— J.S. The Foundations of Leninism
“In November 1918, the German working class overthrew the old state and its victory was total:
“In November, 1918, the Revolution was the work of the proletariat alone. The proletariat won so powerful a position that the bourgeois elements at first did not dare to attempt any resistance” (Kautsky, Introduction to the third edition of The Proletarian Revolution, 1931).
How was this victory of the proletariat turned, in the course of the following 15 years, into its exact opposite? Social Democracy is the answer.
Although German Social Democracy had originated on the basis of the revolutionary programme of Marxism and had a long and glorious tradition, in the imperialist era opportunism, parliamentary cretinism and corruption, and the economist politics of trade-unionism, had made increasing inroads into the Party. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 completed this process, with the Social Democratic Party openly and unashamedly siding with Kaiser Wilhelm, German militarism and the bourgeoisie. Adopting the slogan of ‘defence of the fatherland’ in an imperialist predatory war, German Social Democracy, like its counterparts in other European countries (the sole honourable exception being the Bolsheviks in Russia), betrayed the working class and trampled underfoot the banner of proletarian internationalism. The November 1918 revolution was organised by scattered revolutionary elements who had gathered, in the very difficult conditions of war censorship and Party censorship, in the illegal Spartacus League (founded in 1916) and the Independent Socialist Party (founded in 1917).
The Social Democratic Party played no part in the victorious 1918 revolution. On the contrary, it was opposed to the revolution from the start. In his libel lawsuit in Berlin in 1922, Scheidermann declared:
“The imputation that Social Democracy wanted or prepared the November revolution is a ridiculous, stupid lie of our opponents” (quoted in R Palme Dutt, op.cit. p.109).
At the time of the outbreak of the revolution, Social Democratic leaders occupied ministerial positions in the Coalition Government of Prince Max. In the critical period, their executive called upon the population not to support the revolution. But the moment the revolution had triumphed on 9 November, Social Democratic leaders rushed to Liebneckt and the Independents begging to be included in the leadership of the victorious revolution and form a joint government. Ignoring Liebneckt’s advice, the Independents fell for the bait in the name of ‘unity’ and formed a coalition with the Social Democrats, i.e., with the enemies of the revolution, the open agents of the bourgeoisie. Thus, where all other means had proved useless, bourgeois influence was restored at the heart of the new regime through the treacherous Social Democracy.
Far from destroying the old state machine - the army, police, judiciary and the reactionary bureaucracy - the Social Democratic government protected the old regime at every step. Instead of arming the proletariat for the defence of the revolution, it not only ordered the disarming of the workers but also armed and equipped special counter-revolutionary corps under the command of the ultra-reactionary monarchist officers. And it is these White Guard troops who thus went on to drown the proletarian revolution in blood. Liebneckt and Rosa Luxemburg were brutally murdered, their murderers going unpunished and openly gloating in their crime under the Social Democratic government. Steadily and systematically, with the application of limitless terror, the resistance of the workers was broken from the end of 1918 through to 1919. With the defeat of the 1918 revolution by Social Democracy, the basis was laid for the subsequent rise of fascism.
Far from acting out of blindness, folly and stupidity, as their apologists would have us believe, the Social Democratic leadership were driven solely by a burning desire to “save Germany from Bolshevism”, that is, to save capitalism. To achieve this aim, Social Democracy was prepared to commit any crime, perpetrate any outrage, against the proletariat.
While the illegal armed counter-revolutionary formations were protected and tolerated by Social Democracy and by the Entente, the attempt of the workers at self-defence through the formation of the Red Front was brutally suppressed by Social Democratic Interior Minister in 1929. Thus was built the Weimar Republic, which existed from 1918 to 1932, on the basis of a coalition between the bourgeoisie and Social Democracy. The latter was in power throughout this period. During the greater part of these years it was part of the Federal Government (from 1918 to 1925, under the presidency of Ebert, and from 1928 to 1930 in the Müller cabinet). The principal police President posts were held by Social Democrats. In view of this, it is not an exaggeration to say that fascism grew to power under the protection of Social Democracy.
While on paper the Weimar Republic was “the finest democracy in the world”, in truth it was a figleaf for the maintenance of the reactionary institutions of the old regime. It appealed to the old-time monarchists and generals to defend it against the communists, and it indulged in the indiscriminate violent suppression of the workers, with frequent recourse to martial law and emergency powers against the proletariat. This is what the eminent American bourgeois journalist, Mowrer, who harboured no revolutionary sentiments, had to say of this ‘democratic republic’:
“A virgin Republic that appeals to old-time monarchists and generals to defend it against Communists! Inevitably it falls into the enemy’s hands …
“What can be said for a republic that allows its laws to be interpreted by monarchist judges, its government to be administered by old-time functionaries brought up in fidelity to the old regime; that watches passively while reactionary school teachers and professors teach its children to despise the present freedom in favour of a glorified feudal past; that permits and encourages the revival of militarism which was chiefly responsible for the country’s previous humiliation?
