Saturday, May 21, 2011

In The Time Of The Be-Bop Baby-Boom Jail Break-Out- “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era- 1963-Still Rocking”- A CD Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for drive-in movies

CD Review

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Era: 1963-Still Rocking, various artists, Time-Life Music, 1989

I have recently been on a tear in reviewing individual CDs in this extensive Time-Life Rock ‘n’ Roll series. A lot of these reviews have been driven by the artwork which graces the covers of each item, both to stir ancient memories and reflect that precise moment in time, the youth time of the now very, very mature (nice sliding over the age issue, right?) baby-boomer generation who lived and died by the music. And who fit in, or did not fit in as the case may be, to the themes of those artwork scenes. This 1963 CD is a case of the former, of the fitting in. On this cover, a summer scene (always a nice touch since that was the time when we had at least the feel of our generational break-out) we are at the drive-in, the drive-in movies for those of the Internet/Netflicks/YouTube generations who have not gotten around to checking out this bit of Americana on Wikipedia, with the obligatory 1950s-early 1960s B-movie monster movie (outer space aliens, creatures from the black lagoon, blobs, DNA-damaged dinosaurs, foreign-bred behemoths a specialty) prominent on the screen.

Oh sure, everyone of a certain age, a certain baby-boomer age, a generation of ’68 age, has plenty of stories to tell of being bundled up as kids, maybe pre-set with full set pajamas on to defend against the late sleepy-eyed night, the sleepy-drowsy late movie night, placed in the car backseats and taken by adventurous parents (or so it seemed) to the local open air drive-in for the double feature. That usually also happened on a friendly summer night when school did not interfere with staying up late (hopefully through both films). And to top it all off you got to play in the inevitable jungle jim, see-saw, slide, swing set-ladened playground during intermission between the film while waiting, waiting against all hope, for that skewered, shriveled hot dog, rusty, dusty hamburger, or stale, over the top buttered pop corn that was the real reason that you “consented” to stay out late with the parents. Ya, we all have variations on that basic theme to tell, although I challenge anyone, seriously challenge anyone, to name five films that you saw at the drive-in that you remembered from then-especially those droopy-eyed second films.

In any case, frankly, I don’t give a damn about that kid stuff family adventure drive-in experience. Come on, that was all, well, just kids' stuff. The “real” drive-in, as pictured in the cover art here is what I want to address. The time of our time in that awkward teen alienation, teen angst thing that only got abated by things like a teenage night at the drive-in. Ya, that was not, or at least I hope it was not, you father’s drive-in. That might have been in the next planet over, for all I know. For starters our planet involved girls (girls, ah, women, just reverse the genders here to tell your side of the experience), looking for girls, or want to be looking for girls, preferably a stray car-full to compliment your guy car-full and let god sort it out at intermission.

Wait a minute. I am getting ahead of myself in this story. First you needed that car, because no walkers or bus riders need apply for the drive-in movies like this was some kind of lame, low-rent, downtown matinee last picture show adventure. For this writer that was a problem, a personal problem, as I had no car and my family had cars only sporadically. Fortunately we early baby-boomers lived in the golden age of the automobile and could depend on a friend to either have a car (praise be teenage disposable income/allowances) or could use the family car. Once the car issue was clarified then it was simply a matter of getting a car-full of guys (or sometimes guys and gals) in for the price of two (maybe three) admissions.

What? Okay, I think that I can safely tell the story now because the statute of limitations must have surely passed. See, what you did was put a couple (or three guys) in the trunk of that old car (or in a pinch one guy on the backseat floor) as you entered the drive-thru admissions booth. The driver paid for the two (or three tickets) and took off to your parking spot (complete with ramp speaker just in case you wanted to actually listen to the film shown on that big wide white screen). Neat trick, right?

Now, of course, the purpose of all of this, as mentioned above, was to get that convoy of guys, trunk guys, backseat guys, backseat floor guys, whatever, to mix and moon with that elusive car-full of girls who did the very same thing (except easier because they were smaller) at the intermission stand or maybe just hanging around the unofficially designated teen hang-out area. No family sedans with those pajama-clad kids need apply (nor any sane, responsible parent get within fifty paces of said teens). And occasionally, very occasionally as it turned out, some “boss” car would show up complete with one guy (the driver) and one honey (girl, ah, woman) closely seated beside him for what one and all knew was going to be a very window-fogged night. And that was, secretly thought or not, the guy drive-in dream. As for the movies. Did they show movies there? Enough said.

Oh, except that at said drive-in, before the first show started at dusk, between shows and on the way home, girl-matched or not, you were very liable to hear many of the songs in this CD on the old car radio. The stick outs here include: Heat Wave (not as good as Dancing In The Streets but good), Martha and the Vandellas; Just One Look (make that look my way, please, even if you are munching on pop corn) Doris Troy; Wild Weekend (just in case you wanted to dance during intermission rather than watch the screen clock ticking off the time until that next film began), The Rockin’ Rebels ; and, Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby (ya, you have got that right, sisters), The Cookies.

From The Marx-Engels Archives- England’s 17th Century Revolution-Abolish The Monarchy Now!

Markin comment:

Every once in a while it is beneficial to go back to the archives to see what our political forebears were up to. And since we are very much in a period where the study of Marxist classics, and socialist concepts in general, is on the order of the day Marx and Engels, our historic founders in the second half of the 19th century, have something to tell us about how to organize those inquiries. Especially about England.

Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung Politisch-ökonomische Revue 1850

England’s 17th Century Revolution

A Review of Francois Guizot’s 1850 pamphlet
Pourquoi la revolution d'Angleterre a-t-elle reussi?

Written: February 1850;
First Published: in Politisch-Ökonomische Revue, No. 2, February 1850;

In this pamphlet, M. Guizot [1784-1874, French historian; one-time head of government] intends to prove that Louis Philippe and the politics pursued by M. Guizot should not really have been overthrown on February 24, 1848, and that only the wicked character of the French is to be blamed for the fact that the July Monarchy of 1830, after an existence of 18 troublesome years, collapsed so ignominiously and did not acquire the endurance that the English monarchy has enjoyed since 1688.

Reading this pamphlet, one realized that even the ablest men of the ancien regime, as well as men who cannot be denied certain historical talents, have become so confused by the fateful events of that February that they have lost all sense of history and, indeed, no longer understand their previous actions. Instead of gaining, from the experience of the February Revolution, some insight into the totally different historical situation and into the entirely different position that the classes occupy in society under the French Monarchy of 1830 and under the English Monarchy of 1688, M. Guizot dissolves these difference with a few moralistic phrases and asserts in conclusion that the policy overthrown on February 24 was “only one that could master the revolution, in the same way that it had controlled the state”.

Specifically formulated, the question M. Guizot sets out to answer is: Why did bourgeois society in England develop as a constitutional monarchy longer than it did in France?

Characteristic of M. Guizot’s knowledge of the course of bourgeois development in England is the following passage:

“Under George I and George II, the public spirit took a different direction: Foreign policy ceased to be the major interest; internal administration, the maintenance of peace, financial, colonial, and commercial questions, and the development and struggle for parliamentary government became the major issues occupying the government and the public.”

M. Guizot finds in the reign of William III only two points worth mentioning: the preservation of the balance of power between Parliament and crown, and the preservation of the European balance of power through the wars against Louis XIV. Under the Hanoverian dynasty, “public opinion suddenly takes a “different direction”, nobody knows how or why. Here one sees how M. Guizot superimposes the most commonplace phrases of French parliamentary debates on English history, believing he has thereby explained it. In the same way, Guizot also imagines that, as French Prime Minister, he carried on his shoulders the responsibility of preserving the proper equilibrium between Parliament and crown, as well as the European balance of power, and in reality he did nothing but huckster French society away piecemeal to the moneyed Jews of the Paris

M. Guizot does not think it worth mentioning that the struggle against Louis XIV was simply a war of competition aimed at the destruction of French naval power and commerce; nor does he mention the rule of the finance bourgeoisie through the establishment of the Bank of England under William III, nor the introduction of the public debt which then received its first sanction, nor that the manufacturing bourgeoisie received a new impetus by the consistent application of a system of protective tariffs. For Guizot, only political phrases are meaningful. He does not even mention that under Queen Anne the ruling parties could preserve themselves, as well as the constitutional monarchy, only by forcibly extending the term of Parliament to seven years, thus all but destroying any influence the people might have had on government.

Under the Hanoverian dynasty, England had already reached a stage of development where it could fight its wars of competition against France with modern means. England herself challenged France directly only in America and the East Indies, whereas on the Continent she contended herself with paying foreign sovereigns, such as Frederick II, to wage war against France. And while foreign policy assumed such a new form, M. Guizot has this to say: “Foreign policy ceased to be the major interest”, being replaced by “the maintenance of peace”. Regarding the statement that the “development and struggle for parliamentary government” became a major concern, one may recall the incidents of corruption under the Walpole Ministry, which, indeed, resemble very closely the scandals that became daily events under M. Guizot.

The fact that the English Revolution developed more successfully than the French can be attributed, according to M. Guizot, to two factors: first, that the English Revolution had a thoroughly religious character, and hence in mo way broke with all past traditions; and second, that from the very beginning it was not destructive but constructive, Parliament defending the old existing laws against encroachment by the crown.

In regard to the first point, M. Guizot seems to have forgotten that the free-thinking philosophy which makes him shudder so terribly when he sees it in the French Revolution was imported to France from no other country than England. Its father was Locke, and in Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke

In regard to the second point, Guizot completely forgets that the French Revolution, equally conservative, began even more conservatively than the English. Absolutism, particularly as it finally appeared in France, was an innovation there too, and it was against this innovation that the parlements [French Diets] revolted to defend the old laws, the us et coutumes [usages and customs] of the old monarchy with its Estates General. And whereas the French Revolution was to revive the old Estates General that had quietly died since Henry IV and Louis XIV, the English Revolution, on the contrary, could show no comparable classical-conservative element.

According to M. Guizot, the main result of the English Revolution was that it made it impossible for the king to rule against the will of Parliament and the House of Commons. Thus, to him, the whole revolution consists only of this: that in the beginning both sides, crown and Parliament, overstep their bounds and go too far, until they finally find their proper equilibrium under William III and neutralize each other. M. Guizot finds it superfluous to mention that the subjection of the crown to Parliament meant subjection to the rule of a class. Nor does he think it necessary to deal with the fact that this class won the necessary power in order finally to make the crown its servant. According to him, the whole struggle between Charles I and Parliament was merely over purely political privileges. Not a word is said about why the Parliament, and the class represented in it, needed these privileges. Nor does Guizot talk about Charles I’s interference with free competition, which made England’s commerce and industry increasingly impossible; nor about the dependence on Parliament into which Charles I, in his continuous need for money, feel the more deeply the more he tried to defy it. Consequently, M. Guizot explains the revolution as being merely due to the ill will and religious fanaticism of a few troublemakers who would not rest content with moderate freedom. Guizot is just as little able to explain the interrelationship between the religious movement and the development of bourgeois society. To him, of course, the Republic [Crowmwell’s] is likewise the work of a mere handful of ambitious and malicious fanatics. Nowhere does he mention the attempts made to establish republics in Lisbon, Naples, and Messina at that time — attempts following the Dutch example, as England did.

