J.R. Johnson

Germany and European Civilization

(November 1944)

Source: New International Vol. X No. 11, November 1944, pp. 357–361.
Transcribed: Ted Crawford.
Proofread: Einde O’Callaghan (February 2016).

The Contributions of the German Proletariat

The crucifixion of Germany proceeds, from without by the armed forces of Anglo-American-Russian imperialism and from within by German capitalism. And even while Germany is being battered to pieces the victorious United Nations are preparing further tortures and spoliation of that unhappy country. As the sponsor of a plan to destroy Germany and reduce it to the level of an agricultural country, Henry Morgenthau has earned himself an infamy which we hope will only increase from generation to generation. His retreat was but temporary. The Military Affairs Committee of the Senate appointed a sub-committee to make a report on international cartels and this committee came to a conclusion indistinguishable from Morgenthau’s. How much worse could be done by Attila the Hun or Hitler, his modern counterpart?

Yet the American people, in distinction from their rulers, have changed during the last quarter of a century. In 1917 they chased dachshunds in the streets, refused to listen to the music of Beethoven and Wagner, and were unable to digest frankfurters unless they were called by some other name. To-day that hysteria does not exist. It is reasonable to say that if a revolution in Germany were to achieve a spectacular overthrow of Nazi power and particularly of Nazi personnel, then in America at any rate it would be extremely difficult for the ruling class to maintain, far less to stimulate, any excessive hostility to the German people as a whole. On account of this, during the last few months, with a unanimity which could not possibly be spontaneous, the press and all public writers and speakers have been impressing the people with the idea that the German generals and the fascists are now busily engaged in preparing a third world war. Arguments from history and social psychology have faded into the background. The main emphasis is that German industry must be destroyed as the sole means of insuring that international peace which the people demand in return for the sacrifices of the war. Even President Roosevelt, in his pre-election speech to the Foreign Policy Association, found it necessary to disclaim any hostility to the Germans as a people.

Only two currents of thought attempt consistently to preach this primitive doctrine. One bears the name of Vansittart, the English monomaniac, who up to the V-1 bombings at least was no influential force in Britain, despite all appearances to the contrary. The other mortal enemy of Germans as Germans is Stalinism. Nowhere among the United Nations is the propaganda against Germany so thorough, so all-embracing, so many-sided, so contradictory and so brazen as are the productions of the government in the Kremlin and its satellites abroad. To take advantage of a popular uprising in Germany and to insure that it be controlled and suppressed, the Kremlin formed, advertised and today has in reserve the Free German Committee. At the same time, through a pack of journalists with Ilya Ehrenburg at their head, the rulers of Russia vilify the whole German nation. They assert that the masses of the German people have degenerated into Fritzes and Gretchens; label them asses, fools, etc.; and declare publicly that if a proletarian revolution should break out in Germany and the revolutionary workers came to greet the “Red” Army, they would be the first ones to be shot down. But recognizing the dangers of a vacuum and being as unscrupulous as Goebbels himself, they have also embarked on a rewriting of the history of Germany, aiming to prove the imperative necessity for the destruction of what they call “Reactionary Prussianism.” This is the title of a pamphlet of 60 pages prepared by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute and recently published in an English translation by the International Publishers of New York. The title page claims that the authors are Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and the book consists of some 89 quotations, most of these from the books of Marx and Engels. These quotations are strung together on the theme of the reactionary characteristics of what is loosely called the Prussian reaction. The history of Germany is traced from the Peasant Revolts in the 16th century to the present day. There is a great parade of historical materialism. But nevertheless from the very beginning we get passages like this: “Had the relation of social forces in Germany been different, had the German people possessed more revolutionary energy and initiative, they might have utilized the defeat of Jena as the starting point of a nation-wide revolutionary movement for the foundation of a united and free Germany. But the German people did not take that road ...” (p. 26) Here, as in other passages, the point is made that the German people, the great masses of the people, have always been helpless before German reaction.

We attempt here a brief outline of what this shamelessly mendacious pamphlet calls “Distinctive Features of the Historical Development of Germany.” This has to be done, first of all, to destroy the malicious influence of these and other Stalinist publications. But at the same time we shall attempt to provide some historical background for understanding the past contributions of Germany to European civilization and the rôle of the German proletariat in modern Europe.

