Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stand In Solidarity With The Egyptian People- Down With The Mubarak Government- Fight For A Workers Government!

Click on the headline to link to an Associated Press online article on a protest demonstration in Cambridge in solidarity with the Egyptian people.

Markin comment:

This is a swiftly moving story, and much is rather murky about what the forces in the street want beyond getting rid of Mubarak (a worthy goal in its own right). What does not look promising at the moment is the emergence of even a secular democratic movement much less a pro-socialist one. A lot of this looks an awful lot like Iran 1979 and we know where that led. But for now though-Stand In Solidarity With The Egyptian People- Down With The Mubarak Government- Fight For A Workers Government!

From The "London Socialist Historians Group" Blog- A Breathe Of Fresh Air On The Late Professor Tony Judt

Markin comment:

After The New York Review of Books has virtually made itself a publicity agent for the late Professor Tony Judt it is nice, very nice, to have a better take on the real politics (and scholarly standards)of that soft-shell social democrat. Praise be.

Saturday, 22 January 2011
A ''Socialist Historian''? Ian Birchall on Tony Judt
Judt out to the right
From LSHG Newsletter # 41 (Spring 2011)

LSHG Newsletter No. 40 contains an obituary by one “KF” of Tony Judt, twice described as a “socialist historian”. The LSHG has always had a commendably eclectic view of what constitutes socialist history, and it would be absurd to split hairs about who is or is not a socialist. But lines have to be drawn somewhere, and I think that to describe Judt as a “socialist historian” may cause unnecessary confusion. Indeed, I do not think Judt himself would have welcomed the description.

Judt wrote prolifically on a range of subjects, and it is certainly not my intention to deny that there may be much to be learnt from his works. In a short polemic it is impossible to cover all his writings, and I shall confine my attention to the area on which I have some competence: the French left in the twentieth century. Here, I believe, Judt’s work is often misleading if not positively pernicious.

KF recommends to us Judt’s article “A Clown in Regal Purple” [History Workshop 7, 1979]. It is indeed an interesting and thought-provoking article. But I was struck by a paragraph in which Judt refers to those who refuse to criticise current trends in social history because they don’t want to cause divisions among practitioners of the discipline. He compares this to “the response of Jean- Paul Sartre to the news of Stalin’s crimes. Keep it under wraps, he counselled – “il ne faut pas désespérer Billancourt”. [We must not make Billancourt despair]. A footnote explains that Billancourt was a large car-factory in the Paris suburbs, but gives no source for the quotation.

Thirteen years later, in his book Past Imperfect, Judt again referred to Sartre’s “famous warning ‘Il ne faut pas désespérer Billancourt’”. [PI 211] Again, in a book otherwise drowning in footnotes, Judt gives no source. He was a busy man, but one might have thought that in thirteen years he could have found time to check whether Sartre actually said any such thing (he didn’t).

Judt might claim that it was one of those things that “everybody” knows, just as we all know that King Alfred burned the cakes and that Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake”. As I understand it current scholarship holds that the French queen did not say this (presumably because she was too stupid, not because she was too kind-hearted). I’m not aware of recent research on Alfred and the cakes.

A conscientious historian, let alone a “socialist” one, might well have queried whether Sartre said anything so implausible. It is, after all, akin to a doctor telling a patient: “I won’t tell you you’ve got cancer because it would depress you”. But Judt never bothered to check. In praising Lichtheim’s mediocre Marxism in Modern France he stated that it “made no concessions to intellectual indolence”. [MFL viii] But “intellectual indolence" is precisely what Judt is guilty of here.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one bogus quotation doesn’t make a rogue. But it is a symptom of Judt’s compulsive need, by any means necessary, to attack Sartre and the French left. Past Imperfect is a sustained exercise in moralising vituperation against French left intellectuals in the post-1945 period for their failure to denounce Stalinism.

This is a pity, because Judt had half a point. Stalinism did indeed have a pernicious influence on the French left in this period. But Judt seems quite unable to deal with the complexities, contradictions and inconsistencies which characterised his subject matter. Any inconvenient facts that failed to fit into his interminable diatribe were remorselessly ignored. Like the director of a third-rate movie, Judt wants nothing
but heroes (Camus, Raymond Aron) and villains (just about everybody else).

Many French left intellectuals were insufficiently critical of Stalinism. (Many, not all – but names like Daniel Guérin, Maurice Nadeau, Pierre Naville are absent from Judt’s index, blotted out of the historical record 1984-style because they do not fit the thesis.) Judt makes no effort to analyse the reasons for this – like John Major, he is concerned to condemn, not to understand.

Despite his apparent display of erudition, Judt prefers the sweeping generalisation to the study of contradictions. Thus he thunders that Sartre and most French Marxists never “batted a public eyelid when confronted with socio-economic data, reports of concentration camps, news of show trials, and so forth”. [MFL 208] Actually in the course of Past Imperfect Judt was obliged to note that Sartre and Merleau-Ponty had written in 1950 that the concentration camps meant that there was no reason to call Russia socialist, and that in 1953 Sartre’s journal Les Temps modernes had published a highly critical account of the Slansky trial in Czechoslovakia. But why should mere facts stand in the way of a good sound-bite?

Ever anxious to put blood on the hands of Sartre and his friends, Judt insists that at the time of installation of Stalin’s Eastern European satellites, “what was said and done in France served directly to bolster and justify the practices of the regimes newly in place”. [MFL 236-7] Actually in 1948 Sartre and many of his associates were involved in the Rassemblement démocratiqe révolutionnaire, whose founding statement deplored “the limitation of Communism to its Stalinist form”. This infuriated the French Communist Party, and was doubtless little reported in Prague or Budapest. Again, Judt simply ignored inconvenient facts.

Between 1946 and 1962 France was involved in two bitter and bloody colonial wars. Some French leftists, like the courageous journalist Claude Bourdet (whom Judt hated almost as much as he hated Sartre) decided that fighting French imperialism should be their main priority, and considered this more important than denouncing Stalinism. Such a position belonged to an honourable tradition, summed up in Liebknecht’s famous phrase: “The main enemy is at home”.

Judt was unwilling to admit that this might be an arguable case. Judt dismisses concern for the fate of the colonised as “hyperopia” (an eye condition leading to inability to focus of near objects: at least I’ve learned a new word from reading Judt). He claims that this “may occasionally have been beneficial for Algerians, for Chilean refugees, or for Guinean peasants. But in France itself it served only to accentuate
still further an unconcern with daily local politics and to widen the distance between marxist discourse and the real needs and concerns of workers”. [MFL 237]

On the few occasions when he refers to the Algerian war, Judt seems singularly ill-informed. Until 1962 Algeria was constitutionally an integral part of French territory, so this was not some remote “Third World” struggle but a civil war, whose violence often erupted onto the streets of Paris and other mainland cities. A great many French people had a conscript soldier (or an Algerian settler) in the family: Algeria was very much part of “daily local politics”. And like George Bush, Judt seems to have thought that torture was nothing to make a fuss about – unless, of course, it was being done by Russians.

In fact, Judt showed precious little interest in the French working class. He became apoplectic with rage at the “obscenity” of Emmanuel Mounier comparing the living conditions of French workers to those in a Russian labour camp. Perhaps it was an unwise comparison. But Judt’s conclusion seems to be that French workers had no reason to be concerned at low wages, poor working conditions, etc. They should have been congratulating themselves on not being in the gulag. As for the argument of some French intellectuals that, since the French Communist Party had the electoral and trade-union support of millions of workers, it could not be simply bypassed or denounced, that seems to have been far too subtle for Judt to even discuss it.

Finally, while in these difficult times we have to take our funding where we can get it, I wonder whether taking generous grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation in order to vilify the French left is quite the conduct of a “socialist historian”.

Judt might have claimed that his sympathies were with reformist, not marxist, socialism. In 1986 he observed in Mitterrand’s France “worrying signs” of trends towards the right and political disengagement. This he saw as “the major medium term achievement of thirty years of marxist conversation in Paris”. [MFL 238] To blame disaffection with Mitterrand on Marxist intellectuals, rather than on the President’s austerity programme and his flirtation with the far right for electoral advantage, shows a distinct lack of any political understanding.

Very briefly, I would note that Judt’s defects seem to reappear when he is dealing with other periods. Thus he cites “the dictatorial and repressive instincts of the Jacobins and Babouvists”. [MFL 107] In fact there was a vigorous debate within Babouvist ranks about democracy and dictatorship. But that would have meant looking at the question in a bit more detail; Judt’s inability to spell Buonarroti [MFL 108] suggests a lack of interest in the documentation. Why let it stand in the way of a good sound-bite?

And it was not only the French left that Judt hated. Thus he tells us that Edward Thompson is “priggish” and a “Little Englander”, and that Kolakowski’s insipid polemic in the 1974 Socialist Register means that “No one who reads it will ever take E.P. Thompson seriously again”. [R 136] (Curiously, he is rather more friendly towards Eric Hobsbawm, apparently because he never involved himself in Party activity. [R 120])

There is more to be said about Judt, and it will have to be said by others more competent than I am. But if I had to choose a single description to sum him up, it would not be “socialist historian”; it would be “charlatan”.

MFL: Marxism and the French Left, Oxford, 1986
PI: Past Imperfect, Berkeley/LA 1992
R: Reappraisals, Penguin, 2008.

From The "Renegade Eye" Blog- Background To The Struggle In Egypt- From IN Defense Of Marxism

Uprising in Egypt: the revolution is spreading!
Written by Alan Woods
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Dramatic events are unfolding in the Middle East. Today (Tuesday) Egypt was rocked by a wave of nationwide demonstrations demanding the end of the Mubarak regime, which has oppressed the people of this proud nation for nearly 30 years. This was the biggest protest movement Egypt has seen for decades. In Cairo and other cities thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated on the streets and fought with police.

After the overthrow of Tunisia's strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, observers wondered aloud if the dramatic events in the North African nation could provoke insurrections in other apparently entrenched Arab regimes. Now they have their answer! The revolutionary flames that have swept through the Arab world from Tunisia have reached Egypt.

