitalism: to Jaurès he is a natural ally and in a sense the tool of Socialism, because in giving his best effort to maintain republican institutions he is strengthening the foundation without which Socialism must remain a purely Utopian ideal.

How continuous and vigilant this effort of the Republicans has to be, we in America can scarcely imagine. We see that the present French Government is liberal and even radical in tendency, and is supported by a majority in Parliament and in the country, and we do not realise that the opposition that confronts it, and that tries by every possible means to win over the public, is not an opposition in the parliamentary sense of the word, but a revolting, a seceding fraction of the community, whose aim is to overthrow the whole republican régime, re-establish monarchy, and undo the work of the Revolution.

Under these circumstances, it was natural for Reformist Socialists and other Republicans to unite in their fight against the common enemy. The Revolutionists maintain, however, that the union has been too close, that Jaurès and his friends have risked merging the party with the other groups of the Left and have lost sight of their essentially Socialistic aims. The situation reached its climax in 1899 with the entrance of the Reformist Millerand into the Waldeck-Rousseau coalition Cabinet. The "Affaire Millerand " is particularly interesting, as it has served as a text for endless arguments on both sides, and was one of the principal issues between the two wings of the French Socialist party.

Millerand took office as Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1899, at a time when many serious men thought that the existence of the Republic was in danger. When in office he three times voted against the Socialist party, and as Minister was obliged to receive the Czar, the typical representative of autocracy, when he came to Paris. These acts, the Revolutionists maintained, fully proved their contention that any alliance between Socialists and Bourgeois could only tend to weaken the position of the former; and they wished to expel Millerand from the party. The Reformists, while formally censuring him for his anti-Socialist votes, pointed with satisfaction to the practical reforms he instituted while in office, and argued that so much positive gain justified their theory that alliance was a valuable and necessary method of obtaining their ends.[11]

At the time these essays were written the Socialists in France were divided into several parties, representing the extremes of theory and action, and many of Jaurès's arguments are addressed more to his Socialist than to his non-Socialist opponents. Since then, however, a variety of reasons have made it possible for all factions to reunite in a single organisation. The International Congress at Amsterdam in 1904 devoted most of its time to a discussion of the question of method and ended by passing a resolution that proclaimed the principle of class-warfare in the dogmatic Marxist manner, and was in effect a censure of the French leader. Jaurès made an eloquent and spirited defence of his policy: he declared that he was willing to make any reasonable concession in the interest of party unity, but maintained that his tactics were the only practical ones. The Congress expressed a wish that the various French parties would reunite, and accordingly a joint-committee met during the winter to formulate a compromise agreement. In the meantime political conditions changed. The Combes

ministry, that had been supported by Jaurès, fell, and the new ministry drew its support from the more moderate parties. This left the Socialists free to withdraw from the group of Parliamentary Republicans. In April, 1905, the new Socialist party organisation was completed.

These events seem at first sight like a step backward, but we cannot help being convinced that the triumph of the uncompromising element is only apparent. The fighting strength of the party is undoubtedly increased by union, and Jaurès is too wise a politician not to know when a partial surrender will lead to final victory. His belief in the Reformist method is of course unshaken, but he is willing to wait and be politic, knowing that in the end his adversaries will be forced by the pressure of events to follow his plan of action. He towers above them, secure in his larger vision of history and conscious of the great part he has yet to play in the politics of his country and of the world.



