Arsenal of Marxism

Nationalism or Internationalism? 

The question is posed by the Russian Revolution

By Chris Kinder

Part 2

“...the problem of our century is to free the productive forces from the national boundaries which have become iron fetters upon them.” —Trotsky 

In Part 1, (Socialist Viewpoint, September/October 2018, Vol. 18 No. 5) we discussed how the Russian Empire, known as a prison house of nations, became, with the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, a workers state, which respected and honored national liberation and self-determination of all nations. The Bolsheviks renounced the Tsarist Empire’s expansionist goals, and exposed the infamous secret treaties in which the imperialist powers of World War I had plotted new colonial conquests. The Bolsheviks recognized the independence of previous Tsarist possessions such as Finland, Poland, the Ukraine and the Baltic states, even as many of these were occupied by German imperialists. But the Bolsheviks had a big “caveat:” while national rights were respected, counterrevolutionary efforts to destroy the Russian workers state, or to stop the spread of workers revolution internationally, would be (and were) resolutely opposed. 

Soviets reject imperialist designs, but the entente? Never

Under the Tsars, Russia had worked to extend its tentacles into the declining Ottoman Empire, including wars in the Balkans, wars against the Turks of Anatolia, and a joint plot with Britain to dominate Persia (now, Iran.) All this was walked back under the Bolsheviks, who renounced all Tsarist aims at domination in the Middle East. The Soviets made public the infamous Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, in which Britain, France and Tsarist Russia had secretly agreed on dividing up the Middle East between them. France claimed Syria and Lebanon, while the British demanded Iraq, Persia, and also a “protectorate” in Palestine, this latter being part of a Zionist plot to establish a Jewish state under colonial protection (British troops conquered Jerusalem during the war a year later.) 

The Tsar claimed Constantinople (now Istanbul)1 and the Straits of Bosporus and the Dardanelles—the connection between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (hereafter, the Straits.) This was important for Russia’s access to the world market, and later also became a factor for defense of the young Soviet state.

The imperialist designs of Sykes-Picot had been dependent, of course, on the victory of the imperial Entente powers over the Central Powers, which included the crumbling Ottoman Empire. That victory is what happened in general, in 1918. In one instance however, this dying empire had decidedly refused to crumble. During the war, the British were seriously humiliated when Churchill attempted to outflank the Germans in the trenches in Europe by invading Turkey. This led to the battle of Gallipoli—a major disaster for the British. Gallipoli was the only victory of the Ottomans in World War I, and it presaged Turkey’s later emergence as an independent state, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the victorious general of Gallipoli.2

The Entente: imperialism uber alles

Turkey soon became an important test for the young Soviet state, and it was not an easy one. For the Soviets, the relations with the Turks in the post WWI period are a prime example of how the Bolsheviks confronted a multi-faceted problem: to reconcile defense of liberty for colonized nations against imperialism, with the defense of minority rights within those nations, the promotion of world revolution, and also with the survival of the Soviet state itself in an imperialist-dominated world. Increasingly in this world, the proletarian revolutions it had expected and depended on in Europe had not come to pass. The Soviets were thus often faced with some difficult decisions, particularly regarding the national and colonial question. 

First and foremost, the problem began with the imperialists.

The British, in partnership with France, Italy (which had opportunistically switched sides during the war from the Central Powers to the Entente) and some client states, proceeded with their thirst for domination in the Middle East after the war’s end in 1918. Despite their loss at Gallipoli—or perhaps because of it—Britain and its allies targeted Turkey particularly for dismemberment. At the Treaty of Sevres in August 1920—to which Soviet Russia was not a party, since it had earlier made peace with the Ottomans—the map of Turkey was butchered. Sections were slated for British-allied Greece, as well as so-called “zones of influence” for Italy, France and Britain. Sections were also allotted for a future Kurdistan and for the British-aligned Armenians, both of whom occupied parts of Western Anatolia. 

These plans for Turkey were all about defeating and colonizing the Ottoman Empire, and had nothing to do with the “Wilsonian” idea for self-determination of oppressed nations such as the Kurds and Armenians. U.S. President Wilson’s pandering to “self determination” was all about preserving imperialist control, in a new form perhaps, in the face of the danger of world revolution emerging from Soviet Russia. 

