The New York Communist Why Political Democracy Must Go VI. foundation of the Socialist Party of Anna icI proved that Socialism had become acclimatiud. Born of Populism. Greenbackism, and Trade Unionism, it was grafted on to a Socialin tradition whose most important ancestor had been the teachings of Ferdinand Lasalle, imported into this country shortly after the Civil War. It was dominated by the. prevailingAmerican belief that the ballot controlled the State, and that the State could be conquered for the working class by the ballot.
At the beginning it was still revolutionary that to say, it aimed at the capture of political power.
AI hand it bad a native economic organization of the workers Lite American Federation of Labor already grown powerful. Instead of trying to are Ito a rival labor organization, it realized that this was impossible, and set out to capture for Sociale the organization already existing.
In all mpmts, therefore, the Socialist Party was apparently equipped to enter the political struggle with the capitalist class for power. And this it proweded to do at once, with results which justified its belief that at last the combination had been discovHed by which Socialism could be made attractive to American workmen.
The first national campaign that of 1900 tahulatod 87. 814 votes for the Socialist Party.
Debs, who wm very popular with the workers be cause of his activities in the American Railway Union, made a series of spectacular campaigns for the Presidency, culminating in 1912 with the countrvaide tour of the Red Special, when the Party rolled up almost a million votes. And this last campaign was carried on in the face of Roostvelts dramatic crusade for social justice, wherein the Progressive Party had incorporated many of the planks from the Socialist platform At the same time the Socialists in various parts of the country elected several members of State Legislatures, city alderman and administrative oficiala.
The most striking example of Socialist political success was in the City of Milwaukee, where Berger was elected Alderman atlarge. and finally Emil Seidel was elected Mayor, with a large proportion of the City Council composed of Socialists. For a time, indeed, Milwaukee was looked up to by American Socialists as a shining example of what Socialist political action could do just as, before the war, Germany dominated the International because of its powerful party organization and its millions of votu.
The real emergence of Socialism upon the arena of the political fight, however, did not occur until I910, when Victor Berger was elected Member of the House of Representatives for the Fifth Wisconsin District, and for the first time a representative of the Party of the working class took his seat in the Congress of the United States, the highest lawmaking body. He sat for two terms; and then, after a lapse of two years, Meyer London of New York succeeded him as Repracntative, to be followed again in 1918 by the reelection of Berger.
It is not necessary here to go into the recordcf Victor Berger as first Congressional Representative of the working class Party. His first not waste cast his vote for a substitute to the direct election of Senators. His maiden speech contained not one single reference either to the Socialist International or to the interest of the working class as such; it was a purely reformist criticism of the capitalist state. The most salient feature of his tenure of office was the introduction of mild social reform legislation, of which his Old Age Pension bill is characteristic. For example, the pension was to accrue only after the worker aixtieth year 4nd it is a well known fact that the average life of an Americun industrial worker is forty years. It was to be denied to anyone convicted of felony even such a felony as that of which Victor Berger now stands convicted by the capitalist courts. It was to be denied to anyone, no matter how old, who had an income of six dollars per Wei And finally, Ill unnaturalised aliens. which compose the vast msjority of the roost exploited section of the American working class, were barred.
Add to this Berger opposition to Woman Suffrage, on the ground thIt women were largely dom inated by religion, and would therefore strengthen the reactionary political forces; and later, his Idvocacy of Intervention in Mexico; and we have picture of a man in some respects less revolutionary thn the bourgeois Jefiersonian Liberals.
