The Stability of Leadership
NO ONE who studies the history of the socialist movement in Germany can fail to be greatly struck by the stability of the group of persons leading the party.
In 1870-71, in the year of the foundation of the German Empire, we see two great personalities, those of Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel, emerge from the little group of the faithful to the new socialist religion to acquire leadership of the infant movement by their energy and their intelligence. Thirty years later, at the dawn of the new century, we find them still occupying the position of the most prominent leaders of the German workers. This stability in the party leadership in Germany is very striking to the historian when he compares it with what has happened in the working-class parties elsewhere in Europe. The Italian socialist party, indeed, for the same reasons as in Germany, has exhibited a similar stability. Elsewhere, however, among the members of the Old International, a few individuals only of minor importance have retained their faith in socialism intact into the new century. In Germany, it may be said that the socialist leaders live in the party, grow old and die in its service.
We shall subsequently have occasion to refer to the smallness, in Germany, of the number of deserters from the socialist camp to join the other parties. In addition to these few who have completely abandoned socialism, there are some, who, after working on behalf of the party for a time, have left politics to devote their energies to other fields. There are certain men of letters, who rose in the party like rockets, to disappear with corresponding rapidity. After a brief and sometimes stormy activity, they have quitted the rude political stage to return to the peaceful atmosphere of the study; and often their retirement from active political life has been accompanied by a mental estrangement from the world of socialist thought, whose scientific content they had perhaps never assimilated. Among such may be mentioned: Dr. Paul Ernst, at one time editor of the "Volkstribüne"; Dr. Bruno Wille, who led the section of Die Jungen (the Young Men) to the assault upon the veterans of the party who were captained by Bebel and Liebknecht