Pravda, No. 81
Published according to
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1974
First printing 1964
Second printing 1974
Vol. 25, pp. 85-87.
Translated from the Russian
Edited by Stephan Apresyan
and Jim Riordan
No idea could be more erroneous or harmful than to separate foreign from home policy. The monstrous falsity of this separation becomes even more monstrous in war-time. Yet the bourgeoisie are doing everything possible and impossible to suggest and promote this idea. Popular ignorance of foreign policy is incomparably greater than of home policy. The "secrecy" of diplomatic relations is sacredly observed in the freest of capitalist countries, in the most democratic republics.
Popular deception has become a real art in foreign "affairs", and our revolution suffers very badly from this deception. The poison of deception is spread far and wide by the millions of copies of bourgeois newspapers.
You must side with one of the two immensely wealthy and immensely powerful groups of imperialist predators‹that is how capitalist reality poses the basic issue of present-day foreign policy. That is how this issue is posed by the capitalist class. And that, it goes without saying, is how it is posed by the broad mass of the petty bourgeoisie who have retained their old, capitalist views and prejudices.
Those whose thinking does not go beyond capitalist relations cannot understand why the workers, if they are politically conscious, cannot side with either group of imperialist plunderers. Conversely, the worker cannot understand why socialists who remain true to the fraternal alliance of the workers of the world against the capitalists of the world are accused of being inclined towards a separate peace treaty with the Germans, or of virtually serving such a peace treaty. Under no circumstances can these socialists (and hence
the Bolsheviks) agree to a separate peace treaty between the capitalists. The basis for the foreign policy of the politically-conscious proletariat is no separate peace treaty with the German capitalists and no alliance with the Anglo-French capitalists.
By rising up in arms against that programme because they fear a break with "Britain and France", our Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are virtually carrying out a capitalist foreign policy programme, while embellishing it with florid and innocent phrases about "revision of treaties", declarations in support of "peace without annexations", etc. All these pious wishes are doomed to remain hollow phrases, for capitalist reality puts the issue bluntly: either submit to the imperialists of one of the two groups, or wage a revolutionary struggle against all imperialists.
Have we any allies for this struggle? Yes. The oppressed classes of Europe, primarily the proletariat. The peoples oppressed by imperialism, primarily our neighbours in Asia.
The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who call themselves "revolutionary democrats", are in fact pursuing a counter-revolutionary and anti-democratic foreign policy. Were they revolutionaries, they would advise the workers and peasants of Russia to march at the head of all peoples oppressed by imperialism and of all the oppressed classes.
"But in that event the capitalists of all other countries would rally against Russia," the frightened philistines object. That is not impossible. No "revolutionary " democrat has the right to renounce revolutionary war in advance. But the practical likelihood of such a war is not very great. The British and German imperialists will not be able to "come to terms" against revolutionary Russia.
The Russian revolution, which as early as 1905 led to revolutions in Turkey, Persia and China, would have placed the German and British imperialists in a very difficult position if it had begun to establish a truly revolutionary alliance of the workers and peasants of the colonies and semi-colonies against the despots, against the khans, for expasion of the Germans from Turkey, the British from Turkey, Persia, India, Egypt, etc. Social-chauvinists, both French and Russian, like to refer to 1793. By this spectacular reference they try to cover
up their betrayal of the revolution. But people here refuse to think that the truly "revolutionary democrats in Russia could and should act in the spirit of 1793 towards the oppressed and backward nations.
The foreign policy of the capitalists and the petty bourgeoisie is "alliance" with the imperialists, that is, disgraceful dependence on them. The foreign policy of the proletariat is alliance with the revolutionaries of the advanced countries and with all the oppressed nations against all and any imperialists.