Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East
The session began at 7. 15 p.m. Comrade Zinoviev took the chair.
Chairman: I declare the fifth session of the Congress of the Peoples of the East open. The Presidium proposes that we now deal with the national and colonial questions. Comrade Pavlovich will give the report.
Pavlovich: Comrades, questions of colonial and national policy have played a very big part in world history. The last world war was the result of a clash between great world powers and their attempts to gain possession of the black and, above all, the yellow continent. On the eve of the war I formulated the essence of the colonial conflicts between the European powers when I said that these conflicts could be reduced to the conflicts between three groups of letters: B-B-B, C-C-C and P-P. Germany was advancing a project for a great Berlin-Byzantium-Baghdad railway which was to bind to the German Empire, with a steel chain, the whole of the Ottoman Empire, and especially Asia Minor, and through the latter to open for German imperialism a road to Persia, India, Egypt — that is, a road to possession of the black and yellow continents. To Germanys three Bs Britain counterposed three Cs: Capetown-Cairo-Calcutta a railway which was to unite into one the whole of East Africa from South to North, and then Arabia, Mesopotamia, Southern Persia and India. Against these two projects Russia put forward its own Petersburg-to-the-Persian-Gulf project. In all of these schemes we see the struggle between the world powers for the mastery of Asia and Africa.
These questions of (predominantly) colonial policy which brought about the world war of 1914-1918 now threaten to give rise to armed conflict between the allies of yesterday: America and japan, America and Britain, and, finally, Britain and France.
From the revelations published in the French press in connection with the debates in the Senate on the occasion of Clemenceaus resignation it emerges that at the most critical moment of the war with the Triple Alliance Britain and France were preparing to tear each others throats out over the division of Asia Minor, and that Clemenceau had to give up his post in connection with very serious clashes with Britain over Syria. At the present time relations between France and Britain are extremely strained. But for fear of Soviet Russia and Bolshevism it must be supposed that the world war of 1914-1918 would long since have been transformed, as happened with the first Balkan war, into a war to the death between the victor powers. The possibility of armed conflict between France and Britain, Britain and America, or America and japan is not at all out of the question, so long as the fates of the peoples remain in the hands of the bourgeoisie. America and japan confront each other, armed to the teeth, over the question of hegemony in the Far East. If America is expanding its Navy with feverish speed, setting itself the aim of possessing by 1925 a Navy of equal strength to that of Britain, the mistress of the seas, it is doing this in order to deprive Britain of maritime hegemony and to strengthen the influence of the US in the East. If Britain is taking all possible measures against a strengthening of the maritime power of France and not allowing the submarines captured from Germany to be added to the French Navy, it is doing this because of the danger that, in the event of an armed conflict, France, possessing as it does excellent naval bases in the Mediterranean would be able. if not completely to sever, then at least to hamper gravely Britains communications, through this great sea-road, with Egypt, Asia Minor, the Persian Gulf, India — in short, with the East.
This colonial question, the question of the partition of Asia, is the mainspring of this bitter war which the capitalist world has been waging since the first day of the October Revolution against Soviet Russia. Russia inspires fear in the countries of the capitalist world not only as a beacon, a guiding star, which summons all people of courage to the struggle for a new order, not only as a country with many millions of inhabitants and extraordinarily rich in natural endowments and sources of raw material which is no longer content to remain, as it was under the Tsars, a semi-colony of Anglo-Franco-Belgian capital — Soviet Russia inspires fear and dread in world imperialism as a colony which has freed itself from foreign oppression and which not only by its very example summons the enslaved East to fight for freedom, which not only by its whole internal policy towards the backward nations contributes to the awakening and development in the East of a striving for national self-determination, but which also renders real aid to the backward and oppressed peoples living outside the borders of Russia, in their struggle against predatory international capital. [Applause.]
One of the non-Party comrades expressed his admiration for the leaders of the Communist Party, Comrades Lenin, Zinoviev and Trotsky, emphasizing the unbounded confidence placed in these highest representatives and leaders of the Soviet Power by all the nationalities inhabiting Russia, and mentioned with bitterness that some representatives of the Communist Party, pseudo-Communists, as he called them, behave in the borderlands otherwise than as they should, discrediting the Soviet power and by their conduct inciting the native population against the very idea of Soviet power. We know this. All this is possible, or rather, it is inevitable. When in the storm and stress of mighty historical events an order collapses which has stood for entire millennia, when what is involved is the abolition of such institutions as capitalist property, which has for whole centuries been striking deep roots in the soil of society, it is natural that such a geological (so to speak) revolution, the transition to a new form of life cannot take place painlessly, without unavoidable deformities and deviations, which bear only a temporary character and are of only transitory significance. But the essence of the matter consists not in the abuses committed by some unworthy individual representatives of the Soviet power and the Communist Party. The essence of the matter consists in the general direction, the basic tendency of Soviet policy in relation to the particular nations which inhabit the territory of the former Tsarist empire.
The capitalist world understands very well what this general tendency of Soviet policy is in relation to the nations which were formerly oppressed by Tsardom and those which are now oppressed by the whole capitalist world and just because the capitalist powers understand our policy so well, they have, in the interests of safeguarding their role over the peoples they exploit, declared a war to the death against Soviet Russia. [Applause.]
Who cannot see the difference between our workers and peasants socialist federation and the brigand capitalist empires? The free constitution of Britain holds in harsh slavery and strangles the 300 million people of India, who have for so long groaned under the British yoke. Republican France cruelly suppresses the slightest manifestation of desire for freedom and national self-determination in Morocco, in Algeria, in Indochina, in all its colonies. The great Transatlantic republic, the United States, still refuses to recognise the independence of Cuba and the Philippines, for whose liberation the war with Spain was allegedly begun in 1898.
At the same time the Government and the worker and peasant masses of the Russian Socialist Federal Republic joyfully greet the formation on the borders of the former Tsarist Empire — where, as in all capitalist countries, every striving for national self-determination was stifled and suppressed of the autonomous Bashkir Soviet Republic, the autonomous Tatar Socialist Soviet Republic, and so on. In all capitalist states without exception, both big and small, in France, Britain, japan, America, Holland, Belgium, Poland and the rest, we see crude violence being used against national minorities and sometimes the transformation into nations of slaves and serfs of huge communities of hundreds of millions of people who have fallen under the rule of a more organised, more civilized minority, as we see in the case of the enslaved 300 millions of India, ruled over by capitalist Britain, armed to the teeth. At one pole, in the capitalist countries there is savage suppression of national minorities, and sometimes of national majorities too, where a national minority holds the reins of government. At the other pole, in the republic of Soviets, there is the most solicitous, most fraternal feeling and attitude shown not only towards more or less big national entities but also towards the very smallest of them.
Under the first Ukrainian Peoples Republic it was the Austro-German imperialists and General Skoropadsky who ruled in the Ukraine. That was the time when, by agreement with the Germans and Austrians, Petlyuras Ukraine was obliged to supply Austria and Germany with 75 million poods of grain, 11 million poods of cattle on the hoof, and so on.
Under the second Ukrainian Peoples Republic the Ukraine was a colony of French capital, in accordance with the agreement which the mercenary Petlyura signed in Odessa with the French General D'Anselme. By this agreement nearly all the Ukraines railways and the countrys financial and military enterprises were handed over to the French stockbrokers.
