March 12, 2021

IS TE WORKING CLASS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEFEAT OF DEMOCRACY?

From The Pamphlet OTTO BAUER'S Latest Discovery

D. Z. MANUILSKY

And yet Otto Bauer wonders why "democracy" baa lost prestige among the workers. Almost a century and a half has passed since the great French Revolution. The interna­tional working class bas seen "democracy" at work. Through its own experience, it has come to realize its true nature. 

Since 1918 the Austrian workers have sustained more than one blow from this "democracy," i. e., capitalism in the republican form of the bourgeois dictatorship. But since then they have seen the proletarian revolution in the U.S.S.R. They have seen the party of the working class in the U.S.S.R., the Bolshevik Party, tackling the gigantic work of socialist construction. Socialism in the U .S.S.R. has not yet completely killed the faith of the international work­ing class in "democracy," but it is killing it every day, and will ultimately kill it for good. And the fact that the Austrian workers are not showing enthusiasm in the de­fense of "democracy" now is no proof at all of a counter­revolutionary situation, but is an expression of t.be process of radicalization going on among the working class. This is only the first stage of radicalization as yet, in which the repudiation of democracy bas not yet turned into revolu­tionary action on the part of the masses. The central ques­tion is whether the social-democrats will be able to restrain the transition of the masses from the repudiation of de­mocracy to the revolutionary struggle for the proletarian dictatorship. If we suppose that social-democracy might succeed in this, it would mean nothing more or less than the victory of fascism. Fascism would conquer-and could not help conquering, if there were complete passivity on the part of the working class which has lost its faith in bourgeois democracy. And, therefore, Otto Bauer and his party, by doing everything possible to prevent this transition, dragging the working class backwards to an objectively hopeless cause which is historically out-of-date, are only assisting fascism. 

And now Otto Bauer fastens responsibility on the workers for the bankruptcy of social-democracy's policy. If fascism is increasing in Austria, then it is just because the workers are not defending democracy enough. If Braun, Severing and Grzesinski were thrown out of the Prussian government, it was because the German working class did not move a finger to prevent it. But why should the German workers "de­fend" Grzesinski and Severing when they are not defended by their own Parteivorstand (E.C.), when they are not de­fended by their own social-democratic police, when they themselves and the Parteivorstand shun any "defense" of the masses like the plague, realizing that working-class mass action will go beyond mere defense of the Prussian govern­ment and lead to a struggle against the capitalist system in general? 

If the Communist Party of Germany called on the working masses to act against the Papen-Schleicher government in reply to July 20th, it as not for the purpose of bringing Grzesinski in triumph to the Berlin Politzei presidium and Severing to the Prussian Ministry of Home Mairs on their backs, but in order to resist reaction in the form of both its 'Wings-Papen-Schleicher on the one hand and Gnesinski­Severing on the other. The German workers have learned to know the police methods of Severing's "democracy'' from their own experience. To the unemployed in their demon­strations, it was immaterial whether they were beaten with rubber clubs at the orders of Severing, or those of Schleicher. The closing down of the Communist Press was practiced by the government of Braun and Severing no less than that of Schleicher. The attack on social insurance, on the wages of the German working class, began at the time when Braun and Severing were in the Prussian government. Schleicher' fascist dictatorship grew organically out of Severing's "de­mocracy," continuing its reactionary course of action. And now that the social-democratic Prussian government has finally compromised itself as the servant of reaction, Otto Bauer demands that the German workers should fight and shed their blood for Braun and Severing. 

WHO DEFENDS DEMOCRACY? 

History is full of examples in which an extreme reactionary party deliberately puts forward another, slightly less, reactionary party as a pawn into the foreground of the political arena, in order to compromise the latter in the eyes of the masses by the use of repression, so as to sweep it away and occupy its place. When the bourgeois republic led by Cavaignac destroyed the July revolt of the Paris proletariat in 1848, the fate of that same bourgeois republic was sealed. Napoleon the Little knew on December 2, 1862, just as Schleicher knew on ·July 20, 1932, that the masses will not move in order to defend the "leaser evil." 

The "less" reactionary party, which destroys the extreme Left, is preparing its own doom, paving the way for ex­treme reaction. The moderate wing of the bourgeoisie, which sent the Jacobins to the guillotine in the Thermidor days of the French Revolution, paved the way not only for the Na­poleonic Empire--but also for the monarchist restoration. The Austrian social-democratic workers should firmly grasp these Jes.9ons of history. They mu.st understand that the real defender of democracy is not he who says that he is de­fending the republic against the fascist dictatorship, de­fending democracy against fascism. Cavaignac was, sub­jectively speaking, the same republican genera as Otto Bauer is a supporter of democracy, but both of them, by adhering in a conservative manner to the existing political forms, were in reality paving the way for the victory of re­action. The Communist workers who struggle against the bourgeois republic and bourgeois democracy for prole­tarian democracy are doing more to bar the path to fascism than all the social-democratic party with its daily declama­tions about "democracy." It is not the extreme Left and the "extreme" revolutionary tactics which lead to reaction, u the social-democratic press claims every day. What leads to reaction is the capitulationist policy of conciliation with reaction, which Austrian social-democracy has pursued for many years. But social-democracy presented this policy to the masses as the guarantee of the salvation of democracy. Why, then, has "democracy'' suffered such defeats at the present time in Austria? 

THE UNITED FRONT 

What has prevented Austrian social-democracy from utilis­ing to the full the fruits of its tactics in the matter of saving "democracy"? Maybe it was the Communists? Maybe it was they who split the "democratic" front of the working class? 

We know that this false argument is produced against the Communist Party of Germany by the German social-demo­crats. But in Austria the situation is different. Here the Communists have not yet really tackled the task of winning over a majority of the working class, as they have done in Germany. Here the Comunists are still in a minority.  According to the boast of Otto Bauer, Austrian social• democracy has almost a monopoly in the ranks of the Austrian worker . The unity of the working class, according to Otto Bauer, has become an accomplished fact in the ranks of Austrian social-democracy. Let us suppose for a moment that this is the case. But then, what a terrible responsibility falls on that party which possesses a monopoly for the application of its methods of "barring" the path to fascist re­ action I Why is it that reaction has conquered in Austria with its "united" workers' movement just as it has done in Ger­many where there is a split in the working class? 

Possibly the cause of the Austrian proletariat's weakness is to be found in the splitting of the international workers' movement? Possibly the responsibility for the bankruptcy of Austrian social-democracy's policy falls on the proletariat of the U.S.S.R., which has "split" the world working-class movement by taking the path of proletarian revolution? No, comrades, it is not here a question of cleavage, but of the fact that one part of the working class, under the influence of social-democracy, is entering into a bloc with the bourgeoi­sie against the other part of the working class, the Commun­ist part, and if the working class in Austria still retains some vestiges of "democracy", it is just because a mighty bulwark against world reaction exists on one-sixth of the globe. What would the capitalist world be like if this proletarian bulwark did not exist? Where would the policy of social-democracy have led the international working class? If there is as yet no new imperialist war, if the capitalist offensive has not converted the European workers info Chinese coolies and Indian pariahs in spite of all the capitulationist tactics of international social-democracy, if fascism fa not triumphant along the whole front, it is just because the government of proletarian dictatorship which is victoriously constructing socialism stands as a counterpoise to world capital and world reaction, because the organized movement of World Commun­ism. united into the world-wide Party of the Communist International, is barring the path of world reaction. The whole capitalist world is seized with terror before the spectre of Communism and Proletarian Revolution. 

But the importance of the organized Communist movement does not consist only in the tremendous echo which its slogans meet with among the working masses of all countries. This importance is to be attributed to the tenets of the Com­munist International-the tenets of irreconcilable class strug­gle. Whether the Communist workers in capitalist countries succeed in forming a broad united front with the social­ democratic workers or not, the Communists will tight just as devotedly against the capitalist offensive, against fascism, against war, as they have fought up till now. They will al­ways be an active factor against reaction in all its forces. It is not the Communists who are holding things up I In places where they have not formally entered the "united front," they have done everything that lay in their power for this united front of working-class struggle, making tremendous sacrifices for the cause of the working class. In places where the social-democratic workers are commencing the struggle against the bourgeoisie, no power wielded by the social­ democratic authorities will prevent the Communists from standing shoulder to shoulder with the social-democratic workers in this struggle. 

