Imperialist wars and Bolsheviks

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Imperialist wars and Bolsheviks

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Articles related to the First World War is based on the Russian originals written in the book “Imperialist wars and Bolsheviks” Yakelova dated 1924, and “Anniversary of World War”, by Ohitovich  dated 1925.

Any existing translation of articles has been compared with the new translation and revised if and when it was deemed necessary. 

Book has documents and articles in two sections, 1st WW and 2nd WW. Both wars were imperialist but with distinctive characteristics of each.  That is why it is important to read and understand the attitude differences in each war. 

As always, this book has no copyrights, shared free for interested readers.

It is a compilation of articles we researched, translated, read, and found important for others to read.



It is important to note that the approach to the war in Ukraine is slowly but surely drawing the demarcation line between Marxism Leninism and Liberalism, between the idealist abstractionist and dialectic approach. Marxist "teaching is not a dogma, but a guide to action, Marx and Engels always used to say, rightly ridiculing the learning and repetition by rote of 'formulas' which at best are only capable of outlining general tasks that are necessarily liable to be modified by the concrete economic and political conditions. 

It is essential to realize the incontestable truth that a Marxist must take cognizance of real life, of the concrete realities, and must not continue to cling to a theory of yesterday."(1) Practice of applying general principles and rules as prescription formulas for the determination of the tactics and stands to be taken in a given situation is a betrayal to the sole of Marxism and its dialectics. “In politics, in which sometimes extremely complicated—national and international—relationships have to be dealt with, but it would be absurd to concoct a recipe, or general rule that would serve in all cases. One must have the brains to analyze the situation in each separate case.” (2) “Marxism requires of us a strictly exact and objectively verifiable analysis of the relation of classes and of the concrete features peculiar to each historical situation.” (3) “Relations of classes” is not limited to the relations between the competing monopoly-capitalist classes, but in their direct relation to the working classes.

The political aims of monopoly capitalists in their relations and conflicts will always have an effect on the life and struggle of the working class.  “Concrete political aims must be set in concrete circumstances. All things are relative, all things flow, and all things change.” (4) The approach to each and every war cannot be based on the generalization of “wars” and prescriptive application of to all. To consider the matter concretely does not mean to examine the “era “and apply the formula fits that “era”. To hold such a view “says Lenin, “is to reduce the whole thing to an absurdity and apply a ridiculous stereotype in place of a concrete analysis of each separate war.” (5)

“Marxist dialectical method forbids the employment of “ready-made schemes” and abstract formulas, The dialectical method demands, first, that we should consider things, not each by itself, but always in their interconnection with other things. (6) “Genuine dialectics,” Lenin wrote, proceeds “by means of a thorough, detailed analysis of a process in all its concreteness. The fundamental thesis of dialectics is: there is no such thing as abstract truth, truth is always concrete.” (7) Because the strategy, tactics and stands of Communists derive from the interests of the working class and of their struggle and are guided by Marx’s principle that “they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.” (8) In order not to err in policy, in order not to find itself in the position of idle dreamers, the party of the proletariat must not base its activities on abstract "principles of human reason," but on the concrete conditions of the material life of society.” (9)

“For a Marxist,” says Lenin,” clarifying the nature of the war is a necessary preliminary for deciding the question of his attitude to it. But for such a clarification it is essential, first and foremost, to establish the objective conditions and concrete circumstances of the war in question. It is necessary to consider the war in the historical environment in which it is taking place, only then can one determine one’s attitude to it. Otherwise, the resulting interpretation will be not materialist but eclectic.” Depending on the historical circumstances, the relationship of classes, etc., the attitude to war must be different at different times. (10)

“The character of a war and its success depend chiefly upon the internal regime of the country that goes to war, that war is a reflection of the internal policy conducted by the given country before the war. “(11) Thus, war cannot be assessed without first understanding its connection with the policies preceding it, without a study of the policies pursued long before the war.

“The character of the social contradictions and the way in which they are resolved depend on economic relations” says Fyodorov and co-writers. “The economic system ultimately determines all social, political, and ideological relations, including also the conditions for the emergence of wars.” (12)

“Capitalist society” says Bukharin, “is unthinkable without armaments, as it is unthinkable without wars…the rule of finance capital implies both imperialism and militarism. In this sense militarism is no less a typical historic phenomenon than finance capital itself… even where there are relatively equal economic structures, but the military powers of the state capitalist trusts differ considerably.” (13)

That is true “the war is a continuation of politics” but throwing this generalization does not tell us the nature of “politics” that is being followed by each imperialist at each given time.  Bourgeois ideologists and opportunists try hard to conceal the link between politics and war.

That is why the issue of “imperialism” and attitude to it cannot be studied independently from its political aspect- that is (militarization of industry and) war- in each given concrete condition and situation. Lenin was saying that “Abstract theoretical reasoning may lead to the conclusion at which Kautsky has arrived .. by abandoning Marxism. It goes without saying that there can be no concrete historical assessment of war, unless it is based on a thorough analysis of the nature of imperialism, both in its economic and political aspects.” (14)

“Imperialism” by its general and economic “definition” is not decisive in every situation and condition to determine the specific stand to be taken against. Without studying the political aspect, the “policy” concretely at any given situation, repeating the statement that “war is a continuation of policy in different form”, “explains absolutely nothing.”


