Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
THE goal of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. is a World Federation of Soviet Socialist Republics, to be established through the strategy and tactics of world revolution. Historically, the strategy has been divided into three phases, depending on current and immediate objectives. From 1903 to the March revolution in 1917, the immediate objective was the overthrow of Tsarism. In the second phase, from March to November 1917, it was the overthrow of imperialism in Russia and withdrawal from the "imperialist" war. In the third phase, after the November revolution, it was to consolidate the dictatorship in one country, where it could be used as a fulcrum to overthrow imperialism in all countries and open the epoch of world revolution. In this strategy the chief reserves of the revolutionary army are considered to be the masses in highly industrialized countries and the native populations in colonial and dependent lands. Throughout any one phase the strategy remains fairly constant in its principles; it changes only as the revolution moves from one phase to the next. Tactics, on the other hand, change repeatedly within any given phase, according to whether the revolutionary tide is ebbing or flowing, advancing or receding.
The Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. is dominated by considerations of practical politics. It knows how to change its tactics of world revolution both to fit the internal problems of Russia as well as to meet the changing pressures exerted first from one side, then from another, in the shifting constellation of world Powers. Its instruments in conducting its external relations are two -- the Narkomindel (Foreign Office), used to maintain formal relations with other states and to promote peace during the period of building Socialism in Russia; and the Comintern (Communist International), used to promote class war everywhere outside Russia, to convert imperialist war into civil war, and to further the cause of world revolution.
The conflicts of policy between the Narkomindel and the Comintern at any given moment can be explained by shifts in the incidence of their use in the general scheme of strategy and tactics. The goal, however, remains unaltered. By using the Narkomindel to placate other governments, and the Comintern to promote the overthrow of the same governments, the Bolsheviks were able over the years to create for themselves a position of special privilege in world politics, in which the right hand could deny responsibility for the left. They captured the interest and support not only of the instinctive revolutionaries around the world, but of a great number of idealistic liberals who observed the actions of the Narkomindel but ignored those of the Comintern. Herein lies the prevailing confusion regarding Soviet foreign policies.
The zigzag course of Bolshevik strategy and tactics is illustrated in the four major reorientations which the Soviet Government has executed in its relations with other states.
THE TACTIC OF WORLD REVOLUTION, 1917-1921
When the Bolsheviks proclaimed their peace decree on November 8, 1917 -- no annexations, no indemnities, and self-determination -- they fully expected the "imperialist" war to be converted into a series of civil wars which would be the prelude to world revolution. Thus in defending his decision to accept the Brest-Litovsk peace with Germany on March 3, 1918, Lenin wrote: "By concluding a separate peace, we free ourselves as far as is possible at the present moment from both the contending imperialist groups, turning their mutual hostilities to our own account, taking advantage of the state of warfare between them which prevents their joining forces against us, thus freeing ourselves for a time so we can further and consolidate the Socialist revolution."
What was not expected was that the attempts of the Allies to reëstablish the eastern front, and to prevent German exploitation of Russian resources, would develop into military intervention against the Bolsheviks, civil war, and the cordon sanitaire. Instead of being allowed to lead a world revolution, the Bolsheviks were barred from the Paris Peace Conference. Nevertheless, they claim the credit for inciting the revolution which accompanied Germany's military collapse in the West. The revolution hung fire in Central Europe for two years. Bela Kun's Soviet Republic in Hungary was smashed by White reaction. The revolutionary tide reached its climax with the defeat of the Red Army at the gates of Warsaw in 1920. Projects for revolution in Turkey, Persia and elsewhere in the East, which had been launched at the Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East in 1920, were destined to be held in abeyance by a shift in tactics.
The first instrument for world revolution was the Bureau of International Revolutionary Propaganda, which was set up in Moscow under three Americans, Boris Reinstein, Albert Rhys Williams and John Reed. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Narkomindel became for a time the chief disseminator of propaganda, and Chicherin, as Commissar for Foreign Relations, asserted in July 1918 that assistance to outside proletarian movements was a recognized function of revolutionary diplomacy. Accordingly, tons of revolutionary literature were distributed, especially among the million German soldiers occupying the Ukraine.
