Capitalism in Russia proved to be the weakest link in the chain of imperialism, because of its extreme backwardness. In the present crisis, German capitalism reveals itself as the weakest link for the diametrically opposite reason: precisely because it is the most advanced capitalist system in the conditions of the European impasse. As the productive forces of Germany become more and more highly geared, the more dynamic power they gather, the more they are strangled within the state system of Europe – a system that is akin to the “system” of cages within an impoverished provincial zoo. At every turn in the conjuncture of events German capitalism is thrown up against those problems which it had attempted to solve by means of war. Acting through the Hohenzollern government, the German bourgeoisie girded itself to “organize Europe.” Acting through the regime of Brüning-Curtius it attempted ... to form a customs union with Austria. It is to such a pathetic level that its problems, potentialities, and perspectives have been reduced! But even the customs union was not to be attained. Like the witch’s house in fairytales, the entire European system stands on a pair of hen’s legs. The great and salutary hegemony of France is in danger of toppling over, should a few million Austrians unite with Germany. For Europe in general and primarily for Germany no advance is possible along the capitalist road. The temporary resolution of the present crisis to be achieved by the automatic interplay of the forces of capitalism itself – on the bones of the workers – would signify only the resurrection of all the contradictions at the next stage, only in still more acute and concentrated form.
The specific weight of Europe in world economy can only diminish. Already the forehead of Europe is plastered beyond removal with American labels: the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, Hoover’s moratorium. Europe is placed thoroughly on American rations.
The decay of capitalism results in social and cultural decomposition. The road is barred for further normal differentiation within nations, for the further growth of the proletariat at the expense of the diminution of intermediate classes. Further prolongation of the crisis can bring in its trail only the pauperization of the petty bourgeoisie and the transformation of ever larger groups of workers into the lumpenproletariat. In its most acute form, it is this threat that grips advanced capitalist Germany by the throat.
The rottenest portion of putrefying capitalist Europe is the Social Democratic bureaucracy. It entered upon its historical journey under the banner of Marx and Engels. It set for its goal the overthrow of the rule of the bourgeoisie. The powerful upsurge of capitalism caught it up and dragged it in its wake. In the name of reform, the Social Democracy betrayed the revolution, at first by its actions and later by its words. Kautsky, it is true, for a long time still defended the phraseology of revolution, making it serve as a handmaiden to the requirements of reformism. Bernstein, on the contrary, demanded the renunciation of revolution: for capitalism was entering the period of peaceful development without crises, and without wars. Exemplary prophecy! Apparently, between Kautsky and Bernstein there was an irreconcilable divergence. Actually, however, they symmetrically complemented one another as the right and left boots on the feet of reformism.
The war came. The Social Democracy supported the war in the name of future prosperity. Instead of prosperity, decay set in. Now the task no longer consisted in deducing from the inadequacy of capitalism the necessity for revolution, nor in reconciling the workers to capitalism by means of reforms. The new task of the Social Democracy now consisted in making society safe for the bourgeoisie at the cost of sacrificing reforms.
But even this was not the last stage of degeneracy. The present crisis that is convulsing capitalism obliged the Social Democracy to sacrifice the fruits achieved after protracted economic and political struggles and thus to reduce the German workers to the level of existence of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. There is no historical spectacle more tragic and at the same time more repulsive than the fetid disintegration of reformism amid the wreckage of all its conquests and hopes. The theatre is rabid in its straining for modernism. Let it stage more often Hauptmann’s The Weavers: this most modern of modern dramas. And let the director of the theatre also remember to reserve the front rows for the leaders of the Social Democracy.
However, these leaders are in no mood for drama: they have reached the utmost limits of their adaptability. There is a level beneath which the working class of Germany cannot drop willingly nor for any length of time. Moreover, the bourgeois regime, fighting for its existence, is in no mood to recognize this level. The emergency decrees of Brüning are only the beginning, only feelers to get the lay of the land. Brüning’s regime rests upon the cowardly and perfidious support of the Social Democratic bureaucracy which in its turn depends upon the sullen, halfhearted support of a section of the proletariat. The system based on bureaucratic decrees is unstable, unreliable, temporary. Capitalism requires another, more decisive policy. The support of the Social Democrats, keeping a suspicious watch on their own workers, is not only insufficient for its purposes, but has already become irksome. The period of halfway measures has passed. In order to try to find a way out, the bourgeoisie must absolutely rid itself of the pressure exerted by the workers’ organizations; these must be eliminated, destroyed, utterly crushed.
At this juncture, the historic role of fascism begins. It raises to their feet those classes that are immediately above the proletariat and that are ever in dread of being forced down into its ranks; it organizes and militarizes them at the expense of finance capital, under the cover of the official government, and it directs them to the extirpation of proletarian organizations, from the most revolutionary to the most conservative.
Fascism is not merely a system of reprisals, of brutal force, and of police terror. Fascism is a particular governmental system based on the uprooting of all elements of proletarian democracy within bourgeois society. The task of fascism lies not only in destroying the Communist vanguard but in holding the entire class in a state of forced disunity. To this end the physical annihilation of the most revolutionary section of the workers does not suffice. It is also necessary to smash all independent and voluntary organizations, to demolish all the defensive bulwarks of the proletariat, and to uproot whatever has been achieved during three-quarters of a century by the Social Democracy and the trade unions. For, in the last analysis, the Communist Party also bases itself on these achievements.
The Social Democracy has prepared all the conditions necessary for the triumph of fascism. But by this fact it has also prepared the stage for its own political liquidation. It is absolutely correct to place on the Social Democrats the responsibility for the emergency legislation of Brüning as well as for the impending danger of fascist savagery. It is absolute balderdash to identify Social Democracy with fascism.
By its policies during the revolution of 1848, the liberal bourgeoisie prepared the stage for the triumph of counterrevolution, which in turn emasculated liberalism. Marx and Engels lashed the German liberal bourgeoisie no less sharply than Lassalle did, and their criticism was more profound than his. But when the Lassalleans lumped the liberal bourgeoisie together with the feudal counterrevolution into “one reactionary mass,” Marx and Engels were justly outraged by this false ultraradicalism. The erroneous position of the Lassalleans turned them on several occasions into involuntary aides of the monarchy, despite the general progressive nature of their work, which was infinitely more important and consequential than the achievements of liberalism.
The theory of “social fascism” reproduces the basic error of the Lassalleans on a new historical background. After dumping National Socialists and Social Democrats into one fascist pile, the Stalinist bureaucracy flies headlong into such activities as backing the Hitler referendum, which in its own fashion is in no way superior to Lassalle’s alliances with Bismarck.
In the present phase, German Communism in its struggle against the Social Democracy must lean on two separate facts: (a) the political responsibility of the Social Democracy for the strength of fascism; (b) the absolute irreconcilability between fascism and those workers’ organizations on which the Social Democracy itself depends.
The contradictions within German capitalism have at present reached such a state of tension that an explosion is inevitable. The adaptability of the Social Democracy has reached that limit beyond which lies self-annihilation. The mistakes of the Stalinist bureaucracy have reached that limit beyond which lies catastrophe. Such is the threefold formula that characterizes the situation in Germany. Everything is now poised on the razor edge of a knife.
When of necessity one must follow conditions in Germany through newspapers that arrive almost a week late; when one must allow another week before manuscripts may bridge the gap between Constantinople and Berlin, after which additional weeks must pass before the pamphlet reaches its public, involuntarily the question arises: “Won’t it be altogether too late?” And each time one answers oneself: No! The armies that are drawn up for battle are so colossal that one need not fear a lightning-quick settlement of the issue. The strength of the German proletariat has not been drained. Its powers have not as yet been brought into play. The logic of facts will make itself heard more imperiously with every passing day. And this justifies the author’s attempt to add what he has to say even if it is delayed a few weeks, i.e., an entire historical period.
The Stalinist bureaucracy came to the conclusion that it would be able to complete its labors more peacefully were the author of these pages confined in Prinkipo. It obtained from the government of Hermann Müller, the Social Democrat, a refusal of a visa for the ... “Menshevik”: in this instance the united front was established without any wavering or delay. Today, in official Soviet publications, the Stalinists are broadcasting the news that I am “defending” Brüning’s government in accordance with an agreement made with the Social Democracy, which in return is pulling strings to allow me the right of entry into Germany. Instead of becoming indignant over such viciousness, I permit myself to laugh at its stupidity. But I must cut short my laughter, for time is pressing.
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the course of events will demonstrate the correctness of our position. But in what manner will history demonstrate its proof: through the catastrophe of the Stalinist faction, or through the victory of Marxist policies?
Therein lies at present the crux of the entire question. This question is the question of the fate of the German nation, and not of its fate alone.
The problems that are analyzed in this pamphlet did not originate yesterday. For nine years now the leadership of the Comintern has busied itself with the revaluation of values and with disorganizing the vanguard of the international proletariat by means of tactical convulsions which in their totality fall under the label of “the general line.” The Russian Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists) was formed not only because of Russian problems but also because of international ones. Among these, the problems of the revolutionary development in Germany occupied by no means the last place. Sharp divergences on this subject date back to 1923. During the succeeding years the author of these pages spoke more than once on these controversial questions. A considerable portion of my critical works has been published in German. The present pamphlet is in its turn a contribution to the theoretical and political work of the Left Opposition. Much that is mentioned hereafter only in passing was in its time submitted to detailed analysis. Therefore I must refer my readers for particulars to my books, The Third International After Lenin, The Permanent Revolution, etc. Now, when these differences confront everyone in the form of a great historical problem, it is possible to estimate their origins much better and more profoundly. For the serious revolutionary, for the true Marxist, such a study is absolutely essential. Eclectics live by means of episodic thoughts and improvisations that originate under the impact of events. Marxist cadres capable of leading the proletarian revolution are trained only by the continual and successive working out of problems and disputes.
