Monday, July 28, 2014


This article expresses the personal views of Harsh Thakor

Today the ruling classes celebrate the 100th anniversary of the  inaugural day of the 1st world War.
We revolutionaries have to stand in condemnation of this declaration of war which represented the conspiracy of the ruling class leaders and governments of major world powers like Germany, Austria, England, France Etc.
They connived against the interests of their peoples welfare by whipping up nationalistic jingoism and the people of the world fell a prey to their war-mongering.
British workers racial prejudices were steamed up against people of colonial countries.Instead of identifying with the interest of the workers of the colonial countries like India greater racial enmity was whipped up.
One of the most amazing things was that even M.K.Gandhi supported the British efforts calling for India to support the British war efforts.
This depicts the political character of Gandhi and the Indian National Congress.


The lessons the 1st world war taught us is how Imperialism uses war to promote its interests and how leaders of countries use war to divert people of their basic interests.
Lenin learnt some most invaluable lessons during the 1st world war ,particularly on the political nature of the working class and how subservient they were to ruling class propaganda.
 In fact it was Lenin’s mastery of revolutionary dialectics that enabled him to win the Russian workers towards the Bolshevik party.

The 1st world war taught us the lessons of inter-colonial rivalry  in the 1st world war.
Lenin developed his colonial thesis on the many lessons he gained from the Ist world war  particularly on the inter-imperialist rivalry for world markets.
He analyzed how in actual fact they all conspired together to defeat the interest of the working class.Historically the Russian Revolution  won because of the  brilliant tactics of the Bolshevik party during the war ,making the Russian soldiers retreat.


Today we still have cut throat inter imperialist contention in the world and have to analyse how contradictions between the imperialist countries and contention for world markets  can be utilized towards the cause of revolution.


Today we must dip our blood in shame of the British government celebrating this heinous war and forgetting the toll of lives of innocent people.
They still do not apologize for their  colonial aggression  and responsibility for thousands of lives but glorify their victory.
In schools they still idolize the efforts of the army in the war in history books.
In fact the result of the war strengthened the estrangement of colonial powers on their colonies ,with the triple entente being victorious.
The formation of the  League of nations  by the big 3,  ‘Lloyd George’, ‘Clemenceau’, ‘Woodrow Wilson’ and ‘Clemenceau’ was a triumph  for colonialism.

Great  embitterment  was caused to Germany with the Treaty of Versailles which provoked revenge of Germany and the rise of Hitler and fascism.
Today leaders of third world countries do not condemn how the colonial powers used the people of the colonies like India or Africa to fight for them during the War.
Their refusal reflects the nature of the political system in their countries which is basically semi-colonial.

We must stand with all the forces in the world that oppose the centenary celebrations glorifying the colonial  war efforts  and strive to educate the youth and workers worldwide on how leaders connived against the world people in this war.
We must stand with forces like Democracy and Class Struggle and the CPGB in England and Wales that are exposing the  very autocratic  and class nature of their governments  that blesses imperialist globalization.
The centenary years from 2014-18 must be a period when revolutionary cadres master Lenin’s historical study of Imperialism when imperialist globalization is strengthening it’s tentacles.

Below I am compiling some of Lenin’s teaching s on War.

In fact on many occasion he countered Leon Trotsky like on Brest-Litovsk etc.
In fact some of Lenin’s best anti Trotskyite polemics occurred during the war like the Brest –Litovsk treaty which Trotsky opposed.
We must celebrate the 100 th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 2017 to counter the First World War centenary celebrations of countries like Britain.
It is particularly relevant with the fascist aggression of Israel with the connivance of Imperialist countries  today and the general neo-colonial offensive.


The slogans of social democracy at this time must be:


First, all-embracing propaganda extending to the army and to the theatre of war, propagating the socialist revolution, and the necessity of using weapons not against one’s own brothers, the hired slaves of other countries, but against the reactionary and bourgeois governments and parties of all nations;


The absolute necessity of organizing illegal cells and groups in the armies of all nations for carrying on this propaganda in all languages;


A ruthless struggle against the chauvinism and “patriotism” of the petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie of all countries without exception;


An appeal to the revolutionary consciousness of the toiling masses, who bear the full burden of the war and who in most cases are hostile to opportunism and chauvinism, against the leaders of the present International, who have betrayed socialism.


Second, propaganda calling for the immediate establishment of republics in Germany, Poland, Russia, and so forth, and for the organization of the separate European states into a republican United States of Europe.


