M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru



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21 Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind (Arthur Barker Ltd., London, second
imp., Jan. 1961),
p. 56.

Russell was not only an arm-chair philosopher, but he was an empiricist. His method was inductive. He thought that in oder to serve the purpose of individual freedom a reconstruction of institution was fundamental. The capitalist autocracy in industry must be abo­lished. Russell, in this connection, remarks that socialism is not only inevitable, but desirable. Care must be taken, however, not to subs­titute for the dictatorship of the capitalist the dictatorship of the administrator. He praised communism and had high hopes from it, but when he visited Russia, he was disappointed to find out that the Russian government did not tolerate liberalism, freedom and democracy. He was so angered by the suppression of free speech and free press, and by the resolute monopoly and systematic use of every avenue of propaganda, that he rejoiced in the illiteracy of the Russian people ; the ability to read being, in this age of subsidized newspapers, an impediment to the acquisition of truth. He was shocked to find that nationalization of the land had been forced (^xcept on paper) to yield to private ownership ; and it dawned upon htm that men, as made today, will not properly till and husband their holdings unless they can rely on transmitting them, and the improve­ments which they put into them, to their children. "Russia seems on the way to becoming a greater France, a great nation of peasant



  1. 504

  2. GRBAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. proprietors. The old feudalism has disappeared." He began to understand that this dramatic overturn with all its sacrifices and all its heroism, was only Russia's 1789. Hence, it is necessary that a regenerated society, according to Russell, must see an end not only to the evils of property, but also to the evils of power. Equalization of power must thus follow equalization of wealth. A social system, Russell strongly felt must not only secure economic justice, but alsi the greatest possible development of the creative impulses. A vast dispersion of power by functional and territorial federalism is thus necessary.

  2. Decentralization of Power and Self-Government in Industry

  3. One of the advantages to be gained from decentralization is thar it provides new opportunities fu* hopefulness and for individual activities that embody hopes. If our political thoughts are all concerned with vast problems and dangers of world catastrophe, it is easy to become despairing. Fear of war, fear of revolution, fear of reaction, may obsess you according to your temperament and your party bias. "Unless you are one of a very small number of powerful individuals, you are likely to feel that you cannot do much about these great issues. But in relation to smaller problems—those of your town, or your trade union, or the local branch of your politi­cal party, for example—you can hope to have a successful influence."" This will engender a hopeful spirit, and a hopeful spirit is what is most needed if a way is to be found of dealing successfully with the larger problems. War and shortages and financial stringency have caused almost universal fatigue, and have made hopefulness seem shallow and insincere. Success, even if, at first, it is on a small scale, is the best cure for this mood of pessimistic weariness. And success, for most people, means breaking up our problems, and being free to con­centrate on those that are not too desperately large.

  4. Hence, Russell supported the principle of self-government in industry. The interests of the consumers can best be represented by ad hoc organizations. The state cannot represent consumers, since when industry is concentrated in different sections the representatives of these districts in the government really represent the producers. The state should retain ownership of land and industrial capital, determine prices and quantity needed of each commodity. It should also have power to prevent any particular organization from acting in hostility to the interests of the community. It may also have the power of making war and peace, tariffs, and foreign policy ; but international questions like movement of population and apportion­ment of raw material can best be settled by special functional organi­zations. Both producers and consumers may use strikes and boycotts to enforce their demands. With the abolition of capitalism the state

  5. 22 Ibid., pp. 119-20.



  1. BERTRAND RUSSELL

  2. 505

  1. will be neutrai in disputes between organizations, and it may, therefore, demand arbitration, and then offer its decisions for the guidance of public opinion. The principle of organisation should be self-government for each organization in those activities that concern it alone, and regulation by a neutral authority of those activities that also concern others.

  2. Demand for Individual Freedom

  3. In Bertrand Russell we find the most emphatic expression of that demand for individual freedom which is a characteristic aspect of contemporary thought. The state, he asserted, is no longer a glori­fied policeman, but is becoming virtually a national householder. When the state participates in industry, education, sanitation, and when it alone manages innumerable industrial undertakings, the conception of it as power is hardly applicable. Russell, like other individualists, conceived the state as an external force.

  4. When Russell discussed freedom, he had apparently in mind the freedom of the original artist from the conventions and traditionalism of his profession, or the freedom of the conscientious objector from conscription.

