Raymond Robins' Own Story
THE BOLSHEVIK "BOMB "
T0 a meeting of American business men Robins recently said: "You believe that private property has a great and useful mission in the world. So do I. You believe that free capital is absolutely necessary to the world's best progress. So do I. That is why I am talking to you to-day. There is a bomb under this room and under every other room in the world; and it can blow our system---your system and my system---into the eternal past with the Bourbons and the Pharaohs.
"I saw this bomb make its first explosion---in Russia. I am not responsible for any more brains than God has been willing to put into my head, and I cannot tell you the whole Russian situation in every part and in every light, but I have been saying one thing about this bomb now for eighteen months, and every new big development in Russia has proved that I am telling the truth. This bomb is a real bomb. It is not simply a great lot of riots and robberies and mobs and massacres. If it were, it would be no bomb at all. We are talking now of something that can destroy the present social system. Riots and robberies and mobs and massacres cannot destroy the present social system or any social system. They can be stopped by force. They can be stopped by the strong arm of government in command of the physical power of government. The only thing that can destroy a social system is a rival social system---a real rival system---a system thought out and worked out and capable of making an organized orderly social life of its own.
"Gentlemen, this bomb is that kind of proposition. The danger of the Soviet system to the American system is that the Soviet system is genuinely a system on its own account.
"There was more law and order, gentlemen, in Petrograd and Moscow under the Bolshevik Nikolai Lenin than under the anti-Bolshevik Alexander Kerensky. I saw it with my own eyes. The methods used by the Bolsheviks to get law and order were drastic. They were ruthless. I am not speaking now of the Terror. I shall speak of the Terror later. Here I speak of the enforcement of all law against all lawless elements, whether rebels or sneak-thieves or highway robbers or persons insisting on drinking alcoholic liquors when the drinking of alcoholic liquors was, and is, forbidden. All such persons were pursued with a great pursuit---altogether remarkable in a time of so many other demands and troubles---and, when caught, they were dealt with mighty shortly and suddenly. Orderliness was produced. I saw it with my own eyes, down to May of 1918.
"A year later Mr. Frazier Hunt of The Chicago Tribune and Mr. Isaac Don Levine of The Chicago Daily News go to Russia. It is 1919. There has been a Terror. There has been a war. There has been a blockade. There has been starvation. There has been daily hell, with men's hearts stirred to frenzy by the sufferings of their wives and children, and with men's hands reaching out by the instinct of such circumstances to any stores of food and fuel anywhere in any government warehouse or in any private cellar. But what do Mr. Hunt and Mr. Levine see? They see what I saw. They see a population in which the instinct of personal self-preservation in hunger and agony is held in steady and successful check by the social control of the Soviet power. They see a population as orderly, fully as orderly, as the population of New York or of San Francisco.
"Gentlemen, the people who tell you that the Soviet system is nothing but riots and robberies and mobs and massacres are leading you to your own destruction. They are giving you your enemy's wrong address and starting you off on an expedition which can never reach him and never hurt him. To hurt Bolshevism you need at least to get its number. Bolshevism is a system which in practice, on its record, can put human beings, in millions, into an ordered social group and can get loyalty from them and obedience and organized consent, sometimes by free will, sometimes by compulsion, but always in furtherance of an organized idea---an idea thought out and worked out and living in human thought and human purpose as the plan of a city not yet made with hands, but already blue-printed, street by street, to be the millennial city of assembled mankind.
"Gentlemen, it is a real fight. We have to fight it with the weapons with which it can be fought. Against idea there must be idea. Against millennial plan there must be millennial plan. Against self-sacrifice to a dream there must be self-sacrifice to a higher and nobler dream. Do you say that Lenin is nothing but Red Guards? Gentlemen, let me tell you something. I have seen a little piece of paper with some words on it by Nikolai Lenin, read and re-read and then instantly and scrupulously obeyed in Russian cities thousands of miles beyond the last Red Guard in Lenin's army."
Robins was alluding to his experience on his way out from Russia back to the United States. He left Moscow on May 14, 1918, with a Bolshevik pass, but also with five rifles and one hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition in his special car. The rifles and the ammunition were the property of the Soviet government. To get them Robins had to get a most special permit. He went to the Soviet government, and got the permit, and went around to say good-by to his friends and acquaintances in Moscow. He told them he was going out by Vladivostok.
PRESIDENT PEOPLE'S COMMSSIONERS
To all councils of deputies and other Soviet organization:
I beg you to give every kind of assistance to Colonel Robins and other members of the American Red Cross Mission for an unhindered and speediest journey from Moscow to Vladivostok.
V. ULIANOV (LENIN).
"What? " said the experts in boulevard upper-world underground information. "What? Going out by Vladivostok? Not by Archangel? Not by Murmansk? Not by Finland? Do you mean it? By Siberia? My dear man, don't you know that Lenin stops having any say-so about anything at all when you get to a point five hundred miles east of here? Don't you know that all Siberia is overrun with Soviets who pay no attention to Lenin and with brigands who pay no attention to the Soviets? Don't you know that the Soviets and the brigands between them will take all your money and probably all your clothes?"
"No, I do not," said Robins. He was weary of answering such questions in any other way. "No, I do not," he said, and boarded his train.
He got to Vladivostok. He got there in a running-time only a few hours greater than would have been consumed by the running-time of the Siberian Railway under the old régime. He himself has seen the Siberian Railway under the Kerensky regime. The Bolsheviks were doing better by it. There was less clutter. There was more energy. Incidentally, there was food at every station. And, above all, the local governments were not raising their heads against Lenin as they had raised them against Kerensky.
In 1917, when Robins came into Russia through Siberia, the Red Cross Mission with which he traveled was stopped at Chita by a local government and had to run by stealth through Krasnoyarsk in order to avoid being stopped by a local government there. In 1918, when Robins came out of Russia, his Red Cross car was stopped nowhere. Nowhere did any local government interrupt it. Nowhere did any local government, after Robins had shown his credentials from Moscow, even attempt to examine it.
Between Moscow and Vladivostok Robins passed through fifteen different successive Soviet jurisdictions. At the first town within each jurisdiction there would be a commissioner and a platoon of soldiers. They would start going through the train to which Robins' car was attached. They would arrest persons whom they called rebels---counter-revolutionaries. They would confiscate property---vodka, for instance, and rifles---which they called contraband. Robins had no vodka, but he had rifles. Moreover, he was a bourgeois. According to the boulevards he was entitled to be shot at sight by any true Soviet anywhere. Nevertheless, he would venture to show the commissioner a certain paper. The commissioner would sit in Robins' car, with his soldiers outside, and read this paper. Having read it, he would rise and bow and say, "Please, thank you, good day." And that would be the last Robins ever saw of him, and the soldiers never came into the car, and nothing in the car was ever examined or censored or in any slightest way subjected to any local stoppage, interference, or scrutiny.
