At last, on September 5, we entered Switzerland and proceeded to Berne.
We had not definitely decided vet where we were going to live – in Geneva or Berne. Ilyich felt drawn to the old familiar home – Geneva, where he had worked so well in the old days at the Societe de lecture, where there had been a good Russian library. Our Berne comrades, however, assured us that Geneva had changed a good deal and was now crowded with emigrants from other cities and from France, and the place was a regular hurry-burly. We took a room in Berne for the time being without definitely deciding anything.
Ilyich immediately got in touch with Geneva to find out whether there were any people there who were going to Russia (they had to be made use of for establishing contacts with Russia), whether the Russian printing plant still existed, whether Russian leaflets could be printed there, and so on.
The day after our arrival from Galicia, all the Bolsheviks then living in Berne – Shklovsky, the Safarovs, Duma Deputy Samoilov, Goberman, and others – got together and arranged a conference in the woods, at which Ilyich expounded his views on current events. As a result a resolution was adopted characterizing the war as an imperialist predatory war and the conduct of the leaders of the Second International, who had voted for war credits, as a betrayal of the cause of the proletariat. The resolution stated that "from the point of view of the working class and the toiling masses of all the peoples of Russia the lesser evil would be the defeat of the tsarist monarchy and its armies, which are oppressing Poland, the Ukraine and various other peoples in Russia." The resolution launched the slogan of propaganda for a socialist revolution, civil war, and an implacable struggle against chauvinism and patriotism to be waged in all countries without exception, and outlined a programme of action for Russia, namely, struggle against the monarchy, propaganda for the revolution, the fight for a republic, for the liberation of the nationalities oppressed by the "Great Russians," for the confiscation of the landowners' estates and for the eight-hour day.
The Berne resolution was in substance a challenge to the whole capitalist world. It was not written, of course, to be shelved. It was first of all sent to all the Bolshevik sections abroad. Then Samoilov took the theses with him for discussion with the Central Committee section in Russia and the Duma group. It was not known yet what stand they took Communication with Russia was broken off. We did not learn until later that the Russia section of the Central Committee and the Bolshevik section of the Duma group had struck the right note from the very start. For the advanced workers of our country, for our Party organization, the resolutions of international congresses on the war were not mere scraps of paper. They were a guide to action.
In the early days of the war, when mobilization had only just been declared, the Central Committee issued a leaflet with the appeal: "Down with war! War against war!" A number of factories in St. Petersburg went on strike on the day the reserves were mobilized, and an attempt was even made to organize a demonstration. But the war had called forth such a violent outburst of Black-Hundred patriotism and strengthened the military reaction to such an extent that nothing much could be done. Our Duma group took a firm stand against war and continued the line of struggle against the tsarist rule. This firmness impressed even the Mensheviks, and the Social-Democratic group as a whole adopted a resolution which was read from the Duma tribune. The resolution was very cautiously worded`and left many things unsaid, but it was a resolution of protest nevertheless and roused indignation among the rest of the Duma deputies. Feeling ran particularly high when the Social-Democratic group, still acting together, abstained from voting on war credits and walked out in a body as a demonstration of protest. The Bolshevik organization quickly went deep underground and began to issue leaflets containing directions how to utilize the war in the interests of developing and intensifying the revolutionary struggle. Anti-war propaganda was started in the provinces too. Local reports pointed to the fact that this propaganda had the support of the revolutionary-minded workers. We abroad learned about all this much later.
Fretting as they did in the dreary atmosphere of emigrant life abroad, from which they were so eager to escape, and having had no direct experience of the revolutionary upsurge which had taken place in Russia in recent months, our Bolshevik groups abroad lacked the firmness which our Duma deputies and the Bolshevik organizations in Russia had evinced. People were not clear on the question, and spoke mostly about which side was the attacking side.
In Paris, in the long run, the majority of the group expressed themselves against the war and volunteering, but some comrades – Sapozhkov (Kuznetsov), Kazakov (Britman, Sviagin), Misha Edisherov (Davydov), Moiseyev (Ilya, Zefir) and others – joined the French army as volunteers. The Menshevik, Bolshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary volunteers (about eighty men in all) adopted a declaration in the name of the "Russian Republicans," which was printed in the French press. Plekhanov made a farewell speech in honour of the volunteers before they left Paris.
The majority of our Paris group condemned volunteering. But in the other groups, too, there was no definite clarity on the question. Vladimir Ilyich realized how important it was at such a serious moment for every Bolshevik to have a clear understanding of the significance of events. A comradely exchange of opinions was necessary it was inadvisable to fix all shades of opinion right away until the matter had been threshed out. That is why, in his answer to Karpinsky's letter framing the views of the Geneva section, Ilyich wrote: "Would not this 'criticism' and my 'anti-criticism' make a better subject for discussion?"
Ilyich knew that an understanding could more easily be reached in a comradely discussion than by correspondence. Of course, this was no time to keep such an issue long confined to comradely talks within a narrow circle of Bolsheviks.
Early in October we found out that Plekhanov, who had returned from Paris, had already addressed a meeting in Geneva and was going to read a paper in Lausanne.
Plekhanov's position worried Ilyich very much. He could not believe that Plekhanov had become a "defencist." "I just can't believe it," he said, adding thoughtfully, "it must be the effect of his military past." When a telegram was received from Lausanne on October 10, saying that the lecture was scheduled for the next day, the 11th, Ilyich got busy preparing his speech, and I took care to relieve him of all other business, and arranged with our people who was to go from Berne, etc. We had settled down in Berne for good. The Zinovievs were living there, too, by that time (they had arrived a fortnight after us), and so was Inessa.
I could not go to the lecture myself, and learned all about it afterwards from the others. After reading F. Ilyin's memoirs about that lecture in the Transactions of the Lenin Institute, and knowing what it had meant to Ilyich at the time, I can picture the whole thing quite vividly. Inessa gave me a lull account of it afterwards too. Our people came to the lecture from all over. Zinoviev, Inessa and Shklovsky came from Berne, Rozmirovich, Krylenko, Bukharin and the Lausanne comrades came from Baugy, near Clarens.
