__________________

 

 

LETTER FROM LENIN TO CLARA ZETKIN AND PAUL LEVI

129

 

To:   CLARA ZETKIN AND PAUL LEVI [1]


Translated from the German. 


 Lenin Collected Works,  Volume 45, pages 124-125a. 

 


 

16.4.1921.

Comrades Zetkin and Levi:

 

 

Thank you very much for your letters, dear Friends. Unfortunately, I have been so busy and so overworked in the last few weeks that I have had practically no opportunity to read the German press. The only thing I have seen is the Open Letter,[2] which I think is perfectly correct tactics (I have condemned the contrary opinion of our “Lefts” who were opposed to this letter). As for the recent strike movement and the action in Germany, I have read absolutely nothing about it.[3] I readily believe that the representative of the Executive Committee defended the silly tactics, which were too much to the left—to take immediate action “to help the Russians”: this representative is very often too Left.[4] I think that in such cases you should not give in but should protest and immediately bring up this question officially at a plenary meeting of the Executive Bureau.

I consider your tactics in respect of Serrati erroneous. Any defence or even semi-defence of Serrati was a mistake. But to withdraw from the Central Committee!!?? That, in any case, was the biggest mistake! If we tolerate the practice of responsible members of the Central Committee withdrawing from it when they are left in a minority, the Communist Parties will never develop normally or become strong.[5] Instead of withdrawing, it would have been better to discuss the controversial question several times jointly with the Executive Committee. Now, Comrade Levi wants to write a pamphlet, i.e., to deepen the contradiction! What is the use of all this?? I am convinced that it is a big mistake.[6]

Why not wait? The congress opens here on June 1.[7] Why not have a private discussion here, before the congress?   Without public polemics, without withdrawals, without pamphlets on differences. We are so short of tried and tested forces that I am really indignant when I hear comrades announcing their withdrawal, etc. There is need to do everything possible and a few things that are impossible to avoid withdrawals and aggravation of differences at all costs.

Our position in February and March was grave. This is a peasant country, with a peasant economy—the vast majority of the population. They vacillate, they are ruined and are disgruntled. But we should not be too pessimistic. We have made some timely concessions. And I am sure that we shall win.

Best regards and wishes.

 

 

Yours, 


Lenin

 

 

_______


Notes

 

 

[1] On the copy, Lenin made the following remarks: “This is my reply to Levi and Zetkin, 16/4, 1921”, “Keep in the archives. Make another 2 or 3 copies”, “Return”, “received 17/V—1921”.—Ed.

 

[2] The “Open Letter” (“Offener Brief”) from the Central Committee of the United Communist Party of Germany to the Socialist Party of Germany, the Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany, the Communist Workers’ Party of Germany, and to nil trade union organisations was published in Die Rote Fahne No. 11 on January 8, 1921. The letter urged nil workers’, trade union and socialist organisations in Germany to join efforts in fighting   the growing reaction and the capitalist offensive against the working people’s vital rights.

Although the workers came out in favour of the united proletarian front, the proposal for joint action with the Communists was rejected by the Right-wing leadership of the organisations to which the “Open Letter” was addressed.

 

[3] A reference to armed action by the proletariat of Germany in March 1921.

The Left-wing majority of the C.C. of the United Communist Party of Germany, proceeding from the so-called “theory of the offensive”, whose supporters held that offensive tactics were the only correct ones in any situation, regardless of the concrete political conditions, pushed the workers towards a premature uprising. Making use of this, the German bourgeoisie provoked armed action at an unfavourable moment. An uprising broke out in several areas of Central Germany in March 1921. Despite the workers’ heroic action, the uprising was put down, because the majority of the working class had not been prepared for the action and had not taken part in the fighting.

 

[4] A reference to Béla Kun, then member of the Presidium of the Comintern Executive Committee.

 

[5] Paul Levi attended the Seventeenth Congress of the Italian Socialist Party as a representative of the United Communist Party of Germany. The congress was held at Livorno from January 15 to 21, 1921, and marked a split in the Party. Upon his return to Germany Levi came out in defence of the Italian Centrists headed by Giacinto Serrati. On February 24, 1921, after the Central Committee of the United Communist Party of Germany adopted a resolution against Serrati and his supporters, and welcomed the establishment of the Communist Party of Italy, five members of the Central Committee of the United Communist Party of Germany (Otto Bra&Bwhatthe;, Ernst Däumig, A. Hoffmann, Paul Levi, and Clara Zetkin) withdrew from the C.C., saying that they disagreed with the Central Committee.

 

[6] On March 29, 1921, Paul Levi wrote Lenin a letter to which the present document is a reply. Levi condemned the March action and declared that he was withdrawing from the Party leadership and would write a pamphlet setting out his views.

In early April 1921, Levi issued a pamphlet entitled Unser Weg. Wider den Putschismus (“Our Way. Against Putschism”), in which lie called the struggle of hundreds of thousands of German proletarians a “Bakuninist putsch”. Levi urged the workers to condemn the Communists, alleging that they were responsible for the defeat of the uprising. On April 15, 1921, the Central Committee of the U.C.P.G. expelled Levi from the Party for a gross breach of the Party discipline and the harm done to the Party by the publication of his pamphlet, and demanded that he give   up his parliamentary seat. On April 29, the Comintern Executive Committee endorsed the decision of the U.C.P.G. Central Committee expelling Levi from the Party. The question of the tactical differences which arose in connection with the March action was referred to the Third Congress of the Comintern, which confirmed Levi’s expulsion from the Party. Subsequently Levi went over entirely to Social-Democratic positions and carried on a light against the Communist International.

