The Future of International Socialism

S. J. Rutgers

Published: International Socialist Review, vol. 17, no. 9. March 1917. Pages 550-551.
Transcription/Markup: Micah Muer, 2021.

Frank Bohn invites us to put certain facts in a row and to look them over.

The facts as given are:

The Socialist Party is going down.

State Capitalism is growing rapidly.

Congress is losing function after function. Its place is taken by various commissions.

The "great" middle class wants relief, on account of high prices, etc.

The A. F. of L. is working hand in glove with the professional and middle classes.

The middle classes are going to bedevil plutocracy, which they are doing in proper shape, and when they get done with the job there won't be any plutocracy left. Morgan is the big man of yesterday; Goethals (the engineer who built the Panama Canal) is the big man of today and tomorrow.

The conclusion is that we have to co-operate politically with the middle classes, especially in city and state government (Congress being practically considered out of the job), and that on the economic field we have to democratize industries by building up industrial unions. Besides, we should have a purely educational organization or club for propaganda purposes only.

The main feature of this new "American" scheme is that it puts a great deal of hope for human progression on the middle classes and the farmers and consequently wants to co-operate with these classes. The middle classes are supposed to put plutocracy out of business, and this done, it will, of course, be a relatively easy job to democratize industries, which will be controlled by committees of technical experts.

Now it certainly needs some nerve to announce this position of the middle class, savior of mankind, as a "fact," but even as a suggestion it is hardly worth serious consideration. To give it any glimpse of a possibility, it is necessary to make this an "American" issue, to give it a nationalistic feature. To even suggest that the middle classes in Europe will develop the forces to overcome plutocracy, to overcome imperialism, must seem ridiculous. This very class of professors, school teachers, editors, lawyers, etc., belong to the most reptile servants of Big Capital, are the strongest advocates of imperialism and paid to fool the workers. And this not only holds true in Germany, but in all European countries, including the neutrals.

And how could we expect a different situation?

A gigantic struggle is going on for world dominion, for the supremacy of financial capital. A struggle in which the concentration of capital is going to be fabulous. A struggle in which financial capital as a class is going to be the winner, no matter what may be the national results. A struggle in which even the working class has been crushed temporarily, and in which the middle classes not even stammer a murmur of opposition. And in our relatively small part of the world, which happens not yet to be actively involved in the struggle, because it prefers the role of a Shylock coining gold out of blood, we are invited to expect a development diametrically against all experiences on the other side of the ocean! This country, which prepares itself feverishly to play at least an active part in the next conflict, whose President actually does the bidding to be admitted in a world counsel to prepare the next war, this country, in which the Morgans and Rockefellers have increased their influence on the industries and on public life tenfold during the few years of the European war, is going to bedevil plutocracy!

And this Herculean task is not supposed to be performed by the working class, by the workers in the industries on which the money kings base their power, but by a few servants of those money interests, by the professors of the Rockefeller Universities, by the editors of the most rotten, corrupt press in the whole world, by the corporation lawyers, etc. If this is Americanism, if we have to betray our International position as cheaply as that, we had better stop denouncing the nationalistic schemes of the Imperial Prussian "Socialists."

The Socialist Party has failed, which is regrettable, but let us not make it worse by trying to invent American substitutes for a sound International basis of the proletarian class struggle.

State Capitalism is growing in Europe quicker than it is in the United States, but it will come here as well as in Europe, and we should see as our friend Frank Bohn does, that this is no Socialism; we should realize that this is a form of concentrated monopolistic Capitalism under control of the money kings.

Congress is losing its importance just like the parliaments in Europe, and the Executive Power, the President and Committees, are taking its place. All right, but this means again that Financial Interests, without the co-operation of which no President can maintain himself, and which largely control the committees, judges and other executive powers, are the leading force in present-day Society. No doubt they will pay good salaries to their more intelligent servants, including some of the professors who are paid to fool the rest of the world. Those servants will go on pretending to fight Plutocracy and trying to get still higher salaries for betraying the workers in politics, education, morals, and all the rest. They will even help to maintain the illusion of a democracy, but remember: Congress is losing function after function, bourgeois democracy is doomed.

More than ever in history, the working class will have to know that it can only rely on its own power, that it has to fight the whole world, including the middle classes, including their own leaders as far as they show middle-class features.

The failure of our American party is greatly due to the fact that it has been mostly a middle class party, and now we should advise to make this a principle rather than an accident!

To my mind, there can be no greater disaster than to saddle upon the workers the illusion that some other class will put plutocracy out of business. It is the gigantic historic task of labor to overcome this new ruling class, and to fulfill this task means to win Socialism. All of its energy, its brains and its heart, its life and its soul, will have to be put in this struggle for victory. This is the very essential part of its class-struggle and somebody comes along and tells us that other people will do the job.

I am pretty sure that no class conscious worker will be trapped by this new form of "nationalism" and become a traitor to his International class, but if so, it would be a crime, which no amount of devotion could make good.