Transcribed for the Trotsky Internet Archive,
now part of the Marxists’ Internet Archive,
by David Walters in 1996
The War and the International Index
Chapter IV The War Against the West
Chapter V The War of Defence
Chapter VI What Have Socialists to do with Capitalist Wars?
Chapter VII The Collapse of the International
GLOSSARY OF NAMES
ON his return from his diplomatic trip to Italy, Dr. Südekum wrote in the Vorwaerts that the Italian comrades did not sufficiently comprehend the nature of Czarism. We agree with Dr. Südekum that a German can more easily understand the nature of Czarism as he experiences daily, in his own person, the nature of Prussian-German absolutism. The two “natures” are very closely akin to each other.
German absolutism represents a feudal-monarchical organization, resting upon a mighty capitalist foundation, which the development of the last half-century has erected for it. The strength of the German army, as we have learned to know it anew in its present bloody work, consists not alone in the great material and technical resources of the nation, and in the intelligence and precision of the workman-soldier, who had been drilled in the school of industry and his own class organizations. It has its foundations also in its Junker officer caste, with its master class traditions, its oppression of those who are below and its subordination to those who are above. The German army, like the German state, is a feudal-monarchical organization with inexhaustible capitalist resources. The bourgeois scribblers may chatter all they want about the supremacy of the German, the man of duty, over the Frenchman, the man of pleasure; the real difference lies not in the racial qualities, but in the social and political conditions. The standing army, that closed corporation, that self-sufficing state within the state, remains, despite universal military service, a caste organization that in order to thrive must have artificial distinctions of rank and a monarchical top to crown the commanding hierarchy.
In his work, The New Army, Jaurès showed that the only army France could have is one of defence built on the plan of arming every citizen, that is, a democratic army, a militia. The bourgeois French Republic is now paying the penalty for having made her army a counterpoise to her democratic state organization. She created, in Jaurés, words, “a bastard regime in which antiquated forms clashed with newly developing forms and neutralized each other.” This incongruity between the standing army and the republican regime is the fundamental weakness of the French military system.
The reverse is true of Germany. Germany’s barbarian retrograde political system gives her a great military supremacy. The German bourgeoisie may grumble now and then when the praetorian caste spirit of the officers’ corps leads to outbreaks like that of Zabern.  They may make wry faces at the crown Prince and his slogan, “Give it to them! Give it to them!” The German Social Democracy may inveigh ever so sharply against the systematic personal ill-treatment of the German soldier, which has caused proportionately twice as many suicides in the German barracks as in the barracks of any other country. But for all that, the fact that the German bourgeoisie has absolutely no political character and that the German Socialist party has failed to inspire the proletariat with the revolutionary spirit has enabled the ruling class to erect the gigantic structure of militarism, and so place the efficient and intelligent German workmen under the command of the Zabern heroes and their slogan, “Give it to them”.
Professor Hans Delbrück seeks the source of Germany’s military strength in the ancient model of Teutoburgerwald , and he is perfectly justified.
“The oldest Germanic system of warfare,” he writes, “was based on the retinue of princes, a body of specially selected warriors, and the mass of fighters comprising the entire nation. This is the system we have today also. How vastly different are the methods of fighting now from those of our ancestors in the Teutoburgerwald! We have the technical marvels of modern machine guns. We have the wonderful organization of immense masses of troops, and yet our military system is at bottom the same. The martial spirit is raised to its highest power, developed to its utmost in a body which once was small but now numbers many thousands, a body giving fealty to their War Lord, and by him, as by the princes of old, regarded as his comrades; and under their leadership the whole people, educated by them and disciplined by them. Here we have the secret of the warlike character of the German nation.”
The French Major, Driant, looks on at the German Kaiser in his White Cuirassier’s uniform, undoubtedly the most imposing military uniform in the world, and republican by constraint that he is, his heart is filled with a lover’s jealousy. And how the Kaiser spends his time “in the midst of his army, that true family of the Hohenzollerns!” The Major is fascinated.
The feudal caste, whose hour of political and moral decay had struck long ago, found its connection with the nation once more in the fertile soil of imperialism. And this connection with the nation has taken such deep root that the prophecies of Major Driant, written several years ago, have actually come true prophecies that until now could only have appeared as either the poisonous promptings of a secret Bonapartist, or the driveling of a lunatic.
“The Kaiser,” he wrote is the Commander in Chief and behind him stands the entire working class of Germany as one man ... Bebel’s Social Democrats are in the ranks, their fingers on the trigger, and they too think only of the welfare of the Fatherland. The ten-billion war indemnity that France will have to pay will be a greater help to them than the Socialist chimeras on which they fed the day before.”
Yes, and now they are writing of this future indemnity even in some Social Democratic (!) papers, with open rowdy insolence‘an indemnity, however, not of ten billions, but of twenty or thirty billions.
Germany’s victory over France – a deplorable strategic necessity, according to the German Social Democrats – would mean not only the defeat of France’s standing army; it would mean primarily the victory of the feudal-monarchical state over the democratic-republican state.
For the ancient race of Hindenburgs, Moltkes and Klucks, hereditary specialists in mass-murder, are just as indispensable a condition of German victory as are the 42 centimeter guns, the last word in human technical skill.
The entire capitalist press is already talking of the unshakable stability of the German Monarchy, strengthened by the War. And German professors, the same who proclaimed Hindenburg a doctor of All the Sciences, are already declaring that political slavery is a higher form of social life.
“The democratic republics, and the so-called monarchies that are under subjection to a parliamentary regime, and all the other beautiful things that were so extolled‘what little capacity they have shown to resist the storm!”
These are the things that the German professors are writing now. It is shameful and humiliating enough to read the expressions of the French Socialists, who had proved themselves too weak to break the alliance of France with Russia or even to prevent the return to three years’ military service, but who, when the War began, never the less donned their red trousers and set out to free Germany. But we are seized with a feeling of unspeakable indignation on reading the German Socialist party press, which in the language of exalted slaves extols the brave heroic caste of hereditary oppressors for their armed exploits on French territory.
On August 15, 1870, when the victorious German armies were approaching Paris, Engels wrote in a letter to Marx, after describing the confused condition of the French defence:
“Nevertheless, a revolutionary government, if it comes soon, need not despair. But it must leave Paris to its fate, and continued carry on the war from the South. It is then still possible that such a government may hold out until arms and ammunition are brought and a new army organized with which the enemy can be gradually pushed back to the frontier. That would be the right ending to the war for both countries to demonstrate that they cannot be conquered.”
And yet there are people who shout like drunken helots, “On to Paris.” And in doing so they have the impudence to invoke the names of Marx and Engels. In what measure are they superior to the thrice despised Russian liberals who crawled on their bellies before his Excellency, the military Commander, who introduced the Russian knout into East Galicia. It is cowardly arrogance this talk of the purely “strategic” character of the war on the Western front. Who takes any account of it? Certainly not the German ruling classes. They speak the language of conviction and of main force. They call things by their right names. They know what they want and they know how to fight for it.
The Social Democrats tell us that the War is being waged for the cause of national independence. “That is not true,” retorted Herr Arthur Dix.
“Just as the high politics of the last century,” wrote Dix, “owed its specially marked character to the National Idea, so the political- world events of this century stand under the emblem of the Imperialistic Idea. The imperialistic idea that is destined to give the impetus, the scope and the goal to the striving for power of the great.” (Der Weltwirtschaftskrieg, 1914, p.3).
“It shows gratifying sagacity,” says the same Herr Arthur Dix, “on the part of those who had charge of the military preparations of the war, that the advance of our armies against France and Russia in the very first stage of the War took place precisely where it was most important to keep valuable German mineral wealth free from foreign invasion, and to occupy such portions of the enemy’s territory as would supplement our own underground resources” (Ibid., p.38)
The “strategy” of these wait and see Socialists, who now speak in whispers, really begins with the robbery of mineral wealth. The Social Democrats tell us that the War is a war of defence.
