Either sacrifice all civilisation and perish
throw off the capitalist yoke in the revolutionary way, do away with the rule of the bourgeoisie and win socialism and durable peace !
MESSAGE OF THE COMINTERN (SH)
ON OCCASION OF THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY
OF WORLD WAR I
JULY 28, 1914 – JULY 28, 2014
100 years have passed since the beginning of World War I (1914-1918). For us, Stalinist-Hoxhaists, and for all the world proletarians, workers and exploited and oppressed classes, the events of a hundred years ago and the world undoubtedly deserve to remain a central topic of study and learning. We must unmask the bourgeois-revisionist media which spread the ideology of pacifism on occasion of this historical event. Pacifism paves the way towards ideological preparation of new imperialist wars. It is the same still ruling class which instigated WWI and which wages new imperialist wars today - the world bourgeoisie. It is necessary to explain the class-character of imperialist war and thus the necessity of the world proletarian war as the utter means of global proletarian class-struggle.
The World War I was initially known only by the designation of the Great War - until 25 years later world imperialism-capitalism unleashed a second major military conflict of even larger proportions. The Great War was an imperialist war, it was a reflection of the inter-imperialist rivalries and contradictions between the great powers of its time. Comrade Stalin noted that:
“You remember how the First World War arose. It arose out of the desire to re-divide the world. (…) There are capitalist states which consider that they were cheated in the previous redistribution of spheres of influence, territories, sources of raw materials, markets, etc., and which would want another redivision that would be in their favour. Capitalism, in its imperialist phase, is a system which considers war to be a legitimate instrument for settling international disputes, a legal method in fact, if not in law.” (Stalin, Interview Between J. Stalin and
Roy Howard, 1936, edition in English)
The WWI was fought mostly in the European continent and profoundly altered the political map, leading to the collapse of four of the major reactionary empires that had marked the world for decades or even centuries: the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Tsarist Russia, the German Empire, created after the unification of Germany in 1871, and the Ottoman Empire. But if World War I marked the end of a determined epoch of capitalist-imperialist world, there would also be an event occurring during it that changed forever the history of mankind: the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, led by the Bolshevist Party of comrades Lenin and Stalin, and which gave birth to the first socialist state of proletarian dictatorship in the world and to the first big step towards the global elimination of societies based on class domination, violence, oppression and exploitation.
World War I was an huge slaughter that lasted for more than four years. Although estimates differ, the total number of deaths, military and civilian, must have been about 20 million (!!). The imperialist powers in confrontation were almost all European, the so-called “civilized Western nations” like England, France, Tsarist Russia and later the U.S., on one side; and Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, on the other side. The decades leading up to the war were marked by a great development of capitalism and mostly by its advancement towards its imperialist and monopolist stage. Of course, because imperialism necessarily means War, all this also meant that the weaponry also knew enormous advances, had become more devastating, with more deadly consequences for the working peoples.
Imperialism confirmed the full power of its first modern war machine. But the description of the horror that affected the proletariat, workers and other exploited and oppressed classes of Europe in the early twentieth century would become frighteningly common in the following decades, until the present day and always in the future while world capitalist-imperialist system dominated by the global bourgeois class exists.
As we have already mentioned, the outbreak of the First World War had a profound impact on the labor movement. For example, with the social-chauvinist betrayal of the anti-socialist Second International, with the struggle against the opportunist and pro-Kautkyist, centrist-reconciliationist “2 and ½ International”, with the subsequent formation of the glorious Leninist-Stalinist III International, and also because it contributed to the creation of political, social and historical conditions that led to the October Revolution of 1917. This sequence of events was not by chance. It was coherent and was intrinsically linked with the most important characteristic of the historical period of imperialism – being the eve of the socialist world revolution.
It is in the work of comrade Lenin, in particular in the analysis of imperialism and of the process of world sharing "between capitalist trusts” that the immense tragedy of WWI finds key elements of understanding. Comrade Lenin defined imperialism when this was already at the stage of military aggression and occupation of territories and through the analysis of the “degree of global concentration of capital and production”.
It was Lenin and the most consistent sector of the workers’ movement linked with the Bolshevists - which produced more profound and consequent analysis to explain the Great War and its entire “civilized barbarism”. Seeing beyond the mere pretexts and appearances of that epoch, comrade Lenin gives a lesson in application of fundamental theoretical concepts of Marxism with the reality of their time, and uses these theoretical tools to explain what others have described as the 'sleepwalking' with the major European powers marching inexorably toward the great conflict of 1914-18. Far from being asleep, already in 1912, two years before the war broke out, the Basle Congress of the Socialist International (then still linked to the labor movement) warned against the real danger of the outbreak of imperialist war and called for the fight against that catastrophe.
It was also during the war (1916) that comrade Lenin wrote his classic work "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, which systematizes the analysis allowing to understand the real essence of the events that were then lived. For Lenin, the war was inseparable from capitalism in its imperialist phase. With timeless words, Lenin wrote:
“Imperialism is the highest stage in the development of capitalism, one that has been reached only in the twentieth century. Capitalism began to feel cramped within the old national states, without the formation of which it could not overthrow feudalism. Capitalism has brought about such economic concentration that entire branches of industry are in the hands of syndicates, trusts, or corporations of billionaires; almost the entire globe has been parceled out among the "giants of capital" either in the form of colonies, or through the entangling of foreign countries by thousands of threads of financial exploitation.” (Lenin, Socialism and War, 1915, edition in English)
But Lenin called the attention to the fact that this trend toward expansion will inevitably lead to conflicts between the imperialist powers, especially because “inequality of capitalist development is an absolute law of capitalism". This can be applied to the situation of Germany, which had arrived too late at national unification and was left behind in terms of colonization. However, it was the imperialist power that was at the time experiencing the most intense development in economic terms, and demanded its own "deserved place” among the great imperialist powers. The nature of imperialist wars lies in the fact that the world was already completely distributed among imperialist Great powers. Of course, this pretension of the German imperialist bourgeois class was denied by the old imperialist powers, especially by Great-Britain and France. Therefore it was unavoidable that, since then, every redistribution of the world means unavoidably imperialist war in last consequence.
Referring to the idea - already then stirred for a few - to create a 'United States of Europe", Lenin said:
“A United States of Europe under capitalism is tantamount to an agreement on the partition of colonies. Under capitalism, however, no other basis and no other principle of division are possible except force. A multi-millionaire cannot share the “national income” of a capitalist country with anyone otherwise than “in proportion to the capital invested” (with a bonus thrown in, so that the biggest capital may receive more than its share). Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production, and anarchy in production. To advocate a “just” division of income on such a basis is sheer Proudhonism, stupid philistinism. No division can be effected otherwise than in “proportion to strength”, and strength changes with the course of economic development. Following 1871, the rate of Germany’s accession of strength was three or four times as rapid as that of Britain and France, and of Japan about ten times as rapid as Russia’s. There is and there can be no other way of testing the real might of a capitalist state than by war. War does not contradict the fundamentals of private property—on the contrary, it is a direct and inevitable outcome of those fundamentals. Under capitalism the smooth economic growth of individual enterprises or individual states is impossible. Under capitalism, there are no other means of restoring the periodically disturbed equilibrium than crises in industry and wars in politics.” (Lenin, On the Slogan for a United States of Europe, 1915, edition in English)
These were the reasons which led to a major armed conflict in 1914-18. This does not mean that, then as now, the search for pretexts to justify wars was less hypocritical. Lenin wrote that:
"(…) the most widespread deception of the people by the bourgeoisie in the present war consists in hiding its predatory aims under an ideology of "national liberation." The English promise freedom to Belgium, the Germans to Poland, etc. As we have seen, this is in reality a war of the oppressors of the majority of the nations of the world for the deepening and widening of such oppression." (Lenin, Socialism and War, edition in English)
In other words, the WW I was a dispute between two groups of imperialist bandits combating to see who of them would have the “right” to accomplish profit maximization.
Despite the clear opposition to the war among the workers of Europe and despite that the revolutionary trade-unions and workers' parties at the time constituted a powerful mass movement, which were associated with millions of workers, especially in large industrial concentrations (whose role was vital, even for the conduct of war), the outbreak of World War I revealed the ugly face of reformist and opportunist social-chauvinist treason. In most countries, social-democratic parties put themselves alongside their bourgeois-capitalist-imperialist governments, voting for war credits. Lenin wrote:
“The Socialists of the whole world solemnly declared in 1912, in Basle, that they considered the coming European war a "criminal" and reactionary undertaking of all the governments, an undertaking which must hasten the breakdown of capitalism by inevitably generating a revolution against it. The war came, the crisis was there. Instead of revolutionary tactics, the majority of the Social-Democratic parties followed reactionary tactics, siding with their governments and their respective bourgeoisies. This betrayal of Socialism means the collapse of the Second (1889-1914) International.” (Lenin, Socialism and War, 1915, edition in English)
This betrayal was opposed by a few parties (especially by the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party of comrade Lenin) and by some radical left minority elements of major social-democratic parties (such as Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in the German Social Democratic Party, who refused the war-credits and paid with imprisonment their anti-war-struggle). It was this battle against imperialist war that fortified, a few years later and already under enormous influence of the October Revolution of 1917, the international communist movement. Analyzing the causes of this situation, Lenin wrote:
“During the entire period of the Second International, a struggle was going on everywhere inside of the Social-Democratic parties between the revolutionary and the opportunist wings. In a series of countries there was a split along this line (England, Italy, Holland, Bulgaria). There was no doubt in the mind of any Marxist that opportunism expressed a bourgeois policy inside of the labour movement, that it expressed the interests of the petty bourgeoisie and of the alliance of an insignificant section of bourgeois-like workers with "their own." bourgeoisie against the interests of the mass of proletarians, the mass of the oppressed. The objective conditions at the end of the nineteenth century were such that they strengthened opportunism, turning the use of legal bourgeois opportunities into servile worship of legalism, creating a thin layer of bureaucracy and aristocracy in the working class, attracting to the ranks of the Social-Democratic parties many pettybourgeois "fellow travellers." The war hastened this development; it turned opportunism into social-chauvinism; it changed the alliance of the opportunists with the bourgeoisie from a secret to an open one. At the same time, the military authorities everywhere introduced martial law and muzzled the working mass, whose old leaders, almost in a body, went over to the bourgeoisie." (Lenin, Socialism and War, 1915, edition in English)
Correctly, the Bolsheviks took stand against war and fought for the revolutionary overthrow of the Tsarist feudal-imperialism in first place, bursting the chain of the world imperialist system at its weakest link. Lenin showed that it is the law of unevenness of development of capitalism that gives rise to imperialist wars, which undermine the strength of imperialism and make it possible to break the front of imperialism at its weakest point. Then, they went for the destruction of the bourgeois government that continued the war after the overthrow of Tsarism in the February Revolution of 1917. History has shown clearly that the revolutionary perspective was not an adventurist position but a correct assessment of the main objective condition of the war - the aggravating crisis from outside and inside the countries. From this crisis, killings and destructions through the war emanated the increasing demand of the people who wanted to bring about the end of the war and who struggled for peace against the imperialist governments. The victory of the October Revolution of 1917 confirmed the correctness of this orientation and evaluation of the correlation of forces created. The impact of the first socialist construction in the history of mankind makes this conclusion to be inescapable.
But with the end of the war, the seeds of future crises began to emerge. Under the direct impact of the October Revolution, the revolutionary crisis caused by war arrived in November 1918 to the main member of the Central Powers: Germany. On 5th November, the Revolt of the sailors of the German Navy in Kiel begun, revolutionary councils of workers and soldiers raised the red flag in many German cities. On 9th November, in Berlin, the workers marched to the barracks, disarmed the military and fraternized with the soldiers – namely under the leadership of the Spartacusbund of Berlin. The German republic was proclaimed – however it was the bourgeois and not proletarian Republic. The Kaiser is forced to abdicate and on the 11th November the armistice is signed. Also in Germany, the working classes came on the scene as protagonists of history, putting an end to the war. But the German revolution would be crushed by anti-communist violence and terror – of which the treacherous social-fascists from the SPD were among the main promoters. It was in this context that, also in Germany, the “environment” was created for the rise of Nazi-fascist form of bourgeois dictatorship which, with the indispensable promotion and sponsoring of the German and world imperialists, would submerged the world in a second global war even deadliest than WWI.
In our General-Line, we note that it is the bourgeois class itself who promotes revolutionary union and action though its imposition of war and fascism:
“The more the proletariat and poor peasants of all countries are suppressed simultaneously through militarism outwardly and fascism inwardly, the greater their resistance struggle is not only domestically, but on a global scale. It is the world bourgeoisie, which brings together involuntarily the forces against the imperialist wars, against reaction and fascism. This helps us Communists to mobilize and to organize the peace forces under the leadership of the world proletariat on a world scale.” [General-Line of the Comintern (SH), Imperialist War and World Revolution, edition in English]
In fact, during WWI, the Russian Bolshevists with comrades Lenin and Stalin at the head successfully led Russian workers and transformed Russia – that would later become Soviet Union – in the center of world revolution at the time, able to repeal even the aggression launched by world capitalists-imperialists and their Russian lackeys against it. The Russian Bolshevists turned this into a revolutionary civil war that proletarians, workers and other exploited and oppressed classes won.
Today, a century after WW I, we, Stalinists-Hoxhaists, must be an efficient vanguard of the world proletariat in preventing another world imperialist war through accomplishment of world socialist revolution, world proletarian dictatorship, world socialism and world communism always faithfully applying the teachings of Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism-Hoxhaism. However, if we are not able to do this, then we have to accomplish the transformation of world imperialist war into world revolutionary civil war for the total and definitive annihilation of globalized bourgeois-capitalist-imperialist enslaving system.
Imperialist wars emanate inevitably from imperialism. And international proletarian revolutions emanate inevitably from imperialist wars. Thus, with August 1, 1914, the world revolution emanated in 1917 the victory of the October Revolution. It was also in this context that occurred the beginning of the spreading of the October Revolution from Russia to all over the world. The October Revolution paved the way to the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the creation of the socialist world camp. The international character and significance of the October Revolution and the anti-war tactics of the Bolsheviks are still valid for us today:
“The Bolsheviks were not mere pacifists who sighed for peace and confined themselves to the propaganda of peace, as the majority of the Left Social-Democrats did. The Bolsheviks advocated an active revolutionary struggle for peace, to the point of overthrowing the rule of the bellicose imperialist bourgeoisie. The Bolsheviks linked up the cause of peace with the cause of the victory of the proletarian revolution, holding that the surest way of ending the war and securing a just peace, a peace without annexations and indemnities, was to overthrow the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie. In opposition to the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary renunciation of revolution and their treacherous slogan of preserving "civil peace" in time of war, the Bolsheviks advanced the slogan of "converting the imperialist war into a civil, war." (Stalin, History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Theory and Tactics of the Bolshevist Party on the Question of War, Peace and Revolution, 1948, edition in English)
Only the complete destruction of world imperialism is absolutely precondition for the abolition of the inevitability of imperialist wars. Our present class-struggle, our class-war against imperialist wars, can mean nothing but struggle for the victory of the socialist world revolution and the establishment of world socialism through the dictatorship of the world proletariat as the only guarantee for the abolition of the inevitability of imperialist wars.
“Stalinism-Hoxhaism - in the question of war and revolution - is the Marxist-Leninist theory and tactics of the victory over the imperialist wars by means of the world proletarian revolution under today's conditions of globalization, in general; and the theory and tactics of the armament and military world defense of the dictatorship of the world proletariat, in particular; it is – last not least - the theory and tactics of the transition to the weaponless, peaceful and classless society on a global scale – to world communism.
Stalinism-Hoxhaism is the doctrine of the liberation of the wars of world imperialism, is the doctrine of the abolition of the inevitability of world imperialist war, is the doctrine of world-proletarian class war for the final liberation from the violent rule of the world-bourgeoisie, is the doctrine of the victory of socialism over the imperialist war on a global scale, is the doctrine of the military protection of the global domination of the proletariat.” [General-Line of the Comintern (SH), Imperialist War and World Revolution, edition in English]
The victory of the socialist world revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the world proletariat – this is the only way to abolish the inevitability of imperialist wars. This is the main lesson of WWI. As comrade Enver Hoxha correctly remarked:
“... there can be an absolute guarantee of the prohibition of war only when socialism has triumphed throughout the world or, at least, in a number of other great imperialist countries.” (Enver Hoxha, Speech Delivered at the Meeting of 81 Communist and Workers' Parties in Moscow on November 16, 1960, page 138, Tirana, 1969, edition in English)
World exploited and oppressed classes – unite under the centralized leadership of the Comintern (SH)!
Strengthen the spirit of proletarian internationalism: workers do not shoot workers, peoples do not shoot peoples!
Unite under the leadership of the world proletariat in the struggle against the beginning of imperialist wars and during imperialist wars for the aim of its finish!
Vote against war credits!
Form illegal revolutionary organizations in the armed forces!
