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Title: Latvia & Russia - One problem of the world-peace considered
Author: Bergs, Arveds Karlis Kristaps
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  (_Member of the National Council of Latvia_)





  The World-Peace and the Civil War in Russia                          9

  The Paris Conference faced by the Russian Sphinx                    10

  The Representatives of Russia                                       11

  Relations between Russia and the Borderland
  Peoples                                                             13

  Proposal to postpone the Solution concerning “the
  Borderland Peoples of Russia”                                       14

  Practical Consequences of the Postponing of the
  Question                                                            16

  It is doubtful whether the Russian People will soon be in a
    Position to participate in the Solution of these Questions        18

  Right of the Russian People to participate in the Solution
    of the Lettish Question                                           23

  A Definite and Immediate Solution of the Question of Latvia is
    necessary                                                         26

  The Reconstitution of Russia                                        27

  Project of an All-Russian Federation                                28

  Point of View of the Russian Groups in regard to the Federation
    of Russia                                                         29

  Impossibility of a Russian Federation                               33

  Historical Impossibility of an All-Russian Federation               34

  A Common Civilisation, indispensable to a Federation, does not
    exist                                                             36

  The Economic Problem of a Federated Russia                          40

  The All-Russian Federation from the Point of View of
    Constitutional Law                                                44

  The Leaning of the Peoples of Russia towards Independence           49

  Economic Disadvantage of Separation from Russia                     50

  Settlement of Accounts between Latvia and Russia                    51

  Economic Interests of Latvia                                        53

  Aspirations of the Letts                                            55

  Protests of the Russian Groups                                      58

  Economic Interests of Russia                                        59

  Strategical Interests of Russia                                     62

  Guarantees of the World-Peace                                       70

  Principle of Political Equilibrium                                  70

  Russia as a Factor in Political Equilibrium                         71

  Internal Weakness of Russia                                         72

  Political Leanings of Russia towards Germany                        74

  Russia as a Probable Destroyer of the World-Peace                   77

  Russia’s Policy in the Baltic                                       79

  The Political Rôle of the New States                                83

  The Dominium maris Baltici                                          86

  Line of Partition between Russia and Germany                        87

  Conclusion                                                          90




No world-peace is possible before peace in Russia is re-established!
Indeed, how can we talk of universal peace when 180 million men are
still in the throes of a most disastrous and terrible war, a war which
leads, not to victory, but to annihilation?

There will be no peace in the world if there is no peace in Russia, for
the boiling lava in eruption may well submerge the whole of Europe at
any moment. That is why the Paris Conference will remain powerless if
it cannot terminate the civil war in Russia. All that the Conference
has done and is doing at the present time will be brought to nothing
and will be a waste of time unless a normal and peaceful state of
things is established in Eastern Europe. Until the Peace Conference
has settled these questions, humanity will continue to be overshadowed
by the menace of such a catastrophe that the disasters of the four
years of war will appear in comparison as mere child’s play.


The Peace Conference finds itself facing the Russian sphinx, whose
problems a mind of western culture can neither comprehend nor solve.

The agglomeration of heterogeneous peoples in Russia leaves the
ragged Hapsburg empire far behind. In Russia you have the complicated
psychology of the Oriental, barely intelligible to his western brother.
You have also the tangled economic questions and the centuries-old
crimes of corrupt governments, the devastation of a world-war, and
still more the material and moral destruction brought about by the
awakening instincts of the half-barbaric masses which call themselves
Bolsheviki. And all this is intermingling and boiling over in an
indescribable chaos which even the liveliest imagination could not


There is no lack of amateurs ready to solve the riddle of the Russian
sphinx. Each government represented at the Peace Conference possesses
its own point of view on the Russian question; each political party,
each organ of the Press has its own remedy for saving Russia. Nor is
that all, for there are Orientals who have come to plead on behalf of
their Fatherland before the world’s Forum. Russia teems with people
and opinions, so each group of the crowd assembled in Paris brings
forward a programme of salvation. There is the RUSSIAN POLITICAL
CONFERENCE, consisting of Sazonoff, Tzarist ex-Minister of Foreign
Affairs; the prince Lvoff, ex-Premier; Tchaikovsky, President of
the NORTH RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT, and Maklakoff, ex-Ambassador
of Russia under the Provisional Government. This Conference has a
theorist, an ex-director of the Juridical Department of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of Russia under the Provisional Government, M.
André Mandelstam, who has published a series of pamphlets in which
he sets forth the theoretical and practical bases of the views of
the Russian Political Conference. Outside this Conference, Kerensky,
ex-Premier, is busying himself; and with him, Avksentieff, Zenzinoff,
Argounoff, Rogovsky, Minor, Sokoloff, Slonin, all members of the
All-Russian Constituent Assembly. We find also the PARIS SECTION
LEAGUE. Add to these the representatives of the government of
Admiral Koltchak and of General Denikin. From the South of Russia comes
Schreider, ex-mayor of Petrograd, at present the president of the
“Committee of the South,” who was compelled to leave the four other
members of his delegation behind on the Prinkipo island. Finally, to
close the name-list, there is A. N. Briantchaninoff, “Chairman of
the Slav Congress in Moscow and of the Russian National Committee
in London.” In the _Pages Modernes_ are collaborating Savinkoff, L.
Andreeff, Strouve, etc. Briefly, the Russian chaos is completely enough
represented, and the plans of salvation are not lacking.


The problems which the following pages deal with are somewhat more
modest in comparison with the Russian imbroglio. They are those
concerning the so-called “borderland peoples of Russia,” _i.e._,
nationalities which have for a long time suffered under the Russian
domination, which have been relegated to second and third class, and
which, quite tired of this intolerable position, are looking for a
better lot and greater possibility of development in an independent
national life, by means of separation from Russia.

They have formed, for that purpose, a series of small independent
States desirous of getting their independence recognised by the Peace
Conference, which, in solving the riddle of the Russian sphinx, will
have to pronounce the decisive word on this question. Every one, be he
Russian or a representative of the nationalities, is trying to solve
this question in accordance with his point of view. The aim of the
following pages is to elucidate it from the point of view of Latvia.[1]


Let us first consider the proposals of the RUSSIAN POLITICAL
CONFERENCE:--“The question of the Russian borderland peoples must
be postponed until it can be decided with the co-operation of the
Russian people, for the questions relating to the future status of the
nationalities included within the borders of ancient Russia cannot be
solved outside the Russian people and without their consent.” That is
what the Russian Political Conference proposed in its note of the 6th
March, 1919--the solution of the problem must be postponed as long as
the Russian people is not in a position to make its will fully known
and to take part in the settlement of these questions.

Evidently perceiving how impossible this proposal is, the Russian
Political Conference is considering a compromise, and proposes “to
apply in the meantime, before a definite settlement is arrived at, a
provisional régime in accordance with the present necessities” of the
States that have separated themselves from Russia, but “no definite
solution should intervene.” In other words, the Russian Political
Conference proposes to recognise the _de facto_ governments of the
States detached from Russia on the condition that, in an undetermined
future, the Russian people, expressing its will by the voice of
the Constituent Assembly or by other means, shall say the final and
decisive word.


It is supremely clear that this compromise of the Russian Political
Conference would not give any practical solution, either at the present
time or in the near future. The proof of this is in Latvia’s desperate
struggles on two fronts--against the Bolsheviki who have thrown
themselves on her, and against the German army of occupation which has
no wish at all to surrender the territory. In such circumstances, of
what importance would be the recognition of the _de facto_ situation?
Moral help is indispensable; besides, it is necessary to have a solid
juridical basis, recognised by the Powers, in order to exact from the
Bolsheviki and the Germans, not another _de facto_ situation in the
place of the one they have caused, but the substitution of Right for
their illegal tyranny. Without this, the success of the struggle
against the Bolsheviki and the Germans would become impossible, or
at least more complicated. Consequently, arms and munitions become
indispensable. Were they supplied by the governments backing up the
Letts, means for the equipment and maintenance of the army would yet be
lacking. These means cannot be obtained if the country does not provide
its own finances, which in turn cannot be established until the State
is judicially recognised. Strong in such a recognition, the Lettish
army, for instance, would long since have occupied Riga and delivered
it from the Bolshevist tyranny, but it simply dared not do it because
of the lack of revictualling for the inhabitants. Assuredly, who
would risk delivering goods on credit without knowing who is legally
responsible for the debts? To be successful in the struggle it would
be indispensable to restore the means of transport, the communications
destroyed by the Bolsheviki, and to replace the rolling stock carried
away by the Germans. But who would concern himself with that and
invest his capital in such an enterprise if there is no one judicially
responsible, and if one does not know to whom the country is to belong
and who is to rule it in the future?

