Source: The Communist International, October 1921, No. 18, pp. 202–208.
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.
World politics, after the close of the great war, have become so extraordinarily unstable that every attempt at summarising them in brief outlines is bound to meet with the greatest difficulties. Yet such a summary is highly important as a starting point for studying the crucial questions and chief contrasts, In the first place, therefore, these issues, that form the basis for the new development of events, must be framed and their correlation ascertained. Thereupon we can proceed to investigate the forces and tendencies at work.
However inadequate this first outline of world politics may be—it will often appear paradoxical,—whatever the alterations that may become necessary in the course of further inquiry, the attempt must be made. We are making it here, in order that in the following issues of the Communist International we may, together with other comrades who can speak with authority on the question, pass on to outline the new tendencies of world politics.
To begin with we must inquire into the present state of world economics and their line of development. The age of imperialism was one of protective tariff, which had, however, altered its functions. It no longer served to protect home industry, but aimed at raising industry to a standard which would enable it to oust the foreign industries from the world market and to conquer the backward colonial markets, When the protective system of the individual countries became too narrow a cage for capital, it strove to enlarge this cage by uniting several countries into one custom-district.
The attempts at abolishing British free trade and uniting the British Colonies with the mother-country into one common custom-district, the counter-attempts of the USA economically to annex Canada, the strong movement that arose during the war to establish a Central European tariff union branching off to the South-East—all these were great historical currents with imperialism and later on the war as their tools. What were the results of these great economic issues? Which solution did the war give them? Towards the close of the war it seemed as if this great contest among conflicting and mutually balancing currents in the capitalist countries would result in a cessation of hostilities and a world-wide amalgamation of capital. In so far as the idea of a League of Nations was not mere bluff on the part of the world politicians—and as a tendency it undoubtedly can be credited with being more than simply a move in politics—the idea underlying it was that of an international capitalist trust which would rule the world. However, this idea collapsed with the catastrophic defeat of German imperialism. Not that German imperialism had been its initiator. On the contrary, the idea of a Central European union, as advocated by Germany was—as Naumann puts it—nothing but a scheme of economic trench-digging. If Germany had been victorious, she, would no more have led the movement in favour of creating a world-wide economic trust than the victorious Allies did. She too would have thought merely of her own booty. The idea of a world-wide union of capital presupposes war without definite results; war without victors and vanquished, war that would have deprived the belligerents of all hope to capture rich booty and which would thus have forced upon all the capitalist states the necessity of coming to an agreement in order to check the world-wide economic catastrophe caused by the war. The Allies, being victorious, buried the idea of an international trust of capital. They kept but the name of the “League of Nations”, at the same time limiting the right of admission to the League to the victorious and neutral Powers and thus depriving it of all authority as a binding economic regulator. Trusts are formed by capitalists only when these fail to conquer one another. If a firm becomes a bankrupt, no trust is formed, but the firm is bought out. The Allies expected to improve their own affairs by means of the spoils gathered in Germany, or by ridding themselves from German competition. Thus the post-war period was one of competition. But instead of Germany and Great Britain, the chief competitors are now Britain and America. At the same time the problem arose how to rob a man on the highway of his purse, strip him of his last shirt, and yet make him one’s best customer. This problem exists not only with regard to Germany; Austria and Turkey, but also with regard to Russia. Whereas the competition among the capitalist countries has brought protection once more to the fore, the unsolved problem just mentioned has led to a world economic crisis which has been going on since the middle of last year. So much for the tendencies.
As to the actual situation, the productive power of the whole of Europe has declined to such an extent that economic expansion is practically out of the question. Highly characteristic in this respect are the discussions among the British imperialists as to whether the British Empire can afford to realise its old dream—which was one of the chief causes of the last war—viz. to establish a connection between Egypt and India via Arabia and Mesopotamia.
The United States of America and Japan have, on the contrary, come out of the war greatly strengthened economically. Advanced American industry stands now face to face with the extremely difficult problem—how to find markets for its goods. This applies to agricultural produce as well as to industrial goods. The problem of exporting agricultural produce, grain and cotton might be solved by granting long term credit to the Middle and South European capitalists. But the drawback of it is that, while saving the American farmer from ruin, it greatly impairs the interests of the American manufacturers, since it enables Germany to compete in the industrial market. Thus the question of foreign exports, in particular to Eastern Asia and Russia, is becoming more and more important for the United States.
