June 30, 2010

Anti-Imperialism: Nationalist and Internationalist Paths

            All too often we see many leftists oppose imperialism and social-imperialism based purely on "national" grounds. That is, based on the idea that the disappearance of a state automatically constitutes imperialism. This is the logic used when, for example, the Soviets moving into eastern Poland is labeled as imperialist. Indeed, even some leftists can use purely national reasoning in debates regarding this issue. This author is aware of a person who, during a debate on the subject of the Winter War between the USSR and Finland, took up the banner of the latter. His argument amounted to: "What right did the Soviet Union have in asking Finland to lease territory to the Soviets?" There was, of course, the issue of Leningrad being exposed to a German invasion and the overall pro-German foreign policy of Finland at that time, but he continued to claim "Finland deserved to defend itself" and "the Soviets were being imperialistic."
            This is where we run into one massive problem. You see, imperialism is about economic exploitation; it is not about national concerns. Lenin wrote that,
"[t]he various demands of democracy, including self-determination, are not an absolute, but a small part of the general democratic world movement. In individual concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole; if so, it must be rejected” (Lenin, Discussion on Self-Determination). The very reason self-determination is so relevant is that those peoples who rise up and agitate for independence are almost always the same types who are also collectively economically exploited as a group of people. When the people of Africa advocated and fought for self-determination, they fought, ultimately, for economic reasons and the battle between colonialists and anti-colonialists was waged with economic control in mind. On the mass level, of course, culture and the nation could not help but play a vital part in this struggle. The errors made by purely "national" arguments produce a worldview which is not based on historical materialism. Let us take the very founding of the Soviet Union as an example of "national" versus "international" disputes in regards to the issue of imperialism and self-determination.

            The Georgian Affair & the Definition of Imperialism

When the Russian Empire broke apart in the 1917-1918 period following the declaration of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (aka Soviet/Bolshevik Russia), self-determination was proclaimed for all oppressed nationalities within the former territories of the Russian Empire. Within the Czarist Empire, the various nationalities had suffered under a rule which was at best chauvinist in favor of Russian interests and at worst was outright colonialism within the areas of the Far-East and Turkestan. The Bolsheviks did not want to revive the Empire. They instead had in mind a union of various socialist republics grouped around the major nationalities of the former Russian Empire. With the springing up of other socialist republics such as the Ukraine, there was always the question of what form Russia itself would take within this new Union. The Russian Revolution was just that; a Russian revolution. There were plenty of Bolsheviks in other portions of the Empire, but it was very clear to Lenin, Stalin, and others that any Union would face initial Russian leadership. Such a history could only result in a paternal Russian attitude towards the more backwards Republics until they could, with Russian assistance, draw upon themselves for native government posts. In the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, native Turkmen were trained in Marxism and the administration of modern governments, and were also taught how to manage their own affairs, but within the Union itself there were nationalist elements that used the pretext of Russian chauvinism to forward their Republic's own agendas.

A good example of this was the "Georgian Affair." Georgia had been under a right-wing Menshevik Government up until 1921 when the native Bolsheviks, with Red Army assistance, were able to topple it. Let us ask a question: was this imperialist? Marxism would reply in the negative. Joseph Stalin’s book The Foundations of Leninism has this to say on the subject:

“This does not mean, of course, that the proletariat must support every national movement, everywhere and always, in every individual concrete case. It means that support must be given to such national movements as tend to weaken, to overthrow imperialism, and not to strengthen and preserve it. Cases occur when the national movements in certain oppressed countries come into conflict with the interests of the development of the proletarian movement. In such cases support is, of course, entirely out of the question. The question of the rights of nations is not an isolated, self-sufficient question; it is a part of the general problem of the proletarian revolution, subordinate to the whole, and must be considered from the point of view of the whole” (Stalin 72).

