‘Growth of the Fascist Dictatorship in Germany’ by Ernst Thaelmann from The Communist. Vol 10 No. 3. March, 1931.
THE capitalist system and capitalist economy are in a crisis of such dimensions that even bourgeois apologists are no longer able to conceal its seriousness. Even the official “Institutfuer Konjunkturforschung” has to admit that the present business set-back in the whole world, as well as in Germany, is of a seriousness almost unprecedented in modern economic development. Nowhere are there to be seen any signs of a speedy improvement of the economic situation. It is estimated that the number of unemployed in Germany will amount to 4,500,000 in the approaching winter months. The deficit in the finances of the Reich, the provinces and the municipalities is estimated by the “Konjunktur- Institut” at 700,000,000 marks for the second half of the fiscal year 1930.
At what a pace and on what a scale this tremendous crisis of capitalism is bringing disaster, hunger, and unbearable misery to the broad masses it is hardly necessary to describe in detail. Already to- day, even according to bourgeois estimates, at least one-sixth of the workers and salaried employees are excluded from the process of production. The sufferings of the unemployed, the misery in all the workers’ homes, the under-nourishment of the children, the desperate plight of the old folk, the unendurable exploitation of the working women and of the youth—all these are facts which convert the lives of the overwhelming majority of the population into one long torture. The scourge of misery falls on the backs of the proletariat, of the suffering middle classes, and of the working rural population.
But the unemployed who have run out of benefit, the suffering middle class who have been deprived of the means of existence by monopoly capitalism, the small peasants who are harassed by the tax collector and court bailiff—they all want to live. There is a ferment in the masses; there is an increasing will to fight for another social order than the barbarism of capitalism with its accompanying disasters. The whip of hunger wielded by the exploiters is causing the people to think. The anger of the masses towards their tormentors, their hatred against a system which annihilates millions with unbounded cruelty in order to save the profits of a small insignificant minority, and in addition the deadly enmity, out of which sooner or later there must arise the emancipating act of the millions against this system—all this is the reverse side of the capitalist decline.
BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY BANKRUPT
Parliamentarism, bourgeois democracy, is finally bankrupt. The Reichstag, brutally gagged by the Bruening government, has by voting for the emergency orders signed its own death warrant. In nearly all the important big towns of Germany the town councils have been almost replaced by the purely dictatorial rule of state commissioners. In the Berlin town council the whole fraction of the strongest party of the Berlin population was removed from the council chamber by the police. The example of the Finnish Lapua fascists is enthusiastically followed by the social democratic Berlin police. The attempts of the social democracy to deny that the bourgeoisie is setting up the fascist dictatorship by bloodless means, their attempts to screen the Bruening government, and thereby to weaken the fighting will of the proletarian masses to overthrow the fascist dictatorship, and to confuse the working class, are a no less anti-working class and for the proletariat a no less dangerous support of fascism than the direct parliamentary and extra-parliamentary lackey-service of social fascism for the fascist policy and the fascist rule of the German bourgeoisie.
That which the capitalist class in Germany has developed in regard to its methods of rule is the inevitable crowning of a process of development the driving forces of which are the crisis of the capitalist system, the severe shaking of the bourgeois order and of the capitalist economy. A year ago this process found visible expression in the offensive of the big bourgeoisie led by the former president of the Reichsbank, Schacht, against the Hermann Mueller government of the big coalition. The kick with which the bourgeoisie three months later cleared the social democrats out of the Reich government was the continuation. The bourgeoisie proceeded immediately to exercise its dictatorship over the people without making use of their social fascist lackeys as go-betweens. The semi-fascist Bruening government, which took the place of the Hermann Mueller government, continued from the first day of its regime to pursue the path of the fascist dictatorship via new fascist methods of rule.
FASCIST GOVERNMENT SETS IN
Today the Bruening government itself has become a government of fascist dictatorship in its commencing stage. For the question of a fascist dictatorship is for the Marxists not a question of persons, not the problem that a Mussolini or Hitler must take over the helm, but rather a question of the class role of a regime.
The social democracy in its efforts to make the Bruening government acceptable to the masses as the “lesser evil,” points out that the proletarian movement has not been rendered illegal, and wonders how the fascist dictatorship can rule in Germany although the Communist Party is still legal. The social democratic party of Germany thereby only betrays how painful to it is the legal existence of the Communists and reveals at the same time its un- bounded historical ignorance. In the history of the 12 years since the end of the war it is only in rare cases that the fascist rule in any country commenced with the complete crushing of the labor movement.
