to Mr. Bayard.
Stockholm , November 1, 1886. (Received November 15.)
Sir: For some time I have been trying to ascertain the sentiment among certain classes of citizens in reference to the agitation of socialistic views so prevalent in all parts of Europe.
The Swedish people are by nature impassive and not easily aroused to any excessive degree of enthusiasm in any cause. They love order, and prefer to adhere to those things they have proved from experience as being both useful and necessary rather than to engage in any untried or uncertain enterprises.
However, the socialistic propaganda has found some adherents in various portions of the two Kingdoms, and the growth of the organization that had for its purpose the advancement of socialistic views has been of such a character as to receive governmental attention. German and Danish agitators have been sent to Sweden for the purpose of advocating the formation of socialistic societies, and it is only within a short period that what is here called the “Democratic Socialistic” movement has had any significance in this country.
In Norway some socialistic unions were established in 1873–’75. They ceased to exist after a short time. In both countries, during the last two years, there has been a great revival of the agitation, and a large number of persons have become imbued with the socialistic view. In both countries the organization of a central club or union was accomplished at about the same time.
In Stockholm the “Programme of the Swedish Social Democrat party of workingmen” was issued on the 8th of February, 1885, under the auspices of the Social Democratic Central Club of Stockholm. At Christiania, in Norway, on March 1, 1885, was organized the “Social Democratic Union,” which issued its programme on the 29th of March.
The final purpose of the movement, as set forth in these programmes, is the realization of the socialistic commonwealth, where the soil, as well as all means of production, is to belong to the state.
Besides this very general purpose there are several preparatory measures embraced in the programme, viz, “progressive taxation,” i. e., equal taxation; improvement in all labor laws, relating to hours of work, the work of women and children, workingmen’s insurance against accidents, disease, old age, &c.; universal suffrage (embracing women), based on a qualification of age only; abolishing the standing army; the right to, reject by the people all laws enacted by the Riksdag, &c.[Page 845]
A newspaper was established in Stockholm to advocate these views, and while its publications have been extremely virulent, there has been no governmental interference.
However, there has been something approaching irritation in official circles, and it has been reported that the Diet, at its meeting in January, would pass a law forbidding the publication of socialistic newspapers, as well as the meeting of socialistic agitators. I am of the opinion that the Diet will take no action in the matter, and in this I am strengthened from reading a recent address published by the “Workingmen’s Union of Sweden,” an organization no wise socialistic in its tendencies, but, upon the contrary, both moderate and conservative, and in politics allied with the liberal or progressive party in Sweden.
At a recent general meeting the question discussed was:
Does the present socialistic propaganda further or hinder the adoption of such laws as will be of an advantage to the cause of the workingman?
The union as a body, representing a very large percentage of all workingmen in Sweden, declared that the socialistic movement does hinder the passage of laws calculated to advance the interests of labor. An address has been just issued to the workingmen of Sweden by the central union from which I make this extract:
If those who, through such unwise and violent propaganda, bring about such a state of things were the only ones who had to bear the consequences, the whole matter might pass unnoticed; but, unfortunately, all the rest, those who wish a sound, real, and lasting development, will have to share the same sad fate.
Therefore it will not do any longer to look on when some madmen drag us down on the inclined plane. That this is no vain fear has been proved in other countries, where the agitation has been carried on in the same way without consideration for anything.
How can we hope under such circumstances even to get universal suffrage, or an extension of suffrage; the first condition for all progress? When this is pointed out to our modern improvers of society, they generally answer with the utmost coolness that it does not matter; such is the march of development, the sooner the oppressed will learn that nothing can be gained without violence. This, then, should be the aim of the efforts of the workingmen.” Never! We still venture to hope that there is still reason and sense to be found with the Swedish workingmen.
This address has done much to allay the pre-existing feeling, and will simplify the action of the Diet in relation to the matter. The address is the united utterance of the great body of Swedish workingmen, and condemns in very strong language the views and aims of the Socialistic-Democratic party, and will neutralize its virulence and at the same time destroy its growing influence.
There is no country in Europe where the social, moral, and political condition is so unfavorable to the rooting of socialism in its soil as in Sweden and Norway, and this timely action of the United Workingmen’s Union has emasculated the propaganda so far as these Kingdoms are concerned.
I have, &c.,