Karl Liebknecht- Militarism & Anti-Militarism- II. Anti-Militarism-Anti-militarist Tactics
4. Anti-militarist Tactics
1. Tactics against militarism abroad 
If we consider the question simply from a logical point of view, the need for an army organization could also be eliminated as far as capitalism is concerned by removing the possibilities of conflict or by a process of international disarmament equally paced between the nations.
The removal of the possibilities of conflict would mean above all the renunciation of the policy of expansion which, as has been mentioned above, may find its natural conclusion in the globe coming under a single trust managed by the Great Powers. It would also mean what in the end comes to the same thing: the creation of a federal world state.
This however is for the moment a romantic dream of the future; the probabilities indicate that world politics will not attain this “state of permanence” before the proletariat realizes its final aim and replaces capitalist world politics with its own.
Things are even worse as regards international disarmament. This would mean not only the abandonment of military competition by all the military states but also the renunciation of the chances of gain which one or other of the mightiest states, which might be most influential in bringing about disarmament, has or thinks it has (from this arises the proposal for arbitration to establish contingents in proportion to the size of each of the armies!). Disarmament means moreover neither more nor less than the abandonment of those international interests might cause the ruling classes, capitalism, to appeal to the ultima ratio regum (the last resort of kings), that is to say, to just those interests which are regarded by capitalism as most important, indeed vital for its life, especially the policy of expansion. The belief that all this can be carried out under the domination of capitalism before this natural state of permanence in world politics has been attained is simply blind faith. Certainly the influence exerted by the proletariat on foreign policy, directed against the world policy of expansion and in favour of a world federation, is growing ever stronger even in backward countries and may lead to the reduction of the danger of war and the pacification of world politics. But the increase in the influence of the proletariat also increases the danger of Bonapartist tricks, so that it is doubtful whether the sum total of the possibilities of war can be reduced. There can be no question of eliminating them.
Anti-militarism can also be a force in bringing about balanced international disarmament if it succeeds in rendering the existing armies incapable of action, or at least in crippling their activity. Hervé [1*] demands – this is the essence of his idea – that we should work at any price towards this aim of crippling the armies. A good number of more or less sound arguments have been raised against the feasibility of this plan. The most serious – though it does not apply to the proposal for a combination of disarmament and revolution – is that it is impossible to bring about complete international disarmament. Even in the most progressive countries there are always plenty of strike-breakers to be found! Precisely the more civilized nations would, relatively speaking, be weakened and thus become prey to the lower cultures.
But Hervé’s idea is also acceptable in principle only if we assume that the proletariat under no circumstances and in no case has an interest in the defence of the nation. And the main dispute centres around this point. In this connection Kautsky’s Realpolitik, which rightly is not satisfied with the superficial and confusing distinction between offensive and defensive wars, is preferable to the exaggerated anti-patriotism of the Yonne Federation, which fails to recognize the practical position. Until the economic and social state of permanence for which Social-Democracy strives and the abolition of the class character of society have been realized all over the world, there exist possibilities of war which even Social-Democracy – in fact precisely Social-Democracy – cannot eliminate. It is of course obvious, as we have pointed out above, that the normal causes of war under capitalism are so constituted that the proletariat has nothing to do with them – indeed, it must oppose them with all its strength. It is nevertheless incorrect to think that all wars are actions directed against the proletariat. This might be possible in a Bonapartist sense, and it may well be that a little Bonapartism is “always present”. But the essential point as far as the causes of war are concerned is the fight for spoils, for profit between the capitalist classes of the world powers. It may of course be that as a result of such wars and during their course uprisings and revolutions will take place, and each of the belligerent powers may be forced to turn its weapons against its own proletariat. Thus a solidarity of interests of the ruling classes of these powers against the proletarian classes is brought into effect, but this would normally produce a tendency for the war to be terminated. And it is just as natural that every successful war based on capitalist motives, whether or not there is any intention in that direction, produces Bonapartist consequences, whereas if the course of the war is unsuccessful the chance that capitalist reaction may collapse balances the fact of the damage which civilization is sure to suffer. The proletariat therefore has an especially strong reason to take action against war, and it is easy to see how things can get out of hand in this struggle – and easy too almost to approve such excesses. As a stimulant to thought Hervéism has a valuable mission to fulfil, and fulfils it.
