Leon Trotsky

Between Red and White

Manifesto of the Congress
of the Georgian Soviets
to Workers of the World

We, the representatives of the toiling masses assembled at the First Congress of the Georgian Soviets, send our fraternal greetings to all the oppressed workers struggling against the exploiters of the whole world, and we protest indignantly against the oppressors and their servants who, under false pretence of sympathizing with ‘Independent Georgia’, are even today preparing a fresh attack against the workers’ and peasants’ power which we have secured. Georgia was a part of the Tsar’s Empire – chained to it by the bonds of violence and oppression. In complete accord with the working class of the whole of Russia, the toiling masses of Georgia have for a series of years struggled relentlessly against Tsarist autocracy, the big landlords and bourgeois exploitation. Owing to a lack of political experience on the part of the toiling masses, the leadership in the struggle for a number of years had passed into the hands of the Georgian petty bourgeois intellectuals. These, under the banner of Menshevism, weakened the struggle of the working masses by trying to compromise and negotiate with the autocracy and land-lords, and especially with the bourgeoisie.

During the imperialist war, the ruling Menshevik party in Georgia poured into the conscience of the toiling masses the poison of bourgeois patriotism, in this way acting in agreement with the traitor leaders of the Second International.

When Tsarism was overthrown by the March revolution in 1917, the middle class Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties came to power for a while in the whole of Russia. An important role among them was played by the leaders of Georgian Menshevism, Chkheidze, Tseretelli and others.

In the sphere of international politics the watchwords of the Mensheviks, as well as all the rest of the petty bourgeois parties, was to continue the war on the side of the imperialist nations of the Entente.

In the social domain the Mensheviks strove to uphold the bourgeois order.

Politically they deemed it necessary to mask the bourgeois rule under the name of ‘democratic republic’, which world experience has shown to be nothing but a tool in the hands of the ruling capitalist clique.

In their national policy the Mensheviks were at one with all the bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties in fighting decisively against the national demands of the Finns, the Ukrainians, and other nationalities that were shut up in the Tsarist prisons.

In Georgia herself they hampered with all possible means the struggle of the toiling masses against their oppressors, hindered the solution of the agrarian question, kept at their service officials who had been employed by the Tsar’s government, etc.

In full accord with the avowed bourgeois press, Menshevik papers centred all their efforts on a campaign of calumny against the Bolsheviks, misrepresenting them in the eyes of the workers and peasants as enemies of the revolution and Tsarist agents. Never in the history of political struggles has there been a campaign of lies more base, more spiteful, than this.

After the almost bloodless Petrograd October revolution, which overthrew the decayed government of Kerensky and Tseretelli, the Mensheviks took the lead in the civil war that united into one common camp against the workers’ and peasants’ Soviets, all the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Cadets, and the ‘Black Hundred’ in the country. When all obstacles had been overcome and the workers were victorious in almost the whole of Russia, the Georgian Mensheviks severed the whole of Trans-Caucasia from the Soviet Republic and tried to make it an independent bourgeois state. Having broken off their ties with the Russian working class, they went hand in hand with the bourgeois and landlord clique as represented by the Georgian Nationalists, the Armenian ‘Dashnaks’, and the Azerbaijan Musavatists. Under Menshevik leadership all Trans-Caucasia was converted into counterrevolutionary trenches to crush the growing workers’ and peasants’ revolution.

Thus under the Menshevik leadership a dictatorship of the exploiters over the workers was set up in Trans-Caucasia, which was separated from Russia not on a national but a class ground. The Mensheviks seized the administrative and police apparatus, they set the tone to all Trans-Caucasia, and their control of Georgia was unchallenged.

The intervention of the Turks and Germans in Trans-Caucasia sharpened the struggle between the different national factions of the bourgeois and middle-class front. The Mensheviks deemed this moment favourable for dismembering Trans-Caucasia and proclaiming the apparent independence of Georgia. Seeing that they were well protected against the northern danger by the Kaiser’s and the Sultan’s troops, the Mensheviks ruthlessly suppressed the workers’ strikes and peasant revolts which were continually breaking out in different parts of the country. Just as the Georgian Mensheviks – in the persons of Chkheidze and Tseretelli – previously attempted to suppress the autonomy of the Finnish and Ukrainian peoples, they fought now with sword and fire in Georgia against the national tendencies of the Abkhasians, the Adjarians, and the Ossetians.

