Leon Trotsky

Between Red and White

Myth and Reality

How do the overthrown Mensheviks and their diverse patrons picture the fate of Georgia? Something of a myth has been created around it, calculated to deceive simpletons; and simpletons do exist in this world.

The Georgian people, by their own free will, so the myth commences, decided, in a peaceful and friendly manner, to separate from Russia. This decision the Georgian people expressed by a democratic vote. At the same time, it inscribed on its banner the programme of absolute neutrality in international relations. Neither in thought nor in deed did Georgia interfere in the Russian civil war. Neither the Central Empires nor the Entente could divert her from this path of neutrality. Her motto was: ‘Live and let live’! Hearing of this righteous land, several pilgrims of the Second International, known for their piety – Vandervelde, Renaudel, and Mrs. Snowden -immediately booked a direct passage to it. Immediately after them followed Kautsky, bent with age and wisdom. All these, like the apostles of old, conversed in tongues they did not understand and saw visions which they afterwards described in articles and books. Kautsky on his return journey from Tbilisi to Vienna unceasingly sang the psalm: ‘Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace ... for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.’

Hardly had these pilgrims managed to bring these good tidings to their flocks, however, than a terrible thing happened. Without any cause, Soviet Russia threw her army against peaceful neutral and democratic Georgia and ruthlessly suppressed this social-democratic republic, so wholeheartedly beloved by the masses of the people. The cause of this unexampled outrage is to be sought in the imperialism and Bonapartism of the Soviet Government, and particularly in its hatred of the democratic successes of the Georgian Mensheviks. This is about all the myth contains: what follows further are apocalyptic prophesies of the inevitable fall of the Bolsheviks, and of how the Mensheviks will rise in their glory.

Karl Kautsky has written a pious tract devoted to the establishment of this myth. [1] The resolution of the Second International on Georgia, the articles in The Times, the speeches of Vandervelde, the undoubted sympathies of the Belgian Queen, and the writings of Hervé and Merrheim, are all based on this myth. The only reason why a Papal Encyclical has not been published is the untimely death of Benedict XV. Let us hope that his successor will make good this omission.

We must declare, however, that, while the myth about Georgia does not lack poetic dignity, nevertheless, like all myths, it is contrary to facts. To be precise, the Georgian myth is a lie, which must be attributed not to the creative effort of the people, but to the machine production of the capitalist press. Lies, and nothing but lies, are at the basis of the frenzied anti-Soviet agitation in which the leaders of the Second International played the first fiddle. We shall prove this point by point.

* * *

Mr. Henderson first heard of the existence of Georgia from Mrs. Snowden, and Mrs. Snowden became acquainted with the activities of Zhordania and Tseretelli during her educational tour in Batumi and Tbilisi.

As for ourselves, we knew the gentlemen before, not as the lords of independent democratic Georgia, of which they never dreamed, but as Russian politicians in Petrograd and Moscow. Chkheidze became the head of the Petrograd Soviet and subsequently of the Central Executive Committee of Soviets, during the period of Kerensky, when the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries dominated the Soviets. Tseretelli was a Minster in the Kerensky government and the inspirer of the policy of compromise. [2] Chkheidze, Dan, and others served as intermediaries between the Menshevik Soviet and the Coalition Government. Gegechkori and Chkhenkeli carried out responsible tasks for the Provisional Government. Chkhenkeli was its plenipotentiary in the Trans-Caucasus.

The position of the Mensheviks fundamentally was as follows: the revolution must preserve its bourgeois character; for that reason the bourgeoisie must remain at its head; the function of the coalition between the socialists and the bourgeoisie should be to accustom the masses of the people to the domination of the bourgeoisie; for the proletariat to strive to capture power is fatal to the revolution; ruthless war must be declared against the Bolsheviks, said the ideologists of the bourgeois republic. Chkheidze and Tseretelli as well as all their friends, irreconcilably insisted on the unity and integrity of the republic within the framework of the former Tsarist Empire. The claims of Finland for the widening of her autonomy and the attempts of the Ukrainian national democracy in the direction of independence met with the ruthless resistance of Trestle and Chkheidze. Chkhenkeli, at the Congress of Soviets, thundered against the separatist tendencies of some border countries, although at that time even Finland did not demand complete independence. For the suppression of these tendencies towards autonomy Tseretelli and Chkheidze organised armed force. They would have applied this force had history allowed them sufficient time for that purpose. Their main efforts, however, were directed towards fighting the Bolsheviks.

