It was contended by Mjasnikov and other Anti-Parliamentary Socialists or Russian Old-Guard Bolsheviks that the diplomacy of Lenin was a negation of Communist first principles and that it implied the subsequent developments of Stalinism. Over 50 years ago, Peter Kropotkin wrote a short series of essays entitled “ Revolutionary Government “, in which he not only anticipated the Russian Revolution but foresaw its Capitalist and diplomatic development. Whether we accept the contention therein advanced and since developed by the modern Anti-Parliamentarians, or whether we accept the view of the Trotskyists that Stalinisnl is a corruption of Leninism, it is certain that the Russian Revolution entered upon an era of respectability, conservatism and definite Anti-Socialism long before 1934. This was made clear not only by its loans, profits, and concessions, but also by the treaty it concluded with the United States of America in November, 1933. In this essay I but draw attention to the main items of that treaty in order to prove the price that the Soviet Government paid for American recognition.
Litvinov was the Soviet Emissary to Roosevelt. The surrender is to be found in the last three articles of the communication he addressed to the American President on November 16th, 1933, as the price of recognition. The vital paragraphs from Litvinov’s note to the American President pledged the U.S.S.R. as follows : —
“ ... 3. Not to permit the formation or residence on its territory of any organization or group, or of representatives or officials of any organization or group, which makes claim to be the government of, or makes attempt upon the territorial integrity of the United States, its territories or possessions; not to form, subsidize, support or permit on its territory military organizations or groups having the aim of armed struggle against the United States, its territory or possessions; and to prevent any recruiting on behalf of such organizations or groups.
“... 4. Not to permit the formation or residence on its territory of any organization or group, and to prevent the activity on its territory of any organization or group, or of representatives or officials of any organization or group, which has as its aim 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.”
There can be no doubt whatever about the definite nature of this signed undertaking of Maxim Litvinov on behalf of the Soviet Government. The New York Times declared that “ the undertakings given by the Soviet Foreign Minister as a condition of recognition by the United States “ was “ miles as well as years away “ from the attitude of the 1918 Soviet Congress. Commenting on the articles of agreement, The New York Times said : “ The United States receives the most complete pledge against Bolshevik propaganda that has been given by the Soviet Government.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in its issue for November 23, 1933, stated : “ The bargain Mr. Roosevelt drove with Litvinov is the talk of diplomats everywhere.... It really marks the first time Russia has ever given in to the world powers. Our officials believe it will lead to the abandonment of the American section of the Comintern.”
These comments were fully justified by the terms of articles 3 and 4 of the Litvinov note to Roosevelt. In these articles, the Stalin regime pledged the Soviet Union to do something which it had never previously agreed to do at the dictates of a bourgeois government, namely, the formal suppression or expulsion from the Soviet Union of the Third International, or any organization with a revolutionary objective not limited in its aims and purposes to Russia. This is precisely how Roosevelt understood the two articles; this is how Litvinov understood the articles and meant them to be understood ; this is how the bourgeois press of America and the world construed them ; and the reason for such unanimous understanding is this, that no other interpretation was conceivable.
It is perfectly clear that the pact did not apply to the Intourist, or any travel agency for showing the sights of Russia to the foreign traveler. It certainly could not apply to the Methodist Church in Leningrad or to any institution in Russia, except the Communist International. There was no “ organization or group “ resident in the Soviet Union “ having the aim of armed struggle against the U.S.A., its territories or possessions,” outside of the Communist International.
I do not say that that was the 1933 aim of the C.I., but I do assert that there was a time when the C.I. boasted that its purpose was to promote armed insurrection throughout the world. There is no organization beyond the C.I. that ever engaged in activity in the Soviet Union “ which has as its aim the overthrow of, or bringing about by force a change in, the political or social order of the whole or any part of the U.S.A., its territories or possessions.”
Notwithstanding the definite nature of this agreement, The Daily Worker (U.S.A.) made no attempt to analyze the text of these articles, but declared, in its issue for November 21st, 1933, that the Capitalist Press “ know that every attempt to claim that article 4 of the Litvinov pact applies to the C.I. will meet with defeat.”