“What can be said for democrats who subsidise ex-princes who attack the regime; who make the exiled ex-Emperor the richest man in deference to supposed property rights … This remarkable Republic paid generous pensions to thousands of ex-officers and civil servants who made no bones of their desire to overthrow it. ” (E A Mowrer, ‘Germany puts the clock back’, quoted in R Palme Dutt, op.cit. pp.114-115).
These were precisely the conditions within which, fascism utilised the widespread discontent, economic hardship and universal anger against the humiliating treaty of Versailles with its crippling tribute. It was only able to do so, however, because German Social Democracy, which had leadership of the majority of the working class, far from giving leadership on these issues, had completely identified itself with capitalism and the regime of Versailles and with wholesale repression of the proletarian masses. To crown it all, the bourgeois ‘democratic’ regime helped fascism to build up its armed formations by protecting it from above and giving it assistance through the state machine - the police, the judiciary, the army and the big capitalists - right up to the moment of finally placing it in power.
German fascism stood no chance of attracting the masses and building for itself a mass base without pretending to stand for ‘socialism’. So Nazi propaganda was characterised by an eclectic mix of contradictory and unscrupulous demagogy, with its frenzied anti-Semitism, wild anti-capitalist rhetoric, and chauvinist denunciations of the treaty of Versailles. In his Mein Kampf, in a sentence deleted since the 12th edition in 1932, Hitler wrote:
“The German has not the slightest notion how a people must be misled, if adherence of the masses is to be sought”. Hitler’s model was the British war-time propaganda, which was the object of his admiration as the finest example of the art of demagogic lying.
The dramatic expansion of German fascism from 1930 to 1932 is explained by the fact that the world economic crisis not only undermined the whole basis of stabilisation and of the Weimar Republic, but it also undermined the position of Social Democracy, which was very closely associated with them. The economic crisis and the Brüning hunger-regime finally exposed the utter bankruptcy of all the promises and fairy tales of Social Democracy about peaceful democratic progress and ever-rising prosperity under the conditions of capitalism. With the progress of the spread of disillusionment with Social Democracy, the class-conscious workers passed to communism, the politically backward elements crossed to the camp of fascism. Between 1930 and 1932, while Social Democracy lost 1,338,000 votes, the Communist Party gained 1,384,000. With the undermining of Social Democracy, with this weakened and discredited Social Democracy no longer able to check the growing advance of communism, and the consequent polarisation o society into two clearly-defined hostile camps, German capitalism required new methods and new tools. Faced with an unprecedented economic crisis, the bourgeoisie was in desperate need and in a hurry to wipe out the social gains of the 1918 Revolution in the field of wages, hours and social legislation, which had hitherto furnished the main basis for the influence of Social Democracy among the proletariat. Instead of the concessions of the first few years of the revolution, capitalism now had to put the workers into the straitjacket of Draconian measures of economic hardship. To achieve this aim, in view of the existence of a powerful Communist Party, with a strong and rising influence in the working class, and the declining influence of Social Democracy, German capitalism needed new - and naked - forms of dictatorship. Unceremoniously Social Democracy was pushed aside from the Federal Government, and replaced in the summer of 1930 by the Brüning dictatorship, which ruled without parliament by emergency decree, but with Social Democratic support. It was from this period - from the time of the Brüning dictatorship - that the overwhelming majority of German capitalists and landlords completely transferred their allegiance to National Socialism, hitherto only partly supported, as the instrument of their terrorist dictatorship. Had Social Democracy been prepared to ally with communism for a joint resistance to the hunger offensive of the Brüning dictatorship, it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that the capitalist offensive need not have succeeded. But, in the name of the policy of the ‘lesser evil’, Social Democracy supported the Brüning dictatorship’s hunger decrees and attacks on the workers. In so doing it strengthened capitalism, weakened the workers’ front, disorganised the proletarian ranks, and played right into the hands of fascism. This disorganisation of proletarian forces in the critical period of 1930-1932 meant that the initiative, and the gains from widespread hunger and want, which ought to have strengthened the proletarian camp, passed instead to fascism.
