Bourgeois Pacifism and Socialist Pacifism

Lenin's critique of pacifism in its bourgeois and "socialist" forms as a justification for imperialism.

Proletarians of all countries, unite!

BOURGEOIS PACIFISM AND SOCIALIST PACIFISM

V. I. Lenin
01.01.1917

Lenin on War and Peace: Three Articles
Foreign Languages Press
Beijing, 1966

Reproduced by
The Red Flag

Lenin intended the article «Bourgeois Pacifism and Socialist Pacifism» for the newspaper Novy Mir (New World) published in New York by Russian socialist émigrés. The article did not appear in New World and Lenin re-edited the first two sections which were published in the last issue (No. 58) of the Social-Democrat, January 31st, 1917, under the heading «A Turn in World Politics».

BOURGEOIS PACIFISM AND SOCIALIST PACIFISM

1. THE TURN IN WORLD POLITICS

There are symptoms that such a turn has taken place, or is about to take place; that is, a turn from imperialist war to imperialist peace.

The undoubtedly severe exhaustion of both imperialist coalitions; the difficulty of continuing the war any longer; the difficulty for the capitalists generally, and for finance capital in particular, to skin the people more than they have done already, in the way of outrageous «war» profits; the satiation of finance capital in the neutral countries, the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and so on, which has made enormous profits out of the war and finds it difficult to continue this «profitable» business owing to the shortage of raw materials and food supplies; the strenuous efforts being made by Germany to induce one or other of the allies of its main imperialist rival, England, to desert it; the pacifist pronouncements of the German government followed by similar pronouncements by the governments of a number of neutral countries — these are the outstanding symptoms.

Are there any chances for a speedy cessation of the war or not?

It is very difficult to give a positive reply to this question. In our opinion, two possibilities present themselves rather definitely.

The first is the conclusion of a separate peace between Germany and Russia, although it may not be in the usual form of a formal written treaty. The second is that such a peace will not be concluded, that England and its allies are really able to hold out for another year or two, and so on. If the first assumption is correct, the war will come to an end, if not immediately, then in the very near future, and no important changes in its progress can be expected. If the second assumption is correct, then the war may continue indefinitely.

We will examine the first possibility.

There is not the slightest doubt that negotiations for a separate peace between Germany and Russia have been going on quite recently, that Nicholas the 2nd himself, or an influential court clique, is in favour of such a peace, that in world politics a turn has taken place from an imperialist alliance between Russia and England against Germany, to a no less imperialist alliance between Russia and Germany against England.

The fact that Stürmer has been displaced by Trepov, the public declarations of tsarism that Russia‘s «right» to Constantinople has been recognized by all the Allies and the fact that Germany has set up a separate Polish State are signs that seem to indicate that the negotiations for a separate peace have ended in failure. Perhaps tsarism entered into these negotiations solely in order to blackmail England, to induce her formally and unambiguously to recognize Nicholas the Bloody‘s «right» to Constantinople and to give certain «weighty» guarantees for this right?

In view of the fact that the main, fundamental purpose of the present imperialist war is to decide the division of the spoils among the three main imperialist rivals, the three pirates, Russia, Germany and England, there is nothing improbable in this assumption.

On the other hand, the clearer it becomes to tsarism that it is practically impossible by military means to regain Poland, to win Constantinople, to break the iron front of Germany, which the latter is magnificently straightening out, shortening and strengthening by its recent victories in Romania, the more tsarism is compelled to conclude a separate peace with Germany, that is to say, to abandon its imperialist alliance with England against Germany and enter into an imperialist alliance with Germany against England. Why not? Was not Russia on the verge of war with England as a consequence of the imperialist rivalry between the two powers over the division of the spoils in Central Asia? Were not negotiations carried on between England and Germany in 1898 for an alliance against Russia? England and Germany then secretly agreed to divide the colonies of Portugal between themselves «in the event» of Portugal not being able to meet its financial obligations!

Increased strivings on the part of the leading imperialist circles of Germany towards an alliance with Russia against England were already clearly defined several months ago. The basis of this alliance apparently is to be the partition of Galicia (tsarism deems it very important to strangle the centre of Ukrainian agitation and Ukrainian liberty), Armenia and perhaps Romania! Was there not a «hint» in a German newspaper that Romania might be divided among Austria, Bulgaria and Russia? Germany might agree to other «small concessions» to tsarism if only she could achieve an alliance with Russia, and perhaps also with Japan, against England.

