Woman under socialism
by August Bebel
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Moreover the agricultural fields of Ireland are, in great measure, in the hands of a large number of small tenants, who are not able to cultivate the land in the most profitable manner. Thus Ireland presents the aspect of a country that is retrogressing from an agricultural into a pastoral condition. The population, that at the beginning of the nineteenth century was over eight million strong, has declined to about five million, and still several millions are "in excess." Ireland's normal state of rebellion against England is thus easily explained; and yet the struggle of the "Home Ruler" aims only at the creation of an Irish landlord class and no wise carries the wished-for deliverance to the mass of the Irish people. The Irish people will perceive that so soon as the Home Ruler shall carry out his plans. Scotland presents a picture similar to that of Ireland with regard to the ownership and cultivation of its soil.[231]

A similar development reappears in Hungary, a country that entered upon the modern field of development only recently. Hungary, a land in point of the fertility of her soil, as rich as few in Europe, is overloaded with debt, and her population, pauperized and in the hands of usurers, emigrates in large numbers. Hungary's soil is now concentrated in the hands of modern capitalist magnates, who carry on a ruinous system of cultivation in forest and field so that Hungary is not far from the time when it will have ceased to be a grain exporting country. It is quite similarly with Italy. In Italy, just as in Germany, the political unity of the nation has taken capitalist development powerfully under the arm; but the thrifty peasants of Piedmont and Lombardy, of Tuscany, Romagna and Sicily are ever more impoverished and go to ruin. Swamps and moors are reappearing on the sites occupied but recently by the well cultivated gardens and fields of small peasants. Before the very gates of Rome, in the so-called Campagna, a hundred thousand hectares of land lie fallow in a region that once was the "garden of Rome." Swamps cover the ground, and exhale their poisonous miasmas. If, with the application of the proper means the Campagna were thoroughly drained and properly irrigated, the population of Rome would have a fertile source of food. But Italy suffers of the ambition to become a "leading power:" she is ruining herself with military and naval armaments and with African colonization plans, and, consequently, has no funds left for such tasks as the reclaiming of the Campagna for cultivation. And as the Campagna, so are South Italy and particularly Sicily. The latter, once the granary of Rome, sinks ever more into deepening poverty. There is no more sucked-out, poverty-stricken and maltreated people in all Europe than the Sicilian. The easily-contented sons of the most beautiful region of all Europe overrun half Europe and the United States as lowerers of wages because they care not to starve to death upon the native soil that has ceased to be their property. Malaria, that frightful fever, is spreading over Italy to an extent that, frightened at the prospect, the government instituted in 1882 an investigation, which brought to light the deplorable fact that, of the 69 provinces of the country, 32 were severely afflicted by the disease, 32 were infected, and only 5 had so far remained free. The disease, once known only in the rural districts, penetrated the cities, where the urban, increased by the rural proletariat, constitutes a center of infection.

These facts, together with what has been said touching the effects and results of the capitalist system of production, teach us that want and misery with the masses are not the results of insufficiency in the means of existence, but of an unequal distribution, that furnishes some with a superfluity and condemns others to privation. It causes the destruction and squandering of supplies, and, along with that, negligence in producing these. The Malthusian assertions have sense only from the standpoint of the system of capitalist production. Whoever stands on that principle has every reason to defend it, otherwise the ground would slip from under him.

On the other side, however, the capitalist system itself favors the production of children, in so far as it needs cheap "hands" in the shape of such in its factories. The begetting of children, moreover, often becomes a matter of calculation with the proletariat. They cost the parents little or nothing: they soon earn their own support. In the house industries the proletarian is even obliged to have many children: they equip him all the better for the competitive struggle. It certainly is an abominable system: it conceals the pauperization of the workingman and it provokes his own rendering of himself superfluous through the children who work for the most miserable of wages. The immorality and harmfulness of this system are obvious, and they spread with the extension of capitalism. It is precisely for that reason that the bourgeois ideologists—and all bourgeois economists are that—defend the Malthusian theories. Hence in Germany also and in particular the notion of "over-production" ever finds support among the bourgeoisie. Capital is the innocent defendant, the workingman is the criminal.

Unfortunately, however, for this theory Germany has "superfluity," not of proletarians only, but also of "intellectuals." Capital brings about not only an over-production of soil, goods, workingmen, women and children, but also of "officials and learning"—as we shall show. There is only one thing that is not "superfluous" in this capitalist world—capital and its owner, the capitalist.

If the capitalist economists are Malthusians they are simply what their capitalist interests compel them to be. Only, they should not shift their bourgeois whims to the shoulders of Socialist society. John Stuart Mill says among other things: "But Communism is precisely the state of things in which opinion might be expected to declare itself with greatest intensity against this kind of selfish intemperance. An augmentation of numbers which diminished the comfort or increased the toil of the mass, would then cause (which now it does not) immediate and unmistakable inconvenience to every individual in the association; inconvenience which could not then be imputed to the avarice of employers, or the unjust privileges of the rich. In such altered circumstances, opinion could not fail to reprobate, and if reprobation did not suffice, to repress by penalties of some description, this or any other culpable self-indulgence at the expense of the community. The Communistic scheme, instead of being peculiarly open to the objection drawn from danger of over-population, has the recommendation of tending in an especial degree to the prevention of that evil." And Prof. Ad. Wagner says: "Least of all could freedom of marriage or freedom of procreation be tolerated in a Socialist community."[232] These authors proceed from the theory that the tendency towards over-population is one common to all social conditions, but both allow that Socialism is better able than any other social system to establish the equilibrium between population and food. The latter is true, not so the former.

True enough, there were one time Socialists, who, tainted by the Malthusian theories, perceived the "imminent danger" of over-population. But these Socialist Malthusians have disappeared. A clearer insight into the nature of bourgeois society, together with the fact that, judging from the plaintive songs of our Agrarians, we produce not too little but too much food, and that the resulting low prices render the production of foodstuffs unprofitable, has enlightened them on the subject.

