V. I.   Lenin

The Junius Pamphlet

Written: Written in July, 1916
Published: Published in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1, October 1916. Signed: N. Lenin. Published according to the text in Sbornik.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, UNKNOWN, [19xx], Moscow, Volume 22, pages 305-319.
Transcription\Markup: Charles Farrell and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2000 (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.
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At last there has appeared in Germany, illegally, without any adaptation to the despicable Junker censorship, a Social-Democratic pamphlet dealing with questions of the war! The author, who evidently belongs to the “Left-radical” wing of the Party, signs himself Junius[3] (which in Latin means junior) and gave his pamphlet the title: The Crisis of Social-Democracy. Appended are the “Theses on the Tasks of International Social-Democracy,” which have already been submitted to the Berne I.S.C. (International Socialist Committee) and published in No. 3 of its Bulletin; the theses were drafted by the “International” group, which in the spring of 1915 published one issue of a magazine under that title (with articles by Zetkin, Mehring, R. Luxemburg, Thalheimer, Duncker, Ströbel and others), and which in the winter of 1915-16 convened a conference of Social-Democrats from all parts of Germany[4] at which these theses were adopted.

The pamphlet, the author says in the introduction dated January 2, 1916, was written in April, 1915, and published “without any alteration”. “Outside circumstances” prevented it from being published earlier. The pamphlet is devoted not so much to the “crisis of Social-Democracy” as to an analysis of the war, to refuting the legend of its being a war for national liberation, to proving that it is an imperialist war on the part of Germany as well as on the part of the other Great Powers, and to a revolutionary criticism of the behaviour of the official party. Written in a very lively style, Junius’ pamphlet has undoubtedly played and will play an important role in the struggle against the ex-Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which has deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie and the Junkers, and we heartily greet the author.

To the Russian reader who is familiar with the Social-Democratic Literature published abroad in Russian in 1914-16, Junius’ pamphlet offers nothing new in principle. But in reading this pamphlet and comparing the arguments of this German revolutionary Marxist with what has been stated, for example, in the manifesto of the Central Committee of our Party (September-November, 1914) in the Berne resolutions (March, 1915) and in the numerous commentaries on them, it becomes dear that Junius’ arguments are very incomplete and that he commits two errors. Proceeding to criticise Junius’ faults and errors we must strongly emphasise that we do so for the sake of self criticism, which is so necessary for Marxists, and of submitting to an all-round test the views which must serve as the ideological basis of the Third International. On the whole, Junius’ pamphlet is a splendid Marxian work, and in all probability its defects are, to a certain extent, accidental.

The chief defect in Junius’ pamphlet, and what marks a definite step backward compared with the legal (although immediately suppressed) magazine, international, is its silence regarding the connection between social-chauvinism (the author uses neither this nor the less precise term social-patriotism) and opportunism. The author rightly speaks of the “capitulation” and collapse of the German Social-Democratic Party and of the “treachery” of its “official leaders,” but he goes no further than this. The International, however, did criticise the “Centre,” i.e., Kautskyism, and quite properly poured ridicule on it for its spinelessness, its prostitution of Marxism and its servility to the opportunists. This magazine also began to expose the role the opportunists are really playing by making known, for example, the very important fact that on August 4, 1914, the opportunists came forth with an ultimatum, with their minds made up to vote for the war credits under any circumstances. Neither in Junius’ pamphlet nor in the theses is anything said about opportunism or about Kautskyism! This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, for it   is impossible to explain the “betrayal” without linking it up with opportunism as a trend with a long history, the history of the whole Second International. It is a mistake from the practical-political standpoint, for it is impossible to understand the “crisis of Social-Democracy” or overcome it without making clear the meaning and the role of two trends: the avowedly opportunist trend (Legien, David etc.) and the masked opportunist trend (Kautsky and Co.). This is a step backward compared with the historic article by Otto Ruhle in Vorwärts of January 13, 1916, in which he directly and openly pointed out that a split in the Social-Democratic Party of Germany was inevitable (the editors of the Vorwärts answered him by repeating honeyed and hypocritical Kautskyist phrases, for they were unable to advance a single material argument to disprove the assertion that there were already two parties in existence, and that these two parties could not be reconciled). It is astonishingly inconsistent, because the international thesis No. 12 directly states that it is necessary to create a “new” International, owing to the “treachery” of the “official representatives of the Socialist Parties of the leading countries” and their “adoption of the principles of bourgeois imperialist politics.” Clearly, to suggest that the old Social-Democratic Party of Germany, or parties which tolerate Legien, David and Co, would participate in a “new” International is simply ridiculous.

