From Lenin to Hitler
Added: 2017-10-30
Added: 2017-10-30



First edition: „Przełom”, Warszawa 1931.



I.     Fascism, or Hilferding in a black shirt




Lacking good literature on social issues, the Polish market was treated with a new work on Lenin by Mr. Świaniewicz[1], that further develops the problems raised in the previous book of the Vilnius researcher, Sorel (Stanisław Świaniewicz: Lenin jako ekonomista, Vilnius 1930). This book, both useful and interesting (there are definitely books that are useful but uninteresting!) will serve us to reflect in today's travel, although we will chose Eastern Europe as out final destination.

Świaniewicz's research credentials include drawing attention to the dependence of Lenin's thoughts on Hilferding[2], a stout German Marxist, who was not the best finance minister of the Hindenburg’s republic[3]. In his basic pre-war work “Das Finanzkapital”, as well as his post-war works, Hilferding supplemented Marx's work dedicated to capital, based on observations from the mid-19th century, presenting the youngest face of capitalism.

Capitalism in this (according to Marxists) last phase of its development is characterized by the formation of associations of entrepreneurs, and thus the overcoming of the cardinal “law” of liberalism – free competition. Connections also include various branches of production; “combinatory” connections are created, i.e. associations of enterprises that produce different stages of the same goods. Thanks to these connections, individual capital groups gain hegemony in the industry of a given country, and strive to gain a monopoly position in its bosom. Liberal methods are overcome by the growing supercapitalism. The situation of free trade looks is similar to the one of free competition. Monopolistic capitalist groups strive to remove foreign competition from the domestic market and, moreover, to expand the area of their influence by subordinating the economically weaker foreign countries. They advocate the policy of expansion and conquest of economic and political imperialism. Contradiction arises between the exploiting capitalist countries and the exploited colonial countries, striving to break away from dependence on parasitic nations by achieving full political and economic independence.

This apt economic diagnosis of phenomena related to the transformation of capitalism into supercapitalism led Lenin the practitioner and Hilferding the practitioner to draw completely contradictory conclusions. Lenin the practitioner, while stating the development of economic imperialism, believed that this phenomenon would result in such a sharpening of social and political conflicts that it would lead indispensably to an unprecedented global catastrophe, and consequently, to the general communist revolution. The Hilferding's theory of economic imperialism is the basis of the belief of the Bolshevik elite in the imminent advent of the world revolution, definitely overcome, as it seems – only in the last Stalinist period of the history of the Soviet revolution. Leninism shares this belief with Hilferding's theory in its earlier, pre-war period. After the war, Hilferding significantly modified his conclusions. He now accepts the possibility and necessity of the agreement between “all those powerful capitalist groups competing on world markets”. It will make an outbreak of major wars and social revolutions very unlikely. This leads Hilferding to recognize the need for rapprochement between the leadership elements in capitalism and the organized working class to jointly organize and stabilize the Western world. The working class’s own task is only the maintenance and extension of direct gains within the existing system; its overthrow must be moved to an uncertain future.

From 1923, Hilferding proclaims the necessity of a “temporary” truce between capital and labour, and he himself joins the Stresemann’s cabinet[4] as the minister of finance – the cabinet created at the time of the unprecedented crisis caused by the devaluation of money in Germany. While the pre-war phase of Hilferding's theory is being maintained and continued by Lenin and other Soviet theorists, the post-war thoughts of the German Marxist constitute the main theoretical substrate of socialism reconciled with liberal and capitalist bourgeois democracy, which is most apparently manifested in Germany and England where Macdonald’s[5] socialism defends – with its methods – an empire, i.e. the cardinal condition for the existence of this exploiter that is the biggest one amongst the nations.




One could say that fascism is a very interesting illustration of Hilferding's theses. Italy fully belongs to the category of “proletarian nations”, i.e. exploited nations. This results not only from the political and economic youth of Italy, that before the war and even in the Versailles period, made this seeming power the satellite of the actual great powers. This is also due to the natural impairment of the Apennine Peninsula, deprived of raw materials, especially coal and oil, of these motor factors of modern industry, while lacking the conditions to occupy a place among the distancing countries that are different in terms of agricultural production.

The fascist revolution was mainly a protest against this dependence of Italy on the Western plutocracy, which in the post-war period was often manifested in sensitive laws of political nature. The pursuit of liberation expanded – in line with Hilferding's theory – towards the pursuit of political and economic expansion in a sharp conflict with the French neighbour. At the same time, it also triggered the necessity of structural changes in the social and state system. These changes are the product of the coalition of the productive bourgeoisie in Italy, which has its political counterpart in the nationalist Federzoni's party[6] cooperating with Mussolini and the faction of proletarian revolution, which were revolutionary socialists and syndicalists gathered around Mussolini and “Popolo d'Italia” in the first staff team formed under the banner of Sorel’s philosophy – fascism.

The coalition formed a corporate system, which formally was a synonym for the symbiosis of working syndicalists, founded by Rossoni[7] (overthrown in 1928 as a too “red” syndicalist), with industrial associations politically dominated by fascism and mercilessly economically exploited by it (see Georges Valois, “Finances italiennes”, Paris 1923). It also created the ideology of national solidarity, constituting à fond[8] only the extreme development of the theses of Hilferding (and his pupil Lenin) about economic imperialism. It is clear, however, that in the coalition, this friction between its two main members has not disappeared (they are reflected, for example, in a polemic between Minister Bottai[9] and Rotigliano, a member of the Italian Parliament, culminating in Bottai's book “Economia fascista”, Rome 1930). By nature, the workers-syndicalist wing treats the corporate system as the first stage of the syndical organization of the state of labour, while the bourgeois-nationalist wing sees it only as a way to completely suppress the independent workers movement.

