V. I.   Lenin

On the London Conference

Published: Sotstal-Demokrat, No. 40, March 29, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotstal-Demokrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 178-180.
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters and R. Cymbala
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The declaration by Comrade Maximovich, representative of the R.S.D.L.P,’s Central Committee, which we are publishing here, fully expresses our Party’s views on this Conference. The French bourgeois press has excellently revealed its significance as an expedient or a stratagem of the Anglo-French bourgeoisie. The roles have been distributed as follows: Le Temps and L’Echo de Paris[1] have attacked the French socialists for their allegedly excessive concessions to internationalism. These attacks have been merely a stratagem designed to pave the way for Premier Viviani’s well-known declaration in the Chamber, which was marked by an aggressive patriotism. On the other hand, Journal des Débats[2] laid the cards on the table by stating that the whole point was in getting the British socialists, under Keir Hardie, who had hitherto been opposed to the war and to conscription, to vote, at the Conference, for the war to be prosecuted until victory is won over Germany. This is tangible and important as the political outcome of the British and French socialists having been won over to the side of the Anglo-French bourgeoisie. As for the phrases on internationalism, socialism, a referendum, etc., these are merely phrases, idle words of no significance whatever.

No doubt, the clever reactionaries of the French bourgeoisie have blurted out the real truth. The war is being conducted by the Anglo-French bourgeoisie, plus their Russian counterpart, with the aim of ravaging and plundering Germany, Austria and Turkey. It stands in need of recruiting officers, as well as of socialist consent to fight on until victory over Germany is won. The rest is idle and shameful   phrase-mongering, which prostitutes such great words as socialism, internationalism, etc. To follow the bourgeoisie and help it plunder other countries in deed, and to regale the masses with hypocritical recognition of “socialism and the International” in word-such is opportunism’s cardinal sin and the main reason why the Second International has collapsed.

The task confronting the opponents of social-chauvinism at the London Conference was therefore clear: in the name of clear-cut anti-chauvinist principles, they had to walk out from the Conference, without at the same time falling into Germanophilism, since, for no other motive but chauvinism, the pro-Germans are decidedly opposed to the London Conference. Comrade Maximovich accomplished that task when he spoke in definite terms of the treachery of the German socialists.

The Bundists and the adherents of the Organising Committee are unable to grasp this simple and obvious fact. The former are Germanophiles, in the way Kosovsky is, who frankly justifies the German Social-Democrats’ vote for war credits (see Information Bulletin of the Bund No. 7, January 1915, p. 7, beginning of § 5); The editors of the bulletin made no mention of their disagreeing with Kosovsky, although they did emphasise that they were in disagreement with Borisov, that champion of Russian patriotism. The Manifesto of the Bund’s Central Committee (ibid., p. 3) does not contain a single explicit word against social-chauvinism.

The Organising Committee’s supporters want a reconciliation between the Germanophile and the Francophile brands of chauvinism as can be seen from Axelrod’s statements (Gobs Nos. 86 and 87 and from the first issue of Izvestia of the Organising Committee’s secretariat abroad.[3] Feb. 22, 1915). When the editors of Nashe Shovo proposed that we take joint action against “official social-chauvinism”, we replied outright that the Organising Committee and the Bund had themselves sided with official social-patriotism. In our reply we enclosed our draft declaration and referred to Comrade Maximovich’s decisive vote.

Why is Nashe Sbovo trying to deceive itself and others in failing to mention this in its editorial of No. 32? Why is   it silent about our declaration having also spoken of the German Social-Democrats’ treachery? The Nashe Slovo declaration omitted this most important and fundamental point: neither we nor Comrade Maximovich adopted that declaration, or could have done so. That was why joint action by the Organising Committee and ourselves did not result. Why, then, is Nashe Slovo deceiving itself and others in asserting that a basis exists for unity of action?

Official social-patriotism” is the main evil in present day socialism. To combat that evil (and not to become reconciled to it, or to declare a mutual international “amnesty” on this point), all forces must be prepared and mustered. Kautsky and others have produced a clear-cut programme for an “amnesty” and a peace with social-chauvinism. We have tried to give a clear-cut programme for the struggle against it: see, in particular, No. 33 of Sotsial-Demokrat, and the resolutions published therein. It remains for us to express the wish that Nashe Slovo go over to something more definite than vacillation between “platonic sympathy with internationalism”, and peace with social-chauvinism.


[1] L’Echo de Paris—an extremely reactionary bourgeois daily, published in Paris from 1884 to 1938.

Le Temps—a bourgeois daily, published in Paris from 1861 to 1942. Lenin is referring to the two articles on the London Conference, published in this newspaper on February 15 and 10, 1915.

[2] Journal des Débats politiques et littéraires—a bourgeois weekly published in Paris from 1894 to 1934, Lenin is referring to the article “The London Conference of Socialists” published in its issue of February 19, 1915.

[3] Izvestia of the Secretariat Abroad of the O.C. R.S.D.L,P. was published in Switzerland by the Menshevik Organising Committee from February 1915 to March 1917.

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