How the Bourgeoisie Utilises Renegades
Karl Kautsky - Head of the German Social Democratic Party. Lenin does not like him at all (to say the least)
Alexandr Kolchak - Juan Guaido of the USSR
Carl Gustav Mannerheim - He was a Tsarist white guard supported by the west in order to Balkanize Russia to create Finland.
Gustav Noske - Defense Minister of the Weimar Republic
Phillip Scheidemann - Another member of the German Social Democratic party who voted for the war credits. He was in his post for 127 days.
How the Bourgeoise Utilizes Renegades
Our wireless stations intercept messages from Carnarvon (Britain), Paris and other European centres. Today Paris is the centre of the world imperialist alliance and its wireless messages are therefore often of particular interest. A few days ago, on September 13, the government wireless station in this centre of world imperialism reported the publication of a new anti-Bolshevik book by Karl Kautsky, the well-known renegade and leader of the Second International.
The millionaires and multimillionaires would not use their government wireless station for nothing. They considered it necessary to publicize Kautsky’s new crusade. In their attempt to stem the advancing tide of Bolshevism they have to grasp at everything—even at a straw, even at Kautsky’s book. Our heartfelt thanks to the French millionaires for helping Bolshevik propaganda so splendidly, for helping us by making a laughing-stock of Kautsky’s philistine anti-Bolshevism.
Today, September 18, I received the September 7 issue of Vorwärts, the newspaper of the German social-chauvinists, the murderers of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.
It has an article by Friedrich Stampfer on Kautsky’s new book (Terrorism and Communism) and cites a number of passages from it.When we compare Stampfer’s article and the Paris wireless message we see that the latter is in all probability based on the former. Kautsky’s book is extolled by the Scheidemanns and Noskes, the bodyguards of the German bourgeoisie and murderers of the German Communists, by those who have joined the imperialists of the Entente in fighting international communism.
A highly edifying spectacle! And when I called Kautsky a lackey of the bourgeoisie (in my book The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky), our Mensheviks, those typical representatives of the Berne (yellow) International1, could not find words strong enough to express their indignation.
But it is a fact, gentlemen, despite all your indignation. The Scheidemanns of Vorwärts and the Entente millionaires are certainly not in collusion with me when they praise Kautsky and hold him up as a weapon in the struggle against world Bolshevism. In relation to the bourgeoisie Kautsky—even if he did not realise and did not wish it—has proved to be exactly what I described him to be.
Some of the more “thunderous” of his accusations against the Bolsheviks will show how far he has gone in his apostasy from socialism and the revolution, apostasy that hides behind the name of Marxism.
“Kautsky describes in detail,” Stampfer writes, “how the Bolsheviks always, in the end, arrive at the very opposite of their avowed aims: they were opposed to the death sentence, but are now resorting to mass shootings. . . .”
First, it is a downright lie to say that the Bolsheviks were opposed to the death sentence in time of revolution. At the Party’s Second Congress in 1903, when Bolshevism first emerged, it was suggested that abolition of the death sentence be made one of the demands in the Party programme then being drawn up, but the minutes record that this only gave rise to the sarcastic question: “For Nicholas II too?” Even the Mensheviks, in 1903, did not venture to call for a vote on the proposal to abolish the death sentence for the tsar. And in 1917, at the time of the Kerensky government, I wrote in Pravda that no revolutionary government could dispense with the death sentence; the question was against which class a particular government would use it. Kautsky has so far forgotten how to think in terms of revolution and is so steeped in philistine opportunism that he cannot visualize a proletarian revolutionary party openly acknowledging, long before its victory, the need for capital punishment in relation to counter-revolutionaries. “Honest” Kautsky, being an honest man and an honest opportunist, quite unashamedly writes untruths about his opponents.
Secondly, anyone with the least understanding of revolution will realize that here we are not discussing revolution in general, but a revolution that is developing out of the great imperialist slaughter of the peoples. Can one conceive of a proletarian revolution that develops from such a war being free of counter-revolutionary conspiracies and attacks by hundreds of thousands of officers belonging to the landowner and capitalist classes? Can one conceive of a working-class revolutionary party that would not make death the penalty for such attacks in the midst of an extremely cruel civil war, with the bourgeoisie conspiring to bring in foreign troops in an attempt to overthrow workers’ government? Everyone, save hopeless and ludicrous pedants, must give a negative answer to these questions. But Kautsky is no longer able to see issues in their concrete historical setting in the way he formerly did.
