The Balkan War and Bourgeois Chauvinism
|Written||29 March 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 39-40.
The Balkan War is coming to an end. The capture of Adrianople is a conclusive victory for the Bulgarians, and the problem’s centre of gravity has shifted from the theatre of operations to that of the squabbles and intrigues of the so-called Great Powers.
The Balkan War is one link in the chain of world events marking the collapse of the medieval state of affairs in Asia and East Europe. To form united national states in the Balkans, shake off the oppression of the local feudal rules and completely liberate the Balkan peasants of all nationalities from the yoke of the landowners—such was the historic task confronting the Balkan peoples.
The Balkan peoples could have carried out this task ten times more easily than they are doing now and with a hundred times fewer sacrifices by forming a Federative Balkan Republic. National oppression, national bickering and incitement on the ground of religious differences would have been impossible under complete and consistent democracy. The Balkan peoples would have been assured of truly rapid, extensive and free development.
What was the real historical reason for settling urgent Balkan problems by means of a war, a war guided by bourgeois and dynastic interests? The chief cause was the weakness of the proletariat in the Balkans, and also the reactionary influence and pressure of the powerful European bourgeoisie. They are afraid of real freedom both in their own countries and in the Balkans; their only aim is profit at other people’s expense; they stir up chauvinism and national enmity to facilitate their policy of plunder and to impede the free development of the oppressed classes of the Balkans.
Russian chauvinism over the Balkan events is no less disgusting than that of Europe. And the concealed, prettified chauvinism of the Cadets, coloured with liberal phrases, is more disgusting and more harmful than the crude chauvinism of the Black-Hundred newspapers. Those newspapers openly attack Austria—in that most backward of European countries the peoples (say we in parenthesis) are ensured far greater liberty than in Russia. The Cadet Rech, however, said on the occasion of the capture of Adrianople: “The new circumstances give Russian diplomacy every opportunity of showing greater firmness....”
Fine “democrats”, who pretend not to understand that the only firmness that can be spoken of here is firmness in the pursuit of chauvinist aims! No wonder Milyukov and Yefremov, Guchkov, Bennigsen, Krupensky and Balashov got on well together at a dinner given by Rodzyanko on March 14. Nationalists, Octobrists, Cadets—these are but different shades of the disgusting bourgeois nationalism and chauvinism that are irrevocably hostile to liberty.