From the Bourgeois to the Proletarian Revolution by Otto Ruhle-Part Two


The character, content and results of laws always correspond to the dominant economic interests of a given time, more specifically to the definitive economic interests of the ruling class. In the bourgeois epoch this class is the bourgeoisie. Parliament therefore had the task of revising old laws according to the needs of the bourgeoisie or abrogating them in favour of new laws suited to the problems of the time.

As early as the last period of the feudal epoch, a kind of parliament had already existed: the convocation of Estates. In the struggle with the estates first the nobility, later especially the world of finance and trade, to whose material aid he had to turn the prince had drawn or selected representatives of the different orders and occupations and convened them in a corporate body. But this body was only to express wishes, make suggestions, furnish opinions: this meeting of estates was not competent to enact and promulgate laws itself. Eventually a second body partly joined the assembly of estates, coming more from the people and even sometimes elected, so that a distinction was drawn between a first and second chamber (Lords and Commons). But the competences of both chambers were still very limited by the power of the princes. Real parliaments with full legislative power, proceeding from open election, everywhere formed one of the achievements of the bourgeois revolution.

As we know, the bourgeois class stood for the principle of liberalism in its state-political ideology and the principle of democracy in its state-political organisation. It was, then, for freedom and equality. But only for freedom as it saw it, namely as far as it regarded the interests of its economy of profit, and for equality only insofar as it could be expressed in paragraphs on paper, not to be confirmed and realised through equality of social conditions. Not even in dreams did it occur to them to respect and practice freedom and equality in relation to the proletariat, still less did they let the principle of brotherhood carry any weight for it.

At the same time, bourgeois society is by no means a monolithic class. Rather it contains many layers, groups and professional categories, and therefore a lot of different economic interests. The wholesaler has different interests from the retailer, the houseowner from the tenant, the tradesman from the farmer, the buyer from the seller. But all the different groups and categories want to and ought to be taken into account in the legislature. Each has more prospect of consideration the larger the total of representatives of its interests in parliament. On this account every layer or group tried to collect as many votes as possible for its candidates in parliamentary elections. To make their agitation vigorous and lasting, they combined in election associations from which the parties emerged with firmer organisations and more definite programmes. Whatever these parties called themselves, whichever programmes they put forward, whatever high and holy virtues they stood up for, whatever fine phrases and slogans they used their struggle, to the extent that it strove for political influence, was always concerned with quite definite economic interests. Thus the conservative party, which wanted the preservation (i.e. conservation) of the old traditional state form, distribution of power, and ideology, formed the rallying point for the feudal caste of big landowners. The big industrialists with an interest in the national state, who embraced the liberalism of the capitalist era, formed the party of the national liberals. The petty bourgeois, to whom freedom of opinion and equality before the law seemed achievements worth striving and being thankful for, were found in the democratic and radical parties.

At first the workers had no party of their own, for they had not yet grasped that they were a class on their own with their own interests and political aims. So they let themselves be taken in by the democrats and liberals, or even the conservatives, and formed the faithful herd of voters for the bourgeois parties. In proportion, however, as the workers' class consciousness was jolted awake and strengthened, they went over to forming their own parties and sending their own representatives to parliament, with the mission of securing for the working class as many and as large advantages as possible during the construction and completion of the bourgeois state. Thus, in the Erfurt Programme of the Social-Democratic Party, the many practical demands of the movement are laid down alongside the great, revolutionary final goal, reflecting its parliamentary life and orientation towards the immediate present. These demands had nothing to do with socialism, but derived mainly from bourgeois programmes; only they were never carried out by bourgeois parties, in fact had never been seriously wanted. It is not to be denied that the representatives of social democracy did hard and sincere work in parliament. But their effectiveness and success remained limited. For parliament is an instrument of bourgeois politics, tied to the bourgeois method of making politics, and bourgeois too in its effect. In the last analysis, the real advantage of parliamentarism accrues to the bourgeoisie.