Fascist etatism is also a response to the concept of “state capitalism” developed by Lenin on the grounds of Hilferding’s theory. In Świaniewicz’s words, state capitalism in Lenin's view is “such an organization of economic life that enables the registration and calculation of all the production forces and possibilities and the control of centralized management institutions over the functioning of the entire social economy” (“Lenin jako ekonomista” p. 88). Fascists put it similarly when it comes to the country's economic policy. This is confirmed by quotes that can be drawn fully from the speeches of Mussolini, Bottai and other leaders of the fascist revolution. “The Ministry of corporations is a delicate and complex binding body, the centre that takes over, coordinates, disciplines and distributes the social energies” (Bottai 1 June 1927) “The corporate doctrine establishes a state which, through the discipline of production, achieves the discipline of producers, a state that does not intervene in individual enterprises, but coordinates them in line with common guidelines in the interest of national production” (Bottai, March 15, 1930). “For the first time in the history of the world, a constructive revolution implements, while using peaceful means in the field of production and labour, an incarnation (lainquadramento) of all economic and intellectual forces of the nation to guide them towards common goals” (Mussolini, May 19, 1926). The doctrine of “state capitalism” appears here in its pure form. For it is not the extermination of individual capitalists, but their subordination to the leadership of the state that is the essential content of this doctrine.




Fascism, like the socialism of the Second International, establishes cooperation between capital and labour on the basis of the Hilferdingian theory, corresponding to the reality of capitalism in the last phase of its development so far. The difference between these two so hostile camps is that fascism systematizes this cooperation on the basis of a corporate system, while rejecting political and economic liberalism. Socialism, on the other hand, stood still on the basis of state and international liberalism, on the basis of parliamentary compromises with the bourgeoisie in its political parties and diplomatic cooperation with international finances in accordance with a pacifist common ideology (and Rudolf Hilferding is the master here too – as the author of the work “Realistischer Pazifismus”).

The positive program of fascism in relation to the issues of labour does not differ so much from the positive activity of the Labour Party socialism or German socialism. Fascism does not go any further, but it does not stay behind either. In its own way, it introduces the working class to complicity in political and economic life, while practically and theoretically rejecting (while the Second International does so only practically, generally without touching the theoretical perspectives) the communist postulate of the rule of organized workers groups in a Paris Commune-like state (Lenin, “Aufgaben des Proletariats unserer Revolution”, Vienna 1921).

However, by rejecting parliamentary democracy and liberal pacifism (like Lenin), fascism is more uncompromising than socialism in relation to the bourgeois state. This uncompromising nature is a necessity for the “proletarian nation” that rebels against the “nations of exploiters”. The fascists' fault is that they overestimate their strength and – contrary to their assumptions in 1919 – they want to put Italy in a row of powers engaging in imperialism in its modern form: economic-supercapitalist imperialism.

Therefore, this symptom becomes understandable. At first glance, it seems strange that Fascist Italy so easily reaches agreement and cooperation with the Soviets, while deepening its antagonism with France, its nearest territorially plutocratic state.


II. Hitler, or the fight against plutocracy




Equipped with Hilferding's theory, Lenin sought to push Russia into the path of modern economic expansion. Thus the destruction of capitalism could not lie on the line of his aspirations. He started his journalistic activity, alongside Plekhanov[10], in the fight against the Narodniks who were passionate opponents of Russia – as a perfectly primitive country – controlled by a modern capitalist economy. In our view, the merit of Świaniewicz's work about Lenin is him proving beyond any doubt that Lenin's views have not changed even after the Bolshevik revolution. Lenin, a brilliant tactician, and in this case a “short-term planner”, reluctantly gave way to the pressure of the social pits desirous of the destruction of capitalism. “Lenin immeasurably valued those workers who understood his need to compromise with capitalists on the organizational and economic grounds” (Świaniewicz, “Lenin jako ekonomista”, p. 30).

Lenin “just wanted to master the main fortress of capitalism: banks and some of the most concentrated and syndicalist branches of economic life” (Świniewicz, p. 27). This pursuit was based on Hilferding's “Finanzkapital” theory. The reasons for the nationalization of banks were presented by Lenin himself in one of his most important works (“Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,”) stating that, as a result of the concentration process, banks become powerful monopolists, disposing almost all monetary capital and most of the means of production. and sources of raw materials. Through them, “a handful of monopolists gain control over the commercial and industrial operations of the entire capitalist society.” Therefore, it would be enough to master the four major private banks in Germany, and two in America, to subordinate the workers' revolution to this apparatus by which modern plutocracy prevails over production. During the Kerensky period[11], Lenin considered the nationalization of banks as a step that could bring Russia out of the economic crisis it was faced with, allowing for the introduction of strict planning for economic life (“The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It”). In addition, Lenin’s main postulates just before the October Revolution revolved around the introduction of workers control over the administration of enterprises, forced syndication of various industries (in the sense of creating cartels, of course under strict state control) and organizing the cooperative movement.

However, the total expropriation of means of industrial production from private hands in 1917-1921 took place against Lenin's view; the builder of the Soviets, returning in 1921 to his favourite thought: the cooperation of the workers revolution with the capitalist organizers of production (“NEP”), did not erased the work done by “war communism”, but only proclaimed tactical abandonment of some elements by engaging a private initiative within the system of the “socialist” economy (policy of concessions and leases). The policy of state capitalism as the content of the NEP was to be “the art of entwining capitalist enterprises with socialist farms in one social organism” (Świaniewicz, p. 104). However, socialist enterprises in the post-revolutionary terminology of Lenin should be understood only as state-owned and etatist enterprises, which in essence do not differ from those that exist in every bourgeois state, albeit, simply, in a much smaller span.




