No u-turn after all

True to revolutionary social democracy

It is sometimes claimed that Lenin retired from political activity at the start of World War I in order to rethink the foundations of Marxism. In this extract from his contribution to a book to be published later this year, Lars T Lih argues that nothing could be further from the truth

I may testify that the fundamental slogans of Lenin’s tactic in the imperialist war had been formulated by him in Austria during the first few days of the war, for he brought them to Berne completely formulated. And further! I have every reason for stating that this tactic had matured in Lenin’s head probably on the first day of the war. My arrest on the third or fourth day of the war may serve as a proof of this statement.1

The author of these words, Bolshevik GL Shklovsky, goes on to relate ruefully that a telegram sent to him by Lenin asking him to organise anti-war proclamations was intercepted by the Swiss military authorities. This anecdote brings home how swift and how definite was Lenin’s reaction to the outbreak of war. When hostilities broke out, Lenin was living in Poronin in Austrian Poland. He was quickly interned as an enemy alien under suspicion of spying, but after 12 days and the intervention of prominent Austrian Social Democrats, he was set free. He then had to pull up roots and move with his family (his wife and her mother) via Vienna to neutral Switzerland. Despite all this upheaval, he hit the ground running when he arrived in Berne on September 5.

As soon as he got off the train, Lenin met with local Bolsheviks in Shklovsky’s apartment to talk over the proper reaction to the war. At this meeting, Lenin quizzed his comrades about the reaction to the war by other Russian and European socialists. In the evening, he met with Robert Grimm, a leader of the Swiss Social Democrats, and talked with him about wartime tactics for the party. He then wrote down a draft of his theses about party tasks in relation to the war.

The next day, Lenin penned a letter to VA Karpinskii in Geneva and inquired if there was a Russian-language printing press in Geneva that could print up leaflets against the war and its socialist supporters. He also wanted to know if there were any Bolsheviks leaving for Russia. Later that same day, a more formal conference of Berne Bolsheviks began and went on for a couple of days in a forest outside Berne. With a few changes, Lenin’s theses were accepted by the group.

These first few days in Switzerland are emblematic of Lenin’s activities until early 1915. He had definite aims which he pursued unremittingly:


Lenin’s first and overriding aim was to be in a position to advance his views as an official programme endorsed by Bolshevik party institutions. His original theses from early September were reworked into a manifesto entitled ‘The war and Russian social democracy’. This was printed on November 1 in the first issue of the socialist party newspaper with the authority of the party’s central committee. Lenin then concentrated on organising a wider conference of Bolshevik émigrés that eventually took place in Berne at the end of February 1915. He wanted to make this as representative and therefore authoritative as possible and went to great lengths to insist that Bolsheviks just coming from America and potential critics such as Nikolai Bukharin would be in attendance. The resolutions passed by the Berne conference were essentially the latest version of the September theses and the November manifesto.

The Berne conference made Lenin’s programme as official as it was going to get under wartime conditions. Lenin regarded the Berne resolution as the law and the prophets, and all the rest - for example, his 1915 treatise co-authored with Zinoviev, Socialism and the war - was commentary. The Berne conference was a turning point in Lenin’s wartime activities, so that it makes sense to regard the months from August 1914 through February 1915 as a single episode defined by Lenin’s drive for official party sanction.

Official party endorsement could only come from official party institutions, so Lenin had to plunge into the task (in his own words) of “overcoming tremendous difficulties in re-establishing organisational contacts broken by the war”.3 Of special importance was getting the Bolshevik party newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat up and running once more. The last issue had come out over a year earlier, and Lenin was very irritated that no-one could even remember what number the last issue had been. It took a bit of digging around to ascertain that it had been No32. Thus on November 1 1914, issue No33 of Sotsial-Demokrat rolled off the press containing the text of the manifesto on the war. Lenin now had an official party newspaper that he could refer to as “the central organ”.

Publishing this newspaper ran into all sorts of mundane difficulties, sometimes reaching comic-opera levels of absurdity. For the first issues, the only printer available with Russian fonts was a Ukrainian emigrant named Kuzma. Kuzma was an easy-going fellow who was happy to do jobs for fellow emigrants, but his wife wanted him to restrict himself to more lucrative work and therefore regarded the Bolsheviks almost as personal enemies. The Bolsheviks nicknamed her Kuzmikha, and Lenin’s letters from this period contain frequent requests for “a bulletin of Kuzmikha’s moods”: was she holding up the printing of the newspaper or not?4

The absence of Sotsial-Demokrat helps explain why Lenin wrote comparatively little for publication in September and October 1914: not for lack of something to say or desire to say it, but for lack of an outlet. As soon as Sotsial-Demokrat was up and running, Lenin wrote for it regularly: 10 of his articles appeared in the seven issues of the newspaper that came out in the four months before the Berne conference in late February.

