The Tasks of Our Party in the International

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V. I. Lenin


Written in October 1917
First published in 1928
in Lenin Miscellany VII

Published according
to the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964

Vol. 26, pp. 220-22.

Translated from the Russian
by Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna
Edited by George Hanna

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (May 2000)

page 220





    Rabochy Put No. 22 of September 28 published the manifesto of the Third Zimmerwald Conference. If we are not mistaken, the only other newspaper that published this manifesto was the Menshevik, internationalist Iskra [88] No. 1 of September 26, which added a very brief note referring to the composition of the Third Zimmerwald Conference and the date on which it was held (August 20 to 27, N. S. ). No other newspaper published either the manifesto or any detailed information about the Conference. <"p220b">

    We are now in possession of certain materials on this Conference consisting of an article published in Politiken, the organ of the Swedish Left Social-Democrats (a translation of which appeared in Työmies, the organ of the Social-Democratic Party of Finland)[89] and two written communications, one from a Polish and one from a Russian comrade who took part in the Conference. On the basis of this information we will first of all say something about the Conference in general and then make our appraisal of it and of the tasks of our Party.


    The representatives of the following parties and groups were present at the Conference: (1) the German "Independent" Social-Democratic Party (the Kautskyites); (2) the Swiss party; (3) the Swedish Left party (which, you will remember, has broken off all connection with the opportunist Branting party); (4) the Norwegians and (5) the Danes (there is nothing

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in our material to indicate whetber this refers to the official, opportunist, Danish party headed by the Minister Stauning); (6) the Social-Democratic Party of Finland; (7) the Rumanians; (8) the R.S.D.L.P. Bolsheviks; (9) the R.S.D.L.P. Mensheviks (Panin sent a written statement to the effect that he would not take part in this Conference on the grounds that it was not a representative conference; Axelrod, however, attended some of the meetings, but did not sign the manifesto ); (10) the Menshevik internationalists; (11) the American group of Christian Socialist Internationalists (?), (12) the American Social-Democratic Propaganda Group (evidently this is the group I mentioned in my pamphlet,<"p221"> The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution. Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party, page 24,[*] for this group began to publish the newspaper, The Internationalist [90] in January 1917); (13) the Polish Social-Democrats united under the National Executive;<"p221a"> (14) the Austrian Opposition (the Karl Marx Club, which was closed down by the Austrian Government after the execution of Stürgkh by Friedrich Adler[91]; this Club is also referred to in the above-mentioned pamphlet, page 25[**]); (15) the Bulgarian Independent Trade Unions (which, as the writer of the letter I have in my possession adds, belong not to the Tesnyaki, i.e., not to the Left, internationalist Bulgarian party, but to the Shiroki group, i.e., to the opportunist Bulgarian party); this delegate arrived after the Conference had closed, as also did the delegates of (16) the Serbian party.

    Of these sixteen parties and groups, Nos. 3, 8, 12, 13, and 14 belong to the "third" trend referred to in the resolution of our Conference of April 24-29, 1917 (and in my pamphlet, page 23,[***] in which this trend is called "true internationalist"); closer to this Left trend, or between it and the Kautskian Centre, stand groups 4 and 16, although it is difficult to define their position precisely -- perhaps they also belong to the Centre. Then, group 1, and probably 2, 6 and 7, group 10 and probably 15, belong to the Kautskian Centre. Groups 5 (if this is Stauning's party) and 9 are ministerialists, <"fnp221">

    * See present edition, Vol. 24, p. 79. --Ed.
    ** Ibid. --Ed.
    *** Ibid., pp. 77-80. --Ed.

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defencists and social-chauvinists. Finally, group 11 obviously got to the Conference by accidont.