But Herr George Irmer says clearly and distinctly:
“People ought not to be talking as through it were a settled thing that the German nation had come too late for rivalry for world economy and world dominion‘that the world has already been divided. Has not the earth been divided over and over again in all epochs of history?” (Los vom englischen Weltjoch, 1914, p.42.)
The Socialists try to comfort us by telling us that Belgium has only been temporarily crushed and that the Germany will soon vacate their Belgian quarters. But Herr Arthur Dix, who knows very well what he wants, and who has the right and the power to want it, writes that what England fears most, and expressly so, is that Germany should have an outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.
“For this very reason, he continues, “we must neither let Belgium go out of our hands, nor must we fail to make sure that the coast line from Ostend to the Somme shall not again fall into the hands of any state which may become a political vassal of England. We must see to it that in some form or other German influence is securely established there.”
In the endless battles between Ostend and Dunkirk, sacred “strategy” is now carrying out this program of the Berlin stock exchange, also.
The Socialists tell us that the War between France and Germany is merely a brief prelude to a lasting alliance between those countries. But here, too, Herr Arthur Dix shows all the cards. According to him, “there is but one answer: to seek to destroy the English world’ trade, and to deal deadly blows at English national economy.”
“The aim for the foreign policy of the German Empire for the next decades is clearly indicated,” Professor Franz von Liszt announces. “‘Protection against England,’ that must be our slogan.” (Ein mitteleuropaischer Staatenverband, 1914, p.24.)
“We must crush the most treacherous and malicious of our foes, cries a third. “We must break the tyranny which England exercises over the sea with base self-seeking and shameless contempt of justice and right.”
The War is directed not against Czarism, but primarily against England’s supremacy on the sea.
“It may be said,” Professor Schiemann confesses, “that no success of ours has given us such joy as the defeat of the English at Maubeuge and St. Quentin on August 28th.”
The German Social Democrats tell us that the chief object of the War is the ‘settlement with Russia”. But plain, straightforward Herr Rudolf Theuden wants to give Galicia to Russia with North Persia thrown in. Then Russia “would have got enough to be satisfied for many decades to come. We may even make her our friend by it.”
“What ought the War to bring us?” asks Theuden, and then he answers:
“The chief payment must be made us by France France must give us Belfort, that part of Lorraine which borders on the Moselle, and, in case of stubborn resistance, that part as well which borders the Maas. If we make the Maas and the Moselle German boundaries, the French will some day perhaps wean themselves away from the idea of making the Rhine a French boundary.”
The bourgeois politicians and professors tell us that England is the chief enemy; that Belgium and France are the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean; that the hope of a Russian indemnity is only a Utopian dream, anyway; that Russia would be more useful as friend than as foe; that France will have to pay in land and in gold – and the Vorwaerts exhorts the German workers to “hold out until the decisive victory is ours.”
And yet the Vorwaerts tells us that the War is being waged for the independence of the German nation, and for the liberation of the Russian people. What does this mean? Of course we must look for ideas, logic and truth where they do not exist. This is simply a case of an ulcer of slavish sentiments bursting open and foul pus crawling over the pages of the working men’s press. It is clear that the oppressed class which proceeds too slowly and inertly on its way toward freedom must in the final hour drag all its hopes and promises through mire and blood, before there arises in its soul the pure, unimpeachable voice‘the voice of revolutionary honor.
“THE thing for us to do now is to avert this danger (Russian’ despotism), and to secure the culture and independence of our land. Thus we will make good our word, and do what we have always said we would. In the hour of danger we will not leave our Fatherland in the lurch ... Guided by these principles we vote for the war credits.”
This was the declaration of the German Social Democratic fraction, read by Haase in the Reichstag session of August 4th.
Here only the defence of the fatherland is mentioned. Not a word is said of the “liberating” mission of this War in behalf of the peoples of Russia, which was later sung in every key by the Social Democratic press. The logic of the Socialist press, however, did not keep pace with its patriotism. For while it made desperate efforts to represent the War as one of pure defence, to secure the safety of Germany’s possessions, it at the same time pictured it as a revolutionary offensive war for the liberation of Russia and of Europe from Czarism.
We have already shown clearly enough why the peoples of Russia had every reason to decline with thanks the assistance offered them at the point of the Hohenzollern bayonets. But how about the “defensive” character of the War?
What surprises us even more than what is said in the declaration of the Social Democracy is what it conceals and leaves unsaid. After Hollweg had already announced in the Reichstag the accomplished violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxembourg as a means of attacking France, Haase does not mention this fact in a single word. This silence is so monstrous that one is tempted to read the declaration a second and a third time. But in vain. The declaration is written as though such countries as Belgium, France and England had never existed on the political map of the German Social Democracy.
But facts do not cease to be facts simply because political parties shut their eyes to them. And every member of the International has the right to ask this question of Comrade Haase, “What portion of the five billions voted by the Social Democratic fraction was meant for the destruction of Belgium?” It is quite possible that in order to protect the German fatherland from Russian despotism it was inevitable that the Belgian fatherland should be crushed. But why did the Social Democratic fraction keep silent on this point?
The reason is clear. The English Liberal government, in its effort to make the War popular with the masses, made its plea exclusively on the ground of the necessity of protecting the independence of Belgium and the integrity of France, but utterly ignored its alliance with Russian Czarism. In like manner, and from the same motives, the German Social Democracy speaks to the masses only about the war against Czarism, but does not mention even by name Belgium, France and England. All this is of course not exactly flattering to the international reputation of Czarism. Yet it is quite distressing that the German Social Democracy should sacifice its own good name to the call to arms against Czarism. Lassalle said that every great political action should begin with a statement of things as they are. Then why does the defence of the fatherland begin with an abashed silence as to things as they are? Or did the German Social Democracy perhaps think that this was not a “big political action”?
Anyway, the defence of the fatherland is a very broad and very elastic conception. The world castastrophe began with Austria’s ultimatum to Serbia. Austria, naturally, was guided solely by the need of defending her borders from her uneasy neighbour. Austria’s rop was Germany. And Germany, in turn, as we already know, was prompted by the need to secure her own state. “It would be senseless to believe,” writes Ludwig Quessel on this point, “that one wall could be torn away from this extremely complex structure (Europe) without endangering the security of the whole edifice.”
Germany opened her “defensive war with an attack upon Belgium, the violation of Belgium’s neutrality being allegedly only a means of breaking through to France along the line of least resistance. The military defeat of France also was to appear only as a strategic episode in the defence of the fatherland.
To some German patriots this construction of things did not seem quite plausible, and they had good grounds for disbelieving it. They suspected a motive which squared far better with the reality. Russia, entenag upon a new era of military preparation, would be a far greater menace to Germany in two or three years than she was then. And France during that time would have completely carried out her threeyear army reform. Is it not clear, then, that an intelligent self-defence demanded that Germany should not wait for the attack of her enemies but should anticipate them by two years and take the offensive at once? And isn’t it clear, too, that such an offensive war, deliberately provoked by Germany and Austria, is in reality a preventive war of defence?
Not infrequently these two points of view are combined in a single argument. Granted that there is some slight contradiction between them. The one declares that Germany did not want the War now and that it was forced upon her by the Triple Entente, while the other implies that war was disadvantageous to the Entente now and that for that very reason Germany had taken the initiative to bring on the War at this time. But what if there is this contradiction? It is lightly and easily glossed over and reconciled in the saving concept of a war of defence.
But the belligerents on the other side disputed this advantageous position of being on the defensive, which Germany sought to assume, and did it successfully. France could not permit the defeat of Russia on the ground of her own self-defence. England gave as the motive for her interference the immediate danger to the British Islands which a strengthening of Germany’s position at the mouth of the Channel would mean. Finally, Russia, too, spoke only of self-defence. It is true that no one threatened Russian territory. But national possessions, mark you, do not consist merely in territory, but in other, intangible factors as well, among them, the influence over weaker states. Serbia “belongs” in the sphere of Russian influence and serves the purpose of maintaining the so-called balance of power in the Balkans, not only the balance of power among the Balkan States but also between Russian and Austrian influence. A successful Austrian attack on Serbia threatened to disturb this balance of power in Austria’s favour, and therefore meant an indirect attack upon Russia. Sasonov undoubtedly found his strongest argument in Quessel’s words: “It would be senseless to believe that one wall could be torn away from the extremely complex structure (Europe) without endangering the security of the entire edifice.”
