Stenographer s Report
"Is the failure of socialism, as evinced
by the recent partial return to capitalism,
due to the fallacies of Marxian theory?"
Professor Edwin R. A. Seligman
Head of Department of Political Economics, Columbia University
Marxian Writer, Lecturer and Teacher
Educational Director of Marx-Engels Institute
HELD AT THE
MANHATTAN OPERA HOUSE
NEW YORK CITY
SUNDAY AFTERNOON, APRIL 30th, 1922
15 SPRUCE STREET, NEW YORK
The Co-Operative Press. 15 Spruce Street, New York
Introductory Remarks of the Chairman, Clare
Opening Presentation of the Affirmative, Pro-
fessor Edwin R. A. Seligman 19
Opening Presentation of the Negative, Harry
Rebuttal of the Affirmative, Professor Edwin R.
A. Seligman 49
Rebuttal of the Negative, Harry Waton 53
Surrebuttal of the Affirmative, Professor Edwin
R. A. Seligman 60
The Russian Revolution — what a colossal event, what a
great historic reality ! By its nature, its extent and its effect upon
the human race, it eclipses all other historic events. Its greatness
showed itself in its successful resistance of the universal attempt
of the ruling class to destroy it. It manifested itself in most
illuminating light at the Genoa conference. There it showed to
the whole world that the proletariat of Russia, which was placed
into power and into possession of Russia by the Russian revolu-
tion, is the only real power in the world.
But the Russian revolution is only the beginning of the his-
toric proletarian revolution. It is Marxism in action. To under-
stand the character of the Russian revolution, its historic sig-
nificance, and its relation to the international proletarian revolu-
tion, we must understand Marxism. A knowledge of Marxism
is even more essential to know what steps the international
proletariat should now take, and to know how to direct its future
struggles against the present order of society. Never before,
therefore, was a knowledge and understanding of Marxism so
essential. Never before were such knowledge and understanding
so accessible to the masses, as they can now see it in action, see
its achievements and results.
The Marx-Engels Institute — the Marx Institute reorganized
as the Marx-Engels Institute — has always realized the value and
importance of Marxism for the international proletariat ; and for
more than twelve years it has most persistently, and in the face
of almost universal opposition and overwhelming difficulties, en-
deavored to spread among the masses a knowledge and under-
standing of Marxism. This it did through regular study classes,
lectures, debates, and the publication of books and periodicals.
The first chapter of the Russian revolution was about coming
to an end, culminating in the Genoa conference. Events were all
pointing to the eventual triumph of the Russian proletariat ; and
while the Powers of the world were making preparations for the
Genoa conference, the Marx-Engels Institute felt that this was
the most opportune time for a fundamental public discussion of
the merits of Marxism in the light of the achievements of the
Russian revolution, and this could be brought out best through a
debate between competent representatives of Marxism, on the
one hand, and Capitalism, on the other hand. As the Genoa con-
ference was progressing, making it ever more and more clear
that the Russian proletariat is the real master of the situation,
the interest of the masses in the Russian position and the doc-
trines of Marxism grew ever more and more. And under this
favorable opportunity the debate took place between Professor
Seligman and Harry Waton.
The debate was a phenomenal success. It took place in the
presence of a large and cultured gathering on the 30th of April,
1922, at the Manhattan Opera House, in New York City. The
time was opportune, the debaters were most competent, and on
this occasion were at their best. The audience responded most
readily to the spirit of the debate, and rose to the heights of the
presentation of the subject on either side. We feel sure in saying
that they will forever feel grateful to us for the opportunity
afforded them to partake in such an intellectual feast.
The Marx-Engels Institute spared neither means nor effort
to make this debate a phenomenal success, and a phenomenal
success it was indeed. The ideas presented and the thoughts
communicated and the theories developed at this debate will for
a long time remain a monumental contribution to the knowledge
and the understanding of Marxism and of the Russian revolution.
Realizing that the crystallized results of this great effort would be
of lasting value to the thoughtful and the studious, the Marx-
Engels Institute caused the debate to be taken down by a
stenographer, so as to be able to publish it, thus affording oppor-
tunity to the tens of thousands to read it, study it, and reflect on
it. It is this monumental debate that we herewith present to the
Now a few remarks about the participants of the debate.
Clare Sheridan, the English sculptress who is best known for
making the busts of the leaders of the Russian revolution, acted
as chairman. Little else is known about her in America. Her
experience and report of Russia proved her to be one of the
many, throughout the world, who see in Russia's experience a
great historic event, but, being little acquainted with the philos-
ophy of Socialism, are inspired but unconvinced. Prior to her
trip into Russia she knew nothing of the truth of Socialism.
Brought up in comfort and culture, she soon found herself estab-
lished as most people of her class.
The war broke out, and her husband, who became a captain
in the English army, was killed. For the first time in her life
she faced the problem of providing for herself and her two chil-
dren. She had talent in sculpture work which she discovered
some time before. She now thought of this talent and decided
to develop it. She progressed rapidly and in a very short time
won recognition as a great artist. She made the busts of such
men as Marconi, Asquith, Churchill and many others.
Two years ago, when Krassin was in England on a mission
from Russia, he urged her to go to Russia and make the busts
of the Russian leaders.
Her experience there proved to be the greatest event of her
life. Her desire to tell the world of it all brought her name before
the American public. The situation in which she finds herself now
made her truly fit as a chairman of such a debate.
Professor Edwin R. A. Seligman, head of the department
of political economy of Columbia University and president of the
Ethical Culture Society in New York, is one of the foremost
American men of political science. He has acquired an education
in America and Europe vouchsafed to but few. He devoted more
than forty years to the study of all phases of political science
and has gained an international reputation. He is recognized as
one of the great authorities, and his works on political economy
are used as text-books in many colleges. His library is hardly
equalled anywhere. It contains no less than thirty thousand vol-
umes covering every school of political science — books written in
the original language as well as translations. His studies included
Marxian economics which enabled him to debate the question of
Socialism from a much higher standard than that of most
opponents to Socialism.
These facts make him the outstanding figure to uphold his
side of the debate.
Harry Waton is the educational director of the Marx-Engels
Institute. This organization has for its purpose the carrying on
of classes in economics, psychology, philosophy and history in
their relation to human progress. The founder, Harry Waton, has
made it his life purpose to master the works of the greatest
master minds, past and present, and to bring this knowledge to
the working class. For more than twenty-eight years he has been
connected with the revolutionary movement of the workers.
During these years he taught thousands, who were eager to learn,
the great truths of Marx, Kant, Spinoza and many others, en-
abling them to acquire a comprehensive and progressive view of
life and history. Many of his students went to other countries
spreading the teachings of Marx the understanding of which but
few Socialists could boast.
The many who came drank from that inexhaustible fountain
of knowledge and spiritual strength. By his example of devotion
for the cause of Socialism and by his persistence he inspired
many to follow his noble example. There are many of his
students who teach, write and lecture on Socialism and kindred
subjects. His thorough understanding of the works of Marx,
through study and teaching, enabled him to comprehend and
interpret the Russian revolution from the viewpoint of that great
mind. All this enabled him to handle the subject under debate
in a masterly way.
To the thousands who read this booklet we have a word to
say. If you are an opponent of, a sympathizer for, or an
enthusiast about Socialism — it is in your interest to have a thor-
ough knowledge of this subject. There is only one correct way
to acquire this knowledge — go to the works of the founder of
Scientific Socialism — Marx. To understand these works you
may need aid. This institute is ready to give such aid.
In addition to our many activities in and near New York City
we have found need for some means to reach the serious-minded
and studious who are scattered throughout the world and who are
interested in our work. We take this opportunity to announce
the resumption this fall of the publication of "The Marxian."
As the name of this magazine implies, its primary purpose will
be to spread among the working class a deep, fundamental and
comprehensive knowledge of Socialism as understood and taught
by Marx. In the universe light is latent everywhere, yet it re-
quires a sun to manifest that light on a great scale. Likewise, in
society light is latent everywhere, yet it requires a Marx to mani-
fest that light on a great scale. The class struggle assumed his-
toric significance, and the course of social evolution became
apparent, and the working class came into ever greater power,
only tfeea when Marx shed the light of a master mind on the
inner mechanism of social life. And it is this light which the
working class need in their onward march towards their historic
goal. It is the aim of "The Marxian" to foster in the working
class a desire and to cultivate in them a capacity to seek after
such knowledge and to understand it thoroughly, so that the mem-
bers of the working class should not need to look into the mouth
of self-styled Marxists or reputed leaders in the Socialist move-
ment for light and knowledge, as they were compelled to do until
now. It will be the aim of this magazine to make the members
of the working class competent enough to read and understand
the truths and the principles of Socialism and to judge of them
in the light of our greater master minds.
And for this purpose, this magazine will continue with the
next issue a series of articles or studies under the heading, "An
Aid to the Study of 'Capital'." In this series of articles the
monumental work of Marx will be taught, explained and illus-
trated, beginning with the first and ending with the last of the
volumes of this work. This will be a work of years, but, indeed,
it is a work for years. The reader of this magazine is at once
invited to join this study class, procure the works of Marx, and
begin with the next issue and continue through the years.
That this important work should be carried on in a vigorous
and interesting manner, so as to bring to the reader the maximum
of profit, the readers will constitute themselves a sort of study
class and cooperate with one another. And we from our side will
endeavor to the best of our abilities to help them understand this
monumental work in all its fulness, difficulty and sublimity.
In addition to the study of Marx's "Capital," this magazine
will also open a department for the study of other Socialist
classics as well as for the study of other classics.
Further, this magazine shall comment on Current Events,
review books of importance, and shall produce original work
of our students and readers.
To those who wish to begin their study of Marx's works
now, we call attention to the book quoted in the debate : "The
Philosophy of Marx," by Harry Waton.
We invite all those interested in our work to write us.
W at o n
My Friends : — It is my privilege to introduce to you Pro-
fessor Seligman, professor of political science and economics
of Columbia University, and Mr. Harry Waton of the Marx-
Engels Institute, both of them well known to you.
It seems to me presumptuous that I, a foreigner, should
introduce to you your own distinguished shining lights; but
I was asked to do so, and being a woman, my vanity was
touched and I fell for it. But it seems to me there must be
millions of people better fitted to take my place.
I don't know why this honor was clone to me ; it cer-
tainly wasn't on account of my knowledge of economics. I
know a little about a few things, but I know nothing of
economics. My father, Moreton Frewen, wrote a book many
years ago called "The Economic Crisis," and he has talked
to me about bi-metallism ever since I can remember and to-
day he still sends me pamphlets on the Silver Question. He
says, if the world had done as he recommended it would be a
better world today.
Well, "the economic crisis" of which he wrote seems to
me still in the ascendent. I am glad he isn't here to hear me
say that I haven't read his treatises on silver to find out what
it is about ! Nor have I read Marx because a Marxian told
me if I did I wouldn't understand it. So, discouraged at the
start, I didn't begin.
It seems to me that the only reason for my being asked
to be Chairman of this historic meeting is just the fact that
I went into Russia at a moment when Russia, so to speak,
was not open to the public, and I came out deeply interested.
Lots of other people did that too. Some were more impressed
than others. But, they didn't most of them, start from a
sheltered conservative nursery.
My reaction to Russia was on the whole emotional and
artistic. The artist in me (and you must accept me as such
because that's all that I am) appreciated the artist in them.
