Published: The Communist, November 8, 1919, from L'Avanti.
Transcribed: for marxists.org in August, 2002.
YOU cannot form any idea of what is taking place here. One witnesses daily the miracle of re-organization of an old, decrepit and rotten system which only the new regenerative forces can put life into; one looks on at this work of constant renewal going on amidst attempts to boycott it, to sabotage and blockade it in all directions. The spectacle is infinitely inspiring; it fills you with pride; it revivifies your faith in human power and in the divine potency, of the ideal. With all kinds of material deficiencies and with a continuous struggle going on against the enemy without, a great creative work is nevertheless being undertaken in the domains of Science, art and the education of the masses and the new generations.
When the history of the times comes to be written, people will marvel how with such small numerical strength, we were able to resist, to rule and to regenerate an organism, so vast, complex, undermined and threatened with utter ruin. As regards the mere negative sides of the question which are being described to you with such abundance of lying and invented particulars, believe about a thousandth of what you hear. Then compare it with what is happening in other countries, and you will see that the consequences of the war are felt much less here than elsewhere: that, whilst under any: other regime they would soon have led to the complete decimation of those classes least capable of resistance to them, they are here supported and shared justly all around. Therefore, when they tell you that we are living in the midst of terror and assassinations, keep ever present before your minds the fact that never before have there been so few of the latter, as at present; as to the 'terror', it suffices to compare it with the few days of struggle in Germany and elsewhere to understand that here it has been a question of a very mild sort of struggle indeed, and of methods of work which are truly patriarchal. And knowing as you do how much my temperament rebels against violence, you may believe me when I tell you that the White terror is a thousand times more cruel, deliberate and treacherous, and that all the tales that you hear about the Red terror are just so many inventions. They have had the effrontery, intentional of course, to pass off as terrorism what wad merely legitimate self defense. The Lockhart trial suffices to show up the attempts that were made to damage not only us; but whole populations. I acted as translator in this trial, so I know what I am talking, about--the devilish plans to blow up bridges, to reduce tens of thousands of people to hunger. It was not only a question of mere political sabotage, but also of attempts on the lives of people, as witness, for example, the plot hatched against the people's commissaries. In the light of these facts look at the mildness of the sentence passed. Those most directly concerned in the plot escaped and the foreigner who had been proved guilty of espionage was allowed to remain here. The carrying out of the sentence was put off, with a view to an eventual exchange of prisoners. And this is the "Red terror"!
With regard to the defects in the State machinery, due to the lack of capable and conscientious co-workers, a severe and remorseless criticism is kept up in the Party's newspapers, constituting an aspiration towards self-betterment only possible to a revolutionary Government. The crux of the whole matter, in so far as internal politics are concerned, is that the Government and the Communists in general have to suffer the consequences and take the responsibility for the acts of enemies, of traitors, of impostors, who find their way into our ranks, of employees and officials who act contrary to the good faith, carry out acts of sabotage and strive by every means in their power to put obstacles in the way of normal life.
In spite of all this the country lives and is reconstructing itself; new organisations spring up, although the flower of the working-class must needs leave the work of public administration and go to the front. If you but knew with what joyful spirit sacrifice the work of recruiting goes on here.
I have been present at meetings of "Red" officers which, in the spirit of enthusiasm and courage shown, were truly religious in the best sense of the word. One always feels the difference between the war for the masters and this war, which is our war.
The people and their leaders are firmly convinced that the workers of other countries will not allow the Russian revolution to be drowned in blood, nor the German Revolution either, which through untold difficulties, is slowly steering towards victory. At the present time the fate of the peoples depends on the proletariat of the Entente. Encouraging news continues to reach us.