Article from Revolutionary Perspectives #16 (Series 3), the journal of the Communist Workers’ Organisation.
As there has been a gap in this series of articles on the German Left, we will take the opportunity to go over the content of some of the previous articles:
Breaking from German Social Democracy in the First World War (in RP8): This article traces the further development of the split between the reformists, centrists and revolutionaries in the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) which had opened up over the years since the formation of that Party. On the outbreak of the First World War, the reformist wing (in general) turned its back on its earlier fine words about opposing war between capitalist powers. As the war ground on, the proletariat's pressing necessity for the revolutionary wing to constitute a politically independent class party became ever clearer, both internationally and in Germany itself. But, even the Bolshevik revolution failed to push the leading German revolutionaries into founding such a class party (the centrist Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (USPD), was not this party, despite its name - Unabhängig = independent).
The German November Revolution - A Class Unready (in RP9): This article looks at November Revolution of 1918, sparked by the refusal of sailors in Kiel to fight a final battle when Germany's war was already lost. This ended the war and opened up a revolutionary situation (and not a revolution - the lack of a revolutionary party being one of the decisive differences between the two). The German bourgeoisie sacrificed their monarchy and used the SPD and the USPD to break the point off the revolutionary movement of the working class. When this failed, the bourgeoisie used the most barbaric force against its enemies. The working class was hampered by the earlier failure of its leaders to create a party politically independent of the bourgeoisie. This party, the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Spartakusbund) (KPD(S)), was eventually founded at the end of 1918 and was immediately put into a situation where its lack of deep roots in the class led to disaster - the so-called Spartakus revolt. In the aftermath of this isolated uprising, which was launched against the advice and votes of the KPD(S), who argued on the grounds of an all-too correct evaluation of the revolt's chances of success, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were murdered along with thousands of workers.
At the founding of the KPD(S), the leadership had been to the right of the membership, and this divergence was accentuated by the conditions of illegality after the uprising, and by pressure from Radek. This lead to the formation of a left opposition tendency in the KPD(S), which was expelled at the October 1919 Heidelberg Congress, and was then known as the KPD(Opposition).
The Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (KAPD) (in RP10): This article deals with the first part of second Congress of the KAPD, later referred to as the real founding Congress of the Party. This was held in the immediate aftermath of the Kapp putsch, an attempt by the German right to take power. Although the putsch was defeated, the forces behind the attempt were not destroyed by the victorious government, but rather unleashed against the working class. Against this background, the Congress had to deal with the bourgeois National Bolshevik minority in its own ranks. Its failure to expel the proponents of this reactionary tendency (instead, they invited the leaders to leave!), exposed the weakness of the majority's conception of a class party.
The Rest of the Congress Agenda
In the present article, we will look at the remainder of the KAPD's second Congress1 . This dealt with the Party's position on its own programme, its relations with the Third International and the relationship between the Party and the Betriebsorganisationen (factory organisations - BO's). An extra presentation on the political situation was also given.
The Party Programme
Karl Schröder was the main speaker on this topic. Initially, he refused to speak before the Congress agreed to Berlin's motion that:
The name of the KAPD indicates that the Party stands on the terrain of the conquest of political power and that the Party comprises the best elements.
However, this attempt to ensure that the context of his speech was not one in which talking at all was pointless ran into the opposition of some of the remaining Hamburg National Bolshevists (who insisted the revolution is no Party affair), and began to seem rather pointless itself. This was the first fruit of the refusal to formally expel the National Bolshevist tendency.
In the end, Schröder continued with his presentation.
His initial point was that the draft programme of the first KAPD Congress had been prematurely presented as the final programme, but for a good reason: the need to demonstrate to the Third International that the KAPD existed on a political basis, not just because they had been thrown out of the KPD(S).
