Vanguard December 1915

Hyndman v. Marx

(Continued from last month)

Source: Unattributed, possibly by Maclean, Vanguard, December 1915, p. 10;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Hyndman says that “had Liebknecht and August Bebel been living we believe that fully half the members of the Social Democratic Party in the Reichstag would have declared that their views on aggressive warfare were unchanged.” This view, again, flatly contradicts the materialistic interpretation of history. Hyndman places too much faith in leaders. But we have seen that when leaders fail to lead they are simply left behind, as in the great strikes of 1912. That the German S.D.P. workers followed their Revisionist leaders was a natural thing and showed the way the masses felt and thought.

L. Trotzky, the well-known member of the Russian S.D.P. says that though the German Press and organisation used Marxian shibboleths, in reality the German workmen were on a level with the English Lib-Lab workmen. This point of view has been vindicated by the events of the past seven months. The bulk of the German S.D.P. leaders were revisionists like our own members of the Labour Party. As soon as the war started the Revisionist Reichstag members at once threw in their lot with the Government. The Party Press began to voice Chauvinist sentiments, and not a single Party paper protested against the outrage on Belgium. Some German S.D.P. papers even cynically admit that the interests of the German workers are bound up with those of the German Imperialism, and urge the workers to go for the foes of Germany. Even feeble opposition on the part of the German Radical Socialists is ruthlessly stamped out, and the unruly members even reported direct to State Departments. The Revisionist members act openly as Government spies and negotiators abroad, and are not ashamed of it. Wolfgary Heine, S.D.P. member of the Reichstag, has just published a brochure, “Against the Thwarters” (i.e. against, all those who oppose the present Revisionist policy of the German S.D.P.) Its predominant note is that “Even if the German Government had started the world conflagration alone – which no one who thinks objectively to any extent can assume – we should have been bound to defend our country and to save what could be saved.” In other words, it is a tale of “My country, right or wrong.” How does the policy of the British Labour Party differ from that of the German S.D.P.? How could a sane man expect the German S.D.P. to go against the Government, under martial law, when our own Labour Party kow-tows to the Liberal Government in times of profound peace?

Hyndman claims that Socialism is better organized in Germany, a more backward capitalist State, than in Great Britain or America. The reasons are that in Great Britain the industrial workers have lived in comparative ease since 1850 (Great Britain, occupying a unique position in the world), and in the United States the fresh territory to exploit and the fresh streams of emigrants: have retarded such organization. Now, when conditions are changing, the Workers’ organizations are also improving. We have the revolutionary I.W.W., and the A.F. of L. is going in for independent political action. The American Socialist papers, in their clearness of language and of conception, reflect the advanced state of capitalism. As to the 91 German daily papers and the bulk the German Revisionist S.D.P., they are (with one or two exceptions) Chauvinist to the core. So that mere members prove nothing, and we may say again that like conditions produce like results.

(To be continued)

Note by transcriber. the next issue was confiscated