The leading, the oldest and the most powerful party of the Second International, German Social-Democracy, has met, overnight, the fate of a “poor relation.” Moreover, it brought disgrace on the family, when, in pursuit of its business, it was caught in the very act. It lifted the veil that hid the secret of this business and laid bare the social fascist character of the capitalist labour parties, which carry on their struggle against proletarian dictatorship, against Communism, in the name of democratic Socialism.
We must now answer the second question, a reply to which is demanded by every thinking worker who is no longer willing to let himself be duped by Social-Democracy:
Has the Second International as a whole, have the individual Social-Democratic Parties, acted in accordance with different principles, adopted different tactics from those of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany?
To answer this question in the affirmative is in the first place to maintain that the Second International has at some time discountenanced the policy of German Social-Democracy, even be it only since this Party has defended such “lesser evils” as Brüning’s policy of emergency decrees, the election of Hindenburg as President, the policy of Papen and of the “social general” Schleicher, etc.
At the various conferences of the Second International, however, and also in the various declarations of its individual leaders, just the opposite of disapprobation of German Social-Democracy’s policy has found expression.
In his loudly applauded speech at the Vienna Congress of the Second International; Otto Wels, in reply to the Englishman, Maxton, who had expressed certain doubts about the correctness of German Social-Democracy’s position, said in his best Prussian sergeant-major manner:
“The rise of fascism, Maxton says, begins with the coalition policy of Social-Democracy. Maxton, read the history of the German revolution. The coalition policy began in the first days of the revolution ... We have only saved democracy in Prussia only through the coalition policy, pursued by Braun and Severing, and the thanks of the International have been expressed to us for this policy.” (Minutes of the Fourth Congress of the Socialist Labour International, 1931, pp. 583-85. Emphasis mine. — B.K.).
Otto Bauer, who at this Congress, reported on the item of the agenda upon which the discussion of the attitude of German Social-Democracy to fascism suddenly arose, took the following “position.”
“In my opinion this Congress could be guilty of absolutely no greater levity than, if at this critical hour, when it may shortly be a matter of, perhaps, liberty or death for the German working class, it should seek through our resolutions to limit even in the slightest degree German Social-Democracy’s freedom of movement, the elasticity and adaptability of its strategy.” (Report of the Vienna Congress, p. 525).
Truly the “strategy” of German Social-Democracy is not wanting in elasticity and adaptability. Its elasticity in questions of class struggle has grown to such record dimensions that it proclaimed, as the principal task of the German working class, not merely the curing of all capitalism, but the combating of all those revolutionary workers who, following the slogans of the Communists, disturb the repose of that exalted patient by strike movements and similar misdeeds. Upon the adaptability of this “strategy” there is no need to waste many words: Hitler has himself borne witness to it when he affirmed that the Social-Democratic Party has adapted itself to the policy of the National-Socialists.
The Second International, however, has not only given its approval to the tactics of German Social-Democracy in the Hindenburg election and in tolerating Brüning’s emergency decrees. The leaders of the Second International have declared the attitude of German Social-Democracy after July 20 and January 30, after the assumption of power by Hitler, to have been quite correct.
Otto Wels and his companions could, at and after Potsdam, not only cite the fact that in February, 1919, immediately after the war, at the Berne Conference of the Social-Democratic Parties, they had already come forward as spokesmen of the Hitler of to-day, for proof of their allegiance to the “national revolution” they could quite calmly read out the declaration of Léon Blum. In this declaration (Populaire, February 9, 1933) this brave leader of French Social-Democracy and the Second International definitely expressed his solidarity with the internal policy of German Social-Democracy, with its attitude to Hitler, when he stated:
“To-day Hitler is chancellor . . . but is he in possession of power to-day in the same times and circumstances as if on the day after his last elections, he had seized it by force alone? ... To-day he is no more than the leader of a coalition government! Messrs. Von Papen and Hugenberg are on his side; other parties form a counter-weight to his party; he governs only through the shameless violation of the Weimar Constitution, but his predecessors have acted in exactly the same way; he has, however, not a complete and open dictatorship.” (Emphasis mine — B.K.).
These words of Blum’s not only speak highly for his positively prophetic political foresight in things German, in questions of international politics; rather they mark out clearly Léon Blum’s path in the future, when the French bourgeoisie will demand the same from him as the German bourgeoisie has demanded from Wels, Hilferding and company. The key to the politics of Léon Blum is the same tactic of the “lesser evil,” the tactic of compromising with the “lesser evil” instead of fighting it; which German Social-Democracy pursued from Weimar to Potsdam : the tactic which has its roots — not to go back further into the past — in the policy of August 4. This policy, however, was in no slight degree the policy of the French Social-Chauvinism, as well as of the German Social Imperialists.
For Léon Blum, Hitler with Papen is a lesser evil than Hitler without Papen. Whether for the German proletarians the concentration camps, the tortures and the murderous terror of the fascists are easier to bear if Hitler, the former lance-corporal, commands the terror, not alone, but in company with the former cavalry captain von Papen and the privy councillor Hugenberg — on this point Léon Blum can afford no doubts, else the whole tactic of the “lesser evil” would be endangered.
Vandervelde, too, on the occasion of Hitler’s assumption of power, defended the tactics of German Social-Democracy against his own dissatisfied party comrades as follows:
“Peuple” February 12, 1933:
“Among out comrades . . . are some who put the blame on German Social-Democracy and maintain that it is its ‘policy of the lesser evil,’ its too passive opposition in face of fascist force, which has brought it to where it is . . . I, too, can concede that errors have, perhaps, been committed, not, however, in the present, but in the past, in the already distant past . . . ” (Emphasis mine — B.K.).
Accordingly, the President of the Second International has himself said: Everything that was done or not done on July 20 by Social-Democracy is completely in order; it was right for Wels, Hilferding, Breitscheid, Braun, Severing, Leipart and Grassmann, to cause Papen’s coup d’etat to be swallowed, by the members of the S.P.D. and the reformist trade unions, with Weimar constitutional sauce, to prevent the workers from following the general strike slogan of the C.P.G.
