August Bebel September 1908

“An Explanation”

Source: A. Bebel, “An Explanation,” (Letter) Justice, 19 September, 1908, p.7;;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

The following is by Hyndman followed by Bebel’s explanation. It is finally followed by Hyndman’s view of the letter. – ERC

The German Socialists says Bebel consider that there are no grounds on which a war between Germany and England could be justified. Yet he significantly adds “that such a war may break out in the course of time I hold to be quite possible.” So heavy is the burden of armaments on the nations that Herr Bebel fears they may provoke the very catastrophe they are intended to prevent. No impartial man can deny that a large share of the responsibility for this burden, whose weight increases every year, rests upon Germany. A powerful army is in the existing state of the world as necessary to Germany as is a powerful navy to this country. It is the German desire for dominance on sea as well as on land that is forcing up the expenditure on what Mr. Lloyd George calls the “bloody mechanism of human slaughter.” “Daily Chronicle.”

The jingo “Daily Mail,” of Saturday, September is, suggests that Holland and the Dutch Colonies should be handed over to Germany!!!

An Explanation.

The following letter from our comrade Bebel to “Vorwaerts” has been published by all the German Socialist papers: –

“’Vorwaerts’ has remarked in reference to the publication of the letter I sent to the Editor of the ‘Labour Leader,’ comrade Bruce Glasier, that probably I wrote this letter before I knew anything of the arrangements of the representatives of the English Labour Party – I purposely underline these two words – with the Executives of the Berlin Trades Unions.

“I can only say in this connection, that, as a matter of fact, I had not the slightest knowledge of these arrangements when I wrote my letter, and that I only learnt of these arrangements through the information in “Vorwaerts,” of August 23.

“I may add that my letter of August 20 to Bruce Glasier was a private one, in answer to a private letter from him, and that it was not intended for publication is clearly the fact that I distinctly declined to express any opinion in the ‘Labour Leader’ on the Hyndman-Hardie controversy.

“Therefore, I most strongly deprecate the publication of my letter, and I decline any responsibility for any consequences which this publication may have upon the relations existing between the. English comrades.

“I also wish to say that my letter as it appeared in the German papers has been mistranslated. This, doubtless, was due to the fact that it had first been translated into English from the German, and then from the English into German again. Unfortunately, I kept no copy.”

* * *

We ourselves must confess to a feeling of surprise at the letter from Bebel as it appeared in the “Labour Leader” in spite of its non-committal” character. While we may regret that our comrade Bebel was not prepared to express himself freely on the general question apart from any difference of opinion among English Socialists, we cannot but admit, seeing the private character of his letter to Bruce Glasier, that his action has been strictly in accord with the principle of non-intervention in disputes among the Socialists of any nationality, and it is greatly to be regretted that the editor of the “Labour Leader,” in his eagerness to create strife, should have disregarded the ordinary amenities of social intercourse.