Although M. Guizot never loses sight of the French Revolution, he does not even reach the simple conclusion that the transition from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy can take place only after violent struggles and passing through a republican stage, and that even then the old dynasty, having become useless, must make way for a usurpatory side line. Hence, Guizot can say only the most trivial commonplaces about the overthrow of the English Restoration monarchy. He does not even cite the most immediate causes: the fear on the part of the great new landowners, who had acquired property before the restoration of Catholicism — property robbed from the church — which they would have to change hands; the aversion of the commercial and industrial bourgeoisie to Catholicism, a religion in now way suitable for its commerce; the nonchalance with which the Stuarts, for their own and their courtier’s benefit, sold all of England’s industry and commerce to the French government, that is, to the only country then in a position to offer England dangerous and often successful competition, etc. Since M. Guizot omits the most momentous points, there is nothing left for him but the highly unsatisfactory and banal narration of mere political events.

For M. Guizot, the great mystery is the conservative nature of the English Revolution, which he can ascribe only to the superior intelligence of the English, whereas in fact it can be found in the enduring alliance between the bourgeoisie and a great part of the landowners, an alliance that constitutes the major difference between it and the French Revolution, which destroyed the great landholdings with its parcelization policy. The English class of great landowners, allied with the bourgeoisie — which, incidentally, had already developed under Henry VIII — did not find itself in opposition — as did the French feudal landowners in 1789 — but rather in complete harmony with the vital requirements of the bourgeoisie. In fact, their lands were not feudal but bourgeois property. On the one hand, there were able to provide the industrial bourgeoisie with the manpower necessary for manufacturing, and on the other they were able to develop agriculture to the standards consonant with industry and commerce. Thus their common interests with the bourgeoisie, thus their alliance with it.

For Guizot, English history ends with the consolidation of the constitutional monarchy. For him, everything that follows is limited to a pleasant alternating game between Tories and Whigs, that is, to the great debate between M. Guizot and M. Thiers. In reality, however, the consolidation of the constitutional monarchy is only the beginning of the magnificent development and transformation of bourgeois society in England. Where M. Guizot sees only gentle calm and idyllic peace, in reality the most violent conflicts and the most penetrating revolutions are taking place. Under the constitutional monarchy, manufacturing at first expands to an extent hitherto unknown, only to make way for heavy industry, the steam engine, and the colossal factories. Whole classes of the population disappear, to be replaced by new ones, with new living conditions and new requirements. A new, more gigantic bourgeoisie comes into existence; while the old bourgeoisie fights with the French Revolution, the new one conquers the world market. It becomes so all-powerful that even before the Reform Bill gives it direct political power, it forces its opponents to enact legislation entirely in conformity with its interest and its needs. It wins direct representation in Parliament and uses it for the destruction of the last remnants of real power left to the landowners. It is, finally, at the present moment engaged in a thorough demolition of the beautiful codes of the English Constitution, which M. Guizot so admires.

And while M. Guizot compliments the English for the fact that the reprehensible excesses of French social life, republicanism and socialism, have not destroyed the foundations of their sanctified monarchy, the class antagonisms of English society have actually reached a height not found anywhere else, and the bourgeoisie, with its incomparable wealth and productive powers, confronts a proletariat which likewise has incomparable power and concentration. The respect that M. Guizot offers to England finally adds up to the fact that, under the protection of the constitutional monarchy, more, and more radical, elements of social revolutions have developed than in all other countries of the world together.

At the point where the threads of English history come together in a knot, when M. Guizot cannot even pretend to cut with mere political phrases, he takes refuge in religious catchwork, in God’s armed intervention. Thus, for example, the holy spirit suddenly descends on the army and prevents Cromwell from declaring himself king. Before his conscience, Guizot saves himself through God, before his profane public, he does so through his style.

In reality, not only do les rois s'en vont [the kings depart] but also les capacites de la bourgeoisie s'en vont [the capacities of the bourgeoisie disappear].

***On The Life and Times Of Leon Trotsky-From The Pen Of Long-Time Co-Thinker Alfred Rosmer- Trotsky In Paris-"The Paris Militant"

Markin comment:

Every once in a while it is beneficial to go back to the archives to see what our political forebears were up to. And since we are very much in a period where the study of Marxist classics, and socialist concepts in general, is on the order of the day Trotsky, a central leader of world socialism in the first half of the 20th century, has something to tell us about how to organize those inquiries.
Alfred Rosmer

Published: Fourth International, Autumn 1959

Trotsky stayed in France at various periods, but it was only during the two years he spent in Paris during the First World War that he could operate as a militant free to move about as well as to speak and write. That freedom was only relative, because it was that of the state of siege and censorship, but in that he was in the same boat as the French themselves, and what may here seem paradoxical is easily explained by reference to what the situation then was. In Vienna, where he had been living at that period, Russia’s entry into war had made him an enemy alien, whereas in France the “alliance” protected him, while at the same time Paris would be for him the best combat post in the hard struggle for the defense of socialism. Experience showed that this reasoning was correct: for nearly two years he was able to battle just as much among the French workers as in the emigré circles. If it all ended badly – by expulsion – there also Trotsky shared the fate of his French comrades at a time when the growth of opposition to war worried the government and led it to take open measures of repression. In his case, Petrograd was giving orders to Paris, for the expulsion, several times requested already, was finally demanded – in which Stalin was later to repeat Czarist policy, and on two occasions.

On his way toward France, Trotsky’s first stop-over was Zurich. He lingered there, staying three months, so warm and encouraging was the welcome he received from the section of the Socialist Party. In those first days of August, the Swiss socialists were, like those of all countries, overwhelmed by the collapse of the International; but, not being involved in mobilization, they were all there, especially the youth, discussing, trying to understand the meaning of the war amid the confusion created and maintained by rival propaganda. Trotsky brought them the stimulant they needed to keep clear heads. Like them he had gone through the German school of socialism: its Social-Democracy was not a party of the International but the party par excellence – one more reason for fighting mercilessly against the betrayal of its chiefs. Their collapse was a tragedy and, at first glance, the outlook was very sombre; that might lead to erroneous conclusions. But what was this war? A clash of imperialisms, of two great formations of antagonists. Of course, but there was a deeper and general meaning: the war marked the revolt of the forces of production against the outdated political form of the nation and the state; and, as the Socialist Parties were in fact national parties, they collapsed with it. Conclusion: all efforts to save the Second International would be useless; it was not socialism, however, that had collapsed, but its temporary external historic form.

An eyewitness, a member of the section and a participant in these discussions, Fritz Brupbacher, wrote later that, with Trotsky’s arrival at Zurich, life was renewed in the workers’ movement, and that his influence had such a power of attraction that they wanted to give him the mandate to represent the section at the next congress of the party. Though Switzerland. would have afforded him a less exposed place of refuge, it was in the heart of a France at war that Trotsky wanted to settle: he wrote in haste a pamphlet in which, under the title Der Krieg und die Internationale, he assembled and developed the ideas that he had just been setting forth to the Zurich socialists, a pamphlet that was so substantial and still so timely that in 1918 an enterprising American publisher made a whole book out of its translation into English.

In Paris there was another paradox: it was through the Vie Ouvière, a revolutionary syndicalist organ, that Trotsky’s liaison, neither ephemeral nor accidental, with the workers’ movement, functioned. Yet there was a Socialist Party there that persisted in calling itself the “French Section of the Workers’ International” but when Trotsky, for a specific purpose, went to the offices of the party’s daily newspaper, he there found its leaders, Cachin among others, going along with the current as usual, therefore ultra-chauvinist; after a few useless attempts at discussion, they made it clear to him that he was an undesirable: they expelled him from l’Humanité before rejoicing to see him later expelled from France by Briand.

As soon as he had found a possible boarding-house – in the Pare Montsouris neighborhood, one of the emigré quarters of Paris – he sent for his family, Natalia and the two sons Leon and Sergei, to join him; from then on he could organize his activity in such a way as to be able to carry out successfully what was going to be his triple task. The articles that he was sending to the Kievskaia Mysl obliged him to follow closely both French politics and military operations: he was a skilled newspaper-reader, and quickly understood what each represented and what must be expected of it. As for parliamentary life, it was then so limited, so non-existent, that the government had to be sought out rather at Chantilly (General Headquarters) than at Paris. But his articles also gave him the opportunity of making research field trips throughout France, of meeting socialist and trade-union militants, of sounding out the state of mind of the average Frenchman: conversations with a Liège anarchist had enabled him to learn about and give an exact description of the resistance movement that had set a notable part of the population – and even the anarchists – against the German troops.

The main work of the day was, naturally, Nashé Slovo, the newspaper, and the group that gravitated round it. The editors met every morning at the printshop in the rue des Feuillantines to discuss that day’s issue and prepare tomorrow’s, on the basis of information that came in, and of discussions about the conceptions defended by the various tendencies of Russian socialism, of polemics with the “defensists” and also with Lenin, who, from Geneva, was defending his own position with vigor and even brutality. Martov, right from the beginning, had been, before Trotsky’s arrival, a sort of editor-in-chief; his anti-war attitude had helped to bring him close to the other sectors of the opposition. It did not correspond however, to that of the majority of the Mensheviks whose representative to the International Socialist Bureau he was; he was embarrassed thereby, to the extent of being unable to accept having certain questions even raised and discussed such as that of a new International. The clashes with Trotsky grew gradually more frequent and sharp, and as it was evident that Trotsky better expressed the conceptions of the paper’s editorship, Martov resigned and left for Switzerland.

It was through him that the first contact had been made between the Russian socialists in Paris and the centre of opposition, then numerically tiny, represented by the Vie Ouvière; a letter he had written to Gustave Hervé, which the latter had published, had been the occasion for their meeting. And it was he also who announced to us the forthcoming arrival of Trotsky and who brought him around as soon as he did arrive. We used to meet in the evening, once a week, and when our little group was reinforced by these new allies, our horizon, until then sombre, lightened up. With Trotsky and Martov there came Dridzo-Losovsky, long settled in Paris, and a Polish socialist, Lapinsky. When, one evening, the Swiss socialist, Grimm, accompanied them, there could be conceived a rebirth of proletarian internationalism, and we already began arrangements which ensured us serious international liaisons, since, through the Swiss, it would he possible for us to remain in contact with the German opposition.

Of these meetings Raymond Lefebvre painted a faithful picture in the preface to L’Eponge de vinaigre. They were kept up all winter, but were abruptly ended when the government profited by a revision of draft exemptions to call up all known oppositionals who had escaped conscription and send them to the armies. At that moment the idea of an international conference had already taken sufficiently specific form so that practical preparations for holding it were being thought out. It was known that inside the French Socialist Party discontent was growing against the nationalist and pro-government policy which the leadership was integrally imposing on the party; a manifestation of this discontent and its importance was the position taken by one of the best provincial federations, that of the Haute-Vienne, and rendered public by a report signed by all the federations’ elected office-holders. The socialists of Nashé Slovo hastened to make contact with some of them who happened to be in Paris. Meetings were held at Dridzo’s place: they were not very encouraging, for the Limousins, though very firm in their criticism of the betrayal of socialism, shied away when we talked about the action that must be taken, obsessed by fear of a split, which they absolutely refused to face. The arrival in Paris of the Italian socialist Morgari, in search of participants in the future international conference, brought about the last meeting. Trotsky has amusingly described in My Life how, when Morgari suddenly spoke of underground activity, the worthy Limousins hastened to disappear. It was impossible to think of adding to the French delegation: Merrheim and Bourderon remained alone to represent the opposition, though, for that period, they represented it very well, even if they refused, despite Trotsky’s friendly insistence, to go further than their resolution at the confederal conference, which had, however, become insufficient, for it no longer corresponded to a situation that events were changing every day.

