Guy A. Aldred Archive
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source: RevoltLib.com; 2021
Russia, or the Soviet Union, became a member of the League of Nations in 1934. Her membership was championed by France and Britain. The commander of her air force was welcomed during summer of 1934 at Hendon to witness the imaginary bombing of London. For the first time since the revolution, military attaches were exchanged between London and Moscow. Prior to her entry into the League, the Soviet Union concluded an alliance with the French government that limited her to the French military and political system. During the same year the Soviet Union concluded an agreement with the United States of America in which it gave a distinct pledge not only against the conduct of Communist Party propaganda on American soil but even a pledge against protecting such propaganda when conducted on Soviet soil. All this was a normal consequence of the development of Capitalism in Russia. I would make no mention of the development of that Capitalism if it were not for the fact that the Communist Party of Great Britain and its propagandists refuse to recognize the existence of Capitalism in Russia ; or, when reluctantly compelled to face some aspect of this truth, pretend that Russian Capitalism is not real Capitalism, but a kind of Socialism. My point, as a Socialist, is that sooner or later that development, already expressing itself in the terms of Capitalist diplomacy, must finally express itself domestically in the Soviet Union in the terms of Capitalist diplomacy, must finally express itself domestically in the Soviet Union in the terms of the inevitable class struggle. The Red Army will be used against striking workers as surely as the troops of the American Republic were used against striking American workers in 1934. What will the Communist Party say then? It will denounce the striking workers as counter-revolutionaries.
I recall the XIV Party Conference of the C.P. of Russia, which was opened in the Kremlin, Moscow, on December 18th, 1925. This conference was reported on page 89 of International Press Correspondence, English edition, vol. 5, No. 89, dated December 24th, 1925. This issue was sent to me at the time with the printed request : “ Unpublished manuscripts — please reprint.” In this article we shall reprint.
There were present at the XIV Party Conference, six hundred and fifty-one delegates with decisive, and six hundred and two delegates with advisory votes, representing 591,000 members and 433,000 candidates, as compared with a total of 736,000 members and candidates at the XIII Party Conference. Comrade Rykov opened the Party Conference in the name of the Central Committee. Between the XIII and XIV Party Conferences, the Party had passed through the discussion against Trotskyism which was treated as a heresy. This conference elected the 47 members of the Presidium, the elected members including : Comrades Stalin, Rykov, Bucharin, Tomsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotsky, Kalinin, Dzershinsky, Molotov, Voroshilov, Krupskaya.
That portion of Rykov’s speech referring to the League of Nations was printed in full by the editor of the International Press Correspondence in the issue quoted, as a front page article, under the heading : “ The Soviet Union and the League of Nations. “ The editor introduced Rykov’s speech with the following explanation : —
“ We publish below a verbatim report of that part of Comrade Rykov’s great speech on the activities of the Central Committee of the C.P. of Russia at the Party Conference in the Moscow governmental district, which deals with the relations between the Soviet Union and the League of Nations.”
There can be no doubt therefore that Rykov was speaking in the name of the Soviet government and also of the Communist Party of Russia. It is not necessary to reproduce the report in full. But I venture to reprint the following most important passages
THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS — AN INSTRUMENT OF WAR AND NOT OF PEACE.
Judging by the expressions of opinion of a number of responsible statesmen of the bourgeois world, plans have been made for a whole series of conferences of an economic and political character in the immediate future. The bourgeoisie is endeavoring to bridge over in some way the antagonisms which exist and those which are maturing, in order, as they love to express it, “ to establish peace in Europe.”
The enormous number of conferences, treaties and agreements between the separate States do not and CANNOT in any way solve the questions of vital interest to capitalism, neither CAN they, in the slightest degree, prevent the danger of war.
It is very symptomatic that in recent times, the bourgeois and Menshevist Press as well as statesmen of great repute have begun to invite the Soviet Union also to join the “ League of Nations.” It was especially pleasing to read invitations of this kind in English newspapers, which have hitherto regarded the government of our Union as a gang of robbers. Only a year ago, the Conservative party won the election by means of the forged Zinoviev letter and under the slogan of the fight against the Soviet Republics. If one of us were asked whether he believes in the sincerity of such an abrupt right about turn, I do not doubt for a moment that he would answer “ No “ without any hesitation.