The third Ukrainian Peoples Republic, promised by the same Petlyura, was merely a screen for the establishment in the Ukraine of the hated evil rule of the Polish gentry.
The whole history of the Ukraine cries out against this fresh act of betrayal by Petlyura. That history is one of heroic exploits and great defeats of the Ukrainian peasantry, the Ukrainian cattle in a struggle over many centuries against the Polish gentry. On the other hand, the whole history of the Poland of the gentry is a long series of wars against the Ukraine aimed at enslaving that country. Ukrainian literature, the immortal works of Shevchenko, Ukrainian folk-poetry, reflect this page of the long-suffering history of the Ukrainian people, whose entire development proceeded through bloody struggle against the Polish lords. All the Cossack revolts, the whole struggle of the Zaporozhian Camp the struggle of Bogdan Khmelnitsky were, fundamentally, a struggle of the Ukrainian peasants against the yoke of the Polish landowners, a struggle against the Polonizers, the enemies of the Ukrainian national language and Ukrainian culture.
And Petlyura, as a condottiere and hired bandit, offering his bloody services to anyone who will agree to pay him well, wanted to surrender the Ukrainian land, the Ukrainian language, all Ukrainian culture, to the Polish gendarme, to the insolent Polonizers, who, for example, closed Byelorussian schools and proclaimed Polish the state language even in the regions where the Polish population made up only an insignificant percentage. The Polish gentry, the Polish Kulturtrager, are already trying to Polonize Byelorussia, Volhynia and Podolia, and intend to do the same in all the regions of the Ukraine that they manage to conquer.
Tens of hundreds of honest Ukrainians, sincerely desiring the national and cultural rebirth of the Ukraine, including two pillars of Ukrainian national public opinion like Hrushevsky and Vinnichenko have become convinced that only Soviet power can now fulfil to the end the role of liberator of the Ukraine from all forms of oppression.
On May 27 the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee confirmed the decision to establish an autonomous Tatar Socialist Soviet Republic with as its centre the city of Kazan. This news evoked a mighty echo throughout the many-millioned Moslem world, in Persia, Afghanistan, Turkey and India and was, in the eyes of our Moslem brothers, the workers and peasants of the East, a fresh example of those great principles which underlie the national policy of the Russian Federal Republic. But this is not to the liking of the capitalist governments.
Let two or three decades pass and we shall see how, together with the spread of popular education in the republic of Soviets, together with the opening of thousands and thousands of schools, evening courses, academies and so on, together with the complete ending of illiteracy in Russia and in the Ukraine alone, alongside the wonderful old monuments of Russian and Ukrainian literature, with the works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Gogol and Shevchenko, great new works will appear, composed by brilliant new poets, men of letters and so on, who will have sprung from the ranks of the workers and peasants. Tatar, Bashkir, Kirghiz, etc., poetry and literature, which have only just awakened to life, will flourish luxuriantly, and all the separate streams, tributaries, rivulets and great rivers, will intermingle in a fantastic and harmonious way, merging and feeding with their living waters one common international ocean of the poetry and learning of toiling humanity, freed for the first time from national and class oppression, and will shine with such unprecedented , incomparable beauty as neither classical Greece, with all its amazing works of art, could give the world, nor the civilisation of the medieval and capitalist epochs, with all their blazing galaxy of immortal poets, artists, thinkers and scholars.
Yes, all this will be! But before we reach this wished-for future, much blood will flow and many thousands of fighters for the new order will fall beneath the enemys blows upon the battlefields, many tens and hundreds of thousands of women and children will die in their homes, or beside ruined auls, from hunger and cold. All this is inevitable, alas, and it happens not by our fault but through the criminal will of the capitalists, who do not want to give up their profits. But all fighters for a better future have to suffer in this way, and not merely the representatives of the small nations, not only the population of the borderlands. Come and see what is happening in Petrograd, Moscow, Tula, in a whole number of our cities, where, because of the criminal blockade and the bloody war that was forced upon us, hundreds of thousands of workers are faint from hunger and cold and yet have not lost heart, but march off in their thousands to the front, to lay down their lives for the Soviet power. [Applause.] They know, these heroes, that they will not die in vain, for they have given their blood for the sake of their comrades happiness, for a better future for their children and the generations to come.
The war against Soviet Russia is a war against the East.
In the giant struggle we have begun, the peoples of the East will henceforth be our loyal allies. For a war against Soviet Russia is a war against the revolutionary East, and, contrariwise, a war against the East is a war against Soviet Russia. [Applause.]
Why are Britain and France so interested in supporting Wrangel? Because Wrangel holds the Crimea, and so the rear of revolutionary Turkey is cut off, and Soviet Russia cannot bring aid to the Turkish revolutionaries. On the other hand, so long as Asia Minor is occupied by the Allies, by their expeditionary forces, our rear is threatened. The Greek occupation of Thrace and Adrianople is aimed at isolating revolutionary Turkey and Soviet Russia from the revolutionary Balkans. Finally, if European imperialism is supporting Dashnak Armenia and Menshevik Georgia with arms, money and bread, this is being done in order to support these countries as a barrier separating revolutionary Russia and Caucasia from revolutionary Turkey, Persia and India. Imperialism is everywhere raising up these artificial barriers against us, but they will all collapse under the blows of the masses in the Crimea, Georgia, Armenia, Thrace and Greece. At the same moment that the Polish mad dog was unleashed against Soviet Russia, the Greece of Venizelos was let loose on revolutionary Turkey. And now we read in the Greek papers which have reached here that an attempt has been made on Venizeloss life and he has been wounded with seven bullets.
Who made this attempt? Turks, Bulgars, Russians? No, two Greeks! [Applause.]
Does not this attempt show that in Greece itself, transformed from a poor country of four million people into a big military power with a population of twelve millions, discontent is growing against the imperialist policy of Venizelos, which is urging the country towards the abyss of ultimate ruin? Capitalism is digging its own grave, but in order to hasten the death of capitalism the peoples of the East must, shoulder to shoulder with Soviet Russia, strike the final blows at the world bourgeoisie. The revolutionary East must conclude a close alliance with Soviet Russia. The transitional form to complete union of the toiling masses is a federation of Soviet states.
The Turkish comrades expressed the view, in their appeal to Soviet Russia, that the question of the Dardanelles should be decided by the states bordering on the Black Sea, excluding participation by Wrangel and the Entente. We warmly welcome this idea, the realization of which would be a first and decisive step towards a federation of all the peoples and countries whose territories adjoin the Black Sea. [Applause.]
The renegade Hervé, in one of his articles in defence of the Poland of the gentry which has attacked Soviet Russia, howled: If the first defence-line which European civilisation established against Asiatic barbarism by creating Poland is broken, the Governments of Europe will have to concentrate all their forces on the second and last defence-line, which runs, close to Paris, Brussels and London, along the Rhine, in order to protect European culture from the invasion of Asiatic cholera, yellow plague, vodka-inflamed savagery and fanaticism which is advancing, in the shape of the Red Army, upon the whole civilised world.'
The Russian Communists are proud of all these attacks made against them. One of the fundamental features of the Third International is that it sides with the revolutionary movement of the oppressed peoples not in words but in deeds, and makes it a duty for the Communist Parties of all countries, especially the oppressor countries, to give most active aid to the national-revolutionary movement in the more backward states and nations. [Applause.]