The paper was a wish by Lenin. He could not physically enforce it, because at that time his Red Army was not large enough to reach so far; but it was a wish by Lenin. It said in effect that courtesy to Colonel Robins of the American Red Cross was desired by Lenin. It bore the words Vladimir I. Ulianov and then in parentheses the word Lenin. It was enough.
It was enough on the Volga, and it was enough on the Amur. On the Amur, at Khabarovsk, Robins came to a Soviet farther away from Moscow than any other Soviet on Russian soil. It was "The Soviet of the Far Eastern District," bordering the Arctic, bordering the Pacific. Its president-commissioner, A. M. Krasnotshokov, read Lenin's letter and at once in due form gave Colonel Robins of the American Red Cross the official freedom of the city of Khabarovsk and took him to attend a conference of the local Council of People's Commissioners, since Lenin wished him to have courtesy. On the Amur, four thousand five hundred miles beyond the farthest line then reached by any soldier in Lenin's Guard, Lenin's name was enough. It was the name of the revolution, of the Soviet idea, of the Soviet system.
At Vladivostok Robins took his rifles and his cartridges and surrendered them to the Vladivostok Soviet. He had not fired one shot. He had not heard one shot fired by anybody else.
That was Siberia of the Bolsheviks.
To-day in Siberia the anti-Bolshevik ruler, Kolchak, cannot get obedience from the Siberian population and cannot keep the Siberian Railway for one day free from raiders and marauders without the help of scores of thousands of foreign Allied and associated troops. In May of 1918 a letter from Lenin, without even a headquarters policeman behind it, could send a car across all Siberia from Cheliabinsk to Vladivostok unmolested and unsearched and could get from every local governmental capital an immediate response of loyal fellowship.
Robins sat on the deck of a steamer going out of Vladivostok and watched the headlands of Asia dimming and said to himself:
"Back there, in that country, a dark country, I have seen a new social binder among men."
Oddly, very oddly, the Allied and Associated governments seemed at that time, in certain ways, to entertain a quite similar opinion. Robins, on his steamer, thought back over certain strange things recently done by the Allied and Associated governments---things strange, indeed, if the Soviet republic was really thought by them to be nothing but Russian anarchism venally serving German militarism.
There was the matter of the American Railway Mission in Russia. It was despatched to Russia in 1917. In March of 1918 part of it was in Harbin in Manchuria and part of it was in Nagasaki in Japan. In that same month of March the Bolsheviks ratified the peace of Brest-Litovsk. The worst about them was known. The American ambassador, Mr. David R. Francis, was in Russia, at Vologda, to know it. Yet on March 27th, eleven days after the ratification of the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, and in the full light of the full meaning of that event, Mr. Francis wired Mr. Stevens of the American Railway Mission in Harbin to send Mr. Emerson and a party of a hundred other American railway experts on into Soviet Russia to serve the Soviet government in the operation of the Soviet railway system. And on April 6th, from Vologda, Mr. Francis informed Robins by wire at Moscow that he had cabled Washington, urging the American government to support and promote this plan.
Mr. Francis now talks as if no representative of a respectable government could ever have extended a finger toward the Soviet government except by way of reprobation. He extended a whole hand of friendship to it in the vital matter of the technical improvement of its transportation. He must have regarded it as a government worthy of his hand.
Again there was the matter of the training of the Soviet government's Red Army. The American ambassador lent his countenance and his active assistance to the training of that army. So did all the representatives in Russia of Britain, France, and Italy. In March of 1918, after the ratification of the shameful peace and the so-called betrayal of Russia to Germany by the Bolsheviks, the representatives of the Allied and Associated governments conferred earnestly and frequently with the Bolshevik Secretary of War---Trotzky himself---and with Bolshevik generals, regarding the best methods of providing military instruction and "revolutionary discipline" for the new Red Army; and Allied infantry officers, artillery officers, aviation officers, hastened up from South Russia to Moscow to take part in the giving of that instruction and in the imparting of that discipline.
Mr. Francis now seems to regard the Red Army as a very vicious array. It was just as vicious in the spring of 1918. But on March 26, 1918, Mr. Francis from Vologda solicitously inquired from Robins at Moscow, "What progress in formation of new army?" And on May 3, 1918, he called attention to his sympathetic attitude toward the Soviet republic by saying (among other things) in a letter to Robins: "You are aware of my action in bringing about the aid of the military missions toward organizing an army."
Why did Mr. Francis want to help organize an army of anarchists and pro-Germans? In justice to him one is forced to conclude that he did not think it was an army of anarchists and pro-Germans. It was not; and the ambassador, previous to the time when intervention was ordered at London and Paris and Washington, said by his actions that it was not.
Also there was the matter of the co-operation between the Allies and the Bolsheviks at Murmansk. This co-operation was witnessed by a member of Robins' Red Cross staff---Major Thomas D. Thacher. Major Thacher was secretary of the American Red Cross Mission in Russia under Colonel Billings, and then under Colonel Thompson, and finally under Robins. He was especially assigned to have charge of "distribution of civilian relief"---the distribution of milk, for instance, in Petrograd. He is by private occupation a lawyer, in New York. He left Russia in March of 1918 because of the serious illness of his father, and he went out by way of Murmansk.
In March, at Murmansk, there was the following state of things:
There was a Soviet there, headed by a man named Youriev, formerly a fireman on board a Russian ship belonging to the Russian Volunteer Fleet. There was also a British admiral there---Admiral Kemp---in command of His Majesty's war-ship Glory. There was also a French commanding officer there with some French forces. These three persons---the Soviet commissioner, the British admiral, and the French commanding officer---were co-operating in a project of war against the White Finns and the Germans along the line of the Murmansk Railway. The supreme control of the project was in the hands of the Soviet, headed by the ex-fireman. The British admiral honored the ex-fireman. He fired a formal salute from the Glory to the ex-fireman's flag, the flag of the Soviet republic, the Red flag. Would Admiral Kemp have fired a salute to a pro-German anarchist flag? One cannot believe it. The salute he fired must have been to a Red flag remotely worthy of association with Britain's own red ensign.
This association, this co-operation, at Murmansk, was witnessed by Major Thacher down to March 26, 1918. It was sanctioned by Trotzky. In and by itself it wrecks the theory of an Allied and associated diplomacy believing the theory of a Soviet republic created and operated by the German General Staff.
But again---and in climax---there was the matter of the Black Sea Fleet. Did that fleet fall into the hands of the Germans? It did. Was that pro-German? Well, before the Black Sea Fleet fell into the hands of the Germans, there was a certain offer made. It was made by the Soviet government to the British. The Soviet government deliberately and distinctly offered to the British, through the British commissioner at Moscow, the opportunity to send British naval officers to take charge of the Russian Bolshevik Black Sea Fleet! "If those officers," said Trotzky, "find that they can do nothing else, they can at least sink the fleet before the Germans get it."
