social fascism

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left wing politics in weimer pre-ww2 germany and implicit nudges + winks suggesting that such an inquiry is topical w/out immediately coming out & saying it

The Comintern's resolution of January 19, 1924, on the German events followed this line: “The leading ranks of German Social-Democracy are at the present moment nothing but a part of German fascism in a Socialist mask.” At the Comintern's Fifth Congress in June—July 1924, Zinoviev repeated the charge that German Social-Democracy had been “converted into a wing of fascism.”

Stalin's contribution occurred in an article entitled “Concerning the International Situation,” published on September 20, 1924, and famous because it was his first effort in this field. In it he wrote: “Social Democracy is objectively the moderate wing of fascism.” And furthermore: “They are not antipodes, they are twins.” Later the theory of social-fascism was traced back to this article in Communist references to its genealogy. The images, “wing” and “twins,” were repeated endlessly. Zinoviev's role was blotted out, perhaps to the benefit of his reputation.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:37 (two years ago) Permalink

Rudolf Hilferding’s 1927 Speech on the Importance of the Defence of Democracy for Socialists

Viewed historically, democracy has always been a matter of interest to the proletariat. I have continually been amazed by the assertion even at this Congress . . . that democracy is a matter for the bourgeoisie. This view denotes a lack of knowledge of the history of democracy, and a wish to extract that history from the writings of a few theoreticians in a colourless, intellectual fashion. In reality there is no sharper political struggle than that of the prole- tariat against the bourgeoisie for democracy. Not to see that this fight belongs among the great deeds of the proletarian class struggle is to deny the whole past of socialism. It is historically false and misleading to speak of ‘bourgeois democracy’. Democracy was our cause. We had to wage a stubborn campaign to wring democracy out of the bourgeoisie. What a lot of proletarian blood has flowed to attain universal and equal suffrage, for instance!

But what if the rulers do not respect democracy? Is that a problem for us? Is it not evident that the moment an attempt is made to destroy the foundations of democracy, not only every Social Democrat, but every republican, will employ every means available to maintain those foundations? Then there is the question of the use of force . . . If the foundations of democracy are destroyed, we are defending ourselves and we have no choice but to employ all methods of defence . . . We want to defend democracy, and for that reason we are grateful to the Reichsbanner 50 for its work . . . If you haven’t understood that the preservation of democracy and the Republic are in the highest interests of the Party you have not grasped the ABC of political thinking.

There are people who go around saying: beware of democratic illusions! I am of a very different opinion. The real danger is rather . . . that there have been proletarian strata in other countries who have failed to recognise the importance of freedom, of democracy. In Italy Mussolini achieved power because the Italian proletariat did not know how good it was to have freedom and democracy . . . The danger, not for the Republic – I admit that – but for the real content and extent of democracy has been tremendously heightened by the very fact that the German Nationalists have kept their monarchist ideas in cold storage for the last two years . . . The fight between the Republic and the monarchy does not stand in the foreground when formulated directly in those terms; but it has changed into a fight between fascism and democracy (interjection: Very true!). We should be committing the worst of mistakes if we said to the proletariat: you don’t need to worry much about politics any more, only mate- rial questions come into consideration at present . . .

Thanks to Otto Braun and Karl Severing the waves of both Bolshevism and fascism have been broken in Prussia. That has been a world-historical achievement. History will eventually record what Severing, that little metal- worker from Bielefeld, has achieved for Central Europe, indeed for the whole of Europe . . . We were seriously concerned, after Severing’s departure, as to whether we could find an appropriate replacement. Our worries were unjustified. Severing’s successor [Otto Braun] is an outstanding success. Prussia is a proud stronghold in the camp of the republic and our only task is to make it a proud stronghold in the camp of socialism. But when one reads some of the resolutions put forward here one might think that the most important task of the proletarian class struggle in Germany was to overthrow the Prussian government. No, the most important task of the class struggle is the overthrow of the right-wing government of the German Reich.

