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Title: The Bolsheviki and World Peace
Author: Trotzky, Leon Davidovich, 1879-1940
Language: English
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[Illustration: Cover]

[Illustration: Leon Trotzky]

                             THE BOLSHEVIKI
                              WORLD PEACE

                            BY LEON TROTZKY


                           BONI AND LIVERIGHT
                                NEW YORK

                         Boni & Liveright Inc.


Introduction by Lincoln Steffens
Author’s Preface


          I. The Balkan Question
         II. Austria-Hungary
        III. The War against Czarism
         IV. The War against the West
          V. The War of Defense
         VI. What Have Socialists to do with Capitalist Wars?
        VII. The Collapse of the International
       VIII. Socialist Opportunism
         IX. The Decline of the Revolutionary Spirit
          X. Working Class Imperialism
         XI. The Revolutionary Epoch


The voice that speaks in this book is the voice of Leon Trotzky, the
Bolshevik Minister of Foreign Affairs for Revolutionary Russia. It is
expressing ideas and views which lighted him on the course of his policy
toward the War, Peace and the Revolution.  It throws light, therefore,
on that policy; it helps to an understanding of it, if one wishes to
understand.  But that isn’t all.  The spirit that flames and casts
shadows upon these pages is not only Trotzky’s. It is the spirit also of
the Bolsheviki; of the red left of the left wing of the revolutionary
movement of New Russia.  It flashed from Petrograd to Vladivostok, in
the first week of the revolt; it burned all along the Russian Front
before Trotzky appeared on the scene.  It will smoulder long after he is
gone.  It is a hot Fact which has to be picked up and examined, this
spirit.  Whether we like it or don’t, it is there; in Russia; it is
elsewhere; it is everywhere to-day.  It is the spirit of war; class war,
but war. It is in this book.

Nor is that all.

The mind in this book--the point of view from which it starts, the views
to which it points--Trotzky’s mind is the international mind.  We have
heard before of this new intelligence; we have read books, heard
speeches, witnessed acts demonstrative of thoughts and feelings which
are not national, but international; not patriotic, but loyal only to
the lower-class-conscious war aims of the workers of the world.  The
class warrior is as familiar a figure to us as the red spirit is of the
red left of revolution.  But the voice which utters here the spirit and
the mind, not only of the Russian, but of the world revolution is the
voice of one having authority.

And Trotzky, in power, has been as red as he is in this book.  The
minister of foreign affairs practised in Petrograd what he preached in
Switzerland, where he wrote most of the chapters of his book.  And he
practised also what all the other great International Socialist leaders
talked and wrote.

That’s what makes him so hard to understand, him and his party and the
Bolshevik policy.  We are accustomed to the sight of Socialists and
Radicals going into office and being "sobered by the responsibilities of
power."  French and Italian Socialists in the Liberal ministries of
their countries; British Labor leaders in Parliament in England or in
the governments of their Colonies; and the whole Socialist party in
Germany and Austria (except Liebknecht in prison)--all are examples of
the effect of power upon the International Mind.  The phenomenon of
compromise and surrender is so common that many radicals oppose the
taking of any responsible office by any member of their parties; and
some of the extremists are advocating no political action whatsoever,
nothing but industrial, economic or what they call "direct action."
(Our I.W.W.’s don’t vote, on principle.)  This is anarchism.

Leon Trotzky is not an anarchist; except in the ignorant sense of the
word as used by educated people.  He is a Socialist; an orthodox Marxian
Socialist.  But he has seen vividly the danger of political power.  The
body of this book was addressed originally to the German and Austrian
Socialists, and it is a reasoned, but indignant reproach of them for
letting their political position and their nationalistic loyalty carry
them away into an undemocratic, patriotic, political policy which
betrayed the weaker nations in their empires, helped break up the Second
(Socialist) International and led the Socialist parties into the support
of the War.

Clear upon it, Trotzky himself does not illustrate his own thesis.  He
not only detests intellectually the secrecy and the sordid wickedness of
the "old diplomacy"; when he came as minister into possession of the
archives of the Russian Foreign Office, he published the secret

That hurt.  And so with the idea of a people’s peace.  All the
democratic world had been talking ever since the war began of a peace
made, not by diplomats in a private room, but by the chosen
representatives of all the peoples meeting in an open congress.  The
Bolsheviki worked for that from the moment the Russian Revolution broke;
and they labored for the Stockholm Conference while Paul Milyoukov and
Alexander Kerensky were negotiating with the allied governments.  When
the Bolsheviki succeeded to power, Lenine and Trotzky formally
authorized and officially proposed such a congress.  Moreover Trotzky
showed that they were willing, if they could, to force the other
countries to accept the people’s peace conference.

This hurt.  This hurt so much that the governments united in
extraordinary measures to prevent the event.  And when they succeeded,
and it was seen that no people’s peace could be made openly and
directly, Trotzky proceeded by another way to get to the same end.  He
opened negotiations with the Kaiser’s government and allies; arranged an
armistice and agreed tentatively upon terms of peace.

This act not only hurt; it stunned the world, and no wonder!  It was
like a declaration of war against a whole world at war.  It was
unbelievable.  The only explanation offered was that Trotzky and Lenine
were pro-German or dishonest, or both, and these things were said in
high places; and they were said with conviction, too.  Moreover this
conviction colored, if it did not determine, the attitude the Allies
took toward New Russia and the peace proposals Trotzky got from the
German government. Was this assumption of the dishonesty of Trotzky the
only explanation of his act?

This book shows, as I have said, that Trotzky saw things from the
revolutionary, international point of view, which is not that of his
judges; which is incomprehensible to them.  He wrote it after the War
began; he finished the main part of it before the Russian Revolution. It
is his view of the War, its causes and its effects, especially upon
international Socialism and "the" Revolution.  These are the things he
holds in his mind all through all these pages: "the" Revolution and
world democracy.  Also I have shown that, like the Russians generally,
his mind is literal.  The Russians mean what they say, exactly; and
Trotzky not only means, he does what he writes.  Putting these
considerations together, we can make a comprehensible statement of the
motive and the purpose of his policy; if we want to comprehend.

To all the other secretaries of state or of foreign affairs in the
world, the Russian Revolution was an incident, an interruption of the
War.  To Minister Trotzky it was the other way around.

The World War was an incident, an effect, a check of "the" Revolution.
Not the Russian Revolution, you understand.  To Trotzky the Russian
Revolution is but one, the first of that series of national revolutions
which together will become the Thing he yearns for and prophesies: the
World Revolution.

His peace policy therefore is a peace drive directed, not at a separate
peace with the Central Powers; and not even at a general peace, but to
an ending of the War in and by "the" Revolution everywhere.

Especially in Germany and Austria.  He said this.  The correspondent of
the London _Daily News_ cabled on January 2, right after the armistice
and the agreement upon peace terms to be offered the Allies, that
"Trotzky is doing his utmost to stimulate a revolution in Germany....
Our only chance to defeat German designs is to publish terms (from the
Allies) ... to help the democratic movement in Germany."

Trotzky is not pro-German.  He certainly was not when he wrote this
book.  He hates here both the Austrian and the German dynasties, and his
ill-will toward the House of Hapsburg is so bitter that it sounds
sometimes as if there were something personal about it.  And there is.
He shows a knowledge of and a living sympathy with the small and subject
nations which Austria rules, exploits and mistreats.  He blames his
Austrian comrades for their allegiance to a throne which is not merely
undemocratic, but "senile" and tyrannical.  That he, the literal
Trotzky, would turn right around and, as the Russian Minister of Foreign
Affairs, do what he had so recently criticized the Austrian Socialists
for doing is unlikely.

Trotzky is against all the present governments of Europe, and the
"bourgeois system" everywhere in the world.  He isn’t pro-Allies; he
isn’t even pro-Russian.  He isn’t a patriot at all.  He is for a class,
the proletariat, the working people of all countries, and he is for his
class only to get rid of classes and get down or up to--humanity.  And
so with his people.

The Russians have listened to the Socialist propaganda for generations
now.  They have learned the chief lessons it has taught: liberty, land,
industrial democracy and the class-war the world over.  This War was not
their war; it was the Czar’s war; a war of the governments in the
interest of their enemies, the capitalists of their several countries,
who, as Trotzky says, were forcing their states to fight for the right
to exploit other and smaller peoples.  So when they overthrew the Czar,
the Russians wanted to drop his war and go into their own, the class
war.  Kerensky held them at the front in the name of "the" Revolution;
he would get peace for them by arrangement with the allies.  He didn’t;
he couldn’t; he was dismissed by them. Not by the Bolsheviki, but by the
Russian people who know the three or four things they want: land and
liberty at home; the Revolution and Democracy for all the world.

I heard a radical assert one day that that was the reason Trotzky could
be such an exception to the rule about radicals in power. He came to the
head of the Russian Revolution when his ideas were the actual demands of
the Russian people and that it was not his strength of character, but
the force of a democratic public opinion in mob power, which made him
stick to his philosophy and carry out his theories and promises.  I find
upon inquiry here in New York that while he was living and working as a
journalist on the East Side, he left one paper after another because he
could not conform, to their editorial policies and would not compromise.
He was "stiff-necked," "obstinate," "unreasonable."  In other, kinder
words, Trotzky is a strong man, with a definite mind and a purpose of
his own, which he has the will and the nerve to pursue.

Also, however, Trotzky is a strong man who is ruled by and represents a
very simple-minded people who are acting like him, literally upon the
theory that the people govern now, in Russia; the common people; and
that, since they don’t like the War of the Czar, the Kaiser, the Kings
and the Emperors, their government should make peace with the peoples of
the world, a democratic peace against imperialism and capitalism and the
state everywhere, for the establishment in its stead of a free,
world-wide democracy.

That may be the true explanation of Trotzky’s Bolshevik peace policy in
the world crisis of the World War.  That is the explanation which is
suggested by this book.

"Written in extreme haste," he says at the close of his preface, "under
conditions far from favorable to systematic work ... the entire book,
from the first page to the last, was written with the idea of the New
International constantly in mind--the New International which must rise
out of the present world cataclysm, the International of the last
conflict and the final victory."

New York, January 4th, 1918

                            AUTHOR’S PREFACE

The forces of production which capitalism has evolved have outgrown the
limits of nation and state.  The national state, the present political
form, is too narrow for the exploitation of these productive forces.
The natural tendency of our economic system, therefore, is to seek to
break through the state boundaries. The whole globe, the land and the
sea, the surface as well as the interior, has become one economic
workshop, the different parts of which are inseparably connected with
each other.  This work was accomplished by capitalism.  But in
accomplishing it the capitalist states were led to struggle for the
subjection of the world-embracing economic system to the profit
interests of the bourgeoisie of each country.  What the politics of
imperialism has demonstrated more than anything else is that the old
national state that was created in the revolutions and the wars of
1789-1815, 1848-1859, 1864-1866, and 1870 has outlived itself, and is
now an intolerable hindrance to economic development.

The present War is at bottom a revolt of the forces of production
against the political form of nation and state.  It means the collapse
of the national state as an independent economic unit.

The nation must continue to exist as a cultural, ideologic and
psychological fact, but its economic foundation has been pulled from
under its feet.  All talk of the present bloody clash being a work of
national defense is either hypocrisy or blindness.  On the contrary, the
real, objective significance of the war is the breakdown of the present
national economic centres, and the substitution of a world economy in
its stead.  But the way the governments propose to solve this problem of
imperialism is not through the intelligent, organized coöperation of all
of humanity’s producers, but through the exploitation of the world’s
economic system by the capitalist class of the victorious country; which
country is by this War to be transformed from a great power into the
world power.

The War proclaims the downfall of the national state.  Yet at the same
time it proclaims the downfall of the capitalist system of economy.  By
means of the national state capitalism has revolutionized the whole
economic system of the world.  It has divided the whole earth among the
oligarchies of the great powers, around which were grouped the
satellites, the small nations, who lived off the rivalry between the
great ones.  The future development of world economy on the capitalistic
basis means a ceaseless struggle for new and ever new fields of
capitalist exploitation, which must be obtained from one and the same
source, the earth.  The economic rivalry under the banner of militarism
is accompanied by robbery and destruction which violate the elementary
principles of human economy.  World production revolts not only against
the confusion produced by national and state divisions but also against
the capitalist economic organization, which has now turned into
barbarous disorganization and chaos.

The War of 1914 is the most colossal breakdown in history of an economic
system destroyed by its own inherent contradictions.

All the historical forces whose task it has been to guide the bourgeois
society, to speak in its name and to exploit it, have declared their
historical bankruptcy by the War.  They defended capitalism as a system
of human civilization, and the catastrophe born out of that system is
primarily _their_ catastrophe.  The first wave of events raised the
national governments and armies to unprecedented heights never attained
before.  For the moment the nations rallied around them.  But the more
terrible will be the crash of the governments when the people, deafened
by the thunder of the cannon, realize the meaning of the events now
taking place in all their truth and frightfulness.

The revolutionary reaction of the masses will be all the more powerful
the more prodigious the cataclysm which history is now bringing upon

Capitalism has created the material conditions of a new Socialist
economic system. Imperialism has led the capitalist nations into
historic chaos.  The War of 1914 shows the way out of this chaos by
violently urging the proletariat on to the path of Revolution.

For the economic backward countries of Europe the War brings to the fore
problems of a far earlier historic origin--problems of democracy and
national unity.  This is in a large measure the case with the peoples of
Russia, Austria-Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula. But these historically
belated questions, which were bequeathed to the present epoch as a
heritage from the past, do not alter the fundamental character of the
events.  It is not the national aspirations of the Serbs, Poles,
Roumanians or Finns that has mobilized twenty-five million soldiers and
placed them in the battlefields, but the imperialistic interests of the
bourgeoisie of the Great Powers.  It is imperialism that has upset
completely the European _status quo_, maintained for forty-five years,
and raised again the old questions which the bourgeois revolution proved
itself powerless to solve.

Yet in the present epoch it is quite impossible to treat these questions
in and by themselves.  They are utterly devoid of an independent
character.  The creation of normal relations of national life and
economic development on the Balkan Peninsula is unthinkable if Czarism
and Austria-Hungary are preserved.  Czarism is now the indispensable
military reservoir for the financial imperialism of France and the
conservative colonial power of England.  Austria-Hungary is the mainstay
of Germany’s imperialism.  Issuing from the private family clashes
between the national Servian terrorists and the Hapsburg political
police, the War very quickly revealed its true fundamental character--a
struggle of life and death between Germany and England.  While the
simpletons and hypocrites prate of the defense of national freedom and
independence, the German-English War is really being waged for the
freedom of the imperialistic exploitation of the peoples of India and
Egypt on the one hand, and for the imperialistic division of the peoples
of the earth on the other.

Germany began its capitalistic development on a national basis with the
destruction of the continental hegemony of France in the year 1870-1871.
Now that the development of German industry on a national foundation has
transformed Germany into the first capitalistic power of the world, she
finds herself colliding with the hegemony of England in her further
course of development.  The complete and unlimited domination of the
European continent seems to Germany the indispensable prerequisite of
the overthrow of her world enemy.  The first thing, therefore, that
imperialistic Germany writes in her programme is the creation of a
Middle European League of Nations. Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Balkan
Peninsula and Turkey, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland,
Italy, and, if possible, enfeebled France and Spain and Portugal, are to
make one economic and military whole, a Great Germany under the hegemony
of the present German state.

This programme, which has been thoroughly elaborated by the economists,
political students, jurists and diplomats of German imperialism and
translated into reality by its strategists, is the most striking proof
and most eloquent expression of the fact that capitalism has expanded
beyond the limits of the national state and feels intolerably cramped
within its boundaries.  The national Great Power must go and in its
place must step the imperialistic World Power.

In these historical circumstances the working class, the proletariat,
can have no interest in defending the outlived and antiquated national
"fatherland," which has become the main obstacle to economic
development.  The task of the proletariat is to create a far more
powerful fatherland, with far greater power of resistance--_the
republican United States of Europe_, as the foundation of the United
States of the World.

The only way in which the proletariat can meet the imperialistic
perplexity of capitalism is by opposing to it as a practical programme
of the day the Socialist organization of world economy.

War is the method by which capitalism, at the climax of its development,
seeks to solve its insoluble contradictions.  To this method the
proletariat must oppose its _own_ method, the method of the Social

The Balkan question and the question of the overthrow of Czarism,
propounded to us by the Europe of yesterday, can be solved only in a
revolutionary way, in connection with the problem of the United Europe
of to-morrow.  The immediate, urgent task of the Russian Social
Democracy, to which the author belongs, is the fight against Czarism.
What Czarism primarily seeks in Austria-Hungary and the Balkans is a
market for its political methods of plunder, robbery and acts of
violence.  The Russian bourgeoisie all the way up to its radical
intellectuals has become completely demoralized by the tremendous growth
of industry in the last five years, and it has entered into a bloody
league with the dynasty, which had to secure to the impatient Russian
capitalists their part of the world’s booty by new land robberies.
While Czarism stormed and devastated Galicia, and deprived it even of
the rags and tatters of liberty granted to it by the Hapsburgs, while it
dismembered unhappy Persia, and from the corner of the Bosporus strove
to throw the noose around the neck of the Balkan peoples, it left to the
liberalism which it despised the task of concealing its robbery by
sickening declamations over the defense of Belgium and France.  The year
1914 spells the complete bankruptcy of Russian liberalism, and makes the
Russian proletariat the sole champion of the war of liberation.  It
makes the Russian Revolution definitely an integral part of the Social
Revolution of the European proletariat.

In our war against Czarism, in which we have never known a "national"
truce, we have never looked for help from Hapsburg or Hohenzollern
militarism, and we are not looking for it now.  We have preserved a
sufficiently clear revolutionary vision to know that the idea of
destroying Czarism was utterly repugnant to German imperialism.  Czarism
has been its best ally on the Eastern border.  It is united to it by
close ties of social structure and historical aims.  Yet even if it were
otherwise, even if it could be assumed that, in obedience to the logic
of military operations, it would deal a destructive blow to Czarism, in
defiance of the logic of its own political interests--even in such a
highly improbable case we should refuse to regard the Hohenzollerns not
only as an objective but as a subjective ally.  The fate of the Russian
Revolution is so inseparably bound up with the fate of European
Socialism, and we Russian Socialists stand so firmly on the ground of
internationalism, that we cannot, we must not for a moment, entertain
the idea of purchasing the doubtful liberation of Russia by the certain
destruction of the liberty of Belgium and France, and--what is more
important still--thereby inoculating the German and Austrian proletariat
with the virus of imperialism.

We are united by many ties to the German Social Democracy.  We have all
gone through the German Socialist school, and learned lessons from its
successes as well as from its failures.  The German Social Democracy was
to us not only _a_ party of the International.  It was _the_ Party _par
excellence_.  We have always preserved and fortified the fraternal bond
that united us with the Austrian Social Democracy. On the other hand, we
have always taken pride in the fact that we have made our modest
contribution towards winning suffrage in Austria and arousing
revolutionary tendencies in the German working class.  It cost more than
one drop of blood to do it.  We have unhesitatingly accepted moral and
material support from our older brother who fought for the same ends as
we on the other side of our Western border.

Yet it is just because of this respect for the past, and still more out
of respect for the future, which ought to unite the working class of
Russia with the working classes of Germany and Austria, that we
indignantly reject the "liberating" aid which German imperialism offers
us in a Krupp munition box, with the blessing, alas! of German
Socialism.  And we hope that the indignant protest of Russian Socialism
will be loud enough to be heard in Berlin and in Vienna.

The collapse of the Second International is a tragic fact, and it were
blindness or cowardice to close one’s eyes to it.  The position taken by
the French and by the larger part of English Socialism is as much a part
of this breakdown as the position of the German and Austrian Social
Democracy.  If the present work addresses itself chiefly to the German
Social Democracy it is only because the German party was the strongest,
most influential, and in principle the most basic member of the
Socialist world.  Its historic capitulation reveals most clearly the
causes of the downfall of the Second International.  At first glance it
may appear that the social revolutionary prospects of the future are
wholly deceptive.  The insolvency of the old Socialist parties has
become catastrophically apparent.  Why should we have faith in the
future of the Socialist movement?  Such skepticism, though natural,
nevertheless leads to quite an erroneous conclusion. It leaves out of
account the good will of history, just as we have often been too prone
to ignore its ill will, which has now so cruelly shown itself in the
fate that has overcome the International.

