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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

The leader of whom was Herr von Vollmar


Progress of Socialism.

These acts were, however, accompanied by language of great decision against the Social Democrats, especially on the occasion of a great strike in Westphalia, when the emperor warned the men that for him every Social Democrat was an enemy to the empire and country. None the less, all attempts to win the working men from the doctrinaire Socialists failed. They continued to look on the whole machinery of government, emperor and army, church and police, as their natural enemies, and remained completely under the bondage of the abstract theories of the Socialists, just as much as fifty years ago the German bourgeois were controlled by the Liberal theories. It is strange to see how the national characteristics appeared in them. What began as a great revolutionary movement became a dogmatic and academic school of thought; it often almost seemed as though the orthodox interpretation of Marx's doctrine was of more importance than an improvement in the condition of the working men, and the discussions in the annual Socialist Congress resembled the arguments of theologians rather than the practical considerations of politicians. The party, however, prospered, and grew in strength beyond all anticipation. The repeal of the Socialist law was naturally welcome to them as a great personal triumph over Bismarck; in the elections of 1890 they won thirty-five, in 1893 forty-four, in 1898 fifty-six seats. Their influence was not confined to the artisans; among their open or secret adherents were to be found large numbers of government employes and clerks. In the autumn of 1890 they were able, for the first time, to hold in Germany a general meeting of delegates, which was continued annually. In the first meetings it appeared that there were strong opposing tendencies within the party which for the first time could be brought to public discussion. On the one side there was a small party, _die Jungen_, in Berlin, who attacked the parliamentary leaders on the ground that they had lent themselves to compromise and had not maintained the old _intransigeant_ spirit. In 1891, at Erfurt, Werner and his followers were expelled from the party; some of them drifted into anarchism, others disappeared. On the other hand, there was a large section, the leader of whom was Herr von Vollmar, who maintained that the social revolution would not come suddenly, as Bebel and the older leaders had taught, but that it would be a gradual evolution; they were willing to co-operate with the government in remedial measures by which, within the existing social order, the prosperity and freedom of the working classes might be advanced; their position was very strong, as Vollmar had succeeded in extending Socialism even in the Catholic parts of Bavaria. An attempt to treat them as not genuine Socialists was frustrated, and they continued in co-operation with the other branch of the party. Their position would have been easier were it not for the repeated attempts of the Prussian government to crush the party by fresh legislation and the supervision exercised by the police. It was a sign of most serious import for the future that in 1897 the electoral law in the kingdom of Saxony was altered with the express purpose of excluding the Socialists from the Saxon Landtag. This and other symptoms caused serious apprehension that some attempt might be made to alter the law of universal suffrage for the Reichstag, and it was policy of this kind which maintained and justified the profound distrust of the governing classes and the class hatred on which Social democracy depends. On the other hand, there were signs of a greater willingness among the Socialists to co-operate with their old enemies the Liberals.


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