Another party task was re-establishing contact with the Bolsheviks in Russia, particularly in the city now known as Petrograd (a less German-sounding variant of Petersburg). Much of his correspondence with Aleksandr Shliapnikov in Stockholm is devoted to this topic. Lenin wanted to find out what was happening in Russia and also wanted to get party literature containing his own programme into Russia.

When he did find out what the Petrograd Bolsheviks and especially the six-person Duma Bolshevik faction were doing, he was pleased. The duma members had sent off a strong rejoinder to the pro-war Belgian socialist, Emile Vandervelde, and distributed anti-war leaflets. The Petrograd Bolsheviks had reacted in this way without directives from abroad - or rather, if later memoirs tell us true, they followed the directives contained in the Basel Manifesto that also inspired Lenin.5

Lenin’s theses and manifesto were not just academic exercises - in fact, they helped get the duma faction arrested and put on trial, since a copy of the manifesto was found in a police raid on a Bolshevik secret conference (Kamenev was at this meeting and stood trial with the duma Bolsheviks). Thus Lenin’s activist stand had the same effect on the Petrograd Bolsheviks as did his earlier telegram to Shklovsky.

Lenin also engaged in efforts to publicise what could now be called the official Bolshevik programme. He sent the Bolshevik manifesto on the war to the International Socialist Bureau and to French, English and German Social Democratic newspapers. He arranged for the Bolshevik point of view to be presented in various socialist conferences in Stockholm, London and Lugano, Italy. He gave public lectures and showed up to heckle at the speeches by Russian socialists who supported the war. According to the invaluable reference source Biokhronika, he presented his position in public speeches in Berne on October 11, in Lausanne on October 14, in Geneva on October 15, in Montreux on October 26, and in Zurich on October 27. He also showed up to wave the Bolshevik banner at speeches given by Russian Social Democrats with opposing views, including one by speakers from the Bund on October 10, by Plekhanov on October 11, and on December 16 by Martov.6

These speeches were big affairs, with much attacking and counter-attacking. Krupskaya has a vivid account of Lenin’s presence at Plekhanov’s presentation in Lausanne, coming up nervously with a pot of beer in his hand to deliver his refutation.7 Lenin’s presentation of his own position at Zurich in late October was over two hours long, and the ensuing debate was continued the next evening. Lenin’s Russian opponents attended in force. Trotsky, for example, aggressively attacked Lenin, asserting that dismissing Karl Kautsky as a traitor was absurd.

The Biokhronika for these months also informs us about Lenin’s marginal notes on newspaper articles. Putting all these references together makes it abundantly clear that Lenin had embarked on an energetic research project into the socialist response to the outbreak of war. Archival evidence shows that Lenin consulted issues of the following newspapers and journals: La Bataille Syndicaliste, Vorwärts, Die Neue Zeit, Avanti, Volksrecht, L’Humanité, Nashe delo, Arbeiter-Zeitung, Russkie vedomosti, Russkoe slovo, Sozialistische Monatshefte, Berner Tagwacht, Novyi mir, Leipziger Volkszeitung, Le Matin, Nashe slovo, Berliner Tageblatt und Handels-Zeitung, Nasha zaria, Den’, Rech’, Le Temps. His correspondence also reveals his efforts to obtain Russian, Danish and French newspapers. All this reading showed up in his later polemical pamphlets about the war and the collapse of the Second International.

On top of all this, Lenin wrote a 50-page article on Karl Marx (one of the few ways he had of making money) and took extensive notes on Hegel’s Science of logic. His reading was not restricted to Hegel. Library records reveal that he checked out books on a variety of subjects, including the socialist response to the war, colonial policies, the Paris Commune, the American civil war, a mathematics textbook on calculus, and a couple of books about the economic impact of electrification.