The last German elections signalled to the world that after Russia and Italy, the third country is entering the path leading to a complete revolution. Two extremist camps: on the one hand, the Communists, and on the other, the movement under Hitler's command, won an absolute victory over “state-creative” groups. An unnatural socialist coalition with more or less reactionary groups going under the command of Hindenburg[13] kept the Brüning cabinet[14] in the audience and extended the life of the Weimar Republic for some time. Is it for long time?

The opinions are divided on this one, so let us be careful with making our forecasts. Let us limit ourselves to characterizing the revolutionary elements.

At first glance, it can be said that they are recruited in the so-called poor classes – this is how Piotr Dunin-Borkowski[15] calls them in the last volume of “Droga” (see “Oblicze polityczne obecnej Polski”, Droga, 1930, No. 12). Poor classes in this terminology are people “with unexplained social physiognomy”, contrasted with professionally-active, qualified, and productive elements. They usually sympathize with reactionary or revolutionary movements, while they remain far from the parliamentary system, interesting social-professional groups, both in the bosom of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

If the orientation of these spheres of the population towards a social reaction or revolution depends not on a constant disposition, but on the circumstances and on the moment, it may be thought that the movement that combines the signs of reactionism and revolution is best suited to blurring the boundaries between them. This is the current represented by Hitler's people, or “national socialists”, who blend together elements of the extremely nationalist and communist program. They have a clearly defined group of social revolution (communists) on the left, and on the other – a clearly defined nationalist-reactionary group (Deutschnationale[16]). However, blurring the contours from one side and the other, they “take away the bread” from both neighbours.

The “poor” classes are in a state of growth in Germany. This is not a function of the economic crisis (as a crisis of the economic situation), but of structural changes, and thus producing lasting results. On the one hand, this includes the outflow of people from agricultural areas to industrial districts, which took on intimidating proportions after 1918. In addition, the taking over of the industry by US capitals bending German production to their goals, not refraining from the massive close down of enterprises! Finally, the collapse of the monarchy (represented in Germany by numerous dynasties – from imperial to duke’s dynasties) meant that the broad spheres previously dependent on the courts were declassed, and joined the supporters of some, and therefore undefined, coup. Hitler recruits numerous fighters from this last element.

Of course, such a current, while developing itself and, above all, coming to power, must specify its image. For a long time, however, it can preserve the characteristics of an amalgam by synthesizing the program of revolution with the features of extreme nationalism. We know this kind of amalgam from the Italian ground. There are some serious grounds for such a synthesis on German soil.




If Nazism is partially modelled on the fascist revolution, while taking the program of building a “corporate” state from it, then, on the other hand, the influence of Leninism is much stronger here than in the bosom of fascism. The postulate of nationalization of banks is an important component of the “national-socialist” program. This is where Hilferding comes up, this time not in a black shirt, but in a brown one with a “Hakenkreuz”, which would be horrifying to the actual Rudolf Hilferding voting in the Reichstag in a “state-forming” way for Hindenburg’s and Brüning’s “Notverordnungen”[17], i.e. capitalist Germany. Hitler fully implements the essential program of Lenin, skipped by the Russian Revolution.

The postulate of nationalization of banks, accompanied by the demand to abolish the Young Plan[18], is to get Germany out of the webs of the American plutocracy, in which the Reich wrapped itself up, beginning in 1923. There is a real convergence of interests between German nationalism and communism. Therefore, the German communists actually fight Young Plan, and the Third International is right if it indeed is financing Hitler's camp (as some press releases claim).

This movement develops in opposition to the strongest foci of international capitalism. This is in line with the Hilferding theory on the friction between countries-exploiters and the exploited countries as one of the stages of the upcoming world revolution. The thing is that Germany, as a result of the disaster of its empire, is losing the character of an exploiter more and more, it is getting closer to becomes an economically non-free nation. There are two ways for the Reich in this situations; one – through close cooperation with the capitalist West, as well as overseas supercapitalism, through the Hague Conventions, the International Payments Bank and Pan-Europa, which would allow the Germans to gradually rebuild the position of the exploiter, but in close connection with and in dependence on external plutocracy. And the other way is the Hitler's trail, a revolutionary coup with a complex national and social tendency. This is an attack on the plutocracy by a program that coincides with Lenin's aspirations of 1917.

Lenin wrote in 1917 that all Germans need to do is to socialize their four main banks. Hitler wants to socialize all of them, while erasing the entire war debt of the Reich which is the reason for the whole pyramid of “international payments”, i.e. the nerve of the current global capitalist economy.

Of course, when it comes to the positive result of an upheaval of this nature, it is not indifferent who will do it and in whose favour; whether it will be done in the name of an organized proletariat, or by anti-social and reactionary groups, driven by a desire to take revenge on the opponents of their quasi-national interest. But the distance is actually smaller than in theory. The Soviet coup was to a greater extent the work of the “poor” people, professionally undefined, than of the professionally active proletariat, and the declassing of the ruling class in the Soviet Union and the complete departure from influence on politics and production of the ranks of the working proletariat are beyond any doubt.

The negative result of the attack on the West plutocracy will be identical on German soil, whether it is made by the communists or the “reactionally” coloured camp of the “national socialists”. The success of this attack would, of course, cause a blow to the international capitalist economy. The removal of the Russian empire outside the system of world capitalism deprived it of sales markets, exploitation areas and raw materials, but capitalism adapted to this situation, without any serious detriment. The Fascist revolution in Italy, developing under the banner of a compromise with capitalism, ruined only the capitalist economy within Italy, which is undoubtedly of minimal importance for the development of the world situation. An upheaval in Germany would, however, hit the Western plutocracy in the heart.


