[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
The Manchester Guardian. Thursday 2 March 1933.
Letters to the Editor
Social Conditions in Russia
Recent Visitor’s Tribute
To the Editor of the Manchester Guardian,
Sir - Increasing unemployment and the failure of private capital to cope with it throughout the rest of the world is causing persons of all classes and parties to watch with increasing interest the progress of the Soviet Union.
Any yet this is precisely the moment that has been chosen to redouble the intensity of the blind and reckless campaign to discredit it. No lie is too fantastic, no slander is too stale, no intervention too absurdly contrary to what is now common knowledge for employment by the more reckless elements of the British press. A manifest lunatic assassinated the President of the French republic. He must be a Bolshevik. A child of Colonel Lindbergh is kidnapped and murdered; certain of our newspapers are not ashamed to mock its parents’ distress with the same senseless cry. It is ascertained that the Russians have to work daily for their living under the Five-Year Plan and immediately a British duchess leads the protest against Bolshevik slavery.
Particularly offensive and ridiculous is the revival of the old attempts to represent the condition of Russian workers as one of slavery and starvation, the Five-Year Plan as a failure, the new enterprises as bankrupt and the Communist regime as tottering to its fall. Although such inflammatory irresponsibility is easily laughed at, we must not forget that there are many people not sufficiently well informed politically to be proof against it, and that there are diehards among our diplomats who still dream of starting a counter-revolutionary war anywhere and anyhow, if only they can stampede public opinion into the necessary panic through the press. The seriousness of the situation is emphasized by the British Government’s termination of the trade agreement with the USSR and the provocative questions and answers in the House of Commons.
We the undersigned are recent visitors to the USSR. Some of us travelled throughout the greater part of its civilized territory. We desire to record that we saw nowhere evidence of such economic slavery, privation, unemployment and cynical despair of betterment as are accepted as inevitable and ignored by the press as having “no news value” in our own countries. Everywhere we saw hopeful and enthusiastic working-class, self-respecting free up to the limits imposed on them by nature and a terrible inheritance from tyranny and incompetence of their former rulers, developing public works, increasing health services, extending education, achieving the economics independence of woman and the security of the child and in spite of many grievous difficulties and mistakes which or social experiments involve a first (and which they have never concealed nor denied) setting an example of industry and conduct which would greatly enrich us if our systems supplied our workers with any incentive to follow it.
We would regard it as a calamity if the present lie campaign were to be allowed to make headway without contradiction and to damage the relationship between our country and the USSR. Accordingly we urge all men and women of goodwill to take every opportunity of informing themselves of the real facts of the situation and to support the movements which demand peace, trade and closer friendship with an understanding of the greater Workers Republic of Russia.
Bernard Shaw [and twenty others].
33, Ormond Yard, London
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