Table of Contents
PART I LIBERALISM AND SOCIALISM
1 The Policy of Violence and the Policy of Contract
The Social Order and the Political Constitution
The domination of the principle of violence was naturally not restricted to the
sphere of property. The spirit which put its trust in might alone, which sought
the fundamentals of welfare, not in agreement, but in ceaseless conflict, permeated
the whole of life. All human relations were settled according to the "Law of the
Stronger," which is really the negation of Law. There was no peace; at best there
was a truce.
Society grows out of the smallest associations. The circle of those who combined
to keep the peace among themselves was at first very limited. The circle widened
step by step through millennia, until the community of international law and the
union of peace extended over the greatest part of humanity, excluding the half savage
peoples who lived on the lowest plane of culture. Within this community the principle
of contract was not everywhere equally powerful. It was most completely recognized
in all that was concerned with property. It remained weakest in fields where it
touched the question of political domination. Into the sphere of foreign policy
it has so far penetrated no further than to limit the principle of violence by setting
up rules of combat. Apart from the process of arbitration, which is a recent development,
disputes between states are still, in essentials, derided by arms, the most usual
of ancient judicial processes; but the deriding combat, like the judicial duels
of the most ancient laws, must conform to certain rules. All the same, it would
be false to maintain that in the intercourse of states, fear of foreign violence
is the one factor that keeps the sword in its sheath. Forces which have been
active in the foreign policy of states through millennia have set the value of peace
above the profit of victorious war. In our time even the mightiest war lord cannot
isolate himself completely from the influence of the legal maxim that wars must
have valid reasons. Those who wage war invariably endeavour to prove that theirs
is the just cause and that they fight in defence or at least in preventive-defence;
this is a solemn recognition of the principle of Law and Peace. Every policy which
has openly confessed to the principle of violence has brought upon itself a world-coalition,
to which it has finally succumbed.
In the Liberal Social Philosophy the human mind becomes aware of the overcoming
of the principle of violence by the principle of peace. In this philosophy for the
first time humanity gives itself an account of its actions. It tears away the romantic
nimbus with which the exercise of power had been surrounded. War, it teaches, is
harmful, not only to the conquered but to the conqueror. Society has arisen out
of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking. Peace and not war
is the father of all things. Only economic action has created the wealth around
us; labour, not the profession of arms, brings happiness. Peace builds, war destroys.
Nations are fundamentally peaceful because they recognize the predominant utility
of peace. They accept war only in self-defence; wars of aggression they do not desire.
It is the princes who want war, because thus they hope to get money, goods, and
power. It is the business of the nations to prevent them from achieving their desire
by denying them the means necessary for making war.
The love of peace of the liberal does not spring from philanthropic considerations,
as does the pacifism of Bertha Suttner and of others of that category. It has
none of the woebegone spirit which attempts to combat the romanticism of blood lust
with the sobriety of international congresses. Its predilection for peace is not
a pastime which is otherwise compatible with all possible convictions. It is the
social theory of Liberalism. Whoever maintains the solidarity of the economic interests
of all nations, and remains indifferent to the extent of national territories and
national frontiers, whoever has so far overcome collectivist notions that such an
expression as "Honour of the State" sounds incomprehensible to him, that man will
nowhere find a valid cause for wars of aggression. Liberal pacificism is the offspring
of the Liberal Social Philosophy. That Liberalism aims at the protection of property
and that it rejects war are two expressions of one and the same principle.
2 The Social Function of Democracy
In internal politics Liberalism demands the fullest freedom for the expression of
political opinion and it demands that the State shall be constituted according to
the will of the majority; it demands legislation through representatives of the
people, and that the government, which is a committee of the people's representatives,
shall be bound by the Laws. Liberalism merely compromises when it accepts a monarchy.
Its ideal remains the republic or at least a shadow-principality of the English
type. For its highest political principle is the self-determination of peoples as
of individuals. It is idle to discuss whether one should call this political ideal
democratic or not. The more recent writers are inclined to assume a contrast between
Liberalism and Democracy. They seem to have no clear conceptions of either; above
all, their ideas as to the philosophical basis of democratic institutions seem to
be derived exclusively from the ideas of natural law.
