N. Bukharin

The International Policy of the Proletarian State

(A letter from comrade Bukharin)

(January 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 10, 25 January 1923, p. 79.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear comrade Souvarine,

French opportunists have been fastening on some words spoken by me at the congress, in my speech on the program, for the purpose of demonstrating their revolutionary radicalism. The words in question were my declaration that a proletarian government, under certain circumstances, may enter into agreements with bourgeois states, and that such a temporary agreement, in so far as it represents the interests of revolution, and is carried out under the control of the International, is of course to be supported by the International.

The question as to the justifiability of Soviet Russia making an agreement with Turkey against western imperialism, when this imperialism not only threatens to enslave Turkey as a colony, but also to destroy the Russian revolution, is a question which must and will be thoroughly inquired into. We have no doubt whatever that such an agreement is perfectly permissible and suitable, and are of the opinion that the communists of all countries are bound to support such an agreement, and to explain its significance to the working masses. Should revolution break out in Germany, and Poland should attack Germany from the east, revolutionary Russia would probably be forced to take up arms against Poland. And in this case the revolutionary workers of the whole world would be bound to support the German revolution and the war conducted by Russia against Poland. Should petty-bourgeois Lithuania seize this moment as a suitable opportunity for attacking Poland, a military-political agreement with Lithuania for this purpose would be perfectly permissible.

The Soviet republic offered Menshevist petty-bourgeois Georgia an alliance against Western European imperialism, when the latter was endeavoring to seize power in Caucasia. Was this offer in contradiction to the interests of revolution? It was made for the defence of revolutionary positions.

The social revolution in Europe will still require many years, and its completion many decades. During this time many proletarian states may find themselves in the position of being obliged to nuke temporary agreements with subjugated or semi-subjugated bourgeois states, with weak and threatened states against strong and threatening ones Each such agreement must be strictly tested, thoroughly deliberated upon. It is superfluous to say that no agreement is permissible under which workers’ states could be employed, directly or indirectly, as tools of imperialism, tools for the oppression of other peoples. When an agreement of the nature above mentioned is being tested as to its permissibility, the criterion must be not the apparent interests of a single workers’ state, but the world proletarian movement as a whole. The Communist International is the organ of such an international control.

The circumstance that two or three sentences of my speech, which I held in my own name only, and which did not by any means represent a decision of the international congress – have been torn from their context and made the object of noisy protest on the part of open opportunists, and of reformists and nationalists of yesterday and today, only shows too plainly that the aim pursued by these gentlemen is not the defence of revolutionary principles of which they are undoubtedly perfectly ignorant, put a speculation on the nationalist prejudices of a part of the working class.


With communist greetings,
N. Bukharin

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