H. Brandler

The Peace Conference of the Amsterdamers

(December 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 113, 16 December 1922, pp. 946–947.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). 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.

On December 10 the “Peace Conference” convened by the Amsterdam Trade Union International began at the Hague. In its inaugural address it appeals to all those organizations “interested in the maintenance of peace”. The invitation has been sent to the various trade unions of all countries, and to all pacifist organizations, as well as to the Russian trade unions. The manner of the invitation, and the agenda drawn up, characterize this convention as an international exhibition of petty bourgeois pacifist sentimentality and impotence. The agenda reads as follows:

  1. Necessity of concentrating the forces tending to peace upon a single aim, in accordance with the resolutions of the congress at Rome.
  2. What the labor organizations have done for peace, and what they can still do.
  3. What the governments and political organizations have done for peace, and what they can still do.
  4. What can be done by instruction, and by the aid of educational institutions, to permeate the coming generation with the idea of peace.
  5. What can be done by private organizations in the struggle against war.

The revolutionary workers of the world, and really sincere lovers of peace, cannot be warned too emphatically against the treacherous game of these social patriotic and pacifist congresses. The will to peace, living in the proletariat after four years of murder among the peoples, and penetrating far into the circles of the bourgeoisie, is to be lulled to sleep by such international pageantry. However objectionable and counter-revolutionary the ecstasies of “heroic professors” and capitalist politicians may be, when they wax enthusiastic over the glories of war, it must not be forgotten that these are, in a certain sense, more honorable than the shallow petty bourgeois expositions which form the bases of such congresses, and aim at persuading the people that the wholesale murder of war is solely the product of human irrationality, and can be done away with by the proper “exertion of human reason” and by a weak solution of moral peace asseverations. War has its roots in the antagonistic rapacious interests of the nationally organised bourgeoisie just as revolution has its roots in the antagonistic interests of the classes. The brutal war politicians are, to say the least, often possessed of much superior historical understanding than the social patriotic apostles of peace. A professor Otto Höntzsch or a Dellbrück makes the mistake of assuming that the antagonistic interests of the nations are eternal. But Fimmen and Jouhaux make the greater error of either failing to recognize these opposing interests at all, or by failing to grasp the strength of capitalist interests as against all peace speechifying, or, if they grasp this, they still continue to deliver speeches aiming at distracting the working masses from the danger of war, and do so in the interests of their hopeless capitalist reconstruction policy.

The record of the Second International, before the world war, must strike alarm in every sincere friend of peace. But the Amsterdam International goes on manufacturing peace resolutions in the same manner as before the war, just as if there had never been a world war. The one single step forward made by the Rome Congress as compared with Basle is that, besides the Swiss and the Dutch, the Germans too declared themselves prepared to agitate for the general strike as a means of preventing war. As is well known, at the international [congress] at Basle the Germans, under the leadership of August Bebel, rejected the proclamation of the general strike in case of war. At the international trade union congress of the Amsterdamers, held at Rome this year, Robert Williams (England) warned the congress against illusions as to the possibilities of carrying through a general strike. In theory (that is, to keep the workers quiet in the interests of the bourgeoisie) he is in favor of the idea. But he cautiously added that in actual practice there would be difficulties. A sly fox has its plans beforehand. Williams has created a reservation for himself. On the next occasion of betrayal of the working he will be able to quote his own words, and to maintain that in Rome in 1922 he already declared his intention of betraying the workers, and defending his native country in community with the bourgeoisie.

Congresses of this description will continue to be a farce so long as they regard each capitalist war danger as an isolated case and combat it as such. The International of the Amsterdamers and of the petty bourgeois pacifists will continue to be composed of deceived deceivers so long as they devote energy to working towards “normal conditions” of capitalist construction, and refuse to take up any real struggle against capitalism during a period between two wars, but start to combat war when a fresh war has broken out. Really efficient war against war consists solely in an organized and untiring struggle against every expression of capitalist existence, and must be carried out in the “period of peace”. During this “period of peace” capitalism rallies its forces for war. At the moment when a war breaks out. capitalism is invariably at the summit of its power, and the attempt to struggle against war at a time when capitalism is most powerful means taking up a struggle just when it has the least prospect of success.

Efficacious fighting against the danger of war means awakening revolutionary forces, organizing them, and leading them into battle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, for abolishing capitalism, and for building up the socialist state.

As may be seen by the intervention policy of the powers warring against Soviet Russia, the bourgeoisie will combat socialism so long as it possesses a remnant of military power. This fact proves that even after the proletariat has overthrown the bourgeoisie in its own country, it must still possess military forces enabling it to defend itself against the internal and external attempts to re-introduce capitalism. War is the most brutal and cruel form in which the old ruling class fights for its own interest and no amount of pacifist talk can erase the fact that the proletariat too, at the commencement of its struggle, faced with existing conditions, is forced to use these same brutal means in order to ward off its deadly enemy.

The theory and practice of those convening the peace conference at the Hague prove that they entirely fail to recognize any of these hard facts. The bankrupt politicians of capitalist reconstruction want at The Hague, to carry on a sham fight against war and for peace, and hope thus to deceive themselves and the working people of the world as to the actual bankruptcy of their politics.

The Russian trade unions have accepted the invitation. They are certainly under no delusions as to the choice spirits who have arranged a rendezvous at The Hague. The fact that they sent comrades Lozovsky and Radek as delegates guarantees that the meetings will hear some very disagreeable home truths.

The first peace comedy at The Hague was organized by the Tsar Nicolas, when in the year 1898, he was anxious to veil his imperialist designs behind the palm of peace. The social patriots ot Amsterdam, who convene a peace conference at the Hague in 1922 in order to veil the universal bankruptcy of their policy of capitalist reconstruction, have invited the Russians in the hope that these will either decline to come, or permit themselves to be utilized as mere walkers-on. This plan will come to grief, precisely as the plan of Nicolas II, who wanted the prestige of the diplomats of 26 countries, also came to grief.

The pacifism of 1922 is doubtless of greater significance than that of 1898. After years of cruel slaughter, the idea of peace has taken root among the masses. The social patriots seek to keep the idea impotent. It is the task of the revolutionary workers, and above all of the communists, to break up these petty bourgeois pacifist combinations. The Russian delegation will work on these lines. If success attends the attempt to set the latent forces into activity, to give the impetus required to transform petty bourgeois impotence into active revolutionary fighting against capitalism, this will signify bringing broad masses into the struggle towards overthrowing the bourgeoisie and capitalism. The communists of every country must regard this conference of social patriots in this light.

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