Now it may well be that the majority of liberal theories have endeavoured to recommend
democratic institutions on grounds which correspond to the theories of natural law
with regard to the inalienable fight of human beings to self-determination. But
the reasons which a political movement gives in justification of its postulates
do not always coincide with the reasons which force them to be uttered. It is often
easier to act politically than to see clearly the ultimate motives of one's actions.
The old Liberalism knew that the democratic demands rose inevitably from its system
of social philosophy. But it was not at all clear what position these demands occupied
in the system. This explains the uncertainty it has always manifested in questions
of ultimate principle; it also accounts for the measureless exaggeration which certain
pseudo-democratic demands have enjoyed at the hands of those who ultimately claimed
the name democrat for themselves alone and who thus became contrasted with liberals
who did not go so far.
The significance of the democratic form of constitution is not that it represents
more nearly than any other the natural and inborn rights of man; not that it realizes,
better than any other kind of government, the ideas of liberty and equality. In
the abstract it is as little unworthy of a man to let others govern him as it is
to let someone else perform any kind of labour for him. That the citizen of a developed
community feels free and happy in a democracy, that he regards it as superior to
all other forms of government, and that he is prepared to make sacrifices to achieve
and maintain it, this, again, is not to be explained by the fact that democracy
is worthy of love for its own sake. The fact is that it performs functions which
he is not prepared to do without.
It is usually argued that the essential function of democracy is the selection of
political leaders. In the democratic system the appointment to at least the most
important public offices is decided by competition in all the publicity of political
life, and in this competition, it is believed, the most capable are bound to win.
But it is difficult to see why democracy should necessarily be luckier than autocracy
or aristocracy in selecting people for directing the state. In nondemocratic states,
history shows, political talents have frequently won through, and one cannot maintain
that democracy always puts the best people into office. On this point the enemies
and the friends of democracy will never agree.
The truth is that the significance of the democratic form of constitution is something
quite different from all this. Its function is to make peace, to avoid violent revolutions.
In non-democratic states, too, only a government which can count on the backing
of public opinion is able to maintain itself in the long run. The strength of all
governments lies not in weapons but in the spirit which puts the weapons at their
disposal. Those in power, always necessarily a small minority against an enormous
majority, can attain and maintain power only by making the spirit of the majority
pliant to their rule. If there is a change, if those on whose support the government
depends lose the conviction that they must support this particular government, then
the ground is undermined beneath it and it must sooner or later give way. Persons
and systems in the government of non-democratic states can be changed by violence
alone. The system and the individuals that have lost the support of the people are
swept away in the upheaval and a new system and other individuals take their place.
But any violent revolution costs blood and money. Lives are sacrificed, and destruction
impedes economic activity. Democracy tries to prevent such material loss and the
accompanying psychical shock by guaranteeing accord between the will of the state—as
expressed through the organs of the state—and the will of the majority. This it
achieves by making the organs of the state legally dependent on the will of the
majority of the moment. In internal policy it realizes what pacifism seeks to realize
in external policy.
That this alone is the decisive function of democracy becomes clearly evident when
we consider the argument which opponents of the democratic principle most frequently
adduce against it. The Russian conservative is undoubtedly right when he points
out that Russian Tsarism and the policy of the Tsar was approved by the great mass
of the Russian people, so that even a democratic state form could not have given
Russia a different system of government. Russian democrats themselves have had no
delusions about this. As long as the majority of the Russian people or, better,
of that part of the people which was politically mature and which had the opportunity
to intervene in policy—as long as this majority stood behind tsardom, the empire
did not suffer from the absence of a democratic form of constitution. This lack
became fatal, however, as soon as a difference arose between public opinion and
the political system of tsardom. State will and people's will could not be adjusted
pacifically; a political catastrophe was inevitable. And what is true of the Russia
of the Tsar is just as true of the Russia of the Bolshevists; it is just as true
of Prussia, of Germany, and of every other state. How disastrous were the effects
of the French Revolution, from which France has psychically never quite recovered!
How enormously England has benefited from the fact that she has been able to avoid
revolution since the seventeenth century!
Thus we see how mistaken it is to regard the terms democratic and revolutionary
as synonymous or even as similar. Democracy is not only not revolutionary, but it
seeks to extirpate revolution. The cult of revolution, of violent overthrow at any
price, which is peculiar to Marxism, has nothing whatever to do with democracy.
