Leningrad Institute of Philosophy

A Textbook of Marxist Philosophy


The Doctrine of Truth

MARX AND LENIN call objective truth that in our knowledge “which depends neither on the subject, nor on man, nor on society.” The question of objective truth occupies a central place in the Marx-Leninist theory of knowledge. Plekhanov, because of his failure to understand this question of objective truth, stumbled, with his hieroglyphic theory and his “belief” in objective reality, into the paths of agnosticism and idealism.

Lenin’s attitude was always unusually guarded and he was careful to check the least tendency to deviate from an objective view of truth, holding that it led inevitably to subjectivism and agnosticism. As an example of his irreconcilable hostility to such deviations, we may refer to his comments on Bukharin’s Economics of the Transition Period. Bukharin speaks of “considering” certain elements in the productive progress from a particular “point of view,” from which they are “theoretically interesting.” Lenin’s marginal comments run: “The wrong expressions. Solecism. Subjectivism. The point lies not in who ‘considers,’ to whom it is ‘interesting,’ but in that which is, independent of human consciousness.”

This insistence on the independence of the external world from human consciousness is the principle that distinguishes the dialectical materialist from the subjectivist in his attitude to objective truth. For Bogdanov the objectivity of a thing has only one meaning—its “general significance.”

“The objective character of the physical world,” says Bogdanov, “lies in this, that it exists not for me personally, but for everybody and has for everyone a definite significance, which I am assured is just the same is it is for me. The objectivity of the physical order is its general significance.”

As we see from the foregoing, Bogdanov means by objectivity the coincidence of representations in the consciousness of a number of “co-men,” and only that; thus he denies a purely concrete objectivity of nature, i.e. its independence of man and of human existence. The Bogdanovian principle of “general significance” sets the objectivity of the material world wholly in dependence on the subject, as a result of which the distinction between science and superstition seems to be obliterated. This last point is sharply stressed by Lenin, who declares that it can be said of any religious belief you like that it possesses “general significance,” because even to-day it may be found that a “great part of mankind” cling to it. The other character of objective truth, according to Bogdanov, is that it is connected with social organization; but this too, in Lenin’s opinion, relates it to almost any form. of social superstition.

Although not materialists, the neo-Kantians also accept the objectivity of knowledge. The favourite boast of these neo-Kantians, whom we find in the ranks of reformist socialism, is that they are thoroughly scientific in their study of objective reality. Moreover, this objectivity of scientific understanding is, in their opinion, given not from its correspondence with an object independent of the subject, but by a unity of the logical categories and by the common possession by all subjects of a simple super-subjective consciousness.

In distinction from this interpretation, scientific truth for materialists is defined as a concordance of ideas and of objective reality, “which is copied, photographed and reflected by our sensations, while existing independent of them.”

However, a logical attainment of objective truth together with the power to carry the materialistic principle into life is not reached merely by granting that an object independent of human consciousness exists. It is necessary to disclose the object in all its concreteness and fullness, in the light of all its connections and relations, and in all its aspects.

“The aggregate of all the aspects of a phenomenon, their actuality and their mutual-dependence—that is the source of truth,” Lenin points out, taking into account all the aspects of an object in their mutual relationships. The determination of the place and rôle of each one of them; the reckoning of the multiform connections of the given object with its surroundings; the displaying of the object in its development, with an exposition of the source of its self-movement, of those chief basic contradictions, from the overcoming of which development and forward movement ensue; the detection of the uniqueness of the forms in which the essential contradictions express themselves and appear; the disclosure of the elements of the new content that lie in the old; the struggle of the new content with the old form; these are some of the aspects of really concrete experience to which Lenin directs our attentions in the search for objectivity.

On the basis of contemplative materialism, which deals only with the surface of phenomena, all kinds of distortions and perversions of objective truth are possible.

For example, the materialism of Kautsky and his disciples stops short with a simple statement of what meets the eye; it ignores underlying contradictions and the necessity for discerning what is basic and essential in the phenomenon from what is secondary. The result is that the different aspects of the object emerge before the knower with but a single meaning, and facts are equated without regard to the differences underlying their unity. It is materialism of this sort that fails to understand the true meaning of capitalism because by dwelling only on the surface it ignores the ever strengthening basic contradictions; it ignores the class struggle which is the determining factor in the actual development of capitalism.

