"Annexation means keeping an alien people by force within the bounds of a given state." Pravda No. 60, May 31 (18), 1917.
The editors of Izvestia, a paper controlled by the Narodnik and Menshevik bloc, are beating all records of muddledom. In that paper’s issue No.67 for May 16, they try to chop logic with Pravda, without, of course, mentioning its name—a usual ill-mannered “ministerial” practice. Pravda, we are told, has a foggy, misleading idea of annexations.
Begging your pardon, citizen-ministers and ministerial editors, but facts are facts, and the fact is that our Party was the only one to give a definition of annexation in official and carefully worded resolutions. Annexation means keeping an alien people by force within the bounds of a given state. No person able to read and understand Russian could fail to understand that on reading the Supplement to No. 13 of Soldatskaya Pravda (resolutions of the All-Russia Conference of April 24–29, 1917).
What exception do the Narodnik and Menshevik editors of Izvestia take to this? Simply this: that if our view were adopted it would be necessary to “keep on fighting until Germany is reduced to the Duchy of Brandenburg, and Russia to the Principality of Muscovy”! Annexation, the editors explain for the edification of their readers, “is the forcible seizure of territory which, on the day war was declared, belonged to another country” (in short: no annexations means status quo, that is, a return to the state of affairs that existed before the war).
It is careless, most careless, on the part of the Narodnik and Menshevik leaders of the Soviet’s Executive Committee to put such muddle-headed people in charge of a newspaper.
Let us apply to their definition the argument they used against us. Would we have to “keep on fighting until Russia recovered Poland, and Germany Togoland and her African colonies”? Palpable nonsense, nonsense from the practical as well as the theoretical point of view, since no soldier anywhere would think twice about dismissing any editors who argued in this way.
The flaw in their argument is this:
(1) The theoretical definition of annexation involves the conception of an “alien” people, that is, a people that has preserved its distinctive features and its will towards independent existence. Ponder this, fellow-citizens, and if it is still not clear to you, read what Engels and Marx had to say about Ireland, about Germany’s Danish territories, and the colonies—and you will realise how confused you are. The Duchy of Brandenburg and the Principality of Muscovy have nothing to do with it.
(2) To confuse the idea of annexation with the question of how long “to keep on fighting” is ridiculous; it means failure to grasp the connection that exists between war and the interests and rule of definite classes; it means abandoning the standpoint of the class struggle for the philistine “non-class” standpoint. So long as the capitalist class is in power the nations are bound “to keep on fighting” as Long as that class wants it. To think that one can escape this by wishes, demands, or conferences is the illusion of a petty bourgeois.
(3) So long as the capitalist class is in power, their peace is bound to be “an exchange of annexations”—Armenia for Lorraine, colony for colony, Galicia for Kurland, and so on. We can pardon an ignorant man for failing to see this, but not the editors of Izvestia.
(4) When the proletariat comes to power—and that is what the war is leading up to everywhere—then and only then will “peace without annexations” become possible.
When our Party speaks of “peace without annexations” It always explains—as a warning to muddle-headed people—that this slogan must be closely linked with the proletarian revolution. Only in connection with this revolution is it true and useful; it pursues only the revolution’s line, and works only for the revolution’s growth and development. To vacillate weakly between hopes in the capitalists and hopes in the workers’ revolution is to condemn oneself to impotence and muddle in the question of annexations.
P.S.Dyelo Naroda for May 17 agrees with Izvestia that “no annexations” is equivalent to status quo. Try and say that, gentlemen of the S.R. or Menshevik fold, say it clearly, precisely, and straightforwardly in the name of your party, your Petrograd Committee, your congress!
Source: Marxist Internet Archive