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The writers only are responsible for the views expressed.


DEAR COMRADE,—Ignoring Mr. T. A. Jackson’s opening remarks on my article, “Evolution and Revolution,” I will come at once to his first point.

He complains that in one place I use the word “revolution” in the sense of “destruction,” in other places as meaning “dissolution,” “sudden transition,” and “catastrophic change.” Quite right, I do; but, what is more surprising, Mr. Jackson himself runs me pretty close in so defining the word, for after giving a brief account of his experience he says : —

”The acquirement of the knowledge necessary to the apprehension of this fact and to a recognition of its importance was a long and gradual process, but the apprehension was a single and sudden mental occurence.

If that does not mean a sudden transition, what does it mean ? A little further on your correspondent says :—

“From one point of view here was a continuous development; from another a destruction of one form and the substitution of something entirely different.”

Had Mr. Jackson proceeded much further he would doubtless have introduced the other definitions to which he appears to take exception—dissolution, and catastrophic change; the former, by the way, being one of the definitions of “destruction.”

As it is, however, the comrade has practically conceded all I asked in that direction. Revolution is a sudden transition from one form to another; it is destructive to the old, and stands as base to something entirely different. So far we agree. Now as to evolution.

In the article Mr. Jackson so ably criticised these words occur :—

“The change revolution produces may of course go on evolving, but we must not forget that revolution brought that particular phase of evolution into existence.”

Here is my meaning:—

Man, it is affirmed, has evolved from the ape, but he is not an ape. Socialism, as we understand it, has evolved from the capitalist system, but it is not the capitalist system. Therefore, I hold that Socialism is not evolution leading up to revolution, but revolution in the process of evolution; that is, revolution evolving to its final consummation.

The theory of Socialism being revolt against present institutions, it must of necessity be revolution in the making; in other words, evolving revolution. Being so, it must, while fostering its own development, regard all similar developments with more or less hostility, proving that revolution is antagonistic to all forms of evolution but its own.

Without that revolutionary principal in our midst, no revolution, as we now use the word, could occur. That is to say, left to evolve without the revolutionary force behind it, the capitalist system could not evolve up to a revolution, only in the sense of a change produced by the lapse of time. The two systems being antagonistic, one could never evolve directly from the other, any more than a young tiger could evolve into a gazelle.

I submit that Mr. Jackson mistakes the nature of the force governing his conversion. When he first began to take a live interest in Socialism, he was immediately in the throes of an intellectual revolution ; consequently, his evolution up to a full apprehension of what Socialism means had a revolutionary base, without the aid of which Mr. Jackson would never have been a Socialist.

Is it not evident that as Socialism is revolutionary, all Socialists must evolve from that revolutionary base ? From the point of view of their ideal they have cut off all connection with the present system; standing, as an embodiment of revolution, in direct hostility to that system. If this is not correct, how is it that the present system does not evolve every man into a Socialist ? It is apparent that men must grasp the revolutionary principle before they can evolve into Socialists.

The capitalist system is complete in itself. The theory of Socialism is complete in itself. Each is controlled by a distinct and hostile evolution. The one is established; the other seeks to take its place. Each constitutes a system in process of evolution ; the one evolves with preceding revolution as base, the other evolves upon its own base, and when the time is ripe, will step in as a complete and new revolution, so cutting off the further evolution of the old.

If these two forces are not antagonistic, I should like to know where we are to look for antagonism.

Should these conclusions be correct, there is nothing illogical in certain Socialists calling themselves “Evolutionary Socialists” in contradistinction to the Revolutionary. They are evolving Revolutionists, believing that they can apply their principle of revolution a “bit at a time,” so gradually bringing about the realization of their ideal.

In the extract which your correspondent gives from Karl Marx, it will be noted that the great economist discriminates between evolution and revolution.

The former, he observes, “takes place unconsciously, strictly according to the laws of natural science.” Of the latter he says, “Men fight out this conflict as a revolution, conscious of their opposing interests.”

Therefore, without the revolutionary principle you cannot get the proletariat class-conscious. Evolving with the present system, they can never become class-conscious in a Socialist sense. They must step across the borders where revolution awaits them.

