Part II



4. What It Means to Unconditionally Support the Oppressed Nation





Marx and Engels supported the right of self-determination of the Poles and the Irish who were oppressed European nations.


Before the late 1860s Marx thought that the English working class living in industrial society will liberate Ireland. But by the late 1860s, Marx recognized the racism and chauvinism among the English workers themselves against Irish people. He reached the conclusion that it is necessary to support self-determination and independence for the Irish nation as the best means for the Irish workers to fight capitalism. He urged the English workers to stand up for Irish independence.


Marx wrote: “All English industrial and commercial centres now possess a working class split into two hostile camps: English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker because he sees in him a competitor who lowers his standard of life. Compared to the Irish worker he feels himself a member of the ruling nation and for this very reason makes himself into a tool of the aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland and thus strengthens their domination over himself... it is in the direct and absolute interests of the English working class to get rid of their present connection with Ireland. I long believed it was possible to overthrow the Irish regime by way of the English working class ascendancy. A deeper study has now convinced me of the opposite. The English working class will never achieve anything before it has got rid of Ireland.” [20]


A very similar position Marx and Engels held about Poland very early in their political development. In a speech in London in November 1847 Engels said:


We Germans have a particular interest in the liberation of Poland. German princes have profited from the partition of Poland and German soldiers are still exercising oppression in Galicia and Posen [parts of Poland]. It must be the concern of us Germans, above all, of us German democrats, to remove this stain from our nation. A nation cannot be free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations. Thus Germany cannot be liberated without the liberation of Poland from oppression by Germans. And for this reason Poland and Germany have a common interest, for this reason Polish and German democrats can work together for the liberation of both nations.” [21]


It will be a mistake to assume that the leadership of the oppressed Polish and the Irish was a revolutionary or progressive and that Marx and Engels supported the Irish and the Poles because of it. As a matter of fact the leadership of both oppressed nations was reactionary.


On this issue Trotsky wrote:


We do not and never have put all wars on the same plane. Marx and Engels supported the revolutionary struggle of the Irish against Great Britain, of the Poles against the tsar, even though in these two nationalist wars the leaders were, for the most part, members of the bourgeoisie and even at times of the feudal aristocracy... at all events, Catholic reactionaries”. [22]


This is a very important question because reformist and most centrists do not support the struggle of the oppressed when they have a reactionary leadership and by this they expose their own class character as social-imperialists.










5. The Position of the Second International as Social-Imperialist and the National Question




The Second International, that was formed in 1889 as a Socialist International, was an organization of socialist workers parties with different positions on all questions concerning the working class and the oppressed. Unlike the First international that was a small world party, the Second International was a federative mass organization. Was it a revolutionary organization we would have lived in a socialist society long ago. As it turned out, it became an obstacle for the socialist transformation of the rotting capitalism over 100 years ago.


In 1907 in the Stuttgart International Congress the delegates debated the colonial question. Karl Kautsky wrote a report on this congress. The majority draft resolution stated:


The Congress confirms that the general usefulness or necessity of the colonies – particularly for the working class – is highly exaggerated. However, congress does not in principle reject all colonial policy for all time, as it could have a civilizing effect under a socialist regime.”


After various deliberations this sentence was changed to:


Taking into consideration that socialism will develop the productive forces of the whole world and will raise all peoples to the highest cultural level, congress does not reject all colonial policy on principle because it could have a civilizing effect under socialism.”


Van Kol, reporting from the Commission, explained their position:


The minority resolution denies the possibility of developing the productive forces of the colonies by capitalist colonial policy. I am quite unable to understand how a thinking man can hold this position. One has only to briefly consider the colonization of the United States of America. Without colonization the natives would still be living in the most needy cultural circumstances today. Is Ledebour going to withdraw from the present social order indispensable raw materials which are provided by the colonies? Is he going to sacrifice only for the present the immeasurable riches of the colonies? Do those German, French and Polish delegates who have subscribed to the minority resolution wish to undertake the responsibility for simply abolishing the present colonial system? Colonies have existed as long as mankind and I believe they will continue to exist for a long time to come. There will indeed not be many socialists who consider colonies to be unnecessary to the future social order. But we need not discuss this question today. I only ask Ledebour whether he has the courage to give up the colonies now under a capitalist regime. Perhaps he will also then tell us what he will do with the surplus population of Europe: in what countries those having to emigrate should seek their cities, if not in the colonies? What will Ledebour do with the growing produce of European industry, if he will not create new sales territories in the colonies? And will he as a Social Democrat reject the duty of continually working to further civilise and develop underdeveloped peoples?” [23]