 

[7] A reference to the Third Congress of the Communist International, which opened in Moscow on June 22, 1921.

 

 

156

 

To:   CLARA ZETKIN


 Written in German 
Published: First published in Russian in Pravda No. 21, January 21, 1933. Printed from the original. 
 Lenin Collected Works,  Volume 35, pages 343-344. 

July 26, 1918

Esteemed Comrade Zetkin,

 

 

Many warm thanks for your letter of June 27, which was brought me by Comrade Hertha Hordon. I will do all I can to help Comrade Hordon.

We are all extremely glad that you. Comrade Mehring and the other “Spartacus comrades” in Germany are with us, “head and heart”.[1] This gives us confidence that the best elements of the West-European working class—in spite of all difficulties—will nevertheless come to our assistance.

We here are now living through perhaps the most difficult weeks of the whole revolution. The class struggle and the civil war have penetrated deep among the population: everywhere there is a split in the villages—the poor are for us, the kulaks are furiously against us. The Entente has bought the Czechoslovaks, a counter-revolutionary revolt is raging, the bourgeoisie is making every effort to overthrow us. Nevertheless, we firmly believe that we shall escape this “usual” (as in 1794 and 1849) course of the revolution, and will conquer the bourgeoisie.

With great gratitude, very best greetings and sincere respect,

Yours, 
Lenin

P.S. My wife asks me to give you her special greetings. To Comrade Hoschka (we have translated his speech, as we   have your article) and to all, all friends the very best greetings.

P.S. I have just been brought our new State Seal. Here is the impression. The inscription reads: Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Workers of all countries, unite![2]

 

 

____-__-


Notes

 

 

[1] Spartacists—members of the Spartacus group, a revolutionary organisation of the German Left Social-Democrats, formed at the   beginning of the First World War by Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin, Julian Marchlewski, Leon Jogiches (Tyszka) and Wilhelm Pieck. The group carried on revolutionary propaganda among the masses, organised anti-war demonstrations, led strikes, and exposed the, imperialist nature of the war and the treachery of the opportunist Social-Democratic leaders. In April 1917, the group joined the Centrist Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany, while maintaining its organisational independence. In November 1918, during the revolution in Germany, the group renamed itself the Spartacus League; on December 14, 1918 it published its own programme and broke with the “Independents”. At the Inaugural Congress held from December 30, 1918 to January 1, 1919 the Spartacists founded the Communist Party of Germany.

 

[2] Lenin stamped the end of the letter with the State Seal of the R.S.F.S.R.


 

 

Letter To The Central Committee Of The Communist Party Of Germany Regarding The Split

 

To Comrades Paul Levi, Clara Zetkin, Eberlein And The Other Members Of The Cc. Of The Communist Party Of Germany


October 28, 1919
Collected Works, Volume 30,p. 87-88


Dear Friends,

I have forwarded to you for publication a letter dated October 10, 1919, “Greetings to French, Italian and German Communists”, in which I have referred, among other things, to your disagreements with the supporters of the boycott, the semi-syndicalists, etc. Today I have learned from the German government wireless message (from Nauen) about a split in your party: although the source is a filthy one, it is probably telling the truth in this case, because letters from our friends in Germany speak of the possibility of a split.

The only thing that seems incredible is this radio report that with 25 votes against 18, you expelled the minority, which, they tell us, then set up a party of its own. I know very little about this breakaway opposition, for I have seen only a few issues of the Berlin Rote Fahne. My impression is that they are very gifted propagandists, inexperienced and young, like our own Left Communists ("Left” due to lack of experience and youth) of 1918. Given agreement on the basic issue (for Soviet rule, against bourgeois parliamentarism), unity, in my opinion, is possible and necessary, just as a split is necessary with the Kautskyites. If the split was inevitable, efforts should be made not to deepen it, but to approach the Executive Committee of the Third International for mediation and to make the “Lefts” formulate their differences in theses and in a pamphlet. Restoration of unity in the Communist Party of Germany is both possible and necessary from the international standpoint. I would be extremely glad to get a letter from you on this subject. I am enclosing a letter to the breakaway group, and hope that you will forward it at the time of publishing my article, which, written before the news of the split was received, fully recognises the correctness of your standpoint.

A hearty handshake and warm wishes for success.to you in your difficult work. The communist movement is growing splendidly throughout the world. It is slower than we would like, but broad, powerful, deep and invincible. As was the case in Russia, the stage of the dominance of the “Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries” (of the Second International) is discernible everywhere. This dominance will be succeeded by that of the Communists and the victory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of Soviet government.

 

With communist greetings,

 

N. Lenin


 

ON CLARA ZETKIN

Quotations of Lenin

 

 

 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 

February-May 1904

 

Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 7, pp. 203-425.

(chapter " j ")

 

It is literally the same point and the same jibe as was addressed by Clara Zetkin to Bebel and Liebknecht in 1895, when she said: "Es tut mir in der Seele weh, dass ich dich in der Gesellschaft seh ’" (“It cuts me to the quick to see you [i.e., Bebel] in such company [i.e., of Vollmar and Co.]”). It is strange, to be sure, that Bebel and Liebknecht did not send a hysterical message to Kautsky and Zetkin complaining of a false accusation of opportunism....

