On 21 October 1916, the "Minister-President" of Austria, Karl von Stürgkh, was shot and killed by Friedrich Adler, the secretary of Austra's large and not-very-radical Social-Democratic Party. Adler shot Stürgkh as a protest against World War One.
Below is the text of Friedrich Adler's speech in court at his subsequent trial, as translated and published in the US magazine "The Class Struggle" of July-August 1917. As an introduction we have an article by Leon Trotsky (from April 1922) on Friedrich Adler and his father Victor Adler, also a leading figure in the Austrian social-democratic movement.
Friedrich Adler was sentenced to death, but reprieved on appeal. He lived until 1960, and for many years from the mid-1920s was secretary of the patched-together continuation of the Second International of before 1914.
Introduction. Leon Trotsky: Victor and Friedrich Adler (April 1922)
Events crowded in upon each other. A telegram reporting the murder of Jaurès arrived. There had been already so many vicious lies in the papers that there remained at least for a few hours the possibility for doubt and for hope. The more so when a telegram reporting the assassination of Poincaré and an uprising in Paris following. But the possibility of any doubt about the murder of Jaurès soon disappeared as did the hope that it had been avenged ... on August 2 Germany declared war on France. By this time the Russian exiles had already begun to leave Vienna. On the morning of August 3 I left for Arbeiter-Zeitung’s new offices on the Wienzeile, to find out from the socialist deputies there what the position was for us Russians.
In the secretariat I came across Friedrich Adler or “Doctor Fritz” as he was called in top party circles in distinction from his father Victor Adler who was called simply “Doctor” without further detail. Thin, of quite a good height, slightly stooping, with a fine brow over which his curly shining hair fell down and with the imprint of a perpetual thoughtfulness on his face, Fritz always stood as one apart amongst the quite numerous Vienna party intellectuals so ready for wisecracks and cheap anecdotes. He had spent a year and a half in Zurich as assistant professor of physics and as editor of the local party newspaper Volksrecht (People’s Right). During the war Swiss socialism experienced a deep-going internal degeneration, and its interests diverged abruptly; the old party mandarins who considered the essence of Marxism to be expressed by the proverb: “A still tongue makes a wise head”, shifted at once into the background. But during those pre-war years when Fritz Adler was living in Zurich the atmosphere of Swiss socialism was marked by a deeply provincial character. Adler could not stand it, went back to Vienna, entered the party secretariat and the editorial board of its theoretical monthly Der Kampf (The Struggle). In addition he took upon himself the publication of a weekly agitational news-sheet Das Volk (The People) which was printed in quite considerable quantities mainly for the provinces. In the last weeks before the war Fritz Adler was busy with the preparation of the international congress. On his desk lay the jubilee stamps printed specially for the congress and all sorts of other publications: the party had succeeded in laying out more than 20,000 crowns on preparatory work, so the treasurer complained.
It would be an exaggeration to say that in that building on the Wienzeile in those days one could already make out definite principled groupings; no, this was not yet so. But it was nevertheless clear that a deep divergence in the psychological attitude to the war found its reflection. Some seemed to exult in it, directed obscene language at the Serbs and the Russians not distinguishing very much between the governments and the peoples: these were the organic nationalists barely covered with a thin varnish of socialist culture which was then peeling off them not daily but hourly.
Others, and at their head stood Victor Adler, treated the war as an external catastrophe which had to be “got over”. The temporizing passivity of the most influential leader of the party formed, however, merely a cover for unbridled agitation by the actively nationalist wing. A fine and penetrating mind and an attractive figure, Victor Adler was as a personality higher than his politics which consisted entirely in the latter period of squandering itself in seeking out happy combinations in the hopeless turmoil of Austrian conditions so conducive to skepticism. Adler’s politics, in turn, being extremely personal in character, were immeasurably superior to those political collaborators whom these politics brought together around the leader. For them his skepticism became cynicism; with them Adler’s aversion to “decorativeness” in politics turned into an open mockery of the fundamental values of socialism. And this “natural selection” of collaborators provided the sharpest expression and condemnation of Father Adler’s system of politics.