III.                     From the Jacobins to Oustric




The modern state – the one whose merciless liquidation is brought by modern coups – emerged as a system of power established by the enlightened bourgeoisies overcome by the ideas of liberalism and the productive spirit of capitalism. It was established so that within it, this class, representing demos in the understanding of that era, could earn the maximum prosperity secured against the organs of the former war-absolutist system, living from the contributions imposed on the production classes, and against subversive movements that claimed the rights of the new proletariat, created by the technical revolution. Defenders of the liberal-democratic state quite rightly indicate that its merit lies in the “enrichment of the nation”, but they do not add that it is a historical merit, related to the period that has passed, probably irretrievably. The modern state was created as a technical state. The liberal revolution, by abolishing the organs of the old power, in the Jacobin period sought to abolish the division of society into classes – its dichotomous division (on the rulers and the oppressed) and to establish a people's state in which a uniform class of producers would rule (called ‘the people’). But these social factors which created a liberal-democratic state, promptly abandoned the ballast of Jacobin ideas and distorted the direction of the revolution, resulting in their class interest. Transformed into a “possessing class”, the production bourgeoisie lost the concept of a technical state, turning it into an old-fashioned police-administrative state and using it as a tool to defend its class privileges. It implemented the seeming paradox of a weak state against the ruling class, deprived of the executive and removed from production with a laisser-faire barrier, but at the same time, brutal and strong against those dissatisfied with the existing order. This state is today a relic similar to the museum technical specimens of the times of Louis Philippe or Napoleon III when we compare it to the technical means which luckily are at the disposal of humanity today.

The decay of this type of state began as soon as the political audience gained new members – the working class, politically organized by the socialists and armed with the apparatus of Marxist theories. The protectionist apparatus of the liberal state was effective in fighting the spontaneous impulses of the proletariat, but it did not reveal any resistance to socialist parties when they were in parliament. On the other hand, these parties soon learned that they could influence the will of the liberal state apparatus and use it for their interests. Having taken over the theory of a weak state from the bourgeoisie, socialism gave up on the idea of a revolution against the liberal state and entered its orbit, with the exception of those extreme factions that today either belong to the Third International or gravitate towards it. “The civilized socialism of our official doctors has often been presented as a protection of civilization”, writes Jerzy Sorel before the World War in “Rozważania o gwałcie. “I believe that the proletariat would be corrupted and dulled, like the Merovingians, and the economic collapse would be more inevitable in the aftermath of the activities of these alleged civilizators.” The prophecy has been fulfilling itself in front of our eyes fully wherever the ‘Merovingians’ of the Second International have taken over the liberal bourgeoisie as their allies and advocates.

The processes described here have brought to the surface of political life in a liberal-democratic state the ochlocracy of professional socialist or at least radical politicians having a bragging contest in demagogy, especially when being in the opposition, and at the same time, being opportunistic and extremely subversive to the financial circles, that are the second power in today’s parliamentary democracies. The symbiosis of plutocracy and decaying radicalism or socialism (or ochlocracy) is the social content of the liberal-democratic state of today, while the class that created them, the actual production bourgeoisie has been pushed into the background, harnessed by the financial powers of the anonymous forces of economic imperialism, and on the other hand, it is being attacked by socio-radical currents. It could be said that banks and health insurance funds are liquidating this – once so powerful – class from both sides, and at the same time, dividing power on its ruins. In fact, however, the plutocracy is the only dominant power, while the ochlocracy of professional politicians is only a tool manipulated by it.




The Third Republic, which – surrounded by the turbulent waves of fascism, communism and other anti-liberal revolutions – can still wave a banner with the old Parisian motto: fluctuat nec mergitur (“Tossed by the waves but never sunk”), provides an infinite number of facts to illustrate our theoretical cross-section.

Its policy is dominated by exceptionally ochlocratic factors, freely manipulated by the financial circles, which found only two serious but unfortunate opponents, such as Joseph Caillaux and Georges Valois (who are, by the way, could not be more different from each other). How many names, loud in the political life of today's France, are just pseudonyms of forces, unequally more underground and influential, than the most famous conspiracies.

The costs of the electoral campaign in France (and in other countries as well) are so great that the electoral enterprise must be financed in the same way as any other capitalist enterprise. This applies even more to the press. Valois bitterly states that one hundred years after the July Revolution, conducted in the name of freedom of speech, there is no independent speech in this country, because “cartels, trusts and consortia have established an uncontrolled regime, connecting only to its own interests, and threatened by the blackmail press, and by the development of a plutocratic press devoting tens of millions to publishing dailies, sold far below the production costs.” In this situation, the seemingly dominant ochlocracy is penetrated in its most serious parts by the influence of the great financial powers, and on the sides, permeated by the influence of stock market speculators and other sorts of gutter affairs.

In the post-war years, this was the basis for the financial dictatorship of Horace Finaly (“Banque de Paris Set des Pays-Bas”), the agent of “Standard Oil”. It was also based on the American plutocracy, trying to master all French production. The drop of the franc was the basis of this game. That is why the position of the Minister of Finance have been held for several years by people who were Finaly's tools, either being a conscious protege of the franc's drop, or passively watching this phenomenon. In 1925, Caillaux wished to “expose Finaly”, to no avail. After a short fight, he was overthrown by Mr. de Monza on behalf of plutocrats, his “republican-socialist” colleague in the Painlevé II's cabinet[19]. The following year, Poincaré successfully defended the franc, supported by financial groups (especially the Rothschilds' house), who saw the threat to their interests in Finaly's action. This “revolution” would not have worked if Poincaré's complex had not found help on Wall Street, so in the focus of the international financial circles whom Finaly himself ultimately served.

