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Marx in Neue Rheinische Zeitung February 1849

The Neue Rheinische Zeitung

Democratic Pan-Slavism [314]

by Frederick Engels

Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 222
Translated by the Marx-Engels Institute
Transcribed for the Internet by director@marx.org, 1994

Cologne, February 14, 1849 - We have often enough pointed out that the romantic dreams which came into being after the revolutions of February and March, such as ardent fantasies about the universal fraternal union of people, a European federative republic, and eternal world peace, were basically nothing but screens hiding the immeasurable perplexity and inactivity of the leading spokesmen of that time. People did not see, or did not want to see, what had to be done to safeguard the revolution; they were unable or unwilling to carry out any really revolutionary measures; the narrow-mindedness of some and the counter-revolutionary intrigues of others resulted in the people getting only sentimental phrases instead of revolutionary deeds. The scoundrel Lamartine with his high-flown declarations was the classical hero of this epoch of betrayal of the people disguised by poetic floridity and rhetorical tinsel.

The peoples who have been through the revolution know how dearly they have had to pay because in their simplicity at the time they believed the loud talk and bombastic assurances. Instead of safeguards for the revolution - everywhere reactionary Chambers which undermined the revolution; instead of fulfillment of the promises given at the barricades - counter-revolution in Naples, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, the fall of Milan, and the war against Hungary; instead of the fraternal union of peoples - renewal of the Holy Alliance on the broadest basis under the patronage of England and Russia. And the very same persons who in April and May responded jubilantly to the high-flown phrases of the epoch, now only blush with shame at the thought of how at that time they allowed themselves to be deceived by idiots and rogues.

People have learned by bitter experience that the "European fraternal union of peoples" cannot be achieved by mere phrases and pious wishes, but only by profound revolutions and bloody struggles; they have learned that the question is not that of a fraternal union of all European peoples under a single republican flag, but of an alliance of the revolutionary peoples against the counter-revolutionary peoples, an alliance which comes into being not on paper, but only on the battlefield.

Throughout Western Europe these bitter but necessary experiences have completely discredited Lamartine's phrase-mongering. In the east, on the other hand, there are still sections, ostensibly democratic, revolutionary sections, which are not tired of echoing these phrases and sentimental ideas and preaching the gospel of the European fraternal union of peoples. 

These actions - we leave out of account some ignorant German-speaking dreamers such as Herr A. Ruge, etc. - are the democratic pan-Slavists of the various Slav peoples.

The programme of democratic pan-Slavism lies before us in the shape of a pamphlet: Aufruf an die Slaven. Von einem russischen Patrioten, Michael Bakunin, Mitgleid des Slavencongresses in Prag. Koethen, 1848.

Bakunin is our friend. That will not deter us from criticizing his pamphlet.

Hear how Bakunin at the very beginning of his Appeal adheres to the illusions of last March and April:

"The very first sign of life of the revolution was a cry of hate against the old [policy of] oppression, a cry of sympathy and love for all oppressed nationalities. The peoples... felt at last the disgrace with which the old diplomacy had burdened mankind, and they realized that the well-being of the nations will never be ensured as long as there is a single nation anywhere in Europe living under oppression.... Away with the oppressors! was the unanimous cry; all hail to the oppressed, the Poles, the Italians and all of the others! No more wars of conquest, but only the one last war fought out to the end, the good fight of the revolution for the final liberation of all peoples! Down with the artificial barriers which have been forcibly erected by congresses of despots [meaning Vienna Congresses of 1814-15] in accordance with so-called historical, geographical, commercial and strategical necessities! There should be no other frontiers than those natural boundaries drawn in accordance with justice and democracy and established by the sovereign will of the peoples themselves on the basis of their national characteristics. Such is the call issued by all the people." pp. 6, 7.

In this passage we already find reproduced all the rapturous enthusiasm of the first months after the revolution. There is not a word about the actually existing obstacles to such a universal liberation, or about the very diverse political needs of the individual peoples. The word "freedom" replaces all that. There is not one word about the actual state of things, or, insofar as it does receive attention, it is described as absolutely reprehensible, arbitrarily established by "congresses of despots" and "diplomats". To this bad reality is counterposed the alleged will of the people with its categorical imperative, with the absolute demand simply for "freedom".

We have seen who proved to be the stronger. The alleged will of the people was so disgracefully deceived precisely because it trusted in such fantastic abstraction from the conditions actually prevailing.

