Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

1914

ARE THE GERMAN PEOPLE UNANIMOUSLY FOR THE WAR? 677

The article that led to the second suspension of the paper began by referring to Germany's efforts "to make the truth known abroad," and to the fact that these efforts have not succeeded:

The extent of these efforts show how difficult it is to create confidence in the German reports.

It is necessary to go back to times of peace to find the explanation. For a long time a great measure of mistrust, suspicion, and antagonism to Germany has been heaping up abroad-even in the neutral countries-and we now see the effects of this.

In part, says "Vorwaerts," this was due to Germany's sudden rise in the economic world and to fear and suspicion on the part of the great capitalists.

But the jingoes abroad would hardly have had such success with their propaganda if another factor had not been present.

That land, which developed so mightily, was at the same time that land which made its workmen a present of an anti-Socialist law, and which also, after the repeal of this law, instituted 'a police government of chicanery and allowed the equality of all citizens to exist only on the paper of the Prussian Constitution.

Thus Germany appeared to the rest of the world, and even to the working classes, in the light of a Power whose rule meant militarism and political oppression. It was this that made it possible for that distrust and bitterness to arise which so greatly aided our bellicose opponents in the ruling classes, and which makes it possible for us to gain the sympathy of neutral countries only with the greatest effort.

This explains why regrettable pronouncements have come even from the laboring classes in these lands. These are regrettable above all because they try to fasten upon the German folk as a whole the responsibility for the acts of a single class. . .

The comrades abroad can be assured that the German working class disapproves to-day every piratical policy of state, just as it has always disapproved it, and that it is disposed to resist the predatory subjugation of foreign peoples as strongly as the circumstances permit.

The comrades in foreign lands can be assured that, though the German workmen also are protecting their fatherland, they will nevertheless not forget that their interests are the same as those of proletariat in other countries, who, like themselves, have been compelled to go to war against their will; indeed, even against their often repeated pronouncements in favor of peace. [My italics.]

Here we have the assurance of "Vorwaerts" that, in spite of the vote of the

majority of the Socialist Reichstag members and the statements of such leaders as Scheidemann and Suedekum, the Socialists in the firing line are there against their will.

The reader must not get the impression that I have tried to give a complete idea of the work of "Vorwaerts" against the Government and the military faction that now controls it. Hardly a day has passed when the cables have failed to mention one or another of its bold strokes, and a reference to the paper itself shows that it has neglected no opportunity. Repeatedly it has exposed the "lies" of the militarists. So-called "atrocities against the German troops are shown to be either absurd in themselves, or. crafty inventions, or grossly exaggerated. German prisoners are not being mistreated in any of the foreign countries. In a word, the whole press campaign of the militarists is repudiated point by point.. Always, of. course, the point is emphasized that the peo-. ple of the foreign countries are not hostile to the people of Germany. Not only does "Vorwaerts" reject the militarist case in detail, but it also rejects it as a whole-just as it did before the war. The fact that all of Germany's leading litterateurs and scien-. tists have defended the war merely supplies a subject of ridicule; one of the poets, formerly a democrat, is described as writing one patriotic poem every day and three on Sunday, which, we are reminded, makes nine a week. And when Maeterlinck and d'Annunzio are boycotted because they have turned antiGerman, "Vorwaerts " ironically points out that the discovery has suddenly been made. that they have no literary merit.

[ocr errors]

Yet for the first time since 1894 Socialist literature, including Vorwaerts," has been admitted into the barracks, and on September 2 special arrangements were made by which it could even be sent into the camps on the firing line. So that the agitation I have described has not only reached the German people generally, but has been spread throughout the armies-probably the most momentous piece of propaganda ever accomplished by any agitation in all history. Evidently the reactionary Government made these extraordinary concessions from two motives. It recognized the military necessity of securing the enthusiastic loyalty of the millions of Socialists who compose a third of the German armies, and it assumed that the conservative Socialists, who had secured control of the Reichstag group on August 4, and those

[graphic]

leaders who had been brought into the Government camp by the machinations of Bethmann-Hollweg at the secret conference of the previous day, represented the German Socialist movement as a whole. It forgot that the Reichstag members are often governed by political considerations which do not influence the Socialist masses; that the latter have put the control of the party, not into the hands of this group, but in an executive committee composed of a small number of its oldest and most trusted servants, including several revolutionists; and that "Vorwaerts" depends for its daily income upon the approval of the Socialist masses, especially those of Greater Berlin and central Germany. Instead of a tamed and loyal Socialism which it expected, "military necessity," then, has caused to circulate throughout the army literary material which, under the present circumstances, is of the most inflammatory character. For the Socialists, including a great proportion of revolutionists, are already there. All that was necessary was to remind them that all the vast anti-military and antimonarchical agitation of recent years still holds good under present conditions, and to bring this agitation down to date.

[ocr errors]

Nor should the daily press, a part of it still more anti-military than "Vorwaerts,' alone be mentioned. Now that Bebel is dead, the voice that represents the largest number of German Socialists is that of Karl Kautsky, who is generally acknowledged as the world's leading Marxist. As editor of the party's intellectual organ, "Die Neue Zeit," his influence in a country as devoted as Germany to intellectual authority is scarcely less than that of "Vorwaerts." Kautsky is a revolutionist, and in nearly every number manages to get by the censor with statements which none of his Socialist readers can fail to understand. For example, when he compares existing armies to the people's army of the French Revolution, it is scarcely necessary for him to go further and remind readers who have been thoroughly informed on this particular period that this revolutionary army overthrew monarch, aristocracy, and ruling classes generally. Yet, to make sure, he goes on to explain (in the number of September 25) that in the wars of the French Revolution "all respect for private property was cast aside, and all property was regarded as the property of the nation," adding that the present war may accomplish a great deal in this direction.

In the same article Kautsky speaks at length of the probability of a revolution in Russia, closing by a comparison with Germany and Austria which will suggest to every German reader that in reality he refers to these countries quite as much as to Russia:

The war cannot be waged for any long period without concessions by the Czar, the granting of greater liberties, which perhaps are not meant very seriously, but which cannot be taken back after the war, unless glorious and brilliant victories occur, which certainly does not seem likely now.

We must reckon with the possibility that a Russia will proceed from the war which, even if it is not a republic but only a constitutional monarchy, will yet have greater liberties than its present enemies. Along with America, Russia will be the chief gainer by the war. It only needs freedom in order to utilize its great natural resources and its enormous home market of 160 million inhabitants for a rapid economic development, provided, of course, that it is not hampered by increased armaments.

Germany and Austria could not long avoid the effects of these changes. [My italics.]

This must be read in connection with the commonplace among German Socialists already referred to, that a great European war which did not lead to victory is the most promising of all possible situations for a revolution and the establishment of a democratic republic. "Vorwaerts," too, is looking forward to German defeats, and is making the people ready for them by insisting with the most significant emphasis that unfavorable news must not be suppressed.

In the month of June, this year, at the last act of the last session of the Reichstag, fifty of the Socialist members proved their republicanism by forcing the whole Socialist group to remain seated and silent when the Presi dent called for standing cheers for the Kaiser. We may be certain that in the end the section of the party represented by "Vorwaerts" and these members of the Reichstag, in large part at least, will remain true to the republican and anti-militarist principles of the international Socialist movement. And we have every reason to hope that this army of half a million, enlarged to millions in the terrible hour of disillusionment and disaster that is drawing near, and taking advantage of the disorganization at the close of the war, may be able to overturn the military oligarchy that rules Germany, and set up in its place that democratic form of government which is the sole guarantee of international peace.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
[graphic][subsumed]
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
« PredošláPokračovať »