V. I.   Lenin

The London Conference

Published: Sotsial-Demokrat No. 39, March 3, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 132-134.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (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.

Below we quote, with abbreviations, a letter from the R.S.D.L.P. representative:

“London, Feb. 14, 1915.

It was only last night that I received from the secretary of the British section of the International the address of the Conference, this in reply to my letter, in which I informed him of my address, without asking for an invitation. I decided to go there so as to try to read the declaration. Present were: from the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Rubanovich (from the social-chauvinists), Chernov and Bobrov from Mysi; Maisky from the Organising Committee, he being delegated together with Martov, who failed to appear, as he had received no pass. There were eleven delegates from Britain (Keir Hardie as Chairman, MacDonald and others); sixteen from France (Sembat, Vaillant and others); three from Belgium (Vandorvelde and others).

The Chairman opened the Conference by declaring that its aim was to exchange opinions, not to adopt resolutions. A French delegate proposed an amendment, asking why a resolution should not be passed registering the opinion of the majority. This was accepted without discussion.

The agenda: (1) the rights of nations-Belgium and Poland; (2) colonies; (3) guarantees of peace. A Credentials Committee was elected (Rubanovich and others). It was decided that one representative from each country should make a brief report on the attitude to the war.

I took the floor and protested against the failure to invite our Party’s official representative in the International Socialist Bureau [Comrade Maximovich,[2] who has for over a year been a mem ber of the I. S. Bureau as representative   of our Party, and is permanently resident in London]. The Chairman interrupted me, referring to the invitation of all ‘whose names are known’. I once more protested against the failure to inform the genuine representatives. Then I referred to our Manifesto [see Sotsjal-Dernokrat No. 33, “The War and Russian Social-Democracy”[1] ], which shows our over-all attitude towards the war, and has been sent to the I. S. Bureau. Prior to speaking of the conditions of peace, I said, it was necessary to establish the means by which we would endeavour to achieve peace; with that end, the existence of a general revolutionary Social-Democratic basis should be ascertained, and also whether we were conferring as chauvinists, as pacifists, or as SocialDemocrats. I was reading our declaration, but the Chairman interrupted me, declaring that my standing as a delegate had not yet been established [!] and that they had gathered, ‘not for criticism of various parties’ [!]. I stated that I would continue my speech after the report of the Credentials Committee. [The text of the declaration we were not allowed to read appears in the next issue.]

Brief statements on the general situation were made by Vaillant, V.andervelde, MacDonald, and Ruhanovich. Then, following the report of the Credentials Committee, Maisky was asked to himself decide whether he could alone represent the Organising Committee, and I was “permitted” to attend. I thanked the Conference for their “courtesy” and was about to continue reading out the declaration so as to ascertain whether I could remain, The Chairman interrupted me, saying he would not allow me to present “conditions” to the Conference. Then I asked for permission to say why I would not take part in the Conference. This was rejected. I then asked for permission to state that the R.S.D.L.P. was not taking part in the Conference. As for the reasons, I was leaving a written statement with the Chairman. I gathered my papers and left ....

The Chairman was given a statement from the Chairman of the Central Committee of the Lettish Social-Democrats [Berzinj to the effect that he fully agreed with our declaration.”

The delegates to the Conference were not allowed to give any information to the press. This, of course, did not apply to Comrade Maximovich’s leaving the Conference, and the Labour Leader,[3] in which Keir Hardie collaborates, made some general comments on Maximovich’s having left the Conference and on his point of view.

Owing to lack of space, we shall have to deal with the London Conference and its resolutions in our next issue. We shall however note the utter uselessness of its resolutions, which merely cover up social-chauvinism.

The following is the set-up of the Russian representation: the Central Committee and the Lettish Social-Democrats are resolutely and clearly opposed to social-chauvinism. The liquidators’ Organising Committee either stay away or else get in the way. As for the Socialist-Revolutionaries the “party” (Rubanovich) is for social-chauvinism, while Mysl (Bobrov and Chernov) form the opposition, which we shall give an appraisal of when we learn the kind of statement they have made.


[1] See pp. 25-34 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Maximovich—M. M. Litvinov.

[3] Labour Leader—a weekly published since 1891; since 1893, organ of the Independent Labour Party of Briain. As from 1922, the newspaper appeared under the name New Leader and in 1946 it became the Socialist Leaders.

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