The German Bourgeoisie and European Civilization

Marx and Engels always claimed that the social and political characteristics of modern Germany have their root in the historical circumstances surrounding the Reformation and the Peasant Wars. The British revolution in the 17th Century was able to establish the bourgeoisie without too much cost to the national unity. The French revolution coming a century later cut deeper national divisions than the British. The Russian revolution of the 20th century destroyed the landlords and capitalists of Russia completely. The first German revolution was historically too early. Coming when it did it could only place in power the petty princes and thus establish them as rulers over a divided people without accelerating the development of the country. This has nothing whatsoever to do with lack of initiative or energy on the part of the masses of the German people. The low economic level and the lack of unification were both cause and result of the terrible fate of Germany during the Thirty Years War which ended in 1648 and, according to Engels, “removed Germany from the politically active nations of Europe for two hundred years.”

Two hundred years from 1648 brings us to 1848, the year of the first modern revolution in Germany. We do not propose here to make any analysis of the backwardness, the cowardice and the perfidy of the German bourgeoisie during that revolution and since. These characteristics and their causes have been repeatedly analysed by Marxists. We have to point out, however, that the great Marxists always emphasized that the very economic and political backwardness of Germany enabled it to make great contributions to European thought which have passed into the very foundations of European and world civilization. Calvin’s doctrines which had played so great a part in the development of capitalism were drawn by Calvin from Luther. Engels has taught us that despite all the victories of British arms over the French, the 18th century was the French century, owing to the development in philosophy and social knowledge and analysis which we know today as the Enlightenment. The pronouncement is all the more valuable, coming from one of the founders of historical materialism with its emphasis on the materialist basis of society. But the ideas of the Enlightenment came from Leibnitz, the German philosopher, whose genius made him the most powerful source of ideas in the philosophy, science and mathematics of his time, and a man whose only peers in European history are Aristotle, Kant, Hegel and Marx. [1] The next and greatest climax of modern bourgeois thought not only began but was carried to perfection in Germany itself. For Engels the chief glory of Germany was the creation of the classical philosophy. modern thought came of age with Kant. From the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 through Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, we have the creation and development of that intellectual structure on which modern society still lives whether it knows it or not.

The German Workers and Social Theory

For Marx, and Engels philosophy was no avocation of the study but a living contribution to the development of human society. With all their contempt and scorn for the philistinism of the German bourgeois, they were acutely conscious of what Germany had contributed to European civilization between 1780 and 1830. Without German philosophy no Marxism. The German classical philosophy had not only culminated in the discovery of the dialectic. Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel had posed all questions: the irrationality of the competitive society, the relation of the individual to the community; the rôle of the state. Fichte had written a whole book to prove the necessity of a state-controlled benevolent economy as the only solution to the ills of society. Precisely because they were solving problems in thought and not in material life they penetrated boldly to the extreme possibilities of bourgeois society and (like Ricardo in political economy) their mistakes were the mistakes of genius which could not get out of its bourgeois skin. Marx was speaking the simplest truth when he said that with Hegel philosophy had come to an end. But he went on to say that the German proletariat was the heir to the classical philosophy of Germany, that the truth of philosophy was in the proletariat and the truth of the proletariat was in philosophy. The very feebleness of Germany in practice had created its greatness in theory. Germany, hitherto so great in theory, would now be great in theory and practice. But such a combination of theory and practice could be realized only by the proletariat.

Thus early, in 1848, Marx drew conclusions whose significance as with so much of that early work, can be appreciated only today as bourgeois society goes to its doom. For him the theoretical power of Germany was not a matter of historical record. Not at all. The theoretical gifts of the German people would pass to the German proletariat. Fifty years later Engels in his Ludwig Feuerbach confirmed this early judgment.

We do not propose to argue here about the truth or falsity of any or all of these ideas which together form Marx’s integrated picture of world development. What we wish to point out first of all is that the doctrine is not only international but, in one sense, peculiarly German. Not since the classical philosophy of Germany has any comprehensive social theory had the success and the influence upon modern thought as the ideas associated with the name of Marx. From at least the time of the publication of Capital to the present day, all political and social thought, particularly in Europe, have revolved around the ideas of Marxism. And these ideas were nourished, developed, propagated and defended above all by the German proletariat. Not only the revolutionary movement but modern thought owes the German workers a debt which it can never repay. So far has Marxism penetrated into the thought of the time that today the ideas of hundreds of thousands of intellectuals, who consider themselves anti-Marxists, have validity only to the extent that they have borrowed or unconsciously assimilated the very ideas which they oppose. Let us give only two examples of the inexhaustible vitality of the doctrines for which the modern world owes so much to the proletariat of Germany.

