War on War: Socialist anti-war strategy in WW1

2:30pm Friday 2 September

About this session

When the First World War broke out, reformist socialist parties betrayed millions and endorsed a war that would maim and kill a generation of working-class youth so that “their” capitalist governments could carve up Europe. This historic capitulation sent shockwaves through the socialist movement. For those committed to internationalism, new political questions were raised about how to fight against imperialism and war. Some believed that the war was an aberration that could be solved peacefully within the bounds of the system. Famously, Lenin and the Bolsheviks argued that the world war was a catastrophic crisis of the system, and that socialists should strive to turn growing discontent against the imperialist war into a class war against capitalism itself. Eventually, both the eastern and western fronts would be brought to a close by workers’ revolutions in Russia and Germany respectively. This session will explore how anti-war socialists successfully fought to end the bloodshed of WW1.

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