Moscow, March 1934. — Now that a new journalistic appointment is taking me away from Russia for many years, if not forever, I feel that I should try to set down how I feel about the country and the régime which I have seen at a very important stage of historical development. I have always had a cordial contempt for the ‘Me and Russia’ type of book or article. For an outsider to pay a fleeting visit to a country which has experienced such a tremendous upheaval and to see in it nothing but an annex to his own personality has always seemed to me to reveal a lack of sense of proportion that borders on impertinence. It is something like endeavoring to photograph oneself with Mont Blanc as a background.
At the same time no one with sensitiveness and imagination could live in the Soviet Union for more than a decade without feeling strong reactions of some kind to the dramatic events which have played themselves out on this huge stage. If the ‘ Me and Russia ’ type of reporter seems out of place, I am also unable to sympathize with the observer who looks on human beings, if they happen to be Russians, as anæsthetized guinea pigs or pawns on a chessboard, and sees in the ’liquidation’ or wiping out of great numbers of them nothing but a necessary if perhaps unpleasant phase of an ‘interesting experiment.‘
There are certain aspects of Russia, which have nothing to do either with Tsarism or with Bolshevism, that have for me the greatest charm and appeal. Certainly few peoples are more naturally gifted than the Russians in many fields of art and culture. A century ago Russian literature was only beginning to exist; but who among authors in other lands can exceed Turgenev in rich, mellow, all-embracing human sympathy, or Tolstoy in epic breadth of scope, or Dostoevski in fierce dramatic intensity and psychological depth, or Gogol in sharp and salty humor? Equally impressive have been Russia’s achievements in music, and in many branches of science. In the face of some particularly barbarous episode, past or present, I have sometimes been tempted to feel that the methods of Russia’s rulers place it among the backward Asiatic countries, but I always return to the thought that its thinkers, artists, and scientists have won it a high place in European culture.
I have come to regard the pre-war Russian educated class as the most charming of its kind in the world, perhaps because it was younger, fresher, warmer, and stronger in its appreciation of the cultural values which other countries are too much inclined to take for granted. Among the masses of the Soviet Union, among the workers and peasants and people of all occupations and of various races whom I have met in many trips through the country, there are qualities of hospitality, frankness, natural wit, friendliness to a foreign visitor, that leave the most pleasant impression. I enjoy some sides of Soviet life which are distasteful to many foreigners; I like the absence of a showy and gaudy night life in Moscow, and the sartorial freedom that is perhaps the only kind of liberty that does unquestionably exist in the Soviet Union.
When I first came to Moscow in 1922, my attitude toward the Soviet régime was more than friendly; it was enthusiastic. I sometimes look back with a shade of amusement to the rhetorical articles in praise of the Bolshevik Revolution which I published in radical newspapers and magazines at that time, animated, as I can see in retrospect, by little knowledge and much faith. And, if I am sometimes tempted to laugh at the outbursts of enthusiastic tourists, I must remember that in 1919 and 1920 my own attitude was very similar to theirs. How ready I was in those years to believe the most fantastic yarns of the well-disposed visitor returning from the Red Mecca of Moscow! And how I was inclined to denounce the mildest and most reasoned critic as a base traitor and defamer! Proceeding from the belief, which I still hold, that the World War was the supreme crime and folly of the century, I jumped to the conclusion, which I have long abandoned, that revolution on the Bolshevik model is the panacea for war and for all social injustice.
Not that I have completed the absolute psychological somersault which I have witnessed in some acquaintances who came to Russia avowed Communists and left the country expressing hopes for the complete overthrow of the Soviet régime. For some achievements of the Revolution I have the sincerest respect, especially for its spread of education among the masses, for its policy of absolute non-discrimination among the races and nationalities of the country, for its exaltation of labor, for its promotion of health and recreation. I always come away from a workers’ rest home or from a workers’ club, situated perhaps in a former slum district, with a conviction that a vast amount of useful social and educational work has been and is being done under the auspices of the ruling Communist Party.
Industrialization was a reasonable goal for a country with the population and natural resources of the Soviet Union; and the Soviet leaders have certainly displayed tireless drive and energy in creating a network of steel and chemical plants, tractor and machine-building factories, and electrical power stations. The industrial progress of the country during the last few years is striking, even though one should bear in mind the fact, overlooked by some admirers of the Soviets, that prewar Russia was developing its railroads and its industries very rapidly. I see no reason to doubt that the Soviet leaders and the majority of the Communist Party members believe sincerely in their cause and think they are working for the well-being of their country. I have repeatedly been impressed by the obvious devotion of the more idealistic of the Young Communists and of the veteran podpolshchiki, or former underground revolutionaries.
