How the Soviets Work


Vladimir is a lithe town in the heart of Russia, so far from everywhere that one feels, as one of Gogol's characters might say, that you might drive for years from it without coming to a frontier. One reaches it over endless plains of snow, in which nothing seems to change save that birchwoods alternate with firwoods. You read for an hour in the train, look out and wonder whether you have moved, so same is the white landscape. But Vladimir is unique in two respects. It stands on a low ridge of dwarf hills and it has two ancient cathedrals, a fortress which once was a bishop's palace, and a stern, massive town gate, which one might mistake for Norman work. Here in the Middle Ages dwelt the first rulers of Russia. today it is the capital of a "Government" (county) and the center of all the administrative and cultural work of a. big district which combines textile manufacture with agriculture. I had spent a fortnight here in 1920, and I was eager to study the progress it had made in six years and a half.

The little town is not much altered, so far as brick and mortar go. The same rambling streets have the same untidy individuality in their shops and houses and spacious public buildings-for no one seems to measure space in this vast country. But in 1920 only half a dozen shops were open for a few hours daily, and then the shutters went up, to signify that their stocks had given out. today every shop is open and crowded, and every window is full of goods. Then one counted the rare peasants' carts rolling slowly behind their half-starved nags. Now, on the frozen snow which lies four feet deep in the roadway, the crowding sledges dash at break-neck speed, for the horses are young and well fed. Then one saw young men only in the regiments which assembled here to march to the Crimea for the last struggle of the Civil War. Now the young men are civilians once more. One meets them in the van of every public activity, and their energy has quickened the pace of life and thought. Then there was but one topic of conversation-food. A distracted administration counted day by day the grain that was left for distribution. Good citizens struggled to supplement their siege rations through the lawful channel of the Cooperatives. Less scrupulous citizens bribed and intrigued and smuggled and speculated to satisfy their gnawing hunger. Now no one mentions food, unless it be to invite the guest to an abundant table. The haunting look of anxiety is gone; the children who play in the snow are round-faced and chubby. There is an endless round of amusements -from solemn debates to cinemas-in the clubs and theatres of the little town. Life is cheerful and even jolly.

A hard struggle lies behind this new phase of prosperity. Vladimir has worked. One realizes as one reads election manifestos and debates that politics, in our sense of the word, have vanished from Russia. Each Soviet, from Moscow to the remotest village, has one practical goal before it-to increase the output of industry and to draw richer harvests from the soil. These are the politics of the beehive. In spite of her backwardness, in spite of her poverty, and in spite even of the relics of her old illiteracy, short of machines, short of skilled workers and technicians, hampered by the old habits of careless; unorganized work, the will of Russia is bent upon these concrete tasks with a hopeful concentration unique in this world of ours. She is still poor. She is still backward. With all that she has done, she has not yet raised herself within sight of the Western European level. But the rate and promise of her relative progress stagger an observer who saw her plight, as I saw it, in 1920.

I retain a vivid memory of a visit then to the biggest factory of the neighborhood-the cotton mill of Sobinka, which lies deep in the endless forest, thirty versts from the town. Then the mill stood still-there was no cotton to spin. The young men were at the front. The older men were employing their time in putting drains into an unspeakably foul and miserable barrack dwelling-more like a prison than a home-which dated from the bad old days. They had built a wooden theatre and a narrow-gauge railway, and, short of books and clothing, of drugs and even of pencils, they had improvised a school for children and adults, and a creche for the workers' babies. Now the place is barely recognizable. A big new mill, spacious, well ventilated and well equipped, has risen not far from the old one. Both are now running on electric power instead of steam. The creche has expanded, and trained nurses attend to the children in a building as spacious as it is spotlessly clean. A doctor educated in France, one of a staff of twelve, showed me over a model dispensary, and then, as if that were not enough, led me to the permanent hospital, than which I think one could ask nothing better in the West. A handsome and comfortable cooperative restaurant, which would seat thousands of workers, was ready for its formal opening the following week. An ingenious mechanical and chemical filter purified the water of the river, which formerly, with all its impurities, was the only supply. The wooden theatre was gone, and in its place was a big hall and club of brick, with its classroom, its library, and its gymnasium. The barrack-prison dwelling, which used to house families, is now clean and well lit at least, but it houses only single men. For families there have risen block after block of well-built flats, and, what is better still, a garden village is growing in the forest. The trans-formation seemed to me miraculous. It would be credit-able in the wealthy West. It is a portent in poor Russia.