The presentation continued by giving Schröder's view of the Party as a creation of the bourgeois epoch. Formally, this position is identical with the Hamburg view, but Schröder showed that he grasped this undoubted truth in a dialectical fashion. It is true that parties will disappear with capitalism, but the disappearance of capitalism is a process, in which the revolution itself is just the most important stage. Even after the revolution, it will still be necessary for the vanguard of the proletariat to lead the way towards a new form of social organisation. To do this, the vanguard must organise itself to take care of "the tasks of the moment" (as Schröder puts it), it must be a Party. From this, however, it seems clear that Schröder, at least, had the same position on this question as does the IBRP, provided that "the tasks of the moment" was intended to include military and organisational tasks, and not just educational/propaganda tasks.
Schröder then says that the "council idea" is at the heart of the programme. However, his conception appears to be very idealist, in that he says that the "council idea is the absolute and complete negation of capitalist society and of capitalist ideology". The problem is that an idea cannot, by itself, negate a society. It is necessary for the idea to result in a practice which can deliver what the old society cannot, at least in the long term. The communist practice is production for need - instead of things being produced to satisfy the bourgeoisie's thirst for profit, the producers themselves will evaluate social needs and direct production to satisfy those needs.
To carry out the transition from a post-revolutionary society to a communist society, workers' councils, or something like them, are indispensable, so that workers gain the confidence and experience necessary to act as the subject of history and not just as one factor acted on by the economy. This is not to say for one moment that councils cannot be counter-revolutionary, but only that without revolutionary councils a revolution cannot reach its goal. Many reactionary workers' councils have appeared in the course of history, including in Germany. These councils saw their rôle as introducing bourgeois democracy, prior to their own dissolution, rather than destroying the bourgeois state and constituting themselves a proletarian one.
Although the possibility that steps (such as tactical retreats), necessary for the final goal, could be made without councils cannot be ruled out, the existence of revolutionary councils is a pre-condition for the final success of the revolution.
The problem with attributing magical properties to the council idea is that it leaves open the door to councilism, which dispenses with the Party.
Schröder then rejects the nationalist (and racist) approach of the Laufenberg and Wolffheim tendency; the key to the situation of the German proletariat is not an alliance with the bourgeoisie, but a German revolution against the German bourgeoisie, which would free the Russians from the need to obey the necessities imposed on them by their situation.
It is true, Schröder maintained, that the Russians are interfering in an unjustified manner in the affairs of the German Parties, but the International should not be rejected for this reason. This would be an overreaction to things which can be refused individually. Those that complain that the "old" leadership methods should be abandoned are formally correct, but they often only camouflage their own desire to be small princes in their own domains by an absolute rejection of the concept of leadership. What is needed is the replacement of the conception of the masses as an unthinking cadaver by the idea of the masses as the class-conscious proletariat united by socialism. This has as a consequence a new conception of leadership: a leadership which brings fire to the masses, enlivening their consciousness, rather than dancing on their backs; a leadership whose actions will be transparent to the masses.
However, by its nature, this agenda item covers too many points to be further treated here, and some of these points are anyway dealt with elsewhere. We wish to move onto the next point, and will only observe that the Congress passed the task of amending the draft to a subcommittee composed of members of the Berlin KAPD.
The KAPD Position vis-à-vis the Third International
The main speaker on this point was Franz Jung of Berlin.
He first stated that the International was founded primarily because of the pressing need of the Russian comrades for such a body, and this, even the Russians themselves now admitted. And the present Congress of the Third International was a result of the Russians requiring the adhesion of the proletariat for the same reasons behind the original foundation of the International. Many of the parties present in Moscow had been founded by travelling representatives of the International, and many of them had very limited memberships.
Moreover, amongst the various German Parties, the movement towards the Third International had more to do with the degeneration of the Second International than with the perceived merits of the Third.
Nevertheless, according to Jung, there were actually two Third Internationals: the International shaped by Karl Radek (the Russian CP's leading representative in the Third International, a pioneer of the "theft" of National Bolshevism from the Hamburg tendency), which was a dependency of the Soviet Republic, and the International which was ripening within Radek's one, which was the real proletarian International which has the task of determining the tactical guidelines conforming with the overall goal, the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship. The contradiction between the two would be resolved by the conflict between the Parties coming from the same countries (e.g., that between the KAPD and KPD(S)).
