1. The imperialisms of the various countries are different: Russian imperialism, for example, is not of the same nature as English imperialism. Proving this would take us too far astray. We shall only point out that the imperialism of the States whose capitalism has not yet come of age, such as that of Austria-Hungary, Russia and Japan, is also of a capitalist nature. These States want to safeguard their capitalist future.
2. Kautsky, of course, has a different opinion. In his book The National State, the Imperialist State and the League of Nations (pp. 62-65), he writes that the current war was not caused by imperialist motives.
How did Kautsky reach this conclusion? He admits that the struggle between Germany and England over the land route to India via the Balkans, Turkey, Asia Minor and Arabia was one of the principle reasons for their antagonism. But this motive—he says—no longer exists. Between Austria and Turkey there is now a buffer zone of independent States: Serbia, etc. This is why—Kautsky writes—German policy in Turkey and Asia Minor is losing its threatening character for England. “One is therefore justified in saying that the war’s Eastern European causes are not imperialist.” The politics of Eastern Europe was not dominated by imperialist designs. And “at the very moment when the war broke out, Western Europe was not split by imperialist rivalries. All of them had been settled.”
We ask ourselves: And Austria’s ultimatum to Serbia? The ultimatum which was probably dictated by Germany and which Germany in any case desired?
What was this ultimatum if it was not the conclusion of the whole Balkan question, its violent solution in favor of Germany and Hungary, which automatically put the questions of Turkey, Asia Minor, Arabia and also that of India under the spotlight again? In this way, the Austrian ultimatum touched upon the deepest core of the German-English antagonism.
Kautsky’s assertion is thus demolished. We shall see below that it was fear that led Kautsky to such a distortion of the facts. Fear of the inevitable struggle between imperialism and the proletariat, fear of its principle weapon: mass action.
With this claim Kautsky became an ally of the imperialist classes, of high finance and its servants. For nothing could please them more than someone showing the workers that this war, the massacre of the peoples and the murder of the workers of Europe are not necessary consequences of their insatiable lust for new territories.
In a war of such vast proportions, there are naturally, here and there, other motives as well. They are nonetheless of little importance compared to imperialism and for that reason can be ignored. We will just mention, for instance, that Serbia is fighting for its national existence.
1. This is one of the roots of reformism. We shall see below that it is also one of the roots of the weakness of the International and a source of the harmonious cooperation with the bourgeoisie which characterizes this world war.
2. See, inter alia, the fiscal system in British India and the Dutch East Indies.
3. And the proletariat, if it suddenly catches on to the fact that colonialism forwards the development of capitalism, has the right to oppose it because it is conscious of and wants another society, one that is better than capitalist society, and because at least two western European States, Germany and England, are materially ripe for this socialist society.
This argument we have just set forth in outline form also contains the colonial program of revolutionary social democracy. This includes: 1. Protest against colonial violence and exploitation; 2. The aim of defending and liberating the indigenous peoples while they are too weak for revolutionary action; 3. Support for every revolutionary movement of the indigenous peoples and for their demands for political and national independence as soon as they undertake revolutionary action.
4. Even the small nations—the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal—take part in imperialist colonialism. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, etc., play an indirect role in such policies with their trade and shipping.
5. The position taken by a socialist party in one nation no longer possesses a merely theoretical interest for the other socialist parties, but constitutes a vital question and is for that reason the object of critique and struggle.
1. In the Duma, this is the most vehement form of protest; even more so than voting against war credits.
2. In Italy, the legislative chamber was not convened. The Italian socialists have magnificently opposed the war.
3. Greulich declared at the Congress that the Swiss would certainly march to the front in case of war. Shortly afterwards Renner said the same thing in the Reichsrat. Troelstra had already promised the same thing many times in the Netherlands, and after the Congress he once again reaffirmed this concession.
1. We have already alluded above to the following point: the point of view of revolutionary socialism is the struggle against the imperialism of all countries, against the imperialism of any country at all. For all imperialism threatens the working class, which in turn can only become stronger by fighting against it.
2. As long as India, Egypt, etc., do not proclaim their independence.
3. We shall see the real reasons in the next chapter.
4. Germany needs a strong Russia. In the future it will have to rely on Russia in its struggle against England.
5. Neither Russia nor England wants to destroy Germany, since each needs a strong Germany to play off against the other.
6. We shall address the likelihood of world peace and the creation of a League of Nations in the final chapter.
7. It is possible that a revolution could take place as a consequence of this impoverishment. But it would occur under the worst conditions and would be carried out by an exhausted and defenseless proletariat.
