Intellectuals, and the Need for Them in the Working-Class Parties
IN THE early days of the labor movement the bourgeois intellectuals who adhered to the cause of the workers were regarded by these with profound esteem; but as the movement matured the attitude of the proletariat became transformed into one of undue crticism. This antipathy on the part of the rank and file of the socialists is based upon false presuppositions, and proceeds from two antithetical points of view. Some, like the group of the "Neue Zeit" and the "Leipzige Volkszeitung" in Germany, with the support of the revolutionary-minded workers of Berlin, of the two Saxonies, and of Rhenish Westphalia, persisting in the maintenance of intransigent revolutionary conceptions, think themselves justified in accusing the intellectuals of a tendency to "take the edge off" the labor movement, to "water it down," to give it "bourgeois" characteristics, to rob it of proletarian virility, and to inspire it with an opportunist spirit of compromise. The others, the reformists, the revisionists, who find inconvenient the continued reminder principiis obsta! with which they are assailed by the revolutionists, in their turn attack the intellectuals, regarding them as meddlesome intruders, fossilized professors, and so on, as persons who are utterly devoid of any sound ideas of the labor movement and of its necessities, disturbing its normal course with their ideas of the study. Thus while the first group of critics regard the intellectuals as being for the most part reformists, bourgeois-minded socialists of the extreme right, the other group of critics classes the intellectuals as ultra- revolutionary, as anarchizing socialists of the extreme left. In Italy, towards 1902, the intellectuals found themselves placed between two fires. On one side the reformists claimed to represent the healthy proletarian energy of the economic organizations of the peasants as against the circoletti ambiziosetti ("the self-seeking petty circles" -- i.e, socialist groups in the towns), which were composed for the most part, so they affirmed, of bourgeois and petty bourgeois. On the other side, the revolutionists of the "Avanguardia Socialista" group entered the lists against the employees and the bourgeois
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Publication information: Book title: Political Parties:A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. Contributors: Robert Michels - Author, Cedar Paul - Translator, Eden Paul - Translator. Publisher: Free Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1966. Page number: 293.