At Zimmerwald, the already known tendencies became specific. Lenin wanted acts: refusal of war credits by the Socialist parliamentarians; preparation of the new International; appeals to the workers for anti-war demonstrations. As against this clearly defined programme, the Italians set up a waiting policy: they refused to consider that the Second International was dead already; they wished for a rapprochement with the German centre (Kautsky-Bernstein) ; that was also the position of the Mensheviks. Trotsky was in agreement with Lenin (except on the question of defeatism), but he was in a position to understand better than Lenin what it was possible to ask of the conference at that stage: his Paris activity had permitted him to measure the strength of the opposition; in the same way, through his contacts with Grimm and Morgari, he knew exactly the current conceptions of the Swiss and Italian leaderships, of whom it could not be said that they did not represent the feelings of the rank and file. His speeches seemed so convincing that, at the end of the discussions, he was entrusted with the task of drafting the manifesto, which all the delegates approved. Lenin was not entirely satisfied, but that did not prevent him from considering that it was “a step forward,” and that one could be satisfied with that much for the moment.

This fortunate outcome of the conference was going to permit Trotsky to find in France a base for his activity. The manifesto restored confidence, and the opposition, till then skeletonic and dispersed, penetrated into the workers’ movement. A committee had been created for the revival of international relations; its plenary meetings brought together a growing number of militants; one of its most active members was Trotsky, who soon dominated it. Its secretary was Merrheim; with the Metal-Workers’ Federation behind him, he had, right from the beginning, courageously carried on the fight against the confederation’s leadership; now he became too prudent, already disturbed at seeing the committee drive further than he had decided to go. And so he opposed all proposals made by Trotsky to carry the activity of the committee out into public, taking up again at every session his suggestion for creating a Bulletin, indispensable for the committee’s own life, for circulating information verbally communicated during the meetings which it was important to take down and make known to all those who, in the trade unions and in the Socialist sections, were beginning to break away from the lies and illusions by which they had been lulled in order to drag them into the war. Merrheim resisted, grew impatient when he saw the ascendancy that Trotsky was winning over the assembly, but he could do nothing against his clear comments on events, fed by an exceptional experience, against a well-reasoned revolutionary optimism that carried conviction. At the end of the meetings, militants of all tendencies, socialists, anarchists, syndicalists, approached Trotsky, questioning him about points which were not yet clear to them; dates were arranged to permit continuing such fruitful conversations. One of them, F. Loriot, a member of the Socialist Party, definitively won over to the opposition, whose leadership he was to take within the party, wrote a pamphlet whose contents he had studied out with Trotsky, Les socialistes de Zimmerwald et la guerre, which took its place among the clandestine publications of the committee.

The Czarist government could not understand how an ally could allow a newspaper like Nashé Slovo to he published on its territory. On several occasions it had asked that the paper be suppressed and its editors imprisoned. The operation was difficult, being contrary to the policy of the French government at that period, when the Socialist ministers were explaining that persecution of the opposition could only aid it by making it better known – much better to stifle it by censorship. A grave incident that took place among the Russian detachments brought to France at the request of the French government was to he the occasion of an intervention that was this time decisive. The soldiers of this detachment were subjected, in France, to a regime that the surroundings rendered unbearable; the officers treated them like brute beasts. A soldier, slapped in the face by a colonel, retorted with such ardour that death ensued. Nashé Slovo, declared responsible, was immediately prohibited, and an order of expulsion announced to Trotsky. Different interventions enabled him to gain a little time and to try to choose the place to which he was to be deported. All was in vain. The family was then living in the Gobelins quarter, quite close to the hall of the Reine-Blanche, where there had taken place the deeply moving August 1914 meeting at which the various Russian parties tore one another apart, the “defensists” signing enlistment papers in the French army. It was here that two policemen came to take him and conduct him to the Spanish border. But even from Cadiz, where he was stopping temporarily, Trotsky found the means of participating once more in the committee for the revival of international relations, and precisely on the occasion of the pamphlet that he had prepared with Loriot. The growing influence of Zimmerwald had led the minorityites in the Socialist Party to organize themselves on an extremely moderate basis, their position not being essentially differenciable from that of the chauvinists of the leadership, of which they denounced only the “excesses.” This semiopposition represented a danger; there was a risk that it would get some Zimmerwaldists to make a bloc with it against the leadership – which the pamphlet had foreseen. And so complaints arose from the minorityite members, accusing the Zimmerwaldists of “dividing” the opposition. One of these criticisms was communicated to Trotsky, who replied immediately: “Political forces are not ‘divided’ by clarity any more than they are added together by confusion. Three viewpoints, three motions: clarity is political honesty.” And so ended, in an exceptional prolongation, his career as a Paris militant.

From The Lenin Internet Archives- To the Workers Who Support the Struggle Against the War and Against the Socialists Who Have Sided With Their Governments (1916)

Markin comment:

Every once in a while it is beneficial to go back to the archives to see what our political forebears were up to. And since we are very much in a period where the study of Marxist classics, and socialist concepts in general, is on the order of the day Lenin, a central leader of world socialism in the first quarter of the 20th century, has something to tell us about how to organize those inquiries.
V. I. Lenin

To the Workers Who Support the Struggle Against the War and Against the Socialists Who Have Sided With Their Governments

Published: First published in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 5 (28), 1924. Written at the close of December (old style) 1916. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 229-235.
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.
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The international situation is becoming increasingly clear and increasingly menacing. Both belligerent coalitions have latterly revealed the imperialist nature of the war in a very striking way. The more assiduously the capitalist governments and the bourgeois and socialist pacifists spread their empty, lying pacifist phrases—the talk of a democratic peace, a peace without annexations, etc.—the sooner are they exposed. Germany is crushing several small nations under her iron heel with the very evident determination not to give up her booty except by exchanging part of it for enormous colonial possessions, and she is using hypocritical pacifist phrases as a cover for her readiness to conclude an immediate imperialist peace.

England and her allies are clinging just as tightly to the colonies seized from Germany, part of Turkey, etc., claiming that in endlessly continuing the slaughter for possession of Constantinople, strangulation of Galicia, partition of Austria, the ruin of Germany, they are fighting for a “just” peace.

The truth, of which only a few were theoretically convinced at the beginning of the war, is now becoming palpably evident to an increasing number of class-conscious workers, namely, that a serious struggle against the war, a struggle to abolish war and establish lasting peace, is out of ,the question unless there is a mass revolutionary struggle led by the proletariat against the government in every country, unless bourgeois rule is overthrown, unless a socialist revolution is brought about. And the war itself, which is imposing an unprecedented strain upon the peoples, is bringing mankind to this, the only way out of the impasse, is compelling it to take giant strides towards state capitalism, and is demonstrating in a practical manner how planned social economy can and should be conducted, not in the interests of the capitalists, but by expropriating them, under the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat, in the interests of the masses who are now perishing from starvation and the other calamities caused by the war.

The more obvious this truth becomes, the wider becomes the gulf separating the two irreconcilable tendencies, policies, trends of socialist activity, which we indicated at Zimmerwald, where we acted as a separate Left wing, and in a manifesto to all socialist parties and to all class—conscious workers issued on behalf of the Left wing immediately after the conference. This is the gulf that lies between the attempts to conceal the obvious bankruptcy of official socialism and its representatives’ desertion to the bourgeoisie and their governments, as well as the attempts to reconcile the masses with this complete betrayal of socialism, on the one hand, and, on the other, the efforts to expose this bankruptcy in all its magnitude, to expose the bourgeois policy of the “social-patriots”, who have deserted the proletariat for the bourgeoisie, to destroy their influence over the masses and to create the possibility and the organisational basis for a genuine struggle against the war.

The Zimmerwald Right wing, which was in the majority at the conference, fought the idea of breaking with the social-patriots and founding the Third International tooth and nail. Since then the split has become a definite fact in England; and in Germany the last conference of the “opposition”, on January 7, 1917, revealed to all who do not wilfully shut their eyes to the facts, that in that country too there are two irreconcilably hostile labour parties,, working in opposite directions. One is a socialist party, working for the most part underground, and with Karl Liebknecht one of its leaders. The other is a thoroughly bourgeois, social-patriot party, which is trying to reconcile the workers to the war and to the government. The same division is to be observed in every country of the world.

At the Kienthal Conference the Zimmerwald Right wing did not have so large a majority as to be able to continue its own policy. It voted for the resolution against the social-patriot International Socialist Bureau, a resolution which condemned the latter in the sharpest terms, and for the resolution against social-pacifism, which warned the workers against lying pacifist phrases, regardless of socialist trimmings. Socialist pacifism, which refrains from explaining to the workers the illusory nature of hopes for peace without overthrowing the bourgeoisie and organising socialism, is merely an echo of bourgeois pacifism, which instils in the workers faith in the bourgeoisie, presents the imperialist governments and the deals they make with each other in a good light and distracts the masses from the maturing socialist revolution, which events have put on the order of the day.

But what transpired? After the Kienthal Conference, the Zimmerwald Right, in a number of important countries, in France, Germany and Italy, slid wholly and entirely into the very social-pacifism Kienthal bad condemned and reject ed! In Italy, the Socialist Party has tacitly accepted the pacifist phrases of its parliamentary group and its principal speaker, Turati, though, precisely now, when absolutely the same phrases are being used by Germany and the Entente and by representatives of the bourgeois governments of a number of neutral countries, where the bourgeoisie has accumulated and continues to accumulate enormous war profits—precisely now their titter falsehood has been exposed. In fact, pacifist phrases have proved to be a cover for the new turn in the fight for division of imperialist spoils!

In Germany, Kautsky, the leader of the Zimmerwald Right, issued a similar meaningless and non-committal pacifist manifesto, which merely instils in the workers hope in the bourgeoisie and faith in illusions. Genuine socialists, the genuine internationalists in Germany, the Internationale group and the International Socialists of Germany, who are applying Karl Liebknecht’s tactics in practice, were obliged formally to dissociate themselves from this manifesto.

In France, Merrheim and Bourderon, who took part in the Zimmerwald Conference, and Raffin-Dugens, who took part in the Kienthal Conference, have voted for meaningless and, objectively, thoroughly false pacifist resolutions, which, in the present state of affairs, are so much to the advantage of the imperialist bourgeoisie that even Jouhaux and Renaudel, denounced as betrayers of socialism in all the Zimmerwald and Kienthal declarations, voted for them!

That Merrheim voted with Jouhaux and Bourderon and Raffin-Dugens with Renaudel is no accident, no isolated episode. It is a striking symbol of the imminent merger everywhere of the social-patriots and social-pacifists against the international socialists.

The pacifist phrases in the notes of a long list of imperialist governments, the same pacifist phrases uttered by Kautsky, Turati, Bourderon and Merrheim—Renaudel extending a friendly hand to the one and the other—all this exposes pacifism in actual politics as a means of placating the people, as a means of helping the governments to condition the masses to continuation of the imperialist slaughter!

