Internet Statement 2008-16


Proletarian Revolution and National Question

The Double Situation at the end of the First World War

by Hartmut Dicke

March 22, 2008   


In 1918 a new situation had emerged. Step by step the German military machinery broke down after four years of war, the constellation of the Central Powers comprising Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey was torn apart politically and militarily. In the west as in the south-east the military situation could not be held and the allies, especially Austria-Hungary, actually pursued a separate peace without any consultation.
The country was in a completely different situation, which had evolved over the last two years and made revolution inevitable. All promises of the past, all lies turned back against the ruling regime now.

Since the summer of 1917 there had already been vehement mass protests of the marine repressed brutally. The victory of Russia's October Revolution boosted these revolutionary trends also nourished by the catastrophic situation of the country and the self-revelation of the boastful Wilhelmian regime. Every day there were more thousands of people following the revolutionary camp. While in the first few months of the war the masses had been told the war was led against encircling and existential threat, it was already in the May of 1915 that the determining associations of employers and landowners came out with the truth and declared an open war of conquest. The government itself kept in the background first because of diplomatic reasons, but the political forces of annexionists were given free way. At this time the masses had already experienced the horror and atrocities of this imperialistic war, the 'fascination' of inexperienced masses based on deliberate deception and acting had vanished. Since then opposition had grown with every year.

In Germany proletarian revolution was on the agenda in November of 1918. The country having the longest and greatest tradition of labour movement had long since been aroused from national mania. The revolutionary and non-reformistic aims and principles of labour movement having matured over the last decades were now to be implemented under completely different circumstances of a country marked by defeat. The Russian Revolution of 1917, in enduring all kinds of hazards, several military interventions and various attempts of undermining the Soviet state politically, acted as a signal to realize a proletarian revolution in Germany as well.

Thus the strong proletarian movement leading to the construction of revolutionary dictatorships of labour class, of Räterepubliken [governments by councils of workers and soldiers] in several parts of Germany, was a result of its own history as well as international context.


People were now confronted with the attempt of the victor nations England, France and the USA to get control of Germany and possibly even to destroy it. On the 8th January, 1918 US president Wilson had given a glossy and deceptive speech promising a fair peace. This was already the reaction to growing revolutionary trends in Germany as in many other countries as well as to the October Revolution in Russia. Suddenly there was a necessity to make peace-offers using nice words. And after a few months there were growing trends among the ruling class in Germany, having pushed the war for three years, to accept these non-committal so-called peace conditions.

Only in the spring of 1918 the German military machinery had forced a dictatorial peace on the Soviet Republic being itself under various threats and committed this novel and young state to high contributions and provided the German army with large territorial advantages. However, the main goal of the German military was to trigger a decisive battle under these conditions in the west, to their own advantage. This went wrong because in the meantime the US joined war as a new fresh and technologically well equipped power. Not only that, the German population was exhausted by this war and the majority was fed up with imperialistic mania.

Yet, the situation being found in the autumn of 1918 was that the victor nations were blatantly working towards a complete dependence of Germany if not its dismantlement. This becomes clear not only in the peace conditions of Versailles signed in May 1919, but is already apparent in the armistice of Compiègne signed on the 11th November 1918. This “armistice” not only arranges the withdrawal of German troops in order to guarantee the adversary, in every imaginable way, a prevention of a possible resume of war by the German side, but – already at this stage – amounts practically to a complete political subordination to the allied powers [1]. It is not just that Germany is actually disarmed under these conditions of Compiègne, but there are some very denotative paragraphs which show that a direct intervention into the German political life itself intended.
Indeed, in this so-called armistice there is already the demand that all civil ships Germany kept worldwide as a trading power and which were picked up on open sea are to be handed over to the allies. Another very remarkable point would be that Germany was not allowed to decide upon their eastern war front any more. It says in the armistice:

“XII. All German troops at present in territories which before the war formed part of Russia must likewise return to within the frontiers of Germany as above defined as soon as the allies shall think the moment suitable having regard to the internal situation of those territories.”

This paragraph accorded with a part of the German leadership hoping for continuation of the Eastern troops in order to keep a basis there. Yet, in this paragraph the Western states reclaimed the right of control over the troops in the eastern occupied territories. [2]
It was those allies who actually made war on Soviet Russia.

Likewise it says:

“XVI. The Allies shall have free access to the territories evacuated by the Germans on their Eastern frontier, either through Danzig or by the Vistula, in order to convey supplies to the populations of those territories or for the purpose of maintaining order.”

The allies including the USA systematically pursued a concept to transform the state landscape in the zone between Russia and Germany for their purpose.

Overall the armistice can be characterised by Germany being committed to all kinds of obligations and on the other hand the allies not getting any respective obligations. Even the western border territories were practically put under military control of the western powers.

Naturally, this concept was not a coincidence and it told a lot about the intentions for the coming. Thus the proletarian revolution was in a situation where it was to overthrow not just its own ruling regime, which was now all the more tired-out and deteriorated as a consequence of war and defeat, but at the same time had to attack the new stepping-in powers introducing dictatorship in Germany. This double nature is the determining factor of the situation at the end of 1918. So from the beginning the national question played a very decisive role and it was not recognized in its total capacity by many revolutionaries. Yet, one has to note that the intentions of the allies and especially the peace treaty of Versailles in its concept of May 1919 were vehemently condemned by the proletarian revolutionaries.
It was also a question of to be or not to be for the proletarian revolution to attack these measures against Germany itself as after the collapse of German bourgeoisie other powers apparently intended to secure their access in order to realize their imperialistic rule.
These powers pursued the aim of constructing Germany as an advanced basis against the new Soviet Russia and also to split and destruct Germany, 'troublemaker' and potential source of danger to the old established powers and capitalism. Because of this fundamental situation the question of the proletarian revolutionaries how to deal with this national suppression became a crucial question of their existence from the very beginning. This is to be analyzed. When there were the Treaties of Paris, among them the one of Versailles for Germany, including demands causing Germany tribute payments for years, tributes to be drawn from the masses, it was finally clear what this 'democratic' war was about.

II. The Background of the First World War

It is known and well analysed that the problem of redistributing colonies and ruling at sea as a crucial way of trade of those times was an essential component to the outbreak of war. Yet, indeed, in all participating great powers the antagonism between labour class and bourgeoisie plays an essential role in the respective countries.

In the large industrial centres there had become manifest the contradiction between social production and appropriation by a few big capitalists. For 50 years the labour class had increased rapidly and gained a greater confidence politically. What had been explained more theoretically in the Communist Manifest as a projection onto the future, had become reality here. Therefore it is natural that the red Social Democrats though splitting into two different poles gained more and more influence. All bourgoisies were obsessed in a way with destroying their own labour class politically, taming it with a bloody war and in standing on the summit of imperialism disposing problems to other countries, that is creating a mad war in order to get control of inner social problems. This applies to France as well as to Germany as it is valid for England and many other states and especially to the USA. Each of these powers tried to stabilize its own inner contradiction by means of a predatory war towards the outside, to freeze in and rule it if you like.
In Germany apart from the bourgeoisie there was the old outmoded ruling class, the long established circles of aristocrats, nobles and great landowners, who were able to maintain their political power in this country for such a long time because of distinctive historical conditions. Here we meet some special conditions of German history.