8. There were periods during the 19th century when the workers had to go to war alongside the bourgeoisie.
The national wars of the 19th century, which concluded with the foundation or consolidation of the national States of Belgium, Italy and Germany, were necessary for capitalist development and thus for the proletariat. For the proletariat could only build its organization and its struggle against the national bourgeoisie on the basis of such national States. It was then understandable that the proletariat lent its support to these wars. Bebel and Liebknecht, however, refused to support the war of 1870. That was how they expressed the nascent struggle of the proletarians against the new order in Germany.
The second example is that of the dynastic wars, such as those waged by Napoleon III, for example. The proletariat was compelled to take up arms and join the fight.
The third case involves an occasion where a war could overthrow a reactionary government, such as the Russian regime.
These are the main conditions under which the proletariat gave its consent to war.
But imperialism does not wage war in order to found national States—to the contrary, it destroys them—and far less for dynastic purposes. For princes are merely the slaves of high finance. Nor does imperialism combat autocracy—far from it. Instead, the danger exists that imperialism will breathe new life into absolutism.
Therefore, of all the causes which could have impelled the proletariat to go to war during Marx’s time, not one remains today.
But it will be objected that capital’s development must necessarily proceed via imperialism and imperialist world wars.
This objection must be countered with the observation that the situation has completely changed since Marx’s time.
We need a new tactic against imperialism.
Not war for the national bourgeoisie, but the struggle against the international bourgeoisie—that is what is necessary for the further development of the proletariat in our time.
9. We shall return to this point below.
10. As for the small nations, their nationality is certainly threatened by both sides, “friend” and foe. Over the long term, they cannot have an independent policy. For this reason alone, the proletariat of these countries must align their policies with those of the proletariat of the large countries, who must defend them.
11. In any event, it is not easy to say which proletariat, the Russian or the German, would have been able to deploy more powerful forces and to bring more pressure to bear in a joint struggle against imperialism and war.
The weakness of the argument cited above becomes apparent when one takes into consideration the fact that, in this war, in all likelihood, there would not have been much difference between the forces of the Austro-Hungarian/German proletariat and those of the English/French/Russian proletariat, were the proletariats of both blocs to have devoted all their forces to action against the war.
12. A hidden imperialism and nationalism predominates in a large part of the European working class. We shall comprehensively address this problem when we deal with reformism.
13. “We, the Germans, found ourselves faced but once with the company of liberty: on the day of its burial.” (Marx, Critical Notes on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right).
14. Latin: Literally, “Resist the beginnings”; nip it in the bud; it is easier to squelch evil as soon as it appears than to wait until it has spread and taken root.
15. The demonstration, held too late on the Tuesday afternoon before the start of the war, was of absolutely no significance.
16. For reasons of space, we cannot address the situation of each country separately. The reader can fill in the details and the differences for himself. In various countries there were certainly groups which voted against the war and war credits; a small group in the German parliament, for example, the Independent Labour Party, etc. Unfortunately, there was no real understanding of imperialism. The great majority of the trade unionists approved of the war. The anarchists, naturally, viewed it from the abstract point of view, from the point of view of rights, which were said to have been violated in Belgium.
1. The reasons why the Independent Labour Party of England is against the war are of a petit-bourgeois nature. Its members think England has enough colonies.
2. It was during this stage—as we said above—which generally coincided with the rise of imperialism, that the fewest reforms were conceded, at least in the most powerful imperialist countries, like Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium (England, as we shall see, constitutes an exception). While there were important improvements in social legislation during the revolutionary period, in the succeeding stage they were very rare.
The Netherlands provides a very good example. The first revolutionary wave led to an important reform of electoral law. By means of theoretical-practical revolutionary propaganda the workmen’s compensation law was passed, which guaranteed workers who had been disabled by workplace accidents 70% of their wage without their having to make any contribution. During the reformist period, the poor—and not the workers—if they were very poor, if they behaved themselves and if the municipality accepted responsibility for them, obtained the promise of receiving 2 florins per week. In other words, public charity. The right to alms: this is the step separating the revolutionary from the reformist period.
The same thing can be observed in Germany. Social legislation was won by radical struggle; reformist tactics achieved nothing. The same thing in Belgium: extension of suffrage thanks to revolutionary tactics. With reformist tactics: nothing.
And what did Millerand, Briand and Viviani achieve in France?
One could inquire: Why is it that it is precisely under imperialism, which renders all reforms impossible, that reformism flourishes?
The answer: for the reformists, the workers movement and socialism consist solely of the struggle for reforms. They cannot conceive of any other workers movement. Consequently, as fewer and fewer reforms were achieved, they strove so much harder to convince the workers that they had to demand and fight for more reforms. Without this struggle for reforms their entire existence, together with the workers movement as they conceive it, would have had no purpose at all and would have lost all substance. And this was all the more true under imperialism, because it is precisely imperialism which renders all reform impossible.
3. There were social democrats who wanted to vote for war credits only in order to obtain reforms; reforms which could not have been conceded by imperialism. The Social Democratic Workers Party of the Netherlands (SDAP) provided examples of this attitude.
1. This stage is infinitely more radical than the stage Marx lived through.
1. It is true that there was a small campaign against the Prussian electoral law, but this movement was very quickly crushed. Concerning this episode and other issues, see the debates between Rosa Luxemburg, Pannekoek, Mehring, et al., on one side, and Kautsky on the other, which were published in Die Neue Zeit. Here we are only conveying the general sense of Kautsky’s article.
2. One could see that the German proletariat, which was the most highly-organized proletariat in the world, was powerless on the occasion of the Czar’s visit to Berlin. The socialist proletariat of Berlin, more powerfully organized than the proletariat of any other city in the world, did not lift a finger. There were neither demonstrations nor meetings.
3. See, inter alia, Die Neue Zeit of October 2, 1914, page 4: “Every people, as well as the proletariat of every country, has a strong interest in preventing the enemy from crossing the border” (that is, an interest in participating in this imperialist war) “because of the horrors and destruction caused by invasion.”
And on page 7: “This means that the socialists of all nations have the same right and the same duty to participate in national defense.”
We do not forget that Kautsky has done everything he could to prevent the workers from opposing the war and that he devoted his efforts to ensuring that the social democracy and the masses would do nothing to stop it.
All of this gives us the right to state what we asserted above concerning Kautsky.
As for the question of whether or not the proletariat’s voluntary cooperation and the strengthening of imperialism which would result could bring horrors and destruction worse than anything previously known, Kautsky shows no interest in this topic in his ruminations.
4. “Either one or the other, there is no middle way,” “Whoever is not with me is against me.” See Chapter 4 above, where we proved that, for the workers, the choice consists of collective action—that is, mass action—of the world proletariat against imperialism, or collaboration with imperialism. Whoever is in favor of the struggle against imperialism must be in favor of mass action since, in order to defeat imperialism, no other means exists.
5. See Parteizusammenbruch?, page 21.
6. Why such treaties, disarmament, etc., are impossible, we shall show in the last chapter.
7. As an example, we wish to cite here the most recent great struggle: the Russian revolution. Its mighty combatants fought for the overthrow of Czarism and for the prompt realization of socialism. Its program aimed at attaining these two goals.
8. In Chapter 10 we shall show that the internationalization of capital, a precondition for the establishment of a world capital, is only in its beginnings.
9. Concerning the possibility of the establishment of a League of Nations in our time, see the preceding chapter.
10. Kautsky, Cunow and the Marxists of their ilk, now as always, present matters in such a way that they would give the impression that we think it is possible to win a quick or even an instantaneous victory. This is false. When we speak of destruction, extirpation, etc., we do not mean destruction all at once nor do we even believe in a quick victory.
To the contrary: to say that if one does not want to fight imperialism because imperialism is still necessary, or because socialism is still impossible, means that one has a false idea of the whole course of evolution and that one is still entangled in the concept of revolution as a catastrophe which is struck at one blow.
11. This feeling that any partial victory is a victory for socialism, also inspired our great predecessors in the struggle to believe that they were fighting for socialism. In a more elevated sense, they were therefore correct.
We are even more correct to see these vast institutions as the foundations upon which socialist society will be built.
12. The fact that Cunow preaches submission can be deduced from his conception of the war. On page 13 of the booklet quoted above, he writes: “I do not believe it is possible that the question of Sarajevo could be the pretext for war. It seems to me that a conflict of that kind, at first glance, is a sideshow for which the socialist parliamentary group of the Reichstag must not assume any responsibility and, therefore, must not vote for war credits. It seems increasingly obvious to me, however, that the English bourgeoisie is quite determined to take advantage of this war as an opportune occasion to settle their accounts. . . .”
