THERE is something very conservative about the composition of the Russian revolutionary government. Under the Communist dictatorship there are no cabinet crises. The same Commissars hold their posts year in and year out; the same men are to be seen presiding at Party and Soviet Congresses. One can undertake to sketch the leading personalities of the Soviet régime without fearing that the outcome of an unfavorable election will banish them to private life and bring a new set of figures on the political stage. There may be minor changes and reshufflings now and then; but on the whole one can foresee pretty accurately who will be directing the various Russian governmental departments for years to come. For only old revolutionists are eligible for the highest administrative posts in Russia; and the strenuous experiences of the last seven years have pretty well sifted out the old revolutionists with practical ability from those who are only capable of agitation and propaganda.
Leon Trotzky is unquestionably the outstanding individual figure in Russian public life to-day. No one can rival him in personal magnetism, in widespread popular reputation, in capacity for inspiring prolonged ovations. That Trotzky to-day is not a member of the inmost Communist ruling group is only a sign that personal distinction does not necessarily involve political success. Trotzky owes his fame chiefly to his achievements in the civil war. Organizer of the Red Army that successfully defended the Soviet power against the attacks of the Allies and the Whites, Trotzky’s part in the military victory of the Revolution can scarcely be overestimated. Almost legendary anecdotes have grown up about his reckless personal bravery and superhuman energy, about his spectacular trips in special trains from one front to another, often under fire.
As the civil war came to an end and the Soviet Government turned to the work of peace-time reconstruction, it became more and more clear that the War Commissariat scarcely afforded a sufficient outlet for Trotzky’s abounding energy. Dzerzhinsky, the other outstanding man of action among the revolutionary leaders, delegated much of his work as head of the secret police to subordinates and threw himself into reconstruction activity, first as head of the transportation system, later as chief of the state industries. But Trotzky remained in glittering isolation in his post as War Commissar in a country where economic hardships made war, except in elementary self-defense, an almost impossible contingency. In the spring of 1923 rumors were circulated to the effect that Trotzky was destined for an extremely important post in the field of economic administration. But time passed; the rumors were not realized in fact.
Last winter, in December and January, Trotzky for the first time came openly into sharp conflict with the other leading members of the Communist Party Central Committee, such as Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Bukharin. The Party had just passed through a period of intense internal discussion about the problem of making the Party organization more democratic. The Central Committee unanimously adopted a resolution prescribing certain democratic reforms in the constitution and management of the Party. Almost immediately after the publication of this resolution Trotzky published an open letter to the Moscow Party organizations expressing doubt whether the present personnel of the Party officialdom would carry out the resolution which had been adopted. This was the signal for a bitter struggle between Trotzky’s partisans and those of the Central Committee majority. The issue of this struggle showed that in Russia, as elsewhere, personal ovations do not necessarily connote the ability to secure votes at the decisive time and place. Trotzky’s point of view was solemnly condemned both at the Communist Party Conference in January and at the recent Party Congress late in May.
The defeat of Trotzky in the Party controversy can largely be explained by his failure to win over the ten or fifteen thousand prerevolutionary Communist Party members who control the machinery and dominate the conventions and conferences of the Party. There were several reasons for this failure. Perhaps because he had occupied such a commanding position in the early years of the Revolution, Trotzky has never troubled to build up any kind of personal political machine within the Party. He can go to a factory and carry thousands of workers off their feet with a fiery oration. But he would not be as likely as his Party opponents to know personally the little group of leading Communists in the factory who wield a decisive voice when it comes to electing delegates to a Party Congress or Conference. Then Trotzky labors under the disadvantage of having joined the Communist Party only in 1917, while his leading opponents can all boast themselves ‘old Bolsheviki’ of at least twenty years’ standing. Then, deservedly or not, Trotzky has the reputation of being somewhat mercurial and quick to fly off at a tangent on any new idea. The seasoned old Communists generally prefer to follow leaders whom they regard as possessing more solid, if less brilliant attainments.
