[Classics] Socialism and War

Preface to the First (Foreign) Edition

The war has been going on for a year already. Our Party defined its attitude towards it at its very beginning, in the Central Committee’s manifesto that was drawn up in September 1914 and printed (after it had been sent to the members of the C.C., and to our Party’s responsible representatives in Russia, and after their consent had been received) on November 1, 1914, in No.33 of our Party’s Central Organ Sotsial-Demokrat.[1] Later, in No. 40 (March 29, 1915) were printed the resolutions of the Berne Conference[2] in which our principles and tactics were more precisely enunciated.

At the present time, in Russia, there is an obvious growth of revolutionary temper among the masses. In other countries, symptoms of the same phenomenon are observed everywhere, in spite of the suppression of the revolutionary strivings of the proletariat by the majority of the official Social-Democratic partis, which have taken the side of their governments and their bourgeoisie. This state of things makes particularly urgent the publication of a pamphlet that sums up Social-Democratic tactics in relation to the war. Reprinting in full the above-mentioned Party documents, we provide them with brief explanations, endeavouring to take into account all the chief arguments in favour of bourgeois and of proletarian tactics that have been expressed in literature and at Party meetings.


[1] See V.I. Lenin, The War and Russian Social-DemocracySelected Works, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow 1952, Vol.I, Part 2, pp.397-406.

Sotsial-Demokrat – central organ of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, published as an underground newspaper from February 1908 to January 1917. Altogether 58 issues appeared—the first in Russia, the rest abroad: at Paris and, later, at Geneva. The Sotsial-Demokrat published more than 80 articles and other items by Lenin, who became its editor in December 1911.—Ed.

[2] See V.I. Lenin, Conference of the Sections of the R.S.D.L.P. AbroadSelected Works, Eng. ed., Lawrence and Wishart, London 1944, Vol. V, pp. 131–37.

The Berne Conference—a conference of the sections of the R.S.D.L.P. abroad held in Berne, Switzerland, from February 27 to March 4, 1915. Called on Lenin’s initiative, it had the standing of a Bolshevik general Party conference, since it was impossible to convene an all-Russian conference during the war. Representatives were present at the conference from the Bolshevik sections in Paris, Zurich, Geneva, Seine, Lausanne, and from the “Baugy” group. Lenin represented the Central Committee and the central organ (Sotsial-Demokrat), directed the proceedings of the conference, and made a report on the main item on the agenda, The War and the Tasks of the Party. The conference adopted resolutions on the war that were drafted by Lenin.—Ed.

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