Socialism and Diplomacy

Class Solidarity Best Defense of Workers' States

December 15, 1971


One of the most disorienting aspects of the present war between India and Pakistan is the diplomatic support being given the contending sides by the USSR on the one hand, and the People's Republic of China on the other. Both socialist countries have gone far beyond the diplomatic niceties necessary to maintain normal relations with capitalist countries and have wholeheartedly endorsed the policies of the ruling classes of India and Pakistan respectively.

The Soviet leaders, who are echoed in this country by the CP organ, the Daily World, are claiming to support "democratic" India as against the military dictatorship ruling Pakistan. At the same time, the Chinese leaders have, in effect, underwritten the slaughter of the Bengali people by holding that the rebellion of the oppressed East Bengalis is a purely internal problem for Pakistan.

In the midst of all the thundering against each other, both socialist countries have failed to give ideological leadership to the world revolutionary movement. Neither has pointed out that both India and Pakistan are ruled by equally oppressive capitalist classes. Neither has defended the right of the Bengali people to self-determination, without interference from either India or Pakistan.

This kind of blank-check approval given a bourgeois government has long been characteristic of the foreign policy of the conservative Soviet bureaucracy. Fully endorsing the rule of Egyptian President Sadat while he jails Egyptian Communists is only one example in a long history of betrayals of the international working class movement by the Soviet revisionists in their quest for class collaboration and peaceful coexistence with imperialism.

Many supporters of the socialist revolution have looked to revolutionary China for a more militant defense of the world's workers and oppressed in their struggles for liberation. It was therefore with a sense of profound disappointment that we noted China's support for the bloody repression carried out by Yahya Khan's government against the people of East Bengal. A message sent to Yahya Khan by Premier Chou En-lai only further confirms China's endorsement of the suppression of the Bengali liberation movement.


Printed in the "Pakistan Times" on April 13,1971, the message read in part:

"Your Excellency and leaders of various quarters in Pakistan have done a lot of useful work to uphold the unification of Pakistan and to prevent it from moving towards a split We believe that through the wise consultations and efforts of Your Excellency and leaders of various quarters in Pakistan, the situation in Pakistan will certainly be restored to normal. In our opinion, the unification of Pakistan and the unity of the people of East and West Pakistan are the basic guarantees for Pakistan to attain prosperity and strength. Here it is most important to differentiate the broad masses of the people from a handful of persons who want to sabotage the unification of Pakistan. As a genuine friend of Pakistan, we would like to present these views for Your Excellency's reference. . . .

"The Chinese Government holds that what is happening in Pakistan at present is purely an internal affair of Pakistan, which can only be settled by the Pakistan people themselves and which brooks no foreign interference whatsoever. Your Excellency may rest assured that should the Indian expansionists dare to launch aggression against Pakistan, the Chinese Government and people will, as always, firmly support the Pakistan Government and people in their just struggle to safeguard state sovereignty and national independence."

It was perfectly correct for China to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan in an attempt to break out of its isolation and also as a way of neutralizing U.S. influence there. It was absolutely principled for the Chinese government to attempt to break up the SEATO alliance between the U.S. and Pakistan which was a threat to People's China. That is fighting U.S. imperialism! Even giving economic aid in order to minimize U.S. influence in Pakistan was correct in principle.

However, in any such diplomatic maneuver, it is essential for a socialist country to keep in mind not only its own interests, but the interests of the workers and peasants in other countries who are struggling against bourgeois regimes. But when Chou En-lai publicly and unequivocally supported Yahya Khan's repression in East Bengal, diplomatic relations with Pakistan turned into an endorsement of a genocidal war against an oppressed people.

For both the Soviet Union and China to back the policies of India and Pakistan respectively can only disorient the revolutionary movements fighting in those countries against their own ruling classes. What effect, for example, can China's support for Yahya Khan have on the revolutionaries among the Bengali people? Disillusionment with the socialist powers and downright demoralization among the revolutionaries of India, East Bengal, and even West Pakistan are the very real dangers of following such a short-sighted policy.


This kind of diplomacy is a far cry from the example set by Lenin's government in 1918 when it was forced to sign the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. The terms of the treaty with German imperialism were clearly unfavorable to the new Soviet government which was forced to cede territory (the whole of the Ukraine) to the German bourgeoisie. In signing such a pact with Germany, however, Lenin did not once try to pretty up the character of the German ruling class or rationalize that Germany was any better than any of the other European imperialist powers.

Lenin faced the problem squarely, explaining to the world proletariat that the treaty had been signed with the imperialist enemy only in order to save the revolution in the Soviet Union. And most important of all Lenin's clear policy at the talks was to urge the German working class to carry forward the struggle for a proletarian revolution. The fact that they were negotiating with the German imperialist government at the time did not mean that the Bolsheviks gave up the prosecution of the class struggle for one moment.

So important did Lenin consider an explanation of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty to the world proletariat, that on August 20,1918, he wrote an open letter to American workers pointing out that the "predatory German capitalists" had "foisted the annexationist and coercive Brest-Litovsk Peace on Russia."

Lenin explained that the compromise with the "German imperialist robbers" was not a compromise by socialists with the bourgeoisie against the workers. It was a compromise aimed at protecting the victory of the Russian working class, aimed at dividing the capitalist classes of different countries against one another, to try to weaken the bourgeoisie everywhere.


The letter ends with a call for the American workers and the world proletariat to carry forward the class struggle. "We place our stakes on the inevitability of the international revolution," Lenin said. "We are invincible, for the world revolution is invincible."

Today, both the USSR and China are claiming that their national security depends on alliances with the ruling classes of India and Pakistan. But as Lenin's policy showed, the security of the socialist countries ultimately depends on the strength of the workers and oppressed peoples of the world in their struggle against imperialism. Will history show that any alliances with the historically doomed ruling classes of India or Pakistan helped the socialist countries in any significant way?

The best defense for the Soviet Union and People's China is the prosecution of the revolution in East Bengal, Pakistan, and India, and, of course, the destruction of imperialism by the workers and oppressed people all over the world.

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