First published: The
Vanguard, October 1915
Transcription\HTML Markup: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement Archive in 2002 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (www.marx.org)1999, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
In spite of the British government’s prevention of British socialists attending a gathering of representative socialists in Switzerland by the refusal of passports, a most successful conference took place, not at Berne as originally intended, but at another town.
The conference was attended by seven delegates from the anti-war section of the German Democratic Party, two from the French trade unions (the French Socialist Party being hopeless), three from the Italian Socialist Party, and others representing Bulgaria and the other Balkan States, Norway, Switzerland, and Russia. “Socialist patriots” were excluded.
The proceedings lasted three days. The German delegates asserted that the majority of the members of their party are opposed to their Executive and to the Reichstag group who voted for the war credits, but the opposition had so far lacked cohesion and therefore effectiveness. The French pointed out that the opposition to the war and the “socialist patriots” is growing. At a recent conference of French trade unionists a resolution against the war was rejected, but about a third favoured the resolution. Although no Belgians were present, it was asserted a large number of Belgian social democrats treat Vandervelde with the perfect contempt we think he merits.
Both sections of the Russian social democrats at the conference are internationalists and are fighting the Russian government with all their might. The “majority” section declares that the defeat of the Tsar’s army would be the lesser evil for the Russian and European democracy. They urge civil war for the establishment of a democratic republic in Russia, and international action to stop the war and defeat the bourgeoisie. The “minority” oppose the “lesser evil” idea, and declare against defeats or victories. (We learn that a gigantic political strike has already been declared in Petrograd and other important centres. We wish our comrades every success.)
The third and last day of the conference was devoted to the consideration of a manifesto against the war to be issued to the workers of the world.
From the Avanti, the central organ of our Italian party, we learn that efforts are being made to discredit the conference by allegations to the effect that it dissolved without coming to any agreement. Those responsible are ex-socialists attached to the European capitalist press. The editor of the Avanti asserts that about forty delegates participated in the proceedings, and at least twelve nations were represented. The manifesto above referred to is to be issued in German and French, and will be signed by two from each nation. Emphasis will be laid on the only war worth fighting—the class war for social democracy. This the editor considers will renew the workers’ solidarity, which no militarism ever again will destroy. Even should those controlling the International Socialist Bureau continue the policy of keeping the respective parties apart, this conference clearly indicates that the International itself will go on. The traitors to the International will have to be treated later on.
We side with Morgari of Italy when he charges Vandervelde with doing everything to prevent the International coming together.
We draw attention to the fact that Hyndman’s paper Justice, which boasts its international information, was totally innocent of the international conference. At least, it said so. “None so blind, etc.” From what we have seen in Britain, we must put down the bell on those who are constantly whining, “trust your leaders”. Faithful social democrats here have been led a sorry dance by the bourgeois members of the central branch of the BSP. Our business is to trust ourselves and our cause and line up with our world comrades as quickly as we can.
We assure our comrades that we in Glasgow are internationalists first, last, and all the time.