Karl Liebknecht
Militarism & Anti-Militarism
I. Militarism

3. Methods and Effects of Militarism

1. The immediate object

We now move on to a special examination of the methods and effects of militarism, and in doing so direct our attention to a paradigm case of militarism, the Prussian-German bureaucratic-feudal-capitalist form – that very worst form of capitalist militarism, that state above the state.

Even if it is true that contemporary militarism is nothing more than a manifestation of our capitalist society, it is nevertheless a manifestation which has become almost independent and very nearly an end in itself.

Militarism, in order to attain its ends, must transform the army into a manageable, flexible and effective instrument. It must raise it to the highest possible level on the military-technical side; in addition, since it consists of men and not of machines and is therefore a living mechanism, it must be filled with the right “spirit”.

The first aspect of the matter finally resolves itself into a financial question; this will be dealt with later. Here we shall go into the second aspect.

Its content has three facets. Militarism seeks to produce and foster the military spirit first off in the active army; then in those groups which become important when, like the reserve and militia, they are used to supplement the army in the case of mobilization; and finally in all the other groups of the population which serve as a base and support for those strata which are to be employed for militarist or anti-militarist purposes.


2. Military pedagogy

The education of the soldier

The true “military spirit”, also called “patriotic spirit” and in Prussia-Germany “spirit of loyalty to the King”, means in brief a readiness at any time when so ordered to strike at the external and internal enemy. In order to produce this spirit the most perfect stupidity is needed, or at least the lowest possible level of intelligence. This makes it possible to drive on the masses like a herd of cattle in whatever direction is dictated by the interests of the “existing order”. The confession of the War Minister, von Einem, that he preferred a soldier loyal to the King, even if he were a bad shot, to one who was less submissive, even if he were a good shot, surely sprang from the depths of the heart of this representative of German militarism.

But here militarism finds itself in an unfortunate predicament. The technique of arms, strategy and tactics now make a significant demand on the intelligence [1], and make the intelligent soldier, other things being equal, the more proficient. [2] For this reason alone militarism in the present day could no longer do anything simply with a crowd of fools. But neither can capitalism make use of such a crowd, because of the economic tasks which have to be performed by the masses and especially by the proletariat. Capitalism is therefore forced by a tragic fate, in order to be able to exploit, in order to be able to extract the highest possible profits – this is its inevitable task in life – to produce systematically on a vast scale among its slaves the very intelligence which, it knows quite well, must bring its own death and destruction. All attempts, through skillful manoeuvring and artful co-operation with church and school, to steer the ship of capitalism between the Scylla of an intelligence so low that it makes exploitation altogether too difficult, and lowers the proletarian to the level of a useless beast of burden, and the Cbarybdis of an education which revolutionizes the heads of the exploited, which everywhere opens the gates of class-consciousness, which is necessarily destructive of capitalism – such attempts are desperate and hopeless. Only the agricultural workers of the region east of the Elbe – who, according to the famous words of Kröcher, are actually the most stupid of labourers, though, it should be noted, they can still provide the Junker with his best workers – now supply militarism on a large scale with material which allows itself to be led like a horde of slaves simply on a word of command. This material, however, can be put to use only cautiously and within definite limits, for its level of intelligence is too low even for militarism.

It is often said that our best soldiers are Social-Democrats. Here is registered the difficulty of the task of providing the army, based on universal conscription, with the correct military spirit. [3] Since mere slavish and abject obedience does not suffice, and is anyway no longer possible, militarism has to use a roundabout way of strengthening the will of its troops in order to create for itself “shooting automatons”. [4] It must bend the will by moral and psychological influence or by force; it must entice or compel it. The principle of the carrot and the stick is applicable here. The true “spirit” required by militarism, in respect first of all of its function against the external enemy, is chauvinistic pig-headedness, narrow-mindedness and arrogance; second, in respect of its function against the internal enemy, it is a lack of understanding and even hatred of all progress, of every undertaking and endeavour which might in any way threaten the power of the class dominant at the time. This is the direction in which militarism must guide the thoughts and feelings of the soldiers, in so far as it wants to lure with the carrot those whose class interests are opposed to all chauvinism and for whom progress should appear as the only reasonable goal until the time when the existing social order is overthrown. It must also not be forgotten that the proletarian whose age makes him liable for military service, although as a rule he is more independent and capable of political insight than the bourgeois of the same age, is not so firm in his class-consciousness.

The system of influencing the troops from the moral and psychological standpoint is a most daring and cunning one, whereby, instead of being separated according to their social class, the soldiers are divided according to their age, in order to create a special class of proletarians of 20 to 22 years of age whose thoughts and feelings will be completely opposite to those of the proletarians in the other, “older” classes.