Ilyich was afraid he would not be admitted to Plekhanov's lecture and say what he had to say – the Mensheviks might not let in so many Bolsheviks. I can imagine how reluctant he was to see people and carry on small talk with them, and I can understand the naive ruses he devised to shake them off. I can clearly see him amid the dinner-table bustle at the Movshovichs', so withdrawn, absorbed and agitated that he could not swallow a bite. One can understand the rather forced humour of the remark uttered in an undertone to those sitting next to him about Plekhanov's opening speech, in which the latter had declared that he had not been prepared to address such a large audience. "The slyboots," Ilyich muttered, and gave himself up entirely to hearing what Plekhanov had to say. The first part of the lecture in which Plekhanov attacked the Germans had his approval, and he applauded it. In the second part, however, Plekhanov set forth his "defence-of-the-country" views. There was no room for doubt any more. Ilyich asked for the floor – he was the only one to do so. He went up to the speaker's table with a pot of beer in his hand. He spoke calmly, and only the pallor of his face betraved his agitation. He said in effect that the war was not an accidental occurrence, that the way for it had been paved by the whole nature of the development of bourgeois society. The international congresses at Stuttgart, Copenhagen and Basle had defined what the attitude of the Socialists should be towards the impending war. Only by combatting the chauvinist intoxication in their countries would the Social-Democrats be fulfilling their duty. The war, which had just begun, ought to be converted into a decisive fight against the ruling classes on the part of the proletariat.
Ilyich had only ten minutes. He could only deal with the bare essentials. Plekhanov retorted with his usual display of wit. The Mensheviks, who were an overwhelming majority, wildly applauded him. The impression was that Plekhanov had won the day.
Three days later, on October 14, in the same hall where Plekhanov had spoken – the Maison du Peuple – Ilyich was to deliver his own lecture. The hall was packed. Tile lecture was a great success. Ilyich was in a buoyant fighting mood. He elaborated his views on the war, which he branded as an imperialist war. He pointed out in his speech that a leaflet against the war had already been issued in Russia by the Central Committee and that similar leaflets had been issued by the Caucasian organization and other groups. He pointed out that the best socialist newspaper in Europe at the moment was Golos (Voice), in which Martov was writing. "The more often and seriously I have disagreed with Martov," he said, "the more definitely must I now say that this writer is doing just what a Social-Democrat should do. He is criticizing his government, denouncing the bourgeoisie of his own country, railing against its ministers."
In private conversation Ilyich often remarked what a good thing it would be if Martov came over to our side altogether. But he doubted whether Martov would stick to his present position for long. He knew how prone Martov was to yield to outside influences. "He writes like that while he is alone," Ilyich added. Ilyich's lecture was a tremendous success. He repeated the same lecture – "The Proletariat and the War" – in Geneva at a later date.
Ilyich returned from his lecture trip to find a letter of Shlyapnikov's from Stockholm informing him about the work in Russia, about Vandervelde's telegram to the Duma group and the replies of the Menshevik and Bolshevik deputies. When war was declared Emile Vandervelde, Belgian representative on the International Socialist Bureau, accepted a ministerial post in the Belgian Government. He had been in Russia shortly before the war and seen the struggle which the Russian workers were waging against the autocracy, but had failed to grasp its full import. Vandervelde had sent telegrams to both sections of the Social-Democratic group of the Duma. Me called on the group to help the Russian Government conduct a determined war against Germany on the side of the Entente.
The Menshevik deputies, who, for the moment, had refused to vote for war credits, began to vacillate when they learned what position the majority of the Socialist parties had taken up. Their answer to Vandervelde, therefore, showed a complete change of front. They declared in it that they would not oppose the war. The Bolshevik group sent a reply emphatically rejecting any suggestion of supporting the war and discontinuing the struggle against the tsarist government. Much was left unsaid in this reply, but the main line was correct. It showed how important it was to maintain contact with Russia, and Ilyich strongly insisted that Shlyapnikov should remain in Stockholm and establish still closer contact with the Duma group and the Russians at large. This could best be arranged through Stockholm.
As soon as Ilyich arrived in Berne from Cracow, he wrote to Karpinsky, enquiring whether it was possible to have a leaflet printed in Geneva. The theses were adopted in Berne soon after our arrival, and a month later it was decided to recast and publish them in the form of a manifesto. Ilyich got in touch with Karpinsky again concerning its publication. He sent him letters by trusted messengers, avoiding the post and maintaining strict secrecy. It was not clear at the time what attitude the Swiss Government would adopt towards anti-militarist propaganda.
The day after receiving Shlyapnikov's first letter, Vladimir Ilyich wrote to Karpinsky:
"Dear K. Just when I happened to be in Geneva we received gratifying news from Russia. The text of the Russian Social-Democrats' reply to Vandervelde arrived too. We have therefore decided, instead of a separate manifesto, to issue a paper Sotsial-Demokrat (The Social-Democrat), the Central Organ.... By Monday we shall send you some slight corrections to the manifesto and a different signature (for after having got in touch with Russia we are coming out more officially)."
Ilyich went on a lecture tour again at the end of October, first to Montreux, then to Zurich. Trotsky spoke at the lecture in Zurich, protesting against Ilyich calling Kautsky a "traitor." Ilyich deliberately put the case very strongly in order to make it quite clear what line people were taking. The fight with the defencists was in full swing.
The struggle was not an internal Party affair that concerned Russian matters alone. It was an international affair.
"The Second International is dead, vanquished by opportunism," Vladimir Ilyich maintained. Forces had to be rallied for a new International, the Third, purged of opportunism.
But what forces were there to back us?
The only M.P.'s who refused to vote for war credits besides the Russian Social-Democrats were the Serbian, of whom there were only two in the Serbian Parliament. In Germany at the beginning of the war everyone had voted for war credits, but already on September 10 Karl Liebknecht, F. Mehring, Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin had drawn up a declaration protesting against the stand taken up by the majority of the German Social-Democrats. They got this declaration published in the Swiss newspapers only at the end of October, after having failed to get it published in the German papers. The most Left position of all the German newspapers was taken up at the very outset of the war by Bremen Bürgerzeitung, which declared on August 23 that the "proletarian international" was destroyed. In France the Socialist Party headed by Guesde and Vaillant had slink to chauvinism. Among the rank and file of the Party, however, feeling against the war was pretty strong. Vandervelde's conduct was typical of the Belgian Party. In Britain the chauvinism of Hyndman and the whole British Socialist Party was rebuffed by MacDonald and Keir Hardie of the opportunist Independent Labour Party. There was a feeling against war in the neutral countries, but for the most part it bore a pacifist character. More revolutionary than the others was the Italian Socialist Party with its newspaper Avanti. It opposed chauvinism and exposed the selfish secret motives behind the appeals for war. It was hacked by the vast majority of the advanced workers. On September 27 an Italo-Swiss Socialist Conference was held at Lugano. Our theses concerning the war were sent to this conference. The conference branded the war as an imperialist war and called upon the international proletariat to fight for peace.
