Imperialist War and the Question of Peace
The Peace Politics of the Bolsheviks Before the November 1917 Revolution [*]
The unparalleled collapse of the Second International at the beginning of the First World War led to enormous dismay (and also confusion ) among all left-socialist forces. Very soon, however, began the process of a thorough investigation of what had happened and a ruthless critique (by Lenin, Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg) - as a basis for opposing the rampant growth of 'social chauvinism' and to prepare for the re-birth of a new revolutionary-Marxist socialist International. In this respect, none of the contemporary Lefts was as relentlessly forceful and as far-sighted as the leader of the Russian Bolsheviks, V.I. Lenin.
The first question which had to be answered was on the real character of the First World War.
As a Marxist, Lenin's main task was to combat the mechanically ahistorical view of this question in the official social-democratic press. At the time he wrote:
'Dialectics calls for a many-sided investigation into a given social phenomenon in its development, and for the external and the seeming to be reduced to the fundamental motive forces ... 
Only in this way could the pitfalls of subjectivism and eclecticism be avoided. 'Socialists' - continues Lenin- 'have always condemned wars between nations as barbarous and brutal.' However, it would be absolutely `absurd once and for all to renounce participation in war in principle.'  What distinguishes Marxists from bourgeois pacifists is that they 'understand the inevitable connection between wars and the class struggle within a country ... that wars cannot be abolished unless classes are abolished and socialism is created.' A further distinction is that they 'regard civil wars, i.e. wars waged by an oppressed class against the oppressor class ... as fully legitimate, progressive and necessary.'  For
... there have been numerous wars which, despite all the horrors, distress and suffering that inevitably accompany all wars, were progressive ... by helping to destroy most harmful and reactionary institutions (e.g. an autocracy or serfdom).'
Thus it is absolutely necessary to make an historical study of each separate war -in in the sense of Clausewitz's famous proposition that war represents 'only the continuation of politics by other (violent- RR) means.' For Marxists, it is therefore self-evident that not only in peacetime, but also in war, `politics' always suits and must suit the interests of particular social classes. 
From this point of view, two opposing stages had to be distinguished in the recent history of Europe (here Lenin is thinking mainly of Western and Central Europe): the stage of the bourgeoisie's struggle against feudalism and absolutism (1789-1871), and the stage of economic and political imperialism (since the last decade of the 19th century). In the first stage many wars had a progressive character, because they served as instruments of national unification and liberation from foreign rule. (At that time, the dominant tendency in Western and Central Europe was for the creation of large nation states ). It is not surprising that for the most part revolutionary democrats and socialists took up the cause of one side in such wars, that is the side whose victory was most likely to benefit the cause of democracy and national unification . That was true, for example, of the wars of revolutionary France which - despite the fact that the French endeavoured to conquer (and plunder) foreign territories - destroyed feudalism and absolutism, which were based on the submission of the peasants, in one part of Europe. In the same way, all Europe's democrats and socialists sympathised in 1849 with the war waged by the Hungarian aristocracy and petit-bourgeoisie against Austrian absolutism - although the Hungarian rebels could only in a very limited sense claim to be 'revolutionary democrats', and although these rebels wanted to buy the freedom of Hungary at the expense of the Slav-Rumanian majority of the country which was subjugated by the Hungarian aristocracy.
