Karl Radek

The Class Struggle in Germany
After the Rathenau Murder

(28 July 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 62, 28 July 1922, pp. 465–466.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). 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.

More than a month has passed since the German Nationalists killed Rathenau. It was a month of stormy events, of villainous deceit and, to some extent, a great lesson for the working masses of Germany. And what was the result? Outwardly, the result was that the German Government, which in the person of Wirth, had declared, “The measure is full; this cannot go on”, decided that everything should remain as it was. The Law for the Protection of the Republic was passed by a bloc which extended from the Independent Socialists to the Stinnes Party. That is all. The fact that the monarchists of the Stinnes Party voted for this law is a guarantee that the German monarchists are in no way affected by it. And since, with the exception of a few discharged Prussian officials, the entire administration of the German Government remains in the hands of the monarchists, it is self-evident that the Law for the Protection of the Republic will be applied exclusively against those workers who really wish to transform the bourgeois pseudo-republic into a real workers’ republic. The Government will retain its present formation “until Spring”. The only change that can be perceived is taking place in the parliamentary groupings, or to put it better, behind the parliamentary scenes. The Independent Social Democrats, who up to the present, also supported the Wirth government have entered into an alliance with the Scheidemann crew, thereby pledging themselves to support openly the government which the bourgeoisie will not let them enter until the Spring. By this manoeuvre, the Social Democrats will have 180 votes in Parliament instead of the 109 which they have had until now. In answer to this step the Centre and Democratic Patties together with the Stinnes Party proceeded to form a similar bloc in order to balance the reinforced Social Democratic wing in the Government. But since Parliament is not now in session, all these parliamentary manoeuvres which are merely political, serve to mobilize the forces of the reaction and the revolution for the coming struggle.

No one believes that the crisis of the last month is over and there is no doubt that it will develop still further.

The Growing Forces of the Revolution

Immediately following the assassination of Rathenau, when file German proletariat rose en masse, the German bourgeoisie trembled in its shoes. The Cologne Kölnische Zeitung headed its leading article On the Eve of a Second Revolution. And it was right, for although the thunder of a second revolution had died away, the storm had not yet passed. The crisis of the last week accelerated the nuptials of the two Social Democratic parties. Two months before tins crisis the workers of the Independent Party chased the learned Rudolf Hilferding from the editor’s chair of the Freiheit because he defended the idea of an alliance with the Scheidemann crew and the policy of coalition. The Independent Social Democrats of Leipzig were unanimous in denouncing Hilferding’s policy. Faced with the dilemma, for the second revolution or for the alliance with Scheidemann and the bourgeoisie, the leaders of the Independent Party have risked the step which they were justified in fearing. The alliance with the Social Democrats will result in the best elements of the Independent Party quitting their ranks. But this step will not be retraced, not only because the leaders of the Independent Social Democrats fear the approaching revolutionary wave but for reasons which are very prosaic and which were pointed out by Paul Lensch, member of the Scheidemann Party and chief editor of the leading organ of the German finance king, Herr Stinnes. This worlds’ wonder writes in the Stinnes organ, that the Independents could not help but unite with the Scheidemann Party, for otherwise they would have to face financial bankruptcy. The Scheidemanns on the other hand, are not financially pressed because they are strongly supported by the Government in which they occupy thousands of well paid offices. What reason could there be for not uniting? Herr Henke, the former editor of one of the most radical organs of the German Social Democrats, the Bremer Bürgerzeitung (the same Henke, who on the 3rd of August 1914 told Karl Liebknecht and myself that the reason why he did not refuse to vote for the war budget was that he was married and the father of six children) was careless enough to charge that the Communists were receiving material support from the Comintern. The Independent Social Democratic Party will go to the Scheidemann manger and peacefully munch the hay of the German bourgeoisie. But the German workers will not permit this. According to newspaper reports, the largest Independent organizations, such as those of Düsseldorf, Frankfort and Dresden, are opposed to this alliance and to this coalition party. There is not the slightest doubt but that this alliance will result in a split of the Independent Party and that as a result of this, considerable groups of workers will leave the Social Democratic Party.

The Communist Party had to resist a great temptation. In view of the Social Democratic treachery many Communists were tempted to undertake independent action. The Communist Party maintained the united front as long as it was not betrayed by the Social Democrats. But even then it did not take up the fight alone because it is still a minority, and although it is stronger now than it was in March 1921, it has not yet won over the necessary elements of the working class. If the German Communist Party intensifies the defensive character of its agitation, if it succeeds in extending its sphere of influence, the day is near when it will be in a position to enter the struggle ten times more strong and with bright prospects of victory.

The crisis served to accelerate the regrouping of the working masses. The masses are moving towards the Left and will join the Communist ranks as the bourgeois offensive gains in intensity. The economic situation is becoming worse from day to day; the political situation is saturated with contradiction; the influence of the Communist Party is increasing continually. At the time of the first revolution the German Communist Party had less than 30,000 members The approaching conflicts in Germany will see a Communist Party with a membership of a half million workers, and we can well afford to tell the jubilant German counter-revolution and the gentlemen of the Social Democratic Party who are preparing to celebrate their nuptials, “You are welcome to it, gentlemen; but remember, he who laughs last, laughs best.”

Last updated on 5 May 2020