This complete bankruptcy of the Zimmerwald flight has been still more strikingly revealed in Switzerland, the only European country where the Zimmerwaldists could meet freely, and which served as their base. The Socialist Party of Switzerland, which has held its congresses during the war without interference from the government and is in a better position than any other party to promote international solidarity between the German, French and Italian workers against the war, has officially affiliated to Zimmerwald.

And yet, on a decisive question affecting a proletarian party, one of this party’s leaders, the chairman of the Zimmerwald and Kienthal conferences, a prominent member and representative of the Berne International Socialist Commit tee, National Councillor R. Grimm, deserted to the social-patriots of his country. At the meeting of the Parteivorstand[1] of the Socialist Party of Switzerland on January 7, 1917, he secured the adoption of a decision to postpone indefinitely the party congress, which was to be convened for the express purpose of deciding the fatherland defence issue and the party’s attitude towards the Kienthal Conference decisions condemning social-pacifism.

In a manifesto signed by the International Socialist Committee and dated December 1916, Grimm describes as hypocritical the pacifist phrases of the governments, but says not a word about the socialist pacifism that unites Merrheim and Jouhaux, Raffin-Dugens and Renaudel. In this manifesto Grimm urges the socialist minorities to fight the governments and their social-patriot hirelings, but at the same time, jointly with the “social-patriot hirelings” in the Swiss party, he endeavours to bury the party congress, thus rousing the just indignation of all the class-conscious and sincerely internationalist Swiss workers.

No excuses can conceal the fact that the Parteivorstand decision of January 7, 1917 signifies the complete victory of the Swiss social-patriots over the Swiss socialist workers, the victory of the Swiss opponents of Zimmerwald over Zimmerwald.

The Grütlianer, that organ of the consistent and avowed servants of the bourgeoisie in the labour movement, said what everyone knows is true when it declared that social-patriots of the Greulich and Pflüger type, to whom should be added Seidel, Huber, Lang, Schneeberger, Dürr, etc., want to prevent the congress from being held, want to prevent the workers from deciding the fatherland defence issue, and threaten to resign if the congress is held and a decision in the spirit of Zimmerwald is adopted.

Grimm resorted to an outrageous and intolerable false hood at the Parteivorstand and in his newspaper, the Berner Tagwacht, of January 8, 1917, when he claimed that the congress bad to he postponed because the workers were not ready, that it was necessary to campaign against the high cost of living, that the “Left” were themselves in favour of postponement, etc.[2]

In reality, it was the Left, i.e., the sincere Zimmerwaldists, who, anxious to choose the lesser of two evils and also to expose the real intentions of the social-patriots and their new friend, Grimm, proposed postponing the congress until March, voted to postpone it until May, and suggested that the meetings of the cantonal committees be held before July; but all these proposals were voted down by the “fatherland defenders”, led by the chairman of the Zimmerwald arid Kienthal conferences, Robert Grimm!!

In reality, the question was: shall the Berne International Socialist Committee and Grimm’s paper he allowed to hurl abuse at foreign social-patriots and, at first by their silence and then by Grimm’s desertion, shield the Swiss Social patriots; or shall an honest internationalist policy be pursued, a policy of fighting primarily the social-patriots at home?

In reality, the question was: shall the domination of the social-patriots and reformists in the Swiss party he concealed by revolutionary phrases; or shall we oppose to them a revolutionary programme and tactics on the question of combating the high cost of living, as well as of combating the war, of putting on the order of the day the fight for the socialist revolution?

In reality, the question was: shall the worst traditions of the ignominiously bankrupt Second International be continued in Zimmerwald; shall the workers be kept ignorant of the things the party leaders do and say at the Parteivorstand; shall revolutionary phrases be allowed to cover up the vileness of social-patriotism and reformism, or shall we be internationalists in deeds?

In reality, the question was: shall we in Switzerland too, where the party is of primary importance for the whole of the Zimmerwald group, insist upon a clear, principled and politically honest division between the social-patriots and the internationalists, between the bourgeois reformists and the revolutionaries; between the counsellors of the proletariat, who are helping it carry out the socialist revolution, and the bourgeois agents or “hirelings”, who want to divert the workers from revolution by means of reforms or promises of reforms: between the Grütlians and the Socialist Party—or shall we confuse and corrupt the minds of the workers by conducting in the Socialist Party the “Grütlian” policy of the Grütlians, i.e., the social-patriots in the ranks of the Socialist Party?

Let the Swiss social-patriots, those “Grütlians” who want to operate their Grütlian policy, i.e., the policy of their national bourgeoisie, abuse the foreigners, let them defend the “inviolability” of the Swiss party from criticism by other parties, let them champion the old bourgeois-reformist policy, i.e., the very policy that brought on the collapse of the German and other parties on August 4, 1914—we, who adhere to Zimmerwald in deeds and not merely in words, interpret internationalism differently.

We are not prepared passively to regard the efforts, now definitely revealed, and sanctified by the chairman of the Zimmerwald and Kienthal conferences, to leave everything unchanged in decaying European socialism and, by means of hypocritical professions of solidarity with Karl Liebknecht, to bypass the real slogan of this leader of the international workers, his appeal to work for the “regeneration” of the old parties from “top to bottom”. We are convinced that on our side are all the class-conscious workers in all countries, who enthusiastically greeted Karl Liebknecht and his tactics.

We openly expose the Zimmerwald Right, which has deserted to bourgeois-reformist pacifism.

We openly expose Grimm’s betrayal of Zimmerwald and demand convocation of a conference to remove him from his post on the International Socialist Committee.

The word Zimmerwald is the slogan of international socialism and revolutionary struggle. This word must not serve to shield social-patriotism and bourgeois reformism.

Stand for true internationalism, which calls for the struggle, first of all, against the social-patriots in your own country! Stand for true revolutionary tactics, which are impossible if there is a compromise with the social-patriots against the revolutionary socialist workers!

[1] Executive.—Ed.

[2] The allusion, apparently, is to the editorial “Parteibeschlüsse” (“Party Decisions”) in the Berner Tagwacht of January 8, 1917 (No. 6).

From The James P. Cannon Internet Archives-"How To Organize A (Marxist) Study Class"

Markin comment:

Every once in a while it is beneficial to go back to the archives to see what our political forebears were up to. And since we are very much in a period where the study of Marxist classics, and socialist concepts in general, is on the order of the day Cannon, a central leader in almost all of the left-wing political organizations of the first three-fourths of the 20th century, has something to tell us about how to organize those inquiries.
How to Organise and
Conduct a Study Class

Written: December 13, 1924
Source: Fighting for Socialism in the “American Century” (c) Resistance Books 2001. Resistance Books 2001 ISBN 1876646217; Published by Resistance Books 23 Abercrombie St, Chippendale NSW 2008, Permission for on-line publication provided by Resistance Books for use by the James P. Cannon Internet Archive in 2003.
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters

The following article was first published in the Daily Worker magazine supplement, December 13, 1924. At the time, Cannon was the educational director of the Workers Party.

The problem of educational work is many-sided. Enthusiasm for this work among the party members must be aroused and maintained. A general recognition of its fundamental importance must be established. It must be organically connected with the life and struggles of the party, and must not become academic and sterile. And it must be conducted in a systematic manner, becoming an established part of the life of the party throughout the year. This last will not just “happen”. It will take much work and the introduction of correct organisational and technical principles. All our theories will come to nothing if our educational apparatus does not function properly.

Many classes have landed on the rocks because they were not conducted properly. One of the most frequent inquiries we have received from comrades who are undertaking party educational work is: “What is the best way to conduct a study class?” It is the purpose of this article to give an answer to this question based on the collective experience in the field of educational work from which a few general principles can be extracted.

Let us begin at the beginning and proceed step by step. When the responsible party committee in the given localities has decided to establish a class, let us say, for example, in the “ABC of Communism”, the next move must be to appoint a leader for the class. This leader must understand that the class will not move of itself, but must be organised and directed from beginning to end, otherwise it will fall to pieces. The comrade in charge of the class must then proceed to enrol students, having them register for the class and making sure he has a sufficient number who agree in advance to attend the classes before he sets the time for calling it. As soon as a sufficient number of students have been enrolled, a date is set for the first class and all the students are notified.

At this point we should speak a word about the danger of haphazardness in the attendance at the classes on the part of any of the students. The party committee must decide that the attendance at class once a week, or more frequently, as the case may be, is a part of the member’s party duty and should excuse him from party obligations for those nights. The systematic and regular attendance at class by all students must be constantly stressed, and the party committee and the leader of the class must constantly fight against the tendency, which always grows up, to regard the study class as a series of lectures at which one can “drop in” whenever he feels like it. Good results can only be obtained when the class is an organised body and is regularly attended by the same students.

Methods of conducting classes

The methods of conducting the classes which have proved most successful from past experience can be roughly divided into two general methods. These methods may be modified and varied in many ways, according to local circumstances, experience and qualifications of the teacher, etc.

These two methods are:

1. The lecture-question method.

2. The method of reading from and discussing the text in the class.

The lecture-question method. This is the method most frequently employed by experienced teachers, and one which yields the most satisfactory results if qualified comrades can be found to conduct the class along this line. The use of this method presupposes that the teacher, who is himself thoroughly familiar with the subject matter of the text, possesses some ability and experience as a lecturer. It is not necessary, however, for him to be a professional. The average communist who has a firm grasp of his subject will find that with a little practice he can succeed in holding the attention of a class.

Under this method the teacher delivers a lecture for the period of about one hour on some phase of the general subject, dealt with in the text. In addition he requires the students to read, outside the class, in connection with his lecture, certain portions of the text and sometimes portions of other books which deal with the same subject. When the class comes together for the second time it is opened with a question period of about thirty minutes during which the lecturer quizzes the students on the subject matter of the previous week’s lecture and the reading in connection with it. It is best to have a short recess at the end of the question period in order to get a fresh start for the lecture. A lecture of about an hour then completes the evening’s work. Again the students are referred to sections of the text for reading in connection with the lecture. The same procedure is then followed at each successive meeting of the class until the end of the course.

When this method is employed it is not advisable to have indiscriminate discussion in the class, as this will almost invariably divert the attention of the class from the immediate subject at hand and destroy the possibility of consecutive instruction. For a teacher to conduct a class according to this method he must take it firmly in hand, establish his authority at the very beginning, and maintain it throughout the course. Nothing is more fatal to the success of such a class than for the opinion to grow up amongst some of the students that the teacher knows less then they do about the subject. For he will then be unable to maintain the proper discipline in the class and hold it to its course. Whenever a study class, organised for the purpose of consecutive study of a certain aspect of communist theory or tactics, begins to resolve itself into a group for general discussion or a debating society, its early demise can be confidently expected.

Reading and discussing the text. This method also works out very well, especially in elementary classes. In this method, as in all others, however, the first prerequisite is a class leader who takes a responsible attitude towards the work and who takes it upon himself to organise and lead the class and hold it down to the matter in hand. This class leader should by all means thoroughly study the text before the class commences and make himself master of it.

The class conducted according to this method proceeds by the class leader calling upon the students, one after another, to read a few sentences or a paragraph from the text. After each student finishes reading the part assigned to him, the leader asks the student who has read the passage to explain it in his own words. If he fails to bring out the meaning clearly or interprets the passage incorrectly, the question is directed to other students, the leader himself finally intervening to clarify the matter if necessary.