We do not know why the international group took this step backward. A very great defect in revolutionary Marxism in Germany as a whole is its lack of a compact illegal organisation that would systematically pursue its line and educate the masses in the spirit of the new tasks; such an organisation would also have to take a definite stand towards opportunism and Kautskyism. This is all the more necessary now, since the German revolutionary Social-Democrats have been deprived of their last two daily papers: the one in Bremen (Bremen = Burger-zeitung),[5] and the one in Brunswick (Volksfreund),[6] both of which have gone over to the Kautskyists. That the “International Socialists of Germany” (I.S.D.) group alone remains at its post is definitely clear to everybody.

Some members of the international group have evidently slipped once again into the morass of unprincipled   Kautskyism. Ströbel, for instance, went so far as to make obeisance, in the Neue Zeit, to Bernstein and Kautsky! And only the other day, on August 15, 1916, he had an article in the papers entitled “Pacifism and Social-Democracy,” in which he defends the most vulgar type of Kautskyian pacifism. Junius, however, strongly opposes Kautsky’s fantastic schemes for “disarmament,” “abolition of secret diplomacy” etc. Perhaps there are two trends in the international group: a revolutionary trend and a trend wavering in the direction of Kautskyism.

The first of Junius’ erroneous postulates, the first is contained in the International group’s thesis No. 5: “In the epoch (era) of this unbridled imperialism, there can be no more national wars. National interests serve only as an instrument of deception, to deliver the masses of the toiling people into the service of their mortal enemy, imperialism....” This postulate is the end of thesis No. 5, the first part of which is devoted to the description of the present war as an imperialist war. The repudiation of national wars in general may either be an oversight or a fortuitous over-emphasis of the perfectly correct idea that the present war is an imperialist war and not a national war. But as the opposite may be true, as various Social-Democrats mistakenly repudiate all national wars because the present war is falsely represented to be a national war, we are obliged to deal with this mistake.

Junius is quite right in emphasising the decisive influence of the “imperialist background” of the present war, when he says that behind Serbia there is Russia, “behind Serbian nationalism there is Russian imperialism”; that even if a country like Holland took part in the present war, she too would be waging an imperialist war, because, firstly, Holland would be defending her colonies, and, secondly, she would be an ally of one of the imperialist coalitions. This is indisputable in relation to the present war. And when Junius lays particular emphasis on what to him is the most important point: the struggle against the “phantom of national war, which at present dominates Social-Democratic policy” (p. 81, Junius’ pamphlet), we cannot but agree that his reasoning is correct and quite appropriate.

But it would be a mistake to exaggerate this truth; to depart from the Marxian rule to be concrete;   to apply the appraisal of the present war to all wars that are possible under imperialism; to lose sight of the national movements against imperialism. The only argument that can be used in defence of the thesis: “there can be no more national wars” is that the world has been divided up among a handful of “Great” imperialist powers, and, therefore, every war, even if it starts as a national war, is transformed into an imperialist war and affects the interests of one of the imperialist Powers or coalitions (p. 81 of Junius’ pamphlet).

The fallacy of this argument is obvious. Of course, the fundamental proposition of Marxian dialectics is that all boundaries in nature and society are conventional and mobile, that there is not a single phenomenon which cannot under certain conditions be transformed into its opposite. A national war can be transformed into an imperialist war, and vice versa. For example, the wars of the Great French Revolution started as national wars and were such. They were revolutionary wars because they were waged in defence of the Great Revolution against a coalition of counter-revolutionary monarchies. But after Napoleon had created the French Empire by subjugating a number of large, virile, long established national states of Europe, the French national wars became imperialist wars, which in their turn engendered wars for national liberation against Napoleon’s imperialism.

Only a sophist would deny that there is a difference between imperialist war and national war on the grounds that one can be transformed into the other. More than once, even in the history of Greek philosophy, dialectics have served as a bridge to sophistry. We, however, remain dialecticians and combat sophistry, not by a sweeping denial of the possibility of transformation in general, but by concretely analysing a given phenomenon in the circumstances that surround it and in its development.

