Karl Kautsky

The Road to Power

Chapter VIII
The Sharpening Of Class Antagonisms

Simultaneously with the labor union organization proceeded another powerful organization, that threatens constantly to bar the way of the first. This organization is the EMPLOYERS’ ASSOCIATION.

We have already considered the growth of the corporation. Trade and banking associations have long existed. Since the ’70s of the last century these have been seizing power in industry at a constantly increasing rate. We have already referred to the manner in which the centralization of undertakings in a few hands, the road to which was prepared by the advance of the great industry, has received a powerful impetus by the entrance of the corporation. It furthers the expropriation of the small properties that have been invested in shares of stock by the masters of “high finance”, who generally know how to navigate the deep waters of modern economic life much better than the little “savers”. Indeed, in many cases artificial whirlpools and abysses are stirred up for the express purposes of engulfing these little capitalists. The corporation also brings together the small sums invested in shares into a powerful property completely controlled by the masters of high finance who rule these corporations. The corporation finally makes it possible for great individual financiers, individual millionaires, and great banks, to bring numerous industries under their control much more quickly, and to unite them in a common organization before gaining complete possession.

Thanks to the corporation, we have seen employers’ associations shoot up like mushrooms since the ’90s. These take on different forms, according to the state of legislation in the various countries. All, however, have the same object – the creation of artificial monopolies by increasing profits. This is sought partially through raising the price of the products, also through increased exploitation of the consumers, and partially through reduction of the cost of production, which is accomplished either through the discharge or increased exploitation of labor or, more frequently, by both.

Still easier than the joining together into combines and trusts for the maintenance of prices, is the formation of organization for the suppression of laborers. In this latter field there is no competition, no antagonism, all are united. It is not only all the employers in any one branch of industry that feel themselves united by a common interest, but the same bonds unite all those in the various branches of industry. However great their enmity as buyers and sellers in the goods market may be, in the labor market they are all united by the most brotherly ties as purchasers of the same commodity – labor power.

These employers’ associations offer every possible obstacle to the progress of the working class through labor organizations. Naumann has exaggerated their strength in the extracts quoted above. But the victorious progress of the unions is more restricted during recent years. They are everywhere being placed on the defensive. Ever more frequently and more effectively is the strike met with the lockout. The favorable periods in which successful battles may still be fought are more infrequent.

This situation is made still worse by the ever increasing flood of needy foreign labor power. This is a natural and necessary result of the industrial growth that has extended the world market with steamships and railroads until the most distant corners of the earth have been opened for the introduction of the products of capitalist industry. In the newly opened localities these products displace those of domestic industry, especially of peasant house industry. This means upon the one side the awakening of new needs in the dwellers in such newly opened localities, and on the other hand it renders necessary the possession of money. At the same time the destruction of these home industries renders labor power superabundant in such backward localities. This labor power soon finds itself without any occupation in its old home, and certainly without any money earning occupation. The new means of transportation, steamships and railroads, that have brought them the industrial products of other countries, now offer them the possibility of shipping as living return freight to these industrial countries, where wage earning labor is in sight.

The exchange of men for goods is one of the unavoidable results of the extension of the market for capitalist industry. At first it brings the industrial products of its own country from the city to the open country, and draws back to the city not simply raw material and food products, but labor power also. As soon as an industrial country becomes an exporting country it soon begins to import men. So it was at first in England during the first half of the last century when it drew hordes of workers, especially from Ireland.

To be sure, this flood of backward (tiefstehender) elements is a serious obstacle to the proletarian class struggle, but it is naturally and necessarily united with the extension of industrial capitalism. It does not do to do as some “practical politicians” of Socialism wish, and praise this extension of capitalism as a blessing for the proletariat and immigration of foreigners as a curse which has nothing to do with the blessing. Each economic advance is under the system of capitalism united with a curse for the proletariat. If the American laborers wish [to stop] an influx of Japanese and Chinese, then they must also oppose the carrying of American goods in American steamships to Japan and China, for the purpose of building railroads there with American money. One thing is inseparably connected with the other.