Since Marx’s strict economic theory of surplus value was promulgated in the middle of the last century, how many schools of political economy have come and gone? All of them differed on every conceivable point except on the fundamental opposition to Marx’s doctrines. Yet with the collapse of capitalist economy in 1929 these learned men suddenly awoke to the fact that their complicated equations, their theory of marginal utility, their elaborate price structures, their speculations as to consumer desires and demands – all had little relation to the harsh realities of capitalist production. Today we have reached the stage where one of the followers of the dominant school of Keynes can write as follows:

“The orthodox economists have been much preoccupied with elegant elaborations of minor problems, which distract the attention of their pupils from the uncongenial realities of the modern world, and the development of abstract argument has run far ahead of any possibility of empirical verification.”

Is it possible to conceive a more elegant admission of the futility and folly that has distinguished the orthodox economists, and all the more effective as it comes from one of the most distinguished practitioners of the art? (Joan Robinson.)

“Marx’s intellectual tools are far cruder, but his sense of reality is far stronger, and his argument towers above their intricate construction in rough and gloomy grandeur.”

James T. Shotwell, Professor of History at Columbia University, Director of Economics and History, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, bourgeois of the bourgeois, writes the article on history in the most recent edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Says he:

“H.T. Buckle in the History of England (1857) was the first to work out the influences of the material world upon history. ... Ten years before Buckle published his history, Karl Marx had already formulated the ‘materialist conception of history.’ In the famous Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848, the theory was applied to show how the industrial revolution had replaced feudalism with modern conditions. But it had little hold except on socialists, until the third volume of Das Kapital was published in 1894, when its importance was borne in upon continental scholars. Since then the controversy has been almost as heated as in the days of the Reformation.”

For how many decades did the German workers study and defend historical materialism against the organized learning, ignorance and brutality of official German society? The German working class above all must take the credit when Professor Shotwell says that “the whole science of dynamic sociology rests upon the postulate of Marx.”

The German Workers and Social Practice

But great as has been the contribution of the German proletariat to modern theory, it is merely the reflection of its far greater contributions to the social life of Europe. Whereas to this day the petty-bourgeois intellectuals are blind to this, as far back as 1848 Marx had forecast not only for theory but for practice the predominant rôle of the German proletariat in the future development of Europe. The March revolution of 1848 had come and gone in Prussia and in an article in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung he made an analysis of the relationship of the March attempt to the bourgeois revolutions of England and France.

“The revolutions of 1648 and 1789 were no English and French revolutions, they were revolutions in the European style. They were not the victory of a definite class of society over the old political order; they were the proclamation of the political order for the new European society. The bourgeoisie won in them, but the victory of the bourgeoisie was at the same time the victory of a new social order, the victory of bourgeois property over feudal, of nationalism over provincialism, of competition over the guild, of partition over entailment, of the rule of property of the land over the rule of property through the land, of Enlightenment over superstition, of the family over family names, of industry over heroic sloth, of bourgeois right over medieval privilege. The revolution of 1648 was the victory of the 17th century over the 16th century, the revolution of 1789 was the victory of the 18th century over the 17th century. These revolutions express more the necessities of the world of the time than of the section of the world in which they occurred, England and France.

“Of the Prussian March revolution nothing of all this.”

The German bourgeoisie, thus pitilessly exposed a hundred years ago, has been the enemy of civilization in Europe to this very day. Facing the proletarian revolution of Europe in 1848, it hastened to compromise with the Gentian aristocracy and has compromised until it capitulated to a still worse monster, Fascism. It is true that starting late, it was able to utilize the highest developments of modern technology and science in order to build an industry of an organizational and technical competence which before long made it the first in Europe. Doubtless in so doing it was assisted by that training in philosophy which made the Germans, according to Engels, the most theoretical people in Europe. But every stage of industrial progress and development by German capital brought necessarily the development of the German proletariat, a proletariat, which, in theory and organization, showed the old German mastery in a superior foam with additional qualities of its own. The bourgeoisie in its fear of this formidable rival was ready to leave the solution of social and political problems in the gauntleted hands of the German Junkers and the German monarchy. Thus it was the Junkers who unified Germany as a result of the French-Prussian War in 1870 and the wars which preceded it. It was this class which organized the modern German state and the modern bureaucracy. It was this class which organized the Germany army, which was as imperative a necessity as was the Navy for Britain. And the Junkers used these opportunities to participate in the industrial development of Germany so that they maintained not only social and political power but had organic ties with the sources of capitalist wealth in Germany. This combination of bourgeoisie, Junkers and monarchy for decades cut a great figure in the world, but except for those who cannot see the world except through bourgeois spectacles, the German workers were as infinitely superior to it in the struggle for social progress as it was in social theory. Every social and political forward step made in Germany for the past sixty years was the result either of action by the German proletariat or fear of it. Only hypocrites and criminals can question the fitness of the German proletariat for self-rule.

