This work was translated by David Broder. Reprinted here with the permission from the Alliance for Workers Liberty website.
THE AGENDA OF GLOBAL CAPITAL
The beginning of the workers’ revolution in Germany comes closer and closer. Already the Italian workers are taking action; in the Balkans, in Portugal and in Spain military régimes and fascist dictatorships are collapsing. How much time can be left before the German workers and soldiers break the chains of fascism and the great struggle between the exploited and the exploiters consumes Europe?
It is high time that the Anglo-American capitalists come to the aid of German and European capital. If the brothers of high finance are now determinedly and stubbornly making war with the blood of their respective working classes, they will all the more determinedly and fraternally help each other when they need to defend their sacred rights to private property and capitalist exploitation. The bosses know full well that working-class revolution can be contagious, now more than ever.
But arms alone will not be enough to bat down the European revolution. The people on the ground on the Anglo-Saxon side carrying the weapons are themselves workers and peasants. Of course they have been able to mobilise them to fight against a fascist Germany. But would they let them push them into fighting a proletarian Europe? Didn’t the bourgeoisie already have a tough time in 1918-19 when it tried to strangle the victorious workers’ and peasants’ October revolution in Russia? The mutiny of the French fleet in the Black Sea as well as the strike by British dockers who had to ship arms to Russia may well have left as much trace in the minds of the wealthy capitalists as they have in the memory of the global working class.
What has changed over the last 25 years? The British working class has been radicalised. In 1926, betrayed by the union bureaucrats, the miners held a year-long strike. During the capitalist crisis the American paradise was transformed into a hell for 13 million unemployed workers. Even during the war there has been news of strikes by miners, armaments workers and transport workers in Britain as well as a 600,000-strong strike in America. Will the British and American workers want to fight the revolutionary workers—who will have made clear their interests and their real tasks—after having fraternised them? This problem is not as simple as Messrs Churchill and Roosevelt would have us imagine. They know that perfectly well themselves, which is why they do not want to confront the revolutionary masses of Europe, above all those of Germany, with tanks and machine guns alone, but with a much more effective weapon: poison.
The poison to which we refer is that which the bourgeoisie used to paralyse the revolutionary struggle of the German working class in 1918. It was the Social-Democrat leaders themselves who disoriented the working class with their lies and false promises, dressing one part of the class against another and little by little destroying the gains of the revolution. But this was just the tip of the iceberg for the Social-Democrat bureaucrats. In 1933, after Hitler’s seizure of power, they showed the German workers their true colours. This time around, global capital needs someone else to inject poison into the workers’ blood in Germany and Europe: it is now the task of the bureaucrats in Moscow, brought to power by the isolation of the victorious October revolution. Despite all the little disputes about where borders should lie, it was in the interests of global finance capital that the Russian bureaucracy recently hurried to inject a dose of poison in the arm of the German revolution.
AN APPEAL FROM MOSCOW
The Moscow transmitter has announced the creation of a “National Committee for a Free Germany”. This committee is composed of an émigré poet (its chairman), some captured generals, etc. The ex-Communist poet and the ex-fascist generals have published a manifesto, with five particular points of interest for German workers. 1) They claim that the terrible hardship the German workers have suffered is the work of one man, Hitler. 2) All partisans of Hitler who distance themselves from him will be pardoned. 3) The German soldiers on the front should—under the leadership of their generals —march on Berlin and overthrow Hitler. 4) A “strong”, “independent” and “national” government must be established. 5) Legally acquired property is safeguarded.
German workers and soldiers! Cast your minds back! What happened in 1918? The Kaiser fled, the generals stayed in place. A superficial facade of democracy. We are seeing the same today. In the interests of big capital Moscow is offering you a repeat of the tragedy of 1918, with one small difference: this time around the democratic spectacle will soon come to an abrupt end. What will the German workers do? They will put Moscow’s poison in an envelope and post it back to Stalin with the note: this time, that is not going to work!