If, therefore, German Social-Democracy has committed errors, this was not at the time when it thwarted the strengthening of the united front of the working class against fascism and, by preventing the general strike, opened wide the door to Hitler and his murder bands ... German Social-Democracy has committed errors — in the authoritative opinion of Vandervelde — only in the “already distant past.”
It is not altogether easy to guess when such errors were actually committed; or what was their nature. Perhaps it was fifty or sixty or more years ago, that the mistakes Vandervelde has in mind were made, at a time when German Social-Democracy professed Marxism, and thereby not only made possible the anti-socialist law of Bismarck, but also afforded the latter-day disciple of the “iron chancellor,” Hitler, the chancellor of the “third empire,” an opportunity of giving free reign to his demagogy under the slogan of Anti-Marxism? Or, perhaps, it was in 1907, when, at the Stuttgart Congress of the Second International, German Social-Democracy was irresponsible enough to make a compromise on a resolution moved by Lenin and Luxemburg and to agree that in war it is the duty of the working class, not to defend the fatherland, but to hasten the overthrow of capitalist rule; for this, of necessity, caused its actual treason on August 4, 1914 to come all too clearly in view. Or, maybe, it was in 1910, when Bebel declared at the Party Congress in Magdeburg: “If I, a Social-Democrat, enter an alliance with the bourgeois parties, then the odds are a thousand to one that, not the Social-Democrats, but the bourgeois parties are the winners . . . I may (i.e., then) no longer fight . . . I am forced to be silent ... to justify what may not be justified, to palliate what cannot be palliated . . .”
Perhaps, however, Vandervelde was thinking of Social-Democracy going to Hindenburg? Not, to be sure, of Hindenburg’s election — this was not “in the distant past” — but of its going to Hindenburg during the war period, when Vandervelde, as His Belgian Majesty’s Minister, considered the defence of the fatherland justified in the case of himself and his allies, including the Russian tsar; but, on the contrary, denied this right to Social-Democracy in the non-Entente countries.
Let us now consider the leaders of the Second International in their relations not merely with their German brother-party (it was a brother-party only in peace time, or, in war time, only if it was in the same imperialist camp). The revolutionary smites the class foe in his own land, the Social-Democrat supports him — likewise in his own land.
Germany’s neighbour country, where the democratic institutions based on the Social-Democratic constitution put the “most ideal Swiss democracy” in the shade, lives in a condition in which the rights of the workers are regulated by the war law of the Hapsburg monarchy. The republic, whose every municipal convenience in Red Vienna is extolled and theoretically expounded by Renner, Otto Bauer and Seitz as “a bit of socialism come into being in the correct democratic way,” and is contrasted with the centre of the “Bolsheviks’ barbaric Asiatic socialism” in the land beyond the Dnieper, is under a rule which the Social-Democrats characterize as “Clerico-Fascism.” Last year, on the occasion of the fifteenth aniversary of the October Revolution, Otto Bauer had already, in the name of the Austrian workers, renounced material well-being in the democratic lands for the duration of the crisis: only “democracy,” “freedom of opinion” was to be retained, which the Bolsheviks had “destroyed” — to be sure, for the capitalists — “with rough hands.”
How was it that the Austrian workers, of whom every fourth man is a member of the Social-Democratic Party, could have been brought to a position that closely approximates to the conditions prevailing in Germany?
In 1918 it was regarded as the “lesser evil,” in comparison with bolshevism, to elevate the overthrow of the Hapsburg monarchy effected by the workers to a “general national revolution,” and to declare as its aim, union with the German Reich; to prevent the overthrow of capitalism. In 1919 Renner, sandwiched between the Hungarian and Bavarian Soviet Republics, betook himself to Prague, to Benés, to obtain the “lesser evil” — the occupation of Austria by Czech troops — in the event of a Bolshevik revolution; in Vienna. Meanwhile, by means of the People’s Guard, the Social-Democrats themselves — as Otto Bauer has boasted — drowned in blood the proletarian insurrections of Maundy Thursday and June 15, 1919, and put the country on the hunger rations of the Entente, in the name of the struggle of democracy against bolshevism. After the purely Social-Democratic government had performed its duties to the Entente, it could go. The coalition with the present “Clerico-Fascists”; the supporting of the government of Police-Chief Schober, which on July 15, 1927, had the machine-guns turned on the workers, while the Social-Democratic Mayor, Seitz, commanded the fire-hoses playing on the burning Palace of Justice; the Hüttenberg pact with the “Home Guard” (Heimwehr) Fascists, which secured to the Home Guard trade unions equal rights with the free trade unions in the factories — all this was regarded as a “lesser evil” than communism. On the strength of the theory developed by the Social-Democratic military expert, Julius Deutsch, the Social-Democracy of Austria has handed over to the bourgeoisie the weapons and all instruments of power that it declared to be proletarian, just as Braun and Severing handed over the government offices in Prussia. The former leader of the Defence League has summarized this theory (Defence-Power and Social-Democracy, p. 23) in the following terse words:
“The affirmative attitude of Social-Democracy to the state, however, demands the assumption of a positive attitude to the state’s instruments of power also. One cannot possibly espouse the state and at the same time seek to rob it of every instrument of power.” (Emphasis mine — B.K.).
A truth as pure as gold! A rare phenomenon in the Austrian Social-Democracy: deeds correspond to words!