The first indications of the impact of the Tunisia uprising on the popular consciousness surfaced last week in Egypt when several people set themselves on fire or attempted to do so outside parliament and the prime minister's office. Their actions sought to imitate the example of the young Tunisian vegetable vendor whose self-immolation helped spark the protests that forced Tunisia's authoritarian president to flee the country.

As in Tunisia, the demonstrations in Egypt came against a backdrop of growing anger over widespread poverty and unemployment. Nearly half of Egypt's 80 million people live under or just above the poverty line set by the United Nations at $2 a day. Poor quality education, health care and high unemployment have left large numbers of Egyptians deprived of basic needs.

But the economic discontent is only part of a wider political discontent. There is a deep-seated anger at the injustices, inequalities and corruption of the Mubarak regime. The question is raised of how long the aged dictator will cling to power. Nobody knows whether Mubarak will run again in presidential elections later this year or perhaps position his son to run in his place. But the people of Egypt will accept nothing less than a fundamental change.

The government tried to play down self-immolation attempts, with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif telling reporters on Monday that those who committed the act were driven by “personal issues”. But nobody believed this. As in Tunisia, the calls for rallies went out on Facebook and Twitter, with 90,000 saying they would attend. On all sides Tunisia was on everyone’s lips. “We want to see change just like in Tunisia,” said Lamia Rayan, 24, one of the protesters.

The call for protests was initiated by The Martyr Facebook page, set up in the name of a young Egyptian man, Khaled Said, who was beaten to death by policemen in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria last year. His case has become a rallying point for the opposition. Two policemen are currently on trial in connection with his death. Yet by one of those strange ironies with which history is so rich, the protests coincided with a national holiday honouring the country's hated police.

There were remarkable scenes in Cairo today as thousands and thousands poured onto the streets, marching with apparent freedom in three major demonstrations in different parts of the Egyptian capital. Things began peacefully, with police showing unusual restraint. The noisy crowd was joined by cars driving alongside and honking their horns. People cried: “Long Live a Free Tunisia” and waving Tunisian and Egyptian flags while police initially stood on the crowd's periphery. Riot police at first seemed uncertain as to what to do, as each of the marches broke through police cordons.

An eyewitness wrote the following lines:

“I'm downtown outside the offices of the government newspapers where hundreds are chanting ‘Mubarak, your plane is waiting’ and appealing for passers-by to join them, many of whom are taking up the offer.

“Ahmed Ashraf, a 26 year old bank analyst, told me this was his first protest, and that he had been inspired by events in Tunisia. ‘We are the ones controlling the streets today, not the regime,’ he said. ‘I feel so free - things can't stay the same after this.’"

If the police seemed to have no idea what to do, on the other side there also seemed to be little coordination between protest leaders about what to do next. It resembled the commencement of a wrestling match, with each of the two contenders circling warily, eyeing his opponent and trying to guess the next move. They did not have to wait long.

In the past demonstrations were violently dispersed. Now, however, the police had clearly received orders from the government to avoid anything that could provoke a Tunisia-like mass revolt. But such things have a life and a law of their own. As the numbers of demonstrators continued to build up, filling Cairo's main Tahrir square, the security forces got nervous. They suddenly changed tactics and the protest turned violent as police attacked demonstrators with water cannon, batons and of tear gas.

Acrid clouds filled the streets of Cairo. In the past people would have fled in panic from the feared police. But this time things were different. The people stood their ground and fought back. Defiant protesters clashed with riot police in the centre of Cairo. They threw stones and some even climbed on top of an armoured police truck. The Washington Post described the scene:

“Demonstrators attacked the police water canon truck, opening the driver's door and ordering the man out of the vehicle. Some hurled rocks and dragged metal barricades. Officers beat back protesters with batons as they tried to break cordons to join the main downtown demonstrators.

“To the north, in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, thousands of protesters also marched in what was dubbed a ‘Day of Rage’ against Mr. Mubarak and calling for an end to the country's grinding poverty.

“[...] The demonstrators in Cairo sang the national anthem and carried banners denouncing Mr. Mubarak and widespread fraud in the country's elections. The organizers said the protests were a ‘day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment’.

“Mothers carrying babies marched and chanted ‘Revolution until Victory!’ while young men parked their cars on the main street and waved signs reading ‘OUT!’ inspired by the Tunisian protestations of ‘DEGAGE!’ this week. Men were seen spraying graffiti reading ‘Down with Hosni Mubarak.’" (Washington Post)

The regime is in a state of panic. Eyewitnesses report that the internet, Twitter and phone calls were all blocked in Egypt, but they are returning intermittently now. The latest reports show that the insurrection is continuing and advancing to new levels. An eyewitness report states:

“As darkness begins to fall, the thousands who have occupied Cairo's central square are pouring forward towards the parliament building, prompting running battles with armed police. The air is filled with teargas and some youths are hurling rocks at the police lines; many of the rocks are being thrown back by security officers.

“A few moments ago a huge charge from demonstrators sent the riot police running, but they have now regrouped and are launching fresh assaults on the front wave of protesters, who are currently picking up the metal barricades installed by police and using them to set up barricades themselves. Large explosions are shaking the square, though it's not clear where they're coming from.”

Reports are spreading of protesters attacking the council of ministers building downtown, while several thousands are said to be marching towards Mubarak's presidential palace in Heliopolis. In Dar El Salaam, a densely-populated neighbourhood in southern Cairo, demonstrators claim they have taken over the police station.

“There's a feeling of intense excitement on the streets here in Shubra, northern Cairo, as the police continue to stand back and allow protesters to pass - but some of the security forces are wearing bullet proof vests, and some fear this is the calm before the storm.

“One former television news presenter told me she hadn't seen anything like this since 1977, when an uprising over bread prices almost brought down the government of President Sadat. But demonstrations remain cut off from each other and it's still too early to say how this will play out.”

It is true that nobody knows how this will end. But one thing is certain. Egypt will never be the same again. The genie is out of the bottle and it cannot be pushed back inside. The masses have had a taste of freedom and they have felt their collective power on the streets. If they possessed an organization and a leadership that was adequate to the task, they could move to take power. But in the absence of leadership and a clear plan and perspective, the situation can go in different ways.

Photo: Mahmoud SaberAs I write these lines, the fate of the uprising is in the balance. The regime is now on very shaky ground. The hesitation shown by the police at the start of the protest shows that they are not confident of using the apparatus of repression to put down the movement. There will be splits in the regime between those who want to crack down and those who want to make compromises to gain time.

Can the regime drown the uprising in blood? Such an outcome is not impossible, but it would be a victory purchased at a very high price. The hatred and resentment towards the regime would be long-lasting. It would poison the political life of the country and rule out any kind of compromise solution. Mubarak is an old man and cannot last long. His son, who he hopes will replace him, will be completely delegitimized. The economy will decline still further, aggravating the problem of unemployment and poverty. New explosions would follow.

However, that does not seem the most likely variant. The mass movement is gathering strength by the hour. In Alexandria there are reports of old ladies throwing pots and pans on the police from the balconies of their houses. The key to the situation is the powerful Egyptian proletariat, which has organized strike after strike in recent years. Now the workers are on the streets. In Mahala, the scene of the big textile workers’ strikes, there is news of 20,000 on the streets. The police station has been overwhelmed.

The revolutionary people are occupying the central squares and refusing to leave. Every inch has been conquered by the masses and they do not intend to surrender what they have conquered to anyone. Faced with a mass movement on such a scale, the forces of state repression, which before seemed so formidable, have suddenly become vulnerable. In many places the police have been simply swamped by sheer numbers. Their cordons have been broken by the protesters. The faces of the ordinary policemen betray nervousness, and their officers even more so.

There have been many cases of fraternization. A French TV news channel showed pictures of a police officer (I think in Alexandria) being carried shoulder high by demonstrators. They are shouting anti-government slogans, and the police officer is shouting them as well. This little incident says it all. All history shows that once the masses have lost their fear, once an entire people stands up and says “no”, there is no force on earth that can stop them.

Whatever we will read in tomorrow’s newspapers, we may be sure of one thing: the Arab revolution has begun. It will be greeted with every enthusiasm by the workers and youth of the whole world. Let us mobilize in support of our Arab brother and sisters! Demand an immediate end to repression! Break off all relations with the criminal Mubarak regime! Demand full rights for the people of Egypt!

•Victory to the workers and youth of Egypt!
•Down with Mubarak!
•Long live the Arab socialist revolution!

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution-[a.k.a. The April Theses](1917)

Markin comment:

It would seem almost unnecessary to comment on Lenin’s Bolshevik positions on imperialist war, as exemplified by his analysis of the war that he actually had to fight against, World War I. Those positions reflected his understanding that with that war the nature of capitalism had changed, definitively, from a progressive step for humankind to just a squalid, never-ending struggle among “thieves” for control of the world’s resources. It would have seemed almost unnecessary to mention this, that is, for earlier leftist generations who were familiar with his various slogans centrally-“the main enemy is at home” (adapted from German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht-“not one penny, not one man for the imperialist war”- “turn the guns the other way” (toward your own rulers)-and, specific to Bolsheviks- “fight for a new workers international, the Third International” (to replace the bankrupt Second International).

Now, especially after the past several anti-war rallies that I have attended, I am not sure who among the attendees is familiar with his work. With all the pacifist, stop war in general, peace now, let all men and women be brothers and sisters rhetoric ringing in my ears I have to assume not. More importantly, I do not see such slogans (or anything close to them) emblazoned on any banners lately. Thus, in a month when we of the international communist movement honor Lenin anyway (along with the aforementioned Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Rose of the revolution) this series will try to familiarize those who seek a better struggle against imperialist war than is being presented now with “red” anti-war positions.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution
[a.k.a. The April Theses]

Published: April 7, 1917 in Pravda No. 26. Signed: N. Lenin. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pp. 19-26.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard
Transcription: Zodiac
HTML Markup: B. Baggins
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005), (1997), (1999). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

This article contains Lenin’s famous April Theses read by him at two meetings of the All-Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, on April 4, 1917.

