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The Crisis in Russia by Arthur Ransome

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At the so-called Democratic Conference, intended as a
sort of life belt for the sinking Provisional Government,
only eight of the Trades Union delegates voted for a
continuance of the coalition, whereas seventy three voted against.

This consciously revolutionary character throughout their
much shorter existence has distinguished Russian from, for
example, English Trades Unions. It has set their course for

In October, 1917, they got the revolution for which they had
been asking since March. Since then, one Congress after
another has illustrated the natural and inevitable development
of Trades Unions inside a revolutionary State
which, like most if not all revolutionary States, is attacked
simultaneously by hostile armies from without and by
economic paralysis from within. The excited and
lighthearted Trades Unionists of three years ago, who
believed that the mere decreeing of "workers' control" would
bring all difficulties automatically to an end, are now
unrecognizable. We have seen illusion after illusion scraped
from them by the pumice-stone of experience, while the
appalling state of the industries which they now largely
control, and the ruin of the country in which they attained
that control, have forced them to alter their immediate aims
to meet immediate dangers, and have accelerated the process
of adaptation made inevitable by their victory.

The process of adaptation has had the natural result of
producing new internal cleavages. Change after change in
their programme and theory of the Russian Trades Unionists
has been due to the pressure of life itself, to the urgency of
struggling against the worsening of conditions already almost
unbearable. It is perfectly natural that those Unions which
hold back from adaptation and resent the changes are
precisely those which, like that of the printers, are not
intimately concerned in any productive process, are
consequently outside the central struggle, and, while feeling
the discomforts of change, do not feel its need.

The opposition inside the productive Trades Unions is
of two kinds. There is the opposition, which is of merely
psychological interest, of old Trades Union leaders who
have always thought of themselves as in opposition to the
Government, and feel themselves like watches without
mainsprings in their new role of Government supporters.
These are men in whom a natural intellectual stiffness makes
difficult the complete change of front which was the logical
result of the revolution for which they had been working.
But beside that there is a much more interesting opposition
based on political considerations. The Menshevik standpoint
is one of disbelief in the permanence of the revolution, or
rather in the permanence of the victory of the town workers.
They point to the divergence in interests between the town
and country populations, and are convinced that sooner or
later the peasants will alter the government to suit
themselves, when, once more, it will be a government
against which the town workers will have to defend their
interests. The Mensheviks object to the identification of the
Trades Unions with the Government apparatus on the
ground that when this change, which they expect comes
about, the Trade Union movement will be so far
emasculated as to be incapable of defending the town
workers against the peasants who will then be the ruling
class. Thus they attack the present Trades Union leaders for
being directly influenced by the Government in fixing the
rate of wages, on the ground that this establishes a
precedent from which, when the change comes, it will be
difficult to break away. The Communists answer them by
insisting that it is to everybody's interest to pull Russia
through the crisis, and that if the Trades Unions were for
such academic reasons to insist on their complete
independence instead of in every possible way collaborating
with the Government, they would be not only increasing the
difficulties of the revolution in its economic crisis, but
actually hastening that change which the Mensheviks,
though they regard it as inevitable, cannot be supposed to
desire. This Menshevik opposition is strongest in the
Ukraine. Its strength may be judged from the figures of the
Congress in Moscow this spring when, of 1,300 delegates,
over 1,000 were Communists or sympathizers with them; 63
were Mensheviks and 200 were non-party, the bulk of whom,
I fancy, on this point would agree with the Mensheviks.

But apart from opposition to the "stratification" of the
Trades Unions, there is a cleavage cutting across the
Communist Party itself and uniting in opinion, though not in
voting, the Mensheviks and a section of their Communist
opponents. This cleavage is over the question of "workers'
control." Most of those who, before the revolution, looked
forward to the "workers' control", thought of it as meaning
that the actual workers in a given factory would themselves
control that factory, just as a board of directors controls a
factory under the ordinary capitalist system. The
Communists, I think, even today admit the ultimate
desirability of this, but insist that the important question is
not who shall give the orders, but in whose interest the
orders shall be given. I have nowhere found this matter

properly thrashed out, though feeling upon it is extremely
strong. Everybody whom I asked about it began at once to
address me as if I were a public meeting, so that I found
it extremely difficult to get from either side a statement not
free from electioneering bias. I think, however, that it
may be fairly said that all but a few lunatics have abandoned
the ideas of 1917, which resulted in the workmen in a
factory deposing any technical expert or manager whose
orders were in the least irksome to them. These ideas and
the miseries and unfairness they caused, the stoppages of
work, the managers sewn up in sacks, ducked in ponds and
trundled in wheelbarrows, have taken their places as
curiosities of history. The change in these ideas has been
gradual. The first step was the recognition that the State as a
whole was interested in the efficiency of each factory, and,
therefore, that the workmen of each factory had no right to
arrange things with no thought except for themselves. The
Committee idea was still strong, and the difficulty was got
over by assuring that the technical staff should be
represented on the Committee, and that the casting vote
between workers and technical experts or managers should
belong to the central economic organ of the State. The next
stage was when the management of a workshop was given a
so called "collegiate" character, the workmen appointing
representatives to share the responsibility of the "bourgeois
specialist." The bitter controversy now going on
concerns the seemingly inevitable transition to a later stage in
which, for all practical purposes, the bourgeois specialist will
be responsible solely to the State. Many Communists,
including some of the best known, while recognizing the
need of greater efficiency if the revolution is to survive at all,
regard this step as definitely retrograde and likely in the long
run to make the revolution not worth preserving.*[(*)Thus
Rykov, President of the Supreme Council of Public Economy:
"There is a possibility of so constructing a State that in it
there will be a ruling caste consisting chiefly of administrative
engineers, technicians, etc.; that is, we should get a form of
State economy based on a small group of a ruling caste
whose privilege in this case would be the management of the
workersand peasants." That criticism of individual control, from
a communist, goes a good deal further than most of the
criticism from people avowedly in opposition.] The enormous
importance attached by everybody to this question of individual
or collegiate control, may bejudged from the fact that at
every conference I attended, and every discussion to which

I listened, this point, which might seem of minor importance,
completely overshadowed the question of industrial conscription
which, at least inside the Communist Party, seemed generally
taken for granted. It may be taken now as certain
that the majority of the Communists are in favor of
individual control. They say that the object of "workers'
control" before the revolution was to ensure that factories
should be run in the interests of workers as well of
employers. In Russia now there are no employers other
than the State as a whole, which is exclusively made
up of employees. (I am stating now the view of the
majority at the last Trades Union Congress at
which I was present, April, 1920.) They say that "workers'
control" exists in a larger and more efficient manner than
was suggested by the old pre-revolutionary statements on
that question. Further, they say that if workers' control
ought to be identified with Trade Union control, the Trades
Unions are certainly supreme in all those matters with which
they have chiefly concerned themselves, since they dominate
the Commissariat of Labor, are very largely represented on
the Supreme Council of Public Economy, and fix the rates
of pay for their own members.*[(*)The wages of workmen are
decided by the Trades Unions, who draw up "tariffs" for the
whole country, basing their calculations on three criteria:
(I) The price of food in the open market in the district
where a workman is employed, (2)the price of food supplied
by the State on the card system, (3)the quality of the workman.
This last is decided by a special section of the Factory Committee,
which in each factory is an organ of the Trades Union.]

The enormous Communist majority, together with the
fact that however much they may quarrel with each other
inside the party, the Communists will go to almost any
length to avoid breaking the party discipline, means that at
present the resolutions of Trades Union Congresses will not
be different from those of Communists Congresses on the
same subjects. Consequently, the questions which really
agitate the members, the actual cleavages inside that
Communist majority, are comparatively invisible at a Trades
Union Congress. They are fought over with great bitterness,
but they are not fought over in the Hall of the Unions-once
the Club of the Nobility, with on its walls on Congress days
the hammer and spanner of the engineers, the pestle and
trowel of the builders, and so on-but in the Communist

Congresses in the Kremlin and throughout the country.
And, in the problem with which in this book we are mainly
concerned, neither the regular business of the Unions nor
their internal squabbles affects the cardinal fact that in
the present crisis the Trades Unions are chiefly important as
part of that organization of human will with which the
Communists are attempting to arrest the steady progress of
Russia's economic ruin. Putting it brutally, so as to offend
Trades Unionists and Communists alike, they are an
important part of the Communist system of internal propaganda,
and their whole organization acts as a gigantic
megaphone through which the Communist Party makes
known its fears, its hopes and its decisions to the great
masses of the industrial workers.


When I crossed the Russian front in October, 1919, the first
thing I noticed in peasants' cottages, in the villages, in the
little town where I took the railway to Moscow, in every
railway station along the line, was the elaborate pictorial
propaganda concerned with the war. There were posters
showing Denizen standing straddle over Russia's coal, while
the factory chimneys were smokeless and the engines idle in
the yards, with the simplest wording to show why it was
necessary to beat Denizen in order to get coal; there were
posters illustrating the treatment of the peasants by the
Whites; posters against desertion, posters illustrating the
Russian struggle against the rest of the world, showing a
workman, a peasant, a sailor and a soldier fighting in
self-defence against an enormous Capitalistic Hydra. There
were also-and this I took as a sign of what might
be-posters encouraging the sowing of corn, and posters
explaining in simple pictures improved methods of
agriculture. Our own recruiting propaganda during the war,

good as that was, was never developed to such a point of
excellence, and knowing the general slowness with which
the Russian centre reacts on its periphery, I was amazed not
only at the actual posters, but at their efficient distribution
thus far from Moscow.

I have had an opportunity of seeing two of the propaganda
trains, the object of which is to reduce the size of Russia
politically by bringing Moscow to the front and to the out of
the way districts, and so to lessen the difficulty of obtaining
that general unity of purpose which it is the object of
propaganda to produce. The fact that there is some hope
that in the near future the whole of this apparatus may be
turned over to the propaganda of industry makes it perhaps
worth while to describe these trains in detail.

Russia, for purposes of this internal propaganda, is divided
into five sections, and each section has its own train,
prepared for the particular political needs of the section it
serves, bearing its own name, carrying its regular crew-a
propaganda unit, as corporate as the crew of a ship. The
five trains at present in existence are the "Lenin," the
"Sverdlov," the "October Revolution," the "Red East,"
which is now in Turkestan, and the "Red Cossack," which,
ready to start for Rostov and the Don, was standing, in the
sidings at the Kursk station, together with the "Lenin,"
returned for refitting and painting.

Burov, the organizer of these trains, a ruddy, enthusiastic
little man in patched leather coat and breeches, took a party
of foreigners-a Swede, a Norwegian, two Czechs, a German
and myself to visit his trains, together with Radek, in the
hope that Radek would induce Lenin to visit them, in which
case Lenin would be kinematographed for the delight of the
villagers, and possibly the Central Committee would, if
Lenin were interested, lend them more lively support.

We walked along the "Lenin" first, at Burov's special
request. Burov, it seems, has only recently escaped from
what he considered a bitter affliction due to the Department
of Proletarian Culture, who, in the beginning, for the

decoration of his trains, had delivered him bound hand
and foot to a number of Futurists. For that reason
he wanted us to see the "Lenin" first, in order that we might
compare it with the result of his emancipation, the "Red
Cossack," painted when the artists "had been brought under
proper control." The "Lenin" had been painted a year and a
half ago, when, as fading hoarding in the streets of Moscow
still testify, revolutionary art was dominated by the Futurist
movement. Every carriage is decorated with most striking
but not very comprehensible pictures in the brightest colors,
and the proletariat was called upon to enjoy what the
pre-revolutionary artistic public had for the most part failed to
understand. Its pictures are "art for art's sake," and cannot
have done more than astonish, and perhaps terrify, the
peasants and the workmen of the country towns who had the
luck to see them. The "Red Cossack" is quite different.
As Burov put it with deep satisfaction, "At first we were in the
artists' hands, and now the artists are in our hands," a sentence
suggesting the most horrible possibilities of official
art under socialism, although, of course, bad art flourishes
pretty well even under other systems.

I inquired exactly how Burov and his
friends kept the artists in the right way, and received the
fullest explanation. The political section of the organization
works out the main idea and aim for each picture, which
covers the whole side of a wagon. This idea is then
submitted to a "collective" of artists, who are jointly
responsible for its realization in paint. The artists compete
with each other for a prize which is awarded for the best
design, the judges being the artists themselves. It is the art
of the poster, art with a purpose of the most definite kind.
The result is sometimes amusing, interesting, startling, but,
whatever else it does, hammers home a plain idea.

Thus the picture on the side of one wagon is divided into
two sections. On the left is a representation of the peasants
and workmen of the Soviet Republic. Under it are the
words, "Let us not find ourselves again..." and then, in
gigantic lettering under the right-hand section of the picture,
"... in the HEAVEN OF THE WHITES." This heaven is

shown by an epauletted officer hitting a soldier in the face,
as was done in the Tsar's army and in at least one army of
the counter revolutionaries, and workmen tied to
stakes, as was done by the Whites in certain towns in the
south. Then another wagon illustrating the methods of Tsardom,
with a State vodka shop selling its wares to wretched folk,
who, when drunk on the State vodka, are flogged by the
State police. Then there is a wagon showing the different
Cossacks-of the Don, Terek, Kuban, Ural-riding in pairs.
The Cossack infantry is represented on the other side of
this wagon. On another wagon is a very jolly picture of
Stenka Razin in his boat with little old-fashioned brass
cannon, rowing up the river. Underneath is written the
words: "I attack only the rich, with the poor I divide
everything." On one side are the poor folk running from
their huts to join him, on the other the rich folk firing at him
from their castle. One wagon is treated purely decoratively,
with a broad effective characteristically South Russian
design, framing a huge inscription to the effect that the
Cossacks need not fear that the Soviet Republic will
interfere with their religion, since under its regime every
man is to be free to believe exactly what he likes.
Then there is an entertaining wagon, showing Kolchak
sitting inside a fence in Siberia with a Red soldier
on guard, Judenitch sitting in a little circle with a sign-post
to show it is Esthonia, and Denikin running at full speed
to the asylum indicated by another sign-post on which is
the crescent of the Turkish Empire. Another lively picture
shows the young Cossack girls learning to read, with a
most realistic old Cossack woman telling them they had
better not. But there is no point in describing every
wagon. There are sixteen wagons in the "Red Cossack,"
and every one is painted all over on both sides.

The internal arrangements of the train are a sufficient proof
that Russians are capable of organization if they set their
minds to it. We went through it, wagon by wagon. One
wagon contains a wireless telegraphy station capable of
receiving news from such distant stations as those of
Carnarvon or Lyons. Another is fitted up as a newspaper
office, with a mechanical press capable of printing an edition
of fifteen thousand daily, so that the district served by the
train, however out of the way, gets its news simultaneously
with Moscow, many days sometimes before the belated Izvestia

or Pravda finds its way to them. And with its latest
news it gets its latest propaganda, and in order to get the
one it cannot help getting the other. Next door to that there
is a kinematograph wagon, with benches to seat about one
hundred and fifty persons. But indoor performances are
only given to children, who must come during the daytime,
or in summer when the evenings are too light to permit an
open air performance. In the ordinary way, at night, a great
screen is fixed up in the open. There is a special hole cut in
the side of the wagon, and through this the kinematograph
throws its picture on the great screen outside, so that several
thousands can see it at once. The enthusiastic Burov insisted
on working through a couple of films for us, showing the
Communists boy scouts in their country camps, children's
meetings in Petrograd, and the big demonstrations of last
year in honor of the Third International. He was extremely
disappointed that Radek, being in a hurry, refused to wait
for a performance of "The Father and his Son," a drama
which, he assured us with tears in his eyes, was so thrilling
that we should not regret being late for our appointments if
we stayed to witness it. Another wagon is fitted up as an
electric power-station, lighting the train, working the
kinematograph and the printing machine,etc. Then there is a
clean little kitchen and dining-room, where, before being
kinematographed-a horrible experience when one is first
quite seriously begged (of course by Burov) to assume an
expression of intelligent interest-we had soup, a plate of
meat and cabbage, and tea. Then there is a wagon
bookshop, where, while customers buy books, a
gramophone sings the revolutionary songs of Demian
Bledny, or speaks with the eloquence ofTrotsky or the logic
of Lenin. Other wagons are the living-rooms of the
personnel, divided up according to their duties-political,
military, instructional, and so forth. For the train has not
merely an agitational purpose. It carries with it a staff to
give advice to local authorities, to explain what has not been
understood, and so in every way to bring the ideas of
the Centre quickly to the backwoods of the Republic. It works
also in the opposite direction, helping to make the voice of
the backwoods heard at Moscow. This is illustrated by a
painted pillar-box on one of the wagons, with a slot for
letters, labelled, "For Complaits of Every Kind." Anybody
anywhere who has grievance, thinks he is being unfairly
treated, or has a suggestion to make, can speak with
the Centre in this way. When the train is on a voyage

telegrams announce its arrival beforehand, so that the local
Soviets can make full use of its advantages, arranging meetings,
kinematograph shows, lectures. It arrives, this amazing
picture train, and proceeds to publish and distribute its
newspapers, sell its books (the bookshop, they tell me, is
literally stormed at every stopping place), send books and
posters for forty versts on either side of the line with the
motor-cars which it carries with it, and enliven the
population with its kinematograph.

I doubt if a more effective instrument of propaganda has
ever been devised. And in considering the question whether
or no the Russians will be able after organizing their military
defence to tackle with similar comparative success the much
more difficult problem of industrial rebirth, the existence of
such instruments, the use of such propaganda is a factor not
to be neglected. In the spring of this year, when the civil
war seemed to be ending, when there was a general belief
that the Poles would accept the peace that Russia offered
(they ignored this offer, advanced, took Kiev, were
driven back to Warsaw, advanced again, and finally agreed
to terms which they could have had in March without
bloodshed any kind), two of these propaganda trains were
already being repainted with a new purpose. It was hoped
that in the near future all five trains would be explaining not
the need to fight but the need to work. Undoubtedly, at the
first possible moment, the whole machinery of agitation, of
posters, of broadsheets and of trains, will be turned over to
the task of explaining the Government's plans for
reconstruction, and the need for extraordinary concentration,
now on transport, now on something else, that these plans


So much for the organization, with its Communist Party, its
system of meetings and counter-meetings, its adapted Trades

Unions, its infinitely various propaganda, which is doing its
best to make headway against ruin. I want now to describe
however briefly, the methods it has adopted in tackling the
worst of all Russia's problems-the non-productivity and
absolute shortage of labor.

I find a sort of analogy between these methods and those
which we used in England in tackling the similar cumulative
problem of finding men for war. Just as we did not proceed
at once to conscription, but began by a great propaganda of
voluntary effort, so the Communists, faced with a need at
least equally vital, did not turn at once to industrial
conscription. It was understood from the beginning that the
Communists themselves were to set an example of
hard work, and I dare say a considerable proportion of them
did so. Every factory had its little Communist Committee,
which was supposed to leaven the factory with enthusiasm,
just as similar groups of Communists drafted into the armies
in moments of extreme danger did, on more than one
occasion, as the non-Communist Commander-in-Chief
admits, turn a rout into a stand and snatch victory from what
looked perilously like defeat. But this was not enough,
arrears of work accumulated, enthusiasm waned,
productivity decreased, and some new move was obviously
necessary. This first move in the direction of industrial
conscription, although no one perceived its tendency at the
time, was the inauguration of what have become known
as "Saturdayings".

Early in 1919 the Central Committee of the Communist
Party put out a circular letter, calling upon the Communists
"to work revolutionally," to emulate in the rear the heroism
of their brothers on the front, pointing out that nothing but
the most determined efforts and an increase in the
productivity of labor would enable Russia to win through her
difficulties of transport, etc. Kolchak, to quote from
English newspapers, was it "sweeping on to Moscow," and
the situation was pretty threatening. As a direct result of this
letter, on May 7th, a meeting of Communists in the sub-district
of the Moscow-Kazan railway passed a resolution
that, in view of the imminent danger to the Republic,

Communists and their sympathizers should give up an hour
a day of their leisure, and, lumping these hours together, do
every Saturday six hours of manual labor; and, further, that
these Communist "Saturdayings" should be continued "until
complete victory over Kolchak should be assured." That
decision of a local committee was the actual beginning of a
movement which spread all over Russia, and though the
complete victory over Kolchak was long ago obtained, is
likely to continue so long as Soviet Russia is threatened by
any one else.

The decision was put into effect on May 10th, when the first
Communist "Saturdaying" in Russia took place on the
Moscow-Kazan railway. The Commissar of the railway,
Communist clerks from the offices, and every one else who
wished to help, marched to work, 182 in all, and put in
1,012 hours of manual labor, in which they finished
the repairs of four locomotives and sixteen wagons and
loaded and unloaded 9,300 poods of engine and wagon parts
and material. It was found that the productivity of labor in
loading and unloading shown on this occasion was about
270 per cent. of the normal, and a similar superiority of
effort was shown in the other kinds of work. This example
was immediately copied on other railways. The Alexandrovsk
railway had its first "Saturdaying" on May 17th. Ninety-eight
persons worked for five hours, and here also did two or
three times as much is the usual amount of work done in the
same number of working hours under ordinary circumstances.
One of the workmen, in giving an account of the
performance, wrote: "The Comrades explain this by
saying that in ordinary times the work was dull and
they were sick of it, whereas this occasion they were
working willingly and with excitement. But now it will be
shameful in ordinary hours to do less than in the Communist
'Saturdaying.' " The hope implied in this last sentence has
not been realized.

In Pravda of June 7th there is an article describing one of
these early "Saturdayings," which gives a clear picture
of the infectious character of the proceedings, telling how
people who came out of curiosity to look on found

themselves joining in the work, and how a soldier with an
accordion after staring for a long time open-mouthed at
these lunatics working on a Saturday afternoon put up a tune
for them on his instrument, and, delighted by their delight,
played on while the workers all sang together.

The idea of the "Saturdayings" spread quickly from railways
to factories, and by the middle of the summer reports of
similar efforts were coming from all over Russia. Then
Lenin became interested, seeing in these "Saturdayings" not
only a special effort in the face of common danger, but an
actual beginning of Communism and a sign that Socialism
could bring about a greater productivity of labor than could
be obtained under Capitalism. He wrote: "This is a work of
great difficulty and requiring much time, but it has begun,
and that is the main thing. If in hungry Moscow in the
summer of 1919 hungry workmen who have lived through
the difficult four years of the Imperialistic war, and then the
year and a half of the still more difficult civil war, have
been able to begin this great work, what will not be its
further development when we conquer in the civil war and
win peace." He sees in it a promise of work being done not
for the sake of individual gain, but because of a recognition
that such work is necessary for the general good, and in all
he wrote and spoke about it he emphasized the fact that
people worked better and harder when working thus than
under any of the conditions (piece-work, premiums for good
work, etc.) imposed by the revolution in its desperate
attempts to raise the productivity of labor. For this reason
alone, he wrote, the first "Saturdaying" on the Moscow-Kazan
railway was an event of historical significance, and not for
Russia alone.

Whether Lenin was right or wrong in so thinking, "Saturdayings"
became a regular institution, like Dorcas meetings in Victorian
England, like the thousands of collective working parties
instituted in England during the war with Germany. It
remains to be seen how long they will continue, and if
they will survive peace when that comes. At present

the most interesting point about them is the large proportion
of non-Communists who take an enthusiastic part in them.
In many cases not more than ten per cent. of Communists
are concerned, though they take the iniative in organizing the
parties and in finding the work to be done. The movement
spread like fire in dry grass, like the craze for roller-skating
swept over England some years ago, and efforts were made
to control it, so that the fullest use might be made of it.
In Moscow it was found worth while to set up a special
Bureau for "Saturdayings." Hospitals, railways, factories, or
any other concerns working for the public good, notify
this bureau that they need the sort of work a "Saturdaying"
provides. The bureau informs the local Communists where
their services are required, and thus there is a minimum
of wasted energy. The local Communists arrange the
"Saturdayings," and any one else joins in who wants.
These "Saturdayings" are a hardship to none because
they are voluntary, except for members of the Communist
Party, who are considered to have broken the party
discipline if they refrain. But they can avoid the
"Saturdayings" if they wish to by leaving the party. Indeed,
Lenin points, out that the "Saturdayings" are likely to assist
in clearing out of the party those elements which
joined it with the hope of personal gain. He points out that
the privileges of a Communists now consist in doing more
work than other people in the rear, and, on the front, in
having the certainty of being killed when other folk are
merely taken prisoners.

The following are a few examples of the sort of work done
in the "Saturdayings." Briansk hospitals were improperly
heated because of lack of the local transport necessary to
bring them wood. The Communists organized a "Saturdaying,"
in which 900 persons took part, including military specialists
(officers of the old army serving in the new), soldiers, a
chief of staff, workmen and women. Having no horses, they
harnessed themselves to sledges in groups of ten, and brought
in the wood required. At Nijni 800 persons spent their Saturday
afternoon in unloading barges. In the Basman district of
Moscow there was a gigantic "Saturdaying" and "Sundaying"
in which 2,000 persons (in this case all but a little over 500
being Communists) worked in the heavy artillery shops, shifting

materials, cleaning tramlines for bringing in fuel, etc.
Then there was a "Saturdaying" the main object of which
was a general autumn cleaning of the hospitals for the
wounded. One form of "Saturdaying" for women is going
to the hospitals, talking with the wounded and writing letters
for them, mending their clothes, washing sheets, etc. The
majority of "Saturdayings" at present are concerned with
transport work and with getting and shifting wood, because
at the moment these are the chief difficulties. I have talked
to many "Saturdayers," Communist and non-Communist,
and all alike spoke of these Saturday afternoons of as kind of
picnic. On the other hand, I have met Communists who
were accustomed to use every kind off ingenuity to find
excuses not to take part in them and yet to preserve the good
opinion of their local committee.

But even if the whole of the Communist Party did actually
indulge in a working picnic once a week, it would not suffice
to meet Russia's tremendous needs. And, as I pointed out in
the chapter specially devoted to the shortage of labor, the
most serious need at present is to keep skilled workers
at their jobs instead of letting them drift away into non-productive
labor. No amount of Saturday picnics could do that, and it
was obvious long ago that some other means, would have to
be devised.


The general principle of industrial conscription recognized
by the Russian Constitution, section ii, chapter v, paragraph
18, which reads: "The Russian Socialist Federate Soviet
Republic recognizes that work is an obligation on every
citizen of the Republic," and proclaims, "He who does not
work shall not eat." It is, however, one thing to proclaim
such a principle and quite another to put it into action.

On December 17, 1919, the moment it became clear that
there was a real possibility that the civil war was drawing to
an end, Trotsky allowed the Pravda to print a memorandum
of his, consisting of "theses" or reasoned notes about
industrial conscription and the militia system. He points out
that a Socialist State demands a general plan for the
utilization of all the resources of a country, including its
human energy. At the same time, "in the present economic
chaos in which are mingled the broken fragments of the
past and the beginnings of the future," a sudden jump to a
complete centralized economy of the country as a whole is
impossible. Local initiative, local effort must not be
sacrificed for the sake of a plan. At the same time industrial
conscription is necessary for complete socialization. It
cannot be regardless of individuality like military
conscription. He suggests a subdivision of the State into
territorial productive districts which should coincide with the
territorial districts of the militia system which shall replace
the regular army. Registration of labor necessary.
Necessary also to coordinate military and industrial
registration. At demobilization the cadres of regiments,
divisions, etc., should form the fundamental cadres of the
militia. Instruction to this end should be included in the
courses for workers and peasants who are training to
become officers in every district. Transition to the militia
system must be carefully and gradually accomplished so as
not for a moment to leave the Republic defenseless. While
not losing sight of these ultimate aims, it is necessary to
decide on immediate needs and to ascertain exactly what
amount of labor is necessary for their limited
realization. He suggests the registration of skilled labor in the
army. He suggests that a Commission under general
direction of the Council of Public Economy should work out
a preliminary plan and then hand it over to the War
Department, so that means should be worked out for using
the military apparatus for this new industrial purpose.

Trotsky's twenty-four theses or notes must have been written
in odd moments, now here now there, on the way from one
front to another. They do not form a connected whole.
Contradictions jostle each other, and it is quite clear that
Trotsky himself had no very definite plan in his head. But

his notes annoyed and stimulated so many other people that
they did perhaps precisely the work they were intended to
do. Pravada printed them with a note from the editor
inviting discussion. The Ekonomitcheskaya Jizn printed
letter after letter from workmen, officials and others,
attacking, approving and bringing new suggestions.
Larin, Semashko, Pyatakov, Bucharin all took a hand in the
discussion. Larin saw in the proposals the beginning of the
end of the revolution, being convinced that authority
would pass from the democracy of the workers into the
hands of the specialists. Rykov fell upon them with sturdy
blows on behalf of the Trades Unions. All, however, agreed
on the one point-that something of the sort was neccesary.
On December 27th a Commission for studying the question
of industrial conscription was formed under the presidency
of Trotsky. This Commission included the People's
Commissars, or Ministers, of Labor, Ways of
Communication, Supply, Agriculture, War, and the
Presidents of the Central Council of the Trades Unions and
of the Supreme Council of Public Economy. They compiled
a list of the principal questions before them, and invited
anybody interested to bring them suggestions and material
for discussion.

But the discussion was not limited to the newspapers or to
this Commission. The question was discussed in Soviets and
Conferences of every kind all over the country. Thus, on
January 1st an All-Russian Conference of local
"departments for the registration and distribution of labor,"
after prolonged argument, contributed their views. They
pointed out (1) the need of bringing to work numbers
of persons who instead of doing the skilled labor for which
they were qualified were engaged in petty profiteering, etc.;
(2) that there evaporation of skilled labor into unproductive
speculation could at least be checked by the introduction of
labor books, which would give some sort of registration of
each citizen's work; (3) that workmen can be brought back
from the villages only for enterprises which are supplied
with provisions or are situated in districts where there is
plenty. ("The opinion that, in the absence of these
preliminary conditions, it will be possible to draw workmen
from the villages by measures of compulsion or mobilization

is profoundly mistaken.") (4) that there should be a census
of labor and that the Trades Unions should be invited to
protect the interests of the conscripted. Finally, this
Conference approved the idea of using the already existing
military organization for carrying out a labor census of the
Red Army, and for the turning over to labor of parts of the
army during demobilization, but opposed the idea of giving
the military organization the work of labor registration and
industrial conscription in general.

On January 22, 1920, the Central Committee of the
Communist Party, after prolonged discussion of Trotsky's
rough memorandum, finally adopted and published a new
edition of the "theses," expanded, altered, almost
unrecognizable, a reasoned body of theory entirely different
from the bundle of arrows loosed at a venture by Trotsky.
They definitely accepted the principle of industrial
conscription, pointing out the immediate reasons for it in the
fact that Russia cannot look for much help from without and
must somehow or other help herself.

Long before the All-Russian Congress of the Communist
Party approved the theses of the Committee, one form of
industrial conscription was already being tested at work.
Very early in January, when the discussion on the subject
was at its height, the Soviet of the Third Army addressed
itself to the Council of Defense of the Republic with an
invitation to make use of this army (which at least for the
moment had finished its military task) and to experiment
with it as a labor army. The Council of Defense agreed.
Representatives of the Commissariats of Supply,
Agriculture, Ways and Communications, Labor and the
Supreme Council of Public Economy were sent to assist the
Army Soviet. The army was proudly re-named "The First
Revolutionary Army of Labor," and began to issue communiques
from the Labor front," precisely like the communiques of an army
in the field. I translate as a curiosity the first communique issued
by a Labor Army's Soviet:

"Wood prepared in the districts of Ishim, Karatulskaya, Omutinskaya,

Zavodoutovskaya, Yalutorovska, Iushaly, Kamuishlovo, Turinsk,
Altynai, Oshtchenkovo, Shadrinsk, 10,180 cubic sazhins.
Working days, 52,651. Taken to the railway stations, 5,334 cubic
sazhins. Working days on transport, 22,840. One hundred carpenters
detailed for the Kizelovsk mines. One hundred carpenters detailed for
the bridge at Ufa. One engineer specialist detailed to the
Government Council of Public Economy for repairing the mills of
Chelyabinsk Government. One instructor accountant detailed for
auditing the accounts of the economic organizations of Kamuishlov.
Repair of locomotives procceding in the works at Ekaterinburg.
January 20, 1920, midnight."

The Labor Army's Soviet received a report on the state
of the district covered by the army with regard to supply and
needed work. By the end of January it had already carried
out a labor census of the army, and found that it included
over 50,000 laborers, of whom a considerable number were
skilled. It decided on a general plan of work in
reestablishing industry in the Urals, which suffered severely
during the Kolchak regime and the ebb and flow of the civil
war, and was considering a suggestion of one of its members
that if the scheme worked well the army should be increased
to 300,000 men by way of mobilization.

On January 23rd the Council of Defense of the Republic,
encouraged to proceed further, decided to make use of the
Reserve Army for the improvement of railway transport on
the Moscow-Kazan railway, one of the chief arteries
between eastern food districts and Moscow. The main
object is to be the reestablishment of through traffic between
Moscow and Ekaterinburg and the repair of the Kazan-Ekaterinburg
line, which particularly suffered during the war. An attempt was
to be made to rebuild the bridge over the Kama River
before the ice melts. The Commander of the Reserve Army
was appointed Commissar of the eastern part of the Moscow-Kazan
railway, retaining his position as Commander of the Army.
With a view of coordination between the Army Soviet and
the railway authorities, a member of the Soviet was also appointed
Commissar of the railway. On January 25th it was
announced that a similar experiment was being made in the
Ukraine. A month before the ice broke the first train

actually crossed the Kama River by the rebuilt bridge.

By April of this year the organization of industrial
conscription had gone far beyond the original labor armies.
A decree of February 5th had created a Chief Labor
Committee, consisting of five members, Serebryakov and Danilov,
from the Commissariat of War; Vasiliev, from the
Commissariat of the Interior; Anikst, from the Commissariat
of Labor; Dzerzhinsky, from the Commissariat of Internal
Affairs. Dzerzhinsky was President, and his appointment
was possibly made in the hope that the reputation he had
won as President of the Extraordinary Committee for
Fighting Counter-Revolution would frighten people into
taking this Committee seriously. Throughout the country in
each government or province similar committees, called
"Troikas," were created, each of three members, one from
the Commissariat of War, one from the Department of
Labor, one from the Department of Management, in each
case from the local Commissariats and Departments attached
to the local Soviet. Representatives of the Central Statistical
Office and its local organs had a right to be present at the
meeting of these committees of three, or "Troikas," but had
not the right to vote. An organization or a factory requiring
labor, was to apply to the Labor Department of the local
Soviet. This Department was supposed to do its best to
satisfy demands upon it by voluntary methods first. If these
proved insufficient they were to apply to the local "Troika,"
or Labor Conscription Committee. If this found that its
resources also were insufficient, it was to refer back the
request to the Labor Department of the Soviet, which was
then to apply to its corresponding Department in the
Government Soviet, which again, first voluntarily and then
through the Government Committee of Labor Conscription, was
to try to satisfy the demands. I fancy the object of
this arrangement was to prevent local "Troikas" from
referring to Government "Troikas," and so directly to Dzerzhinsky's
Central Committee. If they had been able to
do this there would obviously have been danger lest a new
network of independent and powerful organizations should
be formed. Experience with the overgrown and
insuppressible Committees for Fighting Counter-Revolution
had taught people how serious such a development might be.

Such was the main outline of the scheme for conscripting
labor. A similar scheme was prepared for superintending
and safeguarding labor when conscripted. In every factory
of over 1,000 workmen, clerks, etc., there was formed a
Commission (to distinguish it from the Committee) of
Industrial Conscription. Smaller factories shared such
Commissions or were joined for the purpose to larger
factories near by. These Commissions were to be under the
direct control of a Factory Committee, thereby preventing
squabbles between conscripted and non-conscripted labor.
They were to be elected for six months, but their members
could be withdrawn and replaced by the Factory
Committee with the approval of the local "Troika."
These Commissions, like the "Troikas," consisted of three
members: (1) from the management of the factory, (2) from
the Factory Committee, (3) from the Executive Committee
of the workers. (It was suggested in the directions that one
of these should be from the group which "has been
organizing 'Saturdayings,' that is to say that he or she should
be a Communist.)The payment of conscripted workers was
to be by production, with prizes for specially good work.
Specially bad work was also foreseen in the detailed scheme
of possible punishments. Offenders were to be brought
before the "People's Court" (equivalent to the ordinary Civil
Court), or, in the case of repeated or very bad offenses,
were to be brought before the far more dreaded
Revolutionary Tribunals. Six categories of possible offenses
were placed upon the new code:

(1)Avoiding registration, absenteeism, or desertion.
(2)The preparation of false documents or the use of such.
(3)Officials giving false information to facilitate these crimes.
(4)Purposeful damage of instruments or material.
(5)Uneconomical or careless work.
(6)(Probably the most serious of all) Instigation to any of
these actions.

The "Troikas" have the right to deal administratively with the
less important crimes by deprival of freedom for not more
than two weeks. No one can be brought to trial except by
the Committee for Industrial Conscription on the initiative of
the responsible director of work, and with the approval
either of the local labor inspection authorities or with that of
the local Executive Committee.

No one with the slightest knowledge of Russia will suppose
for a moment that this elaborate mechanism sprang suddenly
into existence when the decree was signed. On the contrary,
all stages of industrial conscription exist simultaneously even
today, and it would be possible by going from one part of
Russia to another to collect a series of specimens of industrial
conscription at every stage of evolution, just as one
can collect all stages of man from a baboon to a company
director or a Communist. Some of the more primitive
kinds of conscription were not among the least successful.
For example, at the time(in the spring of the year)when the
Russians still hoped that the Poles would be content with the
huge area of non-Polish territory they had already seized, the
army on the western front was without any elaborate system
of decrees being turned into a labor army. The work done
was at first ordinary country work, mainly woodcutting.
They tried to collaborate with the local "Troikas," sending
help when these Committees asked for it. This, however,
proved unsatisfactory, so, disregarding the "Troikas," they
organized things for themselves in the whole area
immediately behind the front. They divided up the forests
into definite districts, and they worked these with soldiers
and with deserters. Gradually their work developed, and
they built themselves narrow-gauge railways for the
transport of the wood. Then they needed wagons and
locomotives, and of course immediately found themselves at
loggerheads with the railway authorities. Finally, they
struck a bargain with the railwaymen, and were allowed to
take broken-down wagons which the railway people were
not in a position to mend. Using such skilled labor as
they had, they mended such wagons as were given them,
and later made a practice of going to the railway yards and
in inspecting "sick" wagons for themselves, taking out any
that they thought had a chance even of temporary
convalescence. Incidentally they caused great scandal by
finding in the Smolensk sidings among the locomotives and
wagons supposed to be sick six good locomotives and
seventy perfectly healthy wagons. Then they began to
improve the feeding of their army by sending the wood they

had cut, in the trains they had mended, to people who
wanted wood and could give them provisions. One such
train went to Turkestan and back from the army near Smolensk.
Their work continually increased, and since they
had to remember that they were an army and not merely a
sort of nomadic factory, they began themselves to mobilize,
exclusively for purposes of work, sections of the civil
population. I asked Unshlicht, who had much to do with
this organization, if the peasants came willingly. He said,
"Not very," but added that they did not mind when they
found that they got well fed and were given packets of salt
as prizes for good work. "The peasants," he said, "do
not grumble against the Government when it shows the sort
of common sense that they themselves can understand. We
found that when we said definitely how many carts and men
a village must provide, and used them without delay for a
definite purpose, they were perfectly satisfied and
considered it right and proper. In every case, however,
when they saw people being mobilized and sent thither
without obvious purpose or result, they became hostile at
once." I asked Unshlicht how it was that their army still
contained skilled workmen when one of the objects of
industrial conscription was to get the skilled workmen back
into the factories. He said: "We have an accurate census of
the army, and when we get asked for skilled workmen for
such and such a factory, they go there knowing that they still
belong to the army."

That, of course, is the army point of view, and indicates one
of the main squabbles which industrial conscription has
produced. Trotsky would like the various armies to turn into
units of a territorial militia, and at the same time to be an
important part of the labor organization of each district.
His opponents do not regard the labor armies as a permanent
manifestation, and many have gone so far as to say that the
productivity of labor in one of these armies is lower than
among ordinary workmen. Both sides produce figures on
this point, and Trotsky goes so far as to say that if his
opponents are right, then not only are labor armies damned,
but also the whole principle of industrial conscription. "If
compulsory labor-independently of social condition-is
unproductive, that is a condemnation not of the labor

armies, but of industrial conscription in general, and with it
of the whole Soviet system, the further development of
which is unthinkable except on a basis of universal industrial

But, of course, the question of the permanence of the labor
armies is not so important as the question of getting the
skilled workers back to the factories. The comparative
success or failure of soldiers or mobilized peasants in cutting
wood is quite irrelevant to this recovery of the vanished
workmen. And that recovery will take time, and will be
entirely useless unless it is possible to feed these workers
when they have been collected. There have already
been several attempts, not wholly successful, to collect the
straying workers of particular industries. Thus, after the freeing
of the oil-wells from the Whites, there was a general
mobilization of naphtha workers. Many of these had bolted
on or after the arrival of Krasnov or Denikin and gone far
into Central Russia, settling where they could. So months
passed before the Red Army definitely pushed the area of
civil war beyond the oil-wells, that many of these refugees
had taken new root and were unwilling to return. I believe,
that in spite of the mobilization, the oil-wells are still short of
men. In the coal districts also, which have passed through
similar experiences, the proportion of skilled to unskilled
labor is very much smaller than it was before the war.
There have also been two mobilizations of railway workers,
and these, I think, may be partly responsible for the
undoubted improvement noticeable during the year,
although this is partly at least due to other things beside
conscription. In the first place Trotsky carried with him into
the Commissariat of Transport the same ferocious energy
that he has shown in the Commissariat of War, together
with the prestige that he had gained there. Further, he
was well able in the councils of the Republic to defend the
needs of his particular Commissariat against those of all
others. He was, for example able to persuade the
Communist Party to treat the transport crisis precisely as
they had treated each crisis on the front-that is to say, to
mobilize great numbers of professed Communists to meet it,
giving them in this case the especial task of getting engines
mended and, somehow or other, of keeping trains on the


But neither the bridges mended and the wood cut by the
labor armies, nor the improvement in transport, are any final
proof of the success of industrial conscription. Industrial
conscription in the proper sense of the words is impossible
until a Government knows what it has to conscript. A
beginning was made early this year by the introduction of
labor books, showing what work people were doing and
where, and serving as a kind of industrial passports. But in
April this year these had not yet become general in Moscow
although the less unwieldy population of Petrograd was
already supplied with them. It will be long even if it is
possible at all, before any considerable proportion of
the people not living in these two cities are registered in this
way. A more useful step was taken at the end of August, in a
general census throughout Russia. There has been no
Russian census since 1897. There was to have been another
about the time the war began. It was postponed for obvious
reasons. If the Communists carry through the census with
even moderate success (they will of course have to meet
every kind of evasion), they will at least get some of the
information without which industrial conscription on a
national scale must be little more than a farce. The census
should show them where the skilled workers are. Industrial
conscription should enable them to collect them and put
them at their own skilled work. Then if, besides
transplanting them, they are able to feed them, it will be
possible to judge of the success or failure of a scheme which
in most countries would bring a Government toppling to the

"In most countries"; yes, but then the economic crisis has
gone further in Russia than in most countries. There is talk
of introducing industrial conscription (one year's service) in
Germany, where things have not gone nearly so far.
And perhaps industrial conscription, like Communism itself,
becomes a thing of desperate hope only in a country actually
face to face with ruin. I remember saying to Trotsky, when
talking of possible opposition, that I, as an Englishman, with
the tendencies to practical anarchism belonging to my race,

should certainly object most strongly if I were mobilized and
set to work in a particular factory, and might even want to
work in some other factory just for the sake of not doing
what I was forced to do. Trotsky replied: "You would now.
But you would not if you had been through a revolution,
and seen your country in such a state that only the united,
concentrated effort of everybody could possibly reestablish
it. That is the position here. Everybody knows the position
and that there is no other way."


We come now to the Communist plans for reconstruction.
We have seen, in the first two chapters, something of the
appalling paralysis which is the most striking factor in the
economic problem to-day. We have seen how Russia is
suffering from a lack of things and from a lack of labor, how
these two shortages react on each other, and how nothing
but a vast improvement in transport can again set in motion
what was one of the great food-producing machines of the
world. We have also seen something of the political
organization which, with far wider ambitions before it, is at
present struggling to prevent temporary paralysis from
turning into permanent atrophy. We have seen that it
consists of a political party so far dominant that the Trades
Unions and all that is articulate in the country may be
considered as part of a machinery of propaganda, for
getting those things done which that political party considers
should be done. In a country fighting, literally, for its life,
no man can call his soul his own, and we have seen how this
fact-a fact that has become obvious again and again in the
history of the world, whenever a nation has had its back to
the wall-is expressed in Russia in terms of industrial
conscription; in measures, that is to say, which would be
impossible in any country not reduced to such extremities; in
measures which may prove to be the inevitable
accompaniment of national crisis, when such crisis is

economic rather than military. Let us now see what the
Russians, with that machinery at their disposal are trying to do.

It is obvious that since this machinery is dominated by a
political party, it will be impossible to understand the
Russian plans, without understanding that particular political
party's estimate of the situation in general. It is obvious that
the Communist plans for Russia must be largely affected by
their view of Europe as a whole. This view is gloomy in the
extreme. The Communists believe that Europe is steadily
shaking itself to pieces. They believe that this
process has already gone so far that, even given good will on
the part of European Governments, the manufacturers of
Western countries are already incapable of supplying them
with all the things which Russia was importing before the
war, still less make up the enormous arrears which have
resulted from six years of blockade. They do not agree with
M. Clemenceau that "revolution is a disease attacking
defeated countries only." Or, to put it as I have heard it
stated in Moscow, they believe that President Wilson's
aspiration towards a peace in which should be neither
conqueror nor conquered has been at least partially realized
in the sense that every country ended the struggle
economically defeated, with the possible exception of
America, whose signature, after all, is still to be ratified.
They believe that even in seemingly prosperous countries the
seeds of economic disaster are already fertilized. They think
that the demands of labor will become greater and more
difficult to fulfill until at last they become incompatible with
a continuance of the capitalist system. They think that strike
after strike, irrespective of whether it is successful or
not, will gradually widen the cracks and flaws already
apparent in the damaged economic structure of Western
Europe. They believe that conflicting interests will involve
our nations in new national wars, and that each of these will
deepen the cleavage between capital and labor. They think
that even if exhaustion makes mutual warfare on a large
scale impossible, these conflicting interests will produce such
economic conflicts, such refusals of cooperation, as will turn
exhaustion to despair. They believe, to put it briefly, that
Russia has passed through the worst stages of a process to
which every country in Europe will be submitted in turn by

its desperate and embittered inhabitants. We may disagree
with them, but we shall not understand them if we refuse to
take that belief into account. If, as they imagine, the next
five years are to be years of disturbance and growing
resolution, Russia will get very little from abroad. If, for
example, there is to be a serious struggle in England, Russia
will get practically nothing. They not only believe that these
things are going to be, but make the logical deductions as to
the effect of such disturbances on their own chances of
importing what they need. For example, Lenin said to me
that "the shock of revolution in England would ensure the
final defeat of capitalism," but he said at the same time that
it would be felt at once throughout the world and cause such
reverberations as would paralyze industry everywhere. And
that is why, although Russia is an agricultural country, the
Communist plans for her reconstruction are concerned first
of all not with agriculture, but with industry. In their
schemes for the future of the world, Russia's part is that of a
gigantic farm, but in their schemes for the immediate future
of Russia, their eyes are fixed continually on the nearer
object of making her so far self-supporting that, even if
Western Europe is unable to help them, they may be able to
crawl out of their economic difficulties, as Krassin put it to
me before he left Moscow, "if necessary on all fours, but
somehow or other, crawl out."

Some idea of the larger ambitions of the Communists with
regard to the development of Russia are given in a
conversation with Rykov, which follows this chapter. The
most important characteristic of them is that they are
ambitions which cannot but find an echo in Russians of
any kind, quite regardless of their political convictions. The
old anomalies of Russian industry, for example, the
distances of the industrial districts from their sources of fuel
and raw material are to be done away with. These
anomalies were largely due to historical accidents, such as
the caprice of Peter the Great, and not to any economic
reasons. The revolution, destructive as it has been, has at
least cleaned the slate and made it possible, if it is possible to
rebuild at all, to rebuild Russia on foundations laid by
common sense. It may be said that the Communists are
merely doing flamboyantly and with a lot of flag-waving,

what any other Russian Government would be doing in their
place. And without the flamboyance and the flag-waving, it
is doubtful whether in an exhausted country, it would be
possible to get anything done at all. The result of this is that
in their work of economic reconstruction the Communists
get the support of most of the best engineers and other
technicians in the country, men who take no interest
whatsoever in the ideas of Karl Marx, but have a
professional interest in doing the best they can with their
knowledge, and a patriotic satisfaction in using
that knowledge for Russia. These men, caring not at all
about Communism, want to make Russia once more a
comfortably habitable place, no matter under what
Government. Their attitude is precisely comparable to that
of the officers of the old army who have contributed so
much to the success of the new. These officers were not
Communists, but they disliked civil war, and fought to put
an end of it. As Sergei Kamenev, the Commander-in-Chief,
and not a Communist, said to me, "I have not looked on the
civil war as on a struggle between two political ideas, for the
Whites have no definite idea. I have considered it simply as
a struggle between the Russian Government and a number
of mutineers." Precisely so do these "bourgeois" technicians
now working throughout Russia regard the task before them.
It will be small satisfaction to them if famine makes the
position of any Government impossible. For them the
struggle is quite simply a struggle between Russia and the
economic forces tending towards a complete collapse of

The Communists have thus practically the whole
intelligence of the country to help them in their task of
reconstruction, or of salvage. But the educated classes alone
cannot save a nation. Muscle is wanted besides brain, and
the great bulk of those who can provide muscle are difficult
to move to enthusiasm by any broad schemes of economic
rearrangement that do not promise immediate improvement
in their own material conditions. Industrial conscription
cannot be enforced in Russia unless there is among the
conscripted themselves an understanding, although a
resentful understanding, of its necessity. The Russians have
not got an army of Martians to enforce effort on an alien

people. The army and the people are one. "We are bound
to admit," says Trotsky, "that no wide industrial mobilization
will succeed, if we do not capture all that is honorable,
spiritual in the peasant working masses in explaining our
plan." And the plan that he referred to was not the grandiose
(but obviously sensible) plan for the eventual electrification
of all Russia, but a programme of the struggle before them
in actually getting their feet clear of the morass of industrial
decay in which they are at present involved. Such a
programme has actually been decided upon-a
programme the definite object of which is to reconcile the
workers to work not simply hand to mouth, each for himself,
but to concentrate first on those labors which will eventually
bring their reward in making other labors easier and
improving the position as a whole.

Early this year a comparatively unknown Bolshevik called Gusev,
to whom nobody had attributed any particular
intelligence, wrote, while busy on the staff of an army on the
southeast front, which was at the time being used partly as a
labor army, a pamphlet which has had an extraordinary
influence in getting such a programme drawn up. The
pamphlet is based on Gusev's personal observation both of a
labor army at work and of the attitude of the peasant
towards industrial conscription. It was extremely frank, and
contained so much that might have been used by hostile
critics, that it was not published in the ordinary way but
printed at the army press on the Caucasian front and issued
exclusively to members of the Communist Party. I got hold
of a copy of this pamphlet through a friend. It is called
"Urgent Questions of Economic Construction."Gusev sets
out in detail the sort of opposition he had met, and
says: "The Anarchists, Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks
have a clear, simple economic plan which the great masses
can understand: 'Go about your own business and work
freely for yourself in your own place.' They have a criticism
of labor mobilizations equally clear for the masses. They
say to them, 'They are putting Simeon in Peter's place, and
Peter in Simeon's. They are sending the men of Saratov to
dig the ground in the Government of Stavropol, and the
Stavropol men to the Saratov Government for the same
purpose.' Then besides that there is 'nonparty' criticism:

'When it is time to sow they will be shifting muck, and when
it is time to reap they will be told to cut timber.' That is a
particularly clear expression of the peasants' disbelief in our
ability to draw up a proper economic plan. This belief is
clearly at the bottom of such questions as, 'Comrade Gusev,
have you ever done any plowing?' or 'Comrade Orator, do
you know anything about peasant work?' Disbelief in the
townsman who understands nothing about peasants is
natural to the peasant, and we shall have to conquer it, to get
through it, to get rid of it by showing the peasant, with
a clear plan in our hands that he can understand, that we are
not altogether fools in this matter and that we understand
more than he does." He then sets out the argument which he
himself had found successful in persuading the peasants to
do things the reward for which would not be obvious the
moment they were done. He says, "I compared our State
economy to a colossal building with scores of stories and
tens of thousands of rooms. The whole building has been
half smashed; in places the roof has tumbled down, the
beams have rotted, the ceilings are tumbling, the drains and
water pipes are burst; the stoves are falling to pieces, the
partitions are shattered, and, finally, the walls and
foundations are unsafe and the whole building is threatened
with collapse. I asked, how, must one set about the repair of
this building? With what kind of economic plan? To this
question the inhabitants of different stories, and even of
different rooms on one and the same story will reply
variously. Those who live on the top floor will shout that
the rafters are rotten and the roof falling; that it is impossible
to live, there any longer, and that it is immediately
necessary, first of all, to put up new beams and to
repair the roof. And from their point of view they will be
perfectly right. Certainly it is not possible to live any longer
on that floor. Certainly the repair of the roof is necessary.
The inhabitants of one of the lower stories in which the
water pipes have burst will cry out that it is impossible to
live without water, and therefore, first of all, the water pipes
must be mended. And they, from their point of view, will
be perfectly right, since it certainly is impossible to live
without water. The inhabitants of the floor where the stoves
have fallen to pieces will insist on an immediate mending of
the stoves, since they and their children are dying of cold
because there is nothing on which they can heat up water or

boil kasha for the children; and they, too, will be quite right.
But in spite of all these just demands, which arrive in
thousands from all sides, it is impossible to forget the most
important of all, that the foundation is shattered and that the
building is threatened with a collapse which will bury all the
inhabitants of the house together, and that, therefore, the
only immediate task is the strengthening of the foundation
and the walls. Extraordinary firmness, extraordinary
courage is necessary, not only not to listen to the cries and
groans of old men, women, children and sick, coming from
every floor, but also to decide on taking from the inhabitants
of all floors the instruments and materials necessary for the
strengthening of the foundations and walls, and to force
them to leave their corners and hearths, which they are
doing the best they can to make habitable, in order to drive
them to work on the strengthening of the walls and

Gusev's main idea was that the Communists were asking
new sacrifices from a weary and exhausted people, that
without such sacrifices these people would presently find
themselves in even worse conditions, and that, to persuade
them to make the effort necessary to save themselves, it was
necessary to have a perfectly clear and easily understandable
plan which could be dinned into the whole nation and
silence the criticism of all possible opponents. Copies of his
little book came to Moscow. Lenin read it and caused
excruciating jealousy in the minds of several other
Communists, who had also been trying to find the
philosopher's stone that should turn discouragement
into hope, by singling out Gusev for his special praise and
insisting that his plans should be fully discussed at the
Supreme Council in the Kremlin. Trotsky followed Lenin's
lead, and in the end a general programme for Russian
reconstruction was drawn up, differing only slightly from
that which Gusev had proposed. I give this scheme in
Trotsky's words, because they are a little fuller than those of
others, and knowledge of this plan will explain not only
what the Communists are trying to do in Russia, but
what they would like to get from us today and what
they will want to get tomorrow. Trotsky says:-

"The fundamental task at this moment is improvement in
the condition of our transport, prevention of its further
deterioration and preparation of the most elementary
stores of food, raw material and fuel. The whole of the first
period of our reconstruction will be completely occupied in
the concentration of labor on the solution of these
problems, which is a condition of further progress.

"The second period (it will be difficult to say now whether it
will be measured in months or years, since that depends on
many factors beginning with the international
situation and ending with the unanimity or the lack of it in
our own party) will be a period occupied in the building of
machines in the interest of transport, and the getting of raw
materials and provisions.

"The third period will be occupied in building machinery,
with a view to the production of articles in general demand,
and, finally, the fourth period will be that in which we are
able to produce these articles."

Does it not occur, even to the most casual reader, that there
is very little politics in that program, and that, no matter
what kind of Government should be in Russia, it would have
to endorse that programme word for word? I would ask any
who doubt this to turn again to my first two chapters
describing the nature of the economic crisis in Russia, and to
remind themselves how, not only the lack of things but the
lack of men, is intimately connected with the lack of
transport, which keeps laborers ill fed, factories ill supplied
with material, and in this way keeps the towns incapable of
supplying the needs of the country, with the result that the
country is most unwilling to supply the needs of the town.
No Russian Government unwilling to allow Russia to
subside definitely to a lower level of civilization can do
otherwise than to concentrate upon the improvement of
transport. Labor in Russia must be used first of all for that,
in order to increase its own productivity. And, if purchase
of help from abroad is to be allowed, Russia must "control"
the outflow of her limited assets, so that, by healing
transport first of all, she may increase her power of making
new assets. She must spend in such a way as eventually
to increase her power of spending. She must prevent the
frittering away of her small purse on things which, profitable
to the vendor and doubtless desirable by the purchaser,
satisfy only individual needs and do not raise the producing
power of the community as a whole.


Alexei Rykov, the President of the Supreme Council of
Public Economy, is one of the hardest worked men in
Russia, and the only time I was able to have a long talk with
him (although more than once he snatched moments to
answer particular questions) was on a holiday, when the old
Siberian Hotel, now the offices of the Council, was
deserted, and I walked through empty corridors until I found
the President and his secretary at work as usual.

After telling of the building of the new railway from
Alexandrovsk Gai to the Emba, the prospects of developing
the oil industry in that district, the relative values of those
deposits and of those at Baku, and the possible decreasing
significance of Baku in Russian industry generally, we
passed to broader perspectives. I asked him what he
thought of the relations between agriculture and industry in
Russia, and supposed that he did not imagine that Russia
would ever become a great industrial country. His answer
was characteristic of the tremendous hopes that nerve these
people in their almost impossible task, and I set it down as
nearly as I can in his own words. For him, of course, the
economic problem was the first, and he spoke of it as the
director of a huge trust might have spoken. But, as he
passed on to talk of what he thought would result from the
Communist method of tackling that problem, and spoke of
the eventual disappearance of political parties, I felt I was
trying to read a kind of palimpsest of the Economist and

News from Nowhere, or listening to a strange compound of
William Morris and, for example, Sir Eric Geddes. He said:
"We may have to wait a long time before the inevitable
arrives and there is a Supreme Economic Council dealing
with Europe as with a single economic whole. If that should
come about we should, of course, from the very nature of
our country, be called upon in the first place to provide
food for Europe, and we should hope enormously to
improve our agriculture, working on a larger and larger
scale, using mechanical plows and tractors, which would be
supplied us by the West. But in the meantime we have to
face the fact that events may cause us to be, for all practical
purposes, in a state of blockade for perhaps a score of years,
and, so far as we can, we must be ready to depend on
ourselves alone. For example, we want mechanical plows
which could be procured abroad. We have had to start
making them ourselves. The first electric plow made in
Russia and used in Russia started work last year, and this
year we shall have a number of such plows made in our
country, not because it is economic so to make them, but
because we could get them in no other way. In so far as is
possible, we shall have to make ourselves self-supporting, so
as somehow or other to get along even if the blockade,
formal or perhaps willy-nilly (imposed by the inability of the
West to supply us), compels us to postpone cooperation with
the rest of Europe. Every day of such postponement is one
in which the resources of Europe are not being used in the
most efficient manner to supply the needs not only of
our own country but of all."

I referred to what he had told me last year about the
intended electrification of Moscow by a station using turf

"That," he said, "is one of the plans which, in spite of the
war, has gone a very long way towards completion. We
have built the station in the Ryezan Government, on the
Shadul peat mosses, about 110 versts from Moscow.
Before the end of May that station should be actually at
work. (It was completed, opened and partially destroyed by
a gigantic fire.) Another station at Kashira in the Tula

Government (on the Oka), using the small coal produced
in the Moscow coalfields, will be at work before the autumn.
This year similar stations are being built at
Ivano-Voznesensk and at Nijni-Novgorod. Also, with a
view to making the most economic use of what we already
possess, we have finished both in Petrograd and in Moscow
a general unification of all the private power-stations, which
now supply their current to a single main cable. Similar
unification is nearly finished at Tula and at Kostroma. The
big water-power station on the rapids of the Volkhov is
finished in so far as land construction goes, but we can
proceed no further until we have obtained the turbines,
which we hope to get from abroad. As you know, we are
basing our plans in general on the assumption that in course
of time we shall supply the whole of Russian industry with
electricity, of which we also hope to make great use in
agriculture. That, of course, will take a great number of

[Nothing could have been much more artificial than the
industrial geography of old Russia. The caprice of history
had planted great industrial centers literally at the greatest
possible distance from the sources of their raw materials.
There was Moscow bringing its coal from Donetz, and Petrograd,
still further away, having to eke out a living by
importing coal from England. The difficulty of transport
alone must have forced the Russians to consider how they
could do away with such anomalies. Their main idea is that
the transport of coal in a modern State is an almost
inexcusable barbarism. They have set themselves, these
ragged engineers, working in rooms which they can hardly
keep above freezing-point and walking home through the
snow in boots without soles, no less a task than the
electrification of the whole of Russia. There is a State
Committee presided over by an extraordinary optimist called
Krzhizhanovsky, entrusted by the Supreme Council of
Public Economy and Commissariat of Agriculture with the
working out of a general plan. This Committee includes,
besides a number of well-known practical engineers,
Professors Latsinsky, Klassen, Dreier, Alexandrov, Tcharnovsky,
Dend and Pavlov. They are investigating the
water power available in different districts in Russia, the

possibilities of using turf, and a dozen similar questions
including, perhaps not the least important, investigation to
discover where they can do most with least dependence on
help from abroad.]

Considering the question of the import of machinery from
abroad, I asked him whether in existing conditions of
transport Russia was actually in a position to export the raw
materials with which alone the Russians could hope to buy
what they want. He said:

"Actually we have in hand about two million poods (a pood
is a little over thirty-six English pounds) of flax, and any
quantity of light leather (goat, etc.), but the main
districts where we have raw material for ourselves or for
export are far away. Hides, for example, we have in great
quantities in Siberia, in the districts of Orenburg and the
Ural River and in Tashkent. I have myself made the
suggestion that we should offer to sell this stuff where it is,
that is to say not delivered at a seaport, and that the buyers
should provide their own trains, which we should eventually
buy from them with the raw material itself, so that after a
certain number of journeys the trains should become ours.
In the same districts we have any quantity of wool, and in
some of these districts corn. We cannot, in the present
condition of our transport, even get this corn for ourselves.
In the same way we have great quantities of rice in Turkestan,
and actually are being offered rice from Sweden,
because we cannot transport our own. Then we have over a
million poods of copper, ready for export on the same
conditions. But it is clear that if the Western countries are
unable to help in the transport, they cannot expect to get raw
materials from us."

I asked about platinum. He laughed.

"That is a different matter. In platinum we have a
world monopoly, and can consequently afford to wait.
Diamonds and gold, they can have as much as they want of

such rubbish; but platinum is different, and we are in no
hurry to part with it. But diamonds and gold ornaments, the
jewelry of the Tsars, we are ready to give to any king in
Europe who fancies them, if he can give us some less
ornamental but more useful locomotives instead."

I asked if Kolchak had damaged the platinum mines. He
replied, "Not at all. On the contrary, he was promising
platinum to everybody who wanted it, and he set the mines
going, so we arrived to find them in good condition, with a
considerable yield of platinum ready for use."

(I am inclined to think that in spite of Rykov's rather
intransigent attitude on the question, the Russians would
none the less be willing to export platinum, if only on
account of the fact in comparison with its great value it
requires little transport, and so would make possible for
them an immediate bargain with some of the machinery they
most urgently need.)

Finally we talked of the growing importance of the Council
of Public Economy. Rykov was of opinion that it
would eventually become the centre of the whole State
organism, "it and Trades Unions organizing the actual
producers in each branch."

"Then you think that as your further plans develop, with the
creation of more and more industrial centres, with special
productive populations concentrated round them, the

Councils of the Trades Unions will tend to become identical
with the Soviets elected in the same districts by the same
industrial units?"

"Precisely," said Rykov, "and in that way the Soviets, useful
during the period of transition as an instrument of struggle
and dictatorship, will be merged with the Unions." (One

important factor, as Lenin pointed out when considering the
same question, is here left out of count, namely the political
development of the enormous agricultural as opposed to
industrial population.)

"But if this merging of political Soviets with productive
Unions occurs, the questions that concern people will cease
to be political questions, but will be purely questions of

"Certainly. And we shall see the disappearance of political
parties. That process is already apparent. In the present
huge Trade Union Conference there are only sixty Mensheviks.
The Communists are swallowing one party after another.
Those who were not drawn over to us during the period
of struggle are now joining us during the process
of construction, and we find that our differences now are
not political at all, but concerned only with the practical
details of construction." He illustrated this by pointing out
the present constitution of the Supreme Council of Public
Economy. There are under it fifty-three Departments or
Centres (Textile, Soap, Wool, Timber, Flax, etc.), each
controlled by a "College" of three or more persons. There
are 232 members of these Colleges or Boards in all, and of
them 83 are workmen, 79 are engineers, 1 was an ex-director,
50 were from the clerical staff, and 19 unclassified.
Politically 115 were Communists, 105 were "non-party,"
and 12 were of non-Communist parties. He continued,
"Further, in swallowing the other parties, the Communists
themselves will cease to exist as a political party. Think only
that youths coming to their manhood during this year in
Russia and in the future will not be able to confirm from
their own experience the reasoning of Karl Marx,
because they will have had no experience of a capitalist
country. What can they make of the class struggle? The
class struggle here is already over, and the distinctions of
class have already gone altogether. In the old days,
members of our party were men who had read, or tried to
read, Marx's "Capital," who knew the "Communist
Manifesto" by heart, and were occupied in continual
criticism of the basis of capitalist society. Look at the new

members of our party. Marx is quite unnecessary to them.
They join us, not for struggle in the interests of an oppressed
class, but simply because they understand our aims in
constructive work. And, as this process continues, we old
social democrats shall disappear, and our places will be filled
by people of entirely different character grown up under
entirely new conditions."


Rykov's prophecies of the disappearance of Political parties
may be falsified by a development of that very non-partyism
on which he bases them. It is true that the parties openly
hostile to the Communists in Russia have practically
disappeared. Many old-time Mensheviks have joined the
Communist Party. Here and there in the country may be
found a Social Revolutionary stronghold. Here and there in
the Ukraine the Mensheviks retain a footing, but I doubt
whether either of these parties has in it the vitality to make
itself once again a serious political factor. There is,
however, a movement which, in the long run, may alter
Russia's political complexion. More and more delegates to
Soviets or Congresses of all kinds are explicitly described
as "Non-party." Non-partyism is perhaps a sign of revolt
against rigid discipline of any kind. Now and then, of
course, a clever Menshevik or Social Revolutionary, by
trimming his sails carefully to the wind, gets himself elected
on a non-party ticket. 'When this happens there is usually a
great hullabaloo as soon as he declares himself. A section of
his electors agitates for his recall and presently some one else
is elected in his stead. But non-partyism is much more than
a mere cloak of invisibility for enemies or conditional
supporters of the Communists. I know of considerable
country districts which, in the face of every kind of agitation,
insist on returning exclusively non-party delegates. The
local Soviets in these districts are also non-party, and they
elect usually a local Bolshevik to some responsible post to
act as it were as a buffer between themselves and the central

authority. They manage local affairs in their own way, and,
through the use of tact on both sides, avoid falling foul of
the more rigid doctrinaires in Moscow.

Eager reactionaries outside Russia will no doubt point to
non-partyism as a symptom of friendship for themselves. It
is nothing of the sort. On all questions of the defense of the
Republic the non-party voting is invariably solid with that of the
Communists. The non-party men do not want Denikin.
They do not want Baron Wrangel. They have never heard
of Professor Struhve. They do not particularly like the Communists.
They principally want to be left alone, and they principally fear any
enforced continuation of war of any kind. If, in the course
of time, they come to have a definite political programme, I think
it not impossible that they may turn into a new kind of constitutional
democrat. That does not mean that they will have any use for
M. Milukov or for a monarch with whom M. Milukov might be
ready to supply them. The Constitution for which they will work
will be that very Soviet Constitution which is now in
abeyance, and the democracy which they associate with it
will be that form of democracy which were it to be
accurately observed in the present state of Russia, that
Constitution would provide. The capitalist in Russia has
long ago earned the position in which, according to the
Constitution, he has a right to vote, since he has long ago
ceased to be a capitalist. Supposing the Soviet Constitution
were today to be literally applied, it would be found that
practically no class except the priests would be excluded
from the franchise. And when this agitation swells in
volume, it will be an agitation extremely difficult to resist,
supposing Russia to be at peace, so that there will be no
valid excuse with which to meet it. These new constitutional
democrats will be in the position of saying to the
Communists, "Give us, without change, that very
Constitution which you yourselves drew up." I think they
will find many friends inside the Communist Party,
particularly among those Communists who are also Trade
Unionists. I heard something very like the arguments of this
new variety of constitutional democrat in the Kremlin itself
at an All-Russian Conference of the Communist Party. A
workman, Sapronov, turned suddenly aside in a speech on
quite another matter, and said with great violence that the

present system was in danger of running to seed and turning
into oligarchy, if not autocracy. Until the moment when he
put his listeners against him by a personal attack on Lenin,
there was no doubt that he had with him the sympathies of
quite a considerable section of an exclusively Communist

Given peace, given an approximate return to normal
conditions, non-partyism may well profoundly modify the
activities of the Communists. It would certainly be strong
enough to prevent the rasher spirits among them from
jeopardizing peace or from risking Russia's chance of
convalescence for the sake of promoting in any way the
growth of revolution abroad. Of course, so long as it is
perfectly obvious that Soviet Russia is attacked, no serious
growth of non-partyism is to be expected, but it is obvious
that any act of aggression on the part of the Soviet
Government, once Russia had attained peace-which she has
not known since 1914-would provide just the basis of angry
discontent which might divide even the disciplined ranks of
the Communists and give non-partyism an active, instead of a
comparatively passive, backing throughout the country.

Non-partyism is already the peasants' way of expressing their
aloofness from the revolution and, at the same time, their
readiness to defend that revolution against anybody who
attacks it from outside. Lenin, talking to me about the
general attitude of the peasants, said: "Hegel wrote 'What is
the People? The people is that part of the nation which does
not know what it wants.' That is a good description of
the Russian peasantry at the present time, and it applies
equally well to your Arthur Hendersons and Sidney Webbs
in England, and to all other people like yourself who want
incompatible things. The peasantry are individualists, but
they support us. We have, in some degree, to thank Kolchak
and Denikin for that. They are in favor of the Soviet
Government, but hanker after Free Trade, not understanding
that the two things are self-contradictory. Of course, if they
were a united political force they could swamp us, but they
are disunited both in their interests and geographically. The
interests of the poorer and middle class peasants are in

contradiction to those of the rich peasant farmer who
employs laborers. The poorer and middle class see that we
support them against the rich peasant, and also see that he is
ready to support what is obviously not in their interests." I
said, "If State agriculture in Russia comes to be on a larger
scale, will there not be a sort of proletarianization of the
peasants so that, in the long run, their interests will come to
be more or less identical with those of the workers in other
than agricultural industry!" He replied, "Something in
that direction is being done, but it will have to be done very
carefully and must take a very long time. When we are
getting many thousands of tractors from abroad, then
something of the sort would become possible." Finally I
asked him point blank, "Did he think they would pull
through far enough economically to be able to satisfy the
needs of the peasantry before that same peasantry had
organized a real political opposition that should overwhelm
them!" Lenin laughed. "If I could answer that question," he
said, "I could answer everything, for on the answer to that
question everything depends. I think we can. Yes, I think
we can. But I do not know that we can."

Non-partyism may well be the protoplasmic stage of the
future political opposition of the peasants.


I have done my best to indicate the essential facts in Russia's
problem today, and to describe the organization and
methods with which she is attempting its solution. I can give
no opinion as to whether by these means the Russians will
succeed in finding their way out of the quagmire of
industrial ruin in which they are involved. I can only say
that they are unlikely to find their way out by any other
means. I think this is instinctively felt in Russia. Not
otherwise would it have been possible for the existing

organization, battling with one hand to save the towns front
starvation, to destroy with the other the various forces
clothed and armed by Western Europe, which have
attempted its undoing. The mere fact of continued war has,
of course, made progress in the solution of the economic
problem almost impossible, but the fact that the economic
problem was unsolved, must have made war
impossible, if it were not that the instinct of the people was
definitely against Russian or foreign invaders. Consider for
one moment the military position.

Although the enthusiasm for the Polish war began to subside
(even among the Communists) as soon as the Poles had
been driven back from Kiev to their own frontiers, although
the Poles are occupying an enormous area of non-Polish
territory, although the Communists have had to conclude
with Poland a peace obviously unstable, the military position
of Soviet Russia is infinitely better this time than it was in
1918 or 1919. In 1918 the Ukraine was held by German
troops and the district east of the Ukraine was in the hands
of General Krasnov, the author of a flattering letter to the
Kaiser. In the northwest the Germans were at Pskov, Vitebsk
and Mohilev. We ourselves were at Murmansk and
Archangel. In the east, the front which became known as
that of Kolchak, was on the Volga. Soviet Russia was a
little hungry island with every prospect of submersion. A
year later the Germans had vanished, the flatterers of the
Kaiser had joined hands with those who were
temporarily flattering the Allies, Yudenitch's troops were
within sight of Petrograd, Denikin was at Orel, almost within
striking distance of Moscow; there had been a stampede of
desertion from the Red Army. There was danger that
Finland might strike at any moment. Although in the east
Kolchak had been swept over the Urals to his ultimate
disaster, the situation of Soviet Russia seemed even more
desperate than in the year before. What is the position
today! Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland are at peace
with Russia. The Polish peace brings comparative quiet to
the western front, although the Poles, keeping the letter
rather than the spirit of their agreement, have given
Balahovitch the opportunity of establishing himself in Minsk,
where, it is said, that the pogroms of unlucky Jews show that

he has learnt nothing since his ejection from Pskov.

Balahovitch's force is not important in itself, but its existence
will make it easy to start the war afresh along the whole new
frontier of Poland, and that frontier shuts into Poland so
large an anti-Polish population, that a moment may still
come when desperate Polish statesmen may again choose
war as the least of many threatening evils. Still, for the
moment, Russia's western frontier is comparatively quiet.
Her northern frontier is again the Arctic Sea. Her eastern
frontier is in the neighborhood of the Pacific. The Ukraine
is disorderly, but occupied by no enemy; the only front on
which serious fighting is proceeding is the small semi-circle
north of the Crimea. There Denikin's successor, supported
by the French but exultantly described by a German
conservative newspaper as a "German baron in Cherkass
uniform," is holding the Crimea and a territory slightly larger
than the peninsula on the main land. Only to the immense
efficiency of anti-Bolshevik propaganda can be ascribed the
opinion, common in England but comic to any one who
takes the trouble to look at a map, that Soviet Russia is on
the eve of military collapse.

In any case it is easy in a revolution to magnify the influence
of military events on internal affairs. In the first place, no
one who has not actually crossed the Russian front during
the period of active operations can well realize how different
are the revolutionary wars from that which ended in
1918. Advance on a broad front no longer means that a belt
of men in touch with each other has moved definitely

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