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Paris Commune

Letters to the Editors: Socialists and the State

 We have received the following letter from a Southampton reader. Our reply follows.

    August 22nd, 1937.

Dear Sir,

Democracy and Dictatorship in Russia

 The unflagging interest in Russian conditions is forcing a wider discussion of the implications of Socialism. On the one hand the 100 per cent. Bolsheviks, as they style themselves, accept everything done by the Soviet Government as the best of all policies, and invite the rest of workers of the world to follow out the same policy. On the other hand, the open enemies of the workers, together with the more insidious agents bought by the master class, claim that everything the Bolsheviks have done is wrong and opposed to progress, liberty, and the rest of the cant phrases of our masters.

 The leaders and supporters of Bolshevism, however, are attempting to defend in discussion many of their methods which cannot be justified from the Socialist standpoint. These methods, viewed in the light of what limited knowledge the “freedom of the Press” allows us, seem to to be due to—

    Capitalist intervention and counter-revolution.

Russia 1917: As We Saw It

It was not until August 1918 that the Socialist Standardoffered a considered opinion, and only on the basis of the incomplete information then available, on the Bolshevik seizure of power in a 3,500 word article entitled 'The Revolution in Russia. Where it Fails'. Even if it represented a worker's takeover like the 1871 Paris Commune it was not and could not have been a socialist revolution.

What justification is there, then, for terming the upheaval in Russia a Socialist Revolution? None whatever beyond the fact that the leaders in the November movement claim to be Marxian Socialists. M. Litvinoff practically admits this when he says (p.37):

“In seizing the reigns of power the Bolsheviks were obviously playing a game with high stake. Petrograd had shown itself entirely on their side. To what extent would the masses of the proletariat and the peasant army in the rest of the country support them?”

The Last Meeting of The Commune

By Édouard Vaillant.

       In 1908 Vaillant gave the following account of the last assembly of the remnant of the Commune on May 27th, 1871 at Belleville, a working- class quarter of Paris.
      The details of that meeting are very little known, and a description by one of the actors in that last episode of Bloody Week will therefore be read with lively interest.

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