The recognition of the present situation would in no way help the
Lettish people to hasten its resurrection, so that it represents no
progress towards the practical solution of the question in dispute.


Of necessity, one could come to an agreement on this point if it were
possible to foresee that such a situation would not last too long,
but would soon disappear in the presence of durable and well-defined
juridical relations. But this cannot be foreseen by anybody if the
Lettish question is made dependent on the Russian people. Who would
venture to affirm that the Russian people will soon be in a position
to manifest freely its will and share in the settlement of these

Admiral Koltchak, for instance, has obtained, on certain conditions
accepted by him, the promise of support from the Allied and Associated
Powers, and he is backed up by the Russian Political Conference. But
he is as yet only in Siberia; much time will elapse before he reaches
the Volga, and from there Moscow is yet far; but after all Moscow is
not the whole of Russia. Meanwhile, in the South, the Bolsheviki have
decided, it appears, to give final battle to Admiral Koltchak. Even
supposing that Admiral Koltchak wins the most brilliant of victories,
much time will pass before tranquillity returns to the country, before
he succeeds in re-establishing the administrative machinery, and a
Constituent Assembly is elected in which the “Russian people will be in
a position to make its will known freely.”

Even leaving these arguments aside, can one be sure that the government
of Admiral Koltchak and the Constituent Assembly convened by him will
be recognised as authoritative and as the expression of the free
will of the Russian people? It is evident that in no case will this
happen without the hottest opposition. Kerensky and his above-named
colleagues, the Paris Section of the Union for Russian Regeneration,
and the Russian Republican League in their declaration (_Humanité_,
21st May, 1919) say, evidently aiming at the party of Koltchak, “It is
necessary that the governments of the free peoples declare openly that
they will never recognise, in Russia, any government whatsoever which
is a dictatorship of one man or of a group and does not acknowledge
the principle of popular sovereignty nor take the essential measures
for its realisation.” In another direction, the Russian National and
Democratic Union (_Bloc_), comprising the various leagues set up for
the regeneration of Russia, protests violently against the conditions
imposed by the Allied and Associated Powers on Admiral Koltchak and
accepted by him (_Patrie_, 15th June, 1919). So the future opposition
to the future Russian government is already there, and even makes an
appeal for support to all the free peoples. But who can say definitely
that with this support either Kerensky or Koltchak will be in a
position to get the upper hand?

And again, should the government of Lvov-Kerensky, or simply that of
the latter alone, be recognised as enjoying legal continuity?

It is doubtful that the Russian Political Conference and Admiral
Koltchak are agreed. M. A. N. Briantchaninoff, the Chairman of the
Slav Congress in Moscow and of the Russian National Committee in
London, talks openly of the unheard-of inability of the Lvov-Kerensky
and Co. government (_Daily Telegraph_, 24th May, 1919). And the
All-Russian Constituent Assembly of the 5th January, 1918, under the
famous presidency of M. V. Tchernoff, which included Messrs. Lenin
and Trotsky? But M. Gregory Schreider proves that the members of the
Constituent Assembly of 5th January, 1918, were shot by order of
Admiral Koltchak (_Daily Telegraph_, 28th May, 1919). Koltchak would
perhaps like to continue in the same way. In any case, before taking
up the case of Latvia, the Constituent Assembly would have to decide
the question of summoning Admiral Koltchak to judgment; and that might
take up much time, considering the complexity of the question and the
bias of the representatives of the Russian people, entailing debates
of indefinite length. Consequently, whoever the candidate may be whose
power will be recognised as expressing the free will of the Russian
people, one may be quite confident that a violent struggle will ensue
against him. For, to talk of free expression of the will of the people,
either with or without the assistance of a foreign commission, in a
country devastated by war and corrupted by Bolshevism, is naturally
inadmissible until the most elementary order is established and the
billows of political passion have subsided. And thus years will pass
by, during which the question of the countries detached from Russia
will remain without solution.


Outside the purely practical reasons, there is a matter of principle;
and looking more closely at the proposal of the Russian Political
Conference, one cannot but be amazed by it. By what right do they claim
that the question of the Lettish people “cannot be solved without
Russian knowledge and consent”? Who made the Lettish people Slaves of
the Russians? Who made the Russians guardians of the Letts? President
Wilson has declared the equality of nations and their equal right to
dispose of themselves. The second paragraph of President Wilson’s
message of the 22nd January, 1917, says: “The equality of nations on
which peace must be founded in order to be durable, must imply the
equality of rights; the exchanged guarantees must neither recognise nor
imply a difference between the big nations and the small, between those
that are powerful and those that are weak.” In the speech delivered on
the 27th September, 1918, Wilson declares: “The impartial justice we
want should not make any difference between those in regard to whom we
are willing to be just and those in regard to whom we are not willing
to be just. It should be a justice not knowing any favouritism, but
only the equal rights of the different peoples.” Then, after such clear
declarations on the part of President Wilson, can one who declares
himself in agreement with this theory and expresses (like the note
of the Russian Political Conference) his sympathy with the peoples
detached from Russia, can he require the other nations to wait and not
proceed with the restoration of their affairs until the Russian people
has had the leisure to manifest its opinion? And, after the Lettish
people have got rid of Bolshevism at the price of inconceivable efforts
and have, with the assistance of the Allies, liberated Latvia from the
German armies of occupation, and when they have finally succeeded in
restoring their economic and intellectual life, by what right would
the Russians, recovering themselves and facing a problematical future,
arrogate to themselves the authority to possess and rule a people
for the regeneration of which they have not moved a finger? Granted
the right of the nations to dispose of themselves, how could the
Russian Constituent Assembly or the government of Admiral Koltchak be
competent to decide the fate of the Lettish people and yet the Lettish
Constituent Assembly or the Peace Conference be incompetent--the latter
having already decided the destiny of many races?

To all these painful questions there is only one possible answer:
Would not the Russian Political Conference admit that at the bottom
of its proposition there shows itself all too clearly a point of view
habitual to the old Tzarist régime, according to which the borderland
peoples have no other right than to be the object of the dominant
nation’s rights? But with such opinions, borrowed from the old Tzarist
régime’s domestic habits or home-policy, it would simply not be safe
to appear before the Peace Conference, which has proclaimed a just and
happy future for all peoples, inaugurating a new era of international
justice. Undoubtedly, the Russian Political Conference is cruelly
deceived, both in regarding their proposition as “a practical way out
of the present situation,” and even in thinking they have given “a real
proof of the new spirit of Russia.” In point of fact, there is neither
a new spirit nor a practical solution of the question.


The question of the formation of a State for the Lettish people must
be settled definitely and as soon as possible. The Lettish people can
claim it as a right, for it finds itself in the first rank of the
peoples who have suffered from the war. The interests of the other
nations also require it, for they will feel the greater security the
fewer undecided questions there are, the fewer centres of trouble and

The definite solution can be arrived at in two ways: either by the
reconstitution of Russia in her former boundaries, excluding perhaps
Poland, which would find its ethnographic frontiers again, and that is
the proposal of the Russian Political Conference, of M. A. Mandelstam,
and other people and institutions pretending to represent the Russian
people; or by the absolute recognition of the independence of the
peoples which have separated themselves from Russia, and that is what
their representatives are working for.


However, M. A. Mandelstam, the literary idealist of the Russian
Political Conference, declares, in his _Memorandum on the Delimitation
of the Rights of States and Nations_ (Paris, 1919), that the interests
of the countries detached from Russia, their right to free development
of their economic and intellectual culture, will be guaranteed and
can only be guaranteed by their reunion with Russia. This reunion, he
adds, is necessary not only in the interests of Russia, but also in the
interests of these same countries.


It is certain that they do not propose the reconstitution of the
old Tzarist régime, which, according to M. A. Mandelstam, is no
less detested by the Russian people than by those of the border
countries; their aim is rather to form a new Russia built on a quite
different foundation and distinguished by a perfect justice towards
all the peoples inhabiting her territory. “Russia, emerging from the
Revolution,” says the Russian Political Conference, “and definitely
divorced from the centralising tendencies of the old régime, is largely
disposed to satisfy the legitimate wish of these nationalities to
organise their national life. The new Russia does not conceive her
reconstitution otherwise than in a free co-existence of the peoples
forming part of her, on the principles of autonomy and federalism.” And
M. A. Mandelstam, forgetting that it is very difficult for him, not
being of Russian origin himself, to speak and make promises in the name
of the Russian people, asserts: “The Russian people has never been
in agreement with the old Russian policy in regard to the borderland
peoples, and has always suffered with them from the same absence of
political rights. It will only wish to be allowed to work side by side
with its non-Russian brethren, mindful of their rights as it will be of
its own.... The common life could be organised on the basis of autonomy
or on that of the federative principle, or else on that of union. In
any case, the borderland peoples would no longer need to fear any
attacks on their personality on the part of New Russia.”


