Letter to the Editors of Nashe Slovo, February 9, 1915
|Written||9 February 1915|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 21, pages 125-128.
Nashe Slovo (Our Word)—a Menshevik daily published in Paris from January 1915 to September 1916, instead of the newspaper Gobs.
Lenin’s letter to the newspaper was written in reply to the Nashe Slovo editors’ proposal for joint action against social patriotism, in connection with the forthcoming London conference of Entente Socialists. Lenin agreed to the proposal and submitted a draft declaration addressed to the London Conference. He criticised the social-chauvinist position of the Menshevik Organising Committee and the Bund, whom the Nashe Slovo editors had approached with the same proposal. Nashe Slovo’s editors did not accept Lenin’s declaration, but drew up one of their own.
Following the London Conference, the Nashe Slovo editors again proposed to the Central Committee of the RSDLP that a joint conference of “internationalists” be held so as to define the attitude towards the war and the social-chauvinists. In his reply to the Nashe Slovo editors dated March 10 (23), 1915 (see pp. 165-68 of this volume), Lenin laid down a number of fundamental conditions for a union of genuine internationalists. Since the Nashe Slovo editors came out in defence of the Organising Committee and the Bund, Lenin discontinued the talks.
Nashe Slovo’s attempts at unification ended in an “ideological-political fiasco”, as Lenin put it. Lenin discussed this question in the following works published herein: “On the London Conference” (pp. 178-80), “The Question of the Unity of Internationalists” (pp. 188-91), “The Collapse of Platonic Internationalism” (pp. 194-98), “The State of Affairs in Russian Social-Democracy” (pp.281-86) and “Socialism and War” (pp. 335-38).
In your letter of February 6 you proposed to us a plan of struggle against “official social-patriotism”, in connection with the proposed London conference of socialists of the “allied countries” of the Triple Entente. As you have, of course, seen from our newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat, we support that struggle in general, and are conducting it. That is why we are very glad to have received your message. and accept with pleasure your proposal for a discussion of a plan of joint action.
The conference, which is said to have been planned for February 15 (we have not yet received a single document regarding it), will perhaps be postponed until February 25 or later [judging from a letter from Huysmans, who wrote of the sitting of the Executive Commission for February 20 and of the plan for personal talks between members (the Secretary) of the Executive Commission and socialists of France, Britain and Russia]. The conference may possibly be contemplated as one, not of official members of the International Socialist Bureau, but as private meetings between individual “prominent” socialists.
That is why the contraposition to “official social-patriotism” of a “clear, revolutionary and internationalist” point of view, a contraposition which you write of and which has our full sympathy, should be prepared for all possible contingencies (both for a conference of the official representatives of parties and for a private meeting in all its forms, both for February 15 and for any later date).
For our part and in view of the desire you have expressed, we propose the following draft declaration, which contains such a contraposition (so that the declaration may be read and printed):
“The undersigned representatives of the Social-Democratic organisations of Russia (Britain, etc.) proceed from the conviction:
“that the present war is, on the part, not only of Germany and Austro-Hungary, but of Britain and France (acting in alliance with tsarism), an imperialist war, i.e., a war of the epoch of the final stage in the development of capitalism, an epoch in which bourgeois states, with their national boundaries, have outlived themselves; a war aimed exclusively at the grabbing of colonies, the plundering of rival countries, and the weakening of the proletarian movement by setting the proletarians of one country against those of another.
“Consequently it is the absolute duty of the socialists of all belligerent countries immediately and resolutely to carry out the Basle resolution, viz.:
“(1) the break-up of all national blocs and the Burgfrieden in all countries;
“(2) a call to the workers of all the belligerent countries to wage an energetic class struggle, both economic and political, against the bourgeoisie of their country, a bourgeoisie that is amassing unparalleled profits from war deliveries and makes use of the military authorities’ backing so as to gag the workers and intensify oppression of the latter;
“(3) decisive condemnation of any voting for war credits;
“(4) withdrawal from the bourgeois governments of Belgium and France, and recognition that entry into governments and voting for war credits are the same kind of treachery to the cause of socialism as is the entire behaviour of the German and Austrian Social-Democrats;
“(5) that the hand be stretched out to internationalist elements in German Social-Democracy that refuse to vote for war credits, and that an international committee be set up, together with them, for the conduct of agitation for the cessation of the war, not in the spirit of the pacifists, the Christians, and the petty-bourgeois democrats, but in inseparable connection with the propaganda and organisation of mass revolutionary action by the proletarians of each country, against the governments and the bourgeoisie of that country;
“(6) support for any attempts by the socialists of the belligerent countries to bring about contacts and fraternisation in the fighting forces and the trenches, despite the bans imposed by the military authorities of Britain, Germany, etc.;
“(7) a call to women socialists of the belligerent countries to intensify agitation in the direction indicated above;
“(8) a call for support by the entire world proletariat of the struggle against tsarism, and for support for those -Social-Democrats of Russia who have not only refused to vote for credits, but have shown disregard of the danger of persecution and are conducting socialist work in the spirit of internationalist and revolutionary SocialDemocracy.”
As for certain Social-Democratic men of letters in Russia who have come out in defence of the official social-patriotism (as, for instance, Plekhanov, Alexinsky, Maslov, and others), the undersigned disclaim all responsibility for any action or statements by them, energetically protest against the latter, and declare that, according to all available information, the Social-Democratic workers of Russia do not hold that point of view.
It goes without saying that Comrade Litvinov, our Central Committee’s official representative in the International Socialist Bureau (his address : We are sending him your letter and a copy of our reply to you. Please address him directly on all urgent matters), as he has been authorised to use his own judgement in the matter of all particular amendments, special steps in negotiations, etc.; we can merely state our complete solidarity with this comrade on all essential points.
As for the Organising Committee and the Bund, who are both represented in the International Socialist Bureau, we have grounds for apprehension that they stand for “official social-patriotism” (in its Francophile or Germanophile form, or in any other that would reconcile these two tendencies). At any rate we would appreciate your kindness in sending us both your reply (your amendments, your counter-draft of the resolution, etc.) and the reply of those organisations (the Organising Committee, the Bund, etc.) that you have already addressed or intend doing so.
With comradely greetings,
My address is:
- The London Conference of Socialists of the “allied countries” of the Triple Entente met on February 14, 1915. Its delegates represented the social-chauvinists and the pacifist groups of the Socialist parties of Britain, France, Belgium, as well as the Russian Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.
Though the Bolsheviks were not invited to the Conference, Litvinov (Maximovich) presented to the Conference the declaration of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, which was based on Lenin’s draft. The declaration demanded the withdrawal of socialists from bourgeois governments and a complete rupture with the imperialists; it called for an end to co-operation with the imperialist governments, a resolute struggle against the latter, and condemnation of voting for war credits. The chairman interrupted Litvinov as he was reading the declaration, and deprived him of the right to speak. The latter handed the declaration over to the presidium and left the Conference hail.
See Lenin’s articles “The London Conference” and “On the London Conference” (pp. 132-34, 178-80 of this volume). p. 125
- class truce.—Ed.
- M. M. Litvinov’s address is not given in the MS—Ed.
- No address is given in the MS—Ed.