The "Internationale"

Manifesto of Editors and Publishers of the "Internationale"


First published in International Socialist Review, Vol.16 No.5, November 1915, pp.274-276.
Translated by W. E. B.
Transcribed and marked up by Zdravko Saveski for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

THE undersigned editors and publishers of The International feel impelled to make the following protest:

After the suppression of our journal by the police was publicly known the executive committee of the Party saw fit to send to the officials of local organizations and distribute generally in the Party the following circular letter:

Berlin, April 23, 1915.

Various recent events make it constantly clearer that a small group of persons are busily attempting to destroy the unity of the German labor movement. This group is not by any means identical with the minority which was opposed to the positions taken by the parliamentary group in balloting on August 4, December 2, and March 20. It constitutes rather a very small minority within this minority. With few exceptions all party members are at one in the firm resolve to maintain the power of the working class, which will be more necessary than ever after the war.

To this end it is necessary to deal objectively with differences of opinion, to avoid denunciation, suspicion, and slander. This applies, of course, to the right wing as well as to the left.

Various persons heap insults on the elected representatives of the working class. They do this systematically in public prints at home and abroad.

After a spitefully edited journal called "Lichtstrahlen" had been distributed for some time Rosa Luxemburg and Franz Mehring have now begun the publication of a monthly magazine, "Die Internationale," printed in Dusseldorf. In this magazine, not only are numerous false statements made - the correction of which is no part of the purpose of this document - but the party is scandalously criticised in a series of articles. It has "handed in its political resignation," its "collapse is unprecedented," "in the course of twenty-four hours it went up in smoke," etc. The best known leaders are treated in the same way. Yes, even supporters of the minority are scolded because they dare to disagree in some points with the publishers of the "Internationale."

Comrade Kautsky, who is known and honored throughout the international movement is disgracefully berated by Rosa Luxemburg and Franz Mehring. His theory is said to be the "willing servant of the official party practice," and is called the "theory of the voluntary eunuchs." "Die Neue Zeit" is called a prostitute. Comrade Currow, on the score of his excellent article "Party Downfall," is accused of open deception. In another passage the party is denounced in anarchistic phrases as "the glorifier of numbers and full treasuries. as the only means of salvation."

This "Internationale" is openly attempting to destroy our party unity. Its distribution goes on just as systematically as did that of the "Lichstrahlen" and various anonymous publications. Opposition to this activity is the duty of every party member who agrees with us that the strength of the German working class must not be destroyed by internal quarrels. Internal differences must be so managed that the unity of the movement will survive the war. Anyone who breaks this rule deals worse by the German working class than the worst enemy.

The next party congress, which is to be called as soon as circumstances permit, will have to decide upon the policies of the future. It is the right and the duty of each member to try to bring about a decision in accord with his convictions.

The fact that this is possible without a campaign of persecution is proved by the attitude of the great majority of the minority group.

We expect party officials to offer energetic opposition to the systematic attempts to bring about confusion in the party organization and to reduce its power. This can be done most effectively by distributing informing articles on the party policies.

(Signed) The Executive Committee.

The statement that the "Internationale" designs to destroy the unity of the party we denounce as false. The "Internationale" does represent a systematic attempt not "to introduce confusion," but rather to represent party principles which have been the common intellectual property of Socialists for fifty years and which were those of the executive committee up to August 4 of last year.

The committee excuses itself from producing any proof of its false assertion. It is satisfied with the methods with which comrades have become familiar in the official proceedings against party papers.

First it hurls a mass of denunciatory terms at the "Internationale"; "denunciations, suspicions and slanders, "unparalleled defamation," numerous false statements, "Scandalous berating of the party," "Anarchistic phrases," "mad persecution," etc. What is to be accomplished by these terms it is difficult to see, since the circular letter refrains from the "correction" of errors.