First of all, the proletarian in uniform is sharply and ruthlessly cut off from his class comrades and his family. This is done by taking him away from his home, which is systematically done in Germany, and especially by shutting him up in barracks. [5] One might almost speak of a repetition of the Jesuit method of education, a counterpart of monastic organization.

Next it is necessary to extend this isolation for as long as possible, a tendency which is only checked by financial difficulties when it cannot find a military-technical justification. This circumstance is for example essentially the reason for the introduction in 1893 of the two-year period of military service in Germany. [6]

Finally it is necessary to make the best possible use of the time available to capture the minds of the trainees. Different means are used to this end. Just as in the case of the Church, all human weaknesses and the senses are put to use in the service of this military pedagogy. Ambition and vanity are encouraged, the military uniform is proclaimed as the most noble dress, the soldier’s honour glorified as especially distinguished, and the rank of soldier trumpeted as the most important and respected; and indeed, it is endowed with many privileges. [7] The authorities speculate on men’s love of finery: in contradiction to their purely military purpose, uniforms are trimmed with colourful tinsel like carnival costumes and cut according to the coarse taste of the lower classes, whom these authorities want to capture. All kinds of petty glittering distinctions, decorations, stripes for good shooting, etc., serve the same base instinct – for showing off and being looked up to. And how much of the suffering of soldiers has been soothed by military music, which, along with the glittering trimmings of the uniform and the pompous military ostentation, is to be thanked for that extensive popularity which our “wonderful army of war” can boast of among children, fools, servant girls and the lumpenproletariat? Whoever has once examined the dubious public which watches parades and the throng which follows the processions of the Berlin palace guard will understand this perfectly well. It is well known in fact that this attraction to the military uniform which is found in certain civilian circles constitutes an important aspect of temptation for the uneducated elements in the army.

All these means are that much more effective the lower the intellectual level of the soldiers, the lower their social position. For such elements are easier to deceive, not only on account of their slight capacity for critical judgment, but also because for them there is a difference between the level of their former civilian life and that of their military position – one need only imagine an American negro [8] or an East Prussian serf suddenly dressed in the “most distinguished” uniform! In this way a tragic contradiction arises: that the effect of these means on the intelligent industrial proletariat, for whom they were first designed, is less than on those elements whom it seems hardly necessary to influence in this direction, at least for the time being, since they already constitute an adequately pliable material for militarism. But the same methods may also contribute to the preservation of the “spirit” acceptable to militarism. The same end is served by the regimental feasts, the celebrations of the Kaiser’s birthday and the like.

When everything has been done to place the soldier to a degree in a state of intoxication, to drug his mind, to fire his feelings and imagination, it is necessary systematically to work upon his powers of reasoning. A system of instruction attempts to cram him with a childish, distorted picture of the world, designed to suit the purpose of militarism. Of course this instruction, mostly given by uneducated mew incapable of proper teaching, does not have any effect at all on the intelligent industrial workers who are often more intelligent than their instructors. It is an attempt to attain an impossible object, resembling an arrow which rebounds on the one who shot it. This was recently made clear to General Liebert by Die Post and by Max Lorenz (whose understanding has been quickened by competition for profit) in regard to the anti-Social-Democratic “instruction” of soldiers.

Hard drilling and the discipline of the barracks, the canonization of the uniform of the officers [9] and non-commissioned officers [10], which in many fields really seems to be legibus solutus and sacrosanct – in short, the discipline and control which clasp the soldier in an iron bond in everything he does or thinks, on or off duty – serve to produce the necessary flexibility and obedience of will. Each individual is so ruthlessly bent, pulled and twisted that the strongest spine is in danger of breaking, and either bends or breaks. [11]

The zealous fostering of the “religious” spirit, which was demanded by a motion of the budget committee of the Reichstag in February 1892 as a special goal of military education, though rejected without prejudice, is also designed to complete the work of military oppression and enslavement.

Instruction and religious propaganda constitute at the same time the carrot and the stick, the latter being used for the most part carefully and in a disguised form.

The most attractive carrot, successfully used as a means of enticement for the formation and placing of the important permanent cadres of the army, is the system of “capitulation”, with the prospect of premiums for the non-commissioned officers [12] and of the “certificate of maintenance in civilian life” [13], which is a very cunning and dangerous arrangement. As we shall demonstrate below, it contaminates our whole public life with militarism.

The whip used by militarism is, however, above all the system of discipline [14], the military law with its rigorous threat to even the slightest opposition to the so-called military spirit, and military justice with its semi-mediaeval procedure, which deals out inhuman, barbarous punishment in the face of the slightest insubordination. Excesses committed by superiors against their subordinates meet, however, with light punishment, while the men’s right of self-defence has been almost completely taken away. Nothing makes one more angry with militarism and nothing at the same time is more instructive than simply reading the military articles and reports of military criminal trials.

