V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written in August 1916
Published: First published in 1932 in Bolshevik No. 22. Sent from Flums to Hertenstein (Switzerland). Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 228-229.
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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Bukharin’s article is beyond question unsuitable.[2] There is not any shadow of a “theory of the imperialist state”. There is a summary of data about the growth of state capitalism, and nothing else. To fill an illegal journal with this most legal material would be absurd. It must be rejected (with supreme politeness, promising every assistance in getting it published legally).[1]

But perhaps we had better wait for Yuri’s article, and not write to Bukharin for the time being.

We should wait, too, with the letter to Bukharin about their “faction”, otherwise he will think that we have rejected it out of “factionalism”.

To pose the question of the “epoch” and the “present war”, as though they were “extremes”, is just what is meant by falling into eclecticism. Just as though our aim were to strike the “happy mean” between “extremes”!!!

The problem is to give a correct definition of the relationship of the epoch to the present war. This has been done both in the resolutions and in my articles:
“the present imperialist war is not an exception, but a typical phenomenon in the imperialist epoch.” [[The typical is not the unique.]]

One cannot understand the present war without understanding the epoch.

When people say Ibis about the epoch, this is not just a phrase. It is correct. And your quotations from my old articles say only that. They are correct.

But when people draw from this the conclusion, as they have begun to do, that “in the epoch of imperialism there cannot be national wars”, that is nonsense. It is an obvious error—historical and political and logical (for an epoch is a sum of varied phenomena, in which in addition to the typical there is always something else).

And you repeat this error, when you write in your remarks:

Small countries cannot in the present epoch defend their fatherland.”
[=the vulgarisers]

Untrue!! This is just the error of Junius, Radek, the “disarmers” and the Japanese!!

One should say: “Small countries, too, cannot in imperialist wars, which are most typical of the current imperialist epoch, defend their fatherland.”

That is quite different.

In this difference lies the whole essence of the case against the vulgarisers. And it’s just the essence which you haven’t noticed.

Grimm repeats the error of the vulgarisers, and yon indulge him by providing a wrong formulation. On the contrary, it is just now that we must (both in talks and in articles) refute the vulgarisers for Grimm’s benefit.

We are not at all against “defence of the fatherland” in general, not against “defensive wars” in general. You will never find that nonsense in a single resolution (or in any of my articles).
NB |||
We are against defence of the fatherland and a defensive position in the imperialist war of 1914–16 and in other imperialist wars, typical of the imperialist epoch. But in the imperialist epoch there may be also “just”, “ defensive”, revolutionary wars [[namely (1) national, (2) civil, (3) socialist and suchlike.]]


[1] Privately, in my own name, I will advise Bukharin to change the title and retain only the economic part. For the political part is quite incomplete, not thought out, useless.—Lenin

[2] For Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata Bukharin wrote an article called “On the Theory of the Imperialist State”, but because of its mistaken anti-Marxist propositions concerning the question of the state and the dictatorship of the proletariat the article was rejected by the editors.

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