Arthur Goldstein (KAPD): No to National-Communism!

GIS Introduction

Make the cause of the people the cause of the nation, so that the cause of the nation becomes the cause of the people!” is how the nationalist propagandist Karl Otto Paetel [1] encapsulated the quintessence of National-Bolshevist ideology, which is once again being adopted by the far right. The essentials of this reactionary conception go back to the activities of the two so-called “Hamburg National Communists”, Fritz Wolffheim and Heinrich Laufenberg, who argued, in the early ‘20s, that the so-called “Versailler Diktat _had led to the multilation of the body of the German Empire_” and to the “proletarianisation of the entire German people”. From this, they deduced the necessity of a “civil peace between capital and the proletariat” and advocated a “revolutionary people’s war” in league with the Soviet Union against the Western Entente powers. This nationalist conglomerate finally resulted in tirades of anti-Semitic abuse, which were substantially directed against the then KPD [Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands — Communist Party of Germany] chairman, Paul Levi (but not only against him). Such reactionary tones in the Communist movement ensured amazement and all sorts of confusions. Because neither Wollfheim nor Laufenberg were just anybody. Both had been active in the American IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), had stood for a long time on the left wing of Social Democracy and were founding members of the KPD. Within the KPD, they had opposed the use of parliamentary and union tactics. After Paul Levi expelled the left-communist opposition through bureaucratic manoeuvres, they had participated in the foundation of the KAPD [2] (Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands — Communist Workers’ Party of Germany), and exercised great influence, primarily in the Hamburg district organisation. The passage of two prominent members to openly reactionary and nationalist positions was a serious test of the new-born KAPD’s performance under pressure. It was principally the now largely forgotten Left-Communist Arthur Goldstein [3] who subjected the so-called “Hamburger Nationalkommunismus” to a thorough criticism and thus effected the immediate expulsion of Laufenberg and Wolffheim from the KAPD. In the following, we document the presentation given by Goldstein to the Second Conference of the KAPD on the theme “Nation and Class Struggle”. Goldstein’s contribution is not only a moving historical document, which clearly shows the problems of the then revolutionary movement, but, despite a few weaknesses in parts, it also gives testimony of the struggle for critical self-reflection and theoretical coherence in the defence of internationalist principles and therefore has not lost its relevance today.

Gruppe Internationaler SocialistInnen

April 2017

Arthur Goldstein: Nation and Class Struggle (Presentation to the Second Party Conference of the KAPD, 1st-4th August, 1920, Weißensee, Berlin)

Comrades! The time has come for a confrontation between Communism and National Communism, that waste product of the bourgeois world. I must say that the spirit of this conference should not be that of intoxication and ecstasy, but, on the contrary, our standard should be that of calm and objective consideration and evaluation of what needs to be said on this theme. You should therefore not expect to be showered with verbal pyrotechnics, but rather I will say what has to be said in a completely sober fashion. The way I see it, there must finally be a clarification in our Party where the KAPD finishes and where the Deutschnationale Volkspartei [DNVP ‒ German National People’s Party — anti-Semitic, revanchist and monarchist – editors] begins. I would like to comment that, in judging the standpoint of our Hamburg comrades, the delegates at our conference must not judge them on their comments here, but solely by what they have set in stone in their texts and newspaper articles. It is only from this point of view that you may judge my presentation, and I ask you to wish to act on this basis.

It is, perhaps, no accident that the Hamburg organisation has made public a declaration of principles precisely now, before the beginning of the Party Conference. I mean that today there must be a Party, that it is an essential in the interest of the continuation of the revolution; being satisfied with a mere declaration of principles today means sanctioning formlessness, where every member is enabled to fight for their principles and to want to push them through, without having to worry about something called organisational unity. Moving onto my theme itself, I may make plain that we in Berlin have certainly not always taken the rugged stand against the Hamburg tendency that is perhaps now being expressed. During the struggles with the Spartakusbund, we did everything to be fair to the Hamburg comrades. We even went far beyond the bounds of what we should have done. We defended Laufenberg and Wolffheim at a time when they were being slandered by the Spartakusbund [4]. We held it as a duty of honour to support them with arguments which perhaps did not entirely correspond with our convictions. If this question has had to be spoken about at all, and the discussion has taken on such vehement forms, then the Berlin organisation, which has restrained itself with the greatest reserve, is not to blame. If you followed our paper up until today, you would find almost nothing that could be interpreted as aggressive towards the Hamburg tendency. Only when the issue was once again, and in a harsher form, flung into the Party from the direction of Hamburg, only then did we clearly and unambiguously make our position precise, which is identical to that of the entire Third International.

