Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East
The session opened at 6.55 p.m. Comrade Zinoviev took the chair.
Chairman: I declare the second session of the Congress of the Peoples of the East open. In agreement with the Communist and non-Party fractions, we propose to merge two questions which are on the agenda and proceed immediately to hear reports on the second of these questions — that of the international situation and the tasks of the Eastern peoples and then after this to open the discussion on yesterdays and todays reports, taken together. Since this has been agreed by the overwhelming majority of delegates to the Congress I shall allow myself to treat the decision as adopted, without further discussion, and invite the comrade reporting to address us. Please translate. [Translations.]
So, then, we proceed to the report on the international situation and the tasks of the working masses in the East. The report is given by Comrade Radek.
Radek: Comrades, yesterday we witnessed a scene which deserves the epithet historic, in the full sense of that word. When the representatives, assembled here, of the labouring masses of the Near East heard the representative of the European workers in revolt tell them that the proletariat of Europe is ready to fight to the death against the capitalists of the whole world, who have until now oppressed not only the European workers but also the masses of the people in the East the representatives of those masses here present, all moved by the same emotion, rose and swore an oath to wage a holy war, shoulder to shoulder with the workers of Europe, against the oppressors of the world of labour. But, comrades, in this war which lies ahead of us what will be required is not only enthusiasm, not only hatred of the oppressors. The popular masses of the East need to have a good knowledge of the direction taken by world politics, they need to know with precision the strength of the enemy and also his weak sides, they need to know how to make use of every fissure that appears in the enemys ranks, so as to carry the struggle against him into his own camp. The international proletariat keeps a sharp watch on the changes in international politics. This familiarity with the international situation renders it a tremendous service in the developing war of the proletariat against capital. The working masses of the Near East must attain the same level in this respect as the mass of the workers in Europe. They must watch the enemy vigilantly and be able to choose the moment for attack. And this is why we are not prepared to rest content with our common urge to fight against world capital but have put on the agenda a report on the international situation and the tasks facing you.
The grey-haired East, of which Comrade Narimanov spoke with sorrow, has been suffering from the oppression of the capitalists of Europe for more than a few decades. For over a hundred years the peoples of the East have been subject to exploitation and to political oppression, have been made victims of war by the capitalist powers, the capitalist plunderers. Until now they have been only such victims, until now they have not been able to give the world brigands the rebuff they would have wished to give them, with their own forces. The entire history of the nineteenth century is filled with the struggle between British capitalism and the landlord-capitalist Tsarist Government of Russia for the mastery of Turkey, Persia and Central Asia. Russian Tsarism tried to seize Persia and Turkey. It wanted to capture and enslave the peasants of Turkey, to find an outlet to the Mediterranean, in order to measure its strength there against British capital. It went into Persia and enslaved the Persian peasants so as to be able through Persia to get at India, that pillar of the rule of British capital, that fabulous India which nourishes with the blood of the Indian peasantry the capitalists of Britain, the London Stock Exchange, and which enables the younger sons of the British bourgeoisie to acquire millions and then, thanks to these millions, to lead the lives of parasites back in their own country. In this struggle, humane British capitalism, the British lords, were fully the equals of barbarous Russian Tsarism. When it suited the convenience of the British capitalists, they came forward in defence of Turkey and Persia against Tsarism. In so doing they advanced the banner of humanity and a human attitude to the peoples of the East, and reproached Tsarism for wanting to swallow up these peoples in order to coerce and exploit them. But it was enough for British capitalism to reach an agreement with Tsarism for it to raise the slogan of the annihilation of Turkey, to raise the old slogan of the British minister Gladstone dismember Turkey! I will recall, comrades, just this fact, that the Anglo-Russian struggle for Persia, the struggle between Tsarism and British capitalism, ended in 1907 with an amicable agreement to partition Persia, after which the British capitalists watched calmly while the Tsarist Cossack General Lyakhov destroyed the infant freedom of Persia, while the Cossack brigades dispersed the Mejlis, while the representatives of the revolutionary Persian people were hanged in the streets of Teheran and Tabriz. The British capitalists washed their hands, saying that all this had nothing to do with them. But, despite the fact that the British capitalists held Tsarism in their grip — for Russian Tsarism was completely dependent financially on British capital they did not stir a finger to defend the Persian people. Furthermore, the British Foreign Minister, Lord Grey instructed Buchanan, the British ambassador in Petrograd, to inform the Tsarist Government that Britain would not oppose the Russian aggression provided that Tsarism did not send its troops beyond the limits of Northern Persia. The rival robbers agreed to divide Persia into two parts. Northern Persia was handed over to Lyakhovs hangmen, while the South was to be held by the British and serve as a barrier against a Russian incursion into India.