To this category belong also the examples of the ill-treatment of soldiers, of which more will be said later. This ill-treatment is not legal, but is nevertheless probably the most effective of all coercive means of discipline used by militarism.

There is an attempt to tame men in the way in which beasts are tamed. Recruits are drugged, confused, flattered, bribed, pressed, locked up, disciplined and beaten. Thus grain upon grain is mixed and kneaded to serve as mortar for the great edifice of the army, stone added to stone, calculated to form a fortress against revolution. [15]

The fact that all these means of enticement, discipline and punishment are weapons in the class struggle becomes obvious if we examine the “Institute for one-year volunteers”. The one-year volunteer, the son of a bourgeois and intended as an officer of the reserve, is generally considered above suspicion where ad-capitalist and anti-militarist, and especially revolutionary leanings are concerned. He is therefore spared being sent away from his home, being shut up in barracks, being instructed and forced to attend church, and even spared a large part of the hard drilling. It is of course only in exceptional cases that he falls into the snares of discipline and military law, and even then mostly without incurring severe punishment. And those who exploit the ordinary soldiers rarely dare, in spite of their great instinctive hatred for everything “cultured”, to attack these volunteers. The training of the officers provides another striking proof of our thesis.

It is of great importance for military discipline that men work together in a mass, within which the independence of the individual is to a great extent abolished. Each individual in the army, like a criminal in a galley, is chained to all the others, and practically incapable of free action. The strength of the others, which is a hundred thousand times greater, prevents him by its overwhelming power from making any independent move. All the members of this mighty machine are subjected, not only to the hypnotic suggestion of those in command, but also to a special kind of hypnotism, mass hypnotism – which, however, is bound to be without effect on an army made up of educated and dedicated opponents of militarism.

In the field of the education of the soldier, the twin tasks of militarism are obviously by no means always satisfied together, but often come into conflict. This applies both to training and equipment. Military training demands ever more imperiously a constant increase in the level of independence of the soldier. But as a “watchdog of capital” he requires no independence; indeed, he must have none (his qualification for suicide must not be denied). In short, war against the external enemy demands men, war against the internal enemy demands slaves, machines. As far as training and equipment are concerned, it is impossible to dispense with the bright uniforms, the glittering buttons and helmets, the flags, parade drills, cavalry attacks and all the other rubbish needed to create the spirit required in the struggle against the internal enemy – but in war against the external enemy these may become quite fatal or simply impossible. [16] This tragic conflict, whose manifold implications cannot be thoroughly dealt with here, has not been grasped by all the well-intentioned critics of our militarism [17], who in their innocence want simply to lay down the criterion for military training.

This conflict of interests within militarism, this self-contradiction from which it suffers, tends to take on a continually sharper form. It depends at any moment upon the relation between political tension abroad and at home as to which of the two contradictory interests gains the upper hand. It should not be forgotten that here lies the germ of the self-destruction of militarism.

When the war against the internal enemy in the case of an armed revolution makes such requirements of a military-technical kind that the dressed-up slaves and machines are no longer able to put down the revolt, then the last hour of coercive rule by the minority, the capitalist oligarchy, will strike.

It is important enough that this military spirit in general means disorder and confusion in proletarian class-consciousness, and that militarism serves capitalism by contaminating our public life with this spirit in every direction simultaneously – leaving aside the purely militaristic contamination of which it is the cause. It does this for example by creating and furthering a feeling of servility in the proletarian in relation to the economic, social and political exploitation to which he is subject, thus retarding as far as possible the proletarian struggle for freedom. We shall have to come back to this point.


Bureaucratic and semi-military organization of the civil population

Militarism seeks neither more nor less than to exert the most lasting and effective influence possible on those who belong to the active army. Next it attempts to arrogate to itself as much power as it possibly can over these persons, for example by a system of control, by a far-reaching extension of military jurisdiction and of the system of military courts of honour, which is even applied to officers in the reserve [18] and to those in positions of command. Especially characteristic in this respect is the subjection to military jurisdiction of men called up before the control committee, something which is claimed by the military authorities for the whole time during which a control committee is sitting. This is a quite open breach of the law. Not the slightest basis exists for the establishment of such a right, and it constitutes nothing less than usurpation. Here must also be mentioned the so-called young men’s defence organizations and military clubs, with their official or semi-military management and their aping of the military dress, fooling and feasting. A most important role is played in the field of military activity by the officers of the reserve, who bring the spirit of the military caste into civilian life and immortalize it. Still more important is the subjection almost without exception of the higher officials of the state and communal administration, as well as of justice and the education system [19], to military discipline, the militaristic spirit and the whole militarist conception of life. Every opposition movement which proves awkward and is not absolutely impossible to suppress is thus eliminated in advance. In this way – in conjunction with the system of military qualification for civilian life, which plays the same role for the subalterns and lower officials – the submissiveness of the civil executive is assured. Care is thus taken that the trees of class justice and the system of class education grow high into the sky of militarism, while the trees of self-government [20] are well pruned. It should also be mentioned here that officers on active service and those in the reserve are forbidden to write publicly. Together with the highly instructive Gädke case, all this is the best evidence that militarism is striving ruthlessly for the spiritual subjugation and centralized control of all those who come within its reach, and is also evidence of its tendency continuously to extend its sphere of influence, whether by legal or illegal means, and of its limitless and insatiable craving for power.