On the whole, the voices against chauvinism, the voices of the internationalists still sounded very weak, isolated and uncertain, but Ilyich was sure that they would grow steadily stronger. His fighting spirit was high throughout the autumn.
That autumn is associated in my mind with the colourful picture of the Berne woods. It was a lovely autumn that year. In Berne we lived in Distelweg, a clean, quiet little street adjoining the Berne woods, which stretched for several miles. Inessa lived across the road, the Zinovievs a five-minute walk from us, and the Shklovskys a ten-minute walk. We used to roam for hours along the woodland paths, which were bestrewn with yellow leaves. Mostly the three of us went on these walks together – Vladimir Ilyich, Inessa and myself. Vladimir Ilyich spoke about his plans of struggle along international lines. Inessa was very enthusiastic about it all. She had begun to take a direct part in the rising struggle – she carried on correspondence, translated various of our documents into French and English, collected material, talked with people, etc. Sometimes we would sit for hours on a sunny wooded hillside, Ilyich jotting down notes for his articles and speeches, and polishing his formulations, I studying Italian with the aid of a Toussaint textbook, and Inessa sewing a skirt and basking in the autumn sunshine – she had not quite recovered yet from the effects of her imprisonment. In the evening we would all gather in Grigory's (Zinoviev's) tiny room – the three of them, Grigory, Lilina end their little boy Stvopa, lived in a single room – and after playing about with little Styopa before he went to bed, Ilyich would make a number of concrete proposals.
The main points of the line of struggle were concisely formulated by Ilyich in his letter of October 17 to Shlyapnikov.
...Kautsky "is now the most harmful of them all. No words can describe how dangerous and mean are his sophisms which cover up the rascality of the opportunists (in the Neue Zeit (New Era) with smooth and slick phrases. The opportunists are an open evil. The German centre with Kautsky at its head, a hidden evil embellished for diplomatic purposes and dulling the eyes, the intelligence, and the consciousness of the workers, is more dangerous than anything else. Our task at present is a determined and open struggle against international opportunism and those who shield it (Kautsky). This is what we are going to do in the Central Organ which we shall soon issue (probably two pages). One must exert every effort to uphold the just hatred of the class-conscious workers for the hideous conduct of the Germans; one must draw from this hatred political conclusions against opportunism and against every concession to opportunism. This is an international task. It devolves upon us; there is nobody else. One cannot shirk it. The slogan of 'simply' re-establishing the International is incorrect (because the danger of a spineless conciliatory resolution along the line of Kautsky and Vandervelde is very, very great!). The slogan of "peace" is incorrect, as the slogan must be: converting the national war into civil war. (This conversion may take a long time, it may and will demand a number of preliminary conditions, but the work must all be conducted along the line of such a change, in this spirit and in this direction.) Not the sabotaging of the war, not undertaking sporadic individual acts in this direction, but the conducting of mass propaganda (and not only among 'civilians') that leads to the conversion of the war into civil war. In Russia, chauvinism hides behind phrases about la belle France and unfortunate Belgium (how about the Ukraine and others?), or behind the 'popular' hatred for the Germans (and 'Kaiserism'). It is therefore our absolute duty to struggle against those sophisms. In order that the struggle may proceed along a definite and clear line, one must have a slogan that summarizes it. This slogan is: For us Russians, from the point of view of the interests of the labouring masses and the working class of Russia, there cannot be the slightest doubt, absolutely no doubt whatever, that the lesser evil would be, here and now, the defeat of tsarism in the present war. For tsarism is a hundred times worse than Kaiserism. Not the sabotage of the war, but a struggle against chauvinism, all propaganda and agitation directed towards international rallying (drawing together, expressing solidarity, reaching agreements selon les circonstances) of the proletariat for the purpose of civil war. It would also be erroneous both to appeal for individual acts of firing at officers, etc., and to allow arguments like the one which says: We do not want to help Kaiserism. The former is a deviation towards anarchism, the latter towards opportunism. As to ourselves, we must prepare a mass (at least a collective) action in the army, not of one nation alone, and conduct all the work of propaganda and agitation in this direction. To direct the work (stubborn, systematic work that may require a long time) in the spirit of converting the national war into civil war – this is the whole issue. The moment for such a transformation is a different question; at present it is not clear as yet. We must allow this moment to ripen, we must systematically 'force it to ripen.'...
"The peace slogan is in my judgement incorrect at the present moment. This is a philistine's, a preacher's slogan. The proletarian slogan must be civil war.
"Objectively, from the fundamental change in the situation of Europe, there follows such a slogan for the epoch of mass war. The same slogan follows from the Basle resolution.
"We can neither 'promise' civil war nor 'decree it,' but it is our duty to work in this direction, if need be, for a very long time. You will find details in the article in the Central Organ."
Two and a half months after the outbreak of the war Ilyich had worked out a clear distinct line of struggle. It formed the dominant note of all his subsequent activity. The international scope of his activity gave a new tone to his whole work in connection with Russia, gave it fresh vigour and new colour. Without those long years of hard preliminary work devoted to the building up of the Party and the organization of the working class in Russia, Ilyich would not have been able to take the right line in regard to the problems raised by the imperialist war as quickly and firmly as he did. Had he not been in the thick of the international struggle, he would not have been able so firmly to lead the Russian proletariat to the victory of October.
Number 33 of Sotsial-Demokrat came out on November 1, 1914. Only five hundred copies of it were printed at first, but later it was found necessary to increase it by another thousand. Ilyich informed Karpinsky with joy on November 14 that the paper had been delivered at a point near the frontier and would soon be forwarded on.
With the aid of Naine and Graber a resume of the manifesto was printed on November 13 in La Sentinelle, a Swiss newspaper published in French in the Neufchatel working-class centre of Chaux-de-Fond. Ilyich was elated. We sent translations of the manifesto to French, English and German newspapers.
With the aim of developing propaganda among the French Vladimir Ilyich got in touch by letter with Karpinsky on the question of arranging a lecture by Inessa in French in Geneva. He wrote to Shlyapnikov about his addressing the Swedish congress. Shlyapnikov did address it, and his speech was a success. Thus little by little the Bolsheviks developed "international action."
Things were worse as far as contacts with Russia were concerned. Shlyapnikov sent some interesting material from St. Petersburg for No. 34 of the Central Organ, but along with this the paper had regretful occasion to publish a report about the arrest of the five Bolshevik Duma deputies. Connections with Russia weakened again.
