ON February 27 Franz Mehring was 70. The most outstanding publicist of German Social-Democracy and at the same time a brilliant historian of its ideological and political development enters his eighth decade in the epoch of the cruellest crisis of world socialism and above all of German Social-Democracy itself. And let us say at once if Mehring is dear and close to us now then it is not as a historian and an honoured publicist of German socialism. The ground is too warm under the feet of all of us to look back and evaluate people according to their historical merits; we have unhesitatingly broken with too many “honoured” figures not as from ideological opponents but as from political enemies. If the historian of the inner struggles of German Social-Democracy is so close to us now then it is because in the present struggle of today he courageously and without hesitation has taken up the position which we consider the post of socialist duty and revolutionary honour. From the very beginning of the war Mehring spoke out in numerous articles and speeches against that treachery, hastily reinforced by the reigning eunuchs in the party courts, which bears the exquisite title of “Civic Peace”. Together with Rosa Luxemburg he published one issue of the journal Internationale, whose very name was at once a programme and a challenge to the party policy of August 4. In the period of the threatening collapse, of the apostasy of some and the passive limpness of others, Mehring’s attack on the policy of the “party court of instance” provided invaluable support for the awakening opposition on the left wing which is now the genuine bearer of the honour of the German proletariat.
In this struggle together with Mehring there stood Rosa Luxemburg who now, after a year’s imprisonment has returned to freedom – to the new struggle. The trenches of militarism dug by the ruling classes have separated both of them, Mehring and Luxemburg, from us. But in this single struggle which we are waging against the class state covered in fresh blood and new condemnations and against its masters, its defenders and its fervent slaves, Mehring and Luxemburg are on one and the same side of the trench which cuts across the whole capitalist world.
In the persons of Franz Mehring and Rosa Luxemburg we greet the spiritual kernel of the revolutionary German opposition with which we are linked by an indissoluble brotherhood in arms.
Nashe Shlovo, No.53, March 3, 1916
Last updated on: 10.4.2007