Jung continued by describing the difficulties caused by the "Radek" International for the "real" International. Nevertheless, he concluded that there really was no alternative to remaining in the Third International: forming a block of organisations opposed to the International would mean working with people who had no idea what proletarian organisation was, and this was especially so as even the IWW was working with the International. Jung then put forward the bizarre idea that the KAPD should have merely declared that it stood on the same ground as the Third International when this was founded, rather than actually asking to join it (thus sacrificing any possibility of influencing Communists in other countries, for the sake of not having to defend KAPD "autonomy").
But now the KAPD was in the International, it was necessary to use the forthcoming Congress of the International to report on the German situation as it really was, and so prove to the Russian comrades that the politics of the KPD(S) were false.
Jung remarked that the other parties were making progress in the development of their consciousness, and gave the example of the Norwegian party. The main point, however, was that Germany was the site of the next stage of the world revolution. Russia had some weaknesses, the major one being that the proletariat there was insufficient to support the revolutionary apparatus. For this reason, Jung remarked, the Russian revolution had been "a typical putsch[!]", and the Red Army was held together by propaganda alone.
Here Jung was approaching the councilist position that the Russian October had not been a proletarian revolution at all, but merely a bourgeois coup d'état.
In his conclusion, Jung reiterated that the most important task of the International was now to give the German revolution, as the next stage in the World revolution, its full support.
At this point, Jan Appel forcefully demanded to speak, provoked by Jung's proto-councilist views on Russia. Jung of Berlin had, Appel said, departed from the truth in his exposition of how things stood in Russia. Appel's demand was acceded to, and Appel rejected the idea that the Russian revolution was a putsch. Rather, it was the culmination of a process which had already been underway in 1905. The Bolsheviks had given expression to the will of the working class, and the result of the revolution was that the working class had seized power and still maintained that power.
However, in Russia, there was, out of necessity, an energetic domination of the movement by its leadership. As a consequence of this, Appel maintained, the Russians wished to spread similar organisational forms to the whole of the world communist movement. But the tactical confrontation between the KAPD and the KPD(S) was about the contradiction between leadership and a mass movement. The proletariat, according to Appel, had no need of leaders, and political clarity demanded that the KAPD remained with the worldwide movement against leaders.
When the debate was thrown open to the floor, delegate D of Kiel put forward the idea that a proletarian International with an Executive Committee with powers over national tactics was premature, as even the bourgeois had not centralised itself internationally. The International had been in existence from the first moment that workers from different countries had acted together, but its General Staff emerges from below, not from above. The Russian conception of leading the masses might be correct for Russia, but it was not right internationally. If the KAPD's entrance into the International was denied, this did not matter, as the KAPD was part of the International and this would approach the KAPD eventually. What the KAPD should have done was to propose the expulsion of the KPD(S), on the basis of its loyalty to the German bourgeoisie.
Schröder spoke next. Firstly, he paid his respect to the achievements of the Russian proletariat, and then pointed out that the delegation to the Third International had been instructed to call for the expulsion of the KPD(S). Schröder then put his position on the International. For him, the International consists of the co-operation of all proletarian organisations, whether parties or not, with the aim of completely destroying the capitalist system and establishing a classless society. Such an International must be imbued with the idea of increasing proletarian activity and this can only be done if the International satisfies certain preconditions. The first is that the International stands on the terrain of unconditional class struggle. This means that the interests of the proletariat are put before everything else, both on an international and national level.
The second condition was that the International is for the dictatorship of the proletariat. This means that the proletariat desires a total domination over economics and politics in order to annihilate the class enemy.
Thirdly, the International must recognise the council idea, that the councils are the process which leads the proletariat to the classless society by developing proletarian consciousness.
Schröder then turned to the question of how things were with the present International, and how the International of the future should be. The present International was dominated by the Russians as they had made the revolution and were at the point of the international class struggle. In the future, the International would be based on the councils. The phase that the KAPD found itself in was a transitional one between the present International and the future one. In this transitional phase, the organisations in each country had to decide their own tactics on the basis of the tenets of socialism, and, if the Russians attacked this, the KAPD would nevertheless have to keep its eye on the tasks of the day. Schröder finished by emphasising that the aim of the International was not a free federation of nations, but of a humanity united in a classless society.
