The “Junius” Pamphlet, by Rosa Luxemburg

Written: February - April 1915 (while in prison)
First Published: In Zurich, February 1916, and illegally distributed in Germany
Source: Politische Schriften, p. 229-43, p. 357-72
Translated: (from the German) by Dave Hollis
Transcription/Markup: Dave Hollis/Brian Basgen
Copyleft: Luxemburg Internet Archive ( 1996, 1999, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

The voting of war credits in August 1914 was a shattering moment in the life of individual socialists and of the socialist movement in Europe. Those who had worked for and wholly believed in the ability of organized labor to stand against war now saw the major social democratic parties of Germany, France, and England rush to the defense of their fatherlands. Worker solidarity had proved an impotent myth. Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) had for years warned against the stultifying effects of the overly bureaucratized German Social Democratic Party and the anti-revolutionary tendencies of the trade unions that played such a large role in the party's policy decisions. The abdication of 1914 had proved her right but had also dashed the revolutionary yearnings of a lifetime. While she was able to construct new hope from the revolutionary opportunities presented by the war, Luxemburg could not shake the knowledge that, whatever the outcome, the European working class would pay the greatest price in blood and suffering. Thrice handicapped - a woman, a Pole, and a Jew - Luxemburg was the most eloquent voice of the left wing of German Social Democracy, among the most lucid Marxists of her era, and a constant advocate of radical action. She spent much of the war in jail, where she wrote and then smuggled out the pamphlet excerpted below. Published under the name "Junius," perhaps a reference to Lucius Junius Brutus, a legendary republican hero of ancient Rome, the pamphlet became the guiding statement for the International Group, which became the Spartacus League and ultimately the Communist Party of Germany (January 1, 1919). Luxemburg was instrumental in these developments and, along with Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919), led the Spartacists until their assasination by the German government on January 15, 1919.


Page 2 Chapter 8 (final chapter) of the “Junius” pamphlet.

Page 7 Lenin’s reply to the “Junius” pamphlet.

Chapter 8

In spite of the military dictatorship and censorship of the press, in spite of the abdication of the Social Democrats, in spite of the fratricidal war, the class struggle rises with elemental force from out of the Burgfrieden; [11] and the international solidarity of labor from out of the bloody mists of the battlefield. Not in the weak and artificial attempts to galvanize the old International, not in pledges renewed here and there to stand together again after the war. No! Now in and from the war the fact emerges with a wholly new power and energy that the proletarians of all lands have one and the same interests. The war itself dispels the illusion it has created.

Victory or defeat? Thus sounds the slogan of the ruling militarism in all the warring countries, and, like an echo, the Social Democratic leaders have taken it up. Supposedly, victory or defeat on the battlefield should be for the proletarians of Germany, France, England, or Russia exactly the same as for the ruling classes of these countries. As soon as the cannons thunder, every proletarian should be interested in the victory of his own country and, therefore, in the defeat of the other countries. Let us see what such a victory can bring to the proletariat.

According to official version, adopted uncritically by the Social Democratic leaders, German victory holds the prospect of unlimited economic growth, while defeat means economic ruin. This conception rests upon the pattern of the war of 1870. However, the flourishing capitalism following that war was not the consequence of the war but of the political unification, even though this came in the crippled form of Bismarck's German Empire. Economic growth proceeded out of unification despite the war and the many reactionary obstacles that came in its wake. What the victorious war contributed to all this was the entrenchment of the military monarchy in Germany and the rule of the Prussian Junkers; the defeat of France helped liquidate the [Second] Empire and establish the [Third] Republic.

But today matters are quite different in the belligerent states. Today war does not function as a dynamic method of procuring for rising young capitalism the preconditions of its "national" development. War has this character only in the isolated and fragmentary case of Serbia. Reduced to its historically objective essence, today's world war is entirely a competitive struggle amongst fully mature capitalisms for world domination, for the exploitation of the remaining zones of the world not yet capitalistic. That is why this war is totally different in character and effects. The high degree of economic development in the capitalist world is expressed in the extraordinarily advanced technology, that is, in the destructive power of the weaponry which approaches the same level in all the warring nations. The international organization of the murder industry is reflected now in the military balance, the scales of which always right themselves after partial decisions and momentary changes; a general decision is always and again pushed into the future. The indecisiveness of military results leads to ever new reserves from the population masses of warring and hitherto neutral nations being sent into fire. The war finds abundant material to feed imperialist appetites and contradictions, creates its own supplies of these, and spreads like wildfire. But the mightier the masses and the more numerous the nations dragged into the war on all sides, the more drawn out its existence will be.

Considered all together, and before any decision regarding military victory or defeat has been taken, the effect of the war will be unlike any phenomenon of earlier wars in the modern age: the economic ruin of all belligerents and to an increasing degree that of the formally neutral as well. Every additional month of the war affirms and extends this result and postpones the expected fruits of military success for decades. In the last analysis, neither victory nor defeat can change any of this. On the contrary, it makes a purely military decision extremely unlikely and leads one to conclude the greater probability that the war will end finally with the most general and mutual exhaustion.

In these circumstances a victorious Germany would win but a Pyrrhic victory, even should its imperialistic warmongers succeed in the total defeat of all its enemies through mass murder and thus realize its audacious dream. [Germany's] trophies would be: a few beggared and depopulated territories to annex. Under its own roof would be a leering ruin. And once the stage scenery of war loan financing and the Potemkin villages [12] of war contracts and unshakable national prosperity are pushed aside it will be immediately seen [as the ruin it is]. It must be clear even to the most superficial observer that the most victorious state can not expect any reparations that would even come close to healing the wounds inflicted by this war. A replacement for this and a complement of "victory" would be the perhaps even greater economic ruin of the conquered side: France and England, the very countries most closely connected economically to Germany and upon whose welfare she is most dependent for her own recovery. After a "victorious" war the German people would have to pay back the war credits granted by the patriotic parliament, that is, in reality have to bear an immense burden of taxation while enduring a strengthened military reaction - the only lasting, tangible fruit of "victory."

If we seek to imagine the worst results of a [military] defeat, then, aside from the imperialist annexations, they present feature for feature essentially the same consequences as would have issued from victory. The consequences of waging war are today so deeply embedded and far-reaching in nature that the military outcome has only minimal effects upon it.