We will conclude this account of Lenin’s activities with his own public description of them in early issues of the revived party newspaper:

After overcoming tremendous difficulties in re-establishing organisational contacts broken by the war, a group of party members first drew up ‘theses’ and on September 6-8 … had them circulated among the comrades. Then they were sent to two delegates to the Italo-Swiss conference in Lugano (September 27), through Swiss Social-Democrats. It was only in mid-October that it became possible to re-establish contacts and formulate the viewpoint of the party’s central committee. The leading article in this issue represents the final wording of the ‘theses’.8

We, who have established links with the Russian bureau of the central committee and with the leading elements of the working class movement in St Petersburg, have exchanged opinions with them and become convinced that we are agreed on the main points, are in a position, as editors of the central organ, to declare in the name of our party that only work conducted in this direction is party work and Social Democratic work.9

Lenin’s hectic activities during the first seven months of the war bear little resemblance to the picture given us by writers who imagine Lenin going through a period of agonising rethinking. According to these writers, Lenin was utterly isolated politically, even from his closest allies; he retired for a space from political activity in order to rethink the foundations of Marxism; he then came up with his political programme only after reading Hegel’s Logic. In reality, Lenin had his political programme ready literally from day one, and he immediately plunged into intense political activity to publicise his standpoint and to ensure official party support, which he received.

What programme?

Let us now turn to the content of the programme Lenin so zealously propagated during the war years.

In the theses that Lenin wrote down immediately after arriving in Berne, we find the following basic points:

Kautsky is mentioned by name as an emblem of the centre, whose cover-up of opportunist sins is “the most hypocritical, vulgar and smug sophistry”.12

The resolutions of the Berne conference in February did not change anything of substance.13 Of all the points listed here, the only one to disappear from view was the slogan about the United States of Europe. In the summer of 1915, Lenin came to the conclusion that this slogan, originally meant to call for democratic revolution against the crowned heads of Europe, gave too much aid and comfort to Kautsky’s idea of “super-imperialism”, according to which capitalist countries might find it in their interest to join together to make money, not war. Lenin emphasised that as a political slogan - that is, as it appeared in the manifesto and Berne resolutions - ‘United States of Europe’ still made sense.14

Otherwise, Lenin retracted nothing and added nothing to his basic platform in the years 1914-16. He spent these two years energetically propagating his original platform and defending it against all-comers. We must now ask ourselves: is there something that ties all these particular points together, something that gives Lenin’s programme a political and emotional unity? Yes, and it can be stated as follows: the era of war and revolution that was predicted by pre-war “revolutionary social democracy” is now upon us, and we should act accordingly.15

As Lenin himself put it,

It was none other than Kautsky who, in a series of articles and in his pamphlet The road to power (which appeared in 1909), outlined with full clarity the basic features of the third epoch that has set in, and who noted the fundamental differences between this epoch and the second (that of yesterday), and recognised the change in the immediate tasks as well as in the conditions and forms of struggle of present-day democracy, a change stemming from the changed objective historical conditions … (§)

In the above-mentioned pamphlet, he spoke forthrightly of symptoms of an approaching war, and specifically of the kind of war that became a fact in 1914 … (*)


The idea of a new era of war and revolution ties together the positive points of Lenin’s programme: the two levels of revolution - socialist and democratic; the corresponding two kinds of war - unjustified imperialist war and justified national liberation war; the insistence on the type of tactics mandated by the Basel Manifesto; the targeting of opportunism as the main enemy. But the unifying principle also explains what is new about Lenin’s wartime platform: the sense of betrayal, because the representatives of socialism did not keep their promises, the insistence on a new International, purged of opportunism, and the outrage directed so abundantly at the centre and at Kautsky personally. Here is what the above passage contained hidden behind the ellipses (as marked by the symbols):

(§) Kautsky is now burning that which he worshipped yesterday; his change of front is most incredible, most unbecoming and most shameless …

(*) It would suffice simply to place side by side for comparison a number of passages from that pamphlet and from his present writings to show convincingly how Kautsky has betrayed his own convictions and solemn declarations. In this respect Kautsky is not an individual instance (or even a German instance); he is a typical representative of the entire upper crust of present-day democracy, which, at a moment of crisis, has deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie.

This passage shows how the image of Kautsky bifurcated in Lenin’s mind into ‘Kautsky when he was a Marxist’ v ‘Kautsky, the renegade’. The earlier Kautsky was emblematic of “revolutionary social democracy”, whose principles were still valid and whose honour had still to be upheld. The present-day Kautsky was emblematic of a phenomenon for which Lenin coined the term kautskianstvo. This term is regularly translated ‘Kautskyism’, but that is highly misleading, because it implies that Lenin rejected the views set forth by Kautsky in his pre-war writings. Kautskianstvo is not an ‘ism’ or a set of principles at all, but a type of political conduct: using revolutionary rhetoric to cover up the sins of opportunism. The paradigmatic example of kautskianstvo is Kautsky’s own failure to live up to Kautskyism.