"By its plenipotentiary power the revolution declared the despotic states dissolved; dissolved the Prussian state... Austria... the Turkish Empire... and, finally, the last hope of the despots... the Russian Empire... and as the final goal of all - the universal federation of the European republics." p. 8. 

As a matter of fact, here in the West it must strike us as peculiar that after all of these beautiful plans have come to grief at the first attempt to fulfill them they can still be regarded as something meritorious and great. Certainly, the unfortunate thing was precisely that although the revolution "by its own plenipotentiary power the revolution declared the despotic states dissolved", at the same time "by its own plenipotentiary power" it did not lift a finger to carry out its decree.

At that same time the Slav Congress was convened. The Slav Congress adopted completely the standpoint of these illusions. Listen to this:

"With a lively sense of the common ties of history (?) and blood, we swore not to allow our fates to separate us again from one another. Pronouncing a curse on the policy of which we have so long been the victims, we ourselves asserted our right to complete independence and vowed that henceforth this should be common to all the Slave peoples. We recognized the independence of Bohemia and Moravia... we held out our fraternal hand to the German people, to democratic Germany. In the name of those of us who live in Hungary, we offered the Magyars, the furious enemies of our race... a fraternal alliance. Nor did we forget in our alliance for liberation those of our brothers who groan under the Turkish yoke. We solemnly condemned the treacherous policy which three times cut Poland into pieces.... All that we proclaimed, and together with the democrats of all peoples (?) we demanded freedom, equality and the brotherhood of all nations." p. 10. 

Democratic pan-Slavism still puts forward these demands:

"At that time we felt confident of our cause... justice and humanity were wholly on our side, and nothing but illegality and barbarity on the side of our enemies. The ideas to which we devoted ourselves were no empty figments of a dream, they were the ideas of the sole true and necessary policy, the policy of revolution." 

"Justice", "humanity", "freedom", "equality", "fraternity", "independence" - so far we have found nothing in the pan-Slavist manifesto but these more or less ethical categories, which sound very fine, it is true, but prove absolutely nothing in historical and political questions. "Justice", "humanity", "freedom", etc., may demand this or that a thousand times over; but if the thing is impossible it does not take place and in spite of everything remains an "empty figment of a dream". The pan-Slavists' illusions ought to have understood that all pious wishes and beautiful dreams are of no avail against the iron reality, and that their policy at any time was no more the "policy of revolution" than was that of the French Republic. Nevertheless, today, in January 1849, they still come to us with the same old phrases, in the content of which Western Europe has been disillusioned by the bloodiest counter-revolution!

Just a word about "universal fraternal union of peoples" and the drawing of "boundaries established by the sovereign will of the peoples themselves on the basis of their national characteristics". The United States and Mexico are two republics, in both of which the people is sovereign.

How did it happen that over Texas a war broke out between these two republics, which, according to the moral theory, ought to have been "fraternally united" and "federated", and that, owing to "geographical, commercial and strategical necessities", the "sovereign will" of the American people, supported by the bravery of the American volunteers, shifted the boundaries drawn by nature some hundreds of miles further south? And will Bakunin accuse the Americans of a "war of conquest", which, although it deals with a severe blow to his theory based on "justice and humanity", was nevertheless waged wholly and solely in the interest of civilization? Or is it perhaps unfortunate that splendid California has been taken away from the lazy Mexicans, who could not do anything with it? That the energetic Yankees by rapid exploitation of the California gold mines will increase the means of circulation, in a few years will concentrate a dense population and extensive trade at the most suitable places on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, create large cities, open up communications by steamship, construct a railway from New York to San Francisco, for the first time really open the Pacific Ocean to civilization, and for the third time in history give the world trade a new direction? The "independence" of a few Spanish Californians and Texans may suffer because of it, in someplaces "justice" and other moral principles may be violated; but what does that matter to such facts of world-historic significance?

We would point out, incidentally, that this theory of universal fraternal union of peoples, which calls indiscriminately for fraternal union regardless of the historical situation and the stage of social development of the individual peoples, was combated by the editors of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung already long before the revolution, and in fact in opposition to their best friends, the English and French democrats. Proof of this is to be found in the English, French and Belgian democratic newspapers of that period.

