Read The Best

I met him at Napa, Cal., after the meeting. His name was Mueller; a

tall, fine old German. He had been through the Bismarck "exception law"

persecution and was well informed in all that related to that period. I

asked him how it came about that the German movement was so well posted

and unified.

He answered, "Well, Bismarck did that for us. You see, before Bismarck

interfered, we were all split up into little inside factions, as it is

here, to some extent, now. That was because we had scores of papers,

each teaching its own particular brand of Socialism. Every little

business man who became a Socialist and had a little money in the bank

started a paper and gave the world his notion of Socialism. Bismarck

changed all that; he put them all out of business in a single day. Then

the Socialists had only one paper, published outside Germany, on very

thin paper, and mailed in sealed envelopes. This paper was edited by

Bernstein, one of the ablest Marxian scholars, and this uniform reading

of sound literature was a very powerful factor in clarifying the German

Socialist movement."

A lecturer must get his data from the very best authorities. He must get

his knowledge of "natural selection," not from the pages of some

ill-informed pamphleteer, but from "The Origin of Species." His

statements as to what constitutes the Socialist philosophy should be

based on a careful study of Marx, Engels and the other writers who have

produced Socialism's classic literature, and not on some ten-cent

pamphlet by a new convert, published, not on its merits, but because the

author had money enough to get it printed.

The Japanese in this country show their superiority in this respect. I

had a friend in San Francisco who was a bookseller, who told me it was

quite impossible to sell a Jap a book on any subject unless it was by

the greatest authority on that particular question. I had charge of the

Socialist literature of Local San Francisco nearly a year, and during

that period the only books bought by the Japs were works by Marx, Engels

and Labriola.

This is why the Jews play so tremendous a part in the Socialist movement

of the world. The Jew is almost always a student and often a fine

scholar. The wide experience of the Jewish people has taught them (and

they have always been quick to learn) the value of that something called

"scholarship," which many of their duller Gentile brethren affect to

despise. "Sound scholarship" should be one of the watchwords of the

lecturer, and as he will never find time to read everything of the best

that has been written, it is safe to conclude that, except for special

reasons, he cannot spare time or energy for books of second or third


Of course, in the beginning it is usually better to approach the great

masters through some well informed, popularizing disciple. A beginner in

biological evolution would do well to approach Darwin through Huxley's

essays and John Spargo has been kind enough to say that Marx should be

approached through the various volumes of my published lectures.

The lecturer must be familiar with the very best; he must plunge to the

greatest depths and rise to the topmost heights.

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