For Japan the problem of economic expansion has reached a crucial point. Without coal, iron or adequate supplies of foodstuffs, with a population growing by 600-800,000 annually, Japan represents a copy of Germany’s case. Yet, if she were to give up the idea of expansion, she could not—as Germany undoubtedly could thanks to her high technical development—stand her ground in the world by changing her system of industry. Such are, in general outlines, the problems of world economics, that await solution through the channel of world politics.
Since arms are the final argument of world politics, all the questions centre around war, although for the last three years great fuss has been made about the victory over militarism. The war has shown how easily armies may be conjured up by merely stamping on the ground. This wonder was worked during the war by the U. S.A. and Britain. Relying upon their skill in military improvisation, they now keep up merely the skeleton of their land armies and concentrate upon the building up of their fleet. Japan is enlarging her fleet and army simultaneously. France and the newly founded states of Central Europe are about to overtrump and outbid the armaments of the pre-war period. The disarmament of Germany has put no check whatever on Europe’s war fever. The only result has been that the armed states now ill-treat the disarmed ones still more. For capitalism as a whole arms have remained the ultima ratio. The phantom of war is looming up behind all combinations that shape themselves on the political horizon of the world.
The result of the world war was the victory of the USA on a world-wide scale, Britain’s victory in Europe and Japan’s victory in Eastern Asia. The USA try not to let Japan profit by her victory. Britain offers opposition to the economic supremacy of the USA France has been crowned with glory in the war, but has had to pay for it with the greatest number of victims, the greatest sacrifices and the greatest economic ruin and now tries to contest the supremacy of the British Isles. The relations of these countries with each other must form the starting point of all speculations on world politics, for beside Soviet Russia, they alone are subjects of world politics, all the rest playing merely the role of objects.
Britain joined the war in order to break the economic power of Germany, which was competing with British imperialism not only by the cheapness of her goods but also with her war navy. Britain has fully achieved her aim. However, her victory over Germany did not enable her to turn back the wheel of history nor to bring about a would situation in which Great Britain would once more be the only industrial workshop in the world. During the war the USA became definitely an industrial country. Not only does she possess the greatest potentialities, but she already reigns supreme thanks to her high technical and economic development. Her metal and coal industries are superior to Britain’s. She possesses 60% of the world’s oil supplies, thus gaining control over the production of that liquid fuel which is of paramount importance for industry and at the same time an important factor of maritime development. Since protection prevented the building up of a commercial fleet before the war, America had none when she entered upon the war. Thanks to the shower of gold that poured down upon the USA with the war prices and thanks to the shortage, of tonnage, America built a huge commercial fleet during the war. as regards, foodstuffs and the chief necessities of life, she is so far independent from general international developments. Labour in America is more productive than in any other country. No wonder, therefore, that British capital watches the growth of the United Stales with greatest suspicion and mistrust, realising as it does that America is the new foe it has to beware of. Accustomed by long training to hide the thoughts which must not be expressed for fear to endangering British politics, the British capitalist press professes love and friendship for America. It even goes so far as to join in America’s celebration of Britain’s greatest historical defeat—the secession of the United States.
