The State Must be Saved

Part II of Divided About the War. It was a socialist government in Germany that in January of 1919 had to suppress to Spartacist uprising in Berlin. How did that work?

The insurrection of the radicals had to be met with all the force the government could organize. What forces were there, however, that the government could muster? The tragedy of the German revolution lay in the fact that when the democratic elements of the revolution required the necessary force and power to give stability to their rule, they found no such source of military power among their own worker supporters. The pacifist and anti-militarist tradition of the Socialist movement stood in the way of creating a strong republican military force to protect the new regime. After the resignation of the Independent Socialists from the cabinet, the three Majority Socialist ministers published the following plea to their supporters: “If you burden us with responsibility you must do more: You must create power for us! There can be no government without power! Without power we cannot carry out your mandate! … Do you want the German Socialist Republic? … Then help us create a people’s force for the government that will enable it to protect its dignity, its freedom of decision and its activity against assaults and putsches. … A government … that cannot assert itself has also no right to existence.”

The response from the followers of the Majority Socialists and from the democratic bourgeoisie was weak and ineffectual. When military force was needed, the Majority Socialist government had to seek allies among the militarist circles of the old officer caste and the old army. The government decided to entrust [Defense Minister Gustav] Noske with the obligation to restore order. Noske, fully aware of the ominous character of his task, declared: “Someone must become the bloodhound! I cannot evade the responsibility.” He became governor general of Berlin, and established his headquarters in Dahlem, a suburb of Berlin. He secured the cooperation of several old-regime generals … and recruited and drilled several thousand soldiers and officers. On the night of January 10 he marched on the center of the city. The buildings held by the rebels were stormed in several days of bitter fighting. The troops that rallied to the government were full of bitterness and scorn for the rebels and did not bother too often to discriminate between the different political tendencies. Indiscriminate shooting, brutality, and terrorization were practiced upon the prisoners. (p.383-384)

This, progressives and liberals, is what you get when you want and exercise power. This is why there can be no “progressive” state power that does not end up shooting people. (Because state power is all about shooting people.) And since liberals and progressives themselves are unlikely to want to do the shooting (and the torturing), they have to rely on those most willing to do that work — sadists (who don’t care who they work for), militarists and conservative statists. And you wonder why your progressive welfare state doesn’t exist yet? And will never exist? Because it’s wedded to warfare and police power. That power takes its pound of flesh in exchange for its loyalty. And then some.