We have previously seen that among the entrepreneurs there is a continuous and fierce struggle for buyers, and that the unfailing result of this struggle is the victory of the great entrepreneurs. Hence the lesser capitalists are ruined, so that capital and production as a whole accumulate in the hands of the great capitalists (the concentration and centralization of capital). By the beginning of the eighties in the nineteenth century, the centralization of capital was already far advanced. In place of the individual owners of enterprises there now appeared large numbers of joint-stock enterprises, cooperative concerns; but it must be carefully noted that these 'cooperatives' were companies of capitalist shareholders. What was the significance of this development? Why did joint-stock companies come into existence? It is easy to answer the question. The time had arrived when every new undertaking required the command of a considerable quantity of capital. If an enterprise scantily furnished with capital was founded, its chance of life was poor; on all sides it was surrounded by its more vigorous competitors, by enterprises which were manufacturing on a larger scale. If, therefore, a new enterprise was not to perish in its infancy, if the undertaking was to live and thrive, it had to be built up on strong foundations. But strong foundations could only be provided by those who had plenty of capital. The joint-stock company was the outcome of this need. The essence of the matter is that a few great capitalists make use of the capital of lesser capitalists, and make use also of the savings that have accumulated in the hands of non-capitalistic groups (employees, peasants, civil servants, etc.). Matters are arranged in the following way. Everyone contributes his portion; everyone takes a 'share' or a number of 'shares'. In return for his money he receives a 'share certificate' which gives him the right to receive a definite portion of the income. In this way the accumulation of small sums promptly gives rise to a large quantity of 'jointstock capital'.
When joint-stock companies first came into existence, certain bourgeois theorists, and in addition certain socialist advocates of class collaboration, began to assure the world that a new era was beginning. Capitalism, they declared, was not destined to result in the dominion of a small group of capitalists. Far from this; out of his savings every worker would be able to buy shares, and in this way every worker would become a capitalist. Capital, they said, was to an increasing extent being 'democratized'; in course of time, the difference between the capitalists and the workers would disappear without any revolution.
Of course this was utter nonsense. Things worked out very differently. The great capitalists simply made use of the lesser capitalists for their own purposes. The centralization of capital went on more rapidly than ever, now that competition had taken the form of a struggle between huge shareholding concerns.
It is easy to understand how the great capitalist shareholders have been able to make the small shareholders their hodmen. The small shareholder often lives in another town from that in which the enterprise is centred, and cannot travel a hundred miles or more to attend a shareholders' meeting. Even when some of the ordinary shareholders turn up at the meeting, they are unorganized, and merely jostle one another like blind puppies. But the big shareholders are organized. They have a common plan; they can do what they please. Experience has shown that it suffices the great capitalist to own one-third of all the shares, for this gives him absolute control of the whole undertaking.
But the development of the concentration and centralization of capital was to advance still further. During the last few decades the place of individual enterprises and individual shareholding companies has largely been taken by great capitalist combines known as syndicates, cartels, and trusts. Why have these been formed? What is their significance?
Let us suppose that in a certain branch of production, textiles or engineering, for instance, the lesser capitalists have already disappeared. There remain only five or six huge firms, shareholding companies, producing nearly all the commodities in these particular branches of enterprise. They are carrying on a cut-throat competition; they lower prices, and consequently make smaller profits. Let us now suppose that two of these concerns are larger and stronger than the others. Then these two will continue the struggle until their rivals have been ruined. Let us further suppose that the strength of the two remaining competitors is practically identical; they work on a similar scale, they have the same sort of machinery, and they both employ about the same number of workers; there is no notable difference between them as regards the net cost of production. What will happen then? Neither can gain the victory; both are being exhausted by the struggle; neither of them is making any profit. The capitalist groups draw the same conclusion. Why, they ask themselves, should we go on cutting prices against one another? Would it not be better for us to unite, to join forces in order to fleece the public? If we combine, there will be no more competition; we shall control the market, and we can force up prices to any figure we please.
Thus arises the combine, the league of capitalists, known as the syndicate or trust. The syndicate is distinguished from the trust in this way. When a syndicate is organized, the participating concerns agree that they will not sell their wares below a specified price; or they agree to share out the orders; or they agree to a territorial division of the market (you confine your sales to one district, and I will confine mine to another); and so on. In this arrangement, however, the management of the syndicate is not entitled to close down any of the undertakings; these are all members of a league in which each retains a certain measure of independence. In the trust, on the other hand, there is so intimate a union that each individual undertaking completely loses its independence; the management of the trust can close it down, reconstruct it, transfer it to another place, do whatever seems likely to be advantageous to the trust as a whole. The owner of the individual undertaking of course continues to receive his profits regularly, and these profits may even be larger than before; but the entire management is vested in the solidly constructed capitalist combine, the trust.
Syndicates and trusts exercise an almost complete control over the market. They no longer fear competition, for they have crushed competition. Its place has been taken by capitalist monopoly, that is to say, by the dominion of a single trust.1)
In this way the concentration and centralization of capital gradually lead to the suppression of competition. Competition has devoured itself. The more frantic the development of capitalism, the quicker did centralization proceed, because the ruin of the weaker capitalists was more speedily effected. In the end the centralization of capital, arising out of competition, proved fatal to competition. 'FREE COMPETITION' HAS BEEN REPLACED BY THE DOMINION OF CAPITALIST COMBINES, BY THE RULE OF SYNDICATES AND TRUSTS.
A few examples may be given, to show the enormous power wielded by trusts and syndicates. In the United States as long ago as 1900, that is to say in the very beginning of the twentieth century, the proportion of production in the hands of syndicates and trusts was as follows: Textiles, more than 50 per cent; glass, 54 per cent; paper, 60 per cent; metals (excluding iron and steel), 84 per cent; iron and steel 84 per cent; chemicals, 81 per cent; etc. It need hardly be said that during the last two decades the power of the combines has enormously increased. In actual fact, the whole industrial production of the US is today controlled by two trusts, the Standard Oil Trust and the Steel Trust; all the other trusts are dependents of these. In Germany, in the year 1913, 92.6 per cent of the coal mined in the Rhenish-Westphalian region was in the hands of a single syndicate; of all the steel produced within the German empire, nearly half was manufactured by the Steel Syndicate; the Sugar Trust supplied 70 per cent of the home demand and 80 per cent of the export demand.
Even in Russia quite a number of branches of industry had already passed completely under the sway of the syndicates. 'Produgol' produced 60 per cent of the Donetz coal; 'Prodameta' [metal syndicate] controlled 88 to 93 per cent of the production; 'Krovlya' supplied 60 per cent of all the iron used for roofing; 'Prodwagon' was a syndicate of about 15 concerns building railway carriages; the Copper Syndicate controlled 90 per cent of the output of copper; the Sugar Syndicate controlled the entire production of sugar; and so on. According to the calculations of a Swiss expert, at the beginning of the twentieth century half the capital of the world was already in the hands of trusts or syndicates..
Syndicates and trusts do not only centralize homogeneous enterprises. With increasing frequency there arise trusts that simultaneously embrace several branches of production. How does this take place?
The various branches of production are connected one with another principally by means of buying and selling. Let us consider the production of iron ore and of coal. Here we have to do with products which serve as raw material for iron foundries and engineering workshops; in their turn these workshops turn out, let us suppose, machines; the machines serve as means of production in a series of other branches; and so on. Now let us imagine that we have an iron foundry. It buys iron ore and coal. Of course the interest of the smelting works is to buy the ore and the coal as cheaply as possible. But what if the ore and the coal are in the hands of another syndicate? There then begins a struggle between the two syndicates, which ends either in the victory of one of them or else in a fusion of the two. In either event there arises a new syndicate, uniting both branches of production. It is obvious that such a union can be effected in the case, not merely of two, but of three or of ten branches of production. Such enterprises are termed ' compound' (or 'combined') enterprises.
In this manner syndicates and trusts do more than organize individual branches of production; they consolidate into a single organization various kinds of production, uniting one branch with a second, a third, a fourth, etc. Formerly, in all branches, the entrepreneurs were independent of one another, and the whole work of production was dispersed in a hundred thousand petty factories. By the beginning of the twentieth century, production was already concentrated in the hands of huge trusts, each organizing many branches of production.
Unions of individual branches of production came about in another way besides that of the formation of 'combined' enterprises. The reader must now consider a phenomenon which is of even greater importance than 'combined' enterprises. We refer to the dominion of the banks.
First of all it is necessary to say a few words about banks.
It has already been pointed out that when the concentration and centralization of capital had advanced to a considerable degree, there arose a need for capital which could be employed for the immediate establishment of large-scale enterprises. This need was one of the causes of the development of jointstock companies. The organization of new enterprises required larger and ever larger quantities of capital.
Now let us consider what the capitalist does with the profit he receives. We know that he spends part of it upon his own immediate needs, in the way of food, clothing, and so on; the remainder, he ' saves'. The question arises, How does he do this? Is it possible for him at any moment to expand his business, to devote the 'saved' part of his profits to this purpose? No, he cannot do so, for this reason. Money flows in continually, but only in driblets. The commodities he produces are sold from time to time, and from time to time money is received for them. Evidently, that he may use these receipts for the expansion of his enterprise, the accumulation of a considerable sum is requisite. He will therefore have to wait until he has secured as much money as he needs - let us suppose that it is for the purchase of new machinery. And until then, what is he to do? Till then he cannot use the money. It lies idle. This does not happen to one or to two capitalists merely; at one time or another it happens to all. Free capital is constantly available. We have, however, pointed out before that there is a demand for capital. On the one hand there are superfluous sums lying idle; on the other hand there is a need for these sums. The more rapid the centralization of capital, the more vigorous is the demand for large sums of capital, but the greater likewise is the quantity of free capital. It is this state of affairs which gives the banks their importance. The capitalist, not wishing his money to lie idle, puts it in the bank, and the bank lends it to those who need it for the development of old enterprises or for the starting of new undertakings. Certain manufacturers deposit money in the bank, and the bank lends the money to other manufacturers. These latter, with the aid of the borrowed capital, extract surplus value. Part of their receipts is paid to the bank as interest. The bank then pays a portion of this last sum to its depositors, and keeps the rest as banking profits. Thus the machine grinds on. We can now understand why, during the latest phase of the capitalist régime, the role of the banks, their importance, and their activity, have expanded to a marvellous degree. The sums of capital sucked up by the banks are continually increasing. And to an increasing extent the banks invest capital in industry. Banking capital is ever ' at work' in industry; it undergoes conversion into industrial capital. Industry grows dependent on the banks, which support it and nourish it with capital. Banking capital coalesces with industrial capital. Here we have the form of capital which is known as financial capital. To summarize, FINANCIAL CAPITAL IS BANKING CAPITAL WHICH HAS BEEN GRAFTED ON INDUSTRIAL CAPITAL.