Sobinka was a little in advance of anything else that I happened to see in Russia. But everywhere one saw something of the same kind. The improvement since 1920 is everywhere visible. The sense of movement and progress in the minds of the Russian masses is one of the most potent reasons "why the Soviet works." The foreigner who comes into Russia with his Western standards is painfully impressed by the general poverty, the gaps in organization, the untidiness, degenerating at its worst into squalor, which reflect the Slavonic temperament. The average Russian has no such measures in his head, for he has never seen German farms flourishing like well-kept gardens, or Dutch towns orderly as a Victorian drawing-room. He realizes only that life is more comfortable and wealth more abundant than it was some years ago. His experience of the past teaches him to be an optimist about the future. The prevalent mood is one of buoyancy and ambition. The. workers seldom realize that, in material things at least, their comrades in the industrial West are decidedly more fortunate. They only know that in Russia it required a revolution to win the amenities which they enjoy. One could have no surer basis for loyalty and patience, than this reasoned conviction that the system which has already brought so many gains to workers and peasants, has in itself the potentiality of a still greater development.

The gains surely won are already considerable, and they touch the most powerful springs in human nature. The peasants have what all land-workers desire; they count their acres their own. That desire was for them a primitive passion, which ranks among their physical instincts, so deep is it, so closely linked with the sensations of hand and feet, as they spread out the roots of their seedlings in the soil, or tramp through the furrows behind the plough. The true countryman feels for the soil a love comparable to the ties that bind him to wife and child, a passion that can heal when it is satisfied, and corrode when it goes hungry. One has no measure of their satisfaction when one reckons their gain in roubles. We mistake the mood of Russia profoundly when we think of it only as a country of radicalism and revolution. The instinct bred in the placid solitudes of these great plains is one of conservatism which will tend to hold and keep what has been won. Every enemy of the Soviet system is now, for the peasants, a foe who seems to be jeopardizing their possession of the soil.

One may rank next, among the pillars on which the system reposes, the contentment of the former subject races of the Russian Empire. When one goes back in memory to the years before 1917, the anger and humiliation of these races was the deepest note in the massed chorus of discontent. So vocal was it, and so justly entitled to sympathy, that one was in danger of forgetting the suffering of the Great Russian majority. today these complaints have vanished so completely, that one is apt to forget that Russia ever had a racial problem. It is true that the disease has been cured in part by amputation. Poland and the Baltic Republics shook them-selves free. But the big Ukrainian population remains, with the White Russians, the Jews; the Tartars and Turks of various stocks, the Caucasian peoples, and the primitive tribes of Siberia and Central Asia. In the matter of cultural rights and the facility with which their abler men attain to power, alike in the local and in the federal administration, not a shadow of a grievance remains. One may doubt, as one watches this development, whether the forcing of national cultures which were extremely backward and promise to add little or nothing to the intellectual wealth of humanity, is an unmixed gain either to these peoples or to Russia. One may ask whether assimilation to the higher culture is not preferable, where it can be carried through with-out arousing any sense of wrong in the backward race. But any doubt on this score is swept aside as one witnesses the working of the new stimulus of a satisfied and unaggressive nationalism among such a race as the Tartars. As an essay in political wisdom, few States can show any model to compare with it, for while the French Canadians and the South African Dutch have the same full enjoyment of cultural rights and a much larger local autonomy, the structure of the British empire is too loose to allow them the same share of power at the center, which the non-Russian races of the Soviet Union possess. By this broad-mindedness the Russians have won peoples, where the Czar had conquered territories.