The present War signalizes the collapse of the national states.  The
Socialist parties of the epoch now concluded were national parties. They
had become ingrained in the national states with all the different
branches of their organizations, with all their activities and with
their psychology.  In the face of the solemn declarations at their
congresses they rose to the defense of the conservative state, when
imperialism, grown big on the national soil, began to demolish the
antiquated national barriers. And in their historic crash the national
states have pulled down with them the national Socialist parties also.

It is not Socialism that has gone down, but its temporary historical
external form.  The revolutionary idea begins its life anew as it casts
off its old rigid shell.  This shell is made up of living human beings,
of an entire generation of Socialists that has become fossilized in
self-abnegating work of agitation and organization through a period of
several decades of political reaction, and has fallen into the habits
and views of national opportunism or possibilism.  All efforts to save
the Second International on the old basis, by personal diplomatic
methods and mutual concessions, are quite hopeless.  The old mole of
history is now digging its passageways all too well and none has the
power to stop him.

As the national states have become a hindrance to the development of the
forces of production, so the old Socialist parties have become the main
hindrance to the revolutionary movement of the working class.  It was
necessary that they should demonstrate to the full their extreme
backwardness, that they should discredit their utterly inadequate and
narrow methods, and bring the shame and horror of national discord upon
the proletariat, in order that the working class might emancipate
itself, through these fearful disillusionments, from the prejudices and
slavish habits of the period of preparation, and become at last that
which the voice of history is now calling it to be--the revolutionary
class fighting for power.

The Second International has not lived in vain.  It has accomplished a
huge cultural work.  There has been nothing like it in history before.
It has educated and assembled the oppressed classes.  The proletariat
does not now need to begin at the beginning.  It enters on the new road
not with empty hands.  The past epoch has bequeathed to it a rich
arsenal of ideas.  It has bequeathed to it the weapons of criticism.
The new epoch will teach the proletariat to combine the old weapons of
criticism with the new criticism of weapons.

This book was written in extreme haste, under conditions far from
favorable to systematic work.  A large part of it is devoted to the old
International which has fallen.  But the entire book, from the first to
the last page, was written with the idea of the New International
constantly in mind, the New International which must rise up out of the
present world cataclysm, the International of the last conflict and the
final victory.



                               CHAPTER I

                          THE BALKAN QUESTION

    "The War at present being waged against Russian Czarism and its
    vassals is dominated by a great historic idea.  The impetus of
    this great historic idea consecrates the battlefields of Poland
    and of Eastern Russia.  The roar of cannon, the rattling of
    machine guns, and the onrush of cavalry, all betoken the
    enforcement of the democratic programme for the liberation of
    the nations.  Had Czarism, in league with the French
    capitalistic powers and in league with an unscrupulous ’nation
    of shopkeepers,’ not succeeded in suppressing the Revolution of
    1905, the present slaughter of the nations would have been

    "A democratic Russia would never have consented to wage this
    unscrupulous and futile War.  The great ideas of freedom and
    justice now speak the persuasive language of the machine gun and
    the sword, and every heart susceptible of sympathy with justice
    and humanity can only wish that the power of Czarism may be
    destroyed once for all, and that the oppressed Russian
    nationalities may again secure the right to decide their own

The above quotation is from the _Nepszava_ of August 31, 1914, the
official organ of the Socialist party of Hungary.  Hungary is the land
whose entire inner life was erected upon the high-handed oppression of
the national minorities, upon the enslavement of the laboring classes,
upon the official parasitism and usury of the ruling caste of large
landowners. It is the land in which men like Tisza are masters of the
situation, dyed-in-the-wool agrarians, with the manners of political
bandits.  In a word, Hungary is a country closest of kin to Czar-ruled

So what is more fitting than that the _Nepszava_, the Socialist organ of
Hungary, should hail with outbursts of enthusiasm the liberating mission
of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies?  Who other than Count Tisza
could have felt the call to "enforce the democratic programme for the
liberation of the nations"? Who was there to uphold the eternal
principles of law and justice in Europe but the ruling clique of
Budapest, the discredited Panamists? Would you entrust this mission to
the unscrupulous diplomacy of "perfidious Albion," to the nation of

Laughter turns away wrath.  The tragic inconsistencies of the policies
followed by the International not only reach their climax in the
articles of the poor Nepszava; they disarm us by their humor.

The present series of events began with the ultimatum, sent to Servia by
Austria-Hungary. There was not the slightest reason why the
international Social Democracy should take under its protection the
intrigues of the Serbs or any other of the petty dynasties of the Balkan
Peninsula.  They were all endeavoring to hide their political adventures
under the cloak of national aspirations.  We had still less cause to
lash ourselves into a state of moral indignation because a fanatic young
Serb responded to the cowardly, criminal and wily national politics of
the Vienna and Budapest government authorities with a bloody

    ¹ It is noteworthy that these opportunistic Austrian and German
      Socialists are now writhing with moral indignation over the
      "treacherous assassination at Sarajevo."  And yet they always
      sympathized with the Russian terrorists more than we, the Russian
      Social Democrats, did, who are opposed on principle to the
      terroristic method.  Lost in the mist of chauvinism, they can no
      longer see that the unfortunate Servian terrorist, Gavrilo
      Prinzip, represents precisely the same national principle as the
      German terrorist, Sand.  Perhaps they will even ask us to transfer
      our sympathies from Sand to Kotzebue?  Or perhaps these eunuchs
      will advise the Swiss to overthrow the monuments erected to the
      assassin Tell and replace them with monuments to the Austrian
      governor, Gessler, one of the spiritual forerunners of the
      murdered archduke?

Of one thing we have no doubt.  In the dealings between the Danube
Monarchy and the Servian government, the historic right, that is to say,
the right of free development, rests entirely with Servia, just as Italy
was in the right in the year 1859.  Underneath the duel between the
imperial police scoundrels and the terrorists of Belgrade, there is
hidden a far deeper meaning than merely the greed of the
Kareorgoievitches or the crimes of the Czar’s diplomacy. On one side
were the imperialistic claims of a national state that had lost its
vitality, and on the other side, the strivings of the dismembered
Servian nation to reintegrate itself into a national whole and become a
living vital state.

Is it for this that we have sat so long in the school of Socialism to
forget the first three letters of the democratic alphabet?  This
absolute lapse of memory, moreover, made its appearance only after the
fourth of August.  Up to that fatal date the German Marxists showed that
they knew very well what was happening in Southeastern Europe.

On July 3, 1914, after the assassination at Sarajevo, the _Vorwärts_

    "The bourgeois revolution of the South Slavs is in full swing,
    and the shooting at Sarajevo, however wild and senseless an act
    in itself, is as much a chapter of this revolution as the
    battles by which the Bulgarians, Serbs and Montenegrins
    liberated the peasants of Macedonia from the yoke of Turkish
    feudal exploitation.  Is it a wonder that the South Slavs of
    Austria-Hungary look with longing to their racial brothers in
    the kingdom of Servia?  The Serbs in Servia have attained the
    highest goal a people can attain in the present order of
    society.  They have attained national independence.  Whereas in
    Vienna or Budapest they treat every one bearing the name of Serb
    or Croatian with blows and kicks, with court-martial justice and
    the gallows....  There are seven and a half million South Slavs
    who, as a result of the victories in the Balkans, have grown
    bolder than ever in demanding their political rights.  And if
    the imperial throne of Austria continues to resist their impact,
    it will topple over and the entire Empire with which we have
    coupled our destiny will break to pieces.  For it is in line
    with historic evolution that such national revolutions should
    march onward to victory."

If the international Social Democracy together with its Servian
contingent, offered unyielding resistance to Servia’s national claims,
it was certainly not out of any consideration for the historic rights of
Austria-Hungary to oppress and disintegrate the nationalities living
within her borders; and most certainly not out of consideration for the
liberating mission of the Hapsburgs.  Until August, 1914, no one, except
the black and yellow hirelings of the press, dared to breathe a word
about that.  The Socialists were influenced in their course of conduct
by entirely different motives.  First of all, the proletariat, although
by no means disputing the historic right of Servia to strive for
national unity, could not trust the solution of this problem to the
powers then controlling the destinies of the Servian kingdom.  And in
the second place--and this was for us the deciding factor--the
international Social Democracy could not sacrifice the peace of Europe
to the national cause of the Serbs, recognizing, as it did, that, except
for a European revolution, the only way such unity could be achieved was
through a European war.

But from the moment Austria-Hungary carried the question of her own fate
and that of Servia to the battlefield, Socialists could no longer have
the slightest doubt that social and national progress would be hit much
harder in Southeastern Europe by a Hapsburg victory than by a Servian
victory.  To be sure, there was still no reason for us Socialists to
identify our cause with the aims of the Servian army. This was the idea
that animated the Servian Socialists, Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch,
when they took the manly stand of voting against the war credits.²  But
surely we had still less reason to support the purely dynastic rights of
the Hapsburgs and the imperialistic interests of the feudal-capitalistic
cliques against the national struggle of the Serbs.  At all events, the
Austro-Hungarian Social Democracy, which now invokes its blessings upon
the sword of the Hapsburgs for the liberation of the Poles, the
Ukrainians, the Finns and the Russian people, must first of all clarify
its ideas on the Servian question, which it has gotten so hopelessly

    ² To appreciate fully this action of the Servian Socialists we must
      bear in mind the political situation by which they were
      confronted.  A group of Servian conspirators had murdered a member
      of the Hapsburg family, the mainstay of Austro-Hungarian
      clericalism, militarism, and imperialism.  Using this as a welcome
      pretext, the military party in Vienna sent an ultimatum to Servia,
      which, for sheer audacity, has scarcely ever been paralleled in
      diplomatic history.  In reply, the Servian government made
      extraordinary concessions, and suggested that the solution of the
      question in dispute be turned over to the Hague tribunal.
      Thereupon Austria declared war on Servia. If the idea of a "war of
      defense" has any meaning at all, it certainly applied to Servia in
      this instance.  Nevertheless, our friends, Ljaptchevitch and
      Katzlerovitch, unshaken in their conviction of the course of
      action that they as Socialists must pursue, refused the government
      a vote of confidence.  The writer was in Servia at the beginning
      of the War.  In the Skuptchina, in an atmosphere of indescribable
      national enthusiasm, a vote was taken on the war credits.  The
      voting was by roll-call.  Two hundred members had all answered
      "Yes."  Then in a moment of deathlike silence came the voice of
      the Socialist Ljaptchevitch--"No."  Every one felt the moral force
      of this protest, and the scene has remained indelibly impressed
      upon my memory.

The question at issue, however, is not confined to the fate of the ten
million Serbs.  The clash of the European nations has brought up the
entire Balkan question anew.  The Peace of Bucharest, signed in 1903,
has solved neither the national nor the international problems in the
Near East.  It has only intensified the added confusion resulting from
the two unfinished Balkan Wars, unfinished because of the complete
temporary exhaustion of the nations participating in it.

Roumania had followed in the path of Austro-Hungarian politics, despite
the Romanesque sympathies of its population, especially in the cities.
This was due not so much to dynastic causes, to the fact that a
Hohenzollern prince occupied the throne, as to the imminent danger of a
Russian invasion.  In 1879 the Russian Czar, as thanks for Roumania’s
support in the Russo-Turkish war of "liberation," cut off a slice of
Roumanian territory, the province of Bessarabia.  This eloquent deed
provided a sufficient backing to the dynastic sympathies of the
Hohenzollern in Bucharest.  But the Magyar-Hapsburg clique succeeded in
incensing the Roumanian people against them by their denationalizing
policy in Transylvania, which has a population of three million
Roumanians as against three-fourths of a million in the Russian province
of Bessarabia; and they further antagonized them by their commercial
treaties, which were dictated by the interests of the large
Austro-Hungarian land-owners.  So that Roumania’s entrance into the War
on the side of the Czar, despite the courageous and active agitation
against participation in the War on either side, carried on by the
Socialist party under the leadership of my friends Gherea and Rakowsky,
is to be laid altogether at the door of the ruling class of
Austria-Hungary, who are reaping the harvest they have sown here as well
as elsewhere.

But the matter is not disposed of by fixing the historical
responsibility.  To-morrow, in a month, in a year or more the War will
bring to the foreground the whole question of the destiny of the Balkan
peoples and of Austria-Hungary, and the proletariat will have to have
its answer to this question.  European democracy in the nineteenth
century looked with distrust at the Balkan people’s struggle for
independence, because it feared that Russia might be strengthened at the
expense of Turkey.  On this subject Karl Marx wrote in 1853, on the eve
of the Crimean War:

    "It may be said that the more firmly established Servia and the
    Servian nationality is the more the direct influence of Russia
    on the Turkish Slavs is shoved into the background. For in order
    to be able to assert its peculiar position as a state, Servia
    had to import its political institutions, its schools ... from
    Western Europe."

This prophecy has been brilliantly fulfilled in what has actually
happened in Bulgaria, which was created by Russia as an outpost on the
Balkans.  As soon as Bulgaria was fairly well established as a national
state, it developed a strong anti-Russian party, under the leadership of
Russia’s former pupil, Stambulov, and this party was able to stamp its
iron seal upon the entire foreign policy of the young country. The whole
mechanism of the political parties in Bulgaria is so constructed as to
enable it to steer between the two European combinations without being
absolutely forced into the channel of either, unless it chooses to enter
it of its own accord.  Roumania went with the Austro-German alliance,
Servia, since 1903, with Russia, because the one was menaced directly by
Russia, the other by Austria.  The more independent the countries of
Southeast Europe are from Austria-Hungary, the more effectively they
will be able to protect their independence against Czarism.

The balance of power in the Balkans, created by the Congress of Berlin
in 1879, was full of contradictions.  Cut up by artificial
ethnographical boundaries, placed under the control of imported
dynasties from German nurseries, bound hand and foot by the intrigues of
the Great Powers, the peoples of the Balkans could not cease their
efforts for further national freedom and unity.  The national politics
of independent Bulgaria was naturally directed towards Macedonia,
populated by Bulgarians. The Berlin Congress had left it under Turkish
rule.  On the other hand, Servia had practically nothing to look for in
Turkey with the exception of the little strip of land, the sandbag Novy
Bazar.  Its national interests lay on the other side of the
Austro-Hungarian boundary, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slavonia and
Dalmatia.  Roumania had no interests in the south, where it is separated
from European Turkey by Servia and Bulgaria.  Roumania’s expansion
policy was directed towards the northwest and east, towards Hungarian
Transylvania and Russian Bessarabia.  Finally, the national expansion of
Greece, like that of Bulgaria, collided with Turkey.

Austro-German politics, aiming at the artificial preservation of
European Turkey, broke down not on account of the diplomatic intrigues
of Russia, although these of course were not lacking.  It broke down
because of the inevitable course of evolution.  The Balkan Peninsula had
entered on the path of capitalist development, and it was this fact that
raised the question of the self-determination of the Balkan peoples as
national states to the historical issue of the day.

The Balkan War disposed of European Turkey, and thereby created the
conditions necessary for the solution of the Bulgarian and Greek
questions.  But Servia and Roumania, whose national completion could
only be achieved at the expense of Austria-Hungary, found themselves
checked in their efforts at expansion southwards, and were compensated
at the expense of what racially belonged to Bulgaria--Servia in
Macedonia, and Roumania in Dobrudja.  This is the meaning of the second
Balkan War and the Peace of Bucharest by which it was concluded.

The mere existence of Austria-Hungary, this Turkey of Middle Europe,
blocks the way to the natural self-determination of the peoples of the
Southeast.  It compels them to keep constantly fighting against each
other, to seek support against each other from the outside, and so makes
them the tool of the political combinations of the Great Powers.  It was
only in such chaos that Czaristic diplomacy was enabled to spin the web
of its Balkan politics, the last thread of which was Constantinople.
And only a federation of the Balkan states, both economic and military,
can interpose an invincible barrier to the greed of Czarism.

Now that European Turkey has been disposed of, it is Austria-Hungary
that stands in the way of a federation of the Balkan states. Roumania,
Bulgaria, and Servia would have found their natural boundaries, and
would have united with Greece and Turkey, on the basis of common
economic interests, into a league of defense.  This would finally have
brought peace to the Balkan Peninsula, that witches’ cauldron which
periodically threatened Europe with explosions, until it drew it into
the present catastrophe.

Up to a certain time the Socialists had to reconcile themselves to the
routine way in which the Balkan question was treated by capitalistic
diplomats, who in their conferences and secret agreements stopped up one
hole only to open another, even wider one.  So long as this dilatory
method kept postponing the final solution, the Socialist International
could hope that the settlement of the Hapsburg succession would be a
matter not for a European war, but for the European Revolution.  But now
that the War has destroyed the equilibrium of the whole of Europe, and
the predatory Powers are seeking to remodel the map of Europe--not on
the basis of national democratic principles, but of military
strength--the Social Democracy must come to a clear comprehension of the
fact that one of the chief obstacles to freedom, peace and progress, in
addition to Czarism and German militarism, is the Hapsburg Monarchy as a
state organization.  The crime of the Galician Socialist group under
Daszynski consisted not only in placing the Polish cause above the cause
of Socialism, but also in linking the fate of Poland with the fate of
the Austro-Hungarian armies and the fate of the Hapsburg Monarchy.

The Socialist proletariat of Europe cannot adopt such a solution of the
question.  For us the question of united and independent Poland is on a
par with the question of united and independent Servia.  We cannot and
we will not permit the Polish question to be solved by methods which
will perpetuate the chaos at present prevailing in Southeastern Europe,
in fact through the whole of Europe.  For us Socialists the independence
of Poland means its independence on both fronts, on the Romanoff front
and on the Hapsburg front.  We not only wish the Polish people to be
free from the oppression of Czarism.  We wish also that the fate of the
Servian people shall not be dependent upon the Polish nobility in

For the present we need not consider what the relations of an
independent Poland will be to Bohemia, Hungary and the Balkan
Federation. But it is perfectly clear that a complex of medium-sized and
small states on the Danube and in the Balkan Peninsula will constitute a
far more effective bar to the Czaristic designs on Europe than the weak,
chaotic Austro-Hungarian State, which proves its right to existence only
by its continued attempts upon the peace of Europe.

In the article of 1853, quoted above, Marx wrote as follows on the
Eastern question:

    "We have seen that the statesmen of Europe, in their obdurate
    stupidity, petrified routine, and hereditary intellectual
    indolence, recoil from every attempt at answering the question
    of what is to become of Turkey in Europe.  The driving force
    that favors Russia’s advance towards Constantinople is the very
    means by which it is thought to keep her away from it, the empty
    theory, never carried out, of maintaining the _status quo_. What
    is this _status quo_?  For the Christian subjects of the Porte
    it means nothing else than the perpetuation of their oppression
    by Turkey.  As long as they are under the yoke of the Turkish
    rule, they look upon the head of the Greek Church, the ruler of
    60 million Greek Church Christians, as _their natural protector
    and liberator_."

What is here said of Turkey now applies in a still greater degree to
Austria-Hungary. The solution of the Balkan question is unthinkable
without the solution of the Austro-Hungarian question, as they are both
comprised in one and the same formula--the Democratic Federation of the
Danube and Balkan Nations.

"The governments with their old-fashioned diplomacy," wrote Marx, "will
never solve the difficulty.  Like the solution of so many other
problems, the Turkish problem, too, is reserved for the European
Revolution."  This statement holds just as good to-day as when it was
first written.  But for the Revolution to solve the difficulties that
have piled up in the course of centuries, the proletariat must have its
_own_ programme for the solution of the Austro-Hungarian question.  And
this programme it must oppose just as strenuously to the Czaristic greed
of conquest as to the cowardly and conservative efforts to maintain the
Austro-Hungarian _status quo_.