Nevertheless, let us accept for the moment, that the victorious state would understand how to throw off the burden of great ruin from itself onto its defeated opponent and to hamstring its economic development with all sorts of obstacles. Can the trade union struggles of the German working class go forward after the war if the union action of the French, English, Belgian, and Italian workers is thwarted by economic regression? Until 1870 the workers' movement operated independently in each country; sometimes key decisions were taken in individual cities. It was in Paris on whose cobblestones the battles of the proletariat were joined and decided. The labor movement of today, [because of] its more arduous daily economic struggle, bases its mass organization on cooperation [with worker movements] in all capitalist countries. If the principle is valid that the workers' cause can flourish only on the basis of a healthy, powerfully pulsating economic life, then it is valid not only for Germany but also for France, England, Belgium, Russia, Italy. And if the workers' movement stagnates in all the capitalist countries of Europe, if there exist low wages, weak unions, and slight resistance to exploitation, then it will be impossible for the trade union movement to thrive in Germany. From this standpoint and in the last analysis, it is exactly the same loss for the situation of the proletariat if German capitalism enriches itself at the cost of the French or the English at the cost of the German.

Let us turn, however, to the political results of the war. Here differentiation ought to be easier than in the economic area. Historically, the sympathies and partisanship of the socialists have been on the side fighting for historical progress and against reaction. Which side in the present war represents progress and which reaction? Clearly, this question cannot be answered on the basis of the superficial labels of the warring states, such as "democracy" or "absolutism." Rather, [the question should be judged] on the actual objective tendencies they represent in world politics. Before we can judge what benefits a German victory would bring to the German proletariat, we must see what the effects [of such a victory] would have upon the overall shape of European political relationships.

The definitive victory of Germany would result in the immediate annexation of Belgium, as well as additional strips of territory in east and west, wherever feasible, and a part of the French colonies. The Habsburg monarchy would be preserved and enriched with new regions. Finally, Turkey, retaining a fictional "integrity," would become a German protectorate which would mean the simultaneous transformation of the Middle East into de facto German provinces, whatever the form. The actual military and economic hegemony of Germany in Europe would logically follow these results.

These results of a decisive German military victory will come about, not because they correspond to the wishes of imperialist agitators in this war, but because they are the wholly inevitable consequences emanating from Germany's position in the world and from the original conflicts with England, France, and Russia that have grown tremendously beyond their initial dimensions during the course of the war. It will suffice to put these results into context by understanding that under no circumstances will it be possible to maintain any sort of balance of power in the world.

The war means ruin for all the belligerents, although more so for the defeated. On the day after the concluding of peace, preparations for a new world war will be begun under the leadership of England in order to throw off the yoke of Prusso-German militarism burdening Europe and the Near East. A German victory would be only a prelude to a soon-to-follow second world war; and this would be the signal for a new, feverish arms race as well as the unleashing of the blackest reaction in all countries, but first and foremost in Germany itself.

On the other hand, an Anglo-French victory would most probably lead to the loss of at least some German colonies, as well as Alsace-Lorraine. Quite certain would be the bankruptcy of German imperialism on the world stage. But that also means the partition of Austria-Hungary and the total liquidation of Turkey. The fall of such arch-reactionary creatures as these two states is wholly in keeping with the demands of progressive development. [But] the fall of the Habsburg monarchy as well as Turkey, in the concrete situation of world politics, can have no other effect than to put their peoples in pawn to Russia, England, France, and Italy. Add to this grandiose redrawing of the world map power shifts in the Balkans and the Mediterranean and a further one in Asia. The liquidation of Persia and a new dismemberment of China will inevitably follow.

In the wake [of these changes] the English-Russian, as well as the English-Japanese, conflict will move into the foreground of world politics. And directly upon the liquidation of this world war, these [conflicts] may lead to a new world war, perhaps over Constantinople, and would certainly make it likely. Thus, from this side, too, [an Anglo-French] victory would lead to a new feverish armaments race among all the states - with defeated Germany obviously in the forefront. An era of unalloyed militarism and reaction would dominate all Europe with a new world war as its ultimate goal.

Thus proletarian policy is locked in a dilemma when trying to decide on which side it ought to intervene, which side represents progress and democracy in this war. In these circumstances, and from the perspective of international politics as a whole, victory or defeat, in political as well as economic terms, comes down to a hopeless choice between two kinds of beatings for the European working classes. Therefore, it is nothing but fatal madness when the French socialists imagine that the military defeat of Germany will strike a blow at the head of militarism and imperialism and thereby pave the way for peaceful democracy in the world. Imperialism and its servant, militarism, will calculate their profits from every victory and every defeat in this war - except in one case: if the international proletariat intervenes in a revolutionary way and puts an end to such calculations.

This war's most important lesson for the policy of the proletariat is the unassailable fact that it cannot parrot the slogan Victory or Defeat, not in Germany or in France, not in England or in Russia. Only from the standpoint of imperialism does this slogan have any real content. For every Great Power it is identical to the question of gain or loss of political standing, of annexations, colonies, and military predominance. From the standpoint of class for the European proletariat as a whole the victory and defeat of any of the warring camps is equally disastrous.

It is war as such, no matter how it ends militarily, that signifies the greatest defeat for Europe's proletariat. It is only the overcoming of war and the speediest possible enforcement of peace by the international militancy of the proletariat that can bring victory to the workers' cause. And in reality this victory alone can simultaneously rescue Belgium as well as democracy in Europe.

The class-conscious proletariat cannot identify with any of the military camps in this war. Does it follow that proletarian policy ought to demand maintenance of the status quo, that we have no other action program beyond the wish that everything should be as it was before the war? But existing conditions have never been our ideal; they have never expressed the self-determination of peoples. Furthermore, the earlier conditions are no longer to be saved; they no longer exist, even if historic state borders continue to exist. Even before its results have been formally established, the war has already brought about immense confusion in power relationships, the reciprocal estimate of forces, of alliances, and conflicts. It has sharply revised the relations between states and of classes within society. So many old illusions and potencies have been destroyed, so many new forces and problems have been created that a return to the old Europe as it existed before August 4, 1914 is out of the question. [It is] as out of the question as a return to pre-revolutionary conditions even after a defeated revolution.

