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Attitude to wars - Marx & Engels 1850, Lenin 1914, Stalin 1933

Sophistry on the attitude to wars in general, Ukraine in particular.
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“Neutrality” in its passive form is the bourgeois Liberal crap, prettified with the Marxist Leninist phrases and supported with sophistry of chauvinism – in this case; sophistry to side with US-NATO fascist aggressive imperialism. It seems like a passively and indirectly taking side, however, it becomes a de facto active support for it hides the concrete facts and revises Marxism Leninism with the sophistry.

There are two fundamental issues here that have not been taken in the consideration; one is the existence of an anti-fascist civil war in Ukraine that has been waged for years, the other is the appraisal of a war based on a war with distinctive character and form.

There is a civil war going on for the last eight years waged by the anti-fascist communist alliances in where the alliance has liberated the villages, towns, cities and entire regions from the Nazi Ukraine regime and fighting the neo-Nazis to protect these liberated regions. This fact cannot be ignored by Marxist Leninists but only by bourgeois liberals and by those with fascist inclinations.

Anyone who denies the existence of this 8 yearlong anti-fascist-civil war in Ukraine cannot be a Marxist Leninist and thus cannot be an interlocutor to this discussion.

"Civil war” says Lenin, “is just as much a war as any other. He who accepts the class struggle cannot fail to accept civil wars, which in every class society are natural, and under certain conditions inevitable continuation, development, and intensification of the class struggle. That has been confirmed by every great revolution.  To repudiate civil war, or to forget about it, is to fall into extreme opportunism and renounce the socialist revolution." (1)

There are so called Marxist Leninists who admits the reality of the civil anti-fascist war in Ukraine yet claim that it is their “private matter”. For Marxist Leninists, civil wars, either anti-fascist or anti-imperialist, is NOT a private matter of that given country but a general matter concerning all anti-fascists and anti-imperialists. Stalin eloquently stated this fact when he said;

The toilers of the Soviet Union are merely fulfilling their duty in giving all the assistance they can to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They fully realize that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of the fascist reactionaries is not the private affair of the Spaniards, but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive humanity. (2)

The existence of anti-fascist civil war is one of the two fundamental and concrete facts that is denied or overlooked and not considered in the assessment to take the correct stand. Ready-made conclusions and formulas are applied for the determination of attitude for this specific war. In a way that is what Lenin exactly condemned saying that :

.. If a Communist took it into his head to boast about his communism because of the ready-made conclusions he had acquired, without putting in a great deal of serious and hard work, without understanding the facts which he must examine critically, he would be a very deplorable Communist. (3)

That is exactly what the practice has been for the analysis of Ukraine war. Although correct stands in practical life have been taken especially by the communists of Italy and Greece, and the statements have slightly revised, in general, same slogans based on ready-made conclusions and sophistry remained to be dominant.

The crux of the problem lies in the lack of study of the concrete situation and using a historical assessment that has no resemblance other than appearance to the current one. Not studying and analysing the current concrete situation, analysing the domestic and foreign policy and practices of belligerent countries yet using ready-made conclusion, forces them to sophistry to convince themselves, their followers and anti-fascist masses at large. “ In all times” said Lenin “the sophists have been in the habit of citing instances that refer to situations that are dissimilar in principle.” (4)  

Although for a petty bourgeois, sophistry is a common individual practice where they continually fall back on sophistry as their mode of polemic, Politically, sophistry is a calculated technique of magnifying general points and obscuring or minimizing particular points. Revisionists and bourgeois Liberal tendency defend their theoretical revisionism with the aid of clever sophistry.  Sophistry is the substitution of eclecticism for dialectics. Creating confusion with sophistry is a deception of the laboring masses. That is why Sophistry is a serious problem in the Marxist Leninist movement. That is the way the “pacifists” default on their responsibility and dope themselves (and thus the masses) in sophistry. It is by means of sophistry they try to conceal or justify their desertion to the camp of the bourgeoisie.

Lenin, criticizing Narodniks said;

These theories made sophistry of Marxism and falsified it (sometimes unconsciously); they appeared to be Marxist and, “by referring to Marx”, tried to deny the application of Marx’s theory.  (5)

The reality is, with some exceptions (consciously that of Trots), most statements are unconsciously sophist in their evaluation of the present imperialist war. All through history, each epoch, the wars had its general and specific characters of its own, from Marx& Engels time to Lenin and Stalin’s time. And as far as the interests of proletariat and her struggle is concerned, each following wars will have its own particular character regardless of its general definition with varying (most probably interchanging) stands; defeatism, active neutrality, defense and inevitable connection with it, offense in various forms. Marxist Leninists cannot take the generalization of a previous war and apply that as a ready-made conclusion and formula for the stand to be taken.

Let’s start with some quotes of basics

“We are revolutionary Marxist-Leninists, and we always start out from a correct scientific analysis of the economic and political situation and of the tendencies of its development. We repudiate all subjectivism and its arbitrariness in appraising the objective situation. If we, as Marxists, repudiate subjectivism, it is not because we regard ourselves as slaves of objective development. No, we regard ourselves as the active revolutionary instrument of history for accelerating the victory of the proletariat.” (6)

Abstract theoretical reasoning may lead to the conclusion at which Kautsky has arrived—in a somewhat different fashion but also by abandoning Marxism. It goes without saying that there can be no concrete historical assessment of the current war, unless it is based on a thorough analysis of the nature of imperialism, both in its economic and political aspects. Otherwise, it would be impossible to arrive at a correct understanding of the economic and diplomatic history of the last few decades without which it would be ridiculous to expect to work out a correct view of the war. (7)

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. “ (8)

Now we can start studying the wars of Marx and Engel’s time (1854-76) and their attitude, first world war before and after revolution during Lenin’s time and his attitude, second world war during Stalin time and his attitude and the current war that is actually a world war being waged in localities and heading towards a nuclear war.

