Imperialist War and the Question of Peace
First Published: Studien über revolutionäre Taktik. Zwei unveröffentlichte Arbeiten über die II. Internationale und über die österreichische Sozialdemokratie (Verlag für das Studium der Arbeiterbewegung, Berlin (West) 1973)
Source: "Imperialist War and the Question of Peace – the Peace Politics of the Bolsheviks Before the November 1917 Revolution", Part1: Revolutionary Communist 8, July 1978. pp35-43; Part 2: Revolutionary Communist 9, June 1979, pp44-56.
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It should be noted with regard to the quotations from Lenin that the author appears to have been using two different editions of Lenin's Works (referred to as Coll. Works and Sämtliche Werke in the original). In spite of this problem virtually all of the references have been traced to the current English edition of Lenin's Collected Works and are given accordingly as CW in the footnotes. Those which have not been traced are indicated in the footnotes with the original source. It should also be noted that the author dated events and articles according to the new Revolutionary calendar. In order to maintain his chronology we have kept to this scheme. The two revolutions of 'February' and 'October' 1917 are thus referred to as taking place in March and November.[IL]
Chapter I - The Peace Politics of the Bolsheviks before the November 1917 Revolution[edit source]
1. The Real Character of the First World War[edit source]
The unparalleled collapse of the Second International at the beginning of the First World War led to enormous dismay (and also confusion ) among all left-socialist forces. Very soon, however, began the process of a thorough investigation of what had happened and a ruthless critique (by Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg) - as a basis for opposing the rampant growth of 'social chauvinism' and to prepare for the re-birth of a new revolutionary-Marxist socialist International. In this respect, none of the contemporary Lefts was as relentlessly forceful and as far-sighted as the leader of the Russian Bolsheviks, V.I. Lenin.
The first question which had to be answered was on the real character of the First World War.
As a Marxist, Lenin's main task was to combat the mechanically ahistorical view of this question in the official social-democratic press. At the time he wrote:
'Dialectics calls for a many-sided investigation into a given social phenomenon in its development, and for the external and the seeming to be reduced to the fundamental motive forces ... 
Only in this way could the pitfalls of subjectivism and eclecticism be avoided. 'Socialists' - continues Lenin- 'have always condemned wars between nations as barbarous and brutal.' However, it would be absolutely `absurd once and for all to renounce participation in war in principle.'  What distinguishes Marxists from bourgeois pacifists is that they 'understand the inevitable connection between wars and the class struggle within a country ... that wars cannot be abolished unless classes are abolished and socialism is created.' A further distinction is that they 'regard civil wars, i.e. wars waged by an oppressed class against the oppressor class ... as fully legitimate, progressive and necessary.'  For
... there have been numerous wars which, despite all the horrors, distress and suffering that inevitably accompany all wars, were progressive ... by helping to destroy most harmful and reactionary institutions (e.g. an autocracy or serfdom).'
Thus it is absolutely necessary to make an historical study of each separate war -in in the sense of Clausewitz's famous proposition that war represents 'only the continuation of politics by other (violent- RR) means.' For Marxists, it is therefore self-evident that not only in peacetime, but also in war, `politics' always suits and must suit the interests of particular social classes. 
From this point of view, two opposing stages had to be distinguished in the recent history of Europe (here Lenin is thinking mainly of Western and Central Europe): the stage of the bourgeoisie's struggle against feudalism and absolutism (1789-1871), and the stage of economic and political imperialism (since the last decade of the 19th century). In the first stage many wars had a progressive character, because they served as instruments of national unification and liberation from foreign rule. (At that time, the dominant tendency in Western and Central Europe was for the creation of large nation states ). It is not surprising that for the most part revolutionary democrats and socialists took up the cause of one side in such wars, that is the side whose victory was most likely to benefit the cause of democracy and national unification . That was true, for example, of the wars of revolutionary France which - despite the fact that the French endeavoured to conquer (and plunder) foreign territories - destroyed feudalism and absolutism, which were based on the submission of the peasants, in one part of Europe. In the same way, all Europe's democrats and socialists sympathised in 1849 with the war waged by the Hungarian aristocracy and petit-bourgeoisie against Austrian absolutism - although the Hungarian rebels could only in a very limited sense claim to be 'revolutionary democrats', and although these rebels wanted to buy the freedom of Hungary at the expense of the Slav-Rumanian majority of the country which was subjugated by the Hungarian aristocracy.
Nevertheless, their war (as every war waged at that time against Austrian - and above all against Russian! - absolutism) had to be characterised not only as a 'national' war, but also as a historically progressive war. In such wars, says Lenin, 'defence of the fatherland' was certainly in order - even if in particular cases, as a result of the conflation of national aims with dynastic and foreign-policy interests, it was not an easy decision to make. In the latest, imperialist stage of capitalism, things are completely different! In his articles of 1914-15, Lenin continually made the point that at that time none of the world capitalist powers needed to fight for its 'national independence' - instead they themselves had become oppressors of foreign peoples and lands on a grand scale. Thus in a few decades preceding the World War, a fundamental transformation of capitalism had taken place: free competition was replaced by the dominance of the monopolies, which had outgrown the framework of the existing nation-state and were striving for a continual extension of their sphere of influence. This explained the struggle that had been raging for decades, not only over markets but above all over (colonial) territories outside Europe for the export of capital and the extraction of raw materials - territories opened up by 'civilisation' and plundered by the imperialist powers. Between 1876 and 1914 the six 'great' nations of the world had 'acquired' 25 million square kilometres, i.e. an area two and a half times as large as the whole of Europe, and enslaved more than 500 million people in the colonies. But now almost the entire surface of the earth was, owned by the imperialist Great Powers. This is why it was now a matter of the redivision of the world, made necessary by the unequal development of the capitalist countries . The result was the world conflict of -1914, in which 'the fate of the colonies is being decided by a war on the Continent . In essence, therefore, the war of 1914 was reduced to a fight between two groups of 'highway robbers' who had been fighting each other for decades over the possession of colonies  - their real aims had not the slightest connection with the interests of the 'nation', nor with those of 'democracy' (unless one regards ruling distant oceans and foreign peoples as a precondition for the existence of one's own nation). But in these circumstances, no revolutionary socialist could side with either of the contending groups, as still appeared to be imperative in Marx and Engels' time. Supposing one 'band of highway robbers' possessed three-quarters of Africa, while the other has to be satisfied with only a quarter, and both groups start a war for the redivision of Africa. Which one's victory should one hope for? Even to put the question in this way, says Lenin, is absurd, because the criteria which socialists previously used to decide their attitude to wars, have now disappeared. Modern democracy should, not be concerned with helping either the first group of states to assert their 'right' to three-quarters of Africa, or the second group of states, who want to enforce a redivision of Africa. However,
... from the standpoint of bourgeois justice and national freedom ... Germany might be considered absolutely in the right as against Britain and France, for she has been 'done out' of colonies, her enemies are oppressing an immeasurably far larger number of nations than she is ... ' 
But Germany is also waging war, not to liberate nations, but to enslave them - and from the socialist standpoint that is crucial!
True, 'In the living picture of reality, many lines of the old painting can be found.' So, for example, there can be no doubt that Russian imperialism was more political than economic in nature and (like the imperialism of the Hapsburg monarchy) to a great extent arose from dynastic interests. . (Even if the imperialist ambitions of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian bourgeoisies did not come off at all badly!) One way or another, however, the war programmes of both monarchies amounted to increasing their territories and subjugating foreign peoples; in this respect, then, Russian and Austrian imperialism was just as hostile to nations and reactionary as that of their allies ...
But what about 'little, violated Serbia' - or 'gallant Belgium'? Weren't these examples enough to make one side with the opponents of the Central Powers?
It is no doubt correct, Lenin often emphasises, 'that of all the warring countries, the Serbs alone are still fighting for national existence.1151 But one must always know how to distinguish the whole from the parts! For 'The national element in the Austro-Serbian war is (in the context of the whole World War - RR) an entirely secondary consideration and does not affect the general imperialist character of the war.'  This is most clearly proved by the fact that the Entente, which was allegedly fighting for the 'liberation' of Serbia, was at the time (as the secret London treaty of 26 April 1915 shows) selling the fundamental interests of Yugoslavian freedom (Istria and Dalmatia) to Italy, in order to secure for itself 'the latter's aid in robbing Austria' . In the Belgrade Parliament, the Serbian deputies Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch, however, voted- to the eternal shame of German social-democracy - in an absolutely correct manner against the granting of war credits .
And Belgium? Certainly, Belgium was also in danger of losing, in the event of a German victory, parts of her territory and especially her colonies to Germany. However, most probably 'the German imperialists would free Belgium etc at once if the British and French would agree to "fairly" share their colonies with them.'  The British and French governments' pretence of fighting for the freedom of small nations (in particular, Belgium) was a complete fraud; 'in reality they are waging war in order to keep the colonies, which they are able to rob on a larger scale than the Germans', and to grab Germany's colonies. Besides, it is impossible to 'liberate' Belgium, without sacrificing a whole series of nations to British, French, Russian and Italian imperialism!  Finally, Belgium was herself a great colonial empire, and the restoration of Belgium by the Entente would be identical to the restoration of this empire.  Indeed, not even the brutal violation of Belgian neutrality by the Germans could alter the situation; for the general staffs and the governments of all the Great Powers [here Lenin is referring to the pamphlet by Morel 'The Outbreak of the War'] had known for decades, that every war between Germany and France would lead to the violation of Belgian neutrality, and in 1887 the British Government explicitly rejected the necessity of intervening on the side of Belgium in such an eventuality! 
While the British and French socialists siding with their governments bemoan the fate of Serbia and Belgium, continues Lenin, their German 'comrades' preach - harking back to the revolutionary ideology of 1848/9 - 'the struggle against tsarism!'  Another impudent falsification, for 'in actual fact, however, this (German - IL) bourgeoisie, which servilely grovels to the Prussian Junkers, headed by Wilhelm II, has always been the most faithful ally of tsarism, and an enemy of the revolutionary movement of Russia's workers and peasants. In fact, whatever the outcome of the war, this bourgeoisie will, together with the Junkers, exert every effort to support the tsarist monarchy against a revolution in Russia.'  Just like Anglo-French imperialism the war aims of German imperialism were primarily concerned with plundering colonies and non-German territories; both the Germans and their Austro-Hungarian allies had up till then held a whole series of foreign nations under their heel!
Equally unscrupulous and deceitful was the 'struggle against Prussian militarism' preached by the- Entente-bourgeoisies (and the Entente-socialists), just like their talk of the 'defence of democracy'. A curious struggle for democracy which depends on the most reactionary state power in Europe-Russian tsarism, which not only does not tolerate the slightest democracy within its own borders, but is decried in the whole world as a 'prison of nations' ... 
Thus the imperialist war of 1914 differs quite fundamentally from the national wars of the previous century, and it is therefore mere sophistry to try to evaluate it according to the criteria of those wars. How then can one defend a 'fatherland', that is in the process of plundering and crushing foreign 'fatherlands?' And what meaning - with regard to this war -can the obsolete distinction between 'offensive' and 'defensive' wars still have?
'We know that, for decades, three robbers (the bourgeoisie and the governments of Britain, Russia and France) were arming to pillage Germany. Is there anything surprising that two robbers began the attack before the other three got the new knives they had ordered.' 
The entire economic and diplomatic history of the last decade proves that the war of 1914 was systematically prepared for by all the belligerent powers; therefore, the question of who began the offensive and who declared war first, is completely secondary and - for revolutionary Marxists - meaningless!
'In the present situation, it is impossible to determine, from the standpoint of the international proletariat, the defeat of which of the two belligerent nations would be the lesser evil for socialism. 
On this point Lenin wrote mockingly:
`Let us hope that A Potresov , Kautsky and their adherents will propose that the Stuttgart and Basle resolutions (of the 2nd International on the coming war -RR) be replaced by something like the following: "Should war break out despite our efforts, we must decide, from the standpoint of the world proletariat what is the most to its advantage: that India be plundered by Britain or by Germany; that the Negroes of Africa be taught the use of 'fire-water' and pillaged by the French or the Germans; that Turkey be oppressed by the Austro-Germans or by the Anglo-Franco-Russian alliance; that the Germans should throttle Belgium or the Russians, Galicia ; that China be partitioned by the Japanese or by the Americans", etc.' 
Thus from the standpoint of the international interests of the working class, the strategy of the `lesser evil' is thus unfounded. A completely different matter, of course, with regard to the Russian working class!
Lenin wrote in October 1914
... for us Russians, from the point of view of the interests of the working masses and the working class of Russia, there cannot be the smallest doubt, absolutely any doubt, that the lesser evil would be now, at once the defeat of tsarism in this war. For tsarism is a hundred times worse than Kaiserism.' 
... if there is anything that, under certain conditions, can delay the downfall of tsarism, anything that can help tsarism in its struggle against the whole of Russia's democracy, then that is the present war, which has placed the purses of the British, the French and the Russian bourgeois at the disposal of tsarism, to further the latter's reactionary aims. If there is anything that can hinder the revolutionary struggle of the Russian working class against tsarism, then that is the behaviour of the German and the Austrian Social-Democratic leaders, which the chauvinist press is continually holding up to us as an example..
Which naturally does not imply that the Russian workers and the oppressed nationalities of Russia should desire the victory of the Central Powers; for the war can also reach the point (and did in fact reach that point), where not only the tsarist empire, but also its enemies are shattered  - and from the standpoint of revolutionary Marxists that is the very best of all possible solutions!
`What is the present war being fought over?' - asks Lenin in his article against Pyatakov (Kievsky - IL) (October 1916): `England, France and Russia are fighting to keep the colonies they have seized, to be able to rob Turkey, etc... Let us suppose that the Germans take Paris or St Petersburg. Would that change the nature of the present war? Not at all. The German's purpose - and more important, the policy that would bring it to realisation if they were to win - is to seize the colonies, establish domination over Turkey, annex areas populated by other nations, for instance, Poland, etc. It is definitely not to bring the French or the Russians (themselves -RR) under foreign domination. The real nature of the present war is not national but imperialist. In other words, it is not being fought to enable one side to overthrow national oppression, which the other side is trying to maintain. It is a war between two groups of oppressors, between two freebooters over the division of their booty ... '  But this means `From the liberator of nations, which it was in the struggle against feudalism, capitalism in its imperialist stage has turned into the greatest oppressor of nations. Formerly progressive, capitalism has become reactionary; it has developed the forces of production to such a degree that mankind is faced with the alternative of adopting socialism or of experiencing years and even decades of armed struggle between the "Great" Powers for the artificial preservation of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges and national oppression of every kind.' 
Therefore instead of choosing between the 'younger and stronger' robber and the 'older and overgorged' one, `socialists must take advantage of the struggle between the robbers to overthrow them.' `Whoever justifies participation in the present war is perpetuating the imperialist oppression of nations. Whoever advocates taking advantage of the present embarrassments of the governments so as to fight for the social revolution is championing the real freedom of really all nations.' 
And this freedom can be achieved only under socialism!
Enough on Lenin's analysis of the driving forces and the character of the First World War. Certainly, Lenin's blunt and intentionally brutal language (`highway robbers', `bandits' etc) may offend some sensitive souls (particularly in the camp of the Entente). However, it is not the form, but the content, that really has a damaging effect. For what has since become known, from diplomatic correspondence, of the period before the First World War and in particular of the secret treaties of all the Great Powers taking part in this war, is so disgraceful that today not a single world of Lenin's critique can be considered incorrect. `Don't blame the mirror, if it shows a twisted face' (Gogol). The shady diplomatic dealings of the belligerent states of the time make a mockery of all the fine phrases uttered in the First World War about defence of democracy, the freedom of nations, etc. 
