We have now completed our outline sketch of the structure and methods of working of a Guild Socialist Commonwealth, and have thus come to the threshold of the practical problem of transition to it from the capitalist Society of to-day. And here the first question that confronts us, as it confronts all Socialists under the conditions of the present time, is the question of ** evolution and revolution." Do we hope and intend to bring about the great social transformation to which we look forward by purely evolutionary means, or do we anticipate, at some stage, a phase of catastrophic or revolutionary transition?
The question, stated, as it usually is, in that form, is to some extent misleading; for the word "revolutionary," and to a less extent the word "evolutionary" also, are capable of bearing a variety of interpretations. Revolution, or catastrophic transition, for example, though it probably always involves some employment of force, cannot be taken as necessarily involving force on a scale at all deserving the name of civil war. The first Russian Revolution of 1917 and the German Revolution of 1918 were both definitely revolutions, and were accompanied by some appeal to force ; but in neither was force, in the sense of armed conflict, employed on any considerable scale. The old constitutional system which was displaced crumbled, and a different system took its place, with the minimum of fighting. There are, of course, many who contend that this is one of the main reasons why both these Revolutions achieved so little, and that real social revolution, involving a change of social and economic system as well as of political institutions, will never be accomplished save by a much more extensive employment of armed power ; but, whether this is true or not, it is clearly necessary to distinguish between catastrophic change in which armed power, insofar as it exists, is only a secondary factor, and catastrophic change in which armed power is actually the principal agent of transformation.
Similarly, the word " evolutionary " has more than one sense. It is often interpreted to mean practically "political," and evolutionary methods are treated as identical with the constitutional employment of parliamentary action. But there is also a wider sense in which "evolutionary" tactics can denote a method applicable not merely to politics, but to every sphere of social action, economic and civic as well as political.
One of the things that I do think is that there people who assume that just because a person is against communism, and against the revolutionaries, that somehow, this is a good person. No, not really. Not all socialists believe that communism is the final stage of socialism. This problem exists with Theodore Roosevelt. No, TR was not a communist, yes, he was a statist. He hated both communists and socialists, yet he was just as bad as they were.
George Orwell was also this way, as an example. He was an evolutionary socialist, he lived his entire life a socialist and died a socialist. His book 1984 is a defense of socialism. I've seen Orwell described as a conservative in many places, by people who ought to know better.
This is a grave, grave weakness. We're bringing the trojan horse into the city walls here. When the radicals start waxing poetic about evolution, they don't always mean life cycles and/or earth forces and/or pro-choice and/or Charles Darwin and/or lizards, geckos, fish, and turtles. Sometimes, they're honestly looking you in the face, honestly telling you that they're going to steal your liberty - they just aren't going to do it in one step. But they want you to think they're talking about turtles and/or pro-choice, because that makes it easier for them to steal your liberty. You don't see them coming.
This, I believe, would be possible for a Labor Movement possessing the present strength of our own, only in face of a capitalist Society far less strong than our own, and only at a quite exceptionally favorable moment, such as occurred in Russia in 1917. To overthrow by this means the far stronger capitalism of Great Britain or America would require a very much stronger, and more fully awakened Labor Movement than now exists in either country.
This is why evolutionary socialists have had so much success in Europe and America. They know full well their movements aren't as strong as capitalism, so they have instead sought another way. Convince people healthcare is a right, convince people that government is a never ending spigot of free money and that debt doesn't matter. I could list a whole litany of things, but that's not the point. Remember Pelosi saying that "We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in".... That's exactly what Cole is saying.
The point is this, being more knowledgeable about evolutionary socialism can and will be very useful knowledge as it will help to further discriminate about who is and who isn't actually an enemy, as it's never beneficial to bring the enemy into camp to do damage from within.
"Limited strength, when persistently applied, can accomplish great feats", "little strokes fell great oaks", "constant dripping wears away the stone", "death by a thousand cuts", take your pick. They all describe evolutionary socialism. George Orwell was an evolutionary socialist, why exactly does anybody look to him for guidance? Try Friedrich Hayek next time.