[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The Morning Post. Thursday 8th June 1933
IV. How World is Deceived: Art of Gulling our Intelligentsia
By MALCOLM MUGGERIDGE
Below we publish the
last of four remarkable articles on the present situation in Russia by Mr.
Malcolm Muggeridge, who recently acted for eight months as the Moscow
Correspondent of an English Liberal newspaper.
Muggeridge went to Russia a convinced and enthusiastic Communist, lie came away
entirely disillusioned about the Soviet regime. He has drawn a faithful
and terrible picture of the human suffering under existing conditions, and has
described his own disillusionment in moving and memorable words.
is absurd to be angry about the Soviet Regime looked back at a decent distance,
it will seem, I am sure in keeping with the general course of Russian history.
Lenin had much in common with Peter the Great, and the methods, even the
character, of Stalin, make an interesting parallel with Ivan the Terrible.
has never been governed by anything but a military dictatorship in one form or
another, and the population has been used for centuries to terroristic methods.
The peculiar feature of Bolshevik rule is that it has extended the application
of these methods to everyone and to every department of life. This,
precisely, will be the cause of its ultimate downfall.
military dictatorships require a certain amount of popular support and a certain
economic justification in the sense of being able to provide a majority of the
population with the minimum necessaries of life. The dictatorship of the
proletariat fulfils neither condition. It is, apart from small ruling
class and the Red Army, universally detested; and with all the resources of a
great grain producing country t its disposal, it cannot provide even the
relatively inconsiderable town populations with bread.
foreign war would be fatal to it because the army would have to reckon not only
with the enemy in front but with a hundred million famished, infuriated peasants
in the rear.
everything suggests that when the Soviet régime falls it will be followed by
one as intolerable on civilised European standards. I understand that the
émigrés have all ready, in the event of a counter-revolution taking place, an
organisation to inherit, through tile direct descent of the G.PU., the functions
and traditions of the Okhrana.
however, it is absurd to be angry about the Soviet régime, it is not absurd to
recognise the dangers inherent in its international pretentious, or to point out
the contemptible and dangerous folly of those outside Russia who accept such
pretensions at their face value. No one has a greater contempt than your
Bolshevik for the outlook and character of
reformist-pacifist-humanitarian-revolutionaries; and no one has developed to a
finer pitch the art of gulling them.
who have spent all their lives in pouring out righteous indignation about
housing conditions in English industrial towns refer gaily to the congestion in
Moscow - congestion so appalling that, as a Russian explained to me once, no
one, apart from the privileged few, has a moment of privacy from one year’s
end to another - as “camping out.”
with international reputations accept with naive simplicity the validity of
statistics that a knowledge of elementary arithmetic would show to be
who have laboured mightily to propagate the ideals of the League of Nations
watch ferocious military displays in the Red Square with tears of appreciative
emotion in their eyes, and enthusiastically applaud outbursts of fanatical
Ministers, not confined to one political party, talk appreciatively of the
stability of the rouble when, so low is Its purchasing power, you can buy great
parcels of Soviet currency notes for a few pounds or dollars, arid expect a
poverty stricken, starving population, whose only thought and hope is to get a
little bread, to prove in the immediate future a lucrative market for
economists express the belief that a government forced, in order to meet its
existing obligations, to scavenge the last fragments of precious metal left in
the Country by the methods, I have already described, will be prepared, given
gentle treatment, to do profitable business with British manufacturers.
maternity experts find matter only for complacency in children so debilitated by
under-nourishment that it will take, on a moderate estimate, three generations
for the nation to recover its virility.
of letter - Oh, men of letters! - sit through plays so tiresome, so vapid, so
pretentious, that painstaking audiences in provincia1 repertory theatres would
hoot hem off the stage, and return to their native countries to write
enthusiastic artic1es about revolutionary drama and revolutionary art, and the
birth of a new civilisation, and the new aesthetic and moral and spiritual
values that are emerging from the travail of the dictatorship of he proletariat.