I did not arrive in Petrograd until the night of April 3, and therefore at the meeting on April 4, I could, of course, deliver the report on the tasks of the revolutionary proletariat only on my own behalf, and with reservations as to insufficient preparation.

The only thing I could do to make things easier for myself—and for honest opponents—was to prepare the theses in writing. I read them out, and gave the text to Comrade Tsereteli. I read them twice very slowly: first at a meeting of Bolsheviks and then at a meeting of both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.

I publish these personal theses of mine with only the briefest explanatory notes, which were developed in far greater detail in the report.

1) In our attitude towards the war, which under the new [provisional] government of Lvov and Co. unquestionably remains on Russia’s part a predatory imperialist war owing to the capitalist nature of that government, not the slightest concession to “revolutionary defencism” is permissible.

The class-conscious proletariat can give its consent to a revolutionary war, which would really justify revolutionary defencism, only on condition: (a) that the power pass to the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants aligned with the proletariat; (b) that all annexations be renounced in deed and not in word; (c) that a complete break be effected in actual fact with all capitalist interests.

In view of the undoubted honesty of those broad sections of the mass believers in revolutionary defencism who accept the war only as a necessity, and not as a means of conquest, in view of the fact that they are being deceived by the bourgeoisie, it is necessary with particular thoroughness, persistence and patience to explain their error to them, to explain the inseparable connection existing between capital and the imperialist war, and to prove that without overthrowing capital it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace, a peace not imposed by violence.

The most widespread campaign for this view must be organised in the army at the front.


2) The specific feature of the present situation in Russia is that the country is passing from the first stage of the revolution—which, owing to the insufficient class-consciousness and organisation of the proletariat, placed power in the hands of the bourgeoisie—to its second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants.

This transition is characterised, on the one hand, by a maximum of legally recognised rights (Russia is now the freest of all the belligerent countries in the world); on the other, by the absence of violence towards the masses, and, finally, by their unreasoning trust in the government of capitalists, those worst enemies of peace and socialism.

This peculiar situation demands of us an ability to adapt ourselves to the special conditions of Party work among unprecedentedly large masses of proletarians who have just awakened to political life.

3) No support for the Provisional Government; the utter falsity of all its promises should be made clear, particularly of those relating to the renunciation of annexations. Exposure in place of the impermissible, illusion-breeding “demand” that this government, a government of capitalists, should cease to be an imperialist government.

4) Recognition of the fact that in most of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies our Party is in a minority, so far a small minority, as against a bloc of all the petty-bourgeois opportunist elements, from the Popular Socialists and the Socialist-Revolutionaries down to the Organising Committee (Chkheidze, Tsereteli, etc.), Steklov, etc., etc., who have yielded to the influence of the bourgeoisie and spread that influence among the proletariat.

The masses must be made to see that the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies are the only possible form of revolutionary government, and that therefore our task is, as long as this government yields to the influence of the bourgeoisie, to present a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation of the errors of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.

As long as we are in the minority we carry on the work of criticising and exposing errors and at the same time we preach the necessity of transferring the entire state power to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, so that the people may overcome their mistakes by experience.

5) Not a parliamentary republic—to return to a parliamentary republic from the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies would be a retrograde step—but a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom.

Abolition of the police, the army and the bureaucracy.[1]

The salaries of all officials, all of whom are elective and displaceable at any time, not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker.

6) The weight of emphasis in the agrarian programme to be shifted to the Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies.

Confiscation of all landed estates.

Nationalisation of all lands in the country, the land to be disposed of by the local Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. The organisation of separate Soviets of Deputies of Poor Peasants. The setting up of a model farm on each of the large estates (ranging in size from 100 to 300 dessiatines, according to local and other conditions, and to the decisions of the local bodies) under the control of the Soviets of Agricultural Labourers’ Deputies and for the public account.

7) The immediate union of all banks in the country into a single national bank, and the institution of control over it by the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies.

8) It is not our immediate task to “introduce” socialism, but only to bring social production and the distribution of products at once under the control of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies.

9) Party tasks:

(a) Immediate convocation of a Party congress;

(b) Alteration of the Party Programme, mainly:

(1) On the question of imperialism and the imperialist war,

(2) On our attitude towards the state and our demand for a “commune state”[2];

(3) Amendment of our out-of-date minimum programme;

(c) Change of the Party’s name.[3]

10. A new International.

We must take the initiative in creating a revolutionary International, an International against the social-chauvinists and against the “Centre”.[4]

In order that the reader may understand why I had especially to emphasise as a rare exception the “case” of honest opponents, I invite him to compare the above theses with the following objection by Mr. Goldenberg: Lenin, he said, “has planted the banner of civil war in the midst of revolutionary democracy” (quoted in No. 5 of Mr. Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo).

Isn’t it a gem?

I write, announce and elaborately explain: “In view of the undoubted honesty of those broad sections of the mass believers in revolutionary defencism ... in view of the fact that they are being deceived by the bourgeoisie, it is necessary with particular thoroughness, persistence and patience to explain their error to them....”

Yet the bourgeois gentlemen who call themselves Social-Democrats, who do not belong either to the broad sections or to the mass believers in defencism, with serene brow present my views thus: “The banner[!] of civil war” (of which there is not a word in the theses and not a word in my speech!) has been planted(!) “in the midst [!!] of revolutionary democracy...”.

What does this mean? In what way does this differ from riot-inciting agitation, from Russkaya Volya?

I write, announce and elaborately explain: “The Soviets of Workers’ Deputies are the only possible form of revolutionary government, and therefore our task is to present a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation of the errors of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.”

Yet opponents of a certain brand present my views as a call to “civil war in the midst of revolutionary democracy”!

I attacked the Provisional Government for not having appointed an early date or any date at all, for the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, and for confining itself to promises. I argued that without the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies the convocation of the Constituent Assembly is not guaranteed and its success is impossible.

And the view is attributed to me that I am opposed to the speedy convocation of the Constituent Assembly!

I would call this “raving”, had not decades of political struggle taught me to regard honesty in opponents as a rare exception.

Mr. Plekhanov in his paper called my speech “raving”. Very good, Mr. Plekhanov! But look how awkward, uncouth and slow-witted you are in your polemics. If I delivered a raving speech for two hours, how is it that an audience of hundreds tolerated this “raving”? Further, why does your paper devote a whole column to an account of the “raving”? Inconsistent, highly inconsistent!

It is, of course, much easier to shout, abuse, and howl than to attempt to relate, to explain, to recall what Marx and Engels said in 1871, 1872 and 1875 about the experience of the Paris Commune and about the kind of state the proletariat needs. [See: The Civil War in France and Critique of the Gotha Programme]

Ex-Marxist Mr. Plekhanov evidently does not care to recall Marxism.

I quoted the words of Rosa Luxemburg, who on August 4, 1914, called German Social-Democracy a “stinking corpse”. And the Plekhanovs, Goldenbergs and Co. feel “offended”. On whose behalf? On behalf of the German chauvinists, because they were called chauvinists!

They have got themselves in a mess, these poor Russian social-chauvinists—socialists in word and chauvinists in deed.

[1] i.e. the standing army to be replaced by the arming of the whole people.—Lenin

[2] i.e., a state of which the Paris Commune was the prototype.—Lenin

[3] Instead of “Social-Democracy”, whose official leaders throughout the world have betrayed socialism and deserted to the bourgeoisie (the “defencists” and the vacillating “Kautskyites”), we must call ourselves the Communist Party.—Lenin

[4] The “Centre” in the international Social-Democratic movement is the trend which vacillates between the chauvinists (=“defencists”) and internationalists, i.e., Kautsky and Co. in Germany, Longuet and Co. in France, Chkheidze and Co. in Russia, Turati and Co. in Italy, MacDonald and Co. in Britain, etc.—Lenin

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Latest From “The International Marxist Tendency” Website

Click on to the headline to link to the latest from the International Marxist Tendency website.

Markin comment:

More often than not I disagree with the line of the IMT or its analysis(mainly I do not believe their political analysis leads to adequate programmatically-based conclusions, revolutionary conclusions in any case), nevertheless, they provide interesting material, especially from areas, “third world” areas, where it is hard to get any kind of information (for our purposes). Read the material from this site.

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Mississippi’s Scott Sisters-Racist U.S. Justice: Cruel and Unusual"- Nina Simone Was Right- "Mississippi Goddam"

Markin comment:

1961 in Mississippi, Mississippi burning time. No, 2011 Mississippi time, Mississippi burning time. The case of the Scott sisters just brings to mind, for the umpteenth time, Nina Simone righteous "Mississippi Goddam" (lyrics below). And as we head into celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War expect more blather from the "secesh" side. It already started in December with "jubilee" celebrations of South Carolina's ordinances of secession. Where is the Massachusetts 54th when you need it?

Workers Vanguard No. 972
21 January 2010

Mississippi’s Scott Sisters

Racist U.S. Justice: Cruel and Unusual

In October 1994, two black women, sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott, were sentenced to double life prison terms for their alledged involvement in an $11 armed robbery. On January 7 the Scott sisters were freed after 16 years of incarceration. But, with their sentences suspended, they will be on parole for the rest of their lives and have to pay the state $52 monthly. Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, proclaimed, “The victory of their release encourages us to press on in our nationwide efforts to convince more governors to use their clemency powers to free more people who desperately deserve it.” This is the pathetic voice of black petty-bourgeois protest inspired by the administration of Barack Obama, chief overseer of racist U.S. capitalism, pleading on behalf of a few who “deserve” when 2.3 million people, 70 percent black or Latino, languish in prison hellholes.

In Mississippi the legacy of slavery is self-evident in its bloody history. The viciously vindictive frame-up of the Scott sisters reeks of the stench of this legacy. The Scott sisters had no prior criminal record. Prosecution witnesses revealed that they were all threatened by the deputy sheriff and forced to sign false statements written in advance. The jury deliberated for 36 minutes. All appeals to reverse the draconian sentence were denied.

