Comrade Radek’s

Speech at the Hague
Peace Conference

(December 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 1, 3 January 1923, pp. 4–5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2021). 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.

This world peace congress has been convened for the purpose of discussing the means to be employed for carrying out the resolution passed at Rome by the ITUF. Although we did not participate in that congress, we are willing to take this resolution as a starting point. Permit me to go into this resolution in detail.

General strike against war

The main point of the resolution consists of the passage:

“The International Congress declares that it is the duty of the organized workers in the future to counteract every threatened war by every means at the disposal of the labor movement, and to prevent the actual outbreak of war by declaring an international general strike.”

What is the significance of the threat of an international general strike in the event of war? It signifies the refusal to take part in any war conducted by capitalist states, whether this war be furbished up as a war of defense, or openly carried on as a war of imperial rapacity. A binding engagement to carry out a general strike against war means the refusal to defend the Capitalist Fatherland.

Misled by the slogan of defending “home and country”, the proletariat bled for four years for the interests of the bourgeoisie, and this under the leadership of the majority of you. If you have now recognized that you were in error, then have courage enough to admit this openly. We do not demand this in order to have the pleasure of seeing Weis and Grassmann, Henderson and Thomas, Renaudel and Jouhaux, making a pilgrimage to Canossa, but because a mass policy must be a clear policy. If the threat of the international general strike is to be something more than an empty threat, the workers of the capitalist world must be told daily:

You proletarians of the capitalist countries, you have no fatherland to defend; you must first conquer the land of your fathers.

The Preparation for the Struggle against War

Gentlemen, you have seen what war is, many of you perhaps have felt it. I hope that your experience has been such that none of you assume that when war threatens, the capitalist governments will grant you freedom of action, the bourgeoisie will appear armed to the teeth. Is the proletariat to stand before it defenceless? It must be armed. In the first place it must be politically armed by the full consciousness of its tasks, of its political role. Can it be so armed when war is threatened, if its mass party has been enervated by years of a policy of coalition with the bourgeoisie?

If all you have to say against war is not to be a mere phrase, the first condition is to break off the coalition with the bourgeoisie!

The proletariat, thus emancipated from the paralyzing coalition with the bourgeoisie, will also emancipate itself from the influence of bourgeois politics and mentality. It must learn to understand all the treacheries and tricks of the bourgeoisie. Are you helping the proletariat to do this? The resolution on Henderson’s report lies before me. It does not even demand the annulment of the Versailles Treaty! Four years after the end of the war, after every liberal has recognized the untenability of this treaty, your resolution demands the revision of some points of the Versailles peace, without even exactly designating which. Do you believe that agitation of this nature will inspire the French and English workers to take action, and to make sacrifices, against the occupation of the Ruhr valley? Why do you not protest against the proceedings in Lausanne, where a new treaty of Versailles is being prepared against the Turkish people? Do you believe that there is no possibility of war for the possession of the Mossul petroleum, or that such a war docs not concern the proletariat?

But the mental preparation of the proletariat against the danger of war does not suffice; even its protests do not suffice.

The bourgeoisie dees not bend before arguments.

If all your threats are not to be threats made with a mere cardboard sword, measures must be taken ensuring that at least a part of those bearing arms are on our side. Can you do all this without the proper means and equipment? No!

Mass strikes and war!

You have caused the great word of an international strike against war to be uttered.

We are of the opinion that if the working class does not rise before the cannon are mounted, it is much less likely io rise after martial law has been proclaimed, after all the demons of nationalism have been let loose, and the workers bound hand and foot.

We communists, whose object it is to prepare the working class to-day and to-morrow for the revolutionary struggle against the dangers of war, do not engage to organize the mass strike when was breaks out.

Mass strike against war is social revolution, and the date of the social revolution cannot be determined beforehand.

If you can do it, we shall not stand aside, although we are no fixed-term-heroes. But we can tell you one thing. After your policy of coalition with the bourgeoisie and of pacifist illusions has enabled world capital once more tp drive the working masses on to the battle fields, we, the communists, will not desert, but will go to war, and take up arms to carry the spirit of revolution into the army, to turn the weapons against the bourgeoisie.


If you talk daggers here for a week, and then go home to prepare heroic deeds against war, to be performed at dates still unknown, the bourgeoisie will laugh at you, and will have a right to do so. Now is the time to show your readiness to fight now that the bourgeoisie is preparing to strangle the German people with fresh reparation demands, and is paving the way for a new war in the Near East. As proof of your readiness to fight we suggest:

  1. the immediate organisation of an international propaganda week against imperialism, and
  2. the devotion of the closing day of this week to a one-day protest strike against the peace treaties of Versailles, etc.

Whenever we make suggestions, you invariably reply that we have the interests of our Russian foreign policy in view. But now I may tell you:

We Russians do not now fear the attacks of the Entente; the Entente will not venture to attack us. The proposal which we make to you is not: Help Soviet Russia. We say: Do not make it impossible for the proletariat to unite in the fight against the consequences of the war, which will crush the Western European proletariat to the earth. We hold out our hand to you for common action, and if you refuse to take it at this moment, when you are uniting with the bourgeois pacifists, the proletariat will recognize that you do not mean to fight!