Other military influences on the civil population

A still more important fruit of militarism’s desire for expansion than the nuisance caused by the officers of the reserve is the troublesome system of military qualification for civilian life, which apart from its purely military aim also serves the purpose of sending out a following of loyal and enthusiastic representatives and advocates of the military spirit to all branches of the state and communal administration. At the same time the reliability and readiness of the bureaucratic apparatus which serves capitalism to strike [21] is supposed to be secured, and the “correct” way of thinking, that which “upholds the state”, to be spread among the masses of the population who are especially “in need of education”. This “educational” aim of the certificate of maintenance in civilian life was acknowledged with splendid unanimity and frankness in February 1891 in the German Reichstag by Caprivi [2*], the Imperial Chancellor, and the representatives of the ruling classes. This is therefore the ideal – based on upholding the state – of our popular education, which by chance, after the corporal had to leave the desk, has been embodied in a roundabout way in the non-commissioned officer.

The results of this education are, however, not very great. The poor devil who is “militarily qualified for civilian life” is very badly paid as a lower official. And in the end it may not even be possible to get hold of a German non-commissioned officer pour le roi de Prusse. [22] The eternal problem of buying out the revolution!

In this connection it must be further mentioned that the same means by which the military enthusiasm of the soldiers is produced and maintained – all the tinsel and splendour, for example – are at the same time used to influence in favour of militarism the population outside of the army, including the circles from which the army is recruited, which provide it with its glitter, which have to bear its costs and stand in “danger” of falling to the enemy at home. Haldane, the British Minister of War, was intelligent enough to recognize this during his visit to Prussia in the autumn of 1906. He said that a valuable “phenomenon which accompanies militarism is that through coming into closer touch with the army and with war preparations the nation is educated in prudence and loyalty”. [23]

A quite different means used by militarism to spread its spirit lies in its capacity as consumer and producer as well as in the influence it carries over great state economic concerns of strategic importance. A whole army of manufacturers, artisans and merchants, together with their employees, lives on military work, in that it takes part in the production and transportation of articles necessary for equipping, lodging and maintaining the army, as well as of all other articles used by the soldiers. These parasites on the army sometimes, especially in the smaller garrison towns, impress themselves upon the whole of public life; indeed, the more powerful of them rule like princes over great communities and play first fiddle in the state and in the empire. The influence which they wield, thanks to militarism, enables them at the same time to exploit it with astonishing patience and to box its ears. They repay it – one hand washes the other – by becoming its keenest agitators, driven on, it is true, by their capitalist interest. Who does not know their names: Krupp, Stumm, Ehrhardt, Loewe, Woermann, Tippelskirch [3*], Nobel, the Powder Ring, etc.? Who does not know of the profits taken by Krupp from armour plate, those pocketed by Tippelskirch and the corruption that goes with them, the inflated freight and demurrage charges of Woermann, and the net profits of the Powder Ring, amounting to 100 and 150 per cent, which have lightened the German treasury to the tune of many millions? [24] In Austria especially the suppliers’ swindling caused a great sensation. [25] And every campaign means a golden harvest for the swindlers, for the pack of parasites – not only in Russia. [26] These great men reward militarism, as we have said, in the most Christian way, simply by robbing it, or rather the people. They pour the holy ghost of militarism over “their” workers and everything that depends on them, and wage a ruthless war against revolution. Of course neither these workers nor the great mass of the small army suppliers have a real material interest in the army. In countries which lack a standing army the prosperity and well-being of trade and industry is certainly in no worse a condition than in states which do possess such an army, and those persons employed in military production would be no worse off economically if no army existed. But meanwhile they do not for the most part see beyond the ends of their noses, and humble themselves obligingly to the energetic influence of militarism, so that counter-agitation meets with great difficulties.

As an employer in the great economic concerns (in the supply depots, the preserve factories, the clothing depots, repair depots, arms and munition factories, dockyards, etc.), militarism willingly and without exception delivers up its employees – there were 54,723 of them employed in state concerns by the German army and navy administration on October 31, 1904 [27] – to every kind of reactionary-patriotic demagogy, like that of the Imperial League against Social- Democracy. It also attempts systematically and in the most ruthless manner to further the patriotic-militaristic spirit by means of enticements like titles, decorations, festivals like those organized by the military clubs and – impossible pensions, slandering of the trade unions, and real barracks discipline. [28] The military workshops, more than any other state workshops, constitute the most difficult field for the education of the proletariat.

