The Clarion 1900

To the Editor of “Clarion”

Written: 3 April 1900 by Wilhelm Liebknecht;
First published
: in The Clarion, 14 April 1900;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford, for 2008.

Dear Comrade,

In my letter from San Remo on “Imperialism and Militarism,” which you were good enough to print, there is a little quid pro quo – caused, no doubt by my bad handwriting – which I must set right. My friend, Dr. Arons (not Ardur as it is spelled) has never been loved by the Kaiser. What I wrote was that he was loved (and admired too) by his hearers – his disciples. A German compositor could never have imagined that a Socialist was loved by the Kaiser. With us, it is not as with you in England, where the monarch is kept distant from the strife of parties. Thanks to Imperialism and Militarism, we have still personal government and Kingship (or Emperorship) by Divine Right, things unknown to you since more than two centuries and a half. Here I touch the point which renders Germany unintelligible to Englishmen, Americans, and Frenchmen. We are obviously a civilised, modern people. But civilised and modern we are only in social, economic, and intellectual development. In politics we are half barbarians, like the Russians or Turks – or, rather our political system is that of half barbaric nation. In every other respect equal to the most advanced nations, we live politically in the Middle Ages We are governed by the mediaeval caste of our Junker; and monarchy with us is the monarchy of your Stuarts before Cromwell.

We have not had a Cromwell in Germany.

Our Kaiser does not stand above the parties. He is foremost in the strife of parties, and frequently he has said that he considers it his highest duty to subdue and to crush Socialism. And the servility of our ministers and office holders is so great that it is impossible to think the prosecution of Dr. Arons had been undertaken against the will or wish of the Kaiser.

Well, Dr. Arons is not the worse for it. And Socialism thrives wonderfully in the shade of the Kaiser’s hostility. Strife is our life’s element. The more enemies, and the higher the enemies, the better for us.

One word more in conclusion. The blessings of Personal Government, which you Englishmen enjoyed a couple and a half of centuries ago and which we Germans enjoy now, are with us the outflow of Imperialism and Militarism. And, if you were foolish enough to introduce Imperialism and Militarism, you would be sure to have Personal Government anew. Think of your glorious past! And beware!

W. Liebknecht.

April 3rd, 1900.