Although history knows of many campaigns of venom, hatred and persecution, there could scarcely ever have been anything similar to that conducted against us during the Kerensky period. The newspapers of all shades and tendencies, in all their articles and sections, in poetry and prose, in words and cartoons, upbraided, anathematized and branded the Bolsheviks. There was not an outrage that they did not ascribe to us, collectively and individually. When it seemed that the persecution had reached its highest point, some new episode, sometimes of most trifling character, would give it a new impetus. It would then rise to greater heights, intoxicated with the fumes of its own frenzy. The bourgeoisie sensed the danger of death. In their wild ravings was to be detected a note of fear.

The Mensheviks, as always, reflected the mood of the bourgeoisie. At the height of this campaign, Mr. Henderson visited the Provisional Government and came to the consoling conclusion that Sir George Buchanan, with sufficient dignity and success, represented the ideals of British democracy in the democracy of Kerensky and Tseretelli.

The Tsarist police and the Secret Service, temporarily remaining idle out of fear of overreaching themselves, were bursting with eagerness to prove their loyalty to the new masters. All parties in educated society unanimously pointed out to them the object of their guardianship and care – the Bolsheviks. All the stupid inventions about our connection with the General Staff of the Hohenzollerns, which nobody except petty spies and Moscow merchants’ wives really believed, were repeated, developed, exaggerated, and presented in lurid colours day after day and in all notes and keys. The leaders of the Mensheviks, better than anyone else, knew the real value of this accusation. But Tseretelli and his fraternity considered it expedient to support it for political motives. The deep bass of Tseretelli set the tone, which was taken up and repeated by the hoarse barks of the Black Hundred riff-raff. The result was that the Bolsheviks were formally accused of high treason, and of being in the service of German militarism. Our printing press and stores were plundered by the bourgeois rabble, under the leadership of patriotic officers. Kerensky shut down our newspapers, and thousands and thousands of communists were arrested in Petrograd and in all parts of the country.

The Mensheviks and their allies, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, received power at the hands of the workers’ and soldiers’ councils. But they very soon felt that the ground was slipping from under their feet.

They then directed their efforts to creating a counter-balance to the workers’ and soldiers’ councils by assisting the petty bourgeois and bourgeois elements of the country politically to organize themselves through the democratic municipalities and the zemstvos. As, however, the Soviets developed too rapidly to the left, the work of organizing the bourgeois classes was supplemented by the Mensheviks weakening and disorganizing the Soviets. The re-elections were deliberately delayed, and the Second Congress of the Soviets was avowedly sabotaged. Tseretelli inspired this policy, and Chkheidze completed its organization. Already, from August-September, 1917, it was argued that the Soviets had outlived their time and that they were ‘decaying’. The more revolutionary, insistent and impatient the working and peasant masses became, the more crude and avowed became the dependence of the Mensheviks upon the propertied classes. The bourgeois-democratic municipalities and the zemstvos failed to save the situation. The revolutionary wave swept over this miserable dam. The Second Congress of the Soviets, called by the Mensheviks as a result of our pressure, with the support of the Petrograd garrison, took power in its hands, almost without fighting and without casualties. Then the Mensheviks, together with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Cadets, began a bitter, and, where possible, armed struggle against the Soviets, i.e., against the workers and peasants. In this manner was the basis laid for the White fronts.

During the course of the first nine months of the revolution, therefore, the Mensheviks passed through three stages: in the spring of 1917, they were unquestioned leaders of the Soviets; in the summer they attempted to occupy a ‘neutral’ position between the Soviets and the bourgeoisie; in the autumn, they, together with the bourgeoisie, declared civil war against the Soviets. These distinct stages characterize the essence of Menshevism, and as we shall see further, completely cover the history of Menshevik Georgia.

