Saturday, March 10, 2001

Looking Back Fifty Years, Arnold Toynbee (1967)

{p. ii} The Royal Institute of International Affairs is an unofficial body which promotes the scientific study of international questions and does not express opinions of its own. The opinions expressed in this publication are the responsibility of the author.

{p. iii} The Impact of the Russian Revolution 1917-1967: The Influence of Bolshevism on the World outside Russia
With an introductory essay by Arnold J. Toynbee

Issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs

{p. vi} Note on Contributors
ARNOLD J. TOYNBEE, whose best-known work is A Study of History, was Stevenson Professor of International Relations in the University of London and Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs from 1925 to 1955.

{p. vii} Looking Back Fifty Years

REVOLUTIONS, like wars, are abnormal disturbances of the course of life; and, being abnormal, they are bound to be temporary. Officially, a country may be in a permanent state of revolution. This is the official doctrine in present-day Mexico; yet the Mexico of 1967 is not, in truth, the revolutionary country that Mexico was during the fifteen or twenty years immediately following the outbreak of revolution there in 1910. Every revolution has its trajectory. The shape and the length of the curve will be different in different cases. Yet it does seem to be a general rule that, sooner or later, every revolution eventually comes to rest. The seventeenth-century revolution in England took eighteen years to move from the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The eighteenth-century revolution in France took twenty-five years, 1789-1814, to run its corresponding course. The communist revolution in Yugoslavia took twenty-one years, 1945-1966, to reach the point at which the Communist Party and its executive organs relinquished their revolutionary monopoly of power.
The revolution that broke out in China in 1911 has had a more complicated history. The overthrow of the Manchu dynasty was a normal event in Chinese history. For two thousand years past, dynasties had repeatedly been overthrown when they had been deemed by the Chinese public to have 'exhausted their mandate from Heaven'. The new element in the Chinese revolution of 1911 was that the deposed dynasty was replaced, not by a new dynasty, but by an exotic regime inspired by the western ideology of liberal democracy. This new fact put this twentieth-century Chinese revolution into the same category as the English and French revolutions, or the abortive liberal democratic revolution in Russia in 1917. This first Russian Revolution was, of course, rapidly followed by the Bolshevik Revolution of the same year; and in China, as in Russia, what seemed at one time to have been the beginnings of a liberal democratic westernizing revolution, misfired, to be followed after decades of ruinous turmoil by the triumph of a rival western ideology, communism, which has now been in power for eighteen years. The upheavals and civil wars which began in 1911 with the downfall of the Manchu dynasty, and to which were added intermittent hostilities with Japan, lasted nearly forty years; in Russia only a few months elapsed between the fall of the Tsar and the establishment of the Soviet regime.
By comparison with the course of the Chinese revolution, the course of the Russian Revolution is fairly clear. Here the experiment in liberal democracy was so short-lived that it can be almost ignored. Its successor, the Bolshevik Revolution, that trod closely on the liberal revolution's heels, is the event that counts, and, by this year 1967, half a century has elapsed since its outbreak. How are we to size up the situation in the Soviet Union today, fifty years after ? In Russia, as in Mexico, the revolution has obviously shed much of its initial demonic violence. The storm has abated, but can we be sure that it is over? Is there no possibility that it might break out again? These questions need close and earnest consideration. The answers, whatever these may prove to be, are going to affect the course of history, not just in the Soviet Union, but all over the world.
When we are trying to answer these questions in the Russian case, in which the revolution is still current history, it may be helpful to look back on the histories of previous revolutions which, by now, have completed their course. In the light of these previous cases we can perhaps venture on two generalizations. On the one hand, every revolution does change things irreversibly, as every revolution claims to have done. On the other hand, no revolution ever succeeds in making the complete break with the past that every revolution also claims to have made. The irreversibility of a revolution asserts itself if an attempt is made at an integral restoration of the pre-revolutionary state of affairs. When Humpty-Dumpty has had a great fall, all the king's horses and all the king's men cannot put him back again securely in his previous position. They can merely condemn him to suffer a second fall. The Restoration lasted only twenty-eight years in England, and no more than fifteen years in France. In each case it provoked a fresh outbreak of revolution - indeed, a series of fresh outbreaks in the French case. A revolution is a way of bringing about changes that have become imperative, and it will continue to erupt until its work has been completed. At the same time, it is an illusion to imagine that a revolution can create an entirely new Heaven and new Earth. It is notorious, for example, that the ultimate effect of the French Revolution in the field of administration was to give practical effect, in a more systematic form, to the ideas that were latent in the Ancien Regime which the Revolution claimed to have swept away.
