Saturday, May 31, 1919 THE REVOLUTIONARY AGE The Left Wing Manifesto and Program Socialism and the War HE Manifesto and Program of the Left Wing Section of the Socialist Party of New York City, which has been adopted by local after local of e Socialist Party. opens with an indictment of the. vlicy and practice of the dominant Socialism during te war: The Social Democracies of Europe. unable or unwilling to meet the crisis of the war. were themselves hurled into the conflagration. to be tempered or crlmmed by it.
Great demonstrations were held in every European country by Socialists protesting against their governments declarations of war. and the mobilization for war. And we know that these dentonstrations were rendered impotent by the complete surrender of the Socialist parliamentary leaders and the official Social ist press, with their justifications of defensive wars and the safeguarding of democracy.
Why the sudden change of front? Why did the Socialist leaders in the parliament of the belligerents vote the war credits? Why did not moderate Socialism carry out flee. policy of the Basie Manifesto. namely: the converting of an imperialistic war into a civil war mto a proletarian revolution? Why did it either openly favor the war or adopt a policy of petty bourgeois pacifism. The. dominant moderate Socialism in Europe. that Socralism which was the heart and soul of the old In ternational, accepted the war and entered the service of the governments. Moderate Socialism justified the war, abondoned the class struggle in favor of class peace for the successful waging of the war to nation aI Victory. In this is comprised the downfall, the collapse, of the Second International.
The representatives of moderate Socialism have adopted the policy of denying that there was any co lapse of the International. They claim that Socialism In Europe did try to prevent war; that it did urge the the people against the war, denouncing it in unmeasured terms: but that Socialism was not strong enough to trot en! the war. This is sheer sophistry. The question is not prevention of the war, but «crowing and )nrlifyfug the war after war was declared.
It is indisputable that the dominant Socialism in Europe divided along national lines. abandoning the class struggle. The majority Socialists of each belligerent group except the Socialist of Italy and Serbia denounced each other. declared to the proletariat that the waging of an imperialistic war was necessary to Socialism. tha victory would promote proletarian interests. Socialism. the coming of the communist Republic, was made dependent upon Imperialism.
The dominant Socialism had repeatedly and emphatically denounced the coming general war as a predatory war of Imperialism. against which Socialism and the proletariat should act. They, the representatives of moderate Socialism. insisted again and again that the clash of international Imperialism was bound to produce a general war of horrible magnitude: that.
accordingly. it was the task of Socialism and the proletariat to act against the war as reactionary. imperialistic and counter revolutionary.
At the time of the first Balkan war. when Europe was threatened with a general confiagaration, there was held at llasel. Switzerland. an emergency Inter natiénal Socialist Congress. convened to act on the impending war. This congress. in its Manifesto. Icnom ce the general war that might tome as a war nijnstziable on any ground of national interests. as an inn. rinlistic war. and emphasized that Social It)
should use the political and economic cri. precipitated by the war to hasten the coming of Socialism. to develop the revolutionary struggle against the war and Capitalism. The Base Manifesto clearly imposed upon Socialism. not only the necessity of opposing the war. but the necessity of using the war tanweaken Capitalism and the state. to develop the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat.
The war that mainrity Socialism in Europe stigmat ized as hnperiahstlc in ion, did come in tout the same war. produced by the same clash of Imperialism that might have precipitated war in lull. or earlier at the time of the Algadir crisis. Ilnt majority Socialism reversed itself: instead of Stigmatizing the war as imperialistic. it accepted the war as a war of national. defense. justified it as a war for democracy!
The war originated in the same general causes that operated to produce nntagonisms between the Euro eean pmvcrs. These cans consisted in the struggle for undeveloped territory. the industrial development of which might absorb the surplus capital which the highly developed nations had at their disposal. It was a struggle over Morocco. over Mesopotamia. over the agdad Railway. which had produced numerous dipLunatic cris and which finally flared up into war.
The facts are conclusive. Socialist theory and Socialist investigation amply demonstrated the imperialistie character of the war.