Although Lenin was stunned by what he considered to be the betrayal of the social democratic parties, not for a minute did he lack an explanation for what happened, because he applied the same map of intra-social democratic tendencies that we saw in Kamenev’s pre-war articles. The cause of the betrayal was opportunism. Everyone (that is, all revolutionary social democrats) knew that opportunism was more bourgeois than socialist, everyone knew that it had grown more and more influential during the preceding era of peace and gradual reform - the only surprise was how far the rot had gone.

Craig Nation writes that among the left social democrats who opposed the war “it was axiomatic that after August 4 1914 the Marxism of the Second International would have to be ‘purged of opportunism’”.16 This is a standard formulation, but, as a description of Lenin’s outlook, it is highly misleading: Lenin did not reject the Marxism of the Second International. He rejected the Second International because it naively harboured a serpent within its bosom, opportunism, not realising how deadly its venom was. He nevertheless did not believe that opportunism had infected the actual ideology of pre-war “revolutionary social democracy”. The prescribed remedy was to purge the projected new International of this venom, so that the genuinely revolutionary Marxism of the old International could flourish. As Lenin put it in summer 1915,

The old division of socialists into an opportunist trend and a revolutionary, which was characteristic of the period of the Second International (1889-1914) corresponds, by and large, to the new division into chauvinists and internationalists … Social chauvinism is an opportunism that has matured to such a degree that the continued existence of this bourgeois abscess within the socialist parties has become impossible.17

Lenin’s mobilisation of Kautsky’s three-era framework reveals his attitude. In a polemic from early 1915 with Aleksandr Potresov, one of the most rightwing Russian social democrats, Lenin writes: “The usual division into historical epochs, so often cited in Marxist literature and so many times repeated by Kautsky and adopted in Potresov’s articles, is the following: (1) 1789-1871; (2) 1871-1914; (3) 1914-?” Lenin fully accepted this framework, but he objected to the way Potresov portrayed the second, “peaceful” period that was now coming to an end.

Potresov speaks of this era’s “talent for a smooth and cautious advance”, its “pronounced non-adaptability to any break in gradualness and to catastrophic phenomena of any kind”, and its “exceptional isolation within the sphere of national action”. This description of the era of the Second International is completely standard today - but Lenin strongly objects to it, precisely because “the impression is produced that [the socialism of the second epoch] remained a single whole, which, generally speaking, was pervaded with gradualism, turned nationalist, was by degrees weaned away from breaks in gradualness and from catastrophes”.18

Lenin protests that “in reality this could not have happened”, because class antagonisms were growing rapidly throughout the same period. As a result, “none, literally not one, of the leading capitalist countries of Europe was spared the struggle between the two mutually opposed currents” within the socialist movement. Lenin makes no claim to be the first to grasp the danger of opportunism - on the contrary: “There is hardly a single Marxist of note who has not recognised many times and on various occasions that the opportunists are in fact a non-proletarian element hostile to the socialist revolution.”19

Thus the Bolsheviks defended even their most radical-sounding and contentious slogans as based entirely on the pre-war social democratic consensus. As Zinoviev, Lenin’s closest lieutenant during these years, wrote in February 1916,

When the war started in 1914, our party announced the slogan: civil war! Transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war! In response, we became the object of numerous attacks, starting with those of the social chauvinist, Eduard David, and ending with the ‘leftist’ Russian Kautskyist, L Trotsky. So what did we mean to say when we announced this slogan? We meant to say that the socialists of all countries, in the interest of the working class, were duty-bound to fulfil honestly the obligation that they had undertaken at Stuttgart and at Basel. We meant to say what had been acknowledged hundreds of times by all the leaders of the Second International in the years preceding the war: to wit, that the objective conditions of our era established a connection between war and revolution. Nothing more!

