German Revolution 1918-1919
The paper seeks to discuss the famous German revolution of 1918 to 1919 that led to the adoption of the system of republicanism by the German government (Haswell, Ralph, 12). There were different schools of thought accrued to the ideas that shaped the aspect of the revolution. Some of the thoughts were documented in a sourcebook that discussed the revolution and subsequent birth of a German republican government. The paper will look at the different schools of thought from the Spartacus manifesto, Heinrich Mann, and Rosa Luxemburg. They had a consensus on the purpose of the revolution, which was centered on the liberation of the marginalized and disadvantaged groups. However, they all took different thoughts on exactly what it entailed and the aims that it had. Their thoughts, as will be discussed, involve aspects of capitalism, socialism, and the consequential democracy. In addition, the success of democracy will be considered based on what the above had in mind. The political atmosphere in German prior to the revolution was shaped by the economic aspects of the brewing tensions between the proletariats and the bourgeois that later culminated in a political revolution.
The German revolution of 1818 running till 1919 is commonly referred to as the November revolution. It led to the subsequent political overhaul of the German government into a republican. The revolution has been interpreted in many ways with most people looking at it as something that liberated the German people from the shackles of misled political power. Before, the form of governance in Germany gave absolute power to the aristocrats or the well privileged in the society at the expense of the working class. The power needed to shift the balance, and was triggered by socialist ideas and phenomenon. The article under examination contains different ideas about what the revolution entailed, and incorporate aspects of proletarian protests, political activism and the fight against capitalism
The Spartacus’s were fuelled with the plight of the workers and other people who had been denied the right to power and free will of ideas by the German rulership after the World War. The soldiers, for instance, were regularly slaughtered under the regime, and the masses of the poor working class exploited for in the name of capitalism. The revolution was, therefore, recognized as a form of proletariat rise against the discriminative rule of the ruling class. The revolution is identified as being the cause of the government immersed itself with all the power and led to revolts from that were oppressed. In addition, the fight for the freedom from oppression by proletariats was identified as being a fight that involved all the people or rather working class who has felt the evilness of absolute power. It was, thereby, established to be an international struggle of the proletariats. The article observes, “but this task can only be achieved by the fight from the proletariats from all over the world (Spartacus manifesto, Page 4)”. In addition, the revolution was cited to repel against the government that was only concerned about capitalism profits, and the need to adopt a more accommodative leadership. The leadership in place only recognized capitalism, the sword, and violence. In that sense, the revolution was against such vices and needed a government that could work under negotiations and ideas from all the people in the society. The thinker in the Spartacus manifesto was more inclined to believe that the revolution happened because of capitalism, which is recognized as the beast against all forms of civilization. The thinker in this manifesto proposed the aspect of socialism as an ideal concept that would heal the wounds inflicted by capitalism. The ideas on the issue of democracy in this manifesto identified elements of socialism as the only way forward for the healing of the world that is extremely disfigured and the course towards justice.
Heinrich Mann differs about the supposed victory that the manifesto identified from proletarian solidarity. He recognized success from a revolution as being far-fetched because Germany would never be a winner. He terms the success of the revolution as a source of trouble or defeat. He says, “today we are all children of defeat end”. He cites that the revolution only brought more problems for Germany and did not attain any results even though there was a victory. To explain his sentiments, he mentioned that the revolution could not make Germany upright because nothing is ever perfectly upright. He identified the uprightness to be aspects of socialism that advocated advancing the interest of other individuals in the society. Unlike in the manifesto, Heinrich identified socialism to have its imperfections. He agreed with the point of the manifesto about the corruption that power had on in the society. To him, forms of dictatorship as observed in the government prior to the revolution were not ideal. However, he cautioned that the victory in the revolution may not end it all because the bourgeoisie would still have a majority representation in legislation over the proletariats. According to him, and much different from what the manifesto professed, the war that would lead to an upright Germany should change internally as opposed to external rebellions. To this, he establishes that the spiritual well-being of the people should form the fundamentals of change. He observed, “The fate of mankind is determined by feeling and thinking than by economic rules”. He identified that a democracy, fuelled by socialism, was bound to work only if it was used for the majority. He agreed with the points in the manifesto about the revolution in the scope of the power of the then government. To the herein mentioned, he emphasized that the excess violence from the revolution was justified because it did not match that done by the old regime. However, he observed that even the power gained by the revolutionaries was bound to go wrong because nobody understood the real concepts of the liberal world that was sought after through the forms of republicanism. All the people in power had had their idea curved by the old regime. He identified that republicanism in Germany would work when liberal politics geared towards majority advantages were established (Bouton, Miles, 76). Germany was capable as long as it set the rules of liberalism.
Rosa Luxemburg agreed with the idea of the Spartacus manifesto that the revolution was centered on economic reasons for the proletariats to take power from the capitalists. The revolution was for the purposes of establishing a more accommodative means of control of production. Rosa agreed that a revolution was necessary for the realization of socialism, which is the opposite of capitalism. She identified that it was upon the German people to reinstall the collapse of the German social democracy on August 4th and reinstate the position established by Marx and Eagles in 1872. However, she establishes that as opposed to the revolution through street fighting, parliamentary was the key to unlocking a Germany that everybody envisioned. The combination of political and economic ideologies was the main agenda. The Spartacus manifesto was solely geared to an economic transformation that was done through a street fight revolution to take the bourgeoisie from power. She agreed with Heinrich on the aspect of the revolution having meaning. The revolutionary cause in Germany, as she cited, lacked clear objectives. The position adopted by Rosa was in the same as Heinrich in the sense that she concluded that the German revolution lacked clear aims when it came to socialism. The intentions behind it, which were cited by the former as being spiritual well-being, needed to be revisited if socialism was to work. After the fall of the revolution on November 9th, a political solution was identified as being a remedy for the situation of the proletariats. By fostering for a republic nation that was aimed at the concentration of power from the people, the struggles of the proletariats will be tackled. Like Heinrich, she observed that the revolution and subsequent republican government could only work if the workers realized that the aspects of it were for the common good of everyone. A republican government was a political solution to the struggles of the common worker, but even it needed to be reinforced by a leadership that had a common goal. She observes, in reference to leadership of the masses, “It must utilize all the power for the great purpose of the workers”. In addition, she observed that since the masses were to be given power, they had to be taught of the ways to use the power. She takes the same kind of thinking that was established by Heinrich. People were not used to liberalism and needed to be schooled in it for the new form of government to be effective.
The republican government in Germany accrued all the powers to the people as a result of the revolution. Even though there are different thoughts on the revolution as projected in the above discussion, the ideology remains that it liberated the small people who were devoid of rights. The republican government was an end to political, social and economic liberty that was shaped by the doctrines of political liberalism. The thinkers in the above paper differ on ideas of the revolution based on aspects of capitalism and socialism but have not failed to showcase that the revolution was used for the right. Democracy in Germany was upheld as a result, and the rights of all minority groups established.
Bouton, Miles. And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution November 1918-August 1919. 3rd Ed. New York, 2012.
Haswell, Ralph. The German Revolution 1918-1919. 2012.
Kaes, Anton, and Martin Jay. The Weimer Republic. Source Book. London: University Of California Press, 2009.