Support fraternization among the soldiers at the front, and to fraternize the peoples on a global scale!
Organize revolutionary global actions of the workers and peasants against the war!
Turn the weapons against the own bourgeoisie in all imperialist countries!
Turn the weapons against the compradore bourgeoisie in the oppressed countries who are lackeys of the imperialist war!
Unite the anti-war-struggle of the world proletariat with the liberation struggle of the oppressed and exploited peoples for the overthrow of the common enemy – world imperialism!
Liberate the peoples from capitalist slavery, liberate colonies and dependent countries from the yoke of imperialism!
Convert the imperialist war into a civil war!
War against imperialist war means waging war of the proletarian red world army against all imperialist armies of the world!
Link up the cause of world's peace with the cause of the victory of the proletarian world revolution!
To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to overthrow the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie both in one's own country and on a global scale!
The neo-revisionists are enemies of the socialist world revolution – they are thus against the only means of the abolition of imperialist wars!
To abolish imperialist wars means to abolish the imperialist world system!
Only world socialism guarantees the abolishment of the inevitability of imperialist wars!
Death to bourgeois-capitalist-imperialist system which submerges the world in blood for maximum profits!
Down with all kinds of revisionism, neo-revisionism and anti-communism!
Down with all kinds of war, fascism, capitalism, imperialism, exploitation and oppression!
Long live the 5 Classics of Marxism-Leninism: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Enver Hoxha!
Long live world socialist revolution!
Long live proletarian dictatorship all over the world!
Long live world socialism and world communism!
Long live the Comintern (SH), the only truly communist organization in the world, the only global vanguard party of the world proletariat!
The world-revolutionary struggle of the Bolsheviks against imperialist WW 1
Two questions now take precedence over all other political questions—the question of bread and the question of peace. The imperialist war, the war between the biggest and richest banking firms, Britain and Germany, that is being waged for world domination, the division of the spoils, for the plunder of small and weak nations; this horrible, criminal war has ruined all countries, exhausted all peoples, and confronted mankind with the alternative—either sacrifice all civilisation and perish or throw off the capitalist yoke in the revolutionary way, do away with the rule of the bourgeoisie and win socialism and durable peace.
If socialism is not victorious, peace between the capitalist States will be only a truce, an interlude, a time of preparation for a fresh slaughter of the peoples. Peace and bread are the basic demands of the workers and the exploited. The war has made these demands extremely urgent. The war has brought hunger to the most civilised countries, to those most culturally developed. On the other hand, the war, as a tremendous historical process, has accelerated social development to an unheard-of degree. Capitalism had developed into imperialism, i.e., into monopoly capitalism, and under the influence of the war it has become state monopoly capitalism. We have now reached the stage of world economy that is the immediate stepping stone to socialism.
The socialist revolution that has begun in Russia is, therefore, only the beginning of the world socialist revolution. Peace and bread, the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, revolutionary means for the healing of war wounds, the complete victory of socialism—such are the aims of the struggle.
Petrograd, December 14, 1917.
The Five Classics of Marxism-Leninism
General-Line of the Comintern (SH)
J. V. STALIN
History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
( Bolsheviks )
- EXCERPT -
Outbreak and causes of the imperialist WW 1
On July 14 (27, New Style), 1914, the tsarist government proclaimed a general mobilization. On July 19 (August 1, New Style) Germany declared war on Russia.
Russia entered the war.
Long before the actual outbreak of the war the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, had foreseen that it was inevitable. At international Socialist congresses Lenin had put forward proposals the purpose of which was to determine a revolutionary line of conduct for the Socialists in the event of war.
Lenin had pointed out that war is an inevitable concomitant of capitalism. Plunder of foreign territory, seizure and spoliation of colonies and the capture of new markets had many times already served as causes of wars of conquest waged by capitalist states. For capitalist countries war is just as natural and legitimate a condition of things as the exploitation of the working class.
Wars became inevitable particularly when, at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, capitalism definitely entered the highest and last stage of its development—imperialism. Under imperialism the powerful capitalist associations (monopolies) and the banks acquired a dominant position in the life of the capitalist states. Finance capital became master in the capitalist states. Finance capital demanded new markets, the seizure of new colonies, new fields for the export of capital, new sources of raw material.
But by the end of the nineteenth century the whole territory of the globe had already been divided up among the capitalist states. Yet in the era of imperialism the development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly and by leaps: some countries, which previously held a foremost position, now develop their industry at a relatively slow rate, while others, which were formerly backward, overtake and outstrip them by rapid leaps. The relative economic and military strength of the imperialist states was undergoing a change. There arose a striving for a redi-vision of the world, and the struggle for this redivision made imperialist war inevitable. The war of 1914 was a war for the redivision of the world and of spheres of influence. All the imperialist states had long been preparing for it. The imperialists of all countries were responsible for the war.
But in particular, preparations for this war were made by Germany and Austria, on the one hand, and by France and Great Britain, as well as by Russia, which was dependent on the latter two, on the other. The Triple Entente, an alliance of Great Britain, France and Russia, was formed in 1907. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed another imperialist alliance. But on the outbreak of the war of 1914 Italy left this alliance and later joined the Entente. Germany and Austria-Hungary were supported by Bulgaria and Turkey.
Germany prepared for the imperialist war with the design of taking away colonies from Great Britain and France, and the Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic Provinces from Russia. By building the Baghdad railway, Germany created a menace to Britain's domination in the Near East. Great Britain feared the growth of Germany's naval armaments.
Tsarist Russia strove for the partition of Turkey and dreamed of seizing Constantinople and the straits leading from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean (the Dardanelles). The plans of the tsarist government also included the seizure of Galicia, a part of Austria-Hungary.
Great Britain strove by means of war to smash its dangerous competitor—Germany—whose goods before the war were steadily driving British goods out of the world markets. In addition, Great Britain intended to seize Mesopotamia and Palestine from Turkey and to secure a firm foothold in Egypt.
The French capitalists strove to take away from Germany the Saar Basin and Alsace-Lorraine, two rich coal and iron regions, the latter of which Germany had seized from France in the war of 1870-71.
Thus the imperialist war was brought about by profound antagonisms between two groups of capitalist states.
This rapacious war for the redivision of the world affected the interests of all the imperialist countries, with the result that Japan, the United States and a number of other countries were subsequently drawn into it.
The war became a world war.
The bourgeoisie kept the preparations for imperialist war a profound secret from their people. When the war broke out each imperialist government endeavoured to prove that it had not attacked its neighbours, but had been attacked by them. The bourgeoisie deceived the people, concealing the true aims of the war and its imperialist, annexationist character. Each imperialist government declared that it was waging war in defence of its country.
The opportunists of the Second International helped the bourgeoisie to deceive the people. The Social-Democrats of the Second International vilely betrayed the cause of Socialism, the cause of the international solidarity of the proletariat. Far from opposing the war, they assisted the bourgeoisie in inciting the workers and peasants of the belligerent countries against each other on the plea of defending the fatherland.
That Russia entered the imperialist war on the side of the Entente, on the side of France and Great Britain, was not accidental. It should be borne in mind that before 1914 the most important branches of Russian industry were in the hands of foreign capitalists, chiefly those of France, Great Britain and Belgium, that is, the Entente countries. The most important of Russia's metal works were in the hands of French capitalists. In all, about three-quarters (72 per cent) of the metal industry depended on foreign capital. The same was true of the coal industry of the Donetz Basin. Oilfields owned by British and French capital accounted for about half the oil output of the country. A considerable part of the profits of Russian industry flowed into foreign banks, chiefly British and French. All these circumstances, in addition to the thousands of millions borrowed by the tsar from France and Britain in loans, chained tsardom to British and French imperialism and converted Russia into a tributary, a semi-colony of these countries.
The Russian bourgeoisie went to war with the purpose of improving its position: to seize new markets, to make huge profits on war contracts, and at the same time to crush the revolutionary movement by taking advantage of the war situation.
Tsarist Russia was not ready for war. Russian industry lagged far behind that of other capitalist countries. It consisted predominantly of out-of-date mills and factories with worn-out machinery. Owing to the existence of land ownership based on semi-serfdom, and the vast numbers of impoverished and ruined peasants, her agriculture could not provide a solid economic base for a prolonged war.
The chief mainstay of the tsar was the feudal landlords. The Black-Hundred big landlords, in alliance with the big capitalists, domineered the country and the State Duma. They wholly supported the home and foreign policy of the tsarist government. The Russian imperialist bourgeoisie placed its hopes in the tsarist autocracy as a mailed fist that could ensure the seizure of new markets and new territories, on the one hand, and crush the revolutionary movement of the workers and peasants, on the other.
The party of the liberal bourgeoisie—the Constitutional-Democratic Party—made a show of opposition, but supported the foreign policy of the tsarist government unreservedly.
From the very outbreak of the war, the petty-bourgeois parties, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, using the flag of Socialism as a screen, helped the bourgeoisie to deceive the people by concealing the imperialist, predatory character of the war. They preached the necessity of defending, of protecting the bourgeois "fatherland" from the "Prussian barbarians"; they supported a policy of "civil peace," and thus helped the government of the Russian tsar to wage war, just as the German Social-Democrats helped the government of the German kaiser to wage war on the "Russian barbarians."
Only the Bolshevik Party remained faithful to the great cause of revolutionary internationalism and firmly adhered to the Marxist position of a resolute struggle against the tsarist autocracy, against the landlords and capitalists, against the imperialist war. From the very outbreak of the war the Bolshevik Party maintained that it had been started, not for the defence of the country, but for the seizure of foreign territory, for the spoliation of foreign nations in the interests of the landlords and capitalists, and that the workers must wage a determined war on this war.
The working class supported the Bolshevik Party.
True, the bourgeois jingoism displayed in the early days of the war by the intelligentsia and the kulak sections of the peasantry also infected a certain section of the workers. But these were chiefly members of the ruffian "League of the Russian People" and some workers who were under the influence of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. They naturally did not, and could not, reflect the sentiments of the working class. It was these elements who took part in the jingo demonstrations of the bourgeoisie engineered by the tsarist government in the early days of the war.
* * *
The imperialist war arose owing to the uneven development of the capitalist countries, to the upsetting of equilibrium between the principal powers, to the imperialists' need for a redivision of the world by means of war and for the creation of a new equilibrium.
The war would not have been so destructive, and perhaps would not even have assumed such dimensions, if the parties of the Second International had not betrayed the cause of the working class, if they had not violated the anti-war decisions of the congresses of the Second International, if they had dared to act and to rouse the working class against their imperialist governments, against the warmongers.
The Bolshevik Party was the only proletarian party which remained faithful to the cause of Socialism and internationalism and which organized civil war against its own imperialist government. All the other parties of the Second International, being tied to the bourgeoisie through their leaders, found themselves under the sway of imperialism and deserted to the side of the imperialists.
The war, while it was a reflection of the general crisis of capitalism, at the same time aggravated this crisis and weakened world capitalism. The workers of Russia and the Bolshevik Party were the first in the world successfully to take advantage of the weakness of capitalism. They forced a breach in the imperialist front, overthrew the tsar and set up Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.
Intoxicated by the first successes of the revolution, and lulled by the assurances of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries that from now on everything would go well, the bulk of the petty-bourgeoisie, the soldiers, as well as the workers, placed their confidence in the Provisional Government and supported it.
The Bolshevik Party was confronted with the task of explaining to the masses of workers and soldiers, who had been intoxicated by the first successes, that the complete victory of the revolution was still a long way off, that as long as the power was in the hands of the bourgeois Provisional Government, and as long as the Soviets were dominated by the compromisers—the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries—the people would secure neither peace, nor land, nor bread, and that in order to achieve complete victory, one more step had to be taken and the power transferred to the Soviets.
The Bolsheviks were not mere pacifists who sighed for peace and confined themselves to the propaganda of peace, as the majority of the Left Social-Democrats did. The Bolsheviks advocated an active revolutionary struggle for peace, to the point of overthrowing the rule of the bellicose imperialist bourgeoisie. The Bolsheviks linked up the cause of peace with the cause of the victory of the proletarian revolution, holding that the surest way of ending the war and securing a just peace, a peace without annexations and indemnities, was to overthrow the rule of the imperialist bourgeoisie.
In opposition to the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary renunciation of revolution and their treacherous slogan of preserving "civil peace" in time of war, the Bolsheviks advanced the slogan of "converting the imperialist war into a civil, war." This slogan meant that the labouring people, including the armed workers and peasants clad in soldiers' uniform, were to turn their weapons against their own bourgeoisie and overthrow its rule if they wanted to put an end to the war and achieve a just peace.
In opposition to the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary policy of defending the bourgeois fatherland, the Bolsheviks advanced the policy of "the defeat of one's own government in the imperialist war." This meant voting against war credits, forming illegal revolutionary organizations in the armed forces, supporting fraternization among the soldiers at the front, organizing revolutionary actions of the workers and peasants against the war, and turning these actions into an uprising against one's own imperialist government.
The Bolsheviks maintained that the lesser evil for the people would be the military defeat of the tsarist government in the imperialist war, for this would facilitate the victory of the people over tsardom and the success of the struggle of the working class for emancipation from capitalist slavery and imperialist wars. Lenin held that the policy of working for the defeat of one's own imperialist government must be pursued not only by the Russian revolutionaries, but by the revolutionary parties of the working class in all the belligerent countries.
It was not to every kind of war that the Bolsheviks were opposed. They were only opposed to wars of conquest, imperialist wars. The Bolsheviks held that there are two kinds of war:
a) Just wars, wars that are not wars of conquest but wars of liberation, waged to defend the people from foreign attack and from attempt to enslave them, or to liberate the people from capitalist slavery, or, lastly, to liberate colonies and dependent countries from the yoke of imperialism; and
b) Unjust wars, wars of conquest, waged to conquer and enslave foreign countries and foreign nations.
Wars of the first kind the Bolsheviks supported. As to wars of the second kind, the Bolsheviks maintained that a resolute struggle must be waged against them to the point of revolution and the overthrow of one's own imperialist government.
Of great importance to the working class of the world was Lenin's theoretical work during the war. In the spring of 1916 Lenin wrote a book entitled 'Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism'. In this book he showed that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism, a stage at which it has already become transformed from "progressive" capitalism to parasitic capitalism, decaying capitalism, and that imperialism is moribund capitalism. This, of course, did not mean that capitalism would die away of itself, without a revolution of the proletariat, that it would just rot on the stalk. Lenin always taught that without a revolution of the working class capitalism cannot be overthrown. Therefore, while defining imperialism as moribund capitalism, Lenin at the same time showed that "imperialism is the eve of the social revolution of the proletariat."
Lenin showed that in the era of imperialism the capitalist yoke be comes more and more oppressive, that under imperialism the revolt of the proletariat against the foundations of capitalism grows, and that the elements of a revolutionary outbreak accumulate in capitalist countries. Lenin showed that in the era of imperialism the revolutionary crisis in the colonial and dependent countries becomes more acute, that the elements of revolt against imperialism, the elements of a war of liberation from imperialism accumulate.
Lenin showed that under imperialism the unevenness of development and the contradictions of capitalism have grown particularly acute, that the struggle for markets and fields for the export of capital, the struggle for colonies, for sources of raw material, makes periodical imperialist wars for the redivision of the world inevitable.
Lenin showed that it is just this unevenness of development of capitalism that gives rise to imperialist wars, which undermine the strength of imperialism and make it possible to break the front of imperialism at its weakest point.
From all this Lenin drew the conclusion that it was quite possible for the proletariat to break the imperialist front in one place or in several places, that the victory of Socialism was possible first in several countries or even in one country, taken singly, that the simultaneous victory of Socialism in all countries was impossible owing to the unevenness of development of capitalism, and that Socialism would be victorious first in one country or in several countries, while the others would remain bourgeois countries for some time longer.
Here is the formulation of this brilliant deduction as given by Lenin in two articles written during the imperialist war:
1) "Uneven economic and political development is an absolute law of capitalism. Hence, the victory of Socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country, taken singly. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and organized its own Socialist production, would stand up against the rest of the world, the capitalist world, attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries. . . ." (From the article, „The United States of Europe Slogan“, written in August, 1915. -- Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. V, p. 141.)
2) "The development of capitalism proceeds extremely unevenly in the various countries. It cannot be otherwise under the commodity production system. From this it follows irrefutably that Socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois for some time. This must not only create friction, but a direct striving on the part of the bourgeoisie of other countries to crush the victorious proletariat of the Socialist country. In such cases a war on our part would be a legitimate and just war. It would be a war for Socialism, for the liberation of other nations from the bourgeoisie." (From the article,“War Program of the Proletarian Revolution', written in the autumn of 1916. -- Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XIX, p. 325.)
This was a new and complete theory of the Socialist revolution, a theory affirming the possibility of the victory of Socialism in separate countries, and indicating the conditions of this victory and its prospects, a theory whose fundamentals were outlined by Lenin as far back as 1905 in his pamphlet, „Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution“.