In 1865 the German working class under the leadership of Lassalle gave Europe its first example of a modern mass political organization of the working class with aims and methods opposed to the theory, aims and methods of the bourgeoisie. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, for the first time in European history, the workers of Germany gave organized resistance to imperialist plunder of a defeated enemy.

From 1889 to 1914 the German Social-Democracy was the cornerstone of the Second International. With all their faults, Kautsky, Bernstein, Bebel, Liebknecht and the leaders of the German-Social Democracy fought the reactionary ideas of the German bourgeoisie and Prussianism on every field, Prussian militarism, the obscurantism and anti-democratic ideas and practices of the Prussian Junkers, the exploitation of the German workers, the imperialist expansion of Germany. To this day, many of the “educated” can see in the German labor movement only an organization of workers to struggle for higher wages. Read their history books and see how superficially they treat what was the most vital and progressive social force in European society. The struggle for collective bargaining, for social legislation, for popular education, for unrestricted parliamentary democracy, for universal suffrage, for freedom of press and assembly, for the right of organization, for religious toleration, for improvement of wages and working conditions – the Social-Democracy of Germany year after year fought an unceasing battle against the reactionary rulers of Germany. Theirs, too, was the struggle for a European social order. No European working class contributed so conscientiously and wholeheartedly to the spread of democratic and socialist ideas to every corner of the European continent. The Austrian Social-Democracy, the Social-Democratic Party of Russia, the fighters for Polish independence – all sought and were generously given theoretical inspiration and financial and organizational assistance from the German Social-Democracy. Under German guidance the European working class received its first great lessons in the organized opposition to the imperialism of the Great Powers which was to culminate in World War I. It is true that at the critical moment, for historical reasons with which we are all familiar, the German Social-Democracy failed. But when we look back at the history of Europe in the twenty-five years between 1889 and 1914, we can see that no social force exercised so powerful and so beneficent an influence toward what are recognized today as the indispensable basis for civilized life as the German Social-Democracy. Think for a moment of this immense work for democracy and the social development of a great continent and then savor the colossal impertinence of petty scribblers like Samuel Grafton, Edgar Mowrer, and all the other two-by-four liberals who sit at their typewriters and solemnly discuss the pros and cons of a “hard” or a “soft” peace for Germany, pontificate on how the Germans can be “educated” for democracy and even come to the conclusion sometimes that this is possible. We hope that the time will not be far distant when these gentlemen will be called to account.

If the Russian Revolution first broke through the imperialist ring in 1917, it was the German proletariat which followed in 1918 and brought the first imperialist war to a close. Between 1918 and 1933 the organized proletariat of Europe was divided into two groups, one following the Communist International, the other supporting the 2nd International. There can be differences of opinion between Marxists and bourgeois writers as to the historical causes of this division. The fact remains that the German workers in their support of the one and of the other of these two organizations were expressing their opposition to the reaction and the historical bankruptcy of the German bourgeoisie in part and the European bourgeoisie in general. To prepare for war Hitler had to turn Germany into a vast prison and train a new generation of soldiers. There can be no more convincing proof of what the German workers’ movement represented.