His son, with his inimitable revolutionary temperament, stood in an organic hostility to this system. He directed his criticism, his distrust and his hate towards his own government above all. During our last meeting (August 3, 1914) the first thing he did was to point out to me the appeal by the authorities to the population which had just been published: to track down and hunt out suspicious foreigners. It was with concentrated abhorrence that he spoke of the rising orgy of chauvinism. But his outward restraint merely masked his profound moral shock. An hour and a half later the “Doctor” came into the secretariat. He suggested that I go with him immediately to the prefecture to see the chief of the political police Heyer to ascertain from him how the authorities intended to deal with the Russian exiles living in Vienna.
On the way to the prefecture in the motor car I drew Adler’s attention to the fact that in Vienna the war had brought to the surface a sort of festive mood. “Those who are celebrating are the ones who don’t have to go to war,” he answered, “and their joy seems to be patriotic now. What is more, at present all the unbalanced and all the insane are coming out on the streets: this is their day. But serious people are sitting at home in a state of alarm ... Jaurès’ assassination is just the beginning. War throws open the field to every Instinct and every type of lunacy ...”
A psychiatrist in his old field, medicine, Adler frequently approached political events, “especially in Austria”, he would say ironically, from a psychopathological viewpoint.
How far he was at that moment from the thought that his own son would carry out a political assassination ... I mention this here because after Fritz Adler’s act of assassination the Austrian yellow press and a series of social-patriotic publications attempted to present the self-sacrificing revolutionary as unbalanced and even insane, from the standpoint of their own base “sanity” that is. But the judicial medicine of the Habsburgs was forced to capitulate before the courageous tenacity of the terrorist. What cold contempt he would have treated the retorts of the eunuchs of socal-patriotism with if their voices had reached him in prison.
Heyer, the chief of the political police, suggested that an order might be made the following morning for the detention of Russians and Serbs under guard.
“Those whom we know we shall release later on but there could be complications. Besides we should not afterwards permit them to leave the country.”
“Consequently you would advise our departure?”
“Absolutely. And the sooner the better.”
“Good... Tomorrow I shall leave for Switzerland with my family.”
“Hm... I would prefer you to go today.”
This conversation took place at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and at ten past six I was already sitting in a railway carriage heading for Switzerland.
Novy Mir, No.903, February 5, 1917
P.S. Fritz Adler’s personal courage was not sufficiently matched by physical strength of thought. When freed from prison by the revolution Adler capitulated to the party which had previously brought him to despair and then had betrayed him. Now Adler acts as a leader of the 2nd International serving the cause against which he had attempted to stand up if only by staking his life ...
Friedrich Adler's Address in Court
In the first place I must oppose the legend that has been woven about my person. I recognized from the beginning that my act would be attributed to a temporary state of mental aberration.
I was prepared for the cry of the whole press that only an insane man could have done such a deed at a time when all the rest of the population was in complete harmony with the regime of Count Stürgkh.
I expected that the press of the government Socialists in Austria as well as in Germany would try to cast me off as one who had lost his reason, and I have since, after I have had the opportunity to see the Berlin Vorwarts, read, under a great headline, "The Deed of a Maniac," what they have had to say about it. The Vorwarts at that time had already been endowed with an editorial department favourable not to the working class but to the government. I was, of course, prepared for the repudiation of the Vienna "Arbeiter-Zeitung" and its attempt to line up all the psychological moments it could find to prove that I had not been in complete possession of my mental faculties.
I desire to declare that I deny all responsibility for any statements made here by my attorney and that I am determined to oppose, most emphatically, any attempt on the part of my counsel to present this plea in my favour. It may be the duty of my attorney to take care of my body but it is my duty to protect my convictions which are more important than the hanging of one man more in Austria during the war. The case is a much more serious one than that which is engrossing my attorney here. I desire, therefore, to say from the start: I did not commit this deed in a fit of mental darkness, but after ripe consideration; I have considered it for a year and a half, have weighted all its effects, from every side. You see it is not a deed inspired by the moment but a premeditated act, undertaken and carried out with the fullest realization that with it my life is closed. When I entered this house in October I was convinced that I would not leave it alive. I was certain that in view of the political situation of that time there could be but one end, that the court before which I was to be tried could pass no other sentence than one of death by hanging. And I beg of you, much as you may have to bear from me, to be convinced of this, that I shall say not one word to hinder you from passing the only judgement that you as a special court can pass, yet I am convinced, were this a jury trial, I should perhaps look forward to a different judgement.