  5. And when Russell accu;>«.d the collectivists of not being conscious of the dangers of concentration of power ; he surely had in mind the collectivism of the older type. The Webbs stressed individuality, decentralization, publicity, participation of workers, in order to avoid the evils of power. Hence, the collectivism which Russell denounced was that of older variety which was undoubtedly an enemy of liberty. Liberal socialists now recognize as emphatically as Russell the necessity of protecting and encouraging variation and growth. The issue, in fact, between Russell and the Webbs was not whether liberty was desirable, but by what means it could best be attained. Russell's suggestions for self-government in industry and for the organization of functional associations are, of course, realizable only after a long and gradual transition, for he recognized the difficulties of a violent change. He writes in Practice and Theory of Bolshevism (1920): "When 1 suggested that whatever is possible in England can be achieved without bloodshed, he (Lenin) waved aside the suggestion as fantastic . . . .The sort of revolution that is recommended is never practically grander except in time of national misfortune. It is by slower and less showy methods that new world must be built." As such, for more immediate purposes, what is important is a greater participation by the workers in industry and a greater decentralization of the functions of the present state.

  6. Estimate of Russell

  7. It is a little difficult to pass from England to America, and then to Russia, and then to India and China, and yet keep one's social philosophy unchanged. The world had convinced Bertrand Russell

  1. 506

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS



  1. that it was too big for his formulae, and perhaps too large and heavy to move very rapidly towards his heart's desire. And there are so many hearts, and so many different desires. One found him in the last decade of his life "an older and a wiser man," mellowed by time and a varied life ; as wide-awake as ever to all the ills that flesh is heir to and yet matured into the moderation that knows the difficulties of social change. All in all, he was a very lovable man ; capable of the profoundest metaphysics and the subtlest mathematics, and yet speaking always simply, with the clarity which comes only to those who are sincere ; a man addicted to fields of thought that usually dry up the springs of feeling, and yet warmed and illumined with pity, full of an almost mystic tenderness for mankind. Not a courtier, but surely a scholar and a gentleman, and a better Christian than some who mouth the word. Happily, he was hearty and vigorous, fighting for the cause of world peace, and the flame of life burnt brightly in him even during the last few years of his long life.

  1. 26

  2. Q- D. H. COLE (I 889- I 958)



  3. Guild Socialism : A Reaction against Wage System

  4. Guild Socialism, whose chief philosophic apostle was G.D.H. Cole, appeared as a reaction against the wage system and the ugliness and monotony of machine production. Its exponents looked back to the time when the independent guildsmen of the Middle Ages took pride in creative work and produced the greatest art. for which the Middle Ages were famous. The French syndicalist movement and the theories of American Industrial workers of the world, with their bias against the state and against political action and their cry of "all power to the producer", helped the cause of Guild Socialism. The writings of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, who saw in the recent collectivist legislation in Great Britain the beginning of a'servile state' and who proposed as their ideal a 'distributive state', helped the movement of Guild Socialism. It was imagined by them and also by certain others, who led the school of anti-state political philosophy such as Dr. Figgis and Prof. Maitland, that certain associations resid­ing within the state have interests which were independent of the state and their personalities were inviolable by state authorities. The state could recognize and guarantee the life of the societies, the family, the clubs, the union, the college, the church ; but it no more created life than it created the individual, though it orders his birth to be registered. Consequently, "the theory of sovereignty, whether proclaimed by John Austin or Justinian or upheld by Jean Bodin or Thomas Hobbes, is in reality no more than a venerable superstition." Guildsmen were influenced by the 'functional prin­ciple' theory enunciated by Senor Ramiro de Maeztu, a Spanish journalist. According to this principle, there are no natural rights but only 'objective rights' which are conditional upon performing some useful function by the individual or group claiming them. R.H. Tawney writes that property should be functional and industrial control should pass out of the hands of functionless owners into those of the workers, who render actual service.

  5. Cole : The Chief Philosophic Apostle of Guild Socialism

  6. The philosophy of Guild Socialism, in short, was "a half-way house between Syndicalism and Collectivism."110 It attempted to

  1. 508

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. adjust their equally justifiable and legitimate points of view. It was built upon the economics and sociology of the twentieth century. It was undoubtedly connected with Fabianism. The Guild Socialists were the English intellectuals. Most of them were previous members of the Fabian Society. Out of the most important exponents of Guild socialism, G.D.H. Cole was proved to be the most active and most consistent apostle of this new ferment. He was the infant prodigy of Guild Socialism. He joined the Fabian society while he was merely an under-graduate. In 1912, he organized the Fabian Research Department for the purpose of studying labour problems. In 1913, he became a Guild Socialist, and was soon recognized as the most active propagandist of the movement.

  2. As said above, Cole was originally a Fabian, but the danger of government by 'a man behind a window' made him join the new movement. William Morris was his patron-saint. Like most revolu­tionaries, Cole desired a restoration, and what he desired to restore was the medieval society of societies. He gave the fullest expression to the demand for a federal structure of the state. The title of the book in which Cole presents the philosophic foundation of his society is Social Theory (1920). In his Guild Socialism Restated (1920), he for­mulates the more detailed structure of a Guild-commonwealth.

