Peter Sedgwick

International Nostalgia

(Winter 1964/5)

From International Socialism, No.19, Winter 1964/5, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Correspondence entre Lenine et Camille Huysmans, 1905-1914
Editions Mouton, Paris, 1963. No price.

Between 1905 and 1914 Lenin, as the delegate of Bolshevik Social-Democracy to the Bureau of the Second International, wrote a number of letters on party business to Camille Huysmans, the Bureau’s secretary. Eighty of these, mostly retrieved from oblivion or physical disintegration, are presented in this collection either in their integral text or in the summary that was made at the time in the Bureau’s register of correspondence. The letters manifest a spirit of cordial and comradely working relations, clouded occasionally by some coolness on Lenin’s part arising from the ISB’s attempts to reconcile the Bolshevik and Menshevik wings. Lenin clearly took his duties of communication with the International very seriously. He publicised its affairs, and attended all the meetings of the Bureau between 1908 and 1911. While much of his contribution had to do with the internal divisions of the Russian movement, this was by no means always so. It was Lenin’s resolutions on the attitude of the working class in case of war that were approved by the 1907 Congress of the International at Stuttgart. In this volume we find him insisting on the exact recording in the Bureau’s minutes of an unsuccessful amendment of his terming the Labour Party ‘the first step taken by the genuine working-class organisation of Britain towards a genuine class policy and towards the Socialist workers’ party’. The letters have been admirably pieced together and exhaustively annotated by M. Georges Hapt. Of particular interest to IS readers will be the sidelights shed by this documentation on the relations between Lenin’s and Rosa Luxemburg’s respective spheres of influence at this time. A number of letters and circulars deal with the dispute within the Polish party (SDKPL) which led to the use of disciplinary measures and charges of police provocation by the Luxemburgist executive against the Leninist Warsaw Committee. Rosa emerges from this exchange less creditably than Ilyich. The outbreak of war terminates the volume; with the collapse of the International. Lenin and Luxemburg found themselves united as guardians of its betrayed heritage. Huysmans was to dither on for years, trying vainly but honourably to re-fashion, across the battlefields, the shattered structure of traditional Social-Democracy. The old International, however, stowed away in his correspondence-files, had no further history in the living world.


Last updated on 4.9.2007