While waging a passionate struggle against the betrayal of the workers cause on the part of the Second International, Ilyich at the same time began an article on "Karl Marx" for Granat's Encyclopaedic Dictionary as soon as we arrived in Berne. This article, dealing with the teachings of Marx, opens with an outline of his philosophy under two headings: "Philosophic Materialism" and "Dialectics," followed by an exposition of Marx's economic theory, in which he describes Marx's approach to the question of socialism and the tactics of the class struggle of the proletariat.
Marx's teaching was not usually presented in this way. In connection with the chapters on philosophic materialism and dialectics, Ilyich began diligently to reread Hegel and other philosophers, and kept up this study even after he had finished the article. The object of his philosophic studies was to master the method of transforming philosophy into a concrete guide to action. His brief remarks on the dialectical approach to all phenomena made in 1921 during the trade-union controversy with Trotsky and Bukharin best testify to the great benefit which Ilyich derived in this respect from his philosophic studies begun upon his arrival in Berne; they were a continuation of his philosophic studies of 1908-1909, when he had combatted the Machists.
Struggle and studies, study and research with Ilyich were always strongly linked together, and closely bound up between themselves, although they may have appeared at first sight to run in parallels.
The beginning of 1915 saw the continuation of the strenuous work of consolidating the Bolshevik groups abroad. Definite understanding had been achieved, but the times were such that solidarity was needed more than ever before. Before the war the Centre of the Bolshevik groups, known as the Committee of Organizations Abroad, had been in Paris. Now it had to be transferred to a neutral country – to Switzerland, to Berne, where the office of the Central Organ was located. Agreement had to be reached on all points – appraisal of the war, the new tasks confronting the Party, and the methods of handling them; it was also necessary to define the work of the groups more definitely. The Baugy group, for instance (Krylenko, Bukharin, Rozmirovich), decided to publish abroad their own organ Zvezda (Star), and went about it with such precipitancy that they did not even arrange the matter with the Central Organ. We got to know about this plan from Inessa. Such a publication would hardly have been expedient in any case. There was no money with which to publish the Central Organ, and although there were no differences so far, they might easily arise. An unguarded phrase might be pounced on by opponents and exaggerated in every way. We had to keep in step together. It was such a time. A conference of groups abroad was called in Berne at the end of February. In addition to the Swiss groups there was the group from Paris represented by Grisrha Belenky. He gave a full account of the defencist mood that prevailed among the Paris group on the outbreak of the war. The Londoners were to come, and were represented by proxy. The Baugy group came towards the end of the conference after long hesitation as to whether to come or not. Together with them came the "Japanese" – as we called the Kiev comrades Pyatakov and Bosch (sister of E.F. Rozmirovich), who had escaped from exile in Siberia by way of Japan and America. It was a time when we snatched desperately at every new person who was like-minded. We liked the "Japanese." Their arrival undoubtedly strengthened our forces abroad.
The conference adopted a clear resolution on the war, debated the United-States-of-Europe slogan (vehemently opposed by Inessa), outlined the character of the work of the groups abroad, decided not to publish a Baugy newspaper, and elected a new Committee of Organizations Abroad, consisting of the Berne comrades Shklovsky, Kasparov, Inessa Armand, Lilina and Krupskaya.
Kasparov lived in Berlin before the war (1913). Ilyich heard about him from our Baku comrades Yenukidze, Shaumyan and others. At that period the national question had claimed Ilyich's attention and he had been anxious to get into the closest possible touch with those who were interested in the question and had the right approach to it.
In the summer of 1913 Kasparov had written an article for Prosveshchenie on the national question. Ilyich had answered him: "I have received and read your article. The subject, in my opinion, has been chosen well and handled correctly, but it lacks literary finish. There is too much of – shall I say? – 'agitation,' which is unsuitable in an article on a theoretical problem. I think you ought to rewrite it, or let us try." The choice of a subject on the national question and its proper exposition meant a good deal, and Ilyich immediately got Kasparov wound up on the job of collecting material on the national question, and concretizing the things that interested him, confident that Kasparov would not overlook anything that was really essential and important. Planning a short visit to Berlin in January 1914, Ilyich wrote to Kasparov that it was necessary for them to meet, and suggested how it was to be done.
Moments of acute struggle and moments of uplift tend to bring people closer together. The workers' movement in St. Petersburg began developing swiftly in July 1914, and a letter was received about the rising revolutionary tide. Until then Ilyich had always addressed Kasparov in his letters "Dear Comrade," but on this occasion, knowing that Kasparov welcomed the revolutionary upsurge as enthusiastically as we did, he changed this mode of address. "Dear friend," Ilyich wrote him. "Will you please take the trouble of keeping us informed throughout the revolutionary days in Russia. We do not get any newspapers. Please...." There follows a programme for maintaining contact.
When the war broke out Kasparov was obliged to leave Germany and move to Berne. He and Ilyich met like old friends. They saw each other in Berne every day, and soon Kasparov became one of the most intimate comrades of our group. That is how he came to be elected to the Committee of Organizations Abroad.
The rallying of our forces on an international scale became the order of the day. How difficult that task was was shown by the London Conference of the Socialist parties of the Entente countries (Britain, Belgium, France and Russia), which was held on February 14, 1915. The conference was called by Vandervelde but organized by the British Independent Labour Party headed by Keir Hardie and MacDonald. Prior to the conference they had been opposed to the war and stood for international unity. The I.L.P. had first intended inviting delegates from Germany and Austria, but the French had declared they would not attend the conference if that were done. There were 11 delegates from Britain, 16 from France, three from Belgium, and three Socialist-Revolutionaries from Russia, and one delegate from the Menshevik Organizing Committee. We were to be represented there by Litvinov. It was obvious in advance what kind of conference it would be, and what could be expected of it, and it was therefore arranged that Litvinov would merely read the declaration of our Central Committee. Ilyich drew up a rough draft of the declaration for Litvinov. It put forward the demand that Vandervelde, Guesde and Sembat should resign immediately from the bourgeois cabinets of Belgium and France, and that all the Socialist parties should support the Russian workers in their fight against tsarism. The declaration stated that the Social-Democrats of Germany and Austria had committed a monstrous crime against socialism and the International by voting for war credits and concluding a "civil peace" with the Junkers, the clergy and the bourgeoisie, but that the Belgian and French Socialists had done no better. The workers of Russia extended a comradely hand to the Socialists who acted like Karl Liebknecht, like the Socialists of Serbia and Italy, like the British comrades of the I.L.P. and some of the members of the British Socialist Party, like our arrested comrades of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party.
