Socialism and Democracy in Europe

By Samuel Orth P. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE BELGIAN LABOR PARTY

I

IN Belgium the physical, political, and economic environment is suited to a symmetrical development of Socialism. It is a small country, "at the meeting- point of the three great European civilizations," Vandervelde, the leader of the Belgian Socialists, has pointed out. And his boast is true that the Belgian Socialists have absorbed the leading characteristics of the social movement in each of these countries. "From England Belgian Socialists have learned self- help, and have copied their free and independent organizations, principally in the form of co-operative societies. From Germany they have adopted the political tactics and the fundamental doctrines which were expressed for the first time in the 'Communist Manifesto.' From France they have taken their idealistic tendencies, and the integral conception of Socialism, considered as an extension of the revolutionary philosophy and as a new religion, an extension and a realization of Christianity."

This threefold growth would have been impossible if the environment had not been favorable. The Belgian population is congested into industrial towns that are thickly strewn over the country, like the suburbs of one vast manufacturing community. These working people have always been miserably housed and

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