Karl Radek


The German Crisis

(28 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 56, 28 June 1922, pp. 411–412.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). 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.

In spite of its many threats against the Right elements, the German Government has not the courage to act against them. But the situation in Germany demands action, and this action will come from below.

Once again, as in the fall of last year, when Erzberger was assassinated, the working masses arose to demonstrate against the monarchists and for the Republic. The Communist workers are hand in hand with the Social Democratic workers, but they demonstrate not for the Social Democratic and bourgeois Government, but against the Ludendorff and Helfferich cliques. And the Government once more speaks five words, promising that at the decisive moment it will be on the side of the working masses; once again it makes a threatening gesture similar to the one it made last year. But the actual situation is not changed a bit by these words and gestures.

Chancellor Wirth makes the impression of a sincere and honest man with plebeian inclinations. But of what avail are his sentiments, if the same Wirth Government takes measures against the railway strike, if it takes no action in the way of financial reforms directed against the bourgeoisie, but in shifts the whole financial burden upon the masses. It is just this policy of the German Social Democratic Government and the two bourgeois parties calling themselves democratic that served as a fertile soil for German nationalism.

The German democratic Government cannot strike at the Right, not only because if always holds itself in readiness to strike at the working class, but also for the simple reason that the economic policy of the German Government forces the masses of the intelligentsia and petty bourgeoisie towards the extreme right. It is cleat that under conditions in which the families of university professors, not to speak of the army of officials, do not see meat or sugar for weeks, and at the same time have to bear an enormous tax burden, under conditions in which the German capitalists pile up fortunes in foreign trade, and the speculators live in plenty and extravagance that enrage the populace, – It is very easy for the Junkers to draw comparison between their present conditions and those at the time of the Kaiser.

The Junker-Nationalist clique makes use of the weapon of anti-Semitism in the fight against the Government although there are very few Jews in the Government. But as our old friend Bebel said, “Anti-Semitism is the Socialism of fools”. And as a matter of fact, one of the best means that the nationalists employ to attract the petty-bourgeois masses is to point out how prosperous the speculating Jewish bourgeoisie is. It is clear that were the monarchy restored the same conditions would prevail, with the minor difference that in the latter case the feasting bourgeoisie would be supplemented by the old Kaiserites. But what is important is not what would be, but what is.

A democratic Republic without democrats and without republicans, which is incapable of leading the masses out of the unbearable situation, is dead and sterile. It gives the impression of an empty house waiting for its master. Such is the situation created by the German bourgeoisie. In one of his pamphlets Rathenau writes that in Germany neither democracy nor the Republic were fought for. The democratic Republic came into the world as a result of the downfall of German imperialism. Kaiser and the Crown Prince ran away and Germany became a Republic. The German bourgeoisie which agreed to these conditions in the hope that the Entente would grant them better peace terms if there were no Kaiser, took up the opposition against the working class, which had begun the struggle for Socialism, from the very start. The Republic gathered strength from the civil war against the working class; it was fortified by the monarchists who until this very day hold the Government machine in their hands. The only way to change this situation is to have the working class break with the bourgeoisie and seize the Government.

Here the intentions of individual personalities are of importance. It is quite possible possible that the school teacher Wirth who was drawn into politics only through the war and the revolution, is a greater friend of the masses than the old politicians of Scheidemann’s, Noske’s or Ebert’s cut, who rose out of the masses. But the question is not one of personality. The question is whether the German working class will gather its forces without regard io party, from the Christian miners in the Ruhr district to the Communist metal workers of Berlin. Only when this takes place, when the Government will be reorganized on a new social basis, will the fatal blow be delivered to the monarchists. And this blow should be delivered in such a manner as to divide German nationalism from which the democratic petty bourgeois masses should be torn away, for it is laughable to think of these masses only as a tool of the reaction. It is true that they do not represent any revolutionary elements. But they are in a revolutionary mood against capitalism that seeks to bloom on the corpse of the nation. A workers’ Government that would take the monarchists and révanchistes by the throat would strengthen Germany’s international position to such a degree, and would win the confidence of the foreign masses to such an extent that the Versailles Treaty would be liquidated without much ado. In this manner it would attract to it those elements that are now in the camp of Ludendorff’s powerful nationalist movement.

Will the German Social Democracy have the courage to do this? If it were left to its leaders all that they would do would be to increase Ebert’s bodyguard and to render all the measures taken in this crisis as ineffective and futile as those that proceeded them. But the followers of Scheidemann would receive a new lesson which would not be lost on them.

There are two ways out of the situation in which the German Government now finds itself. The first one is the energetic struggle against the Right, a struggle which if developed would inevitably result in a Workers’ Government. The second way out is that the German heavy industrials, scared by this fight, retreat towards the Left, thus isolating the Right and forcing it to challenge the power of the State, such a step would mean the extension of the coalition to include the Stinnes Party. Socially such a step would be of a reactionary character, and the Social Democratic masses would be thrown to the left. The heads of the present Government will hesitate, fearing this and that, and after all the fruitless noise that they themselves have raised, they will march tamely along.

But the hangmen is on the threshold, both in the growing pressure of the nationalist Right, and in the demands of the Allies. For this reason everything seems to point to the fact that the period of stagnation in Germany is nearing its end and that the period of action is setting in. For this decisive period the Communist Party has raised its banner, and on this banner there is written: “The United Front of the Working Class and the Workers’ Government”.

Last updated on 27 December 2019