Bernstein followed in van Kol’s report stated:


We may not occupy a purely negative standpoint on colonial policy, but must pursue a positive socialist colonial policy. (Applause), We must get away from the utopian idea which Leads to disposing of the colonies. The final, consequence of this approach would be to return the United States to the Indians. (Protests) The colonies are here to stay: we have to come to terms with that. Civilised peoples have to exercise a certain guardianship over uncivilised peoples – even socialists have to recognise this. Let us base ourselves on real facts, which will lead us to oppose capitalist colonial policy with a socialist one. Much of our economic life rests upon products from the colonies which the natives were not able to utilise. On all these grounds we must accept the resolution of the majority.”


Lenin who participated in the congress reported on this racist resolution:


This is not the first time the colonial question has figured at international congresses. Up till now their decisions have always been an unqualified condemnation of bourgeois colonial policy as a policy of plunder and violence. This time, however, the Congress Commission was so composed that opportunist elements, headed by Van Kol of Holland, predominated in it. A sentence was inserted in the draft resolution to the effect that the Congress did not in principle condemn all colonial policy, for under socialism colonial policy could play a civilising role. The minority in the Commission (Ledebour of Germany, the Polish and Russian Social-Democrats, and many others) vigorously protested against any such idea being entertained. The matter was referred to Congress, where the forces of the two trends were found to be so nearly equal that there was an extremely heated debate.


The opportunists rallied behind Van Kol. Speaking for the majority of the German delegation Bernstein and David urged acceptance of a “socialist colonial policy” and fulminated against the radicals for their barren, negative attitude, their failure to appreciate the importance of reforms, their lack of a practical colonial programme, etc. Incidentally, they were opposed by Kautsky, who felt compelled to ask the Congress to pronounce against the majority of the German delegation. He rightly pointed out that there was no question of rejecting the struggle for reforms; that was explicitly stated in other sections of the resolution, which had evoked no dispute. The point at issue was whether we should make concessions to the modern regime of bourgeois plunder and violence. The Congress was to discuss present-day colonial policy, which was based on the downright enslavement of primitive populations. The bourgeoisie was actually introducing slavery in the colonies and subjecting the native populations to unprecedented outrages and acts of violence, “civilising” them by the spread of liquor and syphilis. And in that situation socialists were expected to utter evasive phrases about the possibility of accepting colonial policy in principle! That would be an outright desertion to the bourgeois point of view. It would be a decisive step towards subordinating the proletariat to bourgeois ideology, to bourgeois imperialism, which is now arrogantly raising its head.”


Based on these reports it is not surprising that in 1914 the majority of the Social Democrats betrayed the working class by supporting the imperialist war. Each party stood behind its own imperialism.










6. Lenin’s Evolution of Thinking on the National Question



Lenin’s ideas on the national question like on other questions such as the class character of the Russian revolution have evolved. His positions on the national question can be classified as belonging to three different periods: A) until the First World War, when he examined the national question in relation to the development of capitalism and the struggle for democracy in Russia; A period he was influenced by Karl Kautsky 2) the period of the war when the social democracy including Kautsky betrayed the working class and the immediate period of the proletarian revolution in Russia; 3) the period after the revolution when Lenin supported the concept of a voluntary federation that will include not only states bur regional autonomies for the small nations.