Before I go any further I just want to take you into my
confidence. I can't talk unless I have an understanding with
my audience. On this solemn occasion I feel as though I was
in church and those who asked me to be Chairman knew quite
well my ignorance and that I couldn't possibly say anything
serious and relevant to the occasion, so on their own heads
They also told me that I have got to speak for twenty min-
utes, but owing to the chaos ensuing from the daylight saving
time change which began today I think that I may cut short my
speech. I feel I have no right to take up precious time which is
so needed for the contest, but it seems to me that I must say
something vaguely that has to do with the present debate and of
course Russia is the great figure looming in our background.
Incidentally, this is the very, very last time that I am ever
going to speak in public, as I don't like it ! and so, I am going to
take this occasion to tell you why I was impressed by Russia. I
will say it quite shortly but I must also explain what led to that
state of mind.
I spent some years before the war living a conventional tra-
ditional life in England which was perfectly unproductive and
perfectly futile. In fact, I endured unendurable boredom.
People don't attribute enough importance to boredom. Boredom
has often driven people to drink, to suicide and also to extremes
of vice and even to murder. Nobody except those who have been
through it know the anguish of boredom. I didn't rebel against
it. I didn't know there was any other life to live. I thought
everybody was bored and I divided them into two kinds, people
who like me were conscious of their boredom and others, luckier
ones, who were not. Then came the War.
People were no longer bored ; they were heartbroken, and I
assure you that a broken heart is more endurable than boredom.
The War affected a great many people very much as the Russian
revolution did. It forced some people to work who never had
worked before and I was one of those. The War taught me the
healing value of work. Then came to me this wonderful oppor-
tunity of going into Russia. And such was the frame of mind in
which I was prepared for Russia.
When I got there suddenly I was conscious of the great
spirit of reconstruction. The Russia that I saw seemed to me
like a gigantic piece of sculpture ; it was something modern, vital,
strong, being hewn as it were out of a mountain of rock.
I didn't ask if it was practical ; I didn't go around looking
for small faults of detail and I didn't try to criticize the technique.
I just bowed reverently before something which seemed to me a
gigantic piece of modern realism.
Here were people, cultured people, starving people, a
crushed and weary people working at something in spite of
everything", working on something that was experimental,
with no precedent to guide them, making mistakes and never
losing courage, scoffed at 'by those who stood aloof and yet
never losing belief.
That was my reaction to Russia. It is something that can
be felt rather than explained.
Your American writer who is dead, Stephen Crane, wrote
a little love poem and in three lines he expressed what I feel
about Russia. He said :
My love is a temple,
And in that temple is an altar,
And on that altar is my heart.
And I think that represents very much what Russia is to a
a great many people. It is a temple, and it has an altar, an
altar of sacrifice, on which those who love her lay their hearts.
Russia I love as I should love somebody who had brought
everything worth while into my life.
Forgive me for intruding love into this economic debate.
Love has no place here and I have no right to go on taking
precious time from the contest. I have no part in this. I am
only a perfectly good bridge between two opposing factions,
but I am content to be a bridge. What we want are more
bridges. Bridges between nation and nation and between
class and class, and between extreme thought and extremest
Every time we get together and discuss this thing
amicably, there is another bridge 'built. When Kings and
Bolshevists lunch together another bridge is built. This
doesn't mean that the King is moved nor that the Bolshevik is
convinced, but it does mean that there is a greater chance of
peace and more understanding.
This afternoon the Professor is not going to convince Mr.
Waton, and Mr. Waton is not going to move the Professor,
but I dare say there are many among you here, like me, who
are ready to be convinced, and so, go to it. Fight it out and hit
hard, but as sportsmen who want to win a game, hit without
bitterness. Good luck to both of you. (Applause.)
Prof. Seligman is going to fight for fifty minutes; Mr.
Waton will then fight for fifty minutes. Then they will return
to it, the Professor for twenty minutes and Mr. Waton for
twenty-five minutes. I hope they will keep within the scheduled
time. The Professor will have the great good luck of having
the last word. He will speak for the last ten minutes.
Professor Seligman will now have fifty minutes for the
PROFESSOR SELIGMAN: (Applause.)
Madam Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen : —
I have been urged to begin with a fight. But I shall do my
best to enter as a gentle and sucking dove trying to put you in a
good humor, if I can, and in a mood to appreciate some of the
ideas which appear to me to be important. The fight, if the fight
comes, will show itself a little later.
Now, the situation is a little embarrassing for both of us,
because the topic of the debate reads, as you know : Resolved that
the failure of Socialism in Russia, as evinced by the partial return
to capitalism, discloses the fallacies of the Marxian theory. You
see, there are three points in that statement.
The first is, Socialism has failed. That is taken for granted,
although it may not appeal to the other side. But it will perhaps
have to be explained in a few words. How has Socialism failed?
In the second place, the statement goes on to say,"a.y evinced
by the partial return to capitalism." What, exactly, does that
partial return mean? How partial is it? How complete is it?
And finally the last point, that it shows the fallacies of the
Marxian theory. Here again we must ask, what is the Marxian
theory, and what are the fallacies if there be fallacies?
So you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, there are three points
which it is incumbent on me to explain at the very beginning.
Now, before proceeding to that explanation I want to say a
word about my appreciation, and that of every scholar, not only
of the good work, the admirable work that has been done along
some lines by that mighty thinker, Karl Marx, but also about my
appreciation of the efforts of those whole-souled, devoted pro-
tagonists of the new order in Russia, who, however we may crit-
icise them here or there for what they have done or left undone,
have nevertheless succeeded in accomplishing some very remark-
able results, even if not in the economic sphere.
I take all of that for granted, however, because I assume
that the large majority of my audience today is composed of
those who know and appreciate full well most of what has been
achieved. Therefore, I go on at once to the first point in my
What has been the failure of Socialism in Europe, in Russia?
Now, of course, you can't explain what the failure has been unless
you understand what it is that they have attempted to accomplish
and then in what respects they have failed to achieve it.
As I look upon it, there are five points in the program of
Marx accepted by the present leaders of Russia which picture, as
it were, the ideal to be achieved. What are those five points which
have been attempted?
The first is what you might call the complete socialization of
all economic effort, of all production and of all consumption.
Marx, as we know, looked forward to the time when the revolu-
tion having once been accomplished, there would be a complete
socialization, first — I don't mean first in time — but first in order,
of agriculture, then of industry, and then of commerce and trade.
That means that all the private machinery of production, land,
implements of agriculture, stock in trade, factories, machines and
the whole complicated organism of commerce and trade should
be taken out of the hands of individuals who utilize it for private
profit and put into the hands of the group, whether small groups
working in harmony with each other, or ultimately the large
group, the State, the whole national organization.
That was the first idea, socialization, disappearance of private
property in all the means of production, and a method of distri-
bution of wealth which would be maintained and developed by
this communal social spirit.
The second point is a corollary of the first ; that all private
trade should disappear, that with the victory of the proletariat
or the real working class, the bourgeoisie in the sense of the
smaller property owners and of the larger capitalists, would go,
and with the disappearance of trade, of commerce, of private
commerce and of the bourgeoisie speculation would of course
The third point, naturally, would follow, that as a conse-
quence of these two phenomena money would no longer be
needed, because since there would be no more private production
and no more private products, there would not be any sale of pri-
vate products. There would not be anyone who could buy those
things, because there would only be the social group as a possible
purchaser, and the social group would not purchase anything but
would simply produce everything that was to be produced and dis-
tribute it without the intermediary of bargain and sale.
Money, therefore, would no longer act as a standard of
value; money would no longer be needed and we should come to
what is conceived to be a far higher and better form of transfer
of labor products.
The fourth point would be a consequence of the preceding,
namely that labor now being under this aegis of national produc-
tion, the whole community now being composed of laborers,
everyone working, there being no non-worker, no faineant, no
idle recipient of interest or rent, everyone would work equally
and every one would be paid equally. That is to say, every one
would have an equal share in production, and an equal share in
the enjoyment or the emoluments of production. With this
equality which is one of the fundamental tenets of the Marxian
theory there would also go liberty, because when all these
shackles will have been stricken off the productive forces of
humanity, we shall have complete equality and complete liberty.
The final conclusion, the fifth point, is that as a result of all
these preceding forces, there would be a great increase of wealth,
a great increase of production, and universal prosperity. This is
clearly brought out by Marx and also by Lenin. At all events,
if not a very great increase, at least a maintenance of the present
production and a far more equal and ideal distribution. That
means happiness, that means the reconstructed order of the fu-
ture. That is the program of Marx, and the program of Lenin
as contained in his book that was published just before the
Now, then, coming to the second problem, what is the result?
What were the difficulties that were encountered by the statesmen
in working out this great theory?
In the first place, as regards socialization, let us discuss the
socialization of land. In 1918 Lenin started out with the decree
which constituted the Soviet estates, where the old estates of the
large land-owners were taken over and were to be worked on
co-operative lines under the order of the Soviet Commissars. In
addition to these Soviet estates or examples of direct central so-
cialization all the rest of private property in land was to be
socialized and production was to be carried on in common by the
Almost from the very beginning, however, reluctance was ob-
served on the part of the peasants to conform to this plan. Al-
though the Soviet leaders attempted to bring about the so-called
"War of Classes" on the land by introducing among the small
and middle peasants, the so-called proletarian peasants, the only
result was to intensify the idea on the part of the great mass of
the peasants — eighty-five or ninety per cent of the population of
Russia — that the revolution meant to them not any socialization
of land, but the getting for each peasant a little more land than
he had before and getting it in a much clearer and definite way
than he had before.
The whole attempt at socialization of the land broke down as
had, indeed, already been warned by some of the Socialistic
writers like David, ten or fifteen years ago. So that before long
the government was compelled to adopt an entirely different plan.
They now recognized this invincible obstinacy on the part of
the peasants. They saw that there was growing up on these con-
fiscated estates a differentiation between the peasants, and the
development of the large peasant, the able man who was getting
more land gradually. The Government now, in 1919, said to the
peasants, you may keep your private property but you will have
to fit into our general social scheme. Therefore, you will be
allowed to retain only as much as you need to support yourself
and your family, and all the rest of your produce you will have
to give up to us.
That was the program of confiscation of the surplus produce,
the Government still maintaining the idea that the produce of the
land belonged to the whole community.
What was the result of this second program? The natural
result was that the peasant refused to work as long as he knew
that he had to give up all of his surplus. Therefore, he produced
only enough to support himself and not enough to go to the towns
to support the population there. This led finally to such an im-
mense decrease of output that in 1921, when starvation stared
them in the face, the whole policy was again changed. As we
shall see in a moment, this idea of making the peasant a part of
the huge state-wide enterprise was completely abandoned, and
with this the socialization of the land disappeared. Of the present
situation I shall speak in a few minutes.
The breakdown of Socialism in the land was followed by a
similar breakdown in industry. At first the theory, as I have said,
that the workmen should take over the factories and that all
should work and be paid equally ; there was, however, such an
immediate falling-off in output and such an alarming increase of
expense that it took only a few months before the first theory, I
that of equality of pay, was abandoned. In 1918 there were
introduced one by one all the characteristics of our capitalistic
regime of remuneration of labor, inequality of pay, bonuses, re- l
numeration for overwork, penalties for non-work, and the like.
But that didn't help much. When the workmen took over
the industries the managers all left,, and the workmen, without
any control, soldiered on their jobs, that is, instead of working,
they loafed accordingly. Within a short time Trotzky, as you I
remember, issued his famous order : "No more equality, no more
liberty; we shall now militarize all the workingmen." Every
person was now compelled to work, either as a member of the Red
Army or in the industrial army, of course with this militarization
of labor the old ideas of liberty and equality completely dis-
It is true that a beautiful labor code was drawn up with the
most magnificent and generous provisions, but one by one they
were neglected as they had to be neglected in order to keep up
even a pitiful proportion of the output.