And yet, when one sums up all that can fairly be said about the constructive sides of the Soviet régime, there remains a formidable burden of facts on the other side. There is the permanent and odious system of terrorism and espionage. There is the decimation of the intelligentsia through secret arrests and banishments and most unconvincing ‘sabotage’ trials. There is the subjection of the peasantry to wholesale deportations and to a ‘military feudal exploitation that reached its terrible and inevitable climax in the great famine of 1932-1933 — all for the sake of imposing on the peasants an alien and unfamiliar system which certainly has yet to prove its productive advantages.
How can one reconcile such apparent contradictions: establishment of children’s nurseries and sending of some children, with their kulak parents, to Arctic wastes; setting up of technical research institutes and application of inquisitorial methods to scientists of world eminence? It is my personal belief that the Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet régime which grew out of it can only be understood as an example of historical tragedy of the deepest and truest type, a tragedy of cruelty, of the crushing out of innumerable individual lives, not from sheer wanton selfishness, but from perverted, fanatical idealism — always the surest source of absolute ruthlessness. And behind this tragedy lie several conceptions which are implicit in Communist philosophy; and the longer I have seen these in practice, the more I have come to regard them as sentimental fallacies.
The first, the oldest, and the most demonstrable fallacy is the conviction that the end justifies the means. I think the overwhelming weight of historical evidence is to the effect that the means determine the end, and that an idealistic goal, pursued by brutal methods, has a tendency to disappear from view. Such major atrocities as the liquidation of the kulaks as a class, the state-organized famine, and the persecution of the intelligentsia have harmful results that go far beyond their immediate victims. They brutalize the society that is taught or forced to look on them with indifference or even with applause. More terrible than the commission of these atrocities was the fact that no voice could be publicly raised against them in the Soviet Union. A distinguished historical novelist of the last century, Aleksei Tolstoy, in his introduction to his novel of the times of Ivan the Terrible, Prince Serébrany, writes: —
‘I throw down my pen in indignation, not so much at the thought that Ivan the Terrible could exist, as at the thought that a society could exist which would look on him without indignation.’
I think there could be some very pointed modern applications of this statement.
A second sentimental fallacy of Communism is its virtual ignoring of the grave problems involved when the few men who must inevitably guide the whole political and economic life of the country, under the system of the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat, are granted enormous power with no kind of effective check or control. Lenin was so obsessed with the idea that ‘capitalism,’ the private ownership of the means of production, was the root of all human ills that he never seems to have foreseen the abuses, equally serious, if of a different kind, which might emerge when all power, political and economic, would be in the hands of a dictatorial state.
I have talked with few if any peasants in the Soviet Union who do not consider the Soviet state a harder taskmaster than the Tsarist landlord. Russia’s whole experience, especially during the Iron Age, certainly indicates most vividly that the possibility of exploitation is not eliminated when factories and mines, banks and railroads, are transferred from private to public ownership. A dictatorial state may exploit — more than that, has exploited — workers and peasants alike, not for the sake of private enrichment, but as a result of blundering mismanagement, of grandiose ambitions for quick industrial and military expansion. Incidentally, I think it is decidedly improbable that the Soviet state, after arrogating to itself the most absolute power over the lives of its citizens, will some day obediently fulfill Lenin’s formula and ‘wither away.’ Lenin could doubtless imagine an abstract conception, ‘the state,’withering away. It is very difficult, after seeing the atmosphere of special privilege with which high Party, Soviet, and Gay-Pay-Oo officials are surrounded, to imagine this new ruling class, or caste, voluntarily merging itself with the mass of Soviet citizens and ‘withering away’ in any future, however distant.
The materialistic conception of history is a Communist dogma with which I am in vigorous disagreement. This effort to explain all human activity in terms of the play of economic forces seems narrow, inadequate, and unconvincing. It becomes positively ridiculous when there is an effort to explain a jolly overture by Glinka as ‘Russian trade capitalism expanding’ or a melancholy song by Tchaikovsky as ‘Russian landed aristocracy in decay.’ More serious than these amateurish experiments in artistic misinterpretation is the tendency to regard the individual merely as a member of this or that class. This impersonal approach is an easy road to pitiless hardness.