The army, which, in its immense majority, was once composed of soldiers organized in the Social-Democratic Party and the free trade unions, was purged by Julius Deutsch of the communist-minded soldiers and handed over to the state which was “affirmed,” even when under Christian social control. The police, the gendarmerie, consisting in its majority of officials organized in the Social-Democratic Party, was transferred by Social-Democracy to Schober. The Vienna municipal police was dissolved by the Social-Democratic City Council. Obviously, in Social-Democracy’s view, the weapons — the proletarian and the bourgeois, the democratic and the fascist — belong to the power apparatus of the state. The Executive Committee of the Social-Democratic Party, therefore, was only realizing its own principle when it made repeated proposals to the Christian government that all “private defence formations” should be disarmed and their weapons transferred to the “affirmed state.” Meanwhile, the Fascist Home Guard formations were, in fact, already recognized parts of the power apparatus of the affirmed state. The part of Social-Democracy’s proposals realized in fact was — the disarming of the Defence League (Schutzbund). The handing over of the weapons of the members of the Defence League from the arsenal, from the workers’ homes in Ottakring, from Weiner Neustadt, Gratz, etc., has signified the more extensive arming of the Home Defence, whose leader, Major Fey, the Commissar for Order in the Republic of Austria, was and is the real commander of the power apparatus of the state. The Social-Democratic Party leadership allowed the Defence League to be disarmed; it has got rid of it through its dissolution by the Dollfuss government. At the same time it has got rid of a plank of the never seriously regarded Linz Program; its promise to defend democracy by force against bourgeois force. Now, at the latest party conference, Karl Renner, who, in confraternity with his worthy “opponent,” Otto Bauer, has led the Austrian workers happily along the democratic path, past a whole sequence of “lesser evils,” to the re-enactment of the war laws of the once so hotly defended Austrian monarchy, could — without being disturbed by armed members of the Defence League — calmly repeat what, at the last Congress of the Social-Democratic Party of Austria (see the party Congress Report of 1932), he solemnly expressed in these words:
“The art is to find a rational equilibrium in the midst of such antagonisms. It is a general rule that you will find this rational equilibrium only if you proceed objectively and justly. Yes, I know that everyone says, ‘The others don’t do it.’ But, party comrades, it is just in this that we are different. (Hearty applause). Instead of arbitrariness, we wish to create a just order of human community, and we are different from the others, whose last word on every occasion is force, because we say: No, freedom and justice.” (Emphasis in the original — B.K.).
To-day Hitler is knocking at Austria’s door, and lo! — the Social-Democracy of Austria has discovered one more “lesser evil.” Mussolini and Italian fascism. Mussolini is now — if things go Austrian Social-Democracy’s way — to become the Saviour of Austria from Hitler, since Italian Fascism, by reason of its imperialist policy, is for the time being opposed to the union of Austria with Germany and is hostile to Hitler’s subjecting the Austrian Republic to assimilation. As long as Mussolini adopts this standpoint, the Otto Bauers, the Renners and the Dannebergs will let the democratic republic be governed under the war laws of the Hapsburgs.
In Austria, Social-Democracy has brusquely and abruptly rejected every offer of the Communist Party of Austria for a united front. It declared that in Austria the working class is not split and that Social-Democracy embodies the unity of the Austrian working class. It is a “lesser evil” to tolerate the Home Guard Fascists, to serve the ends of Mussolini’s foreign policy and to seek an equilibrium with the “Clerico-Fascists” than to confess the bankruptcy of Austro-Marxist politics and take up with the Communists a common struggle against Fascism, against depriving the workers of their rights, against reduction of unemployed insurance.
Are these tactics of the model party, the “Left” wing of the Second International, different from those of German Social-Democracy in any of the essential questions of class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie? Differences are only to be found in the phraseology and the speed of the development to Social-Fascism; and these are, in the first place, to be traced to the less acute class antagonisms of Austria, in comparison with Germany. Both the German and the Austrian parties have led the workers one and the same way, with the sole difference that German Social-Democracy has taken the right side of the street, while Austrian Social-Democracy has taken the left.
By the “fascisation” of Germany, Social-Democracy has been put in the “agreeable position” of already being able in the name of the “great Western democracy,” once more to undertake the defence of French imperialism, not merely against Italy, but also against Germany. During the World War it adopted just the same attitude to “Prussian militarism.” To be sure, it might have difficulty in persuading anyone to-day that French militarism was better, less lustful for annexations or less aggressive than Prussian militarism used to be. Nevertheless, French Social-Democracy still has a possibility of donning a “pacifist and democratic” disguise. As the victor, French imperialism has, to all appearances, satiated itself, at least for a time, and is to-day the “defender of the status quo.” French finance capital has amassed so much booty that the Paris Bourse still feels itself financially strong enough to retain intact the foundations of the parliamentary system, the notorious French system of corruption, and, therewith, to permit French Social-Democracy, also, to play its “opposition” role.
For a very long time now, the French Social-Democrats have not allowed principles of any sort to hinder them from making themselves partners in the business of the French bourgeoisie. To take a holiday from the Socialist Party to become a minister — was a discovery of the French Socialists Millerand, Briand, Viviani and others of their kidney. In the war period this method of taking a holiday was already no longer necessary to enable Social-Democrats to occupy ministerial posts and look after the affairs of French imperialism; Guesde, Sembat and Albert Thomas were, indeed, simultaneously, active Social-Democratic leaders and capitalist-ministers. In his “Memoirs” Poincaré has lifted, though with extreme caution, the veil hiding the secret of that internal mechanism, by which the French bourgeoisie directed the Social-Democratic Party, and still directs it to-day. Poincare is not at all concerned to tell tales of scandals and corruption, in which individual Social-Democratic parliamentarians figure, who were bribed to take care of the business of individual Bourse speculators and bogus banks. Rather, he shows up how the bourgeoisie as a whole, as a class, guides and directs Social-Democracy as a whole, as a Party. Behind the cool objectivity too, with which Poincaré reports, can be seen his gratitude for the patriotic services that French Social-Democracy rendered its bourgeoisie in those most difficult days, when it was necessary to repress the revolutionary movement arising out of the longings of the men in the trenches for peace, and when the “Socialists” strangled strikes that production of arms and munitions might not be held up. He relates in his book The Troubled Year of 1917 how Albert Thomas, the Social-Democratic Minister for Munitions, regretted pro-forma that the governments had refused passports to Stockholm (where the social-Patriotic parties held a peace conference in collusion with their governments — B.K.) (see pp. 262-3). To farm an opinion, however, it is most instructive to examine, not merely the past, but the present policy of the Socialist Party; then it may be clearly seen how the social-democratic leaders had pre-arranged their game of apposition with the government.
