zaterdag 8 september 2012
The Cause of the Nation (Part 3/4)
From communism without fatherland to national-communism - the history of a German liberation movement
The Schlageter course
The revolutionary wing of the German social democracy was not at all opposed to the patriot ideas of the SPD, but they didn’t want to follow the incorporated course of reconciling national and class interests. Already during the discussion of 1907, the later founder of the Spartakusbund and KPD Clara Zetkin had developed the basis elements of a "revolutionary nationalism", with which the KPD would counter the growing influence of the national-fascist movement in the Weimar republic. In her essay "Our Patriotism" she stated that it was "reserved for the proletarian class struggle to shape the fatherland and its culture from the monopoly of a minority into a homeland (heimat) and possession for all. Because even for the so-called "people without fatherland" their nationality is valuable and their fatherland sacred."
But nonetheless "their patriotism is essentially different from that of the propertied class". "The patriotism of the bourgeoisie and nobility is reactionary ... The patriotism of the proletariat is revolutionary", because "it wants to break the chains of class domination in which the fatherland is caught."
Here for the first time, in 1930, the popular thesis of the "two nations" was formulated by KPD leader Ernst Thälman" - "The nation of the rich and the nation of the poor, the nation of those who starve and the nation of those who live in abundance" - according to which not only the class domination of the bourgeoisie and bourgeois nation were synonymous to each other, also the class struggle and national liberation were synonymous to each other for those who belong to "the nation of the poor."
The term "revolutionary fatherland" appeared for the first time in the political course of the KPD, when in 1923 French troops marched into the Ruhr area, because the German coal-barons didn’t meet their obligations to the Diktat of Versailles. The national outrage that followed the Entente-occupier placed the KPD for a dilemma:
On the one hand they saw that the German bourgeoisie had put her bets on nationalist mobilisation to undermine the payments for the Versailles treaty; on the other hand the KPD tried to use the nationalist tidal wave for a revolutionary subversion of the regime of chancellor Cuno. In the slogan “Schlagt Cuno an der Spree – Poincaré an der Ruhr!” They made their goal clear to expel the French troops from Rhein and Ruhr, while at the same time bringing down the reichs-goverment in Berlin.
In principle the KPD acknowledged the legitimacy of "national resistance" (in all her facets), like a KPD orator put it on the 8th Party congress in 1923:
"As a class that is aware of the fact that she forms the foundation of the nation, that she represents tomorrow, the German worker will keep his national dignity high against the enemy capitalists, like he keeps his proletarian dignity high against the German capitalists."
Essentially it was about a struggle for mass-influence, which was waged with the goal to connect the question of national liberation with the question of social liberation.
Paul Böttcher, a KPD delegate at the Kommunistische Internationale (Komintern), justly recognized (in his answer to the fear of some in the EKKI, that a mass mobilisation would only be beneficial for the German chauvinists):
"If the German Party in the centre of this accumulation of forces in the Ruhr area would have practiced nihilism in regard to the national question, she would have defeated herself in a catastrophic annihilation."
“Nihilism in regard to the national question" - was for the first time used to publicly define the abstract internationalist and sterile anti-national politics of the former KPD-leadership of Paul Lévy, who’d put the KPD in a disastrous isolation. This was also an indication that the national-revolutionary course was under constant threat of sabotage by sectarian elements from the so-called "leftwing opposition". These problems were mentioned in a legendary speech by Karl Radek before the EKKI in Moscow (20 June 1923), later known as the historically Schlageter-speech": A tribute for the fallen Freikorps officer Leo Schlageter who fell for the cause of the nation, and wanted to subjectively do the right thing - serving the German people - but objectively had done the wrong thing: sacrificing his blood as a fascist for the wrong cause. This speech can till this present day be regarded as a high stand of national-revolutionary politics because it testified of a rock solid belief of the leftwing in a objectively justified, but subjectively misguided rebellion against the social relations, a rebellion that merely had to be directed in different ways:
"We are convinced that the big majority of the nationalist masses exists of honest and convinced people, who are misguided and don’t understand that not just the Entente is the enemy." (KPD Central, May 1923)
The means to achieve this was giving the term nationalism a positive content:
"The cause of the people made into the cause of the nation, makes the cause of the nation the cause of the people!" (Karl Radek)
The Schlageter-course didn’t just start a long and intensive rapprochement between KPD cadres and Karl Radek's national-revolutionaries, but also of national-revolutionary agitation from the KPD. In May 1923 the KPD central published a call out titled: "Gone with the government of national shame and peoples betrayal!” in which was claimed that the capitalists didn’t put Germany first, but profit.
With this the nation became a proletarian category, in which the organisation of the exploitation relations along the lines of the national State had no other goal then making maximal profit, which equalled betrayal against "the cause of the nation".