  3. Expressing the general philosophy of guildsmen, G.D.H. Cole says that "the state should own the means of production, the guild should control the work of production."8 The guildsmen start from the assumption that the paramount evil in present-day society is the complete ordering of the working life of man by the owners of capital. This slavery, or 'wagery' as S.G. Hobson terms it, is far worse than poverty, for "poverty is the symptom and slavery is the disease. The many are not enslaved because they are poor, they are poor because they are enslaved"* This being so, collectivism is only a little worse than capitalism since it merely consists in replacing the capitalistic bureaucrat by the state bureaucrat.

  4. The present state has been incorrectly interpreted to act as the sovereign repository of the whole associative life of men. Man's ex­perience is not confined to the state, nor does this relation to the state furnish his most immediate and constant wants. Each association is properly sovereign within its sphere. The present state includes all persons within its territory, and all can claim membership of it. As an all-inclusive association the state can deal properly only with those activities which affect men equally. It should be concerned not with men's differences, but with their common interests.

  5. Attack on the Ultimate Sovereignty of State


    1. Self-Governmtnt in Industry (first edition), p. 109.

    2. op. cit., p. 110.

    Cole rejected the point of view of Hobson that "in the final



  1. O. D. H. COLE

  2. 509

  1. analysis the state as. representing the community at large must be the final arbiter." Ia opposition to this viewpoint, Cole attacked the ultimate sovereignty of the territorial state. He also refuted the idea that the state is the centre of social and political unity. To him, the widest sphere of social unity is the community. It is a centre of feeling, a self-contained, inclusive region of associative life. Society is its organized aspect. Society is thus a complex of associations, but society cannot include the whole of the lives of individuals since the best elements of individuality escape organization. The principle underlying all associations is the principle of function. Individuals organize associations m crder to fulfil a purpose which requires co­operative action for its attainment. "Social purposes are, thus, the raw material of social functions, and social functions are social pur­poses selected and placed in coherent relationship."* Of all associa­tions the civic and economic associations of both producers and con­sumers are the most essential. Functions, then, and not an external source.give rights to associations.

  2. Slavery, the Curse of Capitalism

  3. The present state, according to Cole, carries with it the marks of its perversion by capitalism. Our present feeble attempts, Cole explains in his book Social Theory, to inaugurate democracy in politics are frustrated by the existence of a system approaching slavery m industry. Not poverty of the masses, but slavery is the curse of capitalism. He felt that capitalism and democracy went together. He was opposed to the democratic system of government as it worked in actual practice. He also attacked the system of territorial rep­resentation. According to him, a person who represents his locality cannot be expected to decide questions relating to the relationship between the producers and the consumers. Hence, Cole advocated the reorganization of society on a functional basis. When capitalism is superseded by freedom, and when society is organized as a federa­tion of functional organizations, each one democratically controlled, there will be no place for the present state organization. The func­tions, Cole was of the opinion, which an all-inclusive association may properly regulate, and which alone may rightly fall to the present state, will in a guild society be taken over by co-ordinating bodies more in harmony with the principles of freedom and function which will actuate that society. He writes :


    1. Cole, G. D. H. : Social Theory (1920), p. 54.

    2. Ibid., pp. 105-06.

    "It is impossible to represent human beings as selves or centres of consciousness; it is quite possible to represent, though with an inevitable element of distortion which must always be recognized, so much of human beings as they themselves put into associated effort for a specific purpose."6



  1. 510

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. Functions of the State

  2. Cole's position regarding the functions of the state did not re­main constant. In his earlier work Self-Government and Industry (1917). he regarded the state as an association of dwellers in a com­mon neighbourhood and hence of consumers, or enjoyers in common. Such an association, however, should be only one of many, he declared, and ought not to be dominant over other associations which represent men in their capacity as producers, fellow-worshippers, com­mon believers etc. The state, however, should be preserved as the representative of the consumers and should stand opposite the guilds. At the top there would be parliament, representing the consumers, and the Central Guilds Congress representing the National Guilds. "Neither Parliament nor the Guild Congress can claim to be ulti­mately sovereign : the one is the supreme territorial association, the other, the supreme professional association."4 If a dispute between the two were to arise on such matters as price and quality, "the final decision of such a quarrel ought to rest with a body repre­sentative of all the organized consumers and all the organized pro­ducers. The ultimate authority or sovereignty in industrial matters would seem properly to belong to some joint body representative equally of Parliament and of the Guild Congress. Otherwise, the scales must be weighted unfairly in favour of cither consumers or produ­cers."' What was to happen in the case of a deadlock was not mentioned, nor were the affirmative functions of the state made clear, aside from the fact that it was to skim off the surplus profits of any guild by means of taxation.

  3. Largely as a result of Mr. Hobson's attack upon the idea that the state represented the consumer, Cole m his later works111 changed his position in two respects : first, he advocated the formation of other associations than the state to serve as the representatives of fhe consumer, and secondly, he shifted his emphasis from a national to a local co-ordination of production and consumption. Cole came to believe that the state represented the complex of the separate interests within the territorial unit, and not the consuming interest exclusively. But no group can represent all the interests of men. Each interest or 'function' must have separate representation.