Through the instrumentality of the banks, financial capital effects a yet more intimate union of all branches of industry than was effected by the direct combination of enterprises. Why is this?
Let us suppose that we have before us a great bank. This great bank supplies with capital (or, as the phrase runs, 'finances') not merely one, but a large number of enterprises, or quite a number of syndicates. It is naturally to the bank's interest that,these financial dependents should not clash one with another. The bank unites them all. Its persistent policy is to bring about an actual union of the undertakings into a whole which shall be under its own administration. The bank begins to hold the reins in quite a series of branches of industry. Its confidential agents are appointed directors of trusts, syndicates, and individual undertakings.
Thus in the end we arrive at the following picture. THE INDUSTRY OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS UNITED INTO SYNDICATES, TRUSTS, AND COMBINED ENTERPRISES. ALL THESE ARE UNITED BY BANKS. AT THE HEAD OF THE WHOLE ECONOMIC LIFE THERE IS A SMALL GROUP OF GREAT BANKERS WHO ADMINISTER INDUSTRY IN ITS ENTIRETY. THE GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY SIMPLY FULFILS THE WILL OF THESE BANKERS AND TRUST MAGNATES.
This is very well shown in the United States. Here the 'democratic' administration of President Wilson is nothing more than a servant of the trusts. Congress merely carries out what has previously been decided at secret conclaves of trust magnates and bankers. The trusts spend vast sums in buying congressmen, in financing electoral campaigns, and the like. Myers, an American writer, reports that in the year 1904, the great life insurance companies spent the following sums in bribes: the Mutual, $364,254; the Equitable, $172,698; the New York, $204,019. The minister for finance, McAdoo, Wilson's sonin-law, is one of the leading bank and trust magnates. Senators, ministers of State, congressmen, are merely the henchmen of the great trusts, unless they themselves hold large interests in these bodies. The State authority, the governmental machinery of the 'free republic', is nothing more than a workshop for the fleecing of the public.
We can therefore say that A CAPITALIST COUNTRY UNDER THE DOMINION OF FINANCIAL CAPITAL IS AS A WHOLE TRANSFORMED INTO AN IMMENSE COMBINED TRUST. AT THE HEAD OF THIS TRUST ARE THE BANKS. THE BOURGEOIS GOVERNMENT FORMS ITS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. The United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, etc., are nothing but State capitalist trusts, powerful organizations of trust magnates and bankers, exploiting and ruling hundreds of millions of wage slaves.
In individual countries the effect of the sway of financial capital is, in a certain measure, to put an end to the anarchy of capitalist production. The various producers, who have hitherto been fighting one another, now join forces in a State capitalist trust.
But what happens in this case to one of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism? We have said more than once that capitalism will inevitably break down because of its lack of organization and because it is affected by the class struggle. Now if one or these two contradictions (see §13) is invalid, may it not be that the prediction concerning the collapse of capitalism has no foundation?
The point we chiefly have to consider is this. In actual fact the anarchy of production and competition has not ceased. Or perhaps it would be better to say that it ceases in one place to break out worse than ever in another. Let us endeavour to explain the matter in detail.
Contemporary capitalism is world capitalism. All the countries are interconnected; they buy one from another. We cannot now find any country which is not under the heel of capitalism; we cannot find any country which produces for itself absolutely everything it needs.
There are numerous articles which can only be produced in certain places. Oranges do not grow in a cold country; whereas iron ore cannot be obtained from a country which has no deposits of it beneath the soil. Coffee, cocoa, and rubber are grown only in warm climates. Cotton is grown in the United States, India, Egypt, Turkestan, etc.; from these lands it is exported to all parts of the world. Coal is found in Britain, Germany, the United States, Austria, and Russia; but there is no coal in Italy, and Italy is entirely dependent upon supplies of British and German coal. Wheat is exported to all other countries from the United States, India, Russia, and Rumania.
On the other hand, certain countries are far advanced in their development, whilst others are backward. As a result of this, various products of urban industry in the more advanced lands are marketed in the backward countries. England, the United States, and Germany, in particular, send iron goods to all parts of the world. Germany is the chief exporter of chemical products.
Thus each country is dependent on the others; each sells to the others or buys from the others. How far this dependence can go, we may learn from the example of Britain. From three-fourths to four-fifths of the wheat needed by that country and half of the meat are imported, and in return for this the greater part of the goods produced in British factories has to be exported.
Let us now ask ourselves whether financial capital puts an end to competition in the world market. Does it create a worldwide organization in virtue of the fact that it unites the capitalists in individual countries? Obviously this is not the case. The anarchy of production and of competition within each specific country ceases more or less completely because the individual entrepreneurs unite to form a State capitalist trust. All the fiercer grows the struggle between the various State capitalist trusts. This is what always happens when capital is centralized. When the small fry are ruined, then of course the number of competitors diminishes, for only the big fish are left. Among these latter, the struggle is now conducted upon a larger scale; instead of a fight between individual manufacturers, there ensues a fight between the trusts. Of course the number of the trusts is less than the number of the individual manufacturers. The struggle, therefore, has become fiercer and more destructive. When the capitalists in any particular country have defeated their lesser opponents and have organized themselves into a State capitalist trust, the number of competitors is still further reduced. For the competitors are now these titanic capitalist powers. Such competition involves expenditure and waste upon an unprecedented scale. The fight between the State capitalist trusts expresses itself during 'peace' time in the rivalry of armaments. Ultimately it leads to a devastating war.
Thus, WHEREAS FINANCIAL CAPITAL PUTS AN END TO COMPETITION WITHIN THE INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES, in due course and when the time is ripe, IT GIVES RISE TO A FIERCE AND EMBITTERED COMPETITION BETWEEN THE VARIOUS STATES.
How does this come about? Why, moreover, does competition between capitalist countries lead in the end to an annexationist policy and to war? Why cannot the competition be peaceful? When two manufacturers compete with one another, they do not attack one another with knives, but attempt to steal one another's custom by peaceful methods. Why, then, should competition in the world market assume so savage a form? Why should the competitors have recourse to arms? To these questions we must give a detailed answer.
First of all we must consider why it was necessary that the policy of the bourgeoisie should undergo a change concurrently with the transition from the old capitalism in which free competition prevailed, to the new capitalism in which financial capital holds sway.
Let us begin with the so-called tariff policy. In the international struggle, the bourgeois governmental authorities, each aiming at the protection of its own capitalists, have long since adopted the use of customs tariffs as a means of struggle. When, for example, the Russian textile manufacturers were afraid that their British or German competitors would introduce British or German textiles into Russia and would cut prices, the Russian government was accommodating enough to impose an import duty upon British and German textiles. Of course this hindered the import of foreign products into Russia. Manufacturers usually declare that tariffs are necessary for the encouragement of home industry. If, however, we study the tariff policies of the various countries, we can see that the real aim was very different. During the last few decades, the countries in which the capitalists have raised the greatest clamour for high import tariffs, the countries in which such tariffs have been imposed, are the greatest and strongest countries in the world. The United States has led in this movement. Could foreign competition possibly injure these countries? 'What are you making such a row about, John? Who is hurting you? You are the aggressor!'
What is the real meaning of all this? Let us suppose that in a certain country the textile industry has been monopolized by syndicates or trusts. What happens if an import duty is imposed? The syndicated capitalists kill two birds with one stone. In the first place they free themselves from foreign competition. Secondly, to the buyers of their own land, they are able to raise prices by an amount nearly equal to that of the tariff. Suppose the import duty on textiles to be two shillings per yard. In that case the textile magnates need have no hesitation in adding two shillings, or at least is 9d, per yard to the price of their goods. If the industry were not syndicated, the internal competition between the capitalists of the country we are considering would immediately lead to price cutting. But if there is a syndicate in control, it has no difficulty in raising prices, for the foreigner is kept out of the market by the customs barrier, and owing to the syndication of the industry there is no competition in the homeland. In so far as there are any imports, the State revenue benefits, while the syndicated manufacterers secure additional surplus value in consequence of the enhanced price. This can only take place where there is a syndicate or trust. But that is not the end of the affair. Thanks to these surplus profits, the syndicated manufacturers are able to introduce their goods into other countries and to sell them there below cost price simply in order to supplant all competitors in those countries. This is what they have actually done. It is a matter of common knowledge that the Russian Sugar Syndicate kept the price of sugar in Russia comparatively high, while selling sugar in England at a ridiculously low price in the hope of destroying competitors in that country. The saying became current that in England pigs were fed on Russian sugar. Thus the syndicated manufacturers, aided by the tariffs, are able at one and the same time to fleece their own countrymen and to bring foreign customers under their sway.
The consequences are of great importance. It is obvious that the surplus profits of the syndicate will increase proportionally with the increase in the number of sheep to be shorn, with the increase in the number of those who are penned within the tariff barriers. If the customs area be a small one, the opportunity for profit-making will also be small. If, on the other hand, the customs area be large and populous, the opportunities for profit-making will be correspondingly extensive. In that case the surplus profits will be very large, so that it will be possible to act boldly in the world market, and to act there with the hope of a 'substantial success. Now, the customs area usually coincides with the area administered by the State. How can this latter be enlarged? By grabbing some foreign territory, by annexing it, by including it within one's own frontiers, within one's own governmental area. But this means war. It means that the dominion of syndicates is inevitably associated with wars of conquest. Every robber capitalist State endeavours to extend its frontiers; the extension is demanded by the interests of the trust magnates, by the interests of financial capital. Now, he who talks of extending frontiers really talks of waging war.
In this manner, the tariff policy of the syndicate and trust magnates, in conjunction with their policy in the world market, leads to violent collisions. But here there are at work, tending towards war, additional causes.
