Karl Radek

Eve of Fusion of the Second and
Two-and-a-Half International


Source: The Communist International, Special Congress Number, 1922, pp. 9–14.
Transcription: Ted Crawford.
HTML Mark-up: Brian Reid.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). 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.


THE fusion of the Second and Two and a Half Internationals is now only a matter of time and form. It has already been decided that the fusion shall take place; it has also been decided that the fusion shall take place on the platform of the Second International. Everyone will remember the indignation and the pathos with which Freiderich Adler protested, when we explained the complete absence of resistance, on the part of the Two and a Half International, to the Second International’s sabotage of the proposed World Socialist Congress by the fact that the former was aiming at unity with the latter. All this was merely stage thunder, for the Two and a Half International was already at that time, in a number of countries, completely dependent, materially and politically, upon the Second International.

The British Independent Labour Party is not only part of the Reformist Labour Party, but it has also abandoned all opposition to the latter’s reformism. Members of the ILP, like Jowett and Wallhead, now and again break out in revolutionary phrases, but the real leaders of the party, Ramsay Macdonald, Philip Snowden, etc., are preparing themselves for the parts they must play as future Labour Cabinet Ministers, and are undeviatingly carrying out the policy of the Labour Party. Ramsay Macdonald, the leader of the ILP, which belongs to the Two and a Half International, attended the Berlin Conference as a representative of the Second International, of which he was the secretary. At the Edinburgh Conference of the Labour Party, he was one of the chief promoters of the exclusion of the Communists. At the same Conference the ILP did not raise a word of protest against the resolutions which determined the reformist line of policy of the Labour Party, the best evidence of which is the election of Sidney Webb to the chairmanship of the party.

The French Socialist Party, among the members of which are adherents of the Second International, like Renaudel, forms part of a bloc with the reformist Confederation Generale du Travail and the government Syndicalist Jouhaux; it manages to maintain its only daily, “Le Populaire,” by the financial assistance of its Belgian comrades in Vandervelde’s party. This party is continually moving to the right. Longuet has been removed finally from his official position. Leon Blum is steering to the right, towards a bloc with the bourgeois radicals. The principal members of the party are members of the staffs of left radical bourgeois newspapers.

In the Swiss Party, which belongs to the Two and a Half International, the right element is so strong that Robert Grimm, whom his strongest opponents would not accuse of taking his radicalism seriously, has had to resign his leadership of the party.

It is not necessary to say much about the Austrian Social Democracy, of which the Two and a Half International is the child. Here the wolves and the lambs live in harmony; the radicalism of Freiderich Adler and Otto Bauer stands on a par with the opportunism of Renner.

All the parties of the Two and a Half International have regarded the Amsterdam International, which stands for collaboration with the bourgeoisie, as a haven of refuge. They have considered unity with Amsterdam as an imperative necessity, for the simple reason that the majority of the leaders of the Two and a Half International occupy bureaucratic positions in the Amsterdam Trade Union organisation; and since the first fiddle in the Amsterdam International is played by the reformists – the British Trade Union leaders, the German Labour leaders, who are members of their Government, not to mention the dull politicians of the Dutch and Swedish organisations – it is clear that unity with Amsterdam means nothing more nor less than the complete capitulation of the Two and a Half International. This capitulation finally took place when the principal party in the Two and a Half International, the German Independent Socialist Party, after long hesitation, finally resolved to take openly to the path of reformism.

Two periods can be distinguished in the post-war evolution of the German Independent Social Democracy. Prior to the Halle Congress, a left wing crystallised itself out within the party. The fight within the party was concentrated round the question: – dictatorship of the proletariat, or endeavours to reach socialism within the framework of bourgeois democracy. But even the supporters of the so-called democratic method, Rudolph Hilferding, Dittman, and Crispien, protested violently against their being represented as reformists. They described these representations as slanderous inventions of the evil-minded persons in the Presidium of the Communist International. Who does not remember how pathetically Crispien, at the Second Congress of the Communist International, strove to disperse all doubts as to the revolutionary character of his party? Or how Dittman vowed that Kautsky had not the slightest influence in the party, and that only the respect due to his age, his past services, and his departure for Vienna, induced the German Independent Socialist Party to refrain from expelling him? Who does not remember the long speech in which Rudolph Hilferding, the leader of the Right Wing of the German Independents at Halle, replying to Zinoviev’s assertion that the difference between the Communist International and the Independents was the difference between the Marxists and the Reformists, vowed that he and his friends were true guardians of the traditions of Marxism, and that the conflict between the Independent Socialist Party of Germany and the Communist International was a struggle between Marxism on the one hand, and Bakuninism, and the romanticism of semi-Asiatic Russian Socialism, on the other? But what is the use of recalling the past? Is it long since Rudolph Hilferding was compelled to resign the editorship of the “Freiheit,” after having written in favour of the Wirth bourgeois-Social-Democratic coalition Government? Is it long since the Berlin and the Leipzig organisations of the Independent Socialist Party expressed their opposition to coalition with the bourgeoisie, and their agreement with the opponents of the coalition policy? And who were these opponents? Dittman, Crispien, and Rosenfeld.

After the Halle Congress the struggle of the Independent Socialist Party was directed precisely against coalition with the bourgeoisie. The party regarded the coalition as an enemy which it had to combat. The coalition policy of the German Social Democrats compelled the Independent Party to regard unity with the former as impossible. The transitional period, during which the Independent Socialist Party participated tacitly in the Wirth Government, and at critical moments supported it by its votes in Parliament, has now ended; the party has resolved to enter the Centrist Government of Democrats and Social-Democrats. It agreed to do this as a result of the sensation caused by the assassination of Rathenau, and in view of the danger threatening the Republic from the Monarchists. “Blood binds,” pathetically exclaimed the Freiheit, the central organ of the Independent Socialist Party. The blood of the millionaire Rathenau was the miraculous cement which has bound the bourgeois republicans to the proletariat.

Die Republik! die Republik! [1]
Wohlan denn, Rhein und Elba!
Donau, wohlan – die Republik!
Die Stirnen hoch, hoch das Genick
Eu’r Feldgeschrei dasselbe:
Die Republik! die Republik!

The Republic, the Republic! The independents repeat this cry, not only copying Freulgrath, but also Millerand, who, in 1900, to save the Republic, entered the Government of Waldeck-Rousseau, and thus opened an era of undiluted reformism.

The entry of representatives of the working class into bourgeois governments for the defence of the gains of the bourgeois-democracy has always been the central point of all reformist policy. The Kapp “putsch,” the assassination of Rathenau and the assassination of Erzberger were, in this respect, extremely instructive examples, brilliantly proving that coalition with the bourgeoisie not only does not serve as a means of defending the Republic, but, on the contrary, is one of the best means of betraying the Republic to the Monarchists. As not a single bourgeois party can really be republican, and as not a single bourgeois party is prepared to fight for the Republic, coalition with the quasi-Republican parties of the bourgeoisie simply means binding the workers hand and foot in their struggle against Monarchism. This is exactly what has happened. The very moment that the Independent Socialist Party, with the cry of “The Republic, the Republic,” resolved to throw up the class struggle and declare its readiness to take a place in the stables of the Coalition Government, it betrayed the bourgeois republic. In order to carry out a policy of coalition with the bourgeoisie, it is first of all necessary to have a bourgeoisie to coalesce with; and as the bourgeois “republicans” by no means desire to render the struggle between themselves and their class friends, the monarchists, more acute, the modest demand put forward by the Social-Democracy, in conjunction with the Trade Unions, as minimum measures necessary for the defence of the Republic, were doomed to defeat, since not one of the Social-Democratic Parties were inclined to carry on the struggle to the point of forcing the dissolution of the Reichstag. The dissolution of the Reichstag first of all demands the application of resolute measures against the monarchists, and the absence of these measures doomed the Social-Democrats, both Independent and the Majority Social-Democrats, to certain defeat. The economic policy of the Social-Democrats drove the petty bourgeoisie into the embrace of the monarchists, who laid the blame for the decay and the proletarianisation of the petty bourgeoisie exclusively upon the bourgeois Social-Democratic coalition government. Furthermore, new elections would require large resources, and as far as these are concerned, the coffers of the Independent Socialist Party are completely exhausted. Economically the party is bankrupt, and it is the well-filled pockets of the Majority Socialists (who, as a consequence of the printing orders they received from the Government Departments and the Trade Unions, have enormous funds) that inspire these efforts at unity. The fear of civil war in the event of an election, and the complete lack of funds for the purpose of conducting the struggle, compelled the Independent Socialist Party to abandon the fight against the monarchists and for the Republic, at the very moment when it expressed itself in favour of a coalition to save the Republic.

There is no need to describe the further development of events after the assassination of Rathenau, which caused the Independents to reap what they had sown. They assisted the Majority Socialists and the Trade Union leaders to lull the workers, and to restrain the masses from independent action. Of course, immediately the masses retreated, the reactionary bourgeoisie commenced a determined offensive, and occupied the positions abandoned by the proletariat. It declared that it would not permit the entry of the Independent Social-Democrats into the government unless, at the same time, Stinnes’ party, the party of German reactionary capital, is allowed to enter it. The Independent Socialist Party had to clear its path into the government by first of all uniting with the Majority Social-Democrats, and this it was prepared to do. It would be mere self-deception to close one’s eyes to the fact that the enormous majority of the bureaucrats of the Independent Socialist Party are in favour of uniting with the Majority Socialists, and in favour of coalition with the bourgeoisie. Moreover, it would be a mistake not to recognise that up till now there has been no serious resistance to this tendency in the ranks of the party. Evidently the conviction reigns among large sections of the Independent Socialist Party that if the two Social-Democratic Parties unite, enter the coalition, and form a common front against the bourgeoisie, they will succeed in seizing the reins of government in their own hands. The opponents of coalition and of with the Social-Democracy on a platform of reformist policy are at the present moment a minority in the Independent Socialist Party, and cannot prevent the unification of the two parties.

The Amsterdam Bureau of Trade Unions is exerting all its efforts to bring about the unification of the Second and Two and a Half Internationals; this unification is necessary for the Social-Democratic bureaucracy in the Trade Unions, in order to combat the spread of Communism. The spread of Communism, of course, was facilitated by the conflict between the centrist and reformist sections of the Trade Union bureaucracy; the fusion of the two Trade Union cliques, it is presumed, will put a stop to it.

Before proceeding to estimate the historical significance of the unification of the Second and the Two and a Half Internationals, we think it would be useful briefly to analyse the theoretical platform upon which this unification is to take place. This programme is outlined in Kautsky’s new book, The Proletarian Revolution and its Programme, which the leading organ of the Independent Socialist Party, the Leipziger Volkszeitung, hailed as the banner of unity.


Kautsky’s book deserves a close analysis, for it is evidence of the theoretical bankruptcy of the Second International. It so happens that comrade Thalheimer has just published a comprehensive, critical review of this book, in which he speaks not of the relative but of the absolute degradation of Marxist theory, converted by Kautsky into an instrument of the reformist International. We are interested in the main political conclusion contained in Kautsky’s new book. This hero endeavours to establish whether, and to what extent, the Erfurt programme, the classical programme of the Second International prior to the war, has become obsolete. Thirty years have passed since Kautsky wrote the Erfurt programme. And what do we find? That Kautsky has not observed that, since then, an imperialistic storm has swept over the world. The grand process of the trustification of capital, its combination on an international scale – that great process by which the capitalist octopus has extended its tentacles round the whole world, which caused the Spanish-American war, the Boer war, the RussoTapanese war, the Balkan war, the Tripoli war, and finally the World war – this process does not exist for Kautsky. Judging from this book, the Boxer rising, the first Russian Revolution, the Persian Revolution, the Turkish Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and the Second Russian Revolution, which shook the whole world, have never taken place. Evidently the programme of a proletarian international should not concern itself with such petty affairs. Even the German and the Austrian Revolutions are useful to Kautsky only to the extent that they enable him to say “the end is achieved, we have democracy.” But those who think that this is because this good fellow has been thirty years confined to his study, ruminating over texts from Marx, are mistaken – good Master Kautsky is a true reflection of the Second and the Two and a Half Internationals, for whom the whole of the immense process of the revolutionisation of capitalism, which is at the same time the revolutionisation of the working class, does not exist. They are compelled to ignore this, otherwise they would not be able to croon their cradle song about developing socialism within the framework of democracy. In order not to rouse the workers to revolution they have to forget about the tens of millions of workers and peasants who were sacrificed in the war. And when the Second and Two and a Half Internationals unite, the revolutionary epoch will prove to be beyond the scope of their programme, so that they may the more freely carry out their policy of combating revolution.

The political contents of good Karl Kautsky’s book are constructed accordingly. In order to become acquainted with the complete philosophy, with the Alpha and Omega of the activity of the Second and Two and a Half Internationals, which, having suffered a political collision, has merged into one mass with the Second International, it is sufficient to read page 106 of his book. We quote below from this remarkable page, which will become memorable in the history of the Labour movement, and will undoubtedly be quoted by the future historians of Socialism.

In his remarkable article, A Critique of the Programme of the Social Democratic Party, Marx says: –

“Capitalist and Communist societies are separated from each other by a stage of revolutionary transition, during which one is transformed into the other. To this stage corresponds a transitional political period of State organisation, which can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

“On the basis of the experience of the past few years we can modify this statement as to the form of government in the following manner: The epoch of the democratic State with a purely bourgeois government and the epoch of the same State with a purely proletarian government are separated from each other by a stage of transition, during which one is transformed into the other. To this stage corresponds a political transitional period, during which, as a general rule, power is represented by a coalition government.

“Everywhere where the conquest of political power by the proletariat can be brought about by political means, it will happen in this way, and this is the normal method, after the collapse of the great military monarchies. Those who even now continue to repudiate the coalition policy are blind to the signs of the times; they have not grown up sufficiently to solve modern problems.”

The sworn enemy of the bourgeoisie, Karl Marx, the herald who proclaimed the social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, is thus “modified” by “his pupil” Karl Kautsky, the most prominent theoretician of the Second International, and modified in such a manner that the road to Socialism “as a general rule” leads through coalition with the bourgeoisie. The class struggle as a road to Socialism – the most elementary and striking distinction between scientific Proletarian Socialism and bourgeois Utopian Socialism, the most outstanding act of the high development of the consciousness of the working class in recent times – finds its expression, it is alleged, in a coalition with the bourgeoisie on the basis of democracy. To destroy feudalism required a long period of revolutions and revolutionary wars, although the difference between feudalism and the bourgeois system lies in the form of private property; the transition from capitalism to socialism, from the exploitation of the overwhelming majority of producers by an insignificant capitalist minority to the expropriation of this minority, which is armed with all the weapons of a power born in blood and saturated with the sweat and blood of millions of producers, is to take place; according to Kautsky, peacefully, quietly and respectably. Those who imagine that these are merely the words of a senile old man incapable of observing what is going on around him, and is left gasping by the mighty whirlwind of history, should read the article by Otto Bauer in the Freiheit of January 3rd, to which Kautsky refers, and in which the theoretical presentation of the case is the same. And Otto Bauer is the leader of the Two and a Half International, winch was formed, because the Centre parties were not accepted into the Communist International to serve, so to speak, as a refuge for the destitute. Those for whom Bauer’s article is not sufficiently convincing should read the article written by the Menshevik leader Martoff, in the Sotsialisticheski Vestnik, in which he naively remarks: “No one can object to a coalition with the bourgeoisie on principle, for it is quite clear that at the present moment the bourgeoisie is too weak to dominate the working class, while the latter is too weak to get rid of the bourgeoisie altogether.” Martoff, sometime editor of Iskra, established twenty years ago to combat reformism, Martoff, the left Menshevik, the representative of a party which broke its neck in a coalition with the bourgeoisie, Martoff, the most revolutionary individual in the Two and a Half International, has not yet learned from all that has passed that in the period when the bourgeoisie is unable to dominate the proletariat, and when the proletariat is too weak to abolish the bourgeoisie, the fight commences for the dictatorship of the working class. The conclusion he draws from it all is that the time has ripened for a coalition with the bourgeoisie. This theoretical unity between the venerable mummy of the Second International and the two leaders of the Two and a Half International denotes also a similarity in the tactics of the two Internationals, as both of them have taken the path of the most vulgar reformism. Kautsky has to draw a historically liquidated distinction between revolutionary Marxism, in proletarian socialism, and reformism.

At one time there were socialists who thought that it would be possible to win the sympathies even of the monarchy to socialism, if the latter were a means towards satisfying its greed for conquest, particularly in the sphere of colonial policy – guns in exchange for popular rights.

This tendency, which considered that by means of gradual reforms it would be possible to avoid the violent overthrow of the militarist monarchy, was described as reformist, as distinct from the revolutionary tendency.

Around this tendency were centred the most heated discussions in the party, during the last two decades prior to the war. Now these discussions have been rendered superfluous, for the reason that the revolution which it was desired to avoid by means of reform has taken place.”

It will be clear to all how shamelessly Kautsky distorts history when he reduces the contradictions between reformism and Marxism to the one question as to whether a victory of the proletariat in a militarist-monarchist State is possible without overthrowing the militarist monarchy. We will not quote the numerous articles of Kautsky himself, in which, in the most masterly fashion, he proves that this is not the case. We will quote merely two widely-known political facts, which will reveal his shamelessness – we repeat the expression deliberately, not for the purpose of abuse, but in order to characterise politically this renegade. The conflict between reformism and radicalism did not only exist in those countries in which a powerful monarchy or militarism reigned. In France, which although dominated by a powerful militarism is a democratic State, a heated conflict existed between reformism and Marxism, between Millerand, Jaurès and Guesdes, in the course of which Jaurès and Bernstein declared to the German Marxists: “You do not understand what it is all about, for you live in a monarchial country and we live in a democratic country, where it is possible to bring about socialism by means of reform!” The same struggle raged in Switzerland, where there was neither a monarchy nor modern militarism, where the organisation of the army was as democratic as it could possibly be in a capitalist State. The same struggle took place in America, where, also, there was neither a monarchy nor militarism; and when Victor Berger came to Europe he tried to convince Kautsky that he had been given the reputation of being a reformist unjustly. The conflict existed in England between the Social Democratic Federation and the ILP. It existed in two other democratic countries, Norway and Sweden. Everywhere the discussion ranged round the question – is it possible to attain socialism by means of reforms, or is a proletarian revolution and the dictatorship, of the proletariat necessary to clear the path for socialism?

Now Kautsky obliterates this period, which is the period, of his fame, from the history of the international labour movement, and declares that the whole question is one as to whether it is possible to deal with monarchy and militarism peacefully. Thus, tearing out of history the page upon which the past of the working class is inscribed, on his own very next page he says, in connection with the present position of the working class literally marked by bloodshed and starvation: –

“The German Constitution, which was made as a result of the revolution, in spite of all faults, opens up sufficient possibilities for the socialist proletariat peacefully to conquer political power.”

According to Kautsky, in a country which very soon will have to choose between a militarist-monarchist restoration or a proletarian revolution; there is no place for a proletarian revolution: Germany, it appears, has already entered the post-revolutionary epoch – and not only Germany:–

“In Europe at the present moment there are only two States, where, in the Marxian sense, a ‘real popular revolution’ to destroy a revolting, bureaucratic, militarist, parasitic organism is necessary. One is France, the Empire without an Emperor, and the other is Russia, the Czarist State without a Czar. It is clear from Marx that the overthrow of the existing State mechanism in Russia is an essential pre-requisite for any kind of proletarian revival.”

Thus, Kautsky conceives the possibility of a revolution only in France and in – Soviet Russia. The Russian workers’ and peasants’ State is one of the States in which he thinks a revolution is necessary. This internal programme is at the same time an external programme on the threshold of unity between the Second and Two and a Half Internationals.

We will not pursue the analysis of Kautsky’s book any further. That may be necessary for the propagandist, but after what has been said, it is superfluous for politics. The basis upon which the unification of the Second and the Two and a Half Internationals is to take place has been sufficiently outlined by the pages we have quoted. Coalition with the bourgeoisie in all countries, and opposition to the first country to take the path of world revolution – these are the watchwords distinctly inscribed on their banners. The Menshevik leader, Abramovitch, was quite right – “The Lord God once spoke through the mouth of an ass; why should he not now speak through the mouth of a jackass” – when, in his introduction to the Russian translation of Kautsky’s From Democracy to State Slavery, he praised Kautsky for his opposition to Bolshevism, and for the “civil courage” he betrayed in this fight against Communism, at the time when men like Adler, Bauer, Hilferding, and Longuet, for political considerations – (i.e. for fear of the revolutionary workers) and partly owing to their failure to understand the duty of international solidarity, hesitated for a long time before they openly criticised Bolshevism and condemned its methods.

This good fellow praises Kautsky’s union, with men who in 1919 and 1920 fought shy of him, and he is quite right he is praising the union of the reformists with Kautsky, their leader.


What is the social significance of the forthcoming unification of the Centre with the Right Wing of the International? This is a crucial question, to which a reply must be given.

The Centre of the International is the shifting sand of the labour movement. When the wind blows in the direction of revolution, the sand rises and forms revolutionary dust clouds. Is not the fact that the sand has shifted to the right an indication that the working class has gone to the Right? If that were so, it would be necessary to recognise this fact frankly, for, even during periods, in which the labour masses went to the Right, the Communist International would still continue to exist, and in order to exist it would have to recognise calmly that the labour masses had temporarily deviated from the proletarian revolution and moved in the direction of the bourgeoisie. But such a possibility; is absurd. We are misled by the metaphor of the shifting sand. It is sufficient to glance at the world situation to be convinced that the international economic situation does not permit us to think of reforms, or of ameliorating the position of the working class. When, as is everywhere the case, the position of the working class has become worse than before the war (irrespective of whether unemployment reigns, or whether, as in Germany, the factory chimneys are belching forth smoke and the machines are humming) there is no room for reformism. The union between the leaders of the Centre and the reformists, on the contrary, is a forecast of forthcoming battles. Both the bourgeoisie and the representatives of the Centre have studied the lessons of the development that has taken place up till now. In 1919, when they slipped to the Left, they did not thoroughly understand the seriousness of the advancing revolutionary struggle; they thought that they could deceive the revolution by mouthing revolutionary phrases, and pretend to achieve the results the masses desired with their tongues. Under present conditions they understand that unless they exert all efforts to hold it up, the development of events will lead to nothing less than the victory of Communism.

Our experience in connection with the Communist International has proved that it is impossible to deceive, not only the revolution, but even revolutionaries. That is why, in preparing to fight for their existence, these reformists make a great mistake; they do not understand that the proletarian revolution represents a menace not only to the bourgeoisie, but also to its lackeys. It is quite characteristic that the German Independent Socialist Party clipped its revolutionary phrases very close after the murder of Rathenau, the logical sequel to which was a fight that, if it had been destined to take place, would have ended in civil war and the victory of Communism in the ranks of the working class. The union between the leaders of the Second and the Two and a Half Internationals will take place quite peacefully, if a great political storm does not break out within the next few months, and the Second and the Two and a Half Internationals will not lose any considerable number of their members. When there are no serious conflicts ahead, the masses usually allow their leaders a relatively free hand in the sphere of Party tactics. It is probable that many workers will say: Well, the reformist tactics of one section of the working class, the Reformists, have not attained their end; perhaps something better will come out of unity between the labour masses of the Centre and of the Reformists, i.e., of the majority of the working class, which will bring pressure to bear upon the bourgeoisie and help the introduction of reforms.

If the unification takes place, and a united Two and a Half International leads the way to a coalition policy on a large scale, this, within a very short period, will lead to the collapse of reformism.

Under the conditions that at present prevail in the international labour movement, the unification of the Second and the Two and a Half Internationals will result in a temporary intensification of reformism, which will be followed by its collapse. Its place will be taken by the Communist International, and we must prepare for the forthcoming battle.



The Republic, the Republic!
Forward the Rhine and Elbe!
Forward the Danube, the Republic!
Heads up, eyes front!
Your war cry is as ever
The Republic, the Republic!

Last updated on 18.10.2011