The immigration of foreigners is a means of keeping the proletariat down, just the same as in the reduction of machines, the substitution of men by women in industry, or of skilled by unskilled workers. Its oppressive results furnish a reason for hostility, not to the foreign workers, but to the domination of capitalists, and for renouncing all illusions that the rapid development of capitalist industry can bring any permanent advantage to the laborers. All such advantages are ever transient.

The bitter end inevitably comes later. Once more this fact becomes evident.

We have already noticed the great reduction in emigration from Germany during the last twenty years. At the same time the number of foreigners in Germany has increased, as is shown by the following figures:










The enumeration always takes place on the first of December when building and agricultural work is at a standstill. The numerous foreign laborers who work in Germany only during the summer, returning to their homes in autumn, are not included in this count.

The difficulties added to the economic battle by the employers’ associations and the influx of unattached, unorganized, unprotected strange laborers was rendered doubly bitter by the rise in the price of food products.

One of the most important factors in maintaining the standard of life of the European working class was the fall in the price of food products since the ‘70s, to which we have already referred. It raised the purchasing power of their money wages, softened the effect of their fall during crises, and during the time of revival permitted the real wages to rise faster than money wages, in so far as agrarian taxes did not offset the favorable effect of lowering food prices.

But within a few years the price of food products has again begun to rise.

This movement can be most clearly followed in England, where it has been unaffected by any agrarian tariff. According to Conrad’s table the price of wheat per ton was:



















On the other hand, in recent times, according to the quarterly statistics of the German Empire, prices are as follows. In Liverpool La Plata wheat from July to September was






















Naturally the price has varied in the different years with good or bad harvests. But it, nevertheless, appears as if we were now confronted with a rising price of food products, not as a temporary but a permanent phenomenon,

The bankruptcy of Russian agriculture, together with the transformation of the United States from an agricultural to an industrial nation, makes it probable that the gigantic stream of cheap food products which has flowed toward Europe will gradually dry up.

The American wheat production, for example, has not been increasing for several years. It has been as follows


Cultivated Area


Av. Price Per Bushel
Dec. 1. $





























It is thus evident that production is rather decreasing than increasing. Consequently the price shows a decided tendency to increase.

The effect of the stoppage in the importation of food products is made worse by the capitalist combines that artificially raise all prices and freights.

All this is aside from the agrarian tariffs by which the state still further adds to the burden which increasing prices lay upon labour.

Added to all this the crisis which came at the end of the year 1907, bringing with it widespread unemployment and the condition of the proletariat became a frightful one, which it remains today. But it is not to be expected that the end of the crisis will bring with it any such upward movement as marked the period from 1895 to 1907. The high price of food products will remain and rise yet higher. The flood of cheap labor power from without will not cease; on the contrary, it will set in with increased power on the appearance of somewhat improved conditions. Most important of all the employers’ associations will form an even stronger iron ring, which it will be impossible to break by purely union methods.

However important, and indeed indispensable, the unions have been and will remain, we need not expect that they can again so mightily advance the proletariat by purely economic methods as they were able to do during the last dozen years. We may even need to reckon with the possibility that their opponents will gain sufficient power to gradually force them back.

It is worthy of notice that even during the last years of prosperity, while industry was still in full swing, and was even complaining of a lack of labor power, that the workers were no longer able to raise their real wages – that is, their wages as measured not in money, but in the necessaries of life. This has been proven by private investigations in various sections of the workers in Germany. In America we have an official recognition of this fact for the whole laboring class.

The labor bureau at Washington has, since 1890, undertaken each year to investigate the condition of the workers in a number of establishments of the most important branches of industry in the United States. In recent years there were 4,169 factories and work places in which the height of wages, the hours of labor, as well as the domestic budgets of the laborers were investigated, together with the form of their consumption and the prices of the necessaries of life. The figures thus obtained were then compared to show the improvement or deterioration in the condition of the workers.

