V. I.   Lenin

“Disgrace” as the Capitalists
and the Proletarians Understand It

Written: Written April 22 (May 5), 1917
Published: Published May 6 (April 23), 1917 in Pravda No. 39. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 220-221.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard
Transcription\Markup: B. Baggins and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 1999 (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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Today’s Yedinstvo prints on its front page in bold type a proclamation signed by Plekhanov, Deutsch, and Zasulich. We read:

Even nation has a right freely to determine its own destiny. Wilhelm of Germany and Karl of Austria will never agree to this. In waging war against them, we are defending our own freedom, as well as the freedom of others. Russia cannot betray her Allies. That would bring disgrace upon her.”

That is how all capitalists argue. To them non-observance of treaties between capitalists is a disgrace, just as to monarchs non-observance of treaties between monarchs is a disgrace.

What about the workers? Do they regard non-observance of treaties concluded by monarchs and capitalists a disgrace?

Of course not! Class-conscious workers are for scrapping all such treaties, they are for recognising only such agreements between the workers and soldiers of all countries as would benefit the people, i.e., not the capitalists, but the workers and poor peasants.

The workers of the world have a treaty of their own, namely, the Basle Manifesto of 1912 (signed, among others, by Plekhanov and betrayed by him). This workers’ “treaty” calls it a “crime” for workers of different countries to shoot at each other for the sake of the capitalists’ profits.

The writers in Yedinstvo argue like capitalists (so do Rech and others), and not like workers.

It is quite true that neither the German monarch nor the Austrian will agree to freedom for every nation, as   both these monarchs are crowned brigands, and so was Nicholas II. Nor, for one thing, are the English, Italian, and other monarchs (the “Allies” of Nicholas II) any better. To forget this is to become a monarchist or a defender of the monarchists.

Secondly, the uncrowned brigands, i.e., the capitalists, have shown themselves in the present war to be no better than the monarchs. Has not American “democracy”, i.e., the democratic capitalists, robbed the Philippines, and does it not rob Mexico?

The German Guchkovs and Milyukovs, if they were to take the place of Wilhelm II, would be brigands, too, no better than the British and Russian capitalists.

Third, will the Russian capitalists “agree” to “freedom” for nations which they themselves oppress: Armenia, Khiva, Ukraine, Finland?

By evading this question the Yedinstvo writers are, in effect, turning into defenders of “our own” capitalists in their predatory war with other capitalists.

The internationalist workers of the world stand for the overthrow of all capitalist governments, for the rejection of all agreements and understandings with any capitalists, for universal peace concluded by the revolutionary workers of all countries, a peace capable of giving real freedom to “every” nation.


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