It is impossible to believe that the “ Communist “ editor believed this statement when he wrote it.
The pact not only pledged Russia to the expulsion of the Comintern but to its suppression. This seat of the C.I. could not be transferred to Berlin, or Tokio, or Washington, or Paris, or even London. Either it met in Moscow or Leningrad or not at all. This was a previous argument for the Communist International being organized from Russia. The American pact refuted the fact that both the argument and the organization were surrendered to the pressure of Capitalist diplomacy.
The pact was more than the suppression of the Communist International. It was a complete surrender of the principle of the right of asylum which used to be maintained even by bourgeois governments and defended eloquently by even Conservative British statesmen. Lord Palmerston would have seen the government of any other country sink into hell before he would have agreed to such an agreement negating the fundamental principles of national sovereignty and integrity.
If Russia was no longer an international fatherland it should have taken its stand still on its right of sovereign dominion within the confines of its own territory. The pact meant that from the date of signing the American Communist Party and its representatives on the E.C. of the Comintern were non-grata with the Soviet Government and could not take up residence on Soviet territory. The pact meant further that even a group of revolutionary nationalists, driven from their land by American Imperialism, as the Russian revolutionists were driven from Russia by Czardom, could not find asylum in the fatherland of the workers of the world, since they would have designs “ upon the territorial integrity of the United States, its territories or possessions.” The pact meant that if Bill Haywood could have come to life and again had sought the hospitality of the Soviet Union, it would be granted to him only with reluctance if at all, and then only on condition that he refrained from conducting any political agitation or activity whilst resident in the Soviet Union.
The pact meant that the American Communist Party was left in the lurch by the Stalinist regime at the demands of the American bourgeoisie. Had such a pact been signed by a reactionary British Government during Karl Marx’s years of exile in London, there would have been no First International, and Marx’s real or alleged revolutionary genius would have found it impossible to discover an avenue of expression.
This pact, which was but a prelude to the Soviet Union entering into the League, and to the world-wide recognition of the Soviet as a respectable neighbor, was a complete negation of all previous Soviet diplomacy. The American Daily Worker pretended that the demands made by the American Government and yielded to by Stalinist diplomacy, had been made many times in the past by various bourgeois governments. That is true. The Worker added : —
“ Every single one of these articles, in some form or another has been part of the numerous recognition pacts that the Soviet Government has signed during the last ten years with the leading powers of Europe.”
This statement is not true. Prior to the American pact the Soviet Government pledged itself not to carry on any “ subversive propaganda “ in the country with which it established diplomatic relations, if a reciprocal engagement was also undertaken. This was understandable and correct. But it was always the argument of the Soviet Government that the Communist International was founded as a voluntary, independent world party of Communism, with sections in every country to which the Russian Government granted hospitality and freedom of action. In point of fact this statement was not correct, for the Soviet Union has always dominated the Communist International. In point of law the contention was correct for although the Comintern was dominated by the Soviet Government, it did not follow that it was an organization of the Soviet Government or that it was bound always to be dominated by it. The Comintern had a distinct legal existence apart from the Soviet Government. The fact that the Comintern was unduly subservient to the needs of that government had no bearing on the question of its legal independence. Down to the time of the American agreement, the Soviet Union was not willing to sign articles, trading away the life of the Comintern for diplomatic recognition and credit. Previously the Soviet Government had rejected categorically the demands of the world’s bourgeoisie for the expulsion and suppression of the Third International.
In 1922 there was a famous conference at Genoa. A Russian delegation was present for the first time. It was headed by that world-famous revolutionist, Rakovsky, one of the greatest and noblest Socialists of our time. As a condition of Russia’s admission to the Comity of Nations, the bourgeoisie of Europe put forward the very demands that Roosevelt so successfully insisted on eleven years later. The reply of the Russian delegation was given by Rakovsky on May 11th, 1922. This is what Rakovsky said in his signed answer to the gentlemen of the bourgeoisie : —
“ Giving new scope to this Cannes condition, the memorandum demands that Russia should ‘suppress upon her territory all attempts to aid revolutionary movements in other countries.’ If, however, by this formula the memorandum means to forbid the activities of political parties, or organizations of workers, the Russian delegation cannot accept such a prohibition unless the activities in question transgress the laws of the country.”
