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off such oppression, trample it indignantly under his feet; I blame him not, I pity and commend him. But oppression by your Mock-Superiors well shaken off, the grand problem yet remains to solve: That of finding government by your Real-Superiors.
Tories had about given up the search for a people who had escaped the democracy epidemic enough to appreciate this Carlylian exhortation. Will docile Monaco renew their hope?
But maybe there is little comfort to be drawn from the affair, after all. In Monaco the workers are in the minority. Sixty-five per cent. of the people are tradespeople and business men. There is no poverty in the principality. Economically prosperous, the folk of Monaco go joyously to their work in a land where even the climate does not abrade one's nerves. Peace and prosperity breed social contentment in this exceptional spot. Perhaps the only deduction to be drawn from the case is that satisfactory conditions are the only recipe for satisfied peoples. Not a comforting deduction for those who worship the great god Status Quo.
A RADICAL LOOKS AT HIS WORLD ROM time to time there come to our shelves books on "An Englishman Looks at His World" from Mr. Wells, on “An Irishman Looks at His World" from Mr. Birmingham, and other variations of this contagious title. Recently Mr. Bertrand Russell contributed to "The Nation" of New York a brilliant serial comment on the theory and practice of the soviet government in Russia. This series might well have been called "A Radical Looks at His World." The series has been reprinted widely in daily newspapers ranging from liberal to reactionary in character. The significance of the series lies half in the acuteness of the observations recorded and half in the radical reputation of the observer, Mr. Russell. When a communist grows critical of Bolshevism in action, we feel instinctively that the criticism is likely to represent a more honest analysis than the numerous diatribes against Bolshevism daily penned by congenital Bourbons.
Mr. Russell is one of the few philosophical students of contemporary life who really covets truth, a very distinguished passion. It is next to impossible to get at the truth of affairs to-day, particularly the truth about Russia. The average "interpreter" seems the retained attorney for a point of view. Of most writers on Russia it may be said, as George Santayana said of philosophers:
Every philosopher says he is pursuing the truth, but this is seldom the case . . . professional philosophers are usually only apologists; that is, they are absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea. Like lawyers or detectives, they study the case for which they are retained, to see how much evidence or semblance of evidence they can gather for the defence, and how much prejudice they can raise against the witnesses for the prosecution. . . . They do not covet truth, but victory.
Mr. Russell is an exception to this statement. A radical whose radicalism brought him to prison, Mr. Russell does not hesitate to record the bankruptcy of a radical experiment. He has honestly attempted to cut through the mist, myth, and melodrama that have enveloped the Bolshevist adventure from the beginning.
"It is essential to a happy issue," he says, "that melodrama shall no longer determine our views of the Bolsheviki; they are neither angels to be worshipped nor devils to be exterminated, but merely bold and able men attempting, with great skill, what is an almost impossible task." Again after describing Lenine as a man who loves liberty less than he loves his thesis, as a man who has as slender love for liberty as the Christians who suffered under Diocletian and retaliated when power fell to their hands, Mr. Russell says, "I went to Russia believing myself a Communist; but contact with those who have no doubts has intensified a thousandfold my own doubts, not only of communism, but of every creed so firmly held that for its sake men are willing to inflict widespread misery." And again, he says, "My objection is not that capitalism is less bad than the Bolsheviki believe, but that socialism is less good, at any rate in the form which can be brought about by war."
These key sentences suggest the spirit of Mr. Russell's critique. It is not the purpose of this editorial to summarize these papers, which can, to greater profit, be read in full from the files of "The Nation," but certain of their comments, particularly since they are from a radical's pen, cry aloud for tabulation.
First of all, the present Government of Russia is not a dictatorship of the proletariate in the strict sense of that term; it is a dictatorship by a minority group holding certain theories about the proletariate. Mr. Russell suggests the great difference between the theories of the actual Bolsheviki in Russia and the theories of the Bolsheviki's friends in England and in the United States. It is commonly assumed by many radicals with Bolshevist leanings that the word "proletariate" in the phrase "dictatorship of the proletariate" means the whole proletarian mass, but that the word "dictatorship" does not quite mean dictatorship; that the phrase is simply a way of saying that in Russia a new form of representative government has been instituted a form that gives the vote only to the workers and makes the basis of representation occupational rather than geographical, a theory that was rather fully discussed in these columns last month in the editorial entitled "Should Senators be Phonographs?" On the contrary, according to Mr. Russell, when the Bolsheviki say "dictatorship" they mean actual dictatorshipcomplete, sustained, and, if necessary, ruthless dictatorship; but when they say "proletariate" they do not mean the whole proletarian mass, but the classconscious part of the proletariate only; that is to say, the Communist party, which represents some 600,000 in a population of about 120,000,000. They include under the name of "proletariate" men like Lenine and Chicherin, who are anything but proletarian, and exclude, as lackeys of the bourgeoisie, all wageearners who do not subscribe to the Bolshevist creed. It is the age-old practice of considering orthodoxy as mydoxy and heterodoxy as your-doxy. Given this attitude, the bars are down for all the intolerance, suppression, and censorship that marked the old czarist régime.
