[Classics] Socialism and War

Preface to the Second Edition

Printed in the 1918 edition of the pamphlet.

This pamphlet was written in the summer of 1915, just before the Zimmerwald Conference.[1] It also appeared in German and French, and was reprinted in full in Norwegian in the organ of the Norwegian Social-Democratic youth league. The German edition of the pamphlet was secretly smuggled into Germany - into Berlin, Leipzig, Bremen and other cities, where it was secretly distributed by supporters of the Zimmerwald Left and by the Karl Liebknecht group. The French edition was secretly printed in Paris and distributed there by the French Zimmerwaldists. The Russian edition reached Russia in a very limited quantity, and in Moscow was copied out by hand by workers.

We are now reprinting this pamphlet in full as a document. The reader must remember all the time that the pamphlet was written in August 1915. This must be remembered particularly in connection with those passages which refer to Russia: Russia at that time was still tsarist, Romanov Russia.


[1] Zimmerwald Conference – the first conference of internationalist socialists, held in Zimmerwald, Switzerland, on September 5-8, 1915. A struggle flared up at the conference between the Kautskyite majority and the revolutionary internationalists headed by Lenin. At the conference, Lenin organised the internationalists into the Zimmerwald Left group.

The conference adopted a manifesto which exposed the imperialist nature of the world war, denounced the “Socialists” for voting for war credits and for participating in the bourgeois governments and called on the workers of the European countries to wage struggles against the war and to strive for the conclusion of peace without annexation or payment of indemnities.

The conference also adopted a resolution expressing sympathy for war victims and elected the International Socialist Committee (I.S.C.). For an appraisal of the conference, see Lenin’s articles The First Step and Revolutionary Marxists at the International Socialist Conference, September 5-8, 1915 (V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, Eng. ed., International Publishers, New York 1930, Vol.XVIII, pp.40-45, 346-49).

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