March 12, 2021

From The Pamphlet OTTO BAUER'S Latest Discovery

Social-Democracy-Stepping-Stone To Fascism 

"not entire article -extracts"


'The following address of D. Z. Manuilsky deals with the chief questions now on the anvil of discussion in the workers' movement. In the form of a reply to the political report of Otto Bauer, secretary of the Social Democratic Party of Austria, and a leading figure in the Second (Labor and Socialist) International, to the Party Congress, Manuilsky traverses the whole field of Democracy and Dictatorship, Fascism and Parliament, Reforms and "Public Control," Reaction and Revolution, comparing the Russian and Austrian paths, and concluding with the position of the Communist International on the United Front with Socia1 Democracy leaders or rank and file. Bauer, in his report, had recourse to numerous historical analogies-French, German and Russian Revolutions, etc., with which Manuilsky has, perforce, to deal. 

Otto Bauer (of whom Lenin said that he was "the beat of the social-traitors," declaring immediately afterwards that be meant by this "a learned idiot, utterly incorrigible") has long occupied the post of leader of the so-called "Austro• Marxist" school of thought, which consists, as the following work so clearly shows, in a remarkably astute dressing-up of capitalist policy in Marxian phrases, ie., pseudo-Marxism!

A long list of works appears after his name: including the notorious "Rationalisierung und Fehl-Rationalisierung'' (Rationalization and False Rationalization), which is dealt with in detail in the companion pamphlet to this-Marxism and Social-Democracy, by Bela Kun. He is the leader of the Left maneuvers in the official Second International, being the proposer of the Defense of the Soviet Union motion, moved last July. 

It should be added that, in addition to providing an ex­position of the Communist position in regard to Germany and Austria today, this address, so far from being exclusively Continental in its scope, has an amazingly illuminating bear­ing on precisely those questions now uppermost in the Labor Movement of England and America. 

We have in mind the Decisions of the Leicester Conference of the British Labor Party-and the "National Plans" for the various industries (Electricity, Banks, London Passenger Transport Bill), as well as the assiduous propaganda of the Socialist League---echoed in America. Manuilsky shows by the example of Vienna that a Socialist island in a national Capitalist sea is impossible. His remarks on municipal cor­ruption in the case of Social-Democratic officials have been shown recently to apply to places far from Austria. 

The fact that since this address was delivered, Vienna has finally succumbed to the Fascist menace, makes it prophetic. 

Social-Democracy-Stepping-Stone To Fascism 


I wish to deal in my address with the speech delivered by Otto Bauer at the last Social-Democratic Party Confer­ence. My reasons for this are as follows: 

Firstly, I shall illustrate by its example the correctness of the position taken by the XII th Plenum of the E.C.C.L 

Otto Bauer's speech represents the quintessence of the social-democratic estimate of the present situation. By show­ing the utter futility of this estimate, by showing where it will lead the working masses, I shall contrast it to out: own methods of revolutionary struggle, the methods of the Com­intern. 

History has brought the international working class face to face with the question: capitalism or socialism? The minds of millions of workers, and especially the minds of millions among the younger generation of the working class, are working strenuously on this question, which causes no small disquietude to the social-democrats. In Austria, the question of capitalism or socialism, the question of the dic­tatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the proletariat, is refracted through the prism of discussion on proletarian dictatorship and democracy becoming fascist. And this question, on which the young workers are racking their brains, is worthy of attention. 

Secondly, the plenum of the Youth International ought to have paid special attention to the methods of our agitation above all our Y .C.L. agitation, suffers from being too stereo­typed. It repeats the formula of our decisions, being unable to find an approach to the ideas which are filling the minds of the masses. We usually talk in the language and thoughts of our functionaries, and appeal chiefly to them. But yet we have millions of young workers before us who do not know our formula, and think in terms of the concrete happenings of the day. We have before us social-democratic parties which are still strong, and besides these, fascist groups, which emit a whole arsenal of arguments whose falseness the workers, and especially the working youth, find difficulty in detecting. The task of our agitation is to reply to the argu­ments of our opponents with arguments. This constitutes a most important part of the 'work at present, if we really want to convert the youth leagues into broad mass organiza­tions. In my criticism of Otto Bauer today, I have in view, above all, the social-democratic workers in the Y.S.I., the Young Socialist or Labor Leaguer. I appeal to their minds, to their class conscience, to their :feeling of proletarian con­sciousness, stating in advance that much of what I shall say and prove needs no proof at all in yours. 