Lloyd George has declared friendship with America to be the basis of Britain’s present day policy. The philistines of British liberalism—those most wise gentlemen from the Nation and the New Statesman—pronounce as absurd the idea of the possibility of an Anglo-American war—for are not the Americans also Anglo-Saxons? At the same time, however, Winston Churchill declares in Parliament that the very idea is unbearable that Britain should become a second-rate naval power and that she should appear at the friendly conference in Washington without a program of armament which would safeguard Britain in case it should be impossible to make friendly grimaces. British-American competition is the most important feature of post-war world politics. Of course, competition does not in itself mean war. A period of over 15 years lies between the day that the Saturday Review, wrote “Germaniam delendam esse” and the day of Scapa Flow. Yet the danger of war exists, and the naval armaments prove that the ruling classes of both countries understand the position precisely in that way, and in no other. The world war has greatly frightened the propertied classes all the world over. They are continually at war with one another, but they fear the war like the plague. They will therefore do all they can in order to reduce their interests to a common denominator by means of economic and political agreements. The “City” is longing for peace and quiet. The USA are like a young lout conscious of his strength, who does not bother much about thinking and from time to time treads hard on his old cousin’s corns. But it is clear that even American diplomacy, in which businesslike common sense is intermingled with the dillettantism of the Harvard University students, is far from being eager for war. The question is where and when British-American interests will clash. The issues are undoubtedly Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe.
We shall further deal with the whole complex of the East European problems and the attitude of the individual victorious Powers towards Russia. First we shall merely sketch the role of Japan.
Japan is still a poor country, though she managed to rid herself of part of her debts during the war, to develop her industry considerably, and temporarily to show a favourable balance of trade. She lacks the necessary natural basis for a first-rate industrial power. Her transition to capitalism came too late to enable her to play a leading part among the old capitalist powers.
Her comparative strength is due to the fact that, being the nearest neighbour of the East-Asiatic continent, she found her way to become a great land and sea power, in spite of her narrow capitalist basis. She made use of the time, when Britain and France were quarrelling about North Africa, when Britain had to fight for South Africa and then to concentrate her attention upon the North Sea; she also benefited by the USA going over to imperialism and secured a fooling in China; she profited by the great world war in order to acquire territorial guarantees in China and Siberia. Now Japan will have to fight for coal, iron and rice, which are produced in China. But in 1918 she made an irreparable mistake in that she merely thought or spoke daggers and—in spite of a good diplomatic preparation in 1918—dared not to raise her dagger against America by definitely placing herself on the side of Germany. Therefore she will now have to fight under most unfavourable circumstances in order to keep and consolidate the positions won during the war. Not only are America’s hands free, but just the reverse! She holds the big whip of the Allies’ indebtedness in her hands, and she can use it to put pressure upon them in her struggle against Japan. It is an exaggeration to say—as some papers do—that the Anglo-Japanese alliance is dead. Although Canada, Australia and South Africa be against this alliance, Britain will not give it up easily. When Mr. Lloyd George, reporting in his big speech in Parliament on the Imperial Conference, asked with an innocent air why Britain’s friendship with Japan should be in the way of friendship with America, he—as the clever statesman he is, with his usual sly form of speech—merely wanted to state that Britain would not choose to throw away the Japanese trump without further ado. Mr. Lloyd George dreams of a “menage à trois” in which he could get his leg under the table somewhat closer to that of the charming geisha than to Uncle Sam’s rough-shod paws.
This game only indicates that Britain is not willing to forego the advantage of using Japan against the USA in the same way as she used her against Russia in 1904; this can easily bring the British-American relations to a crisis.
Possibly it has not yet occurred to the Foreign Office that there could be so dangerous an issue. Maybe it will only use its relations with Japan as a diplomatic card, being firmly convinced that there will be time enough to stop the game when it becomes serious.
However, it must be remembered that neither did Germany intend from the outset to back Austria to such a limit as to provoke a war with Great Britain. Once the rifle is loaded, no one can tell for certain when the trigger will be pulled. In a few decades the impartial historian is sure to come to the conclusion that in 1914 the rifles went off, so to say, by themselves.
If Japan can serve for the card to be played by Britain against the USA, France can be led off by America as a trump against Britain. These last three years France and Britain have been struggling for supremacy over Europe. Since the break of the Franco-Russian alliance, the position of France has become as uncertain or even more precarious than that of Japan. Her attempt to obtain from Britain and America sanctions for her war acquisitions has totally failed. Britain consented to if only on condition that the USA also be a party to the bargain. But America took good care not to bind herself. The Senate refused to ratify the obligations that Wilson had undertaken. The Versailles Peace rests only on the French bayonets. France therefore tries to find a substitute for Russia in Poland, Czecho-Slovakia and Roumania. She apprehends great danger threatening her relations with Germany from a possible alliance between Germany and Russia, whether it take the form of an alliance between revolutionary Germany and revolutionary Russia, or the shape of an agreement between the Russian and German restoration parties. In order to put up an insuperable barrier between Russia and Germany, France must extend the rampart of her vassal countries to the Baltic States.
But French supremacy in Europe spells the greatest danger for Britain. It endangers the peace which should give Britain time to strengthen her power in India and Egypt by means of a liberal imperialistic policy (the granting of certain political rights to the colonial bourgeoisie). It also spells great economic danger, for, in order to gain political influence, France must economically support her vassals with all her might or even beyond her strength. In exchange for it she will get certain economic advantages which will actually deliver up the whole industry of the vassal states into the hands of the French bankers.
The policy of the USA with regard to Europe is still groping its way. The shape it assumes will largely depend upon. whether or not the USA decides to concentrate upon expansion in East-Asia. If this will be the case, Germany will become for the USA the sphere of compensations in world politics. Should serious differences arise between America and Britain, the USA will leave this sphere of compensations to France, in order to ensure French support in her struggle against Britain. The British bourgeois press knows perfectly well what it is about when it raises a hue and cry against French militarism. French militarism represents a growing danger for Britain. It can become much more dangerous for Britain than Germany ever was. Seeing the enormous development of submarine fleets, of aeronautics and far reaching artillery, France could, with the support of America, not only blockade Britain but even contemplate an invasion of the British Isles.
Such are the mutual relations of the victorious capitalist states whose task it now is to apply to the economic life of Central Europe, Central Asia and East-Europe the military results of the war.
The German problem is economically the most complicated of all. Germany has been doomed by the Allies to complete impotence on land and on sea. The German navy has been reduced to nought, the German land forces have been disarmed. But now that the German navy is annihilated and antagonism has cropped up between Britain and France, Britain’s interest in crushing Germany’s power on land is no longer the same as before. She now plays the part of mediator in regard to the German question.
She continually admonishes France to be moderate and in this way is winning Germany’s confidence, which may eventually become an important factor in world politics. Should German industry not be completely destroyed or should Britain supply Germany with munitions if the occasion arises, Germany can still serve as a British weapon in future conflicts,—as a weapon against France or against Russia. But we shall revert to this subject later on.
Economically the policy of the two Allies who have a casting vote in this question is full of insoluble contradictions. The task that France sets herself with regard to Germany is unfeasible, unless France helps Germany to develop her industry under the protection of French arms and with the aid of French capital. Maynard Keynes, the British financial expert, startled the world with his brand-new discovery that there is not much chance of selling one’s goods to a man from whom everything has been squeezed out! His discovery and the impression it produced show us the mental state of the capitalist world to-day. Keynes is right when he calculates that it will not take more than a few years for Germany to be unable to carry out her liabilities. To be sure, these obligations can only be carried out on condition that French ore and the ore robbed by France be united with German coal. Only by a Franco-German economic trust could Germany’s productive power be raised to such a standard as to enable her to carry out her obligations towards the Allies. But this plan meets with the opposition of the French militaristic circles and of the British capitalists.
The French military party labours under the fear of Germany’s restoration. It points to the numerically superior population of Germany and to her first-rate economic organisation. A Germany which would be able to carry out her economic obligations with regard to France would be the stronger party in the alliance. Having gained strength she could break the alliance and either independently or with a new partner turn against France. The French military party strives to atomise Germany, to draw the frontier along the Rhine and to turn Bavaria and German Austria into a catholic state which would serve as a tool in the hands of France. The impossibility to comply with the ultimatum of May 5th will—should the general conditions be favourable be a pretext for the French military party to overthrow the Versailles Peace and to realise the peace proposed by Clemenceau. This policy is opposed by certain leading capitalist circles, headed by Loucheur. Their counter-part in Germany is the manufacturing industry with Rathenau at the head. But the slightest attempt at reconciliation between German and French capitalists is enough to make Britain throw pebbles in the way. Not content to carry on secret intrigues and to catch the heavy German industry for herself, Britain tartly demands from France “information” on the latter’s independent negotiations with Germany. Britain’s real policy is fundamentally at variance with the impression that the British diplomacy are endeavouring to produce with the speeches of their diplomats. Lloyd George, who always has a saying chockfull of wisdom at hand, declared recently that there were two political methods possible with regard to Germany: either to cut the cow up for steaks, or to milk it. Britain has repeatedly permitted the French military party to carve the said steaks out of the loins of the German cow and has thus proved that it would give her no particular pleasure if France would milk the cow—or is it that British diplomacy, contrary to Lloyd George’s philosophic views on the treatment of cows, believes a cow can at one and the same time be cut up for steaks and milked? All these contradictions in the policy of the Allies with regard to Germany—a policy which brings that country on the fringe of political and economic disintegration or drives it into the arms of proletarian revolution—are nothing but an indication of the deep contradictions in world politics, which turn the camp of the Allies into a hot-bed of new wars.