At the same time, despite his setback last winter, Trotzky is distinctly a figure to be reckoned with in Russian political life. He has accepted his temporary defeat gracefully, professing entire loyalty to the Party and thereby depriving his opponents of an excuse for accusing him of factionalism or breach of Party discipline. At the same time, in the course of his recent speech before the Party Congress, he nowhere conceded that he had been wrong in the controversy last winter. For the time being the leadership of the Communist Party seems securely lodged in the hands of his opponents. But a political or economic crisis sufficiently significant to change the mood of the Party might conceivably bring Trotzky to the fore as a successor to Lenin.
In a room in the huge building of the Communist Party Tseka, or Central Committee, a tall dark man paces up and down incessantly, like a caged lion, occasionally pausing to jot down a note or send off a message. This man is the Georgian Djugashvili, more generally known by his appropriate Russian revolutionary pseudonym of Stalin — steel. Stalin is Secretary of the Russian Communist Party and, although he occupies no official position, he holds in his hands more of the threads of the Russian revolutionary government than any other individual.
Stalin has always been a power behind the throne in the Russian Communist Party. In prerevolutionary days, when most of the Party leaders were abroad in exile, Stalin superintended the work of the Party in Russia. Following the Revolution he held the relatively inconspicuous post of Commissar for Nationalities until the adoption of the federal constitution brought about the abolition of this Commissariat as superfluous. But as Party Secretary — the secretary in Russian political organizations has wide executive powers — he was in a position to know the most intimate secrets of the Russian state organism and to exert a powerful influence upon the currents of political power.
‘Lenin trusts Stalin; Stalin trusts no one,’ was a current saying two years ago, and it adequately expressed the impression created by this silent and potent Caucasian, who has exploited his personality most effectively by consistently suppressing all visible manifestations of it. It was inevitable that Stalin, staunchest upholder of Party orthodoxy and the principles of ‘Leninism,’ should have come into conflict with Trotzky when the latter published his open letter with its spirit of criticism and innovation; and the conflict derived added piquancy because of the strikingly contrasted personalities of the two opponents.
Trotzky is a man of fire; Stalin is a man of ice. Trotzky is a frequent speaker and prolific writer; Stalin constantly holds himself behind a veil of reserve, only expressing himself on occasions of the first importance. Trotzky, himself a former journalist, has often chosen the press, even the foreign ‘bourgeois’ press, as a medium for declarations; Stalin has the reputation of never having granted an interview to anyone on any subject. If Trotzky is a figure who might fit into any great revolution, Stalin is a symbol and product of the Russian Bolshevist Revolution, with its emphasis on iron discipline and strict subordination of the individual to the Party organization. Just for this reason he will be a power in the Russian Communist Party as long as it retains anything like its present form.
One of the cleverest cartoons recently published in the Moscow newspapers showed a thickset man making an impassioned oration, while in the background Foreign Commissar Chicherin appeared in an attitude of extreme anxiety, wiping beads of perspiration from his forehead. The caption under the cartoon read: ‘Comrade Zinoviev Makes a Speech.’ Because of his propensity for breathing fire and slaughter against the capitalist world in his speeches Zinoviev is something of an enfant terrible in the eyes of the Soviet diplomacy. Perhaps with a view to quieting the apprehensions of the Foreign Office, Zinoviev has recently made a point of emphasizing in his speeches that he is speaking only on behalf of the Communist International, of which he is President, and not of the Soviet Government.
That Zinoviev is a powerful figure in the councils of the Communist Party can scarcely be doubted. He delivered the leading reports at the two most important Congresses that have taken place in Russia recently, the Communist Party Congress late in May and the Congress of the Communist International in June and July. His control of the deliberations of the latter body has developed almost to perfection; and anyone with an eye for the technique of political steam-rollering must have admired the skill with which Zinoviev prepared and steered the proceedings of the Congress, isolating and suppressing, with an unerring eye, every deviation, either to the ‘right’ or to the ‘left’ of the programme which he advocated.