These generalizations from past experience may throw some light on the Russian Revolution's probable future course. The founding fathers of the Soviet Union claimed to have abolished Tsarism and capitalism within the Soviet Union's frontiers. Beyond that, they claimed that communism was an ideology that had a unique capacity for unifying mankind. On a world-wide scale, so the Bolsheviks claimed, communism was destined to overcome the vicious traditional divisions between classes, nations, and races (it would overcome the divisions between religions by extinguishing the religions themselves). In making these claims - and they made them with the confidence of sincere conviction - Lenin and his companions were launching a myth that was potent, exhilarating, and infectious. Today, fifty years after, it is already clear that these overweening claims are not going to be made good. Yet, just because the passage of half a century has now given us this hindsight, it has become difficult for us to recapture mentally the atmosphere of the immediate reactions, abroad, to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia.
The immediate repercussions were dynamic, and this, above all, in Europe. Already, before the end of the First World War, Europe had become receptive soil for the sowing of Lenin's dragons'-tooth seed; and, in central and eastern Europe, the defeat of the two Central Powers, and the simultaneous dissolution of one of the two, Austria-Hungary, carried the wartime agony to a climax. Here, next door to Russia, people's minds were now deeply unsettled and confused. The despair into which they had been plunged by terrible experiences was being compensated psychologically by wild hopes for the advent of a secularized version of the millennium. At the turn of the year 1918-19 the Spartacists - the core of the newly-founded German Communist Party - made a desperate attempt at revolution. In 1919 two Central European countries, Hungary and Bavaria, became 'Soviet Republics' on the Russian model; and, though these two regimes were shortlived, the destiny of all Europe still seemed to remain in the balance till the defeat of the Red Army before Warsaw in summer 1920 and the failure of the 'March action' in 1921, when the German communists made another attempt, doomed from the outset, to capture power. Till then, it seemed on the cards that Europe, at any rate east of the Rhine, might go communist en bloc, and if this possibility had become a reality, the consequences would have been momentous, not only for Europe, but for the whole world. The statesmen assembled at Versailles debating the expediency of intervention, were not immune from these anxieties. Far from it. Their fears matched in reverse the hopes of the Bolsheviks. Colonel House wrote in his diary that 'Bolshevism is gaining ground everywhere'; Lloyd George saw Europe 'filled with the spirit of revolution'. Nor was the Bolshevik myth discredited in Europe by the failure of communism to establish its domination there. In Britain, for instance, the tradition of conducting politics in a constitutional way was piquantly different from the dictatorial methods that, in Russia, the Bolsheviks had inherited from a long line of predecessors. The 'Hands off Russia' campaign, organized in protest against British intervention in the Russian Civil War, received strong trade union support, and there were mutinous incidents among the war-weary French troops and in the French fleet sent to support the opponents of the Bolsheviks. However strong their opposition to the communists at home, most working-class leaders in Britain between the wars were obsessed by the notion that the Soviet Government was in some sense the true representative of the working class. The most bitter opponents of the new Russian regime were for the most part the same people who were most hostile to the labour movement at home; to have joined them in attacking Moscow would have seemed in a sense an act of disloyalty to their own cause. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, it was embarrassing for a British labour leader to make serious public criticisms of the Bolshevik system. If and when he found himself unable to avoid doing this, he would usually make some kind of preliminary apology for the awkward stand that he was taking. Vestiges, at least, of this attitude outlived the Second World War. This did not prevent the Labour Party from adopting a strongly hostile attitude to those of its members who went over to the communists or appealed and worked for co-operation between the two. From the outset it rejected the British Communist Party's application for affiliation (which Lenin had urged on the reluctant British delegates to the second Comintern congress), and in the thirties it was equally implacable in rejecting the proposal for a popular front. Indeed, it expelled many of the prominent advocates of this. In fact, the Bolshevik myth was finally discredited outside the Soviet Union not by any spontaneous revulsion on the part of the western working class, but by a dramatic volteface in Russian communist domestic politics. After Stalin's death, when Stalin had been exposed and denounced in the Soviet Union by Khrushchev, it at last became virtually impossible, outside the Soviet Union, to cherish the Bolshevik myth any longer. What is remarkable, however, is not that the myth gradually evaporated in Europe, but that it survived there as long as it did.
