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In Germany

The Menace of Fascism

(June 1930)

From The Militant, Vol. III No. 23, 14 July 1930, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

BERLIN – For several weeks the new government of the bourgeois bloc, the government of Brüning-Schiele-Treviranus has been in office. From the outset, it has placed itself under the sign of menacing dictatorship. It sought a parliamentary majority but it declared at the same time that if this majority were not forthcoming, it would not resign – but would govern without parliament.

During the twenty-one months when the social democracy had power in its hands, it prepared the ground for a stronger reaction; the bourgeois bloc took possession of the bloc which had been willed to it by the coalition – to carry out in a speedier and more brutal fashion that which the social democracy has begun: the throttling of the working class.

It was evident to every revolutionary Marxist that the social democratic coalition could only play the role of preparing the way. Nothing could be more false than the conception that the official Communist Party theoreticians defend nowadays after trying to rid themselves of the theory of social fascism. A leading article of the International (No. 7) says among other things that in the course of recent years every government has marked “one step further in the direction of the fascist development of Germany” and that consequently the “Müller government was obviously as reactionary a government as those which preceded it.”

This mechanical conception has nothing in common with Marxism and completely disregards the development of the class struggle which is full of contradictions.

Why did the bourgeoisie, which called the Socialist party to the government after the elections of 1928 so brutally dismiss its “socialist” domestics in 1930?

The Communist Party and the Leftward Movement

The bourgeois government bloc suffered a marked defeat in 1928 in the Reichstag elections. The piratical tariff policy and the reactionary social policy, the brutal measures of capitalist rationalization had set the masses in motion. About a million and a half petty-bourgeoisie, workers and medium and poor peasants turned from the Right to the Left wing of the bourgeoisie, towards the social democracy, which increased its vote from 7,881,000 to 9,151,000 votes. Half a million workers abandoned reformism and the open bourgeois camp, to go to the Communist Partly whose vote increased from 2,700,000 to 3,260,000. The years 1927 and 1928 witnessed an increasing activity of the masses. To stop the development to the Left and to bring confusion to the masses, to disintegrate their élan – that was the function of the coalition. Today after nearly two years one must admit that the bourgeoisie has largely attained its object. Despite as reactionary a policy as possible in nearly every field, the social democracy succeeded in putting a brake on the militancy of the masses.

With the aid of the Young Plan it succeeded in sowing illusions inside the proletariat. And as the Communist Party did not know how to lead the masses into struggle step by step, nor to organize them by the revolutionary application of the tactics of the united front, no real struggle was developed against the Young Plan against the capitalist offensive, and as the Left current of 1928 did not develop further, no real mass desertion of the workers from the social democracy to the Communist Party took place.

Tricked by the social democracy, repelled by the Communist Party’s politics of bluff, the bombastic phrasemongering which held sway over the Wedding Congress of the Party, great masses of class conscious workers sank into apathy and indifference, tens of thousands have been lured over into the camp of the fascists. The anger, the discontent and even the revolutionary hatred of the social democratic party have grown among the masses but at the same time confidence in the leadership and slogans of the Communist Party, in the political correctness of its line in the immediate struggles, has waned.

The bourgeoisie is well aware of this change in the outlook of the masses. Today the bourgeoisie fears incomparably less than in 1928 the development of a revolutionary movement against its domination.

The Bourgeoisie Dismisses the Social Democracy

That is why the preparatory role of the social democracy has come to its close; the bourgeoisie feel it can now reach its ends without the direct aid of the socialist party. The party was shown the door. After the abrupt attack of Schacht against Hilferding (December, 1929) the end of the coalition was only a matter of weeks ...

* * *

The new bourgeois bloc (Brüning-Schiele-Treviranus) is by its very nature a transitional regime. With its left foot it supports itself on the parliamentary regime with its right foot it rests on the open dictatorship. If contrary to all predictions, the resistance of the masses against the regime of the bourgeois bloc should become too strong, the road to a new coalition would not be barred. The transition to such a regime as exists in Thuringia – parliamentary in its externals and fascist in its essence – is quite within the realm of possibilities. What is least likely is that the bourgeoisie will at the present time openly instal a fascist regime, letting the parliamentary mask fall. The legal and semi-legal possibilities are not yet exhausted, the class struggle in Germany has not yet taken on that form which compels the bourgeoisie to renounce the advantages of parliamentarism.

The traditional character of the present regime reflects the profound crisis in which bourgeois democracy finds itself in Germany. The crisis in all the bourgeois parties is the expression of the same phenomenon: but the crisis of bourgeois democracy itself is only the external expression of the crisis of the capitalist social order. The solution of this crisis will depend on the further development of the class struggle in Germany.

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