We must first sort out the different kinds of war. The point is to be clear about these differences! Then we shall be able to tell in what cases disarmament can be pursued as a matter of principle. Of course the question of what basic position to take on the problem of war is of the greatest practical importance and in no way simply theoretical speculation. Nor does the question automatically decide itself when we are faced with a concrete case. On the contrary, it is precisely such a concrete case which, because of the excitement of the situation, easily introduces a tendency to blur a clear insight into what is happening. The events which took place in the German Party at the time of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war and of the Herero rebellion warn us to be on our guard and to begin to sort out the question of principle.
It is moreover necessary to examine in each case, apart from the question of what is desirable in principle, the further question of what can be achieved in practical terms. And in this connection too Hervé cherishes dangerous illusions. The time is not yet ripe for a general strike and a military strike against every war harmful to the proletariat. Hervé exclaims: “With enough energetic anti-patriotic agitation, the mountain will come to Mohammed!” Here he shows his anarchist colours. We must point out that the greater part of the proletariat is not yet class-conscious and not yet enlightened from the Social-Democratic point of view; even less can it be won for anti-patriotic action in a case which demands not only a certain coldblooded willingness for self-sacrifice but also presence of mind in the excitement of a passionate chauvinistic upsurge. It is impossible to attain complete success. The measure of success, of disarmament, will be directly proportionate to the measure of education and training which is enjoyed by the working class in each country: the most backward nation is the easiest to defend. An action of this kind would be a premium on cultural backwardness so long as the education and readiness for struggle of the great mass of the proletariat in the countries concerned in the war is not more or less simultaneously raised to the highest point. Organization and the general revolutionary education of labour are the preconditions for a successful general and military strike in the case of war. To use straightforward anti-militarist propaganda for this purpose would be absurd.
Things are normally like this: when the proletariat has got so far as to be able to carry out such actions, it has got far enough to seize political power, for there are no more unfavourable conditions for the display of proletarian power than those normally present at the outbreak of a war.
And as far as Hervé’s plan is concerned of combining a military strike with an insurrection – that is, the attempt to capture political power and give the revolution the means to defend itself – it would of course not itself be a premium on cultural backwardness. But it is necessary to ask whether such a plan can ever be realized – in so far as it is ever possible in a social revolution – on a national scale, leaving aside the feasibility of realizing such a plan, like that of the military or general strike, on an international level. As far as the national level is concerned, the chances of success are in direct proportion to the development of the proletariat and the degree of the political, social and economic pressure under which it lives. And this pressure will constitute either a hindrance or a help in accordance with its intensity and its relation to the economic and ideological-political development of the proletariat. In countries where this pressure is moderate, therefore, in spite of the development of the proletariat – England, for example – not much more would be attained than in countries where the intensity is high but the proletariat little developed – for example in the agricultural and overwhelmingly Catholic industrial centres of Germany. What may be practicable for France, Belgium and Switzerland is by no means practicable for Germany. And anti-militarist propaganda on its own cannot supply what is lacking, even if it is perfectly suited to the task of awakening class consciousness. There is a further objection. Even insurrections cannot be fabricated. If we consider the question in a reasonable and level-headed way we cannot assume that every war – or even every war which is condemned by the proletariat and harmful to its interests, and even given energetic agitation – would immediately raise even the most receptive audience of the people, let alone all the peoples exploited by capitalism, to the revolutionary fever heat necessary for a successful revolt. War is a factor which does not appear with anything like the same regularity as the conflict with militarism at home. The masses generally look on it as a rather remote and theoretical danger. They do not see it as a pure manifestation of the class struggle, and the fact that it depends on the actions of foreign states makes it difficult to know just what is going on, not only with regard to the war itself but also with regard to the actions taken against it.
Here too Hervé underestimates the great driving forces which would have to be put into effect by such anti-war action if it were not to disintegrate in a ludicrous and dangerous manner like a bomb exploding in the pocket of someone about to throw it.
Again the point is to make the necessary distinctions! Don’t measure everything by the same criterion! There are of course cases of wars which release the revolutionary forces, which create a state of great social and political tension inside individual states and bring things to a head. This would be true for example of an intervention in Russia, though the likelihood of this is not very great. The outbreak of such a war would be the sign for the peoples of western Europe to declare a ruthless class war, it would be a force, a whiplash whose effect could only be an uprising against reaction at home; against the worshippers of the knout, against the ignominious hangmen of an unhappy people thirsting for freedom. In fact, Vaillant’s slogan – plutôt l’insurrection que la guerre! – would find an enthusiastic echo among the peoples of all civilized lands.