The “revolution” caused the concentration of such great capitals in France that, next to America, France itself became a powerful focus of international financial circles. This Paris centre is very active today. It is the one supporting the English government in its hopeless struggle to save the liberal British empire by financing the “socialist” MacDonald system, while supporting Brüning, based on banks and German social democracy in the fight against the Nazi revolution. It might have also been one that overthrew the Spanish dictatorship by attacking the peseta, and in close contact with Wall Street, it launched an action against fascism last year, which was very dangerous for the latter. The foreign policy of Briand is the exponent of its needs, the policy which always has its “major replacements” in the parliament (les majorites de rechange). With the parliament's layout and the seeming song and dance of political figures (in which, however, more and more different adjutants of the elusive Aristide Briand will usually pop out), the government’s dependence on the plutocracy, which wants its hegemony in Europe to be based on pan-European pacifism in close cooperation with liberal Germans, and represents a factor of constancy, by not moving by a millimetre in any direction, and creates an effective brake for subversive currents developing around France.

At the same time, however, the decomposing phenomena are expanding on the periphery of this system. They are nothing but the function of the great material prosperity of the broad strata of bourgeois society, created as a result of stabilizing the currency at a low level (while Mussolini, by stabilizing the lira too high through the promesse di Pesaro program, contributed to the worsening of the economic crisis in Italy). In France, there is an excess of capital and the small bourgeoisie has developed a real speculative fever. This resulted in speculative scandals, the “Gazette du Franc” case[20] and the Oustric scandal[21] along with a whole range of similar scandals. The swindlers unceremoniously exploit their connections in the parliament, in parties, in ministries. If former Minister Péret[22], one of the leading figures of the French parliament, is sitting on the bench of the accused, and André Tardieu[23] is discredited along with the entire phalanx of other politicians, these are not random “leaks”. These facts testify to the regularity of relations between the characters of the stock exchange and politicians, of the existence of a system with which the fight will be extremely difficult.

The cycle of evolution of the liberal bourgeois state, which was memorably started by the Jacobins, closes on the Oustric affair.




Could these facts mean that in France there is no ground for systemic revolution and that the system's stability is sure to stay there for long periods? Reminder: in 1920, France is experiencing an intense period of “political strikes”, being an expression of the syndicalist revolution conducted by trade unions. At the same time, the influence of “Action Française” is expanding, calling (at the time, under the influence of Georges Valois) for the convening of the General States. The year 1924 brings a sort of coup d'état from the Lefts Cartel, which overthrows Millerand's presidency[24]. The end of 1925 is the moment of alarms, announcing and anticipating the upheaval prepared by the communists. The year 1926 gives preparation for the “fascist revolution” under the leadership of Georges Valois, whose outbreak was preceded in the last moment by a parliamentary upheaval that started the Poincaré's rule. Finally, 1928 bring the attempts to organize “fascism” with the reactionary content from the money of the famous Coty manufacturer. And then? The ideological French ferment does not cease, but it intensifies with each passing year.

“A very great drama begins to unfold in France”, writes Georges Valois, a leader of the new republican-syndicalist camp, at the beginning of 1929. “Its solution will apply to the whole of Europe. This is one of the episodes of the general revolution, which, however, due to its location and the clashing elements, may have the value of one of the most important events of the world revolution.” On one side, there is a coalition of defenders of the old state, that is against syndicalism, and on the other – a coalition of “all the elements of revisionism, reform and revolution, that have settled in the vanguard of former parties.” This coalition “is now clearly seeking to reform the state, to change the social and economic system and to establish a new form of the republic, which is collectively referred to as a syndicate.”

So… la revolution continue. The political revolution continues.


IV.                      Barbarian invasion




Georges Valois, analysed by me elsewhere, draws an analogy between the present times and the period of the fall of the Roman Empire, and describes fascism in the following manner: “Without forced comparisons, it must be said that fascist states are very similar to those founded by barbarians after the collapse of the Roman Empire. It is in fact a dictatorship of a gang, something like the settlement of the Germanic tribe in Gaul, ruling with all violent means over the workers' people and charging taxes for their own needs... There are several tens of thousands of people who rule in Italy with the right of bomb, dagger, revolver and baton. And who demand from the state, above all, that they should nourish and enrich them with completely foreign means of production” (“Finances italiennes”, Paris 1930, p. XVI).

Valois's antipathy to fascism is explained by French relations, and also has a specific dipping as a reaction against former fascist sympathies of the theoretician of the “syndical republic” before 1918. “Misguided, like many Frenchmen, by the socialist and syndical dictionary of Mussolini”, Valois, who “adopted the name ‘fascism’ to determine his own movement of veterans and producers”, erases the traces and therefore joins forces with the Italian émigré community in Paris, concentrated under the wings of Nitti[25] in the work of “unmasking” fascism. This does not diminish the value of the quoted spicy comparison, which can be extended – with equal amount of fairness, and perhaps even more accurately – onto the revolutionary-nationalist movements occurring in Central Europe. The “armed bands” occur here as a highly active factor, periodically – in Austria and in individual countries of the German Reich, even receiving a share in power. Additionally, it is impossible to deny that the relations produced in this way are very much reminiscent of the relations of the time of the decomposing Roman world. The author of these remarks may know something about this because of his special historical studies on the rules of Stilicho[26] and Odoacer[27].

Let us, however, be fair to the barbarians invading the civilized Europe. Their appearance, and then gradual attainment of power – without resistance from the population and without their conscious destructive tendencies towards the civilization they found, was not the cause of the collapse of the old system, it was its function: it was not a catastrophe, but a symptom of a catastrophe. Similarly, the subversive currents penetrating today’s Europe are the consequence, not the cause of the crisis, they fill the emptiness caused by the putrefactive processes inside the old system and, like this barbarian invasion, they rejuvenate the aging societies. With this amendment, one could agree on the comparison made by the author of “Finances italiennes”.