Of course, the anti-Labour influence has its limits, and the military administration has no illusions in view of the successes achieved by the Social-Democrats, especially among the “Imperial” dock workers. All the threats – even the most childish, to close down the military workshops if the Social-Democratic vote among the workers should continue to increase, threats which were used in the election of 1903 in Spandau – are incapable of hindering the development of class-consciousness as long as militarism pays such niggardly wages to its workers and thus pushes them into the arms of Social- Democracy. One need only recall the frequent movements for higher wages among the workers in the “royal” factories, and the countless conflicts which these workers come into with the military administration, which often take on a lively character [29] for one’s pessimism to disappear.

The railways, post and telegraph are institutions of outstanding strategic importance, no less in the war against the internal enemy than in that against the external enemy. These indispensable strategic factors may, however, be rendered useless for capitalism by a strike, which can lead to a complete paralysis of the military organism. That is why militarism tries so hard to instil its spirit into the organizations of officials and workers in the transport concerns and productive concerns allied to them (railway workshops, coach factories, etc.). And how unscrupulously this aim is pursued (even leaving aside the system of military qualification for civilian life) is shown by the fact that in many states the employees are subjected to military law. It will also be made clear by a brief glance at the political position of these employees in the militarist states, where they are deprived of the right to form trade unions, either by administrative order, as in Germany and France [30], or by special laws, as for example in Italy, Holland and Russia. [31] We must not of course forget that the capitalist state, apart from these militarist interests, has a quite general interest in preventing the employees of the transport organizations from succumbing to aspirations “antagonistic to the state”. But this aim must remain unfulfilled in the long run, however many difficulties it presents in the meanwhile to the labour movement. It is shattered by the low pay and effective proletarian position of the employees of the transport concerns.


Militarism as Machiavellianism and as a political regulator

Militarism makes its appearance first as the army itself then as a system which projects itself beyond the army and clasps the whole society in a network of militaristic and semi-militaristic institutions – the system of control, the courts of honour, the ban on public writing, the reserve officer system, the certificate of maintenance in civilian life, the militarization of the whole bureaucratic apparatus (which in the first place is due to the trouble caused by the reserve officers and to the system of military qualification for civilian life), the young men’s defence organizations, the military dubs and so on. Militarism also makes its appearance as a system which saturates the whole public and private life of the people with the militaristic spirit. The Church, the school, and a certain tendency to cheapness in art, together wit the press, a wretched, venal rabble of littérateurs, and the social nimbus which surrounds “our glorious war army” like a halo – all these work together in a tenacious and cunning manner. Militarism, together with the Catholic Church, is the most highly developed Machiavellianism in the history of the world, and the most Machiavellian of all the Machiavellianisms of capitalism.

The frequently mentioned coup of the cobbler Captain of Köpenick presents us with the catechism of militarist methods of education and their results. The most sublime point in the catechism is the sacred manner in which the whole of bourgeois society regards the officer’s uniform. In the six-hour examination by which this convict put our army, our bureaucratic apparatus and our subjection to Prussia to the test, those under examination passed so brilliantly that even their teachers’ hair stood on end in the face of this quintessence of their pedagogy. No hat of Gessler has ever met with such obliging servility and self-humiliation as the hat of the immortal Captain of Köpenick, no sacred cloak of Trier has found so much credulous devotion as his uniform. This classical satire, whose great effect lies in the fact that it has killed by ridicule the principles of military pedagogy, would similarly have killed off militarism itself to the strains of the world’s laughter, were it not for the fact that militarism – which suddenly finds itself in the strange role of a sorcerer’s apprentice – is as necessary to bourgeois society as our daily bread and the air we breathe. The old and tragic conflict! Capitalism and its mighty servant militarism by no means love each other; rather they fear and hate one another, and have good reason to do so. They regard each other – so independent has this servant become – as a necessary evil, and again there are reasons for this. Thus the lesson of Köpenick, which bourgeois society cannot follow, will remain simply a powerful means of agitation for anti-militarism and for Social-Democracy [32], whose prospects are the better the more militarism brings things to a head.