This conception of the war complements Kautsky’s conception (see Note 2 of Chapter 1 above) that the current war was not caused by imperialist motives in either eastern or western Europe.
The reader will recall that we proved that England’s policy, oriented towards surrounding Germany, was no less responsible for this war than German policy. But for a German socialist to accuse not the German ruling classes but the English ruling classes, shows that he submits to the German ruling classes.
Of these two radicals, one excuses the ruling classes, the other accuses England. Both have therefore become allies, or rather slaves of imperialism.
Radicals of this kind are, for the workers movement, no less dangerous than the revisionists. For the latter want to form an alliance with the bourgeoisie; the radicals want, under the appearance of revolutionary struggle, submission to the bourgeoisie.
13. And, unfortunately, even many young people: see the position of the Austrian Marxists.
14. For us, obviously—and only for us—the theoretical-practical writings of Kautsky’s first period until The Road to Power, retain their value, along with his purely theoretical works.
15. There are comrades in Germany who, in practice, are still Marxists. A group of 17 members of the Reichstag delegation were against voting for the war credits on August 14, 1914, but did not dare to actually do so at the ensuing Reichstag session. We cite Mehring, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Radek and Karl Liebknecht. The latter voted against the war credits at the Reichstag session at the beginning of December 1914; this is how he justified his vote:
“My vote against the proposed legislation is based on the following considerations:
“This war, which was not desired by any of the peoples who have been dragged into it, was not started for the benefit of the German people or of any other people. We confront an imperialist war and, therefore, a war for the political rule of vast territories which industrial and finance capital can profitably exploit. From the competition’s point of view, it is a war which was provoked by common agreement between the war parties of Germany and Austria in the darkness of semi-absolutism and secret diplomacy in anticipation of attack by their adversary. This war is, at the same time, a Bonapartist attempt to exhaust and destroy the growth of the workers movement. The last few months have clearly proven the preceding observations, despite the ruthless attempts to confuse the issue.
The German slogan: “Against Czarism”—like the French and English slogans “Against Militarism”—is an attempt, by stimulating the peoples’ hatreds, to mobilize the inclinations, the traditions and revolutionary ideals of the people. Germany, that accomplice of Czarism which has been to this day the model of a reactionary political regime, can by no means act as the peoples’ liberator.
The emancipation of the Russian people, as well as the emancipation of the German people, will be the result of their own efforts.
The war is not a war of German defense. Its historical character and its early course make it impossible to trust a capitalist government which proffers the pretext of defense of the fatherland in order to request a vote for war credits.”
We must also recall, together with this declaration, the socialist newspaper of Bremen which, before and during the early period of the war, carried out splendid revolutionary agitation.
We hope that it will rally a large number of German workers behind it.
16. We include French syndicalism as having played a significant role in weakening the proletariat.
How childish is their desire to defeat the imperialist State, world capital and world war by means of the trade unions!
We accuse the syndicalists in their position on the war with the same charge we leveled against the reformists and the radicals.
A social imperialism has been born which has replaced social democracy. Everyone has clearly shown their true colors. We shall take advantage of this occasion, however, to observe that this booklet was not intended to explain the two tendencies in social democracy with reference to economic and political conditions. This booklet’s only purpose is to fight against them. We believe that circumstances render this necessary. One can find an excellent explication of both radicalism as well as reformism and the conditions which gave rise to these tendencies, in Trotsky’s pamphlet The War and the International, pp. 41-50.
1. Propaganda for nationwide action in Germany has been well-conducted, especially by Rosa Luxemburg and Anton Pannekoek.
There are social democrats who call our position on the national and international general strike syndicalist and even anarchosyndicalist, because such a strike was defended by these tendencies.
The difference between us and the syndicalists and anarchosyndicalists is as follows: in the parliamentary struggle, we have seen and still see a powerful weapon, the same as in the political struggle, the proletarian struggle which embraces everything. This is so, naturally, as long as the struggle is waged in a strictly revolutionary way and in harmony and cooperation with mass action. There is also one other difference: the anarchists and syndicalists were propagandizing for the general strike when neither the productive forces nor the conditions of production, nor the workers organizations, were mature; we, on the other hand, are propagandizing for the general strike now, when England and Germany are materially ripe and world imperialism is attacking the world proletariat—against the consortia and the trusts, against the imperialism of all governments, with millions of organized workers. The value and the importance of a propaganda campaign and of its ideas depend only upon the moment when the campaign is conducted.
