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´╗┐Title: Russia in 1919
Author: Ransome, Arthur
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Russia in 1919" ***

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On August 27, 1914, in London, I made this note in a
memorandum book: "Met Arthur Ransome at_____'s;
discussed a book on the Russian's relation to the war in the
light of psychological background--folklore." The book was
not written but the idea that instinctively came to him
pervades his every utterance on things Russian.

The versatile man who commands more than respect as the
biographer of Poe and Wilde; as the (translator of and
commentator on Remy de Gourmont; as a folklorist, has
shown himself to be consecrated to the truth.  The document
that Mr. Ransome hurried out of  Russia in the early days of
the Soviet government (printed in the New Republic and
then widely circulated as a pamphlet), was the first notable
appeal from a non-Russian to the American people for fair
play in a crisis understood then even less than now.

The British Who's Who--that Almanach de Gotha of
people who do things or choose their parents wisely--tells us
that Mr. Ransome's recreations are "walking, smoking, fairy
stories." It is, perhaps, his intimacy with the last named that
enables him to distinguish between myth and fact and that
makes his activity as an observer and recorder so valuable in
a day of bewilderment and betrayal.

B. W. H.


I am well aware that there is material in this book which will
be misused by fools both white and red.  That is not my
fault.  My object has been narrowly limited.  I have tried by
means of a bald record of conversations and things seen, to
provide material for those who wish to know what is being
done and thought in Moscow at the present time, and
demand something more to go upon than secondhand
reports of wholly irrelevant atrocities committed by either
one side or the other, and often by neither one side nor the
other, but by irresponsible scoundrels who, in the natural
turmoil of the greatest convulsion in the history of our
civilization, escape temporarily here and there from any kind
of control.

The book is in no sense of the word propaganda.  For
propaganda, for the defence or attack of the Communist
position, is needed a knowledge of economics, both from the
capitalist and socialist standpoints, to which I cannot
pretend. Very many times during the revolution it has
seemed to me a tragedy that no Englishman properly
equipped in this way was in Russia studying the gigantic
experiment which, as a country, we are allowing to pass
abused but not examined.  I did my best.  I got, I think I may
say, as near as any foreigner who was not a Communist
could get to what was going on.  But I never lost the bitter
feeling that the opportunities of study which I made for
myself were wasted, because I could not hand them on to
some other Englishman, whose education and training would
have enabled him to make a better, a fuller use of them.
Nor would it have been difficult for such a man to get the
opportunities which were given to me when, by sheer
persistence in enquiry, I had overcome the hostility which I
at first encountered as the correspondent of a "bourgeois"
newspaper.  Such a man could be in Russia now, for the
Communists do not regard war as we regard it.  The
Germans would hardly have allowed an Allied Commission
to come to Berlin a year ago to investigate the nature and
working of the Autocracy.  The Russians, on the other hand,
immediatelya greed to the suggestion of the Berne
Conference that they should admit a party of socialists, the
majority of whom, as they well knew, had already expressed
condemnation of them.  Further, in agreeing to this, they
added that they would as willingly admit a committee of
enquiry sent by any of the "bourgeois" governments actually
at war with them.

I am sure that there will be many in England who will
understand much better than I the drudgery of the revolution
which is in this book very imperfectly suggested.  I repeat
that it is not my fault that they must make do with the eyes
and ears of an ignorant observer.  No doubt I have not asked
the questions they would have asked, and have thought
interesting and novel much which they would have taken for

The book has no particular form, other than that given it by
a more or less accurate adherence to chronology in setting
down things seen and heard.  It is far too incomplete to
allow me to call it a Journal.  I think I could have made it
twice as long without repetitions, and I am not at all sure that
in choosing in a hurry between this and that I did not
omit much which could with advantage be substituted for
what is here set down.  There is nothing here of my talk with
the English soldier prisoners and nothing of my visit to the
officers confined in the Butyrka Gaol.  There is nothing of
the plagues of typhus and influenza, or of the desperate
situation of a people thus visited and unable to procure from
abroad the simplest drugs which they cannot manufacture at
home or even the anaesthetics necessary for their wounded
on every frontier of their country.  I forgot to describe the
ballet which I saw a few days before leaving.  I have said
nothing of the talk I had with Eliava concerning the Russian
plans for the future of Turkestan.  I could think of a score of
other omissions.  Judging from what I have read since my
return from Russia, I imagine people will find my book very
poor in the matter of Terrors.  There is nothing here of the
Red Terror, or of any of the Terrors on the other side.  But
for its poverty in atrocities my book will be blamed only by
fanatics, since they alone desire proofs of past Terrors as
justification for new ones.

On reading my manuscript through, I find it quite
surprisingly dull.  The one thing that I should have liked to
transmit through it seems somehow to have slipped away.  I
should have liked to explain what was the appeal of the
revolution to men like Colonel Robins and myself, both of
us men far removed in origin and upbringing from the
revolutionary and socialist movements in our own countries.
Of course no one who was able, as we were able, to watch
the men of the revolution at close quarters could believe for
a moment that they were the mere paid agents of the very
power which more than all others represented the stronghold
they had set out to destroy.  We had the knowledge of the
injustice being done to these men to urge us in their defence.
But there was more in it than that.  There was the feeling,
from which we could never escape, of the creative effort of
the revolution.  There was the thing that distinguishes the
creative from other artists, the living, vivifying expression of
something hitherto hidden in the consciousness of humanity.
If this book were to be an accurate record of my own
impressions, all the drudgery, gossip, quarrels, arguments,
events and experiences it contains would have to be set
against a background of that extraordinary vitality which
obstinately persists in Moscow even in these dark days of
discomfort, disillusion, pestilence, starvation and unwanted



To Petrograd
Petrograd to Moscow
First Days in Moscow
The Executive Committee on the Reply to the Prinkipo Proposal
Kamenev and the Moscow Soviet
An Ex--Capitalist
A Theorist of Revolution
Effects of Isolation
An Evening at the Opera
The Committee of State Constructions
The Executive Committee and the Terror
Notes of Conversations with Lenin
The Supreme Council of Public Economy
The Race with Ruin
A Play of Chekhov
The Centro--Textile
Modification in the Agrarian Programme
Foreign Trade and Munitions of War
The Proposed Delegation from Berne
The Executive Committee on the Rival Parties
Commissariat of Labour
A Bolshevik Fellow of the Royal Society
The Opposition
The Third International
Last Talk with Lenin
The Journey Out



On January 30 a party of four newspaper correspondents,
two Norwegians, a Swede and myself, left Stockholm to go
into Russia.  We travelled with the members of the Soviet
Government's Legation, headed by Vorovsky and Litvinov,
who were going home after the breaking off of official
relations by Sweden.  Some months earlier I had got leave
from the Bolsheviks to go into Russia to get further material
for my history of the revolution, but at the last moment there
was opposition and it seemed likely that I should be refused
permission.  Fortunately, however, a copy of the Morning
Post reached Stockholm, containing a report of a lecture by
Mr. Lockhart in which he had said that as I had been out of
Russia for six months I had no right to speak of conditions
there. Armed with this I argued that it would be very
unfair if I were not allowed to come and see things for
myself.  I had no further difficulties.

We crossed by boat to Abo, grinding our way through the
ice, and then travelled by rail to the Russian frontier, taking
several days over the journey owing to delays variously
explained by the Finnish authorities.  We were told that the
Russian White Guards had planned an attack on the train.
Litvinov, half-smiling, wondered if they were purposely giving time
to the White Guards to organize such an attack.  Several
nervous folk inclined to that opinion.  But at Viborg we
were told that there were grave disorders in Petrograd and
that the Finns did not wish to fling us into the middle of a
scrimmage.  Then someone obtained a newspaper and we
read a detailed account of what was happening.  This
account was, as I learnt on my return, duly telegraphed to
England like much other news of a similar character.  There
had been a serious revolt in Petrograd.  The Semenovsky
regiment had gone over to the mutineers, who had seized the
town.  The Government, however, had escaped to
Kronstadt, whence they were bombarding Petrograd with
naval guns.

This sounded fairly lively, but there was nothing to be done,
so we finished up the chess tournament we had begun on the
boat.  An Esthonian won it, and I was second, by reason of
a lucky win over Litvinov, who is really a better player.  By
Sunday night we reached Terijoki and on Monday moved
slowly to the frontier of Finland close to Bieloostrov.  A
squad of Finnish soldiers was waiting, excluding everybody
from the station and seeing that no dangerous revolutionary
should break away on Finnish territory.  There were no
horses, but three hand sledges were brought, and we piled
the luggage on them, and then set off to walk to the frontier
duly convoyed by the Finns.  A Finnish lieutenant walked at
the head of the procession, chatting good-humouredly in
Swedish and German, much as a man might think it worth
while to be kind to a crowd of unfortunates just about to be
flung into a boiling cauldron. We walked a few hundred
yards along the line and then turned into a road deep in
snow through a little bare wood, and so down to the little
wooden bridge over the narrow frozen stream that
separates Finland from Russia.  The bridge, not twenty yards
across, has a toll bar at each end, two sentry boxes and two
sentries.  On the Russian side the bar was the familiar black
and white of the old Russian Empire, with a sentry box to
match.  The Finns seemingly had not yet had time to paint
their bar and box.

The Finns lifted their toll bar, and the Finnish officers
leading our escort walked solemnly to the middle of the
bridge.  Then the luggage was dumped there, while we stood
watching the trembling of the rickety little bridge under the
weight of our belongings, for we were all taking in with us as
much food as we decently could.  We were none of us
allowed on the bridge until an officer and a few men had
come down to meet us on the Russian side.  Only little Nina,
Vorovskv's daughter, about ten years old, chattering
Swedish with the Finns, got leave from them, and shyly, step
by step, went down the other side of the bridge and struck
up acquaintance with the soldier of the Red Army who stood
there, gun in hand, and obligingly bent to show her
the sign, set in his hat, of the crossed sickle and hammer
of the Peasants' and Workmen's Republic.  At last the
Finnish lieutenant took the list of his prisoners and called out
the names "Vorovsky, wife and one bairn," looking
laughingly over his shoulder at Nina flirting with the sentry.
Then "Litvinov," and so on through all the Russians, about
thirty of them.  We four visitors, Grimlund the Swede,
Puntervald and Stang, the Norwegians, and I, came last.  At
last, after a general shout of farewell, and "Helse Finland"
from Nina, the Finns turned and went back into their
civilization, and we went forward into the new struggling
civilization of Russia.  Crossing that bridge we passed from
one philosophy to another, from one extreme of the class
struggle to the other, from a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie
to a dictatorship of the proletariat.

The contrast was noticeable at once.  On the Finnish side of
the frontier we had seen the grandiose new frontier station,
much larger than could possibly be needed, but quite a good
expression of the spirit of the new Finland.  On the Russian
side we came to the same grey old wooden station known
to all passengers to and from Russia for polyglot profanity
and passport difficulties.  There were no porters, which was
not surprising because there is barbed wire and an extremely
hostile sort of neutrality along the frontier and traffic across
has practically ceased.  In the buffet, which was very cold,
no food could be bought.  The long tables once laden with
caviare and other zakuski were bare.  There was, however, a
samovar, and we bought tea at sixty kopecks a glass and
lumps of sugar at two roubles fifty each.  We took our tea
into the inner passport room, where I think a stove must
have been burning the day before, and there made some sort
of a meal off some of Puntervald's Swedish hard-bread.  It
is difficult to me to express the curious mixture of
depression and exhilaration that was given to the party by
this derelict starving station combined with the feeling that
we were no longer under guard but could do more or less as
we liked.  It split the party into two factions, of which one
wept while the other sang.  Madame Vorovsky, who had not
been in Russia since the first revolution, frankly wept, but
she wept still more in Moscow where she found that even
as the wife of a high official of the Government she enjoyed
no privileges which would save her from the hardships of
the population.  But the younger members of the party,
together with Litvinov, found their spirits irrepressibly rising
in spite of having no dinner.  They walked about the village,
played with the children, and sang, not revolutionary songs,
but just jolly songs, any songs that came into their heads.
When at last the train came to take us into Petrograd, and we
found that the carriages were unheated, somebody got out a
mandoline and we kept ourselves warm by dancing.  At the
same time I was sorry for the five children who were with
us, knowing that a country simultaneously suffering war,
blockade and revolution is not a good place for childhood.
But they had caught the mood of their parents,
revolutionaries going home to their revolution, and trotted
excitedly up and down the carriage or anchored themselves
momentarily, first on one person's knee and then on

It was dusk when we reached Petrograd.  The Finland
Station, of course, was nearly deserted, but here there
were four porters, who charged two hundred and fifty
roubles for shifting the luggage of the party from one end of
the platform to the other.  We ourselves loaded it into the
motor lorry sent to meet us, as at Bieloostrov we had loaded
it into the van.  There was a long time to wait while rooms
were being allotted to us in various hotels, and with several
others I walked outside the station to question people about
the mutiny and the bombardment of which we had heard in
Finland.  Nobody knew anything about it.  As soon as the
rooms were allotted and I knew that I had been lucky
enough to get one in the Astoria, I drove off across the
frozen river by the Liteini Bridge.  The trams were running.
The town seemed absolutely quiet, and away down the river
I saw once again in the dark, which is never quite dark
because of the snow, the dim shape of the fortress, and
passed one by one the landmarks I had come to know so
well during the last six years-the Summer Garden, the
British Embassy, and the great Palace Square where I had
seen armoured cars flaunting about during the July rising,
soldiers camping during the hysterical days of the
Kornilov affair and, earlier, Kornilov himself reviewing the
Junkers.  My mind went further back to the March
revolution, and saw once more the picket fire of the
revolutionaries at the corner that night when the remains of
the Tzar's Government were still frantically printing
proclamations ordering the people to go home, at the very
moment while they themselves were being besieged in the
Admiralty.  Then it flung itself further back still, to the day
of the declaration of war, when I saw this same square filled
with people, while the Tzar came out for a moment on the
Palace balcony.  By that time we were pulling up at the
Astoria and I had to turn my mind to something else.

The Astoria is now a bare barrack of a place, but
comparatively clean.  During the war and the first part of the
revolution it was tenanted chiefly by officers, and owing to
the idiocy of a few of these at the time of the first revolution
in shooting at a perfectly friendly crowd of soldiers and
sailors, who came there at first with no other object than to
invite the officers to join them, the place was badly smashed
up in the resulting scrimmage.  I remember with Major
Scale fixing up a paper announcing the fall of Bagdad either
the night this happened or perhaps the night before.  People
rushed up to it, thinking it some news about the revolution,
and turned impatiently away.  All the damage has been
repaired, but the red carpets have gone, perhaps to make
banners, and many of the electric lights were not burning,
probably because of the shortage in electricity.  I got my
luggage upstairs to a very pleasant room on the fourth floor.
Every floor of that hotel had its memories for me.  In this
room lived that brave reactionary officer who boasted that
he had made a raid on the Bolsheviks and showed little
Madame Kollontai's hat as a trophy.  In this I used to listen
to Perceval Gibbon when he was talking about how to write
short stories and having influenza.  There was the room
where Miss Beatty used to give tea to tired revolutionaries
and to still more tired enquirers into the nature of revolution
while she wrote the only book that has so far appeared
which gives anything like a true impresionist picture of those
unforgettable days.* [(*)"The Red Heart of Russia."]  Close
by was the room where poor Denis Garstin used to talk
of the hunting he would have when the war should come to
an end.

I enquired for a meal, and found that no food was to be had
in the hotel, but they could supply hot water.  Then, to get
an appetite for sleep, I went out for a short walk, though I
did not much like doing so with nothing but an English
passport, and with no papers to show that I had any right to
be there.  I had, like the other foreigners, been promised
such papers but had not yet received them.  I went round to
the Regina, which used to be one of the best hotels in the
town, but those of us who had rooms there were
complaining so bitterly that I did not stay with them, but
went off along the Moika to the Nevsky and so back to my
own hotel.  The streets, like the hotel, were only half lit, and
hardly any of the houses had a lighted window.  In the old
sheepskin coat I had worn on the front and in my high fur
hat, I felt like some ghost of the old regime visiting a town
long dead.  The silence and emptiness of the streets
contributed to this effect.  Still, the few people I met or
passed were talking cheerfully together and the rare
sledges and motors had comparatively good roads, the
streets being certainly better swept and cleaned than they
have been since the last winter of the Russian Empire.


Early in the morning I got tea, and a bread card on which I
was given a very small allowance of brown bread, noticeably
better in quality than the compound of clay and straw which
made me ill in Moscow last summer.  Then I went to find
Litvinov, and set out with him to walk to the Smolni
institute, once a school for the daughters of the aristocracy,
then the headquarters of the Soviet, then the headquarters of
the Soviet Government, and finally, after the Government's
evacuation to Moscow, bequeathed to the Northern
Commune and the Petrograd Soviet.  The town, in daylight,
seemed less deserted, though it was obvious that the
"unloading" of the Petrograd population, which was
unsuccessfully attempted during the Kerensky regime, had
been accomplished to a large extent.  This has been partly
the result of famine and of the stoppage of factories,
which in its turn is due to the impossibility of bringing fuel
and raw material to Petrograd.  A very large proportion of
Russian factory hands have not, as in other countries, lost
their connection with their native villages.  There was always
a considerable annual migration backwards and forwards
between the villages and the town, and great numbers of
workmen have gone home, carrying with them the ideas of
the revolution.  It should also be remembered that the bulk
of the earlier formed units of the Red Army is composed of
workmen from the towns who, except in the case of
peasants mobilized in districts which have experienced an
occupation by the counter-revolutionaries, are more
determined and better understand the need for discipline
than the men from the country.

The most noticeable thing in Petrograd to anyone returning
after six months' absence is the complete disappearance of
armed men.  The town seems to have returned to a perfectly
peaceable condition in the sense that the need for
revolutionary patrols has gone.  Soldiers walking about no
longer carry their rifles, and the picturesque figures of
the revolution who wore belts of machine-gun cartridges
slung about their persons have gone.

The second noticeable thing, especially in the Nevsky, which
was once crowded with people too fashionably dressed, is
the general lack of new clothes.  I did not see anybody
wearing clothes that looked less than two years old, with the
exception of some officers and soldiers who are as well
equipped nowadays as at the beginning of the war.
Petrograd ladies were particularly fond of boots, and of
boots there is an extreme shortage.  I saw one young woman
in a well-preserved, obviously costly fur coat, and beneath
it straw shoes with linen wrappings.

We had started rather late, so we took a train half-way up
the Nevsky.  The tram conductors are still women.  The
price of tickets has risen to a rouble, usually, I noticed, paid
in stamps.  It used to be ten kopecks.

The armoured car which used to stand at the entrance of
Smolni has disappeared and been replaced by a horrible
statue of Karl Marx, who stands, thick and heavy, on a stout
pedestal, holding behind him an enormous top-hat like
the muzzle of an eighteen-inch gun.  The only signs of
preparations for defence that remain are the pair of light
field guns which, rather the worse for weather, still stand
under the pillars of the portico which they would probably
shake to pieces if ever they should be fired.  Inside the
routine was as it used to be, and when I turned down the
passage to get my permit to go upstairs, I could hardly
believe that I had been away for so long.  The place is
emptier than it was.  There is not the same eager crowd of
country delegates pressing up and down the corridors and
collecting literature from the stalls that I used to see in the
old days when the serious little workman from the Viborg
side stood guard over Trotsky's door, and from the alcove
with its window looking down into the great hall, the endless
noise of debate rose from the Petrograd Soviet that met

Litvinov invited me to have dinner with the Petrograd
Commissars, which I was very glad to do, partly because I
was hungry and partly because I thought it would be better
to meet Zinoviev thus than in any other manner,
remembering how sourly he had looked upon me earlier
in the revolution.  Zinoviev is a Jew, with a lot of hair, a
round smooth face, and a very abrupt manner.  He was
against the November Revolution, but when it had been
accomplished returned to his old allegiance to Lenin and,
becoming President of the Northern Commune, remained in
Petrograd when the Government moved to Moscow.  He is
neither an original thinker nor a good orator except in
debate, in answering opposition, which he does with extreme
skill.  His nerve was badly shaken by the murders of his
friends Volodarsky and Uritzky last year, and he is said to
have lost his head after the attack on Lenin, to whom he is
extremely devoted.  I have heard many Communists attribute
to this fact the excesses which followed that event in
Petrograd.  I have never noticed anything that would make
me consider him pro-German, though of course he is
pro-Marx. He has, however, a decided prejudice against the
English.  He was among the Communists who put
difficulties in my way as a "bourgeois journalist" in the
earlier days of the revolution, and I had heard that he had
expressed suspicion and disapproval of Radek's intimacy
with me.

I was amused to see his face when he came in and saw me
sitting at the table.  Litvinov introduced me to him, very
tactfully telling him of Lockhart's attack upon me,
whereupon he became quite decently friendly, and said that
if I could stay a few days in Petrograd on my way back from
Moscow he would see that I had access to the historical
material I wanted, about the doings of the Petrograd Soviet
during the time I had been away.  I told him I was surprised
to find him here and not at Kronstadt, and asked about the
mutiny and the treachery of the Semenovsky regiment.
There was a shout of laughter, and Pozern explained that
there was no Semenovsky regiment in existence, and that the
manufacturers of the story, every word of which was a lie,
had no doubt tried to give realism to it by putting in the
name of the regiment which had taken a chief part in putting
down the Moscow insurrection of fourteen years ago.
Pozern, a thin, bearded man, with glasses, was sitting at the
other end of the table, as Military Commissar of the
Northern Commune.

Dinner in Smolni was the same informal affair that it
was in the old days, only with much less to eat.  The
Commissars, men and women, came in from their work,
took their places, fed and went back to work again, Zinoviev
in particular staying only a few minutes.  The meal was
extremely simple, soup with shreds of horseflesh in it, very
good indeed, followed by a little kasha together with small
slabs of some sort of white stuff of no particular consistency
or taste.  Then tea and a lump of sugar.  The conversation
was mostly about the chances of peace, and Litvinov's rather
pessimistic reports were heard with disappointment.  Just as
I had finished, Vorovsky, Madame Vorovsky and little Nina,
together with the two Norwegians and the Swede, came in.
I learnt that about half the party were going on to Moscow
that night and, deciding to go with them, hurried off to the


There was, of course, a dreadful scrimmage about getting
away.  Several people were not ready at the last minute.
Only one motor was obtainable for nine persons with their
light luggage, and a motor lorry for the heavy things.  I
chose to travel on the lorry with the luggage and had a fine
bumpity drive to the station, reminding me of similar though
livelier experiences in the earlier days of the revolution when
lorries were used for the transport of machine guns, red
guards, orators, enthusiasts of all kinds, and any stray
persons who happened to clamber on.

At the Nikolai Station we found perfect order until we got
into our wagon, an old third-class wagon, in which a
certain number of places which one of the party had
reserved had been occupied by people who had no right
to be there.  Even this difficulty was smoothed out in a
manner that would have been impossible a year
or even six months ago.