In publications of the KPD it was emphasized that the goal should be the "national liberation of Germany". This could only be realized by the working class, because the German bourgeoisie was "incapable to defend the nation against French imperialism." (June 1923) The KPD called upon the working class to "make themselves leader of the national struggle for liberation to win over the petty bourgeoisie". (August 1923) Next to the "social outrage" of the working masses the "humiliated national sense" also showed to be a revolutionary impulse. The climax of the national-revolutionary agitation was formed in October 1923 with a KPD motion in the Reichstag to bring Hugo Stinnes and other monopoly-capitalists before court for high treason, because Stinnes and co. had extradited the German economy and German working class to French imperialism.
While German communists were mobilising the masses against French imperialism, Komintern economist Eugen Varga developed the theory of Germany as an "industrial colony." The by the Entente-imperialism defeated Reich was because of the Diktat of Versailles as "fremdbestimmt" (controlled by foreign powers) and thus not-imperialist.
Varga in an explanation:
"The most conflicting is the situation of Germany. Her economy shows all signs of imperialism: but she's disarmed, robbed of its colonies, is under foreign control and must pay severe payments."
The German worker had to labour for English and French imperialism under direct control of German fiduciaries, who got a share of the profit from their foreign superiors. Germany was fallen to the level of a "semi-colony", like Arkady Maslow of the KPD central formulated.
The German worker had to bear a double burden - the capitalist accumulation and the reparations of the Versailles treaty. Because of this Germany had become an oppressed nation in a Leninist sense. On this foundations the KPD published her thesis in 1923, in which they claimed to be "the only national Party of Germany" who "had made the Soviet star the sign of national liberation". Here the connection between the national and social liberation struggle was conclusively established. This later on became a determinative for the programmatic declaration of the KPD Central Committee about the national and social liberation of Germany in 1930:
"The struggle for the liberation of Germany is inextricably linked to the struggle for national liberation. The Party of the dictatorship of the proletariat becomes the Party of national salvation. And because we of the KPD struggle for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, we at the same time take upon us the obligation to fight for the unification of the Rhine and Ruhr area that was torn by the French, of Bavaria that was cut-off the Reich, to the by Poland threatened East-Prussia with the by Von Seeckt enslaved Northern- and Middle-Germany into a new German empire, the empire of the worker, the free soviet Germany."
The program of national and social liberation of 1930
Because the communists presented themselves as the representatives of the nation and the people - minus the 10% capitalists and "parasites" - the political primate explicitly became a national-revolutionary aspect, in which the social-revolutionary - the pure class agitation - was put in the background:
"The KPD is the only Party that has the right to claim that they uphold the protection of the nation. The 90% of the working people embody the nation and we fight for their interests."
(Ernst Thälmann in 1925)
The "Program on the national and social liberation of Germany", with which the KPD in 1930 went into the elections for the Reichstag, (again) referred to the national-revolutionary agitation on a moment in which it became clear that the national-socialists could count on a big onrush. Still it wasn’t to be interpreted as a (exclusively) tactical manoeuvre, in the sense that they wanted to tie on into the conscience of the Nazi-proletarians (Naziprolets). The KPD leadership acknowledged the national outrage as principally justifiable and merely suggested that the "national-fascists" (Ernst Thälmann - national-socialist, SDAP) were not really "national", but only betrayed the "cause of the nation".
Those who in the interest of the State and German capital waged a foreign policy and made concessions while doing this, who made the exploitation by capital and State possible and who could stop the international isolation of Germany - like the SPD (social-fascists), were seen as "voluntary agents in service of French and Polish imperialism. The national-socialists (Nazi’s, NSDAP) who where proponents of a more aggressive German imperialism, were seen by the KPD as the "unfair" opponents of Versailles, because they didn’t do a serious attempt to stop the reparations, to rip Versailles apart.
The national-fascists agitated on the basis of Real politics and were scared of an open war with Entente.
In the later DDR the "Programm zur nationalen und sozialen Befreiung Deutschlands" of 1930 as "the coherent answer to the fundamental national problem of the German people, like it had developed since Germany entered the age of imperialism. It has elaborated in the spirit of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin the national role of communists in a highly developed imperialist country." (Zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, published by the sozialistische einheitspartei in Germany, Dietz Verlag Berlin 1952)
A view that is still cherished within a considerable portion of the leftwing. Not only by the DKP, Junge Welt and MLPD, Arbeiterbund für den Wiederaufbau der KPD, but also important segments of the former SED/PDS (now known as "Die Linke").
Taking in consideration the major electoral victory of the NSDAP in 1930 (8 times more votes, to 6,4 million votes) and the growth of the German nationalist block in its totality, Thälmann concluded together with the electoral victory of the KPD (2,25 to 4,5 million votes) "that the election in Germany in a way meant a peoples referendum against the Young-Plan and the Diktat of Versailles (he also counted the voted of the NSDAP in this success).”We assume that the victory of the NSDAP for a substantial part is based on those anti-capitalist workers, who on the basis of their hostility towards the capitalist system and its jumble of supporters of the old bourgeois Parties developed themselves into national-socialists. But their radicalisation on the grounds of the crisis is not progressed enough yet, so they can take the step towards the camp of the revolutionary proletariat of communism."
The transfer of national voters towards the proletarian revolution didn’t take place, as we all know.