Before the Nazis came to power the Communist Party and the Red Trade Union opposition issued calls to the Social Democratic Party and the General Trade Union Confederation for joint action of all labour organisations against the then impending wage offensive (April 1932 appeal) and for the organisation of a general strike for the repeal of emergency decrees and the disbanding of Storm Troops (20 July 1932 appeal). Both these appeals were rejected, the second on the spurious ground that the call for a general strike was provocative and that the ballot box was the only instrument for opposing fascism. A third appeal for a united front was issued by the Communist Party on 30 January 1933 after the installation of Hitler as Chancellor. There was such a groundswell of support for this call that, although it did not respond officially, the leadership of the Social Democratic Party was compelled to explain its refusal in its own publications. While specifically rejecting any joint action against Hitler on the spurious ground that, as he had assumed power legally he should not be opposed, it proposed a ‘non-aggression pact’ with the Communist Party, i.e., abstention from mutual verbal criticism. The fourth call for a united front, made on 1 March 1933, after the burning of the Reichstag and the unleashing of unbridled Nazi terror, was also left unanswered by the Social Democratic leadership, as the latter was busy at the time trying to come to an understanding with the Hitlerites for the toleration of Social Democracy under fascism. Ignorant quarters have levelled the criticism that the Communist Party’s emphasis on the ‘united front from below’, and its failure to appeal directly to the leadership of German Social Democracy and the trade unions earlier than 1932, contributed to the failure of the working class to frustrate the fascist advance to power. This criticism is totally groundless, failing as it does to take into account the actual conditions then prevailing in Germany. When the Social Democrat, Severing, in his capacity as Minister of the Interior, was shooting down the workers’ May Day demonstrations in 1929, it would have been pointless to have appealed to the leadership of Social Democracy for a united front against the attack on the workers. However, with the expulsion of the Braun-Severing government by Von Papen, an opportunity for such an appeal presented itself, and the Communist Party sent its proposal to the Executives of the Social Democratic Party and the General Trade Union Federation for a united front. The firm rejection of the Communist proposal by these two bodies ensured the victory of fascism.
Thus the united working-class front, which alone stood any chance of defeating the Hitlerites, was made impossible by the stubborn refusal of Social Democracy to co-operate with the communists - a refusal which paved the way for the victory of fascism. This attitude of Social Democracy’s flowed directly from its line of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie and reliance on the bourgeois state - a line which it pursued even in the conditions of dictatorship, in the name of the ‘lesser evil’ under Hindenburg, Brüning and Von Papen, declaring that they were a ‘lesser evil’ than the outright victory of fascism. Far from being a lesser evil, these forms of dictatorship were merely preparing the ground for the complete victory of fascism and destroying, step by step, the resistance of the working class. Their work completed, they handed over state power to the Hitlerites. Hindenburg was installed as President with the support of Social Democracy. Within a year he had had installed Hitler as Chancellor. And even after the victory of the Hitlerites Social Democracy refused to oppose it for the reason that, having come to power ‘legally’, it was a ‘lesser evil’ than an ‘illegal’ Nazi terror.
Failing in their efforts to secure the co-operation of Social Democracy for a united working-class front against the encroachments of capital and the dictatorial regimes, the Communist Party succeeded in bringing about at least a partial united front from below, resulting in increased working-class resistance, which culminated in the Berlin transport strike of November 1932. The strike was led by the Red Trade Union opposition after the trade-union officials had rejected a massive vote of the workers for a strike. Parallel with this, the November 1932 elections reflected the rising working-class resistance: while the Nazi vote fell by 2 million and the Social Democratic vote fell by 700,000, that of the Communist Party rose by 700,000 to nearly 6 million. Von Papen was forced to resign on 17 November, and his resignation was followed by long negotiations between Hindenburg and Hitler. In view of rising working-class militancy, it was considered inopportune to instal Hitler in the Chancellery. Accordingly, Von Schleicher was made the Chancellor. He, by granting a few concessions to the working class, for which he received the plaudits of the Social Democratic and official trade-union leadership, duly succeeded in lulling the resistance of the working class who were under the malignant influence of Social Democracy. Once the necessary conditions were prepared, Hitler was installed as Chancellor, on 30 January 1933. The ebbing of the fascist tide, as reflected in the November 1932 election, far from marking its annihilation, as was being trumpeted from every roof-top by Social Democracy, merely convinced the bourgeoisie to hasten fascism’s rise to power before the latter’s stock should have irretrievably sunk and that of communism have risen to dominance.
“After the losses of the National Socialists in the Reichstag elections of November, German ‘Big Business’ decided that the immediate danger was that the National Socialist Party might disintegrate too rapidly” (C B Hoover Germany Enters the Third Reich, 1933, p.64 - quoted in R Palme Dutt op. cit. p.125).
So Big Business decided to instal fascism in power with the sole aim of enabling the latter to use the state for rebuilding its strength and shattering all opposition.
The sapping of the German working-class will to resist had been effected not by fascism but by Social Democracy, whose leadership was treating the prospect of a Nazi government in a favourable light. Thus, in April 1932, Severing went on record as saying: “The Social Democratic Party no less than the Catholic Party, is strongly inclined to see Herr Hitler’s Nazis share the government responsibility” (quoted in R Palme Dutt, p.127).
