Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/339

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and Poland these three classes fought it out, and the difference in the results has a value for the student of political class struggles which no one has yet, to my knowledge, developed. In Russia the crown won; the nobles never became "nobles" in the Western sense; the peasants were reduced to serfdom as mere pawns in the game. They always maintained a tradition that the Czar had subjected them to servitude under the nobles that the latter might fight for the fatherland—a capital instance of what comes of sacrificing private rights to "the greater good of the state." In Poland the crown was subjugated to the nobles, and then the latter developed a tyranny over the peasants far worse than that of Russia, and reduced their country first to anarchy and then to foreign conquest.

In Western Europe another class was differentiated from the two classes of feudalism—the middle class, the bourgeoisie of the cities. This made four classes, and political history has been moulded by their alliances and conflicts. The middle class was at war with feudalism; while the lords were strong the monarchs and cities combined against them. In Germany the crown could not win a real victory, while in France and Spain it did do so. In England the four classes came to a compromise and adjustment under the Constitution, but their rubbing against each other has marked the history of that country for five hundred years.

Now, if we have a democratic republic, the crown disappears out of it. If the economic situation is that of a new country, with sparse population and an abundance of land, there are no nobles, and in an older country, under the democratic republican form, there cease to be any nobles. Titles are a mere matter of courtesy and have only social value. There remain then only two