Lenin and internationalism

JEFF SPARROW jeffs at werple.mira.net.au
Tue May 29 04:56:26 MDT 2001

"Welcome, Matt, and thanks for the thoughtful question. I would 
suggest that Lenin played a major role in the politics of Western 
European socialism through his involvement in the Zimmerwald conferences. 
This was a gathering of left-wing socialists who opposed right-wing 
socialist support of WWI. Lenin played a major role here. He wrote his 
pamphlet on imperialism in order to provide the theoretical basis for the 

I've wondered about Matt's question as well.

Really, the Zimmerwald conference was too little too late.

After all, there were a fair number of people in Germany who had known for a long time that Kautsky wasn't all he was cracked up to be. That's why in most of the orthodox histories, Rosa Luxembourg gets bagged so much - she didn't break early enough to have a chance to build something revolutionary. But right up to 1914, Lenin was still quoting Kautsky as the definitive Marxist intellectual.

Basically, he fucked up. Surely, the Comintern was a recognition of the problems in simply building in one country, as was the 4th International.

It's part of the Lenin cult that has built up even within the Trotskyist tradition that Lenin's concentration on purely Russian matters is not recogised as an error - an understandable error, but an error all the same.


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