Resolutions for Peace and War

Seventh Bolshevik Party Congress, Resolutions for Peace and War. March 8, 1918


Original Source: Protokoly s”ezdov i konferentsii vsesoiuznoi Kommunisticheskoi Partii (b) Sed’moi s”ezd, Mart 1918 goda (Moscow: Gozizdat, 1927), pp. 180-81.

Majority Resolution for Peace

In view of the fact that we have no army, that our troops at the front are in a most demoralized condition, and that we must make use of every possible breathing spell to retard imperialist attacks on the Soviet Socialist Republic, the Congress resolves to accept the most onerous and humiliating peace treaty which the Soviet Government signed with Germany.

At this stage of the social revolution it is historically inevitable that the imperialistic states (west and east) should make frequent attacks on Soviet Russia. Both the internal conditions arising from the class struggle within each country and the international situation are almost certain to bring about at any time, even within the next few days, an imperialistic offensive against the socialist movement in general and against the Russian Socialist Republic in particular.

Under the circumstances this Congress declares that the first and most fundamental task of our party, of the whole advance guard of the class-conscious proletariat, and of the Soviet Government is to make the most energetic and ruthlessly resolute steps to raise the discipline and self-discipline of the workers and peasants of Russia, to explain to them that it was historically inevitable that Russia should have to face in the near future this patriotic and socialist war of liberation, to unite the masses into organizations possessing an iron will and capable of acting together at all times and especially at critical moments in the life of the nation, and, finally, to give systematic military drill and training to the, entire adult population, both men and women.

The Congress perceives that the only hope for success of the Socialist Revolution, which so far has been victorious only in Russia, is by turning it into an international workers’ revolution.

The Congress believes that from the point of view of the international revolution the step taken by the Soviet Government was unavoidable and inevitable under the present correlation of international forces.

Believing that the workers’ revolution is steadily growing in all belligerent countries and is preparing the inevitable and complete defeat of capitalism, the Congress declares that the socialist proletariat of Russia will do everything within its power and will use all its resources to help the proletarian revolutionary movement in all countries.

Minority Resolution for Revolutionary War

1. The imperialistic war is everywhere disorganizing capitalistic productive relations, creating sharp social conflicts, breaking up capitalistic groupings, and putting whole countries (Austria) out of the capitalistic world. The above facts form the matrix within which the Socialist Revolution is being formed. Its first signs in the West are the strikes and risings in Austria and Germany.

2. The war of the imperialist coalitions may now be viewed from two standpoints: either the coalitions have arrived at a silent temporary understanding among themselves at the expense of Russia, or they are determined to continue the war. In either case we shall have to face the attempts on the part of international capital to partition Russia … If the second alternative is true, Germany will do her best to crush the Soviet Government, since she can continue the war only if she can have Russian food and raw materials.

3. It would seem then that from the point of view both of class struggle and of imperialistic exploitation it is impossible for Soviet Russia for the present to live in peace with the imperialistic coalition of the Central Powers,

4. This is clearly brought out in the peace terms laid down by Germany, which completely cripple the Soviet Government in its external and internal policies.

5. The treaty cuts off Russia’s revolutionary center from the producing regions which feed her industry, divides the labor movement by ruining a number of important centers (Latvia, Ukraine), hinders the socialist economic policy on the question of the annulment of debts, socialization of industry, etc., nullifies the international importance of the Russian Revolution (prohibition of international propaganda), converts the Soviet Republic into a tool of imperialistic politics (Persia, Afghanistan), and, finally, disarms her (demobilization of old and new units). These terms not only give no breathing spell, -but place the proletarian struggle in a worse position than before.

6. The signing of the peace, so far from giving us a breathing spell, demoralizes the revolutionary will of the proletariat and retards the development of the international revolution. Under the circumstances the only proper course to pursue is to wage revolutionary war on imperialism.

7. In view of the fact that the old army is demoralized a revolutionary war will have to be carried on, at least at first, in a guerrilla manner, gradually drawing in the city proletariat and the poor peasant until the struggle becomes a civil war between the toiling classes and international capital. Such a war, in spite of its initial disadvantages, is bound in the end to exhaust the strength of capitalism.

8. Under the present conditions of unemployment and general economic disorganization, the proletariat tends to break up. A proletarian army would keep it together … as soldiers of the proletarian revolution.

9. The fundamental task of the party is to wage war on imperialism and, at the same time, to organize its own military forces … In the very course of fighting a strong Socialist army will be developed.

10. The policy of the party leaders has been one of vacillation and compromise, a policy which not only interfered with the preparation for the defense of the revolution but also demoralized … the enthusiasm of those … who wished to fight.

11. The social basis for such a policy may be explained by the transformation of our party from a purely proletarian to an “all-national” party, which was bound to happen because of its gigantic growth. The soldier-masses, who were determined to have peace at all costs, … exerted their influence and the party, instead of raising the peasant-soldier masses to its standard, was dragged down to the peasant level …

12. As the struggle with international imperialism continues, the peasant too is bound to be dragged into it for fear of losing his land.

13. Under such conditions the aims of the party and the Soviet Government are: (a) to refuse to accept the peace treaty; (b) to increase the propaganda and agitation against international capital, Aiming to clarify the meaning of this new civil war; (c) to create a fighting Red Army, arm the proletariat and the peasants, and train them in the technique of war; (d) to adopt energetic measures which will destroy the bourgeoisie economically, unite the proletariat, and raise the enthusiasm of the masses; (e) to wage ruthless war on the counter-revolutionaries and compromisers; (f) to carry oil a most active international revolutionary propaganda and call for volunteers from all -nationalities and states to join the Red Army.

Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 527-529.

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