WHILE the majority of the socialist schools believe that in a future more or less remote it will be possible to attain to a genuinely democratic order, and while the greater number of those who adhere to aristocratic political views consider that democracy, however dangerous to society, is at least realizable, we find in the scientific world a conservative tendency voiced by those who deny resolutely and once for all that there is any such possibility. As was shown in an earlier chapter, this tendency is particularly strong in Italy, where it is led by a man of weight, Gaetano Mosca, who declares that no highly developed social order is possible without a "political class," that is to say, a politically dominant class, the class of a minority. Those who do not believe in the god of democracy are never weary of affirming that this god is the creation of a childlike mythopoeic faculty, and they contend that all phrases representing the idea of the rule of the masses, such terms as state, civic rights, popular representation, nation, are descriptive merely of a legal principle, and do not correspond to any actually existing facts. They contend that the eternal struggles between aristocracy and democracy of which we read in history have never been anything more than struggles between an old minority, defending its actual predominance, and a new and ambitious minority, intent upon the conquest of power, desiring either to fuse with the former or to dethrone and replace it. On this theory, these class struggles consist merely of struggles between successively dominant minorities. The social classes which under our eyes engage in gigantic battles upon the scene of history, battles whose ultimate causes are to be found in economic antagonism, may thus be compared to two groups of dancers executing a
The democracy has an inherent preference for the authoritarian solution of important questions. It thirsts simultaneously for splendor and for power. When the English burghers had conquered their liberties, they made it their highest ambition to possess an aristocracy. Gladstone declared that the love of the English people for their liberties was equalled only by their love for the nobility. Similarly it may be said that it is a matter of pride with the socialists to show themselves capable of maintaining a discipline which, although it is to a certain extent voluntary, none the less signifies the submission of the majority to the orders issued by the minority, or at least to the rules "issued by the minority in obedience to the majority's instructions. Vilfredo Pareto has even recommended socialism as a means favorable for the creation of a new working-class élite, and he regards the courage with which the socialist leaders face attack and persecution as a sign of their vigour, and as the first condition requisite to the formation of a new "political class." 304 Pareto's
This phenomenon was perhaps recognized at an earlier date, in so far as the
As we have said, the theory that a directive social group is absolutely essential is by no means a new one. Gaetano Mosca, the most distinguished living advocate of this sociological conception, and, with Vilfredo Pareto, its ablest and most authoritative exponent, while disputing priority with Pareto, recognizes as precursors Hippolyte Taine and Ludwig Gumplowicz. 305 It is a less familiar fact, but one no less interesting, that the leading intellectual progenitors of the theory of Mosca and Pareto are to be found among the members of the school against which these writers more especially direct their attacks, namely among socialist thinkers, and especially among the earlier French socialists. In their work we discover the germs of the doctrine which at a later date was elabourated by Mosca and Pareto into a sociological system.
The school of Saint-Simon, while holding that the concept of class would some day cease to be characterized by any economic attribute, did not look for a future without class distinctions. The Saint-Simonians dreamed of the creation of a new hierarchy which was to be founded, not upon the privileges of birth, but upon acquired privileges. This class was to consist of
The school of Fourier went further still. With a wealth of detail bordering on pedantry and exhibiting more than one grotesque feature, Fourier thought out a vast and complex system. Today we can hardly restrain a smile when we study the tables he drew up describing his "spherical hierarchy," consisting of a thousand grades and embracing all possible forms of dominion from "anarchie" to "omniarchie," each of them having its special "hautes dignités" and its appropriate "hautes fonctions." 309 Sorel has well shown that the socialism of the days prior to Louis Blanc was intimately connected with the Napoleonic era, so that the Saint-Simonian and Fourierist Utopias could not live and prosper elsewhere than in the soil of the idea of authority to which the great Corsican had furnished a new splendor. 310 According to Berth, Fourier's whole system presupposes for its working the invisible but real and indispensable ubiquity of Fourier himself, for he alone, the Napoleon, as it were, of socialism, would be capable of activating and harmonizing the diverse passions of humanity. 311
Socialists of the subsequent epoch, and above all revolutionary socialists, while not denying the possibility, in the remote future, of a democratic government by majority, absolutely denied that such a government could exist in the concrete present. Bakunin opposed any participation of the working class in elections. He was convinced that in a society where the people, the mass of the wage-earners, is under the economic dominion of a minority consisting of possessors, the freest of electoral systems could be nothing more than an illusion.