Mr. Jackson, like many another, had a hard fight with his doubts and prejudices, but being conscious of this, he was, as I have said, from the very first in the throes of an intellectual revolution. His new ideas, the instruction he received, did not come to him directly from the present system, but from the revolutionary impulse at work within that system. The comparison enabled Mr. Jackson to choose; his sense of justice enabled him to choose rightly. That, I submit, is the secret of the mental process he describes.

But introspective reasoning is always defective, for the experiences of any two men rarely agree. For instance, the experience of a young man who from his infancy had been brought up as a Socialist, would be quite different to that of Mr. Jackson ; for where, in such a case, would come in “an evolution with a revolution as an integral phase phase” ?

Again, suppose a man who was formerly a Socialist were to change his political belief and join one of the present political parties, would Mr. Jackson call this a revolution ? I am inclined to think our friend would call that man a Reactionary, not a Revolutionist. A man must change from the orthodox to the revolutionary before he can be regarded as a Revolutionist. From this base he stands as an individual personification of Revolution, ready to play his part in putting a period to the further evolution of the thing to which he is opposed.

Therefore, a complete change of opinion, as such, does not constitute a revolution, as Mr. Jackson appears to argue.

I am not trying to score points against Mr. Jackson or anyone else, rny sole desire being to lessen the confusion apparently prevailing as to the “true value and relative application of the words evolution and revolution.”

I could say much more upon the subject, but noticing that you ask for brief communications I will close with a few words in reply to your correspondent, Filius Populi.

I am sorry to say I cannot dispute his statement that he is a “peregrinating paradox and several other things.” The truth of his sad admission is only too apparent. He wants to know what he is as a Socialist. A ghastly failure, I should say, for a man afflicted with such a decided kink in his cerebrum could scarely be a success. However, let him take courage: with study and persistent application he may presently begin to understand things.

He requests you to fix on a title that will explain his brand of Socialism clearly. If you decide to oblige him you have some tall thinking ahead. But as he pleads so pathetically for your help, I trust you will not withold it altogether. May I suggest, however, that you refrain on this occasion from calling a spade a spade. You might hurt friend Populi’s feelings. May I also suggest that you make your answer as elementary as possible.


The accident of a call at the Editorial address coinciding with the receipt of Mr. P. Wright’s letter enables me to pen a line designed to appear in company with Mr. Wright’s latest contribution to the confusion of terms. I leave the task of straightening out Mr. Wright’s unhappy tangle to Jackson, moderately confident of his ability to deal with it expeditiously and effectively with no great mental exertion, and confine myself to pointing out with becoming humility, that Mr. Wright has shunted his responsibility in the matter of finding a name satisfactory to himself for the Socialist who is at once evolutionary, revolutionary, and involutionary in the definition I set upon the words, upon the shoulders of a long suffering editorial committee.

It was, of course, natural that Mr. Wright should endeavour in that way to unhook himself from the triple-horned dilemna upon which he so ably, howbeit unconsciously, transfixed himself, but I think he might have assisted the Editorial Committee with one of those scintillating inspirations that characterized his first letter and set the Party membership agog. We should then have again seen how far Mr. Wright can be wrong in his conception of what a Socialist should hold. I invite him most cheerfully to be quite ruthless of my feelings: they don’t matter. Let him call a spade a spade. It will be wonderful to hear him speak clearly, although I fear me he will get a hoe somehow woven into his definition. And then I will retire into my wonted obscurity with a full heart.

P.S. My conscience smites me. I fear I ought not to lure Mr. Wright into the position of a butt for derision. He didn’t know—how could he ?—that all Socialists are evolutionary, revolutionary, and involutionary to the extent suggested in my note. He didn’t know—how could he ?—that the “Dear Comrades” he fraternally addresses are “ghastly failures” to a man. Ah me! these intellectuals!—FIL.POP. (not PHILPOTT)

H. Te Dee—The article printed in this issue over the name of F. C. Watts should dispose of your difficulties.
J. C. R. (Soham).—Many thanks for extract and circulars. If our comments on the latter are not justified, our columns are open. Audi alteram partern.

Acknowledgments.—Articles from E. J. B. Allen, H. Davey and J. H. Kennett. Exchange List. “The Socialist Voice” (Oakland, California).

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