I may put the question: what is actually the pivot of Hamburg National Communism? I think that one can distinguish two epochs in the Hamburg tendency; the first is arguably characterised by the text “Revolutionärer Volkskrieg oder konterrevolutionärer Bürgerkrieg" [“Revolutionary People’s War or Counterrevolutionary Civil War”], and the second began, perhaps, at the point of our Party’s foundation. When the First Communist Address saw the light of day it was henceforth clear to me that a path was being struck which was well-suited to abandon the socialist road [5]. We all believed that this tendency would gradually disappear again under the effects of the political situation, of the World political circumstances. Indeed, I can relate the peculiar fact that, when the Lüttwitz affair [6] burst on the scene, comrade Wendel [7] completely spontaneously declared “Now National-Bolshevism is completely finished for me!” I say that we once had this hope. We were disappointed in this.

The foundation of the KAPD arrived. At the founding Conference, you will recall, a programmatic declaration was adopted which rejected all Bolshevism with a nationalist taint. This declaration was also printed in the Hamburg KAZ [Kommunistische Arbeiterzeitung — KAPD newspaper], but the decisive passage was not published. When things took this turn, and finally when the text “Kommunismus gegen Spartakismus” [Communism against Spartacism] appeared, which in my opinion means a downright capitulation of scientific socialism, when further article after article appeared in the Hamburg KAZ in which they went ever more clearly in a very defined direction, in which they sought to engage the proletariat in things which lie in the direction of counterrevolution, then here there must be a total separation.

What is now the central point of the Hamburg point of view? In the First Communist Address, essentially a position was taken regarding the problems of the Treaty of Versailles, and I must recognise that Lauffenberg and Wolffenheim had the merit of really clearly and comprehensibly saying what had to be said first on this very question: it cannot be accepted under any circumstances. On this point we were agreed. That should be stressed, as the Spartakusbund had in the meantime introduced a policy which in this question too displayed a reformist/opportunist character. Here we recognise Laufenberg and Wolffheim’s merit in declaring that the Treaty of Versailles is a bulwark of international counterrevolution. It not only threatens the German proletariat, but it also undermines in the present the preconditions for a future socialist mode of production in Germany. The merit of realising this is something that we, too, acknowledge. We treated this problem in the same way in the Berlin KAZ. The biggest question remains: How do the Hamburg comrades see the overthrow of the Treaty of Versailles happening? And here we come to one of the chief problems of Hamburg Communism in general. If I am starting from the right premises, I think I can say that the comrades Laufenberg and Wolffheim in their declaration of the necessity of the annulment of the peace treaty and in their position on how the abrogation should come about, are being led by the following point of view: they assume that the necessary precondition for the confrontation with Entente capital cannot be a question of negotiations, but, on the contrary, this confrontation signifies the first precondition for Communism in Germany. They go further and say that, in view of the superiority of Entente industry and technology, the German proletariat would face an enormous task, if it was posed the question of taking up the struggle with Entente capitalism. In this evaluation, they have come to the conclusion that the German proletariat‘s own forces would not be capable of doing this task justice. Because they lack the necessary trust in the power of the German proletariat, now they are therefore infatuated with the idea of wanting to overthrow the Treaty of Versailles together with the bourgeoisie, not by force of the proletariat on its own.