Considering and Comparing  them will confirm Lenin’s statement that “depending on historical conditions, the relationship of classes and similar data, the attitude towards war must be different at different times. " (9)

There will be times, conditions, and situations  where there is no “interests of proletariat in general”  but only the “interests of proletariat” in particular, there will be times , conditions, and situations where, because of the existence of a “general interests of proletariat”, the interests of particular will be subordinated to the interests of the general.  In a constantly changing world the conditions and situations will change, so the attitude to each will have to be different.  

Analysing the events and epoch in the New York Tribune, 12 April 1853 Marx summarized;

Russia is decidedly a conquering nation, and was so for a century, until the great movement of 1789 called into potent activity an antagonist of formidable nature. We mean the European Revolution, the explosive force of democratic ideas and man’s native thirst for freedom. Since that epoch there have been in reality but two powers on the continent of Europe Russia and Absolutism, the Revolution and Democracy. For the moment, the Revolution seems to be suppressed, but it lives and is feared as deeply as ever. Witness the terror of the reaction at the news of the late rising at Milan. But let Russia get possession of Turkey, and her strength is increased nearly half, and she becomes superior to all the rest of Europe put together. Such an event would be an unspeakable calamity to the revolutionary cause. The maintenance of Turkish independence, or, in case of a possible dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the arrest of the Russian scheme of annexation, is a matter of the highest moment. In this instance the interests of revolutionary Democracy and of England go hand in hand. (10)

A week later in the same New York Tribune he states;

what has been the natural result? That in all essential points Russia has steadily, one after another, gained her ends, thanks to the ignorance, dullness and consequent inconsistency and cowardice of Western governments… England and France never stirred an inch when all this was done, and the only time they did move was to protect, in 1849, not Turkey, but the Hungarian refugees. (10)

He sates  in New York Tribune, 9 June 1853

Russia herself is more afraid of the revolution that must follow any general war on the Continent than the Sultan is afraid of the aggression of the Tsar. If the other powers hold firm, Russia is sure to retire in a very decent manner. Yet, be this as it may, her late maneuvers have at all events, imparted a mighty impetus to the elements engaged in disorganizing Turkey from within. The only question is this: does Russia act on her own free impulse, or is she but the unconscious and reluctant slave of the modern “ Fatum”, Revolution? I believe the latter alternative. (10)

in New York Tribune, 8 July 1853

We believe that, if war should break out, it will be because Russia has gone too far to withdraw with impunity to her honour; and above all, we believe her courage to be up to this notch simply because she has all the while counted on England’s connivance... (10)

New York Tribune, 5 August 1853.

The revolutionary party can only congratulate itself on this state of things. The humiliation of the reactionary Western governments, and their manifest impotency to guard the interests of European civilisation against Russian encroachment, cannot fail to work out a wholesome indignation in the people who have suffered themselves, since 1849, to be subjected to the rule of counter-revolution. (10)

In his critique of Kautsky’s pamphlet in which Kautsky approaches the first world war with the point of view of a “bygone period” of war he points out this factual difference. “Marx himself,” says Lenin,” who condemned wars, as, for instance, in 1854-76, took sides with one of the belligerents when, despite the will of the socialists, wat had become a fact. That is the main contention and the chief trump card in Kautsky’s pamphlet.” And Lenin criticized the stand of Mr. Potresov who confused the interests of particular with the interests of general when there is no “general interest of proletariat. He notes; “by “internationalism” (he) understands finding out the success of which side in the war is more desirable or less harmful from the standpoint of the interests of the proletariat not in a particular country but the world over.”  

He follows;

The sophistry of this reasoning consists in a bygone period of history being substituted for the present. The following were the main features of the old wars referred to by Kautsky: (1) they dealt with the problems of bourgeois-democratic reforms and the overthrow of absolutism or foreign oppression; (2) the objective prerequisites for a socialist revolution had   not yet matured, and prior to the war, no socialist could speak of utilising it to “hasten the downfall of capitalism”, as the Stuttgart (1907) and Basle (1912) resolutions do; (3) in the countries of neither of the belligerent groups were there any socialist parties of any strength or mass appeal, and tested in the struggle.

In short, it is not surprising that Marx and the Marxists confined themselves to determining which bourgeoisie’s victory would be more harmless to (or more favourable to) the world proletariat, at a time when one could not speak of a general proletarian movement against the governments and the bourgeoisie of all the belligerent countries. (11)

Lenin in his critique of Potresoy clarifies the old and new epochs and their class context in regard to Marx attitude to the wars and the question of the “the success of which bourgeoisie is more desirable”. (I will be quoting entire paragraph in which one of Lenin’s remarks may seem contradictory at first glance)

Potresov has failed to notice that, to Marx in 1859 (as well as in a number of later cases), the question of “the success of which side is more desirable” meant asking “the success of which bourgeoisie is more desirable”. Potresov has failed to notice that Marx was working on the problem at a time when there existed indubitably progressive bourgeois movements, which moreover did not merely exist, but were   in the forefront of the historical process in the leading states of Europe. Today, it would be ridiculous even to imagine a progressive bourgeoisie, a progressive bourgeois movement, in, for instance, such key members of the “Concert” of Europe, as Britain and Germany. The old bourgeois “democracy” of these two key states has turned reactionary. Potresov has “forgotten” this and has substituted the standpoint of the old (bourgeois) so-called democracy for that of present-day (non-bourgeois) democracy. This shift to the standpoint of another class, and moreover of an old and outmoded class, is sheer opportunism. There cannot be the least doubt that a shift like this cannot be justified by an analysis of the objective content of the historical process in the old and the new epochs. (12)

Lenin clarifies (I underlined section which has outmost importance for the 2nd WW)

 First of all, these were considerations on the national movement (in Germany and Italy)—on the latter’s development over the heads of the “representatives of medievalism”; secondly, these were considerations on the “main evil” of   the reactionary monarchies (the Austrian, the Napoleonic, etc.) in the Concert of Europe.