This is the more remarkable, considering two points that are made in a later chapter of the present book, by Mr McInnes. He points out that already before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia, the western industrial working class had abandoned, in practice, its original ideological objective of overthrowing bourgeois society for the practical objective of winning for itself successive slices of the alluring bourgeois cake. Mr McInnes's second point that is extremely pertinent in this connection is that the authoritarianism and opportunism of the Russian form of communist organization were horrid stumbling-blocks for the communist parties which, after 1917, had been founded in western countries on Russian initiative. Westerners did not cease to be westerners when they became communists, and the western political ideals of acting on principle and of respecting a minority's right to dissent were irreconcilable with Russian authoritarianism.
The factor that has played the greatest part in defeating communist hopes and expectations - and this both in the Soviet Union and everywhere else - has, however, been the triumph of nationalism. Communism has now been worsted by nationalism as decisively as liberal democracy has been. Within the communist part of the world, national rivalries are today as bitter and as divisive as they are within the non-communist part.
There has, indeed, so far, been only one eminent communist who has genuinely been prepared to expend his own country in the cause of propagating communism throughout the rest of the world. This whole-hearted communist was, of course, Trotsky; and it is surely no accident that Trotsky was defeated in his contest with Stalin - the rival statesman whose policy was the inverse one. Stalin sought to make communism serve the national interests of the Soviet Union; and, unlike Trotsky, Stalin was not peculiar. Communists, as well as liberal democrats, usually prove to be nationalists first whenever a conflict of interests arises between their ideology and their country. After this had been demonstrated in the Soviet Union by Stalin's victory over Trotsky, it was demonstrated again successively by Tito's revolt against Stalin and by communist China's pretension to be the orthodox guardian and exponent of the communist faith - which communist Russia has betrayed, so the Chinese communists maintain. More recently still, we have seen the Soviet Union's east European former satellites taking courage from the examples set by Yugoslavia and by China, and in their turn they are now beginning to reassert their national independence. The communist regimes imposed on them by the Soviet Union survive, but they, too, have proved to be nationalist communist regimes, in which nationalism takes precedence over the professedly ecumenical communist ideology. We may guess that Vietnamese nationalism will also assert itself against any threat of Chinese ascendancy in communist North Vietnam, if and when the United States ceases to press North Vietnam into China's arms.
The passage of time has also confuted Lenin's doctrine that the industrial proletariat of Russia and of the western countries is the natural ally of the Asian and African peoples that are being exploited by imperialism, and that communism is the creed that can link together these two wings of the great army of the victimized. Today the Chinese communists are denouncing the Russian communists as representatives of the affluent white minority of mankind who have entered into a tacit conspiracy with the Americans for preserving this minority's illegitimate privileges. The Chinese have taken over Lenin's doctrine that communism is the non-white peoples' hope, but maintain that only a non-white communist Power can be trusted to champion the non-white peoples' interests honestly. China has, in fact, virtually declared a race-war in Chinese communism's name.
Thus Russian communism has failed to overcome nationalism and racialism, and it has also failed to extinguish the historic religions. In the Soviet Union, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Baptist Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism have all managed to survive under adversity; and, after all, this is not surprising; for all these traditional religions offer to individual human beings something that the parvenu ideologies do not attempt to provide. The traditional religions offer to the individual some personal consolation and guidance for coping with the tribulations that every one of us encounters in the course of his life.
