The Future Belongs to the People
I AM pleased to be able to write a message of brotherhood to British Socialists at a time when the ruling classes of Germany and Great Britain are trying by all means in their power to incite bloodthirsty hatred between the two peoples. But it is painful for me to write these lines at a time when our radiant hope of previous days – the Socialist International – lies destroyed on the ground with a thousand expectations, when even many Socialists in the belligerent countries – for Germany is not an exception – have in this most rapacious of all wars of robbery willingly put on the yoke of the chariot of Imperialism, just when the evils of capitalism were becoming more apparent than ever. I am, however, particularly proud and happy to send my greetings to you, to the British Independent Labour Party, who, with our Russian and Servian comrades, have saved the honor of Socialism amidst the madness of national slaughter.
Confusion reigns among the rank and file of the Socialist Army and many blame Socialist principles for our present failure. It is not our principles which have failed, however, but the representatives of those principles. It is not a question of changing our principles, it is a question of applying them to life, of carrying them into action.
All the phrases of "national defense" and the "liberation of the people" with which Imperialism decorates its instruments of murder are but deceiving tinsel. Each Socialist Party has its enemy, the common enemy of the International, in its own country. There it has to fight it. The liberation of each nation must be its own work.
Only blindness can order the continuation of the slaughter until the "enemy" is crushed. The well-being of all nations is inseparably connected; the struggle of the organized working class can only be carried out internationally.
Those who are seven times wise and whose weak souls are easily carried away by the whirls of diplomatic winds and lost in the gulfs of jingoism, say that the labor movement will no longer be international.
The world war which has smashed the International must, however, be realized as a powerful sermon making clear the need for a new International, an International of another kind, with a different force from that which the capitalist powers so easily scattered on August 4, 1914.
Only in the coöperation of the working masses of all countries, in times of war as in times of peace, does the salvation of humanity lie. Nowhere have the masses desired this war. Nowhere do they desire it. Why should they, then, with a loathing for war in their hearts, murder each other to the finish? It would be a sign of weakness, it is said, for any one people to suggest peace; well, let all the people suggest it together. The nation which speaks first will not show weakness but strength. It will win the glory and gratitude of posterity. It is the duty of every Socialist at the present time to be a prophet of international brotherhood, realizing that every word he speaks in favor of socialism and peace, every action he performs for these ideals enflame similar words and actions in other countries, until the flames of the desire for peace shall flare high over all Europe. The example which you and our Russian and Servian comrades have given to the world will have an emulating effect wherever Socialists have been ensnared by the designs of the ruling classes, and I am sure the mass of the British workers will soon rally to the International Labor Party. Already among the German workers there is far greater opposition to the war than is generally supposed, and the louder the echo of the cry for peace in other countries the more vehemently and energetically will they work for peace here. Thus shall the working classes of all the belligerent countries become conscious of the necessity to fight for a peace consistent with the principles of Socialism, a peace without conquest and without humiliation, a peace based not on hatred but on fraternity, not on force but on freedom, a peace which, because of its justice, may be everlasting. In this way, even during the war, the International can be revived and can atone for its previous mistakes. Thus it must revive, a different International, increased not only in numerical strength but in revolutionary fervor, in clearness of vision and in preparedness to overcome the danger of absolutism, of secret diplomacy, and of capitalist conspiracies against peace.
Workers of the World, unite!
Unite in a war against war!
With Socialist greetings,
BERLIN, December, 1914.
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