Is there a way to peace without an exchange of annexations, without the division of spoils among the capitalist robbers?
There is: through a workers’ revolution against the capitalists of the world.
Russia today is nearer to the beginning of such a revolution than any other country.
Only in Russia can power pass to existing institutions, to the Soviets, immediately, peacefully, without an uprising, for the capitalists cannot resist the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.
With such a transfer of power it would be possible to curb the capitalists, now making thousands of millions in profits from contracts, to expose all their tricks, arrest the millionaire embezzlers of public property, break their unlimited power.
Only after the transfer of power to the oppressed classes could Russia approach the oppressed classes of other countries, not with empty words, not with mere appeals, but calling their attention to her example, and immediately and explicitly proposing clear-cut terms for universal peace.
“Comrade workers and toilers of the world,” she would say in the proposal for an immediate peace. “Enough of the bloodshed. Peace is possible. A just peace means peace without annexations, without seizures. Let the German capitalist robbers and their crowned robber Wilhelm know that we shall not come to terms with them, that we regard as robbery on their part not only what they have grabbed since the war, but also Alsace and Lorraine, and the Danish and Polish areas of Prussia.
“We also consider that Poland, Finland, the Ukraine, and other non-Great-Russian lands were seized by the Russian tsars and capitalists.
“We consider that all colonies, Ireland, and so on, were seized by the British, French and other capitalists.
“We Russian workers and peasants shall not hold any of the non-Great-Russian lands or colonies (such as Turkestan, Mongolia, or Persia) by force. Down with war for the division of colonies, for the division of annexed (seized) lands, for the division of capitalist spoils!”
The example of the Russian workers will be followed inevitably, perhaps not tomorrow (revolutions are not made to order), but inevitably all the same by the workers and all the working people of at least two great countries, Germany and France.
For both are perishing, the first of hunger, the second of depopulation. Both will conclude peace on our terms, which are just, in defiance of their capitalist governments.
The road to peace lies before us.
Should the capitalists of England, Japan and America try to resist this peace, the oppressed classes of Russia and other countries will not shrink from a revolutionary war against the capitalists. In this war they will defeat the capitalists of the whole world, not just those of the three countries lying far from Russia and taken up with their own rivalries.
The road to a just peace lies before us. Let us not be afraid to take it.
June 20 1917
Source: Marxist Internet Archive