Philosophy and Morality
SINCE, FOR DURKHEIM, socialism is organization rather than class struggle, its goal the creation of professional groups rather than a change in the status of property, then it is clear that he is not profoundly concerned with properly political mechanisms. In his eyes parliamentary institutions, elections, and parties constitute a superficial aspect of society.
In this respect, too, Durkheim is a disciple of Auguste Comte. Comte, in the first part of his career, was imbued with liberal ideas; but as his thinking evolved, he became less concerned with representative institutions as such. For him, parliaments were metaphysical institutions—or, more precisely, institutions whose spirit was contemporaneous with the transitional phase of metaphysics between theology and positivism. In his image of the future society Comte left very little room for elections, parties, or parliaments. He even went so far in this direction that at the time of Napoleon III's coup d'état he was scarcely indignant at the suppression of these "metaphysical" survivals. He even wrote an amiable letter to the tsar of Russia. As a good philosopher and a good positivist, he was ready to grant that those reforms necessary to the achievement of the positivist era had