On September 9, 1917, when a governmental crisis was approaching, Poincaré wrote in his diary (pp. 277-8)
“Thomas should call on me again. He was here about half-past two with his Socialist colleagues; Renaudel was their spokesman. He spoke vaguely and solemnly. He explained that the Socialists had already shared the responsibility of power too long, that the war has not been conducted with the requisite energy, that the government lacks boldness in its social legislation, etc.” (Emphasis mine — B.K.). The game was pre-arranged, and Poincaré (p. 279) continues:
“Thomas is, moreover, of the opinion that it would be better if no Socialists were in the government during the National Congress (i.e., of the Socialist Party of France), which is to assemble next month. It would be easier to obtain a majority for a patriotic motion.”
Is, then, what Léon Blum and Paul Faure do now, when they play opposition to Paul Boncour and Daladier, any different from what Albert Thomas and Renaudel did during the war?
Is this “opposition” to the preparations for a new war different from the “opposition” of Albert Thomas, who — according to Poincarés “Memoirs” — could not break the resistance of Clemenceau to the Socialists, and therefore must needs report to Poincaré with the mien of a deluded tanner
“Agreement is, once and for all, impossible. He does not believe in strikes, nor in dangerous movements, but an opposition will be unavoidable.”
Is this any different from the “opposition” of German Social-Democracy? Does it not read like a page of German history when the periodical Vie Socialiste reports a speech by Léon Blum on February 11, 1933, in which he dealt with the question as to whether the Socialist Party should participate in the government or should rather support it from outside, as follows:
“Do not let us impale ourselves on the horns of a dilemma: participation or opposition. I wish the Daladier government a long life. No doubt, it will not be able to bring in a finance bill, to which we could subscribe. But we shall, perhaps, be able to vote for it, after our bill has been defeated . . . . There is another confusion that I wish would vanish from your minds: we confound our inflexible (!) opposition to the bourgeois state with a tactic of systematic Parliamentary opposition! . . . . Systematic opposition? I reject that. And if you overthrow all the ministries, then the result will be concentration — the Union Nationale and, finally, anti-parliamentarism.” (Emphasis mine — B.K.).
How can one pursue a “systematic opposition” in the French Parliament, when it is a question of the defence of the Versailles system, which was also defended by Blum in the Second International no less successfully than it was defended in the League of Nations by a former leader of the French Socialists, Paul Boncour? A little noconfidence vote of a party conference cannot stop the majority of the Socialist parliamentary fraction from voting for the armament expenditures and the police estimates; it did so in December, 1932, and again in the present year. Thomas has shown the way: it is better sometimes to play the role of an opposition. But if the interests of French imperialism are seriously at stake, then Léon Blum and Paul Faure will certainly not long “impale themselves on the horns of a dilemma,” but will participate in a “national union,” under which not only will Renaudel resume the report on the aerial war-budget and Varennes his vice-royalty in Indo-China, but even the “Left” Jyromsky will lie in the arms of Tardieu. Relations between the Socialist Party and Tardieu, and even Millerand, are not difficult to resume; even after the war they were never quite broken off, and still exist to-day. In the “National Federation of Ex-Service Men,” whose President Millerand formerly was and Tardieu now is, and which, in France, is generally regarded as a semi-fascist body, approved and prominent Socialists take a very active part, in this connection they endeavour, hand in hand with their party leaders, to play off the above body against the revolutionary organization of service men, which wages a real struggle against the preparations for imperialist war.
Just as social-democracy was in Germany the champion of a Western orientation in foreign politics, and, in this way, pursued the aim of forcing Germany to line up in the anti-Soviet front, so, too, the French Social-Democrats are professional advocates for the wreckers and spies who have, in the Soviet Union, done the dirty work of the imperialist General Staffs — and Russian White-Guards, from the Grand Duke Cyril to Abramovitch.
Nor on the question of the united front do they lag behind their German colleagues in point of shabbiness. At the same time as Paul Faure and I. B. Severac, the two secretaries of the Socialist Party, were, for the purpose of duping the masses, ostensibly negotiating with the Communist Party in France on the subject of the united front, the leaders of the Socialists were carrying on serious discussions with the imperialist government, first of Paul Boncour and then of Daladier. A few days later, they expressed their confidence in the Daladier government.
The difference between German and French social-democracy lies neither in their principles nor in their tactics, but in the degree of acuteness attained by the crisis and the class struggles in their respective countries. But one must not be unfair: their manners are also different. Thus Wels would never exchange his Prussian sergeant-major style for the small-talk style of the Paris salons peculiar to Léon Blum. On the other hand, however, the relations of the two parties to all underlying questions of class struggle, and in the first place to their own imperialisms and to proletarian revolution, relations which, in the last resort, determine their attitudes to democracy and to fascism, are as like as two eggs. Only, social-fascism in Germany, having been fully hatched, has already emerged from the egg, while French social-fascism is still stuck in the shell. When this egg-shell will be broken — depends on French finance capital.
too, has its Social-Democracy, which constitutes a much praised section of the Second International, the Labour Party, but which we shall only briefly consider here. To be sure, some “insular characteristics” still cling to its tactics. Nevertheless, it is in no slight degree a vulgar Social-Democracy in the Continental sense. Its peculiarities are conditioned by the two-party system prevailing in England, which — according to Marx — forms the bulwark of the bourgeoisie against the discontent of the masses.
The Labour Party has always had an aversion to coalitions with bourgeois parties; quite recently it has elected to form an “Opposition” rather than a coalition (the separate group of National Labourites round MacDonald excepted). The avowed aim of the British Labour Party was — and is — to take the place of the Liberals in the two-party system in opposition to the Conservatives. And actually it has already succeeded in elevating itself to the position of British Imperialism’s second party. Probably it will also understand how to maintain this position.
It has shamefully broken one of the greatest strikes in the history of the world, the miner’s strike and the general strike of 1926; but it has thereby proved to the English capitalists that it is not only willing, but also able to represent the interests of British imperialism. Together with the General Council of the Trades Unions and the deceased wire-puller, Lord Melchett (formerly Sir Alfred Mond), it has created, after the German model, the “insular version” of the collaboration of employers’ organizations and trade unions, to wit, Mondism.