A part of our Malthusians imagine—and the chorus of the mouth-pieces of the bourgeoisie parrot-like echo their utterances—that a Socialist society, in which there is freedom in the choice of love and ample provision for a livelihood worthy of human beings, must soon degenerate into a rabbit warren: it would succumb to excessive sexual indulgence and to excessive procreation. Exactly the reverse is most likely to happen, as certain observations go to prove. Until now the largest number of children were had, not by the best, but by the worst situated. It may even be said without being guilty of exaggeration: the poorer the condition of a proletarian stratum, the more numerous also is its average blessing of children, conceding exceptions here and there. Even Virchow confirms this. He says: "As the English workingman in his deepest degradation, in the utter vacancy of the mind, finally knows but two sources of enjoyment, drunkenness and coition, so did the population of Upper Silesia, until recent years, concentrate all its wishes, all its desires upon these two things. Liquor and the gratification of sexual cravings had become sovereign with it. Hence it is easy to understand that its population gained as rapidly in numbers as it lost in physical vigor and moral fibre." Karl Marx expresses himself similarly when he says in "Capital:" "As a matter of fact, not only the number of births and deaths but the absolute size of families is in reverse ratio to the height of wages, i. e., to the means of subsistence which the various categories of workmen have at their disposal. This law of capitalist society would sound absurd among savages, or even civilized colonists. It reminds us of the enormous power of reproduction among animals that are individually weak and much hunted down;" and Marx furthermore quotes Laing, who says: "If all the world were in comfortable circumstances, the earth would soon be depopulated." We see Laing's views are opposed to Malthus: he is of the opinion that a good living is not conducive to the increase but to the decrease of births. In the same vein says Herbert Spencer: "Always and everywhere progress and procreative capacity are opposed to each other. It follows that the higher development, that mankind looks forward to, will probably have as a result a decline in procreation."

Thus we see men, who otherwise differ, absolutely at one on this head, and their views coincide wholly with ours.

The whole question of population could be practically disposed of off hand with the observation that there is no danger of over-population within sight: we find ourselves in front of such a superabundance of food, which even threatens to increase, that the greatest worry, now afflicting the producers of means of subsistence, is to furnish this wealth of food at tolerable prices. A rapid increase of consumers would even be the most desirable thing for producers. But our Malthusians are tireless in the raising of objections: thus we are forced to meet these, lest they have the excuse that they can not be refuted.

They claim that the danger of an over-population in a not-distant future lies in the law of a "decreasing yield of the soil." Our fields become "tired of cultivation;" increasing crops are no longer to be looked for; seeing that fields, fit for cultivation, become daily rarer, the danger of a scarcity of food is imminent, if the population continue to increase. We believe to have proved beyond doubt, in the passages on the agricultural utilization of the soil, what enormous progress mankind can make with respect to the acquisition of new masses of nutriment. But we shall give further illustrations. A very able landlord of wide acres and economist of acknowledged worth, a man, accordingly who excelled Malthus in both respects, said as early as 1850—a time when chemical agriculture was still in its swaddling clothes—on the subject of agricultural production: "The productivity of raw products, especially foodstuffs, will in future no longer lag behind the productivity of the factory and of transportation.... Chemical agriculture has only started in our days to open to agriculture prospects that will no doubt lead to many false roads, but that in the end will place the production of foodstuffs as fully in the power of society, as it lies now in its power to furnish yards of cloth, if but the requisite supply of wool is at hand."[233]

Justus v. Liebig, the founder of chemical agriculture, holds that "if human labor and manure are available in sufficient quantity, the soil is inexhaustible, and can yield uninterruptedly the richest harvests." The "law of a decreasing yield of the soil" is a Malthusian notion, that had its justification at a time when agriculture was in an undeveloped state; the notion has long since been refuted by science and experience. The law is rather this: "The yield of a soil stands in direct ratio to the human labor expended (science and technique being included), and to the proper fertilizers applied to it." If it was possible for small-peasant France to more than quadruple the yield of her soil during the last ninety years, without the population even doubling, much better results are to be expected from a Socialist society. Our Malthusians, furthermore, overlook the fact that, under our existing conditions, not our soil merely is to be taken into account, but the soil of the whole earth, that is, to a great extent, territories whose fertility yields twenty, thirty and many more times as much as our corresponding fields of the same size. The earth is now extensively appropriated by man; nevertheless, a small fraction excepted, it is nowhere cultivated and utilized as it could be cultivated and utilized. Not Great Britain alone could, as has been shown, produce a much larger quantity of food than she does to-day, but France, Germany, Austria and to a still much greater extent the other countries of Europe also could do the same. In little Wurtemberg, with her 879,970 hectares of grain soil, the mere application of the steam plow would raise the average crop of 6,410,000 to 9,000,000 cwts.

European Russia—measured by the present standard of the population of Germany—would be able to nourish, instead of her present population, of 90,000,000, one of 475,000,000 souls. To-day European Russia has about 1,000 inhabitants to the square mile, Saxony over 12,000.

The objection that Russia contains vast stretches of territory, whose climate renders impossible any higher degree of cultivation, is true; on the other hand, however, she has to the south a climate and fertility of soil by far unknown in Germany. Then, again, due to the denseness of population and the improved cultivation of soil therewith connected, such as clearings of woods, draining, etc., changes, wholly unmeasureable to-day, will be brought on in climate. Wherever man aggregates in large numbers climatic changes are perceived. To-day we attach too little importance to this phenomenon; we are even unable to realize the same to its full extent, seeing that we have no occasion therefor, and, as things are to-day, lack the means to undertake the needed experiments on an adequate scale. Furthermore, all travelers are agreed that in the high latitudes of Northern Siberia, where spring, summer and autumn crowd together in rapid succession within a few months, an astonishing luxuriance of vegetation suddenly springs forth. Thus Sweden and Norway, to-day so sparsely populated, would, with their mammoth woods and positively inexhaustible mineral wealth, their numerous rivers and long stretch of coast lines, furnish rich sources of food for a dense population. The requisite means and appliances are not obtainable under present circumstances, and thus even that sparse population casts off its shoals of emigrants.