At the end of the debate, there were several motions to be put to the vote. The motions that were neither successful nor were contained in the successful ones, were: one put forward by Frankfurt am Main, which demanded that the International judge the KAPD by its revolutionary activity alone, that the International itself should be defined by its activity and not its resolutions and stated that the International was not just in Moscow and Petersburg, but everywhere where the class struggle presented itself in a sharpened form, with the goal of defeating world capital; and one presented by Hamburg, which sought to reduce the International to a post-box and to reduce its aims to a free federation of nations. This resolution also accused the International of trying to make Germany a border state of Russia.
The motion on this question which was finally adopted was:
The regular Congress of the KAPD recognises the Communist International as the union of the revolutionary workers of all countries who are fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The KAPD will struggle according to the basic principles of the Communist International, in so far as these rest on the recognition of class struggle, the proletarian dictatorship and the council idea.
Its tactical position will be determined by the evaluation of the revolutionary situation in Germany.
For this reason, it fundamentally rejects the interference of the executive bodies of the Communist International in the internal affairs of the Party.
The KAPD strives for the union of all the revolutionary proletarians of Germany in common action. It is eager to create, on the basis of its principles, and by going over the heads of leadership cliques, a community of action with the fighting proletariat which will grow in the struggle itself.
The KAPD will turn to its brother Parties adhering to the Communist International with an address. At the same time, it will report on the revolutionary situation in Germany and lay down guidelines for the organisational basis of the Communist International, which correspond to the present significance of the revolutionary struggles for the extension of the World revolution.
(proposed by M.-Leipzig, Th.-Occupied Zone and Schröder)
This was supplemented by a resolution on the Rühle affair.
The Congress rejects with indignation the demand by the Executive Committee [of the Communist International] that the KAPD should expel comrade Rühle from the organisation. It declares its solidarity with Otto Rühle and denies the EC any right of interference in the internal organisation of the KAPD. The Congress sees in this interference the outrageous propaganda activity of the Spartakusbund.
(proposed by Pf.-Gotha)
When this resolution was adopted, the North and North-West areas abstained, saying that comrades Laufenberg and Wolffheim were not mentioned in it, although they had been named by the International's EC alongside Rühle. M.-Leipzig clarified the position of the majority: the EC's concerns about Laufenberg and Wolffheim were justified, but those over Rühle were not.
During the debate, it was felt that an appeal to the proletariat was needed. A group of comrades produced this by the end of the Congress. Its text is produced as an appendix to this article.
Unions and Unionen
In German, "trades' union" has the translation Gewerkschaft (plural: Gewerkschaften). Confusingly (at least for English speakers!), the German Left (anarcho-syndicalists as well as communists) chose to baptise an alternative movement to the Gewerkschaften as Unionen (singular: Union). Here, we will use the German words to denote the two concepts: Gewerkschaft, and the alternative, Union. The Unionen attempted to unite the factory organisations, the BO's.
The BO movement had its roots in the collaboration of the Gewerkschaften with the war effort. When the revolution broke out, the proletariat perceived the need for an alternative to the Gewerkschaften.
The Congress started by listening to a presentation by Kuschewski of Berlin, who represented the Allgemeine Arbeiter-Union (General Workers' Union).
In this presentation Kuschewski described how the Union movement consisted of two strands: the AAU, which united the most advanced proletarians on the terrain of the proletarian dictatorship; and the syndicalist Freie Unionen (FU), whose dominant fraction rejected political action, often rejected the use of violence, and wanted each BO to be fully autonomous. Kuschewski wanted the KAPD to reject the FU and to instruct its members to join the AAU, in order to fully win the AAU workers to communism and to give the KAPD a weapon in the struggle. The question of the dissolution of the KAPD into the AAU to form a unitary organisation was, for Kuschewski, something which would eventually happen, but not now, and not under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
After this presentation, a discussion was held. H.-Leipzig complained that Kuschewski's presentation may have correctly described the AAU, but it greatly exaggerated the differences between the AAU and the FU. He said that many FU members were not syndicalists and that his district worked closely with the FU.