It is superfluous to add that Serbia and Montenegro, Belgium and Luxembourg, could also produce some proofs of the defensive character of their policy. Thus, all the countries were on the defensive, none was the aggressor. But if that is so, then what sense is there in opposing the claims of defensive and offensive war to each other? The standards applied in such cases differ greatly, and are not frequently quite incommensurable.
What is of fundamental importance to us Socialists is the question of the historical role of the War. Is the War calculated to effectively promote the productive forces and the state organizations, and to accelerate the concentration of the working class forces Or is the reverse true, will it act as a hindrance? This matenalistic evaluation of wars stands above all formal or external considerations, and in its nature has no relation to the question of defence or aggression. And yet sometimes these formal expressions about a war designate with more or less truth the actual significance of the war. When Engels said that the Germans were on the defensive in 1870, he had least of all the immediate political and diplomatic circumstances in mind. The determining fact for him was that in that war Germany was fighting for her right to national unity, which was a necessary condition for the economic development of the country and the Socialist consolidation of the proletariat. In the same sense the Christian peoples of the Balkans waged a war of defence against Turkey, fighting for their right to independent national development against the foreign rule.
The question of the immediate international political conditions leading to a war is independent of the value the war possesses from the historico-materialistic point of view. The German war against the Bonapartist Monarchy was historically unavoidable. In that war the right of development was on the German side. Yet those historical tendencies did not, in themselves, predetermine the question as to which party was interested in provoking the war just in the year 1870. We know now very well that international politics and military conside?ations induced Bismark to take the actual initiative in the war. It might have happened just the other way, however. Witk greater foresight and energy, the government of Napoleon III could have anticipated Bismarck, and begun the war a few years earlier. That would have radically changed the immediate political aspect of the events, but it would have made no difference in the historic estimate of the war.
Third in order is the factor of diplomacy. Diplomacy here has a twofold task to perform. First, it must bring about war at the moment most favourable for its own country from the international as well as the military standpoint. Second, it must employ methods which throw the burden of responsibility for the bloody conflict, in public opinion, on the enemy government. The exposure of diplomatic trickery, cheating and knavery is one of the most important functions of Socialist political agitation. But no matter to what extent we succeed in this at the crucial juncture, it is clear that the net of diplomatic intrigues in themselves signifies nothing either as regards the historic role of the war or its real initiators. Bismarck’s clever manoeuvres forced Napoleon III to declare war on Prussia although the actual initiative came from the German side.  Next follows the purely military aspect. The strategic plan operations can be calculated chiefly for defence or attack, regardless of which side declared the war and under what conditions. Finally, the first tactics followed in the carrying out of the plan not infrequently play a great part in a strategic estimating the war as a war of defence or of aggression.
“It is a good thing,” wrote Engels to Marx on July 31, 1870, “that the French attacked first on German soil. If the Germans repel the invasion and follow it up by invading Fiench terrifory then it will certainly not produce the same impression as if the Germans had marched into France without a previous invasion In ths way the war remains, on the French side, more Bonapartistic.
Thus we see by the classic example of the Franco Prussian War that the standards for judging whether a war is defensive or agressive are full of contradictions when two nations clash. Then how much more so are they when it is a clash of several nations. If we unroll the tangle from the beginning, we arrive at the following connection between the elements of attack and defence. The first tactical move of the French should, at least in Engels’ opinion, make the people feel that the responsibility of attack rested with the French. And yet the entire strategic plan of the Germans had an absolutely aggressive character. The diplomatic moves of Bismarck forced Bonaparte to declare war against his will and thus appear as the disturber of the peace of Europe, while the military-political initiative in the war came from the Prussian government. These circumstances are by no means of slight importance for the historical estimate of the war, but they are not at all exhaustive.
One of the causes of this war was the growing ambition of the Germans for national self-determination which conflicted with the dynastic pretensions of the French Monarchy. But this national “war of defence” led to the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine and so in its second stage turned into a dynastic war of conquest.
The correspondence between Marx and Engels shows that they were guided chiefly by historical considerations in their attitude towards the war of 1870. To them, of course, it was by no meaps a matter of indifference as to who conducted the war and flow it conducted. “Who would have thought it possible,” Marx writes bitterly, “that twenty-two years after 1848 a nationalist war in Germany could have been given such theoretical expression.” Yet what was of decisive significance to Marx and Engels was the objective consequences of the war. “If the Prussians triumph, it will mean the centralization of the state power – useful to the centralization of the German working class.”
Liebknecht and Bebel, starting with the same historical estimate of the war, were directly forced to take a political position toward it. It was by no means in opposition to the views of Marx and Engels, but, on the contrary, with their perfect acquiescence that Liebknecht and Bebel refused, in the Reichstag, to take any responsibility for this war. The statement they handed in read:
“We cannot grant the war appropriations that the Reichstag is asked to make because that would be a vote of confidence in the Prussian government ... As opponents on principle of every dynastic war, as Social Republicans and members of the International Labour Association, which, without distinction of nationality fights all oppressors and endeavours to unite all the oppressed in one great brotherhood, we cannot declare ourselves either directly or indirectly in favour of the present war.”
Schweitzer acted differently. He took the historical estimate of the war as a direct guide for his tactics – one of the most dangerous of fallacies! – and in voting the war credits gave a vote of confidence to the policy of Bismarck. And this in spite of the fact that it was necessary, if the centralization of state power arising out of the War was to prove useful to the Social Democratic cause, that the working class should from the very beginning oppose the dynastic-Junker centralization with their own class-centralization filled with revolutionary distrust of the rulers.
Schweitzer’s political attitude invalidated those very consequences of the War which had induced him to give a vote of confidence to the makers of the War.
Forty years later, drawing up the balance sheet of his life-work, Bebel wrote:
“The attitude that Liebknecht and I took at the outbreak and during the continuance of the war has for years been a subject of discussion and violent attack, at first even in the Party; but only for a short time. Then they acknowledged that we had been right. I confess that I do not in any way regret our attitude, and if at the outbreak of the war we had known what we learned within the next few years from the official and unofficial disclosures, our attitude from the very start would have been still harsher. We would not merely have abstained, as we did, from voting the first war credits, we would have voted against them.” (Autobiography, Part II, p.167.)
If we compare the Liebknecht-Bebel statement of 1870 with Haase’s declaration in 1914, we must conclude that Bebel was mistaken when he said, “Then they acknowledged that we had been right.” For the vote of August 4th was eminently a condemnation of Bebel’s policy forty-four years earlier, since in Haase’s phraseology, Bebel had then left the fatherland in the lurch in the hour of danger. What political causes and considerations have led the party of the German proletariat to abandon its glorious traditions? Not a single weighty reason has been given so far. All the arguments adduced are full of contradictions. They are like diplomatic communiques which are written to justify an already accomplished act. The leader writer of Die Neue Zeit writes – with the blessing of Comrade Kautsky #8211; that Germany’s position towards Czarism is the same as it was towards Bonapartism in 1870. He even quotes from a letter of Engels: “All classes of the German people realized that it was a question, first of all, of national existence, and so they fell in line at once.” For the same reason, we are told, the German Social Democracy has fallen in line now. It is a question of national existence. “Substitute Czarism for Bonapartism, and Engels’ words are true today.” And yet the fact remains, in all its force, that Bebel and Liebknecht demonstratively refused to vote either money or confidence to the government in 1870. Does it not hold just as well, then, if we “substitute Czarism for Bonapartism”? To this question no answer has been vouchsafed.
But what did Engels really write in his letter concerning the tactics of the labour party?