The leader of the Georgian Mensheviks, Zhordania, counterposes to the Asiatic policy of the Bolsheviks the so-called European line of the Mensheviks; the Mensheviks, he says, are European socialists; we, says Zhordania of himself and his friends, are bearers of culture and civilization, whereas Muscovy means Asia with its inertia of fanaticism.
We can now reply to Zhordania that the entire Third International shares at the present time the viewpoint of the Bolsheviks, that all Communists — Russian, French, British, Italians and so on have now become Asians, and are resolved to help every revolutionary movement in the East and in Africa. The workers now know that when in Britain a decision is taken regarding Persia, India or Asia Minor, or merely affecting one province of Turkey, or when what is involved is Anatolia, Syria or Arabia, this directly affects the fate of the Italian, British, American and the whole world-wide working-class movement, and that all these questions call for their immediate intervention and action. The French, British and Italian workers who march under the banner of Communism must not allow European troops to be sent to Anatolia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Constantinople and so on; and we can hope that the day is not far off when the whole international proletariat will fight as vigorously against the strangling of the East as it is now fighting against the strangling and blockading of Soviet Russia. [Applause.] The Third International, that is, the Communists of the whole world, take as their basic task to explain this simple truth, that so long as the yellow and black continents are oppressed, so long as European mercenaries are killing Turks, Persians, Arabs, Egyptians and so on, the European worker will be unable to cast off his own chains and will remain a slave of the capitalist. For this reason the Third International calls on the European workers to fight for the liberation of the East.
This is not the attitude to the colonial question taken by the Second International, this is not the current line of action of the yellow traitor International headed by Kautsky, Renaudel, Vandervelde and other agents of imperialism.
By its very nature, that International was incapable of supporting the revolutionary movement among the oppressed peoples in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Asia Minor, Persia, India, Egypt and so forth. Even less was it capable of taking the initiative in bringing revolution to the black and yellow continents or even simply in making propaganda for ideas of liberation among the suffering masses of Asia and Africa. The Second International did not and does not want to know the East from that angle. Of course, the leaders of the Second International have allowed themselves to discuss the colonial policy of their governments and sometimes they even publish, in Paris, London or Berlin, books and pamphlets on these themes, such as the book by Charles Dumas and so on; but these gentlemen have not translated their books and pamphlets into the native languages, and have written on colonial matters merely so as to attract attention to themselves in the metropolitan countries, either in parliamentary circles generally or in the socialist parties in particular, and in fact all these fervent defenders of the natives support the colonial policies of their Governments. When the news was received of the pogroms against the Armenians in Turkey, the European Socialists eagerly organised demonstrations and big meetings to protest against the bloody Sultan. But when the French Government sent, year after year, ever-increasing numbers of troops to Morocco and massacred Moslem tribesmen, then the socialists. remained silent, as they did also in relation to the cruelties committed in India, the strangling of Persia, the enslavement of Egypt, and the mass exterminations and bloody orgies carried out by the British troops in the black continent.
Moreover, there are socialists such as Lagrosilliere Party members, delegates to all manner of socialist congresses, national and international, who openly defend colonial policy, justifying it by the need to bring the natives the blessings of civilisation and progress.
The Second International did not want to know about the East, was not interested in the fate of the peoples of the black and yellow continents. True, when the news came about the anti-Armenian pogroms in Turkey the whole press of the Second International printed indignant articles in favour of the Armenians and impressive demonstrations were held. But all this was done merely for the benefit of the capitalist governments, who obtained a fresh occasion for interfering in Turkish affairs. The socialists had one attitude to the anti-Armenian pogroms and another to the pogroms, slaughter and extermination of the native population in Morocco, Algeria, India, etc.
We condemn anti-Armenian pogroms and will fight against them, but at the same time we make it a duty of members of the Third International, representatives of the French and British Parties, to fight with all their power, and not just in words but in deeds, against colonial policy generally, against the oppression and extermination of the inhabitants of Morocco, India, Indochina, Algeria and Turkestan.
The best illustration of the Second Internationals policy on the colonial question is the fact that at their congress in Geneva not a single word was uttered about the East.
As Comrade Zinoviev showed you, the world war has resulted in the whole world being divided into two groups of nations, with a small group of privileged, exploiting, first-class nations, numbering a quarter of a milliard people, separated off from the rest.
As a consequence of this state of affairs, class contradictions have been still further intensified throughout the world, both in the metropolitan countries and in the colonies.
Poverty has been intensified to an extreme degree among the population of the victor countries. The value of money has fallen, goods have become more expensive, the productivity of labour has declined. Britain, France, even America, are going through a profound economic crisis. In America 2,000 strikes broke out in one month alone. Throughout the capitalist world the workers are not what they were before. Bourgeois economists complain that the proletariat has been engulfed by a wave of laziness and work-shyness, that the working class is suffering from a paralysis of the will. Yes, in a certain sense this is true. The European worker is already psychologically incapable of working for the capitalist as he used to. He wants to suffer and undergo torments, like the Russian worker, for his own interests, for the interests of his own class, and not for the sake of the dividends and profits of the exploiting class. [Applause.]
And so we come to the recent efforts directed at intensified exploitation of black and yellow labour. But the East does not want to be a means of enrichment for the capitalists of Europe. It not only does not want to be exploited more than before, but does not want to be an object of exploitation at all. [Applause.] The East is no longer what it used to be, either economically or spiritually.
On the one hand, in some eastern countries (such as, for example, India), during recent decades and especially during the world war, when the metropolis was unable to cope with the demands of the army and navy, a fairly well-developed industry came into existence. In sugar-production India holds a very prominent place on the world market (three million tons, out of the worlds production of 16 million). The tobacco, tea and jute industries, and the textile industry in general are strongly developed in India. Altogether, there are about 15 million factory workers and weavers in the country. For the length of its railway network India holds fourth place in the world, being surpassed only by the USA, Germany and Russia. Consequently, there is a numerous railway proletariat in India.
Together with this development of industry in India and some parts of China we see a more extreme intensification of poverty and of class contradictions throughout the East. In India, China, Persia, Bukhara and elsewhere the rich have become still richer and the poor still poorer.
In Bukhara the peasants (dekkhans) drag out a very miserable existence. Their situation recalls the dark days of serfdom. They are robbed by everyone, from the mirza to the Emir, and in recent years the burden of taxation in Bukhara has grown markedly heavier. Not long ago, fifty dekkhans sold all their cattle and farm implements in order to pay their taxes. Many sold their houses and their plots of land. Cotton is sown only by the rich, and owing to their lack of seed the poor peasants have this year sown only one-tenth of the area they sowed previously.
In Persia all the peasants are landless and all the land belongs to two or three thousand big landowners (molkadars). Many people have asserted that the Eastern peoples must necessarily pass through the stage of capitalism before reaching communism. The Third International has come to the conclusion, as the result of the debates at its Second Congress, that, with the aid of the advanced proletarian countries, the backward peoples can go over to the Soviet system and pass through a certain stage to communism, missing out the capitalist phase of development. [Applause.]
The popular masses of the East are not so well educated as the working masses of the West, but the heart of the man of the East, awakened by the thunder of the revolutionary events in Russia, is filled with self-sacrificing zeal and burns with a bright fire of hatred for the oppressors, a sacred fire of struggle.
The entire East is saturated with the bacteria of revolution. Millions of the suffering masses of the East are gripped by the spirit of protest and are straining to go into battle.
