Imperialist War and the Question of Peace
The Peace Politics of the Bolsheviks Before the November 1917 Revolution
Why Lenin put so much emphasis on a principled break with opportunism and social-chauvinism, can also be seen from his attitude to the question of the so-called 'democratic peace'.
It would be a great mistake to characterise the official declarations of the socialist parties at the beginning of and during the First World War as openly chauvinist and annexationist. On the contrary: from the beginning the leaders of these parties covered themselves by arguing that the war being waged by their governments was a purely 'defensive war' and by calling for the conclusion of a 'just' and 'lasting' peace as soon as possible. In so doing they were merely falling in line with the position of their own governments. For example, the well-known declaration of the German social-democratic Reichstag-fraction on the 4th August 1914 reads:
‘... In the hour of danger we do not leave the fatherland in the lurch. In this we feel ourselves in harmony with the International (!), which has recognized the right of every nation to national independence and self-defence - just as we agree with the International in condemning each and every war of conquest.'
And further on:
'We demand that, as soon as the security of the nation is attained and our opponents are inclined towards peace, the war be ended by a peace which makes friendship possible with the neighbouring peoples. We demand this not only in the interest of international solidarity, which we have always championed, but also in the interest of the German people ... We hope that the terrible lesson of war-time suffering will arouse in millions of people an abhorrence of war (!) and win them to the ideal of socialism and peace among nations'.
English and French socialists made identical declarations.
Nonetheless in the first months of the war such declarations must have seemed merely evasive, a cosmetics operation. But everything changed, once hopes for a lightning-victory disappeared and were increasingly replaced by an overwhelming feeling of despair and horror! There then arose among the popular masses of all the belligerent countries a sincere longing for peace. Of course this had nothing to do with the real position of the social-democratic parties, but it was something they had to reckon with and even give expression to in their publications - if only in platonic terms. (This was mainly in the form of emphasizing one's own nation's love of peace, and the opposing nations' intransigence and hatred of peace.)
The representatives of the 'Left' also had to take a stand on this growing desire for peace, because it seemed to offer the first opportunity for arousing the masses of the people against the war and against the parties which were supporting it. But how should the mood for peace be exploited? And in what political slogans should it find its conscious expression? On this question there were various views, which corresponded to the party-groupings existing at the time (1914-15). But our chief concern is Lenin's position.
He repeatedly emphasises that we cannot give our support to peace as such (i.e. to an unconditional peace), 'because we consider this slogan to be a thoroughly confused, pacifist and bourgeois slogan.' It is true that amongst the masses a hazy, unclear but constantly growing mood for peace had been noticeable for some time.
'The temper of the masses in favour of peace often expresses the beginning of protest, anger and a realisation of the reactionary nature of the war.'
And it was therefore to be regarded as one of the most important symptoms of the incipient disillusion of the masses about the so-called defence of the fatherland. It is of course the absolute duty of all revolutionary Marxists to make use of the masses' mood for peace. But how? To accept the slogan of peace per se would be just giving the governments a helping hand in their deception of the masses. For nowadays
'most people are definitely in favour of peace in general, including even Kitchener, Joffre, Hindenburg, and Nicholas the Bloodstained, for each of them wants an end to the war. The trouble is that every one of them advances peace terms that are imperialist (i.e. predatory and oppressive, towards other peoples), and to the advantage of his "own nation ".'
By these means, the war could only be prolonged, not shortened!
When the present-day Left, Lenin continues,
'began to write under the peace slogan, this deserved encouragement, provided it was the first step in protest against the chauvinists, in the same fashion as the Gaponade was the Russian workers' first timid approach against the tsar. But since the Lefts are even now confining themselves to this slogan (…), they are shoddy Lefts,(78) there is consequently not a grain of "action" in their resolutions, and they are consequently a plaything in the hands of the Südekums, Quarcks, Sembats, Hyndmans, Joffres, and Hindenburgs'.
But do not all socialist opponents of the war stress that they do not support every kind of peace, but only a democratic peace? And cannot the slogan 'For a democratic peace' turn into a cattle-cry in the struggle against imperialism? Not at all, replies Lenin. One should not forget that
‘just as all war is but a continuation by violent means of the politics which the belligerent states and their ruling classes had been conducing for many years, sometimes for decades, before the outbreak of war, so the peace that ends any war can be nothing but a consideration .and a record of the actual changes brought about in the relation of forces in the course of and as a result of the war.'
