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ually on principle. Their aspirations are certainly of a Democratic character, and therefore they are naturally opposed to that personal government which prevailed under Bismarck, and which has been continued under the present Kaiser, who, as soon as he came to the throne, wanted to be "his own Bismarck." Now, were there any possibility of replacing Imperial rule by a Republican one, the tactics of the party in Parliament could be understood, if adopted on the eve of a likely final decision. But such a prospect does not exist. For twenty-five years their prominent speakers have often prophesied "a great Kladderadatsch,” as a Socialist revolution was called in common parlance. But nothing even distantly approaching to it has ever happened.
There was once a considerable chance of the Prussian House of Commonsbefore the constitution of the present Empire coming into revolutionary conIflict with the Crown. It was in the early days of Bismarck's and his King's "budgetless" government. The Liberal and Radical middle class, and many men of the working classes, were deeply moved against despotic kingship. But what happened? Lassalle, the professed Socialist leader, entered into underhand intrigues with Bismarck, promising to rouse the masses against the burgher party, so as to get the latter between two fires. The royal army in front, a demagog cally misled populace in the rear, of the champions of parliamentary privilege were to play the monarchical game!
I can give here some proofs from personal knowledge. In order to fortify himself with the working class in Germany, Lassalle wrote to Louis Blanc, then an exile in London, in a general Socialistic way, for the object of getting from him a kind of testimonial for sincere doctrinal comradeship.
Knowing well how matters stood, I warned my French friend who had shown me the letter. Meanwhile Lassalle, in a speech, came out with a declaration that the House of Hohenzollern, "as the representative of true popular kingship (Volks-Königthum), must, with a firm grip of the hand on the sword, drive the middle class from the stage, with a proclamation of manhood suffrage!"
It is too well known how that Constitutional struggle ended with the triumph of Bismarck and his master who, in 1849, after being victorious in the battles against the popular armies that fought in Rhenish Bavaria and Baden for German freedom and union, had court-martialled a number of his prisoners during a three months' reign of terror. As to Prussian affairs in the 'sixties, universal suffrage was not proclaimed in the least. The Prussian House of Commons remains until today constituted in the same way as before.
Louis Blanc afterwards thanked me heartily for having prevented him from falling into a trap. Later on, Lassalle was shot in a duel. The conflict arose with a Rumanian rival for the hand of a young German lady of aristocratic connection, whom Lassalle wanted to marry in order to give himself a higher social standing, but who had already been very much cooled by his semidiplomatic behavior. In this affair General Klapka, the heroic defender of Komorn during the Hungarian war of independence, played a part as a friend of Lassalle. Klapka, who was also a friend of mine, later on told me that the Countess Hatzfeld (the well-known protectress of Lassalle) had said to him: "If Lassalle had lived six months longer, he would have entered the service of the Prussian Government!"
Yet Lassalle's portrait still figures at Social Democratic party meetings!
I refer to these facts to show how a
popular party, in an epoch of great crisis, can be misled by a self-seeking character. Social Democrats in Germany might learn something from this authenticated occurrence.
Perhaps I may be allowed to add here that the very name of Social Democrat, with the addition of Republican, dates by no means from recent times, as is often erroneously assumed, but from 1848. It was used then in France, and in Germany as well. When we were near having our bodies stretched on the sand-heap by courtmartial bullets, or our heads severed by the executioner's sword, we did not shrink from using the word. The largest possible social reforms were our confessed aim. Not only the fullest unity and freedom, but also the security of our Fatherland, were dear to us. Many held the same doctrines as are preached now; but the large majority even of these felt that it is useless to try forcing a people into what it regards as an impossible Utopia.
Whatever far-reaching system of social transformation men may aspire to, no one with any experience of human nature can doubt that the masses themselves, in spite of all the sufferings of which they have a right to complain, are not prepared to accept a downright Communistic organization of society. In their wretched condition they may eagerly listen to a glowing description of a Golden Age; but they will not, when things come to the point, give up a certain degree of individual freedom. The sensible social reformer has to heed that which has become ingrained in human character during thousands of years. He must show that he is willing and able to work for the practical relief of misery, or else he will suddenly be left alone with his most splendid philosophical pro
grammes of political economy. He must be ready also to take proper care of that first requisite in a nation's life: its security against manifest danger from abroad.
Germany, especially, has good reason not to neglect that latter consideration. She is geographically placed so that she may be attacked from four quarters, on land and on sea. The Thirty Years' War, the Seven Years' War, and the Napoleonic wars have been a severe lesson to her. They sometimes brought her to the verge of annihilation. Surely it speaks much for the prevalence of a spirit of dissatisfaction with home government that, nevertheless, millions of votes, even if only cast in great part by "Mitläufer," are still cast now in Germany for the Social Democratic party. That should be a lesson to Government.