Already previous to the October Revolution, Chkheidze slipped off to the Caucasus; caution was always the strongest of his civic virtues. Subsequently he was elected President of the Trans-Caucasian Coalition Seim (Parliament). Thus the role which he played in Petrograd in folio, he continued in the Caucasus in octavo.

The Mensheviks, in alliance with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Cadets, became the inspiration of the counter revolutionary ‘Committee for the Salvation of the Fatherland and the Revolution,’ which immediately got in contact with Krasnov’s Cossacks, then advancing on Petrograd, and organized the attempted armed rising of the Junkers. The leaders of the Mensheviks, to whom Kautsky has granted licence to construct bloodless democracies, are the real initiators of the civil war in Russia. From the Petrograd ‘Committee for the Salvation of the Fatherland and the Revolution,’ in which the Mensheviks worked jointly with all the White Guard organizations, the threads lead direct to all the further counter-revolutionary risings, plots, and assassinations: to the Czechoslovak rising on the Volga, to the government of Chaikovsky and General Miller in the North (Archangel), to Denikin and Wrangel in the South, to the emigre refugees abroad and the secret funds of the Entente. In all this work the leaders of the Mensheviks, including the Georgian Menshevik leaders, took part, not for the defence of the independence of Georgia, of which nothing at that time had been said, but as leaders of one of the anti-Soviet parties, with bases all over the country. The leader of the anti-Soviet block in the Constituent Assembly was none other than Tseretelli.

Together with the whole of the counter-revolution, the Mensheviks retreated from the industrial centre to the backward periphery. They naturally made use of Trans-Caucasia as one of the last lines of retreat. In Samara they entrenched themselves with the motto of the ‘Constituent Assembly’, but in Tbilisi they attempted at a certain moment, to raise the banner of an independent republic. But this did not take place immediately. The transition from the bourgeois centralist position to that of the petty-bourgeois separatist position, dictated not by the national demands of the Georgian people, but by the considerations of the all-Russian civil war, passed through several stages.

Three days after the October Revolution in Petrograd, Zhordania declared in the Tbilisi Municipal Duma: ‘The insurrection in Petrograd is living its last days. From the first it was doomed to failure.’ In the natural order of things nobody could demand that Zhordania should reveal greater penetration in Tbilisi than was revealed by the other philistines in all the other parts of the world. The only difference is this, however, that Tbilisi was one of the points of the Russian Revolution and that Zhordania was one of the active participants in the struggle that should have put an end to the Bolshevik revolt. However, the ‘last days’ passed by and proved not to be the last. It was found necessary even in November hastily to create an independent Trans-Caucasian Commissariat; not as a government, but a provisional counter-revolutionary place d’armes, from which the Georgian Mensheviks hoped to render decisive aid in the re-establishment of ‘democratic’ order in Russia. These hopes had some foundation: economic backwardness, the extreme weakness of the industrial proletariat, the remoteness from Central Russia, the interwoven character of the national with the various social, traditional, and religious conditions, the prevailing lack of confidence and national antagonism between the various nationalities, and, finally, the propinquity of the Don and Kuban, all this together created favourable conditions for counteracting the labour revolution, and indeed for a long time converted the Caucasus and the Cis-Caucasus into a Vendée and a Gironde which were bound together by their unity in the struggle against the Soviets.

At that time in the Trans-Caucasus there were large numbers of Tsarist troops from the Turkish front. The news of the proposals of the Soviet Government for peace and agrarian reform shook not only the soldier masses but also the local labour population.

A period of alarm set in for the counter-revolutionaries entrenched in the Trans-Caucasus. They immediately organized a bloc of ‘order’, composed of all parties, with the exception, of course, of the Bolsheviks. The Mensheviks, who maintained the leadership, inspired the alliance between the Georgian landed nobility and the petty-bourgeoisie, between the Armenian shopkeepers and the oil magnates, and between the Tartar Beys and Khans. The Russian White officers placed themselves entirely at the disposal of the anti-Bolshevik bloc.