Turkish War of Independence and Soviet response

Under the 1918 Armistice of Mudros (also without Soviet participation,) the Entente had asserted its right to control Constantinople and the Straits in the name of “free trade,” thus displacing the now deposed Tsar’s demands with those of the imperialist victors. This soon allowed imperialist warships to freely sail into the Black Sea to supply the White armies of Denikin, whose counterrevolutionary forces pushed into the Ukraine after the withdrawal of the German occupiers in 1918, and were only defeated by the Soviets in 1920.

After the 1920 Sevres Treaty, and with British and French control in Constantinople (still the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate,) Turkish nationalists led by Atatürk rose up in rebellion against both the Sultan and the imperialists. With British support and advance planning, Greek forces were used as the spearhead of the imperialist attack. They landed on the west coast of Anatolia (in Ionia, which in ancient times had been Greek) in March 1921, presenting Turkish nationalists with a big military problem. They requested Soviet help.

The Soviet predicament in 1921

For the Soviet Russian government, this represented both an opportunity and a challenge: the British, once seen as a protector of Turkish nationalism against its own Ottoman government during the war, was now a mortal enemy, just as it had been the Soviets’ worst enemy. And the Greek-British assault on the Turks, now a new nation emerging from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire, was an imperialist crime of the first order. The Soviets supported Turkey’s nationalist aspirations, yet hesitated. The decision to support the Turks with armaments was made after a few months, based on internal discussions in which Lenin and Trotsky supported intervention, and Stalin opposed. The Greeks were driven out, and the Atatürk regime was grateful. A Soviet-Turkish Treaty was signed in March of 1921.3

Why did the Soviet government hesitate in backing Turkey against Greek/British imperialist aggression? The answer is not simple. Russia, just emerging from civil-war hell under war communism, had to survive in the face an economic collapse. The blockade imposed on Russia had, with the defeat of most of the White counterrevolutionaries, been lifted in January 1920; and Russia was now in negotiation for a trade agreement with Britain. Also in 1921, a renewal of small capitalist production under the NEP, or New Economic Policy, was instituted in order to kick-start the economy.

Furthermore, this was a world in which the prospects for world revolution were waning, particularly in the Middle East. Communist Parties in Turkey and the rest of the Middle East were recently formed, very small, and imperial powers were on the move to subordinate any and all incipient nationalisms to their control. 

“A state of equilibrium” —Lenin

In an address to the Ninth All-Russian Congress of Soviets in December 1921, Lenin referred to this period as one of a “state of equilibrium:”

“...a certain equilibrium, though a highly unstable one, has been created in international relations....It is very strange for those of us who have lived through the revolution from its inception...”

Lenin goes on to say that the direct, Bolshevik path of revolution,

“...which, in fact, alone had enabled us to break free of imperialist ties, of imperialist crimes and of the imperialist war continuing to threaten the rest of the world, proved to be one which other nations were unable to take—at any rate not as quickly as we had thought they would. When nevertheless, we now see...that there is only one Socialist Soviet Republic and that it is surrounded by a whole array of frenziedly hostile imperialist powers, we must ask ourselves—how was it possible for this to happen?”

Lenin went on to assert the basic correctness of Bolshevik analyses, conclusions and policies, and credited,

“...the sympathy of the workers and peasants...throughout the world, even in the countries most hostile to us...”

This sympathy,

“…was great enough to be the final and most decisive source, the most decisive reason for the complete failure of all the attacks directed against us.”4

This report to the Soviet Congress by Lenin represented a frank and honest appraisal of the situation facing the world’s first workers state. Lenin recognized an existing situation—that revolution had failed to spread as expected—and asserted that the Russian Soviets had to survive in this context without compromising on principal. Lenin’s approach to the problem of the isolation of the Soviet state in a capitalist world was the opposite to that of the later betrayals of Stalin, who subordinated the revolutionary interests of the working class to the strictly diplomatic interests of Russia.

National liberation alone is not enough

In supporting national self-determination, the Bolshevik government insisted on full cultural and autonomous rights for all minorities in any nation, including local languages to be used in schools, etc. This of course was anathema to nationalists; especially those who sought to escape the influence of the Russian Revolution. But the Bolsheviks were unable to influence events in Turkey. 