Liberalism, recognizing that the attainment of the economic aims of man presupposes
peace, and seeking therefore to eliminate all causes of strife at home or in foreign
politics, desires democracy. The violence of war and revolutions is always an evil
to liberal eyes, an evil which cannot always be avoided as long as man lacks democracy.
Yet even when revolution seems almost inevitable Liberalism tries to save the people
from violence, hoping that philosophy may so enlighten tyrants that they will voluntarily
renounce rights which are opposed to social development. Schiller speaks with the
voice of Liberalism when he makes the Marquis de Posa implore the king for liberty
of thought; and the great night of August 4th, 1789, when the French feudal lords
voluntarily renounced their privileges, and the English Reform Act of 1832, show
that these hopes were not quite vain. Liberalism has no admiration to spare for
the heroic grandiosity of Marxism's professional revolutionaries, who stake the
lives of thousands and destroy values which the labour of decades and centuries
has created. Here the economic principle holds good: Liberalism wants success at
the smallest price.
Democracy is self-government of the people; it is autonomy. But this does not mean
that all must collaborate equally in legislation and administration. Direct democracy
can be realized only on the smallest scale. Even small parliaments cannot do all
their work in plenary assemblies; committees must be chosen, and the real work is
done by individuals; by the proposers, the speakers, the rapporteurs, and above
all by the authors of the bills. Here then is final proof of the fact that the masses
follow the leadership of a few men. That men are not all equal, that some are born
to lead and some to be led is a circumstance which even democratic institutions
cannot alter. We cannot all be pioneers: most people do not wish to be nor have
they the necessary strength. The idea that under the purest form of democracy people
would spend their days in council like the members of a parliament derives from
the conception we had of the ancient Greek city State at its period of decay; but
we overlook the fact that such communities were not in fact democracies at all,
since they excluded from public life the slaves and all who did not possess full
citizen rights. Where all are to collaborate, the "pure" ideal of direct democracy
becomes impracticable. To want to see democracy realized in this impossible form
is nothing less than pedantic natural law doctrinairianism. To achieve the ends
for which democratic institutions strive it is only necessary that legislation and
administration shall be guided according to the will of the popular majority and
for this purpose indirect democracy is completely satisfactory. The essence of democracy
is not that everyone makes and administers laws but that lawgivers and rulers should
be dependent on the people's will in such a way that they may be peaceably changed
if conflict occurs.
This defeats many of the arguments, put forward by friends and opponents of popular
rule, against the possibility of realizing democracy.
Democracy is not less democracy because leaders come forth from the masses to devote themselves entirely to politics.
Like any other profession in the society dividing labour, politics demand the entire
man; dilettante politicians are of no use. As long as the professional politician
remains dependent on the will of the majority, so that he can carry out only that
for which he has won over the majority, the democratic principle is satisfied. Democracy
does not demand, either that parliament shall be a copy, on a reduced scale, of
the social stratification of the country, consisting, where peasant and industrial
labourers form the bulk of the population, mainly of peasants and industrial labourers.
The gentleman of leisure who plays a great role in the English parliament, the lawyer
and journalist of the parliaments of the Latin countries probably represent the
people better than the trade union leaders and peasants who have brought spiritual
desolation to the German and Slav parliaments. If members of the higher social ranks
were excluded from parliaments, those parliaments and the governments emanating
from them could not represent the will of the people. For in society these higher
ranks, the composition of which is itself the result of a selection made by public
opinion, exert on the minds of the people an influence out of all proportion to
their mere numbers. If one kept them from parliament and public administration by
describing them to the electors as men unfit to rule, a conflict would have arisen
between public opinion and the opinion of parliamentary bodies, and this would make
more difficult, if not impossible, the functioning of democratic institutions. Non-parliamentary
influences make themselves felt in legislation and administration, for the intellectual
power of the excluded cannot be stifled by the inferior elements which lead in parliamentary
life. Parliamentarism suffers from nothing so much as from this; we must seek here
the reason for its much deplored decline. For democracy is not mob rule, and to
do justice to its tasks, parliament should include the best political minds of the
Grave injury has been done to the concept of democracy by those who, exaggerating
the natural law notion of sovereignty, conceived it as limitless rule of the volonté
générale (general will). There is really no essential difference between the unlimited
power of the democratic state and the unlimited power of the autocrat. The idea
that carries away our demagogues and their supporters, the idea that the state can
do whatever it wishes, and that nothing should resist the will of the sovereign
people, has done more evil perhaps than the caesar-mania of degenerate princelings.
Both have the same origin in the notion of a state based purely on political might.
The legislator feels free of all limitations because he understands from the theory
of law that all law depends on his will. It is a small confusion of ideas, but a
confusion with profound consequences, when he takes his formal freedom to be a material
one and believes himself to be above the natural conditions of social life. The
conflicts which arise out of this misconception show that only within the framework
of Liberalism does democracy fulfil a social function. Democracy without Liberalism
is a hollow form.
3 The Ideal of Equality
Political democracy necessarily follows from Liberalism. But it is often said that
the democratic principle must eventually lead beyond Liberalism. Carried out strictly,
it is said, it will require economic as well as political rights of equality. Thus
logically Socialism must necessarily evolve out of Liberalism, while Liberalism
necessarily involves its own destruction.
The ideal of equality, also, originated as a demand of natural law. It was sought
to justify it with religious, psychological, and philosophical arguments; but all
these proved to be untenable. The fact is that men are endowed differently by nature;
thus the demand that all should be equally treated cannot rest on any theory that
all are equal. The poverty of the natural law argument is exposed most clearly when
it deals with the principle of equality.
If we wish to understand this principle we must start with an historical examination.
In modern times, as earlier, it has been appealed to as a means of sweeping away
the feudal differentiation of individuals' legal rights. So long as barriers hinder
the development of the individual and of whole sections of the people, social life
is bound to be disturbed by violent upheavals. People without rights are always
a menace to social order. Their common interest in removing such barriers unites
them; they are prepared to resort to violence because by peaceable means they are
unable to get what they want. Social peace is attained only when one allows all
members of society to participate in democratic institutions. And this means equality
of All before the Law.
Another consideration too urges upon Liberalism the desirability of such equality.
Society is best served when the means of production are in the possession of those
who know how to use them best. The gradation of legal rights according to accident
of birth keeps production goods from the best managers. We all know what role this
argument has played in liberal struggles, above all in the emancipation of the serfs.
The soberest reasons of expediency recommend equality to Liberalism. Liberalism
is fully conscious, of course, that equality before the Law can become extremely
oppressive for the individual under certain circumstances, because what benefits
one may injure another; the liberal idea of equality is however based on social
considerations, and where these are to be served the susceptibilities of individuals
must give way. Like all other social institutions, the Law exists for social purposes.
The individual must bow to it, because his own aims can be served only in and with
The meaning of legal institutions is misunderstood when they are conceived to be
anything more than this, and when they are made the basis of new claims which are
to be realized at whatever cost to the aim of social collaboration. The equality
Liberalism creates is equality before the Law; it has never sought any other. From
the liberal point of view, therefore, criticism which condemns this equality as
inadequate—maintaining that true equality is full equality of income through equal
distribution of commodities—is unjustified.
But it is precisely in this form that the principle of equality is most acclaimed
by those who expect to gain more than they lose from an equal distribution of goods.
Here is a fertile field for the demagogue. Whoever stirs up the resentment of the
poor against the rich can count on securing a big audience. Democracy creates the
most favourable preliminary conditions for the development of this spirit, which
is always and everywhere present, though concealed. So far all democratic states
have foundered on this point. The democracy of our own time is hastening towards
the same end.
It is a strange fact that just that idea of equality should be called unsocial which
considers equality only from the point of view of the interests of society as a
whole, and which wants to see it achieved only in so far as it helps society to
attain its social aims; while the view which insists that equality, regardless of
the consequences, implies a claim to an equal quota of the national income is put
forward as the only view inspired by consideration for society. In the Greek city
State of the fourth century the citizen considered himself lord of the property
of all the subjects of the State and he demanded his part imperiously, as a shareholder
demands his dividends. Referring to the practice of distributing common property
and confiscated private property, Aeschines made the following comment: "The Athenians
come out of the Ecclesia not as out of a political assembly but as from the meeting
of a company in which the surplus profit has been distributed." It cannot be
denied that even to-day the common man is inclined to look on the State as a source
from which to draw the utmost possible income.
But the principle of equality in this form by no means follows necessarily from
the democratic idea. It should not be recognized as valid a priori any more than
any other principle of social life. Before one can judge it, its effects must be
clearly understood. The fact that it is generally very popular with the masses and
therefore finds easy recognition in a democratic state neither makes it a fundamental
principle of democracy nor protects it from the scrutiny of the theorist.
4 Democracy and Social-Democracy
The view that democracy and Socialism are inwardly related spread far and wide in
the decades which preceded the Bolshevist revolution. Many came to believe that
democracy and Socialism meant the same thing, and that democracy without Socialism
or Socialism without democracy would not be possible.
This notion sprang principally from a combination of two chains of thought, both
of which sprang originally from the Hegelian philosophy of history. For Hegel world
history is "progress in the consciousness of freedom." Progress takes place in this
way: "... the Orientals only knew that one is free, the Greek and Roman world that
some are free, but we know that all men are free as such, that man is free as man."
There is no doubt that the freedom of which Hegel spoke was different from that
for which the radical politicians of his day were fighting. Hegel took ideas which
were common to the political doctrines of the epoch of enlightenment and intellectualized
them. But the radical young Hegelians read into his words what appealed to them.
For them it was certain that the evolution to Democracy was a necessity in the Hegelian
sense of this term. The historians follow suit. Gervinus sees "by and large in the
history of humanity," as "in the internal evolution of the states," "a regular progress
... from the spiritual and civil freedom of the single individual to that of the
Several and the Many."
The materialist conception of history provides the idea of the "liberty of the many"
with a different content. The Many are the proletarians; they must necessarily become
socialists because consciousness is determined by the social conditions. Thus evolution
to democracy and evolution to Socialism are one and the same thing. Democracy is
the means towards the realization of Socialism, but at the same time Socialism is
the means towards the realization of democracy. The party title, "Social Democracy,"
most clearly expresses this co-ordination of Socialism and democracy. With the name
democracy the socialist workers' party took over the spiritual inheritance of the
movements of Young Europe. All the slogans of the pre-March radicalism are to
be found in the Social-Democratic Party programmes. They recruit, for the party,
supporters who feel indifferent to or are even repulsed by the demands of Socialism.
The relation of Marxist Socialism to the demand for democracy was determined by
the fact that it was the Socialism of the Germans, the Russians, and the smaller
nations which lived under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the empire of the Tsars.
Every opposition party in these more or less autocratic states had to demand democracy
first of all, so as to create the conditions that must precede the development of
political activity. For the Social Democrats this practically excluded democracy
from discussion; it would never have done to cast a doubt on the democratic ideology
pro foro externo.
But the question of the relation between the two ideas expressed in its double name
could not be completely suppressed within the party. People began by dividing the
problem into two parts. When they spoke of the coming socialist paradise they continued
to maintain the interdependence of the terms and even went a little farther and
said that they were ultimately one. Since one continued to regard democracy as in
itself a good thing, one could not—as a faithful socialist awaiting absolute salvation
in the paradise-to-be—arrive at any other conclusion. There would be something wrong
with the land of promise if it were not the best imaginable from a political point
of view. Thus socialist writers did not cease to proclaim that only in a socialist
society could true democracy exist. What passed for democracy in the capitalist
states was a caricature designed to cover the machinations of exploiters.
But although it was seen that Socialism and democracy must meet at the goal, nobody
was quite certain whether they were to take the same road. People argued over the
problem whether the realization of Socialism—and therefore, according to the views
just discussed, of democracy too—was to be attempted through the instrumentality
of democracy or whether in the struggle one should deviate from the principles of
democracy. This was the celebrated controversy about the dictatorship of the proletariat;
it was the subject of academic discussion in Marxist literature up to the time of
the Bolshevist revolution and has since become a great political problem.
Like all other differences of opinion which divide Marxists into groups, the quarrel
arose from the dualism which cuts right through that bundle of dogmas called the
Marxist system. In Marxism there are always two ways at least of looking at anything
and everything, and the reconciliation of these views is attained only by dialectic
artificialities. The commonest device is to use, according to the needs of the moment,
a word to which more than one meaning may be attached. With these words, which at
the same time serve as political slogans to hypnotize the mass psyche, a cult suggestive
of fetishism is carried on. The Marxist dialectic is essentially word-fetishism.
Every article of the faith is embodied in a word fetish whose double or even multiple
meaning makes it possible to unite incompatible ideas and demands. The interpretation
of these words, as intentionally ambiguous as the words of the Delphic Pythia, eventually
brings the different parties to blows, and everyone quotes in his favour passages
from the writings of Marx and Engels to which authoritative importance is attached.
"Revolution" is one of these words. By "industrial revolution" Marxism means the
gradual transformation of the pre-capitalist way of production into the capitalist.
"Revolution" here means the same as "development," and the contrast between the
terms "evolution" and "revolution" is almost extinguished. Thus the Marxist is able,
when it pleases him, to speak of the revolutionary spirit as contemptible "putschism"
("insurrectionism"). The revisionists were quite right when they called many passages
in Marx and Engels to their support. But when Marx calls the workers' movement a
revolutionary movement and says that the working class is the only true revolutionary
class, he is using the term in the sense that suggests barricades and street fights.
Thus syndicalism is also right when it appeals to Marx.
Marxism is equally obscure in the use of the word State. According to Marxism, the
State is merely an instrument of class domination. By acquiring political power
the proletariat abolishes class conflict and the State ceases to exist. "As soon
as there is no longer any social class to be kept in suppression, and as soon as
class domination and the struggle for individual existence based on the hitherto
existing anarchy of production are removed, along with the conflicts and excesses
which arise from them, then there will be nothing more to repress and nothing that
would make necessary a special repressive power, a state. The first act in which
the State really appears as representative of the whole society—the taking possession
of the means of production in the name of society—is simultaneously its last independent
act as a state. The intervention of state power in social affairs becomes superfluous
in one field after another until at last it falls asleep of its own accord."
However obscure or badly thought out may be its view of the essence of political
organization, this statement is so positive in what it says of the proletarian rule
that it would seem to leave no room for doubt. But it seems much less positive when
we remember Marx's assertion that between the capitalist and the communist societies
must lie a period of revolutionary transformation, in addition to which there will
be a corresponding "political period of transition whose state can be no other than
the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." If we assume, with Lenin,
that this period is to endure until that "higher phase of communist society" is
reached, in which "the enslaving subordination of individuals under the division
of labour has vanished, and with it the contrast of mental and physical work," in
which "work will have become not only a means to life but itself the first necessity
of life," then of course we come to a very different conclusion with regard to Marxism's
attitude to democracy. Obviously the socialist community will have no room for
democracy for centuries to come.
Although it occasionally comments on the historical achievements of Liberalism,
Marxism entirely overlooks the importance of liberal ideas. It is at a loss when
it comes to deal with the liberal demands for liberty of conscience and expression
of opinion, for the recognition on principle of every opposition party and the equal
rights of all parties. Wherever it is not in power, Marxism claims all the basic
liberal rights, for they alone can give it the freedom which its propaganda urgently
needs. But it can never understand their spirit and will never grant them to its
opponents when it comes into power itself. In this respect it resembles the Churches
and other institutions which rest on the principle of violence. These, too, exploit
the democratic liberties when they are fighting their battle, but once in power
they deny their adversaries such rights. So, plainly, the democracy of Socialism
exposes its deceit. "The party of the communists," says Bukharin, "demands no sort
of liberties for the bourgeois enemies of the people. On the contrary." And with
remarkable cynicism he boasts that the communists, before they were in power, advocated
the liberty of expression of opinion merely because it would have been "ridiculous"
to demand from the capitalists liberty for the workers' movement in any other way
than by demanding liberty in general.
Always and everywhere Liberalism demands democracy at once, for it believes that
the function which it has to fulfil in society permits of no postponement. Without
democracy the peaceful development of the state is impossible. The demand for democracy
is not the result of a policy of compromise or of a pandering to relativism in questions
of world-philosophy, for Liberalism asserts the absolute validity of its doctrine.
Rather, it is the consequence of the Liberal belief that power depends upon a mastery
over mind alone and that to gain such a mastery only spiritual weapons are effective.
