Hewlett Johnson 1943
First published: Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1943;
Source: pamphlet published by Current Books Distributors printing, 14 Rawson Chambers, Sydney, 1943;
Transcribed: Steve Painter.
1943 is the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Marx. This series of booklets is a tribute to his memory by British Marxists. The series does not aim at a complete exposition of Marxism. There will be a time for that. Now, in 1943, in the crisis of the world struggle against Fascism, something less comprehensive and more actual was alone possible and appropriate. Alone possible, because some of our most distinguished Marxists are too busy with the war to be free to write. Alone appropriate, because none of us would wish to write without an urgent sense of the claims of the moment. We would celebrate the memory of Marx as his memory should now be celebrated. He is the master spirit whose words enable mankind to find its path in the present turning point of history, which he foresaw and taught us to understand.
United in their conviction of the importance of Marxist thought for the present crisis, certain British Marxists, chosen for their ability to represent different aspects of the life and thought of Britain, have written this series of essays. They deal with such topics as Marxism and the freedom of the individual, Marxism and education, dialectical materialism and science, the materialist conception of history, Marxism and modern art, Marxism and modern economics.
In attempting their several tasks the writers have two considerations always present in their minds. The first, little understood in Britain, and often explicitly denied, is that the achievement of socialism in the USSR and the steady progress towards Communism are a product of Marxist theory and the truest test of it so far. The second is that the destiny of the whole of mankind is at stake in the present struggle. The USSR shows how the lives of two hundred millions of backward people have been transformed by Marxism in twenty-five years. The lives of two thousand millions await transformation. The vast majority of mankind is still as dirty, diseased, hungry, neglected and ignorant as the majority of the inhabitants of the Czarist empire were in 1917. Marxism is a system of thought specifically directed towards the solution of this problem. In these essays British Marxists write what they believe will help us to go forward together with our Soviet allies to victory over Fascism and a general advance in human freedom and happiness.
Professor Benjamin Farrington, MA, 1943
THE USSR marks a new departure in world history. A new civilisation dawns in the East, shaping itself with accelerating speed. The impact of war dramatically reveals the achievement and the pace. For war provides the ultimate test. And a country that fashions from scratch a wholly new order of society in a score of years and can meet single-handed the onslaught of Germany and all her allies, with the industrial backing of all the enslaved factories of Europe; can meet it and after eighteen months of heroic resistance thrust it back with hammer blows, commands the attention and compels the admiration of all the world.
The Soviet Union, which has achieved this miracle, is a state consciously and objectively modelled upon Marxian principles and ideas. The Soviet state is the realisation of the society envisaged by Marx. In the throbbing vivid life of a union embracing a sixth of the earth – and no longer in the unemotional pages of a treatise on library shelves – the practice of Marxism offers itself to the world for judgment. The purposeful activity of a union of 193 million souls stands today as the authoritative textbook for the study and estimation of Karl Marx, his analysis and his program.
What, then, is the essence of those Marxian ideas, and what in practice is the shape of the society they have produced? First and foremost Marx postulated an orderly and rational organisation of society based upon the highest moral motives, chief among which is the principal of political and economic equality, the welfare of the individual being assured and augmented by and in the welfare of the whole society.
Underlying the passionate and practical regard for the welfare of the individual – which is indeed fundamental – there thus stands the conception of the role of society as the key to unlock the door to the needs and desires of the individual. Rightly is Marxism described as scientific socialism, for, based upon a careful and penetrating analysis of the past, it seeks a scientific and orderly development of society with due regard for each individual of which it is composed. Such a society must of necessity rule our exploitation of man by man. Each individual in a socialist, Marxian, society must be regarded with respect, as an end and not an instrument and be afforded the opportunity for full development of every latent capacity, both for his own sake and in the interest of the society of which he forms a part and which shapes the lives of others. The needs of each as to food, clothing, medical aid, education, and cultural services generally from birth to death, must be met and regimentation eschewed.
Scientific socialism knows no barriers of sex or race: each individual of both sexes, of every race, and every racial group, receives equal care and equal chance of development within the framework of scientific socialism. Western culture will realise its immense possibilities when the latent power of the masses is released.
How far, we may now ask, have these Marxian ideas and principles been reflected in the action of the Soviet Union? It would be foolish to expect that Utopia had been reached in Russia, and wholly untrue to assert that the Soviet peoples have become angels in a night. Travellers discern a hundred flaws in Soviet life and unmask a hundred flaws in Soviet character. But when all that can be said is said, the astounding achievements of the Red Army, and of the industrial activity and educational standards upon which it is based, so stagger the imagination, and have launched society so far beyond any previous experiment in human living attempted in any previous age by any great community of men, that they command, and are certainly receiving, worldwide notice.
With admirable persistency the Soviet state has used the Marxian blueprint for concrete realisation of a new order. The fundamental ideas of Marx and Engels, interpreted for the Russian situation by their own great thinker and leader, Lenin, are the heart and inspiration of the Soviet Union. With those ideas the Soviet Union began its task: with those ideas it continues. For it is the great merit of Stalin that he was able and willing to devote all his genius and all his energies to the task of interpreting and executing the ideas and plans of his great leader Lenin, having the happy fortune to guide the development of Marxian theory in the years of constructive work and adding his own specific contributions in his epoch-making work on national minorities.
Thus it is possible to see in the Soviet Union, as in no other grouping of nations and races, a community basing itself on clearly thought-out concepts.
Quite contrary to commonly accepted ideas it was an intensely humane and tenderly sympathetic spirit that gave birth to Marxism. The widespread impression that there is something remote, cold, and inhuman about the persons and theories of Marx and Engels, and something crippling, regimenting and enslaving about the order of society they sought – that capitalism, with its play on the words individual, individualistic, laissez-faire, revealed a warmth and a human understanding which these others lacked – is wholly false and utterly belied by the Russian society based on Marxian principles. The precise opposite is indeed the truth. The activities of Marx and Engels sprang from a consuming compassion aroused by the trail of horror that marked the course of capitalism; it issued in a widespread amelioration of human suffering.
Every stage in the life of Karl Marx illustrates the truth of this. The struggles within and without, the torn wrestling spirit of his youth flinging him at length into championship of the weak and oppressed and urging him on to an acute analysis of human society and to an enunciation of laws as fundamental in the sociological sphere as those of Charles Darwin in the biological sphere, make the biography of Karl Marx the appropriate commentary on his achievements. Few men suffered more.
Born in a cultured home, Karl passionately loved his father, a man of singular understanding. The letters that passed between the impetuous, brilliant boy and the grave, philosophically minded lawyer reveal a confidence between father and son as beautiful as rare. To his father Karl confides his secret love for Jenny von Westphalen, a descendant of the Dukes of Argyle, high-born, and four years his senior, whom at length he marries.
