Imperialist Germany’s hour of fate

From ‘The Call’, paper of the British Socialist Party, October 10 1918

Brest-Litovsk is avenging itself, and what was to be imperialist Germany’s supreme security has become her supreme ‘hour of fate’ ...

In the fifth year of the war, at the moment of almost complete triumph, when another blow, it seemed, would have been sufficient to place Paris and the Channel ports in Germany’s hands, the wheel of fortune suddenly made a complete turn round, and the proud edifice of the German army collapsed at one blow.

This is something more than a mechanical catastrophe ... It is a psychological catastrophe due to the collapse of the morale of the German people and of the army ... It was at Brest that that morale was killed, and it was general Hoffman, as representing the military-imperialist party, who did it when, impatient at Trotsky’s thrusts, he brought his fist down on the table and shouted out: “We are the victors!”

By that gesture and that exclamation he showed the German people ... that imperialist Germany was fighting not for defence, but for conquests. The gigantic strike involving one million workers was the first reply of the German people, and since then in spite of - or perhaps just because of - the great victories of the first six months of the present year ... the mortal wound inflicted upon the German morale at Brest continued to bleed and to suppurate, undermining the nation’s and the army’s power of and will to resistance, until at the first serious test the whole constitution broke down. Trotsky was a thousand times right when he said at Brest: “The war map is nothing; the mind of the people is everything.”

... It is very unlikely that Prince Max’s cabinet in general and the Scheidermann socialists in particular will display that unreserved ‘will’ to peace and reform which alone can reassure the people and reunite it in resisting foreign aggression ... Is it not more likely that the new government will in due course suffer shipwreck in its attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable claims of kaiserdom and democracy, and that it will either provoke a revolutionary rising of the people or prepare the way for a military dictatorship ... which in the end however must also lead to revolution?

It seems to us that Germany has now entered upon the road which has been traversed by Russia since 1915. It is bound to be shorter, but it will lead to the same goal: the social revolution. The appointment of the present ‘national’ government, whatever the motives behind it, marks the beginning of the end of imperial and imperialist Germany.