Nevertheless, their war (as every war waged at that time against Austrian - and above all against Russian! - absolutism) had to be characterised not only as a 'national' war, but also as a historically progressive war. In such wars, says Lenin, 'defence of the fatherland' was certainly in order - even if in particular cases, as a result of the conflation of national aims with dynastic and foreign-policy interests, it was not an easy decision to make. In the latest, imperialist stage of capitalism, things are completely different! In his articles of 1914-15, Lenin continually made the point that at that time none of the world capitalist powers needed to fight for its 'national independence' - instead they themselves had become oppressors of foreign peoples and lands on a grand scale. Thus in a few decades preceding the World War, a fundamental transformation of capitalism had taken place: free competition was replaced by the dominance of the monopolies, which had outgrown the framework of the existing nation-state and were striving for a continual extension of their sphere of influence. This explained the struggle that had been raging for decades, not only over markets but above all over (colonial) territories outside Europe for the export of capital and the extraction of raw materials - territories opened up by 'civilisation' and plundered by the imperialist powers. Between 1876 and 1914 the six 'great' nations of the world had 'acquired' 25 million square kilometres, i.e. an area two and a half times as large as the whole of Europe, and enslaved more than 500 million people in the colonies. But now almost the entire surface of the earth was, owned by the imperialist Great Powers. This is why it was now a matter of the redivision of the world, made necessary by the unequal development of the capitalist countries . The result was the world conflict of -1914, in which 'the fate of the colonies is being decided by a war on the Continent . In essence, therefore, the war of 1914 was reduced to a fight between two groups of 'highway robbers' who had been fighting each other for decades over the possession of colonies  - their real aims had not the slightest connection with the interests of the 'nation', nor with those of 'democracy' (unless one regards ruling distant oceans and foreign peoples as a precondition for the existence of one's own nation). But in these circumstances, no revolutionary socialist could side with either of the contending groups, as still appeared to be imperative in Marx and Engels' time. Supposing one 'band of highway robbers' possessed three-quarters of Africa, while the other has to be satisfied with only a quarter, and both groups start a war for the redivision of Africa. Which one's victory should one hope for? Even to put the question in this way, says Lenin, is absurd, because the criteria which socialists previously used to decide their attitude to wars, have now disappeared. Modern democracy should, not be concerned with helping either the first group of states to assert their 'right' to three-quarters of Africa, or the second group of states, who want to enforce a redivision of Africa. However,
... from the standpoint of bourgeois justice and national freedom ... Germany might be considered absolutely in the right as against Britain and France, for she has been 'done out' of colonies, her enemies are oppressing an immeasurably far larger number of nations than she is ... ' 
But Germany is also waging war, not to liberate nations, but to enslave them - and from the socialist standpoint that is crucial!
True, 'In the living picture of reality, many lines of the old painting can be found.' So, for example, there can be no doubt that Russian imperialism was more political than economic in nature and (like the imperialism of the Hapsburg monarchy) to a great extent arose from dynastic interests. . (Even if the imperialist ambitions of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian bourgeoisies did not come off at all badly!) One way or another, however, the war programmes of both monarchies amounted to increasing their territories and subjugating foreign peoples; in this respect, then, Russian and Austrian imperialism was just as hostile to nations and reactionary as that of their allies ...
But what about 'little, violated Serbia' - or 'gallant Belgium'? Weren't these examples enough to make one side with the opponents of the Central Powers?
It is no doubt correct, Lenin often emphasises, 'that of all the warring countries, the Serbs alone are still fighting for national existence.1151 But one must always know how to distinguish the whole from the parts! For 'The national element in the Austro-Serbian war is (in the context of the whole World War - RR) an entirely secondary consideration and does not affect the general imperialist character of the war.'  This is most clearly proved by the fact that the Entente, which was allegedly fighting for the 'liberation' of Serbia, was at the time (as the secret London treaty of 26 April 1915 shows) selling the fundamental interests of Yugoslavian freedom (Istria and Dalmatia) to Italy, in order to secure for itself 'the latter's aid in robbing Austria' . In the Belgrade Parliament, the Serbian deputies Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch, however, voted- to the eternal shame of German social-democracy - in an absolutely correct manner against the granting of war credits .
And Belgium? Certainly, Belgium was also in danger of losing, in the event of a German victory, parts of her territory and especially her colonies to Germany. However, most probably 'the German imperialists would free Belgium etc at once if the British and French would agree to "fairly" share their colonies with them.'  The British and French governments' pretence of fighting for the freedom of small nations (in particular, Belgium) was a complete fraud; 'in reality they are waging war in order to keep the colonies, which they are able to rob on a larger scale than the Germans', and to grab Germany's colonies. Besides, it is impossible to 'liberate' Belgium, without sacrificing a whole series of nations to British, French, Russian and Italian imperialism!  Finally, Belgium was herself a great colonial empire, and the restoration of Belgium by the Entente would be identical to the restoration of this empire.  Indeed, not even the brutal violation of Belgian neutrality by the Germans could alter the situation; for the general staffs and the governments of all the Great Powers [here Lenin is referring to the pamphlet by Morel 'The Outbreak of the War'] had known for decades, that every war between Germany and France would lead to the violation of Belgian neutrality, and in 1887 the British Government explicitly rejected the necessity of intervening on the side of Belgium in such an eventuality! 