The bourgeois, i.e. parliamentary method of carrying on politics is closely related to the bourgeois method of carrying on economics. The method is: trade and negotiate. As the bourgeois trades and negotiates goods and values in his life and office, at market and fair, in bank and stock exchange, so in parliament too he trades and negotiated the legislative sanctions and legal means for the money and material values negotiated. In parliament the representatives of each party try to extract as much as possible from the legislature for their customers, their interest group, their 'firm'. They are also in constant communication with their producers' combines, employers' associations cartels, special interest associations or trade unions, receiving from them directions, information, rules of behaviour or mandates. They are the agents, the delegates, and the business is done through speeches, bargains, haggling, dealing, deception, voting manoeuvres, compromises. The main work of parliament, then, is not even done in the large parliamentary negotiations, which are only a sort of spectacle, but in the committees which meet privately and without the mask of the conventional lie.

In the pre-revolutionary period, parliament also had its justification for the working class in that it was the means of securing for it such political and economic advantages as the power relations of any given moment allowed. But this justification was null and void the instant that the proletariat arose as a revolutionary class and advanced its claims to take over the entire state and economic power. Now there was no more negotiation, no putting up with greater or lesser advantages, no compromises,now it was all or nothing. The first revolutionary achievement of the proletariat would logically have had to be the abolition of parliament. But it could not fulfil this achievement because it was itself still organised in parties, and so bound up with organisations of a basically bourgeois character and consequently incapable of transcending bourgeois nature, i.e. bourgeois politics, economy, state order and ideology. A party needs parliamentarism, as parliament needs parties. One conditions the other, in mutual sustenance and support. The maintenance of the party means maintenance of parliament and with it the maintenance of bourgeois power.

After the model of the bourgeois state and its institutions, the party too is organised on authoritarian centralist principles. All movement in it goes in the form of commands from the top of the central committee down to the broad base of the membership. Below, the mass of the members; above, the ranks of party officials at local, regional, country and national level. The party secretaries are the NCOs, the MPs, the officers. They give the orders, issue the watchwords, make policy, are the higher dignitaries. The party apparatus, in the form of offices, newspapers, funds, mandates, gives them power to prescribe for the mass of members, which none of the latter can avoid. The officials of the central committee are, so to speak, the party Ministers; they issue decrees and instructions, interpret the decisions of party congresses and conferences, determine the use of money, distribute posts and offices according to their personal policy. Certainly the party conference is supposed to be the supreme court, but its composition, sitting, decision-taking and interpretation of its decisions are thoroughly in the hands of the highest holders of power in the party, and the zombie-like obedience typical of centralism takes care of the necessary echoes of subordination.

The concept of a party with a revolutionary character in the proletarian sense is nonsense. It can only have a revolutionary character in the bourgeois sense, and then only during the transition between feudalism and capitalism. In other words, in the interest of the bourgeoisie. During the transition between capitalism and socialism, it must fail, the more so in proportion to how revolutionary had been its expression in theory and phraseology. When the world war broke out in 1914, i.e. when the bourgeoisie of the whole world declared war on the proletariat of the whole world, the Social Democratic Party should have replied with the revolution of the proletariat of the whole world against the bourgeoisie of the whole world. But it failed, threw away the mask of world revolution, and followed bourgeois policy all along the line. The USP should have issued the call to revolution when the peace treaty of Versailles was concluded. Its bourgeois nature, however, forced it to a western instead of eastern orientation; it agitated for signing and submitting. Even the KPD, hyper-radical as its pose is, on every critical question is constrained by its bourgeois-centralist authoritarian character to serve the bourgeois politicians as soon as it comes to the crunch. It sits in parliament and carried on bourgeois politics; in the Ruhr in 1920 it negotiated with the bourgeois military; it fought on the side of Stinnes in the Ruhr action against France by means of passive resistance; it falls victim to the cult of bourgeois nationalism and fraternizes with fascists; it pushes itself into bourgeois governments in order to help further Russia's policy of capitalist construction from there. Everywhere bourgeois politics carried out with typically bourgeois means. When the SPD says it does not want a revolution, there is a certain logic in this because it, as a party, can never carry out a proletarian revolution. But when the KPD says it wants the revolution, then it takes into its programme far more than it is capable of performing, whether in ignorance of its bourgeois character or out of fraudulent demagogy.

