Alexander Schwab

Report on the Political Situation


The appeal which you have just approved already describes the political situation. The political situation is presently best characterised by clearly realising that the bourgeoisie is split into two contesting fractions. And this is so not only in Germany, but also in the camp of the Entente. The first is the fraction to which the militarists and heavy industrialist belong, which arms the reaction and stands for the maintenance of the residents' militia, taking its mood from the Hungarian events. In England, this is the weaker fraction which wants to give Poland military aid. The leading power among the bourgeoisie which is battle-ready is the French bourgeoisie, and precisely because it sees itself threatened by an economic and financial collapse, because it has no more time to wait upon the peaceful methods of the English fraction. The other fraction is that which in England is represented by Lloyd George and in Germany by the Democratic Party. It is the direction which believes it can once again deal with the problem of the day, the World Revolution, through negotiations. This fraction, which still has time for such negotiations and ways of behaving, is therefore led by the English bourgeoisie, which is much less threatened by the collapse of the Western European economy. You could almost believe that our German Centre Parties are serious in the neutral application of the disarmament law, that they really would like to disarm both sides and participate in the English affair in Russia. But it must be clear that this fraction cannot win in the long run, and precisely because they have nothing to fight with. The material means of fighting are in the hands of the extreme right, whereas the mass action tool of struggle lies in the hands of the working class. This fraction of negotiators must be worn away in the struggle between the real powers. Support for the reactionary fraction is, in the main, localised in Hungary, Bavaria and East Prussia. Starting from Bavaria and Hungary they will try to create a reactionary block to crush Austria. The situation there is exactly the opposite to ours, where in the course of time a revolutionary block will be created which will crush the third reactionary outpost, the Polish nobility and the Polish bourgeoisie. One of the key areas is necessarily Upper Silesia; for only on its basis will the economic power be found which is necessary for the conduct of every war. On the other hand, as far as the Western coal fields are concerned, it must be assumed that they will fall into the hands of the reaction. The midday edition of today's paper carries a credible report according to which the Polish preparations for "aid for Poland" have been undertaken and a mass of rail workers has been assembled at the border, as they are naturally assuming that in Germany the rail workers will resist the transport of French troops through Germany. They want to break this resistance by using their own workers. For this reason, we must assume that the French bourgeoisie will soon push forward, because their situation forces them to look for a rapid solution, and that we will have the reactionary struggle brought into the country from the West.

Our internal situation is, on the contrary, focussed on the question of the disarmament law. I would be happy if we still had time to stage a great manoeuvre against the law, but we do not have time for this. It would be better if we did. For I don't believe that our organisation is sufficiently prepared for the economic and military struggle for us to take up the struggle with a good conscience and a clear belief in success. It would be better, I believe, if we could focus interest on the disarmament action and could then see where the hidden weaknesses of our organisation were, where things could be improved, so that we could be in the position to bring the USPD masses to us. We must keep our eye open, so that we do not miss any phase pass by in which we could, through direct connections with the proletariat, make clear the inhibitions and betrayals of the USPD leaders. We already know that this will happen and we are tying the masses ever more tightly to our slogans. If we think of the possibility of a reactionary action from the West being carried into the country, we must also think for a moment of a second danger: the danger of a nationalist intoxication, which could, under certain circumstances, pass through the country. We can be sure that the militarists will try all sorts of things. The politics of the reactionary papers are clearly those of preparation for an alliance with Russia against the West. The interests of the militarists are completely clear in following a line, and this line can only be carried out, if they succeed in confusing our thoughts, so that the masses are drawn into a common fight with Russia against the West, but under the leadership of reactionary militarists. This is a real danger which we must not underestimate. Germany does not consist of industrial cities alone. In the open countryside nationalist ideology is still deeply rooted. There would be a swarm of volunteers from the countryside. We must be prepared for this danger and stop this situation from being used by the old ruling caste to put itself in the saddle again. The Hamburg tendency is a most dangerous contribution to these reactionary politics.

It remains the fact that piecemeal actions are one of the greatest dangers for the proletariat. It is an ancient basic tenet of the militarists to strike down the first unit that marches, before it can form an army. This theory is inbred in the bone of our reaction and it is clear that they will act according to it. The slogans of the day must also be clear, so that the enemy only comes up against an undivided front and never find the opportunity of knocking out groups one by one. This question of centralism must not be considered as before, but only from this purely practical standpoint. I believe that, if we do not march forwards too quickly or too slowly in the coming struggles, we can arrive at our first goal. May our next Congress fall in a much more difficult situation: one where we must defend what we have won. [Applause]


Last updated on: 10.27.2011