V. I. Lenin

The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (B.)

APRIL 24–29 (MAY 7–12), 1917



APRIL 25 (MAY 8)


I do not agree with the previous speaker.

In Borgbjerg’s proposal we have a political fact of exceptional importance which imposes on us the duty of exposing the social-chauvinists and launching a political campaign. The British and French “socialists” have rejected Borgbjerg’s proposal. The British and French Plekhanovs are not coming to this conference. Borgbjerg’s proposals are a farce. Through Borgbjerg, the German social-chauvinists are offering their terms for peace. They are doing this through a socialist in order to cover up their social-chauvinist intrigue. This must be exposed, to discourage them from ever again applying to the socialist parties.

There can be no doubt at all that this is a proposal coming from the German Government, Which is acting through its own social-chauvinists. It is the one that is arranging this congress.... It cannot do so openly, and is therefore doing it through its own Plekhanovs. By this diplomatic step the German Government sheds all responsibility while propounding through them its secret hopes. Let me read you a report in a foreign paper about Borgbjerg: “Through a Danish social-chauvinist, the German Kaiser wants to call a peace conference in his own interests.” Borgbjerg’s proposal is clearly nothing but a fraud and a swindle. Then we have a report from Rabochaya Gazeta{2} (Reads out the report from “Rabochaya Gazeta” of April 25, 1917.) It is beyond doubt, therefore, that this is a proposal from the German Government. That is how such things are done. It is our task to expose the inner workings of this to the   world, i.e., pass a detailed resolution, translate it into several languages and publish it in all the papers. I move a draft resolution.

It is a curious fact that the capitalist newspapers are maintaining a diplomatic silence. They know the rule, that speech is silvern and silence is golden. The bourgeois newspapers know what the whole thing is about. Newspapers like Rabochaya Gazeta are at a loss. Yedinstvo{3} alone has said that Borgbjerg is an agent of the German Government. But by saying in the next breath that neither the British nor the French social-chauvinists, nor the Russian Plekhanovs will attend this conference under any circumstances; it exposes the British, French and Russian governments, who, being aware of the really difficult condition of Germany, hope to fill their appetites at her expense. We must expose this comedy of masques. We must tell how such things are done: Bethmann-Hollweg goes to Wilhelm, Wilhelm summons Scheidemann, Scheidemann goes to Denmark, and as a result, Borgbjerg goes to Russia with the peace terms. (Reads out the resolution.)

Trier is a Danish Marxist. Denmark is a petty-bourgeois country. Her bourgeoisie has battened on the war and hates the workers. The leaders of the Danish Social-Democratic majority are among the most opportunist in Europe. They have clearly exposed themselves as real social-chauvinists. We, for our part, must be fair and say about Borgbjerg what we have said about Plekhanov. If we hear fine phrases shouted to us about Alsace-Lorraine, we must remember that the whole thing boils down to money. In fact, it is a question of unusually rich ores. It is a question of profit, a peaceful sharing out of the booty between the German and the French capitalists. The Danish internationalists have rejected this. I forgot to say that the Kautskyites have agreed to attend the conference, and this must be exposed. The proposal coming via Borgbjerg says that the German capitalists are bargaining, because they are incapable of holding on to what they have seized. Germany’s position is desperate, she is on the brink of ruin. But the German capitalists still hope to retain a bit. The diplomatists have strong bonds with each other, they know everything, everything is clear to them. The people alone are not told   such things. The Anglo-French chauvinists have refused to attend the conference because they are very well aware of the real state of affairs. There was good reason for their taking ministerial office. It is now a matter of strangulating and plundering Germany, for she is no longer capable of conducting a policy of aggrandizement. Borgbjerg is an agent of German imperialism. If the soldiers receive this resolution they will understand that it is now a question of squeezing the last breath out of Germany. Congresses are farces attended by social-chauvinist diplomatists. There is the congress, and in the next room they will be sharing out Alsace-Lorraine. The truth about congresses must be told once and for all; to open the people’s eyes. If we adopt this manifesto and have it printed, translated into foreign languages and circulated among the workers and soldiers, they will understand the real state of affairs. This will be a very genuine campaign, it will be a clarification of the proletarian line.