If into this compound which is densely saturated with revolutionary bacteria we introduce a crystal in the form of peasant soviets, soviets of the toilers, the resulting crystallisation will proceed with rapid strides, and we shall significantly advance the cause of the revolutionary education and organisation of the masses of the East in the struggle against the world of the predators, the struggle for a new social order. [Applause.]
The idea of Soviet organisation, as Comrade Lenin has rightly said, can be applied not only to proletarian but also to feudal and semi-feudal relations. Peasant soviets, toilers soviets are a means appropriate not only for capitalist countries but also for countries where pre-capitalist relations prevail.
Formation of such soviets facilitates the struggle of the toiling masses both against their own exploiters — the landlords, capitalists and speculators and against world imperialism, whose agents and accomplices all these molkadars, zemindars, Khans, Beys, Pashas and so on are. [Applause.]
The working masses of the East must rise up against their enemies, both internal and external, but the Eastern peoples cannot by their own strength, without the help of the revolutionary world proletariat, liberate themselves from the yoke of the aggressors.
The history of the Russian revolution of 1905 and of the Persian, Turkish and Chinese revolutions of 1908-1910, which were suppressed by the power of international capitalism — for the Russian revolution of 1905 was overcome thanks to the French Bourse, which supplied the Tsar with milliards of francs and the history of Soviet Russia, victoriously defending itself against the onslaught of world imperialism, show at one and the same time both all the difficulty of the struggle against world capitalism and the conditions for victory over it.
Comrades, it is necessary not to lose sight of the simple truth that the peoples of the East will not achieve their freedom unless they unite with the proletariat of all countries. Britain, that mighty military and economic organism, against which we are beginning a decisive war with our joint efforts, can be overcome only with the co-operation of the British proletariat itself.
Where lies the strength of Soviet Russia in its struggle against the capitalist powers? How is the fact to be explained that this country, gripped by a chain of hunger and cold, blockaded on all sides, sustained for three years a war with the most powerful states in the world? The explanation is that a considerable part, the best part of the British. Spanish, French and Italian proletariat, whose representatives you see here, that this part is with us, that it refuses to help its own capitalist governments strangle Soviet Russia.
The source of Soviet Russias might is the sympathy of the international proletariat. And what is the reason for this sympathy? The fact that Russia is the land of the proletariat, of Soviet power. The European Governments are no longer able to send their own troops against Russia, but have to hire mercenaries in the shape of the Polish landlords, the Czechoslovaks, and so on.
If the Eastern peoples want to have the benefit of the sympathy of the international proletariat, they too must fight for Soviet power, for the principles proclaimed by Soviet Russia.
If the capitalist states, which have millions of men under arms, are not in a position to despatch troops against Russia, this is because for the European workers fighting against Soviet Russia is equivalent to fighting not only against the Russian proletariat but against the proletariat of their own countries. Fighting against Russia means, from the standpoint of the French and British workers, committing class suicide. [Applause.]
But the British workers who organise Councils of Action to oppose their own government in its fight against Soviet Russia react very feebly to the events in Ireland, where a war to the death is being waged against the British bourgeoisie for national self-determination.
At best the rank-and-file British worker can only feel sympathy with the Irish in their hard fight for self-determination, but the Irish epic does not kindle the enthusiasm in the breast of the British, French and Italian proletariat, does not touch those strings which are plucked by the gigantic struggle of the Russian people against world imperialism.
Indeed, suppose the Irish separatists succeed in their aim and realise their cherished ideal of an independent Irish people. The very next day, independent Ireland would fall under the yoke of American capital or of the French Bourse, and, perhaps, within a year or two Ireland would be fighting against Britain or some other states in alliance with one of the world predators, for markets, for coal-mines, for iron-mines, for bits of territory in Africa, and once again hundreds of thousands of British, Irish, American and other workers would die in this war.
The example of Poland, whose bourgeois and landlord representatives bewailed for decades, up and down the scale, the partition of the old Rzeczpospolita, and wrote ardent articles about respect for the national rights of peoples — the example of this bourgeois Poland, which is now behaving as a hangman towards the national minorities on its own territory, and serving as the gendarme of international capitalism for struggle against the workers and peasants of Russia; or the example of the Balkan states Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece squabbling amongst themselves over the division of the booty and over their desire to annex to their own territory some nation which was only yesterday under the Turkish yoke; and a whole number of other facts of the same sort show that the formation of national states in the East, in which power has passed from the foreign rulers who have been driven out into the hands of the local capitalists and landlords, does not in itself constitute a great step forward in the matter of improving the position of the popular masses.
Within the framework of the capitalist system, any newly-formed state which does not express the interests of the toiling masses but serves the interests of the bourgeoisie is a new instrument of oppression and coercion, a new factor of war and violence.
If the struggle in Persia, India and Turkey were to lead merely to the capitalists and landlords of those countries, with their national parliaments and senates, coming to power, the masses of the people would have gained nothing.
Every newly-formed state would be rapidly drawn, by the very course of events and the iron logic of the laws of capitalist economy, into the vicious circle of militarism and imperialist politics, and after a few decades we should witness another world war, the horrors of which would make the war of 1914-1918 pale into insignificance, for there would take part in it not tens but hundreds of millions of soldiers, armed to the teeth, from the black, yellow and white continents — another war for the interests of the French, German, British, Indian, Chinese, Persian and Turkish bankers and factory-owners. [Applause.]
What will be the result of the formation of a re-born, powerful Turkey, if power remains in the hands of the rich, the speculators and the landlords? The examples provided by the recent past — the warlike policy of Envers Turkey, and the behaviour of newly free and independent bourgeois states such as Georgia and Armenia provide abundant illustrations of what I have said.
The Turkey of Enver Pasha made an alliance with the Germany of that same Wilhelm who proclaimed the need for a union of all the Western peoples for war against the East. The behaviour of the Turkish representatives at the Brest conference was disgraceful. Yet the Turkish nationalists were not content with the conditions of the monstrous Brest peace.
Turkey seized Ardahan, Kars and Batum. Moreover, the Turkish forces advanced still further and seized Akhaltsykh and Alexandropol. Georgia was spared only through the intervention of Germany. Then the Turks threw themselves upon Azerbaidzhan and seized Baku. The two-months rule of the Turks in Baku was the blackest page in the history of that long-suffering city, the stronghold of the proletariat in Caucasia.
The Georgia of Noah Ramishvili and Zhordania is ravaging and plundering Southern Ossetia, razing its auls to the ground, and terrorizing the population, forcing them to flee into Soviet Russia. Georgian punitive expeditions under the command of the monarchist Colonel Tukhareli are burning entire villages in Abkhazia.
Georgia lays claim to Azerbaidzhanian territory, and in 1918 it began a war with Armenia which was stopped only by the intervention of Britain.
Armenia claims Karabagh and Zangezur (the secret letter of General Dro about the occupation of these territories, dated August 4, 1920, has become well-known). Furthermore, the Georgian imperialists have put forward truly megalomaniac plans for the annexation of Van, Trebizond, Bitlis, Erzerum and Diarbekr, with outlets to the sea. Armenia wants to become a great Mediterranean power, ruling over territories in which Armenians constitute at most 50 per cent of the population. The Armenian papers invite the Greece of Venizelos to occupy Trebizond — a regular provocation.