We will try to reduce a number of phenomena observed in Europe to the common denominator. Who could doubt that there is a common ground of all these revolutionary currents, which penetrate the old soil more and more deeply, although their direct causes, course and results break down very differently in different national environments. The Soviet revolution was based on class, and the Fascist movement or May coup in Poland – on the nation. The pursuit of weaker nations to gain independence from the leading forces of the world economic imperialism, however, clearly appears as a common note in the rebellion of “younger” or “proletarian” nations, i.e. the south and east of Europe. The state becomes a camera for them to fight for liberation from under the yoke of external financial circles, so it must be a non-liberal or even anti-liberal state. A side role is played by other revolutionary moments. This includes the syndicalist moment: the workers’ forces grouped in trade unions rebel against the political oligarchy gathered in the workers' parties. The political moments of the revolution are most commonly recognized by the public opinion, for example, for fascists and Nazis, the struggle against the Treaty of Versailles as a form of a post-war order of international relations. However, despite this diversity of external causes of the anti-liberal revolution, its course is always similar. Subversive groups and camps, after coming to power, exercise it through an individual or collective dictatorship. This form of government, in order to last, must be revolutionary, i.e. it must attack the whole yesterday’s political complex and pave the way for new forms. In addition, it must be social, i.e. act not in isolation from the social masses, but on the basis of them, drawing them into the orbit of their struggles and providing them with participation in shaping the new regime.

These forces on which the revolutionary dictatorship is based are primarily the masses of the participants of the world war, the so-called veterans. Therefore, we are dealing with (see my article in “Przełom”, No. 5, which was confiscated, by the way, but that was for other sins) the revolution of veterans. Veteranism in the conditions of post-war survivors' existence became a social movement, the bond that links the elements involved in it, replaces the class feeling. The perception of veterans as a sui generis social class is of course a paradox. However, while veteranism lacks what constitutes the essence of the social class, i.e. a common relation to production, it has other secondary features of the social class that allow it to be regarded as its surrogate. In the first place, we will pay attention to the dynamic factor included in the concept of social class; the “se pose ens'opposant” class[28] realizes its existence in antagonism to another class. Such antagonism in relation to the forces occurring on the surface of post-war liberal democracy is highly characteristic of the veterans’ movement. However, it is also the veterans acting as a social force carrying out an anti-liberal revolution means that such a revolution (outside the circle of the Soviets) is essentially devoid of a class foundation. It is not a bourgeois or proletarian revolution, it can only take on one or another class colour depending on rather tactical moments.

Let us focus on the collapse of social classes in their relation to the anti-liberal revolution as well. This is a symptom of even greater significance since the smaller and medium-productive bourgeoisie is on the side of this revolution, in opposition to the rules of the financial circles. This opposition is not only a characteristic French phenomenon, it occurs, for example, in Austria, where, during the autumn fights, the production bourgeoisie supported Heimwehr[29] against “the Schober bloc”[30], a reformer and defender of liberal democracy based on finances. In Italy, the relevant spheres, politically represented by the nationalists, merged with fascism, although they failed to overcome their antipathy to the syndicalist ideology even in its “national” edition. The working class separates itself from the anti-liberal revolution into several currents, with only the most conservative parts of it solidarizing with the Second International in its policy of defence of liberal democracy. Finally, we need to mention the attitude of the intellectual elites and the so-called “intelligentsia” to the complex of revolution. There is no doubt that the collapse of the liberal state creates a favourable situation for the development of this class, enabling it to influence production, with such favourable situation maintaining in the revolutionary state, as Roman Dmowski points out, even specifying the Soviets as “dictatorship of the intelligentsia” and declaring the liquidation of “intelligentsia” as a parasitic factor, living at the expense of the possessing classes.

The result of the revolution is identical everywhere and a new type of statehood is established. An omnipotent state emerges, overthrowing the barriers that liberalism set between the state and society, its production and its culture. The victorious camp establishes a monopoly of political or even social organization of the population; it can be an actual or even a formal monopoly. It creates a more or less closed order, building and cementing a revolutionary state. This order is based on some principle of the internal hierarchy that secures the integrity of revolutionary thought and paralyzes the influence of opportunists arriving at the ruling camp. The party-order gets rid of the features of a political party as a function of liberal democracy, and gets close to the organization of the militant church (the communist party, partito fascista). Education of young people becomes one of its most important functions, with a view to creating a new civic generation capable of spontaneous cooperation with the revolutionary state. Violence is widely used as a method of fighting opponents; the reason for this lies in faith in the conformity of the will of revolutionary leaders with the “will of the people”, which, on the other hand, is falsified by the dethroned oligarchy of former parties.

When it comes to economic policy, the revolution is dominated by state capitalism, prepared theoretically, as previously stated, by Rudolf Hilferding, and on a wider practical scale, used by Lenin for the first time. Leninism – this is the theory of state capitalism, applied by the proletarian revolution. But this system can serve not only the class, the workers’ state, as a stage towards “pure” communism. State capitalism is applied by other revolutions as well by establishing a state monopoly in all spheres of economic life in which its lack would create a monopoly of anonymous plutocracy. Thus, the nationalization of banks and forced cartelization, including a strict state control over cartels and the state regulation of foreign trade by the state. An individual entrepreneur does not disappear from economic life (we mentioned that Lenin did not want it), but they become responsible to the state for their activity (in this way, fascism resolved this matter in a consistent way). The worker is taken under the wings of the revolutionary state which organizes labour syndicates, but loses many of their freedoms that they have in a liberal state (e.g. the right to strike is taken away by both fascism, and the Soviet revolution).