But the greatest of all the gains of the Revolution, which affects peasants and workers, Russians and non-Russians alike, is the change of status and the widening of opportunity which have come to the immense working majority of the population. One may define this in two ways. In the first place, it means for every man and woman who possesses any energy of mind or ambition, that he or she may "rise," as nineteenth century individualists would have put it, to any position, however exalted, in the State or in industry. Some partial precedents will occur to every reader. It was said of the French revolutionary army, which proved its superiority to every other after Valmy, that every conscript carried a Field-Marshal's baton in his knapsack. The United States has had a Lincoln at the White House and the proverbial millionaire who started life as a newspaper boy. In great Britain, and, indeed, in all the more advanced democracies of Europe, Socialist leaders, who were often in their early days manual workers, have risen to be Ministers of State. But in all these cases it was only the exceptional men who rose. They quitted their class in the process, and acquired the outlook and habits of the class which they entered. In Russia pro-motion of this kind is rather the rule than the exception. It is actually easier for a manual worker, if he has good brains and some capacity for study and self-discipline, to rise, as an elected member of the Soviets, to high influence and eventually to high office, than for an "intellectual" to win his way. Within the governing caste of the Communist Party, it is a handicap to a member that his, father before him was a well-educated man, or that he himself, under the old regime, enjoyed a university education. In the army it is now normal that the commanders (one must not call them "officers") should be the sons of workers or peasants. It is, indeed, only in the offices of the General Staff that any trace of the old atmosphere remains. In industry (as we have seen) half the directors of textile factories are former workmen. In fact, it is no longer necessary for a man of humble origin to struggle in order to rise. His fellows are eager to push him upwards. The depressing sense that a hundred obstacles lie in his path has vanished. He is part of a well-organized social system which, first by its educational facilities, its classes in the factory, its rab-facs (workers' colleges), and the open door to the university, and then by its processes of election, will help him onwards at every step in industry, in the army, in the professions, on the judicial bench, and in every branch of the public administration. The difference is more than one of degree. Russia is a Workers' Republic, and that can be said of no other State on earth.

The same fact may be seen in another light. The Revolution has removed the heaviest obstacle to the full development on its soil of the human race. It has done for every child born in the working class what the mod-ern emancipation of women has begun to do for every girl. This child is no longer depressed in every hour of his years of mental and physical growth by the sense that he belongs to a third-rate grade of humanity. He sees no longer, as he goes to school, that the higher studies are reserved for children of a more fortunate origin. The whole world of culture stretches open before him. It cannot occur to him that the higher delights of music or literature or the sciences are a preserve fenced off from his rough-shod feet. Nor when he dreams, as every child should, of the things which he will do in the world, will it ever enter his mind to shrink from the noblest and most daring vision that beckons, because he was born in a worker's tenement or a peasant's cot. That painful sense of a predestined inferiority, which was for the average young worker a weight which he carried with acquiescence, and for the abler worker a corroding jealousy and a distorting "complex"-this has vanished from Russia with the imperial eagles. It is difficult for those of us who have been born without this handicap, to conceive its massive effects throughout the history of our race, in limiting the growth of human faculty, and in preventing the mass of mankind from attaining the full stature, mental and physical, of which it is capable. This handicap will always work, where society is a pyramid. The greatest thing which the Revolution has done has been to remove it. To me it seems so great a thing that the ugliness and the cruelties, the losses and the mistakes, weigh light in the scale against it. Even the absence of full political liberty, as the West practises it, is a small loss compared with this inestimable gain of social freedom.

In attempting to cast Russia's horoscope, we may say then, that the greatest of all human problems has been solved-the problem of social freedom. The political problem appears to be in a phase of transition-the Dictatorship is broadening its base and feeling for a new technique of democracy, which may preserve it from violent shocks for many years to come. It is not in any aspect a problem so acute that it absorbs public attention. Politics, as we have seen, have been eaten up by economics. Purely political issues, like the perennial struggle of the lay view of life and education with the Catholic view, which never cease to influence French politics, have ceased to count in Russia. The pace and extent of Russian progress and, in the long run, the permanence of the present system, depend now, mainly and perhaps solely, on the economic development.

