Karl Radek

England and the East

(Special to The Call)

(July 1920)

Source: The Call, July 1, 1920, p. 2.
Transcription: Ted Crawford.
HTML Mark-up: 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.

After a year and a half of mediation the Allies are now beginning to decide the fate of Turkey. The thing seemed very simple. The Turks, who were massacring the Armenians; who were opposing every existing. and non-existing nation the oppression and liberation of whom was the exclusive right of the big imperialist powers, these Turks it was necessary to cut into pieces, to rob them of all that those in power might find appetising. After this the meal might commence. A very simple thing indeed. However; in the course of eighteen months the Allies had only come to an agreement on the point that Turkey was to be cut up, but they could not agree as to what piece each was to have, that France must have Syria was entered in the books of the firm “Liberation of Nationalities Co., Ltd.,” but General Allenby, Commander in Chief of the British forces on the Palestine front, declares; “It is I who had wrested Syria from the Turks with the help of British troops and not the French.” Lord Curzon, on his part is thinking; “France is a good Ally, but why should this good Ally be so close to the Suez Canal, the vital line of our communications with India? And what if this Ally should betray us? Why nestle a snake on our breast?”

On the other hand the French for the space of a year and a half keep on reminding the English; “Gentlemen, you have grabbed enough. Why do you treat us so shabbily?” There is, not much to be said on the selling of Arabia, the creation of half a dozen little kingdoms in Syria and Mesopotamia. These little kingdoms all hang in the air without any ground beneath their feet. They exist to draw French money for intrigues against the English, and English money for intrigues against the French.

One would have thought that the fate of Constantinople was easy to decide, but even here things do not seem to proceed smoothly. Lord Robert Cecil, English Conservative statesman, accuses the French capitalists in the Evening Standard of being in favour of leaving the Sultan at Constantinople and in favour of making Constantinople a free city in order carry on undisturbed their speculative business in a town without an owner. The Temps replies in most elegant terms; “And you, gentlemen, wish to internationalise the control of the Dardanelles in such a manner as to ensure that the English Fleet should control the straits.”

Armenia must be saved. The Entente papers have been writing about it for the last eighteen months, but who is to save her? This saving of Armenia requires the sending of an army of at least 150,000 men. Therefore to the accompaniment of the liberationist shrieks of the Allies the Kurds are nonchalantly massacring the Armenians as in the good old days of Abdul Hamid. The Allies could at any time conclude any treaty of peace with the Sultan and the clique of Pashas at Constantinople, but the problem is how to carry such a Treaty into effect?

All that was best among the officers in Turkey, all who have imbibed modern ideas feel a deep hatred for the Entente. The Young Turks, beaten militarily, have again become the centre of idealism in Turkey. They are in the process of an ideological and social transformation. They were the party of the landowners and officers who in order to retain their power had to enter into combinations with international capital. This capitalism, however, wants now to wipe them off the face of the earth as a class personifying the Turkish nation. However, the Turkish officers on the one hand are declassed, they are torn away from the landowning class, on the other the peasants have eased the problem: upon their return from the front at the conclusion of the war they have smashed up the landowners and thus made an end of all dispute. Some of the Young Turk officers took their stand on the side of the peasantry, on the side of the demobilised soldiers organising armies against the Entente and a movement among the peasants. The party of the landowners is against these officers, but it cannot lean on any considerable forces; it could only gain mastery with the help of foreign bayonets which would stamp the Allied intervention as an intervention against the peasantry. The Allies have an army of 70,000 men at Constantinople, and they hold the Dardanelles, but Constantinople is not Turkey. To defeat the latter and carry out the programme of the Allies it is necessary to move into the depth of the country an army of about 300,000 men; they, would have to start a new war against the growing forces of Kemal Pasha.


In his book on the economic consequences of the Versailles peace, Keynes, the British financial representative at Versailles, writes that during the Versailles Conference he had the impression as if all the decisions of Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George were some phantom or nightmare, that these moulders of the fate of humanity were playthings, wire-pulled by history. On the test of Turkey the Allies will soon gain the conviction that history is playing them a joke, and that they are pulled from behind by history. They have condemned Soviet Russia to death, but Soviet Russia lives. Soviet Russia is freeing herself from the fetters and fighting for its very existence, it shatters the foundations of Allied reaction. It is not German Imperialism that the Allies have condemned to death. German Imperialism was beaten by history. It is the German people that the Allies have condemned to hard labour; but in painful internal strife a new German people is being born, the toiling people of Germany, a revolutionary force, a Samson whom no Delilah will betray, a Samson who in rising will shake the pillars on which the victor’s peace of the Allies is built. It is not old Turkish nationalism that the Allies have condemned to death – it is the Turkish people. To put it in the words of a Turk, the Allies wish to make the Turks a people without a country, but this people of peasants without modern culture is already rising to the fight. Not only did the Allies want to break up Europe into pieces, but they wished to set every piece under their heel against every other. With the hands of the German soldiers they wanted to strangulate Soviet Russia, they wanted to encircle us from and through Turkey. However, laying their heavy hand on everybody they are uniting Central and Eastern Europe and throwing up bridges from these gigantic wells of revolutionary power on to the East. Had they pardoned the German imperialists a year ago, had they given the German bourgeoisie the opportunity to restore its social economic power they might have used it against the workers revolution in Russia. However, out of greed, out of the desire to avoid revolution at home by throwing all the burden of the consequences of the war on the German people they revolutionised Germany to an extent no communist propaganda could have achieved. Even now they may attempt to amnesty the Ludendorffs to throw them against Soviet Russia, but this would only accelerate the victory of the German proletariat. Ruining Turkey, tearing its living body to pieces they throw the Young Turks into the arms of Soviet Russia. The consequence of the situation they are creating is that the Turkish people who formerly saw in every Russian an inveterate enemy now look upon Moscow as the place whence their salvation will come.

Soviet Russia working for peace by all the means in its power and averse from any thoughts of annexations, whilst actuated by the most sincere desire to help all the ruined peoples in revolt; Soviet Russia, ruined, bleeding from all pores, has so many internal problems, is so greatly in need of constructive work that if the Allies gave her an honest peace and the possibility to live and work, they would thereby compel the most revolutionary Government, a Government considered in the van of the international proletariat, to concentrate all its forces on the internal economic problems of Russia The Allies, however, do not give Russia that peace. To day they commence negotiation on trade, and tomorrow allow the Polish attack, although a word from them would have sufficed to hold that wanton attack back. English imperialism, in particular cannot make up its mind on a definite honest policy towards us, because it is frightfully afraid of our revolutionising influence in the East. However, English imperialism is forcing Soviet Russia Eastward. It stands to reason – if Soviet Russia gets no peace, it is obliged to fight the Allies, it will fight them where it is easiest to beat them. Being compelled to it by thy Polish offensive, it will beat the French in Poland, because the collapse of Poland means the collapse of the only ally of France. It says to France Vous l’avez voulu, George Dendin. Even bourgeois Poland could live inviolate and independent if she only chose to live in peace with Soviet Russia. She has, however drawn the sword, and by the sword she shall die! English Imperialism, supporting Poland, is forcing us to look for a place where it is most vulnerable. This place is Asia, Central and Minor. Soviet Russia – should British Imperialism compel it – will able to inflict more harm upon British Imperialism in the East than British Imperialism could inflict on us in the West.

The adventurers at the Quai d’Orsai are doomed, and will be done for very soon. The life limit of British Imperialism is longer than that of the French, and it may be that it will reflect before it is, too late. It have to do its reflecting, however, very quickly, or it, too, will be beaten, because history is developing quicker than the venerable Lord Curzon, or his colleague Lloyd George may perceive. Historical events are possible even during the intervals of the session of the Supreme Council of the Allies. The world is now, a volcano, world history a hurricane, and the Allies are not in a position even to command the Workers in their own country, and they are decidedly not in a position to take in leash the historical elements. Time does not wait; it demands decision and clear decisions.

Ready for peace, ready for concessions, Russia waits; ready for peaceful cohabitation with capitalist countries even, as long as Labour in the West suffers the burden of the capitalist system. But Soviet Russia is not a carcase upon which the vultures of Imperialism will sharpen their beaks and claws. Soviet is a power, a power that is firm and growing, and it will compel its enemies to treat it as such and allow it to live in peace.

Last updated on 18.10.2011