Dora B. Montefiore 1918

Mr Balfour’s Profession

Source: The Call, 28 March 1918, p. 2
Transcription: 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.

“If we are fated to destruction, we will die with Internationalism on our lips.” – ZINOVIEFF.

We Socialists can find but little comfort in Mr. Balfour’s pronouncement in the House on March 14th, as to the proposed Japanese intervention in Vladivostock, and along the line of the Siberian railway. We know only too well what the assurances of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs are worth as to “the spirit of perfect loyalty and disinterestedness’’ with which Japan is prepared to establish what he describes as “a stable, orderly and a civilised Government” in Russia. The assumption running through the Rt. Hon. gentleman’s speech is that the present Bolshevik administration is so full of “the disorders which unhappily have already stained the path of the Russian Revolution” that nothing can be done until the iron fist of militarism, as represented by Russia’s military has pounded to atoms the Soviets which have had the insolence to found themselves on the will of the people, and to say, “We as representatives of, the Russian workers and soldiers have no quarrel with the workers and soldiers of other countries. There is room for us all, though there may not have been room in the past for our masters. We appeal to the workers and soldiers of other countries to join us in our struggle against Imperialism, and to help us to do away with class privileges and eventually with classes.” It is because the Bolshevik administration, since, being in a majority, has been able to assume power, has steadily and inflexibly pursued these objects, that it has been subjected to a campaign of calumny carried on by the Press and the politicians of Imperialist countries.

Because, in outlying districts, peasants, who for generations have suffered oppression at the hands of aristocrats and of landowners, have turned on their oppressors, and in some cases have either driven them out of the country or have killed them, the methods of the Bolshevists are freely described as entirely those of violence, both against persons and property. Because a group of disbanded conscript soldiers killed a General on his way to trial under escort, the Lenin and Trotsky administration is held responsible for the lynching outrage, and the capitalist Press of a Europe, red with the freshly poured out blood of millions of young soldiers, holds up sanctimonious hands of horror and impeaches what it is pleased to call the anarchy and chaos of Bolshevism. Were not Sheehy Skeffington and two other innocent men shot without trial by an officer in the British Imperial Army? What about the murders of Peterloo, Featherstone and Belfast? Other Governments besides the Bolshevists have a difficulty in times of crisis in keeping their over zealous officials in order. The latest slander is propagated by our always-so-well-informed Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who told an enthralled House of Commons how “the only bank allowed in Moscow was a German bank!” And this wonderful fairy tale held good till Mr. J. Bubnoff, London manager of the Moscow Narodny Bank, wrote to “The Times,” explaining that “the only bank in Russia allowed to continue its normal working under the decree of nationalisation of banking business is the ‘Moscow Peoples’ Bank,’ whose capital is subscribed by the Russian co-operative societies only.”

At least, the American people in their recent message to the Soviets appear to desire to learn the truth about the Russian Republic and its difficulties, for they state that it is their “earnest and heartfelt wish that the Russian people may secure liberty for all through law, and establish the sovereignty of the entire people.” That is the task which Lenin, Trotsky, Tchitcherine, Litvinoff, Kameneff, and their friends have set themselves with much self-sacrifice to accomplish; and the sympathy and help which they obtain from the British Government (containing, be it remembered, a representative of the Labour Party in its War Council) is that the accredited representative of the Soviets is flouted in a British Law Court, and told that his Government is not recognised here; while the Soviet representative to France is prevented by the Home Office from cashing his cheque, which he brought with him for current expenses, and is told he will not be allowed to accomplish his mission, but will be sent back to Russia. Let us never forget that we are fighting for Freedom, although “Freedom” is evidently, under, Lloyd Georgian and Northcliffe auspices, on no account to be extended to the representatives of a country which has so far forgotten itself as to be governed by Councils of workmen and soldiers. No wonder Zinovieff when speaking at the Petrograd Soviet exclaimed : “At Pskoff German Imperialism holds one revolver, and at Narva another. Both are pressed against the forehead of the Russian Revolution. At Vladivostok, the Japanese Imperialists are loading cannon; at Archangel the British Imperialists are preparing Dreadnoughts against us. At the same time, it seems as if the workers of other countries are remaining silent . If we are fated to destruction we will die with ‘Internationalism’ on our lips.”

Meanwhile, let us of the B.S.P. remind the workers that the Japanese Government of all “civilised” Governments has gone farther in its antipathy to distinguished intellectuals for the crime of propagating Socialism. Only a few years ago Dr. and Mrs. Kotoku, T. Sakai, K. Nithikarna and S. Ishikawa, the editor and staff of the Japanese Socialist paper, “Chokugen” (Straightforward) suffered for their opinions the degrading death penalty. Is the rope being woven now in Japan which will string up Bolsheviks by the thousand, once the Imperialist Powers are in agreement that the psychological moment for the butchery has arrived? Meanwhile the British working classes are to be appeased with extra rations, while Mr. Barnes plots with his fellow-conspirators the overthrow of the Soviets, and Mr. Macdonald at a capitalist public luncheon dissociates himself from the taint of Bolshevism because he is “a law and order man.” “It takes a soul to move a body”; and Russia with her clear-eyed idealism could and should be the “soul” of Twentieth Century Socialism. Let the workers of other countries, to whom she in her fateful hour appeals, beware how they allow that “soul” to be outraged and murdered.