In the second place the committee again imitating our prosecuting attorneys, quotes isolated sentences of mere phrases in order to prove the good-for-nothing character of the "Internationale." So far as these fragments belong to the undersigned they are willing to pass over the injustice done them with a mere shrug of the shoulders. But the great majority of the citations are from the introductory essay by Comrade Luxemburg, who is now in jail and will long remain there because she opposed German militarism more bravely and effectively than did anyone else up to the very beginning of the war. Comrade Luxemburg would not desire us to defend her against charges which give an entirely false notion of her work. But this much we must say for her: Whoever represents her article as slander or persecution and is unable to recognize the fact that her scornful words breathe the most glowing zeal for the unity and purity of the party, is caught in the influence of a petrified bureaucracy and entirely without the passion which all pioneer Socialists from St. Simon to Lassalle regarded as the condition of great and fine deeds.

In the meantime what "Norwaerts" ["Vorwaerts"] said some days ago of another party paper applies to the executive committee: "Even if the 'Hamburger Echo' is unable to see that throwing together a bundle of an opponent's epithets is the most poverty-stricken method of argument, its own consciousness of guilt in this kind should have saved it from such pharaseeisms." Indeed, leaving the truth of the charges out of account, what is there to justify the executive committee in assuming the part of prosecutor? Has it not been quietly looking on while Keil and Heine, Grunwald and Hänisch, Hauisch Südekum and the others have for months been going on with the destruction of the party? These are the ones who are working confusion in the party, not only by using right and left the imperialist and nationalist catch phrases which up to a year ago were the uncoveted property of the landlords, but also by doing their best to force out of the party the comrades who continue to believe in the old party principles.

Surely if these party-destroyers fall on the faithful party members with such expressions as "conceited politicians," "disturbers," "undisciplined," "self-advertisers," etc. The executive committee is justified in assuming that it is not required to bother with feeble maunderings which serve no purpose but to make their authors ridiculous. But it is something quite different when more than one party paper ascribes the parliamentary activity of Comrade Liebknecht to low, personal motives. It is an entirely different thing, too, when papers and orators twist and turn an entirely unequivocal essay of Engels' in order to make it support contemporary imperialism. It is a different thing when a party member writing in a conservative magazine attempts to turn the party into an object of mirth for the ruling classes. It is a different thing when the "Hamburger Echo" denounces the Socialist party of a neutral country as the product of a few lawyers without clients who are exploiting the poor proletariat. It is a different thing when Member-of-the-Reichstag Heine publicly betrays a comrade as the author of a manifesto which is being made the object of official prosecution. It is a different thing when Member-of-the-Landtag Haenisch grovels for the favor of the Prussian government and promises that the disturbers will be expelled from the party at the first party congress after the conclusion of peace. If the executive committee can endure all this in peace - and we have mentioned only a few out of many examples of destructive activity - then it need not go far in search of the worst enemy of the party. The party principles are above it and above "all the elected officials of the working class," just as they are above us. This committee is under obligation to represent these principles and if it fails to do so we are not obliged to remain silent. And the committee will not deny that the resolutions of the international congresses, Stuttgart (1907), Kopenhagen (1911), and Basel (1912), with regard to the outbreak of an imperialistic war have not been represented by its activities since August 4 of last year, but have been torn into shreds. The comfort which it derives from the talk about "the very small minority," we readily grant the committee, without the resounding response to the first number of the "Internationale," its circular letter would have been unnecessary.

Of the "distribution of informing articles on party policies" we shall see to it that there is no lack, and we shall not allow ourselves to be deterred by the fact that the party-destroyers, under the friendly protection of the military censorship and the silent consent of the executive committee, tear down faster than we are able to build up. For our trust is not in our feeble power, but in the conquering force of Socialist thought, which, in the long run always reduces to ridicule the sword of the flesh as well as the papal bull.

Peter Berten.
Kate Duncker.
Paul Lange.
Franz Mehring.
Heinrich Strobel.
August Thalheimer.
Klara Zetkin.

Last updated on 31.7.2021