Communist International

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress of the Peoples of the East

BAKU

September 1920


An "Eastern Orchestra" played for delegates during the September 1920 Baku Congress.

 

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"We must, by the united efforts of the working people of all lands, put an end to world imperialism and the coercion of one nation by another.

We must put an end to the colonial policy of the capitalist powers and enable all countries to live in freedom and independence.

For this it is necessary to take the revolutionary road and prepare for the decisive battle, prepare the masses for immediate armed offensive, in serried ranks and close columns. Make haste, for one cannot postpone the revolution !

Delay means Death !"

(First Congress of the Peoples of the East)

 

 

 

 

Messages of Solidarity

September 1920 - September 2015

 

Statement of the Komintern (SH)

on occasion of the

95th anniversary of the

Congress of the Peoples of the East

 

Dear comrades all over the world !

Today we celebrate the 95th anniversary of the First Congress of the Peoples of the East which took place from 1. - 8. September 1920 in Baku.

The First Congress of the Peoples of the East called for the offensive military alliance of the working masses of East and West !

The First Congress of the Peoples of the East called for the international Soviet Republic of Labour in which there will be no enslaved, no oppressed peoples !

The First Congress of the Peoples of the East called for Soviet power throughout the world !

The First Congress of the Peoples of the East declared solidarity with the Comintern, the leader of the proletarian, socialist world revolution !

The first (and at the same time last) Congress of the Peoples of the East took place at a time when the Russian Bolsheviks were faced with very difficult conditions, when spreading the ideas of communism in the colonial countries. Soviet Russia was still in the middle of the Civil War. Moreover, the Bolsheviks had to care about the construction of the new proletarian Soviet state. The Bolsheviks had to solve the problem of the protection of fledgling dictatorship of the proletariat against world imperialism.
The border areas of Soviet Russia played an important strategic role in this historical situation.
These border regions formed a geo-political bulwark of Soviet Russia against the imperialist invaders. And conversely Soviet Russia was a protective shield for the peoples of the East against the imperialists.
The brotherhood of the Russian working class and the peoples of the East was not only a prerequisite for the strengthening of the Soviet State of Russia, but also a condition for the victory of the world socialist revolution. It was not only a mighty lever for the socialist revolution in the Western capitalist states, but also a strong weapon for the destruction of the imperialist hinterland and the liberation of the oppressed peoples in the East. The victory of the world socialist revolution was based on the alliance between the working masses in the oppressed and oppressor nations. The mobilization of the revolutionary struggle of the peoples of the East was a powerful lever for the common liberation from world imperialism. And therein lies fundamentally and historically the importance of the First Congress of the Peoples of the East in Baku. This is still one of the most important prepositions for the preparation of the socialist world revolution of today.

Under today's conditions of globalization, world imperialism has reached its highest and last stage. All countries of the world have been transformed into capitalist countries with a more or less developed proletariat. The world proletarian army is objectively ripe for the overthrow of world imperialism through the victory of the socialist world revolution. The establishment of the dictatorship of the world proletariat guarantees the abolition of the inevitability of oppressed and oppressor nations.

 

The First Congress of the Peoples of the East was held immediately after the Second Congress of the Comintern. This congress served not only directly to the implementation of the decisions of the Second Congress of the Comintern in concern of the national and colonial question, but was also carried out by a decision of the Second Congress of the Comintern.
A reference to the decisions of the Comintern on the national and colonial question is indispensable for evaluating the significance of the First Congress of the Peoples of the East:
On 25 July 1920, the Commission for the national and colonial question was convened by the II Congress of the Comintern. This Commission, guided by Lenin, consisted of 20 representatives of the following countries:
Bulgaria, China; Germany, England, France, Holland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Yugoslavia, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Russia, Turkey, Hungary and the USA. This Commission began its activities with the discussion of Lenin's Theses on the National and Colonial Questions.
One month later, the first Congress of the Peoples of the East was held in Baku.
Its political basis were Lenin's theses on the national and colonial question, adopted by the II World Congress of the Comintern.
These Leninist theses can be summarized as follows:

1. Distinction between oppressed and oppressor nations as a guiding principle of all theses.

2. The whole world system of states is determined by the struggle of a small group of imperialist nations against the Soviet movement and the Soviet states - with Soviet Russia at the top.

3. The bourgeois liberation movements in the colonial countries can only be supported if these movements are really revolutionary ("national revolutionary movements"), that is, when their representatives do not hinder us to educate and organize the peasantry and the broad masses of the exploited in a revolutionary spirit. If these conditions do not exist, the Communists in these countries must combat the reformist bourgeoisie, which also includes the heroes of the Second International.

4. There are pre-capitalist relations in the colonial countries. There is no pure proletarian movement (industrial proletariat). Nevertheless, the communist tactics and the idea of ​​Soviet organization can also be applied under feudal, semi-feudal, peasant conditions (peasants' Soviets) - ie it is not limited to proletarian Soviet organizations.

5. With the help of the victorious proletariat of the Soviet republics and by support of the proletariat of the advanced countries, backward countries can reach to communism, even without having to go through the capitalist stage of development.

6. The II International supports the own bourgeoisie in suppressing the uprisings in the colonial countries instead of helping the colonial peoples in their struggle against the imperialist troops of the oppressing nations.

7. In the fight against petty-bourgeois nationalism and pacifism it is necessary to convert the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat from a national dictatorship (ie, a dictatorship which exists only in one country and thus is incapable of determining world politics) into an international one (ie into the dictatorship of the proletariat, at least in several advanced countries, for the purpose to exert a decisive influence on the world politics).
In contrast to the national egoism demanded proletarian internationalism:
firstly, that the interests of the proletarian struggle in every country are subordinated to the interests of the proletarian struggle on a world scale;
secondly, that the nation that achieves victory over the bourgeoisie, must be able and willing to make the greatest national sacrifices for the overthrow of international capital.

8. The Comintern has a duty to be particularly careful and pay special regard to the national feelings of the peoples in the oppressed countries.
It is our obligation to make certain concessions, so that the distrust (that has arisen by the treachery of the II International) and prejudices among the colonial peoples against the proletarians of the most advanced countries can be rapidly overcome. Without the voluntary striving of the proletariat and that of all the toiling masses of all countries and nations throughout the world, without unity in the struggle of the proletariat in the capitalist countries and the oppressed peoples, the victory over capitalism can not be completed successfully.

Lenin created the famous slogan: "Workers of all countries and oppressed peoples, unite!"

 

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The Congress of the Peoples of the East held in Baku in September, 1920 holds a special place in the history of the Communist movement. It was the first attempt to appeal to the exploited and oppressed peoples in the colonial and semi-colonial countries to carry forward their revolutionary struggles under the banner of Marxism and with the support of the workers in Russia and the advanced countries of the world.

The Congress of the Peoples of the East was a chain-link in the process of the formation of the Soviet Union, in particular, and for the formation of the World's Soviet Republic, in general. The mobilization of the peoples of the East on a Congress was the one matter. The mobilization of the peoples of the East for the armed liberation struggle was another matter.

Without the armed liberation war under the leadership of the Red Army, the formation of the Soviet Union would have been impossible. Last not least, the formation of Soviet Union confirmed brilliantly the teachings of Marxism-Leninism on the absolutely necessary armed revolutionary struggle under the leadership of the proletariat and its Bolshevik party with its leaders Lenin and Stalin at the top.

The Russian working class liberated from tsarism, and with the Russian workers also peoples of the East liberated from tsarism.

The world proletariat liberates from world imperialism, and with the proletarians all peoples of the world. This is an inevitable process of the socialist world revolution, and the revolutionary liberation struggle of oppressed peoples is immanent part of it.

 

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Central to the decision to hold the Congress was the need for solidarity between the working class of the advanced countries and the oppressed peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies.

The opening of the congress on September 1 was preceded by an opening rally held the day before under the auspices of the Baku Soviet and the Trade Union Congress of Azerbaijan.

The gathering was by far the largest assembly of delegates organized by the Comintern up to that date. Participants are 1891 (!) delegates from more than 30 countries. The result is the creation of a revolutionary action committee to operate under guidance of the Communist International.

Transportation was difficult, with many delegates traveling together from Moscow following conclusion of the 2nd World Congress of the Comintern in a special train designated for that purpose. Even this was no easy task, as the train passed through territory wracked by the ongoing Russian Civil War, passing destroyed train stations and railway sidings littered with burned rail cars.

The British imperialism did everything to prevent this Congress. In the bombing of a ship even two Persian delegates were killed.

The governments of Armenia and Georgia banned attendance of the conference, forcing delegates to use stealth at border crossings from these countries.

About 70 per cent were members of communist organizations, the other nationalist and Islamic groups. Only 55 women were among the delegates, but three of them were delegated to the Bureau, "to accelerate the emancipation of women in the East."

In a resolution (unanimously adopted by the Congress) Bela Kun denounced the representatives of the Turkish bourgeois nationalism.

The Congress was guided by the criminals of Zinoviev and Radek who were later sentenced to death as traitors of the Soviet Union. Stalin wrote:

" Their villainies over a period of twenty years were committed, it transpired, with the participation or under the direction of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and their henchmen, at the behest of espionage services of bourgeois states. The trials brought to light the fact that the Trotsky-Bukharin fiends, in obedience to the wishes of their masters -- the espionage services of foreign states -- had set out to destroy the Party and the Soviet state, to undermine the defensive power of the country, to assist foreign military intervention, to prepare the way for the defeat of the Red Army, to bring about the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R., to hand over the Soviet Maritime Region to the Japanese, Soviet Byelorussia to the Poles, and the Soviet Ukraine to the Germans, to destroy the gains of the workers and collective farmers, and to restore capitalist slavery in the U.S.S.R. These Whiteguard insects forgot that the real masters of the Soviet country were the Soviet people, and that the Rykovs, Bukharins, Zinovievs and Kamenevs were only temporary employees of the state, which could at any moment sweep them out from its offices as so much useless rubbish."

(Stalin: History of the CPSU B, "Short Course")

In the end of this website we attach importance to the publication of the teachings of comrade Stalin on the national and colonial question.