I shan't trouble you with the figures, but in the main it may
be said that in every industry, month by month, the expense in-
creased so prodigiously and the output diminished so greatly
that by 1920 there was only about four to ten per cent, and in
some cases very much less than that, not more than one per cent
of what it was before the revolution. What that means can well
The militarization of labor, therefore, didn't do much good
in the way of increasing the output. As the workmen now no
longer were able even to get enough to keep them alive, all the
usual concomitants of disorganization appeared, slackness of
work, malingering, corruption in every form, even theft of every
possible material, until finally the debacle became apparent. As
all the old managers had been killed off or sent off, or gone off,
there now ensued a veritable crisis, resulting finally in starvation
with a general collapse of all industry.
That was the actual result of the effort at socialization of
industry. The further consequences of course were to be ex-
pected. We come thus, in the second place, to the projected dis-
appearance of the trader and the speculator.
Of course, under these conditions mentioned above, trade
returned and speculation returned and the bourgeoisie returned.
But it was now clandestine and secret trade. It was the secret
trader from whom you could buy what you wanted. And we
soon witnessed all the excesses of secret speculation which were
not restrained. Of the bourgeoisie I don't speak much save to
mention the Sov-Bur, the new bourgeoisie of the Soviet bu-
reaucracy. They are the ones who have had the inside track.
They alone were able not only to support themselves, but to make
money and become rich. The Sov-Bur is today the great phenom-
enon in Russia, as is the ordinary bourgeois in France, Italy and
in this country. Read in Mr. Harrison's book of the champagne
suppers at the homes of the Sov-Bur.
Thirdly, money instead of becoming less important, is be-
coming more important. At first with the idea that money was
to be of no value, the government printed more and more bills.
On the first of last month there was in existence in Russia
eighteen trillions of paper rubles.
We got accustomed during the war to speak of millions and
even of billions, but it remained for Russia to bring to us the
conception of a trillion, a million million, and I think it was on
the first of February that a gold ruble was worth 260,000 paper
rubles. Of course you can tell exactly just how much paper a
good housewife would have to carry with her in order to buy her
eggs, jams and the other goods which she could always get in a
certain way at those clandestine speculative shops. In fact the
paper money industry in Russia is the only industry which has
been prosperous. The workmen in the State printing offices zvork
in two shifts, twelve hours each; it is the only industry which has
really accomplished anything. That is the result of the money
We come, fourthly, to liberty and equality. The equality of
the workman can best be gauged by remembering the details of
the report of the Italian Socialist Commission, which, on return-
ing from Russia after examining the situation in 1920, said :
"Yes, the only equality that had been attained is the equality of
universal misery." That's the equality for the workingman.
As regards liberty, I need not point out the very travesty
of liberty consequent upon this militarization of labor. You had
about as much liberty in industry as you have in the Army. Labor
became more and more wretched as time went on. I could read
you many documents if there were time. Not alone did the day's
labor become nine hours, but ten, twelve, fourteen and sixteen
hours a day.
Not only do we see child labor again, but woman labor again,
one by one we find pretty much all the old abuses which were
found in the former system, all coming again inevitably to the
And, finally, what about the reduction of output? Reduction
of output was such that on the land even two or three years ago
careful statisticians even in Soviet Russia warned of an impend-
ing famine. They pointed out that the least little trouble of a
climatic kind would bring about a catastrophe such as had never
been known before outside of China in civilized society. Their
predictions were verified and the result is that you now have got-
ten back to the conditions of mediaeval economic life.
The population of Russia which had been above one hun-
dred and eighty millions was reduced to one hundred and thirty
millions. The population of the cities has been going down by
leaps and bounds, forty-four per cent in Moscow and more in
some others. Russia is gradually getting away from a condition
of modern civilized society, and reverting back to the misery
and the barbarism of mediaeval civilization.
Don't say that this is a result of fighting during the two or
three years. Don't say that it is the result of the blockade or of
the famine. I have statistics galore which I could read to you to
prove that, notwithstanding all of the changes that have been
made, the diminution of production in both agriculture and in-
dustry is going on at the same rate since there has been peace,
since there was an opening of trade with Latvia and other coun-
tries, since all the war and all the war efforts have ceased. No,
the real trouble has been the disorganization of the conditions of
production and consumption that I have pointed out.
Now then, finally, what was the result ? The result was real-
ized by all the Soviet leaders themselves, that the old game was
up, and that the endeavor to rely on socialism or communism in
peace time was hopeless. What the country now needed was cap-
italism, not socialism. Thus beginning eight months ago, one after
another, each element in the whole situation has been reversed.
Now what has been done? First on the land, private property
has been in effect completely re-established. The peasants are al-
lowed to produce as they like and to sell of their produce to whom-
ever they like, and are required only to pay just as we do in this
country, a tax to the state. There is now no difference between
Russia and the United States so far as ninety per cent, of the
people is concerned. Profits, private profits, private sale and
private property have been re-established on the land.
In industry, what has been done? First, the effort to get
foreign concessions ; giving the foreign concessionaires all the
powers of unitary management over the whole enterprise. Labor
has no more power at all Trotzky himself has recently written
a book to show how important it is to have what he calls unitary
management now. Labor in Russia has now less voice in the
business than in many an American enterprise. The government
says to the coming concessionaires: get as much money as you
can, and make as high profits as you can, and it says this not only
to the foreigner, but aiso within the country. First to the small
bourgeois it says : introduce competition, increase output, make
as much money as you can, and finally large industry also. So
far as large industry is still in the hands of the State, the State
is to follow the plan of purchase and sale just as the private
individual. But it also says to the able engineers and managers:
come and take these large industries and develop them. You saw
in the papers this morning, that under the new plan proposed
to the foreign countries, the new managers are to get all their
property or enterprises on long leases for 99 or 999 years, just
as some of our railroads got control of their former competitors
by leasing them. There is no difference between the economic
aspect of a long lease or private ownership. The land of Eng-
land today still all belongs in theory to the king.
So that you have, one by one, every phase of private property
being brought back. So in the same way with the cooperatives
which were all done away with. Now an effort is being made in
the case of the credit cooperatives and of the production co-
operatives to bring them back. So the trade unions are being re-
constituted in order to be able to fight the employers.
Thirdly the old idea that money is to be done away with has
gone by the boards, like all other ideas, money is now accepted as
such an invaluable measure of value that the Russian economists
of the Soviet group are now devising ways and means of es-
tablishing the standard of value. But with the trillions outstand-
ing that is an almost impossible task. Finally we have now not
only private property in land, not only private property or what
amounts to it in industry, we also have private property and
private profits in capital and trade. We have the big state bank
which now pays interest and which contracts loans. We have a
Chamber of Commerce constituted of people who do usually what
they like. We have trade carried on by individuals and groups.
By all these means it is hoped that every man in Russia, and
out of Russia, will be induced to increase the output by working
for himself. The government says : it is wise for capitalism to be
re-introduced. Then we shall learn from the capitalists how to
conduct ourselves, and then the time will come when we shall be
able to re-introduce Socialism, Communism and Socialization.
What a pitiful, what a childish idea, — The idea that by strengthen-
ing Capitalism you will create socialists out of capitalists!
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the record of what had been
accomplished. In other words, one by one every one of the ideas
of Marx as worked out first by Lenin and then by Trotzky,
every one of them in turn has disappeared. The original com-
munism gave way to state socialism, state socialism gave way
to a modified or militarized private property, militarized private
property has finally given way to frank capitalism, with rent and
interest, with money and profits, with trade and speculation.
In one .way or other we have, to all intents and purposes,
except in name, all the worst features of modern capitalism and
none of the real saving forces which are beginning to operate
in some other countries that have capitalism.
Now, then, I have shown to you the breakdown, I could give
you by the hour if I had time, quotations from Lenin's speeches
and all modern writers. The refrain everywhere is: We have
failed, we must make a retreat. But, Lenin says, one defeated
man is worth two undefeated men. Therefore, let us make an-
Then the question is, how many defeats will he still have to
undergo before he gets a success?
We come, then, in closing to the last problem. What are the
theories of Marx which have led to this situation? They are, in
short, as follows :
First, there is the Marxian theory of economic or materialistic
interpretation of history; that you must interpret all history in
terms of economic facts. I haven't much to say against that. I
have written a book on that subject myself, and in a certain sense
there is a great deal of truth in the statement that economic facts
do largely mold the framework of the society within which strife
is developed. It is, however, in the first place exaggerated to
think that it is only economic causes that influence the world.
Take the last war. Economic forces no doubt had something
to do with it. But we know how large a role nationalist, religious
and purely political forces have played. See what is going on in
Ireland today and elsewhere.
It is unnecessary to point out that there are a great many
other forces in addition to the economic forces that explain human
But apart from that, the real weakness of the Marxian theory
is the peculiar version. I object not so much to economic inter-
pretation as to his particular brand of interpretation. The Marx-
ian version in my opinion is a fallacy. Why so?
First, the Marxian theory of value, of profits, and of the
whole substratum of modern economic life, Marx took this from
Ricardo. One was the founder of individualism, the other the
founder of Socialism. One a Spanish Jew and one a German
Jew ; two of the keenest intellects we have ever had.
Without going into the refinements of economic theory, for
which this is not the place, I want to point out that the surplus
value theory of profits, the theory that profits come simply
through taking away from the laborer the surplus of the value
that is created by him, a theory that was first formulated many
years before Marx in England, that whole theory is patently
fallacious, as anyone can see from looking at the facts today.
Take Mr. Ford, with whose philosophic opinions I don't
always agree. Would we say that his wealth has been due to the
surplus value of the work created by his workmen? Take McCor-
mick of the McCormick Reaper, or Westinghouse of the Westing-
house Air Brake. Take any of those men whose inventions,
whose brains have redounded to the wealth of the community
because they have decreased cost. Would you say that all their
profits are due to filching from labor? What would the labor have
amounted to without. him?
/ don't deny there are many profits today which arc unholy.
I don't deny there arc illegitimate speculative profits, that there
are fraudulent commercial profits, that there is a maltreatment
of labor and all that. What I do mean to say is that the funda-
mental theory of Marx is a fallacy. The modern theory of profits
is that profits in the long run are a reward for service and that
the man who invests capital, who applies the brains and who re-
duces costs, like Ford, or McCormick, or Westinghouse, while
he perhaps makes inordinate profits for himself, yet in the main
gives more to the community than he gets from it.
The next theory of Marx was the pauperization of the work-
ingman, the theory that as society develops and capitalism grows,
the workman will be pushed into a worse and worse position, till
finally he will be ready for revolution because he can't make
body and soul meet.
When Marx was making studies for his book in the 30's and
40's, when he was formulating his ideas, it looked very much
that way, in the beginning of the factory system in England. But
we know now that the facts have gone the other way. We know
that there has been not alone an absolute increase of wages in all
countries like England, the United States or Germany, but also
a relative increase in wages.
We know there is less revolutionary spirit in England to-
day than in the eighteenth century, and that on the whole, things
are not getting worse, but are getting better. Of this I can simply
state approximately, I have not time to give facts and figures.
I can state only what is the accepted verdict of sound and impar-
tial thinkers today even among the Socialists.
Take Bernstein, take the revisionists, take Tugan
Bogdanovsky. They all agree that that statement of Marx
and that theory must be abandoned.
Then we come to the next great theory of Marx, the theory
that capitalism carries within itself its own death knell because
we have these commercial riots, each one becoming more and
more intense until finally there will be a a collapse. This theory
of the cataclysm of society rests upon the theory of the concen-
tration of industry; the theory, namely, that as capitalism goes on,
capital will be centralized and concentrated more and more in a
few hands. That looked very plausible when Marx wrote. But
Marx reckoned without his hosts.