This theory fundamentally differed from the view current among the Marxists in the period of pre-imperialist capitalism, when they held that the victory of Socialism in one separate country was impossible, and that it would take place simultaneously in all the civilized countries. On the basis of the facts concerning imperialist capitalism set forth in his remarkable book, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin displaced this view as obsolete and set forth a new theory, from which it follows that the simultaneous victory of Socialism in all countries is impossible, while the victory of Socialism in one capitalist country, taken singly, is possible.
The inestimable importance of Lenin's theory of Socialist revolution lies not only in the fact that it has enriched Marxism with a new theory and has advanced Marxism, but also in the fact that it opens up a revolutionary perspective for the proletarians of separate countries, that it unfetters their initiative in the onslaught on their own, national bourgeoisie, that it teaches them to take advantage of a war situation to organize this onslaught, and that it strengthens their faith in the victory of the proletarian revolution.
Such was the theoretical and tactical stand of the Bolsheviks on the questions of war, peace and revolution.
It was on the basis of this stand that the Bolsheviks carried on their practical work in Russia.
At the beginning of the war, in spite of severe persecution by the police, the Bolshevik members of the Duma -- Badayev, Petrovsky, Muranov, Samoilov and Shagov -- visited a number of organizations and addressed them on the policy of the Bolsheviks towards the war and revolution. In November 1914 a conference of the Bolshevik group in the State Duma was convened to discuss policy towards the war. On the third day of the conference all present were arrested. The court sentenced the Bolshevik members of the State Duma to forfeiture of civil rights and banishment to Eastern Siberia. The tsarist government charged them with "high treason."
The picture of the activities of the Duma members unfolded in court did credit to our Party. The Bolshevik deputies conducted themselves manfully, transforming the tsarist court into a platform from which they exposed the annexationist policy of tsardom.
Quite different was the conduct of Kamenev, who was also tried in this case. Owing to his cowardice, he abjured the policy of the Bolshevik Party at the first contact with danger. Kamenev declared in court that he did not agree with the Bolsheviks on the question of the war, and to prove this he requested that the Menshevik Jordansky be summoned as witness.
The Bolsheviks worked very effectively against the War Industry Committees set up to serve the needs of war, and against the attempts of the Mensheviks to bring the workers under the influence of the imperialist bourgeoisie. It was of vital interest to the bourgeoisie to make everybody believe that the imperialist war was a people's war. During the war the bourgeoisie managed to attain considerable influence in affairs of state and set up a countrywide organization of its own known as the Unions of Zemstvos and Towns. It was necessary for the bourgeoisie to bring the workers, too, under its leadership and influence. It conceived a way to do this, namely, by forming "Workers' Groups" of the War Industry Committees. The Mensheviks jumped at this idea. It was to the advantage of the bourgeoisie to have on these War Industry Committees representatives of the workers who would urge the working class masses to increase productivity of labour in the factories producing shells, guns, rifles, cartridges and other war material. "Everything for the war, all for the war" -- was the slogan of the bourgeoisie. Actually, this slogan meant "get as rich as you can on war contracts and seizures of foreign territory." The Mensheviks took an active part in this pseudo-patriotic scheme of the bourgeoisie. They helped the capitalists by conducting an intense campaign among the workers to get them to take part in the elections of the "Workers' Groups" of the War Industry Committees. The Bolsheviks were against this scheme. They advocated a boycott of the War Industry Committees and were successful in securing this boycott. But some of the workers, headed by a prominent Menshevik, Gvozdev, and an agent-provocateur, Abrosimov, did take part in the activities of the War Industry Committees. When, however, the workers' delegates met, in September 1915, for the final elections of the "Workers' Groups" of the War Industry Committees, it turned out that the majority of the delegates were opposed to participation in them. A majority of the workers' delegates adopted a trenchant resolution opposing participation in the War Industry Committees and declared that the workers had made it their aim to fight for peace and for the overthrow of tsardom.
The Bolsheviks also developed extensive activities in the army and navy. They explained to the soldiers and sailors who was to blame for the unparalleled horrors of the war and the sufferings of the people; they explained that there was only one way out for the people from the imperialist shambles, and that was revolution. The Bolsheviks formed nuclei in the army and navy, at the front and in the rear, and distributed leaflets calling for a fight against the war.
In Kronstadt, the Bolsheviks formed a "Central Collective of the Kronstadt Military Organization" which had close connections with the Petrograd Committee of the Party. A military organizatiOn of the Petrograd Party Committee was set up for work among the garrison. In August 1916, the chief of the Petrograd Okhrana reported that "in the Kronstadt Collective, things are very well organized, conspiratorially, and its members are all taciturn and cautious people. This Collective also has representatives on shore."
At the front, the Party agitated for fraternization between the soldiers of the warring armies, emphasizing the fact that the world bourgeoisie was the enemy, and that the war could be ended only by converting the imperialist war into a civil war and turning one's weapons against one's own bourgeoisie and its government. Cases of refusal of army units to take the offensive became more and more frequent. There were already such instances in 1915, and even more in 1916.
Particularly extensive were the activities of the Bolsheviks in the armies on the Northern Front, in the Baltic provinces. At the beginning of 1917 General Ruzsky, Commander of the Army on the Northern Front, informed Headquarters that the Bolsheviks had developed intense revolutionary activities on that front.
The war wrought a profound change in the life of the peoples, in the life of the working class of the world. The fate of states, the fate of nations, the fate of the Socialist movement was at stake. The war was therefore a touchstone, a test for all parties and trends calling themselves Socialist. Would these parties and trends remain true to the cause of Socialism, to the cause of internationalism, or would they choose to betray the working class, to furl their banners and lay them at the feet of their national bourgeoisie? -- that is how the question stood at the time.
The war showed that the parties of the Second International had not stood the test, that they had betrayed the working class and had surrendered their banners to the imperialist bourgeoisie of their own countries.
And these parties, which had cultivated opportunism in their midst, and which had been brought up to make concessions to the opportunists, to the nationalists, could not have acted differently.
The war showed that the Bolshevik Party was the only party which had passed the test with flying colours and had remained consistently faithful to the cause of Socialism, the cause of proletarian internationalism.
And that was to be expected: only a party of a new type, only a party fostered in the spirit of uncompromising struggle against opportunism, only a party that was free from opportunism and nationalism, only such a party could stand the great test and remain faithful to the cause of the working class, to the cause of Socialism and internationalism.
And the Bolshevik Party was such a party.
PARTIES OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL SIDE WITH THEIR IMPERIALIST GOVERNMENTS.
DISINTEGRATION OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL INTO SEPARATE SOCIAL-CHAUVINIST PARTIES
Lenin had time and again warned against the opportunism of the Second International and the wavering attitude of its leaders. He had always insisted that the leaders of the Second International only talked of being opposed to war, and that if war were to break out they would change their attitude, desert to the side of the imperialist bourgeoisie and become supporters of the war. What Lenin had foretold was borne out in the very first days of the war.
In 1910, at the Copenhagen Congress of the Second International, it was decided that Socialists in parliament should vote against war credits. At the time of the Balkan War of 1912, the Basle World Congress of the Second International declared that the workers of all countries considered it a crime to shoot one another for the sake of increasing the profits of the capitalists. That is what they said, that is what they proclaimed in their resolutions.
But when the storm burst, when the imperialist war broke out, and the time had come to put these decisions into effect, the leaders of the Second International proved to be traitors, betrayers of the proletariat and servitors of the bourgeoisie. They became supporters of the war.
On August 4, 1914, the German Social-Democrats in parliament voted for the war credits; they voted to support the imperialist war. So did the overwhelming majority of the Socialists in France, Great Britain, Belgium and other countries.
The Second International ceased to exist. Actually it broke up into separate social-chauvinist parties which warred against each other.
The leaders of the Socialist parties betrayed the proletariat and adopted the position of social-chauvinism and defence of the imperialist bourgeoisie. They helped the imperialist governments to hoodwink the working class and to poison it with the venom of nationalism. Using the defence of the fatherland as a plea, these social-traitors began to incite the German workers against the French workers, and the British and French workers against the German workers. Only an insignificant minority of the Second International kept to the internationalist position and went against the current; true, they did not do so confidently and definitely enough, but go against the current they did.
Only the Bolshevik Party immediately and unhesitatingly raised the banner of determined struggle against the imperialist war. In the theses on the war that Lenin wrote in the autumn of 1914, he pointed out that the fall of the Second International was not accidental. The Second International had been ruined by the opportunists, against whom the foremost representatives of the revolutionary proletariat had long been warning.
The parties of the Second International had already been infected by opportunism before the war. The opportunists had openly preached renunciation of the revolutionary struggle; they had preached the theory of the "peaceful growing of capitalism into Socialism." The Second International did not want to combat opportunism; it wanted to live in peace with opportunism, and allowed it to gain a firm hold. Pursuing a conciliatory policy towards opportunism, the Second International itself became opportunist.
The imperialist bourgeoisie systematically bribed the upper stratum of skilled workers, the so-called labour aristocracy, by means of higher wages and other sops, using for this purpose part of the profits it derived from the colonies, from the exploitation of backward countries. This section of workers had produced quite a number of trade union and co-operative leaders, members of municipal and parliamentary bodies, journalists and functionaries of Social-Democratic organizations. When the war broke out, these people, fearing to lose their positions, became foes of revolution and most zealous defenders of their own bourgeoisies, of their own imperialist governments.
The social-chauvinists, the Russian Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries among their number, preached class peace between the workers and the bourgeoisie at home and war on other nations abroad. They deceived the masses by concealing from them who was really responsible for the war and declaring that the bourgeoisie of their particular country was not to blame. Many social-chauvinists became ministers of the imperialist governments of their countries.
No less dangerous to the cause of the proletariat were the covert social-chauvinists, the so-called Centrists. The Centrists -- Kautsky, Trotsky, Martov and others -- justified and defended the avowed social chauvinists, thus joining the social-chauvinists in betraying the proletariat; they masked their treachery by "Leftist" talk about combating the war, talk designed to deceive the working class. As a matter of fact, the Centrists supported the war, for their proposal not to vote against war credits, but merely to abstain when a vote on the credits was being taken, meant supporting the war. Like the social-chauvinists, they demanded the renunciation of the class struggle during the war so as not to hamper their particular imperialist government in waging the war. The Centrist Trotsky opposed Lenin and the Bolshevik Party on all the important questions of the war and Socialism.
From the very outbreak of the war Lenin began to muster forces for the creation of a new International, the Third International. In the manifesto against the war it issued in November 1914, the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party already called for the formation of the Third International in place of the Second International which had suffered disgraceful bankruptcy. (underlined by the Comintern).
In February 1915, a conference of Socialists of the Entente countries was held in London. Comrade Litvinov, on Lenin's instructions, spoke at this conference demanding that the Socialists (Vandervelde, Sembat and Guesde) should resign from the bourgeois government of Belgium and France, completely break with the imperialists and refuse to collaborate with them. He demanded that all Socialists should wage a determined struggle against their imperialist governments and condemn the voting of war credits. But no voice in support of Litvinov was raised at this conference.
At the beginning of September 1915 the first conference of internationalists was held in Zimmerwald. Lenin called this conference the "first step" in the development of an international movement against the war. At this conference Lenin formed the Zimmerwald Left group. But within the Zimmerwald Left group only the Bolshevik Party, headed by Lenin, took a correct and thoroughly consistent stand against the war. The Zimmerwald Left group published a magazine in German called the Vorbote (Herald ), to which Lenin contributed articles.
In 1916 the internationalists succeeded in convening a second conference in the Swiss village of Kienthal. It is known as the Second Zimmerwald Conference. By this time groups of internationalists had been formed in nearly every country and the cleavage between the internationalist elements and the social-chauvinists had become more sharply defined. But the most important thing was that by this time the masses themselves had shifted to the Left under the influence of the war and its attendant distress. The manifesto drawn up by the Kienthal Conference was the result of an agreement between various conflicting groups; it was an advance on the Zimmerwald Manifesto.
But like the Zimmerwald Conference, the Kienthal Conference did not accept the basic principles of the Bolshevik policy, namely, the conversion of the imperialist war into a civil war, the defeat of one's own imperialist government in the war, and the formation of the Third International. Nevertheless, the Kienthal Conference helped to crystallize the internationalist elements of whom the Communist Third International was subsequently formed.
Lenin criticized the mistakes of the inconsistent internationalists among the Left Social-Democrats, such as Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, but at the same time he helped them to take the correct position.
Lenin - 1918
Is there a difference between a war of two groups of plunderers for a division of spoils and a just war for liberation from the attack of a plunderer against a people that has overthrown the plunderers?
Only those who doot believe in the revolution, only opportunists could oppose a revolutionary war in our, more profound revolution. (Lenin)
On The History Of The Question Of The Unfortunate Peace
Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 26, pp. 442-450
It might be argued that this is no time to deal with history. Certainly, this kind of assertion would be permissible if a particular question from the past were not inseparably and directly connected in practice with the present. The question of the unfortunate peace, the exceptionally harsh peace is, however, such a burning question that it calls for elucidation. I am therefore publishing my theses on this subject that were read at a meeting of about sixty of the leading Petrograd Party functionaries on January 8, 1918.
Here are these theses:
January 7, 1918.
Theses On The Question Of The Immediate Conclusion Of A Separate And Annexationist Peace
1. The position of the Russian revolution at the present moment is such that nearly all the workers and the vast majority of the peasants undoubtedly side with Soviet power and the socialist revolution which it has started. To that extent the socialist revolution in Russia is assured.
2. At the same time, the civil war, provoked by the frantic resistance of the wealthy classes, who realise full well that they are faced with the last and decisive fight for the preservation of private ownership of the land and means of production, has not yet reached its climax. The victory of Soviet power in this war is assured, but some time must inevitably elapse, no little exertion of effort will inevitably be required, a certain period of acute economic dislocation and chaos, which accompany all wars, and civil war in particular, is inevitable, before the resistance of the bourgeoisie is crushed.
3. Furthermore, this resistance, in its less active and non-military forms—sabotage, the hire of declassed elements and agents of the bourgeoisie, who worm their way into the ranks of the socialists in order to ruin their cause, and so on and so forth—has proved so stubborn and capable of assuming such diversified forms, that the fight against it will inevitably require some more time, and, in its main forms, is hardly likely to end until several months have passed. And unless this passive and covert resistance of the bourgeoisie and its supporters-is definitely crushed the socialist revolution cannot succeed.
4. Lastly, the organisational problems of the socialist transformation of Russia are so immense and difficult that their solution—in view of the numerous petty-bourgeois fellow-travellers of the socialist proletariat, and of the latter's low cultural level—will also require a fairly long time.
5. All these circumstances taken together are such as to make it perfectly clear that for the success of socialism in Russia a certain amount of time, several months at least, will be necessary, during which the hands of the socialist government must be absolutely free to achieve victory over the bourgeoisie first in our own country and to launch far-reaching mass organisational work on a wide scale.
6. The position of the socialist revolution in Russia must form the basis of any definition of the international tasks of our Soviet power, for the international situation in the fourth year of the war is such that it is quite impossible to predict the probable moment of outbreak of revolution and overthrow of any of the European imperialist governments (including the German). That the socialist revolution in Europe must come, and will come, is beyond doubt. All our hopes for the final victory of socialism are founded on this certainty and on this scientific prognosis. Our propaganda activities in general, and the organisation of fraternisation in particular, must be intensified and extended. It would be a mistake, however, to base the tactics of the Russian socialist government on attempts to determine whether or not the European, and especially the German, socialist revolution will take place in the next six months (or some such brief period). Inasmuch as it is quite impossible to determine this, all such attempts, objectively speaking, would be nothing but a blind gamble.
7. The peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk have by now—January 7, 1918—made it perfectly clear that the war party has undoubtedly gained the upper hand in the German Government (which has the other governments of the Quadruple Alliance at its beck and call) and has virtually already presented Russia with an ultimatum (and it is to be expected, most certainly to be expected, that any day now it will be presented formally). The ultimatum is as follows: either the continuation of the war, or a peace with annexations, i.e., peace on condition that we surrender all the territory we have occupied, while the Germans retain all the territory they have occupied and impose upon us an indemnity (outwardly disguised as payment for the maintenance of prisoners)—an indemnity of about three thousand million rubles, payable over a number of years.
8. The socialist government of Russia is faced with the question—a question whose solution brooks no delay—of whether to accept this peace with annexations now, or to immediately wage a revolutionary war. In fact, no middle course is possible. No further postponement can now be achieved, for we have already done everything possible and impossible to deliberately protract the negotiations.
9. On examining the arguments in favour of an immediate revolutionary war, the first argument we encounter is that a separate peace at this juncture would, objectively speaking, be an agreement with the German imperialists, an "imperialistic deal", and so forth, and that, consequently, such a peace would mean a complete break with the fundamental principles of proletarian internationalism.