The “Iron Front” is essentially a bloc of numerically powerful Social Democratic trade unions with impotent groups of bourgeois “republicans” which have lost entirely the support of the people and all confidence in themselves. When it comes to fighting, cadavers are worthless, but they come in handy to keep the living from fighting. Their bourgeois allies serve the Social Democratic leaders as a bridle around the necks of the workers’ organizations. We must fight! We must fight! ... but that is only empty talk. With God’s help, everything will be settled ultimately without any bloodshed. Is it possible that the fascists will really decide to stop talking and get down to business? They, the Social Democrats, never so much as ventured on such a course, and they, the Social Democrats, are no worse than other people. In case of actual danger, the Social Democracy banks not on the “Iron Front” but on the Prussian police. It is reckoning without its host! The fact that the police was originally recruited in large numbers from among Social Democratic workers is absolutely meaningless. Consciousness is determined by environment even in this instance. The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker. Of late years these policemen have had to do much more fighting with revolutionary workers than with Nazi students. Such training does not fail to leave its effects. And above all: every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.
In its New Year’s issue, the theoretical organ of the Social Democracy, Das Freie Wort (what a wretched sheet!), prints an article in which the policy of “toleration” is expounded in its highest sense. Hitler, it appears, can never come into power against the police and the Reichswehr. Now, according to the Constitution, the Reichswehr is under the command of the president of the Republic. Therefore fascism, it follows, is not dangerous so long as a president faithful to the Constitution remains at the head of the government. Brüning’s regime must be supported until the presidential elections, so that a constitutional president may then be elected through an alliance with the parliamentary bourgeoisie; and thus Hitler’s road to power will be blocked for another seven years. The above is, as given, the literal content of the article.  A mass party, leading millions (toward socialism!) holds that the question as to which class will come to power in present-day Germany, which is shaken to its very foundations, depends not on the fighting strength of the German proletariat, not on the shock troops of fascism, not even on the personnel of the Reichswehr, but on whether the pure spirit of the Weimar Constitution (along with the required quantity of camphor and naphthalene) shall be installed in the presidential palace. But suppose the spirit of Weimar, in a certain situation, recognizes together with Bethmann-Hollweg, that “necessity knows no law”; what then? Or suppose the perishable substance of the spirit of Weimar falls asunder at the most untoward moment, despite the camphor and naphthalene, what then? And what if ... but there is no end to such questions.
The politicians of reformism, these dextrous wirepullers, artful intriguers and careerists, expert parliamentary and ministerial maneuvrists, are no sooner thrown out of their habitual sphere by the course of events, no sooner placed face to face with momentous contingencies, than they reveal themselves to be – there is no milder expression for it – utter and complete fools.
To rely upon a president is to rely upon “the state”! Faced with the impending clash between the proletariat and the fascist petty bourgeoisie – two camps which together comprise the crushing majority of the German nation – these Marxists from the Vorwaerts yelp for the night watchman to come to their aid. They say to the state, “Help! Intervene!” (Staat, greif zu!). Which means “Brüning, please don’t force us to defend ourselves with the might of workers’ organizations, for this will only arouse the entire proletariat; and then the movement will rise above the bald pates of our party leadership: beginning as anti-fascist, it will end Communist.”
To this Brüning could reply, unless he preferred silence: “With the police force I could not handle fascism even if I wanted to; but I wouldn’t even if I could. Setting the Reichswehr in motion means only splitting the Reichswehr, if not throwing it altogether against us. But what is most important is that the turning of the bureaucratic apparatus against the fascists would mean untying the hands of the workers, restoring their full freedom of action: the consequence would be precisely those which you, Social Democrats, dread so much, and which I accordingly dread twice as much. “
The effect which the appeals of the Social Democracy produce on the state apparatus, on the judges, the Reichswehr, and the police cannot fail to be just the opposite to the one desired. The most “loyal” functionary, the most “neutral,” the least bound to the Social Democracy, can reason only thus: “Millions are behind the Social Democrats; enormous resources are in their hands: the press, the parliament, the municipalities; their own hides are at stake; in the struggle against the fascists, they are assured of the support of the Communists; and even so these mighty gentlemen beg me, a functionary, to save them from the attack of another party comprising millions whose leaders may become my bosses tomorrow; things must be pretty bad for the gentlemen of the Social Democracy, probably quite hopeless ... it is time for me [the functionary], to think about my own hide.” And as a result, the “loyal,” “neutral” functionary, who vacillated yesterday, will invariably reinsure himself, i.e., tie up with the National Socialists to safeguard his own future. In this manner the reformists who have outlived their own day work for the fascists along bureaucratic lines.
The Social Democracy, the hanger-on of the bourgeoisie, is doomed to wretched ideological parasitism. One moment it catches up ideas of bourgeois economists, and the next, it tries to utilize bits of Marxism. After citing from my pamphlet the reasons against the participation of the Communist Party in Hitler’s referendum, Hilferding concludes: “Truly, there is nothing to add to these lines in order to explain the tactics of the Social Democracy as regards the Brüning government.” Remmele and Thalheimer step forward, “Please take note, Hilferding relies on Trotsky.” A fascist yellow sheet steps forward in turn, “Trotsky is paid for this job by the promise of a visa.” Next a Stalinist journalist comes to the fore and wires the communication of a fascist paper to Moscow. The editorial board of Izvestia, which includes the unfortunate Radek, prints the telegram. This chain deserves only to be mentioned and passed by.
Let us return to more serious questions. If Hitler can afford himself the luxury of fighting against Brüning, it is only because the bourgeois regime as a whole leans for its support on the back of that half of the working class which is led by Hilferding & Co. If the Social Democracy had not put through its policy of class betrayal, then Hitler, not to mention the fact that he would have never attained his present power, would have been clutching at Brüning’s government as a life-saving anchor. If the Communists together with the Social Democracy had overthrown Brüning, that would have been a fact of the greatest political significance. The consequences, in any case, would have risen over the heads of the leaders of the Social Democracy. Hilferding attempts to find justification for his betrayal in our criticism, which demands that the Communists take Hilferding’s betrayal into account as an accomplished fact.
Although Hilferding has “nothing to add” to Trotsky’s words, he nevertheless does add something: the correlation of forces, he says, is such that even in the event of united action of Social Democratic and Communist workers, there would be no possibility “by forcing the fight, to overthrow the enemy and to seize power.” In this remark, glossed over in passing without any evidence, lies the very crux of the question. According to Hilferding, in Germany today, where the proletariat composes the majority of the population and the deciding productive force of society, the united front of the Social Democracy and the Communist Party could not place the power in the hands of the proletariat! When is the precise moment, then, that the power can pass into the hands of the proletariat? Prior to the war was the perspective of the automatic growth of capitalism, of the growth of the proletariat, and of the equal growth of the Social Democracy. This process was cut short by the war, and no power in the world will restore it. The decay of capitalism means that the question of power must be decided on the basis of the now existing productive forces. By prolonging the agony of the capitalist regime, the Social Democracy leads only to the further decline of economic culture, to the disorganization of the proletariat, to social gangrene. No other perspectives lie ahead; tomorrow will be worse than today; the day after tomorrow worse than tomorrow. But the leaders of the Social Democracy no longer dare to look into the future. Theirs are all the vices of the ruling class doomed to destruction; they are lightminded, their will is paralyzed, they are given to blubbering over events and hoping for miracles. Come to think of it, Tarnow’s economic researches fulfill now the same function as did once the consoling revelations of a Rasputin ...
The Social Democrats together with the Communists would not be able to seize power. There he stands, the snobbish, educated, petty bourgeois, an utter coward, soaked from head to foot with distrust and contempt for the masses. The Social Democracy and the Communist Party together hold about 40 percent of the votes, despite the fact that the betrayals of the Social Democracy and the mistakes of the Communist Party drive millions into the camp of indifferentism and even National Socialism. Once a fact, the joint action of these two parties alone, by opening before the masses new perspectives, would incommensurably increase the strength of the proletariat. But let us limit ourselves to 40 percent. Has Brüning perhaps more, or Hitler? But there are only these three groups that can rule Germany: the proletariat the Center Party, or the fascists. But a notion is firmly implanted in the heads of the educated petty bourgeois: for the representatives of capital to rule, 20 percent of the votes suffice, because the bourgeoisie, you see, has the banks, the trusts, the syndicates, the railroads. True, our educated petty bourgeois made ready to “socialize” all these twelve years ago. But enough is too much! A program of socialization – yes; the expropriation of the expropriators – no, that is already Bolshevism.