The Responsibility of the World Bourgeoisie

And those who today wish to crucify the German workers, what rôle have they played in this long struggle, which, with all its failures. testifies imperishably to the democratic aspirations and capacities of the German masses? As far back as 1848 Marx had historically catalogued the future course of the existing rulers of Germany. In 1918 the German proletariat failed to achieve the socialist revolution. One of the causes of its failure was the reactionary rôle played by the Entente and the counter-revolutionary use of food and relief made by the American bourgeoisie under the personal supervision of Herbert Hoover. From 1918 to the present day the European bourgeoisie, aided by the American, shared to the full the responsibility for every crime committed by the German bourgeoisie and the German Junkers. They imposed upon the German people the moral responsibility for the war of 1914 to 1918, a responsibility which war-guilt commissions and a vast number of bourgeois historians have systematically proved false. In 1918 Wilson promised the German people peace on the basis of his 14 points. When they made the revolution and brought the war to an end, most of these points were repudiated by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1923 the French bourgeoisie in pursuit of a fantastic claim for reparations invaded the Ruhr. In 1923 the German state had reached complete bankruptcy and the masses of the German people had risen to the pitch of revolutionary hostility against their rulers. Once more American imperialism intervened, with food and supplies, to head off the revolution and safeguard the interests of the German industrialists and the German Junkers with a long record of opposition to all that the German workers had stood for so long. Already it was perfectly obvious, first of all, that the economy of Europe needed an international regulation and, secondly, that the German economy in particular could no longer function except as an integral part of a European economy. Dawes Plan and Young Plan to squeeze out reparations were the only contribution that the international imperialists could make to the solution of the insoluble contradictions of the German capitalist economy.

The peaceful unification of Germany with Austria, passionately desired by both peoples and a necessary and inevitable stage in the development of the European economy and European civilization, was bitterly opposed and actually prevented by French imperialism. The German Social-Democracy (not to mention the German Communist Party which had borne the burdens and struggles of the day from 1889 to 1914 was never considered by the great powers of Europe and the United States as anything but an enemy. When Hitler came to power in 1933, David Lloyd George, who from 1916 to 1918 had led the crusade against “German militarism,” stated openly that there should be no opposition to Hitler because he was the sole barrier between the German people and Communism: these Germans, unlike the Russians, would know how to organize their communism successfully. Hitler, starting from where he did, was allowed to progress unchecked until Munich when he received the congratulations of Roosevelt. The horror they now profess at his crimes and at the martyrdom of Europe cannot wash away the blood from their hands. Since 1933, the German bourgeoisie and the German Junkers, under the leadership of Hitler and the Nazi Party have shown to what savage depths, what abrogation of civilization, European capitalism has had to descend in order to maintain its grip upon the wealth and the people of Europe.

Compare this with the record of organized labor in Germany for nearly 100 years.

All those who have directly or indirectly opposed and still oppose the coming to power of the proletariat of Germany are directly responsible for all the crimes into which German Fascism has pushed the German people. We do not minimize those crimes. There is no need to. It was the fundamental postulate of Marx as far back as 1848 that the German proletarian revolution would be not only a German revolution but a revolution for Europe as a whole and mark a decisive stage in world development. As far back as 1919 it was clear that the longer that revolution was delayed the greater would be the misery of the German people and the more abominable the crimes to which the rulers of Germany would be driven. In order to maintain the power, for which they are now historically unsuited, they were compelled to seek to bring the whole of Europe under their reactionary domination. And to prevent all possibility of the victory of the German proletariat the European bourgeoisie acquiesced in all the bravado, the impudence and the cruelty of Hitlerism. The adventure into Spain, the rape of Austria, the annexation of Czechoslovakia, they accepted all. In order to prevent the German revolution the European bourgeoisie condoned the destruction of all democratic rights in Germany and the persecution of the Jews. Before the actual outbreak of the war every success, diplomatic and material, of Hitler only showed to the imprisoned German proletariat that the rulers of the so-called democracies were in reality in league with Hitler against them. The heroic struggles of the hundreds of thousands who actively resisted Hitler received no gesture, no word of encouragement from them. And even during the course of the war to this very day, never at any time have the ruling classes of Britain, of France, or of the United States shown the slightest inclination to recognize the past history and the potential power of the great masses of the German people for the destruction of those who have so misruled Germany during the last thirty years. Not only is it so for the past period. Now that the ruling classes of Germany have been discredited by their failure in the war, the so-called democracies are preparing to take on themselves the task of the suppression of the German proletariat. By destroying Germany they get rid of a hated economic rival and put an end, as they think, to the perpetual menace of the German revolution. Thus – taking over the tasks of the Fascists, the Allied imperialists will themselves be driven along the same barbarous road as was taken by the past rulers of Germany. What future tortures are in store for Germany and Europe we do not know. But to whatever depths the European people may be driven, the responsibility of the United Nations will become ever more clear and in so doing will light up the funereal rôle that they all have played in the relentless persecution of the German workers who for so many years fought so splendidly to lead Europe along the road of civilization.