The task of the fascist dictatorship, the aim of this dictatorship in the interest of the capitalist system to crush the revolutionary proletariat, can be the result of the fascist rule only in the event of it maintaining itself successfully against the proletariat and succeeding in solving its tasks. That the Bruening government, with its social fascist assistants, has set itself this task of suppressing the proletariat and its party, is obvious to every thinking worker in view of the terror which is assuming sharper forms every day. When the social democratic party of Germany ventures today to enumerate all the “liberties” which the working class and the Communist Party are supposed to enjoy in Germany, while at the very same time the truncheons of the social democratic police guards are used against starving unemployed, when the shots of the police pistols are heard and the searchlights on the police patrol wagons create an atmosphere of civil war in whole districts of the town, while the social democratic chief of police Grzesinsky in Berlin and the social democratic Schonfelder in Hamburg prohibit demonstrations, the social democratic party deliberately mocks the workers with such “arguments.”
FASCIST RULE NOT YET IN FIXED FORM
It is quite true that the fascist dictatorship has not assumed a firm and fixed form which is not subject to any further development. That which we have in Germany today is the commencing stage of a fascist dictatorship which will be followed, if the bourgeoisie have their way, by further steps on the basis of the extra-parliamentary development of the reactionary class forces, naturally not on the basis of any parliamentary votes. How far the “national socialists”* will make use of the method of the bloodless coup d’etat of legal assumption of power depends upon the general development of the crisis and the sharpening of class relations. Of course a military putsch as a supplementary method is by no means out of the question. In any event it is clear that the fascist terror would with the further development of the fascist dictatorship assume much more cruel and brutal forms. But it is equally clear that these dangers cannot be averted by denying the commencing stage of the fascist dictatorship. Those who today seek to lull the masses of the workers, to minimize the seriousness of the situation, to prevent the clear recognition of fascism as the chief enemy, those who make out to the workers that to support the Bruening government means to avert fascism, are themselves helping to promote the development of the fascist dictatorship to its highest and cruelest stages.
ROLE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY
The present role of the social democratic party of Germany is that of auxiliary police to fascism. This applies to its police presidents, to the actions of Severing or Grzesinsky, but also no less to the social fascist arbitrators and strike breakers, to the social fascist trade union bureaucracy who help the fascist dictatorship to put through wage cuts and assist in sabotaging the defensive fight of the proletariat.
The social democratic party of Germany has not only prepared the way for fascism, but is also today a faithful buttress of the fascist dictatorship. It vies with the “national socialists” for the preference in maintaining, defending, and developing the fascist dictatorship. Over and beyond its own fascist role the social democracy is becoming a lever for the development of extra-parliamentary fascist mass organizations. The treacherous policy of the social democratic party is driving hundreds and thousands of disappointed salaried employees and members of the middle class, nay, even backward members of the working class, into the “national socialist” net.
A further chapter is the shattering of all the labor organizations by social fascism, the conversion of the trade unions into strike- breaking organizations, as in the case of the strike of the Berlin metal workers, or the recent strike of the tramway workers in Chemnitz. The trade union policy of social fascism is attempting to force the German trade unions on to the path of Mussolini’s syndicates, on to the path of auxiliary organizations of the fascist dictatorship.
Today the social democracy, inside and outside of parliament, and before all with the aid of the Prussian government and all its functionaries in the capitalist state apparatus, unreservedly supports the Bruening government of the fascist dictatorship. It tries to excuse this unscrupulous treachery with the “statesmanlike” declaration that it is thereby preventing the “national socialists” from entering the Reich government. This also is a barefaced swindle. In reality, by aiding the Bruening government, the social-democracy renders it possible for the “national socialists” to pose as being independent of the system of the fascist dictatorship, of which Hitler and Goebbels are in truth the most important extra-parliamentary supports.
A FIGHT FOR SOFT JOBS
The “fight” between the social democracy and the “national socialists” is seriously meant only insofar as it is a competitive struggle for soft jobs in the capitalist state apparatus. For the rest, the Hitler party and the social democratic party of Germany play into each other’s hands.
The policy of the “national socialists” has undergone manifold changes since the Reichstag election. First there began the great race for ministerial seats. The language of the “national socialists” became tame and moderate as befitting a “government party.” In foreign policy Hitler, in his various interviews to foreign press representatives, abandoned all his previous nationalist phrases about shattering the Young Plan, the fight against Versailles, and the like.