"This is the road we call you to take, the road of socialism. Down with chauvinism, which is ruining the proletarian cause! Long live international socialism!" These were the concluding words of the declaration, which was signed by the Central Committee and by the representative of the Lettish Social-Democrats Berzins. The chairman did not give Litvinov a chance to read the declaration to the end. Litvinov therefore handed it over to the chairman and walked out declaring that the R.S.D.L.P. was not participating in the conference. After Litvinov's withdrawal, the conference adopted a resolution supporting the "war of liberation" until victory over Germany was achieved. Among those who voted for that resolution were Keir Hardie and MacDonald.
Meanwhile preparations were going forward for an international women's conference. The important thing was not only to have such a conference take place, but to avoid its assuming a pacifist character, and have it take up a definite revolutionary stand. A good deal of preliminary work was therefore involved, the brunt of which was borne by Inessa. Assisting the editors of the Central Organ in translating all kinds of documents, and having been directly engaged in the struggle against "defencism" from the very outset, she was admirably suited for the job. Besides, she knew foreign languages, and corresponded with Clara Zetkin, Balabanova, Kollontai and Englishwomen, thus helping to strengthen the early threads of international ties. Those threads were extremely weak and often broke, but Inessa kept mending them again and again. She corresponded with the French comrades through Stael, who lived in Paris. Contact with Balabanova was easiest of all. She worked in Italy and took part in the work of the Avanti. The revolutionary temper of the Italian Socialist Party was at its highest pitch at that time. Anti-defencist feeling was rising in Germany. On December 2 Liebknecht voted against war credits. Clara Zetkin convened the International Women's Conference. She was the secretary of the International Bureau of Socialist Women. Together with K. Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and F. Mehring she fought against the chauvinist majority in the German Social-Democratic Party. Inessa corresponded with her. As for Kollontai, she had left the Mensheviks by that time. She wrote to Vladimir Ilyich and me in January and sent us a leaflet. "My dear respected comrade," Ilyich wrote her in return. "Thank you very much for the leaflet (the most I can do at present is to hand it over to the local members of Rabotnitsa editorial board – they have already sent a letter to Zetkin of apparently the same content as yours)." Ilyich then goes on to clarify the position of the Bolsheviks. "Apparently you do not entirely agree with the civil war slogan, which you relegate, so to speak, to a minor (I should even say to a conditional) place behind the slogan of peace. And you underline that 'what we must put forward is a slogan that would unite us all.'
"Frankly, what I fear most of all at the present time is just this kind of indiscriminate unity, which, in my opinion, is most dangerous and harmful to the proletariat." It was on the basis of Ilyich's position that Inessa corresponded with Kollontai about the conference. Kollontai was not able to attend it.
The international conference at Berne was held on March 26-28. The largest and best organized delegation was the German, headed by Clara Zetkin. The delegates of the Russian Central Committee were Armand, Lilina, Ravich, Krupskaya and Rozmirovich. The Polish "Rozlamowcy" were represented by Kamenska (Domskaya), who kept together with the delegation of the Central Committee. There were two more Russians representing the Organizing Committee. Balabanova represented Italy. Louise Simanot, a Frenchwoman, was strongly influenced by Balabanova. The temper of the Dutch was sheerly pacifist. Roland-Holst, who then belonged to the Left wing, could not come; there was a delegate from the Troelstra Party, which was out-and-out chauvinist. The English delegates belonged to the opportunist I.L.P., and the Swiss delegates were pacifistically inclined. This tendency predominated. In comparison with the London Conference six weeks before, this one, of course, signified no little progress. The fact that women Socialists of the belligerent countries had gathered together at this conference was significance in itself.
Most of the German delegates belonged to the K. Liebknecht-Rosa Luxemburg group. This group had begun to dissociate itself from the chauvinists and fight its government. Rosa Luxemburg had been arrested. This held good only for home use. On the international rostrum, however, they thought they had to be as conciliatory as possible, since they represented a country that was winning battles at the fronts of the movement. If the conference, convened with such difficulty, broke up, they would be held responsible for it, and the chauvinists of all countries, the German social-patriots first and foremost would have exulted at its failure. Clara Zetkin, therefore, was inclined to make concessions to the pacifists, and this meant watering down the revolutionary essence of the resolution. Our delegation – the delegation of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. – supported the point of view of Ilyich as expressed in his letter to Kollontai. It was a matter not of any kind of unity, but unity for revolutionary struggle against chauvinism, for the proletariat's uncompromising struggle against the ruling classes. Chauvinism was not condemned in the resolution drawn up by a committee consisting of German, English and Dutch delegates. We submitted our own declaration. It was defended by Inessa, and supported by Kamenska, the representative of the Polish women. We were not supported by the conference. Everyone criticized our "splitting" policy. Events soon proved the correctness of our position, however. The tame pacifism of the English and the Dutch did not advance international action a single step. A greater role in hastening the end of the war was played by the revolutionary struggle and a clean break with the chauvinists.
Ilyich tackled the task of rallying the forces for the struggle on the international front with all the ardour of his nature. "No matter that we are so few," he said once. "We shall have millions with us." He drafted our resolution for the Berne Women's Conference, too, and followed all its proceedings. Obviously, it was very difficult for him to put up with the role of a sort of shadow-leader in the momentous events that were taking place around him and in which he longed with all his being to take a direct part.
One incident sticks in my memory. Inessa and I were visiting Abram Skovno in the hospital (he had undergone an operation), when Ilyich came along and urged Inessa to go and see Zetkin, and persuade her of the correctness of our position. She would have to see, she could not help seeing, he said, that sliding down into pacifism at such a time was impossible. All the issues at stake had to be emphasized very strongly. Ilyich cited argument after argument that was to be used to convince Zetkin. Inessa was not keen on going. She did not believe that anything would come of it. Ilyich insisted and pleaded warmly. Nothing came of Inessa's talk with Zetkin.
Another international conference was held in Berne on April 17 – the Conference of Socialist Youth. A fairly large number of young men from various belligerent countries, who refused to go to the front and fight in the imperialist war, had gathered in Switzerland at the time, to which they had emigrated as a neutral country. These young men, it goes without saying, were revolutionary minded. It was no accident that the International Women's Conference was immediately followed by the Conference of Socialist Youth.
Inessa and Safarov spoke at the conference on behalf of the Central Committee of our Party.
