J. V. Stalin

Imperialism Reserves

March 16, 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 war between imperialism and socialism continues. National "liberalism" and "patronage" of "small" nations; the "peaceableness" of the Entente and its "renunciation" of intervention; the call for "disarmament" and the "readiness" for negotiation; the "concern" for the "Russian people" and "desire" to "assist" it with all "available means"—these and much else of a like nature are only a screen for the intensified supply of tanks and munitions to the enemies of socialism, an ordinary diplomatic manoeuvre designed to veil the "search" for new forms, "acceptable" to "public opinion," of strangling socialism, of strangling the "small" nations, colonies and semi-colonies.

Some four months ago Allied imperialism, having vanquished its Austro-German rivals, was emphatically and categorically insisting on armed interference (intervention!) in "Russian affairs." No negotiations with "anarchistic" Russia! The plan of the imperialists was to transfer part of their "released" forces to the territory of Russia, incorporate them in the whiteguard units of the Skoropadskys and Krasnovs, the Denikins and Bicherakhovs, the Kolchaks and Chaikovskys, and constrict the seat of revolution, Soviet Russia, in an "iron ring." But that plan was wrecked by the tide of revolution. The workers of Europe, swept by the revolutionary movement, launched a fierce campaign against armed intervention. The "released forces" proved to be manifestly unsuited for an armed fight against revolution. More, on coming in contact with the insurrectionary workers, they themselves became "infected" with Bolshevism. Very eloquent proof of this was the capture by the Soviet forces of Kherson and Nikolayev, where the Entente troops refused to wage war on the workers. As to the projected "iron ring," it not only did not prove "deadly" but, what is more, itself developed a number of fissures. The plan of outright and undisguised intervention thus turned out to be clearly "inexpedient." It is this that explains the recent statements of Lloyd George and Wilson on the "permissibility" of negotiating with the Bolsheviks and on "non-interference" in Russia's internal affairs, the proposal to send the Berne commission to Russia, 1 and, lastly, the projected invitation (the second!) of all the "de facto" governments in Russia to a "peace" conference. 2

But it was not only this factor that dictated the renunciation of undisguised intervention. It is also to be attributed to the fact that in the course of the struggle a new scheme, a new, disguised form of armed intervention was conceived, one more complicated, it is true, than open intervention, but on the other hand more "convenient" for the "civilized" and "humane" Entente. We are referring to the alliance of the bourgeois governments of Rumania, Galicia, Poland, Germany and Finland hastily concocted by imperialism against Soviet Russia. It is true that only yesterday these governments were at each other's throats on the plea of "national" interests and national "liberty." It is true that only yesterday cries went up from all the housetops about a "patriotic war" of Rumania against Galicia, of Galicia against Poland, of Poland against Germany. But what did the "fatherland" count for in comparison to the financial wealth of the Entente, once the latter had ordered the cessation of "internecine warfare"! Once the Entente had ordered the establishment of a united front against Soviet Russia, could they, the hirelings of imperialism, do anything but "spring to attention"! Even the German Government, reviled and trampled in the mud as it was by the Entente, even it lost all sense of self-respect and begged to be allowed to take part in the crusade against socialism in the interests . . . of the Entente! Clearly, the Entente has every reason to rub its hands in glee as it prates about "non-interference" in Russia's affairs and "peace" negotiations with the Bolsheviks. What is the sense of undisguised intervention, which is "dangerous" to imperialism and moreover demands costly sacrifices, when there is a possibility of organizing at the expense of others, of "small" nations, "absolutely safe" intervention disguised under a national flag? A war of Rumania, Galicia, Poland and Germany against Russia? But, surely, this is a war for "national existence," for the "protection of the eastern frontier," a war against Bolshevik "imperialism," a war waged by the Rumanians, Galicians, Poles and Germans "themselves." What has the Entente got to do with it? True, the Entente is supplying them with money and arms, but that is simply a financial operation hallowed by the international law of the "civilized" world. Is it not clear that the Entente is as innocent as a dove, that it is "against" intervention?. . .

Thus, imperialism has been compelled to pass from a policy of sabre-rattling, a policy of open intervention, to a policy of masked intervention, a policy of drawing dependent nations, small and big, into the fight against socialism.

The policy of open intervention failed because of the growth of the revolutionary movement in Europe, because of the sympathy entertained by the workers of all countries for Soviet Russia. That policy was utilized to the full by revolutionary socialism to expose imperialism.

There can be no doubt that in the end the policy of calling on the last reserves, the so-called "small" nations, the policy of drawing the latter into the war against socialism, will similarly fail. And not only because the growing revolution in the West is, despite everything, sapping the foundations of imperialism, and not only because the revolutionary movement is steadily swelling within the "small" nations themselves, but also because contact of the "armed forces" of these nations with the revolutionary workers of Russia is bound to "infect" them with the virus of Bolshevism. Socialism will avail itself of every opportunity to open the eyes of the workers and peasants of these nations to the predatory character of imperialism's "paternal concern."

The inevitable result of the imperialist policy of masked intervention will be that it will draw the "small" nations into the sphere of the revolution and extend the base of socialism.

Izvestia, No. 58, March 16, 1919

Signed: J. Stalin


1.The Berne commission — a commission consisting of Kautsky, Hilferding, Longuet and others, appointed by the social-chauvinist conference in Berne "to investigate social and political conditions in Russia." In reply to a request to allow the commission to enter Russia, the Soviet Government stated on February 19, 1919, that although it did not regard the Berne Conference as a socialist conference, or as representing the working class in any way, it nevertheless had no objection to allowing the commission to enter Soviet Russia. However, the visit of "the eminent inspectors from Berne," as V. I. Lenin called the commission, did not take place.

2.It was reported in the British press at the close of February 1919 that the Council of the Entente intended to renew the invitation to a conference on the Princes' Islands.