Below I reprint an analysis by VI Lenin on WWI a mere two months after the war's outbreak in which he got the colonial-imperial character of the war just right. He was vilified at the time by the entire range of socialists and leftists in Russia and beyond but it was the Bolsheviks' determination to stick to that line - against a bloody murderous inter-imperial war that was of no benefit to the majority of the peoples of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, etc - that eventually explains why Lenin's party was able to both remove the Tsar and take Russia out of the war in 1917-18.
"The German bourgeoisie heads one group of belligerent nations. It is deluding the working class and the laboring masses by asserting that it is waging war in defense of the fatherland, freedom, and civilization, for the liberation of the peoples oppressed by tsardom, for the destruction of reactionary tsardom…. In reality, whatever the outcome of the war may be, this bourgeoisie will, together with the Junkers, exert every effort to support the tsarist monarchy against a revolution in Russia.
The other group of belligerent nations is headed by the British and French bourgeoisie, which is deluding the working class and the laboring masses by asserting that it is waging war for the defense of their native lands, freedom, and civilization, against the militarism and despotism of Germany. But as a matter of fact, this bourgeoisie has long been using its billions to hire the armies of the Russian tsardom, the most reactionary and barbarous monarchy in Europe, and to prepare them for an attack on Germany.
In reality, the object of the struggle of the British and French bourgeoisie is to seize the German colonies and to ruin a competing nation which has displayed a more rapid rate of economic development. And, in pursuit of this noble aim, the “advanced” democratic nations are helping the savage tsarist regime to strangle Poland, the Ukraine, and so on, and to throttle revolution in Russia more thoroughly.
For us, the Russian social democrats, there can be no doubt that from the standpoint of the working class and of the laboring masses of all the nations of Russia, the lesser evil would be the defeat of the tsarist monarchy, the most reactionary and barbarous of governments, which is oppressing the greatest number of nations and the largest mass of the population of Europe and Asia.
The immediate political slogan of the social democrats of Europe must be the formation of a republican United States of Europe. But in contrast with the bourgeoisie, which is ready to “promise” anything in order to draw the proletariat into the general current of chauvinism, the social democrats will reveal that this slogan is utterly false and senseless without the revolutionary overthrow of the German, Austrian, and Russian monarchies. The war has placed the slogan of socialist revolution on the agenda of all the advanced countries… The only correct proletarian slogan is the transformation of the present imperialist war into a civil war."
(From “The War and Russian Social Democracy”, November 1914)