No doubt, there are many good intentions and nice promises abroad; but
nevertheless we will allow ourselves slightly to doubt their perfect
sincerity, be it only in regard to some of the representatives of the
Russian groups.

How, for instance, do they reconcile this crop of promises with the
following facts? When, at the beginning of the year 1917, _i.e._,
even before the Revolution, the Lettish deputies in the Imperial Douma
raised the question of self-government for Latvia, M. Miliukoff,
then the all-powerful genius of the Progressive Coalition (_Bloc_),
expressed a hostile opinion on this question, and underlined it with
the following words: “Then it will be necessary to grant autonomy
even to the Samoyedes!” When, the same year, but already after
the Revolution, under the régime of Kerensky, the law concerning
self-government for the Baltic provinces was in elaboration, and
the Lettish deputies pointed out the absolute necessity of fusion,
compact and with well-defined boundaries, of all the territories
inhabited by the Letts, in a unity of self-government without which the
development of the Lettish civilisation would become difficult, the
Russian Government replied with a refusal, based on the inconvenience
of altering the existing departmental boundaries. More recently, in
the _Pall Mall Gazette_ of May 6th, 1919, M. C. Nabokoff, emphasising
his status as a Russian diplomatic representative in London, puts the
Letts and Esthonians in the same rank as the negroes of Texas. Their
leaning towards autonomy is described by him as a “self-determination
in a nursery,” and he regards the Letts and Esthonians as “victims
of Teutonic propaganda,” to which he, M. C. Nabokoff, will never and
in no circumstances submit. Consequently, as regards the promises of
the Russian Political Conference and the assurances of M. Mandelstam,
we have testimonies of the representatives of the different Russian
political groups at different periods in their different situations,
before the Revolution, after the Revolution, and after the second
Revolution; testimonies, thoughtless perhaps, and ill-calculated, but
so much the more sincere.

However, the “Russian diplomatic representative in London,” who, from
the service of the Tzarist government, has gone over, without much
effort, to that of the government represented by M. Mandelstam--after
having acquired a fuller knowledge of Texas, and even without this,
will be quite willing to change his views about the Letts and the
Esthonians in accordance with the views and intentions of his new
chiefs. No doubt M. Miliukoff, who has been able to master his
antipathy to Germany, will, for reasons of necessity, vanquish also his
aversion for the self-government of Latvia. But how can the Lettish
people, or the Peace Conference as it decides the fate of nations, be
assured that in the future and under new conditions, Messrs. Nabokoff
and Miliukoff will not reconvert M. Mandelstam, Admiral Koltchak, etc.,
along with themselves and the Russian Political Conference? Can one
expect the Lettish people or the Peace Conference to have faith in
their word when the Russian groups themselves have not full confidence
in one another?

Kerensky and his colleagues do not believe a bit in the promises of
Admiral Koltchak in regard to the convening of the Constituent Assembly
on a democratic basis. M. A. N. Briantchaninoff categorically rejects
M. Kerensky. M. Miliukoff, as it appears, professes no confidence in
the Constituent Assembly presided over by V. Tchernoff, and Admiral
Koltchak even shoots its members, which crime M. Schreider will never
forgive him. If there exists such a complete mistrust among the Russian
groups in regard to one another, if people who know the valuable
qualities of their fellow-countrymen release floods of accusations on
one another, what faith is it possible to have, I will not say in the
sincerity of their promises, but in the possibility of fulfilling them?


Besides personal confidence or mistrust, there are also much deeper
reasons of an objective kind which clearly show that the promises
of the Russian groups are, in spite of their good will, absolutely
unrealisable. One would need to be imbued with an absolute Bolshevist
disregard for the laws of historical continuity to admit that Russia,
by the mere force of a decree and solely by the good will of honest
people, will straightway pass from being a country subject to Tzarist
despotism and unaccustomed to the respect of rights, of personality,
and of nationalities, to a régime of equality of rights and justice
for all. There are no big jumps in History; and if they are attempted,
they are paid for grievously. The proof of this is afforded by the
happenings in Russia, which, it was boasted, had passed without
bloodshed from the autocratic régime of the Tzar to the “freest régime
in the world”--the Lvov-Kerensky régime; but streams of blood and
unheard-of cruelties have followed. Russia has fallen to ruins under
the despotic régime of Lenin and Trotsky.


The history of centuries, customs and habits, rooted usages and
popular psychology are much more effectual than the best intentions
and decrees, which in the most favourable circumstances can only bring
about an external change. But under the mask of the latter the Past
continues to exist. We have already shown that in the proposal itself
of the Russian Political Conference, under a new phraseology, there is
concealed at the bottom the psychology of the Tzarist bureaucracy, of
which the Russian Political Conference has not succeeded in freeing
itself. If the old psychology is so sturdy in the minds of the best
sons of Russia, who are accustomed to direct themselves according to
the best theoretical conceptions, and who have been brought up in
the atmosphere of European ideas, what then can be expected from the
over-excited instincts of ignorant masses reared in utter contempt of
another’s personality and rights?

It is certain that the rebirth of Russia will coincide with an
extraordinary upheaval of the nationalist wave, a quite natural
upheaval after the humiliation of national dignity suffered by Russia,
an upheaval of which all that is foreign and non-Russian will be
the inevitable victim. This wave will clear the ground for Messrs.
Mandelstam, Sazonoff, Kerensky, Schreider, etc. M. C. Nabokoff will
incontestably allow himself to be carried away by that wave, and if
Admiral Koltchak and General Denikin do not, at least those that will
come after them, perhaps M. Briantchaninoff, will benefit by it.


What will be the effect of this Chauvinist wave on the All-Russian
Federation planned by the Russian groups, and composed of a series of
national States? In accordance with the laws of reaction, the Russian
nationalist upheaval will call forth a similar movement in the other
nationalities of the Russian Federation. Besides, these peoples are
even now in different stages of civilisation. They are being besought
from various directions, and the exasperation of the national feeling
in each of them will set up another and a still more sensitive
difference. There will not be that spiritual community without which a
free co-existence is inconceivable. This spiritual community did not
exist under the Tzarist régime, which however tried to create it by
enforced russification, going even so far as to prohibit the use of the
mother-alphabet and the public use of the mother-language, and ordering
that teaching in the elementary schools should be given in Russian to
children who did not understand a word of it. By such proceedings, a
kind of spiritual community among the peoples of Russia has indeed been
created; no one doubts it--there is unanimous opposition against such
means of furthering Russian civilisation.

No harmony of civilisation could exist, even in the projected
All-Russian Federation. Within its limits there would be nations which,
owing to favourable geographical situation and greater activity, have
long led the intensive life of western civilisation; and there would
also be peoples which are as yet in the first stage of civilisation.

For instance, what harmony is it possible to imagine as existing
between the Letts and the Samoyedes of M. Miliukoff, or between the
Esthonians and the Fetishists of Siberia? Russia is populated by
nations unable to understand one another, not only on account of the
difference of language, but also because of the contrasting customs
and habits, ideas, religious creeds, and popular psychology. No one of
these nationalities possesses such a strong preponderance in the matter
of numbers and civilisation, nor such powerful influence, that the
other peoples should submit to it of their own free will.

M. Victoroff-Toporoff finds (_Pages Modernes_, No. 1, April, 1919,
p. 24) that there is something which unites all the nationalities
of Russia--“the great intellectual force of the people of Greater
Russia,” which through the medium of masterpieces of the famous
Russian teachers and writers, has spread broadcast among all the
peoples of Russia. It is certain that no one will try to minimise
the importance of Russian literature, nor dispute the place which is
its due among the literatures of the world. But Russian literature
by itself is not yet world-literature, and the literature of other
nations as well has exercised an enormous influence on the peoples of
Russia. For instance, the influence of the French masters on Lettish
culture is far stronger than that of Russian art. But apart from this,
each nationality detached from Russia has its national literature,
which we all admit does not perhaps possess great masterpieces like
Russian literature, but has nevertheless its individual character, and
consequently stands nearer and dearer to its people and is capable of
greater influence on it than all the masterpieces of foreign art.

The All-Russian Federation has no common basis for its diverse members
in the field of civilisation. Consequently, there are two courses open
to it:--either to give to each people the liberty of development, in
which case the nationalities would very soon disperse intellectually in
all directions; or to revive the russifying centralist tendencies, the
likelihood of which is made evident by the expected rising of Russian
chauvinism. In both cases there remains nothing of the Federation.