What can be said about this? The Hamburgers very frequently refer to the example of the Russian Soviet government. Russia today also has generals and high officers at the top. But it must not be forgotten that Russia, while it was waging war with the Entente, was also fighting an internal civil war, and that no-one thought of engaging a Brusilov [8] until the bourgeoisie in Russia was defeated as a class in the civil war. I said, the Hamburg comrades point to the example of Russia. They have other facts which are decisive for their positioning with respect to the Treaty of Versailles. We do not reproach them in any way for raising this question for discussion in the first place; rather, the contrary. We reject only the way and manner in which this problem has been brought up for debate, that the central point of the Hamburgers’ politics is that the revolutionary people’s war against the Entente is described as the most essential thing. However, before I go into this, I must establish the following. The Hamburg comrades, in putting this problem so much in the foreground, have caused themselves to be led by a distinct point of view. They see only one possible political and historical path for the continuation of the revolution. They start from the idea that Germany represents the pivot of the world revolution, which we also accept. We have always clearly formulated the idea that the German revolution must be driven forwards, if the world revolution is to achieve victory at all. I need not go into this.

But whether history really will go this way, that is the biggest question. Who guarantees us that Germany will be the country in which the revolution breaks out first? I can imagine that in Italy, where things are ripe, the revolution could come earlier under certain circumstances. Austria too, or the Balkans could one day be in flames. It is also possible that here or there a new revolutionary movement could make itself visible. All of these are possibilities with which a politician must take into account. One can never declare that history can only take the sole path that one has thought out for it, and cannot strike another. Everyone who was in the war and had the opportunity to speak with French socialists, will concede that the chief concern of the French Socialists is German militarism. They would have already struck out, if it were not for German militarism standing in the background. If we in Germany today seized hold of the politics of a resolute class struggle and showed that the German proletariat wished to break with the bourgeoisie, then the movement in France would also take on a more rapid tempo. And here I reproach the Hamburg comrades for inhibiting the tendencies for the development of the revolutionary movement, especially in France, in the most socially dangerous way. I have been confronted by articles from the French communist press in which the fear has been expressed, that the Hamburg tendencies could under certain circumstances gain the upper hand in the KAPD. That nothing is so suited to stop the world revolution in its tracks as the question of national communism, cannot be doubted. France would say, that now the old bourgeois society can mobilise again, under the flag of communism, in order to smash the revolutionary movement in France with an iron fist, with the help of German communists.

I said that this so-called revolutionary people’s war has moved to become the central point of the Hamburg politics, that people’s war that after the proletarian seizure of power could be a possibility. Whoever is inclined to make any concessions to the Hamburg comrades on these points, would be taught by their most recent articles that those in Hamburg are no longer satisfied with propagating the so-called revolutionary people’s war after the seizure of proletarian power, but, on the contrary, go beyond that and propagandise for the national uprising now, in the present situation, openly making the party of the counterrevolution their own. Here we pose the question: how is it possible that communists could arrive at such a position? Before I enter into the question of the nation, this principal problem, more deeply, I must make a few observations on the way and manner the Hamburg comrades actually imagine the war against Entente capital, under what circumstances it should be waged. You certainly know that in the First Communist Address the formula can be found, according to which, under the precondition that the German bourgeoisie submits to the new communist order, a so-called revolutionary civil peace should be applied. [Interjection: That’s not so!] Then there must have been a new edition. In the copy I have here in front of me it is clear. I can even read the passage out: Here we have it: “Under the precondition that the bourgeoisie recognises the seizure of power completed by the proletariat, the proletarian dictatorship would be as interested in the establishment of a revolutionary civil peace for the duration of the war against the exterior, just as it happened the other way around under Wilhelm II.” What would such a revolutionary civil peace mean? It means that on would relegate the positive idea of socialism for the benefit of the idea of the common defence of Germany against the Entente.