With the collapse of German militarism, Menshevik Georgia changed her masters, but not her international or home policy. This time the Mensheviks became a tool in the hands of the Entente imperialists. They maintained constant relations with all the counter-revolutionary forces in the South of Russia. They did not refrain from employing a single measure which could prejudice Russia and do her harm. Naturally the Communist Party was definitively driven underground, while the secret police worked to the greater glory of the bourgeois republic.

During the occupation of Batumi by the British troops, the Georgian Mensheviks’ policy towards Soviet Russia was especially insolent and provocative, and ‘democratic Georgia’ was certainly the best neighbour Denikin could have wished for his campaign.

His defeat at the hand of the Red Armies and the approach of the latter troops to the Trans-Caucasian frontier, at the beginning of 1920, shook the fictitious rule of the Nationalist Party. A strong revolutionary spirit swept over the toiling masses. The Red Army might already at that time have entered Georgia as long-wished liberators from the yoke of the Mensheviks and the Entente. The class-conscious workers and peasants looked forward to the Red troops and called loudly to the Soviet Government for their help. But, unwilling to shed the blood of the workers and peasants, and acting upon their desire to establish a solid peace between the workers and peasants of Georgia and Russia, the Russian Soviet Government stopped the march of the Red Army on Georgia, and in May, 1920, signed a treaty of peace.

But from the very first day of signing the treaty the Mensheviks began to violate it systematically. They began openly and secretly to assist all the enemies of Soviet Russia with the hope that the Soviet government would soon fall and that the workers’ and peasants’ revolution in Russia would be finally crushed. These gentlemen, however, were cruelly mistaken.

The end of the Polish war and the defeat of Wrangel in the autumn of 1920 caused the inevitable collapse of the Georgian wing of the counterrevolutionary front. Taught by the experience of the agreement with the Georgian Mensheviks which they had so perfidiously and with unprecedented treachery broken – the Russian Soviet Republic could not, of course, stand aside from this struggle which the Georgian toiling masses conducted against the Georgian Menshevik government, and it was only natural that the workers and peasants of the Soviet Federation should come to the help of the Georgian masses who had revolted against the bourgeois and the landlords.

The Red troops came as liberators into a country in the throes of revolution. The great majority of the National Georgian Army created by the Mensheviks refused to fight against the Red troops, and instead fraternized with them. Branded by their betrayal of the revolution, the Menshevik Government was overthrown and fled to the Entente ships, carrying away with them the funds of the Georgian people.

This money is now being used to pay for the lies directed against the federated Soviet Republics and the Red Army.

The leaders of the Second International, Kautsky, Henderson, MacDonald, Huysmans, and many others, and all the chorus of the leading imperialist politicians and the press of the international Stock Exchange, express their ardent sympathy with the Georgian ‘democracy’ crushed – as they allege – by Soviet imperialism. But we, who represent the genuine toiling masses of Georgia, we, the Georgian workers and peasants who have met at this Congress of the Soviets – we nail to the pillar of infamy this shameful international comedy of lies. We reject the hypocritical sympathy of Henderson and Vandervelde with the same scornful indignation as we reject the compassion of their lords and masters – the British and French bankers.

The capitalist and social democratic protectors of the Georgian Mensheviks propose to go to the population and organize in Georgia a referendum of the same type as the Entente organized or was going to do in Silesia, Eastern Galicia, Lithuania, Armenia, etc. There is no need to say that the result of such a referendum would be a foregone conclusion to those who deem it necessary to organize a democratic travesty of the people’s will. The toiling masses of Georgia have long ago voiced their true feeling – first by a series of uninterrupted revolts against the Mensheviks, then at elections to the urban and rural Soviets, and now at the All-Georgian Congress of the Soviets of the toiling masses. This is the most correct and true expression of the political experience, feelings and wishes of the toiling people of Georgia.