Proceeding along this line the class will cover a chapter or so of the text each evening. Before the reading commences each time, the leader should conduct a brief quiz of the class on the part of the text dealt with on the preceding evening in order to bring out the points clearly for the second time, refresh the memory of the students, and connect the preceding class with the one about to begin.

In the course of a few months, proceeding along this line, the class will get through the “ABC of Communism” and will have acquired a grasp of the fundamental theories of the movement. Moreover, if the class has been conducted successfully, if it has had the good fortune to have a leader that can inspire confidence and enthusiasm and who can hold it together as an organised body in spite of all difficulties, the students of the class, or at least a large part of them, will emerge from their first course of training with a strong will and spirit to acquire more knowledge and thereby equip themselves better to become worthy fighters in the cause of communism.

The success of the study class work is to a very large extent dependent upon organisation, leadership and class discipline. It should start on time and stop on time each evening. It must not accommodate itself to casual students or chronic latecomers. It should not degenerate into a mere discussion group over the general problems of the movement but must confine itself in a disciplined manner to the specific subjects dealt with in the course. It should be conducted in a businesslike fashion from start to finish, students being enrolled and the roll called each evening. Above all it should have a leader who, notwithstanding lack of previous experience, will take his task so seriously as to thoroughly master the subject himself. Then he will be able to establish sufficient authority in the class to lead it step by step to the end of the course.

Friday, May 20, 2011

From The International Communist League's Marxist Bulletin Series-War, Revolution and the Split in the Second International:The Birth of the Comintern (1919)

War, Revolution and the Split in the Second International:
The Birth of the Comintern (1919)

by George Foster New York, 14 June 1998

This class series will attempt to take to heart comrade Lenin's injunction in "Left-Wing" Communism: rather than simply hailing soviet power and the October Revolution, the real point is to study the experience of the Bolshevik Party in order to assimilate the lessons and international significance of October. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci observed that our capacity to understand the world— and he was referring to class society in particular—is in direct proportion to our ability to intervene in it. And as comrade Robertson recently observed, the lessons of the October Revolution and the Communist International have for us Marxists a very deep validity. They mark the high point of the workers movement, to be contrasted with the current valley in which we today find ourselves situated. This class will consider the First Congress of the Third International which took place in March 1919, in the midst of a civil war in which the October Revolution was fighting for its very life.

The story of the First Congress is mainly the story of the struggle to forge a new revolutionary international following the ignominious collapse of the socialist Second International on 4 August of 1914. It is above all the story of the struggle by Lenin's Bolsheviks to turn the battle against the first imperialist war into a civil war to abolish the capitalist system.

Younger comrades in particular have real difficulty grasping the enormous and traumatic impact of World War I on the bourgeois societies of the time and on the proletariat. From the end of the Franco-Prussian war [1870-1871] until the onset of the first imperialist war, a period of some 43 years elapsed in Europe without a major war. Most of the imperialist combatants who embarked on the First World War assumed it would be very short. The British bourgeoisie in particular was hoping that its rivals on the continent would mutually exhaust each other in a bout of bloodletting and, indeed, looked forward to the war. But it didn't turn out to be a short war.

The war dragged on for over four years. Millions upon millions of proletarians were slaughtered in a war to re-divide the world amongst the various contending imperialists, a war to see who would get how much loot and how much booty. To quote General Sherman: "war is hell." But, if war is
hell, World War I stood out in its grotesque brutality. WWI was fought mainly as a war of attrition, of trench warfare, of bankrupt strategies reflecting the complete bankruptcy of bourgeois society. It was a war in which the proletariat and even the scions of the bourgeoisie were cut down and slaughtered in enormous numbers. For example, the Prussian Junker class was, at the end of the war, a shadow of its former self. Likewise the war decimated the sons of the British ruling class.

To give you an example of the brutality of the situation, in 1916 there was a small salient of the German line projecting into the Entente lines in Belgium at a village called Ypres. The British general in the sector, Sir Douglas Haig, decided to straighten out this little pocket disturbing the geometrical regularity of his front. Over the space of three or four days he lost something like 600,000 men in this endeavor, which did not in any way alter the sanguinary stalemate.

At the beginning of the war there was only one significant republic in continental Europe and that was France. By the end of this war, the face of Europe had changed. Three empires—tsarist Russia, the Hapsburgs of Austria-Hungary and the Hohenzollern empire of Germany—disappeared from the political map to be replaced by various republics. So it was a very big change. I highly recommend to comrades two books. One is Carl Schorske's book, German Social Democracy, 1905-1917, and the other is a book by Richard Watt, a British chemist who wrote history in his spare time, called The Kings Depart.

The ignominious capitulation of the Second International to the imperialist bourgeoisie during the first imperialist war marks the point at which the struggle for the Third International began and it was a struggle from the onset taken up by the Bolsheviks. To understand the Third International and Bolshevism, which went through its final forging in its revolutionary struggle against the first imperial¬ist war, some remarks are in order about the Third International's predecessor, the Second International, about its origins and history and its collapse.

Going back over that history one is struck by an observation made by Jim Cannon about the early, pre-communist socialist movement in the U.S. In The First Ten Years of American Communism, Cannon observed that it took the Bolsheviks and the Communist International to clarify and settle a whole series of political and organizational questions that had bedeviled the movement—questions ranging from the counterposition between direct trade-union action versus parliamentarism to, in the case of the U.S., the black question. In a very real sense, Cannon's observation concerning the American socialists is more generally applicable to the Second International as a whole. That is, if you go back and you examine the history of the Second International, one gets a sense of participants who, in some sense, were sleepwalking.

It took the experience of the Bolsheviks, who had to deal with a wide spectrum of issues and conditions of work (such as the national question, trade-union struggle, legality versus illegality, work in parliament, Soviets, the 1905 mass strikes culminating in the Moscow insurrection), to really forge a new type of party that in its experiences had learned lessons that were valid for the entire workers movement in the imperialist epoch. And Bolshevism, it should be understood, was not born all at once but started as another party in the Second International and, indeed, a party which modeled itself after the preeminent party of the Second International, that is to say the German SPD.

Lenin makes the point that the Second International and the parties which constituted it were very much products of the pre-imperialist epoch, a period of protracted, organic capitalist growth and, as indicated, of peace among the major European powers. If the First International laid the foundation for an international organization of workers, for the preparation of the revolutionary attack on capital, the Second International was an organization, as Lenin remarked, whose growth proceeded in breadth at the cost of a temporary drop in revolutionary consciousness and a strengthening of opportunism in the party.

The SPD and Parliamentarism

The German Social Democracy itself underwent considerable change over these years. In February of 1881, in the period when the Social Democrats in Germany were outlawed by the Anti-Socialist Laws, Karl Kautsky wrote:
"The Social Democratic workers' party has always emphasized that it is a revolutionary party in a sense that it recognizes that it is impossible to resolve the social questions within the existing society.... Even today, we would prefer, if it were possible, to realize the social revolution through the peaceful road.... But if we still harbour this hope today, we have nonetheless ceased to emphasize it, for every one of us knows that it is a Utopia. The most perceptive of our comrades have never believed in the possibility of a peaceful revolution; they have teamed from history that violence is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.... Today we all know that the popular socialist state can be erected only through a violent overthrow and that it is our duty to uphold consciousness of this among ever broader layers of the people." —quoted in Massimo Salvador!, Karl Kautsky and
the Socialist Revolution 1880-1938, p. 20 (Verso,

This was the young Karl Kautsky, at the beginning of his career as a Marxist. And by the way, both Kautsky and Bernstein, who were in a real sense the legates of Marx and Engels, were won to Marxism through Engels' work Anti-Duhring. It was the work which actually won key cadre of the Social Democracy to Marxism. Kautsky was to go on to become the editor of Die Neue Zeit, which was the theoretical paper of Social Democracy (and parenthetically, I would point out, he edited it longer than Norden edited WV) and became the preeminent German propagandist for Marxism for the whole period. In fact, he was known as the pope of Marxism and for a long time he was looked up to by Lenin and others as the embodiment of orthodox Marxism. Yet running through the orthodox Marxism of Kautsky was a strong parliamentarist thread which grew organically out of the conditions that the German party experienced.

As a consequence of the German Anti-Socialist Laws the SPD was outlawed from 1874 to 1886. Despite its illegality during this period, the Social Democracy managed to get about 9.1 percent of the votes in parliament. With the lifting of the Anti-Socialist Laws and the legalization of the party, the party began to grow. Notwithstanding some fits and starts the party began to experience a steady accretion of electoral support, both percentage-wise and in absolute numbers. This led the SPDers to think that German Social Democracy would simply grow organically. Some older comrades may remember that many years ago a comrade plotted three or four years of our growth and from that graph projected that by now we would probably have a billion members. Empirical reality rapidly shattered her illusion, but in the case of the SPD in that period, experience tended to confirm a steady pattern of growth.

A few scant years after the end of the Anti-Socialist Laws, Kautsky was putting forward a very different line from that of 1881. Very much influenced by Darwin and German biologists such as Haeckel, he postulated that socialism would be the natural evolutionary outcome of capitalism—that the working class would grow to be a larger and larger proportion of the populace, that through the votes of these workers, SPD representation would ineluctably grow in parliament and that inevitably Social Democracy would triumph. Kautsky, along with Bernstein, penned the Erfurt Program, a program that all comrades should take the time to read. It is the classic example of the minimum-maximum program of Social Democracy.

The Erfurt Program is also noteworthy for what it does not contain—it consciously avoided the whole issue of the state. Kautsky wrote the theoretical part of Erfurt and Bernstein the practical. By the way, in 1899, Lenin described the Erfurt Program as a Marxist document. But later, reconsidering it in The State and Revolution, and based on his experiences in the intervening period, he came to view it very differently.
Kautsky wrote a commentary on the Erfurt Program and in it he developed his central themes. One of them was the indispensability of parliament as an instrument of government in great states—for all classes—and, therefore, for the proletariat as well as the bourgeoisie and, secondly, for the need to win a majority of parliament, treating elections as the fundamental, strategic avenue to power for the labor movement.

Kautsky posed an indissoluble link between the conquest of state power and the conquest of a majority in parliament, between the defense of the technical importance of parliament and the impossibility of a Paris Commune-type state. He thought that the Social Democracy, its political and social struggles and use of parliamentary legislation for socialist purposes, constituted the very content of the dictatorship of the proletariat. As early as 1892 Kautsky writes:

"In a great modern state, [the proletariat, like the bourgeoisie, can] acquire influence in the administration of the state only through the vehicle of an elected parliament. Direct legislation, at least in a great modern state, cannot render parliament superfluous, [but can only represent a ramification of the administration. Hence the general thesis:] it is absolutely impossible to entrust the entire legislation of the state to it [direct legislation], and it is equally impossible to control or direct the state administration through it. So long as the great modern state exists..."

And notice there is no class character to this state:

"...the central point of political activity will always remain in its parliament. [Now:] the most consistent expression of parliament is the parliamentary republic."
—quoted in Massimo Salvador], ibid, pp. 35-36

And, therefore, the conquest of parliament was indispensable for Social Democracy. This was to be a signpost of German Social Democracy thenceforth, through the whole period up to the first imperialist war.
Now Wilhelm Liebknecht aptly termed the Kaiserine parliament a "fig leaf for absolutism." Germany at this time presented a strange combination of parliamentarism, with rather nominal powers, fronting for absolutist despotism ruling on behalf of German capital. This was reflected in the laws regarding suffrage. On a national level there was direct male suffrage. On the provincial level suffrage rights varied a lot, ranging from places like Prussia, which had a notorious three-class franchise system based on how much direct tax you paid, to some of the southern German states, which eventually had more or less direct suffrage, but were very short on proletarians and had large peasant populations.