However, these activities were eventually taken over from the Narkomindel by the Comintern, created by Lenin in March 1919 to build a backfire against the interventionist states and to wean the masses of the world away from their support of the Second (Socialist) International. The Comintern consists of professional revolutionists organized into national sections, and is controlled by an Executive Committee which dictates the resolutions and theses of each Comintern Congress. It is in turn controlled by the Communist Party of Russia. The directives for action originate in the Russian section, and are forwarded by the Executive Committee of the Comintern to the national sections, or local Communist parties, in all countries. Internationalization of the revolution was to be achieved by a combination of two elements: the militant violence of professional revolutionaries and the doctrinaire aspirations of the Socialists. Part of the program, therefore, was to capture leadership of the entire Socialist world. Hence the subsequent alternations in policy between efforts toward a United Front with the Second International, and equally strenuous periods of active hostility inspired by hatred of that organization.
Between 1917 and 1921, to use Stalin's words, the revolutionary tide was flowing. As the Bolsheviks were in quarantine behind the cordon sanitaire there was no pronounced conflict between the Narkomindel and the Comintern. The Narkomindel negotiated peace with the Baltic limitrophe states and Poland in 1920, but refused to recognize Rumania's acquisition of Bessarabia. A dummy, the Far Eastern Republic, with its capital at Chita, was set up to serve as a buffer against Japan. But toward the end of the period the tide of revolution began to recede. Foreign intervention in Russia was ended, but Russia proper was devastated by civil war and weakened by famine and epidemics. Wartime Communism had brought the economic life of the country almost to a standstill. A change of policy was in order.
FIRST MAJOR SHIFT: THE TACTIC OF TRUCE WITH CAPITALISM, 1921-1927
Lenin launched the New Economic Policy of 1921 in order to restore economic life through private enterprise, and to invite foreign investments in the form of concessions. Money was restored, industry was decentralized, and labor was granted freedom of contract. The Narkomindel was instructed to work out a modus vivendi with capitalist states and to subscribe in part to the accepted rules of international law. In 1923 the Soviet Union was formed. Property rights in concessions having been assured, the major Powers -- with the notable exception of the United States -- recognized it the following year.
Of special importance were Soviet relations with Weimar Germany. The rapprochement of the two nations, both outcasts from the family of nations, was cemented by the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922. This was the start of close economic and military collaboration. Their Treaty of Commerce, signed in 1925, was presumed to serve as a working model for subsequent arrangements between the capitalist and Socialist camps. By signing the Locarno treaty in 1925, and negotiating for entry into the League in 1926, Germany seemed to reorient her policy in favor of the Western Powers. But she immediately propitiated the Bolsheviks with the 1926 Treaty of Amity, by which Russia was assured that German soil would not serve for passage of a League army in execution of Article 16 of the Covenant. Meanwhile, the Russians had supported Turkey in replacing the Treaty of Sèvres by the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923. The murder of the chief delegate to that conference, by a White Russian, caused the Bolsheviks to refuse all subsequent invitations to Switzerland until the Swiss had made reparations. Adjustment of the dispute was made by the Germans, and Litvinov officially appeared at Geneva for the first time in 1927 as a delegate to the Preparatory Disarmament Commission. Russia likewise made a series of non-aggression treaties with her immediate neighbors. Germany aided Russia to emerge from the quarantine, and at the same time used her as a club to shake in the direction of Britain and France.
While the rôle of Narkomindel thus changed radically in this period, that of the Comintern continued as before. Until Lenin's serious illness in 1922 he continued to serve as coördinator between the two. The Comintern policy was presumed to be promotion of the United Front with the Social Democrats. And yet Stalin, in his first declaration on international affairs (Imprecorr, October 9, 1924), said: "The workers are moving to revolution. Pacifists and democrats alike deceive the masses. Social democracy is the moderate wing of Fascism." And again: "The Fascists are certainly not sleeping, but it is to our advantage for them to attack first; that will attract the whole working class to the Communists. Moreover, all our information indicates that Fascism is weak in Germany. In my opinion we should restrain and not incite the Germans."
The contradiction between a United Front with the Social Democrats and opposition to them as the "moderate wing of Fascism" may account for the fact that the Comintern first ordered a revolution in Germany in 1923 and then abandoned it. Certainly Stalin's assumption that Fascism was weak in Germany had much to do with the subsequent Comintern policy to destroy social democracy there and allow the Nazis to seize power, in the belief that the Communists would succeed them in a brief time. The chief enemy of the period was considered to be Great Britain. There was the incident of the Zinoviev letter, the continuous Curzon-Bolshevik quarrel over conflicting interests in the Middle East, and finally the British general strike in 1926 which the Communists tried to capture for their own ends.
