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A. Glotzer

Nearing: Stalin Apologist on Germany

In Chicago

(March 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 14, 1 March 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Chicago. – The lecture that Scott Nearing delivered here a few weeks ago under the auspices of the Chicago Forum, on What Next in Germany, was an additional illustration of his ignorance of the dynamics of the class struggle. Coming just a few days before Hindenburg chose the leader of the Fascist butchers to the chancellorship, one had the right to expect of Nearing an analysis that would cover at least the fundamental questions relating to the present civil war period in Germany.

He gave a historical picture of the post-war period of Germany and, coming closer to the present situation, measured the relative strength of the political parties by their votes. In Nearing’s schematic set-up, the Communist party is overwhelmed by heavy odds. These heavy odds preclude the possibility of a struggle for power by the Communist party. To Nearing, there are no differentiations to be sought in Von Papen, Von Schleicher, Hitler, Hugenburg, and the social democrats. They are all lumped together as if they make up an integral whole. On the basis of such a consideration Nearing concludes that these forces are too strong a combination for the Communists to attempt to struggle against. The likely variant according to Nearing, was the establishment of a coalition between all these gentry.

It would be a good thing if some of the social democrats could be won to the support of the Communists, including too, some elements of the middle class. Then perhaps the revolutionists might make a struggle for power. And here one expects, that Nearing would take up the question of the united front to show how and in what manner the Communists could wage a victorious struggle. But apparently he has heard nothing of this tactic. It was not mentioned once in his lecture. Is it any wonder then that in his summary Nearing declares:

“Unless the revolutionary movement (!) wins to its side some elements, either the social democratic elements or some of the middle class elements, they are whipped before they start, because the round-up of the class forces with the middle class and ruling class and the aristocracy of labor on one side of the round-up is unbeatable. That is the position of the German Communist Party and I believe it must be dismissed as an improbable way out of the difficulty.” (My emphasis – A.G.)

Having dismissed the possibility of a victory and rejected the need for a struggle, Nearing concludes that the possible result of this seeming blind alley of German politics, would be a coalition of Von Schleicher, Von Papen, Hugenburg, Hitler and the social democrats, under the charge of the first. Thus a few days before the Fascist chief took over the chancellorship and his legions spread a reign of blood over Germany, Nearing dismissed the idea of a Fascist assumption to power.

Some days later, after Hitler’s assumption to power, Nearing again spoke on Germany. Added to the confusion of his first lecture, was hopelessness and despair. Nothing could be done now. It was too late!! As in his first lecture, the fundamental questions of the situation were left out entirely. If one expected to receive from Nearing a way out, he was greatly disappointed. It was not for nothing that the reaction of the Communist workers who listened to him speak was utter disgust.

Nearing is not a member of the Communist party and therefore does not speak in its name. But he has been a member of the party and is sufficiently close to it now, to give his speeches a semi-official character. He is looked upon as a representative of Communism. His lectures, up until this date, were the only ones to be held, in addition to those by the Left Opposition in Chicago. The party here, has as yet not moved a finger on the German situation.

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