What may be said of the north applies with still more force to the south of Europe—Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, the Danubian States, Hungary, Turkey, etc. A climate of surpassing quality, a soil so luxuriant and fertile as is hardly found in the best regions of the United States, will some day furnish an abundance of food to unnumbered people. The decrepit political and social conditions of those countries cause hundreds of thousands of our own people to prefer crossing the ocean rather than to settle in those much nearer and more comfortably located States. Soon as rational social conditions and international relations will prevail there, new millions of people will be needed to raise those large and fertile lands to a higher grade of civilization.

In order to be able to reach materially higher rungs on the ladder of civilization we shall, for a long time to come, have in Europe, not a superfluity, but a dearth of people. Under such circumstances, it is an absurdity to yield to the fear of over-population. It must ever be kept in mind that the utilization of existing sources of food, by the application of science and labor, knows no limit: every day brings new discoveries and inventions which increase the yield of the sources of food.

If we pass from Europe to the other parts of the earth, the lack of people and the excess of soil is still more glaring. The most luxuriant and fruitful lands of the earth still lie wholly or almost wholly idle: the work of bringing them under cultivation and turning them to use can not be undertaken with a few hundred or thousand people: it demands mass colonizations of many millions in order to be able to bring the but-too-luxuriant Nature under human control. Under this head belong, among others, Central and South America—a territory of hundreds of thousands of square miles. Argentina, for instance, had in 1892 about 5,000,000 hectares under cultivation, the country has, however, 96,000,000 hectares at its disposal. The soil of South America, fit for the cultivation of corn and lying fallow, is estimated at 200,000,000 hectares, at least. The United States, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain and Ireland, Germany and France have all together only about 105,000,000 hectares devoted to cereals. Carey maintains that the 360-mile long valley of the Orinoco alone could furnish enough food to supply the whole present human race. Let us halve the estimate, and there is still an abundance. At any rate, South America alone could feed the majority of the population now extant on earth. The nutritive value of a field planted with banana trees and one of equal size planted with wheat stands as 133 to 1. While our wheat yields in favorable soil 12 to 20 times its seed, rice in its home yields 80 to 100, maize 250 to 300 times as much. In many regions, the Philippine Islands among them, the productivity of rice is estimated at 400 times as much. The question with all these articles of food is to render them as nourishing as possible by the manner in which they are prepared. Chemistry has in this a boundless field for development.

Central and South America, especially Brazil, which alone is almost as large as all Europe—Brazil has 152,000 square miles with about 15,000,000 inhabitants, as against Europe's 178,000 square miles and about 340,000,000 inhabitants—are big with a luxuriance and fertility that stir the astonishment and wonderment of all travelers, besides being inexhaustibly rich in minerals. Nevertheless, until now they are almost closed to the world because their population is indolent and stands, both in point of numbers and of culture, too low to overmaster the power of Nature. How matters look in Africa we have been enlightened on by the discoveries of recent years. Even if a good part of Central Africa never be fit for European agriculture, there are other regions of vast size that can be put to good use the moment rational principles of colonization are applied. On the other hand, there are in Asia not only vast and fertile territories, able to feed thousands of millions of people, but the past has also shown how in places that are there now sterile and almost desert, the mild climate once conjured up an abundance of food from the soil, provided only man knows how to lead to it the blessing-bestowing water. What with the destruction of the marvelous aqueducts and contrivances for irrigation in Asia Minor and in the regions of the Tigris and the Euphrates, with vandalic wars of conquest and the insane oppression of the people by the conquerors, fields, thousands of square miles wide, have been transformed into sandy deserts. Likewise in Northern Africa, Spain, Mexico and Peru. Let there be produced millions of civilized human beings, and inexhaustible sources of food will be unlocked. The fruit of the date tree thrives marvelously in Asia and Africa, and it takes up so little room that 200 trees can go on one acre of land. The durria bears in Egypt more than 3,000 fold, and yet the country is poor—not by reason of excessive population, but as the result of a robber system that accomplishes the feat of spreading the desert ever further from decade to decade. The marvelous results attainable in all these countries by the agriculture and horticulture of middle Europe is a matter that eludes all calculation.

With the present state of agriculture, the United States could easily feed fifteen and twenty times its present population (63,000,000)—that is, 1,200,000,000 people. Under the same conditions, Canada could feed, instead of 5,000,000 people, 100,000,000 people. Then there are Australia, the numerous and in some instances large and extraordinarily fertile islands of the great Indian Ocean, etc. "Multiply!"—such, and not "Reduce your numbers!"—is the call that in the name of civilization reaches the human race.

Everywhere, it is the social conditions—the existing method of production and distribution—that bring on privation and misery, not the number of people. A few rich crops in succession lower the prices of food in such manner that a considerable number of our cultivators of the soil are ruined. Instead of the condition of the cultivator being improved, it declines. A large number of farmers to-day look upon a good crop as a misfortune: it lowers prices so that the cost of production is barely covered. And this is called a rational state of things! With the view of keeping far away from us the abundance of the harvests of other countries, high duties are placed on grain: thus the entry of foreign grain is made difficult and the price of the domestic article is raised. We have no scarcity but a superabundance of food, the same as of industrial products. The same as millions of people need the yield of the factories, but can not satisfy their wants under the existing system of property and production, so are millions in want of food, being unable to pay for it, although the prices are low and the necessaries of life abundant. We ask again, Can this be called a rational state of things? The craziness and insanity of it all is obvious. Our speculators in corn often, when the crops are good, deliberately allow a large part to perish: they know the prices rise in the measure that the products are scarce. And yet we are told to look out for overpopulation! In Russia, southern Europe and many other countries of the world, hundreds of thousands of loads of grain perish yearly for want of proper storage and transportation. Many millions of hundredweights of food are yearly squandered because the provisions for gathering in the crops are inadequate, or there is a scarcity of hands at the right time. Many a corn field, many a filled barn, whole agricultural establishments are burned down, because the insurance fetches higher gains. Food and goods are destroyed for the same reason that ships are caused to go to the bottom with their whole crews.[234] A large part of the crops is yearly ruined by our military manoeuvres; the costs of manoeuvres that last only a few days run up to hundreds of thousands of marks; and there are many of them every year. Moreover, as stated before, large fields are taken from cultivation for these purposes.

