Chapter 1: The True Nature of the Social Question
Does not the catastrophe of the World War demonstrate the deficiency of the thinking which for decades was supposed to have understood the will of the proletariat? Does not the true nature of the social movement stand revealed by the fact of this catastrophe?
It is necessary to ask these questions, for the demands of the proletariat, previously suppressed, are surging to the surface now that the powers of suppression have been partially destroyed. But to maintain the position which these powers took in relation to the social urges of a large part of mankind is something which can only be desired by someone totally ignorant of the indestructibility of such impulses in human nature.
During these last fateful years the leading persons and classes have had to condition their behavior to the attitudes of the socialist circles, although if it had been possible to ignore them they would gladly have done so. The form events have since taken is the result of these attitudes. Now that a decisive stage — in preparation for decades — has been reached, a tragedy unfolds, in that thinking has not kept pace with events. Many people who have been trained to think in terms of developments in which they saw social ideals are now helpless when confronted with the grave problems which the facts present.
Much has been said about the development of modern technology and capitalism and the birth of a new proletariat: and how this proletariat's demands have arisen within the new economic system. Much of what has been said is relevant, but that nothing decisive has been touched upon is evident to anyone who has not been hypnotized by the idea that external conditions determine the nature of human life, and who is objectively aware of the impulses which originate in the human soul. It is true that the demands of the proletariat have arisen during the evolution of modern technology and capitalism; but the recognition of this fact says nothing about the purely human impulse residing in these demands. As long as these impulses are not fully understood, the true nature of the ‘social question’ will remain inscrutable.