The relations of the Allies with Soviet Russia are still more complicated. Soviet Russia is no object of world politics but rather an active factor in them, thanks to the enlivening force of the idea of the proletarian revolution, thanks to the fists and bayonets of the Red Army and the vastness of Russia’s territory. The relations with the Allies become still more complicated owing to Russia being at the same time a European and an Asiatic country. The policy of the Allies with regard to Russia always showed lack of unity. Two under-currents could be noted in their policy since the time that the Russian blockade was started and the white counter-revolutionary troops were organised by the Entente. France aimed to overthrow Soviet Russia, not only because the French capitalists were anxious about the twenty milliard francs that the Tzar’s government and Kerensky owed them and which the “whites” had undertaken to repay, but also because a great white Russia would have served as a guarantee for the final subjection of Germany. Of course, it was difficult to say beforehand which policy a white Russia would pursue with regard to Germany. As likely as not white Russia would have tried to form an alliance with Germany, so as to obtain from the Allies readier recognition of her interests in Constantinople and on the Pacific. In Britain the policy of overthrowing Soviet Russia by force was less popular, although Winston Churchill exhausted all his eloquence in its defence. The tone of the Manchester Guardian and the Daily News showed clearly that the British commercial class was anything but delighted at the idea of such a policy of adventures. Moreover, Lord Curzon was appointed Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the very moment when decisive battles were fought, and this proved unmistakably that Britain’s interests in Asia were a serious obstacle to the policy advocated by Churchill. The British Government pretended to be frightened at the possibility of revolutionary ideas spreading from Russia to the Oriental countries and in the first place to India. But in their hearts the experienced gentlemen of the British Foreign Office believed that ideas could never be so dangerous as cannons. That is why the British Government permits English liberal literature to circulate in the East, although this kind of literature has a much stronger grip upon and is much more attractive to the young Indian bourgeoisie than the Communist ideas which preach the expropriation of the bourgeois. As regards arms, however, Messrs Nicholson and Curzon feared that a white Russia might possess greater supplies of them, since she could command the services of Schneider-Creusot and the Bethlem Steel Corporation. The Indian “school” of the London Foreign Office, regarding as it does the whole world as a glacis leading to India, was afraid that white Russia would sooner or later direct her attention to Central Asia. Lord Curzon therefore thought it wise to revive Lord Beaconsfield’s policy of weakening Russia such as it was. He supported the “whites”, just as much as was necessary to weaken Russia without enabling them to get the upper hand.
These differences in the camps of the Allies were one of the reasons-and by no means the least important-why Soviet Russia was able to defeat the interventionist plans.
After Denikin’s defeat the Curzon-Lloyd George policy prevailed over Churchill’s tendency. Britain carried on negotiations with Russia for over a year, the protraction being due to the hampering influence of the interventionist elements. But in March of this year the commercial treaty, which signifies a de facto recognition of the Soviet Government, was at last signed. What Britain wants to attain with this treaty can be gathered from Lloyd George’s speech of August 16th, when he, in connection with the Russian famine, developed a plan which clearly aims as establishing the economic monopoly of Britain in Russia. It was obvious from the outset that Russia, weakened as she is by the imperialistic and the civil war, so far has neither sufficient raw material for export nor sufficient means to purchase the necessary manufactured goods. Lloyd George therefore developed a plan of granting credits to British firms who would export goods to Russia and by means of their own apparatus barter them there for grain. If carried out, this plan would permit Britain to bore her way into Russia’s public economy, and since neither France nor America have as yet concluded commercial treaties with Russia, this would obviously spell British commercial monopoly in that country.
