Feeble Constitution - A Red-and-Green Russia 1917 Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Salvador79, Jan 8, 2019.

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  1. ShortsBelfast Events, dear boy, events

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    By anything I have ever read about the Bavarian Soviet that is putting it kindly and charitably. They were not the only government ever whose foreign affairs minister acted like he was certifiably insane. But they must be the only government ever whose foreign affairs minister actually was certifiably insane (before anyone brings up Castlereagh, he was never certified and his issues actually didn't affect his foreign policy work up until his death).
     
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  2. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Honestly while i think that the radicals will be the winner of the congress, they are a montley crew united only their opposition to the Monarchy, not a good premise if you want to start a revolution expecially if the proletariat is not fully behind you.
    Plus, IMVHO there is a lot of true in not expecting much support from the UoE for Germany regardless of the type of goverment; anybody that will rule in Petrograd will want to secure Russ...ehm UoE interest first and foremost, expecially after this war and with the current political situation
     
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  3. Nuka1 Well-Known Member

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    Are we to vote for option that is most likely, most beneficial for USPD or most fun to read about?
     
  4. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Not necessarily most beneficial. I would Welcome "Most realistic", but I would understand "Most fun to read", too...
     
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  5. Nuka1 Well-Known Member

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    I see. Moderates it is. (Reichskanzler Lenin here we go:openedeyewink:)
     
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  6. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    LOL!
    Suggestion noted.
     
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  7. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Lipp was mentally ill, and the rest of OTL's first Munich Council Republic was a very wild mixture, too. The second one was a KPD one and more "organized". None of these can be equated with Eisner's Provisional Government ITTL, though. (Nor can OTL's Eisner cabinet, which was dominated by the MSPD, be.) Depending on the outcome of the poll, I'll probably dwell on the Bavarian situation (or not, depending on if something interesting happens there or not). ITTL, MSPD and USPD do not cooperate in Bavaria, at least not at this moment. Eisner's political power base is thin, it rests on the workers', soldiers' and peasants' councils, primarily on whatever troops are coming back from Austria and supporting his government.

    I share your view that they are a motley crew. Care to elaborate why you think the radicals would win in the party congress?
     
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  8. aap5454 Well-Known Member

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    I say radicals: the German people and the demobilizing soldiers from the East will lead a revolution sweeping the Kaiser and his running dogs in the SDP from power, and introducing either a proper Soviet "Democracy" or a UoE style Soviet Democracy. Anyone supporting reform within an Imperial system is already a traitor to Social Democracy (purely in character for the TL of course :p)
     
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  9. lukedalton Well-Known Member

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    Various factor.

    1- while a mix of different factions, seem that at least they have in common one thing, to start somekind of revolution and while the picosecond there will be the need to effectively build this revolution it will be a free for all; for the moment they will probably be an united front against the moderate.
    2- The moderate had, at least in the eye of many partecipant, the stygma of the sellout as they have come to term with the monarchy to get concession...while the nation seem crumbling around them
    3- well, as you pointed, there is a lot of suspicious regarding the real desire and will of the enstablishment to go through the reform and/or backstab the moderate the moment they are no more necessary and this will erode support for the moderate in a crucial moment
    4- the war is basically ended and has been lost so rage and other nasty emotions will run wild due to all the useless sacrifice done
     
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  10. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    It's a very close race, currently standing at 50-50. I am preparing drafts for both alternatives, but will leave the poll open until Sunday evening.
    Whichever way this is going, I will have Kurt Eisner's and Richard Lipinski's speeches give it the momentum towards the decision your votes will have determined. Honestly, they could both have held speeches for either option.
     
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  11. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    With 10 to 9, you have decided to let the moderates win. A fairly halfway split is, I think, not far from what the USPD outcome may have been, too. Installment probably due Tuesday, before we take a look at a very different democratic process.
     
  12. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

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    With the imperial monarchy surviving, and all the other Land monarchies surviving, ISTM that the Saxon and Bavarian monarchies will be restored as soon as things quiet down. I don't know much about the federal structure of Imperial Germany. Did the Lander have their own constitutions, like US states? In the US, states are politically autonomous, with Federal intervention only when there is a "civil rights" issue. (Which has become far too common in recent years, but still limited.) There is however a flat guarantee in the Constitution that the Federal government will insure "republican government" in each state.

    A "revolution" in a state would almost certainly provoke federal intervention, even in 1920. In OTL, republican sentiment swept all Germany, starting at the top. ITTL it hasn't, and I don't see how Germany can go on, half monarchical and half republican (more like 75%/25%).

    For one thing, if the "Free States" repudiate the authority of the Empire, that's explicit rebellion. If they accept it, that's giving up the Revolution. Bremen is key, because allegiance to the Empire is the big change there. (Though again, the question of the extent of the constitutional autonomy of each Free City arises. Did they choose their own internal political arrangements?)
     