A similar distorted understanding of truth lies at the base of all opportunism. For example, in stating the general contradiction between evolving capitalism and the feudalistic order in the period of the revolution of 1905, the Menshevists excluded from their analysis the revolutionary activity of the proletariat and of the peasantry—excluded the very thing which promotes and resolves the self-creative contradictions of social development.

Lenin often reproached Plekhanov for “right wing” tendencies due to his love of abstractions. This is what Lenin wrote in a note on the second project of Plekhanov’s programme for the Second Party Congress.

“The general and basic defect of this project, which makes it unacceptable, is this: it is not a programme of a practical fighting party but a mere voicing of principles. It is rather a programme for students (especially in the very important part that is devoted to the characteristics of capitalism) and for that matter elementary students, a programme in which capitalism in general is discussed, not even Russian capitalism.”

When facts or aspects of reality are considered discretely and out of relation with one another the ground is prepared for an arbitrary selection of facts and subsequent grouping of them to support some theory. But the real situation can only be known if the facts are seen in their actual relations, if the whole complex is examined as it is found.

It is just the failure to do this that led to the subjective distortion of events by the representatives of the Second International in the war-period of 1914, when the imperialist, predatory character of the war was obscured by sophisms about the freeing of oppressed nationalities, about “the aggressor,” about the right of every worker to defend his country. In these sophisms the particular covered the general, the fortuitous was set in the place of the law-determined, forgery was covered by the name of Marx. They cited the fact that Marx and Engels in the period of the wars of the ’50’s “also” stood on the side of one of the belligerent countries. They forgot that the national wars of that period were wars in which the progressive bourgeoisie was fighting against feudalism.

Eclecticism and sophistry of this sort are common in our day and form an instrument frequently used to distort objective reality and conceal it from the workers.

How often do we hear it said that it does not matter of what sort a dictatorship is, whether bourgeois or proletarian, that a dictatorship is a dictatorship. It is a “subjective hotch-potch” when Kautsky, Trotsky and others with them declare that the new business methods of Soviet industry are a return to the capitalist methods of economy, that socialist competition is the resurrection of capitalist methods of competitive struggle between producers for the stimulation of their initiative.

Whence it follows that any abstract, lifeless, contemplative understanding of objective truth so far from contradicting subjectivism, and arbitrariness, leads inevitably to them.

Suppose then that we are careful to take full account of the moving, complex nature of reality, can it be said that the fulfilment of this very important requirement guarantees a complete disclosure of objective truth at once, finally, and without mistake? In other words do we grasp objective truth in all its completeness or is its attainment a difficult, tortuous path pregnant with errors, with delusions and fantastic divagations. It is characteristic of most metaphysicians that they should fail to comprehend that the reflection of truth is an historic process. By admitting the absolute immutability of all that exists (including also truth itself), they hold that our ideas straightway grasp the object just as it is. The categories, which they use in this metaphysical fashion, are in their opinion eternal. Thus for instance the English economists, the forerunners of Marx (Adam Smith, Ricardo), considered the category “capital” as an absolute reflection of the relationship between people in the whole course of human history, beginning with primitive times and ending with bourgeois society. The researches of Marx (from the standpoint of the new social class) disclosed the complete futility of this metaphysical understanding of capitalism. Hegel’s attempt in his idealistic system to express absolute knowledge is also metaphysical in this sense.

In most branches of scientific knowledge (natural science, history, philosophy, philology, psychology) there is no room for the metaphysical conception of absolute truth. The more scientific knowledge develops, the more obvious to everyone is the worthlessness of all claims to the attainment of absolute scientific truth at whatever stage. The old doctrine of the immutability of the species of plants and animals in the biological field has been for a long time discredited. The theory of phlogiston in chemistry has been replaced by that of Lavoisier. In the physical field the atomic theory has been replaced by the electronic; indestructibility of the chemical elements has been disproved. In art and literature one school gives place to another. In the field of philology the doctrine of an ancient Indo-European language underlying all others has been refuted. The falsity of the theory of the immutability and eternity of capitalist society (which is still even now preached by bourgeois historians) has not only been shown theoretically, but has been confirmed by the whole practice of proletarian dictatorship, the practice of constructing the basis of a classless society.