Proletarian policy knows no retreat; it can only struggle forward. It must always go beyond the existing and the newly created. In this sense alone, it is legitimate for the proletariat to confront both camps of imperialists in the world war with a policy of its own.

But this policy can not consist of social democratic parties holding international conferences where they individually or collectively compete to discover ingenious recipes with which bourgeois diplomats ought to make the peace and ensure the further peaceful development of democracy. All demands for complete or partial "disarmament," for the dismantling of secret diplomacy, for the partition of all multinational great states into small national one, and so forth are part and parcel utopian as long as capitalist class domination holds the reins. [Capitalism] cannot, under its current imperialist course, dispense with present-day militarism, secret diplomacy, or the centralized multinational state. In fact, it would be more pertinent for the realization of these postulates to make just one simple "demand": abolition of the capitalist class state.

It is not through utopian advice and schemes to tame, ameliorate, or reform imperialism within the framework of the bourgeois state that proletarian policy can reconquer its leading place. The actual problem that the world war has posed to the socialist parties, upon the solution of which the destiny of the workers' movement depends, is this: the capacity of the proletarian masses for action in the battle against imperialism. The proletariat does not lack for postulates, prognoses, slogans; it lacks deeds, the capacity for effective resistance to imperialism at the decisive moment, to intervene against it during [not after] the war and to convert the old slogan "war against war" into practice. Here is the crux of the matter, the Gordian knot of proletarian politics and its long term future.

Imperialism and all its political brutality, the chain of incessant social catastrophes that it has let loose, is undoubtedly an historical necessity for the ruling classes of the contemporary capitalist world. Nothing would be more fatal for the proletariat than to delude itself into believing that it were possible after this war to rescue the idyllic and peaceful continuation of capitalism. However, the conclusion to be drawn by proletarian policy from the historical necessity of imperialism is that surrender to imperialism will mean living forever in its victorious shadow and eating from its leftovers.

The historical dialectic moves forward by contradiction, and establishes in the world the antithesis of every necessity. Bourgeois class domination is undoubtedly an historical necessity, but, so too, the rising of the working class against it. Capital is an historical necessity, but, so too, its grave digger, the socialist proletariat. Imperialist world domination is an historical necessity, but, so too, its destruction by the proletarian international. Step for step there are two historical necessities in conflict with one another. Ours, the necessity of socialism, has the greater stamina. Our necessity enters into its full rights the moment that the other - bourgeois class domination - ceases to be the bearer of historical progress, when it becomes an obstacle, a danger to the further development of society. The capitalist world order, as revealed by the world war, has today reached this point.

The expansionist imperialism of capitalism, the expression of its highest stage of development and its last phase of existence, produces the [following] economic tendencies: it transforms the entire world into the capitalist mode of production; all outmoded, pre-capitalist forms of production and society are swept away; it converts all the world's riches and means of production into capital, the working masses of all zones into wage slaves. In Africa and Asia, from the northernmost shores to the tip of South America and the South Seas, the remnant of ancient primitive communist associations, feudal systems of domination, patriarchal peasant economies, traditional forms of craftsmanship are annihilated, crushed by capital; whole peoples are destroyed and ancient cultures flattened. All are supplanted by profit mongering in its most modern form.

This brutal victory parade of capital through the world, its way prepared by every means of violence, robbery, and infamy, has its light side. It creates the preconditions for its own final destruction. It put into place the capitalist system of world domination, the indispensable precondition for the socialist world revolution. This alone constitutes the cultural, progressive side of its reputed "great work of civilization" in the primitive lands. For bourgeois-liberal economists and politicians, railroads, Swedish matches, sewer systems, and department stores are "progress" and "civilization." In themselves these works grafted onto primitive conditions are neither civilization nor progress, for they are bought with the rapid economic and cultural ruin of peoples who must experience simultaneously the full misery and horror of two eras: the traditional natural economic system and the most modern and rapacious capitalist system of exploitation. Thus, the capitalist victory parade and all its works bear the stamp of progress in the historical sense only because they create the material preconditions for the abolition of capitalist domination and class society in general. And in this sense imperialism ultimately works for us.

The world war is a turning point. For the first time, the ravening beasts set loose upon all quarters of the globe by capitalist Europe have broken into Europe itself. A cry of horror went through the world when Belgium, that precious jewel of European civilization, and when the most august cultural monuments of northern France fell into shards under the impact of the blind forces of destruction. This same "civilized world" looked on passively as the same imperialism ordained the cruel destruction of ten thousand Herero tribesmen and filled the sands of the Kalahari with the mad shrieks and death rattles of men dying of thirst; [13] [the "civilized world" looked on] as forty thousand men on the Putumayo River [Columbia] were tortured to death within ten years by a band of European captains of industry, while the rest of the people were made into cripples; as in China where an age-old culture was put to the torch by European mercenaries, practiced in all forms of cruelty, annihilation, and anarchy; as Persia was strangled, powerless to resist the tightening noose of foreign domination; as in Tripoli where fire and sword bowed the Arabs beneath the yoke of capitalism, destroyed their culture and habitations. Only today has this "civilized world" become aware that the bite of the imperialist beast brings death, that its very breath is infamy. Only now has [the civilized world] recognized this, after the beast's ripping talons have clawed its own mother's lap, the bourgeois civilization of Europe itself. And even this knowledge is grappled with in the distorted form of bourgeois hypocrisy. Every people recognizes the infamy only in the national uniform of the enemy. "German barbarians!" - as though every people that marches out to do organized murder were not transformed instantly into a barbarian horde. "Cossack atrocities!" - as though war itself were not the atrocity of atrocities, as though the praising of human slaughter as heroism in a socialist youth paper were not the purest example of intellectual cossack-dom!

None the less, the imperialist bestiality raging in Europe's fields has one effect about which the "civilized world" is not horrified and for which it has no breaking heart: that is the mass destruction of the European proletariat. Never before on this scale has a war exterminated whole strata of the population; not for a century have all the great and ancient cultural nations of Europe been attacked. Millions of human lives have been destroyed in the Vosges, the Ardennes, in Belgium, Poland, in the Carpathians, on the Save. Millions have been crippled. But of these millions, nine out of ten are working people from the city and the countryside.

