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On the 100th anniversary of World War I

YourCountryNeedsYou

The following entry is from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

 – E.S.

World War I (1914–18) 

an imperialist war between two coalitions of capitalist powers for a redivision of the already divided world (a repartition of colonies, spheres of influence, and spheres for the investment of capital) and for the enslavement of other peoples. At first, the war involved eight European states: Germany and Austria-Hungary against Great Britain, France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro. Later, most of the countries in the world entered the war (see Table 1). A total of four states fought on the side of the Austro-German bloc; 34 states, including four British dominions and the colony of India, all of which signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, took part on the side of the Entente. On both sides, the war was aggressive and unjust. Only in Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro did it include elements of a war of national liberation.

Although imperialists from all the principal belligerent powers were involved in unleashing the war, the party chiefly to blame was the German bourgeoisie, who began World War I at the “moment it thought most favorable for war, making useof its latest improvements in military matériel and forestalling the rearmament already planned and decided upon by Russia and France” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 16).

The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Serbian nationalists on June 15 (28), 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. German imperialists decided to take advantage of this favorable moment to unleash the war. Under German pressure, Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia on July 10 (23). Although the Serbian government agreed to meet almost all of the demands in the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary broke diplomatic relations with Serbia on July 12 (25) and declared war on Serbia on July 15 (28). Belgrade, the Serbian capital, was shelled. On July 16 (29), Russia began mobilization in the military districts bordering on Austria-Hungary and on July 17 (30) proclaimed a general mobilization. On July 18 (31), Germany demanded that Russia halt its mobilization and, receiving no reply, declared war on Russia on July 19 (Aug. 1). Germany declared war on France and Belgium on July 21 (Aug. 3). On July 22 (Aug. 4), Great Britain declared war on Germany. The British dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa) and Britain’s largest colony, India, entered the war on the same day. On Aug. 10 (23), Japan declared war on Germany. Italy formally remained a member of the Triple Alliance but declared its neutrality on July 20 (Aug. 2), 1914.

Causes of the war. At the turn of the 20th century capitalism was transformed into imperialism. The world had been almost completely divided up among the largest powers. The uneven-ness of the economic and political development of various countries became more marked. The states that had been late in embarking on the path of capitalist development (the USA, Germany, and Japan) advanced rapidly, competing successfully on the world market with the older capitalist countries (Great Britain and France) and persistently pressing for a repartition of the colonies. The most acute conflicts arose between Germany and Great Britain, whose interests clashed in many parts of the globe, especially in Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, focal points of German imperialism’s trade and colonial expansion. The construction of the Baghdad Railroad aroused grave alarm in British ruling circles. The railroad would provide Germany with direct route through the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf and guarantee Germany an important position in the Middle East, thus threatening British land and sea communications with India.

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France, rooted in the desire of German capitalists to secure permanent possession of Alsace and Lorraine, which had been taken from France as a result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, and in the determination of the French to regain these provinces. French and German interests also clashed on the colonial issue. French attempts to seize Morocco met with determined resistance from Germany, which also claimed this territory.

Contradictions between Russia and Germany began to increase in the late 19th century. The expansion of German imperialism in the Middle East and its attempts to establish control over Turkey infringed on Russian economic, political, and strategic interests. Germany used its customs policy to limit the importation of grain from Russia, imposing high duties while simultaneously making sure that German industrial goods could freely penetrate the Russian market.

In the Balkans, there were profound contradictions between Russia and Austria-Hungary, caused primarily by the expansion of the Hapsburg monarchy, with Germany’s support, into the neighboring South Slav lands (Bosnia, Hercegovina, and Serbia). Austria-Hungary intended to establish its superiority in the Balkans. Russia, which supported the struggle of the Balkan peoples for freedom and national independence, considered the Balkans its own sphere of influence. The tsarist regime and the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie wanted to take over the Bosporus and Dardanelles to strengthen their position in the Balkans.

There were many disputed issues between Great Britain and France, Great Britain and Russia, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and Turkey and Italy, but they were secondary to the principal contradictions, which existed between Germany and its rivals— Great Britain, France, and Russia. The aggravation and deepening of these contradictions impelled the imperialists toward a repartition of the world, but “under capitalism, the repartitioning of ‘world domination’ could only take place at the price of a world war” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 34, p. 370).

The class struggle and the national liberation movement grew stronger during the second decade of the 20th century. The Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia had an enormous influence on the upsurge in the struggle of the toiling people for their social and national liberation. There was considerable growth in the working-class movement in Germany, France, and Great Britain. The class struggle reached its highest level in Russia, where a new revolutionary upsurge began in 1910 and an acute political crisis ripened. National liberation movements grew broader in Ireland and Alsace (the Zabern affair, 1913), and the struggle of the enslaved peoples of Austria-Hungary became more extensive. The imperialists sought to use war to suppress the developing liberation movement of the working class and oppressed peoples in their own countries and to arrest the world revolutionary process.

For many years the imperialists prepared for a world war as a means of resolving foreign and domestic contradictions. The initial step was the formation of a system of military-political blocs, beginning with the Austro-German Agreement of 1879, under which the signatories promised to render assistance to each other in case of war with Russia. Seeking support in its struggle with France for possession of Tunisia, Italy joined Austria-Hungary and Germany in 1882. Thus, the Triple Alliance of 1882, or the alliance of the Central Powers, took shape in central Europe. Initially directed against Russia and France, it later included Great Britain among its main rivals.

To counterbalance the Triple Alliance, another coalition of European powers began to develop. The Franco-Russian Alliance of 1891–93 provided for joint actions by the two countries in case of aggression by Germany or by Italy and Austria-Hungary supported by Germany. The growth of German economic power in the early 20th century forced Great Britain to gradually renounce its traditional policy of splendid isolation and seek rapprochement with France and Russia. The Anglo-French agreement of 1904 settled various colonial disputes between Great Britain and France, and the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 reinforced the understanding between Russia and Great Britain regarding their policies in Tibet,Afghanistan, and Iran. These documents created the Triple Entente (or agreement), a bloc opposed to the Triple Alliance and made up of Great Britain, France, and Russia. In 1912, Anglo-French and Franco-Russian naval conventions were signed, and in 1913 negotiations were opened for an Anglo-Russian naval convention.

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The formation of military-political groupings in Europe, as well as the arms race, further aggravated imperialist contradictions and increased international tensions. A relatively tranquil period of world history was followed by an epoch that was“much more violent, spasmodic, disastrous, and conflicting” (ibid., vol. 27, p. 94). The worsening of imperialist contradictions was evident in the Moroccan crises of 1905–06 and 1911, the Bosnian crisis of 1908–09, the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–12, and the Balkan Wars of 1912–13. In December 1913, Germany provoked a major international conflict by sending a military mission under the command of General O. Liman von Sanders to Turkey to reorganize and train the Turkish Army.

In preparation for a world war the ruling circles of the imperialist states established powerful war industries, based on large state plants: armaments, explosives, and ammunition plants, as well as shipyards. Private enterprises were drawn into the production of military goods: Krupp in Germany, Skoda in Austria-Hungary, Schneider-Creusot and St. Chamond in France, Vickers and Armstrong-Whitworth in Great Britain, and the Putilov Works and other plants in Russia.

The imperialists of the two hostile coalitions put a great deal of effort into building up their armed forces. The achievements of science and technology were placed in the service of war. More sophisticated armaments were developed, including rapid-fire magazine rifles and machine guns, which greatly increased the firepower of the infantry. In the artillery the number of rifled guns of the latest design increased sharply. Of great strategic importance was the development of the railroads, which made it possible to significantly speed up the concentration and deployment of large masses of troops in the theaters of operations and to provide an uninterrupted supply of personnel replacements and matériel to the armies in the field. Motor vehicle transport began to play an increasingly important role, and military aviation began to develop. The use of new means of communication in military affairs, including the telegraph, the telephone, and the radio,facilitated the organization of troop control. The size of armies and trained reserves grew rapidly. (See Table 2 for the composition of the ground forces of the principal warring powers.)

Germany and Great Britain were engaged in a stiff competition in naval armaments. The dreadnought, a new type of ship, was first built in 1905. By 1914 the German Navy was firmly established as the world’s second most powerful navy(after the British). Other countries endeavored to strengthen their navies, but it was not financially and economically possible for them to carry out the shipbuilding programs they had adopted. (See Table 3 for the composition of the naval forces of the principal warring powers.) The costly arms race demanded enormous financial means and placed a heavy burden on the toiling people.

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There was extensive ideological preparation for war. The imperialists attempted to instill in the people the idea that armed conflicts are inevitable, and they tried their hardest to inculcate militarism in the people and incite chauvinism among them. To achieve these aims, all means of propaganda were used—the press, literature, the arts, and the church. Taking advantage of the patriotic feelings of the people, the bourgeoisie in every country justified the arms race and camouflaged aggressive objectives with false arguments on the need to defend the native land against foreign enemies.

The international working class (more than 150 million persons) was a real force capable of significantly restraining the imperialist governments. At the international level, the working-class movement was headed by the Second International,which united 41 Social Democratic parties from 27 countries, with 3.4 million members. However, the opportunist leaders of the European Social Democratic parties did nothing to implement the antiwar decisions of the prewar congresses of the Second International. When the war began, the leaders of the Social Democratic parties of the Western countries came to the support of their governments and voted for military credits in parliament. The socialist leaders of Great Britain (A. Henderson), France (J. Guesde, M. Sembat, and A. Thomas), and Belgium (E. Vandervelde) joined the bourgeois military governments. Ideologically and politically, the Second International collapsed and ceased to exist, breaking up into social chauvinist parties.

Only the left wing of the Second International, with the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin in the vanguard, continued to fight consistently against militarism, chauvinism, and war. The basic principles defining the attitude of revolutionary Marxists toward war were set forth by Lenin in the Manifesto of the Central Committee of the RSDLP, “War and Russian Social Democracy.” Firmly opposed to the war, the Bolsheviks explained its imperialist character to the popular masses. The Bolshevik faction of the Fourth State Duma refused to support the tsarist government and vote for war credits. The Bolshevik Party called on the toiling people of all countries to work for the defeat of their governments in the war, the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war, and the revolutionary overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords. A revolutionary, antiwar stance was adopted by the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party (Narrow Socialists), headed by D. Blagoev, G. Dimitrov, and V. Kolarov, and by the Serbian and Rumanian Social Democratic parties. Active opposition to the imperialist war was also shown by a small group of left-wing Social Democrats in Germany, led by K. Liebknecht, R. Luxemburg, C. Zetkin, and F. Mehring; by a few socialists in France, led by J. Jaurès; and by some socialists in other countries.

War plans and strategic deployment. Long before the war began, the general staffs had worked out war plans. All strategic calculations were oriented toward a short, fast-moving war. The German strategic plan provided for rapid, decisive actions against France and Russia. It assumed that France would be crushed in six to eight weeks, after which all German forces would descend on Russia and bring the war to a victorious conclusion. The bulk of German troops (four-fifths) were deployed on the western border of Germany and were designated for the invasion of France. It was their mission to deliver the main attack with the right wing through Belgium and Luxembourg, turning the left flank of the French Army west of Paris and, throwing it back toward the German border, forcing it to surrender. A covering force (one army) was stationed in East Prussia to oppose Russia. The German military command figured that it would be able to crush France and transfer troops to the east before the Russian Army went over to the offensive. The main forces of the German Navy (the High Seas Fleet) were to be stationed at bases in the North Sea. Their mission was to weaken the British Navy with actions using light forces and submarines and then destroy the main British naval forces in a decisive battle. A few cruisers were detailed for operations in the British sea-lanes. In the Baltic Sea the German Navy’s mission was to prevent vigorous actions by the Russian Navy.

The Austro-Hungarian command planned military operations on two fronts: against Russia in Galicia and against Serbia and Montenegro in the Balkans. They did not exclude the possibility of forming a front against Italy, an unreliable member of the Triple Alliance that might go over to the Entente. Consequently, the Austro-Hungarian command drew up three variations of a war plan and divided their ground forces into three operational echelons (groups): group A (nine corps), which was designated for actions against Russia; the “minimum Balkan” group (three corps), which was directed against Serbia and Montenegro; and group B (four corps), the reserve of the supreme command, which could be used either to reinforce the other groups or to form a new front if Italy became an enemy.

The general staffs of Austria-Hungary and Germany maintained close contact with each other and coordinated their strategic plans. The Austro-Hungarian plan for the war against Russia provided for delivering the main attack from Galicia between the Vistula and Bug rivers and moving northeast to meet German forces, which were supposed to develop an offensive at the same time moving southeast from East Prussia toward Siedlce, with the objectives of surrounding and destroying the grouping of Russian troops in Poland. The mission of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, which was stationed in the Adriatic Sea, was to defend the coast.

The Russian General Staff worked out two variations of the war plan, both of which were offensive. Under Variation A, the main forces of the Russian Army would be deployed against Austria-Hungary. Variation G was directed against Germany, should it deliver the main attack on the Eastern Front. Variation A, which was actually carried out, planned converging attacks in Galicia and East Prussia, with the aim of destroying the enemy groupings. This phase of the plan would be followed by a general offensive into Germany and Austria-Hungary. Two detached armies were assigned to cover Petrograd and southern Russia. In addition, the Army of the Caucasus was formed in case Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. It was the mission of the Baltic Fleet to defend the sea approaches to Petrograd and prevent the German fleet from breaking through into the Gulf of Finland. The Black Sea Fleet did not have a ratified plan ofaction.

The French plan for the war against Germany (Plan XVII) envisioned going over to the offensive with the forces of the right wing of the armies in Lorraine and with the forces of the left wing against Metz. At first, the possibility of an invasion byGerman forces through Belgium was not taken into account, because Belgian neutrality had been guaranteed by the great powers, including Germany. However, a variation of Plan XVII ratified on Aug. 2, 1914, specified that in case of an offensive by German troops through Belgium, combat operations were to be developed on the left wing up to the line of the Meuse (Maas) River from Namur to Givet. The French plan reflected the lack of confidence of the French command,confronted with a struggle against a more powerful Germany. In fact, the plan made the actions of the French Army dependent on the actions of the German forces. The mission of the French fleet in the Mediterranean Sea was to ensure themovement of colonial troops from North Africa to France by blockading the Austro-Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic Sea. Part of the French fleet was assigned to defend the approaches to the English Channel.

Expecting that military operations on land would be waged by the armies of its allies, Russia and France, Great Britain did not draw up plans for operations by ground forces. It promised only to send an expeditionary corps to the continentto help the French. The navy was assigned active missions: to set up a long-range blockade of Germany on the North Sea, to ensure the security of sea-lanes, and to destroy the German fleet in a decisive battle.