Source: Sozialdemokratischer Parteitag in Kiel 1927, Protokoll mit dem Bericht der Frauenkonferenz, pp. 172–5, 180–1.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:39 (two years ago) Permalink

by contrast

The Social Democrats as Accomplices of Fascism

The responsibility for the victory of Fascism falls completely on the leaders of the SPD . . . There can only be a life and death struggle with these leaders . . . In order to stop the growing opposition of the working class from turning into a revolutionary struggle . . . the leaders of Social Democracy have left the Fascist government. This is so that they can deck themselves out in the finery of opposition, as they did under Cuno. . . As for the Left Social Democrats, as long as they do not make an open and clear political and organisational break with the right-wing leaders of Social Democracy they remain their accomplices.


Siegfried Aufhäuser’s Resolution of 1927 Calling for Opposition Instead of Coalition

The formation of a government by the ‘bourgeois bloc’ reveals the sharpening of class antagonisms in the German Republic. Previous attempts to further the interests of the working class in the Republic by a coalition with bourgeois parties have been unsuccessful.

The task of Social Democracy in the German Republic is to represent the class interests of the proletariat vis-à-vis the class rule of capitalism, and to fight for social demands and socialism. In comparison with this task, the fight to maintain the Republic, which the bourgeoisie is prepared to tolerate, is of less significance. The fighting front in the German Republic should no longer be formed under the slogan of ‘Republicanism versus Monarchism’ but rather ‘socialism versus capitalism’.

In view of the current political constellation, the tactics of Social Democracy must be opposition, not coalition. The Congress resolves to conduct this opposition without worrying about the bourgeois parties, in the spirit of the proletarian class struggle, and using all appropriate parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means.

Source: Sozialdemokratischer Parteitag in Kiel 1927, Protokoll mit dem Bericht der Frauenkonferenz, p. 272.

it seems to me that the primary error of the KPD and german communism was a category error where they superimposed socialism v. capitalism over democratic/republic v. monarchistic/fascist and thereby couldn't distinguish between democratic capitalist and fascist capitalist. obv not everyone, hilferding demonstrates that.

secondarily just a total lack of will to lead. SPD ditching out of the gov every moment things got hot bc they preferred to be holy in opposition than compromised. of course a lot of this does not seem avoidable at all. as left-wing parties continued to lose - during elections and through legislation (the constant barrage against the 8-day work week + social welfare) - they continued to lose credibility. but i don't necessarily buy the critique that counterrevolutionary voters are motivated by economic deprivation. it just doesn't make sense to say that you're so worried about your economic stability that you're just forced to vote for the most anti-labor government possible.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:44 (two years ago) Permalink

Carl Mierendorff Analyses the SPD’s Election Defeat of September 1930

All the SPD’s decisions are now imprinted with the fact of the defeat of 14 September 1930. It is the reason for the change in our tactics towards the Brüning government, against which we were on the offensive before that date, whereas now we are forced onto the defensive. This is the deeper reason for the complete reversal of policy on the question of the vote of no confidence and the emergency decrees. Was this defeat unavoidable? The answer, unfortunately, is no. The core problem of the SPD, the problem of leadership, casts a gigantic shadow over us. It is not the ordinary soldiers who have lost the battle but their leaders. There was mistake after mistake. Social Democracy fought the election facing the wrong way. It fought first and foremost against the Brüning government (and its policy of emergency decrees) whereas our main oppo- nents were the National Socialists. It fought at the wrong time, because the dis- solution of parliament hit Social Democracy at a moment when it was not in the least prepared for a duel with its main opponent, National Socialism. And why? Because the real danger, the National Socialist movement, was neither noticed nor properly factored in by the party leadership.

It had been clear to everyone, at the latest since the local elections in Prussia,41 that the National Socialist movement had favourable prospects. There was no doubt that it would make further advances . . . Yet Social Democracy undertook practically no systematic struggle against the National Socialists.

It failed to seize this great opportunity to present the true socialist doctrine to new voters in a fight against a pseudo-socialist movement . . . This opponent made necessary completely new techniques and tactics of struggle, and these were not available . . . The capital mistake here is to be sought in an underes- timation of extra-parliamentary operations. For years the SPD had turned its face exclusively towards parliamentary processes, as if it were in a hypnotic trance . . . The Fascist danger can only be banished by taking up the struggle for the destruction of the National Socialist illusion in the electorate and public opinion.

