Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East
The meeting opened at 9.40 p.m.
Narimanov: In the name of the Central Committee [sic] of the Communist International I declare the First Congress of the Peoples of the East open. [Tumultuous applause. The Internationale.]
Comrades, it is today my happy lot to open a congress which is the first of its kind, something unprecedented and unheard-of in the world-the Congress of the Peoples of the East.
The grey-headed East, which gave us our first notion of morality and culture, will today shed tears, telling of the sorrow, of the grievous wounds inflicted upon her by the capital of the bourgeois countries.
These peoples of the East, each living its own distinct life, could not be unaware of the terrible, oppressive effects of this capital.
But today, here, when we learn about each others situations, the whole picture will unfold before us, and then only will all these peoples of the East realise all the terrible, oppressive effects of this capital. And the knowledge will impel all these peoples to unite, and they will come to one conclusion: to use their united strength to throw off mid smash the chains of this capital.
The speeches we heard yesterday enable me, however, to stress another significant aspect of this first congress. It seems to me that two worlds are meeting here today: the world of the oppressed and the world of the oppressors. We can be sure that if the representatives of the world of the oppressors were delegates of the bourgeois class, the team of the grey-headed East would have perhaps no influence at all. But it is our good fortune that the delegates who are here represent the working class of the bourgeois countries; they will understand what these tears mean, and they will hasten the development of events, making it possible for us to announce triumphantly, in the near future, the reign of the Third International. [Tumultuous applause. Translation into Turkic.]
Narimanov: The Communist fraction at the Congress and the fraction of non-Party delegates are represented on the Presidium of the Congress of Peoples of the East by the following persons:
From the Communist fraction: Ryskulov, Abdurashidov and Karayev, from Turkestan. Mustafa Sup'hi, from Turkey. Wang, from China. Acharya, from India. Mullavekdzhan-Rakhmanov, from Khiva. Mukhamedov, from Bukhara. Korkmasov, from Daghestan. Digurov, from the Terek Region. Aliyev, from Northern Caucasia. Kastonyan, from Armenia. Narimanov, from Azerbaidzhan. Yenikeyev, from the Tatar Republic. Amur Sanan, from the Kalmuck Republic. Filipp Makharadze, from Georgia. Haidar Khan, from Persia. Agazade, from Afghanistan.
From the non-Party fraction
Narbutabekov, from Tashkent. Makhmudov, from Ferghana. Takhsim Baari. from Anatolia. Haavis Mahomed, from Anatolia. Wang, from Chinese Turkestan. Kubeyev, from Mangyshlak District. Niyas-Kuli, from Turkmenia. Kara Tadzhi, from Samarkand. Naazir Sedyki, from India. Sidadzheddin Kardash Ogly, from Daghestan. Yelchiev, from Azerbaidzhan. Musayev, from Azerbaidzhan. Azim, from Afghanistan. Abdulayev, from Khiva.
From the Communist fraction: Ostrovsky (in Russian).
From the non-Party fractions: Abdul Hamid Yumusov (for the Moslems);
Melikov (in Russian); Makhmud Khan and Akhmed Khan (for the Moslem).
All [sic] fractions at the Congress have proposed Comrade Zinoviev as chairman of the Congress of Eastern Peoples. [Prolonged applause and shouts of Hurrah.] The Communist and non-Party fractions have proposed that the following comrades be elected as Honorary Chairmen of the Congress: Lenin [Applause: the band plays the Internationale], Zinoviev [applause: the Internationale'] and Trotsky [Applause: the Internationale.]
As honorary members of the Presidium the following dear guests have been nominated: Comrades Quelch (Britain), Rosmer (France), Shablin (Bulgaria), Jansen (Holland). Reed (USA), Bela Kun (Hungary) [Applause: the band plays the Internationale'!, Radek [Applause.], Hodo-Yoshiharo (Japan), Steinhardt (Austria), and also dear Comrade Stalin, whom we all know.
Let us now take the vote. [A voice: Translation.]