It was said of Marx that he had three saints whom he worshipped, his father, his mother and his wife: his love for his wife burned as fiercely in old age as in the days of his passionate youth. His daughter speaks of the moment when, her mother lying in one room in the final tortures of cancer, her father, just recovered from pleurisy and his own death approaching, entered his wife’s room once more. “Never,” she says, “can I forget that morning ... They were young once more together – she a loving girl and he an adoring youth, who together entered upon life – not an old man wrecked with sickness and a dying old woman who took leave of each other.”
Expelled from Prussia, Marx fled with his wife and children to Paris, pawning the Argyle-crested silver and selling the family furniture to pay debts of honour in connection with the journal he controlled. From Paris he went to London. The family suffered bitter poverty. A letter written afterwards by Jenny Marx to her friend, Mrs Weydemeyer, describes a single day of their life:
The keeping of a wet nurse for my babies was out of the question, so I resolved to nurse the child myself, in spite of constant terrible pains ... But the poor little angel drank so much silent worry from me that he was sickly from the first day of his life, lying in pain day and night ... Because we were not able to pay the rent at once, two constables stepped in and attached my small belongings, beds, linen, clothes and all, even the cradle of my poor baby and the toys of the two girls, who stood by crying bitterly. In two hours, they threatened they would take all and everything away. I was lying there on the bare hard floor with my freezing children and my sore breasts.
Marx moved to two small rooms in Dean Street, one used as sleeping room for the whole family, and the other serving as kitchen, living room and study, where much of Das Capital was written, with the children playing around.
Happily, Marx loved children. Wilhelm Liebknecht and others speak of that deep devotion for children, his own and others, which made the crowded room the less intolerable. In the same poor neighbourhood of Dean Street the children called him “Daddy Marx.” He loved to romp with children on Hampstead Heath. And nothing moved him so powerfully as the suffering of a child. Many times he told his friends that in the Christ of the New Testament he admired most his great love and kindness for little children.
A high sense of honour prevented Marx from taking even the small fee of five shillings for the lectures he was giving to workingmen: he would not take money from funds contributed by members often as poor as himself.
Can it then be said either of this man or of Engels, who was, as a boy, similarly moved by the state of the poor in Barmen; and, as a Manchester businessman, drew the most devastating picture of capitalistic poverty in that city, that they were cold, inhuman and doctrinaire, facing the misery of mankind with dreary academic theory? Certainly there was a profundity in Marx’s more important writings, and in the complexity of his analysis, which gave to his theories a superficial gloss of almost inhuman objectivity. But it was the cool objectivity of the scientist, who, working in the quiet seclusion of his laboratory, banishing all subjective feelings in order to obtain the perfect poise for his discoveries, may yet remain, when outside his laboratory, a warm human being anxious to devote his endeavours to man’s onward progress. So likewise even the most superficial examination of the ideas, the private life and the character of Marx unmistakably reveals a great and growing love, not merely for mankind in the mass and in the abstract, but for human life in its variety of individual forms.
Read Das Capital and note in particular the recital of the horrifying reports on child labour and other indictments of early capitalism with which it deals and you sense the scathing indignation aroused in this powerful mind at the spectacle of one set of human beings treating others with devastating cruelty.
Marx had many disciples, but none more akin in personal experience, human sympathy, massive intellect, or moral integrity than Vladimir Ilyich Lenin; both had been reared in serious and cultivated homes; both were devoted to learning and study; both were moved by compassion for the oppressed; both knew dire poverty, being pained by the suffering of their own womenfolk; both loved and understood the child and its needs.
The essential humanism of Lenin drew him naturally towards Marx and Engels. A misery akin to that which had awakened their compassion awoke his. The Marxian analysis of sociological causation appealed likewise to his scientific mind, while at the same time the Marxian belief in the power and possibilities of political action in speeding human progress appealed to his political realism.
Lenin’s father was an advanced educationalist, his mother a cultivated woman with a democratic outlook: Vladimir himself a lively boy, fond of physical sports and showing aptitude for study. His brother Alexander, through whom he learned of the appalling conditions in the newly established textile and metallurgical industries at that time springing up near St Petersburg, he passionately adored. The execution of the youthful Alexander by the Tsar, on account of his revolutionary tendencies, decided Vladimir’s choice of a career: he joined the revolutionary party himself and pursued the study of Marx. Expelled from the university on account of his opinions, he took his degree after two years instead of four by intensive study at home.
Going to St Petersburg when 23, Lenin added to his theoretical studies a practical examination of the conditions of the workers. His brilliant lectures antagonised the authorities and he fled to Switzerland. Arrested on his return, he was sent to Siberia, and was joined there by Krupskaya, who later became his wife.
In 1903 Lenin, heading the Bolshevik, or majority, section in the Social Democratic Congress in London, formed the new communist party, based on a real Marxian program, and destined in time to create the Soviet state. It was Lenin who first drew up the outlines of the socialist society and laid the foundations of planned economy and collectivisation in industry and agriculture. It was through Lenin that the Marxian dream was realised.
Lenin’s death in 1924 was brought on by overwork subsequent to the assassin’s bullet that he had received in 1918. He was and is revered throughout Russia. He is “Our Ilyich” to millions of Asiatics, where his name recurs in songs and ballads, woven by the people into their common speech, as his features were woven into carpets and tapestries. Lenin was lovable because he loved. He loved his family: his assassinated brother he loved with passionate devotion; he loved his wife and his wife’s mother. Like Karl Marx, Lenin’s attitude to sex was nobly moral. The sex relation, he urged, between man and woman was not merely physical: it was spiritual.
Lenin loved children as Marx had loved them. Shklovsky records that:
When passing my apartment on the way up, Vladimir Ilyich would look in one window, then another, and if he caught sight of any of the children, would put his fingers to his temples, to make them look like horns, make a funny face and rush into the house. The children would make a tremendous racket and dive under the sofa or table. Ilyich would chase them and the romp would continue till both were exhausted.
Tenderness, simplicity, sympathy; love for children, veneration for womanhood, with compassion for the difficulties of a woman’s life; passion for learning, knowledge, education and culture, together with an intense love for human life in general, all these have helped to mould the Marxian civilisation that now emerges in the Soviet Union. Professor Karpiasky writes of Lenin:
Among the human traits rarely encountered which put Vladimir Ilyich head and shoulders above other people were his extraordinary consideration, sympathy, tact, simplicity and modesty, not only in his attitude to comrades, whether of the Central Committee or rank-and-filers, but the people in general, whether celebrities or charwomen.
The spiritual quality of the man has left its mark on Soviet education, Soviet youth movements, Soviet womanhood, as well as on Soviet scientific development and Soviet economic planning.
