Karl Radek

The Grave Diggers
of Capitalism

(1 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 75, 1 September 1922, pp. 557–558.
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.

At the time of the Genoa Conference, whose purpose it was to begin the reconstruction of Europe 3 years after the signing of the “peace” – the dollar, worth 4 marks before the war, had reached a value of 270 marks. Three months have passed since the delegates of 42 nations have left the sunny shores of Liguria – and the dollar is worth about 2,000 marks, that is, the mark is worth 1/250th of its pre-war value. Such is the brilliant result of the work of Europe’s most eminent diplomats. Some of them have been willing to cross the ocean to achieve this. Mr. Pierpont Morgan himself came across from New York to study the condition of French and German finances. After which he coolly declared to the Allies: “One must be an imbecile to lend a single cent to a Germany whom France can rob the next day.”

So the catastrophic fall of the mark continued. Negotiations began between France and England, regarding a moratorium. Mr. Lloyd George demanded of France somewhat more moderation.

If French imperialism does not display a little more moderation, it will end not only in hurting England, which is losing a good customer in Germany, but it will hurt itself. For the hen will not lay her golden eggs any more, once you have wrung its neck. And Mr. Poincaré answered Mr. Lloyd George sharply. “Charity begins at home.” Let first England renounce her share of the reparations and cancel the debt France owes her.

Then the London Cabinet answered, that it is willing to forget the debts of France and Germany, if America will obliterate England’s debt to her. And the English newspapers add, that France’s and Germany’s debts to England are double England’s debt to America.

“How magnanimous!” retorts the American press. England’s debtors are insolvent – but England is not. Therefore America can see no reason for foregoing what is due her.

Then the representatives of France, England and Italy meet. Mr. Poincaré declares that France will not agree to a moratorium, unless the respite will serve to guarantee Germany’s debt to her. Furthermore, he is no longer satisfied with the control of German finances as security; he demands the possession of the German coal mines. England understood this to mean the occupation of the Ruhr, which act would surely have provoked trouble among the workers and necessitated the dispatch of French troops into that territory. England fears above all the French occupation of Westphalia, which would make France the foremost continental power. England therefore bolted. And so the London Conference ended without any results.

The decision now lies in the hands of the Reparations Commission, that is of four men – one Frenchman, one Italian, one Englishman, and one Belgian. England is assured of Italy’s vote. France and England are now contesting for Belgium’s support.

Will they tear up the Versailles Treaty or merely paste it together again. We are inclined to believe that the fear of consequences will bring about a compromise. However, the Entente has ceased to exist as a political organization controlling the destiny of Europe and capable of preventing the bankruptcy of capitalism.

When the question was put to the Independent Socialist Party of Germany: determined action against the monarchist reaction or collaboration with the bourgeois government, the ex-communist, Mr. Levi, said: “You demand new elections ... But can’t you understand that new elections would bring the dollar up to 1,000 marks!”. And to prevent this calamity, the brave Independents renounced to fight the reaction. I he two Social Democratic parties threw down their arms, to prevent a civil war which would hinder England in its “relief” of Germany. The monarchist danger? A dream! The Republic? Nonsense! Save the mark!

And coo-coo, here is the dollar at 2,000. The horrors which Mr. Levi feared most have been surpassed. And the future? Instead of a revision of the Treaty, we are witnessing the dissolution of the Entente, menace of occupation of the Ruhr, danger of the complete ruin of Germany.

The rupture of the Entente, its powerlessness to adopt any of the suggestions which all the theoreticians, all the experts of capitalist economics made for the reconstruction of the bourgeois world, all this is nothing more than the agony of the capitalist system.

It if also the agony of the Second and 2½ Internationals. For it was not so long ago that the Socialist leaders of London,

Vienna, and Amsterdam were advising the international working class to support Mr. Lloyd George and his program. After having refused to include in the demands of the world proletariat the recognition of the Soviet Republic, of the first Workers’ Government, for fear, that Russia might thereby assume the leadership of the world proletariat, these gentlemen of the Second and the 2½, favor Mr. Lloyd George’s policy and the defense of the German bourgeoisie. Well, well, Messrs. Henderson, Renaudel, Jouhaux, what are you going to do next? How are you going to lead the workers in the struggle even for your own pitiful demands? Go to it! Propose the boycott of imperialist France, and you may count on our support. We know that you will do nothing of the sort. You have courage only against the Bolsheviki. But just as Mr. Lloyd George is afraid to break with Poincaré, knowing that this would mean the end of European capitalism, you will not dare to begin any action for your poor reformist program, knowing that an appeal to the masses against capitalism would mean your own death sentence. Have not the international bourgeoisie and its Socialist lackeys yelled loudly enough because we have not been able in a peasant country, ruined, isolated, and surrounded by enemies, to accomplish in five years the greatest revolution in the world’s history, the creation of the Communist society on the ruins of capitalism? But you bourgeois gentlemen and ‘‘Socialist’’ menials have not even been able to clear the ruins of war, four year after its end. And you believe you will have the last word!

Our fight for Communism has just begun. We have not yet accomplished our task, for it is a colossal one. But you have so well done your work of capitalist reconstruction, that we can but thank you. Our Communist brothers of Europe were too weak to dig your grave You have done this for us. Thanks, good grave-diggers! When the day comes the workers need but push you into them. Make haste, so that we may begin our work of reconstruction with workingmen’s hands!

Last updated on 3 September 2020