The Russian Situation
We live in tragic days, but days brim full of interest. During the past month the interest has certainly been most largely supplied by Russia. The spectacle of the whole capitalist world awaiting with tense anxiety the development of events in Russia, is one full of meaning to those who understand something of what is going on behind the curtain with which our masters in their wisdom try to obscure our view. On the one hand the Central Powers see in the Russian tangle great possibilities of advantage, while on the other hand the “Allies” see in the same turmoil all their chances of an effective offensive this Summer and Autumn vanishing into thin air.
The position as we conceive it is as follows. The capitalists of Russia, long squirming under the irksome restrictions placed upon their expansion by the feudal nobles, found in the conditions arising out of the war, a situation full of promise and they proceeded to exploit it. The Russian Army, they calculated, essentially an army in arms under duress, could have no love for the
powers that drove them to the shambles, while the people at large, groaning under the misery of the universal chaos, would accept the overthrow of the nobility with acclamation. So far they appear to have calculated correctly. They accomplished their coup d’état.
Having got safely so far, of course, the Russian capitalists were greeted with the applause of their fellow capitalists the world over. Bat, as the history of many revolutions shows, the job is only half complete largely upon a disaffected army and people ― an army and people writhing under the torture of this cruellest of wars, naturally find it no easy matter to keep the war machine a fit and efficient instrument for further prosecuting the war.
The simple Russian soldier, once the hand of the militarist bully relaxed its grip upon his throat, gave expression to his real feelings with regard to the war by fraternising with the “enemy” by battalions, and by deserting in myriads. The simple Russian peasants, to whom “Russian aspirations in the Straits” was a meaningless phrase, and the pan-Slav question empty vapouring ; to whom the enemy was the now deposed authority who had directed usurious taxation against them, holding their ungrown crops in mortgage to force them, broken and destitute, from their lands, offered no force moral or physical, to restrain the “unpatriotic” to the path of duty. Hence we find the Provisional Government engaged in the task of hunting around for some force wherewith to compel obedience to their commands, while the capitalist world looks on, its heart torn with anxious fears, wondering if they will find it
And now be it noted where the Russian master class, so lately revolutionary yet so soon reactionary, but yesterday so imbued with the spirit of sacrifice and freedom and equality, and so lavish of amnesty, yet this morning so hungering and thirsting after a force for coercion, turn first for an instrument to smooth their path and pluck the thorns from their bed of roses.
As in England and France and Germany the capitalist class have turned to the pseudo-Socialist and other labour fakers to aid them to their bloody victory, so in Russia the enemies of the working class find their agents in the ranks of the working-class leaders. Who fitter than a “Socialist” to harangue an undisciplined army? Who fitter than a “rebel” to lure other rebels from their rebellious ways ? Who fitter than a “leader” of “democracy” to represent the shadow of democracy as the substance, and to inflame the “democratic” passions to the defence of liberties which do not exist ? So they made a usurper of the Socialist name Minister for War, and sent him, hot-foot, to do work which no Socialist, in any country, could or would do.
So, having secured this agent to divide the workers, the Russian capitalists feel that they are strong enough for a bolder move, and have announced their intention of establishing a sort of travelling Courts with soldiers to execute their orders, though for the moment fear of the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Delegates Committees constrain them to hold their hands. Meanwhile they are straining every nerve to create a force, both of public opinion and military, powerful enough to strike at those who dare to challenge their right to rule, and when they have secured this, then the butchery will commence – the real bloodshed of this revolution start.
In the effort to re-establish tyranny in Russia let it be remembered what part is being played by the pseudo-Socialists and labour fakers of this country. Geographical difficulties and the exigencies of the war prevent Russia’s gallant allies from offering her armed forces to maintain “law and order,” so they are sending men of the Thorne and Sanders type, under the lying pretence that they represent Labour and Socialist opinion in this country. In thus helping to create a situation which a few battalions of Cossacks may bring to consummation, these men amply justify the worst we have said of them, and more also.