Nor must it be forgotten that there is the sea yet to be added to the means for increasing the volume of food. The area of water is as 18 to 7 to that of land,—two and a half times as large. Its enormous wealth of food still awaits a rational system of exploitation. The future opens a prospect to mankind, wholly different from the gloomy picture drawn by our Malthusians.

Who can say where the line is to be drawn to our chemical, physical, physiologic knowledge? Who would venture to predict what giant undertakings—so considered from our modern standpoint—the people of future centuries will execute with the object in view of introducing material changes in the climates of the nations and in the methods of exploiting their soil?

We see to-day, under the capitalist social system, undertakings executed that were thought impossible or insane a century ago. Wide isthmuses are cut through; tunnels, miles long and bored into the bowels of the earth, join peoples whom towering mountains separate; others are dug under the beds of seas to shorten distances, and avoid disturbances and dangers that otherwise the countries thus separated are exposed to. Where is the spot at which could be said: "So far and no farther?"

If all these improvements were to be undertaken simultaneously, we would be found to have, not too many but too few people. The race must multiply considerably if it is to do justice to all the tasks that are waiting for it. Neither is the soil under cultivation utilized as it should be, nor are there people enough to cultivate three-fourths of its face. Our relative over-production, continuously produced by the capitalist system to the injury of the workingman and of society, will, at a higher grade of civilization, prove itself a benefit. Moreover, a population as large as possible is, even to-day, not an impediment to but a promoter of progress—on the same principle that the existing over-production of goods and food, the destruction of the family by the enlisting of women and children in the factories, and the expropriation of the handicrafts and the peasantry by capital have all shown themselves to be conditions precedent for a higher state of civilization.

We now come to the other side of the question: Do people multiply indefinitely, and is that a necessity of their being?

With the view of proving this great reproductive power of man, the Malthusians usually refer to the abnormal instances of exceptional families and peoples. Nothing is proven by that. As against these instances there are others where, under favorable conditions, complete sterility shortly sets in. The quickness with which often well situated families die out is surprising. Although the United States offer more favorable conditions than any other country for the increase of population, and yearly hundreds of thousands of people immigrate at the most vigorous age, its population doubles only every thirty years. There are nowhere instances on a large scale of the assertion concerning a doubling period of twelve or twenty years.

As indicated by the quotations from Marx and Virchow, which may be considered to state the rule, population increases fastest where it is poorest because, as Virchow justly claims, next to drunkenness, sexual intercourse is their only enjoyment. When Gregory VII. forced celibacy upon the clergy, the priests of lower rank in the diocese of Mainz complained, as stated before, that differently from the upper prelates, they did not have all possible pleasures, and the only enjoyment left them was their wives. A lack of varying occupation may be the reason why the marriages of the rural clergy are, as a rule, so fruitful of children. It is also undeniable that our poorest districts in Germany—the Silesian Eulengebirge, the Lausitz, the Erzgebirge and Fichtelgebirge, the Thuringian Forest, the Harz, etc.,—are the centers of densest population, whose chief food are potatoes. It is also certain that sexual cravings are strong with consumptives, and these often beget children at a state of physical decline when such a thing would seem impossible.

It is a law of Nature—hinted at in the quotations made from Herbert Spencer and Laing—that she supplies in quantity what she loses in quality. The animals of highest grade and strength—lions, elephants, camels, etc., our domestic animals such as mares, asses, cows,—bring few young ones into the world; while animals of lower organization increase in inverse ratio—all insects, most fishes, etc., the smaller mammals, such as hares, rats, mice, etc. Furthermore, Darwin established that certain wild animals, so soon as tamed, forfeit their fecundity. The elephant is an illustration. This proves that altered conditions of life, together with the consequent change in the mode of life, are the determining factors in reproductive powers.

It happens, however, that it is the Darwinians who lead in the fear of over-population, and upon whom our modern Malthusians bank. Our Darwinians are everywhere infelicitous the moment they apply their theories to human conditions: their method then becomes roughly empirical, and they forget that, while man is the highest organic animal, he, being in contradistinction to animals acquainted with the laws of nature is able to direct and utilize these.

The theory of the struggle for existence, the doctrine that the germs of new life exist in much larger numbers than are maintainable with the existing means of existence, would be wholly applicable to man if man, instead of straining his brains and enlisting the services of technical arts for exploiting air, land and water, grazed like cattle, or like monkeys indulged his sexual impulses with cynic shamelessness,—in short, if he reverted to the monkey order. In passing be it observed that the fact that, besides man, monkeys are the only beings with whom the sexual impulse is not fixed to certain periods, is a striking proof of the relationship between the two. But though closely related, they are not identical, and are not to be placed on one level and measured by one standard,—a fact that we commend to Ziegler, who, in his book herein frequently referred to, holds up the two together.

The circumstance that, under the conditions of ownership and production that have hitherto prevailed, the struggle for existence existed and continues to exist for man also and many fail to find the conditions for life, is perfectly true. But these failed, not because of the scarcity of the means of existence, but because, due to social conditions, the means of existence, though in greatest abundance, were kept from them. False also is the conclusion that, because such has hitherto been the state of things, it is unchangeable and will ever be so. It is here that the Darwinians slide and fall: they study natural science and anthropology, but not sociology, and thoughtlessly fall in line with our bourgeois ideologists. Hence they drop into their false conclusions.

The sexual instinct is perennial in man; it is his strongest instinct and demands satisfaction, lest his health suffer. Moreover, as a rule, this instinct is strong in proportion to man's health and normal development—just as a good appetite and a good digestion bespeak a healthy stomach, and are the first prerequisites for a healthy body. But gratification of the sexual instinct and begetting and conceiving are not the same thing. The most varied theories have been set up on the fecundity of the human race. On the whole, we are still groping in the dark on this important field, mainly because for a couple of thousand years a senseless shyness has stood in the way of man's occupying himself freely and naturally with the laws of his own origin, and to study thoroughly the laws of human procreation. That is gradually changing and must change much more.