A separate peace might be concluded between Nicholas the 2nd and Wilhelm the 2nd secretly. Cases have occurred in the history of diplomacy when treaties have been concluded and, except for two or three persons, no one has known about them, not even the Cabinet Ministers. Cases have occurred in the history of diplomacy when the «Great Powers» have gathered at «European» congresses after the main rivals had secretly decided the main questions among themselves (for example, the secret agreement between Russia and England to plunder Turkey, prior to the Berlin Congress of 1878). It would not be at all surprising if tsarism rejected a formal separate peace between the governments for the reason, among others, that in the present situation in Russia it might lead to Milyukov and Guchkov, or Milyukov and Kerensky taking over the government; but at the same time it may have concluded a secret, informal, but none the less «durable» treaty with Germany to the effect that the two «high contracting parties» undertake jointly to pursue such and such a policy at the forthcoming peace congress!

It is impossible to decide whether this assumption is correct or not. At all events it is a thousand times nearer to the truth, it is a far better description of the truth than the innumerable sentimental phrases that are uttered about peace between the present governments, or between any bourgeois governments for that matter, on the basis of no annexations, and so on. These phrases either express innocent desires or are hypocrisy and lies uttered for the purpose of concealing the truth. The truth at the present time, about the present war, about the present attempts to conclude peace, is the division of the imperialist spoils. This is the quintessence of the whole thing; and to understand this truth, to express it, «to speak the truth», is the fundamental task of socialist policy as distinct from bourgeois policy, the principal aim of which is to conceal, to gloss over this truth.

Both imperialist coalitions have grabbed a certain amount of loot, and the two principal and most powerful of the pirates, Germany and England, have grabbed most. England has not lost a foot of its territory or its colonies; but it has «acquired» the German colonies and part of Turkey (Mesopotamia). Germany has lost almost all its colonies; but it has acquired immeasurably more valuable territory in Europe, by seizing Belgium, Serbia, Romania, part of France, part of Russia, and so on. The fight now is over the division of the loot, and the «chief» of each of the pirate gangs, that is, England and Germany, must to some degree reward their allies, who with the exception of Bulgaria and to a less extent Italy have lost a great deal. The weakest of the allies have lost most: in the English coalition, Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro and Romania have been crushed in the German coalition, Turkey has lost Armenia and part of Mesopotamia.

Up to now Germany has undoubtedly secured far more loot than England. Up to now Germany has won; it has proved to be far stronger than anyone anticipated before the war. Naturally, therefore, it would be to Germany‘s advantage to conclude peace as speedily as possible, for its rival might still be able at the most favourable opportunity conceivable (although not very probable) to mobilize a larger reserve of recruits, and so on.

This is the objective situation. Such is the present position in the struggle for the division of the imperialist loot. It is quite natural that this situation should give rise to pacifist strivings, to declarations and pronouncements, mainly on the part of the bourgeoisie and the governments of the German coalition and of the neutral countries. It is equally natural that the bourgeoisie and its governments are compelled to exert every effort to hoodwink the people, to conceal the hideous nakedness of imperialist peace, the division of the loot, by phrases, by utterly false phrases about democratic peace, about the liberty of small nations, about reducing armaments, and so on.

But while it is natural for the bourgeoisie to strive to hoodwink the people, how do the socialists fulfil their duty? This we shall deal with in the next article (or chapter).

2. THE PACIFISM OF KAUTSKY AND TURATI

Kautsky is the most authoritative theoretician of the Second International, the most prominent leader of the so-called «Marxian centre» in Germany, the representative of the opposition which organized a separate group in the Reichstag, the «Social-Democratic Labour Group» (Haase, Ledebour and others). A number of social-democratic newspapers in Germany are now publishing articles by Kautsky on the terms of peace, which paraphrase the official declaration made by the «Social-Democratic Labour Group» on the German government‘s well-known note proposing peace negotiations. This declaration calls upon the German government to propose definite terms of peace and contains the following characteristic statement:

«[…] In order that this note [the German Government‘s] may lead to peace, all countries must unequivocally renounce all thought of annexing alien territory, of the political, economic or military subjection of any people whatsoever by any other State power […].»

In paraphrasing and concretizing this postulate, Kautsky, in his articles, «argues» with great thoroughness that Constantinople must not be given to Russia and that Turkey must not be made a vassal State to anyone.

