J. V. Stalin

Light from the East 1

December 15, 1918

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.

Slowly but surely, the tide of the liberation movement is rolling from east to west, into the occupied regions. Slowly but just as surely, the "new" bourgeois-republican "governments" of Estland, Latvia, Lithuania and Byelorussia are receding into oblivion and making way for the power of the workers and peasants. The partition wall between Russia and Germany is crumbling and disappearing. The slogan of bourgeois nationalism "All power to the national bourgeoisie" is being superseded by the slogan of proletarian socialism "All power to the labouring masses of the oppressed nationalities."

A year ago, after the October Revolution, the liberation movement advanced in the same direction and under the same slogan. The bourgeois-national "governments" that were formed at that time in the border regions sought to hold back the tide of the socialist movement advancing from Russia and declared war on the Soviet power. They wished to establish separate bourgeois states in the border regions in order that the national bourgeoisie might retain power and privileges in its hands. The reader will recall that this counter-revolutionary scheme failed: attacked from within by "their own" workers and peasants, these "governments" were forced to retreat. The occupation by German imperialism which followed interrupted the process of emancipation of the border regions and tipped the scales in favour of the bourgeois-national "governments." Now, after the rout of German imperialism and the expulsion of the forces of occupation from the border regions, the process of the struggle for emancipation has been resumed with fresh vigour and in new and more salient forms.

The Estland workers were the first to raise the standard of revolt. The Estland Labour Commune 2 is victoriously advancing, shattering the foundations of the Estland bourgeois-republican "government" and rousing to struggle the labouring masses of the Estland towns and villages. In reply to the request of the Est-land Soviet Government, the Russian Soviet Government has solemnly recognized the independence of the Estland Socialist Republic. Need it be demonstrated that this act was the duty and obligation of the Russian Soviet Government? Soviet Russia has never looked upon the Western regions as its possessions. It has always considered that these regions are the inalienable possession of the labouring masses of the nationalities inhabiting them, that these labouring masses have the full right freely to determine their political destiny. Naturally, this does not exclude, but rather presumes the rendering of every assistance by Soviet Russia to our Estland comrades in their struggle for the emancipation of the working people of Estland from the bourgeois yoke.

The workers of Latvia have likewise set to work to liberate their martyred fatherland. The re-establishment of Soviets in Verro, Valka, Riga, Libau and other parts of Latvia, the attempts of the Riga workers to secure the necessary political liberties by revolutionary means, the swift advance of the Latvian Riflemen on Riga —all this indicates that the same fate awaits the bourgeois-republican "government" in Latvia as in Estland. We have information that the establishment of a Provisional Soviet Government is to be officially proclaimed in Latvia within the next few days. 3 Needless to say, this act, if it really occurs, will expedite and give constitutional shape to the emancipation of Latvia from imperialism.

The workers and peasants of Lithuania are following in the footsteps of the Latvian workers. The formation of Soviets — as yet only semi-legal, it is true — in Vilna, Shauli, Kovno and other parts of Lithuania; the unparalleled revolutionary activity displayed by the Lithuanian agricultural workers in preventing the big farms from being pillaged by the landlords; the rapid advance of the Lithuanian Riflemen into the heart of Lithuania; and, lastly, the projected establishment, as we are informed, of a Provisional Soviet Government of Lithuania—all this indicates that the notorious Lithuanian Tariba4 will not escape the fate of its counterparts in Latvia and Estland.

The ephemeral nature of the national "governments" in the occupied regions is due not only to the fact that they are bourgeois in character and alien to the interests of the workers and peasants, but also, and chiefly, to the fact that they are mere appendages of the occupation authorities, which could not but rob them of all moral prestige in the eyes of the mass of the population.

Looked at from this standpoint, the occupation period undoubtedly played a beneficial part in the development of the border regions, as it thoroughly exposed the rottenness and treachery of the national bourgeoisie.

The trend is obviously such that any day now the Western regions and their labouring masses, which until now were the victims of the fraudulent machinations of the imperialists, will seize their freedom and at long last stand on their own feet. . . .