Fifty years after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, it is obvious that Russian communism has failed to attain the positive objectives which it was so confident of attaining at the start. It is also obvious that it has failed to achieve its intended break with the past. If we were to interpret this first half-century of Russian communism's history in Marxian terms, we should diagnose the Russian communist regime's raison d'etre as being a technological and economic one. The First World War, we should say, revealed the gigantic Russian Empire's shocking technological inferiority to its western neighbour Germany. This relatively small but highly industrialied western country defeated Russia with ease. The subsequent establishment of the communist regime in Russia can be interpreted as Russia's device for catching up, technologically, with Germany and with Russia's other western neighbours. Under the communist regime, Russia has been making a forced march, under effective leadership, towards technological efficiency up to contemporary western standards.
This interpretation of the last half-century of Russian history, with which not all Marxists would agree, and to which many non-Marxists subscribe, does go some way towards explaining why Russia went communist in 1917 and why its original communism has evolved since then in a direction that is a partial reversion to something like a 'bourgeois' regime. At the same time, it shows that Lenin's revolution in Russia was not so radical a break with the past as Lenin himself believed it to be. The war of l914-18 was not the first Russian experience that had brought to light, through the shock of military defeat, Russia's current technological backwardness by comparison with the western world. Germany's victory over Russia in the First World War had been anticipated by Poland's and Sweden's victories over her in the seventeenth century. Russia's reaction on that earlier occasion had been the grafting of a western regime - 'enlightened autocracy' - on the traditional Russian autocracy in the Byzantine style; this western regime had been adopted in Russia as a political instrument for producing technological results; the purpose had been to bring Russia into line with its western contemporaries in the technological field; and this new regime had been introduced, for this purpose, by a revolutionary man of genius, Peter the Great. On this interpretation of Russian history, Lenin's mission has been a continuation of Peter's mission, and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was a resumption of the revolution that had been started by Peter at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
{p. 8} In fact, in Russian history, interpreted in these terms, there is a governing factor that was operating before, as well as after, 1917. This governing factor is not one that has originated in Russia in the course of Russia's own native development. It is something that would never have disturbed Russia if it had not had the western world for its next-door neighbour. The constant disturbing factor in Russian history has been the accelerating progress of technology in the western world since the seventeenth century. This dynamic development of western technology has been a challenge to the non-western majority of mankind. It has confronted all non-western peoples with a choice between mastering western technology and falling into subjection to technologically more efficient western Powers. Russia was the first non-western country to face this problem and to try to save its independence by putting itself through a 'crash' programme of technological westernization. The pioneer in this endeavour to cope with western technology was not Lenin, however; it was his seventeenth-century predecessor Peter. It was a stroke of luck for Russia that Peter was a natural-born technocrat who happened to be armed with a Muscovite Tsar's dictatorial powers.
Peter's Russian revolution anticipated Lenin's in another point as well. It was infectious, and this was because it was an attempt to solve a problem that was not Russia's alone, but was common to all Byzantine and other non-western countries as and when they came into collision with the technologically dynamic modern West. Russia's eighteenth-century achievements under its Petrine regime inspired the Turks to follow suit in self-defence, and the Greeks to follow suit in order to liberate themselves from the Turks. Even the Meiji revolution of 1868 in Japan was an indirect result of Peter's pioneer work. The present is not the first time that a revolutionary Russia has suffered from its pupils' ingratitude. Turkey's reaction to the shock of Russia's victory over her in the war of 1768-74 was fundamentally the same as China's reaction now. Turkey's, like China's, aim in imitating Russia's adoption of western technology was to save itself from falling under Russia's dominion.
The two earliest modern revolutions were the sixteenth-century Dutch and seventeenth-century English revolutions. These, being the earliest, had no contemporary external source of inspiration to draw upon. They challenged modern western autocracy in the name of traditional native rights that were legacies from the Middle Ages. The Dutch and English revolutions were, in theory, expressions of conservatism, though, in seeking to vindicate old rights, they fell into claiming new rights that had no historical precedents. By contrast, the French Revolution did not cast back to France's own medieval past. At least part of its inspiration came from abroad; for it was inspired by the French philosophes, and, by 1789, these had been theorizing, for a century, about English post-revolutionary practice. On this point - and it is a point of capital importance - the Russian and Chinese communist revolutions have been of the French, not of the Dutch and English, type. Their theoretical inspiration was derived from foreign precedents, and, by comparison with the English inspiration of the French Revolution, their inspiration has been highly exotic. In borrowing from England, France was borrowing from a fellow member of its own family circle of western peoples. At bottom, French and English traditions and institutions and ideas all had common western roots. On the other hand, the non-western countries that have adopted communism have taken over an ideology that has no roots at all in their own native traditions.
When we survey Russian and Chinese history during the ages before Russia's and China's encounters with the West, we find nothing here that suggests that the Russians or the Chinese would ever have dreamed of communism, in the sense in which it is now understood, if this ideology had not already been manufactured in the West and had not been waiting, ready-made, for non-western peoples to import. Communism, like liberal democracy and enlightened autocracy, is a western invention which can be accounted for only in terms of the western civilization's previous history. The founding fathers of communism, Marx and Engels, were born and brought up in the Rhineland and did their work in England - Marx as a reader in the British Museum library and Engels as the manager of a small factory in Manchester. They were thoroughbred westerners like Cromwell and the Emperor Joseph and Robespierre, and they were not singular in being prophets who were without honour in their own world, but who made their ideological fortunes abroad, quite contrary to their own expectations. Marx did not have his eye on Russia; he felt a nineteenth-century German's contempt for that backward eastern country. Marx expected that England would be the first country to go communist, because England had been the first country to enter on the capitalist phase of an economic and social course of evolution that he believed to be predetermined. If Marx could have lived to see Russia seize the role of being the first country to make the communist revolution, he would have certainly been astonished and would probably have been displeased; for this first great practical success for Marxism was at the same time a confutation of Marxist theory.
Marxism is not, however, the only creed that has been ousted from its birthplace but has made its fortune on alien ground. Christianity, for instance, was rejected by the Jews but was adopted by the non-Jewish majority of the population of the Roman Empire. Buddhism was eventually rejected in India but was adopted in Eastern Asia. This is no paradox. A religion or ideology attracts adherents where it is able to meet a spiritual or psychological need, and it does not necessarily meet a need in its own homeland. The Jews, being monotheists already, felt no need for the trinitarian dilution of monotheism which Christianity offered. On the other hand, this monotheism with a tincture of polytheism in it did meet the needs of a polytheistic Greco-Roman society that was already groping its way towards a vision of divine unity. The Hindus, being ascetic and metaphysical-minded already, felt no need for the temperate asceticism and minimal metaphysical-mindedness of Buddhism. On the other hand, these characteristically Indian spiritual gifts of Buddhism - offered as they were, by Buddhism, in a moderate dosage - were attractive to the peoples of Eastern Asia because for these peoples, whose native religions and philosophies were for the most part this-worldly and matter-of-fact, Buddhism's Indian otherworldliness filled a spiritual vacuum. In China, this spiritual vacuum had already been partly filled by the transcendental philosophy of Taoism. Buddhism gave to China, in a more imposing form, what Taoism had been seeking to give before Buddhism's arrival there.
Marxism's fortunes have been similar to Buddhism's and Christianity's. In its western birthplace, Marxism has been a drug in the market. It has been just one representative of the modern western world's innumerable brood of social and political ideologies, and, for a majority of westerners, it has been an unattractive ideology. It is cruder, more violent, and more dogmatic than many others of the contemporary western-made ideologies among which a westerner can take his choice; and, since Marx's day, violence has come to make less and less appeal to the western industrial working class, since this class's material conditions were already being improved by non-violent means by the time when Marxist propaganda got under way. Therefore the western-made ideology of Marxism has been rejected by the western world, with the exception of a small western communist minority whose prospects are as bleak as those of the Jewish Christians in Palestine were when Christianity was making its fortune among the non-Jewish majority of the people of the Roman Empire. On the other hand, Marxism attracts non-western peoples by the qualities that repel westerners. Its violence and radicalism offer to non-westerners the prospect that, if they swallow this potent western medicine, it may implant in them the western stamina that all non-westerners need if they are to hold their own in a westernizing world. In other words, Marxism fitted the mood of the non-western peoples when these were ripe for revolting against western dominance. It is a creed of western origin that indicts the western 'establishment'. It is thus able to express a will to revolt against the West in terms that, being western, have prestige - for the West does have prestige, in virtue of its dominance, even among peoples that are striving to bring its domination over them to an end. Psychology counts for more than economics in deciding whether the propagation of a religion or an ideology shall succeed or shall fail. If Marx had thought in psychological terms and not in economic terms, he would not have been surprised to learn that the two leading communist countries today are both non-western.