On coming to power, Hitler armed the Storm Troops and incorporated them into the state’s ‘auxiliary police’ with special responsibility for the policing of the elections due to be held on 5 March. He suppressed the whole of the Social Democratic and Communist press, arrested leading militants, banned all working-class gatherings and propaganda, unleashed a reign of terror, and held elections in these conditions. These elections, held under “the shackles of vile terrorism”, as the Daily Herald of 4 March 1933 correctly stated, and accompanied by gross irregularities (in some districts the polling figures exceeded the electorate), could hardly reflect the wishes of the German people. Ignoring all this, Social Democracy eagerly resorted to the plea that now Hitler had a “democratic mandate” it was not justifiable to oppose him save as a “loyal parliamentary opposition”. Taking parliamentary cretinism to its logical absurdity of supporting a fascist terrorist regime because it had a majority in Parliament, albeit a rigged majority secured at the point of a bayonet in elections held under terror, Stampfen, the former editor of Vorwärts, wrote:
“The victory of the government parties makes it possible to govern strictly in accordance with the Constitution.
“They have only to act as a legal government, and it will follow naturally that we shall be a legal opposition; if they choose to use their majority for measures that remain within the framework of the Constitution, we shall confine ourselves to the role of their fair critics. ”
For his part, Kautsky, at one time the leader of the Second International and considered the best theoretician of Marxism after Engels’ death, but long since degenerated and gone totally rotten, wrote:
“The dictatorship has the mass of the population behind it. ”
Kautsky had travelled a long way since he wrote his famous Road to Power in 1906. Beginning with opportunism on the questions of the tasks of the proletarian revolution in regard to the bourgeois state, through his support for the imperialist First World War and his opposition to the proletarian revolution in Russia, he had rolled down to the bottom and into the gutter, writing pieces embellishing the Hitlerite regime as founded on mass support.
W N Ewer, diplomatic correspondent of the Daily Herald, wrote that Hitler’s triumph was “… a victory for democracy, ” for he had “come to power by the most strictly constitutional means … Of course there was a certain amount of intimidation. There always is … The figures indeed are proof that the election was practically free” (‘Why Hitler Triumphed’, Plebs, April 1933, quoted in R Palme Dutt, op. cit. p.128).
An exactly similar view was expressed by Maxton, the Chairman of the Independent Labour Party:
In this way Social Democracy attempted to cover its subservience to fascism by the barely-disguised device of first ignoring the conditions of terror under which the election of 5 March was held, and then use this mockery of an election as providing a legitimate mandate for the fascist regime.
Social Democracy’s disgraceful, degrading and despicable line was to continue after the election in a vain attempt to curry favour with fascism. The speech of the Social Democratic leader, Wels, at the opening of the Reichstag on 23 March, was an important expression of this line. He, as the leader of the party, openly resigned form the Executive Committee of the Second International, accusing the latter of spreading “atrocity stories” against the fascists. The leadership of the trade unions declared its readiness to co-operate with the Nazis, hailed in their press as the fascist “revolution”, as a triumphant “continuation of the 1918 revolution”. It stressed that the common enemy was communism, and that their ‘socialism’ was a “German affair” (Sozial Demokratischer Pressedient, 9 March, 1933, quoted by R Palme Dutt, op. cit. p.129). Reaching the depths of degradation and treachery to the working class, on this basis, the central executive committee of the trade unions gave an official call to the workers to participate in Hitler’s May Day.
“The trade union leaders have sealed their reconciliation with the new rulers of Germany,” wrote the Daily Herald of 24 April 1933.
The attempt by the reformists of Social Democracy to play the role of a recognised tolerated adjunct to fascism failed, in part owing to the fact that a huge number of workers in the big factories rejected their leaders’ calls and stayed away from the Nazi May Day parades. Once it was crystal clear that the Social-democratic leadership’s grip on the workers was inadequate to serve fascist ends, straight away on 2 May, the Nazis seized the unions, amalgamated them into their own labour front, marched their leaders into prison, and in their place appointed Nazi functionaries.
“The Leiparts and the Grassmanns”, declared Dr Ley, the leader of the Nazi Labour front, “may profess their devotion to Hitler; but they are better in prison” (quoted in R Palme Dutt, op. cit. p.129).
For its part, the Social Democratic Party traversed the same path of humiliation, degradation and capitulation, followed by dissolution. On 17 May all its members in the Reichstag voted for the fascist government’s resolution and joined in unanimous acclamation of Hitler. Much good did this grovelling do for them! All the property of the Social Democratic Party was confiscated, and on 22 June the organisation itself was declared ‘dissolved’.
With this, Social Democracy was compelled by the bourgeoisie to continue its disruptive work in the conditions of illegality - conditions in which it could be of greater use to the ruling class in the event of a revolutionary upheaval than if it were to closely and openly identified with fascism.
The sole honour of consistent opposition to the bourgeoisie, and to fascism in particular, belongs to the Communist Party. The balance of class forces during the period under discussion did not crown its efforts with success, but the fact that its line was correct, and that it pursued this line in the working-class movement without fear or favour - of this there cannot be the slightest doubt.
