The Bolsheviks and the Pre-War International

  • John Barber
Part of the Studies in Soviet History and Society book series (SSHS)


While most areas of party history had received some attention by the late 1920s, at least one had been very little investigated. This concerned the role of the Bolsheviks in the international socialist movement before 1914. The reasons were various. In the first place, questions involving other socialist parties (with the exception of the Polish parties) had occupied only a small part of the Bolsheviks’ time in the pre-war period. Lenin and his followers had been a minor and rather distant section of the Second International, whose leaders tended to regard with both perplexity and disapproval the internecine disputes between Russian Marxists. It is true that Lenin was one of the two Russian members of the International Socialist Bureau, and unlike the other, Plekhanov, a not inactive one.1 And the Bolsheviks did at times make significant contributions to debates within the International—as at the Stuttgart Congress in 1907.2 But from the major controversies which occupied the International they generally stood aside. There was thus no obviously distinctive role which they had played in international socialist affairs before the outbreak of war.


Socialist Party Left Radical Socialist Movement Polish Party German Social 
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© John Barber 1981

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  • John Barber

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