Source: The Communist International, May 1919, no.1, p.146 (997 words)
Transcribed: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Under this title the publishing office of the Petrograd Soviet issues a booklet on the international meeting held the 19th December 1918 in Petrograd. This meeting was one of the links in the creation of the new internationality. Instead of giving an account of the meeting the Communist International brings the preface to a booklet, written by Maxim Gorki, chairman of the meeting.
The international meeting of the 19th December was a festival of the Russian proletariat and I should wish this great day of the Russian revolution remembered by working men for a long time, for ever.
It is not the speeches made to the Russian people by the representatives of various countries and of Europe and Asia that are so important, it is words spoken to them that are so bright and new—what is significant and momentous is the feeling of ardent confidence in working Russia and the deep comprehension of her historic role, expressed by twenty-three orators.
Hindoo and Corean, Englishman, Persian, Frenchman, Chinese, Turk and all the rest spoke, in essence of one and the same thing of imperialism, which carried away by its greed to senseless and infamous slaughter, has digged its own grave and is now drowning in the blood of intoxicated nations and laying bare with appalling clearness to the eyes of the entire western world its inhumanity and cynicism.
But not this criticism- well-known and familiar of old to workers’ ears—of the disappearing social order, not the judgment of international justice on the gang of international pirates now wrangling among selves about the sharing of the loot—none of all this I say, was the real meaning of the meeting.
Its real meaning was in that unanimous funeral dirge of the past, that is a joyous annunciation summoning the nations to the aid of resurgent revolutionary Russia, calling the toilers of the earth to help her. The confidence rung in every speech, that Russia, by the will of history taking on herself the part of being the vanguard of Socialism, would play this, her great and difficult part with honour and success and draw the nations along to follow after in the road to the new life.
It was wonderful to listen to these many tongued speeches full of a single feeling,—and once more we knew that only the rationally, directed will of the people is capable of working miracles.
And is it not a miracle indeed? Since the end of the eighteenth century the people of monarchic Russia did the bloody and ignominious work of extinguishing all revolutionary and liberating movements east and west; our soldiers in their blindness fought the revolutionary army of the Great French Revolution, more than once mercilessly put down the national revolutionary movement in Poland, helped monarchic Austria to annihilate Hungarian revolution, smothered the Turkish constitution in seventy-eight and-nine, violated Persia, drowned the national movement in blood—played the part of butchers of liberty whenever the selfish and cowardly hand of autocracy directed.
And behold, the eyes and hearts of all the nations, of all the workers of the earth are now fixed upon this people; all look upon the Russian nation in firm hope, with the conviction, that it will worthily and with might fulfill the part it has taken on itself, of being the force, that is to free the world of the rusty chains of the past.
This confidence, this hope was expressed with greatest clearness in the speech of comrade Yussupov, the representative of Turkestan and Bokhara—it was he expressed the universal, the planetary significance of the Russian revolution the most ardently and the most convincingly.
“Do not complain of difficulties” he said “you have begun a work demanding enormous sacrifices, demanding self-denial, unyielding courage, unselfishness and ceaseless toil”.
Such was the sense of his speech and truly it could not have been said more in time.
Indeed the attention of the whole world is intent upon the Russian worker-socialist. He must lay down, as it were, a test of his political maturity before the face of humanity,—he appears before the peoples of the earth as the creator of new forms of life. For the first time is an attempt made at realizing the ideas of Socialism on a gigantic scale, an attempt to put into practice in real life the theory that may be called the working man’s religion.
The fixed attention of toiling humanity towards Russia is but natural—we are doing universal, nay, planetary work.
And the intense interest of the working world in the Russian socialist obliges him to hold his banner high and grip it fast—by the will of history he is teacher and example to hundreds of thousands, to millions of men. In spite of all hardness of the conditions in which he lives, he must be courageous, firm, wisely magnanimous, unselfish and stubborn in his work.
He must remember that he himself is not untouched by the poison instilled into humanity by property, he must know that cruelty, brutality to one’s fellows and everything the old world stood upon is inoculated into his own flesh and blood too.
A free man, he still looks on labour with the eyes of the slave, like the ox on the yoke—but only strained, stubborn unselfish toil can root out the deep-seated evils of the old world.
I do not think these anxious thoughts out of place here, at the head of speeches in praise of the Russian working-man on his first international festival.
Comrades! The toilers of the entire earth look to you with ardent hope: they expect to see new honourable unselfish men indefatigable in the work of building up a new world.
Show yourselves then to the entire earth in the shape of new men, show the world all that is best, most human in you—your love, your magnanimity, your honesty, your readiness to toil.