Written: July 1915.
Source: Revolutionary History.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Ted Crawford and David Walters, September 2006.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2006. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.
The session commenced at 10 a.m. Amidst applause the president read out a telegram, received the previous evening, from the Serb comrades solidarising with the Conference. The text read:
To the Balkan Conference – Bucharest
Nish, 5/18 July – Serbian social-democracy salutes the struggle for peace and civilisation being waged with courage and without respite by their valiant Roumanian comrades.
At the same time we declare ourselves in absolute solidarity with all Balkan socialists in the great effort for our common goal: the democratic and republican Federation of all the Balkan peoples.
Long live the Balkan Federation!
Long live peace!
Long live International Socialism!
For the Central Committee
The president read out more telegrams coming from the provinces. He then announced to applause the presence in the hall of Citizen Zamfir C. Arbore, former member of the International. He declared that at this moment when the little International of the Balkans was being born, the delegates would be especially happy to greet one of the rare survivors of the first and great International.
Citizen Arbore took the floor and recalled the attempts of the bourgeois democracy to form a federation of Eastern Europe, but only for the proletariat to have to achieve this great idea.
Comrade Racovski declared that the second and last item on the agenda was now before the Conference: the Balkan socialist parties and the Socialist International. However before this he put to the vote various motions to the Conference which were adopted unanimously (See below) He then read out the resolution concerning the organisation of the proposed Inter-Balkanic Federation. This resolution was adopted unanimously.
The comrade president said there were two ways to proceed in discussing this question. Either to start a general discussion on the tactics pursued by the various socialist parties before and during the war, or to restrict the discussion to the examination of two concrete questions. 1) The attitude of the Executive Committee of the Bureau of the Socialist International which did not call a meeting of the Bureau as was its duty, or 2) what line to take in view of the decision of the Italian socialist comrades to call a conference of the internationalists.
The conference decided on a general discussion with no restriction.
Comrade Blagoef (Bulgaria) analysed the history of the International in relation to the evolution of the workers’ movement and capitalism.
The First International of 1864 demonstrated in its action and organisation a dominant unifying force in London and ensured respect for its principles and discipline. But the activity of this International was necessarily limited to certain aspects of working class life. Later, with the development of capitalism, the working class movement itself developed but international links were loosened.
Absorbed by home concerns they inevitably took on a national aspect. In the 2nd International discipline left much to be desired. The Socialist International Bureau contented itself with acting as a registry office which did not seek to penetrate the life of each party or to know whether it conformed to the principles included in its constitution.
In order to re-establish the International it is necessary to abandon toleration of deviations. It is necessary to combat opportunism, social-imperialism and social-patriotism and proclaim the principles of class struggle. We must condemn the politics of civil peace (Burgfriede) and Union Sacrée. Imperialism, by levelling out the economic conditions of different countries, facilitates the work of unification of methods and programmes and of the reestablishment of the International on really socialist foundations.
Comrade C. Dobrogeano-Gherea (Roumania) declared that if he had been consulted on the setting of the agenda he would have opposed the inclusion of this second item. He did not think the time opportune for the discussion of such a difficult and vast problem as the foundations on which the reestablishment of the International should be based. At present three currents were already emerging in the International: the left, the centre and the right. These currents were probably represented here. And to engage on a too wide-ranging debate on this item would provoke interminable discussions as well as regrettable misunderstandings unhelpful to the goal that this conference had set itself. He was of the opinion that the conference should limit itself to expressing its dissatisfaction with respect to the Committee of the International Socialist Bureau which using various pretexts avoided calling together the Bureau. At the same time, and in agreement with comrade Blagoef, he believed the conference should disapprove of the opportunist tendencies and scarcely socialist attitudes that some socialist parties adopted in relation to the present conflict.
Comrade Dr E. Arbore said that if the second item had not figured on the agenda its inclusion would have been imposed by the arrival at the conference of the socialist women from Berne in the course of the discussion. It is impossible to talk of the foundations on which our Balkan international should be based without touching on the causes that have so damaged the 2nd International. She agreed with comrade Blagoef that we must oppose the imperialist and opportunist tendencies of the socialist parties of the warring powers with all our force.