The one need which overshadows every other is to bring about a rapid accumulation of capital. One shrinks from any estimate of the staggering figure which would be required to lift Russia, within the life of this generation, to the Western level. She must reconstruct all but three or four roads in her gigantic territory; she must rehouse her whole population; she must equip most of her factories, workshops, and mines with new machinery; the peasants must be endowed with a complete outfit of implements and more satisfactory breeds of cereals, fodder plants, live-stock, and horses. New rail-ways and canals must be built, and the promising development of electricity speeded up. And when all this has been done, there remains to be undertaken the development of her unexploited wealth of forests and minerals, the opening up of Siberia and the far North of European Russia, and the reclamation of immense reaches of Central Asia by irrigation.

Hitherto Russia has hoped to drain much of the necessary capital for these purposes from foreign sources. That was the underlying object of the treaty concluded with the British Labor Government, which lapsed after the Zinoviev election; it runs through the pending negotiations with France. But there is really only one source from which an adequate supply of capital can be obtained-the United States. The prevalent mood seemed to me to have changed in the last two years. Russians no longer reckon on the probability of any early supply of foreign capital; they face the consequences of the political hostility of the capitalist world. They have realized that the test of their own economic policy will be its ability to furnish them with native sources of capital. Their own production, in other words, must show a surplus which can be used either to purchase machinery abroad, or to pay the labor which will produce it at home.

This surplus may appear in Russian budgets in various forms. It may be a balance on foreign trading, which can be applied at once to purchase foreign plant; in this case it will come from the sale of grain, flax, timber, and other natural products. It may be a profit on the working of the nationalized industries. It may be derived from taxation, or we may say that taxation must be maintained at a certain level before the profits of socialized industry and trading can be applied to re-productive purposes. Actually, the greater part of the new capital accumulated in Russia is to be sought in the budgets of the autonomous Trusts, which apply their surpluses to the purchase of new machinery and the building of new factories.

Another possible source, though it is not yet consider-able, lies in private savings. Plainly, neither the town workers nor the members of the underpaid professions can save much, if anything. But the more prosperous peasants do save and hoard a little. Accordingly one finds, in such a district as Vladimir, that the Communist Party is actually launching "a campaign for the encouragement of thrift." The iconoclasts of 1917 would have been startled if they could have foreseen this development. State lotteries for the raising of loan capital have become a popular feature of Soviet life.

The Communist State revealed its inexperience and its ignorance of practical economics by the methods which it adopted to accumulate capital. Working within a closed market which, after the war and the civil war, had an unlimited need for almost every product of industry, it sought its surplus by the elementary method of high prices. It passed and is, in reality, still passing through the phase which economic historians describe as "the primitive accumulation of capital." It really supposed that the more it charged the more it would make. Even the Cooperative Societies often worked on this principle, and would show profits of one hundred percent and even more. Experience rarely seemed to pull it up sharply, or to confront it with big stocks of unsalable goods. Its entire system ambled along on this low level. Wages were scandalously low, and yet labor, measured by its efficiency, was costly. The personnel was extravagantly large. Work was done by hand which in every other country was done by machinery. The standard of individual output was low. The organization was wasteful, bureaucratic, and unduly centralized. But this waste could be paid for out of the excessive prices. And, though wages were low, the market was still in extent so vast that the effective demand seemed to be always in excess of the supply.

Skilled labor was in many trades as short as the supply of up-to-date machinery. But Russian industry in many branches exacts a high degree of skill, for the di-vision of labor has made small advances. A Russian tailor is expected to be an expert in every operation which goes into the making of a suit, where an American tailor will confine himself to making the button-holes. A Russian engineer may have to work at every process that goes to the fashioning of a machine tool. Naturally, on this relatively small output, per man and per machine, the surplus was much smaller than it would have been with a modern system of mass production, low prices, and high wages.