We have taken the correlation of forces in their parliamentary cross section. But that’s a trick mirror. In parliamentary representation the strength of an oppressed class is way below its actual strength and contrariwise: the representation of the bourgeoisie even the day before its downfall will still be a masquerade of its supposed strength. Only revolutionary struggle tears away all the covers from the actual relation of forces. During a direct and immediate struggle for power, the proletariat, unless paralyzed by sabotage from within, by Austro-Marxism and by all other forms of betrayal, develops a force incommensurably superior to its parliamentary expression. Let us recall once again the invaluable lessons of history. Even after the Bolsheviks had seized power, and firmly seized it, they had less than one-third of the votes in the Constituent Assembly; together with the Left SRs, less than 40 percent. Yet despite a fearful economic collapse, despite the war, despite the betrayal of the European and, first of all, of the German Social Democracy, despite the postwar reaction of weariness, despite the growth of Thermidorean tendencies, the first workers’ government stands on its feet fourteen years, And what can be said of Germany? At the moment the Social Democratic worker together with the Communist arises to seize power, the task will be nine-tenths completed.
Nevertheless, says Hilferding, had the Social Democracy voted against Brüning’s government and thereby overthrown it, the consequence would have been the coming of the fascists to power. That is the way, perhaps, the matter may appear on a parliamentary plane; but the matter itself does not rest on a parliamentary plane. The Social Democracy could refuse to support Brüning only in the event that it decided to enter upon the road of revolutionary struggle. Either support Brüning, or fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat. No third course is given. The Social Democracy, by voting against Brüning, would change at once the correlation of forces-not on the parliamentary chessboard, whose chess pieces might surprisingly enough be found underneath the table – but on the arena of the revolutionary struggle of the classes. After such an about-face, the forces of the working class would increase not twofold but tenfold, for the moral factor holds by no means the last place in the class struggle, particularly during great historical upheavals. Under the impact of this moral force, the masses of the people, one stratum after another, would be charged to the point of highest intensity. The proletariat would say to itself with assurance, that it alone was called to give a different and a higher direction to the life of this great nation. Disintegration and decomposition in Hitler’s army would set in before the decisive battles. Battles of course could not be avoided; but with a firm resolution to fight to victory, by attacking boldly, victory might be achieved infinitely more easily than the most extreme revolutionary optimist now imagines.
Only a trifle is lacking for this: the about-face of the Social Democracy, its taking the road of revolution. To hope for a voluntary shift on the part of the leaders after the experiences of 1914-1922 would be the most ludicrous of all illusions. But the majority of Social Democratic workers – that is something else again; they can make the turn, and they will make it; it is only necessary to help them. And this turn will be not only against the bourgeois government, but against the upper layers of their own party.
At this point, our Austro-Marxist, who has “nothing to add” to our words, will try once more to bring against us citations from our own books: didn’t we write point blank that the policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy represent a chain of errors; didn’t we stigmatize the participation of the Communist Party in the Hitler referendum? We did write, we did stigmatize. But we wage battle with the Stalinist leadership in the Comintern precisely because it is incapable of breaking up the Social Democracy, of tearing the masses from under its influence, of freeing the locomotive of history from its rusty brake. By its convulsions, its mistakes, its bureaucratic ultimatism, the Stalinist bureaucracy preserves the Social Democracy, permits it again and again to regain its foothold.
The Communist Party is a proletarian, anti-bourgeois party, even if erroneously led. The Social Democracy, though composed of workers, is entirely a bourgeois party, which under “normal conditions” is led quite expertly from the point of view of bourgeois aims, but which is good for nothing at all under the conditions of a social crisis. The leaders of the Social Democracy are themselves forced to recognize, though unwillingly, the bourgeois character of the party. Referring to the crisis and the unemployment situation, Tarnow mouths motheaten phrases about the “disgrace of capitalist civilization,” quite in the manner of a Protestant minister preaching on the sinfulness of wealth; referring to socialism, Tarnow talks after the manner of this same minister when the latter preaches about rewards beyond the grave; but when it comes to concrete questions he assumes another tone: “If on September 14 , this spectre [unemployment] had not hovered over the ballot box, this day would have been written differently into the pages of German history.” (Report at the Leipzig Congress) The Social Democracy lost votes and seats because capitalism, on account of the crisis, had revealed its authentic visage. The crisis did not strengthen the party of “socialism,” on the contrary, it weakened it, just as it depressed the trade turnover, the resources of banks, the self-assurance of Hoover and Ford, the profits of the Prince of Monaco, etc. Today, one is obliged to look, not in bourgeois papers, but in the Social Democratic press for the most optimistic evaluations of the conjuncture. Can more undebatable proofs of the bourgeois character of this party be produced? If the atrophy of capitalism produces the atrophy of the Social Democracy, then the approaching death of capitalism cannot but denote the early death of the Social Democracy. The party that leans upon the workers but serves the bourgeoisie, in the period of the greatest sharpening of the class struggle, cannot but sense the smells wafted from the waiting grave.
The eleventh plenum of the ECCI came to the decision that it was imperative to put an end to those erroneous views which originate in “the liberal interpretation of the contradictions between fascism and bourgeois democracy and the outright fascist forms ...” The gist of this Stalinist philosophy is quite plain: from the Marxist denial of the absolute contradiction it deduces the general negation of the contradiction, even of the relative contradiction. This error is typical of vulgar radicalism. For if there be no contradiction whatsoever between democracy and fascism – even in the sphere of the form of the rule of the bourgeoisie – then these two regimes obviously enough must be equivalent Whence the conclusion: Social Democracy equals fascism. For some reason, however, Social Democracy is dubbed social fascism. And the meaning of the term “social” in this connection has been left unexplained to this very moment.  Nevertheless, the nature of things does not change in accordance with the decisions of the ECCI plenums. A contradiction does exist between democracy and fascism. It is not at all “absolute,” or, putting it in the language of Marxism, it doesn’t at all denote the rule of two irreconcilable classes. But it does denote different systems of the domination of one and the same class. These two systems: the one parliamentary-democratic, the other fascist, derive their support from different combinations of the oppressed and exploited classes; and they unavoidably come to a sharp clash with each other.
The Social Democracy, which is today the chief representative of the parliamentary-bourgeois regime, derives its support from the workers. Fascism is supported by the petty bourgeoisie. The Social Democracy without the mass organizations of the workers can have no influence. Fascism cannot entrench itself in power without annihilating the workers’ organizations. Parliament is the main arena of the Social Democracy. The system of fascism is based upon the destruction of parliamentarism. For the monopolistic bourgeoisie, the parliamentary and fascist regimes represent only different vehicles of dominion; it has recourse to one or the other, depending upon the historical conditions. But for both the Social Democracy and fascism, the choice of one or the other vehicle has an independent significance; more than that, for them it is a question of political life or death.
At the moment that the “normal” police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium – the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie, and bands of the declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat; all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy. From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, directly and immediately, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive, administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the cooperatives. When a state turns fascist, it doesn’t only mean that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance with the patterns set by Mussolini – the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role – but it means, primarily and above all, that the workers’ organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism.
The above is not at all contradicted by the fact that during a given period, between the democratic and the fascist systems, a transitional regime is established, which combines the features of both: such, in general, is the law that governs the displacement of one social system by another, even though they are irreconcilably inimical to each other. There are periods during which the bourgeoisie leans upon both the Social Democracy and fascism, that is, during which it simultaneously manipulates its electoral and terroristic agencies. Such, in a certain sense, was the government of Kerensky during the last months of its existence, when it leaned partly on the Soviets and at the same time conspired with Kornilov. Such is the government of Brüning as it dances on a tightrope between two irreconcilable camps, balancing itself with the emergency decrees instead of a pole. But such a condition of the state and of the administration is temporary in character. It signalizes the transition period, during which the Social Democracy is on the verge of exhausting its mission, while, in that same period, neither Communism nor fascism is ready as yet to seize power.
The Italian Communists, who have had to study the problems of fascism for a long time, have protested time and again against the widespread abuse of these concepts. Formerly, at the Sixth Congress of the Comintern, Ercoli was still formulating views on the question of fascism which are now credited as “Trotskyist.” Ercoli at that time defined fascism as being the most thorough and uncompromising system of reaction, and he explained: “This administration supports itself not by the cruelty of its terroristic acts, not by murdering large numbers of workers and peasants, not by applying on a large scale varied methods of brutal torture, not by the severity of its law courts; but it depends upon the systematic annihilation of each and every form of the independent organization of the masses.” In this Ercoli is absolutely correct: the gist of fascism and its task consist in a complete suppression of all workers’ organizations and in the prevention of their revival. In a developed capitalist society this goal cannot be achieved by police methods alone. There is only one method for it, and that is directly opposing the pressure of the proletariat – the moment it weakens – by the pressure of the desperate masses of the petty bourgeoisie. It is this particular system of capitalist reaction that has entered history under the name of fascism.
“All questions as to the relation between fascism and Social Democracy,” wrote Ercoli, “belong to the same sphere [the irreconcilability of fascism with the existence of the workers’ organizations]. It is in this relation that fascism clearly differentiates itself from all other reactionary regimes established hitherto in the contemporary capitalist world. It rejects all compromise with the Social Democracy; it persecutes it relentlessly; it deprives it of all legal means of existence; it forces it to emigrate.–
So reads an article published in the leading organs of the Comintern! Subsequently, Manuilsky buzzed in Molotov’s ear the great idea of the “third period,” France, Germany, and Poland were assigned to “the front rank of the revolutionary offensive.” The seizure of power was proclaimed to be the immediate task. And since, in the face of the uprising of the proletariat, all parties, except the Communist, are counter-revolutionary, it was no longer necessary to distinguish between fascism and Social Democracy. The theory of social fascism was ordained. And the functionaries of the Comintern lost no time in realigning themselves. Ercoli made haste to prove that, precious as truth was to him, Molotov was more precious, and ... he wrote a report in defense of the theory of social fascism. “The Italian Social Democracy,” he announced in February 1930, “turns fascist with the greatest readiness.” Alas, the functionaries of official Communism turn flunkies even more readily.
