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Labor Action, 12 May 1947


Foreign Marriage Ban in Russia
Embarrasses British Stalinists


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 19, 12 May 1947, p. 6.
Originally published in the British Socialist Appeal, Mid-April issue.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The capitalist press has seized on the refusal of the Soviet government to allow the fifteen wives who married British subjects to leave the Soviet Union.

A letter in Reynolds correctly points out they have not given like publicity to the plight of the children of American Negro soldiers in Britain who were not allowed to marry the mothers because of the reactionary regulations of the American Army. This campaign on the part of the capitalist press is shot through with hypocrisy.

Nevertheless, coming after the unprecedented and reactionary ban on marriages with foreigners, this petty and cruel action shows clearly the attitude of the Soviet bureaucracy toward the Russian masses.

The Daily Worker, in a frantic and embarrassed fashion, has tried to justify and whitewash this action of Russian bureaucrats by references to the tens of thousands of Russians in Germany, and by the printing of fantastic letters. So far as the Russians in Germany are concerned, there is no ban on their going home. And even if there was, does this justify the action of the Russian government?

One letter in the Daily Worker (10th April) printed without comment, is worthy of quoting. In justifying the ban, Rutland Baughton, Newent, Glos., writes:

“Until I began to think the matter out it seemed inhuman and likely to afford new arguments to anti-Soviet people here.

“Then these ideas came to my mind:

“1. The shorter endurance of emotions based on sex as compared with the emotions based on patriotism. In its first urgency, passionate love is capable of swamping patriotism.

“A large part of patriotism is connected with habits and customs, and if love is not reinforced by friendship, and the sympathies which arise in national traditions, a married woman may be very unhappy in a foreign country.

“The other day I heard a young woman (a foreign war-wife) weeping and asking to be sent back to her own country. We have enough divorce complications of our own without adding unhappy Russian brides to unhappy American brides.

“2. The possible bourgeois bias of the few Russian women preferring Englishmen, and especially Embassy officials, to their own countrymen. This is the only possibility with any’ sinister implications.

“The fact that so many Russian women fell in love with British Embassy officials may mean that such officials are especially lovable men. And at the time they were married it must certainly have seemed to them that those officials were as anti-fascist as themselves.

“Now that our Foreign Office seems to be pursuing an anti-Russian policy the wives may not even want to come here unless they themselves are anti-Soviet.

“Some day intermarriage among peoples will be free; but all sorts of difficulties will arise until the peoples themselves are free – especially from the sort of men who seem to be running our foreign policy today.”

That such a letter should be printed in a so-called “socialist” or “communist” paper is a disgrace. To any conscious socialist the letter speaks for itself.

Such an occurrence in Lenin’s day would have been impossible. But to the bureaucracy which has sent whole small republics, men, women and children, to Siberia, such a storm as has been provoked by action against fifteen people is surprising and unexpected.

No doubt the Stalinist bureaucracy could not visualize the disgust which such actions would evoke among the British workers. The important thing for them is that even fifteen people, not under their direct domination or tied to the bureaucracy through their jobs, would be dangerous. They might talk to their husbands’ friends and reveal the lack of workers’ democracy in the Soviet Union.

The episode is symbolic of the real attitude of the bureaucracy, which has nothing in common with Lenin’s ideas of what a workers’ state and workers’ democracy should be.

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