‘as long as the foundations of present, i.e. bourgeois, social relations remain intact, an imperialist war can lead only to an imperialist peace, i.e. to greater, more extensive and more intense oppression of weak nations and countries by finance capital ... '
Thus in the first place the socialists who argue for a `democratic peace' should be criticised for their theoretical confusion: the fact that they overlook the necessary connection between the character of the war and the class-nature of the imperialist state, and that they substitute for the historical study of politics pursued by the great powers before and during the war a moralising phrase (‘War is an evil, peace is a blessing'). That is to say, they conjure up the fantastic image of an annexation-free, peaceful and progressive foreign policy, ‘while keeping within the framework of world-imperialist relations and the :capitalist system of economy.’ (In this they resemble the Proudhonists, who wanted to do away with capitalist exploitation, while retaining capitalist relations of production.)
The worst thing is not that `democratic peace' is objectively impossible in the present situation, that it represents a 'vulgar, petit-bourgeois utopia'. The practical-political consequences of such a slogan are far more harmful. For without simultaneously calling the masses to revolutionary actions, peace propaganda can, in the situation created by the war, give rise only to illusions, can only lead the working class astray and thereby induce it to place its hopes in the humanity of the bourgeoisie and the imperialist governments. These governments
'only stand to gain from speeches in the socialist camp about a nice little peace, because, firstly, they instill belief in the possibility of such a peace under the present governments, and, secondly, divert attention from these governments’ predatory policies. ... The “socialist” who under such circumstances delivers speeches to the people and the governments about a nice little peace resembles the clergyman who, seeing before him in the front pews the mistress of a brothel and a police officer, who are working hand in glove, “preaches” to them, and to the people, love of one’s neighbour and observance of the Christian commandments.'
'Exactly the same role is played-consciously or unconsciously-by all those who in the present imperialist war address pious peace appeals to the bourgeois governments. The bourgeois governments either refuse to listen to such appeals and even prohibit them, or they allow them to be made and assure all and sundry that they are only fighting to conclude the speediest and “justest” peace, and that all the blame lies with the enemy.'
Lenin says that the role played by the `social pacifists' (with K Kautsky at their head) can only be evaluated from this point of view. The capitalists and their diplomats urgently require the services of such 'socialist' preachers of peace, who lull the nation to sleep with phrases about a 'democratic peace' and divert the attention of the masses from the necessity for revolutionary struggle. Nothing is thus more important to these governments than maintaining intact the influence of the opportunists on the proletariat! So as to prevent a clear break between the working masses and their reformist leaders, they will agree to all possible concessions, and promise the people not only `peace without annexations' and `lasting disarmament', but even the earth. Only in this way can they offer the chauvinist opportunists a way of 'vindicating themselves' and appearing before the masses in the guise of consistent opponents of war. The roles are well allotted! While the bourgeoisie, the governments and the military leaders wage war 'to the victorious end', the socialist opportunists are given the task of consoling and deluding the popular masses, in order to preserve 'class peace' and the 'national united front'.  One hand washes the other.
By contrast, what is the task of the real Left? In the first place, answers Lenin,
`to unmask the hypocrisy of the bourgeois, social-chauvinist and Kautskyite talk about peace. This is the first and fundamental thing. Unless we do that we shall be, willy-nilly, helping to deceive the masses.'
Secondly, however, it is the duty of the Left to explain to the masses,
`that the imperialist powers ... cannot grant a democratic peace. Such a peace must be sought for and fought for, not in the past, not in a reactionary utopia of a non-imperialist capitalism ..., but in the future, in the socialist revolution of the proletariat.'
It is therefore necessary to explain to the masses
'the inseparable connection existing between capital and the imperialist war, and to prove that without overthrowing capital, it is impossible to end the war by a truly democratic peace ... '
One cannot 'slip out of the imperialist war, ... without transferring state power to another class, the proletariat . For `an end to wars, peace among the nations, the cessation of pillaging and violence - such is our ideal; but only petit-bourgeois opportunists
'can seduce the masses with this ideal, if the latter is divorced from a direct and immediate call for revolutionary action. The ground for such propaganda is prepared; to practise that propaganda, one need only break with the opportunists, those allies of the bourgeoisie.' 
Only thus can one prevent the labour movement going back to
`the pre-war state of affairs ... , which led the majority of the leaders (of the Second International - RR) to desert to the bourgeoisie.'
