* See present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 25-34. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The War and Russian Social-Democracy". -- DJR]
bourgeoisie frankly to admit that the revolution is on the march, and have forced Helfferich to declare in the Reichstag: "Better to keep the Left Social-Democrats in prison than to have Potsdam Square littered with corpses," i.e., to admit that the masses are responding to agitation by the Left.
In any case, the alternative which socialists must clearly place before the masses is this: either continue to kill each other for capitalist profits, put up with the high cost of living, hunger, the burden of a debt running into billions, and accept the farce of an imperialist truce veiled by democratic and reformist promises, or rise in revolt against the bourgeoisie.
A revolutionary party which openly, before the whole world, threatened the governments with "proletarian revolution" in the event of such a war as is now being waged, would be committing moral suicide if it did not urge the workers, and the masses generally, to direct all thought and effort towards revolt, now that the masses are so excellently armed, so excellently trained in the art of warfare, and fed up with the absurdity of this criminal imperialist shambles, which up to now they have been helping.
(e) Socialists must centre their activity on the struggle against reformism, which has always corrupted the revolutionary labour movement by injecting bourgeois ideas, and has now assumed a somewhat special form, namely: "reliance" on the reforms the bourgeoisie is supposed to carry out after the war! Reformists argue that in urging, popularising and preparing the socialist revolution of the proletariat, we are "losing sight" of the "practical" aspect, "forfeiting" our chances to win reforms.
That argument, customary both to social-chauvinists and supporters of Kautsky, who has even denounced street demonstrations as "adventuristic", is thoroughly unscientific, fundamentally false, a bourgeois lie.
In the course of the war world capitalism has taken a forward step not only towards concentration in general, but also towards transition from monopoly in general to state capitalism on a much broader scale than before. Economic reforms in this direction are inevitable.
In the political sphere, the imperialist war has demon-
strated that from the imperialists' standpoint it is sometimes much more advantageous to have as war ally a politically independent but financially dependent small nation rather than risk Irish or Czech "incidents" (i.e., uprisings or the defection of whole regiments) during a war. It is quite possible, therefore, that parallel with its policy of strangling small nations -- a policy it can never wholly abandon -- imperialism will in individual cases follow a policy of "voluntary" alliance (i.e., resulting exclusively from financial strangulation) with new small national states, or with mongrel states, such as Poland.
However, it does not follow from this that Social-Democrats can, without betraying their cause, "vote" for or support such imperialist "reforms".
Only bourgeois reformism, which in substance is the position of Kautsky, Turati and Merrheim, poses the question thus: either renunciation of revolution and that means reforms, or no reforms at all.
Yet all the experience of world history, like the experience of the 1905 Russian Revolution, teaches us the very opposite: either revolutionary class struggle, of which reforms are always a by-product (when the revolution is not completely successful), or no reforms at all.
For the only effective force that compels change is popular revolutionary energy, providing it does not remain on paper, as has been the case in the Second International, but finds expression in comprehensive mass revolutionary propaganda, agitation and organisation conducted by parties marching at the head of the revolution, not limping along in its tail.
Only by openly proclaiming revolution, by purging the workers' parties of all who oppose revolution or "sceptically" accept it -- only by giving every aspect of party activity a revolutionary content, can Social-Democracy, in such "critical " eras of world history as the present one, guarantee the masses either complete success of their cause if the revolution is supported by very broad masses, or reforms, i.e., concessions by the bourgeoisie, if the revolution is only partially successful.
Otherwise, if the Scheidemann and Kautsky policy prevails, there is no guarantee that the reforms will not be
reduced to naught, or carried out with police and reactionary restrictions that will rule out the very possibility of the proletariat using them in a repeated fight for the revolution.
(f) Socialists must make a serious effort to bring to reality Karl Liebknecht's slogan. The popularity that name enjoys among the masses is a guarantee that revolutionary activity is both possible and likely to succeed. The attitude of Scheidemann and Co., Kautsky and Co. towards that name is an example of hypocrisy: in words they swear by the "Liebknechts of all countries"; in deeds they combat Liebknecht's tactics.
Liebknecht broke not only with the Scheidemanns (Renaudels, Plekhanovs, Bissolatis), but also with the Kautsky trend (Longuet, Axelrod, Turati).