The Soviet-aided national liberation of Turkey from both the Ottoman Empire and from the encroachments of western imperialism led to a new state, but it was a national revolution, not a social revolution, and it did not lead to liberation for the Kurdish or Armenian minorities living in Turkey. The Kurds were Muslims, but the Armenians, besides being a very ancient people, were also among the first to adopt Christianity (in about 300 AD). During the World War, some 1.5 million Armenians in the Turkish areas of the Ottoman Empire were massacred by the “Young Turks” in the military, or forcibly expelled into the Syrian desert, in racist and genocidal attacks (mainly in 1914-15). This atrocity was blamed on the war.5

The Soviet government was of course not around at the time of this atrocity. After the war, however, and after the departure of Entente forces from the Trans-Caucasian states of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, Turkey became a predator against Trans-Caucasian Armenia. Turkish nationalists had expansionist aspirations. This nearly caused an armed conflict between the Turks and Soviet Russia

The Kurds meanwhile, an ancient people, deserving of the right of national self-determination as much as any of the peoples of the Ottoman Empire, were promised self-determination by the imperialist powers after the war. They were then denied a national state by the same powers. Turkish independence disrupted the imperialist plan to butcher Turkey as the first step in dividing up the Middle East. Subjected to endless persecution in Turkey (and Iran), Kurds were left to making deals where they could. Now Kurdish nationalists have subordinated themselves to the U.S. in the Syrian conflict. Such is the endless entanglement of small nations in the imperialist web.

Revolution spreads to the

In the Trans-Caucasus, the Armenian, Azerbaijan and Georgian nationalities all went through the same unfolding dynamic as did other Russian borderlands: Russian speaking elites at first supported working with the Provisional Government Constituent Assembly, and then, after the October Revolution, fled to the help of various imperialists and White armies to escape Bolshevism, and to gain a highly dubious independence. These nations were led by Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary governments and protected by imperialist and White intervention, which could only have led them into new colonization by the Entente powers, who were frothing at the mouth to gobble up and divide the Middle East—including the Trans-Caucasus—between them; and to destroy the workers’ revolution in Russia as well. 

The Bolsheviks meanwhile, pursued the class war against both the imperialist, and the local reactionaries. Soviets were emerging, particularly in places such as Baku, a Russian dominated industrial area in Azerbaijan. Pro-Bolshevik workers’ uprisings soon began in these nations, and with Red Army support, they triumphed. 

In the Trans-Caucasus, the Soviet struggle against the Entente imperialists also led to new socialist states as well as to both friendly relations with Turkey, and to some essential interests of Russia as a nation. In the spring of 1920, after the departure of British troops, and after the British recognition of a state of Azerbaijan (which was an attempt to maintain British influence and act as a bulwark against the Soviets) a communist uprising quickly overthrew the government and established the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). 

Armenian workers revolt, and a significant treaty with Turkey

Soon after, this revolution was matched with an uprising of workers and peasants in Armenia, but this was suppressed. The Dashnak government of Armenia was in the process of colluding with Denikin, the White reactionary who assaulted the Ukraine. (Dashnak was a nationalist “socialist” party aligned against the Bolsheviks.) By September, the Turkish attack on Armenia (mentioned above) hit the Bolsheviks just as they were dealing with the assault by Wrangle (yet another reactionary White army) on Southern Russia. Russia publicly denounced the Turkish incursion, and the Turks soon relented.6 

At the end of November, a revolutionary committee backed by a Red Army detachment proclaimed an independent Armenia, called an Armenian Congress of Soviets, and proclaimed an Armenian socialist republic. While Soviet-Turkish negotiations were on-going, Soviet and Georgian Bolshevik forces also crossed the border into Georgia, and established the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, with autonomous rights for three minority regions, while bourgeois and Menshevik politicians fled. Lenin had proposed a joint government with the Mensheviks but they refused. Lenin’s objections to Stalin’s treatment of Georgia is a subject for a future article.7

The Russian-Turkish Treaty signed in March 1921 accomplished a great deal. It recognized the three Trans-Caucasian Soviet republics (each making separate treaties with Turkey,) recognized Georgian control of the port of Batum (which had been contested by Turkey,) and it recognized Turkish control of Constantinople, and thus of the Straits. With this Treaty, the Straits and all shores of the Black Sea were protected from foreign military intervention, while free trade through the Straits was assured for all nations. 

Bolshevik principles

In sum, the experience of Soviet Russia regarding Turkey, in which they were unable to intervene in Turkey with revolutionary struggle or with protecting persecuted minorities, is not different in principle from the dealings with Finland and Poland. Finnish workers rose up, but a revolutionary civil war was lost to a German-aided bourgeoisie; and Poland’s workers failed to rise up in sufficient numbers when the Red Army invaded in 1920. Yet Russia recognized the independence of both nations. As for Turkey, which unlike Finland and Poland, was never a Russian possession in any sense, the Soviets allied with and supported Turkey against imperialists who were still threatening Turkey with dismemberment, and the entire Middle East with colonization.

