Draft Resolution of the International Socialist Women’s Conference
|Written||26 March 1915|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 346.2-348.
The International Socialist Women’s Conference was held at Borne from March 26 to 28, 1915. It was called on the initiative of the magazine Rabotnitsa’s organisation abroad with the close participation of Clara Zetkin, who was at the time Chairman of the International Socialist Women’s Bureau. All the preparatory work for the conference was carried out by I. F. Armand, N. K. Krupskaya and others under Lenin’s direction. The conference was attended by 29 delegates from women’s organisations of Britain, Germany, Holland, France, Poland, Russia and Switzerland. The seven delegates from Russia included four from the RSDLP Central Committee (Armand, Krupskaya and others) and three from the OC Most of the delegates to the conference were under the influence of the Centrists, which is why instead of discussing general socialist tasks in connection with the, war, the conference confined its work to discussing Clara Zetkin’s report “On Socialist Women’s International Action for Peace”. The resolution on this question was worked out by Clara Zetkin with the participation of delegates from Britain and Holland and was of a Centrist character. The representatives of the RSDLP Central Committee motioned a draft resolution written by Lenin, which indicated to the socialist women the revolutionary way of fighting against the war and international opportunism. Inessa Armand spoke for the draft at the conference, which however adopted the resolution drawn up by Clara Zetkin.
Lenin assessed the conference as an attempt to restore international ties and tried to use it for the purpose of rallying the internationalist elements on a revolutionary platform. But, as he pointed out later, this and other conferences of internationalists held at the time, while being inspired by the best intentions, did not lay down a militant internationalist line..., “they confined themselves to repeating the old resolutions” and “at best were marking time” (see present edition, Vol. 21, p. 325).
The material on the International Socialist Women’s Conference was published in a Supplement to Sotsial-Demokrat No. 42 on June 1, 1915. p. 346
Resolution Motioned by the CC Delegation[edit source]
The current world war, which is the cause of so much distress wherever it has broken out, which has devastated and ruined Belgium and Galicia, and which has ruined the lives of thousands upon thousands of workers—this war is an imperialist one, caused by the struggle between the ruling classes of various countries for a division of the colonies and domination of the world market, and by dynastic Interests. It is a natural continuation of the policy conducted by the class of capitalists and the governments of all countries, and that is why the question of who struck out first is altogether irrelevant from the socialist standpoint.
This war, far from serving any interests of the workers, is in fact a weapon in the hands of the ruling classes for disrupting the international solidarity of the workers and weakening their movement and class struggle in each country. Similarly, the “defend your country” watchword, put forward by the bourgeoisie and supported by the opportunists, is nothing but a bait to which the bourgeoisie hopes the proletariat will rise and be induced to give their life and blood for its interests.
In view of all this, the Extraordinary International Socialist Women’s Conference, on the strength of the Stuttgart resolution, which recommends the use of the economic and political crisis, brought about by the war, for rousing the people to accelerate the collapse of the capitalist system, on the strength of the Copenhagen resolution, which says that it is the duty of deputies to vote against war credits, and of the Basle resolution, which says that the workers consider it a crime to shoot down each other—declares that the representatives of most of the socialist parties of the belligerent countries acted in complete discord with these resolutions and, succumbing to the pressure of circumstances, committed a real betrayal in respect of socialism, sup planting it with nationalism; it insists that the proletarians of all countries have no enemy other than their class enemy—the class of capitalists.
The horrible suffering caused by this war awakens in all women, especially proletarian women, a growing desire for peace. Declaring war on all imperialist war, the conference at the same time believes that if this desire for peace is to be transformed into a conscious political force, working women must well realise that the propertied classes are striving for nothing but annexations, conquest and domination, that in the epoch of imperialism wars are inevitable, and that imperialism threatens the world with a series of wars, unless the proletariat musters enough strength to put an end to the capitalist system by the final overthrow of capitalism. Every working woman who wants to shorten the period of suffering connected with the epoch of imperialist wars, must strive to have her urge for peace develop into indignation and struggle for socialism. The working woman will attain her aim in this struggle only through a revolutionary mass movement, and a strengthening and sharpening of the socialist struggle. Consequently, her first duty is to support the trade union and socialist organisations and break the civil peace by fighting against the war credits, against entry into bourgeois ministries, by supporting and spreading the idea of soldiers’ fraternisation in the trenches on the field of battle, by setting up illegal organisations wherever the government has abolished the constitutional freedoms, and finally, by drawing the mass into manifestations and revolutionary movements.
The International Socialist Women’s Conference calls on the working women of all countries to start this struggle right away, organising it on an international scale, and closely tying in their work with that of the socialists of all countries who, like Liebknecht, are lighting against nationalism and waging a revolutionary socialist struggle.
At the same time, the conference gives working women a reminder that in the most advanced countries of Europe the objective conditions for socialist production are already there, that the whole movement is entering a new phase, that the current world war imposes fresh and serious duties upon them, and that their movement may be the forerunner of a general mass action which could give fresh scope to the whole socialist movement and advance the hour of final emancipation. By taking the initiative in staging demonstrations and revolutionary manifestations, working women, marching hand in hand with the proletarians, could usher in a new era of proletarian struggle in the course of which the proletariat will win socialism in the more advanced countries, and a democratic republic in the more backward ones.