Liebknecht declared, as early as October 2, 1914, in his letter to the Party Executive:
"Ich habe erklärt, dass die deutsche Partei, nach meiner innersten Überzeugung, von der Haut bis zum Mark regeneriert werden muss, wenn sie das Recht nicht verwirken will, sich sozialdemokratisch zu nennen, wenn sie sich die jetzt gründlich verscherzte Achtung der Welt wiedererwerben will." (Klassenkampf Begen den Krieg! Material zum "Fall Liebknecht". Seite 22.) (Geheim gedruckt in Deutschland: "Als Manuskript gedruckt".)*
All parties should take up Liebknecht's slogan and it would certainly be ridiculous to even think of being able to turn it into effect without ridding the party of the Scheidemanns, Legiens, Renaudels, Sembats, Plekhanovs, Vanderveldes and Co., or without denouncing the policy of concessions to the trend represented by Kautsky, Turati, Longuet and Merrheim.
10. We therefore suggest a conference of Zimmerwald supporters to discuss the following proposals:
* I have declared my deep conviction that, if it does not want to forfeit the right to call itself a Social-Democratic party, if it wants to restore its prestige in the eyes of the world, now so thoroughly undermined, the German party must be regenerated from top to bottom. (Class Struggle After the War! Materials in the "Liebknecht Case", p. 22.) (Printed secretly in Germany: Published as a manuscript.) --Ed.
(1) Socialist pacifism of a definite trend -- Longuet-Merrheim, Kautsky, Turati, etc., -- already rejected in principle at Kienthal, and its concrete defence by these representatives of the afore-mentioned trends should be decisively and unconditionally rejected as bourgeois reformism (on the basis of the theses formulated above).
(2) A similarly decisive organisational break with social-chauvinism .
(3) Explain to the working class its immediate and urgent revolutionary tasks, precisely in connection with the fact that the masses have lost patience with the war and the lying milk-and-water pacifist phrases of the bourgeoisie.
(4) Openly brand as a complete break with the spirit and decisions of Zimmerwald and Kienthal, and condemn as such, the policy of the Italian Socialist Party, which is following a patently pacifist path, and the policy of the Swiss Social-Democratic Party, which on November 4, 1916 in Zurich voted to permit indirect taxes, and on January 7, 1917, through an alliance between the "Centrist" R. Grimm and the social-patriots Greulich, G. Müller and Co., secured indefinite postponement of the special party congress called for February 11, 1917 to discuss the war issue, and which now meekly accepts the outright ultimatum of these same social-patriot leaders, who openly threaten to resign from parliament if the party rejects fatherland defence.
The sad experience of the Second International has clearly demonstrated the immense damage caused by combining, in actual practice, "general" revolutionary decisions, formulated in general phrases, with reformist actions -- when professions of internationalism are attended by refusal jointly to discuss, in a truly internationalist manner, fundamental problems of the tactics of each individual party as a component part of the international union.
Prior to the Zimmerwald Conference and at the Conference itself, our Party considered it its duty to acquaint the comrades with our irrevocable condemnation of pacifism and abstract preachment of peace as a bourgeois deception (a German translation of our Party's resolution, in the pamphlet Socialism and War,* and a French translation, in a separate
* See present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 158-64. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: This is evidently a misprint. These pages are for Lenin's "The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups Abroad". The correct citation for Socialism and War is Vol. 21, pp. 295-338. -- DJR]
leaflet, were circulated at the Conference). The Zimmerwald Left, in whose organisation we shared, was formed as a separate group at the Conference for the express purpose of showing that we support the Zimmerwald group insofar as it combats social-chauvinism.
It has now been definitely established -- of this we are profoundly convinced -- that the Zimmerwald majority, or the Zimmerwald Right, has made a roundabout turn not towards struggle against social-chauvinism, but towards complete surrender to it, towards merger with it on a platform of empty pacifist phrases. And we consider it our duty openly to state that to support, in these circumstances, the illusion of Zimmerwald unity and Zimmerwald struggle for the Third International would cause the greatest damage to the labour movement. We declare, not as a "threat" or "ultimatum", but as an open notification of our decision, that unless the situation changes we shall not remain a member of the Zimmerwald group.