Source: The Communist Review, June 1922, Vol. 3, No. 2.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
NOW that the much-advertised Genoa Conference has ended, we are able to understand why it failed to solve the fundamental problems which called it into existence. The inner essence of the Conference was hidden beneath a welter of spectaculour glamour and dramatic events. No one understands better than the Marxians and Communists that the surging undercurrents of history are seldom noticed by those superficial observers who only study prominent personalities prancing and prattling in the vivid lime-light of the social stage. Despite all its tinsel and trappings, Genoa will be a landmark in history. It will be famous not for what it accomplished, but rather for the nature of the tasks it was called upon to solve. Genoa was nothing more or less than a desperate attempt of world capitalism to try and stabilise itself. But it was even something more than that; it marked the beginning of a series of international struggles, in the diplomatic field, between revolutionary Socialism and reactionary Imperialism.
Modern society has created a technique which is international. This is the great contribution that Capitalism has made to history. It stands to-day as the greatest glory and at the same time the most disastrous achievement of the bourgeoisie. The international character of modern technique compels the highly developed nations to lean on one another. It is this economic fact that is cutting across the Versailles Treaty and which is showing the indemnity-mongers, from Lloyd George down to J. Ramsay MacDonald, that no matter how they may monkey with the thermometer, they cannot transform the economic atmosphere.
While the technique to-day is international, the propertied elements who control it are divided into nationalist groups, each of which is seeking to exclude the other in order to scoop in all the profits. This struggle conducted by the various “nationals” against each other is fought out in battlefields, and in conferences such as the recent one at Genoa. It is a conflict so bitter and relentless that it is destroying Capitalism. Genoa was but another attempt on the part of the various financial cliques to try and settle their differences in order, if possible, to set up an international united front against revolutionary Labour. It failed. And its failure was marked with something more dramatic than anything recorded in the Press. Genoa revealed the weakness and waning power of Capitalism. Genoa, no doubt, also showed that the Soviet Republics were weak. But the weakness of the Capitalist States was due to their old age, their mutual hatreds, and their inability to solve new problems; the weakness of the Soviet Republics was due to their infancy and to an unsuccessful attempt to strangle them. Before the youthful revolutionary Republics lies the future, pregnant with world-wide possibilities, which must bring forth new strength and new hope; their greatness and real power lies ahead of them. With the Capitalist States it is different. Their greatness and real power lies buried behind them; for them the future offers nothing but crises, wars, the revolutionary proletariat, and oblivion.
BECAUSE the modern technique is international the Soviet Republics need technical contact with other nations. Until the world-wide masses rise and destroy their Imperialistic exploiters, the proletarian Republics will be compelled to adjust their revolutionary tactics to enable them to get access to those things which are vitally necessary for the economic rebuilding of Russia, but which are, at present, under the domination of Capitalist and Imperialistic groups. This problem of maintaining the Soviet Republics in the in the midst of Capitalist States was faced squarely at the beginning of the proletarian revolution by the Russian Communists. They made several overtures for an international conference, and they expressed their willingness, in 1918, to go to Prinkipo. The reply of the Entente was a frontal attack which manifested itself in blockades, wars, and subsidised insurrection. In this dastardly work the imperialists were ably assisted by the Second International, which tried to smash the Soviet power by equally foul but more indirect means. Despite the Churchills and the Snowdens, the Curzons and the MacDonalds, the Soviet Republics triumphed over superhuman obstacles at a price which was paid for in the blood of the most dauntless revolutionary fighters the world has ever known. Let the sentimental pacifists of the Labour Party and the I.L.P. ponder over the proletarian blood that they have spilled by their villainous sabotage of the Soviet Republics. Red Russia defeated all these attacks, not only by sacrificing her most valiant members, but by being forced to turn her attention to war when she desired to devote her energies to the great tasks of reconstruction. The Soviet Republics emerged from the crucible of Imperialist wars and Second International treachery in triumph. Her military successes were crowned when she met her Capitalist persecutors face to face and on equal terms at Genoa. But even here it was left to the Second International to add one further crime to its long list of villainies against Russia. At Genoa the Russian delegation would have been a doubly strengthened force if behind it there had been marshalled the organised masses of the world. In spite of Labour appeals from all parts of Europe, the leaders of the Second International, with characteristic slowness and treachery, succeeded in arranging their preliminary meeting to discuss the situation at Genoa on the same day that the great Conference closed!
