However this political revolution had a background that harbored the intrinsic necessities of history.
In November 1918, Germany found itself before an overwhelming task in the domain of foreign policy. It was necessary to save the country and its independence despite the catastrophic military debacle. In 1917, Russia knew a similar situation and proved itself there. Germany had lost on the terrain where the combat unfolded until the present. Even a levee en masse could not have remedied it. To face this situation, it was necessary not only to have an exceptional courage but also an entirely new tactical plan and to place the struggle on this other scheme. Germany should have presented itself in the manner of avoiding the habitual show of military force, that would give it an unexpected superiority. It had lost the national war. We could only do away with it by capitulation or a class struggle turning against the bourgeois spirit of the victorious Western powers. In this case, the justification for the war, that had galvanized the armies of the Entente until this moment, would no longer have value. The combativeness of the French, English, or American troops would be internally sapped if the German workers had deployed the flag bearing motto of liberation for the oppressed classes of all countries. Then, it maybe had to sacrifice the German bourgeoisie. But what importance would that have had if, at the price of sacrifice, Germany could have been saved?
The historic hour of the German workers had sounded. From that moment, more than one Junker said, relying on his sense of history, that “socialism” was the last platform of German salvation. The German workers should have made world history. They should have given their blood with even more generosity then they had during the war and surpassed the marvelous tradition of Prussian heroism. The new front that should have reunited on the Rhine could only have been a front of class against the bourgeois world. However, the hinterland of this front would extend to Siberia. War and not peace, war on the interior and exterior, against all of those who had no taste for Spartan austerity, that was what the German workers should have carried to their people and to the entire world.
The German workers shirked this historic mission for which they had been called. For who else then the workers could have lead the combat of classes against the bourgeois and Western world?
Given that the model of the German worker is not of the proletarian type, even and uniform, the proletarian condition does not truly correspond to his nature. He doesn’t feel he is in his element there. His mentality and the internal law of the proletarian condition diverge. For this reason, there is not an instinctive and spontaneous accord between his acts and the inherent necessities of his condition. Certainly in Germany, the worker is still the most apt for the class struggle. Nevertheless, this aptitude is far from being evident and incontestable. He has doubts and scruples before this struggle – not in the intellectual scheme but in the scheme of his psychological structure. The sole fact of calling himself “comrade” already puts him ill at ease. To be a combatant of this class struggle frightens him. It appears to him as a risk too foreign to his nature to be able to follow it. Thus the German workers should have been pressed, with an overflowing enthusiasm and a blind and spontaneous devotion, to give their lives to this cause, they trembled before the catastrophic perspective of a proletarian heroism; this heroism did not attract them at all. They did not have the vocation. They did not want uncertain “adventures,” fearing a “fall into the void.” They even doubted the capability to assume the responsibility of a German proletarian. For them, universal revolution directed against the West did not represent this audacious enterprise, to derail all the parties that wanted the subjugation of Germany. They saw a sacrilege there. Thus where they should have confronted the greatest dangers, they feared for their security.
The workers foresaw the enormous effort that they had to make in matters of internal and external politics. This presentiment paralyzed them. They did not only see before them the external, bourgeois, enemy, who in his drunkenness of victory made his ravages. They were not deceived any longer by the very great power of the bourgeois class, that had to be considered even in Germany. Russia used its immense space against the invasion of foreign powers, space that was lacking in Germany. Besides that, the Russian bourgeoisie was of relatively little importance and, in that which concerned rooted traditions, prestige, effectiveness, and the feeling of self value, it supports no comparison with its German “sister.” Certainly, in 1918, this German bourgeoisie, frozen in fear before the national catastrophe, that struck it, abandoned power to the workers. However, it was necessary to expect them to defend themselves with fury as soon as their social and economic interests were seriously touched. The alliance between the bourgeoisie and the foreign enemy, which once the Russian bourgeoisie did not reject, probably was the last refuge of the German bourgeois also. Only its unleashed fanaticism would have permitted the proletariat to launch into combat against the bourgeois world, German and foreign. The German worker ignored this fanaticism; thus, he recoiled from the action that history expected of him. Only some local and spontaneous events indicated that, in certain cases, the necessity of having to act was understood. Finally, during the crisis of Versailles, even Count Brockdorff-Rantzau came to understand that Germany should engage in a global revolution to save its future.
By reason of its character, a people can be incapable of facing a situation of global and historical bearing. A nation can only be revolutionary on the condition that its nature had mysteriously predestined it to upheavals for which the times are ripe. The fact that it knows to accomplish what the moment requires, gives it a historical grandeur. The Russian mentality in its orientation was marvelously in accord with the action that the year 1917 demanded of its people. Germany, on the other hand, showed itself completely distraught before the situation of 1918. The proletarian model was foreign to it, not corresponding to its nature. Thus it fell, maladroitly and clumsily, into the servitude of Versailles. It could have escaped if it had sapped the superiority of enemy forces with the means and ruses of revolutionary, proletarian war. By remaining unshakably faithful to itself, the enemy had no trouble in inflicting on it a humiliating defeat. It did not know to adapt to the needs and requirements of the new global situation. For this reason, it remained fundamentally attached to the old world whose law, since 1918, gave entitlement to Versailles. Given its nature, the German people, including the workers, could not face what history had imposed on it. This task was above its forces and going against its instinct. As it could not master the situation, it became the slave.