Furthermore we published the historical documents of the Congress of the Peoples of the East for study purpose. These documents should be studied critically namely by simultaneously studying the lessons of Lenin and Stalin (In 1920, the Bolshevization of the Comintern was in the very beginning).

 

 

Russian Communist Party leaders

Sergei Kirov and Sergo Ordzhonikidze at the Baku Congress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collected Documents of the Congress

 

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Summons to the Congress
July 20, 1920

To the Enslaved Popular Masses of Persia, Armenia and Turkey

 

The Executive Committee of the Communist International is convening on August 15 [sic], 1920, in Baku, a congress of the workers and peasants of Persia, Armenia and Turkey.

What is the Communist International? It is the organisation of the revolutionary working masses of Russia, Poland, Germany, France, Britain and America, who, awakened by the thunder of the world war and driven by hunger, have risen in order that they may no longer work for the rich, but for themselves, and in order that they may never again take up arms against their own suffering and deprived brothers, but instead bear arms to defend themselves against the exploiters. These working masses have understood that their only strength lies in unity and organisation, that these alone can guarantee their victory, and last year they formed a mighty organisation in the shape of the Third International. Despite all persecutions by capitalist governments, this International has in its eighteen months of existence become the moving spirit of all the revolutionary workers and peasants striving for liberation throughout the world.

Why is the Communist International convening at this time a congress of Persian, Armenian and Turkish workers and peasants? What has it to offer them? What does it want from them? The workers and peasants in Europe and America, fighting against capital, are turning to you because you, like them, suffer under the yoke of world capitalism and, like them, are obliged to fight against the world’s exploiters: because if you join with the workers and peasants of Europe and America, this will hasten the downfall of world capitalism and ensure the liberation of the workers and peasants throughout the world.

Peasants and workers of Persia! The government of the Kajars in Teheran, and its underlings the provincial Khans, have robbed and exploited you for centuries. The land which according to the shariat was common property has been seized for themselves by the lackeys of the Teheran government. They deal as they will with this land and impose taxes and dues upon you as they see fit. After sucking all the Juices out of the country and reducing it to poverty and ruin, they sold Persia last year to the British capitalists for £2 million, with which an army is to be formed in Persia which will oppress you even more than before. So that this army may squeeze taxes and tribute out of you for the khans and the Teheran government, they have sold to Britain the rich oilfields of Southern Persia, thereby co-operating in the plundering of your country.

Peasants of Mesopotamia! The British proclaimed the independence of your country, but 80,000 British soldiers stand upon your soil, robbing and killing you and violating your women.

Peasants of Anatolia! The British, Italian and French governments hold Constantinople under the muzzles of their guns: they have made the Sultan prisoner and forced him to agree to the partition of purely Turkish territory and to the placing of Turkey’s finances at the disposal of foreign financiers, so as more easily to plunder the Turkish people who have already been impoverished by six years of war. They have taken the coal mines of Heraclea [Eregli] and your seaports, sent their troops into your country, trampling your fields, they dictate their alien laws to the peaceful Turkish peasant, they want to make you their beasts of burden, on to whose backs they put whatever loads they choose. Some of your beys and effendis have sold out to the foreign capitalists, while others summon you to arms to fight against the foreign invader — but without allowing you to take power for yourselves in your own country and take over the lands and fields which the Sultan presented to various parasites, so that you may sow these fields for yourselves. And tomorrow, if the foreign capitalists should come to an agreement with your oppressors on less severe peace terms, your present leaders will use this opportunity to lay new chains upon you, just as this is being done by the landlords and former officials in the regions permanently occupied by the foreign armies.

Peasants and workers of Armenia! For years you have been the victims of foreign capital, which has talked at length about the massacres of the Armenians by the Kurds, has stirred you up to fight against the Sultan and has continually gained new advantages from your fight against him. During the war the foreign capitalists not only promised you independence but also incited your teachers, priests and merchants to lay claim to the land of Turkish peasants, so that unending war might rage between the Turkish and Armenian peoples, from which they might extract unending profit, since so long as this discord persists between you the foreign capitalists will profit by it, through frightening Turkey with the threat of an Armenian rising and frightening the Armenians with the threat of pogroms by the Kurds.

peasants of Syria and Arabia! The British and French promised you independence, but today their armies have occupied your country, they are dictating their laws to you, and you, after liberation from the Turkish Sultan and his government, have now been made slaves of the governments of Paris and London, which differ from the Sultan’s only in that they hold you down more firmly and plunder you more severely.

You understand all this very well. The Persian peasants and workers have risen against the treacherous government of Teheran. The peasants of Mesopotamia have rebelled against the British occupation forces and the British press writes about the losses suffered by the British army in fighting with the rebels near Baghdad.

Peasants of Anatolia! You are being urgently summoned to rally under the flag of Kemal Pasha, to fight against the foreign invaders, but at the same time we know that you are trying to form your own people’s party, your own peasants’ party, which will be able to carry forward the fight in the event that the pashas make peace with the predators of the Entente.

It has not been possible to establish peace in Syria, and you, peasants of Armenia, whom the Entente, despite all its promises, are allowing to starve, so as the better to keep control of you — you are coming to understand more and more clearly that hope of salvation through help from the capitalists of the Entente is utterly senseless. Even your bourgeois government of the Dashnaktsutyun party, those lackeys of the Entente, have been forced to turn to the workers’ and Peasants’ government of Russia with a request for a peace treaty and for assistance. Now we see that you yourselves are beginning to understand your own needs, and so we address ourselves to you, in Our capacity as representatives of the European proletariat, possessing great experience accumulated in our struggle, in order to help you Achieve your emancipation. We say to you: the time when the European and American capitalists could suppress you by means of their own forces has passed, never to return. Everywhere in Europe and America the workers have risen in arms against the capitalists and are waging bloody war against them.

While we have not yet vanquished world capitalism, the capitalists are already no longer able to dispose of their people’s blood at their own discretion. For two and a half years the Russian revolution has been struggling against the whole world. The French, British and American capitalists have tried by every means — armed force, famine — to conquer the Russian workers and peasants, to tighten a noose round their necks, and make them their slaves. They have not succeeded. The Russian workers and peasants have staunchly defended their government and formed an army of their own which has utterly smashed the reactionary forces supported by the capitalists of the Entente.

Workers and peasants of the Near East! If you organise yourselves and set up your own workers’ and peasants’ government, if you arm yourselves, uniting with the Russian workers’ and peasants’ army, you will beat the British, French and American capitalists, get rid of your oppressors and find freedom, you will be able to create a free world republic of the working people, and then use the riches of your native land in your own interests and those of the rest of working mankind, which will be glad to take them in exchange for the products you need, and will joyfully come to your aid. We want to talk about all this with you at your congress.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International, as the representative of the British, French, American, German and Italian workers, are coming to Baku in order to discuss with you the question of how to unite the efforts of the European proletariat with yours for struggle against the common enemy.

Spare no effort to ensure that as many as possible may be present on September 1 [sic] in Baku. Formerly you travelled across deserts to reach the holy places — now make your way over mountains and rivers, through forests and deserts 4 to meet each other and discuss how to free yourselves from the chains of servitude, so as to unite in fraternal alliance, so as to live a life based on equality, freedom and brotherhood.

We appeal first and foremost to the workers and peasants of the Near East, but we shall be glad to see among the delegates also representatives of the popular masses who live much farther off representatives of India — as well as representatives of the Moslem people who are developing freely in association with Soviet Russia.

On September 2 [sic] there must peacefully come together in Baku, for the liberation of the Near East, thousands of Turkish, Armenian and Persian workers and peasants.

May the congress proclaim to your enemies in Europe and America and in your own countries that the age of slavery is past, that you are rising in revolt and that you will be victorious.

May this congress proclaim to the workers of the whole world that you are defending your rights, that you are uniting with the mighty revolutionary army which is now fighting against all injustice and exploitation.

May your congress bring strength and faith to millions and millions of the enslaved throughout the world, may it instil into them confidence in their own power, may it bring nearer the day of final. triumph and liberation.

The Executive Committee of the Communist International

Chairman: G. Zinoviev Secretary: K. Radek

For the British Socialist Party: W. McLaine, Tom Quelch

For the British Shop Stewards Committee: J. Tanner, J. T. Murphy

For the French delegation to the Congress of the Communist International: A. Rosmer, Deslinieres, J. Sadoul

For the Italian delegation to the Congress of the Communist International: Bombacci, A. Graziadei

For the Communist Party of the USA: L. Fraina, A. Stocklitski

For the Communist Labour Party of the USA: A. Bilan For the Spanish Federation of Labour: Angel Pestaña

For the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party: N. Bukharin, V. Vorovsky, A. Balabanova, G. Klinger

For the All-Russian Central Council of the Trades Unions: S.A. Lozovsky

For the Communist Party of Poland: J. Marchiewski (Karski)For the Communist Party of Bulgaria and the

Balkan Communist Federation: N. Shablin

For the Communist Party of Austria: Reussler

For the Communist Party of Hungary: Rakosi, Rudnyanszky

For the Communist Party of Holland: D. Wijnkoop'

(Kommmistichesky Internatsional, no. 12, July 20, 1920)

 

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Manifesto

of the Congress to the Peoples of the East


On September 1, 1920, in the city of Baku, the capital of Azerbaidzhan, a congress of representatives of the peoples of the East was held. Our congress was attended by 1,891 delegates from the following countries: Turkey, Persia, Egypt, India, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashgar, China, Japan, Korea, Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Bukhara, Khiva, Daghestan, Northern Caucasia, Azerbaidzhan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkestan, Ferghana, the Kalmuck Autonomous Region, the Tatar Republic, and the Far Eastern District.

The Congress of the Peoples of the East was convened by the Communist International. Every peasant, every toiler, needs to know what the Communist International is. It is a union of workers and peasants, of the Communists of the whole world, which has set itself the aim of smashing the power of the rich and bringing about the complete equality of all. At the Second World Congress of the Communist International, held in Moscow in August 1920, the following countries were represented: America, Britain, France, Austria, Italy, Spain, Poland, Bohemia,’ 07 Yugoslavia, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Persia, India, China, Japan, Korea, Indochina, Georgia, Azerbaidzhan, Armenia, Khiva, Bukhara, Afghanistan, Argentina, Russia, the Ukraine.

The Communist International wants to put an end not only to the power of the rich over the poor but also to the power of some peoples over others. For this purpose the workers of Europe and America must unite with the peasants and other working elements of the peoples of the East.

The Congress of representatives of the Peoples of the East calls on these peoples to realise such unity, which is needed for the liberation of all the oppressed and all the exploited.

Peoples of the East! Six years ago there broke out in Europe a colossal, monstrous slaughter, a world war in which 3 5 million human beings were killed, in which hundreds of big towns and thousands of other centres of population were devastated, a war which ruined all the countries of Europe and subjected all its peoples to the torment of unheard-of want and unprecedented starvation.

This colossal conflict has hitherto been carried on mainly in Europe, affecting Asia and Africa only partially. The war was fought between European peoples, with the peoples of the East participating in it only to a relatively small extent. Some hundreds of thousands of Turkish peasants, deceived by their rulers, who acted for the benefit of the German imperialists: two or three million Indians and Negroes, bought like slaves by the British and French capitalists and, like slaves, hurled to their deaths on the fields of France, far-distant and strange to them, in the service of the interests, alien and unintelligible to them, of the British and French bankers and industrialists.

But although the countries of the East remained aloof from this gigantic conflict and the Eastern peoples played only an insignificant part in it, nevertheless this war was fought not only for the countries of Europe, not only for the countries and peoples of the West, but also for the countries and peoples of the East. It was fought for the partition of the world, and chiefly for the partition of Asia, of the East. It was fought to decide who was to rule over the countries of Asia and whose slaves the peoples of the East should be. It was fought to decide whether the British or the German capitalists should skin the peasants and workers of Turkey, Persia and Egypt.

The monstrous four-year carnage ended in victory for France and Britain. The German capitalists were crushed, and along with them the German people were crushed, destroyed and doomed to starvation. Victorious France, almost all of whose adult population had been wiped out by the war and all of whose industrial areas had been devastated, was bled white by the struggle and left quite powerless after its victory. As a result of the colossal, barbarous slaughter, imperialist Britain emerged as the sole and omnipotent master of Europe and Asia. Britain alone in all Europe was still able to muster sufficient strength, for it had waged the war with other peoples’ hands, those of the enslaved peoples, the Indians and Negroes, it had waged the war at the expense of the colonies it oppressed.

Being left the victor and the omnipotent master of half the world, the British Government proceeded to carry out the objectives for which it had waged the war — to consolidate its hold on all the countries of Asia and to enslave, fully and finally, all the peoples of the East.

With no-one to hinder them, and fearing no-one, the handful of greedy banker-capitalists who are at the head of the British state, casting aside all shame, set about openly and brazenly reducing to slavery the peasants and workers of the Eastern countries.

Peoples of the East! You know what Britain has done in India, you know how it has turned the many-millioned masses of the Indian peasants and workers into dumb beasts of burden without any rights.

The Indian peasant has to hand over to the British Government a proportion of his crop so large that what remains is not enough to sustain him for even a few months. The Indian worker has to work in the British capitalist’s factory for such a miserable pittance that he cannot even buy the daily handful of rice he needs for subsistence. Every year millions of Indians die of hunger and millions perish in the jungles and swamps where they are engaged in heavy labour undertaken by the British capitalists for their own enrichment.

Millions of Indians, unable to find a crust of bread in their own very rich and fertile homeland, are obliged to join the British armed forces, to leave their homeland and spend their whole lives enduring the hard lot of the soldier, fighting endless wars in all corners of the world, against all the peoples of the world, upholding everywhere the ruthless dominion of Britain. While paying with their lives and their blood for the unceasing expansion of the wealth of the British capitalists, securing monstrous profits for them, the Indians themselves enjoy no human rights: the British officers who rule over them, insolent sons of the British bourgeoisie which has grown fat on Indian corpses, do not regard them as human.

An Indian dares not sit at the same table with a Britisher, use the same quarters, enter the same railway carriage, attend the same school. In the eyes of the British bourgeois every Indian is a pariah, a slave, a beast of burden, an animal which dare not have any human feelings or put forward any demands. Every demand, every expression of anger by the Indian peasants and workers when driven to extremities is met by ruthless mass shootings. Hundreds of corpses of those shot cover the streets of revolted Indian villages, and British officers force the survivors to crawl on their bellies, to amuse them, and to lick the boots of their enslavers.

Peoples of the East! You know what Britain has done in Turkey. Britain offered Turkey a peace by which three-quarters of Asia Minor, inhabited exclusively by Ottoman Turks, with all the country’s industrial cities, was to pass into the possession of Britain, France, Italy and Greece, while what remained of Turkish territory was to be burdened with such payments that the Ottomans would become permanent undischarged debtors of Britain.

When the Turkish people refused to accept such a peace, which would have destroyed them, the British occupied Constantinople, a holy place to Moslems, dispersed the Turkish Parliament, arrested all the popular leaders, shot the best of them, and exiled hundreds of others to the island of Malta, where they were imprisoned in the dark and damp dungeons of an ancient fortress. Now the British rule the roost in Constantinople: they have taken from the Turks everything that could be taken. They have taken banks, money, factories, railways, ships, they have closed all the approaches to Asia Minor, thereby depriving the Turks, who are without factories of their own, of the possibility of receiving any goods from Europe. There is now in the whole of Asia Minor not one piece of material, not one fragment of metal. The Turkish peasant is obliged to go about without a shirt and to plough the soil with a wooden plough.

The British used the Greek army to occupy the vilayet of Smyrna, the French to take Adana and colonial troops to take Brussa and Izmid. They have beleaguered the Turks on all sides, and are steadily pushing into Turkish territory, trying to reduce to complete exhaustion the Turkish people who have already been as tormented and ruined as they can be by decades of continuous war.

In those parts of Turkey which the British have already occupied, they scoff and jeer intolerably at the Turkish people, in their usual way. In Constantinople the British have taken all the schools and universities for use as barracks, stopped all Turkish educational activity, closed down all Turkish newspapers, broken up all workers’ organisations, filled the prisons with Turkish patriots and placed the entire population under the uncontrolled authority of British police who consider themselves authorised, in broad daylight in the streets of Constantinople, and without any excuse, to hit over the head any persons wearing a fez. As the British see it, if a man wears the fez, if he is a Turk, then he is a creature of an inferior species, a pariah, a slave, a beast of burden, who can be treated like a dog.

In the places they have occupied in Turkey the British treat the Turks like dogs, subjecting them to forced labour and punishing them with blows, and endeavouring by means of all sorts of tricks, base methods and violence to turn Turkey into a conquered country, so that all the Turks may by blows be made beasts of burden to work for the enrichment of the British.

Peoples of the East! What has Britain done to Persia? After crushing a peasants’ revolt against the Shah and the landlords, shooting or hanging thousands of Persian peasants, the British capitalists have restored the overthrown rule of the Shah and the landlords, taken from the peasants the landlords’ land they had seized and thrust the peasants back into serfdom, making them once again rayats, slaves without rights of the mulkadars.

Then, having bribed the Shah’s venal government, the British capitalists have by means of a base, traitorous treaty acquired all Persia and the entire Persian people as their absolute property. They have laid hands on all the wealth of Persia, they have installed in all the cities of Persia their garrisons of deceived Indian sepoys, bought into slavery, and have begun to behave in Persia as though in a conquered country, treating the nominally independent Persian people as a people who have become slaves.

Peoples of the East! What has Britain done to Mesopotamia and Arabia? It has, without any ado, proclaimed these independent Moslem countries to be its colonies, driven from the land the Arabs who have owned it for centuries, taken from them the best, most fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates, taken the best pasture — land, which the people need in order to survive, taken the very rich oilfields of Mosul and Basra [sic], and, stripping the Arabs of all means of livelihood, is trying to force them through hunger to become its slaves and its workers.

What has Britain done to Palestine? There, at first, acting for the benefit of Anglo-Jewish capitalists, it drove Arabs from the land in order to give the latter to Jewish settlers; then, trying to appease the discontent of the Arabs, it incited them against these same Jewish settlers, sowing discord, enmity and hatred between all the communities, weakening both [sic] in order that it may itself rule and command.

What has Britain done to Egypt? There the entire native population has for eight decades groaned beneath the heavy yoke of the British capitalists, a yoke even heavier and more ruinous for the people than was that of the Egyptian Pharaohs who built their huge pyramids with slave labour.

What has Britain done to China? That enormous country, Britain, together with its partner, imperialist japan, turned into a colony and, exploiting and oppressing its 300 million people and poisoning them with opium, it is with its own and Japanese troops putting down with unheard-of cruelty the revolutionary ferment which has begun there. Restoring the old despots whom the people had overthrown, it strives with all its strength to prevent the many-millioned Chinese people from winning their freedom, and keeps them as before under its yoke of despotism, oppression and poverty, so as the better to be able to exploit them.

What has Britain done to Korea, to that flourishing land with a thousand-years-old culture? It has handed over Korea to the Japanese imperialists for them to tear to pieces, and they are now with fire and sword making the Korean people submit to the British and Japanese capitalists.

What is Britain doing to Afghanistan? By bribing the Emir’s government it has kept the people in maximum subjection, in the greatest poverty and ignorance, trying to reduce this country to a desert, in order that this desert may guard India, which Britain oppresses, from any incursion from without.

What is Britain doing with Armenia and Georgia? There by means of its gold it keeps the peasant and worker masses under the yoke of the hated Dashnak and Menshevik governments it has bought, which terrorise and oppress. their own peoples and drive them to fight against the peoples of Azerbaidzhan and Russia who have freed themselves from the bourgeois yoke.

