V. I. Lenin

On the Declaration by the Polish Social-Democrats at the Zimmerwald Conference{1}

Written: Written in July 1916
Published: First published in 1962 in Vol. 30 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 380.2-381.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

This P.S.D. declaration at Zimmerwald shows that in opposing the right of nations to self-determination, the Polish Social-Democrats wish to say something quite different from what they are actually saying. They want to say that not every movement for national independence deserves Social-Democratic support. That is unquestionable both because any democratic demand is subordinate to the common interests of the proletariat’s class struggle, without being at all absolute, and because in the epoch of imperialist   rivalries to dominate the nations there may well be open and secret alliances between the bourgeoisie of an oppressed country and an oppressor country.


{1} This was a protest against the oppressive policy of the tsarist autocracy, and the German and the Austrian governments, who, “depriving the Polish people of the possibility of deciding its own future, regard the Polish regions as a pledge in the forthcoming game of compensations....” = “This is an especially gross expression of the essence of the policy of the capitalist governments, who, while sending masses of people into the slaughter, arbitrarily determine the future of the peoples for whole generations.” The Polish Social-Democrats expressed the conviction that only the participation in the imminent struggle of the revolutionary international proletariat for socialism, “a struggle that would break the chains of national oppression and abolish all forms of alien domination, will assure the Polish people as well the possibility   of an all-round development as an equal member of the union of nations”.

The document published here was written by Lenin on a separate sheet and is apparently a variant of the corresponding passage from his article “The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up” (see present edition, Vol. 22, p. 348). p. 380

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