While the British and French socialists siding with their governments bemoan the fate of Serbia and Belgium, continues Lenin, their German 'comrades' preach - harking back to the revolutionary ideology of 1848/9 - 'the struggle against tsarism!'  Another impudent falsification, for 'in actual fact, however, this (German - IL) bourgeoisie, which servilely grovels to the Prussian Junkers, headed by Wilhelm II, has always been the most faithful ally of tsarism, and an enemy of the revolutionary movement of Russia's workers and peasants. In fact, whatever the outcome of the war, this bourgeoisie will, together with the Junkers, exert every effort to support the tsarist monarchy against a revolution in Russia.'  Just like Anglo-French imperialism the war aims of German imperialism were primarily concerned with plundering colonies and non-German territories; both the Germans and their Austro-Hungarian allies had up till then held a whole series of foreign nations under their heel!
Equally unscrupulous and deceitful was the 'struggle against Prussian militarism' preached by the- Entente-bourgeoisies (and the Entente-socialists), just like their talk of the 'defence of democracy'. A curious struggle for democracy which depends on the most reactionary state power in Europe-Russian tsarism, which not only does not tolerate the slightest democracy within its own borders, but is decried in the whole world as a 'prison of nations' ... 
Thus the imperialist war of 1914 differs quite fundamentally from the national wars of the previous century, and it is therefore mere sophistry to try to evaluate it according to the criteria of those wars. How then can one defend a 'fatherland', that is in the process of plundering and crushing foreign 'fatherlands?' And what meaning - with regard to this war -can the obsolete distinction between 'offensive' and 'defensive' wars still have?
'We know that, for decades, three robbers (the bourgeoisie and the governments of Britain, Russia and France) were arming to pillage Germany. Is there anything surprising that two robbers began the attack before the other three got the new knives they had ordered.' 
The entire economic and diplomatic history of the last decade proves that the war of 1914 was systematically prepared for by all the belligerent powers; therefore, the question of who began the offensive and who declared war first, is completely secondary and - for revolutionary Marxists - meaningless!
'In the present situation, it is impossible to determine, from the standpoint of the international proletariat, the defeat of which of the two belligerent nations would be the lesser evil for socialism. 
On this point Lenin wrote mockingly:
`Let us hope that A Potresov , Kautsky and their adherents will propose that the Stuttgart and Basle resolutions (of the 2nd International on the coming war -RR) be replaced by something like the following: "Should war break out despite our efforts, we must decide, from the standpoint of the world proletariat what is the most to its advantage: that India be plundered by Britain or by Germany; that the Negroes of Africa be taught the use of 'fire-water' and pillaged by the French or the Germans; that Turkey be oppressed by the Austro-Germans or by the Anglo-Franco-Russian alliance; that the Germans should throttle Belgium or the Russians, Galicia ; that China be partitioned by the Japanese or by the Americans", etc.' 
Thus from the standpoint of the international interests of the working class, the strategy of the `lesser evil' is thus unfounded. A completely different matter, of course, with regard to the Russian working class!
Lenin wrote in October 1914
... for us Russians, from the point of view of the interests of the working masses and the working class of Russia, there cannot be the smallest doubt, absolutely any doubt, that the lesser evil would be now, at once the defeat of tsarism in this war. For tsarism is a hundred times worse than Kaiserism.' 
... if there is anything that, under certain conditions, can delay the downfall of tsarism, anything that can help tsarism in its struggle against the whole of Russia's democracy, then that is the present war, which has placed the purses of the British, the French and the Russian bourgeois at the disposal of tsarism, to further the latter's reactionary aims. If there is anything that can hinder the revolutionary struggle of the Russian working class against tsarism, then that is the behaviour of the German and the Austrian Social-Democratic leaders, which the chauvinist press is continually holding up to us as an example..
Which naturally does not imply that the Russian workers and the oppressed nationalities of Russia should desire the victory of the Central Powers; for the war can also reach the point (and did in fact reach that point), where not only the tsarist empire, but also its enemies are shattered  - and from the standpoint of revolutionary Marxists that is the very best of all possible solutions!
