Zitate von Wilhelm Liebknecht

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Wilhelm Liebknecht

Geburtstag: 29. März 1826
Todesdatum: 7. August 1900

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Wilhelm Philipp Martin Christian Ludwig Liebknecht war einer der Gründerväter der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands .

Als radikaldemokratischer Revolutionär beteiligte er sich aktiv an den Revolutionen von 1848/49 − nach der französischen Februarrevolution vor allem in Baden . Von 1849 bis 1862 lebte er 13 Jahre im Exil: zunächst in der Schweiz und ab 1850 in England, wo er als Mitglied des Bundes der Kommunisten in engem Kontakt zu Karl Marx und Friedrich Engels stand und sich unter deren Einfluss marxistischen Positionen annäherte. Zurück in Deutschland wurde er während der ersten Jahrzehnte des Kaiserreichs zu einem der profiliertesten sozialistischen Politiker im Reichstag. Dort war er ein bedeutender Kontrahent des Reichskanzlers Otto von Bismarck und des auf die Bismarck-Ära folgenden imperialistischen Weltmachtstrebens Deutschlands unter Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Abgesehen von der politischen Arbeit betätigte sich Liebknecht nach seinem Studium verschiedener geisteswissenschaftlicher Fächer in Gießen, Berlin und Marburg sowie zwei Handwerksausbildungen unter anderem pädagogisch als Lehrer und publizistisch als Journalist und Redakteur.

Er war als Urenkel ein Nachfahr des Mathematikers und Theologen Johann Georg Liebknecht. Wilhelm Liebknecht selbst hatte mehrere in unterschiedlicher politischer, kultureller und wissenschaftlicher Bedeutung bekannt gewordene Nachkommen, darunter drei seiner Söhne: Neben dem Chemiker Otto Liebknecht die sozialistischen Politiker Theodor und Karl Liebknecht. Zu seinen Enkeln zählen der Künstler Robert Liebknecht sowie der Architekt Kurt Liebknecht.

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Zitate Wilhelm Liebknecht

„Wissen ist Macht, Macht ist Wissen.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht
Rede vor dem Arbeiterbildungsverein in Dresden, 5. Februar 1872, in: P. v. Rüden / K. Koszyk (Ed.) 1979, Dokumente und Materialien zur Kulturgeschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung 1848-1918, Frankfurt/Main

„Weil wir die Untrenn­barkeit der Demokratie und des Sozialismus begriffen haben, nennen wir uns Sozialdemokraten.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht
Über die politische Stellung der Sozialdemokratie, insbesondere mit Bezug auf den Norddeutschen „Reichstag“ (1869), in: Kleine politische Schriften, Frankfurt/M. 1976, S. 14 ff. marxists. org

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„Programme sind aber nicht dazu da, mit dem Mund bekannt und mit der Tat verleugnet zu werden; sie sollen die Richtschnur unseres Handelns sein.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht
Über die politische Stellung der Sozialdemokratie, insbesondere mit Bezug auf den Norddeutschen „Reichstag“ (1869), in: Kleine politische Schriften, Frankfurt/M. 1976, S. 14 ff. marxists. org

„This foundation of the class struggle, which Marx – and this is his immortal service – has given to the modern labor movement, is the main point of attack in the battle which the bourgeois political economy is waging with socialism.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht
Context: This foundation of the class struggle, which Marx – and this is his immortal service – has given to the modern labor movement, is the main point of attack in the battle which the bourgeois political economy is waging with socialism. The political economists deny the class struggle and would make of the labor movement only a part of the bourgeois party movements, and the Social Democracy only a division of the bourgeois democracy. The bourgeois political economy and politics direct all their exertions against the class character of the modern labor movement. If it were possible to create a breach in this bulwark, in this citadel of the Social Democracy, then the Social Democracy is conquered, and the proletariat thrown back under the dominion of capitalistic society. However small such a breach may be in the beginning, the enemy has the power to widen it and the certainty of final victory. And the enemy is most dangerous when he comes as a friend to the fortress, when he slinks in under the cover of friendship, and is recognized as a friend and comrade. The enemy who comes to us with open visor we face with a smile; to set our foot upon his neck is mere play for us. The stupidly brutal acts of violence of police politicians, the outrages of anti-socialist laws, the anti-revolution laws, penitentiary bills – these only arouse feelings of pitying contempt; the enemy, however, that reaches out the hand to us for a political alliance; and intrudes himself upon us as a friend and brother, – him and him alone have we to fear. Our fortress can withstand every assault – it can not be stormed nor taken from us by siege – it can only fall when we ourselves open the doors to the enemy and take him into our ranks as a fellow comrade. Growing out of the class struggle, our party rests upon the class struggle as a condition of its existence. Through and with that struggle the party is unconquerable; without it the party is lost, for it will have lost the source of its strength. Whoever fails to understand this or thinks that the class struggle is a dead issue, or that class antagonisms are gradually being effaced, stands upon the basis of bourgeois philosophy.