The Stalinist Contribution

This colossal crime, the projected murder of a great people, is now being aided and abetted by the Stalinists in the name of Marx and Engels. In 1914 the leaders of the German Social Democracy, in order to cover up their betrayal of the international opposition to war which they had sponsored, gathered up all the quotations of Marx and Engels against the reactionary rôle of Czarist Russia during the preceding century. The reactionary rôle of the German bourgeoisie did not then seem to them of equal importance. Today the Stalinists gather up every statement that Marx and Engels wrote against the German bourgeoisie and seek to use them against what they call Prussian reaction and the centuries-old incapacity of the German people to defeat the conservative classes. Such parallel procedures have parallel causes. From the beginning of their careers to the end, Marx and Engels were the unswerving enemies of Czarism as the greatest supporter of feudal reaction in Eastern and Central Europe. The Czarist regime was the enemy of the independence of Poland and of all the Eastern European states. It lusted after Constantinople and sought unceasingly to gain power in the Balkans. Every revolutionary movement in any part of Europe was its mortal enemy, and it rested neither day nor night in the pursuit of both its imperialist and its counter-revolutionary aims.

What do we see today? The Russian Revolution which had begun as the enemy of every principle for which Russian Czarism stood – this revolution now is so degraded that like Czarism it is the enemy of the independence of Poland, it seeks either to annex or to dominate all countries in Eastern Europe. It seeks its “sphere of influence” in the Balkans and in Persia. It misses no opportunity of maintaining differences with Turkey with its eye on the Dardanelles. Where Czarisms tood as watch-dog over feudal reaction against democracy, today Stalinism stands as watch-dog over capitalist barbarism against socialism. Hence its bitterly unremitting campaign against the German workers as Fritzes and Gretchens, incapable for centuries of defeating German reaction. Nothing said of the German people by the Fascist liars themselves approaches the grossness, the shamelessness and the historical reaction of this interpretation of the history of Germany and the German working people.

They think, these powers, that they will be able to govern Europe, first with armed forces and then with satellites trained like lap-dogs to fetch and carry at the bidding of their masters. They delude themselves. Murder, imprison, corrupt, degrade a continent – that they can do, but only for a time. They cannot enslave it. The people of Europe have passed beyond the stage where they can endure slavery from the hands of any, least of all those who pushed them into the present abyss and then claimed to come as liberators.

Seventy years ago, after the bloody massacre of the Commune, Marx wrote as follows:

“That, after the most tremendous war of modern times, the conquering and the conquered hosts should fraternize for the common massacre of the proletariat – this unparalleled event does indicate, not, as Bismarck thinks, the final repression of a new society upheaving, but the crumbling into dust of bourgeois society. The highest heroic effort of which old society is still capable is national war; and this is now proved to be a mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle of classes and to be thrown aside as soon as that class struggle bursts out into civil war. Class rule is no longer able to disguise itself in a national uniform; the national governments are one as against the proletariat!”

Only a few could see it then; increasing millions are learning the lesson today.

In characterizing the International Workingmen’s Association as being but “the international bond between the most advanced working men in the various countries of the civilized world,” Marx expressed an unshakable faith.

“The soil out of which it grows is modern society itself. It cannot be stamped out by any amount of carnage. To stamp it out, the governments would have to stamp out the despotism of capital over labor – the condition of their own parasitical existence.”

The European bourgeoisie crushed the First International only to see a Second International rise in its place, rise out of the soil of modern society itself. They corrupted the Second only to see from its ruins rise a Third. To save themselves from what that represented, they had to bring Europe to the edge of destruction. In these ever recurrent, ever more Herculean efforts to free Europe from capitalism, few people have played a greater part than the Germans, from the founding of the Marxian doctrine itself and the organization of the first independent Labor Party to the terrible experiences of the last bitter years. But twelve years of Hitler cannot destroy the German proletariat which concentrates in itself the best achievements of four hundred years of German social development and nearly a hundred years of unremitting struggle in its own name and under its own banner. The German proletariat need not fear. On the day that it rises in its might and reasserts its former power, it will at one stroke tear down the imperialist structure of lies and slander and once more assume its rightful place among the European workers who owe so much to it.


1. It is not at all accidental that any half-dozen names of the master-minds of Europe would probably contain three Germans.

Last updated on 16 February 2016