`What is the present war being fought over?' - asks Lenin in his article against Pyatakov (Kievsky - IL) (October 1916): `England, France and Russia are fighting to keep the colonies they have seized, to be able to rob Turkey, etc... Let us suppose that the Germans take Paris or St Petersburg. Would that change the nature of the present war? Not at all. The German's purpose - and more important, the policy that would bring it to realisation if they were to win - is to seize the colonies, establish domination over Turkey, annex areas populated by other nations, for instance, Poland, etc. It is definitely not to bring the French or the Russians (themselves -RR) under foreign domination. The real nature of the present war is not national but imperialist. In other words, it is not being fought to enable one side to overthrow national oppression, which the other side is trying to maintain. It is a war between two groups of oppressors, between two freebooters over the division of their booty ... '  But this means `From the liberator of nations, which it was in the struggle against feudalism, capitalism in its imperialist stage has turned into the greatest oppressor of nations. Formerly progressive, capitalism has become reactionary; it has developed the forces of production to such a degree that mankind is faced with the alternative of adopting socialism or of experiencing years and even decades of armed struggle between the "Great" Powers for the artificial preservation of capitalism by means of colonies, monopolies, privileges and national oppression of every kind.' 
Therefore instead of choosing between the 'younger and stronger' robber and the 'older and overgorged' one, `socialists must take advantage of the struggle between the robbers to overthrow them.' `Whoever justifies participation in the present war is perpetuating the imperialist oppression of nations. Whoever advocates taking advantage of the present embarrassments of the governments so as to fight for the social revolution is championing the real freedom of really all nations.' 
And this freedom can be achieved only under socialism!
Enough on Lenin's analysis of the driving forces and the character of the First World War. Certainly, Lenin's blunt and intentionally brutal language (`highway robbers', `bandits' etc) may offend some sensitive souls (particularly in the camp of the Entente). However, it is not the form, but the content, that really has a damaging effect. For what has since become known, from diplomatic correspondence, of the period before the First World War and in particular of the secret treaties of all the Great Powers taking part in this war, is so disgraceful that today not a single world of Lenin's critique can be considered incorrect. `Don't blame the mirror, if it shows a twisted face' (Gogol). The shady diplomatic dealings of the belligerent states of the time make a mockery of all the fine phrases uttered in the First World War about defence of democracy, the freedom of nations, etc. 
On one point, however, Lenin's analysis appears to be inadequate: he still apparently underestimated the tremendous elemental force of the national movements in Austro-Hungary.  However, it was precisely these movements, which made it possible for the-in essence, purely imperialist - governments of the Entente to assume after the end of the war the mantle of the `fight for democracy' and to appear in the role of `liberator' of the oppressed nationalities! Indeed, -their solution of the nationalities-question in Central and Southern Europe was itself bound up with the oppression of large sections of the Ukrainian, White-Russian, Slovak, German and Hungarian peoples. On the other hand this solution would undoubtedly have turned out far more reactionary, if the Russian Revolution, which had taken place in the meantime, had not forced the Entente to take the so-called 'right of nations to self-determination' rather more seriously. Nevertheless the weakness of Lenin's analysis on this point (which moreover he shared with most of the contemporary 'Lefts', with the sole exception of Trotsky ) can scarcely be denied.