In full consciousness of the disparate Imiatio in which Victor Berger now finds int elf. and in full respect to his courage, do not wish to runquote Berger or misstate his position. shall therefore Quote extracts from his recent pamphlet, Open letter Addressed to His Colleagues in Coupes. in order that he may speak for himself. Innouoftbefonndmnfthlsdnlilflflyd By JohnRood Amer lea. Iii veal pridedlyielffl obedimcetohwgcveawhm donotlikethun. The American Socialists were opposed In our entry into the war, bui so were many Republicans and Dunnorals in and out of Congress. The American Socialists held to the wise counsel of George Washington, Thomas lcflemn. James Monroe Ind Abraham Lincoln (u keep out of European troubles. Thai is Ihe xenon why we demanded legislation dopriving any citizen a corporation of all profits from the Isle of war supplier for the American government. Many Republican and Democnu believed and said the name. Now Socialism u not Bolobevium. Socialism is the collective ownership of the means of social production and distribution while Bolshevllrn, I: i1 understand ii, is Communism combined with lyntu ism. The Communist: want to produce and consume in con:mOn. Socialism. however, wants to control only productive capital not all property. Socialist commonwealth will not do IwAy with the individual ownership of property.
but only with the individual ownership of Iociully neces lL y capital. Communism denim individual ownership of Ill prop The Bolshevisu discourqe parliamentary action. They prefer dlrl ct action and the dictator hip ol the proletariat. The Bolsl uvisll want in break entirely with the put and um anew. The Socialisu do uol believe that wruplete break is either pouible or desirable. ll we are to remain a politiuuy free people the inevitIbl: outcome mun be that ll. people uiuit take possession collectively of the wrinl means of production and distribution and use them for the nation as whole Ind that is called Socialism The measures that the 50ch will Lake mun clonely connect with the present intern and evolve from it. The Socialists believe that everything that is neeaaary for the life ol the nation for the enjoyment of everybody within the nation 4b: nation is Io own and manage. Everything that in necessary for the life and development of the Illlblhe state is own and manage. Everything that is niece nary for the life and development at the city the city is to own and manage. Everything lllll the individual can own and me bent the individual is to own and manage There will be plenly of enierpriseo left for the initiative of the individual.
This is nothing but State Capitalism in its most complete form. Mr. Hearst will cheerfully endorse it. In it there is not a word to indicate that the proletariat must control the State, and that it must, as Marx points out, break down the capitalist State apparatus and re build anew the entire machinery of government and of production. There is very little dillerence between this ideal and the industrial organization of Imperial Germany before the war.
Meyer London career in Congras began little better. In a speech supporting the Jones hill giving citizenship to the Porto Ricans, London threatened that if Congress denied the ballot to these people it would be placing in their hands the bomb of the revolutionist and the essassin knife. Immediately the House was in an uproar; the members sternly threatened that they would discipline the Socialist Congressman unless he withdrew his remarks, so Socialist Congressman Meyer London apologized and ate his words.
From that time on, outside of a few speeches concerning the housing situation in the District of Columbia and other minor matters of that sort, Congrmsman London remained silent. 0n the reclution declaring war on Germany, he voted nay. On the military appropriation, however, he did not vote.
Finally, the fearful pressure engendered by the war, and the savage patriotic persecution in the Congress beat down his half hearted resistance; so that in 1918 he was the Congressman selected to deliver an address of eulogy commemorating the third anniversary of Italy entrance into the war!
Taken to task by his comrades in New York for his chauvinistic utterances, Comrade London declared that although born foreigner, he had been made in America, and he would be true to his country; furthermore, he Idded that he wIs responsible to all his constituents and that these constituents were not only Socialists working men)
but all the people a his district. The disastrous records of Socialists elected to oflice are endless.
Mayor Seidel of Milwaukee appointed Iinny nonSociIlists to posts in the city administration, and when criticised. declared that he repieaénled all the pie not merely the Socialist Party. Mayor Elihu of Schenectady did the something; what taken to task for his unSoeialiItic behavior, the Mayor proudly resigned from the Socialist Party: but Mayor, md aftuwurd became one of the chief pro War Danocratic Congressmen.
