From New International, Vol. I No. 1, July 1934, pp. 29–30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
ONCE more we are compelled to register the defeat of the working class in two countries. In swift succession, a military coup d’etat in Latvia was followed by another in Bulgaria. The situation in the Baltic country is not yet sufficiently clear to permit of an adequate analysis. The overthrow of the Muschanov cabinet by Kimon Gueorgiev, however, offers fewer unknown factors to the observer. The new regime, in character and origin, bears more the mark of a purely militarist than a Fascist dictatorship, for, in the last ten years at least, there has been precious little of bourgeois “democracy” to be extirpated in Bulgaria. Like all reactionary militarist dictatorships, its measures and outlook have of course a distinctly Fascist flavor. But far more important is the fact that the Gueorgiev coup d’etat definitely brings Bulgaria within the sphere of influence of French imperialism, much to the discomfiture of Herren Hitler and Goring who have been busily engaged in finding points of support throughout Europe. The imperialist power of the French Republic, which Daladicr acclaimed not so long ago as “la dernière tranchée de la liberté”, rests upon the openly militarist despotisms of Yugoslavia, Poland and Bulgaria. As a generation ago, the witches’ cauldron of the Balkans is seething with the intrigue, chicane and conflict which augurs the imminence of a new world war.
Two reactionary coups d’etat within a single week ! And the masses ? And their parties? The two countries are not located in Central Africa. Both of them have a rich proletarian tradition. Latvia was to the Baltic what Bulgaria was to the Balkans: the terrain of the most advanced and most militant revolutionary elements. In recent years, the former has had a large and influential social democracy, the latter a large and influential Communist party. With the experiences of the last year in Germany and Austria before them – to say nothing of the experiences of the last twenty years – what role did these parties play in the recent overturns?
The Basle, press correspondence of the Third International triumphantly reproduces the following Warsaw dispatch:
“The organ of the Polish social democracy, Robotnik, reports that the Lettish social democracy was informed in time of the planned Fascist overturn. As Robotnik writes, a few days before the coup d’etat in Riga a banquet of the commanders of the district organizations of the Aisargi (Fascists) took place. At this banquet, the leader of the Aisargi and confidante of Ulmanis, Anilit, delivered a speech in which he declared that the Aisargi must be prepared for the march on Riga. The social democratic deputies learned of what happened and what was said at the banquet. They confined themselves, however, only to an interpellation in the parliament. No measures at all were undertaken for the mobilization of the working class and the toilers for the struggle against the Fascist overturn by the leaders of the social democracy.” (Rundschau, Nr. 31, p. 1197.)
We have no reason to doubt the report. The international social democracy has learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the) German and Austrian events. They only seek to prevent the workers from learning. The “big” Lettish social democracy might just as well have been non-existent for all the effect it had on the events of the day. Dollfuss. when warned against attacking the Austrian social democracy, retorted with a contemptuous sneer: “There is no danger! The workers will no longer fight for these leaders!” Properly rephrased, it should read: “These leaders will not organize the workers for anything but ignominious defeat.”
If the insignificance of the Communist party in Latvia (despite the famous “stormy revolutionary upsurge”) permits the Stalinists to wax virtuously indignant about the contemptible impotence of the social democracy, what should be said about equally contemptible impotence of Stalinism in Bulgaria, where the proportions are more than reversed? Once before, during the reactionary coup d’etat against the Stambuliski “peasant” regime in September 1923, the Communist party remained quiescent and totally indifferent to the “quarrel in the ranks of the bourgeoisie”. The masses of workers and peasants actively supported the Communists, but the party’s time-marking brought them and itself under the bloody axe of the reaction. It never recovered from this blow.
The Sofia wireless report to the New York Times emphasizes the complete absence of any resistance by Communists and socialists, either in the capital, where the last elections gave the Communist party a majority in the city council, or in the provinces.
When Hitler took power, the Stalinists carefully explained away their miserable retreat by pointing out that they could not have organized a fight against Fascism, and should not have organized one, because the Communist party did not have a majority of the workers behind it (exactly how many percent did the census show to be lacking, and was it certified by a notary public? – Ah, Austro-Marxism, thou hast not lived in vain!) and without 51 percent of the proletariat, resistance would have been a putsch, an adventure, which, as everyone surely knows, is anathema to the pious Stalinists. But Bulgaria?
“In this preponderantly agrarian country,” declare the Stalinists, who promptly add that “Lettish and Bulgarian Fascism have no mass base” – which should be very consoling to its murdered and imprisoned victims – “the Communist party had behind it a majority of the working class, though certain sections, particularly the railroad workers, had not yet been won for the revolutionary cause. The Communist party since 1930 had grown four-fold in membership. It had led tremendous demonstrations and was carrying on brilliant struggles from day to day [?!]. The party of comrade Dimitroff had lived up to the glorious tradition he demonstrated at the Leipzig trial. It is for this reason that the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, endeavoring to preserve itself from doom, decided to play its bloodiest card – Fascism.” (H. Cannes, Daily Worker, May 23, 1934.)
The social reformists could ask for no better argument for their theory that the more support the workers give the Communists the surer is the victory of Fascism! Fortunately, the reverse is true, as Russia and Austria show in opposite ways. And unfortunately, it was not the growing strength of the Communist party that enabled the bourgeoisie to play its reactionary hand so unperturbedly, but the growing impotence of Stalinism. The masses supported the Communist party in Bulgaria as the only way of expressing their solidarity with the social revolution in Bulgaria and the Soviet Union. If they chose a broken-down vehicle for their sentiments, it is only because no other yet exists in that country. Strictly in the tradition of the social democracy, Stalinism again proves its ability to gather votes, and its powerlessness to organize and lead a fighting action. The sterile sponge absorbs votes like water (and even then it leaks through its lacerated pores), but it has no hydraulic force.
Germany, Austria, Latvia, Bulgaria – all within eighteen months! Here is an ominous succession of defeats which speak with tragic eloquence of how little time there is to lose, of how thoroughly and hopelessly bankrupt are the old Internationals. We have dedicated ourselves not merely to “Find out the cause of this effect, “Or rather the cause of this defect, “For this effect, defective conies by cause” but also to rally into action all those who draw the inescapable conclusions imposed upon the revolutionary movement by these significant events.
Last updated on 25 February 2016