For in his intellectual capacity also Lenin resembled Marx. Thorough in his grasp of fundamental sociological laws, as he had learned them from Engels and Marx, Lenin was no less aware than they of the need and possibilities of political action. He had learned from Marx that new methods of producing food, clothing and other essentials had caused fundamental changes in social life and relationships. When the new methods of industry had transformed the home scale of production into the factory scale, something of profound significance had happened. Factory production meant co-operation within the factory. That was new. It meant division of labour. That was new. It meant a vast human organised network clustered around the large-unit steam engine, as being more economical in fuel and labour than a multiplicity of engines. That too was new; and all these things were bound at length to eliminate the capitalism that had given them birth. For things co-operatively made and co-operatively operated should be co-operatively owned by those whose labours had produced and now maintain them.
That is logical and inevitable. But it needed genius to see it. And Marx and Engels had gone beyond the mere enunciation of the law; they had pointed out that the co-operative ownership which is at length inevitable, and which will bring untold benefits in its train, will come the more simply and smoothly, and distribute its benefits the more fairly and generously, if those, whose condition most needs it, themselves understand the process of which they form a part and consciously aim at the goal whither they unconsciously tend.
Marx had taught this truth not only in learned treatises, but also in the simplest language in his famous Communist Manifesto, written for the workers nearly a century ago.
Marx had also seen that by struggle alone would power and privilege pass from the few to the many. That was the outstanding lesson of history; Marx prophetically foreshadowed the impending revolution, which alone could end the class struggle. Marx knew that capitalism would fight. No privileged minority had ever relinquished its power without a struggle. The class war was inevitable. It was part of the nature of things. It was the way the world was made. A shifting of power was a necessary condition of human progress. The interests of men and morality demanded it. It would come, and struggle would come with it. So long as classes remain struggle is inevitable. Marx saw that, and enunciated the economic law which postulates it, as Charles Darwin had enunciated the law of survival of the fittest.
We must pause a moment here to clarify our ideas about this class struggle.
The class struggle is a fact, but a fact much misunderstood because it is not realised that both words are used in a technical sense. For class struggle is concerned primarily, not with social relationships, but with the means by which the wealth of the community is produced. In a class society, part of the community, by virtue of the ownership of the means of production, has control over the whole productive process and possesses corresponding privileges, together with the control of government. The other part of the community possesses nothing but a minimum of personal goods, the ability to work, and some hard-won political rights.
conflict of interest is inevitable. Sooner or later the dominant class will be actively opposed by the dominated class. This opposition will accord with justice, morality, efficiency and sense. When the dominated class gets strong enough it will seize the power of the state. The form of government will change: the tools that society employs will in the long run determine the nature of the state. In this way a slave society emerged from a primitive classless society; and feudal society from a slave society. The advent of industrial production and the development of trade and banking forced feudalism to yield to individualistic capitalism, which has now become monopoly capitalism on the one hand or socialism on the other.
It is the resistance of the dominant class to changes demanded alike by morality and efficiency that produces the conflict. The emerging class does not seek conflict. It seeks the right to emerge. So too whilst moral and religious men should not seek conflict, they should champion the right of the dominated class to emerge, and if that cannot be achieved without force, then force should resolutely be faced.
Let us be perfectly clear about this. Religious people in general acquiesce in force today, force to prevent Germany exercising dominance over us. They acquiesce although the cost should be reckoned in millions of lives. Can they then in logic complain when force of infinitely smaller magnitude has been used to gain the liberty and privilege of which Marx dreamed; and far greater liberty than that which Germany now seeks to destroy?
The class struggle, then, is a right struggle. It is morally right that those who create goods should share in their ownership. It is morally wrong that one set of men, and those few in number, should seize all the fruits of the machine over and above a bare subsistence wage granted to those who operate it. It is morally right that the workers should share to the full that extension of life and culture which the wealth-producing machine has made possible. It is morally wrong that a small possessing class should monopolise this life-giving wealth. Hence the right to emerge is a moral right. The struggle is right so long as classes and class privilege remain. It can be bloodless if the people understand sociological law; and it was in the interest of human life in its whole physical, cultural and spiritual advance that Marx and Engels sought to educate the people, and it was in the same interest that Lenin attempted through the education of Russian workers to face the colossal task of giving concrete expression to the theories and vision of Marx throughout the vast Russian domains. By his pre-eminent work in laying the foundations of the Russian revolution, whereby the productive machine passed into the hands of the workers as a whole, leading to the classless society, Marx and after him Lenin, helped to terminate a warfare that had torn society for 6000 years.
And now at last we turn to Russia as the concrete expression of Marxism. Russia today is strong. In the crucible of war the Soviet Union has stood the test. Marxism has succeeded in producing an army and industrial machine that survives an unparalleled conflict. She has done it in fifteen years; war, civil war, drought and famine had intervened; it was 1927 before Soviet industry had reached the Tsarist level. Not only the strength of the army but the magnitude of its equipment is the marvel of all. Starting from an immature industry and the agriculture of a wooden plough, Soviet Russia has built up an industrial system comparable to the world’s best, and a mechanised agriculture superior to all.
This industrial achievement has been deliberate. Marxist ideas demanded it, Marxist methods made it possible and Marxist morality gave it a spiritual force that modern capitalist industry has always lacked. For Marxist morality had asked concerning the industrial productive machine a fundamental question. We, to our lasting credit, created that machine. The Soviet Union, under the spell of Marx, and to her lasting credit, asked the profoundly simple and yet profoundly fundamental question: what is the industrial machine for? For what purpose should things be made?
To that question she gave a moral answer: we wish, the Marxian Soviet Union declared, to maximise production, to make it is big as possible, to increase to its utmost extent the pile of goods men need, in order to give to every man, woman and child, of every race and of both sexes, the maximum of well-being; to give to each the right to work, the right to adequate pay for work, the right to rest and leisure after work, the right to health and to the services that maintain health, the right to full security in sickness, in incapacity, and in old age: the right, in short, to live a complete, rich and cultured human life. Service to the whole was to be the mainspring of industry.
No answer could be more sane, more scientific, than this: none more in line with Christian morality. And it is this moral drive, together with a whole-hearted enlistment of science in achieving the full utilisation of new and ever newly discovered methods of production, which accounts for the amazing phenomenon of the Russian industrial background, of the Red Army and the supporting civil population, through the world’s most exhausting conflict.
Of course it meant that the land, the minerals, the various sources of power, and the productive machine itself, must be in the possession of the people and their representatives; it meant a planned economy for a sixth of the world. It meant exact statistical estimates of wealth, potential wealth, and productive capacity of every unit of activity in farm or factory. It meant well-thought-out and clearly defined plans as to what could be produced, what should be produced and the order or priority. It meant also the education of the masses as to what they were attempting, why they were attempting it, and how they could best be equipped for their task.
