V. I. Lenin

Afterword To The Theses On The Question Of The Immediate Conclusion Of A Separate And Annexationist Peace

Written: 8 and 11 January, 1918
First Published: 1929 in Lenin Miscellany XI
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 451-452
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive November, 2000


I read the above Theses to a small private meeting of Party functionaries on January 8, 1918. The discussion on them showed three opinions in the Party on this question—about a half those present spoke in favour of revolutionary war (this was sometimes called the §Moscow¨ point of view because the Moscow Regional Bureau of our Party adopted it earlier than other organisations); then about a quarter were for Comrade Trotsky who proposed to declare the cessation of hostilities, demobilise the army, send the soldiers home but refrain from signing a treaty¨, and, lastly, about a quarter supported me.

The state of affairs now obtaining in the Party reminds me very strongly of the situation in the summer of 1907 when the overwhelming majority of the Bolslieviks favoured the boycott of tile Third Duma and I stood side by side with Dan in favour of participation and was subjected to furious attacks for my opportunism. Objectively, the present issue is a complete analogy; as then, the majority of the Party functionaries, proceeding from the very best revolutionary motives and the best Party traditions, allow themselves to be carried away by a §flash¨ slogan and do not grasp the new socio-economic and political situation, do not take into consideration the change in the conditions that demands a speedy and abrupt change in tactics. The essence of my argument, today as then, is to make clear that Marxism demands the consideration of objective conditions and their changes, that the question must be presented concretely as applicable to those conditions, that the most significant change that has occurred is the foundation of the Russian Soviet Republic, and the preservation of the republic that has already begun the socialist revolution is most important to us and to the international socialist movement; that at the moment the slogan of revolutionary war proclaimed by Russia would either be an empty phrase and an unsupported demonstration, or would be tantamount, objectively, to falling into the trap set for us by the imperialists, who wish to inveigle us into continuing the imperialist war while we are still a weak unit, so that the young Soviet Republic might be crushed as cheaply as possible.

§I stand by Lenin¥s old position,¨ exclaimed one young Muscovite (youth is one of the greatest virtues distinguishing that group of speakers). And that samespeaker reproached me for repeating the old arguments of the defencists about the improbability of a revolution in Germany.

The whole trouble is that the Muscovites want to stick to the old tactical position, and stubbornly refuse to see the change that has taken place, the new objective situation that has arisen.

The Muscovites, in their zealous repetition of old slogans, have not even taken into consideration the fact that we Bolsheviks have now all become defencists. Having overthrown the bourgeoisie, having denounced and exposed the secret treaties, having proposed peace to all peoples, actually... Here the manuscript breaks off .—Editor.