This argument, however, is obviously incorrect. Workers who lose a strike and sign terms for the resumption of work which are unfavourable to them and favourable to the capitalists, do not betray socialism. The only people who betray socialism are those who secure advantages for a section of the workers in exchange for profit to the capitalists; only such agreements are impermissible in principle.
He betrays socialism who calls the war with German imperialism a defensive and just war, but actually receives support from the Anglo-French imperialists, and conceals secret treaties concluded with them from the people. He does not in the least betray socialism who, without concealing anything from the people, and without concluding any secret treaties with the imperialists, agrees to sign terms of peace which are unfavourable to the weak nation and favourable to the imperialists of one group, if at that moment there is no strength to continue the war.
10. Another argument in favour of immediate war is that, by concluding peace, we objectively become agents of German imperialism, for we afford it the opportunity to release troops from our front, we surrender to it millions of prisoners of war, and so on. But this argument too is manifestly incorrect, for a revolutionary war at the present juncture would, objectively speaking, make us agents of Anglo-French imperialism, by providing it with forces which would promote its aims. The British bluntly offered our Commander-in-Chief, Krylenko, one hundred rubles per month for every one of our soldiers provided we continued the war. Even if we did not take a single kopek from the Anglo-French, we nevertheless would be helping them, objectively speaking, by diverting part of the German army.
From that point of view, in neither case would we be entirely escaping some sort of imperialist bond, and it is obvious that it is impossible to escape it completely without overthrowing world imperialism. The correct conclusion from this is that the moment a socialist government triumphed in any one country, questions must be decided, not from the point of view of whether this or that imperialism is preferable, but exclusively from the point of view of the conditions which best make for the development and consolidation of the socialist revolution which has already begun.
In other words, the underlying principle of our tactics must not be, which of the two imperialisms it is more profitable to aid at this juncture, but rather, how the socialist revolution can be most firmly and reliably ensured the possibility of consolidating itself, or, at least, of maintaining itself in one country until it is joined by other countries.
11. It is said that the German Social-Democratic opponents of the war have now become "defeatists" and are requesting us not to yield to German imperialism. But we recognised defeatism only in respect of one's own imperialist bourgeoisie, and we always discountenanced victory over an alien imperialism, victory attained in formal or actual alliance with a "friendly" imperialism, as a method impermissible in principle and generally wrong.
This argument is therefore only a modification of the previous one. If the German Left Social-Democrats were proposing that we delay concluding a separate peace for a definite period, and guaranteed revolutionary action in Germany within this period, the question might assume a different aspect for us. Far from saying this, however, the German Lefts formally declare: "Hold out as long as you can, but decide the question from the point of view of the state of affairs in the Russian socialist revolution, for we cannot promise you anything positive regarding the German revolution."
12. It is said that in a number of Party statements we actually "promised" a revolutionary war, and that by concluding a separate peace we would be going back on our word.
That is not true. We said that in the era of imperialism a socialist government had to "prepare for and wage " a revolutionary war; we said this in order to combat abstract pacifism and the theory that "defence of the fatherland" must be completely rejected in the era of imperialism. and, lastly to combat the purely selfish instincts of a part of the soldiers, but we never gave any pledge to start a revolutionary war without considering whether it is possible to wage it at a given moment.
Unquestionably, even at this juncture we must prepare for a revolutionary war. We are carrying out this promise, as we have, in general, carried out all our promises that could be carried out at once: we annulled the secret treaties, offered all peoples a fair peace, and several times did our best to drag out peace negotiations so as to give other peoples a chance to join us.
But the question whether it is possible to carry on a revolutionary war now, immediately, must be decided exclusively from the point of view of whether material conditions permit it, and of the interests of the socialist revolution which has already begun.
13. Summing up the arguments in favour of an immediate revolutionary war, we have to conclude that such a policy might perhaps answer the human yearning for the beautiful, dramatic and striking, but that it would totally disregard the objective balance of class forces and material factors at the present stage of the socialist revolution now under way.
14. There can be no doubt that our army is absolutely in no condition at the present moment, and will not be for the next few weeks (and probably for the next few months), to beat back a German offensive successfully; firstly, owing to the extreme fatigue and exhaustion of the majority of the soldiers, coupled with the incredible chaos in the matter of food supply, replacement of the overfatigued, etc.; secondly, owing to the utter unfitness of the horses and the consequent inevitable ruin of our artillery; and, thirdly, owing to the absolute impossibility of defending the coastline from Riga to Revel, which affords the enemy a very certain chance of seizing the rest of Lifland, and then Estland, and of outflanking a large part of our forces, and finally, of capturing Petrograd.
15. Further, there is not the slightest doubt that the peasant majority of our army would at the present juncture unreservedly declare in favour of a peace with annexations and not in favour of an immediate revolutionary war; the socialist reorganisation of the army, the merging of the Red Guard detachments with it, and so on, have only just begun.
With the army completely democratised, to carry on war in defiance of the wishes of the majority of the soldiers would be a reckless gamble, while to create a really staunch and ideologically stable socialist workers' and peasants' army will, at the very least, require months and months.
16. The poor peasants in Russia are capable of supporting the socialist revolution led by the working class, but they are not capable of agreeing to fight a serious revolutionary war immediately, at the present juncture. To ignore the objective balance of class forces on this issue would be a fatal error.
17. Consequently, the situation at present with regard to a revolutionary war is as follows:
If the German revolution were to break out and triumph in the coming three or four months, the tactics of an immediate revolutionary war might perhaps not ruin our socialist revolution.
If, however, the German revolution does not occur in the next few months, the course of events, if the war is continued, will inevitably be such that grave defeats will compel Russia to conclude an even more disadvantageous separate peace, a peace, moreover, which would be concluded, not by a socialist government, but by some other (for example, a bloc of the bourgeois Rada and Chernov's followers, or something similar). For the peasant army, which is exhausted to the limit by the war, will after the very first defeats—and very likely within a-matter of weeks, and not of months—overthrow the socialist workers' government.
18. This being the state of affairs, it would be absolutely impermissible tactics to stake the fate of the socialist revolution, which has already begun in Russia, merely on the chance that the German revolution may begin in the immediate future, within a matter of weeks. Such tactics would be a reckless gamble. We have no right to take such risks.
19. The German revolution will by no means be made more difficult of accomplishment as far as its objective premises are concerned, if we conclude a separate peace. Probably chauvinist intoxication will weaken it for a time, but Germany's position will remain extremely grave, the war with Britain and America will be a protracted one, and aggressive imperialism will be fully and completely exposed on both sides. A socialist Soviet Republic in Russia will stand as a living example to the peoples of all countries, and the propaganda and revolutionising effect of this example will be immense. There—the bourgeois system and a fully exposed predatory war between two groups of marauders. Here—peace and a socialist Soviet Republic.
20. In concluding a separate peace we free ourselves as much as is possible at the present moment from both hostile imperialist groups, we take advantage of their mutual enmity and warfare which hamper concerted action on their part against us, and for a certain period have our hands free to advance and to consolidate the socialist revolution. The reorganisation of Russia on the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the nationalisation of the banks and large-scale industry, coupled with exchange of products in kind between the towns and the small-peasant consumers' societies, is quite feasible economically, provided we are assured a few months in which to work in peace. And such a reorganisation will render socialism invincible both in Russia and all over the world, and at the same time will create a solid economic basis for a mighty workers' and peasants' Red Army.
21. A really revolutionary war at this juncture would be a war waged by a socialist republic against the bourgeois countries, with the aim—an aim clearly defined and fully approved by the socialist army—of overthrowing the bourgeoisie in other countries. However, we obviously cannot set ourselves this aim at the present moment. Objectively, we would be fighting now for the liberation of Poland, Lifland and Courland. But no Marxist, without renouncing the principles of Marxism and of socialism generally, can deny that the interests of socialism are higher than the interests of the right of nations to self-determination. Our socialist republic has done all it could, and continues to do all it can to give effect to the right to self-determination of Finland, the Ukraine, etc. But if the concrete situation is such that the existence of the socialist republic is being imperilled at the present moment on account of the violation of the right to self-determination of several nations (Poland, Lifland, Courland, etc.), naturally the preservation of the socialist republic has the higher claim.
Consequently, whoever says, "We cannot sign a humiliating, atrocious, etc., peace, betray Poland, and so forth", does not realise that by concluding peace on the condition that Poland is liberated, he would only be strengthening German imperialism against Britain, Belgium, Serbia and other countries still further. Peace on the condition of the liberation of Poland, Lifland and Courland would be a "patriotic" peace from the point of view of Russia, but would by no means cease to be a peace with the annexationists, with the German imperialists.
January 21, 1918. The following should be added to the above theses:
22. The mass strikes in Austria and Germany, and, subsequently, the formation of the Soviets of Workers' Deputies in Berlin and Vienna, and, lastly, beginning from January 18-20, armed clashes and street fighting in Berlin—all this should be regarded as evidence of the fact that the revolution in Germany has begun.
This fact offers us the opportunity, for the time being, of further delaying and dragging out the peace negotiations.
 A discussion of the question of war and peace was held by the Central Committee on January 11 (24), 1918, following a speech by Lenin, who was opposed by the Left Communists and Trotsky. Some of them—Bukharin, Uritsky, Lomov (Oppokov)—supported Trotsky's proposal for a "neither war nor peace" attitude. Stalin, Sergeyev (Artyom) and Sokolnikov favoured peace. The Left Communists did not expect the "revolutionary war now" slogan to go through (only two voted for it), and so voted for Trotsky's proposal, which received 9 votes to 7 against. In the hope of overcoming the resistance to the conclusion of peace within the Central Committee and winning over the section of the masses which followed the advocates of a revolutionary war, Lenin motioned the proposal that the talks should be delayed in every possible way, and this was passed by 12 votes to one.
V. I. Lenin
Report at the Meeting Of The All-Russia C.E.C. February 24, 1918
The socialist fatherland is in danger! Long live the socialist fatherland! Long live the international socialist revolution!
Let everyone know: he who is against an immediate, even though extremely onerous peace, is endangering Soviet power.
the terms put to us by the representatives of German imperialism are unprecedentedly severe, immeasurably oppressive, predatory terms. The German imperialists, taking advantage of the' weakness of Russia, have their knee on our chest. Not to conceal from you the bitter truth of which I am deeply convinced, the situation being what it is, I must tell you that we have no other way out than to subscribe to these terms. And that any other proposal means to incur, either voluntarily or involuntarily, still worse evils and further (if one can speak here of degrees) complete subjection of the Soviet Republic, its enslavement to German imperialism, or it is a pitiful attempt at using words to evade a terrible, immeasurably cruel, but undeniable reality. Comrades, you all know very well, and many of you know it from personal experience, that the burden Russia had to bear in the imperialist war was for indisputable reasons that everyone can understand more terrible and severe than that endured by other countries. You know, therefore, that our army was martyrised and tortured by the war as was no other, that all the slanders cast at us by the bourgeois press and the parties which supported it, or which were hostile to the Soviet government, alleging that the Bolsheviks were demoralising the troops, are nonsense. I shall remind you once again of the proclamation which Krylenko, while still an ensign under Kerensky, distributed to the troops when he left for Petrograd, and which was reprinted in Pravda, and in which he said: we do not urge upon you any kind of mutiny, we urge upon you organised political actions; strive to be as organised as possible. Such was the propaganda of one of the most ardent representatives of the Bolsheviks, one who was most closely connected with the army. Everything that could be done to bold together this unprecedentedly, immeasurably fatigued army, and to make it stronger, was done. And if we see now, though I have entirely refrained, during the last month, for example, from setting out my view, which could seem pessimistic, if we have seen that, as regards the army during the past month, we have said all that could be said, and done all that could be done, to ease the situation, reality has shown us that after three years of war our army is altogether unable and unwilling to fight. That is the basic cause, simple, obvious, and in the highest degree bitter and painful, but absolutely clear, why, living side by side with an imperialist plunderer, we are compelled to sign peace terms when he puts his knee on our chest. That is why I say, fully conscious of the responsibility I bear, and repeat that no single member of the Soviet government ha.5 the right to evade this responsibility, of course, it is pleasant and easy to tell the workers, peasants and soldiers, as it has been pleasant and easy to observe, how the revolution has gone forward after the October uprising, but when we have to acknowledge the bitter, painful, undeniable truth—the impossibility of a revolutionary war-it is impermissible now to evade this responsibility and we must shoulder it frankly. I consider myself obliged, I consider it essential to fulfil my duty and state plainly how things are, and therefore I am convinced that the class of toilers of Russia, who know what war is, what it has cost the working people and the degree of exhaustion to which it has led them, that-I do not doubt it for a moment-they along with us recognise the unprecedented severity, grossness and vileness of these peace terms and nevertheless approve our conduct. They will say: you undertook to propose the terms of an immediate aDd just peace, you should have utilised every possibility of delaying peace in order to see whether other countries would join in, whether the European proletariat, without whose help we cannot achieve a lasting socialist victory, would come to our aid. We did everything possible to protract the negotiations, we did even more than was possible; what we did was that after the Brest negotiations we declared the state of war at an end, confident as many of us were that the situation in Germany would not allow her to make a brutal and savage attack on Russia.
This time we have had to endure a heavy defeat, and we have to be able to look the defeat straight in the face. Yes, hitherto the revolution has proceeded along an ascending line from victory to victory; now it has suffered a heavy defeat. The German working-class movement, which began so rapidly, has been interrupted for a time. We know that its main causes have not been abolished, and that they will grow and will inevitably extend because the excruciating war is being drawn out, because the bestiality of imperialism is being exposed ever more fully and obviously, and is opening the eyes of masses of people who might seem to be most remote from politics or incapable of understanding socialist policy. That is why this desperate, tragic situation has arisen, which compels us to accept peace now and will compel the masses of the working people to say: yes, they acted correctly, they did all they could to propose a just peace, they had to submit to a most oppressive and unfortunate peace because the country had no other way out. Their situation is such that they are forced to wage a life and-death struggle against the Soviet Republic; if they are unable now to continue their intention of advancing against Petrograd and Moscow it is only because they are tied up in a bloody and predatory war with Britain, and because there is an internal crisis as well. When it is pointed out to me that the German imperialists may present us with still worse conditions tomorrow or the day after, I say that we must be prepared for that; naturally, living side by side with bestial plunderers, the Soviet Republic must expect to be attacked. If at present we cannot reply by war it is because the forces are lacking, because war can be waged only together with the people. If the successes of the revolution cause many comrades to say the opposite, that is not a mass phenomenon, it does not express the will and opinion of the real masses. If you go to the class of real toilers, to the workers and peasants, you will hear only one answer, that we are quite unable towage war, we lack the physical strength, we are choked in blood, as one of the soldiers put it. These masses will understand us and approve of our.concluding this forced and unprecedentedly onerous peace. It may be that the respite needed for an upswing of the masses will take no little time, but those who had to live through the long years of revolutionary battles in the period of the upswing of the revolution and the period when the revolution fell into decline, when revolutionary calls to the masses obtained no response from them, know that all the same the revolution always arose afresh. Therefore we say: yes, at present the masses are not in a state to wage war, at present every representative of the Soviet government is obliged to tell the people to its face the whole bitter truth. The time of unheard-of hardship and of three years of war and of the desperate disruption left by tsarism will pass away, and the people will recover its strength and find itself capable of resistance. At present the oppressor confronts us; it is best, of course, to answer oppression by a revolutionary war, by an uprising, but, unfortunately, history has shown that it is not always possible to answer oppression by an uprising. But to refrain from an uprising does not mean refraining from the revolution. Do not succumb to the provocation coming from the bourgeois newspapers, the enemies of Soviet power. Indeed, they have nothing except talk about “an obscene peace” and cries of “shame!” about this peace, but in fact this bourgeoisie greets the German conquerors with delight. They say: “Now, at last, the Germans will come and restore order”, that is what they want and so they bait us with cries of “an obscene peace, a shameful peace”. They want the Soviet government to give battle, an unheard-of battle, knowing that we lack strength, and they are dragging us into complete enslavement to the German imperialists in order to do a deal with the German gendarmes, but they express only their own class interests, because they know that the Soviet government is growing stronger. These voices, these cries against peace, are in my view the best proof of the fact that those who reject this peace have not only been consoling themselves with unjustified illusions but have succumbed to provocation. No, we must look the disasterous truth squarely in the face: before us is the oppressor with his knee on our chest, and we shall fight with all the means of revolutionary struggle. At present, however, we are in a desperately difficult situation, our ally cannot hasten to our aid, the international proletariat cannot come just now, but it will come. This revolutionary movement, which at present has no possibility of offering armed resistance to the enemy, is rising and it will offer resistance later, but offer it it will. (Applause.)
September 28 (October 11), 1914
HOW THE INTERNATIONAL CAN BE RESTORED
July - August 1915
Feruary 21, 1918.
Extraordinary Seventh Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
MARCH 7, 1918
* * *
The Anti-War-Struggle in Germany
Letter to comrade Guesde
Where Will Peace Come From?