But there is a point at which a lesson also is given to Social Democracy itself. And this lesson has just now been read to it by the loss of so many seats in a number of important towns, which pre-eminently count in politics when large issues are decided.
It is no use saying that, after all, the aggregate Socialist vote has not been diminished, but slightly even increased. Here it must not be forgotten that, proportionally speaking, that increase, as compared with that of the other parties, is exceedingly small; for it has to be remembered that, owing to the rapid growth of the population, as well as to the participation of millions who until now had not voted at all, there has been a vastly larger number of men who exercised the suffrage in 1907 than there were in 1903.
Socialist writers and speakers themselves acknowledge now that they have lost many of their former "Mitläufer," in whom suddenly a patriotic sentiment was awakened when they saw the Pope's band joining the party with which they had allied themselves. The
chief fact, however, is, that the Socialist loss has occurred in the most influential centres of political movement, and of industry and trade. That counts far more than mere numbers in constituencies of second, third, or fourth-rate importance. The fall from eighty-one seats (as they were originally in 1903), or seventy-nine, as they were afterwards, to forty-three-that is to say, to nearly one half-is a rout impossible to get over.
Nor are men wanting both in the advanced and in the more moderate, or "Revisionist," wing of the Social Democratic party who fully acknowledge the tremendous lesson they have received. The defeated Socialist candidate in the first constituency of Berlin, a highly cultured man of University training and standing, has said since before a meeting of his adherents:
Though our organization is satisfactory, we have committed heavy faults in our agitation. Since we have become a party of 3,000,000 we have been
struck with a mental arrogance which has hindered us from a proper manner of agitation. We paraded our strength in braggart manner, and did not understand how to act upon men of another way of thinking. Before Trades Union colleagues, who were not organized, we acted the swaggering part of the superior, invincible Social Democrat, spurning them instead of trying to gain them over. Such people we should not treat as if they were asses, but rather as somewhat backward younger brothers. Therefore, away with that haughty pride, and let us behave as our comrades did years ago!
In the Revisionist camp of the party, still more significant language is held— as, for instance, in the Sozialistische Monatshefte of February. There the old complaints are repeated about the "intolerable suppression of all free discussion at Party Congresses," the "proclamation of dogmas which nobody is allowed to touch, even as is done
in the Catholic Church with its orthodoxy and infallibility." This state of things "leads to an ossification of intellect among the party, and so a ste rility of our whole action." Such procedures are compared to the Romanist "tribunals against heretics," and so forth.
More than that. There are Socialists now who acknowledge that, in the interest of the working classes, a good word might be said for a proper colonial policy; that, after all, the people must live; that it is not advisable to offend the national sentiment, or to act in a way which would only be to the profit of foreign capitalism. In saying this, they point to the betterment which has taken place in the lot of the working class. They declare that the "famine parole," which has been given out by the party leaders in this election, is a manifest exaggeration, and that working men who, from experience of their own, can prove that an amelioration has taken place, are becoming shy of other party dogmas which they cannot control, but which now they suspect; feeling, as they do, that they have been imposed upon on the particular subject with which they are best acquainted from their own daily life.
These avowals of self-knowledge have been produced by this signal electoral defeat; but their scope might yet be extended. So long as the chief leader's declaration is repeated: "I am the mortal foe of the whole civic society!" neither advanced social reforms, nor the movement for greater parliamentary rights, will have much better chance. It is by such needlessly threatening and yet powerless utterances that reactionary and despotic tendencies manage to thrive.
One thing that cannot be omitted by way of explaining the great change
brought about by these elections is this. When it was seen, in Germany, that in the foreign press the Ultramontanes were patted on the back as if they were genuine "Liberal opponents of personal government," whilst the Socialists, with their programme of the nationalization of all means of production, distribution, and communication, were, remarkably enough, compared to "simple English Moderates, or even parliamentary Conservatives," many German readers asked themselves: "What is the meaning of such strange statements? Is it sheer ignorance? Why, that is impossible! If not ignɔrance, what lurks behind this sudden care for our Clericalists and for a party which the very same foreign papers most bitterly fight against at home, as against Utopian Impossibilists and uprooters of the whole foundation of society?"
Then it was suspected that the object was, to encourage two parties "qui hurlent en se trouvant ensemble," as the French phrase is to a common prolonged strife against the powers that be in Germany, so as to throw the country into an interminable strife and utter confusion, and thus to paralyze the nation in general. The German press, I may say, is very well informed, day by day, about foreign affairs and opinions. It is better informed than the English press is from abroad. The effect of the articles in question has, no doubt, been to rally the patriotic sentiment against the "Unholy Alliance."
The idea of describing the Ultramontane, obscurantist, Vaticanist, at heart not patriotic men of the Centre, who mainly go by the counsels and behests of the Pope, as specimens of an Op position against "Personal Government" is too rich not to evoke laughter. Why, they acknowledge the personal government of a foreign priest claiming theocratic dominion over all kings
and all nations, over Monarchies and Republics, in matters both spiritual and temporal!
When the present High Pontiff was installed by his priestly confelerates, it was done in the same audacious words as of old. He was declared to be the Master of all Kings and Princes and nations. There were those who, nevertheless, believed that Pius the Tenth would turn out differently. I foretold in an English magazine at once that this was a hollow hope. Even as of old, there are, besides the White Pope, who bears the Pontifical name, the Black Pope and the Rei Pope of the Inquisition and of the Propaganda, and the whole Jesuitry connected with it. It is the Black Pope and the Red Pope who keep the White Pope up to the mark. If ever he did swerve from the line, the fate of Pope Ganganelli is before him.
The fear of being anathematized by this foreign priest and his dependents of a Church which remains semper eadem, makes it very difficult to diminish the strength of the "Tower" of the Catholic Centre. A Protestant or freeminded Government can only overcome its influence by a Progressist policy. It is to the discredit of successive inperial administrations in Germany that they have so long humored this mediævalist party by concessions, in order to get support from it for the personal policy of the head of the Empire. Often enough, however, even as in the Middle Ages, a conflict arose between the two-so much so that Bismarck once spoke the winged word: "To Canossa we shall never go!"
It was a well-known allusion to the fate of Henry the Fourth. In windy weather, in deep snow, he had to do penance, during several days, clad in a shirt, in the courtyard of the castle of Canossa, in Italy, whilst the haughty Bishop of Rome, and-to speak politely -his lady friend, looked down from
the window upon this edifying spectacle of a king's humiliation. In honor of Bismarck's saying, a column was erected in the Harz Mountains, with the words in question as an inscription. But then Bismarck, rather than give up his own autocratic ways towards a refractory Parliament, did "go to Canossa"! He at last yielded to the Centre, against whose obscurantist doings the "Kulturkampf" had been initiated, as our friend, Virchow, the great scientist, had called it.
To cap the deplorable issue, the column in the Harz Mountains was one day struck by lightning and split. Thereupon the priestlings of the Centre, always ready with their stock of supernatural miracles, exclaimed that the "finger of God" had done it. A class of the population which remains subject to such religious teaching will always be difficult to wean from religious and political superstition. That is the whole secret of the continued strength of the "Centre" in the Reichstag. It has come back with an increase of two or three seats gained, whereas those of its late Social Democratic ally were so vastly diminished.
It is truly a pity that, in some cases, the Socialist party in various constituencies, for the second ballots, advised its own adherents to vote, by preference, for a partisan of the Ultramontane Centre, rather than for a Liberal! On the contrary, in some other constituencies, the Radical, Progressist, or Democratic parties advised their friends to vote even rather for a Socialist than for a follower of the Vaticanist gang. To see Socialists as "Mitläufer" of that band of monkish obscurantists who yearn for the recall of the Jesuits is, indeed, a sorry spectacle.
As a means of avoiding true parliamentary government, the same pol
icy of underhand negotiations with the Ultramontanes as had finally been yielded to by Bismarck, was carried on under subsequent Chancellors. Prince Bülow was sadly at fault in this. Things would, nevertheless, not have come to that pass had not that section of Liberals, who are called "National Liberals," in the course of years approached more and more to the reactionary group in Parliament, and had not the more advanced Progressists and Democrats split up into three groups. Amidst such divisions, Court policy and Jesuitical craftiness easily ruled the roost.
However, of late, all over Germany a movement has made itself felt for rising against the unbearable personal interference of the Crown. When matters became worse and worse, men remembered that the National Parliament of 1848-49-but for the previous existence of which the present Reichstag would never have come into life-had claimed and actually exercised supreme power. It did so literally in the name of the "Sovereignty of the People" until it was destroyed by force of arms. There are still not a few men alive who were active in those days of a great upheaval.
It is a noteworthy fact that during the last session of the Reichstag even a foremost leader of the National Liberals denounced "personal government" in remarkably strong terms. He did not shrink from hints at the Emperor's person. This unexpected spectacle showed which way the wind blew. Prince Bülow and William the Second himself, no doubt, understood it as a sign of the times.
It was observed, during the electioneering campaign, that the bearing of the Kaiser towards the municipality of Berlin had latterly changed in a remarkable degree. Formerly, it was stated in the Progressist press, he often showed the City Fathers a frowning.