When the Labour Party first took over the administration of the affairs of British imperialism, the MacDonald “Labour” government allowed the laws passed by the Conservatives and directed against the miners to remain in force; it also set the seal of its whole authority to the law providing for the lengthening of hours in the mines. When, for the second time, it became the administrator of the British bourgeoisie, it at once understood the latter’s program in the matter of “a standard of life for the workers of Great Britain worthy of human beings” in the same way as German Social-Democracy understood the program of its own bourgeoisie in regard to this; it promoted capitalist rationalization at the expense of the workers with all its might; through its peacemakers it permitted the miserable wages of the whole of the textile workers to be cut in the interest of making the textile industry capable of competition; by rapid rationalization it increased unemployment to an unprecedented extent, and prepared the wage cuts of the sailors and the civil servants, as well as a reduction in the unemployed dole. It has increased English industry’s reduced capacity to export, by means similar to those employed by German Social-Democracy and the German trade unions. The Labour government of MacDonald has, as the administrator of the capitalist Shylock, not only demanded its “pound of flesh” from the impoverished workers for the back debts of the formerly aristocratic working class of Great Britain, but has cut this out of their hides with the sharp rationalization knife of capitalist exploitation.
The democracy of the Labour Party is constituted in the same way as its socialism. The Labour government understood how to conduct the British Empire not at all badly, to conduct it so that, of over 400,000,000 inhabitants of the English world-empire, over 300,000,000 continued to be robbed of English civil rights. Under the second Labour government, some 60,000 to 70,000 Indian workers, peasants and intellectuals were arrested for fighting for Indian independence, and the Meerut prisoners of British imperialism continued to be incarcerated.
The Labour government has so conducted England’s foreign policy that, after one year of “labour” government, even Vandervelde felt himself compelled to express his disappointment at the lack of pacifist activity on the part of the Labour Party.
Anybody maintaining that the ways of German Social-Democracy and the English Labour Party are fundamentally different — as has frequently been maintained by numerous Continental social-democrats — should turn his eyes to India, where the methods of Zörgiebel were practised on a gigantic scale under the Labour government. He should also recollect the statements made in 1930 by the present opposition member of Parliament and former Colonial Minister of the “Labour” government, Mr. Benn. This Mr. Benn answered his own question:
“In such cases as in India, what is the duty of a government?” as follows. “The duty of a government is — to govern.”
When the “left” Brown proceeded to supplement Benn’s question by the question: “But what is the duty of a Labour government?” the social-democratic Minister thereupon replied, with a clarity that could not have been surpassed by either Severing or Zörgiebel; amidst applause from both Conservatives and Labourites, as follows:
“The duty of a Labour government is also to govern.”
And he left his hearers in no doubt that by the “governing” of the “Labour” government was meant by no means a governing of the capitalists, but the governing of the colonial peoples and the English working class.
If to-day MacDonald is no longer the leader of the Labour Party, but a “National Labourite” and the head of a coalition government containing an overwhelming majority of conservatives, still, he has surely not forgotten the plaudits of his former Party that followed a speech in which he declared that the Labour government “may not yield to force” in India, “since this would be contradictory to the principles of democratic government, and to the responsibility of representatives of the people.”
These are by no means the last “German words” of an English leader of the Second International.
Just as German Social-Democracy has presented Hörsing and Otto Strasser to German fascism, and Japanese Social-Democracy the “labour leader,” Akanutchie, to Japanese fascism, so the Labour Party has brought forth Sir Oswald Mosley and his fascist party from its ranks. The Labour government of MacDonald prepared all the measures that the National government of MacDonald has put into operation. The former has, by its tactics, prepared the victory of the Conservatives in no slight degree, just as German Social-Democracy paved the way for — Papen, Schleicher and Hitler.
till now the most typical Fascist country, whose leader, Mussolini, despite his “southern race,” is acknowledged even by Hitler as his master.
Prior to the victory of fascism in Italy more than ten years ago, Italian Social-Democracy had been unable to realise collaboration with the bourgeoisie in the form of participation in the government. The revolutionary upsurge, which rendered the resistance of Social-Democracy’s worker members to open collaboration of the classes extremely strong, contributed to prevent this. Social-Democracy had to support the bourgeois governments under cover of oppositional phrases. The leaders of Italian Social-Democracy have subsequently done public penance several times for having neglected to play the part of Noske, and for having thereby engendered the Mussolini required by the bourgeoisie as an executioner of the working class. When German Social-Democracy preened itself — as in the highly embellished speech of Wels at the latest party conference — on Germany’s being “no Italy,” it was actually boasting that German Social-Democracy as distinguished from its Italian colleagues — had shown no timidity in looking after the affairs of its own bourgeoisie within the state-apparatus itself.
The disarming of the working class before Fascism is, however, pursued by social-democracy in different ways.
One of these ways is the method employed by Noske, Severing and Wels, that of the brutal force of militarism, of police provocation and of open confiscation of the workers’ weapons by the state-apparatus. Another method is that which we observed in Austria, where Otto Bauer and Julius Deutsch had the revolutionary minority of the working class disarmed by the Social-Democratic troops, and, in addition, surrendered the weapons of the majority of the working class to the bourgeoisie. Besides these, however, there are still other methods, among them one which might almost be designated as the christian method; this was employed by the Italian Socialists. As we know, the Italian Socialists worked in close proximity to the Romish Pope. It is, therefore, no wonder that Filippo Turatti (now dead), a leader of the Second International, on April 26, 1921, after six months’ raging Fascist terror, gave the following counsel to the Italian small peasants for the “struggle” against Fascism:
“Do not let yourselves be provoked. Give no opportunities to the Fascists; do not reply to their insults. Be good, be patient, be holy. You were so for thousands of years; be so to-day! Endure, forgive, even now!
Turatti addressed this letter to Barutta, Mayor of Violanti, at a time when Mussolini’s Fascists did not yet number one tenth of those workers who were organized in trade unions under social-democratic leadership, and when 138 Social-Democratic deputies regarded abuse of the thirteen Communist deputies as their main task in the Italian Parliament.