Jaurès is probably the most conspicuous and at the same time the strongest personality in French political life at present. He is continually before the public; his activity and versatility seem unlimited. His personal organ, L'Humanité contains almost daily articles signed by him, and represents his policy in every department of life: in its advanced interpretation of social legislation and social conditions in general, in its pacific attitude toward foreign affairs, even in its criticism of literature, art, and the stage. Jaurès is an intellectuel. He graduated at the head of his class at the École Normale Supérieure, and has been twice Professor of Philosophy at Toulouse. During an interval of four years in his parliamentary career he wrote a history of the French Revolution that is said by some authorities to be based on a more careful study of original documents than any other history of the period. But it is as a political leader and orator that he is best known and most successful. He attends political meetings all over the country and wherever he goes he communicates some of his indomitable enthusiasm and splendid energy to his hearers. In the Chamber of Deputies he makes an incredible number of fiery and eloquent speeches, hardly ever letting an important debate pass without taking an active and usually a dramatic part, and never failing to secure breathless attention from friends and adversaries alike. He is equally at home denouncing the reactionary element and exalting the work of "Republican Solidarity," pleading the cause of sanity and justice in international afifairs and upholding the specifically Socialistic claims. A cool Anglo-Saxon might find him too excitable and emotional, might even point to instances where he seems to have allowed his eloquence to run away with his judgment, but the most unfriendly critic must grant his ability, energy, and sincerity.

The important part played by Socialism in European politics and by Jaurès, as one of the most prominent European Socialists, seems a sufiScient excuse for the translation of these studies into English. They represent the man and the movement in the vivid and intimate setting of the daily newspaper, and their very incompleteness and informality give them a certain value as first- hand historical documents. They do not try to explain modern French Socialism to outsiders; they are a little piece of modern French Socialism, and as such I hope that Americans, whether or no they have Socialistic sympathies, will find them not without interest.

I have omitted from the original volume two short articles on French politics and rural conditions, parts of the essay the "Question of Method," and a number of essays dealing with the French law regulating property and inheritance, extremely interesting in themselves, but not applicable to countries where the Napoleonic Code is not in force. In their place I have added, as examples of quite another style, an article taken from L'Action Socialiste, and the speech delivered on the occasion of the visit of the Eng- lish parliamentary delegates to Paris; also an article published in La Petite République, but not, so far as I know, reprinted elsewhere. The order in which the essays appear has also been slightly altered. For all these changes I have M. Jaurès's personal authorisation.


Paris, December, 1905

  1. was very common. The girls and boys followed in the paths of their parents. The wages were so low that the men alone often could not support their families, and mothers with babies toiled in order to add to the income. They gave up all thought of joyful living, probably in the hope that by tremendous exertion they could overcome their poverty; but they gained while at work only enough to keep their bodies alive. Theirs was a sort of treadmill existence, with no prospect of anything else in life but more treadmill.… There are probably in fairly prosperous years no less than ten million persons in poverty; that is to say, underfed, underclothed, and poorly housed.… Nearly half of the families in the country are property less." — Robert Hunter, Poverty, pp. 324, 325, and 337.