Meanwhile, the creation of workers states in the Trans-Caucasus, (as with the Ukraine and Belarus,) was based on national liberation in the context of struggle against imperialist occupiers, and for the revolution’s survival in the civil war and after. True liberation of the masses meant overthrowing the exploiter class, not just achieving a dubious national independence. As we have seen however, this could not happen in all cases, and revolutionary tasks were left for the future. 

In September 1922, the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International issued a declaration of “Peace to the Turkish People, War on European Imperialism.” It contained the following summary of the situation concerning Turkey:

“The Turkish Government is not a government of workers and peasants; it is a government of the officer class, a government of intellectuals, a government which certainly does not correspond to our ideals. There is therefore no doubt that as Turkey develops economically the Turkish working class will have to fight against the government. But the Turkish workers understand that, whatever their attitude to this government, Turkey’s fight is that of a poor peasant people against enslavement by international capital, and the international proletariat must in its own interest and regardless of its attitude to the Turkish government, do everything it can to prevent Entente imperialism from taking up arms again against Turkey and from shedding the blood of the European proletariat once more in the interests of English world domination.”8

On the question of “cultural nationalism”

What about minority populations integrated within nations... are they necessarily potential nations? Many are, yes. But in the years before the war, Lenin polemicized against the notion of “cultural national autonomy,” which was promulgated by leading Austrian Social-Democrats in connection with the many national minorities collected within the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in 1914 the Empire contained ten nations and at least as many ethnic groups.) This proposal, as Lenin described it in an article titled “Cultural-National” Autonomy, would have allowed any citizen, without regard to territoriality (i.e., what national territory they lived in) to register as a specific nationality. This proposal, Lenin emphasized, would require separate schools for each nationality. 

In Russia, this proposal was adopted by the bourgeois Jewish organizations (the Bund, and others,) and Lenin vigorously objected. He pointed out that Jews could be divided into two groups, those that lived in backward areas like Galicia and Russia, where they were forcibly confined in ghettoes and frequently massacred in pogroms, and those who live in the civilized world, who tend to be internationalists and revolutionaries in great numbers. And Lenin also mentioned the Negroes of America: “In the Southern, former slave states of America, Negro children are still segregated in separate schools, whereas in the North, white and Negro children attend the same schools.” Allowing for the fact that Lenin did not mention the segregation due to economic circumstances and racism in the North, the point against misplaced nationalism is clear.9

After the Revolution, the Communist International was the chief, and very determined force in educating socialists in the U.S. as to the need to see that there was a special oppression of the Negroes that must be addressed. Prior to that, socialists had seen the Negro question as a simple economic one. Lenin requested that the American, John Reed, speak on the Negro Question at the 2nd Congress of the Communist International in 1920. Reed pointed out that while the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) had organized Negroes, the old Socialist Party “undertook no serious attempt to organize them,” and in some states refused membership to them. He emphasized that integration and multi-racial workers struggle, along with armed self-defense against “race riot” attacks by whites, was the only way forward. “The Negroes do not pose the demand of national independence,” he said.10 Only later, after the Stalinist degeneration of the Russian Revolution, did the Communist Party in the U.S. toy with notions of a separate Black Nation.

The Leninist revolutionary national program today

The Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution dealt with the national question as it was affected by counterrevolutionary elements backed by imperialist powers. Today, while the world has no revolutionary force such as the Bolsheviks on hand, the same dynamic still applies: national self-determination is important, but it does not, by itself, constitute liberation from the class oppression of the bourgeoisie, or from rampant imperialist domination 

In the post-World War II period, the U.S., asserting its new found dominance among imperialists, taught the world’s nations a lesson: yes you can have your post-colonial nation with your own flag and postage stamp, but your country will still be ruled by puppets that we choose, and by international finance capitalism centered in Wall Street. In short, it meant that nationalism is in no way a solution to capitalist or imperialist exploitation, why? Because we imperialists will dominate your economy in a vice-grip of debt and subordination to our will through financial controls.

Financial control was always the heart of capitalist imperialism. But abandoning physical occupation of colonies, and substituting client states run by puppets—in which the imperialists appear to be in the background and the nations appear to be independent—is the hallmark of the new “American Century.”

