Mara December 1907

Socialism by the Sword

Source: Social Democrat, Vol. XI No. 12 December, 1907, pp. 727-731, (1,671 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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.

In the October number of the “Social-Democrat” there was an article with the strange title, “Socialism by the Sword.” At first one would think that the writer, comrade J.H. Watts, had used this title for irony, but reading a little further, when he says, “There is one corner of the globe in which our comrades have no effective weapon of warfare other than the sword,” one becomes convinced that he is sincere in his belief that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, otherwise the “Droschakist” Party, is a bonâ fide Socialist organisation.

It is true that in some countries, like Russia or Turkey, the Socialists have to use the sword, as other weapons are denied to them; it is also probable that in countries where to-day the working class has other means with which to fight, the Socialists will have, some day, to take up the sword; but have the “Droschakists” used it for Socialism, especially on the occasions mentioned in the report of that party to the International Socialist Congress at Stuttgart? A superficial view very seldom leads the outsider to the real truth, and it is to be regretted that comrade Watts undertakes to show the growth of Socialism by giving facts that prove the contrary.

When the lecturer representing the Revolutionary Federation at Stuttgart was repeatedly asked by the delegates, “How do you purpose attaining your object?” he answered, “By peaceful means if possible, by forcible if necessary.” What is their object? “By the original programme,” according to their report to the Congress, “to work for the emancipation of Turkish Armenia.” This has been and is still the principal aim of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, all others have been and are only subservient to this. To attain this aim the Federation has used all means, whether these be revolutionary or reactionary, profitable or hurtful to the cause of Labour or Socialism; every means was justifiable if it could only move the pity of the European Powers and by the force of the unhappy 61st Article of the Berlin Treaty, in 1878, make them establish a free Armenian Government, like Greece or other Balkan States.

The attack upon the Ottoman Bank in 1896 by a handful of militants, and the so-called skirmish of Samatia by a few bomb-throwers, were so weak that those who planned them could not expect a victory over the Sultan and the European financiers; and the result was the massacre of thousands of Armenians before the eyes of the European ambassadors so that the torrent of their blood might move the warships of liberty-loving England and chivalrous France into the waters of the Bosphorus.

The fight at Khanassor was nothing but a night attack upon a tribe of Kurds to show the Armenians that the Federation was working for them day and night, and that they ought to pour their money only into its treasury, The result was that the boasted cavalry was put to flight and most of their arms and ammunition, so dearly bought by the sweat of the Armenian workingmen, was captured by the enraged Kurds to be used against the Armenian villagers.

The insurection of Sassoun is a living historical proof of the foresight and sagacity of the leaders of the party, who must have been either hopelessly blind or wilfully criminal to proclaim it on the housetops a year before any move was made, so that the Turkish Government might be ready to devastate the Armenian villages at the first shot fired by a dozen insurgents, and that by this the party's fame may spread all over the world. To see the real expectations of those leaders, let us quote a passage from their report to the Congress: “Insurrection was stifled in a sea of blood. Two hundred thousand people were massacred, and Armenia was converted into a huge cemetery, while Europe gazed with indifference on the immense tragedy.”

In 1905, by the initiation and financial support of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation three noted Armenians visited the European and American courts to court the tyrant's love for the Armenians and create a hatred against their vassal, the Sultan of Turkey. The European and American comrades may be surprised to hear that the very lecturer, who was trying to represent the Armenian Revolutionary Federation as a Socialist organisation at Stuttgart, had just been to the Hague Peace Conference, so-called, to beg the representatives of the powers to bring the Armenian question to a solution, and really it is a mystery how the delegates could let him have a seat as a Socialist delegate, or the Jewish Zionists, against all the protestations of the Russian and Armenian Social Democratic comrades.