II.1  German History in European Context

From 1648, the end of the Thirty Years' war, until 1848 the country was completely paralysed as a coherent state. Two great powers – great in European comparison – were forming within Germany, both of which disposed of considerable territories outside the country and were orientated accordingly. The country was internally paralysed and its civil development restrained. Especially in 1815, after the revolutionary wars and collapse of the Napoleonic regime the “Ancien Regime” and German splitting were restored and the greater part of the country was deliberately defined to be a manoeuvring mass for external interventions. The uppermost watchdog of this “order” was the Austrian chancellor Metternich. On behalf of the international reaction as well of the own he suppressed every democratic stirring and warned against the “extremely dangerous” ideas of German unity. Yet, the development of industry and railways aroused the country and let this reactionary claim of power finally collide with reality. Hence, in 1848, it came to a revolution after an impulse from France. Here the new communist movement showed to advantage for the first time. The revolutionary ideas of Marx and Engels based on scientific investigation of history rooted in the preparation of this revolution.
The revolution failed for two reasons. Firstly, the problems were more or less unsolvable as the situation was extremely complicated because of the antagonism of two great powers none of which showed any interest in leading the whole. Only a radical sweeping attack, an expulsion of the totally obsolete potentates of feudal times would have helped. But the majority of Germans was not able to do this, the education to crawling, to negation of every greater future orientated politics had lasted far too long. [3] Secondly, from the very beginning this revolution had to face the pressure of international reaction, which since long had been nipping the revolutionary uprising of the Germans in the bud by all means.

Since then a lot has happened, but one thing has remained, revolutionary efforts in this country not only have to deal with their own reaction and regime and international interventions, but also with the Naturell of people that has emerged over the centuries.

Revolution failed, but change could not be avoided. The striving for German unity could not be stopped any longer, this was clear to everyone. It was a direct threat to the royal houses, this was clear even to the most single-minded among them. And even the highest international watchdog, the Russian Tsar, who had threatened the Germans with war whenever there was the slightest movement towards unity, had to accept this fact. The question was how and under what social circumstances it was to be enforced.

Saving the monarchy was the motive with which the Prussian politician Bismarck adopted the ideas of German unification in the aftermath. One had to adapt oneself to the new tendencies without giving up “monarchy”. Prussia itself undergoing a rapid industrialisation gained the lead with German unity striving. Not too long ago the Prussian royal house had suppressed the revolutionaries and had bombarded even bourgeois liberalism with insults. Now it came to a coexistence, characteristic for Germany, of a rapidly developing bourgeoisie and the rule of Junker and monarchistic aristocratic power. Austria had to be kicked out, it was only this way that such a state Bismarck had in mind could emerge, furthermore this guaranteed the dominance of the protestant element, which still played a role to this kind of reaction below the surface.
After the monarch Friedrich Wilhelm IV had been replaced by his brother because he was completely degenerated and had made himself a laughing-stock for the whole country, Bismarck became Prussian prime minister in 1862 and began with the capturing of Germany by Prussia. In 1863 he binds the Tsar to himself by helping him to suppress the Polish revolt.
The method of “trouble making”, meaning the active incitement of dispute in order to then try to ambush the antagonist, becomes obvious here. Before it comes to unity, the Danish king tries to break 'his' state away from the German Confederation and to annex it for himself. This causes a wave of resistance among the Germans, Prussia and Austria together move against Denmark in a short successful war. Denmark has to return Schleswig-Holstein, but Bismarck uses the opportunity to push the frontier into mainly Danish territory.
The cooperation with Austria in the war against Denmark was an excellent condition for constructing and provoking a new conflict. Now it comes to war between two camps in Germany, Austria and Prussia being at the head. Prussia being considerably smaller can still bet on a quick victory because of its comparatively modern military technics and by exploiting the indecisiveness of the old fashioned emperor regime. Prussian dominance in Germany is realized. The state of Hannover being on the wrong side against Prussia is cashed and thus Prussia is provided with a coherent territory which now represents the biggest part of Northern Germany. Bismarck quickly makes a placatory peace with Austria internally shocked because of war and defeat and now attends to the next target using his “method”.
In France there rules Napoleon III, a military usurpator, who has put the emperor's crown on his head, whose empire is approaching a crisis and who urgently needs external success. He intends to obtain a territorial piece on the left side of the Rhine as a compensation for his "beneficial” role in the previous dispute in Germany. Bismarck knows how to allure and then to fob him, provokes war forging Prussia ahead ultimately. Napoleon III's behaviour, in taking in German territories through extortion like 200 years before, was bound to cause a national wave in Germany. The remaining South German states Baden, Württemberg, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and even Bavaria draw nearer to Prussia. In Versailles, after war had been decided on French soil, it comes to the act of unification conducted by the monarchy. During all his actions Bismarck safeguarded himself with the Tsar, but also with England being closely related to Prussia through the monarchy. The whole approach is conditioned in a way as to prevent any consolidation of other forces in Germany from the beginning and to create a fait accompli for the country. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels have described and commentated on all these proceedings very thoroughly. [4]

As much as Bismarck knew how to exploit the right moment for himself, as much there was a catch in the usurpation of power in Germany. From the very beginning this state fell between all stools in Europe, was dependent on the powers which had supported it, namely Russia and England, and what is more, Elsass-Lothringen had been annexed which was bound to cause a conflict with France long-term . Militarily pondering on how to deal with such a two-front war actually existed by 1871. Not without reason Engels was able to describe the terrible scenario of a disastrous war in continental Europe already in the early 90s, so before the age of imperialism. Not for nothing Bismarck tried to secure this state by skilful diplomacy between 1871 and 1890 as the dangers lurking in the whole construction were clear to him. [5]
Although this state set free great fresh potentials through its unification and industrialisation and not least offered new chances to the labour movement, one should never forget the double character of there having been artificially conserved and even revived an aristocratic power that bore a tendency to riskiness, overestimation of its own capabilities and even self-destruction.

The proletarian party of this country was never to forget the character of this unification, had to realize that the solution of national unification under these premises was a distortion and that the question of democracy and building up normal bourgeois conditions meaning a bourgeois republic was not to be taken from the programme (significance of the “Minimalprogramm”). It is all the more significant that one component of this party flirted with this very state, this very Bismarckiantry and felt the basis of this state to be its own.

This short retrospective of the history of origin of this state was necessary in order to understand several essential elements of later times. In the following era of imperialism all contradictions mentioned emerge in a much bigger world-wide context. The era begins around the year of 1896 in a broader sense, elements of such a society had developed before, now it was ripe. However, we have to deal with the question why contradiction focused on Germany and its few allies. Germany was neither the greatest power, meanwhile the US had become this, nor was it in the least the greatest colonial power, here Germany was of secondary importance, nor was it the greatest territorial power, nor had it the most reactionary structures, Tsarist Russia had these, but it challenged every other political power in Europe by its existence and it bore the strongest political labour movement. Its inner conflict was the most acute, the high degree of industrialisation crossed with a bourgeoisie connected with Junkers and aristocracy, subjectivism and overestimation of themselves signified this new class of “lords”.