The International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart

August/ September 1907

 

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 13, pages 75 - 81

and pages 82 - 93

 

The First International Socialist Women’s Conference was held concurrently with the Congress in the same building. Both at this Conference and in the Congress Commission there was an interesting dispute between the German and Austrian Social-Democrats on the draft resolution. In   their campaign for universal suffrage the Austrians tended to play down the demand for equal rights of men and women; on practical grounds they placed the main emphasis on male suffrage. Clara Zetkin and other German Social-Democrats rightly pointed out to the Austrians that they were acting incorrectly, and that by failing to press the demand that the vote be granted to Women as well as men, they were weakening the mass movement. The concluding words of the Stuttgart resolution (“the demand for universal suffrage should be put forward simultaneously for both men and women”) undoubtedly relate to this episode of excessive “practicalism” in the history of the Austrian labour movement.

 

Clara Zetkin rightly remarked in her journal Die Gleichheit that Plekhanov’s arguments for neutrality were just as lame as those of the French. And the Stuttgart resolution—as Kautsky rightly observed and as anyone who takes the trouble to read it carefully will see—puts an end to recognition of the “neutrality” principle. There is not a word in it about neutrality or non-party principles. On the contrary, it definitely recognises the need for closer and stronger connections between the unions and the socialist parties.

 

 

 

The Stuttgart Congress made a big stride forward in the same direction, and on a number of important issues proved to be the supreme body determining the political line of socialism. The Stuttgart Congress, more firmly even than the Amsterdam Congress, laid this line down in the spirit of revolutionary Social-Democracy as opposed to opportunism. Die Gleichheit, the organ of the German Social-Democratic women workers, edited byClara Zetkin, justly observed in this connection:

On all questions the various deviations of certain socialist parties towards opportunism were corrected in a revolutionary sense with the co-operation of the socialists of all countries.”

 

In Amsterdam,” writes Clara Zetkin’s journal, “the revolutionary leit-motiv of all the debates in the parliament of the world proletariat was the Dresden resolution; in Stuttgart a jarring opportunist note was struck by Vollmar’s speeches in the Commission on Militarism, by Pup low’s speeches in the Emigration Commission, and by David’s [and, we would add, Bernstein’s] speeches in the Colonial Commission. On this occasion, in most of the commissions and on most issues, the representatives of Germany were leaders of opportunism.”

 

And K. Kautsky, in appraising the Stuttgart Congress, writes: ". . .the leading role which German Social-Democracy has actually played in the Second International up to now was not in evidence on this occasion.”

 

The resolution of the Stuttgart Congress says all that we need. It puts an end to neutrality for ever.”Clara Zetkin writes:

In principle, no one [in Stuttgart] any longer disputed the basic historical tendency of the proletarian class struggle to link the political with the economic struggle, to unite the political and economic organisations as closely as possible into a single socialist working-class force. Only the representative of the Russian Social-Democrats, Comrade Plekhanov [she should have said the representative of the Mensheviks, who delegated him to the Commission as an advocate of “neutrality”] and the majority of the French delegation attempted, by rather unconvincing arguments, to justify a certain limitation of this principle on the plea that special conditions prevailed in their countries. The overwhelming majority of the Congress favoured a resolute policy of unity between Social-Democracy and the trade unions.

It should be mentioned that Plekhanov’s unconvincing (as Zetkin rightly considered it) argument went the rounds of the Russian legally published papers in this form. In the Commission of the Stuttgart Congress Plekhanov referred to the fact that “there are eleven revolutionary parties in Russia”; “which one of them should the trade unions unite with?” (We are quoting from Vorwärts, No. 196,1. Beilage.) This reference of Plekhanov’s is wrong both in fact and in principle. Actually no more than two parties in every nationality of Russia are contending for influence over the socialist proletariat: the Social-Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Polish Social-Democrats and the Polish Socialist Party, the Lettish Social-Democrats and the Lettish Socialist-Revolutionaries (known as the Lettish Social-Democratic League), the Armenian Social-Democrats and the Dashnaktsutyuns, etc. The Russian delegation in Stuttgart also at once divided into two sections. The figure eleven is quite arbitrary and misleads the workers. From standpoint of principle Plekhanov is wrong because the struggle between proletarian and petty-bourgeois socialism, in Russia is inevitable everywhere, including the trade unions. The British delegates, for example, never thought of opposing the resolution, although they, too, have two contending socialist parties—the Social-Democratic Federation and the Independent Labour Party.

 

The resolution on women’s suffrage was also adopted unanimously. Only one Englishwoman from the semi-bourgeois Fabian Society defended the admissibility of a   struggle not for full women’s suffrage but for one limited to those possessing property. The Congress rejected this unconditionally and declared in favour of women workers campaigning for the franchise, not in conjunction with the bourgeois supporters of women’s rights, hut in conjunction with the class parties of the proletariat. The Congress recognised that in the campaign for women’s suffrage it was necessary to uphold fully the principles of socialism and equal rights for men and women without distorting those principles for the sake of expediency.

In this connection an interesting difference of opinion arose in the Commission. The Austrians (Viktor Adler, Adelheid Popp) justified their tactics in the struggle for universal manhood suffrage: for the sake of winning this suffrage, they thought it expedient in their campaign not to put the demand for women’s suffrage, too, in the fore ground. The German Social-Democrats, and especially Clara Zetkin, had protested against this when the Austrians were campaigning for universal suffrage. Zetkin declared in the press that they should not under any circumstances have neglected the demand for women’s suffrage, that the Austrians had opportunistically sacrificed principle to expediency, and that they would not have narrowed the scope of their agitation, but would have widened it and increased the force of the popular movement had they fought for women’s suffrage with the same energy. In the Commission Zetkin was supported whole-heartedly by another prominent German woman Social-Democrat, Zietz. Adler’s amendment, which indirectly justified the Austrian tactics, was rejected by 12 votes to 9 (this amendment stated only that there should be no abatement of the struggle for a suffrage that would really extend to all citizens, instead of stating that the struggle for the suffrage should always include the demand for equal rights for men and women). The point of view of the Commission and of the Congress may be most accurately expressed in the following words of the above-mentioned Zietz in her speech at the International Social ist Women’s Conference (this Conference took place in Stuttgart at the same time as the Congress):

In principle we must demand all that we consider to be correct,” said Zietz, “and only when our strength is inadequate   for more, do we accept what we are able to get. That has always been the tactics of Social-Democracy. The more modest our demands the more modest will the government be in its concessions....” This controversy between the Austrian and German women Social-Democrats will enable the reader to see how severely the best Marxists treat the slightest deviation from the principles of consistent revolutionary tactics.