Le Socialisme, November 2, 1912;
Dear and Venerated Comrade Guesde,
Incendiary capitalism is carrying its out evil works more dangerously than ever, and is doing so in the increasingly dangerous neighborhood of the powder kegs that are the great European military powers. Starving slaves traverse the countryside at the foot of the Balkans, waving war torches; lulled by their despots into the illusion that they are the flame carriers of liberty for the slaves on the other side of the frontiers, behind which they themselves live deprived of rights and economically reduced to a state of poverty. All the international conflicts have been brought to their greatest point of intensity. Like a cyclone, imperialism spins across the globe; militarism crushes peoples and sucks their blood like a vampire. The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine and Massacre, gallop across the world.
All the diplomatic plotting was in vain: they were naught but charlatanism and mirage. For capitalism, war and peace are business and nothing but business. As far as it’s concerned, the lives and wellbeing of the millions of men that constitute the proletariat of all countries are an object of exploitation and nothing but that.
Only the international proletariat can avert this horrific danger, for only the interests of the proletariat are the same in all capitalist countries. The international solidarity of the proletariat without accepting frontiers, the common fight against common enemies — national and international — of the proletariat: those who profit by political pressure, those who live off economic exploitation and the misery of the masses.
Capitalism is war; socialism is peace. Will socialism have the strength to halt the war fury? It will have this strength if the proletariat of France, England, Austria and Germany fulfill their obligations. And they will fulfill their obligations, as the past has shown and as the fatal month of January 1911 — with its great workers’ movements in France and England and the imposing peace demonstrations in Germany — has shown. Sunday October 20 the German working class once again demonstrated its desire for peace in huge public demonstrations.
The capitalist and imperialist war- mongers must know what is at risk if they throw down Mars’ iron dice. We will warn them, we will threaten them: we in Germany, like our friends in France and England. It is only internationally that we can carry out our war against war, and it is internationally that it is being carried out. Just as we have confidence in our brothers in France, England an Austria, you can have confidence in us, in the German proletariat in struggle.
Internal war against the internal enemy: the oppressors and the exploiters of the masses. Class struggle: external peace, international solidarity, peace among peoples. This is the sacred slogan of international socialist democracy that liberates nations. It is under this sign that we can and we must win, even against a world of enemies. No hesitation! Confident of victory! Whatever the cost, brothers of France: Into battle! Long live socialism!
Liebknecht’s Protest Against the War Credits
Liebknecht “Liebknecht’s Protest Against the War Credits,” Justice, 17th December 1914, p.1;
The “Berner Tagewacht” publishes the full text of Karl Liebknecht’s protest in the Reichstag against the voting of the war credits. The protest was suppressed in the Reichstag, and no German paper has published it. It appears that seventeen Social-Democratic members expressed their opposition to the credits on December 2, but Karl Liebknecht’s was the only vote recorded against them.
Liebknecht’s protest declares that “this war, which none of the peoples involved desired, was not started for the benefit of the German or of any other people. It is an Imperialist war, a war for capitalist domination of the world markets and for the political domination of the important countries in the interest of industrial and financial capitalism. Arising out of the armament race, it is a preventative war provoked by the German and Austrian war parties in the obscurity of semi-absolutism and of secret diplomacy.
“It is also a Buonapartist attempt tending to demoralise and destroy the growing Labour movement.”
“The German word of command ‘against Czarismus,’ like the English or French word of command ‘against militarism,’ has been the means of bringing forth the most noble instincts, the revolutionary traditions and hopes of the peoples, for the purpose of hatred among the peoples. Accomplice of ‘Czarismus,’ Germany, a model country of political reaction, possesses not the qualities necessary to play the part of a liberator of peoples ...
“This war is not a defensive war for Germany. Its historical character and the succeeding events make it impossible for us to trust a capitalist Government when it declares that it is for the defence of the country that it asks for the credits.
“A peace made as soon as possible and which will humiliate no one is what must be demanded. All efforts in that direction should be supported. A simultaneous and continual demand for such peace in all the belligerent countries will be able to stop the bloody massacre before the complete exhaustion of all the peoples concerned .....”
Liebknecht concludes his protest by declaring that he will vote in favour of anything that will lighten the hard lot of “our brothers on the field of battle, and those wounded and sick, for whom I have the warmest compassion .... But my protest is against the war, against those responsible for it, against those who are directing it; against the capitalistic ends for which it is being pursued, against the violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg, against military dictation, and against the complete neglect of social and political duties of which the Government and the dominant class are guilty to-day.”
(Leaflet, May 1915)
To the Workers and Soldiers of the Allied Countries
Published in The Communist International, Vol 1, No., 1919
Friends, Comrades, Brothers! From under the blows of the world war, amidst the ruin which has been created by Tzarist Imperialist society — the Russian Proletariat erected its State — the Socialist Republic of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers. This was created in spite of an attitude of misconception, hatred and calumny. This republic represents the greatest basis for that universal socialist order, the creation of which is at the present time the historic task of the International Proletariat. The Russian revolution was to an unprecedented degree the cause of the proletariat of the whole world becoming more revolutionary. Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary are already in the throes of revolution; revolution is awakening in Germany. But there are obstacles in the way of the victory of the German proletariat. The mass of the German people are with us, the power of the accused enemies of the working class has collapsed; but they are nevertheless making all attempts to deceive the people, with a view of protracting the hour of the liberation of the German people. The robbery and violence of German Imperialism in Russia, as well as the violent Brest-Litovsk peace and the Bucharest peace have consolidated and strengthened the Imperialists of the Allied countries; — and this is the reason why the German Government are endeavouring to utilize the Allied attack upon Socialist Russia for the purpose of retaining power. You have no doubt heard how Willhelm II, who, now that Tzarism has perished, is the representative of the basest form of reaction, — a few days ago made use of intervention in the affairs of proletarian Russia by the Allied Empires for the purpose of raising a new war agitation amongst the working masses. We must not permit our ignoble enemies to make use of any democratic means and institutions for their purpose; the proletariat of the Allied countries must allow no such thing to occur. We know that you have already raised your voice to protest against the machinations of your governments; but the danger is growing ever greater and greater. A united front of world Imperialism against the proletariat is being realised, in the first instance, in the struggle aga inst the Russian Soviet Republic. This is what I warn you against. The proletariat of the world must not allow the flame of the Socialist Revolution to be extinguished, or all its hopes and all its powers will perish. The failure of the Russian Socialist Republic will be the defeat of the proletariat of the whole world. Friends, comrades, brothers arise against your rulers! Long live the Russian workers, soldiers and peasants! Long live the Revolution of the French, English, American proletariat! Long live the liberation of the workers off all countries from the infernal chasm of war, exploitation and slavery!
The Class Struggle, Vol II. No 2, March-April, 1918
with special regard to the International Young Socialist Movement / by Dr. Karl Liebknecht Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. Januar 1917
The Zurich Social-Democratic organ “Volksrecht” published the following declaration on October 31 - 1914:
“Comrades Dr. Sudekum and Richard Fischer have made an attempt in the Party Press of the neutral countries (Sweden, Italy and Switzerland) to give their version of the attitude of the Social-Democracy on the war. We find ourselves compelled in consequence to declare in the same Press that we and certainly many other German Social-Democrats regard the war, its causes, as well as the part played by Social-Democracy in the present situation, from a standpoint which in no way corresponds to that of the comrades Sudekum and Fischer. The fact that we are under martial law makes it impossible for us at present to defend our views publicly.
“September 10, 1914.”
* * *
Brotherhood of German and Russian soldiers
The Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
3 March, 1918
Article I. Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey, for the one part, and Russia, for the other part, declare that the state of war between them has ceased. They are resolved to live henceforth in peace and amity with one another.
Article II. The contracting parties will refrain from any agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public and military institutions of the other party. In so far as this obligation devolves upon Russia, it holds good also for the territories occupied by the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance.
Article III. The territories lying to the west of the line agreed upon by the contracting parties which formerly belonged to Russia, will no longer be subject to Russian sovereignty; the line agreed upon is traced on the map submitted as an essential part of this treaty of peace. The exact fixation of the line will be established by a Russo-German commission.
No obligations whatever toward Russia shall devolve upon the territories referred to, arising from the fact that they formerly belonged to Russia.
Russia refrains from all interference in the internal relations of these territories. Germany and Austria-Hungary purpose to determine the future status of these territories in agreement with their population.
Article IV. As soon as a general peace is concluded and Russian demobilization is carried out completely Germany will evacuate the territory lying to the east of the line designated in paragraph 1 of Article III, in so far as Article IV does not determine otherwise.
Russia will do all within her power to insure the immediate evacuation of the provinces of eastern Anatolia and their lawful return to Turkey.
The districts of Erdehan, Kars, and Batum will likewise and without delay be cleared of the russian troops. Russia will not interfere in the reorganization of the national and international relations of these districts, but leave it to the population of these districts, to carry out this reorganization in agreement with the neighboring States, especially with Turkey.
Article V. Russia will, without delay, carry out the full demobilization of her army inclusive of those units recently organized by the present Government. Furthermore, Russia will either bring her warships into russian ports and there detain them until the day of the conclusion of a general peace, or disarm them forthwith. Warships of the States which continue in the state of war with the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance, in so far as they are within Russian sovereignty, will be treated as Russian warships.
The barred zone in the Arctic Ocean continues as such until the conclusion of a general peace. In the Baltic sea, and, as far as Russian power extends within the Black sea, removal of the mines will be proceeded with at once. Merchant navigation within these maritime regions is free and will be resumed at once. Mixed commissions will be organized to formulate the more detailed regulations, especially to inform merchant ships with regard to restricted lanes. The navigation lanes are always to be kept free from floating mines.
Article VI. Russia obligates herself to conclude peace at once with the Ukrainian People's Republic and to recognize the treaty of peace between that State and the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance. The Ukrainian territory will, without delay, be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard. Russia is to put an end to all agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public institutions of the Ukrainian People's Republic.
Esthonia and Livonia will likewise, without delay, be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard. The eastern boundary of Esthonia runs, in general along the river Narwa. The eastern boundary of Livonia crosses, in general, lakes Peipus and Pskow, to the southwestern corner of the latter, then across Lake Luban in the direction of Livenhof on the Dvina. Esthonia and Livonia will be occupied by a German police force until security is insured by proper national institutions and until public order has been established. Russia will liberate at once all arrested or deported inhabitants of Esthonia and Livonia, and insures the safe return of all deported Esthonians and Livonians.
Finland and the Aaland Islands will immediately be cleared of Russian troops and the Russian Red Guard, and the Finnish ports of the Russian fleet and of the Russian naval forces. So long as the ice prevents the transfer of warships into Russian ports, only limited forces will remain on board the warships. Russia is to put an end to all agitation or propaganda against the Government or the public institutions of Finland.
The fortresses built on the Aaland Islands are to be removed as soon as possible. As regards the permanent non- fortification of these islands as well as their further treatment in respect to military technical navigation matters, a special agreement is to be concluded between Germany, Finland, Russia, and Sweden; there exists an understanding to the effect that, upon Germany's desire, still other countries bordering upon the Baltic Sea would be consulted in this matter.
Article VII. In view of the fact that Persia and Afghanistan are free and independent States, the contracting parties obligate themselves to respect the political and economic independence and the territorial integrity of these states.
Article VIII. The prisoners of war of both parties will be released to return to their homeland. The settlement of the questions connected therewith will be effected through the special treaties provided for in Article XII.
Article IX. The contracting parties mutually renounce compensation for their war expenses, i.e., of the public expenditures for the conduct of the war, as well as compensation for war losses, i.e., such losses as were caused [by] them and their nationals within the war zones by military measures, inclusive of all requisitions effected in enemy country.
Article X. Diplomatic and consular relations between the contracting parties will be resumed immediately upon the ratification of the treaty of peace. As regards the reciprocal admission of consuls, separate agreements are reserved.
Article XI. As regards the economic relations between the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance and Russia the regulations contained in Appendices II-V are determinative....
Article XII. The reestablishment of public and private legal relations, the exchange of war prisoners and interned citizens, the question of amnesty as well as the question anent the treatment of merchant ships which have come into the power of the opponent, will be regulated in separate treaties with Russia which form an essential part of the general treaty of peace, and, as far as possible, go into force simultaneously with the latter.
Article XIII. In the interpretation of this treaty, the German and Russian texts are authoritative for the relations between Germany and Russia; the German, the Hungarian, and Russian texts for the relations between Austria-Hungry and Russia; the Bulgarian and Russian texts for the relations between Bulgaria and Russia; and the Turkish and Russian texts for the relations between Turkey and Russia.
Article XIV. The present treaty of peace will be ratified. The documents of ratification shall, as soon as possible, be exchanged in Berlin. The Russian Government obligates itself, upon the desire of one of the powers of the Quadruple Alliance, to execute the exchange of the documents of ratification within a period of two weeks. Unless otherwise provided for in its articles, in its annexes, or in the additional treaties, the treaty of peace enters into force at the moment of its ratification.
In testimony whereof the Plenipotentiaries have signed this treaty with their own hand.
Executed in quintuplicate at Brest-Litovsk, 3 March, 1918.
Some historical documents of
struggle against the imperialist War.
The Seventh International Socialist Congress was held in Stuttgart, Germany, on August 18-24, 1907 (Appendix Document No. 1). The first and most important item on the agenda was "Militarism and International Conflicts."
Lenin said in reference to the last two paragraphs of this resolution: "I remember well that the final drafting of this amendment was preceded by lengthy direct negotiations between our group and [August] Bebel [of the German Social-Democratic Party]. The first draft spoke of revolutionary propaganda and revolutionary action in a much more direct manner. We showed it to Bebel, and he said, 'I cannot accept this, for otherwise the legal authorities will dissolve our organizations, and we are not going to risk this as long as there is not anything serious confronting us.'
"Upon consultation with professional jurists and repeated redrafting of the text, so as to express the same thought in a lawful form, the final formula was devised, which Bebel consented to have adopted." The resolution was passed unanimously.
The Eighth International Socialist Congress was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from August 28 to September 3, 1910. The resolution of the Congress on International Arbitration and Disarmament confirmed the resolution of the Stuttgart Congress on war. The last two paragraphs of the Stuttgart resolution were reproduced in full in the Copenhagen resolution.
The Extraordinary Basel Congress was held on November 24 and 25, 1912 (Appendix Document No. II). It was called to protest the Balkan war and the threat of a general European war. The manifesto of the Basel Congress combined the resolutions of the congresses of Stuttgart and Copenhagen.
The last session of the International Socialist Bureau was held at Brussels on July 29, 1914. The following resolution was adopted: "The International Socialist Bureau, at its meeting held today, July 29, upon listening to the reports of the representatives of all countries that may be involved in a world war on the political situation in those countries, has resolved unanimously that it shall be the duty of the workers of all nations concerned not only to continue but to further intensify their demonstrations against the war, for peace, and for the settlement of the Austro-Serbian conflict by international arbitration. The German and the French workers shall exert the most energetic pressure upon the governments of their respective countries in order that Germany shall restrain the war ardor of Austria, and that France shall obtain from Russia noninterference in the conflict. The British and Italian workers shall, on their part, support those efforts with all their energy. The extraordinary congress which is being called to meet at Paris will be a vigorous expression of this will for peace of the international proletariat."
The Berne International Socialist Women's Conference was held on March 26-28, 1915 (Appendix Document No. III). The conference was called at the initiative of representatives of women's organizations that agreed with the Bolsheviks' position on the war. It was supported by Clara Zetkin, Secretary of the International Bureau of Socialist Women, who issued an appeal to the women of all countries to "struggle for peace." The question on the agenda was that of "international action of Socialist women for peace. Notwithstanding that the Bolshevik resolution (see appendices) was rejected for a more pacifist-oriented one, the conference was of great significance as the first genuinely international gathering after the outbreak of the war.
The pamphlet Socialism and War was written by Lenin, in collaboration with Zinoviev in August 1915. The pamphlet had been designed for the Zimmerwald Conference of September 1915, but owing to technical causes its appearance was delayed and it was published after the conference was over. (Appendix Document No IV).
The conference was initiated by the Swiss and Italian Socialist parties and was attended by their representatives as well as delegates from other anti-war parties and groups. The Bolsheviks organized the left delegates (who became known as the "Zimmerwald Left") and submitted the draft of a manifesto and the draft of a resolution on the war and the tasks of Social-Democracy (Appendix Documents No. VI, VII, and VIII). The majority declined the propositions of the Left. The conference also adopted a resolution of "sympathy with the war victims and the persecuted" (Appendix Document No. V). The Zimmerwald Left formed the basic nucleus of the Communist International founded in 1919.
The American Socialist Party, although not a Marxist party, had large numbers of revolutionary workers. It adopted a militant anti-war manifesto with a call for revolutionary action at its convention in St. Louis in April 1917 (Appendix Document No. IX).
