Put Not Your Trust in Commissars
On May 17th, 1941, the “Russia To-day Society” held a meeting in Glasgow, which was advertised under the title “We Need Russia’s Friendship.” The speakers were Mr. Ivor Montagu and Mr. P. Sloan, both well-known advocates of an Anglo-Russian Pact. Since Socialists do not hold the view that the Russian or any other Government is concerned with the emancipation of the workers, we do not have to inquire into the merits of the Pacts they make with each other. It is, however, necessary to dispel the illusion that one of these Governments, the Russian, has loftier and more disinterested motives than the others.
We notice that a week earlier the Russian Government, according to the News Chronicle (May 10th, 1941) gave the Yugo-Slav legation in Moscow notice to leave the country on the ground that Russia no longer recognised its status as Yugo-Slavia had lost its sovereignty. The Yugo-Slav Minister to Moscow, M. Gavrilovitch, thus summarily ejected by the Russian Government, is the man who, only a few weeks earlier, had been “largely instrumental in bringing Yugo-Slavia into the war, and who negotiated the non-aggression pact with the Soviet just before the German invasion.”
It looks as if putting your trust in Commissars is like putting your trust in Princes.
Then, of course, there is the Russo-Japanese Pact, signed with great acclamation in Moscow on April 13th. The Manchester Guardian’s comment
“By the new agreement Japan recognises Russia’s exclusive interest in Outer Mongolia and Russia recognises Japan’s in Manchukuo; that is not what they say, but it is what they mean. China, which claims the sovereignty, has protested.”
“Appeasement” seems to be all the rage in Moscow these days, though we seem to remember a time when, to the Communist, appeasement was spelled C-H-A-M-B-E-R-L-A-I-N.
The Pact produced a remarkable new doctrine in the columns of the Moscow Pravda. Often the Bolsheviks argued that in the modern world war is caused, and inevitably caused, by capitalism. Front this they went on to say that pacts and treaties could not prevent war. The new doctrine is that the issues between Governments only rankle because of the absence of “political accord which forms the essential requisite for a solution of economic problems.”
The following quotation from Pravda deals with the Russo-Japanese Pact and was reproduced in the Anglo-Russian News Bulletin (April 19th. 1941): —
“The Neutrality Pact and Declaration clear the road for a settlement of the remaining outstanding issues between the U.S.S.R. and Japan, including the Fishing Convention. Trade Treaty, etc. All these outstanding issues, despite their importance, were often delayed because there did not exist between Japan and the U.S.S.R. political accord which forms the essential requisite for a solution of economic problems. Now when this requisite is created, when both Governments have solemnly declared that both Parties are striving for friendship, all obstacles which were in the way of the development of political and economic relations between the U.S.S.R. and Japan are removed.”
While we do not imagine that the Bolsheviks really believe this sort of thing, it is difficult to discover what they do believe. Cynicism is usually the fate of those who make a principle of opportunism.