Zinoviev reminded the reader that the essential language from the Stuttgart resolution, taken over by the Basel Manifesto, was adopted on the initiative of the Russian and Polish social democrats. “On the question of the ‘civil war’, the view of our party is essentially the same as it was in 1907.”20

Lesser evil

One theme in the pre-war scenario of global revolutionary interaction that we found in Kautsky and even more in Kamenev is the privileged position of Russia as a country that stood on the cusp between socialist revolution and democratic revolution, between 20th-century revolution and 19th-century revolution, between Europe and Asia. This theme also finds expression in Lenin’s wartime programme in the form of calls for Russia’s defeat. In the words of the resolution passed by the Berne conference, “A victory for Russia will bring in its train a strengthening of reaction, both throughout the world and within the country … In view of this, we consider the defeat of Russia the lesser evil in all conditions.”21

The ‘lesser evil’ formulations appear in all three of the programmatic documents of the first months of the war: the theses written immediately after arriving in Berne, the manifesto published in November, and the resolutions of the Berne conference. Nevertheless, the call for Russia’s defeat as a lesser evil never caught on, not even among the Bolsheviks. As noted by Hal Draper (to whose excellent analysis I am much indebted), “outside of Lenin’s immediate co-workers on the central organ in Berne, particularly Zinoviev in his own peculiar way, we cannot cite any known Bolshevik who defended it, or any section of the party which came to its defence against its critics.”22

The final clash between Lenin and the rest of the Bolsheviks over Russian defeat as the lesser evil came in Lenin’s first ‘Letter from afar’, written in immediate reaction to the fall of the tsar in March 1917 and published in Pravda before Lenin’s arrival in Russia. Lenin claimed that the February revolution had justified the slogan of defeatism, but the Pravda editors in Petrograd simply removed this assertion. Just as in its first use in September 1914, so in its last use in March 1917, Lenin makes it clear that this slogan is referring to Russia’s special position, about “the defeat of the most backward and barbarous tsarist monarchy”. He also makes it clear he is not talking about defeat by the revolution, but defeat inflicted by German troops that facilitated the revolution. Since Lenin himself dropped any and all references to Russian defeat and defeatism after his return to Russia, he cannot have objected too strenuously. On this issue, Lenin joined the rest of the party and not the other way around.23

The reason for the unpopularity of the Russian ‘defeat as lesser evil’ slogan is not far to seek: Russian defeat meant German victory. Lenin’s slogan had Russian revolutionaries calling on the aid of German armies and justifying German ‘social patriots’ who used the evils of tsarism as an excuse for their support of the war effort. This difficulty was immediately apparent to everybody.24 Even Lenin penned an angry letter in November 1914 to German and Austrian social democratic newspapers protesting against the way they used his criticism of the evils of Russian tsarism.25 Faced with this difficulty, Lenin tried to generalise his slogan as a call for everyone’s simultaneous defeat. As Draper well shows, the result was muddled and self-contradictory - and not the productive, ‘dialectic’ sort of self-contradiction. Russia’s special position could not be logically generalised.

Draper explains Lenin’s insistence on that special position as a clash between Lenin’s new and original analysis of imperialist war vs an unconscious hold-over from an earlier era, when proletarian revolutionaries could still choose sides in a war between bourgeois states, depending on whose victory would be more progressive. This explanation is on the right track, once we realise that Lenin’s analysis of imperialist war was not particularly original and that his insistence on the possibility of ‘progressive’ national war was not an unconscious hold-over, but a central feature of his outlook. The scenario of global revolutionary interaction posited two levels of revolution: socialist ones against imperialist regimes; democratic ones against both imperialist and traditional regimes. Proletarian revolutionaries could not choose sides in a war between imperialist powers, but they could and should choose sides in wars for national liberation, even when both sides were ‘bourgeois’.26

Russian tsarism blurred the distinction between the levels of revolution. On the one hand, its participation in the European war made it a sort of honorary imperialist, although it was far from achieving “the highest stage of capitalism”. On the other hand, it was a paradigm of an anti-democratic ancien régime. When looking west, you could not choose sides between Russia and its foes. When looking east, you wanted to see tsarism crumble.

Throughout the war years, Lenin presented himself not as a bold innovator or a fearless rethinker, but as someone faithful to the old verities - as the socialist leader who kept his head, while all about him were losing theirs. This is why he could walk off the train in Berne in September 1914 and start agitating that very day on the basis of a platform that remained unchanged until the fall of the tsar. This is why he had the amazing self-assurance to defy the entire socialist establishment in the name of Marxist orthodoxy l

This is the second and final extract of an essay that will feature in a new book later this year: A Anievas (ed) Cataclysm 1914 (Historical Materialism book series, Brill 2014).


1. OH Gankin and HH Fisher The Bolsheviks and the world war: the origin of the Third International Stanford 1940, p143 (originally 1925).

