Russia 1917: As We Saw It

By the time the piece on General Korniloff was published, he had staged, in August, a failed putsch to overthrow Kerensky who by then was Prime Minister.

The tit-bits that appear in the newspapers here regarding Russia and the revolution are of a very contradictory nature. However, some very interesting quotations do occasionally creep into the columns of the Press, as instance the following:

‘The organ of the Council of Soldiers and Workmen’s Delegates, after quoting two English newspapers to the effect that the declaration of the Provisional Government and the pronouncements of the revolutionary leaders show that the Russian peace formula coincides with the British and French war aims, says:

“You are deceiving yourselves, gentlemen, or, rather, you are vainly striving to delude your fellow-countrymen concerning the real policy of the Russian revolution. The revolution will not sacrifice a single soldier to help you repair “historic injustices” committed against you. What about the “historic injustices” committed by yourselves and your violent oppression of Ireland, India, Egypt, and innumerable peoples inhabiting all the continents of the world? If you are so anxious for ‘justice’ that you are prepared, in its name, to send millions of people to the grave, then, gentlemen, begin with yourselves.”―(Daily News, May 30th, 1917)

After well chewing this delectable morsel I can quite conceive the need for sending the decoy ducks, Thorne, Henderson & Co., to Petrograd to counteract this rather frank statement of Russian opinion concerning the aspirations of their British and French Allies. Ireland, India, and Egypt! A hit, a palpable hit, my masters! (Socialist Standard, July 1917)

‘Quite recently one of the regiments of Siberian Rifles, which had fought so splendidly at the beginning of the revolution, abandoned the Riga front, and nothing else but the order to exterminate the whole regiment availed to make it return to its positions’—(General Korniloff, Russian Commander. in-Chief, at the Moscow Conference).

A side-light, this, on the way “heroes” are made. Had these men stood out against the order of “Comrade” Kerensky’s colleague in butchery and been exterminated, the world’s skunk Press would have been howling “cowards! traitors!” over their reeking corpses. But they chose the un-heroic part, and so will yet become ”heroes” and ”high-souled patriots,” “going into battle with joy,” and “making the great sacrifice” for Holy Russia. So it is in all countries. Apart from individuals, the highest courage is to be found farthest back from the trenches. It reaches a high level at “Staff Headquarters,” where ornamental soldiers of blood “win their spurs” without losing their lives, and it reaches sublimity as far back as Fleet Street and the Cabinet chamber. But the nearer the front it is the more it has to be manufactured by making the soldier more afraid of his own tyrants than of the “enemy” (Socialist Standard, September 1917).

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