The wagon was divided by a door in the middle.  There
were open coup=82s and side seats which became plank beds
when necessary.  We slept in three tiers on the bare boards.
I had a very decent place on the second tier, and, by a bit of
good luck, the topmost bench over my head was occupied
only by luggage, which gave me room to climb up there and
sit more or less upright under the roof with my legs dangling
above the general tumult of mothers, babies, and Bolsheviks
below.  At each station at which the train stopped there was
a general procession backwards and forwards through the
wagon.  Everybody who had a kettle or a coffee-pot or a tin
can, or even an empty meat tin, crowded through the
carriage and out to get boiling water.  I had nothing but a
couple of thermos flasks, but with these I joined the others.
>From every carriage on the train people poured out and
hurried to the taps.  No one controlled the taps but, with the
instinct for co-operation for which Russians are remarkable,
people formed themselves automatically into queues, and by
the time the train started again everybody was back in his
place and ready for a general tea-drinking.  This
performance was repeated again and again throughout the
night.  People dozed off to sleep, woke up, drank more
tea, and joined in the various conversations that went on
in different parts of the carriage.  Up aloft, I
listened first to one and then to another.  Some were
grumbling at the price of food.  Others were puzzling why
other nations insisted on being at war with them.  One man
said he was a co-operator who had come by roundabout
ways from Archangel, and describing the discontent there,
told a story which I give as an illustration of the sort of thing
that is being said in Russia by  non-Bolsheviks.  This man,
in spite of the presence of many Communists in the carriage,
did not disguise his hostility to their theories and practice,
and none the less told this story.  He said that some of
the Russian troops in the Archangel district refused to go
to the front.  Their commanders, unable to compel them,
resigned and were replaced by others who, since the men persisted
in refusal, appealed for help.  The barracks, so he said, were
then surrounded by American troops, and the Russians, who
had refused to go to the front to fire on other Russians, were
given the choice, either that every tenth man should be shot,
or that they should give up their ringleaders.  The
ringleaders, twelve in number, were given up, were made to
dig their own graves, and shot.  The whole story may well
be Archangel gossip.  If so, as a specimen of such gossip, it
is not without significance.  In another part of the carriage
an argument on the true nature of selfishness caused some
heat because the disputants insisted on drawing their
illustrations from each other's conduct.  Then there was the
diversion of a swearing match at a wayside station between
the conductor and some one who tried to get into this
carriage and should have got into another.  Both were fluent
and imaginative swearers, and even the man from Archangel
stopped talking to listen to them.  One, I remember, prayed
vehemently that the other's hand might fly off, and the other,
not to be outdone, retorted with a similar prayer with regard
to the former's head.  In England the dispute, which became
very fierce indeed, would have ended in assault, but here
it ended in nothing but the collection on the platform of a
small crowd of experts in bad language who applauded
verbal hits with impartiality and enthusiasm.

At last I tried to sleep, but the atmosphere in the carriage, of
smoke, babies, stale clothes, and the peculiar smell of the
Russian peasantry which no one who has known it can
forget, made sleep impossible.  But I travelled fairly
comfortably, resolutely shutting my ears to the talk, thinking
of fishing in England, and shifting from one bone to another
as each ached in turn from contact with the plank on which I


It was a rare cold day when I struggled through the crowd
out of the station in Moscow, and began fighting with the
sledge-drivers who asked a hundred roubles to take me to
the Metropole.  I remembered coming here a year ago with
Colonel Robins, when we made ten roubles a limit for the
journey and often travelled for eight.  To-day, after heated
bargaining, I got carried with no luggage but a typewriter for
fifty roubles.  The streets were white with deep snow, less
well cleaned than the Petrograd streets of this year but better
cleaned than the Moscow streets of last year.  The tramways
were running.  There seemed to be at least as many sledges
as usual, and the horses were in slightly better condition than
last summer when they were scarcely able to drag
themselves along.  I asked the reason of the improvement,
and the driver told me the horses]26]were now rationed like
human beings, and all got a small allowance of oats.  There
were crowds of people about, but the numbers of closed
shops were very depressing.  I did not then know that this
was due to the nationalization of trade and a sort of general
stock-taking, the object of which was to prevent
profiteering in manufactured goods, etc., of which there
were not enough to go round.  Before I left many shops
were being reopened as national concerns, like our own
National Kitchens.  Thus, one would see over a shop the
inscription, "The 5th Boot Store of the Moscow Soviet" or
"The 3rd Clothing Store of the Moscow Soviet" or "The
11th Book Shop."  It had been found that speculators
bought, for example, half a dozen overcoats, and sold them
to the highest bidders, thus giving the rich an advantage over
the poor.  Now if a man needs a new suit he has to go in his
rags to his House Committee, and satisfy them that he really
needs a new suit for himself.  He is then given the right to
buy a suit.  In this way an attempt is made to prevent
speculation and to ensure a more or less equitable
distribution of the inadequate stocks.  My greatest surprise
was given me by the Metropole itself, because the old
wounds of the revolution, which were left unhealed all last
summer, the shell-holes and bullet splashes which marked it
when I was here before, have been repaired.

Litvinov had given me a letter to Karakhan of the
Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, asking him to help me in
getting a room.  I found him at the Metropole, still smoking
as it were the cigar of six months ago.  Karakhan, a
handsome Armenian, elegantly bearded and moustached,
once irreverently described by Radek as "a donkey of
classical beauty," who has consistently used such influence
as he has in favour of moderation and agreement with the
Allies, greeted me very cordially, and told me that the
foreign visitors were to be housed in the Kremlin.  I told him
I should much prefer to live in an hotel in the ordinary way,
and he at once set about getting a room for me. This was no
easy  business, though he obtained an authorization from
Sverdlov, president of the executive committee, for me to
live where I wished, in the Metropole or the National, which
are mostly reserved for Soviet delegates, officials and
members of the Executive Committee.  Both were full, and
he finally got me a room in the old Loskutnaya Hotel, now
the Red Fleet, partially reserved for sailor delegates and
members of the Naval College.

Rooms are distributed on much the same plan as clothes.
Housing is considered a State monopoly, and a general
census of housing accommodation has taken place. In every
district there are housing committees to whom people
wanting rooms apply.  They work on the rough and ready
theory that until every man has one room no one has a right
to two.  An Englishman acting as manager of works near
Moscow told me that part of his house had been allotted to
workers in his factory, who, however, were living with him
amicably, and had, I think, allowed him to choose which
rooms he should concede.  This plan has, of course, proved
very hard on house-owners, and in some cases the new
tenants have made a horrible mess of the houses, as might,
indeed, have been expected, seeing that they had previously
been of  those who had suffered directly from the
decivilizing influences of overcrowding.  After talking for
some time we went round the corner to the Commissariat
for Foreign Affairs, where we found Chicherin who, I
thought, had aged a good deal and was (though this was
perhaps his manner) less cordial than Karakhan.  He asked
about England, and I told him Litvinov knew more about
that than I, since he had been there more recently.  He asked
what I thought would be the effect of his Note with detailed
terms published that day.  I told him that Litvinov, in an
interview which I had telegraphed, had mentioned somewhat
similar terms some time before, and that personally I
doubted whether the Allies would at present come to any
agreement with the Soviet Government, but that, if the
Soviet Government lasted, my personal opinion was that the
commercial isolation of so vast a country as Russia could
hardly be prolonged indefinitely on that account alone. (For
the general attitude to that Note, see page 44.)

I then met Voznesensky (Left Social Revolutionary), of the
Oriental Department, bursting with criticism of the
Bolshevik attitude towards his party.  He secured a ticket for
me to get dinner in the Metropole.  This ticket I had to
surrender when I got a room in the National.  The dinner
consisted of a plate of soup, and a very small portion of
something else.  There are National Kitchens in different
parts of the town supplying similar meals.  Glasses of weak
tea were sold at 30 kopecks each, without sugar.  My sister
had sent me a small bottle of saccharine just before I left
Stockholm, and it was pathetic to see the childish delight
with which some of my friends drank glasses of sweetened

>From the Metropole I went to the Red Fleet to get my room
fixed up.  Six months ago there were comparatively clean
rooms here, but the sailors have demoralized the hotel and
its filth is indescribable.  There was no heating and very little
light.  A samovar left after the departure of the last visitor
was standing on the table, together with some dirty
curl-papers and other rubbish.  I got the waiter to clean up
more or less, and ordered a new samovar.  He could not
supply spoon, knife, or fork, and only with great difficulty
was persuaded to lend me glasses.

The telephone, however, was working, and after tea I got
into touch with Madame Radek, who had moved from the
Metropole into the Kremlin.  I had not yet got a pass to the
Kremlin, so she arranged to meet me and get a pass for me
from the Commandant.  I walked through the snow to the
white gate at the end of the bridge which leads over the
garden up a steep incline to the Kremlin.  Here a fire of logs
was burning, and three soldiers were sitting around it.
Madame Radek was waiting for me, warming her hands at
the fire, and we went together into the citadel of the

A meeting of the People's Commissars was going on in the
Kremlin, and on an open space under the ancient churches
were a number of motors black on the snow.  We turned to
the right down the Dvortzovaya street, between the old
Cavalier House and the Potyeshny Palace, and went in
through a door under the archway that crosses the road, and
up some dark flights of stairs to a part of the building that
used, I think, to be called the Pleasure Palace.  Here, in a
wonderful old room, hung with Gobelins tapestries
absolutely undamaged by the revolution, and furnished with
carved chairs, we found the most incongruous figure of
the old Swiss internationalist, Karl Moor, who talked with
affection of Keir Hardie and of Hyndman, "in the days
when he was a socialist," and was disappointed to find that I
knew so little about them.  Madame Radek asked, of course,
for the latest news of Radek, and I told her that I had read in
the Stockholm papers that he had gone to Brunswick, and
was said to be living in the palace there.*  [(*)It was not
till later that we learned he had returned to Berlin, been
arrested, and put in prison.]  She feared he might have been
in Bremen when that town was taken by the Government
troops, and did not believe he would ever get back to Russia.
She asked me, did I not feel already (as indeed I did) the
enormous difference which the last six months had made in
strengthening the revolution.  I asked after old
acquaintances, and learnt that Pyatakov, who, when I last
saw him, was praying that the Allies should give him
machine rifles to use against the Germans in the Ukraine,
had been the first President of the Ukrainian Soviet
Republic, but had since been replaced by Rakovsky.  It had
been found that the views of the Pyatakov government
were further left than those of its supporters, and so
Pyatakov had given way to Rakovsky who was better able to
conduct a more moderate policy.  The Republic had been
proclaimed in Kharkov, but at that time Kiev was still in the
hands of the Directorate.

That night my room in the Red Fleet was so cold that I went
to bed in a sheepskin coat under rugs and all possible
bedclothes with a mattress on the top.  Even so I slept very

The next day I spent in vain wrestlings to get a better room.
Walking about the town I found it dotted with revolutionary
sculptures, some very bad, others interesting, all done in
some haste and set up for the celebrations of the anniversary
of the revolution last November.  The painters also had been
turned loose to do what they could with the hoardings, and
though the weather had damaged many of their pictures,
enough was left to show what an extraordinary carnival that
had been.  Where a hoarding ran along the front of a house
being repaired the painters had used the whole of it as a vast
canvas on which they had painted huge symbolic pictures
of the revolution.  A whole block in the Tverskaya was so
decorated.  Best, I think, were the row of wooden booths
almost opposite the Hotel National in the Okhotnia Ryadi.
These had been painted by the futurists or kindred artists,
and made a really delightful effect, their bright colours and
naif patterns seeming so natural to Moscow that I found
myself wondering how it was that they had never been so
painted before.  They used to be a uniform dull yellow.
Now, in clear primary colours, blue, red, yellow, with rough
flower designs, on white and chequered back-grounds, with
the masses of snow in the road before them, and
bright-kerchiefed women and peasants in ruddy sheepskin coats
passing by, they seemed less like futurist paintings than like
some traditional survival, linking new Moscow with the
Middle Ages.  It is perhaps interesting to note that certain
staid purists in the Moscow Soviet raised a protest while I
was there against the license given to the futurists to spread
themselves about the town, and demanded that the art of the
revolution should be more comprehensible and less violent.
These criticisms, however, did not apply to the row of
booths which were a pleasure to me every time I passed

In the evening I went to see Reinstein in the National.
Reinstein is a little old grandfather, a member of the
American Socialist Labour Party, who was tireless in helping
the Americans last year, and is a prodigy of knowledge
about the revolution.  He must be nearly seventy, never
misses a meeting of the Moscow Soviet or the Executive
Committee, gets up at seven in the morning, and goes from
one end of Moscow to the other to lecture to the young men
in training as officers for the Soviet Army, more or less
controls the English soldier war prisoners, about whose
Bolshevism he is extremely pessimistic, and enjoys an
official position as head of the quite futile department which
prints hundred-weight upon hundred-weight of
propaganda in English, none of which by any chance ever
reaches these shores.  He was terribly disappointed that I had
brought no American papers with me.  He complained of
the lack of transport, a complaint which I think I must have
heard at least three times a day from different people the
whole time I was in Moscow.  Politically, he thought, the
position could not be better, though economically it was very
bad.  When they had corn, as it were, in sight, they could
not get it to the towns for lack of locomotives.  These
economic difficulties were bound to react sooner or later on
the political position.

He talked about the English prisoners.  The men are brought
to Moscow, where they are given special passports and are
allowed to go anywhere they like about the town without
convoy of any kind.  I asked about the officers, and he said
that they were in prison but given everything possible, a
member of the International Red Cross, who worked with
the Americans when they were here, visiting them regularly
and taking in parcels for them.  He told me that on hearing
in Moscow that some sort of fraternization was going on on
the Archangel front, he had hurried off there with two
prisoners, one English and one American.  With some
difficulty a meeting was arranged.  Two officers and a
sergeant from the Allied side and Reinstein and these two
prisoners from the Russian, met on a bridge midway
between the opposing lines.  The conversation seemed
to have been mostly an argument about working-class
conditions in America, together with reasons why the Allies
should go home and leave Russia alone.  Finally the Allied
representatives (I fancy Americans) asked Reinstein to come
with them to Archangel and state his case, promising him
safe conduct there and back.  By this time two Russians had
joined the group, and one of them offered his back as a
desk, on which a safe-conduct for Reinstein was written.
Reinstein, who showed me the safe-conduct, doubted its
validity, and said that anyhow he could not have used it
without instructions from Moscow.  When it grew dusk they
prepared to separate.  The officers said to the prisoners,
"What?  Aren't you coming back with us?" The two shook
their heads decidedly, and said, "No, thank you."

I learnt that some one was leaving the National next day to
go to Kharkov, so that I should probably be able to get a
room.  After drinking tea with Reinstein till pretty late, I
went home, burrowed into a mountain of all sorts of clothes,
and slept a little.

In the morning I succeeded in making out my claim to
the room at the National, which turned out to be a very
pleasant one, next door to the kitchen and therefore quite
decently warm.  I wasted a lot of time getting my stuff
across.  Transport from one hotel to the other, though the
distance is not a hundred yards, cost forty roubles.  I got
things straightened out, bought some books, and prepared a
list of the material needed and the people I wanted to see.

The room was perfectly clean.  The  chamber-maid
who came in to tidy up quite evidently took
a  pride in doing her work properly, and protested against
my throwing matches on the floor.  She said she had been in
the hotel since it was opened.  I asked her how she liked the
new regime.  She replied that there was not enough to eat,
but that she felt freer.

In the afternoon I went downstairs to the main kitchens of
the hotel, where there is a permanent supply of hot water.
One enormous kitchen is set apart for the use of people
living in the hotel.  Here I found a crowd of people, all using
different parts of the huge stove.  There was an old
grey-haired Cossack, with a scarlet tunic under his black,
wide-skirted, narrow-waisted coat, decorated in the
Cossack fashion with ornamental cartridges.  He was
warming his soup, side by side with a little Jewess making
potato-cakes.  A spectacled elderly member of the
Executive Committee was busy doing something with a little
bit of meat.  Two little girls were boiling potatoes in old tin
cans.  In another room set apart for washing a sturdy little
long-haired revolutionary was cleaning a shirt.  A woman
with her hair done up in a blue handkerchief was very
carefully ironing a blouse.  Another was busy stewing sheets,
or something of that kind, in a big cauldron.  And all the
time people from all parts of the hotel were coming with
their pitchers and pans, from fine copper kettles to
disreputable empty meat tins, to fetch hot water for tea.  At
the other side of the corridor was a sort of counter in front
of a long window opening into yet another kitchen.  Here
there was a row of people waiting with their own saucepans
and plates, getting their dinner allowances of soup and meat
in exchange for tickets.  I was told that people thought they
got slightly more if they took their food in this way
straight from the kitchen to their own rooms instead of being
served in the restaurant.  But I watched closely, and decided
it was only superstition.  Besides, I had not got a saucepan.

On paying for my room at the beginning of the week I was
given a card with the days of the week printed along its
edge.  This card gave me the right to buy one dinner daily,
and when I bought it that day of the week was snipped off
the card so that I could not buy another.  The meal consisted
of a plate of very good soup, together with a second course
of a scrap of meat or fish.  The price of the meal varied
between five and seven roubles.

One could obtain this meal any time between two and seven.
Living hungrily through the morning, at two o'clock I used to
experience definite relief in the knowledge that now at any
moment I could have my meal.  Feeling in this way less
hungry, I used then to postpone it hour by hour, and actually
dined about five or six o'clock.  Thinking that I might indeed
have been specially favoured I made investigations, and
found that the dinners supplied at the public feeding
houses (the equivalent of our national kitchens) were of
precisely the same size and character, any difference
between the meals depending not on the food but on the

A kind of rough and ready co-operative system also
obtained.  One day there was a notice on the stairs that those
who wanted could get one pot of jam apiece by applying to
the provisioning committee of the hotel.  I got a pot of jam
in this way, and on a later occasion a small quantity of
Ukrainian sausage.

Besides the food obtainable on cards it was possible to buy,
at ruinous prices, food from speculators, and an idea of the
difference in the prices may be obtained from the following
examples: Bread is one rouble 20 kopecks per pound by
card and 15 to 20 roubles per pound from the speculators.
Sugar is 12 roubles per pound by card, and never less than
50 roubles per pound in the open market.  It is obvious that
abolition of the card system would mean that the rich would
have enough and the poor nothing.  Various methods have
been tried in the effort to get rid of speculators whose
high profits naturally decrease the willingness of the villages
to sell bread at less abnormal rates.  But as a Communist
said to me, "There is only one way to get rid of speculation,
and that is to supply enough on the card system.  When
People can buy all they want at 1 rouble 20 they are not
going to pay an extra 14 roubles for the encouragement of
speculators." "And when will you be able to do that?" I
asked.  "As soon as the war ends, and we can use our
transport for peaceful purposes."

There can be no question about the starvation of Moscow.
On the third day after my arrival in Moscow I saw a man
driving a sledge laden with, I think, horseflesh, mostly
bones, probably dead sledge horses.  As he drove a black
crowd of crows followed the sledge and perched on it,
tearing greedily at the meat.  He beat at them continually
with his whip, but they were so famished that they took no
notice whatever.  The starving crows used even to force
their way through the small ventilators of the windows in my
hotel to pick up any scraps they could find inside.  The
pigeons, which formerly crowded the streets,
utterly undismayed by the traffic, confident in the
security given by their supposed connection with religion,
have completely disappeared.

Nor can there be any question about the cold.  I resented my
own sufferings less when I found that the State Departments
were no better off than other folk.  Even in the Kremlin I
found the Keeper of the Archives sitting at work in an old
sheepskin coat and felt boots, rising now and then to beat
vitality into his freezing hands like a London cabman of old


February 10th.

It will be remembered that a proposal was made by the
Peace Conference that the various de facto governments of
Russia should meet on an island in the Bosphorus to discuss
matters, an armistice being arranged meanwhile.  No direct
invitation was sent to the Soviet Government.  After
attempting to obtain particulars through the editor of a
French socialist paper, Chicherin on February 4th sent a
long note to the Allies.  The note was not at first considered
with great favour in Russia, although it was approved by the
opposition parties on the right, the Mensheviks even going
so far as to say that in sending such a note, the Bolsheviks
were acting in the interest of the whole of the Russian
people.  The opposition on the left complained
that it was a betrayal of the revolution into the
hands of the Entente, and there were many Bolsheviks
who said openly that they thought it went a little
too far in the way of concession.  On February 10th, the
Executive Committee met to consider the international

Before proceeding to an account of that meeting, it will be
well to make a short summary of the note in question.
Chicherin, after referring to the fact that no invitation had
been addressed to them and that the absence of a reply from
them was being treated as the rejection of a proposal they
had never received, said that in spite of its more and more
favourable position, the Russian Soviet Government
considered a cessation of hostilities so desirable that it was
ready immediately to begin negotiations, and, as it had more
than once declared, to secure agreement "even at the cost of
serious concessions in so far as these should not threaten the
development of the Republic." "Taking into consideration
that the enemies against whom it has to struggle borrow their
strength of resistance exclusively from the help shown them
by the powers of the Entente, and that therefore these
powers are the only actual enemy of the Russian Soviet
Government, the latter addresses itself precisely to the
powers of the Entente, setting out the points on which it
considers such concessions possible with a view to the
ending of every kind of conflict with the aforesaid powers."
There follows a list of the concessions they are prepared to
make.  The first of these is recognition of their debts, the
interest on which, "in view of Russia's difficult financial
position and her unsatisfactory credit," they propose to
guarantee in raw materials.  Then, "in view of the interest
continually expressed by foreign capital in the question of
the exploitation for its advantage of the natural resources of
Russia, the Soviet Government is ready to give to subjects of
the powers of the Entente mineral, timber and other
concessions, to be defined in detail, on condition that the
economic and social structure of Soviet Russia shall not be
touched by the internal arrangements of these concessions."
The last point is that which roused most opposition.  It
expresses a willingness to negotiate even concerning such
annexations, hidden or open, as the Allies may have in
mind.  The words used are "The Russian Soviet
Government has not the intention of excluding at all costs
consideration of the question of annexations, etc. . . ." Then,
"by annexations must be understood the retention on this or
that part of the territory of what was the Russian Empire,
not including Poland and Finland, of armed forces of the
Entente or of such forces as are maintained by the
governments of the Entente or enjoy their financial, military,
technical or other support."  There follows a statement that
the extent of the concessions will depend on the military
position.  Chicherin proceeds to give a rather optimistic
account of the external and internal situation.  Finally he
touches on the question of propaganda.  "The Russian
Soviet Government, while pointing out that it cannot limit
the freedom of the revolutionary press, declares its
readiness, in case of necessity to include in the general
agreement with the powers of the Entente the obligation not
to interfere in their internal affairs." The note ends thus:
"On the foregoing bases the Russian Soviet Government is ready
immediately to begin negotiations either on Prinkipo island
or in any other place whatsoever with all the powers of the
Entente together or with separate powers of their number,
or with any Russian political groupings whatsoever,
according to the wishes of the powers of the Entente.
The Russian Soviet Government begs the powers of the
Entente immediately to inform it whither to send
its representatives, and precisely when and by what route."
This note was dated February 4th, and was sent out by wireless.

>From the moment when the note appeared in the
newspapers of February 5th, it had been the main subject of
conversation.  Every point in it was criticized and
counter-criticized, but even its critics, though anxious to preserve
their criticism as a basis for political action afterwards, were
desperately anxious that it should meet with a reply.  No one
in Moscow at that time could have the slightest misgiving
about the warlike tendencies of the revolution.  The
overwhelming mass of the people and of the revolutionary
leaders want peace, and only continued warfare forced upon
them could turn their desire for peace into desperate,
resentful aggression.  Everywhere I heard the same story:
"We cannot get things straight while we have to fight all the
time." They would not admit it, I am sure, but few of the
Soviet leaders who have now for eighteen months been
wrestling with the difficulties of European Russia have not
acquired, as it were in spite of themselves, a national,
domestic point of view.  They are thinking less about world
revolution than about getting bread to Moscow, or
increasing the output of textiles, or building river
power-stations to free the northern industrial district from
its dependence on the distant coal-fields.  I was
consequently anxious to hear what the Executive Committee
would have to say, knowing that there I should listen to
some expression of the theoretical standpoint from which
my hard-working friends had been drawn away by interests
nearer home.

The Executive Committee met as usual in the big hall of the
Hotel Metropole, and it met as usual very late.  The sitting
was to begin at seven, and, foolishly thinking that Russians
might have changed their nature in the last six months, I was
punctual and found the hall nearly empty, because a
party meeting of the Communists in the room next door was
not finished.  The hall looked just as it used to look, with a
red banner over the presidium and another at the opposite
end, both inscribed "The All Russian Executive Committee,"
"Proletariat of all lands, unite," and so on.  As the room
gradually filled, I met many acquaintances.