What the Captain of Köpenick did for militarism in the field of practice by his swindles was done by the invaluable Gustav Tuch at the end of the eighties in the field of honest theory. In his thick and dusty volume entitled The Extended Military State in its Social Significance, he sketched out a picture of the society of the future of which militarism was the heart and soul, the central sun which lighted, warmed and directed everything, the one true “national and civilized socialism”. The whole state was turned into a single barracks, which was the elementary school, the college and the factory for manufacturing patriotic feeling, while the army was an all-embracing organization of strike-breakers. This delightful hallucination of a thousand-year rule of militarism was in fact only methodical madness, but the fact that it was methodical in the way it worked out militaristic goals and methods, free from every restraint in conception, gives it a symptomatic meaning. [33]

Militarism has in fact already become the central sun in one dominant field, as we shall show in more detail below. Around it revolves the solar system of class legislation, bureaucratism, police administration, class justice, and clericalism of all kinds. It is the final regulator, sometimes secret and sometimes open, of all the tactics of the class struggle – not only of the capitalist classes but also of the proletariat, in its trade union organization no less than in its political organization.

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1. Cf. Caprivi’s remarks in the Reichstag on February 27, 1891; likewise those of the war Minister von Kaltenborn-Stachau: “The demands made on the non-commissioned officers have become greater as a consequence of the new armament, the new regulations on training, etc.”

2. Cf. the remarks of the Bavarian General von Sauer made at the end of October 1898 before the National Economic Society in Munich (in Bebel, Nicht stehendes Heer sondern Volkswehr, Stuttgart 1898, p.77).

3. Cf. in this connection the moving complaint of Caprivi in the Reichstag sitting of February 27, 1891.

4. These “shooting automatons” (cf. also Corporal Lück) can however become very dangerous, because of course it may be that one day the mechanism is set in motion by an unauthorized person. Then the bourgeoisie will set up a cry, afraid not only of its own capitalist resemblance to God, but also of its feudal relations, and like the hunter in Struwwelpeter who is himself pursued will cry out in fear: “Please help me, people!”, and complain about the “discipline of the German army being raised to a point where the soldier can no longer use his critical reason”, as the Leipziger Tageblatt and other papers did in the Köpenick case – which of course does not hinder the bourgeoisie, in the perplexity of its position, from keeping itself always ready to offer sacrifices to the Moloch of this militaristic madness, with “discipline raised to a point where the soldier can no longer use his critical reason”. Another tragic contradiction!

5. From the standpoint of health this is very serious, and has for example led in France to the people being infected to a high degree with tuberculosis and syphilis. In the French army five to seven times as many cases of tuberculosis are recorded as in the German. In a few decades, so a French warning has it, France will be decimated unless the system of barracks is abolished.

6. Cf. Schippel, Sozialdemokratisches Reichstag-Handbuch, Berlin 1902, p.929.

7. Cf. the state of helplessness of the police in relation to the military, and especially to officers, when they commit excesses. One might also note the privilege accorded to the army of marching frequently in closed ranks through the towns, often in processions of endless length, thus completely holding up traffic without sense or reason: parades whose only basis is military aesthetics. The most absurd example of the social danger and ludicrous pomposity of such pampered madness was seen some years ago in Berlin, when a detachment of the fire brigade in a great hurry was simply halted by a marching military column, which would not disturb its beautiful and majestic order by giving way. This action was, it is true, later censured.

8. See the essay, Der amerikanische Neger als Soldat, in no.638 of the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, 1906.

9. Curious saints, it is true! One might recall the Bilse case of November 1903 [1*] and the many “little garrisons” à la Forbach, the regulations concerning gambling and the drinking of champagne, duelling by officers – that fine fleur of the honour of officers – the Brüsewitz stabbing (October 1896) and the Hüssen shooting (Prinz Arenberg und die Arenberge, Berlin 1904, pp.13ff.), the Harmlos and Ruhstrat affairs, the photographic novels of Bilse and Beyerlein, Schlicht’s (Count Baudissin) Erstklassige Menschen, Jesco von Puttkamer, and last but not least the Prince Arenberg scandal, which also belongs here. The French “small garrison town” of Verdun made quite a stir in the autumn of 1906. Naturally, those who worship the uniform consider these things as a “likeable, piquant weakness” in those they worship, who nevertheless adhere firmly to the Christian faith. Here of course we see once again the international solidarity of the noblest and best! An interesting case is the disclosure early in 1903 of the mutual flagellation by officers of the British Grenadier Guards (La Jeunesse Socialiste, March 1903).

10. The non-commissioned officer is – “God’s representative on earth!”

11. The statistics of suicide among soldiers provides the most striking evidence of this. Even this phenomenon is international. According to official “statistics there was one suicide in every 3,700 men in Germany in 1901, in Austria one in about every 920. In the Austrian tenth army corps 80 soldiers and 12 officers committed suicide in 1901, a further 127 became insane and were invalided out in consequence of self-mutilation and maltreatment. In the same period 400 men deserted and 725 were condemned to hard labour or rigorous confinement! In these matters the struggle between nationalities certainly makes things much worse.

