Karl Radek

An Open Letter to Vandervelde

(15 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 51, 20 June 1922, p. 379.
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.

Moscow, June 15, 1922.

In the speech made by you on the 13th of this month, you very proudly announced that you were ready to enter into a public discussion with Bukharin on the question of the policy pursued by the Second International, wherever and whenever he may desire it, but on one condition, namely, that this discussion take place not in an artificially packed hall, but under conditions that were fair and equal to both contesting sides.

Citizen Vandervelde! I was so anxious and aching for an opportunity to enter personally into a discussion with you on the question of the policy of the Second International that I even proposed in Berlin that the session of the three Internationals take place in Brussels, although I knew very well that the Belgian Communist movement was a very weak one, and that the majority of the audience that I would have to address would consist of members of your own party. But you answered me with a sour smile that to your regret the democratic government of Belgium would not give me a passport to enter Brussels. I did my best to get an opportunity for such a discussion with the German representatives of the Second International, but the Prussian Minister of the Interior, Citizen Severing, a German Social Democrat and member of the Second International, seemed very much scared of the idea. And although the French occupation authorities in Dusseldorf granted me permission to appear at the meeting, at which representatives of the Second and 2½ Internationals were also to appear, Herr Severing refused to grant the same permission. The Foreign Office, which seems to defend not only the interests of foreign capital, but also the interests of the Second and 2½ Internationals, notified our embassy that in case I were to appear at the meeting, it would have to follow the instructions of your comrade Severing and take action against me.

How are we then to come to a discussion between you, M. Vandervelde, and the representatives of the Communist International? In the country whose minister you were, and in which your party counts one-third of all the voters, the effect of your loud speeches is so weak that your government disregards the most basic principles of democracy. In Germany, where your comrades are in the government, they appear as defenders of the limitation of all liberties to Russian Communists. For this reason only one thing is left me, and that is to propose to you to rest on the strength of your argumentative powers, and to organize here in Moscow a farewell evening at which you will have ample opportunity to explain to the workers of Moscow the righteousness of the Second International. I am ready to take all measures to see to it that this evening should not be a musical one, and that you should not have to listen to that kind of music which the Germans call “Katzenmusik”, nor experience any other disagreeable effects, outside of those that may be caused you by the Communist arguments.

Accept, Mr. Vandervelde, the expression (as is usually written in such cases) of my highest respect and sympathy, in case you decline such an honor from the workers of Moscow.

Karl Radek

Last updated on 27 December 2019