As far as pan-Slavism in particular is concerned, in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No.194 we showed that, part from the well-meaning self-deceptions of the democratic pan-Slavists, it has in reality no other aim than to give the Austrian Slavs, who are split up and historically, literally, politically, commercially and industrially dependent on the Germans and Magyars, a basis of support, in Russia on the one hand, and on the other hand in the Austrian united monarchy, which is dominated by the Slav majority and dependent on Russia. We have shown how such little nations. which for centuries have been taken in tow by history against their will, must necessarily be counter-revolutionary, and that their whole position in the revolution in 1848 was actually counter-revolutionary. In view of the democratic pan-Slavist manifesto, which demands the independence of all Slavs without distinction, we must return to this matter.

Let us note first of all that there is much excuse for the political romanticism and sentimentality of the democrats at the Slav Congress. With the exception of the Poles - the Poles are not pan-Slavists for very obvious reasons - they all belong to peoples which are either, like the Southern Slavs, necessarily counter-revolutionary owning to the whole of their historical position, or, like the Russians, are still a long way from revolution and therefore, at least for the time being, are still counter-revolutionary. These sections, democratic owing to their education acquired abroad, seek to bring their democratic views into harmony with their national feeling, which is known to be very pronounced among the Slavs; and since the real world, the actual state of things in their country, affords no basis, or only a fictitious basis for such reconciliation, there remains for them nothing but the other-worldly "airy kingdom of dreams" [quoting Heinrich Heine] the realm of pious wishes, the policy of fantasy. How splendid it would be if the Croats, Pandours and Cossacks formed the vanguard of European democracy, if the ambassador of a republic of Siberia were to present his credentials in Paris! Certainly, such prospects would be very delightful; but, after all, even the most enthusiastic pan-Slavist will not demand that European democracy should wait for their realization - and at present it is precisely those nations from whom the manifesto specially demands independence that are the special enemies of democracy.

We repeat: apart from the Poles, the Russians, and at most the Turkish Slavs, no Slav people has a future, for the simple reason that all the other Slavs lack the primary historical, geographical, political and industrial conditions for independence and viability.

Peoples which have never had a history of their own, which from the time when they achieved the first, most elementary stage of civilization already came under foreign sway, or which were forced to attain the first stage of civilization only by means of a foreign yoke, are not viable and will never be able to achieve any kind of independence.

And that has been the fate of the Austrian Slavs. The Czechs, among whom we would include the Moravians and Slovaks, although they differ in respect of language and history, have never had a history of their own. Bohemia has been chained to Germany since the time of Charles the Great. The Czech nation freed itself momentarily and formed the Great-Moravian state, only immediately to come under subjugation again and for 500 years to be a bill thrown from one to another by Germany, Hungary and Poland. Following that, Bohemia and Moravia passed definitely to Germany and the Slovak regions remained with Hungary. And this historically absolutely non-existent "nation" puts forward claims to independence?

The same thing holds for the Southern Slavs proper. Where is the history of the Illyrian Solvenes, the Dalmatians, Croats and Shokazians? Since the 11th century they have lost the last semblance of political independence and have been partly under German, partly under Venetian, and partly under Magyar rule. And it is desired to put together a vigorous, independent, viable nation out of these tattered remnants?

More than that. If the Austrian Slavs were a compact mass like the Poles, the Magyars and the Italians, if they were in a position to come together to form a state of 12-20 million people, then their claims would surely be more serious. But the position is just the opposite. The Germans and Magyars have pushed themselves in between them like a broad wedge to the farthest extremities of the Carpathians, almost to the Black Sea, and have separated the Czechs, Moravians and Slovaks from the Southern Slavs by a broad band 60-80 miles [German mile equals 4.7 English miles] wide. To the north of this band are 5.5 million Slavs, to the south 5.5 million Slavs, separated by a compact mass of 10-11 million Germans and Magyars, made allies by history and necessity.

But why should not the 5.5 million Czechs, Moravians and Slovaks form one state, and the 5.5 million Southern Slavs together with the Turkish Slavs form another state?

Take a look at any good linguistic map of the distribution of the Czechs and their neighbors akin to them in language. They have thrust themselves into Germany like a wedge but on both sides they have been eaten into and pressed back by the German element. One-third of Bohemia speaks German; for every 34 Czechs in Bohemia there are 17 Germans. Yet it is precisely the Czechs in Bohemia who are supposed to form the core of the intended Slav state; for the Moravians, too, are considerably interspersed with Germans, and the Slovaks with Germans and Magyars end furthermore completely demoralized in a national respect. And what a Slav state that would be, in which in the final analysis the German urban bourgeoisie would hold sway!

