The Daily People
Sept. 6, 1905
N o student of the Labor Movement should miss a line of the stenographic report of the recent Chicago Industrialists’ convention, now being published in the Daily People.
Important as were all the other episodes of the convention, none is comparable with the episode concerning what may be termed the constituencies of the future parliament of the Socialist Republic.
The debate on Section 2 of Article I is of prime value, and valuable in more ways than one. It is valuable for the facts that it brings into light in the matter of the present development of production; it is valuable for the resultant conflict of opinion as to what the development portends; it is valuable in that it illustrates the governmental revolution that is impending; finally, it is valuable in that it heralds a new cycle in the affairs of man—a cycle no less leading than was the transition from the Gens into the State form of society.
He who would profit by all these features of the debate had better brush up both on the “Federalist” and on Lewis H. Morgan’s great work on “Ancient Society.”
When this country freed itself from England, a magazine, named the “Federalist,” sprang into existence. The master minds of the day were contributors. The articles were not written to sell. They dealt with the form of government that the recently emancipated colonies should adopt they dug deep into other systems, established comparisons and contrasts, and drew conclusions for immediate guidance. Opinions frequently differed widely. Today, reading those debates—because debates they were in substance—by the light of the torch lighted by Morgan, they assume invaluable importance. Understanding them, they will be seen to be preparatory for the debate on Section 2 of Article I. Understanding both them and Morgan, the seeming confusion and seemingly irreconcilable views expressed at the Chicago convention become luminous.
The Gens social system was built upon men; territory was reached only through men. The Gens period was the period of the early communism of the human race. Out of the Gens grew the present political State; it is built upon territory; in it, men are reached only through territory.
The political State marks the culmination of the march of the human race from primitive communism to capitalism. In its spiral march the human race is now headed, not backward, but upward to higher communism. The break up of capitalism means a reversal to Gens conditions, only upon the higher plane that capitalism makes possible. The form of government that the Gens system required had to make way for the form of government required by capitalism; inevitably, therefore, the form of government of capitalism must and will be supplanted by another, which shall be the true shadow and reflex of the changed material conditions that mark this third revolution.
In the transition of society from the Gens form to that of Capitalism, there was much confusion and conflict of opinion as to the method of administration; no less confusion and conflict is noticeable at the various stages in the formation of the capitalist State; similar confusion and conflict inevitably manifests itself today in the Labor Movement touching the form of the administration of the oncoming Socialist Republic. The confusion and conflict of thought on this subject was focussed in the Chicago convention. By the light of Morgan and the “Federalist” the confusion becomes intelligent, and the conflict instructive.
There may be said to have been three groups, or tendencies, at Chicago, each of which marked the decree to which it had emancipated itself from capitalist governmental habits of thought, and the degree to which it was conscious of whither the social drift led.
The lowest of these groups may be said to have been typified by Fairgrieve of Montana. Fairgrieve’s group realized the necessity of the Industrial or Socialist form of government, but its mind was still clogged with capitalist habits of governmental thought. As a consequence, the Fairgrieve group proposed Industrialism based upon State boundaries. But, now, Industrialism partakes of the Gens feature in which, not territory, but men (industries wherever located, regardless of political demarcations of the capitalist State) are the constituencies; the State, on the contrary, implies the capitalist thought of territory as the basis for government. The plan of the Fairgrieve group was a mongrel concept; by taking a bit of each it got wholly out of touch with both.
The next higher group was the group represented by Coates. Coates would probably consider it a joke upon him to say that what he represented was the extremist’s application of Industrialism—Industrialism run riot. The Socialist governmental constituency is the Industry. Coates’ mind was correctly swayed by that idea. But the constituency that he wanted was not the broad constituency of the Industrialist, it was the narrow fractional constituency of the craft—a fragment of the egg-shell of pure and simpledom out of which he was hatched, and which clung to his back. His plan was as irrationally industrialist, as the capitalist governmental plan would be irrationally capitalist that proposed counties for the constituencies of Federal Senators. Whatever administration a social system sets up, it must be workable. The Coates plan was not workable; it was a caricature of Industrialism.
He represented an element that always accompanies great movements: the element that is wide-awake enough to realize that the bottom has dropped out of the ship on which they are embarked and seek to save some slight, little bit of property before they leap overboard.
There were, no doubt, elements corresponding to the Coates group when the Gens system broke up. Indeed, Morgan tells of them, and the study of them is of no little interest.
The third group is the group that prevailed. It was the group represented by Sherman, Trautmann, De Leon, Hall, Hagerty, Haywood, Riordan, etc. It was the group that understood the meaning of the revolutionary period that we are approaching, the safety of which depends upon avoiding both mongrelism and caricatureism; it was the group that recognized the only basis upon which the administration of the Socialist Republic can be reared—Industrial constituencies to the total exclusion of political constituencies.
The “Federalist” and Morgan’s great work is a reading that all should buckle down to, who realize that the work done at Chicago was but the beginning of a work that has yet to be perfected.