Imperialist Britain penetrates even into Turkestan, Khiva, Bukhara, Azerbaidzhan, Daghestan and Northern Caucasia, its agents dart about everywhere, generously scattering, as bribes, British gold which has been extorted from the blood and sweat of the oppressed peoples. Everywhere these agents seek to uphold the tyrants and despots, the khans and landlords, to combat the incipient revolutionary movements, to keep all the peoples, at any cost, in a state of oppression and ruin, in want and ignorance.

Oppression and ruin, want and ignorance among the Eastern peoples serve as sources of enrichment for imperialist Britain.

Peoples of the East! To you belong the richest, most fertile, most extensive lands in the whole world; these lands, which were once the cradle of all mankind, could feed not only their inhabitants but the entire population of the world, and yet now, every year, ten million Turkish, Persian and Indian peasants and workers are unable to find a crust of bread or any employment in their wide and fertile homelands, and are obliged to go abroad and seek a livelihood in alien lands.

They have to do this because in their homelands everything — land, money, banks, factories, workshops — belongs to British capitalists. They are not masters in their own homelands, they dare not give orders there — on the contrary they themselves are ordered about by foreigners, the British capitalists.

This is how it has been up to now, this is how it was also before the war, when imperialist Britain still had rivals in the shape of the German, French and Russian imperialist predators, when it still hesitated to stretch out its paw over all the countries of the East, for fear of receiving a blow on this paw from some rival beast of prey. But now, when imperialist Britain has beaten and rendered powerless an of its rivals, when it has become the omnipotent master of Europe and Asia, now the capitalists who rule Britain are giving free rein to their wolfish appetites and without restraint or shame are sinking voracious teeth and claws into the bleeding body of the peoples of the East.

British capital feels cramped in Europe, it has grown, and cannot find places for investment: besides, the European workers, enlightened by revolutionary consciousness, have become bad slaves: they are not willing to work for nothing, they want good wages. In order that capital may have elbow-room, in order that it may bring in a good profit, in order that the European workers may be thrown a sop so as to hold back the growth of their revolutionary mood, in order that it may be possible to bribe the leading strata of the worker masses, British capital needs fresh land, fresh workers — rightless and unenfranchised slaves.

And the British capitalists think they have found these fresh lands in the Eastern countries, and these rightless and voiceless slaveworkers in the peoples of the East.

The British capitalists are trying to grab Turkey and Persia, Mesopotamia and Arabia, Afghanistan and Egypt, so as to drive all the peasants from the land, after buying from these ruined and indebted peasants, for trivial sums, all their holdings, which they want to merge into huge estates and plantations, on to which will then be driven to work as slave-labourers the Eastern peasants reduced to landlessness. They want, in Turkey, Persia and Mesopotamia, using the cheap labour of the hungry Turkish, Persian and Arab labourers, to build factories, lay out railways and work mines. They want, by means of the cheap goods produced by factory industry, to destroy the handicrafts and the millions of local craftsmen with whom the cities of the East are filled, to throw them into the street, unemployed. They want, by setting up huge trading firms, to ruin the petty local merchants, throwing them too into the street, into the ranks of the proletariat which has only its labour-power to sell.

The British capitalists want to proletarianise completely the peoples of the East, to ruin the economic activity of all the peasants, craftsmen and merchants and to force them all to work as hungry slaves on their plantations and in their factories and mines. And when they have so forced them, they intend to ruin their health with unbearable labour and starve them to death on wretched pay, squeezing sweat and blood out of the enslaved peoples of the East. And this sweat of the workers, this blood of the peasants, they mean to turn into surplus value, into profit, into pure, ringing gold! This is the future which imperialist Britain is preparing for the peoples of the East.

Britain, which is a country of barely forty million people, only one-fortieth of whom constitute the group of oppressors and exploiters, while the remaining 39 million are oppressed and exploited workers and farmers, wants to rule over half the world and to hold in slavery the 800 millions of the peoples of the East. One British bourgeois capitalist, having already forced 39 British workers to work for him, wants to force to work for him, in addition, 2,000 workers and peasants in Persia, Turkey, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Thus, 2,040 hungry and tortured people, enjoying none of the good things of life, are to work all their fives long for one idle parasite, a British capitalist. One million such exploiters, British bankers and industrialists, want to reduce 800 millions of the peoples of the East to slavery. And it must be said that they know how to achieve their aim — they have neither shame, nor conscience, nor fear; they have nothing but savage greed and unlimited thirst for gain. The ruin, hunger, blood, suffering and groans of 800 million people mean nothing to them. All that matters is profit, all that counts is gain! And in pursuit of this profit and gain the British imperialists have taken a tenacious grip on the throat of the peoples of the East, and arepreparing a dark future for them. A future of utter ruin, permanent slavery, rightlessness, oppression and unlimited exploitation — this is what is in store for the peoples of the East if the present government remains in power in Britain, if imperialist Britain keeps its strength and stabilises its rule over the Eastern countries. A miserable handful of British bankers devour hundreds of millions of peasants and workers in the East.

But this shall not be!

In face of the British capitalists, the rulers of imperialist Britain, there is rising up the organised might of the peasants and workers of the East, united under the red banner of the Communist International, under the red banner of the union of revolutionary workers, who have made it their aim to liberate the whole world and all mankind from every form of exploitation and oppression.

The First Congress of representatives of the Peoples of the East loudly proclaims to the whole world, to the capitalist rulers of Britain: This shall not be! You dogs shall not devour the peoples of the East, you wretched handful of oppressors shall not reduce to everlasting serfdom hundreds of millions of Eastern workers and peasants. You have bitten off too big a piece, more than you can chew, and it will choke you!

The peoples of the East have long stagnated in the darkness of ignorance under the despotic yoke of their own tyrant rulers, and under that of foreign capitalist conquerors. But the roar of the world-wide conflict, and the thunder of the Russian workers’ revolution, which has released the Eastern people of Russia from the century-old chains of capitalist slavery, has awakened them, and now aroused from their sleep of centuries, they are rising to their feet.

They are waking up and are hearing the call to a holy war, to a ghazavat: this is our call! It is the call of the First Congress of representatives of the Peoples of the East, united with the revolutionary proletariat of the West under the banner of the Communist International. Thus we — representatives of the toiling masses of all the peoples of the East: India, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Kashgar, China, Indochina, japan, Korea, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidzhan, Daghestan, Northern Caucasia, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Khiva, Bukhara, Turkestan, Ferghana, Tataria, Bashkiria, Kirghizia, etc., united in unbreakable union among ourselves and with the revolutionary workers of the West summon our peoples to a holy war. We say:

Peoples of the East! You have often heard the call to holy war, from your governments, you have marched under the green banner of the Prophet, but all those holy wars were fraudulent, serving only the interests of your self-seeking rulers, and you, the peasants and workers, remained in slavery and want after these wars. You conquered the good things of life for others, but yourselves never enjoyed any of them.

Now we summon you to the first real holy war, under the red banner of the Communist International. We summon you to a holy war for your own well-being, for your own freedom, for your own life!

Britain, the last powerful imperialist predator left in Europe, has spread its dark wings over the Eastern Moslem countries, and is trying to turn the peoples of the East into its slaves, into its booty. Slavery! Frightful slavery, ruin, oppression and exploitation is being brought by Britain to the peoples of the East. Save yourselves, peoples of the East!

Arise and fight against this beast of prey! Go forward as one man into a holy war against the British conquerors! Stand up, Indian exhausted by hunger and unbearable slave labour! Stand up, Anatolian peasant crushed by taxes and usury! Stand up, Persian rayat strangled by the mulkadars! Stand up, Armenian toiler driven out into the barren hills! Stand up, Arabs and Afghans, lost in sandy deserts and cut off by the British from all the rest of the world! Stand up and fight against the common enemy, imperialist Britain!

High waves the banner of the holy war ... This is a holy war for the liberation of the Peoples of the East, for the ending of the division of mankind into oppressor peoples and oppressed peoples, for complete equality of all peoples and races, whatever language they may speak, whatever the colour of their skin and whatever the religion they profess.

Into the holy war to end the division of countries into advanced and backward, dependent and independent, metropolitan and colonial!

Into the holy war for the liberation of all mankind from the yoke of capitalist and imperialist slavery, for the ending of all forms of oppression of one people by another and of all forms of exploitation of man by man!

Into the holy war against the last citadel of capitalism and imperialism in Europe, against the nest of pirates and bandits by sea and land, against the age-old oppressor of all the peoples of the East, against imperialist Britain!

Into the holy war for freedom, independence and happiness for all the peoples of the East, all the East’s millions of peasants and workers enslaved by Britain!

Peoples of the East! In this holy war all the revolutionary workers and all the oppressed peasants of the East will be with you. They win help you, they will fight and die along with you.

It is the First Congress of representatives of the Peoples of the East that tells you this. Long live the unity of all the peasants and workers of the East and of the West, the unity of all the toilers, all the oppressed and exploited. Long live the battle headquarters of this united movement — the Communist International! May the holy war of the peoples of the East and of the toilers of the whole world against imperialist Britain burn with unquenchable fire!

Honorary members of the Presidium

Radek (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosmer (France), Quelch (Britain), Reed (America), Steinhardt-Gruber (Austria), Jansen (Holland), Shablin (Balkan Federation), Yoshiharo (Japan).

Zinoviev, Chairman of the Congress

Members of the Presidium

Ryskulov, Abdurashidov, Karriyev, (Turkestan); Mustafa Sub'hi (Turkey; Wang (China); Karid (India); Mulabekdchan, Radhmanov (Khiva); Mukhamedov (Bukhara); Korkmasov, (Daghestan); Digurov (Terek Region); Aliyev (Northern Caucasia); Kostanyan (Armenia); Narimanov (Azerbaidzhan); Yenikeyev (Tatar Republic); Amur-Sanan (Kalmuck Republic); Makharadze (Georgia); Haidar Khan (Persia); Aga-Zade (Afghanistan); Narbutabekov (Tashkent); Makhmudov (Ferghana); Takhsim-Baari, Kaavis-Mahomed (Anatolia); Kuleyev (Transcaspia); Niyas Kuli (Turkmenia); Kari Tadzhi (Samarkand); Nazyr-Sedyki (India); Sidadzheddin, Kardash-Ogly (Daghestan); Yelchiev, Musayev (Azerbaidzhan); Azim (Afghanistan); Abdulayev (Khiva).