12. Introduced into Germany in 1891 (maximum 1,000 Marks). It had already been in existence in Saxony and Wurtemberg, and a precedent had also been set in the Reich by the granting of “non-recurrent allowances”. It is also found elsewhere; in France for example – though admittedly it meets with little success – the amounts are much larger (up to 4,000 Francs). The schools for non-commissioned officers also belong in this category – see the speech of Vogel von Falckenstein in the Reichstag on March 2, 1891.

13. Caprivi’s speech in the Reichstag on February 27, 1891, is the classical confession of a beautiful capitalist-militarist soul, together with its fears and needs, with its hopes and aims, and with its methods of attaining those aims. It opens wide a window permitting us a close examination of the innermost secrets of the soul. It begins with the statement that “only on one condition would the reintroduction of the (anti-) socialist law be renounced: on the condition that all measures be taken to pull the ground from under the feet of Social-Democracy or to take up the struggle against it”; one of these measures (thus a substitute for the anti-socialist law) being the payment of premiums Lion-commissioned officers in conjunction with the certificate of maintenance in civilian life. Caprivi continued:

The demands made upon the non-commissioned officers are increasing, in consequence of the increasing level of national education. The senior officer can fill his post only if he feels superior to those he commands.

If it is now difficult to enforce discipline, it will become even more difficult if we have to take up the struggle against Social-Democracy; by a struggle I do not mean in this context shooting arid stabbing. My recollections go back to the year 1848. Conditions at that time were very much better, since current ideas had not arisen out of long years of schooling but had suddenly come to the fore, and the old non-commissioned officers had a much easier task when facing the men than they do now when faced with Social-Democracy. (“Hear, hear!” from the Right.) To mention an extreme case: we need far better non-commissioned officers for street fighting against Social-Democracy than we need for fighting the enemy. In the face of the enemy the troops can be inspired with patriotism and other lofty sentiments, and be stirred to self-sacrifice. But street fighting and all that is associated with it is not a factor which can raise the feeling of dignity of the troops; they always feel that they are up against their own countrymen ... The non-commissioned officers can only retain their superiority if we seek to raise them higher. The allied governments want to raise the level of the non-commissioned officer class.

It was necessary, he continued, to make the non-commissioned officers a “class of men whose very existence would be bound to the state”.

This at the same time is a fine psychological description of the élite troops.

14. Arrest, together with deprivation of food, bed and light; fatigue drill and the like; in the field also the barbarous Anbinden or “binding on”. The Austrian Krummschliessen – “looking in a crooked position” – and “binding on”, the Belgian cachots and the internationally used “cat-o’-nine-tails” and the like are well known. Not so well remembered perhaps are the dreadful methods of torture used in the French disciplinary detachments and also applied to “politicals”: the poucettes, the menottes and the crapaudine (see the illustrated brochure published by the Fédération socialiste autonome du Cher in 1902, entitled Les Bagnes Militaires – Breton’s speech in the Chamber; Georges Darien, Biribi [which is the collective name for all the military disciplinary institutions in North Africa], Dubois-Desaulle, Sous la Casaque, Paris 1899). On the compagnies de discipline, the pénitenciers and the travaux forcés (disciplinary companies, penitentiaries, hard labour) in the French Foreign Legion and its victims, see Däumig, Schlachtopfer des Militarismus. There are now energetic attempts to suppress the biribi (see the Chamber discussions on December 8 and 10, 1906). The disciplinary beatings which the officers of the British Grenadier Guards inflict on one another with praiseworthy democratic zeal deserve to be mentioned here as a curiosity (La Jeunesse Socialiste, March 1903).

15. The result of all these educational methods from the military standpoint has been discussed elsewhere. Here we will only point to the moral result, which brings the bourgeois as well as the anarchist and half-anarchist opponents of the army to utter especially passionate and widespread cries of pathos and indignation. “The army is the school for crime” (Anatole France); “drunkenness, misbehaviour and hypocrisy are what barrack life teaches” (Professor Richet). According to the Manuel du soldat, the term of service is “an apprenticeship in brutality and vulgarity”; “a school of immorality”; it leads to “moral cowardice, servility and slavish fear”. Certain military festivals can indeed hardly be conceived without that patriotic drunkenness which of course helps to uphold the state. On what Pastor César calls the “drunken and rowdy feasts” of the military clubs, see the Leipziger Volkszeitung of December 1, 1906. The result in terms of health is also less than pleasing; on the French army, see footnote 52 on p.143 of the present volume. The sanitary state of the standing armies of England and America, those democratic countries, is quite horrifying. The death rate was much higher than in Germany: 7.13 and 6.18 per thousand in 1906-7. According to the report of H.M. O’Reilly, Surgeon-General of the Army, dysentery and alcoholism are worse in the American army than anywhere else in the world.

