V. I. Lenin

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

To All the Citizens of Russia{1}

Written: Written before October 10 (23), 1912
Published: Published in October 1912 as a separate leaflet. Printed from the text of the leaflet.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 262.2-266.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
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Comrades workers and all citizens of Russia!

A war of four powers against Turkey has started in the Balkans.{2} War threatens the whole of Europe. Despite their lying government denials, Russia and Austria are preparing for war. Italy is becoming more brazen in her policy of plundering the Turkish lands. The stock-market panic in Vienna and Berlin, in Paris and London shows that the capitalists of all Europe see no possibility of preserving European peace.

All Europe wants to take part in the events in the Balkans! Everyone favours “reforms” and even “freedom for the Slavs”. Actually, Russia wants to snatch a piece of Turkey in Asia and to seize the Bosporus. Austria has designs on Salonika, Italy on Albania, Britain on Arabia, and Germany on Anatolia.

The crisis is mounting. Hundreds of thousands and mil lions of wage slaves of capital and peasants downtrodden by the serf-owners are going to the slaughter for the dynastic interests of a handful of crowned brigands, for the profits of the bourgeoisie in its drive to plunder foreign lands.

The Balkan crisis is a link in the chain of events which since the turn of the century has everywhere been leading to sharper class and international contradictions, to wars and revolutions. The Russo-Japanese war, the revolution in Russia, a series of revolutions in Asia, mounting rivalry and hostility between the European states, the threat to peace over Morocco, and Italy’s plunderous campaign against Tripoli—such has been the preparation of the current crisis.

Wars and all their calamities are produced by capitalism, which keeps millions of working people in bondage, sharpens the struggle between nations, and turns the slaves of capital into cannon fodder. A world-wide socialist army of the revolutionary proletariat is alone capable of putting an end to this oppression and enslavement of the masses and to these massacres of slaves in the interests of the slave-owners.

In Western Europe and America, there is a sharpening struggle by the socialist proletariat against imperialist bourgeois governments, who are increasingly inclined to plunge into desperate escapades as they see the working-class millions inexorably marching to victory. These governments are preparing war but at the same time are afraid of war in the knowledge that world-wide war means world wide revolution.

In Eastern Europe—the Balkans, Austria and Russia—alongside areas of highly developed capitalism, we find the masses oppressed by feudalism, absolutism and thousands of medieval relics. Like tens of millions of peasants in Central Russia, the peasants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the Adriatic coast, are still ground down by the land-owning serf-masters. The piratical dynasties of the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs support this medieval oppression and try to stoke up hostility between the peoples in an effort to strengthen the power of the monarchy and perpetuate the enslavement of a number of nationalities. In Eastern Europe, the monarchs still share out the peoples between them, exchange and trade in them, putting together different nationalities into patchwork states to promote their own dynastic interests, very much as the landowners under the serf system used to break up and shuffle the families of their subject peasants!

A federal Balkan republic is the rallying cry that our brother socialists in the Balkan countries have issued to the masses in their struggle for self-determination and complete freedom of the peoples, to clear the way for a broad class struggle for socialism.

It is the rallying cry of true democrats and real friends of the working class and we must take it up with especial vigour in face of the Russian tsarist monarchy, one of the most vicious supporters of reaction throughout the world.

The foreign policy of Russian tsarism is an unbroken chain of unprecedented crimes and acts of violence, and the dirtiest and basest intrigues against the freedom of nations, against democracy and against the working class. With the aid of Britain’s “liberal” rulers, tsarism is crushing and choking Persia; tsarism has been undermining the republic in China; tsarism is sneaking up to seize the Bosporus and extend “its” own territory at the expense of Turkey in Asia. The tsarist monarchy was the gendarme of Europe in the 19th century, when Russian serf-peasant troops put down the uprising in Hungary. Today, in the 20th century, the tsarist monarchy is the gendarme of both Europe and Asia.

Tsar Nicholas the Bloody, who has dispersed the First and Second Dumas, who has drowned Russia in blood, enslaved Poland and Finland, and is in alliance with out—and-out reactionaries conducting a policy of stifling the Jews and all “aliens”, the tsar whose loyal friends shot down the workers on the Lena and ruined the peasants to the point of starvation all over Russia—that tsar pretends to be the champion of Slav independence and freedom!

Since 1877, the Russian people have learned a thing or two, and they ate now aware that worse than all the Turks are our “internal Turks”—the tsar and his servants.

But the landowners and the bourgeoisie, the Nationalists and the Octobrists give their utmost support to this vile and provocative lie about a freedom-loving tsarism. Such papers as Golos Moskvy{3} and Novoye Vremya are at the head of a whole army of government newspapers brazenly baiting and badgering Austria, as though Russian tsarism was not a hundred times more sullied in dirt and blood than the Hapsburg monarchy.

