The International Situation and the Red Army

III. The Curzon Ultimatum

Report to the Sixth All-Russia
Congress of Metal-Workers

June 16, 1923

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

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Comrades, there are two questions which are today at the centre of attention in international politics: the Ruhr and the British ultimatum.

I will deal with the latter, because it affects us directly.

The ultimatum with a deadline of ten days, according to Lord Curzon’s calendar, is an ultimatum which was presented on May 5 [sic] [The ultimatum was presented on May 8.], but today, I believe, is June 16, according to us – that is, almost the same amount of time has passed that the Flood lasted, according to the Bible [’And the flood was forty days upon the earth’ (Genesis, 7:17)], and the matter has still not been finally settled.

What, however, is the explanation of this ultimatum which is not quite precise in its time-limit, and what explains the very great compliance shown by us in our reply to this ultimatum?

Here it has to be said, clearly and distinctly, that Britain – I refer, of course, to the bourgeois rulers of Britain – is with this ultimatum remaining true to her traditional policy. She regards even her present struggle against us as, in a certain sense, a continuation of her struggle against Russia generally.

What constitutes today the basic line of British policy? One must not forget that Britain is headed by the most experienced bourgeoisie of all. It is not that every one of its Curzons is a Solomon – that cannot be said – but all the Curzons together have accumulated, over the centuries, the collective wisdom, the collective experience and the collective perfidy of the British ruling classes. The essence of Britain’s policy has always consisted in setting one, stronger state against another, weaker one, and then remaining aloof and offering up prayers to the Lord of imperialism. This has been Britain’s traditional policy over a period of centuries.

Britain was deeply hostile to Tsarist Russia, as well. Britain is an ocean of water, while Russia is an ocean of land, joining Europe to Asia. Britain strives to encircle every continent with the necklace of its ocean, but in Asia she always came up against the imperialist, conquering tendencies of Russian Tsardom. During the Crimean War, in 1855, Britain rallied to the side of Russia’s enemies. During the Russo-Turkish war in 1878 Britain was again on the side of Russia’s enemies. During the Russo-Japanese War Britain sided with Japan. Only in 1907, after the first Russian revolution, did Britain’s policy change. Considering Russia to have been sufficiently weakened by her unsuccessful war with Japan, by the revolution, by internal disorder, and so on, Britain concluded in 1907 the Anglo-Russian agreement on the Persian question, which was the prelude to the Anglo-Russian alliance.

On the eve of the imperialist war, Britain hesitated. Comrades, when the British proletariat open all the steel safes of British diplomacy (if those sly fellows haven’t destroyed them), they will find conclusive proof that Britain wanted the imperialist war more than all the other states. If, on August 1, 1914, Britain had said that she would fight, then neither Germany nor Austria-Hungary would have gone to war, but would have made concessions. [1] If Britain had said that she would not fight, then Russia and France would not have gone to war, but would have sought an agreement. On the eve of the war Britain acted as a provocateur, and in this way brought war upon the European continent. It is the same where the Ruhr is concerned. If Britain had not wanted France to get bogged down in the Ruhr, thereby weakening herself and exhausting Germany, the Ruhr affair would never have occurred. Britain provoked it, Britain wanted it, and now she stands aside, and watches for the right moment to intervene. Remaining aloof and using others to pull one’s chestnuts out of the fire is the essence of the policy of the British bourgeoisie, the most perfidious in the world.

