Clara Zetkin & Alfons Paquet

Soviet Russia and the IWR

(7 June 1923)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 42 [24], 7 June 1923, pp. 407–408.
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The IWR. sent a circular, containing the following questions, to various political and intellectual personages:

1. What do you consider to be the economic, political, propagandist, and cultural tasks of the I.W.R.? 2. In Russia? 3. Abroad? 4. Should the I.W.R. co-operate with philanthropic organizations, as those of Nansen, Ara, etc.? 5. What, in your opinion, should be the special basis of the work of the I.W.R.?

Of the numerous replies received, we append the following from Clara Zetkin and Alphons Paquet. Starting from different points of view, they come to the same affirmative agreement as to the many sidedness and importance of the work done by the I.W.R.

To Question I.

The I.W.R. should spread reliable information, based on facts, on the situation and conditions obtaining in Soviet Russia, among the widest circles of the workers, among the whole productive working people. This with the object of creating understanding of and sympathy for the Russian revolution, its difficulties, its magnificent work and its world-historical significance, and thereby to mobilize the most numerous forces possible, forces conscious of the surpassing range of the events in Soviet Russia, and ready to support, energetically and devotedly, the building up of the new and higher social life in Russia.

To Question 2.

Support of the existing children’s homes, founding of its own children’s homes, and the development of all into model institutions. Support or founding of social relief and welfare institutions (ambulance stations, hospitals, convalescent homes, etc.). Support or founding of culture institutions and culture establishments, furtherance of production by the provision of money, machinery, etc., setting up of business and commercial relations, especially on the part of the co-operatives; by providing a supply of technically skilled workers; by participation in trusts, etc.; the erection of model factories, etc., taking over of concessions, and so forth.

To Question 3.

Dissemination of informative material by word and picture (film), meetings and lectures, not only on general conditions and intended for “everyone”, but dealing with special topics, and intended for special groups of professions (teachers, physicians engineers, craftsmen, social politicians, etc.). Arrangement of Russian art evenings, theatrical performances, concerts, scientific and literary lectures, etc. Organization of Russian exhibitions, collection of money, tools, and useful articles. Establishment of energetic local working committees of the I.W.R. and their strictly centralized concentration. Founding of societies for the “sympathizers” with Soviet Russia, and systematic cultivation of relations with these.

To Question 4.

Yes, when this co-operation: a) does not bind the I.W.R. in its principles and practical activity; b) extends the field of work of the I.W.R. and strengthens its influence; c) implies practical advantages through more purposeful organization, division of work, joint purchases, transport, etc.

To Question 5.

The awakening and realization of lhe consciousness of international solidarity of the proletarians, of the productive workers of all countries, and of the consciousness of their duty towards the first workers’, and Peasants’ state in the world.

Clara Zetkin


To the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Questions.

The I.W.R. is an instrument towards the uplift of the working classes in all countries, and is, as compared with the instruments of direct combat—as for instance the revolutionary organizations—an especially valuable means of training in economics, foreign politics, and transport-organization. Amidst the attempts at and possibilities for the reconstruction of Russia, it is incumbent on the I.W.R. to form the positive expression of the participation of all sections of workers in Russia's economic welfare and the role it will play will be independent and responsible in proportion to the extent to which it is supported by the working populations of the world. It needs the contributions, the offerings, the sympathy of wide circles, even those of the intelligenzia, as for instance artists, scholars, engineers, and educated tradespeople. Even if these circles, in their peculiar position between the classes, do not appear to he the forerunners of a classless state of society, they will none the less find it more and more necessary to rely on the working class, and to take part in the concrete tasks proceeding from the rise of the working class. In Russia, the I.W.R. can undertake commercial enterprises and technical undertakings, which would disappear and prove a loss without its intervention. The tasks of systematizing, leading, and managing entirely different kinds of undertakings on lines of common economics, are ones demanding that the entire concern be unshakeable in its co-operative foundation, but exceedingly variable and elastic in its forms.

To the 4th and 5th Questions.

The tasks set the I.W.R. are fundamentally different from those of pure philanthropy, and thus any intervention by philanthropic organizations appears likely to detract from its purpose. In individual cases, in limited concrete spheres of activity, co-operation between the I.W.R. and the Nansen or Quaker organizations would appear to be highly recommendable. For, in the first place, there is much to be learned by this, and in addition there exists the possibility, even the probability, of one day entering into the heritage of these institutions. In my opinion the work of the I.W.R. should be specially based on the consciousness that the co-operative principle of working is still very little developed, at least in the world of Europe, but is still highly capable of development in various directions, particularly in that of non-state work. Originating in the immediate need of rapid aid for Russia, it is up to now a weak, but in its essence a correct beginning at an active co-operation of all peoples among themselves, and its further development, which is to be striven for with all energy, may enable it to rely on the natural need of all human beings for mutual help, and especially on the community of interests obtaining among all peoples suffering from exploitation or threatened by catastrophes.

Alfons Paquet

Last updated on 17 October 2021