Briand's positive achievements are also defended by Jaurès. The recent workingmen's pension law, unlike that of England, demands a direct contribution from the employees. Nevertheless, it contained some slight advantages, and of the seventy-five Socialist members of the Chamber of Deputies, only Guesde voted against it.
I happened to be at Limoges in 1906 to hear Guesde speak these memorable words at the French Socialist Congress: "Political action is necessarily revolutionary. It does not address itself to the employer, but to the State, while industrial action addresses itself to the individual employer or to associations of employers.
Toward the end of his address, Guesde turned to the reactionaries, and said: "I have shown you that everywhere, from the beginning of the anarchist epidemic in France, you find either the hand or the money of one of your prefects of police.... That is how you have fought in the past this anarchistic danger of which you make use to-day to commit, what shall I say?... real crimes, not only against socialism, but against the Republic itself."
It is true that Jaurès secured at this Congress, by a narrow majority, an indorsement of his policy of accepting the government pension offer. But the orthodox followers of Guesde and the revolutionary disciples of Hervé joined to secure its condemnation first by the Paris organization, and later by the National Council of the Party by the decisive vote of 87 to 51.
There were now devoted disciples of Marx in every country of Europe, and in the next few years, in France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden, and Germany, the foundations were laid for the great national movements that exist to-day. In France, Jules Guesde, Paul Lafargue, and Gabriel Deville launched a socialist labor party in 1878.
In 1896 Jules Guesde, perhaps the best known disciple of Marx in France, expressed nearly the same idea in the Chamber of Deputies "The play of supply and demand," he said, "will have sufficed to determine without any arbitrary or violent act, that problem of distribution which had seemed insoluble to you before."
In any case, it is becoming clear even to the French unionists that direct action is not and cannot be, as Guesde has pointed out, revolutionary action. It cannot transform our social system. It is destined to failure just as insurrection as a policy was destined to failure. Rittinghausen said at Basel in 1869: "Revolution, as a matter of fact, accomplishes nothing.
The revolutionary French Socialist, Jules Guesde, even stated to the writer that if candidates could be run by the party in every district of France, and if the vote could in this way be increased, he would be willing to see the number of Socialists in Parliament reduced materially, even to a handful the object being to teach Socialism everywhere, and to prepare for future victories by concentrating on a few promising districts rather than to make any effort to become a political factor, at the present moment.
In La Période Tragique, when Duval, Decamps, Ravachol, and the other anarchists in France were committing the most astounding crimes, Jules Guesde and other socialist leaders condemned these outrages and protested against being associated in the public mind with those who advocated theft and murder as a method of propaganda.
The influential French Socialist, Guesde, agrees with Kautsky that a peaceful solution is highly improbable, and that the revolution must be one of an overwhelming majority of the people, not artificially created, but brought about by the ruling classes themselves. Of course a peaceful revolution might be accomplished gradually and by the most orderly means.