Remember Britain’s policy during the period of the intervention and blockade. All these facts are so fresh in our memories that I shall not enumerate them, although I will not conceal from you that as soon as the ultimatum was received, I instructed our War Department to compile a little list of the things official Britain did to us during the first three years of intervention and blockade. First and foremost, I will recall that during the imperialist war Russia lost 3,080,000 men, whereas Britain lost only 455,000, that is one-sixth the number of Russia’s losses. In order that Lord Curzon might now consider himself powerful enough to present us with a ten-day ultimatum, the blood of more than three million Russian workers and peasants had to be spilt for the glory of British imperialism. We shall present this account one day to the British bourgeoisie. After Britain’s victory had been assured by the deaths of over three million Russian peasants and workers, Britain inaugurated a period of intervention and blockade. It was the same old policy, on both a large and a small scale. Britain was not at war with us, but she did have her expeditionary units at Archangel and Murmansk. For what purpose? In order to conscript Russian peasants and workers there for the White Guards, and to force them to fight against the Red peasants and workers. In the North, in the Archangel-Murmansk area during the occupation, Britain lost no more than ten to fifteen men, but she shot hundreds. [2] British counter-intelligence there had its favourite method: those whom it suspected of lack of sympathy with the Russian bourgeoisie it simply dropped through the ice.

Today Britain is demanding compensation from us for two British citizens, one male and one female. They were engaged here in the most innocent activities: spying, helping to blow up railways, killing Soviet public figures and so on. One of them suffered for it – he was shot (but that is a spy’s occupational hazard), while the other was put in prison. [3] Now we have to pay out 30,000 gold roubles for this lady, and 70,000 as a pension to the heirs of the honourable gentleman. We must acknowledge Lord Curzon’s extreme moderation, for he is not demanding that we pay pensions in the case of the 15 or 30 [sic] British who died in our North.

A couple of words about Britain’s role in Caucasia. We all remember the story of the shooting, at a remote station, of the 26 Bolsheviks who had been brought from Baku, those who have gone down in history as the 26 Baku Commissars. This was done on the order of the British officer Teague-Jones and with the agreement of the British General Thompson. [4] [5] One day we shall demand pensions and compensation in respect of our 26 Baku comrades, who included Comrade Shaumian, an old revolutionary and member of the Central Committee of our Party.

There you have a schematic picture of Britain’s role in the imperialist war and the civil war. Then there was a turn, and they made a trade agreement with us. Why? Under the influence of a most severe crisis and in search of a way out of it. Three million unemployed put a colossal burden on Britain’s budget, and Lloyd George hoped, first, to remedy unemployment, and, second, to be the first to get into Russia and reorganise the country by means of British capital – that is, to shackle Russia economically and turn the country into a colony. About two years have elapsed of this policy of trade. What have they shown? Above all that, economically, we are developing more slowly than the impatient profiteers of the City would have liked, and not along the line they had expected. They had reckoned that the NEP was a capitulation by the Russian proletariat in the sphere of economic construction, but in actual fact it was not. On the other hand, Britain’s economic situation has improved and Anglo-Russian economic relations are at the present moment not such a big factor in Britain’s overall balance of trade.

At the same time we observe the intermittent fever of the bourgeoisie both in international and internal affairs. This must be spoken about precisely and concretely, so that it may be clearly understood that we have now entered an acute and anxious period which menaces us with complications of the order of the British ultimatum, and perhaps even more serious than that. Despite the economic upturn in Britain and, to some extent, in other countries of Europe (I do not speak of America, where the life of capital pulsates more strongly), the basis of the capitalist economy is most vividly expressed in the occupation of the Ruhr, which signifies destruction and, potentially, war. There is no normal capitalist life in Europe, nor even any approximation thereto.

Such a minor fact as the coup d’etat in Bulgaria, of which we have read recently, testifies to the continuation of the intermittent fever of all bourgeois society, at any rate in Europe. [6] At the present time the overthrow of governments by armed counter-revolutionary gangs has become normal procedure in a number of countries. Mussolini, that former renegade Socialist, organises gangs in full view of society, surrounds Rome with them, enters parliament, and announces that he is the master. And the whole world applauds him. Yet, when we dealt energetically with the Constituent Assembly, Europe didn’t like that. I do not wish to put our October seizure of power on the same plane in any way with the Italian coup d’etat. I say this only so as to show how the bourgeoisie of Europe has exposed itself in going over from the piety of Lloyd George to open counter-revolutionary coups d’etat. The Bulgarian coup d’etat took place in the Fascist style. The latest telegrams say that it was organised with direct co-operation from agents of Britain and Italy. And it would be surprising if that had not been so. Today we have received news of a coup d’etat in Persia. British agents work openly in that country. There, too, is Comrade Shumyatsky, whose recall Britain demands. But, under cover of negotiations, Britain has overthrown the national government of Persia, that is, the government based on the undoubted will of the overwhelming majority of the masses, and has established its own agents in power.