In March my mother died. She had been a close comrade, who had helped in all our work. In Russia, during police raids, she would hide all illegal materials. She took parcels and messages to comrades in prison. She had lived with us in Siberia and abroad, done the housekeeping, entertained the comrades who came to see us, made special vests with illegal literature sewn up in them, written the "skeletons" for invisible-ink letters, etc. The comrades loved her. The last winter had been a very bad one for her. Her strength was at very low ebb. She had been homesick, but had had no one in Russia to take care of her there. She often had arguments with Vladimir Ilyich, but had always been solicitous about him, and Vladimir, too, had been considerate towards her. Once Mother sat looking glum. She was an inveterate smoker and had forgotten to buy cigarettes; it was Sunday, and no tobacco was to be obtained anywhere. Seeing this, Ilyich said: "What a thing to worry about – I'11 get you some in a minute," and off he went to hunt up some cigarettes in the cafes. He found some and brought them home. Shortly before she died Mother said to me: "No, I won't go to Russia by myself. I'11 wait until you two go." On another occasion she began to talk about religion. She considered herself religious, but had not gone to church for years, had never kept the fast, never prayed, and, in general, religion played no part in her life, but she did not like to talk about it. And now she had broken her rule, saying: "I believed in God in my youth, but after having lived and learned life, I saw what nonsense the whole thing was." She had often expressed a desire to be cremated when she died. The little house in which we lived stood quite close to the Berne woods, and when the warm spring sun began to shine, she felt drawn to the woods. We went there together, and sat on a bench for about half an hour; she barely managed to walk back, and the next day her death agony started. We did as she had asked – cremated her body at the Berne Crematorium.
Vladimir Ilyich and I sat waiting in the cemetery, and in about two hours an attendant brought us a tin can with the ashes still warm in it, and showed us where to bury it.
Family life became more student-like than ever. Our landlady, a devout old woman who worked as a presser, asked us to look for other lodgings as she wanted to let our room to religious-minded people. We moved to another room.
The trial of the five Duma deputies took place on February 10. All five Bolshevik deputies – Petrovsky, Muranov, Badayev, Samoilov and Shagov, together with L. B. Kamenev were sentenced to deportation.
In his article "What the Trial of the R.S.D.L.P. Group Has Proved," written on March 29, 1915, Vladimir Ilyich stated: "The facts show that in the very first months following the outbreak of the war, the class-conscious vanguard of the workers in Russia rallied in deed around the Central Committee and the Central Organ. However unpalatable this fact may be to certain 'groups,' it is incontrovertible. The words cited in the indictment:'The guns should be turned not against our brothers, the wage slaves of other countries, but against the reactionary and bourgeois governments and parties of all countries' – these words, thanks to the trial, will spread and have already spread throughout Russia an appeal to proletarian internationalism, to proletarian revolution. The class slogan of the vanguard of the workers of Russia has now reached the broadest masses thanks to the trial.
"Widespread chauvinism among the bourgeoisie and part of the petty bourgeoisie, vacillations in the other Part, and such an appeal of the working class – such is the actual objective picture of our political divisions. It is to this actual picture, and not to the good wishes of the intellectuals and founders of small groups that one must adjust one's 'prospects,' hopes and slogans.
The Pravda-ist newspapers and work of the 'Muranov type' have created unity among four-fifths of Russia's class-conscious workers. About forty thousand workers bought Pravda, and many more read it. Even if war, prison, Siberia and penal servitude break five times more of them, ten times more – this stratum can never be destroyed. It is alive. It is imbued with the revolutionary spirit and anti-chauvinism. It alone stands among the masses of the people, in the very thick of them, as the spokesman of internationalism of the toiling, the exploited and the oppressed. It alone has stood its ground amid the general ruin. It alone leads the semi-proletarian strata away from the social-chauvinism of the Cadets, Trudoviks, Plekhanov and Nasha Zarya to socialism. Its existence, its ideas, its activities, its appeal to the 'brotherhood of wage slaves of other countries' have been revealed to the whole of Russia by the trial of the R.S.D.L.P. group.
"It is with this section that we must work. It is its unity that we must defend against the social-chauvinists, It is along this road alone that the working-class movement in Russia can develop towards social revolution and not towards national liberalism of the 'European' type."
Events soon proved that Lenin was right. He worked indefatigably to disseminate the ideas of internationalism, to expose social-chauvinism in all its varied forms.
After my mother's death I had a relapse of my old complaint and was ordered by the doctors to take the mountain air. Ilyich found through the advertisements a cheap boarding-house in a non-fashionable locality at the foot of the Rothorn in Sorenberg. We lived there in the Hotel Marienthal all through the summer.
Shortly before our departure the "Japanese" (Bosch and Pyatakov) arrived in Berne with a scheme for establishing abroad an illegal magazine in which all the most important questions could be comprehensively dealt with. The Communist was to be published under the auspices of the Central Organ, with P. and N. Kievsky (Bosch and Pyatakov) as associate editors. This arrangement was agreed upon. During the summer Ilyich wrote a comprehensive article for the Communist "The Collapse of the Second International," and in cooperation with Zinoviev he wrote, in preparation for the conference of internationalists, a pamphlet entitled Socialism and War.
We fixed up nicely in Sorenberg. All around there were woods and mountains, with even snow on the summit of Rothorn. The mail was delivered with Swiss punctuality. We found that even in such an out-of-the-way village as Sorenberg one could obtain any book one needed from the Berne or Zurich libraries free of charge. All you had to do was to send a post card to the library giving your address and the book you wanted. No questions were asked, no certificates or guarantees were demanded. Such a contrast to bureaucratic France! Two days later the book arrived in a cardboard wrapper with a tab tied to it with string, on one side of which was the address of the reader, on the other the address of the library that had sent it. This enabled Ilyich to work even in such an out of-the-way place. Ilyich was lavish of praise for Swiss culture. He found he could work very well in Sorenberg. After a while Inessa came to stay with us. We would get up early, and before dinner, which was served throughout Switzerland at 12 o'clock, each of us would work in different nooks of the garden. Inessa often played the piano during those hours, and it was very pleasant to work to the sounds of music drifting down into the garden. In the afternoon we used to go for walks in the mountains sometimes for the rest of the day. Ilyich loved the mountains – he liked to climb the spurs of Rothorn towards the evening, when one got a beautiful view from the heights with the rose-tinted mist curling below, or to roam about the Schrattenfluh (a mountain about two kilometres from us) which we translated as "accursed steps."'It was covered with a sort of corroded rock worn away by the spring streams, and it was impossible to climb to its broad flat summit. We seldom climbed the Rothorn, although it commanded a lovely view of the Alps. We went to bed at cockcrow, coming home with armfuls of alpine roses and berries; we were all passionate mushroomers – there were edible mushrooms galore, but lots of other fungus growth too, and we used to argue fiercely over the different kinds and names as if it were a resolution on some vital issue.