Sp.-Rhineland, on the contrary, complained that the FU was hampering the work of his district. It was necessary, in his opinion, to draw a line of separation between the KAPD and the syndicalists. On the other hand, the idea of communist work in the Union was an impossibility, as the leadership often lay in the hands of the USPD.
Pf.-Gotha complained that Sp.-Rhineland had misunderstood. It was not a question of the members of the BO's joining the Party, but vice-versa. The KAPD did not want to take over the BO's as an end in itself, but to use them as a means to organise propaganda for the forward march of the revolution. The aim was to united proletarians in the revolutionary BO's and so it was the task of the KAPD to propagate revolutionary communist ideas inside the BO's.
Pf.-Gotha also pointed out that many syndicalist workers were in advance of those of the SPD and USPD and that it was important to point out to them that they stood on false ground.
H.-Dresden acknowledged that the BO's were now the backbone of the Party. In Dresden, the experience of the Rhinelanders had not materialised and the Dresdeners were evolving the correct tactics in the struggle of the Union with the Gewerkschaften. There could be no compromise with the FU, but, at the same time, it should be made possible for the FU to be absorbed by the AAU. It was also important to refute the allegations that the KAPD and Rühle were anarchists and syndicalists.
Th.-Occupied Zone said that the KAPD ex-members who had caught the syndicalist sickness were lost to the movement as they rejected violence. On the other hand, those syndicalists who had been drawn into action with the KAPD had left the basis of their own platform, without realising it. They should be told this, but a blurring of the dividing lines between the KAPD and syndicalism should be decisively rejected.
H.-Hamburg showed the councilist side of the Hamburg tendency. He rejected any special propaganda work in the BO's, as they were already on the ground of the council idea (which is not enough!).
During this discussion, the following resolution had been proposed by Ihlau (Berlin):
The Congress expects the Party members to leave the Gewerkschaften. The Congress places itself without reservation on the ground of the Betriebsorganisation, united in the Allgemeine Arbeiter-Union.
This resolution was adopted with the proviso that it be further discussed by the districts. Spandau-Osthavelland and Pomerania declared that they could not support the resolution as many of their members were syndicalists(!) or members of the FU.
Clearly, the KAPD was very far from being homogeneous on the question of the Unionen, both with regard to the facts of the case and, more importantly, the theoretical framework for those facts. A theoretical framework allows revolutionaries to come to conclusions even where the local situations are, in fact, varied. For us, organisations linked to particular struggles can be in the interests of the proletariat, but permanent mass organisations must always be recuperated by capitalism, even if they have roots in struggle organisations. All proletarian experience subsequent to the post World War I revolutionary wave has shown this. The only way a struggle organisation can survive as a proletarian organisation is if it loses its character as an organisation grouping workers of all political tendencies to become an organisation based on proletarian politics. In that case, it must develop a positive relationship to the Party.
It may be the case that the BO's, or some of them, constituted such organisations, but it is also necessary that the Party's attitude to them be based on these principles. At best, only certain currents of the KAPD conformed to this concept of relations with extra-Party organisations, while other currents were semi-syndicalist or syndicalist, or semi-councilist.
Before listening to the final presentation, on the political situation, the Congress dealt with organisational and other matters. The business report contains some interesting material with regard to the strength of the Party. The speaker (R.-Berlin) claimed that, despite the KPD(S) have access to many more practised speakers and much more money, the KAPD had taken about 75% of the membership of the old Party, leaving the KPD(S) strong in only Chemnitz and Stuttgart. A regional breakdown of the situation of the KAPD revealed that the strongest area of the Party was Berlin. In the Rhineland and in Central Germany, despite the repression, the Party organisation had been rebuilt and was again vigorous. In Saxony-Anhalt the Party organisation was in the process of healing after some individuals had been excluded, but in Silesia the Party had no members at all. In Southern Germany, some sections of the old KPD had joined the new Party, and Feuerbach, in particular, had been growing, but these had left as a result of the Laufenberg-Wolffheim tendency.
In the North-Western region only Wilhelmshaven was healthy. Bremen was close to collapse, partially as a result of trying to hold meetings addressed by Laufenberg and Wolffheim. These meetings had dissolved in uproar, and the Party had lost roughly 1500 Marks.