 

This most outstanding, most important feature of the Congress resolution on anti-militarism has been very aptly caught in Zetkin’s journal, to which we have already referred more than once.

Here too,” Zetkin says of the anti-militarist resolution, “the revolutionary energy [Tatkraft] and courageous faith of the working class in its fighting capacity won in the end, winning, on the one hand, over the pessimistic gospel of impotence and the hidebound tendency to stick to old, exclusively parliamentary methods of struggle, and, on the other hand, over the banal anti-militarist sport of the French semi-anarchists of the. Hervé type. The resolution, which was finally carried unanimously both by the Commission and by nearly 900 delegates of all countries, expresses in vigorous terms the gigantic upswing of the revolutionary labour movement since the last International Congress; the resolution puts forward as a principle that proletarian tactics should be flexible, capable of developing, and sharpening [Zuspitzung] in proportion as conditions ripen for that purpose.”

Hervéism has been rejected, but rejected not in favour of opportunism, not from the point of view of dogmatism   and passivity. The vital urge towards more and more resolute and new methods of struggle is fully recognised by the international proletariat and linked up with the intensification of all the economic contradictions, with all the conditions of the crises engendered by capitalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes to Clara Zetkin’s Article “International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart”

International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart )

early October 1907

Lenin; Collected Works, Volume 41, pages 201.2-203.

 

.. .

*)This article is a translation of an editorial in the German Social-Democratic fortnightly Die Gleichheit (Equality), which is edited by Clara Zetkin and is the organ of the women’s labour movement in Germany. The assessment of the Stuttgart Congress is here given with remarkable correctness and talent: clear, concise and bold propositions sum up the tremendous ideological context of the Congress debates and resolutions. For our part, we add several notes to this article to indicate to the Russian reader some facts coming from the West-European socialist press, facts largely distorted by our Cadet and semi-Cadet newspapers   (like Tovarishch), which have told many lies about the Stuttgart Congress.
. . .

Thequestion of relations between the Social-Democrats and the trade unions went best to show the unanimity of class-conscious proletarians of all countries. No one any longer objected in principle against the basic historical tendency of the proletarian class struggle—to connect as closely as possible the political and the economic struggle, and also organisations in both, into a single force of the socialist working class. Only the representative of the Russian Social-Democrats, Plekhanov, and the majority of the French delegation fell back on rather unsatisfactory arguments *) in an effort to justify some restrictions on this principle by referring to the special conditions prevailing in their countries.
. . .

*)The Russian Social-Democratic delegation in Stuttgart had a preliminary discussion of the questions in sub stance with a view to appointing its representatives to the commission. In the commission on relations between the trade unions and the socialist parties, Plekhanov did not represent all the Russian Social-Democrats, but only the Mensheviks. Plekhanov went into the commission to stand up for the principle of “neutrality”. The Bolsheviks sent Voinov to the commission and he stood up for the Party’s view, i.e., the decision in the spirit of the London Congress against neutrality, and for the closest contacts between the trade unions and the Party. Consequently, Clara Zetkin regarded as “unsatisfactory” the arguments not of the R.S.D.L.P. representative, but of the representative of the Menshevik opposition in the R.S.D.L.P.
. . .

Andhere, ultimately, the revolutionary energy and indomitable faith of the working class in its own fighting capacity won out, on the one hand, over the pessimistic credo of its own impotence and hidebound stand for the old and exclusively parliamentary methods of struggle, and on the other, oversimplified anti-militarist sport of the French semi-anarchists à la Hervé.*)
. . .

*)The author of the article, while contrasting the two deviations from socialism rejected by the Congress: Hervé’s semi-anarchism, and opportunism, included in the “exclusively parliamentary” forms of struggle, fails to name any spokesmen of this opportunism. In the commission of the   Stuttgart Congress, on the question of militarism, the same antithesis was made by Vandervelde when he objected to the opportunist speech of Vollmar. Vollmar hints at Hervé’s expulsion, said Vandervelde, but I protest, against this and warn Vollmar, because the expulsion of the extreme Left wingers would suggest the idea of expelling the extreme Right-wingers (Vollmar is one of the most “Rightist” German opportunists).
. . .

Finally,on the question of women’s suffrage as well, the sharply principled class standpoint, which regards women’s suffrage as nothing but an organic part of the proletariat’s class right and class cause, won out over the opportunist bourgeois view which hopes to wheedle out of the ruling classes a mutilated and curtailed suffrage for women.*)
. . .

*)At the Congress in Stuttgart, this bourgeois stand point was backed only by an Englishwoman from the Fabian Society (a quasi-socialist organisation of British intellectuals taking an extremely opportunist stand).
. . .

Atthe same time, the Congress—confirming the resolution of the International Women’s Conference on this point—stated unequivocally that in their struggle for suffrage the socialist parties must put forward and uphold the principled demand for women’s suffrage, regardless of any “considerations of convenience”.*)
. . .