It is our strength, our hope, that is mown down day after day like grass under the sickle. The best, most intelligent, most educated forces of international socialism, the bearers of the holiest traditions and the boldest heroes of the modern workers' movement, the vanguard of the entire world proletariat, the workers of England, France, Belgium, Germany, Russia - these are the ones now being hamstrung and led to the slaughter. These workers of the leading capitalist countries of Europe are exactly the ones who have the historical mission of carrying out the socialist transformation. Only from out of Europe, only from out of the oldest capitalist countries will the signal be given when the hour is ripe for the liberating social revolution. Only the English, French, Belgian, German, Russian, Italian workers together can lead the army of the exploited and enslaved of the five continents. When the time comes, only they can settle accounts with capitalism's work of global destruction, with its centuries of crime committed against primitive peoples.

But to push ahead to the victory of socialism we need a strong, activist, educated proletariat, and masses whose power lies in intellectual culture as well as numbers. These masses are being decimated by the world war. The flower of our mature and youthful strength, hundreds of thousands of whom were socialistically schooled in England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Russia, the product of decades of educational and agitational training, and other hundreds of thousands who could be won for socialism tomorrow, fall and molder on the miserable battlefields. The fruits of decades of sacrifice and the efforts of generations are destroyed in a few weeks. The key troops of the international proletariat are torn up by the roots.

The blood-letting of the June days [1848] paralyzed the French workers' movement for a decade and a half. Then the blood-letting of the Commune massacres again retarded it for more than a decade. What is now occurring is an unprecedented mass slaughter that is reducing the adult working population of all the leading civilized countries to women, old people, and cripples. This blood-letting threatens to bleed the European workers' movement to death. Another such world war and the outlook for socialism will be buried beneath the rubble heaped up by imperialist barbarism. This is more [significant] than the ruthless destruction of Liege and the Rheims cathedral. This is an assault, not on the bourgeois culture of the past, but on the socialist culture of the future, a lethal blow against that force which carries the future of humanity within itself and which alone can bear the precious treasures of the past into a better society. Here capitalism lays bear its death's head; here it betrays the fact that its historical rationale is used up; its continued domination is no longer reconcilable to the progress of humanity.

The world war today is demonstrably not only murder on a grand scale; it is also suicide of the working classes of Europe. The soldiers of socialism, the proletarians of England, France, Germany, Russia, and Belgium have for months been killing one another at the behest of capital. They are driving the cold steel of murder into each other's hearts. Locked in the embrace of death, they tumble into a common grave.

"Deutschland, Deutschland ?ber Alles! Long live democracy! Long live the Tsar and Slav-dom! Ten thousand tarpaulins guaranteed up to regulations! A hundred thousand kilos of bacon, coffee-substitute for immediate delivery!"...Dividends are rising, and the proletarians are falling. And with every one there sinks into the grave a fighter of the future, a soldier of the revolution, mankind's savior from the yoke of capitalism.

The madness will cease and the bloody demons of hell will vanish only when workers in Germany and France, England and Russia finally awake from their stupor, extend to each other a brotherly hand, and drown out the bestial chorus of imperialist war-mongers and the shrill cry of capitalist hyenas with labor's old and mighty battle cry:

Proletarians of all lands, unite!

11. The Burgfrieden, literally the "peace of the castle" imposed upon all those seeking shelter in a fortified spot during the Middle Ages, signified the political truce agreed upon by the political parties represented in the Reichstag at the outbreak of the war. After voting the credits that made the war financially possible, members of the Reichstag suspended further elections for the duration of hostilities and declared a cessation of "politics." Essentially, the civilian sector abdicated its responsibility to participate in policy making, leaving all major decisions in the hands of the kaiser's government and then in those of the general staff of the armed forces. This behavior contrasted sharply with that of the western democracies where, all through the war, it was "politics as usual." Only toward the end of the war, did the Reichstag reconquer some of the lost ground of 1914.

12. Count Gregory Alexandrovich Potemkin (1724-91) was said to have deceived Catherine the Great of Russia with cardboard facades of new villages he was supposed to have constructed.

13. The Herero tribesmen rebelled against German control of their homeland in Southwest Africa, 1903-07. During the brutal wars of pacification, German troops forced men, women, and children into the Kalahari desert where many perished. The extraction of rubber from along the Putumayo River was accompanied by horrifying exploitation of native laborers.

Vladimir Lenin

The Junius Pamphlet

Written: July, 1916
First Published: August 1916 in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No.1
Source: Lenin's Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 22, 1964, pp. 305-319
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive ( March, 2000
HTML Markup\Transcription: Charles Farrell and David Walters

At last there has appeared in Germany, illegally, without any adaptation to the despicable Junker censorship, a Social-Democratic pamphlet dealing with questions of the war! The author, who evidently belongs to the "Left-radical" wing of the Party, signs himself Junius (which in Latin means junior) and gave his pamphlet the title: The Crisis of Social-Democracy. Appended are the "Theses on the Tasks of International Social-Democracy," which have already been submitted to the Berne I.S.C. (International Socialist Committee) and published in No. 3 of its Bulletin; the theses were drafted by the "International" group, which in the spring of 1915 published one issue of a magazine under that title (with articles by Zetkin, Mehring, R. Luxemburg, Thalheimer, Duncker, Suobd. and others), and which in the winter of 1915-16 convened a conference of Social-Democrats from all parts of Germany at which these theses were adopted.

The pamphlet, the author says in the introduction dated January 2, 1916, was written in April, 1915, and published "without any alteration". "Outside circumstances" prevented it from being published earlier. The pamphlet is devoted not so much to the "crisis of Social-Democracy" as to an analysis of the war, to refuting the legend of its being a war for national liberation, to proving that it is an imperialist war on the part of Germany as well as on the part of the other Great Powers, and to a revolutionary criticism of the behaviour of the official party. Written in a very lively style, Junius' pamphlet has undoubtedly played and will play an important role in the struggle against the ex-Social-Democratic Party of Germany, which has deserted to the side of the bourgeoisie and the Junkers, and we heartily greet the author.