The "Decree on Peace" by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers and Soldiers Deputies was the first declaration of policy by the victorious revolutionary government (Appendix Document No. X). It was written by Lenin and delivered on October 26 (November 8 by the Western calendar), 1917.
I. Resolution adopted at the Seventh International
Socialist Congress at Stuttgart (1907)
The Congress confirms the resolutions adopted by previous international congresses against militarism and imperialism and declares once more that the struggle against militarism cannot be separated from the Socialist class struggle in general.
Wars between capitalist states are, as a rule, the outcome of their competition on the world market, for each state seeks not only to secure its existing markets, but also to conquer new ones. In this, the subjugation of foreign peoples and countries plays a prominent role. These wars result furthermore from the incessant race for armaments by militarism, one of the chief instruments of bourgeois class rule and of the economic and political subjugation of the working class.
Wars are favored by the national prejudices which are systematically cultivated among civilized peoples in the interest of the ruling classes for the purpose of distracting the proletarian masses from their own class tasks as well as from their duties of international solidarity.
Wars, therefore, are part of the very nature of capitalism; they will cease only when the capitalist system is abolished or when the enormous sacrifices in men and money required by the advance in military technique and the indignation called forth by armaments, drive the peoples to abolish this system.
For this reason, the proletariat, which contributes most of the soldiers and makes most of the material sacrifices is a natural opponent of war which contradicts its highest goal -- the creation of an economic order on a Socialist basis which will bring about the solidarity of all peoples.
The Congress, therefore, considers it as the duty of the working class and particularly of its representatives in the parliaments to combat the naval and military armaments with all their might, characterizing the class nature of bourgeois society and the motive for the maintenance of national antagonisms, and to refuse the means for these armaments. It is their duty to work for the education of the working-class youth in the spirit of the brotherhood of nations and of Socialism while developing their class consciousness.
The Congress sees in the democratic organization of the army, in the substitution of the militia for the standing army, an essential guarantee that offensive wars will be rendered impossible and the overcoming of national antagonisms facilitated.
The International is not able to determine in rigid forms the anti-militarist actions of the working class which are naturally different in different countries and for different circumstances of time and place. But it is its duty to coordinate and increase to the utmost the efforts of the working class against war.
In fact, since the International Congress at Brussels the proletariat has employed the most diverse forms of action with increasing emphasis and success in its indefatigable struggles against militarism by refusing the means for naval and military armaments and by its efforts to democratize the military organization -- all for the purpose of preventing the outbreak of wars or of putting a stop to them, as well as for utilizing the convulsions of society caused by war for the emancipation of the working class.
This was evidenced especially by the agreement between the English and French trade unions following the Fashoda Affair for the maintenance of peace and for the restoration of friendly relations between England and France; by the procedure of the Social-Democratic parties in the German and French parliaments during the Morocco crisis; the demonstrations arranged by the French and German Socialists for the same purpose; the concerted action of the Socialists of Austria and Italy who met in Trieste in order to prevent a conflict between the two countries; furthermore, by the energetic intervention of the Socialist workers of Sweden in order to prevent an attack upon Norway; finally, the heroic, self-sacrificing struggle of the Socialist workers and peasants of Russia and Poland in order to oppose the war unleashed by czarism, to put a stop to it, and to utilize the crisis of the country for the liberation of the working class.
All these efforts are evidence of the growing power of the proletariat and of its increasing ability to secure the maintenance of peace by resolute intervention. The action of the working class will be all the more successful the more that its spirit is prepared by a corresponding action and the labor parties of the various countries are spurred on and coordinated by the International.
The Congress is convinced that, under the pressure of the proletariat, by a serious use of arbitration in place of the miserable measures of the governments, the benefit of disarmament can be secured to all nations, making it possible to employ the enormous expenditures of money and energy, which are swallowed up by military armaments and wars, for cultural purposes.
If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives in the countries involved, supported by the coordinating activity of the International Socialist Bureau, to exert every effort in order to prevent the outbreak of war by the means they consider most effective, which naturally vary according to the sharpening of the class struggle and the sharpening of the general political situation.
In case war should break out anyway, it is their duty to intervene in favor of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilize the economic and political crisis created by the war to rouse the masses and thereby to hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.
International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart,
August 18-24, 1907
Vorwarts Publishers, Berlin, 1907, pp. 64-66.
II. Manifesto of the
International Socialist Congress at Basel (1912)
At its congresses at Stuttgart and Copenhagen the International formulated for the proletariat of all countries these guiding principles for the struggle against war:
If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary representatives in the countries involved supported by the coordinating activity of the International Socialist Bureau to exert every effort in order to prevent the outbreak of war by the means they consider most effective, which naturally vary according to the sharpening of the class struggle and the sharpening of the general political situation.
In case war should break out anyway it is their duty to intervene in favor of its speedy termination and with all their powers to utilize the economic and political crisis created by the war to arouse the people and thereby to hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule.
More than ever, recent events have imposed upon the proletariat the duty of devoting the utmost force and energy to planned and concerted action. On the one hand, the universal craze for armaments has aggravated the high cost of living, thereby intensifying class antagonisms and creating in the working class an implacable spirit of revolt; the workers want to put a stop to this system of panic and waste. On the other hand, the incessantly recurring menace of war has a more and more inciting effect. The great European peoples are constantly on the point of being driven against one another, although these attempts are against humanity and reason cannot be justified by even the slightest pretext of being in the interest of the people.
If the Balkan crisis, which has already caused such terrible disasters, should spread further, it would become the most frightful danger to civilization and the proletariat. At the same time it would be the greatest outrage in all history because of the crying discrepancy between the immensity of the catastrophe and the insignificance of the interests involved.
It is with satisfaction that the Congress records the complete unanimity of the Socialist parties and of the trade unions of all countries in the war against war.
The proletarians of all countries have risen simultaneously in a struggle against imperialism; each section of the international has opposed the resistance of the proletariat to the government of its own country, and has mobilized the public opinion of its nation against all bellicose desires. Thus there resulted the grandiose cooperation of the workers of all countries which has already contributed a great deal toward saving the threatened peace of the world. The fear of the ruling class a of a proletarian revolution as a result of a world war has proved to be an essential guarantee of peace.
The Congress therefore calls upon the Social-Democratic parties to continue their action by every means that seems appropriate to them. In this concerted action it assigns to each Socialist party its particular task.
The Social-Democratic parties of the Balkan peninsula have a difficult task. The Great Powers of Europe, by the systematic frustration of all reforms, have contributed to the creation of unbearable economic, national and political conditions in Turkey which necessarily had to lead to revolt and war. Against the exploitation of these conditions in the interest of the dynasties and the bourgeois classes, the Social-Democratic parties of the Balkans, with heroic courage, have raised the demand for a democratic federation. The Congress calls upon them to persevere in their admirable attitude; it expects that the Social-Democracy of the Balkans will do everything after the war to prevent the results of the Balkan War attained at the price of such terrible sacrifices from being misused for their own purposes by dynasties, by militarism, by the bourgeoisie of the Balkan states greedy for expansion. The Congress, however, calls upon the Socialists of the Balkans particularly to resist not only the renewal of the old enmities between Serbs, Bulgars, Rumanians, and Greeks, but also every violation of the Balkan peoples now in the opposite camp, the Turks and the Albanians. It is the duty of the Socialists of the Balkans, therefore, to fight against every violation of the rights of these people and to proclaim the fraternity of all Balkans peoples including the Albanians, the Turks, and the Rumanians, against the unleashed national chauvinism.
It is the duty of the Social-Democratic parties of Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Slavonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue with all their power their effective action against an attack upon Serbia by the Danubian monarchy. It is their task to continue as in the past to oppose the plan of robbing Serbia of the results of the war by armed force, of transforming it into an Austrian colony, and of involving the peoples of Austria-Hungary proper and together with them all nations of Europe in the greatest dangers for the sake of dynastic interests. In the future the Social-Democratic parties of Austria-Hungary will also fight in order that those sections of the South-Slavic people ruled by the House of Hapsburg may obtain the right to govern themselves democratically within the boundaries of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy proper.
The Social-Democratic parties of Austria-Hungary as well as the Socialists of Italy must pay special attention to the Albanian question. The Congress recognizes the right of the Albanian people to autonomy but it protests against Albania, under the pretext of autonomy, becoming the victim of Austro-Hungarian and Italian ambitions for domination. The Congress sees in this not only a peril for Albania itself, but, in a short time, a menace to the peace between Austria-Hungary and Italy. Albania can lead a truly independent life only as an autonomous member of a democratic Balkan federation. The Congress therefore calls upon the Social-Democrats of Austria-Hungary and Italy to combat every attempt of their governments to envelop Albania in their sphere of influence and to continue their efforts to strengthen the peaceful relations between Austria-Hungary and Italy.
It is with great joy that the Congress greets the protest strikes of Russian workers as a guarantee that the proletariat of Russia and of Poland is beginning to recover from the blows dealt it by the czarist counterrevolution. The Congress sees in this the strongest guarantee against the criminal intrigues of czarism, which, after having drowned in blood the peoples of its own country, after having betrayed the Balkan peoples themselves innumerable times and surrendered them to their enemies, now vacillates between the fear of the consequences that a war would have upon it and the fear of the pressure of a nationalist movement which it has itself created. However, when czarism now tries to appear as the liberator of the Balkan nations, it is only to reconquer its hegemony in the Balkans in a bloody war under this hypocritical pretext. The Congress expects that the urban and rural proletariat of Russia, Finland, and Poland, which is growing in strength, will destroy this web of lies, will oppose every belligerent venture of czarism, will combat every design of czarism, whether upon Armenia or upon Constantinople, and will concentrate its whole force upon the renewal of the revolutionary struggle for emancipation from czarism. For czarism is the hope of all the reactionary powers of Europe, the most terrible enemy of the democracy of the peoples dominated by it; and the achievement of its destruction must be viewed as one of the foremost tasks of the entire International.
However, the most important task within the action of the International devolves upon the working class of Germany, France, and England. At this moment, it is the task of the workers of these countries to demand of their governments that they refuse any support either to Austria-Hungary or Russia, that they abstain from any intervention in the Balkan troubles and maintain absolute neutrality. A war between the three great leading civilized peoples on account of the Serbo-Austrian dispute over a port would be criminal insanity. The workers of Germany and France cannot concede that any obligation whatever to intervene in the Balkan conflict exists because of secret treaties.
However, on further development, should the military collapse of Turkey lead to the downfall of the Ottoman rule in Asia Minor, it would be the task of the Socialists of England, France, and Germany to resist with all their power the policy of conquest in Asia Minor, which would inevitably lead in a straight line to war. The Congress views as the greatest danger to the peace of Europe the artificially cultivated hostility between Great Britain and the German Empire. The Congress therefore greets the efforts of the working class of both countries to bridge this hostility. It considers the best means for this purpose to be the conclusion of an accord between Germany and England concerning the limitation of naval armaments and the abolition of the right of naval booty. The Congress calls upon the Socialists of England and Germany to continue their agitation for such an accord.
The overcoming of the antagonism between Germany on the one hand, and France and England on the other, would eliminate the greatest danger to the peace of the world, shake the power of czarism which exploits this antagonism, render an attack of Austria-Hungary upon Serbia impossible, and secure peace to the world. All the efforts of the International, therefore, are to be directed toward this goal.
The Congress records that the entire Socialist International is unanimous upon these principles of foreign policy. It calls upon the workers of all countries to oppose the power of the international solidarity of the proletariat to capitalist imperialism. It warns the ruling classes of all states not to increase by belligerent actions the misery of the masses brought on by the capitalist method of production. It emphatically demands peace. Let the governments remember that with the present condition of Europe and the mood of the working class, they cannot unleash a war without danger to themselves. Let them remember that the Franco-German War was followed by the revolutionary outbreak of the Commune, that the Russo-Japanese War set into motion the revolutionary energies of the peoples of the Russian Empire, that the competition in military and naval armaments gave the class conflicts in England and on the Continent an unheard-of sharpness, and unleashed an enormous wave of strikes. It would be insanity for the governments not to realize that the very idea of the monstrosity of a world war would inevitably call forth the indignation and the revolt of the working class. The proletarians consider it a crime to fire at each other for the profits of the capitalists, the ambitions of dynasties, or the greater glory of secret diplomatic treaties.
If the governments cut off every possibility of normal progress, and thereby drive the proletariat to desperate steps, they themselves will have to bear the entire responsibility for the consequences of the crisis brought about by them.
The International will redouble its efforts in order to prevent this crisis; it will raise its protest with increasing emphasis and make its propaganda more and more energetic and comprehensive. The Congress therefore commissions the International Socialist Bureau to follow events with much greater attentiveness and no matter what may happen to maintain and strengthen the bonds uniting the proletarian parties.
The proletariat is conscious of being at this moment the bearer of the entire future of humankind. The proletariat win exert all its energy to prevent the annihilation of the flower of all peoples, threatened by all the horrors of mass murder, starvation, and pestilence.
The Congress therefore appeals to you, proletarians and Socialists of all countries, to make your voices heard in this decisive hour! Proclaim your will in every form and in all places; raise your protest in the parliaments with all your force; unite in great mass demonstrations; use every means that the organization and the strength of the proletariat place at your disposal! See to it that the governments are constantly kept aware of the vigilance and passionate will for peace on the part of the proletariat! To the capitalist world of exploitation and mass murder, oppose in this way the proletarian world of peace and fraternity of peoples!
Extraordinary International Socialist Congress at Basel,
November 24-25, 1912.
Vorwarts Publishers, Berlin, 1912, pp. 23-27.
III. Resolution introduced by the delegation of the
Central Committee of the Bolsheviks to the
International Socialist Women's Conference at Berne
The present world war, which has caused so many calamities wherever it has been waged, has devastated and ruined Belgium and Galicia, and has destroyed thousands upon thousands of workers' lives, is an imperialist war caused by the rivalry between the ruling classes of the several countries for the division of colonies and for predominance on the world markets, as well as by dynastic interests. It is the natural continuation of the policies of the capitalist class and of the governments of all countries, and, therefore, the question as to who was the first to strike the blow is of no interest whatsoever from the Socialist standpoint.
Not only does this war not to any extent serve the interests of the workers, but it serves as a weapon in the hands of the ruling classes for the destruction of the international solidarity of the workers, and for the weakening of their movement and the class struggle within each country. In the same manner, the slogan "defense of the fatherland," which has been proclaimed by the bourgeoisie and endorsed by the opportunists, is nothing but a lure used by the bourgeoisie to persuade the proletariat to sacrifice their lives and blood for the interests of the bourgeoisie.
Taking all this into consideration the extraordinary International Socialist Women's Conference, referring to the Stuttgart resolution, which recommends that the economic and political crisis caused by war be taken advantage of to arouse the people so as to hasten the downfall of the capitalist order, to the Copenhagen resolution which declares that it is the duty of Socialist Deputies to vote against war appropriations, and to the Basel resolution, which proclaims that the workers regard it as a crime to fire at each other, hereby declares that the representatives of the majority of the Socialist parties in the belligerent countries have been acting in utter disregard of those resolutions and have committed, yielding to the pressure of circumstances, a veritable betrayal of Socialism for which they have substituted nationalism. The Conference proclaims that the proletarians of all countries have no other enemy but their class enemy which is the capitalist class.
The terrific sufferings which this war has caused have been arousing in all women, and especially in proletarian women, an ever-growing desire for peace. The conference declares war upon every imperialist war, and at the same time states its belief that in order that this desire for peace may be transformed into a conscious political force, it is essential that the women workers should clearly realize that the propertied classes strive for nothing else than annexations, conquest, and domination, that in the epoch of imperialism wars are inevitable, and that imperialism threatens the whole world with an entire series of wars, unless the proletariat finds sufficient strength in itself to put an end to the capitalist order, by a complete overthrow of capitalism. If a workingwoman is anxious to shorten the period of sufferings which is connected with the epoch of imperialist wars, it is indispensable that her desire for peace turn into revolt and into struggle for Socialism. It is only through the revolutionary movement of the masses through the strengthening and intensifying of the Socialist struggle, that the workingwoman will attain her end in this struggle. Her first duty is thus that of supporting the labor unions and Socialist organizations and of breaking the civil peace by fighting against war appropriations, against the participation in bourgeois cabinets, by supporting and encouraging the fraternizing among soldiers in the trenches and on the battlefield, by setting up illegal organizations wherever the government has repealed the constitutional liberties, and, finally, by drawing the masses into participation in demonstrations and revolutionary movements.
The International Socialist Women's Conference appeals to the workingwomen of all countries to start this struggle forthwith, to organize it on an international scale, and to combine their action closely with that of those Socialists who, like Liebknecht, fight in all countries against nationalism and carry on a revolutionary Socialist struggle.