These considerations are perfectly clear and indisputable. Marxists have never denied the progressiveness of bourgeois national-liberation movements against feudal and absolutist forces… In those days the Western bourgeoisie did not give financial support to certain other states; on the contrary, those states were really “the main evil”… Marx and Engels were working on the problem of the desirability of success for which particular bourgeoisie; they were concerned with a modestly liberal movement developing into a tempestuously democratic one. In the period of present-day (non-bourgeois) democracy, Potresov is preaching bourgeois national-liberalism at a time when one cannot even imagine bourgeois progressive movements, whether modestly liberal or tempestuously democratic, in Britain, Germany, or France. Marx and Engels were ahead of their epoch, that of bourgeois-national progressive movements; they wanted to give an impetus to such movements so that they might develop “over the heads” of the representatives of medievalism.

Marx’s method consists, first of all, in taking due account of the objective content of a historical process at a given moment, in definite and concrete conditions; this in order to realize, in the first place, the movement of which class is the mainspring of the progress possible in those concrete conditions. In 1859, it was not imperialism that comprised the objective content of the historical process in continental Europe, but national-bourgeois movements for liberation.”  ..  Let us suppose that two countries are at war in the epoch of bourgeois, national-liberation movements. Which country should we wish success to from the standpoint of present-day   democracy? Obviously, to that country whose success will give a greater impetus to the bourgeoisie’s liberation movement, make its development speedier, and undermine feudalism the more decisively.  (12)

Lenin’s critique and analysis which set the attitude towards first WW concluded that “Present-day democracy will remain true to itself only if it joins neither one nor the other imperialist bourgeoisie, only if it says that the two sides are equally bad, and if it wishes the defeat of the imperialist bourgeoisie in every country. Any other decision will, in reality, be national-liberal and have nothing in common with genuine internationalism.”  Lenin’s stance in World War 1 was the “revolutionary defeatism” that socialists should refuse to support any imperialist camp in the war, promote working-class struggle, advocate socialist revolution each within his own belligerent country as the way to win a peace.

Same Kautskyite revisionists in different shades claim that Marxist attitudes established a new standard in World War 1 with Lenin’s polemics of that time for the Marxist response to wars involving imperialist powers, meaning the “revolutionary defeatism” was false and realizing that he corrected gradually. Sophistry of Trotskyites in falsifying and confusing the statements in this case was not so much different. “He preferred defeat of Russia by Germany. But then, should the German socialists prefer victory by Germany over Russia? “ they say. This is a typical cheap shot of Trotskyites.  Lenin never said that German socialist should prefer the victory, but “defeat” in general in all belligerent countries. In his speech 1918 Lenin says;

In Germany, the words of the German socialist Friedrich Adler are being spread far and wide among the workers and soldiers: “Turn your bayonets on your own bourgeoisie instead of on the Russian workers and peasants.” There is no end in sight to the slaughter started by the capitalists. The more Germany wins, the more the savages like her who tag on to the other side… A “defeatist” movement like the one we had has already begun in Germany, mass strikes are taking place in Italy and Austria; and socialists are being arrested wholesale in America. (13)

“Defeatism”  of Lenin was not a passive stand but an active one that called for revolutionary action.  That has a further meaning  than “Marxists should not let their socialist struggle be limited or restrained by the risk that it might bring on the defeat of their own country.” It calls for the revolutionary defeatism for the sake of revolution.  So there is no correction there as the Trotskyite suggests, but defining  “defeatism” as far as the struggle is concerned.

The change of the epoch from “the success of which bourgeoisie is more desirable”  from Marx and Engel’s time to “no bourgeoisie is desirable “  coined the new policy of “revolutionary defeatism.

Marx’s view and approach to the Tsarist regime as the main focus of reaction and counterrevolution in the world, and had to be fought harder than any other was not his general political line on war and peace but related to the that given concrete situation and conditions.

“In the first epoch,” says Lenin,

 the objective and historical task was to ascertain how, in its struggle against the chief representatives of a dying feudalism, the progressive bourgeoisie should “utilize” international conflicts so as to bring the greatest possible advantage to the entire democratic bourgeoisie of the world. In the first epoch, over half a century ago, it was natural and inevitable that the bourgeoisie, enslaved by feudalism, should wish the defeat of its “own” feudal oppressor, all the more so that the principal and central feudal strongholds of all-European importance were not so numerous at the time. This is how Marx “appraised” the conflicts: he ascertained in which country, in a given and concrete situation, the success of the bourgeois-liberation movement was more important in undermining the all-European feudal stronghold.”

The second epoch or, as Potresov puts it, “a span of forty-five years” (1870-1914), is characterized very inconclusively by him. The same incompleteness is the shortcoming in Trotsky’s characterization of the same period, given in his German work, although he does not agree with Potresov’s practical conclusions, both writers hardly realize the reason for their standing so close to each other, in a certain sense. Here is what Potresov writes of this epoch, which we have called the second, that of yesterday:

Neither revolution, nor war. . .” “Democracy became the more effectively nationalist, the longer the period of its ‘position warfare’ was protracted and the longer there lingered on the stage that spell of European history which . . . knew of no international conflicts in the heart of Europe, and consequently   experienced no unrest extending beyond the boundaries of national state territories and felt no keen interest on a general European or world scale”

The chief shortcoming in this characterization, as in Trotsky’s characterization of the same epoch, is a reluctance to discern and recognize the deep contradictions in modern democracy, which has developed on the foundation described above. The impression is produced that the democracy contemporary with the epoch under review remained a single whole, which, generally speaking, was pervaded with gradualism, turned nationalist, was by degrees weaned away from breaks in gradualness and from catastrophes, and grew petty and mildewed.