The same thing applies to the Southern Slavs. The Slovenes and Croats cut of Germany and Hungary from the Adriatic Sea; but Germany and Hungary cannot allow themselves to be cut off from the Adriatic Sea on account of "geographical and commercial necessities", which, it is true, are no obstacle to Bakunin's fantasy, but which nevertheless do exist and are just as much a vital question for Germany and Hungary as, for example, the Baltic Sea coast from Danzig to Riga is for Poland. And where it is a question of the existence, of the free development of all the resources of big nations, such sentimental considerations as concern for a few scattered Germans of Slavs will not decide anything! This apart from the fact that these Southern Slavs are likewise everywhere mingled with German, Magyar, and Italian elements, there here too a mere glance at a linguistic map shows the planned South-Slav state would be delivered into the hands of the Italian bourgeoisie of Trieste, Fiumeand Zara, and the German bourgeoisie of Agram, Laibach, Karlstadt, Semlin, Pancsova, and Weisskirchen!

But could not the Austrian Southern Slavs unite with the Serbs, Bosnians, Morlaks, and Bulgarians? Certainly they could if, besides the difficulties mentioned above, there did not exist also the age-old hatred of the Austrian frontier dwellers for the Turkish Slavs on the other side of the Sava and Unna; but these people, who for centuries have considered one another as rascals and bandits, despite all their racial kinship hate one another infinitely more than do the Slavs and Magyars.

In point of fact, the position of the Germans and Magyars would be extremely pleasant if the Austrian Slavs were assisted to get their so-called rights! An independent Bohemian-Moravian state would be wedged between Silesia and Austria; Austria and Styria would be cut off by the "South-Slav republic" from their natural debouche [outlet] - the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean; and the eastern part of Germany would be torn to pieces like a loaf of bread that has been gnawed by rats! And all that by way of thanks for the Germans having given themselves the trouble of civilizing the stubborn Czechs and Slovenes, and introducing among them trade, industry, a tolerable degree of agriculture, and culture!

But it is precisely this yoke imposed on the Slavs under the pretext of civilization that is said to constitute one of the greatest crimes of the Germans and Magyars! Just listen to this:

"Rightly do you rage, rightly do you breathe vengeance against the damnable German policy, which has thought of nothing but your ruin, which has enslaved you for centuries...." p.5

"... The Magyars, the bitter enemies of our race, who number hardly four millions, have presumed to seek to impose their yoke on eight million Slavs...." p.9

"I know all that the Magyars have done to our Slav brothers, what crimes they have committed against our nationality, and how they have trampled underfoot our language and independence." p.30 

What then are the great, dreadful crimes committed by the Germans and Magyars against the Slav nationality? We are not speaking here of the partition of Poland, which is not at issue here, we are speaking of the "centuries of injustice" supposed to have been inflicted on the Slavs.

In the north, the Germans have reconquered from the Slavs the formerly German and subsequently Slav region from the Elbe to the Warthe; a conquest which as determined by the "geographical and strategical necessities" resulting from the partition of the Carolingian kingdom. These Slavs areas have been fully Germanized; the thing has been done and cannot be undone, unless the pan-Slavists were to resurrect the lost Sorbian, Wendish, and Obodritian languages and impose them on the inhabitants of Leipzig, Berlin and Stettin. But up to now it has never been disputed that this conquest was to the advantage of civilization.

In the south, the Germans found the Slav races already split up. That had been seen to by the non-Slav Avars, who occupied the region later inhabited by the Magyars. The Germans exacted tribute from these Slavs and waged many wars against them. They fought also against the Avars and Magyars, from whom they took the whole territory from the Ems to the Leitha. Whereas they carried out Germanization here by force, the Germanization of the Slav territories proceeded much more on a peaceful basis, by immigration and by the influence of the more developed nation on the undeveloped. German industry, German trade, and German culture by themselves served to introduce the German language into the country. As far as "oppression" is concerned, the Slavs were not more oppressed by the Germans than the mass of the German population itself.

As regards the Magyars, there are certainly also a large number of Germans in Hungary, but the Magyars, although numbering "hardly four millions", have never had the occasion to complain of the "damnable German policy"! And if during eight centuries the "eight million Slavs" have had to suffer the yoke imposed on them by the four million Magyars, that alone sufficiently proves which was the more viable and vigorous, the many Slavs or the few Magyars!

