Full text: Problems in eugenics

specimens of this type. In old Europe it became just a prehistoric figure. 
It is but natural that intellectually gifted men among industrial wage-eamers 
are looking to obtain a compensation for that lost paradise of their 
dreams. There are plenty of working-men who feel with real bitterness 
that their intellectual gifts are slowly spoilt and laid under an arrest 
by more or less idiotic and boring manual work, without any hope of escape 
or of the attainment of a better standard of living. All these elements 
consider party organisation with its places and its careers as a very anchor 
of salvation, especially in countries where the political bodies of the work­ 
ing class, the social democratic parties, are well developed, as in 
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and to a less extent, in France and 
Italy (and, as recently appears, in England) and where the concurrence 
in leadership by men of the educated class, which invades all party 
life, is not too heavy. It is rather difficult to tell how many prole­ 
tarians are entered as employees in party movements. In the socialist, 
the radical, and the catholic parties of the continent their number will not 
be easy to count. Everywhere ex-workmen contend for the greatest honours 
and the most eminent places in party life with the bourgeois-born lawyers 
and professors. As union officers they dominate the field without competi­ 
tion. All these men have definitely left their original class, and enjoy 
social and economic conditions which resemble very closely these of the 
middle class people. They are self-made men in politics. 
It may be objected that it constitutes no factor of selection that many of 
the best elements of the lower classes, attracted by party organisation and 
the machinery of trades unionism, abandon their original class, in order to 
be entrusted by the crowd with the business of leadership ; that it is a 
social evil, in the first place, because the socialist and trades union 
leader accomplishes, as a rule (as we might say according to the 
conservatives), a function of intellectual distress and social perniciousness ; 
in the second place, because in that way the working class loses its 
best men, and industry is deprived of its most intelligent hands. We 
may answer these objections by stating that, first of all, whatever be the 
number of party and trades union leaders, this number cannot be so high 
as to seriously weaken the elite of working-men who pass their whole life 
in the machinery halls. On the other hand it seems to us sure that 
the activity is dedicated by the labour leaders, in a very high degree, 
to an aim of social selection. Certainly socialism and trades unionism are 
traced on lines which may be considered as an immense self-defence of the 
weak against the strong. But the thorough amelioration of the general 
condition of labour does not in any way mean, nor lead to, the artificial 
protection of the inferiors against the superiors. To-day the terms inferior 
and superior have acquired a mere economic character. The actual basis of 
the struggle for life consists in the conjunction of intellectual and physical 
gifts with the casual fact of birth, that is to say, a definite economical 
23 ^Section III. R. Michels.

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