Plainly, the entire organization of industry requires drastic reconstruction. But the starting point must be a change of policy in the matter of prices. When once the idea is firmly grasped that the crying need for new capital can best be met by a great output of low-priced goods, the old world organization will be compelled to adapt itself to the change. And with the more rapid accumulation of capital, there will follow also an in-crease in the real wealth and the real wages of the Russian population. The process of adjustment cannot be rapid, though on a small scale it is already perceptible. But the great advance which Russia has made within the last year is, that the men who control the State have grasped the new principle, and are consciously struggling to pass beyond "the primitive stage of accumulation."

This question of the price level and the accumulation of capital was the substantial issue in the controversy of last year within the Communist Party between Trotsky, Zinoviev, Radek, and their friends, on the one hand, and the official majority led by Stalin, Bucharin, and Rykoff on the other. It ran a course characteristic of Russian and Communist ways of thought, for it was not decided on purely economic grounds. Trotsky's group started by enunciating the proposition that it was impossible for any single State to attain socialism. This may well be the orthodox Marxist position. It was certainly the belief from which Lenin and the pioneers of the Russian revolution started, and there is much to be said for it, when it is applied to a country so back-ward as Russia in its economic development. Two conclusions would have followed from the adoption of this thesis. In the first place, the objective of Russian policy must have been defined as the promotion of the world revolution, and at any cost consistent with self-preservation, nay, even at the risk of national suicide, the development of Russia must have been postponed in the service of this wider end. Any Russian surplus would have been used for the Red Army and for International propaganda, and the backwardness of Russian industry would have been excused, on the ground that eventually, in the Socialist world-State of the future, her needs would be satisfied with the products of German and British industry.

The second conclusion concerned domestic policy. Since one could no longer think of Russia as a State which could hope to have a Socialist structure while she stood alone, her urban workers, who must be the active force in promoting the world revolution, emerged from this reasoning as a favored class, and there could be no objection of principle to the exploitation of the peasantry. However odious such a course might be in a Socialist State, it was plainly impracticable to apply Socialist morals to Russia. The right course, then, was to raise the wages and promote the progress of the town workers frankly at the expense of the peasants. In plain words, the Opposition advocated a still higher price level for the products of Russian industry. Something, in-deed, might be saved by curtailing retailers' profits, but the Opposition was prepared to continue the system by which the peasant must exchange his produce, which is sold abroad at world prices, for industrial products priced at a much higher level. Zinoviev, in particular, made a demagogic appeal to class egoism of the urban workers, and protested against any coddling of the peasants. Some members of this school advocated the unlimited, or, at all events, the more extensive importation of foreign manufactures, subject to heavy taxation, which would have maintained prices.

The Majority (as some complain) may have used the party machine to weigh the odds against the Opposition. However this may be, few reasonable men outside Russia will doubt that the Majority was in the right, on grounds alike of economic and political wisdom. Its victory, so far as I can judge, was also a triumph for Russian public opinion. The thesis that a single State cannot hope to realize Socialism was rejected-partly on the ingenious plea, advanced by Bucharin, that such an admission would discourage the workers in other countries from attempting revolution. Each would wait till all were ready for the grand; universal effort. But, dialectics apart, the real reason for the rejection of this proposition was that Russians, sincerely internationalist though their outlook may be, are primarily bent on developing Russia, and preserving the gains of their Revolution. Their policy is not yet a consistent whole. They have risked, and will continue to risk, much for certain international ends, above all for the promotion of the Chinese Revolution. But, in spite of compromises, one cannot doubt that their governing purpose-the purpose, moreover, which is destined to exert an ever-growing influence on their policy, is to promote the good of their own population and to develop their immense territory. Axiomatic though such a definition of purposes may seem to many readers, it was not so for Russians; its frank adoption as the result of this controversy marks a break with the past and the opening of a new epoch.

