Mr. Lerner: Ideas Are Weapons,
But How Use Them?

(14 June 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 24, 14 June 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

(Continued from last issue)

Now, any fool can see that the revolution which was unfulfilled in Germany was the SOCIALIST revolution, that the mistake of the German people was to stop at capitalist democracy and not go on to PROLETARIAN democracy.

This is obvious for two reasons: First, it is almost impossible to have a more democratic constitution in capitalist society than the constitution the Germans made after driving out the Kaiser. Secondly, (this is the joker, and a very grim joker it is) it is precisely because the Weimar constitution was such a ghastly failure that Germany is such a problem to all who are not socialists. No one in his right mind can say “a democratic constitution will solve the problem,” because that is exactly what the democratic Weimar constitution did not do. Faced with this, you can say, as does Cordell Hull: “We’ll police these barbarian Germans,” or you can babble about paranoia and dominant fathers. The socialist says neither.

Joins Revolution to Stab It

Lerner is too sensible to prattle about paranoia. He does not want to say, like Cordell Hull: “Put the whole German nation in a concentration camp.” What to do? He knows that a revolution is on the order of the day so he joins it. “There is an unfulfilled revolution in Germany with which the German people have a rendezvous.” If you have not got a long experience with this particular brand of faker, you would be tempted to turn a welcoming eye and extend a tentative hand. You would be committing suicide. For Lerner is joining the revolution only to stab it in the back.

“There has been that unfulfilled revolution ever since 1848, and again since 1918. Britain, America, France, Russia, China – all have gone through their basically democratic revolutions. Germany and Japan have not.”

In plain words, this enemy of the German PEOPLE tries to insinuate himself into the revolutionary ranks to turn the German PEOPLE back from the socialist revolution into the same Weimar trap that led them to where they now are. “Basically democratic revolutions.” Doesn’t Lerner know that the “basically democratic revolution” in America today is based on Morgan, Rockefeller, du Pont and a dozen others who own or control this country and whose interests have us fighting an imperialist war all over the world? Doesn’t Lerner know that the same situation exists in Britain, and that Churchill says to all the Lerners in the world: “We shall hold our own”?

As well call the Greek slave-owners “basically democratic.” That is exactly what they were not. They were basically slave-owners, just as the democracies of Britain, France and America were and are “basically capitalistic.” Any revolution in Germany which leaves the Krupps, the Stinneses and the great capitalist trusts where they are will ruin the German people, as it ruined them in 1918.

Is Lerner for a revolution which will wipe away these enemies of society and give the German people a chance to create a true, a genuine, a “basically democratic” society, a society of collective ownership, democratic at the best? Not he. Capitalist property in Germany is in danger today. Yes, the German people want to and must fight for their democratic rights, but, if we judge them aright, they will want to go beyond that and wreak a merited vengeance on the capitalist supporters and friends and close associates of Hitler. And who comes rushing to the defense of German capital; who comes saying: “Revolution, of course, but keep it ‘democratic,’ boys, as in America (with Wall St.) and Britain (with The City)”? Lerner, of course, and close behind him, Dorothy Thompson, and Samuel Grafton, and Johannes Steel, some of them fools, some of them fakers, some a mixture of both.

Ideas Are Weapons

Now a reader may say: “But, after all, that may be his honest opinion. Why so hard on him?” Why?

Some years ago, one of the weekly journals ran a series of articles on important books which had influenced our thinking in this generation. Lerner wrote on a book called The State and Revolution, by Lenin. This is how he ends his article:

“No book that has been discussed thus far in this series has been so widely read as Lenin’s. In America it sells in editions of 100,000, in the Soviet Union in editions of millions. Tens of millions have read it all over the world, and their minds have beaten to the rhythm of its logic. Lenin has become the supreme symbol of the revolutionary tradition ...”

Now, do you remember what The State and Revolution is about? From the first page to the last it condemns, it exposes, in excoriates the pseudo-democratic revolution that Lerner recommends for Germany as incapable of solving humanity’s basic needs, and writes page after page showing how the only genuine SOCIAL revolution possible today is the socialist revolution. So Lerner knows. What he is doing is deliberate. He has actually had that essay reprinted in a book called Ideas Are Weapons. Sure they are. It depends on who uses them for what. Here is a practitioner expert in the art of stabbing with one hand while he shakes with the other.

Last updated on 24 May 2015