The struggle between Britain and Russia over the peoples of the East was replaced in the last ten years by a different world-wide struggle, that between the Entente group, British and French capital, with Tsarism arm in arm with them, and a group headed by Germany. And we have again seen, this time too, how the British, on the one hand, and the German capitalists, on the other, said that their purpose in going into the Near East was to bring civilisation to that region, to bring literacy to the people and teach them to use machinery, whereas in fact the struggle between these groups was being waged for conquest of the peoples wealth in Turkey and Persia — it was a struggle between common-or-garden robbers. The British decided to strike down and partition Turkey before that country could strengthen itself after the Young-Turk revolt. Seeing that the Young-Turk Government was trying to form an army and to introduce a progressive system of taxation and administration,, the British capitalists resolved to break Turkey in pieces as soon as possible, for Turkey was enormously important to them. The world power of Britain extends all over the globe. British capital rules in Africa, holding in its grip both the mines of South Africa and the fertile fields of Egypt. At the same time, the second pillar of British world domination is India, where more than 300 million peasants work for the British capitalists. Between India and the African possessions of British capitalism lay Turkey, and therefore Turkey had to be destroyed, so that the British capitalists might unite, by means of a railway extending across Arabia and Mesopotamia, their possessions in Africa with their possessions in Egypt and in India, so that British capital, ruling over hundreds of millions of African and Asian nationalities, might freely transfer its troops from one part of the world to another, and ruthlessly suppress the slightest attempts at resistance on the part of the peoples of the East. British capital condemned Turkey to death so as to be able freely to put down the revolutionary movement that was beginning in India. On the other hand, German capital, which came forward as a liberator, as a defender of the popular masses, did this merely because it was opposed to an open partition of Turkey, since it was hard for Germany to get at you from the North Sea. German capitalism did not want to dismember Persia, because it had no free access to that country: what it strove for was to take all of Turkey and all of Persia into its economic grasp, and under cover of the Young-Turk and Persian Governments to exploit these peoples.
The world war of 1914, which led to the deaths of tens of millions of workers and peasants, which left behind millions of cripples and tens of millions of widows and orphans, that world war was fought in order to decide which group — the Anglo-French one or the German one should rule the world, should be in a position to enslave hundreds of millions of workers and peasants of the peoples of Asia. This war was waged on both sides under the slogan of liberation for oppressed nations. The British capitalists who in 1908 hailed the advent of the Young Turks, expecting to be able to proceed in alliance with them, now suddenly discovered in their hearts a tremendous hatred for the Young Turks, and declared that the Turkish Government must be destroyed and the Turkish people torn in pieces, that it was necessary to liberate the cultured peoples of the East the Arabs, Syrians and Armenians. The war was fought in the name of smashing the absolutism of the Sultan and the Young Turks and liberating the cultured peoples of the East! How did this war end? Comrades, it ended with the rout of German capitalism, something for which no worker or peasant of the East need shed a tear. But it also ended in the victory of British imperialism. What does this victory mean? The peoples of the East have already learnt this. It means that the British navy has seized Constantinople and is holding the Straits, it means that a British expeditionary force has occupied Arabia and Mesopotamia, that French forces have occupied Syria, that Greek forces have occupied the western part of Asia Minor, including Smyrna. It means that French and Italian troops have occupied Southern Anatolia, and have done this not just for the moment, not just while the absolutism of the Sultan is being liquidated, but in order to stay there, in order to dismember Turkey in the form of creating free, independent states of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia. What this freedom looks like we have very good evidence, comrades, from the French and British press. France promised to establish a free Syria, and found her hireling in the person of the Emir Feisal. As soon, however, as he stopped dancing to the tune of the French capitalists, French troops occupied Damascus, drove Feisal away, and now they quite openly hold Syria, expelling therefrom everyone whom the French capitalists dislike, and dictating their laws to the Syrian people.