In the field of philosophy the old metaphysical view of the world has been set at nought by the science of the universal laws of the development of nature, of society and human thought—dialectical materialism. Indeed the latter, the most scientific reflection of actuality, is itself all the time being enriched and developed on the basis of our experience in the construction of socialism as well as by the latest discoveries of the different sciences. The Marxian theory of scientific socialism has been enriched by the Leninist doctrine of imperialism as the final decaying stage of capitalism; Marx’s position on proletarian dictatorship has been developed and made concrete by Lenin, Stalin and the party as a whole.

But if the matter stands thus with scientific knowledge, if every theory in its time grows old and yields place to another, then are not those philosophers right who hold positions which, at first glance, are utterly contrary to our theory of absolute truth? Are not Bogdanov, Mach and other bourgeois philosophers (the pragmatists, the intuitivist Bergson) right when they assert a merely relative truthfulness for our knowledge, and its absolute conditionality?

The doctrine that regards knowledge as absolutely mutable, as deprived of any stability whatever, is not new. Such views were defended by schools of sophists and sceptics even in ancient Greece. In the new philosophy of relativism (the admission of nothing more than the relativity of processes) we witness the resurrection of Hume.

Followers of Mach have exalted relativism as one of the basic principles of their world-outlook. Petzoldt, for instance, holds that even Hume with his ideas has come to grief, by not finding his way to a systematic relativism. In him (as in his predecessor Hobbes) we find, he writes, only certain germs of relativism; it is Ernst Mach and Averarius who have revealed again this deeply buried truth and exalted it to the position of the main factor in their world-outlook. The relativists assert that relative truth quite excludes absolute truth. The “yesterday” of our knowledge is not like the “to-day,” the “to-day” not like the “to-morrow.” The past is not contained in the present at all. The present is in no degree connected with the future. All causal or rational succession in the evolution of scientific knowledge is denied. Such a view-point denotes nothing but subjective idealism and a complete denial of objective truth. This relativist understanding of truth is much used by subjective idealism in its conflict with materialism and the theory of reflection. How is it possible, say relativists, to assert that we reflect in our consciousness an object, if the whole history of knowledge shows that what yesterday we held to be the truth appears to-day as utter illusion? We must always be prepared, they assert, for any new scientific fact to expose all the illusions and errors of what is to-day’s understanding of actuality. And, in general, the relativist continues, are we capable of attaining any degree of absolute knowledge if the instrument of knowledge, our senses and our apparatus of perception, is itself defective? Can man attain to the infinite, the unlimited, when he possesses five limited senses? Is it possible in the material of sensations, which is extraordinarily variable and transitory, to apprehend the constant, the law-directed? Is it possible to see firm contours in the variegated impressions that glitter in front of man? How can one speak of the objective grasping of an object if our sensations are utterly subjective and carry the stamp of that individual to whom they belong? How can we speak of a scientific reflection of an object or of the development of science, when even in the same epoch, at the same stage of the evolution of knowledge, every man has his own opinion, his own perception? What seems beautiful to one may appear to others as the extremity of shapelessness and ugliness; what pleases one disgusts another.

Here we see how the uprooting of sense experience from practice (in its widest sense) is responsible for relativism. “Man is the measure of things”—such is the conclusion the relativist arrives at when he denies all possibility of reaching the objectively true, the real, the eternal in what is transitory, and in principle sees no distinction between the true and the false. On the basis of such a view, truth and error, objective fact and illusion, scientific knowledge and superstition emerge as equally valid.

By breaking down the wall of division between truth and error, relativism is driven into pure superstition. A number of modern physicists have yielded to this strange aberration and as a result have lapsed into idealism, into confessing the complete relativity of scientific knowledge. They have taken the breakdown of the older notions of the physical structure of matter to justify their abandonment of all scientific belief in the reality of matter, of energy, of space and time.

The epistemological basis of such views is the isolation and exaggeration of one aspect of human knowledge, the fact that it is limited. This fact results firstly from the reflection of the unlimited by limited subjects and secondly from the dependence of every theory on the limits set by the historic development of social practice. The inevitable incompleteness of reflection, of every theory of objective truth, the possible errors in it, are declared by the relativists to be a proof of the complete subjectivity of any scientific theory, and any attempt to see in the truths of science the reflection of a reality independent of man is held by them to be entirely vain.

It would give a false picture if in our analysis of modern relativism we dwelt only on its philosophical errors and omitted to point out that it provides a convenient theoretical justification of the flight from reality and the class struggle. Relativism is also very much in accordance with the world-outlook of the bourgeoisie, who are limited by the horizon of the present moment and who recoil in dread before any attempt to understand the future scientifically.

