Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920-1924

By Stephen White | Go to book overview

I

The Trade Agreement

On 16 January 1920 the Allied Supreme Council, meeting in Paris, declared the blockade of Soviet Russia at an end. 'The Allies now understand the impossibility of fighting the Bolsheviks in Russia', Lord Riddell noted in his diary. 'No nation is prepared to supply troops or money.'1 The Supreme Council went on to adopt a resolution providing for an 'exchange of goods on the basis of reciprocity between the Russian people and Allied and neutral countries'. It was insisted that this did 'not mean a change in the policy of the Allied governments towards the Soviet government'; 2 but it was difficult, on the face of it, to regard the Allies' decision as anything other than a complete reversal of the policy which they had previously pursued towards the Bolshevik authorities. A policy of peace and commerce, it appeared, was now to succeed the hostile confrontation of the immediate post‐ revolutionary years. 3

Other than formally, in fact, there had been little change in British or Allied policy; for what the Supreme Council's decisions represented was not so much the adoption of a new and no longer anti-Bolshevik strategy but rather the selection of a new and, it appeared, more promising tactic by which that strategy might be pursued. This new tactic, in the words of a Foreign Office memorandum, was designed to provide an 'opportunity of testing the theory frequently advanced of late that the lifting of the blockade would do more to oust or modify Bolshevism than armed intervention ever accomplished'. 4 'Commerce', Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, explained to the House of Commons, 'has a sobering influence in its operations. The simple sums in addition and subtraction which it inculcates soon dispose of wild theories.' The 'moment trade was established with Russia', he told the Allied meeting, 'Communism would go'. 5

The implications of the Allies' strategy were spelt out more fully in the Daily Chronicle, a journal normally close to the Premier's thinking. So far from the reopening of trade representing a first

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Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920-1924
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution - A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920-1924 *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • List of Abbreviations *
  • Part I - Negotiation *
  • I - The Trade Agreement *
  • 2 - Labour and Soviet Russia *
  • 3 - Conferences *
  • Part II - Imperial Confrontation *
  • 4 - Imperial Crisis and Soviet Russia *
  • 5 - Soviet Russia and Revolution *
  • 6 - The Curzon Note' *
  • Part III - Labour, Business and Recognition *
  • 7 - 'Entente Commerciale' *
  • 8 - Soviet Russia and Labourism *
  • Conclusion: - Class, Party and Foreign Policy *
  • Notes *
  • Select Bibliography *
  • Index *
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