The First Period


During the first period Lenin criticized Rosa Luxemburg for her refusal to defend the self-determination of the oppressed Polish nation. She wrote that Marx and Engels position in support of self-determination of Poland is outmoded:


The founders and theoretical leaders of the Proletariat Party were by no means unfamiliar with Marx’s and Engels’ opinions on the Polish question, yet they were not in the least confused by them; on the contrary, they regarded them merely as the outworn vestige of old views that had been based on an ignorance of the social content of the nationalist movements within Poland and of the social changes that had taken place within the country since the last insurrection.” [24]


She added: “But this, as we said, by no means implies that the proletariat is capable of taking upon itself the historical task of the schlachta, (Aristocracy) as the anachronistic minds of petit bourgeois nationalism would have it; this task, to restore Poland to its existence as a class state, is an objective which the schlachta itself abandoned, and the bourgeoisie has rendered impossible through its own development. But our proletariat can and must fight for the defense of national identity as a cultural legacy, that has its own right to exist and flourish. And today our national identity cannot be defended by national separatism; it can only be secured through the struggle to overthrow despotism and solidly implant the advantages of culture and bourgeois life throughout the entire country, as has long since been done in Western Europe.”


Lenin, that at the time was influenced by Kautsky accepted the right of nations to establish a nation state with its own territory and that a federative state represents backwardness and is an obstacle to fully developed capitalism, replied to Rosa Luxemburg:


Therefore, Rosa Luxemburg notwithstanding, the example of the whole of progressive and civilised mankind, the example of the Balkans and that of Asia prove that Kautsky’s proposition is absolutely correct: the national state is the rule and the “norm” of capitalism; the multi-national state represents backwardness, or is an exception. From the standpoint of national relations, the best conditions for the development of capitalism are undoubtedly provided by the national state. This does not mean, of course, that such a state, which is based on bourgeois relations, can eliminate the exploitation and oppression of nations. It only means that Marxists cannot lose sight of the powerful economic factors that give rise to the urge to create national states. It means that “self-determination of nations” in the Marxists’ Programme cannot, from a historico-economic point of view, have any other meaning than political self-determination, state independence, and the formation of a national state.” [25]


He also wrote: ‘There is no doubt that the greater part of Asia, the most densely populated continent, consists either of colonies of the “Great Powers”, or of states that are extremely dependent and oppressed as nations. But does this commonly-known circumstance in any way shake the undoubted fact that in Asia itself the conditions for the most complete development of commodity production and the freest, widest and speediest growth of capitalism have been created only in Japan, i.e., only in an independent national state? The latter is a bourgeois state, and for that reason has itself begun to oppress other nations and to enslave colonies. We cannot say whether Asia will have had time to develop into a system of independent national states, like Europe, before the collapse of capitalism, but it remains an undisputed fact that capitalism, having awakened Asia, has called forth national movements everywhere in that continent, too; that the tendency of these movements is towards the creation of national states in Asia; that it is such states that ensure, the best conditions for the development of capitalism.” [26]


Lenin did not change his position on the right of self-determination for the oppressed nations and their right to national territory if they wish so. In this he was absolutely correct. However, at the same time as we pointed out, Lenin advocated the idea that multinational large-scale centralized states are progressive development. He considered that such states were more suitable for the workers’ movement and lead to the fusion of nations, which Lenin saw as a socialist ideal. For this reason in 1913 he opposed the idea of a federation and he wrote:


The right to self-determination does not imply only the right to secede. It also implies the right to federal association, the right to autonomy,” you write. I disagree entirely. It does not imply the right to federation. Federation means the association of equals, an association that demands common agreement. How can one side have a right to demand that the other side should agree with it? That is absurd. We are opposed to federation in principle, it loosens economic ties, and is unsuitable for a single state. You want to secede? All right, go to the devil, if you can break economic bonds, or rather, if the oppression and friction of “coexistence” disrupt and ruin economic bonds. You don’t want to secede? In that case, excuse me, but don’t decide for me; don’t think that you have a “right” to federation’. [27]


Lenin wrote: “Marxists are, of course, opposed to federation and decentralisation, for the simple reason that capitalism requires for its development the largest and most centralised possible states. Other conditions being equal, the class-conscious proletariat will always stand for the larger state. It will always fight against medieval particularism, and will always welcome the closest possible economic amalgamation of large territories in which the proletariat’s struggle against the bourgeoisie can develop on a broad basis.” [28]


In 1913 Lenin was for an assimilation of nations. He wrote: “The question of assimilation, i. e., of the shedding of national features, and absorption by another nation, strikingly illustrates the consequences of the nationalist vacillations of the Bundists and their fellow-thinkers”. […] “whoever does not recognise and champion the equality of nations and languages, and does not fight against all national oppression or inequality, is not a Marxist; he is not even a democrat. That is beyond doubt. But it is also beyond doubt that the pseudo-Marxist who heaps abuse upon a Marxist of another nation for being an "assimilator" is simply a nationalist philistine. In this unhandsome category of people are all the Bundists and (as we shall shortly see) Ukrainian nationalist-socialists such as L. Yurkevich, Dontsov and Co”.


As we shall see later on, Lenin changed his position on the federal state, but for now we shall deal with Lenin’s concept on the national question in chronological order.




Lenin’s Second Stage of Development on the National Question


Following the betrayal of the working class by the Second International in 1914 Lenin wrote: “The betrayal of socialism by most leaders of the Second International (1889-1914) signifies the ideological and political bankruptcy of the International. This collapse has been mainly caused by the actual prevalence in it of petty-bourgeois opportunism, the bourgeois nature and the danger of which have long been indicated by the finest representatives of the revolutionary proletariat of all countries. The opportunists had long been preparing to wreck the Second International by denying the socialist revolution and substituting bourgeois reformism in its stead, by rejecting the class struggle with its inevitable conversion at certain moments into civil war, and by preaching class collaboration; by preaching bourgeois chauvinism under the guise of patriotism and the defence of the fatherland, and ignoring or rejecting the fundamental truth of socialism, long ago set forth in the Communist Manifesto, that the workingmen have no country; by confining themselves, in the struggle against militarism, to a sentimental philistine point of view, instead of recognising the need for a revolutionary war by the proletarians of all countries, against the bourgeoisie of all countries; by making a fetish of the necessary utilisation of bourgeois parliamentarianism and bourgeois legality, and forgetting that illegal forms of organisation and agitation are imperative at times of crises. One of the organs of international opportunism, Sozialistische Monatshefte, which has long taken a national liberal stand, is very properly celebrating its victory over European socialism. The so-called Centre of the German and other Social-Democratic parties has in actual fact faint heartedly capitulated to the opportunists. It must be the task of the future International resolutely and irrevocably to rid itself of this bourgeois trend in socialism.[…] It is the first and foremost task of Russian Social-Democrats to wage a ruthless and all-out struggle against Great-Russian and tsarist-monarchist chauvinism, and against the sophisms used by the Russian liberals, Cadets, a section of the Narodniks, and other bourgeois parties, in defence of that chauvinism. From the viewpoint of the working class and the toiling masses of all the peoples of Russia, the defeat of the tsarist monarchy and its army, which oppress Poland, the Ukraine, and many other peoples of Russia, and foment hatred among the peoples so as to increase Great-Russian oppression of the other nationalities, and consolidate the reactionary and barbarous government of the tsar’s monarchy, would be the lesser evil by far.[…] The following must now be the slogans of Social-Democracy:


First, all-embracing propaganda, involving the army and the theatre of hostilities as well, for the socialist revolution and the need to use weapons, not against their brothers, the wage slaves in other countries, but against the reactionary and bourgeois governments and parties of all countries; the urgent necessity of organising illegal nuclei and groups in the armies of all nations, to conduct such propaganda. in all languages; a merciless struggle against the chauvinism and “patriotism” of the philistines and bourgeoisie of all countries without exception. In the struggle against the leaders of the present International, who have betrayed socialism, it is imperative to appeal to the revolutionary consciousness of the working masses, who bear the entire burden of the war and are in most cases hostile to opportunism and chauvinism.