The Ruhr affair has not yet exhausted itself. The complications arising from it increase daily, in the form of shootings and arrests. In France there has been an attempt by the Royalists, who have become transformed into French Fascists, to begin, through intimidation, an assault on state power. For the moment this attempt has miscarried. [7] But all these facts are typical of the instability of the situation, both internal and international, all over Europe.

And, at the same time, there are very serious symptoms showing that the bourgeoisie is preparing a new orientation, first in France, then in Britain. In France the Bloc National is in power. What is this Bloc National? It is an extreme organisation of exploiters, a political clique formed by lawyers, which was raised up by the war and brought on the crest of the wave of victory, to a position of undivided political power in that country. But today the illusions of victory, which were sown by the Bloc National, are vanishing among the masses in France, not only among the workers but among the peasants as well, and the bourgeoisie in that country are bringing to the forefront the Left bloc of Radicals and Radical-Socialists, Menshevik Socialists. The next elections, due in eleven or twelve months’ time, will, in all probability, lead inevitably, unless something very serious happens meanwhile in the international situation, to a victory for the Radical-Socialist-reformist bloc, to a local variant of the Kerenskiad, which must inevitably lead to an agreement of one sort or another with Soviet Russia. Individual representatives of this French bloc have already visited us. They particularly approve of our Red Army. They say: it would be good if this army were to join with the French forces in the event of some danger threatening us. One of them was sitting with me when a regiment marched past the window singing For Soviet Power. He started up, listened, and expressed approval. [8] In France, I repeat, an orientation is taking place towards the Left bloc, and this is happening because the Right wing of the bourgeoisie has exhausted its possibilities.

We shall observe in France in the next few years an extremely interesting internal conflict, into which our Communist Party, which is now working there shoulder to shoulder with the revolutionary trade unions, will thrust a sharp wedge. This conflict will lead to a victory for the Left bloc, and this will signify the helplessness of the bourgeoisie, its inability to fight actively against Soviet Russia. A victory for the Left bloc will provide us with serious guarantees of peace on our western frontier.

Nor have the Conservatives in Britain been elected for all time: the Labour Party (that is, the British Mensheviks), the British Liberals, the Independents, in short, everything needed to provide a British Kerenskiad, or Milyukoviad, are bound to succeed the Conservatives, whose Right wing is formed by Lord Curzon’s group. This will happen in a year or two. There can be no doubt that a victory of the Left bloc in France will automatically entail a strengthening of the reformist, Menshevik position in Britain. [9]

In the year that remains before these changes, the Conservative wing of the bourgeoisie will try to exploit a Fascist war against Soviet Russia, which still today, of course, constitutes a fundamental danger in the eyes of the world bourgeoisie, and especially that of Britain. What was Lord Curzon’s task when he presented us with the ultimatum? He hoped that we would make’ in reply, a move which could be interpreted as a slap in the face for the British Government, and which would offend the public opinion of all the British philistines, petty-bourgeois and vulgarians, including those in the British Labour Party and it is said that their proportion is pretty high. But we spotted this artless trap.

We had to force the philistines to understand what was what in this matter, and since their skulls are made of a material which it takes a long time to penetrate, the ten-day limit which Lord Curzon gave us was insufficient. That, comrades, is the explanation of our policy. Our task was to say: Lord Curzon is displaying magnanimity, but we will show ourselves even more magnanimous: Lord Curzon is peaceably disposed, but we are disposed even more peaceably; he does not want war, but we trebly do not want it. That is the meaning of our reply.