Mayor Van Inui of Minneapolis, after election to ofico of In anti War program, joined Samuel Goinpera Alliance for Labor and Democracy, which was formed by the reactionarieo of the Amaican Fedaution of Labor to support the War; and when the Non Partisan league put up candidate in local election, Mayor Van Ia! made public speech in favor of this candidate, Ilthough candidate of his own Party was running. His last act hofioewutorafuutovnoalledI laglawpnoed by the City Council of Minneapolis sgoiim the Socialhu But after Ill it is not than examples of the film of Socialist oficial in ofice which forms the most damning demonstration of the failure of old Kyla Socialist political action. The War intensified and brought outthereal nature of political power and control. For example, in can where the Sociali in oflice actually tried to follow Socialist princi la.
capitalist action was swift and mercileII. In neapolis, for instance, Mayor Van leer having manifested a mild hospitality toward free spirit. the State government promptly took away police power and govemed the city through the State Council of National Defense, which was composed of the representatives of big husincn. Mayor HoIn, So cialist Mayor of Milwaukee, was completely divested of his power as a city executive by the business intenets of Wisconsin acting through the Governor and Council of National Defense. In Cleveland two Socialism were elected to the City Council; one was disbarred, because woman reported that twelve months before he had been heard to say IliIt he did not believe in the Red Cross Ind the other Councilman was expelled because he belonged to the some political Party as his colleague. Victor Berger ran for United States Senate in Wisconsin in the Spring of 1918. In order to prevent him from taking his seat, the business interests of his State and of the country at large secured his indictment in the Federal Courts, on charges much less grave than thou upon which many Socialists had already been acquitted. Berger then ran for the House of Representative. This was the signal for still further indictments. He was elected by an overwhelming vote and another indictmmt was clapped upon him: and after the armistice had been signed, Berger was tried and convicted, Ind Iaitenced to twenty years in jail.
At the height of the Socialist Party. cam, in 1912, more than nine hundred votes were cast for its Presidential candidate about one fifteenth the entire vote cast or Pren dent, und one stall a! the ballots cm! for Woodrow Wilson, the winning amdidalc. Roughly, the Democratic and Republican electorate was represented in Congress proportion ally to their Presidential vote; but the Progressives. tbe Party of the rebel small property owner!
was not represented in proportion to its vote; and the Socialists, with one fifteendi of all the ballots, got one Congressman, although on the face of it they were entitled to about thirty. Ihie, many Congressional Districts had no elections in 1912; but this dog not alter the asential truth of this statement. Europe the development of such political strength by any party would have immediawa showed in the legislative body; this is true even in Germany. in spite of restriction to the franchise. But in America it can be readily seen that, alfliough political democracy more or less accurately reflects the comparative Itrungth of the bourgeois penis, it operates to block the Idoquate representation of all closet: contending with the you capitalists for State comrol. hyisthisso? WhyisitthatinEuropetbe political Socialist moment was able to develop great strength in the legislative bodies, and exerciae an important influence on the Govunmaits?
This results from the fact that when in Ilse world is the capitalist clau so strongly organized and so firmly inrenched as in America. In from the first1 the capitalist clam controlled the State, and there was no other class in society except the working clIsa. In Europe the capitali class had to fight against the remnants of the feudsl clans. Almost up to the Great War, in some pans of Europe there was dual revolution going on: the capitalist: were strivin with the aid system to gain control of State, an the rising firs twin was also beginning to battle for power.
feudal class and capitalists used the working class against each other, and thus the Socialist: I»
cameuimponmtfmrbetweaitherwooonraiding clue factions. And thin, above all, thcapitalists were compelled to in two diluefiomuoncquidinthenmn tosiveoonee ioustotheworkingclaaajnmforinuid against the feudal luAnieflca, howeva, tbaewunofeudIlclIII to divert the capitalists from their er again. Ill working class. More months, the ballot an the American capitalist class to. blind the workmu withil luoionsof untiltheyliadps fdcdtheirholduponthethraduftharwulllic.
For th alut decadethohinor yoftbeAmcican Socialin Party has shown continuous unduly to draw away from the prolmriat. The pol I: y of boring from within in the American Felix lion oflaborruultedinthevirtuulupwreoftho Party, for od. by the Fadaltion which by that time hafbnauone o Mandy wage endow.