On one point, however, Lenin's analysis appears to be inadequate: he still apparently underestimated the tremendous elemental force of the national movements in Austro-Hungary.  However, it was precisely these movements, which made it possible for the-in essence, purely imperialist - governments of the Entente to assume after the end of the war the mantle of the `fight for democracy' and to appear in the role of `liberator' of the oppressed nationalities! Indeed, -their solution of the nationalities-question in Central and Southern Europe was itself bound up with the oppression of large sections of the Ukrainian, White-Russian, Slovak, German and Hungarian peoples. On the other hand this solution would undoubtedly have turned out far more reactionary, if the Russian Revolution, which had taken place in the meantime, had not forced the Entente to take the so-called 'right of nations to self-determination' rather more seriously. Nevertheless the weakness of Lenin's analysis on this point (which moreover he shared with most of the contemporary 'Lefts', with the sole exception of Trotsky ) can scarcely be denied.
Another aspect of Lenin's analysis, which is worth reconsidering, is the following. As we saw, Lenin never took into account the possibility that the First World War might lead to `Napoleonic victories' of one of the two coalitions (although in his critique of R Luxemburg's Junius Pamphlet he took into consideration the theoretical possibility of such victories, in order to illustrate the possibility of `national wars' even in Europe). True he was correct to emphasise (in the same critique) that `the differences between the forces of the two coalitions are only insignificant', and that this was one of the factors which justified the necessity of a strictly 'defeatist' policy for the proletariat  However, the other perspective (the possibility of the rapid, `total' victory of one of the two coalitions) could not at that time be excluded! In this case the First World War could have ended either (as Trotsky stressed in his pamphlet) with the unrestricted dominance of Germany , or with the dominance of the Entente in Europe. (The former remained only a danger - although occasionally an acute one; the latter was finally prevented by the Russian Revolution which had taken place in the meantime). Of course, all this does not mean that the strategy of absolute `revolutionary defeatism' advocated by Lenin was incorrect in the First World War (in this respect, Trotsky's evasive attitude: 'Neither victory, nor defeat!' was certainly too indefinite); it only means that this strategy also had its limits and could only be applied in the concrete situation of the First World War (permanent war of position etc). The real limits of this strategy were shown in the Second World War, which after a few months had already led to the 'Napoleonic victories' of Hitler's armies. In all the countries over-run by and threatened by Hitler, the policy of unconditional rejection of any 'defence of the fatherland' must have appeared meaningless. The traditional policy of 'revolutionary defeatism', initiated by Trotsky and blindly pursued by his followers throughout the war, was shown to be too abstract, and therefore also totally ineffective, because it took too little account of concrete reality and relied far too much on simply drawing conclusions by analogy. However, this reproach applies the least of all to Trotsky himself, because-as we now know thanks to Deutscher- just before his murder (in August 1940) he was on the point of radically modifying the traditional 'defeatist' policy and replacing it with a strategy of qualified, revolutionary `defencism' (as had been in Rosa Luxemburg's mind in her Junius Pamphlet) .
It should be re-emphasised at the conclusion of this section, that the ruthless exposure of the essentially imperialist character of the First World War did not represent anything specifically Leninist, and that the same critique of the war was also made at the same time by other leading Lefts (Trotsky, and in particular brilliant fashion by Rosa Luxemburg too )- even if it has to be admitted that both Trotsky's and Rosa Luxemburg's analyses suffer from certain shortcomings and vague points . What is peculiar to Lenin-and only to him-is the unremitting thoroughness with which he transposed the lessons resulting from the analysis of the driving forces of the First World War into practical politics, in order not only to `criticise' the bourgeois world engulfed in the dreadful carnage of war, but also to 'change' it. And in this sphere he was certainly without equal.
In Rosa Luxemburg's classic Junius Pamphlet, we find the following noteworthy passage:
‘And then came the awful, the incredible fourth of August 1914. Did it have to come? An event of such importance cannot be a mere accident. It must have its deep, significant, objective causes. But perhaps these causes may be found in the errors of the leader of the proletariat, the social-democracy itself, in the fact that our readiness to fight has flagged, that our courage and our convictions have forsaken us. Scientific socialism has taught us to recognise the objective laws of historical development. Man does not make history of his own volition, but he makes history nevertheless. The proletariat is dependent in its actions upon the degree of maturity of social evolution. But again, social evolution is not a thing apart from the proletariat; it is in the same measure its driving force and its cause as well as its product and its effect. The action of the proletariat itself is one of the determinants of the historical process. And though we can no more skip a period in our historical development than a man can jump over his shadow, it lies within our power to accelerate or to retard it.’
Thus Rosa Luxemburg poses the question of the objective conditions of socialism's disaster in the First World War, of the reasons why ‘after the 4th of August 1914 German social-democracy became a stinking corpse.’ But she does not answer this question- instead she wanders off into social psychology, into a philosophical discussion (excellent, nevertheless) of the interrelation between free will and historical necessity. This was the point Lenin seized on, as we read in his critique on the Junius Pamphlet:
‘The chief defect in Junius's pamphlet, and what marks a definite step backward compared with the ... magazine, Internationale , is its silence regarding the connection between social-chauvinism (the author uses, neither this nor the less precise term social-patriotism [49a]) and opportunism. The author rightly speaks of the "capitulation" and collapse of the German Social-Democratic Party and of the "treachery" of its "official leaders", but he goes no further.... This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, but it is impossible to account for the "betrayal" without linking it up with opportunism as a trend with a long history behind it, the history of the whole Second International. It is a mistake from the practical political standpoint, for it is impossible either to understand the "crisis of Social-Democracy", or overcome it, without clarifying the meaning and the role of two trends-the openly opportunist trend (Legien, David, etc) and the tacitly opportunist trend (Kautsky and Co) ... It is clearly quite absurd to suggest that the old Social-Democratic Party of Germany, or the party which tolerates Legien, David and Co, would participate in a "new" International.’
If, therefore, the collapse of the Second International in the First World War is to be explained scientifically, one must investigate the class content of social-chauvinism and uncover its ideological relation to earlier currents within the labour movement. Lenin deals with this question most thoroughly in his article 'The War and the Second International' , written in the summer of 1915. What is the real substance of social-chauvinism? It is the
‘... acceptance of the idea of the defence of the fatherland in the present imperialist war, justification of an alliance between socialists and the bourgeoisie and the governments of their "own" countries in this war, a refusal to propagate and support proletarian-revolutionary action against one's "own" bourgeoisie etc' ... It is perfectly obvious that social-chauvinism's basic ideological and-political content fully coincides with the foundations of opportunism. It is one and the same tendency ... The idea of class collaboration is opportunism's main feature ... (and for that very reason) in the conditions of the war of 1914-15, opportunism leads to social-chauvinism.'
It is well known that there had been a broad opportunist current in the Second International for decades. The source of this current, says Lenin, was to be found in the upward development of capitalism in Europe and North America,
... when the comparatively peaceful and cultural life of a stratum of privileged workingmen "bourgeoisified" them, gave them crumbs from the table of their national capitalists ... The imperialist war is the direct continuation and culmination of this state of affairs, because this is a war for the privileges of the Great-Power nations, for the repartition of colonies, and domination over other nations. To defend and strengthen their privileged position as a petty-bourgeois "upper stratum" or aristocracy (and bureaucracy) of the working class-such is the natural wartime continuation of petty-bourgeois opportunist hopes and the corresponding tactics (of the pre-war period - RR).'
Thus it becomes evident that
‘… chauvinism and opportunism in the labour movement have the same economic basis: the alliance between a numerically small upper stratum of the proletariat and the petty-bourgeoisie ... against the masses of the proletarians, the masses of the toilers and the oppressed in general. Secondly, the two trends have the same ideological and political content ... (as) by and large ... we must admit that it was the opportunist wing of European socialism that (in the war - RR) betrayed socialism and deserted to chauvinism.'
Nonetheless, there is a world of difference between the opportunism of the period before the war and that of the war years! Pre-war opportunism was still at a 'youthful' stage, and one could still entertain the hope of holding it in check and subordinating it to the general interests of the labour movement. For this reason organisational unity with the opportunists within the framework of a party was at that time still possible. This was totally changed by the World War. The World War represented an historical turning-point of such magnitude, that the attitude of revolutionaries towards opportunism could no longer remain the same. It was impossible to undo what had been done, and to erase from the consciousness of the working-class the fact that, just at the time of crisis, the opportunists became the core of those elements which went over to the bourgeoisie. It was equally impossible to overlook the fact that they now objectively represented a mouth-piece of the bourgeoisie, and acted as its agents within the labour movement . Social-chauvinism in war-time was ‘an opportunism which has matured to such a degree, ... that the existence of such a trend within the Social-Democratic workers' parties cannot be tolerated’. 
This applied with even greater force given that the European socialist movement had passed through the relatively peaceful stage of development, and with the World War had entered a stormy period in which it must tread the ‘Road to Power’  and prepare itself for the task of overthrowing capitalism. ‘Flimsy, thin-soled shoes may be good enough to walk in on the well-paved streets of .a small provincial town, but heavy hob-nailed boots are needed for walking in the hills.’ And precisely because the working class was faced with totally new and immense tasks, it had become an imperative necessity to break organisationally with the open and the veiled opportunists (Kautsky and others).
Clearly, Lenin's critique of the Junius Pamphlet was absolutely consistent on this point. All it did was simply to draw the logical conclusions from the ‘crisis of social-democracy’, which Rosa Luxemburg and her followers (the ‘Spartacists’) were very soon compelled to do, when they established themselves as a particular political current fundamentally different from the old social-democracy. - On the other hand, historical objectivity commands that attention be drawn to the fact that, before the outbreak Lenin did not grasp (or not sufficiently) the essentially opportunist character of ‘Kautskyism’ and that on this point Rosa Luxemburg proved to be more far-sighted. ‘Rosa Luxemburg was right’, Lenin wrote to Shlyapnikov on 27 October 1915. ‘She understood long ago that Kautsky revealed "the fawning of a theoretician", servility, to put it plainly, servility before the majority of the party, before opportunism.’ It is a matter of debate as to the circumstances leading Lenin to vacillate with regard to the Kautskyite ‘centre’. The fact itself, however, cannot be disputed.
In this context, Trotsky's ingenious explanations in his previously mentioned pamphlet of September 1914 should also be examined.
Trotsky asks, what were the deeper causes of the collapse of the Second International at the beginning of the First World War? It would certainly be absurd, he says,
‘... to seek these causes in the mistakes of individuals, in the narrowness of leaders and party committees. They must be sought in the conditions of the epoch as a whole in which the Socialist International first came into being and developed.’
‘it is clear that such a catastrophe could not have occurred had not the conditions for it been prepared in previous times. The fact that two young parties, the Russian and the Serbian, remained true to their international duties is by no means a confirmation of the philistine philosophy, according to which loyalty to principle is a natural expression of immaturity. Yet this fact leads us to seek the causes of the collapse of the Second International in the very conditions of its development that least influenced its younger members.’ 
Here Trotsky means the fact that the epoch of the formation and rise of the Second International was the epoch of the constant upward development of capitalism in Western Europe, which was not interrupted by any major wars on the Continent and which did not offer the proletariat of the Western countries any prospect of leading a real struggle for the seizure of power. Of course, the largest and most imposing labour movement in Western Europe, that is the German labour movement,
‘theoretically ... marched under the banner of Marxism. Still ... Marxism became for the German proletariat not the algebraic formula of the revolution that it was at the beginning, but the theoretic method for adaptation to a national-capitalist state crowned with the Prussian helmet.’
‘in the forty-five years history did not offer the German proletariat a single opportunity to remove an obstacle by a stormy attack, or to capture any hostile position in a revolutionary advance.’
On the contrary:
‘It was constrained to avoid obstacles or adapt itself to them. In this, Marxism as a theory was a valuable tool for political guidance, but it could not change the opportunist character of the class movement, which in essence was at that time alike in England, France and Germany.’ 
Looked at realistically, however, the difference between the German and the English labour movement in that epoch was not as great as it seemed: it was reduced to the following:
‘Through the pressure that English labour exerted on the Liberal Party it achieved certain limited political victories, the extension of suffrage, freedom to unionise, and social legislation. The same was preserved or improved by the German proletariat through its independent party, which was obliged to form because of the speedy capitulation of German liberalism.’
And just for this reason
‘The political struggle of the German proletariat in this entire period had the same opportunist character limited by historical conditions as did that of the English proletariat.’
Marxism, of course, - Trotsky continues - was not something accidental or historically insignificant in the German labour movement! A profound contradiction lay in the fact that Germany's awakening revolutionary working class faced a still semi-feudal, reactionary state, and this required an unswerving ideology to bring the whole movement under the banner of revolutionary aims. Yet ‘there would be no basis for deducing the social-revolutionary character of the party from its official Marxist ideology.’ For
‘ideology is an important, but not a decisive factor in politics ... The fact that the class which was revolutionary in its tendencies was forced for several decades to adapt itself to the monarchical police state, based on the tremendous capitalist development of the country, in the course of which adaptation an organisation of a million members was built up and a labour bureaucracy which led the entire movement was educated - this fact does not cease to exist and does not lose its weighty significance because Marxism (as a theory -RR) anticipated the revolutionary character of the future movement ...’ (Trotsky adds. ‘Reformism made its impress even upon the mind of August Bebel, the greatest representative of this period ...’)
And what was the result of this development? 'Condemned for decades to a policy of opportunist waiting', Social-democracy in the pre-war period created
‘the cult of organisation as an end in itself. Never was the spirit of inertia produced by mere routine work so strong in the German Social Democracy as in the years immediately preceding the great catastrophe. And there can be no doubt that the question of the preservation of the organisations, treasuries, People's Houses and printing presses played a mighty important part in the position taken by the fraction in the Reichstag towards the War.’
However - Trotsky emphasises – ‘... there is one factor in the collapse of the Second International that is still  unclarified', but which constitutes the deepest cause of this collapse; and this factor is
‘... the dependence of the proletarian class movement, particularly in its economic conflicts, • upon the scope and the successes of the imperialistic policy of the state ... (this) is a question which, as far as I know, has never been discussed in the Socialist press.’
In fact, as soon as capitalism grew out of its 'national' into its imperialist stage,
‘... national production, and with it the economic struggle of the proletariat, came into direct dependence on those conditions of the world market which are secured by dreadnaughts and cannon. In other words, in contradiction of the fundamental interests of the proletariat taken in their wide historic extent, the immediate trade interests of various strata of the proletariat proved to have a direct dependence upon the successes or the failures of the foreign policies of the governments.
England long before the other countries placed her capitalist development on the basis of predatory imperialism, and she interested the upper strata of the proletariat in her world dominion. In championing its own class interests, the English proletariat limited itself to exercising pressure on the bourgeois parties which granted it a share in the capitalist exploitation of other countries. It did not begin an independent policy until England began to lose her position in the world market, pushed aside, among others, by her main rival, Germany.
But with Germany's growth to industrial world-importance, grew the dependence of broad strata of the German proletariat on German imperialism, not materially alone but also ideally.’
It is not surprising that
‘... when the decisive moment came, there seemed to be no irreconcilable enmity to imperialistic policies (of the government - RR) in the consciousness of the German workingmen. On the contrary, they seemed to listen readily to imperialist whisperings veiled in national and democratic phraseology...’
Enough on Trotsky's pamphlet from 1914. It is amazing how clearly he assessed the position of the Second International, and how thoroughly he was able to uncover the roots of opportunism and the contamination by imperialism of the labour movement in Western Europe. In this respect, his analysis is in no way inferior to Lenin's. And yet in the years 1914-16, this self-same Trotsky stood, in opposition to Lenin, for organisational unity with the 'centrist' (Kautskyite) wing of social-democracy. - Let us not forget, however, that even after the victory of the February 1917 Revolution in Russia, the majority of the Bolsheviks actually in the country - with Stalin and Molotov at their head - were for political and even organisational unity with the Mensheviks, and it required the return of Lenin to Russia to put an end to this tendency within Bolshevism...