We shall examine these political slogans and arguments of Kautsky and his associates as closely as possible.

In a matter that affects Russia, that is, the imperialist rival of Germany, Kautsky advances, not abstract, not «general», but a very concrete, precise and definite demand: Constantinople must not be given to Russia. By that he exposes the real imperialist designs… of Russia. In a matter that affects Germany, however, that is, the country in which the majority of the party which regards Kautsky as its member (and which appointed him the editor of its main, leading, theoretical organ, The New Age) is helping the bourgeoisie and the government to conduct an imperialist war, Kautsky does not expose the concrete, imperialist designs of his own government, but confines himself to a «general» desideratum or postulate: Turkey must not be made a vassal State to anyone!!

In what way does Kautsky‘s policy, in substance, differ from that of the militant, so to speak, social-chauvinists (that is, socialists in words but chauvinists in deeds) of France and England, who, while frankly exposing the concrete imperialist actions of Germany, make shift with «general» desiderata or postulates when it concerns the countries or nations conquered by England and Russia, who shout about the seizure of Belgium and Serbia but say nothing about the seizure of Galicia, Armenia, the African colonies?

As a matter of fact, both the policy pursued by Kautskv and that pursued by Sembat and Henderson help their respective imperialist governments by concentrating attention principally on the insidiousness of their rival and enemy, while throwing a veil of vague, general phrases and sentimental wishes around the equally imperialist conduct of «their own» bourgeoisie. We wouid cease to be marxists, we would cease to be socialists generally, if we confined ourselves to the Christian, so to speak, contemplation of the benignity of benign general phrases and refrained from exposing their real political significance. Do we not see the continuous spectacle of the diplomacy of all the imperialist powers flaunting magnanimous «general» phrases and «democratic» declarations in order to screen their robbery, violation and strangulation of small nations?

«Turkey must not be made a vassal State to anyone […].» If I say no more than that, I create the impression that I stand for the complete freedom of Turkey. As a matter of fact, I am only repeating a phrase that is usually uttered by German diplomats who are deliberately lying and deceiving, who employ this phrase in order to conceal the fact that Germany has already converted Turkey into its financial and military vassal! And if I am a German socialist, my «general» phrases are extremely useful to German diplomacy, for their real significance lies in that they put German imperialism in a good light.

«[…] All countries must renounce all thought of annexations […] of the economic subjection of any people whatsoever […].» What magnanimity! The imperialists «renounce the thought» of annexations and of the financial strangulation of weak nations a thousand times, but should we not compare these renunciations with the facts which show that any one of the big banks of Germany, England, France and of the United States do hold small nations «in subjection»? Can the bourgeois government of a wealthy country really renounce annexations and the economic subjugation of alien peoples when billions and billions have been invested in the railways and other enterprises of weak nations?

Who really fights against annexations, and so on? Is it those who utter magnanimous phrases, the objective significance of which is the same as that of the Christian holy water that is sprinkled on the crowned and capitalist pirates? Or is it those who explain to the workers that it is impossible to put an end to annexations and financial strangulation without overthrowing the imperialist bourgeoisie and its governments?

Here is an Italian, illustration of the kind of pacifism that Kautsky preaches.

Forward, the Central Organ of the Socialist Party of Italy, of December 25th, 1916, contains an article by the well-known reformist, Filippo Turati, entitled «Abracadabra», in which he writes that on November 22nd, 1916, the socialist group in the Italian parliament moved a resolution in favour of peace. In this resolution the group declared that «the principles proclaimed by the representatives of England and Germany were identical, and these principles should lie at the base of a possible peace», and invited «the government to open negotiations for peace through the mediation of the United States and other neutral countries». This is Turati‘s own account of the socialist proposal.

On December 6th, 1916, the Chamber «buries» the socialist resolution by «adjourning» the debate on it. On December 12th, the German Chancellor in the Reichstag proposes the very thing proposed by the Italian socialists. On December 22nd, Wilson issues his note which, in the words of Turati, «paraphrases and repeats the ideas and arguments of the socialist proposal». On December 23rd, other neutral countries come on the scene and paraphrase Wilson‘s note.

We are accused of having sold ourselves to the Germans, exclaimed Turati. Have Wilson and the neutral countries also sold themselves to Germany?