*)A hint at the Austrian Social-Democrats. Both at the International Socialist Women’s Conference and in the Congress committee dealing with the women’s question, there was a polemic between the German and the Austrian Social-Democratic women. Clara Zetkin had earlier reproached the Austrian Social-Democrats in the press for pushing into the background the demand for women’s suffrage in their agitation for electoral rights. The Austrians put up a very lame defence, and Victor Adler’s amendment, which very cautiously conducted “Austrian opportunism” in this question, was rejected in the commission by 12 votes to 9.

 

 

 

The Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.

 

JANUARY 5–17 (18–30), 1912

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 17

PROPERTY IN THE HANDS OF THE FORMER TRUSTEE, AND FINANCIAL REPORTS

 

The Conference notes the statement of the authorised representatives of the Bolsheviks, with whom the Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee concluded an agreement in January 1910, providing for the conditional transfer by the Bolsheviks of the property of their group to the Central Committee, and resolves that

(1) in view of the fact that the liquidators violated the agreement, and that the trustees have refused to act as arbitrators, the Bolshevik representatives have every formal right to dispose both of the property in their own hands and of the property now in the hands of Comrade Zetkin, former trustee;

(2) following the application made by the representatives of the Bolsheviks, the Conference regards the funds now in Comrade Zetkin’s keeping as unquestionably belonging to the Party through the Central Committee elected by the Conference, and

(3) instructs the Central Committee to take all measures immediately to obtain the property of the Party from Comrade Zetkin.

 

 

THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE PARTY

 

July 1911

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 180-184.

 

 

Our Party has undoubtedly arrived at one of the critical points of its development. All Bolsheviks must do their utmost to fully clarify their principles, to unite, and once again lead the Party out on to the high road.

The events that have just taken place abroad (June and July 1911) are a sign of crisis in the Party centres. These events, described and commented upon in a number of leaflets of nearly all groups and trends, amount to this, that the liquidators (through the Central Committee Bureau Abroad —C.C.B.A.) have finally prevented the convocation of a plenum. The Bolsheviks have broken with this C.C.B.A., which has outlawed itself, and jointly with the “conciliators” and the Poles have set up a Technical Commission and an Organising Commission for the convocation of a conference.

What are the principles involved in these events?

The break with the liquidators, who had broken with the R.S.D.L.P., but continued to obstruct all its work from inside the centres (like the C.C.B.A.), means the elimination of this obstruction and the possibility of unanimously setting about the restoration of the illegal and really revolutionary Social-Democratic Party. That is the first and main thing. The second is that the break with the C.C.B.A., which had violated all Party laws (and the consequent resignation from the C.O. editorial board of Martov and Dan, who since February 1910 had taken no part in the C.O.), means putting right the mistake of the plenum (in January 1910) owing to which it was not the pro-Party Mensheviks but the Golosists (i.e., liquidators) who turned out to be in the central bodies. The principle laid down by the plenum   (cleansing the workers’ party of the bourgeois trends of liquidationism and otzovism) has now been divested of the liquidationist centres concealing it.

Fortunately, a court of arbitration has now assessed the hypocritical outcries of the Golos people and Trotsky in defence of the C.C.B.A. Three German Social-Democrats (Mehring, Kautsky and Clara Zetkin) were to decide the question of the Bolshevik funds conditionally handed over to the C.C., and they decided provisionally, pending the conference, to give the money to the Technical Commission and not to the C.C.B.A. This decision is tantamount to the court of arbitration’s recognition that the C.C.B.A. was in the wrong.

What is the attitude of the other factions abroad? Trotsky, of course, is solidly behind the liquidators, the Vperyodists[5] also (they have not yet said as much in the press, but it is known from their official negotiations with the Organising Commission). Plekhanov is “on the fence”, while preaching agreement with the C.C.B.A. (see Plekhanovites’ resolution).

The C.C.B.A. is itself trying to set about the calling of a conference, with the help of Trotsky, Vperyod and Co. Whether anything will come of such an “alliance”, no one knows. A collapse of principle is there inevitable. Nothing even resembling Party work can result from this bloc. The “bloc” which is being organised by the former C.C.B.A. means nothing but intrigue to cover up the anti-Party and anti-Social-Democratic activity of the group of Messrs. Potresov, Mikhail, Yuri, Roman and Co.

The Bolsheviks’ task now is to unite, beat off the attack of all the enemies of Social-Democracy, give a lead to all who are wavering, and help the illegal R.S.D.L.P. to get on its feet.

Some say this is a split. The hypocrisy of these outcries from the gentry in the C.C.B.A. has been recognised even by the Germans, who are not familiar with Russian affairs. Martov’s pamphlet in German, delivered to the holders of the funds, caused Clara Zetkin to make this comment: “A disgusting production.”


 

Socialism and War

Lenin, Works, Volume 21

 

What must remain the touchstone for every interntionalist is—hostility towards neo-Kautskyism. Only he is a genuine internationalist who fights Kautskyism, who understands that, fundamentally, the “Centre”, even after the sham turn taken by its leaders, remains an ally of the chauvinists and opportunists.