Other cases are now imaginable in which such altruistic solidarity would surely spring up – a war between Sweden and Norway, for example. But this is not the normal development on which we can base the principles of our tactics. It is possible that in the foreseeable future a situation of this kind would be created by a war between France and Germany. It is the task of the Social-Democratic movement in the two countries to promote this situation by revolutionary propaganda work. Much of course depends on the cause of the war in question. It cannot be denied that, for example, in spite of all efforts to drum up an atmosphere favourable to imperialist politics, colonial motives for war bring little grist to the mill of the war-mongers.
If we can therefore at the moment only set complete disarmament as our object in rather exceptional cases, there are no reasons of principle nor any practical reasons against the reduction of arms, which simply reduces the capacity of an army to attack. The abolition of the standing army and its substitution by a citizen army, a militia, together with a corresponding reduction in military expenditure – which goes hand in hand with the other measures, as Gaston Moch has expertly shown – and the weakening of all other dangerous military influences : these are the demands which the class-conscious proletariat has quite logically inscribed everywhere on its banner.
There are therefore good reasons why the decisions of the international congresses (which contain the minimum anti-militarist programme of the majority of the organizations whose principles are those of the modern labour movement) are only able to make certain general points on the question of “militarism abroad”. Nor is it any less reasonable that the tactical programmes of the individual parties in each country do not go into details on the question, or that the struggle against militarism normally takes place in the domain of general politics. That is to say, these parties try to make some progress towards their object by the influence they exert on the whole social order rather than by specialized propaganda. The resolution moved by Vaillant at the French Party Conference at Limoges, which is to be put before the Stuttgart Conference in 1907, is essentially a good one and a useful contribution.
The attacks of the anarchists, especially those of Nieuwenhuis [2*], against this attitude of the Social-Democratic movement are doomed to failure. The resolution in question may be a little fatalistic, but it is not empty words. And empty words and fantastic schemes are all we get from those whose attempts to solve the tactical problems of our day – which in any case can never be completely solved – consist in the announcement of quite unrealizable schemes.
2. Tactics against militarism at home
3. Anarchist and Social-Democratic anti-militarism
But between the two ideas there exist fundamental differences.
For anarchism this process of influencing the will is the only essential precondition of success. For Social-Democracy it is of subsidiary importance by the side of the stage of objective economic developments, none of which – with the best will in the world as far as the masses and a given class is concerned – can be skipped.
The anarchists consider that such an influence is always possible if energy be exerted. Social-Democracy considers that, as a mass class manifestation, it is only possible when certain economic conditions have been fulfilled. The struggle of the two tendencies turns around these conditions, while differences within Social-Democracy normally arise from a dispute as to whether such conditions are fulfilled in a given case. This is of course a difficult question to decide, and it is therefore difficult to determine to what degree one should attempt to influence the will, and especially what degree of predisposition is necessary in a given case. Personal optimism or pessimism play an important role here which cannot be eliminated. This is how the differences within the Social-Democratic movement arise. Those who assume that influence can play a great role and demand only a small degree of predisposition tend towards the anarchist position – they are the anarchist-Socialists. In spite of the contrast – which is not contradictory – between anarchism and socialism, we therefore find all possible gradations between the tendencies, like colours in a spectrum.
The degree to which the will can be influenced depends on the degree of predisposition and upon the instability of the mental balance of the people or class in question. In times of excitement this instability is much greater than in times of calm. There exists therefore a potential which can at times be confusing or even dangerous, but is for the most part extremely useful. In times of excitement, then, more can be achieved than in quiet times. But this surplus normally vanishes as soon as calm is restored, together with the surplus of energy which it helped to produce. The history of revolutions is living proof of this fact.
The basic differences between the two fundamental conceptions is also shown by the fact that anarchism considers it possible for a handful of determined men to accomplish anything – of course by making use of the will of the masses, whether this remains active or passive. Socialism too considers that a well qualified and determined minority with a clear aim can carry the masses with it at decisive moments and exert an important influence. But the difference is this: while the goal of socialism in exerting such influence and its estimate of its feasibility lies in the possibility of awakening and carrying out the will of the masses (which the masses will be ready and able, given the situation, to display as their social will), the goal of anarchism is defined in terms of a true enlightened despotism, in the sense that a determined handful of usurpers carry out their own will and make use of the masses as a tool to that end.