Every bourgeois organisation is basically an administrative organisation which requires a bureaucracy in order to function. So is the party, dependent of the administrative machine served by a paid professional leadership. The leaders are administrative officials and as such belong to a bourgeois category. Leaders, i.e. officials, are petty bourgeois, not proletarians.

Most party and trade union leaders were once workers, perhaps the most sound and revolutionary. But as they became officials, i.e. leaders, agents and makers of business, they learned to trade and negotiate, to handle documents and cash; they undertook mandates, began to operate within the great bourgeois organism with the aid of their organisational apparatus. To whom God gives office, he also gives understanding. Anyone who is leader in a bourgeois organisation, including parties and trade unions, does so not on the strength of his intellectual qualifications, his insight and excellence, his courage and character, but he is leader on the strength of the organisational apparatus, which is in his hands, at his disposal, endowing him with competence. He owes his leadership role to the authority arising from the position he occupies in the organisational mechanism. Thus the party secretary obtains his power from the office in which all the threads of the administration converge, from the paper work of which he alone has exact knowledge; the editor obtains his from the newspaper which he has in his intellectual power and uses as his instrument; the treasurer from the funds he manages; the MP from the mandate which gives him an inside view of the apparatus of government denied to ordinary mortals. An official of the central leadership may be much more limited and mediocre than an under-official, and yet his influence and power are greater, exactly as an NCO can be smarter than a Colonel or General without having the great authority of these officers. Ebert is certainly not the ablest mind in his party, yet it has installed him in the highest office it has to give; he is certainly not the ablest mind in the government either but why does he occupy that position? Not on the basis of his personal qualifications but as the random representative of his party, a centralist, authoritarian organisation, in which he has climbed to the highest rung of the ladder. And why does the bourgeoisie put up with this Ebert? Because the bourgeois method of his politics has brought him to this position and because he conducts himself politically throughout as the advocate and counsel of these bourgeois politics. A bourgeois leader in this position would be neither better nor worse than he.

Here a word must be said about leadership in general.

There will no doubt always be people who in their knowledge, their experiences, their ability, their character are superior to others whom they will influence, advise, stimulate in struggle, carry away with them, lead. And so there will always be leaders in this sense. A good thing too, for cleverness, integrity of character and ability should dominate, not stupidity, coarseness and weakness. Anyone who, in his rejection of the paid professional leadership that gets its authority from the organisational apparatus, goes so far as to repudiate all and every leadership without considering that superiority of mind and character is a quality of leadership not to be repudiated but worthy of welcome, oversteps the mark and becomes a demagogue. That goes too for those who inveigh and rage against the intellectuals in the movement, or as has occurred even against knowledge. Naturally bourgeois knowledge is always suspect and usually questionable, bourgeois intellectuals are always an abomination in the workers' movement, which they misuse, lead astray, and often enough betray to the bourgeoisie. But the achievements of bourgeois learning can be re-cast for the working class and forged into weapons, exactly as the capitalist machines will one day perform useful services for the working class. And when intellectuals in the interest of the proletariat attend to the important process of the scientific assimilation and reworking of intellectual works, they deserve recognition and thanks for it, not abuse and inculpation. In conclusion, Marx, Bakunin, Rosa Luxemburg and others were intellectuals, whose scientific labours have rendered the most valuable services to the liberation struggle of the proletariat.

The paid professional leaders of the bourgeois organisations deserve mistrust and are to be rejected as agents of a bourgeois administrative apparatus. Their bourgeois activity generates in them bourgeois living habits and a bourgeois style of thinking and feeling. Inevitably they take on the typical petty-bourgeois leadership ideology of the party and trade union apparatchniks. The secure appointment, the heightened social position, the punctually paid salary, the well-heated office, the quickly learnt routine in the carrying out of formal administrative business, engender a mentality which makes the labour official in no way distinguishable from the petty post, tax, community or state official as much in his work as in his domestic milieu. The official is for correct management of business, painstaking orderliness, smooth discharging of obligations; he hates disturbances, friction, conflicts. Nothing is so repugnant to him as chaos, therefore he opposes any sort of disorder; he combats the initiative and independence of the masses; he fears the revolution.