The masses must rise up against their enslavers, both native and foreign. If the national revolutionary movement were to lead merely to the formation of new, powerful Eastern states in which the local bourgeoisie ruled, with Indian, Persian, etc., parliaments, then within decades we should have another frightful world war, in comparison with which all the horrors of the war of 1914-1918 would seem trivial.
From all this let us draw the following conclusions. The Communist International recognises no colonial policy of any sort. The peoples of the East will take this proposition of the Third International and put it into effect by force of arms. There ought not to be any colonies. All nations have equal rights. Out with the British violators from India, Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia! Out with the French bandits from Syria, and with the Greek bandits from Cilicia, Smyrna, etc.! The peoples of the East will brand the Second International with shame and will join with the Third International in saying: Traitors, renegades, hirelings of capital, get out of the ranks of the International! The fact that the whole world has up to now been divided into two groups of nations — the oppressors and the oppressed is due, first, to the crude violence of the bourgeois governments, which have put down with fire and sword any manifestation of striving for national self-determination; second, to dissension among the toiling masses of the East; and, third, to the traitorous conduct of the native rich, the landlords, of whom there are plenty in any Eastern country. All these Moroccan, Algerian, Persian, Turkish, Indian and Bukharan rich men and landowners mulaygafis, hadjis, pashas, beys, mimas, emirs, shahs, khans, maharajas, molkadars, zemindars are agents of international imperialism, supporting the power of foreign capitalists, of the world bourgeoisie.
The revolutionary national movement will improve the position of the masses of the people only if it constitutes a decisive stage towards a profound and far-reaching socialist movement.
The main guarantee of victory for the Eastern peoples in the struggle against the monster of world imperialism, against that fire-breathing dragon compared with which all the fantastic, fabulous creatures of terror created by folk-imagination seem wretched pygmies and dwarfs, is unity of the toiling masses not only of the entire East but also of the West. This war can end successfully only if it be waged on both fronts — against foreign capital and against ones own bourgeoisie.
In order that this condition may be fulfilled by the revolutionary masses of the East, they must organise around peasant soviets, soviets of the working people.
The Eastern masses can win victory in the struggle for freedom only by rapprochement with the working masses of the West. How can this rapprochement be hastened? The first step towards it must be a close alliance between all the peoples of the East and Soviet Russia, in which the entire international proletariat sees the advance-guard, the pioneer of the world revolution. The transitional form to full unity of the toiling masses of the different nations is a federation of Soviet states of the East for struggle both against the plans of conquest of the imperialist powers and against the machinations of the internal enemies.
Accordingly, in order to put an end to the fratricidal war between the Georgian, Armenian and Turkish workers and peasants it is necessary first and foremost to establish Soviet power in all these countries, and then to form a federation of the peoples who inhabit them.
In order to settle the question of the Dardanelles it is necessary to form a Black Sea federation. The principle of federation has shown its viability in external relations by the example of the former Red Hungary, of the Ukraine, and so on, and in internal policy in connection with the Tatar and Bashkir republics.
Only the dictatorship of the proletariat and, in general, of the working masses, liberated from foreign oppression and having overthrown capital completely, will provide the backward countries with a guarantee that these countries will not, like the states formed from fragments of the Austro-Hungarian empire and Tsarist Russia Poland, White Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Georgia, Armenia — or formed from fragments of Turkey Venizelist Greece and the rest be new instruments for war, plunder and coercion.
Only the complete triumph of labour over capital reduced to dust will guarantee peace between the toilers of all countries.
Arise, peoples of the East! The Third International summons you to a holy war against the carrion-crows of capitalism. Comrade delegates, develop the class-consciousness of the popular masses, organise them around peasant soviets, soviets of the toilers, summon all the toilers to ally themselves with Soviet Russia, propagate the idea of a federation of oppressed nations, and, finally, create a union of the proletarians and peasants of all countries, religions and languages.
We must by the united efforts of the working people of all lands put an end to world imperialism and the coercion of one nation by another. We must put an end to the colonial policy of the capitalist powers and enable all countries to live in freedom and independence.
For this it is necessary to take the revolutionary road and prepare for the decisive battle, prepare the masses for immediate armed offensive, in serried ranks and close columns. Make haste, for one cannot postpone the revolution! Delay means death! [Applause.]
Otherwise, economic ruin will spread, the economic abyss will become wider and deeper, want will increase, decay will be intensified.
For six years now the bourgeoisie has been exclusively occupied with war and plunder, and it will not cease from this work of destruction, having become transformed into a highway robber.
There was a time when the bourgeoisie, in spite of everything, carried mankind forward, at any rate in the field of industrial progress, of the growth of the productive forces. Now it is dragging mankind back in every field, pushing it towards final. destruction. Post-war capitalism has all the robber habits of the newly-rich upstart, while at the same time it shivers with fits of fever and organic convulsions, being undermined by every sort of excess and standing on the brink of death. Is it surprising that even the most moderate and recently peace-loving bourgeois of the pre-war epoch, poisoned by all the miasmas with which the atmosphere of imaginary wealth and merely outward-seeming prosperity is thick, trembling before the spectre of imminent bankruptcy which rises up at every moment, have literally lost their heads and have become transformed into raging beasts, capable only of hurling themselves upon the creatures around them, biting and tearing them to pieces?
The world bourgeoisie, like a badly wounded beast, is thrashing about in convulsions, in fury, striking blows with its teeth and claws not only at living creatures but at whatever inanimate objects it can reach in its convulsive leaps.
This badly wounded beast must not be allowed to recover. The working masses of the East must rise as one man and, in alliance with the proletariat of Russia and the revolutionary elements of an Europe and America launch an attack upon the imperialist predator, the evil vampire which holds in slavery hundreds and hundreds of millions of people in the white, yellow and black continents.
To us revolutionaries there is nobody, after the hangman, more contemptible than the latters victim who submissively and without a struggle yields himself to suffering and torture.
This final duel which we are beginning to fight will require of us bloody sacrifices and hard efforts, but we shall win. We shall march forward, never looking back.
Comrades, Oriental fantasy has created a fable which shows symbolically, so to speak, the conditions under which a man or a people, having undertaken a certain task, can succeed in accomplishing it. This fable tells of three wonders of nature which are situated on the summit of a magic mountain. Many brave heroes have set out to win these treasures, but as soon as anyone approaches the magic mountain, voices begin to resound, calling on the brave man to turn back. They are either the plaintive moans and cries of children, wives, fathers and mothers, appealing to the bold spirit to return and not to risk his life for a chimera, or else terrible shouts which resemble the frightful howling of a storm, or claps of thunder. Thousands and thousands of daring fellows failed the test — they looked back to where these sounds were coming from, and were transformed into stone statues. And the whole mountain, from foot to summit, became strewn with these lifeless figures of stone into which living men had been transformed. But then a courageous and strong-willed man came along. He began to climb the mountain paying no attention either to the tender prayers of his kinsfolk or to the terrible shouts and frightening voices which sounded from behind him, threatening him with all the plagues of Egypt and a most painful death. He did not look back, but marched forward, fastening his gaze upon the summit of the mountain. And he achieved his aim, gaining possession of the treasures that were on the mountaintop.
And now comrades, you are beginning your ascent of the mountain in order to win all the treasures of the world. And you will hear the voices of those who are near to you, appealing to you not to risk your lives, you will hear the terrifying cries of all sorts of Moslem bigots, Pan-Turkic and Pan-Islamic fanatics, Georgian and Armenian Mensheviks and Dashnaks, who will threaten you with all sorts of bogies, but you will march forward, ignoring these cries, will climb the mountain, arms in hand, without looking back — otherwise you will be transformed into images of stone. [Applause.]