I am by no means inclined to overestimate the institution of trial by jury but I do believe it possible that the natural feeling of justice of people who have only to decide according to the lights of their conscience might find its expression here; you, on the other hand are placed here, not to decide according to the dictates of your conscience, but according to the cold letter of the law.
I harbour no delusion, therefore, and will certainly not attempt to overthrow this judgement; on the contrary, I will do everything to make it clear that there can be no other judgement.
First I should like to speak for a moment of the indictment rendered by the public prosecutor that was read here. When it was first read to me in November I laughed aloud at the point where it says, "The use of murder as a political weapon can hardly be a subject for discussion among ethical people, in an ordinary state of society." The prosecutor has set himself an easy task, to be sure. He passes lightly over the real problem, in a sentence, by inserting the premise. I agree with the State attorney that in an orderly state of society murder cannot be a political weapon.
But the premise, which is here to be proven, is the question as to whether we are living in an orderly state of society.
And right here the whole matter assumes an entirely new character. I will not go into the question as to the ethical character of our ruling powers. That is a moral question. I will confine myself to the wholly concrete problem, "are we living in an orderly state of society." Out of this question arises my moral justification for using murder as a political weapon. I cannot here enter upon the whole problem of the disorderly conditions of the country, of the real anarchy in the Austrian nation. I will return later to the question of constitutionality in so far as it is related to Parliament. But I will here, in connection with the words used by the counsel in his motion, calmly and dispassionately state what is to me a justification of myself and of the deed I have committed.
I maintain that the fact that such trials as this are possible, alone, justifies every act of violence against the rulers of Austria.
This trial alone, and all such trials, are to me a moral justification and I desire to emphasize in this connection that it was just this state of justice in Austria that has oppressed me most since the war began, that violated my every sense of honour, that made me ashamed of the fact that I am an Austrian. I will show you that the Stürgkh-Hochenburger ministry, as early as July 25, 1914, issued an imperial edict abolishing all jury courts, making way for the violation of our constitutional rights on the very day when diplomatic relations with Serbia were severed. This edict, at that time already represented a real coup d'etat. I will illustrate to you the situation that has been created in Austria by the regime of Stürgkh-Hochenburger by referring you to the ordinance issued on the 25th of July, 1914, providing for trial before a military court of persons who commit a punishable act.
Even at that time this edict was a clarification for me and the impression it made upon me has been deepened during the whole period of the war. If you look at these two ordinances you will find that they embody everything that has been done in Austria since the war began. They have used all kinds of subterfuges.
They claim that the national question in Austria is creating many difficulties, etc. What is a government to do if it cannot get along with its parliament, they ask, and see in the abolition of parliament the only possible solution. But later developments showed that these were nothing more than lying pretences to justify their desire to rule, substituting paragraph 14 for rule by parliament. Yet no one has so systematically ruined parliament as Count Stürgkh who foresaw what was coming. How- ever that is not a subject for discussion. It is not exactly a credit to the possibilities of Austria as a nation to claim that it can be governed only as an absolute monarchy. But the action of the 25th of July, 1914, has nothing to do with the political situation. It is proof of the fact that even before war was declared against Serbia war had already been declared against the people of Austria, that the government was determined to look upon the constitution as a scrap of paper, to stride rough-shod over everything that is law and right in Austria.
My case has been brought before this forum. But a large number of other cases which in accordance with the law should have been tried before jury courts have nevertheless not been brought before this court, in spite of the abolition of jury courts.