On one side the theory is set up that higher mental development and strenuous mental exertion, in short, higher nervous activity, exert a repressing influence upon the sexual impulse and weaken the procreative power. This is disputed by the other side. The fact is pointed to that the better situated classes have, on an average, fewer children and that this is not to be ascribed solely to preventive measures. Undoubtedly, intense mental occupation has a depressing influence upon the sexual impulse, but that such occupation is indulged in by the majority of our property classes is not so certain. On the other hand, an excess of physical labor also has a repressing influence. But all excessive effort is harmful, and therefore objectionable.

Others, again, claim that the manner of life, especially the food eaten, coupled with certain physical conditions on the part of the woman, determine the power to beget and to conceive. The nature of food more than any other cause, this side argues, determines, as experience shows in the instance of animals also, the effectiveness of the act of procreation. Possibly, this is in fact, the determining factor. The influence of the nature of nourishment on the organism of certain animals manifests itself surprisingly with bees: they produce at will a queen by the administering of special food. Bees, accordingly, are further advanced in the knowledge of sexual development than men. They have not, probably, been sermonized for two thousand years that it is "indecent" and "immoral" to concern themselves with sexual matters.

It is also known that plants raised on good soil and well manured, thrive luxuriantly, but yield no seed. That the nature of the food has its influence upon the composition of the male sperm, and upon the fecundity of the female egg with human beings also, is hardly to be doubted. Thus mayhap the procreative power of the population depends in a high degree upon the nature of the food it lives on. Other factors, whose nature is still but little understood, also play a role. It is a striking circumstance that a young couple may have no children after long years of married life, yet, having separated, and each having mated again, both new marriages are followed by healthy children.

One factor is of leading importance in the question of population in the future—the higher, freer position which all women will then occupy. Leaving exceptions aside, intelligent and energetic women are not as a rule inclined to give life to a large number of children as "the gift of God," and to spend the best years of their own lives in pregnancy, or with a child at their breasts. This disinclination for numerous children, which even now is entertained by most women, may—all the solicitude notwithstanding that a Socialist society will bestow upon pregnant women and mothers—be rather strengthened than weakened. In our opinion, there lies in this the great probability that the increase of population will proceed slower than in bourgeois society.

Our Malthusians need really not break their heads on the future of the human race. Until now nations have gone down through the decline, never through the increase of their population. In the last analysis, the number of population is regulated without harmful abstinence and without unnatural preventives, in a society that lives according to the laws of Nature. On this head also the future will vindicate Karl Marx. His theory also that every period of economic development carries with it its own law of population will prove true under the rule of Socialism.

The author of the work "Die kuenstliche Beschraenkung der Kinderzahl" (The Artificial Limitation of Progeny)[235] claims that Socialism is playing a tricky manoeuvre by its opposition to Malthusianism: a rapid increase of population promotes mass proletarianization, and this, in turn, promotes discontent: if over-population is successfully checked, the spread of Socialism would be done for, and its Socialist State, together with all its glory, buried for all time. Thus we see one more weapon added to the arsenal to kill Socialism with—Malthusianism. The grandiose ignorance of the Socialist-killer Ferdy on Socialism, transpires strongest from the following sentence, which he perpetrates on page 40 of his work:

"Socialism will go further than the Neo-Malthusians in its demands. It will demand that the minimum wage be so fixed that every workingman shall be able to produce as many children as possible under given social facilities for the acquisition of food.... The moment the ultimate deductions of Socialism are drawn, and private property is abolished, even the dullest will then say to himself: 'Why should I have to work long and hard for the simple reason that it pleases my neighbors to shove a dozen new members into society?'" It should seem that a critic should first acquaint himself with the A B C of Socialism before presuming to write upon the subject, and such preposterous stuff at that!

In Socialist society, where alone mankind will be truly free and planted on its natural basis, it will direct its own development knowingly along the line of natural law. In all epochs hitherto, society handled the questions of production and distribution, as well as of the increase of population without the knowledge of the laws that underlie them,—hence, unconsciously. In the new social order, equipped with the knowledge of the laws of its own development, society will proceed consciously and planfully.



[229] That Darwin and others also became devotees of Malthus only proves how the lack of economic knowledge leads to one-sided views.

[230] Fred. Freiligrath sings in his fervid poem "Ireland":

Thus naught the Irish landlord cares, While hart and ox by peasant's toil For him are raised—he leaves undried Great bogs and swamps on Erin's soil—

Extensive mirelands unreclaimed, Where sheaf by sheaf rich crops could wave; He vilely leaves—a wanton waste— Where water-fowl and wild ducks lave.

Four million acres feels his rod; A wilderness accursed of God.

[231] "Two millions of acres ... totally laid waste, embracing within their area some of the most fertile lands of Scotland. The natural grass of Glen Tilt was among the most nutritive in the county of Perth. The deer forest of Ben Aulder was by far the best grazing ground in the wide district of Badenoch; a part of the Black Mount forest was the best pasture for black-faced sheep in Scotland. Some idea of the ground laid waste for purely sporting purposes in Scotland may be formed from the fact that it embraced an area larger than the whole county of Perth. The resources of the forest of Ben Aulder might give some idea of the loss sustained from the forced desolations. The ground would pasture 15,000 sheep, and as it was not more than one-thirtieth part of the old forest ground in Scotland.... It might, &c.... All that forest land is as totally unproductive.... It might thus as well have been submerged under the waters of the German Ocean."—From the London "Economist," July 2, 1866, cited by Karl Marx in "Capital," p. 757, edition Swan-Sonnenschein & Co., London, 1896.

[232] Rau's "Lehrbuch der Politischen Oekonomie," p. 367.

[233] Rodbertus: "Zur Beleuchtung der sozialen Frage."