At first sight Zinoviev’s eminence in the Party is a little difficult to understand. He has neither the personal magnetism of Trotzky nor the stubborn strength of Stalin. His name is not associated with any of the great military achievements of the Revolution, and he has taken little part in the adminstrative work of the reconstruction period. But he possesses a certain faculty for appealing to the Communist rank-and-file, for exciting and exploiting to the utmost degree the mass emotions of class consciousness, fanaticism, hatred of the bourgeoisie, of the Mensheviki, of the intelligentsia, of any group that he denounces as hostile or lukewarm to the Party and the Revolution. Add to this a considerable skill in Communist political manipulation and the prestige which he derives from his years of prerevolutionary close association with Lenin, and one gets an idea of the secret of Zinoviev’s steady rise to his present position of commanding leadership of the Party.
Leo Kamenev, third member of the Communist Party triumvirate of leaders that also includes Stalin and Zinoviev, is a brother-in-law of Trotzky. This circumstance, however, has not the slightest political significance, and Kamenev was quite as active as his two associates in rebutting Trotzky’s arguments during the period of the Party controversy.
A stout man of medium height, with spectacles and a pointed professorial beard of moderate dimensions, Kamenev suggests a savant, rather than a revolutionary leader, when one sees him presiding over a formal meeting of the Moscow Soviet, of which he is President. Kamenev now has little to do with the local affairs of the Moscow municipality. In his capacity as one of Russia’s three Vice-Premiers—the other two were Rykov and Tsurupa — Kamenev has taken on his shoulders an increasing share of the general administrative work of the Soviet Government. Following Lenin’s death he became chairman of the Sto, or Council of Labor and Defense, a sort of inner cabinet which occupies itself with the consideration of economic affairs. During Rykov’s absence last spring, due to ill health, Kamenev acted as Premier.
Kamenev conveys the impression of being a conciliatory, cautious, discreet personality. He showed conspicuous success in handling the relations between the Soviet Government and the American Relief Administration during the period of the famine, when the tense situation and the psychology produced in Russia by years of blockade and isolation made cooperation between the Soviet Government and representatives of a foreign relief organization, that was regarded as distinctly conservative in its political tendencies, more difficult than it might have been under more normal conditions. He probably owes his rise to power in large measure to the reputation which he enjoys as a level-headed man who can be relied on to look the facts of Russian reconstruction squarely in the face and not fly off on any eccentric economic tangents.
In the stormy early days of the Revolution a foreigner had business of a sufficiently pressing nature to warrant an interview with the head of the Chekha, or secret police. Ushered into a room he found himself face to face with a tall fair man, with furrowed countenance and deep-set blue eyes, sitting on a chair, his feet thrust in to slippers. Within easy reach stood a machine-gun. After the effect of this somewhat startling introduction had worn off Dzerzhinsky explained the reason for his attire, remarking with a half-apologetic smile: ‘You see, I never stir out of the office. I sleep here. ‘
Felix Dzerzhinsky suffered perhaps more than any other prominent Bolshevist leader for his activities in the days before the Revolution. He went through the horrors of penal servitude in Siberia. Liberated by the overthrow of the Tsarist régime, this Polish revolutionist returned to become one of the great active figures of the Soviet régime. By organizing the Chekha, or Extraordinary Commission, the famous espionage organ of the Revolution, he made a contribution to the victory of the Communists in the civil war scarcely second to that of Trotzky. The Chekha discovered and broke up plot after plot organized by the Allied Powers and the Whites; it preserved order mercilessly in the large centres and safeguarded the rear and the lines of communication while the Red Army was defeating Kolchak and Denikin, Yudenitch and Wrangel.
After the civil war was over Russia was faced with another great crisis in the winter of 1921-1922. A huge famine was raging in the Volga region; American Relief Administration food-supplies were arriving at the ports; but the Russian railroad system, crippled beyond imagination as a result of years of war and blockade, was broken down and almost hopelessly clogged up. It seemed as if millions of lives might be lost because of defective transport. In this emergency Dzerzhinsky was thrown into the breach and nominated as Commissar for Transport. He immediately made a trip to the most congested traffic points, living in a box car and studying the situation on the ground. He introduced the principle of strictest accountability for all railroad officials. Any branch manager who promised more cars for food transportation than he actually delivered was to be handed over to a revolutionary tribunal, and, if the offense involved flagrant neglect of duty, was to be shot. As a result of Dzerzhinsky’s merciless, devoted, driving leadership the worst of the transportation difficulties were surmounted and a regular flow of food from the ports to the famine area was assured.