Comrade Radek explained, on behalf of the Russian delegation, why the decisions of the commission were impossible of acceptance by them:

“We came here for the purpose of taking a common step forwards with you. But it appears that you do not want to take this step forwards. The resolution on the reparations which has been passed in the commission forces the German worker, who cannot even buy himself a shirt, to pay for Stinnes’ policy. But how does it come about that the congress only demands reparations for France and Belgium, but not for Yugoslavia or Poland, who suffered far more from the war? Because the congress submits to the pressure of Poincaré and his 800,000 soldiers. The League of Nations is nothing more nor less than a diplomatic negotiating machine. How can a proletarian congress designate this League as a universal remedy? A resolution is submitted demanding the general strike in case of war. But here Vandervelde made his reservation, which was received with lively applause, that in case of war he would first have to consider if it were not a war of defense for Belgium; and in the commission, Huysmans declared quite openly that under similar conditions he would act precisely as in 1914. The majority of the congress has refused the practical suggestions of the Russian delegates. The majority want to join hands with the bourgeois pacifists, but not with the communist workers who fought against war, at the greatest sacrifice, during the world war. We shall go to the masses and tell them why tlx united trout has failed here.”

The Resolution proposed by the Russian Delegation: (rejected).

“In view of the fact that the abolition of war is only possible with the abolition of the capitalist system, war being an attendant phenomenon of capitalism; and in consideration of the fact that the pre-requisite of every struggle against imperialist wars is the creation of a united front, the International Peace Congress adopts the following resolution:

  1. An international committee of action is to be formed for conducting the struggle against war, this committee to be composed of representatives of the International Trade Union Federation, the Second International, the Vienna Working Union of socialist parties, the Communist International, the Red Labor Union International (Moscow), and the International Cooperative Federation.
  2. Similar committees of action are to be formed in all countries, composed of representatives of the above named organizations.
  3. Every workers’ organization is to be admitted to these committees of action, even if it does not belong to any International, provided it wishes to carry on the fight against war.
  4. These committees of action have the further duty of exerting all their energies to put an end to the splits within the trade union organizations, and to prevent possible splits, provided that the liberty of propaganda within the organizations themselves is assured, and unity of action observed.
  5. These committees of action and the organizations to which they belong must carry on an indefatiguable fight against the theory and practice of bourgeois defense of the native country, this being a slogan utilized for the purpose of delivering over the working class, bound hand and foot, to the imperialist bourgeoisie;
  6. In order that the proletarian fight against war may have real results, mutual work with bourgeois classes and government coalitions is to be abandoned, and a distinct dividing line to be drawn between workers’ organizations and bourgeois governments.
  7. In view of the fact that bourgeois pacifism is under the delusion that peace can be maintained on a capitalist foundation, the peace congress calls upon all workers’ organizations to destroy these bourgeois delusions by systematic work, the more that the combatting of these dangerous delusions is the leading premise for efficacious struggle against war. Without declining the cooperation of bourgeois pacifism for the cause of peace, the congress is opposed to a bloc with the bourgeois peace movement, as such a bloc is only a form of working in common with the bourgeois class.
  8. In order to prepare the army and broad masses of the workers for the real fight against war, legal and secret organizations are to be formed in the army, and to gain an influence, by means of constant, persevering, and revolutionary work, enabling them to take their place at the head of the army at the suitable moment, and to rise against the bourgeoisie.
  9. The masses must prepare for the most violent struggle: for the annulment of the disgraceful treaty of Versailles and of analogous treaties; against the imperial band of robbers hiding behind the “League of Nations”; for the most energetic fight against the enslavement of the working masses of Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, etc., consequent on the reparations, and on the attempt of the bourgeoisie of all countries to thus meet the damage wrought all over the world by the imperialist war.
  10. The manoeuvres of international imperialism against the interests of the working class must be unmasked, and all secret treaties made between the governments are to be published.
  11. It is necessary to call upon the workers and peasants of the colonial and semi-colonial countries, oppressed by the imperialist governments, to take part in this action.
  12. Action is to be taken for the immediate evacuation of all parts of Germany occupied by allied troops, and for the evacuation of all countries, districts, and territories, in the Near and Far East, in Africa, etc., whose occupation has been carried out on the mandate of the League of Nations, that is, by the right of might.
  13. Action is to be taken for the disarmament of all White Guard organizations (Fascisti, civil guards, Orgesch), and for the arming of the working masses; further action is to be taken for the formation of workers’ governments in all countries, the task of such governments being to carry out the above-named demands against the will of the ruling classes.
  14. The congress resolves to organize an international propaganda week against war, from January 8 to 15, and to proclaim a 24 hours international general strike for January 15, as a protest against war, against the Versailles treaty, against imperialism, against the dictatorship of capital, and for the placing of power in the hands of the workers.” (Rejected)

Last updated on 4 January 2021