V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in part in 1945 in the book, Istoriya diplomatii, Vol. 3, Moscow-Leningrad. Published in full in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 506b-512a.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Comrade Chicherin:

I have read your letter of 10/III. I think yours is an excellent exposition of the pacifist programme.[3]

The whole point is to have the skill to expound it and our commercial proposals loudly and clearly before the fold-up (if “they” do try to fold it up in haste).

You and our delegation have enough skill to do this.

I think you have made some 13 points (I enclose your letter with my remarks), which are excellent.

We shall have everyone intrigued by saying: “We have a most broad arid comprehensive programme!” If they prevent us from making it public, we shall print it with our protest.

In every case we make this “little” reservation: we Communists have our own communist programme (the Third International); nevertheless we consider it to be our duty as businessmen to support (even if the odds are 10,000 to 1) the pacifists in the other, i.e., bourgeois, camp (taking account of its Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals[4]).

This will be “genteel” and have teeth, and will help to demoralise the enemy.

If we adopt such tactics we shall win out, even if Genoa is a failure. We shall not accept any unprofitable deal.

With communist greetings,


P.S. Comrade Chicherin:

Why not add even more “genteel” bite and say the following:

We propose (§ 14) abolition of all war debts and (§ 15) revision (on the basis of the 13 §§) of the Versailles and all military treaties,[5]

but not through the majority riding roughshod over the minority, but on the basis of an agreement, because in this case we are businessmen and cannot put forward any other principle here than the commercial one! We don’t want to have it all our way with the United States through a majority; we are businessmen; we want to persuade it!! A poll of all the states and an attempt to persuade those who do not agree. This is both genteel and unacceptable to the bourgeois. We shall disgrace and humiliate them in a very “genteel” way.

Here is a variant: submission of a minority of countries (in population) to the majority can be proposed separately within each of the two camps: the bourgeois and the Soviet (the one recognising private property, and the other not recognising it).

Let us put forward both the project and the variant.

Les rieurs seront avec nous![1]

X)[2] an additional point: an exemption to be made for small-holders insofar as it can be precisely proved that these are not fictitious but actual toiling smallholders.



March 10, 1922

Esteemed Vladimir Ilyich:

I earnestly request you to read through the proposals made below and let me have your instructions. We have to put forward “a broad pacifist programme”, that is one of the most important elements of our forthcoming act; we have not, however, got one. We have only the separate fragmentary points in the first directives of the Central Committee. I am here making a first attempt to approach the task.

The chief difficulty is that the present international political and economic forms serve as permanent fig-leaves covering the predatory acts of the imperialists; in particular, these forms serve as a weapon against us. The League of Nations is simply a tool of the Entente, which has already used it against us. You have yourself pointed out that arbitration between the bourgeois and Soviet states is impossible; nevertheless arbitration is an indispensable weapon in the pacifist arsenal. The internationalisation of the Chinese-Eastern Railway is a euphemism for its alienation from us and from China and its seizure by the Entente. A foreign bank of issue in Russia and the introduction of the dollar into Russia, like the introduction of a universal single gold unit in general, would be the most effective weapon for complete economic bondage to America.

We have to introduce something new into the customary modern international forms to prevent those forms from being turned into a tool of imperialism. This new something is provided by our experience and our creative activity as   well as by the creative action of life itself in the process of the growing ruin and break-up of the imperialist world. The world war has resulted in the intensification of the liberation movement of all oppressed and colonial peoples. World states are coining undone at the seams. Our international programme must bring all oppressed colonial peoples into the international scheme. The right of all peoples to secession or to home rule must be recognised. The African Conference of 1885 resulted in the horrors of the Belgian Congo, because the European powers at that conference indulged in philanthropy towards the Negroes and that philanthropy turned out to be a fig-leaf covering the most barbaric exploitation. The novelty of our international scheme must be that the Negro and other colonial peoples participate on an equal footing with the European peoples
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in conferences and commissions and have the right to prevent interference in their internal affairs. Another novelty is the obligatory participation of working-class organisations. The demand for trade unions to take part in a future European congress was very popular in British working-class literature during the world war. We have actually realised this by including three members of the All-Russia Central T.U.C. in our delegation. We must lay down that one-third of the votes in the international organisation we are going to propose should belong to the working-class organisations represented in each delegation. These two novelties, however, are not sufficient to protect the oppressed peoples and downtrodden countries from the domination of the imperialists because the upper stratum of the colonial peoples may well be puppets in the same way as treacherous labour leaders are. The inclusion of these two opens up the way for future struggles. Working-class organisations will be confronted with the task of struggling for the liberation of the colonial peoples, for aid to the Soviet power and against imperialist depredation. The leaders, however, will try to betray them. Therefore another thing to be established is 3) the principle of non-intervention on the part of international conferences or congresses in the internal affairs of various peoples. Voluntary co-operation and aid for the weak on the part of the strong must be applied without subordinating the former to the latter.

As a result we have a very bold and completely new proposal—A WORLD CONGRESS with all peoples of the world participating on a completely equal footing, on the basis of the declaration of the right to self-determination,   the right to complete secession or home rule for all oppressed peoples, and also with the participation of working-class organisations to the extent of one-third of the entire congress. The purpose of the congress will not be 4)) compulsion of the minority but complete agreement. The congress will help by its moral authority. In practice it will set up technical commissions for the implementation of our pre- ((

extensive economic programme of world-wide rehabilitation.