That is sufficient on the general arguments which Lenin used against the slogan of a 'democratic peace'. But the reformist leaders he attacked so violently did not restrict themselves to merely preaching a 'democratic peace'. They also told the masses of their supporters, what they thought such a peace should be like: chiefly, the renunciation of all annexations and war-reparations.  Lenin's critique is directed specifically at this point. Why (asks Lenin) are most reformist socialists -and even many governments (Wilson!) - prepared to promise nations a peace 'without annexations'? Simply because they are only talking about new annexations (those carried out during the war), and their programme therefore essentially amounts to the restoration of the status quo. (For them, what the imperialist states 'acquired' before the war does not count as an ‘annexation'.)
It is not difficult, says Lenin, to perceive the incoherence and absurdity of such an interpretation of the term annexation. It can only have any meaning from the vulgar-pacifist standpoint, which 'as a matter of principle' rejects war as such, and any use of force - even revolutionary force - and which sees the only question as being the restoration of peaceful, `normal' relations (of oppression and exploitation). However, it is certainly not the business of socialists to reconcile the capitalists with one another on the basis of the old division of the spoils, that is, of the old conquests. So, the pacifist-moralist interpretation of the term annexation must be replaced by one which corresponds to the actual development of society. Certainly not every violent acquisition of foreign territory and not every violation of the status quo can be characterised as an annexation. That would not only be extremely reactionary, but would also contradict the most elementary experiences of history, which includes many wars of national liberation (the essence of which was the disruption of the status quo). Therefore the term 'annexation' can only refer to the (new and old) acquisitions of territory against the will of the population of the territories concerned, that is, especially where it is a matter of particular nationalities claiming a separate existence. (It is immaterial whether such nationalities also have their own national languages). 
`In other words: the concept of annexation is inseparably bound up with the concept of self-determination of nations'
and can only be correctly conceived from this standpoint.
But have not all (or almost all) social-democrats always been supporters of 'the right of nations to self-determination'? And isn't this point in the programmes of most socialist parties?
True - but unfortunately it is usually just a matter of paying `lip-service', a sacred formula repeated over and over again, which is all too often devoid of any real substance. That is to say, the slogan of 'self-determination of nations' is generally interpreted merely as a right to national autonomy and not as a right to secede and establish a separate nation state.
This cleverly makes the exercise of the right to self-determination depend on the decision of the parliament of the whole state, and not on the will of the population of the territories concerned. (Thus, for example, the Poles of the Posen province would only be allowed to secede from the German Empire, if the Reichstag for the whole of Germany, in which of course the Polish delegates represented a small minority, consented to their secession ... ) It is self-evident that with this strange 'interpretation' nothing remains of the right of nations to self-determination.
But not only that! As a study of the socialist press in the years 1914-1917 shows, it became common practice for all social chauvinists to reproach the enemy with the crudest violations of the right to self-determination, while shamefully keeping silent on the offence of oppression committed by their own nation ... Thus, for example, the German and Austro-German social democrats missed no opportunity of denouncing the brutal treatment of national minorities and the 'indigenous population' in Tsarist Russia, the British Empire, etc. But what happens to the Italians, Rumanians and Slavs in Austria and in the German Empire (the Posen province!) is systematically suppressed. But in this respect the attitude of the social-patriotic press in England, France, Russia and Italy was just the same. Everywhere the same lying and hypocrisy.
By contrast, Lenin repeatedly emphasises that the fundamental task of all socialists is to support first and foremost the freedom of nations oppressed by their own state, and that obviously this freedom must also include the freedom to secede.
We read in one of his articles written in 1916:
'Our "peace programme" demands that the principal democratic point of this question - the repudiation of annexations - should be applied in practice and not in words, that it should serve to promote the propaganda of internationalism and not of national hypocrisy. To do this, we must explain to the masses that the repudiation of annexations, i.e. the recognition of self-determination, is sincere only when the socialists of every nation demand the right of secession for nations oppressed by their own nations ... '
On the other hand,
'if that right is recognised only for some nations (e.g. only for the Belgians or the Poles - RR), then you are defending the privileges of certain nations, i.e. you are a nationalist and imperialist, not a socialist ... '
Of course, what he says also refers to Russia. Lenin never tires of repeating that
'the Great Russians shall not forcibly retain either Poland, or Kurland, or Ukraine, or Finland, or Armenia, or any other nation.'
Therefore - he says for the benefit of the Mensheviks and the Social-Revolutionaries
'we must immediately satisfy the demands (directed at the Provisional Government of 1917 - RR) of the Ukrainians and the Finns, ensure them, as well as all other non-Russian nationalities in Russia, full freedom, including freedom of secession ... '
Only in this way can the socialist democracy of Russia win the trust of the subjugated, non-Russian nations of the Empire, in order to make them their allies in the struggle against capital and imperialism! 