Relativism in our time offers certain advantages in the struggle with dialectical materialism. It is no longer any use to attack it from the standpoint of the older and discredited metaphysics. Everything that is happening, the rapid development of science, the revolutionary changes in society, the upheavals brought about by socialist construction, all these, show to every worker that reality is in process of change, and this is the basis of a materialistic dialectic. But relativism enables the bourgeois philosophers to draw a different conclusion and to conceal, behind the appearance of admitting change and development, a denial of the objectivity of the material world and a refusal to take part in the struggle for its actual and revolutionary change.

From all this we see that the relativism which seemingly contends so zealously with the old metaphysics for the admission of movement and change is in essence a variety of that same metaphysics.

Actual change can be understood only when we regard the different moments or stages of development as organically connected with each other, as a continuation of each other, when in our understanding of the connection and succession of the moments of movement we proceed from a single basis or from one source of movement, but this is just what the relativists will not allow. If we argue relatively then Marx’s doctrine, for instance, has no connection whatever either with English bourgeois political economy, or with Utopian socialism, or with German idealistic dialectic, or French materialism. But in actuality this is not so. Marxism included in itself all that was absolutely true in the content of the "three sources," discarding their distortions and errors, i.e. essentially remaking them from the view-point of the new revolutionary class and on the basis of the new historic data. A number of modern bourgeois physicists have lapsed into idealism because by accepting the electronic theory of the construction of matter they thought they were compelled to deny the existence of atoms. Lenin showed that the electronic theory of the construction of matter is only a further deepening of our representation of the development of physical matter, that the old representation also contained a moment of absolute truth. From the point of view of relativism science each time begins from the beginning, with a complete denial of all preceding views. From the dialectical point of view, which rests on the actual history of scientific knowledge, each new stage of science stands on the shoulders of its predecessor and includes in itself all the absolute truth that lay in the former.

The Leninist dictum that the proletariat should master the old bourgeois culture is built on the very admission that in bourgeois culture, in comparison with the preceding formations, there is contained a very rich reflection of absolute truth. The proletariat therefore can build its own proletarian culture, and advance it beyond the development of all human culture so far attained, only by critically mastering and working over all that is positive in bourgeois culture.

The Leninist attitude to proletarian culture and its relationship to bourgeois culture is opposed firstly to Bogdanov’s attempt to abandon bourgeois culture and create an entirely new proletarian culture, and secondly to Trotsky’s acceptance of bourgeois culture as absolute and final and his conclusion that socialist culture can be left to grow by itself as best it can.

It is because of this very sequence of the successive grades of scientific knowledge that science can evolve. Knowledge advances by the road of contradiction. It is accompanied by errors, by deviations from the direct attainment of its object. The external appearance of things for a time hides the true content of objects from the eyes of the seeker. Thus when first we look at merchant-capitalist society the relations between people are hidden by the relations between things. But the practical mastery of the material world tears away the covering of appearance from the objects of investigation, rectifies error by transforming into actuality the true objective content of knowledge, and purges science of the illusory. Scientific experience, which is handed over by one generation to the next, and is each time enriched by some new scientific discovery, is all the time increasing the possibility of an adequate knowledge of the objective world. The experience of industrial practice, the traditions of revolution, scientific discoveries, the store of ideas, are handed over from one epoch to the next and ever more deeply disclose the infinite possibilities of human thought. In the unlimited advance of human history, at every new step of its development there is a fuller, richer, more diverse revelation of the absolute content of the material world, which content, though confined within historically limited ideas, is nevertheless absolute truth. The progressive advance of human thought, the law-governed connection of its different stages, were guessed in an inspired manner by Irlegel, who criticized both the metaphysical view of knowledge (which admits only the eternity of truths), and relativism. In his Phenomenology of Spirit he characterizes the succession of philosophic systems in the following words:

“The more the ordinary mind takes the opposition between true and false to be fixed, the more is it accustomed to expect either agreement or contradiction with a given philosophical system, and only to see the one or the other in any explanation about such a system. It does not conceive the diversity of philosophical systems as the progressive evolution of truth; rather it sees only contradiction in that variety. The bud disappears when the blossom breaks through, and we might say that the former is refuted by the latter; in the same way when the fruit comes, the blossom may be explained to be a false form of the plant’s existence, for the fruit appears as its true nature in place of the blossom. These stages are not merely differentiated; they supplant one another as being incompatible with one another. But the ceaseless activity of their own inherent nature makes them at the same time moments of an organic unity, where they not merely do not contradict one another, but where one is as necessary as the other; and this equal necessity of all moments constitutes from the outset the life of the whole.”1