Hamburg had always claimed to have 5000 to 8000 members, but only 2000 really existed. Of these 2000, only 400 or 500 actually attended meetings. The workers had deserted the Party because of the theories of Laufenberg and Wolffheim and precisely the same thing would happen elsewhere if these theories were adopted.
The Political Situation
This too is translated as an appendix. This article will be concluded in a later issue, when the evaluation of the political situation will be judged against the events.
Appendix I: Appeal to the Proletariat of Germany
Workers! Class comrades! The lance of the raging and united attacks by World capital and its accomplices against Soviet Russia has been broken by the annihilating defeat of Poland and by the victorious advance of the Red Army towards India and to the Black Sea. The next effect of World capital's will to destroy is the systematic organisation of White Terror. In Hungary and Poland, in America and India, the beast of this White Terror is pausing. In Germany, the will to destroy has found its expression in the disarmament law. This disarmament law means the legal establishment of White Terror, on the orders of Entente capital with the agreement of the German bourgeoisie, in order to be able to club the revolutionary proletariat to the ground. Only the revolutionary proletariat and not the bourgeoisie will feel the barbs of the exceptional law.
Don't be fooled by those who want you to believe that the disarmament of the reaction must be preceded by the disarmament of the proletariat, because the disarmament of the revolution [should be reaction!] can only be the work of the revolution. Therefore the slogan must be: Workers, don't deliver yourselves to reaction without a fight!
World capital is readying itself for the decisive battle between capital and labour, it is making the preparations for the complete annihilation of revolutionary thought and will. Over everything there stands as a flaming warning for the proletariat the words of the Communist Manifesto: Either communism or barbarism!
The eyes of our Russia brothers, of the proletarians of all countries, are upon us, the proletariat of Germany. Germany is the strongest bulwark of world reaction and is therefore the key to world revolution. Let us be aware of our world historical task!
The Treaty of Versailles, Spa, the disarmament law and the rest are only the preparations for the most decisive blow against the proletariat. Recognising this means to understand the present tasks of the proletariat. Tighter and more oppressively capital is pulling the noose around the neck of the proletariat. Let us tear it apart, before it strangles us!
Not protest rallies and resolutions, but deeds are the order of the day! Away with compromises and tactics in negotiations! Away with theoretical hairsplitting. There can be no agreement. The slogan is struggle. Away with the fetters of wage slavery.
We must shake off our inactivity. We want the arrogance born of power of a small clique of owners no more! The complete annihilation of the bourgeois/capitalist economic and social mode of existence is and must be the aim of our struggle. Only on the ruins of the old world can the new coming world of communism come into being.
The hour of decision nears. Prevent the annihilating blows of World capital! Form a block with the pioneers of the World revolution. Fight shoulder to shoulder with your class comrades, not for the interests of a party, but for communism, which does not correspond to the wishes of a party, but to the interests of the World proletariat. For the dictatorship of the proletariat! For the Communist International! For the council system! Against servitude and tyranny! Forwards to the liberation of humanity! At stake is the future of the working class. To Action! Long live the World Revolution!