On December 17th, Turati delivered a speech in parliament, one passage of which caused an unusual and deserved sensation. This is the passage, quoted from the report in Forward:

«Suppose a discussion like that proposed by Germany is able, in the main, to settle questions like the evacuation of Belgium and France, the restoration of Romania, Serbia and, if you will, Montenegro; I will add the rectification of the Italian frontiers in regard to what is indisputably Italian and corresponds to guarantees of a strategical character […].» At this point the bourgeois and chauvinist Chamber interrupts Turati, and from all sides the shout goes up: «Excellent! So you too want all this! Long live Turati! Long live Turati! […].»

Apparently, Turati realized that there was something wrong about the enthusiasm of these bourgeois and tried to «correct» himself and «explain»:

«Gentlemen», he said, «cease this irrelevant jesting. It is one thing to admit the relevance and right of national unity, which we have always recognized, but to provoke, or justify, war for this aim is quite another thing.»

But neither Turati‘s «explanation» nor the articles in Forward in his defence, nor Turati‘s letter of December 21st, nor the article by a certain «B.B.» in the Zürich People‘s Right can «correct» or explain away the fact that Turati fell into the trap!… Or it would be more correct to say that not Turati, but the whole of socialist pacifism represented by Kautsky, and, as we shall see below, the French «Kautskyists», fell into the trap. The Italian bourgeois press was right in seizing upon this passage in Turati‘s speech and exulting over it.

The above-mentioned «B.B.» tries to defend Turati by arguing that the latter referred only to «the right of nations to self-determination».

A bad defence! What has this to do with «the right of nations to self-determination», which, as everyone knows, is that part of the Marxian programme — and has always been that part of the programme of international democracy — which deals with the defence of oppressed nations? What has it to do with the imperialist war, that is, with a war for the division of colonies, a war for the oppression of foreign countries, a war among predatory and oppressing powers to decide which of them shall oppress more foreign nations?

In what way does this argument about self-determination of nations in defence of an imperialist war, and not a national war, differ from the speeches delivered by Alexinsky, Hervé and Hyndman who argue that republican France is opposed to monarchical Germany, in spite of the fact that everyone knows that this war has nothing to do with the conflict between republican and monarchist principles, but is a war for the division of colonies, and so on, between two imperialist coalitions.

Turati explained and pleaded that he does not «justify» the war in the least.

We will take the reformist, Kautskyan Turati‘s word for it that he did not intend to justify the war. But who does not know that in politics it is not intentions that count, but deeds, not good desires, but facts, not the imaginary, but the real?

Suppose we admit that Turati did not want to justify the war and that Kautsky did not want to justify Germany‘s placing Turkey in the position of a vassal to German imperialism; the fact remains that these two benign pacifists did justify the war! That is the point. Had Kautsky declared that «Constantinople must not be given to Russia, Turkey must not be made a vassal State to anyone» not in a magazine which is so dull that nobody reads it, but in parliament, before a lively, impressionable, bourgeois audience, full of southern temperament, it would not have been surprising if the witty bourgeois had exclaimed: «Excellent! Hear! Long live Kautsky!»

Whether he wished to or not, deliberately or not, the fact is that Turati expressed the point of view of a bourgeois broker proposing a friendly deal between imperialist pirates. The «liberation» of Italian soil belonging to Austria would, in fact, be a concealed reward to the Italian bourgeoisie for participating in the imperialist war of a gigantic imperialist coalition; it would be a small sop thrown in, in addition to the share of the African colonies and spheres of influence in Dalmatia and Albania. Perhaps the reformist Turati adopts the point of view of the bourgeoisie naturally; but Kautsky really differs in no way from Turati.

In order not to embellish the imperialist war, in order not to help the bourgeoisie falsely to represent this war as a national war, as a war for the liberation of nations, in order to avoid taking up the position of bourgeois reformism, one must speak, not in the language of Kautsky and Turati, but in the language of Karl Liebknecht: one must tell one‘s own bourgeois that they are hypocrites when they talk about national liberation, one must say that this war cannot result in a democratic peace unless the proletariat «turns its guns» against its own governments.

Such and only such could be the position of a genuine marxist, of a genuine socialist and not a bourgeois reformist. It is not the one who repeats the general, meaningless, non-committal, goody-goody desires of pacifism who really works for a democratic peace but it is the one who exposes the imperialist character of the present war and of the imperialist peace that is being prepared, the one who calls upon the peoples to rise in revolt against the criminal governments.

