44 THE WORKERS COUNCIL May 1, 1921 May 1, 1921 THE WORKERS COUNCIL 45 Democracy Re Analyzed By SAMUEL SCHMALHAUSEN The French revolution set men hearts on fire classes of the whole world have become utterly diswith a passion for political emancipation emanci illusioned as to the value of the political means.
pation from the tyranny of the absolute state. The Political parties, representing the major business industrial revolution was only in its infancy. Men interests, have squandered the energies of the toilwere possessed of an almost fanatic faith in the ers in futile and ofttimas deceitful contests for the possibilities of progress, based upon the individual distraction and amusement of the too simpleright to do as they pleased, unhampered by state minded commo: folk. The whole vast creaking control. The prejudiced and restrictive state was system of so called representative governígent has the real enemy, the stepmother of favoritism and been a inoi. ntainous obstacle in the way of proletarmonopoly. To love freedom was equivalent to hatian progress. Only now, after more than a century ing the state. The French revolution fulfilled what of intense political activity, has the very simple and might be called a negative function. It modified the elei entary right to the vote been granted to workcomplexion of the political state.
ing class men and women. If an ingenious conThe American revolution, though grounded like triver of ingenious mechanisms had deliberately set the French in economic causes, was also a political out to invent a system of checks and balances, emancipation, release from the yoke of absolutism, whereby every popular impulse in behalf of social freedom for the individual to do as he pleased, un progress was doonied to impotence, he would have fettered by state interference. The meddlesome contrived precisely the parliamer, tary system of state was the real enemy. The French and Amer circuitous representation.
ican revolutions were successful protests against What more fruitful consequences would have enpolitical sovereignty run mad. The American sued had the French and American revolutions revolution, too, fulfilled a negative function. It been guided along more direct economic lines shifted the seat of political authority. It modified (rather than along political. no man can know. So the complexion of the political state.
much, however, it is permitted us to assert with The industrial revolution developed too slowly some degree of assurance. It has taken the world and unevenly to afford any stimulating hope of the of labor one hundred and fifty years of fearfully excreation of a new type of sovereignty that would pensive effort at political emancipation finally to ultimately come to rival the purely political control. realize the large futility of that method. Only The landlords and the newly awakened business latterly has this same world of labor awakened to class had already gained the ascendancy in affairs the portentous fact that mass action, direct tactics, industrial so that the mixed mass of underlings who industrial conflict, are the only profoundly fruitful driven into wage serfdom were scarcely means of achieving self direction and self governequipped to do anything drastic about it. Their ment (in an industrialized universe. Suppose that hopes turned inevitably to the political means as this insight into the deeper nature of social progthe method most likely to yield success. Not pre ress had guided the tactics of labor since the days pared to wage war successfully by frontal attack of the revolutions? Can any one doubt how benetliey did the next best thing and strove to amelio ficent such tactics would have been?
rate their hard status by flank movements. The war However, men were doomed to self delusion. In of the classes was fought out on the political field, England, the long, dumbly inspiring tradition of the strategic objective being the control of the new political freedom (since the days of the Magna Charta) was so deeply impressed upon the hopes The control of the new state by the landlords and of common men that they simply knew not how to the rich business men afforded the capitalists those pierce the seven veils of illusion. On the surface, very opportunities to do as they pleased (unmo freedom looked like a political accomplishment.
lested by feudal restrictions. which they had re Thus we find that the Chartist movement, though volted to achieve. By making the state their own, inevitably bound up with economic implications, they attained to a freedom of action undreamed of was objectively a political protest. The false and theretofore. Though assisted in their revolutions alluring psychology of the (political) equality of by the straggling proletariat, they speedily availed all men before the law hypnotized common men themselves of the great success to thwart the aspi into believing that the possession of the right to rations of their humble fellows.
vote would somehow or other become the open The workingmen saw no hopeful way out of their sesame to illimitable progress. Pathetic fallacy!