Of enormous importance is our attitude towards the wavering elements in the International in general. These elements—mainly Socialists of the pacifist shade—are to be found both in the neutral countries and in some of the belligerent countries (in England, for example, the Independent Labour Party). These elements can be our fellow travellers. Rapprochement with them in opposition to the social-chauvinists is necessary. But it must be borne in mind that they are only fellow travellers, that on the chief and fundamental issues, with the restoration of the International, these elements will go not with us, but against us, they will go with Kautsky, Scheidemann, Vandervelde and Sembat. At international conferences we must not limit out programme to what is acceptable to these elements. If we do, we will become the captives of the   wavering pacifists. This is what happened, for example, at the International Women’s Conference in Berne. The German delegation, which supported Comrade Clara Zetkin’s point of view, actually played the part of the “Centre” at this conference. The Women’s Conference said only what was acceptable to the delegates from the opportunist Dutch party led by Troelstra, and to the delegates of the Independent Labour Party, which—we will not forget this—at the London conference of “Entente” chauvinists voted for Vandervelde’s resolution. We express our greatest respect for the I.L.P. for the brave struggle it has been waging against the British government during the war. But we know that this party has not adopted the Marxist stand. We, however, are of the opinion that the chief task of the Social-Democratic opposition at the present moment is to raise the banner of revolutionary Marxism, to tell the workers firmly and definitely how we regard imperialist wars, to issue the watchword of mass revolutionary action, i.e., transform the epoch of imperialist wars into the beginning of the epoch of civil wars.

 

(red colored, bold and underlined by the Comintern [SH])

 

 

 

Appeal on the War

 

Lenin, Works, Volume 21

 

The German socialists who have not gone over to the side of the bourgeoisie have declared in the press that they consider the tactics of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma “heroic”. In Germany, calls against the war and against the government are being published illegally. Tens and hundreds of the finest socialists of Germany, including Clara Zetkin, the well-known representative of the women’s labour movement, have been thrown into prison by the German Government for propaganda in a revolutionary spirit. In all the belligerent countries without exception, indignation is mounting in the working masses, and the example of revolutionary activities set by the Social-Democrats of Russia, and even more so any success of the revolution in Russia, will not fail to advance the great cause of socialism, of the victory of the proletariat over the bloodstained bourgeois exploiters.

 

 

 

Lenin; collected works, Volume 41

 

The First International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald

AUGUST 23–26 (SEPTEMBER 3–8), 1914 

4

SPEECHES IN THE DEBATE ON THE MANIFESTO AND THE DRAFT RESOLUTION ON THE WAR AND THE TASKS OF SOCIAL-DEMOCRACY

AUGUST 25 (SEPTEMBER 7)

 

Now on the question of persecutions:

You in Germany should in general do more than legal work, if you want real action. You must combine legal and illegal activity. The old methods are no longer adequate to the new situation. You yourselves have said: we are going forward to an epoch of great class battles. In that case, you must also have the means for this. And it is not at all necessary for the manifesto to be signed, it could well be issued without signatures. At any rate, you should not act semi-legally, like Clara Zetkin, for instance. That calls for too much sacrifice.

Here is how things stand: either a truly revolutionary struggle or mere empty talk which will help no one but the deserters, against whom Liebknecht speaks out so sharply in this letter.{11} Coming out for peace does not mean much in itself. David also writes: we are not for the war, but only against defeat. Everyone wants peace. Taking account of the new situation, we should use new and specific means of struggle which should not be similar in any way to the old German or Russian methods.

 

 

 

 

89

 

LETTER TO  ALEXANDRA KOLLONTAI


later than July 11, 1915
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 193-194.

 

In our opinion, the Left should make a common declaration of principle (1) unquestionably condemning the social-chauvinists and opportunists, (2) giving a programme of revolutionary action (whether to say civil war or revolutionary mass action, is not so important), (3) against the   watchword of “defence of the fatherland”, etc. A declaration of principle by the “Left”, in the name of several countries, would have a gigantic significance (of course, not in the spirit of the Zetkin philistinism which she got adopted at the Women’s Conference at Berne; Zetkin evaded the question of condemning social-chauvinism!! out of a desire for “peace” with the Südekums+Kautsky??).

 

 

 

LETTER TO KARL RADEK

 

before August 4, 1915

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 36, page 335


The most important thing for us (i.e., all the Left) is a clear, complete, precise Prinzipienerklärung. Without this all the so-called programmes of action are nothing but talk and deception. What did the Zetkin “resolution of action” in Berne come to? Nothing in terms of action! Nothing in terms of principle!

The Borchardt group, if it comes forward (together with us or separately) as an anonymous group (Stern, or Pfeil, or whatever) with a clear-cut Prinzipienerklärung+a call to revolutionary action, will play an outstanding part in world history.

Meanwhile, Zetkin and Co., having everything in their hands (newspapers, journals, connections with Berner Tagwacht, the opportunity of visiting Switzerland, etc.), have done nothing in 10 months to unite the international Left. This is a disgrace.

The Left in Germany will make a historic mistake if, on the pretext that they (they =Zetkin, Laufenberg,   Borchardt, Thalheimer, Duncker! Ha, ha!) are “the product of ferment among the masses”, they refuse to come forward with a Prinzipienerklärung (anonymously, on behalf of a Stern group, etc. Later the workers will support it and think about it).

There is need for a Left statement and programme so as to develop the “ferment among the masses”. It is necessary because of such ferment. It is necessary so as to transform the “ferment” into a “movement”. It is necessary so as to develop “ferment” in the rotten International.

 

 

 

 


 

(Clara Zetkin wrote the preview of the Junius pamphlet -

which was written by Rosa Luxemburg)

The Junius Pamphlet

Written in July, 1916

Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1, October 1916

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 22, pages 305-307.