However, these are not the only reproaches which have to be levelled at the social-chauvinists for their hypocritical interpretation of the right to self-determination. Equally significant is the fact that they want to restrict this right to Europe alone and exclude the colonial and semi-colonial peoples from it. In absolute contrast to this, Lenin explains time and again that the struggle against annexations is to be interpreted
'not in the incorrect sense that all powers get back what they have lost, but in the only correct sense that every nationality without any exception, both in Europe and in the colonies, shall obtain its freedom and the possibility to decide for itself whether it is to form a separate state or whether it is to enter into the composition of some other state:
In this context Lenin refers to the example of the Belgian socialists,
'who demand the liberation and indemnification of Belgium alone, (and) are also actually defending a demand of the Belgian bourgeoisie, who would go on plundering the 15,000,000 Congolese population  and obtaining concessions and privileges in other countries. The Belgian bourgeoisie's foreign investments amount to something like three thousand million francs. Safeguarding the profits from these investments by using every kind of fraud and machinations is the real "national interest" of "gallant Belgium".'
Raising the question of freedom for the colonial and semi-colonial peoples - Lenin continues - is so important because we live in the stage of imperialism, and because imperialism exists precisely on the basis that a few nations, which oppress a multitude of other nations, are striving for a new division of the colonies, which would extend this oppression even further. And that is precisely the reason `why the question of self-determination of nations today hinges on the conduct of socialists of the oppressor nations' and why the distinction between oppressor and oppressed nations has now become one of the central programmatic points of the socialist movement!
It is this distinction, `which forms the essence of imperialism, which is deceitfully evaded by the social-chauvinists and Kautsky.' This division is not significant
`from the angle of the bourgeois pacifism or the philistine Utopia of peaceful competition among independent nations under capitalism, but it is most significant from the angle of the revolutionary struggle against imperialism .'
Of course one must not forget, Lenin emphasizes, that the demand for the `immediate' liberation of all peoples and all colonies can be brought about only through the socialist revolution of the proletariat, and that this demand must therefore appear to all opportunists as `unrealizable' and `impracticable'. But, even the restoration of the `status quo' - an idea so agreeable to 'common sense' - is utterly utopian; for this solution also cannot be brought about ‘unless there is a revolution against capital, at least against Anglo-Japanese capital, since no man in his right senses can doubt that without a revolution Japan will never give up Kiaochow, nor Britain Baghdad and her African colonies. ... And the first to turn down such a demand (unless there is a revolution) will be the British capitalists, who have annexed more territories (in the course of the war - RR) than any other nation in the world.’ This solution might perhaps suit German imperialism, which is contemplating whether to `exchange' what it has appropriated in Europe for its former colonial-possessions; but for precisely that reason, demanding the restoration of the `status quo' amounts to a `separate peace' with the German capitalists. So Lenin concludes:
`Neither of these demands, these wishes, either that of renouncing annexations in the sense of restoring the status quo, or renouncing all annexations, both old and new, are realisable without a revolution against capital, without the overthrow of the capitalists. We must not deceive ourselves or the people on this score.'
Lenin criticises most severely the 'positive' side of the opportunists” peace programme' - their demand for the `democratisation of foreign policy' (or for the `abolition of secret diplomacy'), their idea of `universal disarmament' and `international arbitration', propaganda for a `League of Nations' etc. He -mocks the `nauseatingly-sweet tone' of their resolutions, which stood in such painful contrast to the bloody reality of the world-war and to their own social-chauvinist practice, and whose shallow pathos thus appeared all the more cynical.
The common basis of all these demands was of course the naive belief in the possibility of a 'peaceful and 'democratic' capitalism, which would recognize its imperialist development as an aberration and return to the relatively `gentle' methods of its past. In this respect the social-pacifist propaganda of the First World War is reminiscent of the activity of the petit-bourgeois democrats (described by Marx as `peace windbags) at the turn of the 1860's,
`to whom any thought of the class struggle and of the socialist revolution was wholly alien, and who pictured to themselves a Utopia of peaceful competition among free and equal nations under capitalism.'
(With the difference, however, that what could appear at that time as a relatively harmless day-dream, in the dreadful carnage of the imperialist war turned into the - conscious or unconscious - deception of the masses.)
Lenin says that the idea ‘of the peaceful union of equal nations under imperialism' propagated by the Kautskyites, which lulls the working masses to sleep, is of exactly this kind.