The view has often been expressed that Lenin only insisted so passionately on the left wing of the labour movement splitting from the opportunists because he was counting on the immediate outbreak of socialist revolution in Europe as a result of the war. If only he had recognised that there were no grounds for his revolutionary hopes, then of course it would never have come to the creation of the Third International, nor to a 'split' in the labour movement ... What could be more false than this comfortable interpretation of history!
As early as Lenin's letter to Shlyapnikov of 17 October 1914, we read:
‘... the watchword should be transformation of the national war into a civil war ... The time for this transformation is a different question ... We can neither "promise" civil war nor "decree" it, but to go on working- if necessary for a very long time- in that direction, we are duty bound.’ 
One week later, however, Lenin wrote in his article ‘The Proletariat and the War’:
'Imperialism sets at hazard the fate of European culture: this war will soon be followed by others, unless there are a series of successful revolutions. The story about this being the "last war" is a hollow and dangerous fabrication, a piece of philistine "mythology" ... The proletarian banner of civil war will rally together, not only hundreds of thousands of class-conscious workers but millions of semi-proletarians and petty bourgeois ... whom the horrors of war will not only intimidate and depress, but also enlighten, teach, arouse, organise, steel and prepare for the war against the bourgeoisie of their own" country and "foreign" countries. And this will take place, if not today, then tomorrow, if not during the war, then after it, if not in this war, then in the next one.' 
A similar point is made in the article 'Socialism and War' (August 1915):
‘It is impossible to foretell whether a powerful revolutionary movement will flare up in connection with, during or after the first or the second imperialist war of the Great Powers; in any case it is our bounden duty to work systematically and unswervingly in this direction.’ 
In Autumn 1915 Lenin declared:
‘We cannot tell whether the proletariat's first "decisive" battle against the bourgeoisie will take place in four years or two, within a decade or more; ... but we do know firmly and we declare "positively" that at present it is our immediate and bounden duty to support the growing unrest and the demonstrations (against the war - RR) which have already begun.’ 
And finally, at the beginning of March 1916, he wrote:
‘The socialist revolution is not a single act, it is not one battle on one front, but a whole epoch of acute class conflicts, a long series of battles on all fronts, i.e. on all questions of economics and politics, battles that can only end in the expropriation of the bourgeoisie ... It is possible, however, that five, ten or more years will elapse before the socialist revolution begins. This will be the time for the revolutionary education of the masses in a spirit that will make it impossible for socialist-chauvinists and opportunists to belong to the working-class party and gain a victory, as was the case in 1914-16.’
It is true, however, that after the victory of the November Revolution and especially after the fall of the German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies, all the Bolsheviks (and Lenin in particular) ardently hoped for the imminent outbreak of the European - or at least the German - socialist revolution. This greatly strengthened the pressure for the creation of independent -communist parties. Yet the splitting of the socialist parties was at that time historically inevitable, and it is pure subjectivism to ascribe this splitting to Lenin's ‘exaggerated revolutionary hopes.’ Lenin was not 'all-powerful' despite the great historic influence of his thought and activity.
3. Democratic peace programmes[edit source]
Why Lenin put so much emphasis on a principled break with opportunism and social-chauvinism, can also be seen from his attitude to the question of the so-called 'democratic peace'.
It would be a great mistake to characterise the official declarations of the socialist parties at the beginning of and during the First World War as openly chauvinist and annexationist. On the contrary: from the beginning the leaders of these parties covered themselves by arguing that the war being waged by their governments was a purely 'defensive war' and by calling for the conclusion of a 'just' and 'lasting' peace as soon as possible. In so doing they were merely falling in line with the position of their own governments. For example, the well-known declaration of the German social-democratic Reichstag-fraction on the 4th August 1914 reads:
‘... In the hour of danger we do not leave the fatherland in the lurch. In this we feel ourselves in harmony with the International (!), which has recognized the right of every nation to national independence and self-defence - just as we agree with the International in condemning each and every war of conquest.'
And further on:
'We demand that, as soon as the security of the nation is attained and our opponents are inclined towards peace, the war be ended by a peace which makes friendship possible with the neighbouring peoples. We demand this not only in the interest of international solidarity, which we have always championed, but also in the interest of the German people ... We hope that the terrible lesson of war-time suffering will arouse in millions of people an abhorrence of war (!) and win them to the ideal of socialism and peace among nations'.
English and French socialists made identical declarations.
Nonetheless in the first months of the war such declarations must have seemed merely evasive, a cosmetics operation. But everything changed, once hopes for a lightning-victory disappeared and were increasingly replaced by an overwhelming feeling of despair and horror! There then arose among the popular masses of all the belligerent countries a sincere longing for peace. Of course this had nothing to do with the real position of the social-democratic parties, but it was something they had to reckon with and even give expression to in their publications - if only in platonic terms. (This was mainly in the form of emphasizing one's own nation's love of peace, and the opposing nations' intransigence and hatred of peace.)
The representatives of the 'Left' also had to take a stand on this growing desire for peace, because it seemed to offer the first opportunity for arousing the masses of the people against the war and against the parties which were supporting it. But how should the mood for peace be exploited? And in what political slogans should it find its conscious expression? On this question there were various views, which corresponded to the party-groupings existing at the time (1914-15). But our chief concern is Lenin's position.
He repeatedly emphasises that we cannot give our support to peace as such (i.e. to an unconditional peace), 'because we consider this slogan to be a thoroughly confused, pacifist and bourgeois slogan.' It is true that amongst the masses a hazy, unclear but constantly growing mood for peace had been noticeable for some time.
'The temper of the masses in favour of peace often expresses the beginning of protest, anger and a realisation of the reactionary nature of the war.'
And it was therefore to be regarded as one of the most important symptoms of the incipient disillusion of the masses about the so-called defence of the fatherland. It is of course the absolute duty of all revolutionary Marxists to make use of the masses' mood for peace. But how? To accept the slogan of peace per se would be just giving the governments a helping hand in their deception of the masses. For nowadays
'most people are definitely in favour of peace in general, including even Kitchener, Joffre, Hindenburg, and Nicholas the Bloodstained, for each of them wants an end to the war. The trouble is that every one of them advances peace terms that are imperialist (i.e. predatory and oppressive, towards other peoples), and to the advantage of his "own nation ".'
By these means, the war could only be prolonged, not shortened!
When the present-day Left, Lenin continues,
'began to write under the peace slogan, this deserved encouragement, provided it was the first step in protest against the chauvinists, in the same fashion as the Gaponade was the Russian workers' first timid approach against the tsar. But since the Lefts are even now confining themselves to this slogan (…), they are shoddy Lefts,(78) there is consequently not a grain of "action" in their resolutions, and they are consequently a plaything in the hands of the Südekums, Quarcks, Sembats, Hyndmans, Joffres, and Hindenburgs'.
But do not all socialist opponents of the war stress that they do not support every kind of peace, but only a democratic peace? And cannot the slogan 'For a democratic peace' turn into a cattle-cry in the struggle against imperialism? Not at all, replies Lenin. One should not forget that
‘just as all war is but a continuation by violent means of the politics which the belligerent states and their ruling classes had been conducing for many years, sometimes for decades, before the outbreak of war, so the peace that ends any war can be nothing but a consideration .and a record of the actual changes brought about in the relation of forces in the course of and as a result of the war.'
‘as long as the foundations of present, i.e. bourgeois, social relations remain intact, an imperialist war can lead only to an imperialist peace, i.e. to greater, more extensive and more intense oppression of weak nations and countries by finance capital ... '
Thus in the first place the socialists who argue for a `democratic peace' should be criticised for their theoretical confusion: the fact that they overlook the necessary connection between the character of the war and the class-nature of the imperialist state, and that they substitute for the historical study of politics pursued by the great powers before and during the war a moralising phrase (‘War is an evil, peace is a blessing'). That is to say, they conjure up the fantastic image of an annexation-free, peaceful and progressive foreign policy, ‘while keeping within the framework of world-imperialist relations and the :capitalist system of economy.’ (In this they resemble the Proudhonists, who wanted to do away with capitalist exploitation, while retaining capitalist relations of production.)
The worst thing is not that `democratic peace' is objectively impossible in the present situation, that it represents a 'vulgar, petit-bourgeois utopia'. The practical-political consequences of such a slogan are far more harmful. For without simultaneously calling the masses to revolutionary actions, peace propaganda can, in the situation created by the war, give rise only to illusions, can only lead the working class astray and thereby induce it to place its hopes in the humanity of the bourgeoisie and the imperialist governments. These governments
'only stand to gain from speeches in the socialist camp about a nice little peace, because, firstly, they instill belief in the possibility of such a peace under the present governments, and, secondly, divert attention from these governments’ predatory policies. ... The “socialist” who under such circumstances delivers speeches to the people and the governments about a nice little peace resembles the clergyman who, seeing before him in the front pews the mistress of a brothel and a police officer, who are working hand in glove, “preaches” to them, and to the people, love of one’s neighbour and observance of the Christian commandments.'
'Exactly the same role is played-consciously or unconsciously-by all those who in the present imperialist war address pious peace appeals to the bourgeois governments. The bourgeois governments either refuse to listen to such appeals and even prohibit them, or they allow them to be made and assure all and sundry that they are only fighting to conclude the speediest and “justest” peace, and that all the blame lies with the enemy.'
Lenin says that the role played by the `social pacifists' (with K Kautsky at their head) can only be evaluated from this point of view. The capitalists and their diplomats urgently require the services of such 'socialist' preachers of peace, who lull the nation to sleep with phrases about a 'democratic peace' and divert the attention of the masses from the necessity for revolutionary struggle. Nothing is thus more important to these governments than maintaining intact the influence of the opportunists on the proletariat! So as to prevent a clear break between the working masses and their reformist leaders, they will agree to all possible concessions, and promise the people not only `peace without annexations' and `lasting disarmament', but even the earth. Only in this way can they offer the chauvinist opportunists a way of 'vindicating themselves' and appearing before the masses in the guise of consistent opponents of war. The roles are well allotted! While the bourgeoisie, the governments and the military leaders wage war 'to the victorious end', the socialist opportunists are given the task of consoling and deluding the popular masses, in order to preserve 'class peace' and the 'national united front'.  One hand washes the other.
By contrast, what is the task of the real Left? In the first place, answers Lenin,
`to unmask the hypocrisy of the bourgeois, social-chauvinist and Kautskyite talk about peace. This is the first and fundamental thing. Unless we do that we shall be, willy-nilly, helping to deceive the masses.'
Secondly, however, it is the duty of the Left to explain to the masses,
`that the imperialist powers ... cannot grant a democratic peace. Such a peace must be sought for and fought for, not in the past, not in a reactionary utopia of a non-imperialist capitalism ..., but in the future, in the socialist revolution of the proletariat.'
It is therefore necessary to explain to the masses
'the inseparable connection existing between capital and the imperialist war, and to prove that without overthrowing capital, it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace ... '
One cannot 'slip out of the imperialist war, ... without transferring state power to another class, the proletariat . For `an end to wars, peace among the nations, the cessation of pillaging and violence - such is our ideal; but only petit-bourgeois opportunists
'can seduce the masses with this ideal, if the latter is divorced from a direct and immediate call for revolutionary action. The ground for such propaganda is prepared; to practise that propaganda, one need only break with the opportunists, those allies of the bourgeoisie.' 
Only thus can one prevent the labour movement going back to
`the pre-war state of affairs ... , which led the majority of the leaders (of the Second International - RR) to desert to the bourgeoisie.'
That is sufficient on the general arguments which Lenin used against the slogan of a 'democratic peace'. But the reformist leaders he attacked so violently did not restrict themselves to merely preaching a 'democratic peace'. They also told the masses of their supporters, what they thought such a peace should be like: chiefly, the renunciation of all annexations and war-reparations.  Lenin's critique is directed specifically at this point. Why (asks Lenin) are most reformist socialists -and even many governments (Wilson!) - prepared to promise nations a peace 'without annexations'? Simply because they are only talking about new annexations (those carried out during the war), and their programme therefore essentially amounts to the restoration of the status quo. (For them, what the imperialist states 'acquired' before the war does not count as an ‘annexation'.)
It is not difficult, says Lenin, to perceive the incoherence and absurdity of such an interpretation of the term annexation. It can only have any meaning from the vulgar-pacifist standpoint, which 'as a matter of principle' rejects war as such, and any use of force - even revolutionary force - and which sees the only question as being the restoration of peaceful, `normal' relations (of oppression and exploitation). However, it is certainly not the business of socialists to reconcile the capitalists with one another on the basis of the old division of the spoils, that is, of the old conquests. So, the pacifist-moralist interpretation of the term annexation must be replaced by one which corresponds to the actual development of society. Certainly not every violent acquisition of foreign territory and not every violation of the status quo can be characterised as an annexation. That would not only be extremely reactionary, but would also contradict the most elementary experiences of history, which includes many wars of national liberation (the essence of which was the disruption of the status quo). Therefore the term 'annexation' can only refer to the (new and old) acquisitions of territory against the will of the population of the territories concerned, that is, especially where it is a matter of particular nationalities claiming a separate existence. (It is immaterial whether such nationalities also have their own national languages). 
`In other words: the concept of annexation is inseparably bound up with the concept of self-determination of nations'
and can only be correctly conceived from this standpoint.
But have not all (or almost all) social-democrats always been supporters of 'the right of nations to self-determination'? And isn't this point in the programmes of most socialist parties?
True - but unfortunately it is usually just a matter of paying `lip-service', a sacred formula repeated over and over again, which is all too often devoid of any real substance. That is to say, the slogan of 'self-determination of nations' is generally interpreted merely as a right to national autonomy and not as a right to secede and establish a separate nation state.
This cleverly makes the exercise of the right to self-determination depend on the decision of the parliament of the whole state, and not on the will of the population of the territories concerned. (Thus, for example, the Poles of the Posen province would only be allowed to secede from the German Empire, if the Reichstag for the whole of Germany, in which of course the Polish delegates represented a small minority, consented to their secession ... ) It is self-evident that with this strange 'interpretation' nothing remains of the right of nations to self-determination.
But not only that! As a study of the socialist press in the years 1914-1917 shows, it became common practice for all social chauvinists to reproach the enemy with the crudest violations of the right to self-determination, while shamefully keeping silent on the offence of oppression committed by their own nation ... Thus, for example, the German and Austro-German social democrats missed no opportunity of denouncing the brutal treatment of national minorities and the 'indigenous population' in Tsarist Russia, the British Empire, etc. But what happens to the Italians, Rumanians and Slavs in Austria and in the German Empire (the Posen province!) is systematically suppressed. But in this respect the attitude of the social-patriotic press in England, France, Russia and Italy was just the same. Everywhere the same lying and hypocrisy.
By contrast, Lenin repeatedly emphasises that the fundamental task of all socialists is to support first and foremost the freedom of nations oppressed by their own state, and that obviously this freedom must also include the freedom to secede.
We read in one of his articles written in 1916:
'Our "peace programme" demands that the principal democratic point of this question - the repudiation of annexations - should be applied in practice and not in words, that it should serve to promote the propaganda of internationalism and not of national hypocrisy. To do this, we must explain to the masses that the repudiation of annexations, i.e. the recognition of self-determination, is sincere only when the socialists of every nation demand the right of secession for nations oppressed by their own nations ... '
On the other hand,
'if that right is recognised only for some nations (e.g. only for the Belgians or the Poles - RR), then you are defending the privileges of certain nations, i.e. you are a nationalist and imperialist, not a socialist ... '
Of course, what he says also refers to Russia. Lenin never tires of repeating that
'the Great Russians shall not forcibly retain either Poland, or Kurland, or Ukraine, or Finland, or Armenia, or any other nation.'
Therefore - he says for the benefit of the Mensheviks and the Social-Revolutionaries
'we must immediately satisfy the demands (directed at the Provisional Government of 1917 - RR) of the Ukrainians and the Finns, ensure them, as well as all other non-Russian nationalities in Russia, full freedom, including freedom of secession ... '
Only in this way can the socialist democracy of Russia win the trust of the subjugated, non-Russian nations of the Empire, in order to make them their allies in the struggle against capital and imperialism! 
