Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Labor Action, 25 January 1943


Lenin – Revolution’s Genius

(August 1918)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 4, 25 January 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The following excerpts are taken from a Letter to American Workers written by Lenin during the First World War, and at a time when the American government was aiding an Anglo-Japanese armed expedition against the newly established Soviet Republic. The Letter is dated August 20, 1918:

The history of modern civilized America opens with one of those great, really liberating, really revolutionary wars of which there have been so few among the large number of wars of conquest that were caused, like the present imperialist war, by squabbles among kings, landowners and capitalists over the division of seized lands and stolen profits. It was a war of the American people against English robbers who subjected America and held it in colonial slavery as these “civilized” blood-suckers are now subjecting and hold in colonial slavery hundreds of millions of people in India, Egypt and in all corners of the world.

Since that time about 150 years have passed. Bourgeois civilization has borne all its luxuriant fruits. By the high level of development of the productive forces of organized human labor, by utilizing machines and all the wonders of modern technic, America has taken the first place among free and cultured nations. But at the same time America has become one of the foremost countries as regards the depth of the abyss which divides a handful of brazen billionaires who are wallowing in dirt and in luxury on the one hand, and millions of toilers who are always on the verge of starvation. The American people, who gave the world an example of a revolutionary war against feudal subjection, now appears as a new capitalist wage slave of a handful of billionaires; finds itself playing the role of a hired assassin for the wealthy gang, having strangled the Philippines in 1898 under the pretext of “liberating” them, and strangling the Russian Socialist Republic in 1918 under the pretext of “protecting” it from the Germans.

War of 1914–18 Exposed Workings of Capitalism

But four years of the imperialist slaughter of peoples have not passed in vain. Obvious and irrefutable facts have exposed to the end the duping of peoples by the scoundrels of both the English and the German groups of brigands. The four years of war have shown in their results the general law of capitalism as applied to war between murderers for the division of spoils: that he who was richest and mightiest profited and robbed the most; that he who was weakest was robbed, decimated, crushed and strangled to the utmost.

In the number of “colonial slaves” the English imperialist cut-throats have always been most powerful. English capitalists did not lose a foot of their “own” territory (acquired through centuries of robbery) but have managed to appropriate all the German colonies in Africa, have grabbed Mesopotamia and Palestine, have stifled Greece and have begun to plunder Russia.

German imperialist cut-throats were stronger in regard to the organization and discipline of “their” armies, but weaker in colonies. They have lost all their colonies, but have robbed half of Europe and throttled most of the small countries and weaker peoples. What a great war of “liberation” on both sides! How well they have “defended the fatherland” – these bandits of both groups, the Anglo-French and the German capitalists together with their lackeys, the social-chauvinists, i.e., socialists who went over to the side of “their own” bourgeoisie!

The American billionaires were richest of all and geographically the most secure. They have profited most of all. They have made all, even the richest countries, their vassals. They have plundered hundreds of billions of dollars. And every dollar is stained with filth: filthy secret pacts between England and her “allies,” between Germany and her vassals, pacts on the division of spoils, pacts on mutual “aid” is oppressing the workers and persecuting the socialist-internationalists. Every dollar is stained with the filth of “profitable” military deliveries enriching the rich and despoiling the poor in every country. And every, dollar is stained with blood – of that sea of blood which was shed by the ten millions killed and twenty millions maimed in the great, noble, liberating and holy war which was to decide whether the English or the German cutthroats will get more of the spoils, whether the English or the German executioners will be the first to smother the weak peoples the world over ...

Recalls Debs’ Words During the Last War

... I also recall the words of one of the most beloved leaders of the American proletariat, Eugene Debs, who wrote in The Appeal to Reason, I believe toward the end of 1915, in the article, In Whose War I Will Fight (I quoted that article in the beginning of 1916 at a public meeting of workers in Berne, Switzerland) that he, Debs, would rather be shot than vote for loans for the present criminal and reactionary imperialist war; that he, Debs, knows of only one holy and, from the standpoint of the proletariat, legal war, namely: the war against the capitalists, the war for the liberation of mankind from wage slavery!

I am not at all surprised that Wilson, the head of the American billionaires and servant of the capitalist sharks, has thrown Debs into prison. Let the bourgeoisie be brutal to the true internationalists, the true representatives of the revolutionary proletariat! The more obduracy and bestiality it displays, the nearer comes the day of the victorious proletarian revolution ...

The international imperialist bourgeoisie has killed off ten million men and maimed twenty million in “its” war, the war to decide whether the English or the German robbers are to rule the world.

If our war, the war of oppressed and exploited against oppressors and exploiters, results in half a million or a million victims in all countries, the bourgeoisie will say that the sacrifice of the former is justified while the latter is criminal.

Now, amid the ravages of the imperialist war, the proletariat is thoroughly mastering that great truth taught by all revolutions and left as a heritage to the workers by their best teachers, the founders of modern socialism. That truth is, that there can be no successful revolution without crushing the resistance of the exploiters. It was our duty to crush the resistance of exploiters when we, the workers and toiling peasants, seized state power. We are proud that we have been doing it and are continuing to do it. We only regret that we are not doing it in a sufficiently firm and determined manner.

We know that the fierce resistance of the bourgeoisie to the socialist revolution is inevitable in all countries and that it will grow with the growth of this revolution. The proletariat will crush this resistance; it will definitely mature to victory and power in the course of struggle against the resisting bourgeoisie ...

“The World Revolution Is Invincible”

We know that help from you, comrade American workers, will probably not come soon, for the development of the revolution proceeds with a different tempo and in different forms in different countries (and it cannot be otherwise). We know that the European proletarian revolution also may not blaze forth during the next few weeks, no matter how rapidly it has been ripening lately. We stake our chances on the inevitability of the international revolution, but this in no way means that we are so foolish as to stake our chances on the inevitability of the revolution within a stated short period. We have seen in our country two great revolutions, in 1905 and in 1917, and we know that revolutions are made neither to order nor by agreement. We know that circumstances brought to the fore our Russian detachment of the socialist proletariat, not by virtue of our merits, but due to the particular backwardness of Russia, and that before the outburst of the international revolution there may be several defeats of separate revolutions.

Despite this, we are firmly convinced that we are invincible, because mankind will not break down under the imperialist slaughter, but will overcome it. And the first country which demolished the galley chains of imperialist war, was our country. We made the greatest of sacrifices in the struggle for the demolition of this chain, but we broke it. We are beyond imperialist dependence, we raised before the whole world the banner of struggle for the complete overthrow of imperialism ...

In a word, we are invincible, because the world proletarian revolution is invincible.

Top of page

Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 30 January 2015