L. Trotsky

Austrian Fascism and the Paris Meet

C.I. Impotence Veils Itself
with Parliamentary Cretinism

(June 1933)

Written: 13 June 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 34, 8 July 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2015. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

The strength of Marxism lies in its ability to recognize reality. In the mouth of a Marxist, “parliamentary cretinism” is not an insult but the characteristic of a political system which substitutes for social reality, juridical and moral constructions, a ritual of decorative phrases. The strength of Bolshevism consisted therein, that in Lenin’s person it applied the materialistic method of analysis with the greatest theoretical honesty – not permitting any optimistic neglect to speak out what is, not permitting any consoling illusions – to all the problems of our epoch.

In the fundamental questions of revolutionary policy – in the method of this policy – Stalinism signifies not only a negation of Leninism, but also the worst caricature of it. We can see this anew at the present time in the question of the fate of Austria. The proscription of the Communist party which has not called forth any protest on the part of the Austrian workers, should have, it seems, forced the Moscow organizers of international defeats of the proletariat to reflect on the sad results of their previous works. If the legal Austrian C.P., possessing its own press, showed itself to be unable in the least to offer any resistance whatsoever to the purely police repressions of Austrian Bonapartism, how will it oppose the attacks of the Fascist bands? However, the Moscow Pravda sees in the very suppression of the Austrian section of the C.I., which took place unresisted, a “victory”, or, at least, the immediate introduction to victory. “The Anti-Fascist movement in Austria is growing every day” (!) – writes Pravda of May 28th. “Despite the sabotage of the leaders of the Austrial Social Democracy broad preparations are being made in all countries for the European Anti-Fascist Congress” (our emphasis. – L.T.). In precisely the same manner the Anti-Fascist movement “grew every day in Germany” only to disappear suddenly on the’ 5th of March, no one knows where. These people not only have learned nothing but they always cut their optimism in the same patterns. They are not revolutionists, but priests who repeat this or that formula, made up of consoling lies, at the bedside of the dying.

However, precisely in what is the anti-Fascist movement manifested? And why does it pass over the proscription of the Austrian C. P. in silence? It was very busy, this movement “which is growing every day”, with other more important tasks: the preparation of the Barbusse Congress in Paris. This is an example of parliamentary cretinism which should open the eyes of the most backward workers! It is wrong to think that a parliament is necessary for parliamentary cretinism; in general shaded rostrums are sufficient, forums removed from the arena of struggle from which false speeches can be made, barren formulas paraded, and twenty-four hour “alliances” concluded with journalists, pacifists, outraged radicals, tenors, and baritones.

Naturally it is foolish to believe that there are “broad preparations in every country” for the Paris masquerade. Beaten down by unemployment, the police, the Fascist bands, the betrayal of the social democracy, and the impotence of the C.P., the Austrian proletariat is hardly interested in the lyricism of Barbusse, in the rhetoric of Bergery, and in the petty machinations of Muenzenberg. In what manner can the international meeting in Paris change anything in the Austrian situation which not in, ten years, nor in five, but this very day is moving towards the complete suppression of the proletariat? Isn’t it clear that, by speaking in its boastful tone on the Paris Congress, Pravda completely reveals its real significance: to sidetrack attention from reality to fiction, from the conquest of the masses to the parliamentary game, from the irreconcilable clash of the classes to collaboration with the “free-lancers”, from the streets of Vienna to a luxurious hall in a rich quarter of Paris, from civil war to an exercise in empty rhetoric? In other words: from the methods of Bolshevism to parliamentary cretinism.

The paper Rundschau, published in Basle by the Stalinist bureaucracy, which seems specially destined to prevent the German workers from drawing the necessary lessons of the catastrophe, quotes the article from Pravda referred to above, in its issue No. 17 as a great revelation. Do not lose courage, Austrian proletarians; Barbusse, allied with your Renner (see Barbusse’s paper, Monde) are keeping watch over you! And, as if to complete the picture of political decay, the same number of the Rundschau prints a leading article on the present relations between Germany and Austria. A “revolutionary” philistine relates that “for the first time” (!) in the relations of the two countries, “Hitler has recourse to reprisals against Austria to force measures of internal policy from that government”. For the first time in the relations of the two states! The article concludes with the following remarkable words: “The relations between Germany and Austria have never been, since the existence of the Empire, as bad as they are at this moment. Such is the practical result of Hitler’s foreign policy.” It is somewhat unbearable to read this philosophy which is worthy of a conservative Privatdozent (professor). Hitler is conducting a policy of counter-revolutionary realism in Austria. He wins over the petty-bourgeois masses by digging the ground from under unstable Austrian Bonapartism. With obstinacy and perseverance, Hitler is changing the relationship of forces in his favor. He does not fear the straining of relations with Dollfuss. In that he distinguishes himself – and distinguishes himself to his advantage – from Otto Bauer and from ... the Stalinist bureaucracy which does not view the relations between Austria and Germany from the standpoint of the class struggle but from the standpoint of diplomatic cretinism.

Moscow’s enthusiasm for the Paris Congress called to replace the revolutionary struggle in Austria, and the indignation at Basle over the policy of Hitler who does not fear, in the struggle against the Austrian masses, to dispute with Dollfuss himself – “there is no animal stronger than a cat”, says the mouse – this enthusiasm and this indignation complement each other as two forms of parliamentary and diplomatic cretinism. By a minute part the whole can be judged. In many cases one can precisely determine the sickness by a symptom, These two articles are enough – one in Pravda, the other in the Rundschau – to say: perhaps the Centrist bureaucracy has adequate means at its disposal to hire expensive halls in Paris and to publish bulky papers in Basle, but Bureaucratic Centrism as a revolutionary current is dead, it decomposes before our eyes and poisons the atmosphere.

Prinkipo, June 13, 1933

L. Trotsky

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Last updated on: 22 October 2015