Then the practice of ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ in the Soviet Union has in it a large element of inverted snobbishness. Reasonable people would generally agree that labor with hand or brain gives one a title to respect. But I am quite unable to comprehend why work in a factory is intrinsically more ennobling than work in an office, or on a farm, or in a research laboratory. By its avowed and systematic discrimination against ‘nonproletarians ‘ — that is, against nonfactory laborers — in educational opportunity and in promotion in the state service, the Soviet Union is handicapping itself just as much as any state which resorted to some of the more familiar forms of class or race discrimination.
One among many points of faith common to apologists of Communism and of Fascism is an overweening contempt for civil liberties, which are represented as unnecessary and inconvenient barnacles on the ship of progress. The longer I have lived in the Soviet Union, where civil liberties — freedom of speech, press, assembly, and election — are most conspicuously lacking, the more I have become convinced that they are of vital and tremendous importance, and that their existence or absence is as good a test as any of the quality of a nation’s civilization. The Communist (or the Fascist — their trend of thought in this question is strikingly similar) talks of civil liberties as of the outworn fetish of a handful of disgruntled intellectuals who are unable to rise to the necessary vision of the high and noble character and purpose of the Communist (or Fascist) state. But my own observation in Russia has led me to believe that a great deal more is at stake than the freedom of thought of the educated classes, although it seems rather obvious that culture becomes impoverished when the historian must alter his record of the past, the author must give a prescribed coloring to his characters, and free research in any field can be cut off, at the will of an allpowerful state.
It was during my trip through the famine regions of Ukraina and the North Caucasus that I became utterly and definitely convinced that democracy, with all its faults, weaknesses, and imperfections, is enormously superior to dictatorship as a method of government, simply from the point of view of the common man. Is there any recorded case in history where famine — not poverty or hardship or destitution, but stark famine, with a toll of millions of lives — has occurred in a democratically governed country? Is it conceivable that the famine of 1932-1933 could have taken place if civil liberties had prevailed in the Soviet Union, if newspapers had been free to report the facts, if speakers could have appealed for relief, if the government in power had been obliged to submit its policy of letting vast numbers of the peasants starve to death to the verdict of a free election? The countless graves of the humble and obscure famine victims, the peasants of Ukiaina and the North Caucasus, of the Volga and Central Asia, are to me the final grim, unanswerable refutation of the specious Communist contention that freedom of speech and press and political agitation is only humbug by which the bourgeoisie tries to delude the masses.
If I have one wish for the future of a country where I spent many of the best years of my life and for whose people I feel only the warmest friendship, even though I disagree so strongly with many of its present-day political, economic, and philosophical beliefs, it is that somehow a little leaven of doubt and skepticism may filter into the pure yeast of Communist dogma. It is not a matter of discarding methods that prove ineffective; any ruling group with elementary capacity for governing will do this. It is a question of coming to believe that there might be a one-per-cent chance that the fundamental dogmas of Marxism and Leninism are wrong, or at least that they represent, not infallible truth, but a working hypothesis, to be verified by trial and error.
I believe that the progress of civilization in Russia will go hand in hand with the progress of skepticism. When the Communists are no longer so selfrighteously certain that they are leading the country to a future millennium, they will perhaps not be so ready to impose on it some of the characteristics of a present-day purgatory.
Barring war, the stability and the continuity of the Soviet régime seem quite assured. The very magnitude of the hardships and sufferings which it has imposed on the population in the name of industrialization and collectivization is, in a sense, a testimonial of its strength, of the invincibility of its highly developed technique of government by means of a combination of propaganda and repression against any forces of internal discontent. War is the unknown factor which may confound all predictions about the future of the Soviet Union, or, indeed, of almost any other country. The Bolshevik Revolution was a child of the World War. Although there were many elements of weakness and decay in the Tsarist system, the Russian Revolution would probably have taken a very different course if the war had been averted or indefinitely postponed. In such a case the propertied peasantry which was emerging as a result of Stolypin’s agrarian legislation would have had a far stronger voice in shaping the course of events. Successful war is the sole means by which Communist revolutions are likely to be promoted in other countries. Unsuccessful war is the only conceivable means by which the Soviet edifice might be suddenly and violently overthrown.