                               CHAPTER II


Russian Czarism undoubtedly represents a cruder and more barbarian form
of state organization than does the feebler absolutism of
Austria-Hungary, which has been mitigated by the weakness of old age.
But Russian Czarism and the Russian state are by no means identical.
The destruction of Czarism does not mean the disintegration of the
state.  On the contrary it means its liberation and its strengthening.
All such assertions, as that it is necessary to push Russia back into
Asia, which found an echo even in certain Social Democratic organs, are
based on a poor knowledge of geography and ethnography.  Whatever may be
the fate of various parts of present Russia--Russian Poland, Finland,
the Ukraine or Bessarabia--European Russia will not cease to exist as
the national territory of a many-millioned race that has made notable
conquests along the line of cultural development during the last quarter

Quite different is the case of Austria-Hungary. As a state organization
it is identical with the Hapsburg Monarchy.  It stands or falls with the
Hapsburgs, just as European Turkey was identical with the
feudal-military Ottoman caste and fell when that caste fell.  A
conglomerate of racial fragments centrifugal in tendency, yet forced by
a dynasty to stick together, Austria-Hungary presents the most
reactionary picture in the very heart of Europe. Its continuation after
the present European catastrophe would not only delay the development of
the Danube and Balkan peoples for more decades to come and make a
repetition of the present War a practical certainty, but it would also
strengthen Czarism politically by preserving its main source of
spiritual nourishment.

If the German Social Democracy reconciles itself to the ruin of France
by regarding it as punishment for France’s alliance with Czarism, then
we must ask that the same criterion be applied to the German-Austrian
alliance.  And if the alliance of the two Western democracies with a
despotic Czarism gives the lie to the French and English press when they
represent the War as one of liberation, then is it not equally arrogant,
if not more so, for the German Social Democracy to spread the banner of
liberty over the Hohenzollern army, the army that is fighting not only
_against_ Czarism and its allies but also _for_ the entrenchment of the
Hapsburg Monarchy?

Austria-Hungary is indispensable to Germany, to the ruling class in
Germany as we know it.  When the ruling Junker class threw France into
the arms of Czarism by the forceful annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, and
systematically embittered the relations with England by rapidly
increasing naval armaments; when it repulsed all attempts at an
understanding with the Western democracies because such an understanding
would have implied the democratization of Germany--then this ruling
class saw itself compelled to seek support from the Austro-Hungarian
Monarchy as a reserve source of military strength against the enemies in
the East and the West.

According to the German point of view the mission of the Dual Monarchy
was to place Hungarian, Polish, Roumanian, Czech, Ruthenian, Servian and
Italian auxiliaries in the service of the German military and Junker
policy.  The ruling class in Germany had easily reconciled itself to the
expatriation of ten to twelve millions of Germans, for these twelve
millions formed the kernel around which the Hapsburgs united a
non-German population of more than forty million.  A democratic
federation of independent Danube nations would have made these peoples
useless as allies of German militarism.  Only a monarchy, in
Austria-Hungary, a monarchy enforced by militarism, would make that
country of any value as an ally to Junker Germany.  The indispensable
condition for this alliance, sanctified by the Nibelungen troth of
dynasties, was the military preparedness of Austria-Hungary, a condition
to be achieved in no other way than by the mechanical suppression of the
centrifugal national tendencies.

Since Austria-Hungary is surrounded on all sides by states composed of
the same races as are within its own borders, its foreign policy is
necessarily intimately connected with its internal policy.  To keep
seven million Serbs and South Slavs within the frame of its own military
state, Austria-Hungary is compelled to extinguish the hearthfire that
kindles their political leanings--the independent kingdom of Servia.

Austria’s ultimatum to Servia was the decisive step in this direction.
"Austria-Hungary took this step under the pressure of necessity," wrote
Eduard Bernstein in _Die Sozialistische Monatshefte_ (No. 16).  To be
sure it was, if political events are considered from the viewpoint of
_dynastic_ necessity.

To defend the Hapsburg policy on the ground of the low moral standard of
the Belgrade rulers is to close one’s eyes to the fact that the
Hapsburgs did make friends with Servia, but only when Servia was under
the most despicable government that the history of the unfortunate
Balkan Peninsula has known, that is, when it had at its head an Austrian
agent, Milan.  The reckoning with Servia came so late because the
efforts made at self-preservation were too weak in the enfeebled
organism of the Dual Monarchy.  But after the death of the Archduke, the
support and hope of the Austrian military party--and of
Berlin--Austria’s ally gave her a sharp dig in the ribs, insisting upon
a demonstration of firmness and strength.  Not only was Austria’s
ultimatum to Servia approved of in advance by the rulers of Germany,
but, according to all information, it was actually inspired from that
quarter.  The evidence is plainly set forth in the very same White Book
which professional and amateur diplomats offer as a document of the
Hohenzollern love of peace.

After defining the aims of Greater Servian propaganda and the
machinations of Czarism in the Balkans, the White Book states:

    "Under such conditions Austria was forced to the realization
    that it was not compatible with the dignity or the
    self-preservation of the Monarchy to look on at the doings
    across the border and remain passive.  The Imperial Government
    informed us of this view and asked for our opinion.  We could
    sincerely tell our ally that we agreed with his estimate of the
    situation and could assure him that any action he might find
    necessary to put an end to the movement in Servia against the
    Austrian Monarchy would meet with our approval.  In doing so, we
    were well aware of the fact that eventual war operations on the
    part of Austria-Hungary might bring Russia into the field and
    might, according to the terms of our alliance, involve us in a

    "But in view of the vital interests of Austria-Hungary that were
    at stake, we could not advise our ally to show a leniency
    incompatible with his dignity, or refuse him our support in a
    moment of such grave portent. We were the less able to do so
    because our own interests also were vitally threatened by the
    persistent agitation in Servia.  If the Serbs, aided by Russia
    and France, had been allowed to go on endangering the stability
    of our neighboring Monarchy, this would have led to the gradual
    breakdown of Austria and to the subjection of all the Slavic
    races to the Russian rule.  And this in turn would have made the
    position of the Germanic race in Central Europe quite
    precarious.  An Austria morally weakened, breaking down before
    the advance of Russian Pan-Slavism, would not be an ally with
    whom we could reckon and on whom we could depend, as we are
    obliged to depend, in the face of the increasingly threatening
    attitude of our neighbors to the East and the West.  We
    therefore left Austria a free hand in its action against

The relation of the ruling class in Germany to the Austro-Servian
conflict is here fully and clearly defined.  It is not merely that
Germany was informed by the Austrian Government of the latter’s
intentions, not merely that she approved them, and not merely that she
accepted the consequences of fidelity to an ally. No, Germany looked on
Austria’s aggression as unavoidable, as a saving act for herself, and
actually made it _a condition of the continuance of the alliance_.
Otherwise, "Austria would not be an ally with whom we could reckon."

The German Marxists were fully aware of this state of affairs and of the
dangers lurking in it.  On June 29th, a day after the murder of the
Austrian Archduke, the _Vorwärts_ wrote as follows:

    "The fate of our nation has been all too closely knit with that
    of Austria as a result of a bungling foreign policy.  Our rulers
    have made the alliance with Austria the basis of our entire
    foreign policy.  Yet it becomes clearer every day that this
    alliance is a source of weakness rather than of strength.  The
    _problem of Austria_ threatens more and more to become a _menace
    to the peace of Europe_."

A month later, when the menace was about to culminate in the dread
actuality of war, on July 28th, the chief organ of the German Social
Democracy wrote in equally definite terms. "How shall the German
proletariat act in the face of such a senseless paroxysm?" it asked; and
then gave the answer: "_The German proletariat is not in the least
interested in the preservation of the Austrian national chaos_."

Quite the contrary.  Democratic Germany is far more interested in the
disruption than in the preservation of Austria-Hungary.  A disrupted
Austria-Hungary would mean a gain to Germany of an educated population
of twelve million and a capital city of the first rank, Vienna.  Italy
would achieve national completion, and would cease to play the rôle of
the incalculable factor that she always has been in the Triple Alliance.
An independent Poland, Hungary, Bohemia, and a Balkan Federation
including a Roumania of ten million inhabitants on the Russian frontier,
would be a mighty bulwark against Czarism.  And most important of all, a
democratic Germany with a population of 75,000,000 Germans could easily,
without the Hohenzollerns and the ruling Junkers, come to an agreement
with France and England and could isolate Czarism and condemn its
foreign and internal policies to complete impotence.  A policy directed
towards this goal would indeed be a policy of liberation for the people
of Russia as well as of Austria-Hungary.  But such a policy requires an
essential preliminary condition, namely, that the German people, instead
of entrusting the Hohenzollerns with the liberation of other nations,
should set about liberating themselves from the Hohenzollerns.

The attitude of the German and Austro-Hungarian Social Democracy in this
war is in blatant contradiction to such aims.  At the present moment it
seems convinced of the necessity of preserving and strengthening the
Hapsburg Monarchy in the interests of Germany or of the German nation.
And it is absolutely from this anti-democratic viewpoint--which drives
the blush of shame to the cheek of every internationally minded
Socialist--that the _Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung_ formulates the historical
meaning of the present War, when it declares "it is primarily a war [of
the Allies] against the German spirit."

"Whether diplomacy has acted wisely, whether this has had to come, time
alone can decide.  Now the fate of the German nation is at stake!  And
there can be no hesitation, no wavering!  The German people are one in
the inflexible iron determination not to bend to the yoke, and neither
death nor devil can succeed"--and so forth and so on.  (_Wiener
Arbeiter-Zeitung_, August 5th.)  We will not offend the political and
literary taste of the reader by continuing this quotation.  Nothing is
said here about the mission of liberating other nations. Here the object
of the war is to preserve and secure "German humanity."

The defense of _German_ culture, _German_ soil, _German_ humanity seems
to be the mission not only of the German army but of the
Austro-Hungarian army as well.  Serb must fight against Serb, Pole
against Pole, Ukranian against Ukranian, for the sake of "_German_
humanity."  The forty million non-German nationalities of
Austria-Hungary are considered as simply historical manure for the field
of German culture.  That this is not the standpoint of international
Socialism, it is not necessary to point out.  It is not even pure
national democracy in its most elementary form.  The Austro-Hungarian
General Staff explains this "humanity" in its communiqué of September
18th: "All peoples of our revered monarchy, as our military oath says,
’against any enemy no matter whom,’ must stand together as one, vying
with one another in courage."

The _Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung_ accepts in its entirety this
Hapsburg-Hohenzollern viewpoint of the Austro-Hungarian problem as an
unnational military reservoir.  It is the same attitude as the
militarists of France have toward the Senegalese and the Moroccans, and
the English have toward the Hindus.  And when we consider that such
opinions are not a new phenomenon among the German Socialists of
Austria, we have found the main reason why the Austrian Social Democracy
broke up so miserably into national groups, and thus reduced its
political importance to a minimum.

The disintegration of the Austrian Social Democracy into national parts
fighting among themselves, is one expression of the inadequacy of
Austria as a state organization.  At the same time the attitude of the
German-Austrian Social Democracy proved that it was itself the sorry
victim of this inadequacy, to which it capitulated spiritually.  When it
proved itself impotent to unite the many-raced Austrian proletariat
under the principles of Internationalism, and finally gave up this task
altogether, the Austro-German Social Democracy subordinated all
Austria-Hungary and even its own policies to the "Idea" of Prussian
Junker Nationalism.  This utter denial of principles speaks to us in an
unprecedented manner from the pages of the _Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung_.
But if we listen more carefully to the tones of this hysterical
nationalism we cannot fail to hear a graver voice, the voice of history
telling us that the path of political progress for Central and
Southeastern Europe leads over the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian

                              CHAPTER III

                        THE WAR AGAINST CZARISM

But how about Czarism?  Would not Germany’s and Austria’s victory mean
the defeat of Czarism?  And would not the beneficent results of the
defeat of Czarism greatly outbalance the beneficent results of a
dismembered Austria-Hungary?

The German and Austrian Social Democrats lay much stress upon this
question in the arguing they do about the War.  The crushing of a small
neutral country, the ruin of France--all this is justified by the need
to fight Czarism.  Haase gives as the reason for voting the war credits
the necessity of "defense against the danger of Russian despotism."
Bernstein goes back to Marx and Engels and quotes old texts for his
slogan, "Settling with Russia!"

Südekum, dissatisfied with the result of his Italian mission, says that
what the Italians are to blame for is not understanding Czarism. And
when the Social Democrats of Vienna and Budapest fall in line under the
Hapsburg banner in its "holy war" against the Servians struggling for
their national unity, they sacrifice their Socialistic honor to the
necessity for fighting Czarism.

And the Social Democrats are not alone in this.  The entire bourgeois
German press has no other aims, for the moment, than the annihilation of
the Russian autocracy, which oppresses the peoples of Russia and menaces
the freedom of Europe.

The Imperial Chancellor denounces France and England as vassals of
Russian despotism. Even the German Major-General von Morgen, assuredly a
true and tried "friend of liberty and independence," calls on the Poles
to rebel against the despotism of the Czar.

But for us who have gone through the school of historical materialism it
would be a disgrace if we did not perceive the actual relations of the
interests in spite of these phrases, these lies, this boasting, this
foul vulgarity and stupidity.

No one can genuinely believe that the German reactionaries really do
cherish such a hatred of Czarism, and are aiming their blows against it.
On the contrary, after the War Czarism will be the same to the rulers of
Germany that it was before the War--the most closely related form of
government.  Czarism is indispensable to the Germany of the
Hohenzollerns, for two reasons.  In the first place, it weakens Russia
economically, culturally and militaristically, and so prevents its
development as an imperialistic rival.  In the second place, the
existence of Czarism strengthens the Hohenzollern Monarchy and the
Junker oligarchy, since if there were no Czarism, German absolutism
would face Europe as the last mainstay of feudal barbarism.

German absolutism never has concealed the interest of blood relationship
that it has in the maintenance of Czarism, which represents the same
social form though in more shameless ways.  Interests, tradition,
sympathies draw the German reactionary element to the side Czarism.
"Russia’s sorrow is Germany’s sorrow."  At the same time the
Hohenzollerns, behind the back of Czarism, can make a show of being the
bulwark of culture "against barbarism," and can succeed in fooling their
own people if not the rest of Western Europe.

"With sincere sorrow I see a friendship broken that Germany has kept
faithfully," said William II. in his speech upon the declaration of war,
referring neither to France nor to England, but to Russia, or rather, to
the Russian dynasty, in accordance with the Hohenzollern’s Russian
religion, as Marx would have said.

We are told that Germany’s political plan is to create, on the one hand,
a basis of rapprochement with France and England by a victory over those
countries, and, on the other hand, to utilize a strategic victory over
France in order to crush Russian despotism.

The German Social Democrats must either have inspired William and his
chancellor with this plan, or else must have ascribed this plan to
William and his chancellor.

As a matter of fact, however, the political plans of the German
reactionaries are of exactly the opposite character, must necessarily be
of the opposite character.

For the present we will leave open the question of whether the
destructive blow at France was dictated by strategic considerations, and
whether "strategy" sanctioned defensive tactics on the Western front.
But one thing is certain, that not to see that the policy of the Junkers
required the ruin of France, is to prove that one has a reason for
keeping one’s eyes closed.  France--France is the enemy!

Eduard Bernstein, who is sincerely trying to justify the political stand
taken by the German Social Democracy, draws the following conclusions:
Were Germany under a democratic rule, there would be no doubt as to how
to settle accounts with Czarism.  A democratic Germany would conduct a
revolutionary war on the East.  It would call on the nations oppressed
by Russia to resist the tyrant and would give them the means wherewith
to wage a powerful fight for freedom.  [Quite right!]  However, Germany
is not a democracy, and therefore it would be a utopian dream [Exactly!]
to expect any such policy with all its consequences from Germany as she
is. (_Vorwärts_, August 28.)  Very well then!  But right here Bernstein
suddenly breaks off his analysis of the actual German policy "with all
its consequences."  After showing up the blatant contradiction in the
position of the German Social Democracy, he closes with the unexpected
hope that a reactionary Germany may accomplish what none but a
revolutionary Germany could accomplish.  _Credo quid absurdum_.

Nevertheless, it might be said in opposition to this that while the
ruling class in Germany has naturally no interest in fighting Czarism,
still Russia is now Germany’s enemy, and, quite independently of the
will of the Hohenzollerns, the victory of Germany over Russia might
result in the great weakening, if not the complete overthrow of Czarism.
Long live Hindenburg, the great unconscious instrument of the Russian
Revolution, we might cry along with the Chemnitz _Volksstimme_.  Long
live the Prussian Crown Prince--also a quite unconscious instrument.
Long live the Sultan of Turkey who is now serving in the cause of the
Revolution by bombarding the Russian cities around the Black Sea.  Happy
Russian Revolution--how quickly the ranks of her army are growing!

However, let us see if there is not something really to be said on this
side of the question. Is it not possible that the defeat of Czarism
might actually aid the cause of the Revolution?

As to such a _possibility_, there is nothing to be said against it.  The
Mikado and his Samurai were not in the least interested in freeing
Russia, yet the Russo-Japanese War gave a powerful impetus to the
revolutionary events that followed.

Consequently similar results may be expected from the German-Russian

But to place the right political estimate upon these historical
possibilities we must take the following circumstances into

Those who believe that the Russo-Japanese War brought on the Revolution
neither know nor understand historical events and their relations.  The
war merely hastened the outbreak of the Revolution; but for that very
reason it also weakened it.  For had the Revolution developed as a
result of the organic growth of inner forces, it would have come later,
but would have been far stronger and more systematic.  Therefore,
revolution has no real interest in war.  This is the first
consideration. And the second thing is, that while the Russo-Japanese
War weakened Czarism, it strengthened Japanese militarism.  The same
considerations apply in a still higher degree to the present
German-Russian War.

In the course of 1912-1914 Russia’s enormous industrial development once
for all pulled the country out of its state of counter-revolutionary

The growth of the revolutionary movement on the foundation of the
economic and political condition of the laboring masses, the growth of
opposition in broad strata of the population, led to a new period of
storm and stress.  But in contrast to the years 1902-1905, this movement
developed in a far more conscious, systematic manner, and, what is more,
was based on a far broader social foundation.  It needed time to mature,
but it did not need the lances of the Prussian Samurai.  On the
contrary, the Prussian Samurai gave the Czar the opportunity of playing
the rôle of defender of the Serbs, the Belgians and the French.

If we presuppose a catastrophal Russian defeat, the war _may_ bring a
quicker outbreak of the Revolution, but at the cost of its inner
weakness.  And if the Revolution should even gain the upper hand under
such circumstances, then the bayonets of the Hohenzollern armies would
be turned on the Revolution.  Such a prospect can hardly fail to
paralyze Russia’s revolutionary forces; for it is impossible to deny the
fact that the party of the German proletariat stands behind the
Hohenzollern bayonets.  But this is only one side of the question.  The
defeat of Russia necessarily presupposes decisive victories by Germany
and Austria on the other battlefields, and this would mean the enforced
preservation of the national-political chaos in Central and Southeastern
Europe and the unlimited mastery of German militarism in all Europe.

An enforced disarmament for France, billions in indemnities, enforced
tariff walls around the conquered nations, and an enforced commercial
treaty with Russia, all this in conjunction would make German
imperialism master of the situation for many decades.

Germany’s new policy, which began with the capitulation of the party of
the proletariat to nationalistic militarism, would be strengthened for
years to come.  The German working class would feed itself, materially
and spiritually, on the crumbs from the table of victorious imperialism,
while the cause of the Social Revolution would have received a mortal

That in such circumstances a Russian revolution, even if temporarily
successful, would be an historical miscarriage, needs no further proof.

Consequently, this present battling of the nations under the yoke of
militarism laid upon them by the capitalistic classes contains within
itself monstrous contrasts which neither the War itself nor the
governments directing it can solve in any way to the interest of future
historical development.  The Social Democrats could not, and can not
now, combine their aims with any of the historical possibilities of this
War, that is, with either the victory of the Triple Alliance or the
victory of the Entente.