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  13. 52cardsshortofadeck Well-Known Member

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    Sadly, I missed the poll; in any case I likely would've went for the radical option.
    Better for the Free States to rebel than not exist, really
     
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  14. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    So it might well have ended 10-10... I can absolutely see why, for I wasn't sure at all which path I should let Germany take, which was why I started the poll in the first place.

    Yes, they did. And they all need to be overhauled now, for with or without the USPD, with or without the threat of revolution, the three-, four-, five- or even eight-class suffrage many of them contained cannot be upheld in 1918, neither IOTL nor ITTL. One big question here is Prussia - Willy2 being the erratic person that he was, when he leaped back into action and into his "Volkskaiser" role in TTL's second half of 1918, has octroyed a new constitution with universal instead of census suffrage for Prussia already. How the pro-parliamentary parties are ultimately going to deal with this is just as interesting as the question of how they deal with the unreformed states and how they deal with the revolutionary states. I'll comment on that in the update I'll be posting later today (or, at the latest, tomorrow).

    There was no such clause in the 1871 constitution. There was "imperial execution", which was meant to apply only when Länder did not oblige with their administrative obligations, though - but this could be taken to mean "maintain law and order", so the right-wing parties in TTL's Reichstag (it has not been dissolved in contrast to OTL, which makes a lot of differences, for one thing probably there won't be the near-complete reshuffling of the party landscape of OTL where FKP, DKP, NLP and FVP were replaced by DNVP, DVP and DDP) are certainly clamouring for an imperial execution against Bremen, Saxony and Bavaria. The problem with this is not so much that the SPD-led imperial government would be opposed to it (they are hesitant, yes), but that there are few reliable forces to base such a crackdown on. Any military unit you're ordering to march to Leipzig to shoot revolutionary workers may just as well turn around and shoot you instead, in the given atmosphere. Or it may not. Ebert has not yet felt compelled to take the risk. Now this is how imperial authority erodes even further, of course, and the imperial level (both the government and the Reichstag majority, for we have already heard a little about what Willy2 has done) is hotly debating how to handle this problem. The next update will clarify some of that hopefully.

    Now back to the constitution. There was no "monarchy clause" in the 1871 constitution to correspond with the "republican government" clause in the US constitution, but beside imperial execution, there was also the Bundesrat. In constitutional theory, this would have to be the body where such questions should have been taken to and resolved - but in the Bundesrat, you now have lots of princely governments at the verge of being overthrown plus the revolutionary governments, and I don't see them coming to terms with each other directly, and the whole 1871 constitution has been declared near-obsolete anyway when Willy2 and Ebert have announced elections for a national assembly to draft a new constitution.

    In 1914 Germany, and maybe even in 1917 Germany, this would have been the case, too. Right now, though, the state monopoly of power is in a state of limbo. It can't go on like this for a long time, that's for sure, you're right.

    IOTL, it started in Bavaria, but the rest came very soon, yes. Here, it doesn't. The difference hinges on the behaviour of the MSPD. Had the MSPD decided to go for a revolution, the revolutionary wave would have been as big as IOTL if not bigger (if that is even possible). ITTL, they decided against it. Their OTL decision had a lot to do with fears of Bolshevism, not just among the bourgeoisie, but also deep within the MSPD, where anti-Bolshevik propaganda and eye-witness accounts from their Menshevik comrades mingled to create a deterring political spectre. Better to lead the revolution rather than to suffer the fate of the Russian Mensheviks and be subjected to a Red Terror like the one which haunted Soviet Russia already in the summer of 1918. ITTL, this spectre is non-existent. While bourgeois propaganda is still certain to paint revolutionary Russia in the vilest colours, TTL's VeCheKa crackdowns do not compare to OTL, they have not created an atmosphere of widespread terror and violence, and they do not target other Social Democrats (except perhaps for a few Bolshevik cells if they're joining the anarchists in sabotaging the war machinery), so the MSPD is not exactly very afraid of a "Russian situation", although most of them are culturally and politically hard-wired to prefer smoother reforms over the Russian path. Which is why the MSPD is staying on the establishment's side - but this not only means the "establishment" is more resilient and powerful, but also more heterogeneous. It's not just some small conservative elites whose way of life has deconstructed itself. It still looks like a viable path onwards, or rather: like a dozen of possibly viable paths onwards. All of which imply some sort of reform. But which?

