A Letter from Russia
(The letter below is translated from “Here sulo,” an Esperanto journal published in Paris. The letter is dated November 15th, 1935, and is written from Russia. Owing to the savage repression of Socialist and other opponents of the Communist Party, the name and address of the writer are not given. The letter is useful as a reminder that independent views still gain expression in spite of the Dictatorship.’)
Although I do not doubt that you certainly have sent me “heretical” literature, yet, if by chance this letter reaches you, it will show that I have received nothing from you for the past two months— absolutely nothing. I should like to pour out my indignation concerning this grave-like home of orthodoxy in which I am compelled to live—with a mask over my face. You will understand that the more indignant one may be, the more necessary it is outwardly to exhibit approval of the regime, and to cry loudly on every occasion, “Long Live Stalin the Great!” But this pouring out of indignation would avail nothing, and I know that you prefer concrete, exact facts and figures.
Therefore, you will find on the other side a table, which I compiled from the most trustworthy sources and which relates to prices at the beginning of October. You can prepare a similar table of prices in Paris, and in that way will be able to judge the standard of living of the Soviet working-class as it is eighteen years after its “emancipation.”
[This table, and a similar one compiled for France, are excluded for reasons of space. They show that average wages in Russia will buy much less food than can be bought by average wages in France. The comparison is, however, incomplete, because it does not take into account the low rents in Russia and the services provided free of cost.— Editorial Committee.]
However, I cannot refrain from saying that this low standard of living is not the worst side of our “socialist” regime; at least, so far as I myself am concerned. In the main, I long for freedom of speech and of meeting; I am sick to death with. “officialism.” But— and that possibly will be the most terrible news to you — more and more people here lose the desire for liberty: the new generation does not even understand what liberty means to you and me. Its chief care and desire is only to follow precisely the instructions from the Kremlin.
In the schools they are shamelessly reintroducing the old, traditional method of teaching, with strict discipline for the scholars. And it will appear to you very characteristic that there is great agitation to put all the scholars into uniforms. Soon our schools will be like barracks. In the Army also, discipline becomes more and more strict. Recently, they even re-established the old ranks, so that “Comrade” Vorosilov is now a Marshal! In every way they popularise him by means of articles and pictures. On the specimen postcard accompanying this letter you can admire his fat, jovial and self-satisfied face, and his breast decorated with eight orders.
What also characterises our present régime is the widespread campaign of so-called “udamiks,” whose task is to speed-up production and secure a record output.