We have seen that the development of production results in the continuous accumulation of surplus value. In every land of advanced capitalist development there is therefore continually expanding a mass of superfluous capital which returns less profit than in comparatively backward countries. The larger the accumulation of superfluous capital in any country, the more vigorous are the endeavours to export capital, to invest it abroad. This aim is preeminently favoured by tariff policy. In fact, import duties greatly hinder the import of goods, When, for instance, the Russian manufacturers imposed high duties upon German goods, it became difficult for the German manufacturers to introduce their products into Russia. (We are speaking, of course, of things that happened when the manufacturers were in power, before the days of the Soviet Government.)
But when they found it difficult to export their goods to Russia, another way was opened to the German capitalists. They began to introduce their capital into Russia. They built factories there; they bought shares in Russian undertakings, or they started new enterprises, supplying these with capital. Did the duties offer any hindrance? Nothing of the kind. Far from being a hindrance, they were a help; they positively promoted the influx of capital. For this reason. When the German capitalist has a factory in Russia, and when he too becomes a member of the 'Russian' syndicate, of course the Russian tariff helps him to earn surplus profit. The import duties are just as useful to him in fleecing the Russian public as they are to his Russian colleagues.
Capital moves from one country into another not only in order to found new enterprises in the latter or to support those which already exist. In many cases the introduction of capital takes the form of a loan to the government of the country into which the capital is introduced, a loan at a fixed rate of interest. This means that the borrowing government increases its national debt, becomes indebted to the lending government. In such cases the debtor government usually undertakes to float all loans (and especially war loans) among the industrials of the creditor State. Thus vast quantities of capital pass from one State to another, partly incorporated in buildings and manufacturing enterprises, and partly taking the forms of State loans. Under the dominion of financial capital, the export of capital attains gigantic proportions.
We will give certain figures which can still teach us a great deal, although they are a trifle out of date. In the year 1902, France had in twenty-six foreign States investments to the approximate amount of thirty-five milliards of francs: about half of the sum was in the form of State loans. The lion's share had gone to Russia (ten milliards). Parenthetically we may remark that this is why the French bourgeoisie is so furious because we Russians have cancelled the tsarist debts and have refused to pay the French usurers. By the year 1905 the sum of foreign capital imported into Russia had already exceeded forty milliards. In the year 1911 the foreign investments of Britain amounted to about sixteen hundred million pounds sterling; but if we include loans to the British colonies the sum invested overseas by the British amounted to three thousand million pounds sterling. Germany, prior to the war, had foreign investments amounting to something like thirty-five milliards of marks. - In a word, every capitalist government exports vast quantities of capital, in order, with the aid of this capital, to plunder foreign countries.
Moreover, the export of capital entails important consequences. The various powerful States begin to compete for the possession of those territorial areas or lesser States to which they wish to export capital. But here is another point to which we must draw attention. When capitalists export capital to a 'foreign' land, the risk involved is not that of certain quantities of commodities, but that of immense sums of money running into millions and milliards. Evidently, therefore, there will arise a strong desire to take completely into their hands the lesser countries in which they have invested capital, and to send armies to protect this capital. In the exporting States there thus arises the aspiration to subject these territories to their own governmental authorities, to do so at all hazards, simply to conquer them, to annex them by force. There ensues on the part of various strong, plundering States a competitive invasion of the weak territories, and it is clear that in the long run the marauders must come into mutual collision. Such clashes have actually taken place. In consequence, the export of capital has led to war.
We have now some additional points to consider. With the growth of syndicates and the introduction of tariffs, the struggle for markets becomes greatly intensified. Already by the close of the nineteenth century there was no longer to be found any territory which remained quite free for the export of goods, or any region on which the capitalist had not yet set his foot. A great rise in the price of raw materials was beginning; metals, wool, timber, coal, and cotton were all growing dearer. During the years immediately preceding the war, there had been a fierce scramble for markets and a struggle for new sources of raw materials. The capitalists were nosing all over the world in quest of new coal mines, and new deposits of ore; they were hunting for new markets to which they could export the produce of their metal works, their weaving mills, and other factories; they wanted a new, a 'fresh' public to plunder. In former days, often enough, the competitors in any country consisted of firms whose competition was 'peaceful'; they remained on tolerably good terms. Under the sway of the banks and the trusts, a great change has taken place. Let us suppose that new deposits of copper have been discovered. They are immediately seized by a bank or a trust, which gets them wholly into its power, monopolizes them. The capitalists of other countries are left to console themselves with the adage: ' It's no use crying over spilt milk'. The same considerations apply to the struggle for markets. Let us suppose that capital from afar finds its way to a remote colony. The sale of goods is thereupon organized on the grand scale. The business usually falls into the hands of one gigantic firm. Opening branches in the place, it exercises pressure upon the local authorities, endeavouring in this way, and by a thousand wiles and stratagems, to corner the market, to secure a monopoly, to exclude all competitors. It is obvious that monopolist capital and the magnates of trusts and syndicates must act after their kind. We are not living in the ' good old times', but in an age of war between monopolist thieves and plunderers.
Inevitably, therefore, CONCURRENTLY WITH THE GROWTH OF FINANCIAL CAPITAL THERE MUST OCCUR A GREAT INTENSIFICATION OF THE STRUGGLE FOR MARKETS AND RAW MATERIALS, AND THIS CANNOT FAIL TO LEAD TO VIOLENT COLLISIONS.
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century the great robber States ruthlessly seized numerous regions belonging to lesser nations. Between 1876 and 1914 the so-called Great Powers annexed approximately ten million square miles of territory. In other words, they grabbed territory the total area of which is twice as large as that of Europe. The whole world had been partitioned among the big robbers; all other countries have become their colonies, their tributaries, or their slaves.
Here are some examples. Great Britain since 1870 has annexed in Asia: Beluchistan, Burma, Wei-hai-wei, and the mainland adjacent to Hong-Kong; she has enlarged the Straits Settlements; she has acquired Cyprus and British North Borneo. In Australasia and Oceania she has annexed a number of islands, has occupied the eastern part of New Guinea, has annexed a great part of the Solomon Islands, the island of Tonga, etc. Her new possessions in Africa are: Egypt, the northern Soudan, Uganda, Eastern Equatorial Africa, British Somaliland, Zanzibar and Pemba. She has swallowed up the two Boer republics, has occupied Rhodesia and British Central Africa, has annexed Nigeria, and so on, and so on.
France, since 1870, has acquired Annam; conquered Tonkin; annexed Laos, Tunis, Madagascar, large portions of Sahara, Soudan, and the Guinea coast; has acquired areas on the Ivory Coast, in Dahomey, in Somaliland, etc. As a result, at the opening of the twentieth century the French colonies had an area which was nearly twenty times that of the mother country. (The British colonies at this date were more than one hundred times the size of the mother country.)
Germany began to participate in the game of grab somewhat later, towards 1884; but within a brief time she was able to secure a considerable share of the spoil.
Tsarist Russia has likewise pursued a robber policy on a large scale. Of late years this was principally directed towards Asia, and here a collision with Japan ensued, for Japan was trying to plunder Asia from the other side.
The United States annexed numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea, and subsequently practised an annexationist policy on the American continent. Her attitude towards Mexico has been extremely threatening.
In the year 1914 the homeland territories of the six Great Powers amounted in all to about six million square miles. The total area of their colonial possessions at the same date was approximately thirty million square miles.
It need hardly be said that in the first instance such robberies were effected at the expense of the lesser countries, of those that were unprotected and weak. They were the first to be ruined. Just as in the struggle between the manufacturers and the independent artisans the latter were the first to succumb, so here. The great State trusts, the great capitalists organized for robbery, began by smashing the lesser governments and seizing their possessions. In the world economy, the centralization of capital advanced along the familar lines; the lesser States were ruined while the large robber States grew richer, larger, and more powerful.
As soon as they had annexed the whole world, they began to struggle more fiercely among themselves. It was inevitable that the brigands should now quarrel over the loot, should fight for a redistribution of the world. Giant robber States remained, and a life-anddeath combat was to ensue among these survivors.
THE POLICY OF CONQUEST WHICH FINANCIAL CAPITAL PURSUES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR MARKETS, FOR THE SOURCES OF RAW MATERIAL, AND FOR PLACES IN WHICH CAPITAL CAN BE INVESTED, IS KNOWN AS IMPERIALISM. Imperialism is born of financial capital. Just as a tiger cannot live upon grass, so financial capital cannot exist without a policy of conquest, spoliation, violence, and war. The essential desire of every one of the financial capitalist State trusts is to dominate the world; to establish a world empire, wherein the small group of capitalists belonging to the victorious nations shall hold undivided sway. The British imperialist, for example, dreams of a 'Greater Britain' which shall rule the whole world a world in which British trust magnates shall command the labour of Negroes and Russians, Germans and Chinese, Hindus and Armenians, slaves of all colours, black, white, yellow, and red. Britain is not far from the attainment of this ideal. But the more she grabs, the more she wants. The same thing happens with the imperialists of other nations. Russian imperialists dream of a 'Greater Russia'; German imperialists dream of a 'Greater Germany'; and so on. By these 'great' ones, there is of course practised a shameless spoliation of all the rest.
In this manner, therefore, the reign of financial capital must inevitably hurl all mankind into the bloody abyss of a war for the benefit of bankers and trust magnates; a war which is not fought for a people's own land but for the plunder of other lands; a war that is waged in order that the world may be subjugated by the financial capital of the conquering country. Such was the nature of the first great world war, during the years 1914 to 1918.
The rule of financial capital, of the bank barons and the trust magnates, finds expression in another phenomenon of the utmost importance, namely, in the unprecedented growth of expenditure on armaments - upon army, navy, and air force. The reason for this is obvious. In earlier days no brigand ever dreamed of world dominion. Now, however, the thoughts of the imperialists are seriously turned in this direction. Never before was there a contest between such monstrously strong State trusts. It is as an outcome of this new situation that the States have armed to the teeth. The Great Powers, professional robbers, kept their eyes on one another, for each dreaded lest his neighbour should attack him in W e rear. Every Great Power finds it necessary to maintain an army, not only for colonial service, not only for the repression of the workers, but in addition for the fight with fellow brigands. If any of the Powers introduces some new system of armaments, the other Powers eagerly endeavour to outdo the advance, for they fear to be left behind in the race. Thus ensues a mad rivalry in armaments, each State trying to outdo the rest. Gigantic enterprises are formed, the trusts of the cannon kings - Putilov, Krupp, Armstrong, Vickers, etc. The armament trusts make enormous profits; they are in league with the general staffs of the armies; they endeavour to throw fuel on the flames, to promote opportunities for conflict, seeing that the size of their profits depends upon war.
