V. I.   Lenin

Preface to the English Edition of the Pamphlet
The Proletarian Revolution and Kautsky the Renegade[2]

Written: Written not later than March 1920
Published: First published in 1958 in the journal Voprosi Istorii KPSS No. 4. Printed from the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Printing, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 185b-186.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). 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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Preface to the English Edition

The comrades who intend to publish my pamphlet against Kautsky in English, which has also been published in German,[3] have asked me to write a preface to the English edition.

I would prefer, in lieu of a short preface, to give a detailed analysis of one of the writings of J. Ramsay Macdonald, who, as far as I know, is one of the most influential and widely read of English writers of practically the same Kautskyan trend. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain Macdonald’s book Parliament and Revolution[4] which has short chapters on Soviet democracy and Soviet suffrage,   but the author’s Kautskyan point of view is quite clear from his article “Socialist Review Outlook” published in The Socialist Review, October-December 1919, of which he is the editor. Macdonald is not a Marxist, and the Marxist-tinted opportunism characteristic of Kautsky is not typical of England.

As I have no time just now to give a detailed analysis of Macdonald’s views, I shall confine myself to an attempt at briefly describing his views as known to us from his political activities, from the newspaper of his party (the “Independent” Labour Party-independent in word and fully dependent on bourgeois prejudices in deed), from his magazine and. in particular from the article just mentioned.

I shall first quote some of the most characteristic passages from this article:

Describing the general political situation, Macdonald writes: “...Never was honest service and labour held in lower esteem” (p. 306). “.. Our ships of war continuing the starvation of women and children. We are in every mean and wicked conspiracy to subvert democracy in Europe. Though the State is tottering on the verge of bankruptcy, a Minister to gratify his personal vanity, and a small class of financiers to secure personal profit in the future, can add what will probably amount to 100,000,000 further burden upon the British taxpayer, for a Russian venture ...” (p. 307). “The storm in the teacup inside the Parliamentary Labour Party, because Mr. Neil Mac Lean remained seated during a theatrical display when the Prime Minister was being welcomed for bringing in his pocket from Paris one of the worst instruments that ever terminated a war, shows this same proneness
in the Party to be stampeded by trivial fears.” “The-Labour Party has to save itself from chastisement; it cannot allow handbills to be issued against its candidates, headed: ’The Labour Party condones an insult to our Gracious Sovereign.’” “Such a state of things,” declares brave Mr. Macdonald, “is not healthy; it contains no promise of great reform....”[1]


[1] Here the manuscript breaks off.—Ed.

[2] Lenin did not finish his preface. The pamphlet The Proletarian Revolution and Kautsky the Renegade came out in English at the end of March 1920 without a preface.

[3] The German pamphlet N. Lenin. Die Diktatur des Proletariats und der Renegat Karl Kautsky came out at the end of December1919.

[4] Lenin received Macdonald’s book later. It stands in his private library with his marginal notes. Lenin specially marked those passages in the book in which Macdonald tried to play down the class contradictions of capitalist society. These marginal notes were published in Lenin Miscellany XXIV, pp. 253-85.

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