Backward Europe and Advanced Asia
V. I. Lenin
The comparison sounds like a paradox. Who does not know that Europe is advanced and Asia backward? But the words taken for this title contain a bitter truth.
In civilised and advanced Europe, with its highly developed machine industry, its rich, multiform culture and its constitutions, a point in history has been reached when the commanding bourgeoisie, fearing the growth and increasing strength of the proletariat, comes out in support of every thing backward, moribund and medieval. The bourgeoisie is hying out its last days, and is joining with all obsolete and obsolescent forces in an attempt to preserve tottering wage-slavery.
Advanced Europe is commanded by a bourgeoisie which supports everything that is backward. The Europe of our day is advanced not thanks to, but in spite of, the bourgeoisie, for it is only the proletariat that is adding to the million-strong army of fighters for a better future. It alone preserves and spreads implacable enmity towards backwardness, savagery, privilege, slavery and the humiliation of man by man.
In "advanced" Europe, the sole advanced class is the proletariat. As for the living bourgeoisie, it is prepared to go to any length of savagery, brutality and crime in order to uphold dying capitalist slavery.
And a more striking example of this decay of the entire European bourgeoisie can scarcely be cited than the support it is lending to reaction in Asia in furtherance of the selfish aims of the financial manipulators and capitalist swindlers.
Everywhere in Asia a mighty democratic movement is growing, spreading and gaining in strength. The bourgeoisie there is as yet siding with the people against reaction. Hundreds of millions of people are awakening to life, light and freedom. What delight this world movement is arousing in the hearts of all class-conscious workers, who know that the path to collectivism lies through democracy! What sympathy for young Asia imbues all honest democrats!
And "advanced" Europe? It is plundering China and helping the foes of democracy, the foes of freedom in China!
Here is a simple but instructive little calculation. A new Chinese loan has been concluded against Chinese democracy: "Europe" is for Yuan Shih-kai, who is preparing a military dictatorship. Why does it support him? Because it is good business. The loan has been concluded for about 250,000,000 rubles, at the rate of 84 to a 100. That means that the bourgeois of "Europe" will pay the Chinese 210,000,000 rubles, but will take from the public 225,000,000 rubles. There you have at one stroke—a clear profit of fifteen million rubles in a few weeks! It really is a "clear" profit, isn't it?
What if the Chinese people do not recognise the loan? China, after all, is a republic, and the majority in parliament are against the loan.
Oh, then "advanced" Europe will raise a cry about "civilisation", "order", "culture" and "fatherland"! It will set the guns in motion and, in alliance with Yuan Shih-kai, that adventurer, traitor and friend of reaction, crush a republic in "backward" Asia.
All the commanders of Europe, all the European bourgeoisie are in alliance with all the forces of reaction and medievalism in China.
But all young Asia, that is, the hundreds of millions of Asian working people, has a reliable ally in the proletariat of all civilised countries. No force on earth can prevent its victory, which will liberate both the peoples of Europe and the peoples of Asia.
Published: Pravda No. 113, May 18, 1913. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 99-100.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
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