II.2   International Background of the First World War      – The Global Aggravation

With the 90s a new type of enterprise developed, the big trusts, dominating the markets mostly in form of a few manageable groupings, raising production to a higher level, also by introducing science in production and necessary accountancy. They are also called “monopoles”, but you have to consider that this is correct just in a few cases of the “national” market. On worldwide scale competition breaks out even more strongly. We get the most comprehensive presentation of the imperialistic age through Lenin's analyses of imperialism [6] not accidentally becoming one of his most central theoretical tasks during the First World War. In addition to the economic changes inside the capitalistic countries, the fact that the main parts of the world are distributed is above all a determining factor. However, colonisation has not yet finished in the largest state of the world, China. Here a struggle unfolds between a still prevailing ancient state power and the new different powers pursuing annexations, all trying to obtain a significant part.

England is already an old-established colonial power in China with concessions at the coast and the large rivers several hundred years old. Japan starts on a plan to tear away pieces of land as big as possible, thereby encountering the Russian Tsar coming from the north. US imperialism tries to appear as defender of China's integrity and aims at becoming ruler of all China in a long-term strategy. German imperialism “disturbingly” bursts into this situation in 1897 and in an act of violence gains a colony at the southern coast of the peninsula Shandong (Kiaochow) It causes Russia and France to do the same and secure coast positions as well. Yet, this rivalry stimulates increased resistance in China where now revolutionary forces form increasingly. All imperialists (seem to) unite for a suppression of an uprising in the year of 1900, German imperialism again tries to show off vociferously. In fact, rivalry among all imperialists increases dramatically and that not only among European imperialists, but also between the USA and the European great powers and Japan.

These processes constitute a crucial prelude to the First World War. People quite often consider the rivalry between England and Germany, especially in the Middle East, the struggle about the territory around the Suez Canal and the Persian Golf. In fact, the intensified world wide rivalry having its point of junction in Asia was a starting point to world wide intensification finally letting contradictions explode in Europe. The conflict about China also produces the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 effecting the first Russian revolution in 1905. In the year of 1911 the old Chinese dynasty breaks down ultimately because its rule is not possible in the modern age any more and the various imperialists leave each other high and dry thus making revolution possible for the Chinese inner revolutionary opposition. China was half a colony, but not completely colonialised like India, from now on it was to become itself an actor in international development. It was considered as the biggest and most promising territory of profit and exploitation by all imperialist states. With the revolution of 1911 the international situation had to aggravate dramatically. Now struggling for predominance in the rest of the world became even more urgent.

II.3   The World Conflict – Falling between different stools

At the end of the 19th century the German-English conflict in the world wide colonial and trade policy develops more and more strongly, changing from a short era of courting each other into a phase of quarrel and threat of war in the first years of the twentieth century. In the year 1904 outbreak of a great colonial war was already feared. These aggravations have always gone along with another conflict behind it, the conflict of various European states with the USA.
In the year of 1898 it came to the first new imperialistic war when the USA being the new world power draws away the most important colonies, especially Cuba and the Philippines, from the long outmoded colonial power Spain. In doing so the USA appears as liberator from the old, still almost feudal yoke of the Spanish only in order to then carry on a suppression all the more brutal exceeding by far everything the Spanish had committed.

This war is dealt with in common historical descriptions. Yet, it is much less known that in the context of this war it came to the so-called Manila conflict. German imperialism came along and claimed a part of the prize after the war of conquest and genocide by the USA on the Philippines, but could not compete militarily with the US. Finally, the USA put off the urging German imperialism with a few less significant groups of islands in the Pacific at an international conference. [7] These new colonies situated on the other side of world were to exceed all German potentials. They gave further impetus to the demands for an even madder upgrade of armada and thus becoming an even greater competitor to England. When the First World War broke out, these colonies in the Pacific were soon taken over by the other powers. It exceeded all their potentials, that is what the German “world power” strategists failed to notice.

The German government was already facing complete isolation by the year 1900. They had believed to have free choice among the powers for alliances, but in the end they were left to be outsider. There were further attempts at winning several other powers in order to get rid of isolation, but ultimately without success.

From the end of the Spanish-American war until around the year of 1902 there were attempts to achieve a new alliance with England, namely considering the new developing background. The best known attempt of this kind would be the suggestion of the British foreign minister Joseph Chamberlain of November 1899. Germany should enter an alliance of the USA and Great Britain. [8] The German government did not attend to it. Indeed, it was a very dangerous suggestion as Germany would have become a European “Festlandsdegen” [continent's dagger] of this emerging coalition by such a treaty. Isolation of Germany was already looming at this time. This was determined objectively on the one hand because rushing ahead it challenged the established and fresh arising powers like the USA and undermined their imperialistic policy, on the other hand isolation was strongly promoted by the provocative vociferous “policy of the firm hand” of the Hohenzollern leadership and its chancellors and militaries.
The whole era from 1898 to 1914 is characterised by a great number of conflicts concerning foreign affairs often leading to the verge of war in Europe, but in most cases it is about colonial conflicts in the first instance, where several imperialistic powers frankly quarrel about mineral resources and raw materials and especially in China struggle for conquest of the inner market. It is about Morocco, Angola, about all southern Africa, the Middle-East, the Turkish territories, about the Pacific and Latin America. However, the differences also come back to Europe itself. The imperialistic war of rivalry approaches Europe directly through the Balcans and the Mediterranean.

By 1902 the knot begins to tighten finally. In 1904, after Great Britain and France had been in a dangerous conflict because of colonial issues in Africa just a few years before, it comes to the “entente cordiale” between England and France directed against Germany. Since the old federation of France and Russia having existed for decades and been explicitly directed against Germany continues to exist, all this comes close to a complete stranglehold. Already at this point people talk about the acute risk of an immediate continental great war, yet Russian revolution intervenes in 1905. It put the overthrow of the Tsar and the development of proletarian revolution on the agenda. The Wilhelminian regime tried to back the Tsar and briefly attempted to win the totally deadbeat Tsar for Germany. Yet, there are quite different laws in force than dynastic relationships. Russia's dependence on French capital is a matter of priority, she is not to be diverted as the illusionists of Wilhelminian diplomacy might have thought. The Tsar retrieves some of its power, but he is tightly bound to his alliance with France and England.

Finally, the German part is left to respond to this situation with the military trump card only, they rely on the strongest army of the continent and the naval armament, though considering the development so far it was already clear that this could never be a successful concept. It is not the same situation as in the 80s or at beginning of the 90s when Germany defended itself against the French-Russian alliance and was even supported by the major representatives of the international labour movement because this was characterised by defending against a reactionary confederation of revenge.
Since the middle of the 90s it was a power that subjectivisticly wooed “predominance” with the other imperialists and for which the conflict with England (and the USA behind it) played an increasingly greater role.

