Memorandum On Certain Aspects Of The Bolshevist Movement In Russia. Part I. - Character Of Bolshevist Rule.
I. - CHARACTER OF BOLSHEVIST RULE.
1. “DICTATORSHIP OF PROLETARIAT.”
The theoretical purposes of the Bolsheviks are clearly set forth in the following statement of aims which was embodied in the call for the First Congress of the new Revolutionary International (later called the Third or Communist International), as having been worked out in accordance with the programs of the Spartacus Association of Germany and the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). As wirelessed by the Bolsheviks from Petrograd January 23, 1919, this statement contained the following:
The present is the period of destruction and crushing of the capitalist system of the whole world.
The aim of the proletariat must now be immediately to conquer power. To conquer power means to destroy the governmental apparatus of the bourgeoisie and to organize a new proletarian governmental apparatus. This new apparatus must express the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The dictatorship of the proletariat must he the occasion for the immediate expropriation of capital and the elimination of the private right of owning the means of production through making them common property.
In order to protect the socialist revolution against external and internal enemies and to assist the fighting proletarians of other countries, it becomes necessary to disarm entirely the bourgeoisie and its agents and to arm the proletariat.
(See Appendix I, p. 23, for the full text of the proclamation.)
The ablest analysis of the theory of the proletarian dictatorship is given by Lenin himself, in his report to the Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party, in March, 1919. (See Appendix II, p. 25, for the full text of this report, made in the form of a series of "theses.") Lenin's "theses" were adopted as the platform of the Third International, established in Moscow in March, 1919. From a reading of these theses it is clear that the period of construction claimed by the Bolshevist sympathizers had not arrived.
The following extract from a speech by Lenin at the session of the Petrograd Soviet of March 12, 1919 ("Severnaya Kommuna," Mar. 14, 1919), indicates the same:
We can understand the activities of the Council of People's Commissaries for the last year only if we assess the rôle of the Soviets on the scale of the world revolution. Often the daily routine of administration and details that could not be avoided in the work of construction are pushing us to one side and forcing us to forget the great task of world revolution. But only when we assess the rôle of the Soviets on the world scale will we be able properly to handle the details of our internal life and regulate them properly. The task of construction depends entirely on how soon revolution will triumph in the more important countries of Europe. Only after such a victory shall we be able seriously to undertake the work of construction. The expert accountants from Berne speak of us as the champions of the tactics of violence, but in referring to this they do not see what the bourgeoisie is doing in their own countries, namely, that it is governing exclusively by violence.
In theory, the “dictatorship of the proletariat” is the class-rule of a minority, the city workman. The “poorest peasantry,” that is the proletarian element among the peasants, is accepted as collaborators; but the peasantry as a whole is to be led by the urban proletariat (Summary of article by Carl Radek in the Communist, an official organ of the Russian Communist Party, of Apr. 20, 1918.) The Soviet Government styles itself the "Workmen's and Peasants' Government," but even theoretically it has been primarily the government of the urban proletariat. To bring the peasants into line the workmen thrown out of employment who had returned to their former villages, were organized as "Committees of the Poor," to control the villages in the interests of the urban proletariat. (This maneuver is described in detail by Larin, president of the Supreme Soviet of National Economy, in the Izvestia of Sept. 10, 1918.)
Only recently (since May, 1919) have the Bolsheviks taken a different attitude toward the peasantry. As the result of the increase of discontent and even uprisings in the peasant villages, the Bolsheviks have made a new "class division" of the peasantry. They have "discovered" the class of “middle peasants,” as opposed to the “poorest peasants,” and the “rich peasants,” and at the eleventh hour are endeavoring to conciliate this largest section of the peasantry.
In an address before an extraordinary session of the Moscow Soviet on April 3, 1919, Lenin said:
We must seek new sources of strength among the working classes; we must attract the village medium classes. These medium classes can develop their strength knowing that working with them are more experienced persons who have had a year's experience. Yes, the advance guard of the working class is worn out. It may be that the medium classes will not do so well, but we shall not lose much by this.
Mensheviks and social revolutionists fall into two classes. There's a group of specialists and officials who are working for us. These are not counter revolutionists and as long as they work we do not care whether they believe in the constituent assembly or even in God if they want to. The other class which only enters our ranks in order to stir up strikes must be crushed. (Izvestia April 5, 1919).
(See also Appendix III, p. 28, Lenin's Report to the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party, Mar., 1919; and Appendix IV, p. 31, speech of Kalinin, the president of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets.) Then, too, they needed the peasants in the Red Army, as shown by the following announcement:
From the central committee of the Russian Communist Party:
The central committee of the Russian Communist Party announces the following:
“ To all provincial committees of the Communist Party, to Provincial Military Commissaries.
“The All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets, at the session of April 23, unanimously adopted the decree to bring the middle and poor peasants into the struggle against the counter-revolution. According to this decree, every canton must send 10 to 20 strong, capable soldiers, who can act as nuclei for Red Army units in those places to which they will be sent." (Petrograd Pravda, May 1, 1919).
2. ELECTIONS TO SOVIETS.
How elections in Soviet Russia actually take place can not be fully established. Detailed accounts of elections, particularly the elections to the local Soviets which are supposed to be the basis of the Soviet system of representation, have not been found in the Bolshevist newspapers. Theoretically, the constitution of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic specifically provides for unequal representation of workmen and peasants, the inequality being in favor of the workmen. (Art. 53.) The committees of poor peasants mentioned above, composed mainly of workmen thrown out of employment by the collapse of industry, replaced peasant "Village Soviets" in October, 1918, when the latter were found to be acting" contrary to the constitution." (Izvestia, Oct. 10, 1918.) The accounts of the Petrograd Soviet elections of July, 1919 (Petrograd Pravda, July 5, 1919), give the returns of the election in such broad statements that no analysis of the system of elections is possible, except the generalization that the elections are by factories, regiments, Soviet institutions (employees), and trade unions. It would seem that the soldiers of the Red Army are given disproportionate representation as compared with the workmen of Petrograd.
A side light on the system of election and representation is given in the following news item from the Izvestia of the Petrograd Soviet, July 3, 1919:
Teachers and other cultural-educational workers this year for the first time will be able, in an organized manner through their union, to take an active part in the work of the Petrograd Soviet of Deputies. This is the first and most difficult examination for the working intelligentsia of the above-named categories. Comrades and citizens, scholars, teachers, and other cultural workers, stand this test in a worthy manner! * * *
Many observers from Russia have furnished accounts of the arbitrary manner in which the Bolshevist leaders have controlled elections, of which the following is a typical example. This account, from a landlord for whose bias due allowance must be made, was secured by an American representative in June, 1919 (see Appendix XIII, p. 35):
Considering this discontent and hatred, it would seem that elections to different councils (Soviets) would produce candidates of other parties, nevertheless all councils consist of communists. The explanation is very plain. That freedom of election of which the Bolsheviks write and talk so much consists in the free election of certain persons, a list of which had already been prepared. For instance, if in one district six delegates have to be elected, seven to eight names are mentioned, of which six can be chosen. Very characteristic in this respect were the elections February last in the district of * * * Moscow Province, where I had one of my estates. Nearly all voters, about 200, of which 12 were communists came to the district town. Seven delegates had to be elected and only seven names were on the prepared list, naturally all communists. The local Soviet invited the 12 communistic voters to a house, treated them with food, tea, and sugar, and gave each 10 rubles per day; the others received nothing, not even housing. But they, knowing what they had to expect from former experiences, had provided for such an emergency and decided to remain to the end. The day of election was fixed and put off from day to day. After four postponements the Soviet saw no way out. The result was that the seven delegates elected by all against 12 votes belonged to the Octobrists and Constitutional-Democrats. But these seven and a number of the wealthier voters were immediately arrested as agitators against the Soviet Republic. New elections were announced three days later, but this time the place was surrounded by machine guns. The next day official papers announced the unanimous election of communists in the district of Verea. After a short time peasant revolts started. To put down these, Chinese and Letts were sent and about 300 peasants were killed. Then began arrests, but it is not known how many were executed.
3. EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSIONS.
The" Extraordinary Commissions to Combat Counter-Revolution, Speculation, and Sabotage," were introduced in the first months of the Bolshevist régime. The local Extraordinary Commissions were organized by local committees of the Communist Party, and only later was their assumption of governmental functions sanctioned. (Weekly of All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, Oct. 27, 1918.) The Extraordinary Commissions have at moments claimed an authority superior to that of the Soviets (Weekly of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commissions, Oct. 27, 1918), and have always been the main instruments of oppression. The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission defines its position in the closing paragraph of a recent proclamation (Izvestia, Apr. 2, 1919):
The All-Russian' Extraordinary Commission, established by' the will of th~ Soviet authority to protect the revolution, warns all enemies of the workman class that in order to save hundreds of thousands of innocent victims from the
explosions and excesses, in order to save the conquests of the October revolution, it will suppress with a pitiless hand all attempts at uprising and will choke all appeals for the overthrow of the Soviet authority.
(Signed) ALL-RUSSIAN EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSION.
From the many proclamations issuing from the Extraordinary Commissions the following have been selected as typical:
COUNTER-REVOLUTIONISTS TO BE SHOT.
[From the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-Revolution.]
The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-Revolution, Sabotage, and Speculation, of the Council of People's Commissaries, brings to the notice of all citizens that up to the present time it has been lenient in the struggle against the enemies of the people.
But at the present moment, when the counter-revolution is becoming more impudent every day, inspired by the treacherous attacks of German counter-revolutionists; when the bourgeoisie of the whole world is trying to suppress the advance guard of the revolutionary International, the Russian proletariat, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, acting in conformity with the ordinances of the Council of People's Commissaries, sees no other way to combat counter-revolutionists, speculators, marauders, hooligans, obstructionists, and other parasites, except by pitiless destruction at the place of the crime.
Therefore the commission announces that all enemy agents, and counter-revolutionary agitators, speculators, organizers of uprisings or participants in preparations for uprising to overthrow the Soviet authority, all fugitives to the Don to join the counter-revolutionary armies of Kaledin and Kornilov and the Polish counter-revolutionary legions, sellers and purchasers of arms to be sent to the Finnish White Guard, the troops of Kaledin, Kornilov and Dovbor-Musnitsky, or to arm the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie of Petrograd, will be mercilessly shot by detachments of the commission at the place of the crime.
ALL-RUSSIAN EXTRAORDINARY COMMISSION.
PETROGRAD, February 22, 1918.
(Krasnaya Gazeta, publication of Petrograd Soviet of Workmen's and Soldiers' Deputies, Feb. 23, 1918.)
[From the President of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission.]
In view of the discovery of a conspiracy which aimed to organize an armed demonstration against the Soviet authority by means of explosions, destruction of railways and fires, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission warns that demonstrations and appeals of any kind will be suppressed without pity. In order to save Petrograd and Moscow from famine, in order to save hundreds and thousands of innocent victims, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission will be obliged to take the most severe measures of punishment against all who will appeal for White Guard demonstrations or for attempts at armed uprising.
(Signed) F. DZERZHINSKY,
President of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission.
(Izvestia, .April 2, 1919.)
Wide discretionary powers are given to these Extraordinary Commissions. In April, 1919, Lenin, as president of the Soviet of Defense, sends a telephonogram to the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission in which he says:
In view of the information received, the Soviet of Defense orders that the most urgent measures be taken to suppress all attempts to cause explosions, to destroy railways, and all appeals for strikes.
The Soviet of Defense calls on all workers in the Extraordinary Commission to be specially watchful, and to report to the Soviet of Defense all measures adopted.
(For full text of order see Appendix V, p. 32.)
The Bolshevist newspapers, especially the official Izvestia, have special columns devoted to reports on the activities of the Extraordinary Commissions, which show the range of cases that come under their jurisdiction: Acts of terror, anti-Soviet sermons or agitation, disobedience of orders respecting dwellings and speculation. (See Appendixes VI and VII, p. 32.)
The character and methods of the Extraordinary Commissions are well illustrated by such items as the following, from the Severnaya Kommuna of October 17,1918:
The Extraordinary Commission has organized the placing of police agents in every part of Petrograd. The commission has issued a proclamation to the workmen exhorting them to inform the police of all they know. The bandits, both in word and action, must be forced to recognize that the revolutionary proletariat is watching them strictly.
The following is a communication from the President of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, reprinted from the Izvestia, in the Russkaya Zhizn of May 10, 1919:
A whole series of disorders that have taken place recently show that even the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks wish to win the laurels of Krasnov (anti-Bolshevist general).
Their work is devoted entirely to the disorganization of our army (in Briansk, Samara, and Smolensk) and to disruptions of our industries (in Petrograd and Tula), of our transport and food supply services (railway strikes).
The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission herewith declares that it will make no distinction between White Guardists of the Krasnov type and White Guardists of the parties of Mensheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.
The punishing arm of the Extraordinary Commission will fall with equal severity on the heads of both groups.
The Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks that have been arrested by us will be considered hostages and their fate will depend on the conduct of these two parties.
President of the All-Rus8ian Extraordinary Commission.
Newspaper reports that the powers of these Extraordinary Commissions had been recently curtailed were not supported by a report from an American representative of July 2, 1919:
The Extraordinary Commission obtained the right to execute without judgment only in places where martial law was declared. But as the cities are long ago under martial law and in other parts of Soviet Russia martial law can be be declared any time, nothing has changed. In fact, prisoners it is desired to shoot without judgment are simply brought to Moscow, as it was done February last with those officers of the organization in Vladimir.
(For full report of this date, see Appendix XIII, p. 35.)
Any changes in the personnel of the ruling group in Soviet Russia have to date meant always a more tyrannical regime, as shown by a report from an American representative of September 15, 1919:
Peters has been obliged to resign as commandant of Petrograd and has been replaced by the ex-lawyer Koslovsky who was known for his relations with German agents during Kerensky's regime. Koslovsky has issued a proclamation saying that all crimes by White Guardists must be considered as committed by the entire bourgeoisie, and therefore all hostages must be killed at the least attempt on the safety of the government, and those guilty must be executed on the spot without trial or judgment.
The Extraordinary Commissions represent legalized terror, an instrument in the class war which is a fundamental principle of the Bolshevist doctrine. Terror was carried to one of its highest points of development in the fall of 1918. The American Consul General at Moscow reported as follows on September 3:
Tho situation of allied citizens here is dangerous but that of the Russians has already become tragic in the extreme. Complete suppression of all but Bolshevist papers since July 1 and imperfect communication abroad have no doubt left the outside world with hardly more than a suggestion of the true situation in Central Russia.
Since May the so-called extraordinary commission to combat counter-revolution has conducted an openly avowed campaign of terror. Thousands of persons have been summarily shot without even the form of trial. Many of them have no doubt been innocent of even the political views which were supposed to supply the motive of their execution. The assassination of Uritsky and the attempt on Lenin are the results of this high tyranny. Socialists once coworkers with the Bolsheviks have turned against them the methods by which they formerly attacked the tyranny of the tsars.
“Mass terror” is the Bolsheviks' reply. The official press publishes to-day the following from Petrograd: “In connection with the murder of Uritsky five hundred persons have been shot by order of the Petrograd Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-Revolution. The names of the persons shot and those of candidates for future shooting, in case of a new attempt on the lives of the Soviet leaders, will be published later.” In Moscow "general searches" are being made under general orders to arrest "the better-to-do and all former officers." The ill-administered prisons are filled beyond capacity and every night scores are irresponsibly shot. Sentence is passed on the slightest grounds or the general charge "might be dangerous to the Bolshevist power." The situation cries aloud to all who will act for the sake of humanity.
A copy of this telegram was furnished at the time by the Consul General to Chicherin, the Bolshevist Commissary for Foreign Affairs, and to Bonch-Bruevich, the Executive Secretary of the Council of People's Commissaries, in the hope that they might be influenced, by consideration of the effect of news of the terror upon public opinion abroad, to endeavor to terminate it. They gave no heed to the protest.
Recourse is also had to mass terror, which is carried on through all agencies of the Government. The following general incitement to terror was telegraphed broadcast in Soviet Russia on September 2, 1918:
Murder of Volodarsky and Uritsky, attempt on Lenin and shooting of masses of our comrades in Finland, Ukrania, the Don and Czecho-Slovakia, continual discovery of conspiracies in our rear, open acknowledgment of Right
Social Revolutionary party and other counter-revolutionary rascals of their part in these conspiracies, together with the insignificant extent of serious repressions and mass shooting of White Guards and bourgeoisie on the part of the Soviets, all these things show that notwithstanding frequent pronouncements urging mass terror against the Socialists-Revolutionaries, White Guards and bourgeoisie no real terror exists.
Such a situation should decidedly he stopped. End should be put to weakness and softness. All Right Socialist-Revolutionaries known to local Soviets should he arrested immediately. Numerous hostages should be taken from the bourgeois and officer classes. At the slightest attempt to resist or the slightest movement among the White Guards, mass shooting should be applied at once. Initiative in this matter rests especially with the local executive committees.
Through the militia and extraordinary commissions, all branches of government must take measures to seek out and arrest persons hiding under false names and shoot without fail anybody connected with the work of the White Guards.
All above measures should be put immediately into execution.
Indecisive action on the part of local Soviets must be immediately reported to People's Commissary for Home Affairs.
The rear of our armies must be finally guaranteed and completely cleared of all kinds of White Guardists, and all despicable conspirators against the authority of the working class and of the poorest peasantry. Not the slightest hesitation or the slightest indecisiveness in applying mass terror.
Acknowledge the receipt of this telegram.
Transmit to district Soviets.
(Weekly of the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, No.1, Moscow, September, 21, 1918.)
Mass terror was again officially instituted in Petrograd in July, 1919; it continues to date according to the latest reports. The following sentences from the proclamation issued by Peters, "To the citizens of Petrograd and environs," are taken from the Izvestia of the Petrograd Soviet for July 4, 1919: .
Mass searches recently conducted with the direct participation of the Petrograd Proletariat and also the voluntary giving up of arms. * * * However, the result of the mass and individual searches that still continue, and the turning in of arms, show that not all of the arms have been given up. * * * Workmen and workwomen of Petrograd: * * * Search the cellars, the attics, sheds, living quarters, and all places. * * * At the same time, in order to meet the weak-spirited and those who do not read orders carefully, I now for the last time fix the time limit for the voluntary giving up of arms. * * * There will be no quarter for those who do not take advantage of this last postponement. Failure to carry out this order will this time be regarded by me as a deliberate, counter-revolutionary ignoring of the ordinances of the Soviet authority, and will call forth a corresponding attitude on my part. (For full text see Appendix VIII, p. 33.)
Trotsky has tried to justify mass terror (extract from signed article in Izvestia of Jan. 10, 1919, under title "Military specialists and the Red Army"):
By its terror against saboteurs the proletariat does not at all say: "I shall wipe out all of you and get along without specialists." Such a program would be a program of hopelessness and ruin. While dispersing, arresting and shooting saboteurs and conspirators, the proletariat says: "I shall break your will, because my will is stronger than yours, and I shall force you to serve me." * * * Terror as the demonstration of the will and strength of the working class, is historically justified, precisely because the proletariat was able thereby to break the political will of the Intelligentsia, pacify the professional men of various categories and work, and gradually subordinate them to its own aims within the fields of their specialties.
5. CLASS DISCRIMINATION IN FOOD RATIONS.
In the fall of 1918, the Bolsheviks began a discrimination in the distribution of food, which operates, on the one hand, to lessen opposition through starvation, and on the other, to bring into the ranks of their active supporters many unconvinced but despairing recruits. By this system, which still subsists (see Appendixes IX, X and XI, p. 34), the population is divided into categories along occupational and class lines, and receives food, so far as food may be available, in accordance with a scale which is adjusted with a view to the maintenance of the Bolsheviks in power and the fulfillment of their program for the extinction of the middle classes. The ration given to members of the Red Army is estimated by the Izvestia of February 6, 1919, to be three times the average for the several categories of the civil population. The following is taken from an article by a Bolshevist official, in an Izvestia of May 1-14, 1919, describing what happened in the Volga district as the Bolsheviks advanced:
Instructions were received from Moscow to forbid free trade, and to introduce the class system of feeding. After much confusion, this made the population starve in a short time, and rebel against the food dictatorship * * * "Was it necessary to introduce the class system of feeding into the Volga district so haphazardly?" asks the writer. "Oh no. There was enough bread ready for shipment in that region, and in many places it was rotting, because of the lack of railroad facilities. The class feeding system did not increase the amount of bread * * * it did create, together with the inefficient policy, and the lack of a distribution system, a state of starvation, which provoked dissatisfaction. "
6. RED ARMY.
The Red Army ceased to be an army of volunteers by May of 1918. At first only the workmen and poorest peasants of certain districts were mobilized (Ordinance of All-Russian Central Executive Committee of May 16, 1918). Later all classes were mobilized (Mobilization Order No.4, Izvestia, Sept. 26, 1918), and by this order the local military commissariats, the heads of families, presidents of Soviets, of committees of poverty, factory committees and house committees, at the place of work. or residence of the man called to the colors, were held responsible for the nonappearance of the conscripted citizen. “Regimental committees, acting as administrative organs, can not exist in the Soviet army,” says a pamphlet issued by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee in 1918. The organization of the Red Army will be studied, it is expected, in a subsequent memorandum. Attention is called to the Red Army at this point because it also illustrates the oppressive character of the Bolshevist rule. It is used to handle the growing discontent, to solve the unemployment problem, and to collect food through “requisitioning detachments.” The Red Army is the instrument of a minority. Great care is taken in selecting the soldiers for the actual combat corps:
DECREE ON MOBILIZATION OF PEASANTS.
The meaning of the decree that is introduced on the initiative of the Council of Peoples' Commissaries is that each Canton must furnish 10 to 20 fighters who are tested cooperators of the Soviet authority and have been recommended by the cantonal executive committees, Experience has shown that it is better to take a small number of class conscious fighters than an enormous mass of unconscious. The decree is adopted unanimously. (Petrograd Pravda, Apr. 27, 1919.)
RESOLUTION OF PETERSBURG SOVIET.
For the struggle against Kolchak, the Petersburg Soviet decrees to mobilize 10 per cent of all members of trade unions and 20 per cent of all communists and "candidates. “To this end men are to be replaced in all Executive Committees, Commissariats, Unions of the Youth, organs of the Proletcult (Proletarian Culture), etc., by women, and for those mobilized whose years have not been called in, the conditions of subsistence and salary remain the same as previously published * * *.” (Petrograd Pravda, Apr. 27, 1919.)
Writing in the Petrograd Pravda of August 12, 1919, Trotsky used the following expressions:
The mobilization of the 19-year-old and part of the 18-year-old men, the inrush of the peasants who before refused to appear in answer to the mobilization decree, all of this is creating a powerful, almost inexhaustible, source from which to build up our army. * * * From now on any resistance to local authorities, any attempt to retain and protect any valuable and experienced military worker is deliberate sabotage. * * * No one should dare to forget that all Soviet Russia is an armed camp. * * * All Soviet institutions are obliged, immediately, within the next months, not only to furnish officers' schools with the best quarters, but, in general, they must furnish these schools with such material and special aids as will make it possible for the students to work in the most intensive manner. * * *
7. SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION AND EDUCATION.
Bolshevist programs for social reconstruction and education are comprehensive and in some respects good. Many decrees have been issued on this subject, but Lenin explained to the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party:
If we had expected that the whole life of the village could be changed by the writing of thousands of decrees, we certainly would have been complete idiots; but if we had failed to indicate the road in decrees, we would have been traitors to Socialism. These decrees, which in actual practice would not be carried out immediately and fully, have played an enormous rôle for propaganda. (For full text of this speech, see Appendix III, p. 28.)
An analysis of these measures, with an attempt to determine to what extent they have been actually realized, will, it is hoped, be given in a subsequent memorandum. In the two
centers, Petrograd and Moscow, something seems to have been accomplished, but the descriptions of conditions in peasant villages given in the following paragraphs indicate that the "proletarian culture" has not reached very far.
8. PEASANT PROTESTS.
The peasants particularly have felt the tyranny of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” as applied by representatives of the Soviet authority. The Bolshevist leaders themselves realize what has developed in actual practice and try vainly to check the current they started by appeals to their collaborators (see Lenin's Report to Eighth Congress of Communist Party, Appendix III, p. 28), or by themselves exposing the true facts of the situation, as in the following articles selected from the Moscow Izvestias of May 1-14, 1919:
From the Province of Vitebsk the following letter came to the Izvestia:
"Of late there has been going on in the village a really scandalous orgy. It is necessary to call attention to the destructive work of the scoundrels who worked themselves into responsible positions. Evidently all the good and unselfish beginnings of the workmen's and peasants' authority were either purposely or unintentionally perverted by these adventurers in order to undermine the confidence of the peasants in the existing government in order to provoke dissatisfaction and rebellion. It is no exaggeration to say that no open counter-revolutionary or enemy of the proletariat has done as much harm to the socialist republic as the charlatans of this sort. Take, as an instance, the third district of the government of Vitebsk, the county of Veliashkov. Here the taxes imposed upon the peasants were as follows: P. Stoukov, owning 17 desiatins, was compelled to pay a tax of 5,000 rubles, while U. Voprit, owning 24 desiatins, paid only 500 rubles. S. Grigoriev paid 2,000 on 29 desiatins, while Ivan Tselov paid 8,000 on 23 desiatins." (Quoting some more instances the writer adds that the soil was alike in all cases. He then brings some examples of the wrongs committed by the requisitioning squads.)
Latkin, a Red Army soldier, returned from a journey through several counties of the Province of Moscow, gave to the Izvestia of May 7, 1919, the following description of the frame of mind of the peasant, which he describes as very gloomy:
The peasants are dissatisfied with the war, are against the Red Army, and therefore give protection to deserters and persuade the soldiers not to obey orders. The middle peasant is beginning to cooperate with the village capitalists in their resistance to the Soviet authorities. (The Izvestia adds to the story of Latkin its own comment, consisting of a question as to why the peasants are dissatisfied and takes Latkin to task for not suggesting remedies and for having failed to enlighten the peasants.)
From a village in the Province of Tambov one Vopatin writes to the Izvestia, as follows:
Help! we are perishing! At the time when we are starving, do you know what is going on in the villages? Take for instance, our village, Olkhi. Speculation is rife there, especially with salt, which sells at 40 rubles a pound. What does the militia do? What do the Soviets do? When it is reported to them, they wave their hands and say, "This is a normal phenomenon." Not only this, but the militiamen, beginning with the chief and including some communists, are all engaged in brewing their own alcohol, which sells for 70 rubles a bottle. Nobody Who is in close touch with the militia is afraid to engage in this work. Hunger is ahead of us, but neither the citizens nor the "authorities" recognize it. The people's judge also drinks, and if one wishes to win a case one only needs to treat him to a drink. We live in a terrible filth. There is no soap. People and horses all suffer from skin diseases. Epidemics are inevitable in the summer. If Moscow will pay no attention to us, then we shall perish. We had elections for the village and county Soviets, but the voting occurred in violation of the constitution of the Soviet Government.
As a result of this a number of village capitalists, who, under the guise of communists, entered the party in order to avoid the requisitions and contributions, were elected. The laboring peasantry is thus being turned against the Government, and this at a time when the hosts of Kolchak are advancing from the east.
The following statement is taken from the report on a Bolshevist investigation of peasant uprisings (Izvestias, May 1-14, 1919):
The local communists behave with rare exceptions abominably, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that we were able to explain to the peasants that we also were communists.
An American representative at the Finnish frontier gathering information from refugees from Soviet Russia, reports as follows, under dates of June 25 and July 2, 1919:
The fall of Bolshevism, which seemed inevitable even two months ago, has created the wildest terrorism. People are executed without trial in masses on mere suspicion of sympathy with the Soviet's enemies. * * * Terror and necessity compel work for the Soviet Government but this work is much encumbered by theory, inexperience, and
corruption. * * * There will be a slaughtering of Bolsheviks as soon as the deliverers are near the centers and the Red terror ceases to be feared, but terror, hunger, and disease have temporarily created apathy. * * * The strength of the Bolsheviks lies in their organization. Terror, combined with most elaborate espionage at home and propaganda in and behind the ranks of the enemy make them still a formidable force.
Terror is daily increasing and people are being shot not only for agitation against the Soviet Government but for any other accusation. The fact of not being in the Soviet service, of having relatives who are abroad, or the possibility of intending to join a new government is sufficient reason for execution * * *. Espionage and provocation are developed to the highest perfection. Agents of the Extraordinary Commissions are everywhere, in all departments, railroad carriages, streets, and private houses.
(For full texts of these reports, see Appendixes XII and XIII, p. 35.)