The Kautskyites have not noticed that the class struggle under imperialism does not slacken, but sharpens:
`The programme of (revolutionary - RR) Social Democracy, as a counter balance to this petty-bourgeois, opportunist utopia, must postulate the division of nations into oppressor and oppressed as basic, significant and inevitable under imperialism.' 
In view of this, how can one then dream of a 'league of nations with equal rights under imperialism' and commend to the masses 'universal disarmament' and 'compulsory international arbitration' as the means of avoiding wars and restoring an `everlasting peace'? All this pre-supposes a 'universally acknowledged world-authority and a material force, standing above the contradictory interests of separate powers.' But there is no such authority, and there cannot be, 'as the conflict between the bourgeoisies of different countries or between their coalitions prevents such an occurrence'.
At best therefore it can only be a question of palliatives or of temporary compromises. Moreover, for the bourgeoisie itself it is necessary
'by throwing out a few sops, to pacify the masses, angered by the war and the high cost of living: why not promise (and partly carry out, for it does not commit one to anything!) "reduction of armaments"? After all, war is a "branch of industry" similar to forestry: it takes decades for trees of proper size - that is to say, for a sufficiently abundant supply of adult "cannon-fodder" - to grow up ... ' 
And only in this sense can 'disarmament' be agreeable to imperialism!
`Disarmament', wrote Lenin in October 1916, 'is the ideal of socialism. There will be no wars in socialist society; consequently, disarmament will be achieved.'
It would however be absurd to expect this goal to be reached while still under capitalism! for 'only after the proletariat has disarmed the bourgeoisie will it be able, without betraying its world-historic mission, to consign all armaments to the scrap-heap.' Socialism presupposes the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is the use of force against the class-enemy; 'and in the twentieth century - as in the age of civilisation generally - violence means neither a fist nor a club, but troops.' To introduce the 'disarmament' slogan into the programme of the socialist party would thus mean to renounce the use of weapons. 'There is as little Marxism in this as there would be if we were to say: we are opposed to violence!' And for this very reason,
'the Kautskyite advocacy of "disarmament", which is addressed to, the present governments of the imperialist Great Powers, is the most vulgar opportunism, it is bourgeois pacifism, which actually - in spite of the "good intentions" of the sentimental Kautskyites -serves to distract the workers from the revolutionary struggle',
and to gloss over the true class-nature of the imperialist governments.
'Capitalist society is and has always been horror without end. And if this most reactionary of all wars is now preparing for that society an end in horror, we have no reason to fall into despair.'
But for that very reason,
'the disarmament "demand", or more correctly, the dream of disarmament, is, objectively, nothing but an expression of despair at a time when, as everyone can see, the bourgeoisie itself is paving the way for the only legitimate and revolutionary war - civil war against the imperialist bourgeoisie.' 
Two things must be pointed out at this stage:
Firstly, that the pacifist slogans of the 'sugar-sweet Kautskyites', which Lenin condemned so severely, did not represent anything new in the history of the Second International, but rather were strictly modelled on the resolutions of the Copenhagen Congress of this International (1910). On that occasion a resolution was unanimously accepted by the Congress, which supported (a) compulsory international arbitration (b) universal disarmament, and (c) the so-called abolition of secret diplomacy (To our knowledge only K Radek publicly opposed these resolutions.)
Secondly, it must be emphasized that during the war these reformist-pacifist slogans were opposed, not only by Lenin, but also by the entire Left. It suffices here to point out the `guiding principles on the tasks of international social democracy' drawn up by R Luxemburg in early 1915. Point 8 reads:
'World peace cannot be assured by projects utopian or, at bottom, reactionary, such as tribunals of arbitration by capitalist diplomats, diplomatic "disarmament" conventions, "the freedom of the seas", abolition of the right of Maritime arrest, "the United States of Europe", a "customs union for central Europe", buffer states, and other illusions. Imperialism, militarism and war can never be abolished nor attenuated so long as the capitalist class exercises, uncontested, its class hegemony. The sole means of successful resistance, and the only guarantee of the peace of the world, is the capacity for action and the revolutionary will of the international proletariat to hurl its full weight into the balance.'[l14]
Of course, it is not the task of this work to test the validity of Lenin's critique of 'social-pacifism' in the light of today's experiences. However, there is one pressing question: Can atomic war, which today threatens mankind, also be regarded as a 'continuation by violent means of the politics of peace time'? - The answer is by no means as self-evident and simple as it appears to the advocates of the principle (ascribed to Lenin) of 'peaceful coexistence'. In the first place, all states having atomic weapons at their disposal would have to be convinced of the 'impossibility' of atomic war, and this would have to lead to a universally observed prohibition on the production and stock-piling of such weapons. Up to now it has only been a pious wish of those who feel themselves to be weaker, or mere lip-service to reassure and lull to sleep the popular masses, who are most deeply alarmed. Up to now the great powers concerned have shown no readiness - in spite of continual 'disarmament conferences' - to restrict or put an end to atomic armament, which is growing at a frightening pace. Secondly, however, the 'balance of fear', which so many people today regard as their last hope, is extremely unstable and can at any time be upset by a sudden revolution in the technology of war. (What will happen then, God only knows.) And finally, the 'senselessness' of atomic war by no means rules out the possibility of stronger powers systematically threatening and blackmailing their respective adversaries with the possible use of atom- and hydrogen-bombs, so that at least in this sense the possession of atomic weapons is equivalent to a `continuation of politics by violent means'. (Not to mention the fact that 'limited', 'local' wars - which threaten to turn into atomic wars at any time - can and do take place...)