Ostrovsky, Secretary to the Congress.

(Kommunistichesky Internatsional, no. 15, December 20, 1920)

 

 




 

Appeal

of the Congress of the Peoples of the East

to the Workers of Europe, America and Japan

 

Workers of Britain, America, France, Italy, japan, Germany and other countries! Hear the representatives of millions of toilers of the East! Listen to the sorrowful voice that speaks to you from the enslaved countries of Asia and Africa, from Turkey, Persia, China, Egypt, Afghanistan, Bukhara and Khiva! We have been silent for many years, for many decades. You have not heard our voice and no-one had told you of us, how we live, how we suffer under the rule of those who were also your masters. Your masters, the European and American factory owners, merchants, generals and officials, broke into our peaceful villages and towns, plundered us for centuries, took from us what our labour had created and sent all this off to Europe, so as to embellish their lives, embellish their homes, with the work of our hands, of our ancient culture. They made slaves of us.

While we had previously had to pay tribute to our own rich men, to the landlords, slaveowners, sultans, emirs, khans and maharajas, now the whip of the European slaveowners was also laid across our backs. We were forced to labour on the plantations of the European capitalists. Our sweat was poured out so that they might obtain at a cheap rate the rice, tea, sugar, tobacco and rubber they wanted. Our children were born and died in bondage. If it suited the interests of your bosses and ours, they parted child from mother, wife from husband, and drove them from one country to another. They told you that they were spreading European knowledge and science in our countries, but in fact what they spread was opium and vodka, so that the Asian and African slave, when sorrow welled up in his heart, might more easily forget his intolerable life, and would not dare to lift his chained hands against his enslaver.

Your bosses, the European capitalists, supported our own enslavers and made them their guard dogs to watch over us. But when the whip of the local ruler was not enough, they sent in guns and destroyed the independence of our countries, subjecting us to their laws and their governors, making slaves of us in the full sense of the word. They said that the aim of their colonial rule was to train us for future independence, but they fought against nothing so hard as against the spread of knowledge among us toilers of the East. They had prisons and barracks enough for us, but they did not build schools in which the children of Asia might learn what the white men had discovered that was great and good. They looked upon us as inferior races, they forbade us to sit in the same railway carriage that white men travelled in, they forbade us to live in the same quarters as white people, or to eat at the same table with them.

You have not seen our wounds, you have not heard our songs of sorrow and complaint, you believed your own oppressors when they said we were not people but cattle. You, who were dogs to the capitalists, saw us as your own dogs. You protested in America when Chinese and Japanese peasants, evicted by your capitalists from their villages, came to your country in search of a crust of bread. Instead of approaching them in a fraternal way in order to teach them how to fight along with you for the common cause of emancipation, you denounced us for our ignorance, you shut us out of your lives, you did not let us join your unions. We heard that you had founded Socialist parties, that you had formed an international workers’ association, but these parties and this International had only words for us: we did not see its representatives come amongst us when the British shot us down in the streets of Indian cities, when the united forces of the European capitalists shot at us in Peking, when in the Philippines our demand for bread was answered by the American capitalists with lead. And those of us whose hearts were athirst for the unity of the working people of the whole world stood on the threshold of your International and looked through the grille, and saw that although in words you accepted us as equals, in fact we were for you people of inferior race.

Six years ago the great slaughter began. The capitalists of the whole world quarrelled amongst themselves as to which of them should have most slaves, which of them should grab most land in Asia and Africa. You, the workers of Europe and America, saw this robbers’ war as your own war, a war for the independence of your countries, although you owned no part of these countries, although the land which you soaked in your sweat belonged not to you but to your exploiters, your bosses. You helped your factory-owners and bankers to force us to take part in this war, which was a war against you and against us. The bayonets of European soldiers forced Moroccan and Algerian peasants to die on the battlefields of Flanders, Normandy and Champagne, from bullets, cold and disease, they forced the peasants of India to die in the sands of Mesopotamia and Arabia, and the fellahin to carry out hard labour in the wilderness for the British expeditionary force fighting against the Turks. They make Indian peasants act as pack-camels carrying shells on their backs for the white soldiers in Mesopotamia. For the gold of the European capitalists Chinese and Annamite workers were sold to Russia and France, to dig trenches under a hurricane of fire, the trenches in which you died, and to toil to the point of exhaustion in arms factories, making shells that killed you.

Our blood and sweat merged in a single stream with yours, but even on the field of battle, dying in the dead of night, yearning for his homeland, the coloured man was not seen as your brother, but regarded as a savage slave, whose death caused no-one to sigh or shed a tear. But in our homes, beyond the rivers, seas and mountains, the wives of our fallen husbands and the children of our fallen fathers, the breadwinners, wept for those they had lost.

The war is over and now your masters and ours, who waged this war under the banner of justice and democracy, the banner of emancipation for the oppressed peoples, have thrown off the mask. In the cities of India the bayonet, the sabre and the machine-gun rule. In Amritsar your General Dyer was able to shoot down peaceful Indian citizens with machine-guns, and order them to crawl on their bellies. But in the British Parliament not one workers’ M. P. got up to demand that this murderer be sent to the gallows.

In Mesopotamia the British capitalists keep 8,000 Indian soldiers, brothers of the victims of Amritsar, and force them to subdue the Arabs, so that the Arab people may be deprived of their only wealth, the petroleum of Mosul. In Smyrna. Greek soldiers who have been hired by the British capitalists run berserk, massacring Turks. In Southern Anatolia the French bayonet rules. In Syria the jackboot of a French general has kicked over the newly-erected edifice of Syrian independence. For two million pounds sterling the British Government has bought the freedom of Persia from a handful of Persian traitors, so as to make that country a stronghold of British capital against the Persian and Russian working people. In Algeria, Tripoli and Annam. the absolute power of French generals prevails, just as before the war. In Northern China and in Korea Japanese gendarmes and officers are in charge, shooting and hanging anybody who dares so much as think of freedom. Out of the blood of the Asian and African workers and peasants shed in this war has grown not a tree of liberty but gallows for those who fight for liberty.

But through the creaking of the gallows, through the groans of those suffering under the whip, we hear new cries, we hear the voice of the workers who have risen arms in hand against their enslavers, we hear the roar of the cannon of the Russian workers’ and peasants’ Red Army, created by the workers and peasants of Russia who have risen in revolt. We hear that they have overcome the Russian capitalists and landlords, and in our hearts grows a great joy, a feeling of certainty that the humiliated and insulted working people are able to find sufficient strength in their breasts to put an end to the rule of bondage and establish the reign of labour and freedom.

We hear, through the roar of the guns in this just war which is being waged by the Russian workers and peasants, your voice, the voice of the workers of Germany, Austria and Hungary. We hear that you too have taken up arms, that you too have raised your hands against your enslavers. And although we know that your enemies have as yet been victorious over you, we are confident that the ultimate victory will be yours. We hear from the cities of Italy the voice of hundreds of thousands of workers who are confronting the bayonets of the Italian capitalist bandits.

We hear the voices of the French workers from behind the bars of the prisons into which they have been thrown by the government of the French rich, who fear their great wrath and tremble at the flame burning in their hearts. Our ears have been reached by the sound of the waves of the rising sea of the British workers, beating against the cliffs on which stands the stronghold of British capitalism, that strangler of the peoples, that world-robber, that destroyer of peaceful lives! With profound joy, with profound inspiration we listen to these sounds, and there grows within us the belief that the day will soon come when our torments will cease, when our struggle will be united with yours. We believe that you will not fight for your own victory, your own liberation, alone. We believe that you will not cast off the chains from your own hands and feet while leaving them on ours. We believe that you will discard, like a dirty shirt, all that contempt with which our masters filled you towards the toilers of the East, striving to set the white workers against the coloured ones in order to be able the better to oppress both. Only a common victory of the workers of Europe and America and the toiling masses of Asia and Africa will bring liberation to all who have been hitherto working to make life better for a handful of rich men. If you were to free yourselves alone, leaving us in slavery and bondage, you yourselves would fall the next day into that same slavery and bondage, for, in order to keep us in chains and in prison, you would have to form, in the East and in the South, forces of prison warders and packs of bloodhounds to guard us, you would have to raise armies to keep us under an iron heel, you would have to give power over us to your generals and governors, and they, having tasted the sweetness of life without work, at the expense of our labour, and having learnt how to hold generations of coloured toilers in bondage, would soon turn their bayonets against you, and the wealth accumulated in Asia and Africa would be used to thrust you back into your previous slavery. If you were to forget us now you would have to pay for that mistake, you would have cause to remember our chains when you felt chains on your own hands. You cannot free yourselves without helping us in our struggle for liberation. The wealth of our countries is, in the hands of the capitalists, a means of enslaving you. So long as the British capitalist can freely exploit Indian, Egyptian and Turkish peasants, so long as he can rob them, so long as he can force them to serve in the British army, he will always have wealth enough, and executioners enough, to subdue the British workers. Without our revolt there can be no victory for the world proletariat over world capital. And just as you cannot wrest power from the hands of the capitalists without unity with us, so we are not in a position to hold this power in our hands unless we have unity with you. The capitalist countries of Europe do not produce enough corn and raw materials to provide food, clothing and footwear for their workers. Our countries, the countries of the East and of Africa, are rich in corn and in raw materials. This corn and these raw materials, without which the workers would die of starvation after their victory, they will be able to obtain if they are united with the toilers of Africa and Asia, if, by helping the toiling masses of Africa and Asia, they inspire the latter with confidence and love.

Unity between ourselves and you will signify invincible strength. We shall be able to feed and clothe each other, we shall be able to help each other with armies of warriors fired with the single idea of common liberation.

