Page:Karl Marx the man and his message.pdf/16

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Socialist movement. Socialism does not create the class struggle—it does not even accentuate it, it only recognises it. This is the broad generalisation of Marx which pedants have distorted out of all recognition, and elevated into a sectarian dogma under the name of the "Class War."


Accepting Marx's theory of social evolution as being correct, we are at once met with the question of how it should be applied in the working-class movement? Here also Marx is clear and emphatic. There were moments, when, under the spell of some actual rising, Marx spoke and wrote as though he still clung to the old-time idea that the working class, even when possessed of the vote, would still require to seek its freedom rifle in hand behind the barricade. But his abiding thought was that freedom could only come by the gradual evolution. of a properly-equipped working-class party, taught class consciousness by actual experience gained in the struggle with Capitalism, and by changes in the ownership of capitalist property forced on society by the workings of the capitalist system itself.

Mr. Spargo gives a curious illustration of this changing attitude of Marx. On April 17, 1871, when the Commune of Paris was newborn from a successful working-class rising, Marx wrote of the event as follows:—"This insurrection is a glorious deed for our party.... And the grandeur appears the greater when we think of all the vices of the old society, of its wolves and swine, and its common hounds." There we have a recrudescence of the old Marx of the pre-Communist Manifesto days. A year later, when the "wolves and swine and common hounds" had swept away the Commune in a tornado of leaden bullets, Marx could write of it thus: "The Commune notably offers a proof that the working class cannot simply take possession of the State machinery and set it in motion for their own aims." Engels put the same truth in terser style, when he said the time for "Revolutions of small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses was past, and that a revolution by violence could only set back the movement. This, by the way, applies to other "methods of violence" than those represented by the rifle and the barricade.


Let me give one concrete case to show the method by which Marx believed the final emancipation of the working class was most likely to be most speedily attained. In section two of the Communist Manifesto, already quoted from, he winds up by giving some practical advice concerning tactics and programmes. There