The British commissioner will not deny that this offer was made. He mentioned it in a letter to Robins. Like the American ambassador, the British commissioner now wears the look of a man who always knew that those Bolsheviks could not be tolerated. But also like the ambassador, he wrote himself down as knowing no such thing at a time when the Bolsheviks were under their thickest cloud of alleged pro-Germanism. In his letter to Robins, on May 5, 1918, he signed his name---R. H. Bruce Lockhart---to the following explicit statement, covering the Black Sea Fleet incident and also certain other incidents, convincing then and equally convincing now:
Moscow, 5th May, 1918.
DEAR COLONEL,---I am afraid you will have left for Vologda before I have a chance of seeing you. Do let me, in support of my view of things here, put before you the following definite instances in which Trotzky has shown his willingness to work with the Allies.
(1) He has invited Allied officers to co-operate in the reorganization of the New Army.
(2) He invited us to send a commission of British Naval officers to save the Black Sea Fleet.
(3) On every occasion when we have asked him for papers and assistance for our naval officers and our evacuation officers at Petrograd he has always given us exactly what we wanted.
(4) He has given every facility so far for Allied Co-operation at Murmansk.
(5) He has agreed to send the Czech Corps to Murmansk and Archangel.
(6) Finally, he has to-day come to a full agreement with us regarding the Allied stores at Archangel whereby we shall be allowed to retain those stores which we require for ourselves.
You will agree that this does not look like the action of a pro-German agent, and that a policy of Allied intervention with the co-operation and consent of the Bolshevik government is feasible and possible. Yours very sincerely,
R. H. BRUCE LOCKHART.
Mr. Lockhart was Mr. Lloyd George's special personal representative in Russia. If Mr. Lockhart told Mr. Lloyd George what he told Robins, then Mr. Lloyd George had reason to know that the Soviet government was precisely what Robins has always said it was---a government on its own account, having its own stake and playing its own hand in the world, co-operating here and refusing to co-operate there, with this foreign government or with that foreign government, indifferently, according to its own vision of its own Socialist revolutionary interest.
Yet, as Robins crossed the Pacific on his way back to the United States, he could see the fog of Allied intervention closing down over Soviet Russia. The training of the Red Army by the Allied and American missions was stopped. The offer of the Black Sea Fleet to the British was refused. Intervention was in the air. Its causes were a fog. And it itself turned out to be, in method, a fog. Robins hoped that at Washington he might be able to penetrate it and perhaps to dissipate it.
He hoped also that he might be able to talk to American business men about the message conveyed to American business by the victory of Bolshevism over capitalism in Russia. It was capitalism's first defeat---its first first-class defeat---in the world. Capitalism would be absurd---and therefore doomed---if it could not learn something from that experience. What is the strength, what are the weaknesses, of American capitalism to-day? How can it best prepare itself for its approaching competition with the Soviet idea and with the Soviet system in the world's future? On that theme Robins has spoken now to many audiences of American business men. He has tried to express both his objective conclusions and the personal routes by which he came to them, candidly. He has said: "I want you to understand my approach to this problem. For years I was a wage-earner, living on my own manual labor. For years now I have been a capitalist, living on my earnings invested, living on dividends. I come to this problem, therefore, gentlemen, from both approaches. So, fortunately, do many of you---perhaps most of you. This is America. We are wage-earners to-day and capitalists to-morrow. A Bolshevik once said to me: 'You Americans have a bourgeoisie with working-class traditions and a working-class with a bourgeois temperament.' I could not contradict him. I did not want to contradict him. I hope that forever and forever we may have an America in which when you scratch a bourgeois or scratch a wage-earner you find simply an American.
"The problem is, how to make sure of such an America?
"You are proud, gentlemen, of American industry. You have a right to be proud. American industry has the primary and fundamental virtue of being able to make the wheels go round, and go round fast . It can produce. I do not believe that any Socialist system could produce so rapidly and so abundantly. I held that disbelief about Socialism when I went to Russia. Having returned from Russia, I still hold it. My conclusion is that the American system is the system that deserves to survive, for productivity, for delivering the goods.
"And why is it able to deliver the goods? Surely the reason is the familiar one:
"It summons, it welcomes, personal individual leadership. To the man who has a great industrial value it gives a great financial reward; but it gives him more than a reward. It gives him command. It takes a Henry Ford and, without the aid or consent of the electorate of Michigan, or of commissions and sub-commissions, or of investigations and further investigations, it puts him, by proof of his own efforts, into a position in which he can make motor-cars the way Henry Ford wants to make motorcars.
"Some industries---like water-works---are not fitted to that kind of individual command. Manufacturing industries---the originative industries---are. In them lies the creative force of the industrial world; and in them the American system, at its best, gets prodigious productivity by summoning and welcoming a leadership highly individual, highly personal, clothed with opportunity and with authority to put that personality into product and into the organization of men. This strength, surely, we ought never to abandon. It is a mighty strength.
"But American industry has two weaknesses, frequently disclosed. They might be fatal. I do not think they need to be fatal. They can be overcome.
"Gentlemen, you have just gone through a war. During that war you lived by a new standard. You lived by a standard forbidding at least one of the two weaknesses of American industry. It was not enough for you during the war to be able to show that your business was successful. You had to show that your business was successful for the United States. If it was not successful for the United States, you had at least to pretend that it was. You forgot the old boasts. You learned new boasts.
"Your sons were on the Western front. They had nothing to do with making this war. They are still, many of them, on the Western front to-day. They do not survive to enjoy what they earned. You have their earnings. I used to speak, before we were in the war, and before I was sent to Russia I used to speak to Canadians at enlistment meetings. I saw the faces of the men as they came up to enlist. What did I see on those faces? Youth. Youth unknowing of the past and unknowing of the future. Youth which there in Canada---and afterward here in the United States---took ship for France to die, still unknowing, for institutions which were not of their hands and which were never to be in their hands, but which they preserved to make life for you and me now livable. In the presence of that atonement, by the innocent for the old, you did not dare to express any standard for your business except a new standard. It came to your lips. You spoke it then. You have to speak it now. It has to be kept. It was---it is---the standard of public service.
"Gentlemen, when American industry turns from free personality to an artificial control of prices, when it turns from free productivity to a concerted partition of markets, when it turns from leadership to pure profit-taking, then it abandons service and exposes a weak point, a point of dangerous weakness, to the attacks of the Soviet system. The Soviet system, feeble as I think it is in its economic mechanism) has nevertheless a great strength in its economic aim. Its economic aim is public use, public benefit. To compete with it we must have in American industry a similar continuous aim of public use, of public benefit; and what we learned about service in a time of war we must learn to perpetuate for all time.
"That is our first need, in my observation, to check our first weakness. Our second need, out of our second weakness, is again, I think, a vital change of standard and view.