In view of the above, we may list the following as the decisive causes of the temporary victory of fascism:
The strangling by Social Democracy and the trade unions of the 1918 revolution in the name of ‘democracy’ and the restoration of the power of capitalists, landlords and old reactionary institutions;
The support by Social Democracy and the trade unions of the successive emergency and dictatorship regimes leading up to the assumption of power by the Nazis;
The rejection by Social Democracy and the trade unions of a united working-class front;
The refusal by Social Democracy and the trade-union leadership to resist Hitler on his accession to power or on the commencement of the Nazi terror.
As R Palme Dutt correctly pointed out: “The experience of Germany from 1918 to 1933 is the classic demonstration before the international working class of how a working-class revolution can be destroyed and squandered and brought to the deepest abyss of working-class subjection. It is the classic demonstration before the international working class of where the path of bourgeois ‘democracy’ leads, step by step to its inexorable conclusion” (op. cit. pp. 131-132).
In Austria too “The victory of the proletarian revolution … was fully in the grasp of the workers in 1918-1919, and was only prevented by Social Democracy. This is common ground, and is admitted by the Social Democratic leaders themselves. Otto Bauer describes the situation at the end of the war in his book ‘The Austrian revolution of 1918’:
“ ‘There was deep ferment in the barracks of the people’s army. The people’s army felt that it was the bearer of the revolution, the vanguard of the proletariat … The soldiers with arms in hand hoped for a victory of the proletariat … ‘Dictatorship of the proletariat!’ ‘All Power to the Soviets!’ was all that could be heard in the streets.’
“ ‘No bourgeois government could have coped with such a task. It would have been disarmed by the distrust and contempt of the masses. It would have been overthrown in a week by a street uprising and disarmed by its own soldiers.
“ ‘Only the Social Democrats could have safely handled such an unprecedentedly difficult situation, because they enjoyed the confidence of the working masses …. Only the Social Democrats could have stopped peacefully the stormy demonstrations by negotiation and persuasion. Only the Social Democrats could have guided the people’s army and curbed the revolutionary adventures of the working masses … The profound shake-up of the bourgeois social order was expressed in that a bourgeois government, a government without participation in it of the Social Democrats, had simply become unthinkable.’
“The role of Austrian Social Democracy was thus in fact exactly parallel to that of the German. The power of the workers’ revolution was deliberately destroyed by Social Democracy in the name of bourgeois ‘democracy’” (R Palme Dutt, op. cit. p.137).
The development of fascism in Italy, Germany and Austria reveals all too clearly that the role of Social Democracy is crucial in the accession of fascism to power. Without understanding of this inter-relationship between Social Democracy and fascism, it is impossible to understand capitalist politics since the end of the First World War, which marked the open desertion of Social Democracy, representing significant sections of the working-class movement, especially of the trade-union and parliamentary leadership, in all the imperialist countries to the side of the bourgeoisie.
The further evolution of Social-democratic parties since then has played a big part in defeating working-class revolutions in the years immediately following the first world war, in the growth of fascism in the subsequent years, and in the fight against communism since the Second World War.”
From “Bourgeois Democracy and Fascism”.
Comrades from North America: The Stalin Society of North America has recently started up, a sister group to the wonderful organizations in Pakistan, and the UK. If you are interested in learning more, or having your (thoughtful and polite) questions answered about Stalin and the USSR, visit the facebook page at “Stalin Society of North America”. The group is off to a great start with nearly 150 members in less than a week, and invaluable resources posted regularly.
Гражданская Оборона-Долгая Счастливая Жизнь
Я помню! Я горжусь!
Remember the 27 million Russians that gave their lives to destroy fascism today!!!
Young Pioneers in the USSR (top) and People’s China (bottom).
“Solzhenitsyn became famous throughout the capitalist world towards the end of 1960 with his book, The Gulag Archipelago. He himself had been sentenced in 1946 to 8 years in a labour camp for counter-revolutionary activity in the form of distribution of anti-Soviet propaganda. According to Solzhenitsyn, the fight against Nazi Germany in the Second World War could have been avoided if the Soviet government had reached a compromise with Hitler. Solzhenitsyn also accused the Soviet government and Stalin of being even worse than Hitler from the point of view, according to him, of the dreadful effects of the war on the people of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn did not hide his Nazi sympathies. He was condemned as a traitor.
Solzhenitsyn began in 1962 to publish books in the Soviet Union with the consent and help of Nikita Khrushchev. The first book he published was A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, concerning the life of a prisoner. Khrushchev used Solzhenitsyn’s texts to combat Stalin’s socialist heritage. In 1970 Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize for literature with his book The Gulag Archipelago. His books then began to be published in large quantities in capitalist countries, their author having become one of the most valuable instruments of imperialism in combating the socialism of the Soviet Union. His texts on the labour camps were added to the propaganda on the millions who were supposed to have died in the Soviet Union and were presented by the capitalist mass media as though they were true. In 1974, Solzhenitsyn renounced his Soviet citizenship and emigrated to Switzerland and then the US. At that time he was considered by the capitalist press to be the greatest fighter for freedom and democracy. His Nazi sympathies were buried so as not to interfere with the propaganda war against socialism.
