>> >> no-129-may-1915

The Difference

The “Daily News and Leader” (24.4.15) quotes the following from a German Conservative organ, the “Post“:

  “The reform of our domestic policy will mainly depend upon whether a fruitful co-operation between the Government and the non-Socialist parties, on the one hand, and the Socialists, on the other, is possible. This, in its turn, will depend upon whether Social Democracy will finally abjure the class war and its aims. The Leibneckt Ledebonr group is ruled out in advance. It remain unchanged. Hence it deserves, after the war, to be treated in the same way as it was treated before—and preferably in accordance with Bismarckian methods. It is different with the majority of the Socialists, whose representatives in Parliament have voted for the war credits and the Budget. But even so, their future conduct is uncertain and one must wait and see.”

“It is different with the majority of the Socialists.” As we have endeavoured to show all along, the parties in this country claiming to be Socialist while not organised on the basis of the class war (the I.L.P., B.S.P., and the like), only practise fraud when they impose such a claim on the working class. The latter accept their statements too freely; they evidently think it does not matter much either way. The capitalists, however, are better instructed and know how to discriminate between the genuine and the spurious, as we see from the above.

In this connection an anecdote illustrating [the same point was told in “Reynolds’s” of August 30th last. The Kaiser for some time before the outbreak of the war had been endeavouring to conciliate German Socialists. While travelling in Switzerland his train was conducted by a well known Socialist representative of the Cantonal Labour Party. The Emperor bad a long chat with the guard. It is said that he afterwards overheard some of his entourage commenting on his having received the Socialist, and that he replied : “One must distinguish between what a man is and what he chooses to confess. My son also will come to that conclusion when be is older.”

The nature of the “Socialist” organisations on the Continent is easily seen from the decisions of the “Confidential Session” of the Austrian and German “Socialists” held at Vienna in the week ending April 17th. What could be more childish, for instance, than their demand for the “ transformation of the courts of international arbitration into compulsory institutions for the solution of all conflicts between the different States”?

There can be no compulsion at all without either the display or the exercise of physical force, and if the capitalists of every country could trust each other sufficiently to set up such a force for the purpose of keeping the peace, they could quite conceivably employ the simpler and lees expensive method of the arbitration court.

The demand of the Session for “international limitation of armaments by treaties, with general disarmament in view” is equally unattainable for similar reasons. While national groups of capitalists dictate the national policy, the nations will always be at loggerheads over markets. The friction and mistrust between these groups will not permit them to disband, the tendency being rather in the direction of greater friction as the backward nations enter into keener competition for a share in the world’s market.

Quarrels may possibly become lees frequent with the advent and progress of a genuine Socialist party in each country. But such a party will certainly not follow the example of the International or the “Confidential Session” and make itself ridiculous by demanding disarmament. It will know why armed forces are maintained.

  “Furthermore, the representatives of the Social Democratic parties of Germany, Austria, and Hungary declare: The fact that the Socialist parties of the belligerent countries are defending their country and their people must not constitute an obstacle to the maintenance of international relations among the Socialist parties and the continued working of their international institutions.”

In other words, the German and Austrian “Socialists” plead for reconciliation with the labour decoys of other countries after the war, it being impossible to meet while the conflict is on, “less on account,” as Mr. Bruce Glasier says, “of the difficulty of getting together a representative delegation from the belligerent countries than from the fear lest national animosity should burst forth in the congress, and the danger of prejudicing the political and military situation.”
So little do these so-called Socialists understand the class war and its aims. True, the International sometimes passes pious resolutions about the “tried and victorious policy based on the class war,” but in the main their deliberations are confined to such impossible demands as have been quoted above, and to capitalist reforms, most of which are already in operation in one country or another, or are advocated by the Liberals or Tories themselves—which is sufficient in itself to condemn them as harmful to the working class.
The difference between the Socialist and the anti-Socialist is just that emphasised by the “Post” Stated clearly, the Socialist is one who takes up the prosecution of the class war to its final aim: the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of Socialism. He who, claiming to be a Socialist abjures this, is therefore no Socialist and of necessity must be anti Socialist.
F. Foan