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The first act of the Soviet state in effect formulated the prime principles of Soviet foreign policy – socialist internationalism and the peaceful coexistence of states with different social structures.
The socialist revolution in Russia confirmed one of the most important tenets of Marxism – that the laboring masses are the vehicle of history and that their active and conscious role after liberation from oppression and exploitation will constantly grow.
The Soviet power established by the October Socialist Revolution is one of the forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The new state differed fundamentally from the bourgeois state not only in the forms of state organization, but above all in the historical role that it played.
From the first days of its existence, the Soviet government struggled actively for the conclusion of peace. On November 8, the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs sent an official note to the governments of the warring states proposing that peace negotiations be started. The note was handed to the ambassadors and emissaries of the allied states, published in the Soviet press and repeatedly broadcast over radio. A few days later, the Soviet Republic sent a note to countries not participating in the war (Sweden, Norway, Spain, Denmark and others) asking them to assist in beginning peace negotiations.
The Soviet government three times (November 28, December 6 and January 30) sent notes and appeals directly to the governments of the United States, Britain, France and other powers proposing that peace negotiations be commenced. However, the political leaders of the Entente countries and the United States responded to none of these notes. The ambassadors of Britain, the United States, France, Italy and other countries accredited to Russia, acting in conformity with instructions received from their governments, decided not to establish any relations with the Soviet government. For instance, on November 18 the US Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, instructed his ambassador not to respond to any of the Soviet peace proposals. The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, stated that the British government did not intend to recognize the government of Lenin but would support the Cossacks and the Ukrainians, i.e., Kaledin and the counterrevolutionary Central Rada. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pichon, announced at a session of the Chamber of Deputies that France would maintain no relations with the Soviet government and would not conduct negotiations toward peace.
The Inter-Allied Conference in Paris at the end of November, 1917, adopted the same resolution. The heads of the governments and the ministers representing the interests of the financial and industrial circles of Britain, France, the United States and other countries wished to have no dealings with the worker-peasant government of Russia, which had infringed upon the “sacred” right of private property; conclusion of a democratic peace without annexations or reparations–the banner under which they were conducting the war–did not suit them.
Soviet Russia’s proposals for peace were rejected by the governments of
the Entente countries, but they were supported by the working people
and many progressive organizations in Europe, Asia and America. Though
the bourgeois press distorted the character of events in Russia, the
decrees on peace and on land, the information on the Soviet state’s
peace proposals,\ became known and the sympathies of the working people
for the Soviet Republic became ever more clear.
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