limited life except hy imitating the tactics of their Why, only as recently as the Great War, and new masters. They sought political prestige. They primarily as a consequence of unimaginable sacrilearned to play the game of politics. For more fice on the part of the working classes, was the elethan one hundred years the unprivileged groups mentary and comparatively insignificant right to spent their vast energies struggling up hill for po vote granted to the whole adult population in Englitical enfranchisement. One may judge the nature land (England, the famous exemplar of liberty. and consequences of this roundabout and wasteful So far as America was concerned, the worship of approach to progress hy the fact that the working political freedom is more natural and easy to explain. In a land that was so fresh and virginal, ance or hypocrisy for any critic to mock at a new sparsely populated, a new center of self confident experiment in democracy because it imposes limipioneers, an apparently new experiment in deinoc tations upon the unlike minded. No state has ever racy what more natural than an almost religious been utterly free. The state, by historic definition, faith in a governmentalism founded upon an equal is a method of achieving advantages for a special ity among able and self reliant men? The land was group under its sovereignty. It marks a suffiman for the asking. The most immediate prob ciently encouraging progress to find a state which lems of stress and strain related to sovereignty. depends for its vitality and preservation upon the Constitutionalism, aping the English system, was self interest and direct participation of the largest the chief concern of lawyers and landlords and suc and inost useful group in society the Proletariat.
cessful little business men. In fact, the so called Every type of state in history has been the proprepresentative system is the inevitable (political erty of a limited group. The capitalistic state is counterpart of an industrial situation in which lathe property of The Exploiters. The socialistic has not yet become self conscious and purpose state will be the property of The Exploited. Soful, and in which the owners of ability and of called representative government has been a social property very naturally seek to provide perpetual failure because hy its indirect methods it has mansafeguards in law and morals for their prerogatives aged to keep the exploited from representation.
and specialized rights. America was pre destined Direct government will bring genuine representato be the classic land of so called representative tion to the exploited, but as insurance against failgovernment, precisely because wide economic op ure it will have to exclude from direct participation portunities, coupled with pioneer self righteous those groups within the nation whose historic pracness and a very useful mythology of individual lib tice it has been to keep the common run from selferty, existed in the America of the revolution, government. This is a necessary tactic in political It is a sufficiently ironic commentary on the limevolution. Just is the capitalistic state has created ited nature of this representative paradise that even a hundred severe limitations upon the thought and at this overmature day, the dear little ballot, so action of the proletariat (exclusion of undesirables, recently won by ten million women toilers, cannot control of immigration, banning of anarchists and be exercised to any fruitful purpose by the millions physical weaklings, exclusion of women from the of male toilers whose political emancipation did vote, the artificial determination of age twenty one not by any means begin with the American revo as the proper voting age, passage of acts of censorlution! The political method has worked an inship and espionage, the complete extirpation of finite mischief aniong the working classes because constitutional guarantees of freedom during war(if for no other reason) they were hoodwinked time, etc. so an emerging proletariat, striving to into believing that self interest is not the only create a new philosophy and a new society, must effective basis of social progress. The penalty they impose certain limitations upon the freedom of have paid for their age old misguidance may be thought and action of the undesirables.
Let us not be soft headed theorists. So far as is studied to some purpose in the bitter disillusionment that marks the common toiler present day humanly possible, let us be tolerant and just (to a tliinking.
fault. However, it remains bitterly true that the transformation of political or industrial sovereignty The creative power of Bolshevism lies in its entails drastic measures of social control which awakening of the toiling masses to a realization of cannot meet the finest tests of theoretic idealism.
the essential impotence of so called representative When we are mindful of the partial and restrictive government, and, on the other hand, of the marvelnature of every historic state, we can afford to be ous potency of government by direct participation. kindly disposed toward a new experiment in deBolshevism, whatever its excesses in an unparal mocracy that promises an increased measure of real leled crisis, is the spiritual fountainhead of true freedom for the vast mass of toiling human beings.
For in our mechanized society, true No state under feudalism or capitalism democracy, so far as the welfare of the common achieved more than a precarious reign of happiness run of men is concerned, consists in industrial selffor a tiny minority of the whole people. The indusgovernment. The political means becomes a subtrial state springs from the needs and aspirations sidiary aid to progress. The industrial means is of the working classes. Their state is an immeasurcentral and all important.
able improvement upon the political state of the The lamentations of those critics who still linger capitalists.
under the sway of eighteenth century representative government are sometimes pathetic, often sin Opportunism means the surrender of the basic incere, usually illogical, always feeble. It is a com terests of the masses for the temporary interests of inonplace of history that in the struggle of groups a small minority of workers, or in other words, it for the possession of the state, the group that rose means the union of a portion of the workers with to power found it absolutely essential to self the bourgeoisie in opposition to the mass of the propreservation to impose limitations of thought and letariat. Lenin.
actior upon the mass of those who were not direct participants in the privileged functions of the state. Socialist jingoism is opportunism which has become This is not an ideal to be proud of; it is simply an so mature that the existence of this continued bouriron fact characteristic of the historic process. It geois abcess within the Socialist parties has become looks, then, like a species of unpardonable ignor impossible. Lenin.
were sta ever 中