Such was the crazy picture presented by capitalist society just before the great war. The State trusts were bristling with bayonets; on land, at sea, and in the air, everything had been made ready for the world struggle; in the various national budgets, the military and naval estimates assumed an ever larger place. In Britain, for example, in 1875 the expenditure for war purposes comprised 386 per cent of the annual estimates for all purposes, this being not much more than one-third; by 1907-8, the proportion had risen to 486 per cent, nearly half. In the USA, the proportion of national expenditure upon war purposes for the year 1908 was 569 per cent, this being considerably more than half. It was the same in other lands. ' Prussian militarism' flourished in all the great State trusts. The armament kings were filling their treasuries. The whole world was hastening at an accelerating pace towards the bloodiest of all wars, towards the world war of imperialism.
Of exceptional interest was the armament rivalry between the British and the German bourgeoisies. In the year 1912 England decided to lay down three superdreadnoughts for every two laid down by Germany. In 1913, according to the naval estimates, the German North Sea fleet was to contain 17 dreadnoughts as against 21 British dreadnoughts; in 1916 the number was to be 26 German and 36 British; and so on.
The expenditure upon army and navy increased as follows:
In the course of 20 years the expenditure had been doubled; in the case of Japan it had been multiplied by 13. The armament dance became even more lively shortly before the war. France expended for war purposes £450,000,000 in 1910, and £74,000,000 in 1914. Germany spent £47,800,000 in 1906, and £94,300,000 in 1914; that is to say, the expenditure was doubled in eight years. Even more extraordinary was the British expenditure. In 1900 this amounted to £49,900,000 ; in 1910 it was already £69,400,000 ; in 1914, the figures were £80,000,000. In the year 1913 the naval expenditure of Britain alone amounted to a larger sum than the total of what all the Powers had spent upon their fleets in 1886. As regards tsarist Russia, in the year 1892 the country spent upon armaments £29,300,000; in 1902, £42,100,000; in 1906, £52,900,000. In the year 1914 the Russian war budget amounted to £97,500,000.
Expenditure upon war purposes swallowed an enormous proportion of the national revenue. In the case of Russia, for example, one-third of the budgeted sum was devoted to armaments indeed, if we take loans into account, the proportion was even greater. Here are the figures. For every £100 spent in tsarist Russia, there were spent:
|Upon army, navy, and interest on loans||40.14|
|Upon education||3.86||(13th part)|
|Upon agriculture||4.06||(10th part)|
|Upon administration, justice, diplomacy, railway service, industry and commerce, department of finance etc.||51.94|
The budgets of other States were of the same character. Look at 'democratic' Britain, for instance. In the year 1904, for every £100 spent, there were spent:
|Upon army and navy||53.8||In all 76.3|
|Upon interest upon National Debt and upon sinking funds||22.5|
|Upon civil service generally||23.7|
It was inevitable that the imperialist policy of the 'Great Powers' should sooner or later bring them into collison. Indisputably, the game of grab played by all the 'Great Powers' was the real cause of the war. Only an idiot can continue to believe that the war took place because the Serbs killed the Austrian crown prince or because the Germans invaded Belgium. At the outset, there was much dispute as to who was responsible for the catastrophe. The German capitalists maintained that Russia was the aggressor, whereas the Russians proclaimed everywhere that Germany began it. In Britain the word went round that the British had entered the struggle on behalf of 'gallant little Belgium'. In France, everyone was writing, screaming, and singing to prove how gloriously France was behaving in defence of the heroic Belgian nation. Simultaneously in Austria and Germany it was being trumpeted that these two countries were repelling a Cossack invasion and were waging a purely defensive war.
From first to last, this was all nonsense; it was a fraud upon the workers. The fraud was necessary to enable the bourgeoisie to force their soldiers into battle. It was not the first time that the bourgeoisie had used such methods. We have previously seen that the trust magnates introduced high tariffs in order that, while plundering their fellowcountrymen, they could more readily conquer the foreign market. For them, therefore, the customs duties were a means of attack. But the bourgeoisie insisted that the duties were imposed in order to protect home industry. The same thing happened in the case of the war. The essence of the imperialist war which was to subject the world to the yoke of financial capital lay in this, that in it all were aggressors. Today this is as clear as clear can be. The lackeys of tsardom declared that they were defending themselves. But when the November revolution opened the ministerial archives and when the secret treaties were published, documentary evidence was furnished that both the tsar and Kerensky, in concert with the British and the French, were carrying on the war for the sake of the spoils, that they wanted to seize Constantinople, to plunder Turkey and Persia, and to steal Galicia from Austria. These things are now as plain as that two and two make four.
The German imperialists were also in the end unmasked. Think of the Brest-Litovsk treaty; think of the plunderings in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Finland. The German revolution has likewise led to many disclosures. We have learned from documentary evidence that Germany was ready to attack for the sake of loot, and that she had designed to seize vast quantities of foreign territories and colonies. What about the 'noble' Allies? They, too, have been fully unmasked. No one can believe in their nobility after the Versailles treaty. They have stripped Germany bare; they have demanded a war indemnity of twelve and a half milliards; they have taken the whole German fleet and all the German colonies; they have seized most of the locomotives and the milch cows as earnest for the indemnity. They have ravaged Russia in the north and in the south. They, too, have been fighting for plunder.
The communist bolsheviks said all this at the very outset of the war. But at that time few believed them. Today, everyone outside a lunatic asylum can see that it is true. Financial capital is a greedy and bloodthirsty robber, no matter what the nationality of the capitalists may be. It is all the same whether they are Russians, Germans, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Japanese, or Americans.
We see, then, that when we are talking of the imperialist war it is absurd to say that one imperialist is guilty and that another is blameless, to say that some imperialists were the aggressors and that others were on the defensive. All such assertions are made only in order to fool the workers. In actual fact, the Powers had all begun with aggressions upon the lesser peoples in whose lands they established their colonies; they all entertained designs of world-wide plunder; in every land alike the capitalists hoped to subject the whole world to the financial capital of their own country.
Once it had started, the war could not fail to be a world war. The reason is plain. Almost all the world had been partitioned among the 'Great Powers', and the Powers were intimately connected by the ties of a world-wide economic system. It is not surprising, therefore, that the war should involve all countries, should affect both hemispheres.
Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Russia, Germany, AustriaHungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania, Montenegro, Japan, the United States, China, and a dozen petty States, were drawn into the bloody vortex. The total population of the world is somewhere near fifteen hundred millions. The whole of this vast population suffered directly or indirectly from the miseries of the war, which was imposed upon them by a small group of capitalist criminals. Never before had the world seen such immense armies as were now marshalled, never before has it known such monstrous instruments of death and destruction. Nor had the world ever witnessed such an irresistible mass of capital. Britain and France forced into the service of their money-bags, not only those who were British and French by birth, but to addition the thousands upon thousands of blackskinned and yellow-skinned colonial slaves. The civilized robbers did not hesitate to enrol cannibals among their soldiery, when cannibals were forthcoming. All this was done in the name of the most exalted ideals.
The war of 1914 had its prototypes in the colonial wars. Of this character were the following: the campaigns of the 'civilized' Powers against China; the Spanish-American war; the RussoJapanese war in the year 1904 (on account of Korea, Port Arthur, Manchuria, etc.); the Tripolitan campaign of Italy in 1912; the Boer war at the turn of the century, when 'democratic' England brutally crushed the two South African republics. There were several occasions when a gigantic international conflagration threatened. The partition of Africa nearly led to war between Britain and France (the Fashoda incident). Germany and France were embroiled over Morocco. Tsarist Russia at one time almost went to war with Britain in connexion with the partition of Central Asia.
At the beginning of the world war, the conflict of interests between England and Germany concerning territorial predominance in Africa, Asia Minor, and the Balkans, came to the front. Events worked out in this way, that the allies of Britain were, first of all France, which hoped to wrest Alsace-Lorraine from Germany, and secondly Russia, in search of profiteering opportunities in the Balkans and Galicia. The robber imperialism of Germany secured its chief ally in Austria-Hungary. American imperialism entered the conflict comparatively late, after watching for a time how the European Powers were exhausting themselves by their struggles.
In addition to militarism, one of the most abominable methods employed in the rivalry between the imperialist Powers is secret diplomacy, which avails itself of secret treaties and plots, and which does not shrink from the use of the assassin's knife and the dynamiter's bomb. The real aims of the imperialist war were embodied in the secret treaties between Britain, France, and Russia, on the one hand, and between Germany, AustriaHungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria, on the other. It is manifest that secret agents of the Entente were privy to the assassination of the Austrian crown prince, which occurred five weeks before the war. On the other hand, German diplomacy was by no means disconcerted by the murder. For example, Rohrbach, the German imperialist, wrote: 'We may deem ourselves fortunate that the great anti-German conspiracy declared itself before the appointed time through the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand. Two years later, the war would have been far more difficult.' The German provocative agents would have been perfectly willing to murder the German crown prince in order to bring about the war; nor would British, French, or Russian secret agents have shrunk from the assassination of this same prince.
The conduct of the imperialist war was differentiated from that of all previous wars, not only by the dimensions of the conflict and by its devastating effects, but in addition by the fact that in every country actively engaged in the imperialist war the whole of economic life had to be subordinated to war purposes. In former conflicts the bourgeoisie could carry them on merely by providing funds. The world war, however, attained such huge proportions and affected such highly developed countries that money alone did not suffice. It became essential in this war that the steel foundries should devote themselves entirely to the making of heavy guns, whose calibre was continually being enlarged; that coal should be mined for war purposes alone; that metals, textiles, hides, everything, should be employed in war service. Naturally, therefore, the greatest hope of victory was for whichever of the State capitalist trusts could best harness production and transport to the chariot of war.