It was clear that the German Social Democracy would have to contend on a parliamentary level if it were to be a political party in Germany, and it did so. During the years of the Anti-Socialist Laws, because the parliamentary fraction was granted immunity, it was relatively untouchable, and played a key role in leading the party. This early experience later played its part in reinforcing a tendency to fetishize parliament despite the fact that the Reichstag was impotent and could not compel the imperial government to answer to it. And on the provincial level it was downright bizarre to have parliamentary illusions, for example, if you look at the restricted suffrage in Prussia.

In the Prussian elections in 1913, the SPD got over 775,000 votes, some 28.3 percent of the total. But it only won ten seats in the Prussian parliament. In contrast the Deutsche Volkspartei, which received 6.7 percent of the votes, won 38 seats. The Free Conservative Party, with 2 percent, won 54 seats. The National Liberal Party, with 13 percent, won 73 seats. The Catholic Center Party, with 16 percent, won 103 seats and the German Conservative Party, with 14 percent, won 147 seats. How is this possible? The people who paid the top third in income tax got a third of the seats, etc. That was about 2 or 3 percent of the population. So, there is a certain level at which one's credulity is strained at the evident latching on very early to parliamentary cretinism.

The SPD and the State

Secondly, the SPD was clearly awed by the power of the German state and army. One gets the impression that the experience of the Anti-Socialist Laws resulted in an attitude of "Never again!" The party lived in real fear that it could be outlawed by a stroke of the Kaiser's pen. As the party accrued influence and organizational mass there was a corresponding reluctance to risk this organic growth by displeasing the powers that be. This sentiment went hand-in-hand with the conception of the SPD as the party of the whole class.

When, in 1875, the Marxian wing fused with the Lassalleans, the fusion was codified in the Gotha Program (basically a Lassallean program). When Marx penned his Critique of the Gotha Programmed, that critique was suppressed in Germany. It was suppressed by Rebel, Kautsky and Bernstein, because they were afraid it would provoke a split with the Lassalleans.
Likewise, when the Erfurt Program was penned, Engels wrote a very sharp criticism of it; you can read about it in The State and Revolution. Engels thought it was a very fine program, but the failure of the program to address the key issue of state power fundamentally compromised it. Engels opined that while it might be difficult to raise the demand for a democratic republic, that failure opened the door to politically disarming the party when it had to confront big revolutionary events. Engels' criticisms were suppressed to maintain unity with the opportunists and out of fear that their publication might expose the party to reprisals from the Kaiser's government.

During the life of the Second International, which was founded in Paris on the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, 14 July 1889, the German Social Democrats were very hesitant to call any sort of May Day actions because they feared a strike in Germany on May Day would bring the government down on them. So, there was a very peculiar development of a sense of German exceptionalism, a feeling that things were going along swimmingly, the SPD was gaining in parliament, the organization was burgeoning. The mindset was that the party must at all costs avoid a premature confrontation with the bourgeoisie that could spell disaster. Tactical prudence was beginning to evolve into reformist adaptation.
Kautsky and others of the German Social Democrats were always concerned about a general strike because they thought it would be a one-shot proposition in the Kaiser's Germany. It would immediately lead to total confrontation with the bourgeoisie and either the proletariat would triumph or it would be smashed. And, since inevitably the SPD was gaining influence in parliament and expanding its press, trade-union organizations, and sporting groups and hundreds of other associations were growing, why wreck the inevitable march of progress toward socialism?

I have spent some time on the SPD's reformist adaptations because I would like to contrast it with the experience of the Bolsheviks. The Bolshevik experience was needless to say very different.

It's an old saw that "you learn something new every day." But sometimes what you learn is important. Gary Steenson in his book "Not One Man! Not One Penny!" German Social Democracy, 1863-1914 [University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981] reveals a little-known fact:

"One very unusual aspect of the socialist congresses in Germany was the presence at most of them of police officials. These men had the right to interrupt speakers who ventured into forbidden territory, and they could even cancel a session altogether if the discussion got too extreme. But the congressional participants themselves usually knew the allowable limits, and after the end of the antisocialist law, the police officials did not often intervene. Their presence was, nonetheless, a source of embarrassment for the SPD and should have been for the authorities also."
-p. 125

This submission to cop censorship is absolutely breathtaking, and accommodation to it reveals the deep reformist rot that infected the SPD. It should be contrasted with the comportment of the Bolsheviks who took their responsibility to revolutionary Marxism seriously. Commenting on what can be said and what must be said, in 1917 Lenin wrote:

"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 managed to speak the truth, for example, by their silence on the Manifesto of February 19, 1861, and their ridicule and castigation of the liberals, who made exactly the same kind of speeches as Turati and Kautsky." -Lenin, Collected Works [hereafter CW\ Vol. 23, p. 186

Clearly the SPD's many-years-long accommodation to police censorship played a significant role in its slide into social chauvinism when confronted by the revolutionary tasks imposed by the imperialist war.
The SPD's accommodation to bourgeois legality is all the more surprising given the very real repression the party experienced, particularly in its formative years. Liebknecht and Bebel, for example, opposed the Franco-Prussian war. For their efforts, they were thrown into prison for a couple of years. The party did face a situation of near illegality, even following the lifting of the Anti-Socialist Laws. Many, many people were arrested for crimes of lese majeste. SPDers were elected to parliament and when they got to Berlin found out their landlady had been told by the government not to rent them a place. Socialists were exiled, under old laws going back to 1850, to tiny provincial towns.

Kautsky summed up in 1888 what we have come to know as the social-democratic worldview when he wrote in A Social Democratic Catechism: "The Social Democracy is a revolutionary party, but it is not a party that makes revolutions...." The SPD's policy was one of revolutionary passivity, of waiting. Kautsky maintained that Social Democrats are not pacifists. The SPD would eventually prevail in parliament and if the bourgeoisie offers resist¬ance the Social Democratic workers would suppress them. But the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat was for Kautsky really a question for future generations

The rise of imperialism and the rise of opportunism go hand in hand. Early on, in the heavily peasant areas of south Germany, where the Social Democracy was weaker and where there were fewer proletarians, SPD representatives began to openly adapt to alien class pressures. These pressures reflected themselves nationally when, in 1895, Bebel and Liebknecht, over the vociferous objections of Kautsky, revised the Erfurt Program to "include a demand for democratization of all public institutions, to improve the situation in industry, agriculture and transport within the framework of the present social and state order."
Bernstein, who had lived for 20 years in exile in Britain, while there began to develop fundamental doubts on the possibility or necessity of proletarian revolution, doubts which he later systematized into a general revisionist assault on Marxism. Kautsky, since Bernstein was his good friend, temporized on launching a struggle against this revisionism.

However, eventually the battle was joined, with Kautsky, Luxemburg and Plekhanov weighing in very heavily against Bernstein (who was not handled in the party with kid gloves). Nonetheless, Bernstein and Kautsky both feared a split in the party. Kautsky hoped to ideologically defeat revisionism without a split, arguing that revisionism could be isolated and would cease to be dangerous. This generally was the approach of the Second International in the whole period leading up to the war.
I should mention, by the way, that Kautsky's deep but latent reformist streak found expression in the Second Congress of the Second International in Paris in 1890 when the issue of Millerandism came up. The French socialist politician Millerand had recently accepted a cabinet post in a bourgeois government. Kautsky led the charge against Millerand stating that it was absolutely impermissible to be a minister in a bourgeois government...except under "special circumstances." And the special circumstances were, for example, in the event of a war, where, say, the tsar invaded Germany. Only then, according to Kautsky, would a Social Democrat be compelled to join a government of the enemy class; only unity in defense of the nation made permissible that which in times of peace was impermissible!

Impact of the 1905 Russian Revolution

The 1905 Russian Revolution had an enormous impact on Germany, the class struggle in Germany, on the Social Democracy and on the trade unions. On the left of the party, Rosa Luxemburg saw 1905 through the lens of her experiences in Warsaw, where she went to participate in the revolution. For Luxemburg, the main lesson of the revolution was the efficacy of the mass strike as the road to revolution. She saw the mass strike as the chief instrument for realizing the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. Through intervention in these struggles the socialists would win authority and lead the workers to victory. The assault on the capitalist power would not be through parliament, but through a series of convulsive strikes that would clean the party of revisionism and lead to the fall of capital. But while Luxemburg invested the mass strike and spontaneous action by the proletariat with great revolutionary import, she failed to grasp the significance of the Soviets and as well of the real rehearsal for October, the culmination of 1905, which was the Moscow insurrection.

Germany in 1905 experienced massive turmoil. There were thousands and thousands of strikes. There were numerous lockouts by employers. There were militant workers' demonstrations and street fighting between the workers and the police.

Under the impact of both Luxemburg and the events in 1905 in Germany and Russia, Kautsky was driven to the left. He certainly was among the most perceptive of the commentators on what was going on in 1905 in Russia from the outside. Both Lenin and Trotsky claimed Kautsky's analysis supported their views. Kautsky did, indeed, refer to what was going on in Russia as permanent revolution and stated that the unfolding of the revolutionary struggles in Russia turned out to be very different from what he had previously thought. Thus he wrote:

"The [Russian] liberals, can scream all they want about the need for a strong government and regard the growing chaos in Russia with anguished concern; but the revolutionary proletariat has every reason to greet it with the most fervent hopes. This 'chaos' is nothing other than permanent revolution. In the present circumstances it is under revolutionary conditions that the proletariat completes its own maturation most rapidly, develops its intellectual, moral, and economic strength most completely, imprints its own stamp on state and society most profoundly, and obtains the greatest concessions from them. Even though this dominance of the proletariat can only be transitory in a country as economically backward as Russia, it leaves effects that cannot be reversed, and the greater the dominance, the longer they will last.... Permanent revolution is thus exactly what the proletariat in Russia needs."
—quoted in Massimo Salvadori, op. cit., p. 102

Here he is speaking of permanent revolution in the sense of Marx's "Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League."
In January of 1906, Kautsky, basing himself on the experience of the Moscow insurrection, declared that it was now necessary to re-examine Engels' famous preface to Marx's Class Struggle in France, the text of which the German Social Democracy had so often used to justify its own legalism. The reformists had fixated on an observation by Engels that the epoch of barricades and street fighting was definitely over. But Kautsky said that the battle of Moscow, where a small group of insurgents managed to hold out for two weeks against superior forces, indicated that victorious armed struggle by the insurgents was possible because of the mass strike wave, of which he said too little was known in Engels' time. It was precisely the strike wave and struggles around it that had undermined the discipline of the army and those lessons were applicable, not only in Russia, but possibly throughout Europe.

Thus Kautsky swung quite far to the left. But he was still very nervous about a mass strike in Germany, which he thought could only be a one-shot affair—all or nothing. For its part, the German ruling class was also drawing its own class lessons from the events in Russia. The Kaiser thought that it might well be necessary to send an expeditionary force into Russia to rescue his fellow monarch, the tsar, and, as a corollary to that, the Kaiser certainly was planning to suppress the German Social Democracy.