To this common struggle we have been summoned by the Third, Communist International, which has broken with the rotten past of the Second International — that International stained with our blood and yours, disgraced by its servility to imperialism, its betrayal of the interests of the toiling masses of the whole world. The Communist International has not only given us the slogan of a common holy war against the capitalists, but also summoned us to a congress in Baku, where workers from Russia, Turkey and Persia, and Tatar workers, worked for many decades for the capitalists while at the same time learning how to struggle together against their oppressors. Here in Baku, on the borders of Europe and Asia, we representatives of tens of millions of peasants and workers of Asia and Africa in revolt showed the world our wounds, showed the world the marks of the whip on our backs, the traces left by the chains on our feet and hands. And we raised our daggers, revolvers and swords and swore before the world that we would use these weapons not to fight each other but to fight the capitalists. Believing profoundly that you, the workers of Europe and Asia, will unite with us under the banner of the Communist International for common struggle, for a common victory, for a new life in common, based on fraternal aid between all toilers, we have formed here a Council for Propaganda and Agitation [sic], which, under the guidance of the Communist International, that union of our elder brothers in revolutionary struggle, will rouse the working masses of all colours, organise them and lead them to the attack on the fortress of slavery.

Workers of Britain, America, France, Italy, japan, Germany and other countries! Listen to the voice of the representatives of the millions of the peoples of the East in revolt, who are telling you of their oath to rise up and help you in your fight, and who look for fraternal aid from you in our fight. Notwithstanding the centuries of bondage and enslavement, we turn to you with the faith in your fraternal feelings, with confidence that your victory will mean the liberation of mankind, without distinction of colour, religion or nationality. Repay this confidence of ours in you with confidence that our struggle is not a struggle of darkness and obscurantism, but a struggle for a new and better life, for the development of the peoples of the East on the same foundations of labour and fraternity on which you want to build your life. May your ears be reached by the thunder with which tens and hundreds of millions of working people in Asia and Africa are responding to our oath, and may this thunder meet with response in the thunderclaps of our fight for the common liberation of all the toilers.

Long live the unity of the workers of all countries with the labouring masses of Asia and Africa! Long live the world revolution of all the oppressed!

Long live victory over the world of oppression, exploitation and violence! Long live the Communist International!

Chairman of the Congress:
G. Zinoviev Secretary: Ostrovsky

(Kommunistichesky Internatsional, no. 15, December 20, 1920.)

 


 

 

 

Appeal

of the Communist Party of the Netherlands

to the Peoples of the East represented in Baku

 

 

Comrades of the East! I greet you in the name of the Communist Party of Holland, and also on behalf of the Communists of the Dutch East Indies, who are fighting out there in the Far East, along with us, the Communists of the West, for the destruction of Dutch capitalism. And I know that thousands of Indonesians whom Sarekat Islam has united for the common struggle against the Dutch oppressors will join with me to send you their greetings.

Comrades of the East! The Dutch Communists and their supporters in the Dutch East Indies feel unspeakable joy this day: for the first time in the world’s history the representatives of the proletariat which is exploited by the capitalists of the West are meeting here in Baku, at this Congress of the Third International, with the representatives of the peoples of the East who are also oppressed by the Western capitalists.

We Communists of the West greet with enthusiasm this Congress of the Third International at which, together with you, we have taken the decision to fight against capitalism until it is completely destroyed.

Comrades of the East! I represent the revolutionary proletariat of Holland. Our country is not large: it has only six million inhabitants. But our masters, the capitalists, are rich and powerful.

They have been exploiting the Dutch proletariat for over 300 years, and for the same length of time they have also been oppressing all the peoples of the East Indian Archipelago, the population of which exceeds 50 millions.

For over 300 years the white Dutch proletarians have by their labour been making their masters and bosses ever richer and richer, and for over 300 years these same Dutch capitalists have been oppressing minions of inhabitants of Asia, robbing and ravaging the Dutch East Indies and drawing countless riches from them.

The Dutch capitalists, exploiters and masters of white serfs in Holland, are at the same time exploiters of the native population of the East Indian Archipelago.

Comrades of the East! Our capitalists, by exploiting the proletarian masses of their own country and squeezing their colonies in the East Indies, have acquired riches not inferior to those of the biggest capitalists of Great Britain, although the latter is a much stronger country.

The Dutch oil kings, who have drawn their wealth from the soil of the Indies, have formed, along with their British colleagues, an oil trust in which they hold a big share and which intends to monopolise the entire oil industry everywhere in the world.

The British government, behind which the big Dutch capitalists hide themselves. is aiming at the conquest of Persia, and these capitalists hope, with the help of the Anglo — Dutch oil trust, to extract fresh profits from the oil-wells of Persia.

The Dutch proletariat, striving to bring about the downfall of its own capitalists, is happy and proud to salute its Persian brothers, who are driving the British imperialists out of their country.

Comrades of the East! The Great War, in which Holland did not take part, gave Dutch capitalism such an impetus that victorious Entente capitalism treats it as an equal. The League of Nations has formally proposed to the Dutch government that it undertake a protectorate over Armenia.

This means that the imperialist great powers which have emerged victorious from the Great War, and which today have divided the surface of the globe amongst themselves, want to hand Armenia to the Dutch capitalists for exploitation.

Comrades of the East! The Dutch Communists are fighting to prevent these aims from being realised. The revolutionary proletariat of Holland will learn with joy that its brothers in Armenia are opposing with all their strength the acquisition of new wealth by Dutch capitalism through exploiting and despoiling Armenia.

Peoples of the East! The revolutionary Dutch proletariat will rejoice to learn that each one of you, in your respective countries, is working to prevent the big Dutch capitalists from investing their capital profitably and so adding to their riches.

Comrades of the East! The Great War has brought all the capitalist countries to bankruptcy, and today capitalism has been considerably weakened.

Our Russian brothers have smashed capitalism in Russia and established there the power of the workers’ Soviets.

In Central Europe, as in Western Europe, the peoples are rising, or are preparing to revolt, against the capitalists and the powers that be, who are also your masters and oppressors.

The proletarians of all the countries of Central and Western Europe are ready to join with their brothers, the Russian workers, in striking capitalism down for good and all. This is why the strength of capitalism is today so much weakened.

European capitalism has become so weak that it has only one resource left for meeting the harsh consequences of the war, namely, the colonies, or, in other words, exploitation and oppression of the colonial peoples.

This is why, at this moment when capitalism is showing so many weak sides, the time has come for you to strike your blow. If you all unite for this struggle with the heroic, victorious proletariat of Russia, which is holding at bay, single-handed, all the capitalist powers, and if you all unite for this purpose with the proletariat of Europe, which is rising against its oppressors, then capitalism’s days are numbered.

Comrades of the East! The Dutch Communist Party ardently desires the end and the collapse of Dutch capitalism: it knows that it is from the Indies that the Dutch capitalists draw all their strength and their wealth, which has increased immeasurably since the War.

During the last eighteen years, our oil kings have pocketed more than 1,600 million florins profit, and the sugar-cane, harvest, reaped in May of this year, brought the Dutch capitalists 500 million florins, whereas before the war these profits never exceeded 900 million florins.

The Dutch Communists know that the strength of their oppressors is rooted in the wealth they get from exploiting the East Indies. This is why they fight against the economic policy that the Dutch capitalists are pursuing so rapaciously in the Indies, just as they also fight against the oppression of their brothers out there. ‘Hands off Indonesia’ is their slogan.

At this Congress of the Third International, assembled in Baku, we address our appeal to you and we hope that it will reach the remotest corners of the Dutch East Indies.

Enslaved peoples of the Dutch East Indies! The struggle you are waging against your oppressors is the same as that which the Dutch proletariat is waging against its oppressors: the Dutch capitalists are our common foe.

This is why we must wage our struggle in a united way. Indonesian brothers! Do not rest content with the miserable wage-increases which you try to wrest from your exploiters by means of strikes. Indonesian brothers! Do not let yourselves be seduced by the insignificant political rights which the Government of the Dutch East Indies has granted to some of you. Beware of this fraud: it is only a sort of dole they have thrown to you with the sole aim of sowing discord in your ranks.

Indonesian brothers! Drive out your oppressors, the Dutch barbarians, from your islands, which are distinguished by a very ancient and lofty culture.

Drive out the Dutch slaveowners, their police and their soldiers — throw them into the sea!

Indonesian brothers! The revolutionary Dutch proletariat will hail the day when you rise up against your masters, who are also ours.

The Dutch proletariat is striving to smash the domination of the capitalists in its own country. If you rebel, the Dutch proletariat will do everything possible to prevent its Government from sending troops to put your movement down.

In a joint effort, we in Holland and you in the Indies will crush Dutch capitalism.

Indonesian brothers! Rise up against Dutch capitalism.

Indonesian brothers! Join with your oppressed brothers of the East who are also rebelling, against the British capitalists, the allies of your oppressors, the Dutch capitalists!

Peoples of Asia! The Third International calls on you to come together under the standard of the great Russian revolt which is gradually spreading all over the world.

Come together for a universal insurrection of all the slaves of the earth, without distinction of race or colour, against capitalist domination and tyranny.

This is what the Congress of the Third International calls upon you to do.

Enslaved peoples of all parts of the world! Unite to destroy the tyranny of capitalism, attack it without delay, take advantage of its weakness, do not wait for it to recover from the blows it suffered in the Great War. Smash it! And, with the same effort, build the new society of the workers and peasants, on the basis of Soviet power.

The Communist Party of the Netherlands

 

 

"The peasants of the East, now marching arm in arm with their democratic bourgeoisie to win independence for their countries from the Western Imperialist powers, must remember that they have their own special tasks to perform. Their liberation will not be achieved merely by winning political independence, and therefore they cannot halt and rest content when that is won.... For the complete and real liberation of the peasantry of the East from all forms of oppression, dependence, and exploitation, it is also necessary to overthrow the rule of their landlords and bourgeoisie and to establish the Soviet power of the workers and peasants..."

"Theses on the Agrarian Question,"

in "Soviets in the East; Agrarian Question:

Session 6: September 6, 1920," pp. 194-198.

 

 

 

 

The leader of the correct solution

of the national and colonial question

was

comrade

STALIN

Comrade Stalin wants neither privileges nor discriminations of peoples, of nations and nationalities.
Comrade Stalin wants the elimination and abolition of privileges and discriminations that divide the peoples.
Comrade Stalin wants the unification of the peoples of the various nationalities without any privileges and discriminations.
And that's the basis of the struggle of the peoples of the East!
This is the standpoint of proletarian internationalism!