How was this to be achieved? Manifestly, the only way in which it could be achieved was by the complete centralization of production. It would be necessary to arrange things in such a way that production would go on smoothly; that it would be well organized; that it would be entirely under the control of the fighters, that is to say of the general staff; that all the orders of those wearing epaulets and stars would be punctually carried out.
How could the bourgeoisie do this? The matter was quite simple. To that end it was necessary that' the bourgeoisie should place private production, privately owned trusts and syndicates, at the disposal of the capitalist robber State. This is what they did for the duration of the war. Industry was ' mobilized' and 'militarized', that is to say it was placed under the orders of the State and of the military authorities. 'But how?' some of our readers will ask. ' In that way the bourgeoisie would surely forfeit its income? That would be nationalization! When everything has been handed over to the State, where will the bourgeoisie come in, and how will the capitalists reconcile themselves to such a condition 'of affairs?' It is an actual fact that the bourgeoisie agreed to the arrangement. But there is nothing very remarkable in that, for the privately owned syndicates and trusts were not handed over to the workers' State, but to the imperialist State, the State which belonged to the bourgeoisie. Was there anything to alarm the bourgeoisie in such a prospect? The capitalists simply transferred their possessions from one pocket to another; the possessions remained as large as ever.
We must never forget the class character of the State. The State must not be conceived as constituting a 'third power' standing above the classes; from head to foot it is a class organization. Under the dictatorship of the workers it is a working-class organization. Under the dominion of the bourgeoisie it is just as definitely an economic organization as is a trust or a syndicate.
We see, then, that when the bourgeoisie handed over the privately owned syndicates and trusts to the State, it handed them over to its own State, to the robber capitalist State and not to the proletarian State; consequently it had nothing to lose by the change. Is it not precisely the same thing to a manufacturer, whom we may call Schulz or Smith, whether he receives his profits from the counting-house of a syndicate or from a State-bank? Far from losing by the change, the bourgeoisie actually gained. There was a gain because, through the State centralization of industry, the war machine was enabled to work to better effect, and there was a greater chance of winning the war of rapine.
It is not surprising, therefore, that in nearly all capitalist countries there took place during the war a development of State capitalism in the place of the capitalism of private syndicates or trusts. Germany, for example, gained many successes and was able for a lengthy period to resist attack from enemies of a greatly superior strength, simply because the German bourgeoisie was so successful in the organization of its State capitalism.
The change to State capitalism was effected in various ways. In most cases a State monopoly of production and trade was instituted. This implied that production and trade were placed wholly in the hands of the bourgeois State. Sometimes the transformation was not effected all at once, but by instalments. This took place when the State merely bought some of the shares of the syndicate or trust.
An enterprise in which this had taken place was half private and half a State affair, but the bourgeois State held the leading strings. Furthermore, even when certain enterprises remained in private hands, they were often subjected to governmental control. Some enterprises were by special legislation forced to buy their raw materials from certain others, while the latter had to sell to the former in specified quantities and at fixed prices. The State prescribed working methods, specified what materials were to be used, and rationed these materials. Thus, in place of private capitalism, State capitalism came into being.
Under State capitalism, instead of the separate organizations of the bourgeoisie there now flourishes a united organization, the State organization. Down to the time of the war there existed in any capitalist country the State organization of the bourgeoisie, and there also existed separately from the State large numbers of bourgeois organizations, such as syndicates, trusts, societies of entrepreneurs, landowners' organizations, political parties, journalists' unions, learned societies, artists' clubs, the church, societies for the clergy, Boy Scouts and cadet corps (White Guard organizations of youth), private detective bureaux, etc. Under State capitalism all these separate organizations fuse with the bourgeois State; they become, as it were, State departments, and they work in accordance with a general plan, subject to the 'high command'; in the mines and factories they do whatever is ordered by the general staff; they write in the newspapers under the orders of the general staff; they preach in the churches whatever will be useful to the robbers of the general staff; their pictures, their books, and their poems, are produced under the orders of the general staff; they invent machinery, weapons, poison gas, etc., to meet the needs of the general staff. In this manner the whole of life is militarized in order to secure for the bourgeoisie the continued receipt of its filthy lucre.
State capitalism signifies an enormous accession of strength to the great bourgeoisie. Just as under the working-class dictatorship, in the workers' State, the working class is more powerful in proportion as the soviet authority, the trade unions, the Communist Party, etc., work more harmoniously together, so under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie the capitalist class is strong in proportion to the success with which all the bourgeois organizations pull together. State capitalism, centralizing all these organizations, converting them all into the instruments of a single, united organization, contributes immensely to the power of capital. Bourgeois dictatorship attains its climax in State capitalism.
State capitalism flourished during the war in all the large capitalist countries. In tsarist Russia, too, it began to make its way (in the form of war industry committees, monopolies, etc.). Subsequently, however, the Russian bourgeoisie, alarmed by the revolution of March, 1917, became afraid lest productive industry should pass into the hands of the proletariat together with the State authority. For this reason, after the March revolution, the bourgeoisie did not merely refrain from attempts to organize production, but positively sabotaged industry.
We see that State capitalism, far from putting an end to exploitation, actually increases the power of the bourgeoisie. Nevertheless the Scheidemannites in Germany, and social solidarians in other lands, have contended that this forced labour is socialism. As soon, they say, as everything is in the hands of the State, socialism will be realized. They fail to see that in such a system the State is not a proletarian State, since it is in the hands of those who are the malicious and deadly enemies of the proletariat.
State capitalism uniting and organizing the bourgeoisie, increasing the power of capitalism, has, of course, greatly weakened the working class. Under State capitalism the workers became the white slaves of the capitalist State. They were deprived of the right to strike; they were mobilized and militarized; everyone who raised his voice against the war was hauled before the courts and sentenced as a traitor. In many countries the workers were deprived of all freedom of movement, being forbidden to transfer from one enterprise to another. ' Free' wage workers were reduced to serfdom; they were doomed to perish on the battlefields, not on behalf of their own cause but on behalf of that of their enemies. They were doomed to work themselves to death, not for their own sake or for that of their comrades or their children, but for the sake of their oppressors.
In this manner, at the outset, the war contributed to the centralization and organization of the capitalist economy. That which the syndicates, the banks, the trusts, and the combined undertakings, had not yet fully achieved, was speedily finished by State capitalism. It created a network out of all the organs regulating production and distribution. Thus it prepared the ground even more fully than before for the time when the proletariat would be able to take the now centralized large-scale production into its own hands.
It was inevitable that the war, whose burden pressed so heavily on the working class, should in due course lead to a rising of the proletarian masses. The leading characteristic of the war was that it was murderous to an unparalleled degree. The levying of troops advanced with giant strides. The proletariat was positively decimated on the battlefields. The reports show that down to March, 1917, the number of dead, wounded, and missing totalled 25 millions; by 1 January, 1918, the number of the killed had been approximately 8 millions. If we assume the average weight of a soldier to 750 lb., this means that between 1 August 1914, and 1 January 1918, the capitalists had brought to market twelve hundred million pounds of putrid human flesh. To estimate the real loss on human beings, we must add a few millions permanently invalided. Considering syphilis alone, this disease has been diffused by the war to an almost incredible extent, so that infection is now nearly universal. In consequence of the war people have become far less fit physically; the most healthy, the most effective elements, those which formed the flower of the nations, have been destroyed. It need hardly be said that the brunt of the losses was borne by the workers and the peasants.
In the great centres of the warring States we can find whole communities of those who have been crippled and monstrously mutilated; men whose faces have been shot away, wearing masks, sit in misery as living tokens to the delights of bourgeois civilization.
The proletariat, however, was not simply massacred at the front. In addition, intolerable burdens were laid upon the shoulders of those who remained alive. The war necessitated a frenzied expenditure. At the very time when the factory owners were piling up immense profits which became distinctively known as ' war profits', the workers were being subjected to heavy taxation for war purposes. The cost of the war continued to increase beyond measure. In the autumn of 1979, at the peace conference, the French minister for finance declared that the war had cost the belligerents more than a trillion francs. The significance of such figures is far from easy to grasp. In former days the number of miles between one star and another was stated in similar terms. Now they are used to figure out the cost of these years of criminal slaughter. A trillion is a million millions. Such has been the upshot of the war devised by the capitalists. According to another estimate, the cost of the war was as follows
|Millions of £|
|Cost of the first year of war||9,100|
|Cost of the second year of war||13,650|
|Cost of the third year of war||20,470|
|Cost of the first half of the fourth year (the last five months of 1917)||15,350|
Subsequently, the costs of the war increased even more, attaining figures astounding in their magnitude. Vast sums have to be raised in order to meet these costs. Naturally, therefore, the capitalist States have already begun to impose heavy burdens on the working class: either by direct taxation; or by taxes on articles of consumption; or, finally, in order to make the bourgeoisie too contribute by a deliberate advance in the price of goods from patriotic motives. Prices have continued to rise. But the manufacturers, and especially those who have been manufacturing things wanted for the war, have pocketed unheard-of gains.
The Russian manufacturers were able to secure more than double the previous dividends, and in certain undertakings the profits were positively fabulous. Here are some of the figures: the naphtha firm of the Mirosyev Brothers paid 40 per cent; Danshevsky Ltd, 30 per cent; the Kalfa tobacco factory, 30 per cent; and so on. In Germany, during the years 1913 and 1914, the net profits in four branches of industry, namely chemical works, explosives, metal works, and motor car works, amounted to 133 millions; during the years 1915 and 1916 the total profits in the same branches amounted to 259 millions, practically double. In the United States the profits of the Steel Trust during the first half of 1916 were three times as great as the profits during the first half of 1915. The total profits of the Trust in 1915 were 98 million dollars; in the year 1917 they were 478 million dollars. Dividends of 200 per cent were several times declared. Many more examples could be given. There was a similar huge increase in banking profits. During the war, the small fry among the manufacturers were ruined, whilst the big sharks were incredibly enriched. As for the proletariat, this fell under the yoke of taxes and rising prices.