Comrade D. Marinesco (Roumania) disagreed with comrade Gherea. He thought a broad ranging discussion on the subject of the second item was necessary and useful, especially as we had to discuss our attitude in relation to future International Socialist Congress. Circumstances were partly responsible for the crisis which international socialism was going though but we should not forget the responsibility of certain socialist parties. By voting for the war credits the German socialist party had contributed heavily to the dissolution of the International. In the motion to be voted on all parties that had deviated from the principles of the class struggle should be condemned.
Comrade C. Dobrogeano-Gherea did not deny the importance of a broad discussion on the future of the International. He merely argued that this question should have been discussed inside each party but that to discuss it at this Inter-Balkans Conference risked preventing us from accomplishing the task for which we had assembled. We should content ourselves with the general affirmations pronounced by Blagoef with which, together with the whole confence, he agreed.
Comrade A. Constantinesco agreed with comrades Blagoef and Dr E.Arbore. It was more than necessary, it was indispensable, for socialist unity in the Balkans, which implied a prior unity of views, that we should have a clear view on the future of the International and agreement with the other Balkan socialists on the tactics to be pursued.
The session concluded at 1 o’clock.
The general discussion on the basis of the future international continued.
Comrade Kirkoff (Bulgaria) said that the news that reached us from the belligerent countries spoke of a change among our comrades, of a return to the tactics of class struggle. Was it not our duty to hold our hands out to these comrades? The future International should squarely place itself on the soil of the class struggle. The Bureau of the Second International acted too much like a "letter box" which accepted all affiliations without subsequently exercising the necessary control. Therefore we had the right to demand, for the future International, a more solid organisation, greater doctrinal discipline and stricter control over the activities of the socialist parties in each country. On the other hand we were morally obliged to support those who were working for the reestablishment of the International so conceived.
Comrade Racovski warned the speakers against confusing what was desired with what was possible. In the old International there were faults and omissions inherent in the degree of development of socialism. Those of us who over twenty years attended the international socialist Congresses were aware of the – one could say surprising – degree of ignorance shown by the immense majority of the International on matters of foreign policy, as for example, on the Eastern question. But now that the workers had seen what this ignorance had cost them – on a matter which basically was one of the causes of the world war – as well as ignorance on the foreign polices of governments, they would certainly try to arm themselves with greater knowledge. He knew of comrades, like, for example, the Russian comrade Axelrod, who were thinking as of now of setting up of permanent international socialist commissions of inquiry. But we should not forget that it is from the raising of the level of the masses that we should above all expect change. Of course the socialist education of the proletariat depended a lot on the general ideas that were the basis of our policies. He agreed with Gherea in recognising that it would be inappropriate, even difficult to consider the technical side of the organisation of the future International. But we should all the more forcefully insist that our defence of socialism imposed on us the proclamation that the principle of class struggle remains more than ever sacrosanct.
Comrade A. Sideris declared himself in agreement with comrade Racovski. Our Confenece could not transform itself into a tribunal; this would be to go beyond the task for which it had been convened.
He had had the intention of proposing the convening of an international conference to re-establish the International but he was happy to learn that the Italian socialists had already taken a similar decision and it remained for us only to associate ourselves with it.
Comrade C. Dobrogeanu-Gherea wished to associate himself with the wise observations of Kirkoff and Racovski. He considered we would have achieved our aim if we limited ourselves to expressing a general judgement without going into particular cases. The place for this would be either an International Congress or national congresses.
Comrade Gh. Critesco (Roumania) also thought that an examination of the tactics of the different parties was more in the competence of international congresses. Our duty was to conform to the decisions of the international congresses and to further the struggle againt the war. He proposed entering into contact with the other socialist parties with a view to convening an international socialist Congress.
Comrade Sideris (Greece) proposed that the declaration of principles dealing with our attitude to the International be presented as a separate resolution.
The president of the conference stated that there was no reason why the proposal of the deputy from Salonika should not be accepted.
Comrade Blagoeff proposed the session be adjourned for a few minutes to permit the definitive drawing up of the declaration.