Springing from this fact, is Mr. Russell's conclusion that "Bolshevism is internally aristocratic." He says:
The Communists have all the good and bad traits of an aristocracy which is young and vital. They are courageous, energetic, capable of command, always ready to serve the state; on the other hand they are dictatorial, lacking in ordinary consideration for the plebs, such as their servants, whom they overwork, or the people in the streets, whose lives they endanger by extraordinarily reckless motoring. They are practically the sole possessors of power, and they enjoy innumerable advantages in consequence. Most of them, though far from luxurious, have better food than other people. Only people of some political importance can obtain motor-cars or telephones. Permits for railway journeys, for making purchases at the Soviet stores (where prices are about onefiftieth of what they are in the market), for going to the theater, and so on, are of course easier to obtain for the friends of those in power than for ordinary mortals. In a thousand ways the Communists have a life which is happier than that of the rest of the community.
This is not the ordinary Bourbon's charge that Lenine wears silk shirts and is therefore insincere; it is the careful observation of an honest radical, who is probably depressed rather than elated when he finds a fly in the ointment of radical undertakings.
Mr. Russell went to Russia hoping to study the soviet elective system all the way from the village meeting to the AllRussian Soviet, by which the people's commissaries are in theory supposed to derive their powers. Having heard much of Russia's experiment in occupational representation, he wanted to see whether in actual operation it was superior to parliamentarism. After his Russian visit, he said:
We were not able to make any such study because the Soviet system is moribund. No conceivable system of free election would give majorities to the Communists, in either town or country. Various methods are therefore adopted for giving the victory to government candidates. In the first place, the voting is by show of hands, so that all who vote against the government are marked men. In
the second place, no candidate who is not a Communist can have any printing done, the printing works being all in the hands of the state. In the third place, he cannot address any meetings, because the halls all belong to the state. The whole of the press is, of course, official; no independent daily is permitted . . . effective protest is impossible, owing to the absolutely complete suppression of free speech and free press.
Another interesting suggestion arising from Mr. Russell's papers is that in the next few years Bolshevist propaganda in countries like England and the United States may be directed not toward actual revolution by force, but toward the success of labor parties and normal political action in general. This will not mean that the Bolsheviki have changed their belief; it will mean simply that they think the workers in England and the United States are not yet sufficiently convinced of the futility of political action, and that a few rounds of office-holding will show them the folly of it all and swing them bag and baggage into the Bolshevist camp. Lenine said virtually this to Mr. Russell, who reports the conversation as follows:
He (Lenine) admitted that there is little chance of revolution in England now, and that the working man is not yet disgusted with parliamentary government. But he hopes that this result may be brought about by a labor ministry. He thinks that if Mr. Henderson, for instance, were to become Prime Minister, nothing of importance would be done; organized labor would then, so he hopes and believes, turn to revolution. On this ground he wishes his supporters in this country (England) to do everything in their power to secure a labor majority in Parliament; he does not advocate abstention from parliamentary contests, but participation with a view to making Parliament obviously contemptible.
Such a policy might result in the world's coming to believe that worldwide Bolshevist propaganda was dying out at the very moment when it was most determined.
Several interesting paradoxes are pointed out by Mr. Russell. Among them, these: the present Government of Russia represents the interests of the
urban and industrial population in a land predominantly peasant and agricultural; the relation between the urban and industrial governing minority and the peasant governed majority is a diplomatic and military relation rather than a normal governmental and coöperative relation. Bolshevism in its adventure in internationalism is awakening the very spirit of nationalism that it derides. It may be that Lenine is no more concerned with the interests of Russia than with the interests of any other country, that Russia concerns Lenine only as a social laboratory and as a starting-point for world revolution; it may be that Lenine would sacrifice Russia rather than the revolution, but pride in the revolution is instinctively producing national pride among the Communists, and all such adventures as the Polish war will bring national coherence and national spirit.
Again, Mr. Russell draws a striking parallel between Lenine and Cromwell. His statement drives at the spiritual heart of the situation. He says:
In a very novel society, it is natural to seek for historical parallels. The baser side of the present Russian Government is most nearly paralleled by the Directory in France, but on its better side it is closely analogous to the rule of Cromwell. The sincere Communists . . . are not unlike the Puritan soldiers in their stern politico-moral purpose. Cromwell's dealings with Parliament are not unlike Lenine's with the Constituent Assembly. Both, starting from a combination of democracy and religious faith, were driven to sacrifice democracy to religion enforced by military dictatorship. Both tried to compel their countries to live at a higher level of morality and effort than the population found tolerable. Life in modern Russia, as in Puritan England, is in many ways contrary to instinct. And if the Bolsheviki ultimately fall, it will be for the reason for which the Puritans fell-because there comes a point at which men feel that amusement and ease are worth more than all other goods put together.
In Russia power is concentrated in a few hands. The wine of power has always made men drunk. The Bolsheviki will not be exceptions. In war and revolution, concentration of power is
inevitable. A capitalistic group, in similar unsettlement, would have done what Lenine has done. The point is that aristocracy and autocracy, in the sense of exclusive control, carry the seeds of their own destruction, however worthy their original intentions may have been.