If between the peoples of Russia there are no interests in common as
regards intellectual culture, there is still less in common in the
economic relationships of the different parts of Russia.

It is well known that Russia, since the ministries of Vishnegradsky
and Witte, leaned more and more consciously towards the protectionist
system; and having created the autonomous Customs tariff of 1893,
leaned towards the creation Of a self-supporting economic unit. This
policy was based on balancing the agricultural interests on the one
side and the industrial interests on the other. Industry was protected
at the expense of agriculture, but without exceeding the limits which
allowed the world’s markets to be preserved for Russian agricultural
products, for otherwise this would have led to the destruction of
Russia’s commercial equilibrium. This was a quite reasonable policy,
and indispensable from the point of view of a one and indivisible
Russia with an economic system completely centralised. And this policy,
supposing its necessity, must be reverted to in a reunited Russia.

But it is also quite clear that to the interests of this policy,
indispensable to a self-sufficient economic unit, important interests
of the different parts of Russia have been sacrificed. For instance,
the corn-growing central provinces of Russia have lost the English
market, with difficulty retaining the much less profitable market in

On the other hand, Latvia, in no way interested in the export of
cereals, was obliged, in order to assist the Russian grain export,
and in virtue of the commercial treaties concluded between Russia and
Germany in 1894 and 1904, to submit to concessions in regard to German
industry which were incompatible with her own industrial interests.

By the case of Finland, it is possible to form an idea of the results
of such an economic system. From the importation of Russian corn,
Finland passed to the importation of German and American flour;
instead of Russian sugar she used German. In return the products of
Russian industry have not been able to conquer the Finnish market, in
view of the impossibility of their competition with German products.
Finland, having Customs frontiers with Russia, was able to avoid the
too disadvantageous consequences for her of that Russian economic
policy which sacrificed local economic interests to a centralised
economic system for Russia. If there had not been Customs frontiers
between Finland and Russia, Finland would have had to pay much dearer
for her bread and to purchase industrial products at a much higher
price. The other parts of Russia, not enjoying economic autonomy, have
not been able to avoid the disastrous consequences of the Russian
policy as Finland has done.

Consequently, the founders of Federated Russia will have to solve the
following question: Must we revert to a centralised policy and neglect
the local interests of the different parts of Russia, or must we grant
the right of an autonomous economic policy to the different members of
the Federation? In the former case, there would remain very little of
the “free co-existence of the peoples forming part of it on principles
of autonomy and federation.” From this point of view the nationalities
would be less favoured than Finland, which, as is well known, was far
from feeling outside the danger of Russian pretensions. If, on the
contrary, the founders of the Federated Republic of Russia propose to
give to the various States the right of an autonomous economic policy,
then the Federation will very soon fall to pieces, for the economic
interests of the different States tend in different directions, and
economic interests are much more powerful than historical memories.

The economic problem will therefore be solved either to the
advantage of a Russia which supports herself, but is at the same
time centralised, or to the advantage of the independence of the
nationalities which have separated themselves from Russia. In either
case there is no place for federation!


There still remains to be elucidated the project of an All-Russian
Federation from the point of view of constitutional law, _i.e._, the
possibility of creating, with the aid of the nationalities of Russia, a
durable State on the basis of federation.

The definite and authorised answer to this question was given by the
late M. Kokoshkin, professor at the University of Moscow, in his
report (Summer, 1917) to the Congress of the Constitutional Democratic
Party on the subject of the desirable form for the future State of
Russia. He proved the utter impossibility, from the point of view of
constitutional law, of reconstructing Russia on a federative basis; and
the Congress of the Party entirely subscribed to his opinion. There
remains little to say after the view of Professor Kokoshkin.

All federations of States can work on one condition only, viz., that
there is one among them which has the power, owing to its importance
and influence, to support and unite all the other members. Germany
gives us an instance of this law. First, in 1866, Bismarck was
compelled to exclude Austria by force from the German Confederation,
on account of her competition with Prussia, so that he could, in 1871,
gather round him the German Federation, in which Prussia, both by
her real force and in accordance with constitutional law, became the
predominant partner. And the Prussian spirit guided Germany. Prussia
was the cause of Germany’s extraordinary development, and also of her
unprecedented defeat. The contrary is instanced by Austria-Hungary,
which tottered in proportion as German Austria increasingly lost her

Can one reckon on finding, among the nationalities of Russia, a member
of the projected Federation with enough authority, from the point of
view of constitutional law, to unite and support the other members
of the Federation? To this question Professor Kokoshkin has given a
negative and categorical reply, and we must abide by this opinion.

Evidently, the section of the Great-Russians could, in the first place,
lay claim to such a part. But they count only 65 millions out of the
180 millions forming the population of Russia. Besides, this section is
far from having preponderant economic importance, and it has remained,
in the matter of civilisation, well behind the other members of the
projected All-Russian Federation. If the leading part is given to this
section--a majority of votes in the Council of the Federation, for
instance--it would be a great injustice to the other nationalities,
and they would never consent to it; an otherwise senseless injustice,
because the section of the Great-Russians will evidently never be in a
position to perform the part assigned to them, nor could they perform
it except by using physical force, _i.e._, by re-establishing the
policy of centralist absolutism, the policy which has sustained so
complete a defeat, and that not only by a mere historical chance.

If there is no directing centre, it is clear that the All-Russian
Federation will fall to pieces on the morrow of its foundation on
paper, for there will be no power in a position to reconcile the
divergent interests of the various members of the Federation. Georgia,
for instance, will never consent to vote credits for the development
of Northern railway systems. Latvia will give no contribution for the
construction of Black Sea ports; and Ukraine will not send her sons to
defend the Baltic Sea. The combination of these interests, so different
and so scattered, would only result in a State-structure so weak that
it would fall to pieces at the first serious blow.

Thus, from the point of view of constitutional law, we arrive at the
same conclusion to which the analysis of the tendencies of civilisation
and economic life led us--that the All-Russian Federation will
transform itself either into a centralised State maintained by force,
or it will divide itself into independent States.

There is no place for a Federation in Russia! Neither the land nor
the men upon it were made for it; this is proved by History. The
history of Russia in her beginnings shows us a certain number of
principalities, independent of one another, and on the whole not
subject to any authority. Owing to the efforts of the more powerful
princes, and under the duress of the Tartar yoke, the principalities
united, not into a Federation, but into a centralised State; and each
principality, deprived of its independence, did not become a member of
a Federation, but passed into another State.

The same course was followed in regard to the contiguous and
neighbouring countries conquered by Russia.

Not only Finland and Poland, but also the Baltic, Ukraine, and Georgia
were united to Russia, and received from her at least the guarantee
of their special rights and of their separate position in the Russian
State; but Russia did not keep her word in regard to all these States,
but had them all subject to a centralised policy, after having
destroyed, or attempted to destroy, all the individuality of these
countries. And this is in no way by mere chance. The Russian plain,
having almost no natural divisions, is not a favourable field for the
creation of a Federation, and the Russian soul, understanding no _via
media_ between “all” and “nothing,” is not the cement with which it
would be possible to build a Federation always based on the limitation
of one will by other wills, and on a clever and experienced blend of
the different inclinations.


Not being able to put their trust in the All-Russian Federation and not
finding therein enough guarantee for their natural rights, the peoples
of Russia have separated themselves from her and are building up their
independent national life. This is what is rousing the opposition of
the representatives of the Russian groups. The grounds for it are
given by M. Mandelstam in several pamphlets published by the Russian
Political Conference.


First of all, M. Mandelstam finds that the independence to which the
nationalities detached from Russia are aspiring is disadvantageous
to these peoples themselves: “So they would merely find in their
independence a satisfaction of their national vanity, too heavily paid
for by the loss of their economic prosperity.” (_Memorandum on the
Delimitation of the Rights of States and Nations_, p. 79.) Concerning
Latvia in particular, M. Mandelstam foresees that the commerce of her
ports will enormously suffer, for they will lose the benefit of the
Russian transit trade. Agriculture, which will lose the Russian market,
will equally suffer from it; her industry will be deprived of fuel
and raw materials (p. 60). Finally, Latvia will not be in a position
to guarantee “the reimbursement of the enormous amounts spent for the
development of her economic prosperity and for her defence” (p. 79).


Let us take the last point first, viz., the mutual settlement of
accounts between Latvia and Russia.

It seems that here M. Mandelstam wishes either to frighten us or simply
to “overcharge” us.

Now from the statements of the Ministry of Finance it is evident that
Latvia has given yearly to the State a surplus of revenue over and
above the expenditure, which is valued at about 30 million roubles,
after having paid out of her own revenues all the expenses of the State
within the boundaries of Latvia, including expenditure on numerous
institutions, on strong armies and frontier guards, etc. In how many
yearly instalments does M. Mandelstam intend to repay that surplus to

It is absolutely impossible to understand of what expenses for the
defence of Latvia M. Mandelstam is speaking. Latvia’s share in the
State Budget, including army and navy, as we have already seen, is paid
off with a surplus for the Russian Budget. Of what other expenditure
then is M. Mandelstam speaking? Of war expenses for a defence which was
a failure and brought Latvia nothing but destruction and ruins? Who
would pay for a task so badly done? And if that is the expense referred
to, what is the cost M. Mandelstam puts on the senseless and aimless
devastation carried out in Latvia by Russian armies? They are very well
depicted in the exhaustive work by M. J. Sahlit, member of the Imperial

Another indiscreet question: At what rate of exchange does M.
Mandelstam suggest paying the mass of Russian credit-notes with which
Latvia was deluged, and against which the Russian Government has
received goods of a fixed weight and at a fixed price?

If a reckoning is set up--for conscience’ sake, naturally--Latvia will
have to receive from Russia amounts which will be a considerable
balance in the establishment of her own finances.


Concerning the economic interests of Latvia, it is scarcely probable
that M. Mandelstam need defend them against the Letts themselves. This
time M. Mandelstam has evidently gone to unnecessary trouble. If the
economic interests of Latvia so weightily necessitate her reunion with
Russia, the Letts, being accustomed to calculate quite dispassionately,
will soon see their advantage and will be anxious to adhere to the
All-Russian Federation projected by M. Mandelstam of their own free
will. Consequently, why does M. Mandelstam insist on establishing
Latvia’s happiness by force and compulsion? Is it possible he has
forgotten that he who tries to prove too much proves nothing?

Besides, M. Mandelstam appears to be ill-informed on the economic
life of Latvia. It is not true that Latvia needs the Russian market
for her agricultural products. It will not be difficult for her to
find a more profitable market in the West. It is equally not true
that Latvia will be deprived of the transit trade of Russia, for her
ports are the most convenient transit points for Russia; and Latvia,
for the purpose of increasing and developing this transit trade, will
do her best to further her own interests. M. Mandelstam is equally
mistaken as regards Lettish industry. Fuel, in the shape of coal, has
been supplied to her up to the present not by Russia, but principally
by England, and Russian iron ore could easily be replaced by Swedish.
Generally speaking, one may say that Latvia, being in a better economic
situation than Russia, can rightly hope that the latter will look for
normal economic relations with Latvia, and it would have been more
comprehensive and more natural if M. Mandelstam had only taken up the
defence of Russia’s economic interests.


M. Mandelstam may unhesitatingly leave the defence of Lettish interests
to the Letts themselves. They have studied them and understand them
well. Lettish aspirations were born neither to-day nor yesterday. The
birth of the Lettish movement took place in 1860. Since that time it
has been under the double oppression of the Baltic barons and the
Russian bureaucracy. But it has courageously borne this double yoke,
and has proved its vitality and activity. It has thrived and developed;
it has taken deep root in the soul of the people whence it cannot be
eradicated again. It is certain that the Lettish people possesses what
President Wilson calls “well-defined national aspirations.” These have
clearly appeared in the sharp and closely-followed line maintained
by the Lettish people during the whole war in perfect unanimity. The
Letts have fought with all their might against Germany to defend
their aspirations against Teutonic tendencies. The National Council
of Latvia, in the fatal period of the Russian flight and the German
occupation of a considerable portion of Latvia, was able to centre in
itself the whole social activity and political thought of the Lettish
people. In its first session, from 16th to 19th November, 1917, it
asked for the Lettish nation the right to dispose of themselves. In
the second, from 15th to 19th January, 1918, it very categorically
stated that “Latvia asks to be recognised as a sovereign, independent
and indivisible State.” The National Council informed Russia of its
decision in the speech of its representative, J. Goldman, in the
Constituent Assembly of Russia, on the 5th January, 1918. The National
Council, in spite of the personal danger to its members, in a protest
note addressed on the 4th April, 1918, to the German Chancellor, Count
Hertling, explicitly opposed the German inclination to unite Latvia
to Germany. Already in July, 1918, the National Council had addressed
itself to the Allied Governments and the opinion of the whole world,
protesting against the peace of Brest-Litovsk and revealing the clumsy
deceit of the German occupation authority in proclaiming as the will
of the Lettish people the decisions of the Landesrath, a usurping body
composed of German barons and their servants; and the National Council
emphasised the unbending decision of the Lettish people to attain the
realisation of its natural rights to independence. The National Council
of Latvia considered it a great honour that its aspirations were
crowned with success. It was recognised as an independent body by the
Governments of England and Japan.

Having suffered long at the hands of both Russia and Germany, the
Lettish people has come to the conclusion that it would find its
interests guaranteed only by independence. It is not a passing mood,
but a firm conviction, for which the Lettish people has suffered
and which it will never and in no case surrender. And it awaits the
realisation of its aspirations and the solemn proclamation of its


However, the Russian groups protest in the name of the interests of
the Russian people, who, they say, will oppose the separation of
an independent Latvia. One might briefly reply that the one-sided
interests of the Russian people would not solve this question, and
that an exclusive solution in favour of the interests of the Russian
people would be in opposition to the principle of international
relations proclaimed by the Allies. In his speech delivered on the
4th July, 1918, President Wilson declared: “The settlement of any one
of the questions concerning either territories, national sovereignty,
economic or political relations, must be made on the basis of the free
acceptation of such a settlement by the peoples directly concerned, and
not on the basis of material interest or advantage of any other nation
or people.” And in the message of September 27th, 1918, President
Wilson said: “No individual or special interest of a nation or a group
of nations shall be able so to inspire a part of the arrangement that
it would not be in agreement with the united interests of all.”

It would seem that these declarations leave nothing to be desired
from the point of view of clearness and conciseness, and they were
pronounced in the most solemn manner and adopted both by the Allies and
their adversaries as a basis on which future international relations
might be established. It would seem also that these declarations do
not leave any doubt about the fact that the question of Latvia and her
fate should be solved on the basis of the aspirations and wishes of the
Lettish people, and not in accordance with the interests of Russia.
However, to complete the picture, we might as well discuss the question
of those Russian interests which, we are told, would suffer by the
separation of Latvia.


The Russian groups and their ideologists put forward the economic
interests of Russia, which, they say, do not in any way permit
the separation of Latvia. “Russian foreign trade,” says Mandelstam
(_Memorandum on the Delimitation of the Rights of States and Nations_),
“was principally sea-borne; from this point of view the Baltic
ports were of the highest importance to it” (p. 58). “The complete
separation of the Baltic provinces from Russia would put this latter
in an extremely difficult and grave situation, by depriving her of her
outlets in the Baltic, which are not only the most important but also
the only practicable ones in the winter” (p. 60).

The fact in itself is certainly correct. Before the war almost half of
the imports and more than two-fifths of the exports of European Russia
by sea passed through the great ports of Latvia: Riga, Libau, Windau.
But who would suppose that Latvia will close her ports to the transit
trade of Russia? On the contrary, Latvia understands quite well that
she is the natural intermediary between East and West, and will, in
her own interests, do her best by every means to encourage trade with
Russia. The natural destiny of Latvia is to be a storehouse for goods
coming from the West to Russia and _vice versa_. And everything makes
us believe that Latvia will be in a position to perform that rôle
better than Russia herself.

The chief conditions required by commerce are the following: Suitable
technical establishments, simple and precise juridical relations, and
lastly, order and tranquillity. Russia has not been able to provide
these conditions. To be satisfied of this, one has but to remember
the wretched equipment of the ports, so disproportionate to their
world-importance, the miserable state of the railways, the lack of
means of transport, the abuses and disorder. Judicial relations were
regulated by laws dating almost from the Flood, the same for the
Russian villages as for the towns of universal importance, laws which
would much better have suited the former alone. The proceedings at the
courts of law were of fabulous duration; the code of laws affecting
commercial houses and companies was out of date; conditions of credit
were of the worst; and, in consequence, Germany, which enjoys
the ability to accommodate herself to all the Russian conditions,
increasingly invaded the economic life of the Baltic Sea, dispersing
the competition of others. No, it was neither Russian firms nor capital
which prevailed there, but those of Germany, and the watchword came
not from Petrograd but from Berlin. Russia would not have succeeded as
quickly as Latvia in freeing herself from the preponderating influence
on the shores of the Baltic. That is why Russia’s interests will in
no way suffer if the intermediary’s rôle is played neither by her nor
Germany, but by those who are familiar with the Baltic, whom nature has
attached to it, and who consequently have natural rights to it.