But you will reach the mountain-top, you will gain possession of the wonders of the world, you will see the realm of brotherhood, freedom, real equality of nations, the realm of labour. [Applause.]
Long live the offensive military alliance of the working masses of East and West!
Long live the international Soviet republic of labour, in which there will be no enslaved, no oppressed peoples!
Long live Soviet power throughout the world!
Long live the Third, Communist International! [Applause.]
Chairman: Comrades, before proceeding to the translation, we should like to put a proposal to you. In order to underline the aspirations of the Congress and hasten the emancipation of women in the East, we ask you to confirm the inclusion in the Presidium of these three women: Bulach, from Daghestan, Nadjia Hanum, from Turkey, and Shabanova, from Azerbaidzhan. [Voices.. Please, please. Applause, rising to an ovation.]
Comrade Nadjia Hanum will say a few words.
[Nadjia Hanum speaks in Turkish. — Loud and prolonged applause.]
Chairman: Long live the emancipation of the women of the East! [Loud applause. Shouts of Hurrah! All stand. Ovation.]
Chairman: Yashasun shargin azad hanum lari!
Shabanova: Long live our comrades Lenin, Zinoviev and Trotsky! [Shouts of Hurrah! Applause. Ovation. Exclamations in various languages resound through the hall, covered by the roar of clapping]
Chairman: I call for the translation of Comrade Pavlovichs speech. The translation must be brief, in accordance with our decision of yesterday. I call on Comrade Sultan Zade to give the translation.
[Sultan Zade translates.]
Zinoviev: In view of the fact that the Congress is very tired, both fractions propose that we confine ourselves to hearing two speakers only, one from each fraction. The speakers nominated are Comrades Mutushev and Ryskulov. These comrades will be allowed ten minutes each, and we shall then take the vote. Please translate. [Translation.]
I call upon Comrade Mutushev.
Mutushev (Communist): Comrades, my time is very limited, so I request your co-operation as regards silence and attention. The picture of the national and colonial question as it stands today has been drawn for you so far as its general features are concerned. It is fitting to add to the strokes drawn by the comrade who gave the report a few words about national-colonial policy — to look at the question, so to speak, in movement, from a definite point of view.
Comrades, we have to approach this serious question in a realistic way. It is not a question that is raised merely for effect, but an extremely vital one, on the correct solution of which the entire fate of the revolution depends. In the short time which I have at my disposal I shall try to give you a brief account of the actual, objective situation.
What is the East? The division between East and West has its own history, but, in the last analysis, we mean by the East today the countries of Asia and of the north coast of Africa, mainly Egypt. In particular, by the Moslem East we mean: Turkey, Persia, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Bukhara, Khiva and all the regions of Turkestan, India, and part of China. That is what is meant by the Moslem East. Naturally, in such an extensive territory as this there is tremendous heterogeneity, an enormous exotic bouquet of nationalities, speaking a variety of languages, but they are all united by common features in their culture — by Islam.
It is, of course, impossible in ten minutes, to embrace this ocean of concepts called the East. Accordingly, in speaking about national-colonial policy, we shall examine this question within the limits of our programme.
Comrades, taking stock of an objective situation means making an assessment of reality which is realistic and as accurate as possible, looking to see how property is distributed, what the means of production are, and what the production relations are; furthermore, it means taking into account the colossal ideological stock of spiritual culture which has been conditioned by the given economic basis. That is, strictly speaking, what is meant by taking stock of an objective situation, and to do that I unfortunately lack the time. By developing revolutionary tactics the Soviet power, which heads and inspires the revolutionary movement in the East., gives guidance to this movement and brings to the East the totality of its proletarian Soviet culture. Is there such a culture, is there a proletarian culture, and, if so, what is it? I take it as my task to show to you that, in the situation which has come about, the only way out for the peoples of the East is through very close alliance and living contact with Soviet Russia, as the leader of the revolutionary movement on the world scale. Let us first of all note what exists in the areas concerned before we proceed to what is entering the East. In the East we have masses of peasants and, with rare exceptions, an almost complete absence of a factory proletariat. We ask ourselves, where is the centre, where is that main point around which the social revolution in the East has to be accomplished? The answer is: the peasant masses, agrarian relations, the barbarous despotism of the local rulers, and the imperialism of the West. And we understand the revolutionary movement in the East as meaning: organisation of the peasantry against the feudal survivals with which the sad life of the East is so filled, and overthrow of the shameless, predatory imperialism of the West. just as in past times the movement of the peoples from East to West was agrarian, concerned with land, so also now, in the twentieth century, the movement of the revolution from West to East will be basically a movement concerned with land. We bring to the East emancipation of the land and of the working peasantry.
Let us look at Turkey, which has played so big a role throughout the East. It is a striking picture, at which we have only to glance in order to feel the social ghastliness of rural life as led by the Turkish peasantry. Twelve years of unbroken rule in Turkey by the party of Disunion and Regress, crowning the previous nightmare history of the Sultans absolutism, has brought the Anatolian peasants to a state of pauperism. Here is the picture. Far off on the horizon we see a Turkish aul. In the foreground a grey-haired old Turk is ploughing the land: he has harnessed to the plough, along with his one and only ox, his own daughter. The tremendous social significance of this picture is clear. All the young men have been taken away from productive work to fight in wars, and almost all the draught animals have been killed. This is the economic dead-end into which Turkish absolutism, with the benevolent co-operation of Western imperialism, has led the Turkish peasantry. This is the fulcrum upon which the lever of the revolution must accomplish social revolution in Turkey. There is, however, a spark of proletarian organisation in Turkey, there are Communist cells which carry on propaganda both legal and illegal. Mustafa Kemals movement is a national-liberation movement. We support it; but as soon as the struggle against imperialism is concluded we are sure that this movement will advance to a social revolution. Let us proceed to Persia. The dreadful situation of unheard-of poverty in which the Persian peasants live has lasted for many years. It is enough to look round in the streets of Baku and you will see a mass of people who are dragging out a most miserable existence — products of an inhuman capitalist economy, the so-called ambali. When you look at these human beings who have been deprived of the elementary meaning of life, who spend the whole day engaged in the heaviest labour merely so as not to die of hunger that same night, you realise that in Persia there is an excess of working population, that the soil exists there for social revolution. It is not hard to appreciate what goes on farther off, in Afghanistan, Baluchistan and India, under the paternal care of British imperialism. From India the European brigands extort countless treasures, while the legitimate owners of these treasures the workers and peasants of India die like flies from hunger and epidemics. I think that everyone understands that the whole essence of our work at this Congress is to explain that Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat, awareness of the common interests and tasks of the whole of toiling mankind, is the sine qua non for the victory of labour over capital and the emancipation of the oppressed masses of mankind from the yoke of imperialism.