That is sufficient on the alleged 'impossibility' of a new world war. If we now turn to the questions of 'universal disarmament', 'the League of Nations', 'international arbitration' etc, then the experiences of the last decades have certainly proved that it is, and can only be, a question of palliatives and temporary compromises. In this respect Lenin's polemic against 'social-pacifism' is still important today - although in today's political practice (of the Soviet Union - IL) it is for the most part regarded as a dead letter and unnecessary baggage.
72. Grünberg K Die Internationale und der Weltkrieg 1916 p.77.
73. Thus the leading article of the British Socialist Party's organ 'Justice', of 13 August 1914 stated: 'But it is useless to repine. The most we can do, either as Social-Democrats or as Englishmen, at present, is to exert all the influence we possess to bring about a reasonable peace as soon as possible: while not hampering in any way the efforts of the Government to win a speedy victory by vigorous action on land and sea.' (Ibid p186)
74. However, the practice of these parties was quite different. For example it is a well known fact that the leader of Austrian social-democracy, V Adler, not only did not object to the annexation of Russian-Poland by Austria, but wholeheartedly supported it! Hence his declaration at the plenary session of the German-Austrian social-democratic parliamentary deputies in Vienna, in mid-December 1915: '1 and others began to oppose the slogan "peace without annexations" months ago, in fact precisely with regard to Poland. We said to ourselves: the secession of Poland from Russia is a necessity, a requirement not only for Poland but also for Europe and the democratic development of Europe.' And further on: 'I would not object to England, which can well afford it, having to pay some compensation - and proletarian solidarity would not hold me back, if England (which is highly unlikely) had to pay such compensation ... My shirt is closer to me than my coat!' (Ermers M Victor Adler 1932 p331-2).
75. Letter to Shlyapnikov, 17 October 1914; Letter to Kollontai, Summer 1915 etc.
76. Lenin 'Socialism and War' CW Vol 21 p315.
77. Lenin "The question of Peace' CW Vol 21 p290.
78. Here. Lenin particularly has in mind the newspaper published in Paris at that time by Trotsky and Martov Nashe Slovo. (At that time Trotsky's position on this question was not at all clear.)
79. Lenin `The "Peace" Slogan Appraised' CW Vol 21p288-9.
80. Lenin `Proposals submitted by the Central Committee of the RSDLP to the Second Socialist Conference' CW Vol 22 p169. Lenin continues: 'One loses patience with sentimental Kautsky and Co, and their talk of a democratic peace, as if the present governments, or any bourgeois government for that matter could conclude such a peace. As a matter of fact, they (all the belligerent governments - IL) are enmeshed in a net of secret treaties … , and the content of these treaties is not accidental, ... but (was determined) by the whole course and development of imperialist foreign policy.' (`A Separate Peace' CW Vol 23 p127). The only peace that they can conclude, therefore, is an agreement as to the division of the spoils, the appropriation of colonies, the partition of Austria, of Turkey, etc, - in other words the direct opposite of a "democratic" peace! ... (`Letters from Afar' CW Vol 23 p336).
81. Lenin 'B1ancism' CW Vol 24 p35.
82. It goes without saying that the policy of a `democratic peace' had a very good meaning in the 19th century, in the pre-imperialist period of capitalism. Thus, for example Bismarck could have refrained from annexing Alsace-Lorraine, without threatening the bourgeois-capitalist character of the Prussian state. (‘The Peace Programme' CW Vol 22 p162-3).