The struggle in Germany was beginning to rise. The International, a magazine founded by Rosa Luxemburg and Franz Mehring, appeared in April and was immediately suppressed. A pamphlet by Junius (Rosa Luxemburg) The Crisis of German Social-Democracy was published. An appeal of the German Left Social-Democrats written by Karl Liebknecht entitled "The Chief Enemy Is in Your Own Country" was issued, and at the beginning of June K. Liebknecht and Duncker drew up "An Open Letter to the Central Committee of the Social-Democratic Party and the Reichstag Faction" protesting against the attitude of the Social-Democratic majority towards the war. This "Open Letter" was signed by a thousand party functionaries.
In face of the growing influence of the Left Social-Democrats, the Central Committee of the German Social-Democratic Party decided on a countermove. On the one hand it issued a manifesto over the signatures of Kautsky, Haase and Bernstein against annexations and calling for party unity, and on the other it came out against the Left opposition in its own name and in the name of the Reichstag faction.
In Switzerland Robert Grimm called a preliminary conference for July 11 at Berne to discuss the preparations for the international conference of Left-wingers. The meeting was attended by seven persons – Grimm, Zinoviev, P. B. Axelrod, Warski, Valetsky, Balabanova and Morgari. As a matter of fact, apart from Zinoviev, there were no real Left-wingers at that preliminary conference, and one could gather from the drift of their talk that non of its participants was seriously interested in convening a conference of the Lefts.
Vladimir Ilyich was worried, and sent letters out in all directions – to Zinoviev, Radek, Berzins, Kollontai and the Lausanne comrades – to make sure that places were secured for genuine Lefts at the forthcoming conference, and to ensure the greatest possible unity among them. By the middle of August the Bolsheviks had drawn up: 1) a manifesto; 2) draft resolutions; 3) a draft declaration, which were forwarded to comrades of the extreme Left for consideration. By October Lenin's and Zinoviev's pamphlet Socialism and War had been translated into German.
The conference was held in Zimmerwald on September 5-8. Delegates were there from eleven countries (thirty-eight delegates in all). What was known as the Zimmerwald Left group consisted of only nine people (Lenin, Zinoviev, Berzins, Hoglund, Nerman, Radek, Borchardt and Platten; after the conference Roland-Holst joined them). Other Russian delegates at the conference were Trotsky, Axelrod, Martov, Natanson, Chernov and a Bundist. Trotsky did not join the Left Zimmerwaldists.
Vladimir Ilyich left for the conference before it was due to open, and at a private meeting on the 4th made a report on the character of the war and the tactics to be applied by the international conference. The dispute centred around the question of the manifesto. The Lefts submitted their draft manifesto and resolution on the war and the tasks of the Social-Democrats. The majority rejected the draft of the Lefts and adopted a much vaguer and less militant manifesto. The Lefts signed the general manifesto. The following appraisal of the Zimmerwald Conference was given by Vladimir Ilyich in his article "The First Step": "Should our Central Commit tee have signed a manifesto that suffered from inconsistency and timidity? We think we should. Our disagreement, the disagreement not only of our Central Committee but Of the whole Left, international, revolutionary-Marxist part of the conference is openly expressed in a special resolution, and in a special draft manifesto, and in a special declaration on the motives of voting for a compromise manifesto. We did not conceal one iota of our views, slogans and tactics. The German edition of our pamphlet Socialism and War was distributed at the conference. We have promulgated, are promulgating and shall promulgate our views to no less an extent than the manifesto will be promulgated. That this manifesto is a step forward towards a real struggle against opportunism, towards breaking and splitting with it, is a fact. It would be sectarianism to refuse to take this step together with the German, French, Swedish, Norwegian and Swiss minority, when we retain complete freedom and the full possibility to criticize inconsistency and achieve something greater."
At the Zimmerwald Conference the Lefts organized a bureau of their own and in general formed a distinct group.
Although Ilyich had written before the Zimmerwald Conference that the Kautskyites ought to have had our draft resolution presented to them: "The Dutch plus ourselves plus the Left Germans plus nought – that does not matter, it will not be Nought afterwards, but All," the rate of progress was nevertheless very slow indeed, and Ilyich could not reconcile himself to it. In fact, his article "The First Step" begins by emphasizing the slow rate of development of the revolutionary movement. "The development of the international socialist movement is making slow progress in the epoch of extremely acute crisis caused by the war." It was therefore in a pretty irritable frame of mind that Ilyich returned from the Zimmerwald Conference.
The day after Ilyich's return we climbed the Rothorn. We climbed with "glorious zest," but when we got to the top Ilyich suddenly lay down on the ground in a rather uncomfortable position, and fell asleep almost right in the snow. Clouds gathered, then broke, and a wonderful view of the Alps opened before us, but Ilyich slept like the dead, without stirring. He slept for over an hour. Zimmerwald must have taken it out of him pretty badly.
It took several days rambling about the mountains and the general bracing atmosphere of Sorenberg to bring Ilyich round again. Kollontai was going to America, and Ilyich wrote urging her to do all she could in the way of rallying the American Left-wing internationalist elements. Early in October we returned to Berne. Ilyich went to Geneva to report back on the Zimmerwald Conference, and continued his correspondence with Kollontai about the Americans, etc.
The autumn was rather hot and close. Berne is chiefly an administrative and academic centre. It has many good libraries, and lots of scholars, but life there is soaked in a sort of petty-bourgeois dullness. Berne is very "democratic" – the wife of the Republic's highest official shakes her rugs out on the balcony every day, but the life of the women in Berne is wholly submerged in these rugs and the domestic comforts they stand for. We rented a room with electric lighting in the autumn, and moved our portmanteau and our books over. That same day the Shklovskys dropped in, and I began showing off the electric lights to them. When they had gone the landlady came bouncing in and demanded that we move out the very next day – she would not put up with anybody turning on the electricity in the daytime in her house. We decided that she was not all there, and took a room in a different place, a more humble place without electricity. This petty-bourgeois stamp lay upon everything in Switzerland. A Russian theatrical company, playing in German, once visited Berne. They showed L. Tolstoi's The Living Corpse. We went to see the play. The acting was fine. Ilyich, who heartily detested every kind of philistinism and conventionality, was greatly stirred by the play. He wanted to go and see it again afterwards. The Russians liked it very much. So did the Swiss. But to them the play appealed in quite a different way. They were terribly sorry for Protasov's wife, and took her troubles to heart. "What a good for-nothing husband she went and married. Mind you, they were rich people of high standing, and could have lived so happily. Poor Liza!"