"We must altogether abolish the commodity view of labor. It is not labor that is the commodity. It is capital. I send my capital to distant places to work for me and do not go myself. When I used to send my labor to work for me, in the field or in the mine, I always went right along with it. I was always right there. Capital is matter, and must have the rank of matter. Labor is life and must outrank capital in the consideration of managers of industry.
"I want to read you a certain statement of the comparative social values of labor and capital.
"'Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the highest consideration.'
"I hope you agree with this statement. I hope you find it American. It was written by the most American of all the Americans that have ever lived. It was said to the American people by Abraham Lincoln as President of the American people. I call it Americanism and I call it the spirit which must be added among us to American individualistic capitalism in order to make it fully American and fully secure.
"You may ask me, What would this spirit do in practice? I say it would do two things.
"First, it would remove from every wage-earner's home, by the regularizing of industry and by insurance, the monstrous terrors of unemployment and of the indefensible destitution which falls upon that home with sickness, old age, sudden death. The means by which this end can be reached are well known. What we lack is the will. The spirit of Abraham Lincoln would give us the will.
"In the second place, it would set us at once to devising the best and largest free co-operation possible between the managers of industry and the rank-and-file employees of industry in the technical and social purposes of industry.
"A labor leader was walking by the Pennsylvania Railway station in New York. He pointed to it and said:
"'The men who put the stones together in that station saw only the stones. They were given only the stones. Some day labor will be given the plan of the beauty its hands are making.'
"That is the principle. Human beings have to know, and have to share, the plan as well as the stones of their labor; and today we have to go one step beyond the step which my people in the Southland of these States were made to take in 1863.
"We thought, we Southerners, and we thought sincerely, that cotton could not be grown without slave labor. We knew the negro. We knew you could not make the negro work except as a slave. We knew all about it. And we were just exactly one hundred per cent. wrong. In the Southern states to-day, with the free negro labor, I know men who are raising so much cotton per acre and making so much money per acre that an old ante-bellum slave-owner would cry to see it.
"Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves; and, in the words I have quoted from him, he prophesied the next step. He was the greatest among us for many reasons, but for none more than this, that he divined the answer to a day he never saw.
"In that day, to-day, by enlightenment or by another cataclysm, we will take that next step. We will advance the free wage-earner from having a freedom of person to having additionally the freedom of industry. He is to-day, in matters of management, an industrial outsider. We will make him an insider. We will give him a responsible citizenship in industry. By voluntary shop organization, by committees not of governmental bureaucrats, but of managers and employees in their own workrooms, we will produce a free co-operation of human beings in industry not only for hours and wages, but for problems of production and for divisions of profit among investors and managers and employees and for extensions of service to the public.
"The supreme task of American industry to-day is to cure its two weaknesses and yet to retain its primary fundamental strength---free leadership. American industry has to combine free leadership with the obligation of service. It has to combine free leadership with the obligation of partnership between the leaders and the led. It has to do it.
"In just one set of circumstances could the Soviet system out-compete the American system. Let the American system be operated purely for private aims and with a labor outside management, and driven, not cooperating. Let the Soviet system, on the other hand, be operated for public purposes and with a labor co-operating because conscious of partnership and participation and responsibility. Then the industrially poorer system might out-compete the industrially better system; because it would have a better social psychological driving-engine in it.
"Our task is to equal that engine---and to improve upon it. We can. The Soviet engine, after all, goes back to a class dictatorship and a coercive state. We, out of freedom, out of traditions of freedom and of free effort not known to Russia (or, in truth, to any other European country), ought to be able to make an engine as superior to Lenin's as consent is to force.
"Force, relatively to consent, does not create. Force, if continued to its utmost, is death. Consent, if continued to its utmost, is life almost illimitable. We have a better start than any other country in the world toward a system based on consent. Let us proceed to get by consent, morally, the going power which other countries are trying to get by force, mechanically. Then I should have no fear of the outcome. Then I should say that the American system, retaining free leadership and retaining personality----personality---and with the added lift in it of service to the public and of co-operation with labor, voluntary service and voluntary co-operation, could face any competition in the world and emerge not merely secure, but triumphant, dominant, the world's model and imitated master. May it be!"
With such thoughts in mind about the answer of Americanism to the challenge of Bolshevism, Robins landed at Seattle and there received a message from Washington saying that the State Department desired him not to talk for publication. He had already received a similar message at Vladivostok and another similar one at Tokyo. They amounted to an order. Robins had represented the American government---an official branch of the American government---in Russia. The American government now requested him to be silent, in public, about Russia. He obeyed, and proceeded to Washington.
There he talked to various officials, highly placed within the administration. Some of them, having heard him, would at once say that of course the President must hear him too, straight off. They would say that they would speak to the President immediately. The President would send for him. Later, meeting Robins again, they would be reticent about the President. The President did not send for him.
Robins was then in this position:
He was the only American who personally intimately knew the leaders of the existing Russia. He had come to know them as an agent of the American government. Returning, he could not speak to the man in the White House who was acting for the American people toward Russia; and, by order of that man's State Department, he could not speak to the people.
In July intervention came. Still Robins remained silent. The great war was on. He remained silent as long as it lasted. He remained silent even after it had ended, because for some time the administration seemed likely to withdraw from intervention, and Robins naturally did not wish to make unnecessary revelations of American misadventures abroad. In silence he looked on till all hope of withdrawal from intervention by will of the administration had passed and till the Overman Senate Committee officially summoned him to speak. Then and thereafter he spoke, and spoke at liberty, in public, with the same facts with which he had previously spoken, in private, to Washington officials.
It is to be noted that he spoke to those officials privately but fully. Those officials then knew, and it was open to the President to know, in June of last year, the reasons why intervention in Russia was bound to bring forth the results now spread before us.
Intervention has fed the flame of Bolshevism in Russia and has scattered its sparks on a high wind through the world.
In Russia, with the first authentic mutterings of intervention, the Terror---the Mass-Terror---began. Russians were in arms against Russians. Reactionary Russians, Russians the enemies of all human democratic liberty, were getting secret Allied help and were soon to get open Allied help. By themselves they had not been dangerous. With Allied help they genuinely threatened the revolution. The revolution rose against them. It rose against all counter-revolutionary leaders, reactionary or democratic. It rose against them not only as counter-revolutionaries, but as traitors. If the anti-Bolsheviks said to the Bolsheviks, " You have served the German foreigners," the Bolsheviks said to the anti-Bolsheviks: "You are serving the Allied foreigner, and you are doing something we never did. We surrendered some Russian soil to Germany. We surrendered it under compulsion, and we shall get it back. But we surrendered it. Yes. But you! You propose to use foreign bayonets to settle a domestic Russian question. We overthrew Kerensky with Russian bayonets. You know it. You know that the Czar fell when the bayonets of the Russian army left the Czar and went to the men of the March revolution, and you know that Kerensky fell when the bayonets of the Russian army left Kerensky and went to the men of the November revolution. The peoples of foreign countries may not know it, but their rulers know it, and you know it. You know that those Russian domestic questions were in fact settled by Russians. Now you propose to settle the next question with foreign soldiers. You propose to destroy the Russian revolution with Japanese. Your days are numbered."