As in all their struggles since 1917, the Soviet Republics had to depend on their own strength in their diplomatic war with the Imperialist Powers at Genoa. Let no one misunderstand Genoa. It was a conference struggle between the new revolutionary forces and the old Capitalist Powers. It was as important and fateful as the fights of the Red Armies against Denikin, Koltchak, and Wrangel. The music and the conductors were the same, only the players were different. Russia’s opening move was a daring plea for disarmament. Here was an ideal opportunity for the rhetorical pacifists of the Second International to have used their influence on behalf of their ideal of universal peace. No action, beyond passing the usual resolution, was taken. When the Second International is dead and damned the words “No action” will be found inscribed upon its white liver.
Lloyd George had hoped that Genoa would turn into a conference where the differences between all Capitalist groups would be merged into one mighty and united instrument against the Soviet Republics. He had visions of conciliating Germany, of breaking the chauvinistic spirit of France, and of getting a united Capitalist front against the Bolsheviks. He had dreams of returning from Genoa as the champion Bolshevik pulveriser, with a great European peace in his pocket, and a triumphant general election within his reach. He had hoped to hear Chicherin whining and to see the Soviet delegation gratefully accepting humiliating concessions and unstinted abuse; all this would have been pleasing to Winston Churchill and J. H. Thomas. It would also have been such splendid copy for his wife’s guest—Madame Snowden of the I.L.P. Instead of these things happening, Genoa showed that the internecine conflicts among the Capitalist States are deep and chronic. The British Premier had to strive like a trojan at Genoa to preserve an element of common decency among the conflicting Capitalist Powers in their public behaviour. His wonderful eloquence was eclipsed by the non-eloquent Chicherin, whose plain facts dazzled the Conference liked forked lightning; the Soviet delegates refused to take either cheap abuse or worthless concessions. Lloyd George’s wonderful conference ended without solving any of the great problems, and he had to come home to London cheered only by a few specially drilled automatons.
DESPITE the absence of positive results at Genoa, it was something of a consolation to note how ably, and with what ease, the Soviet delegates defended the policy of the Bolshevik revolution against the imperialist statesmen of the Entente. The real strength of Lloyd George, in his opposition to the proposals put forward by the Russians, was based upon the weakness of the Labour movement in this country. It is no use disguising the melancholy fact that British Labour to-day is impotent and lethargic. A movement that is capable of tolerating the inglorious events of the past few weeks, particularly in the engineering and ship-building industries, was certainly not able to compel an astute observer like Lloyd George, to make generous concessions to the Soviet delegates at Genoa. It would seem that the “Black Friday” type of betraval has become the normal policy for the majority of British trade union leaders, and for the guiding lights of the Second International. Instead of working-class discontent being harnessed into a united front against the Shylock tactics of the Government in its dealings with the Russians at Genoa; or against the devastating policy of sectional unions defeating each other; or against the treatment of the unemployed, and many other vital questions—we find that the Second International is only capable of showing any energy when it deals with such Morning Post stunts as the conditions of the social revolutionary prisoners who are at present awaiting trial in Moscow for terroristic crimes against the Soviet Government, and for the murder of well-known Communists. This campaign in the press of the Second International, on behalf of the bomb-throwers of the social revolutionaries, was entered into in order to undermine the splendid impression that the Soviet delegates were making at Genoa upon the masses by their determined resistance to capitalist imperialism.
Very few people in this country are aware that the Russian social revolutionary party is a group that advocates and practices assassination as one of its fundamental policies. This party has adopted every method against the Soviet Government, from recruiting criminals for purposes of pillage, to the murder of prominent Soviet officials. It was the social revolutionary party that tried to assassinate Lenin by shooting at him with poisoned bullets; it has even descended to act as the paid servants of the Entente, and has organised reactionary plots against the Soviet Republics in order to handle imperialist money. This is the precious group that has stirred the Second International to a marvellous activity, and which has even transformed the meek J. Ramsay Macdonald into a bold traducer of the Russian Communists. For the sake of this bunch of anti-social desperadoes, the Second International has shown a willingness to sacrifice every chance of a united front of Labour.