Thirdly. If Kautsky is no longer capable of analysis and writes lies about the Bolsheviks, if he cannot think, or even present the problem of distinctive features of a revolution arising out of four years of war—he could at least take a closer look at what is going on around him. What is proved by the assassination of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg by army officers in the democratic republic of Germany? What is proved by the escape from prison of these officers, who were given preposterously lenient sentences? Herr Kautsky and his whole “independent” party (independent of the proletariat but very much dependent on petty-bourgeois prejudices) evade these issues and resort to snivelling condemnation and philistine lamentations. That is precisely why more and more revolutionary workers the world over are turning away from the Kautskys, Longuets, MacDonalds and Turatis and joining the Communists, for the revolutionary proletariat needs victory over counter-revolution, not impotent “condemnation” of it.
Fourthly. The question of “terrorism” is, apparently, basic to Kautsky’s book. That is evident from the title, also from Stampfer’s remark that “Kautsky is doubtlessly right in asserting that the fundamental principle of the Commune was not terrorism, but universal suffrage”. In my Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky I cited ample evidence to show that all this talk of a “fundamental principle” is a sheer travesty of Marxism. My purpose here is a different one. To show what Kautsky’s disquisitions on the subject of “terrorism” are worth, whom, which class, they serve, I shall cite in full a short article by a liberal writer. It is a letter to The New Republic (June 25, 1919), a liberal American journal which, generally speaking, expresses the petty-bourgeois viewpoint. However, it is preferable to Kautsky’s in not presenting that viewpoint either as revolutionary socialism or Marxism.
This is the full text of the letter:
MANNERHEIM AND KOLCHAK
Sir: The Allied governments have refused to recognise the Soviet Government of Russia because, as they state:
1.; The Soviet Government is—or was—pro-German.
2.; The Soviet Government is based on terrorism.
3.; The Soviet Government is undemocratic and unrepresentative of the Russian people.
Meanwhile the Allied governments have long since recognised the present whiteguard Government of Finland under the dictatorship of General Mannerheim, although it appears:
1.; That German troops aided the whiteguards in crushing the Socialist Republic of Finland, and that General Mannerheim sent repeated telegrams of sympathy and esteem to the Kaiser. Meanwhile the Soviet Government was busily undermining the German Government with propaganda among troops on the Russian front. The Finnish Government was infinitely more pro-German than the Russian.
2.; That the present Government of Finland on coming into power executed in cold blood within a few days’ time 16,700 members of the old Socialist Republic, and imprisoned in starvation camps 70,000 more. Meanwhile the total executions in Russia for the year ended November 1, 1918, were officially stated to have been 3,800, including many corrupt Soviet of officials as well as counter-revolutionists. The Finnish Government was infinitely more terroristic than the Russian.
3.; That after killing and imprisoning nearly 90,000 socialists, and driving some 50,000 more over the border into Russia—and Finland is a small country with an electorate of only about 400,000—the white guard government deemed it sufficiently safe to hold elections. In spite of all precautions, a majority of socialists were elected, but General Mannerheim, like the Allies after the Vladivostok elections, allowed not one of them to be seated. Meanwhile the Soviet Government had disenfranchised all those who do no useful work for a living. The Finnish Government was considerably less democratic than the Russian.
And much the same story might be rehearsed in respect to that great champion of democracy and the new order, Admiral Kolchak of Omsk, whom the Allied governments have supported, supplied and equipped, and are now on the point of officially recognising.
Thus every argument that the Allies have urged against the recognition of the Soviets, can be applied with more strength and honesty against Mannerheim and Kolchak. Yet the latter are recognised, and the blockade draws ever tighter about starving Russia.
This letter written by a bourgeois liberal, effectively exposes all the vileness of the Kautskys, Martovs, Chernovs, Brantings and other heroes of the Berne yellow International and their betrayal of socialism.