For each individual article the average of the figures from 1890-99 was taken as 100. The number for, therefore, indicated an improvement of one per cent as compared with the years 1890-99 ; the number 99, in the same way, indicated a deterioration of one per cent.


Weekly Wages of Workmen
continuously employed

Retail Price
of Necessaries of Life
in Workingman’s budget

Purchasing Power
of Weekly Wages









































































First of all this table shows us how much of a basis there is for the so-called “improvement through reform” of the proletariat. The last seventeen years were uncommonly favorable ones for the working class. They were years of such tempestuous upward leaping in America as perhaps may never come again. No working class enjoys greater liberties than the American. None is so “practical” in its politics, freer from all revolutionary theories that might attract its attention from the detail work of improving its condition. Nevertheless, in the year of prosperity, 1907, when the money wage rose an average of 4 per cent above that of the previous year, actual wages were only a trifle higher than in 1890, when business was by no means exceptionally good. To be sure, unemployment and the uncertainty of existence make an enormous difference between a time of prosperity and a crisis; but the purchasing power of the weekly wages of the fully-employed laborer has changed but a trifle from 1800 to 1907.

Money wages, to be sure, have increased quite largely. They fell during the period of depression from 1890 to 1894 from 101 to 97.7, or more than 3 per cent, but from then on they grew steadily, until in 1907 they reached the figure indicated by 122.4, or almost 25 per cent.

The prices of the necessaries of life, on the contrary, fell more rapidly than wages during the period from 1890 to 1896, the decrease being from 102.4 to 95.5, or about 7 per cent, so that the purchasing power of a week’s wages did not fall as fast as the money income. Actual wages, in the period from 1890 to 1896, fell only from 98.6 to 98, or only .6 of one per cent, while money wages had fallen around 3 per cent. From t894 to 1896 money wages rose from 97.7 to 99.5, while the cost of living fell still faster. So it was that iii 1896 the purchasing power of the wages of an average laborer reached the point indicated by 104.2.

His money wages have never since been able to purchase an equal amount. In spite of all prosperity actual wages are LOWER NOW THAN TEN YEARS AGO. And this is what they call a slow but sure rise of the laborers

It is equally worthy of notice that in the very highest intoxication of business, when the capitalists were grabbing their fattest profits, the actual wages of labor did not even hold their own, but had already began to sink. To be sure, the index number indicating money wages increased from r9o6 to 1907 from 118.5 to 122.4, almost 4 per cent, but the price of the necessities of life moved even more swiftly upward from 115.7 to 120.6, or nearly 5 per cent, so that the purchasing power of a week’s wages actually sank one per cent. In reality the relation was much worse. American statistics are not ordinarily fixed up so as to make existing conditions blacker than the facts justify.

All this gives rise to a foreboding that after the passage of the crisis and the reappearance of prosperity, the proletariat need expect no repetition of the former glorious industrial era.

Let it be repeated that this does not mean that the unions will be powerless or by any means superfluous. They will remain the great mass-organizations of the proletariat without which it would be delivered up helpless to be completely despoiled. The change in the situation does not lessen their importance, but only demands that their methods of fighting be transformed. Where they have to deal with powerful employers’ associations they can accomplish little directly, but their battles with such organizations grow to gigantic proportions, and where all concessions , are refused by the employers such conflicts may shake all society and the state and influence governments and parliaments.

Strikes in those branches of industry that are dominated by employers’ associations, and which play an important part in the general economic life tend more and more to take on a political character. On the other hand, opportunities come with increasing frequency in the purely political struggles (for example, battles for the suffrage) in which mass-strikes may be used as an effective weapon.

So it is that the unions are compelled more and more to take up political tasks. In England as in France, in Germany as well as Austria, they are turning more and more toward politics. This is the justified kernel of the syndicalism of the Romance countries. Unfortunately, however, as a result of its anarchistic origin this kernel is buried in a desert of anti-parliamentarism. And yet this “direct action” of the unions can operate effectively only as an AUXILIARY and REINFORCEMENT TO not as a SUBSTITUTE FOR parliamentary action.

The center of gravity of the proletarian movement is again resting, even more than during the last two decades, in politics. In the first place, proletarian interests are naturally directed toward social reform and protection for labor. In these fields, however, there is almost universal stagnation, which with the present relative forces on the basis of the present governmental foundations cannot be overcome.

By stagnation we do not necessarily understand a complete cessation of movement. That is impossible in such a wildly agitated society as ours. There may be, however, such a slow rate of advance, that it amounts to a complete cessation, or even to a backward movement in comparison with the rate of technical and economic transformation and the increase in exploitation. And this unspeakably slow progress must be secured only through great economic battles, carefully prepared for and fought out. The burdens and sacrifices of such battles tend to rapidly increase and ever more to overbalance the definite results.

It must not be forgotten that our “positive” and “reformatory” work not only strengthens the proletariat, but also arouses our opponents to more energetic resistance to us. The more the battle for social reforms becomes a political battle the more do the employers’ associations seek to sharpen the antagonism of parliaments and governments toward the laborers, and to cripple their political powers.

So it is that once more the battle for political rights is being forced into the foreground, and constitutional questions that touch the very foundations of governmental life are becoming live questions.

The opponents of the proletariat are constantly seeking to limit the political rights of the workers. In Germany every electoral victory of the proletariat is followed by threats to substitute a system of plural voting for the present universal suffrage. In France and Switzerland the militia are turned upon the strikers. In England and America it is the courts that are restricting the freedom of the proletariat, since parliament and congress lack the courage to openly attack the workers.

But the proletariat cannot be satisfied to simply guard itself against such attacks. Its condition will be more and more threatened if it is unable to conquer new positions in the national life, which will enable it to utilize the governmental institutions in the service of its class interests. In Germany especially is it in need of this, even more than any other country save Russia. Already the Reichstag suffrage is being turned more and more against the city proletariat. The distribution of districts for the Reichstag elections is today the same as it was in 1871. But we have seen to what extent the relation of city and country has changed since then. While in 1871 two-thirds of the population was in the country and but one-third in the cities, today that proportion is reversed, while the relative representation in the Reichstag remains the same. This more and more favors the open country at the expense of the city. In the last Reichstag election the Socialists received 29 per cent of all the votes cast, but only 10.8 per cent of the representatives. The Center party, on the contrary, received 19.4 per cent of the votes and 26.4 per cent of the representatives, and the Conservatives 9.4 per cent of the votes and 15.7 per cent of the representatives.

These two parties combined did not have as many votes as the Socialists, but they have four times as many representatives. Under proportional voting the Socialists would have had 116 instead of 43 representatives in 1907 and the Conservatives and Center together would have but 115 instead of 164.

The continuation of the present districting is equivalent to giving a plural vote to the more backward portion of the population, and this inequality increases from year to year in the same degree that the city proletariat grows.

Along with this we have a system of casting the votes, especially in the country and the small cities, that subjects the proletariat to a political dependence upon the possessing classes in almost as great a degree as their economic dependence, since the voting envelopes as now used destroys the secrecy of the ballot almost as effectively as the previous system.

To be sure, the removal of this abuse alone would not be sufficient. Of what avail is the increase in our influence, and our power in the Reichstag, when the Reichstag itself is without influence and power? Power must first be conquered for it. A genuine parliamentary regime must be established. The imperial government must be a committee of the Reichstag.

