'We are the oldest government in Europe,' remarked Chicherin in 1923, during the residence of the present writer in Moscow. This droll comment of the Bolshevist Commissar for Foreign Affairs was historically correct then,—more so to-day,—if by government that astute diplomat understood a given cabinet or a sovnarkom exercising supreme power and performing the customary administrative functions. The parliamentary system which requires sporadically a vote of confidence in support of the dominant political party, failing which the cabinet is expected to resign, has indeed occasioned a bewildering succession of ministries upon the stage of European politics since November 7, 1917. The Moscow system, on the contrary, provides, antecedently, for the liquidation of any menacing opposition by the simple device of eliminating the opposers. Those who attempted serious political resistance found themselves either in the execution chamber of the Loubyanka or on their way to freezing exile in the convict camps on Solovetsky Island in the White Sea.
To be sure, during the decade just ended, there have been notable losses and substitutions in the higher ranks of the Soviet hierarchy. Sverdlov, Volodarsky, and Uritsky, all active leaders, were assassinated in the early days of the Revolution. Lenin, the flaming torch that fired the Russian masses and sought to fire the world, the creator of the Soviet state and founder of the Third International, died the thousand living deaths of a deranged paralytic before his actual demise in l924. Vorovsky, able propagandist and first Soviet representative to Italy, was murdered in Switzerland in 1923 and lies buried outside the Kremlin walls, close to the grave of John Reed. On the afternoon of Vorovsky's funeral the author of these articles wandered through Red Square and meditated on the significance of the strange fellowship that could so unite in common burial a Russian revolutionist and the brilliant but erratic Harvard graduate.