“It does not seem possible to me that under such circumstances a German political party can preach total obstruction, and place all sorts of minor considerations above the main issue.” Total obstruction! – But there is a wide gap between total obstruction and the total capitulation of a political party. And it was this gap that divided the positions between Bebel and Schweitzer in 1870. Marx and Engels were with Bebel against Schweitzer. Comrade Kautsky might have informed his leader writer, Hermann Wendel, of this fact. And it is nothing but defamation of the dead for Simplicissimus now to reconcile the shades of Bebel and Bismarck in Heaven. If Simplicissimus and Wendel have the right to awaken anybody from his sleep in the grave for the endorsement of the present tactics of the German Social Democracy then it is not Bebel, but Schweitzer. It is the shade of Schweitzer that now oppresses the political party of the German proletariat.
But the very analogy between the Franco-Prussian War and the present War is superficial and misleading in the extreme. Let us set aside all the international relations. Let us forget that the War meant first of all the destruction of Belgium, and that Germany’s main force was hurled not against Czarism but republican France. Let us forget that the starting point of the War was the crushing of Servia, and that one of its aims was the strengthening and consolidation of the arch-reactionary state, Austria-Hungary. We will not dwell on the fact that the attitude of the German Social Democracy dealt a hard blow at the Russian Revolution, which in the two years belore the War had again flared up in such a tempest. We will close our eyes to all these facts, just as the German Social Democracy did on August 4th, when it did not see that there was a Belgium in the world, a France, England, Servia, or Austria-Hungary. We will grant only the existence of Germany.
In 1870, it was quite easy to estimate the historical significance of the war. “If the Prussians win, the centralization of state power will further the centralization of the German working class.” And now?
What would be the result for the German working class of a Prussian victory now? The only territorial expansion which the German working class could welcome, because it would complete the national unity, is a union of German Austria with Germany. Any other expansion of the German fatherland means another step towards the transformation of Germany from a national state to a state of nationalities, and the consequent introduction of all those conditions which render more difficult the class struggle of the proletariat.
Ludwig Frank hoped – and he expressed this hope in the language of a belated Lassallean – that later, after a victorious war, he would devote himself to the work of the “internal building up” of the state. There is no doubt that Germany will need this “internal building up” after a victory no less than before the War. But will a victory make this work easier? There is nothing in Germany’s historical experiences any more than in those of any other country to justify such a hope.
“We regarded the doings of the rulers of Germany (after the victories of 1870) as a matter of course,” says Bebel in his Autobiography. “It was merely an illusion of the Party Executive to believe that a more liberal spirit would prevail in the new order. And this more liberal regime was to be granted by the same man who had till then shown himself the greatest enemy, I will not say of democratic development, but even of every liberal tendency, and who now as victor planted the heel of his cuirassier boot on the neck of the new Empire.” (Vol.II, p.188)
There is absolutely no reason to expect different results now from a victory from above. On the contrary. In 1870 Prussian Junkerdom had first to adapt itself to the new imperial order. It could not feel secure in the saddle all at once. It was eight years after the victory over France before the anti-Socialist laws  were passed. In these forty-four years Prussian Junkerdom has become the imperial Junkerdom. And if, after half a century of the most intense class struggle, Junkerdom should appear at the head of the victorious nation, then we need not doubt that it would not have felt the need of Ludwig Frank’s services for the internal building up of the state had he returned safe from the fields of German victories.
But far more important than the strengthening of the class position of the rulers is the influence a German victory would have upon the proletariat itself. The War grew out of imperialistic antagonisms between the capitalist states, and the victory of Germany, as stated above, can produce only one result territorial acquisitions at the expense of Belgium, France and Russia, commercial treaties forced upon her enemies, and new colonies. The class struggle of the proletariat would then be placed upon the basis of the imperialistic hegemony of Germany, the working class would be interested in the maintenance and development of this hegemony, and revolutionary Socialism would for a long time be condemned to the role of a propagandist sect.
Marx was right when in 1870 he foresaw, as a result of the German victories, a rapid development for the German labour movement under the banner of scientific Socialism. But now the international conditions point to the very opposite prognosis. Germany’s victory would mean taking the edge off the revolutionary movement, its theoretic shallowing, and the dying out of the Marxist ideas.
BUT THE German Social Democracy, we shall be told does not want victory. Our answer must be in the first place that this is not true. What the German Social Democracy wants is told by its press. With two or three exceptions Socialist papers daily point out to the German workingman that a victory of the German arms is his victory. The capture of Maubeuge, the sinking of three English warships, or the fall of Antwerp aroused in the Social Democratic press the same feelings that otherwise are excited by the gain of a new election district or a victory in a wage dispute. We must not lose sight of the fact that the German labour press, the Party press as well as the trade union papers, is now a powerful mechanism that in place of the education of the people’s will for the class struggle has substituted the education of the people’s will for military victories. I have not in mind the ugly chauvinistic excesses of individual organs, but the underlying sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the Social Democratic papers. The signal for this attitude seems to have been given by the vote of the fraction on August 4th.
But the fraction was not thinking of a German victory. It made it its task only to avert the danger threatening from the outside, to defend the fatherland. That was all. And here we come back to the question of wars of defence and wars of aggression. The German press, including the Social Democratic organs, does not cease to repeat that it is Germany of all countries that finds itself on the defensive in this War. We have already discussed the standards for determining the difference between a war of aggression and a war of defence. These standards are numerous and contradictory. Yet in the present case they testify unanimously that Germany’s military acts cannot possibly he construed as the acts of a war of defence. But this has absolutely no influence upon the tactics of the Social Democracy.
From a historical standpoint the new German imperialism is, as we already know, absolutely aggressive. Urged onward by the feverish development of the national industry, German imperialism disturbs the old balance of power between the states and plays the first violin in the race for armaments.
And from the standpoint of world politics the present moment seemed to be most favourable for Germany to deal her rivals a crushing blow – which however does not lessen the guilt of Germany’s enemies by one iota.
The diplomatic view of events leaves no doubt concerning the leading part that Germany played in Austria’s provocative action in Serbia. The fact that Czarist diplomacy was, as usual, still more disgraceful, does not alter the case.
From the standpoint of strategy the entire German campaign was based on a monstrous offensive.
And finally from the standpoint of tactics, the first move of the German army was the violation of the Belgian neutrality.
If all this is defence, then what is attack? But even if we assume that events as pictured in the language of diplomacy admit of other interpretations – although the first two pages of the White Book are very clear as to their meaning – has the revolutionary party of the working class no other standards for determining its policy than the documents presented by a government that has the greatest interest in deceiving it:
“Bismarck duped the whole world,” says Bebel, “and knew how to make people believe that it was Napoleon who provoked the war, while he himself, the peace-loving Bismarck, found himself and his policy in the position of being attacked.
“The events preceding the war were so misleading, that France’s complete unpreparedness for the war, that she herself declared, was generally overlooked, while in Germany, which appeared to be the one attacked, preparations for war had been completed down to the very last agon-nail, and mobilization moved with the precision of clockwork.” (Autobiography, Vol.III, pp.167-168).
After such an historical precedent one might expect more critical caution from the Social Democracy.
It is quite true that Bebel more than once repeated his assertion that in case of an attack on Germany the Social Democracy would defend its fatherland. At the convention held at Essen , Kautsky answered him:
“In my opinion we cannot promise positively to share the government’s war enthusiasm every time we are convinced that the country is threatened by attack. Bebel thinks we are much further advanced than we were in 1870 and that we are now able to decide in every instance whether the war which threatens is really one of aggression or not. I should not like to take this responsibility pon myself. I should not like to undertake to guarantee that we could make a correct decision in every instance, that we shall always know whether a overnment is deceiving us, or whether it is not actually representing the interests of the nation against a war of attack ... Yesterday it was the German government that took the aggressive, tomorrow it will be the French government, and we cannot know if the day after it may not be the English government. The governments are constantly asking turns. As a matter of fact what we are concerned with in case of war is not a national but an international question. For a war between great powers will become a world war and will affect the whole of Europe, not two countries alone. Some day the German government might make the German proletariat believe they were being attacked; the French government might do the same with its subjects, and then we should have a war in which the French and German workingmen would follow their respective governments with equal enthusiasm, and murder each other and cut each other’s throats. Such a contingency must be avoided, and it will be avoided if we do not adopt the criterion of the aggressive or defensive war, but that of the interests of the proletariat, which at the same time are international interests ... Fortunately, it is a misconception to assume that the German Social Democracy in case of war would want to judge by national and not by international considerations, and felt itself to be first a German and then a proletarian party.