2. England constitutes the sole exception. England, which, thanks to the enormous wealth it takes from the colonies, and because until now it has not had a standing army in the home country, is in a situation—it was in a situation!—to throw some crumbs now and then to the workers.
3. This proposal was not brought up for debate because the congress decided that it did not have to be debated.
4. This was only possible on Tuesday. Since, evidently, a really energetic action against imperialism is impossible with leaderships like those of the International and the national parties. These leaderships are all composed of trade union leaders and parliamentarians from the pre-imperialist era. They do not know how to organize the International against imperialism.
5. Until the last days of August, at a time when it was generally believed that even the Netherlands would be dragged into the war and the army was being mobilized, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) protested against the war with street demonstrations. Of course, the attitude of the Social Democratic Workers Party (SDAP) and the International considerably weakened the impact of its efforts. The SDP nonetheless brought together more than 25,000 organized workers in an action against mobilization. The SDP therefore has remained faithful to the program of the International and to the deliberations of its Congresses.
6. The strikes in Wales took place at the same time.
1. The war is also being fought for the goal of the internationalization of capital; thus, for example, Germany is fighting to force French capitalism to merge with German capitalism.
2. Russia needs foreign capital, largely French, for its armies and its imperialism, that is, in order to found a capitalist State.
3. It is the principle cause of nationalism and patriotism under imperialism. This is why nationalism and patriotism reach new heights under imperialism.
In his pamphlet The War and the International, page 1, Trotsky writes: “The crux of the current war resides in the rebellion of the forces of production against their national-statist exploitation. . . . The policy of imperialism is above all a proof that the old State has become obsolete and now presents itself as an unbearable obstacle to the development of the productive forces. The war of 1914 means, above all, the destruction of the national State as an independent economic territory. . . . The war heralds the collapse of the national State.”
These statements may seem to be Marxism, but have nothing to do with Marxism. They are only pseudo-Marxist chatter.
The current war is the struggle of the big businesses of various nations to acquire the most territory for the sale of their commodities and for capital investment, especially in the colonies. When they attempt to conquer or subject other capitalist States instead of colonies, this is not done for economic, but for political and strategic reasons. Thus, Germany wants to make Belgium and the Netherlands its dependants within the context of its struggle against England; it wants to subject Serbia so as to seize the land route to Asia. It is now brandishing its claims to Poland and northern France for their wealth in iron ore and coal . . . to use in its struggle against England. It does not need these countries for economic reasons. Thus, Austria is trying to subject the Serbs to prevent the creation of a greater Serbia. Russia wants the Bosphorus to prevent, in case of war, an interruption in its imports and to allow its navy passage to the Mediterranean. And so on in succession. Until now, colonies have generally been sought for economic reasons and European territories for political reasons.
Instead of a rebellion of the forces of production against capitalism’s current nation-state form of exploitation, the war is the means by which some nations will become stronger, larger and more unified, it is the means utilized by some nations for the development of world capitalism and to allow the struggle between these nations to contribute to a renewed strengthening, extension and intensification of capitalist production.
Imperialism and this war show that the great nation State is not yet obsolete, that it still possesses gigantic forces which allow it, in its struggle against other nation States, to spread capitalist production and to make it the global mode of production.
It is true that, sooner or later, some small States will collapse; the large States, however, will not be destroyed or ruined, even as independent economic territories; for the moment, they are even becoming stronger as independent economic territories.
It is true that this struggle will exact infinite sacrifices. It will always be so for capitalism, but it is from this struggle that progress comes.
That this theory is true and that Trotsky’s theory is only seemingly true, can clearly be seen when one considers not only generalities but concrete facts.
The English nation State is being infinitely extended with this war since it is seizing colonies and has more of them than ever.
The German nation State is continuing to develop by every means and hopes to seize small nations which will be subject to it and will make it even more powerful.
The French nation State is continuing to exist as before.
The States embracing various nationalities, such as Austria-Hungary and Russia, have become more unified during the war.
The United States continues to develop.
The Japanese nation State is continuing to develop.
And all these States are augmenting their forces and their power as nations and as States by means of this war through the subjection, either by way of conquest or the creation of dependencies, in Europe, Asia and Africa, of small and weak countries which they can dominate as nations or as nation States. All these powerful States are behaving, then, not like obsolete States, but like nations which have abundant capitalist forces and as national economic territories.
And after this war, these nations—England, Germany, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary, the United States and Japan—will start a new conflict, as nations, as States, and as economic territories, for world domination; their struggles and their alliances will stimulate and develop capitalist production to an increasingly significant extent.
