How the 2nd International failed the workers in 1914

In all the noisy commemorations about the First World War, some things are more or less left in silence. In particular, that a crucial responsibility for the war lay with the ‘Labour’ and ‘Socialist’ parties who in 1914 voted for war credits and set about mobilising the workers for the war effort.

This recording, of the presentation to the first session of the ICC day of discussion on World War I held in September 2014, looks at how the majority of the parties of the Second International came to betray the fundamental principles of internationalism and integrate themselves into the bourgeois state. This treason did not come about overnight, but was the product of a long process of degeneration which still contains many lessons for today. It focuses in particular on the German Social Democratic Party, the great jewel of the workers' movement prior to the war, whose capitulation in 1914 was a decisive factor in the 2nd International's collapse.

The presentation is based on two articles to be found in our special page on World War I.


World War I