Third, a struggle against the tsarist monarchy and Great Russian pan-Slav chauvinism; agitation for a revolution in Russia and for the liberation and self determination of all peoples oppressed by Russia, with emphasis on the immediate aims-a democratic republic, confiscation of estate lands, and an eight-hour working day.


(From “The Tasks of Revolutionary Social Democracy in the European War”, September 1914)


The German bourgeoisie heads one group of belligerent nations. It is deluding the working class and the labouring masses by asserting that it is waging war in defence of the fatherland, freedom, and civilization, for the liberation of the peoples oppressed by tsardom, for the destruction of reactionary tsardom…. In reality, whatever the outcome of the war may be, this bourgeoisie will, together with the Junkers, exert every effort to support the tsarist monarchy against a revolution in Russia.


The other group of belligerent nations is headed by the British and French bourgeoisie, which is deluding the working class and the laboring masses by asserting that it is waging war for the defense of their native lands, freedom, and civilization, against the militarism and despotism of Germany. But as a matter of fact, this bourgeoisie has long been using its billions to hire the armies of the Russian tsardom, the most reactionary and barbarous monarchy in Europe, and to prepare them for an attack on Germany.


In reality, the object of the struggle of the British and French bourgeoisie is to seize the German colonies and to ruin a competing nation which has displayed a more rapid rate of economic development. And, in pursuit of this noble aim, the “advanced” democratic nations are helping the savage tsarist regime to strangle Poland, the Ukraine, and so on, and to throttle revolution in Russia more thoroughly.


For us, the Russian social democrats, there can be no doubt that from the standpoint of the working class and of the labouring masses of all the nations of Russia, the lesser evil would be the defeat of the tsarist monarchy, the most reactionary and barbarous of governments, which is oppressing the greatest number of nations and the largest mass of the population of Europe and Asia.


The immediate political slogan of the social democrats of Europe must be the formation of a republican United States of Europe. But in contrast with the bourgeoisie, which is ready to “promise” anything in order to draw the proletariat into the general current of chauvinism, the social democrats will reveal that this slogan is utterly false and senseless without the revolutionary overthrow of the German, Austrian, and Russian monarchies. The war has placed the slogan of socialist revolution on the agenda of all the advanced countries… The only correct proletarian slogan is the transformation of the present imperialist war into a civil war


(From “The War and Russian Social Democracy”, November 1914)


In August 1914 Lenin argued that the First World War was an inter-imperialist conflict and the key task for Russian socialists was to continue the struggle against the Tsar — who in his view was “one hundred times” worse than Germany’s Kaiser.

Lenin’s proposition was that, “From the viewpoint of the working class and all the Russian people the ‘lesser evil’ would be the defeat of the Tsarist monarchy and its army.”


Below are some notes by a book from Ian Thatcher on Trotsky and Lenin during the 1st war.

When the great powers of Europe went to war in August 1914, Leon Trotsky was living in Vienna.

Fearing arrest, he fled to Switzerland for three months.

In November 1914 he moved to France as a war correspondent for Kievskaya Mysl, a liberal newspaper for which he had worked since 1909, including during the Balkan wars (1912-13). Trotsky was a participant in the anti-war socialist conferences of Zimmerwald (September 1915) and Kienthal (April 1916), which laid the basis for a new international.

He was deported from France in October 1916, travelling through Spain, where he was briefly imprisoned, arriving in New York in January 1917.

He left for Russia at the end of March 1917, and there, with Lenin, helped lead the revolution that created the world’s first workers’ state.

This book by Ian Thatcher is an ambivalent contribution to our understanding this period of Trotsky’s life.

Thatcher provides an account of the 16 articles Trotsky wrote for Kievskaya Mysl, and information about Trotsky’s articles in socialist newspapers such as Nashe Slovo (published in Paris) which has not appeared in English before.

But Thatcher also claims that when Trotsky, after the Russian revolution of 1917, put together a collection of his writings against World War 1 (War and Revolution, 1922), he deliberately excluded most of the articles in which he polemicised with Lenin, and “falsified” other articles to make it appear that Lenin’s views converged with his own.

Thatcher says that an examination of the documents reveals “a story of almost continuous opposition between Trotsky and Lenin”.

Whether Trotsky’s editing was suspect or not — and I think Thatcher makes too much of it — could only be judged by comparing the text of War and Revolution with the original articles.

In any case, the differences between Lenin and Trotsky are very well known even from the collections currently available — the Stalinists certainly made sure Lenin’s polemics against Trotsky were widely available in print.