For, first, Kautsky and all these heroes lie about Soviet Russia on the question of terrorism and democracy. Secondly, they do not assess developments from the standpoint of the class struggle as it is actually developing on a world scale and in the sharpest possible form, but from the standpoint of a petty-bourgeois, philistine longing for what might have been if there had been no close link between bourgeois democracy and capitalism, if there were no whiteguards in the world, if they had not been supported by the world bourgeoisie, and so on and so forth. Thirdly, a comparison of this American letter with the writings of Kautsky and Co. will clearly show that Kautsky’s objective role is servility to the bourgeoisie.
The world bourgeoisie supports the Mannerheims and Kolchaks in an attempt to stifle Soviet power, alleging that it is terrorist and undemocratic. Such are the facts. And Kautsky, Martov, Chernov and Co. are only singing songs about terrorism and democracy in chorus with the bourgeoisie, for the world bourgeoisie is singing this song to deceive the workers and strangle the workers’ revolution. The personal honesty of “socialists” who sing the same song “sincerely”, i.e., because they are extremely dull-witted, does not in any way alter the objective role played by the song. The “honest opportunists”, the Kautskys, Martovs, Longuets and Co., have become “honest” (in their unprecedented spinelessness) counter-revolutionaries.
Such are the facts.
An American liberal realises—not because he is theoretically equipped to do so, but simply because he is an attentive observer of developments in a sufficiently broad light, on a world scale—that the world bourgeoisie has organised and is waging a civil war against the revolutionary proletariat and, accordingly, is supporting Kolchak and Denikin in Russia, Mannerheim in Finland, the Georgian Mensheviks, those lackeys of the bourgeoisie, in the Caucasus, the Polish imperialists and Polish Kerenskys in Poland, the Scheidemanns in Germany, the counter-revolutionaries (Mensheviks and capitalists) in Hungary, etc., etc.
But Kautsky, like the inveterate reactionary philistine he is, continues snivelling about the fears and horrors of civil war! All semblance of revolutionary understanding, and all semblance of historical realism (for it is high time the inevitability of imperialist war being turned into civil war were realised) have disappeared. This is, furthermore, directly abetting the bourgeoisie, it is helping them, and Kautsky is actually on the side of the bourgeoisie in the civil war that is being waged, or is obviously being prepared, throughout the world.
His shouting, groaning, weeping and hysteria about the civil war serve to cover up his dismal failure as a theoretician. For the Bolsheviks have proved to be right; in the autumn of 1914 they declared to the world that the imperialist war would be transformed into civil war. Reactionaries of every shade were indignant or laughed; but the Bolsheviks were right. To conceal their complete failure, their stupidity and short-sightedness, the reactionaries must try to scare the petty bourgeoisie by showing them the horrors of civil war. That is just what Kautsky as a politician is doing.
To what absurd lengths he has gone can be seen from the following. There is no hope of a world revolution, Kautsky asserts—and what do you think he used as an argument? A revolution in Europe an the Russian pattern would mean “unleashing (Entfessellung) civil war throughout the world for a whole generation ”, and moreover not simply unleashing a veritable class war, but a “fratricidal war among the proletarians ”. The italicised words belong to Kautsky and are—admiringly of course—quoted by Stampfer.
Yes, Scheidemann’s scoundrels and hangmen have good reason to admire them! Here is a “socialist leader” scaring people with the spectre of revolution and scaring them away from revolution! But, curiously enough, there is one thing Kautsky overlooks; for nearly two years the all powerful Entente has been fighting against Russia and thereby stirring up revolution in the Entente countries. If the revolution were even to begin now, even if only in its compromising stage and in only one or two of the Entente Great Powers this would immediately put an end to the civil war in Russia, would immediately liberate hundreds of millions in the colonies, where resentment is at boiling-point and is kept in check only by the violence of the European powers.
Kautsky now obviously has another motive for his actions in addition to the foulness of his servile soul that he demonstrated throughout the imperialist war—he is afraid of protracted civil war in Russia. And fear prevents him from seeing that the bourgeoisie of the whole world is fighting Russia. A revolution in one or two of the European Great Powers would completely undermine the rule of the world bourgeoisie, destroy the very foundations of its domination and leave it no safe haven anywhere.