16. In the struggle against the internal enemy we naturally include here the struggle against the spirit of international proletarian solidarity, a spirit to which “militarism against the external enemy” is so averse.

17. See Die Sozialdemokratie im Heere, Reform des deutschen Heeresdienstes zur Abwehr des Sozialismus, by an Officer, published by Costenoble in Jena, 1901. Also the material in Bebel’s Nicht stehendes Heer sondern Volkswehr, pp.46ff., and Handbuch für sozialdemokratische Wahler. Der Reichstag 1848-1903, Berlin 1903, pp.23ff.

18. Cf. in this connection the well known case of Gädke, in which the Prussian Court of Appeal gave legal approval to the unheard of aspirations of militarism.

19. Also many members of the medical profession; as to the results, see for instance the note in Vorwärts of January 17, 1894. It is not only the military doctors of the reserve who are subject to military pressure; it is brought to bear on the professional medical organizations and thus on the non-military doctors.

20. The daring adventure of Voigt, the “Captain” of Köpenick, the gifted cobbler and convict, has been characterized by the Liberals in this connection as a warning.

21. In the figurative and the literal sense of the word! See part 1, chapter 4.4 Preliminary remarks.

22. In Germany there exists a kind of union of these officials, the Bund deutscher Militäranwarter.

23. See the Lokal-Anzeiger, no.496, 1906.

24. See G. Feuchter, Der Deutsche Pulver-Ring und das Militär-Pulvergeschäft, Göppingen 1896, pp.25 and 30.

25. Details in Lustig ist’s Soldatenleben, Wien 1896, p.51.

26. Where the last stragglers of the swarm of vultures involved in the East Asian war, the Gurko-Lidvalls, caused a great stir toward the end of 1906.

27. Naval administration: 18,939; Prussian army administration, excluding the Ordnance department: 11,119; Prussian Ordnance department: 16,825; Bavarian army administration: 4,632; Saxon army administration: 2,754; Wurtemberg army administration: 374 (see the printed documents of the Reichstag, 1905-6, no.144).

28. In the Posen arms theft case of the winter of 1906, the accused, a factory worker at Spandau, repeatedly stated that he had to obey Lieutenant Poppe, the thief, who “as an officer” was “to a certain extent his superior”; that was what they had been taught. Poppe was not employed in the concern to which the accused belonged. His genuine officer’s uniform assisted him in his manipulations among the civilian population just as the fake uniform had assisted the Captain of Köpenick.

29. The struggles in the workshops at Spandau which come up every year in the Reichstag are well known. On the Berlin corps clothing department, see the Fachzeitung der Schneider of August 25, 1906. On the French naval arsenals of Brest, Lorient, Cherbourg, Rochefort arid Toulon, see Les Temps Nouveaux of November 11, 1905. At present (December 1906) a strong movement is under way among the arsenal workers of Toulon, of which the outcome cannot be foreseen.

30. The French government has attempted explicitly to justify these measures by drawing attention to anti-militarist propaganda. See Les Temps Nouveaux of November 11, 1906.

31. Law of December 2, 1905; see in this connection the Leipziger Volkszeitung of December 14, 1906.

32. It is delightful to see the Kreuz-Zeitung writhing in this painful trap. It seeks in its great embarrassment to turn the spear and make out that Social-Democracy is in fatal difficulties, that the Köpenick affair had disclosed to all the world its plans for the event of a revolution, which had thus been frustrated. An especially absurd aspect of this silly frightened talk is the illusion that such plans could ever be frustrated in the capitalist order and that the knights of the Kreuz-Zeitung would even move a finger in such a hopeless attempt. “Thank God, we can still depend on the military!” – this was after all the most honest heart-cry of our bourgeois philistines after the Köpenick affair.

33. See K. Kautsky, Die Neue Zeit, year V (1887), p.331.

Additional notes

1*. BILSE TRIAL. The court-martial of Lieutenant Bilse, which took place in Metz in November 1903. The accused had written a novel depicting the dissolute morals of the officer corps. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. His judges were later reprimanded for having conducted the trial in public, for the facts which were brought to light were such as to throw the accusation back on the military system.

2*. CAPRIVI, GRAF VON (1831-1899). Imperial Chancellor from 1890 to 1894. Responsible for the bill of 1893 raising the strength of the army by more than 80,000 men, while reducing the period of conscription from three to two years. Dismissed in October 1894.

3*. TIPPELSKIRCH & CO. Army contractors, the firm of Tippelskirch was involved in 1906, together with the Prussian minister von Podbielski and the Hamburg shipping firm C. Woermann & Co., in a great scandal. Tippelskirch & Co. had secured a monopoly in the supply of clothes and equipment to the colonial forces, while von Podbielski, as a partner in the firm, shared in the enormous profits thus obtained. Woermann’s made its share from transportation.

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