The Conference reconvened at 9.30 p.m.
The president read out a congratulatory telegram form the social-democratic teachers of Bulgaria.
The reading of the final text of the declaration was postponed till the next day.
During this evening session the Conference decided that the anniversary of the assassination of Jaurés be commemorated in all the Balkan countries by meetings specially dedicated to this.
In addition inter-Balkanic meetings against the war would take place on 9/22 August.
The title of the regular publication of the Federation would be: Bulletin of the Social-democratic Workers’ Federation of the Balkans.
The Conference decided that each party should contribute 100fr. to cover the first expenses of the Inter-Balkans Bureau.
Comrade Kolaroff (Bulgaria) announced a resolution against the policies of the great powers in the Balkans.
Comrade president Racovski reads out the Declaration of Principles (see below).
Comrade Dobrogeanu-Gherea proposed, and the Conference accepted, that in the comments accompanying the declaration of principles mention be made of Switzerland and the United States as prototypes of the Balkan federation we wished to achieve.
The Declaration was voted unanimously.
The president read out the resolution relating to the attitude of the new Federation to the International.
This resolution, too, was adopted unanimously, as well as the resolution proposed by comrades Kolaroff and Sideris against the machinations of the great powers.
All the other motions put before the Conference were also voted on in their definitive texts.
The Bureau was instructed to send a telegram of congratulations to Rosa Luxemburg and report its proceedings to the socialist press. Comrade Sideris announced having received at the last moment a telegram from the Greek Social-democratic Party instructing him to protest against the exclusion of the “broad” social democrats of Bulgaria. The Roumanian Social-democratic Party put itself at the disposal of the Greek delegate to give him the necessary explanations.
On behalf of his delegation comrade Kolaroff warmly thanked the Social-democratic party of Roumania for convening the Conference. He also thanked the Bureau and in particular the president for the way the debates had been controlled. He was confident of the positive outcome of the Conference and hoped to see all the Balkan socialist parties at the third Conference. The circumstances within which this Conference had been convened underlined even more its importance. The federation of the socialist parties of the Balkans into a common and unitary organism was an event of historic import. At one and the same time it erected a barrier against bellicose schemes and was a powerful means of socialist propaganda and organisation of the proletariat.
On behalf of the Social-democratic Party of Greece comrade Sideris thanked the Roumanian comrades for their welcome initiative in convening this conference. This was the first time a Greek delegate had attended an international conference and he noted with joy the perfect accord achieved among Balkan socialists.
The resolutions adopted would contribute even more to the indissoluble unity of the socialist parties of the Balkans. Our conference inaugurated a new politics in the Balkans and the creation of Inter-Balkans Socialist Federation was the first practical act of this new politics.
Comrade Racovski declared that the conference, whose debates had concluded with the adoption of so many important resolutions, was also a resounding reply to the calumnies spread by the bourgeoisie about socialism. Our chauvinists constantly accused we Roumanian socialists of being traitors to our country while the socialists of the other Balkan countries were nationalists. The conference which had lasted three days had demonstrated to all those who wanted to listen that all we Balkan socialists were united by the same hates and the same desires and that we all pursued the same ideal of peace as well as the same struggle against war.
The speaker then spoke of the contempt that the Roumanian boyards and oligarchy showed towards the other Balkan peoples who, each in turn, had been insulted and slandered in the nationalist Roumanian press. This attitude had deep causes. It was not due to a vain pride but to an instinct of class defence. The Roumanian oligarchy wanted to isolate the Roumanian people from the other Balkan peoples so that they should not notice the miserable social and political condition they found themselves in, compared to their neighbours who had universal suffrage, proportional representation and well organised primary education while the Roumanian people stagnated in misery, tyranny and ignorance.
The inter-Balkans socialist conferences had a double significance, socialist and democratic, for Roumania. That is why the Roumanian Socialist Party would attend future conferences with joy.
After having said good-bye and wished the delegates a good journey the president declared the proceedings of the second Inter-Balkans Conference closed.
