Socialism and War

World War One broke the 2nd International, as most of the workers' parties supported their own ruling class and the war effort. Lenin and the Bolsheviks maintained a class position, opposing the war, even after the February Revolution, when many former opponents of the war became supporters. The Bolshevik war policy became a key pillar of the party's programme as it led the working masses to victory in October 1917.

1917 was the year the Russian revolution changed the course of world history. But before the masses took to the stage, a whole period had prepared the fall of Tsarism. While the reign of Nicholas II appeared strong on the surface it was rotten to the core.

A compilation of key works by Leon Trotsky, written between 1904 and the end of April 1917, about the character and tasks of the Russian Revolution.

What is a peace program? From the viewpoint of the ruling classes or of the parties subservient to them, it is the totality of the demands, the ultimate realization of which must be ensured by the power of militarism.

"The imperialist war is crushing the people and threatens to crush them completely. The petty-bourgeois democrats can perhaps stave off disaster for a while. But it is only the revolutionary proletariat that can prevent a tragic end."

There have never been so many pacifists as at this moment, when people are slaying each other on all the great highways of our planet. Each epoch has not only its own technology and political forms, but also its own style of hypocrisy. Time was when the nations destroyed each other for the glory of Cist’s teachings and the love of one’s neighbour. Now Cist is invoked only by backward governments. The advanced nations cut each other’s toats under the banners of pacifism a league of

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"The foreign policy of the capitalists and the petty bourgeoisie is “alliance” with the imperialists, that is, disgraceful dependence on them. The foreign policy of the proletariat is alliance with the revolutionaries of the advanced countries and with all the oppressed nations against all and any imperialists."

That the new coalition government is precisely this sort of alliance between the capitalists and the Narodnik and Menshevik leaders is far from obvious to all. Perhaps it is not obvious even to the Ministers belonging to these parties. Yet it is a fact.

Written by Lenin in May 31 (18), 1917.

"Annexation means keeping an alien people by force within the bounds of a given state." Pravda No. 60, May 31 (18), 1917.

The editors of Izvestia, a paper controlled by the Narodnik and Menshevik bloc, are beating all records of muddledom. In that paper’s issue No.67 for May 16, they try to chop logic with Pravda, without, of course, mentioning its name—a usual ill-mannered “ministerial” practice. Pravda, we are told, has a

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"Disaster is imminent. The capitalists are heading all countries to destruction. There is only one way out: revolutionary discipline, revolutionary measures by the revolutionary class,..." Published in Pravda No. 57, May 27 (14), 1917.

"Nothing but a workers’ revolution in several countries can defeat this war." A LECTURE DELIVERED MAY 14 (27), 1917. First published April 23, 1929 in Pravda No. 93

'Our slogan is: against the chauvinists, even if they are revolutionary and republican—against them, and for an alliance of the international proletariat for the socialist revolution.'

Published in Pravda No. 56, May 26 (13), 1917.

Published in Pravda No. 53, May 23 (10), 1917.

'Soldiers and workers! You are told that you are defending “freedom” and the “revolution”! In reality you are defending the shady treaties of the tsar, which are concealed from you as one conceals a secret disease.'

 'Democracy will remain an idle deceitful phrase, or merely a half-measure, unless the entire people is given a chance immediately and unqualifiedly to learn how to handle arms.' Written May 23 (10), 1917; published in Pravda No. 55 May 25 (12).

Published in Pravda No. 52, May 22 (9), 1917.

Novaya Zhizn for May 7 publishes interviews with ministers of the ''new'' government. Prime Minister Lvov has declared that ''the country must have its weighty say and send its army into battle''.

This is the sum and substance of the new government’s ''programme''. An offensive, an offensive, an offensive!

Published in Pravda No. 47, May 16 (3), 1917.

Published in Pravda No. 47, May 16 (3), 1917.

That is what the proclamation of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet to the socialists of the world, published in today’s papers, amounts to. It has a lot to say against imperialism, but all these words are nullified by a single little phrase which reads:

“The Provisional Government of revolutionary Russia has adopted this platform” (i.e., peace without annexations and indemnities on the basis of

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Published in Pravda No. 46, May 15 (2), 1917.

Published in Pravda No. 43, May 11 (April 28), 1917.

The capitalists either sneer at the fraternisation of the soldiers at the front or savagely attack it. By lies and slander they try to make out that the whole thing is “deception” of the Russians by the Germans, and threaten—through their generals and officers—punishment for fraternisation.

The question of chief interest, now, to the governments and the peoples of the world is, What will be the influence of the Russian Revolution on the War? Will it bring peace nearer? Or will the revolutionary enthusiasm of the people swing towards a more vigorous prosecution of the war?

First published in Russian in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVII.Published in Volksrecht Nos. 26 and 27, January 31 and February 1, 1917. Written (in German) between January 13 and 17 (26 and 30), 1917. Translated from the German. Published according to the manuscript.

Written in January 1917, Lenin analyses the cynical imperialist manoeuvres behind World War One and puts forward the proletarian revolutionary alternative as the only way out of the impasse for the working class.

The international situation is becoming increasingly clear and increasingly menacing. Both belligerent coalitions have latterly revealed the imperialist nature of the war in a very striking way. The more assiduously the capitalist governments and the bourgeois and socialist pacifists spread their empty, lying pacifist phrases—the talk of a democratic peace, a peace without annexations, etc.—the sooner are they exposed. Germany is crushing several small nations under her iron heel with the

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A Marxist answer to the utopian idea that we can achieve peace through disarmament without doing away with the capitalist system - as relevant today as when it was first written by Lenin.