The Reichstag is weakened, not alone because the imperial government is independent of it, but no less from the fact that the empire is by no means a complete united state. Its power is further restricted by the sovereignty of the separate states, by their governments and Landtags, and their narrow particularism. It would be easy enough to deal with the smaller states, did not one mighty mass lay athwart the way – PRUSSIA and her Landtag, elected by the three-class system of voting. The particularism of Prussia, above all, must be broken, her Landtag must cease to be the shield of all reaction. The conquest of secret and equal suffrage for the North German Landtags, and above all for that of Prussia, and the raising of the Reichstag to the position of dominant power, are the most imperative political tasks of the day.

But even if we were able in this manner to transform Germany into a democratic state, that would not be enough to help the proletariat forward. The German proletariat, that already constitutes a majority, of the population, would, to be sure, have the key to legislation in its hand. But this would do it very little good if the state did not possess the rich resources that are indispensable to social reform.

Today, however, all the resources of the state are eaten up by the military and naval expenditures. The steady growth of these expenditures is responsible for the fact that the present state neglects even those cultural undertakings that are of the most imperative interest for the whole population, and not of the proletariat alone, such as the improvement of education, and of means of communication – canals and roads, etc. – undertakings that would greatly increase the productive and competitive power of the country, and are accordingly demanded by the purely business interests of capitalism.

But no large sums can be secured for these purposes, since the army and the navy devour everything, and will always continue to devour everything so long as the present system rules.

The abolition of the standing army and disarmament is indispensable if the state is to carry out any important reforms. Even capitalist elements are coming more and more to recognize this, but they are incapable of accomplishing it. Peace prattle by philanthropists will not take us a single step forward.

The present competitive preparation for war is primarily a result of the colonial policy and imperialism, and so long as this policy is maintained it will do little good to preach peace. The colonial policy involves militarism, and it is foolish to set a definite aim and then try to avoid the means by which it can be attained. This ought to suggest something to some of our friends, who are shouting for world peace and disarmament, attending all the bourgeois peace congresses, and at the same time advocating the colonial policy, although, to be sure, they always advocate an ethical, socialist colonial policy. They are in the sane position as those Prussian liberals of the ‘70s of the last century, who as capitalist politicians feared the revolution, and who sought to secure the unity of Germany, not through a revolution, but by the triumph of the house of Hohenzollern, and at the same time as democratic politicians sought to restrict militarism and refused to grant the Hohenzollerns the military force with which to perform their task. They were destroyed by their own contradictions.

Whoever stands for the colonial policy must also stand for competitive armament. Whoever would check this must convince the people of the useless and indeed of the ruinousness of the colonial policy.

In the present situation that is the most imperative political task of the militant proletariat; that is the “positive” policy that it must follow. Until this problem is solved there is little hope of securing any “reforms” of any importance in the face of the growth of employers’ associations, of the rise in the cost of living, of the flood of low standard workers, of the universal stagnation in all legislative social reform, of the growth of the national expenses under this burden.

The improvement of the right of suffrage for the Reichstag, the conquest of equal and secret ballot for the Landtags, especially of Saxony and Prussia, the gaining of a dominant position for the Reichstag not only over the imperial government, but also over the individual states, these are the special tasks of the German proletariat. The battle against imperialism and militarism is the common task of the whole international proletariat.

Many may think that the accomplishment of these tasks would not bring any great advance. Does not Switzerland offer an example of a state that fulfills all these conditions – complete democracy, popular militia system, and no colonial policy? Yet social reform stagnates in Switzerland and the proletariat is exploited and enslaved by the employers just as everywhere else.

On this point the first thing to note is that the Swiss do not escape the consequences of the competitive armament that is going on around them, but, on the contrary, are industriously entering upon the same competition and spending no small amounts thereby. A portion of the military expenses are borne by the various cantons, but in spite of this the expenditures of the central government are growing by leaps and bounds, as is shown by the following table:



















The appropriations for the military are growing rapidly, as is also the income from taxes. They are as follows:



for militarism

Receipts of Finance
and Tax Departments













If we omit the income and expenditures for the postal and telegraph systems, that nearly cancel each other, we find that in 1907 the income was eighty-three million francs, of which seventy-three million were raised from taxation. The expenses amounted to eighty million francs, of which forty-two million were for the military and six million for interest on the public debt.