At the end of November, there took place the delegate congress of the Trans-Caucasian Front, called under the leadership of the Mensheviks themselves. The majority seemed to be on the side of the left. The Mensheviks then, together with the right wing of the Congress, made a coup d’etat and created a Regional Soviet of Trans-Caucasian troops without the left, i.e., without the majority. In agreement with the Soviet, the Trans-Caucasian Commissariat in January, 1919 resolved: ‘to recognise the desirability of dispatching Cossack detachments to those places where disorders are taking place at the present time.’ Usurpation as a method and Kornilov Cossacks as an armed force -these are the real points of departure of Trans-Caucasian democracy.

The Menshevik coup d’etat in Trans-Caucasia was not an exception. When at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets (October, 1917), it was found that the Bolsheviks represented the overwhelming majority, the old Executive Committee (composed of Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), refused to hand over the affairs of the Committee to the Executive Committee elected by the Congress. Fortunately, we had behind us not only the former majority of the Congress, but the whole garrison of the capital. This saved us from being dispersed, and enabled us to give the Mensheviks an object lesson in Soviet democracy.

The Trans-Caucasian troops continued to be a menace to ‘order’ even after the Menshevik palace revolution. Feeling that they had the support of the revolutionarily minded soldiers, the working and peasant masses of Trans-Caucasia showed the unmistakable intention of following the example of the North.

In order to save the situation it was necessary to disarm and disperse the revolutionary troops.

The plan for disarming the army was secretly worked out by the Government of Trans-Caucasia, together with the representatives of the Tsarist generals. The participants of this bloc were the White General Prjevalsky, the future comrade in arms of Wrangel, Colonel Shatilov, the future Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Ramishvili, and others. Simultaneously with the measures taken to disarm the revolutionary detachments, it was decided not to disarm the Cossack regiments, i.e., the bulwark of Kornilov, Kaledin, and Krassnov. The cooperation between the Menshevik Gironde and the Cossack Vendee here assumed a military character. The disarming became converted into the plundering and frequently into the massacre of the returning soldiers by special counter-revolutionary detachments. On some of the railway stations regular battles took place, in which armoured trains and military were used. Thousands of victims fell in these battles, the instigators of which were the Georgian Mensheviks.

The pious Kautsky describes the bolshevistically-minded Trans-Caucasian troops as unbridled bands, who plundered, violated, and murdered. This is exactly how all the blackguards of the counterrevolution described them. Kautsky had to take up this attitude in order to be able to describe the initiators of the disarming, the Georgian Mensheviks, as ‘knights, in the best sense of the word’. We have at our disposal, however, quite other evidence, which, by-the-by, originates from the Mensheviks themselves. The latter took fright at the work of their own hands, when the disarming assumed a sanguinary, pogrom character. The prominent Menshevik, Djugeli, on January 14, 1918, declared:–

This was not a disarming, but a plundering of the soldiers. These unfortunate men, weary, longing to get back to their homes, were deprived of everything, even of their boots. At the same time quite a trade was carried on. The arms were sold to robber bands. What took place was disgusting. (Slovo, No.10.)

Several days afterwards, Djugeli, himself a participant in the disarming of the Tbilisi garrison (we shall meet this gentleman again), accused Ramishvili of having employed the most notorious robber detachments of the Trans-Caucasian counter-revolution in this work. Between these two statesmen the following public ‘exchange of views’ took place, which we feel compelled to quote.

N. Ramishvili: Djugeli is a slanderer!
Djugeli: And N. Ramishvili is a liar!
Ramishvili: (Repeating), Djugeli is a slanderer!
Djugeli: I beg you to cease addressing these insulting remarks to me!
Ramishvili: I declare that what has been said by Djugeli are insinuations, and that Djugeli is a slanderer!
Djugeli: And you are a coward and a scoundrel, and I shall deal with you as you deserve.

As we see, the disarming of the troops was not such an unmistakably knightly task as Kautsky described it, since two men having the same views, and closely associated with this work, endeavour in this unchivalrous fashion to repudiate all responsibility for it.

Nevertheless, one cannot but help sympathize with Kautsky. See what an excess of zeal, accompanied by weakened centres of restraint leads to. Let us observe here that the whole of Kautsky’s book, with his unceremoniously apologetic tone, remarkably recalls the writings of several of the superannuated French Academicians on the civilizing mission of the Prince of Monaco, or the philanthropic role of the Karageorgeviches. The superannuated academicians who have become back numbers in their own countries received orders and pensions from the grateful governments of the Arcadia they discovered. Kautsky, as far as we know, was merely appointed an honorary member of the Georgian National Guard. This proves that he is less selfish than the French academicians; on the other hand, while equalling them in the profundity of historic generalizations, he must concede considerable ground to them in the niceness of laudatory style.

* * *

The Brest-Litovsk Peace arose out of the collapse of the old army, which was completely shattered by a long series of defeats. The February revolution itself struck a severe blow at its internal organization. It was necessary to reorganize it from top to bottom, change its social basis and give it a new aim and new internal relations. At the same time, the complete lack of co-ordination between word and deed, the high-sounding revolutionary phrases with an absence of will for change, in a word, the democratic masquerade of Kerensky and Tseretelli, destroyed it. The Minister of War in the Kerensky Government, General Verkhovsky, insistently pointed out the incapability of the army to continue the war, and the necessity for concluding peace at all costs. The further reliance on miracles, and the waverings concealed by patriotic hysteria, only revealed the hopelessness of the situation. Out of this arose Brest-Litovsk. The Mensheviks demanded that we continue the war with Germany, with the hope that in this way we should be more certain to break our necks. Under this anti-German banner they united with all the forces of reaction. They endeavoured to use against us the last remnants of the war inertia of the people. In this connection the Georgian leaders were in the front ranks.

The conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk Peace created a superficial reason for the declaration of the independence of the Trans-Caucasus (April 22, 1918). Judging by previous patriotic rhetoric, one would have thought that the aim was to continue the war against Turkey and Germany. On the contrary, the formal separation of Trans-Caucasia from Russia was dictated by a desire to create more unassailable juridical conditions for foreign intervention. With its aid the Mensheviks, not without reason, calculated on maintaining the bourgeois-democratic regime in Trans-Caucasia and later delivering a blow against the Soviet North.

Not only the bourgeois landlord parties allied with the Mensheviks, but even the leaders of the Georgian Mensheviks themselves, openly spoke and wrote of the struggle against All-Russian Bolshevism as the chief reason for the separation of the Trans-Caucasus. On April 25th, Tseretelli, speaking in the Trans-Caucasian Seim, said: ‘When Bolshevism arose in Russia, when that murderous hand was lifted against the life of the State, we fought against it there with all the powers at our command ... We fought against the assassins of the Government. With equal self-sacrifice we will fight against the assassins of a nation.’ (Loud applause) With the same self-sacrifice – and with the same success ...

Do these words leave any shadow of a doubt as to how the Mensheviks understood the tasks of ‘independent’ Trans-Caucasia? Not the creation of an ideal social-democratic government, sacred and neutral, between the Black and the Caspian Seas, but the struggle against the assassins of a government (bourgeois), against the Bolsheviks, for the purpose of re-establishing the bourgeois-democratic nation within the framework of the old State. The whole of Tseretelli’s speech just quoted is nothing but a repetition of those pathetic generalities which we heard dozens of times in Petrograd. The chairman of this ‘historic’ session of the Trans-Caucasian Seim (Parliament), was the same Chkheidze, who, as permanent chairman, more than once closed the mouths of the Bolsheviks in Petrograd. With this difference, however, that what in the North they did in folio, here they did m octavo – with the same self-sacrifice and the same success.

The practical refusal to recognize the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty immediately placed Trans-Caucasia as a ‘State’ in a hopeless position, because it finally freed the hands of the Turks and their Allies. Within a few weeks the Trans-Caucasian Government begged Turkey to accept the Brest-Litovsk Treaty as a basis. But Turkey would not listen to this. The Pashas and the German generals in Trans-Caucasia became the unquestioned masters of the situation. The main thing, however, was achieved; with the aid of foreign troops, the revolution was temporarily suppressed and the fall of the bourgeois regime was postponed.

