J. V. Stalin

Two Camps

February 22, 1919

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.

The world has definitely and irrevocably split into two camps: the camp of imperialism and the camp of socialism.

Over there, in their camp, are America and Britain, France and Japan, with their capital, armaments, tried agents and experienced administrators.

Here, in our camp, are Soviet Russia and the young Soviet republics and the growing proletarian revolution in the countries of Europe, without capital, without tried agents or experienced administrators, but, on the other hand, with experienced agitators capable of firing the hearts of the working people with the spirit of emancipation.

The struggle between these two camps constitutes the hub of present-day affairs, determines the whole substance of the present home and foreign policies of the leaders of the old and the new worlds.

Estland and Lithuania, the Ukraine and the Crimea, Turkestan and Siberia, Poland and the Caucasus, and, finally, Russia itself are not aims in themselves. They are only an arena of struggle, of a mortal struggle between two forces: imperialism, which is striving to strengthen the yoke of slavery, and socialism, which is fighting for emancipation from slavery.

The strength of imperialism lies in the ignorance of the masses, who create wealth for their masters and forge chains of oppression for themselves. But the ignorance of the masses is a transient thing and inevitably tends to be dispelled in the course of time, as the dissatisfaction of the masses grows and the revolutionary movement spreads. The imperialists have capital—but who does not know that capital is powerless in the face of the inevitable? For this reason, the rule of imperialism is impermanent and insecure.

The weakness of imperialism lies in its powerlessness to end the war without catastrophe, without increasing mass unemployment, without further robbery of its own workers and peasants, without further seizures of foreign territory. It is a question not of ending the war, nor even of victory over Germany, but of who is to be made to pay the billions spent on the war. Russia emerged from the imperialist war rejuvenated, because she ended the war at the cost of the imperialists, home and foreign, and laid the expense of the war on those who were directly responsible for it by expropriating them. The imperialists cannot do this; they cannot expropriate themselves, otherwise they would not be imperialists. To end the war in imperialist fashion, they are "compelled" to doom the workers to starvation (wholesale unemployment due to the closing down of "unprofitable" plants, additional indirect taxation, a terrific rise in prices of food); they are "compelled" to plunder Germany, Austria-Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Turkestan, Siberia.

Need it be said that all this broadens the base of revolution, shakes the foundations of imperialism and hastens the inevitable catastrophe?

Three months ago imperialism, drunk with victory, was rattling the sabre and threatening to overrun Russia with its armed hordes. How could "poverty-stricken" and "savage" Soviet Russia hold out against the "disciplined" army of the British and French, who had smashed "even" the Germans, for all their vaunted technical equipment? So they thought. But they overlooked a "trifle," they failed to realize that peace, even an "indecent" peace, would inevitably undermine the "discipline" of their army and rouse its opposition to another war, while unemployment and high living costs would inevitably strengthen the revolutionary movement of the workers against their imperialists.

And what did we find? The "disciplined" army proved unfit for purposes of intervention: it sickened with an inevitable disease—demoralization. The boasted "civil peace" and "law and order" turned into their opposite, into civil war. The hastily concocted bourgeois "governments" in the border regions of Russia proved to be soap bubbles, unsuitable as a camouflage for intervention, which had been undertaken, of course (of course!), in the name of "humanitarianism" and "civilization." As to Soviet Russia, not only did their hope for a "walk over" fail; they even deemed it necessary to retreat a little and invite her to a "conference," on the Princes' Islands. 1 For the successes of the Red Army, the appearance of new national Soviet republics which were infecting neighbouring countries with the spirit of revolution, the spread of revolution in the West and the appearance of Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets in the Entente countries were arguments that were more than persuasive. What is more, things have reached a point where even Clemenceau the "implacable," who only yesterday refused to issue passports to the Berne Conference 2 and who was preparing to devour "anarchistic" Russia, is today, having been rather mauled by the revolution, not averse to availing himself of the services of that honest "Marxist" broker, the old Kautsky, and wants to send him to Russia to negotiate—that is to say, "investigate."


"Where are they now, the haughty words, The lordly strength, the royal mien?" 3

All these changes took place in the space of some three months.

We have every ground for affirming that the trend will continue in the same direction, for it has to be admitted that in the present moment of "storm and stress" Russia is the only country in which social and economic life is proceeding "normally," without strikes or anti-government demonstrations, that the Soviet Government is the most stable of all the existing governments in Europe, and that the strength and prestige of Soviet Russia, both at home and abroad, are growing day by day in direct proportion to the decline of the strength and prestige of the imperialist governments.

The world has split into two irreconcilable camps: the camp of imperialism and the camp of socialism. Imperialism in its death throes is clutching at the last straw, the "League of Nations," trying to save itself by uniting the robbers of all countries into a single alliance. But its efforts are in vain, because time and circumstances are working against it and in favour of socialism. The tide of socialist revolution is irresistibly rising and investing the strongholds of imperialism. Its thunder is re-echoing through the countries of the oppressed East. The soil is beginning to burn under the feet of imperialism. Imperialism is doomed to inevitable destruction.

Izvestia, No, 41, February 22, 1919


1. The Council of the Entente, with the professed aim of establishing peace in Russia, decided to invite the Soviet Government and the Kolchak, Denikin and other counter-revolutionary governments to send representatives to a conference to be held in February 1919 on the Princes' Islands, in the Sea of Marmora. The conference did not take place.

2.Berne Conference — a conference of social-chauvinist and Centrist parties of the Second International held in Berne, Switzerland, February 3-10, 1919.

3.From A. V. Koltsov's poem, "The Forest" (See A. V. Koltsov, Complete Collection of Poems, Leningrad 1939, p. 90).