Arthur Rosenberg


The Consequences of the Greek Collapse

(15 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 79, 15 September 1922, pp. 589–590.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). 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.

The Peace Treaties of the year 1919 prove to be of short durability. The decisions of the Berlin Congress of 1815, laid down the lines of European politics and economy for at least the life of one generation. The peace decisions of 1648 which concluded the Thirty Years War in Europe held good for a century. The Peace of 1871 exercised its effects for at least half a century. The Treaties of 1919 were surrounded with a solemnity the like of which is to be sought. The era of national division was finally brought to a close and the new era of the League of Nations was to lead humanity to higher aims. The group of victors who dictated the Peace, the Entente plus America, was the mightiest group of powers in world history. They were to see to it that the treaties remained unbroken. And what was to be seen on the opposite side? Some political heaps of misery, as Ebert-Germany, German-Austria, the Sultan’s Government, etc., and then, a vague something – Soviet Russia.

What has now become of the promises of 1919? A collapse along the whole line. The powerful condition of the victors is wrecked. America has broken away from the Entente. And within the Entente itself, the only point of agreement is that each agrees to differ. No serious statesman believes any more in the treaties of 1919. The Treaty of Versailles has become a piece of folly, and the Peace of Sèvres lies shattered at the feet of its signatories. The remaining treaties will share the same fate. What is the explanation of the difference between the fate which has befallen the Treaties of 1919 as compared with the durability of the decisions of 1815 and 1871? The earlier Peace Congresses were meetings of growing capitalist nations. The Treaties of 1815 and 1871 marked the stages in which capitalist society progressed. So long as the products of diplomacy remained in harmony with the economic growth of the ruling class, they were durable. The Treaties of 1919, on the other hand, were an attempt to heal by artificial prescriptions the sicknesses of world capitalism. As the sickness is: incurable the medicaments are of avail. The heroes of 1919, the mournful Professor Wilson, the narrow minded Clemenceau and the Parliamentary weather-cock Lloyd George, are not in a position to delay the fatal hour of capitalist society.

The present events in Turkey are therefore so instructive to the world proletariat, because they prove the absolute futility of the work of 1919. And yet 1919 still continues to exercise a serious influence upon the mind of the proletariat. Quite apart from the fulfillment policy of the German Social Democrats, 1919 created the League of Nations. The League of Nations is intimately connected with the Amsterdam International; and the whole policy of capitalist reconstruction which the workers are forced to support – this Evangel of Reform Socialism – is the spirit of 1919. The workers should therefore attentively read the telegrams reporting the battles in Smyrna and the commotion in Athens. For what is failing in Athens is not only the Government of the lanky King Tino, who in the shades of the Acropolis, wished to imitate his brother-in-law, Kaiser Wilhelm, but the structure of illusions created in 1919.

The great illusion regarding the solution of the Orient problem, as it was attempted three years ago, consisted in the act that the people of the Near East were regarded as stupid enough to permit themselves to be enslaved by the Anglo-Grecian Banking Kings. English capitalism in the East has peculiar connections, for many decades intimate connections existed between British, Indian, Oriental-Jewish, and Greek-banking and commercial houses. A close chain of capitalist combinations stretches from Bombay over Bagdad and Alexandria, over Smyrna and Athens to London and Manchester. At the central point of these combinations there stand two families: the Indo-Jewish family of Sassoon, which occupies a pre-eminent position in the commercial and banking business of the East, and the Anglicised Greek family of Rallis. Both are multi-millionaire families. The house of Sassoon stands in the closest relationship to the English dynasty and to the most influential London politicians. The house of Rallis is through its connections as mighty in Athens as in London. The actual ones who were defeated in the fighting in Smyrna are not Lloyd George and Constantine, but Sassoon and Rallis.

As a result of the World War the big Anglo-Grecian capitalists, obtained possession of Constantinople. They also held strong positions in Egypt and in the Kingdom of Greece itself. It was hoped by means of the Greek offensive policy to win the whole of Asia Minor. Then direct access would be had to Mesopotamia. There existed the Arabian comic-opera kingdom of Irak, but the real ruler in Bagdad is not King Feisul, but the English Petroleum Trust, i.e., the House of Samuel. And via Bagdad the ring could be liked to India, where for the moment there sits Lord Reading as Viceroy of the King of England. But Lord Reading was formerly known to the world as the great Rufus Isaacs.

The English capitalists pursued far-reaching plans in the districts captured by Greece. Petroleum concessions in Macedonia followed the establishing of banks in Asia Minor. Then came the Council of the Ottoman Debt with its seat in Constantinople. This is the committee of foreign creditors, who had lent money to the Sultan’s Government, and received Turkey’s revenues as security. The Council of the Ottoman Debt is at present under English control. And if it had had its way the peasants of Asia Minor would have had to pay the debts of their Sultan down to the last farthing. Things turned out otherwise however. In Angora and Asia Minor was formed the National Turkish Government of Kemal Pasha, which, up to now, has refused all payment to the Council. Whilst the Greek army was given over more and more to the conviction that it was only there in order to win fresh millions of profits for a limited clique of Anglo-Grecian capitalists, the morale of the Turkish army was essentially different.

The Government of Kemal Pasha is by no means a Communist Government. But it embodies the resistance of the masses of the Turkish people against the capitalist robbers of the West. The concession treaty which Kemal Pasha concluded with the French capitalists in order to split the front of the Entente, leaves the right of self-determination of Turkey, both politically and economically, undisturbed. The Turk, who fought against his debt enslavement has now beaten the Greek slaves of capital.

Kemal Pasha is at present the undisputed master of Asia Minor. But the Turks are not satisfied with this. The National Government of Angora, demands the surrender of Constantinople and the return of the European province of Thrace with Adrianople. The English must, willy-nilly, bury the hope of capturing Asia Minor, but they will sacrifice everything to retain the important position of Constantinople and the Dardanelles. The French capitalists, on their side, will also do everything in their power to manoeuvre the English out of Constantinople. The position of Lloyd George’s Ministry is extremely endangered through the bankruptcy of its oriental policy. The English capitalists are determined to retain Constantinople. But it is very questionable as to what power there is at present behind this will. But should the Turkish troops come to Europe again (even if the English retain certain privileges in the Dardanelles) the effects for the Balkans would be incalculable.

The Cinderella of the Balkan States at present, is Bulgaria, whose governing circles, in all the crises of the last decade, have managed to back the wrong horse with unfailing certainty. If the Turkish Army again occupies Adrianople, Bulgaria will find in it a protection in her rear. The Macedonian question will then again come up, and Bulgarian nationalism will mobilize the “suppressed brethren” against the alien domination of Greece and Jugoslavia.

The French Government, however, has two souls in its bosom. The one desires the complete victory of the Turks over the Anglo-Greek combination, the other, sympathises with the Small Entente which will not permit any strengthening of the Bulgarian position. It shows that the Balkan question today is just as unsolved as it was 50 years ago, and that all the combinations of the ruling classes, and all the intrigues of interested great powers can bring no peace to these countries.

The real solution of the Balkan question will only be brought about by the victory of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution in all the Balkan countries. The revolutionizing of the last has no doubt been accelerated by the recent Turkish victories. In Athens the capitalist and military clique which up to now had control of the helm of state is breaking down under the burden of its responsibilities. The cruelly persecuted Communist Party of Greece now stands before the masses as the only body which correctly judged the course of development. How far the left movement will develop in Athens, cannot be predicted. The radicalization of Greece will also strengthen the revolutionary wing of the Bulgarian workers and peasants. Under the new circumstances it will be more and more difficult for the governing cliques in Roumania and Jugoslavia to maintain the white terror. Hence the stimulating influence which the Turkish victories exercise on the rebellious peoples in the whole of the Orient. In Egypt as well as in Palestine and Mesopotamia the opposition against England is growing. In India, after a long period of apathy, a new uprising of the revolutionary movement is noticeable in the last few weeks. The Orient is no longer as beautifully cut up into spheres of influence as it was in 1919. It was an easy matter to draw the map of the Treaty of Sèvres. But the human beings whom every stroke on the map effected, offered resistance. The national movement of the Orientals bids fair to erase the lines of Sèvres. The lines of Versailles will likewise fade when the resistance of the bartered proletarian masses of central Europe sets in with full force.

Last updated on 3 December 2020