Letter to Alexandra Kollontai, Not earlier than August 4, 1915

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 4 August 1915

Written not earlier than August 4, 1915
Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Sörenberg (Switzerland) to Christiania (Oslo). Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 35, pages 200-201.

Dear A. M.,

We were very glad about the statement by the Norwegians and your efforts with the Swedes.[1] It would be devilishly important to have a joint international statement by the Left Marxists! (A statement of principle is the main thing, and so far the only thing possible.)

Roland-Hoist, like Rakovsky (have you seen his French pamphlet?), like Trotsky, in my opinion, are all the most harmful “Kautskians”, in the sense that all of them in various forms are for unity with the opportunists, all in various forms embellish opportunism, all of them (in various ways) preach eclecticism instead of revolutionary Marxism.

I think your criticism of the draft declaration does not show (unless I am mistaken) any serious differences between us. I think it mistaken in theory and harmful in practice not to distinguish types of wars. We cannot be against wars of national liberation. You quote the example of Serbia. But if the Serbs were alone against Austria, would we not be for the Serbs?

The essence of the thing today is the struggle between the Great Powers for the redivision of the colonies and the subjugation of the smaller powers.

A war of India, Persia, China and so forth with Britain or Russia? Would we not be for India against Britain, etc.? To call that “a civil war” is inexact, an obvious exaggeration. It is extremely harmful to stretch the conception of civil war beyond measure, because that blurs the essence of the question: a war of hired workers against the capitalists of a particular state.

It is the Scandinavians, apparently, who are falling into a petty-bourgeois (and provincial, kleinstaatisch) pacifism, repudiating “war” in general. That is not Marxist. One has to combat this, like their rejection of the militia.

Once again greetings, and congratulations on the Norwegian declaration!



  1. This refers to the statement by the Norwegian Left Social-Democrats that, in principle, they agreed with the resolution Lenin had draft ed for the Left Social-Democrats to present at the first International Socialist Conference. The Norwegian Lefts were later supported by the Swedish Lefts.