The German Social Democracy was once well aware of this.  The _Vorwärts_
in its issue of July 28, discussing the very question of the war against
Czarism, said:

    "But if it is not possible to localize the trouble, if Russia
    should step into the field? What should our attitude toward
    Czarism be then?  Herein lies the great difficulty of the
    situation.  Has not the moment come to strike a death blow at
    Czarism?  If German troops cross the Russian frontier, will that
    not mean the victory of the Russian Revolution?"

And the _Vorwärts_ comes to the following conclusion:

    "Are we so sure that it _will_ mean victory to the Russian
    Revolution if German troops cross the Russian frontier?  It may
    readily bring the collapse of Czarism, but will not the German
    armies fight a revolutionary Russia with even greater energy,
    with a keener desire for victory, than they do the absolutistic

More than this.  On August 3, on the eve of the historical session of
the Reichstag, the _Vorwärts_ wrote in an article entitled "The War upon

    "While the conservative press is accusing the strongest party in
    the Empire of high treason, to the rejoicing of other countries,
    there are other elements endeavoring to prove to the Social
    Democracy that the impending war is really an old Social
    Democratic demand.  War against Russia, war upon the
    blood-stained and faithless Czarism--this last is a recent
    phrase of the press which once kissed the knout--isn’t this what
    Social Democracy has been asking for from the beginning? ...

    "These are literally the arguments used by one portion of the
    bourgeois press, in fact the more intelligent portion, and it
    only goes to show what importance is attached to the opinion of
    that part of the German people which stands behind the Social
    Democracy. The slogan no longer is ’Russia’s sorrow is Germany’s
    sorrow.’  Now it is ’Down with Czarism!’  But since the days
    when the leaders of the Social Democracy referred to [Bebel,
    Lassalle, Engels, Marx] demanded a democratic war against
    Russia, Russia has quite ceased to be the mere palladium of
    reaction.  Russia is also the seat of revolution. The overthrow
    of Czarism is now the task of all the Russian people, especially
    the Russian proletariat, and it is just the last weeks that have
    shown how vigorously this very working class in Russia is
    attacking the task that history has laid upon it....  And all
    the nationalistic attempts of the ’True Russians’ to turn the
    hatred of the masses away from Czarism and arouse a reactionary
    hatred against foreign countries, particularly Germany, have
    failed so far.  The Russian proletariat knows too well that its
    enemy is not beyond the border but within its own land.  Nothing
    was more distasteful to these nationalistic agitators, the True
    Russians and Pan-Slavists, than the news of the great peace
    demonstration of the German Social Democracy.  Oh, how they
    would have rejoiced had the contrary been the case, had they
    been able to say to the Russian proletariat, ’There, you see,
    the German Social Democrats stand at the head of those who are
    inciting the war against Russia!’  And the Little Father in St.
    Petersburg would also have breathed a sigh of relief and said,
    ’That is the news I wanted to hear.  Now the backbone of my most
    dangerous enemy, the Russian Revolution, is broken.  The
    international solidarity of the proletariat is torn.  Now I can
    unchain the beast of nationalism.  I am saved!"

Thus wrote the _Vorwärts_ after Germany had already declared war on

These words characterize the honest manly stand of the proletariat
against a belligerent jingoism.  The _Vorwärts_ clearly understood and
cleverly stigmatized the base hypocrisy of the knout-loving ruling class
of Germany, which suddenly became conscious of its mission to free
Russia from Czarism.  The _Vorwärts_ warned the German working class of
the political extortion that the bourgeois press would practise on their
revolutionary conscience. "Do not believe these friends of the knout,"
the _Vorwärts_ said to the German proletariat. "They are hungry for your
souls, and hide their imperialistic designs behind liberal-sounding
phrases.  They are deceiving you--you, the cannon-fodder with souls that
they need.  If they succeed in winning you over, they will only be
helping Czarism by dealing the Russian Revolution a fearful moral blow.
And if, in spite of this, the Russian Revolution should raise its head,
these very people will help Czarism to crush it."

That is the sense of what the _Vorwärts_ preached to the working class
up to the 4th of August.

And exactly three weeks later the same _Vorwärts_ wrote:

"Liberation from Muscovitism (?), freedom and independence for Poland
and Finland, free development for the great Russian people themselves,
dissolution of the unnatural alliance between two cultural nations and
Czaristic barbarism--these were the aims that inspired the German people
and made them ready for any sacrifice,"

and inspired also the German Social Democracy and its chief organ.

What happened in those three weeks to cause the _Vorwärts_ to repudiate
its original standpoint?

What happened?  Nothing of importance. The German armies strangled
neutral Belgium, burned down a number of Belgian towns, destroyed
Louvain, the inhabitants of which had been so criminally audacious as to
fire at the armed invaders when they themselves wore no helmets and
waving feathers.³  In those three weeks the German armies carried death
and destruction into French territory, and the troops of their ally,
Austria-Hungary, pounded the love of the Hapsburg Monarchy into the
Serbs on the Save and the Drina. These are the facts that apparently
convinced the _Vorwärts_ that the Hohenzollerns were waging the war of
liberation of the nations.

    ³ "How characteristically Prussian," wrote Marx to Engels, "to
      declare that no man may defend his ’fatherland’ except in

Neutral Belgium was crushed, and the Social Democrats remained silent.
And Richard Fischer was sent to Switzerland as special envoy of the
Party to explain to the people of a neutral country that the violation
of Belgian neutrality and the ruin of a small nation were a perfectly
natural phenomenon.  Why so much excitement?  Any other European
government, in Germany’s place, would have acted in the same way.  It
was just at this time that the German Social Democracy not only
reconciled itself to the War as a work of real or supposed national
defense, but even surrounded the Hohenzollern-Hapsburg armies with the
halo of an offensive campaign for freedom.  What an unprecedented fall
for a party that for fifty years had taught the German working class to
look upon the German Government as the foe of liberty and democracy!

In the meantime every day of the War discloses the danger to Europe that
the Marxists should have foreseen at once.  The chief blows of the
German government were not aimed at the East, but at the West, at
Belgium, France and England.  Even if we accept the improbable premise
that nothing but strategic necessity determined this plan of campaign,
the logical political outcome of this strategy remains with all its
consequences, that is, the necessity for a full and definite defeat of
Belgium, France and the English land forces, so that Germany’s hands
might be free to deal with Russia.  Wasn’t it perfectly clear that what
was at first represented as a temporary measure of strategic necessity
in order to soothe the German Social Democracy, would become an end in
itself through the force of events?  The more stubborn the resistance
made by France, whose duty it has actually become to defend its
territory and its independence against the German attack, the more
certainly will the German armies be held on the Western front; and the
more exhausted Germany is on the Western front, the less strength and
inclination will remain for her supposedly main task, the task with
which the Social Democracy credited her, the "settling with Russia."
And then history will witness an "honorable" peace between the two most
reactionary powers of Europe, between Nicholas, to whom fate granted
cheap victories over the Hapsburg Monarchy,⁴ rotten to its core, and
William, who had his "settling," but with Belgium, not with Russia.

    ⁴ "Russian diplomacy is interested only in such wars," wrote Engels
      in 1890, "as force her allies to bear the chief burden of raising
      troops and suffering invasion, and leave to the Russian troops
      only the work of reserves.  Czarism makes war on its own account
      only on decidedly weaker nations, such as Sweden, Turkey and
      Persia."  Austria-Hungary must now be placed in the same class as
      Turkey and Persia.

The alliance between Hohenzollern and Romanoff--after the exhaustion and
degradation of the Western nations--will mean a period of the darkest
reaction in Europe and the whole world.

The German Social Democracy by its present policy smooths the way for
this awful danger.  And the danger will become an actuality unless the
European proletariat interferes and enters as a revolutionary factor
into the plans of the dynasties and the capitalistic governments.

                               CHAPTER IV

                        THE WAR AGAINST THE WEST

On his return from his diplomatic trip to Italy, Dr. Südekum wrote in
the _Vorwärts_ that the Italian comrades did not sufficiently comprehend
the nature of Czarism.  We agree with Dr. Südekum that a German can more
easily understand the nature of Czarism as he experiences daily, in his
own person, the nature of Prussian-German absolutism.  The two "natures"
are very closely akin to each other.

German absolutism represents a feudal-monarchical organization, resting
upon a mighty capitalist foundation, which the development of the last
half-century has erected for it.  The strength of the German army, as we
have learned to know it anew in its present bloody work, consists not
alone in the great material and technical resources of the nation, and
in the intelligence and precision of the workman-soldier, who had been
drilled in the school of industry and his own class organizations. It
has its foundation also in its Junker officer caste, with its master
class traditions, its oppression of those who are below and its
subordination to those who are above.  The German army, like the German
state, is a feudal-monarchical organization with inexhaustible
capitalistic resources.  The bourgeois scribblers may chatter all they
want about the supremacy of the German, the man of duty, over the
Frenchman, the man of pleasure; the real difference lies not in the
racial qualities, but in the social and political conditions.  The
standing army, that closed corporation, that self-sufficing state within
the state, remains, despite universal military service, a caste
organization that in order to thrive must have artificial distinctions
of rank and a monarchical top to crown the commanding hierarchy.

In his work, "The New Army," Jaurès showed that the only army France
could have is an army of defense built on the plan of arming every
citizen, that is, a democratic army, a _militia_.  The bourgeois French
Republic is now paying the penalty for having made her army a
counterpoise to her democratic state organization.  She created, in
Jaurès’ words, "a bastard régime in which antiquated forms clashed with
newly developing forms and neutralized each other."  This incongruity
between the standing army and the republican régime is the fundamental
weakness of the French military system.

The reverse is true of Germany.  Germany’s barbarian retrograde
political system gives her a great military supremacy.  The German
bourgeoisie may grumble now and then when the pretorian caste spirit of
the officers’ corps leads to outbreaks like that of Zabern.  They may
make wry faces at the Crown Prince and his slogan, "Give it to them!
Give it to them!"  The German Social Democracy may inveigh ever so
sharply against the systematic personal ill-treatment of the German
soldier which has caused proportionately double the number of suicides
in the German barracks of that in any other country.  But for all that,
the fact that the German bourgeoisie has absolutely no political
character and that the German Socialist party has failed to inspire the
proletariat with the revolutionary spirit has enabled the ruling class
to erect the gigantic structure of militarism, and so place the
efficient and intelligent German workmen under the command of the Zabern
heroes and their slogan, "Give it to them!"

Professor Hans Delbrück seeks the source of Germany’s military strength
in the ancient model of the Teutoburgerwald, and he is perfectly

    "The oldest Germanic system of warfare," he writes, "was based
    on the retinue of princes, a body of specially selected
    warriors, and the mass of fighters comprising the entire nation.
    This is the system we have to-day also.  How vastly different
    are the methods of fighting now from those of our ancestors in
    the Teutoburgerwald!  We have the technical marvels of modern
    machine guns.  We have the wonderful organization of immense
    masses of troops.  And yet, our military system is at bottom the
    same.  The martial spirit is raised to its highest power,
    developed to its utmost in a body which once was small but now
    numbers many thousands, a body giving fealty to their War Lord,
    and by him, as by the princes of old, regarded as his comrades;
    and under their leadership the whole people, educated by them
    and disciplined by them.  _Here we have the secret of the
    warlike character of the German nation_."

The French Major, Driant, looks on at the German Kaiser in his White
Cuirassier’s uniform, undoubtedly the most imposing military uniform in
the world, and republican by constraint that he is, his heart is filled
with a lover’s jealousy.  And how the Kaiser spends his time "in the
midst of his army, that true family of the Hohenzollerns!"  The Major is

The feudal caste, whose hour of political and moral decay had struck
long ago, found its connection with the nation once more in the fertile
soil of imperialism.  And this connection with the nation has taken such
deep root that the prophecies of Major Driant, written several years
ago, have actually come true--prophecies that until now could only have
appeared as either the poisonous promptings of a secret Bonapartist, or
the drivellings of a lunatic.

    "The Kaiser," he wrote, "is the Commander in Chief ... and
    behind him stands the entire working class of Germany as one
    man....  Bebel’s Social Democrats are in the ranks, their
    fingers on the trigger, and they too think only of the welfare
    of the Fatherland.  The ten-billion war indemnity that France
    will have to pay will be a greater help to them than the
    Socialist chimeras on which they fed the day before."

Yes, and now they are writing of this future indemnity even in some
_Social Democratic (!)_ papers, with open rowdy insolence--an indemnity,
however, not of ten billions, but of twenty or thirty billions.

Germany’s victory over France--a deplorable strategic necessity,
according to the German Social Democrats--would mean not only the defeat
of France’s standing army; it would mean primarily the victory of the
feudal-monarchical state over the democratic-republican state.

For the ancient race of Hindenburgs, Moltkes and Klucks, hereditary
specialists in mass-murder, are just as indispensable a condition of
German victory as are the 42 centimeter guns, the last word in human
technical skill.

The entire capitalist press is already talking of the unshakable
stability of the German Monarchy, strengthened by the war.  And German
professors, the same who proclaimed Hindenburg a doctor of All the
Sciences, are already declaring that political slavery is a higher form
of social life.

    "The democratic republics, and the so-called monarchies that are
    under subjection to a parliamentary régime, and all the other
    beautiful things that were so extolled--what little capacity
    they have shown to stand the storm!"

These are the things that the German professors are writing now.

It is shameful and humiliating enough to read the expressions of the
French Socialists, who had proved themselves too weak to break the
alliance of France with Russia or even to prevent the return to
three-years’ military service, but who, when the War began, nevertheless
donned their red trousers and set out to free Germany.  But we are
seized with a feeling of unspeakable indignation on reading the German
Socialist party press, which in the language of exalted slaves extols
the brave heroic caste of hereditary oppressors for their armed exploits
on French territory.

On August 15, 1870, when the victorious German armies were approaching
Paris, Engels wrote in a letter to Marx, after describing the confused
condition of the French defense:

    "Nevertheless, a revolutionary government, if it comes soon,
    need not despair.  But it must leave Paris to its fate, and
    continue to carry on the war from the south.  It is then still
    possible that such a government may hold out until arms and
    ammunition are bought and a new army organized with which the
    enemy can be gradually pushed back to the frontier.  That would
    be the right ending to the war--for both countries to
    demonstrate that they cannot be conquered."

And yet there are people who shout like drunken helots, "On to Paris."
And in doing so they have the impudence to invoke the names of Marx and
Engels.  In what measure are they superior to the thrice despised
Russian liberals who crawled on their bellies before his Excellency, the
military Commander, who introduced the Russian knout into East Galicia.
It is cowardly arrogance--this talk of the purely "strategic" character
of the War on the Western front.  Who takes any account of it? Certainly
not the German ruling classes.  They speak the language of conviction
and of main force.  They call things by their right names. They know
what they want and they know how to fight for it.

The Social Democrats tell us that the War is being waged for the cause
of national independence.  "That is not true," retorted Herr Arthur Dix.

    "Just as the high politics of the last century," wrote Dix,
    "owed its specially marked character to the _National Idea_, so
    the political-world events of this century stand under the
    emblem of the _Imperialistic Idea_.  The imperialistic idea that
    is destined to give the impetus, the scope and the goal to the
    striving for power of the great (_Der Weltwirtschaftskrieg_,
    1914, p. 3).

    "It shows gratifying sagacity," says the same Herr Arthur Dix,
    "on the part of those who had charge of the military
    preparations of the War, that the advance of our armies against
    France and Russia in the very first stage of the War took place
    precisely where it was most important to keep valuable German
    mineral wealth free from foreign invasion, and to occupy such
    portions of the enemy’s territory as would supplement our own
    underground resources" (Ibid., p. 38).

The "strategy," of which the Socialists now speak in devout whispers,
really begins its activities with the robbery of mineral wealth.

The Social Democrats tell us that the War is a war of defense.  But Herr
Georg Irmer says clearly and distinctly:

    "People ought not to be talking as though the German nation had
    come too late for rivalry for world economy and world
    dominion,--that the world has already been divided.  Has not the
    earth been divided over and over again in all epochs of
    history?" (_Los vom englischen Weltjoch_, 1914, p. 42.)

The Socialists try to comfort us by telling us that Belgium has only
been temporarily crushed and that the Germans will soon vacate their
Belgian quarters.  But Herr Arthur Dix, who knows very well what he
wants, and who has the right and the power to want it, writes that what
England fears most, and expressly so, is that _Germany should have an
outlet to the Atlantic Ocean_.

"For this very reason," he continues, "we must neither _let Belgium go
out of our hands_, nor must we fail to make sure that the coast line
from Ostende to the Somme shall not again fall into the hands of any
state which may become a political vassal of England.  We must see to it
that in some form or other _German influence_ is securely established

In the endless battles between Ostende and Dunkirk, sacred "strategy" is
now carrying out this programme of the Berlin stock exchange, also.

The Socialists tell us that the War between France and Germany is merely
a brief prelude to a lasting alliance between those countries. But here,
too, Herr Arthur Dix shows Germany’s cards.  According to him, "there is
but one answer: _to seek to destroy the English world trade, and to deal
deadly blows at English national economy_."

"The aim for the foreign policy of the German Empire for the next
decades is clearly indicated," Professor Franz von Liszt announces.
"’Protection against England,’ that must be our slogan" (_Ein
mitteleuropäischer Staatenverband_, 1914, p.  24).

    "We must crush the most treacherous and malicious of our foes,"
    cries a third.  "We must break the tyranny which England
    exercises over the sea with base self-seeking and shameless
    contempt of justice and right."

The War is directed not against Czarism, but primarily against England’s
supremacy on the sea.

    "It may be said," Professor Schiehmann confesses, "that no
    success of ours has given us such joy as the defeat of the
    English at Maubeuge and St. Quentin on August 28."

The German Social Democrats tell us that the chief object of the War is
the "settlement with Russia."  But plain, straightforward Herr Rudolf
Theuden wants to give Galicia to Russia with North Persia thrown in.
Then Russia "would have got enough to be satisfied for many decades to
come.  We may even make her our friend by it."

"What ought the War to bring us?" asks Theuden, and then he answers:

    "_The chief payment must be made us by France_....  France must
    give us Belfort, that part of Lorraine which borders on the
    Moselle, and, in case of stubborn resistance, that part as well
    which borders on the Maas. If we make the Maas and the Moselle
    German boundaries, the French will some day perhaps wean
    themselves away from the idea of making the Rhine a French

The bourgeois politicians and professors tell us that England is the
chief enemy; that Belgium and France are the gateway to the Atlantic
Ocean; that the hope of a Russian indemnity is only a Utopian dream,
anyway; that Russia would be more useful as friend than as foe; that
France will have to pay in land and in gold--and the _Vorwärts_ exhorts
the German workers to "hold out until the decisive victory is ours."

And yet the _Vorwärts_ tells us that the War is being waged for the
independence of the German nation, and for the liberation of the Russian
people.  What does this mean?  Of course we must not look for ideas,
logic and truth where they do not exist.  This is simply a case of an
ulcer of slavish sentiments bursting open and foul pus crawling over the
pages of the workingmen’s press.  It is clear that the oppressed class
which proceeds too slowly and inertly on its way toward freedom must in
the final hour drag all its hopes and promises through mire and blood,
before there arises in its soul the pure, unimpeachable voice--the voice
of revolutionary honor.

                               CHAPTER V

                           THE WAR OF DEFENSE

    "The thing for us to do now is to avert this danger [Russian
    despotism], and to secure the culture and the independence of
    our land.  Thus we will make good our word, and do what we have
    always said we would. In the hour of danger we will not leave
    our Fatherland in the lurch....  Guided by these principles we
    vote for the war credits."

This was the declaration of the German Social Democratic fraction, read
by Haase in the Reichstag session of August 4.

Here only the defense of the fatherland is mentioned.  Not a word is
said of the "liberating" mission of this War in behalf of the peoples of
Russia, which was later sung in every key by the Social Democratic
press.  The logic of the Socialist press, however, did not keep pace
with its patriotism.  For while it made desperate efforts to represent
the War as one of pure defense, to secure the safety of Germany’s
possessions, it at the same time pictured it as a revolutionary
offensive war for the liberation of Russia and of Europe from Czarism.