Thus we engaged in diplomatic preparatory work, explained our position, and managed to hammer something into them. The first formal result is that there will, apparently, be no rupture of relations. But I regard this result as the least importhe nature of the ruling groups of the British bourgeoisie – there can be no stability in our relations with Britain. Judge for yourselves. During the intervention we shot a British spy, and forgot about it long ago. The trade agreement was signed after this. Now they tell us: pay cash, or we break off trade relations with you. Well, comrades, this is monstrous evidence of the fact that this experienced, clever British bureaucracy [sic] has bad nerves, that it will threaten us with all sorts of extortions and importunities both in the near and in the more distant future. Consequently the present situation does not contain any great guarantees for us as regards stability.

You see, the affair savours not only of a possible rupture of relations with Britain. Take note of the fact that, when Britain wanted to exploit any clumsy, impatient move on our part in order to arouse public opinion against us in Britain, the rulers of France started to court us a little, and this precisely at the moment when the time-limit of the ultimatum ran out. Why was thats comrades? Undoubtedly, so as to encourage us, so that we might know that we have ‘friends’ in Paris – and if we had become overjoyed at having these friends, and had fallen into the trap, Poincaré and Curzon would have splendidly united their forces to jump on our backs.

Not only that: we have Poland and Romania as neighbours, and, despite all Lord Curzon’s affirmations of his peace-loving plans, our ‘friends’ undoubtedly counted on creating military difficulties for us on our Western frontier, and profiting by the short period during which, as I have already mentioned, the ‘national blocs’ will still be in power.

There, comrades, that was our plan, that was the aim we pursued with our policy of concessions. We showed that we are not preparing to launch any campaign against the West, as the Russian White Guards and our foreign foes constantly assert. But our readiness to comply does not in any way mean that we lack the strength which, given the most unfavourable situation, we might use in the event of a challenge from West European imperialism.

The caution we showed on this question has had good educational consequences. It has thwarted the schemes of the bourgeoisie for the present. But in no case can we have complete peace, primarily because, as I have said, the situation in Europe remains unstable, and besides, a gigantic revolutionary process is going on in the East, which worries Britain particularly. The main point of the ultimatum was, by Curzon’s own definition, our so-called propaganda in the East. Curzon’s demand that we end propaganda in the East is, according to accounts by the more perceptive bourgeois publicists, an empty demand by its very nature, for it is not a question of this or that Soviet citizen turning up there, and even occupying an official position, and in this or that statement violating Britain’s right to exploit and plunder the peoples of the East, but of the prospect of our social order, if it behaves itself correctly where the national question is concerned, presenting the maximum mortal threat to every colonial power, and, first and foremost, to the British.

That is why Britain is most of all disturbed by the resolution of the Twelfth Party Congress on the national question. [10] We have developed and refined our national policy and are taking serious measures to implement all aspects of it, especially in such countries of the Soviet Union as Turkestan and Azerbaidjan, where it possessed great demonstrative importance for the East. In particular, we shall try to implement this policy – which we are implementing so far as our possibilities, our resources and practices permit – in the sphere of army-building as well. We are setting ourselves the task of ensuring that, in a few years’ time, Turkestan shall be defended primarily by Turkestani troops – troops who will be consciously defending their own republic: and the fact that, next door to Afghanistan, which is supposed to be independent but has, in reality, been enslaved by Britain, there will exist a Turkestan which is developing to an ever greater extent upon its own national foundations, will be a fact of very great importance. That is the matter to which we are directing our greatest attention and effort, and from it, of course, we shall not be deflected by any ultimatum.

The processes of emancipation of the oppressed peoples, comrades, are taking place less rapidly than we should have liked. It is therefore necessary that in the forthcoming period, which will be a very acute and feverish one, we do everything to ensure that our army is not weakened, but strengthened. Despite the fact that we are concentrating our attention and our forces principally, at present, on the economic revival of our country, at the same time we have taken the first step towards reconstructing our army on militia principles.