So spoke the revolution at that hour. The counter-revolution spoke with equal vehemence, with equal cruelty. The White Terror of the anti-Bolsheviks on the Volga was the full equivalent of the Red Terror at Moscow and at Petrograd. But the Red Terror was the stronger. It had behind it now not only the sentiment of the proletarian revolution, but increasingly the sentiment of outright old-fashioned Russian nationalism.
It sent the anti-Bolshevik leaders to their graves and it drove anti-Bolshevik leaders into silence and into hiding. More than ever the Bolshevik party was the only Russian party left standing. More than ever the Bolsheviks had their own way, and worked their own will, in Russia.
Then came the second stage of this political strengthening of Bolshevism. Anti-Bolshevik leaders, surviving, began to come out of their hiding and began actually to join themselves to the Bolsheviks. To-day Chernov himself is reported, and denounced, by the Kolchak press in America as being an officeholder in the Bolshevik government. The denunciation is natural. The event which wrings it out is crushing. When Chernov goes over to the Soviet, the Soviet has received the chief personal embodiment of all democratic anti-Sovietism.
Chernov was the president of the All-Russian Constituent Assembly, which Lenin dispersed. The Constituent Assembly was the alternative to the Soviet. At the peak of the Soviet stood Lenin. At the peak of the Constituent Assembly stood Chernov. Now Chernov and Lenin stand together, within the Soviet, against the foreigner.
What have we done to Lenin? We have manufactured Lenin the Internationalist into Lenin the great Russian patriot. Also we have manufactured him into a great war lord.
On the first of May in 1918, at Moscow, Robins saw the first general official public parade of the new Russian Red Army. It happened on Hodinka field. There the Czar---each successive Czar in the whole long line of Romanovs---used to cause vodka to flow in free streams for his people on the day of his coronation, and, having thus illustrated a drunken Russia, used to illustrate a tamed Russia by concluding the celebration with a parade of the Cossack Guard. On May-day of 1918 the parade was of the Guard of the Red revolution.
On that day, for the first time, this revolutionary guard wore its revolutionary symbol---the symbol now displayed on so many widely extended and widely separated fronts---the button with the plow, the hammer, and the sword crossed on it, the triple mark of the republic of peasant, workman, and soldier.
Trotzky came to review the parade. He was now Minister of War. It was an earnest parade. But it was not terrifying. A few regiments of Socialist soldiers, most of them better Socialists than soldiers, straggled across a field in poor equipment and in poor training under the inspecting eye of a little pacifist Jew.
We destined that little pacifist Jew to become the organizer of an army of one million fighting---and really fighting---men. From every front in Russia the word comes back to the Allies, all the time, that the local population is more Bolshevik than before and that the national Red Army is better than before.
An Allied observer on the Denikin front last winter was obliged even then to note the development of the Red Army. He reported:
There are four hundred and thirty thousand Red bayonets against Denikin on this front. "The fighting value of the Reds improves every day." Cowards and mutineers in the Red Army are now executed. The undisciplined mob of a few months back "is now taking the form of a real military force as the result of measures which have been well thought out and energetically put into operation."
What has intervention done? What has capitalism, through intervention, done? It has taught Socialism the art of war. It has provided Socialism with a large and a good army.
Even if we get to Moscow now, and kill Lenin, Lenin is not killed. By pressure we have transfused his spirit into local populations more Bolshevik than before and into hundreds of thousands of trained fighting men who will keep in their pockets a little button with a plow, a hammer, and a sword on it, and bring it out again and pin it on again the very moment our backs are turned.
That is our political and military contribution to Bolshevism by intervention. Next comes our propagandist contribution.
Bolshevik Russia, left alone, was a loud enough proclaimer of Bolshevism. But Bolshevik Russia, blockaded, starved, attacked by Finns and Poles and Serbs and Czecho-Slovaks and French and Italians and British and Americans and Senegalese, cries Bolshevism now with a doubled voice. It cries it as Bolshevism, as a special philosophy. And it cries it as new, plain, general appeal to every working-class in the world to rally to the rescue of the world's only working-class government, beset by all the world's capitalism.
It does not cry in vain. In Italy, in France, in Britain, it gets a strong response. And how worded? How worded even in Britain? Worded in threats of strikes which defy the most precious gains of British democratic political development and which say in effect to Britain's rulers:
"Here begins, if you want it, the tolling of the passing bell of constitutional government in the land which gave it its birth. Here begins the new government of political dictatorship by industrial force. We have never before struck for a political purpose. We strike for a political purpose now. We will coerce you. We are a minority, but we are masters of the strategic points in England's industrial life, and we are organized. The mass of the electorate is unorganized and purposeless. We have made ourselves into a conscious group with purpose and knowledge. You may fool the mass. You cannot fool us. We know what you are doing, and we will stop you. If you use force against the international working-class in Russia, we will use force against you here. We will blockade the whole British bourgeoisie with a strike, and in one month you will do what we tell you to do; because in one month the unorganized and purposeless mass of the electorate would rather take us as rulers and get bread and coal than keep you as rulers and starve and freeze. So you will yield, before the month is out; and we warn you now. If you continue the class war of coercion against our class in Russia, we will institute the class war of coercion against your class in Britain; and never forget, my lords and gentlemen, that this is the country which, besides producing Mr. Balfour, also produced Oliver Cromwell, who was as good at dispersing parliaments as Lenin can ever hope to be; and we now introduce to you Mr. Robert Smillie, of the miners' Union, whose army of pitmen is as zealous as Cromwell's army of saints and quite as able to give the House of Commons a purge. Do you want it? Do you want another Lord Protector? Do you want another dictatorship, by a new commonalty? We have it to give you. And now that you have got us to thinking about it, perhaps we will give it to you anyway. Your Russian policy proves you to be the incorrigible enemy of the working-class everywhere. The class war which you have declared on the banks of the Don, and the method of it, we accept on the banks of the Thames; and we will revise the Constitution of England by blockades of docks, blockades of mines, blockades of railways, famine, cold, suffering, compulsion."
Such is the hideous spirit raised to new power in England, as in France and Italy, by intervention in Russia. A year ago in England Mr. Arthur Henderson was a greater leader of British Labor than Mr. Smillie. He was, and is, more conservative. He was more influential. To-day, in the contest between Mr. Henderson and Mr. Smillie---between the idea of action through majority-rule and the idea of action through strike-force---Mr. Smillie, by a decision of the British Labor Party, is victor. The decision was made on a test case; and the test case was the action for stopping of intervention in Russia.