In other words, Rakovsky said : “ Gentlemen, the Soviet Union is ready to make certain concessions, but please keep your hands off the Communist International.” And the Soviet Union sent Rakovsky into exile, a prisoner for his convictions, and Litvinov on a tour of the Capitalist capitals of the world !
Three years later, Zinoviev, at that time leader of the Third International, addressed the Party faction of the Third Congress of the Soviet. His speech was published under the title, “ Russia’s Path to Communism.” The date of the speech was May 20th, 1925. From page 22 of the report in question we quote the following declaration of Zinoviev : —
“ We have heard a statement to the effect that the British government is endeavoring to create a united front against the U.S.S.R. in connection with the demand for the expulsion of the Comintern from Moscow. The E.C. of the Communist International, as we know, is not averse to a change of headquarters under certain conditions. Indeed, what is the good of sitting all the time in Moscow? To judge by the frame of mind of the E.C. of the C.I., it apparently would not be averse to setting up its tent in London. But I think that in any case such a decision should be taken by the Comintern independently of the bare-faced demands of the capitalist governments. WHEN THEY PUT FORWARD THAT DEMAND DURING THE FAMINE PERIOD THEY RECEIVED FROM THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT THE REPLY THEY DESERVED. NOW THAT AFFAIRS WITH THE SOVIET GOVERNMENT ARE MORE FAVORABLE, THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT AS TO THE REPLY TO THEIR INSOLENT DEMAND THEY WOULD RECEIVE FROM THE U.S.S.R. IF THEY DECIDED TO ADVANCE SUCH.”
It is said by the Stalinists that the American recognition of the Soviet Union was forced by the strengthened position of the Workers’ Republic. It was not unfair, therefore, to argue that the Soviet Union was in a better position to dictate terms of recognition in 1933 than it was when Zinoviev spoke in 1925, and Rakovsky in 1922. How came it, then, that Litvinov, as Stalin’s mouthpiece, made the enormous and altogether unwarranted concession that neither Zinoviev nor Rakovsky were prepared to make, a concession that not a single Communist imagined to be possible in those days of famine when Russia’s revolutionary back was to the wall.
There is another highly reprehensible circumstance connected with Litvinov’s reception by the American Government, which takes us back to the magnificent days of 1918. When Litvinov stepped on to American soil, he expressed a “ keen sense of the privilege that is mine in being the first official representative to bring greetings to the American people from the peoples of the Soviet Union.” I am not sure to whom Litvinov was referring when he said “ the American people.” Was it to the striking American workers, or was it to the people, when the District Attorney goes into Court and says :” The People of the United States versus William Haywood,” or “ the People of the United States versus Eugene Debs,” or “ the People of the United States versus Albert Parsons,” or “ the People of the United States versus Ludwig Martens “ ? I would like to know exactly what people Litvinov had in mind. In any case, Litvinov’s statement was false. The American Press and the American ruling class knew that it was false. Litvinov was not the first official Soviet representative appointed to the United States. He had a predecessor. His predecessor was Ludwig Martens. And this is how the “ People of the United States “ treated him.
The year 1918 was a great year for Socialism and the Soviet. In Scotland the Scottish Labor College was active, and John MacLean was organizing revolutionary meetings all over the city of Glasgow. In January of that year he was appointed Russian Consul for Scotland, and Scotland Yard immediately got busy interfering with his letters and raiding his Consulate. This was his reward for his activities in 1917 when he took up the case of George Chicherin, subsequently Litvinov’s predecessor as Foreign Minister of the Soviet Republic, but then a Russian exile in London, who had been interned without trial in Brixton Prison. Moved by MacLean’s agitation, the late Lord Sheffield took up Chicherin’s and other similar cases in the House of Lords, and made speeches that must have echoed through its walls like Byron’s of a century before. What happened to Soviet representatives in those days is told in the following extract from Lansbury’s weekly Herald for April 13th, 1918 : —
BOLSHEVIK IN PRISON.
