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After the Recent Elections in Prussia

(April 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 18 (Whole No. 114), 30 April 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Prussian elections of April 24 made the National Socialist Party of Adolf Hitler the strongest party in that German province, which by virtue of the fact that it contains nearly two-thirds of the entire population of Germany and holds within its boundaries the most important industries in the country, represents the key position to the Reich as a whole.

The Fascist victory signifies not only an advance over the last Landtag elections (their success there has been properly described, as phenomenal – a rise from 9 seats to 159), but also a high point in their steady increase of strength as a whole. In the run-off elections for the presidency on April 10, they received some 32 per cent of the total vote. Last Sunday they received 35 per cent of all votes cast.

The Hitler forces are flushed with victory. It is inconceivable that they should not exploit the moral strength of their success for decisive actions. While keeping up the mockery of legalism, Hitler is already warning the government itself against ... illegal actions. How Hitler will proceed with the seizure of power, whether he will be able to establish a coalition with the Catholic center party or whether he will resort to a coup d’état is inconsequential. He is determined upon drastic measures. He is on the threshold of fulfilling the task assigned to him by the needs of the German bourgeoisie – that of throttling the working class of Germany.

Wherein Lies the Responsibility of the Social Democrats?

In its editorial on Tuesday, April 26, 1932, the Daily Worker poses the question as to who is responsible for the menacing advance of Fascism. It comes to the conclusion that the social democracy with its theory of the “lesser evil”, with its support of the notorious emergency decrees of the Bruening government, with its deceit and systematic misguidance of the workers, has paved the way for Hitlerism. Is this true? Unquestionably true. No one who claims to be a revolutionist can deny it. But can anything else be expected from the traitors of August 4, 1914, from the henchmen of Noske and Scheidemann? Hasn’t it been an ABC fact for Communists that the social democrats can play no other role than that of selling out the working class? And isn’t it precisely the duty of the Communists to break through the deception and the betrayal of the social democracy in order to rally the working class against Fascism, against the class enemy?

The Stalinist scriveners of the Daily Worker blame the social democrats for Hitler’s forward march. We consider the treacherous preparatory work of the party of Wels and Breitscheid as a matter of fact.

“... a new argument is brought forward”, writes the Daily Worker editorialist, “–– the argument that the Communists are responsible because we do not form a united front with the social democrats. This new position is also supported by the ... Trotsky-Cannon renegades.”

And he goes on to show that Norman Thomas also uses this “new” argument. But he omits one little thing: That we start out on the premise that the social democrats are established betrayers of the working class, on the premise that it is necessary to wrest the millions of workers still under their influence away from them – which can only be done by means of a united front struggle in which the workers themselves can judge – whereas Norman Thomas and the other social democratic lackeys merely utilize the mistakes of the party leadership to achieve the function assigned to them: namely, to lead the workers to the slaughter under the sign of the “lesser evil”. That the social democrats will try to exploit the shortcomings and errors of their Communist opponents is. only natural. But how does this fact in any way excuse these errors and shortcomings? That is something that yet remains to be explained by the Daily Worker.

The proletarian Communists in the ranks of the International will not much longer allow themselves to be confused by the demagogic comparisons the Stalinist leadership makes between the social democrats and the Left Oppositionists. They will call the slanderers to order, they will demand a political answer from them. The events themselves are opening up the eyes of the workers.

They want to know, why – with all the undeniably favorable objective conditions for revolutionary progress, with all the betrayals of the social democrats – their party, the Communist party has not been able to rally the masses for decisive and determined action. They cannot be led around much longer by their noses. The enemy is at the gates.

But what is important now, is not the question whom to blame. The fight has not been lost yet. The thing to do now is to exert every force to make up for lost time. This requires a thorough re-examination of the policies of the German and the International leaderships. This needs an evaluation of the theory that the Fascists in power will rapidly disintegrate. The practical fruits of this theory (which is nothing less than the Stalinist version of the “lesser evil”) are already altogether too abundant and there is a lesson for the Communists to learn from them, from the “red” referendum last year in Prussia and this year in Saxony. The headless competition of the Thaelmann leadership with the nationalist slogans and demagogy of the Fascists must be scrapped. Only in this manner can the road be cleared for an earnest approach to the rest of the working class, to the social democratic rank and file. Instead of the empty epithet “social Fascist” the tactic of the united front must be applied to drive the reformist fakers to self-exposure. This is the road the Communists in Germany must adopt if they are to lead the masses successfully against the impending Fascist onslaught.

What Does the Left Opposition Propose?

As a first step in this direction, the Left Opposition of the C.P.G. proposes the convocation of an extra-ordinary part congress to review all these questions. It demands that these questions be discussed on the basis of party democracy, that the worker Communists be allowed to voice their opinions. The harm already done can thus be dispelled rapidly and conclusively.

The capitalist press reports a semi-turn in the German party already. According to a dispatch in the New York Herald-Tribune of April 27, the Communists have decided to fight to the end against any form of Nazi government in Prussia. Furthermore, the dispatch says, the Communists have changed their view that the party leadership no longer regards the social democrats the chief enemy as before, but the Fascists. United action of the Red workers with the trade unions is foretold. There are indications of a change also in the editorial in the Daily Worker quoted above. It is significant that the social democrats are not once referred to as “social Fascists”. If this information proves to be correct a good part of the urgent proposals of the Left Opposition have already broken ground for themselves.

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