Intervention, every additional day of it, every additional day of blockaded suffering for millions of innocent Russian women and children, gives new power, artificially, to the exponent of strike-force and of government by compulsion in Allied countries. The deeper the Allies go into Russia, the deeper they go into the class war at home. And the deeper they go into the class war at home, in western Europe, the closer they press it into the United States.
These results, in Russia and out of Russia, were predictable and predicted. To see that they were bound to come, one needed only to see one thing: that the Russian bomb was a bomb with a social system in it and a social challenge thought out, worked out, and Marxian.
On Easter day of 1918, in Moscow, when Robins got his Russian newspapers, he noticed two different greetings of the day in them. In certain newspapers the old line still ran, with which all Russian newspapers during the old regime used to announce Easter day to their readers-the sacred line: "Christ is Risen." But in the newspapers of the Soviet revolution there was a new line. It replaced the line "Christ is Risen." It announced instead: "One Hundred Years Ago To-day Karl Marx was Born."
Reading it, Robins thought of Count Mirbach, German ambassador at Moscow. He thought of him sitting in his car, at the recent May-day parade in Moscow, and watching those German war prisoners who brushed by him with the banner calling "German comrades, overthrow your Kaiser as the Russian comrades have overthrown their Czar." He thought of him, he saw him again, replying to that banner with a face visibly promising soldiers, regiments, armies, force, hate, to tame these revolted slaves. The Easter-day greeting of the Soviet newspapers, thought Robins, said something to Mirbach. To Mirbach and to all persons like him, of all nationalities, German or French or British or American, it said:
"You want force? You want war? Well, you shall have it. We will give you more of it than you ever thought could be. We will give you the war of Karl Marx. We will give you the war of household against household, of citizen against citizen, of one tier of people against another tier of people, everywhere, day and night. You will be violent? Of course. That is just what we said. It is our own philosophy. We have always said, we Bolsheviks, that you would never stir an inch from your meal of power and privilege and plunder except by violence. You want those terms. Have them. They are our terms. We are ready. We have trained ourselves to all the forms of force you know and to many you do not know---force in industry, force in the dark, force far down and hidden. You sit on the roof of the world, making merry, with all the Philistines. But Samson is beneath you now. He has ground for you and sweated for you. But now he puts his arms about the pillars of the house; and he cracks the pillars; and if he pulls the whole house down and wrecks it, he will not care. You have hardened him to hardships. He will not care. He will go on and struggle with you in the world's ruins. And he will win. He outnumbers you. He outnumbers the people who have enough property to be willing to lay down their lives for it. He is multitudinously stronger than you. And now he knows his strength. You insist on force? You are lost. Samson is upon you, and his hair is grown now, and his strength is revealed to him now, and he has the self-knowledge and the self-confidence now to do you to death. One Hundred Years Ago To-day Karl Marx was Born."
So spoke the Bolshevik Easter day to men like Mirbach; but it also spoke, and said something, to men like Robins. It said something to men of religion.
Robins was elected minister of St. Bernard's congregation at Nome in Alaska when he was a miner. He is not an ordained minister. He might be said to be a minister by initiative and referendum. Having been elected at Nome, he has more or less continued to hold office at large. For many years now he has divided his time equally between industrial work, political work, and religious work. When he saw "Christ is Risen" replaced by "Karl Marx was Born" he was challenged personally. His reply rose in his mind in thoughts which carried him back to things he had seen in his own country as well as to things he had seen in Russia.
"These Bolsheviks," he said to himself, "are right in a way. They are saying to people like me:
"'See here. You have put in a lot of time in pulpits and on platforms, professing to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ saving the world. Now make good. Show us Jesus Christ risen in your mills and in your banks and by the lathes in your machine-shops and by the tickers in your promoters' offices. Show Him to us risen there, or quit.'
"It is a natural challenge. It is a challenge--- human and understandable. And I have to say, I have to admit, that I do not see Jesus Christ risen in the world's workplaces, except in faintest outline. I think, indeed, that many barbarities of pagan working life---slaves crucified, great estates cultivated by prisoners in chains, babies of the poor exposed to die-have been removed from among us by the presence of a religion teaching the equality of men and teaching mercy. But I admit that the industrial process itself is not Christianized. I admit that Jesus Christ is not present in the chart-room of a capitalism of world-wide profiteering, of world-wide excess wealth taken from consumer and from worker, and of world-wide subjugation of foreign markets among feeble peoples by force.
"I admit further that Karl Marx was born.
"But after those admissions, and because of those admissions, I more than ever say, knowing that only saying it and wanting it and believing it in the world of faith can bring it to pass in the world of sight, 'Christ is risen.'
"For what is Karl Marx? Karl Marx is the naturally and truly begotten son of an un-Christianized capitalism.
"What made Bolshevism in Russia? When you strip cause from cause and layer from layer in the foundation of Bolshevism in Russia, and get to rock-bottom, you will find: Bolshevism in Russia was made by the social failure of the Russian Church.
"In the stormiest hours of the Russian revolution, when moral leadership was needed to keep society from social moral wreck, I heard great assemblies of the Russian Church debating rituals, and debating ecclesiastical titles to excessive ecclesiastical accumulations of land, and sending out not one message of guidance to the Russian people in search of daily justice between man and man.
"The Russian Church then remained, during the revolution, as before the revolution, a class church. It had no message to the state, except in confirmation and sanctification of autocracy. It had no message to industry except in repetition of the debasing and enslaving doctrine, loved by every profiteer and sweat-shopper, that all wrong and all hardship in this present world may be borne patiently in the light of God's redress to come hereafter. It was a class church, and it made Jesus Christ the symbol of a class rule of rich against poor, in hate and blood; and on every Easter day the newspapers which had just spent another twelve months keeping the nobleman on the back of the peasant with Cossack whip and the Gentile on the back of the Jew with public mob, newspapers of the knout and the pogrom, would most especially as the organs of Holy Russia, cry: 'Christ is risen.' They erased Christ in fact. They left a blank page for the Bolsheviks to write on. The Bolsheviks wrote.
"A class industry and class state, made in the image of a class church, will produce Bolshevism anywhere. It will produce a revolt against existing religion along with a revolt against the existing state and against existing industry. Bolshevism is loss of faith in progress by Christian means. It is loss of faith in progress by co-operation between classes, by sympathy between man and man, by sacrifice of interest to service, by the bearing of one another's burdens. Bolshevism is the declaration that every class must bear its own burden and must fight its own fight and will never get any quarter and must give no quarter.
"The Christian religion, the religion of the doctrine of the atonement, the religion of the doctrine of vicarious suffering and of reconciliation by sacrifice and service, is the precise opposite of that declaration. But it cannot prevent that declaration unless the spirit of its doctrine is accepted by the industrial process which produces that declaration.