But, of course, the greatest "crime" of the Germans and Magyars is that they prevented these 12 million Slavs from becoming Turkish! What would have become of these scattered small nationalities, which have played such a pitiful role in history, if the Magyars and Germans had not kept them together and led them against the armies of Mohammed and Suleiman, and if their so-called oppressors had not decided the outcome of the battles which were fought for the defense of these weak nationalities! The fate of the "12 million Slavs, Wallachians, and Greeks" who have been "trampled underfoot by 700,000 Osmans" (p.8), right up to the present day, does not that speak eloquently enough?

And finally, what a "crime" it is, what a "damnable policy" that at a time when, in Europe in general, big monarchies had become a "historical necessity", the Germans and Magyars untied all these small, stunted and impotent little nations into a single big state and thereby enabled them to take part in a historical development from which, left to themselves, they would have remained completely aloof! Of course, matters of this kind cannot be accomplished without many a tender national blossom being forcibly broken. But in history nothing is achieved without violence and implacable ruthlessness, and if Alexander, Caesar, and Napoleon had been capable of being moved by the same sort of appeal as that which pan-Slavism now makes on behalf of its ruined clients, what would have become of history! And are the Persians, Celts, and Christian Germans of less value than the Czechs, Ogulians, and Serezhans?

Now, however, as a result of the powerful progress of industry, trade and communications, political centralization has become a much more urgent need than it was then, in the 15th and 16th centuries. What still has to be centralized is being centralized. And now the pan-Slavists come forward and demand that we should "set free" these half-Germanized Slavs, and that we should abolish a centralization which is being forced on these Slavs by all their material interests!

In short, it turns out these "crimes" of the Germans and Magyars against the said Slavs are among the best and most praiseworthy deeds which our and the Magyar people can boast in their history.

Moreover, as far as the Magyars are concerned, it should be specially pointed out here that, particularly since the revolution, they have acted too much submissively and weakly against the puffed-up Croats. It is notorious that Kossuth made all possible concessions to them, excepting only that their deputies were not allowed to speak the Croatian in the Diet. And thus submissiveness to a nation that is counter-revolutionary by nature is the only thing with which the Magyars can be reproached.


Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 362;
Written: by Engels on February 14-15, 1849;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung Nos. 222 and 223, February 15 and 16, 1849.


Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 223, February 16, 1849

Cologne, February 15. We concluded yesterday with the proof that the Austrian Slavs have never had a history of their own, that from the historical, literary, political, commercial and industrial points of view they are dependent on the Germans and Magyars, that they are already partly Germanised, Magyarised and Italianised, that if they were to establish independent states, not they, but the German and Italian bourgeoisie of their towns would rule these states, and finally, that neither Hungary nor Germany can tolerate the detachment and independent constitution of such unviable, small intercalated states.

All that, however, would still not be decisive. If at any epoch while they were oppressed the Slavs had begun a new revolutionary history, that by itself would have proved their viability. From that moment the revolution would have had an interest in their liberation, and the special interest of the Germans and Magyars would have given way to the greater interest of the European revolution.

Precisely that, however, never happened. The Slavs — once again we remind our readers that here we always exclude the Poles — were always the main instruments of the counter-revolutionaries. Oppressed at home, outside their country, wherever Slav influence extended to, they were the oppressors of all revolutionary nations.

Let no one object that we speak here on behalf of German national prejudices. In German, French, Belgian and English periodicals, the proofs are to be found that it was precisely the editors of Neue Rheinische Zeitung who already long before the revolution most decisively opposed all manifestations of German national narrowmindedness.[325] Unlike many other people, they did not castigate the Germans at random or on the basis of mere hearsay; on the contrary, they proved from history and mercilessly exposed the despicable role that Germany has certainly played in history, thanks to its nobles and burghers and thanks to its crippled industrial development; they have always recognised the superiority of the great historical nations of the west, the English and the French, compared with the backward Germans. But precisely for that reason we should be permitted not to share the fantastic illusions of the Slavs and allowed to judge other peoples as severely as we have judged our own nation.

Up to now it has always been said that the Germans have been the Lanzknechte [spear-bearers] of despotism throughout Europe. We are far from denying the shameful part played by the Germans in the shameful wars against the French revolution from 1792 to 1815, and in the oppression of Italy since 1815 and of Poland since 1772; but who stood behind the Germans, who used them as their mercenaries or their vanguard? England and Russia. After all, up to the present day the Russians boast of having brought about the fall of Napoleon through their innumerable armies, which is at any rate largely correct. This much, at least, is certain, that of the armies which by their superior power drove back Napoleon from the Oder as far as Paris, three-quarters consisted of Slavs, Russians or Austrian Slavs.