Trotsky did not accept Lenin’s slogan of “defeatism”, and promoted slogans for peace and for the United States of Europe which Lenin rejected at times during the war.

Whether their views fundamentally diverged is a different matter altogether.

Lenin argued that Russia’s defeat in the war would be a lesser evil for Russian socialists. It was a formula Lenin used to demarcate the Bolsheviks from other socialist opponents of the war.

By contrast, Trotsky wrote that, “under no condition can I agree with your opinion, which is emphasized by a resolution, that Russia’s defeat would be a ‘lesser evil’.

This opinion represents a fundamental connivance with the political methodology of social patriotism, a connivance for which there is no reason or justification, and which substitutes an orientation (extremely arbitrary under present conditions) along the line of a ‘lesser evil’ for the revolutionary struggle against war and the conditions which generate this war” — “Open Letter to the Editorial Board of Kommunist”, June 1915 (Pearce 1961: p. 32).

Trotsky never came round to Lenin’s view on this.

When he came to write the theses War and the Fourth International in 1934, Trotsky omitted the slogan of “defeatism” from his first draft.

Under pressure from his comrades, he then incorporated the term, with a content different from Lenin’s original use but compatible with Trotsky’s own old views (Joubert, 1988).

 He wrote that, “Lenin’s formula ‘defeat is the lesser evil’ means not that the defeat of one’s own country is the lesser evil as compared with the enemy country but that a military defeat resulting from the growth of the revolutionary movement is infinitely more beneficial to the proletariat and to the whole people than military victory assured by civil peace.”

Did Lenin come round to Trotsky’s opinion on “defeatism”? We know only that Lenin never again took up “defeatism” systematically after 1917; and, as Hal Draper pointed out, there is “not even a hint of any kind of the defeat slogan in any of the documents of the first four congresses of the Comintern… It played no part in the programme, policy, and principles of the Communist International under Lenin” (2001: pp. 98, 99). 


Or could it? At any rate, did this mean that after 1905 the Russian workers could have no different or additional consideration of principle to guide them in war, as compared with the workers of, say, Germany?

This question was to give rise to controversy among Russian Marxists when the war came.

The opportunist leaders of the German Social-Democratic Party justified their support for the Kaiser’s war by references to the special character of Tsarism and the need for blows from outside Russia to bring it down, in the interests of the workers of Russia as well as of Germany.

To this the central committee of the Bolsheviks replied, in their manifesto of October 1914, ‘The War and Russian Social-Democracy’, drawn up by Lenin: ‘During the past few years, the revolutionary movement against Tsarism in our country has again assumed tremendous proportions [i.e., after the lull of 1908-1910] .... The Russian proletariat has not shrunk from any sacrifice to free humanity from the shame of the Tsarist monarchy.

But we must say that if anything can, under certain conditions, delay the destruction of Tsarism, if anything can help Tsarism in its struggle against the whole of Russian democracy, it is the present war.... And if anything can hinder the revolutionary struggle of the Russian working class against Tsarism, it is the behaviour of the leaders of German and Austrian Social-Democracy, which the chauvinist press of Russia is continually holding up to us as an example.’

At the same time, the manifesto affirmed that ‘from the standpoint of the working class and of the labouring masses of all the peoples of Russia [my emphasis, BP], the lesser evil would be the defeat of the Tsarist monarchy’. Some of Lenin’s associates questioned whether there was not room for ‘a misinterpretation of this passage: that the Russian Social-Democrats wish for the victory of the Germans ...’ (Karpinsky, letter to Lenin, September 27, 1914), but Lenin at this stage refused to budge. ‘Tsarism is a hundred times worse than Kaiserism’, he wrote to Shlyapnikov, October 17, 1914. Lenin’s ‘defeatism’ is here advanced, it will be observed, as something special for Russia, not as an international line.

Lenin soon clashed with Trotsky over ‘defeatism’, and also over what was called at the time ‘the peace slogan’. As regards the latter, Lenin was desperately anxious to prevent the revolutionary socialists from being taken in tow by various pacifist trends.

Only by fighting to overthrow capitalism, to mobilize the workers to carry out a socialist revolution, by ‘turning the imperialist war into civil war’, could the war be ended in a fashion advantageous to the masses.

Any other line would lead merely to the victory of one imperialist coalition or the other or to a compromise at the expense of the peoples which would prove merely an armistice followed by renewal of conflict. Lenin knew the heavy pressure on his comrades, if not to join the ‘patriots’ then to drop their revolutionary work in favour of abstract peace propaganda of a kind which would find echoes even in some capitalist circles.