Some people sometimes try to defend Kautsky and Turati with the argument that it is impossible openly to do more than drop «hints» against the government and that the pacifists of this sort do «hint» at this kind of thing. The reply to this is, first, that the impossibility of speaking the truth openly is an argument, not in favour of concealing the truth, but in favour of the need for a clandestine organization and press, that is, an organization and press free from the surveillance of the police and the censorship. Secondly, that moments occur in history when a socialist is called upon to throw off all legality. Thirdly, that even in serf-ridden Russia, Dobrolyubov and Chernyshevsky managed to speak the truth, for example, by their silent comment on the Manifesto of March 3rd (February 19th), 1861, and the ridicule and abuse they hurled against the liberals of their day who made exactly the same kind of speeches as those made today by Turati and Kautsky.

In the next article we shall deal with French pacifism, which found expression in the resolutions passed by the two recently held congresses of the labour and socialist organizations of France.

3. THE PACIFISM OF THE FRENCH SOCIALISTS AND SYNDICALISTS

The congresses of the General Confederation of Labouri of France and of the Socialist Party of Franceii have just been held. At these congresses the true significance and true role of socialist pacifism at the present moment were quite definitely revealed.

The following is the resolution passed unanimously at the trade union congress, including the majority of the ardent chauvinists headed by the notorious Jouhaux, the anarchist Broutchoux and… the «Zimmerwaldian» Merrheim:

«This Conference of National Corporative Federations, trade unions and labour exchanges takes cognizance of the Note of the President of the United States which ‹invites all nations now at war with each other to publicly expound their views as to the terms upon which the war might be brought to an end› —

requests the French government to agree to this proposal;

invites the government to take the initiative in making a similar proposal to its allies in order to speed the hour of peace;

declares that the federation of nations, which is one of the guarantees of a final peace, can be achieved only with the independence, territorial inviolability and political and economic liberty of all nations, great and small.

The organizations represented at this conference pledge themselves to support and spread this idea among the masses of the workers in order to bring an end to the present indefinite and ambiguous situation, which can only benefit secret diplomacy, against which the working class has always protested.»

There you have an example of «pure» pacifism, entirely in the spirit of Kautsky, a pacifism approved by an official labour organization which has nothing in common withmarxism, and the majority of whose members are chauvinists. We have before us an outstanding document, deserving the most serious attention, of the political unity of the chauvinists and the «Kautskyists» on a platform of empty pacifist phrases. In the preceding article we tried to explain the theoretical basis of the unity of ideas of the chauvinists and the pacifists, of the bourgeois and the Socialist reformists. Now we see this unity achieved in practice, in another imperialist country.

At the conference at Zimmerwald, September 5th to 9th, 1915, Merrheim declared: «The Party, the Jouhaux and the government are three heads under one bonnet, that is, they are all one.» At the conference of the General Confederation of Labour of December 26th, 1916, Merrheim voted together with Jouhaux, for a pacifist resolution. On December 23rd, 1916, one of the frankest and most extreme organs of the German social-imperialists, the Chemnitz People‘s Voice, published a leading article entitled «The Disintegration of the Bourgeois Parties and the Restoration of Social-Democratic Unity». In this article, of course, the praises are sung of the peace-loving Südekum, Legien, Scheidemann and Co., of the whole of the majority of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany and also of the German government, and it is proclaimed that: «the first Party congress that is convened after the war must restore Party unity, with the exception of the few fanatics who refuse to pay Party dues» (that is, the adherents of Karl Liebknecht!); «[…] Party unity on the basis of the policy of the Executive of the Party, of the Social-Democratic Reichstag group and of the trade unions».

This is a very clear expression of the idea and the proclamation of the policy of «unity» between the obvious social-chauvinists of Germany and Kautsky and Co., the «Social-Democratic Labour Group» — unity on the basis of pacifist phrases — «unity» as achieved in France on December 26th, 1916, between Jouhaux and Merrheim!

The central organ of the Socialist Party of Italy, Forward, in a leading article in its issue of December 28th, 1916, writes:

«Although Bissolati and Südekum, Bonhommi and Scheidemann, Sembat and David, Jouhaux and Legien have deserted to the camp of bourgeois nationalism and have betrayed the ideological unity of the internationalists, which they promised to serve faithfully and loyally, we shall stay together with our German comrades like Liebknecht, Ledebour, Hoffmann, Meyer, and with our French comrades like Merrheim, Blanc, Brizon, Raffin-Dugens, who have not changed and have not vacillated.»