One-fifth of an infantry division will henceforth consist of units in which only the permanent element, that is, the commanders, the political, administrative and supply personnel, and the auxiliary services will form the cadre, the armature, while the transient element, the soldiers, will be drawn into this armature only from time to time, without being detached from their factories and villages, in order to be welded together and trained. In this consists the essence of the militia system. It brings the army close to the foci of the economy, to the factories, it combines the soldier with the worker more closely than hitherto in our army. The militia system imposed new tasks on the trade unions. Since the first day of the revolution our trade unions have put immense energy into the work of developing the Red Army. Today this bond between the trade unions and the army is expressed in patronage, which has not always assumed the proper forms here, but has always played an enormous moral, educative and political role. Under the militia system the bond between proletarian and soldier must be still closer and more direct, and we must work out forms and methods for direct participation by the trade unions, in the persons of their central and local organs, in building the armed forces of the militia. The attestation of the commanding and political personnel, the attestation of the soldiers, their evaluation, their grouping, must, in certain of their aspects, enter into the everyday work of the trade unions, so that the army may be, in the true sense of the word, an organ of the organised working class. That is the first task which we must accomplish together, and which I do not doubt that we shall accomplish. But the transformation of the Red Army into a militia army will be carried out gradually. After the first fifth we shall proceed to a second fifth, when this reform has shown its viability and power.

In order to strengthen the army we need aircraft. This idea has been sufficiently popularised by our press, and I shall not dwell upon it. I might merely offer this advice once more, comrades – in connection with every event in international life, every blow, shove and even major flick dealt us, let us cut, so to speak, a notch in our memory. They presented us with an ultimatum – right, we will build a squadron of aeroplanes and name it ‘Ultimatum’. There is a coup d’etat in Bulgaria – we will create another squadron, or one aeroplane, and, if Comrade Chicherin gives his permission, name it ‘Red Bulgaria’. If, to all the offensives by the bourgeoisie, we reply by building aeroplanes then, maybe, one of these days we shall in this way put an end to such offensives.

Comrades, in order that work on the development of aviation and all our military technique may be possible and fruitful, we need to develop industry, and, above all, that industry which wrests iron-ore from the earth, and by means of coal transforms it into metal. We are in devilish need of metal, we have too little of it. Instead of saying all that which I said to you about international politics one might answer the question why Curzon sent us his ultimatum by saying: because in America they produce, let’s say, 20 poods [720 lb] of cast iron per head of population, whereas here we produced, before the war, one pood 32 lb [68 lb], and today we produce 14 lb. I think that every worker in our country and, especially, every metal-worker ought to know these figures. We have too little metal; and modern culture, modern technique is a technique of metal.

Our metal industry continues to be in a very grave situation, not through the fault of the trade unions which lead it, but because of our general poverty: we are building our economy by new methods, on new foundations, but these methods are as yet very poor. It is an undoubted fact that the trade unions have succeeded in ensuring that the worker now devotes to production almost the same amount of living energy, of his nerves and muscles, as he devoted before the war. The intensity of labour approximates in most branches of industry, including the metal industry, to its pre-war level; but the objective productivity of labour per individual worker comes, probably, to only 12-15 per cent, and when measured in relation to equipment it is a great deal less. What is happening here? We are conducting an extensive economy where industry is concerned. By an extensive economy we mean one in which man, in using the resources of nature, applies an insufficient quantity of technique, of capital, and gets from nature one-fifth or one-tenth of what nature could actually give him. It is impossible to continue for long with such a way of conducting the economy. We cannot demand that the working class shall, during five or ten years, devote 100 per cent of its productive energy if we do not learn to adapt the means of production, raw material and labour power to the object of production. Concentration of production and proper internal organisation – that is the central task, fulfilment of which will decide our whole fate, and it is no less a revolutionary task than was, in October, the fight to take state power from the bourgeoisie.

We have to reconstruct in that direction all our educational work, agitation and propaganda, our press, and not only the trade union press, which is closest to production, but the press in general: but we must do this not in the sense of issuing appeals but through proper, systematic education, based concretely on the conditions of each branch of production. I spoke recently with a group of comrades who are directly connected with the lower ranks of the workers and their everyday work. They said: ‘The worker of today strives to increase his qualification, he is interested in the technique of production, and so he looks around for textbooks.’ Have we got textbooks? No, we have not. And we need now to establish, first and foremost, workers’ libraries in which workers who are interested in their own branch of production and who want to rise to a higher level in it can find the manuals they need. Our task has now become, as Comrade Lenin excellently expressed it in his last article, one of cultural, educational work – we are now, through partial efforts, bit by bit, building a new way of life upon the revolutionary foundations we have conquered. [13] Cultural, educational work means, in other words, giving very close attention to all the trifles of everyday life and the technique of production in all its aspects. It is therefore necessary that, in mass work, and, especially, in your own branch of production, which is essentially advanced, the worker shall receive from his trade union and from the leading organs of the Communist Party, not only books that will teach him how to produce and help him to improve himself in that line, but also books that will enlighten him with regard to all aspects of his everyday life. In the period now behind us, all questions apart from those directly connected with the revolutionary struggle were pushed into the background, but now the working class, followed by the peasantry, will expect from us, and in the first place from the trade unions, answers to all the problems of life. Here we have, on the one hand, the church, with priest and censer, and, on the other, the trade union. Can the trade union explain and show to the worker his place in the universe, in production and in the workshop? Can it elevate and ennoble his interests, beautify his life? In order to learn to do that we must gradually get to grips with the trifles of everyday life, giving them expression in our press in a more attentive, careful and skilful way than hitherto. If I am to finish on this subject, comrades, I will say over again: all this will be done successfully only in so far as our economy is raised up, only in so far as the productivity of labour per unit of equipment and per unit of labour power is increased, and this in its turn, will be possible only if work is properly, scientifically organised.

At the basis of our work and of its scientific organisation in the epoch we live in lies metal. Our old Russian culture, or, more correctly, lack of culture, was built on straw and wooden planks. Today we need metal, and we shall need more and more of it as time goes on, for, even in the sphere of building, our epoch is one of iron, concrete and glass. It has to be said that our old character, especially the peasant-like, diffuse, formless character of the Russian people, was also a little lacking in metal. You know the role that is played by iron in a man’s blood. If there is too little iron in his blood, he is in a bad way. Our economy is short of iron, and there is too little iron in the blood vessels of our economic organism. More metal for the national economy! More metal for the national character! Long live metal!

From the stenogram of the 6th Congress of Metal-Workers


1. The attitude of Britain to the Austro-Serbian conflict which served as the occasion for the world war was at first one of indifference. Britain rallied to the side of Russia and France only after the opening of hostilities, motivating her action by Germany’s violation of Belgian neutrality.

2. According to W.P. and Z.K. Coates, Armed Intervention in Russia (1935), p.174, the total number of British servicemen who lost their lives in North Russia was 327. Of these, 194 were killed in action. (Martin Gilbert, Churchill, Vol.IV, 1975, p.383.)

3. A British businessman named Davison was arrested in Russia in 1920 and accused of involvement in a commercial swindle: as, it was alleged, some of the profits went to finance spying activity, Davison was shot. When Chicherin asked for the papers of this case he was told by the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs that they had been lost during the reorganisation of the Cheka into the GPU. Mrs Stan Harding, a British journalist, was arrested in 1920 on a charge of spying, and held until March 1921. She denied the charge and claimed that she had been falsely accused by a real spy, an American. The National Union of Journalists agitated for compensation to be paid to her. See her account of her experiences, The Underworld of State (1925), with an introduction by Bertrand Russell.

