V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written in the last days of April 1915
Published: First published in January 1929 in the journal Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 1. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 322-328.
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.
Other Formats:   TextREADME



1. This year, the demonstration of the international proletarian movement takes place during the greatest European war.

2. Perhaps nothing can be done in 1915 for “a review of forces”? for comparing “successes and defeats”? for contrasting the bourgeois world and the proletarian world?— since the appearance = all has collapsed.

3. But this is not so. War = the greatest possible crisis. Every crisis means (with the possibility of temporary retardation and regress)
(α) acceleration of development
(γ) (β) sharpening of contradictions
(β) (γ) their exposure
(δ) collapse of all that is rotten, etc.

That is the standpoint from which to consider the crisis (on May Day): does it have any of the progressive, useful features of any crisis?


4. “Defence of fatherlands” and the actual nature of the war. What is the essence? Nationalism versus imperialism.

5. 1789–1871 (about 100 years)...
and 1905–?

6. “Defence of fatherlands” (Belgium? Galicia? Over the division of the slaveowners’ spoils) 

versus “away with frontiers”. Collapse of national fatherlands? Good riddance!

7. Imperialism old and new—Rome and Britain versus Germany.

{ Seizure of territories
Division of the world
Export of capital }

8. Maturity of the objective conditions for socialism.

9. How to defend the status quo?

How to carry on the revolutionary struggle for socialism?

10. National freedom versus imperialism. The proletariat of oppressor and oppressed nations.

11. “Internationalism” in the attitude to wars. ((“Which bourgeoisie is better”? or independent action by the proletariat?))

12. Back (to the national fatherland) or forward (to the socialist revolution)? [[ σ= the collapse of national narrowness. ]]


13. Everyone feels (if he does not realise) the turning-point in the history of the working-class movement. The crisis and the collapse of the International. What is the cause? Was the International united, or were there two trends?

14. A review of attitudes to the war within the working-class movement of the major countries:

Germany: August 4 versus Borchardt and Die Internationale[10] Britain: France: (Guesde + Sembat versus Merrheim) Russia:

( Italy Switzerland [practice, two parties everywhere] Sweden

15. What is the point? Compare the British and the German labour movement = 

Bourgeois tendencies and influence in the labour movement.

16. Fifteen years of struggle against opportunism, and its growth in Western Europe. The collapse of opportunism benefits the working-class movement.


17. The crisis of official Marxism (1895–1915). Not to resurrect the corpse, but to develop revolutionary Marxism against opportunist “would-be Marxism”.

18. Marxism versus Struvism....

Dialectics versus eclecticism....

19. Torn banner? Stuttgart 1907 Chemnitz[1] Kropotkine (disillusionment) «— 1MO

20. “All possibilities” except revolutionary action.

21. Anarchism =opportunism (petty-bourgeois). La Bataille Syndicaliste

Cornelissen Grave Kropotkine

22. Abdankung der deutschen Sozialdemokratie.[2]

Ineffectual organisations have broken up or, rather, perished—to clear the ground for better ones. “Over-ripening” (not that the proletariat has riot matured): compare 1907.


23. The war is seen, on the one hand, as a single national cause, and on the other, as an abnormality, a disruption of “peaceful” capitalism, etc.

Both illusions are harmful. And the war tends to destroy both illusions.

24. “ Burgfrieden”,[3] the “national bloc”, “l’union sacrée[4] during the war?

25. War is a “terrible” thing? Yes. But it is a terribly profitable thing.

160,000 millions>60,000 million rubles. Mehrwert[5] =10,000–20,000 million rubles.

26. “Adaptation” of industry to war conditions. (Ruin. Rapid concentration.)

27. War and the pillars of capitalism.

Peaceful democracy”, “culture”, “the rule of law”, etc., versus the horrors of war?


Private property and exchange. The guarantee of ruin for some, the guarantee and basis of violence:

28. Colonies and concessions. “Honest concessionaire”? “Humane” colonialist?

29. War = a terribly profitable thing = the direct and inevitable product of capitalism.

30. Harmful illusions can only hinder the struggle against capitalism.


31. Capitalism without imperialism? (Shall we look back?)

32. Theoretically (in the abstract) it is possible even without colonies, etc.

33. Just as with a 4–hour working day, 3,000 workers minimum....

Ad 33: “Capitalism can develop without imperialism, without wars, without colonies, with full freedom of trade.”

