Pravda No. 162, November 7, 1912.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 18, pages 397-399.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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“Macedonia’s conquest by Bulgaria and Serbia means for her a bourgeois revolution, a kind of 1789 or 1848.” These words of Otto Bauer, the Austrian Marxist, reveal at a stroke the meaning of the events now taking place in the Balkans.
The revolution of 1789 in France and that of 1848 in Germany and other countries were bourgeois revolutions, because the liberation of the country from absolutism and from landlord, feudal privileges in fact provided freedom for the development of capitalism. But it goes without saying that such revolutions were most urgently required by the interests of the working class; in 1789 and 1848 even “non-Party” workers, who were not organised as a class, were leading fighters of the French and German revolutions.
Macedonia, like the other Balkan countries, is economically very backward. She still retains exceedingly strong survivals of the feudal system and of medieval dependence of the peasants on their feudal landlords. Among those survivals are quit-rent (in money or kind), share-cropping (the Macedonian peasant usually gives the landlord one-third of the harvest, that is, less than the Russian peasant does), and so on.
The landlords in Macedonia (known as spahijas) are Turks and Mohammedans, while the peasants are Slays and Christians. The class antagonism is therefore aggravated by a religious and national antagonism.
Thus, the victories gained by the Serbians and Bulgarians denote the undermining of feudal rule in Macedonia, the formation of a more or less free class of peasant land owners, and a guarantee for the entire social development of the Balkan countries, which has been checked by absolutism and feudal relations.
Bourgeois newspapers, from Novoye Vremya to Rech, are talking of national liberation in the Balkans, leaving out economic liberation. Yet in reality it is the latter that is the chief thing.
Given complete liberation from the landlords and from absolutism, national liberation and complete freedom of self-determination of the peoples would be an inevitable result. On the other hand, if the tyranny of the landlords and the Balkan monarchies over the peoples remains, national oppression, too, is bound to persist in some measure or another.
If the liberation of Macedonia had been accomplished through a revolution, that is, through the Serbian and Bulgarian and also the Turkish peasants fighting against the landlords of all nationalities (and against the landlord governments in the Balkans), liberation would probably have cost the Balkan peoples a hundred times less in human lives than the present war. Liberation would have been achieved at an infinitely lower price and would have been infinitely more complete.
One may ask what are the historical causes of the issue being settled by war and not by revolution. The main historical cause is the weakness, disunity, immaturity and ignorance of the peasant masses in all the Balkan countries, as well as the small number of the workers who had a clear understanding of the state of affairs and demanded a Balkan federal (union) republic.
This brings out the radical difference between the European bourgeoisie and the European workers in their attitude to the Balkan problem. The bourgeoisie, even the liberal bourgeoisie, similar to our Cadets, shouts about the “national” liberation of the “Slavs”. Thereby it plainly misrepresents the meaning and historic significance of the events now taking place in the Balkans, and thus hampers the real liberation of the Balkan peoples. It thus contributes to the preservation of landlord privileges, political tyranny and national oppression in some measure or another.
On the other hand, the worker democrats are the only ones to champion the real and complete liberation of the Balkan peoples. Nothing but economic and political liberation of the peasants of all the Balkan nationalities, carried through to the end, can eliminate all possibility of any sort of national oppression.