V. I.   Lenin

Draft Directives to the Deputy Chairman and All Members of the Genoa Delegation[1]

Published: First published in 1964 in the Fifth Russian Edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 44. Printed from the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 390b-393a.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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.
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To Comrade Molotov for members of the Politbureau

I propose that the following directives to the deputy chairman and all members of the Genoa delegation be endorsed:

1. All members of the delegation should be posted in a general way on all political and financial questions that are likely to be brought up at the conference. Moreover, every member of the delegation should make a special and thorough study of one of the most important diplomatic and one of the most important financial questions.

Chicherin and Litvinov are to be charged with drawing up an assignment of these questions among all the members   of the delegation (with the exception of sick members like Rudzutak, etc.).

2. Every member of the delegation must prepare for the meeting on 22.11 (with the Politbureau of the C.C.) the briefest (maximum 2-3 pages telegraphic style) of summaries of his programme of views and policies on all cardinal questions, both diplomatic and financial.

3. Chicherin and Litvinov are to see to it that the appropriate literature in different languages is collected and handed out to the members of the delegation together with a systematic collection of documents in the Russian language.

4. In view of the special importance and special difficulty of financial questions, Chicherin and Litvinov, by arrangement with the People’s Commissariat for Finance, the State Planning Commission and A. D. Tsyurupa, are to draw up a list of financial experts and a plan of work distribution among them; this to be done within 1 week.

5. All members of the delegation must be perfectly familiar with Keynes’s book (The Economic Consequences of the Peace) and with similar bourgeois and bourgeois-pacifist books and parts of books (Lansing on the “imperialist” nature of the war and the peace of 1918, and so on). Preparations should be on these lines: speeches and statements should give the communist point of view in a nutshell, set forth in such a way as to intimate that although we are Communists and hold such-and-such communist views we wish to cite non-Communists to this audience and to pose the question of annulling all debts and so forth from the bourgeois standpoint (see 6 and 7).

6. All speeches and statements by our delegates at the conference should be calculated in advance in such a way that whatever the course or the outcome of the conference (even in the event of its speedy failure, which we, of course, should try to prevent), there would be, as a result, a brief but clear statement of the sum total of communist views (on questions of international relations and economics) and a detailed statement of bourgeois and bourgeois-pacifist views on the irreconcilable contradictions of the imperialist world (and the imperialist peace).

7. It is highly probable, almost certain, that all the bourgeois delegates at the conference will immediately form a silent but strong bloc for attacking us on account of Georgia and with all the usual accusations of petty-bourgeois and big bourgeois diplomacy and democracy. We should be prepared for this in advance and make sure that we are the first to attack (apart from our main object of dividing the different countries and setting them by the ears). The initiative in taking the offensive should be done mostly in a veiled form, for example by “hinting” (or by bourgeois quotations from relevant works) at the most painful and shameful points of imperialist relations (Korea; Amritsar; public flogging of revolutionaries in India; Lloyd George’s speech against Briand at Cannes concerning assassinations” and so on and so forth).

8. In view of the repeatedly proven desire on the part of our specialists in general and the Menshevik-minded ones in particular to fool us (very often successfully) by turning their foreign trips into a holiday and a means of strengthening whiteguard ties, the Central Committee proposes to limit ourselves in this case to an absolute minimum of fully reliable experts, each of whom is to present a guarantee in writing from the People’s Commissar concerned and from several Communists. Forty-five is the top limit. The list of experts and of all members to be submitted for approval to the C.C. within 11/2 weeks. This § to be taken charge of by Comrades Litvinov, Joffe and Chicherin. They are also to choose a business manager who will not permit night work and such-like scandalous practices.

I move the following addendum to the draft theses of directives for the Genoa delegation:

9. Our delegates should cite § 1 of the Cannes terms in their speeches and statements as often as possible, this citing to be done, first, exclusively in the wording of Petit Parisien, i.e., using the’ words “system of property” and not just “system”; secondly, these words and this § to be given an extended meaning as if implying recognition of the inevitability of the capitalist system of property being replaced by the communist system of property, as if the only point at issue “between us” now remains the question of when this replacement will be effected and in   what manner, i.e., by the Russian method of 1917-20 or by the Lloyd George method of “truncated revolution” of the 1921 Irish type or the 1922 Egyptian type.[2]



[1] The idea of an international conference to deal with all questions concerning the establishment of peace and economic co-operation in Europe, and also the question of Russian debts, was put forward by the Soviet Government, who addressed Notes to this effect to Britain, France, Japan, Italy, and the U.S.A. (see Collected Works, Fifth Russian Edition, Vol. 44, pp. 185-88). The decision to convene an international economic and financial conference was taken by the Supreme Allied Council at a conference in Cannes on January 6, 1922. The Allies invited Soviet Russia to the conference in the hope of forcing from her a number of political and economic concessions while at the same time establishing economic relations with her.

The Soviet delegation to the Genoa Conference was elected at an emergency session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on January 27. Lenin was appointed head of the delegation with Chicherin as his deputy “vested with all the rights as chairman in the event of circumstances preventing Comrade Lenin from attending the conference”. Among the other members of the delegation were L. B. Krasin, M. M. Litvinov, N. N. Narimanov, V. V. Vorovsky and Y. E. Rudzutak. The question of Lenin going to Genoa was widely discussed by the people of the Soviet Republics. Numerous letters were received expressing   apprehension for his life and safety˜and declaring against his going to the conference. The Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) passed a special decision on this question, under which Lenin resigned his commission to Chicherin as head of the delegation.

Lenin directed the work of the delegation, drew up the C.C.’s directives for it, and other important documents hearing on Soviet Russia’s participation in the Genoa Conference (see pp. 394-95, 396-98, 401-404, 410 of this volume, and volumes 44 and 45 of the Fifth Russian Edition).

The Genoa Conference sat from April 10 to May 19, 1922. It was attended by representatives from 29 countries. The declaration by the Soviet delegation, which was approved by Lenin and endorsed by the Council of People’s Commissars, stated: “While remaining true to the principles of communism, the Russian delegation recognises that in the present epoch, which makes the parallel existence of the old and the emergent new social system possible, economic co-operation between states representing the two systems of property is imperatively necessary for universal economic reconstruction” (Materialy Genuezskoi konferentsii. [Materials of the Genoa Conference.] Verbatim Report. Moscow, 1922, p. 78).

The Genoa Conference failed to settle the problems confronting it. The Soviet delegation vigorously repelled the attempts of the imperialist powers to impose a colonial status upon Soviet Russia (the establishment of control over Soviet finances, etc.) By proposing talks on a general reduction of armaments and the banning of the most barbarous methods of warfare (poison gases, military aircraft), the Soviet delegation demonstrated to the world the peace-loving nature of Soviet Russia’s Leninist foreign policy.

[2] Lenin here alludes to the policy of partial concessions which the British Government of Lloyd George carried out in the early twenties in order to suppress the revolutionary movement for national liberation in Ireland and Egypt.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed on December 6, 1920, following a long and hard struggle for national independence by the Irish people. The Treaty provided for the establishment of a dominion “Irish Free State” within the British Empire. Six north-eastern counties (Ulster), the most industrially developed part of Ireland, were alienated to Great Britain.

After crushing the rebellion of the Egyptian people against British rule in December 1921, the British Government was compelled in February 1922 to terminate its protectorate and proclaim Egypt an “independent kingdom”. Egypt, however, became only nominally “independent”, since all her territory remained occupied by Britain, who controlled the Suez Canal zone, ruled Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, etc.

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