 

At last there has appeared in Germany, illegally, without any adaptation to the despicable Junker censorship, a Social-Democratic pamphlet dealing with questions of the war! The author, who evidently belongs to the “Left-radical” wing of the Party, signs himself Junius (which in Latin means junior) and gave his pamphlet the title: The Crisis of Social-Democracy. Appended are the “Theses on the Tasks of International Social-Democracy,” which have already been submitted to the Berne I.S.C. (International Socialist Committee) and published in No. 3 of its Bulletin; the theses were drafted by the “International” group, which in the spring of 1915 published one issue of a magazine under that title (with articles by Zetkin, Mehring, R. Luxemburg, Thalheimer, Duncker, Ströbel and others), and which in the winter of 1915-16 convened a conference of Social-Democrats from all parts of Germany at which these theses were adopted.

The pamphlet, the author says in the introduction dated January 2, 1916, was written in April, 1915, and published “without any alteration”. “Outside circumstances” prevented it from being published earlier. The pamphlet is devoted not so much to the “crisis of Social-Democracy” as to an analysis of the war, to refuting the legend of its being a war for national liberation, to proving that it is an imperialist war on the part of Germany as well as on the part of the other Great Powers, and to a revolutionary criticism of the behaviour of the official party. Written in a very lively style, Junius’ pamphlet has undoubtedly played and will play an important role in the struggle against the ex-Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which has deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie and the Junkers, and we heartily greet the author.

To the Russian reader who is familiar with the Social-Democratic Literature published abroad in Russian in 1914-16, Junius’ pamphlet offers nothing new in principle. But in reading this pamphlet and comparing the arguments of this German revolutionary Marxist with what has been stated, for example, in the manifesto of the Central Committee of our Party (September-November, 1914) in the Berne resolutions (March, 1915) and in the numerous commentaries on them, it becomes dear that Junius’ arguments are very incomplete and that he commits two errors. Proceeding to criticise Junius’ faults and errors we must strongly emphasise that we do so for the sake of self criticism, which is so necessary for Marxists, and of submitting to an all-round test the views which must serve as the ideological basis of the Third International. On the whole, Junius’ pamphlet is a splendid Marxian work, and in all probability its defects are, to a certain extent, accidental.

The chief defect in Junius’ pamphlet, and what marks a definite step backward compared with the legal (although immediately suppressed) magazine, international, is its silence regarding the connection between social-chauvinism (the author uses neither this nor the less precise term social-patriotism) and opportunism. The author rightly speaks of the “capitulation” and collapse of the German Social-Democratic Party and of the “treachery” of its “official leaders,” but he goes no further than this. The International, however, did criticise the “Centre,” i.e., Kautskyism, and quite properly poured ridicule on it for its spinelessness, its prostitution of Marxism and its servility to the opportunists. This magazine also began to expose the role the opportunists are really playing by making known, for example, the very important fact that on August 4, 1914, the opportunists came forth with an ultimatum, with their minds made up to vote for the war credits under any circumstances. Neither in Junius’ pamphlet nor in the theses is anything said about opportunism or about Kautskyism! This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, for it   is impossible to explain the “betrayal” without linking it up with opportunism as a trend with a long history, the history of the whole Second International. It is a mistake from the practical-political standpoint, for it is impossible to understand the “crisis of Social-Democracy” or overcome it without making clear the meaning and the role of two trends: the avowedly opportunist trend (Legien, David etc.) and the masked opportunist trend (Kautsky and Co.). This is a step backward compared with the historic article by Otto Rühle in Vorwärts of January 13, 1916, in which he directly and openly pointed out that a split in the Social-Democratic Party of Germany was inevitable (the editors of the Vorwärts answered him by repeating honeyed and hypocritical Kautskyist phrases, for they were unable to advance a single material argument to disprove the assertion that there were already two parties in existence, and that these two parties could not be reconciled). It is astonishingly inconsistent, because the international thesis No. 12 directly states that it is necessary to create a “new” International, owing to the “treachery” of the “official representatives of the Socialist Parties of the leading countries” and their “adoption of the principles of bourgeois imperialist politics.” Clearly, to suggest that the old Social-Democratic Party of Germany, or parties which tolerate Legien, David and Co, would participate in a “new” International is simply ridiculous.

We do not know why the international group took this step backward. A very great defect in revolutionary Marxism in Germany as a whole is its lack of a compact illegal organisation that would systematically pursue its line and educate the masses in the spirit of the new tasks; such an organisation would also have to take a definite stand towards opportunism and Kautskyism. This is all the more necessary now, since the German revolutionary Social-Democrats have been deprived of their last two daily papers: the one in Bremen (Bremen = Bürger-Zeitung), and the one in Brunswick (Volksfreund), both of which have gone over to the Kautskyists. That the “International Socialists of Germany” (I.S.D.) group alone remains at its post is definitely clear to everybody.

Some members of the international group have evidently slipped once again into the morass of unprincipled   Kautskyism. Ströbel, for instance, went so far as to make obeisance, in the Neue Zeit, to Bernstein and Kautsky! And only the other day, on August 15, 1916, he had an article in the papers entitled “Pacifism and Social-Democracy,” in which he defends the most vulgar type of Kautskyian pacifism. Junius, however, strongly opposes Kautsky’s fantastic schemes for “disarmament,” “abolition of secret diplomacy” etc. Perhaps there are two trends in the international group: a revolutionary trend and a trend wavering in the direction of Kautskyism.

 

 


 

Fourth Conference Of

Trade Unions and
Factory Committees Of Moscow

 

June 27-July 2, 1918


Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 27, pages 457-491

Our position is made more difficult by the fact that the Russian revolution proved to be ahead of other revolutions; but the fact that we are not alone is proved by the news that reaches us nearly every day that the best German Social-Democrats are expressing themselves in favour of the Bolsheviks, that the Bolsheviks are being supported in the open German press by Clara Zetkin.

