The P.R. and the Renegade Kautsky

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    Kautsky's pamphlet, The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, recently published in Vienna (Wien, I918, Ignaz Brand, 63 pp.) is a most lucid example of that utter and ignominious bankruptcy of the Second International about which all honest Socialists in all countries have been talking for a long time. The proletarian revolution is now becoming a practical issue in a number of countries, and an examination of Kautsky's renegade sophistries and complete renunciation of Marxism is therefore essential.

   <"p1"> First of all, however, it should be emphasized that the present writer has had numerous occasions, from the very beginning of the war, to point to Kautsky's rupture with Marxism. A number of articles published in the course of 1914-16 in the Sotsial-Demokrat[1] and the Kommunist,[2] issued abroad, dealt with this subject. These articles were afterwards collected and published by the Petrograd Soviet under the title Against the Stream, by G. Zinoviev and N. Lenin (Petrograd, 1918, 550 pp.). In a pamphlet published in Geneva in 1915 and translated into German and French [3] in the same year I wrote about "Kautskyism" as follows:

    "Kautsky, the biggest authority in the Second International, gives us a highly typical and glaring example of how the verbal recognition of Marxism has led actually to its conversion into 'Struveism,' or into 'Brentanoism' (that is, into a liberal bourgeois doctrine, which recognizes a non-revolutionary 'class' struggle of the proletariat, and which was most shockingly expressed by the Russian writer Struve and the German economist Brentano). We see this also from the example of Plekhanov. By means of obvious sophistry they rob Marxism of its revolutionary living spirit; they recognize everything in Marxism except revolutionary methods of struggle, preaching and preparing them, training the masses precisely in this direction. Kautsky, in an unprincipled fashion, 'reconciles' the fundamental idea of social-chauvinism, recognition of defence of the fatherland in the present war, with a diplomatic, sham concession to the Lefts in the shape of abstaining from voting credits, the verbal claim of being in the opposition, etc. Kautsky, who in 1909 wrote a whole book on the approaching epoch of revolutions and on the connection between war and revolutions, Kautsky, who in 1912 signed the Basle Manifesto on taking revolutionary advantage of the impending war, is now, in every key, justifying and embellishing social-chauvinism and, like Plekhanov, joins the bourgeoisie in ridiculing all thought of revolution, all steps towards the directly revolutionary struggle.

    "The working class cannot play its world-revolutionary role unless it wages a ruthless struggle against this renegacy, spinelessness, subservience to opportunism and unexampled vulgarization of the theories of Marxism. Kautskyism is not a fortuity, but a social product of the contradictions <"p3">

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within the Second International, a combination of loyalty to Marxism in words and subordination to opportunism in deeds." (G. Zinoviev and N. Lenin, Socialism and War, Geneva, 1915, pp. 13-14.)

    Again, in my book Imperialism, as the Latest Stage of Capitalism,[4] which was written in 1916 and published in Petrograd in 1917, I examined in detail the theoretical fallacy of all Kautsky's arguments about imperialism. I quoted Kautsky's definition of imperialism: "Imperialism is a product of highly developed industrial capitalism. It consists in the striving of every industrial capitalist nation to bring under its control or to annex larger and larger areas of agrarian (Kautsky's italics) territory, irrespective of what nations inhabit those regions." I showed how utterly incorrect this definition was, and how it was "adapted" to the glossing over of the most profound contradictions of imperialism, and then to reconciliation with opportunism. <"p3a">I gave my own definition of imperialism: "Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital has established itself; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed."[5] I showed that Kautsky's critique of imperialism is at an even lower level than the bourgeois, philistine critique. Finally, in August and September 1917 -- that is, before the proletarian revolution in Russia (October 25 [November 7], 1917) I wrote a pamphlet (published in Petrograd at the beginning of 1918) entitled The State and Revolution, Marxist Teaching on the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the

Revotution. In Chapter VI of this book, entitled "The Vulgarization of Marxism by the Opportunists," I devoted special attention to Kautsky, showing that he had completely distorted Marx's teaching, trimming it up to suit opportunism and that he had "repudiated the revolution in deeds, while accepting it in words."

    In substance, the chief theoretical mistake Kautsky makes in his pamphlet on the dictatorship of the proletariat lies precisely in those opportunist distortions of Marx's teachings on the state which I have exposed in detail in my pamphlet, The State and Revolution.

    It was necessary to make these preliminary remarks for they show that I had openly accused Kautsky of being a renegade long before the Bolsheviks assumed state power and were condemned by him on that account.