Behind Soviet Power

Jerome Davis
BY experience, Dr. Jerome Davis is well equipped to see Russia in historiral perspective. Before the United States entered World War I, he served as Y.M.C.A. secretary in charge of prisoners of war in Turkestan, and subsequently became director of all Y.M.C.A. activities in Russia. Ho visited the Soviet Union on a number of occasions during the iuter-war years, and on his last visit, in 1945, spent more than a year traveling all over the country, including the areas devastated by the Germans.
His small book, a third of which is devoted to giving a picture of Stalin, whom he interviewed on two occasions, cannot be said to add very much to the already available knowledge of Russia. What is of interest is not so much the subject matter, but the spirit in which the book is written. Dr. Davis expresses warm sympathy for the achievements of the Russian people during the grim quarter of a century devoted to “building socialism in one country.” He is not altogether uncritical, but critics of Russia will consider some of his statements unduly mild; for example when, in speaking of the purges, ho writes; “Fanaticism, hysteria, and bureaucracy inevitably caused some injustice — but the guilty were tried.”
In answering some of the questions most frequently asked about Russia, he is refreshingly forthright. The Soviet Union, he says, will exercise great influence in neighboring countries “regardless of whether or not the Soviets follow a ‘hands off’ policy.” because certain Soviet ideas have “undeniable attraction” for the peoples of these countries. He declares, after talking with Stalin, th;t.1 Stalin “docs not consider it wise, or even possible, to impose Communism on any country,” and does not wish to have Communist regimes “set up in the occupied areas now.” At the same time, Dr. Davis believes that in the occupied countries freedom of speech, of assembly, and of the press “will more resemble the Russian pattern than that of the West.” He is convinced that a war against Russia would be suicidal, and that “America cannot afford to support a British anti-Russian program designed to protect British power and wealth.” Russia, he adds, is afflicted with certain “infantile diseases,” to use Lenin’s phrase, but our cooperation “can help the Russians to broaden themselves.”
To those among us who assert that Russia is aggressive, Dr. Davis answers: “The only desire of the Russian people is to rebuild their shattered territory, develop their natural resources and be happy and prosperous on higher standard of living. They do not want to dominate the world but they do want equal rights in the world community. . . . In her treatment of minority nationalities Russia has much to teach the rest of the world.