The British talked about independence for Mesopotamia, and what a spectacle we behold. In order to create an independent state with a population of two-and-a-half millions, British capital has spend a quarter of a million pounds sterling in a single year. The question arose: why this generosity on the part of the British? A quarrel between French and British capital revealed the answer. When Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, was asked in Parliament whether Britain was taking over the wealth of Mesopotamia, and whether British capital held some concessions in Mesopotamia, which might have impelled the British Government to spend such huge sums, Lloyd George replied that Britain had no concessions and asked for nothing from the Mesopotamians, but kept only those concessions which had already been granted to British capitalists by the Sultans government. But when it was explained what this means — a task undertaken by none other than the French Foreign Minister, Monsieur Pichon it turned out that the British capitalists control all the petroleum in Mesopotamia the only wealth belonging to the Arabs of that country. This petroleum was the property of German capitalists and the Turkish Government. Now, the British have allowed the French 25 per cent of the petroleum, keeping 75 per cent for themselves. The peoples of the East are known to be very courteous, so I will not say at this congress of the peoples of the East that Mr Lloyd George is a liar and a cheat, but merely that he does not regard it as a statesmans duty to re-establish the truth when the truth is that British capitalism has grabbed Mesopotamia not in order to liberate the Arabs from Turkish oppression, but to liberate the Arabs from the petroleum which might have made them a rich nationality in the East. [Applause.] If, comrades, we inquire how the British, French and Americans have liberated the unfortunate Armenians, whom they ceaselessly incited, for so many decades, to fight against the Turks and Kurds, and to whom they promised freedom and cultural development if we ask how they have stood up for the rights of Armenia, for the answer I can refer to the official organ of the Armenians in America, which very authoritatively describes what form this liberation has taken. This organ, New Armenia, which is published in New York, tells how the French induced the Armenians to send volunteers to Marash, to defend that province, alongside the French, against the Turks, promising them that in return they should have Alexandretta. But when the decisive battle took place, the French expeditionary force abandoned Marash, and 20,000 Armenians were left at the mercy of the army of Kemal Pasha which, seeing in them so many enemies of Turkey fighting on the French side, spared the life of not a single one of them. America has recently begun to play the role of Armenias saviour and has incited the Armenians to go to war against those peoples among whom historical fate has decreed that the Armenians live. From time to time the Americans have sent to Armenia a ship with food inadequate to save the Armenians from hunger and cold. You know that the Armenian Republic, which is full of hatred for the Bolshevism of Soviet Russia, led as it is by bourgeois intrigues in the service of the Entente, this Armenian Republic has now been obliged to make peace with Soviet Russia, for it realises that no salvation is to be expected from the Entente. Why dont the British, who keep 80,000 soldiers in Mesopotamia, in order to liberate the Arabs from their petroleum, who dont they send their troops to Armenia? A leading British newspaper, the Manchester Guardian, spoke frankly about this in an article published on May 12. It said that there is no petroleum in Armenia, nothing from which the Armenians can be liberated': it is impossible to rob the Armenians, so one can leave them to be robbed. And it said that if one compares the viewpoint of the British Government regarding Mesopotamian petroleum with the viewpoint of the Armenians regarding Armenian blood, then this comparison covers the British Government with shame and infamy. This is what was said by a British bourgeois newspaper not a newspaper of the British workers in revolt, but one which, despite the weight of its criticism, is close to Lloyd George.
How are the British capitalists liberating Persia since Russian Tsarism and Russian capitalism, despite all the efforts of the Allies, have been destroyed by the hands of the Russian workers and peasants? The British capitalists always said that their task in relation to Persia consisted solely in liberating that country. And Britains present Foreign Minister, Lord Curzon, in his book on Persia published thirty years ago, said: the task of British policy in relation to Persia is to uphold the independence and freedom of Persia. The Anglo-Persian treaty of August last year shows the sort of freedom British capitalism wants to bring to Persia. For £2,000,000 in gold the British capitalist government has bought the whole of Persia from the Persian Government — that is, from its own lackeys. For these £2,500,000 [sic] in gold the British have secured control of Persias finances and customs and of the organisation of the Persian army. And regarding this policy I can again quote a very authoritative testimony, that of the French Government newspaper Le Temps of August 17 last year, which said: Since the Persian Government has handed over its army command by British officers, and its finances to control by British specialists, it has no longer any independent force or independent resources by which it could exercise sovereignty. Those are the words of the French governments paper.
Comrades, what does all this mean? It means no more and no less than that Entente capital, headed by France, having struck down its German competitor, the German brigand, has obtained control of the hundreds of millions who make up the peoples of the East, in order to enslave them. For the peasant in the East it means that, whereas previously he had to pay tribute in order to maintain the Sultans clique and all manner of Shahs, Emirs and Khans, now he has to pay twice as much: to pay his own exploiters, and to pay for the bayonets of the French and British forces who will defend his exploitation by the local exploiters. This means that, whereas in Turkey there are natural resources by developing which the Turkish people might replace the wooden ploughs they use at present with iron ploughs and steam ploughs, and might have their own schools, now, when the British and French capitalists grab the riches of the Near East, the riches of Turkey and Persia, they will exploit these not in order to develop the culture of the Eastern peoples but for their own profit, so that the bankers of London and Paris may obtain even bigger profits than they enjoy already thanks to their exploitation of the European workers. [Applause.] Comrades, as a result of the victory of the Entente there is danger that hundreds of minions in the East may be reduced to absolute slavery. The dream is a dreadful one, but God is merciful. This danger will pass away like a bad dream if the toiling masses of the East rise up together with the workers of Europe, for the victors of the world war are themselves covered with wounds from which they are dying.