Appendix II: The Political Situation (Alexander Schwab, Berlin)
The appeal which you have just approved already describes the political situation. The political situation is presently best characterised by clearly realising that the bourgeoisie is split into two contesting fractions. And this is so not only in Germany, but also in the camp of the Entente. The first is the fraction to which the militarists and heavy industrialist belong, which arms the reaction and stands for the maintenance of the residents' militia, taking its mood from the Hungarian events. In England, this is the weaker fraction which wants to give Poland military aid. The leading power among the bourgeoisie which is battle-ready is the French bourgeoisie, and precisely because it sees itself threatened by an economic and financial collapse, because it has no more time to wait upon the peaceful methods of the English fraction. The other fraction is that which in England is represented by Lloyd George and in Germany by the Democratic Party. It is the direction which believes it can once again deal with the problem of the day, the World Revolution, through negotiations. This fraction, which still has time for such negotiations and ways of behaving, is therefore led by the English bourgeoisie, which is much less threatened by the collapse of the Western European economy. You could almost believe that our German Centre Parties are serious in the neutral application of the disarmament law, that they really would like to disarm both sides and participate in the English affair in Russia. But it must be clear that this fraction cannot win in the long run, and precisely because they have nothing to fight with. The material means of fighting are in the hands of the extreme right, whereas the mass action tool of struggle lies in the hands of the working class. This fraction of negotiators must be worn away in the struggle between the real powers. Support for the reactionary fraction is, in the main, localised in Hungary, Bavaria and East Prussia. Starting from Bavaria and Hungary they will try to create a reactionary block to crush Austria. The situation there is exactly the opposite to ours, where in the course of time a revolutionary block will be created which will crush the third reactionary outpost, the Polish nobility and the Polish bourgeoisie. One of the key areas is necessarily Upper Silesia; for only on its basis will the economic power be found which is necessary for the conduct of every war. On the other hand, as far as the Western coal fields are concerned, it must be assumed that they will fall into the hands of the reaction. The midday edition of today's paper carries a credible report according to which the Polish preparations for "aid for Poland" have been undertaken and a mass of railworkers has been assembled at the border, as they are naturally assuming that in Germany the railworkers will resist the transport of French troops through Germany. They want to break this resistance by using their own workers. For this reason, we must assume that the French bourgeoisie will soon push forward, because their situation forces them to look for a rapid solution, and that we will have the reactionary struggle brought into the country from the West.
Our internal situation is, on the contrary, focussed on the question of the disarmament law. I would be happy if we still had time to stage a great manoeuvre against the law, but we do not have time for this. It would be better if we did. For I don't believe that our organisation is sufficiently prepared for the economic and military struggle for us to take up the struggle with a good conscience and a clear belief in success. It would be better, I believe, if we could focus interest on the disarmament action and could then see where the hidden weaknesses of our organisation were, where things could be improved, so that we could be in the position to bring the USPD masses to us. We must keep our eye open, so that we do not miss any phase pass by in which we could, through direct connections with the proletariat, make clear the inhibitions and betrayals of the USPD leaders. We already know that this will happen and we are tying the masses ever more tightly to our slogans. If we think of the possibility of a reactionary action from the West being carried into the country, we must also think for a moment of a second danger: the danger of a nationalist intoxication, which could, under certain circumstances, pass through the country. We can be sure that the militarists will try all sorts of things. The politics of the reactionary papers are clearly those of preparation for an alliance with Russia against the West. The interests of the militarists are completely clear in following a line, and this line can only be carried out, if they succeed in confusing our thoughts, so that the masses are drawn into a common fight with Russia against the West, but under the leadership of reactionary militarists. This is a real danger which we must not underestimate. Germany does not consist of industrial cities alone. In the open countryside nationalist ideology is still deeply rooted. There would be a swarm of volunteers from the countryside. We must be prepared for this danger and stop this situation from being used by the old ruling caste to put itself in the saddle again. The Hamburg tendency is a most dangerous contribution to these reactionary politics.
It remains the fact that piecemeal actions are one of the greatest dangers for the proletariat. It is an ancient basic tenet of the militarists to strike down the first unit that marches, before it can form an army. This theory is inbred in the bone of our reaction and it is clear that they will act according to it. The slogans of the day must also be clear, so that the enemy only comes up against an undivided front and never find the opportunity of knocking out groups one by one. This question of centralism must not be considered as before, but only from this purely practical standpoint. I believe that, if we do not march forwards too quickly or too slowly in the coming struggles, we can arrive at our first goal. May our next Congress fall in a much more difficult situation: one where we must defend what we have won. [Applause]
D.-East Prussia: complemented the presentation by describing the situation in East Prussia: As elsewhere in Germany, the workers in East Prussia are also expecting action in the immediate future. Even in circles of the Gewerkschaften, the opinion is often found that the proletariat faces the final showdown. The workers are determined to resist disarmament to the utmost.
Taken from Marxist Labour Party
- 1The information in this article is taken from "Protokoll des 1. ordentlichen Parteitages der kommunistischen Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands vom 1. bis 4. August