An essential consequence of this era, its purpose if you like, was the awaking of more and more peoples out of their stagnating conditions like in China or in the directly colonial countries and converting them into actives of world history themselves. And German imperialism is very much available for suppression of uprising nations, likes to be the paladin of all imperialism. In few cases it acts to be a representative of independence of single nations, as in the case of the Boers or Morocco, whilst joining the foremost front of colonial slaughter at another occasion, as in the case of China and in the suppression of Latin America and African colonies. Isolation was determined objectively on the one hand, politics based on the then situation was not easy, the position “between the stools” was, as described, also a consequence of the very construction of this state from 1871. The other aspect was the reactionary character of the inner regime making it impossible to get out of the situation.

Finally, in 1907 the knot around Germany closes ultimately as England and Russia agree on a compromise in the Persian question. Thus isolation is nearly complete, even Austria-Hungary is courted diplomatically by the other countries and is easily extorted because of its inner conflicts. But there is no war yet despite ongoing conflicts. It is well known what devastating armed potentials have accumulated to both sides and what risk a war would stake to all participating powers. Everyone is shrinking back from this for the time being.

Labour movement does try to respond to these challenges. However, on the three great conferences at Stuttgart in 1907, Kopenhagen 1910 and Basel 1912 war might be “condemned” and if need be threatened with mass strikes, quite limited though, yet no serious, concrete steps are taken in order to spike the imperialists’ arms. In several parties of the IInd International the first social chauvinists are asking leave to speak. In Germany the Social Democracy hesitates to raise the democratic question against the unbearable emperorship and the feudal relics, in fear of illegalisation and already because of conformity as well.

Yet, it was these extremely reactionary, literally backwards orientated conditions in Germany that would have had to be attacked to destroy the crazy policy of Wilhelmianism and its closely connected enterprises (Krupp, Siemens, Diskontobank and others). The roots of this failure are to be found, amongst others, in the background of Social Democracy, in Lasalleanism, entailing failure and unwillingness to win the broad non-proletarian strata. All those questions like the one about a war of the labour class itself against an ulta-reactionary regime to be overcome, having been understood by Marxism much earlier, are dispelled here, not playing any role to Social Democracy in this situation.[9]

Wars are not made in a way, so reaction announces its intention to make war now and then labour movement is able to prepare for it. For nearly all wars, and also at that time, provocations and certain assassinations, which are to heat up the situation, play a role. In 1907 and the following years nobody knew that the successor to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, would be murdered to initiate war, but something of this kind was about to happen. This is also true nowadays.

II.4   The Constellation in Europe

Let us summarize and describe things in their entirety:

With the age of worldwide colonialism and imperialism Germany having the described traditional structures still became a power acting world-wide, yet exceeding its own forces. (The word “Weltmacht” [world power] should be avoided, although potentates of that time liked to crown themselves with it.) The colonial empire was small even in relation to some other smaller classical colonial states in Europe, and in addition to this it was scattered around the globe. Considering economic development, it happened pretty fast for European standards. Yet, the USA had developed much faster than Germany since the 90s. Likewise, Japan emerged as a new ruling power in the Pacific. Its development was at least comparable to Wilhelmian Germany.
This new European power made itself unpopular with everyone, especially the leading class with its importunate behaviour. Showing presumption and totally desultory demeanour seeking alliance now in this direction, then in that direction, it could only isolate the country even more. Whilst Friedrich Engels had supported Germany against encircling and attempts at revenge until the beginning 90s, other tasks came up as “great power policy” of this reactionary class progressed. It is to be investigated to what extent Social Democracy started necessary attacks against this regime and its external “policy” and exploited its weaknesses.

At the beginning of the age of imperialism, around the years 1896 to 1898, the internal situation aggravated more than ever. Now Social Democracy was challenged all the more, but revisionism and occasionally unconcealed chauvinism spread among them. The weaknesses in this party of the preceding era now merged with general reaction and drive for conquests from the part of the new German imperialism. In the era of 1900 to 1914 the war situation appeared as it was actually to explode in Europe then, and it is still to be investigated why labour movement, the IInd International, did not really take measures and not only released a few manifestations in order to prevent the case of war. The appearance of great power policy by the new upstart and its encircling by the other great powers and in addition the activity of the USA competing with everyone could not have escaped the socialists' notice.

II.5   International Situation   – The Calculation of the Various Powers

Since the end of the 90s it had already become clear that there was one greatest imperialistic power surpassing all others and growing into a true world power. This was the United States of America. Already at this point the analysts of the German leadership must have seen these new forces of the USA as well. Yet, when their pompous speeches still concentrated on England and challenged it and talked about the US merely in a subliminal way, there must have been a reason.

Against their better knowledge German political and military leadership acted according to the belief that war would be confined to Europe, though, naturally, a participation of the USA, and that on the opposite side, was to be expected. The calculation of the USA had been known for long. It was based on waiting for who would be the stronger in order to step in accordingly. In any case they would not allow Germany to take on a dominant role in Europe because Europe itself was their target territory for expansionist spreading. That is why the calculation of the German leadership was built on sand from the very beginning. And this could not be obscured by some individual successes at the beginning of the war. Yet, an alternative calculation cannot be expected from people whose ultimate goal is to decimate and discipline their own people.

Concerning the other side, their political and moral position is by far no whit better. Not at all it is only about taking away the few colonies in the possession of Germany only, but in fact this unfolding war increasingly got the smell of revenge, an approach heading for destruction of Germany. They spoke of a “Störenfried” [disturber] of development restricting their empire. Some of them would have liked it best to get Germany back into the largely fragmented state like before 1866. Yet, they could not go that far. Anyway, in this war the objective of France, England and Russia was cutting to shape Germany completely and submission to the old dominating forces. It was not just about redistribution of colonies, this would be an absolutely appeasing analysis.

As Lenin mentioned already in 1917, there were plans of the Russian tsarist camp not only to participate in the division of Turkey, Persia and China, but also to conquer Eastern Prussia and divide Austria-Hungary. The allies and Russia had their treaties for this. When the new provisional government took power after the February of 1917 and the tsar had been overthrown, these treaties were not even published. [10] The Germans, however, concentrated on European conquests like the annexation of Belgium in contrast to original promises, like annexing French coal territories as well as impudent claims like intending to rule over the whole East as the notorious “Alldeutsche Verband” [“All-German Association”] [11] had proclaimed before.

The war objective was not just heading for encashment of colonies of contrahents, but also robbery and destruction of their very own territories. The whole First World War cannot be analysed without looking at the entire international context. The primary dispute could be seen in Europe, but there was definitely a background of further world power plans. The one having Europe in hands, was able to draw on better strings in the imperial dispute. This applies to both sides. The Germans will definitely have thought in dominating Europe they would be able to compete with the USA. On the other hand, it was clear to the USA, in getting hold of Europe the foundation for international comprehensive hegemony was set, though they had not reckoned with the long enduring and successful socialist revolution.