The great powers carried out the strategic deployment of their armed forces in conformity with these plans. Germany moved seven armies (the First through Seventh, consisting of 86 infantry and ten cavalry divisions, with a total of about 1.6million men and about 5,000 guns) to the border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, along a 380-km front from Krefeld to Mulhouse. The main grouping of these forces (five armies) was located north of Metz on a 160-km front. The defense of the northern coast of Germany was assigned to the Northern Army (one reserve corps and four Landwehr brigades). The commander in chief was Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the chief of staff was General H. von Moltke the younger(from Sept. 14, 1914, E. Falkenhayn, and from Aug. 29, 1916, until the end of the war, Field Marshal General P. von Hindenburg).

The French armies (the First through Fifth, consisting of 76 infantry and ten cavalry divisions, with a total of about 1.73 million men and more than 4,000 guns), which were under the command of General J. J. C. Joffre, were deployed on front of approximately 345 km from Belfort to Hirson. (From December 1916, General R. Nivelle was commander in chief of the French armies, and from May 17, 1917, until the end of the war, General H. Pétain. On May 14, 1918, Marshal F. Foch became supreme commander of Allied forces.) The Belgian Army under the command of King Albert I (six infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 117,000 men and 312 guns) occupied a line east of Brussels. The British Expeditionary Force under the command of Field Marshal J. French (four infantry divisions and 1.5 cavalry divisions, with a total of 87,000 men and 328 guns) was concentrated in the Maubeuge region next to the left flank of the grouping of French armies. (From December 1915 until the end of the war, the British Expeditionary Force was under the command of General D. Haig.) The main grouping of Allied forces was northwest of Verdun.

Against Russia, Germany placed the Eighth Army (14.5 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of more than 200,000 men and 1,044 guns), under the command of General M. von Prittwitz und Gaffron, in East Prussia andGeneral R. von Woyrsch’s Landwehr corps in Silesia (two Landwehr divisions and 72 guns). Austria-Hungary had three armies (the First, Third, and Fourth) on a front from Czernowitz (now Chernovtsy) to Sandomierz. H. Kövess vonKövessháza’s army group (from August 23, the Second Army) was on the right flank, and Kummer’s army group was in the Kraków region (35.5 infantry divisions and 11 cavalry divisions, with about 850,000 men and 1,848 guns). Thesupreme commander in chief was Archduke Frederick. (Emperor Charles I became supreme commander in chief in November 1916.) The Austro-Hungarian chief of staff was Field Marshal General F. Conrad von Hötzendorf (from Feb. 28,1917, General Arz von Straussenburg).

Russia had six armies on its Western border (52 infantry divisions and 21 cavalry divisions, with a total of more than 1 million men and 3,203 guns). Two fronts were formed: the Northwestern Front (First and Second armies) and theSouthwestern Front (Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth armies). The Sixth Army was to defend the Baltic coast and cover Petrograd; the Seventh Army was to defend the northwest coast of the Black Sea and the boundary with Rumania. The divisions of the second strategic echelon and the Siberian divisions arrived at the front later, at the end of August and during September. On July 20 (August 2), Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich was appointed supreme commander in chief.(For a list of his successors, see SUPREME COMMANDER IN CHIEF.) The chiefs of staff of the supreme commander in chief were General N. N. Ianushkevich (July 19 [Aug. 1], 1914, to Aug. 18 [31], 1915) and General M. V. Alekseev (Aug. 18 [31],1915, to Nov. 10 [23], 1916; Feb. 17 [Mar. 2] to Mar. 11 [24], 1917; and Aug. 30 [Sept. 12] to Sept. 9 [22], 1917). At the end of 1916 and during 1917 the duties of chief of staff were temporarily carried out by Generals V. I. Romeiko-Gurko,V. N. Klembovskii, A. I. Denikin, A. S. Lukomskii, and N. N. Dukhonin. From Nov. 20 (Dec. 3), 1917, to Feb. 21, 1918, the chief of staff was M. D. Bonch-Bruevich, whose successors were S I. Kuleshin and M. M. Zagiu.

In the Balkans, Austria-Hungary set two armies against Serbia: the Fifth and Sixth armies, under the command of General O. Potiorek (13 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 140,000 men and 546 guns). Serbiadeployed four armies under the command of Voevoda R. Putnik (the First, Second, Third, and Fourth armies, consisting of 11 infantry divisions and one cavalry division, with a total of 250,000 men and 550 guns). Montenegro had six infantrydivisions (35,000 men and 60 guns).

The strategic deployment of the armed forces of both sides was basically completed by August 4–6 (17–19). Military operations took place in Europe, Asia, and Africa, on all the oceans, and on many seas. The principal operations tookplace in five theaters of ground operations: Western Europe (from 1914), Eastern Europe (from 1914), Italy (from 1915), the Balkans (from 1914), and the Middle East (from 1914). In addition, military operations were carried out in East Asia (Tsingtao, 1914), on the Pacific islands (Oceania), and in the German colonies in Africa, including German East Africa (until the end of the war), German Southwest Africa (until 1915), Togo (1914), and the Cameroons (until 1916).Throughout the war the chief theaters of ground operations were the Western European (French) and the Eastern European (Russian). Particularly important theaters of naval operations were the North, Mediterranean, Baltic, and Black seas and the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

Campaign of 1914. In the Western European theater, military operations began with the invasion by German troops of Luxembourg (August 2) and Belgium (August 4), the latter having rejected a German ultimatum regarding the passage of German troops through its territory. Relying on the fortified areas of Liège and Namur, the Belgian Army offered the enemy stubborn resistance on the Meuse River line. Abandoning Liège after bitter fighting (August 16), the Belgian Army retreated toward Antwerp. Dispatching about two corps (80,000 men and 300 guns) against the Belgian Army, the German command directed the main grouping of its armies to the southwest, toward the Franco-Belgian border. The French armies of the left flank (the Third, Fourth, and Fifth armies) and the British Army were moved forward to meet the German forces. The Battle of the Frontiers took place on Aug. 21–25, 1914.

In view of the danger of the enemy turning the left flank of the Allied forces, the French command withdrew its armies deeper into the country to gain time to regroup its forces and prepare a counteroffensive. From August 7 to 14 the Frencharmies of the right flank (the First and Second armies) conducted an offensive in Alsace and Lorraine. But with the invasion by German forces of France through Belgium, the French offensive was brought to a halt, and both armies were drawn back to their initial positions. The main grouping of German armies continued its offensive along a southwest axis of advance toward Paris and, winning a series of local victories over the Entente armies at Le Cateau (August 26),Nesle and Proyart (August 28–29), and St. Quentin and Guise (August 29–30), reached the Marne River between Paris and Verdun by September 5. The French command completed the regrouping of its forces and, having formed two newarmies (the Sixth and the Ninth) from reserves, created a superiority of forces in this axis. In the battle of the Marne (Sept. 5–12, 1914), the German troops were defeated and forced to withdraw to the Aisne and Oise rivers, where they dug in and stopped the allied counteroffensive by September 16.

From September 16 to October 15, three operations by maneuver known as the Race to the Sea developed out of the attempts of each side to seize the “free space” west of the Oise and extending to the Pas-de-Calais, by enveloping the enemy’s open flanks on the north. The forces of both sides reached the coast west of Ostend. The Belgian Army, which had been forced to withdraw from Antwerp on October 8, occupied a sector on the left flank of the Allied armies. The battle in Flanders on the Yser and Ypres river (October 15 to November 20) did not change the overall situation. Attempts by the Germans to break through the Allied defense and take the ports on the Pas-de-Calais were unsuccessful.Having suffered considerable losses, both sides stopped active combat actions and dug in on the established lines. A static front was established from the Swiss border to the North Sea. In December 1914 it was 720 km long, with 650 km assigned to the French Army, 50 km to the British, and 20 km to the Belgians.

Military operations in the Eastern European theater began on August 4–7 (17–20), with the invasion of East Prussia by the inadequately prepared troops of the Russian Northwestern Front (commanded by General la. G. Zhilinskii; chief ofstaff, General V. A. Oranovskii). During the East Prussian Operation of 1914 the First Russian Army (General P. K. Rennenkampf, commander), advancing from the east, smashed units of the German I Corps near Stallüponen on August 4(17) and inflicted a defeat on the main forces of the German Eighth Army on August 7 (20) in the battle of Gumbinnen-Goldap. On August 7 (20) the Russian Second Army (commanded by General A. V. Samsonov) invaded East Prussia, delivering an attack on the flank and rear of the German Eighth Army. The commander of the Eighth Army decided to begin a withdrawal of forces from East Prussia beyond the Vistula, but the German supreme command, dissatisfied with this decision, ordered a change in command on August 10 (23), appointing General P. von Hindenburg commander and General E. Ludendorff chief of staff.

The offensive by Russian troops in East Prussia forced the German command to take two corps and one cavalry division from the Western Front and send them to the Eastern Front on August 13 (26). This was one of the causes of the defeat of German forces in the battle of the Marne. Taking advantage of the lack of cooperation between the First and Second armies and the mistakes of the Russian command, the enemy was able to inflict a heavy defeat on the Russian Second Army and then on the First Army and drive them out of East Prussia.

In the battle of Galicia (1914), which took place at the same time as the East Prussian Operation, the troops of the Russian Southwestern Front (commander in chief, General N. I. Ivanov; chief of staff, General M. V. Alekseev) inflicted amajor defeat on the Austro-Hungarian forces. They took L’vov on August 21 (September 3), laid seige to the Przemyśl fortress on September 8 (21), and, pursuing the enemy, reached the Wisłoka River and the foothills of the Carpathians by September 13 (26). A danger arose that Russian forces would invade the German province of Silesia. The German supreme command hurriedly transferred major forces from East Prussia to the region of Częstochowa and Kraków and formed a new army (the Ninth). The objective was to deliver a counter strike against Ivangorod (Dęblin) in the flank and rear of the troops of the Southwestern Front and thus to thwart the attack on Silesia that the Russian forces were preparing. Owing to a timely regrouping of forces carried out by Russian General Headquarters, in the Warsaw-Ivangorod Operation of 1914 the Russian armies stopped the advance of the German Ninth Army and the Austro-Hungarian First Army on Ivangorod by September 26 (October 9) and then repulsed the German attack on Warsaw. On October 5 (18), Russian forces went over to the counteroffensive and threw the enemy back to the initial line.

The Russian armies resumed preparations for an invasion of Germany. The German command moved the Ninth Army from the Częstochowa region to the north, having decided to deliver a blow at the right flank and rear of the Russian offensive grouping. In the Łódź Operation of 1914, which began on October 29 (November 11), the enemy succeeded in thwarting the Russian plan, but an attempt to surround the Russian Second and Fifth armies in the Łódź region failed, and German troops were forced to withdraw, suffering heavy losses. At the same time, Russian troops of the Southwestern Front inflicted a defeat on Austro-Hungarian forces in the Częstochowa-Kraków Operation and reached the approaches to Kraków and Częstochowa. Having exhausted their capabilities, both sides went over to the defensive. The Russian armies, which had experienced a critical shortage of ammunition, dug in on the line of the Bzura, Rawka, and Nida rivers.

In the Balkan theater of operations, Austro-Hungarian forces invaded Serbia on August 12. Defeated in a meeting engagement that began on August 16 in the region of Cer Mountain, by August 24 the Austro-Hungarian forces had been thrown back to their initial position beyond the Drina and Sava rivers. On September 7 they renewed the offensive. A shortage of artillery and ammunition forced the Serbs to withdraw on November 7 to the east of the Kolubara River, but after receiving supplies from Russia and France, they went over to the counteroffensive on December 3. By mid-December they had liberated their country from enemy forces. The two sides took up defensive positions on the river boundary lines.

At the end of 1914 hostilities began in the Middle Eastern theater of operations. On July 21 (August 3), Turkey declared its neutrality, waiting and preparing for a convenient moment to come out on the side of the Central Powers. Encouraging Turkey’s aggressive aspirations in the Caucasus, Germany sent the battle cruiser Göben and the light cruiser Breslau to the Black Sea at the war’s beginning (August 10), to support the Turkish Navy. On October 16 (29),Turkish and German ships unexpectedly shelled Odessa, Sevastopol’, Feodosia, and Novorossiisk. On October 20 (November 2), Russia declared war on Turkey, followed by Great Britain (November 5) and France (November 6). Turkey declared a “holy war” against the Entente powers on November 12.

Turkish ground forces consisted of about 800,000 men. The Turkish First, Second, and Fifth armies were deployed in the Straits region; the Third Army, in Turkish Armenia; the Fourth Army, in Syria and Palestine; and the Sixth Army, in Mesopotamia. Sultan Mehmed V was nominally the supreme commander in chief, but in fact the duties of this position were carried out by Enver Pasha, the minister of war. The chief of staff was a German general, W. Bronsart von Schellendorf. Russia moved its Army of the Caucasus to the Turkish border (commander in chief, General I. I. Vorontsov-Dashkov; deputy commander in chief, General A. Z. Myshlaevskii; 170,000 men and 350 guns). In the second half of October (early November) clashes took place in the Erzurum axis. On October 25 (November 7) the Russians seized fortified positions near Köprüköy (50 km north of Erzurum). However, under pressure from the superior forces of the enemy, the Russians withdrew to their initial positions by November 26 (December 9). The Turkish Third Army went over to the offensive on December 9 (22), but during the Sankamuş Operation of 1914–15 it was routed. On November 10 British expeditionary corps landed at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, forming the Mesopotamian Front. On November 22 the British took Basra, which had been abandoned by the Turks. The British captured al-Qurnah on December 9 and established a firm position in southern Mesopotamia.

Germany was unsuccessful in combat operations in Africa, the Far East, and the Pacific Ocean, losing most of its colonies during a single military campaign. In 1914, Japan seized the Caroline, Mariana, and Marshall islands in the Pacific Ocean as well as Tsingtao, a German naval base in China. The Australians seized the German part of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand captured the Samoan Islands. Anglo-French forces occupied the German colonies in Africa: Togo in August 1914, the Cameroons in January 1916, Southwest Africa by July 1915, and East Africa by late 1917. (Until the end of the war, German forces continued to conduct partisan actions in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique and the British colony of Southern Rhodesia.)

Naval operations were of a limited character in 1914. On August 28 there was a battle between light forces of the British and German fleets in the North Sea near the island of Helgoland. On November 5 (18) a Russian squadron waged battle against the German ships Göben and Breslau near Cape Sarych in the Black Sea (50 km southeast of Sevastopol’). Damaged, the German ships retreated. The German command attempted to step up the actions of its fleet in British sea-lanes in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. In the battle of Coronel (Nov. 1, 1914), Admiral M. von Spee’s German squadron (five cruisers) defeated Rear Admiral C. Cradock’s British squadron, but on December 8, Admiral von Spee’s squadron was destroyed by Admiral F. Sturdee’s British squadron near the Falkland Islands. By the beginning of November, three additional German cruisers operating in the Atlantic and Pacific had been sunk.

The campaign of 1914 did not produce decisive results for either side. In France both sides went over to a static defense. Elements of trench warfare also emerged in the Eastern European theater of operations. Military operations demonstrated that the general staffs had been mistaken in their prewar predictions that the war would be short. Stockpiles of armaments and ammunition were used up during the very first operations. At the same time, it became clear that the war would be long and that emergency measures must be taken to mobilize industry and to develop the production of arms and ammunition.