The further consequences which follow from the rejection of the Opposition's theses are no less important. In the first place, the governing party has reaffirmed its faith in Lenin's policy towards the peasants. It will endeavor to preserve the unity of workers and peasants, and, while the peasants are never likely to enjoy equal power with the workers in shaping the course of the Soviet Union, the workers are well aware that they dare not place their own material interests before those of the peasants. Their leaders feel themselves to be trustees for this relatively inarticulate and unorganized mass of humanity. It matters little whether it be Socialist morals or political expediency which dictates this attitude. The peasants may be inert; they may lack constructive thinkers and political leaders of their own order; but they have a formidable capacity for obstruction and passive resistance. Their discontent can dislocate the whole machinery, and frustrate all hope of economic progress, by delaying the growth of an export-able surplus. They can, in the last resort, bring the towns to reason by a mere refusal to produce for them, as they did at the close of the Civil War. Finally, with-out the active loyalty of the peasants, the Red Army would become an unreliable weapon. On all these grounds, the goodwill of the peasants is as essential as that of the workers. Had this controversy ended in any other conclusion, the Soviet system would have had some perilous years in front of it, and might have perished under the strain.

The rejection of the Opposition's economic reasoning had more than a negative result. It compelled the Majority to examine the basis of their present practice. The decision followed that the complaints of the peas-ants must be met, and the bold resolution was formed to bring down the cost of industrial goods ten percent by June of the present year. Some progress in this direction has already been made, but it is very doubtful whether the whole of this big reduction can be achieved by the appointed date. The pressure of the cooperatives will be used to reduce the profits of retail trade. The danger of this new phase is still that Russians think too much of economy as the means of effecting reductions of cost, and rely too little on reorganization. But the automatic effect of lower prices and the higher purchasing power of the masses will make itself felt by compelling a resort to mass production. The abler men are thinking on these lines, and see the advantage of small profits spread over a large output. The minds of the lesser men move more slowly, and the development will be hampered at every turn by the lack of capital and credit and skilled labor. None the less it has begun. It will mean, as it proceeds, not only a more rapid accumulation of capital, but a progressive increase in the wealth and comfort of the population. On this development, more than on anything else, the future of Russia depends.

There are, however, other factors which may influence the future development of Russia. She is running a grave peril by her unworthy treatment of the "intelligentsia." The emigration after the Civil War, while it relieved her of a useless and parasitic class, did deprive her also of many professional men, or many experts in industry and engineering, and of some artistic and literary men, whose talents, if the Communist Party had been wiser and more tolerant, might still be working in her service. A few of these men, like the composers Medtner and Prokofiev, have recently returned. Still more disastrous were the consequences of the attitude which the victorious workers adopted, in the first years of the Revolution, towards the intellectuals who remained. They were made to feel their impotence too painfully. Teachers, in particular, often felt this acutely in their own sphere. Nor is it, I think, unjust to say that the less generous and far-sighted of the victors took pleasure in depressing the standards of the educated class.

In some directions this policy has been reversed. The Communist Party soon learned that neither in industry nor in the army could it dispense with the talent and experience of men trained under the old regime. It had to employ these "specialists" and they receive what are in Russia high salaries. But the fact remains that the mass of the educated men and women in the public service are scandalously underpaid. Teachers of the lower grade average about 40 roubles a month, and country doctors about 5o roubles. These are the wages of an unskilled laborer. The first obvious consequence, which ought to be clear even to the most narrow partisan, is that the education of his own children and the health of the country population will suffer, if these all-important duties are entrusted to a depressed and discontented class which must live without ambition, hope, or comfort, in conditions which starve its mental life. The second consequence is that the whole intellectual life of Russia will suffer, if the class which hitherto has maintained its standards is allowed to sink into this hopeless condition.

It is a great and glorious thing to raise the cultured level of the workers, and to open the door of opportunity to their children. But, for at least a generation to come, Russia cannot afford to undervalue the contribution of the men trained under the old order, nor can she dispense with the aid of the children of this class. The same schools may be open to all, but for some decades yet, the children of well-educated parents must enjoy a natural advantage. They grow up with canons of taste, with standards of work, with a wide and sensitive outlook, which only the most exceptional of the workers' children can hope to acquire within the first generation.