As was to be expected, our criticism of the theory and application of the “third period” was decreed counterrevolutionary. Nevertheless, the cruel experiences that cost the proletarian vanguard dearly, forced an about-face in this sphere also. The “third period” was pensioned off, and so was Molotov himself from the Comintern. But the theory of social fascism remained behind as the lone ripe fruit of the third period. No changes could take place here: only Molotov was tied up with the third period; but Stalin himself was enmeshed in social fascism.
Die Rote Fahne begins its researches into social fascism with Stalin’s words, “Fascism is the military organization of the bourgeoisie which leans upon the Social Democracy for active support. The Social Democracy, objectively speaking, is the moderate wing of fascism.” Objectively speaking, it is a habit with Stalin, when he attempts to generalize, to contradict the first phrase by the second and to conclude in the second what doesn’t at all follow from the first There is no debating that the bourgeoisie leans on the Social Democracy, and that fascism is a military organization of the bourgeoisie; and this has been remarked upon a long time ago. The only conclusion which follows from this is that the Social Democracy as well as fascism are the tools of the big bourgeoisie. How the Social Democracy becomes thereby also a “wing” of fascism is incomprehensible. Equally profound is another observation by the same author: fascism and Social Democracy are not enemies, they are twins. Now twins may be the bitterest enemies; while on the other hand, allies need not be born necessarily on one and the same day and from identical parents. Stalin’s constructions lack even formal logic, to say nothing of dialectics. Their strength lies in the fact that none dares challenge them.
“As regards ‘the class content’ there are no distinctions between democracy and fascism,” lectures Werner Hirsch, echoing Stalin (Die Internationale, January 1932). The transition from democracy to fascism may take the character of “an organic process,” that is, it may occur “gradually” and “bloodlessly.” Such reasoning might dumbfound anyone, but the epigones have inured us to becoming dumbfounded.
There are no “class distinctions” between democracy and fascism. Obviously this must mean that democracy as well as fascism is bourgeois in character. We guessed as much even prior to January 1932. The ruling class, however, does not inhabit a vacuum. It stands in definite relations to other classes. In a developed capitalist society, during a “democratic regime, the bourgeoisie leans for support primarily upon the working classes, which are held in check by the reformists. In its most finished form, this system finds its expression in Britain during the administration of the Labour government as well as during that of the Conservatives. In a fascist regime, at least during its first phase, capital leans on the petty bourgeoisie, which destroys the organizations of the proletariat. Italy, for instance! Is there a difference in the “class content” of these two regimes? If the question is posed only as regards the ruling class, then there is no difference. If one takes into account the position and the interrelations of all classes, from the angle of the proletariat, then the difference appears to be quite enormous.
In the course of many decades, the workers have built up within the bourgeois democracy, by utilizing it, by fighting against it, their own strongholds and bases of proletarian democracy: the trade unions, the political parties, the educational and sport clubs, the cooperatives, etc. The proletariat cannot attain power within the formal limits of bourgeois democracy, but can do so only by taking the road of revolution: this has been proved both by theory and experience. And these bulwarks of workers” democracy within the bourgeois state are absolutely essential for taking the revolutionary road. The work of the Second International consisted in creating just such bulwarks during the epoch when it was still fulfilling its progressive historic labor.
Fascism has for its basic and only task the razing to their foundations of all institutions of proletarian democracy. Has this any “class meaning” for the proletariat, or hasn’t it? The lofty theoreticians had better ponder over this. After pronouncing the regime to be bourgeois – which no one questions Hirsch, together with his masters, overlooks a mere trifle: the position of the proletariat in this regime. In place of the historical process they substitute a bald sociological abstraction. But the class war takes place on the soil of history, and not in the stratosphere of sociology. The point of departure in the struggle against fascism is not the abstraction of the democratic state, but the living organizations of the proletariat, in which is concentrated all its past experience and which prepare it for the future.
The statement that the transition from democracy to fascism may take on an “organic” and a “gradual” character can mean one thing and one thing only and that is: without any fuss, without a fight, the proletariat may be deprived not only of all its material conquests – not only of its given standard of living, of its social legislation, of its civil and political rights but also even of the basic weapon whereby these were achieved, that is, its organizations. The “bloodless” transition to fascism implies under this terminology, the most frightful capitulation of the proletariat that can be conceived.
Werner Hirsch’s theoretical discussions are not accidental; while they serve to develop still further the theoretical soothsayings of Stalin, they also serve to generalize the entire present agitation of the Communist Party. The party’s chief resources are in fact being strained only to prove that there is no difference between Brüning’s regime and Hitler’s regime. Thälmann and Remmele see in this the quintessence of Bolshevik policy.
Nor is the matter restricted to Germany only. The notion that nothing new will be added by the victory of fascists is being zealously propagated now in all sections of the Comintern. In the January issue of the French periodical Cahiers du Bolchevisme we read, “The Trotskyists behave in practice like Breitscheid; they accept the famous Social Democratic theory of the ‘lesser evil,’ according to which Brüning is not as bad as Hitler, according to which it is not so unpleasant to starve under Brüning as under Hitler, and infinitely more preferable to be shot down by Groener than by Frick.” This is not the most stupid passage, although – to give it due credit – stupid enough. Unfortunately, however, it expresses the gist of the political philosophy of the leaders of the Comintern.
The fact of the matter is that the Stalinists compare the two regimes from the point of view of vulgar democracy. And indeed, were one to consider Brüning’s regime from the criterion of “formal” democracy, one would arrive at a conclusion which is beyond argument: nothing is left of the proud Weimar Constitution save the bones and the skin. But this does not settle the question so far as we are concerned. The question must be approached from the angle of proletarian democracy. This criterion is also the only reliable one on which to consider the question as to when and where the “normal” police methods of reaction under decaying capitalism are replaced by the fascist regime.
Whether Brüning is “better” than Hitler (better looking perhaps?) is a question which, we confess, doesn’t interest us at all. But one need only glance at the list of workers’ organizations to assert, fascism has not conquered yet in Germany. In the way of its victory there still remain gigantic obstacles and forces.
The present Brüning regime is the regime of bureaucratic dictatorship or, more definitely, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie enforced by means of the army and the police. The fascist petty bourgeoisie and the proletarian organizations seem to counterbalance one another. Were the workers united by soviets, were factory committees fighting for the control of production, then one could speak of dual power. Because of the split within the proletariat, because of the tactical helplessness of its vanguard, dual power does not exist as yet. But the very fact that mighty organizations of workers do exist, which under certain conditions are capable of repelling fascism with crushing force, that is what keeps Hitler from seizing power and imparts a certain “independence” to the bureaucratic apparatus.
Brüning’s dictatorship is a caricature of Bonapartism. His dictatorship is unstable, unreliable, short-lived. It signalizes not the initiation of a new social equilibrium but the early crash of the old one. Supported directly only by a small minority of the bourgeoisie, tolerated by the Social Democracy against the will of the workers, threatened by fascism, Brüning can bring down the thunder of paper decrees but not real thunderbolts. Brüning is fit for dissolving parliament with its own assent; he’ll do to promulgate a few decrees against the workers; to proclaim a Christmas truce and to make a few deals under its cover; to break up a hundred meetings, close down a dozen papers, exchange letters with Hitler worthy of a village druggist – that is all. But for greater things his arms are too short.
Brüning is compelled to tolerate the existence of workers’ organizations because he hasn’t decided to this very day to hand the power over to Hitler, and inasmuch as he himself has no independent means of liquidating them. Brüning is compelled to tolerate the fascists and to patronize them inasmuch as he mortally fears the victory of the workers. Brüning’s regime is a transitional, short-lived regime, preceding the catastrophe. The present administration holds on only because the chief camps have not as yet pitted their strength. The real battle has not begun. It is still to come. The dictatorship of bureaucratic impotence fills in the lull before the battle, before the forces are openly matched.
The wiseacres who boast that they do not recognize any difference ‘between Brüning and Hitler,’ are saying in reality; it makes no difference whether our organizations exist, or whether they are already destroyed. Beneath this pseudo-radical phraseology there hides the most sordid passivity; we can’t escape defeat anyway! Read over carefully the quotation from the French Stalinist periodical. They reduce the question to whether it is better to starve under Hitler or Brüning. To them it is a question of under whom to starve. To us, on the contrary, it is not a question of under which conditions it is better to die. We raise the question of how to fight and win. And we conclude thus: the major offensive must be begun before the bureaucratic dictatorship is replaced by the fascist regime, that is, before the workers’ organizations are crushed. The general offensive should be prepared for by deploying, extending, and sharpening the sectional clashes. But for this one must have a correct perspective and, first of all, one should not proclaim victorious the enemy who is still a long way from victory.