With splendid clearness, Kautsky in this speech reveals the terrible dangers – now a still more terrible actuality – that are latent in the endeavour to make the position of the Social Democracy dependent upon an indefinite and contradictory formal estimate of whether a war is one of defence or one of aggression. Bebel in his reply said ilothing of importance; and his point of view seemed quite inexplicable, especially after his own experience of the year 1870.
Nevertheless, in spite of its theoretical inadequacy, Bebel’s position had a quite definite political significance. Those imperialistic tendencies which the danger of war begat excluded the possibility for the Social Democracy’s expecting salvation from the victory of either of the warring parties. For that very reason its entire attention was directed to the preventing of war, and the principal task was to keep the governments worried about the results of a war.
“The Social Democracy,” said Bebel, “Will oppose any government which takes the initiative in war.” He meant his as a threat to Wilhelm II’s government. “Don’t reckon upon us if some day you decide to utilize your cannon and your battleships.” Then he turned to Petrograd and London: “They had better take care not to attack Germany in a miscalculation of weakness from within on account of the obstructionist policy of the powerful German Social Democracy.”
Without being a political doctrine, Bebel’s conception was a political threat, and a threat directed simultaneously at two fronts, the internal front and the foreign front. His one obstinate answer to all historical and logical objections was: “We’ll find the way to expose any government that takes the first step towards war. We are clever enough for that.”
This threatening attitude of not only the German Social Democracy but also of the International Party was not without results. The various governments actually did make every effort to postpone the outbreak of the war. But that is not all. The rulers and the diplomats were doubly attentive now to adapting their moves to the pacifist psychology of the masses. They whispered with the Socialist leaders, nosed about in the office of the International, and so created a sentiment which made it possible for Jaurès and Haase to declare at Brussels, a few days before the outbreak of the War, that their particular governments had no other object than the preservation of peace.  And when the storms broke loose, the Social Democracy of every country looked for the guilty party – on the other side of the border. Bebel’s utterance, which had played a definite part as a threat, lost all weight the instant the first shots were fired at the front iers. That terrible thing took place which Kautsky had prophesied.
What at first glance appeared the most surprising thing about it all is, that the Social Democracy had not really felt the need for a political criterion. In the catastrophe that has occurred to the International the arguments have been notable for their superficiality. They contradicted each other, shifted ground, and were of only secondary significance the gist of the matter being that the father land must be defrnded. Apart from considerations of the historical outcome of the War, apart from considerations of democracy and the class struggle, the fatherland that has come down to us historically must be defended. And defended not because our government wanted peace and was “perfidiously attacked”, as the international penny-a-liners put it, but because apart from the conditions or the ways in which it was provoked, apart from who was right and who was wrong, war, once it breaks out, subjects every belligerent to the danger of invasion and conquest. Theoretical, political, diplomatic and military considerations fall into ruins as in an earthquake, a conflagration or a flood. The government with its army is elevated to theposition of the one power that can protect and save its people. Thelarge masses of the people in actuality return to a pre-political condition. This feeling of the masses, this elemental reflex of the catastrophe, need not be criticized in so far as it is only a temporary feeling. But is quite a different matter in the case of the attitude of the Social Democracy, the responsible political representative of the masses. The political organizations of the possessing classes and especially the power of the government itself did not simply float with the stream. They instantly set to work most intensively and in very vaned ways to heighten this unpolitical sentiment and to unite the masses around the army and the government. The Social Democracy not only did not become equally active in the opposite direction, but from the very first moment surrendered to the policy of the government and to the elemental feeling of the masses. And instead of arming these masses with the weapons of criticism and distrust, if only passive criticism and distrust, it itself by its whole attitude hastened the people along the road to this pre-political condition. It renounced its traditions and political pledges of fifty years with a conspicuous readiness that was least of all calculated to inspire the rulers with respect.
Bethmann-Hollweg announced that the German government was in absolute agreement with the German people, and after the avowal of the Vorwaerts, in view of the position taken by the Social Democracy, he has a perfect right to say so. But he had still another right. If conditions had not induced him to postpone polemics to a more favourable moment, he might have said at the Reichstag session of August 4th, addressing the representatives of the Socialist proletariat:
“Today you agree with us in recognizing the danger threatening our fatherland, and you join us in trying to avert the danger by arms. But this danger has not grown up since yesterday. You must previously have known of the existence and the tendencies of Czarism, and you knew that we had other enemies besides. So by what right did you attack us when we built up our army and our navy? By what right did you refuse to vote for military appropriations year after year? Was it by the right of treason or the right of blindness? If in spite of you we had not built up our army, we should now be hel less in the face of this Russian menace that has broughi you to your senses, too. No appropriations granted now could enable us to make up for what we would have lost. We should now be without arms, without cannons, without fortifications. Your voting today in favour of the war credit of five billions is an admission that your annual refusal of the budget was only an empty demonstration, and, worse than that, was political demagogy. For as soon as you came up for serious historical examination, you denied your entire past!”
That is what the German Chancellor could have said, and this time his speech would have carried conviction. And what could Haase have replied?
“We never took a stand for Germany’s disarmament in the face of dangers from without. Such peace rubbish was never in our thoughts. As long as international contradictions create out of hemselves the danger of war, we want Germany to be safi against foreign invasion and servitude. What we are trying for is a military organisation which cannot – as can an artificially trained organization be made to serve for class exploitation at home and for imperialistic adventures abroad, but will be invincible in national defence. We want a militia. We cannot trust you with the work of national defence. You have made the army a school of reactionary training. You have drilled your corps of officers in the hatred of the most important class of modern society, the proletariat. You are capable of risking millions of lives, not for the real interests of the people, but for the selfish interests of the ruling minority, which you vei with the names of national ideals and state prestige. We do not trust you, and that is why we have declared year after year, Not a single man or a single penny for this class government!’
“But five billions!” voices from both the right and the left might interrupt.
“Unfortunately we are now left no choice. We have no army except the one created by the present masters of Germany, and the enemy stands without our gates. We cannot on the instant replace Wilhelm II’s army by a people’s militia, and once this is so, we cannot refuse food, clothing and materials of war to the army that is defending us, no matter how it may be constituted. We are neither repudiating our past nor renouncing our future. We are forced to vote for the war credits.”
That would have been about the most convincing thing that Haase could have said.
Yet, even though such considerations might give an explanation of why the Socialist workers as citizens did not obstruct the military organization, but simply fulfilled the duty of citizenship forced upon them by circumstances, we should still be waiting in vain for an answer to the principal question: Why did the Social Democracy, as the political organization of a class that has been denied a share in the government, as the implacable enemy of bourgeois society, as the republican party, as a branch of the International why did it take upon itself the responsibility for acts undertaken by its irreconcilable; class enemies?
If it is impossible for us immediately to replace the Hohenzollern army with a militia, that does not mean that we must now take upon ourselves the responsibility for the doings of that army. If in times of peaceful normal state-housekeeping we wage war against the monarchy, the bourgeoisie and militarism, and are under obligations to the masses to carry on that war with the whole weight of our authority, then we commit the greatest crime against our future when we put this authority at the disposal of the monarchy, the bourgeoisie and militarism at the very moment when these break out into the terrible, anti-social and barbaric methods of war. Neither the nation nor the state can escape the obligation of defence. But when we refuse the rulers our confidence we by no means rob the bourgeois state of its weapons or its means of defence and even of attack as long as we are not strong enough to wrest its powers from its hands. In war as in peace, we are a party of opposition, not a party of power. In that way we can also most surely serve that part of our task which war outlines so sharply, the work of national independence. The Social Democracy cannot let the fate of any nation, whether its own or another nation, depend on military successes. In throwing upon the capitalist state the responsibility for the method by which it protects its independence, that is, the violation of the independence of other states, the Socia Democracy lays the cornerstone of true national independence in th consciousness of the masses of all nations. By preserving and developing the international solidarity of the workers, we secure the independence of the nation – and make it independent of the calibre of cannons.
