Letter to Sergo Ordzhonikidze, July 11, 1927

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Defeatism' and Clemenceau

… What is defeatism? It is a policy which aims at contributing to the defeat of “one’s own” state, which is in the hands of the enemy class. Any other understanding and interpretation of defeatism would be a falsification. Thus, for instance, if someone says that the political line of the ignorant and dishonest hand-book-pushers should be swept out as so much rubbish in order to speed the victory of the proletarian state, he does not thereby by any means become a “defeatist.” On the contrary, under the given concrete circumstances he would be the real spokesman for the policy of revolutionary defense of one’s own country; ideological rubbish does not bring victory.

Quite instructive examples in this respect may be found in the history of other classes. I will cite only one of them. The French . bourgeoisie at the outset of the imperialist war had at its head a government without rudder or sails. The Clemenceau group was in opposition to that government. In spite of the war and the military censorship, in spite even of the fact that the Germans were within eighty kilometers of Paris (Clemenceau said “precisely because of that”) Clemenceau conducted a furious struggle against the weak-kneed and wavering petty-bourgeois policies, and for imperialist ferocity and ruthlessness. Clemenceau did not betray his class, the bourgeoisie; on the contrary, he served it more faithfully, more firmly, decisively, and wisely, than did Viviani, Painlev6, and Company. This was shown by the subsequent course of events. The Clemenceau group came to power, and by a more consistent, a more predatory imperialist policy, it secured the victory of the French bourgeoisie. Were there any commentators in France who put the label of “defeatists” on the Clemenceau group? No doubt there were: fools and gossips will be found among the camp followers of all classes. But they are not always given the opportunity to play an equally important part.