Lapas attēli

states. In Russia loyalty to the semi-capitalist, semifeudal state of the Romanoffs was fragile enough. But the bulk of the masses, the peasants, felt no such sympathy with the urban proletariat as to subordinate their interests as tillers of the soil to those of the industrial wage earners. National sentiment, though weak, proved stronger than proletarian class-consciousness. Inertia, and lingering traces of deference to the former rulers of the state, made the establishment of communist rule difficult. Fear of the evicted landlords and for the safety of their newly won lands, rather than a deliberate preference for the Soviet government, constrained the peasants to a measure of obedience to the authorities at Moscow. In short, the psychology of the Bolshevists was as defective as their philosophy of history.

eousness of

the state

Thirdly, the Bolshevists, if they were sincere in their 3. Erronprofessions, misunderstood the nature of the state. The Marxian state is but a body of people. The more intelligent the theory of individuals who compose a state, the more energetic and enterprising, the more highly developed their moral character and social capacity, the more competent will their state be, the more capable of rendering great services to its members. Without doubt, a successful co-operative commonwealth would be a delightful state in which to live, perhaps the happiest that men can hope to contrive on earth. But such a state makes the greatest demands upon the capacities of its people. It cannot be organized by an undisciplined and disorderly crowd. It requires the finest beings which mankind can produce. Russia did not possess that kind of people in sufficient abundance. There was too much ignorance, stupidity, sloth, and selfishness. Such peoples may operate militarist and capitalist and perhaps even proletarian states, but they cannot operate a cooperative commonwealth. Had the communist leaders been philosopher-kings, made of the mettle demanded by

4. Inadequacy of

the theory of the class



Plato for the operation of his ideal commonwealth, they
might by a magnificent fiction, as Plato suggested, have
established their authority over the Russian masses.
that would not have been a co-operative commonwealth.
Perhaps some of the Bolshevists were made of such
mettle. Perhaps even the whole Marxian dogma was
designed to be a magnificent fiction. More probably not.
The vision of the co-operative commonwealth faded into
the reality of arbitrary Soviet rule.

The Russian Bolshevists failed as idealistic statesmen, but they succeeded as realistic politicians. Politics is a practical art, concerned with securing what is possible for the individual and the members of his group. The broader the group and the more intimate its contacts with other groups, the less crudely selfish the art of politics becomes. But fundamentally it is a form of struggle between individuals and groups of individuals. The struggle of

classes is but one phase of the general struggle in which the individual is involved, not merely as an individual but also as a member of many different groups and classes. The final error of the Bolshevists lay in oversimplifying the struggle of classes, in dividing the mass of struggling humanity into only two parts, the proletariat and its oppressors. Their experience in practical politics eventually convinced them that the class struggle is not so simple. They discovered that the individual wage earner in the modern state cannot be held to a course of political action based on indifference to all his contacts with his fellowmen, except that arising out of the contract of employment in capitalistic industry. The necessity of adjusting the conflicts of interest arising out of all his various contacts makes it impossible for the practical politician to concentrate on the relations between capital and labor alone. By such concentration he would become merely an employment manager or labor leader.

of realism

The politician must have wider interests. He has not only economic, but also sectional and social and racial and religious, groups to deal with. His is the most complex and Triumph intricate of all the practical arts. Having made this dis- in Russian covery, the Russian Bolshevists concentrated on what Communist politics must be the first business of the practical politician, to hold power. Though sacrificing their vision of the cooperative commonwealth, they contrived to maintain their





Revolutionary communism failed in Russia after the The fall of Nicholas II more convincingly than in France after of class persistence the fall of Louis Napoleon. Indeed, it has never gained consciouspower except in times of confusion following the collapse of discredited authority and the destruction of established habits of obedience. But while communism, regarded as the organized political movement of the wage-earning class, has not yet shown the vitality of nationalism in modern politics, class consciousness remains one of the powerful forces in the determination of political conduct. Class consciousness, as a factor in modern politics, The class however, is not the clean-cut expression of corporate sen- ness of timent on the part of a definite body of persons which the the poor Marxian socialists anticipated. At bottom it reflects the general but rather vague antipathy of the poor for the rich, that exists wherever wealth is in the hands of persons who are not the natural leaders of the community. The Bible states the chances of the rich entering the Kingdom of Heaven in language which is familiar to the poor. Recognition of this feeling sometimes appears in quarters where one does not ordinarily expect to find it expressed. Pope Leo XIII, for instance, began his important Encyclical on the Condition of Labor, published in 1891, wherein he sounded the keynote in the Catholic anti

The class conscious

ness of the

socialist campaign, with the proposition that "a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke that is little better than slavery." The Roman Catholic Church and all Christian churches seek to abate, not to incite, social antipathies; but feeling against the rich is probably widespread, if not very intense, in normal times, and in times of economic stress may easily become deep and bitter. Dislike, even hatred, of the rich, however, is a fragile bond of union between individuals who have nothing else in common. If this were not so, all democratic states would be constantly inflicting injustice upon the rich, since the latter are such a small portion of the whole body of people. In the United States well-being is popularly supposed to be widely diffused; yet, acording to the estimate of the National Bureau of Economic Research for the year 1918,1 only about two and one-quarter per cent of the people with incomes received incomes of more than $5000, eighty-six per cent received less than $2000, and the majority received less than $1200. If the class consciousness of the masses of the poor craved organized expression in American politics, socialist and communist propaganda would have found a warmer welcome.

Class consciousness is most significant in practical politics when it springs from the consciousness of common "interests" interests on the part of much more coherent and articulate classes of persons than the whole mass of the poor. While the average, or, more strictly speaking, what the statisticians call the median, man in the United States received in 1918 about $1140, a quarter of the whole number received under $833, and another quarter received between $1140 and $1574. Both these groups may perhaps be properly included in the general mass of the poor, but they would by no means have the same interest in plunder1 Income in the United States, Table 26.

ing the rich. An equal division of income all around, if such an operation were possible, would mean comparatively little to the higher of the two groups, even assuming that it were accomplished without producing any injurious effects upon the community as a whole. To the bulk of the people with low or moderate incomes, the amount of fellow feeling springing from the knowledge of their common lot is of small account in comparison with the bond of sympathy which arises from association in the same industry or trade, and in the same occupation or calling. Farmers, miners, railroad workers, trainmen, shopmen, mill workers, factory hands, clerical labor, skilled manual labor, unskilled labor, machinists, cigar makers, buildingtrades workers, wholesalers. and jobbers, retailers, great merchants, small merchants, dry-goods merchants, grocers, fruit peddlers: these are classes whose members' relations. are intimate enough and whose consciousness of kind is strong enough to furnish a working basis for organized political action. There is much reference to "the interests" in politics. Broadly speaking, there is nothing in politics except "interests." Politics is not merely the struggle of rival office-seekers for the spoils of victory; it is the conflict of "interests" of all kinds and degrees. The business of the statesman is much more than the simple vindication of right against wrong. It is above all the adjustment of these conflicting interests so that the whole body of people may survive.

forms of

class consciousness 1. Specific


Class consciousness, therefore, tends to take two dis- The two tinct forms in democratic states. In its more specific form it produces various interest-groups in popular elections and in representative bodies, the farmer vote leading to farm blocs, the business vote leading to corporation blocs, the labor union vote leading to union-labor blocs, etc. This aspect of class consciousness is of the greatest importance in the organization of political parties and the functioning

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »