International Communist Party Against Capitalist Wars

Let Us Prevent New Military Expenses!
From Il Socialista, issue of November 5th, 1914

This modest note from the Neapolitan newspaper is worth noting because it was the socialist vote for military credits (without exception in France and Germany) that marked the catastrophic collapse of the international class struggle.

The note is of interest because, albeit in passing, it shows under what special angle the class party could expect, not certainly a victory, but a certain effect, from the treacherous game of parliamentary votes.

The Italian Turati had this to say in that turn: If it depended on us, how could we deny vital weapons to the workers launched against the enemy? We vote against it only because we know well that the majority will vote for it.

This clever position, while showing that they weren’t much better than the French and German traitors who resorted to irrevocable mobilizations, also shows how foolish, infamous and cowardly any principle based on counting votes in situations is. Marxists of the Left clearly felt that an outcome to be defended was not a vote nor an illusory majority with bourgeois antiwar movements, but the insistence on the living dynamic of the collision between classes, on the contrast between opposing social forces and political positions, even when the historic reversal could not be achieved.

Such a direction, still many months before May 1915, was worthwhile as a useful preparation against the ignoble seduction of resigning oneself to accepting the hateful alibi of a “fait accompli”.


The ministerial crisis assumes, even for us, who don’t tend to give much importance to such events, a special importance, although we don’t care about which men leave the government and which are destined to replace them.

The special importance of this crisis is in the causes that produced it and that deeply affect the country.

The greedy and insatiable Italian militarism much more than Dante’s beast demands for its hunger new prey; it is new five hundred whole million that it demands to increase the formidable instruments of its devastating action.

This new demand means that socialist work can be given a positive and realistic field of action.

The reconfirmation of the Socialist Party’s decision about its intentions regarding neutrality imposes a new and definite duty.

In the absence of an adequate organization of a military general strike, either because of numerical insufficiency of possible strikers or especially because of insufficiency of a strong and suitable sentimental preparation, socialist action in the event of a warlike declaration would be reduced to a protest, perhaps to a new manifesto.

Without denying that even this may have its value, at least literary, it cannot be ruled out that it is a very small thing in relation to the purpose to be achieved.

It would certainly give good play to our interventionist… comrades, who assume that our opposition is only a whim and not a decisive will, especially if Italy were to go to war against hated Austria.

Faced with the danger of a new bloodletting, it’s not the matter of balking between absolute, relative and inverse neutrality, in which Byzantinism, dominating in our party, is spent, thus believing to carry out an energetic action! By now it’s clear, if you really want neutrality to be respected, you have but one means: to prevent new military expenditures from being made.

If the Italian government did not want the war and did not make it, this was mainly due to being profoundly unprepared on the military level.

If, in spite of this, so many generous warlike enthusiasms are spreading among many, if unfortunately they have also found their way into the souls of not a few socialists, what will ever happen, when the government announces that our army has reached its maximum war efficiency?

When this hour comes, any action of ours will be ineffective, for the time required to reach it will be wisely exploited.

Meanwhile, already the warlike action of other nations will have had results, if not decisive, such as to make predictions easier; on the other hand, the economic depression will have continued to act by increasing that malaise which will prompt a great many to consider a solution beneficial, even if disastrous, provided that the present malaise ceases. The usual blowing up will begin again, the exploitation of artificial enthusiasms will begin again, and we will have no choice but to endure a fait accompli helplessly.

Let us resolutely set to work to prevent this new attack on the country by militarism from achieving its intent.