I have enlarged elsewhere upon the mighty industrial and agricultural achievements of the Soviet Union. A bird’s-eye view must here suffice, before describing the spiritual purposes they were designed to serve. Indeed, however, we may well notice in passing that spiritual achievements were already won in the very act of producing the material basis for further spiritual advances. The spiritual was operating immediately and powerfully and all along the line: for what is the replacement of the motive of personal profit and personal enrichment by the motive of social service and social enrichment but itself an outstanding and unique spiritual achievement? Morality at the heart of daily tasks lifted man on to wholly new spiritual planes and produced effects of extraordinary range and intensity.
In the interests of cultural and spiritual life, however, the Soviet people must be rich in material things, as well as moral in the mode of their production. To up-build life, material things are needed. Mothers need well-equipped workshops for their task. Teachers need buildings ample in size and rich in appliances. Doctors need universities, hospitals, instruments, and sanatoria for the creation of positive health. Wherever we look, if we are to satisfy spiritual and cultural demands, we see the pressing need for physical things. The very defence of the new civilisation itself demanded tanks, planes, guns and all the impedimenta of war.
At the outset, therefore, the engineers of the new civilisation strove to increase the material riches and resources of the people. They approached their task with scientific thoroughness. An inventory of the country’s wealth in natural resources was made. Science was enlisted. Geologists, metallurgists, botanists were trained and employed, with what rapidity and with what thoroughness may be judged by comparison with our similar efforts. The British Empire possesses no special institute for geological work. The British geological survey employs some 70 workers; India a total staff of less than 40; our African colonies less than 20. Research work is done mainly in the universities, with a peacetime personnel of less than 100; the small work done by private firms is primarily for secret use. The Soviet Academy of Science, in sharp contrast to all this, has several special geological and mineralogy research institutes: the Institute of Applied Mineralogy alone employs a staff of more than 1000; its Central Geological Prospecting Institute a permanent staff of more than 500, with 10,000 research and field workers and a budget of £38,000,000 per annum. Would Canada be so scantily populated today, or India so poor, if we had tackled this elementary problem with the energy of Marxist Russia?
The nation’s resources in raw materials must be manufactured into consumable goods. For this, capital machinery is needed – iron mines, coal mines, blast furnaces, machine shops and transport equipment. To operate all these things power is primary: solar power, harnessed through coal, oil or boiling water. Lenin urged the primary demand for the electrification of industry, transport and agriculture. He trod untried ground. Little had been done. In the view of Mr H.G. Wells, little could be done. After a discussion with Lenin on electrical possibilities, Mr Wells had written: “I cannot see anything of this sort happening in this dark crystal of Russia, but this little man at the Kremlin can.”
The little man was right. The Dnieper Dam was the proof. And schemes larger than the Dnieper Dam are already projected and would now be moving to completion but for the war. Russia’s rivers are progressively being harnessed.
Similarly with Russia’s coal and oil. Soviet geologists have discovered coal deposits of astronomical dimensions. At Kuznetz, for instance, situated in the very heart of the Soviet Union, Soviet geologists have discovered resources of coal that could supply the whole world at its present rate of consumption for the next 300 years. And even that, since the prospecting of the River Yenesei, appears to be but the beginning of the story, and the Soviet Union already has undertaken the scientifically possible and economically and socially desirable, process of gasifying coal in its seam, eliminating thereby a vast amount of mining and providing abundant cheap power without defiling the skies.
The rapidity of Russia’s steel and iron development is equally phenomenal. Civilised living makes huge demands upon metals, as a glance around any dwelling-house will prove. Soviet geologists have discovered in the Ural Mountains a deposit of iron ore estimated to exceed all the other known world deposits put together. It is being feverishly exploited today.
The rapidity with which the iron, steel, and machinery industry has been proceeding can be measured not only by the fact that one factory alone was, before the war began, producing 40,000 large tractors a year (our total stock at the outset of the war was about 100,000), but by what has happened during the war. Despite the loss in the Ukraine of some of the richest coal and iron deposits in the USSR and of one of her greatest industrial areas, Kalinin could state that in this year Russia was producing as much war material as was produced prior to the German attack.
The Soviet Union is developing not only cheap power but a multiplicity of machines to use it for a multiplicity of purposes. Electric shovels that bite off a ton at a time and each perform, in a twenty-four hour cycle, work equivalent to the labour of 15,000 navvies; lathes that take their directions from the blueprint itself without human agency; combine harvesters and their fellows that have released eighteen out of every nineteen agricultural workers from the land and removed forever the fear of famine, are some instances from many more.
The Times military correspondent, at the end of the Russo- Finnish war, remarked that the Russian engineers showed a high inventiveness. They did. They do. But why? They show it because they have every encouragement and incentive to do so. Every labour-saving device or organisation aids them individually or collectively; they know it and the number of those who work with zest and intelligence increases.
Let us now return to the primary object for which material goods are produced – the intelligent promotion of human life. Certain commodities and appliances are essential to the full development of life; protection from foes, a healthy body, a generous education, cultural facilities ... The provision of these is a primary charge on that wealth of the community in which each individual shares but which none can spend as he chooses. Each can earn a wage and spend that exactly as he likes. Each also shares in the annual corporate dividend of industry. That dividend is spent for him and spent as, how, and when the majority of which he forms a part decides.
A small digression will explain this point. The Soviet Union builds up its own capital machinery, which forms its capital investment. This investment is constantly increasing: its rate of increase constantly accelerating. During the First Five-Year Plan it increased at an average rate of 12,000 million roubles a year. The total investment at the end of the third year of the Third Five-Year Plan was 860,000 million roubles or £34,000,000,000. All this investment belongs to the people: it represents community capital in which every man, woman and child had, in 1937, a share of £170 and which was rising rapidly every year. The annual dividend from this share represents a sum of some £60 per annum per person. That dividend is received in addition to the wages earned. It is paid out not in cash but in various social services; in reinvestment in fresh capital machinery; in armaments; in free education; in free health services; in cultural amenities – in the interests, that is, of human life, wisely planned as the result of the pooled wisdom of the people through their representatives. That income gives the material basis of the Soviet citizen’s rights.
The Soviet citizen knows this and the knowledge gives zest to his work. It provides new standards of value and new incentives. The communal idea of duty, which includes duty to oneself as part of the whole, replaces the old idea of grab for oneself, for one’s family, or for one’s nation. Thus, to return, the Soviet state spends its wealth on things that promote life. Let us examine some items of expenditure.
