Foreword to Henri Guilbeaux’s pamphlet Socialism and Syndicalism in France during the War

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 13 April 1919


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First Published in French in 1919; First published in Russian in 1920; Published according to the Russian version of the pamphlet
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972, Volume 29, paged 302-303

Comrade Guilbeaux’s pamphlet is very well timed. The history of the socialist and trade union movements in a number of countries during the war should be summarised for all countries. This history shows as clearly as possible the slow but steady turn to the left, the progress towards revolutionary thinking and revolutionary action by the working class. This history discloses, on the one hand, the deep-going roots of the Third, Communist International, the preparations made for it, specific within each nation, depending upon its concrete historical features. A knowledge of the deep roots of the Third International is essential for an understanding of the inevitability of the International and of the difference in the paths leading the various national socialist parties to it.

On the other hand, the history of the socialist and trade union movements during the war shows us the beginning of the collapse of bourgeois democracy and bourgeois parliamentarism, the beginning of a turn from bourgeois democracy to Soviet, or proletarian, democracy. This tremendous epochal change is what many, very many socialists simply cannot understand yet, tied as they are by the chains of routine, philistine worship of what exists and existed yesterday, philistine blindness which prevents their seeing what is being brought into existence by the history of dying capitalism in all countries.

Comrade Guilbeaux undertook the task of writing an essay on the history of the French socialist and trade union movements during the war. The clear and accurate enuineration of the facts gives the reader a vivid illustration of the beginning of a great turn, of the turning of the tide in the history of socialism. One may be certain that Gnilbeaux’s pamphlet will not only be most widely circulated among all class-conscious workers, but that it will also lead to the publication of a number of similar pamphlets on the wartime history of socialism and the working-class movement in other countries.

N. Lenin

Moscow, April 13, 1919