There was in the early years of the Revolution an alarming decline in the standards which the universities exacted. There has been a marked improvement in recent years, but some professors of high standing are still pessimistic about the future. Even when one revels in the artistic life of Moscow, exuberant as it is in creative vitality, one feels that its foundation is precarious. This educated class, with its trained sensibilities, is maintaining itself with difficulty. It is struggling with grinding poverty. It sees the future of its children with deep anxiety. A more generous policy towards the "intelligentsia," and especially towards the teachers, professors, and doctors, would in the long run foster the creative powers of the New Russia, enrich its intellectual life, and quicken the pace even of its material progress.

For the lack of full political liberty one may make reluctant excuses, on the ground that it is inevitable in a period of rapid creation, and that it does not distress the mass of the population. But the monopoly which the ruling party enjoys in the press, its control over the publication of books, and its patronage in the universities, have serious consequences outside the field of politics. It is broadly true to say that opinions and tendencies in philosophy, and even in creative and critical literature, which seem to Communists to be "counter-revolutionary," either find no public expression, or find it very rarely and with the utmost difficulty. I hesitate to make a sweeping assertion for I have met with an occasional marginal case.(1) But I doubt whether a book which argued the case for idealism in philosophy, a play or a novel which had a religious atmosphere, or even a literary study which belonged, in any militant sense, to the romantic school, could be published in Russia today without a sharp and difficult struggle. Controversy survives chiefly in public debates, which are (as I have witnessed) commendably free. This is a narrow basis for the intellectual life of a great people. It is living in the fetters of an arrogant dogmatism which, sooner or later, unless it should learn tolerance, must narrow the range and weaken the fibres of the nation's intellect.

Russia is suffering, moreover, from the isolation in which she lives. Contact with the outer world is in-dispensable for a people's intellectual life. Fertility, one inclines to think, may depend on the marriage of diverse civilizations. A creative impulse, such as Russia feels at the moment, is not inexhaustible. It may run its course for years or for decades, but, sooner or later, it must be-come first conventional and then senile, unless it submits to the influence of other ideas and makes its way against the shock of other tendencies. Standards are always relative, and Russians who do not know, or have for-gotten during ten years of loneliness, how the rest of the world lives, are losing the ability to make comparisons. Franker intercourse would tend to the raising of Russian standards, even in industry and in her day-today material life. For this isolation the hostility of the outer world is partly to blame; in some degree, Russian poverty is a cause; but, also, the ruling Party is suspicious of contacts which it cannot control. It is good that foreigners should visit Russia; it would be even more useful that Russians should travel in Europe.

But the condition for Russia's progress which surpasses every other in importance, is that she should en-joy peace. No nation suffered so severely in the Great War; no nation has had an experience of war and civil war so painful and so disastrous as hers. She desires peace ardently, if only because she knows that even a short and victorious campaign would interrupt her constructive work, check her patient efforts to restore her industry, and fling her back into the miseries from which she seemed to have escaped. She has earned her title to peace, not only by her sufferings, but also by her achievements. Never before in history, and nowhere else in the world today, has the will of a nation been bent, as it is bent in Russia, to the supreme task of raising its entire population to the full stature of humanity. Its errors spring from the defects of great qualities. Intolerant it has been. But does tolerance create? It has rushed to violent extremes. But is moderation ever a pioneer? It has made its effort with unconquerable heroism. By its unflinching endurance, through the dark years of blockade and civil war, of trials for which there is no parallel in modern history, it has won its right to understanding and respect. But, above all, it has won its right to peace.

(1) An opera with a mystical and religious atmosphere, on a theme resembling Hauptmann's Die Versnnkene Glocke, to which some of my friends who are good critics attributed a rare poetic beauty, was lately performed in Moscow, but only once a month. This compromise was reached after it had been hotly assailed as "counter-revolutionary." I gladly mention this exception as a sign that the finer minds in the Party may be gaining ground at the expense of the fanatics.