In 1925 Stalin conceded that capitalism had entered a period of temporary stabilization, and that the revolutionary tide again was ebbing. It was then that the Comintern became active in China. The Canton-Moscow Entente (1924-27) ushered in the expedition north, and ended in the expulsion of the Bolshevik advisers and the mass execution of Chinese Communists. In this period Comintern interference with the Narkomindel resulted in the breaking off, in 1927, of diplomatic relations between Russia and Britain and between Russia and China.
Within the Party the feud between Stalin and Trotsky for control of the direction of the revolution reached a climax in November 1927. Trotsky was expelled. Besides conceding that capitalism had been stabilized, and that the revolutionary tide had receded, the Bolshevik leaders realized that economic life had been restored in Russia largely through private enterprise, and that major efforts would be needed to divert the Soviet system back to the Socialist rails. Plans for a gigantic and rapid industrialization of the country had been maturing for some years. To make them effective required another major change in policy. It was undertaken in 1928.
SECOND MAJOR SHIFT: "PEACEFUL COËXISTENCE WITH CAPITALIST STATES," 1928-1934
The new internal policy was called Socialist Offensive on All Fronts. Stalin's victory over Trotsky, the victory of "Socialism in one country alone" over "permanent revolution," was equivalent to the temporary renunciation of world revolution. To industrialize a huge country so backward in technique, and at the same time to force through the measures necessary for socialization, required above all a policy of peace. The Narkomindel was instructed to work out "peaceful coëxistence and friendly collaboration with capitalist countries." The avowed purpose was to obtain credits abroad and foreign technicians to aid in the socialist reconstruction of Russia by means of a series of Five Year Plans. Under the momentum of the Socialist offensive, the Soviet system weathered the economic depression beginning in 1929 better than most capitalist states. As one writer phrases it, "The Bolsheviks stole three years from history." At the end of the first Five Year Plan Socialism was pronounced "victorious." Russia was said to have built up the industrial bases of military defense and to have become independent in matters of foreign trade.
As Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Litvinov negotiated another series of non-aggression pacts, and demanded total disarmament at Geneva. At the London Economic Conference in 1933 he seemed to be the one constructive statesman present. Recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States followed. Bolshevism seemed to have become respectable.
The Comintern, in this period, was relatively quiet. The fear of capitalist intervention and encirclement nevertheless evoked a call to workers everywhere to "defend the Socialist fatherland." And in Germany the Comintern worked on lines parallel to those followed by the Nazis, thus hastening the arrival of the Nazis in power. To this extent it was in direct conflict with the Narkomindel policy of close economic relations with the social democracy of Germany.
The Bolsheviks did not have any illusions regarding the war purposes of the Nazis. At the 17th Party Congress, in January 1934, Stalin said that, "War will certainly unleash revolution, and will challenge the very existence of capitalism in a number of states." In the confused tactics that followed, Stalin's special concern was to see that the expected conflict between the Nazis and the Western Powers would not be converted into a general crusade against Soviet Russia. Hitler's rise to power, his persecution of Communists as well as Jews, and the reiterated Nazi intention of marching one day to the Ukraine and the Urals, necessitated another change in Bolshevik policy. Having built an industrial base for military defense, the Bolsheviks, for the first time, felt strong enough to participate in the balance of power politics of Western Europe.
THIRD MAJOR SHIFT: THE TACTIC OF COLLECTIVE SECURITY AGAINST FASCISM, 1934-1939
As the first gambit in the new tactic the Narkomindel was instructed to negotiate Russia's entry into the League of Nations. The treaties of mutual assistance with France and Czechoslovakia were made the year following, 1935. These were part of Barthou's scheme for an Eastern Locarno. It was Germany and Poland that held back. Russia had in effect shifted from the revisionist to the status quo group of Powers, and had become a stalwart pillar of collective security. Litvinov was an ardent supporter of the sanctions against Italy, and he also championed Turkey in legalizing remilitarization of the Straits at the Montreux Convention in 1936. His speeches at Geneva were perhaps the most eloquent and convincing of any ever delivered in the cause of collective security. The failure of his policies, however, became apparent at the time of Munich. The Russians were excluded from the negotiations and from the conference.