The recently published diplomatic correspondence between Britain and France on the negotiations with Russia shows that Britain by no means wishes to fight energetically against the French interventionist tendencies. Just the reverse! She did her best to prevent the feeble tendency in favour of an understanding with Russia, which exists in France too, from getting the upper hand. Towards the close of November 1920 France addressed a note to the Entente, putting as a condition for her participation in the negotiations with Russia that the latter’s debts to her be recognised. At the same time that she knew perfectly well that Soviet Russia could not be able to begin paying her debts in the nearest future. The note points out the necessity to examine the conditions which would raise Russia’s paying capacity; not with a single word does it repudiate the negotiations with Russia as a matter of principle. In spite of France’s repeated inquiries, the British Government, during several months, did not find time nor opportunity to reply to the French note. Only after the commercial treaty with Russia was signed, the British Government replied with a cool offer to France to join the treaty, i.e. to forbear from separate negotiations and give up her independent role with regard to Russia. It would, of course, be ridiculous to consider France as a victim of the British policy. If the French Government were determined to come to an agreement with Soviet Russia, it would find ways and means to carry on independent negotiations. Two tendencies are conflicting in France all the time: the hope of overthrowing Russia on the one hand, and the glimmering recognition of the hopelessness of this plan. Even now this recognition does not yet prevail in France. The Russian famine has once more brought about a revival of the interventionist plans. But there can be no doubt that Britain will not stir to mediate between France and Russia. On the contrary, Britain wants to remain alone with Russia, so as to keep her in hand and by adequately dosing the credits keep her in a stale of complete prostration until Britain’s position in India become strengthened and the Turkish problem be solved.
The attitude of the USA with regard to Russia is so far uncertain. Already Wilson’s policy made repeated attempts at an approach which would secure the Russian market for the enormously developed American industry. This tendency found expression in Wilson’s well known wireless message to Soviet Russia during the Brest negotiations as well as in Bullit’s mission to Russia in February 1919. Harding’s Government, however, is still groping in the dark. But the enormous interest that the development of Russian agriculture has for America as a great country of industrial export, America’s interests in East Asia, as well as her competition with Britain, will force the USA to give up her state of passivity. America will either decide to establish to establish friendly relations with Soviet Russia, or she will at an opportune moment rush upon Soviet Russia in order to deal her a crushing blow. Just as America’s policy with regard to Russia influences the French policy, any changes in the Russian policy of France would influence America. Possibly the Hoover Relief Scheme already represents the beginning of a change in America’s policy.
Historically the conflicting interests of capitalist Europe in the problem of Soviet Russia are centred around the great breach that the war has, made in the capitalist system of the great world Powers. If Soviet Russia succeeds to keep her ground, if she succeeds to force the capitalist states to enter into settled commercial relations with her—which in the end must lead to the recognition of Soviet Russia—this will signify the entrance into the ranks of the world states of the first country which shapes its world policy in harmony with the interests of the world proletariat. Thus a situation will arise resembling the coexistence of the capitalist and the feudal states. But this situation would keep the capitalist states much more on the alert than they had to be with regard to the feudal world. Whereas the contradictions in world politics as described by us are a result of the disintegration and decay of capitalism, the antagonism of the capitalist world with regard to Russia has for its issue the attitude of the capitalist world toward the newly arising socialist world,—an issue which will become much more acute the moment that proletarian Germany will join strengthened Russia.