 


 

 

 

To:   Y. A. BERZIN, V. V. VOROVSKY AND A. A. JOFFE

September 20, 1918

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 362-363.


Why do we do nothing to fight the theoretical vulgarisation of Marxism by Kautsky?

Can we tolerate that even such people as Mehring and Zetkin keep away from Kautsky more “morally” (if one may put it so) than theoretically.... Kautsky has found nothing better to do now than to write against the Bolsheviks, they say.

Is that an argument? Can one really so weaken one’s own position? Why, that is only putting a weapon into Kautsky’s hands!!

And this instead of writing:

Kautsky has absolutely failed to understand and has distorted in a purely opportunist way 

the teaching of Marx on the state ” ” ” ” on the dictatorship of the proletariat ” ” ” ” on bourgeois democray ” ” ” ” on parliamentarism ” ” ” ” on the role and significance of the Commune, etc.

We ought to take these measures:

(1) have a detailed talk with the Left (Spartacists and others), stimulating them to make a statement of principle,   of theory, in the press, that on the question of dictatorship Kautsky is producing philistine Bernsteinism, not Marxism;

(2) publish as soon as possible in German my The State and Revolution;

(3) provide it with at least a publisher’s foreword, as for example:

“The publisher considers the appearance of this booklet particularly essential at the present moment, in view of the complete distortion of Marxism, precisely on these quest ions, in the latest works of Kautsky, who is replacing the viewpoint of the dictatorship of the proletariat by philistine social-liberalism in the spirit of Bernstein and other opportunists.”

(4) If it is impossible to publish the booklet quickly, then get a note similar to the “publisher’s foreword” in the newspapers (of the Left).


 

 

 

Letter to the Workers of Europe and America


21 December, 1918
Pravda; No. 16, January 24, 1919

Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 28, pages 453-477

 

The foundation of a genuinely proletarian, genuinely internationalist, genuinely revolutionary Third International, the Communist International, became a fact when the German Spartacus League, with such world-known and world-famous leaders, with such staunch working-class champions as Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Franz Mehring, made a clean break with socialists like Scheidemann and Südekum, social-chauvinists (socialists in words, but chauvinists in deeds) who have earned eternal shame by their alliance with the predatory, imperialist German bourgeoisie and Wilhelm II. It became a fact when the Spartacus League changed its name to the Communist Party of Germany. Though it has not yet been officially inaugurated, the Third International actually exists.

 

 

The Heroes
Of The Berne International


25 May, 1919

 

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 29, pages 392-401

 

 

“Think of production!” says the well-fed bourgeoisie to the starving and exhausted workers. And Kautsky, repeating the capitalists’ refrain in the guise of “economic science”, becomes completely a lackey of the bourgeoisie.

But the workers say that the bourgeoisie, too, should be put on a semi-starvation ration, so that the working people might recuperate somewhat, so that the working people may be saved from death. “Consumers’ communism” is a means of saving the workers. The workers must be saved, no matter at what sacrifice! Half a pound each for the capitalists, a pound each for the workers—this is the way out of this period of starvation and ruin. Consumption by the starving workers is the basis of, and the condition for, the restoration of industry.

 

Clara Zetkin was quite right when she told Kautsky that he was “slipping into bourgeois political economy. Production is for man, and not man for production ....”

 

Independent Herr Kautsky revealed the same dependence upon petty-bourgeois prejudices when he bewailed the “cult of violence”. When, as far back as 1914, the Bolsheviks argued that the imperialist war would become civil war, Herr Kautsky said nothing, but he remained in the same party with David and Co. who denounced this forecast (and slogan) as “madness”. Kautsky failed entirely to understand that the imperialist war would inevitably be transformed into civil war; and now he is blaming both combatants in the civil war for his own lack of understanding! Is this not a perfect example of reactionary philistine stupidity?

 

 

 

14 Augsut, 1921

A letter to the German Communists

Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 32, pages 512-523

 

 

It is my conviction that Comrade K. Radek’s article, “The Third World Congress on the March Action, and Future Tactics” (in Die Rote Fahne, the Central Organ of the United Communist Party of Germany, issues of July 14 and 15, 1921), sins quite considerably against this general and unanimously adopted decision of the Third Congress. This article, a copy of which was sent me by one of the Polish Communists, is quite unnecessarily—and in a way that positively harms our work—directed not only against Paul Levi (that would be very unimportant), but also against Clara Zetkin. And yet Clara Zetkin herself concluded a “peace treaty”in Moscow, during the Third Congress, with the C.C. (the “Centrale”) of the United Communist Party of Germany, providing for joint, non-factional work! And we all approved of the treaty. In his misplaced polemical zeal, Comrade K. Radek has gone to the length of saying something positively untrue, attributing to Zetkin the idea of “putting off”(verlegt ) “every general action by the Party”(jede allgemeine Aktion der Partei ) “until the day when large masses rise”(auf den Tag, wo die grossen Massen aufstehen werden ). It goes without saying that by such methods Comrade K. Radek is rendering Paul Levi the best service the latter could wish for. There is nothing Paul Levi wants so much as a controversy endlessly dragged out, with as many people involved in it as possible, and efforts to drive Zetkin away from the party by polemical breaches of the “peace treaty”which she herself concluded, and which was approved by the entire Communist International. Comrade K. Radek’s article serves as an excellent example of how Paul Levi is assisted from the “Left”.

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

(bold and underlined text-marks by the Comintern [SH])

 

CLARA ZETKIN - ARCHIVE