Since Lenin’s death Dzerzhinsky has occupied another difficult and responsible post as head of the Supreme Economic Council, the body which manages the Russian state industries. Here he has been at work for the last few months, hacking away at graft and bureaucracy on the part of management and at low productivity on the part of labor, shouldering the Herculean task of putting the Russian industries on their feet without the help of foreign capital.
Dzerzhinsky never takes any part in Party controversies. He is absolutely absorbed in his work and has no time for politics. No one is more universally respected by his Party associates; and even the non-Communists, who look on him with horror as head of the dreaded Chekha, concede his dauntless, fanatical singleness of character and purpose.
Shortly after Lenin’s death, before the name of his successor had been announced, the writer was discussing the requisite qualifications of the future Premier with a member of the Communist Party Central Committee.
‘A Russian Premier first of all has to be a Christian,’ said this Communist with a smile. Of course this statement should not be taken literally, for no Communist Party member is permitted to profess any form of religion. But religion and race in Eastern Europe are carelessly interchangeable terms, and what the Communist meant was that the head of the Soviet State, out of deference to the susceptibilities of the vast masses of illiterate peasants, must be of Slavic Russian origin.
It is to his origin, perhaps, that Alexei Ivanovitch Rykov owes his elevation to the post of Premier in preference to several other men who played more prominent parts in the revolutionary drama. To be sure Rykov was a wellknown figure among the Soviet leaders. As head of the Supreme Economic Council and chairman of the Sto he worked in close coöperation with Lenin on problems of economic reconstruction. But he has figured as an economic expert rather than as a popular leader. Subject to fits of stammering, he has never been able to sway the masses like several of the other Communist leaders who are notable orators. His health has suffered from the strain of the Revolution; and immediately after his election as Premier he was compelled to go abroad, traveling under a strict incognito, for the purpose of receiving expert medical treatment in Germany.
Rykov has the reputation of being a moderate among the Communist leaders; his mind works along analytical rather than emotional lines, and his practical experience as an economic administrator has doubtless exerted a sobering effect upon his revolutionary theories. His election as Premier is something of a guaranty that there will be no serious tamperings with the New Economic Policy which was adopted by the Soviet Government in the spring of 1921 as a sort of compromise between revolutionary principles and Russian realities.
A popular speaker at Soviet and Party meetings is a slightly built man with a pointed beard, a resonant voice, and a splendid command of the Russian language. This is Nikolai Bukharin, editor of the official Communist organ, Pravda, leading Party theoretician and joint author with Evgeny Preobrazhensky of The A B C of Communism, the outstanding popular textbook on the subject. Bukharin is a favorite among the workers and the Communist youth, both for his fiery eloquence and for his austere life. He has never lived in the Kremlin, the residence of most of the leading Communists, but occupies simple quarters in the Hotel Metropole. The condition of this hotel, until it shared in the general renovation brought about by the New Economic Policy, made residence there a genuine test of asceticism.
There was a time when Bukharin was regarded as an untamed rebel in the Communist ranks. He led the fight against the ratification of the BrestLitovsk Treaty and bitterly opposed Lenin’s policy of paying high salaries to specialists in the interest of industrial efficiency. But Bukharin’s outbursts of insurgency now seem to be over. He was not associated with any of the sporadic revolts against the New Economic Policy and its application which were headed by Shliapnikov, Kollontai, Lutovinov, and others. He was on the orthodox side in the Party controversy last winter, and the thunders of Pravda were directed exclusively against the opposition. Bukharin may still be a left-winger in temperament and theory; but he is a tame left-winger, well broken to the traces of Party discipline.
Besides being editor of Pravda, Bukharin is an outstanding figure in the councils of the Third International and a member of the powerful Political Bureau, the inner steering committee of seven members which leads and shapes the deliberations of the large Party Central Committee, which includes fifty-three members. The other members of the Political Bureau are Stalin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Trotzky, Rykov, and Tomsky. The last-named is President of the All-Russian Trades-Union Council.