The greatest conflicts and storms will centre in the future round the issue of the Pacific coasts. Yet the predominant importance of the Pacific question does not deprive the Near East problem of its interest. Britain is fighting in the Near East for her world supremacy, and she will yet be able to keep up her position if, by forming an Anglo-Saxon trust, she succeeds in avoiding a duel with the United States. To be able to rule over the European continent is an utopia, although France and Britain are vying for it. The industrial working masses of Central Europe cannot be ruled from outside. Central Europe will either become a heap of ruins, or an independent capitalist nation (if the German bourgeoisie scrapes out of its financial difficulties by making use of the conflicting interests of the Allied Powers); or else it will become an independent proletarian republic. A population of seventy millions who can read, write and work, will not suffer themselves for long to be oppressed by a foreign power. In the contest between France and Britain over Central Europe there can only be the question which of the two powers is to have the greater influence over it and economically to exploit more of that part of the Continent. As to Russia, in spite of her being largely an agricultural country, she is too vast to be conquered and turned into a British colony. She rouses too many appetites which are in each others way and finally balance one another. In view of her economic straits her dependence from capitalist states may, should the rule of capital continue—turn out to be a hard one. But, at any rate, neither foreign capital, nor still less, any foreign capitalist state shall ever rule Soviet Russia. The territory which Britain can take firmly into her hands is Central Asia. The world war arose out of the struggle fore the South-Eastern corner of Europe and for Turkey. The war is not over there as yet. Britain strives to divide Turkey up as speedily as possible, in order to get a firm footing in Constantinople, before Russia—which possesses a stretch of the Black Sea coast—once more claims her rights. Britain strives to build up “independent” Arabian estates with all possible speed,—states which will naturally be nothing but playtools in her hands. To support the Hussein dynasty in Hedjaz; Transjordania and Mesopotamia with nominal ownership of the Mosul Oil Wells—in order to screen the railway connecting India with Egypt—such is the plan of British policy in the Near East for the next few years. The value that Britain attaches to the possession of these territories can be gleaned from the fact that she firmly perseveres in her Mesopotamian policy in spite of great financial difficulties. With her well-known capacity for concentrating upon the most important issue, Britain is temporarily retreating in Persia, judging quite justly that it will be easier for her to secure her Northern front after settling firmly in Mesopotamia. To gain a footing in Mesopotamia Britain must, however, overthrow the Young Turks who represent the only moral force existing in the world of Islam. Britain tries to achieve this not only by fighting against Kemal Pasha (whose government, notwithstanding all personal disagreements between Kemal Pasha and Enver Pasha, is essentially a Young Turk government), but also by attempting to raise the ruler of Mecca to the position of Khaliff. This attempt is being made with greatest precautions, yet with typical British pertinacity. Danger threatened British policy not only from the influence of the Russian revolution and the opposition of the Young Turks, but simultaneously from the French policy in the East. The settling of France in Syria threatens Britain’s left flank, and this at a point which is of vital importance for Britain’s world supremacy. France, which already from Toulon and Bizerte endangers Britain’s connection with her colonies, is fortifying herself near the Suez Canal. Free masonic France tries to play the part of protector of Islam, though she based her rights over Syria on the historical claims of the French catholic kings. The British-French competition in the East influences their contest in Europe, and vice versa. Here, in the Near East, it fakes the shape of general antagonism between the interests of these two powers. At the same time—as America’s altitude in the Mosul question shows—American capital begins to protest against the economic monopoly that Britain is establishing in her own colonies.
We have here sketched with laconic shortness the most important contrasts prevailing in world politics in their present slate of broiling fermentation. They show us the picture of a chaos in which a multitude of tendencies intertwine and cross,— a chaos of which there seems to be no way out. There can be no question of any equilibrium whatsoever in world politics. So far only the memory of the great world war acts as a lid on the witches’ kettle. All these contradictions in the capitalist world exercise a revolutionising influence on the international situation, cropping up as they do on the ground of a decaying economic system. The pile of stale debts which threatens to collapse over the heads of the struggling capitalist powers; the world-wide economic crisis; the new armaments, and the bankruptcy of the idea of the League of Nations testify the incapacity of capital to reconstruct the world economy. When this impotence of capital will bring about great proletarian movements, these will be led by the only force which is destined to clear away the wrecks of capitalism and with an iron fist to establish a new world system.
Moscow, September 10th, 1921
Last updated on 18.10.2011