Karl Radek

The Voice of the
Workers’ International

(11 August 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 67, 11 August 1922, pp. 501–502.
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.

After the opening speeches by the representatives of Workers’ and Peasants’ Russia the representatives of the Communist International came to word.

Clara Zetkin accused the SR.’s of the betrayal of the World Revolution. Clara Zetkin is the guardian of the revolutionary tradition of the working-class movement. She entered the movement at a time when the German worker was bound hand and foot by the Bismarckian Socialist Laws; when the French worker still felt the depressive influence of the Commune’s failure, that glorious uprising of the Parisian proletariat. Clara Zetkin is a pupil of Marx and Engels. She received her lessons in Socialism within the walls which had witnessed the murder of the Communards, where small pilgrimages of the workers still met yearly, on the birthday of the Commune. She learned to know Socialism when the persecutions of the “Iron” Chancellor forced the German Social Democracy to live illegally. She learned to know Socialism among the Russian Revolutionists, to whom her husband belonged. And she remained true to the revolutionary ardor of those young days. During many decades, this wonderful woman went from city to city, from factory to factory, arousing the workers to combat and teaching them the ways of their struggle. No one among the teachers of the proletariat, outside of Bebel, was so adored by the workers. They felt in her words not only the profound culture of the fighter, but her deep-felt convictions, for which she was ready to sacrifice her life; they felt her intense love for the abused and the oppressed. The old Bebel used to say: “There are only two men in the party outside of myself: Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin.”

And then came the times of ordeal. Guns let loose their thunder, and the Social Democrats ran to cover. These years of betrayal show how right Bebel had been. From the first day of the World Revolution, Clara Zetkin took her place in the ranks of those revolutionists who fought mercilessly against the Second International for its betrayal of the Socialist cause, and who were gathering the working masses for the War against War, the world Revolution. Who still remembers how Clara Zetkin came to the First International Conference for the War to end War in Berne, Easter 1915; how she sang the International at the farewell meeting for those members who were leaving to conduct illegal work; how from that aged voice and that white hair the true faith radiated upon those present; who still remembers these things, will never forget what Clara Zetkin means to the international proletariat. On account of her activities she was sent to prison. The death of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, murdered by that same Scheidemann band which is now squealing so loudly against the trial of the SR.’s, did not daunt her. During the first period of the Revolution, Clara Zetkin was the flaming torch which pointed to the world proletariat the way to battle, to victory.

And in memory of the revolutionary past of the proletariat, of its hard waged battles for freedom; in the name of the future of the working-class, Clara Zetkin accused the S.R.’s of the betrayal of the World Revolution.

The Russian Revolution is the first victory of the world proletariat. Soviet Russia is the stronghold of the World Revolution. Who raises his hand against Soviet Russia, raises it against the international working-class, and must perish.

Muna also brought the S.R.’s face to face with their crimes. And no one has a better right to do it. The Czech worker Muna, a war prisoner, understood that it was his duty to fight heart and hand with the Russian proletariat for the Soviet System. Muna fought at the front against the Czecho-Slovakian legions financed by the French Government, he fought for the World Revolution against the vanguard of the Russian counter-revolution, against these supporters of the S.R. dictatorship in Samara. When the revolution broke out in his native country, he hurried to the Czecho-Slovakian workers, who had been misled by the nationalistic crowd.

The Czecho-Slovakian Social Democrats, the same who are now protesting so loudly against the S.R. trial, often attacked him bodily at workers’ meetings and mishandled linn shamefully. They called him a paid agent of the Soviets, and threw him into prison for supporting the Soviet Power in Hungary. Muna did not despair, His work is bearing its fruits. When millions of Czecho-Slovakian workers, exasperated by the impudent provocations of their government, declared a general strike, Muna was sent to prison for a second time. Vain persecution. Success crowned the work of Muna and his comrades. The great majority of the Czecho Slovakian workers left the treacherous Social Democracy and created a Communist Party; so that Muna is today at the head of one of the greatest proletarian parties in the world, a party which in a land of 3.000,000 workers, counts 300,000 members.

In the name of the workers, he accused the S.R.’s of having corrupted the Czech Workers’ Legions and placed in their hands weapons against the workers’ government, by covering the machinations of the Entente capitalists under the flags of Socialism and Revolution.

Further were the S.R.’s indicted by the leader of the Hungarian workers, Bokányi. The appearance of this adored leader of the Hungarian workers revealed like a flash the historical significance of this S.R. trial. Bokanyi has been fighting for thirty years among the Hungarian workers against the Hungarian capitalists and landowners. He remained, in the corrupt, opportunistic atmosphere of the Hungarian Social Democracy, the apostle of the workers’ revolutionary spirit. When the Hungarian proletariat proclaimed its dictatorship against the capitalist forces of the whole world, Bokányi was made a People’s Commissar of Soviet Hungary. After the defeat, after the capitulation of the Social Democracy before the white guards, after the dissolution of the Communist Party, Bokányi did not abandon the working-class. He faced death in the prisons of the Hungarian White Terror, just as hundreds of other Hungarian workmen, who were murdered without a trial, before the eyes of civilized Europe.

“Vandervelde did not come to our help then,” said Bokányi to the S.R.’s. Coolly he looked death in the face, calm before his Hungarian executioners, and proudly maintained his allegiance to the World Revolution. On the day when he was condemned to death, nothing could be heard in the factories of Budapest, but: “Long live Bokányi, leader of the Revolution!"

The helping hand of Soviet Russia saved him from the hell of the Hungarian counter-revolution. He now appears before the court, draws for the S.R.’s a picture of the fall of the Hungarian Soviets and the ensuing carnage, and asks the S.R.’s:

“Do you not realize, that had you been able to overthrow the Soviet power in Russia, you yourselves would then have been overthrown by the White Guards, who have instituted a dreadful reign of terror?”

The S.R.’s did not understand this, – for they did not want to understand. The most upright among them declare, that they prefer the dictatorship of capital and the large landed proprietorship to that of the proletariat. Zenzinov says: “Let Koltchak win, and I will pardon him, however he may treat us S.R.’s.”

In the name of the Hungarian proletariat, which has suffered all the pains and difficulties of the revolutionary struggle; which now, under the yoke of the White Dictatorship, raises to us its bleeding hands to swear that it will continue the struggle until the Red Flag of Communism again flies over Budapest; in its name, Bokányi demands that the S.R.’s should answer for their crimes against the Proletarian Revolution. They are responsible for those who have betrayed the Hungarian proletariat.

The indictments pronounced by the representatives of the Communist International are the voice of the international proletariat, demanding the punishment of the S.R.’s. They should not seek satisfaction in the fact that the Communist International does not as yet represent the majority of the workers. True, it has not the majority of the working-class behind it yet. But when Karl Marx sounded his great call in 1847: “Workers of the World, Unite!” only a handful of revolutionary worker; stood at his side.

He had nevertheless the right to speak in the name of the whole world proletariat, for he represented its interests and its future. Millions of workers are still attached to the traitors, millions of workers have not yet broken away from the bourgeoisie, millions of workers have not yet found the courage for war to the death with capital. They are still the dumb slaves of the bourgeoisie. On that account only, could Vandervelde and Henderson, Renaudel and Scheidemann have defended the S.R.’s in their name. All those workers who fought during the war for the maintenance of the International, all those workers who have languished in prison for its restoration, all those workers of all countries who have given their lives for the Proletarian Revolution, from the 20,000 Germans whom Noske shot down, to the workers in the South African gold mines, whom English capital, Henderson’s patron, murdered, – all the living elements of the international proletariat which represent the future of the working-class are behind us in our fight against the S.R.’s.

In the name of the Communist International, that is, in the name of the future of the international proletariat, comrades Zetkin, Muna, and Bokányi demanded a pitiless judgment of the past, present and future of the S.R. Party.

Last updated on 5 May 2020