Source: Mierendorff, ‘Lehren der Niederlage’, Neue Blätter für den Sozialismus 1.11, November 1930, pp. 481–4.

and Mierendorff thinks it was avoidable but it's amazing to read this today and realize it was written 86 years ago. "The core problem of the SPD, the problem of leadership, casts a gigantic shadow over us."

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:45 (two years ago) Permalink

By 1923, Eisler belonged to the “middle group” of the KPD and had become a candidate member of the Central Committee. His group advocated cooperation with the SPD and the rejection of ill-prepared revolutionary adventures. When Ruth Fischer became party leader in 1924, there was little toleration of such moderate views. Fischer removed her brother from the Central Committee and relegated him to relatively unimportant party work. Eisler’s sojourn in KPD obscurity ended, how- ever, with his sister’s political demise. Thereafter, Eisler was editor of the daily communist newspaper, Rote Fahne (Red flag), and a member of the Berlin regional party leadership. In 1927, even though in custody in Berlin’s Moabit prison, Eisler was elected a candidate member of both the Politburo and the Central Committee. Soon thereafter, however, he once again ran afoul of his party’s leadership. In early 1928, following Comintern instructions, Thälmann veered his party sharply to the left. The KPD now adopted a very intransigent position toward the SPD. Indeed, social democracy—branded by the KPD as “social fascism”—was declared the greatest enemy of communism. According to Thälmann, “social democracy . . . is the most dangerous pillar of the enemies of revolution. It is the main social pillar of the bourgeoisie, it is the most active factor of fascistization.”29 As has often been noted, the KPD’s campaign against “social fascism” prevented the party from focusing on what would soon prove a far more dangerous enemy, Hitler’s NSDAP. It also precluded the emergence of a united left against the Nazi threat. And finally, it showcased the KPD’s dogmatism, intolerance, and political inflexibility.

The Last Revolutionaries: German Communists and Their Century, Epstein, Catherine

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:48 (two years ago) Permalink

even in 1930 the argument was that fascism was a result of popular hatred of the capitalist system:

The KPD Analysis of the September 1930 Elections

One question remains to be answered. By deciding to go over to the National Socialists, did the mass electorate of the bourgeois parties express its satis- faction with the existing capitalist system and its acceptance of the domina- tion of finance capital? It is absolutely clear that the reverse of this was the case. Millions of toiling people are voting for the Nazis in order to express their embitterment with capitalist mismanagement and their protest against Young-slavery.

The National Socialists are the paid agents of finance capital, the hired ruf- fians of the Young Plan. Their whole policy serves to defend capitalism against the threat of a proletarian revolution, to put the Young Plan into effect at the expense of the toiling masses. The Fascists, who have entered the new Reichstag with 107 seats, must inevitably lose the confidence of their 6.4 million electors, they are bound to disappoint their expectations, they have to trample on their demands. Hence Hitler’s electoral success bears within itself with inescapable certainty the germ of his future defeat. The 14th of September was the highest point of the National Socialist movement in Germany. What comes afterwards can only be decline and fall.

Fascism is the last card played by the German bourgeoisie against the working-class revolution that threatens it. But this card is also the most unreli- able. Fascism, whose whole mission is the forcible prevention of the proletar- ian revolution, and the armed defence of the assistants of capital, constitutes at the same time, in present-day Germany, the living symptom of the dissolu- tion of the bourgeois social order. That is the objective historical contradiction which seals the coming bankruptcy of German Fascism.

Source: Internationale Presse-Korrespondenz, 78, 16 September 1930.