The only scientific doctrine which can boast of ability to make an effective reply to all the theories, old or new, affirming the immanent necesssity for the perennial existence of the "political class" is the Marxist doctrine. In this doctrine the state is identified with the ruling class -- an identification from which Bakunin, Marx's pupil, drew the extreme consequences. The state is merely the executive committee of the ruling class, or, to quote the expression of a recent neo-Marxist, the state is merely a "trade-union formed to defend the interest of the powers-that-be." 314 It is obvious that this theory greatly resembles the conservative theory of Gaetano Mosca. Mosca, in fact, from a study of the same diagnostic signs, deduces a similar prognosis, but abstains from lamentations and recriminations on account of a phenomenon which, in the light of his general political views, he regards not merely as inevitable, but as actually advantageous to society. Aristide Briand, in the days when he was an active member of the Socialist Party, and before he had become prime minister of the "class-state," pushed the Marxist notion of the state to its utmost limits by recommending the workers to abandon isolated and local economic struggles, to refrain from dissipating their energies in partial strikes, and to deliver a united assault upon the state in the form of the general strike, for, he said, you can reach the bourgeoisie with your weapons in no other way than by attacking the state. 315
The Marxist theory of the state, when conjoined with a faith in the revolutionary energy of the working class and in the democratic effects of the socialization of the means of production, leads logically to the idea of a new social order which to the school of Mosca appears Utopian. According to the Marxists the capitalist mode of production transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, and thus digs its own grave. As soon as it has attained maturity, the proletariat will seize political power, and will immediately transform private property into state property. "In this way it will eliminate itself, for it will thus put an end to all social differences, and consequently to all class antagonisms. In other words, the proletariat will annul the state, qua state. Capitalist society, divided into classes, has need of the state as an organization of the ruling class, whose purpose it is to maintain the capitalist system of production in its own interest and in order to effect the continued exploitation of the proletariat. Thus to put an end to the state is synonymous with putting an end to the existence of the dominant class." 316 But the new collectivist society, the society without classes, which is to be established upon the ruins of the ancient state, will also need elective elements. It may be said that by the adoption of the preventive rules formulated by Rousseau in the
The constitution of a new dominant minority would, in addition, be especially facilitated by the manner in which, according to the Marxist conception of the revolution, the social transformation is to be effected. Marx held that the period between the destruction of capitalist society and the establishment of communist society would be bridged by a period of revolutionary transition in the economic field, to which would correspond a period of political transition, "when the state could not be anything other than the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." 318 To put the matter less euphemistically, there will then exist a dictatorship in the hands of those leaders who have been sufficiently astute and sufficiently powerful to grasp the scepter of dominion in the name of socialism, and to wrest it from the hand of the expiring bourgeois society.
A revolutionary dictatorship was also foreshadowed in the minimum program of Mazzini's republican party, and this led to a rupture between Young Italy and the socialist elements of the carbonari. Filippo Buonarroti, the Florentine, friend and biographer of Gracchus Babeuf, a man who at one time played a heroic part in the French Revolution, 319 and who had had opportunities for direct observation of the way in which the victorious revolutionists maintained inequality and endeavoured to found a new aristocracy, resisted with all his might the plan of concentrating the power of the carbonari in the hands of a single individual. Among the theoretical reasons he alleged against this concentration, the principal was that individual dictatorship was merely a stage on the way to monarchy. To Mazzini and his friends, Buonarroti objected that all the political changes they had in view were purely formal in character, aiming simply at the gratification of personal needs, and above all at the acquirement and exercise of unrestricted authority. For this reason Buonarroti opposed the armed rising organized by Mazzini in 1833, issuing a secret decree in which he forbade his comrades of the carbonari to give any assistance to the insurgents, whose triumph, he said, could not fail to give rise to the creation of a new ambitious aristocracy. "The ideal republic of Mazzini," he wrote, "differs from monarchy in this respect alone, that it possesses a dignity the less and an elective post the more." 320
There is little difference, as far as practical results are concerned, between individual dictatorship and the dictatorship of a group of oligarchs. Now it is manifest that the concept dictatorship is the direct antithesis of the concept democracy. The attempt to make dictatorship serve the ends of democracy is tantamount to the endeavour to utilize war as the most efficient means for the defense of peace, or to employ alcohol in the struggle against alcoholism. 321 It is extremely probable that a social group which had secured control of the instruments of collective power would do all that was possible to retain that control. Theophrastus noted long ago that the strongest desire of men who have attained to leadership in a popularly governed state is not so much the acquirement of personal wealth as the gradual establishment of their own sovereignty at the expense of popular sovereignty. 322 The danger is imminent lest the social revolution should replace the visible and tangible dominant classes which now exist and act openly, by a clandestine demagogic oligarchy, pursuing its ends under the cloak of equality.
