Karl Marx

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We need only turn our eyes eastward to see how such "intellectuals" will hail the revolution of the propertiless. Despite the onslaughts of the capitalist powers, the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic has lived[Pg 48] long enough to show the sort of help socialists may expect from the Kerenskys. Men of this calibre, "people whose interests lie in the opposite direction," even if they "are carried away by the new ideas and enter the lists for the new order of things" (Boudin, The Theoretical System of Karl Marx, 1918), are aghast when the real revolution comes, and endeavour to lay the red spectre they have helped to conjure up.

In truth, a revolution foredoomed to failure would be that of proletarians who should depend in large measure upon the support of disgruntled intellectuals. A serf's life was on the average better than that of a chattel slave; a wage labourer's life is on the average better than was that of slave or serf. But neither the replacement of slavery by feudalism, nor the replacement of feudalism by capitalism, secured the emancipation of labour in any adequate sense of that term. All that a proletarian revolution carried through with the help of[Pg 49] middle-class intellectuals is likely to bring about is some form of Fabian collectivism or state capitalism—in a word, the servile state. As far as the productive labourers are concerned the revolution would be a sham. The form of the state might be revolutionised, but the authoritative state would endure, and production would be effected, not by the free, but by the coercive association of labour.

What Loria has failed to recognise is that the conditions of the problem are now radically changed. As he says, in the old revolutions the rebels were divided and disorganised, were not sure of themselves, and were uncertain of the ends they would attain. As far as the workers were concerned, revolt only was possible, not revolution. It is otherwise to-day; and still more will it be otherwise the day after to-morrow. Thanks to the new forms of organisation now being worked out: thanks to industrial unionism and the growth of the workers committees and shop stewards[Pg 50] movements; and thanks above all to independent working class education, which is forging the new weapons and simultaneously teaching the workers how to use them, which is fashioning the limbs of the co-operative commonwealth within the womb of the capitalist order—thanks to all these things, the workers of the day after to-morrow need not put their trust in the frail reed of the support of intellectuals. Once more we raise the Marxist slogan and cry: "The emancipation of the workers must be the work of the workers themselves."

And if we modify another Marxist watchword, quoted on p. 154 below, that force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one, it is only to say that, while we do not repudiate force (which the skilled accoucheur ever has in reserve), new times bring new methods. The self-educated workers of the future may have no occasion to use force, and certainly need not await the aid of Loria's[Pg 51] unproductive labourers. For the day draws nigh, and on that day the workers will achieve their own salvation. They will achieve the salvation of all the workers, and indeed of all the world of man; but it will not be all the workers that will actively participate. No more will be possible than that there should be a considerable minority of educated workers. A minority they must inevitably remain until after the social revolution; but a little leaven can leaven a large lump. The midwife of revolution is not force but—independent working class education.

In a word, the "dynamogenic function" of which Loria speaks (infra pp. 159 and 160), attaches not to poverty but to slavery. The poor have seldom failed to realise their poverty, and poverty when extreme has at times led to revolt; but it is the new realisation of the slavery of wagedom that is organising the workers for the social revolution. By means of Marxist education "the proletarian is [Pg 52]breaking his chains and entering upon an era of conscious and glorious freedom."

Do we seem to imply that there is no place in our movement for middle-class intellectuals? Such is not our meaning. They have played in the past a rôle of supreme importance, and may still have a notable part to play in the future. But the intellectuals for whom there is a place are not the kind of intellectuals described in Loria's theory of revolution, and the rôle of the intellectual is no longer the one which he assigns. It is not those intellectuals who are dissatisfied with their reallotment of income, not those who are discontented with their ration of loaves and fishes, not those who sigh for the vanishing cakes and ale, who will help the coming of the definitive social revolution. Rarely indeed, too, is the function of the socialist intellectual the function of leadership. To an increasing extent, under the new conditions, he tends to be no more than the fifth wheel of the revolutionary coach.

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The right sort of intellectual had a function in the past; it was to help the workers to overcome their division and disorganisation, to help them to be sure of themselves, to help them to clear views of the ends they must attain. That work is afoot. The ferment has been created: created by such men as Marx, whose abilities would have secured him ease, comfort, wealth, had he made his peace with bourgeoisdom, but who was a revolutionist by deliberate choice; by such men as Engels, a well-to-do manufacturer; by such men as Loria himself, a university professor; by such men as the American, Scott Nearing, who recently forfeited his academic position because he would not keep the class struggle out of his lectures on economics. Can it be said that men like Herzen, Bakunin, and Kropotkin, have been, or that men like Trotzky and Lenin are, the disgruntled intellectuals of Loria's theory of revolution? Quite apart from leadership under such peculiar conditions as obtain in[Pg 54] Russia, there is work for socialist intellectuals, the work of promoting independent working-class education, the work of assisting in the spread of the ferment generated by the writings of earlier revolutionary thinkers.

Our conviction that we ourselves, declassed bourgeois, have a modest function, that though not part of the team, not even spokes of a fifth wheel, we may at least help to complete the outfit as little dogs under the waggon, is witnessed by our translation of Achille Loria's monograph on Karl Marx.

Eden and Cedar Paul.

   The Centenary of Karl Marx.

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It is unquestionably one of the strangest of anomalies exhibited by the polychrome flora of human thought that revolutionary blossoms should so frequently spring from aristocratic seeds, and that the most incendiary and rebellious spirits should emerge from a domestic and social environment compounded of conservatism and reaction. Yet when we look closely into the matter, we find it less strange than it may have appeared at first sight. It is, in fact, not difficult to understand that those only who live in a certain milieu can fully apprehend its vices and its constitutional defects, which are hidden as by a cloud from those who live elsewhere.

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