« ForrigeFortsett »
spirit left behind by the war, and partly out of an analysis of the life and constitution of Society made by a school of academical thinkers. According to it, the citizen with all his many-sided interests cannot be represented by any one man. He can be represented as a producer—that is, as aworkman, a manager, a doctor, a teacher; as a consumer, as a member of a party of social reformers, as one of a school holding ideas of foreign policy in common—all separately, but when these are combined, no true unity is created and representation becomes false and inaccurate. I, as an engineer, may have confidence in some engineer in whom I have no confidence as an exponent of education or foreign policy, and if I have to vote for or against him as a political candidate, I am asked to do something which is impossible because, whilst I am willing to vote for one bit of him, I want to vote against another bit of him. Twenty I's are active as a citizen and are represented by voting, but there is no candidate corresponding to that multiple personality. The conclusion from this is, that for purposes of representation a citizen's interests should be divided into groups or functions, and each of these should be the basis of constituencies from which representatives should be chosen. Thus, the sovereign political State will disappear into a galaxy of fragments. There will be Parliaments or Councils of producers, of consumers, of professional workers, like technicians, educationists and so on. The Russian Revolution and its creation of a Soviet basis of government with a restriction of the franchise to groups declared to be workers, has given this idea a special meaning and importance, and has also given it the vigour of a class political weapon. It is argued that so long as a State represents the existing order of Society with all its parasitic and capitalist interests, so long as it allows those interests to dominate elections and to use all the powers that the possession of great wealth, industrial power and the press puts in their hands, electoral results will always be favourable to that class, and democracy will never be more than a tool in its hands to give effect to its will. Further, it is argued that the complicated nature of citizen representation must rob election issues of precision and definiteness, and so increase the political power of well-organized and class conscious capitalist interests. A vague democratic representation can never be anything but a feeble opposition to very conscious capitalist interests. It is therefore proposed that only those who work should vote and that the parasitic groups and classes should be disfranchised. The constituency will then become the workshop or the Union of professional men, of peasants, of clerks, and the representatives chosen by these groups will be the governing authority of the State. This programme is admitted to be
revolutionary, and to be capable of being carried out
only under revolutionary conditions. It is a political consequence of a class war which has broken out into a crisis. It is, therefore, of minor importance to point out how impossible it is to define with any justice what a worker is, or to argue that, if the proposal were carried out, it would deprive the community of the assistance of most of the people who had made the revolution possible; that revolutionary movements divide men not into classes, but into schools of thought and action which separate workman from workman as well as the working class from the capitalist class. It is of no consequence to point this out because revolutions are not conducted by reason and system, but by detached and inconsistent actions taken energetically to meet momentary difficulties, carried through by the dictatorship of force without reference either to long visioned wisdom or justice. All that can be said is that if the calamity of a revolution happened here everything of the nature of representative government would be scrapped; if its forms were retained it would not be worked, and forceful necessity would take its place. A revolution calls for decisive action, only when it is over can its leaders afford to survey and examine critically the means they have used. So much for revolutionary forms.
THE REPRESENTATION OF FUNCTIONS AND
The more purely academic theory and the claims made in support of Soviet forms on their alleged merits for ordinary use, must not be dismissed in this way, however, because it is claimed for both that they are built up from the nature of normal society and are quite independent of revolutionary necessity or class war ideas.
As to the academic theory of functional representation, I note at the very beginning that its method is wrong. It analyses, quite accurately perhaps, individual interests and social unity into certain activities, divisions and functions, and having completed that work, it proceeds to assume that they separately compose individual and social unity. They do not. The engineer is part of an industrial, a social and an individual whole. He works embedded in a life of much greater fullness than the life of the workshop, a life, moreover, which determines
the life of the workshop. He cannot act as an engineer except in relation to the miner, the steelsmelter, the marine, and the transport worker—in relation to the complete productive, transport and consuming unity of which he is a part. Physiological analogy will help us to understand the position. The heart has a well-defined function separated off from all the other organs of the body, and yet it is a dead piece of muscle when it is not in vital cooperation with them. Therefore, if the heart were to be represented in a corporal Parliament, its representative would have to think of it not as an absolute and detached function, but in relation to all the other functions which with it compose the living body. The representation in such a corporal Parliament could be either of the whole body as a constituency, or of the parts separately as constituencies. In the first case, the representatives would have to remember the health and functions of the component parts, or death would ensue; in the latter case they would have to remember the interests of the parts for which some are not responsible, and ea hypothesi cannot be responsible, and also those of the whole body as a going concern, or death would equally ensue. But whatever be the system, neither can be the representation of separate functions; both must involve the representation of the whole. The representation of engineers or miners in society cannot avoid the necessity of the representation of what may be conveniently called the citizenship of engineers or miners, and consequently the academic school of social analysts provide us with no means of avoiding the admittedly difficult and frequently unsatisfactorily performed task of securing the representation of individuals in the full significance of their citizenship. The function upon which these theorists lay such stress does not exist. It is a metaphysical abstraction. I, as an engineer, electing a representative engineer, must consider my complete social personality as a citizen and that brings me up against the very difficulties which this academic theory claims that it avoids.
# If this argument is sound it is also a final reply to those who would build up the representative State from industrial functions, Soviets, but it may be worth while to point out another result that would follow if we allow industrial groups to be the basis of political reconstruction. This conception confines the interests of the workman far too much to his own concerns, and its psychological influence is to specialize not only industrial but civic and intellectual work and interest. It seeks to put functional interest as the source of civic interest. It thus not only continues the divisive influences of Capitalism, but by placing the motive of political action too low and confining the political outlook too narrowly makes it impossible for social instincts to rise to levels of high social co-operation and endeavour. He who appeals to economic motives only, can never expect to find the rule of moral or social motives either in private or public character; he who bases the State on the workshop or the profession, can never expect to create the civic State. The greatest need to-day is to turn the workman into a man with all the width of mind and interest that that involves. The tendency of functional representation is in exactly the opposite direction. It would translate industrial specialization into civic specialization. The Socialist hopes to make mechanical production—the mere toiling part of life—of diminishing relative import