The Future Belongs to the People

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Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
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“THE FUTURE BELONGS
TO THE PEOPLE”


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THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited
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THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.
TORONTO


“The Future Belongs
to the People”

BY KARL LIEBKNECHT

(Speeches made since the beginning of the War)

 

EDITED AND TRANSLATED BY
S. ZIMAND

 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION
By WALTER WEYL

 

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1918
All rights reserved


Copyright 1918
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Set up and Electrotyped. Published, November 16, 1918

 

Press of J. J. Little & Ives Co., New York


CONTENTS

PAGE
Preface by Walter E. Weyl9
Introduction14
The Man Liebknecht21
The First Days25
Liebknecht’s Visit to Belgium27
Did Not Cheer the Kaiser29
Liebknecht Disapproves of the Majority Socialists of Germany30
The Reichstag Meeting of Dec. 2, 191431
Liebknecht Condemned by His Party34
A New Year’s Greeting to England36
Speech Delivered at the War Meeting of the Prussian Assembly, Mar. 2, 191540
In Defence of Rosa Luxemburg53
Liebknecht Called to Army Service61
Liebknecht Questions the Government62
Liebknecht Expelled from Social Democratic Party74
Reichstag Discussion about the Censorship75
Justice in Germany in War Time76
The Situation in Austria98
Education in Germany in War Time100
Liebknecht Protests at Being Prevented from Discussing the Submarine Warfare113
Reichstag Meeting of March 23, 1916115
Liebknecht’s Comments on the Imperial Chancellor’s Speech, April 5, 1916116
Reichstag Meeting, April 7, 1916118
Liebknecht’s Remarks on the German War Loan, Reichstag Meeting, April 8, 1916123
Liebknecht’s May Day Manifesto126
Liebknecht’s May Day 1916 Speech128
Liebknecht’s Reply to His Judges137
Liebknecht’s Trial and Release143

“The aim of my life is the overthrow of monarchy. As my father, who appeared before this court exactly thirty-five years ago to defend himself against the charge of treason, was ultimately pronounced victor, so I believe the day is not far distant when the principles which I represent will be recognized as patriotic, as honorable, as true.”

Karl Liebknecht.


PREFACE

The philosophy of Karl Liebknecht as revealed in these pages leaves but a narrow ledge for heroes to stand on. To him the significant thing in history is, and has always been, the stirring of the masses of men at the bottom, their unconscious writhings, their awakenings, their conscious struggles and finally their gigantic, fearsome upthrust, which overturns all the little groups of clever men who have lived by holding these masses down. In these conflicts, kings, priests, leaders, heroes count for no more than flags or flying pennants. All great leaders, Cæsar, Mahomet, Luther, Napoleon, are instruments of popular movements, or at best manuscripts upon which the messages of their class and age have been written.

To Liebknecht all that Carlyle has said about heroes is contrary to ideology and inversion of the truth. “As I take it,” writes Carlyle, “Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked there. They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing and accomplished in the world are properly the outward material result, the practical realization and embodiment of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world’s history, it may justly be considered, were the history of these.”

Look at what is happening in Germany to-day and test, as best we may, these two confronting theories concerning the influence of great men upon history. As I write Germany is in the throes of revolution. The immensely powerful Hohenzollern monarchy has fallen, the brave, stubborn, modern-witted, money-bolstered aristocracy is shattered, and a proscribed poor man, Karl Liebknecht, is loudly acclaimed. Was it one man, a Foch, a Wilson, a Lenin or a Liebknecht that overturned this mighty structure, or was it the movement of a hundred million men and women, armed and unarmed, on the battle-field and in the factory, in France and England and Russia and Germany? What could Liebknecht alone have done with all his ringing eloquence and all his superb, I almost said, sublime heroism? Clearly we must rule Carlyle out of the controversy and agree with Liebknecht, the Socialist, that Liebknecht, the hero, had little to do with this vast subversion.

Yet, as Carlyle says, “One comfort is, that Great Men, taken up in any way, are profitable company. We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon any great man, without gaining something by him.”

At this safe distance no one could be more “profitable company” than Karl Liebknecht as he stands up boldly against all that is powerful, respectable and formidable in Germany and challenges it at the utter risk of life and reputation. Such courage as his is almost inconceivable; for us poor conforming or at best feebly protesting little people it is quite impossible. To die among thousands, even to die alone, if you think you hear the plaudits of your nation or your class, is a thing many of us have learned to do, but to stand up against a vindictive irrational war spirit, such as ruled Germany, to stand up alone, to be contemned not only by your enemies but by those who called themselves your comrades and friends, to be met by polite derision and by actual threats of violence, to be called a madman, to be called a traitor, to be misunderstood and doubted; to be met in occasional moments of dejection even by doubts in your own mind, and still to hold your own bravely and with cool passion, day after day and day after day, in circumstances growing daily more difficult, and finally to go to prison gladly, triumphantly—that is courage surpassing the courage of the rest of us. It is easier to die even by torture than to persist in this opposition to forces physical and mental not only confronting but surrounding and even permeating us.

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