All such political crimes, high treason, lese majeste, disturbance of public peace and order, all crimes which before jury courts were referred by the Imperial Edict of July 25, 1914, to the royal imperial Military Reserve Courts.
That the government no longer trusts the civil courts to dispense justice in the spirit of the reactionary Holzinger, that it feels impelled to carry all political crimes before senates, before gentlemen whose trustworthiness to carry out every order from above is assured by the fact that they stand ready to defend the front against the enemy at home at a sacrifice of their own moral personality, especially when they are thus in a position to secure their physical existence from the more dangerous attacks of the enemy across the border, is, in a sense, an honourable distinction conferred upon you by the powers of absolutism. To a person whose whole life is spent in political activity this turning over of all political crimes to military courts is obviously a matter of some concern. The fact that I have, from the beginning, denounced the shame of Austria and have openly declared in widely diversified publications that we live in a state whose absolutism is unequalled in the whole world is sufficient proof that there is in Austria to-day no authority that is responsible concerning Austrian constitutionality.
For this is the crucial point in the Austrian situation and this explains my act that there is in Austria to-day no authority that is competent concerning Austrian constitutionality.
Everyone in Austria says: That does not concern me, I am not competent. The responsibility rests with him who has enacted this imperial decree. And if we deserve to be quite specific on this point we must admit that the Emperor is not responsible because, according to the constitution, he is irresponsible. No, the ministry is responsible and so this whole question of responsibility and of everything that is done in Austria becomes more and more complicated because the Austrian, in his good nature, does not feel as a citizen, but as a subject, while the instruments of government, on the other hand, do not consider themselves competent to test the legality of actions from above.
Thus, in the whole of Austria, no one is competent but the ministers and they have turned the constitution into a scrap of paper and have refused to be called to account. I ask you, therefore, what is to be done when there is no institution through which these eleven people may be called to account, what method remains but that of force? What other possibility is there, when a ministry rules by force to call it to account except the methods which they themselves are using. Does not, under such circumstances, force become a necessity, just as you have always said of war? In a state, which is called an orderly society, under such circumstances is there anything left but force? I will not speak of the right of revolution. The Social Democratic Party, upon whose program I have always stood and still stand today, does not deny force and has not condemned its use.
It has declared in its program that it will use, for the realization of its aims, all effective means that are in accord with the natural sense of justice of the people.
With a full realization of what they were doing Hochenburger and Stürgkh prepared their coup d'etat. Therefore the justification for my deed is to me, as a citizen, fully given. The question is not, is the use of force justifiable, but, what right have I, as an individual, to use force. In my opinion when law is trodden to earth every citizen has the right to take the law into his own hands. Since the government has placed itself outside the plane of legal redress every citizen is justified in calling it to account outside the plane of legal action; nay, further, he is not only justified but rather in duty bound to do so. Only a morally degraded nation, a nation devoid of all pride of citizenship could bear it. Is the use of force effective? This question it is somewhat more difficult to answer. Here, too, I must differ with my attorney who will say that it was not effective, that it was not in accord with the tactical ideas of the social democracy, that it was a deviation from the principles which I have represented.
I will relieve him from answering this difficult question and will show why my deed, that is in accord with my natural feelings of right, was likewise effective under the existing extraordinary conditions. Before entering upon this point, however, let me say a word to the remark made by the state's attorney to the effect that I have lived so long in foreign countries, a fact that explains to him the whole deed, since I have lost the natural love of my native land. By this remark the state's attorney intimates that I am an enemy of Austria. The state's attorney mentions that I accused the Arbeiter Zeitung of patriotic excesses, that I attacked Dr. Renner for his Austrianism. I do not claim to be a patriot. I have never made this claim, neither before nor during the war, nor will you believe that I, in order to gain your sympathy, will throw my convictions aside and say, "I am a patriot." You will see later that an entirely different train of thought has guided me. I have heard the word patriot frequently used in Austria as an abuse and this is not surprising for patriotism in Austria is a peculiar thing. Long before the war Austrian patriotism was denounced not only by social democrats but even by bourgeois as something inferior. The intelligent bourgeoisie was everywhere not patriotic but nationalistic; I need only call your attention to the fact that those people of the Deutsche National Verband, who to-day are so indignant at the unpatriotic activity of the Tschechs at one time called us the "k. k. (imperial) social democracy," to express their deepest contempt. At that time, the German bourgeoisie openly declared that its ideal was not Austria but the national state, that it belonged to the state of its nationality.