The two-year war of the world bourgeoisie against Russia’s revolutionary proletariat actually encourages revolution aries everywhere, for it proves that victory on a world scale is very near and easy.
As far as civil war “among the proletarians” is concerned, we have heard that argument from the Chernovs and Martovs. To assess its utter dishonesty, let us take a simple example. During the great French Revolution, part of the peasants, the Vendée peasants, fought for the King against the Republic. In June 1848 and May 1871 part of the workers served in the armies of Cavaignac and Galliffet, the armies that stifled the revolution. What would you say of a man who took this line of argument: I regret the “civil war among the peasants in France in 1792 and among the workers in 1848 and 1871”? You would have to say that he was a hypocrite and defender of reaction, the monarchy and the Cavaignacs.
And you would be right.
Today only a hopeless idiot could fail to understand that what has taken place in Russia (and is beginning or maturing in the rest of the world) is a civil war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. There never has been, and never can be, a class struggle in which part of the advanced class does not remain on the side of the reactionary forces. That applies to civil war too. Part of the backward workers are bound to help the bourgeoisie—for a longer or shorter period. But only scoundrels can use that to justify their desertion to the bourgeoisie.
Theoretically, this is a refusal to understand what the facts of the development of the world labour movement have been screaming and shouting about since 1914. The break away of the top strata of the working class, corrupted by a middle-class way of life and opportunism and bribed by “soft jobs” and other bourgeois sops, began to take shape on a world scale in the autumn of 1914 and reached its full development between 1915 and 1918. By disregarding this historical fact and blaming the Communists for the split in the movement, Kautsky is only demonstrating, for the thousandth time, his role of lackey of the bourgeoisie.
For forty years, from 1852 to 1892, Marx and Engels spoke of part (i.e., the top strata, the leaders, the “aristocracy") of the workers in Britain becoming increasingly bourgeois, owing to that country’s colonial advantages and her monopolies. It is clear as daylight that the twentieth-century imperialist monopolies in a number of other countries were bound to create the same phenomenon as in Britain. In all the advanced countries we see corruption, bribery, desertion to the bourgeoisie by the leaders of the working class and its top strata in consequence of the doles handed out by the bourgeoisie, who provide these leaders with “soft jobs”, give crumbs from their profits to these upper strata, shift the burden of the worst paid and hardest work to backward workers brought into the country, and enhance the privileges of the “labour aristocracy” as compared with the majority of the working class.
The war of 1914-18 has given conclusive proof of treachery to socialism and desertion to the bourgeoisie by the leaders and top strata of the proletariat, by all the social-chauvinists, Gomperses, Brantings, Renaudels, MacDonalds, Scheidemanns, etc. And it goes without saying that for a time part of the workers by sheer inertia follow these bourgeois scoundrels.
The Berne International of the Huysmanses, Vanderveldes and Scheidemanns has now taken full shape as the yellow International of these traitors to socialism. If they are not fought, if a split with them is not effected, there can be no question of any real socialism, of any sincere work for the benefit of the social revolution.
Let the German Independents try to sit between two stools—such is their fate. The Scheidemanns embrace Kautsky as their “own man”. Stampfer advertises this. Indeed, Kautsky is a worthy comrade of the Scheidemanns. When Hilferding, another Independent and friend of Kautsky’s, proposed at Lucerne that the Scheidemanns be expelled from the International, the real leaders of the yellow International only laughed at him. His proposal was either a piece of extreme foolishness or a piece of extreme hypocrisy; he wanted to parade as a Left among the worker masses and, at the same time, retain his place in the International of bourgeois servitors! Regardless of what motivated this leader (Hilferding), the following is beyond doubt—the spinelessness of the Independents and the perfidy of the Scheidemanns, Brantings and Vanderveldes are bound to result in a stronger movement of the proletarian masses away from these traitorous leaders. In some countries imperialism can continue to divide the workers for a fairly long time to come. The example of Britain is proof of that, but the unification of the revolutionaries, and the uniting of the masses with the revolutionaries and the expulsion of the yellow elements are, on a world scale, proceeding steadily and surely. The tremendous success of the Communist International is proof of it: in America, a Communist Party has already been formed, in Paris, the Committee for the Re-establishment of International Contacts and the Syndicalist Defence Committee have come out for the Third International, and two Paris papers have sided with the Third International: Raymond Péricat’s L’Internationale and Georges Anquetil’s Le Titre censuré (Bolshevik?). In Britain, we are on the eve of the organisation of a Communist Party with which the best elements in the British Socialist Party, the Shop Stewards Committees, the revolutionary trade-unionists, etc., are in solidarity. The Swedish Lefts, the Norwegian Social-Democrats, the Dutch Communists, the Swiss and Italian Socialist parties stand solid with the German Spartacists and the Russian Bolsheviks.