To the Russian reader who is familiar with the Social-Democratic Literature published abroad in Russian in 1914-16, Junius' pamphlet offers nothing new in principle. But in reading this pamphlet and comparing the arguments of this German revolutionary Marxist with what has been stated, for example, in the manifesto of the Central Committee of our Party (September-November, 1914) in the Berne resolutions (March, 1915) and in the numerous commentaries on them, it becomes dear that Junius' arguments are very incomplete and that he commits two errors. Proceeding to criticise Junius' faults and errors we must strongly emphasise that we do so for the sake of self criticism, which is so necessary for Marxists, and of submitting to an all-round test the views which must serve as the ideological basis of the Third International. On the whole, Junius' pamphlet is a splendid Marxian work, and in all probability its defects are, to a certain extent, accidental.

The chief defect in Junius' pamphlet, and what marks a definite step backward compared with the legal (although immediately suppressed) magazine, international, is its silence regarding the connection between social-chauvinism (the author uses neither this nor the less precise term social-patriotism) and opportunism. The author rightly speaks of the "capitulation" and collapse of the German Social-Democratic Party and of the "treachery" of its "official leaders," but he goes no further than this. The International, however, did criticise the "Centre," i.e., Kautskyism, and quite properly poured ridicule on it for its spinelessness, its prostitution of Marxism and its servility to the opportunists. This magazine also began to expose the ro1e the opportunists are really playing by making known, for example, the very important fact that on August 4, 1914, the opportunists came forth with an ultimatum, with their minds made up to vote for the war credits under any circumstances. Neither in Junius' pamphlet nor in the theses is anything said about opportunism or about Kautskyism! This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, for it is impossible to explain the "betrayal" without linking it up with opportunism as a trend with a long history, the history of the whole Second International. It is a mistake from the practical-political standpoint, for it is impossible to understand the "crisis of Social-Democracy" or overcome it without making clear the meaning and the ro1e of two trends: the avowedly opportunist trend (Legien, David etc.) and the masked opportunist trend (Kautsky and Co.). This is a step backward compared with the historic article by Otto Ruhle in Vorwarts of January 13, 1916, in which he directly and openly pointed out that a split in the Social-Democratic Party of Germany was inevitable (the editors of the Vortwarts answered him by repeating honeyed and hypocritical Kautskyist phrases, for they were unable to advance a single material argument to disprove the assertion that there were already two parties in existence, and that these two parties could not be reconciled). It is astonishingly inconsistent, because the international thesis No. 12 directly states that it is necessary to create a "new" International, owing to the "treachery" of the "official representatives of the Socialist Parties of the leading countries" and their "adoption of the principles of bourgeois imperialist politics." Clearly, to suggest that the old Social-Democratic Party of Germany, or parties which tolerate Legien, David and Co, would participate in a "new" International is simply ridiculous.

We do not know why the international group took this step backward. A very great defect in revolutionary Marxism in Germany as a whole is its lack of a compact illegal organisation that would systematically pursue its line and educate the masses in the spirit of the new tasks; such an organisation would also have to take a definite stand towards opportunism and Kautskyism. This is all the more necessary now, since the German revolutionary Social-Democrats have been deprived of their last two daily papers: the one in Bremen (Bremen Burgerzeitung), and the one in Brunswick (Volksfreund), both of which have gone over to the Kautskyists. That the "International Socialists of Germany" (I.S.D.) group alone remains at its post is definitely clear to everybody.

Some members of the international group have evidently slipped once again into the morass of unprincipled Kautskyism. Strobel, for instance, went so far as to make obeisance, in the Neue Zeit, to Bernstein and Kautsky! And only the other day, on August 15, 1916, he had an article in the papers entitled "Pacifism and Social-Democracy," in which he defends the most vulgar type of Kautskyian pacifism. Junius, however, strongly opposes Kautsky's fantastic schemes for "disarmament," "abolition of secret diplomacy" etc. Perhaps there are two trends in the international group: a revolutionary trend and a trend wavering in the direction of Kautskyism.

The first of Junius' erroneous postulates, the first is contained in the International group's thesis No. 5: "In the epoch (era) of this unbridled imperialism, there can be no more national wars. National interests serve only as an instrument of deception, to deliver the masses of the toiling people into the service of their mortal enemy, imperialism...." This postulate is the end of thesis No. 5, the first part of which is devoted to the description of the present war as an imperialist war. The repudiation of national wars in general may either be an oversight or a fortuitous over-emphasis of the perfectly correct idea that the present war is an imperialist war and not a national war. But as the opposite may be true, as various Social-Democrats mistakenly repudiate all national wars because the present war is falsely represented to be a national war, we are obliged to deal with this mistake.

Junius is quite right in emphasising the decisive influence of the "imperialist background" of the present war, when he says that behind Serbia there is Russia, "behind Serbian nationalism there is Russian imperialism"; that even if a country like Holland took part in the present war, she too would be waging an imperialist war, because, firstly, Holland would be defending her colonies, and, secondly, she would be an ally of one of the imperialist coalitions. This is indisputable in relation to the present war. And when Junius lays particular emphasis on what to him is the most important point: the struggle against the "phantom of national war, which at present dominates Social-Democratic policy" (p. 81, Junius' pamphlet), we cannot but agree that his reasoning is correct and quite appropriate.

But it would be a mistake to exaggerate this truth; to depart from the Marxian rule to be concrete; to apply the appraisal of the present war to all wars that are possible under imperialism; to lose sight of the national movements against imperialism. The only argument that can be used in defence of the thesis: "there can be no more national wars" is that the world has been divided up among a handful of "Great" imperialist powers, and, therefore, every war, even if it starts as a national war, is transformed into an imperialist war and affects the interests of one of the imperialist Powers or coalitions (p. 81 of Junius' pamphlet).

The fallacy of this argument is obvious. Of course, the fundamental proposition of Marxian dialectics is that all boundaries in nature and society are conventional and mobile, that there is not a single phenomenon which cannot under certain conditions be transformed into its opposite. A national war can be transformed into an imperialist war, and vice versa. For example, the wars of the Great French Revolution started as national wars and were such. They were revolutionary wars because they were waged in defence of the Great Revolution against a coalition of counter-revolutionary monarchies. But after Napoleon had created the French Empire by subjugating a number of large, virile, long established national states of Europe, the French national wars became imperialist wars, which in their turn engendered wars for national liberation against Napoleon's imperialism.

