Karl Kautsky


Chapter XII
The Bolshevist Invasion

In the first period of independent Georgia, its forces had been put to many hard tests. But its severest trial came last spring, as the result of the Bolshevist invasion by the strong Russian forces, simultaneously from the south, from the north, and from the east.

This treacherous invasion occurred without any declaration of war in the first half of February. The world first heard of it from the Georgian side. The Social-Democratic Party and the Trade Unions, as well as the Federal Socialist Party, announced positively, together with the Georgian Government, that Georgia had been invaded by Russian troops and was threatened to the utmost.

They expected an immediate and vigorous protest against the proceedings of Moscow would be forthcoming from the International Socialist Congress at Vienna.

Unfortunately the telegram arrived late and, in addition, the Congress was suffering under the influence of the formidable crisis into which continental Europe had been plunged by the senseless demands made on Germany by the Entente. Thus the general interest was occupied by Western rather than Eastern politics. Above all, the representations which came from Moscow, and which decisively denied any invasion of Georgia by the Russian Army, served to confuse the judgment.

It is not necessary to subject these representations to a detailed examination, as they answer themselves by their contradictions and inconsistencies.

In order to be able to deny the invasion of Russian troops, it was first stated that some villages on the Georgian frontier had revolted, embittered by the tyranny of the Georgians. Some Armenians on the southern border had given the signal, and then the rebellion spread to Signakh, which lies in the east of Georgia, towards Azerbaijan. Simultaneously, Abkhasia had risen in the extreme north-west, close to the Russian border.

It is a remarkable fact that the rebellions broke out precisely in those places, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Abkhasia, where large and constantly increasing masses of Russian troops had been quartered since November.

The inhabitants of some Armenian border villages are supposed to have insisted on advancing towards Tiflis. The Russian Government stated it had endeavoured, out of love of peace and benevolence, to help the threatened Georgian regime, and offered its mediation between the Georgians and the Armenians. It could not help it if Georgia contemptuously rejected this mediation.

But scarcely was Tiflis captured than the picture immediately changed. The Armenians had discharged their debt, the Armenians could go. No further mention was made in the Russian telegrams of Armenian rebellions, but now it suddenly appears that Communists had captured Tiflis and overthrown the Menshevists.

Pravda (in Moscow) congratulates the Georgian comrades, and says that “Menshevist Georgia has become the last refuge for the counter-revolution.”

No further references to the Armenian rebellions or to the peace mediations. Can any reasonable man hold it to be possible that Moscow would have offered its helpful mediation to a Menshevist Government which was threatened by Communists?

The later Russian telegrams about events in Georgia brand the first news as lies. They more closely approach the truth, but do not quite touch it. They admit that Tiflis was captured by Communists, and not by revolting Armenians. But they would have us believe that it was Georgian workers and peasants who rose against their own Government and captured Tiflis.

One Moscow telegram stated: “The Georgian Revolutionary Committee announce the seizing of Tiflis by the revolutionary Georgian workers and peasants.”

Thus the same Georgian Communists, who up to January could only secure an insignificant representation in any workers’ or “peasant” organisation of Georgia, under conditions of the fullest liberty of legal activity, had suddenly gained sufficient strength in February to overthrow the Georgian Government.

This is sufficiently remarkable, but more remarkable is the following.

A rebellion of revolutionary workers usually first breaks out in an industrial centre, and thence spreads over the remainder of the country. The Communist revolt of the “revolutionary workers of Georgia” did not break out in Tiflis, which comprises half of the industrial workers of Georgia, but, as the Russian report itself establishes, in remote villages, inhabited by a backward agrarian population.

In such villages there were, indeed, numerous Communists, well armed, and led by those who cherished implacable hatred of any Menshevist organisation. They were the Russian Armies, and only they were in a position to lend the Georgian Revolutionary “Committee” the strength to advance successfully against Tiflis, and to seize the town.

If, in spite of all, the Russian Government still attempts to create the belief that its three strong armies on the southern, eastern, and north-western boundaries of Georgia refrained from any share in the fight between the Communists and Menshevist Georgia, this is obviously because invasion by the Russian Armies would represent the most impudent and shameless mockery of the principles most sacred to every Socialist, which principles even the most hardened Bolshevists still had doubts about throwing on the scrap-heap.

Yet stronger than such doubts is the hatred which the Moscow Dictators cherish against everything which is called Menshevist or Social-Democratic. They consider this is to be synonymous with counter-revolution, but in reality they hate it far more than the actual counter-revolution.

They enter into negotiations with capitalist England and America, but they have sworn mortal enmity to every proletarian organisation which accepts the principle that the emancipation of the working class must be the task of the workers themselves, and that it cannot be introduced by the involuntary submission of the workers to the commands of Moscow.

The men of the Moscow International endeavour, with the aid of every kind of lie and every species of corruption, to split all Menshevist and Social-Democratic organisations. And shall they tolerate right on their borders the Social-Democratic Republic of Georgia, this “last refuge” of Menshevism, as Pravda said, within the Russian sphere of power?

Georgia was Menshevist. Therefore, its death sentence was pronounced in Moscow.


Last updated on 1.3.2017