However, these are not the only reproaches which have to be levelled at the social-chauvinists for their hypocritical interpretation of the right to self-determination. Equally significant is the fact that they want to restrict this right to Europe alone and exclude the colonial and semi-colonial peoples from it. In absolute contrast to this, Lenin explains time and again that the struggle against annexations is to be interpreted
'not in the incorrect sense that all powers get back what they have lost, but in the only correct sense that every nationality without any exception, both in Europe and in the colonies, shall obtain its freedom and the possibility to decide for itself whether it is to form a separate state or whether it is to enter into the composition of some other state:
In this context Lenin refers to the example of the Belgian socialists,
'who demand the liberation and indemnification of Belgium alone, (and) are also actually defending a demand of the Belgian bourgeoisie, who would go on plundering the 15,000,000 Congolese population  and obtaining concessions and privileges in other countries. The Belgian bourgeoisie's foreign investments amount to something like three thousand million francs. Safeguarding the profits from these investments by using every kind of fraud and machinations is the real "national interest" of "gallant Belgium".'
Raising the question of freedom for the colonial and semi-colonial peoples - Lenin continues - is so important because we live in the stage of imperialism, and because imperialism exists precisely on the basis that a few nations, which oppress a multitude of other nations, are striving for a new division of the colonies, which would extend this oppression even further. And that is precisely the reason `why the question of self-determination of nations today hinges on the conduct of socialists of the oppressor nations' and why the distinction between oppressor and oppressed nations has now become one of the central programmatic points of the socialist movement!
It is this distinction, `which forms the essence of imperialism, which is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky.' This division is not significant
`from the angle of the bourgeois pacifism or the philistine Utopia of peaceful competition among independent nations under capitalism, but it is most significant from the angle of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism .'
Of course one must not forget, Lenin emphasizes, that the demand for the `immediate' liberation of all peoples and all colonies can be brought about only through the socialist revolution of the proletariat, and that this demand must therefore appear to all opportunists as `unrealizable' and `impracticable'. But, even the restoration of the `status quo' - an idea so agreeable to 'common sense' - is utterly utopian; for this solution also cannot be brought about ‘unless there is a revolution against capital, at least against Anglo-Japanese capital, since no man in his right senses can doubt that without a revolution Japan will never give up Kiaochow, nor Britain Baghdad and her African colonies. ... And the first to turn down such a demand (unless there is a revolution) will be the British capitalists, who have annexed more territories (in the course of the war - RR) than any other nation in the world.’ This solution might perhaps suit German imperialism, which is contemplating whether to `exchange' what it has appropriated in Europe for its former colonial-possessions; but for precisely that reason, demanding the restoration of the `status quo' amounts to a `separate peace' with the German capitalists. So Lenin concludes:
`Neither of these demands, these wishes, either that of renouncing annexations in the sense of restoring the status quo, or renouncing all annexations, both old and new, are realisable without a revolution against capital, without the overthrow of the capitalists. We must not deceive ourselves or the people on this score.'
Lenin criticises most severely the 'positive' side of the opportunists” peace programme' - their demand for the `democratisation of foreign policy' (or for the `abolition of secret diplomacy'), their idea of `universal disarmament' and `international arbitration', propaganda for a `League of Nations' etc. He -mocks the `nauseatingly-sweet tone' of their resolutions, which stood in such painful contrast to the bloody reality of the world-war and to their own social-chauvinist practice, and whose shallow pathos thus appeared all the more cynical.
The common basis of all these demands was of course the naive belief in the possibility of a 'peaceful and 'democratic' capitalism, which would recognize its imperialist development as an aberration and return to the relatively `gentle' methods of its past. In this respect the social-pacifist propaganda of the First World War is reminiscent of the activity of the petit-bourgeois democrats (described by Marx as `peace windbags) at the turn of the 1860's,
`to whom any thought of the class struggle and of the socialist revolution was wholly alien, and who pictured to themselves a Utopia of peaceful competition among free and equal nations under capitalism.'
(With the difference, however, that what could appear at that time as a relatively harmless day-dream, in the dreadful carnage of the imperialist war turned into the - conscious or unconscious - deception of the masses.)
Lenin says that the idea ‘of the peaceful union of equal nations under imperialism' propagated by the Kautskyites, which lulls the working masses to sleep, is of exactly this kind.
The Kautskyites have not noticed that the class struggle under imperialism does not slacken, but sharpens:
`The programme of (revolutionary - RR) Social Democracy, as a counter balance to this petty-bourgeois, opportunist utopia, must postulate the division of nations into oppressor and oppressed as basic, significant and inevitable under imperialism.' 
In view of this, how can one then dream of a 'league of nations with equal rights under imperialism' and commend to the masses 'universal disarmament' and 'compulsory international arbitration' as the means of avoiding wars and restoring an `everlasting peace'? All this pre-supposes a 'universally acknowledged world-authority and a material force, standing above the contradictory interests of separate powers.' But there is no such authority, and there cannot be, 'as the conflict between the bourgeoisies of different countries or between their coalitions prevents such an occurrence'.
At best therefore it can only be a question of palliatives or of temporary compromises. Moreover, for the bourgeoisie itself it is necessary
'by throwing out a few sops, to pacify the masses, angered by the war and the high cost of living: why not promise (and partly carry out, for it does not commit one to anything!) "reduction of armaments"? After all, war is a "branch of industry" similar to forestry: it takes decades for trees of proper size - that is to say, for a sufficiently abundant supply of adult "cannon-fodder" - to grow up ... ' 
And only in this sense can 'disarmament' be agreeable to imperialism!
`Disarmament', wrote Lenin in October 1916, 'is the ideal of socialism. There will be no wars in socialist society; consequently, disarmament will be achieved.'
It would however be absurd to expect this goal to be reached while still under capitalism! for 'only after the proletariat has disarmed the bourgeoisie will it be able, without betraying its world-historic mission, to consign all armaments to the scrap-heap.' Socialism presupposes the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is the use of force against the class-enemy; 'and in the twentieth century - as in the age of civilisation generally - violence means neither a fist nor a club, but troops.' To introduce the 'disarmament' slogan into the programme of the socialist party would thus mean to renounce the use of weapons. 'There is as little Marxism in this as there would be if we were to say: we are opposed to violence!' And for this very reason,
'the Kautskyite advocacy of "disarmament", which is addressed to, the present governments of the imperialist Great Powers, is the most vulgar opportunism, it is bourgeois pacifism, which actually - in spite of the "good intentions" of the sentimental Kautskyites -serves to distract the workers from the revolutionary struggle',
and to gloss over the true class-nature of the imperialist governments.
'Capitalist society is and has always been horror without end. And if this most reactionary of all wars is now preparing for that society an end in horror, we have no reason to fall into despair.'
But for that very reason,
'the disarmament "demand", or more correctly, the dream of disarmament, is, objectively, nothing but an expression of despair at a time when, as everyone can see, the bourgeoisie itself is paving the way for the only legitimate and revolutionary war - civil war against the imperialist bourgeoisie.' 
Two things must be pointed out at this stage:
Firstly, that the pacifist slogans of the 'sugar-sweet Kautskyites', which Lenin condemned so severely, did not represent anything new in the history of the Second International, but rather were strictly modelled on the resolutions of the Copenhagen Congress of this International (1910). On that occasion a resolution was unanimously accepted by the Congress, which supported (a) compulsory international arbitration (b) universal disarmament, and (c) the so-called abolition of secret diplomacy (To our knowledge only K Radek publicly opposed these resolutions.)
Secondly, it must be emphasized that during the war these reformist-pacifist slogans were opposed, not only by Lenin, but also by the entire Left. It suffices here to point out the `guiding principles on the tasks of international social democracy' drawn up by R Luxemburg in early 1915. Point 8 reads:
'World peace cannot be assured by projects utopian or, at bottom, reactionary, such as tribunals of arbitration by capitalist diplomats, diplomatic "disarmament" conventions, "the freedom of the seas", abolition of the right of Maritime arrest, "the United States of Europe", a "customs union for central Europe", buffer states, and other illusions. Imperialism, militarism and war can never be abolished nor attenuated so long as the capitalist class exercises, uncontested, its class hegemony. The sole means of successful resistance, and the only guarantee of the peace of the world, is the capacity for action and the revolutionary will of the international proletariat to hurl its full weight into the balance.'[l14]
Of course, it is not the task of this work to test the validity of Lenin's critique of 'social-pacifism' in the light of today's experiences. However, there is one pressing question: Can atomic war, which today threatens mankind, also be regarded as a 'continuation by violent means of the politics of peace time'? - The answer is by no means as self-evident and simple as it appears to the advocates of the principle (ascribed to Lenin) of 'peaceful coexistence'. In the first place, all states having atomic weapons at their disposal would have to be convinced of the 'impossibility' of atomic war, and this would have to lead to a universally observed prohibition on the production and stock-piling of such weapons. Up to now it has only been a pious wish of those who feel themselves to be weaker, or mere lip-service to reassure and lull to sleep the popular masses, who are most deeply alarmed. Up to now the great powers concerned have shown no readiness - in spite of continual 'disarmament conferences' - to restrict or put an end to atomic armament, which is growing at a frightening pace. Secondly, however, the 'balance of fear', which so many people today regard as their last hope, is extremely unstable and can at any time be upset by a sudden revolution in the technology of war. (What will happen then, God only knows.) And finally, the 'senselessness' of atomic war by no means rules out the possibility of stronger powers systematically threatening and blackmailing their respective adversaries with the possible use of atom- and hydrogen-bombs, so that at least in this sense the possession of atomic weapons is equivalent to a `continuation of politics by violent means'. (Not to mention the fact that 'limited', 'local' wars - which threaten to turn into atomic wars at any time - can and do take place...)
That is sufficient on the alleged 'impossibility' of a new world war. If we now turn to the questions of 'universal disarmament', 'the League of Nations', 'international arbitration' etc, then the experiences of the last decades have certainly proved that it is, and can only be, a question of palliatives and temporary compromises. In this respect Lenin's polemic against 'social-pacifism' is still important today - although in today's political practice (of the Soviet Union - IL) it is for the most part regarded as a dead letter and unnecessary baggage.
4. The peace programme of the Bolsheviks[edit source]
That is sufficient on Lenin's critique of the peace programme of the reformist socialists. But what was the Bolshevik programme on the peace-question?
We must firstly differentiate between the negative and positive aspects of this programme. The former can be expressed most concisely in Lenin's slogan: 'Transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war.'
This transformation, says Lenin, was the only - and at the same time the least painful - road to a truly just, truly democratic peace. Mankind had to choose: either the victory of one of the two imperialist coalitions —_ and as a consequence the further enslavement of classes and nations, along with the inevitability of new, still more inhuman wars; or on the other hand - the socialist revolution of the proletariat. This was the only way the question could-be posed.
Nevertheless, this perspective seemed a fantastic distortion of reality to the social-pacifist labour-leaders, who before the war had so often terrified the ruling classes with the perspective of a socialist revolution in Europe. They overlooked the fact that imperialism historically represented the stage of declining, fading capitalism, and that the possibility of a socialist revolution actually grew out of the imperialist war:
'... this is not only because the horrors of the war give rise to proletarian revolt - no revolt can bring about socialism unless the economic conditions for socialism are ripe - but because state-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs.'
In this sense, imperialism could and had to be characterised as the 'last' stage of capitalism. Yet
'How long this stage will last, no one can say: there can even be several such wars (like that of 1914 - RR)' 
It had to be understood that, as compared to earlier capitalist wars, wars in the imperialist epoch had a completely different meaning, and that consequently the tasks of socialists were completely different.
The transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war was certainly an extremely difficult matter, and could not be accomplished at will by the separate socialist parties. Nevertheless, this was the only direction in which the 'Left' should work! That meant carrying out tenacious, systematic and bold mass propaganda, which would arouse all kinds of resistance to the war and ultimately lead to a proletarian uprising against capital. This is the dividing line between the revolutionary Marxists and the reformist 'social patriots'.
What then, did Lenin think that the actual revolutionary activity of the 'Left' should be?
In contrast to social-patriotic practice, which renounced the proletarian class struggle, which - according to Kautsky's formula - declared that it was postponed, suspended 'for the duration of the war the Marxist Left had to direct their main struggle against any collaboration by the labour-organisations (trade unions and parties) with the bourgeoisie and the government. As the 'first steps' in this activity, the RSDLP's émigré organisation - led by Lenin - proposed in March 1915: (1) a complete break with the policy of 'class peace' ('bloc national'); (2) the bringing down of the bourgeois-socialist coalition governments and the resignation of all socialist ministers; (3) refusal to vote for war-credits in parliament; (4) the formation of illegal organisations wherever governments violated or suspended the constitutional rights of the citizens; and lastly (5) spreading and promoting fraternisation among the front-line soldiers of all belligerent nations.
It cannot be denied that this programme of the RSDLP anticipated the tendencies lying dormant in the war-time labour movement. In particular, from the second year of the war onwards, their call for the breaking of the 'class peace', increasingly met with spirited approval from the masses. This can be seen clearly from the international conferences of the left and left-centrist socialist groups in Zimmerwald and Kienthal (The split by the 'independents' from the socialists allied with the government in Germany must also be considered as a symptom of this radicalisation of the working-masses.) Of course, up until 1917 these were still only modest beginnings, and in this respect the March revolution in Russia was first to bring about a far-reaching change.
This can best be illustrated by the slogan - spread by the Bolsheviks - of 'fraternisation of the front-line soldiers!' As early as February and March 1915, Lenin referred several times to bourgeois press reports of sporadic cases of fraternisation by the soldiers in the trenches. He says on this occasion:
'Try to imagine Hyndman, Guesde, Vandervelde, Plekhanov, Kautsky and the rest - instead of aiding the bourgeoisie (something they are now engaged in) - forming an international committee to agitate for "fraternisation and attempts to establish friendly relations" between the socialists of the belligerent countries, both in the "trenches" and among the troops in general. What would the results be several months from now, if today, only six months after the outbreak of the war and despite all the political bosses, leaders and luminaries. who have betrayed socialism, opposition is mounting on all sides against those who have voted for war credits and those who have accepted ministerial jobs, and the military authorities are threatening that "fraternisation" carries the death sentence?' 
And in the pamphlet 'Socialism and War', written by Lenin and Zinoviev in August 1915, it says:
`If such cases of fraternisation have proved possible even when ... social chauvinism has the support of the entire Social-Democratic press and all the authorities of the Second International, then that shows us how possible it would be to shorten the present criminal, reactionary and slave-holders' war and to organise a revolutionary international movement, if systematic work were conducted in this direction, at least by the Left-wing socialists in all the belligerent countries.' 
Yet, this systematic work by the Left-wing socialist forces was precisely what was lacking all over Western and Central Europe, with the result that the attempts at fraternisation which broke out from time to time in the trenches, could soon be crushed, and suppressed by the discipline of blind military obedience. This only shows that the slogan of 'Fraternisation of front-line soldiers' was at that time (the beginning of 1915) still premature, and that in isolation it could not have led to any tangible results. Only with the outbreak of the March Revolution in Russia did the fraternisation of soldiers on the Eastern Front become an everyday occurrence, and it contributed most significantly to the disintegration of military discipline in the Russian and then also in the German and Austrian armies.
In a political report given to the Conference of the Bolshevik Party on April 27th 1917, Lenin dealt with this question from precisely this standpoint. His report read:
`To end the war by pacifist means is utopia. it may be terminated by an imperialist peace. But the masses do not want such a peace. War is a continuation of the policies of a class; to change the character of the war one must change the class in power.'