The Russian groups lay great stress on the strategical interests of
Russia. The separation of Latvia, they say, would greatly prejudice
these. The frontiers of Russia, after Latvia’s separation, would
strategically be so disadvantageous that it would be difficult to
defend them successfully. The former frontiers, with Latvia included,
were on the contrary very favourable. Yet Russia did not and could
not defend them. There is no doubt that if, in 1914, the Germans had,
instead of throwing themselves on France, directed their forces to
the East, they would have occupied without much difficulty the whole
territory of Latvia; and Russia would have been deprived anyhow of
the advantages of strategical frontiers and bases for her fleet. This
hypothesis has been fully proved by the events that followed. In the
spring of 1915, the German forces, relatively weak, easily succeeded in
seizing the South of Courland, with the very important base for their
navy at Libau, and took up positions on the River Venta. An attempt
was then made to draw the attention of the Commander-in-Chief, Grand
Duke Nicholas Nikolaievich, to the necessity of a vigorous defence of
Courland in view of her military, political and economic importance.
It was then that the Grand Duke, not sharing the opinion of the
Russian groups on the strategical importance of Latvia, made his
famous retort, “I don’t give a damn for your Courland!”--words which
to-day still resound in the ears of every Lett. And in the summer of
1915, a few German detachments were seen occupying, almost without any
resistance on the part of the Russians, the greater part of Courland.
It is easy to believe in the little importance of the German forces
and in Courland’s weak defence when one learns that mere patrols of
cavalry took possession of whole towns almost without firing a shot.
Seeing this, two sections of Lettish reservists who had been ordered to
retreat, begged to be allowed to defend Mitau, and the permission was
granted to them. These heroic soldiers offered to the Germans such a
violent and unexpected resistance that the latter hesitated for a long
time before coming nearer to the town.

In the autumn of 1915, the front was established on the line of the
River Daugava (Dwina). The Russian Political Conference will perhaps
say that this is precisely the strategic line which they contemplate.
If that is so, it is fresh proof that in the hands of Russia
strategical advantages have no importance. We know from the words
publicly pronounced by the commander of an army on the Riga front,
Radko-Dmitrieff, that Riga would have fallen in the autumn of 1915
but for the bravery of the Lettish troops, raised, as it is known, by
Lettish patriots, after heated argument with the Russian bureaucracy.
In the main, it was not the Russians so much as the Letts who defended
the Riga front. It is enough to recollect the long siege which they
sustained without respite on the “island of death,” near Ixküle, and
the famous breach made by them in the German front near Mangoul, a
breach which unfortunately led to nothing, owing to the lack of Russian
troops to support them. Let us quote the characteristic and significant
words spoken by the Kaiser after an inspection of the Riga front:
“Riga will fall into my hands like a ripe fruit when eight stars have
died out on that front.” He meant by this the eight detachments of the
Lettish army.

The 2nd September, 1917, the Germans broke through the Riga front, and
at least two Russian divisions would have been made prisoners if it
had not been for the stubborn resistance of certain Lettish regiments,
which were then annihilated. After this struggle they existed only in
name, a glorious name with which the Bolsheviki continued to frighten
their Russian adversaries.[3]

By this we can see that favourable strategical positions, in unskilful
hands, become rather a snare than an advantage. The fact is that you
cannot get immediate advantage out of a favourable strategical line
if you have not the wish, the will, and the capacity to profit by it.
Russia lacked both the goodwill and the capacity; they were absent in
the Commander-in-Chief as well as in that moujik deserter from Riazan
who replied to all exhortations: “Why should I fight? I’m not going to
fish in that sea.”

The world-war has proved that patriotic spirit in an army and an
understanding of duty are no less indispensable than the technique,
favourable positions, etc. Will Russia be able to make her Grand Dukes
and moujiks believe that their feeling of duty must extend to the
strategic frontiers of the Baltic Sea, in a foreign land? We doubt it.
Therefore, Russia’s defence will not be prejudiced if the strategical
points aimed towards the West fall into stronger and surer hands than

And the question of Russia’s defence must be examined from another
point of view. Against whom is Russia preparing her defence in the
West? Against Latvia? It would be a grave insult to Russia to pretend
that Latvia, with her two million and a half inhabitants, could
dream of an aggressive act against Russia, which, counting only the
Great-Russians, possesses 65 million inhabitants. Against Esthonia
then, with her million and a half inhabitants? Against Lithuania, with
her six million inhabitants? To put these questions is to answer them.
Against Poland or Ukraine? But in that case the strategical positions
of the Baltic Sea have nothing to do with it. Against a coalition
of all these States? This is questionable, for strong and adequate
as a defensive coalition of all these States might be regarded, an
offensive coalition on their part against Russia is obviously unlikely
and futile, for in the latter case there could be neither community of
interest nor a common object in aggression.

There remains the hypothesis of M. Mandelstam (_Memorandum on the
Delimitation of the Rights of States and Nations_, p. 57), that
the territory of Latvia may serve as a very favourable point of
disembarkation for armies attacking Russia. If M. Mandelstam has
Germany in view as a potential adversary, one can set him at ease by
telling him that all the interests of Latvia are directed against
Germany, and to suspect her of a future alliance with Germany is simply
inadmissible. In the case of an aggressive tendency on the part of
Germany, Latvia will have to defend herself, and one can suppose that
she will do it more successfully than Russia, which could not thus be
other than much obliged to her, in view of Latvia’s carrying out for
her a task which had proved beyond Russia’s power.

Russia’s defence will thus in no way be prejudiced by the shores of
the Baltic not being guarded by herself but by a more watchful sentry,
of whom one could not expect any aggressive tendency, but who would
nevertheless oppose himself, in the name of his own interests, to any
aggression coming either from the West or East.

The Lettish people claims the realisation of its natural right to an
independent existence and free development. Within the boundaries of
Russia this was and will be impossible. Consequently, the Lettish
people is right in demanding its constitution as an independent State,
and this all the more because the interests of the Russian people will
not suffer by it.


It would be possible to end here if the question was merely one of
tracing a line of delimitation between the interests of the Russian
people and those of the Lettish people. But that is not so--one could
not lose sight of a more universal interest. What will be the result of
the limits traced between the Lettish people and the Russian people,
in the matter of other nations’ interests? A new international dawn
will rise when the Paris Conference has established guarantees for the
maintenance of peace. Everything must be done to avoid the disasters of
a future war.

And precisely from this point of view, voices are heard proclaiming
that in the interests of political equilibrium, a strong Russia must be
rebuilt, as far as possible within her former frontiers. They even say
that if no Russia existed, one must be invented.


Certainly, it is possible to make a primary reply to this opinion by
saying that political equilibrium is incriminated, and that in its
place will come the League of Nations guaranteeing peace and justice
for all. The reply is valid. But we are also disposed to agree with
those who say that the League of Nations will be formed only in the
future and at present it is incapable of fulfilling all the tasks which
we await from it. For this reason, if only as a subsidiary factor, one
must not lose sight of the problems of political equilibrium.


This equilibrium does not establish the necessity of re-creating
Russia as she was before the war, for Russia was in no way a factor
powerful enough to support that equilibrium. Knowing Russia’s internal
weakness, Germany had no fear in launching the world-war. And during
the war Russia’s forces proved insufficient to weigh down the scales of
victory on the Allies’ side. On the contrary, during all the time the
hostilities lasted, Russia was strategically, as well as politically
and economically, the weakest point of the Allies. Finally she left
them to the grace of God after having made them a present of the pest
of Bolshevism. It is clear that, even in the case of reconstruction in
her former boundaries, Russia will not for a long time be in a position
to perform the part of an ally and help to maintain the European
equilibrium. Russia is ruined; ruined not only by the war, but also,
and much more, by Bolshevism; ruined physically, economically and
much more morally and intellectually. More than a generation will be
required before Russia can count as a factor in European policy. And
who will maintain the equilibrium in the meantime?