This may perhaps at least partly explain why communism has captivated Russia and China. We have still to see how long the effects of this powerful western drug are going to take in working themselves off in these two great non-western countries. We have also still to see whether Russia and China are going to succeed or to fail in their efforts to propagate their borrowed western ideology in other non-western countries.
The fact that communism is not a native Russian or Chinese product does not necessarily mean that Russian and Chinese attempts to propagate communism will fail. The ideas of the French Revolution were derived partly from what the French thought were the principles underlying political and constitutional arrangements in England; yet, in the French version of them, these ideas proved to be more catching than their exemplification across the Channel. Today Russia and China are playing the role of serving as the disseminators of an ideology that they did not originate, and this is not the first time that they have played this part. Russia adopted Eastern Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium and propagated it among the peoples in her Siberian hinterland. China adopted Buddhism from India and propagated it in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. To propagate an alien ideology is not impracticable; all the same, it is a tour de force. The outcome will depend partly on how the missionary people regards itself, and partly on how it is regarded by the foreign peoples whom it is seeking to convert.
In the past, China and Russia have each had confidence in its capacity to sustain the missionary role. The Chinese have thought of China as being 'the Middle Kingdom', that is, the uniquely civilized centre of the human world. They have thought of the Chinese Empire as being 'All that is under Heaven', that is, as being sovereign, or at least suzerain, even over barbarians beyond the pale of civilization (that is, Chinese civilization). What is more, this Chinese claim was accepted by most of the non-Chinese peoples, near or remote, with whom the Chinese came into contact before the British assault on China in 1839 - an assault that brought with it a sudden catastrophic change in China's standing in the world. This was not, of course, the first time that China had been assaulted with success. Japanese pirates had raided the country from the sea before the first western ships reached its coasts. Central Asian nomads had conquered it partially, and, in the Mongols' case, completely, from the landward side. But these barbarian naval and military conquerors had continued to feel awe and admiration for China's culture; and China made the same imposing impression on western observers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when it was under Mongol rule, and again in the modern age, from the sixteenth century down to 1839. Voltaire put China on a pedestal as a model for the West to imitate. Eighteenth-century French philosophes abandoned the traditional Christian belief in original sin for the more optimistic, but perhaps less realistic, Confucian faith in the natural goodness of human nature. Even after 1839, the westerners and the Japanese who were now treating the Chinese as 'natives' still continued to appreciate Chinese art.
Thus China enjoyed cultural prestige in the eyes of foreign peoples that were geographically remote and were militarily stronger than China was; and this cultural prestige also imposed itself upon neighbours that offered a stubborn resistance to Chinese political domination. The Koreans, the Japanese, and the Vietnamese readily received from China not only its own cultural products, such as the characters and the Confucian philosophy, but also an Indian religion, Buddhism of which China was not the creator but was merely the transmitter.
The Russians, for their part, before they became converts to, and propagators of, communism, had already regarded themselves on two occasions as being the sole residuary legatees of an orthodox faith that had been betrayed by its originators, from whom the Russians had received it. When, at the Council of Florence in 1439, the East Roman Government accepted ecclesiastical union with Rome under the supremacy of the Papacy, the Russians refused to endorse an agreement that they held to be a betrayal of Eastern Orthodoxy; and, after the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Russian church considered itself to be the only one of the Eastern Orthodox churches that was still preserving the true faith, immune from both Frankish and Turkish domination. Again, after Peter the Great had, in effect, replaced Eastern Orthodox Christianity by modern western secular autocracy as Russia's state religion, the Russian Tsardom prided itself, in the Napoleonic and post-Napoleonic age, on having been the only absolute monarchy in Europe that had not succumbed to the ideas of the French Revolution.
Russia, however, was much less successful in the pre-communist age than China was in inducing its neighbours to take it at its own high valuation. Its western neighbours held that, though Christian, it was schismatic from the Western Christian standpoint, and that anyway, it was backward and indeed barbarous. It was more significant still that its fellow Eastern Orthodox Christians, too, looked down on Russia. It was politically independent and powerful, while the Greeks, Bulgars, Serbs, and Georgians were politically subject to Venice, the Ottoman Empire, and the Persian Empire. Yet Russia's political power was outweighed, in these other Eastern Orthodox peoples' eyes, by its cultural inferiority to them. In matters of Eastern Orthodox Christian doctrine and practice, it was still they who set the standard for Russia, not vice versa. Nor did Russia improve its standing in its neighbours' eyes as a result of its reception of secular western civilization in and after the time of Peter the Great. The Petrine revolution did induce the western countries to admit Russia into their society, but they continued to treat it as a backward neophyte who did no credit to the civilization that it was attempting clumsily to adopt. What are Russias and China's respective prospects of success in their present common role of being propagators of communism - an ideology that was originally alien to both of them alike? Our guesses at the answer to this question about the future will be influenced by our knowledge of the two countries' respective pre-communist pasts. We may perhaps gain some further light if we recall the reasons for France's success in propagating the partly alien (that is, English) 'ideas of the French Revolution'.
Like Chinese cultural exports, these French cultural exports found ready takers, and these among peoples that were up in arms against being dominated militarily and politically by a foreign Power. To compare small things with great, France, in the western world, had been a miniature 'Middle Kingdom' in the Chinese sense of the term. France's centrality, unlike China's, had not been uncontested, yet neither Italy in the Middle Ages nor Britain in the modern age had succeeded in wresting from France its primacy. The shock that the French Revolution gave to the rest of the western world could not and did not wipe out the cultural prestige that France had been accumulating in the course of ages. France continued to have many gifts to give, and these continued to be attractive to other western peoples, even now that they were being presented in a revolutionary form.
Revolutionary and Napoleonic France's greatest asset was its wealth in capable cultivated men of the professional class. The Revolution gave such men their opportunity; the subsequent French conquests extended this opportunity's geographical scope. A host of Frenchmen of this kind rationalized the law and the system of public administration, first in France itself, and afterwards in Italy, the Low Countries, western Germany, and Switzerland. Heine, the Jew for whom the French regime spelled emancipation, has expressed a feeling that was shared with him by millions of non-Jews in these countries. It felt as if a stuffy house had suddenly been ventilated by a great breath of vivifying fresh air. The Napoleonic regime, outside France's pre-revolution frontiers, was short-lived, but its effects there were enduring. The ending of the French military and political occupation could not undo the social, cultural, and psychological consequences of this historic episode.
Here we have an important point in which both Russia and China in 1967 are at a serious disadvantage by comparison with France at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To their credit, the communist regimes in both countries have been making efforts, at home, to raise the level of modern education, which, under the pre-communist dispensation, had been low in terms of the average level in the contemporary western world. Russia has now had half a century for increasing its fund of modern-educated citizens; China has had eighteen years. Yet today Russia, as well as China, probably still has a deficit of such citizens for meeting its own domestic requirements. Certainly, neither country has a surplus that it can afford to employ abroad on world-wide propaganda operations. Both the Soviet Union and continental China are, of course, doing propaganda work abroad on a considerable scale, but probably they are doing this to the detriment of their own development at home.
This dearth of competent citizens is one of the factors that, first in Russia and then in China, defeated the attempt to establish a liberal democratic regime and led to the establishment of a communist regime instead. A communist regime can be operated by a small number of competent citizens; a liberal democratic regime requires a much larger number of them to enable it to work successfully. The presence of a communist regime is presumptive evidence of a shortage of citizens of this kind. Conversely, if there is a large number of them, they are unlikely to put up with an authoritarian regime of any kind - communist, military, or dynastic.
This suggests that the present communist regimes in Russia and China are not nearly so well equipped as the revolutionary and Napoleonic regime in France was for propagating their ideology abroad.