The essential thing in the Hamburg train of thought is not that we now defend communism, but, on the contrary, Germany, as a recreated nation which finds its first expression with the proletariat’s seizure of power. There is talk, on more than one occasion, of the struggle against foreign domination, which must be taken up at the moment of the revolutionary civil peace with the bourgeoisie. What does this struggle mean? Nothing but unchaining all the nationalist instincts in the proletariat of the Entente countries, which will prop up the socialism of old Social Democracy, should it answer with the same nationalism. I may point to the situation at the moment, to the war in Poland. If Russia today imposes a certain restraint on itself vis-à-vis Poland, this is not least because it fears that an over-aggressive action against Poland would draw the Polish people into a nationalist frenzy. This is also what we must stress against the Hamburg position. But it is not just because the idea of a revolutionary civil peace opens all channels to nationalism, there is something worse: what are the probable circumstances under which the German bourgeoisie would see itself finding cause to distance itself from civil war against the proletarian dictatorship? Just imagine the situation clearly. In Germany, the proletariat has achieved power, the German proletariat has before it the task of defending the position it has won against the Entente powers. In this situation the German bourgeoisie supposedly declares itself ready to join the fight for the proletarian dictatorship. What would be the likely political sense of such a war of the German proletariat against Entente capital? What political aim would such a war, which has indeed been described as class struggle by the Hamburg comrades, probably pursue? It certainly cannot, interpreted as class struggle, be content to defend communism in Germany, it must rather chase the greater goal of defeating capitalism in the Entente countries [Interjection: Very good!]. Otherwise it would just be a war which was waged with purely negative aims. If one assigns this revolutionary war such a description, then it must have a positive aim, and indeed, the goal of carrying communism to the Entente countries too.

If the Hamburg comrades started from these conditions, then one would doubtlessly expect the German bourgeoisie to work for the total annihilation of World capital after its own defeat, after the elimination of German capital. [Interjection: Very good!] That it would allow itself to be used for the complete establishment of World communism? Expecting something like this from the German bourgeoisie is certainly not on. One shouldn’t expect one’s opponent to be stupid enough to work for its own suicide. What does it mean if, one the one hand, one represents the idea of a revolutionary people’s war, and, on the other, declares the idea of a civil war in that situation to be counterrevolutionary, and does everything to discredit the idea of civil war? We probably all know that we are not enthusiastic supporters of civil war. We would all be very happy to realise communism in the most bloodless way. What does civil war mean? For us, it cannot be a question of whether we consider civil war to be harmful or useful, for us, the question must be posed thus: can we achieve socialism without civil war? Can victory be achieved without struggle? We say that it will be the biggest civil war the World has ever seen.

Without further delaying myself by discussing the necessity or utility of this thing, I’d rather investigate the causes and basis upon which the Hamburg comrades took their position on revolutionary people’s war and revolutionary civil peace. Here, I actually have to go back to what was written in Hamburg during the war. It would be distasteful to me to go into this, and I wouldn’t do it at all, had the Hamburg comrades not themselves referred to their position during the war, to their position against the Spartakusbund’s politics of inviting soldiers to desert the front, which the Hamburg comrades called stabbing the front in the back. Here they attacked the Spartakusbund for its greatestest service, in that they at least tried to break the neck of that counterrevolutionary instrument, the German army. I could cite to you various passages on this question, but I refrain from doing so. We do not refer to Lenin except because the Hamburg comrades refer to him falsely. Lenin, on this question, stands exactly where we stand. One should not ascribe to a Paul Levi the hero’s role that he has been given. Levi was only Rosa’s apprentice. If Levi is always named in the attacks, I believe that the attacks are not meant for him, but, on the contrary, Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who made precisely this policy of the Spartakusbund, the necessary smashing of the imperialist army, their own [9]. How is it possible that Laufenberg and Wolffheim in these very things express a conception so totally different from ours? If we ask ourselves that, we come to what is actually the central problem of Hamburg communism. In the text “Kommunismus gegen Spartakismus” [Communism against Spartacism], it is openly admitted that in Hamburg the nation is raised to the starting point of politics, that therefore the idea of the nation is considered to be the most important, and that it should be the measuring stick for the politics of the German and international proletariat. How about that?