Even where for an indefinite time to come it may expect to reap only disadvantages
from democracy, Liberalism still advocates democracy. Liberalism believes that it
cannot maintain itself against the will of the majority; and that in any case the
advantages which might accrue from a liberal regime maintained artificially and
against the feeling of the people would be infinitesimal compared to the disturbances
that would stay the quiet course of state development if the people's will were
The Social Democrats would certainly have continued to juggle with the catchword
democracy, but, by an historical accident, the Bolshevist revolution has compelled
them prematurely to discard their mask, and to reveal the violence which their doctrine
5 The Political Constitution of Socialist Communities
Beyond the dictatorship of the proletariat lies the paradise, the "higher phase
of the communist society," in which, "with the all round development of individuals,
the productive forces will also have increased, and all the springs of social wealth
will flow more freely." In this land of promise "there will remain nothing to
repress, nothing which would necessitate a special repressive power, a state ...
In place of the government over persons comes the administration of things and the
direction of productive processes." An epoch will have begun in which "a generation,
grown up in new, free social conditions, will be able to discard the whole lumber
of State." The working class will have gone, thanks to "long struggles, a whole
series of historical processes," by which "the men, like the conditions, were completely
transformed." Thus society is able to exist without coercion, as once it did
in the Golden Age. Of this Engels has much to relate, much that is beautiful and
good. Only we have read it all before, all better and more beautifully expressed
in Virgil, Ovid, and Tacitus!
Aurea prima sara est aetas, quae vindice nullo,
sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.
Poena metusque aberant, nec verba minantia fixo
(The first golden age flourished, which begat truth
and justice spontaneously; No laws of formal guarantees were needed.
Punishment and fear were unheard of; no savage, restrictive decrees were carved
on bronze tablets.)
It follows from all this that the Marxists have no occasion to occupy themselves
with problems concerned with the political constitution of the socialist community.
In this connection they perceive no problems at all which cannot be dismissed by
saying nothing about them. Yet even in the socialist community the necessity of
acting in common must raise the question of how to act in common. It will be necessary
to decide how to form that which is usually called, metaphorically, the will of
the community or the will of the people. Even if we overlooked the fact that there
can be no administration of goods which is not administration of men—i.e. the bending
one human will to another—and no direction of productive processes which is not
the government over persons—i.e. domination of one human will by another—even
if we overlooked this we should still have to ask who is to administer the goods
and direct the productive processes, and on what principles. Thus, once again we
are beset by all the political problems of the legally regulated social community.
All historical attempts to realize the socialist ideal of society have a most pronounced
authoritarian character. Nothing in the Empire of the Pharaohs or of the Incas,
and nothing in the Jesuit State of Paraguay was suggestive of democracy, of self-determination
by the majority of the people. The Utopias of all the older kinds of socialists
were equally undemocratic. Neither Plato nor Saint-Simon were democrats. One finds
nothing in history or in the literary history of socialist theory which shows an
internal connection between the socialist order of society and political democracy.
If we look closer we find that the ideal of the higher phase of communist society,
ripening only in remote distances of the future, is, as the Marxists view it, thoroughly
undemocratic. Here, too, the socialist intends that eternal peace shall reign—the
goal of all democratic institutions. But the means by which this peace is to be
gained are very different from those employed by the democrats. It will not rest
on the power to change peacefully rulers and ruling policy, but on the fact that
the regime is made permanent, and that rulers and policy are unchangeable. This,
too, is peace; not the peace of progress which Liberalism strives to attain but
the peace of the graveyard. It is not the peace of pacifists but of pacifiers, of
men of violence who seek to create peace by subjection. Every absolutist makes such
peace by setting up an absolute domination, and it lasts just as long as his domination
can be maintained. Liberalism sees the vanity of all this. It sets itself, therefore,
to make a peace which will be proof against the perils which threaten it on account
of man's inextinguishable yearning for change.
As, for instance, Lasson maintains
(Prinzip und Zukunft des Völkerrechts, Berlin, 1871), p. 35.