    On the other hand, there is all the anger and frustration, famine, disease and misery, all the demobilising soldiers returning, and the mood among the working classes is certainly not one of great patience. The picture looks slightly different in each city, each little state, each region, but on the whole, the country is really torn between the sentiment of "away with the old warmongers who have brought us this misery!" and that of "but no chaos now, with the Entente and the Polish rebels and who knows who else coming all over us!". OTL's November Revolution with its fast-growing MSPD-orchestration combined both: away with the old, and maintain order fast. This option is not on the table ITTL, making the situation a lot more complicated and confused.

    The extent to which the authority of the empire is explicitly repudiated is certainly debated, particularly in Bavaria, where there were secessionist thoughts IOTL, too. They are stronger ITTL. Saonxy and Bremen, being smaller and in a much more precarious position, probably don't see that option for themselves. Why would Bremen be key, they were a Free City under the 1871 constitution as well? Their situation is very much the same as that of Saxony and Bavaria right now. The differenc between Bremen on the one hand and Saxony and Bavaria on the other hand is that the Bremen rebels are a lot more radical and the USPD does not have a leading role there, while they do in Saxony and Bavaria, whose Free State governments lean a lot more moderate. Bremen's red revolutionaries are discussing things like forced requisitions of the bourgeoisie's alleged food stocks, for example - that's not something Eisner or Lipinski would even contemplate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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  15. Nuka1 Well-Known Member

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    This is my reason for voting moderates. It may not be the most realistic path but I feel that it has potential to be interesting one.
     
  16. Threadmarks: Thirty-Five: USPD congress, part two (November 1918)

    Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    Leipzig (German Empire): Leipziger Volkszeitung, November 4th, 1918, p. 1:

    Reconcilers Prevail – Spartakists leave USPD

    by Hans Block

    The USPD has concluded its party congress with a narrow triumph of the “reconcilers” [1]. Their triumph, complete with the election of a leadership solely composed of Revisionists and Marxist Centrists at the exclusion of the extreme Left, has been paid for dearly by another split in the labour movement, which materialized when over a hundred congress attendants, USPD members who were also organized in the clandestine Spartakusbund, announced to leave the USPD in protest over its “surrender policies”.

    The second day of the congress began with the proposal for a revolutionary action plan, complete with instructions on how to co-operate with other revolutionary groups, how to behave in mixed councils, how to treat members who sabotage revolutionary efforts, as well as for the creation of a committee which gathers all militarily relevant intelligence. The action plan was presented by Heinrich Laufenberg, USPD member and Spartakist from Hamburg, and it was greeted with cheers and chants from the ranks. For a few minutes in the morning, it appeared as if the Independent Social Democrats had dedicated themselves to transforming Germany into a revolutionary Commune.

    But then Kurt Eisner rose and spoke, calm but unwavering. He would not have any of this “secret party police nonsense”, and he would not have his government, nor himself nor his Bavarian comrades be subjected to “hectoring from Berlin”. In the party a simple member, but in Bavaria the Minister-President of the newly founded Free State, Eisner’s words had great pragmatic weight. Especially his informed judgment of the ratio of revolutionary to reactionary military forces in the South could not be ignored, and when he concluded: “Bavaria’s workers and peasants are tired of war. They will not let anyone force them back under the yoke of the military monarchy again, make no mistake. But neither will they will march to Berlin at the behest of a self-proclaimed Committee of Public Safety [2] to shed their blood on Prussia’s sandy fields in a fratricidal war which cannot be won. I will not command them to”, the option of the USPD throwing itself behind a revolutionary war for socialism and republican democracy was no longer realistic. It became even less so when Richard Lipinski, not just our Free People's State's Minister-President, but also a member of the old USPD presidium, concurred with Eisner’s position, and proposed a counter-motion: that the USPD demand the release of the political prisoners and the self-dissolution of the Bundesrat as preconditions for their work towards ending the wave of strikes and violent protests [3]. If Ebert’s government and the Bundesrat would comply, the USPD and the governments which it led should militate towards an oversight of the soldiers’ councils over the demobilization to prevent weaponry from falling into the hands of anti-socialist Heimatwehren [4], towards constituent assembly elections based on universal equal suffrage being held in each member state, too, and that the MSPD join the USPD in pressing forward socialist economic transformation and full democratic parliamentarisation on all levels in these constituent bodies. If the MSPD would reject these terms or not commit themselves credibly to them, the USPD would preserve for itself the option of mobilizing for renewed general strikes and other measures of popular protest.

    Where Eisner’s speech had disheartened the radicals and emboldened the moderates, Lipinski’s proposals brought the moderate wing of the party back into the offensive with a plan behind which both Revisionists and Marxist Centrists could rally. Lipinski’s motion was accepted with a narrow majority of 574 over 532 votes. When Laufenburg’s counter-motion was struck down, again on the narrow margin of 519 to 580 votes, Leo Jogiches, August Thalheimer, Paul Lange, Willi Budich and Eugen Leviné [5] came to the fore together to announce that the Spartakusbund leaves the USPD immediately and would implement the agenda laid down in the Laufenburg plan instead.

