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About the text:

From: V.I. Lenin: On Imperialism and Opportunism, Futura 1974, 103 p., pp. 75-77.

(Full text)

Published in “Sotsial-Demokrat”
No. 56, November 6, 1916.

Huysmans, the Secretary of the International Social-Chauvinist Bureau, has sent a telegram of greetings to Danish Minister without portfolio Stauning, the leader of the Danish quasi-“Social-Democratic” Party. The telegram reads: “I learn from the newspapers that you have been appointed Minister. My heartiest congratulations. And so, we now have ten socialist Cabinet Ministers in the world. Things are moving. Best wishes.”

Things are indeed moving. The Second International is rapidly moving – towards complete merger with national-liberal politics. Quoting this telegram, the Chemnitz Volksstimme, militant organ of the extreme German opportunists and social-chauvinists, remarks, somewhat venomously: “The Secretary of the International Socialist Bureau unreservedly welcomes the acceptance by a Social-Democrat of a ministerial post. And yet only shortly before the war all party congresses, and international congresses, expressed sharp opposition to this! Times and views change – on this issue as on others.”

The Heilmanns, Davids and Südekums are quite justified in their condescending praise of the Huysmans, Plekhanovs and Vanderveldes….

Stauning recently published a letter he wrote to Vandervelde. It is full of the stinging remarks a pro-German social-chauvinist would write about a French social-chauvinist. Among other things, Stauning boasts of the fact that “we (the Danish Party) have sharply and definitely disassociated ourselves from the organisationally pernicious splitting activities conducted on the initiative of the Italian and Swiss parties under the name of the Zimmerwald movement”. This is literally what he says!

The formation of a national state in Denmark dates back to the sixteenth century. The masses of the Danish people passed through the bourgeois liberation movement long ago. More than 96 per cent of the population are Danes. The number of Danes in Germany is less than two hundred thousand. (The population of Denmark is 2,900,000.) This alone proves what a crude bourgeois deception is the talk of the Danish bourgeoisie about an “independent national state” being the task of the day! This is being said in the twentieth century by the bourgeoisie and the monarchists of Denmark, who possess colonies with a population nearly equal to the number of Danes in Germany, and over which the Danish Government is trying to strike a bargain.

Who says that in our day there is no trade in human beings? There is quite a brisk trade. Denmark is selling to America for so many millions (not yet agreed upon) three islands, all populated, of course.[39]

In addition, a specific feature of Danish imperialism is the superprofits it obtains from its monopolistically advantageous position in the meat and dairy produce market: using cheap maritime transport, she supplies the world’s biggest market, London. As a result, the Danish bourgeoisie and the rich Danish peasants (bourgeois of the purest type, in spite of the fables of the Russian Narodniks) have become “prosperous” satellites of the British imperialist bourgeoisie, sharing their particularly easy and particularly fat profits.[40]

The Danish “Social-Democratic” Party completely succumbed to this international situation, and staunchly supported and supports the Right wing, the opportunists in the German Social-Democratic Party. The Danish Social-Democrats voted credits for the bourgeois-monarchist government to “preserve neutrality” – that was the euphemistic formula. At the Congress of September 30, 1916, there was a nine-tenths’ majority in favour of joining the Cabinet, in favour of a deal with the government! [41] The correspondent of the Berne socialist paper reports that the opposition to ministerialism in Denmark was represented by Gerson Trier and the editor J. P. Sundbo. Trier defended revolutionary Marxist views in a splendid speech, and when the party decided to go into the government, he resigned from the Central Committee and from the party, declaring that he would not be a member of a bourgeois party. In the past few years the Danish “Social-Democratic” Party has in no way differed from the bourgeois radicals.

Greetings to Comrade G. Trier! “Things are moving”, Huysmans is right – moving towards a precise, clear, politically honest, socialistically necessary division between the revolutionary Marxists, the representatives of the masses of the revolutionary proletariat, and the Plekhanov-Potresov-Huysmans allies and agents of the imperialist bourgeoisie, who have the majority of the “leaders”, but who represent the interests, not of the oppressed masses, but of the minority of privileged workers, who are deserting to the side of the bourgeoisie.

Will the Russian class-conscious workers, those who elected the deputies now exiled to Siberia, those who voted against participation in the war industries committees to support the imperialist war, wish to remain in the “International” of the ten Cabinet Ministers? In the International of the Staunings? In the International which men like Trier are leaving?

LCW Vol. 23, p. 134-136.

[39] The Danish-West Indian islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John were sold to USA in 1916 for $ 25 million.

[40] “Gotfred Appel: There Will Come a Day …”, Futura, 1971, p. 13.

[41] Under the impression of World War I three new ministers were appointed on September 30, 1916, the so-called “control ministers”, so that all parties were represented on the Cabinet. It ran counter to a social-democratic congress decision of 1908 to take part in bourgeois governments, and the party leadership hastily called an extraordinary congress, the so-called night congress, which approved Stauning’s entry into the Cabinet with 291 votes against 32.

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