At the same time, the Conference reminds the workingwomen that in the most advanced countries of Europe the objective conditions for Socialist production are already ripe, that the entire movement is entering a new phase, that the present world war imposes upon them new and serious duties, that their movement may be the forerunner of a general action of the masses, which will give a new impulse to the entire Socialist movement and will bring nearer the hour of complete liberation. By assuming the initiative in the matter of organizing demonstrations and revolutionary protests, the workingwomen, marching abreast with the proletariat as a whole, will be in a position to usher in the new era of proletarian struggle, during which the proletariat will attain Socialism in the more advanced countries, and a democratic republic in the more backward ones.
Beme, March 26-28, 1915
Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 42, June 1, 1915
IV. Manifesto of the
International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald
Proletarians of Europe!
The war has lasted more than a year. Millions of corpses cover the battlefields. Millions of human beings have been crippled for the rest of their lives. Europe is like a gigantic human slaughterhouse. All civilization, created by the labor of many generations, is doomed to destruction. The most savage barbarism is today celebrating its triumph over all that hitherto constituted the pride of humanity.
Irrespective of the truth as to the direct responsibility for the outbreak of the war, one thing is certain. The war which has produced this chaos is the outcome of imperialism, of the attempt on the part of the capitalist classes of each nation, to foster their greed for profit by the exploitation of human labor and of the natural treasures of the entire globe.
Economically backward or politically weak nations are thereby subjugated by the Great Powers who, in this war, are seeking to remake the world map with blood and iron in accord with their exploiting interests. Thus entire nations and countries, like Belgium, Poland, the Balkan states, and Armenia are threatened with the fate of being torn asunder, annexed as a whole or in part as booty in the game of compensations.
In the course of the war, its driving forces are revealed in all their vileness. Shred after shred falls the veil with which the meaning of this world catastrophe was hidden from the consciousness of the peoples. The capitalists of all countries who are coining the red gold of war-profits out of the blood shed by the people, assert that the war is for defense of the fatherland, for democracy, and the liberation of oppressed nations! They lie. In actual reality, they are burying the freedom of their own people together with the independence of the other nations in the places of devastation.
New fetters, new chains, new burdens are arising, and it is the proletariat of all countries, of the victorious as well as of the conquered countries, that will have to bear them. Improvement in welfare was proclaimed at the outbreak of the war -- want and privation, unemployment and high prices, undernourishment and epidemics are the actual results. The burdens of war will consume the best energies of the peoples for decades, endanger the achievements of social reform, and hinder every step forward. Cultural devastation, economic decline, political reaction these are the blessings of this horrible conflict of nations. Thus the war reveals the naked figure of modern capitalism which has become irreconcilable, not only with the interests of the laboring masses, not only with the requirements of historical development, but also with the elementary conditions of human intercourse.
The ruling powers of capitalist society who held the fate of the nations in their hands, the monarchic as well as the republican governments, the secret diplomacy, the mighty business organizations, the bourgeois parties, the capitalist press, the Church -- all these bear the full weight of responsibility for this war which arose out of the social order fostering them and protected by them, and which is being waged for their interests.
Exploited, disfranchised, scorned, they called you brothers and comrades at the outbreak of the war when you were to be led to the slaughter, to death. And now that militarism has crippled you, mutilated you, degraded and annihilated you, the rulers demand that you surrender your interests, your aims, your ideals -- in a word, servile subordination to civil peace. They rob you of the possibility of expressing your views, your feelings, your pains; they prohibit you from raising your demands and defending them. The press gagged, political rights and liberties trod upon -- this is the way the military dictatorship rules today with an iron hand.
This situation which threatens the entire future of Europe and of humanity cannot and must not be confronted by us any longer without action. The Socialist proletariat has waged a struggle against militarism for decades. With growing concern, its representatives at their national and international congresses occupied themselves with the ever more menacing danger of war growing out of imperialism. At Stuttgart, at Copenhagen, at Basel, the international Socialist congresses have indicated the course which the proletariat must follow.
Since the beginning of the war, Socialist parties and labor organizations of various countries that helped to determine this course have disregarded the obligations following from this. Their representatives have called upon the working class to give up the class struggle, the only possible and effective method of proletarian emancipation. They have granted credits to the ruling classes for waging the war; they have placed themselves at the disposal of the governments for the most diverse services; through their press and their messengers, they have tried to win the neutrals for the government policies of their countries; they have delivered up to their governments Socialist Ministers as hostages for the preservation of civil peace, and thereby they have assumed the responsibility before the working class, before its present and its future, for this war, for its aims and its methods. And just as the individual parties, so the highest of the appointed representative bodies of the Socialists of all countries, the International Socialist Bureau, has failed them.
These facts are equally responsible for the fact that the international working class which did not succumb to the national panic of the first war period, or which freed itself from it, has still, in the second year of the slaughter of peoples, found no ways and means of taking up an energetic struggle for peace simultaneously in all countries.
In this unbearable situation, we, the representatives of the Socialist parties, trade unions and their minorities, we Germans, French, Italians, Russians, Poles, Letts, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Swedes, Norwegians, Dutch, and Swiss, we who stand, not on the ground of national solidarity with the exploiting class, but on the ground of the international solidarity of the proletariat and of the class struggle, have assembled to retie the torn threads of international relations and to call upon the working class to recover itself and to fight for peace.
This struggle is the struggle for freedom, for the reconciliation of peoples, for Socialism. It is necessary to take up this struggle for peace, for a peace without annexations or war indemnities. Such a peace, however, is only possible if every thought of violating the rights and liberties of nations is condemned. Neither the occupation of entire countries nor of separate parts of countries must lead to their violent annexation. No annexation, whether open or concealed, and no forcible economic attachment made still more unbearable by political disfranchisement. The right of self-determination of nations must be the indestructible principle in the system of national relationships of peoples.
Since the outbreak of the war, you have placed your energy, your courage, your endurance at the service of the ruling classes. Now you must stand up for your own cause, for the sacred aims of Socialism, for the emancipation of the oppressed nations as well as of the enslaved classes, by means of the irreconcilable proletarian class struggle.
It is the task and the duty of the Socialists of the belligerent countries to take up this struggle with full force; it is the task and the duty of the Socialists of the neutral states to support their brothers in this struggle against bloody barbarism with every effective means. Never in world history was there a more urgent, a more sublime task, the fulfillment of which should be our common labor. No sacrifice is too great, no burden too heavy in order to achieve this goal: peace among the peoples.
Working men and working women! Mothers and fathers! Widows and orphans! Wounded and crippled! We call to all of you who are suffering from the war and because of the war: Beyond all borders, beyond the reeking battlefields, beyond the devastated cities and villages --
Proletarians of all countries, unite!
Zimmerwald, September 1915.
In the name of the International Socialist Conference:
For the German delegation:
Georg Ledebour, Adolf Hoffmann.
For the French delegation:
A. Bourderon, A. Merrheim.
For the Italian delegation:
G.E. Modigliani, Constantino Lazzari.
For the Russian delegation:
N. Lenin, Paul Axelrod, M. Bobrov.
For the Polish delegation:
St. Lapinski, A. Warski, Cz. Hanecki.
For the Inter-Balkan Socialist Federation: In the name of the Rumanian delegation:
In the name of the Bulgarian delegation:
For the Swedish and Norwegian delegation:
Z. Hoglund, Ture Nerman.
For the Dutch delegation:
For the Swiss delegation:
Robert Grimm, Charles Naine.
V. Declaration of sympathy for the war victims and the persecuted,
adopted by the International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald
The International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald sends its expression of profoundest sympathy to the countless victims of the war, to the Polish and Belgian people, to the persecuted Jewish and Armenian peoples, to the millions of human beings who are tormented by boundless sufferings and who have had to bear untold horrors.
The Conference honors the memory of the great Socialist Jean Jaures, the first victim of the war who fell as a martyr and fighter in the struggle against chauvinism and for peace. It honors the memory of the Socialist fighters Tutzowicz and Catanesi, who lost their young lives on the battlefield.
The Conference sends the expression of its profound and fraternal sympathy to the Duma Deputies exiled to Siberia who are continuing the glorious revolutionary tradition of Russia, to Liebknecht and Monatte, fettered by capitalism, both of whom have taken up the struggle against the civil peace policy of the workers in their respective countries, to Comrades Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin who have been imprisoned for their Socialist convictions, and to all comrades, men and women, who have been persecuted or arrested because they have waged a struggle against war.
The Conference solemnly vows to honor the living and dead by following the example of these brave fighters and by indefatigably carrying out the task of awakening the revolutionary spirit in the masses of the international proletariat, and uniting them in the struggle against the fratricidal war and against capitalist society.
International Socialist Commission at Berne,
Bulletin No. 1, p. 8,
September 21, 1915.
VI. Draft resolution of the leftwing delegates at the
International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald
The World War, which has been devastating Europe for the last year, is an imperialist war waged for the political and economic exploitation of the world, export markets, sources of raw material, spheres of capital investment, etc. It is a product of capitalist development which connects the entire world in a world economy, but at the same time permits the existence of national state capitalist groups with opposing interests.
If the bourgeoisie and the governments seek to conceal this character of the World War by asserting that it is a question of a forced struggle for national independence, it is only to mislead the proletariat, since the war is being waged for the oppression of foreign peoples and countries. Equally untruthful are the legends concerning the defense of democracy in this war, since imperialism signifies the most unscrupulous domination of big capital and political reaction.
Imperialism can only be overcome by overcoming the contradictions which produce it, that is, by the Socialist organization of the advanced capitalist countries for which the objective conditions are already ripe.
At the outbreak of the war, the majority of the labor leaders had not raised this only possible slogan in opposition to imperialism. Prejudiced by nationalism, rotten with opportunism, at the beginning of the World War they betrayed the proletariat to imperialism and gave up the principles of Socialism and thereby the real struggle for the everyday interests of the proletariat.
Social-patriotism and social-imperialism, the standpoint of the openly patriotic majority of the formerly Social-Democratic leaders in Germany, as well as the opposition-mannered center of the party around Kautsky, and to which in France and Austria the majority, in England and Russia a part of the leaders (Hyndman, the Fabians, the Trade-Unionists, Plekhanov, Rubanovich, the Nasha Zarya group) confess, is a more dangerous enemy to the proletariat than the bourgeois apostles of imperialism, since, misusing the banner of Socialism, it can mislead the unenlightened workers. The ruthless struggle against social-imperialism constitutes the first condition for the revolutionary mobilization of the proletariat and the reconstruction of the International.
It is the task of the Socialist parties, as well as of the Socialist opposition in the now social-imperialist parties, to call and lead the laboring masses to the revolutionary struggle against the capitalist governments for the conquest of political power for the Socialist organization of society.
Without giving up the struggle for every foot of ground within the framework of capitalism, for every reform strengthening the proletariat, without renouncing any means of organization and agitation, the revolutionary Social-Democrats, on the contrary, must utilize all the struggles, all the reforms demanded by our minimum program for the purpose of sharpening this war crisis as well as every social and political crisis of capitalism of extending them to an attack upon its very foundations. By waging this struggle under the slogan of Socialism it will render the laboring masses immune to the slogans of the oppression of one people by another as expressed in the maintenance of the domination of one nation over another, in the cry for new annexations; it will render them deaf to the temptations of national solidarity which has led the proletarians to the battlefields.
The signal for this struggle is the struggle against the World War, for the speedy termination of the slaughter of nations. This struggle demands the refusal of war credits, quitting the cabinets, the denunciation of the capitalist, anti-Socialist character of the war from the tribunes of the parliaments, in the columns of the legal, and where necessary illegal, press, the sharpest struggle against social-patriotism, and the utilization of every movement of the people caused by the results of the war (misery, great losses etc.) for the organization of street demonstrations against the governments, propaganda of international solidarity in the trenches, the encouragement of economic strikes, the effort to transform them into political strikes under favorable conditions. Civil war, not civil peace -- that is the slogan!
As against all illusions that it is possible to bring about the basis of a lasting peace, the beginning of disarmament, by any decisions of diplomats and the governments, the revolutionary Social-Democrats must repeatedly tell the masses of the people that only the social revolution can bring about a lasting peace and the emancipation of humanity.
September 5-8, 1915.
International Socialist Commission at Berne,
Bulletin No. 2, p. 14,
November 27, 1915.
Note: This draft resolution was signed by two representatives of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (Zinoviev and Lenin), a representative of the Opposition of the Polish Social-Democracy (Radek), a representative of the Latvian province (Winter), a representative each of the Left Social-Democrats of Sweden (Hoglund) and Norway (Nerman), a Swiss delegate (Platten), and a German delegate. On the question of submitting the draft to the commission, 12 delegates voted for (the eight mentioned above, two Socialist-Revolutionaries, Trotsky, and Roland-Holst) and 19 against.
Sotsial-Demokrat Nos. 45-46,
October 11, 1915.
VII. Draft of manifesto introduced by the leftwing
Proletarians of Europe!
delegates at the International Socialist Conference
The war has now lasted for more than a year. The battlefields are strewn with millions of dead, millions have been crippled and doomed to remain a burden to themselves and to others for the rest of their lives. The war has caused terrific devastations, it will result in an unheard-of increase in taxes.
The capitalists of all countries, who at the price of proletarian blood, have been reaping enormous profits during the war, demand of the masses that they strain all their efforts and hold out to the end. They say: "The war is necessary for the defense of the fatherland, it is waged in the interests of democracy." They lie! In not a single country did the capitalists start the war because the independence of their country was threatened, or because they wanted to free an oppressed people. They have led the masses to slaughter because they want to oppress and to exploit other peoples. They were unable to agree between themselves as to how to divide the peoples of Asia and Africa that were still independent; they were lying in ambush for each other, watching for a chance to snatch from each other the spoils previously seized. It is not for their own freedom, nor for the freedom of other peoples, that the masses are bleeding in all parts of the immense slaughterhouse called Europe. This war will bring the proletariat of Europe and the peoples of Asia and Africa new burdens and new chains.
There is, therefore, no reason why this fratricidal war should be waged to the end, to the last drop of blood; on the contrary, every effort must be strained to put an end to it.
The time for this has already come. What you must demand first is that your Socialist Deputies, those whom you delegated to parliament to fight against capitalism, against militarism, against the exploitation of the people, do their duty. All of them, with the exception of the Russian, Serbian, and Italian comrades, and with the exception of Comrades Liebknecht and Ruhle, have trampled upon that duty; they have either supported the bourgeoisie in their rapacious war, or else have vacillated and have shirked responsibility. You must demand that they either resign from their seats or that they use the platform. Of Parliament to make clear to the people the nature of the present war and that outside of parliament they help the working class to resume its struggle. Your first demand must be this: refusal of all war credits, withdrawal from the cabinets in France, Belgium, and England.
But that is not all! The Deputies cannot save you from that rabid beast, the World War, that subsists on your blood. You must act yourselves. You must make use of all your organizations, of your entire press, to rouse the broadest masses groaning under the burden of the war to revolt against it. You must go out into the streets and throw into the face of the ruling classes your rallying cry: "Enough of slaughters!" Let the ruling classes remain deaf to it, the discontented masses will hear it and they will join you and take a part in the struggle.
The demand must immediately and energetically be made that the war be stopped, a loud protest must be raised against the exploitation of one people by another, against the division of any people among several states. All this will take place if any capitalist government comes out victorious and is able to dictate the terms of peace to the others. If we allow the capitalists to conclude peace in the same manner as they started the war without the participation of the masses, the new conquests will not only strengthen reaction and arbitrary police rule in the victorious country, but they will sow the seeds of new wars even more horrible.
The overthrow of the capitalist governments -- this is the object which the working class in all belligerent countries must set themselves, because only then will an end be put to the exploitation of one people by another, an end put to wars, when capital has been deprived of the power of disposing of the life and death of peoples. Only peoples who shall be freed of want and misery, of the rule of capital, will be in a position to settle their mutual relations, not by war, but by friendly agreement.
Great is the goal we set ourselves, great are the efforts that will be required to attain it, great will be the sacrifices before it is attained. Long will be the road to victory. Methods of peaceful pressure will be insufficient to overcome the enemy. But it is only when you are ready to make for your own liberation, in the struggle against capital, part of those innumerable sacrifices that you have been making on the battlefield for the interests of capital, only then will you be able to put an end to the war, to lay a firm foundation for a lasting peace, which will transform you from slaves of capital into free people.
But if the deceitful phrases of the bourgeoisie and of the Socialist parties that support it succeed in restraining you from energetic struggle, and if you confine yourselves to pious wishes because you are unwilling to proceed to an attack and to sacrifice your bodies and souls for the great cause, then capital will go on shedding your blood and wasting your belongings at its own discretion. In all countries the number of those who think as we do grows daily. It is by their order that we have assembled representatives of various countries to address to you this call to battle. We shall carry on this struggle with mutual support as there are no interests to divide us. It is essential that the revolutionary workers of each country deem it their duty and honorable distinction to serve as a model for others, a model of energy and self-sacrifice. Not timid expectation as to whither the struggle of others will lead, but struggle in the first ranks -- that is the road that leads to the formation of a powerful International which will put an end to war and capitalism.