Comrades, if you look at the situation of victorious capital, if you look at the economic situation of the principal victors of this war, you will see that, in order to vanquish German capital, they have taken upon their shoulders and backs such huge burdens that under these burdens their spines too must crack. [Applause.] I have figures here showing the size of the state debts which the victorious countries have incurred. The French Government borrowed 200 milliard francs during the war. The British Government borrowed 160 milliard. The Italian Government borrowed 200 milliard. This means that all the victorious capitalist countries, with the exception of America, have lost in the war, by firing it off into the air, between a half and three-quarters of all the wealth belonging to these very rich countries. This means that none of these governments is able to find the resources to save itself from financial bankruptcy. If these governments wanted to pay their debts they would have to confiscate as much as two-thirds of the wealth that exists in their countries. That would mean leaving the mass of the people in those countries only one-third of what they had to live on previously. This it is not possible for them to do. And we see how the victorious powers are arguing amongst themselves how to get out of the difficulty. The weakest of the victor powers — the Italian and French Governments are calling on the British and American capitalists to lump all these debts together and pay them jointly, so that whichever power is richest shall be the one to pay first and foremost. But the British and American capitalists decline to pay the debts of the Italian and French capitalists they are unable to pay their own debts. The British and American capitalists were very willing to shed other peoples blood, ordering the Russian peasants, the French peasants and the Italian workers to go and die in a war for the benefit of the British capitalists, but when the question of paying debts arises, they now say: friendship is friendship, but a ledger is something different, so pay your own debts. [Applause.] And we see, comrades, how, thanks to the fact that the victorious capitalists are trying to crush Russia, which until now was a principal outlet for their goods and supplied them with an enormous quantity of raw material, and thanks to the fact that they are trying to destroy the technically most advanced nation in Europe, namely, Germany, they are tearing up the roots of their own existence. We know that the British and American capitalists are confronted with the fact that the Eastern peoples, in their millions, are hungry for goods of all kinds, are hungry for manufactures and for machines, and the British and American capitalists are looking for markets, but they are not in a position to sell because these peoples have nothing with which to pay for the goods. As a result, the whole of world imperialism is choking in the process of a tremendous crisis, gripped by frightful convulsions. At the same time as hundreds of millions of people are unable to buy trousers and boots, in America and Britain products are piling up, and America and Britain are threatened with the closing of their factories.
And the worker masses, who see all this happening, the worker masses, whom they hounded to the slaughter during four years, telling them: in this war you are destroying the absolutism of the Kaiser and the Sultan of Turkey, and you will gain from it justice, bread and freedom — the masses of the people now see themselves faced with the threat of hunger and cold. These masses are rising in revolt and advancing their demands. And never in its long history has Britain seen such a huge wave of strikes and mighty workers demonstrations as we are now witnessing. None other than the British Prime Minister, the shrewdest of bourgeois politicians, Lloyd George, in a speech he made in April in the British Parliament, frankly declared that Britain faces the threat of social revolution. This is not a statement made by the British Communists, whose hearts long for such a revolution. It is a warning from the British Prime Minister, who in this warning of his called upon the bourgeoisie to unite against the workers. In America we also see a wave of strikes. In Italy, in one of the Allied countries, we see not only a mounting struggle we see Italy literally on the threshold of revolution. The Italian Government maintains itself only by the power of its bayonets; it is having every day to shoot down workers in the streets of its cities. Monsieur Clemenceau said, after the victory over German absolutism, that Bolshevism was not a danger to France, because she had emerged victorious from the war, and Bolshevism was a disease affecting defeated peoples only. Yet now we see the French Government filling its prisons with French Communists. We see the French Government shooting its sailors so as by the fear of death to hold back its armed forces from mutiny and revolution. And at this time, when the proletarians of Europe and America are rising in revolt to overthrow capitalism and to establish the reign of freedom, brotherhood and labour, at this same time, comrades, we see how, under the nose of British imperialism, in Ireland, in Egypt and in India, there is a growing movement of revolutionary struggle of the peoples whom Britain has enslaved.
Comrades, Ireland is a conquered country. In Ireland the British Government has been obliged to set up a fortress against the Irish people. In Ireland dozens of British policemen and soldiers of the expeditionary force are killed every day in the streets of the cities. In Egypt not only professional intellectual workers, not only students, not only civil servants are taking to the streets — the demonstrations have led to strikes by the fellahin whom the British used as beasts of burden during the war, and to strikes by railway workers and telegraph workers. And India is seeing not only a terrorist struggle, not only tremendous agitation among the intelligentsia, but also tremendous strikes involving 300,000 men, strikes of Indian workers who unite the struggle for their emancipation from the yoke of capital with the struggle for their national emancipation.
Comrades, in a book which is a sort of Koran for British imperialism, a book by Professor Seeley which was published many years ago, and which is used in the education of British officers when they are sent to India, and used to educate British Governors — in this book, Seeley, a learned advocate of British imperialism, discusses the question: How is it that a little handful of British are able to keep under their heel hundreds of millions of Indians? And he answers that there is no magic in this. In India one part of the population fights against another on behalf of the rule of British capital. If a revolt breaks out in the North, we mobilise the Indian peasants in the South, make soldiers of them, and with their aid suppress the revolt in the North. If the Indians in the West revolt, we throw in Indians from the East, and thus, by using some Indians against others, we keep them all under our control. And when, this advocate of British imperialism goes on, people tell us that there is bound to be a revolution, for the Indians are dying of hunger, I reply: that is quite unconvincing. If they cannot live, they die, but it does not follow from this that there will be a revolution. Everyone in Britain has freedom to die of hunger, and if people do not want to do this, that does not mean that there will be a revolution.
