Bela Kun

The Model Product of Imperialism

First Published: Pravda May 24, 1918
Source: International Socialist Library No. 15, Revolutionary Essays by Bela Kun, B.S.P., London.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


A close alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary has been concluded, and is making its appearance as a new factor in the arena of the world-war.

By this new treaty Austria-Hungary is annexed to Germany in the fullest sense of the word. If any of the nations that constitute the Dual Monarchy has recourse to a revolt or a rising, before it there will instantly rise the perspective of military occupation. The fundamental characteristic of the treaty, however, is not its reduction of Austria-Hungary to the position of a colony, not the economic exploitation of the country, but the guaranteeing to Germany of cannon-fodder in order that she may realise her imperialists aims.

Annexation is veiled in the form of a treaty: but this circumstance means nothing. The organs of the German military party do not attempt to conceal that that fact implies merely a special act of grace on the part of victorious German imperialism. The “Kreuz-Zeitung” points out that considerations of a military and political nature do not permit of the publication of the secret treaty, and announces triumphantly that the treaty of alliance between Germany and Austria is first and foremost the result of the German military successes. And the paper does not conceal the military and aggressive character of the new agreement; it does not hide the fact that its aim is the utilisation of Austro-Hungarian man-power for German military ends.

From the economic point of view, Austria-Hungary is completely exhausted. She can supply neither bread nor raw material. Its German imperialist allies have no longer any belief in its credit. The only article of commerce which Austria can still supply — albeit with difficulty — is cannon fodder.

Nevertheless, this treaty is meeting with no small opposition from all the peoples of Austria, not excluding the German-Austrians. The “Arbeiter Zeitung” protests sharply against this aggressive alliance, this annexation; although the Austrian Government takes pains to emphasise that “the defensive nature of the Dual Alliance remains unchanged.”

In spite of the desperate attempts to prevent the annexation and final reduction of Austria into the status of a colony, a semi-official statement of the Government has to declare, in discharge of “its duty as an ally,” that the spearhead of this agreement is directed not only against Russia, as hitherto, but against “all other Powers.” The semi-official statement of the Austrian Government goes on to point out that the new alliance, as it now stands, assumes the character of a “League of Nations” — under which title is masked a league of the Central European Powers, headed by Germany.

This may possibly pacify the Austrian social-patriots of the type of Karl Renner, but will in no way satisfy the proletarian masses of Austria and Hungary. Annexations will not calm the soldiers, deserting in larger and larger numbers, and, according to trustworthy information, refusing to go to the French front. . . .

If the Austrian semi-official statement twice emphasises the fact that “an unshakeable foundation has been created for the new alliance” — that military power which, in the eyes of the German papers, constitutes the chief value of the alliance — the Austrian monarch will not be able to do without the introduction of German troops into Bohemia and Hungary. Tisza and Seidler intend by means of this alliance to buttress the decaying fabric of the State; but the German imperialists will be able to force the Austro-Hungarian workers to observe the conditions of the treaty only by making use of the methods which were employed in the Ukraine.

The provisions contained in this treaty will be revealed only when the publication of the secret archives is accomplished in Austria-Hungary as in Soviet Russia.

The German, Austrian, and Hungarian revolutionaries must use the existence of the new alliance to increase their struggle against German-Austrian imperialism. The state of mind of the troops shows that that struggle has already begun. If there are still “Social Democrats” who, fearing an Austrian defeat, deliberately stand in the way of the revolution, they will be swept away by the masses of true proletarians.

After this treaty, the Austro-Hungarian proletariat is even more definitely than before at the cross roads of the dilemma: endless war or the revolution?