J. V. Stalin
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.
Comrades, before the October Revolution the conviction prevailed in certain West-European socialist circles that the socialist revolution might break out and be crowned with success first of all in capitalistically developed countries. Some conjectured that England would be such a country, others, Belgium, and so on. But practically all said that the socialist revolution could not begin in capitalistically underdeveloped countries, where the proletariat was numerically small and poorly organized, as, for instance, in Russia. The October Revolution has refuted this view, since the socialist revolution began precisely in a capitalistically underdeveloped country—Russia.
Further, some of those who took part in the October Revolution were convinced that the socialist revolution in Russia could be crowned with success, and that this success could be lasting, only if the revolution in Russia were directly followed by the outbreak of a more profound and serious revolutionary explosion in the West which would support the revolution in Russia and impel it forward, it being, moreover, taken for granted that such an explosion was bound to break out. That view has likewise been refuted by events, since socialist Russia, which did not receive direct revolutionary support from the Western proletariat and is surrounded by hostile states, has successfully continued to exist and develop for already three years.
It has turned out that the socialist revolution can not only begin in a capitalistically underdeveloped country, but can be crowned with success, make progress and serve as an example for the capitalistically developed countries.
Hence, the question of the present situation of Russia which is down for discussion at this conference takes the following form: Can Russia, left more or less to its own devices, and, representing something in the nature of a socialist oasis surrounded by hostile capitalist states —can this Russia continue to hold on and to defeat and destroy its enemies as it has done hitherto?
To answer this question, it is first of all necessary to elucidate the conditions which guarantee, and which may continue in future to guarantee, the existence and progress of Soviet Russia. These conditions are of two kinds: constant conditions, which are independent of us, and variable conditions, which are dependent on human beings.
In the former category we must class, firstly, the fact that Russia is a vast and boundless land, within which it is possible to hold on for a long time by retreating, in the event of reverses, into the heart of the country in order to gather strength for a new offensive. If Russia were a small country, such as Hungary, where a powerful enemy assault would swiftly decide its fate, where manoeuvring is difficult and there is nowhere to retire to, if Russia were such a small country, it could hardly have held on for so long as a socialist land.
Then there is another condition of a constant character favouring the development of socialist Russia. It is that Russia is one of the few countries in the world which abound in every kind of fuel, raw material and food— that is to say, a country, which is independent of foreign lands for fuel, food, etc., a country that can get along in this respect without the outside world. It is beyond doubt that if Russia had depended for its existence on foreign grain and fuel, as Italy, for instance, does, it would have found itself in a critical situation on the very morrow of the revolution, for it would have been enough to blockade it, and it would have been left without grain or fuel. Yet the blockade of Russia undertaken by the Entente struck at the interests not only of Russia, but of the Entente itself, since it deprived the latter of Russian raw materials.
But in addition to constant conditions, there are also variable conditions which are just as necessary as the former for the existence and development of Soviet Russia. What are these conditions? They are those which ensure Russia reserves. The point is that in the bitter war which has been going on between Russia and the Entente for three years, and which may go on for another three years—in such a war the question of fighting reserves is decisive.
What, then, are the Entente's reserves? What are our reserves?
The Entente's reserves consist, firstly, of Wrangel's forces and the young armies of the young bourgeois states, which have not yet been infected with the "virus of class antagonisms" (Poland, Rumania, Armenia, Georgia, etc.). The Entente's weak point in this respect is that it has not a counter-revolutionary army of its own. Because of the revolutionary movement in the West, it is not in a position to hurl against Russia its own, that is, British, French and other, forces, and consequently has to use the armies of others, which it finances, but which it cannot order about entirely at its own discretion as if they were its own armies. The fact that these armies are operating on the instructions of the Entente by no means does away with the frictions that exist, and will continue to exist, between the Entente and the national interests of the countries whose armies the Entente is using. The peace signed with Poland in spite of the promptings of the Entente is one more confirmation of the existence of such frictions. Well, this fact cannot but undermine the inner strength of the Entente's fighting reserves.
The Entente's reserves consist, secondly, of the counter-revolutionary forces that are operating in the rear of our armies, organizing guerilla and other actions of every kind.
Lastly, there are also the Entente reserves that are operating in the colonies and semi-colonies subjugated by the Entente, their object being to stifle the revolutionary movement that is beginning to develop in these countries.
We say nothing of the Entente's reserves in Europe itself in the shape of all kinds of scorpions, up to and including the Second International, whose aim it is to stifle the socialist revolution in the West.
Russia's reserves consist, in the first place, of the Red Army, which is an army of workers and peasants.