With the declaration of the independence of Trans-Caucasia (April 22, 1918), and without consulting the population, the Georgian Mensheviks, in the accepted manner, proclaimed a new era of fraternity between the various races of the republic, upon the basis of democracy. And yet, barely had this new republic been established, than it collapsed. Azerbaijan sought salvation in the Turks, Armenia feared the Turks more than fire, Georgia sought the protection of Germany. Within five weeks after its solemn proclamation, the Trans-Caucasian Republic was dissolved. The democratic declamations at its obsequies were not less fervent than at its birth. But this does not alter the fact that the petty-bourgeois democracy revealed its complete impotence to overcome national friction and to harmonize national interests. On May 26, 1919 – again without consulting the population – an independent Georgia was established as a fragment of Trans-Caucasia. Again there was a flood of democratic verbosity. Just five months pass, and between democratic Georgia and equally democratic Armenia, a war breaks out over a disputed bit of territory. From both sides were heard speeches on the lofty aims of civilization and about the treacherous attack of the enemy. Kautsky does not say a single word about this ‘democratic’ Armeno-Georgian war. Under the leadership of Zhordania, Tseretelli, and their Armenian and Tartar doubles, Trans-Caucasia was transformed into a Balkan peninsula, where national massacres and democratic charlatanry, have reached an equally highly flourishing stage. Throughout these indecent vacillations and sanguinary attacks, the Georgian Mensheviks undeviatingly carried through their real guiding idea: ruthless struggle against Bolshevik ‘anarchy’.

The independence of Georgia made it possible, or, to be precise, made it necessary for the Mensheviks to reveal the place they occupied in the struggle of the Soviet Republic against imperialism. Zhordania’s reply to this question could not be clearer.

’The Georgian Government informs the population,’ declares an official statement of June 13, 1918, ‘that the German troops which have arrived in Tbilisi have come on the invitation of the government of Georgia itself, and that their task is, with the complete agreement of the said government, to defend the frontiers of the Georgian Democratic Republic. Part of these troops have already been sent to the Borchalinak county for the purpose of clearing it of robber bands’ (really for an unofficial war against democratic Azerbaijan, once again over a piece of territory).

The blessed Kautsky makes it appear that the Germans were invited exclusively against the Turks, and that, apart from that Georgia preserved her complete independence. Even if it were true that some democratic calf incited General Von Kress to act as a sentry inside the institution of Georgian democracy, still one has to confess that General Von Kress was hardly fitted for such a role. But it would be quite out of place to over-rate the naivete of the democratic calf. The role of the German troops in the border states of Russia during 1918 was quite definite. In Finland they acted as the executioners of the workers’ revolution, in the Baltic states they did the same. They passed through the whole of the Ukraine, breaking up the Soviets, massacring the communists, and disarming the workers and peasants. Zhordania had no reason to expect that they would enter Georgia with any other aim. But it was precisely for this reason that the Menshevik government invited the troops of the indomitable Hohenzollerns – that as against the Turkish troops they had all the advantage of discipline. ‘It is a great question,’ declares the official reporter to the Trans-Caucasian Seim, the Menshevik Oneashvili, on April 28, 1918, ‘as to which menace for us is the worst, the Bolshevik or the Turkish.’ That the Bolshevik menace was incomparably worse than the German there did not seem to be the slightest doubt. When they held the posts of Ministers in an All-Russian government, the Georgian Mensheviks accused us of being in alliance with the German General Staff, and through the Tsarist courts charged us with high treason. They declared that the Brest-Litovsk Peace, which opened ‘the gates of the revolution’ to German imperialism, was a betrayal of Russia. It was precisely with this cry that they called for the overthrow of the Bolsheviks, and, when the revolution became too hot for them, split Trans-Caucasia away from Russia, and later Georgia from Trans-Caucasia, thereby really opening wide the gates of ‘democracy’ for the troops of the Kaiser. After the defeat of Germany, as we shall see, they repeated the same speeches and the same gestures to the victorious Entente.

In this connection, as in all others, the policy of the Mensheviks was simply a reflection of the policy of the Russian bourgeoisie. The latter, represented by the Cadets (Miliukov), entered into an agreement with the German occupational authorities in the Ukraine, and after the defeat of Germany it sent these very same Cadets to the bosom of the Entente as prodigal sons, who, in spite of the zig-zag nature of their path, did not lose sight of what was for them and for the Entente the main point: the struggle against the Bolsheviks.