In any case, the calculation of the USA and the relevant capital amounted to gaining maximum profit out of this war, reducing loss of the USA to a minimum and winning by letting the European nations lacerate themselves and stirring them up against each other. The international landscape of banks was already tightly connected back then. The best known and most famous greatest bank house of the USA, the bank house Morgan, had already secured itself enormous profits in the US as a consequence of the war between Germany and France in 1870/71 and had since become the greatest financial power. This banking company had a basis not only in New York and London, but was also connected with German bank houses, e.g. the Deutsche Bank.
This aspect of the economical development could not have escaped the analysts of that time. Especially the overtaking of US imperialism and especially of US financial capital was obvious in the 15 to 20 years before the First World War.
It was the intense social contradictions in the European states, the concentration on internal issues as well as a certain narrowness of viewing things chacterising continental Europeans, namely the Germans, which obviously made them overlook such factors of international policy.

In spite of this starting situation mentioned the German leadership made a policy of provocation getting this country increasingly between all stools. Despite the described factors this First World War was started ultimately because of hostility towards the labour class and modern development. In the lap of this state powerful productive forces, production on the organised and highest level as well as considerable scientific potentials had grown. It was because this very modernity had developed in connection with a highly organised labour class that there was an additional motive for the long outmoded class of junkers and totally obsolete monarchism to enforce a war.

II.6   The Role of Social Democracy

The most important analysis for comprehending the nature of imperialism so far has been Lenin's analysis “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” as well as several smaller descriptions related with it. This is still the case, but it should not keep us from including the later experiences of the 20th century in our analysis of today, for instance understanding the role of the USA, understanding the constellation at the beginning of the 20th century in a better way than it was understood then.

It is well known that the majority of the German Social Democrats did support this war at the beginning breaking with all principles and manifestos discussed so far and thus cleared the way for it. Instead of attacking the imperialist intentions and brazen political maneuvers of the German leadership and thus at least preventing the imperialist war from this side, they supported this war. This fact is not detracted from by Germany having been isolated and somehow militarily encircled. Social Democracy would have had many opportunities to take account of these circumstances. The Wilhelmian leadership themselves had encouraged this isolation with their policy and thus had provoked the situation believing that they could decide the battle by continental military superiority alone. Even decades before the outbreak of war people knew that in the war to be expected military potentials would collide to an unknown extent with the according force of destruction. Germany could at most achieve a hegemonial role in Europe, but not in international, i.e. world-wide comparison. Being realistic, this war could not end but with destruction and self-destruction.

Social Democracy having grown into the strongest and politically most influential workers' party in the world, was tested in this war where the various principal mistakes became practically and immediately apparent. On the one hand we find the trend of frank chauvinism, of the connection with the groups of Junkers, aristocrats and great industrialists of the ruling classes. Its policy became decisive to the majority of Social Democrats ultimately in the first years of the First World War. On the other hand we had the left Social Democracy, which distinguishes itself by differentiation from or, more positively, by fighting against dangerous chauvinism, yet at the same time carries a lot of mistakes concerning the question of armed struggle and the essential questions of Social Democracy.

When analysing the faults and the failure of Social Democracy, it is crucial to point out the opposition of “left” Social Democrats to Marxism and the essential positions of labour movement. In the year of 1875 Marx and Engels had pointed very clearly at the wrong interspersion of the party with Lassalleanistic positions and attacked them.[12] In 1891, after the anti-socialist laws had been finished, eight years after Marx’s death, Friedrich Engels published Marx’s and his own criticism despite opposition from the Social Democratic leadership. This criticism not only faced opposition from the right-wing Social Democrats, but also from personalities regarded as left-wing. Among the major opponents of publishing this criticism was not just Eduard Bernstein, the later most direct representative of revisionism, but also Wilhelm Liebknecht. [13] This criticism again summarized the fundamental political and economical statements of the teachings of Marxism. [14] It comprised the elaboration of the theory on state and deduced an overthrow of bourgeois dictatorship through revolution. It included the unequivocal condemnation of Lassalleanistic theory, which instead of seeking an alliance with the democratic bourgeois movement, furthered an alliance with the outmoded classes and considered socialism a support of the state of the Junkers.

We can see how the faults of Social Democracy later led to the failure of Social Democracy at the outbreak of the First World War. There was not enough effort to review these faults. Karl Liebknecht, this most famous representative of the fight against militarism before the First World War, in continuing the mistakes of Social Democracy takes up a position of a general fight against war or against militarism, which was criticised by Lenin during the First World War and, rediscovering the lessons of Marx and Engels, discussed anew and more concisely by Lenin. [15] Rosa Luxemburg produces many interesting and relevant analyses about the development of that time, but probably the most important political question, the question of revolutionary war being inevitable, is omitted. Marx’s and Engels' longstanding criticism of Social Democracy and its concept of the state, having already been treated back in 1891, where was it considered in Social Democracy including the left-wing at all? It was that part of Social Democracy emerging as frank social chauvinists in the following that was all the more based on this “state socialism” as it had spread among the social democratic movement.
Social Chauvinism profited from this weakness of social pacifism among labour movement. Indeed, no one can plausibly make propaganda against imperialist war – and there were enough efforts among the parties of the 2nd International world-wide during the time of 1900 to 1914 – if he does not realize that in case of doubt illegality and development of armed revolution against these high-level armed bourgeois-imperialistic states is not to be recoiled from. Demonstrations or mass strike movements can never stop an imperialistic war. There remains the question to what extent Social Democracy undertook political work before the oncoming war e.g. within the German armies and especially among their conscripts.

Thus labour movement was a powerful factor, but it had its weaknesses growing into a deathly danger to the revolutionary forces among people in the aggravation of the First World War. The western allies, the USA, England and France, disparaged German labour movement and claimed it was not capable of revolution, that its brutal support of German imperialism was to be expected only. That was slander already proving wrong during the First World War because in the second half of this war era resistance grew more and more drastically up to spontaneous uprising against the ruling power. Those having sneered at German labour movement before were now confronted with a serious revolutionary movement they tried to prevent by all means. However, acceptance by these so-called powers of democracy in the West was not the consequence at all, but increased efforts to get control of this labour movement. In absolute contrast to their contemptuous remarks towards German labour class they made great efforts to influence this revolutionary movement from inside and outside by ending the war.

II.7   Social Democracy and Woodrow Wilson

In the second half of the First World War, when the antagonisms towards the working class become apparent, we can see that the majoritarian Social Democracy, and even more the “Independents” connected with them for a long time, increasingly turn to the USA, celebrating her president, Woodrow Wilson as supposed peace maker and working into his hands. Whereas the majoritarian Social Democracy had backed the imperial war at the beginning and even propagated it actively, more and more essential parts of this same party turned to support the USA from about 1917 on.

How great the extent of this connection with German political forces was, is rarely covered in public. Nevertheless, by the end of 1918 political instructors from the USA took part in suppressing the revolutionary approaches and seeds of a military revolutionary opposition in a direct and bloody way. The new ruling powers, who took grasp on Germany with the armistice of Compiègne, gave advice to the Ebert government as well as to the “Freikorps” having been especially founded for the suppression of labour movement. They took charge of instructing these forces despite the risk of stimulating a new militarism with it. Suppression of proletarian revolution in Germany had priority over everything else, no matter what abstract phrases about democracy and “human rights” these “democratic” imperialist powers were uttering publicly.