The turmoil surrounding 1905 frightened many of Germany's SPD trade-union leaders. In the main they had a very clear position: "No mass strikes! Nothing out of the ordinary!" These bureaucrats feared that the street demonstrations and turmoil were pulling in unorganized workers who had low consciousness and would threaten the organized and above all orderly German trade-union movement. In May of 1905 in Cologne, the trade unions came out on record against the mass strike.

The stage was thus set for an open division between the party and its affiliated trade unions. At the Jena Congress, the party, under the impact of what was going on in Russia, adopted the mass strike as a political weapon in defense of suffrage rights and the right of association in particular. The mass strike was presented as a means of extending suffrage in places like Prussia and of defending the right of a Social Democratic party to exist and organize in the trade unions. This mass strike resolution carried overwhelmingly, by 287 to 14 votes.

One of those voting against the resolution was a man named Carl Legien who just happened to be the leader of the SPD's trade-union federation. He importuned the party leadership and on 16 February 1906, at a secret meeting of the party and trade unions, the party capitulated to the trade unions.

Basically, the trade unions said to the party: if there are to be mass strikes and the party can't prevent them, it is the party and not the trade unions who should lead them. The trade unions promised to sup¬
port the party to the extent they could, but the party was to bear the brunt not only of the responsibility for leading mass strikes, but also of paying for them.

The very next year in September of 1906, Bebel at the Mannheim Congress declared that without the support of the unions, mass strikes are unthinkable and Legien said "Ja! They are unthinkable!"

At Mannheim the party endorsed the deal cooked up at the earlier secret conference. Bebel, who wielded immense authority in the German movement, pushed the proposal through by a vote of 386 to 5. Among those voting for it were Kitschy, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

Following the events of 1905 there was a rise in German imperial ambitions. The German bourgeoisie reacted to 1905 with a great wave of chauvinist propaganda and in the 1907 elections the German Social Democracy got a really cold, wet rag smacked in its face. These were the so-called Hottentots elections and they were the first elections in which imperialist patriotism played a big role. In 1907, many of the petty bourgeois who had previously voted for the Social Democrats, didn't.

The percentage of the SPD votes didn't drop-very much in absolute numbers. It went from 31.7 to 29, but the number of SPD representatives in the Reichstag dropped from 81 to 43. At the time there were numerous political parties in Germany and thus provisions for runoffs if no party obtained a majority of the vote. The Social Democracy willy-nilly had been counting on a large number of petty-bourgeois votes.

In contesting for election in Germany, routinely the SPD had made blocs with the liberals. Where a Social Democrat didn't get in the runoff, SPDers were told to vote for the bourgeois progressive, and an appeal was made to the progressive voters to vote SPD if a socialist was in a runoff. Of course, Social Democrats, being disciplined, got many progressives elected. But following 1905, the progressives' bourgeois base would have nothing to do with these anti-patriotic reds and this bloc didn't work out so well from that standpoint.

The Social Democracy and Imperialist War

Turmoil growing out of events in Russia and the swell in imperialist and patriotic propaganda really drove the party leadership into frenzy. Thus the stage was set for erosion of the historic position of the SPD encapsulated in the slogan of Wilhelm Liebknecht of "not one man, not one penny."

Bebel started talking about being for national defense if Russia invaded Germany and, believe me, the Russian question was as big a bugaboo in Germany in this period as it was in America in the Cold War period. Bebel made a speech in the Reichstag explaining when he would be a defensist, at the same time sugar-coating it with a denunciation of Prussian discipline, mistreatment of soldiers and financial burdens. He was followed by a SPDer by the name of Noske, who contested the accusation that Social Democracy was anti-national or anti-patriotic. Noske said that there is no accusation more unjustified than the claim that the SPD wanted to undermine the discipline of the army. Where in Germany except in the army is there greater discipline than in the Social Democratic Party and the modern trade unions?

"'As a Social Democrat I agree with the honorable Minister of War when he declares that German soldiers must have the best arms.' Finally, he [Kautsky] proclaimed that the Social Democrats would repel any aggression against their country 'with greater determination' than any bourgeois party, that the SPD wanted Germany to be 'armed as well as possible,' and that 'the entire German people' had an 'interest in the military institutions necessary for the defence' of the 'fatherland'."
The quote is from Massimo Salvadori's Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Revolution, 1880-1938, p. 119 (1938). Salvadori comments: "There could have been no more public funeral for the anti-militarist propaganda preached by [Karl] Liebknecht."

The party had begun to polarize into an incipient center, a left wing and a very insidious right wing. Karl Liebknecht had become the bete noire not only of the right wing but also of some of the center of the party with the publication of his book Militarism and Anti-Militarism, and for his efforts to organize an anti-militarist youth organization. In fact, Liebknecht's book earned him almost two years in prison—apropos the point about the reality of life in the Kaiser's Germany.

By the way, one must say that aside from Die Neue Zeit, which received a lot of criticism because it contained articles having nothing to do with Germany, German Social Democracy was very provincial in its views. It tended to concern itself mainly with domestic issues.

By 1910, the German Social Democracy panicked before the bourgeoisie's patriotic propaganda offensive. Some SPDers began to entertain the proposition that since they had always been for an income tax, the SPD should therefore support the direct tax, even though the purpose of the direct tax was to raise money for the war budget. The party pulled back from that position, but by 1912, when the party was really in a panic about regaining what it had lost in the elections, operationally it had moved very, very far to the right.

When the issue of the direct tax came up again in 1913 the Kautsky center gave critical support to the social-chauvinists on this issue. Rosa Luxemburg said that if Kautsky urged his followers to vote the direct tax, in a year they would be voting war credits. She was absolutely prophetic in that. When war came on 4 August 1914, the German party, which was the biggest party of the international, capitulated and voted war credits, betraying socialism. Nearly all parties of the Second International from the various belligerent countries followed suit with the honorable exceptions of the Russians, the Italians, the Serbs and, ultimately, a few Germans.

The Second International, to which the SPD was affiliated, was not an international in the Leninist sense. The war revealed it to be an international in little but name, more akin to a bunch of socialist pen pals.

That political rot which precipitated out on 4 August 1914 did not fall from the sky but grew, organically if you will, within the SPD. And there were premonitions of the problems which manifested themselves at earlier Second International congresses.

Thus, the Stuttgart Congress of 1907 actually debated whether there could be a socialist colonial policy. There was a commission in which the majority called for exactly that. That proposal by that commission was only narrowly defeated, by a vote of 128 against 108, with 10 abstentions. It was a near thing. Commenting on it, Lenin said that vote had tremendous significance. First, socialist opportunism, which capitulated before bourgeois charm, had unmasked itself plainly, and, secondly, there became manifest a negative feature of the European labor movement, which is capable of causing great harm to the proletariat.

Half of the SPD delegation at Stuttgart was made up of trade unionists and maintained the position of trade-union independence. And, then, of course, the war question also came up. If you read the Stuttgart resolution on the war, and the subsequent ones culminating in the Basel Manifesto, they all speak about how, to combat war amongst the capitalist powers, the proletariat should use whatever means are at its disposal when necessary.

Lenin objected to the slogan of a mass strike against war. How the proletariat is to conduct the struggle against war depends upon the particular conditions it confronts. Answering a war, he says, depends on the character of the crisis which a war provokes—the choice of means of struggle is made on the basis of these conditions. But the Germans really wanted any reference to any strike action against war deleted, because they opposed anything that would commit them, even on paper, to such a course.

Lenin in contrast stressed that the key thing about the resolution on war and peace was that the struggle must consist in substituting not merely peace for war, but socialism for capitalism. "It is not a matter of preventing the outbreak of war, but a matter of utilizing the crisis resulting from the war to hasten the overthrow of the bourgeoisie." And he, Rosa Luxemburg and, I believe, Martov blocked to amend a resolution by Bebel (which was a very orthodox resolution) because it was possible to read the orthodox postulates of Bebel through opportunist glasses. So Lenin and Luxemburg amended the resolution to say that militarism was the chief weapon of class suppression, to say that agitation among the youth was necessary and indicated, and, third, that the task of the Social Democrats was not only struggle against the outbreak of war, or for an early termination of war which had already broken out, but also to utilize the crisis caused by the war to hasten the downfall of the bourgeoisie.
When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, it found Lenin in Galicia. He couldn't believe the SPD had voted for war credits, thinking it must be police propaganda.

After he managed to make his way back to Switzerland, Lenin's course was set. He and his comrades embarked on an implacable struggle for a new revolutionary international to replace the Second International, now fatally compromised by social chauvinism. The central issue was that the world war was an imperialist war, and that the answer to this war was not "peace," or "no annexations," or "the right of self determination of all nations," but, in fact, to turn this imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war against the bourgeoisie, for socialism.
The war disrupted the Second International for a while, but shortly various national parties, each aligned with its own bourgeoisie, held "antiwar" congresses. First the Entente "socialists," then the central powers "socialists" met. This was followed by the Copenhagen Congress of neutral "socialists." The Bolsheviks at first were not inclined to participate in the Copenhagen Congress because of its demands: peace, no annexations, courts of arbitration and disarmament. But on reconsideration, the Bolsheviks attended Copenhagen to raise five points: socialists out of bourgeois cabinets, no vote for war credits, fraternization of troops, for civil war against the imperialist war, and for illegal organizations that organize for revolutionary propaganda and actions among the proletariat in the struggle for the Third International.

Forging the Third International

It was in the struggle against the social chauvinists and centrists that the Bolsheviks finally hammered out the key points of their international and political and organizational program. To do so it was necessary to swim against a raging stream of social chauvinism. Zinoviev says:
"It was in a manifesto on the arrested Bolshevik Duma fraction that we first advanced the slogan of turning the imperialist war into civil war. At that time, in the camp of the Second International, we were regarded literally as lepers. When we stated that this war had to be turned into a civil war, a war against the bourgeoisie, they seriously began to suggest that we were not quite right in the head."

The first international conference that pulled together socialists from various belligerent countries was, in fact, an international women's conference organized in Switzerland by Clara Zetkin. The Bolsheviks intervened and were voted down. That conference was followed by an international youth conference which also voted down the Bolshevik proposals.

It was only at the Zimmerwald Conference that the Bolsheviks were able to come forward as a weak minority—but a minority which was to become the nucleus of a new Communist Third International. At that conference Ledebour (who was one of the German center) confronted Lenin: "Civil war to end the imperialist war? Well, Lenin, go to Russia and try it there. It's pretty easy to say this in Switzerland." In the Second International all these centrists and chauvinist wiseacres proclaimed that all the Russian workers supported the war and that no one supported the Bolsheviks. During the period of 1915-1916 the Bolsheviks remained an insignificant minority. It was only in 1916 that they began to reestablish real and significant links in Russia.

Lenin was absolutely implacable in hammering on the issue of the imperialist nature of the war and the revolutionary task it demanded. His key point was that the greatest danger to the proletariat and to the chance of revolution were the centrists, with their flowery conceits and illusions.