Anarchism wants to spring, on an untamed horse, over the difficulties of the economic and social situation, or – depending on the circumstances – to bridle the horse by its tail. The leit-motiv is: in the beginning was the deed. Of course a time may come in the development of the class struggle when the action now proposed by anarchism will be feasible and correct. But the mistake of anarchism lies not in the absolute impracticability of its proposed methods, but in the relative impracticability which arises from the fact that it is incapable of reading the social relation of power at a given time, which in turn is due to a lack of historical and social insight. And if the proposals made by anarchism can be realized and approved of at later stages of development, this represents no justification but rather a condemnation of anarchist tactics. It ought to be added however in justice that these tactics do often stimulate thought.
Anarchist and semi-anarchist anti-militarism is related to the anarchist and semi-anarchist conception of the general strike. The relation can be demonstrated by the fact that for this kind of anti-militarism the military strike is the schematic culmination. To grasp the essence of this anti-militarist tendency and its differences with Social-Democratic anti-militarism, the following questions must be distinguished: the basis of anti-militarism, the methods of propaganda for anti-militarism, the final aim and object to be attained, and the means by which this object is to be gained.
The fundamental principle of the anti-militarist movement is the same for anarchism as for socialism in so far as both see in militarism an especially violent and mechanical barrier to the realization of their social plans. But for the rest the principle of the one is as different from that of the other as the anarchist world outlook is from the Social-Democratic. It is not possible here to go further into the question of how little anarchism understands the organically capitalist character of militarism and the laws of economic and social development which as a consequence have to be applied to it. Here lies the root of all the other essential differences between the socialist and anarchist forms of anti-militarism. They can be summed up as follows. Social-Democratic anti-militarism in its struggle against militarism considers this system as a function of capitalism, recognizing and applying to it the laws of economic and social development. Anarchism regards militarism more as something independent, arbitrarily and accidentally created by the ruling classes, and carries on the struggle against it, just as it carries on the struggle against capitalism in general, from a fantastic ideological standpoint, which ignores the laws of social and economic development. In restricting itself to surface phenomena, it attempts to knock militarism off the saddle by appealing out of thin air to individual determination; in short, it tries to achieve its goal in an individualist manner. Anarchism in fact is individualist not only in its social goal – in different degrees, according to the variety of anarchism, but also in its historical, social and political conception and in its methods.
The final goals of the anarchist and Social-Democratic forms of anti-militarism, if we are satisfied with a slogan, are the same: the abolition of militarism, abroad as well as at home. But Social-Democracy, in accordance with its conception of the essence of militarism, regards the complete abolition of militarism alone as impossible: militarism can only fall together with capitalism, the last class system of society. Capitalism of course is not something fixed, but a constantly evolving system which can be influenced and weakened to a considerable degree by contrary tendencies contained within it, and above all by proletarian tendencies. In the same way militarism, the manifestation of capitalism, is not incapable of being weakened, as is shown by the different forms it takes in different countries. Its connection with capitalism can also be loosened. 
But the same thing holds to a greater or lesser degree of the other manifestations of capitalism, and it changes nothing of the organically capitalist  character of militarism, and nothing of the fact that the goal of Social-Democracy’s anti-militarist propaganda is not to fight the system as an isolated phenomenon, nor is its final aim the abolition of militarism alone. Anarchist anti-militarist propaganda, on the other hand, regards the simple abolition of militarism as its ultimate goal. Of course we cannot deny that anarchists too wage the struggle against capitalism (understood in the non-organic anarchist sense), but they wage it in parallel, and not together with the anti-militarist struggle. But even the anarchists, in their truly zig-zag theoretical course, quite often show glimpses of a more profound social insight. 
It is in the methods of struggle that the fundamentally different historical modes of interpretation are most apparent. Here we have to distinguish between the method of promoting an anti-militarist movement and the method of using such a movement against militarism. As far as the first method is concerned, anarchism works first of all with moral enthusiasm, with moral stimuli, with humanitarian arguments, with arguments about justice – in short, with all kinds of appeals to the will which ignore the class character of anti-militarism and seek to stamp it as an abstract efflux of a universal imperative of universal validity. It therefore quite consistently turns its attention not only to the men but also to the officers.  Anarchist anti-militarist propaganda therefore resembles, and in a way which brings it no credit, the pathetic declamations of Tolstoyans and the impotent incantations against war of the so-called friends of world peace like Bertha von Suttner.