But even after a long rest and complete external reconstruction,
Russia, in the case of serious aggression, will always prove internally
to be a considerably weaker factor than it would be possible to
judge of from the outside. That was the case during the Japanese war
in 1904-5. And so she was also during the war which has just ended.
Russia’s external strength has always been imaginary, for she has
always been weak internally. And this is not an accidental, momentary
or passing weakness, but a weakness dependent on Russia’s composition
and her home-policy. We have already shown that Russia is composed
of a series of regions which by their population, history, culture
and economic interests are not bound together, but tend in different
directions, and are merely held together by perpetual compulsion.
By reason of this there will always be a centralised home-policy in
Russia, and, consequently, a lot of unsolved and insoluble problems
therein; a policy the principal means of which will always be force
and compulsion. And as soon as compulsion relaxes, the problems and
anomalies artificially kept under come again to the surface and
paralyse all the forces of Russia. The history of Russia shows that
precisely on account of her internal weakness and under the threat of
revolution, she has been unable to end with success any one of the last


But besides that, as concerns Russia, it will never be possible to tell
in which direction she will turn. At the beginning of the last century,
allied to Prussia and Austria, she fought against France, and became
the inspirer of the Holy Alliance which was directed, in full accord
with the character of Russia’s home-policy, against all the rights
of peoples. In the middle of the last century, she fought against
England, France, and Sardinia, after having secured the neutrality of
Austria and Prussia. In 1870, her friendly neutrality gave Prussia
the opportunity to crush France. There is something fateful in her
traditional friendship with Germany. Behind the back of France, though
allied to her, it was towards Germany that Nicholas II. felt himself
attracted (see his correspondence with William II., published in
Bourtzeff’s paper _L’Avenir_, 1917), as well as his ministers Sturmer
and Protopopoff, unmasked in the speech of P. Miliukoff in the Imperial
Douma, in February, 1917; M. Miliukoff himself (_Pages Modernes_, April
number, 1919, page 6); and the Tzar’s General Skoropadsky; and Lenin
and Trotsky who signed peace with Germany of the Kaiser and wanted
an alliance with Germany of Scheidemann at any cost. At heart, M.
Mandelstam also is not too remote from this fatal leaning. He threatens
war if the Paris Conference shows itself disposed to recognise the
independence of the States detached from Russia (_Some Reflections on
the Question of a Great Poland and the Shores of the Baltic_, p. 10;
_Memorandum on the Delimitation of the Rights of States and Nations_,
p. 81). With what war and in alliance with whom does M. Mandelstam
threaten us?

It is evident that the Russian Political Conference is not free from
that fatal inclination. Its representative, M. Sazonoff, former
Minister, is revealed by Prince Lichnovsky as ready to abandon France,
“Russia’s cherished ally,” to Germany for plunder, on condition
that the latter consents to give Russia a free hand in regard to

It is also very interesting to notice that the crusade against the
independent States of the Baltic, preached by M. Mandelstam in Paris,
is put into execution in Latvia by the armies of General von der
Goltz which have upset the legal Government of Latvia recognised by
England and Japan. The hand of M. Mandelstam, seeking allies for the
crusade against Latvia, has not remained in the air; von der Goltz
has grasped it enthusiastically. Future Russia and bygone Germany
have met in a common intrigue against independent Latvia. Finland,
Esthonia, Lithuania, Ukraine and independent Poland are specks in the
eyes of both; and who can guarantee that the points of contact will not
increase with the lapse of time?


Russia has been and will be an ally too unsteady to count as a factor
of equilibrium in European politics. Moreover, she is a troublesome
factor, and likely to become directly or indirectly the instigator of a
European war. In 1904, Russia got herself involved in war with Japan,
which exhausted all her forces. During a sequence of years, Germany
had her hands completely free in the East, and it was certainly not
Russia’s balancing forces, but considerations of a quite different
nature, which then prevented Germany from falling upon France. On
three occasions during the last century Russia’s leanings towards
complete possession of the Black Sea have served as causes of war;
and in that just ended, Russia’s interests in the Balkans were the
motives for aggression on the part of Austria and Germany. With
Russia’s reconstitution her leanings towards possession of the Black
Sea and particularly the Straits will necessarily revive; this has
already been announced by the “Chairman of the Slav Congress in Moscow
and of the Russian Conference in London,” M. Briantchaninoff, with
the idea that the mandate of guardianship over the Dardanelles and
Constantinople should in all justice be entrusted to nobody but Russia.

M. Briantchaninoff’s opinion is not a mere accident; we have no reason
to regard it as such. There is no doubt that, in a reconstituted
Russia, by a natural reaction from the humiliations and outrages
suffered by the country, the nationalist wave will rise very high.
This nationalism will have as its aims those of militant Slavism.
One of these aims has always been the orthodox Cross towering over
“Haghia-Sophia.” And the Straits were promised to Russia. M. Sazonoff
spoke of that in the Imperial Douma amidst a storm of applause. This
long-pursued object has escaped from Russian hands thanks only to the
microbes which made their way into M. Lenin’s sealed-up carriage. It
was almost reached, and it can be reached. It is necessary to try to
reach it. Lenin is already no more. M. Briantchaninoff will be heard
with thundering voice; M. Miliukoff will not be able to refuse his
help, having shown interest in the Dardanelles during his whole life.
M. Sazonoff has in his hands the Allies’ promises, which only for a
time fell into the hands of “Comrade” Tchitcherin. Thus the watchword:
“To Constantinople!” And that means: “To Belgrade! To Athens! To
Bucharest!” and also “To Paris! To London! To Washington!”


From the direction of the Baltic Sea, reconstituted Russia threatens
us with another political danger. This danger comes from the strange
policy Russia has pursued in the Baltic countries, a policy whose
repetition is revealed by many signs. Feeling instinctively her
administrative incapacity, Russia thus distinctly shows the effects of
the influence of German elements in the staff of her administrators.
During all the time of her domination over these countries, she left
full power in the hands of the Baltic barons who--except in some
accidental and temporary cases--have been the administrators and the
real masters of the land. They took great advantage of this situation,
endeavouring to give the country a German character. Further, they
organised systematic German colonisation, for the realisation of which
Berlin put large sums at their disposal. This colonisation took on
such vast proportions and was carried on so openly that it finally
attracted the attention of the Russian Government itself, which, in
order to paralyse its effects, set up Russian colonisation in its turn.
The latter, however, led to no results, the Russian peasant not being
prepared for the intensive agricultural methods adopted in the country.
The feelings and leanings of the Baltic nobility have clearly shown
themselves during the war. It is enough to remember that they offered
to General Hindenburg a third part of their lands for the purpose of
colonisation. Their leanings were in perfect accord with the aims of
the Pan-Germans, of whom many were emigrants from the Baltic, and
who, like Professor Schiemann and P. Rohrbach, have not been playing
an unimportant part. It is extremely interesting to observe that these
tendencies have not ceased with the defeat of Germany. It is known that
the Germans have promised to Latvia energetic assistance against the
Bolsheviki if a right to the land is granted to all the combatants.

It is certain that after the war there will be a surplus of population
in Germany, and it is not for nothing that Count Brokdorff-Rantzau
complains in one of his notes that it will be difficult to find room
for this surplus of inhabitants, as it is probable that the principal
States will close their doors to them. There is no doubt whatever that
a large part of this excess of population will go over to the Baltic,
where they will find land ready for them and will be received with open
arms by the Baltic barons of Pan-German mind. The Russian Government,
as past experience has proved, will be unable to oppose this fresh
_Drang nach Osten_, and if the Lettish people do not possess enough
freedom of action, that is to say, if there is no independent Latvia,
one can be supremely sure that German influence will be very great. On
the other hand, the resolution of the various Landestags, Landesrats,
and Regentschaftsrats, which have asked for the closest _rapprochement_
with Germany, militarily and economically, and have offered the ducal
crown to the Hohenzollern dynasty, leaves no doubt about the direction
in which the sympathies of the Baltic Germans will go. The Baltic is,
in the hands of Russia, a borderland with predominant German interests,
a land to which Germany stretches out her hand, a land always ready, at
a moment favourable to Pan-Germanism, to detach itself from Russia and
pass over to the side of her adversaries. Thus, to be logical in the
matter of the Baltic States, one must decide, not between Russia and
Latvia, but between the latter and Germany.

And thus the argument of political motives leads to a conclusion which
is not at all to the advantage of Russia’s reconstitution. For the
re-establishment of equilibrium in European politics, Russia is of no
value. She is not, to that end, something which should be invented if
she did not exist.[4]


In order to have an absolutely clear idea of the question, it is still
necessary to look at the other side; _i.e._, to represent to oneself
the probable policy of the States detached from Russia. We have
already shown that one cannot expect aggression from these States,
because of the relative external weakness of them individually. It is
equally unimaginable that they should form an aggressive alliance,
for one cannot realise a common aggressive aim for all these States.
Consequently one cannot expect a violation of peace from their side.