What cultural assets does the proletariat possess and what does it bring to the East? The scientific basis of Communism is furnished by the works of Marx, Engels and many other learned men. This trend in social science is called Marxism, historical materialism. Thus, in working out their proletarian conception of the world the toilers possess a scientific asset to which the bourgeoisie has no equal. It must be added that the proletariat sees itself as a class which cannot free itself from the yoke of capital without also freeing all the other classes of society. From this it is clear that the proletariat is the only class which strives to realise a culture truly common to all mankind. It brings to the East not disunity but the unity of all the working people of the human race, towards which purpose it has created great cultural assets in the shape of the trades unions and co-operatives. This is the outstanding strength of the proletariat, expressed in the mutual solidarity it has established — mutual confidence and firm determination to go forward together to the final, life-and-death battle with capital. Moreover, the proletariat has created an unprecedented form of governmental organisation Soviet power. This is a very great achievement by the proletariat in the political field: very simple in structure, brilliant in concept. These are the cultural assets which the proletariat is bringing to the East in the name of the emancipation and liberation of the oppressed masses. Of course, every human movement has its shortcomings: here too, matters do not proceed without unevenness, and so it is necessary to say a few words about the peculiar features of proletarian culture, so that you may realise that shortcomings are inevitable, that it is pointless to talk about some shortcomings, and that, finally, there are and will be shortcomings about which it is dishonest to remain silent.
The famous Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas distinguished between the church militant, fighting for its place in the world arena, and the church triumphant in its victory. The former is romantic, the latter classical. But it is not only the church that experiences this fate — the same is true of art and culture. Every culture is at first a militant culture, a culture fighting for the right to exist. Proletarian culture is a culture of struggle, of quest for the true roads by which mankind must advance: it is a romantic and not yet a classical culture. There is no triumphant tranquillity in it, it is all passion and fervour, and this is why it includes both mistakes and shortcomings. Do not forget, either. that the class struggle, the social revolution, is a life-and-death battle between two irreconcilable camps. From this battle either labour or capital will emerge victorious, or else they will both perish. The salvation of the East lies in the victory of the proletariat, and so our only road is that of contact with Soviet Russia. Under its leadership and instruction, along with it, we must go forward against the common enemy world capital. I have briefly spoken to you about what exists in the East and what is entering the East. The policy of the proletariat on the national and colonial question is expressed in the resolutions of the Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, the main burden of which is as follows: unity of the proletariat and semi-proletariat of all countries and all nations, that is, what we see before us in the shape of the Third International; and abolition of the privileges and domination of one nation over another, with federation as the transitional form of the union of all the working people ...
The Chairman announces that the time allowed for the speech is up. [Voices: Please continue.] The comrade has spoken for 20 minutes. Thats more than ten minutes, but, if the Congress is willing, he can, of course, be allowed to finish his speech. [Voices: Please, please.]
Will those in favour of Comrade Mutushev finishing his speech please raise their hands? Who is against? There is a majority for. So, then, the Congress wants Comrade Mutushev to go on with his speech. Comrade Mutushev, please continue.
Mutushev: [Applause.] Comrades, I was interrupted and I dont remember what I was saying at that moment. Although I have been enabled to continue, it is not possible to enlarge very much owing to the lack of time.
My only desire is that you may take away from this Congress one simple idea, one firm consciousness, namely, that we shall either perish together with Soviet Russia or shall together with Soviet Russia live a bright new life based on Communist principles — that there are on our planet two centres: the centre of bourgeois domination, Versailles, and the centre of proletarian struggle, Red Moscow.
Comrades, I should like to remind you that our ancestors at one time advanced from the East to the West as predatory conquerors, and while there is distrust among the oppressed peoples of the East towards the oppressor countries of the West, there is also the same distrust, as a survival from the past, in the countries of the West towards the peoples of the East. The days of Tamerlane and Genghis Khan have not been forgotten. The working masses of the East and the West must not permit such mutual distrust to continue, for they have a common foe — world capital and imperialism. Let me remind you of some lines from the verses of the great Lermontov: The East shall not affright my case, Kazbek made answer fair; Already nine long centuries the race of men sleeps there. Today we can say with pride that the East is awakening from its sleep of centuries and coming out on to the common human road of social construction in fraternal unity and contact with the proletariat of the West, embodied in Red Russia. I should like to draw for you one sharp stroke so as to portray in your imaginations that culture and civilisation which Western imperialism is bringing to the East, to the colonies. The poet Gorodetsky expressed in his poem Coffee, which was published in the Baku workers paper Voyenmor, the whole power of poetic protest against this culture. On the island of Java a native girl with a dark-red skin is picking coffee. On the quay a Britisher, whip in hand, is supervising the packing of the coffee, and when the work slackens however slightly he urges the slaves on with cruel blows of his civilized knout. And on the island of Java wounds and groans poison life for the dark-red native girl. The poem continues. The coffee has been picked and sent off to Europe and America. In restaurants in Paris, London or Chicago, the bourgeois, accompanied by prostitutes, guzzles on profit extracted from the sweat and blood of the proletariat. And he drinks the coffee that the Britisher got from Java. The poet writes, inspired by all the power of his poets heart: This is why, when the black coffee bubbles with a golden glint in the porcelain cup, there rises to the brain a wave of desire for violent actions, and the heart suddenly, yearns for catastrophe. Blow up Europe! Sweep away with fierce will the evil shamelessness of buying and selling! No whip is needed for the flowers of the magnolia, no guard for the sun that shines on the ocean. [Applause.]
Chairman: Please take your seats. I call upon Comrade Ryskulov. [Applause.]
Ryskulov: The colonial and national questions, which we are discussing today, are of very great importance for us. These questions are also very important for the capitalist system.
The last half-century of the existence of the capitalist system has been mainly based on this colonial, national policy. If we follow the activity of the capitalist powers during the last half-century we see that this last stage is a completely new form of the capitalist system, what Comrade Lenin has called monopoly capitalism, that is, the stage of capitalism in which large markets have been concentrated in the hands of separate alliances of capitalists, trusts, and in which competition proceeds between these separate alliances and groups.
As a result of this policy, this competition, we see the frenzied grabbing of colonies and of particular markets, and the forcible transformation of the inhabitants of these colonies into slaves subject to inhuman exploitation.
We see that the territories of the black continent of Africa and of Asia have been more and more completely divided up between particular big states. As a result of this colonial policy, the world powers which are at the head of this policy clashed in their interests, formed two coalitions, and brought about the five-years war which we have experienced, and this has resulted in the social revolution which has taken place in Europe and has begun in the East.
At the present time it is quite pointless to dwell upon the different features of particular forms of colonial exploitation, for we have left this period behind us.
When the Second International existed, colonial policy was discussed, but only on paper, in words. Essentially, the Second International endorsed the striving of the great powers for conquest. Today the Eastern question presents itself in quite a different way.
With the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, with the victory of the Communist Party, we see that light has been thrown upon the colonial question from a different angle. There is no longer that fear which the leaders of the Second International entertained that the peoples of the East would destroy the culture of Europe. The leaders of the Second International feared this. They feared to offend the feelings of their bourgeois rulers. But there is nothing of this, nothing at all in the Communist Party, in the Third International.
The slogan of unity of the Western proletariat with the revolutionary tendency in the East, the peasants and working peoples movement in the East, has been firmly advanced.
Despite the fact that the Communist tendency is growing stronger in all countries, despite the fact that the Third International is a mighty force which is shaking the foundations of capitalism, despite the achievement of the victory of socialism, nevertheless the colonial question is of paramount importance for our policy, along with the agrarian question.
Correct solving of these questions is of enormous importance, and we can promote the solution of our tasks by presenting these questions correctly.