I may remind you that the feudal period of history showed very little evidence in its consciousness of the nation. Feudalism did not know these coherent national states, which were later realised in the course of history. I only remind you of the German Middle Ages; there was nothing there which could already point towards the development of a national coherence and unity. Recall the struggles in Italy, which occurred between individual oligarchies, and it is only with the development of capitalism in history, with the emergence of the bourgeoisie, that the tendency towards national union and freedom shows itself. The great revolutionary movement in 17th century England the great French Revolution of 1789 established unified national states as the final act of the entire revolutionary movement. We learn from this that the establishment of the nation was an affair, and, indeed, a characteristic affair of the bourgeois world. Beginning with the establishment of the national states, which was necessary for the interests of the capitalist mode of production, because capitalism requires large unified economic regions for its development, there appeared the first stirring of nationalism in the consciousness of peoples. The great deed of the French bourgeoisie consisted precisely in the declaration of the nation. But this was a moment imprinted by an exclusively bourgeois character. How does the proletariat now deal with the idea of the nation? That is our question. It doesn’t just concern us now, but it also concerned socialism in its initial phase, at least that socialism which we describe as scientific and which was founded by Marx and Engels. Both the founders of scientific socialism dealt with this historical problem very thoroughly. They intervened with passion for the efforts for the unification of Italy, Germany, Poland, etc. But they did this from the standpoint that national unification was a historically progressive thing. They did this in the times when capitalism was at the beginning of its development, where the creation of national states had to be the precondition for the proletariat to enter the stage of history. It’s another question, whether this idea today may still play a role. In my view, the era of national unification and liberation struggles ended for Western Europe in 1871. From this point on, in Western Europe — and Germany must count as part of it — we had already seen how capitalism more and more broke through national boundaries with its colonial policies, we see how the idea of imperialism has been put on the agenda. All the capitalist nations from then on pursued imperialist policies. Capitalism is displaying the tendency to go beyond national borders, in that it builds great economic syndicates which no longer bother themselves with national tendencies. If the bourgeoisie no longer possesses any interest for this nationalism, if it unscrupulously ignores it to follow its agenda, to pursue its economic interests, how much less of an interest will the proletariat have in acting for nationalism in any way whatsoever? [Interjection: Very right!] We are today in a world political situation which is doubtless heading towards a decision point. The existence of the Russian regime makes it necessary for Entente capital to use its troops to attack Russia again and again. It also makes it necessary for the international proletariat to stand up for the idea of international class struggle. In a situation where it is not a question of whether the English working class engages in wage struggle but where it stands before the task of making world politics, in a situation where World capital is absolutely unified in its organisation against the international proletariat, we cannot and should not carry out the delusional politics of nationalism. I say that that is as counterrevolutionary as nothing else imaginable can be. [Interjection: who says that? Interjection in reply: Marx!] If you don’t believe it, you just need to look at the last issues of the Hamburg KAZ. [Interjection: Which article?] Every article! If we are dealing with the topic of the nation, then, for us, it is obvious that we do not think of denying the existence of the nation. This did not occur to us, and it is not written anywhere.

In the pamphlet “Nation und Internationale” we said that even race problems can still exist. [10] Such questions cannot be put to rest by decree, nor by motions of a Party congress. We have no thought of solving problems in this way. But the Party congress must take a clear position. I said that we have never denied the existence of the nation. However, that does not at all mean that this nation thing should be made the object of proletarian politics. We protest against the idea. By throwing the nation thing into the debate today, one is bringing the whole work of socialism to naught. This work had reached the point that the proletariat was aware that it is international. It said to itself, we have common interests against capitalism. Through such things, this work is being sabotaged again and national tendencies brought to their special strengths. We decisively protest against this. Has scientific socialism, to which we still claim to belong, ever espoused a position with respect to the nation like this, like the Hamburg comrades are doing? [Interjection by W. [Wolffheim], Hamburg: Yes, of course!] I am of a different opinion.