Why would the downfall of a bourgeois regime be considered an "imperialist" action? If one were nationally-oriented, then one would find much to condemn about the invasion, but internationalists would have little in the way of problems with it. Georgia had become Bolshevik; it joined the newly-formed Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic with Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1922 with the formation of the Soviet Union at that same time. The Transcaucasian experiment did not last. Nationalism inspired by economic differences and subsequent foot-dragging would cause its inglorious demise in 1936. A foreboding of this event would come in 1923 with the efforts of two Georgian nationalists, Makharadze and Mdivani, to secure a Georgia autonomous (or rather, practically exempt) from Transcaucasia. Stalin, then Commissar of Nationalities, stated the following:
            "The point is that the bonds of the Transcaucasian Federation deprive Georgia of that somewhat privileged position which she could assume by virtue of her geographical position. Judge for yourselves. [….] It is these geographical advantages that the Georgian deviators do not want to lose, and the unfavourable position of the Georgians in Tiflis itself, where there are fewer Georgians than Armenians, that are causing our deviators to oppose federation. The Mensheviks simply evicted Armenians and Tatars from Tiflis. Now, however, under the Soviet regime, eviction is impossible; therefore, they want to leave the federation, and this will create legal opportunities for independently performing certain operations which will result in the advantageous position enjoyed by the Georgians being fully utilised against Azerbaijan and Armenia. And all this would create a privileged position for the Georgians in Transcaucasia. Therein lies the whole danger. Can we ignore the interests of national peace in Transcaucasia and allow conditions to be created under which the Georgians would be in a privileged position in relation to the Armenian and Azerbaijanian Republics? No. We cannot allow that”
(Stalin, Speech to the Twelfth Congress).
            In this same speech Stalin also stated that:

            "The chief danger that arises from this is that, owing to the N.E.P., dominant-nation chauvinism is growing in our country by leaps and bounds, striving to obliterate all that is not Russian, to gather all the threads of government into the hands of Russians and to stifle everything that is not Russian. The chief danger is that with such a policy we run the risk that the Russian proletarians will lose the confidence of the formerly oppressed nations which they won in the October days, when they overthrew the landlords and the Russian capitalists, when they smashed the chains of national oppression within Russia, withdrew the troops from Persia and Mongolia, proclaimed the independence of Finland and Armenia and, in general, put the national question on an entirely new basis. Unless we all arm ourselves against this new, I repeat, Great-Russian chauvinism, which is advancing, creeping, insinuating itself drop by drop into the eyes and ears of our officials and step by step corrupting them, we may lose down to the last shreds the confidence we earned at that time. It is this danger, comrades, that we must defeat at all costs” (Stalin, Speech to the Twelfth Congress).
            The point of this, is that nothing was lost with the defeat of the deviators. A nationalist Georgia which sought to consolidate its Republic by deporting Armenians and Azerbaijanis does not seem particularly defensible from an internationalist point of view. Economic questions were not put forward. The entire debate was over nationalist reasons and as such, some misdirected figures may condemn Stalin for acting in an "imperialist" manner towards the Georgians, misunderstanding imperialism’s essential economic character as they do this.

The Case of Sultan-Galiev
            While the Georgian deviators were important to this question, a far more interesting figure was active at that same time. His name was Mirza Sultan-Galiev, a Tartar Bolshevik. Although he attacked the Soviet Union primarily from a cultural and rightist perspective, putting forward the revisionist thesis of "proletarian nations" exploited by "bourgeois" ones, he acutely predicted that the Union as it stood would be susceptible to Russian dominance regardless of the modernization of the various other nationalities and their Republics.
Sultan-Galiev put forward that Muslims were “proletarian peoples” and that bourgeois-national movements among them were actually socialist revolutions. He called for the Communist Party to integrate with Islam, for Muslims to come together in an autonomous Muslim Communist Party and for Muslim peoples to form what would essentially be a “Muslim Comintern.” As a rightist, Sultan-Galiev’s fate was unsurprising:

            "Sultan-Galiev, aware that Lenin had invited Trotsky to attack Stalin on the nationalities question at the April 23 Party Congress, approached Trotsky to form an alliance against Stalin. Trotsky was not interested... In April 1923, the center intercepted two conspiratorial letters written by Sultan-Galiev, which revealed he had Basmachi ties and indicated his willingness to exploit them to further his faction's agenda. With this evidence in hand, Stalin engineered Sultan-Galiev's arrest in May 1923 and his formal denunciation at the June 1923 TsK conference on nationalities policy” (Martin 230).