In reality this could not have happened, since, side by side with the aforesaid tendencies, other and reverse tendencies were undoubtedly operating: the day-by-day life of the working masses was undergoing an internationalization—the cities were attracting ever more inhabitants, and living conditions in the large cities of the whole world were being levelled out; capital was becoming internationalized, and at the big factories townsmen and country-folk, both native and alien, were intermingling. The class contradictions were growing ever more acute…

“All-pervading gradualism” was in no way the predominant sentiment in all contemporary democracy, as the writings of Potresov and Trotsky imply.

Take, for instance, the possession of colonies and the expansion of colonial possessions. These were undoubted features of the period dealt with above, and with the majority of big states. What did that mean in the economic sense? It meant a sum of super-profits and special privileges for the bourgeoisie. It meant, moreover, the possibility of enjoying crumbs from this big cake for a small minority of the petty bourgeois, as well as for the better placed employees, officials of the labour movement, etc. The enjoyment of crumbs of advantage from the colonies, from privileges, by an insignificant minority of the working class in Britain, for instance, is an established fact, recognized and pointed out by Marx and Engels. Formerly confined to Britain alone, this phenomenon became common to all the great capitalist countries of Europe, as their colonial possessions expanded, and in general as the imperialist period of capitalism grew and developed.

A number of Trotsky’s tactical and organizational errors spring from his fear, or his reluctance, or inability to recognize the fact of the “maturity” achieved by the opportunist trend, and also its intimate and unbreakable link with the national-liberals (or social-nationalists) of our times. In practice, this failure to recognize this “maturity” and this unbreakable link leads, at least, to absolute confusion and helplessness in the face of the predominant social-nationalist (or national-liberal) evil.

“At present, in the third epoch, no feudal fortresses of all-European significance remain. Of course, it is the task of   present-day democracy to “utilize” conflicts, but—despite Potresov and Kautsky—this international utilization must be directed, not against individual national finance capital, but against international finance capital. The utilization should not be affected by a class which was on the ascendant fifty or a hundred years ago. At that time, it was a question of “international action” bythe most advanced bourgeois democracy; today it is another class that is confronted by a similar task created by history and advanced by the objective state of affairs.” (13)

Trotskyites and their unconscious followers take Potresov assertion, “how Marx went about it even when both sides were “highly reactionary”, and therefore “Marxists too are at present obliged to make a similar appraisal”, and claim that Lenin agreed at the time. However, in reality, Lenin criticizing Potresov’s conclusion says:

This conclusion is either naïve childishness or crass sophistry, since it boils down to the following: since, in 1859, Marx was working on the problem of the desirability of success for which particular bourgeoisie, we, over half a century later, must solve the problem in exactly the same way. (13)

Trotskyites, in a twisted way insinuating that nothing  is fundamentally change, and could change claim that “The whole structure of what in 1914 was called (by Lenin)  “Marx’s position on war” rested upon a series of unsupported assertions,(when  Lenin repeated Marx  took sides with one of the belligerents when, despite the will of the socialists, war had become a fact)   which no one has ever found in Marx’s own work”. The reality, however, is  that Lenin explains it clearly in his “epochs” cited above, yet for this shade of Trotskyites Lenin is not Marxist but Trotsky is.  So they claim that when Lenin stated that “Marx supported the German side as a war of defence against Bonaparte”, he was exaggerating.  I will not dwell on this subject one can read Marx and Engels articles and Address on War for that period.

 What is crucial is that the underlying insidious aim is the stand of Stalin and Bolsheviks during the second world war. They repeat the readymade conclusion and formula that Marx or Engels declared against supporting either belligerent in a war — even when they specifically recognised one side or another as more “progressive”.  Aside from the bygone period of bourgeois democratic revolutions against feudalism, during the first world war Lenin’s attitude was not the same before the revolution and after the revolution. The attitude derived from not by generalized theories but from the interests of proletariat and of their struggle. First period, in case of Russia, consideration was the interests of revolutionary struggle, second was the interests of revolution itself.

Abstract theoretical reasoning” said Lenin, “may lead to the conclusion at which Kautsky has arrived—in a somewhat different fashion but also by abandoning Marxism.” (14) The scientific concept of imperialism, moreover, is reduced to a sort of term of abuse applied to the immediate competitors, rivals, and opponents of imperialists.” (15) Depending on historical conditions, the relationship of classes and similar data, the attitude towards war must be different at different times. " (16) 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.  That means even in the same epoch, the same war attitude may change as the character of war may change with the possible changes in the belligerent countries.  

Lenin criticizing Rosa says, “The only mistake, however, would be to exaggerate this truth, to depart from the Marxist requirement of concreteness, to apply the appraisal of this war to all wars possible under imperialism, to ignore the national movements against imperialism.”.. A national war might be transformed into an imperialist war and vice versa.”.. “Only a sophist can disregard the difference between an imperialist and a national war on the grounds that one might develop into the other. Not infrequently have dialectics served as a bridge to sophistry. But we remain dialecticians and we combat sophistry not by denying the possibility of all transformations in general, but by analysing the given phenomenon in its concrete setting and development… This "epoch" has made the policies of the present great powers thoroughly imperialist, but it by no means precludes national wars”. (17)

 Lenin in the same article sets the difference that most Trotskyites and their tailgaters ignore;

Objectively, the feudal and dynastic wars were then opposed by revolutionary democratic wars, by 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.