The only outstanding Communist leader who possesses previous experience as an economic administrator is Leonid Borisovitch Krassin, the Commissar for Foreign Trade. Krassin can claim to be an old revolutionist; his association with the Bolshevist Party antedates the unsuccessful 1905 Revolution. After 1905, however, instead of going into underground work as a professional revolutionist, he became a skilled engineer in the service of the well-known German firm, SiemensSchueckert. After the November Revolution Krassin joined the Communists, and ever since he has been furnishing a certain amount of practical ballast for the more doctrinaire revolutionary theories of his associates in the government.
A witty Communist journalist once remarked: ‘In Russia we regard Krassin as a good business-man but a poor Bolshevik; in England they look on him as a good Bolshevik but a poor business-man. ‘
There is a sting of unfairness about this remark; the journalist in question was not on good terms personally with Krassin. But it is true that Krassin has had to play a rather difficult and anomalous rôle in serving as a medium of connection between his own revolutionary government and the capitalist world. What sounds like stark radicalism to a London banker may often impress a Russian Communist Congress as Menshevist heresy. Krassin deserves most of the credit for the gradual resumption of commercial relations with most of the European countries. If his advice had been consistently followed Russia might have had more success in attracting foreign capital into the economic reconstruction of the country. But of course the Communist revolutionary psychology is a formidable obstacle in this connection.
Krassin gives the impression of being an anchor to windward for the Soviet Government. Should Russia’s internal necessities demand a fundamental revision of the New Economic Policy in the direction of further concessions to capitalism, Krassin would seem ideally fitted to direct the necessary transitional steps. In such a contingency his political influence and prestige would be enormously increased. But until and unless some such situation arises Krassin is likely to go on occupying his present position — that of a specialist of proved loyalty who enjoys wide powers in his own field, but who wields comparatively little influence in the general councils of the Party. Not until the last Party Congress was Krassin elected a member of the Central Committee. He has never been a member of the Political Bureau.
George Chicherin, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, is a striking example of the aristocrat turned revolutionary. Born of a noble family and trained in the school of Tsarist diplomacy, Chicherin is probably the most cultured Foreign Minister in Europe to-day. He speaks a multitude of languages with absolute fluency; the writer has heard him pass from Russian to English, French, or German with the utmost ease. His knowledge of English is a scholar’s knowledge, as one may recognize from the meticulous wording of his notes and communiqués.
Chicherin is a formidable controversialist. Along with his exhaustive knowledge of history, politics, and international law goes a keen, logical mind, quick to seize on every point of casuistry and make the most of it. His habits of work are unique. His favorite reception-hour is any time after midnight. This is due to his practice of beginning work about two or three in the afternoon and staying in his office until five or six the following morning. His secretaries work in two or three shifts, and even so they are worn out by Chicherin’s insatiable thirst for work.
Chicherin never seems to rest. His office is working even on Sundays and big holidays when every other government institution in Moscow is tightly closed. The only time he is known to have been lured away from his desk was on the occasion of a series of Scriabin concerts given last year in the State Opera House. Chicherin is an excellent amateur pianist himself and he stayed away from his masses of diplomatic papers, documents, and protocols long enough to lend an appreciative ear to the Scriabin concerts.
And interview with Chicherin is a notable experience. One is solemnly ushered by a Red Army soldier into a sumptuously furnished anteroom and left to meditate for a time in surroundings of solitary and rather oppressive splendor. What impresses one in talking with Chicherin, next to his remarkable courtesy and self-possession of manner, is a certain curious impersonality, which seems to connote absorption in some problem far away from the immediate present. He follows every question with the closest attention, carefully thinking out every detail of the answers. But one always has the impression that at least part of his mind is elsewhere, perhaps subconsciously absorbed in some of the complicated problems of Soviet diplomacy.
Quite unknown, probably, outside of Russia, but a formidable power in the Communist Party, is Jaroslavsky, secretary of the Party Control Committee. It is the business of this Committee to see that every Communist toes the line in observing Party ethics, and Jaroslavsky, as a result of his post, has sweeping disciplinary powers. To be summoned for an interview with Jaroslavsky is as ominous for the holder of a Communist Party card as for a college sophomore to be called up for a talk with the dean. Jaroslavsky is just the kind of man one would expect to find in such a responsible inquisitorial position. He is an old revolutionist, austere in his personal life, rooted in his convictions, and quite relentless in ferreting out offenses against Party discipline, whether these offenses take the form of extravagant living or of deviation from the straight line of orthodox Communist theory. Lenin himself is reported to have picked out Jaroslavsky for his post.
Authority is notably concentrated in Soviet Russia. The ten men I have just described hold in their hands the threads of leadership both of the Party and of the State apparatus. They control Russia’s economic development, together with its relations, political and commercial, with other countries. Their removal would leave a huge vacuum in the place of the existing Soviet régime. But along with these foremost leaders there are other outstanding personalities in Russia, men who are already occupying important posts or who may occupy them in the future.
There is Mikhail Kalinin, President of the Union Soviet Executive Committee, a figure very typical of the hundred million Russian peasants, somewhat bent and worn from toil, with clear blue eyes, stubbly yellowish beard, and wrinkled face. Kalinin, who is himself of peasant origin, spends much of his time traveling in the peasant districts; and the anteroom of his simply furnished office in Moscow is always crowded with peasants from all over the Union waiting to lay their grievances and problems before him. In the Soviet State machinery he serves in the very useful capacity of a link between the government, with its preponderance of city-bred officials, and the masses of peasantry.
There was a time when Karl Radek might have claimed a place in the topmost tier of the Soviet hierarchy. But to-day this brilliant revolutionary Austrian pamphleteer is out of favor, having been made the scapegoat for the failure of the German revolutionary movement last autumn. It is scarcely probable that Radck’s eclipse will be permanent; his mordant wit, facile pen, and vast store of political and historical knowledge are weapons with which the Communist International can ill afford to dispense.
As a member of the inner Party ruling group known as the Political Bureau, Tomsky is entitled to consideration in any enumeration of the Soviet leaders. A quiet and reserved man, his personality seems to afford little opportunity for extended comment. But he has held for some time the strategic post of President of the All-Russian Trades-Unions, and he has played an important part in the London Conference.
The Russian Revolution has been less dominated by military leaders than most similar upheavals; but among the Communists who rose to prominence through their army work may be mentioned Mikhail Vassilevich Frunze and the cavalry-general Budenny. Frunze is a veteran Bolshevik, who is said to have gained his first military experience by taking a pot shot at a Tsarist police chief. During the civil war he showed marked ability as a general on the southern front and became War Commissar for the Ukraine. He sided strongly with the Central Committee in the controversy last winter, and during Trotzky’s absence he was transferred from his post in the Ukraine and made first assistant in the War Commissariat, where he undertook a sweeping programme of reorganization. Budenny, a huge Ukrainian peasant with drooping black moustaches, makes a striking impression when he appears at a Soviet Congress or in a box at the State Opera House. Budenny was a sergeant-major in the Tsar’s cavalry. He came to the front in spectacular fashion during the civil war, when his hastily organized cavalry-corps broke through the ranks of the White General Denikin and harried the Polish army from Kiev almost to the gates of Warsaw.
Chicherin’s two chief diplomatic lieutenants are Litvinov for the West and Karakhan for the East. Litvinov, who seems to be a red rag to the British Tory press, has a reputation as a shrewd and hard bargainer and has represented Russia at many conferences since the end of the period of civil war and blockade. He was at one time expelled from England by Lloyd George on the charge of circulating Bolshevist propaganda; he must have experienced a certain feeling of satisfaction on returning to England recently as a prominent member of the Russian delegation. Karakhan, an Armenian, is a typical oriental figure, tall, stout, dark. He has been carrying on the somewhat tortuous negotiations between Russia and China and Japan and deserves a reputation as a diplomat, if only because of the formula which he devised in order to be able to press the claim of the Soviet Government to control of the Chinese Eastern Railroad without appearing to revive the imperialistic claims of the Tsarist régime. The railroad, according to Karakhan, belonged to 4 the toiling of Russia, ‘ and starting from this base he has finally been able apparently to reach a satisfactory agreement with the Chinese Government on the question.