In the North, in Finland, things are still "quiet." But beneath this surface quietness deep internal work is undoubtedly proceeding, on the part of the workers and torppari, on the one hand, who are straining for emancipation, and of the Svinhufvud Government, on the other, which keeps changing its Ministers with suspicious frequency and is continually conspiring with British imperialist agents. The withdrawal of the occupation forces from Finland will undoubtedly hasten the liquidation of Svinhufvud's band of criminals, who have quite deservedly earned the profound contempt of the broad mass of the population of Finland.

In the South, in the Ukraine, things are not so quiet as in Finland. Far from it! The insurrectionary troops are gathering strength and organizing as they advance southward. After an exemplarily organized three days' strike, 5 Kharkov has passed under the control of the Soviet of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies. The Pet-lurites, the German invaders and Skoropadsky's agents are forced to reckon with the will of the workers. In Yeka-terinoslav, a Soviet of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies is functioning openly. The celebrated Manifesto of the

Ukrainian Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government was printed openly and posted up in the streets of Yekaterinoslav. The "authorities" were powerless to prevent this "audacious act." We say nothing of the powerful insurrectionary movement of the Ukrainian peasants, who look upon the Manifesto of the Ukrainian Soviet Governmentastheirgospel.

And in the far South, in the North Caucasus, even the Ingushes, Chechens, Ossetians and Kabardinians are passing over in whole groups to the Soviet power and, arms in hand, are freeing their land from the hired bands of British imperialism.

Need it be said that all this is bound to have its effect on the oppressed peoples of the West, and above all on the peoples of Austria-Hungary, who are still passing through the period of the bourgeois-national liberation movement, but who have already, by virtue of the logic of facts, entered the phase of struggle against imperialism?

At the centre of all these stupendous developments is the standard-bearer of world revolution, Soviet Russia, inspiring the workers and peasants of the oppressed peoples with faith in victory, and supporting their liberation struggleforthebenefitofworldsocialism.

Of course, the other camp—the camp of the imperialists—is not dozing either. Its agents are prowling through all countries, from Finland to the Caucasus and from Siberia to Turkestan, supplying the counter-revolutionaries, hatching criminal conspiracies, organizing a crusade against Soviet Russia, and forging chains for the peoples of the West. But it is surely obvious that the imperialist gang have already lost all moral prestige in the eyes of the oppressed peoples, that they have lost forever their former halo of standard-bearers of "civilization" and "humanitarianism," and that they are prolonging their predatory existence with the help of bribery and hired bands, and by keeping the so-called "coloured" peoples of Africa in darkness and slavery. . . .

Light is coming from the East!

The West, with its imperialist cannibals, has become a breeding ground of darkness and slavery. The task is to destroy this breeding ground, to the joy and comfort of the working people of all countries.

Zhizn Natsionalnostei, No. 6, December 15, 1918


1.This article was simultaneously published in Pravda. (No. 273, December 15, 1918) as an unsigned editorial.

2.Estland Labour Commune—the Estland Soviet Republic, established on November 29, 1918, after the Red Army had liberated Narva from German occupation. On December 7, 1918, the Council of People's Commissars endorsed a decree, drafted by J. V. Stalin, recognizing the independence of the Estland Soviet Republic.

3.Soviet power in Latvia was proclaimed in the middle of December 1918. On December 17 the Provisional Soviet Government of Latvia issued a manifesto to the working people announcing the transfer of state power to the Soviets. It stated: "We know that on this difficult path, in this strenuous struggle, we are not alone. Behind us stands the R.S.F.S.R., with which we shall continue to be closely bound, and not by external ties alone."

4.The Lithuanian Tariba (bourgeois National Council) was set up in September 1917 under the control of the German occupation authorities.

5.The three days' strike in Kharkov in the early part of December 1918 was provoked by the arrest of the presidium of the Kharkov Soviet by the Petlurites. The strike embraced all the factories, the tramway service and the power station. The Petlura authorities were forced to release the arrested men, after which the Soviet called off the strike.