But the revolution comes. Suddenly it is there, rearing up. Everything is convulsed, everything turned upside down. The workers are in the streets, pressing for action. They set themselves to casting down the bourgeoisie, destroying the state, taking possession of the economy. Then a monstrous fear seizes the officials. For God's sake, is order to be transformed into disorder, peace into unrest, the correct management of business into chaos? Not that! Thus 'Vorwarts' on 8 November 1918 warned of 'agitators with no conscience' who 'had fantasies of revolution'; thus the newsletter of the trade unions combatted the 'irresponsible adventurers' and 'putschists'; thus the parliamentary party sent Scheidemann even at the last minute into the Wilhelmite Cabinet, so that 'the greatest misfortune the revolution might be avoided.' And during the revolution, wherever workers wanted to go into action they were eagerly countered every time by party and trade union officials with the call: 'Not too violent! No bloodshed! Be reasonable! Let us negotiate!'

As negotiations were resorted to, instead of grabbing the enemy and throwing him to the ground, the bourgeoisie was saved. Negotiation is after all their method of carrying on politics, and on their fighting terrain they are at their most secure. Wanting to carry on proletarian politics in the home of the bourgeoisie and with their methods means sitting down at the capitalists' table, eating and drinking with them, and betraying the interests of the proletariat. Treachery to the masses from the SPD to the most extreme of the KPD need not arise from base intention; it is simply the consequence of the bourgeois nature of every party and trade union organisation. The leaders of these parties and trade unions are in fact spiritually part of the bourgeois class, physically part of bourgeois society.

But bourgeois society is collapsing. It is more and more falling victim to ruin and decay. Its legislature is ridiculed and despised by the bourgeoisie itself. Laws on interest rates and currency are promulgated, and no-one gives a damn. Everything that not long ago was regarded as sacred church, morality, marriage, school, public opinion is exposed, soiled, made mock of, distorted into caricature. In such a time the party, too, cannot go on existing any longer; as a limb of bourgeois society it will go down with it. Only a quack would try to preserve the hand from death when the body lies dying. Hence the unending chain of party splits, disturbances, dissolutions of the collapse of the party which no executive committee, no party congress, no Second or Third International, no Kautsky and no Lenin can now stop. The hour of the parties has now come, as the hour of bourgeois society has come. They will still hold out, as guilds and companies from the middle ages have held out until today: as outlived institutions with no power to form history. A party like the SPD, which gave up all the achievements of the November uprising without a struggle, in part even wilfully played into the hands of the counter-revolution, with which it is tied up and sits in governments, has lost every justification for existence. And a party like the KPD, which is only a West European branch of Turkestan and could not maintain itself for a couple of weeks by its own strength without the rich subsidies from Moscow, has never had this justification for existence. The proletariat will transcend them both, untroubled by party discipline and the screeches of the apparatchniks, by resolutions and congress decisions. In the hour of downfall it will rescue itself from asphyxiation by strangling bourgeois power of organisation.

It will take its cause into its own hands.