In the US, Solzhenitsyn was frequently invited to speak at important meetings. He was, for example, the main speaker at the AFL-CIO union congress in 1975, and on 15 July 1975 he was invited to give a lecture on the world situation to the US Senate! His lectures amount to violent and provocative agitation, arguing and propagandising for the most reactionary positions. Among other things he agitated for Vietnam to be attacked again after its victory over the US. And more: after 40 years of fascism in Portugal, when left-wing army officers took power in the people’s revolution of 1974, Solzhenitsyn began to propagandise in favour of US military intervention in Portugal which, according to him, would join the Warsaw Pact if the US did not intervene! In his lectures, Solzhenitsyn always bemoaned the liberation of Portugal’s African colonies.
But it is clear that the main thrust of Solzhenitsyn’s speeches was always the dirty war against socialism - from the alleged execution of several million people in the Soviet Union to the tens of thousands of Americans supposedly imprisoned and enslaved, according to Solzhenitsyn, in North Vietnam! This idea of Solzhenitsyn’s of Americans being used as slave labour in North Vietnam gave rise to the Rambo films on the Vietnam war. American journalists who dared write in favour of peace between the US and the Soviet Union were accused by Solzhenitsyn in his speeches of being potential traitors. Solzhenitsyn also propagandised in favour of increasing US military capacity against the Soviet Union, which he claimed was more powerful in ‘tanks and aeroplanes, by five to seven times, than the US’ as well as in atomic weapons which ‘in short’ he alleged were ‘two, three or even five times’ more powerful in the Soviet Union than those held by the US. Solzhenitsyn’s lectures on the Soviet Union represented the voice of the extreme right. But he himself went even further to the right in his public support of fascism.
Support for Franco’s fascism
After Franco died in 1975, the Spanish fascist regime began to lose control of the political situation and at the beginning of 1976, events in Spain captured world public opinion. There were strikes and demonstrations to demand democracy and freedom, and Franco’s heir, King Juan Carlos, was obliged very cautiously to introduce some liberalisation in order to calm down the social agitation.
At this most important moment in Spanish political history, Alexander Solzhenitsyn appears in Madrid and gives an interview to the programme Directisimo one Saturday night, the 20th of March, at peak viewing time (see the Spanish newspapers, ABC and Ya of 21 March 1976). Solzhenitsyn, who had been provided with the questions in advance, used the occasion to make all kinds of reactionary statements. His intention was not to support the King’s so-called liberalisation measures. On the contrary, Solzhenitsyn warned against democratic reform. In his television interview he declared that 110 million Russians had died the victims of socialism, and he compared ‘the slavery to which Soviet people were subjected to the freedom enjoyed in Spain’. Solzhenitsyn also accused ‘progressive circles’ of ‘Utopians’ of considering Spain to be a dictatorship. By ‘progressive’, he meant anyone in the democratic opposition - were they liberals, social-democrats or communists. ‘Last autumn,’ said Solzhenitsyn, ‘world public opinion was worried about the fate of Spanish terrorists [i.e., Spanish anti-fascists sentenced to death by the Franco regime]. All the time progressive public opinion demands democratic political reform while supporting acts of terrorism’. ‘Those who seek rapid democratic reform, do they realise what will happen tomorrow or the day after? In Spain there may be democracy tomorrow, but after tomorrow will it be able to avoid falling from democracy into totalitarianism?’ To cautious inquiries by the journalists as to whether such statements could not be seen as support for regimes in countries where there was no liberty, Solzhenitsyn replied: ‘I only know one place where there is no liberty and that is Russia.’ Solzhenitsyn’s statements on Spanish television were a direct support to Spanish fascism, an ideology he supports to this day. This is one of the reasons why Solzhenitsyn began to disappear from public view in his 18 years of exile in the US, and one of the reasons he began to get less than total support from capitalist governments. For the capitalists it was a gift from heaven to be able to use a man like Solzhenitsyn in their dirty war against socialism, but everything has its limits. In the new capitalist Russia, what determines the support of the west for political groups is purely and simply the ability of doing good business with high profits under the wing of such groups. Fascism as an alternative political regime for Russia is not considered to be good for business. For this reason Solzhenitsyn’s political plans for Russia are a dead letter as far as Western support is concerned. What Solzhenitsyn wants for Russia’s political future is a return to the authoritarian regime of the Tsars, hand-in-hand with the traditional Russian Orthodox Church! Even the most arrogant imperialists are not interested in supporting political stupidity of this magnitude. To find anyone who supports Solzhenitsyn in the West one has to search among the dumbheads of the extreme right.”
“Comrade workers! May Day is coming, the day when the workers of all lands celebrate Their awakening to a class- conscious life, their solidarity in the struggle against all coercion and oppression of man by man, the struggle to free the toiling millions from hunger, poverty, and humiliation. Two worlds stand facing each other in this great struggle: the world of capital and the world of labour, the world of exploitation and slavery and the world of brotherhood and freedom.
