Plekhanov 1905

Socialism and Internationalism

Source: Social Democrat, 1905, Vol. 9. no. 10, 15 Oct 1905, p.607;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

G. PLEKHANOFF (Russian Workmen’s Social-Democratic Party) writes: –

Dear Comrade, – You have asked me the following questions :-

(1) What do you think of the passage of the Communist Manifesto which says that the workers have no country?

(2) What practical attitude, what form of propaganda, should internationalism take in the face of militarism, colonial policy, and their causes and effects?

(3) What part should Socialists take in international relations, as, e.g., tariffs, factory legislation, etc.?

(4) What should Socialists do in case of a war?

As to No. 1, Jaurès thinks that this was not so much the deliberate opinion of Marx and Engels as an opinion they had formed, under local conditions, when the workers were in a very oppressed state; this is also the opinion of E. Bernstein. But it is not mine. If this were correct it would imply that now the workers should rather be patriots than internationalists. But, in my opinion, the contrary is the fact, and internationalism is more held now by the workers than when the Communist Manifesto was written. The Socialist revolution, which will put an end to capitalism, must be international. Therefore, the workers must not think so much of their country as of their solidarity with the workers of all countries.

(2) Socialists should oppose all these measures as tending to perpetuate capitalism.

(3) Socialists should be guided in these matters by considerations of tactics.

(4) A strike in time of war seems impossible. Every effort should be made in time of peace to counteract militarism, and thus render war more difficult.

Geneva, June 25, 1905.