Note the confusion that is expressed here:

Bissolati and Bonhommi were expelled from the Socialist Party of Italy as reformists and chauvinists before the out break of the war. Avanti puts them on the same level as Südekum and Legien, and quite rightly, of course; but Südekum, David and Legien are at the head of the alleged Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which, in fact, is a social-chauvinist party, and yet this very Forward is opposed to their expulsion, opposed to a rupture with them, and opposed to the formation of a 3rd International. Forward quite correctly describes Legien and Jouhaux as deserters to the camp of bourgeois nationalism and contrasts their conduct with that of Liebknecht, Ledebour, Merrheim and Brizon. But we have seen that Merrheim votes on the same side as Jouhaux, while Legien, in the Chemnitz People‘s Voice, declares that he is confident that Party unity will be restored, with the single exception, however, of the adherents of Liebknecht, that is, «unity» with the Social-Democratic Labour Group (including Kautsky) to which Ledebour belongs!!

This confusion arises from the fact that Forward confuses bourgeois pacifism with revolutionary social-democratic internationalism, while experienced politicians like Legien and Jouhaux perfectly well understand the identity of socialist and bourgeois pacifism.

Why, indeed, should not M. Jouhaux and his organ, the chauvinist The Battle,iii rejoice at the «unanimity» between Jouhaux and Merrheim when, in fact, the unanimously adopted resolution, which we have quoted in full above, contains nothing but bourgeois pacifist phrases; not a shadow of revolutionary consciousness, not a single socialist idea!

Is it not ridiculous to talk about «the economic liberty of all nations great and small» and yet not say a word about the fact that, until the bourgeois governments are over thrown and the bourgeoisie expropriated, the phrase «the economic liberty» of nations is just as much a deception of the people as the phrase «the economic liberty» of the individual in general, of the small peasants and the rich peasants, of the workers and the capitalists, in modern society?

The resolution which Jouhaux and Merrheim voted for unanimously is thoroughly imbued with the very ideas of «bourgeois nationalism» which Jouhaux expresses, as Forward quite rightly points out, while, strangely enough, failing to observe that Merrheim expresses the same ideas.

Bourgeois nationalists always and everywhere flaunt «general» phrases about a «federation of nations» in general and about «economic liberty of all nations great and small». But socialists, unlike the bourgeois nationalists, have always said and now say: rhetoric about «economic liberty of all nations great and small» is disgusting hypocrisy as long as certain nations (for example, England and France) invest abroad, that is to say, lend at usurious interest to small and backward nations scores and scores of billions of francs, and as long as the small and weak nations are in bondage to them.

Socialists could not have allowed a single sentence of the resolution, for which Jouhaux and Merrheim voted unanimously, to pass without strong protest. In direct contrast to that resolution, socialists would have declared that Wilson‘s pronouncement is a down-right lie and sheer hypocrisy, because Wilson is the representative of a bourgeoisie which has piled up billions out of the war, because he is the head of a government that has frantically armed the United States obviously in preparation for a second great imperialist war; that the French bourgeois government is tied hand and foot by finance capital, whose slave it is, and by the secret, imperialist, thoroughly predatory and reactionary treaties with England, Russia, and so on, and therefore cannot do or say anything except utter the same lies about a democratic and a «just» peace; that the struggle for such a peace cannot be waged by repeating general, vapid, benign, sentimental, meaningless and non-committal pacifist phrases, which merely serve to embellish the foulness of imperialism; it can be waged only by telling the people the truth, by telling the people that, in order to obtain a democratic and just peace, the bourgeois governments of all the belligerent countries must be overthrown, and that for this purpose advantage must be taken of the fact that millions of the workers are armed and that the high cost of living and the horrors of the imperialist war have roused the anger of the masses of the population.

This is what socialists should have said instead of voting for the Jouhaux-Merrheim resolution.

The Congress of the Socialist Party of France, which took place in Paris simultaneously with that of the General Confederation of Labour, not only refrained from saying this, but passed a resolution that is even worse than the one mentioned above. This resolution was passed by 2,838 votes against 109, while 20 abstained, that is to say, by a bloc between the social-chauvinists (Renaudel and Co., the so-called «majoritaires») and the Longuet-ists (the adherents of Longuet, the French Kautskyists)!! Moreover, the Zimmerwaldian Bourderon and the Kienthalian Raffin-Dugens voted for this resolution!!