[234] Similar conditions must have existed at the time of St. Basil. He calls out to the rich: "Wretches that you are, what answer will you make to the divine Judge? You cover the nakedness of your walls with carpets, but do not cover the nakedness of human beings! You ornament your horses with costly and smooth coverlets, and you despise your brother who is covered with rags. You allow your corn to rot and be devoured in your barns and your fields, and you do not spare even a look for those who have no bread." Moral homiletics have since old done precious little good with the ruling class, and they will do no better in the future. Let the social conditions be changed so that none can act unjustly towards his fellowman; the world will then get along easy enough.

[235] Hans Ferdy.




Our arguments have shown that, with Socialism, the issue is not an arbitrary tearing down and raising up, but a natural process of development. All the factors active in the process of destruction, on the one hand, and of construction, on the other, are factors that operate in the manner that they are bound to operate. Neither "statesmen of genius" nor "inflammatory demagogues" can direct events at will. They may imagine they push; but are themselves pushed. But we are near the time when "the hour has sounded."

Due to her own peculiar development, Germany, more than any other country, seems designated as that which is to assume the leading role in the pending revolution.[236]

In the course of this work we often spoke of an over-production of goods, which brings on the crises. This is a phenomenon peculiar to the capitalist world only; it was seen at no previous period of human development.

But the capitalist world yields not merely an over-production of goods and of men, it also yields an over-production of intelligence. Germany is the classic land in which this over-production of intelligence, which the bourgeois world no longer knows what to do with, is yielded on a large scale. A circumstance, that for centuries was a misfortune to Germany's development, has largely contributed to this state of things. It consisted in the multiplicity of small States and the check exercised by these political formations upon the development of upper capitalism. The multiplicity of small States decentralized the intellectual life of the nation: it raised numerous small centers of culture, and these exercised their influence upon the whole. In comparison with a large central government, the numerous small ones required an extraordinarily large administrative apparatus, whose members needed a certain degree of higher culture. Thus high schools and universities sprung up more numerous than in any other country of Europe. The jealousy and ambition of the several governments played in this no small role. The same thing repeated itself when some governments began introducing compulsory education for the people. The passion not to be left behind a neighboring State had here its good effect. The demand for intelligence rose when increasing culture, hand in hand with the material progress of the bourgeoisie, quickened the longing for political activity, popular representation and self-government on the part of municipalities. These were small governmental bodies for small countries and circles, nevertheless they contributed towards the general schooling, and caused the sons of the bourgeoisie to covet seats in them and to adapt their education accordingly.

As science, so did art fare.—No country of Europe has, relatively speaking, so many painting and other art academies, technical schools, museums and art collections, as Germany. Other countries may be able to make better showings in their capitals, but none has such a distribution over its whole territory as Germany. In point of art, Italy is the only exception.

While the bourgeoisie of England had conquered a controlling power over the State as early as the middle of the seventeenth, and the bourgeoisie of France towards the end of the eighteenth century, the bourgeoisie of Germany did not succeed until 1848 to secure for itself a comparatively moderate influence over the government. That was the birth year of the German bourgeoisie as a self-conscious class: it now stepped upon the stage as an independent political party, in the trappings of "liberalism." The peculiar development that Germany had undergone now manifested itself. It was not manufacturers, merchants, men of commerce and finance who came forward as leaders, but chiefly professors, squires of liberal proclivities, writers, jurists and doctors of all academic faculties. It was the German ideologists: And so was their work. After 1848 the German bourgeoisie was temporarily consigned to political silence; but they utilized the period of the sepulchral silence of the fifties in the promotion of their task. The breaking-out of the Austro-Italian war and the commencement of the Regency of Prussia, stirred the bourgeoisie anew to reach after political power. The "National Verein" (National Union) movement began. The bourgeoisie was now too far developed to tolerate within the numerous separate States the many political barriers, that were at the same time economic—barriers of taxation, barriers of communication. It assumed a revolutionary air. Herr von Bismarck understood the situation and turned it to account in his own manner so as to reconcile the interests of the bourgeoisie with those of the Prussian Kingdom, towards which the bourgeoisie never had been hostile, seeing it feared the revolution and the masses. The barriers finally came down that had hampered its material progress. Thanks to Germany's great wealth in coal and minerals, together with an intelligent and easily satisfied working class, the bourgeoisie made within few decades such gigantic progress as was made by the bourgeoisie of no other country, the United States excepted, within the same period. Thus did Germany reach the position of the second industrial and commercial State in Europe; and she covets the first.

This rapid material development had its obverse. The system of mutual exclusion, that existed between the German States up to the establishment of German unity, had until then furnished a living to an uncommonly numerous class of artisans and small peasants. With the precipitous tearing down of all the protective barriers, these people suddenly found themselves face to face with an unbridled process of capitalist production and development. At first, the prosperity epoch of the early seventies caused the danger to seem slighter, but it raged all the more fearful when the crisis set in. The bourgeoisie had used the prosperity period to make marvelous progress, and thus now caused the distress to be felt ten-fold. From now on the chasm between the property-holding and the propertyless classes widened rapidly. This process of decomposition and of absorption, which—promoted by the growth of material power on the one hand, and the declining power of resistance on the other—proceeds with ever increasing rapidity, throws whole classes of the population into ever more straitened circumstances. They find themselves from day to day more powerfully threatened in their position and their condition of life; and they see themselves doomed with mathematical certainty.

In this desperate struggle many seek possible safety in a change of profession. The old men can no longer make the change: only in the rarest instances are they able to bequeath an independence to their children: the last efforts are made, the last means applied towards placing sons and daughters in positions with fixed salaries, which require no capital to carry on. These are mainly the civil service offices in the Empire, States or municipalities—teacherships, the Post Office and railroad positions, and also the higher places in the service of the bourgeoisie in the counting rooms, stores and factories as managers, chemists, technical overseers, engineers, constructors, etc.; finally the so-called liberal professions: law, medicine, theology, journalism, art, architecture and lastly pedagogy.