The Red Army differs from the armies hired and bought by the Entente in that it is fighting for the liberty and independence of its own country, that its interests merge with the interests of the country for which it is shedding its blood, and with the interests of the government on whose instructions it is fighting. Therein lies the inexhaustible inherent strength of Soviet Russia's basic reserves.
Russia's reserves consist, secondly, in those revolutionary movements which are developing in the West and evolving into a socialist revolution. There is no doubt that had it not been for this revolutionary movement in the West, the Entente would have had its own counterrevolutionary armies and would have ventured the risk of direct armed intervention in Russia's affairs.
Russia's reserves consist, lastly, in that growing ferment in the East and in the Entente's colonies and semi-colonies which is developing into an open revolutionary movement for the emancipation of the countries of the East from the imperialist yoke, thereby threatening to deprive the Entente of its sources of raw materials and fuel. It should be remembered that the colonies are the Achilles' heel of imperialism, a blow at which would place the Entente in a critical position. There is no doubt that the revolutionary movement in the East is surrounding the Entente with an atmosphere of uncertainty and disintegration.
Such are our reserves.
What has been the historical development of these factors?
In 1918, Soviet Russia consisted of inner Russia, which was cut off from its sources of raw materials, food and fuel (the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Siberia, Turkestan), had no army to speak of, and received no support from the West-European proletariat. At that time the Entente could talk of undertaking direct armed intervention in Russia's affairs, which it did. Now, two years later, Russia presents an entirely different picture. Siberia, the Ukraine, the Caucasus and Turkestan are already liberated. Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin have been smashed. Some of the young bourgeois states (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland) have been neutralized. The remnants of Denikin's army (Wrangel's army) are on the eve of destruction. The revolutionary movement in the countries of the West is forging ahead and strengthening its militant organ, the Third International, while the Entente no longer dares even to think of direct armed intervention in Russia's affairs. In the East, the revolutionary movement against the Entente is growing and creating a core in the shape of revolutionary Turkey, and forming its militant organ in the shape of the Committee of Action and Propaganda. 1
In brief, the Entente's reserves are melting away day by day, while Soviet Russia's reserves are being replenished.
It is clear that now, in 1920, the chances of Russia being defeated are incomparably less than they were two years ago. It is clear that if Russia withstood the Entente's assault two years ago, so much the more will she withstand it now, when her reserves in all fields of the struggle are multiplying.
Does this mean that the war with the Entente is coming to an end, that we may lay down our arms, disband our troops and begin peaceful labours?
No, it does not. The Entente may have reconciled itself, however grudgingly, to the peace we have concluded with the Poles, but, judging by all the signs, it does not intend to lay down its arms; it obviously intends to shift the theatre of hostilities to the South, to the Transcaucasian area, and it is quite possible that Georgia, being a kept woman of the Entente, will consider itself in duty bound to serve it.
Evidently, the belief is that the earth is too small for both the Entente and Russia, that one of them must perish if peace is to be established on earth. If that is how the question stands, if that is the way the Entente puts it—and it is the only way it does put it—obviously Russia cannot lay down its arms. On the contrary, we must bend every effort to set into motion all the forces of the country to parry the new blow. The Red Army, the protector of the liberty and independence of our country, must be strengthened and fortified, the socialist revolution in the West must be given every support, the countries of the East which are fighting the Entente for their liberation must be assisted with every means in our power—such are our immediate duties, and we must perform them unswervingly and with the utmost energy if we want to win.
And we certainly shall win if we perform these duties conscientiously.
In conclusion, I should like to mention one condition without which the victory of the revolution in the West will be extremely difficult. I am referring to the building up of food stocks for the revolution in the West. The fact of the matter is that the Western countries (Germany, Italy, etc.) are completely dependent up America, which supplies Europe with grain. In the event of a victory of the revolution in these countries, the proletariat would be confronted with a food crisis the very next day, should bourgeois America refuse to supply them with grain, which is quite likely. Russia has no food reserves to speak of, but it could nevertheless accumulate a certain stock; and in view of the possibility and likelihood of the food prospects just described, it would be well to give consideration at once to the question of creating a food reserve in Russia for our Western comrades. This question is not getting the attention it deserves from some of our comrades, but, as you see, it may be of vital importance to the course and outcome of the revolution in the West.
Kommunist (Vladikavkaz), No. 172, October 30, 1920
1.The Committee of Action and Propaganda, or the Council of Action and Propaganda of the Peoples of the East, was instituted at the First Congress of the Peoples of the East, held in Baku in September 1920. Its purpose was to organize propaganda, to support and unite the liberation movement of the East. It existed for about a year.