Note: The main thrust of this analysis was clearly the assertion that mass support for the Nazis reflected popular hatred of the capitalist system, on which the KPD itself hoped to capitalise in the future. It should, however, be noted that this was combined with a recognition of the nationalist element in Nazi support, since the article also ascribed the Nazis’ success to a ‘protest against Young-slavery’. The KPD had also hoped to gain support from nationalist opponents of the Young Plan. This was characteristic of the Party’s line at the time, as expressed in the Programme for the National and Social Liberation of the German People issued in August 1930 (10.12). To call the Nazis ‘hired ruffians of the Young Plan’ when they were notoriously opposed to it may seem absurd, but it was completely in line with the instructions issued at the highest possible level, at a joint meeting of the Soviet leadership, including Stalin and Molotov, and representatives of the ECCI, a month earlier. The KPD was to ‘expose the National Socialists as elements capable of selling themselves to the makers of the Versailles Treaty, although they oppose it in words’ and to stress that ‘the liberation of Germany from Versailles is only possible with the overthrow of the bourgeoisie’.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:49 (two years ago) Permalink

a bunch of quotes from KPD leader Ernst Thälmann

If Germany was going fascist under Müller and Brüning, Hitler was not needed to do the job. The Social-Democrats, in effect, made Brüning the “lesser evil,” and the Communists made him the greater one. After the September 1930 elections, the Social-Democratic leaders decided on a policy of “toleration” vis-à-vis the Brüning regime on the theory that the alternative was a Nazi takeover.28 In retrospect, this decision was probably one of the fatal miscalculations; it appears to have been based on little more than an abdication of responsibility and failure of will. For the next year and a half, it made the Social-Democrats, however heavy of heart, tacit accomplices of Brüning's “presidential government,” which drifted farther and farther away from what had been a parliamentary regime. On the other hand, the Communists went to the opposite extreme and made Brüning so fascist-minded that his replacement by Hitler was unnecessary. Or, in the words of the German Communist leader, Ernst Thälmann: “The more energetically we unmask the nature of the fascist policy of the Brüning government, the more convincingly we prove to the masses that this bourgeois government is itself striving for the actualization of the fascist dictatorship, and need not be replaced by Hitler or [Alfred] Hugenberg [then leader of the extreme right-wing Nationalists], as far as this is concerned, then the more thoroughly do we refute and shatter Social-Democratic agitation, etc., etc.” (my italics, T.D.)

The obvious alternative to Social-Democratic “toleration” of Brüning would have been some measure of Social-Democratic-Communist collaboration, or at least toleration. After 1930, the Social-Democrats and Communists had between them over one-third of the votes and almost two-fifths of the seats in the Reichstag. In November 1931, one of the foremost Social-Democratic spokesmen, Rudolf Breitscheid, made an overture to the Communists to reach an understanding. Thälmann brushed off the offer as “a new demagogic maneuver.” Die Rote Fahne called it “a cunning game” and demanded: “Intensification of the fight against the Social-Democracy along the whole line.”30 This appears to have been the last time the breach between the two parties might have been healed.

For another thing, the theory of social-fascism made Hitler weaker than either Müller or Brüning. This conclusion inevitably followed from the proposition that a “masked” bourgeois dictatorship was harder to overthrow than a “naked” one. At the Tenth Plenum, Kuusinen rebuked those Communists who still thought that fascism might not weaken the bourgeoisie. “In reality,” he instructed them, “the fascisation of the state regime is absolutely no indication that the position of the bourgeoisie is being strengthened.”31 In Germany, where it counted most, the Communists went farthest in discounting the fascist danger. Thälmann assured the Eleventh Plenum in June 1931 that Hitler had reached the high point of his influence at the September 1930 elections and could only go downwards. The fascist offensive, he said, was merely a “secondary fact” that reflected the “revolutionary upsurge,” and, therefore, a sign that the proletarian revolution was reaching “a higher stage of development.”32 Another outstanding German Communist leader, Hermann Remmele, declared in the Reichstag on October 14, 1931: “We are not afraid of the fascists. They will shoot their bolt sooner than any other government.”33

