THE WAR CLOUDS gathered over Germany. The rank and file of the German Labour Movement,
at that time, in numbers, the mightiest movement in the Second International, urged
for measures against the approaching war. Crowded mass meetings were held, and the
slogan was given: Mass action against the war.
But words, mere words. The mass of the workers under the influence of their organisations,
strongly organised and disciplined in Party and Trade Unions were waiting for the
call to action from their trusted leaders, but the call never came! Instead of action came complete political collapse.
In contradiction to their previous teaching, the spokesman of the Social Democratic
Party in the German Parliament on August 4, 1914, declared In the hour of danger
we shall stand by our Fatherland. The majority of the Social Democratic leaders
had found their Fatherland. The workers were still without one!
The problem of masses and leaders remained practically unsolved, despite the prolonged
struggle of revolutionary socialists such as Rosa Luxemburg, Anton Pannekoek, Heinrich
Laufenburg, Johann Knief and others, whose devotion to the cause was unquestioned, against the then already flourishing policy of class betrayal. The overwhelming majority
of the Social Democratic leaders rejected the idea of self-determination of the working
class, and worked secretly through their revisionist apparatus Verein Arbeiterpresse for the subordination of the proletariat to the bureaucratic organisations.
The catastrophe was unavoidable. Many workers felt that their sacrifices had been
in vain. They had not understood the dynamics of their own organisation, so they
felt betrayed, and they were. That brought disillusionment on the one hand, irritated nerves
and indifference on the other. But still things went on.
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