Another aspect of Lenin's analysis, which is worth reconsidering, is the following. As we saw, Lenin never took into account the possibility that the First World War might lead to `Napoleonic victories' of one of the two coalitions (although in his critique of R Luxemburg's Junius Pamphlet he took into consideration the theoretical possibility of such victories, in order to illustrate the possibility of `national wars' even in Europe). True he was correct to emphasise (in the same critique) that `the differences between the forces of the two coalitions are only insignificant', and that this was one of the factors which justified the necessity of a strictly 'defeatist' policy for the proletariat  However, the other perspective (the possibility of the rapid, `total' victory of one of the two coalitions) could not at that time be excluded! In this case the First World War could have ended either (as Trotsky stressed in his pamphlet) with the unrestricted dominance of Germany , or with the dominance of the Entente in Europe. (The former remained only a danger - although occasionally an acute one; the latter was finally prevented by the Russian Revolution which had taken place in the meantime). Of course, all this does not mean that the strategy of absolute `revolutionary defeatism' advocated by Lenin was incorrect in the First World War (in this respect, Trotsky's evasive attitude: 'Neither victory, nor defeat!' was certainly too indefinite); it only means that this strategy also had its limits and could only be applied in the concrete situation of the First World War (permanent war of position etc). The real limits of this strategy were shown in the Second World War, which after a few months had already led to the 'Napoleonic victories' of Hitler's armies. In all the countries over-run by and threatened by Hitler, the policy of unconditional rejection of any 'defence of the fatherland' must have appeared meaningless. The traditional policy of 'revolutionary defeatism', initiated by Trotsky and blindly pursued by his followers throughout the war, was shown to be too abstract, and therefore also totally ineffective, because it took too little account of concrete reality and relied far too much on simply drawing conclusions by analogy. However, this reproach applies the least of all to Trotsky himself, because-as we now know thanks to Deutscher- just before his murder (in August 1940) he was on the point of radically modifying the traditional 'defeatist' policy and replacing it with a strategy of qualified, revolutionary `defencism' (as had been in Rosa Luxemburg's mind in her Junius Pamphlet) .
It should be re-emphasised at the conclusion of this section, that the ruthless exposure of the essentially imperialist character of the First World War did not represent anything specifically Leninist, and that the same critique of the war was also made at the same time by other leading Lefts (Trotsky, and in particular brilliant fashion by Rosa Luxemburg too )- even if it has to be admitted that both Trotsky's and Rosa Luxemburg's analyses suffer from certain shortcomings and vague points . What is peculiar to Lenin-and only to him-is the unremitting thoroughness with which he transposed the lessons resulting from the analysis of the driving forces of the First World War into practical politics, in order not only to `criticise' the bourgeois world engulfed in the dreadful carnage of war, but also to 'change' it. And in this sphere he was certainly without equal.
* It should be noted with regard to the quotations from Lenin that the author appears to have been using two different editions of Lenin's Works (referred to as Coll. Works and Sämtliche Werke in the original). In spite of this problem virtually all of the references have been traced to the current English edition of Lenin's Collected Works and are given accordingly as CW in the footnotes. Those which have not been traced are indicated in the footnotes with the original source. It should also be noted that the author dated events and articles according to the new Revolutionary calendar. In order to maintain his chronology we have kept to this scheme. The two revolutions of 'February' and 'October' 1917 are thus referred to as taking place in March and November.[IL]
1. The attitude of the Rumanian revolutionary Chr. Rakovsky is the best example of this confusion. Rakovsky; who (like Lenin) thought the first report that the German social-democracy had agreed to war credits was a falsification (Rominia muncotiare 9, 16, and 20 August 1914) was by 27 August writing in the same newspaper:
`Apart from the direct aggression of Austro-Hungary, all the other states only stepped onto the stage of war because of previous treaty agreements... The Serbs, Belgians and French are engaging in legitimate self-defence, and thus the role of socialists there is clear: they have to play a part in defending their countries.'
(Rakovsky forgets here the exemplary internationalist attitude of the Serbian deputies Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch)
`You may find Herve's declaration exaggerated when he demands that he be allowed to enlist in the first regiment marching to the border, ... fundamentally, however, we all agree with Herve's gesture....
'But for German Social Democracy, it is a matter of answering a practical question as well as a question of principle. 30% or perhaps even more of the German army is under the influence of the socialist movement. So the actions of the Party do have an effect on the combativity of these reservists. Once war had been declared, German Social Democracy could not allow any of its actions-such as the rejection of war-credits - to bring about the demoralisation of these socialist soldiers ... ' (Quoted from K Grünberg Die Internationale and der Weltkrieg 1916 p277-80)
Let us not forget, however, that at the beginning of the World War Fr. Adler justified the social-patriotic attitude of his party with the 'scientific-philosophical' proposition! ... the nation, like any organism, must above all ensure its survival'. (quoted by R. Luxemburg in the Internationale April 1915 p18. Rosa Luxemburg, Selected Political Writings. Jonathan Cape London 1972 p202, whole article p197-210.)
