Lecture 1: Plebs leaders and labor leaders. Part 1.
-- --. Part 2
Lecture 2. The Warning of the Gracchi. Part 1.
-- --. Part 2
The Proletarian Revolution Abhors Forms
It was a blunder of the Gracchian Movement to devote time and energy to the changing of the forms of the suffrage. The characteristic weakness of the proletariat renders it prone to lures. It, the least favored of all historic revolutionary classes, is called upon to carry out a revolution that is pivoted upon the most complicated synthesis, and one withal that is easiest to be obscured by the dust that its very foe, the Capitalist Class, is able to raise most plentifully. The essence of this revolution - the overthrow of Wage Slavery - cannot be too forcefully held up. Nor can the point be too forcefully kept in evidence that, short of the abolition of Wage Slavery, all "improvements" either accrue to Capitalism, or are the merest moonshine where they are not sidetracks. It matters not how the voting is done; it matters not whether we have the Australian ballot or the Maltese ballot; it matters not whether we have the secret ballot or the viva voce ballot - aye, if it comes to it, it should not matter whether we have the ballot at all. All such "improvements" - like the modern "ballot reforms" and schemes for "referendums," "initiative," "election of Federal Senators by popular vote," and what not - are, in the very nature of things, so many lures to allow the revolutionary heat to radiate into vacancy. They are even worse than that: they are opportunities for the usurper to prosecute his own usurpatory purposes under the guise, aye, with the aid and plaudits of his victims, who imagine they are commanding, he obeying their bidding - as we see happening to-day. The proletarian's chance to emerge out of the bewildering woods of "Capitalist Issues" is to keep his eyes riveted upon the economic interests of his own Class - the public ownership of the land on and the tools with which to work - without which the cross he bears to-day will wax ever heavier, to be passed on still heavier to his descendants. No "forms" will stead. The Proletarian Revolution Is Relentlessly Logical. Often has the charge been made against the Socialist labor Party that it is "intolerant," that its officers are "unyielding." The Proletarian Revolution can know no "tolerance," because "tolerance" in social dynamics spells "inconsistence." Tiberius Gracchus overlooked the principle, and all that therefrom flows, in his revamped Licinian law. If the Sempronian law meant anything; if the attitude of Tiberius, together with that of the proletarian mass that took him for its paladin, meant anything, it meant that the landlord-plutocracy of Rome was a criminal class - criminal in having plundered the Commonwealth of its estate, doubly criminal in turning its plunder to the purpose of degrading the people and thereby sapping the safety of the State. The only logical conclusion from such premises and posture is a demand for the unconditional surrender of the social felon. The Sempronian law, so far from taking this stand, took the opposite. By its confirmation, implied only though the confirmation was, of proprietary rights in stolen goods, by its provision for indemnity to the robbers, the Gracchian Movement became illogical; it thereby became untrue to itself. It truckled to Usurpation; it thereby emasculated itself.
With the Proletarian Revolution, not a point that it scores, not an act that it commits deliberately, not a claim that it sets forth may be at fisticuffs with one another, or with the principles that they are born of. Capitalism is a Usurpation: the Usurpation must be overthrown, labor produces all wealth: all wealth belongs to Labor. Any act that indicates - or, rather, I shall put it this way: any action that, looking toward "gentleness" or "tolerance" sacrifices the logic of the situation, unnerves the Revolution. With the Proletarian Revolution, every proposition must be abreast of its aspirations; where not, it limps, it stumbles and falls.
Palliatives Are Palliations of Wrong.
Plausible are the phrases concerning the "wisdom of not neglecting small things," and the suggestions to "accept half a loaf where a whole ,loaf cannot yet be had." The Gracchian Movement yielded to this optical illusion. Even the old Licinian law, much more so its revamped form of a Sempronian law,, was cast in that mold. "All that the people were entitled to they could not get." They were to have a "first instalment," a slice of what was due; in short, a palliative. The Gracchian Movement thereby gave itself a fatal stab. If the palliative could trammel up the consequence; if it could be the be-all and end-all here, then, what ills might flow might be ignored as neglectable quantities. But here also the relentless logic of the Proletarian Revolution commends the ingredients of his poisoned chalice to the bungler's own lips. In the first place, the same hand that reaches out the "palliative" to the wronged, reaches out the "palliation" to the wrong.
The two acts are inseparable. The latter is an inevitable consequence of the former. Request a little, when you have a right to the whole, and your request, whatever declamatory rhetoric or abstract scientific verbiage it be accompanied with, works a subscription to the principle that wrongs you. Worse- yet: the "palliative" may or may not - and more frequently yes than otherwise - be wholly visionary; the "palliation," however is ever tangible; tangible to feeling as to sight; no visionariness there. The palliative, accordingly, ever steels the wrong that is palliationed. In the second place, the palliative works the evil of inoculating the Revolutionary Force with a fundamental misconception of the nature of the foe it has to deal with. The tiger will defend the tips of his mustache with the same ferocity that he will defend his very heart. It is an instinctive process. The recourse to palliatives proceeds from, and it imperceptibly inculcates the theory that he would not. It proceeds from the theory that the Capitalist Class will allow itself to be "pared off" to death. A fatal illusion. The body of Tiberius Gracchus, mangled to death by the landlord-plutocratic tiger of Rome, sounds the warning against the illusion. The tiger of Capitalism will protect its superfluities with the same ferocity that it will protect its very existence. Nothing is gained on the road of palliatives; all may be lost.
The Proletarian Revolution Brings Along Its Own Code.
When, at the critical stage of the revolution he was active in Tiberius Gracchus took a "short cut across lots," and removed, regardless of "legality," the colleague that blocked his way, consciously or unconsciously he acted obedient to that canon of the Proletarian Revolution that it must march by its own light, look to itself alone, and that, whatever act it contemplates, it judges by the Code of Law, that, though as yet unformulated into statute,-it is carrying in its own womb. When, afterwards, Tiberius looked for justification to the laws of the very class that he was arrayed against, he slided off the revolutionary plane, and dragged his revolution down, along with himself. The revolutionist who seeks the cloak of "legality," is a revolutionist spent. He is a boy playing at soldier. It was at the Denver Convention of the American Federation of Labor,in 1894, that a scene took place which throws much light on the bearing of this particular point on the Movement of our own days. The A. F. of L. at a previous Convention, had ordered a general vote upon a certain "declaration of principles." Among these principles there was one, the tenth, which a certain class of people, who called themselves Socialists, were chuckling over with naive delight. They claimed it was "Socialistic." One of their number had bravely smuggled it into the said "declarations." They were by that maneuver to capture the old style Trades Unions, and thereby "tie the hands of the Labor Leaders." For a whole year these revolutionists had been chuckling gaily and more loudly. The Unions actually polled a majority for all the "principles," the celebrated "Plank 10" included. At the Denver Convention the vote was to be canvassed; but the Labor Leaders in control threw out the vote on the, to them, good and sufficient reason that "the rank and file did not know what they had been voting for." That is not the point; that it only the background for the point I am coming to. But before coming to that, let me here state that the rank and file meekly submitted to such treatment.
The point lies in a droll scene that took place during the debate to throw out that vote. The scene was this: The revolutionist who had surreptitiously introduced "Plank 10" in the "declaration of principles," and thereby schemed to capture the Unions by ambush, a gentleman of English Social Democratic Federation antecedents, one Thomas J, Morgan, now of Chicago, was storming in that Denver Convention against the Labor Leaders' design to throw out his "Plank 10," and incidentally, as he expressed it himself, was "putting in fine licks for Socialism." Suddenly his flow of oratory was checked. A notorious Labor Leader, to whom the cigar manufacturers of America owe no slight debt of gratitude, Mr. Adolf Strasser of the International Cigarmakers' Union, had risen across the convention hall and put in: "Will the gentleman allow me a question?" "Certainly." "Do you favor confiscation?" The answer is still due. Mr. Morgan collapsed like a punctured toy-balloon. The scene should have been engraved to preserve for all time pictorially the emasculating effect of ignorance of this canon of the Proletarian Revolution upon that venturesome man who presumes to tread, especially as a leader, the path of Social Revolution, notwithstanding he lacks the mental and physical fiber to absorb in his system the canon here under consideration.
As I said, the Proletarian Revolution marches by its own light; its acts are to be judged by the Code of Legality that itself carries in its folds, not by the standard of the existing Law, which is but the reflex of existing Usurpation. Indeed, in that respect, the Proletarian Revolution shares a feature of all previous revolutions, the Capitalist Revolution included. A new Social System brings along a new Code of Morals. The morality of the Code that the Proletarian Revolution is impregnated with reads like a geometric demonstration: Labor alone produces all wealth, Idleness can produce maggots only; the wealth of the land is in the hands of Idleness, the hands of Labor are empty; such hard conditions are due to the private ownership by the Idle or Capitalist Class of the land on and the tools with which to work; work has become collective, the things needed to work with must, therefore, also become collective property; get from under whosoever stands in the way of the inevitable deduction, by what name soever he may please to call it! Accordingly, no militant in the modern Proletarian Revolution can be knocked all of a heap by the howl of "Confiscation."
Plutarch, whom Prof Lieber shrewdly suspects of responsibility for much of the revolutionary promptings of modern days, touching upon these two acts of Tiberius Gracchus, produces without comment - a severe sarcasm in itself - Tiberius's elaborate legal plea in defense of his removal of his colleague. A revolution that needs to apologize for itself had better quit. And he comments upon the Sempronian law in these touchingly incisive terms: "There never was a milder law made against so much injustice and oppression; for they who deserved to have been punished for their infringement of the rights of the community, and fined for holding the lands contrary to law, were to have a consideration for giving up their groundless claims, and restoring the estates of such of the citizens as were to be relieved." Preach to the Proletariat, in the most convincing way a man may please, the abstract principles of their own, the Socialist Revolution, and then let that man seek to sugar-coat the dose with suggestions or acts that imply the idea of "buying out the capitalists," and he has simply wiped out clean, for all practical purposes, all he said before: he has deprived the Revolution of its own premises, its pulse of its own warmth.
The Proletarian Revolution is "Irreverent."
Karl Marx - the distinctive feature of whose philosophy is that it stands with its feet on earth, and is supremely practical - throws out, right in the midst of an abstract economic chapter, the point, that it is essential to the stability of Capitalism that the Proletarian look upon the conditions surrounding him as of all time. Reverence of the blind type is a fruit of latter-day Capitalism. Starting as an iconoclast, the capitalist winds up as a maw-worm. And it is essential to his safety that the proletarian masses take him seriously. The root of this blind reverence is the belief in the antiquity of the subject revered; and that implies the future, as well as the past. Capitalism, along with its gods, its gods along with it, are all pronounced "sacred," "ever were and ever will be, life without end." The capitalist foments such "reverence"; and, while he pushes his parsons forward to do the work, he holds himself out as the High Priest. The Usurper ever needs the cloak of sanctity; and therefore it is of importance to strip him bare of the cover. The posture of Tiberius materially played into the hands of this useful capitalist deception. He cultivated reverence for the Magistracy. The plea in defence of his deposition of his colleague was a sanctification of the class of, the Usurper. It riveted superstitious awe on the minds of the proletariat, whose striking arm never could be free until its mind was emancipated. When the reverenceful proletarians trampled over one another, reverently to make way for the Senators, who, sticks and staves and broken furniture in hand, rushed forward to slay Tiberius, the luckless reformer could not have failed to notice that the arrow that killed him was steadied by a feather plucked from his own reformatory opinions.
Irreverence - not the irreverence of insolence, which is the sign-manual of the weak, but the self-sustained irreverence that is the sign-manual of the consciously strong because consciously sound - is one of the inspiring breaths of the Proletarian Revolution. Reverence for the Usurper denotes mental, with resulting physical, subjection to Usurpation.
The Proletarian Revolution is Self-Reliant.
The tactics of Gaius Gracchus in seeking support or protection in the Equestrian Order, by raising it to Senatorial powers, was a grave tactical misstep. Instead of inspiring the Proletarian Movement with self-reliance, he thereby trained it to lean on others than itself. The Proletarian Revolution must, under no circumstances, play the role of the horse in the fable. You know the fable? It is a pretty one. A horse was being harassed by a lion. The horse found that his opportunities to graze were impaired by that roaring beast that lay low in the bushes and threatened to jump upon him, and frequently did jump upon him, and not infrequently scratched him to the point of bleeding; so that the horse, finding the area of his pasture narrowing, and his life threatened either way, entered into a compact with a man. According to agreement, the man mounted the horse, and by their joint efforts the lion was laid low. But never again could the horse rid himself of the man on his back. By the action with which he clothed the Equestrian Order with the powers it had not formerly wielded, Gaius Gracchus certainly weakened the Senate, but he thereby also, and in the same measure, extended the number of the political participants in the political usurpations, that had backed and brought on the social distress which he was combating. The Equestrian Order was of the identical claw that profited by the Senatorial iniquities. By setting up the Equestrian Order with powers formerly wielded by the Senate alone, Gaius Gracchus was safer from the latter, but only in the sense that the horse in the fable was from the quarter of the lion after his alliance with the man. Gaius, like the horse, had saddled himself with a master. And the hour came when the master rode him to his deaths.
That it is a waste of time and energy for the proletariat to knock down the Democratic party, however oppressive that party may be, if the knocking down is to be done by saddling itself with the Republican party, a partner of the Democratic oppressor; that, however resentful the proletariat may be at a Republican President or Governor, who throws the armed force of the State or Nation into the capitalist scales in the conflicts between employer and employee, it were a mere waste of energy to substitute them with their Democratic doubles: all that is elemental. The absurdity is illustrated by the fate of the horse in the fable: There can be no real knocking down of either party until they are both simultaneously knocked down; that knockdown blow is in the power of the proletariat only. All this is elemental. But equally elemental, though the point be more hidden, should the principle be that the Proletarian Revolution must not only not seek, but must avoid, as it would a pestilence, all alliance with any other class in its struggles, or even its skirmishes, with the Capitalist Class, the landlord plutocracy of to-day. Here, again, the peculiar weakness of the proletariat, the proneness to yield to lures, manifests itself, and needs watchful guarding against by its Movement. There is no social or economic class in modern society below the proletariat. It is the last on the list. If there were other classes below it, the Proletarian Revolution would not be what it is, the first of all with a world-wide, humane programme. All other classes, while seeking their own emancipation from the class that happened to be above, were grounded on the subjection of a class below. The Proletarian Revolution alone means the abolition of Class Rule.
It follows from such a lay of the land that any class the proletariat may ally itself with must, though oppressed from above, itself be a fleecers' class; in other words, must be a class whose class interests rest on the subjugation of workers. Such a class is the modern Middle Class. It, like the man in the fable I have just recited, can ally itself with the proletariat only with the design to ride it. However plausible its slogans, they are only lures. So long as a Proletarian Movement seeks for "alliances abroad," it demonstrates that it has not yet got its "sea legs." Any such move or measure can only deprive it of whatever chance it had to develop and acquire them. The Proletarian Revolution is self-reliant. It is sufficient unto itself.
The Proletarian Revolution Spurns Sops.
Sops are not palliatives. The two differ essentially. I have explained the palliative. The sop is not a "slice," an "instalment" ladled out in advance, of what one is entitled to. It is an "extra," a "bon-bon," a narcotic, thrown out to soothe. Accordingly, the sop adds as little to the character and directness of a Movement as does the palliative. The essential feature of the sop is, however, that it is a broken reed on which to lean, a thing no clear-headed revolutionist will ever resort to. It was upon just such a reed Gaius Gracchus sought support when he proposed the establishment of three colonies for the relief of the Roman proletariat. What could these colonies accomplish? In the first place they were in the nature of a desertion. The colonists were to leave Rome, the soil of Italy, in short, the battle ground, to set up far away in Africa, in Spain, in Sardinia. But, above all, in what way could colonies relieve the distress in Rome, unless undertaken on a gigantic scale; that is to say, on a scale of wholesale migration from the city? And that would nullify their very purpose. At any rate to propose only three colonies was the merest sop thrown at his army. The revolutionist must never throw sops at the revolutionary element. The instant he does, he places himself at the mercy of the foe: he can always be out-sopped. And so was Gaius Gracchus. The proposition for twelve colonies with which the patriciate answered Gaius's proposition for three, completely neutralized the latter, leaving the "honors" on the side of the patriciate. Nursed at the teat of the sop, the Roman proletariat decamped to where they could get the largest quantities of that commodity. And that, more than any other thing, stripped Gaius of his forces. Once he was deserted and downed, the bigger sop of twelve colonies never materialized. It had answered its narcotic purpose, and was dropped.
On this very point, there is an all-round remarkable illustration, fresh from the oven. I here read to you a telegram sent from Chicago on April 2nd - only two weeks ago - to the Milwaukee Social Democratic Herald, and signed "Jacob Winnen." Referring to the vote polled in Chicago by a capitalist party proposition for "municipal ownership" the day before, the Social Democratic Winnen says: "Two-thirds majority cast for municipal ownership shows that Socialism is in the air." The labor field of Chicago has been convulsed a deal more than that of New York. As a result of that, or possibly due to the lake air, the capitalist politicians of Chicago are, if such a thing be possible, "quicker" than even the New York politicians. I admit that is saying a good deal. We have seen, even in New York, "municipal ownership" often, of late, used as a stalking-horse by individual politicians. Unterrified Socialist agitation has familiarized the public mind with Socialist aspirations, though still only in a vague way. The politician, being "broad" besides "quick," has no objection to polling "Socialistic" votes. Being "quick" besides "broad," has no objection to the performance if he can indulge in it by giving the shadow for the substance; all the less if he can thereby run Socialism into the ground. "Municipal ownership" lends itself peculiarly to such purposes. It sounds "Socialistic"; and yet we know the term can conceal the archest anti-labor scheme. His nursery-tale theory concerning his God-given capacity to run industries having suffered shipwreck, the capitalist can find a snug harbor of refuge in "municipal ownership." It is an ideal capitalist sop to catch the sopable. We know all that.
It is in view of all that that the Socialist Labor Party "municipal programme" has been drawn up as it is. It renders the Socialist Labor Party man sop-proof from that side. Accordingly, it is not surprising to find the "municipal ownership" sop or dodge in full blast among the Chicago politicians. It is there in such full blast that in the municipal campaign, which closed there with the election of April 1st, "municipal ownership" was a capitalist party political cry. The platform so declared it, and the speeches of the politicians of that party resounded with "municipal ownership" of railways, of gas plants, of electric plants - well, of everything in sight. And the Chicago politicians had sharp noses; how sharp may be judged from the double circumstance that the Socialist Labor Party vote at the election rose considerably, while the Social Democratic party - with a national platform declaration on "municipal ownership" that plays into the hand of the sop - went down so markedly that its statisticians have had to seek shelter for their diminished heads behind "percentages." Such, then, was the situation in Chicago. The intelligent Socialist perceives the sop of "municipal ownership" in that campaign; it cannot escape him. The large vote polled for that capitalist "municipal ownership" proposition, so far from smoothing, can only cause his brow to pucker. That vote discloses vast chunks of Socialist education left unattended to; vast masses left so untutored as to be caught by fly-paper. No cause for joy in the phenomenon. And yet this Social Democrat rejoices: "Two thirds majority cast for municipal ownership shows that Socialism is in the air." "In the air!" Very much "in the air" - everywhere, except on Chicago soil. Two-thirds majority cast for a municipal ownership proposition, emanating from a capitalist political party, "shows that Socialism is in the air," and is pointed to with joy! Can you imagine such childish fatuity? For this man, the Gracchi lived and labored, bled and died - in vain ! Let the modern revolutionist try the "municipal ownership" sop, and he will find himself out-municipal-ownershipped. Nothing there is more demagogic than Usurpation. For every one "municipal ownership" he may propose, the Capitalist Class will propose twelve; the same as, for every one colony proposed by Gaius Gracchus, the Senate out-sopped him with a proposition for four, drew his support away from him, and threw the threatened revolution flat on its back. And Gaius Gracchus had himself lent a hand. Every sop thrown by Gaius at the proletariat was a banana peel placed by himself under, their feet. Of course they slipped and fell. Not sops, but the unconditional surrender of capitalism, is the battle-cry of the Proletarian Revolution.
The Proletarian Revolution Is Impelled and Held Together by Reason, Not Rhetoric.
Speech is powerful. No doubt. But all is not said when that is said. The same nature of speech that answers in one instance fails to in another. Whatever the nature may be of the proper speech on other fields, on the field of the Proletarian Revolution it must be marked by sense, not sound; by reason, not rhetoric. The training of the Gracchi, of Gaius in particular, disqualified them in this. They had been tutored from infancy by Greek rhetoricians. Now rhetoric, like a ship, may cleave the waters of the Proletarian Revolution; but these close after it, and presently remain trackless. Organization is a prerequisite of the Proletarian Revolution. It is requisite by reason of the very numbers involved; it is requisite, above all, as a tactical protection against the tactical weakness that I have pointed out in the proletariat as a revolutionary force. Other revolutions could succeed with loose organization and imperfect information. In the first place, they were otherwise ballasted; in the second, being grounded on the slavery of some class, a dumb driven herd of an army could fit in their social architecture. Otherwise with the proletariat. It needs information for ballast as for sails, and its organization must be marked ( with intelligent co-operation. The proletarian army, of emancipation cannot consist of a dumb driven herd. The very idea is a contradiction in terms. Now then, not all the fervid and trained rhetoric at the command of the Gracchi, and lavishly used by them, could take the place of the drill that the Roman proletariat needed on hard, dry information. The Gracchian rhetoric pleaded, entertained, swayed, but did not organize; could not. At the first serious shock, their forces melted away - just as we have seen proletarian forces again and again melt away in our own days. Rhetoric is a weapon of reform; it may plow the ground, it does not sow. The Proletarian Revolution wields the tempered steel of sterner stuff.
The Proletarian Revolution Deals Not in Double Sense.
It is at its peril that a revolution conceals its purpose. This is truest with the Proletarian Revolution. Gaius Gracchus had set his cap against the Senate. He conceived that body to be the embodiment of all evil. That he looked only at the surface of things appears from his conduct in clothing the Equestrian Order - men of the senatorial class - with senatorial powers. Nevertheless, it is the Senate he sought to overthrow. In his mind that was the barrier against social well-being. His revolution aimed at the overthrow of the Senate. But he kept the secret locked in his breast, and only allowed it to peep through by indirection. It is narrated of Gaius that, meaning to convey the idea that not the Senate, but the people, should be considered, he, differently from the orators of old, stood with his face toward the Forum and not toward the Senate, in his public addresses. This was a bit of pantomime, unworthy a great Cause that called for plain language in no uncertain tones. By such conduct Gaius Gracchus could only raise dust over his designs. And that could have for its effect only to weaken him. It could not throw the affronted foe off their guard. On the other hand, it could only keep away forces needful to his purpose, whom straightforward language would attract. It is only the path to servitude that needs the gentle; the path to freedom calls for the ruder hand. Pantomimes, double sense and mummery may answer the purpose of a Movement in which the proletariat acts only the role of dumb driven beasts of burden. Pantomimes, mummery and double sense are utterly repellent to, and repelled by, the Proletarian Revolution.
I stated introductorily to the Canons of the Proletarian Revolution that they dovetailed in one another, seeing they all proceeded from a central principle. That central principle may be now taken up as the tenth of these canons. It sums them all up. You cannot have failed to perceive it peeping through all the others. It is this:
The Proletarian Revolution Is a Character-Builder.
The proletarian organization that means to be tributary to the large army of proletarian emancipation cannot too strenuously guard against aught that may tend to debauch its membership. It must be intent upon promoting the character and moral fibre of the mass. Characterfulness is a distinctive mark of the Proletarian Revolution. Foremost, accordingly, in the long series of Gracchian blunders stands the measure of Gaius for the free distribution of corn. By that act he reduced the Roman proletarian to beggars.
Beggars can only desert and compromise; they cannot carry out a revolution. Their energies consumed with the tinkerings on "forms;" their intellect cracked by illogical postures; their morale ruined by palliatives; the edge of their revolutionary dignity blunted by "precedents;" their mental vigor palsied by the veneration of the unvenerable; their self-reliance broken by leaning on hostile elements; their resolution warped by sops; their minds left vacant with rhetoric; their senses entertained with pantomimes; finally, their character dragged down to the ditch of the beggar - what wonder that, the moment the Roman proletariat were brought to the scratch, they acquitted themselves like beggars, made their peace with the Usurper, and left their leaders in the lurch? The task is unthankful of submitting to rigid criticism the conduct of men of such noble aspirations as the Gracchi. Nevertheless, it must be recorded that, of all the distressing acts of the Gracchi, none compares with the conduct of Gaius when, finding himself forsaken by the masses that himself had debauched and thus virtually driven from him. he implored in the Temple of Diana eternal slavery for them in punishment for their "base ingratitude"- exactly as, in modern times, Utopians, turned reactionist, have been seen to do.
In the course of the first of these "Two Pages from Roman History," I pointed out the serious danger that lurked behind the automatic-mechanical system of reasoning on the domain of the Social Question. The man who would say: "The capitalist lives on the proceeds of labor; the more the capitalist gets, the less there is for the working man; the more the working man gets, the less there is for the capitalist; between the two there is an irrepressible conflict; harmony between them is impossible; therefore Mark Hanna's Industrial Peace Commission is bound to Be a failure" - the man who would say that would speak truly. And yet grave was the blunder shown to be that such conclusion leads to, if it complacently stops there. We saw wherein the danger lay, from a review of the career of the Plebs Leader. Between the patriciate and bourgeois plebeians, on the one hand, and the rest of the Plebeian Order, on the other, there was a conflict as irrepressible as that between Capitalist Class and Working Class. Concord between the two was out of question. Yet we saw what happened. The impossibility of concord between the exploiters and- the exploited of Rome caused neither Camillus's Temple to the Goddess of Concord to crumble, nor the conditions which it actually was a landmark of, to break down. What happened was a continuance of social development. The development moved, we may say, along the resultant of the forces that lay in the "irrepressible conflict," and in the ignorance on the conflict, together with the manner in which it was handled. And we saw how dire the issue. Just so with regard to my present subject. A mechanical, schablone style of reasoning would blind us to the peculiar, the exceptional tactical weakness that the proletariat labors under as a revolutionary force. And the blindness would be fatal.
The Gracchian episode in Roman history supplemented the episode, whose close was marked by Camillus's Temple to the Goddess of Concord. Rough-hewn in the quarry of B. C. to 400 B. C, the proletariat of Rome was 300 years later shaped into final shape in the smithy of the Gracchian tactics. And what was that shape? An army of legions, whose motto was a mockery of the Socialist maxim that we know to-day. The Socialist maxim is: "Workingmen, you have nothing to lose but your chains, and a world to gain !" - a world of human happiness, from your own noble efforts. The maxim that arose in the army of revolution that the Gracchi shaped was: "Proletarians, you have nothing to lose but your weapons, your sword and pike, and a world to gain!" From what? From the favor of your General! How? Through rapine. Would it, in these days of electric rapidity, take 500 years to shape the proletariat of the land into another world-fagot?
As in biology the same elements, submitted to different temperature and atmospheric pressure, will produce different substances, so in sociology. The Socialist Republic will not leap into existence out of the existing social loom, like a yard of calico is turned out by a Northrop loom. Nor will its only possible architect, the Working Class - that is, the wage earner, or wage slave, the modern proletariat - figure in the process as a mechanical force moved mechanically. In other words, the world's theatre of Social Evolution is not a Punch and Judy box, nor are the actors on that world's stage manikins, operated with wires.
As the first of these "Two Pages from Roman History," by drawing attention to a strategic danger that besets the path of the Socialist Movement, pointed to the urgency of proper methods of aggression, so this second Page, "The Warning of the Gracchi," by drawing attention to a tactical weakness of our own forces under fire, points to the precautions that the conditions demand. And we then, to-day, in this country, the country that nearest comes to Rome since Rome went down - well may we look back to the lessons of those days. Well may we take to heart the career of the Plebs Leaders; well may we take to heart the tactical blunders of the Gracchi, and from the one and the other receive a warning for our conduct in this generation.
Lecture 1: Plebs leaders and labor leaders. Part 1.
-- --. Part 2
Lecture 2. The Warning of the Gracchi. Part 1.
-- --. Part 2