It is important to understand that Liebknecht foresaw that the Socialist party would obtain partial control of the government even under the Imperial régime. In 1881, during the state of siege instituted by Bismarck, in spite of the coalition of almost all the other parties united in their hatred of Socialism, Liebknecht, whose spirit was both bold and serene, foresaw that the Socialists would be called to take office, and that the emperors themselves would be constrained to call them; and he foresaw that the Socialists would not refuse this partial vindication, that they would not refuse to undertake this partial work. Holding themselves ready to profit fully by the Revolution if it should break out as a result of a national cataclysm, they would also, he predicted, be ready to enter into the evolutionary process if destiny decreed that evolution was to be the method of advance. They would be ready, in the interest of the nation and the interest of the proletariat, to become ministers of the Kaiser.
By what extraordinary phenomenon, by what inexplicable contradiction, did the man who pondered upon and wrote these carefully worked-over pages in 1881, in the full excitement of the revolutionary struggle, by what prodigious upheaval of ideas did this same man condemn as bitterly as he did the entrance of a French Socialist into a bourgeois government?
- Millerand was Minister of Commerce in the Waldeck-Rousseau Cabinet. See Introduction.