By the end of 1931, the German Communists were sufficiently impressed with the threat of fascism to admit that it might be playing an offensive as well as a defensive role. “We have regarded fascism, including the growth of the National Socialist movement, too one-sidedly and too mechanically, only as the antithesis of the revolutionary upsurge, as the defensive action of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat,” Thälmann self-criticized himself. This view of fascism was correct but inadequate, he allowed. “We have not taken sufficiently into account the fact that fascism bears within it two elements, the element of the offensive of the ruling class and also the element of its disintegration; that the fascist movement can lead to a victory of the proletariat, as well as to a defeat of the proletariat.”37 It had taken only three years of the most intensive application of the theory of social-fascism to get this concession from him. Hitler in power was little more than a year away.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:54 (two years ago) Permalink

and now a brief pictorial interludeülowplatz.jpg
kpd headquarters
Poster of the Portuguese MRPP from the 1970s, commemorating a killed party member. Slogan reads 'Neither Fascism, nor Social fascism. Popular Government'
Two SPD campaign posters from 1932. On the left, the Nazis are singled out

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 15:57 (two years ago) Permalink

bonus labour round:

In his autobiography, Serving My Time (Lawrence & Wishart, 1940), Harry Pollitt, the long-time general secretary of the British party, tells how he ran against Ramsay MacDonald in the 1929 election. The text of his election address, given in full in the book, makes little sense without some reference to the “third period,” “class against class,” and “social-fascism,” which Pollitt carefully avoided mentioning by the time the book was published. This address stated in the true style of its period: “The Labour party is the most dangerous enemy of the workers because it is a disguised party of capitalism” (italics in original). The vote in Seaham Harbour, a largely miners' constituency, was 35,615 for MacDonald, candidate of the disguised party of capitalism, and 1,451 for Pollitt, candidate of the only party of the proletariat.

If Seeckt and Stresemann were the real “fascists,” what were the Social-Democrats implicated with them? In answering this question, Zinoviev brought together a rather mixed group—Marshal Joseph Pilsudski of Poland, like Mussolini a backsliding Socialist; Filippo Turati and Lodovico d'Aragona of Italy, two moderate Socialists (the latter but not the former later went over to Mussolini); a Socialist minister in the Bulgarian government of the day, who soon resigned; and J. Ramsay MacDonald, then about to form the first British Labour government. Zinoviev leaped from Germany to international Social-Democracy in a passage which contained the idea of social-fascism in essence, even if he inverted the term. As the first statement of the theory, it is worth giving in Zinoviev's own words, which I have tried to render as close as possible to his oratorical style:

What are Pilsudski and the others? Fascist Social-Democrats. Were they this ten years ago? No. It goes without saying that they were already then fascists in nuce. But they have become fascists precisely because we are living in the epoch of revolution. What is Italian Social-Democracy? It is a wing of the fascists; Turati is a fascist Social-Democrat. Could this statement have been made five years ago? No. Think of a group of academicians who gradually developed into a bourgeois force. Italian Social-Democracy is now a fascist Social-Democracy. Take Turati, D'Aragona, or the present Bulgarian government Socialists. There were opportunists, but could one say ten years ago that they were fascist Social-Democrats? No, that would have been stupid then. Now they are that.

But it was MacDonald who inspired Zinoviev to coin the phrase which summed up the theory of social-fascism in its first phase:

You may hurl insults at MacDonald: You are a traitor, a servant of the bourgeoisie. But we must understand in what period we are living. International Social-Democracy has now become a wing of fascism.

The first to make its appearance was “class against class.” It was introduced at the Ninth Plenum of the Comintern in February 1928 (a “plenum” was an enlarged meeting of the top leadership or, in effect, a miniature world congress). The slogan signified that there were now only two classes facing each other in mortal combat—the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The Communist parties alone represented the interests of the proletariat. All other parties, movements, and groups represented the bourgeoisie. Of the latter, the most dangerous were the Social-Democrats (they were still being called that, not “social-fascists”) and all species of “reformists.” This excommunication from the true family of the proletariat included not only the Social-Democratic parties but also the trade-union movements associated with them. “Class against class” was first applied in Great Britain, where it was taken to mean that the British Communists could no longer support the Labour party electorally. Thus the British Communist leaders were persuaded in Moscow to put up, for the first time, their own candidates against the Labour party.14

Later, social-fascism was held responsible for the victory of German fascism on the ground that it had split the working class or had tolerated bourgeois regimes which paved the way for fascism. But this was not the way the theory of social-fascism was presented in 1929. It then insisted that social-fascism was the specific form fascism was actually taking.