In reply to Alexandra Kollontai, he wrote at the very end of 1914: ‘You emphasize that "we must bring forward a slogan which will unite us all". I tell you frankly that at present what I am afraid of is just this indiscriminate uniting, which in my opinion is most dangerous and most harmful to the proletariat.’ He never ceased, throughout the War, to combat the illusions of pacifism.

The two major fallacies in the pacifist approach he saw as these.

First, the idea that it is possible to abolish war without abolishing capitalism: ‘only after we have overthrown, finally vanquished, and expropriated the bourgeoisie of the whole world, and not only of one country, will wars become impossible’ (‘The War Programme of the Proletarian Revolution’, September 1916).

Second, avoidance of the hard fact that the process of extirpating the causes of war must itself include a series of wars of various kinds: ‘civil wars of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie for socialism are inevitable. Wars are possible between a country in which socialism has been victorious and bourgeois or reactionary countries’ (‘The "Disarmament" Slogan’, Autumn 1916).

Far from turning their backs on weapons and military knowledge, the workers must strive to obtain both, since only with their aid would the capitalist class, the source of war, be overthrown and put down, nationally and internationally. ‘We must not let ourselves get mixed up with the sentimental liberals. A bayonet period has begun! And that is a fact which means that we must fight with the same kind of weapon’ (Letter to Shlyapnikov, November 14, 1914).

Peace by Revolution

 So profoundly concerned was Lenin to draw a sharp distinction between the revolutionaries and those who were vaguely ‘for peace’ that he at first viewed with extreme suspicion all attempts to put forward ‘peace programmes’.

 ‘Not "peace without annexations" but peace to the cottages, war on the palaces; peace to the proletariat and the toiling masses, war on the bourgeoisie!’ (Lenin, ‘Peace Without Annexations ...’, February 29, 1916).

On this issue Lenin found himself at odds with Trotsky, who considered from the start that the slogan of peace, linked with a programme for a democratic peace settlement, provided ‘the surest way by which Social-Democracy can isolate militarist reaction in Europe’ (The War and the International, 1914).3

 In the opening phases of the war, Lenin and Trotsky thus placed the emphasis differently – Lenin upon the need to prevent any illusions arising about the possibility of peace without revolution, Trotsky upon the need to find transitional demands which would enable the revolutionaries to link themselves with the broad movement of opposition to the war.

It must be appreciated that Lenin did not, of course, ignore in the sectarian manner the broad anti-war movement or fail to see that the revolutionaries had to make contact with it. Already in May 1915 (‘Bourgeois Philanthropists and Revolutionary Social Democracy’) he noted that alongside all sorts of intrigues and diversions there were also the ‘peace sympathies’ of ‘the unenlightened masses’, expressing a ‘growing protest against the war’, and that the revolutionaries must take these into account.

And in the pamphlet Socialism and War (Summer 1915), Lenin and Zinoviev pointed to the popular sentiment for peace and observed: ‘It is the duty of all Social-Democrats to take advantage of this sentiment. They will take the most ardent part in every demonstration made on this basis, but they will not deceive the people by assuming that in the absence of a revolutionary movement it is possible to have peace without annexations ....’ ‘Socialists of a pacifist shade ... can be our fellow travellers’; we have ‘to get closer to them’ in order to fight the social-patriots. But in doing so, the revolutionaries must never forget the limitations of the political position of these elements, and must certainly never confine themselves ‘to what is acceptable to them’.

Parallel with Lenin’s differences with Trotsky on the ‘peace slogan’ and ‘peace programmes’, and also to some extent on ‘defeatism’, were differences on organizational questions. Trotsky clung much longer to the hope that it would not be necessary to make a clean break with the various centrist trends in the Russian and internationalist movements. In the end, of course, Trotsky came over to Lenin’s view on this matter, as on that of the type of internal organization of the party. On organizational questions Lenin convinced Trotsky: it is by no means clear, however, that Lenin did not come round eventually, on questions of the tactics and slogans of the fight against war, as on the ‘permanent revolution’ approach to Russia’s politics, to something closer to Trotsky’s position.

Trotsky versus Lenin

Trotsky protested sharply against the slogan of ‘Russia’s defeat the lesser evil’. In his 1914 (Zurich) pamphlet on The War and the International he declared: ‘We must not for a moment entertain the idea of purchasing the doubtful liberation of Russia by the certain destruction of the liberty of Belgium and France, and – what is more important still – thereby inoculating the German and Austrian proletariat with the virus of imperialism.’