September 5-8, 1915
Sotsial-Demokrat, Nos. 456,
October 11, 1915.
VIII. Two declarations made at the International
Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald
The undersigned declare as follows:
The manifesto adopted by the Conference does not give us complete satisfaction. It contains no pronouncement on either open opportunism or opportunism that is hiding under radical phraseology -- the opportunism which is not only the chief cause of the collapse of the International, but which strives to perpetuate that collapse. The manifesto contains no clear pronouncement as to the methods of fighting against the war.
We shall continue, as we have done heretofore, to advocate in the Socialist press and at the meetings of the International, a clear-cut Marxist position in regard to the tasks with which the epoch of imperialism has confronted the proletariat.
We vote for the manifesto because we regard it as a call to struggle and in this struggle we are anxious to march side by side with the other sections of the International.
We request that our present declaration be included in the official proceedings.
(Signed): N. Lenin, G. Zinoviev, Radek, Nerman, Hoglund, Winter.
The other declaration, which was signed, in addition to the group that had introduced the resolution of the Left by Roland-Holst and Trotsky, read as follows:
"Inasmuch as the adoption of our amendment (to the manifesto) demanding the vote against war appropriations might in a way endanger the success of the Conference, we do, under protest, withdraw our amendment and accept Ledebour's statement in the commission to the effect that the manifesto contains all that is implied in our proposition."
It may be added that Ledebour, as an ultimatum, demanded the rejection of the amendment, refusing to sign the manifesto otherwise.
Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 47,
October 13, 1915.
IX. War proclamation and program adopted at the
National Convention of the Socialist Party
of the United States, St. Louis, Mo., April 1917
The Socialist Party of the United States in the present grave crisis solemnly reaffirms its allegiance to the principle of internationalism and working-class solidarity the world over, and proclaims its unalterable opposition to the war just declared by the Government of the United States.
Modern wars as a rule have been caused by the commercial and financial rivalry and intrigues of the capitalist interests in the different countries. Whether they have been frankly waged as wars of aggression or have been hypocritically represented as wars of "defense," they have always been made by the [ruling] classes and fought by the masses. Wars bring wealth and power to the ruling classes, and suffering, death, and demoralization to the workers.
They breed a sinister spirit of passion, unreason, race hatred, and false patriotism. They obscure the struggles of the workers for life, liberty, and social justice. They tend to sever the vital bonds of solidarity between them and their brothers in other countries, to destroy their organizations and to curtail their civic and political rights and liberties.
The Socialist Party of the United States is unalterably opposed to the system of exploitation and class rule which is upheld and strengthened by military power and sham national patriotism. We therefore call upon the workers of all countries to refuse support to their governments in their wars. The wars of the contending national groups of capitalists are not the concern of the workers. The only struggle which would justify the workers in taking up arms is the great struggle of the working class of the world to free itself from economic exploitation and political oppression, and we particularly warn the workers against the snare and delusion of so-called defensive warfare. As against the false doctrine of national patriotism we uphold the ideal of international working class solidarity. In support of capitalism we will not willingly give a single life or a single dollar; in support of the struggle of the workers for freedom we pledge our all.
The mad orgy of death and destruction which is now convulsing unfortunate Europe was caused by the conflict of capitalist interests in the European countries.
In each of these countries, the workers were oppressed and exploited. They produced enormous wealth but the bulk of it was withheld from them by the owners of the industries. The workers were thus deprived of the means to repurchase the wealth which they themselves had created.
The capitalist class of each country was forced to look for foreign markets to dispose of the accumulated "surplus" wealth. The huge profits made by the capitalists could no longer be profitably reinvested in their own countries, hence, they were driven to look for foreign fields of investment. The geographical boundaries of each modern capitalist country thus became too narrow for the industrial and commercial operations of its capitalist class.
The efforts of the capitalists of all leading nations were, therefore, centered upon the domination of the world markets. The acquisition of colonial possessions and the extension of spheres of commercial and political influence became the object of diplomatic intrigues and the cause of constant clashes between nations.
The acute competition between the capitalist powers of the earth, their jealousies and distrusts of one another and the fear of the rising power of the working class forced each of them to arm to the teeth. This led to the mad rivalry of armament, which, years before the outbreak of the present war, had turned the leading countries of Europe into armed camps with standing armies of many millions, drilled and equipped for war in times of "peace." Capitalism imperialism and militarism had thus laid the foundation of an inevitable general conflict in Europe. The ghastly war in Europe was not caused by an accidental event, nor by the policy or institutions of any single nation. It was the logical outcome of the competitive capitalist system.
The 6,000,000 men of all countries and races who have been ruthlessly slain in the first 30 months of this war, the millions of others who have been crippled and maimed, the vast treasures of wealth that have been destroyed, the untold misery and sufferings of Europe, have not been sacrifices exacted in a struggle for principles or ideals, but wanton offerings upon the altar of private profit.
The forces of capitalism which have led to the war in Europe are even more hideously transparent in the war recently provoked by the ruling class of this country.
When Belgium was invaded, the government enjoined upon the people of this country the duty of remaining neutral, thus clearly demonstrating that the "dictates of humanity," and the fate of small nations and of democratic institutions were matters that did not concern it. But when our enormous war traffic was seriously threatened, our government calls upon us to rally to the "defense of democracy and civilization."
Our entrance into the European War was instigated by the predatory capitalists in the United States who boast of the enormous profit of $7 billion from the manufacture and sale of munitions and war supplies and from the exportation of American food stuffs and other necessaries. They are also deeply interested in the continuance of war and the success of the Allied arms through their huge loans to the governments of the Allied powers and through other commercial ties. It is the same interests which strive for imperialistic domination of the Western Hemisphere.
The war of the United States against Germany cannot be justified even on the plea that it is a war in defense of American rights or American "honor." Ruthless as the unrestricted submarine war policy of the German government was and is, it is not an invasion of the rights of the American people as such, but only an interference with the opportunity of certain groups of American capitalists to coin cold profits out of the blood and sufferings of our fellow men in the warring countries of Europe.
It is not a war against the militarist regime of the Central Powers. Militarism can never be abolished by militarism.
It is not a war to advance the cause of democracy in Europe. Democracy can never be imposed upon any country by a foreign power by force of arms.
It is cant and hypocrisy to say that the war is not directed against the German people, but against the Imperial Government of Germany. If we send an armed force to the battlefields of Europe, its cannon will mow down the masses of the German people and not the Imperial German Government.
Our entrance into the European conflict at this time will serve only to multiply the horrors of the war, to increase the toll of death and destruction and to prolong the fiendish slaughter. It will bring death, suffering, and destitution to the people of the United States and particularly to the working class. It will give the powers of reaction in this country the pretext for an attempt to throttle our rights and to crush our democratic institutions, and to fasten upon this country a permanent militarism.
The working class of the United States has no quarrel with the working class of Germany or of any other country. The people of the United States have no quarrel with the people of Germany or any other country. The American people did not want and do not want this war. They have not been consulted about the war and have had no part in declaring war. They have been plunged into this war by the trickery and treachery of the ruling class of the country through its representatives in the National Administration and National Congress, its demagogic agitators, its subsidized press and other servile instruments of public expression. We brand the declaration of war by our government as a crime against the people of the United States and against the nations of the world.
In all modern history there has been no war more unjustifiable than the war which we are about to engage.
No greater dishonor has ever been forced upon a people than that which the capitalist class is forcing upon this nation against its will.
In harmony with these principles, the Socialist Party emphatically rejects the proposal that in time of war the workers should suspend their struggle for better conditions. On the contrary, the acute situation created by war calls for an even more vigorous prosecution of the class struggle, and we recommend to the workers and pledge ourselves to the following course of action:
1. Continuous, active, and public opposition to the war through demonstrations, 1. Continuous, active, and public opposition to the war through demonstrations, mass petitions, and other means within our power.
2. Unyielding opposition to all proposed legislation for military or industrial 2. Unyielding opposition to all proposed legislation for military or industrial conscription. Should such conscription be forced upon the people we pledge ourselves to continuous efforts for the repeal of such laws and to the support of all mass movements in opposition to conscription. We pledge ourselves to oppose with all our strength any attempt to raise money for payment of war expense by taxing the necessaries of life or issuing bonds which will put the burden upon future generations. We demand that the capitalist class, which is responsible for the war, pay its cost. Let those who kindled the fire, furnish the fuel.
3. Vigorous resistance to all reactionary measures such as censorship of press 3. Vigorous resistance to all reactionary measures such as censorship of press and mails, restriction of the rights of free speech, assemblage, and organization, or compulsory arbitration and limitation of the right to strike.
4. Consistent propaganda against military training and militaristic teaching in 4. Consistent propaganda against military training and militaristic teaching in the public school.
5. Extension of the campaign of education among the workers to organize them 5. Extension of the campaign of education among the workers to organize them into strong, class-conscious, and closely unified political and industrial organizations to enable them by concerted and harmonious mass action to shorten this war and to establish lasting peace.
6. Widespread educational propaganda to enlighten the masses as to the true 6. Widespread educational propaganda to enlighten the masses as to the true relation between capitalism and war, and to rouse and organize them for action, not only against present war evils, but for the prevention of future wars and for the destruction of the causes of war.
7. To protect the masses of the American people from the pressing danger of 7. To protect the masses of the American people from the pressing danger of starvation which the war in Europe has brought upon them, and which the entry of the United States has already accentuated we demand --
(a) The restriction of food exports so long as the present shortage continues, the fixing of maximum prices and whatever measures may be necessary to prevent the food speculators from holding back the supplies now in their hands;
(b) The socialization and democratic management of the great industries concerned with the production, transportation, storage, and the marketing of food and other necessaries of life;
(c) The socialization and democratic management of all land and other natural resources now held out of use for monopolistic or speculative profit.
These measures are presented as means of protecting the workers against the evil results of the present war. The danger of recurrence of war will exist as long as the capitalist system of industry remains in existence. The end of wars will come with the establishment of socialized industry and industrial democracy the world over. The Socialist Party calls upon all the workers to join it in its struggle to reach this goal, and thus bring into the world a new society in which peace, fraternity, and human brotherhood will be the dominant ideals.
X. Decree on peace by the
Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets
The workers' and peasants' government, created by the Revolution of October 24-25 and basing itself on the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies, calls upon all the belligerent peoples and their governments to start immediate negotiations for a just, democratic peace.
By a just or democratic peace for which the overwhelming majority of the working class and other working people of all the belligerent countries, exhausted, tormented, and racked by the war, are craving -- a peace that has been most definitely and insistently demanded by the Russian workers and peasants ever since the overthrow of the czarist monarchy -- by such a peace the government means an immediate peace without annexations (i.e., without the seizure of foreign lands, without the forcible incorporation of foreign nations) and without indemnities.
The Government of Russia proposes that this kind of peace be immediately concluded by all the belligerent nations and expresses its readiness to take all the resolute measures now, without the least delay, pending the final ratification of all the terms of such a peace by authoritative assemblies of the people's representatives of all countries and all nations.
In accordance with the sense of justice of democrats in general, and of the working class in particular, the government conceives the annexation or seizure of foreign lands to mean every incorporation of a small or weak nation into a large or powerful state without the precisely, clearly and voluntarily expressed consent and wish of that nation irrespective of the time when such forcible incorporation took place, irrespective also of the degree of development or backwardness of the nation forcibly annexed to the given state or forcibly retained within its borders, and irrespective finally of whether this nation is in Europe or in distant overseas countries.
If any nation whatsoever is forcibly retained within the borders of a given state, if, in spite of its expressed desire -- no matter whether expressed in the press, at public meetings, in the decisions of parties, or in protests and uprisings against national oppression -- it is not accorded the right to decide the forms of its state existence by a free vote taken after the complete evacuation of the troops of the incorporating or generally of the stronger nation and without the least pressure being brought to bear, such incorporation is annexation, i.e., seizure and violence.
The government considers it the greatest of crimes against humanity to continue this war over the issue of how to divide among the strong and rich nations the weak nationalities they have conquered and solemnly announces its determination immediately to sign terms of peace to stop this war on the terms indicated, which are equally just for all nationalities without exception. At the same time the government declares that it does not regard the above-mentioned peace terms as an ultimatum; in other words, it is prepared to consider any other peace terms, and insists only that they be advanced by any of the belligerent countries as speedily as possible and that in the peace proposals there should be absolute clarity and the complete absence of all ambiguity and secrecy.
The government abolishes secret diplomacy, and, for its part, announces its firm intention to conduct all negotiations quite openly in full view of the whole people. It will proceed immediately with the full publication of the secret treaties endorsed or concluded by the government of landowners and capitalists from February to October 25, 1917 The government proclaims the unconditional and immediate annulment of everything contained in these secret treaties insofar as it is aimed, as is mostly the case, at securing advantages and privileges for the Russian landowners and capitalists and at the retention or extension of the annexations made by the Great Russians.
Proposing to the governments and peoples of all countries immediately to begin open negotiations for peace the government, for its part, expresses its readiness to conduct these negotiations in writing, by telegraph, and by negotiations between representatives of the various countries or at a conference of such representatives. In order to facilitate such negotiations the government is appointing its plenipotentiary representative to neutral countries.
The government proposes an immediate armistice to the governments and peoples of all the belligerent countries and for its part considers it desirable that this armistice should be concluded for a period of not less than three months, i.e. a period long enough to permit the completion of negotiations for peace with the participation of the representatives of all peoples or nations, without exception, involved in or compelled to take part in the war, and the summoning of authoritative assemblies of the representatives of the peoples of all countries for the final ratification of the peace terms.
While addressing this proposal for peace to the governments and people of all the belligerent countries, the Provisional Workers and Peasants Government of Russia appeals in particular also to the class-conscious workers of the three most advanced nations of humanity and the largest states participating in the present war, namely, Great Britain, France, and Germany. The workers of these countries have made the greatest contributions to the cause of progress and socialism; they have furnished the great examples of the Chartist movement in England, a number of revolutions of historic importance effected by the French proletariat, and, finally, the heroic struggle against the Anti-Socialist Law in Germany and the prolonged, persistent, and disciplined work of creating mass proletarian organizations in Germany, a work which serves as a model to the workers of the whole world. All these examples of proletarian heroism and historical creative work are a pledge that the workers of the countries mentioned will understand the duty that now faces them of saving humanity from the horrors of war and its consequences, that these workers by comprehensive, determined, and supremely vigorous action, will help us to conclude peace successfully, and at the same time emancipate the laboring and exploited masses of our population from all forms of slavery and all forms of exploitation.
The workers and peasants government, created by the Revolution of October 24-25 and basing itself on the support of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies, must start immediate negotiations for peace. Our appeal must be addressed both to the governments and to the peoples. We cannot ignore the governments, for that would delay the possibility of concluding peace, and the people's government dare not do that; but we have no right not to appeal to the peoples at the same time. Everywhere there are differences between the governments and the peoples, and we must therefore help the peoples to intervene in questions of war and peace. We will, of course, insist upon the whole of our program for a peace without annexations and indemnities. We shall not retreat from it, but we must not give our enemies an opportunity to say that their conditions are different from ours and that therefore it is useless to start negotiations with us. No, we must deprive them of that advantageous position and not present our terms in the form of an ultimatum. Therefore the point is included that we are willing to consider any peace terms and all proposals. We shall consider them, but that does not necessarily mean that we shall accept them. We shall submit them for consideration to the Constituent Assembly which will have the power to decide what concessions can and what cannot be made. We are combating the deception practiced by governments which pay lip-service to peace and justice, but in fact wage annexationist and predatory wars. No government will say all it thinks. We, however, are opposed to secret diplomacy and will act openly in full view of the whole people. We do not close our eyes to difficulties and never have done. War cannot be ended by refusal, it cannot be ended by one side. We are proposing an armistice for three months but shall not reject a shorter period so that the exhausted army may breathe freely even if only for a little while; moreover, in all the civilized countries national assemblies must be summoned for the discussion of the terms.
In proposing an immediate armistice we appeal to the class-conscious workers of the countries that have done so much for the development of the proletarian movement. We appeal to the workers of Britain, where there was the Chartist movement, to the workers of France, who have in repeated uprisings displayed the strength of their class-consciousness, and to the workers of Germany, who waged the fight against the Anti-Socialist Law and have created powerful organizations.
In the Manifesto of March 14, we called for the overthrow of the bankers, but, far from overthrowing our own bankers, we entered into an alliance with them. Now we have overthrown the government of the bankers.
The governments and the bourgeoisie will make every effort to unite their forces and drown the workers' and peasants' revolution in blood. But the three years of war have been a good lesson to the masses -- the Soviet movement in other countries and the mutiny in the German navy, which was crushed by the officer cadets of Wilhelm the hangman. Finally, we must remember that we are not living in the depths of Africa, but in Europe, where news can spread quickly.
The workers' movement will triumph and will pave the way to peace and socialism.
Izvestia No. 208, October 27, 1917,
and Pravda No. 171, October 28, 1917