83. Lenin 'A Separate Peace' op cit p128 and 'Letters from Afar' op en p336. - `Either tomorrow or the day after' - Lenin wrote to Shlyapnikov on 14 November 1914 - 'The peace slogan will be taken up by the German bourgeoisie and especially by the German opportunists.' (Gankin and Fisher The Bolsheviks and the World War - The Origin of the Third International, 1940 p188). This prediction of Lenin's, as we know from the history of the First World War, was soon to be fulfilled to the letter!
84. Lenin `The main German opportunist work on the war' CW Vol 21 p271; 'The State of affairs in Russian Social Democracy' CW Vol 21 p285. In this context Lenin referred to two pamphlets by prominent German social-chauvinists, David (1915) and Scheidemann (1916). The second pamphlet bore the significant title Long live peace!
85. Lenin 'The Peace Programme' CW Vol 22 p167.
86. Lenin 'The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution' CW Vol 24 p21-2. The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution' CW Vol 24 p67.
87.Lenin 'The Question of Peace' CW Vol 21 p293.
88. Lenin 'Proposals submitted ... ' op cit p174.
89. Very often it was just a matter of consciously misleading `public opinion'. Thus one finds in the memoirs of the English secret agent in Russia, Lockhart, the following delightful story about the French socialist minister Thomas: 'One service, which seemed important at the time, he (Thomas - RR) rendered to the Allies. The Soviets, at this moment were engaged in abstract discussions about peace terms. They had invented the formula of "peace without annexations and contributions", and this phrase, adopted at thousands of meetings in the trenches and in the villages, had spread like wildfire throughout the country. It was a formula which caused considerable annoyance and even anxiety to the English and French Governments, which had already divided up the spoils of a victory not yet won, in the form both of annexations and contributions. And both the French Ambassador and Sir George Buchanan (the English Ambassador in Russia - RR) had been requested to circumvent this new and highly dangerous form of pacifism. Their task was delicate and difficult. There seemed no way out of the impasse, and in despair they sought the advice of Thomas (who was at that time in Petersburg - RR). The genial socialist laughed: "I know my socialists," he said. "They will shed their blood for a formula. You must accept it and alter its interpretation." So annexations became restitutions and contributions reparations.' (Lockhart, Bruce British Agent p181-2).
90. Look at Ireland!
91. Lenin 'Proposals submitted ... ' op cit p175.
92. The exception concerns the Polish and the Dutch Lefts, who for doctrinaire reasons rejected the slogan 'the right of nations to self-determination'. (See the devastating critique of their view in Lenin's essay `The Right of Nations to Self-determination').
93. Thus for example the Vienna conference of Austrian and German social-democracy (12-13 April 1915) also demanded inter al 'the recognition of 'the right of nations to self-determination'. What the participants in the conference understood by this was only a 'right to self-determination within the framework of the state', in other words a direct negation of the right to secede, for those nations subjugated by the two monarchies ... it is not surprising that right up to the fall of the monarchy, Austro-German social democracy could support the so-called 'Austro-Polish solution' of the Polish question, 'that is the annexation of Russian Poland with Kaiser Karl as 'Polish king', and that V Adler himself declared at a party-conference on 13 September 1917: 'Austria is having great victories. Our armies are stationed far into Italy. Indeed, they shall not take Trieste from us (!) (Ermers, op cit p348-9). The contempt with which the spokesmen of Austro-German social-democracy regarded the Slav peoples rebelling against Austrian imperialism, can best be observed in the leading articles of the Arbeiter-Zeitung. On 2 August 1914, two days before the ominous capitulation of German social democracy, this newspaper wrote: 'And now for the sake of semi-barbaric (!) Serbia, a war of destruction has to be let loose between the noblest civilised nations of the continent. This is real madness ... a continent must go up in flames, the fruits of centuries of civilisation must be trampled in filth and blood, so that on some river in the Balkans, whose name no civilised person can even pronounce, the tsar of all the Russians can proclaim himself the undisputed protector and master of his borders.' It is obvious that for 'social democrats' who felt and thought in such a chauvinist manner, the 'right to self-determination' of the non-German peoples of the monarchy could only be an empty phrase.
94. Lenin 'The Peace Programme' op cit p167 and 'The Question of Peace' op cit p291. (c.f. 'Proposals submitted ... ' op cit p175-6 and 'Speech on the attitude towards the provisional Government' CW Vol 25 pp22-3.)
