Ernst Meyer

The Marshalling of
the Working Class of Germany
Against the Counter-Revolution

(12 October 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 67 [43], 18 October 1923, pp. 747–748.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2023). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Berlin, 12th October

As in the case of all great historical events, so at the present time, the contemporary spectator believes himself to be still standing before the events when great decisions have already begun.

Every day, nay, every hour brings with it new facts and new developments. The latest events which are recorded by the pen are already overtaken by new events by the time they reach the eye of the reader, there is little use therefore in going into details, but it is sufficient and even more to the point if we note down the general tendency of events.

The plans of the German bourgeoisie for the establishment of a Fascist dictatorship met at the last moment with opposition from the ranks of the petty-bourgeois parties of this bourgeoisie. The German Nationalists and the Agrarians who are behind them, as well as the People’s Party representing heavy industry, are pressing for an open dictatorship. But those politicians of the People’s Party who belong to the industries engaged in turning out finished manufactures, and the representatives of the petty and the middle bourgeoisie in the Center and among the Democrats, still recoiled from the letting loose of civil war in Germany. They wanted, as the Democrats expressly say, once again to attempt to obtain with the help of Social Democracy that which without the Social Democracy they must carry through with the German Nationalists.

And the Social Democrats had in fact accomplished “the unheard-of”, “the insane thing”, which compelled even the Social Democratic papers to give vent to rage and indignation. Terrified at the prospects of civil war, 54 Social Democratic members of the Reichstag acquiesced without more ado in the dictatorial demands of Stinnes right up to the open surrender of the Eight Hour Day Law. But even among the 61 Social Democrats who voted against an unconcealed abandonment of the Fight Hour Day there is a very large section which is ready to deliver over the working class to Herr Stresemann, who is preparing the ground for Stinnes. The smug Social Democrats are very proud of their trick of having had withdrawn from the Authorization Law, which otherwise gives the government a perfectly free hand in all economic, social and political questions, the law for the abolition of the Eight Hour Day. As the Social-Democrats know that a bourgeois Parliamentary majority exists for the passing of a simple law, the Eight Hour Day Law will be abolished all the same, it is true without their express approval, but with their knowledge and toleration.

The abolition of the Eight Hour Day through the Authorization Law, being an alteration of the Constitution, would have required a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag which the Social-Democratic Party could have prevented merely by its absence.

Can the new Cabinet of Stresemann yet master affairs by means of its Authorization Law? No, and again no! The foreign political situation of Germany is such, the hunger and the misery of the masses so great, (lie finances ruined to such an extent, that there is no longer any possibility of improving or straightening out matters within the frame of the bourgeois State. Even the most radical methods from the capitalist standpoint, a taxation policy following the English pattern and far-reaching compulsory measures such as those of war economy, can no longer save the situation. Just as at the time of the Great French Revolution, even the greatest reforms will do very little to alleviate, but will bring new and added confusion. In the very shortest space of time the new Cabinet, the dictatorship of Stresemann, cannot avoid being helplessly wrecked.

This process will be expedited by those within the bourgeoisie itself. The German Nationalists and the Stinnes’ wing of the German People’s Party will continue to rage and incite against Stresemann. They will endeavour to make use of the dictatorship of Stresemann for themselves so far as it goes, but they will ruthlessly combat it in so far as it is opposed to them. The dictatorship of Stresemann will very soon have to give place to the open dictatorship of Stinnes and Helfferich. Perhaps this transformation will, with the help of the military authorities, come about almost unnoticed. It is more probable that the pressure of the Nationalist fighting bands and of Fascist Bavaria will, with a sudden perceptible movement, throw Stresemann over board

Fascism in Germany is the last reserve of the bourgeoisie in the face of the aspiring working class. Its organizations are well-armed and capably led, but the last reserves of the bourgeoisie always consist of the last dregs. Every little defeat, every little failure will shake and destroy them, indeed, a mere hesitation and wavering of their political leaders will thoroughly demoralize than. Behind the defeat of the Fascists there stands nothing for them and their bourgeois patrons but oblivion.

It is otherwise with the proletariat. The German working class is torn and stultified as a result of the coalition policy of the Social Democratic Party and of the policy of collaboration with the employers pursued by the trade union leaders. The German proletariat, disarmed through numerous defeats since the November days of 1918. has grown faint-hearted. The German workers have grown mistrustful towards the leaders of all proletarian organizations. They have been so often fed with promises and illusions that they impose no real confidence in anyone. Their trust in themselves and in their own powers has also suffered. But today they see no alternative before them, but either to give way without a fight and go under as is recommended to them by the Social Democratic Party of Germany, or by one last effort to shake off all the fetters of servitude. The struggle threatens to demand enormous sacrifices, but the prize of the struggle is not only the repulsion of the momentary danger, but a!so the gaining of mastery over the class-enemy for all time.

The change in the feeling of the members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany is a palpable symptom of the growth of this insight among the proletariat. Even in the strongholds of the Social Democratic Party of Germany the local leaders of Social Democracy have to take this change of outlook into account. The Social Democratic leaders undoubtedly have the intention yet again to deceive the workers. But even every apparent concession to the Communists, every instance of working together with them today, strengthens the Communist Party and weakens Social Democracy. In many localities the manoeuvre of the Social Democratic leaders recoils against them. The Social Democratic workers are, in their overwhelming majority, already decided opponents of the policy of coalition. Every little success following a pure proletarian policy consolidates the proletarian united front and destroys the Social Democratic policy of coalition with the bourgeoisie.

In this connection there is rendered clear the great importance of the attempt to form a Workers’ Government in Central Germany. The entrance of the Communists into the Saxonian and Thuringian Governments meets with whole-hearted approval among the workers throughout the Republic. Every step taken by these governments in the fight against the bourgeoisie will strengthen their position not only in the two States concerned, but will cause an enormous growth in the pressure of the masses for the building of Workers’ and Peasants’ Governments in all the various States as well as in the Republic. The coalition policy of the Social Democratic Party of Germany is so compromized, its effects have been so disastrous for the proletariat, that the turning away from this policy will absorb and collect as in a mighty stream all the forces of the proletariat.

The Communist Party of Germany, by its decision to make Central Germany the rallying and starting point of the revolutionary struggles in Germany, has taken a great responsibility upon itself. The proletariat cannot endure any further disappointments. But we are confident that Saxony and Thuringia will, on the contrary, bring strength and stimulus to the revolutionary energies. The Communist Party will show what a Workers’ Government is able to accomplish. This example will be far more effective than all theoretical arguments. Besides showing solidarity for Central Germany in the face of the threat to it from the Fascists, the whole German proletariat will follow the example of Saxony and Thuringia, and by obstinate struggle will not only render Central Germany secure, but will capture the whole of Germany.

Last updated on 29 April 2023