But taking into account their relative weakness, will these States
not be subject to envy and aggression on the part of their stronger
neighbours, and will they not in this way, against their will, be the
cause of disturbing the peace? It is necessary to envisage this peril,
but it is possible to avert it. In this one may rightly rely on the
League of Nations in which the small nations put all their hope.

Assuredly, the League of Nations is just now not strong enough; but,
in view of the general national exhaustion, one cannot expect, as soon
as peace is concluded, aggression against the States which have the
authority of the Peace Conference on their side. If aggressive forces
gather later, the League of Nations will have had time in the interval
to organise itself definitely and to command moral and material
strength sufficient to check aggression.

There is another way, too, of guaranteeing the security of the new
States: an alliance between them, or at least between those of them
which have access to the Baltic Sea; viz., Finland, Esthonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Poland, and probably White-Russia, an alliance with many
certain chances of development in one direction or another. Assuredly,
there are still ancient accounts to be settled between some of these
nations, but common and vital interests are so strong that History will
be no obstacle in the matter. All these nationalities have always had
continual relations with Western civilisation, and there would quickly
and easily be formed between them a community of intellectual and moral
interests. The economic intercourse between them is also capable of
vast development. For instance, Poland can supply all the other States
with her coal, and Lithuania can supply the corn which Finland needs.
Undoubtedly, there are common interests between all the above-named
States in the trade of the Baltic Sea. Each one of them has a natural
_Hinterland_, and, consequently, is vitally interested in the guarantee
of freedom of trade in the Baltic Sea. Besides, the mere political
interest of common defence is a strong enough basis for an alliance of
all the Baltic States, for they are under the double menace of Germany
on one side and Russia on the other. All these States have experienced
in fact the gravity of this menace, and so all will understand the
great value of this defensive alliance.


(Command of the Baltic Sea) has been for centuries a bone of contention
between the Northern and Eastern States of Europe. For this the Teutons
have contended, and Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Russia.
Germany had the same aim, and before the war had nearly reached it.
During the whole of history, every State which acquired strength and
authority in the North or East of Europe, evinced this inevitable
leaning towards possession of the Baltic Sea, and it was only in the
measure of its success in that direction that it could play its part as
a Great Power, a rôle which ceased the moment the State was deprived
of that DOMINIUM MARIS BALTICI. To give it again to one of
the coastwise States would mean a fresh menace to the peace of Europe;
but by putting it into the hands of those to whom it belongs by
natural right, that is to say, into the common possession of the States
surrounding that sea, one would remove one of the causes of probable
conflicts in the future of Europe.


For yet another reason the Baltic States, or rather their alliance,
will have a great rôle to play--that of a boundary line of economic and
political culture between Russia and Germany. This partition--which
might be called a _cordon sanitaire_--is absolutely indispensable.
Germany’s direct influence on Russia, with no obstacle between them, is
a real danger. To the naïve and dreamy soul of the childlike Russian
villagers, the extreme sociological theories of the West, born from
a very complex economic situation, are a direct temptation and a
dangerous poison, as illustrated by M. Lenin’s sealed railway carriage.
The teachings of German Social Democracy have taken such root in
Russian soil and have produced such a harvest that it has caused much
merriment to the Teuton Field-Marshals; while to Russia it has brought
extreme abasement and almost irretrievable disaster.

And this is likely to happen again, everywhere and always, whenever a
backward race, neighbour of another highly developed, would fain borrow
from the latter and put into immediate operation “the latest advances
of civilisation.”

It is the same in regard to economic relations. Germany, deprived of
her colonies, and lacking sufficient resources in raw materials and
rich markets, will necessarily direct the surplus of her economic
energy towards Russia, which will easily become a German colony and
submit entirely to German influence. In this respect, Germany had
already arrived at considerable results before the war. She will
work in the same direction, and after the signing of peace with
still greater activity, which will assuredly lead to results hardly
desirable from the political point of view. A Russia invaded by capital
and technical forces from Germany, and a Germany with Russian raw
materials and Russia’s market at her disposal, will be such great
economic powers that each will separately appear a serious menace, and
all the more so if in alliance.

But what is more clear and more important is the line of political
partition between Germany and Russia. The political security of Europe
used to be constantly under the menace of an alliance between Russia
and Germany, an alliance which would have radically destroyed the
balance of power. This menace was in no way artificial but perfectly
real, and might have been realised at any moment. As we have tried to
prove, it will inevitably reappear with the reconstitution of Russia.
The vanquished two of this great war will not at once submit to their
fate; both will be discontented and will cogitate ways of improving
their situation. This alone is a sufficient basis for a _rapprochement_
or an alliance. Russia will not resist for long the temptation of an
alliance with Germany, of which the leaders beyond the Rhine are
already openly talking. Consequently, it is necessary to separate
Russia from Germany, that is, to prevent their direct union, and to
that end it would be impossible to find a more adequate and easy means
than the _cordon sanitaire_ of the States named. Truth to tell, it
would be necessary to invent this alliance if it did not force itself
into being.


We have arrived at the end of this study and may now summarise.

The question of the organisation of the Lettish people in an
independent State must be decided quickly and definitely. The
restoration of anything whatever of the _status quo ante_, whether
_de facto_, temporary or indefinite, would serve no purpose because
it would not give to the Lettish people the juridical basis necessary
to the reconstruction of a ruined life. This question must be solved
independently of the will of the Russian people, because, in
principle, the idea that the destiny of any people whatsoever depends
on the will of another people, is inadmissible; because also it is
impossible to foresee when the Russian people will be in a position
to make its will freely known. In definitely deciding the destiny
of Latvia, it is necessary to reject the project of an All-Russian

Such a federation is impossible. In accordance with the laws of
historical continuity, it is impossible to pass from a centralised
State to one of the most complicated and most delicate forms of State
organisation. Besides, the peoples of Russia have no such community
of intellectual, moral and economic interests as might become the
solid foundation of a free co-existence in one and the same State. The
All-Russian Federation will either divide itself into different States
or change itself into a centralised State in which the natural rights
of its different peoples will not be guaranteed. The only just solution
of the question of Latvia is the recognition of that country as an
independent State.

This is not only the natural right of the Lettish people. It has long
been the object of its permanent and definite leanings, and these are
in harmony with its well-recognised interests.

The interests of Russia will in no way suffer from the separation of
Latvia; neither economically, for Latvia will certainly be a better
intermediary between the West and the East than Russia was or would
be; nor strategically, for Latvia will be a much more conscientious
sentinel on the Baltic Sea than Russia was or would be.

It is impossible for Russia to claim to re-enter her former boundaries
on the necessity of European balance of power, for, as a factor of
equilibrium, Russia has been found wanting, and one can foresee her
future complete submission to the economic and political influence of
Germany, as well as to her civilisation.

On the other hand, the interests of a lasting peace demand the creation
of a series of independent national States for the peoples inhabiting
the shores of the Baltic Sea; and, between them, a defensive alliance
for which there are sufficient grounds in the shape of common
economic, political and intellectual interests. Such an alliance would
play at the same time the rôle of the necessary line of demarcation
between Russia and Germany. Moreover, it is the only natural solution
of the problem of the _Dominium maris Baltici_, which has been an
apple of discord for centuries and has often been the disturber of the
world’s peace.

  [Illustration: THE


[1] One of the published works of the Russian Political Conference
(from the pen of Mandelstam), specially devoted to the question of
Poland, has received a well-merited refutation in the brilliant
pamphlet of M. H. Grappin (_Memorandum on the Application of the
Nationalities Principle to the Russian Question_).

M. Gaston Gaillard, in his book _The Pan-Russian Movement and the
Borderland Peoples_, Paris, 1919, gives a remarkable summary, with full
documentary evidence, of the aspirations of the borderland peoples of

[2] P. J. Sahlit, _Devastation of Latvia by the Russian Armies_,
Petrograd, 1917 (in Russian).

[3] As fear has big eyes, even among fearless people like M. Savinkoff,
it is believed, for instance, that this latter gentleman has found in
the Bolshevik lines two divisions of Lettish Rifles, _i.e._, 60,000 men
(_Pages Modernes_, No. 1, page 7). If we take into account that many
Letts have fought from the beginning in the ranks of the Czeko-Slovaks,
in the army of Denikin and in that of the North, and remembering that
the Lettish regiments have suffered great losses during the war,
one can only ask with amazement where this great number of Lettish
youths comes from. No more than 3,500 Letts can be counted among the
Bolsheviki, all the rest are a vision inspired by fear.

[4] Details on this point will be found in the pamphlet of Count Jean
Tarnovsky, _La Menace Allemande et le Péril Russe_, Imprimerie Moderne,
17, rue Duler, Biarritz, 1919.

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