This can be understood best when looking at quotations of that time. Suppression by the armed so-called “Freikorps” is one thing. The public, and especially the majority of labour class, also has to be brought to tolerate this new factual rule by relevant propaganda. That is another reason why the political position of Social Democracy having built up influence on labour class over decades is very important. Wilson, Wilson, Wilson was the credo of this “labour party”.

There are some very relevant descriptions about this. On the conference of the IIIrd International on the 2nd of March,1919, the then chairman, G. Sinowjew, reproduced what he had just learnt from the Bern conference of social democratic parties in Bern:

“The circumstances of the opening sessions alone were remarkable. The conference was opened by Branting and his first words commemorate the emergence of the International and its president, Jaurès, in whose honour everyone stands up. Then, the report says, Branting suggests to honour a second man, a living person, Wilson. As you can see, comrades, the chairman's first few words were very siginificant: To our left side we have our deceased Jaurès, on the right the still living Wilson! ...No comments.”     [in “'Der 1. Kongress der kommunistischen Internationale - Protokoll der Verhandlungen in Moskau vom 2. bis zum 19. März 1919”, p. 156, own translation]

Jean Jaurès was a well known French socialist leader who had an internationalistic attitude overall. In immediate context with the initiation of the First World War, he was murdered on the 31st of July, 1914, by the French reaction as he was in the way of their war intentions.

II.8   Kautsky and the USA

An excellent example about the extent of the accordance with the USA would be an article by Karl Kautsky of 17th November, 1918, published in the newspaper “Die Freiheit” (“The Freedom”) being an organ of the USPD [= Independent Social Democratic Party]. In this article Kautsky turns into a direct lackey of the USA and British imperialism with the title “Der Sieger im Weltkrieg” [“The winner in world war”]. Glorification of the “victor nation” knows no more bounds now. Now the world is to be restored by Anglo-Saxon nature.

It says in this article:

“Respect for democracy has become second nature with Anglo-Saxons, meaning the respect for the legislative power of the majority, respect for freedom of action and propaganda of the minority. The respect for the democratically formed law, disrespect and open opposition against any presumptuous power. Substitution of bureaucracy by self-administration to the greatest possible extent, subordination of bureaucracy to the people's representatives. Based on these foundations has formed the character of the peoples who have now been the winners in world war.
This democratic nature will conquer the world, not just the states defeated today, but also those of the victor's own territories he has not governed by democratic methods so far, but by police force like Ireland, India and Egypt.
And with this nature socialism will grow also among us, not by transferring police methods into the proletarian milieu, not by terrorism and decretinism.”  [own translation]

How macabre this is, can only be understood when considering the concrete conditions of those times. The USA worked on suppressing revolution in Germany also using violence. England was preparing its armed intervention in Russia. Everywhere police force of these states was used in order to prosecute labour movement around the globe.
At the beginning of the war the same Kautsky had wanted to prohibit any criticism of the pro-war course by Social Democracy within the party.

II.9   The USA and the Exploitation of the European Situation

It was not just the country's own reactionaries who hated the labour movement within it. Leading exponents of US capital considered the German competitors as a “disturbing factor” as someone had already expressed it in the nineties. At the same time they were aware of Germany's situation becoming a chain-link for their own long-term strategy to gain pre-dominance in Europe. Necessarily, from their point of view, there was not just military and imperial competition with England and Germany, but also a situation dominated by rivalry between the European powers themselves. The position of a power like Germany, representing the greatest industrial potentials within Europe and at the same threatened to fall between all stools on the continent, was important to their own strategy. Apart from the USA Wilhelmian Germany showed the greatest increase in industrial potentials, yet ultimately posing no serious threat to the USA growing even faster. Another competitor to the US was England though losing industrial importance, but still competing in world power ambitions through her colonial possessions weighing one fourth of the world. That is why the vociferous and importunate performance of Wilhelm and his government was not that disadvantageous to them.
If it came to a continental war in Europe, a possibility talked about over decades, then there was the question of how to use this to their own advantage. The antipathy towards Germany having existed among American imperialist circles since the 90s, concerned not competition only, but even more the existence of the strongest labour movement in the world of those times, which generally guided by Marxist principles was working on a realisation of socialism on a modern basis. It was the latter anxiety and antipathy that they shared with the very German imperialists. This is the very double nature dominating their policy towards Germany.

This danger to international capitalism was to be eliminated by this war as viewed by the different originators. On this basis it can be seen how significant it was that in this very country there developed, by 1916, an increasing anti-militaristic and revolutionary movement directed against the majoritarian Social Democracy, tracing the steps of earlier revolutionary Marxism, though not being free of mistakes. In contrast to Russia where the masses of peasants constituted the greatest part of the population, here we have a movement of the industrial proletariat already forming the majority in the whole country. Destroying this movement got to the centre of the allies' policy to such a degree as Germany's military situation became hopeless.
This is increasingly reflected by the policy of the autumn of 1918 and all 1919.

The Western “democratic powers”, especially the USA, as the end of imperial rule came, quickly mingled with the suppression of Germany's labour and soldier movement. The so-called Freikorps, Noske's people, operated also in connection to US agents, who instructed them in their criminal acts. While doing that, this power always appeared under a peace mask or waving the human rights' flag, speaking of general democracy and so on. Here the foundations were set for the coming so-called “international community”. They interfered into the inner life of this new German republic (Weimar republic) in order to achieve substantial influence and agitation of parts of the population for their purpose – you could say in a sense: class-struggle in a complety distorted form for the allies' purpose. Such a concept is not new, by the way. Back in the 19th century, Marx and Engels had already pointed out that Russia knew very well to run class-struggle in her own way over decades. During the division of Poland she played class-struggle against the landowners, the Polish upper-class, in order to then join them in suppressing the Polish people. This is a very old trick being used by all imperialists, yet is exploited most successfully by the greatest imperialist powers with their relevant possibilities.

With the presentation of the Versailles peace treaty of May 1919 all these aims came to light ultimately. Germany is practically subdued completely, the internal life of Germany is intervened into. Later there was often the comparison of Germany forcing Russia to accept the robbery peace of Brest-Litowsk first, and now Germany experiencing the same kind of terror by the allies. However, this is an understatement. Brest-Litowsk was a robbery peace in no doubt, submitting Russia to high contributions and constricting Russia at the western frontier. But the heart of Russian soviet power remained independent. The soviet power had to swallow heavy conditions, but it remained intact as a sovereign state and thus was able to operate for the things to come. The “peace” of Versailles goes far beyond that. It is connected with an attempt to penetrate the inner of the German state, to make it submissive in the long term and to play the various interior political forces off against each other.
The foothold the USA had in their suppression of labour movement, when standing behind Noske and Co., was a good starting point for all other operations. Germany was submitted to contributions that high, it was to pay debts for many decades. Many bourgeois parties as well as parties of the proletariat, as we have seen, virtually became their lackeys. This was to produce loss of orientation and desparation, which were excellent tools to be directed against the same people again. (This is a method repeated in other countries later. A good example would be Iran to the end of the seventies of the 20th century.) An economical dictatorship was created against Germany, which was to ruin everything else subsequently. Some of the economical dictates targeted the western states themselves, being the originators. The later economical crisis of 1929 partly goes back to the submission of Germany in economical matters.