Social-Democratic anti-militarism, on the other hand, is based on the class struggle, and is therefore directed in principle exclusively to those classes which are necessarily enemies of militarism in that struggle – though of course it is happy to see the bourgeois splinters which fall in its direction in the course of disintegration. It educates in order to persuade, but the subject which it teaches is not that of categorical imperatives, of humanitarian positions, of ethical postulates of freedom and justice, but that of the class struggle and of the interests of the proletariat in this struggle, of the role of militarism in the class struggle and the role which the proletariat plays and must play in the same struggle. It deduces the task of the proletariat in the struggle against militarism from the interests of the proletariat in the class struggle. Of course, it also uses, to a degree which must satisfy anyone, arguments of a moral kind – the whole pathos of the categorical imperative and of the basic rights of man, the beautiful but never practised principles preached by the bourgeoisie since the time of its dawn, and even religious and especially Christian ideas and conceptions. But all these play a subsidiary role. They serve to facilitate the process of opening the eyes of unenlightened workers, so that the daylight of class consciousness can penetrate their minds. They also serve to raise enthusiasm for action.
The anarchist method of applying anti-militarism, of giving effect to anti-militarist sentiments, is again of a more individualistic and fantastic character. It lays great stress on individual refusal to serve in the army, individual refusal to resort to arms and individual protest. Anarchist literature triumphantly reports all such cases with care and exactitude. It has of course two aims in view: furthering the above-mentioned action against militarism and carrying out a kind of propaganda by deed on behalf of the anti-militarist movement. It starts out from the supposition that heroic examples of this kind are admired and imitated, producing support and enthusiasm for the movement which these “heroes” endorse.
Things are different with Social-Democratic militarism. It knows of course that individual acts can and will be signals for and symptoms of mass movements, but signals and symptoms only. And even signals they can only be when tension has reached its highest critical point, when the only thing necessary is to light the fuse leading to the powder barrel. To bring about a gradual organic disintegration and demoralization of the military spirit – that is the goal with which Social-Democracy fights militarism. Everything else serves this end, or plays a subsidiary role. In any case there is even in the anarchist movement a growing tendency critical of individual action, as is shown by the International Anti-militarist Association.
As far as the military strike is concerned, anarchist tactics are quite fantastic. They expect – given good will and a great deal of energy – to conjure it out of the sky, whereas Social-Democracy considers such a strike, like any other mobilization of the troops on the side of the revolution, as simply a logically and psychologically necessary consequence of the disintegration of the “militarist spirit”. This disintegration can only come about parallel to and in consequence of class factors and of education.
Very characteristic of anarchist anti-militarism is the little pamphlet by Domela Nieuwenhuis entitled Le militarisme.  For him it is not the crowned kings who are lords of the land, but the bankers, financiers and capitalists (not capitalism as an organically necessary social system). For him wars depend on the decisions of these bankers. For him reaction is the party in authority, which extends “from the Pope to Karl Marx”. Without examining the class position of the soldiers he simply accepts the opinion of Frederick (prompted by a bad conscience): “When my soldiers begin to think, not one of them will remain in the army”. He borrows methods of anti-militarist propaganda suggested by Laveleye in his book Des causes actuelles de guerre en Europe et de l’arbitrage:
- The removal of all restrictions on international traffic;
- Cheaper freight, postal and telegraph charges;
- Introduction of a uniform international system of coinage, weights and measures, and of uniform international legislation;
- The establishment of equal tights for foreigners as compared with native inhabitants
- Promotion of the knowledge of foreign languages and especially of foreign cultures
- Creation of an extensive literature of writings and works of art which cultivate a love of peace and hatred of war and all its accomplices;
- Promotion of everything which gives strength and effectiveness to the representative system and can help deprive the executive authority of the right to decide questions of war and peace;
- Support of all those industrial undertakings which apply the surplus wealth of the country to increasing the prosperity of other lands, so that capital takes on a cosmopolitan character and links the interests of international capitalists;
- (This is the point to which Nieuwenhuis objects) – Work by the clergy to fill the minds of the faithful with a horror of war, after the Quaker fashion;
- Promotion of the international interests of the workers;
- The abolition of kings, presidents, upper chambers and parliaments as social institutions inimical to peace;
- Abolition of embassies;
- The reform of history teaching, its transformation into the history of civilizations;
- The abolition of standing armies;
- An arbitration system to settle international disputes;
- A federal United States of Europe, after the fashion of the United States of America;
- The military strike in case of war, together with the general strike;
- Passive resistance and individual refusal to serve in the army;
- Promotion of general development and of the conditions which make for the well-being of all mankind.