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Changing Russia

The report that Russia is about to apply for admission to the League of Nations and to be given a place on the Council of the League brings to the mind the change that has come over Russian policy in the years since the Bolshevik uprising of 1917.

When the Bolsheviks came to power they and their admirers trumpeted forth the information that the first Socialist State had been established, but that it could not hold its place without the inevitable and imminent revolutionary flood that was about to sweep over the world. Russia was claimed as the vanguard of the Socialist revolution and in numerous writings it was pointed out that its policy would be to foment and assist the development of the social revolution in other countries.

For the first few years this was in fact the policy of the Bolsheviks who greeted the short-lived Soviets of Hungary and Bavaria with delight and extravagant phrases. It was also under the shadow of Russia that the now almost forgotten Third International was formed. It was also Russia that, in spite of the poverty of its workers, provided funds to enable glib-tongued Labour leaders to enjoy undreamed-of trips across the world and return home to make triumphal tours relating the most minute details of what was being accomplished in vast country of whose language they were entirely ignorant.

In the last few years a complete change has gradually come over the foreign policy of Soviet Russia. An indication of how complete the change is can be gathered from the following quotation from the pledge given by Litvinoff to President Roosevelt on November 16th, 1933, that it will be the fixed policy of the Soviet Government –

“not to permit the formation of any organisation of group – and to prevent the activity on its territory of any organisation or group – which has as an aim the overthrow, or the preparation for the overthrow of, or bringing about by force of a change in, the political or social order of the whole or any part of the United States, its territories or possessions.” (“International Conciliation,” June, 1934, No. 301, page 232).

Compare the above with the statement from the “Communist Manifesto” quoted by Emile Burns in “What is the Communist Party?” which runs as follows:-

“The Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.”

Russiahas evidently travelled far from this policy, although its Communist allies here are either too blind to see it or too servile to say so. Its continued economic relations with such countries such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy put the matter beyond dispute.

As Russia has not established Socialism and is not doing so in spite of the repeated statements of Communists, it has to carry on its work and build up its industries on line similar to normal capitalist countries; it must therefore enter into normal trade relations with the rest of the world, and it does so. As Harry Pollitt put it, “Soviet Union, in her own interests, must buy where she can sell.” (“Communist International,” July 15th, 1933, page 478.) Which sound capitalist economics!

When, in 1924, the Bolsheviks decided to throw overboard the “world revolution” (except as a mere phrase to give lip-service to) and concentrated on building up the internal resources of the country on the plea that they were building up Socialism in a single country (a complete reversal of their former views), the Communists of the world, who take their policy from Moscow, have simply been used to help on this object.

The foreign policy of Russia is aimed at living more or less amicably with the rest of the capitalist world, and they can only do this because they are building as the capitalists do.

Socialism is a system diametrically opposed to capitalism and impossible in a predominantly capitalist world. It is impossible in one country alone, owing to international economic interdependence. It is international and not national.

The extravagant claims held out of the success of Socialism in Russia have one by one proved by time to be groundless and Russia is rapidly approaching the stage of taking its place as a first-class capitalist power.

It may not be out of place to remind the more recent recruits to the Communist view that, among the many false forecasts made by the Bolsheviks, the most prominent was their utterly groundless view that the world will be a Communist one within a few years of the ending of the War. All the Bolshevik leaders of the time, including Lenin, Trotsky and Zinoviev, were swept off their feet by this view. How strongly they held it may be gathered from the following quotation from a statement by Zinoviev, the first president of the Communist International. On May 1st, 1919, he wrote:-

“Old Europe is dashing at mad speed towards the proletarian revolution. … Separate defeats will still occur in the near future. Black will perhaps win a victory here and there over the red. But the final victory will, nevertheless, go to the red; and this in the course of the next month , perhaps even weeks. The movement is proceeding at such terrific speed that we may say with full confidence, within a year we shall already begin to forget that there was a struggle for communism in Europe, because in a year the whole of
Europe will be communist. And the struggle for communism will be transferred to America, perhaps to Asia, and to other parts of the world. … Perhaps – for a few years, and side by side with Communist Europe – we shall see American capitalism will continue to exist for a year or two, side by side with communism victorious in the whole of continental Europe. But such a co-existence cannot last long.” Page 217. (Quoted by “International Conciliation,” June, 1934, No. 301).

The first conference of the Third International also looked forward to the establishment of the world Soviet the following year.

Many years have passed away since the above expectations were expressed and nowadays the friends of Soviet Russia are busy trying to organise a united front against Fascism and Nazism when they are not busy explaining away the Bolshevik agreements with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.