  2. "In this community, the saddest in which I have ever lived, fully fifty thousand men, women, and children were all the time in poverty, or on the verge of poverty. It would not be possible to describe how they worked and starved and ached to rise out of it. They broke their health down; the men acquired in this particular trade a painful and disabling rheumatism, and consumption
  3. See Introduction to 1902 edition of Problems of Modern Industry, by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, p. viii.
  4. Robert Hunter states that in America over two million working men are unemployed from four to six months in the year. "If what Charles Booth says is true (and many economists agree with him), that our 'modern system of industry will not work without some unemployed margin, some reserve of labour'; if it is necessary, as another economist has said, that for long periods of time large stagnant pools of adult effective labour power must lie rotting in the bodies of their owners, unable to become productive of any form of wealth because they cannot get access to the material of production; and if, at the same time, facing them in equal idleness are unemployed or under-employed masses of land and capital, mills, mines, etc., which, taken in conjunction with the labour power, are theoretically able to produce wealth for the satisfaction of human wants, if these things are essential to our modern system of production, then the poverty of this large mass of workers must continue unrelieved until the system itself is reorganised."—Hunter, Poverty, pp. 330, 331, and 337.
  5. For a full discussion of this subject see Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Industrial Democracy, Part III., Chapters ii. and iii., or The Case for the Factory Acts, edited by Mrs. Sidney Webb.
  6. Menger, L'État Socialiste, pp. 31-36 (translated into French by Charles Andler).
  7. L'État Socialiste, p. 35.
  8. It should, however, be noted that the word Communism is often used as synonymous with Socialism. Jaurès does not make any distinction, and Marx and Engels called their famous tract The Communist Manifesto, though they did not believe in the equal division of the product among all workers.
  9. For a full discussion of the question of distribution, see Menger, L'État Socialiste, Book II., chapters vii. and viii.; Kelly, Government or Human Evolution, vol. ii., pp. 298-303, 331-336; Vandervelde, Le Collectivisme, Part II., chapter iv.
  10. For a careful attempt to study this question from the legal standpoint, see Professor Monger's L'État Socialiste. Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb have sketched their idea of the probable organisation of the Democratic State of the future in the last chapter of Industrial Democracy. A more popular form of forecast is that presented by the Fabian Essays on Socialism. Mr. Edmond Kelly, in the second volume of Government or Human Evolution, gives in some detail another possible solution, which he calls Quasi-Collectivism. Under this system the State will manufacture the necessities of life, and require every citizen to work for it four hours a day. During the remainder of the day each man will be free to engage in any occupation he chooses: artists will devote themselves to their art with minds freed from anxiety, and energetic business men will create supplementary industries on the competitive plan. Since a decent livelihood is assured to every man by his State labour, the unjust advantage that purely capitalistic production gives to the owner is done away with.
  11. The programmes of the principal European Socialist parties are to be found in Modern Socialism edited by R. C. K. Eusor (Harpers). I quote the following from the platform adopted by the Socialist Party of the United States of America at Chicago in May, 1904:

    "To the end that the workers may seize every possible advantage that may strengthen them to gain complete control of the powers of government, and thereby the sooner establish the co-operative commonwealth, the Socialist Party pledges itself to watch and work in both the economic and the political struggle for each successive immediate interest of the working class ; for shortened days of labour and increase of wages ; for the insurance of the workers against accident, sickness, and lack of employment; for pensions for aged and exhausted workers; for the public ownership of the means of transportation, communication, and exchange; for the graduated taxation of incomes, inheritances, and of franchise and land values, the proceeds to be applied to public employment and bettering the condition of the workers; for the equal suffrage of men and women; for the prevention of the use of the military against labour in the settlement of strikes; for the free administration of justice; for popular government, including initiative, referendum, proportional representation, and the recall of officers by their constituents; and for every gain or advantage for the workers that may be wrested from the capitalist system, and that may relieve the suffering and strengthen the hands of labour. We lay upon every man elected to any executive or legislative office the first duty of striving to procure whatever is for the workers' most immediate interest, and for whatever will lessen the economic and political powers of the capitalist, and increase the like powers of the worker."

  12. See the report of the Bordeaux Congress published by the Société Nouvelle, Paris, 1904. For a German reformist's estimate of the case, see Von Vollmar's address delivered in Dresden in February, 1901, and translated by R. C. K. Ensor in Modern Socialism. Millerand formulated and succeeded in getting passed a law limiting to ten hours the working day in factories where men, women, and children were employed, and in the departments under his immediate control as Minister he instituted the eight-hour day. He also established certain minimum conditions for all labour on contracts for national public works. His special effort, however, was given to the encouragement and recognition of organised labour. He created Labour Councils, the members of which are elected by organised workers and organised employers. These councils form permament boards of arbitration and conciliation, which may be consulted by private concerns, and must be consulted by the State, and they fix the standard rate of wages and hours for every district, and this standard is at once applicable to State contracts. They also make annual reports on the conditions of labour, causes of unemployment, enforcement of the law, etc. Millerand also introduced, but did not succeed in getting passed, a bill to regulate industrial disputes, a moderate adaptation of compulsory arbitration on the New Zealand model.