Assuming that the Soviet Government does not become involved in war, what should I expect to find if I should revisit Moscow in 1940? There would probably be some improvement in material well-being, although the majority of the people would still be overcrowded and underfed. Perhaps by that time meat and milk and butter and fruit would be as easy to get as they were in 1925 or 1926. Moscow’s subway would presumably be in operation, with a consequent relief for the hopelessly overburdened street cars. Its first period would perhaps be marked by a few collisions and other accidents, which would not be mentioned in the newspapers, while their casualties would be much exaggerated in popular rumor. The Gay-Pay-Oo would have ceased to exist — under that particular name. Its functions of spying, arresting, and deporting undesirable Soviet citizens would be carried on by an organization with a more innocent title, which would include all the veteran officials of the Cheka and the Gay-Pay-Oo, but which might, in deference to outside opinion, have given up the practice of shooting people without any kind of public trial.
Going into the country districts, I should hope and expect to find no more evidences of recent famine and no acute food shortage, except perhaps in years of severe drought. On the other hand, I should be very agreeably and very much surprised if I should find the majority of the collective-farm members enjoying a standard of living which a West European or even a Baltic or Balkan peasant would regard as well-to-do. The individual collective farms would probably have gained more autonomy; the dictatorial control over the farms now exercised by the machine-tractor stations would have proved in practice unwieldy and uneconomic.
By 1940, rationing would probably have disappeared or have considerably diminished in scope; one result of this would be that the Soviet ruble would have assumed more of the normal functions of a genuine unit of currency. Real wages in the Workers’ Republic would still be extremely low, and discreet inquiry in the proper quarters would probably reveal that possessors of foreign currency could obtain a very different rate of exchange from that quoted in the State Bank.
The shops would have assumed a more Western appearance; more automobiles and buses would be coursing about the streets; the traffic policeman would perhaps be the most overworked man in the Soviet capital. There would be a brand-new crop of anecdotes, mostly centring around the subway, the real or alleged architectural defects of the Palace of Soviets, and the accidents of the infant Soviet automobile industry. There would still be some dutiful talk about the Soviet proletariat as the vanguard of the World Revolution, but that happy event would have visibly receded, in popular expectation, to a vaguer and vaguer future.
A certain type of American or English business man would be holding forth in the bar of the Metropole Hotel on what a wonderful market Russia would be if the governments at home could only see the light and advance considerable sums of the taxpayers’ money in order to enable the Russians to purchase more of the goods which the business man was interested in selling. A hard-bitten engineer, just returned from a copper smelter in the Altai Mountains, would inject the 1940 equivalent for ‘Oh yeah?‘ — accompanied by a profane and vivid description of what was wrong with the copper smelter. Enthusiastic tourists would be packing up to return to New York or London, all ready to lecture on how Russia, in all Europe, was the sole country with Hope and a Plan.
The three long-term trends in Soviet life which seem to me most significant at the present time are greater stabilization, growing nationalism, and increasing material inequality. A dominant feature of Soviet life since 1928 has been the crisis of agrarian production, which at its height reduced the town population to a very meagre food supply and caused famine in many country districts. There was a turn for the better in 1933, and, while unfavorable climatic conditions may further delay a process of agricultural reconstruction which is bound to be slow and difficult in any case, the probabilities are that the extreme low point of the agrarian crisis has been passed.
The peasants have more or less reluctantly resigned themselves to the collective-farming system which has been forced on them so ruthlessly. The Soviet Government, on its side, seems to have given up the idea of pressing the peasants into full-blooded communes and is lavish with its promises of more manufactured goods. The struggle between the government and the peasantry, which reached its most ferocious form of expression in the famine of 1932-1933, is not over. It cannot be over until the peasant obtains more freedom in determining the conditions of his labor, more voice in disposing of his products, a fairer share in the national income. But it will probably go on now in milder forms, which will not be so destructive to agricultural productivity.
With an easing of the agrarian crisis has come an abatement in the persecution of the intelligentsia, although the position of the Soviet engineer is still far from normally secure against arbitrary arrest.1 The thoroughgoing reform of teaching methods in the schools, the restoration of history and geography to places of honor in the curriculum, the increased emphasis on the value of the literary classics, the tendency to curb the sillier excesses of ‘Marxism in Geology’ and ‘Leninism in Medicine,’ the appearance of more goods, even at high prices, the new toleration of dancing — all these varied manifestations point to some relaxation of the more extreme rigors of the first years of the Iron Age, to an era of greater stability, of less violent change. In the same direction is the present tendency to shape plans more realistically, to curtail extravagant and impracticable projects, to shift the emphasis from quantity of output in industry or of acreage in farming to quality of production and of tilling.