If Czarism is a danger to Germany’s independence, there is only one way that promises success in warding off this danger, and that way lies with us – the solidarity of the working masses of Germany and Russia. But such solidarity would undermine the policy that Wilhelm II explained in saying that the entire German people stood behind him. What should we Russian Socialists say to the Russian workingmen in face of the fact that the bullets the German workers are shooting at them bear the political and moral seal of the German Social Democracy? “We cannot make our policy for Russia, we make it for Germany,” was the answer given me by one of the most respected functionaries of the German party when I put this question to him. And at that moment I felt with particularly painful clearness what a blow had been struck at the International from within.
The situation, it is plain, is not improved if the Socialist parties of both warring countries throw in their fate with the fate’ of their ,governments, as in Germany and France. No outside power, no confiscation or destruction of Socialist property, no arrests and imprisonments could have dealt such a blow to the International as it struck itself with its own hands in surrendering to the Moloch of the state just when he began to talk in terms of blood and iron.
In his speech at the convention at Essen Kautsky drew a terrifying picture of brother rising against brother in the name of a “war of defence"‘as an argument, by no means as an actual possibility. ow that this picture has bec6me a bloody actuality, Kautsky endeavours to reconcile us to it. He beholds no collapse of the international.
“The difference between the German and the French Socialists is not to be found in their standards of judgement, nor in their fundamental point of view, but merely in the difference of their interpretation of the present situation, which, in its turn, is conditioned by the dfference in their geographical position(!). Therefore, this difference can scarcely be overcome while the War lasts. Nevertheless it is not a difference of principle, but one arising out of a particular situation, and so it need not last after that situation has ceased to exist.” (Neue Zeit, 337, p.3.)
When Guesde and Sembat appear as aides to Poincaré, Delcasse and Briand, and as opponents to Bethmann-Hollweg; when the French and German workingmen cut each other’s throats and are not doing so as enforced citizens of the bourgeois republic and the Hohenzollern Monarchy, but as Socialists performing their duty under the spiritual leadership of their parties, this is not a collapse of the International. The “standard of judgement” is one and the same for the German Socialist cutting a Frenchman’s throat as for the French Socialist cutting a German’s throat. If Ludwig Frank takes up his gun, not to proclaim the “difference of principle” to the French Socialists, but to shoot them in all agreement of pi-inciple; and if Ludwig Frank should himself fall by a French bullet – fired possibly by a comrade – that is no detriment to “standards” they have in common. It is merely a consequence of the “difference in their geographical position”. Truly, it is bitter to read such lines, but doubly bitter when they come from Kautsky’s pen.
The International was opposed to the war.
“If, in spite of the efforts of the Social Democracy, we should have war,” says Kautsky, “then every nation must save its skin as best it can. This means for the Social Democracy of every country the same right and the same duty to participate in its country’s defence, and none of them may make of this a cause for casting reproaches (!) at each other.” (Neue Zeit, p.7.)
Of such sort is this common standard to save one’s own skin, to break one another’s skulls in self-defence, and not to “reproach” one another for doing so.
But will the question be answered by the agreement in the standard of judgement? Will it not rather be answered by the quality of this common standard of judgement? Among Bethmann-Hollweg, Sazonov, Grey and Delcasse you also find agreement in their standards. Nor is there any difference of principle between them either. They least of all have any right to cast reproaches at each other. Their conduct simply springs from “a difference in their geographical position.” Had Bethmann-Hollweg been an English Minister, he would have acted exactly as did Sir Edward Grey. Their standards are as like each other as their cannon, which differ in nothing but their calibre. But the question for us is, can we adopt their standards for our own?
“Fortunately, it is a misconception to assume that the German Social Democracy in case of war would want to judge by national and not by international considerations, and felt itself to be first a German and then a proletarian party.”
So said Kautsky in Essen. And now when the national point of view has taken hold of all the workingmen’s parties of the international in place of the international point of view that they held in common, Kautsky not only reconciles himself to this “misconception”, but even tries to find in it agreement of standards and a guarantee of the rebirth of the International.
“In every national state the working class must also devote its entire energy to keeping intact the independence and the integrity of the national territory. This is an essential of democracy, that basis necessary to the struggle and the final victory of the proletariat.” (Neue Zeit, 337, p.4.)
But if this is the case, how about the Austrian Social Democracy” Must it, too, devote its entire energy to the preservation of the non-national and anti-national Austro-Hungarian Monarchy? And the German Social Democracy? By amalgamating itself politically with the German army, it not only helps to preserve the Austro-Hungarian national chaos, but also facilitates the destruction of Germany’s national unity. National unity is endangered not only by defeat but also by victory.
From the standpoint of the European proletariat it is equally harmful whether a slice of French territory is gobbled up by Germany, or whether France gobbles up a slice of German territory. More over the preservation of the European status quo is not a thing at all for our platform. The political map of Europe has been drawn by the point of the bayonet, at every frontier passing over the living bodies of the nations. If the Social Democracy assists its national (or anti-national) governments with all its energy, it is again leaving it to the pdwer and intelligence of the bayonet to correct the map of Europe. And in tearing the International to pieces, the Social Democracy destroys the one power that is capable of setting up a program of national independence and democracy in opposition to the activitiy of the bayonet, and of carrying out this program in a greater or lesser degree, quite independently of which of the national bayonets is crowned with victory.
The experience of old is confirmed once again. If the Social Democracy sets national duties above its class duties, it commits the greatest crime not only against Socialism, but also against the interest’ of the nation as rightly and broadly understood.
AT their Convention in Paris two weeks before the outbreak of the catastrophe, the French Socialists insisted on pledging all branches of the International to revolutionary action in case of a mobilization. They were ihinking chiefly of the German Social Democracy. The radicalism of the French Socialists in matters of foreign policy was rooted not so much in international as national interests. The events of the War have now definitely confirmed what was clear o many then. What the French Socialist Party desired from the sister party in Germany was a certain guarantee for the inviolability of France. They believed that only by thus insuring themselves with the German proletanat could they finally free their own hands for a decisive conilict with national militarism.
The German Social Democracy, for their part, flatly refused to make any such pledge. Bebel showed that if the Socialist parties signed the French resolution, that would not necessarily enable them to keep their pledge when the decisive moment came. Now there is little room for doubt that Bebel was right. As events have repeatedly proved, a period of mobilization almost completely cripples the Socialist Party, or at least precludes the possibility of decisive moves. Once mobilization is declared, the Social Democracy finds itself face to face with the concentrated power of the government, which is supported by a powerful military apparatus that is ready to crush all obstacles in its path and has the unqualified cooperation of all bourgeois parties and institutions.
And of no less importance is the fact that mobilization wakes up and brings to their feet those elements of the people whose social significance is slight and who play little or no political part in tirnes of peace. Hundreds of thousands, nay millions of petty hand-workers, of hobo-proletarians (the riff-raff of the workers), of small farmers and agricultural labourers are drawn into the ranks of the army and put into a uniform, in which each one of these men stands for just as much as the class-conscious workingman. They and their families are forcibly torn from their dull unthinking indifference and given an interest in the fate of their country. Mobilization and the declaration of war awaken fresh expectations in these circles whom our agitation practically does not reach and whom, under ordinary circumstances, it will never enlist. Confused hopes of a change in present conditions, of a change for the better, fill the hearts of these masses dragged out of the apathy of misery and servitude. The same thing happens as at the beginning of a revolution, but with one all-important difference. A revolution links these newly aroused elements with the revolutionary class, but war links them – with the government and the army! In the one case all the unsatisfied needs, all the accumulated suffering, all the hopes and longings find their expression in revolutionary enthusiasm; in the other case these same social emotions temporarily take the form of patriotic intoxication. Wide circles of the working class, even among those touched with Socialism, are carried along in the same current.