The autumn of 1915 found us busier than ever in the libraries and taking our usual walks, but nothing could shake off this feeling of being cooped up in a petty-bourgeois democratic cage. Out there the revolutionary struggle was mounting, life was seething, but it was all so far away.
Very little could be done in Berne by way Of establishing direct contacts with the Lefts. I remember Inessa making a trip to French Switzerland to get in touch with the Swiss Lefts, Naine and Graber. Try as she might, she could not get to see them. They always had some excuse. Either Naine was out fishing, or Graber was busy with domestic affairs. "Father is busy today, it's our washing-day, and he's hanging out the washing," Graber's little daughter informed Inessa politely. Fishing and hanging out the washing are all very well in their way – Ilyich often stood guard over a pan of milk to see that it did not run over – but when the fishing-rod and the washing stood in the way of an important discussion about organizing the Lefts, then there was something wrong about it. Inessa got a passport in somebody else's name and went to Paris. On their return from Zimmerwald, Merrheim and Bourderon had set up in Paris a Committee for Restoring International Contacts. Inessa represented the Bolsheviks on it. She had to fight hard there for the Left line, which won the day in the long run. Inessa gave Ilyich a full account of her work in her letters.
"Dear Vladimir Ilvich," she wrote in a post card on January 25, 1916. "Thank you for your letter – it calmed me and cheered me up. As it happened I was upset that day over my failure with Merrheim. After reading what you say about Trotsky's refusal to contribute to the Dutch magazine, I am better able to account for Merrheim's refusal to take part in it – obviously there is a connection between the two. Your letter could not have been more to the point for another reason – in that it has now definitely strengthened the point of view I had formed as to the character of the work, but over which I had slightly wavered. On the whole, am living well here, although I find it very tiring. Today, Tor instance, I waited for four hours to see somebody. But then I succeeded at last in getting a ticket to the national library, and a lot of information besides on how to use the catalogues and find what I wanted there. Well, I wish you the best. Sincerely yours."
Simultaneously with this letter Inessa sent a full account of her further activities, concealed in the covers of a book. This is what she wrote:
"Dear friends, I am writing just a few lines as I have very little time. Since last writing you, there have been two meetings of the Committee of Action. At one of them we discussed the appeal (about the 'minority,' of the French Party joining the German 'minority' and not the 'majority,' about the re-establishment of the International).Trotsky's draft was rejected and Merrheim's adopted instead, in which nothing is said about re-establishment, but merely that 'the International should be based on the class struggle, on the struggle against imperialism, on the struggle for peace. We support that kind of International.' Then it goes on to say that an International which would not be based on these foundations would be a deceit of the proletariat. I proposed several amendments – about the struggle against the social-chauvinists (I was told it would be inserted at the end), about the International fighting against imperialism (this was accepted), and finally I opposed that 'we support that kind of International,' and proposed the wording 'we shall reorganize the International on the basis, etc.' Merrheim and Bourderon let go at me for this 'reorganizing.' Merrheim said that we are Guesdists (old methods), that we think in the abstract, that we do not reckon with circumstances, that the Socialists in France will not hear of a split, and so on. I told him that an old-type Guesdist was not such a bad thing, that our present tactics were real and vital, as we could only rally the forces of the proletariat behind us by clearly and definitely opposing our point of view to that of the chauvinists; that the leaders' betrayal has evoked mistrust and disappointment; that many workers at the factories, on reading our pamphlet, said: 'This is very good, but there are no more Socialists'; that we must carry into the masses the good tidings that there are Socialists, that we can do it only by making a clean break with the chauvinists."
Inessa goes on to write about the work with the youth, the plan for publishing leaflets, about contacts with the mechanics, tailors, navvies and other sections of the syndicalists, etc. She did a great deal of work in our Paris group, and had met Sapozhkov, a member of the group, who had started by going to the front as a volunteer and who now shared the views of the Bolsheviks and had begun to conduct propaganda among the French soldiers.
Shklovsky organized a small chemical laboratory, and our people (Kasparov, Zinoviev) worked there for a livelihood. Zinoviev gazed with a pensive eye at the various tubes and retorts that had made their appearance in everyones rooms.
The work that could be done in Berne was mostly theoretical. Many things had become clearer during the war. Characteristic in this respect was the question of a United States of Europe. The Declaration of the Central Committee, published in the Central Organ on November 1, 1914, said:
"The immediate political slogan of the Social-Democrats of Europe must be the formation of a republican United States of Europe, but in contrast to the bourgeoisie, which is ready to 'promise' anything in order to draw the proletariat into the general current of chauvinism, the Social-Democrats will explain that this slogan is utterly false and senseless without the revolutionary overthrow of the German, Austrian and Russian monarchies."
During the conference of the sections abroad held in March this slogan was hotly debated. The report of the conference stated: "... On the question of the slogan of a 'United States of Europe' the discussion took a one-sided political character, and it was decided to postpone the question until it had been dealt with on the Economic side in the press."
The question of imperialism, its economic essence, the exploitation of the weaker states by the powerful capitalist states, and the exploitation of the colonies, loomed large. The Central Organ, therefore, came to the conclusion that:
"From the standpoint of the economic conditions of imperialism, i.e., export of capital and the fact that the world has been divided up among the 'advanced' and 'civilized' colonial powers – a United States of Europe, under capitalism, is either impossible or reactionary.... A United States of Europe under capitalism is tantamount to an agreement to divide up the colonies."
But perhaps it was possible to put forward another slogan, the slogan of a United States of the World? Here is what Ilyich wrote in this connection:
"A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the union and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism – until the complete victory of communism brings about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic state. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others."
This article is a good illustration of Ilyich's train of thought at the end of 1915. Clearly, it took the line of deeper study of the economic roots of the world war, i.e., of imperialism, on the one hand, and that of ascertaining the ways which the world struggle for socialism would follow, on the other.
It was on these problems that Vladimir Ilyich worked at the end of 1915 and in 1916, when he collected material for his pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, and read Marx and Engels over and over again in order to obtain a clearer idea of the epoch of socialist revolution, its ways and its development.