Greetings from Soviet Russia

S. J. Rutgers

Published: The Class Struggle, vol. 3, no. 3. August 1919. Pages 295-300.
Transcription/Markup: Micah Muer, 2021.

For the third time Soviet Russia is passing through a period of life and death struggle in which all her physical and spiritual forces are strained to the utmost. First it was the threat of German Imperialism, which brought about a crisis that was so intense that it seemed to all observers to lead necessarily to a collapse. But the young power won out against the old force of brute weapons. Then came the period of counter-revolutionary conspiracies and uprisings, instigated by French and English money. The uprisings of the Czecho-Slovaks, of the Mensheviki, of the Left Social-Revolutionaries, all these without exception were based upon the aid of the Allies and upon the pretence of bourgeois "Democracy." But again the young power won out against the old system of lies and deception.

At present the Western Democracies are manifestly in open alliance against their mortal enemy, the Russian Soviet Republic. All the means of armed force, treachery, and deception are to be employed in one last endeavor to destroy that Republic.

In the North, the Murman-Archangel front; in the East, an increasing number of fronts; in the West, the threats of aggression from the Baltic and from Rumania; in the South, the English ships in the Black Sea as well as on the Caspian; together with a whole band of counter-revolutionary armies under conscienceless commanders, such as Krassnov, Denikin, Skoropadsky, etc., are manifestly receiving aid from the Allied "Democratic" Imperialists.

And yet, revolutionary Russia, economically exhausted, cut off from all supplies, and without the slightest assistance of any kind from the outside, even from the "socialistic" Germany of Scheidemann and Haase, which has categorically refused even a spiritual rapprochement – revolutionary Russia, young and hungry, looks full of confidence to the future.

There is a calm, determined, hopeful spirit prevailing in Moscow. The material and spiritual means at our disposal were used first of all for the needs of the Red Army, which was facing superhuman tasks on all the changing fronts. But confidence is placed not only in the army. Excellently prepared as it is to account for the internal enemies and counter-revolutionary bands, it nevertheless would be hopeless to attempt a modern war with the Allies, if such a war were a human possibility.

The confidence of the Russian proletariat is, in spite of all disappointments, still placed unshaken in the international solidarity of the workers. This firm conviction, which is capable of such tremendous sacrifices, is probably the most magnificent, the most affecting spectacle in this age so richly supplied with shifting emotions.

In spite of all the enemies at the frontiers, in spite of the unscrupulous counter-revolutionary propaganda, which is still being carried on here on an extensive scale and with unlimited funds, Moscow presents a completely normal appearance. There is no nervous excitement, the streets are animated and safe to walk in by day and by night, the theatres and concerts, as well as the countless meetings are always full of frequenters, and one would be inclined to think that all trouble was past, if it were not for an occasional reminder from one's stomach. Even the supply of clothing, including shoes, is satisfactory, in spite of all difficulties, the distribution being of course modified in accordance with supplies on hand and amount already received by individuals.

In spite of the material difficulties, spiritual life comes into its own. The thirst for education is general, and all lectures, courses and instructions are crowded with visitors, including the Socialistic Academy; the latter has actually been already opened with 3,000 students. The celebration of the anniversary of the proletarian revolution was an overwhelming event. More than a million Russian citizen, men and women, workers, peasants, and soldiers, demonstrated in the most perfect order, marching with dozens of banners, made especially for this purpose, along the graves of the fallen, and singing the powerful Russian Funeral March. The whole city was generously decorated with red flags and symbolic emblems, in many cases futuristic in style, and although the German Government had just broken off diplomatic relations, and although an Eastern Front had again become a possibility, there was a genuine holiday spirit abroad. In Petersburg there has been an exhibition of all the artistic landmarks of the city, among which there are monuments and statues of permanent value, and it is remarkable how many proletarian talents have in this short period developed into artists.

One interesting trait chosen from among many: In Moscow there was not enough fuel, and yet it was desired to have an illumination in the evening. Nothing simpler. The tramway service was restricted for a few days before the event, and electricity was thus saved for the brilliant illumination of the glorious festival of the glorious revolution. The great difficulty is and remains the question of bread, for bread is in Russia, more than in your country, the foodstuff par excellence.

Yet it has been found possible, within the last few days, to increase the bread ration in consequence of the conquests of the Red Army. The ration is now one poud (400 grams) for the first category (soldiers, etc.), 300 gr. for the second category (heavy labor), 200 for the third category, and 100 gr. for the fourth (bourgeoisie); in each case per diem. And when the German Revolution at last began to stir and the really revolutionary German Workers' Republic seemed likely to be able to obtain bread only from Russia, great gatherings were held in a number of places, in which Russian workers, with their serious pale faces, who had already hungered much, resolved unanimously that they would rather hunger a little more in order to save up supplies for their German comrades. And they did not permit the thing to stop at empty words. Immediately from various quarters there came reports of the quantities that would be set aside for this purpose, and a long train laden with precious grain soon reached Germany. But the old slave-drivers Scheidemann & Co. refused the proffered aid because the Entente did not want to permit them to have any contact with Russia, and because they were under the impression that their Allied hangmen would take better care of the German workers than their hungering Russian comrades.

The treason of their leaders and the blindness of the masses has probably deprived the German proletariat of any self-confidence at all. What could not have been attained if the technical skill and the organizing ability of the German workers could have been united with the incredible, as yet barely touched resources of Russia! For it is still rather the lack of proper transportation, of organization, than lack of actual foodstuffs, that is the cause of the present deficiency. And industry also, with its present raw materials, could attain a much higher productivity if it should work more intensively and with better organization. The German workers have just permitted a good opportunity to pass them by, and may now have to watch Entente capital strengthen itself at their expense, which simply means that the number of victims in the impending inevitable conflict will only be all the larger.

And not only that. There is danger that the aid which Soviet Russia will then be able to give will be much lessened by gradual exhaustion. It is evidently the policy of the Entente to force the Russian Workers' Republic to expend a maximum of energy at the countless fronts where the fighting is going on, and thus to transform their limited resources into means of destruction. Likewise everything has been attempted, on a large scale, to disorganize, by the basest means and bribery, the economic life of Russia, and the effort has been made to attain a complete isolation of Russia, materially as well as spiritually.

But precisely the great number of the fronts represents a breach in this isolation, and an active propaganda by newspapers and handbills is being maintained in six different languages. The astonishment of the prisoners of war who fall into the hands of the Bolshevik "robbers and bandits" is quite amusing, and groups of Communists speaking English and French are being organized, in order to develop the best elements among them into Propagandists for the Soviet Republic. It is hardly conceivable that French and English workers should permit themselves to be used in a new war for the destruction of the Socialistic Republic, which has no intention of making such a plan any too easy to carry out.

But passive resistance is not sufficient, and the delay of intervention is a dangerous proposition, Until a short time ago, time was an extremely favorable factor for the Russian Revolution. All that seemed necessary in order to establish the new régime immutably was time enough to build up and improve the organization of economic life. Gradually grain came in from the South, and it was again possible to depend on the iron industry of the Ural, and although the productivity of labor was still very unsatisfactory, a gradual improvement could nevertheless be noted very generally.

I have myself traveled around a bit in Russia in the last few months, particularly along the rivers and canals, visiting a number of cities, and all over there was obviously and unmistakably a slow but sure improvement in the economic life. And it was just the smaller communities, in which such a comparison can more easily be made, in which the best impression was received. It seemed as if the new life should ripen here, from the bottom up, into new forms, and should furnish, from the working classes, the new talents, capable of controlling even the more complicated apparatus of the central administration and of overcoming both the old and the new forms of bureaucracy, which are still spreading their influence, so destructive to the profitable development of energy.

All that seemed necessary in order to permit Russia to develop peaceably by herself was – time. But time may become a fatal factor if exhaustion on the countless fronts is to proceed hand in hand with a systematic undermining of the organization that has been built up with so much pains arid care. Already the intellectuals and the technical experts had, in the main, yielded to the inevitable. Although without much enthusiasm, and in many cases still practising passive or even active sabotage, they were again at their employments, now in the new Soviet institutions. But the agents of the Entente, who are still found in great numbers in this country, are attempting, by wild rumors and promises, to keep alive the hope for a change in the direction of reaction. And now that these questionable middle-class elements have wormed their way into all the portions of the Soviet Army, their sabotage has become all the more dangerous.

Of course they are opposed to foreign intervention, and both the Mensheviki and the Social-Revolutionists have publicly declared their opposition to it, and even declared themselves ready to aid the Communists, but with a few individual exceptions, such as that of Maxim Gorky, there is not much to be seen of their assistance. And for most of the members of the middle class, most hope seems still to be directed toward the Western "Democracies."

Not before these elements are replaced in the economic process by proletarian elements can the dictatorship of the workers be relinquished, can Socialism be realized.

But for the present much would be gained if the secret hope of intervention could be destroyed, and it is therefore the first and most urgent duty of the Western Proletariat to utter here a word that shall permit of no misinterpretation.

Before everything else let them spread the slogan: "Hands off Russia!" There shall be no troops sent, no ships; there shall be no diplomatic tricks, no dirty intrigues. If the workers in the West will speak clearly, and be ready to enforce their words with deeds, all the fronts directed against Russia will collapse like houses of cards, and the opposition and sabotage of the middle class will break down of itself.

The Russian Revolution is and will remain the point of departure of the World Revolution, which, in turn, holds the destiny of the Russian Revolution in its hands. The Russian working class will conquer this crisis as they have conquered previous crises, but the Western proletariat must not look on idly while the "democratic" imperialistic vampires undermine the foundations of the Russian Communistic Society by a systematic process of exhaustion.

"No intervention in Russia, either secret or open!" must be the irresistible demand in all countries: a demand that will not be heeded unless it is supported by the strongest pressure of revolutionary mass-action.

Moscow, December 1918.