2. Owing to three first-rate documentary collections, from different times and political perspectives, the background context to Lenin’s activities during 1914-16 is more accessible to those who rely on translations than for any other period in his career: W Walling The socialists and the war New York 1972 (originally published 1915); OH Gankin and HH Fisher The Bolsheviks and the world war: the origin of the Third International Stanford 1940; and J Riddell Lenin’s struggle for a revolutionary International New York 1984. N Krupskaya Reminiscences of Lenin New York 1960 (1933) remains indispensable. I do not discuss the Left Zimmerwald movement in this essay; for this topic, see C Nation War on war: Lenin, the Zimmerwald left and the origins of communist internationalism Durham NC 1989. For background on other Russian socialists during the war, see I Thatcher Leon Trotsky and World War One: August 1914 to February1917 Basingstoke 2000; and M Melancon The Socialist Revolutionaries and the Russian anti-war movement, 1914-1917 Columbus 1990.

3. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64,Vol 21, p37 (November 1914).

4. VA Karpinskii, ‘Stranichki proshlogo’ Vospominaniia o Vladimire Il’iche Lenine, Vol 2, Moscow 1969; VI Lenin CW New York 1960-68, Vol 49, p136 (letter to Sophia Ravitch, August 1915).

5. A Badayev The Bolsheviks in the tsarist duma New York 1973 (1932).

6. Vladimir Il’ich Lenin: Biograficheskaia khronika Vol 3: 1912-17 (1972). The multivolume Biokhronika provides exhaustive information about what Lenin was doing from day to day throughout his career.

7. N Krupskaya Reminiscences of Lenin New York 1960, pp286-88.

8. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, p37 (first issue of Sotsial-Demokrat November 1 1914).

9. Ibid Vol 21, p100 (December 12 1914).

10. The qualifying phrase, “in most cases”, was not in Lenin’s original draft and is evidently the result of consultation with Berne Bolsheviks.

11. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, pp15-19; Gankin and Fisher 1940, pp140-43.

12. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, pp25-34; Gankin and Fisher 1940, pp150-56.

13. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, pp158-64; Gankin and Fisher 1940, pp173-91 (contains valuable memoir accounts and other material concerning the Berne conference).

14. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, p147. On Lenin’s motivations for nixing the slogan of the United Sates of Europe, see ibid Vol 21, p344. Stathis Kouvelakis implies that this slogan was the sole content of Lenin’s original theses of September 1914, thus overestimating both its role in Lenin’s original programme and the significance of its removal (Kouvelakis 2007, pp166-67).

15. Two other candidates for a unifying theme are ‘imperialism’ and ‘conversion of the imperialist war into a civil war’. As important as these themes are, they do not cover all four levels of the scenario of global revolutionary interaction. ‘Revolutionary defeatism’ is a non-starter as a candidate, if only because the phrase cannot be found in Lenin.

16. C Nation War on war: Lenin, the Zimmerwald left and the origins of communist internationalism Durham NC 1989, p229.

17. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, p244 (summer 1915).

18. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, p150-51.

19. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, pp151, 109. Which of these descriptions of the Second International is closer to the standard description found in writers on the left: Lenin’s or that of the ‘liquidationist’, Potresov?

20. G Zinoviev, ‘Encore au sujet de la guerre civile’ (1916), in N Lénine and G Zinoviev Contre le Courant Paris 1970, pp54-55.

21. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, p63.

22. H Draper The myth of Lenin’s ‘revolutionary defeatism’ 1953-54: www.marxists.org/archive/draper/1953/defeat/index.htm.

23. Owing to the unavailability of Lenin’s original draft of ‘Letter from afar’ at the time of writing, Draper incorrectly locates the ‘last gasp’ of Lenin’s defeatism in November 1916. In my forthcoming study of the reasons for the excisions made to Lenin’s draft by the editors of Pravda, I argue that the removal of Lenin’s reference to defeatism is the one clear case of actual censorship of Lenin’s views. Draper convincingly shows that the claim that ‘revolutionary defeatism’ was the unifying principle of Lenin’s wartime views was a post-Lenin invention made for political reasons.

24. For lucid analyses of some of the difficulties of the ‘defeatism’ slogan, see OH Gankin and HH Fisher The Bolsheviks and the world war: the origin of the Third International Stanford 1940, pp146-49 (VA Karpinskii) and pp189-91 (Bukharin). In the November Manifesto itself, there is language that seems to have been inserted as a result of misgivings from Bolsheviks in Petrograd.

25. VI Lenin Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Moscow 1958-64, Vol 21, p42.

26. Ibid Vol 21, pp300-01.