Old Professor Pokrovsky came in, blinking through his
spectacles, bent a little, in a very old coat, with a small black
fur hat, his hands clasped together, just as, so I have been
told, he walked unhappily to and fro in the fortress at Brest
during the second period of the negotiations.  I did not think
he would recognize me, but he came up at once, and
reminded me of the packing of the archives at the time when
it seemed likely that the Germans would take Petrograd.  He
told me of a mass of material they are publishing about the
origin of the war.  He said that England came out of it best
of anybody, but that France and Russia showed in a very
bad light.

Just then, Demian Bledny rolled in, fatter than he used to be
(admirers from the country send him food) with a round
face, shrewd laughing eyes, and cynical mouth, a typical
peasant, and the poet of the revolution.  He was passably
shaved, his little yellow moustache was trimmed, he was
wearing new leather breeches, and seemed altogether a more
prosperous poet than the untidy ruffian I first met about a
year or more ago before his satirical poems in Pravda and
other revolutionary papers had reached the heights of
popularity to which they have since attained.  In the old days
before the revolution in Petrograd he used to send his poems
to the revolutionary papers.  A few were published and
scandalized the more austere and  serious-minded
revolutionaries, who held a meeting to decide
whether any more were to be printed.  Since the
revolution, he has rapidly come into his own, and is now a
sort of licensed jester, flagellating Communists and
non-Communists alike.  Even in this assembly
he had about him a little of the manner of
Robert Burns in Edinburgh society.  He told me
with expansive glee that they had printed two
hundred and fifty thousand of his last book, that the whole
edition was sold in two weeks, and that he had had his
portrait painted by a real artist.  It is actually true that of his
eighteen different works, only two are obtainable today.

Madame Radek, who last year showed a genius for the
making of sandwiches with chopped leeks, and did good
work for Russia as head of the Committee for dealing with
Russian war prisoners, came and sat down beside me, and
complained bitterly that the authorities wanted to turn her
out of the grand ducal apartments in the Kremlin and make
them into a historical museum to illustrate the manner of life
of the Romanovs.  She said she was sure that was simply an
excuse and that the real reason was that Madame Trotsky
did not like her having a better furnished room than her
own.  It seems that the Trotskys, when they moved into the
Kremlin, chose a lodging extremely modest in comparison
with the gorgeous place where I had found Madame Radek.

All this time the room was filling, as the party meeting ended
and the members of the Executive Committee came in to
take their places.  I was asking Litvinov whether he was
going to speak, when a little hairy energetic man came up
and with great delight showed us the new matches
invented in the Soviet laboratories.  Russia is short of
match-wood, and without paraffin.  Besides which I think I am
right in saying that the bulk of the matches used in the north
came from factories in Finland.  In these new Bolshevik
matches neither wood nor paraffin is used.  Waste paper is a
substitute for one, and the grease that is left after cleaning
wool is a substitute for the other.  The little man, Berg,
secretary of the Presidium of the Council of Public
Economy, gave me a packet of his matches.  They are like
the matches in a folding cover that used to be common in
Paris.  You break off a match before striking it.  They strike
and burn better than any matches I have ever bought in
Russia, and I do not see why they should not be made in
England, where we have to import all the materials of which
ordinary matches are made.  I told Berg I should try to
patent them and so turn myself into a capitalist.  Another
Communist, who was listening, laughed, and said that most
fortunes were founded in just such a fraudulent way.

Then there was Steklov of the Izvestia,  Madame
Kollontai, and a lot of other people whose
names I do not remember.  Little Bucharin, the editor of
Pravda and one of the most interesting talkers in Moscow,
who is ready to discuss any philosophy you like, from
Berkeley and Locke down to Bergson and William James,
trotted up and shook hands.  Suddenly a most unexpected
figure limped through the door.  This was the lame Eliava of
the Vologda Soviet, who came up in great surprise at seeing
me again, and reminded me how Radek and I, hungry from
Moscow, astonished the hotel of the Golden Anchor by
eating fifteen eggs apiece, when we came to Vologda last
summer (I acted as translator during Radek's conversations
with the American Ambassador and Mr. Lindley).  Eliava is
a fine, honest fellow, and had a very difficult time in
Vologda where the large colony of foreign embassies and
missions naturally became the centre of disaffection in a
district which at the time was full of inflammable material.  I
remember when we parted from him, Radek said to me that
he hardly thought he would see him alive again.  He told me
he had left Vologda some three months ago and was now
going to Turkestan.  He did not disguise the resentment
he felt towards M. Noulens (the French Ambassador) who,
he thought, had stood in the way of agreement last year, but
said that he had nothing whatever to say against Lindley.

At last there was a little stir in the raised presidium, and the
meeting began.  When I saw the lean, long-haired Avanesov
take his place as secretary, and Sverdlov, the president, lean
forward a little, ring his bell, and announce that the meeting
was open and that "Comrade Chicherin has the word," I
could hardly believe that I had been away six months.

Chicherin's speech took the form of a general report on the
international situation.  He spoke a little more clearly than he
was used to do, but even so I had to walk round to a place
close under the tribune before I could hear him.  He
sketched the history of the various steps the Soviet
Government has taken in trying to secure peace, even
including such minor "peace offensives" as Litvinov's
personal telegram to President Wilson.  He then weighed, in
no very hopeful spirit, the possibilities of this last Note to all
the Allies having any serious result.  He estimated the
opposing tendencies for and against war with Russia in each
of the principal countries concerned.  The growth of
revolutionary feeling abroad made imperialistic governments
even more aggressive towards the Workers' and Peasants'
Republic than they would otherwise be.  It was now making
their intervention difficult, but no more.  It was impossible to
say that the collapse of Imperialism had gone so far that it
had lost its teeth.  Chicherin speaks as if he were a dead man
or a ventriloquist's lay figure.  And indeed he is half-dead.
He has never learnt the art of releasing himself from
drudgery by handing it over to his subordinates.  He is
permanently tired out.  You feel it is almost cruel to say
"Good morning" to him when you meet him, because of the
appeal to be left alone that comes unconsciously into his
eyes.  Partly in order to avoid  people, partly because he is
himself accustomed to work at night, his section of the
foreign office keeps extraordinary hours, is not to be found
till about five in the afternoon and works till four in the
morning.  The actual material of his report was interesting,
but there was nothing in its manner to rouse enthusiasm
of any kind.  The audience listened with attention, but only
woke into real animation when with a shout of laughter it
heard an address sent to Cl=82menceau by the emigr=82
financiers, aristocrats and bankrupt politicians of the Russian
colony in Stockholm, protesting against any sort of
agreement with the Bolsheviks.

Bucharin followed Chicherin.  A little eager figure in his
neat brown clothes (bought, I think, while visiting Berlin as a
member of the Economic Commission), he at least makes
himself clearly heard, though his voice has a funny tendency
to breaking.  He compared the present situation with the
situation before Brest.  He had himself (as I well remember)
been with Radek, one of the most violent opponents of the
Brest peace, and he now admitted that at that time Lenin had
been right and he wrong.  The position was now different,
because whereas then imperialism was split into two camps
fighting each other, it now showed signs of uniting its forces.
He regarded the League of Nations as a sort of capitalist
syndicate, and said that the difference in the French and
American attitude towards the League depended upon
the position of French and American capital.  Capital in
France was so weak, that she could at best be only a small
shareholder.  Capital in America was in a very advantageous
position.  America therefore wanted a huge All-European
syndicate in which each state would have a certain number
of shares.  America, having the greatest number of shares,
would be able to exploit all the other nations.  This is a fixed
idea of Bucharin's, and he has lost no opportunity of putting
out this theory of the League of Nations since the middle of
last summer.  As for Chicherin's Note, he said it had at least
great historical interest on account of the language it used,
which was very different from the hypocritical language of
ordinary diplomacy.  Here were no phrases about noble
motives, but a plain recognition of the facts of the case.
"Tell us what you want," it says, "and we are ready to buy
you off, in order to avoid armed conflict." Even if the Allies
gave no answer the Note would still have served a useful
purpose and would be a landmark in history.

Litvinov followed Bucharin.  A solid, jolly, round man, with
his peaked grey fur hat on his head, rounder than ever in
fur-collared, thick coat, his eye-glasses slipping from his
nose as he got up, his grey muffler hanging from his neck,
he hurried to the tribune.  Taking off his things and leaving
them on a chair below, he stepped up into the tribune with
his hair all rumpled, a look of extreme seriousness on his
face, and spoke with a voice whose capacity and strength
astonished me who had not heard him speak in public
before.  He spoke very well, with more sequence than
Bucharin, and much vitality, and gave his summary of the
position abroad.  He said (and Lenin expressed the same
view to me afterwards) that the hostility of different
countries to Soviet Russia varied in direct proportion to their
fear of revolution at home.  Thus France, whose capital had
suffered most in the war and was weakest, was the most
uncompromising, while America, whose capital was in a
good position, was ready for agreement.  England, with
rather less confidence, he thought was ready to follow
America.  Need of raw material was the motive tending
towards agreement with Russia.  Fear that the mere
existence of a Labour Government anywhere in the
world strengthens the revolutionary movement elsewhere,
was the motive for the desire to wipe out the Soviet at all
cost.  Chicherin's note, he thought, would emphasize the
difference between these opposing views and would  tend to
make impossible an alliance of the capitalists against Russia.

Finally, Kamenev, now President of the Moscow Soviet,
spoke, objecting to Bucharin's comparison of the peace now
sought with that of Brest Litovsk.  Then everything was in a
state of experiment and untried.  Now it was clear to the
world that the unity of Russia could be achieved only under
the Soviets.  The powers opposed to them could not but
recognize this fact.  Some parts of Russia (Ukraine) had
during the last fifteen months experienced every kind of
government, from the Soviets, the dictatorship of the
proletariat, to the dictatorship of foreign invaders and the
dictatorship of a General of the old regime, and they had
after all returned to the Soviets.  Western European
imperialists must realize that the only Government in Russia
which rested on the popular masses was the Government
of the Soviets and no other.  Even the paper of the
Mensheviks, commenting on Chicherin's note, had declared
that by this step the Soviet Government had shown that it
was actually a national Government acting in the interests of
the nation.  He further read a statement by Right Social
Revolutionaries (delegates of that group, members of the
Constituent Assembly, were in the gallery) to the effect that
they were prepared to help the Soviet Government as the
only Government in Russia that was fighting against a
dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Finally, the Committee unanimously passed a resolution
approving every step taken in trying to obtain peace, and at
the same time "sending a fraternal greeting to the Red Army
of workers and peasants engaged in ensuring the
independence of Soviet Russia." The meeting then turned to
talk of other things.

I left, rather miserable to think how little I had foreseen
when Soviet Russia was compelled last year to sign an
oppressive peace with Germany, that the time would
come when they would be trying to buy peace from
ourselves.  As I went out I saw another unhappy figure,
unhappy for quite different reasons.  Angelica Balabanova,
after dreaming all her life of socialism in the most fervent
Utopian spirit, had come at last to Russia to find that a
socialist state was faced with difficulties at least as real as
those which confront other states, that in the battle there was
little sentiment and much cynicism, and that dreams worked
out in terms of humanity in the face of the opposition of the
whole of the rest of the world are not easily recognized by
their dreamers.  Poor little Balabanova, less than five feet
high, in a black coat that reached to her feet but did not
make her look any taller, was wandering about like a lost and
dejected spirit.  Not so, she was thinking, should socialists
deal with their enemies.  Somehow, but not so.  Had the
silver trumpets blown seven times in vain, and was it really
necessary to set to work and, stone by stone, with bleeding
hands, level the walls of Jericho?

There was snow falling as I walked home.  Two workmen,
arguing, were walking in front of me. "If only it were not
for the hunger," said one.  "But will that ever change?" said
the other.


February 11th.

Litvinov has been unlucky in his room in the Metropole.  It
is small, dark and dirty, and colder than mine.  He was
feeling ill and his chest was hurting him, perhaps because of
his speech last night; but while I was there Kamenev rang
him up on the telephone, told him he had a car below, and
would he come at once to the Moscow Soviet to speak on
the international situation!  Litvinov tried to excuse himself,
but it was no use, and he said  to me that if I wanted to see
Kamenev I had better come along.  We found Kamenev in
the hall, and after a few minutes in a little Ford car we were
at the Moscow Soviet.  The Soviet meets in the small lecture
theatre of the old Polytechnic.  When we arrived, a party
meeting was going on, and Kamenev, Litvinov, and I went
behind the stage to a little empty room, where we were
joined by a member of the Soviet whose name I forget.

It was Kamenev's first talk with Litvinov after his return, and
I think they forgot that I was there.  Kamenev asked Litvinov
what he meant to do, and Litvinov told him he wished to
establish a special department of control to receive all
complaints, to examine into the efficiency of different
commissariats, to get rid of parallelism, etc., and, in fact, to
be the most unpopular department in Moscow.  Kamenev
laughed.  "You need not think you are the first to have that
idea.  Every returning envoy without exception has the same.
Coming back from abroad they notice more than we do the
inefficiencies here, and at once think they will set everything
right.  Rakovsky sat here for months dreaming of nothing
else.  Joffe was the same when he came back from that tidy
Berlin.  Now you; and when Vorovsky comes (Vorovsky
was still in Petrograd) I am ready to wager that he too has a
scheme for general control waiting in his pocket.  The thing
cannot be done.  The only way is, when something
obviously needs doing, to put in some one we can trust to
get it done.  Soap is hard to get.  Good.  Establish a
commission and soap instantly disappears.  But put in one
man to see that soap is forthcoming, and somehow or other
we get it."

"Where is the soap industry concentrated?"

"There are good factories, well equipped, here, but they are
not working, partly for lack of material and partly, perhaps,
because some crazy fool imagined that to take an inventory
you must bring everything to a standstill."

Litvinov asked him what he thought of the position as a
whole.  He said good, if only transport could be improved;
but before the public of Moscow could feel an appreciable
improvement it would be necessary that a hundred wagons
of foodstuffs should be coming in daily.  At present there
are seldom more than twenty.  I asked Kamenev about the
schools, and he explained that one of their difficulties was
due to the militarism forced upon them by external attacks.
He explained that the new Red Army soldiers, being mostly
workmen, are accustomed to a higher standard of comfort
than the old army soldiers, who were mostly peasants.  They
objected to the planks which served as beds in the old,
abominable, over-crowded and unhealthy barracks.
Trotsky, looking everywhere for places to put his darlings,
found nothing more suitable than the schools; and, in
Kamenev's words, "We have to fight hard for every school."
Another difficulty, he said, was the lack of school books.
Histories, for example, written under the censorship and in
accordance with the principles of the old regime, were now
useless, and new ones were not ready, apart from the
difficulty of getting paper and of printing.  A lot, however,
was being done.  There was no need for a single child in
Moscow to go hungry. 150,000 to 180,000 children got free
meals daily in the schools.  Over 10,000 pairs of felt boots
had been given to children who needed them.  The number
of libraries had enormously increased.  Physically workmen
lived in far worse conditions than in 1912, but as far as their
spiritual welfare was concerned there could be no
comparison.  Places like the famous Yar restaurant,
where once the rich went to amuse themselves with
orgies of feeding and drinking and flirting
with gypsies, were now made into working men's clubs
and theatres, where every working man had a right to go.
As for the demand for literature from the provinces, it was
far beyond the utmost efforts of the presses and the paper
stores to supply.

When the party meeting ended, we went back to the lecture
room where the members of the Soviet had already settled
themselves in their places.  I was struck at once by the
absence of the general public which in the old days used to
crowd the galleries to overflowing.  The political excitement
of the revolution has passed, and today there were no more
spectators than are usually to be found in the gallery of the
House of Commons.  The character of the Soviet itself had
not changed.  Practically every man sitting on the benches
was obviously a workman and keenly intent on what was
being said.  Litvinov practically repeated his speech of last
night, making it, however, a little more demagogic in
character, pointing out that after the Allied victory, the only
corner of the world not dominated by Allied capital was
Soviet Russia.

The Soviet passed a resolution expressing
"firm confidence that the Soviet Government will
succeed in getting peace and so in opening a wide road to
the construction of a proletarian state." A note was passed
up to Kamenev who, glancing at it, announced that the
newly elected representative of the Chinese workmen in
Moscow wished to speak.  This was Chitaya Kuni, a solid
little Chinaman with a big head, in black leather coat and
breeches.  I had often seen him before, and wondered who
he was.  He was received with great cordiality and made a
quiet, rather shy speech in which he told them he was
learning from them how to introduce socialism in China, and
more compliments of the same sort.  Reinstein replied,
telling how at an American labour congress some years back
the Americans shut the door in the face of a representative
of a union of foreign workmen.  "Such," he said, "was the
feeling in America at the time when Gompers was supreme,
but that time has passed." Still, as I listened to Reinstein, I
wondered in how many other countries besides Russia, a
representative of foreign labour would be thus welcomed.
The reason has probably little to do with the
good-heartedness of the Russians.  Owing to the
general unification of wages Mr. Kuni could not
represent the competition of cheap labour.  I talked to the
Chinaman afterwards.  He is president of the Chinese
Soviet.  He told me they had just about a thousand Chinese
workmen in Moscow, and therefore had a right to
representation in the government of the town.  I asked about
the Chinese in the Red Army, and he said there were two or
three thousand, not more.


February 13th.

I drank tea with an old acquaintance from the provinces, a
Russian who, before the revolution, owned a leather-bag
factory which worked in close connection with his uncle's
tannery.  He gave me a short history of events at home.  The
uncle had started with small capital, and during the war had
made enough to buy outright the tannery in which he had
had shares.  The story of his adventures since the October
revolution is a very good illustration of the rough and ready
way in which theory gets translated into practice.  I am
writing it, as nearly as possible, as it was told by the nephew.

During the first revolution, that is from March till October
1917, he fought hard against the    workmen, and was one
of the founders of a Soviet of factory owners, the object of
which was to defeat the efforts of the workers' Soviets.*
 [(*)By agreeing upon lock-outs,etc.] This, of course,
was smashed by the October Revolution, and "Uncle, after
being forced, as a property owner, to pay considerable
contributions, watched the newspapers closely, realized that
after the nationalization of the banks resistance was
hopeless, and resigned himself to do what he could, not to
lose his factory altogether."

He called together all the workmen, and proposed that they
should form an artel or co-operative society
and take the factory into their own hands, each man
contributing a thousand roubles towards the capital with
which to run it.  Of course the workmen had
not got a thousand roubles apiece, "so uncle offered to pay it
in for them, on the understanding that they would eventually
pay him back."  This was illegal, but the little town was a
long way from the centre of things, and it seemed a good
way out of the difficulty.  He did not expect to get it back,
but he hoped in this way to keep control of the tannery,
which he wished to develop, having a paternal interest in it.

Things worked very well.  They elected a committee of
control.  "Uncle was elected president, I was elected
vice-president, and there were three workmen.  We are
working on those lines to this day.  They give uncle 1,500
roubles a month, me a thousand, and the bookkeeper a
thousand.  The only difficulty is that the men will treat uncle
as the owner, and this may mean trouble if things go wrong.
Uncle is for ever telling them,  It's your factory, don't call
me Master,' and they reply, 'Yes, it's our factory all right, but
you are still Master, and that must be.'"

Trouble came fast enough, with the tax levied on the
propertied classes.  "Uncle," very wisely, had ceased to be a
property owner.  He had given up his house to the factory,
and been allotted rooms in it, as president of the factory
Soviet.  He was therefore really unable to pay when the
people from the District Soviet came to tell him that he had
been assessed to pay a tax of sixty thousand roubles.  He
explained the position.  The nephew was also present and
joined in the argument, whereupon the tax-collectors
consulted a bit of paper and retorted, "A tax of twenty
thousand has been assessed on you too.  Be so good as to
put your coat on."

That meant arrest, and the nephew said he had five
thousand roubles and would pay that, but could pay no
more.  Would that do?

"Very well," said the tax-collector, "fetch it."

The nephew fetched it.

"And now put your coat on."

"But you said it would be all right if I paid the five

"That's the only way to deal with people like you.  We
recognize that your case is hard, and we dare say that you
will get off.  But the Soviet has told us to collect the whole
tax or the people who refuse to pay it, and they have
decreed that if we came back without one or the other, we
shall go to prison ourselves.  You can hardly expect us to go
and sit in prison out of pity for you.  So on with your coat
and come along."

They went, and at the militia headquarters were shut into a
room with barred windows where they were presently joined
by most of the other rich men of the town, all in a rare state
of indignation, and some of them very angry with "Uncle,"
for taking things so quietly.  "Uncle was worrying about
nothing in the world but the tannery and the
leather-works which he was afraid might get into
difficulties now that both he and I were under lock and key."

The plutocracy of the town being thus gathered in the little
room at the militia-house, their wives came, timorously at first, and
chattered through the windows.  My informant, being
unmarried, sent word to two or three of his friends, in order
that he might not be the only one without some one to talk
with outside.  The noise was something prodigious, and the
head of the militia finally ran out into the street and arrested
one of the women, but was so discomfited when she
removed her shawl and he recognized her as his hostess at a
house where he had been billeted as a soldier that he
hurriedly let her go.  The extraordinary parliament between
the rich men of the town and their wives and friends, like a
crowd of hoodie crows, chattering outside the window,
continued until dark.

Next day the workmen from the tannery came to the
militia-house and explained that "Uncle" had really
ceased to be a member of the propertied classes,
that he was necessary to them as president of their soviet,
and that they were willing to secure his release by
paying half of the tax demanded from him out
of the factory funds.  Uncle got together thirty
thousand, the factory contributed another thirty, and he was
freed, being given a certificate that he had ceased to be an
exploiter or a property owner, and would in future be
subject only to such taxes as might be levied on the working
population.  The nephew was also freed, on the grounds that
he was wanted at the leather-works.

I asked him how things were going on.  He said, "Fairly
well, only uncle keeps worrying because the men still call
him 'Master.' Otherwise, he is very happy because he has
persuaded the workmen to set aside a large proportion of the
profits for developing the business and building a new wing
to the tannery."

"Do the men work?"

"Well," he said, "we thought that when the factory was in
their own hands they would work better, but we do not think
they do so, not noticeably, anyhow."

"Do they work worse?"

"No, that is not noticeable either."

I tried to get at his political views.  Last summer he had
told me that the Soviet Government could not last more than
another two or three months.  He was then looking forward
to its downfall.  Now he did not like it any better, but he was
very much afraid of war being brought into Russia, or rather
of the further disorders which war would cause.  He took a
queer sort of pride in the way in which the territory of the
Russian republic was gradually resuming its old frontiers.
"In the old days no one ever thought the Red Army would
come to anything," he said.  "You can't expect much from
the Government, but it does keep order, and I can do my
work and rub along all right." It was quite funny to hear him
in one breath grumbling at the revolution and in the next
anxiously asking whether I did not think they had weathered
the storm, so that there would be no more disorders.

Knowing that in some country places there had been
appalling excesses, I asked him how the Red Terror that
followed the attempt on the life of Lenin had shown itself in
their district.  He laughed.