This 'other class' was the working class; only the working class, if it came to power, could bring to the nation a truly democratic peace without annexations. But the Russian masses were not yet prepared to give up their allegiance to the Provisional Government and transfer all power to the Soviets. In view of this the Bolsheviks have 'only one practical means of bringing this butchery of peoples to a speedy end. This means is fraternisation at the front.'
There are numerous reports in the press and in communications from soldiers' councils created at the front:
`By starting to fraternise the Russian and German soldiers, the proletarians and peasants of both countries dressed in soldiers' uniforms, have proved to the whole world that intuitively the classes oppressed by the capitalists have discovered the right road to the cessation of the butchery of peoples.'
`By fraternisation,' Lenin continues, `we understand, first the publication of proclamations in the Russian and the German languages for distribution at the front; second, the holding of meetings between the Russian and the German soldiers at the front with the aid of interpreters, those to be arranged in such a way that the capitalists, and the generals and officers of both countries, who for the most part are the capitalist class, will not dare to interfere with these meetings ... Those proclamations and meetings must make clear the above-stated views of war and peace, must bring home the fact that if the state power in the two countries, Germany and Russia, were to pass wholly and exclusively into the hands of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, the whole of humanity would heave a sigh of relief, for then we would really be assured of a speedy termination of the war, of a really lasting, truly democratic peace among all the nations, and at the same time, the transition of all countries to socialism.'
The same line of thought is continued in Lenin's 'Speech in Favour of the Resolution on the War' (8 May 1917), in which he says:
`Fraternisation (of front-line soldiers - RR), so far, is instinctive, and we must not deceive ourselves in this score ... The fraternising soldiers are actuated not by a clear-cut political idea but by the instinct of oppressed people, who are tired, exhausted and begin to lose confidence in capitalist promises ... Without this instinct the cause of the revolution would be hopeless. As you know, nobody would free the workers if they did not free themselves. But is instinct alone sufficient? You would not get far if you rely on instinct alone. This instinct must be transformed into a political awareness. in our "Appeal to the Soldiers of All the Belligerent Countries" we explain into what this fraternisation should develop - into the passing of political power to the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. Naturally, the German workers will call their Soviets by a different name, but this does not matter. The point is that we undoubtedly recognise as correct that fraternisation is instinctive, that we do not simply confine ourselves to encouraging fraternisation, but set ourselves the task of turning this instinctive fraternisation of workers and peasants in soldiers' uniforms into a politically-conscious movement, whose aim is the transfer of power in all the belligerent countries into the hands of the revolutionary proletariat.' 
And finally in the article 'The Significance of Fraternisation' (11 May 1917), Lenin wrote:
`The capitalists either sneer at the fraternisation of the soldiers at the front or savagely attack it. By lies and slander they try to make out that the whole thing is "deception" of the Russians by the Germans, and threaten - through their generals and officers - punishment for fraternisation.
From the point of view of safeguarding the "sacred right of property" in capital and the profits on capital, such a policy of the capitalists is quite correct. Indeed, if the proletarian socialist revolution is to be suppressed at its inception it is essential that fraternisation be regarded the way the capitalists regard it.'
The class-conscious workers however
'regard fraternisation with profound sympathy. Clearly, fraternisation is a path to peace. Clearly, this path does not run through the capitalist governments, through an alliance with them, but runs against them. Clearly, this path tends to develop, strengthen, and consolidate fraternal confidence between the workers of different countries. Clearly, this path is beginning to wreck the hateful discipline of the barrack prisons, the discipline of blind obedience of the soldier to "his" officers and generals ... (and) clearly, fraternisation is the revolutionary initiative of the masses, ... in other words, it is a rung in the ladder leading up to the socialist proletarian revolution.' 
Enough on the 'fraternisation' slogan. It must also be emphasized that Lenin's opponents (the Mensheviks and the Social-Revolutionaries) fiercely condemned this slogan, because they saw in it simply 'a means of ruining the technical and strategic defence' of the country. But also the foreign critics of Bolshevism (e.g. Bauer, Kautsky amongst others) never missed an opportunity of warning the Bolsheviks of this `Achilles heel' of their tactics.
It must be admitted that Lenin and Trotsky underestimated the extent to which the army inherited from Tsarism had disintegrated, and that at the time of the Brest peace-negotiations they were utterly dismayed by the military defencelessness of Russia. Yet, their opponents' critique was in every respect wrong and philistine, - it simply amounted to renouncing revolution entirely, so as to preserve the army and its fighting strength!
Kautsky did not perceive (says Lenin in his pamphlet 'The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky), that
'under Kerensky maintaining the fighting strength of the army meant its preservation under bourgeois (albeit republican) command. Everybody knows, and the progress of events has strikingly confirmed it, that this republican army preserved the Kornilov spirit because its officers were Kornilov men. The bourgeois officers could not help being Kornilov men; they could not help gravitating towards imperialism and towards the forcible suppression of the proletariat. All that the Menshevik tactics amounted to in practice was to leave all the foundations of the imperialist war and all the foundations of the bourgeois dictatorship intact, to patch up details and to daub over a few trifles "reforms").'
On the other hand (Lenin continues)
'Not a single great revolution has ever taken place, or ever can take place, without the "disorganisation" of the army. For the army is the most ossified instrument for supporting the old regime, the most hardened bulwark of bourgeois discipline ... Counter-revolution has never tolerated, and never could tolerate, armed workers side by side with the army ... The first commandment of the bourgeoisie was (always - RR) to crush this nucleus and prevent it from growing. The first commandment of every victorious revolution, as Marx and Engels repeatedly emphasised, was to smash the old army, dissolve it and replace it by a new one. A new social class, when rising to power, never could, and cannot now, attain power and consolidate it except by completely disintegrating the old army ( ), except by passing through a 'most difficult and painful period without any army (the great French Revolution also passed through such a painful period), and by gradually building up, in the midst of hard civil war, a new army, a new discipline, a new military organisation of the new class. Formerly, Kautsky the historian understood this. Now, Kautsky the renegade has forgotten it.'
We saw how the Bolsheviks, in their proclamations to the soldiers calling for 'fraternisation' pointed out that if state-power in Russia and Germany was transferred to the Councils, this would lead to the speediest conclusion of a democratic peace. What were the conditions of such a peace?
It is typical of Lenin's methodical mind that he was already dealing with this question while in exile in Switzerland. Here we are referring to his 'Several Theses' of 13 October 1915, in which it says inter al:
'To the question of what the party of the proletariat would do if the revolution placed power in its hands in the present war, our answer is as follows: we would propose peace to all the belligerents on the condition that freedom is given to the colonies and all peoples that are dependent, oppressed and deprived of tights. Under the present governments, neither Germany, nor Britain and France would accept this condition. In that case, we would have to prepare for and wage a revolutionary war, i.e. not only resolutely carry out the whole of our minimum programme, but work systematically to bring about an uprising among all peoples now oppressed by the Great Russians, all colonies and dependent countries in Asia (India, China, Persia etc), and also, and rust and foremost, we would raise up the socialist proletariat of Europe for an insurrection against their governments and despite the social-chauvinists. There is no doubt that a victory of the proletariat in Russia would create extraordinarily favourable conditions for the development of the revolution in both Asia and Europe. Even 1905 proved that'
Of course, Lenin spoke in far greater detail on this particular question once the March Revolution had broken out, in one of his 'Letters from Afar' (Zurich, 2 March 1917). There we read:
'If political power in Russia were in the hands of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, these Soviets, and the All-Russia Soviet elected by them, could, and no doubt would, agree to carry out the peace programme which our Party ( ) outlined as early as 13 October 1915 ...
This programme would probably be the following
1. The All-Russia Soviet of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants! Deputies ... would forthwith declare that it is not bound by any treaties concluded either by the tsarist monarchy or by the bourgeois governments. -
2. It would forthwith publish all these treaties in order to hold up to public shame the predatory aims of the tsarist monarchy and of all the bourgeois governments without exception.
3. It would forthwith publicly call upon all the belligerent powers to conclude an immediate armistice.
4. It would immediately bring to the knowledge of all the people our, the workers' and peasants', peace terms:
liberation of all colonies;
liberation of all dependent, oppressed and unequal nations.
5. It would declare that it expects nothing good from the bourgeois governments and call upon the workers of all countries to overthrow them and to transfer all political power to. Soviets of Workers' Deputies.
Thus: Lenin's 'Several Theses' (which he reiterated - with a few additions - five times in the following months) included in essence everything, which the Soviet Government later put before the world in its `Peace Decree'. In spite of the somewhat toned-down and less `provocative' language of the decree, this was certainly an unprecedentedly bold programme. Its demands went far beyond the bounds of what was acceptable for bourgeois democracy; it ignored without hesitation the customs of traditional diplomacy, and dealt with the peoples themselves, rather than with the governments.
Of course, as such it had to face the bitter resistance of all its opponents (and occasionally even from within its own ranks), and it is very profitable to see how Lenin dealt with this opposition.
Initially, people tried to ascribe to him the idea that the Russian front-line soldiers should simply `stick their bayonets in the ground', abandon the front and in this way `end' the war.
Lenin indignantly rejected this interpretation of his politics. On 10 April 1917, he wrote:
'The war cannot be ended "at will". It cannot be ended by the decision of one of the belligerents. It cannot be ended by "sticking your bayonet into the ground", as one soldier, a defencist, expressed it.'
This was either an anarchist or pacifist idea, which did not perceive the necessary connection between the economic organisation of society and politics. The Bolsheviks were not anarchists. They knew that the slogan `Down with the war' could only be realized through the transfer of state-power to another class, i.e. only through a `revolution in several countries'. The objection was therefore pure demagogy.[I43]
Even more meaningless (and more malicious) was the insinuation that the Bolsheviks were striving simply for a separate peace with the Central Powers! This is a
`vile slander, fabricated by the capitalists', for: 'We consider the German capitalists to be as predatory as the Russian, British, French, and other capitalists, and Emperor Wilhelm II to be as bad a crowned brigand as Nicholas II or the British, Italian, Rumanian and all other monarchs.'
Lenin turns on his socialist opponents:
`when you reject a separate peace treaty, saying you don't want to serve the German imperialists, you are perfectly right, and that is why we, too, are against a separate peace treaty. Yet in effect, and in spite of yourselves, you continue to serve the Anglo-French imperialists, for 'the tsarist treaties remain, and they, too, help to plunder and strangle other peoples.
For this very reason, `Coming to terms with Russian capital within the Russian Provisional Government' also represented a 'separate peace'! Moreover, Mensheviks and the Social-Revolutionaries were for the restoration of the status quo, - which also amounted to a separate peace, since only the Central Powers would be prepared to agree to a peace on the basis of the status quo ... Lenin concludes:
`We do not want a separate peace with Germany, we want peace for all nations, we want the victory of the workers of all countries over the capitalists of all countries' 
'The first step we should take if we had power would be to arrest the biggest capitalists and cut all the threads of their intrigues. ... Our second step would be to declare to all people over the head of their governments that we regard all capitalists (of all countries - RR) as robbers' 
and that a truly democratic peace could only be won in the struggle against the ruling classes.
But would the imperialists of the Central Powers and the Entente submit without resistance to a democratic peace imposed on them by the masses? - Of course not! In the final analysis, therefore, the question must be resolved by means of the revolution of the working classes in Europe as a whole. We saw how in his `Several Theses' of 1915 Lenin had already stressed the necessity and probability of a `revolutionary war' against imperialism. From the March Revolution of 1917 onwards this idea becomes a constant theme of his speeches and articles. In his `Farewell Letter to the Swiss Workers' (8 April 1917) he says about this possibility:
`We would be forced to wage a revolutionary war against the German - and not only the German - bourgeoisie. And we would wage this war. We are not pacifists. We are opposed to imperialist wars over the division of spoils among the capitalists, but we have always considered it absurd for the revolutionary proletariat to disavow revolutionary wars that may prove necessary in the interests of socialism.'
But would the Soviet Republic be capable of taking up armed struggle against the imperialist Great Powers? Lenin's revolutionary optimism leads him to consider the matter in all too rosy a light: Should the Russian working class seize power, he declared on 20 June 1917, then their example would be followed
`inevitably, perhaps not tomorrow (revolutions are not made to order), but inevitably all the same by the workers and all the waking people of at least two great countries, Germany and France. For both are perishing, the first of hunger, the second of depopulation. Both will conclude peace on our terms, which are just, in defiance of their capitalist governments ... (But - RR) should the capitalists of England, Japan and America try to resist this peace, the oppressed classes of Russia and other countries will not shrink from a revolutionary war against the capitalists. In this war they will defeat the capitalists of the whole world, not just those of the three countries lying far from Russia, and taken up with their own rivalries. The road to a just peace lies before us. Let us not be afraid to take it.'
Even more confident is the tone of the 'Draft resolution on the present political situation' (16 September 1917), drawn up by Lenin:
'If, however, the highly improbable were to happen and the capitalists were to reject the peace terms of the Russian workers' government, against the will of their peoples, a revolution in Europe would become a hundred times nearer, and our workers' and peasants' army would elect for itself not hated but respected commanders and military leaders. The army would see the justice of the war once peace had been offered, the secret treaties torn up, the alliance with the land-owners and the bourgeoisie severed, and all land given to the peasants. Only then would the war become a just war for Russia, only this war would the workers and peasants fight of their own free will, without being bludgeoned into fighting; and this war would bring even nearer the inevitable workers' revolution in-the advanced countries.'
And lastly, in his article 'The Tasks of the Revolution' (written 9-10 October 1917), Lenin declared:
`Such peace terms will not meet with the approval of the capitalists but they will meet with such tremendous sympathy on the part of all the peoples and will cause such a great world-wide outburst of enthusiasm and of general indignation against the continuation of the predatory war that it is extremely probable that we shall at once obtain a truce and a consent to open peace negotiations. For the workers' revolution against the war is irresistibly growing everywhere ... If the least probable thing happens, i.e. if not a single belligerent state accepts even a truce, then as far as we are concerned the war becomes truly forced upon us, it becomes a truly just war of defence. If this is understood by the proletariat and the poor peasantry Russia will become many times stronger even in the military sense, especially after a complete break with the capitalists who are robbing the people; furthermore, under such conditions it would, as far as we are concerned, be a war in league with the oppressed classes of all countries, a war in league with 4, the oppressed peoples of the whole world, not in word, but in deed.'
We have quoted so extensively so that the reader who knows of Lenin's powerful revolutionary conception, is also made aware of the weak points of this conception.
For, in reality, many things happened in a completely different way! In the first place, Lenin's hopes of immediate help from the West- and Central European proletariat were plainly far. too optimistic and way off the mark. True, the unbearably long war of position not only cut down millions of young lives and hurled the popular masses of the belligerent countries into unspeakable misery; it also created an explosive social and political situation without precedent, which by any reckoning should have turned into a revolution against capital and against the imperialist bourgeoisie. What was lacking (and what was necessarily lacking, as a consequence of the decades of peaceful-reformist development which had preceded the war) was a conscious social force, which would direct the process of awakening the tortured masses and set it on a precise course. The left-socialist elements of the former International were far too weak and inexperienced to be able to fulfil this historic role. So in the final analysis the bourgeoisie, and the social-democratic parties allied to it, succeeded in overcoming the - apparently fatal - crisis of European  capitalism, and crushing the hopes of a socialist revolution in the West, which appeared to Lenin and his comrades as the real and most important aim of their endeavours. 
