C H A P T E R S I X
PARTY IN THE PERIOD OF THE IMPERIALIST WAR. THE SECOND
REVOLUTION IN RUSSIA (1914-MARCH 1917)
1. OUTBREAK AND CAUSES OF THE
2. PARTIES OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL SIDE WITH THEIR
IMPERIALIST GOVERNMENTS. DISINTEGRATION OF THE SECOND
INTERNATIONAL INTO SEPARATE SOCIAL-CHAUVINIST PARTIES
3. THEORY AND TACTICS OF THE BOLSHEVIK
PARTY ON THE QUESTION OF WAR, PEACE AND REVOLUTION
4. DEFEAT OF THE TSARIST ARMY. ECONOMIC
DISRUPTION. CRISIS OF TSARDOM
5.THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION. FALL OF
TSARDOM. FORMATION OF SOVIETS OF WORKERS' AND SOLDIERS'
DEPUTIES. FORMATION OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. DUAL
||OUTBREAK AND CAUSES OF THE IMPERIALIST
On July 14 (27, New Style), 1914, the tsarist government
proclaimed a general mobilization. On July 19 (August 1, New Style)
Germany declared war on Russia.
Russia entered the war.
Long before the actual outbreak of the war the Bolsheviks, headed
by Lenin, had foreseen that it was inevitable. At international
Socialist congresses Lenin had put forward proposals the purpose of
which was to determine a revolutionary line of conduct for the
Socialists in the event of war.
Lenin had pointed out that war is an inevitable concomitant of
capitalism. Plunder of foreign territory, seizure and spoliation of
colonies and the capture of new markets had many times already served as
causes of wars of conquest waged by capitalist states. For capitalist
countries war is just as natural and legitimate a condition of things as
the exploitation of the working class.
Wars became inevitable particularly when, at the end of the
nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century,
capitalism definitely entered the highest and last stage of its
development -- imperialism. Under imperialism the powerful capitalist
associations (monopolies) and the banks acquired a dominant position in
the life of the capitalist states. Finance capital became master in the
capitalist states. Finance capital demanded new markets, the seizure of
new colonies, new fields for the export of capital, new sources of raw
But by the end of the nineteenth century the whole territory of
the globe had already been divided up among the capitalist states. Yet
in the era of imperialism the development of capitalism proceeds
extremely unevenly and by leaps: some countries, which previously held a
foremost position, now develop their industry at a relatively slow rate,
while others, which were formerly backward, overtake and outstrip them
by rapid leaps. The relative economic and military strength of the
imperialist states was undergoing a change. There arose a striving for a
redivision of the world, and the struggle for this redivision made
imperialist war inevitable. The war of 1914 was a war for the redivision
of the world and of spheres of influence. All the imperialist states had
long been preparing for it. The imperialists of all countries were
responsible for the war.
But in particular, preparations for this war were made by Germany
and Austria, on the one hand, and by France and Great Britain, as well
as by Russia, which was dependent on the latter two, on the other. The
Triple Entente, an alliance of Great Britain, France and Russia, was
formed in 1907.
Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed another imperialist
alliance. But on the outbreak of the war of 1914 Italy left this
alliance and later joined the Entente. Germany and Austria-Hungary were
supported by Bulgaria and Turkey.
Germany prepared for the imperialist war with the design of
taking away colonies from Great Britain and France, and the Ukraine,
Poland and the Baltic Provinces from Russia. By building the Baghdad
railway, Germany created a menace to Britain's domination in the Near
East. Great Britain feared the growth of Germany's naval armaments.
Tsarist Russia strove for the partition of Turkey and dreamed of
seizing Constantinople and the straits leading from the Black Sea to the
Mediterranean (the Dardanelles). The plans of the tsarist government
also included the seizure of Galicia, a part of Austria-Hungary.
Great Britain strove by means of war to smash its dangerous
competitor -- Germany -- whose goods before the war were steadily
driving British goods out of the world markets. In addition, Great
Britain intended to seize Mesopotamia and Palestine from Turkey and to
secure a firm foothold in Egypt.
The French capitalists strove to take away from Germany the Saar
Basin and Alsace-Lorraine, two rich coal and iron regions, the latter of
which Germany had seized from France in the war of 1870-71.
Thus the imperialist war was brought about by profound
antagonisms between two groups of capitalist states.