The Comintern swung into action on the new tactic at its 7th Congress, held in 1935. On that occasion it passed a resolution ordering national sections everywhere to coöperate with all groups opposed to Fascism and war. This resolution was the basis for the Front Populaire, which brought the Blum Government to power in France and proved to be the spark for the civil war in Spain. In France the conflicts between capital and labor led ultimately to the ruin and downfall of the French Republic. Everywhere Communist parties were instructed to campaign for support for the "Socialist fatherland," using the thesis of the so-called Peoples' Anti-Fascist Front. In speaking to the 18th Party Congress, in March 1939, Manuilsky, a member of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, reported that membership in Communist parties in capitalist countries had increased in the previous five years from 860,000 to 1,200,000 (the figure in the United States grew from 20,000 to 90,000), and in the Young Communist International and affiliates from 110,000 to 746,000. This made a revolutionary army abroad of nearly two millions.
Mystery still surrounds the duel between Hitler and Stalin in this period. Whatever the validity of the treason charges against older Bolsheviks like Bukharin and Rykov and against Marshal Tukhachevsky, and whatever the factor of Stalin's thrust for personal power, the immediate result was that the Old Bolsheviks were destroyed, the Red Army was decapitated, and a ruthless purge spread out through the Soviet rank and file in what seemed to be a colossal process of self-devourment. At the end Stalin became supreme dictator. But Russia, equipped with a new constitution called economic democracy, was for the time being incapacitated for war. This weakened condition at the moment of the final failure of collective security, combined with the encirclement of Soviet Russia by openly hostile Germany and Japan, made a new tactic inevitable.
FOURTH MAJOR SHIFT: THE TACTIC OF NEUTRALITY TO BREAK ENCIRCLEMENT, 1939-1941
Moscow was ominously silent during and after Munich. It is not yet known definitely whether the Bolsheviks would have joined in aid to Czechoslovakia in fulfillment of the 1935 pledge to follow the lead of France. But of this much students of Soviet foreign policy were sure -- that the Bolsheviks were likely to take Homeric retaliation for their exclusion from the Munich negotiations. And not merely did the British and French abandon collective security themselves; their spokesmen did not deny the general expectation that as a result of the Munich Agreement the Nazis would be diverted eastward into Russia. At this moment the Bolsheviks were confronted on one side with the threat of a German Drang nach Osten and on the other with the threat of a Japanese invasion.[i]
Stalin's first public utterance after Munich, in January 1939, showed by its acceptance of the Nazi seizure of the Sudetenland how the wind was blowing. Then came the seizure of Prague on March 15, 1939, which transferred equipment for forty divisions to the German side, a net gain for the Germans equivalent to eighty divisions. This changed the whole military balance of Europe. Stalin now spoke again, and even more leniently of the Nazis. Despite these warnings the Allied Governments in April gave guarantees to Poland and Rumania without consulting Moscow. Litvinov's resignation in early May should have given conclusive warning of a pending change in Soviet policy. Nevertheless, the Allies sent diplomatic and military missions to Moscow to enlist Bolshevik support. These missions utterly failed because they had no blue chips. Poland refused to entertain the idea of allowing the Red Army to cross Polish soil for the purpose of defending Poland against Germany. And the Allies refused to sanction a Russian guarantee of the Baltic states against the will of those states.
It was then that Stalin cast the die. In plans that had been maturing for months, he accepted the Nazi offer to share in the spoils in return for remaining neutral during the invasion of Poland. The pact was signed August 23, 1939. Molotov, who had succeeded Litvinov as Commissar for Foreign Affairs, was likewise a member of the Politbureau of the party. The policy of the Narkomindel and the Comintern had again become coördinated.
This action, which shifted Russia from the status quo camp back to the revisionist camp and ushered in the Second World War, had been heralded in the discussions of the Comintern. Manuilsky, in the speech quoted above, declared that Britain was the real enemy of the revolution. He said that she intended to sacrifice the small states, divert the Nazi push southeastward to Russia, partition China, and make a Munich peace in the Far East. The action likewise put the Soviet system back on the track to world revolution. The Comintern changed tactics in accordance with the new policy-- expansion for defense of the "Socialist fatherland" through coöperation with the various national sections of the Comintern. Eastern Poland was occupied by the Red Army, under the partition agreement with the Nazis. The process failed in Finland because the Finnish army prevented contact with the local Communists. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the process worked smoothly, beginning with treaties of mutual assistance and the acquisition of rights to naval and air bases in September and October 1939, and ending with annexation in June 1940, after the fall of France. Bessarabia and North Bukovina were acquired in July 1940 through old-fashioned power politics. Thus as a result of the Bolshevik-Nazi deal, the Comintern became an instrument for territorial expansion of the "Socialist fatherland."
Meanwhile the fellow travellers abroad, whose ideals had been outraged, began to drop off the revolutionary train. But not the professional revolutionists who compose the vast majority of the national sections of the Comintern. Their difficulty was simply to keep abreast of the "party line." In Britain, the Communist Party continued a pro-war policy until after the conquest of Poland. Then it turned defeatist, with a policy emulating that of Lenin in 1914: "Let the people of each country concentrate their attack on 'their own' government. The result will be, not the victory of one side or the other, but general international revolution and a Socialist peace." In New York, the Daily Worker continued its anti-Nazi attacks until the Red Army invaded Poland. Then it shifted to neutrality. After the partition accord it brought out a front page editorial entitled "Stop This Imperialist War!" Since that time no forthright anti-Fascist articles have appeared in any of the Communist papers abroad. And just as the German Communist Party worked in conjunction with the Nazis to bring about the downfall of the Weimar Republic, so the French Communist Party in 1939-1940 undermined the Daladier and Reynaud Governments in the hour of France's greatest peril, helping pave the way for the Nazi destruction of the French Republic itself. Just before May Day this year, to cap the climax, the Comintern issued from Moscow an appeal to "workers and people of capitalist countries to unite their efforts for a struggle against capitalism-breeding wars."
This revolutionary defeatism would seem to deny any assumption that the Bolsheviks would like to see the war continue to the point of exhaustion of both sides. But for the purpose of uniting workers of the world on behalf of a "Socialist peace" it is the same tactic employed by Lenin during the World War -- the tactic of world revolution.
Having temporarily broken the threat of encirclement in the West, and having redivided Eastern Europe with the Nazis, Stalin next sought to accomplish a similar result in the Far East. For two decades Russia and Japan have been moving towards a collision in Asia. From the moment of Japan's conquest of Manchuria in 1931, until the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936, Russia consistently sought a non-aggression pact. But the Bolshevik price had gone up. Finally the Soviet-Japanese Treaty of Neutrality, signed April 13, 1941, indicated that both parties agreed on the need to come to an arrangement. Whether or not the Nazis exerted pressure on both sides to make the agreement, it obviously was to their advantage that Japan should be free to engage the attention of the United States in the Western Pacific and thus divert American attention from the job of aiding Britain.
Under the strain of war in China, Japan had taken a definite plunge toward totalitarianism by dissolving political parties and trade unions in the summer of 1940. The Bolsheviks, thus encircled not by capitalism but by totalitarianism, have ample reason to fear that in a long war of attrition the Nazis will be compelled to seek oil and fats in Russia. They see that the real objective of the Nazi Balkan campaign might be the Ukraine, in order to gain control of the lower Volga, capture the oil wells of Baku and Grozny, and exploit the Ukrainian share of the Soviet Union's 30 million pigs. The longer the war lasts the greater the certainty that all the belligerents will be exhausted, thus insuring the progress of world revolution. But the likelihood also increases that the Nazis will demand the right to exploit Russian oil and fats, with or without Bolshevik consent. In these circumstances the decision of the Bolsheviks to abandon the risk of collision with Japan is as understandable as is Japan's decision to eliminate the risk of war with Russia in view of America's increasing preparations for war.
The Bolshevik gains from the pact with Japan are, on paper: neutralization of Japan in the event of a Nazi invasion of the Ukraine; recognition of Soviet control over Outer Mongolia; and freedom to move part of the Far Eastern military establishment back to the Western frontier. The latter might also imply freedom to take over Northern Iran, and otherwise to protect Soviet interests in the Middle East should the field of major hostilities extend to that area via Turkey or Syria.
The Japanese gains, on paper, are: escape from the obligation, implied in the alliance with Axis, to attack Russia in the event of a Nazi invasion of the Ukraine; neutralization of Russia if Japan engages in hostilities with Britain and the United States; recognition of Manchukuo; and freedom to move troops from the Russian frontier to Indo-China or other points south.
If there are secret clauses in the treaty we may presume that they take care of Russia's need for effective use of the former Chinese Eastern Railway as the short-cut to Vladivostok, and include an arrangement regarding Northern Manchuria, Southern Sakhalin, and even the Kurile Islands. It likewise may be presumed that Japan demanded that Russia cease giving supplies to Free China; but Moscow has denied making any such concession.