And it is not only the Right-wing parties, but even the opposition, liberal bourgeoisie that has been strident in its chauvinistic imperialist propaganda, scarcely covered up with diplomatically evasive and hypocritical phrases. Not only the non-party liberal Russkoye Slovo,{4} but even Rech, the official organ of the Party of “Constitutional Democrats” (actually counter-revolutionary liberals), has been zealous in attacking the tsarist Minister Sazonov for his alleged “tractability”, for his “concessions” to Austria and for inadequate “protection” of Russia’s “great power” interests. The Cadets have been blaming the wildest nationalist reactionaries not for their imperialism, but on the contrary for minimising the weight and the importance of the “great” idea of the tsarist conquest of Constantinople!!

For the sake of the vital interests of all the working people, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party raises its voice in resolute protest against this base chauvinism and brands it as a betrayal of the cause of freedom. A country with 30 million starving peasants and with the wildest arbitrary rule by the authorities, including the shooting of workers in their hundreds—a country where tens of thousands of fighters for freedom are being tormented and tortured through hard labour—what such a country needs above all is liberation from tsarist oppression. The Russian peasant must think about emancipating himself from the landowning serf-masters and from the tsarist monarchy, and not allow himself to be diverted from this vital cause by the false speeches of landowners and merchants about Russia’s “Slavonic tasks”.

Imperialist liberalism, desirous of tolerating tsarism, may insist on “peaceful constitutional” action, promising the people both external victories and constitutional reforms under a preserved tsarist monarchy, but the Social-Democratic proletariat indignantly rejects this fraud. The only thing that can ensure free development for Russia and the whole of Eastern Europe is the revolutionary over throw of tsarism. Only the victory of a federal republic in the Balkans, together with the victory of a republic in Russia, can release hundreds of millions of people from the calamities of war and the torments of oppression and exploitation in the so-called “time of peace”.

In the first five months of 1912, more than 500,000 workers in Russia rose to political strikes, restoring their strength after the most trying years of the counter-revolution. In some places, sailors and soldiers rose up in revolt against tsarism. Our call is for revolutionary mass struggle, for more steadfast, stable and extensive preparation for resolute joint action by the workers, peasants and the best section of the army! That is the only salvation for Russia, which has been oppressed and ruined by tsarism.

The socialists of the Balkan countries have come out with a sharp condemnation of the war. The socialists of Italy and Austria and the whole of Western Europe have given them unanimous support. Let us join in their protest and unfold our agitation against the tsarist monarchy.

Down with the tsarist monarchy! Long live the democratic republic of Russia!

Long live the federal republic of the Balkans!

Down with war! Down with capitalism!

Long live socialism, long live international revolutionary Social-Democracy!

R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee


{1} The manifesto was written by Lenin in early October 1912 and was published by the R.S.D.L.P. C.C. as a separate leaflet. On October 10 (23), Lenin sent the manifesto to the Secretary of the International Socialist Bureau, Camille Huysmans, asking him to convey the text of the document to the secretaries of the Social-Democratic parties and the press. It was soon published in German in Leipziger Volkszeitung and Vorw\"arts, in French in the Belgian newspaper Le Peuple, and in French, German and English in the Bulletin of the International Socialist Bureau. It was also published by the Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. Organisation Abroad and as a special supplement to No. 28–29 of Sotsial-Demokrat of November 5 (18), 1912. p. 262

{2} The First Balkan War (October 1912–May 1913) was fought between Turkey and the countries of the Balkan alliance—Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. It ended in the defeat of Turkey, which under the London Peace Treaty lost almost all her Balkan possessions. The Slav regions, Macedonia and Thrace, were liberated; the Albanian people won national independence. The First Balkan War, despite the fact that the monarchs and the bourgeoisie of the Balkan countries pursued their own dynastic and plunderous aims, was on the whole progressive—it marked the liberation of the Balkan peoples from the Turkish yoke and dealt a blow at the survivals of the serf system. Lenin said it was “one link in the chain of world events marking the collapse of the medieval state of affairs in Asia and Eastern Europe” (see present edition, Vol. 19, p. 39). p. 262

{3} Golos Moskvy (Voice of Moscow)—a daily, organ of the Octobrists, published in Moscow from 1906 to 1915. p. 264

{4} Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word)—a daily published in Moscow from 1895 (the first, pilot issue appeared in 1894); its publisher was I. D. Sytin. Nominally independent, the paper upheld the interests of the Russian bourgeoisie from a moderate liberal stand. It had good news coverage and was Russia’s first paper to send its own correspondents to all the major cities of Russia and many world capitals.

In November 1917, the paper was closed down for running slanderous anti-Soviet reports. From January 1918 it was published under the name of Novoye Slovo (New Word) and Nashe Slovo (Our Word), and was finally closed down in July 1918. p. 265

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