But, for Hegel, the inevitable development which gives rise to these different ideas and successive systems arises from a merely logical unfolding, so that they are revealed finally as only moments of the “absolute idea.” For dialectical materialists the unity of relative and absolute truth is based on the limitless development of social-historic practice, in which the systematic connections of the material world are disclosed.

The dialectical doctrine of the identity of relative and absolute truth makes it possible to avoid any subjectivism, agnosticism, or scepticism, which arise on the basis of either relativism or of a metaphysics which asserts the absoluteness of truth.

“From the view-point of modern materialism, i.e. Marxism,” writes Lenin, “the limits of the approach of our knowledge to objective absolute truth are conditioned historically, but the existence of that truth is unconditioned, the fact that we approach to it is unconditioned. The contours of the picture are historically conditioned, but the fact that this picture depicts an objectively existing model is unconditioned. In a word every ideology is historically conditioned, but the fact that to every scientific ideology (as distinct, for example, from the religious) there corresponds objective truth, absolute nature is unconditioned. You will say: this distinction of relative and absolute truth is indeterminate. I answer to you; it is just ‘indeterminate’ enough to prevent the turning of science into a dogma in the bad sense of that word, into something dead, frozen, shackled; but at the same time it is ‘determinate’ enough to keep aloof in the most resolute and irrevocable fashion from fideism2 and agnosticism, from philosophic idealism and from the sophisms of the followers of Hume and Kant.”

The conditionality, the relativity of every different step of knowledge of actuality (and only in these successive stages is absolute truth disclosed) are engendered by the limitations that are proper to each given stage of social practice and dictate our notions of the object. Wherefore thought is not able finally to grasp truth as a whole. The inevitable and necessary abstractions of thought may cause it to lose touch with actuality. Its limitations will necessarily contain the possibility of error.

The failure to understand that the given historical conditions will be superseded at a higher stage of historic development has brought those who do not master dialectic—Kantians and Machists—to a complete denial of objective truth. “This problem (i.e. the problem of unknowableness) of the ‘thing-in-itself,’” writes Engels, “can have a certain sense; we can attain knowledge only in the given conditions of our epoch, only just as far as these conditions allow.” But the limitations of the historic conditions, the limitations of world-outlook, the relative scarcity of amassed knowledge are historical limitations; they are not based on any fundamental principle rendering knowledge in the very nature of things impossible; they can therefore be to a certain degree overcome at a higher level of historic development.

In just the same way the limitations of the knowledge of actuality of a separate man, with his narrow experience (as compared with society as a whole), are extended by experience through the connection of the individual with a whole class, with all society, through the mastery of that knowledge which makes up the product of all the preceding history of human thought. These limitations of social knowledge are being overcome today more than at any previous stage in the history of mankind. For in the present transition period, the period of building a classless society, millions are being drawn into conscious socialist construction, mass inventiveness is developing and the situation is offering unlimited possibilities for the free development of the creative initiative of the masses on the basis of a scientific world-outlook. The new practice—socialist construction—overcomes the limited and distorted bourgeois ideology, reveals the errors accumulated during the centuries, serves as a material basis on which the cultural heritage of the old society is worked over, and gives a great impetus to the further development and concretization of the knowledge of objective truth.

The new historic stage of development of mankind, which for the first time in history has made possible a scientific approach not only to the problem of how to control and change the physical world but also society itself, has created conditions for a most deep and fruitful knowledge of objective truth.

On the basis of this new historic stage we find that even the most complete forms of scientific thought, such as the doctrine of Marx on capitalist society, Lenin’s doctrine of imperialism, or the theories of scientific socialism, are not absolute truths, but are capable of further development and precision and consequently contain in themselves moments of relativism.