Crimes of the new sheriff

African peoples emerging from colonialism were the first victims of this new approach to empire, post-World War II. In 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the nationalist leader of post-(British) colonial Egypt, nationalized the Suez Canal. Both British and French imperialists freaked out, and with client state Israel, occupied the Canal to regain control of this important waterway. The U.S., under Eisenhower (with Stalinist Soviet Russia and the UN,) called a halt, defended the Nasser regime, and in effect told the French and British that there was a new sheriff in town.

These new means did not exclude financing counterrevolutionary forces, murderous CIA interventions or outright invasions with troops. In 1960 in the formerly Belgian Congo, Patrice Lumumba was executed in a CIA plot in the newly-formed Democratic Republic. The purpose of this action was to halt Lumumba’s attempt to seek aid from Soviet Russia, and thus to preserve access to the Congo’s vast resources for imperialist corporations.. 

Yugoslavia is another variant. Yugoslavia emerged from a victorious war against Nazi occupiers to form a unique, if deformed, workers state: one, which united several Balkan countries, which for centuries had been endlessly warring. After the death of its head, Josip Tito, imperialist powers managed to crack this state up into its historically nationalist components, which provoked war and mayhem in the region. Nationalist divisions resurfaced, but anything that could be called “liberation?” Nowhere to be found.

The lessons of Central and South America

Central America is another story of national disaster. While the Bolivarian Revolution had liberated Latin American nations from Spanish colonialism, big brother from the North declared, with the Monroe Doctrine, that this is our back yard. And while the U.S. toyed with occupation ideas in Central America in the past (many of which were all about spreading a slavery economy,) today it is all about banana republics ruled by puppets and corporations, from United Fruit to the Clintons’ friends in Haiti. Military coups sponsored by the U.S., as well as countless military interventions are all part of the story, which can only reaffirm that having your own flag and postage stamp is not enough!

National self-determination is still relevant

The working class seeks a worldwide regime of human community, speckled only by equal local national groups and ethnic communities. But the right of national self-determination must not be consigned to the history books just yet: its importance is still current under capitalism. In the Russian annexation of Crimea, a referendum was held which is widely denounced in the West. Yet the population of Crimea is overwhelmingly ethnically and linguistically Russian, and the referendum’s outcome was clearly supportive of joining Russia.

Catalonia and Quebec, however, are questionable (in a different way.) Catalonia has voted to secede, and so revolutionists support that, and condemn the Spanish government’s contemptuous attempts at suppression. But what does the working class have to gain? Quebec is another story, in which nationalists advocate independence but do not hold a majority. Furthermore working-class unity has been demonstrated between the French- and English-speaking populations.

Britain, and the illusions of nationalism

The British vote for Brexit—separation from the European Union—is a conundrum. While the EU is a capitalist cabal, based on free trade and domination by the wealthiest nations, the principle of operation by any and all of its member states is essentially the same for all. Some powers in the cabal dominate due to their greater control of capital, but the principal contradiction within the European Union is the class struggle.

Yes, many workers in Britain simply wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the works of the system, just as some workers in the U.S. did with Trump. But the retreat of a powerful member state such as Britain, or Trump’s reactionary populism in the U.S., represent no alternative to capitalism. Brexit, like Trump, represents a resurgent, anti-immigrant nationalism which banks on a highly unlikely revival of imperialist domination (Britain) or an equally unlikely “great” America benefitting workers. These are illusions, which many British and U.S. workers have fallen victim to.

Regardless of the right of self-determination—important as it is under both capitalism and in a workers state—the actual outcome of so-called “national liberation” of former colonies in the Third World has been an unmitigated disaster. And in the world of advanced imperialism, that was to be expected. The nation state was the tool the bourgeoisie used to come to power in an environment in which it could dominate as a class, and pursue its interests on the world stage. Warfare developed between states while the primary market was at home. But soon the mercantile empires that enriched the nascent bourgeoisie became full-blown capitalist imperialism, in which the market is increasingly on a world stage.

As Lenin pointed out, finance capital dominates the world, the economy is a global phenomenon, and therein lies the chief contradiction: built to foster national capitalist economies in the 19th Century, nation states are now the chief obstacle to the development of a truly international and egalitarian economy. The nation states are now a reactionary hangover from an earlier age, yet the dominant imperialists use them to keep to keep themselves in power, and the other states in low-wage subservience. Labor is exploited globally to the benefit of the big corporations, imperialist centers keep most small nations in perpetual poverty, wars and chaos; and border walls and barbed wire keep the victims of brutal oppression from seeking refuge in the very countries whose rulers are the cause of all their problems.