In the few months since its organisation early this year, the Communist International has become a world organisation leading the masses and unconditionally hostile to the betrayers of socialism in the yellow International of the Berne and Lucerne fraternity.
In conclusion, here is a highly instructive communication that casts light on the part played by the opportunist leaders. The conference of yellow socialists in Lucerne this August was reported by the Geneva paper La Feuille  in a special supplement appearing in several languages. The English edition (No. 4, Wednesday, August 6) carried an interview with Troelstra, the well-known leader of the opportunist party in Holland.
Troelstra said that the German revolution of November 9 had caused a good deal of agitation among Dutch political and trade union leaders. For a few days the ruling groups in Holland were in a state of panic especially as there was practically universal unrest in the army.
The Mayors of Rotterdam and The Hague, he continues, sought to build up their own organisations as an auxiliary force of the counter-revolution. A committee composed of former generals—among them an old officer who prided himself on having shared in the suppression of the Boxer rebellion in China—tried to mislead several of our comrades into taking up arms against the revolution. Naturally, their efforts had the very opposite result and in Rotterdam, at one time, it seemed that a workers’ council would be set up. But the political and trade union leaders believed such methods premature and confined themselves to formulating a workers’ minimum programme and publishing a strongly worded appeal to the masses.
That is what Troelstra said. He also bragged a good deal, describing how he had delivered revolutionary speeches calling even for the seizure of power, how he realised the inadequacy of parliament and political democracy as such, how he recognised “illegal methods” of struggle and “dictatorship of the proletariat” in the transition period, and so on and so forth.
Troelstra is a typical specimen of the venal, opportunist leader who serves the bourgeoisie and deceives the workers. In words he will accept everything — workers’ councils, proletarian dictatorship and whatever else you wish. But actually he is a vile betrayer of the workers, an agent of the bourgeoisie. He is the leader of those “political and trade union leaders” that saved the Dutch bourgeoisie by joining forces with them at the decisive moment.
For the facts revealed by Troelstra are perfectly clear and point in a very definite direction. The Dutch army had been mobilised, the proletariat was armed and united, in the army, with the poor sections of the people. The German revolution inspired the workers to rise, and there was “practically universal unrest in the army”. Obviously, the duty of revolutionary leaders was to lead the masses towards revolution, not to miss the opportune moment, when the arming of the workers and the influence of the German revolution could have decided the issue at one stroke.
But the treasonable leaders, with Troelstra at their head, joined forces with the bourgeoisie. The workers were stalled off with reforms and still more with promises of reforms. “Strongly worded appeals” and revolutionary phrases were used to placate—and deceive—the workers. It was the Troelstras and similar “leaders”, who make up the Second International of Berne and Lucerne, that saved the capitalists by helping the bourgeoisie demobilise the army.
The labour movement will march forward, ousting these traitors and betrayers, the Troelstras and the Kautskys, ridding itself of the upper stratum that has turned bourgeois, is misleading the masses and pursuing capitalist policies.
September 20, 1919
P.S. Judging by Stampfer’s article, Kautsky is now silent on the Soviet political system. Has he surrendered on this cardinal issue? Is he no longer prepared to defend the banalities set forth in his pamphlet against The Dictatorship of the Proletariat ? Does he prefer to pass from this chief issue to secondary ones? The answer to all these questions must await examination of Kautsky’s pamphlet.
Written: 20 September, 1919
The Berne International was a Socialist International formed in Berne, Switzerland 3–9 February 1919. Its goal was to re-establish the Second International. Lenin and the Bolsheviks rejected it for being opportunistic