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 Post subject: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:11 pm 
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by Kautsky, written end 1915 (published early 1916).

Spoiler:
That the outbreaking war would bring revolution, I nor Bebel have ever expected, and both of us were always thinking, to keep away any obligation of our party to revolutionary action at outbreak of war, because of the conviction that such an obligation could not be held after all.*

Already in June 1907, before the Stuttgart International congress, I developed this thought in a preface to my brochure "Patriotismus und Sozialdemokratie", where I showed, that we, as long as we lack the might, to grab political power during peace, also would not be able to prevent war. The attempts thereto were certain defeat. This viewpoint does not have to discourage us, if we only stay loyal to our oppositional fundamentals. Then in the course of the war the confidence of the masses must rise to us:

Quote:
"The longer the war lasts, the more the masses will listen to us, the more our political standing and our political might will increase. Then, at the end of the war, we can count on great success."

Never are governments stronger as at the outbreak of war, and I can't recall any example in history, where a declaration of war was responded to by an insurrection in the own country. Even the bankrupt French Empire 1870 and likewise the Czar 1904 met no resistance at the opening of war. In contrast there is since a century in Europe no great war, whose end did not one way or another had a deep change of the political system in its wake. In as much, not due to direct results, that constituted the price of battle, but due to further consequences one can mark every European war since a hundred years as the locomotive of world history. Indeed, this locomotive travels fastest when the direct results of war are smallest and stand out of all proportion to the sacrifices.

When the danger is adjured, which threatens the country from outside, the peace situation recovered, the pressure of the outside enemy gone, then the internal battle lights up with all the more energy, the more any critical impulse during the war was limited, the narrower the oppositional might locked in, the higher it pents up.

The soonest this is to be expected in Russia, whose government already before the war found itself in unstable equilibrium and which in the war suffered the greatest defeats, at the same time has constricted most closely any critique.

We cannot yet know, which forms the impending collapse of Czarism will take. The only thing which one can reveal with certainty about the forms of a coming revolution, is, that it will look different then its predecessor. That must be so, since every revolution removes social and political conditions, through which it was generated, and makes it thereby impossible, that the next one resembles it, as this one is engendered from changed conditions. Even so revolutionaries and reactionaries portray a coming revolution still on the model of the past one and set accordingly their tactics, not to the benefit of development. Admittedly one can learn only from experience, but the experiences of past revolutions are only one part of the complex of facts of experience, from which we have to learn. We must always then try, to lay the experience of the whole previous social development and the present situation of society at the basis of our action. As no mortal is given to create this "universal cohesion", it is impossible, to speak with definiteness about the coming forms of a political system change.

It is accordingly today impossible, to know, which forms the coming collapse of Czarism will take. Certain is only that it will look different as the one of 1905. And it is to be expected that it will move the whole of Europe even deeper then the latter. Back then it sufficed to make all national differences and oppositions vanish. These, which today are so profound, so self-evident, so inextinguishable, were 1905 completely extinguished, the whole of Europe divided in two international camps, one conservative and one revolutionary. On the neighbour-countries of Russia, namely on Austria and the Balkan states the effects were enormous.

The comrades Pernerstorser and Leuthner not only declare war on the Russian government, but also on the Russian people and want to cut if off from Europe and ban it to Asia, since it only brings harm to Western culture. And yet Austria's biggest advance, the last election reform, was won through the pressure of the Russian revolution. Without the uprising of the Russian people the grim denouncers of Russian "Volksimperialismus" would hardly have arrived at their present Reichsrat mandates.

Russia is today no longer merely the country of despotism, against which Marx and Engels in the past demanded war, but the country of revolution.

If we cannot yet know, which forms the coming revolt of the Russian people will take, it cannot be doubted that it will find powerful repercussion in Western Europe. And this must practically be far more potent than one decade ago.

However the war may crop out, that it will leave Europe in the deepest misery, is certain. The production process will be in deepest disruption, it will lack capital just as the for the run of production irreplaceable proportionality of individual sectors of productions. Inflation and unemployment will besiege the proletarian masses, which greatly swell through the destruction of countless small businesses in commerce and industry. At the same time the emergency takes political expression in new taxes, which equal double or treble of the last ones. Their jolting political effect is increased hugely further, when the peace brings a new era of arms race, whose fundamentals and costs by the results and experiences of this war must soar infinitely above the situation before the war.