For a revolution to take place it is necessary, he says, that the people look up, that they have hope of liberation, and that they feel their strength. Comrades, we are sure that the moment is coming when the peoples of the East will prove to the British capitalists, the British vampires, that they do not want to die, that they have hope, and that they feel their strength. Comrades, until now every people which revolted has felt its weakness, for nobody had yet seen workers and peasants conquering their exploiters, nobody had seen workers and peasants setting their foot on the chest of British imperialism. But you, comrades, have seen that it is possible to conquer even British imperialism.
When the workers and peasants of Russia rose up, when they overthrew the power of the Tsar, overthrew the power of the bourgeoisie and landlords, and established a workers and peasants government, the bourgeois in all countries were sure that they would be able to crush Soviet Russia and place their yoke once more on the neck of the Russian workers and peasants. They set about hiring Russian officers, capitalists and landlords, they sent them uniforms, ammunition and military instructors, and launched one campaign after another against Soviet Russia. You remember how they bought the deceived Czechoslovak soldiers and hurled 50,000 of them against Soviet Russia. You remember how they sent against Soviet Russia Kaledin and Kornilov, and then Kolchak, Yudenich and Denikin. With the help of British tanks, gas-bombs and shells, Denikin and Kolchak formed an army half-a-million strong and waged a campaign against Soviet Russia. All capitalist Europe had its eyes on Kolchak and helped him with all its power. Russia was cut off, it was unable to get a single shell from abroad, it could not even get medical supplies with which to care for its maimed sons. In spite of all this, the workers and peasants of Russia rose up, arms in hand, and created the victorious Red Army. [Applause.] They smashed Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin. I remember the day when, in a German prison in Berlin, I read in a newspaper: Tomorrow, Tuesday, in the chapel of the former Russian Embassy, there will be a solemn service of prayer for General Yudenich, who has set out for Petrograd. But Yudenich was beaten before Petrograd, and Denikin was beaten before Orel. The workers and peasants army drove them back. Now Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich are all gone. And now the workers and peasants power is finishing its business with the last of these detachments with Wrangel and with White Poland. And in all this it has given a tremendous example to the peoples of the East who are rising in revolt.
If the workers and peasants of the East want to be free from exploitation, they too can win victory, because their adversary is cracking up, is suffering economic collapse, and because their adversary has been beaten by the Red workers and peasants Soviet Russia. Victory for the workers and peasants of the Near East depends only upon their own consciousness and will. No enemy will daunt you, no-one will hold back the flood of the workers and peasants of Persia, Turkey and India, if they unite with Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia was surrounded by enemies, but now it can produce weapons with which not only to arm its own workers and peasants but also to arm the peasants of India, Persia and Anatolia, all the oppressed, and lead them to a common struggle and a common victory. [Applause.]
When the capitalists came to the East to exploit the masses, they talked to them about liberation, and so we understand why there is a certain distrust among the backward sections of the workers and peasants, who have learnt from harsh experience of deception. They ask themselves: Are the precepts of Soviet Russia sincere, will it carry out its promises? Comrades, it is useless to answer such questions with protestations, they have to be answered with rational arguments. Soviet Russia arose in order that there might be no more slaves and masters, no more rich and poor. Soviet Russia is a huge, well-endowed country, which can feed itself, now that it has thrown out the lice, parasites and vampires that sucked the blood of Russian peasants and workers. It can with its own forces raise the Russian people to a height never before known. The Russian peasant and the Russian workers do not need to seek bread in other lands, for their own produces enough of it, they do not need to go in search of metals, for in the depths of their own land there is an unheard-of treasure-house of these. The Russian worker and peasant are moved by desire for freedom for themselves, and have no need to enslave other peoples.
The Russian worker and peasant know very well that either they will crush world capital or world capital will crush them, that it is impossible for workers and peasants Soviet Russia to exist for a long time side by side with the capitalist countries. The Russian workers and peasants know that if they do not strike down the British capitalists, if they do not crush the French capitalists, then they themselves will be crushed. The Russian worker can seek peace and concord with them for a time, he can try to obtain a breathing space in which the revolution will grow stronger in other countries, but permanent peace between the country of labour and the countries of exploitation is impossible.
