Reply to Justice (conflict about the 1889 Congresses)

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

COMRADE, — Hoping you will find space for the following in next issue of Commonweal, I take the liberty to trespass on your time.

I suppose you are aware of the controversy lately carried on by Justice against us Germans generally, and the German Social-Democratic party specially. Last week I wrote a letter to our comrade, the editor of Justice, containing a general reply against those accusations brought forward against us in Justice, asking him to print it, which latter he refused, making the excuse that my letter was too long. This is the reason why I now ask you for the same favour, hoping you will find it possible to comply with my desire.

First of all let me say that I cannot accept the excuse of the editor of Justice — viz., "my letter being too long," in the face of the fact that he cuts it down to seven lines and then he finds space for forty-five lines of his own one-sided remarks. I am pretty sure my letter would not have taken up much more space ; and I should have thought the editor would have felt it his simple duty of international fraternity and impartiality to reproduce a fair reply against so many unproven assertions and accusations on his part. But now I wish to give my letter to Justice in substance, with a few remarks upon the forty-tive lines of our comrade in last week's Justice.

A few weeks ago the Germans were accused by the editor of Justice as being exclusive and clannish. This is, at least in my opinion, an assertion, against all known facts, and the reverse is the truth. The Germans, as is well known, travel all over the globe, and wherever they go, they mix up with and really dissolve into the native population : so much is this the case, that it is a great trouble to the chauvinistic Government in Germany. The Germans nowhere keep up their nationality ; and the best proof for this are the English colonies and the United States ; and I myself should not be much surprised if the Germans at present in Cameroon would sooner become niggers than the reverse. These are known facts about the Germans generally, and the same applies to German Socialists. But in the course of time other nations have become so accustomed to this German characteristic that when now a German anywhere asks to have it a little his own way, the general outcry is — O, the Germans want it all their own way.

Now we are again accused of "printing our papers in our own language, which not one out of ten thousand understands." The first is absurd, and the anticipation that we would condemn the French and English if they should take the same course in Germany is simply ridiculous ; the other assertion is at least a gross and wilful exaggeration. Out of the whole population of the globe, one out of every fourteen is able to speak German ; and if we take the so-called civilised world, one in every five understands and speaks German.

Then we are blamed for confining ourselves to our own national clubs. This is truth and untruth mixed together. As far as England is concerned, the German Socialists have tried their very best to mix up with their English brethren, but have very often been rebuked ; whenever they tried to be active, they very often received the reply, "That is foreign," and so of course many of us by and by withdrew and confined ourselves to our own clubs — which, by the way, are very much frequented by English Socialists, and the English Socialistic papers are bougnt and read by a considerable number of Germans.

The truth is simply this : We Germans are international, but we decline to become English or French, and to obey one-sided orders. Internationalism means respect for each other's liberty and national habits, and not submission of one nation to the other.

But now as to the coming Paris Congress. I shall not say one word pro or con in regard to the animosity between the German Social-Democrats and French Possibilists : I am not at all speaking for a party, I am speaking for myself. When I did not object at the Congress of 1886 against the appointment of the Possibilists to organise the coming Congress, I could not think that they would go so far as to lay down the rules for admission and make a standing order ready, etc. ; as far as I know, they were only charged to make preliminary arrangements, and leave the business to be done by the Congress. I am quite sure if the German party had been charged with the same object, they would have confined themselves to procuring a hall, receiving the delegates, etc., and would have left the Congress itself to do the real business. I think we are entitled to have a fair share in all affairs connected with the Congress ; and if we shall be fed entirely on English pudding or French cabbage, we decline, for fear of an overloaded stomach ; if we are invited to an international dinner, we want at least a dish of our own choice — a dish of Sauerkraut.

Our comrade of Justice offers his service to smooth over those differencies between the French and Germans, but I think his tone in the whole affair shows that he is very little qualified to do so, because in my opinion all his controversy is nothing else than a good illustration of the proverb — the pot calls the kettle black. We all suffer more or less under a chauvinistic, patriotic education, and the English education is, as far as my knowledge goes, in the first place in this respect, and the result is showing itself in those one-sided remarks in Justice.

Concluding, our comrade in Justice desires me and others to join him to put a stop to such "petty wire-pulling." I for one shall gladly do so, as soon as I can see that it does not mean, "Put a stop to German wire-pulling and establish English or French." But I must say that in the German demands about the Paris Congress I cannot see any wire-pulling at all. —

I am, yours fraternally, H. Rackow.

March 16, 1889.