While as many ways can be found to interpret this treaty as being as much against the Axis as in favor of the Axis, it marks a new Bolshevik reorientation which contains certain long-range possibilities definitely unfavorable to Britain and the United States. Japan, Italy, Germany and Russia have joined in breaking down the international order, and have shared in the division of the spoils. While offering different versions of a "New Order," they have made common cause against the remaining democracies. They want to keep their spoils. They do not intend to disgorge them at some peace conference called by victorious democracies. If, rather than go to war, the Bolsheviks consent to let Nazi Germany exploit their oil and fats, then there might emerge the equivalent of a Eurasian bloc running from the North Sea to the Pacific, and down the Pacific coast to Saïgon, for the purpose of smashing the British Empire. Such a Eurasian bloc could probably withstand attrition from without for an indefinite period. The situation is further complicated by the revival of the split between the Kuomintang and the Communists in China. Should that chasm widen, not only would the united front of Chinese resistance to Japan be broken, but there might develop a Chinese tendency to break into three parts: (1) North China to south of the Yangtze, including the seaports, under the domination of Japan; (2) Northwest China, under the domination of Soviet Russia; (3) West and Southwest China, under the Kuomintang, and supported by Britain and America. Such a partitionment of China would be a prelude to civil war and social revolution.
As the war crisis deepens, social revolution becomes an increasing threat in Japan also. Her position today is not unlike that of Tsarist Russia in 1916, with war expenditures overtaxing the capacities of the treasury and social forces boiling up from below. Temporary relief from a desperate situation might be found in the full exploitation of Indo-China and of the oil and mineral resources of Southeast Asia. The ultimate victor in a long war of attrition might then well prove to be the Comintern. This is a vital point. Though revolution holds the field today both in Continental Europe and Asia, it as yet is only a cauchemar in a world sense. But the specter can be dispelled only by British victory or by a breakdown of the Bolshevik as well as the Nazi régime.
Let us try to make a few deductions. The Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. has never abandoned, and is not likely to abandon, its goal of world revolution and a World Federation of Soviet Socialist Republics. The various reversals in direction of Soviet foreign policy are merely moves in the basic strategy to that end. The shifts are determined by the internal problems of Russia (industrialization, socialization, periodic purges, etc.); by shifting values and pressures in the constellation of Powers; and by the flow and ebb of the revolutionary tide throughout the world. On occasions the Bolsheviks have been unable to distinguish a flow from an ebb (e.g., in Germany in 1923). At other times they have allowed their two instruments for the conduct of external relations to work at cross purposes.
Before 1921 the Narkomindel and the Comintern were coördinated in the tactic of world revolution to defeat the Allied intervention and to break the cordon sanitaire. Between 1921 and 1939 they were often in conflict. The Narkomindel promoted the official peace policies of truce with capitalism, peaceful coexistence with capitalist states, and collective security against Fascism. The Comintern meanwhile played a secondary rôle, although it was active at times in the internal politics of Great Britain, China, Germany, Spain and France. Since 1939 the Narkomindel and the Comintern have again been coördinated in pursuing the tactic of neutrality, the while Fascism carries out its world-wide assault on democracy.
Faced with such a record we recoil from any attempt to predict exactly what the next Bolshevik tactic will be. But we may note that the world revolutionary tide has been flowing again for ten years, and that it can hardly be expected to reach flood peak until the end of the present war. The general policy of the Bolsheviks is to gain time, and to rely on the revolutionary defeatism being busily propagated by the Comintern's two million members and affiliates abroad under cover of the alleged desire to bring about a "Socialist peace." The success of this policy is predicated on Russia's ability to keep out of the war. She faces the danger that in a long war of attrition the Nazis, pressed on by desperate need, will put up to Moscow the alternative of waging war or permitting the exploitation of Russian oil and fats. In that event the Nazis may again give Russia compensation, and we may see the process of redividing Eastern Europe extended to the Middle East, with the Red Army occupying Iran in a race toward India. Or, if forced to a final decision whether to fight the Nazis or coöperate with them fully, the Bolsheviks, putting all their faith in the inevitability of world revolution, may simply retire beyond the Urals and wait for the Germans to smother themselves in the Ukraine as they did in 1918. No one knows but Stalin, and Stalin does not cross bridges too soon.
On May 6, 1941, Stalin assumed the functions of Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. It is the post from which Lenin directed Soviet affairs during what is called the Homeric period of the revolution, when the Narkomindel and the Comintern were coördinated and the revolutionary tide was flowing. Today the Narkomindel and the Comintern again are coördinated; the revolutionary tide again flowing; and Soviet foreign policy and Communist world revolution again are one pattern.
[i] The Anti-Comintern Pact had been signed by Germany and Japan in November 1936, and joined by Italy a year later.