Written: Written in August 1915
Published: First published in Pravda No. 18, January 21, 1928. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 367-369.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2003 (2005). 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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The European war has been in progress for over a year. All things considered, it will last for a long time, because, while Germany is best prepared and at present the strongest, the Quadruple Entente (Russia, Britain, France, end Italy) has more men and money, and besides, freely gets war material from the United States of America, the world’s richest Country.
What is this war being fought for, which is bringing mankind unparalleled suffering? The government and the bourgeoisie of each belligerent country are squandering millions of rubles on hooks and newspapers so as to lay the blame on the foe, arouse the people’s furious hatred of the enemy, and stop at no lie so as to depict themselves as the side that has been unjustly attacked and is now “defending” itself. In reality, this is a war between two groups of predatory Great Powers, and it is being fought for the partitioning of colonies, the enslavement of other nations, and advantages and privileges of the world market. This is a most reactionary war, a war o modern slave-holders aimed at preserving and consolidating capitalist. slavery. Britain and France are lying when they assert that they are warring for Belgium’s freedom. In reality, they have long been preparing the war, and are waging it with the purpose of robbing Germany and stripping her of her colonies; they have signed a treaty with Italy and Russia on the pillage and carving up of Turkey and Austria. The tsarist monarchy in Russia is waging a predatory war aimed at seizing Galicia, taking territory away from Turkey, enslaving Persia, Mongolia, etc. Germany is waging war with the purpose of grabbing British, Belgian, and French colonies. Whether Germany or Russia wins, or whether there is a “draw”, the war will bring humanity fresh oppression of hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in the colonies, in Persia, Turkey and China, a fresh enslavement of nations, and new chains for the working class of all countries.
What are the tasks of the working class with regard to this war? The answer to this question is provided in a resolution unanimously adopted by the socialists of the whole world, at the Basic International Socialist Congress of 1912. This resolution was adopted in anticipation of a war of the very kind as started in 1914. This resolution says that the war is reactionary, that it is being prepared in the interests of “capitalist profits”, that the workers consider it “a crime to shoot each other down”, that the war will lead to “a proletarian revolution”, that an example for the workers’ tactics was set by the Paris Commune of 1871, and by October-December 1905, in Russia, i.e., by a revolution.
All class-conscious workers in Russia are on the side of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma, whose members (Petrovsky, Badayev, Muranov, Samoilov, and Shagov) have been exiled by the tsar to Siberia for revolutionary propaganda against the war and against the government. It is only in such revolutionary propaganda, and in revolutionary activities leading to a revolt of the masses, that the salvation of humanity from the horrors of the present and the future wars lies. Only the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois governments, in the first place of the most reactionary, brutal, and barbarous tsarist government, will open the road to socialism and peace among nations.
The conscious or unwitting servants of the bourgeoisie are lying when they wish to persuade the people that the revolutionary overthrow of the tsarist monarchy can lead only to victories for and consolidation of the German reactionary monarchy and the German bourgeoisie. Although the leaders of the German socialists, like many leading socialists in Russia, have gone over to the side of their “own” bourgeoisie and are helping to deceive the people with fables of a war of “defence”, there is mounting among the working masses of Germany an ever stronger protest and indignation against their government. The German socialists who have not gone over to the side of the bourgeoisie have declared in the press that they consider the tactics of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma “heroic”. In Germany, calls against the war and against the government are being published illegally. Tens and hundreds of the finest socialists of Germany, including Clara Zetkin, the well-known representative of the women’s labour movement, have been thrown into prison by the German Government for propaganda in a revolutionary spirit. In all the belligerent countries without exception, indignation is mounting in the working masses, and the example of revolutionary activities set by the Social-Democrats of Russia, and even more so any success of the revolution in Russia, will not fail to advance the great cause of socialism, of the victory of the proletariat over the bloodstained bourgeois exploiters.
The war is filling the pockets of the capitalists, into whose pockets gold is pouring from the treasuries of the Great Powers. The war is provoking a blind bitterness against the enemy, the bourgeoisie doing its best to direct the indignation of the people into such channels, to divert their attention from the chief enemy—the government and the ruling classes of their own country. However, the war which brings in its train endless misery and suffering for the toiling masses, enlightens and steels the finest representatives of the working class. If perish we must, let its perish in the struggle for our own cause, for the cause of the workers, for the socialist revolution, and not for the interests of the capitalists, the landowners, and tsars—this is what every class-conscious worker sees and feels. Revolutionary Social-Democratic work may be difficult at present, but it is possible. It is advancing throughout the world, and in this alone lies salvation.
Down with the tsarist monarchy, which has drawn Russia into a criminal war, and which oppresses the peoples! Long live the world brotherhood of the workers, and the international revolution of the proletariat!