Health is a national concern. An adequate medical service, seeking positive health, aiming at prevention rather than cure, is a primary charge upon communal wealth in the Soviet Union, where medical service, divorced from money-making, aims at making Soviet citizens the healthiest in the world. Free medical aid is given to all from birth to death. The Soviet health services pursue and attack the causes of sickness and accident. Factories and schools have resident doctors more intent on preserving limbs than on mending them. Numerous research institutes co-operate with the doctor to combat diseases due to working conditions. Psychological misfits are re-sorted. Elaborate provision is made for the organisation of hours and periods of rest and leisure. The shortest working day is planned in the interests of health. Athletics are encouraged: probably 24 million receive, in some form or another, systematic athletic training.
Health service is directed from one central control, whose function it is to mobilise the whole people in the war against disease and in quest of national health. Doctors in Russia are not lone fighters against disease, but cadres working for health, mobilising the masses and directing health campaigns.
Dr Sigerist, the author of the History of American Medicine and a Professor at Johns Hopkins University, says that though in 1937 the USA was still ahead in technical equipment, the USSR was already ahead in efficiency and service.
In 1940 the USSR had caught up to Great Britain in the number of doctors per 1000 of the population. By 1941 it had taken the lead and purposed, apart from the war, to have 25,000 medical students graduating in 1944 instead of 17,000 in 1941. The money spent on medical research puts other countries to shame.
Education is a national concern. Education is essential to the full development of life, and must be given to all. Education is an essential charge upon the corporate income; and Soviet education, except in some of the higher forms, and under the stress of war, is free and compulsory.
Soviet education is remarkable for its range and quality and for its adumbration of the principles that govern adult life in a Marxist society. Close acquaintance with Soviet education removes the baseless fear that socialism spells regimentation and destroys initiative.
Soviet education is remarkable for its range. Russia’s education in 1919 lagged far behind other nations with 10 to 15 per cent literacy against Britain’s 100 per cent. Today 18.4 per cent of Russia’s population attend elementary and secondary schools as against England’s 14.5 per cent; while 3.5 per thousand are receiving a university education as against our 1.3 per thousand, with vast programs yet projected.
By 1940 Russia was spending £7/2s per head on education against our £2. Nor does even that exhaust the contrast. For vast numbers among the 193 million of the Soviet Union are backward: not less but more is spent on these. The Soviets spend £39 per annum on the Turkmen child living on the northern slopes of the Himalaya mountains: Britain spends one shilling and sixpence on the Hindu child. The Soviets spend £5/10s on the Turkmen child’s health services: Britain spends one penny on the Hindu child.
“It is easy,” says Ilya Ehrenburg, “to bring up ten thousand of the select at the expense of the rest, to create an enlightened aristocracy set off against the ignorance of millions. We are seeking something quite different: enlightenment for all,” and the all includes all nationalities.
Soviet education is also remarkable for its quality and character. Lenin had clearly perceived that high output and high culture were twin needs for a Communist society.
The treatment of children registers a nation’s place in the civilised scale. Does it seek the physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual welfare of its children? Does it inspire generous ideals and provide creative and chosen outlets for childhood and youth?
Soviet Russia attempts to do it, treating childhood with peculiar reverence: “Our children, the hope of the future,” was an early slogan. Each child is regarded as an end in itself, cherished both for its own sake and as potential wealth for the community. Childcare in Russia begins at the pre-natal stage: no pregnant woman is allowed to work for 35 days before and 28 days after childbirth, and mother and child both visit the doctor weekly till the child is ten months old. Adequate food, and if necessary special food, is assured, whether the parent provides it or not: the infant is the whole community’s care – although parental responsibility is strenuously inculcated.
The Soviet creche resembles the nursery of a well-to-do-English family. The child is not separated from the parents but attended, with other children, during certain hours of the day, with skilled care, freeing the mother from incessant drudgery. The family, considered as a social unit, is enriched, not robbed, by the creche.
The intellectual and moral quality of Soviet education foreshadows the future character of Soviet adult society. Individual initiative is taught from the earliest years, together with collective enterprise and team work. The slogan, “Never do anything for a child here that it can do for itself,” reveals one side; and large, light building-toy-cubes requiring three or four pairs of hands in the lifting reveals the other.
Discipline in the Soviet school is achieved without corporal punishment. Canes are illegal. Self-discipline is the goal. Soviet teachers play the part of older comrades, to whom the children tell their troubles and difficulties and who they learn to love. Character training is emphasised in Russian education.
Selfish competition is discouraged; collective enterprise fostered. Class lists contain “excellent,” “poor,” or “bad”; no “first,” “second” and “third” places. Competition between individuals yields to competition of class with class, decided by the number of “excellents” and stimulating the clever to aid the dull and raise the class score. “Socialist” competition begins in the school. The spirit of the Soviet school is akin to the spirit of the English playground. The game of life is made as attractive as the game of cricket, and the teacher in a Soviet school is regarded with respect akin to that shown to county experts on an English cricket field.
Soviet children are taught, from their earliest years, the why and wherefore of things; why they are at school; how their school is a vital part of society, in whose development they one day will share, and for which self-discipline is a primary requisite.
Parents are welcomed in the school and every effort made to enlist parental co-operation. The principal of a certain school, for instance, insisted that the father of a defaulting boy should come home early enough from work to see his son several times a week, talk to him and check up his work; “if you do not take more interest in your son, we shall have to inform your trade union committee and you will then have to be given time for this important duty.”
The story of a Soviet school, as told by Mrs Beatrice King, Miss Deana Levin or Mr Pat Sloan, sounds odd to English ears: to me it recalls the spirit and atmosphere of home life in a large family where Christian morality meant more than words and pious utterances, moulding and shaping the whole of life. Close and intense regard for the child’s real welfare, joy in things good, true and beautiful, deep concern over the child’s moral fault, strenuous efforts at reformation, quiet reasoning, refusal to use physical force, thoughtful medical care, emphasis on family unity and honour, enlisting the child’s self-criticism and self-discipline – all these things which are sought in the best Christian homes are likewise sought in Soviet schools.
The attitude of the Soviet teacher to the child has been well put by a school principal: “We do not want to produce little anarchists. We are educating our children in good life habits, not just teaching them subjects. Children must not only be interested in lessons, but must have respect for teachers and for each other and must behave in a cultured way in consequence. We must not forget that while our children understand why they must study, and are generally interested in getting an education, they are nevertheless children, and as such need guiding and training throughout their school career. The function of a teacher is primarily that of an educator.”
Soviet education aims at producing the complete citizen, bridging the gulf between manual and intellectual activity, bringing the child into close contact with Soviet industrial productive life that it may learn at first-hand what industry is, why it exists, what place it occupies in the social order and what effect its practice has upon the social life of the whole.