2. Lenin 'The Collapse of the Second International' CW Vol 21 p218.
3. Lenin 'Socialism and War' CW Vol 21 p299 and 'Lectures on "The Proletariat and the War"' CW Vol 36 p297.
4. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p299. Of course the last sentence referred mainly (though not exclusively) to the countries of Asia and Africa which were subjugated and plundered by imperialism (today Latin America would also be added): `In India and China, too, class conscious proletarians could not take any other path but the national one, because their countries have not yet been formed into national states. If China had to carry on an offensive war for this purpose, we could only sympathise with her because objectively it would be a progressive war ... ' (`The Proletariat and the War' op cit p299). And in another passage: 'For example, if tomorrow, Morocco were to declare war on France, or India on Britain, or Persia or China on Russia, and so on, these would be "'just" and "defensive" wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slave-holding and predatory "Great" Powers.' ('Socialism and War' op cit p300-1).
5. Ibid p299.
6. Ibid p304 - The same standpoint, i.e. the necessity of a historical-materialist consideration of all wars was strongly emphasised by L Trotsky in his work on The War and the International, written in September 1914. (This appears under the title The Bolsheviki and World Peace in the translation of this work published in New York in 1918, p126-7. Re-issued as The War and the International Young Socialist Publication Colombo 1971 p33-4. All quotes are taken from the latter, though both references are given, the first referring to the 1918 edition. Trans. note).
7. However, the programme of the nation state 'was carried out (completely - RR) only in France at the time of the great revolution, for in the national and political heritage left to Europe by the feudal Middle Ages, this could be accomplished only by revolutionary measures. In the rest of Europe this nationalisation, like the revolutionary movement as a whole, remained the patchwork of half-kept promises.' R Luxemburg: 'The Junius Pamphlet: the Crisis of the German Social Democracy' in Rosa Luxemburg Speaks, Pathfinder 1970 NY pp306-7.
8. Lenin and Zinoviev's programmatic text 'Socialism and War' op cit p299-300.
9. C.f. for example the differences between Marx-Engels and Lassalle (as regards the Italian war of 1859) and between Marx-Engels and Liebknecht-Bebel (as regards the Franco-German war of 1870).
10. C.f. the identical line of thought in Trotsky op cit p236; 76.
11. Lenin op cit p303.
12. Here in particular, says Lenin, is a demonstration of Clausewitz's theorem, that war is 'only a continuation of politics by other means'.
13. Lenin ibid - c.f. 'A Separate Peace' CW Vol 23 p126: 'England is fighting to rob Germany of her colonies and to ruin her principal competitor, who has ruthlessly outrivalled her by his superior technique, organisation and commercial drive—and so thoroughly that England could not retain her world domination without war. Germany is fighting because her capitalists consider themselves - and rightly so - entitled to the 'sacred' bourgeois right to world supremacy in looting and plundering colonies and dependent countries ... '
14. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p306.
15. Lenin 'The Proletariat and the War' op cit p299.
16. Lenin 'The Conference of the RSDLP Groups Abroad' CW Vol 21 p159.
17. Lenin 'The Collapse of the Second International' op cit p236. (Lenin knew of the existence of this treaty only from the-very inadequate - press-reports of the time).
18. 'If the idea of a "war of defence" has any meaning at all,' writes Trotsky - 'it certainly applied to Serbia in this instance. Nevertheless, our friends, Ljaptchevitch and Katzlerovitch, unshaken in their conviction of the course of action that they as Socialists must pursue, refused the government a vote of confidence. The writer was in Serbia at the beginning of the war. In the Skuptchine, in an atmosphere of indescribable 'national enthusiasm', a vote was taken on the war credits. The voting was by roll-call. Two hundred members had all answered "yes". Then in a moment of deathlike silence came the voice of the Socialist Ljaptchevitch - "No". Everyone felt the moral force of this protest and the scene remained indelibly impressed upon my memory.' Op cit p48;4. (The war Trotsky is referring to here is the First Balkan War of 1912 -IL)
19. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p303.