"We got off very cheaply," he said.  "This is what
happened.  A certain rich merchant's widow had a fine
house, with enormous stores of all kinds of things, fine
knives and forks, and too many of everything.  For instance,
she had twenty-two samovars of all sizes and sorts.  Typical
merchant's house, so many tablecloths that they could not
use them all if they lived to be a hundred.  Well, one fine
day, early last summer, she was told that her house was
wanted and that she must clear out.  For two days she ran
hither and thither trying to get out of giving it up.  Then she
saw it was no good, and piled all those things, samovars and
knives and forks and dinner services and tablecloths and
overcoats (there were over a dozen fur overcoats) in the
garrets which she closed and sealed, and got the president of
the Soviet to come and put his seal also.  In the end things
were so friendly that he even put a sentinel there to see that
the seal should not be broken.  Then came the news from
Petrograd and Moscow about the Red terror, and the Soviet,
after holding a meeting and deciding that it ought to do
something, and being on too good terms with all of us to do
anything very bad, suddenly remembered poor Maria
Nicolaevna's garrets.  They broke the seals and tumbled out
all the kitchen things, knives, forks, plates, furniture, the
twenty-two samovars and the overcoats, took them in carts
to the Soviet and declared them national property.  National
property!  And a week or two later there was a wedding of a
daughter of one of the members of the Soviet, and somehow
or other the knives and forks were on the table, and as for
samovars, there were enough to make tea for a hundreds."


February 13th.

After yesterday's talk with a capitalist victim of the
revolution, I am glad for the sake of contrast to set beside it
a talk with one of the revolution's chief theorists. The
leather-worker illustrated the revolution as it affects an
individual.  The revolutionary theorist was quite incapable of
even considering  his own or any other individual interests
and thought only in terms of enormous movements in which
the experiences of an individual had only the significance of
the adventures of one ant among a myriad.  Bucharin,
member of the old economic mission to Berlin, violent
opponent of the Brest peace, editor of Pravda, author of
many books on economics and revolution, indefatigable
theorist, found me drinking tea at a table in the Metropole.

I had just bought a copy of a magazine which contained
a map of the world, in which most of Europe was coloured
red or pink for actual or potential revolution.  I showed it to
Bucharin and said, "You cannot be surprised that people
abroad talk of you as of the new Imperialists."

Bucharin took the map and looked at it.

"Idiotism, rank idiotism!" he said.  "At the same time," he
added, "I do think we have entered upon a period of
revolution which may last fifty years before the revolution is
at last victorious in all Europe and finally in all the world."

Now, I have a stock theory which I am used to set before
revolutionaries of all kinds, nearly always with interesting
results. (See p.118.) I tried it on Bucharin.  I said:-

"You people are always saying that there will be revolution
in England.  Has it not occurred to you that England is a
factory and not a granary, so that in the event of revolution
we should be immediately cut off from all food supplies.
According to your own theories, English capital would unite
with American in ensuring that within six weeks the
revolution had nothing to eat.  England is not a country like
Russia where you can feed yourselves somehow or other
by simply walking to where there is food.  Six weeks would
see starvation and reaction in England.  I am inclined to
think that a revolution in England would do Russia more
harm than good."

Bucharin laughed.  "You old  counter-revolutionary!"
he said.  "That would be all true, but you must look
further.  You are right in one thing.  If the
revolution spreads in Europe, America will cut off food
supplies.  But by that time we shall be getting food from

"And is the poor Siberian railway to feed Russia, Germany,
and England?"

"Before then Pichon and his friends will have gone.  There
will be France to feed too.  But you must not forget that
there are the cornfields of Hungary and Roumania.  Once
civil war ends in Europe, Europe can feed herself.  With
English and German engineering assistance we shall soon
turn Russia into an effective grain supply for all the working
men's republics of the Continent.  But even then the task will
be only beginning.  The moment there is revolution in
England, the English colonies will throw themselves
eagerly into the arms of America.  Then will come
America's turn, and, finally, it is quite likely that we shall all
have to combine to overthrow the last stronghold of
capitalism in some South African bourgeois republic.  I can
well imagine," he said, looking far away with his bright little
eyes through the walls of the dark dining room, "that the
working men's republics of Europe may have to have a
colonial policy of an inverse kind.  Just as now you conquer
backward races in order to exploit them, so in the future you
may have to conquer the colonists to take from them the
means of exploitation.  There is only one thing I am afraid

"And what is that?"

"Sometimes I am afraid that the struggle will be so bitter and
so long drawn out that the whole of European culture may
be trampled under foot."

I thought of my leather-worker of yesterday, one of
thousands experiencing in their own persons the appalling
discomforts, the turn over and revaluation of all established
values that revolution, even without death and civil war,
means to the ordinary man; and, being perhaps a little
faint-hearted, I finished my tea in silence. Bucharin, after
carelessly opening these colossal perspectives, drank his tea
in one gulp, prodigiously sweetened with my saccharin,
reminded me of his illness in the summer, when Radek
scoured the town for sweets for him, curing him with no
other medicine, and then hurried off, fastening his coat as he
went, a queer little De Quincey of revolution, to disappear
into the dusk, before, half running, half walking, as his way
is, he reached the other end of the big dimly lit, smoke-filled dining room.


February 14th.

I had a rather grim talk with Meshtcheriakov at dinner.  He
is an old Siberian exile, who visited England last summer.
He is editing a monthly magazine in Moscow, mostly
concerned with the problems of reconstrucition, and besides
that doing a lot of educational work among the labouring
classes.  He is horrified at the economic position of the
country.  Isolation, he thinks, is forcing Russia backwards
towards a primeval state.

"We simply cannot get things.  For example, I am lecturing
on Mathematics.  I have more pupils than I can deal with.
They are as greedy for knowledge as sponges for water, and
I cannot get even the simplest text-books for them.  I cannot
even find in the second-hand book stores an old Course of Mathematics
from which I could myself make a series of copies for them.
I have to teach like a teacher of the middle ages.  But,
like him, I have pupils who want to learn."

"In another three years," said some one else at the table, "we
shall be living in ruins.  Houses in Moscow were always kept
well warmed.  Lack of transport has brought with it lack of
fuel, and water-pipes have burst in thousands of houses.
We cannot get what is needed to mend them.  In the same
way we cannot get paints for the walls, which are
accordingly rotting.  In another three years we shall have all
the buildings of Moscow tumbling about our ears."

Some one else joined in with a laugh: "In ten years we shall
be running about on all fours."

"And in twenty we shall begin sprouting tails."

Meshtcheriakov finished his soup and laid down his wooden

"There is another side to all these things," he said.  "In
Russia, even if the blockade lasts, we shall get things
established again sooner than anywhere else, because we
have all the raw materials in our own country.  With us it is a
question of transport only, and of transport within our own
borders.  In a few years, I am convinced, in spite of all
that is working against us, Russia will be a better place to
live in than anywhere else in Europe.  But we have a bad
time to go through.  And not we alone.  The effects of the
war are scarcely visible as yet in the west, but they will
become visible.  Humanity has a period of torment before it
. . . ."

"Bucharin says fifty years," I said, referring to my talk of

"Maybe.  I think less than that.  But the revolution will be far
worse for you nations of the west than it has been for us.  In
the west, if there is revolution, they will use artillery at once,
and wipe out whole districts.  The governing classes in the
west are determined and organized in a way our
home-grown capitalists never were.  The Autocracy never allowed
them to organize, so, when the Autocracy itself fell, our task
was comparatively easy.  There was nothing in the way.  It
will not be like that in Germany."


I read in one of the newspapers that a member of the
American Commission in Berlin reasoned from the fact that
the Germans were crowding to theatres and spectacles that
they could not be hungry.  There can be no question about
the hunger of the people of Moscow, but the theatres are
crowded, and there is such demand for seats that speculators
acquire tickets in the legitimate way and sell them illicitly
near the doors of the theatre to people who have not been
able to get in, charging, of course, double the price or even
more.  Interest in the theatre, always keen in Moscow, seems
to me to have rather increased than decreased.  There is a
School of Theatrical Production, with lectures on every
subject connected with the stage, from stage carpentry
upwards.  A Theatrical Bulletin is published three times
weekly, containing the programmes of all the theatres and
occasional articles on theatrical subjects.  I had been told
in Stockholm that the Moscow theatres were closed.  The
following is an incomplete list of the plays and spectacles to
be seen at various theatres on February 13 and February 14,
copied from the Theatrical Bulletin of those dates.  Just as it
would be interesting to know what French audiences
enjoyed at the time of the French revolution, so I think it
worth while to record the character of the entertainments at
present popular in Moscow.

Opera at the Great Theatre.--"Sadko" by Rimsky-Korsakov
and "Samson and Delilah" by Saint-Saens.

Small State Theatre.--"Besheny Dengi" by Ostrovsky and
"Starik" by Gorky.

Moscow Art Theatre.-- "The Cricket on the Hearth" by
Dickens and "The Death of Pazuchin" by Saltykov-Shtchedrin.

Opera. "Selo Stepantchiko" and "Coppellia."

People's Palace.--"Dubrovsky" by Napravnik and "Demon"
by Rubinstein.

Zamoskvoretzky Theatre.--"Groza" by Ostrovsky and
"Meshitchane" by Gorky.

Popular Theatre.--" The Miracle of Saint, Anthony" by

Komissarzhevskaya Theatre.--"A Christmas Carol" by
Dickens and "The Accursed Prince" by Remizov.

Korsh Theatre.--"Much Ado about Nothing" by
Shakespeare and "Le Misanthrope" and "Georges Dandin"
by Moli=8Are.

Dramatic Theatre.--"Alexander I" by Merezhkovsky.

Theatre of Drama and Comedy.-- "Little Dorrit" by Dickens
and "The King's Barber" by Lunacharsky.

Besides these, other theatres were playing
K. R. (Konstantin Romanov), Ostrovsky, Potapenko,
Vinitchenko, etc.  The two Studios of the Moscow Art
Theatre were playing "Rosmersholm" and a repertoire of
short plays.  They, like the Art Theatre Company,
occasionally play in the suburban theatres when their place
at home is taken by other performers.

I went to the Great State Theatre to
Saint-Saens' "Samson and Delilah." I had a seat in
the box close above the orchestra, from which I could
obtain a view equally good of the stage and of the house.
Indeed, the view was rather better of the house than of the
stage.  But that was as I had wished, for the house was what
I had come to see.

It had certainly changed greatly since the
pre-revolutionary period.  The Moscow plutocracy of bald
merchants and bejewelled fat wives had gone.  Gone with
them were evening dresses and white shirt fronts.  The
whole audience was in the monotone of everyday clothes.
The only contrast was given by a small group of Tartar
women in the dress circle, who were shawled in white over
head and shoulders, in the Tartar fashion.  There were many
soldiers, and numbers of men who had obviously come
straight from their work.  There were a good many grey and
brown woollen jerseys about, and people were sitting in
overcoats of all kinds and ages, for the theatre was very
cold. (This, of course, was due to lack of fuel, which may in
the long run lead to a temporary stoppage of the theatres if
electricity cannot be spared for lighting them.) The orchestra
was also variously dressed.  Most of the players of brass
instruments had evidently been in regimental bands
during the war, and still retained their khaki-green tunics
with a very mixed collection of trousers and breeches.
Others were in every kind of everyday clothes.  The
conductor alone wore a frock coat, and sat in his place like a
specimen from another age, isolated in fact by his smartness
alike from his ragged orchestra and from the stalls behind

I looked carefully to see the sort of people who fill the stalls
under the new regime, and decided that there has been a
general transfer of brains from the gallery to the floor of the
house.  The same people who in the old days scraped
kopecks and waited to get a good place near the ceiling now
sat where formerly were the people who came here to digest
their dinners.  Looking from face to face that night I thought
there were very few people in the theatre who had had
anything like a good dinner to digest.  But, as for their
keenness, I can imagine few audiences to which, from the
actor's point of view, it would be better worth while to play.
Applause, like brains, had come down from the galleries.

Of the actual performance I have little to say except that
ragged clothes and empty stomachs seemed to make very
little difference to the orchestra.  Helzer, the ballerina,
danced as well before this audience as ever before the
bourgeoisie.  As I turned up the collar of my coat I reflected
that the actors deserved all the applause they got for their
heroism in playing in such cold. Now and then during the
evening I was unusually conscious of the unreality of opera
generally, perhaps because of the contrast in magnificence
between the stage and the shabby, intelligent audience.  Now
and then, on the other hand, stage and audience seemed one
and indivisible.  For "Samson and Delilah" is itself a poem
of revolution, and gained enormously by being played by
people every one of whom had seen something of the sort in
real life.  Samson's stirring up of the Israelites reminded me
of many scenes in Petrograd in 1917, and when, at last, he
brings the temple down in ruins on his triumphant enemies, I
was reminded of the words attributed to Trotsky:- "If we
are, in the end, forced to go, we shall slam the door behind
us in such away that the echo shall be felt throughout the

Going home afterwards through the snow, I did not see
a single armed man.  A year ago the streets were deserted
after ten in the evening except by those who, like myself,
had work which took them to meetings and such things late
at night.  They used to be empty except for the military
pickets round their log-fires.  Now they were full of
foot-passengers going home from the theatres, utterly
forgetful of the fact that only twelve months before they had
thought the streets of Moscow unsafe after dark.  There
could be no question about it. The revolution is settling
down, and people now think of other matters than the old
question, will it last one week or two?


February 15th.

I went by appointment to see Pavlovitch, President of the
Committee of State Constructions.  It was a very jolly
morning and the streets were crowded.  As I walked through
the gate into the Red Square I saw the usual crowd of
peasant women at the little chapel of the Iberian Virgin,
where there was a blaze of candles.  On the wall of what
used, I think, to be the old town hall, close by the gate, some
fanatic agnostic has set a white inscription on a tablet,
"Religion is opium for the People." The tablet, which has
been there a long time, is in shape not unlike the customary
frame for a sacred picture.  I saw an old peasant, evidently
unable to read, cross himself solemnly before the chapel,
and then, turning to the left, cross himself as solemnly
before this anti-religious inscription.  It is perhaps
worth while to remark in passing that the new Communist
programme, while insisting, as before, on the definite
separation of church and state, and church and school, now
includes the particular statement that "care should be taken
in no way to hurt the feelings of the religious." Churches and
chapels are open, church processions take place as before,
and Moscow, as in the old days, is still a city of church bells.

A long line of sledges with welcome bags of flour was
passing through the square.  Soldiers of the Red Army were
coming off parade, laughing and talking, and very noticeably
smarter than the men of six months ago.  There was a bright
clear sky behind the fantastic Cathedral of St. Basil, and the
rough graves under the Kremlin wall, where those are buried
who died in the fighting at the time of the November
Revolution, have been  tidied up.  There was
scaffolding round the gate of the Kremlin which was
damaged at that time and is being carefully repaired.

The Committee of State Constructions was founded last
spring to coordinate the management of the various
engineering and other constructive works previously
carried on by independent departments.  It became an
independent organ with its own finances about the middle of
the summer.  Its headquarters are in the Nikolskaya, in the
Chinese town, next door to the old building of the
Anglo-Russian Trading Company, which still bears the Lion
and the Unicorn sculptured above its green and white fa=87ade
some time early in the seventeenth century.

Pavlovitch is a little, fat, spectacled man with a bald head,
fringed with the remains of red hair, and a little reddish
beard.  He was dressed in a black leather coat and trousers.
He complained bitterly that all his plans for engineering
works to improve the productive possibilities of the country
were made impracticable by the imperious demands of war.
As an old Siberian exile he had been living in France before
the revolution and, as he said, had seen there how France
made war. "They sent her locomotives, and rails for the
locomotives to run on, everything she needed they sent her
from all parts of the world.  When they sent horses, they
sent also hay for their food, and shoes for their feet, and
even nails for the shoes.  If we were supplied like that,
Russia would be at peace in a week.  But we have nothing,
and can get nothing, and are forced to be at war against our

"And war spoils everything," he continued.  "This committee
should be at work on affairs of peace, making Russia more
useful to herself and to the rest of the world.  You know our
plans.  But with fighting on all our fronts, and with all our
best men away, we are compelled to use ninety per cent. of
our energy and material for the immediate needs of the
army.  Every day we get masses of telegrams from all fronts,
asking for this or that.  For example, Trotsky telegraphs here
simply "We shall be in Orenburg in two days," leaving us to
do what is necessary.  Then with the map before me, I have
to send what will be needed, no matter what useful work has
to be abandoned meanwhile, engineers, railway gangs for
putting right the railways, material for bridges, and so on.

"Indeed, the biggest piece of civil engineering done in Russia
for many years was the direct result of our fear lest you
people or the Germans should take our Baltic fleet.  Save
the dreadnoughts we could not, but I decided to save what
we could.  The widening and deepening of the canal system
so as to shift boats from the Baltic to the Volga had been
considered in the time of the Tzar.  It was considered and
dismissed as impracticable.  Once, indeed, they did try to
take two torpedo-boats over, and they lifted them on barges
to make the attempt.  Well, we said that as the thing could
be planned, it could be done, and the canals are deepened
and widened, and we took through them, under their own
power, seven big destroyers, six small destroyers and four
submarine boats, which, arriving unexpectedly before
Kazan, played a great part in our victory there.  But the
pleasure of that was spoilt for me by the knowledge that I
had had to take men and material from the building of the
electric power station, with which we hope to make
Petrograd independent of the coal supply.

"The difficulties we have to fight against are, of course,
enormous, but much of what the old regime failed to do, for
want of initiative or for other reasons, we have done and are
doing. Some of the difficulties are of a most
unexpected kind.  The local inhabitants, partly, no doubt,
under the influence of our political opponents, were
extremely hostile with regard to the building of the power
station, simply because they did not understand it.  I went
there myself, and explained to them what it would mean,
that their river would become a rich river, that they would be
able to get cheap power for all sorts of works, and that they
would have electric light in all their houses.  Then they
carried me shoulder high through the village, and sent
telegrams to Lenin, to Zinoviev, to everybody they could
think of, and since then we have had nothing but help from

"Most of our energy at present has to be spent on mending
and making railways and roads for the use of the army.
Over 11,000 versts of railway are under construction, and
we have finished the railway from Arzamas to Shikhran.
Twelve hundred versts of highroad are under construction.
And to meet the immediate needs of the army we have
already repaired or made 8,000 versts of roads of various
kinds.  As a matter of fact the internal railway net of
Russia is by no means as bad as people make out.  By its
means, hampered as we are, we have been able to beat the
counter-revolutionaries, concentrating our best troops, now
here, now there, wherever need may be.  Remember that the
whole way round our enormous frontiers we are being
forced to fight groups of reactionaries supported at first
mostly by the Germans, now mostly by yourselves, by the
Roumanians, by the Poles, and in some districts by the
Germans still.  Troops fighting on the Ural front are fighting
a month later south of Voronezh, and a month later again
are having a holiday, marching on the heels of the Germans
as they evacuate the occupied provinces.  Some of our
troops are not yet much good.  One day they fight, and the
next they think they would rather not. So that our best
troops, those in which there are most workmen, have to be
flung in all directions.  We are at work all the time enabling
this to be done, and making new roads to enable it to be
done still better.  But what waste, when there are so many
other things we want to do!

"All the time the needs of war are pressing on
us. To-day is the first day for two months that
we have been able to warm this building.  We have
been working here in overcoats and fur hats in a
temperature below freezing point.  Why?  Wood
was already on its way to us, when we had suddenly
to throw troops northwards.  Our wood had to be
flung out of the wagons, and the Red Army put in its place,
and the wagons sent north again.  The thing had to be done,
and we have had to work as best we could in the cold.
Many of my assistants have fallen ill.  Two only yesterday
had to be taken home in a condition something like that of a
fit, the result of prolonged sedentary work in unheated
rooms.  I have lost the use of my right hand for the same
reason." He stretched out his right hand, which he had been
keeping in the pocket of his coat.  It was an ugly sight, with
swollen, immovable fingers, like the roots of a vegetable.

At this moment some one came in to speak to Pavlovitch.
He stood at the table a little behind me, so that I did not see
him, but Pavlovitch, noticing that he looked curiously at me,
said, "Are you acquaintances?"  I looked round and
saw Sukhanov, Gorky's friend, formerly one of the
cleverest writers on the Novaya Jizn.  I jumped up and
shook hands with him.

"What, have you gone over to the Bolsheviks?" I asked.

"Not at all," said Sukhanov, smiling, "but I am working

"Sukhanov thinks that we do less harm than anybody else,"
said Pavlovitch, and laughed.  "Go and talk to him and he'll
tell you all there is to be said against us.  And there's lots to

Sukhanov was an extremely bitter enemy of the Bolsheviks,
and was very angry with me when, over a year ago, I told
him I was convinced that sooner or later he would be
working with them.  I told Pavlovitch the story, and he
laughed again.  "A long time ago," he said, "Sukhanov made
overtures to me through Miliutin.  I agreed, and everything
was settled, but when a note appeared in  Pravda to say that
he was going to work in this Committee, he grew shy, and
wrote a contradiction.  Miliutin was very angry and asked
me to publish the truth.  I refused, but wrote on that day in
my diary, Sukhanov will come. Three months later he
was already working with us. One day he told me that in the
big diary of the revolution which he is writing, and will write
very well, he had some special abuse for me.  'I have none
for you,' I said, 'but I will show you one page of my own
diary,' and I showed him that page, and asked him to look at
the date.  Sukhanov is an honest fellow, and was bound to

He went on with his talk.

"You know, hampered as we are by lack of everything, we
could not put up the fight we are putting up against the
reactionaries if it were not for the real revolutionary spirit of
the people as a whole.  The reactionaries have money,
munitions, supplies of all kinds, instructors, from outside.
We have nothing, and yet we beat them.  Do you know that
the English have given them tanks?  Have you heard that in
one place they used gases or something of the kind, and
blinded eight hundred men?  And yet we win.  Why?
Because from every town we capture we get new strength.
And any town they take is a source of weakness to them,
one more town to garrison and hold against the wishes
of the population."

"And if you do get peace, what then!"

"We want from abroad all that we cannot make ourselves.
We want a hundred thousand versts of rails.  Now we have
to take up rails in one place to lay them in another.  We want
new railways built.  We want dredgers for our canals and
river works.  We want excavators."

"And how do you expect people to sell you these things
when your foreign credit is not worth a farthing?"

"We shall pay in concessions, giving foreigners the right to
take raw materials.  Timber, actual timber, is as good as
credit.  We have huge areas of forest in the north, and every
country in Europe needs timber.  Let that be our currency
for foreign purchases.  We are prepared to say, 'You build
this, or give us that, and we will give you the right to take so
much timber for yourselves.' And so on.  And concessions
of other kinds also.  As a matter of fact negotiations are now
proceeding with a foreign firm for the building of a railway
from the Obi to Kotlas."

"But part of that district is not in your hands.

"If we get peace we shall be able to arrange that without difficulty."

Just as I was going he stopped me, and evidently not in the
least realizing that English people generally have come to
think of him and his friends as of some strange sort of
devils, if not with horns and tails, certainly far removed from
human beings, he asked:--

"If we do get peace, don't you think there will be engineers
and skilled labourers in England who will volunteer to come
out to Russia and help us?  There is so much to do that I can
promise they will have the best we can give them.  We are
almost as short of skilled men as we are of locomotives.  We
are now taking simple unskilled workmen who show any
signs of brains and training them as we go along.  There
must be engineers, railwaymen, mechanics among English
socialists who would be glad to come.  And of course they
need not be socialists, so long as they are good engineers."

That last suggestion of his is entirely characteristic.  It is
impossible to make the Bolsheviks realize that the English
people feel any hostility towards them.  Nor do they feel
hostility towards the English as such.  On my way back
to the hotel I met a party of English soldiers, taken prisoners
on the northern front, walking free, without a convoy,
through the streets.


February 17th.

My general impression that the Soviet revolution has passed
through its period of internal struggle and is concentrating
upon constructive work so far as that is allowed by war on
all its frontiers, and that the population is settling down
under the new regime, was confirmed by the meeting of the
Executive Committee which definitely limited the powers of
the Extraordinary Commission.  Before the sitting was
opened I had a few words with Peters and with Krylenko.
The excitement of the internal struggle was over.  It had
been bitterly fought within the party, and both Krylenko of
the Revolutionary Tribunal and Peters of the Extraordinary
Commission were there merely to witness the official act that
would define their new position.  Peters talked of his failure
to get away for some shooting; Krylenko jeered at me
for having refused to believe in the Lockhart conspiracy.
Neither showed any traces of the bitter struggle waged
within the party for and against the almost dictatorial powers
of the Extraordinary Commission for dealing with counter-revolution.

