Notes to Clara Zetkin’s Article “International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart”
Published in October 1907 in the collection Zarnitsy, issue I, St. Petersburg. Printed from the text of the collection.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 201.2-203.
At the Stuttgart Congress, Lenin first met and got to know Clara Zetkin, who, together with other Left-wing German Social-Democrats, stood up for the tactics of revolutionary Marxism, and opposed the opportunists and revisionists.
A translation of Clara Zetkin’s article “International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart” was edited by Lenin, who also supplied the notes, explaining the questions on which there had been a struggle against the opportunist section of the Congress delegates.
Clara Zetkin’s article was published in the Bolshevik miscellany Zarnitsy (Summer Lightning). p. 201
International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart *)[edit source]
. . .
*) This article is a translation of an editorial in the German Social-Democratic fortnightly Die Gleichheit (Equality), which is edited by Clara Zetkin and is the organ of the women’s labour movement in Germany. The assessment of the Stuttgart Congress is here given with remarkable correctness and talent: clear, concise and bold propositions sum up the tremendous ideological context of the Congress debates and resolutions. For our part, we add several notes to this article to indicate to the Russian reader some facts coming from the West-European socialist press, facts largely distorted by our Cadet and semi-Cadet newspapers (like Tovarishch), which have told many lies about the Stuttgart Congress. . . .
The question of relations between the Social-Democrats and the trade unions went best to show the unanimity of class-conscious proletarians of all countries. No one any longer objected in principle against the basic historical tendency of the proletarian class struggle—to connect as closely as possible the political and the economic struggle, and also organisations in both, into a single force of the socialist working class. Only the representative of the Russian Social-Democrats, Plekhanov, and the majority of the French delegation fell back on rather unsatisfactory arguments *) in an effort to justify some restrictions on this principle by referring to the special conditions prevailing in their countries.
. . .
*) The Russian Social-Democratic delegation in Stuttgart had a preliminary discussion of the questions in sub stance with a view to appointing its representatives to the commission. In the commission on relations between the trade unions and the socialist parties, Plekhanov did not represent all the Russian Social-Democrats, but only the Mensheviks. Plekhanov went into the commission to stand up for the principle of “neutrality”. The Bolsheviks sent Voinov to the commission and he stood up for the Party’s view, i.e., the decision in the spirit of the London Congress against neutrality, and for the closest contacts between the trade unions and the Party. Consequently, Clara Zetkin regarded as “unsatisfactory” the arguments not of the RSDLP representative, but of the representative of the Menshevik opposition in the RSDLP . . .
And here, ultimately, the revolutionary energy and indomitable faith of the working class in its own fighting capacity won out, on the one hand, over the pessimistic credo of its own impotence and hidebound stand for the old and exclusively parliamentary methods of struggle, and on the other, oversimplified anti-militarist sport of the French semi-anarchists à la Hervé.*)
. . .
*) The author of the article, while contrasting the two deviations from socialism rejected by the Congress: Hervé’s semi-anarchism, and opportunism, included in the “exclusively parliamentary” forms of struggle, fails to name any spokesmen of this opportunism. In the commission of the Stuttgart Congress, on the question of militarism, the same antithesis was made by Vandervelde when he objected to the opportunist speech of Vollmar. Vollmar hints at Hervé’s expulsion, said Vandervelde, but I protest, against this and warn Vollmar, because the expulsion of the extreme Left wingers would suggest the idea of expelling the extreme Right-wingers (Vollmar is one of the most “Rightist” German opportunists). . . .
Finally, on the question of women’s suffrage as well, the sharply principled class standpoint, which regards women’s suffrage as nothing but an organic part of the proletariat’s class right and class cause, won out over the opportunist bourgeois view which hopes to wheedle out of the ruling classes a mutilated and curtailed suffrage for women.*)
. . .
*) At the Congress in Stuttgart, this bourgeois stand point was backed only by an Englishwoman from the Fabian Society (a quasi-socialist organisation of British intellectuals taking an extremely opportunist stand). . . .
At the same time, the Congress—confirming the resolution of the International Women’s Conference on this point—stated unequivocally that in their struggle for suffrage the socialist parties must put forward and uphold the principled demand for women’s suffrage, regardless of any “considerations of convenience”.*)
. . .
*) A hint at the Austrian Social-Democrats. Both at the International Socialist Women’s Conference and in the Congress committee dealing with the women’s question, there was a polemic between the German and the Austrian Social-Democratic women. Clara Zetkin had earlier reproached the Austrian Social-Democrats in the press for pushing into the background the demand for women’s suffrage in their agitation for electoral rights. The Austrians put up a very lame defence, and Victor Adler’s amendment, which very cautiously conducted “Austrian opportunism” in this question, was rejected in the commission by 12 votes to 9.
- Die Gleichheit (Equality)—a Social-Democratic fortnightly, an organ of the women’s labour movement in Germany, and then of the international women’s movement; published at Stuttgart from 1890 to 1925; from 1892 to 1917 it was edited by Clara Zetkin. p. 201
- Tovarishch (Comrade)—a bourgeois daily published in St. Petersburg from March 15 (28), 1906, to December 30, 1907 (January 12, 1908). The paper was nominally independent, but was in fact an organ of the Left-wing Cadets. Among those who worked closely with the paper were S. N. Prokopovich and Y. D. Kuskova. Mensheviks also contributed to the paper. p. 202