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Albert Glotzer

The Struggle for Power in Germany

(January 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 1 (Whole No. 97), 2 January 1932, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The center of the political stage in the present international situation is occupied by Germany. What will transpire there in the coming six months will have a direct and immediate influence upon the whole development of the world revolutionary movement. The catastrophic economic and social conditions, the collapse of the ruling parties which are enforcing extra-parliamentary measures against the proletariat, the revolutionary feelings of the masses existing alongside of a menacing growth of Fascism have created a direct revolutionary situation in Germany and raise to the foreground the question of the struggle for power.

It is axiomatic for Marxists, that without the leadership of the Communist Party, based on a policy of revolutionary struggle, the thought of the seizure of power is impossible. It requires in the Party, independence, audacity and a will to victory. The absence of such a condition in the ranks of the Party spells defeat for the proletariat. It is precisely this absent condition which makes the situation in Germany today so fraught with dangers to the international working class. The German Communist Party does not understand its tasks. It has falsely evaluated the present state of affairs with the result that it pursues a policy that is little short of criminal.

The Basis For Fascism

The greatest obstacle in the path of the German proletariat is Fascism. Many workers will undoubtedly question: How is it possible that in Germany there should be such a huge growth of Fascism?

The defeat of the revolutionary situation in 1923 gave rise to the present fascist wave. Fascism in Germany, composed of the militarists, the petty-bourgeoisie, the administrators, office workers, degenerated unemployed elements (a great part of them youth), sections of the working class disgusted with the betrayals of social democracy and the capitulation of the C.P.G. and seeking new ways out of the present difficulties, receives support from the industrialists and financiers and to an extent from international capital. German capitalism remembers only too well that in 1923, had the Party pursued a correct policy, there would at the present time be no capitalism in Germany. It is with this in mind that she prepares herself against a recurrence of 1923. Fascism receives its strength from the social crisis and the weakness of the proletariat (expressed in Germany in the failure of Communism to unify the working class for the conquest of power). The bourgeoisie understands the nature of Fascism.

The bourgeoisie advances its Fascist shoulder only at the moment an immediate revolutionary danger threatens the foundations of the regime itself and when the normal organs of the bourgeois state prove themselves insufficient. In this sense active Fascism signifies the condition of civil war on the part of capitalist society facing the rebelling proletariat. Contrariwise, the bourgeoisie is forced to advance its Left, the social democratic, shoulder in a period that precedes the time of the civil war, so as to deceive the proletariat, to pacify and disintegrate it, or in a period following upon a serious and lasting victory over the proletariat.” (The Strategy of the World Revolution, L.D. Trotsky, Pioneer Publishers, New York, page 35)

Fascist Growth And Threats

But neither the Party nor the Comintern has understood this. Confused themselves, they spread confusion in the ranks of their supporters. The lead is given by Stalin: “The social democracy is an objectively more moderate wing of Fascism”. Therefore, between the Nazi and the social democracy there is no difference. Hitler is the more extreme wing, the social democracy, the moderate wing.

Within the last year the small party of Hitler has grown to be the most menacing antagonist of Communism. In the provincial elections held to date (Hamburg, Anhalt, Hesse and Stuttgart), the Fascists have won sweeping victories. They are moving forward to the seizure of governmental reigns through “legal” means – -awaiting the general elections to be held in the early part of 1932. But Hitler makes no effort to conceal the fact that should the moment present itself, the Fascist Party will sweep into power through a putsch. The brown shirts in the meantime transcend parliamentary activity. They are carrying on violent reprisals against the proletariat in general, and the Communist Party, the trade unions and the Social Democratic workers in particular. They invade proletarian quarters and attack workers indiscriminately with weapons. Hitler promises that the moment he comes into power he will rid the country of the “pest of Marxism”. Every effort then will be utilized to destroy the revolutionary working class and the Communist movement through sheer physical violence. It appears that the experiences of Italian fascism should afford deep lessons for the Comintern and its Parties. But evidently this is not so.

The Capitulationist Policy of the Party

The German Communist Party advances numerous theories regarding the Fascist danger – all of them signify capitulation, and the surrender of struggle. The Party first says: There is no Fascist danger. That is all an illusion. The German working class will never stand for the existence of a Fascist dictatorship. But, if this is not enough, the Party continues: It will be a good thing if Fascism comes to power. Such a condition would lead to the unification of the working class and lay the basis for our own seizure of power. In a word, this new theory means that before the working class can seize power it is necessary to go through the school of a Fascist dictatorship which lays the basis for the proletarian dictatorship.

In an effort to win the support of the working class against Hitler (he recently paid a visit to Tyrol for the purpose of organizing his Fascist legions there and also to obtain aid from Mussolini and Italian Fascism), the Rote Fahne, official organ of the C.P.G. protests because Hitler saw fit to appeal to Italian Fascism which destroyed, “our language”, “our culture”, and “our traditions” in the Tyrol region. At the “einheitsfront” (united front) meetings held throughout Berlin with the object of organizing “resistance” against Fascism, the Party officially invites Fascist reporters to participate in the discussions. We witness the unique spectacle of a Party speaker against Fascism and a Fascist speaker against Communism, speaking from the same rostrum. Left Opposition workers present at those meetings, who protest against such an arrangement, denounce the Fascist “reporter”, and demand the floor themselves, are requested to maintain silence or be ejected from the hall by “Red Front Fighters”.

For a United Front Against Fascism

Against a unified German working class the Fascists could never take power. The proletariat can successfully resist and destroy the heterogeneous Hitler movement only on the basis of a unified resistance. The Party, instead of concentrating all its efforts in the creation of a genuine united front between the Communist and social democratic workers – rejects principally and practically this essential policy. Through the theories of the “Third Period” and “Social-Fascism” the Party has isolated itself from the trade unions, and draws itself further away from the millions of social democratic workers. The C.P.G. has aped the Fascists in an effort to stem their growth. In these efforts it has traveled another step away from a policy of revolutionary struggle and adopted instead a line of nationalism, dragging along with it the demands of Hitler. Within the Party a strong wave of anti-semitism exists.

The huge growth of the C.P.G. (its membership is now over 200,000) only testifies to the revolutionary character of the present situation. But the negative features of the Party policy, which is a negation of struggle and signifies a surrender to Fascism, will have disastrous results for the international working class. A victory of Fascism in Germany would mean the destruction of the Germany Communist Party. It would mean the dissolution of the labor movement. Once in power, Fascism would strengthen and unify its forces. It would cause a reaction to the Right in other countries. With the destruction of the German Communist Party, the Comintern would find itself weakened tremendously. A Fascist Germany, would in a short period of time receive the support of the imperialist powers and result in a quick attack against the Soviet Union.

The Party has as its task to prepare the basis for the seizure of power. It is an unavoidable task. The struggle in Germany is between Fascism and Communism. A victory for Fascism is a defeat for the international revolutionary movement. The Soviet Union would be in immediate danger of a military attack of the imperialist powers. It would be the signal for a reactionary turn to the Right on a world scale.

The international Communist movement, and in particular the German Communist Party must block this development. It can do this if its line is reversed. If it realizes that the foremost task for it is the organization of the working class for the revolutionary struggle. In this situation the Opposition must exert all its energies to force a turn in the Party line, and must actively project itself into the situation.

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