Wm. Paul

Mercenary Murderers

Source: The Communist, June 24, 1922
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

BY its reactionary propaganda on behalf of the members of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party, at present on trial at Moscow, the Second International is rendering another great service to the enemies of the Soviet Republic. The Second International has at last roused itself to enthusiastic action and has embarked on an energetic campaign against the Russian Communists which is assisting the imperialists of all lands. It has not displayed such energy since it led the masses of the various countries against each other, in 1914, at the behest of the capitalist war-mongers.

Mr. J. R. Macdonald, the well-known indemnity champion and leader of the Second International is now anxious to become as popular as Mrs. Snowden is in reactionary circles. He yearns to wear the mantle of the great Horatio who was, amongst many things, Britain’s most relentless opponent of Bolshevism. What better tactic could Mr. Macdonald adopt, at a moment when his waning political influence is at very low ebb, than to denounce the Russian Government for daring to put on trial certain misguided gentlemen who were opposed to it? Everybody knows from Basil Thompson right down to Jimmy Thomas and the Morning Post, that the speediest way to become a popular idol with political reactionaries and the subsidised press, is to make a spirited attack upon the leaders of the Russian Soviet Republic.

Now, who are these people who are on trial in Moscow? First, of all they are members of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party.

This organisation has always advocated, in opposition to the Communists, the policy of individual assassination as one way of overcoming its political enemies.

The Communists have always argued that the force of the social revolution rests in the organised mass power of the proletariat and not in deeds of individual terrorism. Before the days of the Bolshevik revolution this difference in revolutionary tactics, which was one of many things that separated the Communists from the Social Revolutionaries, caused fierce struggles in the ranks of the Russian Labour movement.

When the Soviets rose to power many of the most clearly poised members of the Social Revolutionary Party stood firmly by the side of the Communists in their heroic efforts to direct and protect the revolution against all sorts and conditions of reactionaries. There were other members, however, like many prominent Labour leaders in Britain, who were furious at the success of the Communists and who allied themselves with capitalist enemies in order to defeat the revolutionary achievements of the peasants and workers. Thus, since the rise of the Soviet Republic the most dangerous enemy inside its gate has been the Social Revolutionary Party which failing to stir up the Russian masses against the Government.

resorted to deeds of assassination, directed at the leaders of the Communist party, in order to try and succeed in its foul reactionary conspiracy.

Just as water rises to its own level, so the imperialist cliques, who are attempting to smash Soviet Russia by blockades and armed forces, soon came in contact with the Social Revolutionary Party and paid it money to facilitate its work of murdering the leaders of the Soviet. In self-defence the Soviet Government arrested several of these active hired assassins. These are the people who are now on trial at Moscow. These are the “noble idealists” over whom the Morning Post and J. R. Macdonald are creating such a fuss. It was the same capitalist papers who are now praising the prisoners on trial at Moscow, that howled aloud for the blood of James Connolly after the Dublin rising; it is the same J. R. Macdonald who then maintained a cowardly silence when his comrade, A. Henderson, retained his office in the Government that executed the wounded Connolly.

The most terrific indictment at the trial of the members of the Russian Social Revolutionary Party will be the evidence of those who recently left that organisation in disgust, when they found out that it was a venal tool in the hands of the Entente imperialists against the Soviet Government. Two of the most daring Social Revolutionaries were Semenov and Lydia Komopliova. They were desperately heroic. They were the instruments who put into operation the plots and conspiracies concocted by the leaders of their party. They were, at the beginning, opposed to the leadership of the Communist Party in the Soviet revolution, and acting on behalf of their organisation they planned to murder such people as Volodaraky, Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, etc. In accordance with their instructions they murdered Volodarsky. So great was the indignation of the Russian masses at this deed that the Social Revolutionary Party was afraid to claim credit for the murder. It had hoped that this, and a few other assassinations, would intimidate the Communists and force them to abdicate; it also believed that such murders would put courage into the opponents of the Soviets and stimulate them to plan “a mass rising” against the revolutionary government. It also believed that the murder of Lenin and Trotsky would enable it to push forward to political control as the Party that had destroyed the “dictators.”

The plot to blow up Trotsky’s train miscarried but Fanny Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary Party was successful in shooting two poisoned bullets into Lenin. This crime caused a tremendous outburst on the part of the masses against the Social Revolutionary Party, the leaders of which again denied that they had organised the attempted assassination. It was these denials by the leaders of the Social Revolutionary Party that compelled people like Semenov and Komopliova to reflect upon their murder and bomb tactics. They began to notice that while they were risking their lives by carrying out assassinations the leaders of the Social Revolutionaries who were in safe hiding, immediately denied and repudiated their own policy when it created a condition of affairs that imperilled their own skins.

When in addition to this they discovered that the Social Revolutionary Party was in touch with the reactionaries of the Entente, and was also working hand in hand with Ludendorf, and received money from these sources, then the more honest members of the Social Revolutionary Party realised that they were subsidised tools being used against the Revolution. They had honestly imagined that the Communists were betraying the revolution. To save the Revolution they were prepared to commit murder; they were anxious and willing to make any sacrifice and they held their own lives as nothing compared with the ideals they served. From the moment, however, they found that their policy was aiding the counter-revolutionaries and was assisting the enemies of international socialism, from that moment “on them a great fight shined” and they saw that the Communists were struggling valiantly to consolidate the Revolution and were doing it successfully. Thus hundreds of active and honest members of the Social Revolutionary Party left that organisation and threw in their lot with the Communists. Many of them will give evidence against the Social Revolutionary prisoners now on trial at Moscow.

The British press will give this story of the trial coloured, as usual, against the Soviet Government. Its grief for the prisoners will be real inasmuch as they failed to murder the Communist leaders in Russia. The Second International is no doubt very sorry too that the prisoners failed to carry out their murderous projects. Such a failure casts a certain amount of reflection upon its efficiency. In Germany, under a Government manned by leaders of the Second International it caused it no trouble to clear Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg out of the way. Here in Britain, Arthur Henderson, a distinguished Second Internationalist, sat cheek by jowl with his imperialist colleagues when they sent the gallant Irish revolutionary socialist, James Connolly, to his death.

We yield to no one in our admiration for those bold spirits who denounce tyranny wherever it plants its capitalist heel. But we have nothing but contempt for those mean souls who can only attack a proletarian government defending itself against mercenary murderers—particularly if that government is thousands of miles away. The Macdonalds are bold men when denouncing revolutionary governments abroad that are crushing reactionaries, but they are as timid as lambs when in their own country a reactionary government is crushing revolutionaries.

More people are being tried at Moscow for crimes against the proletarian revolution than those whose names appear on the indictment. The unwritten names include all the prominent leaders of the Second International in this and other countries.