In Britain, it was a good deal harder to work up the same kind of case against the bloodless MacDonald regime. In 1929, the British Communist party claimed no more than 4,000 members against over 3,000,000 for the Labour party. Some British Communist leaders were understandably reluctant to cut themselves off from the Labour party and to pretend that they, not the Labourites, represented the British working class. But this feat was accomplished, not without considerable prodding from the Comintern, by the simple expedient of reclassifying the Labour party as one of the three capitalist parties and, indeed, the worst of all.23 If social-fascism could be applied to Britain it could be applied everywhere—and was. The theory of social-fascism helped to bring about a catastrophe in Germany; it merely produced a caricature in Britain.

Yet Germany and Britain provided the main justification for the new line at the Tenth Plenum in July 1929. The first report, made by Otto Kuusinen, the loyal Finnish servitor of whatever Russian happened to rule in the Comintern, took the line that the difference between fascists and social-fascists was that the latter used a “smoke screen.” But, he went on, the more social-fascism developed, the closer it came to being “pure” fascism. He thought that British Labourism could be thought of as social-fascism “in the caterpillar stage” whereas German Social-Democracy was already in the “butterfly stage.” To unmask social-fascism, he said, was the most important duty. The second report, by one who spoke with even greater authority, Dmitri Z. Manuilsky, one of the three top Russians in the secretariat, stated that the German Social-Democratic party was already ready to establish an “open bourgeois dictatorship” by itself. Béla Run, then the ranking Hungarian member in the Comintern hierarchy, raised the possibility that social-fascism might be the typical form of fascism in the more advanced capitalist countries. In any event, he declared, any struggle between social-fascism and fascism was merely a struggle “between two methods of fascisation.” The Russian leader of the world Communist trade-union movement, Solomon A. Lozovsky, took to task the idea, which he said was very widespread in Communist circles, that the broad masses of Social-Democracy were less reactionary than their leaders. He insisted that the leaders, top, middle, and bottom, and even some of the rank-and-file, with the exception of some insignificant groups, were going fascist.24

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 16:03 (two years ago) Permalink

To Gerhart Eisler and other more moderate KPD functionaries, open antagonism toward the SPD seemed a poor strategy for winning the German working classes over to communism. KPD leaders labeled Eisler and others like him “conciliators.” But although the “conciliators” were moderate in the content of their political views, they were aggressive in the pursuit of their political goals. They now tried to depose Thälmann. In this, they were aided by the so-called Wittorf Affair. In September 1928, it became known that John Wittorf, Thälmann’s brother-in-law and political aide, had embezzled party funds. Although Thälmann was never implicated in the crime, he attempted to cover up the matter.

When Eisler and his political allies learned of the scandal, they used it to their political advantage: they convinced a majority of the Central Communists in the Weimar Republic Committee to vote for Thälmann’s ouster. At this point, however, Thälmann turned to Stalin, who insisted on the KPD leader’s reinstate- ment. Many Central Committee members now reconsidered their initial votes. Ulbricht, for example, in Moscow at the time, immediately cabled to protest the Central Committee’s decision. Shortly thereafter, Ulbricht, Dahlem, and numerous other Central Committee members signed a public declaration distancing themselves from their initial votes. Thälmann easily won back his position. The tables turned, and those who had opposed Thälmann found themselves politically ostracized. In 1929, for example, Ulbricht declared, “The Party Congress has decreed that the conciliators are not allowed to exercise any leading functions in the party . . . The unanimous statement of the Party Congress . . . against the rotten opportunism of the conciliators proves that the few conciliatory party members are completely isolated.” The aggressive rhetoric and the organizational measures taken against the conciliators illustrates what by the late 1920s had become a defining feature of KPD politics. As one historian has written, “KPD members . . . learned unceasing and vitriolic factionalism as a way of life in the party.” Those party members who advocated political views at odds with the KPD leadership were not only unwelcome—they were enemies.

