Th. Rothstein 1920
Source: Th. Rothstein, under his pseudonym John Bryan, “Man Has Arisen!” The Call, 1 April 1920, p.2, (1,267 words);
Transcribed: Ted Crawford,
HTML Markup: Chris Clayton
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Among the photographs recently brought over from Soviet Russia by a friend there, is one showing a large decorated banner erected for the second anniversary of the November Revolution, over the tombs of the revolutionary martyrs in the principal square of Petrograd, and bearing the legend “Dedicated to the host of the Great who have departed from Life for the sake of Life.”
How true this legend rings in comparison with the similar idea expressed In the Christian doctrine of Easter! Look at the world — look at it as it is, one thousand eight hundred and eighty seven years after its supposed redemption by the blood of crucified Christ. The earth is still soaked with the rivers of blood shed in the recent “Great” War. Half the world lies in ruins with a decimated population starved unto death and perishing from cold. Typhus, crime, and civil war rage over the greater part of Europe, and soon, soon the rest of the continent will also succumb to them. Over this colossal wreckage of humanity a handful of rich, grown richer through that very blood and misery, hold sway, rolling in gold, luxury, and pleasures, extracting the last drop of marrow from the bones of the surviving wretches, and stretching forth their tentacles to the new races which the war has delivered to their insatiable lusts. A world “redeemed,” indeed. What mockery, what hypocrisy! The pagan world could not have been worse than this world of Christianity. Only it had no bishops to preach from the pulpits the Easter lie and to administer “opium” to the masses, as the Bolshevik inscription on one of Moscow’s church gates boldly puts it.
It is different with the Russian Revolution. Not, eighteen hundred and eighty seven, but barely two and a half years have elapsed since that event, and already humanity feels at it has been redeemed by it. Amidst the untold suffering which has been inflicted upon it by the war as well as by the “peace,” it feels that a new light has arisen in the East — a light that is a true light, and not a will o‘ the wisp, a light that reveals the truth, that shows the road, that inspires hope and confidence, that warms and encourages, that adds to the strength of the body and the soul. And millions have been set into motion by it, pessimists and sceptics have been converted by it, and even enemies have been gained by it for the new faith.
Yes, is a new faith which has been kindled by it in the despairing breast of the human race — a faith in itself, in its ideals, in its instinctive aspiration for truth, and in honesty and purity of personal and public life. Remember the impression created by the collapse of Socialism at the beginning of the war. “Just like the others,” was the universal remark which could be heard on various lips, the remark sounded cynical, on other lips it expressed disappointment and even despair. “Like the others” — like the other political parties, the parties of the bourgeoisie, whose protestations, assurances, pledges, and promises had long ceased to inspire any faith. Not only Socialists themselves, but even opponents of Socialism had entertained somewhere, in a distant corner of their souls, a half-fearful, half-respectful faith in the sincerity and courage of the idealism professed by the Socialists, and when that faith turned out false, they, the opponents, only shrugged their shoulders, observing contemptuously, and not without glee: “Just like the others” — meaning themselves, the old capitalist sinners and publicans who used to be so virulently denounced by the virtuous Socialists. We, on our part, the few men and women who somehow, in the midst of universal demoralisation and political bankruptcy, contrived to remain steadfast to our ideals, we, too, said: “Like the others,” but with a bitterness and despair that nearly drove us mad. Was there no political honesty in the world? Must everybody be renegades and traitors? Were we really madmen and fools, and was there really no hope for the world?
But the Bolsheviks came, and the miracle unparalleled in history happened. With amazement, almost stupefaction, the world saw a handful of men and women picking up in the dust the trampled ideals and professions and, with a daring truly Promethean, enthroning them high up under the very rays of the sun, so at they could be seen from all over the filth and blood covered earth. There had never been such a revolution in the history of mankind — a revolution on the “appointed” day by a seemingly small handful of men, every one of whom was prepared to “depart from life far the sake of life,” and there had never been such a complete fulfilment by the now victorious party of pledges given by it when in opposition. The cynical and disappointed world of so-called democracy saw, to own astonishment, that individuals and political parties could have courage and honesty, could not only talk idealism, but also act upon it, could risk their very lives in asserting the truth and force of their principles against a whole world of enemies, and that, after all, politics were not necessarily a “dirty business,” such as they had, indeed, become in the hands of the demagogues in our “democratic” and parliamentary countries, but could be made a glorious and noble — indeed, the highest form of social activity, when undertaken and carried on by men and women to whom their ideals are part and parcel of their very lives.
And thus, even though the war with its bestialities and torrents of blood was still raging, a new faith in the human race was born on the earth which gradually took hold of the toiling masses in every country and spread even to the classes above them — more particularly to the intellectual workers. And now, who will gainsay that the entire mentality of the human race has become a different one, that every day which passes sees new sections of the people, new groups, new classes, and even new races, turning towards the light which shines in the East, their eyes glowing with new hope and their faces illuminated by new thought, new enthusiasm, new determination?
Russia of the proletariat and the peasants, Russia led by the Bolsheviks, Russia guided by the transcendent genius of Lenin and assisted by a host of workers with Trotsky, the incomparable organiser, at their head — this Russia has been the saviour of the world, its redeemer from cynicism, scepticism, and demoralisation which had been gnawing at its very vitals; threatening destruction and death. For this part, which she undertook deliberately, she has had to pay a heavy price. To this day, crucified by the capitalist powers, subjected by them to every imaginable insult and mockery, she is bleeding from every pore and straining every muscle to keep herself erect. But, unlike Christ, she did not weep bloody tears out of pity for herself when making up her mind rather to be crucified than to betray the trust which history had placed in her hands; nor is she likely to die on the cross before she accomplishes her mission. Revolutionary proletarian Russia is not going to die in order to rise again. She lives and gives life, and soon, soon, she will descend from the cross and cry out to the world: “Man has arisen!”