The tendencies of capitalism to immiseration of the proletariat, which in the last decades seemed temporarily overcome, will then assert themselves with the same terrible vehemence, which they attained a century ago after the close of the world war in England.

But how completely different the proletariat stands today as back then! From irregular outbreaks of despair against individual objects, which constituted the property of capitalists, from wild machine destruction and arsons has come a powerful, firmly ordered movement, on whose agreement to war policy the governments now everywhere put the highest value. One can think as one wants about cooperation of government and workers movement, as symptom of the power of the latter it is an extraordinary occurrence. The cooperation will nowhere be able to outlast the war, the consciousness of power will stay with the masses, also the most intimidated parts of them. And at the same time the ruin of the middle class must bring them a powerful influx, which will not leave it without animosity. The layers who were until now the most firm dam of the establishment, will most decisively long for its overcoming, which has become unbearable to them.

When the subjective, that is the in the minds of people operating conditions, which push towards socialism grow, then not less the objective, in the things and relations, that make possible its realization, to which Eckstein already pointed in his article on war and socialism.

The large business in industry will predominate more as ever and at the same time the control of banks over industry will become absolute. The disarray of the production process though will at the same time be so high, that its regulation by governments, banks and communities will be indispensable.

That cannot happen without application of large means, which the public has to bring, which however are used for saving capital profit.

Then powerful struggles will light up about, whether these means secure capitalism and will transform into an industry-feudalism or whether state regulation of production instead of capital serves the proletariat, thus will be a socialist one.

These struggles will culminate in the struggle for political power. If therein the proletariat wins, then socialism is moved within tangible reach.

Such are the perspectives which we today have to reveal to the proletariat. As bold as they are, they are far less illusionary as the bourgeois state of the future of a mitteleuropean trench community, for which now a row of socialist try to convince the working classes.

The idea of Mitteleuropa is carried by a convinction, that the coming peace can only be truce, in which it holds to arm oneself for the next war.

This idea we oppose with the idea of a peace, which allows friendship and free intercourse with all peoples. We oppose to it the idea of the struggle for socialism, which warrants us eternal peace.

* the same was said by Luxemburg http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxembu ... s/ch07.htm
Quote:
But what action should the party have taken to give to our opposition to the war and to our war demands weight and emphasis? Should it have proclaimed a general strike? Should it have called upon the soldiers to refuse military service? Thus the question is generally asked. To answer with a simple yes or no were just as ridiculous as to decide: “When war breaks out we will start a revolution.” Revolutions are not “made” and great movements of the people are not produced according to technical recipes that repose in the pockets of the party leaders. Small circles of conspirators may organise a riot for a certain day and a certain hour, can give their small group of supporters the signal to begin. Mass movements in great historical crises cannot be initiated by such primitive measures.


Lenin underlined this passage as problematic, but later said the same thing http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/w ... ec/04b.htm
Quote:
On the question of combating the danger of war, in connection with the Conference at The Hague, I think that the greatest difficulty lies in overcoming the prejudice that this is a simple, clear and comparatively easy question.

“We shall retaliate to war by a strike or a revolution” that is what all the prominent reformist leaders usually say to the working class. And very often the seeming radicalness of the measures proposed satisfies and appeases the workers, co-operators and peasants.

Perhaps the most correct method would be to start with the sharpest refutation of this opinion; to declare that particularly now, after the recent war, only the most foolish or utterly dishonest people can assert that such an answer to the question of combating war is of any use; to declare that it is impossible to “retaliate” to war by a strike, just as it is impossible to “retaliate” to war by revolution in the simple and literal sense of these terms.


It was clear with the military defeats and increasing strikes of 1915 in Russia, but Lenin did not write so adamant as Kautsky does (in fact Lenin does not put this idea in print, only in some letters and a draft for an article). Lenin (or any historian or communist) has never quoted this prediction by Kautsky (they were simply unaware of it, until I found it). And given the usual picture of Kautsky, isn't it remarkable that he not only predicts and welcomes the Russian revolution, but also the effects it will have on central Europe?

