V. I.   Lenin


Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Berne to Stockholm. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 307-309.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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November 14, 1914

Dear Friend,

I am very glad to hear from you that the C.O. has been received, and is to go where it should.

As regards your speech at the congress of the Swedish Social-Democrats, I can advise only this: either no speech at all, or a statement that you greet the fraternal party of the Swedish workers and wish it every success in the spirit of revolutionary international Social-Democracy.[1] If you cannot say this, then it is not worth while speaking at all. But if possible, of course, it would be best to add (1) that the Russian workers have expressed their view through the Social-Democratic Duma group, which did not vote for the budget, (2) that they are issuing illegal leaflets in St. Petersburg, Riga, Moscow and the Caucasus, (3) that the organs of their Party, the C.C. and the C.O., have declared against international opportunism.

Is this “done”?—H’m.... Of course, Branting won’t like it, but it’s not our business to “please” the opportunists. If you are given 10–12 minutes and freedom of speech, then you should speak against German (and other) opportunism, without, of course, in any way touching either the Swedish Social-Democrats or their “Young”, and so forth. As regards restoring the International, I would advise you not to say anything, either directly or indirectly. I am sending you an article (a very good one!) on this theme (translate it and send it to Russia).[2] We shall keep silent on the question of restoring the International, and stay on the side lines. We must bide our time. The Leftists[3]   are beginning to stir among the Germans: if they have a split, then, maybe, the International will be saved from rotting.

As regards the watchword of “peace”, you are mistaken if you think the bourgeoisie doesn’t even want to hear of it. Today I have been reading the English Economist. The wise bourgeois of an advanced country are for peace (of course, in order to strengthen capitalism).[4] But we must not let ourselves be confused with the petty-bourgeois, sentimental liberals, etc. The epoch of the bayonet has begun. This is a fact; consequently, we have to fight with such a weapon too.

One of these days, the slogan of peace will be taken up by the German bourgeoisie, and particularly by the opportunists. We must stand for the watchword of the revolutionary proletariat, capable of fighting for its own aims— and that is civil war. This too is a very concrete watchword, and it alone unerringly reveals the main trends: either for the proletarian, or for the bourgeois cause.

As regards the debt to the Swedes,[5] neither I nor Nadezhda Konstantinovna can remember anything at all. But it is quite possible that either I did not know, or have forgotten. It would be a very good thing, therefore, to send them a friendly letter of thanks, suggesting that the debt should be “donated”. I think you yourself could do this, on behalf of the Petrograd Committee, for example, plus some Social-Democratic deputies, authorising you in Petrograd. I believe this would be the best form. I think you should act in the same way on the loan. I would not advise pushing a letter from me (it could start “factional” squabbles!). I will send a letter if you insist, but my advice is: don’t. Without me they will be better inclined to give, really! Refer to Petrovsky, get a letter from him (if need be), this is better, really!

All the very best,
N. Lenin

P.S. If Kollontai translates the Central Committee manifesto (from No. 33 of the C.O.) into German, perhaps you will send us a copy?

P.S. About the “peace” watchword. An interesting article by Bernstein in the last issue of Neue Zeit shows that in Britain, where the bourgeoisie is cleverest and freest of all, etc., there is a trend for peace from the standpoint of ultra-opportunism. That is, peace is the best guarantee of “social peace”, i.e., the submission of the proletariat to the bourgeoisie, the pacification of the proletariat, the continuation of the existence of capitalism. Bernstein’s article does not elaborate this. But it is obvious that there are many such peacemakers among the liberal and radical bourgeois of all countries. Add to this (1) that all chauvinists are also for peace (only on what terms)—and in the legal press, we shall not be allowed to speak of our terms! (2) that the German and Russian Courts are also for a particular kind of peace with each other (in secret today, half-open tomorrow), (3) that all the sentimental bourgeois and philistines are “for peace” from the “anti-revolutionary”, philistine, slavish, etc., standpoint.

The question is, who objectively now benefits from the watchword of peace? In any case, not the propaganda of the ideas of the revolutionary proletariat! Not the idea of utilising the war to hasten the collapse of capitalism!

Add to this the victory of the opportunist chauvinists in nearly all countries: the slogan of peace will only help them to extricate themselves.


[1] The Congress of the Swedish Social-Democratic Party took place in Stockholm on November 23, 1914. On the opening day, A.  Shlyapnikov, under the pseudonym of Belenin, made a declaration on behalf of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. in accordance with the instructions given in the present letter (see also present edition, Vol. 21, p. 108).

[2] A. Pannekoek’s article, “Der Zusammenbruch der Internationale” (The Collapse of the International), was published in the Swiss Left-wing Social-Democratic newspaper, Berner Tagwacht Nos. 245, 246 and 247 of October 20, 21 and 22, 1914.

[3] The formation within the German Social-Democratic Party of an internationalist Left-wing group headed by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, which formed the nucleus of the Spartacus League.

[4] An apparent reference to the article “The Opening of Parliament”, published in the British bourgeois journal The Economist No. 3, 716, November 14, 1914.

Lenin’s article “Bourgeois Philanthropists and Revolutionary Social-Democracy” (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 192–93) gives a review of The Economist’s stand on peace.

[5] The loan of 3,000 kronen was obtained by the R.S.D.L.P. from the Swedish Social-Democratic Party in 1907 during its Fifth Congress (London).

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