 

* * *

 

Stalin wrote the following article one month after the First Congress of the Peoples of the East:

The Policy of the Soviet Government on the National Question in Russia

October 10, 1920

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920

 

Three years of revolution and civil war in Russia have shown that unless central Russia and her border regions support each other the victory of the revolution and the liberation of Russia from the clutches of imperialism will be impossible. Central Russia, that hearth of world revolution, cannot hold out long without the assistance of the border regions, which abound in raw materials, fuel and foodstuffs. The border regions of Russia in their turn would be inevitably doomed to imperialist bondage without the political, military and organizational support of more developed central Russia. If it is true to say that the more developed proletarian West cannot finish off the world bourgeoisie without the support of the peasant East, which is less developed but which abounds in raw materials and fuel, it is equally true to say that more developed central Russia cannot carry the revolution through to the end without the support of the border regions of Russia, which are less developed but which abound in essential resources.

The Entente undoubtedly took this circumstance into account from the very first days of the existence of the Soviet Government, when it (the Entente) pursued the plan of the economic encirclement of central Russia by cutting off the most important of her border regions. And the plan of the economic encirclement of Russia has remained the unchanging basis of all the Entente's campaigns against Russia, from 1918 to 1920, not excluding its present machinations in the Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Turkestan.

All the more important is it, therefore, to achieve a firm union between the centre and the border regions of Russia.

Hence the need to establish definite relations, definite ties between the centre and the border regions of Russia ensuring an intimate and undestructible union between them.

What must these relations be, what forms must they assume?

In other words, what is the policy of the Soviet Government on the national question in Russia?

The demand for the secession of the border regions from Russia as the form of the relations between the centre and the border regions must be rejected not only because it runs counter to the very formulation of the question of establishing a union between the centre and the border regions, but primarily because it runs fundamentally counter to the interests of the mass of the people in both the centre and the border regions. Apart from the fact that the secession of the border regions would undermine the revolutionary might of central Russia, which is stimulating the movement for emancipation in the West and the East, the seceded border regions themselves would inevitably fall into the bondage of international imperialism. One has only to glance at Georgia, Armenia, Poland, Finland, etc., which have seceded from Russia but which have retained only the semblance of independence, having in reality been converted into unconditional vassals of the Entente; one has only, lastly, to recall the recent case of the Ukraine and Azerbaijan, of which the former was plundered by German capital and the latter by the Entente, to realize the utterly counter-revolutionary nature of the demand for the secession of the border regions under present international conditions. When a life-and-death struggle is developing between proletarian Russia and the imperialist Entente, there are only two possible outcomes for the border regions:

Either they go along with Russia, and then the toiling masses of the border regions will be freed from imperialist oppression;

Or they go along with the Entente, and then the yoke of imperialism will be inevitable.

There is no third course.

The so-called independence of so-called independent Georgia, Armenia, Poland, Finland, etc., is only an illusion, and conceals the utter dependence of these apologies for states on one or another group of imperialists.

Of course, the border regions of Russia, the nations and races which inhabit these regions, possess, as all other nations do, the inalienable right to secede from Russia; and if any of these nations decided by a majority to secede from Russia, as was the case with Finland in 1917, Russia, presumably, would be obliged to take note of the fact and sanction the secession. But the question here is not about the rights of nations, which are unquestionable, but about the interests of the mass of the people both in the centre and in the border regions; it is a question of the character—which is determined by these interests—of the agitation which our Party must carry on if it does not wish to renounce its own principles and if it wishes to influence the will of the labouring masses of the nationalities in a definite direction. And the interests of the masses render the demand for the secession of the border regions at the present stage of the revolution a profoundly counter-revolutionary one.

Similarly, what is known as cultural-national autonomy must also be rejected as a form of union between the centre and the border regions of Russia. The experience of Austria-Hungary (the birthplace of cultural-national autonomy) during the last ten years has revealed the absolutely ephemeral and non-viable character of cultural-national autonomy as a form of alliance between the labouring masses of the nationalities of a multi-national state. Springer and Bauer, the authors of cultural-national autonomy, who are now confronted by the failure of their cunningly contrived national programme, are living corroborations of this. Finally, the champion of cultural-national autonomy in Russia, the once famous Bund, was itself recently obliged officially to acknowledge the superflu-ousness of cultural-national autonomy, publicly declaring that:

"The demand for cultural-national autonomy, which was put forward under the capitalist system, loses its meaning in the conditions of a socialist revolution" (see The Twelfth Conference of the Bund, 1920, p. 21).

 

There remains regional autonomy for border regions that are distinguished by a specific manner of life and national composition, as the only expedient form of union between the centre and the border regions, an autonomy which is designed to connect the border regions of Russia with the centre by a federal tie. This is the Soviet form of autonomy which was proclaimed by the Soviet Government from the very first days of its existence and which is now being put into effect in the border regions in the form of administrative communes and autonomous Soviet republics.

Soviet autonomy is not a rigid thing fixed once and for all time; it permits of the most varied forms and degrees of development. It passes from narrow, administrative autonomy (the Volga Germans, the Chu-vashes, the Karelians) to a wider, political autonomy (the Bashkirs, the Volga Tatars, the Kirghiz); from wide political autonomy to a still wider form of it (the Ukraine, Turkestan); and, lastly, from the Ukrainian type of autonomy to the highest form of auton-omy—to contractual relations (Azerbaijan). This flexibility of Soviet autonomy is one of its prime merits; for this flexibility enables it to embrace all the various types of border regions of Russia, which vary greatly in their levels of cultural and economic development. The three years of Soviet policy on the national question in Russia have shown that in applying Soviet autonomy in its diverse forms the Soviet Government is on the right path, for this policy alone has made it possible for it to open the road to the remotest corners of the border regions of Russia, to arouse to political activity the most backward and nationally diverse masses and to connect these masses with the centre by the most varied ties—a problem which no other government in the world has solved, or has even set itself (being afraid to do so!). The administrative redivision of Russia on the basis of Soviet autonomy has not yet been completed; the North Caucasians, the Kalmyks, the Cheremiss, the Votyaks, the Buryats and others are still awaiting a settlement of the question. But no matter what aspect the administrative map of the future Russia may assume, and no matter what shortcomings there may have been in this field—and some shortcomings there certainly were—it must be acknowledged that by undertaking an administrative redivision on the basis of regional autonomy Russia has made a very big stride towards rallying the border regions around the proletarian centre and bringing the government into closer contact with the broad masses of the border regions.

But the proclamation of this or that form of Soviet autonomy, the issuing of corresponding decrees and ordinances, and even the creation of governments in the border regions, in the shape of regional Councils of People's Commissars of the autonomous republics, are still far from enough to consolidate the union between the border regions and the centre. To consolidate this union it is necessary, first of all, to put an end to the estrangement and isolation of the border regions, to their patriarchal and uncultured manner of life, and to their distrust of the centre, which still persist in the border regions as a heritage of the brutal policy of tsarism. Tsarism deliberately cultivated patriarchal and feudal oppression in the border regions in order to keep the masses in slavery and ignorance. Tsarism deliberately settled the best areas in the border regions with colonizing elements in order to force the masses of the native nationalities into the worst areas and to intensify national strife. Tsar-ism restricted, and at times simply suppressed, the native schools, theatres and educational institutions in order to keep the masses in ignorance. Tsarism frustrated all initiative of the best members of the native population. Lastly, tsarism suppressed all activity of the masses in the border regions. By all these means tsarism implanted among the mass of the native nationalities a profound distrust, at times passing into direct hostility, towards everything Russian. If the union between central Russia and the border regions is to be consolidated, this distrust must be removed and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and fraternal confidence created. But in order to remove this distrust we must first help the masses of the border regions to emancipate themselves from the survivals of feudal-patriarchal oppression; we must abolish—actually, and not only nominally—all the privileges of the colonizing elements; we must allow the masses to experience the material benefits of the revolution.

In brief, we must prove to the masses that central, proletarian Russia is defending their interests, and their interests alone; and this must be proved not only by repressive measures against the colonizers and bourgeois nationalists, measures that are often quite incomprehensible to the masses, but primarily by a consistent and carefully considered economic policy.

Everybody is acquainted with the liberals' demand for universal compulsory education. The Communists in the border regions cannot be more Right-wing than the liberals; they must put universal education into effect there if they want to end the ignorance of the people and if they want to create closer spiritual ties between the centre of Russia and the border regions. But to do so, it is necessary to develop local national schools, national theatres and national educational institutions and to raise the cultural level of the masses of the border regions, for it need hardly be shown that ignorance is the most dangerous enemy of the Soviet regime. We do not know what success is attending our work in this field generally, but we are informed that in one of the most important border regions the local People's Commissariat of Education is spending on the native schools only ten per cent of its credits. If that is true, it must be admitted that in this field we have, unfortunately, not gone much further than the "old regime."

Soviet power is not power divorced from the people; on the contrary, it is the only power of its kind, having sprung from the Russian masses and being near and dear to them. This in fact explains the unparalleled strength and resilience which the Soviet regime usually displays at critical moments.

Soviet power must become just as near and dear to the masses of the border regions of Russia. But this requires that it should first of all become comprehensible to them. It is therefore necessary that all Soviet organs in the border regions—the courts, the administration, the economic bodies, the organs of direct authority (and the organs of the Party as well)—should as far as possible be recruited from the local people acquainted with the manner of life, habits, customs and language of the native population; that all the best people from the local masses should be drawn into these institutions; that the local labouring masses should participate in every sphere of administration of the country, including the formation of military units, in order that the masses should see that the Soviet power and its organs are the products of their own efforts, the embodiment of their aspirations. Only in this way can firm spiritual ties be established between the masses and the Soviet power, and only in this way can the Soviet power become comprehensible and dear to the labouring masses of the border regions.