Behind Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s decision to grant clemency to the sisters stood the Grim Reaper. Jamie Scott, who entered prison a healthy young woman, is now suffering complete kidney failure. After enduring the abuse of prison health care, she is in the final stage of this disease. As protests over the sisters’ ordeal mounted in Mississippi and across the country, Governor Barbour made his decision. But he made it clear that a big reason for Jamie’s release was that her medical treatment was a financial burden on the state. The macabre condition of Gladys’ release is that she donate a kidney to her sister.

It should come as no surprise that Barbour treats these black women as figures in an account ledger, balancing out an expense with a kidney. In a 2010 CNN interview, Barbour was asked if Virginia governor Bob McDonnell made a mistake by omitting any mention of slavery when he proclaimed April “Confederate History Month.” Barbour replied that omitting a mention of slavery “doesn’t matter for diddly.” He added that, as Republican governor of Mississippi, he joined bipartisan Confederate commemorations with the Democratic legislature that had “done exactly the same thing in Mississippi for years.” Indeed, Mississippi did not ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, until 1995. The last segregationist Jim Crow laws were removed from the state books in 2009, deleted without fanfare in fear of a politically embarrassing racist backlash.

It should also come as no surprise that the trial judge, Marcus Gordon, would treat the lives of these black women as simply trash to be disposed. The same Judge Gordon presided over the trial of notorious Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, the Klan organizer who ordered the 1964 murder of the three civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. For 41 years Killen was a free man. Then in 2005, at age 80, he was convicted on three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to serve 60 years. A grand jury member who had reviewed the evidence stated with confidence that Killen “was the one every order went out from.” In sentencing Killen, an unrepentant race terrorist, Gordon said that “he took no pleasure in the task” (AP, 23 June 2005). Gordon showed no such regrets in sentencing the Scott sisters based on coerced witnesses.

Workers Vanguard readers are well aware of the brutally racist nature of the U.S. criminal injustice system. U.S. capitalism is based on black oppression—and its destruction will require a Third American Revolution, a socialist revolution. As we wrote in “From Slavery to Mass Incarceration: Black Liberation and the Fight for a Socialist America” (WV No. 955, 26 March 2010):

“From slavery to convict labor, from the chain gang to the assembly line, American capitalism has been built upon the lash-scarred backs of black labor. Any organization that claims a revolutionary perspective for the United States must confront the special oppression of black people—their forced segregation at the bottom of capitalist society and the poisonous racism that divides the working class and cripples its struggles.”
Mississippi Goddam Lyrics
Nina Simone

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Washing the windows
"do it slow"
Picking the cotton
"do it slow"
You're just plain rotten
"do it slow"
You're too damn lazy
"do it slow"
The thinking's crazy
"do it slow"
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin' didn't we

Picket lines
School boycotts
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying "Go slow!"
"Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Mass participation
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Do things gradually
"do it slow"
But bring more tragedy
"do it slow"
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know

You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That's it for now! see ya' later

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-Letters From Afar-FOURTH Letter-How To Achieve Peace(1917)

Markin comment:

It would seem almost unnecessary to comment on Lenin’s Bolshevik positions on imperialist war, as exemplified by his analysis of the war that he actually had to fight against, World War I. Those positions reflected his understanding that with that war the nature of capitalism had changed, definitively, from a progressive step for humankind to just a squalid, never-ending struggle among “thieves” for control of the world’s resources. It would have seemed almost unnecessary to mention this, that is, for earlier leftist generations who were familiar with his various slogans centrally-“the main enemy is at home” (adapted from German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht-“not one penny, not one man for the imperialist war”- “turn the guns the other way” (toward your own rulers)-and, specific to Bolsheviks- “fight for a new workers international, the Third International” (to replace bankrupt Second International).

Now, especially after the past several anti-war rallies that I have attended, I am not sure who among the attendees is familiar with his work. With all the pacifist, stop war in general, peace now, let all men and women be brothers and sisters rhetoric ringing in my ears I have to assume not. More importantly, I do not see such slogans (or anything close to them) emblazoned on any banners lately. Thus, in a month when we of the international communist movement honor Lenin anyway (along with the aforementioned Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Rose of the revolution) this series will try to familiarize those who seek a better struggle against imperialist war than is being presented now with “red” anti-war positions.
V. I. Lenin
Letters From Afar
How To Achieve Peace

I have just (March 12/25) read in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (No. 517 of March 24) the following telegraphic dispatch from Berlin:

“It is reported from Sweden that Maxim Gorky has sent the government and the Executive Committee greetings couched in enthusiastic terms. He greets the people’s victory over the lords of reaction and calls upon all Russia’s sons to help erect the edifice of the new Russian state. At the same time he urges the government to crown the cause of emancipation by concluding peace. It must not, he says, be peace at any price; Russia now has less reason than ever to strive for peace at any price. It must be a peace that will enable Russia to live in honour among the other nations of the earth. Mankind has shed much blood; the new government would render not only Russia, but all mankind, the greatest service if it succeeded in concluding an early peace.”

That is how Maxim Gorky’s letter is reported.

It is with deep chagrin that one reads this letter, impregnated through and through with stock philistine prejudices. The author of these lines has had many occasions, in meetings with Gorky in Capri, to warn and reproach him for his political mistakes. Gorky parried these reproaches with his inimitable charming smile and with the ingenuous remark: “I know I am a bad Marxist. And besides, we artists are all somewhat irresponsible.” It is not easy to argue against that.

There can be no doubt that Gorky’s is an enormous artistic talent which has been, and will be, of great benefit to the world proletarian movement.

But why should Gorky meddle in politics?

In my opinion, Gorky’s letter expresses prejudices that are exceedingly widespread not only among the petty bourgeoisie, but also among a section of the workers under its influence. All the energies of our Party, all the efforts of the class-conscious workers, must be concentrated on a persistent, persevering, all-round struggle against these prejudices.

The tsarist government began and waged the present war as an imperialist, predatory war to rob and strangle weak nations. The government of the Guchkovs and Milyukovs, which is a landlord and capitalist government, is forced to continue, and wants to continue, this very same kind of war. To urge that government to conclude a democratic peace is like preaching virtue to brothel keepers.

Let me explain what is meant.

What is imperialism?

In my Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, the manuscript of which was delivered to the Parus Publishers some time before the revolution, was accepted by them and announced in the magazine Letopis,[3] I answered this question as follows:

“Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed” (Chapter VII of the above-mentioned book, the publication of which was announced in Letopis, when the censorship still existed, under the title: “Modern Capitalism”, by V. Ilyin).[1]

The whole thing hinges on the fact that capital has grown to huge dimensions. Associations of a small number of the biggest capitalists (cartels, syndicates, trusts) manipulate billions and divide the whole world among themselves. The world has been completely divided up. The war was brought on by the clash of the two most powerful groups of multimillionaires, Anglo-French and German, for the redivision of the world.

The Anglo-French group of capitalists wants first to rob Germany, deprive her of her colonies (nearly all of which have already been seized), and then to rob Turkey.

The German group of capitalists wants to seize Turkey for itself and to compensate itself for the loss of its colonies by seizing neighbouring small states (Belgium, Serbia, Rumania).

This is the real truth; it is being concealed by all sorts of bourgeois lies about a “liberating”, “national” war, a “war for right and justice”, and similar jingle with which the capitalists always fool the common people.

Russia is waging this war with foreign money. Russian capital is a partner of Anglo-French capital. Russia is waging the war in order to rob Armenia, Turkey, Galicia.

Guchkov, Lvov and Milyukov, our present ministers, are not chance comers. They are the representatives and leaders of the entire landlord and capitalist class. They are bound by the interests of capital. The capitalists can no more renounce their interests than a man can lift himself by his bootstraps.

Secondly, Guchkov-Milyukov and Co. are bound by Anglo-French capital. They have waged, and are still waging, the war with foreign money. They have borrowed billions, promising to pay hundreds of millions in interest every year, and to squeeze this tribute out of the Russian workers and Russian peasants.

Thirdly, Guchkov-Milyukov and Co. are bound to England, France, Italy, Japan and other groups of robber capitalists by direct treaties concerning the predatory aims of this war. These treaties were concluded by Tsar Nicholas II. Guchkov-Milyukov and Co. took advantage of the workers’ struggle against the tsarist monarchy to seize power, and they have confirmed the treaties concluded by the tsar.

This was done by the whole of the Guchkov-Milyukov government in a manifesto which the St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency circulated on March 7(20): “The government [of Guchkov and Milyukov] will faithfully abide by all the treaties that bind us with other powers,” says the manifesto. Milyukov, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the same thing in his telegram of March 5 (18), 1917 to all Russian representatives abroad.

These are all secret treaties, and Milyukov and Co. refuse to make them public for two reasons: (1) they fear the people, who are opposed to the predatory war; (2) they are bound by Anglo-French capital which insists that the treaties remain secret. But every newspaper reader who has followed events knows that these treaties envisage the robbery of China by Japan; of Persia, Armenia, Turkey (especially Constantinople) and Galicia by Russia; of Albania by Italy; of Turkey and the German colonies by France and England, etc.

This is how things stand.

Hence, to urge the Guchkov-Milyukov government to conclude a speedy, honest, democratic and good-neighhourly peace is like the good village priest urging the landlords and the merchants to “walk in the way of God”, to love their neighbours and to turn the other cheek. The landlords and merchants listen to these sermons, continue to oppress and rob the people and praise the priest for his ability to console and pacify the “muzhiks”.

Exactly the same role is played—consciously or unconsciously—by all those who in the present imperialist war address pious peace appeals to the bourgeois governments. The bourgeois governments either refuse to listen to such appeals and even prohibit them, or they allow them to be made and assure all and sundry that they are only fighting to conclude the speediest and “justest” peace, and that all the blame lies with the enemy. Actually, talking peace to bourgeois governments turns out to be deception of the people.