What has been said about parties, party leaders and party tactics goes even more for the trade unions. In fact, they show us the typical petty-bourgeois tactics of compromise between capital and labour. The trade unions have never proclaimed the elimination of capitalism to be their goal and mission. Never have they engaged themselves in any practical way to this end. From the beginning the trade unions reckoned with the existence of capitalism as a given fact. Accepting this fact, they have engaged themselves within the framework of the capitalist economic order to fight for better wages and working conditions for the proletariat. Not, then, for abolition of the wage system, not for a fundamental rejection of the capitalist economy, not a struggle against the whole. That, said the trade unions with bourgeois logic, is the business of the political party. Therefore they declared themselves non-political; made a big thing of their neutrality, and rejected any party obligation. Their role was that of compromise, mediation, curing symptoms, prescribing palliatives. From the start their whole basic attitude was not only non-political but also non-revolutionary. They were reformist, opportunist, compromising auxiliary organs between bourgeoisie and proletariat. The trade unions grew out of the journeyman's associations of the old artisan guilds. They were filled with the spirit of the modern workers' movement when capitalism, through the great crisis of the 1860s, impressed with particular harshness on the consciousness of the proletariat the pitfalls and horrors of its system. Under this economic pressure, which greatly swelled the workers' movement throughout Europe, the first trade union congress was convened by Schweitzer and Fritzche in 1868. Fritzche characterised very aptly the trade union organisations and their duties when he explained: 'Strikes are not a means of changing the foundations of the capitalist mode of production; they are, however, a means of furthering the class consciousness of the workers, breaking through police domination and removing from today's society individual social abuses of an oppressive nature, like excessively long working time and Sunday work.' In the following period the activity of the trade unions consisted in agitating the proletariat, moving it towards co-ordination, winning it to the idea of class struggle, protecting it against the worst rigours of capitalist exploitation, and constantly grabbing momentary advantages whenever possible from the ever-changing situation between labour and capital. The entrepreneur, formerly all-powerful master of the house, soon had the strongly centralised power of the organisation against him. And the working class, heightened in consciousness of its value in the process of production by co-ordinated action, and schooled from strike to strike and conflict to conflict in the development of its fighting energy, soon constituted a factor with which capitalism had seriously to reckon in all calculations of profit.

We can never seriously think of denying the great value the trade unions have had for the proletariat as a means of struggle in the defence of workers' interests; no-one will dare to belittle or dispute the extraordinary services the trade unions have performed in advocating these interests. But all this is today, unfortunately, testimonials and claims to fame which belong to the past.

In the struggle between capital and labour the entrepreneurs, too, very soon recognised the value of organisation. To be able to confront the workers' combinations, they combined themselves into powerful associations, at first by trade categories or branches of industry. And as they had greater financial resources, had the protection and favour of public officials on their side, knew how to influence legislation and jurisdiction, and could apply the most rigorous methods of terror, harassment and contempt to any boss who did not grasp their class interests quickly enough and so did not take the required interest in the association their organisations were soon stronger, more effective and more powerful than those of the workers. The trade unions saw themselves pushed from the offensive to the defensive by the employers' associations. Struggles became more violent and bitter, were successful increasingly seldom, usually resulted in exhausting the central funds, and so needed more and more lengthy pauses for rest and recovery between the struggles. Finally it was recognised that the questionable half-successes were usually bought too dear, that the compromises (at best) resulting from the rounds of struggle could be won more cheaply if a readiness to negotiate was shown right from the start. So they approached further struggles with reduced demands, with readiness to negotiate, with the intention of making a deal. Instead of struggling openly, each side tried to out-manoeuvre the other. Offering to negotiate was no longer considered as a fault or as weakness. They were adjusted to compromise. As a rule, agreement not victory formed the conclusion of wage movements or conflicts over hours. Thus, in time, an alteration in tactics, in the method of struggle, came about all along the line.

The policy of signing labour contracts arose. On the basis of agreements and conciliation, contracts were signed in which the conditions of work were regulated in paragraphs. The contracts were binding for the whole organisation of both sides in the branch of industry for a longer or shorter period of time. In the form of a compromise, they represented a kind of truce until further notice. The boss gained significant advantages through the conclusion of labour contracts: he could make more accurate business calculations for the duration of the contract; he could sue in a bourgeois court for compliance with the terms of contract; could reckon with a certain stability in his management and rate of profit; and, above all, he could concentrate his strength in greater peace for years in order to put that much more pressure on the work-force when the next contract was being concluded. In contrast to the boss, the worker only got disadvantages from the labour contract: bound by the contract for long periods, he was unable to make the most of favourable opportunities as they arose to improve his position; his class consciousness and will to struggle were lulled with time, and he was conditioned to inactivity; so fell more and more into the atmosphere, fatal for the class struggle, of 'harmony between capital and labour' and 'community of interests between work-giver and work-taker'; thus succumbed completely to petty-bourgeois hopeless opportunism, which lives from hand to mouth and makes even the most practical reforms and 'positive achievements' more dubious and worthless the longer it goes on; and in the end becomes entirely the duped victim of a narrow-minded, circumscribed, and often unscrupulous clique of officials and leaders whose main interest has long since been not the good of the worker but the securing of their administrative positions. In fact, as the policy of labour contracts became predominant, the worker's participation in the life of the unions grew more dormant; meetings were sparsely attended, participation in elections fell off sharply, dues had to be collected almost by force, terror in the factories got the upper hand along with the bureaucratisation of the administrative apparatus both means to maintain the existence of the organisation, which had become an end in itself. The introduction of national contracts for large categories of workers effected an even greater increase in centralism and the power of officials and at the same time, too, an ever-growing split between leaders and masses, greater alienation of the organisation from its original character as a means of struggle, and from the objective of struggle, and deeper degradation of the workers into insignificant, will-less puppets, only paying dues and carrying out instructions, in the hands of the association's bureaucracy.