Herein is the crux of the problem; herein is the strategical key to the background; herein is the operating base from which the battle must be waged. Every thinking worker, the more so every Communist, must give himself an accounting and plumb to the bottom the empty and rotten talk of the Stalinist bureaucracy about Brüning and Hitler being one and the same thing. You are muddling! we say in answer. You muddle disgracefully because you are afraid of the difficulties that lie ahead, because you are terrified by the great problems that lie ahead; you throw in the sponge before the fighting is begun, you proclaim that we have already suffered defeat. You are lying! The working class is split; it is weakened by the reformists and disoriented by the vacillations of its own vanguard, but it is not annihilated yet, its forces are not yet exhausted. No. The proletariat of Germany is powerful. The most optimistic estimates will be infinitely surpassed once its revolutionary energy clears the way for it to the arena of action.
Brüning’s regime is the preparatory regime. Preparatory to what? Either to the victory of fascism, or to the victory of the proletariat. This regime is preparatory because both camps are only preparing for the decisive battle. If you identify Brüning with Hitler, you identify the conditions before the battle with the conditions after defeat; it means that you admit defeat beforehand; it means that you appeal for surrender without a battle.
The overwhelming majority of the workers, particularly the Communists, does not want this. The Stalinist bureaucracy, of course, does not want it either. But one must take into account not one’s good intentions, with which Hitler will pave the road to his Hell, but the objective meaning of one’s policies, of their direction, and their tendencies. We must disclose in its entirety the passive, timidly hesitant capitulating and declamatory character of the politics of Stalin-Manuilsky-Thälmann-Remmele. We must teach the revolutionary workers to understand that the key to the situation is in the hands of the Communist Party; but the Stalinist bureaucracy attempts to use this key to lock the gates to revolutionary action.
When the newspapers of the new Socialist Workers Party (the SAP) criticize “the party egoism” of the Social Democracy and of the Communist Party; when Seydewitz assures us that so far as he is concerned, “the interests of the class come before the interests of the party,” they only fall into political sentimentalism or, what is worse, behind this sentimental phraseology they screen the interests of their own party. This method is no good. Whenever reaction demands that the interests of the nation” be placed before class interests, we Marxists take pains to explain that under the guise of “the whole,” the reaction puts through the interests of the exploiting class. The interests of the nation cannot be formulated otherwise than from the point of view of the ruling class, or of the class pretending to sovereignty. The interests of the class cannot be formulated otherwise than in the shape of a program; the program cannot be defended otherwise than by creating the party. The class, taken by itself, is only material for exploitation. The proletariat assumes an independent role only at that moment when from a social class in itself it becomes a political class for itself This cannot take place otherwise than through the medium of a party. The party is that historical organ by means of which the class becomes class conscious. To say that “the class stands higher than the party,” is to assert that the class in the raw stands higher than the class which is on the road to class consciousness. Not only is this incorrect; it is reactionary. There isn’t the slightest need for this smug and shallow theory in order to establish the necessity for a united front.
The progress of a class toward class consciousness, that is, the building of a revolutionary party which leads the proletariat, is a complex and a contradictory process. The class itself is not homogeneous. Its different sections arrive at class consciousness by different paths and at different times. The bourgeoisie participates actively in this process. Within the working class, it creates its own institutions, or utilizes those already existing, in order to oppose certain strata of workers to others. Within the proletariat several parties are active at the same time. Therefore, for the greater part of its historical journey, it remains split politically. The problem of the united front – which arises during certain periods most sharply originates therein.
The historical interests of the proletariat find their expression in the Communist Party – when its policies are correct. The task of the Communist Party consists in winning over the majority of the proletariat; and only thus is the socialist revolution made possible. The Communist Party cannot fulfill its mission except by preserving, completely and unconditionally, its political and organizational independence apart from all other parties and organizations within and without the working class. To transgress this basic principle of Marxist policy is to commit the most heinous of crimes against the interests of the proletariat as a class. The Chinese Revolution of 1925-1927 was wrecked precisely because the Comintern, under the leadership of Stalin and Bukharin, forced the Chinese Communist Party to enter into the party of the Chinese bourgeoisie, the Kuomintang, and to obey its discipline. The experience resulting from the application of Stalinist policies as regards the Kuomintang will enter forever into history as an example of how the revolution was ruinously sabotaged by its leaders. The Stalinist theory of “two-class workers’ and peasants’ parties” for the Orient is the generalization and authorization of the practice employed with the Kuomintang; the application of this theory in Japan, India, Indonesia, and Korea has undermined the authority of the Comintern and has set back their revolutionary development for a number of years. This same policy – perfidious in its essence – was applied, though not quite so cynically, in the United States, in Britain, and in all countries of Europe up to 1928.
The struggle of the Left Opposition for the maintenance of the complete and unconditional independence of the Communist Party and of its policies, under each and every historical condition, and on all stages of the development of the proletariat, strained the relations between the Opposition and the Stalinist faction to the breaking point during the period of Stalin’s bloc with Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Chin-wei, Purcell, Radich, LaFollette, etc. It is quite unnecessary to recall that both Thälmann and Remmele as well as Brandler and Thalheimer, during this struggle, were completely on Stalin’s side against the Bolshevik-Leninists. It is not we, therefore, who have to go to school and learn from Stalin and Thälmann about the independent policies of the Communist Party!
But the proletariat moves toward revolutionary consciousness not by passing grades in school but by passing through the class struggle, which abhors interruptions. To fight, the proletariat must have unity in its ranks. This holds true for partial economic conflicts, within the walls of a single factory, as well as for such “national” political battles as the one to repel fascism. Consequently the tactic of the united front is not something accidental and artificial – a cunning maneuver – not at all; it originates, entirely and wholly, in the objective conditions governing the development of the proletariat. The words in the Communist Manifesto which state that the Communists are not to be opposed to the proletariat, that they have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole, carry with them the meaning that the struggle of the party to win over the majority of the class must in no instance come into opposition with the need of the workers to keep unity within their fighting ranks.
Die Rote Fahne is completely justified in condemning all discussions concerning the contention that “the class interests must be placed above party interests.” In reality, the correctly understood interests of the class are identical with the correctly formulated problems of the party. So long as the discussion is limited to this historico-philosophical assertion, the position of Die Rote Fahne is unassailable. But the political conclusions which it deduces therefrom are nothing short of a mockery of Marxism.
The identity, in principle, of the interests of the proletariat and of the aims of the Communist Party does not mean either that the proletariat as a whole is, even today, conscious of its class interests, or that the party under all conditions formulates them correctly. The very need for the party originates in the plain fact that the proletariat is not born with the innate understanding of its historical interests. The task of the party consists in learning, from experience derived from the struggle, how to demonstrate to the proletariat its right to leadership. And yet the Stalinist bureaucracy, on the contrary, holds to the opinion that it can demand outright obedience from the proletariat, simply on the strength of a party passport, stamped with the seal of the Comintern.
Every united front that doesn’t first place itself under the leadership of the Communist Party, reiterates Die Rote Fahne, is directed against the interests of the proletariat. Whoever doesn’t recognize the leadership of the Communist Party is himself a “counterrevolutionary.” The worker is obliged to trust the Communist organization in advance, on its word of honor. From the identity, in principle, of the aims of the party and of the class, the functionary deduces his right to lay down the law to the class. The very historical problem which the Communist Party is yet to solve – that of uniting the overwhelming majority of the workers under its banner – is turned by the bureaucrat into an ultimatum, into a pistol which he holds against the temple of the working class. Formalistic, administrative, and bureaucratic thinking supplants the dialectic.
The historical problem that must be solved is decreed as solved already. The confidence yet to be won is announced as won already. That, it goes without saying, is the easiest way out. But very little is achieved that way. In politics one must proceed from facts as they are, and not as one would like them to be, or as they will be eventually. The position of the Stalinist bureaucracy drawn to its conclusion leads, in fact, to the negation of the party. For what is the net result of all its historical labor, if the proletariat is obliged beforehand to accept the leadership of Thälmann and Remmele?
From the worker desirous of joining the ranks of the Communists, the party has a right to demand: you must accept our program and obey our regulations and the authority of our electoral institutions. But it is absurd and criminal to present the same a priori demand, or even a part of it, to the working masses of workers’ organizations when the matter of joint action for the sake of definite aims of struggle is broached. Thereby the very foundations of the party are undermined; for the party can fulfill its task only by maintaining correct relations with the class. Instead of issuing such a one-sided ultimatum, which irritates and insults the workers, the party should submit a definite program for joint action: that is the surest way of achieving leadership in reality.
Ultimatism is an attempt to rape the working class after failing to convince it: workers, unless you accept the leadership of Thälmann-Remmele-Neumann, we will not permit you to establish the united front The bitterest foe could not devise a more unsound position than the one in which the leaders of the party place themselves. That is the surest way to ruin.
The leadership of the German Communist Party stresses its ultimatism all the more sharply by the casuistic circumlocution in its proclamations, “We make no demands that you accept our Communist view beforehand.” This rings like an apology for policies for which there is no apology. When the party proclaims its refusal to enter into any kind of negotiations with other organizations but offers to take in under the party leadership those Social Democratic workers who want to break with their organizations without their being obliged to call themselves Communists, then the party is using the language of pure ultimatism. The reservation as regards “our Communist views” is absolutely ludicrous; the worker who is at this very moment ready to break with his party and to participate in the struggle under Communist leadership, would not be deterred by the fact that he must call himself a Communist. Jugglery with labels and subtleties of diplomacy are foreign to the worker. He takes politics and organizations as they are. He remains with the Social Democracy so long as he does not trust the Communist leadership. We can say with assurance that the majority of Social Democratic workers remain in their party to this day not because they trust the reformist leadership but because they do not as yet trust that of the Communists. But they do want to fight against fascism even now. Were they shown the first step to take in a common struggle, they would insist upon their organizations taking that step. If their organizations balked, they might reach the point of breaking with them.