We have already shown clearly enough why the peoples of Russia had every
reason to decline with thanks the assistance offered them at the point
of the Hohenzollern bayonets. But how about the "defensive" character of
the War?

What surprises us even more than what is said in the declaration of the
Social Democracy is what it conceals and leaves unsaid.  After Hollweg
had already announced in the Reichstag the accomplished violation of the
neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg as a means of attacking France,
Haase does not mention this fact in a single word.  This silence is so
monstrous that one is tempted to read the declaration a second and a
third time.  But in vain. The declaration is written as though such
countries as Belgium, France and England had never existed on the
political map of the German Social Democracy.

But facts do not cease to be facts simply because political parties shut
their eyes to them. And every member of the International has the right
to ask this question of Comrade Haase, "What portion of the five
billions voted by the Social Democratic fraction was meant for the
destruction of Belgium?"  It is quite possible that in order to protect
the German fatherland from Russian despotism it was inevitable that the
Belgian fatherland should be crushed. But why did the Social Democratic
fraction keep silent on this point?

The reason is clear.  The English Liberal government, in its effort to
make the War popular with the masses, made its plea exclusively on the
ground of the necessity of protecting the independence of Belgium and
the integrity of France, but utterly ignored its alliance with Russian
Czarism.  In like manner, and from the same motives, the German Social
Democracy speaks to the masses only about the war against Czarism, but
does not mention even by name Belgium, France and England. All this is
of course not exactly flattering to the international reputation of
Czarism.  Yet it is quite distressing that the German Social Democracy
should sacrifice its own good name to the call to arms against Czarism.
Lassalle said that every great political action should begin with a
statement of things as they are.  Then why does the defense of the
Fatherland begin with an abashed silence as to things as they are?  Or
did the German Social Democracy perhaps think that this was not a "big
political action"?

Anyway, the defense of the Fatherland is a very broad and very elastic
conception.  The world catastrophe began with Austria’s ultimatum to
Serbia.  Austria, naturally, was guided solely by the need of defending
her borders from her uneasy neighbor.  Austria’s prop was Germany.  And
Germany, in turn, as we already know, was prompted by the need to secure
her own state.  "It would be senseless to believe," writes Ludwig
Quessel on this point, "that one wall could be torn away from this
extremely complex structure (Europe) without endangering the security of
the whole edifice."

Germany opened her "Defensive War" with an attack upon Belgium, the
violation of Belgium’s neutrality being allegedly only a means of
breaking through to France along the line of least resistance.  The
military defeat of France also was to appear only as a strategic episode
in the defense of the Fatherland.

To some German patriots this construction of things did not seem quite
plausible, and they had good grounds for disbelieving it. They suspected
a motive which squared far better with the reality.  Russia, entering
upon a new era of military preparation, would be a far greater menace to
Germany in two or three years than she was then.  And France during that
time would have completely carried out her three-year army reform.  Is
it not clear, then, that an intelligent self-defense demanded that
Germany should not wait for the attack of her enemies but should
anticipate them by two years and take the offensive at once?  And isn’t
it clear, too, that such an offensive war, deliberately provoked by
Germany and Austria, is in reality a preventive war of defense?

Not infrequently these two points of view are combined in a single
argument.  Granted that there is some slight contradiction between them.
The one declares that Germany did not want the War now and that it was
forced upon her by the Triple Entente, while the other implies that war
was disadvantageous to the Entente now and that for that very reason
Germany had taken the initiative to bring on the War at this time.  But
what if there is this contradiction?  It is lightly and easily glossed
over and reconciled in the saving concept of a war of defense.

But the belligerents on the other side disputed this advantageous
position of being on the defensive, which Germany sought to assume, and
did it successfully.  France could not permit the defeat of Russia on
the ground of her own self-defense.  England gave as the motive for her
interference the immediate danger to the British Islands which a
strengthening of Germany’s position at the mouth of the Channel would
mean.  Finally, Russia, too, spoke only of self-defense.  It is true
that no one threatened Russian territory.  But national possessions,
mark you, do not consist merely in territory, but in other, intangible,
factors as well, among them, the influence over weaker states.  Servia
"belongs" in the sphere of Russian influence and serves the purpose of
maintaining the so-called balance of power in the Balkans, not only the
balance of power between the Balkan States but also between Russian and
Austrian influence.  A successful Austrian attack on Servia threatened
to disturb this balance of power in Austria’s favor, and therefore meant
an indirect attack upon Russia.  Sasonov undoubtedly found his strongest
argument in Quessel’s words: "It would be senseless to believe that one
wall could be torn away from the extremely complex structure (Europe)
without endangering the security of the entire edifice."

It is superfluous to add that Servia and Montenegro, Belgium and
Luxemburg, could also produce some proofs of the defensive character of
their policies.  Thus, all the countries were on the defensive, none was
the aggressor. But if that is so, then what sense is there in opposing
the claims of defensive and offensive war to each other?  The standards
applied in such cases differ greatly, and are not frequently quite

What is of fundamental importance to us Socialists is the question of
the _historical_ rôle of the War.  Is the War calculated to effectively
promote the productive forces and the state organizations, and to
accelerate the concentration of the working class forces?  Or is the
reverse true, will it hinder in this?  This materialistic evaluation of
wars stands above all formal or external considerations, and in its
nature has no relation to the question of defense or aggression.  And
yet sometimes these formal expressions about a war designate with more
or less truth the actual significance of the war.  When Engels said that
the Germans were on the defensive in 1870, he had least of all the
immediate political and diplomatic circumstances in mind.  The
determining fact for him was that in that war Germany was fighting for
her right to national unity, which was a necessary condition for the
economic development of the country and the Socialist consolidation of
the proletariat.  In the same sense the Christian peoples of the Balkans
waged a war of defense against Turkey, fighting for their right to
independent national development against the foreign rule.

The question of the immediate international political conditions leading
to a war is independent of the value the war possesses from the
_historico-materialistic_ point of view.  The German war against the
Bonapartist Monarchy was historically unavoidable.  In that war the
right of development was on the German side. Yet those historical
tendencies did not, in themselves, predetermine the question as to which
party was interested in provoking the war just in the year 1870.  We
know now very well that international politics and military
considerations induced Bismarck to take the actual initiative in the
war.  It might have happened just the other way, however.  With greater
foresight and energy, the government of Napoleon III could have
anticipated Bismarck, and begun the war a few years earlier.  That would
have radically changed the immediate political aspect of events, but it
would have made no difference in the historic estimate of the war.

Third in order is the factor of diplomacy. Diplomacy here has a two-fold
task to perform. First, it must bring about war at the moment most
favorable for its own country from the international as well as the
military standpoint. Second, it must employ methods which throw the
burden of responsibility for the bloody conflict, in public opinion, on
the enemy government.  The exposure of diplomatic trickery, cheating and
knavery is one of the most important functions of Socialist political
agitation.  But no matter to what extent we succeed in this at the
crucial juncture, it is clear that the net of diplomatic intrigues in
themselves signifies nothing either as regards the historic rôle of the
war or its real initiators. Bismarck’s clever manoeuvres forced Napoleon
III to declare war on Prussia, although the actual initiative came from
the German side.

Next follows the purely military aspect.  The _strategic_ plan of
operations can be calculated chiefly for defense or attack, regardless
of which side declared the war and under what conditions.  Finally, the
first tactics followed in the carrying out of the strategic plan not
infrequently plays a great part in estimating the war as a war of
defense or of aggression.

    "It is a good thing," wrote Engels to Marx on July 31, 1870,
    "that the French attacked first on German soil.  If the Germans
    repel the invasion and follow it up by invading French
    territory, then it will certainly not produce the same
    impression as if the Germans had marched into France without a
    previous invasion.  In this way the war remains, on the French
    side, more Bonapartistic."

Thus we see by the classic example of the Franco-Prussian War that the
standards for judging whether a war is defensive or aggressive are full
of contradictions when two nations clash.  Then how much more so are
they when it is a clash of several nations.  If we unroll the tangle
from the beginning, we arrive at the following connection between the
elements of attack and defense.  The first _tactical_ move of the French
should--at least in Engels’ opinion--make the people feel that the
responsibility of attack rested with the French. And yet the entire
_strategic_ plan of the Germans had an absolutely aggressive character.
The _diplomatic_ moves of Bismarck forced Bonaparte to declare war
against his will and thus appear as the disturber of the peace of
Europe, while the military-political initiative in the war came from the
Prussian government.  These circumstances are by no means of slight
importance for the _historical_ estimate of the war, but they are not at
all exhaustive.

One of the causes of this war was the growing ambition of the Germans
for national self-determination, which conflicted with the dynastic
pretensions of the French Monarchy.  But this national "war of defense"
led to the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine and so in its second stage
turned into a dynastic war of conquest.

The correspondence between Marx and Engels shows that they were guided
chiefly by historical considerations in their attitude towards the War
of 1870.  To them, of course, it was by no means a matter of
indifference as to who conducted the war and how it was conducted.  "Who
would have thought it possible," Marx writes bitterly, "that twenty-two
years after 1848 a nationalist war in Germany could have been given such
theoretical expression."  Yet what was of decisive significance to Marx
and Engels was the objective consequences of the war.  "If the Prussians
triumph, it will mean the centralization of the state power--useful to
the centralization of the German working-class."

Liebknecht and Bebel, starting with the same historical estimate of the
war, were directly forced to take a political position toward it.  It
was by no means in opposition to the views of Marx and Engels, but, on
the contrary, with their perfect acquiescence that Liebknecht and Bebel
refused, in the Reichstag, to take any responsibility for this War.  The
statement they handed in read:

    "We cannot grant the war appropriations that the Reichstag is
    asked to make because that would be a vote of confidence in the
    Prussian government....  As opponents on principle of every
    dynastic war, as Social Republicians and members of the
    International Labor Association, which, without distinction of
    nationality, fights all oppressors and endeavors to unite all
    the oppressed in one great brotherhood, we cannot declare
    ourselves either directly or indirectly in favor of the present

Schweitzer acted differently.  He took the historical estimate of the
war as a direct guide for his tactics--one of the most dangerous of
fallacies!--and in voting the war credits gave a vote of confidence to
the policy of Bismarck. And this in spite of the fact that it was
necessary, if the centralization of state power arising out of the War
was to turn out of use to the Social Democratic cause, that the
working-class should from the very beginning oppose the dynastic-Junker
centralization with their own class-centralization filled with
revolutionary distrust of the rulers.

Schweitzer’s political attitude invalidated the very consequences of the
War that had induced him to give a vote of confidence to the makers of
the War.

Forty years later, drawing up the balance sheet of his life-work, Bebel

    "The attitude that Liebknecht and I took at the outbreak and
    during the continuance of the war has for years been a subject
    of discussion and violent attack, at first even in the Party;
    but only for a short time. Then they acknowledged that we had
    been right.  I confess that I do not in any way regret our
    attitude, and if at the outbreak of the War we had known what we
    learned within the next few years from the official and
    unofficial disclosures, our attitude from the very start would
    have been still harsher. We would not merely have abstained, as
    we did, from voting the first war credits, we would have voted
    _against_ them."  (_Autobiography_, Part II, p. 167.)

If we compare the Liebknecht-Bebel statement of 1870 with Haase’s
declaration in 1914, we must conclude that Bebel was mistaken when he
said, "Then they acknowledged that we had been right."  For the vote of
August 4 was eminently a condemnation of Bebel’s policy forty-four years
earlier, since in Haase’s phraseology, Bebel had then left the
Fatherland in the lurch in the hour of danger.

What political causes and considerations have led the party of the
German proletariat to abandon its glorious traditions?  Not a single
weighty reason has been given so far.  All the arguments adduced are
full of contradictions. They are like diplomatic communiqués which are
written to justify an already accomplished act.  The leader writer of
_Die Neue Zeit_ writes--with the blessing of Comrade Kautsky--that
Germany’s position towards Czarism is the same as it was towards
Bonapartism in 1870!  He even quotes from a letter of Engels: "All
classes of the German people realized that it was a question, first of
all, of national existence, and so they fell in line at once."  For the
same reason, we are told, the German Social Democracy has fallen into
line now.  It is a question of national existence. "Substitute Czarism
for Bonapartism, and Engels’ words are true to-day."  And yet the fact
remains, in all its force, that Bebel and Liebknecht demonstratively
refused to vote either money or confidence to the government in 1870.
Does it not hold just as well, then, if we "substitute Czarism for
Bonapartism"? To this question no answer has been vouchsafed.

But what did Engels really write in his letter concerning the tactics of
the labor party?

"It does not seem possible to me that under such circumstances a German
political party can preach _total obstruction_, and place all sorts of
minor considerations above the main issue."  _Total obstruction!_--But
there is a wide gap between total obstruction and the total capitulation
of a political party.  And it was this gap that divided the positions
between Bebel and Schweitzer in 1870.  Marx and Engels were with Bebel
against Schweitzer.  Comrade Kautsky might have informed his leader
writer, Hermann Wendel, of this fact.  And it is nothing but defamation
of the dead for _Simplicissimus_ now to reconcile the shades of Bebel
and Bismarck in Heaven.  If _Simplicissimus_ and Wendel have the right
to awaken anybody from his sleep in the grave for the endorsement of the
present tactics of the German Social Democracy, then it is not Bebel,
but Schweitzer.  It is the shade of Schweitzer that now oppresses the
political party of the German proletariat.

But the very analogy between the Franco-Prussian War and the present War
is superficial and misleading in the extreme.  Let us set aside all the
international relations.  Let us forget that the War meant first of all
the destruction of Belgium, and that Germany’s main force was hurled not
against Czarism but republican France.  Let us forget that the starting
point of the War was the crushing of Servia, and that one of its aims
was the strengthening and consolidation of the arch-reactionary state,
Austria-Hungary.  We will not dwell on the fact that the attitude of the
German Social Democracy dealt a hard blow at the Russian Revolution,
which in the two years before the War had again flared up in such a
tempest.  We will close our eyes to all these facts, just as the German
Social Democracy did on August 4th, when it did not see that there was a
Belgium in the world, a France, England, Servia, or Austria-Hungary.  We
will grant only the existence of Germany.

In 1870 it was quite easy to estimate the historical significance of the
war.  "If the Prussians win, the centralization of state power will
further the centralization of the German working class."  And now?  What
would be the result for the German working class of a Prussian victory

The only territorial expansion which the German working class could
welcome, because it would complete the national unity, is a union of
German Austria with Germany.  Any other expansion of the German
fatherland means another step towards the transformation of Germany from
a national state to a state of nationalities, and the consequent
introduction of all those conditions which render more difficult the
class struggle of the proletariat.

Ludwig Frank hoped--and he expressed this hope in the language of a
belated Lassallian--that later, after a victorious war, he would devote
himself to the work of the "internal building up" of the state.  There
is no doubt that Germany will need this "internal building up" after a
victory no less than before the War.  But will a victory make this work
easier?  There is nothing in Germany’s historical experiences any more
than in those of any other country to justify such a hope.

    "We regarded the doings of the rulers of Germany [after the
    victories of 1870] as a matter of course," says Bebel in his
    _Autobiography_.  "It was merely an illusion of the Party
    Executive to believe that a more liberal spirit would prevail in
    the new order. And this more liberal régime was to be granted by
    the same man who had till then shown himself the greatest enemy,
    I will not say of democratic development, but even of every
    liberal tendency, and who now as victor planted the heel of his
    Cuirassier boot on the neck of the new Empire."  (Vol. II, p.

There is absolutely no reason to expect different results now from a
victory from above. On the contrary.  In 1870 Prussian Junkerdom had
first to adapt itself to the new imperial order.  It could not feel
secure in the saddle all at once.  It was eight years after the victory
over France that the anti-Socialist laws were passed.  In forty-four
years Prussian Junkerdom has become the imperial Junkerdom.  And if,
after half a century of the most intense class struggle, Junkerdom
should appear at the head of the victorious nation, then we need not
doubt that it would not have felt the need of Ludwig Frank’s services
for the internal building up of the state had he returned safe from the
fields of German victories.

But far more important than the strengthening of the class position of
the rulers is the influence a German victory would have upon the
proletariat itself.  The war grew out of imperialistic antagonisms
between the capitalist states, and the victory of Germany, as stated
above, can produce only one result--territorial acquisitions at the
expense of Belgium, France and Russia, commercial treaties forced upon
her enemies, and new colonies.  The class struggle of the proletariat
would then be placed upon the basis of the imperialistic hegemony of
Germany, the working class would be interested in the maintenance and
development of this hegemony, and revolutionary Socialism would for a
long time be condemned to the rôle of a propagandist sect.

Marx was right when in 1870 he foresaw, as a result of the German
victories, a rapid development for the German labor movement under the
banner of scientific Socialism.  But now the international conditions
point to the very opposite prognosis.  Germany’s victory would mean the
taking of the edge off the revolutionary movement, its theoretic
shallowing, and the dying out of the Marxist ideas.

                               CHAPTER VI


But the German Social Democracy, we shall be told, does not want
victory.  Our answer must be in the first place that this is not true.
What the German Social Democracy wants is told by its press.  With two
or three exceptions Socialist papers daily point out to the German
workingman that a victory of the German arms is _his_ victory.  The
capture of Maubeuge, the sinking of three English warships, or the fall
of Antwerp aroused in the Social Democratic press the same feelings that
otherwise are excited by the gain of a new election district or a
victory in a wage dispute.  We must not lose sight of the fact that the
German labor press, the Party press as well as the trade union papers,
is now a powerful mechanism that in place of the education of the
people’s will for the class struggle has substituted the education of
the people’s will for military victories.  I have not in mind the ugly
chauvinistic excesses of individual organs, but the underlying sentiment
of the overwhelming majority of the Social Democratic papers.  The
signal for this attitude seems to have been given by the vote of the
fraction on August 4th.

But the fraction wasn’t thinking of a German victory.  It made it its
task only to avert the danger threatening from the outside, to defend
the Fatherland.  That was all.

And here we come back to the question of wars of defense and wars of
aggression.  The German press, including the Social Democratic organs,
does not cease to repeat that it is Germany of all countries that finds
itself on the defensive in this War.  We have already discussed the
standards for determining the difference between a war of aggression and
a war of defense.  These standards are numerous and contradictory.  Yet
in the present case they testify unanimously that Germany’s military
acts cannot possibly be construed as the acts of a war of defense.  But
this has absolutely no influence upon the tactics of the Social

From a _historical_ standpoint the new German imperialism is, as we
already know, absolutely aggressive.  Urged onward by the feverish
development of the national industry, German imperialism disturbs the
old balance of power between the states and plays the first violin in
the race for armaments.

And from the _standpoint of world politics_ the present moment seemed to
be most favorable for Germany to deal her rivals a crushing blow--which
however does not lessen the guilt of Germany’s enemies by one iota.

The _diplomatic_ view of events leaves no doubt concerning the leading
part that Germany played in Austria’s provocative action in Servia.  The
fact that Czarist diplomacy was, as usual, still more disgraceful, does
not alter the case.

From the standpoint of _strategy_ the entire German campaign was based
on a monstrous offensive.

And finally from the standpoint of _tactics_, the first move of the
German army was the violation of Belgian neutrality.

If all this is defense, then what is attack? But even if we assume that
events as pictured in the language of diplomacy admit of other
interpretations--although the first two pages of the White Book are very
clear as to this meaning--has the revolutionary party of the working
class no other standards for determining its policy than the documents
presented by a government that has the greatest interest in deceiving

    "Bismarck duped the whole world," says Bebel, "and knew how to
    make people believe that it was Napoleon who provoked the war,
    while he himself, the peace-loving Bismarck, found himself and
    his policy in the position of being attacked.

    "The events preceding the war were so misleading that France’s
    complete unpreparedness for the war that she herself declared
    was generally overlooked, while in Germany, which appeared to be
    the one attacked, preparations for war had been completed down
    to the very last wagon-nail, and mobilization moved with the
    precision of clockwork."  (_Autobiography_, Vol. III, pages

After such an historical precedent one might expect more critical
caution from the Social Democracy.