Thirdly, Otto Bauer raised the question of negotiations between the Second and the Third Internationals on the subject of the united front in his speech. And I must reply to this question. 

Finally, in his speech, Otto Bauer touched on the lessons of the 1918 revolution in Central Europe and the lessons of post-war social-democratic policy based on the "defense of democracy." He gave a characterization of the present situ­ation from the point of view of the Second International, a situation which he describes in Austria as "counter-revolu­tionary," etc. 

At the present time, comrades, a whole generation of working youth in capitalist countries is entering&' into conscious Political life-persons who did not pus through the war, or the revolutionary events of 1918 in Central Europe, and who were only partially embraced by the period of so­ called capitalist stabilization. The Communists' criticism which is given of the position of the social-democrats in the revolution, and, later on, in the period of capitalist stabiliza­tion is but slightly known to this generation. Precisely for this reason, it is not out of place to devote one speech to the ideological position of social-democracy and its offshoot the Y.S.I.-at this plenum. I would mention that in spending so much time on the speech of Bauer, it is far from being my intention to open a discussion with him. We want to open a discussion on the basic questions of the world workers' movement between Communist workers and social-democratic workers, between Y.C.L.ers and Y.S.L.ers. 

With this introduction, I will pass directly to the main question. 


Time was-in the Fourteenth Century-when the Black death swept over Europe, and destroyed about one-third of the population of the European continent. According to the chroniclers of the time, those were days of horror. 'Whole villages, whole sections of cities, perished. People went about like condemned persons. Every human face reflected dumb horror and despair. The houses were like graves. No songs or laughter were heard. The ominous silence of the graveyard held sway over both town and countryside. The gravediggers' carts could not carry off the dead quickly enough. And then the Catholic Church called for capitulation before this fright­ful calamity, the result of the ignorance and barbarity of the age, and declared that the ignorance and barbarity of the age, and declared that the plague was a punishment sent from God. 


Austria is starving more than any other country in Central Europe, because Austria was defeated in the world war, because it was dismembered. Austria is starving because its working masses trusted the Austrian social-democrats, led by Victor Adler, Otto Bauer, Renner, etc. Do the Austrian workers remember what the Arbeiur-Zeitung wrote in de­fense of the robber imperialist war? 

"Never did a party act so nobly and powerfully as Ger­man social-democracy, which bas shown itself so worthy of this profoundly serious moment," wrote the Arbeiter-Zeitung in an article entitled "The Great Day of the German Nation." "Thus, the German people are marching solidly into the war to preserve their existence as a state and as a nation." 

What did the Austrian workers get out of this "great day" of the German nation? An ocean of blood at the front, terrible starvation in the rear. The war not only led to the bankruptcy of the ruling classes of Austria-Hungary; it also exposed the bankruptcy of the war policy of Austrian social-democracy. Austria is starving because in 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was overthrown, the work­ing masses believed the social-democrats when they told them that they must only aim at bourgeois "democracy" in the form of a capitalist republic, without touching the founda­tions of capitalism. At the end of the world imperialist war, history provided exceptionally favorable conditions for the overthrow of capitalism. Millions of the toilers bad weapons in their hands. In Europe, there were no less than twenty millions under arms, mostly workers and peasants. They had access to field-guns, machine-guns, tanks, armored cars.. The bourgeoisie were in fear and trembling, expecting an eruption of the volcano at any moment. 

The masses were rising up against the war which bad lasted almost four years; their class instinct told them that they must put an end to the social and political order which had led them into war and disaster. The working class of Austria were organized better than the working class of Russia. The nationalities downtrodden by the ruling classes of the old Austro-Hungarian empire were the natural allies of the proletariat in their struggle for social liberation. It was only the policy of social-democracy, which, by limiting the aims of the revolution to the winning of a capitalist re­public, delivered the toiling masses of these nationalities into the power of their corrupt bourgeoisie and social-democratic politicians. The whole of Central Europe was enveloped in the flames of revolution, In Germany and Austria-Hungary, the workers and soldiers founded Soviets. On the vast plains of Russia the proletariat had already overthrown the power of their landlords and capitalists, swept away the government of Kerensky and established the proletarian dictatorship. And what was taking place in the camp of the Entente and its "victorious" armies? The Austrian workers should read the memoirs of Poincare and Churchill, about which the social­ democrats are deliberately silent. Mutinies, bushed up by the press, were taking place both in the French and the British army. Whole army corps, whole armies, were "infected" with the spirit of active struggle against war and capitalism. 