Take Kautsky, for example. Kautsky had not been a member of the German parliamentary fraction, but he was such a doyen of the party that he was invited to the meeting where they voted war credits. Kautsky had planned to suggest abstention, but when it became clear there was going to be no abstention, he said, fine, let's vote for the war credits and state that our condition is no annexations, blah, blah, blah. Well, the German chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg said, that's a good resolution. Let's just take this part out about no annexations. And that was what happened.
Liebknecht originally went along, as a disciplined member of the party, with the vote, but broke immediately thereafter. Once the war began in earnest Kautsky argued it was a war of defense for Germany. In an incredible exercise in muddle-headed obfuscation he argued it was, as well, a war of defense for the French, the Belgians and the British. After all, Social Democrats are not anti-national and can't present themselves to the nation as anti-national. His conclusion—the International is really a peacetime organization! After the war, everyone would get back together! So, to justify his support to voting for war credits, he supported the votes of all Social Democrats for "self-defense."

As the war progressed it became more hideous. And the fighting lasted far longer than anyone had imagined. Social tensions began to rise and the bourgeoisie and the centrists began to get nervous. By 1917 a turn occurred. The war had run its course. Germany had grabbed a fair chunk of territory. None of the combatants had the capacity to squeeze much more blood or sweat out of the proletariat. The Germans were beginning to think they had a chance to split Russia off from Britain and France and do a separate deal.

Kautsky began to worry about the news from the front—that everybody in the trenches supports Liebknecht. Liebknecht had made a famous speech against the war. For his troubles he had been drafted into the army out of parliament and then imprisoned. Luxemburg was arrested soon after Liebknecht. The centrists began to calculate that they were losing their influence. Thus, Kautsky and company began to redouble their offensive for "peace" and broke off from the official Social Democracy to form an independent party.

Lenin's struggle against the war meant not simply struggle against the centrists outside the party, but inside as well. Some Bolsheviks, exemplified by Bukharin's Bogy group, were seduced by the siren peace songs of the centrists. Bukharin and his co-thinkers also had a position against the right of self-determination for nations during the war, because, according to them, the imperialist war had rendered all such questions irrelevant. Lenin characterized this position as a caricature of imperialist economism.

It is very interesting to consider Trotsky's role in the struggle against the social chauvinists. He of course had a solidly internationalist position of opposition to the war. But until quite late in the war Trotsky rather quixotically conciliated various centrists. At times he sought out political blocs with the Mensheviks and for a brief period even hoped to obtain Kautsky's collaboration in the struggle against the war. For these reasons Lenin subjected him to some very harsh criticisms.

Forging the Bolshevik Party

The programmatic intransigence of Lenin laid the foundation for the struggle for October. In this regard let's examine the period of the Bolshevik Party from 1912 to 1914, and contrast it to the evolution of the German Social Democracy. There are three key periods of struggle in the development of Bolshevism: 1895 to 1903 against economism, from 1903 to 1908 against the Mensheviks, and from 1908 to 1914 against the liquidators. The liquidators were the Mensheviks of various stripes and origins who wanted a legal labor party in Russia. Given the conditions in Russia, Lenin made the point that such a party could not be a Marxist revolutionary party.

Certainly Lenin's experience with the German Social Democracy in the Second International in this period was not exactly positive. The SPD-dominated International tried a number of times to foist unity on the Russian Marxists and it was fairly clear from the get-go that Kautsky in particular, like most of the SPD leadership, viewed Lenin as an incurable sectarian enrage.

The Germans were really pro-Martov; they wanted to enforce unity. The last effort at unity was in 1913-14, when the International demanded that all the Russian Marxists get into one room in front of a commission of the International and take steps to unite into one big party. And, by the way, the German Social Democracy also had its fingers on the purse strings of a lot of the money that the Russian Bolsheviks and Mensheviks had.
I really enjoyed reading about this conference. Lenin chose Inessa Armand as the Bolshevik representative. Armand was a very elegant and cosmopolitan woman, who spoke several languages, was intelligent, politically hard, and diplomatic. Following Lenin's instructions she told the conference that the Bolsheviks were in favor of unity, however, that unity had conditions attached to it.

"1. All-party resolutions of December 1908 and January 1910 on liquidationism are confirmed in a very resolute and unreserved manner precisely in their application to liquidationism. It is recognized that anyone who writes (especially in the legal press) against 'commending the illegal press' deserves condemnation and cannot be tolerated in the ranks of the illegal party. Only one who sincerely and with all his strength helps the development of the illegal press, of illegal proclamations and so forth, can become a member of the illegal party."
It goes on:

"3. It is recognized that the entry of any group of the Russian Social Democratic Labor party into a bloc or union with another party is absolutely not permissible and incompatible with party membership." —Ganken and Fisher, The Bolsheviks and the World
War, pp. 120-121 (Stanford University Press,

Bundism is to be condemned; it is incompatible with membership; national and cultural autonomy, this again, contradicts the party program; and the failure to recognize the resolutions of the party on that is incompatible with party membership. When Inessa Armand presented these conditions, her presentation was considered the worst of manners from the standpoint of all these Second International Social Democrats. How could the Bolsheviks act like this?

In fact, the reality on the ground in Russia was that there was one Russian Social Democratic Workers Party that mattered, and it was the illegal party of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. By the time that the international was trying to engineer unity among the Russian factions the Bolsheviks had about 80 percent of the active proletariat, in terms of their support, and correspondingly in press circulation.
The influence of the Bolsheviks amongst the Russian proletariat was initially undercut by the outbreak of the war, and indeed the war sharply undercut a rising tide of worker militancy in a number of countries, including Germany and Britain. One of the subsidiary reasons why the various bourgeoisies were not averse to embarking on imperialist war was that they thought it would quench class struggle at home.

The road of development of Bolshevism spans nearly a decade and a half. The fundamental point of this talk is that the October Revolution would not have been possible without the program and the tactics elaborated by the Bolsheviks in the struggle for the Third International and against imperialist war. For it was on the rock of the war that Menshevism, tying itself to the bourgeoisie, broke its neck. Because of the war, once the revolution broke out in Russia there was no room for a formulation akin to the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry." In fact, the task that had been set in motion by the outbreak of World War I was that of civil war of the proletariat for socialist revolution.

Lenin's key three works of this period, Imperialism, The State and Revolution, and The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, were polemics against the center, internationally, in Social Democracy. In the heat of battle, in Russia and across Europe, when the founding of the Third International took place, it was not easy to get delegates to Moscow, and most of those who turned up were people who either were lucky and made it through or happened to already be there. The delegates to the First Congress were thus necessarily a somewhat eclectic collection of parties and individuals. But it was an historic affirmation of the years of previous struggle and above all of the actual creation of the dictatorship of the proletariat embodied in Soviets. The key resolution at that Congress was, indeed, an upholding of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Kautsky spent the last 20 years of his life as an embittered, anti-Soviet Social Democrat, an apostle of bourgeois democracy, blaming all ills, including German fascism, on Bolshevism. Lenin, for his part, recognized the real issue which the Third International had to turn its attention to and that was the spreading of the October Revolution to other places. I wanted to quote something that he wrote in October of 1918, which I think kind of gives a measure of him as a revolutionist. If you look in the volume that has The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, there is, earlier on, a very short piece by the same name and in it Lenin notes:

"Europe's greatest misfortune and danger is that it has no revolutionary party. It has parties of traitors like -the Scheidemanns, Renaudels, Henderson’s, Webbs and Co., and of servile souls like Kautsky. But it has no revolutionary party.

"Of course* a mighty, popular revolutionary movement may rectify this deficiency, but it is nevertheless a serious misfortune and a grave danger.
"That is why we must do our utmost to expose renegades like Kautsky, thereby supporting the revolutionary groups of genuine internationalist workers, who are to be found in all countries." -CW, Vol. 28, p. 113
It was that task that the founding of the Third International took up.
The German delegation of the newly fledged Communist Party arrived in Moscow with a mandate (adopted before the Spartacus uprising) to oppose the launching of a Third International, because the German Communists could not yet break themselves from the conception of the party of the whole class. They still were mesmerized by the possibility of some sort of unity with various centrists and thought the formation of a new international premature. The German delegation was actually talked out of this position while in Moscow.

That was crucial. It had been a long and difficult struggle, but the banner of international proletarian revolution, besmirched by Social Democracy in 1914, was planted at this founding conference. Its key programmatic element, the dictatorship of the proletariat based on soviet power, was asserted. The struggle to forge new revolutionary parties was launched.

The new parties which adhered to the banner of October reflected a generational split. It was the young workers who had gone through the war who were to become the base of the new International. It was the older workers who tended to stay behind with the Social Democracy. Certainly our tasks today have obvious parallels. The sine qua non is to build parties of a Bolshevik type, to forge an international, and to contest for proletarian power and that really is the only road to new October Revolutions, which is what this class is all about.

Summary following discussion

Markin comment- I have not republished the summary here as there is no context for the statements made during the course of the discussion.
Reading List for Educationals on the Comintern

I. War, Revolution and the Split in the Second International: The Birth of the Comintern

Lenin, "The Tasks of Revolutionary Social-Democracy in the European War," 6 September 1914,
Collected Works (CW), Vol. 21, pp. 15-19

Lenin, "The Position and Tasks of the Socialist International," 1 November 1914, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 3541 Lenin, "What Next?", 9 January 1915, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 107-114

Lenin, "Letter from the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. to the Editors oiNashe Slovo" 23 March 1915, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 165-168

Lenin, "The Draft Resolution Proposed by the Left Wing at Zimmerwald," prior to 2 September 1915, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 345-348

Lenin, "The First Step," 11 October 1915, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 383-388

Lenin, "Opportunism, and the Collapse of the Second International" end of 1915, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 438-453 Lenin, "The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (Theses)," January-February 1916, CW, Vol. 22, pp. 143-156

Lenin, "Thejunius Pamphlet," July 1916, CW, Vol. 22, pp. 305-319

Lenin, "Imperialism and the Split in Socialism," October 1916, CW, Vol. 23, pp. 105-120

Lenin, "Report on Peace, October 26," 8 November 1917, CW, Vol. 26, pp. 249-253

Lenin, "Speech on the International Situation, November 8," 8 November 1918, CW, Vol. 28, pp. 151-164

Lenin, "Letter to the Workers of Europe and America," 21 January 1919, CW, Vol. 28, pp. 429-436

Lenin, "The Third International and Its Place in History," 15 April 1919, CW, Vol. 29, pp. 305-313

Trotsky, "Open Letter to the Editorial Board of 'Kommunist'," 4 June 1915, Lenin's Struggle for a Revolutionary International, pp. 235-238 (Monad Press, 1984) Trotsky, "The Work of the Zimmerwald Conference," ibid., pp. 329-331

Trotsky, "Manifesto of the Communist International to the Workers of the World," 6 March 1919,
The First Five Years of the Communist International (hereafter FFYCI), Vol. 1, pp. 19-30 Trotsky, "To Comrades of the Spartacus League," 9 March 1919, FFYCI, pp. 3943

Additional Readings:

Lenin, "The Collapse of the Second International," May-June 1915, CW, Vol. 21, pp. 207-259

Lenin, "Political Report of the Central Committee, March 7," 7 March 1918, CW, Vol. 27, pp. 87-109

Lenin, "The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky," November 1918, CW, Vol. 28, pp. 229-325

Pearce, B., "Lenin and Trotsky on Pacifism and Defeatism," What Is Revolutionary Leadership?, pp. 24-35 (published by Spartacist)

"Toward the Communist International," Lenin and the Vanguard Party, pp. 47-55 (SL/U.S. pamphlet, 1997 edition)

Luxemburg, "The Reconstruction of the International," Lenin's Struggle for a Revolutionary International, pp. 183-193