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Dark elms in deep June heat,
Eric Parker. The Spectator.
THOUGHTS ON THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.
It was made possible by the great stupid, more, blind, deaf, divided in war-strain. Two and a half years' himself. . The revolution is accomstruggle with Germany wore out the plished without even the birth of a system. It was so weak at last,
royalist movement, and without even the revolutionaries so skilful, that the prospect that the poor little boy there was no "bloody revolution." Alexis will be a Russian Prince Charles. The Tsar was removed almost, as it In 1902 Tolstoy wrote in a sort of were, by sleight of hand or magic. valedictory letter to Nicholas II that Suddenly the most mighty and mys- however good and wise a Tsar may terious monarch of the world, having be, he cannot rule 130 million subjects. fled from his capital, finds himself The rule was bound to pass out of his running about the streets of a wretched hands into' those surrounding him. provincial town unattended, unrever- A Tsar could not choose disinterested enced, and without mien or bearing; and able helpers, for he knew only a looking like a bewildered townsman few score men who through chance or who had lost his way. He goes into a intrigue had got near him, and were church full of peasants praying, falls careful to ward off all who might on his knees and weeps, prays ardently supplant them. Autocracy. was, in aloud, and then through his tears, asks reality an obsolete form of government, forgiveness of the worshipers. But And yet it. served in time of
peace; they for their part seem stupefied, not and the Tsar did find and use Stolypin quite able to understand who he is or and Sazonof and Bark and many what he means. He goes out into the another able man. It needed two and street once more. A company of a half years of war to show in practice soldiers passes: once they were Tsar- that the system was unfitting for the worshipers, making the sign of, the time, was in fact obsolete because of cross after singing the national anthem these defects which the ancient Tol -“God save the Tsar!" The emperor stoy adumbrated to his brother"
as salutes them --"Hail, my fine fellows!", he called him. But they do not return his salute or In the first splendor of the opening answer to his words. The Tsar was a of the war the Tsar never stood higher; gentle and religious monarch. But he obtained apparently complete forhad he been an Ivan Grozny or a Nero giveness for errors in the past. He one would have thought that the could dispense with his enormous bodyspectacle of the "sacred person" guard and the "ten thousand soldiers” abased would have evoked partisan- to guard him. The anthem was sung ship, the impulse of devotion, at least everywhere and by all classes on the in some; the Tsar's tears would have impulse. These was no hint of revolustarted into armed men, and such a tion. Fortune smiled on Russian arms, force risen behind him that the hand- and her victories and the heroic deeds ful of daring idealists and Socialist of individual soldiers cast a glamour agitators in Petrograd would have been from all Russia upon the throne. At swept away. But no! Fate and the the same time the remarkable vodka circumstances of the time and the prohibition appealed to Russian inaddition of war-sorrows and a strange telligence.,
telligence. Both heart and mind
i glimmering light of new destiny inter- acclaimed the Tsardom, and who vened, making the peasant more could have surmised that these splen
dors were evening splendors, that a Last summer in Russia I often heard melancholy twilight would succeed to the opinion expressed: the old army them, and then of a sudden the night has passed away, the army which we shutting off?
have now is quite a new one, and Yet so it happened. The diminuendo taken from a different class of people. of incapacity set in. Defeat in Poland It has far more artisans and middleshed a lurid light from the Western class people. There is a different horizon upon Petrograd, and showed spirit in it, and propaganda makes the little, incompetent men of office, great progress.
This partly though more and more dwarfed, more and not entirely explains the military more helpless. And then the strange support with which the change was Siberian peasant gained stature and carried out. Then the Conservatives, importance.
persistently called Reactionaries The Tsardom became so weak that abroad, freely backed the revolution, it could not look after its own ele- and some like M. Purishkeyevitch, mentary interests. It could not find “Right of the Right," as he called representatives to go to London and himself, gave passionate force to their Paris, but let its enemy Milyukof backing, and led the aristocrats against stand for Russia. It could not prop- the throne. They did so, not to agandize in the British and French establish a Republic, but a ConstituPress, but let all manner of dangerous tional Monarchy. Without their aid and anti-dynastic rumors, true and M. Kerensky and his colleagues would untrue, go unanswered. For months not be where they are. The British only revolutionary opinion regarding and French Governments also backed Russia was printed in the British the political conspiracy, believing in press. Our strongest Conservative the moderacy of its objects. And organs made the word "reactionary” beyond all these things one must serve instead of "conservative" suppose the time had come. All the far as Russia was concerned. Our forces in Europe tended one waypopulace became of opinion that the revolutionary idealism in Russia, miliTsar was making tremendous efforts tary necessity for Germany, business to secure a separate peace. Rasputin instinct in England, the money and was written up in various papers, and hate of the Jews, America's need to even the person of the Empress was reconcile half her alien population to not spared. There was not a word of the Allied Cause. So it was easy at remonstrance from official Russia. last, and Russia, which talks and The details of the plot to depose the talks, and yet never does, at last was Tsar and obtain a regency with a silent for three days and did. constitutional system were openly The Tsardom has gone, and there talked of in London, and there was a is little prospect of its return. Nicholas general assent both official and un- II is not a conspirator by nature, not official. On the other hand, news of ambitious. And his child has no Pacifists and pro-Germans in the future. If he had wished to regain revolutionary camp was carefully elim- power, the voluntary writing of his inated by censors or interested editors. own decree of abdication was most This, excepting the swiftness of the unlikely. That resignation liberates success of the rebellion, testifies more the thought and will of loyal Russia. than all else to the impotent state There is no question of the Constituent to which the government had been Assembly voting whether they will reduced.
have a Tsar. They will decide or try
to decide what form of democratic the day of the abdication of the Tsar, system Russia will adopt. And al- Russia has ceased to do anything though the fifteen million or so Old worth mentioning in the field of battle, Believers are said to be in favor of a and the desertions from the army Limited Monarchy, it is at present have been very great. From a peace unlikely that a monarchy will be point of view the new Russia with its established. Russia does not
characteristic ideals should, however, for compromise. Despite her admira- be helpful when the time comes. The tion of England she has none of the fall of Gutchkof and Milyukof in English love of caution and half- favor of extremer men bodes ill; the measures. One of her grievances rise of Kerensky is an unpleasant against Nicholas II was that he was so portent. He is, however, not a strong moderate in the use of his great power. man but a clever demagogue, and may Russia seems bound to plunge to the overdo his rôle of facing both ways. other extreme, namely, of democracy. On the whole one sees the worst types Russia is free. And what she is of politicians rising into power.
That free for is a much more interesting is the short view; the long view, question than what she is free from. though a maze of alternative wrong It is not a leisure time in history roads, is more hopeful. when we can afford to concern our- One of the first phenomena of the selves long with what has been and new Russia is a general rise in wages will be no more. It is a time of in- and an increase in the value of house creasing destruction, and the future property in the great cities. No diswhich we keep in view is a future of crimination is to be made in the rates the rebuilding of civilization. Russia's of wages paid to Chinese and other hour is come and she is put at large. alien laborers. The All eyes are upon her, expectant of higher than has ever been known in various things, of gain, of interest, of Russia, a rouble and a half and two inspiration, of revenge.
What then or even three roubles a day being paid is to be her future?
upon occasion for unskilled labor. On a long view I am completely The old sixty copecks a day wage optimistic. On a short view everyone vanishes. Henceforth the Russian must be anxious. The long view is workingman will be paid at the same the more interesting, but the short rate as his brother laborers in other view more pressing. In considering European countries, and with the rise the latter, there is the urgent ques- of Russian industry after the war his tion, Will Russia make a separate wage should rise above even that peace? Personally I do not think level. One of the first meanings of she will, however extreme and un- free Russia is that Russia has become representative her Government may free for commercial exploitation. There become. It would be too difficult to is no longer the drag on business imfind terms that would satisfy Poles, posed by the old régime. It will be Jews, Germans, Letts, Little Russians, possible to get the coal out of the and so forth. But I think Russia's ground, to lay the necessary rails to military effort is virtually at an end. run whole new forests of timber to the From an immediate war point of view rivers. Capital will be forthcoming for the Revolution is unfortunate. For it the development of the butter industry turns out there are far more pro- on a hitherto undreamed-of scale. RusGermans on the revolutionary side sian sugar will undersell all other than on that of the court. And from European sorts. She will begin to
supply herself with all the raw cotton better spread over å vaster area, and she requires: the mills will capture she has ready access to the millions of almost the entire market of Asia. Dis- China and less prejudice against them. coveries of gold in Siberia will multiply, But one result of the revolution will and swarms of diggers follow. Great be to draw back population from the companies like that of the Lena and remote parts of Asiatic Russia and Kishtim will be formed for the exploita- cause an emptying in vast regions. tion of Russia's marvelous wealth of What sort of Russia would that be? copper, zinc, lead, silver, platinum, It would be gay and thrilling, very asbestos, naphtha, etc. A frozen immoral, very extravagant. The music meat and canning industry will be halls of Moscow would outshine with established and express itself in Chi- their star-constellations 'the Coliseum cagos of the East. The wool and and the Palace of London and all the horsehair of the innumerable herds of shows of Broadway in New York. the nomads will find better markets. There would be bosses and trusts and In commercial significance what land Tammany and graft and the fight çan compare with Russia? Virginal against them, though the problems America did not offer a richer return. would be always greater and more Without a Tsar. Russia is the land of complex. A certain Anglo-Saxon genius opportunity, and not only the land of for simplicity has stood America in opportunity for Russians, but for all good stead. But there is no gunius enterprising Europeans;; British, Ger- fori simplicity in Russia. The people mans, Belgians, Americans, Japs. It love complexity. , Russian psychology is there, after the war, that the vul- must be taken into account, and first tures, will be gathered together.
and foremost comes this instinct for Of surety, despite Russia's complexity and with it an anarchic wretched present state materially, temperament that loves to escape from she becomes prosperous without' par- its own imbroglios by extreme action; allel within ten years of the coming then an extreme curiosity, and wish to of peace, attracting all“ speculators experience new things, an adventureand : investors and fortune-seekers, someness with regard to Providence, the commercial counter-balance in lack of the power of moral restraint, the east of America in the west.
and a Tartar instinct for spending a Possibly more than that.; If Russia long time over business. ' A Russia decides to be free for all commercial that will attract materialists, not a enterprise she should offer 'greater. Russia attracting idealists. The Tsarattractions than America. The flow dom putting itself 'first, the army of European emigration to the United second, the Church' third, and comStates should turn the other way merce fourth or fifth, at least exhibited into Russia, and a great cosmopoli- to foreigners the ideal side of the Rustanization of certain parts of it set in, sian people and drew pilgrims from America being fed merely from the the West. But the business republic English Isles and colonies, and thus would attract seekers after "real" obtaining the necessary leisure to gold, not after spiritual gold. crystallize nationally and achieve her The choice of taking this prosperity own cultural and spiritual ideals.
would seem obvious to the Western Russia if she chooses can become a world. And possibly Russia, seeking great business republic, at first thought to identify herself with the West, will an even greater one than that of the take it. Gréat; pressure will be brought U.S.A., because her population is on her to take it. The foundations of