For their part, they will make five proposals: 1) When the scores are settled across the globe, Hitler will certainly not get away. But nor will we forget that he and his clique were acting in the service of big capital. The wealthy barons of industry and the German bankers wanted and led this war just as much, and they will cause a third war if we do not one fine day remove their power to do so. 2) If Goering, another Nazi leader or some Gestapo executioner shits himself and decides to distance himself from his once beloved Führer, that will be no reason for sympathy. 3) We ourselves will decide the way forward for our country, even without our generals. We already let them get away with that in 1918, which is why again in 1939 they were able to lead us to war far from home . On the first day of the revolution we will get rid of ranks and we will sack all the officers. We will elect soldiers’ committees with the power to give orders and control all our affairs. 4) We do not want an “independent and national” government! Such a government would not be independent either of the conquering capitalists or our own capitalists, in fact it would be... independent from the control of the workers! On the contrary, we want a government of the workers themselves . We can best achieve this with a system of soviets. This time we will not let them take our soviets from us like in 1918. 5) The petty traffickers and wealthy war profiteers in large-scale industry have made their profits in a perfectly “legal” fashion and have made their giant fortunes in a more or less “legal” fashion. That is because they made the laws themselves. However, the workers will confiscate their businesses and will furthermore make laws obliging everyone to work and abolishing all exploitation.
WE THE SOLDIERS AND THE EVENTS IN ITALY
German soldiers have received the Nazi press’s parsimonious coverage of events in Italy with bewilderment and with anxiety. But through the intermediary of comrades returned from Italy who report on the goings-on there, they know that they have been denied the right to know the truth about the collapse of this most pitiful of fascist régimes in case the parallel which jumps to mind might lead them to more clearly understand the situation in their own country.
Fascism has collapsed because of its inherent weakness, its totally corrupt system of party chieftains which can have no objective other than to exploit the Italian people, above all the Italian workers.
When the British and Americans landed in Italy tens of thousands of fascist militiamen threw down their weapons and fled. Is this all there is to the fascist force so often trumpeted by Mussolini?
German soldiers in Sicily have to suffer and spill their blood in the interests of the Nazis who sent them down there and the fascists who have betrayed them. But what exactly is going on in Italy? Can we hold the Italian workers responsible? As the lamentable failure of the “fascist art of governance” and the repugnant corruption of the bloody party bureaucracy became ever more obvious, an ever-stronger resistance grew among the Italian workers. As popular discontent became ever more sharply posed, finally resulting in strikes which gave it its clearest and most determined expression, the army and the King acted to stave off revolution and save what could be saved at the last minute. The strikes were drowned in blood and a state of emergency was declared. But while these measures could for a while postpone the just victory over fascism and imperialisms of all stripes, in the long run this victory is inevitable.
Knowing what happened in Italy, and the speed with which Mussolini’s clique broke up, it is easy to understand the sombre discretion of the Nazi press’s reports on Italy. German soldiers must not be allowed to draw parallels. They must be bombarded with propaganda, filling his head every day and stopping him from thinking. They know well enough in Berlin that such thoughts can become, and have been proven to become, dangerous for the leading Nazi party dignitaries. Although some of you talk of untrustworthy allies, it is not the Italian people who are to blame. Fascism is at fault. The whole world is today the victim of the folly of the fascist powers and capital’s quest for profit. Stalin, who betrayed the proletarian revolution, is the right-hand-man of this imperialist-capitalist clique.
But the current war, in its terrible absurdity, lays the ground for the future workers’ revolution in every country. The Fourth International will lead it to victory. By an infantryman
Editor’s comments:We wholeheartedly agree with the comrade’s letter. But we would go even further. There can be no question of the ‘blame’ of the Italian people, but only its merit. If in this war—fought not in the interest of the workers but in the interests of capital—the proletariat revolts, whether that be in Britain or America as in Germany, or in Russia as in Italy, there can hardly be any talk of betrayal. We must not talk about the faults of the Italian workers but rather the weakness of the German workers who are still letting themselves go under the butcher’s knife in the name of Hitler and in the interests of the Krupps and Borsigs of this world.
All of you who are in contact with our comrades, tell Arbeiter und Soldat about your opinions and your experiences.
It is your paper!
TALK OF POLITICS FORBIDDEN!
The closer we come to the end of the war, the quieter are the men up above—Adolf, Hermann, Joseph and co. But more and more clearly do those down below, the workers and soldiers, raise their voices in protest. Everywhere people are talking about what is going to happen tomorrow when the war is over. The high authorities themselves who, according to Goebbels, know everything, have now remarked on this. They are trying to make use of tried and tested methods, banning soldiers in various units from talking about politics. But the old charm is not working any more. They are talking about politics more and more angrily, now more than ever before. This murmuring and chatter is the distant echo of the coming revolution.
PEACE! FREEDOM! BREAD!