The more pronounced nationalism of the Soviet Union finds its clearest expression in the much more active foreign policy which the Soviet Government is pursuing. The time is gone when the Soviet Union maintained the attitude of standing alone on a Mount Sinai of revolutionary virtue, selfrighteously refusing to take part in the intrigues and combinations of wicked capitalist powers. Litvinov at Geneva, in May and June, 1934, acted precisely as a Tsarist Foreign Minister might have done, endeavoring to strengthen the bonds of alliance with France on the basis of common antagonism to a resurgent Germany. The Soviet press, instead of keeping up the old Bolshevik tradition of pouring out vials of wrath and contempt impartially on all ‘capitalists and imperialists,’ takes sides passionately with France and denounces Germany and England — very much in the style of the controlled press of any other nationally-minded dictatorship.
This plunge into active international politics is almost certain to handicap further, if not to paralyze completely, the activity of the Communist International. The Soviet Government cannot very well propose pacts of mutual aid to France and at the same time permit an organization on its territory to encourage French soldiers to mutiny and French workers and peasants to rise in revolt.
As a Great Power, the Soviet Union has ‘arrived’; American recognition and the increasingly close working understanding with France, the strongest European military country, are the best proofs of this. But it has not ‘arrived’ in a revolutionary sense, in the sense of which Lenin dreamed when he wrote: —
The victory of socialism is possible in the beginning in one capitalist country. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and organized socialist production in its own country, would rise against the remaining capitalist world, attracting to itself the oppressed classes of other countries, arousing them to uprising against the capitalists, coming out, if necessary, even with armed force against the exploiting classes and their states.
This nationalism is visible also in the internal life of the country. A decade ago excessive devotion to his own country was regarded as bad form in a Communist, as savoring of indifference to the international revolution. A Communist woman said to me at that time half apologetically: ‘I love Russia more than a good Communist should.’ Now Soviet patriotism is trumpeted in all the newspapers; such phrases as ‘our beloved socialist fatherland’ and ‘our great country’ are very familiar. And Pravda, official organ of the Communist Party, recently indulged in a sentimental outburst that might well have appeared in an Italian Fascist or German National Socialist newspaper : —
Our children now suck in love of fatherland with their mothers’ milk. . . . The people of Russia now love the soil on which they were born, where they spent their childhood and youth, and which holds their future; the sky under which they grow and develop; the sound of her winds, her proud mountain heights, her shady forests and swelling rivers; the seas and oceans washing her shores; her songs and her language.
This Soviet patriotism, it should be noted, is not associated with Russian chauvinism; it still remains one of the most admirable characteristics of the Soviet reégime that no discrimination between the nationalities inhabiting the Soviet Union is tolerated, and that no one — provided, of course, that he is an orthodox Communist — is debarred from rising to any post in the state service because of his nationality or the color of his skin.
Of course the conviction of an international Messianic mission for the Russian Revolution will die slowly; there would doubtless be an effort to utilize Communist propaganda, along with airplanes and poison gas, against any country with which the Soviet Union became involved in hostilities. There is an effort now to give an international twist to every piece of domestic construction; to represent a new locomotive as a ‘reply to the Pope’ and a new steel plant as a blow at the world bourgeoisie. But the Soviet leaders have perhaps already realized in their hearts, and the masses will some day realize, that new building in the Soviet Union will no more convert other peoples to Bolshevism than Mussolini will win converts in other countries to Fascism by draining Italian marshes or Hitler to National Socialism by creating new roads.
A permanent growth of material inequality would seem to be the inevitable result of the strident propaganda for unequal wages, for higher compensation for persons in more responsible posts. Russia’s experience in the long run will probably show that approximate material equality can exist only in a very primitive community or in an extremely poor country. Every step forward from the bleak deprivations of the first part of the Iron Age will mean less equality. The high state official, the ‘Red director’ of an important factory, will get the individual automobile — in time, perhaps, the private house — which the skilled worker cannot have; and the skilled worker will get the radio set, the camera, that his unskilled fellow cannot afford to buy. One of the probable future paradoxes of Russia will be that, just about the time when classes have been officially abolished, new classes, based not on wealth or birth but on power, on status in the huge hierarchy of state officialdom, and distinguished by very different standards of living, will become much more visible.