20. Ibid p305.
21. One is reminded of the grotesque 'independence' of the Belgian Congo, and of the total intransigence of the Anglo-Belgian mining-interests in the Katanga province! [In the early 1960s there were differences within and between Belgian and US imperialisms about how best to undermine the Congolese struggle for independence. Sections of Belgian imperialism, wanting to preserve a colonial solution, organised the secession of the richest part of Congo - Katanga. The neo-colonial solution, promoted by the US government, with the help of Belgian socialists, finally prevailed. See also note 98. SP]
22. Lenin 'British Pacifism & British Dislike of Theory' CW Vol 21 p262. For a more detailed amount of this episode see K Zilliacus Mirror of the Past. A History of Secret Diplomacy 1946.
23. R Luxemburg spoke scornfully on this occasion of 'the long forgotten chords that were sounded by Marx in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung,' which suddenly rang out in the German socialist press. Rosa Luxemburg Speaks op cit p288.
24. One is reminded that at that time the social-democratic 'Chemnitzer Volksstimme' honoured Hindenburg as 'the neat unconscious instrument of the Russian Revolution'! Quoted by Trotsky, op cit p84, p19.
25. Lenin: 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy' CW Vol 21 p27-8. 'And if the Revolution should even gain the upper hand under such circumstances (the defeat of Russia in the war - IL)' - wrote Trotsky in the previously mentioned pamphlet- `then the bayonets of the Hohenzollern armies would be turned on the Revolution. Such a prospect can hardly fail to paralyse Russia's revolutionary forces; for it is impossible to deny the fact that the party of the German proletariat stands behind the Hohenzollern bayonets.' Op cit 1918 p87-8; 20 (emphasis added by RR). How precisely was this gloomy forecast fulfilled early in 1918!
26. (This phrase does not appear in the reference given by Rosdolsky but is in 'On the National Pride of the Great Russians' CW Vol 21 p103.)
27. Lenin 'The Russian Brand of Südekum' CW Vol 21 p121.
28. Lenin 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy' CW Vol 21 p32. However the war may end, it says in another passage, it 'will bring humanity fresh oppression of hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in the colonies, in Persia, Turkey and China...' 42. (Lenin 'Appeal on the War' CW Vol 22 p368)
29. Russian social-democrat, Menshevik.
30. 'Russia is fighting for possession of Galicia, which she needs, in particular, to throttle the Ukrainian people (for Galicia is the only place where the Ukrainians have, liberty - relatively of course) ...' Lenin 'A Separate Peace' op cit p126.
31. Lenin 'The Social Chauvinists' Sophisms' CW Vol 21 p187.
32. Lenin 'Letter to A.G. Shlyapnikov, 17 October 1914' CW Vol 35 pp162-3
33. Lenin 'The War and Russian Social-Democracy' op cit p32-3.
34. Moreover, only this situation made it possible for the Poles etc, as a result of the First World War to regain their independence.
35. Lenin 'A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism' CW Vol 23 p33-4.
36. Lenin 'Socialism and War' Op cit p301-2.
37. Ibid p303 and 305-6.
38. We find the following in the work of the American historians Ch and M Beard: 'At the same time secret agreements, made long before 1914, between Russia, France and Great Britain, were unearthed by historians working in the archives of Russia, Germany and Austria thrown open to researchers by revolutions in all those countries. On the basis of clear documentary evidence scholars dissected the myth, propagated by those powers, that Germany was wholly responsible for inaugurating the war; that on Germany must be placed all the war guilt; that the governments of Great Britain, France and Russia united by the secret agreements were administered by innocent civilians suddenly and unexpectedly attacked by a blood thirsty villain. By reading copies of these diplomatic documents, scholarly works in European history founded on them or the publicity given to the findings, literate Americans in large numbers learned something of the innumerable lies, deceptions and frauds perpetrated by the governments of Czarist Russia, Great Britain and France, as well as of the Central Powers, at the expense of their own peoples and other nations. The gleaming mirage that pictured the World War as purely or even mainly a war for democracy and civilisation dissolved beyond recognition. Countless Americans who in 1915-18 yearned for a 'brave new world: at the conclusion of the war were disheartened by the proofs of sinister purposes running against their dreams.' A Basic History of the United States, 1944, p442.
The authors only forget to add that the oily peace-propaganda of W Wilson, made in the tone of a Presbyterian preacher, was essentially no different from the 'lies, deceptions and frauds' of his allies, and that Wilson's hypocrisy was only possible because the imperialist interests of North America lay at that time not so much in Europe and the Mediterranean as in Latin America and the Pacific ...