We shall not quote the full text of this resolution because it is inordinately long and totally uninteresting: it contains benign, sentimental phrases about peace, immediately followed by declarations of readiness to continue to support the so-called «national defence» of France, that is, to support the imperialist war which France is conducting in alliance with bigger and more powerful pirates like England and Russia.

Unity between the social-chauvinists and the pacifists (or Kautskyists) and a section of the Zimmerwaldists in France has become a fact, not only in the General Confederation of Labour, but also in the Socialist Party.

4. ZIMMERWALD AT THE CROSS-ROADS

The French newspapers containing the report of the Congress of the General Confederation of Labour were received in Berne on December 28th, and on December 30th the socialist newspapers of Berne and Zürich published another manifesto issued by the Berne International Socialist Commission, the executive body of Zimmerwald. This manifesto, dated the end of December 1916, refers to the peace proposals made by Germany and by Wilson and the other neutral countries, and all these governmental pronouncements are described, and quite rightly described, of course, as a «farcical game of peace», «a game to deceive their own peoples», «hypocritical pacifist gesticulations of diplomats».

As against this farce and falsehood the manifesto declares that the «only force» capable of bringing about peace, and so on, is the «firm determination» of the international proletarians to «turn their weapons, not against their siblings, but against the enemy in their own country».

The passages we have quoted clearly reveal the two fundamentally distinct policies which have lived side by side, as it were, up to now in the Zimmerwald group, but which have now finally parted company.

On the one hand Turati quite definitely and correctly states that the proposals made by Germany, Wilson, and so on, were a «paraphrase» of Italian «socialist» pacifism; the declarations of the German social-chauvinists and the voting of the French have shown that both fully appreciate the value of the pacifist screen for their policy.

On the other hand, the manifesto of the International Socialist Commission describes the pacifism of all belligerent and neutral governments as a farce and hypocrisy.

On the one hand, Jouhaux joins with Merrheim; Bourderon, Longuet and Raffin-Dugens join with Renaudel, Sembat and Thomas, while the German social-chauvinists, Südekum, David and Scheidemann, announce the forthcoming «restoration of Social-Democratic unity» with Kautsky and the «Social-Democratic Labour Group».

On the other hand the manifesto of the International Socialist Commission calls upon the «socialist minorities» to fight strenuously against «their own governments» and «against their social-patriotic hirelings».

Either one thing or the other.

Either expose the vapidity, stupidity and hypocrisy of bourgeois pacifism, or «paraphrase» it into «socialist» pacifism. Fight against the Jouhaux, the Renaudels, the Legiens and the Davids as the «hirelings» of the governments, or join with them in making empty pacifist declamations on the French or German models.

This is now the dividing line between the Right wing of Zimmerwald, which has always strenuously opposed a split from the social-chauvinists, and the Left wing, which had the foresight at the Zimmerwald Conference publicly to dissociate itself from the Right and to put forward, at the conference and after it in the press, its own platform. The approach of peace, or at least the intense discussion of the question of peace by certain bourgeois elements, not accidentally, but inevitably gave rise to a particularly marked divergence between the two policies. Bourgeois pacifists and their «socialist» imitators, or followers, have always pictured, and now picture, peace as being something in principle distinct from war, for the pacifists of both shades have never understood that «war is the continuation of the politics of peace and peace is the continuation of the politics of war». Neither the bourgeoisie nor the social-chauvinists wanted, nor do they wish to see that the imperialist war of 1914-17 is the continuation of the imperialist politics of 1898-1914, if not of an earlier period. Neither the bourgeois pacifists nor the socialist pacifists see that if the bourgeois governments are not overthrown by revolution peace now can only be an imperialist peace, a continuation of the imperialist war.

In the same way as they approached the question of appraising the present war with silly, vulgar, philistine phrases about aggression or defence in general, so they are approaching the question of appraising the peace with the same philistine commonplaces, forgetting all about the concrete historical situation, the actual concrete struggle between the imperialist powers. And it was quite natural for the social chauvinists, these agents of the governments and of the bourgeoisie in the workers‘ parties, to seize upon the approach of peace, or even upon mere peace talk, in order to gloss over the depths of their reformism and opportunism which the war has exposed and in order to restore their damaged influence over the masses. Hence, the social-chauvinists in Germany and in France, as we have seen, are making strenuous efforts to «unite» with the soft, unprincipled pacifist section of the «opposition».