The Marxist economic doctrine and the Marxist philosophy of history cannot fail to exercise a great attraction upon thinkers. But the defects of Marxism are patent directly we enter the practical domains of administration and public law, without speaking of errors in the psychological field and even in more elementary spheres. Wherever socialist theory has endeavoured to furnish guarantees for personal liberty, it has in the end either lapsed into the cloudland of individualist anarchism, or else has made proposals which (doubtless in opposition to the excellent intentions of their authors) could not fail to enslave the individual to the mass. Here is an example: to ensure that the literature of socialist society shall be elevated and moral, and to exclude a priori all licentious books, August Bebel proposed the nomination of a committee of experts to decide what might and what might not be printed. To obviate all danger of injustice and to secure freedom of thought and expression, Bebel added that every author must have the right of appeal to the collectivity. 323 It is hardly necessary to point out the impracticability of this proposal, which is in effect that the books, however large, regarding which an appeal is made, must be printed by the million and distributed to the public in order that the public may decide whether they are or are not fit for publication!
The problem of socialism is not merely a problem in economics. In other words, socialism does not seek merely to determine to what extent it is possible to realize a distribution of wealth which shall be at once just and economically productive. Socialism is also an administrative problem, a problem of democracy, and this not in the technical and administrative sphere alone, but also in the sphere of psychology. In the individualist problem is found the most difficult of all that complex of questions which socialism seeks to answer. Rudolf Goldscheid, who aims at a renascence of the socialist movement by the strengthening of the more energetic elements in that movement, rightly draws attention to a danger which socialism incurs, however brilliantly it may handle the problems of economic organization. If socialism, he says, fails to study the problem of individual rights, individual knowledge, and individual will, it will suffer shipwreck from a defective understanding of the significance of the problem of freedom for the higher evolution of our species -- will suffer shipwreck no less disastrous than that of earlier conceptions of world reform which, blinded by the general splendor of their vision, have ignored the individual light-sources which combine to produce that splendour. 324
The youthful German labour party had hardly succeeded in detaching itself, at the cost of severe struggles, from the bourgeois democracy, when one of its sincerest friends drew attention to certain urgent dangers. In an open letter to the Leipzig committee of the Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein, Rodbertus wrote: "You are separating yourselves from a political party because, as you rightly believe, this political party does not adequately represent your social interests. But you are doing this in order to found a new political party. Who will furnish you with guarantees against the danger that in this new party the adversaries of your class (
But there exists yet another danger. The leadership of the Socialist Party may fall into the hands of persons whose practical tendencies are in opposition with the program of the working class, so that the labour movement will be utilized for the service of interests diametrically opposed to those of the proletariat. This danger is especially great in countries where the working-class party cannot disperse with the aid and guidance of capitalists who are not economically dependent upon the party; it is least conspicuous where the party has no need of such elements, or can at any rate avoid admitting them to leadership.
When the leaders, whether derived from the bourgeoisie or from the working class, are attached to the party organism as employees, their economic interest coincides as a rule with the interest of the party. This, however, serves to eliminate only one aspect of the danger. Another aspect, graver because more general, depends upon the opposition which inevitably arises between the leaders and the rank and file as the party grows in strength.