Only a sophist would deny that there is a difference between imperialist war and national war on the grounds that one can be transformed into the other. More than once, even in the history of Greek philosophy, dialectics have served as a bridge to sophistry. We, however, remain dialecticians and combat sophistry, not by a sweeping denial of the possibility of transformation in general, but by concretely analysing a given phenomenon in the circumstances that surround it and in its development.

It is highly improbable that this imperialist war of 1914-16 will be transformed into a national war, because the class that represents progress is the proletariat, which, objectively, is striving to transform this war into civil war against the bourgeoisie; and also because the strength of both coalitions is almost equally balanced, while international finance capital has everywhere created a reactionary bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that such a transformation is impossible: if the European proletariat were to remain impotent for another twenty years; if the present war were to end in victories similar to those achieved by Napoleon, in the subjugation of a number of virile national states; if imperialism outside of Europe (primarily American and Japanese) were to remain in power for another twenty years without a transition to socialism, say, as a result of a Japanese-American war, then a great national war in Europe would be possible. This means that Europe would be thrown back for several decades. This is improbable. But it is not impossible, for to picture world history as advancing smoothly and steadily without sometimes taking gigantic strides backward is undialectical, unscientific and theoretically wrong.

Further, national wars waged by colonial, and semi-colonial countries are not only possible but inevitable in the epoch of imperialism. The colonies and semi-colonies (China, Turkey, Persia) have a population of nearly one billion, i.e., more than half the population of the earth. In these countries the movements for national liberation are either very strong already or are growing and maturing. Every war is a continuation of politics by other means. The national liberation politics of the colonies will inevitably be continued by national wars of the colonies against imperialism. Such wars may lead to an imperialist war between the present "Great" imperialist Powers or they may not; that depends on many circumstances.

For example: England and France were engaged in a seven years war for colonies, i.e., they waged an imperialist war (which is as possible on the basis of slavery, or of primitive capitalism, as on the basis of highly developed modern capitalism). France was defeated and lost part of her colonies. Several years later the North American States started a war for national liberation against England alone. Out of enmity towards England, i.e., in conformity with their own imperialist interests, France and Spain, which still held parts of what are now the United States, concluded friendly treaties with the states that had risen against England. The French forces together with the American defeated the English. Here we have a war for national liberation in which imperialist rivalry is a contributory element of no great importance, which is the opposite of what we have in the war of 1914-16 (in which the national element in the Austro-Serbian war is of no great importance compared with the all determining imperialist rivalry). This shows how absurd it would be to employ the term imperialism in a stereotyped fashion by deducing from it that national wars are "impossible." A war for national liberation waged, for example, by an alliance of Persia, India and China against certain imperialist Powers is quite possible and probable, for it follows logically from the national liberation movements now going on in those countries. Whether such a war will be transformed into an imperialist war among the present imperialist Powers will depend on a great many concrete circumstances, and it would be ridiculous to guarantee that these circumstances will arise.

Thirdly, national wars must not be regarded as impossible in the epoch of imperialism even in Europe. The "epoch of imperialism" made the present war an imperialist war; it inevitably engenders (until the advent of socialism) new imperialist war; it transformed the policies of the present Great Powers into thoroughly imperialist policies. But this "epoch" by no means precludes the possibility of national wars, waged, for example, by small (let us assume, annexed or nationally oppressed) states against the imperialist Powers, any more than it precludes the possibility of big national movements in Eastern Europe. With regard to Austria, for example, Junius shows sound judgment in taking into account not only the "economic," but also the peculiar political situation, in noting Austria's "inherent lack of vitality" and admitting that "the Hapsburg monarchy is not a political organisation of a bourgeois state, but only a loosely knit syndicate of several cliques of social parasites," that "historically, the liquidation of Austria-Hungary is merely the continuation of the disintegration of Turkey and at the same time a demand of the historical process of development." The situation is no better in certain Balkan states and in Russia. And in the event of the "Great Powers" becoming extremely exhausted in the present war, or in the event of a victorious revolution in Russia, national wars, even victorious ones, are quite possible. On the one hand, intervention by the imperialist powers is not possible under all circumstances. On the other hand, when people argue haphazardly that a war waged by a small state against a giant state is hopeless, we must say that a hopeless war is war nevertheless, and, moreover, certain events within the "giant" states—for example, the beginning of a revolution—may transform a "hopeless" war into a very "hopeful" one.

The fact that the postulate that "there can be no more national wars" is obviously fallacious in theory is not the only reason why we have dealt with this fallacy at length. It would be a very deplorable thing, of course, if the "Lefts" began to be careless in their treatment of Marxian theory, considering that the Third International can be established only on the basis of Marxism, unvulgarised Marxism. But this fallacy is also very harmful in a practical political sense; it gives rise to the stupid propaganda for "disarmament," as if no other war but reactionary wars are possible; it is the cause of the still more stupid and downright reactionary indifference towards national movements. Such indifference becomes chauvinism when members of "Great" European nations, i.e., nations which oppress a mass of small and colonial peoples, declare with a learned air that "there can be no more national wars!" National wars against the imperialist Powers are not only possible and probable, they are inevitable, they are progressive and revolutionary, although, of course, what is needed for their success is either the combined efforts of an enormous number of the inhabitants of the oppressed countries (hundreds of millions in the example we have taken of India and China), or a particularly favourable combination of circumstances in the international situation (for example, when the intervention of the imperialist Powers is paralysed by exhaustion, by war, by their mutual antagonisms, etc.), or a simultaneous uprising of the proletariat of one of the Great Powers against the bourgeoisie (this latter case stands first in order from the standpoint of what is desirable and advantageous for the victory of the proletariat).