So we see that even in Switzerland militarism is swallowing up the lion’s share of the national income, and that its demands are rapidly growing.

No one would be so naive as to assert that we can pass imperceptibly and without a battle from the military state and absolutism into democracy, and out of the conquering imperialism into the union of free peoples by a gradual “growing into.” The whole idea of “growing into” can only arise during a time when it is the common belief that all further evolution will take place exclusively on the economic field, without any change whatever being required in the relation of political powers and institutions. As soon as it becomes evident that such changes are imperatively necessary fur the proletariat if its economic elevation is to proceed further, this compels the recognition of the necessity of political struggle, transfers of power and transformations.

The proletariat must grow mightily in these struggles. It cannot win these battles, cannot reach the above mentioned goals of democracy and abolition of militarism, without itself attaining to a dominant position in the state. So it is that the acquisition of democracy and the abolition of militarism in a modern great nation have wholly different results, than rise at the present time from the old inherited militia system and the republican institutions of the Swiss.

This is all the more true in proportion as these transformations are accomplished exclusively by the proletariat. And there is no prospect of any faithful allies in the coming battles. Hitherto we have reckoned upon allies from the capitalist camp, namely, small capitalists and small farmers.

We have seen how earnestly Marx and Engels for a long time expected that the small capitalist democracy would at least start a revolution with us as they had done in 1848 and 1871. As the democratic policies and parties continued more and more to prove disappointing, we Marxians still continued to believe that great masse; of the little capitalists and small farmers would be drawn to us, and interested in our revolutionary objects. In my articles of 1893 which have already been quoted, these expectations found even stronger expression than in Engels’ introduction written in 1895:

“If this continues, by the end of the century we will have captured the larger portion of the middle classes of society, small capitalists and small farmers, and will have grown to be a deciding power in the country.”

These expectations have not been fulfilled. But we have here another illustration of how we Marxists, with our expectations and our “prophecies,” were wrong when we overvalued the revolutionary sentiments of the small capitalists. We also see how much foundation there is for the reproach that Marxian dogmatic fanaticism drove these elements out of the party. When Engels in 1891 opposed the French farmers’ program, and when I opposed the German one a year later, this was not because we considered the gaining of the farmers as superfluous, but because we considered these methods the wrong ones with which to win them. Since then the party membership in France, Austria, and Switzerland has tried their fortune among the farmers along these lines without success.

The same is true of the small capitalists. It must be granted that so far as large sections of the middle class are concerned, and whatever forms of propaganda have been used, that they are today more difficult to win than ever before.

This conclusion is not based on Marxian “orthodoxy” – we have already seen that Marxism has erred rather by expecting too much than too little at this point – it is the result of bitter experience during recent years.

Our Marxian “dogmatic fanaticism” therefore is not concerned in the matter, except in so far as it makes it easier for us to recognize and understand these experiences, and to lay bare their causes – the indispensable condition to any real “practical politics.”

Here again we find that our “positive” work, as soon as it strengthens the proletariat, by just that very fact, sharpens the antagonism between it and other classes.

Many of us expected that the trusts and combines of the capitalists, together with the tariff policy, would lead the middle class, who suffer most from these things, into our ranks. The exact reverse has actually been the result. The agrarian tariff and the employers’ associations came simultaneously with the trade unions. So it was that the handicraftsmen were simultaneously pressed from all sides. The tariff and the employers’ associations raised the price of the necessities of life and raw material, while the unions raised wages.