This technological training aims at making a many-sided social being, one who understands not merely the use of materials and the scientific nature of the forces required to achieve their final form, but one who also understands the social effects of production – and particularly of new modes of production – upon the whole organisation of life and upon the human beings employed. It aims at understanding life as a whole. After such training an adult Soviet chemist, for example, will enquire not merely how to make a perfume, a poison or an explosive, but what effect their production will have upon society.
Each stage of a child’s development, in school and out, witnesses provision of similar opportunity for development of every latent capacity. There are, for instance, the evening schools, where a wide variety of circles meet the child’s aptitudes and wishes in a variety of ways: drama and literary circles, physics and chemistry circles, artistic and musical circles, each with its competent paid leader. Young naturalists are provided with aquariums, mice or guinea-pigs. Children may make real wireless sets, model boats, aeroplanes or canoes.
These palaces help individual children to discover their talent and develop their gift. It is no accident that at the Third International contest of Pianists in Warsaw in 1937, Russian youth won first and second prizes and five out of the six first prizes for the violin in Brussels.
No wonder that Lion Feuchtwanger could exclaim: “Soviet youth emanates a strength and joy that involuntarily astonishes me.”
Adolescence and adult life bring no fear of unemployment. Every sphere of activity seeks workers. If shortage in any one direction becomes too acute, special inducements readjust the balance. But the child chooses its own career; and the chance to try out his choice in the various circles at a children’s Palace facilitates appropriate selections.
All children in great cities continue their education to 18 years of age.
This widened base of education has been accompanied by a surge of intellectual vitality and novel achievement, revealing themselves in peace and war, in factory and theatre, in realms of literature or in scientific laboratories. Mr Tustin, for example, a distinguished British expert who went in 1934 as consulting engineer to the Moscow Dynamo Works, says of the youths who entered his factory at eighteen years of age: “There is no doubt whatever of their enthusiasm, ability and capacity for hard work.”
This story of youth witnesses to an effort to achieve individuality, and leads in adult life to that development of personality so eloquently described by Barbusse:
Everyone has before him opportunities which are forbidden to the exploited who live in the lands of masters and slaves. Everyone here is bubbling over with individuality, burning with it. Nothing has struck me more forcibly than this more intense individuality of the people of the Soviet state. We are witnessing an expansion of personality. Borne forward on the wave of youth, with the fresh armies of the childhood of the red flag coming up in support, this people, which is in process of becoming a new race unified by labour, is not only the purest and the cleanest in the world: it is also the happiest. For everyone begins to feel an active consciousness of his part in the realisation of the work of the whole, and of the dignity with which his share in it invests him.
This priceless consciousness of his worth to those who are organising his life, so valuable in childhood, persists in Soviet life beyond school age. It pursues the adult into the Soviet factory and field.
For the Soviet boy or girl passing from school to factory or field does not pass, as in capitalist countries, from one moral atmosphere to another; from school, where the child is regarded as an end in itself, to industry where youth is a tool for profit-making ends; from an authority, that trains, develops and strives to inspire the child with high ideals to an authority that ignores his development and whose ideals of personal acquisition rather than increase of social wealth inevitably infect and corrupt him.
A Soviet factory resembles, rather, a British university, with its incentives to advance, with its classes, libraries and cultural activities. It also has its medical department and its careful inspection of the workers’ physical and psychological welfare. In the capitalist factory the sack awaits slackness. In the socialist factory the slack worker attends the medical department to see if his work suits his tastes and capacity, if his education has been adequate or if he suffers from latent disease or abnormally limited intelligence. It is precisely the kind of treatment a child receives in any Christian home.
Solicitude for Soviet citizenship is crystallised in the Soviet Charter of Rights, which guarantees to each citizen of both sexes:
1. The right to work; and it is the work of choice, with encouragement at every stage to reach the higher skills. Unemployment has ceased in the Soviet Union.
2. The right to rest and leisure. Russia enjoys the shortest working day, with a seven-hour maximum prior to the war. More brain and less sweat has been a Soviet principle. The application of science to agriculture has released 18 out of every 19 land workers, and in Russia that means not unemployment, but the advancing prospects of increased leisure for all. Holidays, with pay, travel facilities, rest homes and social clubs make leisure recreative.
3. The right to education, the range and quality of which, as we have seen, increase each year.
4. The right to full security in sickness, in incapacity or in old age.
In addition to these rights the freedom of religious worship is guaranteed. The restriction that prohibited classes for religious instruction to more than a small number of persons under sixteen years of age is due partly to the fact that teaching, doctrine, propaganda have never been prominent in Eastern as in Western religion, and partly to the fact that in early days anti-Soviet propaganda had hidden itself under the cloak of religious worship. This restriction shows signs of relaxing.
Freedom of speech, press, assembly and public demonstration are guaranteed, and expand as stability grows. These far-reaching rights, formulated in the Stalin constitution of 1936, make that constitution on paper at least, the most liberal formulary the world has yet seen, and they are rights that remain no dead letter.
Women share with men the rights of Soviet citizenship. Unlike other countries, all that we have said of man applies to woman: equal before the law, equal in education, equal in school and university, equal in vote and work, the Soviet women hold a high charter.
Liberty in the family is also a woman’s right. Women enjoy economic freedom in the home: they can earn their own keep. They have the right to work, they receive compensation for their handicap in child-bearing, being provided with nurseries, creches, kindergartens, communal laundries and dining rooms, which rationalise female labour and abolish needless drudgery. A woman has the right to nine weeks full pay during pregnancy and when again fit for work must be taken back at the same pay in the job she left.
Freedom to marry or avoid marriage follows from economic independence. Freedom to have as many children as she chooses follows when the mother can earn, if she so desires, an independent income and when children cease to be an economic liability; large families receiving special money grants.
All branches of activity are open to Soviet women. They may serve in any administrative post: 189 serve in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Forty-three per cent of students in higher educational institutions in 1940 were women. The good citizen rather than the good housekeeper is the Soviet ideal for womanhood.
Degradation of womanhood among the southern, eastern and northern nationalities was unbelievable and the change today incredible. Karl Marx, through his sympathetic understanding of a woman’s limitations and handicaps, had said:
There can be no talk of any sound and complete democracy, let alone of any socialism, until women take their rightful and permanent place beside men both in the political life of the country and in the public life of the community in general.
Lenin and Stalin endorsed these words, and Article 22 of Stalin’s constitution enshrines the noblest charter that woman has ever received:
Women in the USSR are accorded equal rights with men in all fields of economic, state, cultural, social and political life ... the possibility of realising these rights is ensured by affording women, equally with men, the right to work, payment for work, rest, social insurance and education, state protection in the interests of mother and child, granting pregnancy leave with pay, and provision of a wide network of maternity homes, nurseries and kindergartens.