And for this reason the Eastern policy of the Soviet Government is no diplomatic manoeuvre, no pushing of the peoples of the East into, the firing line so that the Russian Soviet Republic may gain some advantage by betraying them. We sacrificed our own territory, our own peasants and workers when, at Brest-Litovsk, German imperialism, armed from head to foot, dictated its terms to us and we were then unable to defend ourselves. Workers and peasants of the East, moments may come when we shall advise you not to go forward to utter defeat but instead to throw a sop to the wild beast that seeks to tear you in pieces. We ourselves may experience such moments, but we are bound to you by destiny: either we unite with the peoples of the East and hasten the victory of the West-European proletariat, or we shall perish and you will be. slaves. Therefore, comrades, what is at issue here is not an alliance such as people conclude who may tomorrow break with each other and become enemies, but a fight fought in common and to the death. Yesterday you swore an oath to fight that fight. With our combined efforts we must win. Comrades, for this common victory common sacrifices are needed. The worker masses of Russia have been starving for three years, waiting for victory over world capital. And so, when you greet the Red Army, when you hail its victory, do you think about the fact that its victory and its weapons were forged by the blood and sweat of millions of Russian workers and peasants who sacrificed themselves in these last years? Understand that your own victory will not be won without sacrifices. Many will have to go hungry, or to shed their blood. You will have to look upon Soviet Russia and upon your countries in revolt as forming a single army which must strengthen themselves together, arm themselves together, make sacrifices together, for their common cause. And whoever says that this is Bolshevik imperialism, that we are going to the East for purposes of conquest and to get food for our army, is consciously spreading lies between the workers and peasants, so as to divide them, in order that the lords of the world may crush them separately. For us it is a matter of common sacrifices, common burdens, and the victory will be common to us all. This will not be a victory of one people over another but the victory of the labouring masses of all peoples over the handful who have hitherto exploited the whole world.
Comrades, in issuing the call for a holy war against the Entente, and in the first place against British capital, we know that victory will not be ours today, that we shall have to go on fighting for a long time yet, precisely because the masses of the East will be slow in developing. News of the victories of the Red Army, of the struggle of the British, French and Italian proletariat must wander for a long time over plains and desert hills before it reaches the peasant in India and Egypt, and brings him its message: Stand up, rise, working people! In entering upon this hard struggle, we strive to enable these huge countries, these peoples, to develop their forces, develop their capacity for combined work to reconstruct mankind on a new basis of freedom, where there will not be people of different-coloured skins with different rights and duties, where all men will share the same rights and duties. The capitalists of the whole world talk of the menace from the East, saying that when 300 million Indian and 400 million Chinese peasants revolt, that will be the moment of doom for human civilisation. We have seen that civilisation, seen it in the glare of bursts of shrapnel over battlefields, in ruined homes and cities. Capitalist civilisation means death to every kind of civilisation. Capitalism is unable to ensure for you even the lot of an animal that is at least fed. The sooner that that civilisation perishes, the better. [Applause.] And when we, comrades, hand to you the banner of struggle in common against a common enemy, we know very well that, together with you, we shall create a civilisation a hundred times better than the one created by the slave-owners of the West. The East, subjected to oppression by capitalists and property-owners, has developed a philosophy of resignation. We appeal, comrades, to the warlike feelings which once inspired the peoples of the East when these peoples, led by their great conquerors, advanced upon Europe. We know, comrades, that our enemies will say that we are appealing to the memory of Genghis-Khan and to the memory of the great conquering Caliphs of Islam. But we are convinced that yesterday you drew your daggers and your revolvers not for aims of conquest, not to turn Europe into a graveyard — you lifted them in order, together with the workers of the whole world, to create a new civilisation, that of the free worker. And so, when the capitalists of Europe say that a new wave of barbarism threatens, a new horde of Huns, we answer them: Long live the Red East, which together with the workers of Europe will create a new civilisation under the banner of Communism! [Tumultuous applause.]
Chairman: We shall proceed to the translations. The first will be into Turkic. Comrade Buniat-Zade will give it.
A five minute interval is announced. The session resumes at 8.40 p.m.
Narimanov: The session will continue. Let the translations be given.
Interpreters translate into Turkic, Uzbek and Chechen. Kartmyzov translates into Kumyk, and, from the Communist fraction, Buniat Zade, speaks in Turkic.
Chairman: Please be seated.
Voices: Comrade Chairman, please let us have a translation into Uzbek.'
The Chairman speaks in Uzbek.
Voices: We have understood. Please continue.'
Chairman: Will the Uzbek comrades who understood please raise their hands.
Voices: A majority. A minority. Please go on. Call an interpreter. [An interpreter translates into Uzbek. Artmasov speaks in Turkic.]
Chairman: Comrades, the Communist and non-Party fractions propose that a general discussion be opened on the two reports we have heard. But, so that the discussion shall not take up too much time, we need to decide straight away that only six speakers be called, and, in addition, that the representatives of the Parties of Britain, France, Bulgaria and America and a few others be given the opportunity to speak on these reports, so that we hear not only from the peoples of the East but also from the workers of the countries whose bourgeoisies oppress the peoples of the East: We put this proposal to you and hope that the Congress will give its approval. [Applause.]
Buniat-Zade speaks in Turkic. The interpreters translate.
Chairman: I call on Comrade Buniat-Zade, from the Communist fraction.
Then Narimanov also speaks in Turkic.
Chairman: Comrade Musa-Zade will give the translation.