Campaign of 1915. The Anglo-French command decided to go over to a strategic defensive in the Western European theater of operations, in order to gain time to stockpile matériel and train reserves. In the campaign of 1915 the main burden of armed struggle was shifted onto Russia. At the demand of the Allies the Russian command planned simultaneous offensives against Germany (in East Prussia) and Austria-Hungary (in the Carpathians). The prospect of protracted war did not please the German high command, which knew that Germany and its allies could not withstand a lengthy struggle with the Entente powers, who possessed superiority in manpower reserves and material resources.Therefore, the German plan for the campaign of 1915 was an offensive plan that counted on rapidly achieving victory. Lacking sufficient forces to conduct offensives simultaneously in the East and the West, the German command decided to concentrate its main efforts on the Eastern Front, with the objectives of crushing Russia and forcing it to leave the war. A defensive posture was planned for the Western Front.

Russia had 104 divisions against the 74 divisions of the Central Powers (36 German and 38 Austro-Hungarian divisions). Attempting to forestall the offensive prepared by the Russians, between January 25 (February 7) and February 13 (26) the German command undertook the Augustów Operation of 1915 in East Prussia. However, they did not attain their objective of surrounding the Tenth Army of the Russian Northwestern Front. In February and March Russian command used the forces of the Tenth, Twelfth, and First armies to carry out the Przasnysz Operation, during which the enemy was thrown back to the borders of East Prussia. On the southern wing of the Eastern Front, the command of the Russian Southwestern Front carried out the Carpathian Operation of 1915. Beseiged by Russian troops, the 120,000-strong Przemyśl garrison surrendered on March 9 (22). Heavy but indecisive fighting continued in the Carpathians until April 20.Experiencing a critical shortage of weapons and ammunition, the Russian forces brought a halt to their active operations in April 1915.

By the summer of 1915 the German command had formed the Eleventh Army with troops transferred from the Western Front to Galicia. The German Eleventh Army and the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army, under the overall command of the German general A. von Mackensen, went over to the offensive on April 19 (May 2). With an enormous superiority in forces and means (especially in artillery), the enemy broke through the defense of the Russian Third Army near Görlitz. The Görlitz breakthrough of 1915 led to a deep withdrawal of the forces of the Southwestern Front, which left Galicia in May and June.

At the same time, German troops were advancing in the Baltic region. On April 24 (May 7) they took Libau (Liepāja) and reached Shavli (Ŝiauliai) and Kovno (Kaunas). In July the German command attempted to break through the defense of the Russian First Army with an attack of the newly formed Twelfth Army in the Przasnysz region. The Twelfth Army, in cooperation with the Austro-Hungarian Fourth and German Eleventh armies, which were advancing from Galicia toward the northeast, was to surround the main groupings of the Russian forces, which were in Poland. The German plan was unsuccessful, but the Russian troops were forced to withdraw from Poland.

In the Vil’na Operation of August 1915 the Germans attempted to surround the Russian Tenth Army in the Vil’na (Vilnius) region. On August 27 (September 9) the enemy managed to break through the Russian defense and gain the rear of the Tenth Army. However, the Russian command stopped the enemy breakthrough. In October 1915 the front stabilized on the line of Riga, the Zapadnaia Dvina River, Dvinsk, Smorgon’, Baranovichi, Dubno, and the Strypa River. The German command had failed in its plan to force Russia to leave the war in 1915.

At the beginning of 1915 there were 75 French, 11 British, and six Belgian divisions opposing 82 German divisions in the Western European theater of operations. The number of British divisions increased to 31 in September and 37 in December. Planning no major operations, both sides conducted only local battles in this theater of military operations during the campaign of 1915. On April 22 at Ypres the German command became the first to use chemical weapons(chlorine gas) on the Western Front: 15,000 persons were poisoned. The German troops advanced 6 km. In May and June the Allies launched an offensive in Artois. Carried out with insufficient forces, it did not influence the course of combat operations on the Russian Front.

On July 7 the Interallied War Council was formed in Chantilly, to coordinate the strategic efforts of the Entente powers. To assist Russia, the council decided to undertake an offensive on the Western Front, with the objective of drawing considerable German forces away from the Eastern Front. However, offensive operations were carried out only from September 25 to October 6 in Champagne and Artois. At this time active military operations had in fact ceased on the Russian Front. Moreover, the Allied forces were unable to break through the strong enemy defense.

In the Middle Eastern theater of operations Russian forces conducted the most active military operations. In the Alashgerd Operation they cleared the enemy from the area around Lakes Van and Urmia. The increasing activity of German and Turkish agents in Iran forced the Russian command to send troops into the northern part of that country. General N. N. Baratov’s Caucasus Expeditionary Corps (about 8,000 men and 20 guns) was transferred from Tiflis to Baku and transported over the Caspian Sea to the Iranian port of Enzeli (Bandar-e Pahlavi), where it landed on October 17 (30). In November the corps occupied the city of Qazvin, and on December 3 (16) it took the city of Hamadan. Attempts by Germany and Turkey to strengthen their influence in Iran and draw it into the war against Russia were thwarted. The Caucasian Front (commander in chief, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich), which united all the Russian forces operating in the Middle Eastern theater, was formed in October 1915.

On the Mesopotamian Front, British troops under the command of General C. Townshend moved slowly toward Baghdad in September 1915, but on November 22 they were attacked and routed by the Turks, 35 km from the city, and on December 7 they were beseiged in Kut al-Amarah. The Russian command offered to organize coordinated actions between the British forces and the forces of the Caucasian Front, but the British command refused the offer, because it did not want Russian forces to enter the oil-rich Mosul region. At the end of 1915 the British corps in Mesopotamia was replenished and converted into an expeditionary army. On the Syrian Front the Turkish Fourth Army attempted to take the Suez Canal, by attacking Egypt from Palestine, but the Turks were driven back by two Anglo-Indian divisions. The Turks took up a defensive position in the al-Arish region.

In 1915 the Entente succeeded in drawing Italy into the war on its side. The vacillation of the Italian government was ended by the promises of the Entente powers to give greater satisfaction to Italy’s territorial claims than had been offered by Germany. On Apr. 26, 1915, the Treaty of London was signed. On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, but it did not declare war against Germany until Aug. 28, 1916. The Italian Army (commander in chief, King Victor Emmanuel III; chief of staff, General L. Cadorna) had 35 divisions, with a total of about 870,000 men and 1,700 guns. On May 24, Italian forces began military operations on two axes: against Trent and simultaneously toward the Isonzo River with the mission of reaching Trieste. The Italians failed on both axes. By June 1915 military operations in the Italian theater had already assumed a static character. Four attacks by Italian forces on the Isonzo River ended in collapse.

In the Balkan theater of operations the position of the Allies became more complicated in October 1915, when Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Central Powers (the Bulgarian-German Treaty of 1915 and the Bulgarian-Turkish Treaty of 1915). On September 8 (21), Bulgaria proclaimed a mobilization of its army (12 divisions, about 500,000 men). In late September (early October), 14 German and Austro-Hungarian divisions and six Bulgarian divisions under the overall command of Field Marshal General von Mackensen were deployed against Serbia. The Serbs had 12 divisions. To assist Serbia, Great Britain and France, under an agreement with Greece, began on September 22 (October 5) to land an expeditionary corps at Salonika (Thessaloniki) and move it toward the border between Greece and Serbia. On September 24 (October 7) the Austro-German and Bulgarian forces launched a converging offensive against Serbia from the north, west, and east. For two months the Serbian Army courageously repulsed the onslaught of the superior forces of the enemy, but it was compelled to withdraw through the mountains to Albania. Approximately 140,000 men were transported by the Entente fleet from Durrës (Durazzo) to the Greek island of Corfu (Kerkira). The Anglo-French expeditionary corps retreated to the Salonika region, where the Salonika Front was formed in late 1915. The occupation of Serbia secured for the Central Powers the opportunity to establish direct rail communication with Turkey, making it possible to provide Turkey with military assistance.

During 1915 the German Navy continued its attempts to weaken the fleets of its enemies and to undermine the supply of Great Britain by sea. On January 24 a battle took place between British and German squadrons at Dogger Bank (North Sea). Neither side attained success. On Feb. 18, 1915, Germany declared that it was initiating “unrestricted submarine warfare.” The sinking of the passenger steamers Lusitania (May 7) and Arabic (August 19) evoked protests from the USA and other neutral countries, forcing the German government to limit its submarine warfare to actions against warships.

In February 1915 the Anglo-French command began to carry out a naval operation, the Gallipoli Expedition (the Dardanelles Operation of 1915), attempting to use naval forces to cross the Dardanelles, break through to Constantinople, and put Turkey out of the war. The breakthrough failed. In April 1915 a major landing party was set down on the Gallipoli Peninsula, but Turkish forces offered stiff resistance. In December 1915 and January 1916 the Allied command was forced to evacuate the landing forces, which were transferred to the Salonika Front. During the preparation for and execution of the Gallipoli Expedition, there was a bitter diplomatic struggle among the Allies. The expedition was undertaken under the pretext of assisting Russia. In March-April 1915, Great Britain and France had reached an agreement with Russia, under which Constantinople and the Straits would be handed over to Russia after the war, on the condition that the latter did not interfere in the partitioning of Asiatic Turkey. In reality, the Allies intended to capture the Straits and deny Russia access to them. Anglo-French talks on the partitioning of Asiatic Turkey concluded with the signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. In August the German Navy undertook the Moonsund Operation of 1915, which was a failure. The Russian Black Sea Fleet continued to operate in Turkish sea-lanes. On April 21 (May 2), during the Gallipoli Expedition, it shelled the fortifications on the Bosporus.

The campaign of 1915 did not fulfill the hopes of either of the hostile coalitions, but its outcome was more favorable for the Entente. The German command, again failing to solve the problem of crushing its enemies one by one, faced the necessity of continuing a long war on two fronts. The chief burden of the struggle in 1915 was borne by Russia, giving France and Great Britain time to mobilize their economies to meet war needs. Russia also began to mobilize its industry. In 1915 the Russian Front grew more important: in the summer, 107 Austro-German divisions, or 54 percent of all the forces of the Central Powers, were stationed there, as compared to 52 divisions (33 percent) at the beginning of the war.

The war placed a heavy burden on the toiling people. Gradually freeing themselves of the chauvinistic attitudes that had been widespread at the beginning of the war, the popular masses became more and more resolutely opposed to the imperialist slaughter. Antiwar demonstrations took place in 1915, and the strike movement in the warring countries began to grow. This process developed with particular speed and violence in Russia, where conditions were greatly exacerbated by military defeats, and a revolutionary situation developed in the autumn of 1915. At the fronts, there were cases of fraternization among soldiers from hostile armies. The propaganda of the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, and the left groups of European socialists and Social Democratic parties helped arouse the masses to revolutionary activity. In Germany the International Group was formed in the spring of 1915 under the leadership of K. Liebknecht and R. Luxemburg. (From 1916 the group was known as the Spartacus League.) The Zimmerwald Conference (Sept. 5–8, 1915), an international socialist conference of great importance for the consolidation of revolutionary antiwar forces, adopted a manifesto that signified “a step toward an ideological and practical break with opportunism and social chauvinism” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 38).

Campaign of 1916. By the beginning of 1916 the Central Powers, having expended enormous efforts in the first two campaigns, had considerably depleted their resources but had been unable to force France or Russia to leave the war. The Entente raised the number of its divisions to 365, as against the 286 divisions of the German bloc.

The 1916 operations by the armies of the Central Powers were based on General von Falkenhayn’s plan, according to which the main efforts were again to be directed against France. The main attack was to be delivered in the Verdun region, which was of great operational importance. A breakthrough on this axis would threaten the entire northern wing of the Allied armies. The German plan called for active operations at the same time in the Italian theater, using the forces of the Austro-Hungarian armies. In the Eastern European theater of operations, the Germans decided to limit operations to a strategic defensive. The fundamentals of the Entente’s plan for the 1916 campaign were adopted at a conference in Chantilly (France) on Dec. 6–9, 1915. Offensives were planned for the Eastern European, Western European, and Italian theaters of operations. The Russian Army was to be the first to launch offensive operations, followed by the Anglo-French and Italian forces. The Allies’ strategic plan was the first attempt to coordinate troop operations on different fronts.

The Entente plan did not provide for going over to a general offensive until the summer of 1916. This ensured that the German command would keep the strategic initiative, a factor which it decided to use to its advantage. The Germans had 105 divisions on a front 680 km long in the Western European theater of operations. They were opposed by 139 Allied divisions (95 French, 38 British, and six Belgian divisions). On February 21 the German command began the Verdun Operation of 1916, without an overall superiority in forces. Bitter combat, during which both sides suffered heavy losses, continued until December. The Germans expended enormous efforts but were unable to break through the defense.

In the Italian theater of operations the command of the Italian Army launched its fifth unsuccessful offensive on the Isonzo River in March 1916. On May 15, Austro-Hungarian forces (18 divisions and 2,000 guns) delivered a counter blow in the Trentino region. The Italian First Army (16 divisions and 623 guns), unable to hold back the enemy onslaught, began to withdraw to the south. Italy requested emergency assistance from its allies.

Operations in the Eastern European theater, where 128 Russian divisions were deployed against 87 Austro-German divisions along a front 1,200 km long, were particularly important in the campaign of 1916. The Naroch (Narocz) Operation,which was carried out on March 5–17 (18–30), forced the Germans temporarily to weaken their attacks on Verdun. The Russian offensive on the Southwestern Front (commander in chief, General A. A. Brusilov), which began on May 22 (June 4), was of great importance. The Russians broke through the defense of the Austro-German forces to a depth of 80–120 km. The enemy suffered heavy losses (more than 1 million killed and wounded and more than 400,000 taken prisoner). The command of the Central Powers were forced to move 11 German divisions from France and six Austro-Hungarian divisions from Italy to the Russian Front.

The Russian offensive saved the Italian Army from destruction, eased the situation of the French at Verdun, and hastened Rumania’s entry into the war on the side of the Entente. Rumania declared war on Austria-Hungary on August 14(27), on Germany on August 15 (28), on Turkey on August 17 (30), and on Bulgaria on August 19 (September 1). The Rumanian armed forces consisted of four armies (23 infantry and two cavalry divisions; 250,000 men). The Russian 47th Army Corps was moved across the Danube to the Dobruja region to assist the Rumanian forces. With Russian support, Rumanian forces launched an offensive in Transylvania on August 20 (September 2) and later in the Dobruja region, but they did not attain success. The Austro-German command concentrated General von Falkenhayn’s army group in Transylvania (the German Ninth Army and the Austro-Hungarian First Army, with a total of 26 infantry and seven cavalry divisions) and Field Marshal General von Mackensen’s German Danube Army in Bulgaria (nine infantry and two cavalry divisions). On September 13 (26) both groups, under the overall command of General von Falkenhayn, went over to the offensive at the same time. The Rumanian Army was routed.

On November 22 (December 6), German forces entered Bucharest, which the Rumanians abandoned without a fight. The Russian command moved in 35 infantry and 13 cavalry divisions to assist Rumania. Russia had to form a new Rumanian front. By the end of 1916, its forces had stopped the advance of the Austro-German armies on the line between Focşani and the mouth of the Danube. The formation of the Rumanian Front increased the total length of the front line by 500 km and diverted about a fourth of Russia’s armed forces, thereby worsening the strategic position of the Russian Army.

After lengthy preparation, Anglo-French forces opened a major offensive on the Somme River on July 1, but it developed very slowly. Tanks were used for the first time on September 15 by the British. The Allies continued the offensive until mid-November, but despite enormous losses, they advanced only 5–15 km and failed to break through the German static front.

In the Middle Eastern theater of operations the forces of the Russian Caucasian Front successfully carried out the Erzurum Operation of 1916, the Trabzon Operation of 1916, and the Erzincan and Oğnut operations, taking the cities ofErzurum, Trabzon, and Erzincan. General N. N. Baratov’s I Caucasus Cavalry Corps launched an offensive on the Mosul and Baghdad axes, with the objective of assisting the British, who were beseiged at Kut al-Amarah. In February the corps took Kermanshah, and in May it reached the Turkish-Iranian border. With the surrender of the garrison at Kut al-Amarah on Apr. 28, 1916, the Russian corps brought a halt to its advance and took up a defensive position east of Kermanshah.

In naval operations, the British fleet continued its long-range blockade of Germany. German submarines were active on the sea-lanes. The system of minefields was improved. The battle of Jutland (1916) was the war’s only major naval battle between the main forces of the British Navy (Admiral J. Jellicoe) and the German Navy (Admiral R. Scheer). The battle involved 250 surface ships, including 58 capital ships (battleships and battle cruisers). As a result of its superiority in forces, the British fleet was victorious, even though it suffered greater losses than the German fleet. The defeat shattered the German command’s belief that it was possible to break through the British blockade. The Russian Black Sea Fleet continued its actions on enemy sea-lanes, blockading the Bosporus from August 1916.

The campaign of 1916 did not result in the achievement of the objectives set at the beginning by either coalition, but the superiority of the Entente over the Central Powers became evident. The strategic initiative passed fully to the Entente, and Germany was forced to go over to the defensive on all fronts.

The bloody battles of 1916, which involved enormous human sacrifices and great expenditures of matériel, were depleting the resources of the belligerent powers. The situation of the working people continued to worsen, but the revolutionary movement also continued to grow stronger in 1916. The Kienthal Conference of internationalists (Apr. 24–30, 1916) played an important role in increasing solidarity among revolutionary forces. The revolutionary movement developed with particular speed and turbulence in Russia, where the war had finally revealed to the popular masses the complete decadence of tsarism. A powerful wave of strikes swept over the country, led by the Bolsheviks under the slogans of struggle against the war and the autocracy. The Middle Asian Uprising, a national liberation movement, took place from July to October 1916. In the autumn a revolutionary situation took shape in Russia. The inability of tsarism to win the war aroused discontent among the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie, who began to prepare a palace revolution. The revolutionary movement grew stronger in other countries. The Irish Rebellion, or Easter Rising (Apr. 24–30, 1916), was harshly suppressed by British troops. On May 1, K. Liebknecht led a massive antiwar demonstration in Berlin. The growing revolutionary crisis forced the imperialists to direct their efforts toward quickly ending the war. In 1916, Germany and tsarist Russia attempted to open separate peace negotiations.

Campaign of 1917. As the campaign of 1917 was prepared and carried out, the revolutionary movement grew considerably stronger in every country. Protest against the war with its enormous losses, against the sharp decline in the standard of living, and against the increasing exploitation of the working people became stronger among the popular masses at the front and in the rear. The revolutionary events in Russia had a tremendous effect on the subsequent course of the war.

By the beginning of the campaign of 1917, the Entente had 425 divisions (21 million men), and the Central Powers, 331 divisions (10 million men). In April 1917 the USA entered the war on the side of the Entente. The fundamental principles of the plan for the campaign of 1917 were adopted by the Allies at the third conference in Chantilly on Nov. 15–16, 1916, and were made more specific in February 1917 at a conference in Petrograd. The plan provided for limited operations on all fronts early in the year, to hold the strategic initiative. In the summer the Allies were to go over to a general offensive in the Western European and Eastern European theaters of operations, with the objective of finally crushing Germany and Austria-Hungary. The German command rejected offensive operations on land and decided to focus its attention on waging “unrestricted submarine warfare,” believing that it could disrupt the British economy in six months and force Great Britain out of the war. On Feb. 1, 1917, Germany declared “unrestricted submarine warfare” on Great Britain for the second time. Between February and April 1917, German submarines destroyed more than 1,000 merchant ships of the Allied and neutral countries (a total of 1,752,000 tons). By mid-1917, Great Britain, which had lost merchant ships amounting to approximately 3 million tons, found itself in a difficult situation. It could only make up for 15 percent of the losses, and this was not enough to sustain the export and import traffic essential to the country. By the end of 1917, however, after the organization of a reinforced defense of the sea-lanes and the development of various means of antisubmarine defense, the Entente managed to reduce its merchant ship losses. “Unrestricted submarine warfare” did not fulfill the hopes of the German command. Meanwhile, the continuing British blockade was starving Germany.

In executing the general plan for the campaign, the Russian command carried out the Mitau Operation on Dec. 23–29, 1916 (Jan. 5–11, 1917), with the objective of diverting part of the enemy forces from the Western European theater of operations. On February 27 (March 12) a bourgeois democratic revolution took place in Russia (the February Bourgeois Democratic Revolution of 1917). Under the leadership of the Bolsheviks, the proletariat, demanding peace, bread, and freedom, led the majority of the army, which was made up of workers and peasants, in the overthrow of the autocracy. However, the bourgeois Provisional Government came to power. Expressing the interests of Russian imperialism, it continued the war. Deceiving the masses of soldiers with false promises of peace, it opened an offensive operation with the troops of the Southwestern Front. The operation ended in failure (the June Operation of 1917).

By the summer of 1917 the combat capability of the Rumanian Army had been restored with Russian assistance, and in the battle of Mărăşeşti (July-August) Russian and Rumanian forces repulsed the German forces, which were attempting to break through to the Ukraine. On August 19–24 (September 1–6), during the Riga defensive operation, Russian troops surrendered Riga. The revolutionary sailors of the Baltic Fleet heroically defended the Moonsund Archipelago in the Moonsund Operation of Sept. 29 (Oct. 12)-Oct. 6 (19), 1917. These were the last operations on the Russian Front.

The Great October Socialist Revolution took place on Oct. 25 (Nov. 7), 1917. The proletariat, in alliance with the poorest peasants and under the leadership of the Communist Party, overthrew the power of the bourgeoisie and the landlords and opened the era of socialism. Carrying out the will of the people, the Soviet government addressed a proposal to all the warring powers, calling for the conclusion of a just democratic peace without annexations and reparations (the decree on peace). When the Entente powers and the USA refused to accept the proposal, the Soviet government was forced to conclude an armistice with the German coalition on December 2(15) and begin peace negotiations without the participation of Russia’s former allies. On November 26 (December 9), Rumania concluded the Focşani armistice with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

In the Italian theater of operations there were 57 Italian divisions opposing 27 Austro-Hungarian divisions in April 1917. Despite the numerical superiority of the Italian forces, the Italian command was unable to attain success. Three more offensives against the Isonzo River failed. On October 24, Austro-Hungarian troops went over to the offensive in the Caporetto region, broke through the Italians’ defense, and inflicted a major defeat on them. Without the assistance of 11 British and French divisions transferred to the Italian theater of operations, it would not have been possible to stop the advance of the Austro-Hungarian forces at the Piave River in late November. In the Middle Eastern theater of operations British troops advanced successfully in Mesopotamia and Syria. They took Baghdad on March 11 and Be’er Sheva’ (Beersheba), Gaza, Jaffa, and Jerusalem in late 1917.

The Entente plan of operations in France, which was developed by General Nivelle, called for delivering the main attack on the Aisne River between Reims and Soissons, in order to break through the enemy defense and surround the German forces in the Noyon salient. Learning of the French plan, by March 17 the German command withdrew its forces 30 km to a previously prepared line known as the Siegfried Line. Subsequently, the French command decided to begin the offensive on a broad front, committing to action major forces and means: six French and three British armies (90 infantry and ten cavalry divisions), more than 11,000 guns and mortars, 200 tanks, and about 1,000 airplanes.

The Allied offensive began on April 9 in the Arras region, on April 12 near St. Quentin, and on April 16 in the Reims region and continued until April 20–28 and May 5 on some axes. The April offensive (the “Nivelle slaughter”) ended incomplete failure. Although about 200,000 men had been lost, the Allied forces had not been able to break through the front. Mutinies broke out in the French Army, but they were cruelly suppressed. A Russian brigade that had been in France since 1916 took part in the offensive on the Aisne River. In the second half of 1917, Anglo-French forces carried out a number of local operations: Messines (June 7-August 30), Ypres (July 31-November 6), Verdun (August 20–27),and Malmaison (October 23–26). At Cambrai (November 20-December 6) massed tanks were used for the first time.

The campaign of 1917 did not produce the results anticipated by either side. The revolution in Russia and the lack of coordinated action by the Allies thwarted the Entente’s strategic plan, which had been intended to crush the Austro-Hungarian bloc. Germany succeeded in repulsing the enemy attacks, but its hope of attaining victory by means of “unrestricted submarine warfare” proved vain, and the troops of the coalition of Central Powers were forced to go over to the defensive.

Campaign of 1918. By early 1918 the military and political situation had changed fundamentally. After the October Revolution Soviet Russia quit the war. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution, a revolutionary crisis was ripening in the other warring powers. The Entente countries (excluding Russia) had 274 divisions at the beginning of 1918—that is, forces approximately equal to those of the German bloc, which had 275 divisions (not counting 86 divisions in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region and nine divisions in the Caucasus). The military and economic situation of the Entente was stronger than that of the German bloc. However, the Allied command believed that even more powerful human and material resources would have to be prepared, with the assistance of the USA, in order to finally crush Germany.

Strategic defensives were planned for all theaters of military operations in the campaign of 1918. The decisive offensive against Germany was postponed until 1919. Their resources running out, the Central Powers were eager to end the war as quickly as possible. Having concluded the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Soviet Russia on Mar. 3, 1918, the German command decided in March to go over to the offensive on the Western Front to crush the Entente armies. At the same time, German and Austro-Hungarian forces, in violation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, began occupying the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and the Baltic region. Rumania was drawn into the anti-Soviet intervention after May 7, when it signed the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1918, the terms of which were dictated by the Central Powers.

On March 21 the German command began a major offensive operation on the Western Front (the March Offensive in Picardy). Their intention was to cut off the British forces from the French forces by means of an attack on Amiens, then crush them and reach the sea. The Germans made sure that they would have superiority in forces and means (62 divisions, 6,824 guns, and about 1,000 airplanes against 32 divisions, about 3,000 guns, and about 500 airplanes for the British). The German forces broke through the Allied defense to a depth of 60 km. The Allied command eliminated the breakthrough by bringing reserves into the battle. The German forces suffered heavy losses (about 230,000 men) but did not achieve their assigned objective. Going over to the offensive again on April 9 in Flanders on the Lys River, the German forces advanced 18 km, but by April 14 the Allies stopped them.

On May 27 the German armies delivered an attack north of Reims (the battle of the Chemin des Dames). They managed to cross the Aisne River and penetrate the Allied defense to a depth of about 60 km, reaching the Marne in the Château-Thierry region by May 30. Having arrived within 70 km of Paris, the German forces were unable to overcome French resistance, and on June 4 they went over to the defensive. The attempt of German troops from June 9 to 13 to advance between Montdidier and Noyon was equally unsuccessful.

On July 15 the German command made a final attempt to defeat the Allied armies by opening a major offensive on the Marne. The battle of the Marne of 1918 (the second battle of the Marne) did not fulfill the Germans’ hopes. After crossing the Marne, they were unable to advance more than 6 km. On July 18, Allied forces delivered a counterattack; by August 4 they had driven the enemy back to the Aisne and the Vesle. In four months of offensive operations the German command had completely exhausted its reserves but had been unable to crush the Entente armies.

The Allies took firm control of the strategic initiative. On August 8–13 the Anglo-French armies inflicted a major defeat on the German forces in the Amiens Operation of 1918, making them withdraw to the line from which their March offensive had begun. Ludendorff referred to August 8 as “the black day of the German Army.” On September 12–15 the American First Army, commanded by General J. Pershing, won a victory over German forces at St. Mihiel (the St. Mihiel Operation). On September 26, Allied forces (202 divisions against 187 weakened German divisions) began a general offensive along the entire 420-km front from Verdun to the sea and broke through the German defense.

In the other theaters of military operations the campaign of 1918 ended with the defeat of Germany’s allies. The Entente had 56 divisions, including 50 Italian divisions, in the Italian theater of operations, as well as more than 7,040 guns and more than 670 airplanes. Austria-Hungary had 60 divisions, 7,500 guns, and 580 airplanes. On June 15 the Austro-Hungarian forces, going over to the offensive south of Trent, broke through the enemy defense and advanced 3–4 km, but on June 20–26 they were thrown back to the starting line by counterattack by Allied forces. On October 24 the Italian Army went over to the offensive against the Piave River, but it made only an insignificant advance. On October 28 units of the Austro-Hungarian Fifth and Sixth armies, refusing to fight, began to abandon their positions. They were soon joined by troops of other armies, and a disorderly retreat of all the Austro-Hungarian forces began on November 2. On November 3,Austria-Hungary signed an armistice with the Entente at Villa Giusti (near Padua).

In the Balkan theater of operations, the Allied forces consisted of 29 infantry divisions (eight French, four British, six Serbian, one Italian, and ten Greek divisions and one French cavalry group, a total of about 670,000 men; and 2,070 guns).Facing them along a 350-km front from the Aegean to the Adriatic were the forces of the Central Powers—the German Eleventh Army; the Bulgarian First, Second, and Fourth armies; an Austro-Hungarian corps (a total of about 400,000 men); and 1,138 guns. On September 15 the Allies began an offensive; by September 29 they had advanced to a depth of 150 km along a front of 250 km. Surrounded, the German Eleventh Army surrendered on September 30. The Bulgarian armies were smashed. On September 29, Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Entente in Salonika.

The British army of General E. H. Allenby and the Arab army commanded by Emir Faisal and the British intelligence officer Colonel T. E. Lawrence (a total of 105,000 men and 546 guns) were operating on the Syrian Front, where Turkey had three armies—the Fourth, the Seventh, and the Eighth (a total of 34,000 men and about 330 guns). The Allied offensive began on September 19. Breaking through the enemy defense and pushing forward cavalry units to the enemy rear, Allied troops forced the Turkish Eighth and Seventh armies to surrender; the Turkish Fourth Army retreated. Between September 28 and October 27 the Allies captured Akko (Acre), Damascus, Tripoli, and Aleppo. A French landing party went ashore at Beirut on October 7.

On the Mesopotamian Front the British expeditionary army of General W. Marshall (five divisions) went on the offensive against the Turkish Sixth Army (four divisions). The British captured Kirkuk on October 24 and Mosul on October 31.The Entente powers and Turkey signed the Moudhros Armistice on Oct. 30, 1918, aboard the British battleship Agamemnon in Moudhros Bay (the island of Limnos).

In early October, Germany’s position became hopeless. On October 5 the German government asked the US government for an armistice. The Allies demanded the withdrawal of German forces from all occupied territory in the west. The military defeats and economic exhaustion of Germany had accelerated the development of a revolutionary crisis. The victory and progress of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia strongly influenced the growth of the revolutionary movement of the German people. On Oct. 30, 1918, an uprising broke out among the sailors in Wilhelmshaven. The Kiel Mutiny of sailors in the German fleet took place on Nov. 3, 1918; on November 6 the uprising spread to Hamburg, Lübeck, and other cities. On November 9 the revolutionary German workers and soldiers overthrew the monarchy. Fearing further development of the revolution in Germany, the Entente hurried to conclude the Armistice of Compiègne with Germany on Nov. 11, 1918. Germany, admitting that it had been defeated, obligated itself to remove its forces immediately from all occupied territories and turn over to the Allies a large quantity of armaments and military equipment.

Results of the war. World War I ended in the defeat of Germany and its allies. After the conclusion of the Armistice of Compiègne the victorious powers began developing plans for a postwar “settlement.” Treaties with the defeated countries were prepared at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20. A number of separate treaties were signed: the Peace Treaty of Versailles with Germany (June 28, 1919), the Treaty of St.-Germain with Austria (Sept. 10, 1919), the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria (Nov. 27, 1919), the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary (June 4, 1920), and the Treaty of Sèvres with Turkey (Aug. 10, 1920). The Paris Peace Conference also adopted a resolution regarding the establishment of the League of Nations and approved its Covenant, which became part of the peace treaties. Germany and its former allies were deprived of considerable territories and compelled to pay heavy reparations and greatly reduce their armed forces.

The postwar peace “settlement” in the interests of the victorious imperialist powers was completed by the Washington Conference on Naval Limitations (1921–22). The treaties with Germany and its former allies and the agreements signed at the Washington Conference constituted the Versailles-Washington system of peace. The result of compromises and deals, it failed to eliminate the contradictions among the imperialist powers and in fact considerably exacerbated them. Lenin wrote: “Today, after this ‘peaceful’ period, we see a monstrous intensification of oppression, the reversion to a colonial and military oppression that is far worse than before” (ibid., 5th ed., vol. 41, p. 217). The imperialist powers began to struggle for a repartition of the world, preparing for another world war.

In its scope and consequences World War I was unprecedented in the history of the human race. It lasted four years, three months, and ten days (from Aug. 1, 1914, to Nov. 11, 1918), engulfing 38 countries with a combined population of more than 1.5 billion. The Entente countries mobilized about 45 million men, and the coalition of the Central Powers, 25 million —a total of 70 million men. The most able-bodied men on both sides were removed from material production and sent to exterminate each other, fighting for the interests of the imperialists. By the end of the war, the ground forces exceeded their peacetime counterparts by a factor of 8.5 in Russia, five in France, nine in Germany, and eight in Austria-Hungary. As much as 50 and even 59.4 percent (in France) of the able-bodied male population was mobilized. The Central Powers mobilized almost twice the percentage of the total population as the Entente (19.1 percent, as compared to 10.3 percent). About 16 million men—more than one-third of all those mobilized by the Entente and its allies— were mobilized for the Russian armed forces. In June 1917, 288 (55.3 percent) of the Entente’s 521 divisions were Russian. In Germany, 13.25 million men were mobilized, or more than half of all the soldiers mobilized by the Central Powers. In June 1918, 236 (63.4 percent) of the Central Powers’ 361 divisions were German. The large size of the armies resulted in the formation of vast fronts up to 3,000–4,000 km long.

WWIGraph5

The war demanded the mobilization of all material resources, demonstrating the decisive role of the economy in an armed struggle. World War I was characterized by the massive use of many types of matériel. “It is the first time in history that the most powerful achievements of technology have been applied on such a scale, so destructively and with such energy, for the annihilation of millions of human lives” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 36, p. 396). Industry in the warring countries supplied the fronts with millions of rifles, more than 1 million light and heavy machine guns, more than 150,000 artillery pieces, 47.7 billion cartridges, more than 1 billion shells, 9,200 tanks, and about 182,000 airplanes (see Table 4). During the war the number of heavy artillery pieces increased by a factor of eight, the number of machine guns by a factor of 20, and the number of airplanes by a factor of 24. The war created a demand for large quantities of various materials, such as lumber and cement. About 4 million tons of barbed wire were used. Armies of millions of men demanded an uninterrupted supply of food, clothing, and forage. For example, from 1914 to 1917 the Russian Army consumed (in round figures) 9.64 million tons of flour, 1.4 million tons of cereal, 8.74 million tons of meat, 510,000 tons of fats, 11.27 million tons of forage oats and barley, and 19.6 million tons of hay, with a total value of 2,473,700,000 rubles (at 1913 prices). The front was supplied with 5 million sheepskin coats and pea jackets, 38.4 million sweaters and padded vests, more than 75 million pairs of underwear, 86.1 million pairs of high boots and shoes, 6.6 million pairs of felt boots, and other clothing.

Military enterprises alone could not produce such enormous quantities of armaments and other supplies. Industry was mobilized by means of a large-scale conversion of consumer-goods plants and factories to the production of war goods. In Russia in 1917, 76 percent of the workers were engaged in meeting war needs; in France, 57 percent; in Great Britain, 46 percent; in Italy, 64 percent; in the USA, 31.6 percent; and in Germany, 58 percent. In most of the warring countries, however, industry was unable to supply the needs of the armies for armaments and equipment. Russia, for example, was forced to order armaments, ammunition, clothing, industrial equipment, steam locomotives, coal, and certain other types of strategic raw materials from the USA, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Japan, and other countries. During the war, however, these countries provided the Russian Army with only a small proportion of its total requirements for armaments and ammunition: 30 percent of the rifles, less than 1 percent of the rifle cartridges, 23 percent of the guns of different calibers, and 20 percent of the shells for these guns.

In all the major countries special state bodies were established to manage the war economies: in Germany the Department of War Raw Materials, in Great Britain the Ministry of Munitions, and in Russia the Special Conferences (for state defense, fuel, shipping, and food). These state bodies planned war production; distributed orders, equipment, and raw and processed materials; rationed food and consumer goods; and exercised control over foreign trade. The capitalists formed their own representative organizations to assist the state bodies: in Germany the Central War Industries Council and war industries committees for each sector, in Great Britain the supervisory committees, and in Russia the war industries committees and the Zemstvo and Municipal unions. As a result, an interlocking relationship developed between the state administrative apparatus and the monopolies. “The imperialist war has immensely accelerated and intensified the process of transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 33, p. 3). Although the state bodies managing the war economy had strong assistance from the representative organizations of the capitalists, the very nature of the capitalist economy prevented them from achieving complete success.

The war made intensive demands on all types of transportation. Up to half of all railroad rolling stock was loaded with military shipments. Most motor vehicles were used for military needs. A large number of the merchant vessels of the warring and neutral countries were engaged in shipping cargoes for war industries and armies. During the war 6,700 vessels (excluding sailing ships) were sunk (total displacement, about 15 million tons, or 28 percent of the prewar world tonnage).

The increase in military production, which was achieved primarily at the expense of nonmilitary sectors, placed excessive strains on the national economies, resulting in the disruption of the proportion between different sectors of production and, ultimately, in economic disorder. In Russia, for example, two-thirds of all industrial output went for war needs and only one-third for consumer needs, giving rise to a scarcity of goods, as well as to high prices and speculation. As early as 1915 there were shortages of many types of industrial raw materials and fuel, and by 1916 there was a severe raw materials and fuel crisis in Russia. As a result of the war, the production of many types of industrial output declined in other countries. There was a significant decline in the smelting of pig iron, steel, and nonferrous metals; the extraction of coal and petroleum; and output from all branches of light industry. The war damaged society’s productive forces and undermined the economic life of the people of the world.

In agriculture the effects of the war were especially grave. Mobilization deprived the countryside of its most productive workers and draft animals. Sown areas were cut back, yields dropped, and the number of livestock decreased and their productivity declined. Severe shortages of food developed in the cities of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, which later experienced famine. The shortages spread to the army, resulting in cuts in food rations.

World War I demanded colossal financial expenditures, many times greater than the expenditures in all previous wars. There is no scientifically substantiated estimate of the total cost of World War I, but the one most commonly cited in the literature was calculated by the American economist E. Bogart, who set the total cost of the war at $359.9 billion in gold (699.4 billion rubles), including $208.3 billion (405 billion rubles) of direct (budgeted) expenditures and $151.6 billion (294.4 billion rubles) of indirect expenditures. Direct war expenditures included the cost of maintaining the army (40 percent) and the cost of the material and technological means for waging war (60 percent). The national income provided the economic base for covering war expenditures. Additional sources of financing the war were increases in existing (direct and indirect) taxes and the institution of new taxes, the sale of domestic and foreign bonds, and the issuing of paper money. The full weight of the financial burden of the war fell on the toiling classes of the population.

World War I was an important stage in the history of the art of war and in the building of armed forces. There were major changes in the organization and relationships of the various combat arms. The great length of the fronts and the deployment on them of vast armies of millions of soldiers led to the creation of new organizational units: fronts and army groups. The firepower of the infantry increased, but its proportionate role decreased somewhat as the result of the development of other combat arms: engineers, signal troops, and especially, the artillery. The number of artillery pieces rose sharply, technology improved, and new types of artillery were developed (antiaircraft, infantry support, and antitank artillery). The range of fire, destructive force of fire, and mobility of the artillery increased. The density of artillery reached 100 or more guns per kilometer of front. Infantry attacks were accompanied by rolling barrages.

Tanks, a powerful striking and mobile force, were used for the first time. Tank forces developed rapidly. By the war’s end there were 8,000 tanks in the Entente armies. In aviation, which also developed rapidly, several different branches emerged: fighter, reconnaissance, bombardment, and ground attack aviation. By the end of the war the belligerent powers had more than 10,000 combat aircraft. Antiaircraft defense developed in the air war. Chemical warfare troops appeared. The significance of the cavalry among the combat arms declined, and by the war’s end the number of cavalry troops had dropped sharply.

The war revealed the growing dependence of the art of war on economics and politics. The scale of operations, the extent of the front of attack, and the depth and rate of advance increased. With the establishment of continuous fronts,combat operations became static. The frontal blow, the success of which determined the outcome of an operation, became very important. During World War I the problem of the tactical breakthrough of a front was solved, but the problem of developing a breakthrough into an operational success remained unsolved. New means of fighting complicated the tactics of the combat arms. At the beginning of the war the infantry conducted offensives in skirmish lines and later, in waves of lines and combat teams (squads). Combined arms combat was based on cooperation between old and new combat arms—the infantry, the artillery, tanks, and aviation. Control of troops became more complex. The role of logistics and supplies increased significantly. Rail and motor-vehicle transport became very important.

The types and classes of naval ships were refined, and there was an increase in the proportion of light forces (cruisers, destroyers, patrol vessels and patrol boats, and submarines). Shipboard artillery, mines, torpedoes, and naval aviation were used extensively. The chief forms of military operations at sea were the blockade; cruiser, submarine, and mine warfare; landings and raids; and engagements and battles between line forces and light forces. The experience of World War I greatly influenced the development of military thinking and the organization and combat training of all combat arms (forces) until World War II (1939–45).

The war brought unprecedented deprivation and human suffering and widespread hunger and devastation. It brought mankind “to the brink of a precipice, to the brink of the destruction of civilization, of brutalization” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 31, p.182). Valuables worth 58 billion rubles were destroyed during the war. Entire regions, especially in northern France, were turned into wastelands.

Casualties amounted to 9.5 million killed and dead of wounds and 20 million wounded, of whom 3.5 million were permanently crippled. The heaviest losses (66.6 percent of the total) were suffered by Germany, Russia, France, and Austria-Hungary. The USA sustained only 1.2 percent of the total losses. Many civilians were killed by the various means of combat. (There are no overall figures for combat-related civilian casualties.) Hunger and other privations caused by the war led to a rise in the mortality rate and a drop in the birthrate. The population loss from these factors was more than 20 million in the 12 belligerent states alone, including 5 million in Russia, 4.4 million in Austria-Hungary, and 4.2 million in Germany. Unemployment, inflation, tax increases, and rising prices worsened the poverty and extreme deprivation of the large majority of the population of the capitalist countries.

Only the capitalists gained any advantages from the war. By the beginning of 1918, the war profits of the German monopolies totaled at least 10 billion gold marks. The capital of the German finance magnate Stinnes increased by a factor of ten, and the net profits of the “cannon king” Krupp, by a factor of almost six. Monopolies in France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan made large profits, but the American monopolies made the most on the war—between 1914 and 1918, $3 billion in profits. “The American multimillionaires profited more than all the rest. They have converted all, even the richest, countries into their tributaries. And every dollar is stained with blood—from that ocean of blood that has been shed by the 10 million killed and 20 million maimed” (Lenin, ibid., vol. 37, p. 50). The profits of the monopolies continued to grow after the war.

The ruling classes placed the entire burden of the economic consequences of the war on the toiling people. World War I led to an aggravation of the class struggle and accelerated the ripening of the objective prerequisites for the Great October Socialist Revolution, which opened a new epoch in world history—the epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism. The example of Russia’s toiling people, who threw off the oppression of the capitalists and landlords, showed other peoples the way to liberation. A wave of revolutionary actions swept over many countries, shaking the foundations of the world capitalist system. The national liberation movement became active in the colonial and dependent countries. “World War I and the October Revolution marked the beginning of the general crisis of capitalism” (Programma KPSS, 1974, p. 25). Politically, this was the chief result of the war.

SOURCES

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Zaionchkovskii, A. M. Podgotovka Rossii k imperialisticheskoi voine: Ocherki voennoi podgotovki i pervonachal’nykh planov. Moscow, 1926.
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Poletika, N. P. Vozniknovenie pervoi mirovoi voiny (iiul’skii krizis 1914). Moscow, 1964.
Fay, S. Proiskhozhdenie mirovoi voiny, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1934. (Translated from English.)
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I. I. ROSTUNOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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ICMLPO (Unity and Struggle): Final Resolution of the 19th Plenary of the ICMLPO

In the Middle of the World, in an atmosphere of internationalist comradeship and solidarity, the members of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO) met to share and discuss analysis and experiences. We arrived at resolutions that will contribute to the fulfillment of the historical role of the Marxist-Leninists, the revolutionaries, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist fighters, working class, oppressed peoples and youth.

On the International Situation

The Fundamental Contradictions of the Epoch Are Sharpening.

The international economic crisis that exists in some countries, particularly in Western Europe, and the economic decline of others are the clearest demonstration that the fundamental contradictions are sharpening: between capital and labor, between imperialism and the oppressed peoples and nations, between the imperialist powers and monopolies. It is a cyclic crisis that is developing on top of the worsening of the general crisis of capitalism that began a century ago.

The ideological and political struggle between the proletarian revolutionaries who are fighting for socialism, and reaction, liberalism and opportunism that are defending capitalism and imperialism is also deepening.

The imperialist countries are heading the economic decline, in the first place the United States, which has a zero industrial growth. In Japan there are further declines in the economy. Several countries of the European Union are facing a recession that is striking particularly Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland and is threatening France, Belgium and others.

The bourgeois economists themselves are saying that these countries will take many years to return to pre-2008 levels and start the recovery process.

The economies called engines of growth of capitalism, China, India and Russia are in a process of economic slowdown; this situation is accentuated in Brazil, which is declining steadily.

The dependent countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia are suffering the impact of the crisis on a smaller scale, due to the high prices of raw materials, natural resources and agricultural products; they are showing an uneven growth.

The monopoly groups, the imperialist countries, the local bourgeoisies and their governments are shifting the burden of the crisis onto the working masses, the peoples and the youth.

In all countries of the world, we see the increased exploitation of the working class under the pretext of increased competitiveness; in Europe there are massive layoffs of workers, reduced wages through blackmail, etc., an increase in job precariousness and labor flexibility under different names for the sake of maximum monopoly profit.

The migrants around the world are victims of this policy, and moreover they face discrimination, xenophobia and racism; they are placed as enemies of native-born workers who blame them for rising unemployment; they are a cheap labor force used by the capitalists for their greater accumulation.

In the countryside the conditions of life and work are worsening as a result of the pricing policy, of the free trade agreements that benefit the agribusiness monopolies. The agricultural businesses are developing hand in hand with the growing monopolization of the land, of the agricultural production and of the commercialization based on the super-exploitation of the workers in the countryside and the imperialist dependency imposed on the majority of the countries.

The youth is affected by the restriction of public education, converting schools into producers of cheap labor power in the service of capital; huge masses of young people, including university graduates, are joining the millions of unemployed.

While the large financial and industrial monopolies are still being fed by public funds, the social budgets, the money intended for public health, education, housing, social security, etc. are being diminished and cut back drastically; the years needed for retirement have been increased and in some countries the decision has been made to lower wages and increase the working day.

The crisis is of such a magnitude that imperialism and the governments are implementing increasingly brutal, aggressive, exploitative and repressive policies against the working and popular masses.

The Policies of Capital Are Becoming More Authoritarian and Repressive

Along with the economic crisis there is the political crisis of the bourgeoisie, expressed in the discrediting of the institutions, of politics in general, of bourgeois democracy and the political parties in particular.

One example of this reality is the high rate of abstention in elections in many countries, the loss of confidence in the traditional political parties of the bourgeoisie, including the reformist and social-democratic parties. In several countries this situation is leading to disenchantment, to the dissatisfaction of the masses, to the search for alternatives of change that are being covered by bourgeois options using the terms left, “democratic socialism” and “21st century socialism.” This also makes way for new reactionary forces, in some cases fascists, fundamentalists and populists that are demagogically presented as an alternative of change for the peoples.

Besides the loss of credibility of the national bourgeois institutions should be added the loss of prestige of the international agencies of capitalism and globalization such as the IMF, WTO, NATO, EU, UN, etc.

The masses have not advanced to the point where they can fully distinguish the parties that represent their interests. This is mainly due to the influence of reactionary ideas, to the ideological offensive of imperialism and the bourgeoisies so that they lose interest in the struggle for power and take up non-partyism, by which the ruling groups can continue to manipulate the masses and the power. It is also due to the presence and activity of different forms of opportunism and revisionism, and, of course, to the weakness and limitations of the revolutionary left.

Another manifestation of this trend is the involution of the so-called progressive governments, particularly in Latin America, which have shown their ideological and political limitations and in their capacity as administrators of the crisis they take measures that affect the people and criminalize social protest. In some cases they use the name of the left, of the revolution and of socialism to push forward their project of capitalist modernization.

In general, we are experiencing a process of growing authoritarianism, of the development of state terrorism in the exercise of bourgeois power, the denial of national sovereignty and the right to self-determination of the peoples, the restriction of civil and democratic liberties, the criminalization of social and popular struggle and the gradual abolition of the rights and freedoms of the people won through years of struggle.

The Struggle for a New Redivision of the World Is Sharpening

The inability of imperialism to resolve its crisis, the huge sacrifices of the peoples, of the working masses, forces it to seek other forms of solution. One of these is the preparation of new imperialist wars, the significant increase in the budgets for military spending, the occupation troops in the countries rich in natural resources and located in geostrategic areas such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Congo, Mali, etc. These are pushing forward new military aggressions.

This situation is particularly evident in Africa, a continent with vast natural and agricultural resources that imperialism is using to refine the technology and in order to try to get out of its crisis, and in the Middle East for the control and exploitation of the energy resources.

In these regions of the world the contradictions and rivalries between the imperialist powers and monopolies are evident. They show the tendency to a greater polarization between the United States and the European Union on the one hand and China on the other; Russia is joining the fight for its own interests, while the BRICS is projected as a new bloc for world domination.

In Syria a political and military conflict has been developing that involves the entire population, it has led to a reactionary civil war that is the pretext for imperialist and Zionist intervention. The weight of international public opinion, the particular interests of the various imperialist countries, the denunciation by democratic sectors and even by several governments and individuals, among others, has momentarily halted this intervention. The U.S. was only able to get France, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to join in this war of aggression. We emphasize that in this conflict British imperialism does not support the U.S. after several years of being its unconditional ally.

At the same time this showed a more active role for Russia on the diplomatic and military level, which in fact turned it, together with the U.S., into the arbiters of the conflict in Syria, ignoring the peoples and workers who will have to subordinate themselves to the plans of the foreign forces. The principle of self-determination of the peoples is once again being mocked and trampled upon by the imperialist countries.

The economic crisis, the super-exploitation of the working masses, as well as the politics of imperialist war and plunder is greatly increasing the forced and massive migration of millions of human beings who leave their country fleeing war, violence and misery and are looking for a better future. In this effort they are finding the borders closed, hundreds die in the crossing and, if they succeed in reaching their destination they are the object of the most cruel oppression and exploitation; they are abused and mistreated by the very imperialist powers who have caused the ruin of their countries.

The events in Syria, other events in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the expansion of the Chinese economy are sharpening the inter-imperialist contradictions. China is gaining ground by an aggressive export policy, by important investments in the dependent countries, by holding U.S. Treasury bonds (it has become the largest creditor of the U.S.); moreover it is working to enhance its military apparatus.

It is no accident that the United States has made a priority of the Asian region as a strategic area in which it is concentrating its military force to maintain its position of supremacy.

The Response of the Workers, Peoples and Youth Is Growing Significantly

Imperialism and the bourgeoisie are placing the burden of the crisis onto the shoulders of the workers, peoples and youths in all countries, both imperialist and dependent.

But these people are not remaining passive; they are developing their struggle and organization. In this regard there stand out the continuing and important battles of the working class and youth in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, Tunisia, Portugal, China, Bangladesh, Colombia, Chile, Greece and Spain, among others.

The anti-system actions of broad sections of the youth and the middle strata in various regions are joining the struggle of the workers, struggles that have gone beyond economic demands.

In recent months there have been gigantic waves of the masses who have accelerated and protested against the establishment; although they do not have a revolutionary direction they open the perspective of a new situation, they encourage the progressive and revolutionary forces.

In short, in all countries, the peoples are showing their discontent, they are protesting and looking for a way that leads to the solution of their serious problems.

An important struggle of the workers, peoples and youth against dictatorships and tyranny has taken shape in North Africa and the Middle East; in Tunisia and Egypt the struggle of resistance against imperialism and reaction is growing despite all the resources used to try to placate the struggles and divert them from their revolutionary path. Forms of this reactionary process are the utilization of Islamic fundamentalists, as well as coups and direct military interventions.

The ICMLPO is part of the workers and peoples who are fighting for their rights, for their social and national liberation. We are taking up our obligation to be where the battles are waged; we support them so that they may head towards their final objective. In particular we support the struggle waged by the people of Tunisia, by our fraternal party and the Popular Front to achieve the objectives of the revolution and people’s power.

The Tasks of the Communists in the Present Situation

In these stormy waters of the class struggle, it is up to us to develop policies and tasks that respond to the following questions: What is the social force that is able to defeat imperialism, the bourgeoisie and reaction? Who should lead the large and small waves of struggle? What kind of society do the workers need to replace this dying system?

To provide an answer to these questions it is necessary to consolidate, develop and build the Communist Party as the vanguard party of the working class, which is deeply and permanently engaged in the crucible of the struggle of the masses, in all cases, whether organized or spontaneous; we must work to unify these struggles and direct them towards the social revolution.

We intend to strengthen the mobilization and organization of the exploited and oppressed masses in all areas, using all forms of struggle and organization that correspond to the concrete situations.

It is of fundamental importance to foster the unity of the working class and the peasantry, as well as of all sectors oppressed by capitalism and other pre-capitalist forms of exploitation, under the leadership of the working class and its Party. We emphasize the need to highlight the best efforts to clarify the question of the popular front as well as to push forward the work of building it in concrete conditions.

We must pay special attention to work with the youth, who are bursting out vigorously in the social and political fight, to work to give them a revolutionary direction, and to work among the working women and women from the popular strata who constitute more than half of humankind, who suffer the effects of layoffs, job insecurity, etc. and have a great revolutionary potential.

In the discussion on the work with working women and women from the popular strata there we emphasize the need to build a broad movement of democratic, anti-imperialist and revolutionary women with its own objectives.

At this time our efforts are directed to organizing and strengthening popular fronts as a necessary tool to link and mobilize the broad masses against the plans of imperialism and reaction. Fronts and coalitions that will form around a programmatic unity that defends the interests of the working class, the working masses and the peoples.

The lessons of Marxism-Leninism and the practice of our parties teach us that we must fight to the end against all manifestations of sectarianism, of deviations from the right or left, maintaining firmness in principles and flexibility in tactics.

To fulfill the tasks it is necessary to fight ideologically and politically against imperialism and the bourgeoisie, as well as against the positions and practices of the collaborators and conciliators, which affect the workers and people by revisionism, opportunism, reformism and other forms that confuse and divert them from the goal of the social revolution as well as of the popular democratic revolutions.

We must organize a major offensive on what the left, the social revolution, socialism and communism mean. We must widely disseminate the proposals that we communists have in different realities, confronting what capitalism and its representatives have done to the workers, especially today, when they are trying to eliminate a century of social and democratic gains.

In 2014 it will be 20 years since the ICMLPO launched its proclamation to the world, its commitment to forge the unity of the international communist movement, to contribute decisively to making Marxism-Leninism into a material force of the workers and peoples to defeat imperialism and capitalism and establish socialism and communism as a society of full freedom and prosperity for the peoples.

The ICMLPO is fulfilling its role with determination, with important results that are still insufficient. Today we reaffirm our revolutionary commitment to consolidating and broadening it to ensure an internationalist, revolutionary leadership for the struggles of the working class, the popular masses and the oppressed peoples of the world.

Ecuador, October 2013

James Connolly on Socialism and Nationalism

james-connolly

“If you remove the English army to-morrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. England would still rule you to your ruin, even while your lips offered hypocritical homage at the shrine of that Freedom whose cause you had betrayed. Nationalism without Socialism – without a reorganisation of society on the basis of a broader and more developed form of that common property which underlay the social structure of Ancient Erin – is only national recreancy.”

 – James Connolly, “Socialism and Nationalism,” quoted in Shan Van Vocht newspaper in 1897.

Bill Bland: The National Question in Britain

UK-2005

By W.B.Bland (“Communist League”, London UK)
for The National Committee for Marxist-Leninist Unity (Britain).

Introduction

Geographically, the British Isles consists of two main islands: Great Britain and Ireland.

Great-Britain consists of three communities: those of England, Wales and Scotland.

There is general agreement among those who regard themselves as Marxist-Leninists that the people of Ireland constitute a nation, a nation distinct from the nation (or nations) occupying the island of Great Britain. Politically, however, Ireland is divided into two separate states; the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is nominally independent, but is in reality dominated by British imperialism, is a neo-colony of British imperialism. Northern-Ireland is politically a part of ‘the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, is a colony of British imperialism. Progressive people support the unification and the right to self-determination, to independence, of Ireland.

This article is concerned with two questions:

1) whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England constitute separate-nations, or whether they form part of a single British nation; and

2) whether separate Marxist-Leninist Parties should be formed in Scotland, Wales and England, or whether there should be a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.

The Definition of a Nation

The English word ‘nation’ is derived from the Latin ‘natio’, originally meaning:

” birth, hence a creature’s entire offspring at one time, hence a clan’s offspring, hence a people’s, hence that people itself”.

(Eric Partridge: ‘Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English’; London; 1966; p. 428).

Marxist-Leninists define the term ‘nation’ as follows:

A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture”. 

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 307).

To constitute a nation, a community must possess all the above characteristics:

“It is sufficient for a single one of these characteristics to be lacking and the nation ceases to be a nation. . . . It is only when all these characteristics are present together that we have a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 307, 308).

Furthermore, a nation is a:

“. . . historical category belonging to a definite epoch, the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism is at the same time a process of the constitution of people into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 313).

In order to determine, therefore, whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England constitute separate nations, it is necessary to determine whether each of these communities possesses all the characteristics listed by Stalin. If it does not, it is not a nation.

Firstly,

” a common-language is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 304).

Clearly, the people of England possess a common language — English. The minority languages which once existed in England — Manx and Cornish — have long been extinct. Manx is a Celtic language:

“formerly spoken on the Isle of Man but now extinct”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1994; p. 802)

while Cornish is a Celtic language:

” . . formerly spoken in Cornwall, in south-western Britain; it became extinct in the 18th or early 19th century as a result of displacement by English”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1994; p. 640).

The people of Wales, for the most part, also speak a common language. But this is not Welsh, a Celtic language which is spoken by only a small and declining minority of the population, mainly in the rural areas. According to official figures, the proportion of the population of Wales and Monmouthshire speaking only Welsh has declined from 508 thousand (28.6%) in 1891 to 26 thousand (1.0%) in 1961.

(‘Census of England and Wales: 1891, Volume 4: General Record’; London; 1893′ p. 82; ‘Census 1961: Wales (including Monmouthshire): Report on Welsh Speaking Population)’; London; 1962; p. viii; Charlotte A. Davies: ‘Welsh Nationalism in the 20th Century: The Ethnic Option and the British State’; New York; 1989; p. 39).

The people of Scotland, for the most part, also speak a common language. But this is not Scottish Gaelic (Erse), which is spoken only by a small and declining minority of the population, mainly

“. . . along the north-west coast of Scotland and in the Hebrides islands”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’. Volume 10; Chicago; 1994; p. 566)

According to official figures, the proportion of the population of Scotland speaking only Gaelic has declined from 44 thousand (1.1%) in 1891 to 1 thousand (0.02%) in 1961. (‘Census of Scotland: 1891’, Volume 1: London; 1892; p. xxi; ‘Statesman’s Year Book: 1998-1999’; London: 1998; p. 1,411;

Charles W. J. Withers: ‘Gaelic in Scotland: 1698-1981: The Geographical History of a Language’; Edinburgh; 1984; p. 239).

Furthermore,

” . . many of those recorded as monoglots were old women”.

(Charles W. J. Withers: ibid.; p. 238).

Thus, the common language of the people of Scotland is, for the most part, English.

Secondly,

“. . . a common territory is one of the characteristic features of a nation.”

(Josef V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 305).

Clearly, the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England each have a common territory. The people of Britain — that is, of Scotland, Wales and England combined — also possess a common territory.

Thirdly,

“. . . a common economic life, economic cohesion, is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 306.)

As Stalin makes clear, a community possesses ‘economic cohesion’ when its economic life is welded together by well-established physical ties (means of communication, division of labour, financial bonds, etc.) so as to form a single economic whole which, if it does not exist at a particular moment in the form of a separate state, is capable of such separate existence without significant disruption of its economic life.

If, on the other hand, one community is welded to another by well established physical ties, which date back to the rise of capitalist society or beyond, so that they form in combination a single economic whole and their separation would cause significant disruption to the economic life of both, then neither of these communities considered separately possesses economic cohesion.

Scotland, Wales and England have been welded together for many centuries. As early as the 12-13th centuries:

“Edward I of England established authority over Wales”,

(‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p. 1.126).

and the ‘Statute of Wales’ of 1284:

“.. . annexed Wales to the crown of England”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 126).

Then, following the victory of the Welsh noble Henry Tudor (who became Henry VII of England) over Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485, Wales was finally

“. . . politically united with England at the Act of Union, 1535”.

(‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p. 1.126).

In the case of Scotland, James VI of Scotland was the great-great-grandson of Henry VII of England and the legitimate successor of Elizabeth I:

“On Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he was recognised as the rightful king of England. Thus the Crowns of England and Scotland were united”.

(‘Encylopaedia Amercana’, Volume 24; New York; 1977; p. 419).

The formal union of the two kingdoms of Scotland and England

” . . . was achieved in 1707..”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 116).

by the ‘Treaty of Union’ of that year.

London is the financial, communications and cultural centre of Britain. There is a common market throughout Britain -the same branded goods are on sale in branches of the same multiple stores in Inverness, Swansea and Manchester. Scottish, Welsh and English capital is inseparably blended into British capital. There is no ‘English monopoly capital’, no ‘English imperialism’; there is British monopoly capitalism, British imperialism. The separation of Scotland, Wales and England would cause great disruption of the economic life of all three communities, as a result of these long-standing physical ties. Thus, Scotland, England and Wales taken separately do not possess economic cohesion, and so are not nations. Britain, however, does possess economic cohesion.

Fourthly,

“. . .a common psychological make-up, which manifests itself in a common culture, is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 307).

Clearly, Britain has, for the most part, a common culture. There are, it is true, immigrants to Britain who have brought with them aspects of other national cultures. In Scotland and Wales, too, cultural elements exist which appear to be distinctively ‘national’ in character. In the case of Scotland, one thinks of Highland dress, of the bagpipes and of such Highland sports as tossing the caber. In the case of Wales, one thinks of the harp and the Eisteddfodds. It must be noted, however, that these ‘national’ elements in the cultures of Scotland and Wales are of significance mainly in the rural areas, and that they are survivals from the past which are declining in importance in relation to the culture of Scotland and Wales as a whole.

For the most part, therefore, Britain has a common culture.

To sum up: the communities of Scotland, Wales and England do not possess all the essential characteristics which go to make up nations, and so do not constitute separate nations. The community of Britain, however, does possess all the essential characteristics which go to make up a nation. Despite, therefore, the existence of declining survivals of pre-national languages and cultures in Scotland and Wales, Britain constitutes a nation, a single nation.

That Britain constitutes a single nation is not only a logical deduction from Stalin’s general principles on the nation, it is Stalin’s explicit view:

“The British, French, Germans, Italians and others were formed into nations at the time of the victorious advance of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity.

But the formation of nations in those instances at the same time signified their conversion into independent national states. The British, French and other nations are at the same time British, etc., states. Ireland . . . did not participate in this process”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 2; Moscow; 1952; p. 313-14).

“The British, French, Germans and Italians were formed into nations at the time of the victorious development of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 16).

“In the West — in Britain, France, Italy and, partly, Germany — the period of the liquidation of feudalism and the constitution of people into nations coincided, on the whole, with the period in which centralised states appeared”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question, 10th Congress of the RCP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 33).

“Hence the necessity for a stubborn, continuous and determined struggle against the dominant-nation chauvinism of the ‘Socialists’ of the ruling nations (Britain, France, America, Italy, Japan, etc.”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 152).

“Such nations must be qualified as bourgeois nations. Examples are the French, British, Italian, . . . American and other similar nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 353).

A ‘Black Nation’-within Britain?

In October 1979, a meeting in London called with the aim of setting up an Afro-Asian-Caribbean organisation in Britain adopted a resolution which declared:

“We now virtually face a two nation situation in Britain, one comprising the majority (i.e., indigenous whites), and the other a loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa…These negative and hostile political activities have forced the predictable separate ‘National’ identity among our people”.

(Resolution of Meeting called to form an Afro-Asian-Caribbean Organisation, in: Harpal Brar: ‘Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?’; Southall; 1998; p.73).

Basing himself on the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of the national question put forward by Stalin, Brar correctly writes off the concept of separate ‘black and white nations’ in Britain:

“If we apply Stalin’s rigorously scientific definition to that ‘loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa’, to wit, the black population of Britain, can we say that this ‘loose conglomeration’ constitutes one nation and that another nation is constituted by ‘the majority, i.e., the indigenous whites’? Most emphatically we cannot.

What common language do the black people of Britain speak? We find that either they do not speak a common language at all, for some speak Bengali, others speak Punjabi, yet others Hindi, others still Arabic and a multitude of other Asian and African languages; or, to the extent that they speak a common language, this is none other than the English language, the language they share with the majority, i.e., ‘the indigenous whites’, if you please. Thus it can be seen that if the community of language is one of the characteristics of a nation, this characteristic is either found wanting among the blacks of Britain or it is a characteristic which they share with the whites.

Take the question of territory. What common territory do the black people in Britain inhabit? It is clear that they do not. They are spread throughout the British Isles. . . . To the extent that they . . . inhabit a common territory, they are obliged no less to share this common territory with the ‘indigenous whites’ as well. So, once again, we find that the attempts of our esteemed gentry to conjure up two nations out of a figment of their own imagination smash their heads against the stone walls of mistress reality.

Is there an internal economic bond which welds the various components of the black population in Britain into a single national whole as distinct from the internal economic bond which welds all the people? . . . Is there, in other words, a community of economic life, of economic cohesion, specific to black people? Once again, to the misfortune of the authors of the resolution, we have to answer this question in the negative.

And when we come to the question of the ‘specific spiritual complexion’, the ‘peculiarities of national culture’, and the psychological make-up of what the authors, in a truly Freudian slip, correctly describe as ‘the loose conglomeration’, matters are wonderfully chaotic.

After all this, what is left of the . . . ‘nation’ constituted by a ‘loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa’? Nothing but the blackness of their skin, which is not . . . a characteristic of a nation . . . From this it is not difficult to see how senseless, platitudinous, ignorant and futile are the attempts of this gentry artificially to constitute two nations in this country – one black and one white. . . .

Thus it is clear that the black population of Britain does not constitute a separate nation”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 76-77, 79).

Assimilation is:

“. . . socio-cultural fusion, wherein individuals and groups of differing ethnic heritage acquire the basic habits, attitudes and mode of life of an embracing national culture”.

(‘Webster’s Third International Dictionary of the English Language’; London; 1961; p. 132).

and, in the course of time, the black population of Britain will, like other immigrants of the past, be assimilated into the British nation:

“Despite the obstacles of racial discrimination, and overcoming these obstacles, the black population is sooner or later bound to be assimilated and form part of the British nation, in exactly the same way as the assimilation of earlier migrants took place. . . . Black people, far from constituting a separate nation, are bound to be absorbed into the British nation”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; p. 79).

Of course, this assimilation is not a one-way process:

“The black people . . ., while being assimilated over many generations, are bound to impart variety and richness to the British culture. . . . British culture (as indeed other cultures) has undergone and is constantly undergoing transformation while still remaining British. . . . Take just one example: the British diet. Engels already in the 19th century noted it had become spicy as a result of Britain’s trading position and it has become spicier still since the arrival of black workers in Britain. . . . This, however, is only a trivial example. The most important contribution of black people is to the development of British democratic and working-class culture through their struggle against racial and national oppression, and through their struggle against exploitation and their support for proletarian and liberation movements all over the world”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 84).

Wherever one finds black separatism, Brar notes,

“One can be sure of the presence of a white liberal lurking around the corner to give a helping hand to his disadvantaged black brother. So it is in this case. The high priests of black separatism . . . receive, not unexpectedly, full support for their bourgeois, divisive and anti-proletarian madness from . . . the liberal bourgeois Ken Livingstone”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 43).

For example, writing in the ‘Morning Star’, the newspaper of the revisionist ‘Communist Party of Britain’, of 12 August 1993, Livingstone refers to:

“the rise of racism and the extreme right in Europe today”,

(Ken Livingstone: ‘Strength in the United Fight’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 12 August 1993; p. 5).

and writes:

“The fight against these twin evils must be led by the black and other minority communities who are the target of racist attacks. . . .Because black and minority communities are the first target of racists and fascists, these communities must have the leading role in the antiracist and anti-fascist movement”.

(Ken Livingstone: ibid.; p. 5).

Thus, according to Livingstone, the struggle against racism must be led, not necessarily by the best anti-racists, but by black people whether or not they are, as individuals, the best people to do this. As Brar correctly points out, under the programme of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) and Livingstone, white people can join the struggle against racism only:

‘ . . . as mere auxiliaries”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; p. 4).

This, despite being euphemistically called ‘black self-organisation’, is in fact, racial discrimination, is, ultimately, racial separatism. Writing in the ‘Morning Star’ of 7 February 1994, Bennie Bunsee makes this clear when he says:

“The situation is intensified as black people, in their pilgrimage toward black liberation, realise that every aspect of their oppression . . . leads them to assert their national identity and historical personality, based upon their own history, language, culture and civilisation, as they try to break away from the clutches of Western influence”.

(Bennie Bunsee: ‘Taking Hold of the Reins’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 14 February 1994; p. 6).

Bunsee concludes another article in the ‘Morning Star’ of 16 August 1993, with separatist sentiments which could well have emanated from the fascist British National Party:

“Allied to this demand of black people is the rejection of concepts like ‘integration’ and multiracialism or multiculturalism “.

(Bennie Bunsee: ‘A Right to Self-Organisation’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 16 August 1993; p. 7).

Brar justly comments:

“Ever since the founding of the ARA, the ‘Morning Star’ has’ provided every facility to the leaders of the ARA to help them propagate their reactionary, divisive ideology of black separatism”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; P. 28).

and correctly notes that

“. . . the struggle against racism requires the joint efforts of the entire proletariat, without distinction . . . . The ARA have set their face against this, the only correct way of fighting racism”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 11).

The Development of Nations

A nation,

“. . . like every historical phenomenon, is subject to the law of change, has its history, its beginning and end”.

(Josef V.Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Marxism; 1953; p. 307).

In fact, nations are a product of the development of capitalist society:

“Modern nations are a product of a definite epoch — the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism is at the same time a process of the constitution of people into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: “The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 16).

Nations did not exist prior to the development of capitalist society:

“How could nations have arisen and existed before capitalism, in the period of feudalism, when countries were split up into separate, independent principalities which, far from being bound together by national ties, emphatically denied the necessity for such ties? . . . There were no nations in the pre-capitalist period, nor could there be, because there were as yet no national markets and no economic or cultural national centres and, consequently, there were none of the factors which put an end to the economic disunity of a given people and draw its hitherto disunited parts into one national whole”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

The development of communities to nationhood goes through three fundamental stages:

firstly, that of the tribe;

secondly, that of the pre-nation or nationality;

and thirdly, that of the nation.

The English word ‘tribe’ is derived from the Latin ‘tribus’, tribe. and has the meaning of

“A group of persons forming a community and claiming descent from a common ancestor’.”

(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 18; Oxford; 1989; p. 503).

It is the typical form of community under primitive communism and, as has been said, is based upon kinship.

With the development of tools and techniques, classes appear and primitive communism gives way to slavery and then to feudalism:

“In conformity with the change and development of the productive forces of society in the course of history, men’s relations of production, their economic relations, also changed and developed.

Five main types of relations of production are known to history: Primitive communal, slave, feudal, capitalist and Socialist”.

(‘History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: Short course Moscow’; 1939; p. 123).

As the tribal community disintegrates, tribes come together into federations and kingdoms; a common language, based on one of the tribal languages, appears; a common psychology and a common culture emerge. This process leads to the eventual development of a new type of community: the pre-nation or nationality — a community based no longer on kinship, but on geographical location. A pre-nation has a common territory, a common language, and a common culture; it does not, however, possess economic cohesion. A pre-nation is the typical form of community under slavery and feudalism.

“Of course, the elements of nationhood . . . did not fall from the skies, but were being formed gradually, even in the pre-capitalist period. But these elements were in a rudimentary state and, at best, were only a potentiality, that is, they constituted the possibility of the formation of a nation in the future, given certain favourable conditions. The potentiality became a reality only in the period of rising capitalism, with its national market and its economic and cultural centres”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

With the development of capitalism within the framework of feudal society, the development of pre-national characteristics was accelerated, and alongside this the process of establishing economic cohesion throughout the territory of the pre-nation. This latter process transforms the pre-nation into a nation:

“With the appearance of capitalism, the elimination of feudal division and the formation of national markets, nationalities developed into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Marxism and Linguistics’, in: ‘Selected Works’: Tirana; 1979; p. 511).

As Stalin said, the development of a pre-nation into a nation is not inevitably completed. It is completed only:

” . . . given certain favourable conditions”.

