BERTRAND RUSSELL'S SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
[Moscow Pravda (Official Bolshevist Organ), October 24, 1920]
BY CARL RADEK Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Third International
[Bertrand Russell's brilliant account of his visit to Russia, part of which we published in our issue of August 14, elicited the following reply from the Bolsheviki, which we print as an example of their popular polemics.]
MANY of our British guests have published articles and books of impressions on their journey to the savage land of Muscovy. As might have been expected, true Radicals express deep sympathy for our labours and struggles, while disguised Conservatives try to help the forces which would crush us. We anticipated nothing else. . When Tom Shaw, the well-known British opportunist, asked our soviet representatives with childlike naiveté how they could imagine that such a high-born gentleman as the Right Honourable Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the grandson of the Seventh Duke of Marlborough, the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, could lie, it showed that Mr. Shaw himself, although of low birth and a servant of the British bourgeoisie, would lie to injure soviet Russia at the bidding of that bourgeoisie. Consequently we were not surprised when Tom Shaw delivered a thunderous speech against the soviet government at the congress of the Yellow International, accusing it of oppressing the workmen. The secretary of the delegation, Dr. Guest, by publishing in that yellowest of international papers, the London Times, a series of attacks on soviet Russia, merely proves what we were warned against when we permitted him to enter Russia, that he came to get information for the British government. In order to enable honest labour representatives to come to Russia, we had to admit also ordinary spies, who now shamelessly unmask themselves. Their 'revelations' of soviet Russia do no real harm, because every honest British workman knows, from his daily reading, that the Times and the whole Northcliffe press are fighting the British proletariat. He knows, too, that Dr. Guest's 'revelations' are worth to the bourgeoisie the price he is paid for his lies. By comparing Dr. Guest's articles with those of Paul Duke, an • acknowledged spy of the British government, published in the same 'honest' newspaper, any British workman can see how monotonously alike they are. If Mrs. Ethel Snowden, the erstwhile beautiful pacifist and representative of British workmen, thought she could fascinate us by her pretty manners, it does not follow that we supposed for one minute that this bourgeois goose was competent to understand the revolution of the Russian proletariat. Being 'gallant,' we pretended to believe her enthusiasm was sincere when she told us, while watching a military review, that she quite approved of such militarism, since it was to defend the labour commonwealth. But we knew that stern proletarian revolution was not suited for Mrs. Snowden's delicate nerves, and that on her return to England, she would burst into tears upon the manly breast of Mr. Philip Snowden, who would say to her: 'Why did you go to that barbarous country? Didn't I tell you that it's not the place for British ladies to take a vacation? Better go to Belgium or to Northern France, where you can rest and visit war ruins.' It is not worthwhile to discuss in detail articles written by Shaw, Guest, or Mrs. Snowden. But it is interesting to pause a moment over the two articles by Bertrand Russell in the Nation, the leading organ of the British liberals. Bertrand Russell is a remarkable philosopher and mathematician, as well as an absolutely honest man. He suffered persecution in a British prison for his pacifism. We believe he has no selfish purpose in writing what he does. His articles have value as demonstrating the narrowness of even the best of the bourgeoisie, their utter inability to comprehend the problems which history has placed before mankind. Mr. Russell describes soviet Russia, stating clearly that the soviet government placed no obstacles in the way of his companions or himself and gave them full opportunity for an objective study of the Russian situation. What did he see in Russia? Of the Communists, he speaks very favourably. He says that they do not spare themselves, just as they do not spare others; that they work sixteen hours a day, forgetting about holidays; that, in spite of the power they hold, they live very modestly, seek no personal aims, but devote themselves unsparingly to building a new society. And he comes to the conclusion that the Russian Communists are very much like the English Puritans of Cromwell's time. But 'life in Russia to-day, just as it was in the Puritan England, runs counter to human instinct. If the Bolsheviki fall, it will be for precisely the same reason that English Puritanism fell: time will come when people will realize that the joy of life is of greater value than anything that Puritanism has to offer.' There is no doubt that Mr. Russell is an 'altruist'; his whole life is a proof of this. Yet Mr. Russell has not given up his comfortable home, his quiet study, his week-ends in the country, his visits to the theatres, and all the other things which even the perishing capitalistic world still has to offer a man of wealth like himself. Therefore it is no wonder that he considers a revolution in which the telephone, a piece of white bread, a can of condensed milk, or - oh, horror! - an automobile, is a luxury, is not good; for Bertrand Russell can endure such a revolution no longer than two weeks, and even then when provided by us with guest quarters and other special comforts. Therefore Mr. Russell does not ask himself what comforts would have been provided for the Russian workmen, if Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich, and Wrangel had won a victory with British aid. Mr. Russell considers the Communists the young, virile aristocracy of new Russia. And he says that in many respects soviet Russia reminds him of Plato's Republic. Since up to now, the word 'Plato' has not been considered derogatory', we ought to be grateful to Russell even for that. But what is hidden behind Russell's views on the situation in Russia is concretely expressed in the following words: 'When a Russian Communist speaks of dictatorship, he uses that word in a literal sense, but when he speaks of proletariat, he uses that word in a Pickwickian sense. He has in mind the class-conscious part of the proletariat, that is, the Communist Party. He includes men who have nothing in common with the proletariat so far as their origin is concerned - like Lenin and Chicherin - but who have the proper views. He excludes real workmen who do not have these views, and whom he calls lackeys of the bourgeoisie.' What a dreadful thing, indeed, is this, which Bertrand Russell has discovered in soviet Russia! But to help him understand what he saw, let us remind him of social relations in England herself. He comes from the high aristocracy and belongs to the bourgeoisie. But when, during the war, he, as a pacifist, did not act as the bourgeoisie demanded, the latter ceased to consider him a member of the same class as itself, but threw him into prison as an enemy of that class. At the same time, it made Mr. Henderson, who is a common workman, a cabinet minister, because he defended its interests. Or let us recall a still more striking instance. One of the leaders of the Chartist movement in England was Ernest Jones, a scion of an aristocratic family. He was a godson of the Hanoverian King, and was brought up at the royal court. But when in 1846, he took part in the revolutionary agitation of the British workmen, he was thrown into prison, where he was kept for two years, under conditions which caused the death of many who were incarcerated with him. So it appears that the unheard-of thing which Mr. Russell saw in Russia, that everyone who fights for the proletariat is a soldier of the proletariat, is something common to all struggling classes. They consider as their own those who actually fight for their interests, and not those who happen to spring from their loins. Mr. Russell declares that he opposes communism for the same reasons for which he is a pacifist. Civil war, like any other kind of war, brings with it enormous sufferings and misfortunes, while its good is more than problematic. And in the struggle, civilization itself is doomed to perish. We have already seen how highly Mr. Russell values the civilization that has given rise to a four-year war! To conquer, we must have a concentration of power, and every concentration of power begets evils. Mr. Russell has before him two types of the concentration of power. The first is the capitalistic government of Great Britain and its Allies, which precipitated the world into mutual slaughter, and which still ruins its happiness and welfare. Mr. Russell does not like Lloyd George; still less does he like Churchill. The second is the government of soviet Russia, which bends every effort toward rescuing the common people from the misfortunes brought upon them by capitalism. It is a government making an heroic attempt to reconstruct society from the foundation. But it cannot fight the whole capitalistic world successfully by mere guerrilla warfare. It is forced to organize a Red army, a huge food-supply apparatus, centralized economic control. But Mr. Russell says that this is not good, since it creates privilege: no matter how modest the commissars may be, still they have automobiles, the use of telephones, theatre tickets. Now, what is Mr. Russell to do, wedged in between these two horrid governments, trying the best they can to monopolize power? Having returned from his sentimental journey, arid taken a good bath, he, no doubt, seated himself in front of a fireplace - how wonderful are the old English fireplaces! Although he is not a commissar, there is no doubt that he does not have to suffer for lack of wood, even though the poor in the East End freeze to death. So, Mr. Russell put on his house slippers and dressing robe, and began to read in the newspapers of Europe's agony, which went on uninterrupted during his absence. Even Miss Gibbs writes openly about the matter in Lloyd George's own Daily Chronicle. As he read, there rose in Mr. Russell's heart a feeling of displeasure; for how can a good, clever, wealthy man experience pleasure, when he sees others suffering? And Mr. Russell declared in the Nation: 'Though I cannot preach the World revolution, neither can I rid myself of the conviction that the governments of the leading countries are doing everything in their power to bring it about.'
How bad are the capitalistic governments, and how good is Bertrand Russell! It is not improbable that he may again find himself in prison; and we only hope that, because of his excellent family connections, his punishment may not be excessively severe. We wish him nothing but good; but what value is there to his senseless sacrifices? During his stay in Moscow, Bertrand Russell declared that he would rather go to prison than give up his sense of humour. We sometimes fancy that all his philosophy, all his pacifism and Socialism, are merely a way in which this scion of British aristocracy jokes at its crude oppression and maraudery. If they had only arranged things better, 'more delicately,' so that Mr. Russell could enjoy the privileges of his position without experiencing the pangs of conscience: they are so unpleasant, those pangs of conscience! What a sorry sight does the capitalistic world present, if in the face of the most gigantic catastrophe of all history, it can devise no better philosophy than that of Mr. Russell! His philosophy reminds us of Aesop's fable of the ass, which had placed before it oats and hay, and died of starvation while debating which it should eat first. We apologize to Bertrand Russell for comparing him to so stupid a beast as an ass, but we also apologize to that honest gray toiler, for comparing him to so parasitical a being as our petty bourgeois 'philosopher.'
IS THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION A BOURGEOIS REVOLUTION?
A KEEN ANALYSIS OF SITUATION IN SOVIET RUSSIA
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(RH note –In one case – indicated by an inserted note – we have found the original incomprehensible as it was printed and have provided an interpretation.)
Germany's Strategic Plan
What is Germany actually proposing when she offers her neighbours a 25-year non-aggression pact? As Maxim Litvinov pointed out in his speech to the League of Nations Council, Germany had renounced war forever as an instrument of national policy when in 1928, of her own free will, she signed the Kellogg Pact. But it now turns out that even in regard to the West she restricts the period of her peaceful obligations. What guarantee will Germany give to support her avowed intention to preserve peace with her Western neighbours even for twenty-five years? She agrees that Great Britain and Italy should guarantee peace in the West and should side with any power who would violate this peace. But simultaneously she does everything to drive a wedge between France and Great Britain, between France and Italy.
Up to their accession to power, German fascists were frankly gambling for an alliance with both England and Italy. Today they no longer do so openly. But Hitler's whole policy, all his manoeuvres regarding England and Italy are directed toward this end. Hitler cannot be entirely certain that he will reach his goal. Therefore, he creates anti-British bases as well: arming a strategic island, constructing airdromes for naval aviation in the Rhine provinces. If he fails to reach an accord with Italy, he is already prepared to seize Austria and attempt to fortify Jugoslavia. Through these measures German fascism tries to intensify its pressure on England and Italy so that at the critical moment these nations will be incapable of fulfilling their roles as guarantors of peace in the West.
The tactics of German militarism have had a certain success. Contrary to obligations under the Versailles Treaty, Great Britain did not come out with effective measures against Germany when the latter tore up Section Five of the agreement and openly announced the creation of an army. By the Anglo-German naval agreement, Great Britain legalized the violation of the most important section of the Versailles Treaty. Under the Locarno Pact, occupation of the Rhineland is a hostile act; guarantor powers are obliged to undertake measures against the introduction of troops into the demilitarized zone no matter which nation should violate this agreement. From the first moment of Germany's recent violation of this section, which seriously changed the distribution of forces in Eastern Europe, Great Britain resisted any measures - even economic measures - against Germany. Foreign Minister Flandin of France noted this fact publicly. Great Britain undoubtedly took into account the military strength already created in Germany as well as the fact that the British fleet was tied up in the Mediterranean.
What assurance is there that in the future this fleet will not be tied up in the Far East? What assurance is there tha.t Italy, greatly weakened financially by her war against Ethiopia, will in the future be able to fulfil obligations as a Locarno guarantor even if Italy wished to do so? For the Italo-Ethiopian war is far from over. Even if it should end in Ethiopia's capitulation, the assimilation of the conquered territory will require hundreds of millions in Italian money. Even granting that Germany wishes to preserve peace in the West for a limited period in order to facilitate an advance in the East, the guarantee of such a peace by any two powers is illusory. No two separate powers can anywhere present a real guarantee of peace. Each is subject to many dangers and only a guarantee of all powers, that is, the collective organization of peace, is a true guarantee. Germany opposes a collective guarantee in the West: nevertheless she makes peace offers to France and Belgium. Actually these offers are guaranteed only by the well-known Nazi "good faith," and the Nazi loyalty to international agreements.
What does Germany offer in the East? She proposes bilateral non-aggression pacts with eastern neighbours (Latvia, Czechoslovakia and Austria), modelled after the agreements now existing between Poland and Germany. Why does Hitler offer special bilateral pacts? Because, to take one example, if Germany attacks Austria and thereby breaks one pact, Czechoslovakia, also bound to Germany by an agreement, will be deprived of the right to aid Austria. Pacts favoured by Hitler do not provide that the agreements lose their force in the event of Germany's attack on a third party. Many of these bilateral pacts are scraps of paper so far as their effectiveness goes. It is actually possible for Germany to circumvent the eastern pacts without violating a single one of them. The world is well aware of the existence of Nazi organizations in Austria which at one time attempted to seize power in order subsequently to annex Austria to Germany. What failed one time may succeed another. Czechoslovakia would then be surrounded on three sides by Germany. On the fourth, the Nazis will begin operations in Hungary, already very close to Germany; or as Stalin has pointed out, Germany might secure from a power wishing to conclude a pact of nonaggression, an agreement allowing the passage of German troops. In other words, she might receive a border "on credit." In the East, Germany aspires to a series of independent pacts precisely in order to settle with each adversary separately, neutralizing the others with threats or bribes. Because of this, Germany is hostile to the Franco-Soviet proposal of the eastern pact of mutual assistance. Such a pact places Germany's relation to an adversary under the control of other nations and obligates these nations to assist the country attacked.
Moreover, the eastern pact of mutual assistance anticipates that in the event of an attack upon Germany by one of the signatories, all participants in the pact must come to Germany's assistance. The conditions of this eastern pact evoked only mockery from Germany. Wailing that every other nation threatened her, Germany refused to avail herself of the assistance accorded by the pact. She knew that no nation was preparing to attack her and that she will have no occasion to utilize assistance of other countries. The pact would only cramp her "peaceful" negotiations! These are the reasons why Germany consents on paper to guarantors in the West, hoping to make them allies. In the East, however, she discards any thought of guarantors so as to avoid the intervention of so serious and steady a power for peace as the Soviet Union or France, both deeply concerned in preserving the status quo in the East and Southeast of Europe. Most characteristic is the lack of any reference to the Soviet Union in the German proposals of March 7 and April 2. Over a period of years Germany has been shouting that she is menaced by the U.S.S.R. But when it comes to concluding agreements which would stabilize peaceful relations between powers, Germany refuses to deal with the U.S.S.R. The Soviet Union is not included even in Germany's paper proposals of peace, proving that Germany not only does not take stock in her own wails of danger from the Soviet Union, but also does not want to tie her hands with reference to a drive against the Soviet Union across a neighbouring state.
Germany's proposals to her eastern and south-eastern neighbours represent an even more insignificant scrap of paper than her proposals to France and Belgium. The question has another exceedingly important side: the relation of the western pact to the eastern pacts. The old Locarno agreement which established a demilitarized zone as an actual guarantee of peace in the West was concluded at the same time as the Franco-Polish and Franco-Czechoslovakian agreements. In the event of Germany's attack on Czechoslovakia or on Poland, France could come to either nation's assistance. The occupation of the Rhineland in that circumstance would not have been considered an act of French aggression. If Germany retaliated, she would thereby become the disturber of peace and have no right to claim assistance from Great Britain and Italy or the remaining signatories to the Locarno Pact. Germany's argument stating that the Franco-Soviet pact is incompatible with the Locarno treaty demonstrates that Germany desires to break free of such a burden.
Germany has been defending the thesis that the pact between France and the Soviet Union which obliges these countries to render aid to one another in the event of German attack, is contradictory to the Locarno agreement. Germany argues that according to this argument, France and Germany must maintain (illegible word), and it is none of France's business what transpires in eastern Europe. Such an argument is applicable to other agreements reached by France with the countries of eastern and southeastern Europe. We see in the reply of April 2 that Germany broadens this thesis to condemn the existence of French agreements with other countries:
It is not to be doubted that the tendency to cover Europe with military alliances is in general contrary to the spirit and meaning of the creation of an actual fellowship of peoples. The threat increases that from this general interconnection of military alliances there will spring a state of affairs similar to that which caused the World War.
Everybody knows that a fundamental difference exists between the military agreements preceding the Great War and the contemporary mutual-assistance pacts such as those signed by the Soviet Union. Agreements of mutual assistance do not provide for the redivision of other countries' territories but are designed to preserve the status quo. They are purely defensive in character and in accord with the covenant of the League of Nations, forming a part of the collective system of security, a prop until more effective guarantees of international security can be created. In the speech of May 21, 1935, Hitler more openly expressed his enmity not only toward what he calls military alliances but the collective security in general.
He declared that the problem is not collective security but to localize war, that is, the non-intervention by other powers in any war Germany might start. Hitler seeks a condition in which other countries will be unable to rush to the aid of peoples in eastern Europe attacked by Germany. Hitler is particularly anxious to bring about such a condition by force.
We do not know in what way Hitler will strive to separate France from eastern Europe. Up to the present time he has avoided any precise draft of a western pact. We do not know, therefore, whether he plans to incorporate into such a pact a proposal that France would be violating the pact if she fulfilled obligations towards eastern and south-eastern European countries. Perhaps Hitler seeks a similar objective by assuring Great Britain's obligation to assist Germany. In the event of France fulfilling her obligations as an ally of south-eastern or eastern European countries, she thereby enters into conflict with Germany. Perhaps Hitler will be satisfied with a declaration by the British government that if France, in carrying out her contractual obligations in eastern Europe, clashes with Germany, then England will be required to render France assistance. Lastly, Hitler would reach the same objective if through threats or bribery^ he succeeds in persuading the states bound to France that it is useless for them to depend on French assistance and therefore better for them to reach an accord with Germany.
In any event Hitler's diplomatic strategy confronts France with an alternative: either France renounces her allies or she cannot count on Germany preserving peace. The e gist of Hitler's proposal is an offer of security to French territory in return for France's renunciation of her present role-the role of a great power capable of seeking aid against an aggressor and of rendering such aid. Those British statesmen who predict that France's relations in the East and Southeast of Europe threaten to draw France into a war in which it cannot count on British aid, play into Hitler's hands and are intermediaries for his blackmailing.
It is laughable to analyse the garnishings under which Hitler serves his dish of proposals. But it is not funny when he agrees, as if he were making a concession, not to transport troops to the outer border of France. The e left bank of the Rhine is 90 kilometres wide, that is, motorized detachments can cover it in three hours and planes in fifteen minutes. This indicates the meaning of the German proposal that an international commission be created to receive complaints of illegal activities on the French, Belgian and German borders. As if it were a matter of complaints! Hitler refuses to accept obligations forbidding the fortification of the demilitarized zone even though in this respect modern technical conditions would allow him a wide scope in getting around any difficult treaty provisions. Some German military authorities are against German fortifications similar to "the line of Maginot."
But Germany reserves the right to erect whatever fortifications she needs, nor does it cost her anything to assume obligations not to increase the number of troops in the Rhineland during the negotiations. Germany did not volunteer any official figures concerning the number of men brought Into the Rhineland on March 7. Certainly no one knows the number of storm troopers or soldiers from the so-called labour camps (of whom there are at least 200,000 receiving military drill and subject to military discipline). Similarly, it is useless analysing Germany's proposals regarding the size of tanks or the calibre of heavy artillery which Germany suggests as outside limits. These offers have but one aim: to create among democratic-pacifist elements throughout the world the conviction that Germany, rearmed and no longer bound by the Versailles Treaty, is now willing to underwrite peace and reduce armaments. These German manoeuvres deceive only those who want to be deceived. French newspapers are not far from wrong when they declare that while Germany prepares for war and at the same time experiences great financial difficulties, she would not mind if the other powers more powerful financially would renounce expensive means of armament so hard at present for Germany to create in sufficient quantities.
Germany's proposals betray German strategy. This strategy is designed to separate the East from the West in order to smash each in turn. It creates a distinction between East and West, permitting peace guarantors in the West-even though illusory, in our opinion-^while not permitting them in the East. It attempts to cast a doubt op France's right to make pacts with the countries to the East and Southeast of Europe. Germany wants to dismember Europe, to settle with any of its parts in an order most suitable to German interests and strategy. She covers this strategic objective with crude pacifist phrases calculated to mislead the peace-loving masses of France and England; and to play into the hands of those circles of English isolationists which, while fully understanding what the German strategy means, pretend to believe in Hitler's sincerity.
Those who sincerely seek to strengthen peace, must understand Hitler's game. Actually, by the remilitarization of the Rhineland, Germany has improved her strategic position in the event of war. To weaken this relation in the world distribution of forces, a change is required. The hitherto insufficiently organized and insufficiently operating forces for peace must be organized under the League of Nations on the basis of strengthening obligations to this international body. They must work out a plan of defence against any aggression and create a collective guarantee of peace. In such a system a place must be accorded Germany on the basis of full equality. But if Germany, strengthened by her armament and by the occupation of the Rhineland, is not desirous of occupying this place and receiving security in return for security, then this system in defence of peace must be created despite Germany.
The League of Nations and all member countries must understand that this is a question of the life of the League, the preservation of peace. All who follow the line of a separate peace for the West and a separate peace for the East, play into the hands of Germany and favour the launching of the forces of war. These forces are altogether too great to make it possible to localize such a war. It will envelop in its flames the entire world. It will destroy a considerable number of the capitalist powers.
First published in The New Masses May 5, 1936
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