It is true that we have a growing integration of industry
as exemplified in the United States Steel and all the other Trusts.
But Marx did not foresee that instead of capitalists becoming
fewer and fewer, through the modern corporation which dev-
eloped only since 1850, through the operation of corporate in-
vestment in capital, capital is being disseminated instead of
concentrated and that there are continuously more and more
competitors springing up instead of less.
Only the other day the head of the Standard Oil Trust in
Indiana told me there are more competitors in oil today than
there were twenty or thirty years ago.
Marx's thought has turned out not to be a fact.
So also with his theory of the cataclysm of society. Marx
wrote, and it is perfectly explicable that he should write, in
view of the crisis of 1818, 1835 and 1857 each of which was
worse than its predecessor. It looked as if what he said would
be true and that things would get worse and worse.
But the crisis of 73 wasn't much worse than that of '57.
The crisis of '84 was less than that of '73 and the crisis of 1907
was still less intense in this country and really didn't amount to
much abroad, and finally at the present time the present de-
pression with all the troubles of the war, with the present un-
employment situation, doesn't begin to compare in gravity with
what it was in the 90's or the 70's.
What Marx did not foresee is that there are certain forces
which go far to explain why crises under the modern organiza-
tion of capitalist society are becoming less and less severe in-
stead of more and more severe. You will never get a cataclysm
Moreover the fallacy of the theory is in Russia itself.
According to the Marxian theory where ought the revolu-
tion to break out? The revolution ought to break out in the
country where there is the most developed and extreme form of
private capitalism as in England, United States and Germany.
Yet in all of those countries there has been no revolution and
there is less revolutionary spirit today than ten years ago, or
fifty years ago, and nothing comparable to what it was in Eng-
land a hundred years ago.
Where has it broken out? In Russia where there was no
capitalism, instead of in the country where there was the most
capitalism. As a result of this failure of the theorv, and of the
failure of the revolution to spread to others and more capital-
istic countries. Lenin and Trotzky now say that we must develop
a capitalism — state controlled, indeed, but still a private capital-
ism in Russia. The Soviet leaders are today preaching on every
platform throughout Russia, arguments and doctrines for which
men were sent to the executioner or the firing squad only a few
The very arguments that were used by the Mensheviks and
the others are being used by the Bolshevists today. Yes, indeed,
we were wrong.
I still have five minutes left so that I can not explain the
last point, namely, the fallacy underlying Marx's theory of the
war of classes and how that has been disproved by recent events
in Russia. Marx with all his ability made an inadequate analysis
of movements as they were going on at that time. He reminds
me for all the world of Henry George, another great thinker,
another man who has done much for the world today.
Henry George worked up his theory of the Single Tax be-
cause he lived in California at a time when everything seemed
to point to the aggregation of land in a few large hands — the
bonanza farms. The Single Tax movement has disappeared today
everywhere as anything to count with because we know that
things have gone just in the opposite direction. We know now
that our farms are getting to be less in size, smaller than they
were, and that tenancy is not increasing in the sense it was pre-
dicted by George and the others.
So in the same way Karl Marx lived in the infancy of the
capitalist system. Things were going badly in England at the J
time and he formulated a theory which seemed to be true in all
those countries where capitalism was first introduced. But like
George he failed to foresee the future.
Now, then, ladies and gentlemen, my respected antagonist
must show these things in order to convince me and to win the
debate. He has got to show first that the debacle and the col-
lapse of production has been due not to the inherent tendencies
of communism, but that they have been due to the war or the
blockade. He must also disprove the facts which I have quoted
to show that there was developing a situation of socialism which
would gradually bring about the conditions of a famine, even in
all those districts outside of the real famine districts itself.
In the next place he must take up one by one the Marxian
theories. He must show that I am wrong in stating that the
theory of surplus profits is a fallacy.
He must show that concentration of capital is developing
apace, in refutation of my statement that there is a growing dis-
semination rather than concentration of capital.
He must show, in the fourth place, that crises are becoming
worse instead of becoming less severe. He must show finally
that all those facts that I have mentioned about the liberty of the
workmen, about the incentive on the part of the peasant, that all
those alleged facts are false facts.
If my respected antagonist can do that, if, instead of keep-
ing, as he might otherwise do, to a philosophic discussion as to
the general advantages of Marxism he will come down to bed-
rock and meet me on the points that I have made, one by one,
then I shall be glad, indeed, to take up the issue with him.
Mr. Waton will now have fifty minutes for the negative.
Madam Chairman and Comrades :
The Russian Revolution is a great historic reality. In nature,
extent and effect upon the human race it transcends all other
revolutions known in history. It is impossible for us, standing
so near this colossal event adequately to appreciate its historic
significance. It seems to be a universal law of Nature that any
of her manifestations on a grand scale can be perceived and
appreciated only from a great distance. For instance, the report
of a volcanic eruption, though distinctly heard by persons standing
hundreds of miles away from the volcano, is hardly heard by
persons standing near it. The Russian revolution is an event of
so great a nature, and in its consequences will be so fundamental
and far-reaching, that it will take generations of historians and
philosophers clearly to perceive its grand outlines and adequately
to appreciate its effect upon the life and the progress of the
human race. The Russian revolution is unprecedented in history,
and therefore in its consequences it will be unparalleled. With
the Russian revolution mankind passed from the state of boy-
hood and entered into the state of manhood. But the Russian
revolution is Marxism in action!
Since 1847, when the historic function of the international
proletariat found an adequate expression in the "Communist
Manifesto," Marxism had become ever more and more a light
and guide to the working class of the world. For more than
seventy years Marxism had been studied most assiduously, had
been subjected to a most rigorous criticism, and had become the
cause and centre of the fiercest and most comprehensive intellec-
tual and spiritual struggle of modern times. At last the time
came for Marxism to emerge from the realm of thought and to
enter into the realm of action, to demonstrate its soundness and
feasibility in the crucible of practical experience ; and the Russian
revolution afforded the opportunity.
When in 1917, the imperialistic war, itself the result of the
inherent contradictions of capitalism — the greatest crisis that the
ivorld ever sazv — and this in answer to my opponent's statement
that the crises became ever milder and smaller — when the impe-
rialistic war created in Europe a revolutionary situation, which
aroused the European proletariat from the nightmare of the war
and infused in them a revolutionary spirit, it was inevitable that
the revolutionary potentiality should become an actuality; and,
as motion is in the direction of least resistance, it was natural
that that great, historic, revolutionary potentiality should find
reality and actuality first in Russia, the country in which there was
at the time the most fundamental and most comprehensive con-
tradiction between the great intellectual and spiritual progress of
the nation, and especially the great intellectual and spiritual, pro-
gress of the Russian proletariat, and the antiquated and barbarous
nature of its political institutions — a contradiction that rendered
Russian society most unstable and therefore least capable of
resisting a great social disturbance. And hence the Russian revo-
At first the character of the Russian revolution was unde-
termined. It was not certain whether it would degenerate to a
mere bourgeois revolution, (as every bourgeois revolution in the
twentieth century must be a degenerate revolution), or it would
rise to the height and dignity of a proletarian revolution. But
when the Bolsheviki came into power and began to direct the
revolution along the lines of Marxism, then the proletarian
character of the revolution became definitely established. The
historic function of the international proletarian revolution is to
expedite, regulate and control the great historic process that
transforms mankind from the state of capitalism, through social-
ism, into the state of communism. The proletarian revolution,
though in form appears at first to be limited in scope and nation-
alistic in purpose, in substance it is universal in scope, interna-
tional in aim, and tends to become a world revolution. Once the
proletarian revolution started it will not cease until it has covered
the entire earth, has comprehended the whole human race, and
has firmly established the state of communism. (Applause).
The Russian revolution is but the first chapter of the great inter-
national proletarian revolution ; and a most splendid chapter it is
The ruling powers, reading in the Russian revolution their
doom and inevitable annihilation, united in a universal attack
upon the revolution. Through their hired Balaams they flooded
the world with lies, falsehoods and criminal misrepresentations
about Russia, seeking therewith to poison the mind of the rest of
the human race and to arouse their passions against the Russian
revolution. They set up gigantic counter-revolutionary plots, and
fomented civil war. They instituted formidable invasions upon
Russia, and instigated the neighboring bankrupt nations for a
Judas' pay to wage a war of extermination against Russia. And
to cap it all, they surrounded Russia with an iron blockade, iso-
lating Russia from the rest of the world and cutting off the Rus-
sians from the means of life. Thus with fiendish vindictiveness
and hellish means they sought to destroy the Russian revolution.
And though the enemies of the Russian revolution were
many, rich and powerful, while its friends were few, poor and
weak, yet such is the sublime truth, the divine wisdom and mar-
vellous power of Marxism that by its aid it conquered all its
enemies and came out of the struggle victorious, triumphant. The
Russian revolution was not destroyed, the Bolsheviki were not
overthrown, and Marxism was not defeated. On the contrary,
the Russian revolution has become more and more a living his-
toric reality, the Bolsheviki have become more firmly intrenched
in power, and Marxism, more than ever before, is now battling
for the cause of the international proletariat. Nay, more than
this, the situations and roles have changed. Only a while ago the
Russian revolution feared capitalism, now capitalism fears the
Russian revolution. (Applause.)
The capitalist ruling class, having failed to destroy the Rus-
sian revolution, having failed to overthrow the Bolsheviki, having
failed to discredit Marxism, having failed to rehabilitate capital-
ism in their own countries, having failed to remove the cause that
constantly increases the number of unemployed and constantly
foster in the proletariat a spirit of revolution, having failed to
safeguard themselves against the impending revolution, they were
compelled to conclude peace with the Russian revolution. They
called to a peace conference the very Bolsheviki whom they had
branded as murderers, bandits and enemies of society, of civiliza-
tion, of religion, family, property and order. They invited them
to the Genoa conference, and to this conference, not the English,
not the French, not the Italians, but the Russians came as victors,
and carried away the victors' prize. (Applause.) The treaty
between Russia and Germany is worth to Russia infinitely more
than the Versailles treaty means to the capitalist countries.
And so it came to pass that since the Russian delegation came
to Genoa, the Germans on their side, the Allied Powers on their
side, and even the Catholic Church on its side, each party sought
to convince the Russian delegation in its favor; and, as Marx
says, "him whom we seek to convince we recognize the master of
the situation," the world recognizes the Russian proletariat as the
master of the situation ; and, indeed, the Russian proletariat, as
we shall presently see, is the master of the situation.
Such has heen the wonderful achievement of the Russian
revolution; such is the suhlime truth, the divine wisdom and the
marvellous power of Marxism ! Well may we say now with the
Psalmist: "The stone which the builders despised and rejected
has become the chief corner-stone." The down-trodden, despised
and illiterate proletariat of Russia has become the chief corner-
stone of reconstruction !
In the meantime, however, the Russians have undergone a
terrible ordeal. The profuse bleeding of the nation and the
economic ruin of the country that resulted from the Russian par-
ticipation in the imperialistic war before the revolution, and the
life and death struggle of the Russians since the beginning of the
revolution, compelled the Russian leaders to content themselves,
and only for the time being, with a less ambitious plan of recon-
struction upon a communistic basis than they had at first hoped
for. This is taken by the upholders of the present order as a
fact that proved that socialism failed in Russia, that the Russians
partially returned to capitalism, and that this proves that Marx-
ism is fallacious.
Hazing failed to destroy the Russian revolution by force,
they nozv direct their attack against Marxism, and right they are.