The dominant moderate Socialism. however. reversing its previous indictment of the war. discarding all their conceptsof Imperialism, justified the war as a By Louis Fraina war of national defense. In one nation alone was this true, and that was Serbia; but there the Socialists opposed the war, recognizing that. with the intervention of the goat powers, the war ceased to be a national War of Serbia and became a brutal imperialistic world war. The Gennan Socialists, least of all, had the right to speak of a national war, since Austria Hungary immediate purpose was the. annihilation of Serbia national independence.
The argument used by the theoreticians of moderate Socialism was that Socialism and Marxism acceped and justified wars of. national defense. Precisely; but the question was not whether Socialism accepts wars of national defense. but whether an fill l ldllslfc 70hr i: a tear of national defense. Imperialism is predatory: it annihilates national independense in. its struggle for territorial and financial domination. The whole course of the war. the violation by each belligerent of all national rights. and now the character of the peace. prove conclusively the predatory, imperialistic character of the war.
These theoretieians of moderate Socialism, moreover, used the fact that Marx accepted wars of national independence? an argument in their favor. In Germany. Marx words concerning the necessity of war against Russia were used to justify Germany aggresion. But Marx was speaking of rrz olutionary national wars of liberation, of wars waged for national independence in the epoch of the revolutionary democracy of Capitalism. completing the abolition of feudalism. At the time Marx urged war against Russia. Czarism was the centre of reaction in Europe; and what Marx urged was a revolutionary democratic war against Russia. of which bourgeois society might have been capable at that time.
But since the days of Marx. the position of being the centre of reaction in Europe had been usurped by Imperial Germany and. by the Allies. In other words.
instead of the centre of reaction being feudal. Czarist Russia, the centre of reaction had become Imperialism.
represented dominantly by Germany. ireat Britain and France. National defense had become simply a screen behind which to hide sinister purposes of conquest. of Imperialism. Capitalism. at the stage of Imperialism. is in reaction against democracy: the annihilation of democracy is necessary for its purposes and supremacy. To imagine Imperialism capable of waging a revolutionary war of national defense and liberation. of producing a Garibaldi. is to confuse two totally dissimilar stages in the development of Capitalism. revolutionary war of national defense and liberation.
in our generation. can proceed only from a revolt of the oppressed colonial peoples dominated by Imperialism, equally the Imperialism of Germany. Great liritv ain and France: or from a revolutionary war waged by a Socialist Republic against international Capital15.
The arguments of national defense and democraey. accordingly. were sheer snphistry on the part of the theoreticians of moderate Socialism. Imperialism and consequently the wars of Imperialism is against national independence (1 democracy Moreover. the heart and soul of Socialism in action is the class struggle. o yield up the class struggle of the proletariat against Capitalism is to yield up Socialism.
This precisely what majority Socialism did in liurope: abandoned the cl. trugglc in favor of the national struggle. This meant a surrender of the independence of the proletariat. of the integrity of Snfactor upon which depends the coming of Socialism.
It is the force that determines events, and the destiny of peoples. Separated from the cla. struggle. cialism becomes simply an ideal piratmn. disembodied soirit: abandoning the cl; Slrllt glc. the proletnriat becomes the helplc trey of Capitalism. The CI: struggle puts a hon u the aspirations of Sncialism: it is the final test of Sncia 1n in action. the only means for the coming of Socialism.
This class struggle splits society. generating implacable class nutagnnisnis. The clash of the ilagnnisms produces the onward march of histnr events: drtcrmiues the policv of the capitalist cla. which is always conscious of class. and of the proletariat. which is not always conscious of its class policy. The cominlr nf Sncialism dpnends upon the counties! of power hv the proletariat Ihmnyh lhe class xlrnvluli. lind thrrlass struggle. and you end the proletarian struggle to cwl Capitalism.
This class strnsrrvle operates duringy peace This lanitte hv the theoreticians of moderate Socialism, Put rlnrinn the var thev developed a new thenrv: the class struggle prevails during peace. but is suspended during war. being merged in thevnatioual struggle.