"It is for the church to show the doctrine, with its social, practical meaning. Industry must make the decision of acceptance or rejection. The parting of the ways is lighted now as it was never lighted before. It is lighted by the fires of Russia. The sign-post seems to me to say with the greatest clearness:
"'Either the spirit of Jesus Christ regenerating the present system, or the spirit of Karl Marx creating a new system. Either a capitalism turned from profiteering and sweating to sacrifice and service and voluntary co-operation, or socialism introduced by class war and class coercion.'
"I do not see how the choice can be avoided. 'Karl Marx was born.' 'Christ is risen.' It is a day as the day of St. Paul when he said, 'How can ye escape so great a salvation?' and added, 'Ye cannot escape.'
"The choice must be made. And if we wish to check the doctrine of force, and if we wish to develop and to secure an industrial system of free personality in leadership and of co-operation in freedom and of the virtues of free self-controlling, self-giving men, surely, with a sureness unquestionable, the choice must be, 'Christ is risen.'"
In any case, the Allied effort to check the doctrine of Bolshevism and to check the Soviet republic by methods devoid of Christianity and devoid of healing grace and full only of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth cannot be said to have brought us anything but woe and danger for ourselves at our own firesides and in our own social order. I ended by asking Robins what policy, in his judgment, should supersede the policy of intervention in the future.
He replies that in his judgment the American policy toward the Soviet republic in the future should simply be what it actually originally was when it was American and before it was Europeanized by pressure from London and Paris. One of the strongest arguments ever made against intervention in Russia is in a communication proceeding from our State Department and bearing the imprint of the President's own English style, put there either by himself or by a faithful official copyist.
This argument rests itself on a sound, simple, native American perception of the truth that we did not enjoy the effort of British statesmen in the 'sixties of the last century to intervene in humanity's name in our American Civil War, and that other races and peoples also like to keep their civil wars to themselves. It is an argument, crediting Russians with human instincts. It went to Russia by cable, as a copy of a note to Japan, previously communicated to representatives of Britain, France, and Italy. It did not fall within the category of notes entitled, by the unwritten canons of open diplomacy, to be published. But it deserved publication. It was an able document. It assumed that of course the Japanese would give assurances of their excellent intentions in Siberia, but it remembered that the Germans had given assurances of their excellent intentions in the Ukraine, and it said:
It [the American government] is bound in frankness to say that the wisdom of intervention seems to it most questionable. If it were undertaken, emphasizing the assumption that the most explicit assurances would be given that it was undertaken by Japan as an ally of Russia in Russia's interest ... the Central Powers could and would make it appear that Japan was doing in the East precisely what Germany is doing in the West and so seek to counter the condemnation which all the world must pronounce against Germany's invasion of Russia, which she attempts to justify on the pretext of restoring order; and it is the judgment of the United States . . . that a hot resentment would be generated in Russia, and particularly among the friends of the Russian revolution, for which the Government of the United States entertains the greatest sympathy in spite of the unhappiness and misery which has for the time being sprung out of it.
This judgment was delivered in March of 1918, four months after the Bolsheviks came into power. Mental italics should be placed under the passage "could and would make it appear that Japan was doing in the East precisely what Germany is doing in the West" and under the passage "a hot resentment would be generated." It has, indeed, been made to appear, and a hot resentment has, indeed, been generated, and large numbers of Russians have refused to accept our "pretext" that we are in Russia to restore "order," and new Bolsheviks have risen out of every village on every front to fight us, and American soldiers have died, and they have died in vain, and Mr. Wilson foresaw it.
Why not foresee it some more, before some more Americans die in vain? Why not foresee it some more, on behalf of Britons and Frenchmen as well as on behalf of Americans? We have been comrades to the British and the French. We are deeply in their debt, as they in ours. We do not want, and we ought not to want, to act without full previous consultation with them in Russia. But we have followed their policy there for some time. Will they not agree to join us in following an American policy there for a while? At any rate, will they not agree to give us a free hand to follow that policy ourselves in fall friendship for them and in full participation by them in the benefits we hope it may yield? It would be:
Lift the blockade on Russia. Refuse, that is, to support the Allied blockade. Readmit the Russian population to the world. Readmit them to it in so far as American ships and American supplies are concerned. Equip the Russian population with the materials necessary for the re-establishment among them of a going economic life. They have always depended on imports for certain materials. They have never themselves manufactured them in sufficient quantity. Sell them such materials now. Sell them rails and locomotives and other transportation materials in order that they may be able to bring food from places of abundance in Russia to places of hunger. Stop the hunger. If we are serious in wanting to convert the Russians from Bolshevism and in wanting to make them see the superiority of Western democracy, stop the hunger. Can anybody really think that a Russian boy who has watched his mother pale and sicken with the hunger put upon her by Mr. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Wilson will grow up full of a passion of admiration for Western democracy? Do we, want to convert the Russian people? Or do we want only to torture them? Lift the blockade.
Next, go back to Mr. Wilson's own project, put on the ways by his administration last year and almost launched, for missions to Russia charged with the truly missionary work of establishing human helpful relations between the new order in Russia and the American republic-relations in which Americanism, industrial Americanism, personal Americanism, could genuinely and continuously spread itself into the Russian mind and so come to some actual chance of doing a little practical American propaganda on behalf of the American system in Russia's stupendous future.
Is it possible that Bolsheviks are missionaries and we are not? Is it possible that Bolshevism is a religion and Americanism is not? Is it possible that agents from Moscow can dare to adventure themselves in our cities and can convert our people, and that we do not dare to adventure ourselves in their cities and cannot convert their people? Is their cause so good and they so brave and our cause so poor and we so weak? In the name of the country which George Washington did not found on quicksand and in the name of the institutions which Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson did not organize and animate to be blown over by a wind from Moscow, let us shake ourselves free from this nightmare of propagandized cowardice. Argument for argument, and steel rail for steel rail, in politics and in economics, let us hope that we talk and run with Soviet Russians in an open race and still show them some dust.
They are perfectly willing to let us come and talk and prove. The unadventurous fact is that the life of a member of an American or Allied mission in Russia is just as safe there---as it could possibly anywhere be. Major Allen Wardwell could offer pertinent testimony on that point.
Major Wardwell was a member of the American Red Cross Mission in Russia. Like Major Thacher, he is in private life a New York lawyer. In the American Red Cross Mission in Russia he was Chief of Transportation. He became head of the mission, by Robins' selection, when Robins returned to America. Major Wardwell stayed in Russia all through the summer of 1918 and on into the fall. He saw the first great outburst of the Mass Terror. He lived in Russia in its days of greatest personal peril. But he differed from certain other representatives of foreign governments in Russia. He took no part in plots for the blowing up of railway bridges to interrupt the supplies of the Soviet government. He took no part in plots for the bribing of Soviet army officers to upset the military organization of the Soviet government. He remained neutral in the Russian civil war. Remaining neutral, he remained in perfect security. He stayed till October, seeing Russia at its reddest, attending to his own American Mission business, in full protection by the Soviet government; and then he came out in full liberty, unmolested and unhindered.