Was it not ‘possible that the defeat of Tsarism might actually aid the cause of the Revolution? As to such a possibility, there is nothing to be said against it’.

That had happened, indeed, in 1905; but one ought not to forget that ‘while the Russo-Japanese war weakened Tsarism, it strengthened Japanese militarism.

The same considerations apply in a still higher degree to the present German-Russian war’.

Moreover, a revolution in Russia which was brought on by defeat would find the German bayonets at its chest at the moment of birth, and that would not help it. No, ‘the Social Democrats could not and cannot now combine their aims with any of the historical responsibilities of this war, that is, with either the victory of the Triple Alliance or the victory of the Entente’.

Trotsky’s Paris paper Nashe Slovo ridiculed Lenin’s defeatism as ‘defencism turned inside out’ and ‘social-patriotism standing on its head’. In an open letter to the editorial board of Kommunist, June 1915, Trotsky explained his disagreements with Lenin on both the peace slogan and defeatism.

 ‘I cannot reconcile myself’, he wrote, ‘with the vagueness and evasiveness of your position on the question of mobilizing the proletariat under the slogan of struggle for peace, the slogan under which, as a matter of fact, the labouring masses are now recovering their political senses and the revolutionary elements of socialism are being united in all countries; the slogan under which an attempt is being made now to restore the international contacts among the socialist proletariat.

Furthermore, under no condition can I agree with your opinion, which is emphasized by a resolution, that Russia’s defeat would be a "lesser evil".

This opinion represents a fundamental connivance with the political methodology of social patriotism, a connivance for which there is no reason or justification, and which substitutes an orientation (extremely arbitrary under present conditions) along the line of a "lesser evil" for the revolutionary struggle against war and the conditions which generate this war.’4

The resolution referred to by Trotsky was that adopted by the foreign (i.e., outside Russia) sections of the Bolshevik party at their conference in Berne in March 1915.

In this document two things were said about the question of defeat. First, that ‘in every country, the struggle against a home government conducting an imperialist war must not be stopped by the prospect of the country being defeated as a result of revolutionary agitation’.

It will be noticed that Trotsky raised no objection to this idea. But, second, it went on to assert that defeat actually facilitates revolution, that ‘this proposition is particularly true as regards Russia’, and, finally, that ‘the defeat of Russia is, under all conditions, the lesser evil’.

The text of this resolution itself represented a certain retreat from a position Lenin had taken up a little earlier. In his article ‘Under A Stolen Flag’ (February 1915) Lenin replied to the Russian defencist Potresov, who tried to shelter behind the Marx-Engels approach to wars, that in the present war ‘both sides are worst’, and that for this reason the socialist workers must desire ‘the defeat of every imperialist bourgeoisie’.

In this article the special characteristics of Russia were relegated to the past: ‘Potresov cannot fail to know that in our epoch not one of the backward state formations is or can be "the central evil".’

This was done, however, in order to apply to every country the slogan originally devised for Russia alone. A group of Bolsheviks which included Bukharin (the ‘Baugy group’) objected to this ‘wish-defeat’ formulation as an international slogan, and their objections were reflected in the final terms of the Berne resolution.

 (As can be seen, this resolution actually goes back to the idea that Tsarist Russia is in some way specially noxious, and it even specifies that ‘the victory of Russia would bring with it a strengthening of world reaction’; which was just what the German social patriots claimed.)

In the summer of 1915, doubtless as a result of the clash with Trotsky over the Berne resolution, Lenin and Zinoviev, in their pamphlet Socialism and War, reverted to the formulation to which Bukharin had objected, and declared that ‘the Socialists of all the belligerent countries should express their wish that all "their" governments be defeated’.

Lenin went even further in his article (August 1915) on ‘Defeat of One’s Own Government in the Imperialist War’: ‘Revolutionary action against one’s own government undoubtedly and incontrovertibly means not only desiring its defeat but really facilitating defeat.’

He added however: ‘(For the "penetrating reader": this does not mean "blowing up bridges", organizing unsuccessful military strikes, and in general helping the government to inflict defeat upon revolutionaries.)’

Just what it did mean, in what sense it meant anything more than carrying on the class struggle without regard to the effects this might have on the fortunes of war, was not really made clear.

The only special, novel kind of activity specified as needed in wartime was the promoting of fraternization between the rank-and-file soldiers at the front; and this was not in dispute.5

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