This marked intolerance toward opposing views would characterize all twentieth-century orthodox communist parties. But observers of the Weimar-era KPD point to the domestic roots of the party’s intense fac- tionalism. In part, this brutal politics reflected the Front experience of party cadres; during World War I there were friends and enemies, but nothing in between. Since enemies were life-threatening, they had to be “liquidated.” As Eisler’s first wife recalled decades later: “‘No mercy for the enemy,’ was another one of the Gerhart proverbs.” The KPD’s obses- sion with the enemy also reflected the more general German proletarian experience, in which, as workers’ memoirs suggest, enemies were omni- present as “exploitative bosses, feared policemen, and faceless bureaucrats.” And it was related to what one author has argued was the central dilemma of the interwar KPD—the fact that the party was a revolution- ary party in nonrevolutionary times. In the absence of genuine enemies who could be defeated (the bourgeois state, the capitalist class), internal enemies had to be invented; this was the only available channel for the party’s revolutionary impulses.


Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 16:23 (two years ago) Permalink

Gerhart Eisler went to China in 1929. What exactly he did there re- mains something of a mystery, but whatever it was, it was very dangerous. In 1927, Stalin had had a real debacle in China when the nationalist Kuomintang, officially allied with the Comintern, massacred Chinese communists in Shanghai. The Chinese Communist Party was now ille- gal and its party members, for good reasons, were highly suspicious of Soviet representatives. Disguised as a salt merchant, Eisler headed the Comintern’s Shanghai political branch. Eisler and his branch communi- cated Comintern directives to the Chinese Communist Party, served as a conduit for messages between that party and Moscow, and submitted “reports concerning all social problems involved in the labor movement in China”—surely a euphemism for political and industrial espionage. Some authors have suggested that Eisler engaged in more nefarious activ- ities. It is said that he reimposed Stalinist orthodoxy on the Chinese Communist Party. According to one author, “Gerhart Eisler [was] sent specifically to China to root out the Trotskyism which had flowered wildly after the bloody defeat of the Chinese Stalinists.” Ruth Fischer, hardly an unbiased observer, later claimed that Eisler, to gain Stalin’s goodwill, “went to China and murdered his closest friends.

not entirely on pt but fantastic quote from fischer

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 16:34 (two years ago) Permalink

BUT WHAT of women communists? Among the major parties in the Weimar Republic, the KPD held the dubious distinction of having the fewest female members and attracting the fewest female voters. Women ranged from 9.1 percent of party members in July 1920 to 16.5 percent of party members in 1929. For many women, the KPD’s combative poli- tics may have seemed too masculine and belligerent. The party presented itself as a body of young, male, muscle-rippled proletarian workers. The party’s activities—armed uprisings, violent strikes, militant demonstrations, and uniformed marches—also reflected its masculine self-image. The KPD shunned any image of itself as soft or feminine. Indeed, in the communist literature of the period, these qualities characterized the enemy. Social democrats were depicted as old, fat, impotent, and female, while communists were invariably virile, tough, and male. In addition, the KPD conveyed ambiguous images of women. Although the party preached a rhetoric of women’s emancipation, party propaganda frequently depicted women as “objects of sympathy and pathos.” But the communist press also circulated images of the “proletarian new woman.” In many ways like her male counterpart, she was, as one historian has written, “youthful, healthy, slender, athletic, erotic.”6 Neither image may have appealed to the hard-pressed, hard-working proletarian woman of the 1920s. Finally, the KPD focused little attention on tradi- tional women’s issues. The party assumed that the problems that women faced, just like all other social problems, would be resolved by the coming revolution.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 17:17 (two years ago) Permalink

Even in the face of mounting Nazi successes, hostility toward the SPD continued to preoccupy the communist movement. As Schirdewan later recalled of SPD-KPD relations, “I was always the witness of large, at times very polarized rallies and bloody clashes. We were not able to set aside our differences [and] to bring about the potential and necessary unity to defend Weimar.” Schirdewan correctly noted that the KPD’s stance prevented the formation of a united left response to the Nazis. He failed to remember, however, that the militant, street-fighting KPD did not wish to preserve what it viewed as the corrupt, repressive Weimar system.

Mordy, Sunday, 26 June 2016 17:31 (two years ago) Permalink

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