International Communist Party Against Capitalist Wars

The Falsification

(from Avanti!, 13th April 1915)

This article titled The Falsification is written at a time when the struggle with proponents of Italian intervention was at its sharpest. It refers to the fundamental falsehood that the outcome of the war would put at stake, as at a crossroads between opposing perspectives, the whole future history of humanity (today [1963] 45 years have passed since the end of World War I, and the outcome was what the Italian interventionists hoped for as the rosy side of the crossroads: the history of humanity unfolds as stinking as it did then, not to mention the second war, and no one can argue that the victory of the opposing camp would have given a more ruinous outcome).

The article refers to the first internationalist reactions of the world proletarian camp, hopes for the new International to succeed in assaulting and overwhelming both systems of allies between which the whole course of history was then claimed to be in the balance. Once again it is reiterated that the famous “neutralism” means the virile, active and revolutionary attitude of the proletariat and the party against the bourgeoisie and its State in peace and war.

All the defamations against the Socialist Party, great and small, for its non-interventionism, which circulate with monotonous and petulant impudence in this period of anxious and violent debates, are nothing but a rehash of the fundamental misunderstanding that the fanatics of the brand new mythology around the war started with, stubbornly returning to it in captious circles of sophistry. This is the first interpretation of the fearful phenomenon, which the deluded and the fanatitcs of interventionism take as granted and accepted, using it as a foundation for their bad rhetoric so that the public can swallow the most audacious mystifications of events and facts disguised as arguments for war in large gulps. They see and describe with obnoxious sureness in the present conflagration a crossroads in human history that offers only two direct roads to the future, something like the way to hell and the way to heaven to use an outmodded church allegory. They have constructed and put into circulation – aided in this by the shallowness of the explanations given not so much by the slandered illiterate masses as by the pernicious subspecies of the semi-intellectuals who constitute so-called public opinion, towards whom so much distrust was held by Karl Marx – the legend of dualism and antithesis between the two warring groups, the illusion that the “fronts” bloodied by the terrible clash divide with almost automatic precision and evenness right from wrong, innocence from premeditation, civilization from barbarism, freedom from tyranny, democracy from militarism.

They colored the framework of their previous critical conceptions of history with the hues of this wavering impressionism, boldly declaring them to be “overcome by the facts”, and set about to admonish the astonished crowds with a gesture with which the country preacher shows the idiots the picture wherein they figure the damned roasting in the flames of the most fiery red and the blessed camping in the most suave blue ether. Having established the basic lie, every mediocre parrot from the warmongering camp believes himself to be a master of the most unwavering dialectic. Do you dare to criticize the truth of their interpretation by opposing the most intimate truths eviscerated by socialist criticism, corroborated by the examination of events?

Well then you’re an oversimplifier. You dare to say that you won’t give your skin for someone else’s cause? You’re a pacifist only out of your fear of conflict.

Do you question that the hypothetical triumph of all those good things mentioned above against all those other bad things is worth the lives of a few tens of thousands of proletarians? You are – in the most benevolent assumption – a eunuch. Do you question the disinterest and candor of the Entente governments?... That’s it. You are Sudekumized (1), you are Germanized, you’re a sellout to the Kaiser.

Well anyway, gentlemen, if you refuse to change profession, since that’d be too much to ask, could you at least change vocabulary?

This game is real old, even if the words are new. The Socialist Party, by opposing the war, is embracing a policy of inaction, of arrogance, of blindness, of impotence! It’s playing – neither more nor less – into the hands of the Germans! These are all casual deductions of that first and central lie. About it we won’t repeat here our polemical criticism, being more interested for now to point out the equivocal method of our opponents. If one admits that before us there’s nothing but the famous crossroads, that history holds today, in its murderous hand, an imaginary scale that leaves no alternative but going all in to either one or the other plate when new bayonets and new cannons are thrown into it, then neutrality means absence and inaction. If today is fundamentally all about the antithesis between the two warring sides, it’s clear that he who is play the Germans’ game is playing the others’. The serpent of sophistry bites its own tail.

But when has it been proven that playing the Germans’ game indirectly and without wanting to is so criminal, how righteous and proper would be to openly and voluntarily play the game of their opponents (and moreover playing with other people’s lives)? This presupposes the arbitrary assumption that some are all right and others all wrong. When has it been demonstrated that one cannot push historical progress forwards by any other means besides siding with this or that side? The revolutionary (?) interventionists themselves have been slowly led to a third way ... that of “national interest”!

But we’re far removed from all this. We have quite different perspectives in the situation. We see the two branches of the alleged crossroads in a full repugnant embrace of military barbarism. We feel the duty and necessity of our tireless action toward the realization of achievements which don’t coincide in the slightest with the cause of the Germans or the Entente, but which are opposed and deprecated by the governments of both sides, as by the governments of the neutral bourgeoisies.

Such that we are precisely well assured of our work, which parallels that of the followers of Karl Liebknecht in Germany, of the Russian socialist deputies, of the Serbian comrades (2), of the “Independent Labor Party” of England, of Sebastian Faure in France; of rendering no service either to the republics or to the empires struggling for the hegemony of Europe. By advocating not the coming bourgeois peace but the new proletarian International which will address, by accelerating the crisis of the capitalist world, the implementation of the maximum communist program, we feel that we are not inactive, even if our forces are today not as strong as we wish.

Government and dynastic neutrality may be inaction, cowardice, cynicism – the highest cynicism, however, would be intervention, as such is all States’ policy in peace and war. But by opposing the war in the name of their class ideals, socialists do not make themselves accomplices of bourgeois neutrality with its plots, intrigues and speculations.

The Socialist Party, an opposition party, has no advice to give to the government. Those who give advice imply solidarity. The socialist proletariat makes the State feel its hostile pressure, from which it will never give up on, both in time of neutrality as in time of war. Such is the meaning of our party’s attitude, which is connected with the future of international socialism, respecting its glorious traditions. And the interventionists, once again paraphrasing their cloying palinode, can sophist about socialist “neutralism” as long as they like. But no one is lowlier than them in complete dedication to the State and the monarchy. They see no other course of action than the utilisation of State militarism, and barter with it all their traditions of independence.

To justify themselves, they spout their nonsense about being in the reality. Maybe they actually believe their myth like a frenzied actor who forgets the stage boards. So they wallow in a papier-mâché reality, mocking our blind abstractions...

But they close – for example – their eyes and ears when the Tsar’s representative rises to demand the deportation of Russian socialists on the basis of Minister Vandervelde’s telegram and the example of German socialists. There is no place in their “reality” for these beams of non-artificial light.

So come with the usual stage scenario: Long live the war! Long live the Tsar!...

Down with... oversimplification!


1. - Reference to Albert Südekum (1871-1944), German social-democrat who traveled to Italy in August 1914 to convince the Italian Socialists to stand for neutrality.
2. - Reference to the Serbian Social Democratic Party, which, led by the outstanding Dimitrije Tucović, was the only other party of the Second International besides the Italian Socialist Party to not throw itself into the war and remain on the anti- militarist path. As a punishment for this Tucović was sent to the front, where he died in 1914.