The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 2/An Appeal to the Russian Soviet

An Appeal to the Russian Soviet.

[The following open letter sent by Professor Masaryk to the Committee of Soldiers’ and Workmen’s Delegates was published by Russkoye Slovo, October 30th. It deals with the instructions given by the C. S. W. D. to its representative at the Paris Conference.]

“In the instructions there were laid down the bases for the future constitution of the whole world and, indirectly, of our people also. Consequently, I have the right to speak about them; it is also my duty, as the instructions violate the principle of self-determination of peoples, as accepted by the Russian Revolution, and also are opposed to democracy. The instructions hold to the principle of the self-determination of peoples and even establish the autonomy of Dobrudja (where there are 250,000 Turks), but say nothing about the Czechs and Slovaks, who number ten millions. The people of Hus and Komensky, a people not less cultured than its oppressors, is forgotten. The Roumanians of Hungary, who number more than three millions, and almost six millions of Jugoslavs are forgotten, while Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are part of the Jugoslav people, are separated from their own people.

“The principle of self-determination pre-supposes not only the freedom, but also the union of peoples. Here the instructions are opposed to the interests of a whole number of peoples; the Poles, the Czechoslovaks the Roumanians, the Jugoslavs, the Italians. Thus the instructions recognize in words the principle of self-determination of peoples, but in reality only propose its realization through existing States. Thus it accepts the superior importance of the State over that of nationality which is the fundamental view of German Imperialism, and is opposed even to the teachings of Socialism about the State, especially to the teachings of Engels and Marx. The instructions forget that nationality itself is social, as a people that is enslaved descends to the level of a cheap working class. For that reason, the Socialists of all countries recognize nationality; it is only the Scheidemanns and Bauers who incline towards the views of German Imperialism.

“The instructions which speak of self-determination of nations are opposed to the meaning of the principles proclaimed by the Russian Revolution. The instructions protect Austria-Hungary, forgetting that it is just this State which is the cause of the present terrible war, owing to its dishonorable Balkan policy. The authors of the instructions did not know that Austria-Hungary during the war has executed from thirty to sixty thousand people; they do not know that all the politicians and deputies from the Czecho-Slovak, Italian, and other peoples were imprisoned and condemned to death; they do not know that the Germans and the Magyars maintain their supremacy by open violence both at the elections and in the administration; they do not know that the peoples of Austria and Hungary have for centuries fought for freedom and independence. Austria-Hungary represents an open organization of violent rule by the minority over the majority, and the instructions defend even a mediaeval and an artificial State, defend a dynasty which, with the help of the army and of militarism, in alliance with a greedy aristocracy together with the Germans and the Magyars, keeps seven peoples in a state of slavery.

Being in a position to choose between a degenerate dynasty and seven free peoples (containing a population of more than 30 millions) the instructions have taken the side of the dynasty. At the same time the instructions also defend Prussia and her militarism, to which the Poles and Danes have been sacrificed.

Europe and mankind have been delivered from Russian Tsarism, but the Tsarisms of Prussia and Austria are to be preserved.

“The instructions wish to re-establish Belgium by means of an international fund, as though the Allies were guilty of the war just as much as Germany and Austria. The instructions make a quite incorrect distinction between an aggressive war and a war of defence. Without going into further criticisms I would contrast the instructions with the Note of the Allies to Wilson and the explanations of Wilson, Briand, Asquith, Lloyd George, and other politicians who have understood the meaning of the war, which was caused by German aggressiveness, and have quite openly proclaimed the democratic principle of equal rights for all peoples, not only for the great, but also for the small. A lasting peace cannot be realized until German and Austrian Imperialism is crushed; the division of Austria-Hungary into its natural national parts is in itself a fundamental war aim. The danger of German Imperialism lies in the fact that it disposes of the Hapsburgs and their Empire.

“I hope that when I return to Petrograd the Executive Committee of the C. W. S. D. will enable me to explain more fully the views of the Czecho-Slovaks on the conditions of a really lasting, just and democratic peace.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).