Comrade Radek

Concluding Speech

Session of Enlarged Executive of C.I.
Fifth Day of Session: Evening

(16 June 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 46, 28 June 1923, pp. 454–455.
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.

June 16, 1923

Most of the comrades who took part in the discussion directed their remarks to the tasks which their parties had to assume in the present situation and thus elaborated my own report. In my concluding speech I shall confine myself chiefly to the remarks of two of the speakers. The speech of Comrade Neurath in reality did not belong to this item of the agenda but to the report already made by Comrade Zinoviev, since the German Party has done nothing, except what the Executive considered to be right; or else it belongs to the report upon fascism insofar as it dealt with the manifestations of Nationalism. When we read the article of Comrade Neurath in the Reichenberg Vorwärts we declared that we were not in agreement with it, since it transferred far too mechanically the events of the year 1914 to the year 1923. The article is based upon entirely incorrect premises. Comrade Neurath is fighting windmills. He says that the German bourgeoisie is reactionary and is not even able to carry on a national defense. We know all that very well without Comrade Neurath telling us. His speech was a speech against a truce with Cuno. But when and where has the German Party ever proposed such a truce?

Comrade Neurath does not understand the essence of the national movement of Germany, and therefore he does not understand what tactics ought to be adopted against nationalism. Tbe outstanding fact in the whole situation is that a great industrial nation has been forced back into the position of a colony. This defeat of the German bourgeoisie gives rise to consequences of the greatest revolutionary significance. If the German bourgeoisie will not permit itself to be flung from the saddle by the proletariat and refuses to assume the burden of the consequences of the Versailles Treaty, then it must attack the Versailles Treaty. This indeed it has done. The Ruhr incidents, regarded historically, signify the attempt of the German bourgeoisie to pass from passive to active resistance. It no longer declared that it is unable to pay, but now declares that it will not pay. When Poincaré, instead of stopping up the holes in the French budget, breaks new holes, when the bourgeoisie, instead of restoring German economy with the help of the Entente, flings it back for a number of years, these facts are of the greatest revolutionary significance. In order to carry on the fight in the Ruhr, the German bourgeoisie was compelled to unleash all the dogs of nationalism and it is now the victim of its own agitation. The case of the French government is the same.

Our position is naturally that we protest against every form of nationalism. But we must ask ourselves whether the victory or the defeat of Poincaré would be a step forward. The victory of Poincaré would strengthen the counter-revolution throughout the whole Versailles system, and it would therefore be a counter-revolutionary fact. Therefore the German Party must say that the whole German working class and the working class of the whole world, the French Included, has an interest in the defeat of Poincaré. Can this be called social-patriotism? It is true the German Social-Democrats in 1914 said that the overthrow of Czarism would be a revolutionary fact. What conclusion did they draw from it? They supported the German government. The difference between then and now is that the German Social-Democrats were not able to draw the revolutionary consequences from the overthrew of Czarism. The Communist Party, on the other hand, declares that simultaneously with the fight against Poincaré it is fighting the Cuno Government and that it is holding itself ready for every revolutionary possibility. Comrade Neurath says that a wave of nationalism was passing over Germany and that we should oppose it instead of adapting ourselves to it. The Party has not only not adapted itself to it, but has sharply opposed every form of nationalism. The German Party has not forgotten what Comrade Neurath has forgotten, namely, the difference between the national and the revolutionary-national interests of Germany, which latter are covered by the revolutionary interests of the proletariat. The German Communist Party must not support a pulley which would open a chasm between the German and the French proletariat. It must resolutely fight the criminal attempt that has been made upon the workers and peasants of the occupied area. But at the same time it must remember that every act that drags Germany down is a danger to the German revolution.

The Russian Bolsheviks before the seizure of power, passed through a similar period when the German fleet attacked Dago and Oesel. At that time we had a majority in the Baltic Fleet and knew that we were on the eve of taking power. And for the very reason that we knew that on the next day we should have to assume responsibility for the fate of Russia, we declared that we .would take up the fight for the defense of Petrograd.

The masses of petty bourgeois and technical intellectuals, who will play a great part in the revolution, face to face with de-classed capitalism, assume the form of a national opposition. If we want to be a workers’ party which desires to fight for power, then we must find a way of approach to these masses, and we will best find it not when we show ourselves afraid to assume responsibility, but when we say that the working class alone can save the nation.

If, when the French marched into the Ruhr, we had declared that we would first defeat Cuno and then attack the French, we should very nearly have become the allies of Poincaré.

The Executive assumes full responsibility for the attitude of the German Party and only regrets that the German bourgeoisie, owing to its selfishness, submitted to defeat. We regard it as the duty of the German working class to take over this fight.

Let me say a word as to the remarks made by the French comrades. The occupation of the Ruhr seems an easier problem for the French workers and peasants. Either the Germans pay, or the burden of taxation in France will become intolerable. Of course, the Party cannot start an artificial movement, but the time for a movement will come in France when Poincaré either falls in spite of the abandonment of the German resistance, or else is unable to satisfy the masses, despite his victory. Victory will bring France nothing, since Germany for the next few years, even with the best will in the world, will be unable to pay her debts. The problem of the iron and coal trusts in the Ruhr is one of many years. If Poincaré was counting upon appearing before the electors in the 1924 elections with German payments, he has miscalculated. He will not be able to avoid a new taxation programme which will impose heavy burdens upon the French workers and peasants.

Later on in the discussions we shall have to adopt resolutions laying down a definite policy upon the important national questions. The intention of this debate was to bring the international significance of this matter clearly before the eyes of the comrades since the international situation does not permit us to adopt a national policy without paying consideration to the International situation.

Last updated on 3 September 2022