Marxism is the light, the guide, the soul, the strength and the
pozver of the proletarian revolution, and the Russian revolution
is but the beginning of the proletarian revolution. Without
Marxism it would have been impossible. And today we have as-
sembled here to continue that struggle upon an intellectual plane,
making Marxism the point of attack and defence.
My opponent framed the issue of the debate, not in the form
of a resolution, as he stated to you, but in the form of the follow-
ing questions : "Is the failure of socialism in Russia, as evinced by
the partial return to capitalism, due to the fallacies of Marxian
theory ?" My opponent answers it in the affirmative ; I answer it
in the negative.
My opponent sought to impose certain conditions attached
to the phrasing of the subject for debate, but he had never con-
sulted me about those conditions before we came here. He simply
gave me the wording as it is, and I accepted it. I am therefore
at liberty to construe it as I understand it. And just as lawyers
in a similar situation interpose what is called a general denial, I,
in taking the negative, deny everything. (Applause.)
At the outset, comrades, I must call your attention to, and I
must ask you to bear most distinctly in your mind, the following :
First. The debate concerns itself primarily about Marxism,
and only secondarily, if at all, about socialism; that is, the ques-
tion before us is, whether Marxism is true, sound, feasible, or
not ; but it is not the question before us, whether socialism is good
or bad, workable or not.
I call your attention to this, not because I am shy of the
subject of socialism. On the contrary, I should have been only
too glad to go into this question. But, because the subject for
debate is Marxism, the merits of socialism would be irrelevant.
Second. As the subject for the debate is framed, it involves
the assumption of the following three facts : First, that the Rus-
sians had the necessary means and the proper opportunity to in-
augurate and establish socialism in Russia. Second, that social-
ism failed in Russia. Third, that there was in Russia a partial
return from socialism to capitalism.
My opponent assumes these three facts, and upon them as a
premise he builds his conclusion that Marxism therefore proved
itself to be a fallacy. I deny these facts. I deny that the Rus-
sians had the necessary means and the proper opportunity to
inaugurate and successfully to establish socialism in Russia. I
deny that socialism failed in Russia. I deny that there was in
Russia a partial return from socialism to capitalism. I therefore
deny the conclusion that Marxism proved itself to be fallacious.
Third. My opponent seeks to attack Marxism. He seeks to
prove that Marxism is fallacious by the actions and the methods
pursued by the Bolsheviki in Russia. By the very position that
my opponent takes he is compelled to recognize the Bolsheviki as
Marxists. For, if he should say they are not Marxists, their
actions and methods could not be laid at the door of Marxism,
My opponent is therefore compelled to recognize unhesitatingly
and absolutely the Bolsheviki as Marxists. Being Marxists, their
policy and their actions can be laid at the door of Marxism.
But we know that the socialists were absolutely and most
bitterly opposed to the Bolshevik principles, methods, policies and
ideas. We know that between the Bolsheviki and the Socialists
there was a life and death struggle. We know that the socialists
had no share in the direction of the revolution and all that had
since been done by the Bolsheviki.
Since my opponent is compelled to recognize the Bolsheviki
as Marxists, and since the socialists were opposed to them, he is
for the same reason compelled to recognize the socialists as not
being Marxists, and their doctrines and ideas therefore can have
absolutely no bearing upon Marxism.
I do not want to say that among the socialists there are no
Marxists. I do not want to say that the socialists have not pro-
duced Marxists. But for the purposes of the subject for debate
before us, and springing, as it does, from the very nature of the
position which my opponent takes, he cannot consider the social-
ists and the Bolsheviki on the same level. Either the Bolsheviki
are Marxists or the socialists are Marxists. But, since he ac-
cepted the Bolsheviki as Marxists, he must rule the socialists out
of court, and disregard their judgment and opinion.
Therefore, when my opponent went to the Italian commis-
sion, the socialist commission, when he went to Bernstein, Tugan
Bogdanovsky, and the others, he had no right to do it, because
the opinion of socialists has absolutely no bearing on Marxism
in questions in which Russia and the Bolsheviki are concerned.
Therefore, I rule all these out of court, as being irrelevant, im-
material and incompetent, and I shall never advert a single word
to any of the references made by my opponent to the socialists.
We are dealing here only with Marxism. Now then, let us
examine the facts upon which my opponent built his whole theory.
My opponent assumes that the Russians had the necessary means
and the proper opportunity to inaugurate and establish socialism
in Russia. He insisted that since the war stopped in 1918, they
should have had all the opportunities and the means to inaugurate
and establish socialism.
We are not foreigners to Russia, and we know something
about the Russian revolution and the conditions under which it
was carried out. I ask, what warrant did my opponent have to
make the assumption that the Russians had the necessary means
and the proper opportunity to inaugurate and establish socialism
in Russia? And, if my opponent cannot demonstrate this, as I
shall presently tell you he must, then it is entirely absurd to speak
of a failure of socialism in Russia. In other words, if the Rus-
sians did not have ample means and the proper opportunity to
inaugurate and establish socialism in Russia, and it is even more
absurd to lay that failure of socialism in Russia at the door of
Marxism. Now, let us see the facts.
Before the Russian revolution broke out the Russians had
gone through a most terrible ordeal. About eight million Rus-
sians had been killed and crippled in the imperialistic war before
the revolution. All industry had been paralyzed and was almost
at a standstill. All means of life had almost entirely been con-
sumed, wasted and destroyed. The granary of Russia, Ukrainia,
was in the hands of the Germans, and Siberia was then in the
hands of outside powers. Under these conditions the Russians
were drawn into a revolutionary struggle. Then they had to
take up the struggle anew against an enemy more formidable
than the Central Powers were. Since the outbreak of the revo-
lution the Russians were compelled to abandon all constructive
work and concentrate all their efforts, means and time to a life
and death struggle with their enemies. During all this time the
Russians had not a single day of peace nor a moment of rest.
They therefore did not have the means and the opportunity to
inaugurate and establish socialism ; they had neither the means
nor thenpportunity to do any reconstructive work upon any basis,
capitalistic, socialistic or communistic.
The Russians were in a position like that of a man who, after
he had fought fiercely against beasts and had with great effort
succeeded to reclaim a piece of land, and just as he is about to
begin to cultivate the land and to build a home for himself, a
gang of bandits armed with deadly weapons were to attack him
from all sides with the intention of killing him and taking away
from him the land. And while he is fighting with the bandits for
his life, someone from a distance were to jeer at him that he
failed to cultivate the land and build the house, and failed to
establish himself. Is it not preposterous, to say the least, to ex-
pect the Russians to have succeeded to implant socialism in
Russia under such conditions? Did they have the opportunity?
If not, what sense is there in speaking of the failure of socialism
But, if my opponent means to say that notwithstanding all
this the Russians could establish successfully socialism in Rus-
sia, that their failure is attributable, not to the war, not to the
struggle of the revolution, but to some inherent fallacy in the
policy and methods they pursued, in other words, to the fallacies
of Marxism, then my opponent is treading upon most dangerous
My opponent must admit that it was infinitely harder for
the Russians under those conditions successfully to erect a new
order upon the ruins of an old order than it was for the Allied
Powers to rehabilitate capitalism in their own countries. Now,
what do we find? Not to speak of the small countries that are
so hopelessly ruined that they actually live on charity ; not to
speak of Austria and Germany, the conquered countries ; but
what about Italy, France and England ? These are the victorious
countries. These emerged triumphant. These countries received
from us billions of dollars and ammunitions worth billions of
dollars. These countries had exacted from the Germans tribute
in the billions. Surely, if there was some strength and life in
capitalism, the Allied Powers should have been able to rehabil-
itate capitalism in their countries. They had no war since then,
no revolution, no change of order, and things were in a normal
state. What do we find?
We find that the condition in Italy, France and England is
so desperate, so hopeless, that the ruling powers were compelled
to call a peace conference, to invite, not only the Austrians and
the Germans, but also the Russians, and Lloyd George in Parlia-
ment appealed to his confreres to sanction the Genoa conference
because, as he said, the people of England demand it, Europe
needs it, and the world cries for it.
Yes, the capitalist world cried for a peace conference with
the Russians. Why? Because, a paragraph later, Lloyd George
tells them : The unemployment increases in England ; and if you
do not like the Genoa conference, you will pretty soon see the
beginning of something which you will hate even more, namely,
In this situation, being unable to rehabilitate capitalism, and
in their face staring the revolution that may destroy them all. they
were compelled to come to the Russians and together to work out
a plan whereby they may save themselves. Let us pause to reflect
on the situation.
The Russian Soviet Republic is a communist soviet republic.
It was built by communists, in the spirit of communism, upon
communist principles, and with the purpose of establishing com-
munism, not only in Russia, but all over the world. The ruling
class, to save themselves from political destruction, and the capi-
talist class, to save themselves from economic ruin, were com-
pelled to go to the Russians and to enter with the communist
Soviet Republic into political and economic relations.
Now, the ruling powers cannot enter with the Russian Soviet
Republic into political relations ; they cannot confirm the Russian
communists in power ; they cannot accord recognition to the com-
munist principles, without making the idea of a communist soviet
republic very popular in the world, and without throwing seeds
that would soon gain deep root in the consciousness of the prole-
tariat. And the capitalist class cannot enter with the communist
Soviet Republic into economic relations, without sanctioning
communist principles, without recognizing that communism is
here to stay, without spreading among the proletarians of their
own countries a knowledge of communism, and without arousing
in them a desire for communism, and finally a determination to
have communism even in their own capitalist countries.
The ruling powers and the capitalist class knew all this all
along. That was why they bent all their efforts to destroy the
communist Soviet Republic, because they knew that the com-
munist Soviet Republic was a mortal enemy to capitalism.
Now, the Russian communists, to help themselves in the
present difficulties, are compelled to make concessions to capital-
ism, to enter with the capitalists into political and economic rela-
tions. The capitalists, to save themselves from absolute ruin and
destruction, are compelled to make concessions to the communist
Soviet Republic of Russia. Hence, while on the one hand we see
on the part of the Russians a partial return to capitalism, on the
other hand we see on the part of the capitalists a step towards
communism. If my opponent contends that a partial return by
the communists to capitalism means that Marxism has proved
itself fallacious, then with greater reason I contend that the
partial advance by the capitalist towards communism proves that
the doctrines sustaining capitalism are antiquated, worse than use-
less and amount to nothing.
The capitalist countries are compelled to go to the commun-
ists for help, because they suffer from a pernicious anaemia.
They must go to the communists for a transfusion of blood, to
transfuse into their capitalist system communist blood. But it is
all in vain.
Comrades, communism is the most poisonous, mortal enemy
to capitalism. The capitalist system cannot imbibe communist
blood, without embodying the poison that will annihilate it. So
hopeless is the state of capitalism that even for a momentary
respite, for a possible help, the capitalists are compelled to go
and conclude a compromise with communism. But, by concluding
a compromise with communism, they conclude a compromise
with the rising order that will annihilate the old order. And that
capitalism is in this desparate strait is shown by the following
On the one hand, the inherent contradictions of capitalism,
predicted by Marx, demonstrated by Marx, brought about, not
merely a petty crisis in some industry, but a universal crisis,
which crisis compelled the nations to plunge into a world war, a
universal slaughter, to destroy one another, to destroy property,
family, religion, civilization, and everything that has been accum-
ulated by the human race for thousands of years. On the other
hand, capitalism is now compelled to conclude peace with com-
While the capitalist class is in this state and capitalism in
this perilous situation, I leave it to my opponent to show us how
the capitalist class and capitalism can help themselves out of the
situation, without the co-operation of Rusia. If he can show
something, let him show this. Hie Rhodus, hie salt a!
