Karl Kautsky 1909

Letter From Karl Kautsky to Upton Sinclair

Source: Upton Sinclair (pub.): My Lifetime in Letters, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1960, pp. 77ff.
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Berlin Friedenau December 8, 1909
My dear comrade,

I see how difficult it is for a citizen of a relatively free country to grasp fully our situation here. By trying to bring your proposals to discussion here you would do harm to your own cause.

There are two currents in the German Social Democracy. One is opposed to every revolutionary movement, also to using revolutionary means in the case of an outbreak of war.

The other one is revolutionary, but thinks revolutions can’t be made artificially, but only by a spontaneous outbreak of the working population. If there should be such an outbreak in the case of war, we think, it were very useful.

Till now we prevented an open discussion of the matter, because in such a discussion only the opponents of revolutionary measures could speak freely out. The revolutionary people could not speak freely without compromising not only these persons (that were a trifle) but their whole party in the face of the law.

Such a discussion would therefore only help the opponents of such measures and create among outsiders the false impression as if the anti-revolutionists and the patriots were the majority in our party, which is not true.

That false impression was already produced by the few discussions that took place at international congresses. And it is the same with Austria and Russia as with Germany.

So the only effect of a discussion, brought about by you, could be many protests from the anti-revolutionists, that are opposed to your proposals, and very few, if any, and very reserved consents to those proposals. Things would look much worse for you as they really are.

There is a tacit consent between both sides of the party to have no public discussion of our attitude in case of war, as it would be awkward for both sides. Both sides agree in so far, as we all think, without any exceptions, that it is impossible in Germany to prepare and propagate any organized action in case of war beforehand.

We of the revolutionary side are satisfied, when there is no public discussion of the matter, as that would only help the anti-revolutionists.

There is no fair play in a discussion where the one side is gagged.

This letter is of course a confidential one and not to be used publicly.

I am dear comrade

Fraternally yours,
K. Kautsky