Lifting the veil

We think that very few students of the Russian Revolution are now under any illusions as to the situation in Russia. The Bolsheviks and their supporters at home and abroad raised a smoke screen so dense that for some time it was almost impossible to get any really reliable news of happenings in that country; but the drastic change in the economic policy of the Bolsheviks, and the necessity of explaining the reason for the change, have thrown a flood of light on the situation. We can now see that the phrases “Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” “Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic,” and “Soviet Republic” had no real meaning in fact. It was a Dictatorship of the Communist Party, pure and simple. The workers and peasants had no more influence on the Bolshevik Government than they have on the Government in any other country. They may have voted for the Communists, but that is explained by the fact that the Communist Party controlled the few papers in existence and thereby controlled the political education of the people; the principal reason, however, was that owing to the persecution of political opponents, very few dared to stand against members of the Communist Party. The compulsory labour in industry, the compulsory service in the army, and the compulsory food levies from the peasants are sufficient proof that the support of the workers and peasants was obtained by force.

Speaking in October, 1921 (a speech printed verbatim in the Labour Monthly of December last), Lenin admitted that compulsion had failed and that the peasants had inflicted a severe defeat on him and his party; consequently they had been compelled to alter their economic policy, which is now full steam ahead for State Capitalism. Side by side with this goes private Capitalism - free trade in the peasants’ surplus, concessions to foreign capitalists, and leases to private capitalists - and Lenin says the struggle of the future will be between State Capitalism and private Capitalism, a struggle that “will be even more desperate and bitter than the struggle with Koltchak or Denikin.” And in our opinion the workers will be used as pawns by both sides as mercilessly as they were used in the war, with no relief from their slavery whatever the result of the struggle may be. Thus is closed another chapter in the Russian workers’ struggle for freedom.

The most extraordinary feature of this great change in the situation in Russia is the way in which it is practically ignored by the Communist press. Their readers know nothing about it. To them Russia is still the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic” formed in the autumn of 1917. From the very first they have painted a picture of an incorruptible and self-sacrificing Communist Party leading the way in the world-revolution. Now Lenin says that the Communist Party is full of bribe-takers and other hangers-on, and that probably 200,000 (a third of its membership) will be driven out of the party. But you may look in vain in the Communist papers for items like that. Again, the activities of the so-called Extraordinary Commission (the “Tche-ka” [Cheka]) and its persecution of political opponents are never alluded to by these papers. Last month copies of FREEDOM, with the article ” Bolsheviks Shooting Anarchists” specially marked, were sent to nearly every Labour, Socialist, and Communist paper, besides the leading capitalist dailies and weeklies ; but with the exception of the Worker (Huddersfield) and the Morning Post we have seen no reference to the article.

In this issue we are publishing further news on Russia, and hope to continue to do so. We must trust to our readers to spread FREEDOM as broadcast as possible, so that the workers may know what the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” really means in practice.

From: Freedom (London) February 1922.