II.10   The Policy of the Proletarian Party under the International Conditions

Thus the situation of the proletarian party of Germany was bound to be very complicated, and thus we come back to our initial point. What political position was the proletarian party supposed to take towards this submission under these conditions? The Versailles treaty was attacked by the KPD [= Communist Party of Germany] undoubtedly, that was a matter of course. However, how were they to deal with the complicated double-nature of the bourgeoisie, its own self-contradictious situation? The conditions of the Versailles treaty and generally the new dictatorship were bound to produce numerous kinds of opposition upon different levels, by several classes against this kind of policy. So the national question had to be shaped in Germany from the very beginning. Here we have another crucial weak point co-dominating German labour movement. That is the question of alliance policy with certain bourgeois forces, a question that came up depending on the situation.
We have already found earlier that Lasalleanism [16] played a significant role in the development of labour movement despite opposition by Marx and Engels. This direction flirted with an alliance with the long outmoded classes, with aristocrats, with so-called special negotiations with Bismarck and the Prussian royal house, but rejected a broader mobilisation of peasantry and generally opposed the very program of democracy, which is to be bound to the policy of labour movement as a matter of principle. The later policy of Social Democracy was still stained by these traditions and continued these.
With the age of imperialism new components are added to labour movement. These new conditions enabled the advanced capital in the decades before the first world war ,much more than before, to link considerable parts of labour class to this modernised capitalism by letting them partake in the extra profits much more than before, to connect strata of the labour class with the interests of international exploitation temporarily. The old mistakes of labour movement now merged with these new forms of corruption. In Germany the rejection of a democratic program (as minimal program of revolution) goes on taking effect under these conditions. The rejection of Marx’s and Engels' state theory, based on the experiences of nearly all the 19th century, with its aim of defeating bourgeois rule ultimately in the military sector, leaning upon the predominant majority, received further nourishment. [17]

Here there were negative traditions which were to hinder the pursuit of a correct policy in the complicated situation of the year 1918/19.
We see the heroic performance of the labour class during the war, in great demonstrations and strike movements by 1916, workers and not least female workers play an active role in bringing down the imperialist Wilhelmian war. The slogan is “Against the war!”. The hope consists in triggering simultaneous revolution in other countries by revolution in the own country. Yet, if this not achieved immediately and synchronically, one can expect that superior imperialists seize this country in order to then go ahead with joint suppression of revolution in it. This role, namely that of the increasingly important USA, was to be understood. There is a fundamental weakness of the German party to cope with the international political situation. Yet, it is to be expected elementarily, the more successful the own revolution will be, the greater this intervention from outside will be, as long revolution is not successful in other countries, too. Thus the democratic questions in connection with the proletarian questions of those years were crucial.

What errands in this matter there were, also becomes obvious through the fact that until the autumn of 1918, the Spartacus people were of the opinion, obviously over-estimating the strength of German imperialism, that it could win the war, although it was already up to its head in it by this time and apart from a few incorrigible military subjectivists no one believed in such a victory any more.

The complicated situation was to be dealt with by carrying to extremes the reckoning with the depraved classes of landowners and nobles, the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie allying with them, as well as with the petty bourgeoisie to the extent it supported imperialism, and at the same by preparing for the attack of intervening foreign imperialists. In the case of such an intervention of foreign imperialists, there are other tasks, other contradictions, their changes have to be arranged for. At this moment the issue of the own defence would also be on the agenda. This would have been the only principally correct approach.

(written from February 2007 until November 2007)

[translation from the German original]   

[1]   The agreement of Compiègne is not an armistice agreement objectively, but actually a complete surrender as after fulfilling the terms a continuation of war was not even possible in an absolutely defensive sense.

[2]  One gets the impression generally that in the forefront of this agreement discussions about this “armistice” had already taken place, e.g. through embassies of neutral states or bank connections between banks positioned in Germany and the USA. The German chief negotiator Erzberger (Zentrum party) should have reacted very surprisedly about such conditions normally. Yet, his reaction was quite limited. Also, his telegraphic queries to the German military leadership were answered with “acceptance” surprisingly fast. Considering the consequences of this agreement, this is amazing. Everything suggests the conditions had at least roughly been traced out in the preceding weeks. Erzberger briefly tried to play with “risk” of revolution in Germany in order to threaten the western allies with it, but this availed nothing at all. The negotiator of the French side, Marshall Foch, was well informed about it. The joint repression of proletarian revolution in Germany was a made deal to these forces. And in this matter the German bourgeoisie and government were ready for the ultimate, naturally calculating they would recover free play with time. Yet, the double suppression of this country was officially looming in this agreement and became the dominating momentum for a long time.

[3]  Marx and Engels dealt with these processes very thoroughly, almost their whole life. Among other articles: “Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany” in Marx’s and Engels' works (German ed.) MEW volume 8.

[4]  Referring to Marx’s and Engels' works, MEW, volumes 16 and 17.

[5]  See also “Die Rolle der Gewalt in der Geschichte” (“The Role of Force in History”), a greater fragment of Friedrich Engels, also distributed under the title „Gewalt und Ökonomie bei der Herstellung des deutschen Reiches“. In MEW, volume 21, pp. 405.

[6]  In the first place the book “Der Imperialismus als höchstes Stadium des Kapitalismus” (“Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”) should be mentioned, e.g. found in Lenin Werke (German edition) , LW, volume 22, pp. 191, written in 1916, first publishing in mid-1917.

[7]  “It turned out very quickly that Spain paralysing in feudal traditions and internally rotten could not match the superior force of the USA in any way. Immediately the German imperialists were sensing the possibility to exploit the Spanish defeat. ‘His majesty the emperor considers it a main task of German policy not to leave unused any possibility to obtain maritime bases in East Asia as a consequence of the Spanish-American conflict’, Bülow telegraphed to the German ambassador, v. Holleben, in Washington on the 1st July, 1898. In order to emphasize the striving of German navy and colonial circles for obtaining a part, as large as possible, of the Spanish colonial possessions in the Pacific and the Far East, a navy squadron was sent to Manila. This military advance to the Philippines, which had already been occupied by the USA and which they claimed for themselves in any case, carried the risk of a warlike conflict with the US, a conflict Germany could not dare to risk seriously, of course, with its few navy forces. Thus the German government finally had to yield to the determined position of the USA, had to give up their intentions of new colonial acquisitions on the Philippines and had to content themselves with much less valuable parts of Spanish possessions. In a treaty with Germany of 12th February,1899, Spain was forced to leave the Caroline, Palau and Marianian islands to Germany for a financial compensation of 17 million marks.”