The chief articles produced during the war were shrapnel, shells, high explosives, heavy guns, tanks, aeroplanes, poison gas, gunpowder, etc. An incredible quantity of these requisites was manufactured. In the United States, new towns grew up like mushrooms round the powder factories. The owners of the new powder factories, in their eagerness for profits, conducted work so carelessly that explosions were common. Of course the manufacturers of munitions made huge profits, so that their businesses flourished amazingly. But as far as the common people were concerned, matters grew continually worse. Things of real value, such as can be eaten, worn, etc., were produced in ever-diminishing quantities. With powder and shot people can shoot and can destroy, but powder and shot are of no use for food or clothing. The whole strength of the belligerents was, however, devoted to the production of powder and other instruments of death. The production of ordinary utilities was increasingly reduced. The workers were drafted into the armies, and productive industry was entirely turned to the purposes of war. There was continually a greater dearth of useful goods. Hence arose shortage of food and exorbitant prices. LACK OF BREAD, LACK OF COAL, LACK OF ALL USEFUL GOODS, AND MOREOVER A WORLDWIDE LACK IN CONJUNCTION WITH WORLD-WIDE EXHAUSTION, SUCH WERE THE MAIN CONSEQUENCES OF THE CRIMINAL IMPERIALIST WAR.
Here are a few examples from different countries. In France during the opening years of the war, agricultural production diminished as follows:
|Plants used for industrial purposes||59,429,000||20,448,000|
In Britain the reserves of iron ore fell off as follows:
|In the end of 1912 the reserves were||241,000 tons|
|In the end of 1913 the reserves were||138,000 tons|
|In the end of 1914 the reserves were||108,000 tons|
|In the end of 1915 the reserves were||113,000 tons|
|In the end of 1916 the reserves were||3,000 tons|
|In the end of 1917 the reserves were||600 tons|
In other words, the reserves of iron ore were practically exhausted by the end of 1917.
In Germany the production of cast iron was as follows:
Owing to the lack of coal, the condition of industry throughout the world was desperate. In Central and Western Europe the main provider of coal was Britain. In Britain by the middle of 1918 the production of coal was reduced by 13 per cent. Already in 1917 the principal industries were practically without supplies of coal. Electrical works were receiving only one-sixth of the coal they needed, while textile undertakings were receiving only oneeleventh of the pre-war supply. At the time of the 'peace' conference at Versailles nearly all the countries in the world were affected by a terrible coal crisis. Factories were closed down for lack of fuel and the railway services were reduced. An extensive disorganization of industry and transport ensued.
The same thing happened in Russia. In 1917 the war had led to very bad conditions in the matter of coal supply. The industries of the Moscow district required 12,000,000 poods of coal per month [61 poods = 1 ton]. Kerensky's administration promised to supply 6,000,000 poods, half the normal amount. The actual supplies were as follows:
|January 1917||1,800,000 poods|
|February 1917||1,300,000 poods|
|March 1917||800,000 poods|
It is not surprising that Russian industry, far from displaying 'a tremendous expansion', was almost arrested. Here, as throughout the world, the ruin of capitalism was beginning. In 1917, under the Kerensky régime, the closure of factories attained the following dimensions:
|Month||Number of undertakings||Number of workers employed|
Ruin was advancing with giant strides. If we wish to consider the rise in prices that resulted in part from scarcity and in part from the inflation of the currency, it suffices to turn to Britain, which of all the original belligerents was least affected by the war.
Here are the average prices of five of the chief articles of diet (tea, sugar, butter, bread, and meat):
|Tea and sugar||Bread, meat and butter|
|Average prices 1901-1905||500||300|
|End of July, 1914||579||350|
|End of January, 1915||786||413|
|End of January, 1916||946||465|
|End of January, 1917||1310||561|
|End of January, 1918||1221||681|
|End of May, 1918||1247||777|
Thus in the course of the war, even in Britain, prices were more than doubled, and the increase in wages was very far from keeping pace with the increase in the cost of living. In other countries, conditions were very much worse. They were especially bad in Russia, where the war proved positively ruinous, and where the country was reduced to the position of a tattered beggar dependent upon the favour of the lords of capital.
In the United States, which was even less affected by the war than Britain, between 1913 and 19 18 the prices of fifteen leading products increased by 160 per cent, while during the same period the rise in wages was only 80 per cent.
At length, even production for war purposes began to languish for lack of coal, steel, and other essentials. In every land, the United States alone excepted, poverty was rife; hunger, cold, and ruin, were advancing all over the globe. It need hardly be said that the chief sufferers from all these evils were the members of the working class, who thereupon attempted to protest. Upon them, now, war was declared, a war waged with the whole strength of the bourgeois robber States. In every land, in republican countries just as much as in monarchial, the working class was subjected to unexampled persecutions. The workers were not only deprived of the right to strike, but the slightest movement of protest was ruthlessly suppressed. In this way the dominion of capitalism led to civil war between the classes.
The resolution of the Third International concerning the White Terror gives a striking picture of the persecution of the workers during the war. It runs as follows: 'At the very outset of the war, the ruling classes who on the battlefields have slaughtered more than ten million men and have crippled and mutilated a vast number in addition - instituted in internal affairs a régime of bloody dictatorship (a bourgeois dictatorship). In Russia, the tsarist government shot and hanged the workers, organized antiJewish pogroms, and stifled every protest. The Austrian government savagely suppressed the risings of the peasants and the workers in Ukraine and Bohemia. The British bourgeoisie . butchered some of the finest representatives of the Irish people. The German imperialists breathed threatenings and slaughter, and the insurgent bluejackets were the first victims of their brutal wrath. In France, the authorities shot down the Russian soldiers who refused to defend the financial interests of the French bankers. In the United States, the bourgeoisie lynched the internationalists, sentenced many of the best proletarians to twenty years' imprisonment and shot down workers on strike.'
The capitalist system was breaking down. The anarchy of production had led to the war, and this had induced an enormous accentuation of the class conflict. Thus the war led to the revolution. Capitalism was beginning to disintegrate in two fundamental ways. (Refer to §13). The era of the collapse of capitalism had set in. Let us examine this collapse more closely.
Capitalist society was constructed upon one model throughout. A factory was organized just like a government office or like a division of the imperial army. At the top were the rich who commanded; at the bottom were the poor, the workers and the salariat, who obeyed; in between were the superintending engineers, the ' non-commissioned officers' the foremen, the higher grade employees, etc. It follows, therefore, that capitalist society can maintain itself in being so long only as the private soldier (drawn from the ranks of the workers) obeys the orders of the officer (drawn from the aristocracy, the landed gentry, or the wealthier bourgeoisie); so long only as in the government offices the subordinates obey the orders of their wealthy chiefs; and so long only as in the factories the workers continue to obey the highly paid managers or the factory owners who live upon surplus value. But as soon as the working masses realize that they are nothing but pawns in the hands of their enemies, the ties are broken that bind the private soldier to the service of the officer and that bind the worker to the service of the factory owner. The workers cease to attend to the orders of the factory owner; the private soldiers cease to attend to the orders of their officers; the civil servants cease to attend to the orders of their chiefs. Then begins the period in which the old discipline is relaxed, that discipline which enabled the rich to rule the poor, which enabled the bourgeoisie to fleece the workers. This period will inevitably continue until the new class (the proletariat) has subjugated the bourgeoisie, has forced the bourgeoisie to serve the workers, has established a new discipline.
Such a condition of affairs, in which the old order has been destroyed and the new order has not yet been created, can be ended in no other way than by the complete victory of the proletariat in the civil war.
Civil war is an extremely intensified class war, and it occurs when the class war has led to revolution. The imperialist world war between the two groups of bourgeois States, the war waged for the repartition of the world, was carried on by the slaves of capital. It imposed such heavy burdens upon the workers that the class war was transformed into a civil war fought by the oppressed against their oppressors, the war which Marx had declared to be the only just war.
It was perfectly natural that capitalism should culminate in civil war, that the imperialist war between the bourgeois States should lead to a war between the classes. Our party foretold this development at the very outset of the war, in the year 1914, when no one dreamed of revolution. Nevertheless it was manifest that the intolerable burdens which the war imposed upon the working class must lead to an insurrection of the proletariat. It was, moreover, perfectly clear that the bourgeoisie could not possibly ensure a lasting peace, for the conflict of interests between the various groups of plunderers was too vital.
Our predictions have been entirely fulfilled. After the terrible years of war, brutality, and devastation, a civil war against the oppressors began. This civil war was opened by the Russian revolutions of March and November, 1917; it was continued by the Finnish revolution, the Hungarian revolution, the Austrian revolution, and the German revolution; revolutions in other countries have begun. The bourgeoisies cannot bring about a lasting peace. The Allies overcame Germany in November 1918; the robbers' peace of Versailles was signed many months later; but no one knows when the final settlement will be effected. It is plain to all that the peace of Versailles is not lasting. Quarrels have already broken out between the Jugoslavs and the Italians, between the Poles and the Czechoslovaks, between the Poles and the Lithuanians, between the Latvians and the Germans. In addition, all the bourgeois States have combined to attack the republic of the victorious Russian workers. Thus the imperialist war is ending in a civil war, of which the inevitable outcome will be the victory of the proletariat.
The civil war is not the result of any party's caprice; its coming has been no chance matter. The civil war is a manifestation of the revolution, and the revolution was absolutely inevitable because the robber war of the imperialists had opened the eyes of the broad masses of the workers.
To think that the revolution can take place without civil war is equivalent to thinking that there can be a 'peaceful' revolution. Anyone who believes this (as the mensheviks who utter laments concerning the hurtfulness of civil war believe it) is turning away from Marx to those antediluvian socialists who imagine that the factory owners can be talked over. We might just as well hope by petting a tiger to persuade the animal to live upon grass and to leave cattle alone ! Marx was an advocate of the civil war, that is to say the fight of the armed proletariat against the bourgeoisie. Writing with reference to the Paris Commune (the rising of the Parisian workers in the year 1871), Marx declares that the communards had not been sufficiently resolute. He uses reproachful terms in the manifesto of the First International. [The Civil War in France.] We read: 'Even the sergents-de-ville, instead of being disarmed and locked up, as ought to have been done, found the gates of Paris flung wide open, for their safe retreat to Versailles. The men of the "party of order" ' [this was the name then given to the counterrevolutionaries] 'were not only left unharmed; they were allowed to rally and quietly to seize more than one stronghold in the very heart of Paris....In its reluctance to continue the civil war opened by Thiers' [the French counterpart of Denikin] '...the Central Committee made a grave mistake. It was urgently necessary to attack Versailles....to put an end, once for all, to the plots of Thiers and the Rurals. Instead of this, the "party of order" was again allowed to test its strength at the ballot-box, in the communal elections of March 26th.' Here Marx clearly advocates the armed suppression of the counterrevolution; he advocates civil war. Engels, too, wrote as follows: 'Would the Commune of Paris have held its ground for a single day unless it had put its trust in the authority of the armed people against the bourgeoisie? Have we not, rather, the right to blame the Commune for having made so little use of its powers of compulsion?' And this is how Engels defines the term revolution 'A revolution is an act in which one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets, and artillery.'