That the capitalist class and capitalism cannot help them-
selves without the co-operation of Russia is due to the fact,
springing from Marx's theory of value and surplus-value, that
the capitalist countries produce the necessaries of life, not for
use, but for profit ; that capitalism may live, it must dispose of
its surplus produce at a profit. This it cannot do in the capitalist
countries. Capitalism therefore is compelled to gain ever more
and more foreign markets where it can dispose at a profit of its
surplus produce. Should the foreign markets be cut away from
the capitalist countries, not only will the capitalists not receive
their profits, but also they will not be able to employ the prole-
tariat of their own countries. In that event, the proletariat will
be compelled to rise against the capitalist system and destroy it.
At present the only foreign market yet open to the capitalists is
Russia. With the co-operation of Russia the capitalists may yet
succeed to prolong for some time their rule and sway over the
proletariat. Hence, the capitalists are bound to deny their God,
repudiate their Religion, scoff at their principles, overthrow their
doctrines, and come to the Bolsheviki and ask them to help them
But communist Russia does not produce the necessaries of
life for profit : it produces these necessaries for use. They do
not need foreign markets. They therefore can get along very
well without the co-operation of the capitalist countries. It is
true the Russians are now in a deplorable state, due to all the
calamities that overwhelmed them, including even that of God
and Nature, the famine. But, being in possession of one-sixth
of the world, with infinite resources, with infinite storehouse of
human energy, it may be only a question of five, ten or twenty
years, and they will emerge from their difficulty, owners of one-
sixth of the earth and producers of all things for human enjoy-
That is why the Russian delegation can go away from the
Genoa conference, without concluding any treaty with the Allied
Powers, and not be the worse off. But let Mr. Lloyd George and
the capitalist countries dare go away from the Genoa conference
without concluding peace with Russia, and the revolution will
overwhelm them in the very near future.
Since capitalism is so hopeless that it is compelled to make
such concessions, how does it lie in the mouth of my opponent to
speak impliedly of capitalism, as if it were God-ordained, ap-
proved by God, Nature and Man, when in the face of all this
overwhelming situation, the capitalist world cries for peace with
Russia? How can my opponent maintain that capitalism is
Now, while I leave to my opponent the ungrateful task of
showing how to galvanize the dead corpse of capitalism, I shall
betake myself to the grateful task of showing that socialism
never failed in Russia, but is there most prosperous.
If my opponent had read the works of Marx attentively, and
had not acquired his knowledge of Marxism second hand, from
the Bernsteins and others, then my opponent would know, and I
demand of him that he should know, that Marxism never aimed
at socialism, but at communism. Marx zvas a communist. All
his works are but one continuous argument in favor of commun-
ism, and his whole lifetime he devoted to the cause of
Marxism teaches that all social evolution tends irresistibly
towards the state of communism. But, though all social evolution
tends towards the state of communism, neither the material con-
ditions of existence nor the human habits as they now are, are fit
for the state of communism. The material conditions of exist-
ence and human habits must first be prepared for the state of
communism. The historic task to prepare both the material con-
ditions of existence and human habits is the task of the inter-
national proletariat. The reason for this I shall tell you later on.
Now, the international proletariat cannot begin this process
of transformation out of air, out of conditions and materials that
will exist in the future. It must start with conditions and mate-
rials that it finds on hand right now, and these are capitalistic in
nature. In other words, the international proletariat must begin
upon a capitalistic basis, with capitalistic conditions of existence
and human habits, to build the state of communism. And in doing
this the international proletariat will co-operate with the great
historic process that transforms society from capitalism into
My opponent told you that Marx believed in the economic
interpretation of history. Now, I read a book of my opponent in
which he tells us that he more or less agrees with Marx, and he
told us the same thing now. But I must tell you that my opponent
never understood Marx's interpretation of history, and I chal-
lenge him to prove that he did understand it. He has my book,
"The Philosophy of Marx." Let him read it carefully and see
whether he has ever learned that Marx was the only man known
to history that fought against the crude economic interpretation
of history that had been in vogue since the days of Moses. I
could quote the prophets and the old philosophers showing that
the crude materialistic interpretation of history had been known
before Marx, and that Marx fought all his lifetime against that
Marx taught that between Man and Nature there is a
material interaction, but that it is "man that starts, regulates and
controls" that material interaction. Man is the active, conscious,
controlling factor in the making of human history ; Nature is but
the passive element and condition in that history. But men can-
not create a world while they are making their history. They
must take the world as they find it und must change it. There-
fore, men must regulate and control the historic process of the
zvorld, and by changing the world they also change themselves.
That is why Marx said : "Men make their own history, but they
do not make it out of the whole cloth ; they do not make it out
of conditions chosen by themselves, but out of such as they find
close at hand, given and transmitted." And since the proletariat
is the only class in society that has a vital interest in changing the
material conditions of existence and human habits, the proletariat
must take the regulating and controlling part in this great historic
This the proletariat can perform by raising itself to the posi-
tion of the ruling class and by establishing the dictatorship of the
proletariat. And here I challenge my opponent to find a single
expression in all the zvorks of Marx in favor of liberty. Marx
never believed in the bourgeois liberty. He believed in the iron
rule of the proletariat, and in the first instance also in the iron
rule over the proletariat. That is Marxism. The proletariat must
establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, use its political su-
premacy and the dictatorship of the proletariat to wrest by
degrees all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all means
of life in the hands of the tvorkvng class, to increase the efficiency
of production, and, finally, to direct all social evolution towards
the state of communism.
But that may take some time. It may take perhaps a century,
perhaps even more. What will happen in the meantime ? In the
meantime we shall have a hybrid state composed of capitalism
and communism. The foundation and basis are capitalistic, and
upon that basis, under the given conditions and with the given
materials the proletariat will begin to build the state of commun-
ism. That will be a hybrid state, and that state is called socialism.
Socialism therefore is capitalism mixed with communism.
When we watch the transition from night to day, we find
that due to the fact that the earth is spherical and revolves on its
axis very slowly, once in twenty-four hours, the light of the sun
cannot instantaneously remove the darkness of the night, and a
period of an hour or more is required for that transition. That
period is neither night nor day. It is dawn, a mixture of night
and day. Socialism is the dawn between the night of capitalism
and the day of communism.
Socialism means organized dictatorial power of the prole-
tariat. It means the very ownership by the proletariat as an
organized power of the land, the natural resources, the great in-
dustries, and the like. And this, comrades, we have in Russia.
Socialism does not seek to establish equality. On the contrary,
Marx in his "Criticism of the Gotha Programm" condemns that.
Under socialism there cannot be that equality or freedom which
can happen only in a state of communism that is raised upon its
own foundation. Until then we shall have capitalistic justice, the
law of equivalents, the law of value, capitalistic self-conscious-
ness, money, and ownership of things for personal consumption,
until the material conditions and human habit have been ade-
quately prepared for communism. When communism rises on
its own foundation, then a new principle of human existence will
regulate and determine all social relations : "From every one
according to his faculties, unto every one according to his needs."
Now, then, since my opponent himself asserts, in the
words of the issue of the debate, that the Russians only par-
tially returned to capitalism, he impliedly asserts that besides
capitalism there exists some other state. Since we know that
the Bolsheviki are Communists, and we know that they en-
deavored to inaugurate and establish in Russia communism ;
we have in Russia both the state of capitalism and the state
of communism. In other words, we have in Russia socialism.
Now, whether it is good or bad is not the question. When
our Americans fought in their revolutionary war against Eng-
land, they at that stage of the game were no better off than
the Russians now are, and their revolution was but child's
play in comparison with the gigantic revolution in Russia.
Therefore, my friends, socialism exists in Russia. Since
socialism did not fail in Russia, the whole theory of my op-
ponent falls to the ground, and the conclusion which he ar-
rives at is entirely inadmissible. In other words, my op-
ponent failed to prove that Marxism is fallacious.
If I were concerned only with this debate, I could well
afford to rest right here. I would not care to go into other
discussions. This is not the occasion for me to discuss failures.
I am concerned about Marxism, and so are you. Whether
you are satisfied with my position or not is immaterial ; what
is material is that my opponent did not make good his posi-
tion. And since we are all concerned about Marxism, we must
go a step further and consider the matter with reference to
The Bolsheviki in Russia in the year 1917 and 1918 made
a tremendous step towards communism. Since then they
made a backward step. They now content themselves with a
position nearer towards capitalism. Does not that prove that
the plan which they had in mind was not workable? Does
not that prove that the underlying theory of Marxism was
Therefore, though I am not called upon to do so, I will
go into the matter a little further, because I want to convey
to you the message of Marxism that, on the one hand, you
may perceive that there is in Marxism more than hundreds
of thousands of my opponents could tell you, and, on the
other hand, that you may understand why Marxism spreads
so rapidly among the international proletariat, and why in its
hands it is such a divine power.
If my opponent read attentively the works of Marx, he
ought to know that Marxism contemplates the state of com-
munism, not as a state of a country or of a nation, but as a
state of society, as a state of the whole human race. Nothing
further from Marxism can be conceived or imagined than the
idea that communism could be successfully established in one
country, while all other countries remained capitalistic and
hostile to it.
(The Chairman here notified the speaker that he had three
minutes in which to conclude.)
When a fellow gets into the depths of Marxism he loses
all idea of time.
Marxism most emphatically teaches that communism
can be successfully established only upon an interna-
tional basis. That is why Marxism always appealed to the in-
ternational proletariat to rise in a world revolution
against the whole capitalistic system. That was why the
Bolsheviki appealed to the international proletariat to help
make the Russian revolution a world revolution. That was
why the Bolsheviki repeated thousands of times that, unless
the international proletariat rose to help make the Russian
revolution a world revolution, they would not be able to es-
tablish communism, not even in Russia. This fact was so
universally known that in every instance in which the Bolshe-
viki came into contact with the Allied Powers the first con-
dition demanded of the Bolsheviki was that they abandon the
idea of the international revolution.
How, with the idea of attacking Marxism can one speak
of a failure of communism in Russia, when Marxism teaches
that, unless it be established on an international basis, it must
fail? If this is a confirmation of Marxism, it is therefore not
a refutation of Marxism, and Marxism stands vindicated, jus-
tified and in every way absolutely established. (Great applause.)
(At this point an announcement was made by The Marx-
The debate was getting rather hot and I am glad we have
had time to cool off. I now call on Professor Seligman, who
has fifteen minutes.
Ladies and Gentlemen : Let me take up the points in their
order. First : My respected antagonist challenged me to quote
anything from Marx in favor of liberty. I have in my hands a
book enttitled "The Philosophy of Marx," by Mr. Waton. On
page 196 he quotes from the Communist Manifesto in which
Marx outlines the future of society and says at the end :
"When that period arrives we shall have an association in
which the free development of each is the condition for the free
development of all." If that is not liberty, I do not understand it.
Secondly : My respected opponent says that Marx does not
ask for equality. It is true that I have not brought with me any
marked passage of Marx's writings, all of which I beg to say
that I read probably before my respected antagonist was born,
but I have here a quotation from no mean student of Marx,
namely, Mr. Nicholas Lenin. In a work in which he expounded
the theory of Marx to his friends in 1918 he quotes at the end of
a long passage explaining Marxism and referring to the workers
the following :
"The important thing is that they should work equally, con-
scientiously and be paid alike."
If that is not equality of work and equality of pay I do not
Now, then, Mr. Waton speaks in various passages in his
book as he did so eloquently today of the "sublime victory" that
has been accomplished by communism in Russia.
Let me quote in opposition a few words from the last speech
of Lenin. He says : ^__
"We have suffered a defeat, and unless we acknowledge it,
we shall do worse."