The sitting opened with a report by Dserzhinsky, that strange
ascetic who, when in prison in Warsaw, insisted on doing
the dirty work of emptying the slops and cleaning other
people's cells besides his own, on a theory that one man
should where possible take upon himself the evil which
would otherwise have to be shared by all; and in the
dangerous beginning of the revolution had taken upon
himself the most unpopular of all posts, that of President of
the Extraordinary Commission.  His personal uprightness is
the complement of an absolute personal courage, shown
again and again during the last eighteen months.  At the time
of the Left Social Revolutionary mutiny he went without a
guard to the headquarters of the mutineers, believing that he
could bring them to reason, and when arrested by them
dared them to shoot him and showed so bold a front that in
the end the soldiers set to watch him set him free and
returned to their allegiance.  This thin, tallish man, with a
fanatic face not unlike some of the traditional portraits of St.
Francis, the terror of counter-revolutionaries and criminals
alike, is a very bad speaker.  He looks into the air over the
heads of his audience and talks as if he were not addressing
them at all but some one else unseen.  He talks even of a
subject which he knows perfectly with curious inability to
form his sentences; stops, changes words, and often,
recognizing that he cannot finish his sentence, ends where
he is, in the middle of it, with a little odd, deprecating
emphasis, as if to say: "At this point there is a full stop.  At
least so it seems."

He gave a short colourless sketch of the history of the
Extraordinary Commission.  He referred to the various crises
with which it had had to deal, beginning with the drunken
pogroms in Petrograd, the suppression of the combined
anarchists and criminals in Moscow (he mentioned that after
that four hours' struggle which ended in the clearing out of
the anarchists' strongholds, criminality in Moscow
decreased by 80 per cent.), to the days of the Terror when,
now here, now there, armed risings against the Soviet were
engineered by foreigners and by  counter-revolutionaries
working with them.  He then made the point that
throughout all this time the revolution had
been threatened by large-scale revolts.  Now the revolution
was safe from such things and was threatened only by
individual treacheries of various kinds, not by things which
needed action on a large scale.  They had traitors, no doubt,
in the Soviet institutions who were waiting for the day
(which would never come) to join with their enemies, and
meanwhile were secretly hampering their work.  They did
not need on that account to destroy their institutions as a
whole.  The struggle with counter-revolution had passed to
a new stage.  They no longer had to do open battle with
open enemies; they had merely to guard themselves against
individuals.  The laws of war by which, meeting him on the
field of battle, the soldier had a right to kill his enemy
without trial, no longer held good.  The situation was now
that of peace, where each offender must have his guilt
proved before a court.  Therefore the right of
sentencing was removed from the Extraordinary
Commission; but if, through unforeseen circumstances, the
old conditions should return, they intended that the
dictatorial powers of the Commission should be restored to it
until those conditions had ceased.  Thus if, in case of armed
counter-revolution, a district were declared to be in a state
of war, the Extraordinary Commission would resume its old
powers.  Otherwise its business would be to hand offenders,
such as Soviet officials who were habitually late (here there
was a laugh, the only sign throughout his speech that
Dserzhinsky was holding the attention of his audience), over
to the Revolutionary Tribunal, which would try them and,
should their guilt be proved, put them in concentration
camps to learn to work.  He read point by point the
resolutions establishing these, changes and providing for the
formation of Revolutionary Tribunals.  Trial to take place
within forty-eight hours after the conclusion of the
investigation, and the investigation to take not longer than a
month.  He ended as he ended his sentences, as if by
accident, and people scarcely realized he had finished
before Sverdlov announced the next speaker.

Krylenko proposed an amendment to ensure that no member
of the Revolutionary Tribunal could be also a member of the
Extraordinary Commission which had taken up and
investigated a case.  His speech was very disappointing.  He
is not at his best when addressing a serious meeting like that
of the Executive Committee.  The Krylenko who spoke
to-night, fluently, clearly, but without particular art, is a very
different Krylenko from the virtuoso in mob oratory, the
little, dangerous, elderly man in ensign's uniform who
swayed the soldiers' mass meetings in Petrograd a year and a
half ago.  I remember hearing him speak in barracks soon
after the murder of Shingarev and Kokoshkin, urging class
struggle and at the same time explaining the difference
between that and the murder of sick men in bed.  He
referred to the murder and, while continuing his speech,
talking already of another subject, be went through the
actions of a man approaching a bed and killing a sleeper
with a pistol.  It was a trick, of course, but the thrilling,
horrible effect of it moved the whole audience with a
shudder of disgust.  There was nothing of this kind in his
short lecture on jurisprudence

Avanesov, the tall, dark secretary of the Executive
Committee, with the face of a big, benevolent hawk hooded
in long black hair, opposed Krylenko on the ground that
there were not enough trustworthy workers to ensure that in
country districts such a provision could be carried out.
Finally the resolution was passed as a whole and the
amendment was referred to the judgment of the presidium.

The Committee next passed to the consideration of the
Extraordinary Tax levied on the propertied classes.
Krestinsky, Commissary of Finance, made his report to a
grim audience, many of whom quite frankly regarded the tax
as a political mistake.  Krestinsky is a short, humorous man,
in dark spectacles, dressed more like a banker than like a
Bolshevik.  It was clear that the collection of the tax had not
been as successful as he had previously suggested.  I was
interested in his reference to the double purpose of the tax
and in the reasons he gave for its comparative failure.
The tax had a fiscal purpose, partly to cover deficit,
partly by drawing in paper money to raise the value of the
rouble.  It had also a political purpose.  It was intended to
affect the propertied classes only, and thus to weaken the
Kulaks (hard-fists, rich peasants) in the villages and to teach the
poorer peasants the meaning of the revolution.
Unfortunately some Soviets, where the minority of the
Kulaks had retained the unfair domination given it by its
economic strength, had distributed the tax-paying equally
over the whole population, thus very naturally raising the
resentment of the poor who found themselves taxed to the
same amount as those who could afford to pay.  It had been
necessary to send circular telegrams emphasizing the terms
of the decree.  In cases where the taxation had been carried
out as intended there had been no difficulty.  The most
significant reason for the partial unsuccess was that the
propertied class, as such, had already diminished to a greater
extent than had been supposed, and many of those taxed, for
example, as factory owners were already working, not as
factory owners, but as paid directors in nationalized
factories, and were therefore no longer subject to the
tax.  In other words, the partial failure of the tax was a proof
of the successful development of the revolution. (This is
illustrated by the concrete case of "Uncle"
recorded on p. 73.) Krestinsky believed that the revolution
had gone so far that no further tax of , this kind would be
either possible or necessary.


Whatever else they may think of him, not even his enemies
deny that Vladimir Ilyitch Oulianov (Lenin) is one of the
greatest personalities of his time.  I therefore make no
apology for writing down such scraps of his conversation as
seem to illustrate his manner of mind.

He was talking of the lack of thinkers in the English labour
movement, and said he remembered hearing Shaw speak at
some meeting.  Shaw, he said, was "A good man fallen
among Fabians" and a great deal further left than his
company.  He had not heard of "The Perfect Wagnerite,"
but was interested when I told him the general idea of the
book, and turned fiercely on an interrupter who said that
Shaw was a clown.  "He may be a clown for the bourgeoisie
in a bourgeois state, but they would not think him a clown in
a revolution."

He asked whether Sidney Webb was consciously
working in the interests of the capitalists, and when I said I
was quite sure that he was not, he said, "Then he has more
industry than brains.  He certainly has great knowledge."

He was entirely convinced that England was on the eve of
revolution, and pooh-poohed my objections.  "Three
months ago I thought it would end in all the world having to
fight the centre of reaction in England.  But I do not think so
now.  Things have gone further there than in France, if the
news as to the extent of the strikes is true."

I pointed out some of the circumstances, geographical and
economical, which would make the success of a violent
revolution in England problematical in the extreme, and put
to him the same suggestion that I put to Bucharin (see page
81), namely, that a suppressed movement in England would
be worse for Russia than our traditional method of
compromise.  He agreed at once, but said, "That is quite
true, but you cannot stop a revolution . . . although Ramsay
MacDonald will try to at the last minute.  Strikes and
Soviets.  If these two habits once get hold, nothing will
keep the workmen from them.  And Soviets, once started,
must sooner or later come to supreme power." Then, "But
certainly it would be much more difficult in England.  Your
big clerk and shop-keeping class would oppose it, until the
workmen broke them.  Russia was indeed the only country
in which the revolution could start.  And we are not yet
through our troubles with the peasantry."

I suggested that one reason why it had been possible in
Russia was that they had had room to retreat.

"Yes," he said.  "The distances saved us.  The Germans
were frightened of them, at the time when they could indeed
have eaten us up, and won peace, which the Allies would
have given them in gratitude for our destruction.  A
revolution in England would have nowhere whither to

Of the Soviets he said, "In the beginning I thought they were
and would remain a purely Russian form; but it is now quite
clear that under various names they must be the instruments
of revolution everywhere."

He expressed the opinion that in England they would
not allow me to tell the truth about Russia, and gave as an
example the way in which Colonel Robins had been kept
silent in America.  He asked about Robins, "Had he really
been as friendly to the Soviet Government as he made out?"
I said, "Yes, if only as a sportsman admiring its pluck and
courage in difficulties." I quoted Robins' saying, "I can't go
against a baby I have sat up with for six months.  But if
there were a Bolshevik movement in America I'd be out with
my rifle to fight it every time." "Now that," said Lenin, "is
an honest man and more far-seeing than most.  I always
liked that man." He shook with laughter at the image of the
baby, and said, "That baby had several million other folk
sitting up with it too."

He said he had read in an English socialist paper a
comparison of his own theories with those of an American,
Daniel De Leon.  He had then borrowed some of De Leon's
pamphlets from Reinstein (who belongs to the party which
De Leon founded in America), read them for the first time,
and was amazed to see how far and how early De Leon
had pursued the same train of  thought as the Russians.
His theory that representation should be by industries,
not by areas, was already the germ of the Soviet system.
He remembered seeing De Leon at an International Conference.
De Leon made no impression at all, a grey old man,
quite unable to speak to such an audience: but evidently
a much bigger man than he looked, since his pamphlets
were written before the experience of the Russian
Revolution of 1905.  Some days afterwards I noticed that
Lenin had introduced a few phrases of De Leon, as if to do
honour to his memory, into the draft for the new programme
of the Communist party.

Talking of the lies that are told about Russia, he said it was
interesting to notice that they were mostly perversions of
truth and not pure inventions, and gave as an example the
recent story that he had recanted.  "Do you know the origin
of that?" he said.  "I was wishing a happy New Year to a
friend over the telephone, and said  'And may we commit
fewer stupidities this year than last!'  Some one overheard it
and told some one else.  A newspaper announced  Lenin
says we are committing stupidities' and so the story started."

More than ever, Lenin struck me as a happy man.  Walking
home from the Kremlin, I tried to think of any other man of
his calibre who had had a similar joyous temperament.  I
could think of none.  This little, bald-headed, wrinkled
man, who tilts his chair this way and that, laughing over one
thing or another, ready any minute to give serious advice to
any who interrupt him to ask for it, advice so well reasoned
that it is to his followers far more compelling than any
command, every one of his wrinkles is a wrinkle of laughter,
not of worry.  I think the reason must be that he is the first
great leader who utterly discounts the value of his own
personality.  He is quite without personal ambition.  More
than that, he believes, as a Marxist, in the movement of the
masses which, with or without him, would still move.  His
whole faith is in the elemental forces that move people, his
faith in himself is merely his belief that be justly estimates
the direction of those forces.  He does not believe that any
man could make or stop the revolution which he thinks inevitable.
If the Russian revolution fails, according to him, it fails only
temporarily, and because of forces beyond any man's
control.  He is consequently free with a freedom no other
great man has ever had.  It is not so much what he says that
inspires confidence in him.  It is this sensible freedom, this
obvious detachment.  With his philosophy he cannot for a
moment believe that one man's mistake might ruin all.  He is,
for himself at any rate, the exponent, not the cause, of the
events that will be for ever linked with his name.


February 20th.

To-day was an unlucky day.  I felt tired, ill and hungry, and
had arranged to talk with both Rykov, the President of the
Supreme Council of People's Economy, and Krestinsky, the
Commissar of Finance, at such awkward times that I got no
tea and could get nothing to eat until after four o'clock.  Two
such talks on an empty stomach (for the day before I had
had only a plate of soup and a little scrap of fish) were a
little too much for me, and I fear I did not gather as much
information as I should have collected under better

I had a jolly drive, early in the morning, through the Chinese
Town, and out by the gate in the old wall, up Myasnitzkaya
Street, and round to the right to a building that used to
be the Grand Hotel of Siberia, a loathsome place where
I once stayed.  Here in the old days provincial merchants put
up, who did not mind high prices and a superfluity of bugs.
It has now been turned into a hive of office work, and is the
headquarters of the Supreme Council of  Public Economy,
which, controlling production and distribution alike, is the
centre of the constructive work going on throughout the

This Council, the theorists tell me, is intended to become the
central organization of the state.  The Soviets will naturally
become less and less important as instruments of political
transition as that transition is completed and the struggle
against reaction within and without comes to an end.  Then
the chief business of the state will no longer be to protect
itself against enemies but to develop its economic life, to
increase its productivity and to improve the material
conditions of the workers of whom it is composed.  All these
tasks are those of the Supreme Council of Public Economy,
and as the bitterness of the struggle dies away this body,
which came into being almost unnoticed in the din of battle,
will become more and more important in comparison
with the Soviets, which were in origin not constructive
organizations but the instruments of a revolution, the hardest
stages of which have already been accomplished.

It is perhaps worth while to set out here the constitution of
this Council.  It is considered at present as the economic
department of the All-Russian Central Executive
Committee, to which, and to the Council of People's
Commissaries, it is responsible.  It regulates all production
and distribution.  It reports on the various estimates of the
state budget and, in conjunction with the Commissariats of
Finance and State Control, carries out the financing of all
branches of public economy.  It consists of 69 members, and
is composed as follows:--Ten representatives from the
All-Russian Executive Committee, thirty from the
All-Russian Industrial Productive Union (a union of Trade
Unions), twenty from the ten District Councils of Public
Economy, two from the All-Russian Council of Workers'
Cooperative Societies, and one representative each from the
Commissariats of Supply, Ways of Communication,
Labour, Agriculture, Finance, Trade
and Industry, and Internal Affairs.  It meets as a whole at
least once in every month.  The work of its members is
directed by a Presidium of nine members, of which it elects
eight, the President being elected by the All-Russian Central
Executive Committee, and enjoying the rank of a People's
Commissar or Minister.

I had a long talk with Rykov, the President, or rather listened
to a long lecture by him, only now and then succeeding in
stopping him by forcing a question into the thread of his
harangue.  He stammers a little, and talks so indistinctly that
for the first time (No.  The first time was when Chicherin
gabbled through the provisions of the Brest Treaty at the
fourth All-Russian Assembly.) I felt willing to forgive
normal Russians, who nearly always talk as if they were in
Petrograd and their listener in Vladivostok.

Part of what he said is embodied in what I have already
written.  But besides sketching the general aims of the
Council, Rykov talked of the present economic position of
Russia.  At the moment Russian industry was in peculiar
difficulties owing to the fuel crisis.  This was partly due
to the fact that the Czechs and the Reactionaries, who had
used the Czechs to screen their own organization, had
control of the coalfields in the Urals, and partly to the fact
that the German occupation of the Ukraine and the activities
of Krasnov had cut off Soviet Russia from the Donetz coal
basin, which had been a main source of supply, although in
the old days Petrograd had also got coal from England.  It
was now, however, clear that, with a friendly Ukraine, they
would have the use of the Donetz basin much sooner than
they had expected.

The Brest peace and the deprivations it involved had made
them consider the position of the industrial districts from a
new standpoint, and they were determined to make
Petrograd and Moscow as far as possible independent of all
fuel which had to be brought from a distance.  He referred
to the works in progress for utilizing water power to provide
electrical energy for the Petrograd factories, and said that
similar electrification, on a basis of turf fuel, is planned for

I asked how they were going to get the machines.  He
said that of course they would prefer to buy them abroad,
but that, though this was impossible, the work would not be
delayed on that account, since they could make a start with
the machines they had.  Turbines for the Petrograd works
they still hoped to obtain from abroad when peace had been
arranged.  If the worst came to the worst he thought they
could make their own.  "That is one unexpected result of
Russia's long isolation.  Her dependence on imports from
abroad is lessening." He gave an example in salt, the urgent
need of which has led to the opening of a new industry,
whose resources are such as to enable Russia not only to
supply herself with salt, but the rest of the world as well if
need should be.

I asked what were their immediate plans with regard to the
electrification of Moscow.  He said that there was no water
power near Moscow but big turf deposits which would be
used as fuel.  In order not to interfere with the actual lighting
of the town from the power-station already in existence,
they are taking the electric plant from the Provodnik works,
which will supply enough electricity for the lighting of the town.
As soon as that is set up and working, they will use it for the immediate
needs of Moscow, and set about transferring the existing
power-station to the new situation near the turf beds.  In
this way they hope to carry out the change from coal to turf
without interfering with the ordinary life of the town.
Eventually when things settle down they will get a larger

I said, "Of course you have a double object in this, not only
to lessen the dependence of the industrial districts on fuel
that has to be brought from a distance, and of which you
may be deprived, but also to lessen the strain on transport!"

"Yes," he said.  "Indeed at the present moment the latter is
our greatest difficulty, hampering everything we would wish
to do.  And transport we cannot put right without help from
abroad.  Therefore we do everything we can to use local
resources, and are even developing the coal deposits near
Moscow, which are of inferior quality to the Donetz coal,
and were in the old days purposely smothered by the Donetz
coal-owners, who wished to preserve their monopoly."

I asked him if in his opinion Russia could organize
herself without help from abroad.  He said, "I rather think
she will have to.  We want steam dredgers, steam
excavators, and locomotives most of all, but we have small
hope of getting them in the immediate future, because the
effects of the war have been  so serious in the
disorganization of industry in the western countries that it is
doubtful whether they will be in a position to supply even
their own needs."

While we were talking Berg, the secretary, came in. I asked
him how his Soviet matches were progressing, and he said
that the labels were being printed and that the first lot would
soon be ready.  They will be distributed on the card system,
and he had calculated that they could sell them at twelve
kopecks a packet.  I paid a rouble for a box of ordinary
matches at Bieloostrov, and a rouble and a half here.


After leaving Rykov I went to see Krestinsky, the
Commissar of Finance, the curious little optimist whose
report on the Extraordinary Tax I had heard at the last
meeting of the Executive Committee.  I found him in the
Ilyinka street, in the Chinese town.  I began by telling him
that I did not believe that they meant to pay the loans.  He
laughed and gave me precisely the answer I had expected:--
"Of course we hope there will be a revolution in other
countries, in which case they will repudiate their debts and
forgive us ours.  But if that does not happen we know very
well that we shall have to pay, and we are prepared to pay,
and shall be able to pay, in concessions, in raw material
which they need more than they need gold."

Then, being myself neither an economist nor a theoretical
socialist, I put before him what had been said to me in
Stockholm by an Englishman who was both one and the
other; namely, that, being isolated from European finance,
the Soviet Government of Russia was bound to come to an
end on economic and financial grounds alone.

He said: "That would certainly be so, if rising prices, rising
wages, were to mean indefinitely increased demands on the
printing machines for paper money.  But, while we are at
present forced to print more and more money, another
process is at work which, in the long run, will bring this state
of things to an end.  Just as in our dealings with other
countries we exchange goods instead of paying in money, so
within our own frontiers money is ceasing to be the sole
medium of exchange.  Gradually the workmen are coming to
receive more and more in other forms than money.  Houses,
for example, lighting and heating are only a beginning.
These things being state monopolies, the task of supplying
the workman's needs without the use of money is
comparatively easy.  The chief difficulty is, of course, food
supplies, which depend on our ability to keep up an
exchange of goods with the villages.  If we can supply
the villages with manufactured goods, they will supply us
with food.  You can fairly say that our ruin or salvation
depends on a race between the decreasing value of money
(with the consequent need for printing notes in ever greater
quantities) and our growing ability to do without money
altogether.  That is of course, a broad view, and you must
not for a moment suppose that we expect to do without
money in the immediate future.  I am merely showing you
the two opposing tendencies on which our economic fate

I will not set down here what he said about the
Extraordinary Tax, for it was merely a repetition of what I
had heard him say in committee.  In connection with it,
however, he admitted that capitalism and profiteering were
hard things to root out, saying that they had great difficulty
in getting at what he called "the new bourgeoisie," namely
the speculators who have made fortunes since the revolution
by selling scarce food products at fantastic prices.  It was
difficult to tax them because they carried on their operations
secretly and it was next to impossible to find out who
they were.  They did not bank their money, and though
an attempt had been made to get at them through the house
committees, it was found that even these committees were
unable to detect them.  They will, however, be made to
disgorge their ill-gotten gains when the measure first proposed by
Sokolnikov last summer is put into practice.  This is a
general exchange of new money for old, after which the old
will be declared invalid.  "Of course," said Krestinsky, "they
will cheat in every possible way, scattering out the money
among a number of friends and relations.  But something
will have been done in cleaning them up, and that process
will be completed by a second exchange of money later on."

Fifteen milliards of new notes for the first exchange are
already printed, but they think that twenty milliards will be

I asked if the new money was better looking than the old, if
it looked more like money that was worth having than the
wretched little notes printed by the Provisional Government
and scornfully called "Kerenkies" by the populace.
Krestinsky said he was afraid not, but that the
second and final exchange would be made in notes
which they expected to be permanent.  They did not expect
the notes of the first exchange to circulate abroad, but the
notes of the second would carry with them state obligation
and they expected them to go into general currency.  He
added, smiling that the words "Proletariat of all lands, unite,"
were to appear on the notes in eight languages.  The
question of the look of the notes, of their ability to inspire
confidence by their mere appearance, is of real importance
in a country where so many of the peasantry will judge their
value by nothing else.

I reminded him of the hostility roused in some villages by
mistakes in the assessment and collecting of the
Extraordinary Tax, mistakes which (so other Communists
had assured me) would cost them more, politically, than the
tax was worth to them, and asked him, "Will you not have
great difficulty in getting the exchange made, and are you
not running the risk of providing the reactionaries with a
new profitable basis of agitation?"

He said that of course they would not make the attempt
unless they felt sure they were politically strong enough
to carry it through. "If it is properly explained to the villages
there will be nothing to fear, because the measure will not
threaten any but the rich and therefore the small minority of
the peasantry.  It would be a different matter if the same
thing were to be tried by the counter-revolutionaries,
because they would not discriminate in favour of the poor.
If Kolchak and Company overthrow us and try to substitute
their money for ours, their action would affect rich and poor
alike, minority and majority together.  If there were not a
hundred other causes guaranteeing the insecurity of their
position, the fact that they will be unable to get rid of our
money without rousing the most violent opposition in the
masses throughout the country would alone be sufficient to
do it."

I asked whether that was the reason why they intended to
print on the notes "Proletariat of all lands, unite," so that the
counter-revolutionaries, unable to tolerate money bearing
that hated phrase, should be forced to a step disastrous for

He laughed, and said that he did not think
counter-revolution in the least likely unless brought
in by invasion, which he did not think politically possible.


February 21st.