Thousands upon thousands, who had previously taken up a trade, now—the possibility of independence and of a tolerable livelihood having vanished—seek for any position in the said offices. The pressure is towards higher education and learning. High schools, gymnasiums, polytechnics, etc., spring up like mushrooms, and those in existence are filled to overflowing. In the same measure the number of students at the universities, at the chemical and physical laboratories, at the art schools, trade and commercial schools and the higher schools of all sorts for women are on the increase. In all departments, without exception, there is a tremendous overcrowding, and the stream still swells: fresh demands are constantly raised for the establishment of more gymnasiums and high schools to accommodate the large number of pupils and students.[237] From official and private sources warnings upon warnings are issued, now against the choice of one then against that of another career. Even theology, that a few decades ago threatened to dry up for want of candidates, now receives its spray from the superabundance, and again sees its livings filled. "I am ready to preach belief in ten thousand gods and devils, if required, only procure me a position that may support me"—that is the song that re-echoes from all corners. Occasionally, the corresponding Cabinet Minister refuses his consent to the establishment of new institutions of higher education "because those in existence amply supply the demand for candidates of all professions."

This state of things is rendered all the more intolerable by the circumstance that the competitive and mutually destructive struggle of the bourgeoisie compels its own sons to seek for public places. Furthermore, the ever increasing standing army with its swarms of officers, whose promotion is seriously paralyzed after a long peace, leads to the placing of large numbers of men in the best years of their lives upon the pension lists, who thereupon, favored by the State, seek all manner of appointments. Another swarm of lower grade in the army, takes the bread from the mouths of the other stratas. Lastly, the still larger swarm of children of the Imperial, State and municipal officials of all degrees are and can not choose but be trained especially for such positions in the civil service. Social standing, culture and pretensions—all combine to keep the children of these classes away from the so-called low occupations, which, however, as a result of the capitalist system, are themselves overcrowded.

The system of One Year Volunteers, which allows the reduction of the compulsory military service to one instead of two or three years for those who have obtained a certain degree of education and can make the material sacrifice, is another source from which the candidates for public office is swollen. Many sons of well-to-do peasants, who do not fancy a return to the village and to the pursuit of their fathers, come under this category.

As a result of all these circumstances, Germany has an infinitely more numerous proletariat of scholars and artists than any other country, as also a strong proletariat in the so-called liberal professions. This proletariat is steadily on the increase, and carries the fermentation and discontent with existing conditions into the higher strata of society. This youth are roused and spurred to the criticism of the existing order, and they materially aid in hastening the general work of dissolution. Thus the existing condition of things is attacked and undermined from all sides.

All these circumstances have contributed to cause the German Social Democratic party to take a hand in the leadership of the giant struggle of the future. It was German Socialists who discovered the motor laws of modern society, and who scientifically demonstrated Socialism to be the social form of the future. First of all Karl Marx and Frederick Engels; next to them and firing the masses with his agitation, Ferdinand Lassalle. Finally German Socialists are the chief pioneers of Socialist thought among the workingmen of all nations.

Almost half a century ago—grounded on his studies of the German mind and culture—Buckle could say that, although Germany had a large number of the greatest thinkers, there was no country in which the chasm between the class of the scholars and the mass of the population was as wide. This is no longer true. It was so only so long as knowledge was confined to learned circles that stood aloof from practical life. Since Germany has been economically revolutionized, science was compelled to render itself useful to practical life. Science itself became practical. It was felt that science attained its full worth only when it became applicable to human life; and the development of large capitalist production compelled it thereto. All the tranches of science have been, accordingly, strongly democratized during the last decades. The large number of young men, educated for the higher professions, contributed to carry science among the people; then also the general schooling, higher to-day in Germany than in most European countries, facilitated the popular reception of a mass of intellectual products. But above all, the Socialist Movement—with its literature, its press, its unions and meetings, its parliamentary representation, and finally the incessant criticism thereby promoted on all the fields of public life—materially raised the mental level of the masses.

The exclusion law against the Social Democratic party did not check this current. It somewhat hemmed in the Movement, and slightly reduced its tempo. But, on the other hand, it caused the roots of the Movement to sink deeper, and aroused an intense bitterness against the ruling classes and the government. The final abandonment of the exclusion law was but the consequence of the progress made by the Social Democratic party under that very law, together with the economic development of the nation. And thus the Movement goes marching onward, as march it must under existing conditions.

As in Germany, the Socialist Movement has made unexpected progress in all European civilized nations, a fact eloquently attested to by the International Congresses of Labor, which, with intervals of two or three years, gather with ever increased representations.

Thus with the close of the nineteenth century the great battle of minds is on in all the countries of civilization, and is conducted with fiery enthusiasm. Along with social science, the wide field of the natural sciences, hygiene, the history of civilization and even philosophy are the arsenals from which the weapons are drawn. The foundations of existing society are being assailed from all sides; heavy blows are being dealt to its props. Revolutionary ideas penetrate conservative circles and throw the ranks of our enemies into disorder. Artisans and scholars, farmers, and artists, merchants and government employes, here and there, even manufacturers and bankers, in short, men of all conditions, are joining the ranks of the workingmen, who constitute the bulk of the army, who combat for victory, and who will win it. All support and mutually supplement one another.

To woman also in general, and as a female proletarian in particular, the summons goes out not to remain behind in this struggle in which her redemption and emancipation are at stake. It is for her to prove that she has comprehended her true place in the Movement and in the struggles of the present for a better future; and that she is resolved to join. It is the part of the men to aid her in ridding herself of all superstitions, and to step forward in their ranks. Let none underrate his own powers, and imagine that the issue does not depend upon him. None, be he the weakest, can be spared in the struggle for the progress of the human race. The unremitting dropping of little drops hollows in the end the hardest stone. Many drops make a brook, brooks make rivers, many rivers a stream, until finally no obstacle is strong enough to check it in its majestic flow. Just so with the career of mankind. Everywhere Nature is our instructress. If all who feel the call put their whole strength in this struggle, ultimate victory can not fail.