Musa-Zade: Comrade Buniat-Zade says, regarding Comrade Radeks report, that the East has for a very long time been an apple of discord between the imperialists of the West, and in order to get control of the East and to exploit it the predators of Europe have applied themselves to forming a comprehensive alliance. This was the basis on which the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance were formed, for these groupings both had the same aspiration to become masters of the East, to exploit the peoples of the East for the benefit of their robber members.
A result of this dance, or of this Triple Entente, was the Italo-Turkish War, which was promoted by Britain. The unprovoked attack by Italy upon Karakalise was prepared by the British Cabinet. Hardly had this war in Tripolitania ended that Russia promoted and formed an alliance between the Balkan States and started a new war in the Balkans with the same aim as before, to get control of the Turkish Straits. Furthermore, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente sent their troops for the same purpose into unfortunate old Persia, where they pursued the same aim of subjecting and exploiting the country.
After the Russian Revolution of 1905 the revolution made its way into Persia. The oppressed peoples rose up, as the Russian workers had done, proclaimed Soviet power ('Gandzhamina'), but the defeat of the Russian revolution entailed the burial of the Persian revolution as well, by the hand of General Lyakhov and the other generals sent by Nicholas into Persia. The Persian revolution was crushed as well as the Russian.
Comrade Buniat-Zade described vividly how the first Persian revolutionaries, expelled from their country by the Persian tyrant Mahomet Ali Shah, were executed here. With the aim of partitioning the unfortunate, benighted East, tireless activity was carried on by the Western powers and the plunderers of the West. At the same time as war was being waged in Tripoli and in the Balkans, France was pushing into Morocco and strangling that unfortunate independent Eastern state. These aggressive strivings and actions were, of course, activities of the Triple Entente, which could not be watched with indifference by the Triple Alliance — the German group. At the same time unprecedented intrigue, aimed against the Entente, was being carried on by the German group, in the countries of the East. And then came the international war of 1914, aimed at completely subjecting the East. It ended with the great Russian revolution. After the fall of the bourgeois republic of Kerensky, power in Russia passed into the hands of the proletarians, the peasants and workers. The peasants and workers of Russia, after taking power, addressed the peoples of the world, and especially the peoples of the East, and said: We have stopped the war, we extend the hand of brotherhood to you, and we urge you to stop the war that has been started against us. Since then the Russian workers and peasants have directed their attention towards the East. In concluding his speech, the comrade said that this Eastern orientation has now been crowned with success, and the risen East is today going forward hand in hand with the Russian proletariat, with combined forces, and will put an end to all the outrages which have been committed up to now. [Uproar. Voices: The translations are incomplete, we want a full translation.]
Chairman: Comrade Efendiyev will now deal with those parts of the speech which were omitted by the first interpreter.
Efendiyev: Comrade Buniat-Zade spoke at length about the events which took place in 1917 in Caucasia, and this is what was mainly omitted in the translation given by the previous interpreter. Buniat-Zade said that the imperialists of Turkey, various Envers and suchlike, yielded to incitement by Germany, which looked upon Turkey and the East as a tasty morsel that it wanted to enjoy and treat itself to. This was already included in Bismarcks programme. In bringing about independence [sic] in the East, the Germans were guided by the well-known slogan: Drang nach Osten.
And so the Turkish forces, helped by German bayonets and with the aid of the German imperialists, conquered Azerbaidzhan, the richest part of Transcaucasia, with its resources of petroleum, that precious liquid which was what enticed the imperialists to come here. But in Caucasia there were groups and parties which understood this war in a different sense. They considered that Turkey, with Enver Pasha at its head, had come here in order to save the people, in order to deliver the Azerbaidzhanis from Russian imperialism, in order to bring to this territory a republic, self-determination, independence, and so on. Comrade Buniat-Zade said that this was not true, that it was a lie, because Turkey liberated Azerbaidzhan from one imperialism, Russian imperialism, and at the same time handed it over to another imperialism. This was a one-sided liberation, which, after driving out the British, sat itself in their place, in order to suck the lifeblood of these countries. This was a mistake, a delusion which is now passing. This intoxication is now passing, and the masses of Transcaucasia, of Azerbaidzhan, are waking up and beginning to understand things better and more correctly. Now, when the Soviet forces, when the Communist Party has assumed the initiative in liberating Caucasia from these groups promoted by the Turkish and German imperialists, the masses have at once begun to find their bearings with regard to what has happened and to evaluate better what is happening. Today Soviet Azerbaidzhan has been freed from these groups, these parties, these puppets put up by Turkish and German imperialism, and it is now the threshold [sic] of Soviet policy in the East. Azerbaidzhan is bound to play a tremendous role in that respect.
Culturally and materially it is one of the best and richest countries in the East. All this while the masses are turning one-hundred-percent towards Soviet power, and the experience which the masses have had in the last few years has taught them something and is a political guarantee that these masses will in the future close ranks absolutely with the Communist Party, and adjust their political line to the line of the Soviets, and make every effort to ensure that Soviet power triumphs throughout the East.
