WHAT DOES SPARTACUS WANT?
On the 9th of November the German workers arose to throw off the
disgraceful yoke. The Hohenzollerns1 were driven out; soviets of workers'
and soldiers' deputies were elected.
But the Hohenzollerns were never more than the agents of the imperialist
capitalists and junkers. The class rule of the capitalists - that was the
real cause-of the World War in Germany and France, in Russia and England,
in Europe and America. The capitalists of all countries - these are the
real initiators of the slaughter of peoples. International capitalism is
the insatiate Moloch into whose bloody jaws are thrown millions upon
millions of fresh human sacrifices.
The World War confronted society with a choice of two alternatives; either
the continued existence of capitalism, with its consequent new wars and
inevitable and speedy destruction due to chaos and anarchy or the abolition
of capitalist exploitation. With the end of the World War the class rule of
the capitalists lost its right to existence. It is no longer capable of
leading society out of the terrible economic chaos which the imperialist
orgy has left in its wake.
The means of production were destroyed to a frightful extent. Millions of
workers, the best and the soundest element of the working class, were
slaughtered. Those left alive, upon returning home, will receive the mock
welcome of poverty and unemployment. Starvation and disease threaten to sap
the remaining strength of the people. Financial bankruptcy, as a
consequence of the crushing burden of war debts, is inevitable.
Only socialism can save the people from this bloody chaos, this gaping
abyss. There is no other way. Only the worldwide proletarian revolution
can establish order in place of this anarchy, put an end to the mutual
extermination of the peoples, provide work and bread for all, and bring
peace, freedom, and true culture to tortured humanity. "Down with wage
labour!" Such is the battle cry of the day. Wage labour and class rule must
give way to work on a cooperative basis. The means of production must
cease to be the monopoly of a class; they must become the common property
of all. The present system of production, which is nothing but
exploitation and robbery, must be abolished. No more exploiters or
exploited. Production and the distribution of products must be regulated in
the interests of the nation as a whole.
Instead of masters and wage slaves there will be free fellow workers!
Labour will cease to be a burden for anybody when it becomes the duty of
all. An existence worthy of men will be assured to all who fulfil their
duty toward society. Hunger will cease to be the curse of workers; it will
be the punishment for idlers.
Only in such a society can slavery and mutual hatred among nations be
destroyed. Only when such a society is established will the earth cease to
be outraged by fratricidal conflicts. Only then shall we be able to say:
"We have seen the end of War."
In all preceding revolutions it was a small minority of people who
conducted the revolutionary struggle. This minority determined the goal,
gave direction to the fight, and used the masses only as tools to secure
victory for their own interests, the interests of the minority. The
socialist revolution is the first revolution which can secure victory for
and through the great majority of the workers themselves.
It is the task of the proletarian mass not only clearly and consciously to
determine the aim and direction of the revolution. It must also establish
socialism step by step through its own activity.
The main feature of the socialist society is to be found in the fact that
the great mass of workers will cease to be a governed mass, but on the
contrary, will itself live the full political and economic life and direct
that life in conscious and free self-determination.
Therefore the proletarian mass must substitute its own class organs - the
workers' and soldiers' councils - for the inherited organs of capitalist
class rule - the federal councils, municipal councils, parliament -
applying this principle from the highest authority in the state to the
smallest community. The proletarian mass must fill all governmental
positions, must control all functions, must test all requirements of the
state on the touchstone of socialist aims and the interests of its own
Only by means of a constant, mutual action upon each other on the part of
the masses and their organs - the service of workers' and soldiers'
deputies - can their activity fill the state with a socialist spirit.
Likewise, economic reconstruction can go only as a process carried on by
the mass action of the working class.
Mere decrees on socialisation issued by high revolutionary authorities are
of no more value than empty sounds. Only the working class, by its own
efforts, can change these sounds into actuality. Only in a stubborn fight
with capital, face to face in every enterprise, by their own direct
pressure, by means of strikes, and by creating their permanent
representative organs, can the workers secure control and, finally, the
actual administration of production.
The workers must learn to transform themselves from mere machines, which
the capitalist employs in the process of production, into free, active,
thinking leaders of this process. They must acquire the sense of
responsibility of active members of the commonwealth, which alone is the
owner of all social wealth. They must develop zeal at work, without the
whip of the employer, the highest productivity without the spur of
capitalist drivers, discipline without yoke, and order without domination.
Highest idealism in the peoples' interest, strictest self-discipline, true
civic spirit of the masses - these constitute the moral basis of a
socialist society, just as stupidity, egotism, and corruption are the moral
basis of capitalism.
These socialist civic virtues, as also knowledge and the ability to conduct
socialist industries, can be acquired by the workers only by personal
activity and personal experience.
The socialisation of society can be accomplished to the fullest extent only
by the persistent and uninterrupted struggle of the workers at all points
where labour and capital, the people and the class rule of the bourgeoisie,
meet fact to face.
The emancipation of the working class must be the work of the workers themselves.
The proletarian revolution requires no terror for the realisation of its
aims; it looks upon manslaughter with hatred and aversion. It has no need
for such means because the struggle it conducts is not against individuals
but against institutions. It enters the arena with no naive illusions, the
dispersal of which would prompt it to have recourse to revenge. The
proletarian revolution is not the desperate attempt of a minority forcibly
to transform the world in accordance with its own ideal. On the contrary,
it is the action of great masses, of millions of people, called upon to
carry out their historic mission and to make a reality of what has become
an historic necessity.
But the proletarian revolution is at the same time also the death knell of
all slavery and oppression. This is the reason why the capitalists,
junkers, petty bourgeoisie and officers, and the beneficiaries and
parasites of exploitation and class rule, are rising like one man to fight
to the death against the proletarian revolution.
