Justice July 1918
Source: “The Manifesto of the German Independent Social Democratic Party Against Imperialism,” of 27.5.1918 in Justice, 4 July 1918;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The Chambers are about to meet on the eve of the fifth year of the war. The hopes placed in them by large sections of the population have been completely deceived. The war, with its misery and absence of freedom, continues. Every day fresh victims disappear in the tombs. In the East the sword of the conqueror has imposed a state of peace which has provoked an intense rancour and has bred new germs of conquest. In the liberating struggles of the people of the old Tsarist Empire, German and Austrian bayonets have taken their part in favour of the counter revolution. The alliance of the armies of Central Europe, constituted recently, will also divide the States into two enemy camps, bristling with arms, in the future. The coalition on one side, concentrated on the development of all the methods of military power, will call forth a similar coalition on the other side. We are threatened with the danger of seeing the imperialist forces, after a short respite, begin a fresh struggle for world domination. So long as the international proletariat does not present a front against the representatives of a policy of violence eager for conquest, it is useless to dream of a general and lasting peace of the peoples.
Internal reaction responds to the policy of violence abroad, Heavier than ever rests the iron weight of the state of siege on the German People. It is our Party, the Independent Socia1 Democratic Party, with the workers who compose who feel this most heavily. Freedom of speech is throttled, and the political policy of the working class is chained down more than ever. All repressive methods of military dictatorship are employed against those who remain faithful to their convictions and will not abandon International Social-Democracy
Granting this reactionary state of affairs, it is bound to affect the question of equal suffrage for the Prussian Landtag. The parties of the Prussian Landtag majority are opposing with all their strength the slightest increase in the rights of the people. The proposals of the Government, which have already been pruned in a manner that has mutilated the free and equal suffrage of the workers and strengthened the reactionary forces, are not enough. The desire is to replace the three class franchise by plural voting in favour of education and possession. The Government revealed its real intentions when it abstained from employing every efficacious means for enforcing even the mutilated equal suffrage against the majority of the Landtag, hostile to the working classes.
The proletariat must uphold its class interests against the declared class interests of the agrarian and capitalist reactionaries. The struggle against internal reaction is also a struggle for a durable peoples’ peace; for the internal enemies of the people are at the same time the prophets of a policy of violence abroad.
Workers – comrades, citizens! You can expect nothing from Governments and Parliaments but what you do by your own opinions, your own force.
While you have been deprived of your solemnly promised sole means of right, there has been imposed upon you an aggravation of your already insupportable conditions of life. On June 16 the already meagre bread ration was once more reduced. Now again the Agrarians are at work to exploit to their profit, the terrible dearness of living which exists to-day, The “Peace of Violence” in the East has not given the bread to the German people so often promised. All the promises about the improvement of feeding which were based on the conquering marches across Roumania, the conclusion of the peace with Russia, and above all, on the so much celebrated “bread peace” with the Ukraine, have not given the expected results. The expansion of the peace-by-violence methods has shown itself equally on the economic as on the political field. Events have proved most rapidly, even to the blind, how right was the Independent Social Democratic Party when, faithful to the principles of International Social Democracy, it voted against those “peace treaties” which violated, in the most brutal manner, the right of the peoples freely to dispose of themselves. In agreement with the bourgeois parties, the Government Social Democrats have voted the peace with the Ukraine, and by that action have become, as in all their war policy, accomplices of the policy of imperial violence. Thus they are serving as supporters of internal reaction, and consequently bear the responsibility for the aggravation of the food situation.
Workers, Comrades, Citizens,
Denounce lithe reactionary policy of the Government and the bourgeois parties! Protest whenever you find the opportunity in public meetings, against being deprived of your political rights! Arouse the indifferent and the apathetic! Awaken the public political conscience and increase the energies of your organisations! Present a bold front against the aggravation of the conditions of life! In your meetings and intimate circles, spread the light about the reasons for the reduction of the bread ration and the real cause of misery of the people during the war! Support with all your power the struggle which the groups of the Independent Social Democratic Party are carrying on in the Parliaments for Peace, for liberty and for bread.
Workers, Comrades, Citizens,
Away with all discouragement, all pusillanimity, all disaffection! Arm the proletariat for the inevitable struggles for a better future! Be faithful to the principles of International Social Democracy !
Berlin, May 27, 1918