Another factor was added. In order to chain the worker to the organisation through all his interests, which derive from his permanent situation next to the bread line, the unions developed an extensive and complicated system of insurance, carrying out a sort of practical social policy. Apparently for the benefit of the worker, certainly as his expense. There is insurance against sickness, death, unemployment, moving and travelling to a new job; a whole social welfare apparatus with little plasters and powders and all sorts of palliatives for proletarian misery. The worker collects insurance policy after insurance policy, pays premium after premium, develops an interest in the liquidity of the union treasury, and waits for the opportunity to call on its help. Instead of thinking about the great struggle, he gets lost in calculations over pennies. He is strengthened and maintained in his petty-bourgeois way of thinking; he gets bogged down, to the disadvantage of his proletarian emancipation, in the constraints and narrow-mindedness of the petty-bourgeois concept of life, which cannot give anything without asking what is to be had in exchange; gets used to seeing the value of organisation in the random and paltry material advantages of the moment, instead of holding his sights on the great goal, freely willed and selflessly fought for the liberation of his class. In this way the class struggle character of the organisation is systematically undermined and the class consciousness of the proletarian irretrievably destroyed or devastated. Into the bargain the poor devil carries on his back the costs of a system of social benefits and welfare which basically the state should pay out of the wealth of society as a whole, lightening the burden on the financially weak.

Thus the trade unions have become, over time, organs of petty-bourgeois social quackery, whose value to the worker has shrunk to nothing anyway, since under pressure of the devaluation of money and the economic misery the solvency of all welfare funds has sunk to nil. But more than this: in logical consistency with their tendency toward community of interests between capital and labour, the trade unions have developed into auxiliary organs of bourgeois-capitalist economic interests, and so of exploitation and profitmaking. They have become the most loyal shield-bearers of the bourgeois class, the most reliable protective troops for the capitalist money-bag. At the outbreak of war they came out in favour of the duty of national defence without a moment's hesitation, made bourgeois war policy their own, recognised the civil peace, subscribed to the war loan, preached the imperative of endurance, helped to enact the law on auxiliary service, and frenziedly suppressed every movement of sabotage or revolt in the weapons and munitions industry. At the outbreak of the November Revolution they protected the Kaiser's government, flung themselves against the revolutionary masses, allied themselves with big business in a working association, let themselves be bribed with offices, honours and incomes in industry and in the state, clubbed down all strikes and uprisings in unity with police and military, and thus shamelessly and brutally betrayed the vital interests of the proletariat to its sworn enemy. In the building up of capitalism after the war, in the re-enslavement of the masses through capital organised in trusts and connected internationally, in the Stinnes-isation of the German economy, in the struggles over Upper Silesia and the Ruhr, in the retrenchment of the 8-hour day, the demobilization orders, the forced economy, in the elimination of the workers' councils, the factory committees, control commissions, etc., during the terror against syndicalists, unionists, anarchists always and everywhere they stood ready to help at the side of capital, as a praetorian guard ready for the lowest and most shameful deed. Always against the interests of the proletariat, against the progress of the revolution, the liberation and autonomy of the working class, they used and use the far greater part of all accretions to funds to secure and materially provide for their existence as boss-men and parasites, which as they well know stands and falls with the existence of the trade union organisation that they have falsified from a weapon for the workers into a weapon against the workers.