We must state, however, that it would be unfair to accuse Junius of being indifferent to national movements. When enumerating the sins of the Social-Democratic Parliamentary group, he does at least mention their silence in the matter of the execution of a native leader in the Cameroons for "treason" (evidently for an attempt at insurrection in connection with the war); and in another place he emphasises (for the special benefit of Messrs. Legien, Lensch and similar scoundrels who call themselves "Social-Democrats") that colonial nations are also nations. He declares very definitely: "Socialism recognises for every people the right to independence and freedom, the right to be masters of their own destiny.... International socialism recognises the right of free, independent, equal nations, but only socialism can create such nations, only socialism can establish the right of nations to self-determination. This slogan of socialism," justly observes the author, "like all its other slogans, serves, not to justify the existing order of things, but as a guide post, as a stimulus to the revolutionary, reconstructive, active policy of the proletariat." (p. 77-78) Consequently, it would be a profound mistake to suppose that all the Left German Social-Democrats have stooped to the narrow-mindedness and distortion of Marxism advocated by certain Dutch and Polish Social-Democrats, who repudiate self-determination of nations even under socialism. However, we shall deal with the special Dutch and Polish sources of this mistake elsewhere.

Another fallacious argument advanced by Junius is in connection with the question of defence of the fatherland. This is a cardinal political question during an imperialist war. Junius has strengthened us in our conviction that our Party has indicated the only correct approach to this question: the proletariat is opposed to defence of the fatherland in this imperialist war because of its predatory, slave-owning, reactionary character, because it is possible and necessary to oppose to it (and to strive to convert it into) civil war for socialism. Junius, however, while brilliantly exposing the imperialist character of the present war as distinct from a national war, falls into the very strange error of trying to drag a national programme into the present non-national war. It sounds almost incredible, but it is true.

The official Social-Democrats, both of the Legien and of the Kautsky shade, in their servility to the bourgeoisie, who have been making the most noise about foreign "invasion" in order to deceive the masses of the people as to the imperialist character of the war, have been particularly assiduous in repeating this "invasion" argument. Kautsky, who now assures naive and credulous people (incidentally, through the mouth of "Spectator," a member of the Russian Organization Committee) that he joined the opposition at the end of 1914, continues to use this "argument"! To refute it, Junius quotes extremely instructive examples from history, which prove that "invasion and class struggle are not contradictory in bourgeois history, as the official legend has it, but that one is the means and the expression of the other." For example, the Bourbons in France invoked foreign invaders against the Jacobins; the bourgeoisie in 1871 invoked foreign invaders against the Commune. In his //Civil War in France//, Marx wrote:


"The highest heroic effort of which old society is still capable is national war; and this is now proved to be a mere governmental humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes, and to be thrown aside as soon as that class struggle bursts out in civil war."


"The classical example for all times," says Junius, referring to 1793, "is the Great French Revolution." From all this, he draws the following conclusion: "Century-old experience thus proves that it is not a state of siege, but heroic class struggle, which rouses the self-respect, the heroism and the moral strength of the masses of the people, and serves as the country's best protection and defence against the foreign enemy."

Junius' practical conclusion is this:

"Yes, it is the duty of the Social-Democrats to defend their country during a great historical crisis. But the grave guilt that rests upon the Social-Democratic Reichstag group lies precisely in that, in solemnly declaring, on August 4, 1914, that 'In the hour of danger we will not leave our fatherland unprotected,' they at the same time belied those words. They did leave the fatherland unprotected in the hour of greatest peril. For their first duty to the fatherland in that hour was to show the fatherland what was really behind the present imperialist war; to tear down the web of patriotic and diplomatic lies with which this encroachment on the fatherland was enmeshed; to proclaim loudly and dearly that both victory and defeat in the present war are equally fatal for the German people; to resist to the last the throttling of the fatherland by declaring a state of siege; to proclaim the necessity of immediately arming the people and of allowing the people to decide the question of war and peace; resolutely to demand a permanent session of the people's representatives for the whole duration of the war in order to guarantee vigilant central over the government by the people's representatives, and the control over the people's representatives by the people; to demand the immediate abolition of all restrictions on political rights, for only a free people can successfully defend its country; and, finally, to oppose the imperialist war programme, which is to preserve Austria and Turkey, i.e., perpetuate reaction in Europe and in Germany, with the old, truly national programme of the patriots and democrats of 1848, the programme of Marx, Engels and Lassalle: the slogan of a united, Great German republic. This is the banner that should have been unfurled before the country, which would have been a truly national banner of liberation, which would have been in accord with the best traditions of Germany and with the international class policy of the proletariat.... Hence, the grave dilemma—the interests of the fatherland or the international solidarity of the proletariat—the tragic conflict which prompted our parliamentarians 'with a heavy heart' to side with the imperialist war, is purely imaginary, it is bourgeois nationalist fiction. On the contrary, there is complete harmony between the interests of the country and the class interests of the proletarian International, both in time of war and in time of peace; both war and peace demand the most energetic development of the class struggle, the most determined fight for the Social-Democratic programme."

This is how Junius argues. The fallacy of his argument is strikingly evident, and since the masked and avowed lackeys of tsarism, Messrs. Plekhanov and Chkhenkeli, and perhaps even Messrs. Martov and Chkheidze may gloatingly seize upon Junius' words, not for the purpose of establishing theoretical truth, but for the purpose of wriggling, of covering up their tracks and of throwing dust in the eyes of the workers, we must in greater detail elucidate the theoretical source of Junius' error.

He proposes to "oppose" the imperialist war with a national programme. He urges the advanced class to turn its face to the past and not to the future! In France, in Germany, and in the whole of Europe it was a bourgeois-democratic revolution that, objectively, was on the order of the day in 1793 and 1848. Corresponding to this objective historical situation was the "truly national," i.e., the national bourgeois programme of the then existing democracy; in 1793 this programme was carried out by the most revolutionary elements of the bourgeoisie and the plebeians, and in 1848 it was proclaimed by Marx in the name of the whole of progressive democracy. Objectively, the feudal and dynastic wars were then opposed with revolutionary democratic wars, with wars for national liberation. This was the content of the historical tasks of that epoch.