And then, too, the Germans’ oppression of the Italians and Poles! A wholly Slav power and a semi-Slav power competed in the partition of Poland; the armies which crushed Kosciuszko consisted for the most part of Slavs, the armies of Dibich and Paskevich were exclusively Slav armies. And in Italy for many years the Tedeschi [Germans] alone had the ignominy of being regarded as oppressors. But, once again, what was the composition of the armies which best let themselves be used for oppression and for whose savage acts the Germans were blamed? Once again, they consisted of Slavs. Go to Italy and ask who suppressed the Milan revolution; people will no longer say: the Tedeschi — since the Tedeschi made a revolution in Vienna they are no longer hated — but: the Croati. That is the word which the Italians now apply to the whole Austrian army, i.e. to all that is most deeply hated by them: i Croati!

Nevertheless, these reproaches would be superfluous and unjustified if the Slavs had anywhere seriously participated in the movement of 1848, if they had hastened to join the ranks of the revolutionary peoples. A single courageous attempt at a democratic revolution, even if it were crushed, extinguishes in the memory of the peoples whole centuries of infamy and cowardice, and at once rehabilitates a nation, however deeply it had been despised. That was the experience of the Germans last year. But whereas the French, Germans, Italians, Poles and Magyars raised high the banner of the revolution, the Slavs one and all put themselves under the banner of the counter-revolution. In the forefront were the Southern Slavs, who had already for many years upheld their counter-revolutionary separatist aims against the Magyars; then came the Czechs, and behind them — the Russians, armed for battle and ready to appear on the battlefield at the decisive moment.

It is well known that in Italy the Magyar hussars went over to the Italians en masse, that in Hungary whole Italian battalions put themselves at the disposal of the Magyar revolutionary Government and are still fighting under the Magyar flag; it is well known that in Vienna the German regiments sided with the people and even in Galicia were by no means reliable; it is well known that masses of Austrian and non-Austrian Poles fought against the Austrian armies in Italy, in Vienna and in Hungary, and are still fighting in the Carpathians; but where has. anyone ever heard of Czech or South-Slav troops revolting against the black-and-yellow flag?

On the contrary, up to now it is known only that Austria, which was shaken to its foundations, has been kept alive and for the time being is once again in safety owing to the enthusiasm of the Slavs for the black-and-yellow flag; that it was precisely the Croats, Slovenes, Dalmatians, Czechs, Moravians and Ruthenians who put their contingents at the disposal of Windischgrätz and Jellachich for suppressing the revolution in Vienna, Cracow, Lemberg and Hungary; and what furthermore we have now learned from Bakunin is that the Prague Slav Congress was dispersed not by Germans, but by Galician, Czech and Slovak Slavs and “nothing but Slavs"! P.33.

The revolution of 1848 compelled all European peoples to declare themselves for or against it. In the course of a month all the peoples ripe for revolution had made their revolution, and all those which were not ripe had allied themselves against the revolution. At that time it was a matter of disentangling the confused tangle of peoples of Eastern Europe. The question was which nation would seize the revolutionary initiative here, and which nation would develop the greatest revolutionary energy and thereby safeguard its future. The Slavs remained silent, the Germans and Magyars, faithful to their previous historical position, took the lead. As a result, the Slavs were thrown completely into the arms of the counter-revolution.

But what about the Slav Congress in Prague?

We repeat: the so-called democrats among the Austrian Slavs are either scoundrels or fantasts, and the latter, who do not find any fertile soil among their people for the ideas imported from abroad, have been continually led by the nose by the scoundrels. At the Prague Slav Congress the fantasts had the upper hand. When the fantasy seemed dangerous to the aristocratic pan-Slavists, Count Thun, Palacký & Co., they betrayed the fantasts to Windischgrätz and the black-and-yellow counter-revolution. What bitter, striking irony is contained in the fact that this Congress of dreamers, defended by the dreamy Prague youth, was dispersed by soldiers of their own nation, and that, as it were, a military Slav Congress was set up in opposition to the day-dreaming Slav Congress! The Austrian army which captured Prague, Vienna, Lemberg, Cracow, Milan and Budapest — that is the real, active Slav Congress!