On one side stand the handful of rich blood-suckers. They have seized the factories and mills, the tools and machinery, have turned millions of acres of land and mountains of money into their private property. They have made the government and the army their servants, faithful watchdogs of the wealth they have amassed.
On the other side stand the millions of the disinherited. They are forced to beg the moneybags for permission to work for them. By their labour they create all wealth; yet all their lives long they have to struggle for a crust of bread, beg for work as for charity, sap their strength and health by back-breaking toil, and starve in hovels in the villages or in the cellars and garrets of the big cities.
But now these disinherited toilers have declared war on the moneybags and exploiters. The workers of all lands are fighting to free labour from wage slavery, from poverty and want. They are fighting for a system of society where the wealth created by the common labour will go to benefit, not a handful of rich men, but all those who work. They want to make the land and the factories, mills, and machines the common property of all toilers. They want to do away with the division into rich and poor, want the fruits of labour to go to the labourers themselves, and all the achievements of the human mind, all improvements in ways of working, to improve the lot of the man who works, and not serve as a means of oppressing him.
The great struggle of labour against capital has cost the workers of all countries immense sacrifices. They have shed rivers of blood in behalf of their right to a better life and real freedom. Those who fight for the workers’ cause are subjected by the governments to untold persecution. But in spite of all persecution the solidarity of the workers of the world is growing and gaining in strength. The workers are uniting more and more closely in socialist parties, the supporters of those parties are mounting into millions and are advancing steadily, step by step, towards complete victory over the class of capitalist exploiters.
The Russian proletariat, too, has awakened to a new life. It too has joined this great struggle. Gone are the days when our worker slaved submissively, seeing no escape from his state of bondage, no glimmer of light in his bitter life. Socialism has shown him the way out, and thousands upon thousands of fighters have thronged to the red banner, as to a guiding star. Strikes have shown the workers the power of unity, have taught them to fight back, have shown how formidable to capital organised labour can be. The workers have seen that it is off their labour that the capitalists and the government live and get fat. The workers have been fired with the spirit of united struggle, with the aspiration for freedom and for socialism. The workers have realised what a dark and evil force tbe tsarist autocracy is. The work ers need freedom for their struggle, but the tsarist govern ment binds them hand and foot. The workers need freedom of assembly, freedom to organise, freedom for newspapers and books, but the tsarist government crushes, with knout, prison and bayonet, every striving for freedom. The cry “Down with the autocracy!” has swept through the length and breadth of Russia, it has been sounded more and more often in the streets, at great mass meetings of the workers. Last summer tens of thousands of workers throughout the South of Russia rose up to fight for a better life, for freedom from police tyranny. The bourgeoisie and government trem bled at the sight of the formidable army of workers, which at one stroke brought to a standstill the entire industrial life of huge cities. Dozens of fighters for the workers’ cause fell beneath the bullets of the troops that tsarism sent against the internal enemy.
But there is no force that can vanquish this internal enemy, for the ruling classes and the government only live by its labour. There is no force on earth that could break the millions of workers, who are growing more and more class- conscious, more and more united and organised. Every defeat the workers sustain brings new fighters into the ranks, it awakens broader masses to new life and makes them prepare for fresh struggles.
And the events Russia is now passing through are such that this awakening of the worker masses is bound to be even more rapid and widespread, and we must strain every nerve to unite the ranks of the proletariat and prepare it for even more determined struggle. The war is making even the most backward sections of the proletariat take an interest in polit ical affairs and problems. The war is showing up ever more clearly and vividly the utter rottenness of the autocratic order, the utter criminality of the police and court gang that is ruling Russia. Our people are perishing from want and starvation at home—yet they have been dragged into a ruinous and senseless war for alien territories lying thou sands of miles away and inhabited by foreign races. Our people are ground down in political slavery—yet they have been dragged into a war for the enslavement of other peoples. Our people demand a change of political order at home— but it is sought to divert their attention by the thunder of guns at the other end of the world. But the tsarist govern ment has gone too far in its gamble, in its criminal squan dering of the nation’s wealth and young manhood, sent to die on the shores of the Pacific. Every war puts a strain on the people, and the difficult war against cultured and free Japan is a frightful strain upon Russia. And this strain comes at a time when the structure of police despotism has already begun to totter under the blows of the awakening proletariat. The war is laying bare all the weak spots of the government, the war is tearing off all false disguises, the war is revealing all the inner rottenness; the war is making the preposterousness of the tsarist autocracy obvious to all and is showing everyone the death-agony of the old Russia, the Russia where the people are disfranchised, ignorant and cowed, the Russia that is still in serf bondage to the police government.