(1) Lenin-The Tasks of The Proletariat in Our Revolution

(2) Lenin, Left-wing Communism

(3) Lenin, Letters on Tactics

(4) Lenin, Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution

(5) Lenin, A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism

(6) Maurice Cornforth, Materialism, and the Dialectical Method

(7) Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

(8) Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto

(9) History of Communist Party of The Soviet Union (B)

(10) Lenin, Lecture on the Proletariat, and the War”

(11) Lenin, Address To The Second All-Russia Congress Of Communist Organisations Of The Peoples of The East

(12) Fyodorov, Byely, Koztov, Marxism-Leninism on War and Army

(13) N.I. Bukharin, Imperialism and World Economy

(14) Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism

Instead of Preface

In the history of the party, the period of the imperialist war is one of the little researched and meager published materials. Meanwhile, the period of the war which immediately preceded the February upheaval and, together with it, led to the role-playing revolution of October, is of world-historical significance.

The Bolsheviks, the vanguard, and the spokesman for the will of the proletariat towards socialism, were the only ones to resist the infection of chauvinism and nationalism, spread by imperialism, which knocked down the party organizations of the Second International, which had long since been internally corrupted by opportunism, legality, and handouts from the bourgeoisie.

The need for young party members studying its history to have at hand a collection of materials scattered in various publications, for the most part already out of circulation, has led to the compilation of this book. Our task did not include a comprehensive coverage of the activities of the revolutionary Social Democracy during the war.

The book contains resolutions, manifestos, declarations, leaflets, some leading articles by Lenin and Zinoviev, the most typical literary speeches, and documents. The desire to reduce the cost of the book in the interests of its general availability forced us to select material very sparingly.

If the tense heroic struggle of Lenin and his party against the imperialist bourgeoisie and its agents from the Second International has been correctly reflected in our work, instructive for the young proletarian generations, who did not have the opportunity to live through the great era with us, it will be possible to consider that our book has not been written in vain.

Extract from the introduction of Yakelova -P9

From “Lenin as a Marxist, Bukharin

On Zimmerwald, The journal Kommunist 

Economic Causes and Consequences of the World War, E. Varga.

The Attitude of The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party towards the war

Lecture on “The proletariat and the War”, Lenin

Resolution adopted at the Seventh International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart

Manifesto of the International Socialist Congress at Basel

Manifesto of Central Committee. ("Theses on War")

Reply of the Central Committee to Vandervelde

Greeting of the representative of the Central Committee at the Swedish S.-D. Congress.

Declaration of the Central Committee of R. S.-D. R.P. presented to the London Conference

Proposals Submitted by the CC of the R.S.D.L.P. to the 2nd Socialist Conference, Maximovich

The Position and Tasksof the Socialist International, Lenin

International and the "defence of the fatherland", Lenin

On the split with the opportunists, Lenin

Several Theses, Lenin

Zimmerwald Left, Draft manifesto submitted to the conference

World War and the Tasks of Social Democracy, Draft resolution introduced by the left Zimmerwald

Manifesto of the International Socialist Conference in Zimmerwald

Two statements at Zimmerwald conference

Draft resolution submitted by the Zimmerwald Left at the conference in Kienthal

The Kienthal Manifesto

Statement delivered at the Kienthal Conference

The collapse of Zimmerwald International

Conferences, meetings about the attitude towards the war

Okhrana on the First Bern Conference

Resolutions of the conference of foreign sections of R. S.D. R.P.

Moscow Committee, Russian S.-D. labor party

Tver group in Moscow

Presnenskaya group in Moscow

A group of organized Social-Democrats in Moscow

Moscow Group of S.-D

Saratov organization, Price of War

Baltic region, Chronicle of the Social Democrat

Kronstadt S.D

Ural S.D. about the war and the tasks of the Social-Democrats

Party press attitude to the war

Decade of the World War, Results of the war; prospects for new wars.

The International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart (Proletary)

War and Leninism, G. Zinoviev.

The main work of German opportunism on the war, Lenin.

British Pacifism and the British Dislike of Theory, Lenin.

Lenin, Bellicose(aggressive) Militarism and the Anti-Militarist Tactics of Social-Democracy

Report On Foreign Policy, Lenin

A shame that nothing can atone for, Clara Zetkin.

After WW 1

On the international situation and foreign policy of the USSR, Molotov

A Warmongers 'International, Otto Kuusinen

The War Danger at the Present Time, O.W. Kuusinen

Interview with a "Pravda" Correspondent, Stalin

The Question of Peace and Security, Stalin

When is War Not Inevitable? Stalin

Notes on Contemporary Topics, Stalin

Speech Delivered at the Fifth-Union Conference of the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, Stalin

Interview Between J. Stalin and Roy Howard

Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Eighteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.), Stalin

Answers to Associated Press Moscow Correspondent’s Questions, Stalin

The Allied Campaign in Africa Answers to Associated Press Moscow Correspondent, Stalin

On the Allied Landing in Northern France, Stalin

Stalin's address to the people

Interview to “Pravda” Correspondent Concerning Mr. Winston Churchill’s Speech at Fulton, Stalin

Concerning the Situation in Japan, Stalin

Economic Problems of the USSR, Stalin

From Falsificators of History