Wanting to revolutionise these trade unions is a ludicrous undertaking, because quite impossible to carry out and hopeless. This 'revolutionising' amounts to either a simple change of personnel, changing absolutely nothing in the system but maximally extending the centre of infection, or else it must consist in removing from the trade unions centralism, contract-signing, the professional leadership, the insurance funds, the spirit of compromise. . . .What is left then? A hollow nothing!

As long as the trade unions still exist, they will remain what they are: the most genuine and efficient of all the White Guards of the bosses, to whom German capital in particular owes a greater debt of gratitude than to all the guards of Noske and Hitler put together.

Such generally harmful, counter-revolutionary institutions, inimical to the workers, can only be destroyed, annihilated, exterminated.


The German working class, caught in the chains of its counter-revolutionary organisations and blinded by the phraseology of the petty-bourgeois way of thinking, has once again rescued the bourgeoisie of its country in situations where its existence was at stake; it has brought it to safety on its strong shoulders, out of the dangers of the World War and the November Revolution.

Then the bourgeoisie installed itself in the saddle again, to ride more boldly and brutally than ever over the bodies and heads of its rescuers. Although laden with unheard-of wealth, which it looted meanwhile, it is still gripped by anxiety and terror: it has looked death in the face and stood close to the abyss of its destruction.

Thus the German bourgeoisie in 1924 is no longer the one it was in 1914. For even German capitalism has become another. It has left the national phase of its development and has entered the international phase. This change and progression is connected with the outcome of the World War.

If the World War originated in the drive to expansion of all the capitalist states and had the aim of placing the whole world under the dictatorship of one of these capitalist states or combination of states, so the result of the World War was, for the power of German capital, the miscarrying of this plan and the painful price of renouncing for the future its independent existence and letting itself be incorporated into the association of interests of the conquering combine.

The forces of German capital are represented in the first place by heavy industry. Germany is rich in coal but lacking in ore. On this account, the daily morning and evening prayer of the Stinnes and their like was already, decades ago: Dear God, give us a victorious war with France so that we can gain possession of the rich ore deposits of Briey and Longuy. As, on the other side, the French capitalists implore their Lord God, in view of the scarcity of coal in their country, for the rich coal treasures of the Ruhr region. Ore and coal, then, also acted in the determining role in the World War, especially in the struggle between France and Germany after world domination had showed itself to both as an illusion.

The treaty of Versailles brought the French capitalists the Saar region; but they remained discontented, for they claim the Ruhr region as before. The mining industry, massively strengthened in the Comite de Forges, asserts that it cannot fulfil its economic task without the Ruhr, especially as many of its plants and factories in Northern France had been destroyed by the German warfare and rendered useless for years to come. Since 1918 it has pressed the French government into the military invasion of the Ruhr and finally achieved its occupation. German heavy industry was desperate. Indeed their slogan also ran: Ore and coal belong together. But they wanted the fulfilling of the slogan in their favour. Now that it was happening in favour of the Comit de Forges, they summoned the German government, the German nation, the whole seething spirit of the German people to resistance. It was useless; German heavy industry had to surrender to French capital through treaties, for coal will gravitate to iron, and the greater right is with the stronger.

But still another economic power stands in the wings of the world political theatre: petroleum.

The victory of the Entente in the World War was in the last analysis a victory of the superior war technology of America. For the first time oil triumphed over coal for the heating of the submarines and ships, of the aircraft, motors, tanks, etc., was accomplished with oil and by a technology which had undergone especially high development in America and opposite which the German technology was backward. After the ending of the World War, the most pressing imperative for America, if it did not want to lose again the hegemony won over world economic domains, was to bring the oil production of the world into its hands in order to thus monopolise the guarantees of its ascendancy.