These are his very words. "If we do not wish to play the role
of people who do not see their failure; if we do not care to look
straight into the face of danger, we must see that we have suf-
And again : "We must admit, however, that our first retreat
proved inadequate, we must now make a supplementary retreat."
That is my reply to the statement of my respected antagonist
as to the wonderful success, of the "sublime success" that has
been achieved by the modern development. But I have here a few
quotations from the leading Socialists and Communists of Russia
today to explain why they have failed.
Let us take up first the remark of Mr. Osinsky, the Com-
missioner of Agriculture, six months ago quoted in this book of
Prof. Zagorski formerly of Petrograd, which appeared only
last week; "Soviet exploitation is a Utopia."
Let me quote the report of four months ago of the Minsk
Executive Soviet Committee: "Collective culture has turned out
to be an idle dream."
Let me quote from a statement of Lenin to the effect (I
am translating from the French) :"We must now endeavor to
develop a national economy based upon the real psychology of
the middle peasant whose motives and sentiments we have been
unable to change in these three years."
There is the "sublime success" that has been achieved! I
might go on and speak of the statements of Tschekoff and others,
all of them referring to the necessity of re-introducing, one
by one, all of the competitive motives that communism thought
it might accomplish. If the success was so "sublime," why all
the steps in retreat?
We come now to the argument of my opponent. That the
other countries in coming to the Genoa conference are implicitly
adopting communism, or rather, to put it more accurately, that
capitalism is on the road to accepting communism. Let me quote
from a note of the Soviet Government of March 15th to the
Entente government in which Russia accepted the invitation to
Genoa and say the following :
"The essential point in the policy of the republic henceforth
is the desire to create in Russia conditions that tvill favor the
development of private initiative in the fields of industry, agri-
culture, transport and commerce." Is that a capitulation of capi-
talism to communism, or is it a capitulation of communism to
capitalism? (Applause. )
Finally, when my respected opponent speaks of the sacl con-
ditions in this country, in England, in France, etc., I ask you,
ladies and gentlemen, whether there isn't a difference between
unemployment and cannibalism. Cannibalism is what we have
actually come to in Russia today. Not for centuries have there
been such conditions. And not only do we find this fierce struggle
to support life, but we find the same collapse in all the higher
manifestations of the spirit in the struggle of the human soul.
Let me read one or two passages from letters that have
come to some of us in the last few months.
Here is a letter from Professor Maximoff of the medical
academy in Petrograd : "With every day life becomes more in-
tolerable. People die like flies. If it were not for the hope of
escaping I would have committed suicide."
Another great scholar, a man who in former times was
honored, writes : "Tired and exhausted after a day spent in
searching for food I enter a cold and dark apartment. No water
or candle. I go. to bed without taking off my clothes, I try to
keep warm. One had to go out and sweep the streets and clean
the roads of sand. When I see my entomological collections
perish from cold I do not feel any more of my hunger, but I run
like a mad man to make a fire to warm up and save my labora-
What does Mr. Rachmaninoff, your famous representative
of Russian intellect, right here in this country say? He says:
"Imagine a regime that prohibited by force the publication of
books or magazines or any outlet for the theories and very arts
and fictions and drama that surge in so many American minds.
Imagine a condition which made of the creation of new music or
wondrous paintings an effort not only to be derided and ridiculed,
but a crime as well."
Finally, what does he tell us about the labor that is imposed
upon intellectuals in Russia? "Hard work will never hurt any-
one." But when a violinist, a doctor of philosophy, a poet, or a
great portrait painter, whose hands have been made for honorable
effort, in honorable profession, is forced, for no reason under the
sun than the mad whim of temporary rulers, to the bench, plow,
mop and the hoe, there is danger that the brave spirits within
these artists may droop with discouragement and their messages'
die unspoken for the delight of posterity.
Ladies and Gentlemen : The conditions may be bad in Po-
land, France, Austria and even the United States, but nothing
remotely resembling the unspeakable conditions which are barely
hinted at in what I have read you and which could be duplicated
many times over by letters that I have received from eminent
thinkers and scientists in Russia. There and there only everything
that we call civilization is slowing, crumbling and disappearing.
This is the land of "sublime accomplishment." This is the
land which one by one is giving up all the theories of Marx upon
which Lenin and Trotzky started out. This is the land which, if
not soon saved by the rest of Europe, as it was partly saved from
the horror of the famine by the United States a few months ago,
this is the land which will afford to us an evidence not of the
victorious theories of Marxism, but an evidence of the depths to
which fatalistic idealism will bring a great and devoted and prom-
Ladies and Gentlement : In closing I will say that in my
antagonist's reply he must show what he has not shown, that
socialism or communism, call it what you will, has succeeded,
whereas by the statement by Lenin himself it had thus far failed.
Failed, as he says, "In the hope that, although we are standing
on a precipice and do not know the result, we shall hope that we
shall vanquish." What my antagonist must deal zvitJi is not hopes
but accomplishments. (Applause.)
Mr. Waton will now address you for twenty minutes.
Comrades, I must be brief. First, as to liberty. My op-
ponent quoted from the "Commmunist Manifesto," which I
quoted in my "Philosophy of Marx," the following: "In the
place of the old bourgeois society with its class antagonisms, we
shall have an association, in which the free development of each
is the condition for the free development of all."
If you turn to the chapter on Cooperation, in the first volume
of Capital, there Marx says : When one systematically cooperates
with his fellow beings, he strips off the fetters of his individu-
ality and attains to the capacity of his race. In other words,
only through cooperation, only through the denial of that liberty
which the capitalist class insists upon is it possible for a man to
strip off the fetters of individualism and attain to the capacity
of the race.
That is what Marx means. The free development, not liberty.
The free development of each will be the condition to the free
development of all. Development and liberty are two different
things. I, for instance, want to become a writer, a speaker or a
musician. I can attain to that on condition that I subject my-
self to the laws, conditions and the requirements of the arts, the
sciences and the philosophies, and the like, to be able to write,
to speak and to create as the sciences require and the arts dictate.
But that does not mean liberty. It means free development.
Likewise, when we want to bring out the social powers for pro-
duction, we must subordinate all individuals to one centralized
plan, and then can we bring out the development of the individual
and of society. But my opponent will search in vain in the writ-
ings of Marx for a single word as to liberty. On the contrary,
he laughs at liberty. And Lenin, the greatest exponent of
Marxism, shows that liberty is nonsense, and in my "Fetishism
of Liberty" I showed it is an absurdity.
My opponent in his first address challenged me to prove
that Marx's theory that everything tends towards the concentra-
tion of capital in fewer and fewer hands is true. I leave it to
you, comrades, to turn to the 32nd chapter of the first volume
of Capital. I have no time to quote it now. Read it.
If you will find a single word about the concentration of
capital — and I challenge my opponent to demonstrate it, to prove
it — then I will be willing publicly and at my own expense to ap-
pologize for making that challenge. Marx speaks of centraliza-
tion of capital and not of concentration. I leave it to my op-
ponent to go to Marx and find out what is the difference between
centralization and concentration.
My opponent read letters from professors. Did you ever
see professors on the side of the proletariat? The Russian pro-
fessors would have drowned the Russian revolution in blood. He
must quote to me from Bolshevik proletarians that they are dis-
satisfied. I admit that the professors look upon Russia as Mr.
Rachmaninoff, who left his brothers to starve, and came to Amer-
ica to make money.
Lenin is the greatest man for having had the courage to ad-
mit that they failed in many directions; for, in his address to the
Congress of the Metal Workers only recently, he said : We make
no more regress, but on the contrary we now go forward. And
we see that a great movement has been started to re-unite the con-
flicting element in the camp of the proletariat. There is now
being forged a united front. The united front, coupled with the
Russo-German treaty, will make themselves felt in a few months
Lenin, on purpose, has always talked to the Russians and
told them to be frank and truthful, in order to learn. If you
consult Lenin's work, " The Soviets at Work," written by him a
few months after the Bolshevik coup d'etat, you will find that
even then, more than four years ago, Lenin said : "We must
engage experts at salaries of even twenty-five thousand dollars a
year." And more than four years ago Lenin said that the suc-
cess of the revolution will depend upon the concessions which we
will make to foreign capitalists.
Lenin did not expect communism to be established in a jiffy.
He demonstrated that it would have to take at least two genera-
tions to do it. But in the meantime we have in Russia socialism.
Who has ever pictured Russia in a good state? I would like to
know how my opponent would feel if for eight years he were
battered and badgered and starved- to death as the Russians were.
The Allied Powers wanted to starve Russia. They succeeded.
And the Great Almighty came to their assistance and added for
good measure the famine.
But, my good comrades, I have something more important.
What about the retreat of the Russian Bolsheviki? How far
will it go? Here I ask you to permit me to be very quick, because
I have to speak a lot.
My opponent as a historian presumes to judge of the great
historic process. He ought to have made sure of the nature and
method of the course of progress. Did he? We shall presently see.
Progress is a moving forward. It is essentially movement,
and all movement is rhythmic, that is forward and backward.
The reason for this, as shown by Herbert Spencer, is that every
body moving" in space meets with resistance, and the resultant
therefore can be but a forward and backward movement. A few
illustrations will make it clear.
When standing at the sea-shore and observing the coming in
of the tide, we notice the following : The sea sends out a wave
beyond the low water mark, which waves returns. It sends out
another wave beyond the first wave, which second wave returns.
It sends out a third wave beyond the second wave, which returns.
And so it sends waves forward and backward until it reaches the
high water mark.
When we reflect on this, we notice that though the move-
ment of the sea was forward and backward, in the main it was
Likewise, when we reflect on the progress of the seasons, we
perceive the same thing. We rise in the morning, go out into the
street ; the sky is clear, the sun is bright, the atmosphere is warm
and we feel glad; spring is here. We feel like taking off our
winter clothes and look forward towards bright and warm days.
The next day, however, disappoints us : it is cloudy, cold and ends
in snow. A few days later we have again bright and warm days,
followed by cloudy, cold and rainy days, and again bright and
warm days, until we have Spring in all its glory.
Here, again, when we reflect on the course of the season, we
perceive that, though its movements were forward and back-
ward, in the main they were forward. This is the universal
characteristic of progress.
If time permitted it would be most illuminating to make an
excursion through astronomic, geologic, psychologic and socio-
logic phenomena and perceive that throughout all the infinite
manifestations of existence this is the course of progress. But I
must limit myself to a hasty survey of human progress. When
we contemplate human progress both from the point of the
achievements and from the point of the means of progress,
namely, the human race, we find that all human progress was
rhythmic, a forward and backwrd movement. When we con-
template from the point of the achievements, we find that after
periods of great religious exaltation and creative work came
periods of religious depression and indifference. After great
political progress came political regress. After periods of re-
naisancc in the arts, the sciences, the industries and the philo-
sophies came periods of indifference, stagnation, degeneration
and decay, followed again by periods of exaltation, progress and
regeneration, and so on indefinitely.
Again, when we contemplate the course of progress of the
human race itself, here we perceive a most wonderful truth which
has escaped, not only the scientists, but also the socialists of the
world. Here we perceive a most remarkable thing. As the sea,
life sent out a wave of progress through the Chinese and other
ancient nations, and that wave returned. Life then sent out an-
other wave of progress through the Egyptians, the Babylonians
and the Hindus, then below the Chinese in progress, which wave
went beyond the first wave and returned. It then sent out a third
wave of progress through the Jews, the Greeks and the Romans,
then below the Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Hindus, which
wave went beyond that of the latter and returned. Life then
sent out another wave of progress through the Teutons, the
Saxons, the Normans and the Franks, then below the Jews, the
Greeks and the Romans in progress, which went beyond the
preceding wave and returned. The same was followed in the
case of the Arabs, the Turks, and also in the modern renaisance.
