Leon Trotsky

All for Peace!

Speech delivered by Comrade Trotsky at the
enlarged committee session of the Moscow Soviet

(7 June 1923)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 41 [23], 7 June 1923, pp. 385–386.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2021. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

Comrades, yesterday various items of news and various facts arrived simultaneously in my workroom. I received two comrades, delegated by the workers of a paper factory in the Kalusch gouvemement. One of them had worked in the factory for 51 years, the other for 40 years. A few minutes earlier I had received, from the People’s Commissar for foreign affairs, the news of the murder of our friend and representative, comrade Vorovsky. Almost at the same moment I received a whole budget of newspapers, published abroad by the one-time landowners and capitalists of our country.

I do not know, comrades, whether I have already spoken to you here of the raging and insane campaign of lies and inventions, now being conducted against us by the white emigration press. The period in which we live, and which is distinguished by a great and constantly increasing unity between the Soviet power and the working masses throughout our whole federation, and by a great revolutionary peoples’ movement, – this period the hallucinations of the bourgeois press designate as a period of fresh risings in every corner of Soviet Russia, a period of rebellion in one regiment after another, as the period of decay of the state apparatus and the Communist Party. And when we peruse these newspapers, published in Warsaw, Helsingfors, Riga, Reval, and other places, we involuntarily ask ourselves: by whom and for whom are they issued? and who is it who have lost their reason, the publishers of the papers or their supporters?

We must say that there is one group of Helsingfors correspondents which can boast of being the source of the most idiotic rumours. In whose name do they write all this, what do they expect to gain by it? They want to set the dogs of imperialism upon us.

A ring of foreign states lies between us and the imperialist west. And should a foolish and criminal blockade, or even a war, set in against our will, the logic of the geographical situation will first affect this ring of states.

And now yesterday, when these two old workmen told me what they had experienced since 1918 – hunger; cold and actual collapse in the years 1919 and 1920, in part also in 1921 they said that today they are comparatively well off. These old men, these heroes of toil, brought with them some dozens of forms which they have to fill out in relation to various economic and cultural requirements. With gnarled fingers, rendered unsteady by decades of work, they showed me with justifiable pride these signs of our reviving industry. And we say with them: two more years, three more, five more, of work in peace, and we shall perfect our economics, our schools, and our culture. And they say we are meditating war? We, with our vast territory, our population of many millions, and our backwardness, our poverty, our defective culture how can we think of violence, of conquests, of attacks? No; what we say is: cursed be everyone in our ranks who raises his voice in favor of an attack, of a war.

One of these two workmen had worked for 51 years (I do not know how old Lord Curzon is) at the work bench, and if we were to say to him that we, the state of the workers and peasants. cherish the idea of attacking anyone, lie would not understand this language. He would reject the idea. The working class would drive anyone from its ranks who would not defend peace and work with every available means.

Nevertheless, the sky has become overcast again on the frontiers of Soviet Russia, and we must again anxiously and attentively observe the plans, not only of the governments, but of various groups and various cliques within these governments, for the present position of European politics is such that the attitude taken by separate groups or persons at the head of an imperialist power may involve things in such a knot that these gentlemen will be obliged to cut it in the end.

We defend peace with all the means at our disposal, and support our diplomacy, which is fighting honorably, sincerely, and determinedly for the independence of the Soviet Federation, and is employing the peaceful agencies of negotiations and understandings. And I think, comrades, that every Red Army soldier – and in our country the Red Army soldier is above all the citizen of the state, taking active part in the political life of the country – that every Red Army soldier today, understands the language of the Soviet power and its diplomacy. It is the language of peace and quietness, of admonition, oi exhortation to prudence.

Comrades, I know very weft that we have good cause for indignation, for showing our clenched fists, and gnashing our teeth. But, comrades, the situation is such that we must throw all our prudence, reserve, and caution into the balance. The masses of workers and peasants belonging to our Red Moscow have shown that they fully realize the dangers of the present position.

We do not know whether Lord Curzon’s act is an isolated one on the part of Great Britain, or whether there are also others, nearer home or equally distant, collaborating with Lord Curzon in the same diplomatic – and perhaps not merely diplomatic plans. Despite this, or rather because of this, we do not take a single step, or utter a single word, which might tend to render the situation more acute, or close the path to a peaceful solution by means of negotiations.

We desire peace above all things. Naturally not at the price of capitulation, not at the price of converting the Soviet federation into a vassal state of foreign imperialism. We know that the governments of the Entente, since the war and the Versailles peace, have become accustomed to carrying on intercourse with other states and nations in tones of command. To this we reply that words of command do not penetrate to Red Moscow. (Continuous applause)

We, the republic of Workers and Peasants, are prepared to make the greatest concessions, but only on the basis of agreements of contracts, on the basis of independence and equality. For this we stand, comrades, alike in the government and in the state apparatus, in the ranks of our party, and in the ranks of the many millions of non-partisan workers and peasants of our country; we stand as one man behind every step taken by our diplomacy in the interests of peace, and for upholding commercial agreements and maintaining economic relations with other countries.

And our Red Army and Red Fleet like the rest of us, are also firm supporters of our diplomacy. (Applause) The army knows better than anyone else what a war signifies; it knows what a war would signify to us today. Today, amidst the strained relations of all Europe, it would be a war of life and death; it would tie a war lasting not for months, but perhaps for years; it would be a war which would engulf all the resources and forces of our country, it would be a war putting an end to all economic and cultural work for years. And thus we hope that this cup may pass from us. We want peace! – this we call to all the leading elements of our country, these are the words of the Red Army and the Red Fleet, whith are flesh of the flesh, and bone of the bone, of the working class; all for peace!

But, comrades, when our wish for peaceful work, the wish which I heard from the lips of the two old workmen who had spent half a century at the workbench; when this wish, arising from the depths of the soul of the workers and peasants of the whole of the Soviet federation; when our will to peace is unavailing, when the ring of imperialism is drawn still closer about us, when one challenge follows another and assumes a material form, when the bayonets of imperialism are pointed at our breast, or are raised to give us a stab in the back, then we shall say:

“The Red Army and the Red Fleet, though they desire to work peacefully the Red Army and the Red Fleet will always do their duty!”

(All present rise to their feet and give the speaker an enthusiastic ovation)

return return return return return

Last updated on: 3 September 2021