The groups of capitalists who have drenched the world in blood for the sake of dividing territories, markets and concessions cannot conclude an “honourable” peace. They can conclude only a shameful peace, a peace based on the division of the spoils, on the partition of Turkey and the colonies.

Moreover, the Guchkov-Milyukov government is in general opposed to peace at the present moment, because the “only” “loot” it would get now would he Armenia and part of Galicia, whereas it also wants to get Constantinople and re gain from the Germans Poland, which tsarism has always so inhumanly and shamelessly oppressed. Further, the Guchkov Milyukov government is, in essence, only the agent of Anglo-French capital, which wants to retain the colonies it has wrested from Germany and, on top of that, compel Germany hand back Belgium and part of France. Anglo-French capital helped the Guchkovs and Milyukovs remove Nicholas II in order that they might help it to “vanquish” Germany.

What, then, is to be done?

To achieve peace (and still more to achieve a really democratic, a really honourable peace), it is necessary that political power be in the hands of the workers and poorest peasants, not the landlords and capitalists. The latter represent an insignificant minority of the population, and the capitalists, as everybody knows, are making fantastic profits out of the war.

The workers and poorest peasants are the vast majority of the population. They are not making profit out of the war; on the contrary, they are being reduced to ruin and starvation. They are bound neither by capital nor by the treaties between the predatory groups of capitalists; they can and sincerely want to end the war.

If political power in Russia were in the hands of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, these Soviets, and the All-Russia Soviet elected by them, could, and no doubt would, agree to carry out the peace programme which our Party (the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) outlined as early as October 13, 1915, in No. 47 of its Central Organ, Sotsial-Demokrat[2] (then published in Geneva because of the Draconic tsarist censorship).

This programme would probably be the following:

1) The All-Russia Soviet of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies (or the St. Petersburg Soviet temporarily acting for it) would forthwith declare that it is not bound by any treaties concluded either by the tsarist monarchy or by the bourgeois governments.

2) It would forthwith publish all these treaties in order to hold up to public shame the predatory aims of the tsarist monarchy and of all the bourgeois governments without exception.

3) It would forthwith publicly call upon all the belligerent powers to conclude an immediate armistice.

4) It would immediately bring to the knowledge of all the people our, the workers’ and peasants peace terms:

liberation of all colonies;

liberation of all dependent, oppressed and unequal nations.

5) It would declare that it expects nothing good from the bourgeois governments and calls upon the workers of all countries to overthrow them and to transfer all political power to Soviets of Workers’ Deputies.

6) It would declare that the capitalist gentry themselves can repay the billions of debts contracted by the bourgeois governments to wage this criminal, predatory war, and that the workers and peasants refuse to recognise these debts. To pay the interest on these loans would mean paying the capitalists tribute for many years for having graciously allowed the workers to kill one another in order that the capitalists might divide the spoils.

Workers and peasants!—the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies would say—are you willing to pay these gentry, the capitalists, hundreds of millions of rubles every year for a war waged for the division of the African colonies, Turkey, etc.?

For these peace terms the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies would, in my opinion, agree to wage war against any bourgeois government and against all the bourgeois governments of the world, because this would really be a just war, be cause all the workers and toilers in all countries would work for its success.

The German worker now sees that the bellicose monarchy in Russia is being replaced by a bellicose republic, a republic of capitalists who want to continue the imperialist war, and who have confirmed the predatory treaties of the tsarist monarchy.

Judge for yourselves, can the German worker trust such a republic?

Judge for yourselves, can the war continue, can the capitalist domination continue on earth, if the Russian people, always sustained by the living memories of the great Revolution of 1905, win complete freedom and transfer all political power to the Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies?

N. Lenin

Zurich, March 12 (25), 1917

First published in the magazine The Communist International No. 3–4, 1924
Published according to the manuscript






[3] Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was written in the first half of 1910, and on June 19 (July 2) was sent to Petrograd via Paris. It was to have been published by the Parus publishing house which, on Maxim Gorky s initiative, was putting out a series of popular surveys of West-European countries involved in the war. Lenin maintained contact with the publishers through the editor of the series, M. N. Pokrovsky. On September 29, 1916, Gorky wrote Pokrovsky in Paris that Lenin’s book was “really excellent” and would be put out in addition to the regular series. However, the Parus editors strongly objected to Lenin’s criticism of Kautsky’s renegade position and substantially altered the text, deleting all criticism of Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism and distorting a number of Lenin’s formulations The book was finally published in mid–1917 with a preface by Lenin, dated April 26.

Parus (Sail) and Letopis (Annals)—the names of the publishing house and magazine founded by Gorky in Petrograd.

Letopis—a magazine of literature science and politics whose contributors included former Bolsheviks (the Machists V. A Bazarov and A. A. Bogdanov) and Mensheviks. Gorky was literary editor, and among the other prominent writers contributing to Letopis were Alexander Blok, Valeri Bryusov, Fyodor Gladkov, Sergei Yesenin, A. V. Lunacharsky, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vyacheslav Shishkov and A. Chaplygin. Letopis appeared from December 1915 to December 1917. The Pares publishing house existed from 1915 through 1918.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-Bourgeois Pacifism and Socialist Pacifism (1917)

Markin comment:

It would seem almost unnecessary to comment on Lenin’s Bolshevik positions on imperialist war, as exemplified by his analysis of the war that he actually had to fight against, World War I. Those positions reflected his understanding that with that war the nature of capitalism had changed, definitively, from a progressive step for humankind to just a squalid, never-ending struggle among “thieves” for control of the world’s resources. It would have seemed almost unnecessary to mention this, that is, for earlier leftist generations who were familiar with his various slogans centrally-“the main enemy is at home” (adapted from German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht-“not one penny, not one man for the imperialist war”- “turn the guns the other way” (toward your own rulers)-and, specific to Bolsheviks- “fight for a new workers international, the Third International” (to replace bankrupt Second International).

Now, especially after the past several anti-war rallies that I have attended, I am not sure who among the attendees is familiar with his work. With all the pacifist, stop war in general, peace now, let all men and women be brothers and sisters rhetoric ringing in my ears I have to assume not. More importantly, I do not see such slogans (or anything close to them) emblazoned on any banners lately. Thus, in a month when we of the international communist movement honor Lenin anyway (along with the aforementioned Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Rose of the revolution) this series will try to familiarize those who seek a better struggle against imperialist war than is being presented now with “red” anti-war positions.
V. I. Lenin
Bourgeois Pacifism and Socialist Pacifism[1]

Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Signed: N. Lenin. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 175-194.
Translated: M. S. Levin, The Late Joe Fineberg and and Others
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Other Formats: Text • README


There are symptoms that such a turn has taken place, or is about to take place, namely, a turn from imperialist war to imperialist peace.

The following are the outstanding symptoms: both imperialist coalitions are undoubtedly severely exhausted; continuing the war has become difficult; the capitalists generally, and finance capital in particular, find it difficult to skin the people substantially more than they have done already in the form of outrageous “war” profits; finance capital in the neutral countries, the United States, Holland, Switzerland, etc., which has made enormous prof its out of the war, is satiated; the shortage of raw materials and food supplies makes it difficult for it to continue this “profitable” business; Germany is making strenuous efforts to induce one or another ally of England, her principal imperialist rival, to desert her; the German Government has made pacifist pronouncements, followed by similar pronouncements by a number of neutral governments.

Are there any chances for a speedy end to the war?

It is very hard to give a positive reply to this question. In our opinion, two possibilities present themselves rather definitely.

First, conclusion of a separate peace between Germany and Russia, though perhaps not in the usual form of a formal written treaty. Second, no such peace will be concluded; England and her allies are still in a position to hold out for another year or two, etc. If the first assumption is correct the war will come to an end, if not immediately, then in the very near future, and no important changes in its course can be expected. If the second assumption is correct, then the war may continue indefinitely.

Let us examine the first possibility.

That negotiations for a separate peace between Germany and Russia were conducted quite recently, that Nicholas II himself, or the top Court clique, favour such a peace, that a turn has taken place in world politics from a Russo-British imperialist alliance against Germany to a no less imperialist Russo-German alliance against England—all that is beyond doubt.

The replacement of Stürmer by Trepov, the tsarist government’s public declaration that Russia’s “right” to Constantinople has been recognised by all the Allies, and the setting up by Germany of a separate Polish state—these seem to indicate that the separate peace negotiations have ended in failure. Perhaps tsarism entered into them solely to blackmail England, obtain formal and unambiguous recognition of Nicholas the Bloody’s “right” to Constantinople and certain “weighty” guarantees of that right?

There is nothing improbable in that assumption, considering that the main, fundamental purpose of the present imperialist war is the division of the spoils among the three principal imperialist rivals, the three robbers, Russia, Germany and England.

On the other hand, the clearer it becomes to tsarism that there is no practical, military possibility of regaining Poland, winning Constantinople, breaking Germany’s iron front, which she is magnificently straightening out, shortening and strengthening by her recent victories in Rumania, the more tsarism is finding itself compelled to conclude a separate peace with Germany, that is, to abandon Its imperialist alliance with England against Germany for an imperialist alliance with Germany against England. And why not? Was not Russia on the verge of war with England as a result of their imperialist rivalry over the division of the spoils in Central Asia? And did not England and Germany negotiate in 1898 for an alliance against Russia? They secretly agreed then to divide up the Portuguese colonies “in the event” of Portugal failing to meet her financial obligations!

The growing trend among leading imperialist circles in Germany towards an alliance with Russia against England was already clearly defined several months ago. The basis of this alliance, apparently, is to be the partition of Galicia (it is very important for tsarism to strangle the centre of Ukrainian agitation and Ukrainian liberty), Armenia and perhaps Rumania! In fact there was a “hint” in a German newspaper that Rumania might be divided among Austria, Bulgaria and Russia! Germany could agree to other minor concessions to tsarism if only she could achieve an alliance with Russia, and perhaps also with Japan, against England.

