Stalin's Russia

By Max Eastman
AFTER the Confederacy’s collapse, a prominent citizen of Richmond met Artemus Ward and said, ‘Why, we’ve bin fitin agin the Old Flag! Lor bless me, how sing’lar!’ Mr. Eastman, contemplating the upshot of State collectivism in Russia, puts one in mind of this incident. In his discovery that State collectivism ends in despotism; that ‘ideology’ means applesauce; that the Marxian formulæ are mostly dream-stuff; that the totalitarian State is ‘merely the modern name for tyranny’ — in these and other like discoveries Mr. Eastman is as naïve as the man from Richmond. Naïve, because a whole array of writers made all this a matter of open and notorious knowledge long enough before Mr. Eastman was born. Mr. Jefferson saw clearly what collectivism would come to. De Tocqueville did, Max Hirsch did, Henry George did, and so did many others. In a letter to Grant Allen in 1898, Herbert Spencer wrote, ‘I said just as you say, that we are in course of rebarbarization, and that there is no prospect but that of military despotisms, which we are rapidly approaching.’ Mr. Eastman has made a superb return upon himself, and therein lies the merit of his book; but as for any practical effect on the course of State collectivism in this country, he has come down to the station about ten years too late for the train. His surviving notion of a sort of denatured non-alcoholic State collectivism is futile, as he will see if he simply applies to it the fundamental question which he himself has raised concerning the intellectual and moral capacities of average mankind.