But in the course of developments this war has evolved a change of functions in the conception of Fatherland.
In former times there were no fatherlands, but simply nations which had to be governed. Since the 1870's the ideal of a national state has come to life in the bourgeoisie and so Austria was looked upon as a remnant of olden times, that was expected sooner or later to fall apart into separate national entities.
Now this idea of the fatherland has met a new conception, one that is no longer based upon nationalist lines, but upon questions of economic interests. The bourgeoisie has discovered its interest in the conservation of the economic field of Austria, an interest not only in Austria but in the foundation of a great Central European empire with the King of Prussia, of course, at its head, to whom Austria shall be subservient. Its ideal is no longer national independence but national rule. They are no longer satisfied with the class rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, they aspire to establish a kingdom from Berlin to Baghdad, over which the German people, i.e., the German bourgeoisie, shall rule.
Since the beginning of the war the same national and economic policy has made itself felt in other nations. We have seen that among the Czechs, too, economic interests have come into a sharp conflict with national interests. But the same change of functions has taken place within the Social Democracy. When Bebel attacked Bismarck most violently it was not because he had created the German Imperial government in place of a German Republic, but because he had created a Prussian Germany in place of a Greater Germany, for which the German democracy of that time and with it the labour democracy had been fighting. Now we see in this war that the labour movement has deviated from this old national principle, that the Social Democrats have adopted the imperialist mode of thought, and are defending a program in which they do not defend the German national state—which would correspond with the national defence of the French and the Belgians, but the integrity of the German Empire, including even its colonies. There was a period in the war when Social Democrats sacrificed the international character of their movement by openly supporting a policy of might and strategic securities.
There have been Social-Democrats who have gone so far as to surrender themselves to the shameless policy of conquest of an imperialist bourgeoisie. These words of the prosecutor cannot harm me. I do not say that it is inspiring to be an Austrian. I consider it to be a misfortune that must be borne, a misfortune especially where a Stürgkh is at the head of the nation.
The party has always maintained that Austria can exist only as a federation of national states; much energy was spent in the effort to spread recognition of the necessity of democracy in the nation. I cannot, of course, foretell what will become of this nation in this war. There are only two eventualities, and I have furthered neither of these eventualities, but have, rather, occupied a strictly neutral position toward Austria. The Socialist cause, I have always maintained, is far greater than any temporary state formation, and we must therefore refuse to compromise or bind its fate by an intimate identity with the fate of a nation, a mistake that was made in the past, I regret to say, by a number of my former friends. Little as I shall claim the title patriot, I nevertheless refuse to be termed anti-patriot, particularly when this is represented as the motive for my deed. To be sure, Austria plays a part in my motives, not the national, but the moral existence of Austria, the Austrian spirit.
Even when I was still a boy at high school, I always felt that the greatest, the most unforgivable sin, is the sin against the spirit, and that is a national sin in Austria. If you desire to comprehend my deed and all that has led to it, an understanding of my revolt and my opposition to this sin that has smothered every vestige of manliness in Austria must run, like a red line, through your consideration.
We are living in a state that was recaptured for Catholicism in a counter reformation of fire and sword. We are a state that has nothing but scorn for the convictions of men, a state that has never recognized the right of the individual to act according to his convictions. We are a state in which the slavish servility of all classes of the population has led to happenings that stand before me as a burning mask of shame upon our people.
It is the state's lack of principle that has bred in me a hatred, not against Austria as a country, but against Austria as an immoral entity, against its lying spirit. This Austrian spirit exists in all of its parts and in all of its nations; all are degraded by it, and in all it is being fostered by lawlessness. And if you wish to understand what brought me here, it was that this lying spirit has entered into my party, that Dr. Karl Renner, who is nothing less than the Lueger of the Social Democracy, has brought this readiness to betray one's convictions, this readiness to humbug into our movement. I have become ashamed of the odium that it reflects upon us.
