V. I.   Lenin

At the Uttermost Limit

Published: Sotsial-Demokrat No. 48, November 20, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 421-422.
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.

The transformation of individuals from radical Social-Democrats and revolutionary Marxists into social-chauvinists is a phenomenon common to all the belligerents. The spate of chauvinism is so overwhelming that on all sides it has carried along with it a number of Left-wing Social-Democrats who are spineless or have outlived themselves. Parvus, who showed himself to be an adventurer as far back as the Russian revolution, has now really reached the uttermost limit, this in his little magazine, Die Glocke[1]. With an incredibly brazen air of self-satisfaction, he has taken the German opportunists under his wing. He flouts the beliefs he once cherished, and has forgotten the struggle between the revolutionary and the opportunist trends, and their history in the international Social-Democratic movement. With the bounce of a columnist confident of the bourgeoisie’s approval, he pats Marx on the shoulder, “correcting” him, without a vestige of conscientious or attentive criticism. He treats a certain Engels with undisguised contempt, and defends Britain’s pacifists and internationalists and Germany’s nationalists and jingoists. Rebuking the British social-patriots, whom he calls chauvinists and toadies to the bourgeoisie, he at the same time lauds the German social-patriots as revolutionary Social-Democrats and exchanges embraces with Lensch, Haenisch, Grunwald. He fawns upon Hindenburg, assuring his readers that “the German General Staff has taken a stand for a revolution in Russia”, and publishing servile paeans to this “embodiment of the German people’s soul”, its “mighty revolutionary sentiment”. He promises Germany a painless transition to socialism through an alliance between the   conservatives and part of the socialists, and through “bread ration cards”. Like the petty coward he is, he condescendingly semi-approves of the Zimmerwald Conference, pretending not to have noticed in its manifesto the expressions directed against all shades of social-chauvinism, from the Parvus and Plekhanov variety, to that of Kolb and Kautsky.

In all six issues of his little journal there is not a single honest thought or earnest argument or sincere article. It is nothing but a cesspool of German chauvinism covered over with a coarsely painted signboard, which alleges it represents the interests of the Russian revolution! It is perfectly natural for this cesspool to come in for praise from such opportunists as Kolb and the editors of the Chemnitz Volksstimme.[2]

Mr. Parvus has the effrontery to publicly declare it his “mission” “to serve as an ideological link between the armed German proletariat and the revolutionary Russian proletariat”. lt is enough to expose this clownish phrase to the ridicule of the Russian workers. If Prizyv of Messrs. Plekhanov, Bunakov and Co; has won full approval from the chauvinists and the Khvostovs in Russia, then Mr. Parvus’s Die Glocke is the organ of apostacy and grovelling flunkeyism in Germany.

In this connection another useful aspect of the present war should be noted. Not only are its quick-firing guns killing opportunism and anarchism, but the war itself is stripping the mask off the adventurers and renegades of socialism. It is to the proletariat’s advantage that history has started this preliminary purge of its movement on the eve of the socialist revolution, not during its course.


[1] Die Glocke(The Bell )—a fortnightly journal published in Munich und later in Berlin 1915-25 by Parvus (Alexander Gelfand). , a social-chauvinist   member of the German Social-Democratic Party and an agent of German imperialism.

[2] Volksstimme(The People’s Voice )—an organ of the German Social-Democratic Party, published in Chemnitz from 1891 onwards.

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