We see that the leaders of socialism took a very serious view of revolution. They understood that the proletariat cannot peacefully persuade the bourgeoisie; they understood that the workers must impose their will by means of victory in a civil war fought with 'rifles, bayonets, and artillery'.
Civil war ranges one against another, with arms in their hands, the two classes of capitalist society, the two classes whose interests are diametrically opposed. The fact that capitalist society is split up into two parts, that it essentially consists of at least two distinct societies this fact is obscured at ordinary times. For what reason? Because the slaves passively obey their masters. But in time of civil war this passive obedience comes to an end, and the oppressed portion of society rises against the oppressors. It is obvious that in such circumstances the classes cannot possibly ' live harmoniously side by side'. The army splits up into White Guards consisting of the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the richer members of the professional classes, and so on, and Red Guards consisting of workers and peasants. It is now impossible that there should be a parliament of any sort in which factory owners and workers sit together. How can they meet 'peacefully' in parliament when they are shooting one another in the streets? In time of civil war, class takes up arms against class. This is why the struggle can only end through a victory of one of the two classes. It cannot end in an agreement, or in any sort of compromise. Such a view has been fully confirmed by the experience of civil war in Russia and elsewhere (Germany and Hungary). There must speedily ensue a dictatorship, either of the proletariat or of the bourgeoisie. Government by the middle classes and their parties (the Social Revolutionary Party, the Menshevik Party, etc.) is merely a bridge by which we pass to one side or the other. When the Soviet Government of Hungary was overthrown with the aid of the mensheviks, its place was taken for a brief space by a ' coalition', but then an absolutist reactionary government was established. From time to time the Constitutional Social Revolutionary Party would come to the top in Ufa, Transvolgia, or Siberia, but within twenty-four hours it was always overthrown by Admiral Kolchak, who was supported by the great capitalists and the landlords. This meant the establishment of a landlordcapitalist dictatorship instead of a worker-peasant dictatorship. A DECISIVE VICTORY OVER THE ENEMY AND THE REALIZATION OF THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT - SUCH WILL BE THE INEVITABLE OUTCOME OF THE WORLD-WIDE CIVIL WAR.
The epoch of civil wars was ushered in by the Russian revolution, itself no more than the herald, the beginning, of a revolution that will be general and world-wide. The revolution began earlier in Russia than elsewhere because in Russia the de composition of capitalism set in earlier. The Russian bourgeoisie and the Russian landowning class hoped for the conquest of Constantinople and Galicia. In conjunction with their allies they participated in the cooking of the hell's broth of 1914 Through their weakness and lack of organization, they were the first to collapse, so that chaos and famine appeared in Russia earlier than elsewhere. For that reason it was especially easy for the Russian proletariat to deal with its class enemies. This is why the Russian workers were the first to gain a decisive victory, the first to establish their dictatorship.
We must not infer that the Russian communist revolution is the most thoroughgoing revolution in the world; nor must we infer that the less developed capitalism is in any country, the more 'revolutionary' will be that country and the nearer to communism. The logical consequence of such a view would be that the complete realization of socialism would first occur in China, Persia, Turkey, and other countries where practically no proletariat has as yet come into existence. Were this the case, the teaching of Marx would be completely falsified.
Anyone who reasons thus, is confusing two things: on the one hand, the beginning of the revolution; on the other hand, its character, its degree of thoroughness. The revolution began earlier in Russia owing to the immaturity and weakness of capitalist development in that country. But precisely because of that immaturity and weakness, precisely because Russia is a backward country where the proletariat is in a minority, where there is a large number of petty traders, and so on, it is difficult for us to organize an integral communist economy. In England the revolution will come later. But there the proletariat, after its victory, will organize communism more swiftly. In Britain the proletariat constitutes a very large majority of the population; the workers are accustomed to collective labour; production is highly centralized. That is why the revolution will come later in England, but why, when it comes, it will be more highly developed, more far-reaching than ours.
Many persons have supposed that the ferocious character of our civil war is due to the backwardness of our country, or to some peculiar' Asiatic' traits. The opponents of revolution in western Europe are in the habit of saying that 'Asiatic socialism' flourishes in Russia, and that in 'civilized' lands a revolutionary change will be effected without atrocities. Obviously this is all nonsense. Where capitalist development is far advanced, the resistance of the bourgeoisie will be more stubborn. The intelligentsia (the professional classes, the technicians, the managing engineers, the army officers, etc.) are more strongly solidarized with capital, and are for that reason far more hostile to communism. In such countries, therefore, the civil war will inevitably assume a more savage form than in Russia. The course of the German revolution has actually proved that the war assumes harsher forms in countries where capitalist development is farther advanced.
Those who complain of the bolshevist Terror forget that the bourgeoisie sticks at nothing for the protection of its money-bags. With reference to this matter, the resolution passed by the first congress of the Third International runs as follows:
'When the imperialist war was beginning to be transformed into civil war, and when for the governing class (the greatest criminals known to history) the danger was imminent that its merciless régime would collapse, its brutality grew greater than ever....
'Russian generals, living embodiments of the tsarist system, organized the shooting down of the workers on a large scale, and continue to do this with the direct or indirect connivance of the traitors to socialism. When the Social Revolutionary Party and the Menshevik Party were in power, the prisons were filled with thousands of workers and peasants, and the generals had entire regiments shot for disobedience. Krasnov and Denikin, with the kind cooperation of the allied governments, have slaughtered the workers by tens of thousands, hanging them, or shooting every tenth man. As a deterrent, they often leave whole rows of gibbeted corpses hanging for three days. In Ural and Transvolgia the bands of Czecho-Slovak White Guards have cut off prisoners' hands and feet, have drowned prisoners in the Volga, have buried them alive. In Siberia the generals have slaughtered communists by the thousand and have butchered innumerable workers and peasants.
'The German and Austrian bourgeois made an open display of their bestial tendencies in Ukraine, where they hanged on portable iron gallows the workers and peasants whom they had robbed, and hanged communists who were their own fellow-countrymen, our Austrian and German comrades. In Finland, one of the homes of bourgeois democracy, they helped the Finnish bourgeois to shoot from 13,000 to 14,000 proletarians and to torture more than 15,000 to death in the prisons. In Helsingfors, wishing to protect themselves from machine-gun fire, they drove women and children in front of their ranks. Thanks to their aid, the Finnish White Guards and their Swedish assistants were able to enjoy this orgy of blood when they had conquered the Finnish proletariat. In Tammerfors, they compelled women and children to dig their own graves before being slaughtered. In Viborg, they killed thousands of Russians, men, women and children.
'Within their own frontiers the German bourgeois and the German Social Democrats, manifested an even greater degree of reactionary violence. Risings of the communist workers were drowned in blood; Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were brutally murdered; the Spartacist workers were massacred. The flag under which the bourgeoisie marches is the flag of the White Terror - the mass Terror and the individual Terror.
'We see the same picture in other lands. In democratic Switzerland everything is ready for the punishment of the workers should they dare to infringe capitalist law. In America it would seem that the prison, lynch law, and the electric chair, are the chosen symbols of democracy and freedom. In Hungary and Britain, in Czecho-Slovakia and Poland - everywhere it is the same. The bourgeois assassins do not shrink from the most atrocious actions. In the hope of strengthening their régime they encourage jingoism, and they organize abominable anti-Jewish pogroms, even worse than those which used to be organized by the tsarist police....When the Polish reactionaries and the "socialist" rabble murdered the representatives of the Russian Red Cross, this was but an additional drop in the ocean of crimes and atrocities perpetrated by bourgeois cannibalism in its death agony.'
As the civil war develops, it assumes new forms. When in any country the proletariat is oppressed beyond measure, it leads this war by a revolt against the State authority of the bourgeoisie. Now let us suppose that in one country or another the proletariat has been victorious and has taken the State authority into its own hands. What happens in this case? The proletariat has the organized State power at its service, it has the proletarian army, it has the entire apparatus of power. Then the proletariat has to fight with the bourgeoisie of its own land, which organizes plots and risings against the proletarian authority. Furthermore, the proletariat organized as the State has to fight with bourgeois States. Here the civil war assumes a new form, for the class war becomes war in the ordinary sense when the proletarian State is fighting against bourgeois States; the workers are now not simply fighting against the bourgeoisie, but the workers' State is engaged in formal warfare against the imperialist States of capital. This war is carried on, not for the seizure of others' goods, but for the victory of communism, for the dictatorship of the working class.
This is what has actually occurred. After the Russian revolution of November, 1917, the Soviet Government was attacked upon all sides by the capitalists; by the British, the Germans, and the French, by the Americans and the Japanese, and so on. The more the workers of other lands became infected by the example of the Russian revolution, the more firmly did international capitalism close its ranks against the revolution, the more vigorously did it attempt to establish a robber alliance of capitalists against the proletariat.
Upon the initiative of the trickster Wilson, the leader of American capitalism, an attempt to form such an alliance was made at the so-called peace conference of Versailles. The robber alliance was christened the League of Nations, this being intended to signify that it was a 'league of peoples'. In reality it is not a league of peoples, but a league of the capitalists of various countries and of their State authorities.
This league is in the nature of an attempt to form a worldwide trust of monstrous proportions which shall embrace the whole surface of the globe in a grasp of universal exploitation, and which, on the other hand, shall crush with the utmost ferocity the working class movement of revolt and revolution. It is pure fable to say that the League of Nations has been founded to promote the cause of peace. In actual fact it has a twofold aim: the ruthless exploitation of the proletariat throughout the world, of all colonies and of the colonial slaves; and the crushing of the incipient world revolution.