It is quite true that Bebel more than once repeated his assertion that
in case of an attack on Germany the Social Democracy would defend its
Fatherland.  At the convention held at Essen, Kautsky answered him:

    "In my opinion we cannot promise positively to share the
    government’s war enthusiasm every time we are convinced that the
    country is threatened by attack.  Bebel thinks we are much
    further advanced than we were in 1870 and that we are now able
    to decide in every instance whether the war which threatens is
    really one of aggression or not.  I should not like to take this
    responsibility upon myself.  I should not like to undertake to
    guarantee that we could make a correct decision in every
    instance, that we shall always know whether a government is
    deceiving us, or whether it is not actually representing the
    interests of the nation against a war of attack....  Yesterday
    it was the German government that took the aggressive, to-morrow
    it will be the French government, and we cannot know if the day
    after it may not be the English government. The governments are
    constantly taking turns.  As a matter of fact what we are
    concerned with in case of war is not a national, but an
    international question.  For a war between great powers will
    become a world war and will affect the whole of Europe, not two
    countries alone.  Some day the German government might make the
    German proletariat believe they were being attacked; the French
    government might do the same with its subjects, and then we
    should have a war in which the French and German working men
    would follow their respective governments with equal enthusiasm,
    and murder each other and cut each other’s throats. Such a
    contingency must be avoided, and it will be avoided if we do not
    adopt the criterion of the aggressive or defensive war, but that
    of the interests of the proletariat, which at the same time are
    international interests....  Fortunately, it is a misconception
    to assume that the German Social Democracy in case of war wanted
    to judge by national and not by international considerations,
    and felt itself to be first a German and then a proletariat

With splendid clearness Kautsky in this speech reveals the terrible
dangers--now a still more terrible actuality--that are latent in the
endeavor to make the position of the Social Democracy dependent upon an
indefinite and contradictory formal estimate of whether a war is one of
defense or one of aggression.  Bebel in his reply said nothing of
importance; and his point of view seemed quite inexplicable, especially
after his own experiences of the year 1870.

Nevertheless, in spite of its theoretical inadequacy, Bebel’s position
had a quite definite political meaning.  Those imperialistic tendencies
which the danger of war begat excluded the possibility for the Social
Democracy’s expecting salvation from the victory of either of the
warring parties.  For that very reason its entire attention was directed
to the preventing of war, and the principal task was to keep the
governments worried about the results of a war.

"The Social Democracy," said Bebel, "will oppose any government which
takes the initiative in war."  He meant this as a threat to William
II.’s government.  "Don’t reckon upon us if some day you decide to
utilize your cannon and your battleships."  Then he turned to Petrograd
and London: "They had better take care not to attack Germany in a
miscalculation of weakness from within on account of the obstructionist
policies of the powerful German Social Democracy."

Without being a political doctrine, Bebel’s conception was a political
threat, and a threat directed simultaneously at two fronts, the internal
front and the foreign front.  His one obstinate answer to all historical
and logical objections was: "We’ll find the way to expose any government
that takes the first step towards war.  We are clever enough for that."

This threatening attitude of not only the German Social Democracy but
also of the International Party was not without results. The various
governments actually did make every effort to postpone the outbreak of
the War.  But that is not all.  The rulers and the diplomats were doubly
attentive now to adapting their moves to the pacifist psychology of the
masses.  They whispered with the Socialist leaders, nosed about in the
office of the International, and so created a sentiment which made it
possible for Jaurès and Haase to declare at Brussels, a few days before
the outbreak of the War, that their particular governments had no other
object than the preservation of peace.  And when the storm broke loose,
the Social Democracy of every country looked for the guilty party--on
the other side of the border.  Bebel’s utterance, which had played a
definite part as a threat, lost all meaning the instant the first shots
were fired at the frontiers.  That terrible thing took place which
Kautsky had prophesied.

What at first glance appears the most surprising thing about it all is,
that the Social Democracy had not really felt the need for a political
criterion.  In the catastrophe that has occurred to the International
the arguments have been notable for their superficiality.  They
contradicted each other, shifted ground, and were of only secondary
significance--the gist of the matter being that the _fatherland must be
defended_.  Apart from considerations of the historical outcome of the
War, apart from considerations of democracy and the class struggle, the
fatherland that has come down to us historically must be defended.  And
defended not because our government wanted peace and was "perfidiously
attacked," as the international penny-a-liners put it, but because apart
from the conditions or the ways in which it was provoked, apart from who
was right and who was wrong, war, once it breaks out, subjects every
belligerent to the danger of invasion and conquest.  Theoretical,
political, diplomatic and military considerations fall into ruins as in
an earthquake, a conflagration or a flood.  The government with its army
is elevated to the position of the one power that can protect and save
its people.  The large masses of the people in actuality return to a
pre-political condition.  This feeling of the masses, this elemental
reflex of the catastrophe, need not be criticized in so far as it is
only a temporary feeling.  But it is quite a different matter in the
case of the attitude of the Social Democracy, the responsible political
representative of the masses. The political organizations of the
possessing classes and especially the power of the government itself did
not simply float with the stream. They instantly set to work most
intensively and in very varied ways to heighten this unpolitical
sentiment and to unite the masses around the army and the government.
The Social Democracy not only did not become equally active in the
opposite direction, but from the very first moment surrendered to the
policy of the government and to the elemental feeling of the masses.
And instead of arming these masses with the weapons of criticism and
distrust, if only passive criticism and distrust, it itself by its whole
attitude hastened the people along the road to this pre-political
condition.  It renounced its traditions and political pledges of fifty
years with a conspicuous readiness that was least of all calculated to
inspire the rulers with respect.

Bethmann-Hollweg announced that the German government was in absolute
agreement with the German people, and after the avowal of the
_Vorwärts_, in view of the position taken by the Social Democracy, he
had a perfect right to say so.  But he had still another right.  If
conditions had not induced him to postpone political polemics to a more
favorable moment, he might have said at the Reichstag session of August
4th, addressing the representatives of the Socialist proletariat:
"To-day you agree with us in recognizing the danger threatening our
Fatherland, and you join us in trying to avert the danger by arms.  But
this danger has not grown up since yesterday. You must previously have
known of the existence and the tendencies of Czarism, and you knew that
we had other enemies besides.  So by what right did you attack us when
we built up our army and our navy?  By what right did you refuse to vote
for military appropriations year after year?  Was it by the right of
treason or the right of blindness?  If in spite of you we had not built
up our army, we should now be helpless in the face of this Russian
menace that has brought you to your senses, too.  No appropriations
granted now could enable us to make up for what we would have lost.  We
should now be without arms, without cannons, without fortifications.
Your voting to-day in favor of the war credit of five billion is an
admission that your annual refusal of the budget was only an empty
demonstration, and, worse than that, was political demagogy.  For as
soon as you came up for a serious historical examination, you denied
your entire past!"

That is what the German Chancellor could have said, and this time his
speech would have carried conviction.  And what could Haase have

"We never took a stand for Germany’s disarmament in the face of dangers
from without. Such peace rubbish was never in our thoughts. As long as
international contradictions create out of themselves the danger of war,
we want Germany to be safe against foreign invasion and servitude.  What
we are trying for is a military organization which cannot--as can an
artificially trained organization--be made to serve for class
exploitation at home and for imperialistic adventures abroad, but will
be invincible in national defense.  We want a militia. We cannot trust
you with the work of national defense.  You have made the army a school
of reactionary training.  You have drilled your corps of officers in the
hatred of the most important class of modern society, the proletariat.
You are capable of risking millions of lives, not for the real interests
of the people, but for the selfish interests of the ruling minority,
which you veil with the names of national ideals and state prestige.  We
do not trust you, and that is why we have declared year after year, ’Not
a single man or a single penny for this class government!’’

"But five billions!" voices from both the right and the left might

"Unfortunately we are now left no choice. We have no army except the one
created by the present masters of Germany, and the enemy stands without
our gates.  We cannot on the instant replace William II.’s army by a
people’s militia, and once this is so, we cannot refuse food, clothing
and materials of war to the army that is defending us, no matter how it
may be constituted.  We are neither repudiating our past nor renouncing
our future.  We are forced to vote for the war credits."

That would have been about the most convincing thing that Haase could
have said.

Yet, even though such considerations might give an explanation of why
the Socialist workers as _citizens_ did not obstruct the military
organization, but simply fulfilled the duty of citizenship forced upon
them by circumstances, we should still be waiting in vain for an answer
to the principal question: Why did the Social Democracy, as the
political organization of a class that has been denied a share in the
government, as the implacable enemy of bourgeois society, as the
republican party, as a branch of the International--why did it take upon
itself the responsibility for acts undertaken by its irreconcilable
class enemies?

If it is impossible for us immediately to replace the Hohenzollern army
with a militia, that does not mean that we must now take upon ourselves
the responsibility for the doings of that army.  If in times of peaceful
normal state-housekeeping we wage war against the monarchy, the
bourgeoisie and militarism, and are under obligations to the masses to
carry on that war with the whole weight of our authority, then we commit
the greatest crime against our future when we put this authority at the
disposal of the monarchy, the bourgeoisie and militarism at the very
moment when these break out into the terrible, anti-social and barbaric
methods of war.

Neither the nation nor the state can escape the obligation of defense.
But when we refuse the rulers our confidence we by no means rob the
bourgeois state of its weapons or its means of defense and even of
attack--as long as we are not strong enough to wrest its power from its
hands.  In war as in peace, we are a party of opposition, not a party of
power.  In that way we can also most surely serve that part of our task
which war outlines so sharply, the work of national independence.  The
Social Democracy cannot let the fate of any nation, whether its own or
another nation, depend upon military successes.  In throwing upon the
capitalist state the responsibility for the method by which it protects
its independence, that is, the violation of the independence of other
states, the Social Democracy lays the cornerstone of true national
independence in the consciousness of the masses of all nations.  By
preserving and developing the international solidarity of the workers,
we secure the independence of the nation--and make it independent of the
calibre of cannons.

If Czarism is a danger to Germany’s independence, there is only one way
that promises success in warding off this danger, and that way lies with
us--the solidarity of the working masses of Germany and Russia.  But
such solidarity would undermine the policy that William II. explained in
saying that the entire German people stood behind him.  What should we
Russian Socialists say to the Russian workingmen in face of the fact
that the bullets the German workers are shooting at them bear the
political and moral seal of the German Social Democracy?  "We cannot
make our policy for Russia, we make it for Germany," was the answer
given me by one of the most respected functionaries of the German party
when I put this question to him.  And at that moment I felt with
particularly painful clearness what a blow had been struck at the
International from within.

The situation, it is plain, is not improved if the Socialist parties of
_both_ warring countries throw in their fate with the fate of their
governments, as in Germany and France.  No outside power, no
confiscation or destruction of Socialist property, no arrests and
imprisonments could have dealt such a blow to the International as it
struck itself with its own hands in surrendering to the Moloch of state
just when he began to talk in terms of blood and iron.


In his speech at the convention at Essen Kautsky drew a terrifying
picture of brother rising against brother in the name of a "war of
defense"--as an argument, by no means as an actual possibility.  Now
that this picture has become a bloody actuality, Kautsky endeavors to
reconcile us to it.  He beholds no collapse of the International.

    "The difference between the German and the French Socialists is
    not to be found in their standards of judgment, nor in their
    fundamental point of view, but merely in the difference of their
    interpretation of the present situation, which, in its turn, is
    conditioned by the _difference in their geographical position_
    [!].  Therefore, this difference can scarcely be overcome while
    the war lasts. Nevertheless it is not a difference of principle,
    but one arising out of a particular situation, and so it need
    not last after that situation has ceased to exist."  (_Neue
    Zeit_, 337, p. 3.)

When Guèsde and Sembat appear as aides to Poincaré, Delcassé and Briand,
and as opponents to Bethmann-Hollweg; when the French and German
workingmen cut each other’s throats and are not doing so as enforced
citizens of the bourgeois republic and the Hohenzollern Monarchy, but as
Socialists performing their duty under the spiritual leadership of their
parties, this is not a collapse of the International.  The "standard of
judgment" is one and the same for the German Socialist cutting a
Frenchman’s throat as for the French Socialist cutting a German’s
throat. If Ludwig Frank takes up his gun, not to proclaim the
"difference of principle" to the French Socialists, but to shoot them in
all agreement of principle; and if Ludwig Frank should himself fall by a
French bullet--fired possibly by a comrade--that is no detriment to
"standards" they have in common.  It is merely a consequence of the
"difference in their geographical position."  Truly, it is bitter to
read such lines, but doubly bitter when they come from Kautsky’s pen.

The International was opposed to the war.

    "If, in spite of the efforts of the Social Democracy, we should
    have war," says Kautsky, "then every nation must save its skin
    as best it can.  This means for the Social Democracy of every
    country the same right and the same duty to participate in its
    country’s defense, and none of them may make of this a cause for
    casting reproaches [!] at each other."  (_Neue Zeit_, 337, p.

Of such sort is this common standard to save one’s own skin, to break
one another’s skulls in self-defense, and not to "reproach" one another
for doing so.

But will the question be answered by the _agreement_ in the standard of
judgment?  Will it not rather be answered by the _quality_ of this
common standard of judgment?  Among Bethmann-Hollweg, Sasonov, Grey and
Delcassé you also find agreement in their standards.  Nor is there any
difference of principle between them either.  They least of all have any
right to cast reproaches at each other. Their conduct simply springs
from "a difference in their geographical position."  Had
Bethmann-Hollweg been an English minister, he would have acted exactly
as did Sir Edward Grey.  Their standards are as like each other as their
cannon, which differ in nothing but their calibre.  But the question for
us is, can we adopt _their_ standards for _our own_?

    "Fortunately, it is a misconception to assume that the German
    Social Democracy in case of war wanted to judge by national and
    not by international considerations, and felt itself to be first
    a German and then a proletariat party."

So said Kautsky in Essen.  And now when the national point of view has
taken hold of all the workingmen’s parties of the International in place
of the international point of view that they held in common, Kautsky not
only reconciles himself to this "misconception," but even tries to find
in it agreement of standards and a guarantee of the rebirth of the

    "In every national state the working class must also devote its
    entire energy to keeping intact the independence and the
    integrity of the national territory.  This is an essential of
    democracy, that basis necessary to the struggle and the final
    victory of the proletariat." (_Neue Zeit_, 337, p. 4.)

But if this is the case, how about the Austrian Social Democracy?  Must
it, too, devote its entire energy to the preservation of the
non-national and anti-national Austro-Hungarian Monarchy?  And the
German Social Democracy? By amalgamating itself politically with the
German army, it not only helps to preserve the Austro-Hungarian national
chaos, but also facilitates the destruction of Germany’s national unity.
_National unity is endangered not only by defeat but also by victory_.

From the standpoint of the European proletariat it is equally harmful
whether a slice of French territory is gobbled up by Germany, or whether
France gobbles up a slice of German territory.  Moreover the
preservation of the European _status quo_ is not a thing at all for our
platform.  The political map of Europe has been drawn by the point of
the bayonet, at every frontier passing over the living bodies of the
nations.  If the Social Democracy assists its national (or
anti-national) governments with all its energy, it is again leaving it
to the power and intelligence of the bayonet to correct the map of
Europe.  And in tearing the International to pieces, the Social
Democracy destroys the one power that is capable of setting up a
programme of national independence and democracy in opposition to the
activity of the bayonet, and of carrying out this programme in a greater
or less degree, quite independently of which of the national bayonets is
crowned with victory.

The experience of old is confirmed once again.  If the Social Democracy
sets national duties above its class duties, it commits the greatest
crime not only against Socialism, but also against the interest of the
nation as rightly and broadly understood.

                              CHAPTER VII


At their Convention in Paris two weeks before the outbreak of the
catastrophe, the French Socialists insisted on pledging all branches of
the International to revolutionary action in case of a mobilization.
They were thinking chiefly of the German Social Democracy.  The
radicalism of the French Socialists in matters of foreign policy was
rooted not so much in international as national interests. The events of
the War have now definitely confirmed what was clear to many then.  What
the French Socialist Party desired from the sister party in Germany was
a certain guarantee for the inviolability of France.  They believed that
only by thus insuring themselves with the German proletariat could they
finally free their own hands for a decisive conflict with national

The German Social Democracy, for their part, flatly refused to make any
such pledge. Bebel showed that if the Socialist parties signed the
French resolution, that would not necessarily enable them to keep their
pledge when the decisive moment came.  Now there is little room for
doubt that Bebel was right.  As events have repeatedly proved, a period
of mobilization almost completely cripples the Socialist Party, or at
least precludes the possibility of decisive moves.  Once mobilization is
declared, the Social Democracy finds itself face to face with the
concentrated power of the Government, which is supported by a powerful
military apparatus that is ready to crush all obstacles in its path and
has the unqualified co-operation of all bourgeois parties and

And of no less importance is the fact that mobilization wakes up and
brings to their feet those elements of the people whose social
significance is slight and who play little or no political part in times
of peace.  Hundreds of thousands, nay millions of petty hand-workers, of
hobo-proletarians (the riff-raff of the workers), of small farmers and
agricultural laborers are drawn into the ranks of the army and put into
a uniform, in which each one of these men stands for just as much as the
class-conscious workingman.  They and their families are forcibly torn
from their dull unthinking indifference and given an interest in the
fate of their country.  Mobilization and the declaration of war awaken
fresh expectations in these circles whom our agitation practically does
not reach and whom, under ordinary circumstances, it will never enlist.
Confused hopes of a change in present conditions, of a change for the
better, fill the hearts of these masses dragged out of the apathy of
misery and servitude.  The same thing happens as at the beginning of a
revolution, but with one all-important difference.  A revolution links
these newly aroused elements with the revolutionary class, but war links
them--with the government and the army!  In the one case all the
unsatisfied needs, all the accumulated suffering, all the hopes and
longings find their expression in revolutionary enthusiasm; in the other
case these same social emotions temporarily take the form of patriotic
intoxication.  Wide circles of the working class, even among those
touched with Socialism, are carried along in the same current.  The
advance guard of the Social Democracy feels it is in the minority; its
organizations, in order to complete the organization of the army, are
wrecked.  Under such conditions there can be no thought of a
revolutionary move on the part of the Party. And all this is quite
independent of whether the people look upon a particular war with favor
or disfavor.  In spite of the colonial character of the Russo-Japanese
war and its unpopularity in Russia, the first half year of it nearly
smothered the revolutionary movement.  Consequently it is quite clear
that, with the best intentions in the world, the Socialist parties
cannot pledge themselves to obstructionist action at the time of
mobilization, at a time, that is, when Socialism is more than ever
politically isolated.

And therefore there is nothing particularly unexpected or discouraging
in the fact that the working-class parties did not oppose military
mobilization with their own revolutionary mobilization.  Had the
Socialists limited themselves to expressing condemnation of the present
war, had they declined all responsibility for it and refused the vote of
confidence in their governments as well as the vote for the war credits,
they would have done their duty at the time.  They would have taken up a
position of waiting, the oppositional character of which would have been
perfectly clear to the government as well as to the people.  Further
action would have been determined by the march of events and by those
changes which the events of a war must produce on the people’s
consciousness.  The ties binding the International together would have
been preserved, the banner of Socialism would have been unstained.
Although weakened for the moment, the Social Democracy would have
preserved a free hand for a decisive interference in affairs as soon as
the change in the feelings of the working masses came about. And it is
safe to assert that whatever influence the Social Democracy might have
lost by such an attitude at the beginning of the war, would have been
won several times over once the inevitable turn in public sentiment had
come about.