It is madness to suppose that the capitalists will submit voluntarily to
the socialist verdict of a parliament or a national assembly, that they
will calmly surrender their property, their profits, their privileges. of
exploitation. All ruling classes have fought obstinately to the end for
their privileges. The Roman patricians, as well as the feudal barons of
the Middle Ages, the English nobles and the American slave owners, the
Boyars of Wallachia and the silk manufacturers of Lyons2 - all shed rivers
of blood. They trampled upon corpses, they committed murder, arson, and
state treason, they precipitated civil warfare the purpose of defending
their privileges and power.
The imperialist capitalist class, as the last offspring of the caste of
exploiters, surpasses all its predecessors as far as brutality, open
cynicism, and rascality are concerned.
It will defend its "holy of holies" - its profits and privileges of
exploitation - tooth and nail. It will defend them with the cold-blooded
viciousness which it manifested during the history of its colonial policy
and during the last World War. It will move heaven and hell against the
workers. It will mobilise the peasantry against the industrial workers. It
will set the backward elements of the proletariat against the vanguard of
socialism. It will get its officers to commit massacres. It will attempt to
nullify socialist measures by a hundred and one methods of passive
resistance. It will put in the way of the revolution twenty uprisings à La
Vendee3. To save itself it will invoke the assistance of the foreign
enemy, the murderous armed force of a Clemenceau, a Lloyd George, or a
Wilson4. It will sooner turn the country into a smoking heap of ruins than
voluntarily relinquish its power to exploit the working class.
This resistance must be put down with an iron hand, with the utmost energy.
The power of the bourgeois counter-revolution must be met by the
revolutionary power of the working class. The plots, schemes, and
intrigues of the capitalist class must be countered by the ceaseless
vigilance, clearness of vision, and readiness of the proletarian mass for
action at any moment. The threatening dangers of counter-revolution must
be met by the arming of the people and the disarming of the ruling classes.
The obstructionist manoeuvres in Parliament on behalf of the capitalist
class must be met by the active organisation of the workers and soldiers.
The presence of the bourgeoisie everywhere and the thousands of means at
its command must be overcome by the concentrated compact power of the
working class developed to the highest possible degree. Only the united
front of the entire German proletariat - the South German with the North
German, the city workers with the agricultural workers, the working men
with the soldiers - and the living spiritual bond of the German revolution
with the International, the elevation of the German revolution to the
height of the world revolution of the proletariat, can create tbe granite
foundation upon which the structure of the future must be based.
The struggle for socialism is the greatest civil war in history, and the
proletarian revolution must prepare for this civil war the necessary
weapons; it must learn to use them - to fight and to conquer.
By arming the compact mass of working people with full political power for
the purposes of the revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat is
established and therefore the true democracy. True democracy, democracy
that does not defraud the people does not exist where the wage slave sits
in would-be equality with the capitalist, or the farmhand with the
landowner, in order to debate in parliamentary manner over questions most
vital to them - true democracy is to be found only where the mass of the
workers take the entire power of government into their toil-hardened hands
in order to wield it over the heads of the ruling classes as the god Thor
wielded his hammer.
To enable the proletariat to solve this problem the Spartacus Union demands:
This is what the Spartacus Union stands for!
And because it wants this, because it calls for it, struggles for it,
because it is the socialist conscience of the revolution-it is hated,
persecuted, and slandered by all open and secret enemies of the revolution
and of the working class.
"Crucify him!" call the capitalists, trembling for fear of losing their
"Crucify him!" call the petty bourgeoisie, the officers, the anti-semites,
the press lackeys of the capitalist class, trembling for the fleshpots of
capitalist class rule.
"Crucify him!" call men like Scheidemann who, like Judas Iscariot, have
sold the workers to the capitalist class and are trembling for the shekels
of their political power.
"Crucify him!" repeat, like an echo, the duped, the deceived, the misled
elements of workers and soldiers, who do not know that they are attacking
their own flesh and blood when they attack the Spartacus Union.
In hatred and slander are united against the Spartacus Union all who are
counter-revolutionists, enemies of the people, anti-socialists, all who are
ambiguous, confused, afraid of light. This only proves that the heart of
the revolution is beating in the Spartacus Union, that the future belongs
The Spartacus Union is no party wanting to climb into power on the
shoulders of the mass of workers. The Spartacus Union is only the
conscious party of the proletariat. At every turn it calls the attention of
the general body of workers to their historic duties. At every stage of the
revolution it fights for the final goal of socialism, and in all national
questions it represents the interests of the international revolutionary
The Spartacus Union refuses to share government power with the lackeys of
the capitalist class, the Scheidemann-Ebert element, because it sees in
such cooperation an act of treason against the basic principles of
socialism, an act calculated to paralyse the revolution and strengthen its
The Spartacus Union will also refuse to take over the power of government
merely because the Scheidemann-Ebert element have completely discredited
themselves, and the Independent Socialist Party, through cooperation with
them, has reached a blind alley.
The Spartacus Union will never take over the power of government otherwise
than by a clear manifestation of the unquestionable will of the great
majority of the proletarian mass of Germany. It will only take over the
power of government by the conscious approval by the mass of the workers of
the principles, aims, and tactics of the Spartacus Union.
The proletarian revolution can reach full clearness and ripeness only by
struggling gradually, step by step, along the Golgotha path of the workers'
own bitter experiences through defeats and victories.
The victory of the Spartacus Union is not in the beginning but at the end
of the revolution: it is identical with the victory of the great mass of
the socialist working class.
Arise, proletarians! To the battle! We have to struggle against a world, to
conquer a world.
In this last class struggle of history for the highest aims of humanity our
motto toward the enemy is: "Hand on throat and knee on the breast!"