Some comrades regard the autonomous republics in Russia and Soviet autonomy generally as a temporary, if necessary, evil which owing to certain circumstances had to be tolerated, but which must be combated with a view to its eventual abolishment. It need hardly be shown that this view is fundamentally false and that at any rate it is entirely foreign to the policy of the Soviet Government on the national question. Soviet autonomy must not be regarded as an abstraction or an artificial thing; still less should it be considered an empty and declaratory promise. Soviet autonomy is the most real and concrete form of the union of the border regions with central Russia. Nobody will deny that the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkestan, Kirghizia, Bashkiria, Tataria and the other border regions, if they desire the cultural and material prosperity of their masses, must have native schools, courts, administration and organs of authority, recruited principally from the local people. Furthermore, the real sovietization of these regions, their conversion into Soviet countries closely bound with central Russia in one integral state, is inconceivable without the widespread organization of local schools, without the creation of courts, administrative bodies, organs of authority, etc., staffed with people acquainted with the life and language of the population. But establishing schools, courts, administration and organs of authority functioning in the native language—this is precisely putting Soviet autonomy into practice; for Soviet autonomy is nothing but the sum total of all these institutions clothed in Ukrainian, Turkestan, Kirghiz, etc., forms.

How, after this, can one seriously say that Soviet autonomy is ephemeral, that it must be combated, and so on?

One thing or the other:

Either the Ukrainian, Azerbaijan, Kirghiz, Uzbek, Bashkir and other languages are an actual reality, and it is therefore absolutely essential to develop in these regions native schools, courts, administrative bodies and organs of authority recruited from the local people— in which case Soviet autonomy must be put into effect in these regions in its entirety, without reservations;

Or the Ukrainian, Azerbaijan and other languages are a pure fiction, and therefore schools and other institutions functioning in the native languages are unnecessary—in which case Soviet autonomy must be discarded as useless lumber.

The search for a third way is due either to ignorance of the subject or to deplorable folly.

One serious obstacle to the realization of Soviet autonomy is the acute shortage in the border regions of intellectual forces of local origin, the shortage of instructors in every branch of Soviet and Party work without exception. This shortage cannot but hamper both educational and revolutionary constructive work in the border regions. But for that very reason it would be unwise and harmful to alienate the all too few groups of native intellectuals, who perhaps would like to serve the masses but are unable to do so, perhaps because, not being Communists, they believe themselves to be surrounded by an atmosphere of mistrust and are afraid of possible repressive measures. The policy of drawing such groups into Soviet work, the policy of recruiting them for industrial, agrarian, food-supply and other posts, with a view to their gradual sovietization, may be applied with success. For it can hardly be maintained that these intellectual groups are less reliable than, let us say, the counterrevolutionary military experts who, their counter-revolutionary spirit notwithstanding, were drawn into the work and subsequently became sovietized, occupying very important posts.

But the employment of the national groups of intellectuals will still be far from sufficient to satisfy the demand for instructors. We must simultaneously develop in the border regions a ramified system of courses of study and schools in every branch of administration in order to create cadres of instructors from the local people. For it is clear that without such cadres the organization of native schools, courts, administrative and other institutions functioning in the native languages will be rendered extremely difficult.

A no less serious obstacle to the realization of Soviet autonomy is the haste, often becoming gross tactlessness, displayed by certain comrades in the matter of sovietiz-ing the border regions. When such comrades venture to take upon themselves the "heroic task" of introducing "pure communism" in regions which are a whole historical period behind central Russia, regions where the medieval order has not yet been wholly abolished, one may safely say that no good will come of such cavalry raids, of "communism" of this kind. We should like to remind these comrades of the point in our programme which says:

"The R.C.P. upholds the historical and class standpoint, giving consideration to the stage of historical development in which the given nation finds itself—whether it is on the way from medievalism to bourgeois democracy, or from bourgeois democracy to Soviet, or proletarian, democracy, etc."

And further:

"In any case, the proletariat of those nations which were oppressor nations must exercise particular caution and be particularly heedful of the survivals of national sentiment among the labouring masses of the oppressed or unequal nations" (see Programme of the R.C.P.).

That means that if in Azerbaijan, for instance, the direct method of requisitioning superfluous dwelling space alienates from us the Azerbaijanian masses, who regard the home, the domestic hearth, as sacred and inviolable, it is obvious that the direct way of requisitioning superfluous dwelling space must be replaced by an indirect, roundabout way of achieving the same end. Or if, for instance, the Daghestan masses, who are profoundly imbued with religious prejudices, follow the Communists "on the basis of the Sharia," it is obvious that the direct way of combating religious prejudices in this country must be replaced by indirect and more cautious ways. And so on, and so forth.

In brief, cavalry raids with the object of "immediately communizing" the backward masses must be discarded in favour of a circumspect and carefully considered policy of gradually drawing these masses into the general stream of Soviet development.

Such in general are the practical conditions necessary for realizing Soviet autonomy, the introduction of which ensures closer spiritual ties and a firm revolutionary union between the centre and the border regions of Russia.

Soviet Russia is performing an experiment without parallel hitherto in the world in organizing the cooperation of a number of nations and races within a single proletarian state on a basis of mutual confidence, of voluntary and fraternal agreement. The three years of the revolution have shown that this experiment has every chance of succeeding. But this experiment can be certain of complete success only if our practical policy on the national question in the localities does not run counter to the demands of already proclaimed Soviet autonomy, in its varied forms and degrees, and if every practical measure we adopt in the localities helps to introduce the masses of the border regions to a higher, proletarian spiritual and material culture in forms conforming with the manner of life and national features of these masses.

In that lies the guarantee of the consolidation of the revolutionary union between central Russia and the border regions of Russia, against which all the machinations of the Entente will be shattered.

 

Pravda, No. 226, October 10, 1920

 

Signed: J. Stalin

 

 

 

Marxism and the National Question (May 1913)

 

 

Concerning the Presentation of the National Question (May 1921)

 

 

The Political Tasks of the University of the Peoples of the East (May 1925)

 

 

"The mutual dependence of peoples and the economic union of territories took place in the course of the development of capitalism not as a result of the co-operation of nations as entities with equal rights, but by means of the subjugation of some nations by others, by means of the oppression and exploitation of less developed nations by more developed nations. Colonial plunder and annexations, national oppression and inequality, imperialist tyranny and violence, colonial slavery and national subjection, and, finally, the struggle among the "civilised" nations for domination over the "uncivilised" peoples—such were the forms within which the development of closer economic relations of peoples took place. For that reason we find that, side by side with the tendency towards union, there arose a tendency to destroy the forcible forms of such union, a struggle for the liberation of the oppressed colonies and dependent nationalities from the imperialist yoke. Since the latter tendency signified a revolt of the oppressed masses against imperialist forms of union, since it demanded the union of nations on the basis of co-operation and voluntary union, it was and is a progressive tendency, for it is creating the spiritual prerequisites for the future world socialist economy.

Our Party (...) based its policy in the national question on the right of nations to self-determination, the right of peoples to independent state existence. The Party recognised this inalienable right of nations from the moment it came into being, at its first congress (in 1898), when the contradictions of capitalism in connection with the national question were not yet fully and clearly defined. Later it invariably re-affirmed its national programme in special decisions and resolutions of its congresses and conferences, up to the October Revolution. The imperialist war, and the mighty revolutionary movement in the colonies to which it gave rise, only provided new confirmation of the correctness of the Party's decisions on the national question. The gist of these decisions is:

a) emphatic repudiation of every form of coercion in relation to nationalities;

b) recognition of the equality and sovereignty of peoples in determining their destinies;

c) recognition of the principle that a durable union of peoples can be achieved only on the basis of co-operation and voluntary consent;

d) proclamation of the truth that such a union can be realised only as the result of the overthrow of the power of capital.

 

The October Revolution gave practical effect to our Party's decisions on the national question. By overthrowing the power of the landlords and capitalists, the chief vehicles of national oppression, and by putting the proletariat in power, the October Revolution at one blow shattered the chains of national oppression, upset the old relations between peoples, struck at the root of the old national enmity, cleared the way for the co-operation of peoples, and won for the Russian proletariat the confidence of its brothers of other nationalities not only in Russia, but also in Europe and Asia. It scarcely needs proof that had it not won this confidence, the Russian proletariat could not have defeated Kolchak and Denikin, Yudenich and Wrangel. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the oppressed nationalities could not have achieved their liberation if the dictatorship of the proletariat had not been established in central Russia. National enmity and national conflicts are inevitable, unavoidable, as long as capital is in power, as long as the petty bourgeoisie, and above all the peasantry of the formerly "dominant" nation, permeated as they are with nationalist prejudices, follow the capitalists; and, on the contrary, national peace and national freedom may be considered assured if the peasantry and the other petty-bourgeois sections of the population follow the proletariat, that is, if the dictatorship of the proletariat is assured. Hence, the victory of the Soviets and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat are the basis, the foundation, on which the fraternal co-operation of peoples within a single state union can be built up.

But the results of the October Revolution are not limited to the abolition of national oppression and the creation of a basis for the union of peoples. In the course of its development the October Revolution also evolved the forms of this union and laid down the main lines for the union of the peoples in a single union state. In the first period of the revolution, when the labouring masses among the nationalities first began to feel that they were independent national units, while the threat of foreign intervention had not yet become a real danger, co-operation between the peoples did not yet have a fully defined, well-established form. During the Civil War and intervention, when the requirements of the military self-defence of the national republics came into the forefront, while questions of economic construction were not yet on the order of the day, co-operation took the form of a military alliance. Finally, in the post-war period, when questions of the restoration of the productive forces destroyed by the war came into the forefront, the military alliance was supplemented by an economic alliance. The union of the national republics into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics marks the concluding stage in the development of the forms of co-operation, which have now assumed the character of a military, economic and political union of peoples into a single, multinational, Soviet state.

Thus, in the Soviet system the proletariat found the key to the correct solution of the national question, discovered the way to organise a stable multi-national state on the basis of national equality of rights and voluntary consent.

Stalin:

"National Factors in Party and State Affairs"

Thesis for the Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks),
Approved by the Central Committee of the Party 1

March 24, 1923