Fritz Klein: “Deutschland 1897/98-1917“, VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1969, p.71.

This analysis of that era, despite a few schematisms typical for DDR science in the field of history, is the most interesting I have found with my survey of studies.

[8]  E.g. compare the above-mentioned account by Fritz Klein, '”Deutschland 1897/98-1917”, where this is described in the following way:

“On the 14th November 1899, the German-English Samoa treaty was signed and supplemented by a German-English-American agreement on the 2nd December. The treaties lifted the tridominate on Samoa. The isles were shared by Germany and the USA, while England sacrificed a part for some compensation.
At the same time influential representatives of English imperialism again attempted to win the German government for a German-English approach. At the end of November Wilhelm II visited England accompanied by Bülow, among others. At this occasion Joseph Chamberlain approached the emporer and Bülow suggesting a German-English alliance which he wanted to include the USA now as well and which was to target Russia this time. Germany was to support English policy in Asia and Africa. In turn English capitalists would contribute to the construction of the Baghdad railway financially; furthermore England would agree on Germany participating in the division of Morocco.
Like in the year of 1898 the English attempts of approach were rejected by the German representatives.”

[9]  In this context the paper “Staat und Revolution” by W.I. Lenin (1917) should be remembered where this connection to the element of Marxist state theory is re-established. Lenin deals with it after the fight against opportunistic trends in the European Social Democracy and the experiences of the First World War. However, it is to be investigated to what extent the weakness appeared much earlier. Because the belief in the possibility of acting against such a volcano as the situation of Europe with demonstrations and manifestos is nonsense. This also applies to left Social Democracy.

[10]  See Lenin Werke (German ed.), volume 24, p.43

[11]  ”Alldeutscher” Verband [“All-German” association] 1891-1939. Ultra-right organisation of extremely provocative character, being there for inciting most reactionary intentions in the own country as well as, not least, upon the international level. This organisation had just a small membership and never gained the importance for forming a party at all.
The occasion of its creation is already remarkable At the beginning of the 90s, the new government Caprivi tried to adopt a new course and to develop a better relationship with England as well as to loosen its relative binding to Russia. In this context it came to quite an extensive agreement with England, including the so-called Sansibar-Helgoland agreement as a part. England and Germany exchanged the island of Helgoland, being in British possession, for the island of Sansibar at the East African coast. And this very exchange would become the stumbling-block to these extreme reactionaries. Why did the exchange of an island, having a definite reference to Germany and considerable sea-strategic significance to the country itself, for a colonial island enrage the so-called “Alldeutsche”[“All-Germans”]? Ultimately expressing the policy of bourgeoisie.
The reason for this exaggerated campaign the '”All-Germans” aroused against this, is that they were extremely colonialisticly oriented and they were preparing to push Germany into an internationally isolated role and to spread into the inner an absolute single-mindedness of isolation and separation from all other states. That is why the “All-German association” had to face criticism by the most various forces, the bourgeois parties as well, and remained a sect basically, yet which served for reactionary polarisation everywhere and general demonstration of how nasty Germany was overall. The association itself did not strive for a foundation of a party at all, for this it would have been obliged to present a program and a political concept. In this way they were able to keep their intentions in the dark. The emergence of this provocateur organisation has not been comprehended fully yet in my opinion. What were its connections? The fact that its representatives were preaching isolation does not mean they had no international connections. Among the iniatators of the association were the ill-reputed Alfred Hugenberg, the later head of a rightist press group of the Weimar Republic, the ill-famed coal industrialist Kirdorf and the colonial executioner Carl Peters. An expression of the bourgeoisie as a whole.

[12]  See MEW vol.19, „Zur Kritik des Gothaer Programms“ and related texts

[13] Wilhelm Liebknecht, 1826 – 1900. One of the important mediators of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in Germany and significant organizer of the party. At the same time he seeks, though in a different way to Lassalle and his successors, the connection to the antiquated aristocratic elites of the country. Occasionally, Marx and Engels reproach him with “Austrianism”, connection to the small and middle sovereigns in the country standing in opposition to the Prussian power appetite in Germany.
His political thinking is quite dominated by idealist and fanciful feelings, there is no footing in the historical materialistic perception like the founders of Marxism had. Consequently, Wilhelm Liebknecht and his followers are an antipode to Lassalleanism in some way. At the compromise to Gotha, however, it came to unification of the “Eisenachers”, the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDAP), and the Lassalleanists with considerable subordination to the latter. At this “unification” Wilhelm Liebknecht also played an important role. Suddenly, old oppositions were not so important any more, people of pro-Prussianism and “Austrianism” obviously postponed their earlier contradictions.
There is hardly anything else that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels criticised as much as the Prussians over decades. As descendants of the old Prussian Rhein province, which considered itself as occupied any way and was so, they had many reservations by nature. However, they understood the new development showing several reactionary specialities, yet also entailing a modern revolutionary upheavel. In Prussia capitalism shot up like in a hothouse, as Engels noticed. The modern coal and steel industry flourished on a very cartel like basis.
Bismarck never cared about the so-called principle of legitimacy of outmoded sovereigns, he himself having chosen to herald the conservation of monarchism against modernity ultimately destroyed this monarchy and aristocracy as he gave a boost to the inner forces that destroyed it. And Marx and Engels, in view of this development, did not even think of now defending the side of the long outmoded small and middle sovereigns or making themselves advocates of them. They rejected Wilhelm Liebknecht clearly in this matter. Here you can refer to the correspondence of Marx and Engels and the later work “Die Rolle der Gewalt in der Geschichte”, a greater fragment of Friedrich Engels, also published as “Gewalt und Ökonomie bei der Herstellung des deutschen Reiches”. See MEW, vol. 21, pp.405, und the relevant footnote 368.

[14]  The term 'Marxism' was established later on.

[15]  Compare Lenin ”Das Militärprogramm der proletarischen Revolution”, (“The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution“ LW vol. 23, p.72-83, or “Über die Losung der Entwaffnung” (“The 'Disarmament’ Slogan”), ibidem, p. 91-101, both written in the autumn of 1916.

[16]  Lassalleanism – direction named after Ferdinand Lassalle, 1825 – 1864, originally a participant of the revolution after 1848. At the beginning of the 60s he took part in the creation of the first greater workers' organisations (ADAV, Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein: General German Workers Association) and became its first president. In politics he stood out by the distinct tendency to connect labour movement with the outmoded ruling classes of earlier feudalism, especially Bismarck as a representative of Prussian monarchy. His successors continued this kind of policy of functionalising labour movement as an actual political standing leg for a somewhat democratically renovated “people's monarchy”. Lassalleanism was definitely not criticised sufficiently in later Social Democracy, neither by the early communist movement including the Russian Bolshewiks.

[17]  It was not without reason that Engels, in 1895, still had to struggle with maneuvers around the republishment of Karl Marx’s book about the class struggles in France 1848-1850 when the leaders of Social Democracy were trying to make a pacifist out of him, this traditional protagonist of revolution.
Here see Engel's introduction of 1895 in MEW vol. 22, pp. 509, as well as the relevant footnote 433.