This rapacious war for the redivision of the world affected the
interests of all the imperialist countries, with the result that Japan,
the United States and a number of other countries were subsequently
drawn into it.
The war became a world war.
The bourgeoisie kept the preparations for imperialist war a
profound secret from their people. When the war broke out each
imperialist government endeavoured to prove that it had not attacked its
neighbours, but had been attacked by them. The bourgeoisie deceived the
people, concealing the true aims of the war and its imperialist,
annexationist character. Each imperialist government declared that it
was waging war in defence of its country.
The opportunists of the Second International helped the
bourgeoisie to deceive the people. The Social-Democrats of the Second
International vilely betrayed the cause of Socialism, the cause of the
international solidarity of the proletariat. Far from opposing the war,
they assisted the bourgeoisie in inciting the workers and peasants of
the belligerent countries against each other on the plea of defending
That Russia entered the imperialist war on the side of the
Entente, on the side of France and Great Britain, was not accidental. It
should be borne in mind that before 1914 the most important branches of
Russian industry were in the hands of foreign capitalists, chiefly those
of France, Great Britain and Belgium, that is, the Entente countries.
The most important of Russia's metal works were in the hands of French
capitalists. In all, about three-quarters (72 per cent) of the metal
industry depended on foreign capital. The same was true of the coal
industry of the Donetz Basin. Oilfields owned by British and French
capital accounted for about half the oil output of the country. A
considerable part of the profits of Russian industry flowed into foreign
banks, chiefly British and French. All these circumstances, in addition
to the thousands of millions borrowed by the tsar from France and
Britain in loans, chained tsardom to British and French imperialism and
converted Russia into a tributary, a semi-colony of these countries.
The Russian bourgeoisie went to war with the purpose of improving
its position: to seize new markets, to make huge profits on war
contracts, and at the same time to crush the revolutionary movement by
taking advantage of the war situation.
Tsarist Russia was not ready for war. Russian industry lagged far
behind that of other capitalist countries. It consisted predominantly of
out-of-date mills and factories with worn-out machinery. Owing to the
existence of land ownership based on semi-serfdom, and the vast numbers
of impoverished and ruined peasants, her agriculture could not provide a
solid economic base for a prolonged war.
The chief mainstay of the tsar was the feudal landlords. The
Black-Hundred big landlords, in alliance with the big capitalists,
domineered the country and the State Duma. They wholly supported the
home and foreign policy of the tsarist government. The Russian
imperialist bourgeoisie placed its hopes in the tsarist autocracy as a
mailed fist that could ensure the seizure of new markets and new
territories, on the one hand, and crush the revolutionary movement of
the workers and peasants, on the other.
The party of the liberal bourgeoisie -- the
Constitutional-Democratic Party -- made a show of opposition, but
supported the foreign policy of the tsarist government unreservedly.
From the very outbreak of the war, the petty-bourgeois parties,
the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, using the flag of
Socialism as a screen, helped the bourgeoisie to deceive the people by
concealing the imperialist, predatory character of the war. They
preached the necessity of defending, of protecting the bourgeois
"fatherland" from the "Prussian barbarians"; they supported a policy of
"civil peace," and thus helped the government of the Russian tsar to
wage war, just as the German Social-Democrats helped the government of
the German kaiser to wage war on the "Russian barbarians."
Only the Bolshevik Party remained faithful to the great cause of
revolutionary internationalism and firmly adhered to the Marxist
position of a resolute struggle against the tsarist autocracy, against
the landlords and capitalists, against the imperialist war. From the
very outbreak of the war the Bolshevik Party maintained that it had been
started, not for the defence of the country, but for the seizure of
foreign territory, for the spoliation of foreign nations in the
interests of the landlords and capitalists, and that the workers must
wage a determined war on this war.
The working class supported the Bolshevik Party.
True, the bourgeois jingoism displayed in the early days of the
war by the intelligentsia and the kulak sections of the peasantry also
infected a certain section of the workers. But these were chiefly
members of the ruffian "League of the Russian People" and some workers
who were under the influence of the SociaIist-Revolutionaries and
Mensheviks. They naturally did not, and could not, reflect the
sentiments of the working class. It was these elements who took part in
the jingo demonstrations of the bourgeoisie engineered by the tsarist
government in the early days of the war.