First published in 1958 in the book Sedmaya (Aprelskaya) Vserossiiskaya konferentsia R.S.D.R.P.(B.). Petrogradskaya obshchegorodskaya Konferentsia R.S.D.R.P.(B.). Aprel 1917 goda. Protokoly (The seventh [April] All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.[B.]. The Petrograd city conference of the R.S.D.L.P.[B]. April 1917. Minutes)
Printed from the text of the book

The invitation to attend the conference is addressed to all the socialist parties of Russia and consequently to our own as well, and so we cannot simply ignore this fact of international importance. The social-chauvinists of all the belligerent countries are acting as unofficial representatives of their governments and ruling classes, Comrade Lenin said.

The German Government, under the pressure of internal discontent, is prepared to give up some of its annexations, and Borgbjerg is its diplomatic representative. He (a representative of Stauning’s party, from which a group of Marxists, headed by Comrade Trier, withdrew following   Stauning’s entry into the bourgeois ministry) has nothing in common either with the German or the Scandinavian workers. A conference of social-patriotic majorities appears to the German ruling circles to be a convenient occasion for trying to come to terms with the brigands on the other side.

The social-patriots, who have taken part in this ignominious war, as Comrade Nogin put it, want to have a hand in its ignominious end as well. On the other hand, the rebuff administered to this proposal by the imperialists of the Triple Entente lays quite bare their schemes of conquest. That is what revolutionary Social-Democracy must use in its own interests, by exposing the fraud on both sides. The Party, which unites more than 70,000 workers, must issue a warning against this fraud to the internationalist workers of all countries.

Pravda No. 41, May 9 (April 26), 1917 Printed from the Pravda text


{1} The question of calling an international conference of socialists from the belligerent and neutral countries was repeatedly discussed by the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet in April 1917, the Executive Committee proposing to take the initiative in convening such a conference. In the second half of April, the Danish Social-Democrat Borgbjerg, who was connected with the social-chauvinists of Germany, came to Petrograd and on behalf of the United Committee of the Labour Parties of Denmark, Nor way and Sweden (the social-patriotic majority of these parties) proposed that the socialist parties of Russia should take part in a peace conference to be called at Stockholm in May 1917.

On April 23 (May 6), Borgbjerg gave a report at a sitting of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, frankly declaring   that the German Government would agree to the peace terms the German Social-Democrats would put forward at the socialist conference. On April 25 (May 8), the Executive Committee heard statements by the Party groups on this question. The Bolsheviks read out the resolution of the April Conference adopted that day, “On Borgbjerg’s Proposal”; they were joined by representatives of the Polish and the Latvian Social-Democrats. Lenin believed that participation in the proposed conference would be a complete betrayal of internationalism. The April Conference came out resolutely against participation, exposing Borgbjerg as an agent of German imperialism. The Trudoviks, Bundists and Mensheviks favoured participation. The Executive Committee adopted a Menshevik resolution declaring that it took upon itself the initiative in calling the conference and was setting up a special commission for the purpose. This decision was confirmed by the Plenary Meeting of the Soviet.

British, French and Belgian socialists of the majority refused to participate in the conference, for the British and the French governments wanted to defeat Germany. The Centrists agreed to take part: the group of J. Longuet from France, and the Independent Social-Democratic Party, with K. Kautsky, H. Haase and G. Ledebour at the head, from Germany.

The Spartacus group, which had affiliated to the party of “Independents” while retaining its organisational independence, refused to take part in the conference with the social-imperialists. Franz Mehring made a statement about this on his own behalf and on behalf of K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg who were in prison.

The conference did not take place because some of the delegates were not issued passports by their governments, and others refused to meet with representatives of the countries in a state of war with their own. p. 409

{2} Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers’ Newspaper)—a Menshevik daily published in Petrograd from March 7 (20) to November 30 (December 13), 1917. From August 30 (September 12) it was an organ of the (United) R.S.D.L.P. Central Committee. The newspaper took a defencist stand and supported the bourgeois Provisional Government, fighting against Lenin and the Bolshevik Party. It gave a hostile reception to the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet power. p. 409

{3} Yedinstvo (Unity)—a newspaper published in Petrograd, the organ of the extreme Right group of Menshevik defencists led by G. V. Plekhanov. Four issues appeared in May and June 1914. From March to November 1917, it was published daily. Starting from December 1917 to January 1918, it appeared under the name of Nashe Yedinstvo. It gave support to the Provisional Government, favoured the coalition with the bourgeoisie and “firm power”, and fought against the Bolsheviks, frequently resorting to the methods of the gutter press. Lenin noted that its line was “aiding and abetting the dark forces which threaten violence, bombs,   and riots” and called the paper an “abusive publication” (see present edition, Vol. 24, pp. 129, 199).

It gave a hostile reception to the October Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet power. p. 410


Works Index   |   Volume 41 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >