2213) Armenian Nationalist Movements by A.B. Karinian

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  SiteForeword
I A short history Mastermind of the Dashnagtzoutiun
Party and Program

II Nationalist Organizations
Success of the Dashnag propaganda
Organization and Financial sources
The critical situation of the Caucasian Armenians
Dashnags' 'socialist' discourse

III Class structure of Dashnagism
Armenian Policy of the Tsarist regime
Offensive of the 'Armenian Volunteers'
A new step in Armenian Nationalism
Cooperation of the Dashnag government with imperialists . .

In order to have a proper insight into the 'Armenian Question' one must examine the origins of the Dashnagtzoutiun Party, the undisputed champion of Armenian nationalism. The Armenian bourgeoisie had reached a critical point towards 1870-1880, and Armenian nationalism had assumed a definite character. The roots of the 1915 incidents and what came after dates from this period.

The present study by A.B. Karinian, a prominent statesman and scholar of Soviet Armenia, sheds light on the period in question. This has been my aim, he says, in writing the work published in three instalments, under the title of 'The Critical Aspects of the Armenian Nationalist Movement' in the issue no: 2, of 29 February 1928 (7-8) and in the issue of 15 October (year and month not indicated) of the Bolshevik periodical, Zakavkazaya, the official monthly of the Caucasian Regional Committee of VKP (b), printed in Tbilisi. The Armenian statesman clearly explains the role played by the Dashnags and masses of its Armenian followers up until the 1920s.

This study of great importance by Karinian has been published in its entirety. To facilitate the reading of this extensive study Kaynak Yayınları has added subtitles to it.

Who is Karinian?
Artashes Balasievich Karinian (Gabrielian) was born in Baku on November 11, 1886. He became a member of the Soviet Union Communist Party in 1907 and graduated from Petersburg University. Right after graduation, he joined the revolutionary movement in Baku. In 1918, he took office as public commissar (minister) of the Baku Commune. Following the establishment of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic in South Caucasus, he was promoted to the position of the president of the Economic Committee. During the years between 1924-28 he worked as the head of the Central Executive Committee of Armenia. The years 1929-1930 saw him as Deputy Commissar of Education of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. He took up publishing in 1906 and wrote articles for the Bolshevik periodicals like Iskra, Bakinsky, Rabotchi, Pravda, Put Pravdi. Karinian, also a member of the Academy of Sciences of U.S.S.R., was awarded the Lenin Order and the Proletarian Red Flag medal for his outstanding services. When he died in 1982, he was the writer of many works in literature besides having written on politics, economics and history as a critic.

Karinian's Observations
One of the prominent leaders of Soviet Armenia, Karinian, stresses the following points in the present work, published in the official organ of the Bolshevik Party:

- Turkish Armenians had much better living conditions in comparison to the Russian Armenians;
- One of the reasons of belligerence of Armenian nationalism must be sought in its collaboration with imperialism, since the dawn of the Armenian bourgeoisie;

- "Dashnagism" is a continuation of aggressive Armenian nationalism.
- Dashnags have always been a tool in the hands of Western imperialism and Tsarist Russia;
- Dashnags had launched a chauvinistic campaign, against Turkey, long before World War I. They fought under the command of imperialist armies, as volunteers, not only on the South Caucasian front, but also on the Gallipoli front.

- The greatest obstacle before 'Great Armenia' was the undeniable minority of Armenians as compared to the Muslim population. This was the reason why the Armenian volunteers set out to destroy systematically the Turkish and the Kurdish population. The massacres were so atrocious that they infuriated even the Tsarist commanders who had been using the Dashnags;

- The Dashnag Armenia, formed in the aftermath of World War I, built up a wall between the young Turkey born from a revolution and the Soviet Russia:

- The land policy of the Dasnag government was based on the pillage of Muslim villages.

The Armenian Question in Karinian's other Works
The study on the Armenian Question by Karinian is not limited to the present work. In his book, published in the Armenian language in 1925 entitled The Imperialist War and Armenia, A.B. Karinian laid the blame on the European nations and the Christian missionaries, particularly accusing the Dasnags of having been responsible for the tragedy to which the Armenians fell victim:

"It was the Christian population in Turkey that aided and abetted the Europeans. This state of affairs was a strong blow on the Armenians, Syrians and the Greeks of Turkish citizenship, serving the cause of imperialism. Therefore, the real perpetrators of the massacre of Armenians are the European imperialists and Christian missionaries at their behest, during the 'Transfer of Culture'; this having been to the detriment of Turkey rather than to her benefit, as their venture and political engagement caused widespread devastation of the country's riches, and the population to perish(...)

"Thus, the Dashnagtzoutiun served the cause of the imperialist powers with an inexhaustible energy, razing the Turkish Armenia and Shiraki and wrecking havoc on the fertile region and the riches of Armenia. (...)
"Depredation and destruction of the provinces of the Turkish Armenia, the annihilation and evacuation of Cilicia ... Wherever the hand of the imperialistic powers reached, there the Armenian proletariat were exterminated (...) ... serving the cause of the imperialists."1

Karinian, in an article on Minas Cheraz, a prominent Armenian diplomat and politician of the pre-revolutionary period, sees the Dashnag diplomacy as the author of the incidents:

"Even today after so many tragedies, the author of the massacre of Turkish Armenians, chants airs of "civilized Europe", with a smile on his lips, in his distant hideaway. It is high time now we put an end to this grotesque comedy."2

Karinian, in his work titled "Old Turkey and Armenians of Turkey" which was published in 1926 in two volumes, points out that the Turkish Armenians had a more comfortable and prosperous life under the Ottoman government as compared to the living conditions of Armenians in Armenia; furthermore, he underlines the Armenian chauvinistic historiography's distortion of actual facts, aiming at painting a pessimistic picture of the socio-economic conditions of the Turkish Armenians."3

In another article on the restructuring of the agricultural economy in Armenia and the mission of the Soviet regime, Karinian touches on important points, providing clues as to the perpetrators of the dramatic events. With reference to the land reform that he propounds, he opposes the parcelling out of lands for the immigrants coming from Turkey, and speaks in support of the necessity of putting an end to the chauvinistic and colonialist illusions which aims at the expansion of the Armenian territory by reclaiming land from Turkey.

"The Dashnagtzoutiun, setting out from the argument of 'unitary, national and indivisible Armenia', destroyed all non-Armenian elements trying to assemble, or see assembled, the nation within the territorial borders of Armenia. Increasing the number of Armenian elements in a small and poor country, it continuously nurtured the mass of people with the ideal of the annexation of the region in Turkey inhabited by Armenians. The nationalistic fancy, developed in the atmosphere of this ideological program, led to the designing of a nationalistic framework, which seemed quite clear and logical at first sight."4

Karinian, starting from this premise, argues that in order to uproot the nationalistic romantic ideology and to form a firmly united front of peoples in the Near East, the Armenians who immigrated from Turkey should be settled in such regions as North Caucasus, Kuban and Donbass. He furthermore points out that this would provide a breathing space for a starving and ruined Armenia. Karinian, one of the prominent theoreticians of Armenian Bolsheviks, stresses the fact that this is the minimum program of land reform and that there is no other way out, while he states he is against settling the Armenians living abroad in Armenia. For, not only was the land available restricted, but also 'Armenian Nationalism' had to be rooted out:

"The facts are undeniable, they have often been expressed by the Soviet Press in Armenia. With this idea, they have insisted on 'settling all Armenians' in Armenia, where different peoples have been living."5

The Route of Armenian Nationalism (1926); Dashnagtzoutiun face to face with Facts (1926); Oil and the Armenian Question (1929); The New Standing of Nationalism (1929); Dashnagtzoutiun and its Champions (1932) are among Karinian's works that display the inside story of the Armenian Question. These books, written in Armenian, are being translated into Turkish.

Mikoian confirms Karinian
The frank observations of Karinian as statesman and scholar are shared by other Armenian Bolsheviks. It would not be out of place here to speak about the report that A.I. Mikoian, one of the prominent leaders of the Soviet Armenia and the USSR, submitted to Lenin at the beginning of December 1919.6 Mikoian, who was at the time a member of the Caucasian Regional Committee of the Russian Communist Party; upon being commissioned by the Committee, crossed over the Denikin front to meet Lenin, in Moscow. In his report of sixteen pages he wrote at the beginning of December, he exposes his theses related to the situation in Caucasia and the policies to be pursued, under numbered subtitles. The fourth and the last subtitle of the report is "On the Armenian Question". Mikoian, an Armenian himself, confirms Karinian's theses and sheds light on the present arguments.

"1. The central organs of our party attached particular importance to the Armenian Question, an importance much higher than the attention directed either at the Georgian Question or at the problems of other Caucasion nations. This was a consequence of the Armenians' pre-war situation and of the problem that involved the Turkish Armenia. The post-war predicament proved that these policies regarding the Armenian Question were wrong and ungrounded, even dangerous as to the benefits expected to be derived from the war waged against imperialism.
"2. Had the Armenian population in the Turkish Armenia comprised an important portion of the population, or even the majority in many places, before the outbreak of war and had their struggle been directed against the feudal-despotic regime of Turkey in the name of national independence, their action might have been interpreted as an objectively revolutionary movement, even though not wholly justifiable. Yet,our observations during and after the war proved that the reverse was true."

3. In his argument, Mikoian points at the fact that notwithstanding this situation, because of the misguided practices of Armenian nationalism, the region was sparsely populated with Armenians. Stating that the Muslim population also suffered deep afflictions, he continues as follows:

"4. The Armenian chauvinists, supported by imperialist allies and the extremely reactionary general Denikin and labouring under the delusion of building the 'Great Armenia' –the borders of which would comprise seven provinces stretching from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea – committed themselves to the target in question for the sake of which they seem to be ready to perpetrate crimes. The absence of Armenians and the prevalence of Muslim population in the region does not brazen them. The so-called 'Great Armenia' cannot be built on the majority of population, it can only be established under duress, at imperialists' gunpoint, with bloodshed, with bullets rending asunder the innocent bodies of 'foreigners' and by 'purging' Armenia from guilty elements, the Muslims. This program aiming at the creation of an inferno, a nightmare and an aggression is supported with ever increasing intensity by imperialist allies whose intention it is to delineate a region which would allow them to ransack Turkey and turn to good account their colonialism and capital through the good offices of Armenians whom they consider to be their best, ablest and the most loyal executive agents."

The Armenian communist leader Mikoian, in the report he submitted to Lenin, while he points out the path that the Party should follow, does not fail to touch upon past errors.

"5. Can the Communist Party support the idea of a 'Great and Independent Armenia'? The chauvinists' claim that refusing to deal with this emerging realistic situation would be tantamount to serving the cause of the Turkish tyrants and henchmen and to corroborating the scheme of extermination of the Armenian population and of their anticipations, thus ruling out Armenians' self-determination. (...)

"Our Party, who sympathizes with the innocent Armenian victims, is reluctant to share the views of Armenian nationalists and their imperialist allies and refuses to be the henchmen of the enslaved poor Turkish folk and the thousands of new innocent victims in the name of the homicide gang of Armenian chauvinists. Our party cannot espouse any argument for a Turkish Armenia, be it 'great' or 'small'. The right of self-determination of a nation is, for us, a real right rather than a historical one.

"6. Carrying on our former policy with regard to the Armenian Question and supporting the idea of an independent Turkish Armenia means forming a united front against millions of Muslims in the East and the revolting Muslim population of Anatolia, who have already raised arms against the marauding schemes of the reactionary chauvinist government that has 'liberated' the Caucasian Armenia, and of the League of Nations, their protector, and the Allied Powers . This will not only hamper the anti-imperialistic struggle of the Muslim population of the East, but will also bring to a halt their socio-political development process and the crystallization of class distinctions among the Muslim population in Turkey.

"7. Thus, the Soviet Russia's declaration of the right of self-determination of Turkish Armenia (1917) was a serious mistake. It had no positive results other than serving to incite not only the Turkish Muslim population, but also the Caucasian Muslims, to rebellion. The Soviet government recognized the lawfulness of all the leaders of Armenian people, while keeping silent when it came to Muslims, thus appearing to be siding with the Armenian chauvinists against the Muslims. (...) As a small group of Armenian comrades in Caucasia, we espoused this view the very day when the said declaration was proclaimed. It is too late now to redress this error. Nevertheless, it is essential to trace a correct path in the Armenian Question as soon as possible. The following points must be acknowledged: a) The Armenian national movement, as a consequence of dialectical development, turned from a liberation cause into its opposite, a reactionary movement and became an occupational imperialist movement; b) The idea of a Turkish Armenia, and, in general, of a 'Great, united and independent Armenia' is a precarious, criminal and reactionary illusion which our party should fight against; c) The Armenian issue has lost its former historical significance, once the Turkish Armenia Question, the most important part of it, has fallen into desuetude; it ceased to be an international affair of Europe, as it turned into a Russian affair just like in the case of Georgia and Azerbaijan, etc."
Having traced the path that his party should follow, Mikoian, before concluding his report, draws attention to the following points as regards the action to be taken with reference to the Armenian Question, in parallel with Karinian's ideas.

"8. With reference to the Turkish Armenians immigrated to Caucasia, one thing remains to be done. After the Caucasian Armenia has actually established Soviet power and the 'Great Armenia' ideology has been not verbally but factually discredited, the immigrants have ceased to nourish hostile feelings toward the Turks and have permanently stopped prosecuting the Muslims in Armenia, after the Muslim masses are confident about their security and good relations with the people of Turkey have been re-established, then will it be possible to send them back to Turkey where they used to live. This is the only way out of the present situation.

"9. Communist activities among the Turkish Armenians cannot be conducted by the so-called Armenian National-Communist Party, who is the author of the massacres of the Muslim population, on the pretext of fighting against anti-revolutionaries, for the sake of the Soviet rule and who, by advocating a 'Unified Armenia of the Caucasus and Turkey, practices Armenian chauvinism with a sauce of 'communism'. The Central Committee of our Party, in consideration of the phenomena generated by different forms of State and various borders, must suggest to the sincere Armenian communists, desirous to work among the Armenians in Turkey, to form an organization in collaboration with the Turkish communist groups, within a single Turkish Communist Party, and, if need be, to build an Armenian section within it. The Central Committee must advise them that this communist involvement does not purport to demarcate the borders or set up a separate State, but that the fundamental question and the gist of the matter lie in the development of solidarity among the proletarian masses and of a background for joint action for a peasant and worker state power against the oppressors. Only in this way can the political progress in the country, through a close cooperation between the Armenian workers, peasants and the Muslims in Turkey can be secured. Otherwise, no matter how successful an action may be envisaged among the Armenians, it will inevitably end up with the transformation into an Armenian chauvinistic movement likely to generate unrest, triggering objectively anti-revolutionary reactions."

The Armenian Bolshevik leader, Mikoian also touches on points closely related to the Armenian Question under other subtitles in his report entitled On the Caucasian Issue written at the beginning of December 1919 and reports the practices of the Dashnag government. Mikoian, who defines the Dashnagtzoutiun rule as the regime of national massacres and stealing and looting, notes that systematic massacres were pursued by the government against the Muslims with the objective of 'Armenizing' the country. He further mentions that, save for a small minority living in villages, the substantial majority of Armenians are chauvinistic.7

Mikoian, in a report dated 2 June 1919 forwarded to Lenin and Stalin, stresses that the Dashnag government pursued a policy of destroying Muslims in Turkey."8

Mikoyan's Teachings
Karinians were able to see the plain facts thanks to their perspicacity in safeguarding the common interests of Armenian people and of the entire regional population with whom they shared their lives. Their decisiveness in dealing with the errors of the Dashnagzoutiun is a consequence of this correct positioning. They saw the necessity of dealing with these mistakes in order to protect a nation from being the tool of imperialist powers and help them lead a peaceful coexistence with the regional people. This attitude was a product of the internationalist view that linked Armenian people to humanity. Karinian reminds us that putting up a bold front against imperialism is the first condition for man to live in a milieu where human rights are observed and scholarly pursuits are adopted for the welfare of the society.

The attitude of revolutionaries such as Karinian and Mikoian should set an example for Orhan Pamuks, Taner Akçams, Halil Berktays and to some Armenian intellectuals who have specialized in denying facts. The Armenian intellectual, if he is a revolutionary, positions with facts. The pseudo-intellectual, who has a Turkish name, when he starts serving imperialism, finds himself obliged to deny the facts. Karinians are eventually owned by all of us, all the peoples of the region, while Pamuks stand out as simple officials of the imperialists on the other side of the Atlantic.

Mehmet Perinçek
11 March 2006, ul. Generala Tyuleneva/Moscow

1 A. Karinian, Sobranie Sochineniy, c. 1, Yerevan, 1934, pp 117, 121, 162 226, et seq. citedin K.N. Karamian, Polojenie Zapadnth Armian, "Armianski Vopros Mejdunarodnaya Diplomatia V Posledney Tchetverti XIX Veka I Matchale XX Veka, Yerevanski Gosudarstvenniy Universitet, Yerevan, 1972, p. 14 et seq.

2 Op.cit, p.15.

3 Op.cit, p. 16.

4 Op.cit, p. 16 et seq.

5 Op.cit, 53-55, reported from, p. 17.

6 Anastas Ivanovich Mikoian was born on November 25, 1895. Soviet leader and member of Politburo, Mikoian was elected Champion of the Proletariat (1943). From 1915 on he was member of SUCP, the Executive Committee of the Supreme Soviet. After his education at the Armenian Ecclesiastical Seminary in Tbilisi, he attended the first year of the Etjmiadzin Academy of Priests. He joined the Russian Social Democrat Party (RSDIP), and conducted the party activities at Etjmiadzin in Tbilisi, and was assigned a task in the social democrats' publications. In 1917, in the wake of the February revolution, he organized the Etjmiadzin Soviet before going on his mission as propagandist in Tbilisi and Baku. He was a member of the Tbilisi Party Committee. He took part in 1917 revolution as delegate in the First Caucasian Bolshevik Organization. He became a member of the Baku Committee Presidium of the Bolsheviks. He took office as editor of the newspaper Social Democrat, published in Armenian before he became editor-in-chief of the newspaper Izvestiya Bakinskogo Sovyeta. He had a hectic life in Baku while leading the underground organization. In 1918 he was shot at by the Musavat government before being taken prisoner by the British troops. Member of the Caucasian Regional Committee in 1919, he acted as liaison officer with Moscow. Having been commissioned by the aforementioned Committee in October 1919, he crossed over the Dennikin front and arrived in Moscow to meet Lenin. He participated in the meetings of the Politburo and Organization Bureau of the Russian Communist Party, Central Committee according to the decisions made for organizing the Party's Baku and Transcaucasia branches. He was in Baku during the period of the establishment of the Soviet authority over Azerbaijan in April 1920, having executive duties. In 1920, he took office at Nijni Novgorod. He was secretary to the Southeast Bureau RKP (b) in 1922-24. He acted as secretary to the North Caucasian Regional Committee during 1924-26. Member of the Revolutionary Military Council of North Caucasian Military Area, he became the Domestic and Foreign trade Public Commissar of U.S.S.R. in 1926-30. He performed the function of the Supplies Commissar (Minister) during 1930-34 before assuming charge as the Food Industry Commissar in 1938. He worked as Foreign Trade Commissar during 1938-46. During World War II, he took charge of many a military and administrative mission. He acted as Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of U.S.S.R. and as assistant of the President in 1955-64. During the period in question, he was Foreign Trade Minister and Minister of Commerce of U.S.S.R. He was promoted to the position of the President of the Supreme Soviet Presidium of U.S.S.R. He was member of many a senior organ ranging from the Party Central Committee to the Politburo. He wrote numerous works on Soviet Economy and history of the party. He was rewarded the Lenin Order and the Red Flag Medallion

7 For a complete report, see: The Russian Socio-political History State Archives (RGASPI) fond 5, list 1, file 1202, pp. 2-9, 2 and back page-9 and back page.

8 RGASPI, fond 80, list 3, file 20, pp. 1-4.

Translated by Ender Gürol

This Introduction is Kindly Provided by Mehmet Perincek
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