In this way one precondition for the 'revolutionary war' - spoken of in such glowing terms by Lenin - was not met. Equally fallacious was his expectation that the millions in the army inherited from Tsarism would be transformed - solely through the election of 'commanders not hated, but respected' - into a new, revolutionary army! The Bolshevik leaders only learnt this through bitter historical experience, which made them realize that a revolutionary army could only be built on the ruins of the old army. Of course, the idea of simply 'sticking your bayonet in the ground' - hadn't the slightest connection with the tactics and aspirations of the Bolshevik Party, and it was nothing but a demagogic trick to saddle them with it. Yet, this idea did correspond to the mentality of broad masses of soldiers, who - in abandoning the front - 'voted with their feet for peace', and left the young Soviet Republic defenceless at the most critical moment of its existence ... It would be foolish, of course, not to realise that these soldiers had the horrors of three years of carnage behind them, and that the Provisional Government lead by Kerensky did everything to disappoint their hopes of peace! On the other hand it would be very unwise to forget that later on the Bolshevik Party succeeded under Trotsky's direction in creating out of the same manpower, in an amazingly short time, a new Red Army, fully prepared for battle, However: in the first months of its existence the Soviet Republic was practically defenceless and could not therefore entertain the remotest thoughts of an armed struggle against the imperialist powers. In this way the second precondition for a 'revolutionary war' was removed.
A direct consequence of both these facts - the failure of the western proletariat and the failure of the soldier-masses - was that the Soviet Republic was forced to do precisely what earlier on the Bolsheviks had indignantly rejected - that is, it had to agree to the conditions of the Brest peace-treaty dictated by German imperialism ... True, it was forced to do so by the hostile attitude of the Entente as well as by the anti-revolutionary politics of social-democracy in the Central Powers - and it would be unworthy of a historian to forget this even for a moment. On the other hand, in the space of eight months the Soviet state was able to free itself - as a result of the collapse of German and Austrian imperialism —from the conditions of this 'peace'. Nevertheless the Brest peace-treaty already indicated the obstacles standing in the way of the Russian Revolution spreading to the West, which finally brought about its tragic isolation.
In this sense, that is in the sense of a historical necessity which no-one foresaw, the conclusion of this treaty must be regarded as a `weak point' in Lenin's conception of the course of the Russian revolution.
Of course, it would be quite wrong to argue that the 'narrow constraints' placed on the Russian Revolution which we have just described went unnoticed by Lenin and other Bolsheviks, and that they did not pose problems for them. Quite the contrary.
It is well-known that among the leaders of the Bolshevik party before the November revolution there was a minority[1591 led by Kamenev and Zinoviev), which was against seizing power. It based its opposition to the revolution precisely by referring to these 'narrow- constraints'. Kamenev and Zinoviev's statement of 24 October 1917 read:
`They say: 1. The majority of the people in Russia are already on our side and 2. the majority of the international proletariat is on our side. Alas! Neither one nor the other is true, and that is the whole point.
In Russia we have the majority of the workers and a considerable section of the soldiers on our side. But all the rest are doubtful. We are all convinced, for example, that if things now get as far as the Constituent Assembly elections, the peasants will vote in the main for the Social Revolutionaries.(160] What is this then - chance? The masses of the soldiers support us not for the cry of war but for the cry of peace. This factor is extremely important and if we do not take account of it we risk building all our calculations on sand. lf, after taking power now and alone, we are faced (because of the world situation as a whole) with the need to wage a revolutionary war, the soldier masses will leave us in a rush ...
Kamenev and Zinoviev go on to argue that it is claimed that:
`the majority of the international proletariat now supports us. Unfortunately, it is not so. The revolt in the German navy has enormous significance as a symptom. The first signs of a serious movement exist in Italy. But from this to any active support of proletarian revolution in Russia, declaring war on the whole bourgeois world, is still a very long way. It can do great harm to overestimate one's strength. There is no doubt that much is given to us and much is required of us. But if we stake everything now and suffer defeat, we will also be striking a cruel blow at the international proletarian revolution, which is growing extremely slowly but undoubtedly growing all the same. And yet it is only the growth of revolution in Europe which would make it obligatory for us, with no hesitation at all, to take power into our hands immediately. This is also the only guarantee of victory for a proletarian rising in Russia. It will come but it is not here yet.'
It is not the task of this work to offer idle reflections on the correctness or incorrectness of the course Lenin set for armed insurrection. (This question was settled by history itself). We are only concerned here with the arguments used by Kamenev and Zinoviev against the possibility of a 'revolutionary war' being waged by the future Soviet government. And on this point, both sides were clearly right. In the first weeks and months of its existence, the Soviet Republic could not initially organise an effective army against external enemies, nor could it count on active support from the proletariat of Central and Western Europe in a 'revolutionary war'. However important both these factors may have seemed to the leaders of the Bolshevik Party, they were not decisive, that is, they could not be the preconditions, the necessary conditions for the insurrection. (This is 'why in Lenin's polemic against Kamenev and Zinoviev they played only a subordinate role). The really decisive fact was that the revolutionary situation in September and October could not be prolonged at will - it was pressing towards a violent and final solution. For the most part, politics - and this is especially true in critical and revolutionary periods - consists of the ability to make decisions. If therefore the Bolshevik party had let slip the historic opportunity offered to them, the crisis of state and society would have been resolved in one way or another by Russian (and foreign) reaction. In those weeks, Lenin tirelessly warned his party of the dangers threatening the revolution and the country: on the one hand, of the danger of a separate peace between the counterrevolution and German imperialism (a reactionary variant of the Brest peace!); on the other hand of the 'wave of anarchy, which could become stronger than us' . He correctly emphasised the fact that if the Soviet government brought peace to the country, 'no power on earth would be able to overthrow (this) government. From this point of view, both the temporary military- defencelessness of Soviet Russia and the inactivity of the Western working class (in the eyes of Lenin and Trotsky, equally temporary) had to be tolerated as a necessary evil.
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1. The attitude of the Rumanian revolutionary Chr. Rakovsky is the best example of this confusion. Rakovsky; who (like Lenin) thought the first report that the German social-democracy had agreed to war credits was a falsification (Rominia muncotiare 9, 16, and 20 August 1914) was by 27 August writing in the same newspaper:
`Apart from the direct aggression of Austro-Hungary, all the other states only stepped onto the stage of war because of previous treaty agreements... The Serbs, Belgians and French are engaging in legitimate self-defence, and thus the role of socialists there is clear: they have to play a part in defending their countries.'
(Rakovsky forgets here the exemplary internationalist attitude of the Serbian deputies Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch)
`You may find Herve's declaration exaggerated when he demands that he be allowed to enlist in the first regiment marching to the border, ... fundamentally, however, we all agree with Herve's gesture....
'But for German Social Democracy, it is a matter of answering a practical question as well as a question of principle. 30% or perhaps even more of the German army is under the influence of the socialist movement. So the actions of the Party do have an effect on the combativity of these reservists. Once war had been declared, German Social Democracy could not allow any of its actions-such as the rejection of war-credits - to bring about the demoralisation of these socialist soldiers ... ' (Quoted from K Grünberg Die Internationale and der Weltkrieg 1916 p277-80)
Let us not forget, however, that at the beginning of the World War Fr. Adler justified the social-patriotic attitude of his party with the 'scientific-philosophical' proposition! ... the nation, like any organism, must above all ensure its survival'. (quoted by R. Luxemburg in the Internationale April 1915 p18. Rosa Luxemburg, Selected Political Writings. Jonathan Cape London 1972 p202, whole article p197-210.)
2. Lenin 'The Collapse of the Second International' CW Vol 21 p218.
3. Lenin 'Socialism and War' CW Vol 21 p299 and 'Lectures on "The Proletariat and the War"' CW Vol 36 p297.
4. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p299. Of course the last sentence referred mainly (though not exclusively) to the countries of Asia and Africa which were subjugated and plundered by imperialism (today Latin America would also be added): `In India and China, too, class conscious proletarians could not take any other path but the national one, because their countries have not yet been formed into national states. If China had to carry on an offensive war for this purpose, we could only sympathise with her because objectively it would be a progressive war ... ' (`The Proletariat and the War' op cit p299). And in another passage: 'For example, if tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, or India on Britain, or Persia or China on Russia, and so on, these would be "'just" and "defensive" wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slave-holding and predatory "Great" Powers.' ('Socialism and War' op cit p300-1).
5. Ibid p299.
6. Ibid p304 - The same standpoint, i.e. the necessity of a historical-materialist consideration of all wars was strongly emphasised by L Trotsky in his work on The War and the International, written in September 1914. (This appears under the title The Bolsheviki and World Peace in the translation of this work published in New York in 1918, p126-7. Re-issued as The War and the International Young Socialist Publication Colombo 1971 p33-4. All quotes are taken from the latter, though both references are given, the first referring to the 1918 edition. Trans. note).
7. However, the programme of the nation state 'was carried out (completely - RR) only in France at the time of the great revolution, for in the national and political heritage left to Europe by the feudal Middle Ages, this could be accomplished only by revolutionary measures. In the rest of Europe this nationalisation, like the revolutionary movement as a whole, remained the patchwork of half-kept promises.' R Luxemburg: 'The Junius Pamphlet: the Crisis of the German Social Democracy' in Rosa Luxemburg Speaks, Pathfinder 1970 NY pp306-7.
8. Lenin and Zinoviev's programmatic text 'Socialism and War' op cit p299-300.
9. C.f. for example the differences between Marx-Engels and Lassalle (as regards the Italian war of 1859) and between Marx-Engels and Liebknecht-Bebel (as regards the Franco-German war of 1870).
10. C.f. the identical line of thought in Trotsky op cit p236; 76.
11. Lenin op cit p303.
12. Here in particular, says Lenin, is a demonstration of Clausewitz's theorem, that war is 'only a continuation of politics by other means'.
13. Lenin ibid - c.f. 'A Separate Peace' CW Vol 23 p126: 'England is fighting to rob Germany of her colonies and to ruin her principal competitor, who has ruthlessly outrivalled her by his superior technique, organisation and commercial drive—and so thoroughly that England could not retain her world domination without war. Germany is fighting because her capitalists consider themselves - and rightly so - entitled to the 'sacred' bourgeois right to world supremacy in looting and plundering colonies and dependent countries ... '
14. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p306.
15. Lenin 'The Proletariat and the War' op cit p299.
16. Lenin 'The Conference of the RSDLP Groups Abroad' CW Vol 21 p159.
17. Lenin 'The Collapse of the Second International' op cit p236. (Lenin knew of the existence of this treaty only from the-very inadequate - press-reports of the time).
18. 'If the idea of a "war of defence" has any meaning at all,' writes Trotsky - 'it certainly applied to Serbia in this instance. Nevertheless, our friends, Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch, unshaken in their conviction of the course of action that they as Socialists must pursue, refused the government a vote of confidence. The writer was in Serbia at the beginning of the war. In the Skuptchine, in an atmosphere of indescribable 'national enthusiasm', a vote was taken on the war credits. The voting was by roll-call. Two hundred members had all answered "yes". Then in a moment of deathlike silence came the voice of the Socialist Ljaptchevitch - "No". Everyone felt the moral force of this protest and the scene remained indelibly impressed upon my memory.' Op cit p48;4. (The war Trotsky is referring to here is the First Balkan War of 1912 -IL)
19. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p303.
20. Ibid p305.
21. One is reminded of the grotesque 'independence' of the Belgian Congo, and of the total intransigence of the Anglo-Belgian mining-interests in the Katanga province! [In the early 1960s there were differences within and between Belgian and US imperialisms about how best to undermine the Congolese struggle for independence. Sections of Belgian imperialism, wanting to preserve a colonial solution, organised the secession of the richest part of Congo - Katanga. The neo-colonial solution, promoted by the US government, with the help of Belgian socialists, finally prevailed. See also note 98. SP]
22. Lenin 'British Pacifism & British Dislike of Theory' CW Vol 21 p262. For a more detailed amount of this episode see K Zilliacus Mirror of the Past. A History of Secret Diplomacy 1946.
23. R Luxemburg spoke scornfully on this occasion of 'the long forgotten chords that were sounded by Marx in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung,' which suddenly rang out in the German socialist press. Rosa Luxemburg Speaks op cit p288.
24. One is reminded that at that time the social-democratic 'Chemnitzer Volksstimme' honoured Hindenburg as 'the neat unconscious instrument of the Russian Revolution'! Quoted by Trotsky, op cit p84, p19.
25. Lenin: 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy' CW Vol 21 p27-8. 'And if the Revolution should even gain the upper hand under such circumstances (the defeat of Russia in the war - IL)' - wrote Trotsky in the previously mentioned pamphlet- `then the bayonets of the Hohenzollern armies would be turned on the Revolution. Such a prospect can hardly fail to paralyse Russia's revolutionary forces; for it is impossible to deny the fact that the party of the German proletariat stands behind the Hohenzollern bayonets.' Op cit 1918 p87-8; 20 (emphasis added by RR). How precisely was this gloomy forecast fulfilled early in 1918!
26. (This phrase does not appear in the reference given by Rosdolsky but is in 'On the National Pride of the Great Russians' CW Vol 21 p103.)
27. Lenin 'The Russian Brand of Südekum' CW Vol 21 p121.
28. Lenin 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy' CW Vol 21 p32. However the war may end, it says in another passage, it 'will bring humanity fresh oppression of hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in the colonies, in Persia, Turkey and China...' 42. (Lenin 'Appeal on the War' CW Vol 22 p368)
29. Russian social-democrat, Menshevik.
30. 'Russia is fighting for possession of Galicia, which she needs, in particular, to throttle the Ukrainian people (for Galicia is the only place where the Ukrainians have, liberty - relatively of course) ...' Lenin 'A Separate Peace' op cit p126.
31. Lenin 'The Social Chauvinists' Sophisms' CW Vol 21 p187.
32. Lenin 'Letter to A.G. Shlyapnikov, 17 October 1914' CW Vol 35 pp162-3
33. Lenin 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy' op cit p32-3.
34. Moreover, only this situation made it possible for the Poles etc, as a result of the First World War to regain their independence.
35. Lenin 'A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism' CW Vol 23 p33-4.
36. Lenin 'Socialism and War' Op cit p301-2.
37. Ibid p303 and 305-6.
38. We find the following in the work of the American historians Ch and M Beard: 'At the same time secret agreements, made long before 1914, between Russia, France and Great Britain, were unearthed by historians working in the archives of Russia, Germany and Austria thrown open to researchers by revolutions in all those countries. On the basis of clear documentary evidence scholars dissected the myth, propagated by those powers, that Germany was wholly responsible for inaugurating the war; that on Germany must be placed all the war guilt; that the governments of Great Britain, France and Russia united by the secret agreements were administered by innocent civilians suddenly and unexpectedly attacked by a blood thirsty villain. By reading copies of these diplomatic documents, scholarly works in European history founded on them or the publicity given to the findings, literate Americans in large numbers learned something of the innumerable lies, deceptions and frauds perpetrated by the governments of Czarist Russia, Great Britain and France, as well as of the Central Powers, at the expense of their own peoples and other nations. The gleaming mirage that pictured the World War as purely or even mainly a war for democracy and civilisation dissolved beyond recognition. Countless Americans who in 1915-18 yearned for a 'brave new world: at the conclusion of the war were disheartened by the proofs of sinister purposes running against their dreams.' A Basic History of the United States, 1944, p442.
The authors only forget to add that the oily peace-propaganda of W Wilson, made in the tone of a Presbyterian preacher, was essentially no different from the 'lies, deceptions and frauds' of his allies, and that Wilson's hypocrisy was only possible because the imperialist interests of North America lay at that time not so much in Europe and the Mediterranean as in Latin America and the Pacific ...
39. Just before the outbreak of the First World War Lenin wrote in his famous study of 'The Right of Nations to Self-Determination': 'In Austria, this revolution (the bourgeois-democratic revolution - RR) began in 1848 and was over in 1867 ... Therefore, in the internal conditions of Austria's development ... there are no factors that produce leaps and bounds, a concomitant of which might be the formation of nationally independent states ... (There was) a striving on the part of the Hungarians and then of the Czechs, not for separation from Austria, but, on the contrary, for the preservation of Austria's integrity ... Owing to this peculiar situation, Austria assumed the form of a dual state, and she is now (? - RR) being transformed into a triple state (Germans, Hungarians, Slays).' Lenin CW Vol 20 p406-7. (We quote Lenin's work from R Luxemburg's Selected Speeches and Writings as published in the GDR, in which it (along with several other essays by Lenin - and even Stalin!) is taken up as a sort of antidote to the spirit of `Luxemburgism' - added by RR).
