Leder, and others) have had the backing of Plekhanov alone. These attempts have been condemned by the majority of our Paris Party group. The leading article in this issue* will inform readers of our Party Central Committee's stand. To preclude any misunderstanding, the following facts relating to the history of our Party's views and their formulation must be stated here. After overcoming tremendous difficulties in re-establishing organisational contacts broken by the war, a group of Party members first drew up "theses" and on September 6-8 (New Style) had them circulated among the comrades. Then they were sent to two delegates to the Italo-Swiss Conference in Lugano (September 27), through Swiss Social-Democrats. It was only in
* See pp. 25-34 of this volume. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The War and Russian Social-Democracy". -- DJR]
mid-October that it became possible to re-establish contacts and formulate the viewpoint of the Party's Central Committee. The leading article in this issue represents the final wording of the "theses".
Such, briefly, is the present state of affairs in the European and the Russian Social-Democratic movement. The collapse of the International is a fact. It has been proved conclusively by the polemic, in the press, between the French and German socialists, and acknowledged, not only by the Left Social-Democrats (Mehring and Bremer Bürger Zeitung ), but by moderate Swiss papers (Volksrecht ). Kautsky's attempts to cover up this collapse are a cowardly subterfuge. The collapse of the International is clearly the collapse of opportunism, which is now captive to the bourgeoisie.
The bourgeoisie's stand is clear. It is no less clear that the opportunists are simply echoing bourgeois arguments. In addition to what has been said in the leading article, we need only mention the insulting statements in Die Neue Zeit, suggesting that internationalism consists in the workers of one country shooting down the workers of another country, allegedly in defence of the fatherland!
The question of the fatherland -- we shall reply to the opportunists -- cannot be posed without due consideration of the concrete historical nature of the present war. This is an imperialist war, i.e., it is being waged at a time of the highest development of capitalism, a time of its approaching end. The working class must first "constitute itself within the nation", the Communist Manifesto declares, emphasising the limits and conditions of our recognition of nationality and fatherland as essential forms of the bourgeois system, and, consequently, of the bourgeois fatherland. The opportunists distort that truth by extending to the period of the end of capitalism that which was true of the period of its rise. With reference to the former period and to the tasks of the proletariat in its struggle to destroy, not feudalism but capitalism, the Communist Manifesto gives a clear and precise formula: "The workingmen have no country." One can well understand why the opportunists are so afraid to accept this socialist proposition, afraid even, in most cases, openly to reckon with it. The socialist movement cannot triumph within the old framework of the fatherland. It creates new
and superior forms of human society, in which the legitimate needs and progressive aspirations of the working masses of each nationality will, for the first time, be met through international unity, provided existing national partitions are removed. To the present-day bourgeoisie's attempts to divide and disunite them by means of hypocritical appeals for the "defence of the fatherland" the class-conscious workers will reply with ever new and persevering efforts to unite the workers of various nations in the struggle to overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie of all nations.
The bourgeoisie is duping the masses by disguising imperialist rapine with the old ideology of a "national war". This deceit is being shown up by the proletariat, which has brought forward its slogan of turning the imperialist war into a civil war. This was the slogan of the Stuttgart and Basle resolutions, which had in mind, not war in general, but precisely the present war and spoke, not of "defence of the fatherland", but of "hastening the downfall of capitalism", of utilising the war-created crisis for this purpose, and of the example provided by the Paris Commune. The latter was an instance of a war of nations being turned into a civil war.
Of course, such a conversion is no easy matter and cannot be accomplished at the whim of one party or another. That conversion, however, is inherent in the objective conditions of capitalism in general, and of the period of the end of capitalism in particular. It is in that direction, and that direction alone, that socialists must conduct their activities. It is not their business to vote for war credits or to encourage chauvinism in their "own" country (and allied countries), but primarily to strive against the chauvinism of their "own" bourgeoisie, without confining themselves to legal forms of struggle when the crisis has matured and the bourgeoisie has itself taken away the legality it has created. Such is the line of action that leads to civil war, and will bring about civil war at one moment or another of the European conflagration.
War is no chance happening, no "sin" as is thought by Christian priests (who are no whit behind the opportunists in preaching patriotism, humanity and peace), but an inevitable stage of capitalism, just as legitimate a form of the
capitalist way of life as peace is. Present-day war is a people's war. What follows from this truth is not that we must swim with the "popular" current of chauvinism, but that the class contradictions dividing the nations continue to exist in wartime and manifest themselves in conditions of war. Refusal to serve with the forces, anti-war strikes, etc., are sheer nonsense, the miserable and cowardly dream of an unarmed struggle against the armed bourgeoisie, vain yearning for the destruction of capitalism without a desperate civil war or a series of wars. It is the duty of every socialist to conduct propaganda of the class struggle, in the army as well; work directed towards turning a war of the nations into civil war is the only socialist activity in the era of an imperialist armed conflict of the bourgeoisie of all nations. Down with mawkishly sanctimonious and fatuous appeals for "peace at any price"! Let us raise high the banner of civil war! Imperialism sets at hazard the fate of European culture: this war will soon be followed by others, unless there are a series of successful revolutions. The story about this being the "last war" is a hollow and dangerous fabrication, a piece of philistine "mythology" (as Golos aptly puts it). The proletarian banner of civil war will rally together, not only hundreds of thousands of class-conscious workers but millions of semi-proletarians and petty bourgeois, now deceived by chauvinism, but whom the horrors of war will not only intimidate and depress, but also enlighten, teach, arouse, organise, steel and prepare for the war against the bourgeoisie of their "own" country and "foreign" countries. And this will take place, if not today, then tomorrow, if not during the war, then after it, if not in this war then in the next one.
The Second International is dead, overcome by opportunism. Down with opportunism, and long live the Third International, purged not only of "turncoats" (as Golos wishes), but of opportunism as well.
The Second International did its share of useful preparatory work in preliminarily organising the proletarian masses during the long, "peaceful" period of the most brutal capitalist slavery and most rapid capitalist progress in the last third of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. To the Third International falls the task
of organising the proletarian forces for a revolutionary onslaught against the capitalist governments, for civil war against the bourgeoisie of all countries for the capture of political power, for the triumph of socialism!