I saw Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" acted by the cast of the Art
Theatre in the First Studio.  This is a little theatre holding
just over 200 people.  It was of course full.  It was curious to
see how complete the revolution had been in a social sense.
It was impossible to tell to what class in pre-revolutionary
days any particular member of the audience had belonged.  I
was struck by the new smartness of the boy officers of the
Red Army, of whom a fair number were present.  As we
waited for the curtain to rise, I thought how the mental
attitude of the people had changed.  A year ago, we lived
with exhilaration or despair on a volcano which might any
day erupt and sweep away the new life before any one had
become accustomed to live it.  Now the danger to the
revolution was a thousand miles away on the
various fronts.  Here, in the centre, the revolution was
an established fact.  People had ceased to wonder when it
would end, were settling into their places in the new social
order, and took their pleasures not as if they were plucking
flowers on their way to execution, but in the ordinary routine
of life.

The play is well known, a drama of bourgeois society in a
small country place.  A poor landowner scraping money for
an elder brother in the town, realizing at last that the brother
was not the genius for whom such sacrifice was worth while;
a doctor with a love for forestry and dreams of the future;
the old mock-genius's young wife; his sister; his adoring
mother; the old nurse and the ancient dependent adopted, as
it were, with the estate; all these people in their own way
make each other suffer.  Chekhov's irony places before us
wasted lives, hopelessness, exaggerated interest in
personalities, vain strugglings after some better outlet for the
expression of selves not worth expressing.

That play, acted to-day, seemed as remote as a play of the
old regime in France would have seemed five years
ago.  A gulf seemed to have passed.  The play had become a
play of historical interest; the life it represented had gone for
ever.  People in Russia no longer have time for private lives
of such a character.  Such people no longer exist; some of
them have been swept into the flood-tide of revolution and
are working as they never hoped to have the chance to work;
others, less generous, have been broken and thrown aside.
The revolution has been hard on some, and has given new
life to others.  It has swept away that old life so absolutely
that, come what may, it will be a hundred years  at least
before anywhere in Russia people will be able to be unhappy
in that particular way again.

The subject of "Uncle Vanya" was a great deal more remote
from the Russian audience of today than was the opera of
"Samson and Delilah" which I heard last week.  And, if I
realized that the revolution had come to stay, if I realized
that Chekhov's play had become a play of historical interest,
I realized also that Chekhov was a great master in that his
work carried across the gulf between the old life and the
new, and affected a revolutionary audience of to-day
as strongly as it affected that very different audience of a
few years ago.  Indeed, the play seemed almost to have
gained by the revolution, which had lent it, perhaps, more
irony than was in Chekhov's mind as he wrote.  Was this the
old life?  I thought, as I stepped out into the snow.  If so,
then thank God it has gone!


February 22nd.

This morning I drove to the Dielovoi Dvor, the big house on
the Varvarskaya Square which is occupied by the central
organization of the textile industry.  The head of this
organization is Nogin, an extremely capable, energetic
Russian, so capable, indeed, that I found it hard to believe
he could really be a Russian.  He is a big man, with a mass
of thick brown shaggy hair, so thick that the little bald patch
on the top of his head seems like an artificial tonsure.  Nogin
sketched the lines on which the Russian textile industry was
being reorganized, and gave orders that I should be supplied
with all possible printed matter in which to find the details.

The "Centro-Textile" is the actual centre of the economic
life of Russia, because, since textiles are the chief
materials of exchange between the towns and the villages, on
its success depends the success of everything else.  The
textile industry is, in any case, the most important of all
Russian, industries.  Before the war it employed 500,000
workmen, and Nogin said that in spite of the disorganization
of the war and of the revolution 400,000 are employed to-day.
This may be so in the sense that 400,000 are receiving
pay, but lack of fuel or of raw material must have brought
many factories to a standstill.

All the big factories have been nationalized.  Formerly,
although in any one town there might be factories carrying
out all the different processes, these factories belonged to
different owners.  A single firm or bank might control
factories scattered over Russia and, so that the whole
process should be in its hands, the raw material travelled
from factory to factory through the country, instead of
merely moving about a single town.  Thus a roll of material
might have gone through one process at Jaroslav, another at
Moscow, and a third at Tula, and finally come back to
Jaroslav to be finished, simply because the different
factories which worked upon it, though widely scattered,
happened to be under one control.  Nationalization has
made possible the rational regrouping of factories so that the
complete process is carried out in one place, consequently
saving transport.  There are twenty-three complete groups
of this kind, and in the textile industry generally about fifty
groups in all.

There has been a similar concentration of control.  In the old
days there were hundreds of different competitive firms with
their buildings and offices in the Ilyinka, the Varvarka, and
the Nikolskaya.*  [(*)Streets and a district in Moscow]  The
Chinese town* [(*) See above.]was a mass of little offices of
different textile firms.  The whole of that mass of struggling
competitive units of direction had now been concentrated in
the house in which we were talking.  The control of the
workers had been carried through in such a way that the
technical experts had proper weight. (See p. 171.) There
were periodical conferences of elected representatives of all
the factories, and Nogin believed that the system of
combined elective workmen's and appointed experts'
representation could hardly be improved upon.

Nationalization had had the effect of standardizing the
output.  Formerly, an infinite variety of slightly different
stuffs were produced, the variations being often merely for
the sake of being different in the competitive trade.  Useless
varieties had now been done away with, with the result of
greater economy in production.

I asked what he could tell me about their difficulties in the
matter of raw material.  He said they no longer get anything
from America, and while the railway was cut at Orenburg by
the Cossacks, they naturally could get no cotton from
Turkestan.  In fact, last autumn they had calculated that they
had only enough material to keep the factories going until
December.  Now they found they could certainly keep going
to the end of March, and probably longer.  Many small
factories, wishing to make their cases out worse than they
were, had under-estimated their stocks.  Here, as in other
things, the isolation of the revolution had the effect of
teaching the Russians that they were less dependent upon the
outside world than they had been in the habit of supposing.
He asked me if I knew it had been considered impossible to
combine flax and cotton in such a way that the mixture
could be worked in machines intended for cotton only.
They had an infinite supply of flax, much of which in the
old days had been exported. Investigations carried on for the
Centro-Textile by two professors, the brothers Chilikin, had
ended in the discovery of three different processes for the
cottonizing of flax in such a way that they could now mix
not only a small percentage of their flax with cotton and use
the old machines, but were actually using fifty per cent. flax
and had already produced material experimentally with as
much as seventy-five per cent.

(Some days later two young technicians from the
Centro-Textile brought me a neatly prepared set of specimens
illustrating these new processes and asked me to bring them
anything of the same sort from England in return.  They
were not Bolsheviks--were, in fact, typical non-politicals.
They were pleased with what the Centro--Textile
was doing, and said that more encouragement was given to
research than ever formerly.  But they were very despondent
about the economic position.  I could not make them
understand why Russia was isolated, and that I might be
unable to bring them technical books from England.)

Nogin rather boastfully said that the western linen industry
would suffer from the isolation of Russia, whereas in the
long run the Russians would be able to do without the rest of
the world.  With, regard to wool, they would have no
difficulty now that they were again united with a friendly
Ukraine.  The silk industry was to be developed in the
Astrakhan district where climatic conditions are particularly

I asked about the fate of the old textile manufacturers and
was told that though many had gone abroad many were
working in the nationalized factories.  The engineering staff,
which mostly struck work at the beginning of the revolution,
had almost without exception returned, the younger
engineers in particular realizing the new possibilities opening
before the industry, the continual need of new
improvements, and the immediate welcome given to
originality of any kind.  Apart from the question of food,
which was bad for everybody, the social standard of the
workers had risen.  Thus one of their immediate difficulties
was the provision of proper houses.  The capitalists and
manufacturers kept the workers in barracks.  "Now-a-days
the men want better dwellings and we mean to give them
better.  Some have moved into the old houses of the owners
and manufacturers, but of course there are not enough of
these to go round, and we have extensive plans in the way of
building villages and garden cities for the workmen."

I asked Nogin what, in his opinion, was most needed by
Russia from abroad, and he said that as far as the textile
industries were concerned they wanted machinery.  Like
every one else to whom I put this question, he said that
every industry in Russia would be in a better position if only
they had more locomotives.  "Some of our factories are
stopping now for lack of fuel, and at Saratov, for example,
we have masses of raw material which we are unable to get
to Moscow."


In the afternoon I met Sereda, the Commissar of
Agriculture.  He insisted that the agrarian policy had been
much misrepresented by their enemies for the purposes of
agitation.  They had no intention of any such idiocy as the
attempt to force the peasants to give up private ownership.
The establishment of communes was not to be compulsory
in any way; it was to be an illustrative means of propaganda
of the idea of communal work, not more.  The main task
before them was to raise the standard of Russian agriculture,
which under the old system was extremely low.  By working
many of the old estates on a communal system with the best
possible methods they hoped to do two things at once: to
teach the peasant to realize the advantages of communal
labour, and to show him that he could himself get a
very great deal more out of his land than he does.  "In
other ways also we are doing everything we can to give
direct help to the small agriculturists.  We have mobilized all
the agricultural experts in the country.  We are issuing a
mass of simply written pamphlets explaining better methods
of farming."

(I have seen scores of these pamphlets on forestry, potatoes,
turf, rotation of crops, and so on, besides the agricultural
journals issued by the Commissariat and sent in large
quantities to the villages.)

I told Sereda I had heard that the peasants were refusing to
sow more than they wanted for their own needs.  He said
that on the contrary the latest reports gave them the right to
hope for a greater sown area this year than ever before, and
that even more would have been sown if Denmark had not
been prevented from letting them have the seed for which
they had actually paid.  I put the same question to him that I
put to Nogin as to what they most needed; he replied,


February 25th.

I had a talk in the Metropole with Krasin, who is Commissar
for Trade and Industry and also President of the Committee
for Supplying the Needs of the Army.  He had disapproved
of the November Revolution, but last year, when things
looked like going badly, he came to Russia from Stockholm
feeling that he could not do otherwise than help.  He is an
elderly man, an engineer, and very much of a European.
We talked first of the Russian plans with regard to foreign
trade.  All foreign trade, he said, is now concentrated in the
hands of the State, which is therefore able to deal as a single
customer.  I asked how that would apply to purchase, and
whether they expected that countries dealing with them
would organize committees through which the
whole Russian trade of each such country should
similarly pass.  Krasin said, "Of course that would be
preferable, but only in the case of socialist countries.  As
things are now it would be very much to our disadvantage.
It is better for us to deal with individual capitalists than with
a ring.  The formation of a committee in England, for
example, with a monopoly of trade with Russia, would have
the effect of raising prices against us, since we could no
longer go from a dear shop to a cheaper one.  Besides, as
socialists we naturally wish to do nothing to help in the
trustification of English manufacturers."

He recognized that foreign trade on any large scale was
impossible until their transport had been improved.  Russia
proposed to do her paying in raw material, in flax, timber,
etc., in materials of which she had great quantities although
she could not bring them to the ports until her transport
should be restored.  It would, therefore, be in the foreigner's
own interests to help them in this matter.  He added that
they were confident that in the long run they could, without
foreign help, so far restore their transport as to save
themselves from starvation; but for a speedy return to
normal conditions foreign help was essential.

The other question we touched was that of munitions.  I
expressed some surprise that they should be able to do so
well although cut off from the west.  Krasin said that as far
as that was concerned they had ample munitions for a long
fight.  Heavy artillery is not much use for the kind of
warfare waged in Russia; and as for light artillery, they were
making and mending their own.  They were not bothering
with three-inch shells because they had found that the old
regime had left scattered about Russia supplies of
three-inch shells sufficient to last them several years.
Dynamite also they had in enormous quantities.  They were
manufacturing gunpowder.  The cartridge output had trebled
since August when Krasin's committee was formed.  He thought
even as things were they could certainly fight for a year.


I do not remember the exact date when the proposal of the
Berne International Conference to send a Commission of
Enquiry to Russia became known in Moscow, but on
February 20th everybody who came to see me was talking
about it, and from that date the question as to the reception
of the delegates was the most urgently debated of all political
subjects.  Chicherin had replied immediately to Berne,
saying that "though they did not consider the Berne
Conference either socialist or in any degree representative of
the working-class they nevertheless would permit the
Commission's journey into Russia, and would give it every
opportunity of becoming acquainted from all sides with the
state of affairs, just as they would any bourgeois commission
directly or indirectly connected with any of the bourgeois
governments, even with those then attacking Russia."

It may well be imagined that a reply in this style infuriated
the Mensheviks who consider themselves more or less
affiliated to the parties represented at Berne.  What, they
shrieked, Kautsky not a socialist?  To which their opponents
replied, "The Government which Kautsky supports keeps
Radek in irons in a gaol." But to me the most interesting
thing to observe was that Chicherin's reply was scarcely
more satisfactory to some of the Communists.  It had been
sent off before any general consultation, and it appeared that
the Communists themselves were widely divided as to the
meaning of the proposal. One party believed that it was a
first step towards agreement and peace.  The other thought it
an ingenious ruse by Clemenceau to get
"so-called" socialist condemnation of the Bolsheviks as a
basis for allied intervention.  Both parties were, of course,
wrong in so far as they thought the Allied Governments had
anything to do with it.  Both the French and English
delegates were refused passports.  This, however, was not
known in Moscow until after I left, and by then much had
happened.  I think the Conference which founded the
Third International in Moscow had its origin in a desire to
counter any ill effects that might result from the expected
visit of the people of Berne.

Litvinov said he considered the sending of the Commission
from Berne the most dangerous weapon yet conceived by
their opponents.  He complained that he had been unable to
get either Lenin or Chicherin to realize that this delegation
was a preparation for hostilities, not a preparation for peace.
"You do not understand that since the beginning of the war
there has been a violent struggle between two Internationals,
one of which does not believe in revolution while the other
does.  In this case a group of men already committed to
condemn the revolution are coming to pass judgment on it.
If they were not to condemn the revolution they would be
condemning themselves.  Chicherin ought to have put a
condition that a delegation of Left Socialists should also
come.  But he replied within an hour of getting the telegram
from Berne.  These idiots here think the delegation is
coming to seek a ground for peace. It is nothing of the
sort.  It is bound to condemn us, and the Bourgeois
Governments will know how to profit by the criticism,
however mild, that is signed by men who still retain authority
as socialists.  Henderson, for example (Henderson was at
first named as one of the delegates, later replaced by
MacDonald), will judge simply by whether people are
hungry or not.  He will not allow for reasons which are not
in our control.  Kautsky is less dangerous, because, after all,
he will look below the obvious." Reinstein remembered the
old personal hostility between Lenin and Kautsky, whom
Lenin, in a book which Reinstein thought unworthy of him,
had roundly denounced as a renegade and traitor.  The only
man in the delegation who could be counted on for an
honest effort to understand was Longuet.

As the days went on, it became clear that the expected visit
had provided a new bone of contention between the Russian
parties.  The Communists decided that the delegates should
not be treated with any particular honour in the way of a
reception.  The Mensheviks at once set about preparing
a triumphal reception on a large scale for the people whom
they described as the representatives of genuine socialism.
Demian Biedny retorted in an extremely amusing poetic
dialogue, representing the Mensheviks rehearsing their parts
to be ready for the reception.  Other Communists went to
work to prepare a retort of a different kind.  They arranged
a house for the Berne delegates to live in, but at the same
time they prepared to emphasize the difference between the
two Internationals by the calling of an anti-Berne
conference which should disclaim all connection with that
old International which they considered had gone into
political bankruptcy at the outbreak of the European war.


February 26th.

In the afternoon I got to the Executive Committee in time to
hear the end of a report by Rykov on the economic position.
He said there was hope for a satisfactory conclusion to the
negotiations for the building of the  Obi-Kotlas railway,
and hoped that this would soon be followed by similar
negotiations and by other concessions.  He explained
that they did not want capitalism in Russia but
that they did want the things that capital could give them in
exchange for what they could give capital.  This was, of
course, referring to the opposition criticism that the Soviet
was prepared to sell Russia into the hands of the
"Anglo-American Imperialistic bandits." Rykov said that the main
condition of all concessions would be that they should not
effect the international structure of the Soviet Republic
and should not lead to the exploitation of the workmen.
They wanted railways, locomotives, and machines, and their
country was rich enough to pay for these things out of its
natural resources without sensible loss to the state or the
yielding of an inch in their programme of internal

He was followed by Krestinsky, who pointed out that
whereas the commissariats were, in a sense, altered forms of
the old ministries, links with the past, the Council of Public
Economy, organizing the whole production and distribution
of the country, building the new socialist state, was an
entirely new organ and a link, not with the past, but with the

The two next speeches illustrated one of the main difficulties
of the revolution.  Krasin (see p. 153) criticized the council
for insufficient confidence in the security of the revolution.
He said they were still hampered by fears lest here or there
capitalism should creep in again.  They were unnecessarily
afraid to make the fullest possible use of specialists of all
kinds who had taken a leading part in industry under the old
regime and who, now that the old regime, the old
system, had been definitely broken, could be made to serve
the new.  He believed that unless the utmost use was made
of the resources of the country in technical knowledge, etc.,
they could not hope to organize the maximum productivity
which alone could save them from catastrophe.

The speaker who followed him, Glebov, defended precisely
the opposite point of view and represented the same attitude
with regard to the reorganization of industry as is held by
many who object to Trotsky's use of officers of the old army
in the reorganization of the new, believing that all who
worked in high places under the old regime must be and
remain enemies of the revolution, so that their employment
is a definite source of danger.  Glebov is a trade union
representative, and his speech was a clear indication of the
non-political undercurrent towards the left which may shake
the Bolshevik position and will most certainly come into
violent conflict with any definitely bourgeois government
that may be brought in by counter-revolution.

In the resolution on the economic position which was
finally passed unanimously, one point reads as follows: "It is
necessary to strive for just economic relations with other
countries in the form of state regulated exchange of goods
and the bringing of the productive forces of other countries
to the working out of the untouched natural resources of
Soviet Russia."  It is interesting to notice the curiously mixed
character of the opposition.  Some call for "a real socialism,"
which shall make no concessions whatsoever to foreign
capital, others for the cessation of civil war and peace with
the little governments which have obtained Allied support.
In a single number of the Printers' Gazette, for example,
there was a threat to appeal against the Bolsheviks to the
delegation from Berne and an attack on Chicherin for being
ready to make terms with the Entente.

The next business on the programme was the attitude to be
adopted towards the repentant Social Revolutionaries of the
Right.  Kamenev made the best speech I have ever heard
from him, for once in a way not letting himself be drawn
into agitational digressions, but going point by point through
what he had to say and saying it economically.  The
S.R.'s had had three watchwords: "War and alliance with the
Allies," "Coalition with the bourgeoisie," and "The
Constituent Assembly." For over a year they had waged
open war with the Soviet Government over these three
points.  They had been defeated in the field.  But they had
suffered a far more serious moral defeat in having to confess
that their very watchwords had been unsound.  "War and
Alliance with the Allies" had shown itself to mean the
occupation of Russian territory by foreign troops in no way
concerned to save the revolution, but ready, as they had
shown, to help every force that was working for its
suppression.  "Coalition with the Bourgeoisie" had shown
itself to be a path the natural ending to which was the
dictatorship of the bourgeoisie through military force.  "The
Constituent Assembly" had been proved to be no more than
a useful mask behind which the enemies of the revolution
could prepare their forces and trick the masses to their own

He read the declaration of the Right Social Revolutionaries,
admitting that the Soviet Government was the only force
working against a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and
calling upon their troops to overthrow the usurping
governments in Siberia, and elsewhere.  This repentance,
however, had come rather late and there were those who did
not share it.  He said finally that the Executive Committee
must remember that it was not a party considering its
relations with another party, but an organ of government
considering the attitude of the country towards a party which
in the most serious moment of Russian history had
admittedly made grave mistakes and helped Russia's
enemies.  Now, in this difficult moment, every one who was
sincerely ready to help the working masses of Russia in their
struggle had the right to be given a place in the ranks of the
fighters.  The Social Revolutionaries should be allowed to
prove in deeds the sincerity of their recantation.  The
resolution which was passed recapitulated the recantations,
mentioned by name the members of the party with whom
discussions had been carried on, withdrew the decision of
June 14th (excluding the S.R.'s from the Executive
Committee on the ground of their counter-revolutionary
tendencies) with regard to all groups of the party
which held themselves bound by the recently published
declarations, gave them the right equally with other parties
to share in the work of the Soviets, and notified the
administrative and judicial organs of the Republic to free
the arrested S.R.'s who shared the point of view expressed
in the recantations.  The resolution was passed without
enthusiasm but without opposition.

There followed the reading by Avanesov of the decree
concerning the Menshevik paper Vsegda Vpered ("Forever
Forward," but usually described by critics of the
Mensheviks as "Forever Backward").  The resolution
pointed out that in spite of the Mensheviks having agreed
on the need of supporting the Soviet Government they were
actually carrying on an agitation, the effect of which could
only be to weaken the army.  An example was given of an
article, "Stop the Civil War," in which they had pointed out
that the war was costing a great deal, and that much of the
food supplies went to the army.  On these grounds they had
demanded the cessation of the civil war.  The Committee
pointed out that the Mensheviks were making
demagogic use of the difficulties of the food supply, due in
part to the long isolation from the Ukraine, the Volga
district and Siberia, for which those Mensheviks who had
worked with the White Guard were themselves partly
responsible.  They pointed out that Russia was a camp
besieged from all sides, that Kolchak had seized the
important centre of Perm, that Petrograd was threatened
from Finland, that in the streets of Rostov and Novo
Tcherkassk gallows with the bodies of workmen were still
standing, that Denikin was making a destructive raid in the
northern Caucasus, that the Polish legionaries were
working for the seizure of Vilna and the suppression of
Lithuania and the White Russian proletariat, and that in the
ports of the Black Sea the least civilized colonial troops of
the Entente were supporting the White Guards.  They
pointed out that the Soviet Government had offered
concessions in order to buy off the imperialistic countries
and had received no reply.  Taking all this into
consideration the demand to end civil war amounted to a
demand for the disarming of the working class and the poor
peasantry in the face of bandits and executioners
advancing from all sides.  In a word, it was the worst form
of state crime, namely, treason to a state of workers and
peasants.  The Committee considered useful every kind of
practical criticism of the work of the Soviet Government in
all departments, but it could not allow that in the rear of the
Red Army of workers and peasants, under that army's
protection, should be carried on unrestrained an agitation
which could have only one result, the weakening of Soviet
Russia in the face of its many enemies.  Therefore Vsegda
Vpered would be closed until the Mensheviks should show
in deed that they were ready to stand to the defence and
support of the revolution.  At the same time, the Committee
reminded the Mensheviks that a continuation of their
counter-revolutionary work would force the Soviet
Government "to expel them to the territories of Kolchak's
democracy." This conclusion was greeted with laughter and
applause, and with that the meeting ended.


February 28th.

This morning I went round to the Commissariat of Labour,
to see Schmidt, the Commissar.  Schmidt is a
clean-shaven, intelligent young man, whose attention to business
methods is reflected in his Commissariat, which, unlike that
of Foreign Affairs, is extremely clean and very well
organized.  I told him I was particularly interested to hear
what he could say in answer to the accusations made both
by the Mensheviks and by the Extremists on the Left that
control by the workers has become a dead letter, and that a
time will come when the trades unions will move against
the state organizations.

Schmidt answered: "Those accusations and suggestions are
all very well for agitational purposes, but the first to laugh
at them would be the trades unions themselves.  This
Commissariat, for example, which is the actual labour
centre, is controlled directly by the unions.  As Commissar
of Labour, I was elected directly by the General Council of
the Trades Unions.  Of the College of nine members which
controls the whole work of the Commissariat, five are
elected directly by the General Council of the Trades
Unions and four appointed by the Council of People's
Commissaries, thus giving the Unions a decisive majority
in all questions concerning labour.  All nine are confirmed
by the Council of People's Commissaries, representing the
state as a whole, and the Commissar is confirmed by the
All-Russian Executive Committee."

Of course control by the workers, as it was first introduced,
led speedily to many absurdities and, much to the
dissatisfaction of the extremer elements, has been
considerably modified.  It was realized that the workers in
any particular factory might by considering only their own
interests harm the community as a whole, and so, in the
long run, themselves.  The manner of its modification is an
interesting example of the way in which, without the
influence of tanks, aeroplanes or bayonets, the cruder
ideas of communism are being modified by life.  It was
reasoned that since the factory was the property, not of the
particular workmen who work in it, but of the community
as a whole, the community as a whole should have a
considerable voice in its management.  And the effect of
that reasoning has been to ensure that the technical
specialist and the expert works manager are no longer at the
caprice of a hastily called gathering of the workmen who
may, without understanding them, happen to disapprove of
some of their dispositions.  Thus the economical,
administrative council of a nationalized factory consists of
representatives of the workmen and clerical staff,
representatives of the higher technical and commercial
staffs, the directors of the factory (who are appointed by the
Central Direction of National Factories), representatives of
the local council of trades unions, the Council of Public
Economy, the local soviet, and the industrial union of the
particular industry carried on in the factory, together with, a
representative of the workers' co-operative society and a
representative of the peasants' soviet of the district in
which the factory is situated.  In this council not more than
half of the members may be representatives of the workmen
and clerical staff of the factory.  This council considers the
internal order of the factory, complaints of any kind, and
the material and moral conditions of work and so on.  On
questions of a technical character it has no right to do more
than give advice.

The night before I saw Schmidt, little Finberg had come to
my room for a game of chess in a very perturbed state of
mind, having just come from a meeting of the union to
which he belonged (the union of clerks, shop assistants and
civil servants) where there had been a majority against the
Bolsheviks after some fierce criticism over this particular
question.  Finberg had said that the ground basis of the
discontent had been the lack of food, but that the outspoken
criticism had taken the form, first, of protests against the
offer of concessions in Chicherin's Note of February 4th,
on the ground that concessions meant concessions to
foreign capitalism and the formation in Russia of capitalist
centres which would eventually spread; and second, that the
Communists themselves, by their modifications of
Workers' Control, were introducing State Capitalism
instead of Socialism.

I mentioned this union to Schmidt, and asked him to
explain its hostility.  He laughed, and said: "Firstly, that
union is not an industrial union at all, but includes precisely
the people whose interests are not identical with those of
the workmen.  Secondly, it includes all the old civil
servants who, as you remember, left the ministries at the
November Revolution, in many cases taking the money
with them.  They came back in the end, but though no
longer ready to work openly against the revolution as a
whole, they retain much of their old dislike of us, and, as
you see, the things they were objecting to last night were
precisely the things which do not concern them in
particular.  Any other stick would be as good to them.
They know well that if they were to go on strike now they
would be a nuisance to us, no more.  If you wish to know
the attitude of the Trades Unions, you should look at the
Trades Union Congress which wholly supported us, and
gave a very different picture of affairs. They know
well that in all questions of labour, the trades unions have
the decisive voice.  I told you that the unions send a
majority of the members of the College which controls the
work of this Commissariat.  I should have added that the
three most important departments-the department for
safeguarding labour, the department for distributing labour,
and that for regulating wages-are entirely controlled by the

"How do politics affect the Commissariat?"

"Not at all.  Politics do not count with us, just because we
are directly controlled by the Unions, and not, by any
political party.  Mensheviks, Maximalists and others have
worked and are working in the Commissariat. Of course if
a man were opposed to the revolution as a whole we should
not have him here, because he would be working against us
instead of helping."

I asked whether he thought the trade unions would ever
disappear in the Soviet organizations.  He thought not.  On
the contrary, they had grown steadily throughout the
revolution.  He told me that one great change had been
made in them.  Trade unions have been merged
together into industrial unions, to prevent conflict
between individual sections of one industry.  Thus
boilermakers and smiths do not have separate unions, but
are united in the metal-workers' union.  This unification
has its effect on reforms and changes.  An increase in
wages, for example, is simultaneous all over Russia.  The
price of living varies very considerably in different parts of
the country, there being as great differences between the
climates of different parts as there are between the countries
of Europe.  Consequently a uniform absolute increase
would be grossly unfair to some and grossly favourable to
others.  The increase is therefore proportional to the cost of
living.  Moscow is taken as a norm of 100, and when a new
minimum wage is established for Moscow other districts
increase their minimum wage proportionately.  A table for
this has been worked out, whereby in comparison with 100
for Moscow, Petrograd is set down as 120, Voronezh or
Kursk as 70, and so on.

We spoke of the new programme of the Communists,
rough drafts of which were being printed in the newspapers
for discussion, and he showed me his own suggestions
in so far as the programme concerned labour.  He wished
the programme to include, among other aims, the further
mechanization of production, particularly the mechanization
of all unpleasant and dirty processes, improved sanitary
inspection, shortening of the working day in employments
harmful to health, forbidding women with child to do any
but very light work, and none at all for eight weeks before
giving birth and for eight weeks afterwards, forbidding
overtime, and so on.  "We have already gone far beyond
our old programme, and our new one steps far ahead of us.
Russia is the first country in the world where all workers
have a fortnight's holiday in the year, and workers in
dangerous or unhealthy occupations have a month's."

I said, "Yes, but don't you find that there is a very long way
between the passing of a law and its realization?"

Schmidt laughed and replied: "In some things certainly,
yes.  For example, we are against all overtime, but, in the
present state of Russia we should be sacrificing to a theory
the good of the revolution as a whole if we did not allow
and encourage overtime in transport repairs.  Similarly,
until things are further developed than they are now, we
should be criminal slaves to theory if we did not, in some
cases, allow lads under sixteen years old to be in the
factories when we have not yet been able to provide the
necessary schools where we would wish them to be.  But
the programme is there, and as fast as it can be realized we
are realizing it."


February 28th.

At the Commissariat of Public Education I showed
Professor Pokrovsky a copy of The German-Bolshevik
Conspiracy, published in America, containing documents
supposed to prove that the German General Staff arranged
the November Revolution, and that the Bolsheviks were no
more than German agents.  The weak point about the
documents is that the most important of them have no
reason for existence except to prove that there was such a
conspiracy.  These are the documents bought by Mr.
Sisson.  I was interested to see what Pokrovsky would say
of them.  He looked through them, and while saying that he
had seen forged documents better done, pointed as evidence
to the third of them which ends with the alleged signatures
of Zalkind, Polivanov, Mekhinoshin and Joffe.  He
observed that whoever forged the things knew a good
deal, but did not know quite enough, because these persons,
described as "plenipotentiaries of the Council of Peoples'
Commissars," though all actually in the service of the
Soviet Government, could not all, at that time, have been
what they were said to be.  Polivanov, for example, was a
very minor official.  Joffe, on the other: hand, was indeed a
person of some importance.  The putting of the names in
that order was almost as funny as if they had produced a
document signed by Lenin and the Commandant of the
Kremlin, putting the latter first.

Pokrovsky told me a good deal about the organization of
this Commissariat, as Lunacharsky, the actual head of it,
was away in Petrograd.  The routine work is run by a
College of nine members appointed by the Council of
People's Commissars.  The Commissar of Education
himself is appointed by the All-Russian Executive
Committee.  Besides this, there is a Grand College which
meets rarely for the settlement of important questions. In it
are representatives of the Trades Unions, the
Workers' Co-operatives, the Teachers' Union, various
Commissariats such as that for affairs of Nationality, and
other public organizations.  He also gave me then and at a
later date a number of figures illustrating the work that has
been done since the revolution.  Thus whereas there used to
be six universities there are now sixteen, most of the new
universities having been opened on the initiative of the local
Soviets, as at Astrakhan, Nijni, Kostroma, Tambov,
Smolensk and other places.  New polytechnics are being
founded.  At Ivano-Vosnesensk the new polytechnic is
opened and that at Briansk is being prepared.  The number
of students in the universities has increased enormously
though not to the same proportion as the number of
universities, partly because the difficulties of food supply
keep many students out of the towns, and partly because of
the newness of some of the universities which are only now
gathering their students about them.  All education is free.
In August last a decree was passed abolishing preliminary
examinations for persons wishing to become students.  It
was considered that very many people who could attend the
lectures with profit to themselves had been prevented
by the war or by pre-revolution conditions from acquiring
the sort of knowledge that could be tested by examination.
It was also believed that no one would willingly listen to
lectures that were of no use to him.  They hoped to get as
many working men into the universities as possible.  Since
the passing of that decree the number of students at
Moscow University, for example, has more than doubled.
It is interesting to notice that of the new students a greater
number are studying in the faculties of science and history
and philosophy than in those of medicine or law.  Schools
are being unified on a new basis in which labour plays a
great part.  I frankly admit I do not understand, and I gather
that many teachers have also failed to understand, how this
is done.  Crafts of all kinds take a big place in the scheme.
The schools are divided into two classes-one for children
from seven to twelve years old, and one for those aged
from thirteen to seventeen.  A milliard roubles has been
assigned to feeding children in the schools, and those who
most need them are supplied with clothes and footgear.
Then there are many classes for working men,
designed to give the worker a general scientific knowledge
of his own trade and so prevent him from being merely a
machine carrying out a single uncomprehended process.
Thus a boiler-maker can attend a course on mechanical
engineering, an electrical worker a course on electricity,
and the best agricultural experts are being employed to give
similar lectures to the peasants.  The workmen crowd to
these courses.  One course, for example, is attended by a
thousand men in spite of the appalling cold of the lecture
rooms.  The hands of the science professors, so Pokrovsky
told me, are frostbitten from touching the icy metal of their
instruments during demonstrations.

The following figures represent roughly the growth in the
number of libraries.  In October, 1917, there were 23
libraries in Petrograd, 30 in Moscow.  Today there are 49
in Petrograd and 85 in Moscow, besides a hundred book
distributing centres.  A similar growth in the number of
libraries has taken place in the country districts.  In
Ousolsky ouezd, for example, there are now 73 village
libraries, 35 larger libraries and 500 hut libraries or
reading rooms.  In Moscow educational institutions, not
including schools, have increased from 369 to 1,357.

There are special departments for the circulation of printed
matter, and they really have developed a remarkable
organization.  I was shown over their headquarters on the
Tverskaya, and saw huge maps of Russia with all the
distributing centres marked with reference numbers so that
it was possible to tell in a moment what number of any new
publication should be sent to each. Every post office is a
distributing centre to which is sent a certain number of all
publications, periodical and other.  The local Soviets ask
through the post offices for such quantities as are required,
so that the supply can be closely regulated by the demand.
The book-selling kiosks send in reports of the sale of the
various newspapers, etc., to eliminate the waste of
over-production, a very important matter in a country faced
simultaneously by a vigorous demand for printed matter
and an extreme scarcity of paper.

It would be interesting to have statistics to illustrate the
character of the literature in demand. One thing can be
said at once.  No one reads sentimental romances.  As is
natural in a period of tremendous political upheaval
pamphlets sell by the thousand, speeches of Lenin and
Trotsky are only equalled in popularity by Demian Biedny's
more or less political poetry.  Pamphlets and books on
Marx, on the war, and particularly on certain phases of the
revolution, on different aspects of economic reconstruction,
simply written explanations of laws or policies vanish
almost as soon as they are put on the stalls.  The reading of
this kind has been something prodigious during the
revolution.  A great deal of poetry is read, and much is
written.  It is amusing to find in a red-hot revolutionary
paper serious articles and letters by well-meaning persons
advising would-be proletarian poets to stick to Pushkin
and Lermontov.  There is much excited controversy both in
magazine and pamphlet form as to the distinguishing marks
of the new proletarian art which is expected to come out of
the revolution and no doubt will come, though not in the
form expected.  But the Communists cannot be accused of
being unfaithful to the Russian classics.  Even Radek,
a foreign fosterchild and an adopted Russian, took Gogol as
well as Shakespeare with him when he went to annoy
General Hoffmann at Brest.  The Soviet Government has
earned the gratitude of many Russians who dislike it for
everything else it has done by the resolute way in which it
has brought the Russian classics into the bookshops.
Books that were out of print and unobtainable, like
Kliutchevsky's "Courses in Russian History," have been
reprinted from the stereotypes and set afloat again at most
reasonable prices.  I was also able to buy a book of his
which I have long wanted, his "Foreigners' Accounts of the
Muscovite State," which had also fallen out of print.  In the
same way the Government has reprinted, and sells at fixed
low prices that may not be raised by retailers, the works of
Koltzov, Nikitin, Krylov, Saltykov-Shtchedrin, Chekhov,
Goncharov, Uspensky, Tchernyshevsky, Pomyalovsky and
others.  It is issuing Chukovsky's edition of Nekrasov,
reprints of Tolstoy, Dostoievsky and Turgenev, and books
by Professor Timiriazev, Karl Pearson and others of a
scientific character, besides the complete works of
Lenin's old rival, Plekhanov.  It is true that most of
this work is simply done by reprinting from old
stereotypes, but the point is that the books are there, and the
sale for them is very large.

Among the other experts on the subject of the Soviet's
educational work I consulted two friends, a little boy,
Glyeb, who sturdily calls himself a Cadet though three of
his sisters work in Soviet institutions, and an old and very
wise porter.  Glyeb says that during the winter they had no
heating, so that they sat in school in their coats, and only
sat for a very short time, because of the great cold.  He told
me, however, that they gave him a good dinner there every
day, and that lessons would be all right as soon as the
weather got warmer.  He showed me a pair of felt boots
which had been given him at the school.  The old porter
summed up the similar experience of his sons.  "Yes," he
said, "they go there, sing the Marseillaise twice through,
have dinner and come home." I then took these expert
criticisms to Pokrovsky who said, "It is perfectly true.  We
have not enough transport to feed the armies, let alone
bringing food and warmth for ourselves.

And if, under these conditions, we forced children to
go through all their lessons we should have corpses to
teach, not children.  But by making them come for their
meals we do two things, keep them alive, and keep them in
the habit of coming, so that when the warm weather comes
we can do better."


At Sukhanov's suggestion I went, to see Professor
Timiriazev, the greatest Russian Darwinian, well-known to
many scientific men in this country, a foreign member of
the Royal Society, a Doctor of Cambridge University and a
Bolshevik.  He is about eighty years old.  His left arm is
paralysed, and, as he said, he can only work at his desk and
not be out and about to help as he would wish.  A
venerable old savant, he was sitting writing with a green
dressing gown about him, for his little flat was very cold.
On the walls were portraits of Darwin, Newton and Gilbert,
besides portraits of contemporary men of science whom he
had known.  English books were everywhere.  He gave me,
two copies of his last scientific book and his latest portrait
to take to two of his friends in England.

He lives with his wife and son.  I asked if his son were also a Bolshevik.

"Of course," he replied.

He then read me a letter he had written protesting against
intervention. He spoke of his old love for England and for
the English people.  Then, speaking of the veil of lies
drawn between Soviet Russia and the rest of the world, he
broke down altogether, and bent his head to hide his tears.

"I suffer doubly," he said, after excusing himself for the
weakness of a very old man.  "I suffer as a Russian, and, if
I may say so, I suffer as an Englishman.  I have English
blood in my veins.  My mother, you see, looks quite
English," pointing to a daguerreotype on the wall, "and my
grandmother was actually English.  I suffer as an
Englishman when I see the country that I love misled by
lies, and I suffer as a Russian because those lies concern
the country to which I belong, and the ideas which I am
proud to hold."

The old man rose with difficulty, for he, like every one else
in Moscow, is half starved.  He showed me his Byron, his
Shakespeare, his Encyclopaedia Britannica, his English
diplomas.  He pointed to the portraits on the wall.  "If I
could but let them know the truth," he said, "those friends
of mine in England, they would protest against actions
which are unworthy of the England we have loved


At this point the chronological arrangement of my book,
already weak, breaks down altogether.  So far I have set
down, almost day by day, things seen and heard which
seemed to me characteristic and clear illustration of the
mentality of the Communists, of the work that has been
done or that they are trying to do, and of the general state of
affairs.  I spent the whole of my time in ceaseless
investigation, talking now with this man, now with that,
until at the end of a month I was so tired (besides being
permanently hungry) that I began to fear rather than to seek
new experiences and impressions.  The last two weeks of
my stay were spent, not in visiting Commissariats, but in
collecting masses of printed material, in talking with my
friends of the opposition parties, and, while it was in
progress, visiting daily the Conference in the Kremlin
which, in the end, definitely announced itself as the
Third International.  I have considered it best to treat of that
Conference more or less as a whole, and am therefore
compelled to disregard chronology altogether in putting
down on paper, the results of some of my talks with the
opposition.  Some of these took place on the same days as
my visits to the Kremlin conference, and during those days
I was also partly engaged in getting to see the British
prisoners in the Butyrka prison, in which I eventually
succeeded.  This is my excuse for the inadequacy of my
account of the conference, an inadequacy which I regret the
more as I was the only non-Communist who was able to
be there at all.


No man likes being hungry.  No man likes being cold.
Everybody in Moscow, as in Petrograd, is both hungry and
cold.  There is consequently very general and very bitter
discontent.  This is of course increased, not lessened, by the
discipline introduced into the factories and the heavy
burden of the army, although the one is intended to hasten
the end of hunger and cold and the other for the defence of
the revolution.  The Communists, as the party in power,
naturally bear the blame and are the objects of the
discontent, which will certainly within a short time be
turned upon any other government that may succeed them.
That government must introduce sterner discipline rather
than weaker, and the transport and other difficulties of the
country will remain the same, unless increased by the
disorder of a new upheaval and the active or passive
resistance of many who are convinced revolutionaries
or will become so in answer to repression.

The Communists believe that to let power slip from their
hands at this moment would be treachery to the revolution.
And, in the face of the advancing forces of the Allies and
Kolchak many of the leaders of the opposition are inclined
to agree with them, and temporarily to submit to what they
undoubtedly consider rank tyranny.  A position has been
reached after these eighteen months not unlike that reached
by the English Parliament party in 1643.  I am reminded of
a passage in Guizot, which is so illuminating that I make no
apology for quoting it in full:--

"The party had been in the ascendant for three years:
whether it had or had not, in church and state,
accomplished its designs, it was at all events by its aid and
concurrence that, for three years, public affairs had been
conducted; this alone was sufficient to make many people
weary of it; it was made responsible for the many evils
already endured, for the many hopes frustrated; it was
denounced as being no less addicted to persecution than the
bishops, no less arbitrary than the king:]196]its
inconsistencies, its weaknesses, were recalled with
bitterness; and, independently of this, even without factions
or interested views, from the mere progress of events and
opinions, there was felt a secret need of new principles and
new rulers."

New rulers are advancing on Moscow from Siberia, but I
do not think that they claim that they are bringing with
them new principles.  Though the masses may want new
principles, and might for a moment submit to a
reintroduction of very old principles in desperate hope of
less hunger and less cold, no one but a lunatic could
imagine that they would for very long willingly submit to
them.  In the face of the danger that they may be forced to
submit not to new principles but to very old ones, the
non-Communist leaders are unwilling to use to the full the
discontent that exists.  Hunger and cold are a good enough
basis of agitation for anyone desirous of overturning any
existing government.  But the Left Social Revolutionaries,
led by the hysterical but flamingly honest Spiridonova, are
alone in having no scruples or hesitation in the matter, the
more responsible parties fearing the anarchy and
consequent weakening of the revolution that would
result from any violent change.


The Left Social Revolutionaries want something so much
like anarchy that they have nothing to fear in a collapse of
the present system.  They are for a partisan army, not a
regular army.  They are against the employment of officers
who served under the old regime.  They are against the
employment of responsible technicians and commercial
experts in the factories.  They believe that officers and
experts alike, being ex-bourgeois, must be enemies of the
people, insidiously engineering reaction.  They are opposed
to any agreement with the Allies, exactly as they were
opposed to any agreement with the Germans.  I heard them
describe the Communists as "the bourgeois gendarmes of
the Entente," on the ground that having offered concessions
they would be keeping order in Russia for the benefit of
Allied capital.  They blew up Mirbach, and would no doubt
try to blow up any successors he might have.  Not wanting
a regular army (a low bourgeois weapon) they would welcome
occupation in order that they, with bees in their bonnets
and bombs in their hands, might go about revolting against it.

I did not see Spiridonova, because on February 11, the very
day when I had an appointment with her, the Communists
arrested her, on the ground that her agitation was dangerous
and anarchist in tendency, fomenting discontent without a
programme for its satisfaction.  Having a great respect for
her honesty, they were hard put to it to know what to do
with her, and she was finally sentenced to be sent for a year
to a home for neurasthenics, "where she would be able to
read and write and recover her normality." That the
Communists were right in fearing this agitation was proved
by the troubles in Petrograd, where the workmen in some
of the factories struck, and passed Left Social
Revolutionary resolutions which, so far from showing that
they were awaiting reaction and General Judenitch, showed
simply that they were discontented and prepared to move to
the left.


The second main group of opposition is dominated by the
Mensheviks . Their chief leaders are Martov and Dan.  Of
these two, Martov is by far the cleverer, Dan the more
garrulous, being often led away by his own volubility into
agitation of a kind not approved by his friends.  Both are
men of very considerable courage.  Both are Jews.

The Mensheviks would like the reintroduction of
capitalists, of course much chastened by experience, and
properly controlled by themselves.  Unlike Spiridonova and
her romantic supporters they approved of Chicherin's offer
of peace and concessions to the Allies (see page 44).  They
have even issued an appeal that the Allies should come to
an agreement with "Lenin's Government." As may be
gathered from their choice of a name for the Soviet
Government, they are extremely hostile to it, but they fear
worse things, and are consequently a little shy of exploiting
as they easily could the dislike of the people for hunger and
cold.  They fear that agitation on these lines might well
result in anarchy, which would leave the revolution
temporarily defenceless against Kolchak, Denikin,
Judenitch or any other armed reactionary.  Their
non-Communist enemies say of the Mensheviks:
"They have no constructive programme; they would
like a bourgeois government back again, in order
that they might be in opposition to it, on the left"

On March 2nd, I went to an election meeting of workers
and officials of the Moscow Co-operatives.  It was
beastly cold in the hall of the University where the
meeting was held, and my nose froze as well as my feet.
Speakers were announced from the Communists,
Internationalists, Mensheviks, and Right
Social Revolutionaries.  The  last-named did not arrive.
The Presidium was for the most part non-Communist,
and the meeting was about equally divided for and
against the Communists.  A Communist led
off with a very bad speech on the general European
situation and to the effect that there was no salvation for
Russia except by the way she was going.  Lozovsky, the
old Internationalist, spoke next, supporting the Bolsheviks'
general policy but criticizing their suppression of the
press.  Then came Dan, the Menshevik, to hear whom I had
come.  He is a little, sanguine man, who gets very hot as he
speaks.  He conducted an attack on the whole Bolshevik
position combined with a declaration that so long as they
are attacked from without he is prepared to support them.
The gist of his speech was: 1. He was in favour of fighting
Kolchak. 2. But the Bolshevik policy with regard to the peasants will,
since as the army grows it must contain more and more
peasants, end in the creation of an army with
counter-revolutionary sympathies. 3. He objected to the
Bolshevik criticism of the Berne, delegation (see page 156)
on very curious grounds, saying that though Thomas,
Henderson, etc., backed their own Imperialists during the
war, all that was now over, and that union with them would
help, not hinder, revolution in England and France. 4. He
pointed out that "All power to the Soviets" now means "All
power to the Bolsheviks," and said that he wished that the
Soviets should actually have all power instead of merely
supporting the Bolshevik bureaucracy.  He was asked for
his own programme, but said he had not time to give
it.  I watched the applause carefully.  General
dissatisfaction with the present state of affairs was obvious,
but it was also obvious that no party would have a chance
that admitted its aim was extinction of the Soviets (which
Dan's ultimate aim certainly is, or at least the changing of
them into non-political industrial organizations) or that was not
prepared to fight against reaction from without.