The richest oil field lie in Asia Minor (Mossul) and belong to the zone of the English protectorate; the way to them leads over Europe. American oil capital began very quickly to secure this path for itself. Starting from France it pressed on by courtesy of the gesture of the French statesman or the bayonet of the French military towards Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, as far as Turkey. The war between Greece and Turkey, the revolution in Bulgaria, the Lausanne talks, the Balkan incidents, the military convention between France and the little Entente, etc., are more or less connected to the perpetual striving of American oil capital to procure for itself a large base of operations for the confrontation which must follow sooner or later in the interest of world monopoly over oil with the competitors, England and Russia. Just as the oil trust has been at work for decades in Mexico to obtain dominion over the Mexican oil fields through a chain of political shocks, putsches, revolts and revolutions, so it also leaves no stone unturned in Europe in order to take possession of the approaches to the oil districts of Asia Minor, against every competitor and every opposition. Germany represented the only gap in the path. As the endeavours to detach South Germany from North Germany and bring it under French overlordship did not lead to the goal in spite of the enormous sums made ready for the financing of the Bavarian fascist movement and anti-state conspiracy and because the interests of New York clashed here with the interests of Rome, oil capital applied other tactics. Supported by the depreciation of money consequent on inflation and certain stock-exchange manoeuvres, it bought up one economic combine after another and thus gradually brought the entire power of German capital under its control. When the Stinnes combine, for which the proffered quota of shared profits was not high enough, offered resistance and opposed its conversion into the mere appendage of an international community of exploitative interests, force was resorted to. The military occupation of the Ruhr meant the fulfilment of long-cherished wishes of oil capital just as much as it was a deed after the heart of the French mining industrialists.

Meanwhile the German capitalist class has recognised that it too was able to benefit considerably from its dependence on Entente and world capital. Certainly it was pledged by treaties to high payments which would severely curtail its rate of profit, but in return the German proletariat was handed over to it, completely defenceless, for unrestrained exploitation. It enjoys the advantages of tax concessions under the favour of a plutocratic fiscal legislature; has thrown away all the burdens and fetters which, however insignificant they might be, had been put into practice in recent years to lessen social conflict in the interest of the proletariat; above all it is again in full possession of the reactionary power, as in its best times under the Wilhelmite regime. It has secured its position with the 10-hour day, starvation wages, the gold standard swindle, martial law, and military dictatorship.

Germany has become a colony of the Entente. The German workers are the enslaved natives. The German entrepreneurs represent the privileged caste of slave-owners, who take so great a part in the extorted and ill-gotten gains which they have to pay over to foreign high finance that a sumptuous life-style is possible for them. As the economic, so also the political power has gone over completely into the hands of big capital. The 'shop stewards' and delegates of the leading industry sit in the government, manage high public office or hold in their hands the strings on which the current party and government puppets hang. When in November 1923 the establishing of a Directory was planned, Herr Minoux, the right hand of Stinnes, was considered quite generally and as a matter of course (as already mentioned) as the coming man. Whether in the end Minoux or Stresemann or Schlacht, a representative of big capital, of the industrial and banking world, will always stand at the head and have the reins of government in his hands. The parliament is barred from co-determination by Enabling Acts or is faced with accomplished facts; its only remaining value is as a decorative exhibition which is necessary to the appearance of a republic. The preponderance of all the big decisions lies not with it, not with the government, but with the banks and employers' combines, the state economic council, the small circle of influential pillars of the economy. It becomes increasingly obvious in society as a whole that as the economic factor stands in the foreground, the political moves more and more into the second line.

This phenomenon can perhaps be designated as an Americanisation of politics, because it first arose in the country of the greatest lords of capital and is typical of the way in which the trust magnates and bank potentates are accustomed to making their politics. The undisguised domination of the money-bag, veiled with no romance, excused by no ethic, sanctioned by no diplomacy, justified by no parliamentary phrase the whole direct, brutal power-politics of the economic dictators, the Stinnes-isation of politics that is the characteristic sign of the last phase into which German capitalism of the post-war period has been hurled, the phase of inter-nationality.

From The Bourgois To The Proletarian Revolution 3

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