The party, regarded as an entity, as a piece of mechanism, is not necessarily identifiable with the totality of its members, and still less so with the class to which these belong. The party is created as a means to secure an end. Having, however, become an end in itself, endowed with aims and interests of its own, it undergoes detachment, from the teleological point of view, from the class which it represents. In a party, it is far from obvious that the interests of the masses which have combined to form the party will coincide with the interests of the bureaucracy in which the party becomes personified. The interests of the body of employees are always conservative, and in a given political situation these interests may dictate a defensive and even a reactionary policy when the interests of the working class demand a bold and aggressive policy; in other cases, although these are very rare, the rôles may be reversed. By a universally applicable social law, every organ of the collectivity, brought into existence through the need for the division of labour, creates for itself, as soon as it becomes consolidated, interests peculiar to itself. The existence of these special interests involves a necessary conflict with the interests of the collectivity. Nay, more, social strata fulfiling peculiar functions tend to become isolated, to produce organs fitted for the defense of their own peculiar interests. In the long run they tend to undergo transformation into distinct classes.
The sociological phenomena whose general characteristics have been discussed in this chapter and in preceding ones offer numerous vulnerable points to the scientific opponents of democracy. These phenomena would seem to prove beyond dispute that society cannot exist without a "dominant" or "political" class, and that the ruling class, while its elements are subject to a frequent partial renewal, nevertheless constitutes the only factor of sufficiently durable efficacy in the history of human development. According to this view, the government, or, if the phrase be preferred, the state, cannot be anything other than the organization of a minority. It is the aim of this minority to impose upon the rest of society a "legal order," which is the outcome of the exigencies of dominion and of the exploitation of the mass of helots effected by the ruling minority, and can never be truly representative of the majority. The majority is thus permanently incapable of self-government. Even when the discontent of the masses culminates in a successful attempt to deprive the bourgeoisie of power, this is after all, so Mosca contends, effected only in appearance; always and necessarily there springs from the masses a new organized minority which raises itself to the rank of a governing class. 327 Thus the majority of human beings, in a condition of eternal tutelage, are predestined by tragic necessity to submit to the dominion of a small minority, and must be content to constitute the pedestal of an oligarchy.
The principle that one dominant class inevitably succeeds to another, and the law deduced from that principle that oligarchy is, as it were, a preordained form of the common life of great social aggregates, far from conflicting with or replacing the materialist conception of history, completes that conception and reinforces it. There is no essential contradiction between the doctrine that history is the record of a continued series of class struggles and the doctrine that class struggles invariably culminate in the creation of new oligarchies which undergo fusion with the old. The existence of a political class does not conflict with the essential content of Marxism, considered not as an economic dogma but as a philosophy of history; for in each particular instance the dominance of a political class arises as the resultant of the relationships between the different social forces competing for supremacy, these forces being of course considered dynamically and not quantitatively.
The Russian socialist Alexandre Herzen, whose chief permanent claim to significance is found in the psychological interest of his writings, declared that from the day in which man became accessory to property and his life a continued struggle for money, the political groups of the bourgeois world underwent division into two camps: the owners, tenaciously keeping hold of their millions; and the dispossessed, who would gladly expropriate the owners, but lack the power to do so. Thus historical evolution merely represents an uninterrupted series of oppositions (in the parliamentary sense of this term), "attaining one after another to power, and passing from the sphere of envy to the sphere of avarice." 328
Thus the social revolution would not effect any real modification of the internal structure of the mass. The socialists might conquer, but not socialism, which would perish in the moment of its adherents' triumph. We are tempted to speak of this process as a tragicomedy in which the masses are content to devote all their energies to effecting a change of masters. All that is left for the workers is the honor
Fourier defined modern society as a mechanism in which the extremest individual license prevailed, without affording any guarantee to the individual against the usurpations of the mass, or the mass against the usurpations of the individual. 331 History seems to teach us that no popular movement, however energetic and vigourous, is capable of producing profound and permanent changes in the social organism of the civilized world. The preponderant elements of the movement, the men who lead and nourish it, end by undergoing a gradual detachment from the masses, and are attracted within the orbit of the "political class." They perhaps contribute to this class a certain number of "new ideas," but they also endow it with more creative energy and enhanced practical intelligence, thus providing for the ruling class an ever-renewed youth. The "political class" (continuing to employ Mosca's convenient phrase) has unquestionably an extremely fine sense of its possibilities and its means of defense. It displays a remarkable force of attraction and a vigourous capacity for absorption which rarely fail to exercise an influence even upon the most embittered and uncompromising of its adversaries. From the historical point of view, the anti-romanticists are perfectly right when they sum up their scepticism in such caustic phraseology as this: