Karl Radek


What has Mr. Vandervelde to say?

(10 March 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 30, 29 March 1923, pp. 232–233.
From International Press Correspondence (Weekly), Vol. 3 No. 12, 29 March 1923, pp. 183–184.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). 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.

Moscow, March 10, 1923

Our readers will recollect how the one-time royal minister of justice Vandervelde, caused us to blush with shame by declaring, at the S.R. trial: “In our country, in Belgium, the communists may do as they like, write what they like, and say what they like.” Mr. Vandervelde added, with a grimace: “This does not trouble us; nobody is afraid of them; we are a powerful Belgian labor party, they are an inconsiderable minority.”

Today the wire brings us the news that 20 Belgian communist have been arrested, among them three members of the party leadership of whose names we are not informed. They will be accused of some frightful crime, perhaps even of high treason. But what has happened that democratic Belgium, whose advantages were so highly praised and favorably compared with Soviet Russian barbarity, has suddenly become so disturbed?

The Communist Party of Belgian, though young and weak, has manfully protested against the participation of Belgium in the rapacious raid on the Ruhr. The Belgian bourgeoisie declared to the workers of Belgium that they were obliged, on behalf of the welfare of the Belgian people to loot Germany. The Belgian communists reminded the Belgian miners that, despite the enormous gains of the colliery owners, they are living in want and misery. They issued the slogan: No campaign against the German miners (whom the representatives of Belgian capitalism are treating precisely as General Beseler and other representatives of the then victorious German militarism treated the Belgian miners), but a campaign against the Belgian capitalists. When the movement began among the Belgian miners, Mr. Vandervelde’s party ran lor help to the Belgian capitalists, and began to hunt down the communists. But it turned out that the Belgian communist party, despite its youth and weakness, had the greater influence, and that the fit of jingoism evoked by the German invasion of 1914, and the subsequent sufferings of the Belgian working masses, and even more by the victory of the Entente, is now over. The miners did not follow Mr. Vandervelde, but rather responded to the appeals made by the Belgian communists Jacquemotte and van Overstraaten.

As soon as this happened, it appeared that Belgian democracy is as unapproachable as a chaste maiden uninured to the temptations of life. The Belgian government tolerated the agitation of the communists so Tong as it was convinced that Mr. Vandervelde and his party could cope alone with the communist danger. But so soon as it became evident that the communists can place themselves at the head of an elementary movement among workers who have lost their faith in Vandervelde, then the Belgian bourgeoisie fell upon the communists, and flung ppen the doors of the prisons for their reception. It is possible that Mr. Vandervelde, with the skill peculiar to him, will even protest against these arrests. Mr. Vandervelde invariably makes a point of protesting whenever the bourgeoisie, with his assistance, prosecutes its aims. Then he washes his hands in innocence exclaiming: “I protest”. But nobody can be deceived by this skilful manoeuvre on M. Vandervelde’s part, he and his party aided their bourgeoisie to maintain power at the moment when it was tottering. Now they protest, with their tongue in their cheek. But the general conclusion which we can draw from this is even more instructive: The bourgeoisie plays with democracy so iong as it is not dangerous to it. But as soon as democratic liberty permits the working class to organize any form of struggle, as soon as it facilitates any preparation for attack on the part of the working class, then the bourgeoisie throws democracy overboard, and bourgeois conjurers manufacture laws on treason against the state.

What has Mr. Vandervelde to say to this?

Last updated on 10 August 2021