The problem of the united front encounters the attitudes of the social-democratic workers. There cannot be a united front if there is no class struggle of the proletariat which stands in profound contradiction to the whole policy of Austrian social-democracy and its leader, Otto Bauer. But the united workers' front of Communist and social-democratic workers would increase the fighting forces of the working class many-fold. It would permit the proletariat not only to hold up the attack of the enemy, but to take the offensive itself. Let the millions of social-democratic workers only reflect what the international working class would represent now, with its vast mass organizations, basing itself on the proletarian revolution of the U.S.S.R., if such a united front of struggle on the basis of the class struggle were really brought about. And if the Communist Parties were really confronted with social-democratic organizations whose lead­ers now adopted the standpoint of the class struggle like the rank and file masses, the duty of the Communist Parties would be to conclude an agreement in order to bring about a united front with these leaders. But this state of affairs does not exist. It is just for this reason that the broad working masses, whose class instinct impels them to unity in the class struggle, must take the initiative of the united front in their own hands. The establishment of the united front must be the cause of millions of workers. And we Com­munists know that thus and thus alone will the unity of the international working class be restored. We Communists ex­pose our ideas, our program, our demands, our methods of struggle, our tactics, to the verdict of the masses. We believe in the masses, we believe in their class consciousness and their revolutionary sense. It is precisely we Communists who stand for the broadest rank and file democracy in carrying out the united front. Can the social-democratic leaders say the same? Why do they, who have shouted as much about the methods of "orders from Moscow," from the Comintern, not wish to put the decision of the question of the united working-class front into the hands of the masses? What has become of all the declarations about democracy inside the working class? Why are they so afraid of the public verdict of the proletariat'!' 

Otto Bauer opposes to bring about the united front by means of direct negotiations with "Moscow.'' Negotiations with whom? With Otto Bauer, with Dr. Renner? It is not worth the trouble. Since 1914-18 the Communists have for­gotten nothing-but they have learned a great deal. If it is a question of social-democratic meetings of the rank and file workers in the factories, the Comintern would not be carrying out its elementary duty if it did not discuss with these workers how to organize the united front with the rank and file workers better, what difficulties need to be overcome, in order to bring about a united class struggle. We Com­munists would listen most attentively to the criticism of these social-democratic workers who have been connected for yean with Austrian social-democracy. And we are convinced that, as people of one class, we should find a common class lan­guage. Such a comradely discussion could only help to over­come the psychological aloofness which is artificially inflamed by the social-democratic leaders among the social-democratic workers, and would hasten the formation of the united front of the Austrian workers' movement. But the united front of struggle cannot be replaced by the Comintern "from above." It can only be formed from below. And if Otto Bauer trans­fers the center of the question of the formation of the united front of struggle to negotiations between the "two Interna­tionals," it is precisely because he wants to break the united front of the working class which is already being formed in a number of countries. Otto Bauer promises the Austrian workers that these negotiations will become possible in an­other and more serious situation, i.e., at the time of a war of the imperialist world against the Soviet· Union. If Otto Bauer has already spoken so openly about war, we think ft necessary to reply to him with the same frankness what we also are thinking about the position of international social­ democracy in case of a war against the Soviet Union. We do not doubt that the working class of the whole world, hun­dreds of thousands and millions of social-democratic workers among them, will be on the side of the Soviet Union when the capitalist world attacks it, irrespective of what position is occupied by the Second International. But we have also no doubt that the leaders of the Social-Democratic Party and its higher functionaries will deal a stab in the back at the pro­letariat of the U.S.S.R., will come out on the side of the bourgeoisie in this war just as they came out on its side during the war of 1914. The treachery of international social­ democracy in 1914 was not a mere chance or transitory occurrence. It has been borne out by the whole post-war evolution of international social-democracy, by July 20th, by its whole attitude regarding the question of the U.S.S.R. There may be individual deserters, there may be shades of difference in their positions, as there are now, but the leading sections of the whole Second International will be on the other side of the barricade. It is not Otto Bauer who will express the opin­ion of these sections, but people like Noske. The Otto Bauers will only conceal by their "Left" phrases the open services which they render to reaction on the same scale as Noske. 

War, like proletarian revolution, creates a single line of barricades between the classes. It is impossible to be between the two groups. Anyone who is prepared in advance to join the line of defense of the Soviet Union and proletarian revolu­tion will not talk to the masses today in the language of Otto Bauer. He will act and talk like those workers who are fighting alongside the Communists against fascism and the capitalist offensive in a number of European countries. The Communists call on their class brothers, the social-democratic proletarians, to take this line. The Austrian and German Communists say to them: Brothers, welded to us by common want, oppression and exploitation, we, like you, wish for unity and we call on you to stand together against capital in one steel united phalanx. We do not want to maneuver in our relations with you, but to fight shoulder to shoulder with you for our common class cause. We Communists are not trying to break up your unity, we are not trying to under­mine your mass strength, but to give to the unity and mass strength of the working class that basis of class struggle, without which this strength will become weakness, while "unity'' will be exploited by the Otto Bauers for collabora­tion with the bourgeoisie. And if we succeed in forming this united front together with you, we shall secure th6 victory of the working class over capitalism.