40. See the pamphlet by Trotsky, in which he reiterates the fact that the 'chaotic Austro-Hungarian State' presents 'the most reactionary picture in the very heart of Europe', and describes it as 'the Turkey of Central Europe' op cit 1918 pp55 59 63; 7 8 11.
41. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p315.
42. How far-reaching and systematic the plans of Wilhelm's diplomacy and of the Wilhelmine 'Supreme Command' were for European conquest, as regards Belgium, Poland, the Balkans, etc, and how tenaciously they stuck to these plans right to the end of the war, can be seen on every page of the comprehensive study based on archive material by Frj Fischer Der Griff nach der Weltmacht Düsseldorf 1962. Translated as Germany's aims in the First World War, Chatto & Windus London 1967.
43. We quote here the relevant section of Deutscher's work (unfortunately he failed to quote extensively from Trotsky's draft-article which is so important): 'The tentative shapeless text of the article suggests that his mind was in a ferment and that he was trying to modify an old idea of his or to produce a new one. He had until quite recently expounded "revolutionary defeatism", as Lenin had done during the First World War, telling the workers that their task was not to defend any imperialist fatherland, be it democratic or fascist, but to turn the war into a revolution. But now, after the Nazis had conquered virtually the whole of Europe and while the British and American working classes were reacting to this with militant anti-fascism, he felt that the mere repetition of the old formulae was of no use. "The present war, as we have stated on more than one occasion, is the continuation of the last war. But a continuation is not a repetition (but) a development, a deepening, a sharpening:" Similarly, the continuation of the Leninist policy of 1914-17' should not be mere repetition, but development, deepening. Lenin's revolutionary defeatism had rendered the Bolshevik party immune to the fetishes of bourgeois patriotism; but- contrary to a widespread belief - "it could not win the masses who did not want a foreign conqueror." The Bolsheviks gained popular support not so much by their "refusal to defend the bourgeois fatherland" as by the positive aspects of their revolutionary agitation and action. Marxists and Leninists in this war must realise this, he concluded.' And a few days before, Trotsky wrote in an article dealing with the introduction of universal conscription in the USA: '(We say - RR) you, workers, wish to defend ... democracy. We ... wish to go further. However, we are ready to defend democracy with you only on condition that it should be a real defence, and not a betrayal in the Petain manner.' I Deutscher The Prophet Outcast p501-2. (The article 'How to really defend democracy' appears in Writings 1939-40 Pathfinder 1973 pp344-345. Here p345. IL).
44. See the previously mentioned Junius Pamphlet op cit p257-331 .
45. The shortcomings of Luxemburg's book, which was already criticised by Lenin in 1916, will be discussed in the next section. As for Trotsky's pamphlet we have already emphasised a number of times its clearly revolutionary and internationalist character. Yet there is one passage in this text, where Trotsky declares that it is 'France's duty, to protect her territory and independence against the German offensive', although just a few pages further on he condemns the French social-patriots, 'who, when the war began, put on -their red trousers and set about liberating Germany' op cit pp98-109;24-27. The followers and biographers of Trotsky keep quiet about this passage, as if such vacillations arising from momentary impressions could be held against the memory of the great revolutionary.
46. R. Luxemburg is here referring to the famous declaration by the German social-democratic parliamentary-fraction in the Reichstag session of 4 August 1914.
47. Rosa Luxemburg Speaks op cit p268-9. The sentence ‘The action of the proletariat ... historical process’ has been omitted from the Pathfinder translation.
48. ‘Socialism is the first popular movement in the world’ - she continues- ‘that has set itself a goal and has established in the social life of man a conscious thought, a definite plan, the free will of mankind.’ Ibid p269. It was no accident, that in contrast to the totally quietist theoreticians of Austro-Marxism (K Kautsky, O Bauer, R Hilferding), all the revolutionary Marxists (Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht) stressed the ‘voluntarist’ element of the materialist conception of history.
49. The only issue of the magazine Internationale, published by R Luxemburg, Mehring, C Zetkin among others, appeared early in 1915, that is, one year before the publication of the Junius Pamphlet.
49a. On the other hand it must be remembered, that in her essay The Rebuilding of the International, published a year earlier, R Luxemburg employed a much more exact expression – ‘social imperialism’ - to characterise the politics of the SDP. (John Riddell (ed) Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International, (Pathfinder, New York, 1986, p184-5, 189, 191).
50. Lenin 'The Junius Pamphlet' CW Vol 22 p306-7.
51. Not to be confused with Trotsky's text War and the International. September 1914.
52. Lenin 'The Collapse of the Second International' op cit p242.
53. Ibid p242-4 and p246. Of course, Lenin continues, there are other roots of opportunism: the routine of relatively ‘peaceful’ evolution, adherence to legality-to which the Western labour parties have been accustomed for a long time-fear of sharp turns (not believing in them anyway), national prejudices etc. A particular source of opportunism however is represented by organisation‑fetishism: ‘Here you have the living dialectic of opportunism: the mere growth of legal unions and the mere habit that stupid but conscientious philistines have of confining themselves to bookkeeping, have created a situation in which, during a crisis, these conscientious philistines have proved to be traitors and betrayers, who would smother the revolutionary energy of the masses.’ Ibid p252. ‘Young man’ -said Rudolf Hilferding to one of his visitors after the seizure of power by Hitler – ‘young man - governments come and go, trade unions remain’ Quoted by P M Sweezy in the book K Marx and the Close of His System NY 1949 p18.
54. Lenin particularly liked to quote the expression coined by the American Lefts ‘labour lieutenants- of the capitalist class’. (‘Letter to the Workers of Europe and America’ CW Vo1 28 p433) One of the many actual cases confirming Lenin's assertion will be found in the, chapter on the January strike in Austria. (RR refers to the other extant chapter of his work, 'The revolutionary situation in Austria in 1918 and the politics of the social-democrats - The January 1918 strike in Austria' Studien über revolutionäre Taktik Berlin 1973. Here p119).
55. ‘While capitalism persists, the proletariat will always be a close neighbour to the petty bourgeoisie. It is sometimes unwise to reject temporary alliances with the latter, but unity with them, unity with the opportunists can be defended at present only by the enemies of the proletariat or by hoodwinked traditionalists of a bygone period.’ What Next?' CW Vol 21 p111 .
56. The title of the book written by K Kautsky in 1907, in which he (for the last time) defended revolutionary Marxist positions.
57. Lenin 'The Collapse of the Second International', op cit p249. Lenin adds: ‘This definition of the tasks of the new era of international development confronts socialism which does not, of course, immediately show how rapidly and in what definite forms the process of separation of the workers' revolutionary Social-Democratic parties from the petty-bourgeois opportunist parties will proceed in the various countries. It does, however, reveal the need clearly to realise that such a separation is inevitable, and that the entire policy of the workers’ parties must be directed from this standpoint’ ibid. C.f. 'Opportunism and the Collapse of the Second International’, CW Vol 22 p113. ‘It is absurd to go on regarding opportunism as an inner-party phenomenon ... unity with the social-chauvinists means unity with one’s ‘own’ national bourgeoisie ... This does not mean that an immediate break with the opportunists is possible everywhere; it means only that historically this break is imminent, ... that history, which has led us from- "peaceful" capitalism to imperialist capitalism, has paved the way for this break. Volentem ducunt fata, nolentem trahunt (The fates leading the willing, drag the unwilling-Ed.)’
58. Gankin and Fisher The Bolsheviks and the World War op cit p195.
59. In the opinion of the Soviet historian Slutzkij (‘The Bolsheviks on German Social-Democracy in the Period of its Pre-War Crisis’ Proletarskaya Revolutsiya No 6 1930) this vacillation could largely be attributed to the factional disagreements between the Bolsheviks and the Polish Social-Democrats led by R Luxemburg. (We would lay more stress on the ‘almost unquestioning admiration’ (R Luxemburg Pathfinder edition p263) which Kautsky and the official leadership of German Social Democracy enjoyed in the Slav countries and particularly in Russia). Be that as it may, Slutzkij 's article was immediately attacked in the most vicious fashion by Stalin (this pearl of bureaucratic stupidity can be read in Book I of R Luxemburg's ‘Speeches and Writings’ printed in East Germany), and Slutzkij finally had to pay with his life for the fact that his opinion deviated from the ‘orthodoxy’...
60. L Trotsky op cit pp178-182; 53-4.
61. Ibid 1918 pp190-3; 57-8.
62. Ibid 1918 pp194-5; 58-9.
63. Ibid 1918 pp196-9; 59-60.
64. Ibid 1918 pp204-5; 63.
65. We remind the reader that Trotsky’s pamphlet was written in September 1914.
66. Ibid 1918 pp211-5; 67-8.
67. Lenin ‘Letter to Shlyapnikov October 17 1914’ CW Vol 35 p162-4.
68. Lenin ‘The Position and the Tasks of the Socialist International’ CW Vol 21 p40.
69. Lenin ‘Socialism and War’ op cit p313.
70. ‘Kautsky, Axelrod and Martov - true Internationalists' CW Vol 21 p398. C.f. also ‘The Proletariat and the War’ op cit p299; and ‘The Collapse of the Second International’ op cit p217.
71. ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’ CW Vol 22 p144 and p153 c.f. also Lenin's article ‘The "Disarmament" Slogan’ (October 1916): ‘And we do not wish to ignore the sad possibility - if the worst comes to the worst - of mankind going through a second imperialist war, if revolution does not come out of the present war, in spite of the numerous outbursts of mass unrest and mass discontent and in spite of our efforts’ CW Vol 23 p100.
72. Grünberg K Die Internationale und der Weltkrieg 1916 p.77.
73. Thus the leading article of the British Socialist Party's organ 'Justice', of 13 August 1914 stated: 'But it is useless to repine. The most we can do, either as Social-Democrats or as Englishmen, at present, is to exert all the influence we possess to bring about a reasonable peace as soon as possible: while not hampering in any way the efforts of the Government to win a speedy victory by vigorous action on land and sea.' (Ibid p186)
74. However, the practice of these parties was quite different. For example it is a well known fact that the leader of Austrian social-democracy, V Adler, not only did not object to the annexation of Russian-Poland by Austria, but wholeheartedly supported it! Hence his declaration at the plenary session of the German-Austrian social-democratic parliamentary deputies in Vienna, in mid-December 1915: '1 and others began to oppose the slogan "peace without annexations" months ago, in fact precisely with regard to Poland. We said to ourselves: the secession of Poland from Russia is a necessity, a requirement not only for Poland but also for Europe and the democratic development of Europe.' And further on: 'I would not object to England, which can well afford it, having to pay some compensation - and proletarian solidarity would not hold me back, if England (which is highly unlikely) had to pay such compensation ... My shirt is closer to me than my coat!' (Ermers M Victor Adler 1932 p331-2).
75. Letter to Shlyapnikov, 17 October 1914; Letter to Kollontai, Summer 1915 etc.
76. Lenin 'Socialism and War' CW Vol 21 p315.
77. Lenin "The question of Peace' CW Vol 21 p290.
78. Here. Lenin particularly has in mind the newspaper published in Paris at that time by Trotsky and Martov Nashe Slovo. (At that time Trotsky's position on this question was not at all clear.)
79. Lenin `The "Peace" Slogan Appraised' CW Vol 21p288-9.
80. Lenin `Proposals submitted by the Central Committee of the RSDLP to the Second Socialist Conference' CW Vol 22 p169. Lenin continues: 'One loses patience with sentimental Kautsky and Co, and their talk of a democratic peace, as if the present governments, or any bourgeois government for that matter could conclude such a peace. As a matter of fact, they (all the belligerent governments - IL) are enmeshed in a net of secret treaties … , and the content of these treaties is not accidental, ... but (was determined) by the whole course and development of imperialist foreign policy.' (`A Separate Peace' CW Vol 23 p127). The only peace that they can conclude, therefore, is an agreement as to the division of the spoils, the appropriation of colonies, the partition of Austria, of Turkey, etc, - in other words the direct opposite of a "democratic" peace! ... (`Letters from Afar' CW Vol 23 p336).
81. Lenin 'B1ancism' CW Vol 24 p35.
82. It goes without saying that the policy of a `democratic peace' had a very good meaning in the 19th century, in the pre-imperialist period of capitalism. Thus, for example Bismarck could have refrained from annexing Alsace-Lorraine, without threatening the bourgeois-capitalist character of the Prussian state. (‘The Peace Programme' CW Vol 22 p162-3).
83. Lenin 'A Separate Peace' op cit p128 and 'Letters from Afar' op en p336. - `Either tomorrow or the day after' - Lenin wrote to Shlyapnikov on 14 November 1914 - 'The peace slogan will be taken up by the German bourgeoisie and especially by the German opportunists.' (Gankin and Fisher The Bolsheviks and the World War - The Origin of the Third International, 1940 p188). This prediction of Lenin's, as we know from the history of the First World War, was soon to be fulfilled to the letter!
84. Lenin `The main German opportunist work on the war' CW Vol 21 p271; 'The State of affairs in Russian Social Democracy' CW Vol 21 p285. In this context Lenin referred to two pamphlets by prominent German social-chauvinists, David (1915) and Scheidemann (1916). The second pamphlet bore the significant title Long live peace!
85. Lenin 'The Peace Programme' CW Vol 22 p167.
86. Lenin 'The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution' CW Vol 24 p21-2. The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution' CW Vol 24 p67.
87.Lenin 'The Question of Peace' CW Vol 21 p293.
88. Lenin 'Proposals submitted ... ' op cit p174.
89. Very often it was just a matter of consciously misleading `public opinion'. Thus one finds in the memoirs of the English secret agent in Russia, Lockhart, the following delightful story about the French socialist minister Thomas: 'One service, which seemed important at the time, he (Thomas - RR) rendered to the Allies. The Soviets, at this moment were engaged in abstract discussions about peace terms. They had invented the formula of "peace without annexations and contributions", and this phrase, adopted at thousands of meetings in the trenches and in the villages, had spread like wildfire throughout the country. It was a formula which caused considerable annoyance and even anxiety to the English and French Governments, which had already divided up the spoils of a victory not yet won, in the form both of annexations and contributions. And both the French Ambassador and Sir George Buchanan (the English Ambassador in Russia - RR) had been requested to circumvent this new and highly dangerous form of pacifism. Their task was delicate and difficult. There seemed no way out of the impasse, and in despair they sought the advice of Thomas (who was at that time in Petersburg - RR). The genial socialist laughed: "I know my socialists," he said. "They will shed their blood for a formula. You must accept it and alter its interpretation." So annexations became restitutions and contributions reparations.' (Lockhart, Bruce British Agent p181-2).
90. Look at Ireland!
91. Lenin 'Proposals submitted ... ' op cit p175.
92. The exception concerns the Polish and the Dutch Lefts, who for doctrinaire reasons rejected the slogan 'the right of nations to self-determination'. (See the devastating critique of their view in Lenin's essay `The Right of Nations to Self-determination').
93. Thus for example the Vienna conference of Austrian and German social-democracy (12-13 April 1915) also demanded inter al 'the recognition of 'the right of nations to self-determination'. What the participants in the conference understood by this was only a 'right to self-determination within the framework of the state', in other words a direct negation of the right to secede, for those nations subjugated by the two monarchies ... it is not surprising that right up to the fall of the monarchy, Austro-German social democracy could support the so-called 'Austro-Polish solution' of the Polish question, 'that is the annexation of Russian Poland with Kaiser Karl as 'Polish king', and that V Adler himself declared at a party-conference on 13 September 1917: 'Austria is having great victories. Our armies are stationed far into Italy. Indeed, they shall not take Trieste from us (!) (Ermers, op cit p348-9). The contempt with which the spokesmen of Austro-German social-democracy regarded the Slav peoples rebelling against Austrian imperialism, can best be observed in the leading articles of the Arbeiter-Zeitung. On 2 August 1914, two days before the ominous capitulation of German social democracy, this newspaper wrote: 'And now for the sake of semi-barbaric (!) Serbia, a war of destruction has to be let loose between the noblest civilised nations of the continent. This is real madness ... a continent must go up in flames, the fruits of centuries of civilisation must be trampled in filth and blood, so that on some river in the Balkans, whose name no civilised person can even pronounce, the tsar of all the Russians can proclaim himself the undisputed protector and master of his borders.' It is obvious that for 'social democrats' who felt and thought in such a chauvinist manner, the 'right to self-determination' of the non-German peoples of the monarchy could only be an empty phrase.