Instead of aiding the Social Democratic workers to find their way through experience, the CEC (Central Executive Committee) of the Communist Party abets the leaders of the Social Democracy against the workers. The Welses and the Hilferdings are enabled to mask successfully their own unwillingness to fight, their dread of fighting, their inability to fight by citing the aversion of the Communist Party to participation in a common struggle. The stubborn, doltish, and insensate rejection by the Communist Party of the policies of the united front provides the Social Democracy, under the present conditions, with its most important political weapon. This is just the reason why the Social Democracy – with the parasitism inherent in its nature – snaps up our criticism of the ultimatistic policies of Stalin-Thälmann.
The official leaders of the Comintern are now expatiating with an air of profundity upon the need to elevate the theoretical level of the party and to study “the history of Bolshevism.” Actually “the level” is falling constantly, the lessons of Bolshevism are forgotten, distorted, and trampled underfoot. In the meantime, it is by no means difficult to find in the history of the Russian party the precursor of the present policy of the German CEC: he is none other than the deceased Bogdanov, the founder of ultimatism. As far back as 1905 he deemed it impossible for the Bolsheviks to participate in the Petrograd Soviet, unless the Soviet recognized beforehand the leadership of the Social Democrats. Under Bogdanov’s influence, the Petrograd Bureau of the CEC (Bolsheviks) passed a resolution in October 1905: to submit before the Petrograd Soviet the demand that it recognize the leadership of the party; and in the event of refusal – to walk out of the Soviet. Krassikov, a young lawyer, in those days a member of the CEC (Bolsheviks), read this ultimatum at the plenary session of the Soviet The worker deputies, among them Bolsheviks also, exchanged surprised looks and then passed on to the business on the order of the day. Not a man walked out of the Soviet. Shortly after that Lenin arrived from abroad, and he raked the ultimatists over the coals mercilessly. “You can’t,” he lectured them, “nor can anyone else by means of ultimatums force the masses to skip the necessary phases of their own political development.”
Bogdanov, however, did not discard his methodology, and he subsequently founded an entire faction of “ultimatists” or “up and outers,” called Otzovists. They received the latter nickname because of their tendency to call upon the Bolsheviks to get up and get out from all those organizations that refused to accept the ultimatum laid down from above: “you must first accept our leadership.” The ultimatists attempted to apply their policy not only to the Soviets but also to the parliamentary sphere and to the trade unions, in short, to all legal and semi-legal organizations of the working class.
Lenin’s fight against ultimatism was a fight for the correct interrelation between the party and the class. The ultimatists in the old Bolshevik Party never played a role of the slightest importance, otherwise the victory of Bolshevism would not have been possible. The strength of Bolshevism lay in its wide awake and sensitive relation to the class. Lenin continued his fight against ultimatism even when he was in supreme command, in particular and especially as regards the attitude to the trade unions. “Indeed, if now in Russia,” he wrote, “after two and a half years of unheard-of victories over the bourgeoisie of Russia and of the Entente, we were to place before the trade unions as a condition for their joining us that they ‘recognize the dictatorship’ we would be guilty of stupidity, we would impair our influence over the masses, we would aid the Mensheviks. For the task of the Communists consists in being able to convince the backward; to know how to work among them and not to fence ourselves off from them by a barrier of fictitious and puerile ‘left’ slogans” (Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder). This holds all the more for the Communist Parties of the West, which represent only a minority of the working class.
During the last few years, however, the situation in the USSR has changed radically. The arming of the Communist Party with sovereignty means the introduction of a new element into the interrelation between the vanguard and the class: into this relation there enters the element of force. Lenin’s struggle against party and Soviet bureaucracy was in its essence a struggle not against the faulty organization of departments, nor against departmental red tape and inefficiency but against the apparatus laying down the law to the class, against the transformation of the party bureaucracy into a new “ruling” clique. Lenin’s counsel, from his deathbed, that a proletarian Control Commission be created, independent of the CEC, and that Stalin and his faction be removed from the party apparatus, was aimed against the bureaucratic degeneration of the party. For various reasons, which cannot be dealt with here, the party ignored this counsel. Of recent years the bureaucratic degeneration of the party has reached the extreme limit. Stalin’s apparatus simply lays down the law. The language of command is the language of ultimatism. Every worker must perforce and forthwith accept as infallible all the past, present, and future decisions of the CEC. The more erroneous the policies become, the greater are the pretensions to infallibility.
After gathering into its hands the apparatus of the Comintern, the Stalinist faction naturally transferred its methods to the foreign sections also, i.e., to the Communist Parties in the capitalist nations. The policy of the German leaders has for its counterpart the policy of the Moscow leadership. Thälmann observes how Stalin’s bureaucracy rules the roost, by condemning as counterrevolutionary all those who do not recognize its infallibility. Wherein is Thälmann worse than Stalin? If the working class does not willingly place itself under his leadership, that is only because the working class is counterrevolutionary. Double-dyed counterrevolutionaries are those who point out the balefulness of ultimatism. The collected works of Lenin are among the most counterrevolutionary publications. There is sufficient reason why Stalin should – as he does – submit them to such rigid censorship, particularly on their publication in foreign languages. As baleful as ultimatism. is under all conditions, if in the USSR it dissipates the moral capital of the party – it breeds double disaster for the Western parties, which must yet begin accumulating their moral capital. Within the Soviet Union, at least, the victorious revolution has created the material grounds for bureaucratic ultimatism in the shape of an apparatus for repression, whereas in capitalist countries, including Germany, ultimatism becomes converted into an impotent caricature, and interferes with the movement of the Communist Party to power. Above all, the ultimatism of Thälmann-Remmele is ridiculous. And whatever is ridiculous is fatal, particularly in matters concerning a revolutionary party.
Let us for a moment transfer the problem to Great Britain, where the Communist Party (as a consequence of the ruinous mistakes of Stalinist bureaucracy) still comprises an insignificant portion of the proletariat. If one accepts the theory that every type of the united front, except the Communist, is “counter-revolutionary,” then obviously the British proletariat must put off its revolutionary struggle until that time when the Communist Party is able to come to the fore. But the Communist Party cannot come to the front of the class except on the basis of its own revolutionary experience. However, its experience cannot take on a revolutionary character in any other way than by drawing mass millions into the struggle. Yet non-Communist masses, the more so if organized, cannot be drawn into the struggle except through the policy of the united front. We fall into a vicious circle, from which there is no way out by means of bureaucratic ultimatism. But the revolutionary dialectic has long since pointed the way out and has demonstrated it by countless examples in the most diverse spheres: by correlating the struggle for power with the struggle for reforms; by maintaining complete independence of the party while preserving the unity of the trade unions; by fighting against the bourgeois regime and at the same time utilizing its institutions; by relentlessly criticizing parliamentarism – from the parliamentary tribunal; by waging war mercilessly against reformism, and at the same time making practical agreements with the reformists in partial struggles.
In Britain, the incompetence of ultimatism hits one in the eye because of the extreme weakness of the party. In Germany the balefulness of ultimatism is masked somewhat by the considerable numerical strength of the party and by its growth. But the German party is growing on account of the pressure of events and not thanks to the policies of the leadership; not because of ultimatism, but despite it. Moreover, the numerical growth of the party does not play the decisive role; what does decide is the political interrelation between the party and the class. Along this line, which is fundamental, the situation is not improving, because the German party has placed between itself and the class the thorny hedge of ultimatism.
The former Social Democrat Torhorst (from Düsseldorf), who has come over to the Communist Party, spoke in the name of the party in mid-January, in Frankfurt. In her official report she said, “The leaders of the Social Democracy are sufficiently exposed, and it would be only a waste of energy to continue our efforts in this direction, with unity from above.” We quote from a Frankfurt Communist newspaper which lauds the report highly. “The leaders of the Social Democracy are sufficiently exposed.” Sufficiently – so far as the spokeswoman herself is concerned, who came over from the Social Democracy to the Communists (which, of course, does her honor); but insufficiently – so far as those millions of workers are concerned who vote for the Social Democrats and who put up with the reformist bureaucracy of the trade unions. It is hardly necessary, however, to cite an isolated report. In the latest proclamation to reach me, Die Rote Fahne (January 28, 1932) argues once again that the united front can be established only against the Social Democratic leaders, and without them. Proof: “None will believe them who has lived through and has experienced the handiwork of these ‘leaders’ for the last eighteen years.” And what, may we ask, is to be done about those who have participated in politics fewer than eighteen years, and even fewer than eighteen months? Since the outbreak of the war, several political generations have matured who must recapitulate the experience of older generations, even though within a much smaller space of time. “The whole point of the matter is,” Lenin coached the ultra-leftists, “that we must not assume whatever is obsolete for us to be obsolete for the class, for the masses.”
