Gareth Jones

[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]

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The Morning Post. Thursday 8th June 1933

RUSSIA REVEALED

IV.  How World is Deceived: Art of Gulling our Intelligentsia

By MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE 

Below we publish the last of four remarkable articles on the present situation in Russia by Mr. Malcolm Muggeridge, who recently acted for eight months as the Moscow Correspondent of an English Liberal newspaper. 

Mr. Muggeridge went to Russia a convinced and enthusiastic Communist, lie came away entirely disillusioned about the Soviet regime.  He has drawn a faithful and terrible picture of the human suffering under existing conditions, and has described his own disillusionment in moving and memorable words. 

FINAL ARTICLE 

It is absurd to be angry about the Soviet Regime looked back at a decent distance, it will seem, I am sure in keeping with the general course of Russian history. Lenin had much in common with Peter the Great, and the methods, even the character, of Stalin, make an interesting parallel with Ivan the Terrible. 

Russia has never been governed by anything but a military dictatorship in one form or another, and the population has been used for centuries to terroristic methods.  The peculiar feature of Bolshevik rule is that it has extended the application of these methods to everyone and to every department of life.  This, precisely, will be the cause of its ultimate downfall. 

Even military dictatorships require a certain amount of popular support and a certain economic justification in the sense of being able to provide a majority of the population with the minimum necessaries of life.  The dictatorship of the proletariat fulfils neither condition.  It is, apart from small ruling class and the Red Army, universally detested; and with all the resources of a great grain producing country t its disposal, it cannot provide even the relatively inconsiderable town populations with bread. 

A foreign war would be fatal to it because the army would have to reckon not only with the enemy in front but with a hundred million famished, infuriated peasants in the rear. 

None-the-less, everything suggests that when the Soviet régime falls it will be followed by one as intolerable on civilised European standards.  I understand that the émigrés have all ready, in the event of a counter-revolution taking place, an organisation to inherit, through tile direct descent of the G.PU., the functions and traditions of the Okhrana. 

If, however, it is absurd to be angry about the Soviet régime, it is not absurd to recognise the dangers inherent in its international pretentious, or to point out the contemptible and dangerous folly of those outside Russia who accept such pretensions at their face value.  No one has a greater contempt than your Bolshevik for the outlook and character of reformist-pacifist-humanitarian-revolutionaries; and no one has developed to a finer pitch the art of gulling them. 

THE DUPES 

People who have spent all their lives in pouring out righteous indignation about housing conditions in English industrial towns refer gaily to the congestion in Moscow - congestion so appalling that, as a Russian explained to me once, no one, apart from the privileged few, has a moment of privacy from one year’s end to another - as “camping out.” 

Scientists with international reputations accept with naive simplicity the validity of statistics that a knowledge of elementary arithmetic would show to be preposterously false. 

Pacifists who have laboured mightily to propagate the ideals of the League of Nations watch ferocious military displays in the Red Square with tears of appreciative emotion in their eyes, and enthusiastically applaud outbursts of fanatical bellicosity. 

Ex-Cabinet Ministers, not confined to one political party, talk appreciatively of the stability of the rouble when, so low is Its purchasing power, you can buy great parcels of Soviet currency notes for a few pounds or dollars, arid expect a poverty stricken, starving population, whose only thought and hope is to get a little bread, to prove in the immediate future a lucrative market for manufactured goods. 

Reputable economists express the belief that a government forced, in order to meet its existing obligations, to scavenge the last fragments of precious metal left in the Country by the methods, I have already described, will be prepared, given gentle treatment, to do profitable business with British manufacturers. 

Tender-hearted maternity experts find matter only for complacency in children so debilitated by under-nourishment that it will take, on a moderate estimate, three generations for the nation to recover its virility. 

Men of letter - Oh, men of letters! - sit through plays so tiresome, so vapid, so pretentious, that painstaking audiences in provincial repertory theatres would hoot hem off the stage, and return to their native countries to write enthusiastic articles about revolutionary drama and revolutionary art, and the birth of a new civilisation, and the new aesthetic and moral and spiritual values that are emerging from the travail of the dictatorship of he proletariat. 

Journalists - but why should I say anything about journalists?  As I have explained in an earlier article in the “ Morning Post,” journalism in Moscow is, by the nature of the case, a racket: and let whoever has not racketeered for a living throw he first stone. 

DEPLORABLE RESULTS 

I must admit that all this makes me angry if only because, as retailed in articles and lectures and conversations, it awoke certain hopes and illusions which a visit to Russia painfully dispelled.  It is a kind of hypocrisy, or at least stupidity, whose consequences, both inside and outside Russia, are deplorable. 

Outside Russia, where, unhappily, there are so many victims of economic distress, it turns peoples eyes hopefully towards something which, at the best, will prove a terrible disappointment to them, and, at the worst, their complete undoing; inside Russia it serves to bolster up a savage and unscrupulous tyranny, and to mock a population whose sufferings pass comprehension. 

Perhaps it has never occurred to those intellectual Communists who enjoy, in Bloomsbury, all the privileges and comforts of a bourgeois existence in a capitalist society, and who, after a short conducted tour, praise ecstatically, at so many guineas a thousand voids, a régime that has made life intolerable, when it has not slaughtered, their like in Russia that there are unfortunates who take what they write seriously; who, having little enough to lose, go with their families am their belongings to start life again a soviet citizens in the classless proletarian paradise about which they have read, and for whom disillusionment is a more serious matter than the abandonment of an intellectual creed.  Yet this is the case. 

Every year some thousands of Americans and Europeans cross the Soviet frontier; are mostly forced or persuaded to take Soviet citizenship, and then spent their time trying to recover their old nationality.  They are not, it may be imagined, very amiably disposed toward the author or lecturer or politician who first put the project into their heads.  The consulates in Moscow are fully occupied with such cases.  I did not meet in Russia one genuinely working-class foreigner who had come to live there who did not bitterly regret having done so. 

WILFUL BLINDNESS? 

How, it may be wondered, is the trick done?  How does the Soviet Government manage so completely to gull the flower of Europe’s intelligentsia? Heaven knows!  The properties at its disposal are meagre enough, and the cast a sorry one; yet the fact remains that educated people will have stayed in Moscow, and who have travelled over the Ukraine, return home with golden tales of achievement and prosperity. 

I can only assume that delight at finding their aspirations approved by a Government with unlimited power blinds them robs them of all their judgment, intoxicated them, so that, like Caliban, they hear only sounds arid sweet airs, a million joyous hammers building socialism, and fail to notice either the wilderness that has come into existence at the same time of the starving slaves who populate it. 

Socialist salesmanship - a ghastly combination of Semitic servility and American slickness and Marxist arrogance - carries them over Russia from one show factory or school or farm or waterworks to another, without their seeing anything of the intervening spaces. 

Perhaps, too, I sometimes thought, they shut their eyes wilfully because, after having for so long been voices crying in the wilderness, they dare not admit even to themselves that the ruthless application of their ideas produces such disastrous results; because, in their secret souls, they would like to be a dictator of the proletariat - something apart, all-powerful, destroying what they could never dominate, tearing up by the roots a life in which they have never shared, and then building in the desert they have made a great, planned, Marxist, useless pyramid, marking at once the end of civilisation and the realisation of their dreams. 

I have written these articles because I believe them to be true.  I tm not a reactionary on the contrary have the deepest sympathy with, and admiration for, the working-class movement in this and other countries.  It is, indeed, because the Soviet Government is, in the most absolute sense of the word, reactionary that I hate it so bitterly; and it is because I know that any association between it and the working-class movement in England must be fatal for the latter that I shall, on every possible occasion and in the most vehement terms I can command, expose its pretensions, especially as they are echoed idiotically by its foreign admirers. 

Only half-wits can look forward to the future with any great complacency; but one thing I am convinced of - no worse fate can befall a people than to fall into the hands of a set of professional revolutionaries; barbarians whose minds are full of disorderly dreams of Marxist utopias and American prosperity and world conquest; a dictatorship of the proletariat and its “flaming sword.” 

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