Karl Radek


Soviet Russia and Disarmament

(24 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 53, 24 June 1922, pp. 389–390.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2019). 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.

At the Genoa Conference Soviet Russia proposed general disarmament which was rejected by the capitalist representatives. Now it turns to the Border States with the proposal to effect a partial disarmament. This is another unequivocal proof of the true nature of the policy pursued by our Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, – a policy of peace.

From that moment on, when the working masses of Russia showed the proletariat of the world that they were able to take care of themselves in the face of the bayonets of imperialistic intervention and the Russian White Guards, the capitalist press throughout the world began to shout about the “imperialistic” Soviets. The lackeys of the bourgeoisie, the Social Democratic press of all shades, took up the cry of their masters, and in the name of pacifism and in the interests of the “working class”, they began to rave against the “imperialistic” policy of Soviet Russia. For two and a half years “the little semi-liberal fools of the English Labor Party, of MacDonald’s cut, and the Kaiser-“Socialists”, who all through the war, tried to justify every cruelty and bestiality committed by English and German imperialism, together with those jelly-fish “Marxists”, shouted about the “red Militarism” of Soviet Russia, pointing out in a professorial manner, that a bayonet is a bayonet, whether it serves to defend or to kill the working masses.

At the Genoa Conference, the Soviet Government delivered a hard blow at the bourgeoisie and its lackeys, by its proposal to include the question of disarmament in the order of the day This was not a mere manoeuvre of the Soviet Government to unmask its enemies. It was a step necessitated by the most vital interests of the Peasants and Workers of Russia. We desire to concentrate all the energy of the workers and peasants upon constructive, peaceful work, in order to be able as soon as possible to restore our economic household, that was destroyed by the imperialistic war, by intervention, and by the blockade. But we cannot possibly disarm ourselves, so long as the capitalists refuse to disarm themselves also. If Europe were to disarm by international agreement, Soviet Russia would then be able to concentrate all its energy on constructive peace work, being fully convinced that the working classes of the other countries will be capable to take care of their own ruling classes by themselves. Any reduction of disarmament however small would be a step forward, for it would permit us to strengthen our economic position, thus making it possible for us to snow the great masses at home and abroad, how great the creative powers of the working class really are.

But our proposal was not well received by the representatives of the capitalistic governments. The first one to protest was M. Barthou, the representative of the same imperialism which, through its mouth-piece at the Washington Conference, M. Briand, tried to justify the existence of a million-strong French army, with the existence of the Red Army. But even Lloyd George, who declared that our proposal was a very fair one, and that the household of Europe cannot possibly be restored without a reduction of armaments, had in mind not the disarmament of England, but the disarmament of France.

In all cases, English Imperialism insists upon the right to keep up a large navy, which according to English Government officials is to serve only as a means of keeping England in touch with her colonies that are strewn all over the world. English imperialism does not command a large land-army; and for this reason, it favors the disarmament of France, or the reduction of its military forces, with which it is in competition for the hegemony of Europe.

The general proposal made by Soviet Russia in Genoa for international disarmament was not even examined. With a view of diminishing the military burdens that are exhausting the whole of Europe, especially the Eastern European countries that have been bled white, the Soviet Government, not being satisfied with the proposal that it made in vain at the Genoa Conference, again raises the question of at least a partial reduction of armaments. Yesterday (the 13th of June), the Soviet Government sent notes to the Polish, Lithuanian, Esthonian and Finnish Governments, in which it proposes that a conference be called in the near future for the purpose of discussing the question of a final reduction of armaments throughout Eastern Europe. (The official text of the note will published in our next issue. – The Ed.) This note emphasized the fact that the Soviet Government is ready to enter into an agreement on this question with those of its neighbours with whom it has no treaty relations and to whom it is therefore unable to address itself directly. Such are the relations, for example, between Soviet Russia and Roumania. If Roumania were to agree to reduce its armaments proportionally, this plan could be carried out in spite of the fact that the disputes between Roumania and Soviet Russia are as yet unsettled. But the Soviet Government would probably raise no objections if the Roumanian Government were to propose peace negotiations with Soviet Russia.

The above-mentioned proposal of the Soviet Government came simultaneously with the great political crisis in Poland, which we reported yesterday. Marshal Pilsudski, the head of the Polish Government, handed in his resignation in protest of Skirmunt’s policy of peace. Pilsudski claims that Poland is in danger ot being attacked by Russia who is parly to a military agreement with Germany, directed against Poland. M. Pilsudski who is responsible for the Kiev adventure, the advent our ous attack on Soviet Russia that cost the lives of tens of thousands of Polish and Russia workers and peasants; M. Pilsudski, the accomplice of France in the strangling of Germany, cannot possibly imagine that two countries can refrain from uniting against his own policy of war. Now is the time for the Polish Government, the Polish Parliament, and the Polish laboring masses, to learn whether Soviet Russia entertains any imperialistic plans or not. Now is the time for the Polish people to find out whether Poland actually needs her militarism that wastes billions belonging to the poor Polish masses. If Poland rejects Soviet Russia’s proposals; every Polish citizen will know that Pilsudski is craving for war and for the expenditure of public moneys. Poland attempted through its ruling classes to effect an alliance with the Baltic countries and with Finland; it tried to raise their hair with a story about the danger that threatened them and their independence. And these countries to a greater or lesser degree listened to Poland’s fairy tale. But now, the governments of Lithuania, Esthonia, and Finland have an opportunity to get at the truth about the plans and intentions of Soviet Russia, and it is they who will be responsible if the military burdens of these small peoples are not lessened.

The proposal made by Soviet Government is merely the continuation of the peaceful policy which it always pursued. We consider the sword only as means of defending the peasantry and the working-class, and we are striving for the full or partial opportunity to beat the sword into a plow. And now, the working masses of the whole world, particularly those of Eastern Europe, will come to realize this truth, no matter how loud the Daszynskis and the other willing lickspittles of capitalistic imperialism may shout about our “imperialism”.

Last updated on 27 December 2019