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cialist opposition to war was at least as strong at this early period as it is now. Indeed there can be very little doubt that it was stronger. Nationalistic sentiments, which have become somewhat common within certain Socialist groups since that time, were unheard of in 1891 and 1893. On the other hand, this very radical practical measure, an international general strike as a preventive of war, which has almost been adopted recently, was violently and almost unanimously rejected twenty years ago—not as being too radically antinational, but as being anarchistic in character.
The following account of the discussion at the Brussels Congress (1891) is taken from the very authoritative summary of Jean Longuet, grandson of Karl Marx, and one of the Secretaries of the French Party, in the volume of the Encyclopédie Socialiste entitled “Le Mouvement Socialiste Internationale”:
The Congress at Brussels was confronted by a proposition of Domela Nieuwenhuis, then the leader of the Dutch Socialists. He has since evolved more and more towards antiparliamentarianism. Nieuwenhuis proposed the following resolution:
“The Congress declares that the Socialists of all countries will reply to the proposition of a war by an appeal to the people to declare a general strike.”
A similar proposition was moved by an English delegate, Giles. The general strike, the mass strike as the Germans called it, was still quite new in the internationalist Socialist and Labor movement, and was somewhat compromised by the patronage that the anarchists had given it, so the proposition of Nieuwenhuis was received very coldly.
While proclaiming the internationalism of the proletariat which brings it about that "the enemy of the German worker is not the French worker, but the German bourgeois,” Wilhelm Liebknecht took a strong position against a proposal, “the authors of which run no risk, because, belonging to little neutral countries, they are not subjected to the crushing weight of militarism,"
Finally, the following resolution, presented by Wilhelm Liebknecht and Édouard Vaillant, and voted by fifteen nations against one (Holland), which abstained from voting, declared:
The militarism which burdens Europe at this moment is the fatal consequence of the permanent state of latent or open war imposed on society by the régime of the exploitation of man by man and the class struggle which results from it; only the creation of a Socialist society putting an end to the exploitation of man will put an end to militarism and insure permanent peace; as a consequence the duty and interest of those who wish to put an end to war is to enter into the International Socialist Party, which is the only true party of peace.
Accordingly the Congress appealed to all the workers "to protest by ceaseless agitation against all the archaisms of war, and alliances which favor it, and to hasten the triumph of Socialism by the development of the international organization of the proletariat.”
THE CONGRESS OF ZURICH (1893) The question of the attitude to be taken towards war was again brought up by Domela Nieuwenhuis at the Congress of Zurich (1893). To the idea of “the general strike” brought before the preceding Congress he added the proposition of “the military strike.” Georges Plechanoff, the sole delegate of Russia at the Congress, had been appointed to report officially for the Congress on the subject. He rejected the Dutch proposition on the ground it would deliver the most Socialistic country (which would strike) in a defenseless condition into the hands of the most backward country (which would not strike). And the Cossack would reign over Europe.
To the bitter criticisms of Nieuwenhuis, who had reproached the German Party "for making concessions to militarism," the veteran of the German Social Democracy, Wilhelm Liebknecht, replied with the following stirring speech:
To say that the German Socialist Democracy has passed over to militarism and chauvinism is to speak a falsehood which we have refuted in advance by our words and actions! In our fight against militarism we have not retreated by a hair's breadth!
The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine? We condemned it as an error. We denounced it as a crime. (Enthusiastic applause.) I said this in the Reichstag, before militaristic Germany, I repeated it before the people. I confirm it solemnly here, before the assembled proletariat of the world. We have paid for that opinion, I and my comrades, by bitter years of prison, the total number of which, if it was reckoned, would be more than a thousand. Not a man, not a penny, this is our programme. Since it came into existence, our party has not given to the German army a single man or a single penny! (Enthusiastic cheers of the German delegation.)
If the Dutch proposition were practical we would vote for it with both hands. It is only a pious wish. It is not practical. Such a proposition might arise in neutral Holland. It could not take root in military Germany. You say that our proposition is a farce. I fear that is the case with yours.
No, you cannot struggle against the Moloch of militarism by winning over a few isolated individuals, by provoking puerile, barrack insurrections. You would merely deliver to the Moloch a few unfortunate persons. You would merely give it a few victims more! What is necessary is indefatigable propaganda. Our spirit must be implanted in the army. When the masses are Socialists, militarism will have seen its last day! (Prolonged applause.)
It is to this end that we Germans have worked, are working, and shall work ceaselessly. Here, before the representatives of the international proletariat, I make a solemn pledge to this effect. (Enthusiastic applause.)
By a unanimous vote against two nations only (France and Holland) the Dutch resolution was rejected, and the German motion was accepted. It was to the same effect as the resolution voted at Brussels two years before.
So for fourteen years, from 1893 to 1907, the International Congresses appeared to be satisfied that the general strike was not an available preventive of war, but that the best Socialists could do was to adopt the other remedy, of continuing to refuse to vote a single soldier or a single penny for military purposes, until they were in control of parliaments and could bring about universal disarmament.
But in the meanwhile the British Labor Party, which habitually supports governments that increase armaments, was admitted to the International Congress. Neither this body nor its Socialist wing, the Independent Labor Party, has ever contemplated any fundamental change in this policy. Yet both the Independent Labor Party and the Labor Party are, and always have been, strongly opposed to war. It is therefore not surprising to see these organizations seeking an alternative remedy, and settling upon the general strike.
At the same time the general strike sentiment, already dominant among the French delegates at the International Congress of 1893 (as just noted), continued to develop. The revolutionary labor-union Socialists, the strongest anti-militarists and advocates of the general strike, had been expelled from the International at the Congress of London in 1896, but within a few years they had founded the Syndicalist Movement in France. While in conflict with the French Socialist Party at many points, the Syndicalists first persuaded the unions to adopt Socialism as their goal and then persuaded the party, at the French Congress of 1907 (at Nancy), to recognize in the French Federation of Labor Unions a body as Socialistic as the party itself, though fighting for Socialism by labor-union action. At the same time the idea of a general strike and insurrection against war was adopted by the Congress, securing the support of the moderates, Jaurès and Vaillant, though not of the orthodox, led by Guesde.
INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST CONGRESS OF STUTTGART (1907).
The International Socialist Congress held at Stuttgart in the same year, was not ready, however, definitely to demand that the Socialists of each nation menaced by war should join in an international general strike. The opposition, as we have shown in the previous chapter, came chiefly from the Germans, the Austrians, and their supporters—and the grounds of this opposition have already been made clear.
The Stuttgart Congress did indorse the general strike as a possible weapon against war—in case, when war was threatened, the International Socialist Bureau recommended its use. But out of regard for the wishes of the Germans direct indorsement of the general strike was avoided, as the language of the resolution shows:
The International is unable to prescribe one set mode of action to the working classes; it must of necessity be different in different lands, varying in time and place. But it is clearly its duty to encourage the working classes everywhere in their opposition to militarism. As a matter of fact, since the last International Congress at Brussels the working classes have adopted various ways of fighting militarism, by refusing grants for military and naval armaments, and by striving to organize armies on democratic lines. They have been successful in preventing outbreaks of war, or in putting an end to existing wars, and they have utilized the uncertain state of society which war, or the rumor of war, produces, to do something for the liberation of the working classes. We may mention the agreement entered into between the English and