In their efforts to debit capitalism with all
evil, the socialists have tried to describe even modern imperialism and thus world war
as products of capitalism. It is probably unnecessary to deal more fully with this
theory, put forward for the unthinking masses. But it is not inappropriate to recall
that Kant represented the facts correctly when he expected the growing influence of "money
power" would gradually diminish warlike tendencies. "It is the spirit of commerce," he
says, "which cannot exist side by side with war" (Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden, vol. 5,
Sämtliche Werke, p. 688); see also Sulzbach, Nationales Gemeinschaftsgefühl und
wirtschaftliches Interesse (Leipzig, 1929), pp. 80 ff.
In some sense it is, perhaps, not altogether
an accident that the writer who, at the threshold of the Renaissance, first raised the
democratic demand for legislation by the people—Marsilius of Padua—called his work 'Defensor
Pacis' (Atger, Essai sur l'Histoire des Doctrines du Contrat Social [Paris, 1906], p. 75;
Scholz, "Marsilius von Padua und die Idee der Demokratie" [Zeitschrift für Politik, 1908],
vol. 1, pp. 66 ff.
See, on the one hand, especially the writings of the
advocates of the Prussian authoritarian state; on the other, above all, the syndicalists
(Michels, Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie, 2nd ed. [Leipzig,
1925]), pp. 463 ff.
Max Weber, Politik als Beruf (Munich and Leipzig,
1920), pp. 17 ff.
The natural-law theories of democracy, which fail
to appreciate the essentials of the division of labor, cling to the idea of the
"representation" of electors by elected. It was not difficult to show how artificial was
this concept. The member of parliament who makes laws for me and controls for me the
administration of the postal system, no more "represents" me than the doctor who heals me
or the cobbler who makes shoes for me. What differentiates him essentially from the doctor
and the cobbler is not that he fulfills services of a different kind for me but that if I
am dissatisfied with him I cannot withdraw the care of my affairs from him in the same
simple way I can dismiss a doctor or a cobbler. To get that influence in government which
I have over my doctor and shoemaker I want to be an elector.
To this extent one can say with Proudhon:
"La democratie c'est l'envie" ("Democracy is envy") (Poehlmann, Geschichte der sozialen
Frage und des Sozialismus in der antiken Welt, vol. 1, p. 317, fn. 4).
Ibid., vol. 1, p. 353
Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der
Weltgeschichte, ed. Lasson (Leipzig, 1917), vol. l, p. 40.
Gervinus, Einleitung in die Geschichte des
neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1853), p. 13.
i.e., German radicalism before the revolution
of 1848 (Trans.).
Engels, Herrn Eugen Dührings Umwälzung
der Wissenschaft, 7th ed. (Stuttgart, 1910), p. 302.
Marx, Zur Kritik des sozialdemokratischen
Parteiprogramms von Gotha, ed. Kreibich (Reichenberg, 1920), p. 23.
Ibid., p. 17; also V. I. Lenin, Staat und
Revolution (Berlin, 1918), p. 89.
Bukharin, Das Programm der Kommunisten
(Bolschewiki) (Zurich, 1918), pp. 24 ff.
As is the opinion of Kelsen, "Vom Wesen und
Wert der Demokratie," in Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, vol. 47, P. 84; also Menzel,
"Demokratie und Weltanschauung," in Zeitschrift für öffentliches Recht, vol. 2, pp. 701 ff.
Marx, op. cit., p. 17.
Engels, op. cit., p. 302.
"Engels, Preface to Marx, Der Bürgerkrieg in
Frankreich, Politische Aktions-Bibliothek (Berlin, 1919), p. 16.
Marx, Der Bürgerkrieg, p. 54.
Engels, Der Ursprung der Familie, des
Privateigentums und des Staates, 20th ed. (Stuttgart, 1921), pp. 163 ff.
Ovid, Metamorphoses, I, pp. 89 ff.; also
Virgil, Aeneid, VII, pp. 203 ff.; Tacitus, Annal, III, p. 26; Poehlmann, Geschichte
der sozialen Frage und des Sozialismus in der antiken Welt, vol. 2, pp. 583 ff.
Bourguin, Die sozialistischen Systeme und
die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung, trans. Katenstein (Tübingen, 1906), pp. 70 ff.; Kelsen,
Sozialismus und Staat, 2nd ed. (Leipzig, 1923), p. 105.
Also Bryce, Moderne Demokratien, trans.
Loewenstein and Mendelssohn Bartholdy (Munich, 1926), vol. 3, pp. 289 ff.
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