V. I.   Lenin

The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution

(Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party)



17. From the very outset, the Zimmerwald International adopted a vacillating, “Kautskyite”, “Centrist” position, which immediately compelled the Zimmerwald Left to dissociate itself, to separate itself from the rest, and to   issue its own manifesto (published in Switzerland in Russian, German and French).

The chief shortcoming of the Zimmerwald International, and the cause of its collapse (for politically and ideologically it has already collapsed), was its vacillation and indecision on such a momentous issue of crucial practical significance as that of breaking completely with social-chauvinism and the old social-chauvinist International, headed by Vandervelde and Huysmans at The Hague (Holland), etc.

It is not as yet known in Russia that the Zinmerwald majority are nothing but Kautskyites . Yet this is the fun damental fact, one which cannot be ignored, and which is now generally known in Western Europe. Even that chauvinist, that extreme German chauvinist, Heilmann,editor of the ultra-chauvinistic Chemnitzer Volksstimme and contributor to Parvus’s ultra-chauvinistic Glocke[1] (a “Social-Democrat”, of course, and an ardent partisan of Social-Democratic “unity”), was compelled to acknowledge in the press that the Centre, or “Kautkyism”, and the Zimmerwald majority were one and the same thing.

This fact was definitely established at the end of 1916 and the beginning of 1917. Although social-pacifism was condemned by the Kienthal Manifesto,[2] the whole Zimmerwald Right, the entire Zimmerwald majority, sank to social-pacifism: Kautsky and Co. in a series of utterances in January and February 1917; Bourderon and Merrheim in France, who cast their votes in unanimity with the social-chauvinists for the pacifist resolutions of the Socialist Party (December 1916) and of the Confédération Générale du Travail (the national organisation of the French trade unions, also in December 1916); Turati and Co. in Italy, where the entire party took up a social-pacifist position, while Turati himself, in a speech delivered on December 17, 1916, “slipped” (not by accident, of course) into nationalist phrases whitewashing the imperialist war.

In January 1917, the chairman of the Zimmerwald and Kienthal conferences, Robert Grimm, joined the social-chauvinists in his own party (Greulich, Pflüger, Gustav Mümller and others) against the internationalists in deed.

At two conferences of Zimmerwaldists from various countries in January and February 1917, this equivocal, double-faced   behaviour of the Zimmerwald majority was formally stigmatised by the Left internationalists of several countries: by Munzenberg,secretary of the international youth organisation and editor of the excellent internationalist publication Die Jugendinternationale[3]; by Zinoviev, representative of the Central Committee of our Party; by K. Radek of the Polish Social-Democratic Party (the “Regional Executive”), and by Hartstein, a German Social-Democrat and member of the Spartacus group.

Much is given to the Russian proletariat; nowhere in the world has the working class yet succeeded in developing so much revolutionary energy as in Russia. But to whom much is given, of him much is required.

The Zimmerwald bog can no longer be tolerated. We must not, for the sake of the Zimmerwald “Kautskyites”, continue the semi-alliance with the chauvinist International of the Plekhanovs and Scheidemanns. We must break with this International immediately. We must remain in Zimmerwald only for purposes of information.

It is we who must found, and right now, without delay, a new, revolutionary, proletarian International, or rather, we must not fear to acknowledge publicly that this new International is already established and operating.

This is the International of those “internationalists in deed” whom I precisely listed above. They and they alone are representatives of the revolutionary, internationalist mass, and not their corrupters.

And if socialists of that type are few, let every Russian worker ask himself whether there were many really class-conscious revolutionaries in Russia on the eve of the February-March revolution of 1917.

It is not a question of numbers, but of giving correct expression to the ideas and policies of the truly revolutionary proletariat. The thing is not to “proclaim” internationalism, but to be able to be an internationalist in deed, even when times are most trying.

Let us not deceive ourselves with hopes of agreements and international congresses. As long as the imperialist war is on, international intercourse is held in the iron vise of the military dictatorship of the imperialist bourgeoisie. If even the “republican” Milyukov, who is obliged to   tolerate the parallel government of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, did not allow Fritz Platten, the Swiss socialist, secretary of the party, an internationalist and participant in the Zimmerwald and Kienthal conferences, to enter Russia in April 1917, in spite of the fact that Platten has a Russian wife and was on his way to visit his wife’s relatives, and in spite of the fact that he had taken part in the revolution of 1905 in Riga, for which he had been confined in a Russian prison, had given bail to the tsarist government for his release and wished to recover that bail—if the “republican” Milyukov could do such a thing in April 1917 in Russia, one can judge what value can be put on the promises and assurances, the phrases and declarations of the bourgeoisie on the subject of peace without annexations, and soon.

And the arrest of Trotsky by the British Government? And the refusal to allow Martov to leave Switzerland, and the attempt to lure him to Britain, where Trotsky’s fate awaits him?

Let us harbour no illusions. We must not deceive ourselves.

To “wait” for international congresses or conferences is simply to betray internationalism, since it has been shown that even from Stockholm neither socialists loyal to internationalism nor even their letters are allowed to come here, although this is quite possible and although a ferocious military censorship exists.

Our Party must not “wait”, but must immediately found a Third International. Hundreds of socialists imprisoned in Germany and Britain will then heave a sigh of relief, thousands and thousands of German workers who are now holding strikes and demonstrations that are frightening that scoundrel and brigand, Wilhelm, will learn from illegal leaflets of our decision, of our fraternal confidence in Karl Liebknecht, and in him alone, of our decision to fight “revolutionary defencism” even now ; they will read this and be strengthened in their revolutionary internationalism.

To whom much is given, of him much is required. No other country in the world is as free as Russia is now . Let us make use of this freedom, not to advocate support for the bourgeoisie, or bourgeois “revolutionary defencism”, but in a bold, honest, proletarian, Liebknecht way to   found the Third International, an International uncompromisingly hostile both to the social-chauvinlst traitors and to the vacillating “Centrists”.

18. After what has been said, there is no need to waste many words explaining that the amalgamation of Social-Democrats in Russia is out of the question.

It is better to remain with one friend only, like Liebknecht, and that means remaining with the revolutionary proletariat, than to entertain even for a moment any thought of amalgamation with the party of the Organising Committee, with Chkheidze and Tsereteli, who can tolerate a bloc with Potresov in Rabochaya Gazeta, who voted for the loan in the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies,[4] and who have sunk to “defencism”.

Let the dead bury their dead.

Whoever wants to help the waverers must first stop wavering himself.



[2] This refers to the appeal “To the Peoples Suffering Ruination and Death” adopted at the Second International Conference of the Zimmerwaldists held on April 24-30, 1916 in Kienthal (Switzerland).


[4] On April 7(20), 1917, the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, by a majority of 21 votes against 14, adopted a resolution in favour of supporting the so-called “Liberty Loan” issued by the Provisional Government to finance the continuing imperialist war. The Bolshevik members of the Executive Committee opposed this loan, declaring that support of it was “the worst form of ‘civil truce’\thinspace” and moved a resolution containing a detailed statement of their position. Several members of the E.C. not belonging to the Bolshevik group voted with the Bolsheviks. The question was put before the plenary meeting of the Soviet after a preliminary discussion in the groups.


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