Schism in Social Democracy
One of the main reasons for the almost strange phenomenon that the Marxist left became the largest workers’
party in Czechoslovakia in just two and a half post-war years, perhaps the largest political party in Czechoslovakia ever, was that we did not, ourselves, together with other workers, in January 1919, set up a a strict border, but we gradually removed one opportunistic illusion after another, always capturing the masses in each of these steps forward.
Bohumír Šmeral in a speech at the 1st meeting of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (1921).
After the end of the First World War, the Social Democrats identified with the concept of the Czechoslovak state.
At the first parliamentary elections they became the strongest political party. Their representative Vlastimil Tusar took the post of Prime Minister. The party however found itself in deep conflicts of opinion. A strong left wing element emerged, which embraced the Bolshevik program (calling itself the Marxist left). In September 1920 Tusarov’s government fell. The conflict within the Social Democrats culminated in December 1920 with a battle over The People’s House, during which the offices of the party daily Právo lidu (Peoples Rights) were forcibly occupied by supporters of the left. The building was evacuated with the assistance of the police and handed back to the leadership of the Social Democrats. The left wing element abandoned the party and prepared its own political project.
Vlastimil Tusar – Prime minister of the Government in the years 1919-1920 (ČTK)
The People’s House – the seat of the Social Democratic Party and the editors of the newspaper Práva lidu,(Peoples Rights) photo from 1912 (National Museum)
Rudé právo (Red truth) from the 11th of December 1920 (National museum)
Former chairman of the Social Democrats and co-founder of the Communist Party Bohumír Šmeral (1880-1941). Although he met Lenin in Russia, he did not support a violent revolution in Czechoslovakia (National Museum).