And this victory will be all the greater the more zealously and self-sacrificingly each pursues the marked-out path. None may allow himself to be troubled with misgivings whether, despite all sacrifices, labor and pains he will live to see the beginning of the new and fairer period of civilization, whether he will yet taste the fruit of victory; least of all may such misgivings hold him back. We can foresee neither the duration nor the nature of the several phases of development that this struggle for the highest aims may traverse until final victory,—any more than we have any certainty on the duration of our own lives. Nevertheless, just as the pleasure in life rules us, so may we foster the hope of witnessing this victory. Are we not in an age that rushes forward, so to speak, with seven-mile boots, and therefore causes all the foes of a new and better world to tremble?

Every day furnishes fresh proof of the rapid growth and spread of the ideas that we represent. On all fields there is tumult and push. The dawn of a fair day is drawing nigh with mighty stride. Let us then ever battle and strive forward, unconcerned as to "where" and "when" the boundary-posts of the new and better day for mankind will be raised. And if, in the course of this great battle for the emancipation of the human race, we should fall, those now in the rear will step forward; we shall fall with the consciousness of having done our duty as human beings, and with the conviction that the goal will be reached, however the powers hostile to humanity may struggle or strain in resistance.




[236] [Aside from the contradiction implied between this sentence and that other, on page 247, in which the internationally overshadowing economic development of the United States is admitted, the forecast, though cautiously advanced, that Germany may take the lead in the accomplishment of the pending Social Revolution, is justified neither by her economic nor her social development, least of all by her geographic location.

As to her economic development, Germany has made rapid and long strides during the last twenty years; so rapid and so long that the progress has caused the Socialists of Germany, in more instances than one, to realize—and to say so—that, what with her own progress, and with outside circumstances, Germany was distancing England economically. This is true. But the same reason that argues, and correctly argues, the economic scepter off the hands of England places it, not in those of Germany, but in the hands of the United States.

As to her social development, Germany is almost half a revolutionary cycle behind. Her own bourgeois revolution was but half achieved. Without entering upon a long list of specifications, it is enough to indicate the fact that Germany is still quite extensively feudal in order to suggest to the mind robust feudal boulders, left untouched by the capitalist revolution, and strewing, aye, obstructing the path of the Socialist Movement in that country. The social phenomenon has been seen of an oppressed class skipping an intermediary stage of vassalage, and entering, at one bound, upon one higher up. It happened, for instance, with our negroes here in America. Without first stepping off at serfdom, they leaped from chattel slavery to wage slavery. What happened once may happen again. But in the instance cited and all the others that we can call to mind, it happened through outside intervention. Can Germany perform the same feat alone, unaided? Do events point in that direction? Or do they rather point in the direction that the work, now being realized there as demanding immediate attention, and alone possible and practicable, is the completion of the capitalist revolution, first of all?

But even discounting both these objections—granting that both in point of economic and of social development Germany were ripe for the Socialist Revolution—her geographic location prevents her leadership. No one single State of the forty-four of the Union, not even the Empire State of New York, however ripe herself, could lead in the overthrow of capitalist rule in America unless the bulk of her sister States were themselves up to a certain minimum of ripeness. Contrariwise, any attempt by even such a State would be promptly smothered. What is true of any single State of the Union is true of any one country of Europe. It is, therefore, true of Germany. Whatever doubt there be as to Germany's ripeness, there can be none as to the utter unripeness of all the other European countries with the single exceptions of France and Belgium,—and surely none as to Russia, that ominous cloud to the East, well styled the modern Macedon to the modern Greek States of the nations of Western Europe. Though there is no "District of Columbia" in Europe, the masses would be mobilized from the surrounding hives of the Cimmerian Darkness of feudo-capitalism, and they would be marched convergently with as much precision and despatch upon the venturesome leader. And what is true as to Germany on this head is true of any other European country. Facts and their relations to one another must be ever kept in sight. 'Tis the only way to escape illusions—and their train of troubles.

For the rest, not the sordid competitive spirit of the bourgeois world, but that noble and ennobling emulation, cited by the Author in a quotation from John Stuart Mill, animates the nations of the world that are now racing towards the overthrow of capitalist domination. Surely none will begrudge laurels due that one that shall be the first to scale the ramparts of the international burg of capitalism, strike the first blow, and give the signal for the final emancipation of the human race.—THE TRANSLATOR.]

[237] The number of students at the German universities averaged as follows per six months:

Protestant Catholic Quarter. Theology. Theology. Law. Medicine. Philosophy. Total.

1841-42—1846 2117 1027 3467 1943 3072 11626 1846-47—1851 1798 1297 4061 1827 3046 12029 1851-52—1856 1751 1300 4169 2291 2840 12351 1861-62—1866 2437 1153 2867 2435 4392 13284 1866-67—1871 2154 982 3011 2838 4626 13611 1871-72—1876 1780 836 4121 3491 5896 16124 1876-77—1881 1961 682 5134 3734 8057 19568 1881-82—1886 3880 952 5034 6869 9123 25838 1886-87 4546 1178 5239 8450 8666 27828 1887 4803 1232 5505 8685 8424 28455 1887-88 4632 1137 4810 8435 8450 28480 1888 4835 1174 6106 8915 8204 29275 1888-89 4642 1207 6304 8886 8255 29294

During the summer six months of 1893—notably the weaker of the two seasons—the total number of students, exclusive of the University of Brunswick, of which we had no returns, had risen to 31,976. Unfortunately we had no like classification of the students, and are hence prevented from inserting it in the above table.

The table shows that from 1841-2 to 1871 the number of students increased little, and less than the population. From that date on the increase was by leaps and bounds, until 1886-7; from this date on the increase is again slow. From 1871 to 1888-9 the number of students increased more than 116 per cent. It is an interesting fact that the study of theology decreased steadily until 1881, but increased thereupon all the quicker until it reached high-water mark in 1888. The reason was that the excess of the supply for all the other posts increased in such measure that it was difficult to secure a place. People then turned to theology which had been neglected during the previous ten years.


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