"The soldiers are shouting 'Down with war' and 'Long live the Russian Revolution.' " writes Poincare anxiously in his diary. "Mutiny in the 21st Army Corps .... Men refuse to go into the trenches. Next day another division of the 7th Corps refused to go into position." 

Exactly a week later: "Five corps almost entirely in­fected.'' In a single day, 18 men were shot as a warning to others. 


Things went so far that Soviets of soldiers' deputies were organized and there were open mutinies in army units (at Lutin and at Calais, where the mutineers held the town in their hands, etc.) 

Was this not a revolutionary situation which should have been utilized by the Labor Party? Was not this the situation which had been forecast by all the international congresses of the Second International before the war? At the congress of Stuttgart, the socialist parties stated that in case of war they must take advantage of it "to inflame the masses of the people and hasten on the fall of capitalistic class rule." Was this so or not, comrades? What really pro­letarian party could allow these masses to let their weapons out of their hands, to hand themselves over to the mercy of the bourgeoisie? But it was precisely to disarm the masses that the social-democrats exerted all their efforts. Even in the overthrow of the monarchy in the central empires, they lagged behind the masses, resisting like a bullock being led to slaughter. 

It is a historic fact that such leaders of German social-­democracy as Ebert were even against a republic, and wanted to save the Hohenzollern dynasty, at the very time when hun­dreds of thousands of Berlin workers were in the streets demanding the formation of Soviets. It is a historic fact that in Germany the social-democrats defended the monarchy to the last moment, and only agreed to a bourgeois republic under the pressure of the Entente, which put forward this demand as a condition for peace negotiations. Scheidemann openly speaks of this in his memoirs. If the social-democrats had not actively struggled against the proletarian revolution in Central Europe in 1918, the world would now bear a differ­ent aspect. There would now be no crisis, no unemployment, no fascism, no capitalist offensive. The ominous flames of the war in the Far East would not be menacing the workers of all countries with the danger of a new world war. 

Otto Bauer now tries to scare the Austrian workers by telling them that the Russian working class bad to carry on a bloody civil war for two years in the struggle for the victory of the proletarian revolution. But the reason the toiling masses of the Soviet Union had to shed their blood so freely was that the social-democrats not only deserted the Soviet proletariat in its hard struggle, but actively fought on the side of all those who were trying to throttle the Rus­sian proletarian revolution. 


Fourteen years have now passed since this "democratic" experiment was tried. The toiling masses of Austria and the U. S. S. R. are summing up the results of world-wide importance derived from the Russian and from the Austrian paths of development respectively. In the U. S. S. R. the proletariat is successfully completing the first Five-Year Plan, and marching on to the building of a classless society in the second Five-Year Plan. The working class of the U. S. S. R., relentlessly crushing all counter-revolutionary elements, is daily making the positions of the working masses, the positions of socialism under construction stronger and stronger. 

And what about Austria? Whither has the path of Austrian social-democracy led the working class? In four­teen years of "democracy above classes" it has steadily, step by step, slipped into fascism. 

From where did fascism arrive? Fascism is not a nat­ural calamity like the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It is a social movement including part of the oppressed classes. Why did the urban poor and the peasants in Russia, op· pressed by the yoke of capitalism, come under the leader­ship of the proletariat, while in Austria a considerable part of them flocked over to fascism, delivering themselves up to monopoly capital? Because the whole post-war policy of Austrian social-democracy drove these masses into the arms of fascism. The entire experience of the world workers' movement teaches us that when capitalism becomes bankrupt, while the class which must be the grave-digger of capitalism does not fulfil its historic mission, then other forces arise which will try in their own way, in a capitalist way, to solve the contradictions of the capitalist system. This was the case in Italy, when a revolutionary situation was al­lowed to slip by in 1920. In the summer of 1920 the workers seized the factories, the government was utterly helpless, and one serious blow on the part of the proletariat would have been enough to annihilate the fascist movement. But there was not yet a Communist Party, while Italian social­-democracy, like Austrian and German social-democracy in 1919, betrayed the proletariat at the decisive moment. It was the treachery of the social-democrats that gave rise to the victory of fascism in 1922. 

Fascism in Austria grew precisely because it was helped to grow by Austrian social-democracy, which surrendered one position of the working class after another without a struggle, calling on the workers to refrain from resistance to the offensive of fascism. Having replaced the class strug­gle by parliamentary coalitions, social-democracy paved the way for fascism, lulling the vigilance of the working class to sleep-and then confronting them with accomplished facts. The policy of July 20th is not only a crime of German social­-democracy. Austrian social-democracy is also leading the workers to it-through a whole aeries of little preparatory "July 20th!." It was not "socialism by degrees" which social-democracy disseminated, but "fascism by degrees," and this penetrated into the system of capitalist democracy thanks to the entire post-war policy of Austrian social-democracy. 