            Sultan-Galiev was arrested, tried and sentenced to imprisonment for nationalist tendencies, collaborating with Pan-Islamists against the Soviet Union and attempting to collaborate with the forces of Leon Trotsky. In examining these two cases of putting national concerns over socialism, the first case based purely on opportunist nationalism and the other on nationalism from a rightist angle, we can see that misinformed people seem to consider "national" incidents such as the "Georgian affair" based purely on borders and not class analysis.

The Baltic States & Poland
            We will now go to the years 1939-1948, wherein the charges of "Soviet imperialism" under Stalin are commonplace. It is also when a particularly "national" form of anti-imperialism emerges in defense of the sovereignty of the right-wing republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, along with the right-wing government of Finland and the overall reactionary government of Poland. A more fundamental discussion on the state itself is also in order. By 1939, the former Nationalities Commissar was now in control of the Union itself. In the previous years he had been focusing on the coming war between the USSR and Nazi Germany. In between these two states were the aforementioned Baltic States and the Poles, along with the pro-German Finland. Efforts at forming an anti-Nazi alliance between the USSR and the countries of Britain and France fell silent on the side of the latter two states, and the prospect of dealing with Nazi Germany itself was becoming increasingly inevitable.
            Grover Furr, Professor at Montclair State University, has written an excellent article on the division of Poland entitled “Did the Soviet Union Invade Poland in September 1939?” To summarize, he notes the following:

            1. The Germans wanted to invade Poland.
            2. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact established the Curzon Line as an area in which the Nazi forces would not be allowed to pass without breaking non-aggression.
            3. When the Nazis did invade, the Polish Government essentially fled in a panic and the Nazis declared that there was no one to negotiate with.
            4. Since the original protocols of the Pact involved Poland as a state, new negotiations had to be started (as they were by the end of September).
            5. Until this time the Nazis could have freely proclaimed a puppet government or protectorate in the territory of the former Polish state.

            Days after the initial Nazi invasion, the Soviets entered what was generally considered to have been the territory of the former Polish state in order to uphold the Curzon Line as a still-valid border. As Stalin said to Dimitrov, Poland as a bourgeois state had ceased to exist.

“In a letter of September 7 [1939] to Georgii Dimitrov, the head of the Communist International, Stalin wrote that 'we are not against' a war between capitalist states in which they 'would weaken each other.' Hitler, nolens volens [aka unwillingly], was on his way to destroying the capitalist system. Poland, Stalin added, was just another 'bourgeois fascist state,' and 'What would be wrong if in the destruction of Poland [as a bourgeois state] we spread the socialist system to new inhabitants in new territories?” (Senn 21).

            But where is the imperialism? More specifically, where is the economic exploitation? Where is the persecution of the Polish people? "National" anti-imperialists point to the "dividing up of Poland" as proof of Soviet imperialism in this period, but just because a state falls does not mean that because of that whatever other country caused or hastened its fall must be imperialist. If one still considers the Soviet intervention to be imperialist; if one still has a "national" fixation on anti-imperialism, this should at least be kept in mind:

            "The Red Army stopped at the Bug River, which coincided with the Curzon line, and most Jews were sent to safety beyond the Urals. Among them was a young man by the name of Menachim Begun, later to become premier of Israel, and an inveterate enemy of all things socialist. Still, in his UN speech, December 10, 1945, Albert Einstein expressly noted that only the Soviet Union opened its borders to Jews in 1939 and saved tens of thousands from the Holocaust, almost at a time when a ship seeking safety in Cuba, under Batista, was turned back to Germany. In 1938 the Poland of the Colonels refused to repatriate thousands of Polish Jews from Germany, thus dooming most to death. Choose your morality: immoral to cross the Polish border or moral to save the lives of thousands of Jews?” (Bonosky 87).
            What of the Baltic Republics? A good overview of the whole period of 1917-1991 with focus on Lithuania can be found in a previously cited book, Phillip Bonosky's Devils in Amber: The Baltics. To summarize, the three Baltics got their start rather ingloriously. Independent from the Russian Empire and its assorted inequalities, a dilemma soon developed after the native Bolsheviks of all three states were defeated in civil war; namely, how to achieve self-defense. There is indeed some strength to the argument that if a country is incapable of defending itself that its basis of separate existence (though not the separate existence of a nation, obviously) can be called into question. While the Baltic States jockeyed for protection from Britain, Germany and in Estonia's case Finland, communists remained persecuted. The NSDAP came to power in Germany in 1933, and tensions arose not only between the Baltic states and the Soviet Union, since all three states were by 1939 led by anti-communist dictators, but in the case of Lithuania, even Germany and Poland. Poland had occupied the de jure Lithuanian capital of Vilnius since 1920, and Germany had claims to Klaipeda (Memel in German) on account of the region's significant German population.
            As Germany looked towards the east, it was clear that the Baltics were now free to either enjoy German fascism or autonomous status within the Soviet Union. As the Baltic States were incapable of self-defense and were impeccably anti-communist, they chose the former. "Lithuania stands under the protection of the German Reich," said the content of a treaty drafted by the Germans after the fall of Poland, successfully topping the previous annexation of Klaipeda by Germany months before as a sign of the pseudo-independence of the Baltic States. As part of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact it was decided to allow for the Soviets to intervene in Finnish and Baltic affairs without German interference. Both the Baltic states and Finland had significant Communist movements, and the ability of the USSR to work within both areas with the agreement of German non-intervention seemingly secured sounded like a good deal. When Poland fell and the few days later the Soviets moved in, Vilnius was given back to Lithuania by the Red Army.
            The Baltic States went quickly. Unable to defend themselves, their right-wing governments proved to be wholly dependent on outside support when it came to dealing with the Soviets. To use Lithuania as an example, the Soviets forced the pro-German government to sign a mutual defense treaty. Knowing that despite this the government was obviously still pro-German, Commissar of Foreign Affairs Molotov first called for the Lithuanian Government to dismiss its Interior Minister in order to provide for a more friendly figure to the USSR. When it became clear that the government was reactionary yet undermined by the abandonment of the Germans, Molotov a few days later called for the Lithuanians to form a new government which would work with the Soviet Union.
            As American journalist Anna Louise Strong reported: “The events of the previous days may be briefly summarized. In early June the Soviet Union had presented an ultimatum, demanding the formation of a government in Lithuania which would fulfill the treaty of mutual assistance signed the previous autumn. The ultimatum was accepted and, on June 15, a considerable force of the Red Army entered the country where smaller units had been present since the signing of the treaty. Tanks, cavalry, infantry in trucks rolled through the streets of Kaunas and passed on to appropriate camping places. They did not mix with the Lithuanians' internal life at all. The Red Army gave concerts and dances to the Lithuanian army, as allied armies should. Otherwise it was known to be out in the woods near the border.
            But long-oppressed Lithuanians, whose champions had been thrown into prison for the fourteen years of the Smetona dictatorship, took heart and began to talk and organize. President Smetona fled; Prime Minister Markys thus became president, appointed Justas Paleckis, a brilliant progressive journalist, as prime minister and himself resigned. Thus Paleckis in turn became president and appointed a cabinet of ministers consisting of well-known intellectuals, later adding a few Communists.” Strong continues: "Paleckis' first decree set free about a thousand political prisoners—including Communists and Communist sympathizers. Within a week after Paleckis came to power, the first of the big popular demonstrations took place. Tens of thousands of workers marched through the streets of Kaunas demanding the legalization of the Communist Party, and secured it."

            The end of Lithuania as a bourgeois state was imminent. Until then, however, the Lithuanian workers arose in unity. Elections were held in which women were given the vote. The communists won. Bonosky notes: “Of the 79 representatives in the new parliament only 38 were Communists. The final makeup of the new parliament (seimas) consisted of 24 peasants, 21 workers, 30 intellectuals, 4 soldiers. By national origin they broke down into 67 Lithuanians, 4 Jews, 3 Poles, 1 Russian, and 1 Latvian” (103). On July 21, 1940, after the previous days were spent pursuing the nationalization of land, the Sejm (legislature) voted to have the country become the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Under Soviet governance not only were the Baltic States allowed to retain their cultural values under an autonomous local government, but their economies grew on an all-round basis.

            But what of the Baltic economies before their admission into the Union? We'll let Bonosky have the last word: “Between 1920 and 1940, all three Baltic republics were ruled by the bourgeoisie—which meant, by the power of banks, international financial powers, by the clergy and landowners. At the very outset, those who called the tune took steps to cut not only political ties with Russia—to which they had been attached for centuries—but economic ties. Then, as now, the economy of the Baltic countries was intertwined with the economy of Russia. Industry had advanced noticeably in Latvia, with Riga, the capital, having 90,000 workers in a city of less than 500,000 population. The industrial plants manufacturing textiles, shipbuilding, canning, rubber and metal were supplied raw materials from Russia and it was to Russia that the finished products were largely exported.

            Obsessed by the drive to separate from Russia, the new rulers of Latvia abruptly cut vital industrial ties, disregarding the catastrophic consequences bound to follow. It was a case of the blind leading the blind—of cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Once the separation was made, key plants immediately shut down. In Riga, the Dvigatel car building plant laid off, or put on short time, 15,000 workers. The Becker wire-drawing factory which had employed 15,000 workers also fired most of them, leaving only less than a thousand on part-time. The Krenhold mills in Narva were cut from 12,000 workers to less than 2,000.
            Naively, the new lords of the nation had turned to the West, believing that what they had lost in the Russian market they could recoup in the West. But there is no charity in business. He who lags or falls behind is devoured by the wolves. And, although the West was ready to spend millions (not their own money but the people's) to support an interventionist army, when it came to business, even class loyalty had to yield to what the profit and loss columns said.
            Suddenly it was discovered that Latvia (and Lithuania and Estonia) weren't meant to be industrial nations after all. Except for Estonia's shale, they lacked all the necessary sources for building an industrial society—no deposits of coal (peat, yes), no deposits of iron ore, no inexhaustible sources of energy to power industry, no vast prairies for growing grain. Their natural bent was bucolic. It seemed—they were now told—that they had an inborn talent for raising pigs and cows. They were ‘potato republics’” (Bonosky 156).

Finland & the Winter War
            What of Finland? A more detailed article on Finland during this period was written for Alliance Marxist-Leninist entitled “The Soviet-Finnish War (1939-40).” For now, we believe that the Finnish situation can be summed in the words of M. Sayers and Albert E. Kahn:

            “The most intimate working relationship existed between the German and the Finnish High Commands. The Finnish military leader, Baron Karl Gustav von Mannerheim, was in close and constant communication with the German High Command. There were frequent joint staff talks, and German officers periodically supervised Finnish army maneuvers. The Finnish Chief of Staff, General Karl Oesch, had received his military training in Germany, as had his chief aide, General Hugo Ostermann, who served in the German Army during the First World War. In 1939, the Government of the Third Reich conferred upon General Oesch one of its highest military decorations […]. With the aid of German officers and engineers, Finland had been converted into a powerful fortress to serve as a base for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Twenty-three military airports had been constructed on Finnish soil, capable of accommodating ten times as many airplanes as there were in the Finnish Air Force. […] As the Mannerheim Line neared completion in the summer of 1939, Hitler's Chief of Staff, General Halder, arrived from Germany and gave the massive fortifications a final inspection.
            During the first week of October, 1939, while still negotiating its new treaties with the Baltic States, the Soviet Government proposed a mutual assistance pact with Finland. Moscow offered to cede several thousand square miles of Soviet territory on central Karelia in exchange for some strategic Finnish islands near Leningrad, a portion of the Karelian Isthmus and a thirty-year lease on the port of Hango for the construction of a Soviet naval base. The Soviet leaders regarded these latter territories as essential to the defense of the Red naval base at Kronstadt and the city of Leningrad.
            The negotiations between the Soviet Union and Finland dragged on into the middle of November without results. In order to reach some agreement, the Soviet Government made a number of compromises. ‘Stalin tried to teach me the wisdom of Finnish as well as Soviet interest in compromise,’ declared the Finnish negotiator, Juho Passikivi, upon his return to Helsinki. But the pro-Nazi clique dominating the Finnish Government refused to make any concessions and broke off the negotiations. [….] Prime Minister Chamberlain, who only a short time before had asserted his country lacked adequate arms for fighting the Nazis, quickly arranged to send to Finland 144 British airplanes, 114 heavy guns, 185,000 shells, 50,000 grenades, 15,700 aerial bombs, 100,000 greatcoats and 48 ambulances. At a time when the French Army was in desperate need of every piece of military equipment to hold the inevitable Nazi offensive, the French Government turned over to the Finnish Army 179 airplanes, 472 guns, 795,000 shells, 5100 machine guns and 200,000 hand grenades.
            While the lull continued on the Western Front, the British High Command, still dominated by anti-Soviet militarists like General Ironside, drew up plans for sending 100,000 troops across Scandinavia into Finland, and the French High Command made preparations for a simultaneous attack on the Caucasus, under the leadership of General Weygand, who openly stated that French bombers in the Near East were ready to strike at the Baku oil fields.
            Day after day the British, French and American newspapers headlined sweeping Finnish victories and catastrophic Soviet defeats. But after three months of fighting in extraordinarily difficult terrain and under incredibly severe weather conditions, with the temperature frequently falling to sixty and seventy degrees below zero, the Red Army had smashed the ‘impregnable’ Mannerheim Line and routed the Finnish Army.
            Hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union ended on March 13, 1940. According to the peace terms, Finland ceded to Russia the Karelian Isthmus, the western and northern shores of Lake Lagoda, a number of strategic islands in the Gulf of Finland essential to the defense of Leningrad. The Soviet Government restored to Finland the port of Petsamo, which had been occupied by the Red Army, and took a thirty-year lease on the Hango peninsula for an annual rental of 8,000,000 Finnish marks.
            On the day that Finnish-Soviet hostilities ceased, […] the Finnish Government began to construct new fortifications along the revised frontier. Nazi technicians came from Germany to supervise the work. Large armament orders were placed with Sweden and Germany. German troops began arriving in considerable numbers in Finland. The Finnish and the German commands set LP joint headquarters and held joint army maneuvers. Scores of Nazi agents swelled the staffs of the German Embassy at Helsinki and the eleven consulates around the country”
(Sayers, and Kahn 348-350).

            Addressing the Sixth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. on March 29, Vyacheslav Molotov declared that, “The Soviet Union, having smashed the Finnish Army and having every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for expenditures in the war as any other Power would have done, but confined its desires to a minimum…We pursued no other objects in the peace treaty than that of safeguarding Murmansk and the Murmansk railroad[…]” (Molotov, quoted in “Moscow News”).

            The above examples of Soviet internal matters and foreign policy—the “Georgian Affair,” the case of Sultan-Galiev, Poland, Finland and the Baltic States—are these examples of Soviet imperialism? Did Soviet involvement in these states constitute imperialism by the Marxist definition? What, exactly, is imperialism? Imperialism is, essentially, economic exploitation. It has little to do with "national" concerns. When anyone opposes imperialism, we should know well not to point to any extraordinary attributes in the cultures of anyone. We do not talk of "fair Lebanese” or "good-willed Zimbabweans." The capitalist system has imperialism as its highest stage; national discrimination that follows with a peculiar exploitation of entire peoples on such grounds as can constitute imperialism and neo-colonialism. These policies of the USSR’s that we have examined cannot be said to qualify as imperialism.
            With Stalin's death and the formation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955, one could see a far more significant basis for claiming Soviet imperialism. The USSR no longer looked at itself as an exporter of revolution, but rather as a defender of Soviet interests. The 1968 Czechoslovak invasion was a sign of Soviet social-imperialism to solidify the Soviet grip over the states which it dominated. The foundations of the anti-revisionist movement in the 1960s showed the ideological and economic degeneracy of the Soviet revisionists. In 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, an allegedly "socialist" nation, and killed the "socialist" leader Hafizullah Amin because he had wanted independence from the Soviet sphere. Though the Soviets under Stalin had employed treaties to undermine bourgeois regimes, the revisionists used these same tactics to unseat "disloyal" figures within revisionist pro-Soviet governments. The “international division of labor" as preached by Khrushchev and co. condemned economic diversification in favor of a Warsaw Pact economy that ultimately revolved around Soviet interests. The USSR, the fortress of international socialism under Lenin and Stalin, could not have been more bastardized.
            In the end it should be apparent that the support of native communist movements is the goal of all socialist governments. All communists should be wary of exporting revolutions, and especially of issuing top-down revolutions, if only because such revolutions run the risk of undermining the role of the native proletariat itself. Perhaps, then, it would be wise to follow the words of Stalin in 1936:

            “You see, we Marxists believe that a revolution will also take place in other countries. But it will take place only when the revolutionaries in those countries think it possible, or necessary. The export of revolution is nonsense. Every country will make its own revolution if it wants to, and if it does not want to, there will be no revolution. For example, our country wanted to make a revolution and made it, and now we are building a new, classless society. But to assert that we want to make a revolution in other countries, to interfere in their lives, means saying what is untrue, and what we have never advocated” (Stalin and Howard).
            At the same time, we Marxist-Leninists should keep in mind our internationalist perspective on imperialism, and we should not err on the side of bourgeois regimes and their "self-determination" to exploit the workers. The state is an organ of class struggle, so to speak of any "national" defense against "imperialism" as applied in the debates over the Baltic States and Poland would be in error. The issue of anti-imperialism should always be combined with and serving the interests of fighting and strangling capitalism.


            Sources cited:

            Bonosky, Phillip. Devils in Amber: The Baltics. New York: International Publishers, 2007. 87-156. Print.

            Lenin, V.I. The Discussion of Self-Determination Summed Up. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1964. Print.

Sayers, M., and A.E. Kahn. The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia. 1946. 348-350. Print.

            Molotov, Vyacheslav. "Report on the Foreign Policy of the Government." Moscow News 01 April 1940, Print.

            Martin, Terry. The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. 1st ed. New York: Cornell University Press, 2001. 230. Print.

            Senn, Alfred Erich . Lithuania 1940: Revolution from Above. New York: 2007. 21. Print.

            Stalin, J.V. Speech to the Twelfth Congress of the RCP(b). Vol. 5. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953. 197-285. Print.

            Stalin, J.V. The Foundations of Leninism. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1976. 72. Print.

            Stalin, J.V., and Roy Howard. Interview Between J. Stalin and Roy Howard. 14. London: Red Star Press Ltd., 1978. Print.



                1) One thing stands out in the minds of those who dispute the defensive nature of the conflict in regards to the Soviets: what of the Finnish Democratic Republic? This Democratic Republic was a stillborn attempt at achieving something akin to Lithuania in between the fall of Smetona and the declaration of Union Republic status, though this does not necessarily mean that Finland was on the road to becoming a SSR if this Republic had come to power. Recognizing the Democratic Republic as the legitimate government was an attempt to rally the masses of Finland against war. It was not really remarkable in comparison to the various popular worker-and-peasant-based governments set up by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War.
                The affiliated Peace and Friendship Society of Finland and the Soviet Union was founded shortly after, with around 35,000 members at maximum. It organized protests with the aid of 115 separate branches and became a fairly potent force as far as communist movements went. Patriotism, however, proved to be particularly strong in Finland. Indeed, Arvo Tuominen, head of the Finnish Communist Party, was selected as the leader of the newly constituted Democratic Republic. Instead Tuominen (then in Sweden) refused to cooperate and spent the rest of the war condemning the Soviet Union, Communism in general, and advocating the continuance of Finnish war against the Soviets. He died a right-wing social-democrat. With the prospect of open British intervention by the Western Powers and perhaps even German intervention in spite of the non-aggression pact, it was decided to simply agree to the terms previously negotiated which would give the USSR leases on various territories in which it could defend Leningrad against the prospect of a German invasion. The Democratic Republic unceremoniously ceased existence just as Transcaucasia had.