Kamenev’s Speech in the C.E.C. on the Stockholm Conference

"We have decided to build a Third International, and we must do so in face of all difficulties. Not a single step backward to deals with the social-imperialists and deserters from socialism!"

The speech made by Comrade Kamenev on August 6 in the Central Executive Committee on the Stockholm Conference cannot but meet with reproof from all Bolsheviks who are faithful to their Party and principles.

In the very first sentence of his speech, Comrade Kamenev made a formal statement which gave his whole speech a monstrous ring. He made the reservation that lie was speaking on his own behalf, and that “our group has not discussed this issue”.

First of all, since when, in an organised party, do individual members speak about important issues “on their own behalf”? Since the group had not discussed the issue, Comrade Kamenev had no right to speak. This is the first conclusion to be drawn from his words.

Secondly, what right had Comrade Kamenev to ignore the decision of the Party Central Committee against participating in the Stockholm Conference? As long as this decision has not been rescinded by a congress or by a new decision of the Central Committee, it remains law for the Party. Had it been rescinded, Comrade Kamenev could not have kept quiet, could not have spoken in the present perfect: “We Bolsheviks have so far adopted a negative attitude to the Stockholm Conference.”

Again the conclusion is that Kamenev had no right to speak and, moreover, directly violated a Party decision, directly spoke against the Party, and thwarted its will by not saying a word about the Central Committee decision, which is binding on him. Yet the decision Was published in Pravda, even with the additional remark that the Party representative would withdraw from the Zimmerwald Conference should it favour participation in the Stockholm Conference.[1]

Kamenev gave an incorrect account of the reasons for the “former” negative attitude of the Bolsheviks towards participation in the Stockholm Conference. He did not say that social-imperialists were going to attend the conference and that it would be a disgrace for a revolutionary Social-Democrat to have any truck with them.

Sad to admit, Starostin, who has often been very much in the wrong in the past, put the revolutionary Social-Democratic point of view a thousand times better, more correctly and more fittingly than Kamenev. To confer with social-imperialists, ministers, butcher’s aides in Russia would he shameful treachery. There could then be no talk of internationalism.

Kamenev’s arguments, which actually favour a “change” in our view on the Stockholm Conference, are ludicrously feeble.

“It became clear to us,” Kamenev said, “that from that [??] moment the Stockholm Conference ceased [??] to be a blind instrument of the imperialist countries.”

That is not true. There is not a single fact to support it, and Kamenev could advance no serious argument in its favour. If the Anglo-French social-imperialists refuse to attend, while the German do attend, can that be regarded as a change in principle?? Is it a change at all from an internationalist point of view? Can Kamenev really have “forgotten” the decision of our Party conference (April 29) on the perfectly analogous case of the Danish social-imperialist?

According to newspaper reports, Kamenev further said, “The broad revolutionary banner under which the forces of the world proletariat are mustering is beginning to wave over Stockholm.”

This is a meaningless declamation in the spirit of Chernov and Tsereteli. It is a blatant untruth. In actual fact, it is not the revolutionary banner that is beginning to wave over Stockholm, but the banner of deals, agreements, amnesty for the social-imperialists, and negotiations among bankers for dividing up annexed territory.

We cannot tolerate a situation where the party of the internationalists, which is responsible to the whole world for revolutionary internationalism, compromises itself by winking at the dirty tricks of the Russian and German social-imperialists, of the ministers of the bourgeois imperialist government of the Chernovs, Skobelevs and Co.

We have decided to build a Third International, and we must do so in face of all difficulties. Not a single step backward to deals with the social-imperialists and deserters from socialism!


[1] See present edition, Vol. 24, p. 388.—Ed.

[2] The question of convening an international socialist conference in Stockholm arose in April 1917. Borgbjerg, a Danish social-chauvinist, arrived in Petrograd and, on behalf of the joint committee of the workers’ parties of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, invited the socialist parties of Russia to attend the “Stockholm socialist peace conference”. The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet. The Mensheviks and S.R.s accepted the invitation and decided to take the initiative in calling the conference. On a motion by Lenin, the Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the Bolshevik Party declared itself emphatically against participation in the Stockholm conference, a social-chauvinist affair. It exposed the imperialist nature of the conference and branded Borgbjerg as an agent of the German imperialists.

On August 6 (19), 1917, at a meeting of the Central Executive Committee discussing preparations for the Stockholm conference, Kamenev insisted on participation in the conference. He said the Bolshevik resolution on the matter should be revised. The Bolshevik group of the C.E.C. dissociated itself from his statement.

Simultaneously with the letter “Kamenev’s Speech in the C.E.C. on the Stockholm Conference”, which he sent to Proletary for publication, Lenin on August 17 (30) wrote another letter, addressed to the Bureau of the Central Committee Abroad. With reference to Kamenev’s statement, Lenin wrote: “I consider Kamenev’s statement ... the height of stupidity, if not of baseness, and have already written about this to the Central Committee and for the press” = (see present edition, Vol. 35, p. 320). On August 16 (29), the Bolshevik Party’s Central Committee, upon discussing the issue of the Stockholm conference, reaffirmed the decision not to attend.

The conference never met.


Source: Marxist Internet Archive.