Is that true?

Capitalism can provide thousands of millions not for war, but in aid of the paupers and the workers, thereby perpetuating the domination of the capitalist class!

Theoretically identical propositions. “Compelling pressure of the working class and humanitarian measures of the bourgeoisie.” The whole point is that such things can be compelled not by pressure in general; what is needed is pressure with the force of a real revolution. And the revolution and counter-revolution will sharpen the struggle to something more essential.

The question boils down to a struggle for reforms. This struggle is legitimate and necessary within definite limits, viz.:

(1) absence of a revolutionary situation; (2) partial character of the reforms, not to sharpen the struggle of classes to the point of revolution.

34. On account of what? On account of the horrors of war? (And what about the terrible profits?)

On account of pressure from the proletariat? (And what about the opportunists’ betrayal?)

35. Peace without annexations, “Abolition of secret disarmament, etc., etc. diplomacy”?

Objective meaning:, clerical consolations ((Feuerbach: religion consoles. “Utopia or Hell”? N.B. [The review of Forel in Das Volksrecht]

Is it useful?))

36. The struggle for reforms? Yes.—Its limits. Particulars.

An epoch of reforms, the absence of a revolutionary situation.

This is the crux.


37. Revolutionary situations (α) the lower orders won’t, the upper classes can’t  (&geta;) growth of misery  (γ) extraordinary activity.

38. Slow and tortuous development.
Compare 1900 versus 1905.

39. Plunder by the capitalists

Kriegssklaverei[6] and deception by the governments?

40. The war and the marvels of technique?

41. The war and regrouping,
(workers versus peasants)

42. Three mental attitudes (α) despair and religion (β) hatred of the enemy (γ) hatred of capitalism, not only in general, but of one’s own government and bourgeoisie.

43. The “Gaponade”.[11]

44. Letter: Mundspitzen[7] (“Kamarades”)

45. Every crisis breaks some ££ and hardens others. Collapse of what is harmful, rotten in the labour movement= elimination of the obstacles to revolutionary battles.

46. Hardens—for the socialist revolution (σσ).


By the way. The 10,000 million loan in Germany. The loan will yield 5 per cent. The government has so arranged things that the savings banks (for subscription to the loan) receive funds from the loan offices (Darlehenskassen), paying them 5.25 per cent. The loan offices get the money from the government! A swindle. Das Volksrecht (Zurich), of April  27, 1915.[12]

The absurdity of “amiable” utopias: without secret diplomacy—we proclaim the aims of the war—peace without annexations,, etc., etc. Sentimental and reactionary rubbish.

The old nations ( respective,[8] the bourgeois states) versus “away with frontiers”!

The experience of Russia: 1900 versus 1905.

Down with the autocracy
(1900) and the “people”.... Revolutionary slogans and the
growth of the revolutionary


[1] Evidently meaning the Copenhagen Congress.—Ed.

[2] The recantation of German Social-Democrats.—Ed.

[3] Civil peace.—Ed.

[4] Holy Alliance.—Ed.

[5] Surplus value.—Ed.

[6] War slavery.—Ed.

[7] Get ready to whistle.—Ed.

[8] Correspondingly.—Ed.

[9] The summary of a lecture. It is not known whether or not it was read.

[10] Julian Borchardt’s group, Internationale Sozialisten Deutschlands (International Socialists of Germany), together with the Internationale group (Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin and others) constituted the revolutionary opposition among the German Social-Democrats and openly opposed the war.

[11] On the eve of the 1905 Russian revolution, the priest Gapon, on assignment from the Okhranka (Secret Political Police), formed an organisation, the Assembly of Russian Factory Workers, with the aim of distracting the workers’ attention from revolutionary struggle. On January 9 (22), 1905, Gapon provoked the workers into marching to the Winter Palace to hand in a petition to the tsar. On the tsar’s orders, the demonstrators were shot down.

[12] Volksrecht (People’s Right) No. 97, April 27, 1915, carried an article, “Die Anleihenspirale” (Loan Spiral), which exposed the financial machinations of Helferich (German Minister of Finance) designed to ensure the success of the second 10–billion war loan.

< backward   forward >
Works Index   |   Volume 36 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index