Nationalism and imperialism mean racism, reaction and war

Those few—Venezuela, Nicaragua—that buck the system are isolated and persecuted in a thousand ways. Either they accommodate the big powers, or they lie prostrate before corrupt puppets or “regime change.” But they are all, technically, “independent” nations. At least Cuba, having overthrown capitalism has a better chance at survival. But without an international proletarian revolution, even Cuba could succumb 

Nationalism, like the religion it goes hand-in-hand with, is increasingly showing its reactionary tendencies. In the U.S., Trump’s rightist populism spurs white supremacy and works to turn the clock back to the 1950s, and anti-immigrant fever increasingly grips the U.S. and Europe. Huge numbers, all victims of imperialist policies of one sort or another are drowned, deported, or simply kept out by walls and barbed wire. In India, a Hindu supremacist/nationalist autocracy is taking shape, which will inevitably mean more slaughters of Muslims.

Humanity yearns for imperialism and the myth of nationalism to fade, and return to the dustbin of history from whence they came. The Russian Revolution showed the way to that long-term goal. Now, it is our turn to make revolution happen again, worldwide.

Trotsky said it best:

“It is a question here not of Russia alone. This subordination of belated national revolutions to the revolution of the proletariat follows a law, which is valid throughout the world. Whereas in the nineteenth century the fundamental problem of wars and revolutions was still to guarantee a national market to the productive forces, the problem of our century is to free the productive forces from the national boundaries which have become iron fetters upon them. In the broad historic sense, the national revolutions of the East are only stages of the world revolution of the proletariat, just as the national revolutions of Russia became stepping-stones to the soviet dictatorship.”11

1 Constantinople—named after the Roman Emperor Constantine, who officially imposed Christianity on that Empire—was ironically still the formal name of that city under the Islamic Ottomans. “Istanbul” was an informal Greek-derived sort of nickname, which became official in the 1920s under the Turkish nationalists.

2 The Battle of Gallipoli was one of the worst in this war, both for the British, and from the perspective of the atrociousness of World War I generally. With closely spaced trenches atop a cliff, ineffective artillery support from British ships offshore, and rigid, unrealistic battle plans, the soldiers in the trenches paid the ultimate price for the idiocy of an arrogant British military elite. Australian troops were the primary cannon fodder for the British; their losses were huge, and many Australians retain a hatred for Churchill and for the British generally which persists to this day. 

It says something about the corruption of the imperialist hegemonic nations that Churchill, the architect of this disastrous adventure, later became the much-celebrated Prime Minister in yet another world war, in which he ordered terror bombings of civilians.

3 Stalin and Orjonikidze urged moderation, “recalling Turkey’s unfriendly attitude in seizing Batum (Georgia’s port on the Black Sea, where Stalin had organized strikes before the revolution) in February 1921 and not wishing to see Turkey too strong.” E.H. Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923, Vol. 3, Pelican Books, 1973, pp. 468-69.

4 Lenin, Report on “The Home and Foreign Policy of the Republic,” to the Ninth All-Russian Congress of Soviets, December 25, 1921. Collected Works (CW), Vol. 33, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966. pp. 143-44.

5 The ancient peoples of Armenia were in recent times located in Eastern (Trans-Caucasian) and Western (Anatolian) regions. The former came under the control of the Russian Empire, while the Western Armenians came to be dominated by the Ottoman Empire. Western Armenians had earlier been subject to persecution by Turks and Kurds to convert to Islam. See: Suny, Ronald Grigor, They Can Live in the Desert, But Nowhere Else, Princeton University Press, 2015, for more on the Armenian Genocide.

6 Kemal Atatürk’s aim was partly to grab some territory, but also to prod the Soviet government to ally with Turkey against the imperialists, who through control of the Trans-Caucasian republics and Constantinople, sought to dominate the Black Sea and thus control Russia’s trade route.

7 See EH Carr, ibid, Vol. 1, pp. 352-54; and Vol 3, pp 250-52 on the Trans-Caucasian Republics.

8 Jane Degras, ed., The Communist International Documents, Volume 1 1919-1922. p. 370.

9 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 19 (1913), p. 503; and “Critical Remarks on the National Question,” Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 26.

10 “John Reed Speaks on the Negro Question in the 2nd Congress of the Communist International, 1920,”

11 Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution, Haymarket Books edition (2017) p. 655