The advance guard of the Social Democracy feels it is in the minority; its organizations, in order to complete the organization of the army, are wrecked. Under such conditions there can be no thought of a revolutionary move on the part of the Party. And all this is quite independent of whether the people look upon a particularly war with favour or disfavour. In spite of the colonial character of the Russo-Japanese war and its unpopularity in Russia, the first half year of it nearly smothered the revolutionary movement. Consequently it is quite clear that, with the best intentions in the world, the Socialist parties cannot pledge themselves to obstructionist action at the time of mobilization, at a time, that is, when Socialism is more than ever politically isolated.
And therefore there is nothing particularly unexpected or discouraging in the fact that the working-class parties did not oppose military mobilization with their own revolutionary mobilization. Had the Socialists limited themselves to expressing condemnation of the present War, had they declined all responsibility for it and refused the vote of confidence in their governments as well as the vote for the war credits, they would have done their duty at the time. They would have taken up a position of waiting, the oppositional character of which would have been perfectly clear to the government as well as to the people. Further action would have been determined by the march of events and by those changes which the events of a war must produce on the people’s consciousness. The ties binding the International together would have been preserved, the banner of Socialism would have been unstained. Although weakened for the moment, the Social Democracy would have preserved a free hand for a decisive interference in affairs as soon as the change in the feelings of the working masses came about. And it is safe to assert that whatever influence the Social Democracy might have lost by such an attitude at the begnining of the War, it would have regained several times over once the inevitable turn in public sentiment had come about.
But if this did not happen, if the signal for war mobilization was also the signal for the fall of the International, if the national labour parties fell in line with their governments and the armies without a single protest, then there must be deep causes for it common to the entire International. It would be futile to seek these causes in the mistakes of individuals, in the narrowness of leaders and party committees. They must be sought in the conditions of the epoch in which the Socialist International first came into being and developed. Not that the unreliability of the leaders or the bewildered incompetence of the Executive Committee should ever be justified. By no means. But these are not fundamental factors. These must be sought in the historical conditions of an entire epoch. For it is not a question and we must be very straightforward with ourselves about this – of any particular mistake, not of any opportunist steps, not of any awkward statements in the various parliaments, not of the vote for the budget cast by the Social Democrats of the Grand Duchy of Baden , not of individual experiments of French ministerialism, not of the making or unmaking of this or that Socialist career. It is nothing less than the complete failure of the International in the most responsible historical epoch, for which all the previous achievements of Socialism can be considered merely as a preparation.
A review of historical events will reveal a number of facts and symptoms that should have aroused disquiet as to the depth and solidarity of Internationalism in the labour movement.
I am not referring to the Austrian Social Democracy. In vain did the Russian and Serbian Socialists look for clippings from articles on world politics in the Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung that they could use for Russian and Serbian workingmen without having to blush for the International. One of the most striking tendencies of this journal always was the defence of Austro-German imperialism not only against the outside enemy but also against the internal enemy – and the Vorwaerts was one of the internal enemies. There is no irony in saying that in the present crisis of the International the Wiener Arbeiter-Zeitung remained truest to its past.
French Socialism reveals two extremes – an ardent patriotism, on the one hand, not free from enmity of Germany; on the other hand, the most vivid anti-patriotism of the Hervé type, which, as experience teaches, readily turns into the very opposite.
As for England, Hyndman’s Tory-tinged patriotism, supplementing his sectarian radicalism, has often caused the International political difficulties.
It was in far less degree that nationalistic symptoms could be detected in the German Social Democracy. To be sure, the opportunism of the South Germans grew up out of the soil of particularism, which was German nationalism in octavo form. But the South Germans were rightly considered the politically unimportant rear-guard of the party. Bebel’s promise to shoulder his gun in case of danger did not meet with a single-hearted reception. And when Noske repeated Bebel’s expression, he was sharply attacked in the party press. On the whole the German Social Democracy adhered more stricly to the line of internationalism than any other of the old Socialist Parties. But for that very reason it made the sharpest break with its past. To judge by the formal announcemnets of the party and the articles in the Socialist press, there is no connection between the Yesterday and Today of German Socialism.
But it is clear that such a catastrophe could not have occurred had not the conditions for it been prepared in previous times. The fact that two young parties, the Russian and ther Servbian, remained true to their international duties is by no means a confirmation of the Philistine philosophy, according to which loyalty to principle is a natural expression of immaturity. Yet this fact leads us to seek the causes of the collapse of the Second International in the very conditions of its development that least influenced its younger members.
Notes For Part II
29. Zabern: (Saverne) A mining town in Alsace which had not been completely Germanized since annexation (1870), was the scene of friction between the army and the people in 1913. Lt. Baron von Forstner had insulted the French Flag while drilling recruits. The story leaked out and the recruits were arrested on a charge of betraying military secrets. On November 10, 1913, crowds were fired upon by German troops and Forstner called upon them to give miners a hot time.
On November 28, Forstner said he was insulted in the streets and armed troops were sent out against a crowd of women, children and cripples. Martial law was proclaimed, houses searched and the town judge and public prosecutor locked up for the night with 28 others. On December 3 the matter was taken up by the Reichstag, War Minister Falkenheyn refused to disclose the punishment meted out to Forstner. The Reichstag passed a vote of no-confidence on the Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, 293 to 54. On December 19, the Alsatian recruits were sentenced to three weeks for complaining. On January 4, Reuter, the Commanding Officer, and Forstner were acquitted by Court Martial. The Crown Prince congratulated Forstner and urged him “to keep it up ...” Reuter was also awarded the Order of the Red Eagle.
30. Teutoburgerwald: In the time of Augustus, 9 AD, a Roman legion led by Varus was completely crushed by Herman’s Teutons in the Teutoburger Forest.
31. Bismarck’s clever manoeuvres: See note 5.
32. Anti-Socialist Laws: Prepared by Bismarck since 1862, were put into operation even before they were passed by the Reichstag in October 1878. All extra-parliamentary activity of the Socialists was banned. The laws were repealed in 1890, the year Bismarck was dropped.
33. The Essen Convention of the German Social Democrats took place in 1907. (p.42)
34. On the 29th July 1914, after a meeting of the International Socialist Bureau at Brussels a largely attended public meeting was addressed by Jaurès, the recognized leader of the French Socialists, and Haase, Chairman of the German Social Democracy and head of its Reichstag fraction. Jaurès demonstratively put his arm round Haase, to the applause of the audience.
35. In 1904, in the (South German) Baden Landtag, a coalition between the Social Democrats and the Liberals drafted and voted for a budget. This was the first time that any Socialists had voted for a capitalist budget.
Bebel, August (1840-1913): Marxist of worker origin, Co-founder with Wilhelm Liebknecht of the German Social Democracy 1869. In Reichstag from 1867. Sentenced with Liebknecht to two years’ imprisonment for “treason” (opposition to Franco-German War) in 1872. Leader of the German SD and the 2nd International in pre-war years.
Bethmann-Hollweg, Theobald von (1856-1921): Chancellor of the German Empire 1909-1917. Succeeded von Bülow. Removed on the demand of the Crown Prince, Hindenburg and Ludendorff and dismissed by the Kaiser 11th July 1917. Replaced by Georg Michaelis.
Bismarck, Otto von (1815-1898): Dominated the German and European political scene 1862-1890 as Chancellor. Unified Germany under the domination of Prussia and the Hohenzollerns. Author of the anti-Socialist laws. Dropped by Emperor Wilhelm II in March 1890.
Bonaparte, Louis (Napoleon III) (1808-1873): Nephew of Napoleon I, Emperor of France 1852-1870.
Briand, Aristide (1862-1932): Once a militant member of the French Socialist Party; fought Millerand and his “Ministerialism” but later became Minister of Education 1906-1909. Expelled from SP, he founded the Republican Socialist Party with Millerand (1911). Premier several times, especially October 1915-March 1917. Delegate to the League of Nations.
Bülow, Bernhard von, Prince (1849-1929): German diplomat. German chancellor and Prime Minister of Prussia 1900-1909.