Chairman: The second speaker will be Comrade Bahaeddin Shakir.
Interpreter [rendering Comrade Shakirs (Turkish) speech into Russian]: I begin without comments and give only the essentials. When the European war began, Turkey went to war with no intention of conquest. It entered the war of necessity, to defend itself. There was only one issue at stake for Turkey, namely: either to safeguard its freedom or to fall under the yoke of one of the coalitions, either the German or the British. Before joining in the war, the Turks thought for a long time. If they did not enter the war, then, when one of the contending sides proved victorious,* that would mean the end of Turkeys freedom. Even earlier Turkey did not follow a policy of conquest and had no predatory aims.
In our country, in Turkey, the officers belong to a different category from the Russian or European officers. The Turkish officer is a genuine proletarian. He has not been brought up in the spirit in which officers in Europe and in Russia were brought up. The view that Turkey had a plan worked out beforehand, and had already come to an understanding with Germany, is false.
The agrarian question in our country, in Anatolia, also has special features. It is a very simple question. There are no landlords there, no large landowners. Turkey has, in general, no powerful bourgeois class, and so neither the Turkish Government nor the Turkish people could pursue a merely aggressive policy. They had only one policy: Dont trouble us and we wont trouble you.'
Comrades, I prove this by the fact that when the war had continued for a long time, and the German coalition felt that it was winning, the Turkish people and the Turkish Government wanted to establish buffer states, that is to say, an Armenian, an Azerbaidzhani and a Georgian state. If it is said that Turkey was pursuing an aggressive policy, how can it be explained that the Turkish people and the Turkish Government held to this policy alone, that they wanted to protect themselves by establishing buffer states between Russia and Turkey? No, neither in the West nor in the East did Turkey intend to annex other peoples lands, and, in general, Turkey did not pursue an aggressive policy.
That is what Comrade Shakir said in his long speech. I have translated the essence of it.
The same interpreter translates the speech into other languages
Voice from the hall [in Turkic] The comrade interpreter did not warn us that he was translating the speech of the previous speaker, it was as though he was expressing his own views.'
Narimanov: Yes, it was a translation. Where is the Persian interpreter?
An interpreter translates the speech into Persian.
Zinoviev: The next speaker will be Comrade Gaidarkhanov from the Communist fraction.
Gaidarkhanov speaks in Turkic and translates his own speech into Persian.
An interpreter translates the speech into Russian: Comrades, first and foremost I call your attention to that part of the speeches by Comrades Zinoviev and Radek in which Comrade Zinoviev said that we have come here frankly and sincerely to extend our hands to our brothers in the East. and do not want to employ any diplomacy here. Comrade Radek also said that we have come here to offer our hand, and if we die, we die along with you, and if we live we live along with you. This is of enormous importance for the peoples of the East, for the peoples of the East have not heard this for 200 years. All that time they saw and heard how European capital was slaughtering them. I want to give you a few examples of how European capital sought to stifle the liberation movement of the Eastern peoples. Let us take Persia. A revolution broke out there, and this revolution was put down by the European capitalists, headed by Tsarist Russia and British imperialism. India too, in the same way, with its 350 million inhabitants, and without even a penknife in its pocket, was also deprived of the ability to defend itself and continually exploited in an inhuman way by British capital. The Indians are dying of hunger, but the British capitalists are living in splendid palaces at their expense. I want to say the same thing about Turkey. A comrade spoke here saying that Turkey waged a defensive war, that Turkey was not a tool in the hands of German imperialism and had no imperialistic aspiration of its own. This does not square with the facts, comrades. Turkey had great imperialistic aspirations. It acted wholly as a tool in the hands of European imperialists. If Turkey had not involved itself in this war with imperialists who were striving for conquest, then at the present time the European imperialists would not be tearing to pieces the working peasantry of Turkey. Comrades, as you see, the East has already woken up, a revolution has broken out in Persia itself against Britain, just as a certain movement has begun in India, and also in Turkey.
Gathered here are representatives of these and other peoples who are hostile to British and every other kind of imperialism. I am sure that these peoples will reach agreement here and will organise a rebuff to the British and other imperialists and liberate the East from the yoke of the capitalists. [Applause.]
Chairman: We are now going to close the session, but first there is an announcement. Both fractions have agreed to set up four sections: on the agrarian question, on the national and colonial question, on the question of the Soviet structure, and on the organisational question. These four sections are to be made up as follows: each group of 20 delegates will choose one representative to join each section. This will mean approximately 90 members to a section. It would be desirable that the elections take place tomorrow, as the Congress will not be meeting then there will be a parade. The elections will have to take place in the hostels, so that each hostel elects one representative per 20 delegates. If there are any left over, they must be grouped. If any have to be eliminated, the Presidium will see to that. So, then, we ask you to ensure that, tomorrow, all these sections are completed. [Translation.]
The session was closed at 12.02 a.m.