Various Subjects

Communication to Representatives of the Soviet Press

November 29, 1920

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

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(1) To the question about the situation at the front I must reply that, at the present time, we have no active fronts. Wrangel has been liquidated in the South, Petlyura and Balakhovich [1] in the West, and the remains of Semyonov’s forces have been destroyed in the Far East. This is, perhaps, the first moment of military quiet in the three years that the Soviet power has existed. No fighting is going on. Operational reports from the front speak only of organisational work in the newly-cleared regions, and of the counting of trophies. [2]

(2) How long will this period last? On that point you should seek information beyond the bounds of the Soviet republic – in those chancelleries and headquarters where all the conspiracies, attacks and campaigns against Soviet Russia are fabricated. We want a protracted and stable peace, just as we wanted this before the Polish offensive, when we offered big concessions, and just as we offered an amnesty to the Wrangelites, in view of the utter hopelessness of their enterprise. In Paris and London they did not want peace. The result was that, after bitter conflict and countless losses, Poland obtained less than we had offered on the eve of her attack upon us. Then Wrangel’s adventure absorbed several tens of thousands of lives and several milliard francs. And the result was that the Wrangelites were destroyed – without any amnesty, of course.

(3) What do I see as the main task of the moment? Tasks in the sphere of the economy. Not long ago, as perhaps you know, I returned from the Donets Basin, where, with a commission from the Council of People’s Commissars, I inspected the situation of the coal and metallurgical industries. I became convinced that now, when nobody threatens the Donets Basin, either from the Crimean or from the Caucasian direction, it is completely possible to increase twofold or threefold the output of coal, during the next few months. I consider that the measures which the Government has taken will ensure this result. We shall set the mighty iron and steel works of the South in motion. Railway transport will recover. The country’s entire attention is being switched from problems of politics and war to problems of economic construction. We are greatly interested in international trade, but we are even more interested in being left in peace. On that condition we can undertake not to unsheath our sword.

(4) What are our purely military tasks? These consist in effecting a substantial reduction in the size of the army while at the same time increasing its combat capacity. The capitalist press has told its readers that the Red Army is breaking up, that Comrade Budyonny has betrayed us, and so on. It may be that there are still to be found in Europe or in America boneheads that continue to believe such cock-and-bull stories. In reality, in the operations against Wrangel, the Red Army rose to a new height, both in strategy and tactics and in the heroism of the fighting men. Our infantry was particularly successful. We have to pay close attention to military technology. Among the numerous trophies taken by us on the Polish and Wrangel fronts we found nothing that we did not ourselves possess.

5) You ask about Caucasia and the Near East. Our policy on the Caucasian frontier is the same as on the Dniester and the Narova. It is a policy of peace. The statesmen of the capitalist countries, despite all their (a thousand pardons) obtuseness where questions of revolution and socialism are concerned, ought to understand that ur profound interests (political, economic and cultural) demand of us a policy of peace and intense labour.

(6) You have reminded me that Lloyd George expressed confidence that the Soviet regime would soon fall, since ‘such a crazy regime cannot last long’. Allow me, first of all, to note the persistence with which certain statesmen practise the trade of being bad prophets. As for our ‘crazy regime’, it is really very difficult to say anything in its defence. It is the case that our state is not beaded by an hereditary monarch, such as you find in well-ordered countries. Consequently, we lack court life, with its ennobling influence on the people. We have no princes, marshals, viscounts, peers, generals or high-placed scoundrels in judges’ ceremonial robes. We have no House of Lords – those lords whom Mr Lloyd George described in 1908 as the parasitic descendants of idlers and parasites, but who nevertheless continue even today to adorn certain civilised states. We have no bankers, capitalists, or usurers, such as, in accordance with all the rules of rational and moral civilisation, profiteer feverishly in wartime. We do not even have any professional parliamentarians, who, every five years, oblige the exploited masses to vote for one or other of the existing bourgeois electoral machines. Here, all the legislative and executive organs of the republic are subordinate to the congress of soviets which is meeting this month, with its one thousand worker-and-peasant members. Our task is to improve the well-being and the enlightenment of our country on the basis of equality and solidarity between all members of society as regards both labour and enjoyment. We want peace, and we defend ourselves when we are attacked. It is quite understandable that our order of things seems to some people to be a ‘crazy regime’.


1. Bulak-Balakhovich was an officer who joined the Red Army in 1918 but later went over to the Whites. He took part in Yudenich’s attack on Petrograd in the summer of 1919, but quarrelled with Yudenich and went to Poland. There he took command of a Russian force formed on Polish soil by Savinkov, which participated in the Soviet-Polish war and fought on after the armistice, but was beaten in November 1920.

2. By the end of 1920 all the active fronts of the civil war had been liquidated. Only in the Far East did the young units of the Revolutionary People’s Army carry on through 1921-1922 continual skirmishes with counter-revolutionary detachments organised with Japanese aid. It was not until October 25, 1922, after Japan had evacuated the Maritime province, that Vladivostok was occupied by units of the Far Eastern Republic’s army. In South Russia, in the Tambov region, along the Western frontier, and in Turkestan, the year 1921 saw only bandit revolts (for more details of which, see Vol.IV). The Civil War with the regular forces of the White Guards on Russian territory ended with the defeat of Wrangel in November 1920.

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006