The Soviet Union is becoming much more involved in world politics. There is little reason to believe, however, that it will become more tied up with the world economic system. All the signs point to the development in Russia of a self-contained economy, which will grow up out of its own resources and by its own efforts, with slight benefit of foreign capital. This will make Russia’s industrialization more painful for the population than would otherwise be necessary. But at a time when defaults, moratoria, and frozen credits are the order of the day in capitalist countries, it does not seem probable that there will be any rush of adventurous capital into the Soviet Union.
The Soviet régime has been contradictorily interpreted to the outside world as a menace, a challenge, an inspiration, and a laughingstock. I should not subscribe unconditionally to any one of these sweeping interpretations, although, like all big historical movements, the Bolshevik Revolution has its separate aspects of horror, of heroism, and of absurdity. The Soviet system may be considered the most dramatic and most spectacular effort to solve, along new lines, what seems likely to be the major social problem of the twentieth century: to ensure economic security for the masses while preserving a reasonable measure of liberty for the individual.
That the Bolshevik method of solving this problem by completely destroying individual ownership of property, and placing the whole responsibility for the economic as well as for the political administration of the country in the hands of an absolutist state, will be imitated in other countries seems highly unlikely. I remember quite vividly the moment when I definitely came to feel that Bolshevism would never conquer Western Europe or America. It was in the autumn of 1930, when I was spending a vacation in the Austrian Tyrol.
A procession with bands and music was passing through the streets of the little mountain village. The marchers were mostly local peasants in holiday costume, with green coats and feathers stuck in their hats, and every man had a rifle slung over his back. As it happens, I had made a trip through some collective farms in the Lower Volga just before leaving Russia; and as I watched the Tyrolean peasants, who looked like worthy descendants of ancestors who put up such a magnificent fight against Napoleon, march swinging past I thought of a very different scene which I had recently witnessed in a Lower Volga village. A local Communist official there had been telling the peasants how much grain they had to give up, what quotas of milk and meat would be taken away from them, what they had to plant and how they had to work in the collective farm. The peasants grumbled, sometimes cried out in protest at the amount of the requisitions; but one felt that with their serf tradition, and with the stern lesson of the liquidation of the kulaks before their eyes, they would submit. But a Communist grain collector, even if he had brought a regiment of Gay-Pay-Oo troops with him, would have had a hard time in that Tyrolean village. One felt that Austrian peasants would have turned their mountain valley into a cemetery before they would have submitted. And I certainly doubt whether forcible collectivization would have better chances of success with the farmers of Kansas and Nebraska, or with the French peasants whose Revolution, in contradistinction to the Russian, really did give them the land.
And the landowning peasantry and farmers represent only one of many stumblingblocks Russian Bolshevism would encounter in other countries. So what seems most probable is that the Soviet régime is destined neither to serve as an ultimate model for the rest of the world, as its admirers believe, nor to go down in violent ruin and destruction, as its enemies hope. Barring the ever-unpredictable contingencies of large-scale war, the system will eventually stand in its main features, subject of course, like other systems, to evolutionary modification and change. It will be the Russian solution of a problem which has already been solved in different fashion in Germany and in Italy, and which will doubtless in time find further solutions, varying with national temperament and economic circumstances, in America, England, France, and other countries. The failure of the pre-war economic system to regain its old balance, to function in the traditional automatic fashion, seems to mark out for every country a greater measure of state control and state regulation of its economic life. But how this control and regulation will work out in practice will probably vary from country to country as greatly as Russian historical development, for instance, varies from British, or German from American. That the Russian solution should at once have proclaimed the most glowing and ambitious ideals and should have taken the greatest toll of human lives and human suffering is certainly in full harmony with certain traits of Russian temperament (extremism, lack of the instinct for relativity and moderation, contempt for the individual personality) and with that Russian past which so often casts its long shadow over the Soviet present.
- In the spring of 1934 it was found that in many mines around the new coal town of Prokopievsk, in Siberia, half the engineers and technicians had been subjected to prison sentences, often for trivial or imaginary neglect of duty, and were working in the status of convicts. &emdash; AUTHOR↩