  4. Principle of Functional Representation


    1. Self-Government In Industry (third edition), p. 135.

    2. Ibid., pp. 135-36.

    According to the principle of functional representation, each person must have one vote for each functional association, that he joins. "Instead of 'one vote, one man', we must say 'one man, as many votes as interests', but only one vote in relation to each

  1. G. D. H. COLE

  2. 511

  1. interest."112 Each association will have power to regulate its own life, and make rules binding its own members in its own special sphere. Each will also have the power of coercion to a limited degree. Society then will present a union of co-ordinated functional democracies.

  2. In accordance, then, with the principle of functional democracy, each industry in a guiid society will be organized into a national guild and administered on behalf of society by the workers, including the managerial and technical force. The management of each guild will be decentralized, with the factory as the unit of organization. The leaders will be chosen by the workers, although, if some techni­cal skill should be required from them, choice may be limited to those who have acquired a certain proficiency. The expert advisers will not be directly elected. The managers of wider units of organization, such as, the district, or region, or nation, will be chosen indirectly. These managers will have the power of supervision and of represen­ting the interest of the producers in conference with the represen­tatives of the consumers. Their power, however, should be kept down as much as possible in order to avoid centralization. Contracts between guilds will be maintained by mutual conference, and where relations are specially interwoven, by interlocking directorates, while a Guild Congress will represent the interest of all guilds.

  3. The congress, too, will be highly decentralized into local and regional bodies. It will regulate the disputes between guilds, confer with representatives of consumers, adjust pay of different kinds of workers—which pay need not be equal, at least at first. Each member of a guild will be assured full pay as long as he is connected with that guild.

  4. The consumers, too, will be organized. The consumers must be differentiated into classes. Thus in "personal and domestic con­sumption there is differentiation between consumers while in the collective consumption" of, for instance, a commodity like water, the interests of all consumers are alike. There must, therefore, be appropriate councils to represent each respective group of consumers. These councils will also be decentralized with local and regional divisions. The councils existing in every locality will meet with the representatives of the guilds.

  5. In such a co-ordinating structure the Church will not participate. It may co-operate with other bodies, but not be co-ordinated with them. It must have freedom to live its own spiritual life. It cannot conflict with other bodies, since its life is purely spiritual, while that of the others is material.


    1. The co-ordinating centre of the guild society will be the com-
    Communes, the Co-ordinating Centre of the Guild Society



  1. 512

  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. munes. The communes will be composed of the representatives of the consumers' councils and of the guilds. Thus the local communes will include representatives of the local consumer's councils aud o~ the local guilds : the regional communes, of the regional councils and of the regional guilds ; the national communes, of the national coun­cils and of the national guilds, and, in addition, representatives of the regional communes, however, will also include some territorial repre­sentation. Wide decentralization will prevent the rise of a bureaucracy. As the representatives of the whole society, the commune—local, regional, or national as the situation may warrant—will possess the powers of co-ordinating various functional organizations and also such duties which no other authority can exercise. Under the first type of powers will come, among others, a host of financial duties. Thus it will review the budgets of the guilds, supervise pay of guild members, income, price, allocation of capital, the banking system, and allot­ment of taxation to the various guilds. To it will belong the surplus profits of the guilds. As a co-ordinating body it will act as the final court of appeal in disputes between functional bodies, and pass constitutional laws demarcating the respective spheres of such bodies. There will be judges, appointed by the commune from qualified members of the legal guild, to interpret the laws but their decisions on disputed points r^ust be subordinated to the declarations^ of the commune. Under the second type of powers will come, among others, authority over questions of war and peace, colonies, boun­daries, personal conduct, and property. International questions of a civic and commercial nature, however, will uc dealt with by the appropriate functional bodies.

  2. Out of them the first is the most important and hence needs further explanation. Not only would disputes over prices between consumer and producer be settled by the commune but if goods were sold above or below cost, the commune would make the decision as to how the surplus should be used or the loss borne. Furthermore, the relative amount of energy to be allocated to the product of consumer' goods, productive capital, and non-economic services would be similarly determined upon together with the allowance to be made to each industry or service. To secure this, the various guilds would present budgets to the communal council after consulta­tion with their corresponding councils of consumers and with each other. After examination, these budgets would be passed upon by the commune. This would necessarily involve criticism of and con­trol over the salary scale of the various guilds. The commune was also to have control over the amount of credit to be issued, although it would not necessarily operate the banks.

  3. The commune will also control the coercive machinery and exercise the ultimate power of coercion over individuals and groups. Thus economic boycott may be applied against a recalcitrant group. But the mutual confidence and consultation which a functional society


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