How unfounded and vague was the fantasy at the Slav Congress is proved by its results. The bombardment of a town like Prague would have filled any other nation with inextinguishable hatred of its oppressors. But what did the Czechs do? They kissed the rod which had bloodily chastised them, they eagerly swore obedience to the flag under which their brothers had been slaughtered and their wives ravished. The street-fighting in Prague was the turning-point for the Austrian democratic pan-Slavists. [326] In return for the prospect of obtaining their pitiful “national independence”, they bartered away democracy and the revolution to the Austrian united monarchy, to the “centre”, “the systematic enforcement of despotism in the heart of Europe”, as Bakunin himself says on p. 29. And for this cowardly, base betrayal of the revolution we shall at some time take a bloody revenge against the Slavs.

It has at last become clear to these traitors that they have nevertheless been cheated by the counter-revolution and that for the Austrian Slavs there can be no thought of either a “Slav Austria” or a “federative state of nations with equal rights”, and least of all of democratic institutions. Jellachich, who is no bigger a scoundrel than most of the other democrats among the Austrian Slavs, bitterly regrets the way in which he has been exploited, and Stratimirovich, in order not to allow himself to be exploited any longer, has proclaimed an open revolt against Austria. The Slovanská-Lipa associations [327] once more everywhere oppose the Government and every day gain fresh painful experience of the trap into which they let themselves be enticed. But it is now too late; powerless in their own homeland against the Austrian soldiery, which they themselves re-organised, rejected by the Germans and Magyars whom they have betrayed, rejected by revolutionary Europe, they will have to suffer the same military despotism which they helped to impose on the Viennese and Magyars. “Submit to the Emperor so that the imperial troops do not treat you as if you were rebellious Magyars” — these words of the Patriarch Rajachich express what they have to expect in the immediate future.

How very differently have the Poles behaved! For the last eighty years oppressed, enslaved, plundered, they have always been on the side of the revolution and proclaimed that the revolutionisation of Poland is inseparable from the independence of Poland. In Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Italy, Hungary, the Poles shared the fighting in all the revolutions and revolutionary wars, regardless whether they were fighting against Germans, against Slavs, against Magyars, or even against Poles. The Poles are the only Slav nation that is free from all pan-Slavist aspirations. They have, however, very good reasons for that: they have been oppressed mainly by their own so-called Slav brothers, and among the Poles hatred of Russians takes precedence over hatred of Germans, and with full justification. But because the liberation of Poland is inseparable from the revolution, because Pole and revolutionary have become synonymous, for Poles the sympathy of all Europe and the restoration of their nation are as certain as are for the Czechs, Croats and Russians the hatred of all Europeans and a most bloody revolutionary war of the entire west against them.

The Austrian pan-Slavists ought to understand that all their desire insofar as they can be fulfilled, have been realised in the restoration of the “Austrian united monarchy” under Russian protection. If Austria collapses, what is in store for them is the revolutionary terrorism of the Germans and Magyars, but by no means, as they imagine, the liberation of all the nations enslaved under the sceptre of Austria. They must therefore wish that Austria continues to hold together, and indeed that Galicia remains with Austria, so that the Slavs retain a majority in the state. Here, therefore, pan-Slavist interests are already directly opposed to the restoration of Poland, for a Poland without Galicia, a Poland that does not extend from the Baltic to the Carpathians, is no Poland. But equally for that reason a “Slav Austria” is still a mere dream; for without the supremacy of the Germans and Magyars, without the two centres of Vienna and Budapest, Austria will once again fall apart, as its whole history up to recent months has proved. Accordingly, the realisation of pan-Slavism would have to be restricted to Russian patronage over Austria. The openly reactionary pan-Slavists were therefore quite right in holding fast to the preservation of the united monarchy; it was the only means of saving anything. The so-called democratic pan-Slavists, however, were in an acute dilemma: either renunciation of the revolution and at least a partial salvation of nationality through the united monarchy, or abandonment of nationality and salvation of the revolution by the collapse of the united monarchy. At that time the fate of the revolution in Eastern Europe depended on the position of the Czechs and Southern Slavs; we shall not forget that at the decisive moment they betrayed the revolution to Petersburg and Olmütz for the sake of their petty national hopes.