Comrade Louis Shammes, secretary to the Bolshevik Consulate in Glasgow, is housed in Barlinnie Prison, pending his removal to Russia at the order of the Home Secretary, who has also decreed the permanent exclusion of Shammes from this country. Shammes writes us that he is in good cheer and preparing for the return home.
The Labor Leader for the same date carried the following advertisement : —
LIVERPOOL I.L.P. FEDERATION.
All members please note.-Sunday, April 28, at 7.30, in St. Martin’s Hall.
JOHN McLEAN, M.A. (Russian Consul for Glasgow). See next week’s advertisement.
Alas! MacLean never fulfilled that engagement for he was arrested on Monday, April 15th.
It was the same in the United States. In April, 1918, whilst MacLean was in jail awaiting trial, Ludwig Martens was appointed by the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs the Soviet representative to the United States. Martens was not received by the President. He enjoyed none of the official pomp that attended Litvinov’s arrival. He was greeted by a mass meeting of the revolutionary workers in New York. He was hunted and persecuted ; his office was raided ; he was hauled before investigation committees ; finally he was deported from America as an undesirable alien. He did one thing that Litvinov did, but he did it differently. He answered the question — What is the Soviet Government going to do about the C.I. and propaganda in the U.S.A.? Martens wrote his reply in the New York Socialist Call of May Day, 1919. He wrote : —
“ The attitude of the workers of the world towards the Russian Workers’ revolution has proved that the spirit of intarnational solidarity of workers is not dead... IT IS ALSO PROVED THAT THE INTERNATIONAL IS NOT DEAD. IN THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL IT RISES IN NEW GLORY
LONG LIVE THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL! ”
He was called before the sub-committee of the United States Senate on Soviet propaganda, and his bold answer is on record in the columns of Soviet Russia, for February 14th, 1920. Part of his reply was as follows : —
“ The government of U.S.A, has also been a party to attacks against the Russian Soviet Government, including invasion of Russian soil without a declaration of war.... Being confident that the peoples of other nations were not responsible for these policies, and that they permitted these activities only because they were not acquainted with the real situation, the workers of Russia appealed to the peoples in various countries, urging them to put an end to these attacks. Appeals of this nature have been defensive measures in the war imposed on Soviet Russia by outside forces.... Propaganda has been carried on by the Soviet government among the armies of the foreign governments which invaded Russia. “ — (” Soviet Russia,” 14/2/20.)
In consequence of this answer, the United States Secretary of Labor issued on December 15, 1920, an order which concluded as follows : —
“ It is therefore decided that Ludwig Martens is an alien, a citizen of Russia, and that he entertains a belief in and is a member of or affiliated with an organization (i.e., the Third International-M.S.) that entertains a belief in, teaches or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States, and the Commissioner General of Immigration is directed to take the said Ludwig Martens into custody and deport him to Russia at the expense of the Government of the United States. ”
Which reminds us of the reply of the Soviet Union Congress, held at Moscow in 1918 to President
Wilson : —
“ The Soviet Republic takes advantage of the message of President Wilson to express to all the peoples who have suffered from the horrors of an imperialist war, its warm sympathies and its honest belief that the happy moment is not far away when the workers of all countries will throw off the yoke of capitalism and establish a socialist regime, which alone is able to bring about a just and lasting peace and contribute to civilization and prosperity of the workers. ”
That reply establishes the position of Lenin. That reply endorses the attitude of Martens. From Martens to Litvinov. From the hounded and deported Bolshevik to the loudly praised diplomat. From the epoch of revolutionary internationalism to the epoch of national Socialism, of capitulation and of surrender of the world revolution. Such had been the progress of Soviet diplomacy. The passage from one epoch to another represented the price paid for Capitalist American recognition and for a seat in the League of Governments at Geneva. It was inevitable that, in due course, the Soviet Republic would be dragged into the war disasters of Capitalist society.