Our discussion is coming to an end. The phenomena contained in the complex of the anti-liberal revolution have been gathered and defined. Now they should be categorized.

The “barbarian invasion” took various forms, it sparkles with a whole range of colours. What similarities and differences can be found between Bolshevism and the revolution of “Blackshirts” or the movement of “Hakenkreuzler”?

When juxtaposing these most typical forms of political revolution that have been established in Russia and Italy, it is, however, necessary to state the commonness of the principles of a coup, but with the divergence of the exit points, this sounds like a paradox. Fascism was called “a reflex of Leninism at the service of the bourgeoisie”, but an in-depth observation requires some modification of this thesis and of the statement that fascism is “Leninism” used by the “revolution of veterans”, socially classless, to which at some point, it gave a “reactionary” colour to its collision with communism and communism socialism. While the Soviet Russia has undoubtedly gone beyond “Leninism” as an economic system (it only fully implements Leninism as a political system) towards more extreme forms of communist construction (period of the “five-year plan”), and this is because the experiment of state capitalism in the Soviet state, applied during the NEP period, could not give satisfactory results, fascism uses this system to a much softened extent, by stressing the desire to maintain private entrepreneurship (however, conversely, the Soviets were subject to the process of the so-called “fascisization” under the influence of the bankruptcy of faith in the imminent arrival of the world communist revolution and the consequent necessity of being based on the national Russian ground). Therefore, there is no difference of quality between communism and fascism, but only a difference between the degree of intentional and achieved coup.

Private property is preserved in Italy, but individual reclamation can occur by the government's will at any moment. Banks are not nationalized, but they are “fascisized”, their management meets all party orders. The industry is based on a private initiative, but it is forced to submit to all the directives and orders of the regime through the corporation. Even stronger “Leninism” occurs in the field of political organization. “Soviet orientation” is clearly noticeable in international Italian policy.

Following the line of ordering the revolutionary phenomena, we must conclude that the complex of the anti-liberal revolution occurs in Poland too, but to a significantly lower degree than in Italy. Between the May Coup and fascism, there is the same difference in degree that we have found between fascism and sovietism.

Piłsudski’s supporters are undoubtedly a kind of revolutionary “order”, but neither so closed nor having such a compact organization as il partito or the Communist Party. The tendency to establish the actual monopoly of organizing the society is apparent in our country, but it does not display the traits of the complete destruction of the organization of the opponents. Our camp limits itself to shutting down political parties from the social area or state labour offices, if necessary, not stopping at acts of violence, but used in sizes incomparably smaller than in Soviet Russia or Italy. Similarly, the anti-liberal political system is present in our economic life in the relation of the state to production, but with very low intensity of this policy.




And what about the conclusions?

There will be time and place for the conclusions. The purpose of these arguments was only to characterize the anti-liberal revolution in post-war Europe as a set of phenomena that share a common internal logic and establish our place in this complex.

Our task should be to systematize the changes that we bring about. We must have our own program of building a new political system which rejects the principles of liberalism. This does not mean that we need to strengthen the intensity of the revolutionary process if it is not necessary; any exacerbation of it can take place only if there are extremely important reasons for this. Bolshevism or fascism have already done their work in the process of the history of the new world, and it is not necessary to do it again. We should strive to move beyond these systems to a further period of anti-liberal revolution, more constructive and, let us be honest, more human, but in any case, we should move forward day by day.

The achievement of such goal lies in connecting with these ideological forces that plan the political future of Europe divided into organized workers' nations. So we have to go with SYNDICALISM.

And we do not need to lecture the readers of “Przełom” on the principles of syndicalism.

[1] Stanisław Swianiewicz (or Świaniewicz, 1899-1997) – Polish economist and Sovietologist. Co-founder of the Eastern European Institute of Science and Research (1930), a Polish Sovietological institution operating in Vilnius. In 1939, he was taken prisoner by the Soviets; as the only prisoner of the camp in Kozielsk, he was withdrawn from transport to the place of execution in Katyn. Sent to a Soviet forced-labour camp, he left it in 1941, thanks to the intervention of Polish diplomacy, which enabled him to leave the Soviet Union in 1942. Author of multiple works, including: Psychiczne podłoże produkcji w ujęciu Jerzego Sorela (1926), Lenin jako ekonomista (1930), Polityka gospodarcza Niemiec hitlerowskich (1938), Forced Labour and Economic Development (1965), W cieniu Katynia (1976).

[2] Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941) – German politician and political and economic thinker. SPD activist, Minister of Finance of Germany (1923, 1928-1929). In his influential work titled Financial Capital (1910), he adopted the Marxist point of view and justified the need for political agreement between the workers' movement and capital owners. He was killed by the Germans.

[3] Paul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (1847-1934) – Prussian military and politician, born in Poznan. Generalfeldmarschall, German General Staff (1916-1918). In the interwar period, President of the German Reich (1925-1934), a supporter of the restoration of the Hohenzollern monarchy and the recovery of lands lost to Poland.

[4] Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) – German politician; activist of the German People's Party. Chancellor (1923) and German Foreign Minister (1923-1929). Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 for his contribution to the Locarno Treaties (1925), normalizing relations between Germany and France. He tried to peacefully regain the territories lost by Germany in 1918, including those lost to Poland.

[5] James Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) – British politician of Scottish descent. Labour Party activist, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1924, 1929-1935).