(Josef V. Stalin:- ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

When, for example, two or more pre-nations are in course of development on adjacent territories, their development towards separate nationhood may be arrested at a certain stage and give way to fusion, to their merging into a single nation. This single nation will have the language and culture of one of the pre-nations participating in this fusion, and the languages and cultures of the other pre-nations participating in the fusion will gradually disappear:

“Linguistic crossing cannot be regarded as the single impact of a decisive blow which produces its results within a few years. Linguistic crossing is a prolonged process which continues for hundreds of years. . . . .

Further, it would be quite wrong to think that the crossing of, say, two languages results in a new, third language. . . . As a matter of fact, one of the languages usually emerges victorious from the cross, retains its grammatical system and its basic word stock, and continues to develop in accordance with its inherent laws of development, while the other language gradually loses its quality and gradually dies away”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Marxism in Linguistics’, in: ‘Selected Works’; Tirana; 1979; p. 523).

As will be shown, this has been the pattern of development, of the British nation, which has evolved from the fusion of several pre-nations – principally those of Scotland, England annd Wales.

The Development of the British Nation

For geographical and ethnical reasons, the development of pre-nations in the British Isles took place principally in six distinct regions: in the Isle of Man, in Cornwall, in Scotland, in Wales, in England generally and in Ireland.

The Development of the Manx Pre-nation

The Manx pre-nation developed in the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, and:

“. . . became attached to Norway in the 9th century. In 1266 it was ceded to Scotland, but it came under English control in 1406 when possession was granted to the Stanley family (the Earls of Derby) and was later purchased by the British”.

(‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-99’; London; 1999; p. 1,482).

The Manx language was:

“. a member of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802).

The Manx pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but was absorbed. into the English pre-nation and, later, in the 19th century, into the British nation. The Manx language:

” . . . was displaced by English”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia-Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802). 

and is:

“. . . now extinct”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802).

The Development of the Cornish Pre-nation

The Cornish pre-nation developed in the extreme south-west of the English mainland, in Cornwall.

After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066:

“the indigenous manors of Cornwall were taken over to form the basis of an earldom”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

and in 1337, the Duchy of Cornwall:

“. . . was created by royal charter by Edward III for his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

Since then:

“the monarch’s first-begotten son at the time of his birth”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

has been created Duke of Cornwall.

The Cornish pre-nation did not complete its development into nationhood, but merged into the English pre-nation and, later, in the 18th century, into the British nation. Since then, Cornish:

“has not been spoken as a living language”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

The Development of the Scottish Pre-nation

By the middle of the 9th century, the tribal kingdoms of the Scottish mainland had been united into:

“A largely Celtic monarchy”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

Then, in the 13th century, England

“. . . attempted to impose direct English rule over Scotland”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

but in the 14th century was forced to recognise:

“Robert Bruce . . . as King Robert I of Scotland’.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

The Shetland and Orkney Islands, north of the mainland of Scotland, were from the 9th century:

“. . . ruled by Norway and Denmark”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 8; Chicago; 1998 p. 1,001).

but in the 15th century became part of the Scottish pre-nation when they:

“. . . passed into Scottish rule . . . in compensation for the nonpayment of the dowry of Margaret of Denmark, queen of James III”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 8; Chicago; 1998 p. 1,001).

The Scottish pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but merged with the developing English pre-nation.

The Development of the Welsh Pre-nation

The Welsh pre-nation had, by the 13th century, developed to the point where the old tribal kingdoms had been united under Llewellyn ap Grufydd, who:

“. . . proclaimed himself Prince of Wales and received the homage of the other Welsh princes.”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998 p. 427).

In the 16th century:

“Wales was incorporated within the realm of England”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 12; Chicago; 1998 p. 461).

and its native culture underwent:

” . . . progressive Anglicisation”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 12; Chicago; 1998 p. 461).

so that the Welsh pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but merged with the English pre-nation and, later, into the British nation.

The Formation of the English Pre-Nation

By the 10th century, the English pre-nation had developed to the point where the West Saxon king, Athelstan, had become:

“. . . the first king to have direct rule of all England”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1998 p. 29).

The development of the English pre-nation was interrupted in the 11th century by the Norman Conquest. The feudal system introduced into England by the Normans differed fundamentally from that on the European Continent in that its estates consisted of:

” . . . manors scattered through a number of shires”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1998 p. 31).

thus making the lords much weaker relative to the central (royal) state power. This contributed greatly to the early rise of capitalism in England.

The civil war which broke out in Britain in the 17th century:

“. . . was a class struggle, was revolutionary and was progressive. . . .The bourgeoisie of the 17th Century. . . . just because they were the historically progressive class of their time, . . . could not but fight for their own rights and liberties without also fighting for the rights and liberties of all Englishmen and of humanity as a whole”.

A.L. Morton: ‘A People’s History of England’; London; 1979; p. 229).

The Fusion of the Welsh and English Pre-nations

In 1276, Edward I of England:

“invaded Wales and subjugated Llewellyn in 1276-77”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998 p. 427).

In 1485, Henry Tudor, the grandson:

” . . . of Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire”,

defeated and killed Richard III of England,

” . . . at the Battle of Bosworth. Claiming the throne by just title of inheritance and by judgment of God in battle, he was crowned on October 30″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 5; Chicago; 1998 p. 839).

As a result:

“. . . it was widely felt in Wales that at last a true Welshman by origins and upbringing ruled in London”.

(Graham Jones: ‘A Pocket Guide: The History of Wales’; Cardiff; 1990; p. 47).

And when Wales was:

“. . . politically united with England at the Act of Union, 1535”,

(‘Cambridge Encylopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p.1,126).

“. . . articulate Welshmen were fully convinced that the political incorporation of England and Wales . . . had been a conspicuous success story. . . . Affluent and educated Welshmen confidently declared that the assimilation of England and Wales had been a happy and gladsome marriage of equals”.

(Geraint H. Jenkins: ‘The Foundation of Modern Wales: 1642-1780’; Oxford; 1993; p. 301).

The Fusion of the Scottish and English Pre-nations

James VI of Scotland was the:

” . . . great-great-grandson of Henry VII (of England — Ed.) and the legitimate successor of Eliizabeth I. . . . On Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he was recognised as the rightful king of England. Thus the crowns of England and Scotland were united”.

(‘Encylopedia Americana’, Volume 24; New York; 1977; p. 419).

Scotland and England:

” . . . remained separate kingdoms under a single monarch — except for the brief period during the English civil war when the monarchy was deposed — until 1707″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1993; p. 563).

The union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland was:

“. . . strategically as well as economically desirable. That union was achieved in 1707”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 116).

The Treaty of Union of 1707:

” . . . was the immediate product of the exclusion of developing Scottish mercantile interests from England’s expanding imperial trade”.

(Michael Keating & David Bleiman: ‘Labour and Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1979; p. 21).

Following this,

“. . . during the Victorian age, Scotland enjoyed a prosperity so great by comparison with that of the past that unionist sentiment seemed likely to destroy Scottish national self-conciousness altogether”.

(Harold J. Hanham: ‘Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1969; p. 11).

The Formation of the British Nation

The development of the Scottish pre-nation and of the Welsh pre-nation did not proceed to the formation of nations. It was interrupted in such a way that these pre-nations fused with the developing English pre-nation to form the British-nation.

The Development of the Irish Nation

The Irish pre-nation was developing across the Irish Sea, but had not had yet reached the point of the formation of a united kingdom when the forces of Henry II of England of England:

“invaded Ireland in 1171”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1998; p. 379).

and Henry:

” . . . proclaimed himself overlord of the entire island”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 379).

In January 1801, Ireland was politically united with Britain in:

“. . . the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 380).

Despite the continuing foreign oppression, capitalism — and with it, the Irish nation — continued to develop. By the 19th century, these developments had given rise to an Irish national movement:

“In the West, Ireland responded to its exceptional position by a national movement”,

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 315).

And:

” . . an Irish provisional government was proclaimed in 1916″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 380).

In order to defeat the Irish national movement, the government collaborated with the Protestant settlers in the north of the country (Ulster) to impose in 1920 partition of the country into two parts:

” . . Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, each to have its parliament and each to retain representatives in the British parliament”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ‘An Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern’; London; 1972; p. 984).

When the people in the south refused to accept this position, the British government:

“. . . granted (Southern — Ed.) Ireland Dominion status as the Irish Free-State (Northern Ireland retaining the right of keeping the existing arrangement”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 984).

In April 1949:

“. . . the REPUBLIC OF IRELAND was officially proclaimed in Dublin”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 1,177).

In the following month, the British government adopted legislation:

“. . . recognising the independence of the republic, but affirming the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 1,177).

Thus, Northern Ireland is, in fact, a colony of British imperialism, while the nominally independent Republic of Ireland, is in fact a British neo-colony.

Marxist-Leninists have always regarded British rule over Ireland (or any part of Ireland) as unacceptable colonial oppression and fought for the right of the Irish nation to self-determination:

“What shall we advise the English workers? In my opinion they must make the repeal of the Union’ (i.e., the separation of Ireland from Great Britain) . . . into an article of their pronunziamento“.

(Karl Marx: Letter to Friedrich Engels, 30 November 1867, in: Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 276).

“Marx, in proposing in the International a resolution of sympathy with the ‘Irish nation’ and the ‘Irish people’ preaches the separation of Ireland from Great Britain”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 279).

“It was precisely from the standpoint of the revolutionary struggle of the English workers that Marx in 1869 demanded the separation of Ireland from England”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ”The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 274).

Pseudo-Nationalism

Within Britain — excluding Northern Ireland — there are no national tasks to be accomplished:

“In those advanced countries (England (i.e., Britain — Ed.) , France, Germany, -etc.) the national problem has been solved for a long time; . objectively, there are no ‘national tasks’ to be fulfilled”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘A Caricature of Marxism and “Imperialist Economism”‘, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 295).

In:

“The advanced countries of Western Europe the bourgeois, progressive, national movements came to an end long ago”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 275).

But if the communities of Scotland, Wales and the black inhabitants of Britain are not nations, are not oppressed nations under the ‘foreign rule’ of the English, if there are no national tasks to be fulfilled within Britain, what is the real character of so-called Scottish, Welsh and black nationalism?

Clearly, they are spurious-nationalisms.

In a genuine struggle for national liberation, workers and national capitalists of the oppressed nations have a certain temporary, common interest. But Scottish, Welsh and black workers and capitalists have no such common interests. The political effect of this pseudo-nationalism is, therefore, to preach class-collaboration in circumstances which make such class collaboration the opportunist surrender of the interests of the working class to those of the capitalist class:

“From this it is not a far cry to ‘common ground for joint action’ on which the bourgeois and the proletarian must stand and join hands as members of the same ‘nation”‘.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1952; p. 38).

Marxist-Leninists understand that the cause of the special problems of Scottish, Welsh and black workers is the existence of British monopoly capital. Thus, the aim of British Marxist-Leninists is to lead a united British working class to overthrow the rule of British monopoly capital.

Political organisations which put forward the concepts of Scottish, Welsh or black ‘nationalism’ in Britain are objectively seeking to divert the working class from building class unity and from their real enemy, British monopoly capital, towards an imaginary enemy: ‘England’.

A Single Marxist-Leninist Party for-Britain?

The second question to be discussed in this article is: whether separate Marxist-Leninist Parties should be formed in Scotland, Wales and England, or whether there should be a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.

This second question is in no way dependent upon the first question already dealt with, namely, whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England form separate nations or whether they form parts of a single British nation.

This is because Marxist-Leninists have always held that there should be one — and only one — Marxist-Leninist Party for each state (.excluding any geographically separate colonies):

“Every party desiring to affilate to the Communist International must bear the name: Communist Party of such and such a country (Section of the Third, Communist International)”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: “The Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 10; London; 1946; p. 205).

The 2nd Congress of the Communist International adopted in July 1919 the following thesis on Party organisation:

“There shall be in each country only one single unified Communist Party”.

(2nd. Congress of the Comintern: ‘Theses on the Role of the Communist Party on the Proletarian Revolution’, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents;, Volume 1; London; 1971; p. 135).

Already in April 1917 Stalin had said:

“Experience has shown that the organisation of the proletarians of a given state on national lines tends only to destroy the idea of class solidarity. All the proletarians of a given state must be organised in a single, indivisible proletarian collective”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the National Question, 7th (April) Conference of the RSDLP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 58).

This principle applies equally in the case of multi-national states (states which include within their frontiers more than one nation) as in the case of states which embrace a single nation. Tsarist Russia, for instance, was a multi-national state, and Lenin and Stalin fought unreservedly for the principle of a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Russia:

“We want to draw together the proletarians of the different nations. What should we do? Split up the proletarians of all Russia into separate parties and you will achieve your aim!, answer the Federalist Social-Democrats. . . .

The Social-Democratic (i.e, Marxist-Leninist — Ed) Party which functions in Russia calls itself ‘Rossiiskaya’ (All-Russian — Ed.) and not ‘Russkaya’ (Russian — Ed).. Obviously, by this it wanted to convey to us that it will gather under its banner not only Russian proletarians, but the proletarians of all the nationalities in Russia, and, consequently, that it will do everything possible to break down the national barriers that have been raised to separate them”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 1; Moscow; 1952; p. 36, 41).

In accordance with this principle, Lenin and Stalin consistently expressed strong opposition to similar moves to establish separate Marxist-Leninist Parties in other multi-national states:

“The idea of national autonomy creates the psychological conditions for the division of the united workers’ party into separate parties built on national lines. Austria, the home of ‘national autonomy’, provides the most deplorable examples of this. As early as 1897 . . . the once united Austrian Social-Democratic Party began to break up unto separate parties. . . . There are now six national parties”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 342-43).

And, of course, once the principle of separate national Marxist-Leninist parties within a multi-national state is accepted, it becomes logical to work for the splitting of other organisations of the working class, such as the trade unions, into separate national bodies:

“The breakup of the party is followed by the breakup of the trade unions, and complete segregation is the result. In this way the united class movement is broken up into separate national rivulets”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 343).

The Marxist-Leninist principle on this question is thus quite clear:

There should be one — and only one Marxist-Leninist Party for each state
(excluding any colonies geographically separated from it). And this principle applies equally to multi-national states as to states which embrace a single nation.

As we have seen, Scotland, Wales and England are not separate states, but form part of the state of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. This state includes ‘Northern Ireland’, which is a British colony geographically separated from the mainland of Britain.

It follows that, according to Marxist-Leninist principles, there should be one — and only one — Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain, embracing Scotland, Wales and England.

Conclusions

According to Marxist-Leninist principles,

1) Scotland, Wales and England are not separate nations, but form part of a single British nation; and

2) there should not be separate Marxist-Leninist Parties for Scotland, Wales and England, but a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.


Author: W.B. Bland
The Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau
NCMLU


NOTE: The second part of this article, dealing with the question of devolution within Britain, was to be written later in 1999. To the knowledge of either the Communist League or the NCMLU – this task was never undertaken.

____________________________________________________________________

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