It is highly improbable that this imperialist war of 1914–16 will be transformed into a national war, because the class that represents progress is the proletariat, which, objectively, is striving to transform this war into civil war against the bourgeoisie; and also because the strength of both coalitions is almost equally balanced, while international finance capital has everywhere created a reactionary bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that such a transformation is   impossible: if the European proletariat were to remain impotent for another twenty years; if the present war were to end in victories similar to those achieved by Napoleon, in the subjugation of a number of virile national states; if imperialism outside of Europe (primarily American and Japanese) were to remain in power for another twenty years without a transition to socialism, say, as a result of a Japanese-American war, then a great national war in Europe would be possible. This means that Europe would be thrown back for several decades. This is improbable. But it is not impossible, for to picture world history as advancing smoothly and steadily without sometimes taking gigantic strides backward is undialectical, unscientific and theoretically wrong.

Further, national wars waged by colonial, and semi-colonial countries are not only possible but inevitable in the epoch of imperialism. The colonies and semi-colonies (China, Turkey, Persia) have a population of nearly one billion, i.e., more than half the population of the earth. In these countries the movements for national liberation are either very strong already or are growing and maturing. Every war is a continuation of politics by other means. The national liberation politics of the colonies will inevitably be continued by national wars of the colonies against imperialism. Such wars may lead to an imperialist war between the present “Great” imperialist Powers or they may not; that depends on many circumstances.

For example: England and France were engaged in a seven years war for colonies, i.e., they waged an imperialist war (which is as possible on the basis of slavery, or of primitive capitalism, as on the basis of highly developed modern capitalism). France was defeated and lost part of her colonies. Several years later the North American States started a war for national liberation against England alone. Out of enmity towards England, i.e., in conformity with their own imperialist interests, France and Spain, which still held parts of what are now the United States, concluded friendly treaties with the states that had risen against England. The French forces together with the American defeated the English. Here we have a war for national liberation in which imperialist rivalry is a contributory element of no great importance, which is the opposite of what we have in the   war of 1914–16 (in which the national element in the Austro-Serbian war is of no great importance compared with the all determining imperialist rivalry). This shows how absurd it would be to employ the term imperialism in a stereotyped fashion by deducing from it that national wars are “impossible.” A war for national liberation waged, for example, by an alliance of Persia, India and China against certain imperialist Powers is quite possible and probable, for it follows logically from the national liberation movements now going on in those countries. Whether such a war will be transformed into an imperialist war among the present imperialist Powers will depend on a great many concrete circumstances, and it would be ridiculous to guarantee that these circumstances will arise.

Thirdly, national wars must not be regarded as impossible in the epoch of imperialism even in Europe. The “epoch of imperialism” made the present war an imperialist war; it inevitably engenders (until the advent of socialism) new imperialist war; it transformed the policies of the present Great Powers into thoroughly imperialist policies. But this “epoch” by no means precludes the possibility of national wars, waged, for example, by small (let us assume, annexed or nationally oppressed) states against the imperialist Powers, any more than it precludes the possibility of big national movements in Eastern Europe. With regard to Austria, for example, Junius shows sound judgment in taking into account not only the “economic,” but also the peculiar political situation, in noting Austria’s “inherent lack of vitality” and admitting that “the Hapsburg monarchy is not a political organisation of a bourgeois state, but only a loosely knit syndicate of several cliques of social parasites,” that “historically, the liquidation of Austria-Hungary is merely the continuation of the disintegration of Turkey and at the same time a demand of the historical process of development.” The situation is no better in certain Balkan states and in Russia. And in the event of the “Great Powers” becoming extremely exhausted in the present war, or in the event of a victorious revolution in Russia, national wars, even victorious ones, are quite possible. On the one hand, intervention by the imperialist powers is not possible under all circumstances. On the other hand, when people argue haphazardly that a war waged by a small state against a giant state is hopeless, we must say that a hopeless   war is war nevertheless, and, moreover, certain events within the “giant” states—for example, the beginning of a revolution—may transform a “hopeless” war into a very “hopeful” one.

The fact that the postulate that “there can be no more national wars” is obviously fallacious in theory is not the only reason why we have dealt with this fallacy at length. It would be a very deplorable thing, of course, if the “Lefts” began to be careless in their treatment of Marxian theory, considering that the Third International can be established only on the basis of Marxism, unvulgarised Marxism. But this fallacy is also very harmful in a practical political sense; it gives rise to the stupid propaganda for “disarmament,” as if no other war but reactionary wars are possible; it is the cause of the still more stupid and downright reactionary indifference towards national movements. Such indifference becomes chauvinism when members of “Great” European nations, i.e., nations which oppress a mass of small and colonial peoples, declare with a learned air that “there can be no more national wars!” National wars against the imperialist Powers are not only possible and probable, they are inevitable, they are progressive and revolutionary, although, of course, what is needed for their success is either the combined efforts of an enormous number of the inhabitants of the oppressed countries (hundreds of millions in the example we have taken of India and China), or a particularly favourable combination of circumstances in the international situation (for example, when the intervention of the imperialist Powers is paralysed by exhaustion, by war, by their mutual antagonisms, etc.), or a simultaneous uprising of the proletariat of one of the Great Powers against the bourgeoisie (this latter case stands first in order from the standpoint of what is desirable and advantageous for the victory of the proletariat).