It was for this reason that the Entente so easily opened its heart to them, and, what was more important, its coffers. It was for this reason that the war-time Minister Henderson, who had fraternized with the war-time Minister Tseretelli, in Petrograd, should again greet the latter as a comrade in arms after he had left the embraces of the Hohenzollern General Von Kress. Zig-zag, contradictions, treachery – but always against the revolution of the proletariat.

On September 25, 1918, Zhordania sent a written assurance to Von Kress saying: ‘It is not in our interests to lower the prestige of Germany in the Caucasus’ – and within two months they had to open the gates to the British troops.

This was preceded by negotiations which had aimed chiefly at explaining to and convincing the British that the relation between the German General Von Kress and Georgian democracy was simply that of a marriage of convenience, and that the real nuptials had yet to be celebrated with none other than the British General Walker. On December 15th, the old Menshevik Topuridze, the representative of the government in Batumi, in a reply to the questions of the Entente mission, said, according to his own report: ‘I assume that our republic will co-operate with the Allied countries in their fight against the Bolsheviks, with all the means at its disposal ...’ The same Topuridze reported to the British agent, Webster, that ‘in rendering aid to the British in the Caucasus in the fight against the Bolsheviks, Georgia will be but performing her duty.’

After the British Colonel Jordan explained that the landing of the Allied troops in Georgia was carried out ‘in accordance with the general plan for international peace and order,’ i.e., for the suppression of the Bolsheviks on an all-Russian scale, and for the subjection of all the peoples of Russia to Admiral Kolchak, Gegechkori informed Colonel Jordan that ‘the Georgian government, imbued with the desire to work in harmony with the Allies for the realization of their principles of right and justice, proclaimed by them, gives its consent to the landing of the troops.’ In a word, in transferring their allegiance from the Germans to the Entente, the leaders of the Georgian Mensheviks neglected the good old counsel of the Russian poet: ‘Flatterers, flatterers, learn to preserve a little nobility even in your baseness.’

I remember too well the negotiation table at Brest-Litovsk. I remember too well those who sat round that table – Baron Kühlmann, General Hoffman, and Count Czernin. But I more distinctly and sharply remember the representatives of the Ukrainian petty bourgeois democracy, who also called themselves socialists, and whose political level was quite in keeping with that of the Georgian Mensheviks. At the negotiations they, behind our backs, entered into a bloc with the feudal representatives of Germany and Austria-Hungary. And it was a sight to see how they cringed before them, how they wagged their tails and looked up with admiration and love into the eyes of their new masters, and with what lofty solemnity they looked down on us, the isolated representatives of the proletariat at the sessions at Brest-Litovsk. I know how these Mensheviks:-

... Smooth every passion
That in the natures of their lords rebel:
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods:
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale, and vary of their masters,
As knowing nought, like dogs, but following.

The events of the last few years have been full of trials. But I do not remember a moment more difficult, more unbearable, than when we, burning with shame, were compelled to breathe in an atmosphere of dishonour, of lack of dignity, and degradation as exhibited by petty bourgeois democracy, which, in its struggle against the proletariat, cringes on its knees before the representatives of the feudal capitalist world. And did not the Georgian Mensheviks, word for word, and letter for letter, do exactly the same thing?


1. Georgien, Eine Sozialdemokratische Bauernrepublik, Vienna, 1921. ‘I did not see anything,’ says Kautsky, ‘except what could be seen from the widow of the train or in Tbilisi. To this I must add my lack of knowledge of the Georgian and Russian languages.’ Subsequently he relates ‘the communists avoided me.’ He should have added further that the hospitable Mensheviks deceived their respected guest at every step, which he on his part willingly facilitated. The result of the combination of these fortunate circumstances was the appearance of this tract, which represents a worthy theoretical climax to the international campaign against Soviet Russia. – L.T.

2. Kautsky introduces confusion and garbles facts even where his lofty aim does not require it: thus he states that Chkheidze and Tseretelli were at the head of the Petrograd Soviet in 1905. As a matter of fact, nobody in Petrograd at that time had even heard of them. – L.T.

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Last updated on: 3.1.2007