Moreover, even the older generation that did pass through the experience of eighteen years hasn’t at all broken with the leaders. On the contrary, it is just the Social Democracy that still retains many “old-timers,” who are bound to the party by long-standing traditions. It’s sad, surely, that the masses learn so slowly. But in a goodly measure to blame for this are the Communist “pedagogues” who have been palpably unable to expose the criminal nature of reformism. The least that can be done now is to utilize the situation; and at the same time when the attention of the masses is strained to its highest pitch by mortal danger, to subject the reformists to a new and this time, perhaps, really decisive test
Without hiding or mitigating our opinion of the Social Democratic leaders in the slightest, we may and we must say to the Social Democratic workers, “Since, on the one hand, you are willing to fight together with us; and since, on the other, you are still unwilling to break with your leaders, here is what we suggest: force your leaders to join us in a common struggle for such and such practical aims, in such and such a manner; as for us, we Communists are ready.” Can anything be more plain, more palpable, more convincing?
In precisely this sense I wrote – with the conscious intention of arousing the sincere horror of blockheads and the fake indignation of charlatans – that in the war against fascism we were ready to conclude practical military alliances with the devil and his grandmother, even with Noske and Zörgiebel. 
The official party, itself, violates its stillborn policy at every step. In its appeals for the “Red United Front” (with its own self), it invariably puts forward the demand for “the unconditional freedom of the proletarian press and the right to demonstrate, meet, and organize.” This slogan is clear-cut through and through. But when the Communist Party speaks of proletarian and not only of Communist papers, meetings, etc., it thereby, in fact, puts forward the slogan of the united front with that very Social Democracy that publishes workers’ papers, calls meetings, etc. To put forward political slogans that in themselves include the idea of the united front with the Social Democracy, and to reject the making of practical agreements to fight for these slogans – that is the height of absurdity.
Münzenberg, whose practical horse-sense occasionally falls foul of “the general line,” wrote in November in Der Rote Aufbau, “It’s true that National Socialism is the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, and the most bestial wing of the fascist movement in Germany; and that all true left circles [!] are most vitally concerned in interfering with the growth in influence and power of this wing of German fascism.” If Hitler’s party is “the most reactionary and most bestial” wing, then Brüning’s regime is, at least, less bestial and less reactionary. Münzenberg, here, is stealthily flirting with the theory of the “lesser evil.” To preserve a semblance of piety, he goes on to differentiate between different kinds of fascism: mud, medium, and strong, as if it were a question of Turkish tobacco. However, if all “the left circles” (and have they no names?) are interested in the victory over fascism, then isn’t it imperative to put these “left circles” to a practical test?
Isn’t it self-evident that Breitscheid’s diplomatic and equivocal offer should have been grabbed with both hands; and that from one’s own side, one should have submitted a concrete, carefully detailed, and practical program for a joint struggle against fascism and demanded joint sessions of the executives of both parties, with the participation of the executives of the Free Trade Unions? Simultaneously, one should have carried this same program energetically down through all the layers of both parties and of the masses. The negotiations should have been carried on openly before the eyes of the entire nation: daily accounts should have appeared in the press without distortions and absurd fabrications. Such an agitation by its directness and incisiveness would tell with far greater effect on the worker than the incessant din on the subject of “social fascism.” Under such conditions, the Social Democracy could not hide for a single day behind the pasteboard pageant of “the Iron Front.”
Everyone should read Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder; today it is the timeliest of timely books. It is in reference to just such situations as the present one in Germany that Lenin speaks of (we quote verbatim) “the absolute necessity for the vanguard of the proletariat, for its class-conscious section, for the Communist Party to resort to tacking and veering in its course, to agreements and compromises with different proletarian groups, with different parties of workers and of small proprietors ... The whole matter lies in being able to apply this tactic for the sake of raising and not lowering the common level of proletarian class consciousness, revolutionary spirit, and the capacity to fight and to win.”
But what steps does the Communist Party take? Day in and day out, it reiterates in its newspapers that the only united front it will accept “is the one directed against Brüning, Severing, Leipart, Hitler and their ilk.” In the face of a proletarian uprising, there is no gainsaying it, there will be no difference between Brüning, Severing, Leipart, and Hitler. Against the October Bolshevik uprising, the SRs and the Mensheviks united with the Cadets and Kornilov; Kerensky led the Black Hundreds and the Cossacks of General Krasnov against Petrograd; the Mensheviks supported Kerensky and Krasnov; the SRs engineered the uprising of the Junkers under the leadership of monarchist officers.
But this doesn’t at all mean that Brüning, Severing, Leipart, and Hitler always and under all conditions belong to the same camp. Just now their interests diverge. At the given moment the question that is posed before the Social Democracy is not so much one of defending the foundations of capitalist society against proletarian revolution as of defending the semi-parliamentarian bourgeois system against fascism. The refusal to make use of this antagonism would be an act of gross stupidity.
“To wage war for the purpose of overthrowing the international bourgeoisie,” Lenin wrote in Left-Wing Communism, “and to refuse beforehand to tack and veer in one’s course and to make good use of the antagonism (no matter how temporary) in interests between the enemies; to eschew agreements and compromises with possible (no matter how temporary, vacillating, and adventitious) allies – isn’t that too ridiculous for words?” Again we quote verbatim; the words we italicize in parentheses are Lenin’s.
We quote further: “It is possible to vanquish a more powerful enemy only by straining one’s forces to their utmost; and it is imperative that one make use, most painstakingly, carefully, cautiously and expertly, of any ‘rift’ between the enemies, no matter how tiny.” But what are Thälmann and Remmele under Manuilsky’s guidance doing? With might and main they are striving to cement, with the theory of social fascism and with the practice of sabotage against the united front, the rift – and what a rift – between the Social Democracy and fascism.
Lenin enjoined that use be made of “every opportunity to gain a mass ally, no matter how temporary, vacillating, unreliable, and adventitious. Whoever hasn’t been able to get that into his head,” he said, “doesn’t understand an iota of Marxism, and of contemporary scientific socialism in general.” Prick up your ears, prophets of the new Stalinist school: it is written here in black and white that you don’t understand an iota of Marxism. It’s you Lenin spoke of. Please let us hear from you.
But, the Stalinists reply, without a victory over the Social Democracy, victory over fascism is impossible. Is this true? In a certain sense it is. Yet the converse theorem is also true: without victory over Italian fascism, victory over the Italian Social Democracy is impossible. Both fascism and the Social Democracy are tools in the hands of the bourgeoisie. So long as capital rules, fascism and Social Democracy will exist in divers combinations. All the questions, therefore, are reduced to the same denominator: the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeois regime.
But just now, when this regime is tottering in Germany, fascism steps forward in its defense. To knock down this defender, we are told, it is first necessary to finish off the Social Democracy ... Thus we are led into a vicious circle by schematism dead as a herring. The only conceivable way out is in the domain of action. And the character of this action is determined not by juggling abstract categories but by the real interrelations between the living historic forces.
“Oh, no!” the functionaries keep drumming, “we shall ‘first’ liquidate the Social Democracy. How? Very simply, we shall order our party organizations to recruit 100,000 new members within such and such a period.” Instead of political struggle – merely propaganda; instead of dialectic strategy – departmental plans. And what if the real development of the class struggle, at this very moment, has posed the question of fascism before the working class, as a life and death question? Then the working class must be wheeled about with its back to the question; it must be lulled; it must be convinced that the task of fighting against fascism is a minor task; that it will wait and solve itself; that fascism in reality rules already; that Hitler will add nothing new; that there is no cause to fear Hitler; that Hitler will only clear the road for the Communists.
Is that exaggerating, perhaps? No, this is the exact and indubitable idea that motivates the leaders of the Communist Party. They do not always follow it to its ultimate conclusion. On coming in contact with the masses they recoil often from the ultimate conclusions; they make a hodgepodge of diverse policies, confusing themselves and the workers; but on all those occasions when they try to make both ends meet, they proceed from the inevitability of the victory of fascism.
On October 14, 1931, Remmele, one of the three official leaders of the Communist Party, said in the Reichstag, “Herr Brüning has put it very plainly: once they [the fascists] are in power, then the united front of the proletariat will be established and it will make a clean sweep of everything. (Violent applause from the Communists)” Brüning’s scaring the bourgeoisie and the Social Democracy with such a perspective that is intelligible: he thus safeguards his sovereignty. Remmele’s solacing the workers with such a perspective – that is infamous: he thus prepares the way for Hitler’s domination, for this perspective in its entirety is false to the core and bears witness to an utter misunderstanding of mass psychology and of the dialectics of revolutionary struggle. Should the proletariat of Germany, before whose eyes the development of events now proceeds openly, permit fascism to come into power, i.e., should it evince a most fatal blindness and passivity, then there are no reasons whatever for the assumption that after the fascists are in power, this same proletariat will shake off its passivity immediately and “make a clean sweep.” Nothing like this, for instance, happened in Italy. Remmele reasons completely after the manner of the French petty-bourgeois phrasemongers of the nineteenth century who proved themselves entirely incapable of leading the masses but who were quite firmly convinced, nevertheless, that should Louis Bonaparte plant himself over the republic, the people would rise, on the instant, in their defense, and “make a clean sweep.” However, the people that had permitted the adventurer Louis Bonaparte to seize the power proved, sure enough, incapable of sweeping him away thereafter. Before this happened, new major events, historical quakes, and a war had to occur.