Women before and in the Revolutionary War had earned their freedom. In the present war of defence they justify it. Life had become attractive, secure and pleasant. The family and the home had been enriched with affection and truth. Homes had become colourful with pretty frocks, tasteful rooms and the delight of cultural amenities. But with the outbreak of war came the surge of womanhood to aid the men in the defence of the fatherland. And it was skilled service they gave. There was nothing that women would not attempt and nothing that women did not achieve.
The new Russia is not an empire: it is a union of states in equal partnership. Stalin cut across the age-long dominance of Russia and in 1918 planned the granting of federal autonomy to regions marked off by national characteristics. The era of national liberties had begun. The socialist constitution gives absolute equality to all nationalities; with due representation in the central organs to all national republics and regions; with reasonably wide administrative, cultural and economic autonomy to each, and with organs of administration locally recruited and employing their own language.
The reform began rightly at the economic end. It expressed itself in goods. The nationalities were, from the start, physically as well as psychologically enriched. Centres of industry were set up among the culturally backward peoples: “backward,” as Lenin said, “through no fault of their own, but because they were looked upon as sources of raw materials.”
Never in history, perhaps, have moral causes reaped so swift a harvest. For when the Ukraine fell these newly developed localities could receive and operate the displaced machinery from the captured factories and maintain supplies to the Red Army. Nor has Russia during this war suffered trouble from dissatisfied national groups seeking redress under stress of conflict.
Hope replaces fear; trust replaces repression; abundance replaces poverty.
Vested interest and exploitation, together with poverty and unemployment, have gone, and Soviet Russia has been growing rich, stable and strong. All this achievement finds its natural expression in the new art, new literature, new hope and new aspirations of a new civilisation.
Soviet society becomes the legitimate inheritor of Western culture. New wealth and new leisure have widened the outlook of the masses on life; social security has released latent energies. The ban on profits has directed these into creative channels, resulting in an outburst of cultural life hardly yet realised outside Russia and constituting a second Renaissance.
This culture has its own marked characteristics. The past is ransacked for its treasures and studiously absorbed. New treasures are created.
Russia has become literate in a sense unknown elsewhere. The output of books is colossal, their variety astonishing: 43,000 titles in a single year in editions totalling 701 million copies, 117 million of these in languages other than Russian. Tolstoy, Turgenev, Puskin, Dostoyevski are studied in millions of copies. Foreign classics are eagerly read. Our Charles Dickens has probably sold as many copies in Russia in the last two decades as in England. Shakespeare has been rediscovered in Russia and receives tumultuous welcome from a people yesterday illiterate. Hamlet is popular in Archangel and Uzbekistan. Shakespeare is translated into 17 Soviet languages. When Hamlet was played at Voronezh in 1941, the 1200 theatre seats were sold out long before opening night. Six hundred people assembled subsequently, together with critics and actors, to discuss the play, the people themselves arguing whether or not the company had correctly interpreted Shakespeare’s meaning.
It is significant of the Marxian society that the Soviet Union held a whole week in Shakespeare’s honour, with some 800 professional theatres producing his plays, on his 325th anniversary; our BBC passed the occasion in almost blank silence.
This passion for Shakespeare should remove all fears that the treasures of the past will suffer at the hands of socialism. New theatres are built. There were 95,600 theatrical clubs in the Soviet Union in 1940 and 45,000 of these circles competed in the first All-Union amateur contest of 1941.
Soviet literature reflects the new Soviet spirit. It possesses elan. No bald pessimistic recital of events as in the realistic or modern western novel with its avoidance of the romantic heroes who “live happily ever after,” and its lack of form because possessing no unifying principle beneath the medley of mere experience. No sentimentalism either, with its escapism and remoteness from reality.
Soviet literature glows with hope and aspiration. It can be realist at the same time because the reality on which it looks is a hopeful and aspiring reality. The difference between the new and the old reflects the difference between the societies in which the two operate.
When Soviet literature takes on epic features and depicts noble characters – which are yet integrated with the society around them – it merely expresses the reality it sees. The characteristics are not impossible of attainment because they are in touch with actual life in the Soviet society.
In the matter of liberty Russia has much to teach as well as much to learn. Primarily Russia teaches the world how to give liberty of opportunity – economic liberty – to the masses of the people. Russia translates formal liberty into actual liberty. Russia releases in the young girl and boy the music of mathematics, which lie latent within them. Russia gives to each the means to live a complete life.
Russia knows the difference between liberty and licence and refuses the licence to the few to exploit the many.
Certain licences that usurped the name of liberty and freedom have gone in Russia, as they have gone in England. In 1820 men were free to work 16 hours a day and start working life at six years of age. That “liberty” has gone. There is less “liberty” of that kind in 1942 than in 1820. Less “liberty” but more life, do we regret it? There is still in the England of 1942 freedom to exploit men and women, to use them as instruments for making profit. That “liberty” has gone from the new Marxian society. Less “liberty” but more life, do we regret it?
The passing of pseudo-liberties opens the door to wide ranges of new liberties. New freedoms came when the old licence went. The adult in the Soviet Union has freedom to work and to choose his work; freedom for recreation and freedom to participate in noble pleasures; freedom to study and develop his gifts; freedom to marry at a biologically correct age and beget children with no fear for their future; freedom from want in sickness or old age, freedom from fear. And I would add progressive freedom from the narrowing fetters of a selfish, self-sufficient isolated life. There is a service that is perfect freedom and the Marxian society is learning the practice of it, and already reaps its rewards. The Alpine climber reaches, in combination with others, heights inaccessible in his solitary climb; freedom of doing exactly as he likes has been surrendered; a higher freedom of achievement gained. It is the wider freedom of that character that enriches the new Marxian society.
Once this is understood, many fears regarding socialism – fears of regimentation, of thwarted individual enterprise, of hindrance to the free movement of the spirit – vanish.
Very rightly do the upper classes value the facilities that property gives for the enjoyment and development of personality – the possession of commodious houses, cultured schools for education, cars for mobility, library, radio ... and leisure to think and act on one’s own initiative. To secure these things men will slave early and late, often to find that power to enjoy them goes when power to purchase them comes.
Socialism has no complaint concerning such private property, save that the masses lack it. Capitalism subjects men to the restrictions of organised labour and then robs them of its fruits. Less than a tenth of the population possess anything but a pitiful minimum of property. Not less but more private property is needed. But it must be the right kind of property. There are two kinds of private property. Private property in the means by which things are made – factories, land, mines, gives to the owners power to control the lives of others. That must cease. It is wrong private property.