For 17 years the Armenian Revolutionary Federation has embittered the Armenians against their neighbour Mussulmans and Mussulmans against the Armenians, but to-day it comes to the Stuttgart Congress to say that it formed alliances with all other revolutionary reformist parties in Turkey. It cannot be denied that it made an alliance with the Macedonian Revolutionary Party, both because the territory of the activity of the latter was so far that it could not interfere with the work of the Federation to establish an Armenian Government, and because it likewise, sought the help of the European Powers, but this not done as far as the “Young Turks” were concerned. On the contrary, when the “Young Turk” Party called a conference of all the revolutionary organisations of Turkey in 1902 at Paris, the delegates of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, with their brothers of the Huntchakist Party, disrupted the conference because they wanted to have Turkey reformed by the European Governments, while the “Young Turks” were opposed to such a tutelage. Yes. Armeno-Mussulman co-operation has now been realised, as the recent movements show, not through the Armenian Revolutionary Party, but in spite of it.

For seventeen years that party has done all it could to train its members to be indifferent towards every Labour movement, because class-conscious proletarians would have stopped serving the purposes of the Federation. “The Armenian worker is Armenian first and worker afterwards,” replied the leaders, when the Social-Democratic Labour Party of Russia asked their co-operation in organising the Armenians into Labour unions. In America, year after year, their organs urged their members, as well as all the Armenian population, to vote the Republican Party to power, arguing that by doing so they would win the Republican President and Congressmen to use their influence to settle the Armenian question. Here was a country where our Daschnaktzagan friends could use the ballot for Socialism instead of the sword, but they have discouraged all the efforts of the Armenian and American comrades to organise the Armenian workers on class lines either in the industrial or political field.

“But why should this party claim to be Socialist,” will some comrades ask, “why should it send delegates to the International Socialist Congress for the first time since it was organised seventeen years ago?” The following may shed a little light on this phase of the question.

So long as its proletarian members could be kept in ignorance and away from any Labour movement the party was only for the emancipation of Turkish Armenia, but when part of them, awakened to their real interest, dropped the Party and joined the Social Democrats in Transcaucasia and the majority ready to follow, the leaders were alarmed. They to find a way to stop the exodus, and nothing was easier than to follow the method of Bismarck, “We are Socialist, too.” They went to work and organised “Daschnaktzagan” trade unions, so that they could keep them in their grip and use them again for the principal aim of the party. This was not sufficient; they had to be baptised formally as Socialists. Their programme did not even have Socialism in it. In their last convention, which took place in the beginning of this year, they resolved to send delegates after this to International Socialist Congresses to show both the comrades of other countries and the Armenian workingmen that they have been Socialists for did not know it. A new programme was to reconcile their original and principal aim and new name.

But all this could not go on as smoothly as the leaders desired. In almost every locality members who have been taught that Socialism and the Socialist movement hampers the Armenian question, resented the decision of the convention. The unscrupulous leaders did not hesitate to stifle their protest by terrorising the principals among them in order to stop the secession. It suits just here to say “Socialism by the Sword.” Yes, they want to convert their members into their brand of Socialism by the sword in Transcaucasia, while here in America they are telling them that “the party has newly adopted Socialism only for Transcaucasia. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation has never worked, and does not intend to work, against the interests of the Armenian bourgeoisie. The interest of the Armenian worker and the Armenian employer are the same until the Armenian Government is established, and then, and only then, the Federation is going to take up the fight of the workers at large.” Beautiful Socialist utterances, indeed, that would put any Conservative middle-class reformer to shame.

If the Armenian Revolutionary Federation comes out and confesses frankly that it has not been a Socialist organisation heretofore, but now it has changed its object and intends to work solely for the emancipation of the working class, no Socialist would hesitate to hail the amazing change. Instead of that, when it claims that its original object as well as tactics were Socialistic it is the duty of every Socialist, cognisant of the past facts and the present pursuits of the leaders of that party, to warn the European and American comrades, who, believing them to be Socialists, will unconsciously play into their hands as tools for fooling the Armenian working men and so keep them away from the real proletarian movement.

Boston, Mass., November 27 1907