On August 3, 1921, ensued the publication of the agreement arrived at by the Fascists and the reformists. This agreement was a real non-agression pact between Fascists and social-democrats, in which the social-democrats repudiated all anti-Fascist action, and, in particular, the mass organization of workers hostile to Fascism — Arditti del Popolo. In regard to this, the notorious par. 5 of the agreement reads as follows:
“The Socialist Party of Italy declares that it has nothing in common with the organization and activity of the Arditti del Popolo.” Directly after the March to Rome, when the Italian bourgeoisie had delivered governmental power into the hands of Mussolini, Italian social-democracy coined the words for Wels’ speech by declaring:
“We remain at our post and say to the toilers: Preserve your solidarity; hold your peace; avoid provocations. Wait, till the hostile wave has passed by.”
A name that will not be forgotten is that of D’Arragona, the leader of the Italian trade unions, who has shown the General Federation of German Trade Unions the way. He went openly to Fascism, and, on May 22, 1924, just before the murder of the Social-Democrat Matteoti, gave the following statement on Mussolini to the press:
“He (i.e., Mussolini) pursues the policy of a great philosopher. He knows the masses, the complex soul of the masses. I have spoken twice to Mussolini since he came to power. He has proved this to me. Mussolini — I repeat — knows the masses well enough to be able to pursue a proletarian policy.”
Under Fascist dictatorship, the reformists excluded the Communists and revolutionary workers from the trade unions, just as the German Social-Democratic leaders continue to denounce the Communists to Hitler. Nevertheless, the Fascists in Italy have dissolved the reformists trade unions, as well as the Social-Democratic Party.
Should anyone seek to discover a contradiction between the two facts that Social-Democracy prepared and serves Fascist dictatorship, yet is maltreated, dissolved, and subjected to “assimilation” by the Fascists, he should not forget that, under the capitalist’s Fascist concentration of power, this is not only the fate of Social-Democracy and the reformist trade unions. In Italy the Catholic People’s Party, the party of the so-called “Popolari,” was persecuted in just the same way as the Social Democratic Party. In Germany the National-Socialists are in process of subjecting all bourgeois parties to assimilation such as the reformist trade unions have experienced. The persecution of the Social-Democratic Party is nothing but a method of assimilating it with a baton.
Acordingly, has German Social-Democracy’s path, perchance, been other than that of Italian Social-Democracy? No one can say it has. The sole difference lies in the fact that German Social-Democracy’s present time under the Hitler dictatorship has been somewhat quicker than that which Italian Social-Democracy previously beat on its open march to Mussolini.
The Socialist Party of Poland will now play a bigger role in the Second international, since it works in a country that adheres to the system of French military alliances, and is therefore a “natural” ally of the French Socialists against the German Social-Democrats. It merits that its deeds should now be brought forth from their narrower national confines into an international light.
The P.P.S., preceded German Social-Democracy, along the road of an open support of fascism. To-day it excels in many respects its founder, Pilsudski; the fascist dictator of Poland, who takes the Jews under his protection in Germany, but organizes Jewish progroms in Poland. The P.P.S. not only supports the police actions against the Communists in Poland; it also supports the murderous terror of the Hitler gangs against the Communist Party of Germany.
We know no press organ anywhere in the world — those of the Swastiklers excepted — that has essayed plausibly to represent Goering’s Reichstag incendiarism in the way the P.P.S. has done. The P.P.S.’s Cracow organ, Napred (Forward), erected a giant monument of shame to Social-Democracy, when it declared on March 1, 1933
“The setting on fire of the Reichstag by the Communists reveals the horrible role of Communism in modern history .... There is method in this Communist madness, in setting fire to the Parliament just at the decisive moment of the struggle between the parliamentary democratic system and the Hitler dictatorship. This is a historical symbol, that discloses the whole evil essence of Communism.”
But not merely Pilsudski has been excelled by this Social-Democracy; it has surpassed even the parliamentary fraction of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which, as is well known, refused the request of the Communist fraction excluded from parliament to present a declaration of the Communist deputies, in which the incendiary provocation was repudiated.
This Party, the P.P.S., co-operated with Pilsudski in 1920 in waging the Polish war against the Soviet. In 1926 it supported Pilsudski’s fascist coup d’état. Its leader, Daszinski, has published the book, Pilsudski — A Great Man. It, the P.P.S., still supports the fascist, semi-military organization Strelez (Rifleman), which constitutes Pilsudski’s mass organization. It itself organized the strike-breaking bands and murder gangs (the so-called “Bojuski”) against the revolutionary movement of the workers; these gangs in no way fell short of Hitler’s Storm Troops, and only had to be dissolved because they developed into “bands of robbers” of quite the usual kind, and thus endangered the private property of individual capitalists.
This Party has played and still plays “opposition” to Pilsudski, in the way that Wels has done and still does against Papen, Léon Blum against Daladier and Lansbury against MacDonald.
In 1931, after a number of its leaders, together with their bourgeois and big peasant coalition rères been arrested, and had been mocked and spat upon in the Brest-Litovsk prison by the officials of the Republic, one of the most prominent leaders of this party, Liebermann, defended himself, his party and his coalition comrades in court, as follows:
“The opposition deputies have taken upon themselves all reports on the Estimates, and have worked day and night on the State Budget. We have understood the requirements of the country; we have not desired revolution; we have hoped that even up there (i.e. Pilsudski) the situation would be finally and conclusively understood.”
If Léon Blum has translated the arguments for the French Socialists’ “opposition” posture from the German of a Breitscheid into French, then the oppositional explanations of the P.P.S. deputies are translations of the speeches of Blum and his French colleagues into Polish. On February 16, 1933, when the P.P.S. fraction voted in the Senate against the Enlistment Law, the P.P.S. leader, Dembski, gave the following reason for this vote:
“The P.P.S., which voted in the Diet against the Enlistment Law, has demonstrated during the whole period of Poland’s restoration, and subsequently, when in 1920 (i.e., during Pilsudski’s and the French Marshall Weygand’s anti-Soviet war — B.K.) Poland was in difficult circumstances, that it sacrifices its blood for her independence. To-day, when clouds are again gathering over the international arena, and the menace of Hitler is so great, we see no adequate guarantees in the existing government ... therefore we vote against the government’s legislation....”