4. Twenty-six Baku Communists were shot on September 20, 1918, after the overthrow of Soviet power in Baku. [11]

5. In Soviet accounts given of the fate of the 26 ‘Baku Commissars’, the British General mentioned in connection with the killings is General Malleson, who was Captain Teague Jones’s superior officer. General Thomson (not ‘Thompson’) comes into the story only at a later stage, in 1919, when, as British Military Governor of Transcaucasia, he refused to take seriously the allegation by the SR Vadim Chaikin that Teague Jones had ordered the killings. Trotsky was doubtless speaking from memory. A later Soviet writer on this affair, presumably confused by Trotsky’s error, invents a British general named ‘Malleson-Thompson’.

6. The Bulgarian Government of Stambulisky, the leader of the Peasants’ Party, was overthrown by the reserve officers’ organisation, supported by military units. Stambulisky was taken prisoner and, a few days later, killed. After the coup d’etat the reactionary Tsankov government was formed.

7. After one of their leaders had been murdered, militants of the French Royalist organisation Action Française sacked the printing-works of three Left-wing papers and beat up three left-wing deputies.

8. The French Radical politician Herriot, leader of the Left bloc (in French political jargon, the Cartel des Gauches), describes in La Russia Nouvelle (1922), pp.157-158, how, while he was interviewing Trotsky in his office in Moscow, soldiers marched past, singing, under the window.

9. In December 1923 a general election in Britain brought the Labour Party into office, and in May 1924 a general election in France resulted in the formation of a Left bloc government under Herriot.

10. The resolution of the Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) on the national question [12], after condemning the survivals of great-power chauvinism and also the survivals of nationalism among the peoples which had suffered from national oppression, indicated the following as practical measures for regulating the national question: (a) that, in establishing the central organs of the Soviet Union, equality of rights and duties of the republics be ensured, both in relations between themselves and in their relations with the central government of the Union; (b) that within the system of supreme organs of the Union a special organ be instituted representing on a basis of equality all the national republics and national regions without exception, possible provision being made for the representation of all nationalities forming part of these republics; (c) that the executive organs of the Union be so constructed as to ensure real participation by the representatives of the peoples of the Union and the satisfaction of their needs and requirements; (d) that the republics be granted sufficiently wide financial and, in particular, budgetary powers to enable them to exercise their own intiative in matters of state administration, culture and economy; (e) that the organs of the national republics and regions be recruited predominantly from among the local inhabitants acquainted with the language, way of life, manners and customs of the peoples concerned; (f) that special legislation be promulgated providing that, in all state organs and in all institutions serving the local population and the national minorities, their own language be employed, and that all violators of national rights, in particular the rights of national minorities, be punished with full revolutionary severity; (g) that educational work in the Red Army be intensified in the spirit by instilling the idea of brotherhood and solidarity between the peoples of the Union, and that practical measures be taken to organise national military units, all necessary steps being taken fully to ensure the republics’ capacity for defence.

11. The 26 ‘Baku Commissars’, who were not all commissars, were not all Communists, either: one was a Left SR, and another a Left Dashnak. Soviet power had been overthrown in Baku in July; the 26 were killed in Transcaspia when they fled from the city, where they had been in prison, in September, after its capture by the Turks.

12. An English translation of the whole of the 12th Congress resolution on National Factors in Party and State Development is given on pages 279-287 of Stalin, Marxism and the National and Colonial Question (London, 1936).

13. In his article on co-operation, published in Pravda of May 27, 1923, Comrade Lenin wrote: ‘The radical modification is this: formerly we placed, and had to place, the main emphasis on the political struggle, on revolution, on winning political power, etc. Now the emphasis is changing, and shifting to peaceful organisational, “cultural” work. I should say the emphasis is shifting to educational work [kulturnichesivo] ...’[14]

14. Lenin goes on:‘... were it not for our international relations, were it not for the fact that we have to fight for our position on a world scale. If we leave that aside, however, and confine ourselves to internal economic relations, the emphasis in our work is certainly shifting to education.’ (Collected Works, 4th edition, English version, Vol.33, p.474)

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Last updated on: 31.12.2006