In this whole crisis I have tried in vain to shake off the filth that has been spewed by these politicians on that which has always filled my whole being. I have attempted again and again to get away, to place myself in opposition to those who have betrayed the spirit of my party. That is the real cause for my deed. It was a protest against this spirit that has entered our movement.
A political party must always act according to its own principles.
We have seen the Austrian party acting according to German nationalistic principles, as represented by Leuthner, Pernerstorfer and Hartman, to whom the International is not the highest law, acting under the influence of people like Dr. Renner, whose highest ideals are embodied in the Austrian state. I have the highest respect for Pernerstorfer, who is an honest, open German-Austrian nationalist. I have no objections to his convictions, but I have nothing but contempt for a party that will tolerate a political opponent as its chairman. I can understand that Leuthner should stand on German nationalist ground, and will not respect him the less because of it. But that a Social-democratic party that, according to its program, is an international party, that the masses who profess allegiance to this international party should allow a man who is an open German nationalist and practically the mouthpiece of the foreign office in Berlin, to daily conduct the political columns of the Arbeiterzeitung, is quite another matter. The situation becomes worse when Dr.
Renner concocts from all sorts of half arguments a demagogic argument. For only thus can we look upon the smuggling of his own inner Austro-national convictions as real, international principles into the party. That the party has lost its honesty to itself, that is the thing that has brought me here.
Though the public prosecutor says that I stand completely isolated in the party, he must admit that all the contempt that I feel for the Austrian system is shared by a large majority of the Executive Committee that, as a matter of fact, only one man, Dr.
Renner, justifies every form of arbitrary action. But Dr. Renner cannot be considered representative of the party. These words can mean, then, merely that I stand alone in my act, in my use of terrorist methods. From this the prosecutor concludes that I discussed the matter with no one else. There were good reasons why I should not do so, for I hesitated to burden my friends with a responsibility that, in the end, only one would have to bear, to make them, too, the victims of persecution.
It will not be easy to reconstruct the situation that has developed since last October, for in these seven months a whole epoch has transpired. And yet it will be easy, for in this time, in many respects, the world has approached my point of view. Many a thing that was looked upon as an utter absurdity at the time has meanwhile become common property. Notice the contempt with which the indictment speaks of the International. And yet the very internationalism that, according to the prosecutor, was wiped off the earth, has risen in the estimation of the whole world; it has become the hope of the Austrian government. The prosecutor accuses me of having associated with a group of revolutionists in Switzerland; yet no one to-day cultivates the society of these very revolutionists more zealously than Count Czernin, the Prime Minister. They are the revolutionists who to-day have a certain measure of influence in Russia, and upon whose influence Austrian peace hopes are built. I cannot say that this method of cringing to these people appeals to me any more than does the fact that our Austrian party members go to Stockholm, not because they have remained international, but because they, like the government Socialists of Germany, have been officially sent as commis voyageurs of the foreign office.
The Austrian minority, which was very small in this country where free speech was impossible, while it was very large in Germany, this minority will not be represented in Stockholm. But it will be spoken of in Stockholm—your sentence will accomplish that. And the real greetings from Austria to the Stockholm Conference will be the death sentence that you will pass upon me.
The prosecutor says that I called out "Down with Absolutism! We want peace!" This cry was not heard by a single witness.
It is true, I desired to demonstrate for peace without indemnities, without annexations. But if I had said that seven months ago in this hall I would have been considered a fool, while to-day this demand is a strong factor in the negotiations of our own government. On the 23d of October there was not a sign of constitutional government to be seen in Austria. To-day we are approaching a reconvening of Parliament, and the necessity of Parliament is much more generally recognized than before. I demonstrated furthermore for more revolutionary tactics.