If the fascist Pilsudski can be such a solid ally of democratic France, why, then, cannot the openly social-fascist people of the P.P.S. be worthy allies of the “pacifist” Blum? That Blum can “understand” this tactic of the P.P.S. better than the similar tactic of Wels in regard to Hitler, only shows that he possesses a proper social-fascist understanding of the interests of French imperialism.
Is Social-Democracy in
any better than those Social-Democracies we have previously considered? Nobody has yet asserted that the Czechoslovakian Social-Democracy, or its fraternal German party in the same country, has been any more radical than the party in the German Reich; on the contrary, they have spent every minute of the entire post-war period on class collaboration. In Czechoslovakia, the serious fascization tendencies are represented, not by the adventurer Gaida, formerly one of Kolchak’s generals and Masaryk’s Chief of the General Staff, but by the clique that surrounds Masaryk in the Prague Hradzhin. These “fortress fascists” (who to-day give effect to their fascist measures under the slogan: “Defence of democracy even by the methods of fascism”) base themselves first of all on the Sokol organizations, on the former legionaries that were the shock troops of Russian counter-revolution in Siberia, and further on Social-Democracy’s coalition comrades, the Czechoslovakian National-Socialist Party.
The Social-Democratic athletic organizations, which were mobilized in 1919 against the Red Army of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, and were armed against the workers during the strike of December, 1920, in Moravia, form, as it were, the auxiliary troops of the Sokol and legionaries’ associations.
On one occasion, after gendarmes had shot down the workers, the Social-Democratic Minister for justice, Meissner was asked at a conference of Social-Democratic women how the government could tolerate this sort of thing. His answer was as follows:
“We want no Kerenskiade in our country; we tolerate no weakness. For he who demonstrates his strength is ultimately the victor.” Espousal of a “strong state” is common to fascists and Social-Democrats alike. Often enough the Social-Democratic ministers in the coalition government have demonstrated their strength — to be sure, against the workers. For three to four years they have, through their gendarmes, organized a blood-bath whenever a considerable strike of industrial or agricultural workers has occurred. The revolutionary workers’ press is gagged by the Social-Democratic Minister for justice in exactly the same way as it was by Braun and Severing in Germany.
It only remains to say that the Czechoslovakian Social-Democracy is the party that stands firmest on the ground of the Versailles system of robbery, and supports with all its energy the warlike preparations of Czech imperialism. The German Social-Democrats in Czechoslovakia, who have likewise a representative in the government, vote no less decisively in favour of these warlike preparations. Czechoslovakian Social-Democracy has direct and very close connections with French and Czechoslovakian armament capital; in common with the Foreign Minister, Benes, it pursues without reservation the foreign policy of French imperialism, adhering to it through thick and thin.
To assert that this Social-Democracy is going a different way from German Social-Democracy, or that it takes a different stand in regard to its own capitalists, such assertions are beyond the temerity of even the Social-Democrats in the Second International.
Nor are matters otherwise in
where the mass movements of the workers, and small peasants are drowned in blood by a government, three Ministers of which are Social-Democrats.
They secured the passing of the Law for the Protection of the Republic, by virtue of which more than 400 workers and peasants have been shot and hundreds of organizations of revolutionary workers have been prohibited since April, 1931. The Law for the Protection of the Republic is enforced with the approval of the Social-Democratic Ministers, as was the case in Germany under Severing. The Communist newspaper Mundo Obrero was banned, since it opportunely disclosed the preparations of the monarchist generals for a putsch. Then, when General San Jurjo actually staged the putsch, it was quelled, not by the state machinery, but by the revolutionary workers, the Communists, who disarmed his band; by way of thanks for this, however, they were manhandled by the republican police.
In cynicism, too, the social-fascists of Spain are a match for their German colleagues. The government drowned in blood a movement of the revolutionary agricultural workers of Casa di Vijesas, evincing a brutality which surpasses that of Noske, Severing and Zörgiebel.
The Social-Democratic parliamentary fraction thereupon expressed its confidence in the government of the bourgeois and landlord bloc. The leader of the Social-Democratic Party, Pristo, one of the most highly esteemed “grandees” of the Second International, made the following statement, according to the Social-Democratic Journal La Lun, in Barcelona on March 5, 1933, anent this deed of blood
“The killing of these men was not a matter of the determination and the will of the government; for they waged an armed struggle against it for hours and days together. Had they given themselves up, we should have been magnanimous to them; our magnanimity is proved. We should have saved them from death, as we saved General San Jurjo” (the leader of the monarchist putsch — B.K.). (Emphasis mine — B.K.).
The notorious Associations Law, of April 8, 1931, is also the work of the Spanish socialists; in accordance with this, every strike of which fourteen days notice has not been given to the Governor and which is not sanctioned by him, may be declared illegal and the trade union organization of the strikers may be prohibited. By virtue of this law, the revolutionary trade unions of Seville were suppressed for the duration of three months, from May to August, 1931. This occurred at the very time that the monarchists could prepare their putsch undisturbed. By virtue of this law, local groups of the reformist trade unions were also dissolved. Just in the last few months the fascist menace has been growing in Spain at a tremendous pace; the Social-Democrats, however, to cover the fascist onrush and pacify their own following have already devised an “anti-fascist racial theory.” In the newspaper El Sozialista March 16, 1933, they announce:
“The racial spirit of the Spanish is hostile to all dictatorships; this, then, is another reason why fascism cannot force its way into Spain.”
Primo de Rivera over a period of years proved precisely the contrary of this thesis by setting up and exercising in Spain the most naked military fascist dictatorship. This “insignificant fact,” however, does not exist for the Social-Democrats, any more than does the swiftly growing fascist movement.
The best method of struggle against proletarian revolution — and this struggle is the historical mission of Social-Democracy in Spain, too may be summarily expressed by the slogan: Against proletarian revolution — the rifles; against fascism — the racial spirit.
In this way the Spanish proletariat is living most surely led along the path already trodden in Germany.
Even under a microscope it would be very difficult to perceive “tactical differences” between German and Spanish Social-Democracy. To make such differences perceptible, at least a giant spotlight would be necessary.