But if this did not happen, if the signal for war mobilization was also
the signal for the fall of the International, if the national labor
parties fell in line with their governments and the armies without a
single protest, then there must be deep causes for it common to the
entire International.  It would be futile to seek these causes in the
mistakes of individuals, in the narrowness of leaders and party
committees. They must be sought in the conditions of the epoch in which
the Socialist International first came into being and developed.  Not
that the unreliability of the leaders or the bewildered incompetence of
the Executive Committees should ever be justified.  By no means.  But
these are not fundamental factors.  These must be sought in the
historical conditions of an entire epoch.  For it is not a question--and
we must be very straightforward with ourselves about this--of any
particular mistake, not of any opportunist steps, not of any awkward
statements in the various parliaments, not of the vote for the budget
cast by the Social Democrats of the Grand Duchy of Baden, not of
individual experiments of French ministerialism, not of the making or
unmaking of this or that Socialist’s career.  It is nothing less than
the complete failure of the International in the most responsible
historical epoch, for which all the previous achievements of Socialism
can be considered merely as a preparation.

A review of historical events will reveal a number of facts and symptoms
that should have aroused disquiet as to the depth and solidity of
Internationalism in the labor movement.

I am not referring to the Austrian Social Democracy.  In vain did the
Russian and Servian Socialists look for clippings from articles on world
politics in the _Wiener Arbeiter Zeitung_ that they could use for
Russian and Servian workingmen without having to blush for the
International.  One of the most striking tendencies of this journal
always was the defense of Austro-German imperialism not only against the
outside enemy but also against the internal enemy--and the _Vorwärts_
was one of the internal enemies.  There is no irony in saying that in
the present crisis of the International the _Wiener Arbeiter Zeitung_
remained truest to its past.

French Socialism reveals two extremes--an ardent patriotism, on the one
hand, not free from enmity of Germany; on the other hand, the most vivid
anti-patriotism of the Hervé type, which, as experience teaches, readily
turns into the very opposite.

As for England, Hyndman’s Tory-tinged patriotism, supplementing his
sectarian radicalism, has often caused the International political

It was in a far less degree that nationalistic symptoms could be
detected in the German Social Democracy.  To be sure, the opportunism of
the South Germans grew up out of the soil of particularism, which was
German nationalism in octavo form.  But the South Germans were rightly
considered the politically unimportant rearguard of the Party.  Bebel’s
promise to shoulder his gun in case of danger did not meet with a
single-hearted reception. And when Noske repeated Bebel’s expression, he
was sharply attacked in the Party press. On the whole the German Social
Democracy adhered more strictly to the line of internationalism than any
other of the old Socialist parties.  But for that very reason it made
the sharpest break with its past.  To judge by the formal announcements
of the Party and the articles in the Socialist press, there is no
connection between the Yesterday and To-day of German Socialism.

But it is clear that such a catastrophe could not have occurred had not
the conditions for it been prepared in previous times.  The fact that
two young parties, the Russian and the Servian, remained true to their
international duties is by no means a confirmation of the Philistine
philosophy, according to which loyalty to principle is a natural
expression of immaturity.  Yet this fact leads us to seek the causes of
the collapse of the Second International in the very conditions of its
development that least influenced its younger members.

                              CHAPTER VIII

                         SOCIALIST OPPORTUNISM

The Communist Manifesto, written in 1847, closes with the words:
"Workingmen of all countries, unite!"  But this battle cry came too
early to become a living actuality at once.  The historical order of the
day just then was the middle class revolution of 1848.  And in this
revolution the part that fell to the authors of the Manifesto themselves
was not that of leaders of an international proletariat, but of fighters
on the extreme left of the national Democracy.

The Revolution of 1848 did not solve a single one of the national
problems; it merely revealed them.  The counter-revolution, along with
the great industrial development that then took place, broke off the
thread of the revolutionary movement.  Another century of peace went by
until recently the antagonisms that had not been removed by the
Revolution demanded the intervention of the sword.  This time it was not
the sword of the Revolution, fallen from the hands of the middle class,
but the militaristic sword of war drawn from a dynastic scabbard.  The
wars of 1859, 1864, 1866, and 1870 created a new Italy and a new
Germany.  The feudal caste fulfilled, in their own way, the heritage of
the Revolution of 1848.  The political bankruptcy of the middle class,
which expressed itself in this historic interchange of rôles, became a
direct stimulus to an independent proletarian movement based on the
rapid development of capitalism.

In 1863 Lassalle founded the first political labor union in Germany.  In
1864 the first International was formed in London under the guidance of
Karl Marx.  The closing watch-word of the Manifesto was taken up and
used in the first circular issued by the International Association of
Workingmen.  It is most characteristic for the tendencies of the modern
Labor Movement that its first organization had an international
character.  Nevertheless this organization was an anticipation of the
future needs of the movement rather than a real steering instrument in
the class-struggle.  There was still a wide gulf between the ultimate
goal of the International, the communistic revolution, and its immediate
activities, which took the form mainly of international co-operation in
the chaotic strike movements of the laborers in various countries.  Even
the founders of the International hoped that the revolutionary march of
events would very soon overcome the contradiction between ideology and
practice. While the General Council was giving money to aid groups of
strikers in England and on the Continent, it was at the same time making
classic attempts to harmonize the conduct of the workers in all
countries in the field of world politics.

But these endeavors did not as yet have a sufficient material
foundation.  The activity of the First International coincided with that
period of wars which opened the way for capitalistic development in
Europe and North America.  In spite of its doctrinal and educational
importance, the attempts of the International to mingle in world
politics must all the more clearly have shown the advanced workingmen of
all countries their impotence as against the national class state.  The
Paris Commune, flaring up out of the war, was the culmination of the
First International.  Just as the Communist Manifesto was the
theoretical anticipation of the modern labor movement, and the First
International was the practical anticipation of the labor associations
of the world, so the Paris Commune was the revolutionary anticipation of
the dictatorship of the proletariat.

But only an anticipation, nothing more. And for that very reason it was
clear that it is impossible for the proletariat to overthrow the
machinery of state and reconstruct society by nothing but revolutionary
improvisations. National states that emerged from the wars created the
one real foundation for this historical work, the national foundation.
Therefore, the proletariat must go through the school of self-education.

The First International fulfilled its mission of a nursery for the
National Socialist Parties.  After the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris
Commune, the International dragged along a moribund existence for a few
years more and in 1872 was transplanted to America, to which various
religious, social and other experiments had often wandered before, to
die there.

Then began the period of prodigious capitalistic development, on the
foundation of the national state.  For the Labor Movement this was the
period of the gradual gathering of strength, of the development of
organization, and of political possibilism.

In England the stormy period of Chartism, that revolutionary awakening
of the English proletariat, had completely exhausted itself ten years
before the birth of the First International.  The repeal of the Corn
Laws (1846) and the subsequent industrial prosperity that made England
the workshop of the world; the establishment of the ten-hour working day
(1847), the increase of emigration from Ireland to America, and the
enfranchisement of the workers in the cities (1867), all these
circumstances, which considerably improved the lot of the upper strata
of the proletariat, led the class movement in England into the peaceful
waters of trade unionism and its supplemental liberal labor policies.

The period of possibilism, that is, of the conscious, systematic
adaptation to the economic, legal, and state forms of national
capitalism began for the English proletariat, the oldest of the
brothers, even before the birth of the International, and twenty years
earlier than for the continental proletariat.  If nevertheless the big
English unions joined the International at first, it was only because it
afforded them protection against the importation of strike breakers in
wage disputes.

The French labor movement recovered but slowly from the loss of blood in
the Commune, on the soil of a retarded industrial growth, and in a
nationalistic atmosphere of the most noxious greed for "revenge."
Wavering between an anarchistic "denial" of the state and a
vulgar-democratic capitulation to it, the French proletarian movement
developed by adaptation to the social and political framework of the
bourgeois republic.

As Marx had already foreseen in 1870, the center of gravity of the
Socialist movement shifted to Germany.

After the Franco-Prussian War, united Germany entered upon an era
similar to the one England had passed through in the twenty years
previous: an era of capitalistic prosperity, of democratic suffrage, of
a higher standard of living for the upper strata of the proletariat.

Theoretically the German labor movement marched under the banner of
Marxism.  Still in its dependence on the conditions of the period,
Marxism became for the German proletariat not the algebraic formula of
the revolution that it was at the beginning, but the theoretic method
for adaptation to a national-capitalistic state crowned with the
Prussian helmet.  Capitalism, which had achieved a temporary
equilibrium, continually revolutionized the economic foundation of
national life.  To preserve the power that had resulted from the
Franco-Prussian War, it was necessary to increase the standing army.
The middle class had ceded all its _political_ positions to the feudal
monarchy, but had intrenched itself all the more energetically in its
_economic_ positions under the protection of the militaristic police
state.  The main currents of the last period, covering forty-five years,
are: victorious capitalism, militarism erected on a capitalist
foundation, a political reaction resulting from the intergrowth of
feudal and capitalist classes--a revolutionizing of the economic life,
and a complete abandonment of revolutionary methods and traditions in
political life.  The entire activity of the German Social Democracy was
directed towards the awakening of the backward workers, through a
systematic fight for their most immediate needs--the gathering of
strength, the increase of membership, the filling of the treasury, the
development of the press, the conquest of all the positions that
presented themselves, their utilization and expansion. This was the
great historical work of the awakening and educating of the
"unhistorical" class.

The great centralized trade unions of Germany developed in direct
dependence upon the development of national industry, adapting
themselves to its successes in the home and the foreign markets, and
controlling the prices of raw materials and manufactured products.
Localized in political districts to adapt itself to the election laws
and stretching feelers in all cities and rural communities, the Social
Democracy built up the unique structure of the political organization of
the German proletariat with its many-branched bureaucratic hierarchy,
its one million dues-paying members, its four million voters, ninety-one
daily papers and sixty-five Party printing presses. This whole
many-sided activity, of immeasurable historical importance, was
permeated through and through with the spirit of possibilism.

In forty-five years history did not offer the German proletariat a
single opportunity to remove an obstacle by a stormy attack, or to
capture any hostile position in a revolutionary advance.  As a result of
the mutual relation of social forces, it was forced to avoid obstacles
or adapt itself to them.  In this, Marxism as a theory was a valuable
tool for political guidance, but it could not change the opportunist
character of the class movement, which in essence was at that time alike
in England, France and Germany.  For all the undisputed superiority of
the German organization, the tactics of the unions were very much the
same in Berlin and London.  Their chief achievement was the system of
tariff treaties.  In the political field the difference was much greater
and deeper. While the English proletariat were marching under the banner
of Liberalism, the German workers formed an independent party with a
Socialist platform.  Yet this difference does not go nearly as deep in
politics as it does in ideologic forms, and the forms of organization.

Through the pressure that English labor exerted on the Liberal Party it
achieved certain limited political victories, the extension of suffrage,
freedom to unionize, and social legislation.  The same was preserved or
improved by the German proletariat through its independent party, which
it was obliged to form because of the speedy capitulation of German
liberalism. And yet this party, while in _principle_ fighting the fight
for political power, was compelled in actual practice to adapt itself to
the ruling power, to protect the labor movement against the blows of
this power, and to achieve a few reforms.  In other words: on account of
the difference in historical traditions and political conditions, the
English proletariat adapted itself to the capitalist state through the
medium of the Liberal Party; while the German proletariat was forced to
form a party of its own to achieve the very same political ends. And the
political struggle of the German proletariat in this entire period had
the same opportunist character limited by historical conditions as did
that of the English proletariat.

The similarity of these two phenomena so different in their forms comes
out most clearly in the final results at the close of the period. The
English proletariat in the struggle to meet its daily issues was forced
to form an independent party of its own, without, however, breaking with
its liberal traditions; and the party of the German proletariat, when
the War forced upon it the necessity of a decisive choice, gave an
answer in the spirit of the national-liberal traditions of the English
labor party.

Marxism, of course, was not merely something accidental or insignificant
in the German labor movement.  Yet there would be no basis for deducing
the social-revolutionary character of the Party from its official
Marxist ideology.

Ideology is an important, but not a decisive factor in politics.  Its
rôle is that of waiting on politics.  That deep-seated contradiction,
which was inherent in the awakening revolutionary class on account of
its relation to the feudal-reactionary state, demanded an irreconcilable
ideology which would bring the whole movement under the banner of social
revolutionary aims.  Since historical conditions forced opportunist
tactics, the irreconcilability of the proletarian class found expression
in the revolutionary formulas of Marxism.  Theoretically, Marxism
reconciled with perfect success the contradiction between reform and
revolution.  Yet the process of historical development is something far
more involved than theorizing in the realm of pure thought.  The fact
that the class which was revolutionary in its tendencies was forced for
several decades to adapt itself to the monarchical police state, based
on the tremendous capitalistic development of the country, in the course
of which adaptation an organization of a million members was built up
and a labor bureaucracy which led the entire movement was educated--this
fact does not cease to exist and does not lose its weighty significance
because Marxism anticipated the revolutionary character of the future
movement.  Only the most naïve ideology could give the same place to
this forecast that it does to the political actualities of the German
labor movement.

The German Revisionists were influenced in their conduct by the
contradiction between the reform practice of the Party and its
revolutionary theories.  They did not understand that this contradiction
is conditioned by temporary, even if long-lasting circumstances and that
it can only be overcome by further social development.  To them it was a
logical contradiction. The mistake of the Revisionists was not that they
confirmed the reformistic character of the Party’s tactics in the past,
but that they wanted to perpetuate reformism theoretically and make it
the only method of the proletarian class struggle.  Thus, the
Revisionists failed to take into account the objective tendencies of
capitalistic development, which by deepening class distinctions must
lead to the social revolution as the one way to the emancipation of the
proletariat.  Marxism emerged from this theoretical dispute as the
victor all along the line.  But revisionism, although defeated on the
field of theory, continued to live, drawing sustenance from the actual
conduct and the psychology of the whole movement.  The critical
refutation of revisionism as a theory by no means signified its defeat
tactically and psychologically.  The parliamentarians, the unionists,
the comrades continued to live and to work in the atmosphere of general
opportunism, of practical specializing and of nationalistic narrowness.
Reformism made its impress even upon the mind of August Bebel, the
greatest representative of this period.

The spirit of opportunism must have taken a particularly strong hold on
the generation that came into the party in the eighties, in the time of
Bismarck’s anti-Socialist laws and of oppressive reaction all over
Europe.  Lacking the apostolic zeal of the generation that was connected
with the First International, hindered in its first steps by the power
of victorious imperialism, forced to adapt itself to the traps and
snares of the anti-Socialist laws, this generation grew up in the spirit
of moderation and constitutional distrust of revolution.  They are now
men of fifty to sixty years old, and they are the very ones who are now
at the head of the unions and the political organizations. Reformism is
their political psychology, if not also their doctrine.  The gradual
growing into Socialism--that is the basis of Revisionism--proved to be
the most miserable Utopian dream in face of the facts of capitalistic
development. But the gradual political growth of the Social Democracy
into the mechanism of the national state has turned out to be a tragic
actuality--for the entire race.

The Russian Revolution was the first great event to bring a fresh whiff
into the stale atmosphere of Europe in the thirty-five years since the
Paris Commune.  The rapid development of the Russian working class and
the unexpected strength of their concentrated revolutionary activity
made a great impression on the entire civilized world and gave an
impetus everywhere to the sharpening of political differences.  In
England the Russian Revolution hastened the formation of an independent
labor party.  In Austria, thanks to special circumstances, it led to
universal manhood suffrage. In France the echo of the Russian Revolution
took the form of Syndicalism, which gave expression, in inadequate
practical and theoretical form, to the awakened revolutionary tendencies
of the French proletariat.  And in Germany the influence of the Russian
Revolution showed itself in the strengthening of the young Left wing of
the Party, in the rapprochement of the leading Center to it, and in the
isolation of Revisionism.  The question of the Prussian franchise, this
key to the political position of Junkerdom, took on a keener edge.  And
the Party adopted in principle the revolutionary method of the general
strike.  But all this external shaping up proved inadequate to shove the
Party on to the road of the political offensive.  In accordance with the
Party tradition, the turn toward radicalism found expression in
discussions and the adoption of resolutions.  That was as far as it ever

                               CHAPTER IX


Six or seven years ago a political ebb-tide everywhere followed upon the
revolutionary flood-tide.  In Russia the counter-revolution triumphed
and began a period of decay for the Russian proletariat both in politics
and in the strength of their own organizations.  In Austria the thread
of achievements started by the working class broke off, social insurance
legislation rotted in the government offices, nationalist conflicts
began again with renewed vigor in the arena of universal manhood
suffrage, weakening and dividing the Social Democracy. In England, the
Labor Party, after separating from the Liberal Party, entered into the
closest association with it again.  In France the Syndicalists passed
over to reformist positions. Gustav Hervé changed to the opposite of
himself in the shortest time.  And in the German Social Democracy the
Revisionists lifted their heads, encouraged by history’s having given
them such a revenge.  The South Germans perpetrated their demonstrative
vote for the budget.  The Marxists were compelled to change from
offensive to defensive tactics.  The efforts of the Left wing to draw
the Party into a more active policy were unsuccessful. The dominating
Center swung more and more towards the Right, isolating the radicals.
Conservatism, recovering from the blows it received in 1905, triumphed
all along the line.

In default of revolutionary activity as well as the possibility for
reformist work, the Party spent its entire energy on building up the
organization, on gaining new members for the unions and for the Party,
on starting new papers and getting new subscribers.  Condemned for
decades to a policy of opportunist waiting, the Party took up the cult
of organization as an end in itself.  Never was the spirit of inertia
produced by mere routine work so strong in the German Social Democracy
as in the years immediately preceding the great catastrophe. And there
can be no doubt that the question of the preservation of the
organizations, treasuries, People’s Houses and printing presses played a
mighty important part in the position taken by the fraction in the
Reichstag towards the War.  "Had we done anything else we would have
brought ruin upon our organization and our presses" was the first
argument I heard from a leading German comrade.

And how characteristic it is of the opportunistic psychology induced by
mere organization work, that out of ninety-one Social Democratic papers
not one found it possible to protest against the violation of Belgium.
Not one! After the repeal of the anti-Socialist laws, the Party
hesitated long before starting its own printing presses, lest these
might be confiscated by the government in the event of great happenings.
And now that it has its own presses, the Party hierarchy fears every
decisive step so as not to afford opportunity for confiscation.

Most eloquent of all is the incident of the _Verwärts_ which begged for
permission to continue to exist--on the basis of a new programme
indefinitely suspending the class conflict.  Every friend of the German
Social Democracy had a sense of profound pain when he received his issue
of the central organ with its humiliating "By Order of Army
Headquarters."  Had the _Verwärts_ remained under interdiction, that
would have been an important political fact to which the Party later
could have referred with pride.  At any rate that would have been far
more honorable than to continue to exist with the imprint of the
general’s boots on its forehead.

But higher than all considerations of policy and the dignity of the
Party stood considerations of membership, printing presses,
organization. And so the _Verwärts_ now lives as two-paged evidence of
the unlimited brutality of Junkerdom in Berlin and in Louvain, and of
the unlimited opportunism of the German Social Democracy.

The Right wing stood more by its principles, which resulted from
political considerations. Wolfgang Heine crassly formulated these
principles of German Reformism in an absurd discussion as to whether the
Social Democrats should leave the hall of the Reichstag when the members
rose to cheer the Emperor’s name, or whether they should merely keep
their seats. "The creation of a republic in the German Empire is now and
for some time to come out of the range of all possibility, so that it is
not really a matter for our present policy."  The practical results
still not yet achieved may be reached, but only through co-operation
with the liberal bourgeoisie.  "For that reason, not because I am a
stickler for form, I have called attention to the fact that
parliamentary co-operation will be rendered difficult by demonstrations
that needlessly _hurt the feelings_ of the majority of the House."

But if a simple infringement of monarchical etiquette was enough to
destroy the hope of reformist co-operation with the liberal middle
class, then certainly the break with the bourgeois "nation" in the
moment of national "danger" would have hindered, for years to come, not
only all desired reforms, but also all reformist desires.  That attitude
that was dictated to the routinists of the Party center by sheer anxiety
over the preservation of the organization was supplemented among the
Revisionists by political considerations.  Their standpoint proved in
every respect to be more comprehensive and won the victory all over. The
entire Party press is now industriously acclaiming what it once heaped
scorn upon, that the present patriotic attitude of the working class
will win for them, after the war, the good will of the possessing
classes for bringing about reforms.