What would be said if the democratic party in Germany commenced its programme with the demand for the return of Alsace, Lorraine, and Belgium, which in every respect belongs to France, on the pretext that the majority there is Germanic? How ridiculous the German democrats would make themselves if they wanted to found a pan-Germanic German-Danish-Swedish-English-Dutch alliance for the “liberation” of all German-speaking countries! German democracy, fortunately, is above such fantasies. German students in 1817 and 1830 were peddling that kind of reactionary fantasies and today throughout Germany are being given their deserts. The German revolution only came into being, and the German nation only began to become something, when people had freed themselves completely from these futilities.

But pan-Slavism, too, is just as childish and reactionary as pan-Germanism. When one reads the history of the pan-Slavist movement of last spring in Prague, one could imagine oneself back in the period of thirty years ago: tricolour sashes, ancient costumes, ancient Slav Masses, complete restoration of the time and customs of the primeval forests; the Svornost — a complete replica of the German Burschenschaft, the Slav Congress — a new edition of the Wartburg Festival,[328] the same phrases, the same fantasies, the same subsequent lamentation: “We had built a stately house”, etc. Anyone who would like to read this famous song translated into Slav prose has only to read Bakunin’s pamphlet.

Just as in the long run the most pronounced counter-revolutionary frame of mind, the most ferocious hatred of Frenchmen, and the most narrow-minded national feeling, were to be found among the members of the German Burschenschaften, and just as later they all became traitors to the cause for which they had pretended to be enthusiastic — in exactly the same way, only more speedily, because 1848 was a year of revolution, the democratic semblance among the democratic pan-Slavists turned into fanatical hatred of Germans and Magyars, into indirect opposition to the restoration of Poland (Lubomirski), and into direct adherence to the counter-revolution.

And if some sincere Slav democrats now call on the Austrian Slavs to join the revolution, to regard the Austrian united monarchy as their chief enemy, and indeed to be on the side of the Magyars in the interests of the revolution, they remind one of a hen which despairingly circles the edge of a pond where the young ducklings which she has hatched out now suddenly escape from her into a totally foreign element into which he cannot follow them.

But let us not harbour any illusions. Among all the pan-Slavists, nationality, i.e. imaginary common Slav nationality, takes precedence over the revolution. The pan-Slavists want to join the revolution on condition that they will be allowed to constitute all Slavs without exception, regardless of material necessities, into independent Slav states. If we Germans had wanted to lay down the same fantastic conditions, we would have got a long way in March! But the revolution does not allow of any conditions being imposed on it. Either one is a revolutionary and accepts the consequences of the revolution, whatever they are, or one is driven into the arms of the counter-revolution and one day finds oneself, perhaps without knowing or desiring it, arm in arm with Nicholas and Windischgrätz.

We and the Magyars should guarantee the Austrian Slavs their independence — that is what Bakunin demands, and people of the calibre of Ruge are capable of having actually made such promises to him in secret. The demand is put to us and the other revolutionary nations of Europe that the hotbeds of counter-revolution at our very door should be guaranteed an unhindered existence and the free right to conspire and take up arms against the revolution; it is demanded that we should establish a counter-revolutionary Czech state in the very heart of Germany, and break the strength of the German, Polish and Magyar revolutions by interposing between them Russian outposts at the Elbe, the Carpathians and the Danube!

We have no intention of doing that. To the sentimental phrases about brotherhood which we are being offered here on behalf of the most counter-revolutionary nations of Europe, we reply that hatred of Russians was and still is the primary revolutionary passion among Germans; that since the revolution hatred of Czechs and Croats has been added, and that only by the most determined use of terror against these Slav peoples can we, jointly with the Poles and Magyars, safeguard the revolution. We know where the enemies of the revolution are concentrated, viz. in Russia and the Slav regions of Austria, and no fine phrases, no allusions to an undefined democratic future for these countries can deter us from treating our enemies as enemies.

And if Bakunin finally exclaims:

“Truly, the Slav should not lose anything, he should win! Truly, he should live! And we shall live. As long as the smallest part of our rights is contested, as long as a single member is cut off from our whole body, so long will we fight to the end, inexorably wage a life-and-death struggle, until the Slavs have their place in the world, great and free and independent —

if revolutionary pan-Slavism means this passage to be taken seriously, and in its concern for the imaginary Slav nationality leaves the revolution entirely out of account, then we too know what we have to do.

Then there will be a struggle, an “inexorable life-and-death struggle”, against those Slavs who betray the revolution; an annihilating fight and ruthless terror — not in the interests of Germany, but in the interests of the revolution!