94. Lenin 'The Peace Programme' op cit p167 and 'The Question of Peace' op cit p291. (c.f. 'Proposals submitted ... ' op cit p175-6 and 'Speech on the attitude towards the provisional Government' CW Vol 25 pp22-3.)
95. Lenin 'Mandate to Deputies of the Soviet Elected at Factories and Regiments' CW Vol. 24 p355; and 'The Tasks of the Revolution' CW Vol 26 p62.
96. It must be admitted, that the Soviet Republic of the years 1918-21 - hard-pressed by imperialist intervention and fighting for its very existence - was not always able to adhere to the principles of Lenin's nationalities-programme and (with regard to Georgia and the Ukraine) was guilty of a number of ruthless acts which would have been better not committed! However, such ruthlessness can be explained by the perilous situation faced by the young Soviet Republic. They are not to be placed on the same footing as the oppression of the non-Russian nations carried out later by Stalin and his followers, in which the original principles of Lenin's policy towards the nationalities were turned into their direct opposite.
97. Ibid p62.
98. This brings to mind the role which the leader of the Belgian socialists H Spaak recently played during the so-called liberation of the Congo. [RR is referring to the ‘Congo Crisis’ – i.e. independence struggle and its neo-colonial betrayal - of 1960-65. Spaak had ties with Belgian and US business groups supportive of a neo-colonial solution. According to the official historian of the US Department of State: 'U.S. efforts to persuade Belgium to withdraw its personnel and mercenaries from the Congo began to offer promise after a new government took office in late April with Paul-Henri Spaak as Vice Premier and Foreign Minister. U.S. officials found Spaak far more cooperative and forthcoming than his predecessor ...' Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-63, Vol. XX, Congo Crisis, 95/01/13. Spaak’s role is discussed in David N. Gibbs, The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis, Chicago, 1991, pp114ff and passim. SP]
99. Lenin 'The Question of Peace' op cit p29 I -2.
100. Ibid p293.
101. 'Socialists' - it says in Lenin's well-known treatment of 'the right of nations to self-determination' - 'cannot achieve their great aim without fighting against all oppression of nations. They must, therefore, unequivocally demand that the Social-democratic parties of the oppressor countries (especially of the so-called "Great" Powers) should recognise and champion the oppressed nation's right to self-determination, in the specifically political sense of the term i.e. the right to political secession. The socialist of a ruling or a colonial nation who does not stand for that right is a chauvinist ... In their turn, the socialists of the oppressed nations must unfailingly fight for complete unity of the workers of the oppressed and oppressor nationalities (this including organisational unity). The idea of the juridical separation of one nation from another (the so-called "cultural-national autonomy" advocated by Bauer and Renner - RR) is reactionary.' (`Socialism and War' op cit p316-7)
102. Lenin 'The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination' CW Vol 21 p409.
103. Lenin 'A Deal With the Capitalists or Overthrow of the Capitalists?', CW Vol 24, p517.
104. Lenin ibid.
105. The resolution of the London Conference of the Allied Socialists (14 February 1915) might serve as an example here. It stated: 'While inflexibly resolved to fight until victory is achieved to accomplish this task of liberation, the socialists are none the less resolved to resist any attempt to transform this defensive war into a war of conquest ... On the conclusion of the war the working classes of all the industrial countries must unite in the International in order to suppress secret diplomacy, put an end to the interests of militarism and those of armament makers, and establish some international authority to settle points of difference among the nations by compulsory arbitration and to compel all nations to maintain peace.' (Gankin and Fisher, op cit p279)
106. Marx-Engels: Letter of 4 September 1867.
107. Lenin 'The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self Determination' op cit p410.
108. Lenin 'The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination' CW Vo1 22 p147 (RR's emphasis).
109. Resolution of the Kienthal Conference of 8 May 1916 (Gankin and Fisher op cit p421-2).
110. Lenin 'A Turn in World Politics' CW Vol 23 p267-8.
111. Lenin 'The "Disarmament" Slogan' CW Vol 23 p95-7. Elsewhere Lenin says: 'The war cannot be ended by an "agreement" among the socialists of the various countries, by the "action" ("proclamations": Kundgebungen - IL) of the proletarians of all countries, by the "will" of the peoples, and so forth. All the phrases of this kind ... are nothing but idle, innocent and pious wishes ... All this is Blancism, fond dreams ... ' (`The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution' op cit p66-7).
112. For the text of the resolution, see Gankin and Fisher op cit p73.
113. Ibid p70.
114. Luxemburg R 'The Junius Pamphlet: The Crisis in the German Social Democracy' in Rosa Luxemburg Speaks Pathfinder p329-30 c.f. also the theses of the 'International' group at the Third Zimmerwald Conference (September 1917) - Gankin and Fisher ibid p678.
115. Lenin CW Vol 23 p229-30.
116. Here Lenin is thinking mainly of the resolutions of the Stuttgart and Basle Congresses of the Second International (1907 and 1912), in which the threat was made to the ruling-classes, 'that the mere thought of the monstrosity of a world-war would inevitably call forth the indignation and the revolt of the working class.' (c.f. Gankin and Fisher op cit p59 and 84).
117. Lenin 'The Impending Catastrophe and how to combat it' CW Vol 25 p359.
118. C.f. Rosdolsky 'Imperialist War and the Question of Peace' (Part I) in Revolutionary,Communist 8 p36-7 [i.e Part 1, above].
119. Lenin 'Lecture on "The Proletariat and the War" ' CW Vol 36 p297-302.
120. In December 1915, V Adler declared: 'I really would like everything to go on its calm, orderly way again ... , the well-ordered class struggle!' (Ermers, op cit p332 - all emphasis by RR).
121. Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.
122. Lenin 'The Conference of the RSDLP Groups Abroad' CW Vol 21 p161.
123. We read in his article 'The Slogan of Civil-War Illustrated': 'On January 8 (New Style), Swiss papers received the following message from Berlin: "Of late the press has repeatedly carried reports of peaceable attempts made by men in the German and French trenches to enter into friendly relations. According to Tagliche Rundschau, an army order dated December 29 (1914 - RR) bans any fraternisation and any kind of intercourse with the enemy in the trenches. Disregard of this order is punishable as high treason." ... The British Labour Leader of January 7, 1915, published a series of quotations from the British bourgeois press on instances of fraternisation between British and German soldiers, who arranged a "forty eight hour truce" at Christmas, met amicably in no-man's land, and so on. The British military authorities issued a special order forbidding fraternisation.' (CW Vol 21 p181).
124. Ibid p181-2.
125. Lenin `Socialism and War' op cit p314.
126. That was the reason why Lenin did not succeed in convincing the majority of the participants at the Zimmerwald Conference (beginning of September 1910, that the slogan supporting fraternisation at the front must be inserted in the resolutions of the Conference; they were not prepared to go as far as that. (c.f. the draft-resolution of the "Zimmerwald Lefts" reproduced in Gankin and Fisher op cit p356).
127. We leave aside here the great `rebellion' of the French frontline troops, which broke out in May and June 1917 as a reaction to the March Revolution in Russia. As a result of the immaturity and weakness of the French socialist Lefts, it remained unsuccessful.
128. Lenin 'The Petrograd City Conference of the RSDLP (Bolsheviks) CW Vol 24 p150-1 and 165-6.
129. The appeal mentioned here was published in the Bolshevik Pravda at the beginning of May 1917.
130. Lenin 'The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP(b)' CW Vol 24 p268-9.
131. Lenin 'The Significance of Fraternisation' CW Vol 24 p318.
132. See Gankin and Fisher op cit p585-6.
133. Dealt with in a later chapter (of the book planned, but uncompleted by RR on the Brest-Litovsk treaty - Ed)..
134. Written in October-November 1918.
135. Lenin 'The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky' CW Vol 28 p283-4.
136. In the same 'Several Theses' it also says: 'The most correct slogans are the "three pillars" (a democratic republic, confiscation of the landed estates and an eight-hour working day), with the addition of a call for the workers' international solidarity in the struggle for socialism and the revolutionary overthrow of the belligerent governments and against the war ... The task confronting the proletariat of Russia is the consummation of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia in order to kindle the socialist revolution in Europe.' (Emphasis by RR) (As one can see, there is not yet any talk here of the socialist transformation, of Russia itself). (op cit p401-2)
137. C.f. Lenin's article 'A Separate Peace' (6 November 1916): 'And if the European proletariat cannot advance to socialism now, cannot cast off the social-chauvinist and Kautskyite yoke in the course of this rust great imperialist war, then East Europe and Asia can advance to democracy with seven-league strides only if tsarism is utterly smashed and deprived of all possibility to pursue its semi-feudal type imperialist policy.' (op cit p 133).
138. Lenin 'Several Theses' CW Vol 21 p403-4. Even earlier, Lenin wrote to Shlyapnikov (Letter of 23 August 1915): 'People (the social-patriots - RR) say: What will "you" do, if "you", the revolutionaries, defeat tsarism? I reply: 1) our victory will fan the flames of the "Left" movement in Germany a hundredfold; 2) if "we" defeated tsarism completely, we would propose peace to all the belligerent powers on democratic terms and if this were rejected, we would conduct a revolutionary war.' (CW Vol 35 p204-5; quoted in Gankin and Fisher op cit p206).
139. Lenin 'Letters from Afar' CW Vol 23 p337-8.
140. On 17 and 31 March; 8 April; mid May; September 1917. The additional conditions which are mentioned here referred to the withdrawal of troops, not only from all territories occupied during the war, but also from all nationally-disputed areas, as well as to the cancellation of war-debts. The first of these demands played a very great role in the Brest negotiations, but only in relation to the German-occupied, former Russian areas.
141. Sometimes Lenin also stated that the Soviet Government would engage in peace-negotiations directly with the people them selves. Thus he wrote to Hanecki on 30 March 1917: `Only the proletariat is capable, if it rids itself of the influence of its national bourgeoisie, of winning the genuine confidence of the proletarians of all the belligerent countries, and entering into peace negotiations with them.' (CW Vol 35 p311) However, this remark is certainly not to be taken literally.
142. Ten months later in Brest, Trotsky had to resort to precisely this course of action (i.e. unilateral ending of the war) ...
143. Lenin 'The Tasks of the proletariat in Our Revolution' op cit p66; 'Speech in favour of the resolution on the War' CW Vol 24 p264.
144. Lenin 'The Petrograd City Conference of the RSDLP (Bolsheviks)' op cit p164.
145. Lenin 'First All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies' (Speech on the War) CW Vol 25 p33-4. `Neither a separate peace with the Germans, nor secret treaties. with the Anglo-French capitalists!' was one of the slogans at the Bolshevik July-demonstration in Petrograd.
146. Lenin ‘First All Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldier’s Deputies’ CW Vol. 25, p34; ‘To the Soldiers and Sailors’ CW 24, p125.
147. Lenin CW Vol 25 p22 (Speech on the attitude towards the Provisional Government).
148. We found in Lenin's writings from this period (8 months) at least 20 examples of his calling for a revolutionary war.
149. Lenin 'Farewell Letter to the Swiss Workers' CW Vol 23 p370.
150. Lenin 'Is there a way to a just peace?' CW Vol 25 p56.
151. Lenin 'Draft Resolution on the present political situation' CW Vol 25 p319.
152. Lenin 'The Tasks of the Revolution' CW Vol 26 p63. Lenin continues: 'As to the possibility of the Russian people being threatened with, war by their present Allies, it is obviously absurd to assume that the French and Italians could unite their armies with those of the Germans and move them against Russia who offers a just peace. As to Britain, America, and Japan, even if, they were able to declare war against Russia (which for them is extremely difficult, both because of the extreme unpopularity of such a war among the masses and because of the divergence of material interests of the capitalists of those countries over the partitioning of Asia, especially over the plunder of China), they could not cause Russia one-hundredth part of the damage and misery which the war with Germany, Austria, and Turkey is causing her! (ibid p53-4)
153. Luxemburg R wrote in her Junius Pamphlet `The bloodletting of the June battle laid low the French labour movement for a decade and a half. The bloodletting of the Commune massacre again threw it back for more than a decade. What is happening now is a massacre such as the world has never seen before, that is reducing the -labouring population in all of the leading nations to the aged, the women and the maimed; a bloodletting that threatens to bleed white the European labour movement ... But here is proof also that the war is not only a grandiose murder, but the suicide of the European working class. The soldiers of socialism, the workers of England, of France, of Germany, of Italy, of Belgium are murdering each other at the bidding of capitalism, are thrusting cold, murderous irons into each others' breasts, are tottering over their graves, grappling in each others' death-bringing arms.' (op cit p327-8).
154. The role of social-democracy in preserving both state and regime during the First World War was so great that we will have to devote a special chapter to it (in the book planned by RR - Ed).
155. We emphasise: European, for at that time North-American capitalism was not in a crisis threatening its existence, on the world. was just preparing to begin its domination of the world.
156. 'If the proletariat gains power' wrote Lenin in September 1917 'it will have every chance of retaining it and of leading Russia until there is a victorious revolution in the West.' (`The Russian Revolution and Civil War' CW Vol 26 p40-1). And in 1918: `The Russian proletariat clearly realises that an essential condition and prime requisite for its victory is the united action of the workers of the whole world, or of several capitalistically advanced countries.' ('Report delivered at a Moscow Gubernia Conference of Factory Committees' CW Vol 27 p545). 'The complete victory of the socialist revolution in one country alone is inconceivable and demands the most active co-operation of• at least several advanced countries, which do not include Russia' (`Extraordinary Sixth All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Cossacks' and Red Army Deputies' CW Vol 28 p151).
157. C.f. p 52 this text (Lenin's polemic against Kautsky).
158. In August 1918 Lenin wrote: 'It is difficult to imagine anything more disgusting than the hypocrisy with which the Anglo-French and American bourgeoisie are now "blaming" us for: the Brest Treaty. The very capitalists of those countries which.. (by agreeing to general peace-negotiations - RR) could have turned the Brest negotiations into general negotiations for a general peace are now our "accusers'! The Anglo-French imperialist vultures, who have profited from the plunder of colonies and the slaughter of nations, have prolonged the war for nearly a whole year after Brest, and yet they "accuse" us, the Bolsheviks, who proposed a just peace to all countries, they accuse us, who tore up,. published and exposed to public disgrace the secret, criminal treaties concluded between the ex-tsar and the Anglo-French. capitalists.' (Letter to American Workers' CW Vol 28 p65).
159. It must be emphasised that without the revolutionary determination of Lenin and Trotsky, this minority would very soon have become a majority.
160. This claim soon proved to be correct. But it should not be forgotten that in October all Russia was in the grip of a mighty wave of peasant insurrections against the nobility, that therefore in practice the peasantry was against the Social Revolutionaries (or at least against the centre and right wing of this party). From the standpoint of the maturity 'of the revolution, this was decisive.
161. Quoted in The Bolsheviks and the October Revolution Pluto Press 1974 p91-2.
162. Lenin: 'Letter to the Comrades' (29-30 October 1917).
163. Translated by IL: Lenin Coll Works XXI/2 p122, XXI/1 p69.
164. Lenin 'The Russian Revolution and Civil War' CW Vol 26 p41. (c.f. 'The Bolsheviks must assume power' CW Vol 26 p19)