The old Russia is dying. A free Russia is coming to take its place. The dark forces that guarded the tsarist autocracy are going under. But only the class-conscious and organised proletariat can deal them their death-blow. Only the class- conscious and organised proletariat can win real, not sham, freedom for the people. Only the class-conscious and organised proletariat can thwart every attempt to deceive the people, to curtail their rights, to make them a mere tool in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
Comrade workers! Let us then prepare with redoubled energy for the decisive battle that is at hand! Let the ranks of the Social-Democrat proletarians close ever firmer! Let their word spread ever farther afield! Let campaigning for the workers’ demands be carried on ever more boldly! Let the celebration of May Day win thousands of new fight ers to our cause and swell our forces in the great struggle for the freedom of all the people, for the liberation of all who toil from the yoke of capital!
Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. He was simple, calm and courageous. He seldom lost his poise; pondered his problems slowly, made his decisions clearly and firmly; never yielded to ostentation nor coyly refrained from holding his rightful place with dignity. He was the son of a serf but stood calmly before the great without hesitation or nerves. But also - and this was the highest proof of his greatness - he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.
Stalin was not a man of conventional learning; he was much more than that: he was a man who thought deeply, read understandingly and listened to wisdom, no matter whence it came. He was attacked and slandered as few men of power have been; yet he seldom lost his courtesy and balance; nor did he let attack drive him from his convictions nor induce him to surrender positions which he knew were correct. As one of the despised minorities of man, he first set Russia on the road to conquer race prejudice and make one nation out of its 140 groups without destroying their individuality.
His judgment of men was profound. He early saw through the flamboyance and exhibitionism of Trotsky, who fooled the world, and especially America. The whole ill-bred and insulting attitude of Liberals in the U.S. today began with our naive acceptance of Trotsky’s magnificent lying propaganda, which he carried around the world. Against it, Stalin stood like a rock and moved neither right nor left, as he continued to advance toward a real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered.
Three great decisions faced Stalin in power and he met them magnificently: first, the problem of the peasants, then the West European attack, and last the Second World War. The poor Russian peasant was the lowest victim of tsarism, capitalism and the Orthodox Church. He surrendered the Little White Father easily; he turned less readily but perceptibly from his ikons; but his kulaks clung tenaciously to capitalism and were near wrecking the revolution when Stalin risked a second revolution and drove out the rural bloodsuckers.
Then came intervention, the continuing threat of attack by all nations, halted by the Depression, only to be re-opened by Hitlerism. It was Stalin who steered the Soviet Union between Scylla and Charybdis: Western Europe and the U.S. were willing to betray her to fascism, and then had to beg her aid in the Second World War. A lesser man than Stalin would have demanded vengeance for Munich, but he had the wisdom to ask only justice for his fatherland. This Roosevelt granted but Churchill held back. The British Empire proposed first to save itself in Africa and southern Europe, while Hitler smashed the Soviets.
The Second Front dawdled, but Stalin pressed unfalteringly ahead. He risked the utter ruin of socialism in order to smash the dictatorship of Hitler and Mussolini. After Stalingrad the Western World did not know whether to weep or applaud. The cost of victory to the Soviet Union was frightful. To this day the outside world has no dream of the hurt, the loss and the sacrifices. For his calm, stern leadership here, if nowhere else, arises the deep worship of Stalin by the people of all the Russias.
Then came the problem of Peace. Hard as this was to Europe and America, it was far harder to Stalin and the Soviets. The conventional rulers of the world hated and feared them and would have been only too willing to see the utter failure of this attempt at socialism. At the same time the fear of Japan and Asia was also real. Diplomacy therefore took hold and Stalin was picked as the victim. He was called in conference with British imperialism represented by its trained and well-fed aristocracy; and with the vast wealth and potential power of America represented by its most liberal leader in half a century.
Here Stalin showed his real greatness. He neither cringed nor strutted. He never presumed, he never surrendered. He gained the friendship of Roosevelt and the respect of Churchill. He asked neither adulation nor vengeance. He was reasonable and conciliatory. But on what he deemed essential, he was inflexible. He was willing to resurrect the League of Nations, which had insulted the Soviets. He was willing to fight Japan, even though Japan was then no menace to the Soviet Union, and might be death to the British Empire and to American trade. But on two points Stalin was adamant: Clemenceau’s “Cordon Sanitaire” must be returned to the Soviets, whence it had been stolen as a threat. The Balkans were not to be left helpless before Western exploitation for the benefit of land monopoly. The workers and peasants there must have their say.
Such was the man who lies dead, still the butt of noisy jackals and of the ill-bred men of some parts of the distempered West. In life he suffered under continuous and studied insult; he was forced to make bitter decisions on his own lone responsibility. His reward comes as the common man stands in solemn acclaim."
— W.E.B. DuBois
Meeting and making radical plans with fellow workers and comrades from far away is exciting
i just had my first experience with seeing some stupid like “lol menstrual blood everywhere wooo uterus party waaaa” tumblr photo and actually...
“In the U.S., where ninety-six percent of the reported perpetrators of rape are white, eighty percent of the men in prison for rape are black.”