Hence arises a quite different attitude toward existing society from that of the ordinary well-to-do citizen: an attitude as true as his, perhaps also as untrue, but equally based on facts, facts concerning his relations to his enemies instead of to his friends. The class-war, like wars between nations, produces two opposing views, each equally true and equally untrue.
He had gone into the adventure, prepared to find things that would shock him; he had known that somehow, somewhere, he would have to fight the "system." But he had never expected to find himself in the thick of the class-war, leading a charge upon the trenches of his own associates. Nor was this the end, he knew; this war would not be settled by the winning of a trench!
They believe that all their aspirations can be satisfied out of present-day profits and production. They believe that in restricting output they are performing a moral duty to their class. They do not believe that the prosperity of the country depends upon its production, and are opposed to all labour-saving devices. They refuse co-operation because they desire the continuance of the class-war.
This class-war had been going on for ages, and had its own ethics and its own traditions; those who took part in it had their heroisms and sublimities, precisely like any other soldiers. They would have been glad to come into the open and fight, but the other side had all the guns.
This change was what the Socialists meant by the "revolution" the transfer of the ownership of the means of production; and it was about that issue that the class-war was waged. Nothing else but that counted; without that all reform was futility, and all benevolence was mockery, and all knowledge was ignorance.
The universal class-war foreshadowed by the Third International, following upon the loosening of restraints produced by the late war, and combined with a deliberate inculcation of disrespect for law and constitutional government, might, and I believe would, produce a state of affairs in which it would be habitual to murder men for a crust of bread, and in which women would only be safe while armed men protected them.
So the states were torn by the class-war, and the sensation made by each outbreak had a sinister effect on the next in fact, there was something like a competition in perfecting the fine art of conspiracies and atrocities.... No argument was cogent enough and no pledge solemn enough to reconcile opponents.
Those who preach anything else are social traitors or deluded fools. For my part, after weighing this theory carefully, and after admitting the whole of its indictment of bourgeois capitalism, I find myself definitely and strongly opposed to it. The Third International is an organization which exists to promote the class-war and to hasten the advent of revolution everywhere.
So it is I disavow and deplore the whole spirit of class-war Socialism with its doctrine of hate, its envious assault upon the leisure and freedom of the wealthy. Without leisure and freedom and the experience of life they gave, the ideas of Socialism could never have been born.
Just as, in early days, he had exchanged miracles and folk-tales for facts of natural science; so now he saw political institutions and social codes, literary and artistic canons, and ethical and philosophical systems, no longer as things valid and excellent, having relationship to truth but simply as intrenchments and fortifications in the class-war, as devices which some men had used to deceive and plunder some other men.