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What Is to Be Done in Times of Powerlessness? Lenin’s Years in Switzerland, September 1914 to April 1917

  • Michael Brie
Chapter
Part of the Marx, Engels, and Marxisms book series (MAENMA)

Abstract

This book begins in August 1914. These were leaden times in which the mole of history had buried itself deep in the ground. No date revealed the powerlessness of the Left in Europe like 4 August 1914, when the SPD group in the Reichstag voted unanimously to approve war credits. Rosa Luxemburg spoke of a ‘world tragedy’ (Luxemburg 2004, 313). The outbreak of World War I marginalised the radical Left in Europe entirely. Only a few immediately and definitively branded the war an inter-imperialist conflict and declared war on it in turn. They formed a small, upright grouping: the German Gruppe Internationale, the Russian Bolsheviks and the grouping of internationalist Mensheviks, the Dutch Tribunists, the French syndicalists, the small Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, as well as minorities in other political groups. Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Vladimir Lenin, and Anton Pannekoek all belonged to this group. The state of war marked a deep caesura. Class struggle was removed from the political agenda in favour of the war of nations. Censorship and political repression made work among the proletarian masses and the army nearly impossible.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Brie
    • 1
  1. 1.Rosa Luxemburg StiftungInstitute for Critical Social AnalysisBerlinGermany

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