Secondly, as an immediate slogan, propaganda for republics in Germany, Poland, Russia, and other countries, and for the transforming of all the separate states of Europe into a republican United States of Europe.” [29]


In 1915 Lenin clarified his position of the Republican United states of Europe: “But while the slogan of a republican United States of Europe—if accompanied by the revolutionary overthrow of the three most reactionary monarchies in Europe, headed by the Russian—is quite invulnerable as a political slogan, there still remains the highly important question of its economic content and significance. From the standpoint of the economic conditions of imperialism—i.e., the export of capital and the division of the world by the “advanced” and “civilised” colonial powers—a United States of Europe, under capitalism, is either impossible or reactionary” […].A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism—about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others.” [30]


This does not mean that Lenin thought in 1914 or even after the revolution that the form of the state after the revolution in Russia will be of a federation. The Bolsheviks learned this necessity as a result of their experience.




The Third Stage of Lenin’s Position on the National Question


Shortly after the Bolshevik revolution the new workers state faced the invasion of the imperialists. This invasion forced the Bolsheviks to realize the need to guarantee the small nations national autonomy. The first one was Bashkiria. In early July 1918, White Czechs and White Guards seized Cheliabinsk, Ufa, and Orenburg. In late 1918 the Red Army began its offensive in Bashkiria against the White Guard forces of A. V. Kolchak. Mounting dissatisfaction among the soldiers of the Bashkir White Army and the entire Bashkir population with the rule of Kolchak caused the Bashkir nationalist government to switch over to the side of the Soviet government.


It turned to the government of the RSFSR with a request for assistance and an alliance. The agreement of the Bolsheviks with the Bashkir Government on the Soviet Autonomy of Bashkiria (made public on March 23) was signed on Mar. 20, 1919. Bashkiria was the first autonomous soviet republic to become a member of the RSFSR. Fifteen nationalities were given the highest standing of Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs), according to four criteria: a set territory, national language, culture, and economy. Within these fifteen republics were twenty Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs), eight Autonomous Regions (oblasti), and ten Autonomous Areas (okruga).


One man who influenced the formation of the USSR was the Tatar Sultan-Galiev. In May 1917, Sultan-Galiev participated in the All-Russian Muslim Conference in Moscow and was elected to the All-Russia Muslim Council. In July that year he went to Kazan, where he met Mullanur Waxitov [31], with whom he helped set up the Muslim Socialist Committee, with a program close to that of the Bolsheviks. In November 1917 he joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Following the establishment of Narkomnats in June 1917, Sultan-Galiev was asked to become head of the Muslim section. In December 1917, in response to some Tatars' accusations that he was betraying his own people to the Bolsheviks, Sultan-Galiev wrote a revealing explanation for his decision to join the Bolsheviks:


I now move to my cooperation with the Bolsheviks. I will say the following: I associate with them not from sycophancy. The love for my people, which lies inherently inside me, draws me to them. I go to them not with a goal to betray our nation, not in order to drink its blood. No! No! I go there because with my whole spirit I believe in the rightness of the Bolsheviks’ cause. I know this; it is my conviction. Thus, nothing will remove it from my soul. I realize that only some of the bolsheviks were able to implement what was promised at the beginning of the revolution. [But] only they stopped the war. Only they are striving to pass the nationalities’ fates into their own hands. Only they revealed who started the world war. What does not lead me to them? They also declared war on English imperialism, which oppresses India, Egypt, Afghanistan, Persia and Arabia. They are also the ones who raised arms against French imperialism, which enslaves Morocco, Algiers, and other Arab states of Africa. How could I not go to them? You see, they proclaimed the words, which have never been voiced since creation of the world in the history of the Russian state. Appealing to all Muslims of Russia and the East, they announced that Istanbul must be in Muslims’ hands. They did this while English troops, seizing Jerusalem, appealed to Jews with the words: ‘Gather together quickly in Palestine, we will create for you a European state. “


During the Civil War, Sultan-Galiev was active in organizing the defense of Kazan against the Whites in August 1918 and liquidating opposition after they had been driven out. He was also instrumental in ensuring that the Bashkir people, led by Zeki Velidi Togan, joined the Bolshevik side which weakened the military potential of Kolchak's army.


He wanted to give Marxism an Islamic form. He argued that Tsarist Russians had oppressed Muslim society apart from a few big landowners and bourgeois. He was, despite this attempt at synthesis, thought of by the growing bureaucracy as being excessively tolerant of nationalism and religion and, in 1923, he was accused of nationalist, pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic deviations and he was arrested and expelled from the party.


He was freed, but with Lenin's death in 1924, he lost his only protector. In 1928, he was arrested a second time and sentenced to be shot in July 1930. However, in January 1931 his sentence was commuted to ten years of hard labour for nationalism and anti-Soviet activity. In 1934 he was released and given permission to live in the Saratov Oblast. At the beginning of 1937 he was again arrested, and was forced to make a confession; he was convicted of being the "organizer and factual leader of an anti-Soviet nationalistic group," who led an "active struggle against soviet power" and the party "on the basis of pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism, with the goal of tearing away from Soviet Russia Turkic-Tatar regions and establishing in them a bourgeois-democratic Turan state." In December 1939, he received the death sentence which was carried out on 28 January 1940 in Moscow. [32]


However, in December 1922 the USSR was declared as a unity of socialist republics. The Declaration of Union and Treaty of Union, December 30, 1922 states: “The will of the peoples of the Soviet Republics, expressed in the recent Congresses of their Soviets, which unanimously adopted the decision to create a Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, is a reliable guarantee that the Union is a voluntary union of equal peoples, that entry into the Union is open to all Socialist Soviet Republics, either already in existence or to be formed in the future, that the new united State is a fitting consummation to the peaceful Communism and fraternal cooperation of peoples begun in October, 1917, that it will form a firm bulwark against world capitalism, and will be a decided step towards the union of the workers of all countries into a World Socialist Soviet Republic.” [33]


Lenin and the Bolsheviks changed their position on the structure of the Soviet state and in doing so were influenced among other things also by the Ukrainian “national communists”. The Ukrainian “national communists” influenced Lenin to accept a Soviet Federation rather than centralized state. This stream existed in the Ukraine before the Bolshevik revolution. After the February Revolution of 1917, the national aspirations gained strength in the Ukraine.


In 1917 the Ukrainian Central Council (Tsentral’na Rada) was formed. The strongest party in the Council was the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Working Party (USDRP) that was formed in 1905. After the failure of the Ukrainian revolution of 1917-21 many of its former supporters cooperated with Bolsheviks as the only possible way to defend the existence of a Ukrainian national state. Almost all the leaders of Ukrainian Social Democratic Working Party became members of the Russian communist party.


Before 1922 the Bolsheviks thought that the best way was to build a strong centralized government rather than a federation. To strengthen the Soviet rule in Ukraine Lenin appointed Mykola Skrypnyk, who had been the head of Ukrainian Soviet government in 1918, as the first leader of that party.


Mykola Skrypnyk (1872-1933) was a leading figure in the Secret Police-the Cheka, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage. Skrypnyk fought ardently against Russian chauvinism implemented by Stalin after 1924. He spoke about economic exploitation of the Ukraine and the importance of Ukrainian language and culture.


But he always remained a loyal Stalinist. In 1933, he committed suicide after having been discharged and criticized by Stalin. Another party member who contributed to the definition of national communism was Sergiy Mazlakh (1878-1937). He was expelled from the party in 1937, arrested and executed under the charge of Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism.


These people argued that the independence of Ukraine did not contradict the principle of international revolution. They suggested that the pro-Russian CP(B)U should be replaced by a Ukrainian Bolshevik party that would affirm the Ukrainian language, culture and independent statehood. They joined the Communist International and argued for the right to form a separate communist party and to unite in a free federation with the RSFSR and other Soviet republics.


