Author Karl Liebknecht

In Spite of It All

On the day before his murder, Karl Liebknecht wrote “In Spite of All!” for Rote Fahne. It proved to be his last article.

General storm against Spartacus! “Down with the Spartacists!” The shouts resound through the side-streets. “Seize them, shoot them, trample them underfoot, tear them to pieces!” Atrocities which put those of the German troops in Belgium into the shade are committed everywhere.

The shout of jubilation runs from the Morgenpost to the Vorwärts: “Spartacus smashed!” And the disarmament of the revolutionary workers, and the re-established imperial police with rifle, sabre and revolver will seal its defeat.

“Spartacus smashed!” Yes, revolutionary workers of Reinhardt, under the machine guns of General Luettwitz the elections for the Constituent Assembly will take place as a plebiscite for Napoleon-Ebert.

“Spartacus smashed!” Yes, the revolutionary workers of Berlin have been defeated, hundreds of their best have been thrown into prison. Yes, they are defeated, for they were abandoned by the sailors, by the soldiers, by the safety troops, by the people’s guard, whose help they firmly expected. Their strength was wasted by the indecision and weakness of their leaders, and the immense counterrevolutionary backwash of the propertied classes overwhelmed and drowned them. Yes, they were defeated, for history had demanded that they should be. The time was not then ripe. But yet, the struggle itself was inevitable. To surrender the Police Headquarters, the stronghold of the revolution, without resistance to Ernst and Hirsch would have been a shameful defeat. The fight was forced upon the workers by the Ebert gang, and it burst from the Berlin masses violently, brushing aside all doubts and objections… And Ebert, Scheidemann, Noske have won, they have won for the militarists, for the bureaucrats, for the junkers of industry and agriculture, for the parsons, the priests, for the money-bags. And all that was narrow, limited and mean stood with them and fought victoriously with rifle, bomb and bayonet.

Defeated of Today Will Be the Victors of Tomorrow

But there are defeats which are victories and victories which are defeats. The vanquished of the bloody January week have fought gloriously. They have fought for a great cause, for the noblest aims of suffering humanity, for the mental and material salvation of the tortured masses. They have shed only sacred blood, blood made sacred by this fight, and for every drop of this blood, dragon’s seed for the victors of today, avengers of the fallen will arise, new fighters for the cause which is as unforgettable and eternal as the firmament, the defeated of today will be the victors of tomorrow, for this defeat is their instruction. The proletariat still lacks revolutionary tradition, and experiences, and only by tentative actions and youthful errors, by painful defeats and failures, can it gain the practical training which guarantees its future success. For the fundamental forces of the revolution, the unceasing growth of which is the natural law of social development, every defeat spells…swift recovery.

And over defeat and defeat the way leads to victory.

But what of the victors of today? For a criminal cause they carry on their criminal bloody work. For the powers of the past for the deadly enemies of the proletariat.

Already they are defeated, for they are the prisoners of those whom they intended to use as their tools but whose tools they always were. Their name is still the cover but they have only a little longer to live. They stand already in the pillory of history. Never were there such Judases in the world, not only have they betrayed their most sacred trust, but they have crucified it with their own hands. As in August 1914 the official German Social Democracy sank deeper than any other Social Democratic Party, so now at the dawn of the social revolution it presents the most detestable picture.

The defeated of today have already learned, they have recovered from the insanity of relying upon leaders who have proved weak and incapable, they have recovered from a belief in the Independent Social-Democratic Party which has abandoned them faithlessly. They can rely only on themselves, they will fight their own battles in the future, their future victories. And the truth that the liberation of the working class can only be the work of the working class, has received a new and deep significance through the bitter experience of this week. The deceived soldiers also will realize the nature of their tasks when they feel the knout of re-established militarism. They too will wake from their stupor.

Our Program Will Live—In Spite of All!

Spartacus smashed? Not so fast! We have not fled, we are not defeated, and if they fetter us, we are there, and we remain there and victory will be ours.

For Spartacus means fire and spirit, means soul and heart, means will and action of the proletarian revolution; means all the suffering and longing for happiness, all the determination of the class-conscious proletariat to struggle. For Spartacus means socialism and world revolution.

The Golgotha of the working class has not yet ended, but the day of salvation approaches. The day of trial for Ebert, Scheidemann, Noske and for the capitalist rulers who hide behind them. Events rise high to the sky; we are used to being thrown from the heights to the depths—but our ship continues its straight course firmly toward its goal.

Whether we still live when the end is attained, our programme will live. It will rule the world of a saved humanity, in spite of all!

Under the rumblings of the approaching economic collapse, the still sleeping masses of the proletariat will awaken as from the trumpets of the last judgment, and the corpses of the murdered fighters will arise again and demand a reckoning from the curse-laden criminals.

Today, only the underground mutterings of the volcano. Tomorrow it will burst and bury them all in a torrent of glowing ashes and streams of lava.