We must state, however, that it would be unfair to accuse Junius of being indifferent to national movements. When enumerating the sins of the Social-Democratic Parliamentary group, he does at least mention their silence in the matter of the execution of a native leader in the Cameroons for “treason” (evidently for an attempt at insurrection in connection with the war); and in another place he emphasises (for the special benefit of Messrs. Legien, Lensch and similar scoundrels   who call themselves “Social-Democrats”) that colonial nations are also nations. He declares very definitely: “Socialism recognises for every people the right to independence and freedom, the right to be masters of their own destiny.... International socialism recognises the right of free, independent, equal nations, but only socialism can create such nations, only socialism can establish the right of nations to self-determination. This slogan of socialism,” justly observes the author, “like all its other slogans, serves, not to justify the existing order of things, but as a guide post, as a stimulus to the revolutionary, reconstructive, active policy of the proletariat.” (p. 77-78) Consequently, it would be a profound mistake to suppose that all the Left German Social-Democrats have stooped to the narrow-mindedness and distortion of Marxism advocated by certain Dutch and Polish Social-Democrats, who repudiate self-determination of nations even under socialism. However, we shall deal with the special Dutch and Polish sources of this mistake elsewhere.

Another fallacious argument advanced by Junius is in connection with the question of defence of the fatherland. This is a cardinal political question during an imperialist war. Junius has strengthened us in our conviction that our Party has indicated the only correct approach to this question: the proletariat is opposed to defence of the fatherland in this imperialist war because of its predatory, slave-owning, reactionary character, because it is possible and necessary to oppose to it (and to strive to convert it into) civil war for socialism. Junius, however, while brilliantly exposing the imperialist character of the present war as distinct from a national war, falls into the very strange error of trying to drag a national programme into the present non-national war. It sounds almost incredible, but it is true.

The official Social-Democrats, both of the Legien and of the Kautsky shade, in their servility to the bourgeoisie, who have been making the most noise about foreign “invasion” in order to deceive the masses of the people as to the imperialist character of the war, have been particularly assiduous in repeating this “invasion” argument. Kautsky, who now assures naive and credulous people (incidentally,   through the mouth of “Spectator,” a member of the Russian Organization Committee) that he joined the opposition at the end of 1914, continues to use this “argument”! To refute it, Junius quotes extremely instructive examples from history, which prove that “invasion and class struggle are not contradictory in bourgeois history, as the official legend has it, but that one is the means and the expression of the other.” For example, the Bourbons in France invoked foreign invaders against the Jacobins; the bourgeoisie in 1871 invoked foreign invaders against the Commune. In his Civil War in France, Marx wrote:

The highest heroic effort of which old society is still capable is national war; and this is now proved to be a mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes, and to be thrown aside as soon as that class struggle bursts out in civil war.”[7]

The classical example for all times,” says Junius, referring to 1793, “is the Great French Revolution.” From all this, he draws the following conclusion: “Century-old experience thus proves that it is not a state of siege, but heroic class struggle, which rouses the self-respect, the heroism and the moral strength of the masses of the people, and serves as the country’s best protection and defence against the foreign enemy.”

Junius’ practical conclusion is this:

Yes, it is the duty of the Social-Democrats to defend their country during a great historical crisis. But the grave guilt that rests upon the Social-Democratic Reichstag group lies precisely in that, in solemnly declaring, on August 4, 1914, that ‘In the hour of danger we will not leave our fatherland unprotected,’ they at the same time belied those words. They did leave the fatherland unprotected in the hour of greatest peril. For their first duty to the fatherland in that hour was to show the fatherland what was really behind the present imperialist war; to tear down the web of patriotic and diplomatic lies with which this encroachment on the fatherland was enmeshed; to proclaim loudly and dearly that both victory and defeat in the present war are equally fatal for the German people; to resist to the last the throttling of the fatherland by declaring a state of siege; to proclaim the necessity of immediately arming the people and of allowing the people to decide the question   of war and peace; resolutely to demand a permanent session of the people’s representatives for the whole duration of the war in order to guarantee vigilant central over the government by the people’s representatives, and the control over the people’s representatives by the people; to demand the immediate abolition of all restrictions on political rights, for only a free people can successfully defend its country; and, finally, to oppose the imperialist war programme, which is to preserve Austria and Turkey, i.e., perpetuate reaction in Europe and in Germany, with the old, truly national programme of the patriots and democrats of 1848, the programme of Marx, Engels and Lassalle: the slogan of a united, Great German republic. This is the banner that should have been unfurled before the country, which would have been a truly national banner of liberation, which would have been in accord with the best traditions of Germany and with the international class policy of the proletariat.... Hence, the grave dilemma—the interests of the fatherland or the international solidarity of the proletariat—the tragic conflict which prompted our parliamentarians ‘with a heavy heart’ to side with the imperialist war, is purely imaginary, it is bourgeois nationalist fiction. On the contrary, there is complete harmony between the interests of the country and the class interests of the proletarian International, both in time of war and in time of peace; both war and peace demand the most energetic development of the class struggle, the most determined fight for the Social-Democratic programme.”

This is how Junius argues. The fallacy of his argument is strikingly evident, and since the masked and avowed lackeys of tsarism, Messrs. Plekhanov and Chkhenkeli, and perhaps even Messrs. Martov and Chkheidze may gloatingly seize upon Junius’ words, not for the purpose of establishing theoretical truth, but for the purpose of wriggling, of covering up their tracks and of throwing dust in the eyes of the workers, we must in greater detail elucidate the theoretical source of Junius’ error.

He proposes to “oppose” the imperialist war with a national programme. He urges the advanced class to turn its face to the past and not to the future! In France, in Germany, and in the whole of Europe it was a bourgeois-democratic   revolution that, objectively, was on the order of the day in 1793 and 1848. Corresponding to this objective historical situation was the “truly national,” i.e., the national bourgeois programme of the then existing democracy; in 1793 this programme was carried out by the most revolutionary elements of the bourgeoisie and the plebeians, and in 1848 it was proclaimed by Marx in the name of the whole of progressive democracy. Objectively, the feudal and dynastic wars were then opposed with revolutionary democratic wars, with wars for national liberation. This was the content of the historical tasks of that epoch.

At the present time the objective situation in the biggest advanced states of Europe is different. Progress, if we leave out the possibility of temporary steps backward, is possible only towards socialist society, only towards the socialist revolution. Objectively, the imperialist bourgeois war, the war of highly developed capitalism, can, from the standpoint of progress, from the standpoint of the progressive class, be opposed only with a war against the bourgeoisie, i.e., primarily civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie for power; for unless such a war is waged serious progress is impossible; and after that—only under certain special conditions—a war to defend the socialist state against bourgeois stares is possible. That is why those Bolsheviks (fortunately, very few, and we quickly handed them over to the Prizyv-ists) who were ready to adapt the point of view of conditional defence, i.e., of defending the fatherland on the condition that there was a victorious revolution and the victory of a republic in Russia, were true to the letter of Bolshevism, but betrayed its spirit: 48 for being drawn into the imperialist war of the advanced European Powers, Russia, even under a republican form of government, would also be waging an imperialist war!

In saying that class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion, Junius applied Marxian dialectics only halfway, taking one step on the right road and immediately deviating from it. Marxian dialectics call for a concrete analysis of each specific historical situation. That class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion is true both with regard to the bourgeoisie, which is overthrowing   feudalism, and with regard to the proletariat, which is overthrowing the bourgeoisie. Precisely because it is true with regard to every form of class oppression, it is too general, and therefore, inadequate in the present specific case. Civil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle, and only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe (the whole of Europe, not only one country) from the peril of invasion. The “Great German Republic” had it existed in 1914-16, would also have waged an imperialist war.

Junius came very close to the correct solution of the problem and to the correct slogan: civil war against the bourgeoisie for socialism; but, as if afraid to speak the whole truth, he turned back to the fantasy of a “national war” in 1914, 1915 and 1916. Even if we examine the question from the purely practical and not theoretical angle, Junius’ error remains no less clear. The whole of bourgeois society, all classes in Germany, including the peasantry, were in favour of war (in all probability the same was the case in Russia—at least a majority of the well-to-do and middle peasantry and a very considerable portion of the poor peasants were evidently under the spell of bourgeois imperialism). The bourgeoisie was armed to the teeth. Under such circumstances to “proclaim” the programme of a republic, a permanent parliament, election of officers by the people (the “armed nation”), etc., would have meant, in practice, “proclaiminga revolution (with a wrong revolutionary programme!).

In the same breath Junius quite rightly says that a revolution cannot be “made.” Revolution was on the order of the day in 1914–16, it was hidden in the depths of the war, was emerging out of the war. This should have been “proclaimed” in the name of the revolutionary class, and its programme should have been fearlessly and fully announced: socialism is impossible in time of war without civil war against the arch-reactionary, criminal bourgeoisie, which condemned the people to untold disaster. Systematic, consistent, practical measures should have been thought out, which could be carried out no matter what the rate of development of the revolutionary crisis might have been, and which would be in line with the maturing revolution. These measures are indicated in the resolution of our Party: 1) voting against war credits;   2) violation of “civil peace”; 3) creation of an illegal organisation; 4) fraternisation among the soldiers; 5) support to all the revolutionary actions of the masses.[1] The success of all these steps inevitably leads to civil war.

The promulgation of a great historical programme was undoubtedly of tremendous significance; not the old national German programme, which became obsolete in 1914-16, but the proletarian international and socialist programme. “You, the bourgeoisie, are fighting for plunder; we, the workers of all the belligerent countries, declare war upon you for socialism”—this is the sort of speech that should have been delivered in the Parliaments on August 4, 1914, by Socialists who had not betrayed the proletariat, as the Legiens, Davids, Kautskys, Plekhanovs, Guesdes, Sembats, etc. betrayed it.

Evidently Junius’ error is due to two mistakes in reasoning. There is no doubt that Junius is decidedly opposed to the imperialist war and is decidedly in favor of revolutionary tactics; and all Messrs. Plehhanovs’ gloating over Junius’ “defencism” cannot wipe out this fact. Possible and probable calumnies of this kind must be answered promptly and bluntly.

But, firstly, Junius has not completely rid himself of the “environment” of the German Social-Democrats, even the Lefts, who are afraid of a split, who are afraid to follow revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusions.[2]   This is a mistaken fear, and the Left Social-Democrats of Germany must and will rid themselves of it. They will do so in the course of the struggle against the social-chauvinists. The fact is that they are fighting against their own social-chauvinists resolutely, firmly and sincerely, and this is the tremendous, the fundamental difference in principle   between them and Messrs. Martovs and Chkheidzes, who, with one hand (à la Skobelev) unfurl a banner bearing the greeting, “To the Liebknechts of All Countries,” and with the other hand tenderly embrace Chkhenkeli and Potresov!

Secondly, Junius apparently wanted to achieve something in the nature of the Menshevik “theory of stages,” of sad memory; he wanted to begin to carry out the revolutionary programme from the end that is “more suitable,” “more popular” and more acceptable to the petty-bourgeoisie. It is something like the plan “to outwit history,” to outwit the philistines. He seems to say: surely, nobody would oppose a better way of defending the real fatherland; that real fatherland is the Great German Republic, and the best defence is a militia, a permanent parliament, etc. Once it was accepted, that programme would automatically lead to the next stage-to the socialist revolution.

Probably, it was reasoning of this kind that consciously or semi-consciously determined Junius’ tactics. Needless to say, such reasoning is fallacious, Junius’ pamphlet conjures up in our mind the picture of a lone man who has no comrades in an illegal organisation accustomed to thinking out revolutionary slogans to their conclusion and systematically educating the masses in their spirit. But this shortcoming—it would be a grave error to forget this-is not Junius’ personal failing, but the result of the weakness of all the German Lefts, who have become entangled in the vile net of Kautskyist hypocrisy, pedantry and “friendliness” towards the opportunists. Junius’ adherents have managed in spite of their isolation to begin the publication of illegal leaflets and to start the war against Kautskyism. They will succeed in going further along the right road.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 21, “The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups Abroad.”—Ed.

[2] We find the same error in Junius’ arguments about which is better, victory or defeat His conclusion is that both are equally bad (ruin, growth of armaments, etc.). This is the point of view not of the revolutionary proletariat, but of the pacifist petty bourgeois. If we speak about the “revolutionary intervention” of the proletariat—of this both Junius and the thews of the International group speak, although unfortunately in too general terms—then we must raise the question from another point of view, namely: 1) Is   “revolutionary intervention” possible without the risk of defeat! 2) Is it possible to scourge the bourgeoisie and the government of one’s own country without taking that risk; 3) Have we not always asserted, and does not the historical experience of reactionary wars prove, that defeats help the cause of the revolutionary class? —Lenin






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