A History of Bolshevism: From Marx to the First Five Years' Plan

By Arthur Rosenberg; Ian F. D. Morrow | Go to book overview
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IV
THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL

August 1914 to February 1917

AT the time that Lenin parted company from the other Russian Socialists and Democrats he also broke with the Socialist International for similar reasons. In consequence of the rupture of his relations with the International, Lenin sought to inculcate his views into the non-Russian labouring classes in order to obtain sympathizers with the Bolshevik Party beyond the Russian frontiers and to establish a new -- Third -- International. Throughout the years 1903 to 1914 the existence of the Bolshevik Party within the Second International had only been rendered possible by maintaining the fiction that the leading groups in the International were of as revolutionary a character as were the Bolsheviks. After 1914 this fiction could no longer be maintained.

The so-called break-up of the Second International in 1914 was not indeed due to the fact that the Socialist working class was unable to prevent the outbreak of war. The war would have come even if the Social Democrat Parties in all the eight Great Powers had been led by heroic revolutionaries. For in 1914 there did not exist in Japan, Great Britain, or the United States any great Socialist Parties. In France, Austria- Hungary, and Italy the Socialists formed only a small minority of the population. In Russia, as long as the Tsar maintained his rule the Socialists were powerless. Although the Social Democrats in Germany were supported by a good third of the parliamentary voters, they were powerless when confronted with a middle-class majority supported by the great Prussian military and police system. In not a single one of the eight Great Powers, in July 1914, was a Socialist Government in power, nor were any of the eight Governments dependent for their parliamentary existence upon the Socialist vote. Hence the Socialists were powerless to prevent the war. The International cannot be condemned on this count and its break-up must not be ascribed to its inability

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