The source is p.54-56 of Kautsky's Vereinigten Staaten Mitteleuropas (the entire text is still relevant for estimating the EU project).


Last edited by TFM on Fri Mar 22, 2013 7:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.
reformatted for readability


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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:25 pm 
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There is another interesting text about the RR; http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky ... ussian.htm

It seems written days before the October revolution (not "predicting", but rather speaking of a matter of fact that a third stage is inevitable). Also he sketched the pitfalls, and makes the right call:

Quote:
But they should bring to us the grave warning, not to leave our Russian comrades alone to their fate. Their cause is the cause of the international proletariat. The collapse of revolutionary Russia would halt the process of democratization in Central Europe that has already begun.

Revolutionary Russia alone is not in a position to enforce a peace upon the terms it has proclaimed. It is time for the International to do its duty, at last, toward itself as well as toward the Russian revolution.


(again, this seems to be days before the actual October revolution happened!)


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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:47 pm 
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Yeah, and so what? Notice how Kautsky makes the content of the revolution a) Russianand b)democracy as opposed to international and socialist, that is to say for the overthrow of capitalism in all of Europe.

More than mere technicalities.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:59 pm 
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He says in as many words that it will start in Russia and spread to Germany. It's amazing that this passed censorship and was published in Germany.


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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:13 pm 
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Not a very groundbreaking prediction.
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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:34 pm 
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timeX wrote:
Not a very groundbreaking prediction.


Indeed. Published in Nov-Dec 1917, it hardly amounts to the status of "prediction"-- as the revolution was in full blossom, demands from the workers for the soviets to take power were legion.

More than that, or less than that, however is the significance of this assertion Kautsky makes:

Quote:
And there is still another difference. The significance of the French revolution was tremendous. It was the signal for the overthrow of the whole feudal system. The Russian revolution of to-day can have no such efforts. A bourgeois revolution is no longer necessary even in Russia; the capitalist class and even a considerable portion of the agrarian population had secured practically every juridical and economic right they needed, even before the revolution broke out. But the proletariat in Russia is still too weak and too undeveloped to rule the nation, to accomplish a revolution in the Socialist sense of that term.

The significance of the present Russian revolution is, above all, political. Its aim lies chiefly in the winning of democracy as a foundation upon which the proletariat may most successfully carry on its class struggle, may develop and organize its forces for the conquest of political power.


So the bourgeois revolution is no longer necessary-- indeed-- but the proletariat in Russia is still too weak to rule the nation. The whole point is that the proletariat's revolution cannot be confined within the boundaries of a "nation." Too weak to rule a nation? Indeed-- even in Germany, or the UK, or the US if revolution is confined to a national, "democratic" foundation.

Of course what is "missing" from Kautsky's analysis is the practical content of the revolution in Russia, summed up pretty efficiently by, in, and as "all power to the soviets."

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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:14 pm 
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"Their cause is the cause of the international proletariat."

Kautsky


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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:46 pm 
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Which Kautsky identified as "peace" "democracy"-- not as the abolition of capital

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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:39 pm 
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The point is that in his 1915/16 essay Kautsky is basically preaching European civil war and announces struggles that will bring socialism within reach, against temporary peace which only prepares for the next war (the idea behind the project of Mitteleurope):

"We oppose to it the idea of the struggle for socialism, which warrants us eternal peace."


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 Post subject: Re: Russian revolution was predicted
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:27 pm 
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The point being that in 1914, he argued that Germany was engaged in a "defensive war"-- trotting out the incorrect formulation that Engels had used to try and persuade Marx and the IMWA to back Bismarck against Louis Napoleon-- first time as tragedy, second time as demented farce in the abattoir.

Right, he split and denounced the social-democrats 1917 blahblah; produced his nonsense notion of imperialism; rejoined the social democrats. Here's the "pope of Marxism" missing the watershed event of capitalist reproduction-- WW1-- and the contest for power by actual organizations of the working class when the struggle for socialism becomes more than just an idea.

If it weren't so sad, it would be funny. Kind of like when people call Lukacs the "greatest Marxist since Marx."

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