Marx and Engels certainly considered the national element, but today it can play no further role. Perhaps someone can tell me where, in all of the literature the talk is that the national element should be made the chief factor of proletarian politics? [Interjection: H. [Happ], Hamburg: The Communist Manifesto!] The Manifesto starts by saying that all history is the history of class struggle. It was Marx himself that so vehemently recognised this idea against Utopianism. What does the development from utopianism to science consist of? Utopianism is rooted in the belief that the bourgeoisie can be convinced, by arguments about justice and morality, of the idea of socialism, that there is a common interest between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Then it was Marx and Engels who moulded the sharp-edged idea of class struggle. This is the basis of scientific socialism. Of course, it is a fact of nature that there are nations. That is obvious. We argue only that the idea of class struggle must become far stronger than the idea of the nation, that the national framework must be shattered, if the proletariat wants to be victorious. [Interjection, W. [Wolffheim], Hamburg: In the further logical development!] If Laufenberg and Wolffheim claim that we must take up history at the point where the bourgeoisie came no further, that is, at the point where the German bourgeois revolution reached a stopping point, that today we are duty-bound to continue these ideas to their conclusion, then that is pure nonsense. It is unhistorical thinking. Imperialism has shown that the bourgeoisie is no longer thinking in just nationalist terms [11]. Therefore, it certainly cannot be our duty to continue the failed bourgeois revolution of 1848.

I am coming to my conclusion. Today, in a situation where everything depends on formulating the idea of class struggle as sharply as possible, where the international proletariat must forge a unified front to confront the mighty power of World capital with an equally mighty international proletarian power, we must ruthlessly combat all those tendencies which could be suited to diverting the proletariat from its path. Today, the proletariat cannot under any circumstances be brought back to where it champions even the idea of a compromise with the bourgeoisie. Between dying capitalism and the development of the proletarian revolution there can be no compromise of any sort. Here there is only struggle until resolution. For this reason, I and my Berlin friends consider it necessary to prosecute the taking of a clear position against national communism. It must be clearly decided what is understood as communism and what is not. At the time of its foundation, the party was faced with such a bright situation. Everywhere the masses streamed towards us. We all had expectations of being able to organise the party in an excellent way. At that moment, this bone of contention arrived from Hamburg: Kommunismus gegen Spartakismus. That damaged us more than we are able to repair even today. Therefore, it is a necessity that this argument is fought out until its final consequences. The most perverse thing would be to agree another lazy compromise. If we did that, we would experience these struggles anew. The party as such must clearly express how it stands in relation to these things. It must adopt a programme, it must lie down guidelines, that will either be accepted or not. Something positive must be established. And it has to be said here that those who do not accept the programme have no further business in the party.

Further reading:

KAPD (1920): Leitsätze über Nation und Klassenkampf [Principles on the Nation and Class Struggle]

The KAPD and National Bolshevism in Revolutionary Perspectives 10 (Series 3)

The Second Congress of the KAPD in Revolutionary Perspectives 16 (Series 3) (both available for £3 each from our London address or email at uk@leftcom.org.

Das Problem des Nationalismus und the GKM (Gruppe Kommunistischer Maximalisten) Russland/Ukraine [The Problem of Nationalism and the GKM (Group of Communist Maximalists), Russian/Ukraine] See leftcom.org

Unter falscher Flagge: Die Liaison der sog. “Internationalistischen Genossen” (Griechenland) mit antisemitischen Verschwörungsfreaks und ihre nationalistische Metamorphose [Under a False Flag: the Link between the So-called “Internationalist Comrades” See leftcom.org

Notes

[1] Karl Otto Paefel (23rd November 1906 — 4th May 1975) was a nationalist commentator and strategist of left-right co-operation. After activity in the Bündischen Jugend [an association of youth and young adult groups], he worked closely with Ernst Jünger and the reactionary journal “Die Kommende” [“Those who are to come”], then founded the “Gruppe Sozialrevolutionärer Nationalisten” [“Group of Social-Revolutionary Nationalists”] and the journal “Sozialistische Nation”, and put together the so-called “Nationalbolschewistische Manifest” [“National Bolshevist Manifesto”] in 1933. Paetel maintained connections with Ernst Niekisch and made his mark with a series of kitsch tracts as an apologist for National Bolshevism.