Therefore, the German Social Democracy did not feel itself, under the
stress of these great events, a revolutionary power with tasks far
exceeding the question of widening the state’s boundaries, a power that
does not lose itself for an instant in the nationalistic whirl, but
calmly awaits the favorable moment for joining with the other branches
of the International in a purposeful interference in the course of
events.  No, instead of that the German Social Democracy felt itself to
be a sort of cumbersome train threatened by hostile cavalry.  For that
reason it subordinated the entire future of the International to the
quite extraneous question of the defense of the frontiers of the class
state--because it felt itself first and foremost to be a conservative
state within the state.

"Look at Belgium!" cries the _Verwärts_ to encourage the
workmen-soldiers.  The People’s Houses there have been changed into army
hospitals, the newspapers suppressed, all Party life crushed out.⁵  And
therefore hold out until the end, "until the decisive victory is ours."
In other words, keep on destroying, let the work of your own hands be a
terrifying lesson to you.  "Look at Belgium," and out of this terror
draw courage for renewed destruction.

    ⁵ A sentimental correspondent of the _Vorwärts_ writes that he was
      looking for Belgian comrades in the _Maison du Peuple_ and found a
      German army hospital there.  And what did the _Vorwärts_
      correspondent want of his Belgian comrades?  "_To win them to the
      cause of the German people_--just when Brussels itself had been
      won ’for the cause of the German people!’"

What has just been said refers not to the German Social Democracy alone,
but also to all the older branches of the International that have lived
through the history of the last half century.

                               CHAPTER X

                       WORKING CLASS IMPERIALISM

There is one factor in the collapse of the Second International that is
still unclarified. It dwells at the heart of all the events that the
Party has passed through.

The dependence of the proletarian class movement, particularly in its
economic conflicts, upon the scope and the successes of the
imperialistic policy of the state is a question which, as far as I know,
has never been discussed in the Socialist press.  Nor can I attempt to
solve it in the short space of this work. So what I shall say on this
point will necessarily be in the nature of a brief review.

The proletariat is deeply interested in the development of the forces of
production.  The national state created in Europe by the revolutions and
wars of the years 1789 to 1870 was the basic type of the economic
evolution of the past period.  The proletariat contributed by its entire
conscious policy to the development of the forces of production on a
national foundation.  It supported the bourgeoisie in its conflicts with
alien enemies for national liberation; also in its conflicts with the
monarchy, with feudalism and the church for political democracy.  And in
the measure in which the bourgeois turned to "law and order," that is,
became reactionary, the proletariat assumed the historical task it left
uncompleted.  In championing a policy of peace, culture and democracy,
as against the bourgeoisie, it contributed to the enlargement of the
national market, and so gave an impetus to the development of the forces
of production.

The proletariat had an equal economic interest in the democratizing and
the cultural progress of all other countries in their relation of buyer
or seller to its own country.  In this resided the most important
guarantee for the international solidarity of the proletariat both in so
far as final aims and daily policies are concerned.  The struggle
against the remnants of feudal barbarism, against the boundless demands
of militarism, against agrarian duties and indirect taxes was the main
object of working-class politics and served, directly and indirectly, to
help develop the forces of production. That is the very reason why the
great majority of organized labor joined political forces with the
Social Democracy.  Every hindrance to the development of the forces of
production touches the trade unions most closely.

As capitalism passed from a national to an international-imperialistic
ground, national production, and with it the economic struggle of the
proletariat, came into direct dependence on those conditions of the
world-market which are secured by dreadnaughts and cannon.  In other
words, in contradiction of the fundamental interests of the proletariat
taken in their wide historic extent, the immediate trade interests of
various strata of the proletariat proved to have a direct dependence
upon the successes or the failures of the foreign policies of the

England long before the other countries placed her capitalistic
development on the basis of predatory imperialism, and she interested
the upper strata of the proletariat in her world dominion.  In
championing its own class interests, the English proletariat limited
itself to exercising pressure on the bourgeois parties which granted it
a share in the capitalistic exploitation of other countries.  It did not
begin an independent policy until England began to lose her position in
the world market, pushed aside, among others, by her main rival,

But with Germany’s growth to industrial world-importance, grew the
dependence of broad strata of the German proletariat on German
imperialism, not materially alone but also ideally.  The _Vorwärts_
wrote on August 11th that the German workingmen, "counted among the
politically intelligent, to whom we have preached the dangers of
imperialism for years (although _with very little success_, we must
confess)" scold at Italian neutrality like the extremest chauvinists.
But that did not prevent the _Vorwärts_ from feeding the German
workingmen on "national" and "democratic" arguments in justification of
the bloody work of imperialism.  (Some writers’ backbones are as
flexible as their pens.)

However, all this does not alter facts.  When the decisive moment came,
there seemed to be no irreconcilable enmity to imperialistic policies in
the consciousness of the German workingmen. On the contrary, they seemed
to listen readily to imperialist whisperings veiled in national and
democratic phraseology.  This is not the first time that Socialistic
imperialism reveals itself in the German Social Democracy. Suffice it to
recall the fact that at the International Congress in Stuttgart it was
the majority of the German delegates, notably the trade unionists, who
voted against the Marxist resolution on the colonial policy.  The
occurrence made a sensation at the time, but its true significance comes
out more clearly in the light of present events.  Just now the trade
union press is linking the cause of the German working class to the work
of the Hohenzollern army with more consciousness and matter-of-factness
than do the political organs.

As long as capitalism remained on a national basis, the proletariat
could not refrain from co-operation in democratizing the political
relations and in developing the forces of production through its
parliamentary, communal and other activities.  The attempts of the
anarchists to set up a formal revolutionary agitation in opposition to
the political fights of the Social Democracy condemned them to isolation
and gradual extinction.  But when the capitalist states overstep their
national form to become imperialistic world powers, the proletariat
cannot oppose this new imperialism.  And the reason is the so-called
minimal programme which fashioned its policy upon the framework of the
national state.  When its main concern is for tariff treaties and social
legislation, the proletariat is incapable of expending the same energy
in fighting imperialism that it did in fighting feudalism.  By applying
its old methods of the class struggle--the constant adaptation to the
movements of the markets--to the changed conditions produced by
imperialism, it itself falls into material and ideological dependence on

The only way the proletariat can pit its revolutionary force against
imperialism is under the banner of Socialism.  The working class is
powerless against imperialism as long as its great organizations stand
by their old opportunist tactics.  The working class will be
all-powerful against imperialism when it takes to the battlefield of
Social Revolution.

The methods of national parliamentary opposition not only fail to
produce objective results, but the laboring masses lose all interest in
them because they find that their earnings and their very existence are
not affected by what is done in parliament.  Behind the backs of the
parliamentarians imperialism wins its successes in the world market.

The methods of national-parliamentary opposition not only fail to
produce practical results, but also cease to make an appeal to the
laboring masses, because the workers find that, behind the backs of the
parliamentarians, imperialism, by armed force, reduces the wages and the
very lives of the workers to ever greater dependence on its successes in
the world market.

It was clear to every thinking Socialist that the only way the
proletariat could be made to pass from opportunism to Revolution was not
by agitation, but by a historical upheaval.  But no one foresaw that
history would preface this inevitable change of tactics by such a
catastrophal collapse of the International.  History works with titanic
relentlessness.  What is the Rheims Cathedral to History?  And what a
few hundred or thousand political reputations? And what the life or
death of hundreds of thousands or of millions?

The proletariat has remained too long in the preparatory school, much
longer than its great pioneer fighters thought it would.  History took
her broom in hand, swept the International of the epigone apart in all
directions and led the slow-moving millions into the field where their
last illusions are being washed away in blood.  A terrible experiment!
On its result perhaps hangs the fate of European civilization.

                               CHAPTER XI

                        THE REVOLUTIONARY EPOCH

At the close of the last century a heated controversy arose in Germany
over the question, What effect does the industrialization of a country
produce upon its military power? The reactionary agrarian politicians
and writers, like Sehring, Karl Ballod, Georg Hansen and others, argued
that the rapid increase of the city populations at the expense of the
rural districts positively undermined the foundation of the Empire’s
military power, and they of course drew from it their patriotic
inferences in the spirit of agrarian protectionism. On the other hand
Lujo Brentano and his school championed an exactly opposite point of
view.  They pointed out that economic industrialism not only opened up
new financial and technical resources, but also developed in the
proletariat the vital force capable of making effective use of all the
new means of defense and attack.  He quotes authoritative opinions to
show that even in the earlier experiences of 1870-71 "the regiments from
the preponderantly industrial district of Westphalia were among the very
best."  And he explains this fact quite correctly by the far greater
ability of the industrial worker to find his bearings in new conditions
and to adjust himself to them. Now which side is right?  The present War
proves that Germany, which has made the greatest progress along
capitalistic lines, was able to develop the highest military power. And
likewise in regard to all the countries drawn into it the War proves
what colossal and yet competent energy the working class develops in its
warlike activities.  It is not the passive horde-like heroism of the
peasant masses, welded together by fatalistic submissiveness and
religious superstition.  It is the individualized spirit of sacrifice,
born of inner impulse, ranging itself under the banner of the Idea.

But the Idea under whose banner the armed proletariat now stands, is the
Idea of war-crafty nationalism, the deadly enemy of the true interests
of the workers.  The ruling class showed themselves strong enough to
force their Idea upon the proletariat, and the proletariat, in the
consciousness of what they were doing, put their intelligence, their
enthusiasm and their courage at the service of their class-foes. In this
fact is sealed the terrible defeat of Socialism.  But it also opens up
all possibilities for a final victory of Socialism.  There can be no
doubt that a class which is capable of displaying such steadfastness and
self-sacrifice in a war it considers a "just" one, will be still more
capable of developing these qualities when the march of events will give
it tasks really worthy of the historical mission of this class.

The epoch of the awakening, the enlightenment and the organization of
the working-class revealed that it has tremendous resources of
revolutionary energy which found no adequate employment in the daily
struggle.  The Social Democracy summoned the upper strata of the
proletariat into the field, but it also checked their revolutionary
energy by adopting the tactics it was obliged to adopt, the tactics of
_waiting_, the strategy of letting your opponent exhaust himself.  The
character of this period was so dull and reactionary that it did not
allow the Social Democracy the opportunity to give the proletariat tasks
that would have engaged their whole spirit of sacrifice.

Imperialism is now giving them such tasks. And imperialism attained its
object by pushing the proletariat into a position of "national defense,"
which, to the workers, meant the defense of all their hands had created,
not only the immense wealth of the nation, but also their own
class-organizations, their treasuries, their press, in short, everything
they had unwearyingly, painfully struggled for and attained in the
course of several decades.  Imperialism violently threw society off its
balance, destroyed the sluice-gates built by the Social Democracy to
regulate the current of proletarian revolutionary energy, and guided
this current into its _own_ bed.

But this terrific historical experiment, which at one blow broke the
back of the Socialist International, carries a deadly danger for
bourgeois society itself.  The hammer is wrenched out of the worker’s
hand and a gun put into his hand instead.  And the worker, who has been
tied down by the machinery of the capitalist system, is suddenly torn
from his usual setting and taught to place the aims of society above
happiness at home and even life itself.

With the weapon in his hand that he himself has forged, the worker is
put in a position where the political destiny of the state is directly
dependent upon him.  Those who exploited and scorned him in normal
times, flatter him now and toady to him.  At the same time he comes into
intimate contact with the cannon, which Lassalle calls one of the most
important ingredients of all constitutions.  He crosses the border,
takes part in forceful requisitions, and helps in the passing of cities
from one party to another.  Changes are taking place such as the present
generation has never before seen.

Even though the vanguard of the working-class knew in theory that Might
is the mother of Right, still their political thinking was completely
permeated by the spirit of opportunism, of adaptation to bourgeois
legalism.  Now they are learning from the teachings of facts to despise
this legalism and tear it down.  Now dynamic forces are replacing the
static forces in their psychology.  The great guns are hammering into
their heads the idea that if it is impossible to get around an obstacle,
it is possible to destroy it.  Almost the entire adult male population
is going through this school of war, so terrible in its realism, a
school which is forming a new human type.  Iron necessity is now shaking
its fist at all the rules of bourgeois society, at its laws, its
morality, its religion.  "Necessity knows no law," said the German
Chancellor on August 4th.  Monarchs walk about in public places calling
each other liars in the language of market-women; governments repudiate
their solemnly acknowledged obligations, and the national church ties
its God to the national cannon like a criminal condemned to hard labor.
Is it not clear that all these circumstances must bring about a profound
change in the mental attitude of the working-class, curing them
radically of the hypnosis of legality in which a period of political
stagnation expresses itself?

The possessing classes, to their consternation, will soon have to
recognize this change.  A working-class that has been through the school
of war will feel the need of using the language of force as soon as the
first serious obstacle faces them within their own country.  "Necessity
knows no law" the workers will cry when the attempt is made to hold them
back at the command of bourgeois law.  And poverty, the terrible poverty
that prevails during this war and will continue after its close, will be
of a sort to force the masses to violate many a bourgeois law.  The
general economic exhaustion in Europe will affect the proletariat most
immediately and most severely.  The state’s material resources will be
depleted by the war, and the possibility of satisfying the demands of
the working-masses will be very limited. This must lead to profound
political conflicts, which, ever-widening and deepening, may take on the
character of a social revolution, the course and outcome of which no
one, of course, can now foresee.

On the other hand, the War with its armies of millions, and its hellish
weapons of destruction can exhaust not only society’s resources but also
the moral forces of the proletariat.  If it does not meet inner
resistance, this War may last for several years more, with changing
fortunes on both sides, until the chief belligerents are completely
exhausted.  But then the whole fighting energy of the international
proletariat, brought to the surface by the bloody conspiracy of
imperialism, will be completely consumed in the horrible work of mutual
annihilation.  The outcome would be that our entire civilization would
be set back by many decades. A peace resulting not from the will of the
awakened peoples but from the mutual exhaustion of the belligerents,
would be like the peace with which the Balkan War was concluded; it
would be a Bucharest Peace extended to the whole of Europe.

Such a peace would seek to patch up anew the contradictions, antagonisms
and deficiencies that have led to the present War.  And with many other
things, the Socialist work of two generations would vanish in a sea of
blood without leaving a trace behind.

Which of the two prospects is the more probable?  This cannot possibly
be theoretically determined in advance.  The issue depends entirely upon
the activity of the vital forces of society--above all upon the
revolutionary Social Democracy.

"_Immediate cessation of the War_" is the watchword under which the
Social Democracy can reassemble its scattered ranks, both within the
national parties, and in the whole International.  The proletariat
cannot make its will to peace dependent upon the strategic
considerations of the general staffs.  On the contrary, it must oppose
its desire for peace to these military considerations.  What the warring
governments call a struggle for national self-preservation is in reality
a mutual national annihilation.  Real national self-defense now consists
in the struggle for peace.

Such a struggle for peace means for us not only a fight to save
humanity’s material and cultural possessions from further insane
destruction.  It is for us primarily a fight to preserve the
revolutionary energy of the proletariat.

To assemble the ranks of the proletariat in a fight for peace means
again to place the forces of revolutionary Socialism against raging,
tearing imperialism on the whole front.

The conditions upon which peace should be concluded--the peace of the
peoples themselves, and not the reconciliation of the diplomats--must be
the same for the whole International.


The peace agitation, which must be conducted simultaneously with all the
means now at the disposal of the Social Democracy as well as those
which, with a good will, it could acquire, will not only tear the
workers out of their nationalistic hypnosis; it will also do the saving
work of inner purification in the present official parties of the
proletariat.  The national Revisionists and the Socialist patriots in
the Second International, who have been exploiting the influence that
Socialism has acquired over the working masses for national militaristic
aims, must be thrust back into the camp of the enemies of the working
class by uncompromising revolutionary agitation for peace.

The revolutionary Social Democracy need not fear that it will be
isolated, now less than ever.  The War is making the most terrible
agitation against itself.  Every day that the War lasts will bring new
masses of people to our banner, if it is an honest banner of peace and
democracy.  The surest way by which the Social Democracy can isolate the
militaristic reaction in Europe and force it to take the offensive is by
the slogan of Peace.


We revolutionary Marxists have no cause for despair.  The epoch into
which we are now entering will be _our_ epoch.  Marxism is not defeated.
On the contrary: the roar of the cannon in every quarter of Europe
heralds the theoretical victory of Marxism.  What is left now of the
hopes for a "peaceful" development, for a mitigation of capitalist class
contrasts, for a regular systematic growth into Socialism?

The Reformists on principle, who hoped to solve the social question by
the way of tariff treaties, consumers’ leagues, and the parliamentary
co-operation of the Social Democracy with the bourgeois parties, are now
all resting their hopes on the victory of the "national" arms. They are
expecting the possessing classes to show greater willingness to meet the
needs of the proletariat because it has proved its patriotism.

This expectation would be positively foolish if there were not hidden
behind it another, far less "idealistic" hope--that a military victory
would create for the bourgeoisie a broader imperialistic field for
enriching itself at the expense of the bourgeoisie of other countries,
and would enable it to share some of the booty with its own proletariat
at the expense of the proletariat of other countries.  _Socialist
reformism has actually turned into Socialist imperialism_.

We have witnessed with our own eyes the pathetic bankruptcy of the hopes
of a peaceful growth of proletarian well-being.  The Reformists,
contrary to their own doctrine, were forced to resort to violence in
order to find their way out of the political _cul-de-sac_--and not the
violence of the peoples against the ruling classes, but the military
violence of the ruling classes against other nations.  Since 1848 the
German bourgeoisie has renounced revolutionary methods for solving its
problems.  They left it to the feudal class to solve their own bourgeois
questions by the method of war.  Social development confronted the
proletariat with the problem of revolution.  Evading revolution, the
Reformists were forced to go through the same process of historical
decline as the liberal bourgeoisie.  The Reformists also left it to
their ruling classes, that is the same feudal caste, to solve the
proletarian problem by the method of war.  But this ends the analogy.

The creation of national states did really solve the bourgeois problem
for a long period, and the long series of colonial wars coming after
1871 finished off the period by broadening the arena of the development
of the capitalistic forces.  The period of colonial wars carried on by
the national states led to the present War of the national states--for
colonies.  After all the backward portions of the earth had been divided
among the capitalist states, there was nothing left for these states
except to grab the colonies from each other.

"People ought not to talk," says George Irmer, "as though it were
self-evident that the German Empire has come too late for rivalry for
world economy and world markets, that the world has already been
divided.  Has not the earth been divided over and over again in all
epochs of history?"

But a re-division of colonies among the capitalist countries does not
enlarge the foundation of capitalist development.  One country’s gain
means another country’s loss.  Accordingly a temporary mitigation of
class-conflicts in Germany could only be achieved by an extreme
intensification of the class-struggle in France and in England, and
_vice versa_.  An additional factor of decisive importance is the
capitalist awakening in the colonies themselves, to which the present
War must give a mighty impetus. Whatever the outcome of this War, the
imperialistic basis for European capitalism will not be broadened, but
narrowed.  The War, therefore, does not solve the labor question on an
imperialistic basis, but, on the contrary, it intensifies it, putting
this alternative to the capitalist world: _Permanent War or Revolution_.

If the War got beyond the control of the Second International, its
immediate consequences will get beyond the control of the bourgeoisie of
the entire world.  We revolutionary Socialists did not want the War.
_But we do not fear it_.  We do not give in to despair over the fact
that the War broke up the International. History had already disposed of
the International.

The revolutionary epoch will create new forms of organization out of the
inexhaustible resources of proletarian Socialism, new forms that will be
equal to the greatness of the new tasks.  To this work we will apply
ourselves at once, amid the mad roaring of the machine-guns, the
crashing of cathedrals, and the patriotic howling of the capitalist
jackals.  We will keep our clear minds amid this hellish death music,
our undimmed vision.  We feel ourselves to be the only creative force of
the future.  Already there are many of us, more than it may seem.
To-morrow there will be more of us than to-day.  And the day after
to-morrow, millions will rise up under our banner, millions who even
now, sixty-seven years after the Communist Manifesto, have nothing to
lose but their chains.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Bolsheviki and World Peace" ***

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