To be sure, it was only the money wages and not the real wages that were raised, since prices went up faster than wages. Nevertheless the wage struggle embittered the little bosses, and they came to look upon the employers’ associations and the tariff parties as their allies against the organized workers. The latter and not the tariff and trusts were blamed not only for the high money wages, but also for the rise in prices of raw material and rents, which it was claimed were due to the rise of wages.

The little merchants, again, saw themselves squeezed by the rise in prices since the purchasing power of their customers, mostly laborers, did not increase in the same degree. They turned their anger against the laborers rather than against the tariff and the combines. They did this all the more willingly, the more the laborers sought to escape the effect of the rise in prices by trying to abolish the middle men through co-operatives.

It must not be forgotten that the laborer plays a peculiar role in the market for goods. Everyone else comes to this market, not only as buyer, but also as a seller of products. What the trader loses as buyer of goods in the universal rise of prices he gains by the rise of his own products. Only the laborer comes to the world market as a buyer alone and not as a seller of goods. His labor power is a peculiar sort of goods, with peculiar price laws, so that wages do not automatically follow general changes in price. Labor power is not something apart from men, but is inseparable from and closely bound up with the lives of human beings. Beneath its price are psychological, physiological and historical conditions, that do not affect other wares and which introduce an element of permanence into money wages greater than exists in regard to other goods.

Wages follow price movements, but slowly and only to a certain degree. The possessor of labor power gains more in declines of price and loses more with rising prices than buyers of other products. His standpoint in the goods market is in antagonism to that of the sellers. In spite of the fact that he produces all and consumes but a portion of his product, his standpoint is that of the consumer and not that of the producer. His product does not belong to him, but to his exploiters, the capitalists.

It is the capitalist who appears upon the market as a producer and seller with the product of the labor of the wage worker. The laborer appears there only as the buyer of the means of life.

In consequence of these facts the laborers are placed in antagonism to the sellers and also to the farmers in so far as they are sellers. It is not alone on the question of the tariff on agricultural products, but on many other points, for example, the attempt to raise the price of milk, that the farmers and the laborers stand in sharp antagonism.

The farmers, in so far as they employ wage workers, are embittered by the attempts to raise wages and improve the conditions of the industrial workers. The time of industrial prosperity and the strengthening of the unions and their victories was also the time of insufficient labor in agriculture. Not only the hired men and the hired girls, but even the children of the farmers, were drawn away to industry in ever increasing swarms, seeking to escape the barbaric conditions of life in agriculture. Naturally the accursed Socialists were blamed for this lack of labor power in the country.

So it has happened that increasing sections of those classes of the population that formerly constituted the nucleus of the little capitalist democracy, and energetic fighters in its revolution, and who had been at least somewhat indifferent allies of the revolutionary proletariat, now turned everywhere into its most violent enemies. This was still least true in “Marxian soaked” Germany, and much more in France, Germany and Switzerland.

In the great cities the enmity of the middle classes to the proletariat was increased still more by their antagonistic positions on the questions of imperialism and colonial policy. Whoever rejects the Socialist position has nothing left but despair unless he believes in the colonial policy. It is the only prospect before the defenders of capitalism. But along with it must go the acceptance of militarism and the big navy. Even those sections of the middle class that are not in the direct circle of interest of hand work, retail trade, or the production of necessaries of life, such as the intellectuals are also, in so far as they are not permeated with Socialism, being driven away from the proletariat and its far-seeing vision, by being thrown into the current of imperialism and militarism. All those who, like Barth, Brentano, and Naumann, once looked so favorably upon the trade union and co-operative organization of the proletariat and its democratic efforts, are today defenders of big fleets and expansion. Their friendship for the Socialists lasts only so long, as imperialism and its consequences are not concerned.

These policies seem destined to complete the isolation of the proletariat and thereby doom it to political barrenness at the very moment when its political development is needed more than ever.

Yet it is possible that this very policy of imperialism may become the starting point for the overthrow of the present ruling system.


Last updated on 25.12.2003