The Leninist conception of the endless extension of the knowledge of any object (and consequently of the relativity of that knowledge at any given stage) refers not only to the knowledge of those objects which evolve in the period of man’s knowledge of them, but also to those which remain relatively immutable during the time of man’s whole existence or have already in the past finished the whole cycle of their development. Our knowledge of the nature of chemical elements, of chemical relations, becomes ever deeper and completer, in spite of the fact that the nature of the earth’s chemical elements (with the exception of the radio-active) have not changed at all during the period of existence of mankind. Our knowledge of the past geological epochs is all the time becoming richer, in spite of their having finished their cycles hundreds of millions of years ago. The scientific knowledge of feudalism became possible only after the sound of knightly tournaments, of peasant wars and of insurrections in bourgeois towns had ceased to echo. And the knowledge of capitalism becomes ever fuller and deeper according as capitalism is destroyed under the pressure of its own contradictions and the blows of proletarian revolution which such contradictions bring forth. The endlessness of knowledge is based on the limitless wealth of the development of the material world and the infinite variety of aspects and connections at every step of its development. The higher the level of social practice and the more completely all the aspects of actuality are grasped by it, so much the deeper is our knowledge of actuality, both of that which is the direct object of sensed human action, and of that which is brought forward from the past and embodied in the present.

But, as we pointed out above, there exists a fundamental distinction in principle between the relativists and the dialectical materialists. For the dialectical materialist the knowledge of the basic law-system, if it is confirmed by the criterion of historic social practice, enters into the iron inventory of permanent scientific knowledge.

The development of practice, the enrichment of factual material and the development of scientific knowledge which is connected with these, can make our knowledge of basic law more concrete, can even show that that law-system which was regarded by us in the past stage as fundamental and universal is itself rooted in another deeper law-system and is its partial form. But all this in no measure destroys the fact that in that law-system we had reflected a “little bit” of absolute truth.

When the representatives of the Second International at the time of the imperialist war sought on a basis of incomplete study and “insufficient” discussion of national and international tactics to controvert the truth of the Basle3 pronouncement on the imperialist, predatory character of the coming war, Lenin wrote:

“Such assertions are sophisms because they confuse a many-sided scientific analysis of imperialism, which analysis only now begins and which analysis in its essence is infinite even as science is infinite, with the essentials of socialist tactics against capitalist imperialism, which tactics have been pointed out in millions of copies of Social-Democratic papers and in the decisions of the International.”4

The same thought on the infinity of knowledge in any realm of actuality is expressed by Lenin in many other passages in his writings; he stresses it very clearly in his discussion of trade unions. Speaking of the demands that are put forward by dialectical logic in its study of an object, he picks out the most important, the study of an object as that which sums up and is permeated by the past, in all its relations and all its fullness. He adds “We never shall attain this completely, but the demand for all-sidedness will save us from errors and deadness.” We shall never get a reflection of an object that will hold good for ever, since nature, society and thought are endlessly evolving, but we shall get an ever more complete reflection.

In the development of scientific knowledge a unity of absolute and relative truth is realized. On the one hand dialectic as a theory of knowledge admits the endlessness oŁ the attainment of knowledge, never making absolute even its truest reflection, for if it did so it would cease to express the dialectic of the material world and thus lose its power of “guidance for action”; on the other hand dialectic admits the absoluteness, the fullness of the process of scientific knowledge as a whole and the presence of “little bits” of absolute truth in every scientific proposition, because it sees in it a firm basis for the assured advance of revolutionary practice.

The refusal to admit the unity of absolute and relative truth leads inevitably to the admission of one of these to the exclusion of the other, leads either to the changing of theory into dogma, or to a direct denial that theory is a reflection of actuality and therefore capable of furnishing a scientific basis for the revolutionary changing of actuality. These alternatives are different in form but identical in essence; they both refuse to allow theory as “guidance for action.”



1. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface.

2. Fideism. If scientific “truths” are only symbols or are accepted only because of their convenience it is clear that they are only true for us because we choose to have them so. Socialism itself becomes such a “truth,” in other words it is a “faith.” This is fideism and it is of course a form of scepticism and subjectivism.

3. Basle Manifesto. The resolution on War adopted at the Basle Internationalist Socialist Congress of 1912. This, says Lenin, “represents the most exact and complete, the most solemn and formal exposition of the socialist views on war and on tactics in relation to war.” It declares that imperialist war “cannot be justified by even the slightest pretext of being in the interest of the people.” Nevertheless it was “forgotten” in 1914 when the parties to the signatures supported their national Governments.

4. Lenin, Works, vol. xviii, p. 277.

Next: I. The Law of the Unity and Conflict of Opposites