Various Subjects

Interview Given to the British
Correspondent Mr Farbman

(An abridged version of this interview appeared in the Manchester Guardian, September 27, 1920.)

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Our military situation in mid-August was not so triumphant as leading circles in the bourgeois states supposed. At the present time our military situation is far from being so lamentable as is supposed by these same circles. In our present war, which is being carried on over an immense territory, involving a number of soldiers which is small in relation to this territory, even very considerable changes in the line of the front can have no decisive significance. During our July offensive we did not destroy the enemy’s fighting force but merely inflicted serious losses upon it and gained a large amount of territory. During their August and September counter-offensive the Polish army did not succeed in destroying our fighting force, but merely inflicted serious losses upon it and recovered part of the area mentioned. The Polish army still exists, and retains its fighting capacity. But our army also still exists, and is fully capable of fighting. Its forces are steadily increasing.

We went into the war with Poland from a period in which the army and industry were being demobilised. We were trying to devote all our forces to the country’s economic revival. We had achieved notable successes in this direction, especially in the sphere of transport, which was, last winter, in the opinion of many observers, in a hopeless condition, but greatly improved during the spring and summer, and continues to improve.

We were compelled to fight, despite the very big concessions that we offered to the Polish government before war broke out. We tried to attain peace through a decisive offensive. This attempt did not fully succeed. We showed White Poland our strength, but we did not destroy the forces of White Poland.

Furthermore, we were compelled to retreat. Workers’ and Peasants’ Russia does not become intoxicated in time of victory and does not lose her head in time of reverses. Now, just as when we stood before the gates of Warsaw, our object remains the attainment of peace, and we are again offering Poland very favourable conditions, such as, probably, none of the leading powers of the Entente expected. Blind and stupid persons are to be found who will interpret our peace conditions as evidence of our weakness. As a matter of fact, it is precisisely the generosity of the concessions we offer that will double and treble the willingness to fight of all the working people of Russia, for if White Poland refuses peace on these foundations, then it will be clear to the most backward and ignorant peasant in the remotest uyezd of the most benighted province that it is not possible to make peace with White Poland without a fight to the finish.

Will our offer bring peace? I do not know. I am much afraid that they don’t know in Warsaw, either. Over there, instructions from Paris and London are awaited. In Paris they know very well what they want, namely, to ruin, bleed and destroy Russia and turn her into a colony. I am much afraid, though, that in London they do not know what they want – least of all, Mr Lloyd George.

If they give us peace, the coming winter will again be a period of intense economic labour. The principal forces of the War Department will be switched to work for improving our transport system, for ensuring that industry gets the fuel and raw material it needs. If they do not give us peace, we shall fight, and I have no doubt that we shall win.

You ask me about the relation between our military operations, our diplomatic activity and the development of the revolution in Europe and throughout the world. This is an extremely complex question. We Marxists regard the coming of the revolution as inevitable, owing to the whole structure of society. The pace at which the revolution will develop cannot be predicted. It is, of course, no secret from anyone that we are interested in seeing the working class come to power in all countries. Nevertheless, if Mr Churchill and his like consider that the Soviet power is nothing other than an organisation for international revolutionary conspiracy, that is to be explained by their political illiteracy. We do not at all consider that history has imposed on workers’ and peasants’ Russia the duty to carry out the revolution in all countries. More precisely, we think that workers’ and peasants’ Russia can at present render its greatest service to the world working class by concentrating all its efforts upon intensive economic and cultural work. It is just this intensive work of economic rehabilitation and cultural expansion that will, better than anything else, demonstrate to all mankind the enormous potentialities inherent in the working class, and convince them that communism is not so much a destructive as a creative force. That is why, without inconsistency and without either cherishing any illusions as to the attitude of the bourgeoisie towards us or trying to deceive them as to our real physiognomy, we can honestly pledge ourselves not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, provided that they leave us in peace, for we have such great confidence in the logic of historical development, on the one hand, and on the other, in our own capacity for internal economic work.

September 24, 1920

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006