Considering that by the enlargement of its area of exploitation, bringing under its yoke increasingly numerous new labouring masses, capitalism is becoming greedier and more aggressive and through its policies of war is putting in jeopardy the lives, the liberty and the future of the proletariat and of humanity;
The second inter-Balkanic socialist conference, meeting in Bucharest on 5/19, 6/20 and 7/21 July, believes that the prime duty of the socialists of all countries is to stand up, through their close unity, against the rising tide of imperialist capitalism which threatens to engulf everything;
Also considering that, following from a number of causes flowing as much from the evolution of capitalism – which has not penetrated all countries to an equal degree and has not everywhere destroyed the vestiges of feudalism – as from the evolution of the workers’ and socialist movement – which, in its formative phase has been forced, to limit itself to questions of home and social politics, fatally neglecting foreign affairs – the internationalist principles of the social-democratic parties have remained theoretical affirmations without any accompanying internationalist practice, as has become evident on the occasion of the present war;
The social-democratic parties and trade unions of the Balkan countries meeting in conference and continuing along the road taken by the Belgrade conference of 1909, have decided that it is their duty to make clear the basis of their international policy;
Considering that the whole history of the workers’ and socialist movement, and above all its history during the months which have followed the declaration of the present war, has clearly shown that the irreducible principle of class struggle is the only sure guiding thread in the struggles of the proletariat and that any deviation from that road can only be fatal to the socialist cause;
The second inter-Balkanic socialist conference, rejecting all class collaboration, condemning social-patriotism and social-imperialism and all other manifestations of opportunism, affirms its decision to remain faithful to irreducible class struggle.
Considering that the class struggle of the Balkan proletariat, already made difficult by its spread over several small states with undeveloped industries and – some of them – having vestiges of feudal and agrarian regimes, becomes even harsher as a result of the foreign policies of the Balkan bourgeoisies and of the great powers;
Considering that the economic, political and social progress of the Balkan countries is prevented by the dominant classes who all desire political hegemony at the expense of their neighbour, previously deprived of its territories;
Considering that to this internal cause of political reaction is added one arising externally: that is the imperialist policies of the great powers aspiring to divide up the Balkan peninsula, coveted not only for its riches but because of its geographic situation astride the highway that leads from Europe to Asia;
The second Binter-Balkan socialist conference proclaims that it is the duty of the socialist parties to combat without ceasing and without mercy the chauvinist and warlike currents encouraged by the dominant classes of the Balkan countries and the imperialist policies of the great powers;
Considering that the existence of territorial, economic and legislative frontiers encourages militant nationalism by dividing the Balkan peninsula into so many closed enclaves left at the discretion of the national bourgeoisies;
Considering that the politics of conquest of the great powers, as a consequence of the division of the Balkan peninsula into several small states, transforms them into client states, and by exciting their desires for hegemony, turns them into blind and vile instruments;
Considering that the dynasties, and in general the monarchical regimes, are the back bone of national particularism, of political cliques, of camarillas and military castes;
Considering that the independence and very existence of the Balkan states will always be compromised unless they unite their forces and means in a common goal of defence, progress, civilisation and peace;
Considering that any union between the Balkan peoples that does not do away with the causes of division and national particularism, and that any understandings and Balkanic blocs having aggressive aims of conquest of territory or of dynastic grandeur, would provoke disasters as was the case with the first Balkanic alliance which provoked the first Balkan war, and was also the case with the second Balkan bloc which caused the present war;
The second inter-Balkanic socialist conference proclaims that the only form of union of the Balkan peoples which can assure durable understanding and peace is a Federal Republic of the Balkans based on a regime of complete democracy which recognises and guarantees the real political, civil and cultural equality of all the Balkan nationalities without distinction of race, religion or language, and which has a common parliament elected by universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage, with proportional representation, referendums and self-government, and, finally, possesses national militias as a means of defence;
Considering that the Federal Republic of the Balkans is a factor for peace, not only in Eastern Europe but in the whole world, by suppressing or attenuating the causes of war between the Balkan peoples and by holding back the appetite for conquests of the great powers;
Considering, as well, that the principle of republican federation, already achieved in Switzerland and the United States of America, is essential in Austria-Hungary and Russia, as well as in the whole of Europe which will be called on to form itself into a federation;
The Conference appeals to the social-democratic parties of the Balkans to struggle in their countries for the federal principle.