Delbrück, Hans (1848-1929): German military historian. Member of Reichstag 1884-1890.
Delcasse, Theophile (1852-1923): French Foreign Minister 1898-1905, 1914-1916. Promoted Entente Cordiale with British.
Dix, Arthur (1875-1935): German journalist, writer and editor.
Driant, Émile (1855-1916): French soldier, politician and novelist. Son-in-law of General Boulanger. First high-ranking French casualty of Battle of Verdun, 1916.
Falkenhayn, Erich von (1861-1922): German officer. Chief of Staff 1914-1916.
Frank, Ludwig, Dr. (1874-1914): SD Reichstag member. Revisionist, leader of Baden Socialists. Voted for war credits and volunteered for service as private after August 4th. Killed at Baccarat in France soon after, was first MP to die in action. In December 1914 his Reichstag seat was occupied by a wreath.
Grey, Sir Edward (late Viscount) (1862-1933): Liberal MP from 1885. Foreign Secretary December 1905-May 1916. Author of the oft-quoted remark at the beginning of the war: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
Guesde, Jules Basile (1845-1922): Communard. Founder member of French Workers Party 1879. Left-wing socialist. Deputy 1893-1921. Fought reformism and ministerialism. During the War advocated “Sacred Union” with the bourgeoisie. Minister without Portfolio August 1914 to October 1915.
Haase, Hugo (1863-1919): Lawyer of Jewish origin. German Social Democrat. Member International Socialist Bureau and Reichstag Deputy 1897-1918. Succeeded Bebel as leader of SD Parliamentary fraction 1913. Opposed voting for war credits within the Party but succumbed to Majority decision. Founder and leader of Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) 1916. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Colonies in Ebert’s “Socialist” Coalition November 1918. Resigned December 29, 1918. Shot on the steps of the Reichstag by a Monarchist officer.
Hindenburg, Paul von Beneekendorif und von (1847-1934): Prussian militarist. Fought in war against France 1870-71. General in 1903. Retired 1911. Recalled at beginning of War. Victor at Tannenburg 1914 and the Masurian Lakes 1915 against Russia. Later Field Marshal. Succeeded Ebert as President 1925. Co-existed with Hitler from 1932 till his death.
Hohenzollern Dynasty: Frederick of Hohenzollern, Burgrave of Nuremburg was made elector of Brandenburg in 1415. Up to 1609 Brandenburg was a barren region between the Middle Oder and the Middle Elbe. In 1616, the Dukedom of Prussia, a Polish fief since 1466, devolved on Frederick William of Brandenburg, “the Great Elector”. The Dynasty rose after the Peace of Westphalia 1648 with the help of France and England who backed the Protestant rulers against the Roman Catholic rulers of Austria. Under Bismarck’s leadership, the dynasty emerged as the principal power in the North German Federation. After the victory against France 1870, the King of Prussia became Emperor of Germany. The Dynasty ended with the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II on November 9th 1918.
Irmer, Georg (1853-1931): German imperialist. Member of colonial service and later journalist. Governor of the Marshall Islands 1894-1897. German Consul-General in Australia 1907-1911.
Jaurès, Jean Auguste (1859-1914): French Socialist leader. Founder and editor L’Humanité 1904-1914. Right Winger, Leading figure in the 2nd International. Anti-militarist. Assassinated by French officers on 31st July 1914, the eve of the War.
Kautsky, Karl (1854-1938): German Social Democrat. Theoretician of German Social Democracy. Leader of the 2nd International. Author of the Erfurt Programme. A pacifist-centrist in World War I. Later Right-Winger in the Independent Socialist Party (USPD). Rejoined Social Democracy. Died in exile.
Kluck, Alexander von, General (1846-1934): Commander German First Army in World War I. Invaded Belgium and responsible for numerous atrocities.
Lassalle, Ferdinand (1825-l864): German socialist. Founder of the General Association of German Workers (1863). As the only leading German Socialist of his generation not forced into exile, he was able despite his shortcomings, to exert a great influence on the German working class movement. His followers later helped form the German Social Democracy.
Liebknecht, Karl (1871-1919): Left Wing German Social Democrat. Member German Reichstag and Prussian Landtag. Anti-militarist. He was the first, and at first only, Deputy to oppose war credits in the Reichstag in 1914. Drafted during the war, he was imprisoned for anti-war activity, May 1916 to November 1918. Leader International Group and later, Spartacus League. One of the leaders of the Berlin uprising 1919. Assassinated by counter-revolutionary soldiers, January 15th 1919, with Rosa Luxemburg.
Liebknecht, Wilhelm (1826-1900): Friend of Marx, founder and leader of the German Social Democracy. Reichstag Deputy. Jailed 1872 for Opposition to the Franco-Prussian War.
Liszt, Franz von (1851-1919): German academic, jurist and politician. Member of Progressive People’s Party. Member of Reichstag from 1912.
Ludendorff, Erich (1865-1937): German officer. Served on both Western and Eastern Fronts. Became Hindenburg’s Deputy chief of Staff in 1916. Represented Germany during negotiations with Bolsheviks leading to Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Became Commander in Chief on Western Front 1918, organised unsuccessful final German offensive. Fled to Sweden September 1918. In exile laid basis for Dolchstosslegende, the theory that germany would have won teh war except for the fact that the army was betrayed from within by left-wing agitators. Returned to Germany 1920. Early supporter of Nazis, participated in Beer Hall Putsch 1923. Later fell out with Hitler.
Luxemburg, Rosa (1870-1919): Polish Socialist. Joined German Social Democracy 1897. With Karl Liebknecht led Left Wing. Brilliant theoretician (Lenin called her “an eagle”). Imprisoned many times for anti-war activity. Leader of the “Spartacists” and founder of the German Communist Party. Assassinated by reactionary officers January 15th, 1919.
Michaelis, Georg (1857-1936): German civil servant. German Chancellor July-November 1917.
Moltke, Helmuth von, General (The Younger) (1848-1916): Nephew of the Elder Moltke. German Chief of Staff in the early years of World War I.
Noske, Gustav (1868-1946): Right-wing Social Democratic member of Reichstag during World War I. Became Minister of Defence after the German Revolution in November 1918. Organised Freikorps and suppression of the so-called Spartacist uprising in January 1919, during which Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered by right-wing officers. Forced to resign after Kapp Putsch in 1920.
Poincaré, Raymond Nicholas Landry (1860-1934): Premier of France 1912, 1922-24, 1926-29. President 1913-1920. Militarist.
Quessel, Ludwig (1872-193]: German Social Democrat of the extreme Right (Imperialist) Wing. Revisionist. Reichstag 1912-18 and 1920-30. Member Weimar National Assembly 1919-20.
Sazonov, Sergei D. (1861-1927): Russian diplomat. Foreign Minister 1910-1916. Ambassador to London 1917. After the Revolution represented counter-revolutionaries (Kolchak, then Denikin) in Paris.
Schiemann, Theodor (1847-1921): German historian of Baltic German origin. Publisher. Lecturer at the Prussian Academy of War. Friend of the Kaiser.
Schweitzer, Johann Baptist von (1833-1875): President, General Association of German Workers (1867-71). Intrigued with Bismarck. When exposed, 1872, expelled.
Sembat, Marcel (1862-1922): French Socialist. Deputy from 1893. Chauvinist during War. Joined Cabinet of National Defence as Minister of Public Works August 1914-September 1917.
Sudekum, Albert Oskar Wilhelm (1871-1944): German Right-Wing Social Democrat. Revisionist and chauvinist. Reichstag 1900-1918. Visited Italy and Rumania in attempt to win over Socialists to German Imperialism. Minister of Finance of Prussia 1918-1920.
Wendel, Herman: Right Wing German Social Democrat.
Wilhelm II (1859-1941): German Emperor 1888-1918. Last Hohenzollern ruler. Overthrown by the November 1918 revolution, retired to Holland.
Wilhelm (1882-1951): Son of Wilhelm II, Crown Prince of Germany.
Last updated on: 1.5.2007