Do you think it necessary to translate the list of comrades who have been nominated? [A voice: Only into Turkic.]
An interpreter translates into Turkic.
Chairman: Those in favour of the list proposed, please raise your hands. Anyone against? Almost unanimously in favour.
I call on Comrade Zinoviev. [Tumultuous applause. All rise and greet Zinoviev.] Please resume your seats.
Zinoviev: Comrades, my task is to explain to you how the Communist International sees the aims and tasks of this congress of the peoples of the East.
The idea of holding this congress was conceived when the Second World Congress of the Communist International was being prepared, at the time when some of the delegates of the present congress came to Moscow. Together with the Executive Committee of the Communist International they issued an appeal, in the name of a number of countries, to you, to the peoples of the East, proposing that preparations be undertaken for holding at Baku this congress at which we have today the pleasure of being present.
The Second World Congress of the Communist International was attended by representatives of the Communist workers and peasants of 37 countries in Europe and America. There were also present a few representatives of the East. Today, however, we have succeeded in assembling a fuller, mass representation of the working people of the entire East, and we consider that the Baku Congress will enter into the history of the struggle for freedom as the complement, the second part, the second half of the work of the Congress which recently finished its work in Moscow.
We feel very great pride in the fact that the Communist International has succeeded, for the first time in the history of mankind, in bringing together today under one roof representatives of more than one-fifth of the peoples of the East, some of whom have hitherto lived in mutual enmity, and some of whom knew little about each other and, in any case, never had the chance to sit down together to discuss all those burning questions which confront us.
We regard this congress as a major historical event because it shows that now it is not only the advanced workers and working peasants of Europe and America who are awakening, but, at last, we have all lived to see the day of the awakening not just of individuals but of tens and hundreds of thousands, millions of the working elements of the peoples of the East — the peoples who make up the majority of the population of the entire globe and who therefore are alone in a position finally to settle the dispute between labour and capital.
Comrades, todays congress was convened , as you know, by the Communist International, by the Party organisation. We have here with us today, however, not only Communists but also hundreds of delegates who do not yet belong to the Communist Party, who regard themselves as non-Party people, and also groups which belong, it may be, to other parties.
At first sight this may seem contradictory. How, indeed, can the Party organisation have convened a congress made up not strictly and solely of Party members but containing, perhaps, a majority of non-Party people?
But this contradiction is only of a formal character. Actually, it is in complete conformity with the policy, aspirations, ideals and strivings of the Communist International. The latter has convened the peoples of the East without asking each of the representatives: Do you, at this moment, belong to the Communist International, to a Communist Party, or do you not? We did not ask you: What party do you belong to? We asked each one: Are you a man who lives by his labour? Do you belong to the working masses? Do you want to put a stop to the strife between the peoples? Do you want to organise a struggle against the oppressors? That is enough. Nothing more is required, you will not be asked for any Party card. Let us gather together in order to discuss the questions that today confront the whole world.'
Comrades, the dispute between the Second International, which has died, and the Third International, which is now growing stronger with each day, is not a narrow inter-party dispute, not a question of interest only to those who already belong to a particular party. No, it is a dispute between labour and capital, a dispute which concerns everyone who lives by his labour. In Russia, where there are also very many illiterate, ignorant, half-crushed peasants who are only now awakening to political life — in Russia today there is already not a single village, certainly not a single rural district, where the peasants have not heard that the Third International exists and that it is working to free the working people from the yoke of the rich. And we are sure that, in the East, too, the time will soon come when it will be impossible to find a single county, or a single large capital city [sic], or a single large settlement, where the best and most conscious peasants do not know that the Third International exists and that it is working to free the peoples of the East. For, comrades, life has now raised sharply the question of the emancipation of labour, and life is compelling every peasant to take stock of this question.
I can give you a graphic example. If you want to know what the Second International is, look at Georgia, which you all know well enough. There you have the embodiment of the Second International! In Georgia power is held by a government of Mensheviks, who belong to the Second International. The leaders of present-day Georgia are important representatives of this Second International. And every Peasant in Georgia now knows from his own hard experience what it means when a party belonging to the Second International is in power. It means that the peasants do not get the land. It means there is freedom of the press only for the bourgeoisie, that this freedom does not exist for the workers and peasants. It. means that the best leaders of the working-class masses are under arrest. It means that power belongs to a gang who defend, like house-dogs, the rule of the rich. It means that Georgia is governed by men who are ready at any moment to Offer the sweat and blood o f the proletariat on a plate to British capitalism. [Applause.] It means that Georgia is governed by men who are ready at any moment to crawl on their bellies before any British, French or Italian general, if it seems to them that this general is powerful. It means that power is in the hands of men who are always ready to wink, if only with one eye, at the Tsarist General Denikin when he seems to be the stronger and when it seems to them that Soviet power is going to perish in Russia. In Germany the most prominent representative of the Second International is Noske, the executioner who has shot down thousands of German workers. In Georgia the most prominent representatives of the Second International are Mr Noi Zhordania and his associates, who are also executioners of the people, ready to cut thongs from the peasants skins. [Tumultuous applause.]
Naturally, Zhordanias policy is always presented to the Georgian peasants in the name of the independence of Georgia and the defence of that countrys national interests. But comrades, what sense does it make to a Georgian peasant if Mr Gegechkori and other such gentlemen sing like nightingales about the independence of Georgia, when the land remains as before the property of the old landowners, when the same old oppression continues, and when at any moment some British general can trample with his jackboots on the throat and on the chest of the Georgian peasant and worker?
That, comrades, is what is meant by the dispute between the Second and Third Internationals. It is no dispute of bookmen or scholars, it is a question of life and death for the workers and peasants.
Even in its best days the Second International took the view that civilised Europe can and must act as tutor to barbarous Asia.
Already in 1907, at the international congress held in Stuttgart, the majority of the official Social-Democrats (Mensheviks) expressed themselves in favour of the need for a so-called progressive colonial policy. In words, the Social-Democrats declared that this would be a human colonial policy — humane, mild and civilised. In fact, however, what they had in mind was support for the capitalists in their robber colonial policy, in the policy which conferred upon the colonies syphilis, opium and a debauched caste of officers, the policy which turned these countries into the bourgeoisies rubbish dump, and which plundered them relentlessly, right and left.
And when the war of 1914 came, this Second International, rotten through and through, which already in 1907 had declared for helping the bourgeoisie with white skins to oppress the peoples with black and yellow skins — this Second International naturally sold itself to the bourgeoisie; but then at once collapsed like a house of cards.
From the first day of its existence the Communist International said: In Asia live four times as many people as in Europe, there are 800 million people in Asia, and we want to free all the peoples, all the working people of the world , regardless of the colour of their skins, regardless of whether they are white, black or yellow.
We want to do away with every kind of exploitation of man by man. We do not consider as a socialist anyone who does not understand this. We fight against those who help the bourgeoisie or who stand aside when the task is to help the oppressed peoples. We are for organising the Negroes and all other men who live by their labour, for organising all the working people and all suffering and weary humanity, for struggle against the capitalists, the worlds oppressors.
This was why, when we concluded our work at the Second Congress of the Communist International, we swore an oath and issued a manifesto in the names of the Communists of 37 countries. In this manifesto, addressed to the workers and peasants of the whole world, we wrote these words: The socialist who aids directly or indirectly in perpetuating the privileged position of one nation at the expense of another, who accommodates himself to colonial slavery, who draws a line of distinction between races and colours in the matter of human rights, who helps the bourgeoisie of the metropolis to maintain its rule over the colonies instead of aiding the armed uprising of the colonies — for example, the British socialist who fails to support by all possible means the uprisings in Ireland, Egypt and India against the London plutocracy such a socialist deserves, if not to be shot, then to be branded with infamy, but in no case merits either a mandate or the confidence of the proletariat.'
This was our declaration, this was the solemn oath which we took before the workers of Europe and America and which we solemnly repeat in Baku, before the representatives of the labouring masses of the entire East assembled here.
We shall fight to the death against those who forget, even for one moment their duty to the oppressed nations, to the labouring masses of those countries which are being plundered and exploited by capital. Comrades, I told you that the Communist International wants a bond of brotherhood with all the peoples of the East, with all the oppressed masses. I think that you, comrades, want this alliance too, and cannot but want it. The European proletariat sees now, at every step, that the course of history has united the working people of the East with the workers of Europe. Together they can conquer, or together perish. At every step the workers of Germany and other countries see how the bourgeoisie, when it finds itself in special difficulties, brings in coloured troops for use against the European workers. The bourgeoisie has brought black troops into Germany and into other countries as well.
The Italian bourgeoisie is now threatening its workers that, if they should revolt, Italian capital will move coloured troops against them. The workers of Europe are today learning by harsh experience what they did not understand in the days when they trusted the Second International. The workers are learning that they must, at any cost, form a close alliance with the working masses of the entire East, of the entire world. But it is now necessary that this be understood also by the many-millioned masses of the entire East. Your first task when you return home must be to explain to every peasant and every peasant woman, to every shepherd, to everyone who lives by his labour, to explain to everyone who will listen to you that today we cannot take a single step without each other, that the proletarian forces of the West must now be united with the working masses of the entire East, of the entire world, so as, together, to defeat and finally to smash our terrible foe, who is still quite powerful even today.
The first task of our congress is to rouse the millions of peasants, to explain to them that it is necessary to plough the land more deeply, to raise up fresh peasant forces and explain to them that unless a brotherly, friendly alliance is forged with the whole organised working class of the world there is no way out, that if this is not done only ruin faces them, but that, given such an alliance the complete victory of labour, complete victory over the plunderers and oppressors of the world over the British and French who have oppressed you for decades such complete victory will be assured.
Comrades, in its very first statements the Third International pointed out that today the world is divided into nations with power and nations without power, into oppressed and oppressor nations.
The second International avoided saying this. It spoke about equality, in a general way, without explaining precisely what the actual situation is. At the Second Congress of the Communist international, held in Moscow, we pointed out once again that the world is divided into powerful nations and oppressed nations.
Comrades, as early as at the beginning of the war, and during the war, we had occasion to point this out. In one of our writings (those interested can read it in my book The War and the Crisis of Socialism)
we showed, with figures to support the statement, that before the war the world was divided up like this: six so-called Great Powers, with a population of 437 millions, oppressed all the other countries and states, the population of which amounted to 1,220 millions. That was the situation down to the end of the war. Now, the situation has changed for the worse. Now, as you know, some of the so-called Great Powers have lost their former status. There are now a smaller number of Great Powers, a smaller number of plunderers. America, Britain, France and japan, these four big robbers, according to the calculation made by Comrade Lenin at our congress, with a total population of barely a quarter of a milliard, oppress a milliard and a quarter people in the dependent nations. In the book I mentioned I worked out that five per cent of the British people are large-scale property-owners in Britain, and these five men out of every hundred oppress not only the rest of the British but also 890 members of various other peoples: Indians, Persians, Chinese and so on. Each British capitalist forces to work for his benefit nearly a hundred British workers and several hundred working people who live in the colonies and oppressed countries. Thats how it was before the war , and thats how it is today. The task before this congress is above all to take account of this fact and explain it to every toiler. Grasp this: every large-scale British capitalist forces to work for him not only tens and hundreds of British workers but also hundreds and thousands of peasants in Persia, Turkey, India and many other countries which are subject to British capital. From this the conclusion needs to be drawn that these one-and-a-half milliard oppressed people must, above all, unite, and then there will be no power in the world capable of compelling you to submit to these robbers, the British capitalists. And the representatives of the worker-Communists of the whole world appeal to you and stretch out to you the hand of fraternal aid in this hard but necessary struggle. We are passionately convinced that this hand extended to you by the worker of Europe and America, you will grasp honestly and respond with a handshake of friendship. [Applause.]
We know that the working masses of the East are in some places, through no fault of their own, very backward: illiterate, ignorant, they are sunk in superstition and believe in spirits, they are unable to read newspapers, they do not know what is going on in the world at large, they do not understand the most elementary principles of hygiene. Only the lackeys of imperialism can mock them for all this. The unfortunate Turkish and Persian toilers are not to blame for being illiterate. That is their misfortune. The civilised bourgeoisie sitting in Paris and London have devised all sorts of methods for keeping the Indian peasants, the Persian and Turkish toilers, in a state of ignorance.
The task of the more civilised, more literate, more organised workers of Europe and America is to help the backward toilers of the East. Not to mock them, not to put on airs, not to swank about their superiority over the backward Eastern peasants, but to be concerned about the ignorance and backwardness of the latter, to extend the hand of aid to them, and to help them in the only way they can: by teaching them to master weapons and to direct these against the white, civilised beasts of prey who sit in the counting-houses and banks of London and Paris — so as to help the peasant of the East to take the land for himself, to help him carry further that great revolution which the Russian peasants have started, after such heavy labours.
We know that in some countries the clergy and feudal lords of the East know how to play tricks on the peasant, raising false hopes, so that he thinks he has obtained land when in fact he has not; they are able to set up legal traps to catch the backward, ignorant peasant. We must expose this deception and raise up the peoples of the East to carry out an agrarian revolution like that effected by the peasants of Russia, those Russian peasants who only half a century ago were still serfs and who are still largely illiterate. Why should the peasants of Turkey, Persia, India, China, Armenia and so on not do what has been done by the Russian peasants who so recently were serfs? We are sure that the peasants of the whole East, under the wise leadership of the organised workers of the West, will now be able to rise up in their hundreds of millions in order to carry out a real, thoroughgoing agrarian revolution, to clear the soil so that no large landowners are left, so that no debt-slavery, no taxes, dues or any other variety of the devices used by the rich are left, so that the land passes into the hands of the labouring masses. This is what the Communist International brings to you.
The proletariat wants to help you to take the land and to create a free union of all the peoples of the world. This is the simple, straightforward programme which is written in the heart of every honest worker in Europe and which must now be adopted by you representatives of the toilers of the East.
Comrades, our congress in Moscow discussed the question whether the socialist revolution could take place in the countries of the Far East before these countries has passed through the stage of capitalism. You know that for a long time the view existed that, first of all, each country must pass through the capitalist stage, creating big factories and large-scale property-owners; it was indispensable for the workers to be massed together in cities, and only then could there be any question of socialism. We now think that this is not so. From the moment that even just one country has broken away from the chain of capitalism, as Russia has done, from the moment that the workers have put the question of the proletarian revolution on the agenda, from that moment we can say that in China, India, Turkey, Persia and Armenia it is possible and necessary to begin fighting directly for a Soviet system. The workers of Europe will use their power, of course, not in order to plunder Turkey, Persia and other countries, but to help them. Since this is so, such countries can and must prepare now for a Soviet revolution, can and must prepare to put an end within their boundaries to the division between rich and poor, so as to create a state of the working people and conclude a close alliance with the organised workers of the whole world.
In this connection we put the question to you: what will be the form of the state, of the organisation of the East? We have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to set up Soviets even where there are no urban workers. In such cases we can create a state of Soviets of the working peasants. Not toy Soviets such as they now sometimes palm off on you in Turkey, but real ones, for which every working peasant has the right to vote. I read in the journal Krasny Daghestan that in Daghestan they are now establishing the law governing elections to Soviets, and that the right to elect to the peasants soviets is to be reserved to honest working peasants possessing no more than a certain number of animals. I will not undertake to decide whether or not the figures are what they should be, but the approach is right. Whoever possesses cattle, horned or otherwise, in greater numbers than are needed to work his holding and keep his family in comfort, and who profits by others need, must be denied access to our peasant soviets. They must be truly Soviets of the working people, organised by men who live by their labour and who are concerned not with profit-making and speculation but with the common good. We must organise Soviets that will be genuine transmitters of the will of the working masses.
We address our appeal not only to those who take the standpoint of Communism but also to the non-Party people. We have two streams.
One is very fast, impetuous and strong — the stream of the workers proletarian Communist struggle in Russia, Germany, France and Italy, which is everywhere spreading wider. But there is also another stream, which is as yet not strong enough, which in some places takes a zigzag course this is the movement of the oppressed nationalities which have not yet chosen the road they will follow, do not yet know exactly what they want, but which feel that a strap is chafing their backs, that French and British capitalism are sitting astride their necks.
We want these two streams to draw closer and closer together, so that the second stream may be cleansed of national prejudices, so that they may be merged in one single tumultuous, powerful stream which, like the sea, will sweep all obstacles from its path and clear the land of all the evil from which we have suffered so long.
And so I say: we patiently support those groups which are not yet with us and even on some questions, are against us. For example, in Turkey, comrades, you know that the Soviet Government supports Kemal. We do not for one moment forget that the movement headed by Kemal is not a Communist movement. We know this. I have before me some extracts from the stenographic report of the first meeting of the Turkish peoples government in Ankara. Kemal himself says that the person of the Caliph and Sultan is sacred and inviolable.
The movement which is headed by Kemal wants to rescue the sacred person of the Caliph from enemy hands — this is the viewpoint of that party. Is it a Communist viewpoint? No, it is not. We respect the religious feelings of the masses and we know how to re-educate the masses. This requires many years work. We approach with caution the religious beliefs of the working masses of the East and of other countries. However, it is our duty to tell this congress: what Kemals government is now doing in Turkey, supporting the power of the Sultans, you ought not to do, even if this line be dictated by religious considerations. You must go forward and not let yourselves be dragged back. We think that the day of the Sultans is over, that you should not put up with autocracy. You should dispel and destroy faith in the Sultan, and establish genuine Soviets. The Russian peasants also had great faith in the Tsar. When, however, a real peoples revolution flared up, hardly a trace of this faith in the Tsar was left. It will be the same in Turkey and in the whole East when a real earthy peasants revolution flares up. Then the people will very quickly get rid of their faith in the Sultan and in their masters. Consequently, we repeat: the policy which is being pursued by the present peoples government in Turkey is not the policy of the Communist International, it is not our policy. And at the same time we say that we are ready to help any revolutionary struggle against the British Government. Today the scales of the balance in Turkey are still tipped in favour of the richer people, but the time will come when matters are otherwise.
In Turkey, in Persia, everywhere that peasants are to be found, they are beginning to understand what Bolshevism means.
Recently I asked a prominent Turkish public man of the liberal tendency what the Turkish peasant understood by the word Bolshevik. This prominent public man answered: In our country people usually understand by this a man who wants to fight against Britain and who wants to help us to do this. I asked a second question: And what does the ordinary peasant in Turkey think about the fact that the Bolshevik is not only against Britain but against the rich in general, including both Russian and Turkish? This the public man did not answer, and he was inclined to think that the peasant in question did not understand this point. I, however, have grounds for knowing, I think, that the word Bolshevik does not need to be translated anywhere in the world, either into Persian or into any other language. [Applause.] I am convinced that the working masses will have need of this word in the struggle not only against Britain but against the rich generally. Yes, we are moving against bourgeois Britain, to take the British imperialists by the throat and set our knee on their chest. The most powerful blow, at the very heart, has to be dealt against British capitalism. That is true. But at the same time we must educate the working masses of the East to hate and to want to fight against the rich in general — Russian, Jewish, German, French. The great importance of the revolution that is beginning in the East lies not in requesting the British imperialist gentlemen to take their feet off the table, and then permitting the Turkish rich to put their feet on the table with the utmost convenience. No, we want to ask all the rich, ever so politely, to take their dirty feet off the table, so that there may reign among us not luxury, not charlatanry, not mockery of the people, and not idleness, but that the world may be ruled by. the working man with toil-hardened hands. [Tumultuous applause.]
Accordingly, we say, directly and definitely to the non-Party delegates here: Pan-Islamism, Musavatism, all these trends are not ours.
We have a different policy. We can support a democratic policy such as has now taken shape in Turkey and such as will perhaps tomorrow make its appearance in other countries. We support and will support national movements like those in Turkey, Persia, India and China not out of any mercenary calculation but because the conscious worker will say to himself: the Turks who have today not yet understood where all their interests lie will understand this tomorrow. We must support this Turk and help him, and wait for a real peoples revolution to arise in Turkey, when veneration for Sultans and other survivals will all at once depart from his mind. I must, as the elder brother, hasten this movement, says the advanced worker. I will support the present national-democratic movement of the Turks, says the Communist worker, and at the same time I consider it my sacred duty to call upon the Turkish peasants, the Persian peasants, and downtrodden, oppressed working peasants of the entire East, to hate all the rich, all the oppressors, to teach them the simple truth that we need real economic equality between all men and real brotherly unity between all who live by their labour.
There, comrades, is our frank statement. We think that none of us is obliged to address the Congress of the Peoples of the East in the style of a diplomat. We must put aside every sort of despicable diplomacy at this time when we have brought together those peoples who have been oppressed more than any others, and who number hundreds of millions — the peoples upon whom, in the last analysis, the future of all mankind depends. Comrades, when the East really gets moving, then not only Russia but all of Europe will seem only a small corner of this vast scene. The real revolution will flare up only when we are joined by the 800,000,000 people who live in Asia, when the African continent joins us, when we see hundreds of millions of people in the movement. At this historic gathering nobody need hide behind diplomacy and reticence. Let all present open their hearts, so that they may hear from each other words of real and pure truth, so that we may choose the real path to victory. We hide nothing from you, we speak plainly to you about what separates us from the representatives of the current national movement and about what we have in common with them. We say to you: the task of this movement is to help the East free itself from British imperialism. But we have a task of our own to carry out, no less great to help the toilers of the East in their struggle against the rich, and here and now to help them build their own Communist organisations, to explain to them what Communism means, to prepare them for a real labour revolution, for real equality, for the emancipation of mankind from every form of oppression.
Comrades, I think that the fact that I told you frankly what we think about these difficult matters and our differences in relation to them, has brought us closer to those whose views differ from ours, because it is better frankly to conclude definite agreements than to approach each other with hostility hidden in our hearts.
I say that we are now faced with the task of kindling a real holy war against the British and French capitalists. Comrades, remember what is being done, northward from here, by these bandits even at this moment. I will not speak about those peoples who are particularly well represented here. You yourselves know the situation that British and French capital has created in Turkey, the situation British capital bas created in Persia, the situation of Armenia, which yesterday all the governments of the Entente wanted to defend and whom nobody is now defending.
I will say a little more only about those countries which are poorly represented here — about India and China.
Comrades, you know how many hundreds of minions of people live in India, which is being so ruthlessly pillaged by British capital. You have perhaps heard about the latest events there. Quite recently there was another case in India of Indians being fired on for only a feeble attempt at resistance — what has become known as the Dyer affair. An unarmed crowd was lured to within range of machine-guns and mown down.
And when a Parliamentary inquiry into this affair was made, newspapers published in London had to write about this scene, immortalised by photography, showing how the British enjoyed themselves when order had been restored: armed British soldiers forcing Indians to crawl on their bellies through the streets of a city. This is the method used by the civilised British imperialists and their sons who have attended several universities. They send out their officers in order that by putting a rifle-muzzle to the ear of an Indian and making him crawl on his belly they may gladden the eyes of a British officer.
And the correspondent of an Italian newspaper has sent similar pictures from China, with the caption: A matinee in South China.'