From the standpoint of progress, from the standpoint of the progressive class, the imperialist bourgeois war, the war of highly developed capitalism, can, objectively, be opposed only with a war against the bourgeoisie, i.e., primarily civil war for power between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie; for unless such a war is waged, serious progress is impossible; this may be followed -- only under certain special conditions -- by a war to defend the socialist state against bourgeois states.

In saying that the class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion, Junius applies Marxist dialectics only half way, taking one step on the right road and immediately deviating from it. Marxist dialectics call for a concrete analysis of each specific historical situation. It is true that class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion both when the bourgeoisie is overthrowing feudalism, and when the proletariat 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..”

In the same breath Junius quite rightly says that a revolution cannot be "made". Revolution was on the order of the day in the 1914-16 period. (17)

Revolutionary Defeatism” of Lenin worked. “Civil war became a fact” said Lenin on Extraordinary Seventh Congress. “ The transformation of the imperialist war into civil war, which we had predicted at the beginning of the revolution, and even at the beginning of the war, and which considerable sections of socialist circles treated skeptically and even with ridicule, actually took place on October 25, 1917, in one of the largest and most backward of the belligerent countries… Individual imperialists had no time to bother with us, solely because the whole of the great social, political and military might of modern world imperialism was split by internecine war into two groups. The imperialist plunderers involved in this struggle had gone to such incredible lengths, were locked in mortal combat to such a degree, that neither of the groups was able to concentrate any effective forces against the Russian revolution. These were the circumstances in which we found ourselves in October.” (18)

From “defeatism” to “defencism”

Together with the revolution, the character and the direction of the imperialist war has changed significantly. “The enemies of Soviet Russia” said Lenin, “ surround us in a tight ring of iron to try to deprive the workers and peasants of everything they gained from the October Revolution… You will remember, comrades, that at the beginning of the revolution the French and British never tired of insisting they were the “allies” of free Russia. And here we have these “allies” today in their true colours… they have declared war on the Soviets, they have declared war on the workers and peasants… Now there are two fronts: the workers and peasants on one side, and the capitalists on the other.”

Analysing the current situation and the conflicts among the group of imperialists and ways to utilize this conflict Lenin states the current stand on the war after the revolution;

we tell ourselves that, if the extremist war party can at any moment defeat any imperialist coalition and build a new unexpected imperialist coalition against us, we at any rate will not make it any easier for them. And if they come against us—yes, we are now defencists—we shall do everything in our power, everything within the power of diplomatic tactics, we shall do everything to delay that moment, everything to make the brief and unstable respite given us in March, last longer.. We have been defencists since October 25, 1917; we have won the right to defend our native land. It is not secret treaties that we are defending, we have annulled and exposed them to the whole world. We are defending our country against the imperialists. We are defending and we shall winWe are defencists and look upon our task with all the seriousness taught us by the four years of war… it is a policy of preparation for defense of our country, a steadfast policy, not allowing a single step to be taken that would aid the extremist parties of the imperialist powers in the East and West. (19)

Following, Lenin states that this “right” to “defend” from the “defeatist” stand “is not achieved by issuing declarations, but only by overthrowing the bourgeoisie in one’s own country.

History has proven that Lenin’s “defeatist” and following “defencist” policy together with the support of national liberation wars, especially support to nationalist in Turkey was the correct policy. And his teachings that; “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.” (20) “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” (21) and “Depending on the historical circumstances, the relationship of classes, etc., the attitude to war must be different at different times “(22) are important guides to us in our analysis to never ignore.

All of that, either defeatist, or defencist or (active) neutral stands derive from the fundamental principle of having the interests of proletariat and of its struggle in mind when we make an evaluation for the policy and stand. It is never a narrowminded, mechanical question of which side or more like which bourgeois will be beneficial to us, it is the question of where the interests of proletariat lie – not based on abstract general theories but- based on the actual, factual conditions.

That teaching was what Stalin followed and applied during the second world war. In a very similar way to First World War, he  made agreement with aggressive (Lenin calls extremist) Imperialist Germany to prepare for the 2nd imperialist World War. He reached to other non-aggressive  imperialists for an alliance for peace.

Before the war in his interview Stalin said; In my opinion there are two seats of war danger. The first is in the Far East, in the zone of Japan. I have in mind the numerous statements made by Japanese military men containing threats against other powers. The second seat is in the zone of Germany. It is hard to say which is the most menacing, but both exist and are active. Compared with these two principal seats of war danger, the Italian-Abyssinian war is an episode. At present, the Far Eastern seat of danger reveals the greatest activity. However, the centre of this danger may shift to Europe.  (23)

Three years later in his Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Eighteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.) Stalin said;

What changes exactly have taken place in the international situation in this period? In what way exactly have the foreign and internal affairs of our country changed?

For the capitalist countries this period was one of very profound perturbations in both the economic and political spheres. In the economic sphere these were years of depression, followed, from the beginning of the latter half of 1937, by a period of new economic crisis, of a new decline of industry in the United States, Great Britain, and France; consequently, these were years of new economic complications. In the political sphere they were years of serious political conflicts and perturbations… The entire post-war system, the so-called regime of peace, has been shaken to its foundations.

Let us now examine the concrete data illustrating the changes in the international situation.

1. New Economic Crisis in the Capitalist Countries, Intensification of the Struggle for Markets and Sources of Raw Material, and for a New Redivision of the World.

The economic crisis which broke out in the capitalist countries in the latter half of 1929 lasted until the end of 1933. After that the crisis passed into a depression, and was then followed by a certain revival, a certain upward trend of industry. But this upward trend of industry did not develop into a boom, as is usually the case in a period of revival. On the contrary, in the latter half of 1937 a new economic crisis began which seized the United States first of all and then England, France and a number of other countries.