95. Lenin 'Mandate to Deputies of the Soviet Elected at Factories and Regiments' CW Vol. 24 p355; and 'The Tasks of the Revolution' CW Vol 26 p62.
96. It must be admitted, that the Soviet Republic of the years 1918-21 - hard-pressed by imperialist intervention and fighting for its very existence - was not always able to adhere to the principles of Lenin's nationalities-programme and (with regard to Georgia and the Ukraine) was guilty of a number of ruthless acts which would have been better not committed! However, such ruthlessness can be explained by the perilous situation faced by the young Soviet Republic. They are not to be placed on the same footing as the oppression of the non-Russian nations carried out later by Stalin and his followers, in which the original principles of Lenin's policy towards the nationalities were turned into their direct opposite.
97. Ibid p62.
98. This brings to mind the role which the leader of the Belgian socialists H Spaak recently played during the so-called liberation of the Congo. [RR is referring to the ‘Congo Crisis’ – i.e. independence struggle and its neo-colonial betrayal - of 1960-65. Spaak had ties with Belgian and US business groups supportive of a neo-colonial solution. According to the official historian of the US Department of State: 'U.S. efforts to persuade Belgium to withdraw its personnel and mercenaries from the Congo began to offer promise after a new government took office in late April with Paul-Henri Spaak as Vice Premier and Foreign Minister. U.S. officials found Spaak far more cooperative and forthcoming than his predecessor ...' Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-63, Vol. XX, Congo Crisis, 95/01/13. Spaak’s role is discussed in David N. Gibbs, The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis, Chicago, 1991, pp114ff and passim. SP]
99. Lenin 'The Question of Peace' op cit p29 I -2.
100. Ibid p293.
101. 'Socialists' - it says in Lenin's well-known treatment of 'the right of nations to self-determination' - 'cannot achieve their great aim without fighting against all oppression of nations. They must, therefore, unequivocally demand that the Social-democratic parties of the oppressor countries (especially of the so-called "Great" Powers) should recognise and champion the oppressed nation's right to self-determination, in the specifically political sense of the term i.e. the right to political secession. The socialist of a ruling or a colonial nation who does not stand for that right is a chauvinist ... In their turn, the socialists of the oppressed nations must unfailingly fight for complete unity of the workers of the oppressed and oppressor nationalities (this including organisational unity). The idea of the juridical separation of one nation from another (the so-called "cultural-national autonomy" advocated by Bauer and Renner - RR) is reactionary.' (`Socialism and War' op cit p316-7)
102. Lenin 'The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination' CW Vol 21 p409.
103. Lenin 'A Deal With the Capitalists or Overthrow of the Capitalists?', CW Vol 24, p517.
104. Lenin ibid.
105. The resolution of the London Conference of the Allied Socialists (14 February 1915) might serve as an example here. It stated: 'While inflexibly resolved to fight until victory is achieved to accomplish this task of liberation, the socialists are none the less resolved to resist any attempt to transform this defensive war into a war of conquest ... On the conclusion of the war the working classes of all the industrial countries must unite in the International in order to suppress secret diplomacy, put an end to the interests of militarism and those of armament makers, and establish some international authority to settle points of difference among the nations by compulsory arbitration and to compel all nations to maintain peace.' (Gankin and Fisher, op cit p279)
106. Marx-Engels: Letter of 4 September 1867.
107. Lenin 'The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self Determination' op cit p410.
108. Lenin 'The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination' CW Vo1 22 p147 (RR's emphasis).
109. Resolution of the Kienthal Conference of 8 May 1916 (Gankin and Fisher op cit p421-2).
110. Lenin 'A Turn in World Politics' CW Vol 23 p267-8.
111. Lenin 'The "Disarmament" Slogan' CW Vol 23 p95-7. Elsewhere Lenin says: 'The war cannot be ended by an "agreement" among the socialists of the various countries, by the "action" ("proclamations": Kundgebungen - IL) of the proletarians of all countries, by the "will" of the peoples, and so forth. All the phrases of this kind ... are nothing but idle, innocent and pious wishes ... All this is Blancism, fond dreams ... ' (`The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution' op cit p66-7).
112. For the text of the resolution, see Gankin and Fisher op cit p73.
113. Ibid p70.
114. Luxemburg R 'The Junius Pamphlet: The Crisis in the German Social Democracy' in Rosa Luxemburg Speaks Pathfinder p329-30 c.f. also the theses of the 'International' group at the Third Zimmerwald Conference (September 1917) - Gankin and Fisher ibid p678.