Comrades, these little pictures which are to be seen in considerable numbers in any issue of a foreign newspaper, depict for us the unheard-of horrors that are being suffered by the peoples of India and China. Comrades, do not forget that the white British capitalist beasts
of prey who so shamefully oppress the Indian people have also contrived to enlist tens of thousands of Indian soldiers, whom they send to suppress the proletarian movement. Indian soldiers are at the present time fighting on no less than seven fronts, under the conductors baton of British generals. Indian soldiers are in action in the Constantinople theatre of war, in Arabia, in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, in Palestine, in North-Eastern Persia and in North-Western Persia. There, comrades, you see the accursed situation of our oppressed class: they seize Indians by the throat and force them to crawl on their bellies in order to amuse a British officer, and at the same time our brothers, the oppressed peasants of India, are so ignorant that the same British can enlist Indians in their army, provide a few hundred officers drawn from the landed gentry to command them, and send them off to suppress the national revolutionary movement in Egypt or Persia — that, comrades, is what is horrible about the position we are in! We are helping our executioners with our own hands, helping the British and French capitalists. This is what we must put an end to!
We must at last slam shut this book of the accursed past, so that it may never return, and must open a new page of history, when the oppressed peoples of the East will no longer be slaves, when they will not allow British officers shamelessly to plunder the Indians and the Persians, killing, insulting and mocking at everyone.
Comrades! Much has been said about holy war in recent years. The capitalists, when they were waging their accursed imperialist war, tried to present that slaughter as a holy war, and made many people believe this. When in 1914-1918 they spoke of a holy war, that was a monstrous deception. But now, Comrades, you who have for the first time assembled in a congress of peoples of the East, must here proclaim a real holy war, against the robbers, the Anglo-French capitalists. Now we must say that the hour has sounded when the workers of the whole world can arouse and raise up tens and hundreds of millions of peasants, can form a Red Army in the East as well, can arm and organise a revolt in the rear of the British, can hurl fire against the bandits, can poison the existence of every insolent British officer who is lording it in Turkey, Persia, India and China.
Comrades! Brothers! The time has now come when you can set about organising a true peoples holy war against the robbers and oppressors. The Communist International turns today to the peoples of the East and says to them: Brothers, we summon you to a holy war, in the first place against British imperialism! [Tumultuous applause, prolonged shouts of Hurrah. Members of the Congress stand up, brandishing their weapons. The speaker is unable to continue for some time. All the delegates stand up and applaud. Shouts of We swear it.]
May this declaration made today be heard in London, in Paris, and in all the cities where the capitalists are still in power. May they heed this solemn oath sworn by the representatives of tens of millions of toilers of the East, that the rule of the British oppressors shall be no more in the East, that the oppression of the toilers of the East by the capitalists shall cease!
Long live the fraternal alliance of the peoples of the East with the Communist International! May capital perish, and long live the reign of labour! [Burst of applause.]
Voices: Long live the rebirth of the East! [Shouts of Hurrah. Applause.]
Voices: Long live the Third, Communist International! [Shouts of Hurrah. Applause.]
Voices: Long live those who have united the East, our honoured leaders, our dear Red Army! [Shouts of Hurrah. Applause.]
Chairman: Please calm down and resume your seats. Comrade Buniat-Zade will translate Comrade Zinovievs speech.
Buniat-Zade translates into Turkic and another interpreter translates into Persian.
Chairman: It has been reported that the Kabardian comrades want a translation into their language. Is there an interpreter here who can do that? No.
An interpreter translates into Turkish. At 11.50 p.m. there is a break, and the congress reassembles at 12. 15.
Chairman: Tomorrow at 10 a.m. exactly there will be a meeting of the non-Party comrades at the Workers Club. Everyone is to attend. Some very important questions will be decided. Please pass this on to those who are not present: this request applies to both non-Party and Party comrades. [Translation.]
Tomorrow at 10 a.m. there will be a Communist fraction meeting at the Army Club. Everyone is to attend.
The Congress of Peoples of the East will resume at 5 p.m. tomorrow. [Translation.]
The session concluded at 1. 10 a.m.