The Missing Weak Link

  • Ken Post


In the period 1914–18 the dominant class forces in Germany made their first military attempt in the twentieth century to achieve a global hegemony. Resisted by the other imperial powers, above all Britain and France, this ended in temporary ruin for German capital and confirmation of the long-term decline of that of Britain and France. This crisis of the old capitalist order brought firmly onto the world stage the new rising star, the US capitalist class, and one that was still a bit-player, the Japanese. At the same time it cleared away the actors and scenery of old empires — Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman — and from the wreckage of the first emerged a new revolutionary state, which from 1923 would be known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dedicated to building socialism on Marxist-inspired lines.


Social Capital Communist Party Capitalist Class General Strike Weimar Republic 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For details of the reaction of the working-class movements in France, Germany, Belgium and Britain, see Braunthal, 1967, pp. 20–30.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    On the SPD, see ibid., pp. 57–8. On the Zimmerwald peace movement, see ibid., Chapter 2.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fowkes, 1984, p. 25 and quoted on p. 31. For more on the failure of revolution to occur in late 1918 and early 1919, see Geary, 1993. Contributions in Wrigley, 1993, provide a useful comparative European panorama.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Much later, Lukács characterised his own position at that time as ‘messianic sectarianism’ (Lukacs, 1971, p. xiii). Lenin denounced what he termed German, Dutch, British and other ‘infantile leftists’ in April 1920, especially for their refusal to work within their national parliamentary spaces: see Lenin, 1953f.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The discussion here is based on Bukharin, 1969, pp. 242–52.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Quoted in Sobolev et al., 1971, p. 197. See that work, pp. 193–202, for an account of the 1923 failure from a pro-Comintern point of view.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The information here and in the next paragraph is based on Fowkes, 1984, pp. 99–109.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bracher, 1978, p. 23. As Bracher’s translator points out, völkisch is untranslatable into English, being a combination of ethnocentric, racial and national overtones (Bracher, 1978, note, p. 23).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    As some readers will notice, this raises the issue of ‘German exceptionalism’, which space prevents me from tackling here (it is central to a companion study). Let me baldly state that I do not hold to it as a proposition on material class history, but I do at the level of national culture. Again, space prevents me from going into the last issue at length, but in addition to works used here and in Chapter 5 see Hermand, 1992; Mosse, 1964, 1975; Poliakov, 1974; Stern, 1989.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    It must also be noted that the same developments were occurring in Austria, where the political leader Georg Ritter von Schönerer held the Jews responsible for corruption, freedom of the press, antinational liberalism and the problems created by capitalism. He also favoured the unification of Austria with Germany and was anti-Catholic and anti-Slav. Even more important, because of his influence on Hitler (resident in Vienna 1907–14), was Karl Lueger, the Catholic mayor of Vienna, whose social reform movement advocated an anticapitalist ‘organic’ society (Bracher, 1978, pp. 64–5).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© K. W. J. Post 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ken Post
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social StudiesThe HagueNetherlands

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