Karl Kautsky

Disarmament and Colonial Policy

(1 June 1912)

Kautsky, Disarmament and Colonial Policy, Justice, 1st June 1912. (letter)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Comrade, – Colonel A. Keene, writing in Justice of May 11, points out that I declared that if the States of Europe were to come to an understanding with regard to disarmament they could proceed much more energetically than hitherto to open up the territory of Asia. He is of the opinion that the contrary is the case. Disarmament must cause the peoples of Asia to rise to obtain their complete independence of Europe.

This argument would be correct if I meant by disarmament the complete laying aside of all arms. But this is by no means the case. As long as capitalism exists there will be antagonisms between the nations, and eternal peace will remain a dream. At the beginning of my article I pointed out that the idea of disarmament taken in its literal sense was impracticable. Disarmament in capitalist society can, at the best, only be realised in this way, that the extent of those armaments should be diminished more and more, and above all that the introduction of new armaments should be interdicted.

Disarmament in this form by no means prevents capitalist nations from opening up for themselves the lands of the Far East. The German Empire, for instance, has to-day 600,000 soldiers in its standing army. If this number were reduced to 300,000 that army would still be four times the size of that of the United States; and yet the United States are strong enough to-day to play a very energetic part in the opening up of Eastern Asia for the purposes of capitalism.

If one uses the word disarmament in this sense, as I did in treating of it in my article, then the apparent contradiction disappears which Colonel Keene thought to discover in it.

I am, dear comrade, fraternally yours,


K. Kautsky


Last updated on 5.11.2004