A separate peace between Nicholas II and Wilhelm II could have been concluded secretly. There have been in stances in diplomatic history of treaties known only to two or three persons and kept secret from everyone else, even Cabinet Ministers. Diplomatic history knows instances of the “Great Powers” gathering at “European” congresses after the principal rivals had secretly decided the main questions among themselves (for example, the secret agreement between Russia and England to plunder Turkey, prior to the Berlin Congress of 1878). It would not be at all surprising if tsarism rejected a formal separate peace between the governments for the reason, among others, that the present situation in Russia might result in Milyukov and Guchkov, or Milyukov and Kerensky, taking over the government, while at the same time, it may have concluded a secret, informal, but none the less “durable” treaty with Germany to the effect that the two “high contracting parties” undertake jointly to pursue such-and-such a policy at the forthcoming peace congress!

It is impossible to say whether or not this assumption is correct. At any rate, it is a thousand times nearer the truth, is a far better description of things as they actually are than are the pious phrases about peace between the present governments, or between any bourgeois governments for that matter, on the basis of no annexations, etc. These phrases either express innocent desires or are hypocrisy and lies meant to conceal the truth. And the truth of the present time, of the present war, of the present attempts to conclude peace, is the division of the imperialist spoils. That is at the bottom of it all; and to understand this truth, to express it, “to show things as they actually are”, is the fundamental task of socialist policy as distinct from bourgeois policy, the principal aim of which is to conceal, to gloss over this truth.

Both imperialist coalitions have grabbed a certain amount of loot, and the two principal and most powerful of the robbers, Germany and England, have grabbed most. England has not lost an inch of her territory or of her colonies; but she has “acquired” the German colonies and part of Turkey (Mesopotamia). Germany has lost nearly all her colonies, but has acquired immeasurably more valuable territory in Europe, having seized Belgium, Serbia, Rumania, part of France, part of Russia, etc. The fight now is over the division of the loot, and the “chieftain” of each of the robber gangs, i.e., England and Germany, must to some degree reward his allies, who, with the exception of Bulgaria and to a lesser extent Italy, have lost a great deal. The weakest of the allies have lost most: in the English coalition, Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro and Rumania have been crushed; in the German coalition, Turkey has lost Armenia and part of Mesopotamia.

So far Germany has secured undoubtedly far more loot than England. So far Germany has won; she has proved to be far stronger than anyone anticipated before the war. Naturally, therefore, it would be to Germany’s advantage to conclude peace as speedily as possible, for her rival might still be able, given the most favourable opportunity conceivable (although not very probably), to mobilise a larger reserve of recruits, etc.

Such is the objective situation. Such is the present position in the struggle for the division of the imperialist loot. It is quite natural that this situation should give rise to pacifist strivings, declarations and pronouncements, mainly on the part of the bourgeoisie and governments of the German coalition and of the neutral countries. It is equally natural that the bourgeoisie and its governments are compelled to exert every effort to hoodwink the people, to cover up the hideous nakedness of an imperialist peace—the division of the loot—by phrases, utterly false phrases about a democratic peace, the liberty of small nations, armaments reduction, etc.

But while it is natural for the bourgeoisie to try to hoodwink the people, how are the socialists fulfilling their duty? This we shall deal with in the next article (or chapter).

Kautsky is the most authoritative theoretician of the Second International, the most prominent leader of the so-called “Marxist centre” in Germany, the representative of the opposition which organised a separate group in the Reichstag, the Social-Democratic Labour Group (Haase, Ledebour and others). A number of Social-Democratic newspapers in Germany are now publishing articles by Kautsky on the terms of peace, which paraphrase the official Social-Democratic Labour Group declaration on the German Government’s well-known note proposing peace negotiations. The declaration, which calls on the German Government to propose definite terms of peace, contains the following characteristic statement:

“...In order that this [German Government] note may lead to peace, all countries must unequivocally renounce all thought of annexing foreign territory, of the political, economic or military subjection of any people whatsoever....”

In paraphrasing and concretising this, Kautsky set out to “prove” in his lengthy articles that Constantinople must not go to Russia and that Turkey must not be made a vassal state to anyone.

Let us take a closer look at these political slogans and arguments of Kautsky and his associates.

In a matter that affects Russia, i. e., Germany’s imperialist rival, Kautsky advances, not abstract or “general” demands, but a very concrete, precise and definite demand: Constantinople must not go to Russia. He thereby exposes the real imperialist designs ... of Russia. In a matter that affects Germany, however, i.e., the country where the majority of the party, which regards Kautsky as its member (and appointed him editor of its principal, leading theoretical organ, Die Neue Zeit), is helping the bourgeoisie and the government to conduct an imperialist war, Kautsky does not expose the concrete imperialist designs of his own government, but confines himself to a “general” desideratum or proposition: Turkey must not be made a vassal state to anyone!!

How, in substance, does Kautsky’s policy differ from that of the militant, so to speak, social—chauvinists (i.e., socialists in words but chauvinists in deeds) of France and England? While frankly exposing the concrete imperialist actions of Germany, they make shift with “general” desiderata or propositions when it is a matter of countries or nations conquered by England and Russia. They shout about the seizure of Belgium and Serbia, but are silent about the seizure of Galicia, Armenia, the African colonies.

Actually, both the policy of Kautsky and that of Sembat and Henderson help their respective imperialist governments by focusing attention on the wickedness of their rival and enemy, while throwing a veil of vague, general phrases and sentimental wishes around the equally imperialist con duct of “their own” bourgeoisie. We would cease to be Marxists, we would cease to be socialists in general, if we confined ourselves to the Christian, so to speak, contemplation of the benignity of benign general phrases and refrained from ex posing their real political significance. Do we not constantly see the diplomacy of all the imperialist powers flaunting magnanimous “general” phrases and “democratic” declarations in order to conceal their robbery, violation and strangulation of small nations?

“Turkey must not be made a vassal state to anyone If I say no more than that, the impression is that I favour Turkey’s complete freedom. As a matter of fact, I am merely repeating a phrase usually uttered by German diplomats who are deliberately lying and deceiving, and employ that phrase to conceal the fact that Germany has already converted Turkey into her financial and military vassal! And if I am a German socialist, my “general” phrases can only be to the advantage of German diplomacy, for their real significance is that they put German imperialism in a good light.

“All countries must renounce all thought of annexations... of the economic subjection of any people whatsoever....” What magnanimity! A thousand times the imperialists have “renounced all thought” of annexations and of the financial strangulation of weak nations. But should we not compare these renunciations with the facts, which show that any one of the big banks of Germany, England, France and the United States does hold small nations “in subjection”? Can the present bourgeois government of a wealthy country really renounce annexations and the economic subjugation of alien peoples when millions and millions have been invested in the railways and other enterprises of weak nations?

Who is really fighting annexations, etc.? Those who bandy magnanimous phrases, which, objectively, have the same significance as the Christian holy water sprinkled on the crowned and capitalist robbers? Or those who explain to the workers the impossibility of eliminating annexations and financial strangulation without overthrowing the imperialist bourgeoisie and its governments?

Here is an Italian illustration of the kind of pacifism Kautsky preaches.

Avanti!, the Central Organ of the Socialist Party of Italy, of December 25, 1916, contains an article by the well—known reformist, Filippo Turati, entitled “Abracadabra”. On November 22, 1916, he writes, the socialist group tabled a peace resolution in the Italian Parliament. It declared that “the principles proclaimed by the representatives of England and Germany were identical, and these principles should be made the basis of a possible peace”; and it invited “the government to start peace negotiations through the mediation of the United States and other neutral countries”. This is Turati’s own account of the socialist proposal.

On December 6, 1916, the Chamber “buries” the socialist resolution by “adjourning” the debate on it. On December 12, the German Chancellor proposes in the Reichstag the very thing the Italian socialists proposed. On December 22, Wilson issues his Note which, in the words of Turati, “paraphrases and repeats the ideas and arguments of the socialist proposal”. On December 23, other neutral countries come on the scene and paraphrase Wilson’s Note.

We are accused of having sold ourselves to the Germans, exclaims Turati. Have Wilson and the neutral countries also sold themselves to Germany?

On December 17, Turati delivered a speech in Parliament, one passage of which caused an unusual and deserved sensation. This is the passage, quoted from the report in Avanti!:

“Let us assume that a discussion similar to the one proposed by Germany is able, in the main, to settle such questions as the evacuation of Belgium and France, the restoration of Rumania, Serbia and, if you will, Montenegro; I will add the rectification of the Italian frontiers in regard to what is indisputably Italian and corresponds to guarantees of a strategical character”.... At this point the bourgeois and chauvinist Chamber interrupts Turati, and from all sides the shout goes up: “Excellent! So you too want all this! Long live Turati! Long live Turati!”...

Apparently, Turati realised that there was something wrong about this bourgeois enthusiasm and tried to “correct” himself and “explain”.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “there is no occasion for irrelevant jesting. It is one thing to admit the relevance and right of national unity, which we have always recognised, but it is quite another thing to provoke, or justify, war for this aim.”

But neither Turati’s “explanation”, nor the articles in Avanti! in his defence, nor Turati’s letter of December 21, nor the article by a certain “B.B.” in the Zurich Volksrecht can “correct” or explain away the fact that Turati gave him self away!... Or, more correct, not Turati, but the whole of socialist pacifism represented by Kautsky, and, as we shall see below, the French “Kautskyites”, gave itself away. The Italian bourgeois press was right in seizing upon and exulting over this passage in Turati’s speech.

The above-mentioned “B.B.” tried to defend Turati by arguing that the latter referred only to “the right of nations to self-determination”.

Poor defence! What has this to do with “the right of nations to self-determination”, which, as everyone knows, the Marxist programme regards—and the programme of inter national democracy has always regarded—as referring to the defence of oppressed nations? What has it to do with the imperialist war, i.e., a war for the division of colonies, a war for the oppression of foreign countries, a war among predatory and oppressing powers to decide which of them shall oppress more foreign nations?

How does this argument about self-determination of nations, used to justify an imperialist, not national, war, differ from the speeches of Alexinsky, Hervé and Hyndman? They argue that republican France is opposed to monarchist Germany, though everyone knows that this war is not due to the conflict between republican and monarchist principles, but is a war between two imperialist coalitions for the division of colonies, etc.