At the present time conditions in the East are completely favourable for the introduction of a revolutionary movement, for drawing the mass of the working people into the socialist movement. A precondition for this is the situation of the peasants which has come about as a result of the colonial activity of the great powers. A pre-condition for this is the legacy of the five-years war, which has created a mass of poverty, oppression and ruin in the colonies. As a result, the working people of the colonies are prepared for revolt, prepared for a revolutionary offensive against imperialism.
But while in the West the socialist movement takes the form of a Communist movement, we certainly cannot count on a purely Communist movement. In the East the movement assumes a petty-bourgeois character, the form of a movement for national self-determination, for the unity of the East. But this movement will undoubtedly develop into a social movement, an agrarian movement. [Applause.]
The task of the Communist International is to wrest the working class of the West, which is, still in part under the influence of the opportunists, of the compromisers, finally from under their influence. to train conscious supporters of Communism, and at the same time there is the most important task, that of uniting the scattered revolutionary movement in the East with the movement in the West. This is the most important task facing the Third International.
It is for this question that we have assembled here and this is the question we shall solve here, or rather, we shall show the way to achieve its solution, we shall show how to bring about as quickly and soundly as possible the unity of the West with the East, for the final smashing of the foundations of capitalism.
In relation to the East, the Third International proves, not only on paper, in appeals, in words, but in practice, in deeds, that 50 millions of the peoples of the East have joined the Soviet power. We see that Soviet republics have been formed from the former colonies, in Turkestan, Caucasia and other countries with a Moslem population, and these Soviet republics are entering as federal units into Soviet Russia; and now these Soviet republics, inhabited by oppressed toilers, are developing culturally, raising their cultural level. They are now liberated and are building their own social life.
That is truly a great deed which the Communist International has performed. The break which these borderlands, these republics, have experienced, what has happened there, must serve as an example to the entire East. Let all the working people not just hearken to our appeals, to our ideas — let them look at these republics, which are examples for them. In these borderlands the Communist Party has shown that its programme is applicable not only for the Western proletariat but also in the East.
However much the supporters of the Second International and the compromisers may have argued that the colonies of the East are inhabited by slaves who can never come up to the level of Europe, who are so backward that no labour, no effort can make them progress, despite such views as these, we see that this East, held in such low esteem by bourgeois Europe, has shown that it can join forces with Communism and Soviet power precisely among these backward Moslem peoples.
The forms of state structure and the methods of reforming economic life in the borderlands will undoubtedly serve as a graphic example for those countries of the East which have not yet freed themselves and which must be freed.
At the present time the movement in those countries of the East where revolutionary organisations are weak, where the organisations of the working people are weak, is assuming, of course, a bourgeois-national character. At the head of this movement stand supporters of a petty-bourgeois revolution, supporters of democracy, but not supporters of Soviet communism. This movement, at its beginning more united, more powerful, of course, is rendering us a great service, for this force acts against the Entente, against world capital, and that helps us greatly.
The Third International, the Communist Party, must, of course, support this movement, but at the same time we have to say that it is not this movement that will finally liberate the toiling masses. Liberation of the toiling masses can be effected only through the social revolution. Therefore , while we see that the petty-bourgeois revolutionaries in the East, though opposing capitalism, at the same time have nothing in common with Communism and necessarily want to set up their own independent national republics, these independent republics will exist as such only on paper, but will never be really independent. For either they must remain in the camp of the bourgeoisie, of the capitalists, or they must enter the camp of the world proletariat — there is no middle way between these two positions. This we can see in reality. Such states as Armenia, Finland and Poland are examples which are all too eloquent. These states are not distinct states. They were deliberately set up by the Allies, they are quite simply particular organised gangs which by special assignment from world capital are fighting against Soviet Russia. Consequently, if, somewhere in the East, say in Turkey or in other places, supporters of the revolutionary movement who are at the same time opponents of Communism should try to set up such independent states, these states would not survive: they would fall under the influence of the imperialists, of world capital, and would turn their weapons against the proletariat, against the working people of the East. The situation is clear, therefore it is clear that the working people of the East have only this one choice: to organise themselves as quickly as possible under the slogan and banner of the Communist International, to carry through the agrarian revolution, to take the land and to take power into their own hands. This is the only solution, the only way, the only means of achieving real self-determination of the peoples, real emancipation from the yoke of world capital. [Applause.]
Comrade Lenin, in his theses on the colonial and national question at the Second Congress, defined quite exactly and realistically the tasks of the Communist Party, the tasks of the Third International in the East. Although he has not been in the East, in his theses he registers everything as though it has been taken from life. These theses point, first and foremost , to the need for liberation from the yoke of world capital and for a call to struggle against world capital not only by the Communist tendency but also by the bourgeois-national tendencies. These bourgeois-national tendencies are appealed to for alliance, but at the same time it is concretely shown that they do not provide for the final emancipation of the toilers. This movement cannot bring liberation. Furthermore, the social bases for such liberation are indicated: in this respect, the principal support for this revolution is constituted by the agrarian question.
For all the toiling classes the moment has unquestionably arrived when they must, having organised themselves, go forward together with the Western proletariat, go forward resolutely against world capital. And the pre-condition for this is that the oppressed peoples of the East, crushed for centuries by capitalism, that very East which once gave light to Europe, and which was also crushed by that same Europe, must rise up. In the depths of the East are hidden mighty forces, a tremendous power, which is now rising up in one mighty stream, and which, uniting with the stream of the Communist movement, will finally smash the rule of world capital. The basis for this is the fact that many Communist Parties have been formed, which have been joined by the leaders of the working people of the East. This is shown by the fact that a number of Soviet republics have been formed out of former colonies. Our pre-condition for this is the fact that there is now in session a Congress of the Peoples of the East, of the working elements of the peoples of the East. We are on the threshold of that powerful, tremendous movement which will begin in the near future, a movement which, united in a mighty Eastern International, will, together with the Western proletariat, strike finally at the very heart of world capitalism.
Long live the Communist International, leader of the world proletariat and of all the worlds toilers!
Long live the leaders of the Third International!
Long live the toilers of the East, who are now rising up powerfully and unitedly against capital! [Applause. ]
[Voices: Gadzhiyeva! Translate into Uzbek. Gadzhiyeva.]
Chairman (ringing his bell): There will now be a translation.
[An interpreter translates into Turkic.]
Chairman: There will be an interval of five minutes. [Translated into Turkic.]
Chairman: The discussion of the colonial question is concluded. The Presidium does not present a special resolution on this question, assuming that the Congress identifies itself with the relevant resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist International.
The following written statements have been handed in:
(1) A declaration on Palestine by the central bureau of the Jewish sections of the Russian Communist Party.
(2) A declaration by the Jewish Communist Party (Poale-Zion) on the national and colonial questions.
(3) A declaration by representatives of the working masses of Armenia.
(4) A declaration by the Mountain Jews.
(5) An address by the Moslems of South-western Caucasia to the Congress of the Peoples of the East. [Translation]
Chairman: A translation into Turkic is also needed.
[Voice: And a translation into Azerbaidzhani. Please!] [Translation.]
Chairman: All these documents are very important but they are also very long, and it is unfortunately not possible to read them out and translate them. The Presidium proposes that they be appended to the report of the Congress, as documents. [Translation. ]
Comrades, with this we now close the Congress. The next session will be tomorrow at 5 o'clock.
The session ended at 10.05 p.m.