The Second International, by its tactics is neither stupid nor inconsistent. It seeks to turn down the organising of a united Labour front, because this, in action, means an onslaught upon capitalism. By attacking the Soviet Government for daring to defend itself against the bomb-throwing social revolutionaries, the Second International is carrying out its traditional function of being the allies of the capitalist States. Having failed to completely sabotage the Soviets at Genoa, the Macdonalds and the Vanderveldes are hoping to use the imprisoned social revolutionaries in Russia as a pretext for weakening the Soviet delegation at the Hague. Before the Hague Conference begins the Soviet Government will have shown to the world the nature of the criminal gang of venal terrorists whom J. R. Macdonald and the other democratic constitutionalists are so enthusiastically defending.
THE editor of the COMMUNIST REVIEW begs to apologise to the many comrades who were unable to obtain repeat orders for the May issue. Despite the fact that we kept the type standing, it was impossible to supply all the orders which came in late in the month. The phenomenal circulation of the COMMUNIST REVIEW has compelled the other monthly Labour journals to follow our price and to try and emulate our methods. We are only able to produce such a splendid REVIEW at sixpence because the editorial, translating, literary, and distributing work is a voluntary offering to the movement.
Some of our most enthusiastic distributing agents say that it would assist them in booking orders if they could get an idea what contributors would write for future numbers of the REVIEW. We cannot say who will write for us a few months hence. We can say, however, that every writer of note in the revolutionary movement is on our list. One of our great difficulties is that we don’t receive all the articles which are sent us from abroad; the “democratic” censor causes us no end of trouble. Quite recently, Karl Radek, who very much appreciates the COMMUNIST REVIEW, sent us a special article, which got “lost” in the post.
Next month that splendid veteran fighter, Clara Zetkin, will contribute an important article on the need for Labour to make a superhuman effort to combat the imperialistic wars which are at present brewing. Big Bill Haywood will write upon the class struggle in America. J. T. Walton Newbold, the most brilliant authority in this country on the imperialistic operations of high finance, has just completed a most important piece of research work regarding the inner struggles of the moneyed cliques to dominate Asia; he will write this up for us, and it will be an eye-opener. We are also hoping to be able to begin a series of articles by Buharin on “The Economics of the Transitional Period.” These are the most important articles on revolutionary tactics that have ever been written. The subject is the most interesting one in the world, and the writer, Buharin, is the most brilliant Marxian scholar in the movement. Abani Mukerji, of the India Communist Party, whose article on the “Moplah Rising” recently appeared in our pages, will deal with the Indian Labour movement. We hope to receive an interesting survey of the Korean revolutionary movement and its relation to the future of the Far East from Kinsic Kim, one of the ablest students of Communism in Korea. This Korean comrade graduated in an American college and returned to Asia, where he was an enthusiastic educationalist. From 1913 to 1919 he was engaged in political work in China and Mongolia; in 1919 he attended the Peace Conference at Paris, and was present at the Washington Conference in an important capacity, and he was also a delegate at the famous Congress of revolutionaries from the Far East recently held at Moscow. His article will be of the utmost importance to English readers, and it will open up new vistas regarding the part that the East will play in the world revolution. This contribution, which will deal with the inside of the Asiatic revolutionary movement, will be reinforced by J. T. Walton Newbold’s analysis of the financiers struggle to dominate the Far East. Finally, Comrade T. Bell will write on the “Implications of the Transition Period.” This article was prepared by Bell after a detailed study of the new Economic Policy at work in Russia.
Our readers will see from the above outline of the Contents for next month’s COMMUNIST REVIEW that our journal is by far the most important monthly organ in the revolutionary movement. Anyone who would like to become a distributing agent should send his name and address to the Circulation Manager, and if any agent desires to increase his monthly order he should do so at once. By enthusiasm and hard work we doubled our circulation within twelve months. Let us try and beat our previous best efforts. We have the goods; it is up to you to deliver them to the masses.