The Austrian proletarian looks around him with a feeling of profound perplexity, of infinite bitterness. With sad­ness he asks himself: "In 1918 I had arms, I was a menacing force for the ruling classes. I could dictate my will to the class enemy. But I sacrificed all this on the altar of 'democ-racy above classes.' But where is this 'democrac7 above classes'?" In reality this is capitalist democracy, the democ­racy of the Rothschild subsidy, under which capitalism and exploitation are left untouched, under which crisis and un­employment remain. "I was told in 1914 that I must take a gun and go to fight in the Carpathians or I should be en­slaved. But has capitalism enslaved me any the less in 1982 than in 1914? I was told in 1918 that the proletarian revo­lution would bring me starvation; but never did the Austrian worker, his wife and children, starve as they are starving now. In the Vienna lodging-houses for homeless people there were 427,000 persons in 1927 and over 700,000 in 1981. 

"Ever since 1918 they have been scaring me with the story that in Austria, as in Hungary, a proletarian revolution would lead to the defeat of the working class and the triumph of fascism. But the Austrian working class is now sustain­ing blow after blow, without fighting back against the class enemy. Fascism is growing, is coming nearer, because of this very policy of retreat.'' 

The proletariat feels that the gains which it wrested from the bourgeoisie during the revolution of 1918 are now being filched one after another, that the party which, after the event declared these revolutionary gains of the work­ing class to be the result of its reformist policy, has sur­rendered these gains one after another to the bourgeoisie. 

The proletariat feels that it has been betrayed quietly, imperceptibly; some diabolical hand seems to have cunning­ly and capably led it up to this unhappy position. And it asks itself in distress, who is to blame for all this? And in its bead another question is clamoring for an answer: Why does the Russian worker have no unemployment, no fascism, when be went boldly along another path, the path of estab­lishing and consolidating his own revolutionary dictatorship, alone against all the bourgeoisie of the world and against international social democracy? And this is a question with which hundreds of thousands of social-democratic workers at the present time are racking their brains. 

But here come the social-democrats with a ready answer to these doubts. "You dream of the 1918 revolution," they say. "But in Austria the proletarian revolution in 1918 could not have won, because Austria is not Russia. In Austria, a bourgeois republic was established, with a 'social' content added to it by the active participation of the proletariat in the revolution. This is not the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The rule of the bourgeoisie is limited by those social gains which the Austrian proletariat won in the revolution. Social­-democracy is the strongest party in the state system of the Austrian republic. It presses on the ruling classes with all the weight of the organized working class, thus restraining the growth of fascism in Austria. If the social-democrats have nevertheless not been able to stop the growth of fascism, it is because of the crisis and the bankruptcy of capitalism which have led to a 'counter-revolutionary situation' in Austria. And as social-democracy has to fight for 'democracy' and 'socialism' under the circumstances of a counter-revolu­tionary situation, it frequently has to retreat, and therefore the results of its policy are not always satisfactory to the masses. But today is not the stormy revolutionary period of 1918. By taking their stand upon legality and the defense of the bourgeois republic, and opposing the attempts of fascism to violate legality, the social-democrats are saving the masses from civil war. But if the ruling classes take to violence, Austrian social-democracy will reply with violence. Austrian social-democracy cannot in principle base itself on force and proletarian dictatorship like the Russian Bolsheviks, because this position of the Russian Bolsheviks is the result of the specific conditions obtaining in Russia, which has passed directly from tsarism to socialism. The method taken by the Russian Bolsheviks is not obligatory for the proletariat of other countries, just as, for example, the methods of the French Jacobins were not obligatory for the bourgeoisie in the bourgeois revolutions of the last cen­tury. The working class in Austria grew up in a 'constitu­tional' atmosphere. Within the framework of capitalism, it obtained such victories on the basis of general electoral rights as the socialist municipality of Vienna. And if now heavy blows are nevertheless being struck at Austrian social­-democracy, it is because the working class does not defend this democracy enough. The basic task of the Austrian working class is to make Austria into a 'democratic island' in the surrounding ring of Central European fascism." 

This is just how Otto Bauer replied to the Austrian working class at the last Social-Democratic Party Conference. And the task of the Communists is to give their answer to the proletarian masses of Austria, to tear the arguments of the Austro-Marxists to shreds, point by point.