When our enemies begin to speak so kindly of us, we must ask: “ Does this not mean some change in their tactics; do they not wish to attack us from another side and beat us by other means? “ IN THE PRESENT POLITICAL CIRCUMSTANCES THE NEWSPAPER CAMPAIGN FOR INCLUDING THE SOVIET UNION IN THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS AIMS AT DISCREDITING US IN THE EYES OF THAT PART OF THE WORKING CLASS WHICH STILL CHERISHES PACIFIST ILLUSIONS.
The “ MacDonalds “ of the whole globe are persistently spreading among the working class the version that the League of Nations is an institution which is to ensure peaceful development to mankind. As long as there are sections of the working class who, in their hatred for war, place any kind of hopes in the League of Nations, it is more advantageous, from ,the political point of view, for our enemies to carry on the discussion with us just in this direction, in order to represent the Soviet Union as an enemy of peace....
On principle we take up and carry through a fight for the point of view that THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS IS AN INSTRUMENT NOT OF PEACE BUT OF WAR, NOT OF LIBERATION BUT OF OPPRESSION; further, that the propaganda for the opinion that capitalist countries might find a remedy for war within the capitalist society, IS A CRIME AND NOT AN ERROR ON THE PART OF THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL. In our opinion, war was, is, and will be inevitable under the rule of capitalism; was and is insolubly bound up with capitalism, is part of its very nature....
An American newspaper correspondent describes the policy of England in the League of Nations, as follows: —
“ In any conflicts which may occur, Great Britain trusts more to her navy, her air force and her army than to obligatory arbitration procedures. The arbitration agreement is binding for all except London, which intends to be the arbitrator in conflicts between other countries.” — (” New York Times.”)
WHY DO WE NOT JOIN THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS?
What significance does the bourgeoisie itself attribute to the question of our joining the League of Nations? I have read in a bourgeois paper a very exact political characterization of what the bourgeoisie expects from our joining the League of Nations. In this characterization it is stated that it is expected that the entrance of the Soviet Union into the League of Nations will bring about a “ POLITICAL CAPITULATION IN THE EAST AND AN ECONOMIC CAPITULATION IN THE WEST.” This is expressed very clearly and exactly.
The League of Nations is a shop which deals in peoples and sells them as it sees fit, in the form of “ mandates “ to the so-called States of high culture. The latter, however, defend their rights of mandate by force of arms and MERCILESSLY ENTHRALLED the peoples under their tutelage. For this reason, the East would naturally regard us as traitors if we were to stand behind the counter of this shop. We shall not agree to this. We shall continue to rejoice in the development of the movement for national freedom among the oppressed colonial peoples.
Joining the League of Nations would mean for us an economic capitulation in the West, because we should then be BOUND by the RESOLUTIONS OF THE BOURGEOIS MAJORITY in economic questions also.
I do not believe that those governments or those papers which propose our joining the League of Nations, or at least write about it, are honest. I believe that they know from the beginning that we shall NOT JOIN THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS, and I am convinced that the only object of these invitations is to enable MacDonald and his comrades to say to the workers, whom they continue to deceive by maintaining that the capitalist world is capable of avoiding war and by REPRESENTING A CONFERENCE WHICH PREPARES FOR WAR, AS A PEACE CONFERENCE, that: “The Soviet Union, by refusing to join the League of Nations, is responsible for its own isolation.”
They hope to bring about a political and economic renunciation on the part of the Soviet Republics of everything they have done hitherto, a renunciation of their program, of the October revolution and of the most essential principles of their existence. THEY HAVE NOT ACHIEVED THIS IN OPEN FIGHT, BUT THEY NOW HOPE TO DO IT THROUGN AN ENVELOPING MANEUVER.
In 1934 the Soviet Press defended the entry of Russia into the League on the ground that the League had improved and was a different institution from the League that Rykov denounced in 1925 with the consent of Stalin awl his supporters. Socialists or “Communists” (sic) were not expected to expose the Capitalist nature of the League of Nations, which remained what it was when it was first organized, not a League of peoples but a League of Governments.
The workers menaced the class struggle and their own emancipation when they permitted the interests of Soviet Russia and its government to attach them to one group of Capitalist powers as opposed to another. The workers had nothing whatever in common with the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and ought to have pursued throughout .the world a definite war on Capitalism, a definite opposition against all militarism, a definite conflict against all Capitalist diplomacy. The workers ought to have maintained a definite revolutionary class integrity. Soviet Russia joined the League of Nations because the Soviet Union was compelled as a Capitalist nation to do so at a time of crisis in her development.