[6] Luigi Federzoni (1878-1961) – Italian journalist, writer and politician. Minister for the colonies (1923-1924, 1926-1928), Minister of the Interior (1924-2926), President of the Senate (1929-1939), president of the Royal Academy of Italy (1939-1944). As a member of the Grand Council of Fascism in 1943, he voted in favour of recalling Mussolini from the post of prime minister, for what he was sentenced to death in the so-called Verona trial (1944) in the Italian Social Republic.

[7] Edmondo Rossoni (1884-1965) – Italian politician. Before the First World War, he was an activist of the Italian Socialist Party, after the war – of the National Fascist Party. Supporter of revolutionary syndicalism. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (1935-1939). As a member of the Grand Council of Fascism in 1943, he voted in favour of recalling Mussolini from the post of prime minister; convicted to death in absentia in the Italian Social Republic.

[8] French: “thoroughly”.

[9] Giuseppe Bottai (1895-1959) – Italian journalist, poet and politician. Veteran of World War I; head of the Roman squadrismo during the March on Rome (1922). From 1930, professor at the University of Pisa. Deputy Minister of Corporations (1929-1932), Governor of Rome (1935-1936), Minister of Education (1936). Convicted to death in absentia in the Verona trial by the authorities of the Italian Social Republic. After the Second World War, he fled to Africa, where he served in the French Foreign Legion under the name André Bataille. After the amnesty (1947), he returned to Italy.

[10] Georgi Plekhanov (1856-1918) – Russian philosopher and political activist. From 1879, he was one of the leaders of the Narodniks organization Black Repartition. In Switzerland, he founded Emancipation of Labour group (1883), the first Russian Marxist organization. Co-founder of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (1898). At the congress of the RSDLP in Brussels (1903), he opposed the program of Vladimir Lenin; as a result, he headed the faction of Mensheviks (social democrats) in conflict with the party faction of the Bolsheviks (communists). After the February Revolution (1917), he returned to Russia.

[11] The period of operation of the Russian Provisional Government, from July to November 1917, headed by lawyer Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970).

[12] French: “God, a table or a basin?”

[13] Paul von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg (1847-1934) – Prussian military and politician, born in Poznan. Generalfeldmarschall, German General Staff (1916-1918). In the interwar period, President of the German Reich (1925-1934), a supporter of the restoration of the Hohenzollern monarchy and the recovery of lands lost to Poland.

[14] Heinrich Brüning (1885-1932) – German politician. Activist of the Catholic Centre Party, Chancellor of Germany (1930-1932). He introduced a number of solutions characteristic of the authoritarian system.

[15] Piotr Dunin-Borkowski (1890-1949) – Polish politician and political thinker; activist of the conservative movement. The voivode of Lviv (1927-1928) and Poznan (1928-1929). Author of multiple works, including Zagadnienie zmiany podziału administracyjnego (1930), Tendencje ustrojowe w Polsce (1931).

[16] German National People's Party (DNVP) – a conservative-nationalist group operating in Germany in 1918-1933.

[17] German: “emergency decrees”.

[18] A program for settling German reparations debts after the war, announced in 1929, to which Germany was obliged at the congress in Paris (1919), developed by an international team headed by American financier Owen Young (1874-1962).

[19] Paul Painlevé (1863-1933) – French mathematician and politician associated with the Republican-Socialist Party. Minister for Public Instruction and Inventions (1915-1916), Minister of War (1917, 1925-1929), Minister of Finance (1925), Prime Minister of France (1917, 1925).

[20] In 1925, Marthe Hanau and Lazar Bloch founded a newspaper, “La Gazette du Franc et des Nations”, which they used to influence the stock exchange and to wangle contributions to non-existent investments. The newspaper publishers were arrested and charged with fraud in 1928.

[21] In 1929, banker Albert Oustric declared bankruptcy of his bank, which had been involved in financial speculation. The bankruptcy turned out to be a set-up. The inquiry found that several politicians had protected Oustric.

[22] Raoul Péret (1870-1942) – French politician. Secretary of state to the Minister of the Interior (1913-1914), Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs (1914), Minister of Justice (1917, 1930), Minister of Finance (1926). Accused of supporting the criminal activities of Albert Oustric, but acquitted by the court in 1931.

[23] André Tardieu (1876-1945) – French politician. Minister of Foreign Affairs (1932) and Prime Minister of France (1929-1930, 1932).

[24] Alexandre Millerand (1859-1943) – French politician. Minister of Commerce, Industry, Posts and Telegraphs (1899-1902), Minister of War (1912-1915), Prime Minister (1920) and President of France (1920-1924). He transferred from socialist to right-wing positions.

[25] Francesco Nitti (1868-1953) – Italian politician, activist of the Radical Party, and after the Second World War, of the Italian Socialist Party. Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Trade (1911-1914), Minister of Finance (1917-1919), Minister of the Interior and Prime Minister of Italy (1919-1920). In the years 1924-1945, in emigration.

[26] Stilicho (died in 408) – commander-in-chief of the Roman army. He belonged to the Vandal tribe. He was murdered by political opponents.

[27] Odoacer (died in 493) – Germanic military leader; in 476, he deposed the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus and sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople, thus liquidating the Western Roman Empire. He was murdered by the competitor for the Italian ruler, Theodoric the Great.

[28] French: “arises in opposition”.

[29] Heimwehr (German “Homeland Protection”) – paramilitary political organization operating in Austria between World War I and Anschluss. It proclaimed anti-liberal and nationalistic ideas. His Serene Highness Ernst Starhemberg was the leader (1899-1956).

[30] Johann Schober (1874-1932) – Austrian politician. From 1918 until his death, Vienna Chief of Police; he contributed to the overthrow of the Habsburg monarchy. Chancellor of Austria (1921-1922, 1929-1930), Vice-Chancellor (1930-1932) and Foreign Minister (1921-1922, 1929-1932). The first President of Interpol (1923-1932).

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