I went to see Sukhanov (the friend of Gorky and Martov,
though his political opinions do not precisely agree with
those of either), partly to get the proofs of his first volume
of reminiscences of the revolution, partly to hear what he
had to say.  I found him muffled up in a dressing gown or
overcoat in an unheated flat, sitting down to tea with no
sugar, very little bread, a little sausage and a surprising
scrap of butter, brought in, I suppose, from the country by a
friend.  Nikitsky, a Menshevik, was also there, a hopeless
figure, prophesying the rotting of the whole system and of
the revolution.  Sukhanov asked me if I had noticed the
disappearance of all spoons (there are now none, but
wooden spoons in the Metropole) as a symbol of the
falling to pieces of the revolution.  I told him that though I
had not lived in Russia thirty years or more, as he had, I
had yet lived there long enough and had, before the
revolution, sufficient experience in the loss of fishing
tackle, not to be surprised that Russian peasants, even
delegates, when able, as in such a moment of convulsion as
the revolution, stole spoons if only as souvenirs to show
that they had really been to Moscow.

We talked, of course, of their attitude towards the
Bolsheviks.  Both work in Soviet institutions.  Sukhanov
(Nikitsky agreeing) believed that if the Bolsheviks came
further to meet the other parties, Mensheviks, etc.,
"Kolchak and Denikin would commit suicide and your
Lloyd George would give up all thought of intervention." I
asked, What if they should be told to hold a Constituent
Assembly or submit to a continuance of the blockade?
Sukhanov said, "Such a Constituent Assembly would be
impossible, and we should be against it." Of the Soviets,
one or other said, "We stand absolutely on the platform of
the Soviet Government now: but we think that such a form
cannot be permanent.  We consider the Soviets perfect
instruments of class struggle, but not a perfect form of
government." I asked Sukhanov if he thought counter
revolution possible.  He said "No," but admitted that there
was a danger lest the agitation of the Mensheviks or others
might set fire to the discontent of the masses against the
actual physical conditions, and end in pogroms destroying
Bolsheviks and Mensheviks alike.  Their general theory
was that Russia was not so far developed that a Socialist
State was at present possible.  They therefore wanted a state
in which private capital should exist, and in which factories
were not run by the state but by individual owners.  They
believed that the peasants, with their instincts of small
property-holders, would eventually enforce something of
the kind, and that the end would be some form of
democratic Republic.  These two were against the offering
of concessions to the Allies, on the ground that those under
consideration involved the handing over to the
concessionaires of the whole power in northern  Russia-railways,
forests, the right to set up their own banks in the
towns served by the railway, with all that this implied.
Sukhanov was against concessions on principle, and
regretted that the Mensheviks were in favour of them.

I saw Martov at the offices of his newspaper, which had
just been suppressed on account of an article, which he
admitted was a little indiscreet, objecting to the upkeep of
the Red Army (see page 167). He pointed eloquently to the
seal on some of the doors, but told me that he had started a
new paper, of which he showed me the first number, and
told me that the demand for it was such that although he
had intended that it should be a weekly he now expected to
make it a daily.  Martov said that he and his party were
against every form of intervention for the following
1. The continuation of hostilities, the need of an army and
of active defence were bound to intensify the least desirable
qualities of the revolution whereas an agreement, by
lessening the tension, would certainly lead to moderation of
Bolshevik Policy. 2. The needs of the army overwhelmed
every effort at restoring the economic life of the country.
He was further convinced that intervention of any kind
favoured reaction, even supposing that the Allies did not
wish this.  "They cannot help themselves," he said,
"the forces that would support intervention must be
dominated by those of reaction, since all of the
non-reactionary parties are prepared to sink their
differences with the Bolsheviks, in order to defend the
revolution as a whole." He said he was convinced that
the Bolsheviks would either have to alter or
go.  He read me, in illustration of this, a letter from a
peasant showing the unreadiness of the peasantry to go into
communes (compulsion in this matter has already been
discarded by the Central Government).  "We took the land,"
wrote the peasant in some such words, "not much, just as
much as we could work, we ploughed it where it had not
been ploughed before, and now, if it is made into a
commune, other lazy fellows who have done nothing will
come in and profit by our work." Martov argued that life
itself, the needs of the country and the will of the peasant
masses, would lead to the changes he thinks desirable in the
Soviet regime.


The position of the Right Social  Revolutionaries is a good
deal more complicated than that of the Mensheviks.
In their later declarations they are as far from their
romantic anarchist left wing as they are from their
romantic reactionary extreme right.  They stand,
as they have always stood, for a Constituent Assembly, but
they have thrown over the idea of instituting a Constituent
Assembly by force.  They have come into closer contact
with the Allies than any other party to the left of the Cadets.
By doing so, by associating themselves with the Czech
forces on the Volga and minor revolts of a reactionary
character inside Russia, they have pretty badly
compromised themselves.  Their change of attitude towards
the Soviet Government must not be attributed to any change
in their own programme, but to the realization that the
forces which they imagined were supporting them were
actually being used to support something a great deal
further right.  The Printers' Gazette, a non-Bolshevik
organ, printed one of their resolutions, one point of which
demands the overthrow of the reactionary governments
supported by the Allies or the Germans, and another
condemns every attempt to overthrow the Soviet
Government by force of arms, on the ground that such
an attempt would weaken the working class as a whole and
would be used by the reactionary groups for their own

Volsky is a Right Social Revolutionary, and was President
of that Conference of Members of the Constituent
Assembly from whose hands the Directorate which ruled in
Siberia received its authority and Admiral Kolchak his
command, his proper title being Commander of the Forces
of the Constituent Assembly.  The Constituent Assembly
members were to have met on January 1st of this year, then
to retake authority from the Directorate and organize a
government on an All-Russian basis.  But there was
continual friction between the Directorate and the
Conference of members of the Constituent Assembly, the
Directorate being more reactionary than they.  In November
came Kolchak's coup d'=82tat, followed by a declaration
against him and an appeal for his overthrow issued by
members of the Constituent Assembly. Some were arrested
by a group of officers.  A few are said to have been killed.
Kolchak, I think, has denied responsibility for this, and
probably was unaware of the intentions of the
reactionaries under his command.  Others of the members
escaped to Ufa.  On December 5th, 25 days before that
town was taken by the Bolsheviks, they announced their
intention of no longer opposing the Soviet Government in
the field.  After the capture of the town by the Soviet
troops, negotiations were begun between the
representatives of the Conference of Members of the
Constituent Assembly, together with other Right Social
Revolutionaries, and representatives of the Soviet
Government, with a view to finding a basis for agreement.
The result of those negotiations was the resolution passed
by the Executive Committee on February 26th (see page
166).  A delegation of the members came to Moscow, and
were quaintly housed in a huge room in the Metropole,
where they had put up beds all round the walls and big
tables in the middle of the room for their deliberations. It
was in this room that I saw Volsky first, and afterwards in
my own.

I asked him what exactly had brought him and all that he
represented over from the side of Kolchak and the Allies to
the side of the Soviet Government. He looked me
straight in the face, and said: "I'll tell you.  We were
convinced by many facts that the policy of the Allied
representatives in Siberia was directed not to strengthening
the Constituent Assembly against the Bolsheviks and the
Germans, but simply to strengthening the reactionary forces
behind our backs."

He also complained: "All through last summer we were
holding that front with the Czechs, being told that there
were two divisions of Germans advancing to attack us, and
we now know that there were no German troops in Russia
at all."

He criticized the Bolsheviks for being better makers of
programmes than organizers.  They offered free electricity,
and presently had to admit that soon there would be no
electricity for lack of fuel.  They did not sufficiently base
their policy on the study of actual possibilities.  "But that
they are really fighting against a bourgeois dictatorship is
clear to us.  We are, therefore, prepared to help them in
every possible way."

He said, further: "Intervention of any kind
will prolong the regime of the Bolsheviks by
compelling us to drop opposition to the Soviet Government,
although we do not like it, and to support it because it is
defending the revolution."

With regard to help given to individual groups or
governments fighting against Soviet Russia, Volsky said
that they saw no difference between such intervention and
intervention in the form of sending troops.

I asked what he thought would happen.  He answered in
almost the same words as those used by Martov, that life
itself would compel the Bolsheviks to alter their policy or
to go.  Sooner or later the peasants would make their will
felt, and they were against the bourgeoisie and against the
Bolsheviks.  No bourgeois reaction could win permanently
against the Soviet, because it could have nothing to offer,
no idea for which people would fight.  If by any chance
Kolchak, Denikin and Co. were to win, they would have to
kill in tens of thousands where the Bolsheviks have had to
kill in hundreds, and the result would be the complete ruin
and the collapse of Russia in anarchy. "Has not the
Ukraine been enough to teach the Allies that even six
months' occupation of  non-Bolshevik territory
by half a million troops has merely the effect of
turning the population into Bolsheviks?"


March 3rd.

One day near the end of February, Bucharin, hearing that I
meant to leave quite soon, said rather mysteriously, "Wait a
few days longer, because something of international
importance is going to happen which will certainly be of
interest for your history." That was the only hint I got of
the preparation of the Third International.  Bucharin refused
to say more.  On March 3rd Reinstein looked in about nine
in the morning and said he had got me a guest's ticket for
the conference in the Kremlin, and wondered why I had not
been there the day before, when it had opened.  I told him I
knew nothing whatever about it; Litvinov and Karakhan,
whom I had seen quite recently, had never mentioned it,
and guessing that this must be the secret at which Bucharin
had hinted, I supposed that they had purposely kept
silence.  I therefore rang up Litvinov, and asked if they
had had any reason against my going. He said that he had
thought it would not interest me.  So I went.  The
Conference was still a secret.  There was nothing about it in
the morning papers.

The meeting was in a smallish room, with a dais at one end,
in the old Courts of Justice built in the time of Catherine the
Second, who would certainly have turned in her grave if
she had known the use to which it was being put.  Two
very smart soldiers of the Red Army were guarding the
doors.  The whole room, including the floor, was decorated
in red.  There were banners with "Long Live the Third
International" inscribed upon them in many languages.  The
Presidium was on the raised dais at the end of the room,
Lenin sitting in the middle behind a long red-covered table
with Albrecht, a young German Spartacist, on the right and
Platten, the Swiss, on the left.  The auditorium sloped down
to the foot of the dais.  Chairs were arranged on each side
of an alleyway down the middle, and the four or five front
rows had little tables for convenience in writing.
Everybody of importance was there; Trotzky,
Zinoviev, Kamenev, Chichern, Bucharin, Karakhan,
Litvinov, Vorovsky, Steklov, Rakovsky, representing here
the Balkan Socialist Party, Skripnik, representing the
Ukraine.  Then there were Stang (Norwegian Left
Socialists), Grimlund (Swedish Left), Sadoul (France),
Finberg (British Socialist Party), Reinstein (American
Socialist Labour Party), a Turk, a  German-Austrian,
a Chinese, and so on.  Business was conducted and
speeches were made in all languages, though
where possible German was used, because more of the
foreigners knew German than knew French.  This was
unlucky for me.

When I got there people were making reports about the
situation in the different countries.  Finberg spoke in
English, Rakovsky in French, Sadoul also.  Skripnik, who,
being asked, refused to talk German and said he would
speak in either Ukrainian or Russia, and to most people's
relief chose the latter, made several interesting points about
the new revolution in the Ukraine.  The killing of the
leaders under the Skoropadsky regime had made no
difference to the movement, and town after town was
falling after internal revolt. (This was before they had
Kiev and, of course, long before they had taken Odessa,
both of which gains they confidently prophesied.) The
sharp lesson of German occupation had taught the
Ukrainian Social Revolutionaries what their experiences
during the last fifteen months had taught the Russian, and
all parties were working together.

But the real interest of the gathering was in its attitude
towards the Berne conference.  Many letters had been
received from members of that conference, Longuet for
example, wishing that the Communists had been
represented there, and the view taken at Moscow was that
the left wing at Berne was feeling uncomfortable at sitting
down with Scheidemann and Company; let them definitely
break with them, finish with the Second International and
join the Third.  It was clear that this gathering in the
Kremlin was meant as the nucleus of a new International
opposed to that which had split into national groups, each
supporting its own government in the prosecution of the
war.  That was the leit motif of the whole affair.

Trotsky, in a leather coat, military breeches and
gaiters, with a fur hat with the sign of the Red Army in
front, was looking very well, but a strange figure for those
who had known him as one of the greatest
anti-militarists in Europe.  Lenin sat quietly listening,
speaking when necessary in almost every European
language with astonishing ease.  Balabanova talked about
Italy and seemed happy at last, even in Soviet Russia, to be
once more in a "secret meeting." It was really an
extraordinary affair and, in spite of some childishness, I
could not help realizing that I was present at something that
will go down in the histories of socialism, much like that
other strange meeting convened in London in 1848.

The vital figures of the conference, not counting Platten,
whom I do not know and on whom I can express no
opinion, were Lenin and the young German, Albrecht, who,
fired no doubt by the events actually taking place in his
country, spoke with brain and character.  The German
Austrian also seemed a real man.  Rakovsky, Skripnik, and
Sirola the Finn really represented something.  But there was
a make-believe side to the whole affair, in which the
English Left Socialists were represented by Finberg, and
the Americans by Reinstein, neither of whom had or was
likely to have any means of communicating with his

March 4th.

In the Kremlin they were discussing the programme on
which the new International was to stand.  This is, of
course, dictatorship of the proletariat and all that that
implies.  I heard, Lenin make a long speech, the main point
of which was to show that Kautsky and his supporters at
Berne were now condemning the very tactics which they
had praised in 1906.  When I was leaving the Kremlin I met
Sirola walking in the square outside the building without a
hat, without a coat, in a cold so intense that I was putting
snow on my nose to prevent frostbite.  I exclaimed.  Sirola
smiled his ingenuous smile. "It is March," he said, "Spring
is coming."

March 5th.

Today all secrecy was dropped, a little prematurely, I
fancy, for when I got to the Kremlin I found that the first
note of opposition had been struck by the man who least of
all was expected to strike it.  Albrecht, the young German,
had opposed the immediate founding of the Third
International, on the double ground that not all nations were
properly represented and that it might make difficulties for
the political parties concerned in their own countries.
Every one was against him.  Rakovsky pointed out that the
same objections could have been raised against the
founding of the First International by Marx in London.  The
German-Austrian combated Albrecht's second point.
Other people said that the different parties concerned had
long ago definitely broken with the Second International.
Albrecht was in a minority of one.  It was decided therefore
that this conference was actually the Third International.
Platten announced the decision, and the "International" was
sung in a dozen languages at once.  Then Albrecht stood
up, a little red in the face, and said that he, of course,
recognized the decision and would announce it in Germany.

March 6th.

The conference in the Kremlin ended with the usual singing
and a photograph.  Some time before the end, when
Trotsky had just finished speaking and had left the tribune,
there was a squeal of protest from the photographer who
had just trained his apparatus.  Some one remarked "The
Dictatorship of the Photographer," and, amid general
laughter, Trotsky had to return to the tribune and stand
silent while the unabashed photographer took two pictures.
The founding of the Third International had been
proclaimed in the morning papers, and an extraordinary
meeting in the Great Theatre announced for the evening.  I
got to the theatre at about five, and had difficulty in getting
in, though I had a special ticket as a correspondent.  There
were queues outside all the doors.  The Moscow Soviet was
there, the Executive Committee, representatives of the
Trades Unions and the Factory Committees, etc.  The huge
theatre and the platform were crammed, people standing in
the aisles and even packed close together in the wings of
the stage.  Kamenev opened the meeting by a solemn
announcement of the founding of the Third
International in the Kremlin.  There was a roar of applause
from the audience, which rose and sang the "International"
in a way that I have never heard it sung since the
All-Russian Assembly when the news came of the strikes in
Germany during the Brest negotiations.  Kamenev then
spoke of those who had died on the way, mentioning
Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg, and the whole theatre
stood again while the orchestra played, "You fell as
victims." Then Lenin spoke.  If I had ever thought that
Lenin was losing his personal popularity, I got my answer
now.  It was a long time before he could speak at all,
everybody standing and drowning his attempts to speak
with roar after roar of applause.  It was an extraordinary,
overwhelming scene, tier after tier crammed with workmen,
the parterre filled, the whole platform and the wings.  A
knot of workwomen were close to me, and they almost
fought to see him, and shouted as if each one were
determined that he should hear her in particular.  He spoke
as usual, in the simplest way, emphasizing the fact that the
revolutionary struggle everywhere was forced to use the
Soviet forms. "We declare our solidarity with
the aims of the Sovietists," he read from an Italian
paper, and added, "and that was when they did not
know what our aims were, and before we had an
established programme ourselves." Albrecht made
a very long reasoned speech for Spartacus, which
was translated by Trotsky.  Guilbeau, seemingly a mere
child, spoke of the socialist movement in France.  Steklov
was translating him when I left.  You must remember that I
had had nearly two years of such meetings, and am not a
Russian.  When I got outside the theatre, I found at each
door a disappointed crowd that had been unable to get in.

The proceedings finished up next day with a review in the
Red Square and a general holiday.

If the Berne delegates had come, as they were expected,
they would have been told by the Communists that they
were welcome visitors, but that they were not regarded as
representing the International.  There would then have
ensued a lively battle over each one of the delegates, the
Mensheviks urging him to stick to Berne, and the
Communists urging him to express allegiance to the
Kremlin.  There would have been demonstrations and
counter-demonstrations, and altogether I am very sorry
that it did not happen and that I was not there to see.


I went to see Lenin the day after the Review in the Red
Square, and the general holiday in honour of the Third
International.  The first thing he said was: "I am afraid that
the Jingoes in England and France will make use of
yesterday's doings as an excuse for further action against
us.  They will say  'How can we leave them in peace when
they set about setting the world on fire?' To that I would
answer, 'We are at war, Messieurs!  And just as during
your war you tried to make revolution in Germany, and
Germany did make trouble in Ireland and India, so we,
while we are at war with you, adopt the measures that are
open to us.  We have told you we are willing to make

He  spoke of Chicherin's last note, and said they based all
their hopes on it.  Balfour had said somewhere, "Let the fire
burn itself out." That it would not do.  But the quickest
way of restoring good conditions in Russia was, of course,
peace and agreement with the Allies.  "I am sure we could
come to terms, if they want to come to terms at all.
England and America would be willing, perhaps, if their
hands were not tied by France.  But intervention in the
large sense can now hardly be. They must have learnt that
Russia could never be governed as India is governed, and
that sending troops here is the same thing as sending them
to a Communist University."

I said something about the general hostility to their
propaganda noticeable in foreign countries.

Lenin.  "Tell them to build a Chinese wall round each of
their countries.  They have their customs-officers, their
frontiers, their coast-guards.  They can expel any
Bolsheviks they wish.  Revolution does not depend on
propaganda.  If the conditions of revolution are not there no
sort of propaganda will either hasten or impede it.  The war
has brought about those conditions in all countries, and I
am convinced that if Russia today were to be swallowed up
by the sea, were to cease to exist altogether, the revolution
in the rest of Europe would go on.  Put Russia under
water for twenty years, and you would not affect by a
shilling or an hour a week the demand, of the
shop-stewards in England."

I told him, what I have told most of them many times, that I
did not believe there would be a revolution in England.

Lenin. "We have a saying that a man may have typhoid
while still on his legs. Twenty, maybe thirty years ago I had
abortive typhoid, and was going about with it,
had had it some days before it knocked me over. Well,
England and France and Italy have caught the disease
already.  England may seem to you to be untouched, but the
microbe is already there."

I said that just as his typhoid was abortive typhoid, so the
disturbances in England to which he alluded might well be
abortive revolution, and come to nothing. I told him the
vague, disconnected character of the strikes and the
generally liberal as opposed to socialist character of the
movement,  so far as it was political at all, reminded me of
what I had heard of 1905 in Russia and not at all of
1917, and that I was sure it would settle down.

Lenin. "Yes, that is possible. It is, perhaps, an educative
period, in which the English workmen will come to realize
their political needs, and turn from liberalism to Socialism.
Socialism is certainly weak in England.  Your socialist
movements, your socialist parties . . . when I was in
England I zealously attended everything I could, and for a
country with so large an industrial population they were
pitiable, pitiable . . . a handful at a street corner . . . a
meeting in a drawing room . . . a school class . . . pitiable.
But you must remember one great difference between
Russia of 1905 and England of to-day.  Our first Soviet in
Russia was made during the revolution.  Your
shop-stewards committees have been in existence
long before.  They are without programme, without
direction, but the opposition they will meet will force
a programme upon them."

Speaking of the expected visit of the Berne delegation, he
asked me if I knew MacDonald, whose name had been
substituted for that of Henderson in later telegrams
announcing their coming.  He ,said: "I am very glad
MacDonald is coming instead of Henderson.  Of course
MacDonald is not a Marxist in any sense of the word, but
he is at least interested in theory, and can therefore be
trusted to do his best to understand what is happening here.
More than that we do not ask."

We then talked a little on a subject that interests me very
much, namely, the way in which insensibly, quite apart
from war, the Communist theories are being modified in the
difficult process of their translation into practice.  We
talked of the changes in "workers' control," which is now a
very different thing from the wild committee business that
at first made work almost impossible.  We talked then of
the antipathy of the peasants to compulsory communism,
and how that idea also had been considerably whittled
away.  I asked him what were going to be the relations
between the Communists of the towns and the
property-loving peasants, and whether there was
not great danger of antipathy between them, and said
I regretted leaving too soon to see the elasticity of
the Communist theories tested by the inevitable
pressure of the peasantry.

Lenin said that in Russia there was a pretty sharp
distinction between the rich peasants and the poor.  "The
only opposition we have here in Russia is directly or
indirectly due to the rich peasants.  The poor, as soon as
they are liberated from the political domination of the rich,
are on our side and are in an enormous majority."

I said that would not be so in the Ukraine, where property
among the peasants is much more equally distributed.

Lenin. "No.  And there, in the Ukraine, you will certainly
see our policy modified.  Civil war, whatever happens, is
likely to be more bitter in the Ukraine than elsewhere,
because there the instinct of property has been further
developed in the peasantry, and the minority and majority
will be more equal."

He asked me if I meant to return, saying that I could go
down to Kiev to watch the revolution there as I had
watched it in Moscow.  I said I should be very sorry to
think that this was my last visit to the country which I
love only second to my own.  He laughed, and paid me the
compliment of saying that, "although English," I had more
or less succeeded in understanding what they were at, and
that he should be pleased to see me again.


March 15th.

There is nothing to record about the last few days of my
visit, fully occupied as they were with the collection and
packing of printed material and preparations for departure.
I left with the two Americans, Messrs.  Bullitt and Steffens,
who had come to Moscow some days previously, and
travelled up in the train with Bill Shatov, the Commandant
of Petrograd, who is not a Bolshevik but a fervent admirer
of Prince Kropotkin, for the distribution of whose works in
Russia he has probably done as much as any man.  Shatov
was an emigr=82 in New York, returned to Russia, brought
law and order into the chaos of the Petrograd-Moscow
railway, never lost a chance of doing a good turn to an
American, and with his level-headedness and practical
sense became one of the hardest worked servants of the
Soviet, although, as he said, the moment people
stopped attacking them he would be the first to pull down
the Bolsheviks.  He went into the occupied provinces
during the German evacuation of them, to buy arms and
ammunition from the German soldiers.  Prices, he said, ran
low.  You could buy rifles for a mark each, field guns for
150 marks, and a field wireless station for 500.  He had
then been made Commandant of Petrograd, although there
had been some talk of setting him to reorganize transport.
Asked how long he thought the Soviet Government could
hold but, he replied, "We can afford to starve another year
for the sake of the Revolution."

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