From The Militant, Vol. V No. 4 (Whole No. 100), 23 January 1932, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Behind the social volcano of present day Germany, there is unfolding a political scene that has many elements of a farce in it. And that is not at all strange. Times of revolution, days pregnant with human convulsions, always show up the ruling classes and political personalities as a whole in all possible and impossible shapes, like a refraction mirror. So it was in the Russia of 1916–1917 with the buffoonery of the Rasputinade and the equally risible counter-play of the liberal bourgeoisie. So in Spain since last April, with the solemn comedy of the “Workers Republic” and the trials of the “responsibles”. In the current uncertain political situation, before the masses have had the opportunity to have their say, we are witnessing a similar scene in the Reich.
Hitler is defending the Weimar Constitution, the barge of glory of the “criminals of November 1918”! Answering the appeal of the Weimar Centrist Bruening to agree to an avoidance of popular elections by extending the term of President Von Hindenburg by Reichstag decree, the new defender of Weimar and constitutionalism just bubbles over with indignation:
“The Weimar Constitution,” he says, “is the legal basis of the German Republic. Article I states that Germany is a republic deriving all power from the people (sic). Article XLI states that the President shall be chosen by the entire electorate.
“To substitute the Reichstag’s verdict for the people’s voice would be a manifest contradiction to the Constitution ... Our self-respect alone, Herr Chancellor, obliges us to decline your proposition to agree to the prolongation of President Von Hindenburg’s term of office by a two-thirds majority of the Reichstag.”
Thus spoke Hitler, whose legions are already lying in ambush, ready to throttle the working class – that same “people”. No further bargains with the vacillating parties of the “democratic” bourgeoisie. Tenseness marks the moment. The high praetorians of the German master must put up a front of resoluteness, of intransigence. They know what that soon they will have to strike. And they are not underestimating their enemy.
The Austrian adventurer also knows, that in that battle the aid of the foreign powers would be indispensable to him. And that accounts for the other face of the farce: Hitler reassuring the international capitalist that private debts will be paid, while the “greatest German diplomat since Bismarck”, namely the clericalist Chancellor bluntly declares that reparations will not be paid.
The leader of German Fascism is no fool. He realizes very well that a fulfillment of his “traditional” policy would mean isolation for a government of the “Third Reich”. And isolation is just precisely what he fears most, no matter how much the clownish Feders prate about – autarchy. To crush the German proletariat tomorrow, Hitler will not hesitate for one moment, to embrace his “arch-enemy” of today.
And, to be sure, that is just the direction the foreign policy of the Nazis is taking. In the same document addressed to Bruening, the National Socialist chieftain, in taunting his bourgeois opponent, remarks:
“Only when Germany can offer something, will she be given something.”
What Hitler wants to offer the world bourgeoisie, is no secret. He wants to offer it, a defeated and spineless proletariat, a Germany that will take the lead in the inevitable imperialist offensive against the U.S.S.R. That is the devil’s bargain that Fascism is ready to conclude. And that is the basis on which the French, the British and the American robber governments will agree to meet it half way.
A huge slaughter is being prepared for the working class of Germany, for the workers of Soviet Russia. Doubtlessly, the understanding of this immediate danger is growing among the masses of the affected countries. The will to fight is rising. But misfortune of misfortunes: the leadership is not at its post. It is acting the role of the slacker. At a time in which the ground is cut beneath the feet of reformism by the events themselves, the revolutionary leaders, the official Communist party finds itself unable and impotent, fails to rally the resolute and determined masses of proletarian fighters for the unpostponable struggle against the armed and arming class enemy. The Thaelmanns and the Remmeles and all of their sorry ilk dabble in sterile theories, attempt to theorize themselves out of their hard pressed position. The Stalinist incompetents offer nothing, absolutely nothing, to bring the workers into motion. They are much too occupied in covering up their own tracks ...
Unfortunately, the shakiness, the spinelessness of the official leadership is also sowing apathy and helplessness into the ranks of the Communist workers. In a series of articles in the New York Evening Post, H.R. Knickerbocker, one of the more reliable and more independent of the bourgeois newspapermen, writes from Berlin:
“I asked a German Communist: What will you do when Hitler comes in?
‘We will try, he answered, to get the social democrats to declare with us a general strike and run Hitler out the way the general strike ran out Kapp in 1919.’
‘But,’ I objected, ‘Kapp took the government by force and the social democrats were clear in their minds that as democrats, they had to defend the democracy. The social democratic government in 1919 itself declared the general strike. Will the social democratic leaders go with the Communists now to declare a general strike if Hitler comes to power legally?’
‘Not much hope’, he admitted.
‘You have 6,000,000 Communist voters. It only took 50,000 Bolsheviks to make the Russian revolution. I know the conditions are entirely different. But why can’t your 6,000,000 oppose Hitler by force?’
‘We haven’t got the guns’, was the sententious reply. ‘The Soviet Union is not ready for a German revolution. We think if Hitler comes in he will run the country down so fast that by next autumn we can take power.’
‘But Hitler will then have all the guns.‘
‘Yes, Hitler will have the guns’ ...”
It is not amiss to bring the above quotation in its full length. For it is a revelation of the real state of mind the criminals of the Stalinist faction with the national-limitedness of their perspective have managed to produce among their rank and file. The bourgeois reporter too, does not fail to see the situation clearly and the questions he asks are certainly appropriate. The workers of Germany are being deserted in their struggle by the usurpers of leadership in the German Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Thaelmann and Company are capitulating under the pretext that the social democracy influence in the working class must first be wiped out. In the meantime, the Nazis are laughing up their sleeves. Weakness, indecision, cowardliness on part of their enemy is just what suits them most. They are preparing to seize all the guns.
Knickerbocker tells us in the same article that he asked a National Socialist:
“What will you do when you get power?”
“He might have launched a long discussion of the party program”, he says, “but his only reply was: ‘Keep it’.”
The Fascists are not theorizing now. They are preparing for action. And action, decisive and determined, is the only thing that will save the working class. Elsewhere in the present issue of the Militant we are publishing a document of our German sister section. In it, the German Left Opposition (Bolshevik-Leninists) propose a concrete, brief and clear program of action to the Communist Party of Germany. It is worth while studying, Every member of the American party, every conscientious Communist ought to read it carefully and draw his conclusions. Time flies, it is necessary to act. The duty of every revolutionist is clear. Let their voices be heard everywhere. The present course of the Stalinist leadership must be stopped if the working class of the world is to avoid disaster.
Last updated: 26.4.2013