39. Just before the outbreak of the First World War Lenin wrote in his famous study of 'The Right of Nations to Self-Determination': 'In Austria, this revolution (the bourgeois-democratic revolution - RR) began in 1848 and was over in 1867 ... Therefore, in the internal conditions of Austria's development ... there are no factors that produce leaps and bounds, a concomitant of which might be the formation of nationally independent states ... (There was) a striving on the part of the Hungarians and then of the Czechs, not for separation from Austria, but, on the contrary, for the preservation of Austria's integrity ... Owing to this peculiar situation, Austria assumed the form of a dual state, and she is now (? - RR) being transformed into a triple state (Germans, Hungarians, Slays).' Lenin CW Vol 20 p406-7. (We quote Lenin's work from R Luxemburg's Selected Speeches and Writings as published in the GDR, in which it (along with several other essays by Lenin - and even Stalin!) is taken up as a sort of antidote to the spirit of `Luxemburgism' - added by RR).
40. See the pamphlet by Trotsky, in which he reiterates the fact that the 'chaotic Austro-Hungarian State' presents 'the most reactionary picture in the very heart of Europe', and describes it as 'the Turkey of Central Europe' op cit 1918 pp55 59 63; 7 8 11.
41. Lenin 'Socialism and War' op cit p315.
42. How far-reaching and systematic the plans of Wilhelm's diplomacy and of the Wilhelmine 'Supreme Command' were for European conquest, as regards Belgium, Poland, the Balkans, etc, and how tenaciously they stuck to these plans right to the end of the war, can be seen on every page of the comprehensive study based on archive material by Frj Fischer Der Griff nach der Weltmacht Düsseldorf 1962. Translated as Germany's aims in the First World War, Chatto & Windus London 1967.
43. We quote here the relevant section of Deutscher's work (unfortunately he failed to quote extensively from Trotsky's draft-article which is so important): 'The tentative shapeless text of the article suggests that his mind was in a ferment and that he was trying to modify an old idea of his or to produce a new one. He had until quite recently expounded "revolutionary defeatism", as Lenin had done during the First World War, telling the workers that their task was not to defend any imperialist fatherland, be it democratic or fascist, but to turn the war into a revolution. But now, after the Nazis had conquered virtually the whole of Europe and while the British and American working classes were reacting to this with militant anti-fascism, he felt that the mere repetition of the old formulae was of no use. "The present war, as we have stated on more than one occasion, is the continuation of the last war. But a continuation is not a repetition (but) a development, a deepening, a sharpening:" Similarly, the continuation of the Leninist policy of 1914-17' should not be mere repetition, but development, deepening. Lenin's revolutionary defeatism had rendered the Bolshevik party immune to the fetishes of bourgeois patriotism; but- contrary to a widespread belief - "it could not win the masses who did not want a foreign conqueror." The Bolsheviks gained popular support not so much by their "refusal to defend the bourgeois fatherland" as by the positive aspects of their revolutionary agitation and action. Marxists and Leninists in this war must realise this, he concluded.' And a few days before, Trotsky wrote in an article dealing with the introduction of universal conscription in the USA: '(We say - RR) you, workers, wish to defend ... democracy. We ... wish to go further. However, we are ready to defend democracy with you only on condition that it should be a real defence, and not a betrayal in the Petain manner.' I Deutscher The Prophet Outcast p501-2. (The article 'How to really defend democracy' appears in Writings 1939-40 Pathfinder 1973 pp344-345. Here p345. IL).
44. See the previously mentioned Junius Pamphlet op cit p257-331 .
45. The shortcomings of Luxemburg's book, which was already criticised by Lenin in 1916, will be discussed in the next section. As for Trotsky's pamphlet we have already emphasised a number of times its clearly revolutionary and internationalist character. Yet there is one passage in this text, where Trotsky declares that it is 'France's duty, to protect her territory and independence against the German offensive', although just a few pages further on he condemns the French social-patriots, 'who, when the war began, put on -their red trousers and set about liberating Germany' op cit pp98-109;24-27. The followers and biographers of Trotsky keep quiet about this passage, as if such vacillations arising from momentary impressions could be held against the memory of the great revolutionary.