The Nazi party came forward as the reliable party prepared to carry out the Young Plan and meriting the confidence of the victor countries. There followed the shameful attempts of the “national socialists” to win the favor of the foreign imperialists, the correspondence between Hitler and the French chauvinist Herve regarding a Franco-German military alliance against the Soviet Union. In those weeks the Nazi party became, at least according to its own account, a gentle, well-behaved set of lambs.
No sooner had it become apparent, however, that the time for the Hitler party to take over the government had not yet come, that today other factions in the camp of German fascism under the leadership of the Center are maintaining power and on their part are setting up and exercising the fascist dictatorship, than a sudden change ensued in the policy of the “national socialists.” ‘The unreserved defense of capitalism against the workers, as was clearly revealed on the occasion of Hitler’s banquet in the Hamburg millionaires’ club, had to give place to the former “anti-capitalist” demagogy; the complete betrayal of the national fight for freedom of the German people is now again to be hidden behind nationalist phrases.
FASCIST TERROR RISES
All this, however, only serves to veil the active extra-parliamentary, mercenary services which the Hitler bands are actually rendering the fascist dictatorship of the big bourgeoisie to the best of their power and in competition with the social democracy. The wave of fascist terror is rising again; the bloody attacks of the “national socialists” on revolutionary workers are again increasing. Hardly a day passes without somewhere in Germany a proletarian falling victim to the bullets and knives of the fascist counter-revolution. Needless to say the working class should not fail to give a reply to the organized murder and the open civil war measures of fascism.
If today the “national socialists” are not participating in the Reich government, it is only due to the fact that at present German fascism is split into well-defined factional camps. On one side there is the Bruening bloc, which is endeavoring to realize the fascist dictatorship whilst utilizing to the full and at the same time discrediting the social democracy. On the other side there is the Hugenberg-Hitler bloc, which wishes completely to oust the social democracy from all the higher and lower positions in the state apparatus and replace them by “national socialists.”
The question, when the present stage of the fascist dictatorship, in which the Center catholic clericalism plays the leading role, will be replaced by the Hitler-Hugenberg bloc, and whether this change will take the form of a Reichswehr dictatorship under Major General von Hammerstein or the former Reichswehr Minister Gessler, can at present not be decided.
All the above-mentioned forms of the fascist dictatorship are within the bounds of possibility. For the fascist dictatorship is not a form of government, but a state form of capitalist class rule, in the frame of which all kinds of government variations are possible.
COMMUNIST PARTY FIRMLY UNITED
With the beginning of the fascist dictatorship in Germany the war danger has increased enormously. A new period of armament adventure, and war policy of German imperialism has set in. On one side new conflicts between the imperialist powers are threatening in a sharper form than hitherto; on the other hand there is increasing as the chief danger of war the anti-Bolshevist intervention front, which is completed by the rule of fascism in Germany. The incitement against the Soviet Union, the lies regarding Soviet “dumping” on the world market, the solidarity of the “national socialists,” the bourgeoisie, and the social democratic party with the condemned sabotagers and counter-revolutionaries on the occasion of the Moscow trial—all this shows how joyfully fascist Germany would welcome the campaign of world imperialism against the country of the proletarian dictatorship.
The Communist Party calls the masses of the German people to the fight against the dictatorship. Whilst in all other parties crisis and disintegration prevail, the C.P. of Germany was never so united as at present. Even comrades who in the past combated the Party from the standpoint of the conciliators have today taken their place in the revolutionary activity of the Party and on the class line of our policy. The unexampled inner firmness of the Communist Party is only a reflection of the gathering of the proletarian class forces for the united front in the camp of the revolution.
There were a number of journals with this name in the history of the movement. This ‘The Communist’ was the main theoretical journal of the Communist Party from 1927 until 1944. Its origins lie with the folding of The Liberator, Soviet Russia Pictorial, and Labor Herald together into Workers Monthly as the new unified Communist Party’s official cultural and discussion magazine in November, 1924. Workers Monthly became The Communist in March ,1927 and was also published monthly. The Communist contains the most thorough archive of the Communist Party’s positions and thinking during its run. The New Masses became the main cultural vehicle for the CP and the Communist, though it began with with more vibrancy and discussion, became increasingly an organ of Comintern and CP program. Over its run the tagline went from “A Theoretical Magazine for the Discussion of Revolutionary Problems” to “A Magazine of the Theory and Practice of Marxism-Leninism” to “A Marxist Magazine Devoted to Advancement of Democratic Thought and Action.” The aesthetic of the journal also changed dramatically over its years. Editors included Earl Browder, Alex Bittelman, Max Bedacht, and Bertram D. Wolfe.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/communist/v10n03-mar-1931-communist.pdf