The Soviet Russians are altogether willing to listen to Americans (or to Englishmen or Frenchmen or Italians) who can keep their fingers out of Russian fights. From such Americans our American missions to Russia should be recruited.
These missions should be, above all, commercial and industrial and financial. Naturally, they should be also educational. There would seem to be little doubt that the Soviet government would be glad to receive lecturers from our universities, just as it is glad to receive journalists from our newspapers. Soviet Russia is wide open to inquiry. It welcomes, it requests, inquiry. It does not want inquirers who plot, but it offers a free field to inquirers who will inquire and come to conclusions, friendly or hostile, and go to the lecture platform and the printing-press with them.
Soviet Russia is not afraid of an interchange of views with us. If we have confidence in our ideas-and only a renegade American can fail to have confidence in them---let us export a few of them to the place where they are most needed and where they will do us the most good. Our intellectual Benedict Arnolds, who despair of the intellectual validity of the American cause and who yell for a policeman every time they see a Bolshevik argument headed for them, can be profitably left at home. Genuine Americans, with confidence in Americanism, could profitably be sent to Russia, carrying with them the appealing treasures---are they appealing or are they not?---of American history, American thought, American purpose. They will experience no difficulty at all in presenting their ideas to Russian circles.
But, since Bolshevism is essentially an economic system, our missions to Russia should be primarily economic. They should devote themselves especially to the establishment of methods of trade with the new Russian order. A year of trade will do more to harmonize Bolshevism with the rest of the world, and with the safety of the rest of the world, than a generation of invective and invasion.
This trade is eminently possible, besides promising to be eminently, profitable. The Bolsheviks, instead of wishing to shoot every foreign trader at the frontier, have over and over again requested us to enter into economic relations with them, provided only that those relations are not used as a cover for political intrigue. Russia, wide open to the influence of intellectual inquiry by us, is also wide open to the influence of our trading system. Could any intellectual and economic enemy offer us a fairer field of competition and combat?
In this matter of trade the Bolsheviks begin by offering to pay the Czar's public foreign debt. Their declaration regarding the payment of the debt was suppressed widely in the Allied and Associated press. But it was perfectly explicit. It offered peace and payment.
Next, the Bolsheviks offer "concessions" ---regular "concessions"---"concessions" to private capital for the development of Russia's enormous undeveloped natural resources on terms of profit to private capital. Already the arrangements are proceeding to completion for the "concession" through which the new great railway in Northern Russia will be built. The capital there interested seems to be---in part, at least---Scandinavian. Scandinavian capital, Dutch capital, German capital cannot possibly be prevented by any thickness of blockade or by any heaviness of peace terms from transferring itself into Russian development---which means into the development of the world's most extensive untouched wealth of forest and mine.
The Bolshevik policy of granting "concessions " is thoroughly known, and has long been known, to the Allied and Associated governments.
If they choose now to block their own capitalists from Russia and choose to surrender the rapidly passing Russian opportunity to neutral and German capitalists, the responsibility is with them and not with the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks have offered to the Allied and Associated governments everything that they are now offering to others. They have offered it by messenger and they have offered it by wireless. To call them pro-German now for giving to Berlin the Russian economic leadership which they have already personally and publicly offered to Paris will be, of course, only one more logical step in the diplomacy which refused the Bolshevik offer of the Black Sea Fleet and then had the triumphant verbal satisfaction of calling the Bolsheviks pro-German because the Germans got it. It will be only one more logical step; but it will be the step which loses the strategic economic battle of the war---the battle for the economic development of eastern Europe.
Our American missions to Russia should be the symbols of a total abandonment of that kind of diplomacy, and they should be the agents of the preparation of the channels by which not only American products, but American investments, can flow into Russia. If anything is more influential than trading, it is investing. The Bolsheviks ask us to invest. We invest in Mexico, where some of us get murdered. None of us get murdered in Russia unless we go there in arms. A Soviet Russia, able and willing to give us physical safety, offers to give us a welcome for our agents of knowledge, for our agents of commerce, for our agents of invested capital, carrying American ways of thinking and ways of doing into immediate contact with Russian life.
Robins simply says:
Accept that offer. Lift the blockade and send American influence by every possible channel into every possible part of Russian life, central and local. Reciprocally admit to this country, and protect while here, the agents of Soviet buying-and-selling organizations. If any American representative in Russia mixes himself into Russian internal politics let him be deported, after proper punishment in Russia. If any Russian representative in America mixes himself into American internal politics let him be deported, after proper punishment in America. Let us put a firm stop to intrigues on both sides, and let us get down to the open human manly competition by which alone the quarrel between our two systems can ever be conclusively decided.
Can the Soviet Producers' Republic produce cattle and produce hides and produce locomotives and produce ships and carry the hides to market better than we can? Can it produce shoes and carry them to market better than we can? Can it, as it goes on, show a Russia more serviceable to human happiness and to human dignity in work and play than America? At the present time the Bolsheviks can say that they are not being allowed to show what their system can do. It has been compelled by us to spend its time resisting invasion rather than organizing production. If now we extinguish it in blood, its adherents in Russia and its sympathizers in all countries outside Russia will be able to say, and will emphatically and continuously say:
"If Lenin had only been allowed to work his idea out into practice there would now be no poverty in the world and no misery. Look at the poverty we have now! Look at the misery! Down with it! And out of Lenin's grave, up with Lenin's idea again!"
This bomb cannot really be extinguished in blood, either now or at any other time. It can be extinguished only in the free air of fair controversy and of fair, practical proof. If the Soviet Producers' Republic can outcompete the American system in the economic world, it deserves to win. If it gets outcompeted by us, it will be inexorably obliged to modify itself and remake itself on our model. In the competition of intercourse the American Republic, the American system, has the field in which by merit it can demonstrably and conclusively win and make the Soviet system demonstrably and conclusively lose.
The choice is between intervention and intercourse. To anybody who believes that capital has a function in the world as well as labor; to anybody who believes that a free capitalistic order is possible and that it is better for human beings than a proletarian dictatorship; to anybody who does not want to see the whole world slide down the slope of an accelerating class war into an inevitable universal proletarian dictatorship---Robins would say:
"The Russian choice is the choice. As you choose in Russia, so goes the world. You have seen intervention. Climb back up the slope. Climb with your finger-nails. Climb with your teeth. But get back to the air. Fight Bolshevism where you can fight it. Fight it where humanity and Christianity can be with you. Fight it to a finish where the finish can leave you standing, standing in honor and standing in success. Choose the policy in which a free economic system can prove itself free and keep the world free. Choose intercourse with Russia."
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