The united front of the proletariat is achievable – for Remmele, as he has told us – only after Hitler assumes power. Can a more pathetic confession of one’s own impotence be made? Since we, Remmele & Co., are incapable of uniting the proletariat we place the burden of this task upon Hitler’s shoulders. After he has united the proletariat for us, then we will show ourselves in our true stature. Remmele follows this up with a boastful announcement “We are the victors of the coming day; and the question is no longer one of who shall vanquish whom. This question is already answered. (Applause from the Communists) The question now reads only, ‘At what moment shall we overthrow the bourgeoisie?’” Right to the point! As we say in Russian, that’s pointing one’s finger and hitting the sky. We are the victors of the coming day. All we lack today is the united front. Herr Hitler will supply us with it tomorrow, when he assumes power. Which still means that the victor of the coming day will be not Remmele but Hitler. And then, you might as well carve it on your nose, the moment for the victory of the Communists will not arrive so soon.
Remmele feels himself that his optimism limps on its left leg, and he attempts to bolster it up. “We are not afraid of the fascist gentlemen. They will shoot their bolt quicker than any other government (‘Right you are!’ from the Communists)” And for proof: the fascists want paper-money inflation, and that means ruin for the masses of the nation; consequently, everything will turn out for the best. Thus the verbal inflation of Remmele leads the German workers astray.
Here we have before us a programmatic speech of an official leader of the party; it was issued in immense numbers and was used in the Communist membership drive: appended to the speech is a printed blank for enrollment in the party. And this very programmatic speech is based part and parcel upon capitulation to fascism. “We are not afraid” of Hitler’s assuming power. What is this, if not the formula of cowardice turned inside out “We” don’t consider ourselves capable of keeping Hitler from assuming power; worse yet: we, the bureaucrats, have so degenerated as not to dare think seriously of fighting Hitler. Therefore, “we are not afraid.” What don’t you fear: fighting against Hitler? Oh, no! they are not afraid of ... Hitler’s victory. They are not afraid of refusing to fight. They are not afraid to confess their own cowardice. For shame!
In one of my previous pamphlets I wrote that the Stalinist bureaucracy was baiting a trap for Hitler – in the guise of state power. The Communist journalists, who flit from Münzenberg to Ullstein and from Mosse to Münzenberg, announced immediately that “Trotsky vilifies the Communist Party.” Isn’t it really self-evident that Trotsky, out of his aversion for Communism, out of his hatred for the German proletariat out of his passionate desire to save German capitalism – Yes, Trotsky foists a plan of capitulation upon the Stalinist bureaucracy. But in reality I only gave a brief summary of Remmele’s programmatic speech and of a theoretical article by Thälmann. Where does the vilification come in?
Moreover both Thälmann and Remmele are only holding steadfastly to the Stalinist gospel. Let us recall once again what Stalin propounded in the autumn of 1923 when everything in Germany was – as now – poised on the razor edge of a knife. “Should the Communists (on the given plane)” wrote Stalin to Zinoviev and Bukharin, “strive to seize power without the Social Democracy? Are they sufficiently mature for this? that’s the question as I see it ... Should the power in Germany at this moment fall, so to speak, and should the Communists catch it up, they’ll fall through with a crash. That’s ‘at best.’ If it comes to the worst – they’ll be smashed to pieces and beaten back ... . Of course, the fascists aren’t asleep, but it serves our purposes better to let them be the first to attack: that will solidify the entire working class around the Communists ... In my opinion the Germans should be restrained and not encouraged.”
In his pamphlet, The Mass Strike, Langner writes, “The assertion [Brandler’s] that a battle in October  would have resulted only in a ‘decisive defeat,’ is nothing but an attempt to gloss over opportunistic mistakes and the opportunistic capitulation without a fight.” That is absolutely correct. But who was the instigator of “the capitulation without a fight”? Who was it that “restrained” instead of “encouraging”? In 1931, Stalin only amplified his formula of 1923: let the fascists assume the power, they’ll only be clearing the road for us. Naturally it is much safer to attack Brandler than Stalin: the Langners understand that quite well ...
In point of fact, in the last two months – not without the influence of the outspoken protests from the left – a certain change has occurred: the Communist Party no longer says that Hitler must assume power in order to shoot his bolt quickly; now it lays more stress on the converse side of the question: the battle against fascism cannot be postponed until after Hitler assumes the power; the battle must be waged now by arousing the workers against Brüning’s decrees and by widening and deepening the strife on the economic and political arenas. That is absolutely correct. Everything that the representatives of the Communist Party have to say within this sphere is not to be gainsaid. Here we have no disagreements whatever. Still the most important question remains: how to get down from words to business?
The overwhelming majority of the members of the Communist Party as well as a considerable portion of the officialdom – we haven’t the slightest doubt – sincerely want to fight. But the facts must be faced openly: there’s no fighting being done, there is no sign of fighting in sight. Brüning’s decrees passed by scot-free. The Christmas truce was not broken. The policy of calling sectional and improvised strikes, judging by the accounts of the Communist Party itself, has not achieved any serious successes to date. The workers see this. Shrieking alone will not convince them.
The Communist Party places on the shoulders of the Social Democracy the responsibility for the passivity of the masses. In a historical sense that is indubitable. But we are not historians, we are revolutionary politicians. Our task is not one of conducting historical researches, but of finding the way out.
The SAP, which during the first period of its existence took up formally the question of fighting fascism (especially in articles by Rosenfeld and Seydewitz) made a certain step forward by timing the counterattack coincidently with Hitler’s assumption of power. Its press now demands that the fight to repel fascism be begun immediately by mobilizing the workers against hunger and the police yoke. We admit readily that the change in the policy of the SAP was brought about under the influence of Communist criticism: one of the tasks of Communism precisely consists in pushing centrism. forward by criticizing its dual tendencies. But that alone does not suffice: one must exploit politically the fruits of one’s own criticism by proposing to the SAP to pass from words to action. One must subject the SAP to a public and clear test; not by analyzing isolated quotations – that’s not enough – but by offering to make an agreement towards taking specified practical steps against the foe. Should the SAP lay bare its incompetence, the higher the authority of the Communist Party would rise, the sooner an intermediate party would be liquidated. What’s there to fear?
However, it is not true that the SAP does not seriously want to fight. There are various tendencies within it. For the moment, so long as the matter is reduced to abstract propaganda for a united front, the inner contradictions lie dormant. Once the battle is begun, they will become apparent. The Communist Party alone stands to gain thereby.
But there still remains the most important question as regards the SPD. Should it reject those practical propositions which the SAP accepts, a new situation would arise. The centrists, who would prefer to straddle the fence between the KPD and the SPD in order to complain first about one and then about the other, and to gain in strength at the expense of both (such is the philosophy evolved by Urbahns) – these centrists would find themselves suspended in mid-air, because it would immediately become apparent that the SPD itself is sabotaging the revolutionary struggle. Isn’t that an important gain? The workers within the SAP from then on would definitely lean towards the KPD.
Moreover, the refusal of Wels & Co. to accept the program of joint action, agreed to by the SAP, would not let the Social Democrats go scot-free either. The Vorwärts would be deprived immediately of the chance to complain about the passivity of the KPD. The gravitation of the Social Democratic workers towards the united front would increase immediately; and that would be equivalent to their gravitation towards the KPD. Isn’t that plain enough?
At each one of these stages and turns the KPD would tap new resources. Instead of monotonously repeating the same ready-made formulas before one and the same audience, it would be enabled to set new strata into motion, to teach them through actual experience, to steel them, and to strengthen its hegemony among the working class.
Not for a moment should one even discuss that the KPD must thereby renounce its independent leadership of strikes, demonstrations, and political campaigns. It reserves to itself complete freedom of action. It waits for nobody. But on the basis of its new activities, it puts through an active political maneuver in relation to other workers’ organizations; it breaks down the conservative barriers between the workers; it drives out into the open the contradictions in reformism and in centrism: it hastens the revolutionary crystallization of the proletariat.
1. The article is signed with the modest initials E.H. They should be engraved for posterity. Generations of workers have not labored in vain. Great revolutionary thinkers and fighters did not journey over this earth without leaving their mark. E.H. exists, stays on his job, and points the way to the German proletariat.
Evil tongues would have it that E.H. is closely related to E. Heilmann, who so besmirched himself during the war by the most sordid kind of chauvinism. Impossible! What, such a lucid head ...?
2. Metaphysicians (people who do not reason dialectically) assign to one and the same abstraction two, three, or more designations, often directly contradictory. “Democracy” in general and “fascism” in general, so we are told, are in no way distinguished from one another. But in addition there must also exist in the world, on this account, “the dictatorship of workers and peasants” (for China, India, Spain). Proletarian dictatorship? No! Capitalist dictatorship, perhaps? No! What then? A democratic one! Somewhere in the universe, it appears, there exists a pure classless democracy. Yet according to the eleventh plenum of the ECCI, democracy differs in no wise from fascism. That being so, wherein does “the democratic dictatorship” differ from ... the fascist dictatorship?
Only a person utterly naive will expect to get a serious and honest answer to this fundamental question from the Stalinists. They will let loose a few more choice epithets – and that’s all. And meanwhile the fate of the revolutions in the Orient is tied up with this question.
Last updated on: 25.4.2007