The other kind of private property consists in consumer goods – food, clothes, houses, motor cars, books, pictures – all that ministers to comfort and spiritual enrichment.
The two can readily be distinguished. Private property in the means of production yields money income. Private ownership of consumer goods yields none.
Russia denies the right to own the first kind of private property in order to increase for all men the second kind. Again, the fear of bureaucracy, of hordes of officials dominating our lives and producing a new slavery, is seen to be baseless when we examine the new Soviet Marxian society. It is no slave people who blow up factories, burn farms, join guerrilla bands, and defend Stalingrad. No instructed socialist indeed ever supposed that all the factories, mines and land would pass into the hands of the state and be run by state officials – although the state and its officials under socialism, being socialistically minded, would be, and in Russia are, widely different from officials under capitalism, where they are capitalistically minded. Public ownership is, in reality, as varied in its character as private ownership. State ownership of railways proves most economical and efficient in that sphere of enterprise; but in general in Russia it is public authorities rather than the state that run enterprises.
Smaller and local industries are run by local authorities, by producer co-operatives, or by associations of workers owning their own means of production; a form peculiarly appropriate to the land. Socialism means fewer officials than capitalism, not more. It is capitalism, with its huge bureaucratic organisation of administrators, directors, managers, under-managers, foremen, sales managers, advertising agents and production experts that overweights – at the expense of the ratepayer – the official against the operative side of industry. Socialism, as we see it in Russia, reduces officialdom and increases the proportion of workers, with a consequent increase of the private property and leisure for all. And against the present officials’ fear of losing jobs there should be set the ever-increasing range of more interesting, more profitable, and more creative jobs in the effort to supply the now effective demands for increased goods and services.
Morality reaches a new level in the Soviet Union, where individuals become ends not means, and where service replaces greed as the prime motive of producing life.
Sexual morality shows a corresponding and not unrelated advance. During my visit to five republics and nine great cities wandering by myself at all hours of day and night, in country and town, in front streets and back streets, in theatres, operas and picture shows, in book shops and railway bookstalls, I never saw a sight I should wish a young girl to avoid. Russia is the only country of which I can say as much. On the surface, at least, the land of the Soviet Union is clean.
I would suggest five reasons for this: the youth of the Soviet Union live in an exhilarating atmosphere of creative tasks; youth can marry when biological development demands it; boys and girls are trained together from earliest years; no money can be made from pandering to the primitive and baser appetites; and no woman needs to sell her honour.
Religious worship in the Soviet Marxian state, as I have stated earlier, is free. Although the church, as an institution, had an evil record in the Russia of the Tsars, and at the outset opposed the Soviet regime, religious practice was never officially suppressed. Today it is treated with respect. Statute 124 of the Stalin constitution enacts:
In order to ensure freedom of conscience, the church in the USSR is separated from the state and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognised for all citizens.
The Soviet government does not interfere with the convictions of believers or the private concerns of religious bodies. Clergy enjoy equal rights with other citizens and each nationality may perform religious ceremonies in its own language, a privilege denied in Tsarist days.
In its positive aspects, the Russian Marxian state is no foe to the Christian religion. It provides a moral basis for society. It ends the immoral order in which “Christian” nations have acquiesced. It saves men from selfish isolation. It reorientates life. And is not a real belief in God the power to live our lives as part of the whole of things? A power that lifts us out of our self-centredness and frees us from our fears.
To see purposes, as Lenin saw it, running through all life as it evolves on this planet; to have faith in the power that determines the destiny of mankind, to feel oneself an instrument in the hands of a power that is not unfriendly and that reveals its aim in the making of man – the creature who can seek truth and find it; seek beauty and create it; seek love and die for his friends – and which is now passing on to the further purpose of establishing a universal brotherhood of all mankind, a classless and serviceful society – to believe all that and live by it is to have recovered much of the essence of a real belief in God.
Russia teaches us. The new Russian civilisation confronts a world where disorder reigns: the chaos of sovereign states unrestricted by moral law; the chaos of a world of booms and slumps, where natural resources and machinery of production are retained as private property by men who can bar the masses from their only means of livelihood; chaos where vast monopolies war with one another and induce total war. Science says any force that resolves that chaos and integrates the world of men as a whole, limited only be renunciation of exploitation and economic independence but otherwise set free to develop gifts of custom, language, art and literature, then this force is in line with life. Christianity says Amen to that. The Soviet Marxian state now leads us to that task and thus proves the ally not the foe to true religion.
The end is not yet. The Marxian goal is an advancing goal. Russia today is on the high road to it and first achievements pave the way for further steps. Russia is socialist: the next step is communism, and the difference between the two is expressed by Marx in his Critique of the Gotha Program: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.” That is socialism. The Soviet Union strives to increase the ability of each. The Soviet Union pays each according to his work, and as work varies in values, so wages vary, with higher wage for the more skilled tasks. Socialism assures relative, not absolute equality.
Communism is the next stage and its fullness lies yet ahead. Socialism, increasing wealth and reorientating character from acquisitive to creative qualities, paves the way to the complete and communist state which says “to each according to his need.” Only a wealthy nation can achieve that goal: only a nation of gentlemen – as Bernard Shaw defines them, as the men who put more into the common pot than they take out of it – dare attempt to reach it. That goal can never be reached by a work-shy, sponging community. That is why Soviet youth are trained so insistently in high ideals, trained to understand the nature of the community in which they live, trained to develop interior discipline, trained to practise initiative, trained to bend all their powers to work in unison with others for the common good and the common goal.
The achievements of this new Marxian society are already immense, their promise greater still. The dangerous features of the acquisitive instinct have gone. The pursuit of science replaces the pursuit of gain. The struggle between the major instincts – altruistic and egoistic, has gone. The fear of unemployment, trade depression, helpless sickness, impoverished old age and inability to provide for one’s family, have gone. The goods by which a man expresses himself grow and with the growth comes a new sense of responsibility for the public goods that are its source. The lies, deceit and secrecy that have made capitalistic industry a nightmare to sensitive souls have also gone. Creative work opens to all, making possible the true pursuit of vocation. Zest enriches life.
Equality of race, equality of sex, equality of citizens; absence of domination and exploitation already yield results. A new sense of solidarity, a new unity of interest and comradeship, are laying deep and true the foundations on which to build the communist state, and if any doubt still lingers in our minds as to the ability of human character to bear so high a strain, I would say: Look at Odessa, look at Sebastopol, look at Stalingrad. The conduct of the Soviet people under the strain of war, ruthlessly scorching earth, increasing output to the limit, facing terrific odds with skill and fortitude, give all the encouragement we need to continue up-building that state which moves ever more nearly to perfection and of which Marx dreamed when he had probed and laid bare the basic laws that regulate human society.