I have, all my life, been a revolutionist. I have seen in the daily political activity of the party a weapon for the revolution and have never regarded revolution as a catch phrase of political activity. Had I spoken of revolution seven months ago you would have laughed at the idea of a revolution in times of war. The counsel would have called for alienists and you would have thought him justified. But to-day, not only the Arbeiter- Zeitung, but the entire capitalist press rejoices over the Russian revolution. To be sure, these gentlemen have ever been enthusiastic for freedom in other countries. And to-day even the Arbeiter-Zeitung celebrates the revolution in Russia.
The public prosecutor speaks of the milieu from which I have come. I believe it will be difficult for you to understand this, for it is an entirely different world from the one in which you are accustomed to live. Allow me to illustrate. Originally it was believed that the earth was the centre of the world and that the sun and the stars moved around it. When Copernicus said "This solid earth moves," he was at first believed to be insane.
When this was impossible he was dragged before a court of inquisition, to which at that time was assigned the function of a military reserve court, and conducted a trial against him. To-day we can say dispassionately that in a certain sense both were right, that it all depends upon whether one is standing on the earth or transfers oneself to the sun. Both views are logically possible, although logically incompatible. We can never argue from more than one point of view. You are accustomed to see upon this earth the trenches of national warfare, but I have fixed all my hopes, so long as I have been able to think politically, upon those fronts of the class struggle that also exist in the world. If one argues from the point of view of national warfare, one reaches entirely different conclusions, and will easily be inclined to say to me "You are a fool." But when you see that that is useless you would call me maligner, criminal, hireling of the enemy. But I and my friends in Germany are just as little the accomplices of the Entente as our friends in France, in Russia and Italy, who support the International there, would be willing to become the accomplices of the Central Powers. This line of argumentation comes from an entirely different world.
We Socialists have always looked upon the world from the point of view of the class struggle—until the war began—and have subordinated everything else in the whole world to this highest point of view. We have looked upon the International as supreme, and yet there are people who say we must change this point of view; in peace the struggle between classes, in war the struggle between nations.
This change of viewpoint, according to the momentary situation is exceedingly attractive to the Austrian. But even if both points of view were correct, that on the earth and that on the sun, both points of view are nevertheless not of equal value. For the point of view of Copernicus has given to natural science a basis for its entire development, while the point of view of national warfare, the struggle between two competing imperialist powers, leads the world to ruin, leads to hunger, misery, to the destruction of the human race, leads to no higher development of humanity because it aims to establish one group as the rulers of the world.
Whether England or Germany will rule the world, new wars will follow. But the point of view of the International stands higher, because upon it depends the future of the human race, the idea of humanity. We have always said: In fighting the class struggle of the proletariat we are fighting the cause of humanity.
As I speak of humanity and progress I recall to you the Congress in Basel, which strove to prevent the war, and which said: "The proletariat feels that at this moment it is the bearer of the future of the human race." This idea of humanity gives to the class struggle of the proletariat a higher value. Yet this idea of humanity was betrayed by the Social Patriots at the beginning of the war and cannot now be revived.
Before the first of May you may have read in the Arbeiter- Zeitung about this idea of humanity. But what differentiates me from other Social-democrats is that I upheld, at all times, the ideals that they propagated before the war.
If you wish to understand my struggle you must know that it has been my highest aim to bring my party comrades back to this program. And you will understand what a cataclysm the action of the Social-democrats of Austria has been for me. We were in the midst of preparations for an International congress. We had planned to publish in the Vienna Arbeiter-Zeitung articles from delegates of all nations. And then suddenly there appeared in the Arbeiter-Zeitung of August 5 an article with the title "The Day of the German Nations," an article which stood completely on acceptance of the war. "We will never forget this day of the 4th of August," thus began the article. But our party leaders to-day would like to forget this article, and have said to me again and again that we in Austria had no 4th of August. To this I have always answered: "We had no 4th of August in Austria— the Stürgkh government never even asked us—but we had something that is much worse, a 5th of August, the day on which that article was printed in the Arbeiter-Zeitung, that harmed us far beyond the border, particularly in Italy, to where this article had been telegraphed." Thus I came into constant conflict with my party and my friends.