We will refrain from piling up further examples. We will pass by a whole series of Social-Democratic parties. Merely by reason of the concrete examples we have adduced, the following fact is now established:
It is sheer fraud for the Social-Democratic leaders to attempt now to trace the cause of the crisis in the Second International in the attitude of German Social-Democracy towards democracy and fascist dictatorship, and explain the break-up of the Second International by differences of opinion.
Is it the last time that a Social-Democratic party — as at present in Germany — has capitulated to fascist dictatorship, delivered the working class into its hands and offered to come to an understanding with it?
By no means! This is not the first case, no, it is not even the most obvious case, although, owing to its international significance, it is the case that has created the greatest sensation.
Does not the Social-Democratic Party of Hungary also belong to the Second International, and was it not the first — to say nothing at all of its treason during the proletarian revolution and its agreement with Horthy and Count Bethley in 1924 — to give the signal for the hangman’s work of Horthy, by publishing the following in its central organ Nepszava (People’s Voice) on October 20, 1919, with the object of inciting the tribunals of hangmen to proceed against the proletariat:
“In numerous cases, we have already expressed our opinion that it is impossible to oppose the punishment of individuals who have committed crimes during the dictatorship (during the dictatorship of the proletariat). Whoever sins against the state and society must be brought before the courts.”
This was written at a time when the present leader of the Social-Democratic Party of Hungary and participant in the congresses and deliberations of the Second International, Karl Peyer, was a minister in Horthy’s government of hangmen. Under his ministry, not only were Communists hanged en masse, but even the writer of the above-quoted article of incitement against the Communists, Bela Somogyis, the editor of the Nepszava, was foully murdered by a special detachment of militant fascists.
Who in the Second International has seen fit to protest against such “trifles” in the matter of the social-democratic attitude to fascism?
Is it an accident that the military fascist dictatorship of the hangman, King Alexander, has prohibited all parties in Jugoslavia, even Serbian bourgeois parties, yet “tolerates” the section of the Second International? The Jugoslav Social-Democracy is the strongest support of the Serbian fascist general’s dictatorship.
Was not Bulgarian Social-Democracy an active participant in the fascist coup d’etat of Zankov? Was not the most prominent leader of this Party, Pasbuchov, a candidate for the position of prime minister and a pathfinder for the fascist “revolution?” Did not another leader of this Party, Dimo Kasakov, become a member of the fascist Zankov’s murder government?
Moreover, has anyone read a single word in the official or semi-official publications of the Second International, has anyone received as much as a slight hint from them, to the effect that, in view of the participation of Bulgarian Social-Democracy in the open fascist government, the question would be raised, at least theoretically, of the “limits” to the affirming of the state by the Social-Democratic parties?
No one has done so. For Social-Democracy, in the period of the post-war crisis of capitalism and of proletarian revolutionary movements, there is no limit to its support of the bourgeois state, the bourgeoisie and the allies of the bourgeoisie against proletarian revolution, no matter whether these allies are Prussian Junkers, feudal holders of broad acres, or Chinese Mandarins.
Social-Democracy; has become, to its inmost being, a social-fascist party since the capitalists, by “fascizing” the state, began and have continued to seek a way out in the preparation of imperialist war and of military intervention against the Soviet Union, and continued this. Social-Democracy, whose historical mission has become the holding-down, the repression of the socialist revolution, the struggle against proletarian dictatorship, inevitably becomes, to its dying breath and to the end of the road, a bosom companion of the capitalists. Herein lies the development of Social-Democracy: from opportunism past social-chauvinism — to social fascism.
The case of Wels only shows this in a more glaring light. It is not merely an individual case; it is typical of the manner in which Social-Democracy, in definite historical situations, acts, will act and must act in all countries.
Such a Social-Democratic party may support its capitalists against the proletarian revolution by all means of deception, murdering workers and provocation, not one of its fraternal parties of the Second International will see anything blameworthy or reprehensible in this, so long as this policy does not affect the interests of the capitalists of such a fraternal party. When that happens, however, the affability comes to an end!
Driven by the necessity of duping the workers in their own countries with democratic phrases, and of selling themselves to their bourgeoisies as dearly as possible, individual Social-Democratic parties, or their leaders, may deem such a capitulation to fascism as that of German Social-Democracy to be inexpedient, or a hasty anticipation of events, as Léon Blum has written. But this is certain: it is not the relationship of Hitler to the German proletariat, but the relationship of Hitler to France and to her allies (Poland, the little Entente, etc.), that makes the attitude of German Social-Democracy towards Hitler intolerable to the French socialists.
Here, in the domain of the relationships between states, but not in the domain of relationships of Social-Democracy to the bourgeois state, to the question: democracy or dictatorship, the underlying causes of the crisis in the Second International must be sought.
To this chapter on the tail of the Second International we have still to add the tail end: Monsieur Leon Trotsky and his world-redeeming, counter-revolutionary sect, which stands outside the working class. What Hitler has not succeeded in doing, Trotsky would like to achieve he would fain make an end of the Communist Party of Germany and obliterate it completely. He accuses Vandervelde of “hysteria,” when the latter gives expression to his fear that the tactics of the Executive Committee of the German Party in regard to Hitler are driving Social-Democracy into the abyss. Trotsky tries to persuade the leaders of the Austrian Social-Democrats that they should wrest power from Dollfuss in a revolutionary way for the purpose of restoring “democracy.” But the Communist Party of Germany, the Party that day by day wages the most self-sacrificing and most heroic struggle, he will have none of. This, however, does not prevent him from giving his sectarian fraternity counsel, for which Hitler’s police themselves proffer him grateful thanks. This is what he says:
“We will put forward in the Communist cells the demand not to circulate the bad official literature, to boycott the apparatus, to break off connections with the Central Committee. It is clear that we will carry out all this tactfully and reasonably, with regard to the degree of development of the cell members, as well as to the circumstances.”
Truly, we have here a model for the activities of the state police, detailed by Hitler to practise provocation work in the illegalized Communist Party of Germany.
1. Socialist Party of Poland.
Next: VII. Arms Clash — Internationalism Vanishes