In the League of Nations, the USA, which became inordinately rich during the war, plays the first fiddle. All the bourgeois States of Europe are now heavily indebted to America. The United States is very powerful for the additional reason that she has vast quantities of raw materials and fuel, and is a great wheat-producing country. She wishes to use these advantages in such a way as to make all her fellow robbers dependent on her. Infallibly she will become the leader of the League of Nations.
Very interesting is the way in which the United States veils its preeminently predatory policy behind a cloud of fine phrases. When, in pursuit of plunder, she entered the war, her watchwords were ' the salvation of mankind' ' the rescue of the enslaved peoples', and so on. It suited the United States that Europe should be disintegrated, should consist of dozens of petty lands, formally 'independent' but substantially dependent upon America. This predatory interest was masked by an exalted phrase concerning ' the right of the nations to selfdetermination'. The capitalist gendarmerie, the White Guards, and the White Police, which, according to Wilson's plan, were to be ready everywhere to crush the revolution, would exist to ensure punishment for 'breaches of the peace'. In the year 1919 all the imperialists suddenly became pacifically minded, and raised a clamour to the effect that the bolsheviks were the real imperialists, the true enemies of peace. Plans for the stifling of the revolution masqueraded as zeal for peace and democracy.
The League of Nations has already shown itself to be an international policeman and executioner. Its executive officers overthrew the Soviet Republics in Hungary and Bavaria. They have continually endeavoured to crush the Russian proletariat; in the north and in the south, in the west and in the east of Russia, the British, the American, the Japanese, the French, and other armies have made common cause with the Russian enemies of the working class. The League of Nations used black troops against the Russian and Hungarian workers (in Odessa and in Budapest). The depth of baseness to which the League of Nations can descend is shown by the fact that these 'civilized' brigands entered into a Butchers' League in partnership with General Yudenich, who was chief of the socalled North-Western Administration. The League of Nations incites Finland, Poland, etc., to attack Soviet Russia; with the aid of the consuls of the foreign Powers it organizes conspiracies; its agents blow up bridges, throw bombs at the communists, and so on. There is no atrocity of which the League of Nations is not capable.
The more vigorous the proletarian onslaught, the more firmly do the capitalists close their ranks. In the Communist Manifesto, penned in the year 1847, Marx and Engels wrote: 'A spectre haunts Europe, the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have united in a holy alliance to lay this spectre - the pope and the tsar, Metternich and Guizot, the French radicals and the German police.' Many years have passed since then. The spectre of communism has begun to clothe itself in flesh and blood. In the campaign against it are arrayed, not only `old Europe', but the entire capitalist world. Nevertheless the League of Nations will be unable to fulfil its two aims, which are the organization of the world economy into a single trust and the universal suppression of the revolution. There is not sufficient unity even among the Great Powers. The United States is hostile to Japan, and both these Powers are arming for the fight. It is hardly credible that there can be much friendly feeling between defeated Germany and the `disinterested' robber Entente. Here is certainly a rift in the lute. The lesser States are fighting one with another. Still more important is the occurrence of a number of colonial risings and wars - in India, Egypt, Ireland, etc. Enslaved countries are beginning to fight against their `civilized' European slave- drivers. To the civil war, the class war waged by the proletariat against the imperialist bourgeoisie, there are superadded colonial risings which help to undermine and destroy the dominion of world-wide imperialism. Thus the imperialist system is being broken up by two different groups of influences. On the one hand, we have the upward movement of the proletariat, the wars waged by the proletarian republics, and the revolts and the wars carried on by the nations enslaved to the imperialists. On the other hand, we have the oppositions and disharmonies among the great capitalist Powers. Instead of `lasting peace', there is complete chaos; instead of universal repression of the proletariat, there is fierce civil war. In this civil war the strength of the proletariat waxes while the strength of the bourgeoisie wanes. The inevitable issue of the struggle will be the victory of the proletariat.
Certainly the victory of the proletarian dictatorship will not be achieved on easy terms. The civil war, like any other war, demands the sacrifice of persons and the sacrifice of material values. Every revolution involves such costs. A natural consequence is that in the opening phases of this civil war the devastation due to the imperialist war is in various places considerably increased. It is obvious that when the best workmen, instead of working or organizing production, go to the front rifle in hand to defend themselves against the landlords and the military caste, the life of the factories must suffer. Plainly, the disorganization that results from the civil war is harmful. Manifestly, the loss of comrades that ensues is a costly sacrifice. But this is inevitable in every revolution. During the bourgeois revolution in France, in the years 1789-93, when the bourgeoisie was breaking the yoke of the landlords, the civil war brought much disorganization in its train. When, however, the caste of landlords and aristocrats had been conquered, the development of France was rapid and extensive.
No one can fail to understand that in so gigantic a revolution as the universal revolution of the proletariat, which effects the overthrow of a system of oppression that required centuries to upbuild, the cost must be exceedingly great. We have seen that the civil war is now conducted upon a world-wide scale. In part it takes the form of a war waged by bourgeois States against proletarian States. The proletarian States which are defending themselves against the imperialist robbers, are waging the class war, which is in actual fact a holy war. But this war demands the sacrifice of blood. The wider the extent of the war, the larger will be the number of victims, and the more extensive will be the disorganization.
But because revolution is costly, we must not for that reason set our faces against revolution. The capitalist system, the growth of centuries, culminated in the monstrous imperialist war, in which rivers of blood were shed. What civil war can compare in its destructive effects with the brutal disorganization and devastation, with the loss of the accumulated wealth of mankind, that resulted from the imperialist war? MANIFESTLY IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT HUMANITY SHALL MAKE AN END OF CAPITALISM ONCE AND FOR ALL. WITH THIS GOAL IN VIEW, WE CAN ENDURE THE PERIOD OF CIVIL WARS, AND CAN PAVE THE WAY FOR COMMUNISM, WHICH WILL HEAL ALL OUR WOUNDS, AND WILL QUICKLY LEAD TO THE FULL DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRODUCTIVE FORCES OF HUMAN SOCIETY.
The revolution as it develops becomes a world revolution for the same reason that the imperialist war became a world war. All important countries are interconnected, they are all parts of the world economy, nearly all of them were involved in the war, and were united by the war in a common understanding. In all countries alike, the war produced terrible devastation, led to famine, and to the enslavement of the proletariat. Everywhere it promoted the gradual decomposition and decay of capitalism, and ultimately caused a revolt against the savage discipline in the army, the factory, and the workshop. With the like inevitability it led to the communist revolution of the proletariat.
Once they had begun, the disintegration of capitalism and the growth of the communist revolution could no longer be stayed. The ruin of capitalism was imminent. Every attempt to establish a truly human society upon the old capitalist foundations is foredoomed to absolute failure. The class consciousness of the proletarian masses is now so fully developed, that they neither can nor will work for capital. They refuse to slay one another in the interests of capital, of colonial policy, etc. The army of William I I cannot possibly be re-established in Germany today. And just as it is impossible to re-establish an imperialist discipline in the army, just as it has become impossible to compel proletarian soldiers to subject themselves to the yoke of junker generals, so is it impossible to re-establish the capitalist discipline of labour, and to compel the workers to toil for a master or the peasants to toil for a landlord. The new army can only be created by the proletariat; the new labour discipline can only be created by the working class.
We are thus confronted by two alternatives, and two only. There must either be complete disintegration, hell broth, further brutalization and disorder, absolute chaos, or else communism. All attempts that have been made to re-establish capitalism in a country where for a time the masses have had power in their own hands, confirm this statement of alternatives. Neither the Finnish bourgeoisie nor the Hungarian bourgeoisie, neither Kolchak nor Denikin nor Skoropadsky, was in a position to restore economic life. They were unable to establish even their own bloody system upon a firm footing.
THE ONLY ISSUE FOR HUMANITY IS COMMUNISM. AND SINCE COMMUNISM CAN BE REALIZED ONLY BY THE PROLETARIAT, THE PROLETARIAT IS TODAY THE TRUE SAVIOUR OF MANKIND FROM THE HORRORS OF CAPITALISM, FROM THE BARBARITIES OF EXPLOITATION, FROM COLONIAL POLICY, INCESSANT WARS, FAMINE, A LAPSE .INTO SAVAGERY AND BRUTALIZATION, FROM ALL THE ABOMINATIONS THAT ARE ENTAILED BY FINANCIAL CAPITAL AND IMPERIALISM. HEREIN LIES THE SPLENDID HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROLETARIAT. THE WORKERS MAY SUFFER DEFEAT IN INDIVIDUAL BATTLES, AND EVEN IN INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES. BUT THE VICTORY OF THE PROLETARIAT IS NO LESS CERTAIN THAN THE RUIN OF THE BOURGEOISIE IS INEVITABLE.
From the foregoing it is plain that all groups, classes, and parties which believe the re-establishment of capitalism to be possible, which imagine that the time is not yet ripe for the coming of socialism, are in fact, whether they wish it or not and whether they know it or not, playing the part of counter-revolutionaries and reactionaries. Of this character are all the parties that preach class collaboration. We shall return to the matter in the next chapter.
1) The word 'monopoly' is derived from two Greek words, monos (alone, sole, single) and polein (to sell). In Russia at one time, the use of the term 'monopoly' was almost restricted to denoting the governmental monopoly in spirituous liquors. But there can exist a monopoly in any commodity; and a monopoly may be held by a manufacturer or a group of manufacturers just as well as by the State.
Kamenev, The Economic System of Imperialism; Lenin, Imperialism as the latest Phase of Capitalism; Bukharin, The World Economy and Imperialism; Tsyperovich, Syndicates and Trusts in Russia; Antonov, Militarism; Pavlovich, What is Imperialism?; Pavlovich, The Great Railways; Pavlovich, Militarism and Navalism; Pavlovich, The Results of the World War; Hilferding, Financial Capital (a standard work of primary importance but difficult to read); Kautsky, The Road to Power; Kerzhentsev, British Imperialism; Lozovsky, Iron and Coal, the Fight for Alsace-Lorraine; Zinoviev, Austria and the World War; Pokrovsky, France during the War; Heraskov, Britain during the War; Larin, The Victorious Land; Larin, The Consequences of the War; Zinoviev, The Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente; Lomov, The Break-up of Capitalism and the Organization of Communism; Osinsky, The Upbuilding of Socialism; London, The Iron Heel.