FRENCH IDEAS ON THE PRESIDENCY
RENCH political circles have been animated of late by a debate on the danger to the republic of a presidency with too little. power. American political circles, at the same time, have been stirred by a debate on the danger to the republic of a presidency with too great power. At the moment it seems that the verdict in France may go in favor of a strengthened presidency, while the verdict in America goes in favor of a weakened presidency. In both cases the debate has been precipitated by a sick president.
The story that forms the background for the American debate is too well known to justify more than passing mention. The early ideal of American government was a system of "checks and balances" that would perpetually prevent too great centralization of authority in any branch of the Government. Gradually the "checks" have been removed from the Presidency, and the "balances" have been tipped in its favor. The position of the President in American affairs has been an increasingly important position. Mr. Roosevelt's "executive usurpations" started the old debate afresh. Mr. Wilson's conception of extreme personal responsibility as party leader and President added fuel to the fires of discussion. Then came the war, with an unprecedented concentration of authority in the hands of the President. During the war the President became, in effect, the elected czar of American affairs, domestic and international. Since the ending of the war, these extraordinary war powers have clung with strange tenacity to the Presidency. Hence the growing insistence that American Government should be more a "stock company" and less a "star performance."
When Mr. Wilson broke under his
Enter the sick man! M. Paul Deschanel succeeded M. Poincaré as President of the French Republic. M. Deschanel appealed to the French fancy-picturesque and precise, his clothes and his conversation were the talk of Paris dinner-tables, a man of wide, if superficial, scholarship, a gentleman of courtly speech and bearing, who symbolizes something of the spirit of the time of Louis XIV. It may be hardly fair to call him the J. Ham Lewis of France. He assumed the presidency in the midst of a world-wide discussion of his dress and manners. And, as Vicente Blasco Ibañez recently phrased it, his "first noteworthy public act" after becoming president was to "fall from a train at night-time while he was sleeping in the Presidential coach." Since then he has been a sick man. His few attempts at public speech have betrayed a telltale incoherence. He is living in isolated retirement in a lonely mansion, the historic palace of Rambouillet; and thus a second great republic is headed by an "illustrious invalid."
In view of the disability of President Deschanel and the fact that there is no provision for a vice-president in the French constitution, Premier Millerand is to-day more nearly a dictator than was
Premier Clemenceau during the war. The French political world is, in consequence, stirred by a discussion that may result in a revision of the French constitution to the end of giving greater power to the president and making other changes in the organic law of France. A despatch to "The Sun" of New York summarizes the proposed changes that figure most in the current discussion, namely:
(1) A constitutional provision for a vice-president, who would be the president of the Senate, as in the United States.
(2) A provision giving the president the right actually to choose his advisers instead of this right being assumed, as it is now, by the president of the council, who in turn, while theoretically named by the president, actually is designated by the heads of the two chambers.
(3) A provision giving the president the right to name many of the functionaries who are now appointed by parliament, a system which has tended to excessive parliamentary government, from which, according to the complaint, France now suffers.
(4) A provision according to the departments of France a greater degree of autonomy along the lines of state government in the United States.
There is no desire, it is said, to discard the French system of a "responsible ministry" for the American system of a "permanent cabinet," but rather to effect a compromise that would fall about half-way between the two.
In the great political adventure of democracy there has always been a sense of kinship in experience and experiment between France and the United States. We shall therefore watch with keenest interest any overhauling of their constitution that Frenchmen may undertake.
SLANG AND JARGON
HILOLOGISTS are beginning to cast up accounts and to make tentative prophecies of the contribution war-time slang may make to our language. The English-speaking soldiers in the great war came near
creating a language of their own, or more accurately, perhaps, a "slanguage" of their own. Much of it was picturesque. How much of it will be permanent? How many of the phrases of trench and camp will stand up under the test? Do they show verbal deftness, give evidence of creative imagination in their making, and express some necessary idea better than any word or phrase formerly used?
Professor Israel Gollancz, eminent Shaksperian scholar and professor of English language and literature at King's College, University of London, with true academic conservatism has suggested that we may consider "camouflage" and "khaki" as sure of a permanent place in our language. Meanwhile certain dictionaries are presenting supplements of slang words and phrases produced during the war. Cassell's New English Dictionary, for instance, contains a supplement from which the following is gleaned:
Old bean-Old fellow. Brass hat-Staff officer. Clobber-Clothing.
Cushy-Good job, good pay, and little to do.
Fed up-To have nothing to do.
Plainly these phrases are slang at its slangiest. From such phrases there will probably come little of permanent value to the English language. The war brought into being and use many new words, however, that will find permanent room in the writer's kit of tools. The war words most sure of permanence are those expressing technical aspects of war operations, some of them slang, some of them the result of sound word building. We shall probably take over in their original form many words from the French and the German. Many words that may rightly be classified as new words are in reality old words, but new in the sense of our using them freely and generally for the first time.
But the fact that war-time slang was