All the projects for a League of Nations or Association of Nations contain only two types of proposals concerning methods of compulsion to ensure fulfilment of the decisions of an Association of Nations—either the establishment of composite armies with contingents from all states or the investment of a punitive mandate in a certain power or several such powers. In the first case we would have something incompetent because a composite army made up of contingents from numerous countries is of no use. In the second case the League of Nations or Association of Nations is nothing but an excuse to justify fresh conquests by the more influential powers.
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And so it is essential to eliminate completely the element of compulsion or punitive expeditions and leave to the World Congress only its moral authority, allowing it to be an arena for discussions aimed at reaching agreement. The prevention of war is a matter for arbitration. There are two types of arbitration—the voluntary appeal of the two parties to an arbiter, to The Hague Tribunal, for instance—in such cases the decision of the arbiter is binding—or the second method, an example of which is to be found in the article on arbitration contained in the treaty between Great Britain and the United States according to which, in the event of there being a danger of war, special conciliation commissions are set up to which the two parties must appeal but whose decision is merely advisory although for a definite period, for instance a year, the proceedings of the commissions continue; this second method has as its purpose the postponement of the beginning of military action to enable the passions of both parties to subside in the legally established interval and lessen the conflict. In the first case appeal to the arbiter is not obligatory but decisions are binding. In the second case appeal to the arbiter is obligatory but decisions are not binding, and the parties are bound only for the legally established period.

At the present moment we cannot avoid this alternative. The proposed World Congress could take over The Hague Tribunal with its advisory arbitration and other services. We shall, however, consider that the only court of arbitration between a capitalist state and the Soviet state can be that   (5) in which an equal number of members is appointed by each 5) party so that half the members will be imperialists and half will be Communists. At the same time we shall propose a (6) ==

general reduction of armaments based on the theses we have 6) established with the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic; developing the traditions of The Hague and Geneva conventions we shall propose adding a number of prohibitions to the rules of war—the abolition of submarines, 7) chemical gases, mortars, flame-throwers and armed air battles.

The technical commissions set up by the World Congress 8) will guide the implementation of a broad programme of world-wide rehabilitation. This programme will not be imposed by force. It will be a voluntary proposal that appeals to the advantage of every participant. Aid will be given to the weak. In this way world railways, river and sea 9) routes must be laid down. The internationalisation of those routes will be a matter of gradual development since the compulsion of those who resist will not be allowed. International technical commissions will propose to individual countries economic and technical aid for the creation of super-main lines, for the regulation of traffic on international rivers, for the use of international harbours and for the technical improvement of world sea routes. We shall propose that the capital of the advanced countries should build a super-main line London-Moscow-Vladivostok 10) (Peking) and we shall explain that it will open up the incalculable wealth of Siberia for the use of all. In general, aid from the strong for the weak will be the basic principle of world rehabilitation which must be based on economic geography and. the planned distribution of resources. A world gold unit can make its appearance only as a result of the improvement of the economically weak countries with the aid of the strong: this improvement is in the interest of all since world ruin affects the strong countries as well, giving rise to unparalleled unemployment, even in America. The strong, by helping the weak, are opening up for themselves markets and sources of raw materials. Proceeding from these premises we shall propose the 11 ) planned distribution of the gold that is at the moment lying idle in the vaults of the American banks. This planned distribution of gold   in all countries must be combined with the planned distribution of orders, trade, supplies of scarce materials, in general, with all-round economic aid for the ruined countries. 12) This aid may take the form of loans, since under a planned economy the return of the money would begin in a few years. Under this heading we place the Barter Institute plan (Keynes), or the Zentralstelle, or national trade centres. If Germany opposes us by a single Zentralstelle in place of individual merchants it will be bad for us since it would be a means of imposing bad goods on us at high prices. If, however, the Zentralstellen are instruments for the planned, world-wide distribution of essential commodities 13) and a means of rendering aid to weak countries by the strong, they would be essential components of an extensive programme of economic rehabilitation. The grain sent to us by America is the beginning of the international distribution of food. Within the Entente there was a partially planned distribution of fuel during the war; one of the chief elements of the broad programme should be the systematic distribution of oil and coal, but in this case, too, the element of compulsion and repression must be eliminated. The international technical commissions must elaborate, in very general outline, a programme for the planned distribution of fuel and energy resources. All these points, taken together, provide a picture of what is theoretically possible under the bourgeois system, but which in historically conditioned reality will come up against national egoism and the predatory acts of the capitalist oligarchy.

With communist greetings,
Georgi Chicherin


[1] We shall have the last laugh.—Ed.

[2] This symbol is not to be found in the text.—Ed.

[3] On February 28, 1922, the Politbureau of the R.C.P.(B.) C.C. approved, with slight amendments, Lenin’s “Draft Decision of the R.C.P.(B.) C.C. on the Tasks of (he Soviet Delegation at Genoa”, and instructed the delegation to work out in detail the programme which it was to present at the conference (see present, edition, Vol. 42, pp. 401–04). In accordance with these directives,



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