SOVIET GERMANY: HOW WE WANT IT AND HOW WE DON’T
The degeneration of the Russian revolution of 1917 resulted from numerous particularities of the situation in Russia. The fact that it was a backward agricultural country with a politically weak bourgeoisie with shallow roots in society and the existence of a Bolshevik Party of fierce will and unbreakable energy facilitated the working-class seizure of power. Once power was taken these circumstances showed themselves to be obstacles too. The heavy social weight of the huge, ignorant peasant masses made the industrialisation and administration of the country difficult. The postponement of the European revolution, particularly in Germany, added to the difficulties. The Bolshevik Party was torn apart by internal feuding. It gave birth to a bureaucracy which ruled over the masses just as the Tsarist clique used to. What exists in Russia today—the absolute rule of a bureaucracy which appropriates the guise of Bolshevism as a claim to tradition—has nothing in common with socialism.
But the conditions of the German revolution and the construction of a socialist society in Europe are not the same as what existed in Russia. Below we outline how we conceive of this different type of system developing in Germany:
WE WANT a real dictatorship of the proletariat, which means a democracy of all workers. The basis for workers’ democracy will be the widespread establishment of workers’ and poor peasants’ soviets. The soviet is the most important public body. As the most conscious section of the working class, the party must do its work within the framework of the soviets. WE DO NOT WANT the soviets to be the powerless tools of a party which is itself the submissive stage army of a clique. We oppose the substitution of the rule of the state bureaucracy and its party for the rule of the working class. WE WANT the greatest possible democracy for the workers, with no constraints on faith or religion, freedom of the press or freedom of speech, with unlimited rights of association and coalition for all parties who work within the soviet system. WE DO NOT WANT the tyranny of a party. We oppose the repression of any workers’ party which stands in favour of a workers’ government through the soviet system. WE WANT people’s tribunals composed of workers which deliberate and make their judgements publicly. WE DO NOT WANT a GPU which arbitrarily throws people in prison, deports and shoots them in secrecy. We do not want a legal system which does not recognise rights but only brute force. WE WANT workers’ control of all public officials, who should be subject to recall at any moment. WE DO NOT WANT the arbitrary rule of a bureaucracy which does not allow the workers any degree of freedom. WE WANT the workers themselves to manage production and distribution. The organisms of the workers’ state will carry out the production and distribution plans drawn up by the unions and workers’ associations in collaboration with the latter. WE DO NOT WANT dictatorial management of production and distribution by a bureaucratic caste which pockets whatever it so pleases. This is however what exists in Russia.
HAMBURG: AND NEXT IT’S BERLIN’S TURN
There were fronts in the last war. But now there is another front: back home. That is the bitter experience of the workers in Hamburg. As the British chemicals trusts pocket millions of pounds’ worth of profits, the British planes drop thousands of kilos of their explosives on the German workers and their families. But we should have no illusions. Our own exploiters and warmongering hyenas are no better: far from it. If the German High Command had been able to do so it would have done exactly the same to the workers in London. If we want to put a final stop to such horrors we must march alongside the London workers against our common enemy, German and British capital. We have not yet achieved this goal. Down with the Nazi bureaucrats! Down with the war! Down with capitalism!
ONE LESS, BUT ONLY ONE
According to one comrade’s report the mayor of Wuppertal has been sacked. He fled to the country in the evening, hearing the alarm, and in the morning returned to the ruins sozzled. That is why the Nazi clique sacrificed him. But how many of those men who escape into the night are so canny as to come back to the town in the morning and still go unnoticed? One of them has been sacked, but how many such men are left? Time to send the whole Nazi clique to hell.
DO YOU REMEMBER...?
1) That when the First World War broke out in the opening days of August 1914 on the one side they said “Fight the Tsar” and on the other “Fight the Kaiser”? In reality both sides were capitalist, fighting over profits and markets and looking to carve up colonial territory between capitalist slave-owners. This time only the slogans have changed. The real goals and content of the war are exactly the same again: it is a war for colonial profits, not a war between ‘democracy’ and ‘national socialism’. Lenin said back then that “either the proletarian revolution will triumph or there will be another, even more terrible conflict”. This comment of Lenin’s is true now as then.
2) That the Constitution of the Weimar Republic was drawn up in August 1919 as a grand plan for ‘national unity’? In this Constitution of lawyers, professors and party bureaucrats etc. there was much talk of freedom. But it also included the infamous Article 48 which made all these fine freedoms dependent on the mood of the Reich President. The 1930 emergency decrees were thus prepared in 1919. It was very ‘constitutionally’ that Hindenburg appointed Hitler as his Chancellor. But even the best Constitution could not have offered guarantees against that. The question which really matters is who rules, capital or the workers? In 1919 the Freikorps were able to crush the nascent proletarian revolution in the egg. In 1943-44 it must be soviets, the revolutionary organs of workers and soldiers, which draw up a new Constitution under the protection of workers’ Red Guards.
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