    More than a hundred members of the congress followed them, joined by groups from outside the party who had attended, too, and who sympathized with the Spartakist position more than with Lipinski’s agenda. Reduced and demoralized, the USPD’s left wing suffered defeat after defeat in the elections to the party’s new presidium. The new leaders of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany are Hugo Haase (chairman), Fritz Kunert, Wilhelm Bock, Karl Kautsky, Ernst Toller, Hermann Fleißner and Hans Brümmer [6].

    Haase, the old and new chairman of the party, promised to dedicate himself immediately to the pursuit of the Lipinski plan, attempting to get in touch with Scheidemann’s more dialogue-friendly wing in the MSPD Reichstag faction as soon as possible. In his concluding speech, he promised that the USPD would continue to be the incorruptible voice for peace, democracy, and socialism, and that they would continue to fight against the power of the old militaristic elites, the backwards clergy, and the reactionary Heimatwehren. At the same time, he also warned the Spartakists against any dangerous and rash action which could only bring ruin over Germany’s working class, and distanced himself and his party in the clearest words from any “excesses” which might be perpetrated by the Spartakists who had now left the party.

    On the streets of Leipzig, the reaction to the decisions of the congress have been mixed. While Lipinski enjoys the trust and support of Leipzig’s proletarian defenders of the Saxon Revolution, the further loss of unity among the labour movement was widely lamented. With these demonstrating workers and with all democratically minded citizens of our city and our country, we are hoping, at this pivotal moment in the history of our nation, that our new democratic house shall not prove so divided as to fall, and instead find onto the path of peaceful, equitable and prosperous development, away from the shameful crimes and oppression of the old order and into a better future, as a social and democratic nation joining our hands with other free nations in a new and lasting circle of peace.



    [1] IOTL, the term „Versöhnler“ [=reconcilers] is not used for / by parts of the German radical left until the second half of the 1920s. But I thought those moderates and centrists who favoured participating in a parliamentary and electoral transformation of the country towards socialism would not want to call themselves “surrenderers”, as their rivals dubbed them, and nor would a USPD-friendly newspaper which is not part of the Spartakus network call them by that name. “Reconcilers” probably had ambivalent connotations and may not be their self-description, but it sounds OK as an outside description for them, given that their course of action would imply, at least to a certain extent, reconciling with the MSPD in one way or another.

    [2] In the absence of a Bolshevik bugbear, the historical example of the French Revolution and the excesses of Robespierre’s “terreur” is still everyone’s no.1 bogeyman choice ITTL.

    [3] The relevance of the Bundesrat stems from its being the organ which orders imperial execution. Its being unacceptable to the USPD has a lot to do with the representatives gathered in it.

    [4] The Austrian term is on its way to become TTL’s equivalent of “Freikorps” in the German context, too.

    [5] If you wonder why there are quite a few “backbench” Spartakists involved here (Laufenburg, too, by the way), well, they are not ITTL. The reason is that leading lights like Liebknecht and Luxemburg are still in prison, while others have been killed in the much more bloody repression of the January strikes ITTL.

    [6] This presidium mirrors the new de facto power of the provinces and the weakened position of Berlin, with four members representing strong territorial sections: Saxony-Gotha (Bock), Bavaria (Toller), Saxony (Fleißner) and Baden (Brümmer), against only three Reichstag members.
     
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  17. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

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    Because the radicals there haven't overthrown a monarchy. (What have they overthrown, BTW?) The pure question of Imperial supremacy comes to the fore; and the question of what authority the Empire has to intervene in the internal affairs of a Free City.

    In the US, local corruption has often subverted state law enforcement; the remedy has sometimes been federal prosecutions. This can be awkward, because the feds have no jurisdiction over local crimes. Federal jurisdiction gets invented by finding an interstate aspect, or evasion of federal income tax, or even use of the US Mail. Official complicity in crimes becomes conspiracy to violate the civil rights of victims ("equal protection of the laws") Such maneuvers were needed to bring down gangsters like Al Capone or to break the hold of the Ku Klux Klan in the South..

    It doesn't seem likely that any similar situation ever arose in Germany. But Idunno.
     
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  18. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    They have overthrown the old Hanseatic constitution, dissolved the Senate and sacked the Mayor, and replaced them with the Workers' and Soldiers' Council and its executive committee.
     
  19. Salvador79 Well-Known Member

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    There were imperial executions against Saxony and Thuringia in 1923 under the Weimar constitution, but bY that time, the Reichswehr was firmly in conservative hands again.
     
  20. 52cardsshortofadeck Well-Known Member

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    Good luck for the Spartacists, then...
     
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