These nations are thus not obstacles but springboards for capitalist production.
The practical proposals—the right of every nation to self-determination, a United States of Europe, without monarchies, without standing armies, without reigning feudal lineages and without secret diplomacy—which Trotsky bases on this perspective and which he formulates as the proletariat’s proposals for after the peace are therefore equally false.
These proposals are based on a false representation of reality. They are harmful for the proletariat and its development, and, furthermore, the proletariat does not have the power to implement them; they are therefore utopian and erroneous.
4. Some will also maintain that, considering the enormous size of armies, war will be rendered impossible because no belligerent will be able to decisively defeat another. But technology and science will invent new weapons and a new strategy. For capital’s expansion demands it.
5. The other proposals of the radicals and the reformists—international arbitration tribunals, the abolition of secret diplomacy—serve the same purpose as disarmament, that is, to lull the proletariat to sleep and to get it to march alongside the bourgeoisie.
6. One may read the following snippets:
Page 7 of Die Neue Zeit, October 2, 1914: “The Social Democracy will have to achieve an enduring peace by eliminating the conditions which caused the war, that is, imperialist demands and the arms race.”
Here, as before the war, an attempt is made to convince the proletariat that henceforth disarmament is possible and that the social democracy can achieve this, and even that it could be in a position to eradicate imperialist demands.
And on page 250 of Die Neue Zeit of November 27, 1914, after having once again explicitly stated that the social democrats must participate in the war when the threat of invasion looms, the goal of the International is proclaimed:
“The struggle for peace during war, class struggle in peacetime.”
The struggle against future wars, the class struggle during wartime, and the revolution after the war are not mentioned.
We would like to contrast these statements with something written by the old Kautsky, the Kautsky of 1908, in The Road to Power, concerning war, imperialism and armaments.
“Equilibrium between the States, achieved with so much difficulty, now is beginning to vacillate as a result of unexpected changes over which none of them has any influence. Problems are rapidly arising that demand solutions which cannot be peaceful and which for that reason will persist for a long time.”
“Everywhere there is nothing but agitation, distrust and insecurity. Nervousness, already terribly increased by the global arms race, has now reached its high point.”
“World war looms threateningly. But the experiences of the last few years show that war is a synonym for revolution, and consequently have led to immense shifts in political power. In 1891 Engels still thought it would be a great misfortune for us if a war were to bring a revolution in its wake and prematurely bring us to power. He thought that the proletariat, making use of the existing political institutions, could still make more secure progress for some time than would be achieved by running the risks involved in a revolution provoked by a war.”
“But the situation is greatly changed since then. Today, the proletariat is strong enough to face a war with the greatest tranquility.”
“The proletariat’s most pressing task amidst this general insecurity is quite clear. We have already explained it. Not one more step forward can be made unless the basic institutions of the State, which are the terrain of its struggles, are transformed. Energetically pursuing the democratization of the Empire as well as of its various States, especially Prussia and Saxony, is the most pressing task in Germany; from the international point of view, the most pressing task is the struggle against imperialism and militarism.”
“No less obvious than the task itself are the means we possess to achieve it. To those employed until now, the general strike must be added. . . . If it was rejected after the glorious days of 1905, only one thing can be concluded . . . and that is that it would be foolish to want to use it in every circumstance.”
When imperialism was still a recent phenomenon which only appeared in its immature form, Kautsky perceived it as something which had to be confronted. Now that imperialism is there, alive, in flesh and blood, Kautsky, and the radicals along with him, have turned tail and run away.
That imperialism and imperialist war must unite the world proletariat, Kautsky did not understand. Kautsky—and in this respect he has undoubtedly been, until today, the interpreter of all of social democracy—holds that, in case of war, the interests of the proletariats of the different countries would be different. On page 246 of Die Neue Zeit of November 1914, he writes:
“To direct the parties in accordance with national points of view is, undoubtedly, a serious error for the International. . . . This direction in accordance with national criteria is obviously not as noble as direction in accordance with the proletariat’s international interests. In the current war, however, this proletarian internationalism has totally failed, above all. . . .”
Here one can see, in the most convincing fashion, the difference between me and Kautsky. I hold that imperialism identifies the interests of the world proletariat and that this war proves it.
7. Marx had not thought that the proletariat could be faced by this choice: imperialism or socialism. Marx did not concede enough importance to either the expansive power of capital or to the mental force the proletariat needs for victory. But it could not have been otherwise in his era.