Founded in 1920, the Ukrainian Communist Party (Ukrains’ka Komunistychna Partia, UKP) became the most consistent proponents of Ukrainian national communism. That party united those members of the Ukrainian Communist Party of Borot’bysts who after its unification with CP(B)U remained loyal to national communist orientation. In 1920, the program of the Ukrainian Communist Party was adopted, in which some of the main ideas of Ukrainian communism were set forth. It was proclaimed that both national and social emancipation was the key question for the party. Its program stated:


* Independence of the Ukrainian socialist republic;


* Separation and independence of Ukrainian communist party representing the interests of Ukrainian working class and peasantry;


* Equal membership within the Communist International;


* Political and economic cooperation with other sovereign socialist republics;


* Free development of Ukrainian language and culture as the only possible base for a sovereign state


The Ukraine obtained the status of a separate republic in free federation with other Soviet republics. Certain visible political autonomy was given to the Ukraine, especially in the form of a right to implement internal policy upon its territory. Together with administrative reform, Bolsheviks began to introduce new national policy, called korenization (Korenizatsija).


Among the goals of that policy was the development of national economies and harmonization of the relations between the Soviet regime and local population. For those reasons the native languages were reinstated into all spheres of the state.


Eventually they convinced Lenin of the need for a federative state which became reality in 1922 at least on paper before Lenin was replaced by Stalin and his Russian chauvinism. By 1925 all parties of national communistic orientation had been prohibited, dissolved or merged with CP(B)U.


Jumping ahead with the chronology, in 1939 Trotsky defended the right of the Ukraine to separate from the Stalinist Soviet Union as part of the struggle against imperialism and the Soviet Bureaucracy, in a form of Soviet Ukraine. He wrote: "There is every reason to assume that in the event of the triumph of the world revolution the tendencies toward unity will immediately acquire enormous force, and that all Soviet republics will find the suitable forms of ties and collaboration. This goal will be achieved only provided the old compulsory ties, and in consequence old boundaries, are completely destroyed; only provided each of the contracting parties is completely independent. To speed and facilitate this process, to make possible a genuine brotherhood of the peoples in the future, the advanced workers of Great Russia must even now understand the causes for Ukrainian separatism, as well as the latent power and historical lawfulness behind it, and they must without any reservation declare to the Ukrainian people that they are ready to support with all their might the slogan of an independent Soviet Ukraine in a joint struggle against the autocratic bureaucracy and against imperialism. [34]


In the Rapallo conference in 1922 where the Bolsheviks signed the first treaty with the capitalist states, Georgy Chicherin, the Soviet Russian commissar for foreign relations, signed the document on behalf of the Russian republic, formed in July 1918. He attempted to sign on behalf of other Soviet republics, including Ukraine and Belarus, but they denied that he had such power.


According to the agreement signed between Russia and the other Soviet republics, the Russian authorities had no right to speak in the name of the Ukrainian institutions without the Ukrainian government’s approval. The same was the case with the Georgian communists, who also denounced Georgy Chicherin, insisting on their rights as members of an independent republic. This resulted in the formation of the USSR rather than Russian Socialist Federation.


In August 1922, Joseph Stalin and Sergo Ordzhonikidze, his man in the Caucasus (the region encompassing Georgia, Armenia and Azerbijan), formed a special commission that tried to force the independent republics to be incorporated into the Russian Soviet Federation with rights of autonomy. He called his plan "Autonomisation”.


The republics rebelled but Stalin refused to budge. However, Lenin, who sided with the Georgians and Ukrainians, stood against him. Lenin’s position was that the inclusion of those republics into the Russian Federation, especially against the will of their leaders, will put the Russians in the position of chauvinists who undermined the idea of the voluntary union of nations and making them little better than the Tsarist empire they had overthrown.


Lenin wrote on Stalin’s plan of forcing Georgia into the Russian Federation: “It is quite natural that in such circumstances the "freedom to secede from the union" by which we justify ourselves will be a mere scrap of paper, unable to defend the non-Russians from the onslaught of that really Russian man, the Great-Russian chauvinist, in substance a rascal and a tyrant, such as the typical Russian bureaucrat is. There is no doubt that the infinitesimal percentage of Soviet and sovietised workers will drown in that tide of chauvinistic Great-Russian riffraff like a fly in milk.” [35]