Editorial: The Question of “Intervention”
We have many times indicated in these pages, not only since the war started, but right back to the early days of our existence as a party, what would be the fate of any premature revolutionary outbreak in any one country, where the local conditions favoured it so decidedly that it attained the overthrow of the ruling class in that country. We have pointed time and time again, to the ready assistance which the German ruling class in 1871 rendered to the French bourgeoisie in order to enable them to smash the commune of the Paris working men, and have held that up as an example of the international solidarity of the capitalist class as against the workers, and have claimed this as foreshadowing what would take place again in circumstances approaching similarity to those, and indicating the vital necessity of the international foundation of the Socialist movement.
Without admitting that the Bolshevik rising is Socialist, we may claim it as giving confirmation to our statement. In its overturning of the established order, it renders itself hateful to the bourgeoisie of every country. And what do we see? Already, according to accounts, the bourgeoisie of Russia are calling upon friend and foe to deliver them out of the hands of the Bolsheviks. Lenin declared that the capitalist element of the territories which have been annexed by the Germans “welcomed the Germans as deliverers.” Confirmation is lent to this statement by the report now to hand that the bourgeois elements in Russia are appealing for allied intervention to “organise the internal forces of Russia,” in other words, to establish capitalist control in the regions now dominated by the Bolsheviks.
So much for the internal side. Externally we find the Allies putting such pressure as they can upon Japan in order to secure her “intervention.” The excuse offered, that it is to save German capture of Russian stores in Siberia, and to prevent German exploitation of the far Eastern Russian territories, is one that won’t wash, in view of the enormous distance of those provinces from Germany, the small capacity of the only practicable artery—the Trans-Siberian Railway—and its vulnerability at almost any point though thousands of miles of hostile country, and the consequent danger of an invading force finding itself cut off and “in the air” in a region where with singular ease it could be made impossible to “live upon the country,” and especially in view of the considerable pressure of important business the Germans have and are likely to have for some while yet in other directions.
No, the real object is revealed in various ways—in the announcement of Japanese statesmen that they would only intervene as the friend of Russia and from a desire to see order prevail in that country—in the call of the Cadets and the Right Social-Democrats (both bourgeois parties recently revolutionary, but turned reactionary since the overthrow of the monarchy) at the Moscow Conference for Allied aid to “organise the internal forces of Russia” for resistance to the German invasion. No capitalist statesman can ever recognise as “order” anything but a working class dumb beneath the heel of an oppressor. Where that oppressor is of the capitalist tribe the “order” is ideal. Thus Japan butchering her Socialists in cold blood was singularly blessed with that prized condition, while Russia ablaze with slaughter, red to the horizon with blood, fat with rotting and uncounted corpses—that Russia was enjoying “order” such as she had not known for generations, because her people were subservient to capitalist ambitions, and suffering themselves to be broken upon the capitalist wheel.
So, from the capitalist point of view, the only method of restoring “order” in Russia is by crushing down the revolting workers and setting once again the capitalist heel upon their necks. It is exactly this that the Russian bourgeoisie are crying for in their Moscow resolution. Every attempt to “organise the internal forces of Russia,” military or otherwise, and for military purposes or otherwise, on the part of the Bolsheviks, has found in these Cadets and so-called Social-Democrats the bitterest of opponents. Every act they were capable of that could add new confusion to the administrative services they have resorted to with the set purpose of preventing the organisation of “the internal forces of Russia” by the Bolsheviks. It is not “to organise the internal forces of Russia” for resistance to the German invasion that these bourgeois hypocrites primarily wanted, but to establish themselves upon the Russian workers’ backs.
Having sought in vain through Russia for a force to found their ascendancy upon, the Russian capitalists now turn to the outside world, offering as a bait to those who are pretty full up with their own business, and as a blind to those, both inside and outside Russia, who might raise objection to foreign meddling with Russian internal affairs, “resistance to the German invasion.” Whether anything will come of this with the present condition of things is a bit of a problem, but this we may count upon — if owing to circumstances the appeal is made in vain, the mask will dropped upon the first opportunity, and the appeal will be made to Germany to spare a few regiments to “restore order in Russia.’
The moral of the whole business is that the capitalist class are a class when faced with a working-class rising, that, in spite of their present differences among themselves, they are internationally solid when they are threatened by their wage slaves. ‘The workers’ movement for freedom, then, must be built upon international lines as the only sound basis of organisation against an international foe. This is not by any means a new lesson, but current events give it a now force and drive it home with added power.
We cannot, therefore, better close this article than with that pledge of our internationalism which we gave to the working-class revolutionary movement in the first issue of our journal to lie published after the outbreak of this stupendous conflict:
Having no quarrel with the working class of any country, we extend to our fellow workers of all lands the expression of our good will and Socialist fraternity and pledge ourselves to work for the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of Socialism.
The World for the Workers.
— S.P.G.B. Manifesto, September 1914.