Let us see. History shows that national struggles are a form of expressions of the class struggle. The revolutionary wars waged by France against feudal Europe were a national form of the class struggle waged between the capitalist class and the feudal class.
The national wars of liberation were revolutionary class struggles. Instead of being suspended during war. the class struggle acquires new potency and significance.
War is the continuation of peace: the policy of a government during war is determined by its policy during peace: the two are inseparable. Moderate So cialism during mu indicted the imperialistic policy of the governments. but during the war they ascribed democratic and liberating purp same governments. Apparently, according to cialism. all that a bourgeois governmtto become acceptable to Socialism is to zi The holy water of the Church was no!
The theoretical implications of this zuccptanu and justification of the war means a break. III mentals of Socialism. The class strug le mental to Socialism: but moderate Socialism insisted that national struggles were equally fundamental a complete castration of Socialism. Moreover. seeing that national struggles in our days are an expression of Imperialism. it was logical to conclude that the coming of Socialism depends upon Imperialism! This pot cut as completed the cycle of the collapse of moderate Sow cialism in Europe this Socialism developing from ordinary social patriotism into social Imperialism.
The consequences were disastrous. Instead of using the war to weaken Capitalism and develop the revolutionary struggle. moderate Socialism used the war to strengthen Capitalism and the bourgeois state: to mobilize the proletariat in the service of Imperialism and against Socialism. to invent a proletariat: revolution.
The suspension of the class struggle chained the proletariat with chains of iron to the war and the hourgeois state. Capitalism did not suspend the clas. struggle. it used the war to maintain its supremacy and break up the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. The govemments consciously used moderate Socialism to mobilize the proletariat for the reactionary war, while the representatives of moderate Socialism developed into counter revolutionary agents.
The war signalized the end of an epoch in Capitalism. lt marked the coming to a head of the violent nnlagonisms of intemationul Imperialism. a war in which the whole bourgeois ocicty u thrown in the crucible of change. Capitalism. crg. on collapse, unable. to endure without Imperialism and unable to solve the problems of Imperialism without war.
plunged the world into disaster. hr war was int arMars inn of the capitalist (Ito strum Ir agaiurl flu Imlrmriat, since the stake was world power. and world power means power 07w the proletariatz aud Since victory. moreover. meant strengthening national Capitalism and the state as against a weakening of the class power of the proletariat. The war provided an opportunity for developing the revolutionary proletarian struggle against Capitalism, The Ilasel Manifesto had guaged the situation ourntclv: the war would produce an economic and political cri which Socialism should use to hasten the end of Capitalism: or. as the mlshcviki cxpr scd it. in November. I0l4 tn convert the inlperinlistic war into a civil war of the oppressed against the nppressors.
and for Socialism. The moderates resorted to lying in order to evade the implications of the llascl Mattifesto: they declared that the Manifesto expected an inmmliatr revolution upon the declaration pf war: that there was no revolution. on the contrary. the masses abandoned So alism: accordingly. they hadto accept the imperial 1: war! This was base (hstortion. The llascl Manifesto did not expect an imme diate revolution: all it expected was an etcnonnc and social crisis providing an opportunity fpr developing the revolutionary strugcle :trrai st. apitahsm: It wasn the masses who abandoned So alism as much as It was the dominant moderate Socialism abandoned the delivered the nmsscs as Quinton fodder to the govcrmnents.
The test of events. posed the soplnstry of the moderates. When the Revolution did come, the moderates. who had previously cd their policy on the refusal of the ma. es to make a revolution, now opposed the Revolution. Thev depended upon the national struggle: they depended upon Imperialism and the bourgeois state: the necessary consequence of their policy was to act against the proletarian revolution.
The Second International broke down under the rest of the war. It broke down under the test of the proletarian revolution. here it did not accept the war. its major elements opposed the war on the basrs of petty bourgeois pacifism the whole policv was. a petty bourgeois policy. The petty hour zems policy is dependent upon any and everything for the coming of Socialism except the class struggle and the revolution.