Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Friends of the Russian Government (1933)

Editorial from the August 1933 issue of the Socialist Standard

Some recent activities of the Russian Government which received little notice in the Press are of sufficient importance to be placed on record. They should be studied by those who believe that the friction between the Russian Government and some other governments is different in kind from the trade quarrels which are always taking place between national groups of capitalists and the governments they control. Socialists have long pointed out how the need to find markets abroad and to borrow money from foreign capitalists to pay for imports of raw materials and machinery, etc., overrides other considerations in the relationships between capitalist states, so that religion, patriotism and humanity all have to take second place when trade and profits are at stake. It does not surprise us, but it may come as a shock to Communists, that the requirements of expanding capitalist industry in Russia should have induced the Russian Government to adopt the same callous attitude as the rest of the powers.

We refer to agreements just made or renewed between Russia, on the one hand, and the three open dictatorships on the other—Italy, Poland and Germany. The following description of these agreements is taken from an official Russian publication, the Moscow Narodny Bank “Monthly Review ” (May, 1933).
First, Italy: —
   The Soviet-Italian Agreement signed on May 6th by Signor Mussolini . . . and M. Levenson, the Commercial Representative of the U.S.S.R. in Italy, though not the first to be concluded between the two countries, is of special importance at the present time.
    This Agreement has been welcomed in both countries as demonstrating the continued economic collaboration between the U.S.S.R. and Italy. . . .
    The Soviet-Italian Agreement is a new proof of the desire of the U.S.S.R. to maintain normal relations with the rest of the world and that some countries appreciate the need of such relations and are determined to utilise them for the good of both, countries.
Then Germany: —
   On May 5th the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R., M. Litvinov, and the German Ambassador in Moscow, M. von Dirksen, exchanged Notes on the ratification of the Agreement concluded in Moscow on June 24th, 1931, which has now become operative. At the same time an exchange of Protocols took place for the continuation of the Berlin Treaty concerning neutrality and non-aggression of April 24th, 1926, and of the Convention concerning the Procedure of Conciliation of January 25th, 1929.
   The Protocol states that the two Governments, by prolonging the Treaty, intend to continue the existing friendly relations between the Soviet Union and Germany, and to further collaboration which is in the interests of both countries and contributes towards assuring the peace of the world.—(Italics ours.)
The Treaty of 1926:—
    Lays down the principle that the contracting parties are not only to observe neutrality if one of them is attacked by a third Power, but they undertake not to participate in any economic or financial boycott against the other party.
This last provision, incidentally, prevents Russia from-supporting the boycott of German goods, which the trade unions in various countries are organising as a protest against the Hitler Government's brutal treatment of Communists and others.

Mr. Fenner Brockway, who supported the move by the I.L.P. to form a United Front with the Communists, writes (New Leader, June 16th) that the Communist International, because of this agreement with Hitler, "has opposed an international working class economic boycott of Germany."

Lastly, there is Poland, where Pilsudski is dictator, often referred to by Communists as the "butcher” : —
    On May 2nd a delegation of six representatives of the Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the U.S.S.R. arrived in Warsaw at the special invitation of the Polish Government and was accorded a very warm reception. . . .
     A satisfactory improvement has taken place in the past few months in the economic and political relations between the Soviet Union and Poland.
     The Non-Aggression Pact recently signed between the two countries is a very important symptom of this change, which is also reflected in the transactions between the two Governments. The recent visit of the Soviet Minister in Warsaw to Marshal Pilsudski, who very rarely receives foreign diplomats, is another indication of the welcome change that has taken place. The Governments seem determined to utilise the existing friendly relations to the best advantage of both countries.—(Italics ours.)’
So we have here a pretty picture of the Russian Government making agreements and seeking to cultivate “normal" and “friendly” relationships with Italy, Poland and Germany, while the Governments of Mussolini, Pilsudski and Hitler, carry on their normal brutal repression of all opposition, including Socialists and Communists. Are the Communists in the prisons and concentration camps of these countries expected to rejoice when they read that Russian envoys received “a very warm welcome," and that Pilsudski has graciously condescended to receive the Soviet Ambassador, and that Russia undertakes “not to participate in any economic or financial boycott ” of Hitler’s Germany?

This is in striking contrast with the generous declaration made by the Bolsheviks when first they seized power that they regarded Socialists all over the world as being under their special protection.

It is also an ironical commentary on the depths to which Socialism has been dragged by the well-meaning people who advocate the seizure of power before a majority is prepared to accept and work for Socialism, that the four principal dictatorships have as their figureheads men who have claimed to be Socialists and have learned how to be successful demagogues in the ranks of so-called Socialist parties—Hitler in Germany, who brazenly proclaims that his advent to power means the early triumph of Socialism; Pilsudski, who led the so-called Socialist Party of Poland into the bog of Polish nationalism; Mussolini, who did the same in Italy; and lastly, Stalin, who rose to eminence on the backs of the men who led the seizure of power in Russia in 1917, and who now cultivates friendly relations with his three fellow dictators.

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