And now life sends out a wave of progress through the Russians,
that are below the Teutons, the Saxons, the Normans and the
Franks, but this wave will go beyond all preceding waves of
progress, and it, too, will return, to be followed by still higher
waves of progress in other nations, and so ad infinitum.
Now, when we contemplate the course of human progress,
we perceive that, though its movements were forward and back-
ward, in the main they constituted one grand epic of human
progress. The course of progress always started a new wave
through an element below the one that served as the previous
medium of progress and moved further. Here we find a new
truth, brought to light by Hegel and Spencer, that every step in
progress becomes a hindrance to further progress. My opponent,
like most socialists, asked the question : Why did not the revolu-
tion break out in England ? Here he finds the answer, because the
English had made previous progress, which became a hindrance
to their further progress, and life therefore will use a medium
for progress such as offers least resistance, such as is not blocked
by previous progress. This is a truth we find throughout all
And now we shall be able to understand the course of the
Russian revolution. But, before we come to the Russian revolu-
tion, let me give you a brief sketch of an analogous revolution,
namely, the bourgeois revolution in France. Prior to 1789
France was feudalistic and monarchic. A crisis precipitated the
revolution. The first revolutionary wave brought the Constitu-
tionalists to the fore. The second wave brought the Girondins
to the fore. The third wave brought the Jacobins to the fore.
In 1793 the revolutionary waves reached the highest crest. Great
political and economic changes were inaugurated. But, as France
did not receive fresh revolutionary streams from other countries,
the revolution began to subside. And then the process is re-
versed. The Jacobins are overthrown, then the Girondins, then the
Constitutionalists, and Napoleon takes their place. In 1815 even
Napoleon is overthrown, the Bourbons are restored, the mon-
archy is reestablished, and reaction is settled down, and it seems
as if the revolution is dead. But it is not dead. In 1830 it sends
out a new wave which overthrows the landed aristocracy and
brings to the fore the finance aristocracy, and inaugurates some
political changes. In 1848 another revolutionary wave over-
throws the finance aristocracy, brings to the fore the industrial
capitalist, inaugurates some political changes and establishes the
republic. Here, again, the revolutionary tide of Europe failing,
the revolution in France begins to subside. Louis Bonaparte de-
stroys the republic, establishes again the monarchy, reaction sets
in, and it seems that the revolution is again dead. But it is not
dead. In 1870 it sends out another revolutionary wave which
overthrows the monarchy, reestablishes the republic, the most
proper form of government for capitalism, clears the ground for
the capitalist class and the historic task of the revolution is ac-
When we contemplate the course of the bourgeois revolution
in France, we find that, though its movements were forward and
backward, in the main they were forward. The revolution ac-
complished its historic purpose. It destroyed monarchy and
feudalism, annihilated the feudal aristocracy and nobility, cleared
the ground for capitalism, and established the capitalist class in
power. And the course of the bourgeois revolution in France
was only typical of its course in all other capitalist countries.
And now we shall be able to understand the Russian revolution.
We shall not go far into ancient history, but come straight to
the Russian revolution. When the revolution broke out, the first
revolutionary wave brought to the fore the Lvofs and the
Miljukoffs, constitutionalists. The next wave brought to the fore
Kerensky and the Menshiviki, more revolutionary. The third
revolutionary wave brought to the fore Lenin and the Bolsheviki,
the most revolutionary. Great political and economic revolutions
are effected and fundamental changes are inaugurated. But here,
as in France, as no new revolutionary streams come from Europe,
the revolution in Russia began to subside. The Bolsheviki were
then confronted with this alternative: either to pursue the for-
ward course towards communism and like the Jacobins in France,
to be guillotined, or to yield to the logic of events and, as Lenin
said, to hold on to that link which the chain of progress presents
each day. Fortunately for the cause of the international pro-
letariat, the Bolsheviki learned from Marx to retreat a step in
order to be able to make a new advance. This was foreseen by
Lenin even in the days of the bight of the revolution, as can be
seen from his "Soviets at Work," written by him only a few
months after he came into power. Then he said, this is the time
to pause, to retrench ourselves, to come nearer to the base of
operation and to begin to make preparations for further progress.
Hence, the partial return to capitalism. This was in perfect
accord with the eternal and universal law of progress, and a con-
formity with the eternal and universal law of progress is not a
failure, is rather a success. The fact, that the Russians are still
suffering, proves nothing. I might take a plot of land, plow it
through and sow seeds in it. A fool, standing nearby, might
laugh at me for taking good seeds and throwing them into the
ground, there to be lost and destroyed, while I might rather have
eaten the seeds now and satisfied my hunger and enjoyed. But,
what the fool does not know, I know. I know that the seeds will
neither be lost nor be destroyed. But. on the contrary, that as
soon as I throw the seeds into the ground, Mother Nature takes
them up, bathes them in the rain, warms them in the sunshine,
feeds them from her breast on her infinite energy, and day and
night with infinite care watches them, and so for a period of three
months ; when, lo and behold, there from the seeds sprouted out
and grew up strong and beautiful plants, yielding in return seeds
a hundredfold, a thousandfold. It is true that I am now hungry
and would enjoy the seeds now ; but I know that, unless I suf-
fered now and patiently bided my time and made the best of the
circumstances and prepared for the future. I would be even in
greater peril of losing my life in the future. Unless I sow the
seeds in the Spring, I shall starve to death in the Fall. This is the
law of existence, and in accordance with this law the Russians
have been sowing the seeds for the last five years, to reap a rich
harvest in the future.
Can my opponent rationally, intelligently and humanly ex-
pect that the Russian revolution, the greatest revolution on earth,
covering one-sixth of the earth's surface, that has been in ex-
istence only five years, that this revolution should already have
been prosperous now? Why, comrades, it would have been pre-
posterous ; it would be absurd ; it would be impossible. It would
mean a miracle more than God himself could do.
There is a Jewish saying which, as a Jew I appreciate very
much, and which I want to tell you in conclusion: "Don't show
to fools uncompleted work."
(The applause at this point was very great and continued to
increase, whereupon Mr. Waton rose and asked the audience to
join him in three cheers for the Russian Soviet Republic. The
cheers were deafening.)
Ladies and Gentlemen :
• First, as to a very minor point, the point of concentration
versus centralisation. I quote again from a very remarkable
work, "The Philosophy of Marx," by Mr. Waton. In the middle
of page 255 he objects to the present system because "it excludes
the concentration of the means of production." On page 256 you
will find, "the transformation of the individualized and scattered
means of production into socially concentrated ones." And at the
bottom of the page and continuing to the next we find : "This
expropriation is accomplished by the imminent laws of capitalist
production itself, by the centralization of capital ; that is, not by
the concentration of capital into the hands of capitalists, but by
the centralization, organization and cooperation of capital. The
capitalist whose capital has been consolidated and centralized . . ."
On page 259 : "Centralization and not merely concentration."
That means concentration as well as centralization.
Let us stop all these absurd disputes which add nothing
anyway to the discussion. Let us come to the next point. My
opponent poured out his wrath upon the professors and intel-
lectuals who have always been against progress. Was Marx an
intellectual or not? (Interjected by Mr. Waton: "Yes, an intel-
lectual but not a professor.") Were about half of the great social-
ists that Russia has known professors or not?
In fact the whole intellectual armory of socialism and com-
munism comes from the thinkers and the professors.
Moreover, my objection to communism is not simply that it
calls intellectualism a joke and kills the intellect, but that is also
kills the workingmen.
My opponent asks whether any Bolsheviks have objected. If
there were time I should like to read to you the protest from the
trade unions, from the workingmen in the various parts of Rus-
sia protesting against the way in which the strikes were ruthlessly
suppressed ; protesting against the way the strike leaders were
executed ; protesting the way they are compelled to work eighteen
hours in some of the factories. All of this I could quote to you
if there were time.
The real objection to communism is indeed, as my opponent
has intimated, that it kills individualism, and in killing individual-
ism it kills art as well as science. Art is nothing if not the expres-
sion of the individual. The efforts that are being made now by
the Art Commissar to force into art those fictitious acceptances
of communism are killing art just as they are killing science.
Mr. Lenin, in the speech which I hold in my hand, says there
are three things we must guard against. "The three principal
enemies which we have to face are communistic arrogance, il-
literacy and barbarity."
How does he define communistic arrogance? "Communistic
arrogance means that a man who is a member of the communist
party and has not yet been cleaned out, imagines that he can solve
all his tasks by communist phrase-making."
I don't wish to be impolite because my antagonist has sedu-
lously observed the better conventions of a debate, but I would
appeal to you that, after all, this battle can never be fought out
by mere phrase-making.
You have got to face the facts. The facts are that one by
one Lenin and the rest are going back surely but slowly in sub-
stance and even in form to all the positions which they opposed
a few years ago.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I submit that my antagonist has
not met me on those fundamental points. He has not contro-
verted a single one of the facts which show that Russia today is
becoming, on the one hand, a huge chaos, and on the other hand,
the greatest example of forcible suppression on the part of every
one who is not a member of the tiny group that is running the',
country. He has not sought to controvert my argument as to the
inadequacy of the specific Marxian theories of surplus value, of
concentration or centralization of capital, of pauperism and of
the cataclysm of society, and he has not been able to explain how
a return to capitalism means a return to socialism. In all these
points he has failed to make good.
In conclusion, the reason why international communism is
going to pieces today in this country as well as in other countries,
and why only a fraction of the socialists outside of Russia are
adherents of the communist idea, is, as I take it, twofold ; first
and foremost, the communists in Russia are not willing to admit
that real progress comes not through revolution but through evo-
lution. If there is any soundness in socialism at all it is on the
side of those who preach socialism through evolution rather than
socialism through revolution.
Although I, of course, concede revolution has had its place in
our own American republic and elsewhere, it can only succeed as
it did then, when the inner forces are in harmony with the outer
forms. When this is not the case it is bound to be a failure. As
a consequence the whole labor reform and social reform move-
ment in every country outside of Russia is making progress
through evolution and not through revolution.
But there is a second reason why Marxism will in the end
never succeed. Marx objected to the sentimental socialist. He
objected to anything that emphasises the spiritual side of man-
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I also believe in reform. I am
like many or all of you, by no means satisfied with the social
conditions of today, but the social reform that I believe in is a
gradual, a sound, pervasive reform, a reform so replete with har-
mony between the inner and the outer phases that it will be at
once abiding and far-reaching.
It is only in this way, ladies and gentlemen, that you ever
effect a reconciliation with justice and liberty, the liberty which
we are told in Russia every one derides today. It is only in this
way that we shall be able to affuse the creative and the acquisitive
spirit ; it is only in this way that we shall be able to lay the founda-
tions of social production so broad and so firm and so enduring
that on them it will be possible to erect the future temple of social
peace with its wide and glorious wave of equal opportunity and
its slim and lofty spire of ideal fulfilment — cleave the clouds of
antagonism rising above the mists of prejudice, distrust and soar-
ing into the deep and eternal blue of infinite achievement and
unending progress. (Applause.)
The Marx-Engels Institute carries a complete line of
standard literature on economics, sociology, anthropology,
history, philosophy, and kindred subjects, and can supply
books on any subject when desired.
We especially call your attention to the following works
by Harry Waton :
"Pain and Pleasure/' printed on high-grade paper,
and well bound in dark red cloth $1.50
"The Fetishism of Liberty/'' bound in dark red
Same in paper cover 25
"The Philosophy of Marx/' bound in flexible red
Same in paper 25
"The Seligman-Waton Debate" 25
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