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Jack Weber

March of Events

(23 June 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 25, 23 June 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Fascism and the Junkers

If Von Hindenburg and Von Papen, the spokesmen for the Junkers, yielded to the upstart Hitler and permitted him to come to power, it was not because of any love for plebeian fascism. The German Junkers swung to fascism in order to save their big landed estates, directly threatened in the course of events by the efforts to solve the agrarian crisis. The barons thus allied themselves with the industrial magnates and the powerful bankers in their mutual effort to save the system of private property. Similarly in Italy the monarchy had swung to Mussolini in order to save the throne along with the capitalist system. But the Junker class, the left-over feudal aristocracy of landowners, never for one instant lost sight of their ultimate aim, – the reestablishment of their own power as the class of professional politicians, ruling with and for the bourgeoisie through the monarchy.

Fascism as a Bridge

The Stalinists, with their completely false appraisal of the meaning of fascism, considered it as a bridge to proletarian dictatorship. After Hitler, Thaelmann! And this in short order too. Let Hitler come to power, said Stalin, and then we will follow. With far more justification the Junker-monarchists said,

“Let Hitler come to power – and then, after he has used the petty-bourgeois masses to crush the democracy, to wipe out all workers’ organizations and political parties, we shall crash him in turn and restore the Kaiser.”

And with that contingency ever in view, von Hindenburg, temporary regent for the monarchy, saw to it that the forms of “legality” would be preserved by maintaining a majority of the cabinet of dictators as his henchmen. Just as the big financiers needed Hitler (leader of the petty bourgeoisie) to uproot all the elements of proletarian revolution, so the Junkers needed Hitler to act as the bridge for their restoration to the special status of state bureaucracy.

Fascism Losing its Social Base

From the start it was quite evident that the petty bourgeois base of fascism could not endure. The followers of Hitler, misled by catchwords and demagogy, were bound to become rapidly disillusioned. As the social basis on which the Nazis rose to power, gave way and began to disappear, it was also clear that the fascist rulers would be transformed into an ever narrowing bureaucracy, dependent on the police and the military. Von Papen now begins to put to the test the extent of this inevitable process. He is exploring, like a true militarist, the depth of depletion of the reserves of fascism. By drawing the sword and attempting a blow at Goebbels, one wing of Hitler resting on the petty bourgeoisie, von Papen aims to isolate Hitler so that he may be more readily dealt with tomorrow. True the Junkers yielded up till now; true they disbanded (or pretended to do so) their own forces, the Stahlhelm. But the process now begins to reverse itself and Hitler, up till now the mediator in disputes between the opposing wings of the ruling bureaucracy, will have to move closer under the clutches of the monarchists, even while he attempts to renounce them, for he cannot afford now an open breach with these dangerous allies. The former Kaiser, thanking Hitler publicly for his achievements for the reaction, rejoices that events begin to move in his direction. Von Papen, criticizing the Nazis openly for their “excesses”, gives expression simultaneously to the hopes of the monarchists:

“In my opinion”, he said, “the German state will at some future date find its crowning glory in a chief of state who once for all is removed from the political fight of demagogy and from clashes among economic and vocational Interests.”

The Big Bourgeoisie

The big bourgeoisie, always alarmed at the possible outcome of civil war, having gained their ends through a dictatorship, are anxious to bring about “law and order” as soon as possible after a victory. The demagogy of fascism, aping socialist phrases to win the tradesmen and the professional classes, never pleased big business. Nor does the attempt by fascism to establish the corporate state appeal to bankers and industrialists. They prefer an alliance, at the earliest possible moment, with a more stable ruling caste. That power In Germany has been traditionally the landed barons, the Junkers. The time for a change may not yet be ripe. Here we merely indicate a trend that is clearly to be seen. The dictatorship of the plebeian fascists, resting on the petty bourgeoisie, tends to become transformed into a military dictatorship. As Engels says:

“It seems a law of historical development that the bourgeoisie can in no European country get hold of political power – at least for any length of time – in the same exclusive way in which the feudal aristocracy kept hold of it during the Middle Ages.”

We are witnessing the workings of this law.

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