At the present time the objective situation in the biggest advanced states of Europe is different. Progress, if we leave out the possibility of temporary steps backward, is possible only towards socialist society, only towards the socialist revolution. Objectively, the imperialist bourgeois war, the war of highly developed capitalism, can, from the standpoint of progress, from the standpoint of the progressive class, be opposed only with a war against the bourgeoisie, i.e., primarily civil war between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie for power; for unless such a war is waged serious progress is impossible; and after that—only under certain special conditions—a war to defend the socialist state against bourgeois stares is possible. That is why those Bolsheviks (fortunately, very few, and we quickly handed them over to the Prizyv-ists) who were ready to adapt the point of view of conditional defence, i.e., of defending the fatherland on the condition that there was a victorious revolution and the victory of a republic in Russia, were true to the letter of Bolshevism, but betrayed its spirit: 48 for being drawn into the imperialist war of the advanced European Powers, Russia, even under a republican form of government, would also be waging an imperialist war!

In saying that class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion, Junius applied Marxian dialectics only halfway, taking one step on the right road and immediately deviating from it. Manrian dialectics call for a concrete analysis of each specific historical situation. That class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion is true both with regard to the bourgeoisie, which is overthrowing feudalism, and with regard to the proletariat, which is overthrowing the bourgeoisie. Precisely because it is true with regard to every form of class oppression, it is too general, and therefore, inadequate in the present specific case. Civil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle, and only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe (the whole of Europe, not only one country) from the peril of invasion. The "Great German Republic" had it existed in 1914-16, would also have waged an imperialist war.

Junius came very close to the correct solution of the problem and to the correct slogan: civil war against the bourgeoisie for socialism; but, as if afraid to speak the whole truth, he turned back to the fantasy of a "national war" in 1914, 1915 and 1916. Even if we examine the question from the purely practical and not theoretical angle, Junius' error remains no less clear. The whole of bourgeois society, all classes in Germany, including the peasantry, were in favour of war (in all probability the same was the case in Russia—at least a majority of the well-to-do and middle peasantry and a very considerable portion of the poor peasants were evidently under the spell of bourgeois imperialism). The bourgeoisie was armed to the teeth. Under such circumstances to "proclaim" the programme of a republic, a permanent parliament, election of officers by the people (the "armed nation"), etc., would have meant, in practice, "proclaiming" a revolution (with a wrong revolutionary programme!).

In the same breath Junius quite rightly says that a revolution cannot be "made." Revolution was on the order of the day in 1914-16, it was hidden in the depths of the war, was emerging out of the war. This should have been "proclaimed" in the name of the revolutionary class, and its programme should have been fearlessly and fully announced: socialism is impossible in time of war without civil war against the arch-reactionary, criminal bourgeoisie, which condemned the people to untold disaster. Systematic, consistent, practical measures should have been thought out, which could be carried out no matter what the rate of development of the revolutionary crisis might have been, and which would be in line with the maturing revolution. These measures are indicated in the resolution of our Party: 1) voting against war credits; 2) violation of "civil peace"; 3) creation of an illegal organisation; 4) fraternisation among the soldiers; 5) support to all the revolutionary actions of the masses. The success of all these steps inevitably leads to civil war.

The promulgation of a great historical programme was undoubtedly of tremendous significance; not the old national German programme, which became obsolete in 1914-16, but the proletarian international and socialist programme. "You, the bourgeoisie, are fighting for plunder; we, the workers of all the belligerent countries, declare war upon you for socialism"—this is the sort of speech that should have been delivered in the Parliaments on August 4, 1914, by Socialists who had not betrayed the proletariat, as the Legiens, Davids, Kautskys, Plekhanovs, Guesdes, Sembats, etc. betrayed it.

Evidently Junius' error is due to two mistakes in reasoning. There is no doubt that Junius is decidedly opposed to the imperialist war and is decidedly in favor of revolutionary tactics; and all Messrs. Plehhanovs' gloating over Junius' "defencism" cannot wipe out this fact. Possible and probable calumnies of this kind must be answered promptly and bluntly.

But, firstly, Junius has not completely rid himself of the "environment" of the German Social-Democrats, even the Lefts, who are afraid of a split, who are afraid to follow revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusions. (1) This is a mistaken fear, and the Left Social-Democrats of Germany must and will rid themselves of it. They will do so in the course of the struggle against the social-chauvinists. The fact is that they are fighting against their own social-chauvinists resolutely, firmly and sincerely, and this is the tremendous, the fundamental difference in principle between them and Messrs. Martovs and Chkheidzes, who, with one hand (a la Skobelev) unfurl a banner bearing the greeting, "To the Liebknechts of All Countries," and with the other hand tenderly embrace Chkhenkeli and Potresov!

Secondly, Junius apparently wanted to achieve something in the nature of the Menshevik "theory of stages," of sad memory; he wanted to begin to carry out the revolutionary programme from the end that is "more suitable," "more popular" and more acceptable to the petty-bourgeoisie. It is something like the plan "to outwit history," to outwit the philistines. He seems to say: surely, nobody would oppose a better way of defending the real fatherland; that real fatherland is the Great German Republic, and the best defence is a militia, a permanent parliament, etc. Once it was accepted, that programme would automatically lead to the next stage-to the socialist revolution.

Probably, it was reasoning of this kind that consciously or semi-consciously determined Junius' tactics. Needless to say, such reasoning is fallacious, Junius' pamphlet conjures up in our mind the picture of a lone man who has no comrades in an illegal organisation accustomed to thinking out revolutionary slogans to their conclusion and systematically educating the masses in their spirit. But this shortcoming—it would be a grave error to forget this-is not Junius' personal failing, but the result of the weakness of all the German Lefts, who have become entangled in the vile net of Kautskyist hypocrisy, pedantry and "friendliness" towards the opportunists. Junius' adherents have managed in spite of their isolation to begin the publication of illegal leaflets and to start the war against Kautskyism. They will succeed in going further along the right road.


[1] We find the same error in Junius' arguments about which is better, victory or defeat His conclusion is that both are equally bad (ruin, growth of armaments, etc.). This is the point of view not of the revolutionary proletariat, bur of the pacifist petty bourgeois. If we speak about the "revolutionary intervention" of the proletariat—of this both Junius and the thews of the International group speak, although unfortunately in too general terms—then we must raise the question from another point of view, namely: I) Is "revolutionary intervention" possible without the risk of defeat! 2) Is it possible to scourge the bourgeoisie and the government of one's own country without taking that risk; 3) Have we not always asserted, and does not the historical experience of reactionary wars prove, that defeats help the cause of the revolutionary class?