Turati explained and pleaded that he does not “justify” the war.

We will take the reformist, Kautskyite Turati’s word for it that he did not intend to justify the war. But who does not know that in politics it is not intentions that count, but deeds, not good intentions, hut facts, not the imaginary, but the real?

Let us assume that Turati did not want to justify the war and that Kautsky did not want to justify Germany’s placing Turkey in the position of a vassal to German imperialism. But the fact remains that these two benign pacifists did justify the war! That is the point. Had Kautsky declared that “Constantinople must not go to Russia, Turkey must not be made a vassal state to anyone” not in a magazine which is so dull that nobody reads it, but in parliament, before a lively, impressionable bourgeois audience, full of southern temperament, it would not have been surprising if the witty bourgeois had exclaimed: “Excellent! Hear, hear! Long live Kautsky!”

Whether he intended to or not, deliberately or not, the fact is that Turati expressed the point of view of a bourgeois broker proposing a friendly deal between imperialist robbers. The “liberation” of Italian areas belonging to Austria would, in fact, be a concealed reward to the Italian bourgeoisie for participating in the imperialist war of a gigantic imperialist coalition. It would be a small sop thrown in, in addition to the share of the African colonies and spheres of influence in Dalmatia and Albania. It is natural, perhaps, for the reformist Turati to adopt the bourgeois standpoint; but Kautsky really differs in no way from Turati.

In order not to embellish the imperialist war and help the bourgeoisie falsely represent it as a national war, as a war for the liberation of nations, in order to avoid sliding into the position of bourgeois reformism, one must speak not in the language of Kautsky and Turati, hut in the language of Karl Liebknecht: tell one’s own bourgeoisie that they are hypocrites when they talk about national liberation, that this war cannot result in a democratic peace unless the proletariat “turns its gulls” against its own governments.

That is the only possible position of a genuine Marxist, of a genuine socialist and not a bourgeois reformist. Those who repeat the general, meaningless, non-committal, goody-goody desires of pacifism are not really working for a democratic peace. Only he is working for such a peace who exposes the imperialist nature of the present war and of the imperialist peace that is being prepared and calls upon the peoples to rise in revolt against the criminal governments.

At times some try to defend Kautsky and Turati by arguing that, legally, they could no more than “hint” at their opposition to the government, and that the pacifists of this stripe do make such “hints”. The answer to that is, first, that the impossibility of legally speaking the truth is an argument not in favour of concealing the truth, but in favour of setting up an illegal organisation and press that would be free of police surveillance and censorship. Second, that moments occur in history when a socialist is called upon to break with all legality. Third, that even in the days of serfdom in Russia, Dobrolyubov and Chernyshevsky man aged to speak the truth, for example, by their silence on the Manifesto of February 19, 1861,[2] and their ridicule and castigation of the liberals, who made exactly the same kind of speeches as Turati and Kautsky.

In the next article we shall deal with French pacifism, which found expression in the resolutions passed by the two recently held congresses of French labour and socialist organisations.

The congresses of the French General Confederation of Labour (Confédération générale du Travail)[3] and of the French Socialist Party[4] have just been held. The true significance and true role of socialist pacifism at the present moment were quite definitely revealed at these congresses.

This is the resolution passed unanimously at the trade union congress. The majority of the ardent chauvinists headed by the notorious Jouhaux, the anarchist Broutchoux and... the “Zimmerwaldist” Merrheim all voted for it:

“This Conference of National Corporative Federations, trade unions and labour exchanges, having taken cognisance of the Note of the President of the United States which ‘invites all nations now at war with each other to publicly expound their views as to the terms upon which the war might be brought to an end’—

“requests the French Government to agree to this proposal;

“invites the government to take the initiative in making a similar proposal to its allies in order to speed the hour of peace;

“declares that the federation of nations, which is one of the guarantees of a final peace, can be secured only given the independence, territorial inviolability and political and economic liberty of all nations, big and small.

“The organisations represented at this conference pledge themselves to support and spread this idea among the masses of the workers in order to put an end to the present indefinite and ambiguous situation, which can only benefit secret diplomacy, against which the working class has always protested.”

There you have a sample of “pure” pacifism, entirely in the spirit of Kautsky, a pacifism approved by an official labour organisation which has nothing in common with Marxism and is composed chiefly of chauvinists. We have before us an outstanding document, deserving the most serious attention, of the political unity of the chauvinists and the “Kautskyites” on a platform of hollow pacifist phrases. In the preceding article we tried to explain the theoretical basis of the unity of ideas of the chauvinists and the pacifists, of the bourgeois and the socialist reformists. Now we see this unity achieved in practice in another imperialist country.

At the Zimmerwald Conference, September 5–8, 1915, Merrheim declared: “Le parti, les Jouhaux, le gouvernement, ce ne sont que trois totes sous un bonnet” (“The party, the Jouhaux and the government are three heads under one bonnet”, i.e., they are all one). At the C.G.T. Conference, on December 26, 1916, Merrheim voted together with Jouhaux for a pacifist resolution. On December 23, 1916, one of the frankest and most extreme organs of the German social-imperialists, the Chemnitz Volksstimme, published a leading article entitled “The Disintegration of the Bourgeois Parties and the Restoration of Social-Democratic Unity”. Needless to say, it praises peace-loving Südekum, Legien, Scheidemann and Co., the whole German Social-Democratic Party majority and, also, the peace-loving German Government. It proclaims: “The first party congress convened after the war must restore party unity, with the exception of the few fanatics who refuse to pay party dues [i.e., the adherents of Karl Liebknecht!]; ...Party unity based on the policy of the Party Executive, the Social-Democratic Reichstag group and the trade unions.”

This is a supremely clear expression of the idea, and a supremely clear proclamation of the policy of “unity” between the avowed German social-chauvinists on the one hand and Kautsky and Co. and the Social-Democratic Labour Group on the other—unity on the basis of pacifist phrases—“unity” as achieved in France on December 26, 1916, between Jouhaux and Merrheim!

The Central Organ of the Socialist Party of Italy, Avanti!, writes in a leading article in its issue of December 28, 1916:

“Although Bissolati and Südekum, Bonomi and Scheidemann, Sembat and David, Jouhaux and Legien have deserted to the camp of bourgeois nationalism and have betrayed [hanno tradito] internationalist ideological unity, which they promised to serve faithfully and loyally, we shall stay together with our German comrades, men like Liebknecht, Ledebour, Hoffmann, Meyer, and with our French comrades, men like Merrheim, Blanc, Brizon, Raffin-Dugens, who have not changed and have not vacillated.”

Note the confusion expressed in that statement:

Bissolati and Bonomi were expelled from the Socialist Party of Italy as reformists and chauvinists before the war. Avanti! puts them on the same level as Südekum, and Legien, and quite rightly, of course. But Südekum, David and Legien are at the head of the alleged Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which, in fact, is a social-chauvinist party, and yet this very Avanti! is opposed to their expulsion, opposed to a rupture with them, and opposed to the formation of a Third International. Avanti! quite correctly describes Legien and Jouhaux as deserters to the camp of bourgeois nationalism and contrasts their conduct with that of Liebknecht, Ledebour, Merrheim and Brizon. But we have seen that Merrheim votes on the same side as Jouhaux, while Legien, in the Chemnitz Volksstimme, declares his confidence that party unity will be restored, with the single exception, however, of Liebknecht supporters, i.e., “unity” with the Social-Democratic Labour Group (including Kautsky) to which Ledebour belongs!!

This confusion arises from the fact that Avanti! confuses bourgeois pacifism with revolutionary Social-Democratic internationalism, while experienced politicians like Legien and Jouhaux understand perfectly well that socialist and bourgeois pacifism are identical.

Why, indeed, should not M. Jouhaux and his organ, the chauvinist La Bataille,[5] rejoice at the “unanimity” between Jouhaux and Merrheim when, in fact, the unanimously adopted resolution, which we have quoted in full above, contains nothing but bourgeois pacifist phrases; not a shadow of revolutionary consciousness, not a single socialist idea!

Is it not ridiculous to talk of the “economic liberty of all nations, big and small”, and yet not say a word about the fact that, until the bourgeois governments are overthrown and the bourgeoisie expropriated, this talk of “economic liberty” is just as much a deception of the people as talk of the “economic liberty” of the individual in general, of the small peasants and rich, workers and capitalists, in modern society?

The resolution Jouhaux and Merrheim unanimously voted for is thoroughly imbued with the very ideas of “bourgeois nationalism” that Jouhaux expresses, as Avanti! quite rightly points out, while, strangely enough, failing to observe that Merrheim expresses the same ideas.

Bourgeois nationalists always and everywhere flaunt “general” phrases about a “federation of nations” in general and about “economic liberty of all nations, big and small”. But socialists, unlike bourgeois nationalists, always said and now say: rhetoric about “economic liberty of all nations, big and small”, is disgusting hypocrisy as long as certain nations (for example, England and France) invest abroad, that is to say, lend at usurious interest to small and backward nations, billions of francs, and as long as the small and weak nations are in bondage to them.

Socialists could not have allowed a single sentence of the resolution, for which Jouhaux and Merrheim unanimously voted, to pass without strong protest. In direct contrast to that resolution, socialists would have declared that Wilson’s pronouncement is a downright lie and sheer hypocrisy, because Wilson represents a bourgeoisie which has made billions out of the war, because he is the head of a government that has frantically armed the United States obviously in preparation for a second great imperialist war. Socialists would have declared that the French bourgeois government is tied hand and foot by finance capital, whose slave it is, and by the secret, imperialist, thoroughly predatory and reactionary treaties with England, Russia, etc., and therefore cannot do or say anything except utter the same lies about a democratic and a “just” peace. Socialists would have declared that the struggle for such a peace cannot be waged by repeating general, vapid, benign, sentimental, meaning less and non-committal pacifist phrases, which merely serve to embellish the foulness of imperialism. It can be waged only by telling the people the truth, by telling the people that in order to obtain a democratic and just peace the bourgeois governments of all the belligerent countries must be overthrown, and that for this purpose advantage must be taken of the fact that millions of workers are armed and that the high cost of living and the horrors of the imperialist war have roused the anger of the masses.