No doubt, efforts will be made also in Zimmerwald to gloss over the divergence between the two irreconcilable lines of policy. One can foresee these efforts being made along two lines. A «practical business» conciliation will take the form of mechanically combining loud revolutionary phrases (like those in the manifesto of the International Socialist Commission) with opportunist and pacifist practice. This is what happened in the 2nd International. The arch-revolutionary phrases in the manifestoes of Huysmans and Vandervelde and in certain congress resolutions merely served as a screen for the arch-opportunist practice of the majority of the European Parties, but they did not change, disrupt or combat this practice. It is doubtful whether these tactics will again be successful in Zimmerwald.

The «conciliators in principle» will strive to falsify marxism by advancing such arguments: reform does not exclude revolution; an imperialist peace with certain «improvements» in the frontiers of certain nationalities, or in international law, or in expenditure on armaments, and so on, is possible side by side with the revolutionary movement as «one of the aspects of the development» of this movement, and so on and so forth.

This would be a falsification of marxism. Of course, reforms do not exclude revolution. But this is not the point at issue at the present moment. The point is that revolutionaries must not efface themselves before the reformists, that is, that socialists should not substitute reformist work for their revolutionary work. Europe is experiencing a revolutionary situation. The war and the high cost of living are making this situation more acute. The transition from war to peace will not necessarily alter this situation, for there are no grounds whatever for believing that the millions of workers who now have excellent weapons in their hands will necessarily permit themselves to be «peacefully disarmed» by the bourgeoisie instead of following the advice of Karl Liebknecht, that is, turning their weapons against their own bourgeoisie.

The question is not as it is put by the pacifist Kautskyists: either a reformist political campaign or else the renunciation of reforms. This is a bourgeois presentation of the question. The question is: either revolutionary struggle, the by-product of which, in the event of its not being quite successful, is reforms (the whole history of revolutions throughout the world has proved this), or nothing but talk about reforms and the promise of reforms.

The reformism of Kautsky, Turati and Bourderon, which now comes out in the form of pacifism, not only leaves aside the question of revolution (this in itself is a betrayal of socialism), not only abandons in practice all systematic and persistent revolutionary work, but even goes to the length of declaring that organizing street demonstrations is the work of adventurers (Kautsky in The New Age, November 26th, 1915). It goes to the length of advocating unity and uniting with the outspoken and determined opponents of revolutionary struggle, the Südekums, Legiens, Renaudels, Thomases, and so on, and so forth.

This reformism is absolutely irreconcilable with revolutionary marxism, the duty of which is to take the utmost possible advantage of the present revolutionary situation in Europe in order openly to preach revolution, the overthrow of the bourgeois governments, the conquest of power by the armed proletariat, while at the same time not renouncing and not refusing to utilize reforms for the purpose of developing the revolutionary struggle and in the course of that struggle.

The immediate future will reveal how the progress of events in Europe in general, and the struggle between reformist pacifism and revolutionary marxism, in particular, including the struggle between the two sections of Zimmerwald, will develop reformist pacifism and revolutionary marxism, in particular, including the struggle between the two factions of Zimmerwald, will develop.

Zürich, 01.01.1917
V. I. LENIN


i The French Confédération générale du Travail (General Confederation of Labour) was founded in 1895. Its nucleus of directorship sided with the imperialists in the imperialist world war (1914-18) and advocated class collaboration and «defence of the homeland».

ii The Socialist Party of France was founded in 1902. On the initiative of the Socialist Party of France and the French Socialist Party, a unified Socialist Party was organized in 1905, which included members of the various Socialist Parties and groups (Guesdists, Blanquists, Jaurèsists and others). The directorship of the Party passed into the hands of the social-reformists headed by Jaurèsists. During the imperialist world war (1914-18), the Party adopted a social-chauvinist position; its parliamentary group voted for war credits and its representatives participated in the bourgeois government. A split occurred at the Tyre Congress of the Party held on December 25th to 30th, 1920. The majority organized the Communist Party of France, while the minority Right-opportunists, headed by Léon Blum, withdrew from the congress and became an independent party which went under the old name of the Socialist Party of France. After the 2nd World War, the directorship of the Socialist Party of France, headed by Léon Blum, collaborated with the French reactionaries and became an agent of the U.S. imperialists.

iii La Bataille (The Battle) — organ of the French anarcho-syndicalists, founded in Paris in November 1915. It adopted a social-chauvinist position in the imperialist world war (1914-18).