„We socialists are one nation to ourselves, – one and the same international nation in all the lands of the earth.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht
Context: The internationality of socialism is a fact that is daily becoming more evident and more significant. We socialists are one nation to ourselves, – one and the same international nation in all the lands of the earth. And the capitalists with their agents, instruments and dupes are likewise an international nation, so that we can truthfully say, there are to-day only two great nations in all lands that battle with each other in the great class struggle, which is the new revolution – a class struggle on one side of which stands the proletariat, representing socialism, and on the other the bourgeoisie, representing capitalism. While the bourgeois world of capitalism continues and the bourgeoisie rules, so long are all states necessarily class states, and all governments class governments, serving the purposes and interests of the ruling class, and destined to lead the class struggle for the bourgeoisie against the proletariat – for capitalism against socialism, for our enemies and against us. From the standpoint of the class struggle which is the foundation of militant socialism, that is a truth which has been raised by the logic of thought and of facts beyond the possibility of a doubt. A socialist who goes into a bourgeois government, either goes over to the enemy or else puts himself in the power of the enemy. In any case the socialist who becomes a member of a bourgeois government separates himself from us, the militant socialists. He may claim to be a socialist but he is no longer such. He may be convinced of his own sincerity, but in that case he has not comprehended the nature of the class struggle – does not understand that the class struggle is the basis of socialism.

„We shall never go wrong if we do what is opposed to the interests of our enemy.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht
Context: We shall never go wrong if we do what is opposed to the interests of our enemy. On the other hand, we shall almost never go right if we do what our enemies applaud. Historical development is a continuous conflict, a conflict of interests, a conflict of races, a conflict of classes. And if friendship does not count even in ordinary business, how much less so in such a conflict. Good-naturedness and sentimentality have no place in politics. They have never won a victory, but have brought unnumbered defeats. Bluecher’s motto, “Always follow the cannon’s roar and throw yourself upon the enemy,” is the best rule also in.

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„All who are weary and heavy laden; all who suffer under injustice; all who suffer from the outrages of the existing bourgeois society; all who have in them the feeling of the worth of humanity, look to us, turn hopefully to us, as the only party that can bring rescue and deliverance. And if we, the opponents of this unjust world of violence, suddenly reach out the hand of brotherhood to it, conclude alliances with its representatives, invite our comrades to go hand in hand with the enemy whose misdeeds have driven the masses into our camp, what confusion must result in their minds!... It must be that for the hundreds and thousands, for the millions that have sought salvation under our banner, it was all a colossal mistake for them to come to us. If we are not different from the others, then we are not the right ones – the Savior is yet to come; and the Social Democracy was a false Messiah, no better than the other false ones! Just in this fact lies our strength, that we are not like the others, and that we are not only not like the others, and that we are not simply different from the others, but that we are their deadly enemy, who have sworn to storm and demolish the Bastile of Capitalism, whose defenders all those others are. Therefore we are only strong when we are alone. This is not to say that we are to individualise or to isolate ourselves. We have never lacked for company, and we never shall so long as the fight lasts. On the essentially true but literally false phrase about a “single reactionary mass,” the Social Democracy has never believed since it passed from the realm of theory to that of practice. We know that the individual members and divisions of the “single reactionary mass” are in conflict with each other, and we have always used these conflicts for our purposes. We have used opponents against opponents, but have never allowed them to use us.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht

„At any rate we may be sure that the political instinct of our bourgeois opponents, as soon as their class interests come into play, will lead them to take a position hostile to us. A classical example is furnished by Belgium, where, as already remarked, a compromise was concluded under the most favorable circumstances conceivable, between the socialists and the liberals. Our party was in undisputed possession of the leadership and was therefore in no danger of being cheated out of the fruits of the common victory. The end sought was universal, equal and direct suffrage. But the clerical party knows its boys, knows its Pappenheimers. It knows that the bourgeoisie has no class interest in giving the laborers, who, in modern industrial states, constitute a majority of the population, the universal suffrage and thereby the prospect of winning a majority and getting political supremacy. It made a counter demand for proportional representation with plural voting, that is, giving more votes to the rich, and thereby granting to the radical bourgeoisie a share in the government, if it would assist in defeating universal and direct suffrage. And behold, without a minute’s hesitation the gentlemen of the radical bourgeoisie broke their agreement with the socialists and joined the clericals in their fight against universal suffrage and the social democracy. Whoever is not convinced by this example that the emancipation struggle of the proletariat is a class struggle is one on whom further arguments would be wasted.“

—  Wilhelm Liebknecht

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