- but why should I say anything about journalists? As I have explained in
an earlier article in the “ Morning Post,” journalism in Moscow is, by the
nature of the case, a racket: and let whoever has not racketeered for a living
throw he first stone.
must admit that all this makes me angry if only because, as retailed in articles
and lectures and conversations, it awoke certain hopes and illusions which a
visit to Russia painfully dispelled. It is a kind of hypocrisy, or at
least stupidity, whose consequences, both inside and outside Russia, are
Russia, where, unhappily, there are so many victims of economic distress, it
turns peoples eyes hopefully towards something which, at the best, will prove a
terrible disappointment to them, and, at the worst, their complete undoing;
inside Russia it serves to bolster up a savage and unscrupulous tyranny, and to
mock a population whose sufferings pass comprehension.
it has never occurred to those intellectual Communists who enjoy, in Bloomsbury,
all the privileges and comforts of a bourgeois existence in a capitalist
society, and who, after a short conducted tour, praise ecstatically, at so many
guineas a thousand voids, a régime that has made life intolerable, when it has
not slaughtered, their like in Russia that there are unfortunates who take what
they write seriously; who, having little enough to lose, go with their families
am their belongings to start life again a soviet citizens in the classless
proletarian paradise about which they have read, ant for whom disillusionment is
a more serious matter than the abandonment o an intellectual creed. Yet
this is the case.
year some thousands of Americans and Europeans cross the Soviet frontier; are
mostly forced or persuaded to take Soviet citizenship, and then spent their time
trying to recover their old nationality. They are not, it may be imagined,
very amiably disposed toward the author or lecturer or politician who first put
the project into their heads. The consulates in Moscow are fully occupied
with such cases. I did not meet in Russia one genuinely working-class
foreigner who had come to live there who did not bitterly regret having done so.
it may be wondered, is the trick done? How does the Soviet Government
manage so completely to gull the flower of Europe’s intelligentsia? Heaven
knows! The properties at its disposal are meagre enough, and the cast a
sorry one; yet the fact remains that educated people will have stayed in Moscow,
and who have travelled over the Ukraine, return home with golden tales of
achievement and prosperity.
can only assume that delight at finding their aspirations approved by a
Government with unlimited power blinds them robs them of all their judgment,
intoxicated them, so that, like Caliban, they hear only sounds arid sweet airs,
a million joyous hammers building socialism, and fail to notice either the
wilderness that has come into existence at the same time of the starving slaves
who populate it.
salesmanship - a ghastly combination of Semitic servility and American slickness
and Marxist arrogance - carries them over Russia from one show factory or school
or farm or waterworks to another, without their seeing anything of the
too, I sometimes thought, they shut their eyes wilfully because, after having
for so long been voices crying in the wilderness, they dare not admit even to
themselves that the ruthless application of their ideas produces such disastrous
results; because, in their secret souls, they would like to be a dictator of the
proletariat - something apart, all-powerful, destroying what they could never
dominate, tearing up by the roots a life in which they have never shared, and
then building in the desert they have made a great, planned, Marxist, useless
pyramid, marking at once the end of civilisation and the realisation of their
have written these articles because I believe them to be true. I tm not a
reactionary on the contrary have the deepest sympathy with, and admiration for,
the working-class movement in this and other countries. It is, indeed,
because the Soviet Government is, in the most absolute sense of the word,
reactionary that I hate it so bitterly; and it is because I know that any
association between it and the working-class movement in England must be fatal
for the latter that I shall, on every possible occasion and in the most vehement
terms I can command, expose its pretensions, especially as they are echoed
idiotically by its foreign admirers.
half-wits can look forward to the future with any great complacency; but one
thing I am convinced of - no worse fate can befall a people than to fall into
the hands of a set of professional revolutionaries; barbarians whose minds are
full of disorderly dreams of Marxist utopias and American prosperity and world
conquest; a dictatorship of the proletariat and its “flaming sword.”
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