[2] The KAPD was founded in April 1920 by the Left-Communist current which had resisted the opportunist directives of Moscow on the parliamentary and union questions and had been expelled from the KPD for this reason. It considered itself to be a strictly anti-parliamentarist organisation, denounced the unions as bourgeois tools and defended internationalist positions.

[3] Arthur Goldstein was born in 1887 in Lipine (Lipny) in Silesia. He joined the SPD in 1914, then the USPD and finally the Spartakusbund and/or KPD. Together with Hermann Gorter he wrote the KAPD draft programme and belonged to its leadership. Later, he was active in the council communist group “Rote Kämpfer” [Red Fighters], which was brought into being in 1931/2 by former members of the so-called “Essener Richtung” [Essen Tendency]. After the Nazis’ seizure of power, he organised the leadership abroad of the Rote Kämpfer in his Paris exile. During the German occupation, Goldstein was arrested and deported to Auschwitz where he was murdered.

[4] What is meant here are the confrontations within the KPD on parliamentarism and the policy of “reconquest of the unions.

[5] Goldstein is here referring to a programmatic basic document of Laufenberg and Wolffheim which was published in the Hamburg KAPD paper.

[6] This refers to the Kapp Putsch of 13th May 1920 against the Weimar Republic.

[7] Friedrich Wendel (12th May 1886-8th March 1960) belonged together with Goldstein to the KAPD Executive Committee. Later he was active in the Social Democratic “Bücherkreis” [Book Circle, a profit-free publisher] and, after WWII, in the Kiel SDP.

[8] Alexei A. Brusilov (19th August 1853-17th March 1924) was a Russian military officer. After training in the Imperial Corps of Pages, he had a career as a cavalry officer. He was highly decorated in the Russian-Turkish war. During WWI, he was the commanding general of cavalry on the South-West Front. From June to September 1916, he was responsible for a large-scale offensive against the Central Powers, which was intended to relieve the Allied troops on the Western Front. In the course of this so-called Brusilov Offensive, the Austro-Hungarian formations suffered heavy losses, and Rumania was enticed to enter the war on the Entente side. However, an estimated 1.5 million Russian soldiers paid for this with their lives. The consequence was a growing demoralisation in the Russian army and finally the February Revolution of 1917. In May 1917, he was named by supreme commander Kerensky, but then removed by L. Kornilov. After the October Revolution, he adopted an apolitical stance. Towards the end of the Civil War, he joined the Red Army and worked as a military advisor to Semjon Budyonnis’ Red Cavalry, amongst others

[9] Wolffheim and Laufenberg rejected the Spartakusbund’s anti-war propaganda and the calls for desertion in the final years of the war, calling them “betrayals of the Fatherland”. Within the framework of the “people’s war” that they propagandised for, they advocated a civil peace with the bourgeoisie

[10] This formulation might sound strange from today’s standpoint because the reactionary concept of “race” has in the meantime been scientifically unambiguously refuted. Nevertheless, we can point out that Goldstein in his text “Nation und Internationale” clearly understood the racist implications of the German nationalism propagated by Laufenberg and Wolffheim: “Hamburg _communism has omitted one thing until now: the definition of what they understand by the nation. This last corollary is necessary in the interests of a common clarification. And we have no doubt that the next and last step will lead to the problematic field of racial biological hypotheses, because the historical retreat into the bourgeois world is identical to the retreat to the “Grundlagen des XIX. Jahrhunderts” [“Foundations of the 19th Century”, Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s lunatic Meisterwerk]. One step further, and we will experience capitalism degraded to a racial problem. Whoever steps on the steep downward slope of nationalism is lost without hope of rescue. We say it clearly: Hamburg nationalism is a danger for the proletarian revolution._”

[11] Of course, Goldstein does not mean by this that the ideology of nationalism has lost any of its danger or explosive potential. Goldstein merely wished to stress that the epoch in which the proletariat could support national struggles is irrevocably past

Thursday, June 29, 2017