We need the Red Army so long as the existence of the Soviet Republic is threatened, and until the workers of the world overthrow the power of the rapacious imperialists and create real guarantees for a peaceful and fraternal co-operation of all the peoples. We – the Georgian workers and peasants – together with the workers and peasants of all the Soviet Republics, and with the Red Army itself eagerly look forward to the day when the final defeat of imperialism will allow us to demobilize the Red Army and let our brothers return to their peaceful labour in the fields and workshops.

Working men and women, peasants, workers of Europe and all the world! Do not believe the lies and calumnies of our – and also your – enemies. Hear the voice of your brothers, the workers and peasants of Georgia. The Red Army is not the tool of foreign oppression but our own instrument in the struggle for the emancipation of the toilers. The regiments that comprise it include representatives of all the people of the great Soviet Federation, and are animated by the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity. The Red Army knows no national divisions, or national struggle. It defends equally the interests of the toilers of all countries. By their campaign of lies, paid for with the funds stolen by them from the people, the bankrupt Mensheviks and agents of the Entente – Messrs. Zhordania, Tseretelli, Chkheidze – are trying to create favourable conditions for a new military intervention of foreign imperialists in Trans-Caucasia. Zhordania at the same time appeals to the imperialist Supreme Council and the Yellow Social-Democratic International. As for us, we call to the toiling masses of Europe and the whole world to put up a revolutionary resistance against the new attempts of the imperialists and their flunkeys of all kinds and descriptions.

Advanced workers! Tell the workers all the world over that for the first time in Georgian history the power in the country belongs to the workers and peasants. This power we hold firmly, and we surrender it to none. Before all the workers and peasants of the world we declare that, during their three and a half years’ rule, the Mensheviks did nothing for the Georgian workers. Nor had the Georgian peasant received the land promised him by the Mensheviks. The Mensheviks during all the time they held power were unable to restore international or internal peace in the country. Owing to their policy they made enemies not only of Soviet Russia, but also of the neighbouring republics. And – worst of all – they rendered extremely acute the relations between the different nationalities in their own country. Many a bloody conflict inside Georgia was due to their nationalist and jingo policy.

The Soviet power on the contrary has already in a very brief space of time solved the most crucial questions. The toilers have already received the land, there is no more exploitation in the sphere of agriculture, national peace between all nationalities has been restored at home, and peaceful brotherly relations have been established with the Soviet and non-Soviet states surrounding Georgia. During the one year that the Soviets have held power in Georgia, external peace and calm within the country have not been disturbed for a single moment.

We wish to live in peace and fraternal co-operation with all peoples. We are reconstructing our economic life which was destroyed by long years of imperialist and civil war, and declare without hesitation that we shall soon triumph on the economic front just as we have already triumphed on the civil war fronts.

Intelligent and honest soldiers and sailors of all countries! Tell and explain to your brothers that the road to the restoration of bourgeois Georgia cannot be beaten out in any other way than across the corpses of the Georgian workers and peasants. We shall rise as one man with the cry of ‘Liberty or Death’ against any attempt at restoring the miserable and odious rule of Menshevik pseudo-democracy. Our alliance with Soviet Armenia, Soviet Azerbaijan, and the whole Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic has been consolidated and shall never be shaken.

Workers, men and women, and labouring peasants of Europe and all other countries! We send this fraternal appeal to you, calling upon the feeling of solidarity and fraternal unity of the labouring masses of all countries.

Long live Soviet Power! Long live the world proletarian revolution!

The Praesidium of the Congress:– Makharadze, Mdivani, Dumbadze, Orakhelashvili, Toroshelidze, Gegechkori, Todria, Gagloev, Lakoba, Blonti, Okuashvili, Papiashvili, Varvara, Ohudzhava, Mamulin, Sturua, Khimshiashvili, Varamishvili, Nazaretian.

Tbilisi, February 26th, 1922

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Last updated on: 3.1.2007