The capitalist countries thus found themselves faced with a new economic crisis before they had even recovered from the ravages of the recent one.

This circumstance naturally led to an increase of unemployment. The number of unemployed in capitalist countries, which had fallen from thirty million in 1933 to fourteen million in 1937, has now again risen to eighteen million as a result of the new economic crisis.

A distinguishing feature of the new crisis is that it differs in many respects from the preceding one, and, moreover, differs for the worse and not for the better.

…the present crisis has broken out not in time of peace, but at a time when a second imperialist war has already begun; at a time when Japan, already in the second year of her war with China, is disorganizing the immense Chinese market and rendering it almost inaccessible to the goods of other countries; when Italy and Germany have already placed their national economy on a war footing, squandering their reserves of raw material and foreign currency for this purpose; and when all the other big capitalist powers are beginning to reorganize themselves on a war footing.

…as distinct from the preceding crisis, the present crisis is not a general one, but as yet involves chiefly the economically powerful countries which have not yet placed themselves on a war economy basis. As regards the aggressive countries, such as Japan, Germany, and Italy, who have already reorganized their economy on a war footing, they, because of the intense development of their war industry, are not yet experiencing a crisis of overproduction, although they are approaching it. This means that by the time the economically powerful, non-aggressive countries begin to emerge from the phase of crisis the aggressive countries, having exhausted their reserves of gold and raw material in the course of the war fever, are bound to enter a phase of very severe crisis.

It is no longer a question of competition in the markets, of a commercial war, of dumping. These methods of struggle have long been recognized as inadequate. It is now a question of a new redivision of the world, of spheres of influence and colonies, by military action.

the bloc of three aggressive states came to be formed. A new redivision of the world by means of war became imminent.

After the first imperialist war the victor states, primarily Britain, France, and the United States, set up a new regime in the relations between countries, the post-war peace regime. ..  However, three aggressive states, Japan tore up the Nine-Power Pact, and Germany and Italy the Versailles Treaty, and the new imperialist war launched by them, upset the entire system of this post-war peace regime. In order to have their hands free, these three states withdrew from the League of Nations. The new imperialist war became a fact. (24)

The determination of the type of war was not different – it was an imperialist war,” but  with distinctions from the previous imperialist war. Stalin evaluated the character of this distinction with the questions;

To what are we to attribute this one-sided and strange character of the new imperialist war?

How is it that the non-aggressive countries, which possess such vast opportunities, have so easily and without resistance abandoned their positions and their obligations to please the aggressors?

Is it to be attributed to the weakness of the non-aggressive states? Of course not! Combined, the non-aggressive, democratic states are unquestionably stronger than the fascist states, both economically and militarily.

To what then are we to attribute the systematic concessions made by these states to the aggressors? (24)

Stalin was clearly making a distinction between the (extremist) aggressive imperialists and non-aggressive imperialists. He explained;

The chief reason is that the majority of the non-aggressive countries, particularly Britain and France, have rejected the policy of collective security, the policy of collective resistance to aggressors, and have taken up a position of non-intervention, a position of "neutrality." (24)

In reference to “neutrality,” “non-intervention” which is so widely used as a ready-made formulas,  Stalin’s explanation was enlightening.

Formally speaking, the policy of non-intervention might be defined as follows:

"Let each country defend itself against the aggressors as it likes and as best it can. That is not our affair We shall trade both with the aggressors and with their victims."

But actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war, and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work. (24)

In 1942, after the alliance is made with the non-aggressive ones against the aggressive imperialists , Stalin responded to the question of “What is the Soviet view of the Allied campaign in Africa?

The Soviet view of this campaign is that it represents an outstanding fact of major importance, demonstrating the growing might of the armed forces of the Allies and opening the prospect of the disintegration of the Italy-German coalition in the nearest future. (25)

Stalin was not shy to congratulate the victories of her alliances  on his telegraphs to different leaders he stated;

I congratulate you and the valiant American and British troops on the brilliant victory which has resulted in the liberation of Bizerta and Tunis from Hitler’s tyranny. I wish you further successes. (26)

In 1944, Stalin in his Speech at Celebration Meeting of the Moscow Soviet of Working People’s Deputies and Moscow Party and Public Organizations said;

The past year has been a year of triumph of the common cause of the anti-German coalition for the sake of which the peoples of the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States of America have united in fighting alliance.

The decision of the Teheran Conference on joint actions against Germany and the brilliant realization of that decision are one of the striking indications of the consolidation of the front of the anti-Hitler Coalition. There are few instances in history of plans for large-scale military operations undertaken in joint actions against a common enemy being carried out so fully and with such precision as the plan for a joint blow against Germany drawn up at the Teheran Conference.

There is talk of differences between the three Powers on certain security problems. Differences do exist, of course, and they will arise on a number of other issues as well... What matters is not that there are differences, but that these differences do not transgress the bounds of what the interests of the unity of the three Great Powers allow, and that, in the long run, they are resolved in accordance with the interests of that unity.

To win the war against Germany is to accomplish a great historic task. But to win the war does not in itself mean to ensure for the peoples a lasting peace and guaranteed security in the future. The task is not only to win the war but also to make new aggression and new war impossible—if not for ever, then at least for a long time to come. (27)

Stalin did not have the illusion that the non-aggressive imperialists will not change its character. His policy was the policy of “utilizing” the contradictions between the imperialist powers for the best interests of the proletariat in particular and in general. Existing conditions and situations required for the duration the task to be “utilizing”  the conflict ,not against all international finance capital but against individual national finance capital, whereas before the October Revolution, during the first world war , it was the other way around.

 In his interview of 1946 Stalin says ;

Mr. Churchill now takes the stand of the warmongers, and in this Mr. Churchill is not alone. He has friends not only in Britain but in the United States of America as well.

