From The Militant, Vol. 4 No. 30 (Whole No. 89), 7 November 1931, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The dramatic and gigantic convulsions of world capitalism are at present unfolding over a far vaster scene than that of Germany. All attention is converging on England. However, from the point of view of the revolution, the German field must not be lost sight of for a single moment. For the economic reserves of British imperialism are incomparably greater than those of Germany, which have been dilapidated and wiped out by the war. Besides, and that is the main factor as proven by the everyday experiences, no Communist party exists in reality in England; while in Germany, despite all the mistakes, we have a Communist party that counts as a serious factor.
Nevertheless, the internal situation in Germany is not devoid in important events these last few weeks. Above all. there is the reappearance of the National Socialists on the political arena, as expressed on the one hand, by their return to parliament and, on the other, by extra-parliamentary actions. Thus, on the Jewish New Year the National Socialists organized a veritable little pogrom, similar to their attack on the shop fronts last year. The measure taken against them are of no account, the ring leaders were not even summoned to court. We see therefore, that in view of threatening weather, the bourgeoisie is once more forced to utilize the National Socialists after discarding them for six months, and despite the internal successes of the Bruening policy, it is obliged to consider once more seriously the prospect of Fascist arms.
At the time when the bourgeoisie withdrew the Fascists from parliament and the great strike struggles showed that the trade union bureaucracy was still quite sufficient to “pacify” the working class, we characterized this as an “honorable” retreat of the National Socialists, as a clever economy action of the bourgeoisie which only nourishes its bloodhounds to the degree to which it needs them – while several panic sowers raved about an approaching Fascist putsch. And in the same manner, while Thaelmann bragged about the “decomposition” of the Nazis we maintained that they would return, because neither the objective factors (the crisis, ruin of the petty bourgeoisie) nor the subjective factors (unsound policy of the C.P., the state of division and indecision of the proletariat) had disappeared. Experience has proved our contentions to be correct. In the meantime, fascism has gone through several transformations in its structure (“legalization”) which makes its dependence on finance capital, if possible, even more apparent than before and which has made the road toward coalition still more accessible than was previously the case.
On the other hand, Bruening is constantly making attempts to extend his base, since his position is extremely precarious. The extra-parliamentary defeat at Geneva was this time quite complete. Despite this, German capitalism has as yet been reluctant to capitulate, it still hangs on to its program: equal rights, instead of subordination to the other capitalist robbers. This position is possible only due to the incessant and furious attack on the standard of living of the working class, due to the unlimited and unheard of support granted to the crippled private enterprises by the state. With this aim in view, the different provinces, Prussia and Saxony among others, have issued for their part, decrees that grant the reduction of salaries for the functionaries, layoffs, tariff increases, the suppression of the budget for cultural subsidies, layoffs of teachers, reduction of pensions, in short, all the measures that go under the name of national self-defense. Simultaneously, there has been a new, violent attack against the working class.
On the occasion of the mutiny of the British sailors, which produced great enthusiasm among the German workers, more than half of the Communist papers have again been proscribed. In addition, Bruening has ordered the creation of special tribunals. This is very significant among other preparations for the winter, since a great number of militant revolutionists have already been arrested. These events, the unadmitted defeat of the referendum and the directives of the E.C. have forced the party to change its course. This expressed itself also in a change in the personnel. Instead of Thaelmann, the notorious Heinz Neumann is now being played up. In any case, it is surprising (and after all the years of the “third period” it is even unbelievable) that offers of discussion are made to the socialist leaders at public mass meetings, which has not failed to produce an embarrassing effect on these people, who have taken recourse to the vilest sort of police tactics. In replying to the program of “National Self-defense” with concrete counter-proposals, with the program of the “Red Self-defense”, we find a crying contradiction to the practice pursued up to the present by the party. In the same way, at the last congress of the Red Trade Union Opposition, there was no longer any talk of the creation of new trade unions, but rather the work in the Free Trade Unions was stressed. But what is unfortunate about all these healthy attempts, is the fact, that for reasons of prestige the former policy cannot be liquidated and continues in existence altogether inorganically side by side with the latter and in contradiction to it.
The social democracy has likewise been forced to take a much greater political initiative. And it cannot be denied that it employs a certain aptness in doing this. It is struggling persistently and even resorts to old articles by Engels to justify its theory of the “lesser evil”.  It is particularly occupied with an intense discussion on Russo-German relations, for the present as well as after the revolution. It denies that Russian credits would have any effect in obtaining work for the German workers, bringing the most ridiculous arguments against them, which shows what a tremendous propaganda force Communism possesses and to what degree the Opposition was justified when it proposed, two years ago, the slogan (the slogan of large, long-term credits to the Soviet Union – Ed.), which the party characterized as “counter-revolutionary”. Under that same angle, the socialist party is also carrying on its agitation on “Is a Soviet Germany Possible?”, still “proving” in a dishonest and inept manner, that a Soviet Germany would not be able to get sufficient economic support from Soviet Russia.
All this in reality only proves in what an extraordinary dilemma the Socialist party already finds itself. It is unfortunate that even the leadership of the C.P. is forced to recognize the fact that its members in the factories are incapable of facing this question, simple as it actually is. This is the punishment for the education carried on in the Stalinist spirit and in the sermons on the development of the revolutions in the “national” framework during the last few years.
While we are writing these lines, a very important crisis is taking place in the Socialist party. The leadership of the party has put the alternative before the opposition to cease all practical activity or to face expulsion. This crass measure is undoubtedly explained by its fear of the winter. The leadership wants in advance to deprive all eventual rebellions of an organizing center. How can all this end up? The policy of the C.P. during the last few years prevents this opposition from turning toward the Communists. If it does not capitulate it will be forced to create a new centrist party.
Such a party is historically outlived in Germany and the historic failure of the Two-and-a-Half International will also always serve as an enormous obstacle to such innovations. On the other hand, the tendency in favor of such a party is very strong.  This is due to the fact that many have forgotten or have not at all gone through the experience of the Independents, whereas the mistakes of the C.P. exist before the very eyes and in the memory of all. Such a centrist party will naturally lead to a great confusion and will be a great obstacle in the development of the German revolution.
In conclusion, I want to give another example that illustrates vividly the physical decline of the German working class under the crisis and under the yoke of the decrees. The German professors who up to now have been so proud that Germany outnumbers France in jobless and cannon fodder, are emitting cries of indignation and despair. For the first time, the percentage for the number of births in Germany has fallen below that for France. While in France there are 18.1 births per 1000 inhabitants, there are only 17.5 per 1000 in Berlin.
1. Referring to the support (“toleration”) given the Bruening government in view of the “greater evil” – prospective fascist domination. – Ed.
2 In the next issue of the Militant we will bring an article dealing with the developments of this tendency and with creation of the new centrist “Socialist Labor Party”. – Ed.
Last updated: 15.2.2013