This is what socialists should have said instead of what is said in the Jouhaux-Merrheim resolution.

The Congress of the French Socialist Party, which took place in Paris simultaneously with that of the C.G.T., not only refrained from saying this, but passed a resolution that is even worse than the one mentioned above. It was adopted by 2,838 votes against 109, with 20 abstentions, that is to say, by a bloc of the social-chauvinists (Renaudel and Co., the so-called “majoritaires”) and the Longuet-ists (supporters of Longuet, the French Kautskyites)!! Moreover, the Zimmerwaldist Bourderon and the Kienthalian Raffin-Dugens voted for this resolution!!

We shall not quote the resolution—it is inordinately long and totally uninteresting: it contains benign, sentimental phrases about peace, immediately followed by declarations of readiness to continue to support the so-called “national defence” of France, i.e., the imperialist war France is waging in alliance with bigger and more powerful robbers like England and Russia.

In France, unity of the social-chauvinists with pacifists (or Kautskyites) and a section of the Zimmerwaldists has become a fact, not only in the C.G.T., but also in the Socialist Party.

The French newspapers containing the report of the C.G.T. Congress were received in Berne on December 28, and on December 30, Berne and Zurich socialist newspapers published another manifesto by the Berne I.S.K. (Internationale Sozialistische Kommission), the International Socialist Committee, the executive body of Zimmerwald. Dated the end of December 1916, the manifesto refers to the peace proposals advanced by Germany and by Wilson and the other neutral countries, and all these governmental pronouncements are described, and quite rightly described, of course, as a “farcical game of peace”, “a game to deceive their own peoples”, “hypocritical pacifist diplomatic gesticulations”.

As against this farce and falsehood the manifesto declares that the “only force” capable of bringing about peace, etc., is the “firm determination” of the international proletariat to “turn their weapons, not against their brothers, but against the enemy in their own country”.

The passages we have quoted clearly reveal the two fundamentally distinct policies which have lived side by side, as it were, up to now in the Zimmerwald group, but which have now finally parted company.

On the one hand, Turati quite definitely and correctly states that the proposals made by Germany, Wilson, etc., were merely a “paraphrase” of Italian “socialist” pacifism; the declaration of the German social-chauvinists and the voting of the French have shown that both fully appreciate the value for their policy of the pacifist screen.

On the other hand, the International Socialist Committee manifesto describes the pacifism of all belligerent and neutral governments as a farce and hypocrisy.

On the one hand, Jouhaux joins with Merrheim; Bourderon, Longuet and Raffin-Dugens join with Renaudel, Sembat and Thomas, while the German social-chauvinists, Südekum, David and Scheidemann, announce the forthcoming “restoration of Social-Democratic unity” with Kautsky and the Social-Democratic Labour Group.

On the other hand, the International Socialist Committee calls upon the “socialist minorities” vigorously to fight “their own governments” and “their social-patriot hirelings” (Söldlinge).

Either one thing, or the other.

Either expose the vapidity, stupidity and hypocrisy of bourgeois pacifism, or “paraphrase” it into “socialist” pacifism. Fight the Jouhaux, Renaudels, Legiens and Davids as the “hirelings” of the governments, or join with them in empty pacifist declamations on the French or German models.

That is now the dividing line between the Zimmerwald Right, which has always strenuously opposed a break with the social-chauvinists, and the Left, which at the Zimmerwald Conference had the foresight publicly to dissociate itself from the Right and to put forward, at the Conference and after it in the press, its own platform. It is no accident that the approach of peace, or even the intense discussion by certain bourgeois elements of the peace issue, has led to a very marked divergence between the two policies. To bourgeois pacifists and their “socialist” imitators, or echoers, peace has always been a fundamentally distinct concept, for neither has ever understood that “war is the continuation of the policies of peace and peace the continuation of the policies of war”. Neither the bourgeois nor the social—chauvinist wants to see that the imperialist war of 1914–17 is the continuation of the imperialist policies of 1898–1914, if not of an even earlier period. Neither the bourgeois pacifists nor the socialist pacifists realise that without the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois governments, peace now can only be an imperialist peace, a continuation of the imperialist war.

In appraising the present war, they use meaningless, vulgar, philistine phrases about aggression or defence in general, and use the same philistine commonplaces in appraising the peace, disregarding the concrete historical situation, the actual concrete struggle between the imperialist powers. And it was quite natural for the social-chauvinists, these agents of the governments and the bourgeoisie in the workers’ parties, to seize upon the approach of peace in particular, or even upon mere peace talk, in order to gloss over the depth of their reformism and opportunism, exposed by the war, and restore their undermined influence over the masses. Hence, the social-chauvinists in Germany and in France, as we have seen, are making strenuous efforts to “unite” with the flabby, unprincipled pacifist section of the “opposition”.

Efforts to gloss over the divergence between the two irreconcilable lines of policy will certainly be made also in the Zimmerwald group. One can foresee that they will follow two lines. A “practical business” conciliation by mechanically combining loud revolutionary phrases (like those in the International Socialist Committee manifesto) with opportunist and pacifist practice. That is what happened in the Second International. The arch-revolutionary phrases in the manifestos of Huysmans and Vandervelde and in certain congress resolutions merely served as a screen for the arch-opportunist practice of the majority of the European parties, but they did not change, disrupt or combat this practice. It is doubtful whether these tactics will again be successful in the Zimmerwald group.

The “conciliators in principle” will try to falsify Marxism by arguing, for example, that reform does not exclude revolution, that an imperialist peace with certain “improvements” in nationality frontiers, or in international law, or in armaments expenditure, etc., is possible side by side with the revolutionary movement, as “one of the aspects of the development” of that movement, and so on and so forth.

This would be a falsification of Marxism. Reforms do not, of course, exclude revolution. But that is not the point at issue. The point is that revolutionaries must not exclude themselves, not give way to reformism, i.e., that socialists should not substitute reformist work for their revolutionary work. Europe is experiencing a revolutionary situation. The war and the high cost of living are aggravating the situation. The transition from war to peace will not necessarily eliminate the revolutionary situation, for there are no grounds whatever for believing that the millions of workers who now have excellent weapons in their hands will necessarily permit themselves to be “peacefully disarmed” by the bourgeoisie instead of following the advice of Karl Liebknecht, i.e., turning their weapons against their own bourgeoisie.

The question is not, as the pacifist Kautskyites maintain: either a reformist political campaign, or else the renunciation of reforms. That is a bourgeois presentation of the question. The question is: either revolutionary struggle, the by-product of which, in the event of its not being fully successful, is reforms (the whole history of revolutions throughout the world has proved this), or nothing but talk about reforms and the promise of reforms.

The reformism of Kautsky, Turati and Bourderon, which now comes out in the form of pacifism, not only leaves aside the question of revolution (this in itself is a betrayal of socialism), not only abandons in practice all systematic and persistent revolutionary work, but even goes to the length of declaring that street demonstrations are adventurism (Kautsky in Die Neue Zeit, November 26, 1915). It goes to the length of advocating and implementing unity with the outspoken and determined opponents of revolutionary struggle, the Südekum, Legiens, Renaudels, Thomases, etc., etc.

This reformism is absolutely irreconcilable with revolutionary Marxism, the duty of which is to take the utmost possible advantage of the present revolutionary situation in Europe in order openly to urge revolution, the overthrow of the bourgeois governments, the conquest of power by the armed proletariat, while at the same time not renouncing, and not refusing to utilise, reforms in developing the revolutionary struggle and in the course of that struggle.

The immediate future will show what course events in Europe will follow, particularly the struggle between reformist pacifism and revolutionary Marxism, including the struggle between the two Zimmerwald sections.

Zurich, January 1, 1917

[1] Lenin intended this article for the newspaper Novy Mir (New World) published in New York by Russian socialist émigrés. The article did not appear in Novy Mir and Lenin re-edited the first two sections, which were published in the last issue (No. 58) of Sotsial-Demokrat, January 31, 1917, under the heading “A Turn in World Politics” (see pp. 262–70 of this volume).

[2] The Manifesto of February 19, 1861 abolished serfdom in Russia.

[3] The French Confédération générale du Travail (General Confederation of Labour) was founded in 1895 and was strongly influenced by anarcho-syndicalists and reformists. Its leaders recognised only economic struggle, opposed proletarian party leadership of the trade union movement, sided with the imperialist bourgeoisie in the First World War and advocated class collaboration and “defence of the fatherland”.

The congress mentioned by Lenin met in Paris on December 24–26, 1916 and discussed: (1) report of the Executive for the period from August 1914, and (2) industrial issues. At the concluding session the Executive informed the congress of President Wilson s peace appeal to the belligerent nations, and the congress adopted, by a nearly unanimous vote, the resolution cited by Lenin.

[4] The French Socialist Party was founded in 1905 by the merger of the Socialist Party of France led by Guesde and the French Socialist Party led by Jaurès. Dominated by reformists, the party adopted a chauvinist position from the very start of the imperialist war. Its leaders openly supported the war and justified participation in the bourgeois government. The Centrist wing, led by Longuet, took a social-pacifist line and a conciliatory attitude towards the social-chauvinists. The Left, revolutionary wing adhered to internationalist positions and drew its support mainly from the party rank and file.

The party congress mentioned by Lenin met on December 25–30, 1916, the chief agenda item being the question of peace. A number of resolutions were adopted, including one opposing propaganda of the Zimmerwald principles, and another, moved by Renaudel. am proving socialist participation in the war-time government.

[5] La Bataille (The Battle)—organ of the French anarcho-syndicalists, published in Paris from 1915 to 1920 in place of the banned La Bataille Syndicaliste. Leading contributors included Grave, Jouhaux, and Cornelissen. Adopted a socialchauvinist position in the First World War.