A point to be noted is that in this respect Mr. Churchill and his friends bear a striking resemblance to Hitler and his friends. Hitler began his work of unleashing war by proclaiming a race theory, declaring that only German-speaking people constituted a superior nation. Mr. Churchill sets out to unleash war with a race theory, asserting that only English-speaking nations are superior nations, who are called upon to decide the destinies of the entire world. Mr. Churchill, and his friends in Britain and the United States, present to the non-English speaking nations something in the nature of an ultimatum: “Accept our rule voluntarily, and then all will be well; otherwise, war is inevitable.”… There can be no doubt that Mr. Churchill’s position is a war position.  (28)

In his 1951 interview Stalin responds to the question “Do you consider a new world war inevitable?”:

At least at the present time it cannot be considered inevitable… these aggressive forces, control the reactionary governments and direct them. But at the same time, they are afraid of their people who do not want a new war and stand for the maintenance of peace. Therefore, they are trying to use reactionary governments in order to enmesh their peoples with lies, to deceive them, and to depict the new war as defensive and the peaceful policy of the peace-loving countries as aggressive. They are trying to deceive their people in order to impose on them their aggressive plans and to draw them into a war.

Precisely for this reason they are afraid of the campaign in defense of peace, fearing that it can expose the aggressive intentions of the reactionary governments.

Peace will be preserved and consolidated if the people take the cause of preserving peace into their own hands and will defend it to the end. War may become inevitable if the warmongers succeed in entangling the masses of the people in lies, in deceiving them and drawing them into a new world war. (29)

As the First WW started as an imperialist war, the second WW started as an imperialist war with each had its distinctive character. Unlike those who claims the second world war was not an imperialist war, Stalin clearly states;

 the Second World War began not as a war with the U.S.S.R., but as a war between capitalist countries. Why? Firstly, because war with the U.S.S.R., as a socialist land, is more dangerous to capitalism than war between capitalist countries; for whereas war between capitalist countries puts in question only the supremacy of certain capitalist countries over others, war with the U.S.S.R. must certainly put in question the existence of capitalism itself. Secondly, because the capitalists, although they clamor, for "propaganda" purposes, about the aggressiveness of the Soviet Union, do not themselves believe that it is aggressive, because they are aware of the Soviet Union's peaceful policy and know that it will not itself attack capitalist countries.

After the First World War it was similarly believed that Germany had been definitely put out of action… that Germany would never rise to her feet again, and that there would be no more wars between capitalist countries. In spite of this, Germany rose to her feet again as a great power within the space of some fifteen or twenty years after her defeat Britain and the United States that helped Germany to recover economically and to enhance her economic war potential. Of course, when the United States and Britain assisted Germany's economic recovery, they did so with a view to setting a recovered Germany against the Soviet Union, to utilizing her against the land of socialism. But Germany directed her forces in the first place against the Anglo-French-American bloc.

Consequently, the struggle of the capitalist countries for markets and their desire to crush their competitors proved in practice to be stronger than the contradictions between the capitalist camp and the socialist camp.

What guarantee is there, then, that Germany and Japan will not rise to their feet again, will not attempt to break out of American bondage and live their own independent lives? I think there is no such guarantee. But it follows from this that the inevitability of wars between capitalist countries remains in force… To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism. (30)

As we see each and every war, despite its general class context, had different characters based on the existent condition and situation and based on the economic and military policy that is followed by the belligerent countries. As Lenin warned that relying on “the ready-made conclusions one had acquired, without putting in a great deal of serious and hard work, without understanding the facts which he must examine critically, one would be a very deplorable Communist.”  (3)

Using ready-made conclusions and formulas will force one to sophistry. “By means of patent sophistry, Marxism is stripped of its revolutionary living spirit; everything is recognised in Marxism except the revolutionary methods of struggle” (31) It is this sophistry that ignored and keeps on ignoring the anti-fascist civil war waged in Ukraine. “The distinction between subjectivism (sophistry) and dialectics,” says Lenin, “incidentally, is that in (objectivism) dialectics, thedifference between the relative and the absolute is itself relative. For objective dialectics there is an absolute within the relative. For subjectivism and sophistry, the relative is only relative and excludes the absolute. (32) Comparing this current war with the 1st WW with arguments based on readymade conclusions is as much ridiculous sophistry as it was for Kautsky’s entire line of argument was.

Skipping the 2nd WW, its conditions, situation, and the attitude thereof, the sophistry of arguments of Ukraine war is identical to  1st WW, is so manifest that it, actually and sadly is embarrassing to analyse it. Any analysis and study  that fails to examine the circumstances of 2nd WW and the attitudes of Bolsheviks  thoroughly, in Lenin’s words’  is  nothing more nor less than bourgeois sophistry.”

“Speaking of the Sophists,” says Lenin, “ Hegel in extreme detail chews over the thought that sophistry contains an element common to all culture  in general, our own included, namely, the adducing of proofs and  counterproofs—“reflecting reasoning”;—the finding of the most diverse points of view in everything; (subjectivity—lack of objectivity). (33)

Let’s conclude with Lenin’s critique of Plekhanov in a similar issue is striking and valuable in this sense and valid for the current.