Another outstanding Soviet diplomat is Christian Rakovsky, the cultured and charming Bulgarian physician and Socialist leader who is now the Russian representative in England. Rakovsky, like Radek, is a foreigner who completely identified himself with the Russian Communist Party. For some time he was Premier of the Ukraine, a post which he left to succeed Krassin as Russian representative in London.
It is natural that the arduous work of economic reconstruction should have claimed some of the strongest and most prominent figures in the revolutionary ranks. One man who seems likely to go far in the future is Pyatakov, head of the committee that passes on concessions to foreigners. Pyatakov has had an exceptionally varied and picturesque career. Coming of an aristocratic Ukrainian family he, with his brother, threw himself into the Bolshevist movement. His brother was killed under revolting conditions by the Whites. Pyatakov was first President of the State Bank after the November Revolution, but soon laid down this post for the more congenial work of leading a Red Guard invasion of the Ukraine. During the civil war he filled various important administrative positions, restoring order in the Donetz Basin at one time with an iron hand. One need only take one look at Pyatakov’s tense, set, fanatical countenance to be certain that no Teapot Dome concessions will be granted in Russia so long as he is at the head of the concessions committee.
Sokolnikov, Commissar for Finance, deserves much of the credit for giving Russia a stable currency in place of the uncounted trillions of worthless paper rubles that were circulating in 1921 and 1922. An old revolutionary theoretician, experience has taught him to be as ruthless as any capitalist banker in demanding that every state department cut its expenses to the bone in order to permit the balancing of the budget.
Tsurupa, an Ukrainian and a former agronome, Food Commissar during the years of greatest shortage, has the reputation of a capable administrator. He is head of the Gosplan, or State Planning Commission, a body which works out projects for the future development of Russia’s industry, agriculture, and general economic life. His chief assistant is the Polish engineer Krzhizhanovsky, author of the famous scheme for the electrification of Russia that serves as the theoretical basis for the Communist reconstruction programme.
The manipulation of the Communist Party machinery has developed several leaders who may be considered understudies to Stalin and Zinoviev. Among these are Molotov, a relative of the composer Scriabin, an excellent organizer, who does much of the practical detail work of appointing and transferring Party officials from one post to another, and Andreev, one of the several assistant Party secretaries, who has devoted a good deal of attention to the problems of trades-union and coöperative organization.
The old saying that a prophet is without honor in his own country has some application to Anatole Lunacharsky, Commissar for Education. Lunacharsky’s cultivated and attractive personality, his discriminating appreciation of music and the drama, his eloquent writings on educational subjects have won him many admirers among the foreigners who have visited Russia and spread his reputation as a great educator. But in Russia he is blamed, perhaps unjustly, for much of the poverty and disorder of the Russian educational system. Critical observers declare that things would go better if the Commissar for Education devoted less time to studying new forms of the ballet and delivering lectures on abstract philosophical subjects and more attention to improving the condition of the country teachers and schools.
Much of the difficult, thankless spade-work in the field of education is quietly and unostentatiously done by Lenin’s widow, Nadyezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya. In quiet unspectacular submergence of her personality in the cause Krupskaya is a classical figure among the Communist leaders. Clad in sandals and old unfashionable clothes, stout in form, her large face lined with the marks of physical pain, Krupskaya can often be found addressing obscure conferences of teachers and librarians, throwing all her strength into the arduous task of bringing a little order into the Russian educational system and a little light into the dark, backward peasant villages. Indeed, nothing could have been truly finer than her appeal shortly after Lenin’s death, when grief had added its strength to her persuasion.
‘Don’t waste money on pompous monuments which Lenin himself would have despised,’ she said in substance. ‘Let your sorrow for Lenin go into the building of a new life for our country. Let it find expression in the creation of schools and homes for orphaned children and hospitals for our war sufferers.’
It may be disputed whether Stalin or Zinoviev or Kamenev is Lenin’s oldest disciple; but there can be little doubt that Krupskaya represents the true embodiment of the selfless Communist spirit.