    From this it is soon that the composition of the Conference was very mixedčeven absurd, for the people who got together were not in agreement on the main thing, and therefore were incapable of really unanimous action, of really acting together; they wwre people who were bound to disagree on the fundamental trend of their policy. Naturally, the fruit of the "collaboration" of such people is either wrangling or gossip, or elastic, compromise resolutions written for the purpose of concealing the truth. Examples and proof of this we shall see in a moment . . .*

    * Here the manuscript breaks off. --Ed.

page 547



  <"en87">[87] The Third Zimmerwald Conference took place at Stockholm from September 5 to 12, 1917. The composition of the Conference was

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very mixed, as Lenin said in the present article. He wrote: "They were people who were bound to disagree on the fundamental trend of their policy". The Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) was represented by V. V. Vorovsky and N. A. Semashko.
    The Conference examined the Grimm Affair. Grimm had been exposed in Russia as an emissary of the Swiss Minister Hoffmann who was putting out feelers for a separste peace treaty in the interests of German imperialism. By that time Grimm had been relieved of his post of Chairman of the International Socialist Committee; the Conference approved his expulsion from the I.S.C., declaring that his behaviour had been inadmissible, a measure Lenin considered inadequate.
    During the discussion of the attitude the Socialists of the Second International took to the Stockholm Peace Conference, some delegates came out in favour of participation, while the Russian Mensheviks were given an imperative mandate to remain at the Zimmerwald Conference only on condition that it would participate in the Stockholm Conference in toto.
    On behalf of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) Central Committee and its Bureau Abroad and Polish Social-Democrats, the Mensheviks and their followers were sharply criticised by Vorovsky who demanded a resolution on the state of affairs in Russia. However, the Centrist majority of the Conference refused to adopt such a resolution on the plea that they were not sufficiently well informed about Russian affairs.
    The conference manifesto called on workers of all countries to stage a general strike against war, but it did not reflect any of the revolutionary Social-Democratic slogans on turning the imperialist war into a civil war and fighting for a defeat of the home government in each belligerent country. The Third Zimmerwald Conference bore out Lenin's conclusion that the Zimmerwald Association had gone bankrupt and that there was need to break with it immediately and set up a Third, Communist, International. The Third Zimmerwald Conference was the last one held by the Association.
    Lenin cites the date of the Conference as erroneously given by the Menshevik newspaper Iskra.    [p. 220]

  <"en88">[88] Iskra (The Spark ) -- the newspaper of the Menshevik internationalists; published in Petrograd from September 26 (October 9) to December 4 (17), 1917.
    Menshevik internationalists -- a small group within the Menshevik Party which took an inconsistently internationalist attitude during the First World War. Prominent among them were L. Martov, Y. Larin and A. Martynov. From April to June 1917 they published the monthly, International.
    They took a Centrist attitude and criticised the social chauvinists but were afraid to break with them and opposed the basic principles of Lenin's tactics adopted by the Bolshevik Party on war, peace and revolution.

page 551

    After the Great October Socialist Revolution, some of them sided with avowed enemies of Soviet power and left the country. Others accepted Soviet power and worked in Soviet institutions. Some of them joined the Bolshevik Party.    [p. 220]

  <"en89">[89] Politiken (Politics ) -- a newspaper of the Swedish Left Social-Democrats, who formed the Left Social-Democratic Party of Sweden in 1917; it was published in Stockholm from April 27, 1910. From November 1917 it came out under the name of Folkets Dagblad Politiken (People's Political Daily ). Among its contributors were Zimmerwald Left Socialists from Germany, Russia, France and other countries. Then the Left Social-Democratic Party joined the Communist International in 1921, it became the Communist Party, and the newspaper became its organ. When the party split in October 1929, the paper passed into the hands of the Right wing. It suspended publication in May 1945.
    Työmies (The Worker ) -- a newspaper of the Social-Democratic Party of Finland, published in Helsingfors from March 1895 to 1918.    [p. 220]

  <"en90">[90] The Internationalist -- a weekly, the oraan of the Left-wing Socialists, published in Boston, U.S.A., from early 1917 by the Socialist Propaganda League. On its editorial board were U.S. and other internationalists, among them Williams, Gibbs, Zartarian, Rosin, Rutgers, and Edwards.    [p. 221]

  <"en91">[91] Stürgkh, Karl (1859-1916) -- reactionary Austrian statesman; from 1911 to 1916, head of the Austro-Hungarian Government which took active part in preparing and starting the First World War. It dissolved the Austrian and later the Hungarian Parliament and set up a military-absolutist dictatorship which crushed the mounting anti-war and revolutionary movement. In October 1916, Stürgkh was killed by the Austrian Social-Democrat Friedrich Adler.    [p. 221]