V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written on July 26, 1915
Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Sörenberg (Switzerland) to Christiania (Oslo). Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 198-199.
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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Dear A. M.,

We are sending you the money tomorrow. Many thanks for the news from Russia. In principle we have nothing against an agreement; we hope that you will be extra careful.

As regards armament of the people versus disarmament, it seems to me all the same that we cannot alter the programme.[4] If the words about the class struggle are not an empty phrase in the liberal sense (as they have become with the opportunists, Kautsky and Plekhanov), how can one object to a fact of history—the transformation of this struggle, under certain conditions, into civil war? How moreover can an oppressed class in general be against the armament of the people?

To reject this means to fall into a semi-anarchist attitude to imperialism—in my belief, this can be seen in certain Left-wingers even among ourselves. Once there is imperialism, they say, then we don’t need either self-determination of nations or the armament of the people! That is a crying error. It is precisely for the socialist revolution against imperialism that we need both one and the other.

Is it “realisable”? Such a criterion is incorrect. Without revolution almost the entire minimum programme is unrealisable. Put in that way, realisability declines into Philistinism.

It seems to me that this question (like all questions of Social-Democratic tactics today) can be put only in connection with the evaluation of (and reckoning with) opportunism. And it is clear that “disarmament”, as a tactical watchword,   is opportunism. Moreover it is a provincial one, it stinks of a little state, detachment from the struggle, poverty of ideas: “it’s no business of mine”....

We are sending you the draft (individual) of a declaration of the international Left.[1] We urge you to translate it and to pass it on to the Left in Sweden and Norway, in order to make a business-like advance to a Verständigung[2] with them. Send us your observations, resp. your counterdraft, if you wish, and secure the same from the Left in Scandinavia.

Beste Grüsse.[3]



[1] Reference is to “The Draft Resolution Proposed by the Left Wing at Zimmerwald” (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 345–48).—Ed.

[2] Understanding.—Ed.

[3] Best greetings.—Ed.

[4] Reference is to the twelfth point in the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P. approved by the Second R.S.D.L.P. Congress. It was stated in the Programme that the Party set itself the immediate aim of overthrowing the tsarist autocracy and replacing it with a democratic republic, whose constitution would, as the twelfth point stipulated, ensure “replacement of the regular army by the general arming of the people”.

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