 “Plekhanov“ ,Lenin Says, “sophistically denounces German opportunism so as to shield French and Russian opportunism. The result is not a struggle against international opportunism, but support for it. He sophistically bemoans the fate of Belgium, while saying nothing about Galicia. He sophistically confuses the period of imperialism (i.e., one in which, as all Marxists hold, the objective conditions are ripe for the collapse of capitalism, and there are masses of socialist proletarians), and the period of bourgeois-democratic national movements; in other words, he confuses a period in which the destruction of bourgeois fatherlands by an international revolution of the proletariat is imminent, and the period of their inception and consolidation. He sophistically accuses the German bourgeoisie of having broken the peace, while remaining silent about the lengthy and elaborate preparations for a war against Germany by the bourgeoisie of the “Triple Entente.” … To analyse all of Plekhanov’s sophisms would require a series of articles, and many of his ridiculous absurdities are hardly worth going into. We shall touch upon only one of his alleged arguments. In 1870 Engels wrote to Marx that Wilhelm Liebknecht was mistaken in making anti-Bismarckism his sole guiding principle. Plekhanov was glad to have discovered the quotation: the same is true, he argues, with regard to anti-tsarism! Let us, however, try to replace sophistry (i.e., the method of clutching at the outward similarity of instances, without considering the nexus between events) with dialectics (i.e., the method of studying all the concrete circumstances of an event and of its development). The unification of Germany was a necessity which Marx recognised as such both prior to and following 1848. As early as 1859, Engels called forthright upon the German people to fight for unification. When unification through revolution failed, Bismarck achieved it in a counter-revolutionary, Junker fashion, Anti-Bismarckism became absurd as a sole principle, since the necessary unification was an accomplished fact.

 But what about Russia? Did our brave Plekhanov formerly have the courage to declare that Russia’s development demanded the conquest of Galicia, Constantinople, Armenia, Persia, etc.? Does he have the courage to say so now? Has he considered that Germany had to progress from the national disunity of the Germans (who had been oppressed both by France and Russia in the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century) to a unified nation, whereas in Russia the Great Russians have crushed rather than united a number of other nations? Without giving thought to such things, Plekhanov has simply masked his chauvinism by distorting the meaning of the Engels quotation of 1870 in the same fashion as Südekum has distorted an 1891 quotation from Engels to the effect that the Germans must wage a life-and-death struggle against the allied armies of France and Russia. (34)

History, without a doubt shows that the attitude of Marxist Leninists to the wars, from Marx & Engels to Lenin to Stalin,  fundamentally had one thing in mind; the interests of proletariat and her struggle, and determination of how to “utilize” these conflicts so that it brings the greatest possible advantage for them. Not the memorized and sloganized general theories and ready made conclusions, but the concrete assessment of concrete situation for the fundamental interests in mind.

Subjectivity, determination of a stand based on ready-made conclusions and formulas fitting the subjectivity, forces one to sophistry in order to support the subjective determination rather than  studying all the concrete circumstances of an event and of its development. That is the  sophistry of chauvinism , sophistry to side with US-NATO fascist aggressive imperialism through pacifism, through ignorance of the anti-fascist civil war, which transforms into an active support of US-NATO in deed for it conceals the concrete facts and revises Marxism Leninism with the sophistry.

It is a necessity  to emphasize an important assessment of Stalin, especially in relation to the current situation as a conclusion.

“The United Nations Organization, from being a world organization of nations with equal rights, has changed into an instrument of a war of aggression. In reality, the United Nations Organization is now not so much a world organization as an organization for the Americans and treats American aggression as acceptable... The United Nations Organization, which was created as a bulwark for keeping peace, has been transformed into an instrument of war, a means to unleash a new world war. The aggressive core of the United Nations Organization has formed the aggressive North Atlantic pact from ten member states and the representatives of these countries are now making decisions about war and peace in the United Nations Organization. It was these who implemented the scandalous decision on the aggression of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations Organizations.

In reality, the United Nations Organization is now not so much a world organization as an organization for the Americans and treats American aggression as acceptable.”  (35) 

Erdogan A

May 2022


1.       Lenin, Military Program of the Proletarian Revolution

2.       Report of Court Proceedings: The case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre–1937, Moscow: Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R

3.       Lenin, The Tasks of the Youth Leagues

4.       Lenin, The Collapse of the Second International

5.       Lenin, Apropos of an Anniversary

6.       Report by O.W. Kuusinen, From 13th Plenum of ECCI

7.       Lenin, Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet, Imperialism, and the World Economy

8.       Lenin, Address To The Second All-Russia Congress Of Communist Organisations Of The Peoples of The East

9.       Lenin, Lecture on the Proletariat, and War 

10.   Marx Engels, articles  in The New York Tribune

11.   Lenin, The Social-Chauvinists’ Sophisms , May 1, 1915

12.   Lenin, Under a False Flag

13.   Lenin, Speech At A Meeting In Butyrsky District August 2, 1918

14.   Lenin, Address To The Second All-Russia Congress Of Communist Organisations Of The Peoples of The East

15.   Lenin, Preface to N. Bukharin’s Pamphlet, Imperialism, and the World Economy

16.   Lenin, Lecture on the Proletariat, and War

17.   Lenin, Junius Pamphlet

18.   Lenin, Extraordinary Seventh Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)

19.   Lenin, Report On Foreign Policy

20.   Lenin, Left-wing Communism

21.   Lenin, Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution

22.   Lenin, Lecture on Proletarian and War

23.   Stalin Interview Roy Howard, March 1, 1936

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

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

26.   Stalin, To President Roosevelt

27.   Stalin, Speech at Celebration Meeting of the Moscow Soviet of Working People’s Deputies and Moscow Party and Public Organizations

28.   Stalin, Interview to “Pravda” Correspondent Concerning Mr. Winston Churchill’s Speech at Fulton, March 1946

29.   Stalin, interview with correspondent of Pravda, February 16, 1951

30.   Stalin, Economic Problems of the USSR, 1951

31.   Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution, and the Renegade Kautsky

32.   Lenin, On the Question of Dialectics

33.   Lenin, Conspectus of Hegel’s Book Lectures On the History of Philosophy, 1915

34.   Lenin, The Russian Brand of Südekum, February 1, 1915

35.   Stalin, Interview with "Pravda" Correspondent February 17, 1951



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