As a means of propagating the idea of a Balkan Federation. and as a first application of the federal principle, the social-democratic parties of the Balkans have decided to set up a Workers’ Social-democratic Federation of the Balkans.
The second inter-Balkanic socialist conference, meeting in Bucharest on 6, 7 and 8 July, in order to continue the work of the first Belgrade Conference, and seeking the most rational means for the propagation and realisation of the idea of a Federal Balkan Republic has decided as follows:
The second Inter-Balkanic Socialist Conference held in Bucharest on 6/19, 7/20 and 8/21 July 1915, proclaiming the principle of class struggle as the basis of its activity, energetically opposes the Civil Peace, the Union Sacrée and other forms of class collaboration accepted by some of the socialists of the belligerent countries, and informs the socialist deputies in the Balkan parliaments that they must refuse any support to the governments and dominant classes, for this would, fatally, relieve the bourgeoisie of the terrible responsibility it carries for the present catastrophe.
The Conference also considers it its fraternal duty to appeal to the socialist parties of the belligerent countries to return to the old class struggle, which has proven itself, and to break all pacts with the bourgeoisie. It appeals to them to intervene seriously, energetically and efficaciously for an end to the war and the conclusion of peace without annexation of territories and without war indemnities.
Conference disapproves of the passivity of the International Socialist Bureau; it calls on it to resume its function and, failing this, urges the social-democratic parties of the Balkans to give all possible help to all socialist initiatives which aim at the ending of the war and the reestablishment of the International on the basis of international socialism.
The 2nd Inter-Balkanic Socialist Conference, meeting in Bucharest on 6, 7 and 8 July expresses its sentiments of solidarity and fraternity to the proletarian masses of all the Balkan countries who, against their wishes, shed their blood and leave their bones on the battle fields of the world war brought about by the criminal imperialism of the ruling dynasties and of greedy and aggressive capitalism.
To K. Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and all the socialists of the belligerent countries, who have remained faithful to the International
The 2nd Inter-Balkanic Socialist Conference, meeting in Bucharest on 5, 7 and 8 July expresses its profound admiration for the courageous comrades of the belligerent countries who have fought against war and for peace, remaining faithful to socialist and internationalist principles, at the cost of their freedom and their lives. In the first place it sends its greetings to comrades Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht and all those who have been persecuted for their socialist faithfulness.
To the Russian Socialists
The 2nd Inter-Balkanic Socialist Conference, meeting in Bucharest on 6, 7 and 8 July 1915, protests vigorously against the criminal policy of the Tsar, who has arrested and deported to Siberia the Russian socialist members of the Duma, and protests against the vicious persecutions to which the Jewish proletariat of Russia is subject. It expresses its wishes for the success of the Russian proletariat’s struggle for the revolution.
Against chauvinist provocations
For peace and neutrality
The conference unanimously adopted the following motion proposed by the Bulgarian delegate, comrade Kolaroff, and the Greek delegate, comrade Sideris:
The 2nd inter-Balkanic Social-democratic conference, meeting in Bucharest, energetically protests against the chauvinist and warlike agitations whereby the agents in the pay of the foreigner seek to drive the Balkan peoples to a new massacre.
It also denounces the treacherous work of the oligarchic bourgeoisie and monarchism of the Balkan countries who, pursuing aims of conquest, provoke hatred between peoples, nurture ideas of revenge and thus prepare their political and economic subjection.
Conference appeals to the oppressed masses, of which the organised and conscious proletariat constitutes the most devoted and courageous vanguard, to seek by all means at their disposal to struggle without ceasing for peace in the Balkans.
Finally, it calls on the socialist parties and workers’ organisations of all the Balkan countries to carry out a powerful and uninterrupted agitation to build a powerful popular current in favour of peace and strict neutrality and for the Federal Republic of the Balkans.
Last updated on 16.10.2011