If Russia and China are both labouring under this common handicap, which of the two has the better prospects? Probably China, but this only within the limits of the area in which pre-1839 China enjoyed cultural prestige, that is, within the limits of Eastern Asia, which, besides China, includes Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Today, Eastern Asia harbours nearly half the human race - nearly half, but not more than that.
On a visit to Japan at the end of 1956, I had the impression that, as a result of Japan's failure to conquer China in the war of 1931-45, China's traditional prestige in Japanese eyes had revived. I found that many Japanese of the rising generation were now learning Chinese, in the hope that a knowledge of Chinese might be a passport to a job if trade between Japan and China were to be resumed on a considerable scale. After the defeat of China by Britain in 1839, and again by Britain and France jointly in 1858-60, and after the success of the westernizing Meiji Revolution in Japan in 1868, the Japanese had for a time taken to seeing China through contemporary western eyes and not in the traditional Japanese light. They had come to look upon the Chinese as being backward, helpless, and contemptible 'natives'. Japan's subsequent failure to conquer China, working together with its utter defeat in the Second World War, has, I believe, had the effect of restoring in Japanese eyes the image of China as the great central civilized Power which, before the century of China's temporary humiliation (1839-1945), was traditional in Japan, as well as in China itself. If this is a correct diagnosis, then Japan in the latter part of the twentieth century may prove to be as open to Chinese communist propaganda as it was to Chinese Buddhist propaganda in the earlier part of the sixth century. Of course this does not mean that Japan would submit to Chinese military and political domination. Even if Japan were, one day, to adopt communism from China, it would be a nationalist Japanese communism, and the nationalism in this mixture would prevail over the communism in it if there were to be a clash between the interests of the two ideologies. As a matter of fact, it now seems improbable that Japan will go communist, however high the level to which communist China's prestige in Japan may rise. Post-Second-World-War Japan is making such immense technological and industrial progress under a non-communist regime that communism of any brand seems likely to have little attraction there.
As for Korea and Vietnam, their traditional policy towards China has been the same as Japan's. They have embraced Chinese culture but have resisted Chinese domination, and this traditional attitude of theirs seems likely to persist. In both countries, nationalism seems likely to take precedence over any other ideology. This means that, in both countries, reunification will be the paramount objective, and will be welcomed whether the regime under which it is achieved happens to be a communist or a non-communist one. In Vietnam, whatever the military outcome of the present war, eventual political reunification can be predicted with some confidence; and there, at any rate, it seems probable that reunification, when it comes, will be under a communist regime. But it also seems probable that a communist reunited Vietnam will be just as determined to maintain its independence against a communist China as a communist Yugoslavia is to maintain hers against a communist Russia. This can be predicted because, at present, nationalism is the strongest ideology in the world and no other ideology can hold its own against nationalism if and when there is a conflict of interests.
It looks, then, as if China is likely to recover its historic position of being 'the Middle Kingdom' of Eastern Asia, but it also looks as if it is unlikely to be more successful in the future than it has been in the past in dominating politically its East Asian neighbours, even if these prove to find Chinese culture as attractive today as they found it in the past. Beyond the bounds of Eastern Asia, there seems to be no ground for expecting that Chinese prestige is going to stand high. China's traditional claim to be 'the Middle Kingdom' of Eastern Asia was in consonance with the historical realities. On the other hand, its traditional claim that the Chinese Empire amounted to 'All that is under Heaven' was chimerical. It was founded on Chinese ignorance of half the world - a half of the world in which there was of course, a reciprocal ignorance of China. Today, China does have a foothold in one little country in this other half of the world. But Albania is the smallest and most backward of all the countries of eastern Europe. Some of the more important east European countries that became the Soviet Union's unwilling political satellites after the end of the Second World War may now be playing China off against the Soviet Union as part of their strategy for recovering their freedom from Russian domination. But obviously none of them is intending to submit to Chinese domination in place of Russian. The mere fact that they are communist countries does not make them willing to be subject to either of the two communist super-powers. Though they are communist, Russia's European allies are nationalist first and foremost. We may therefore expect that China's influence in eastern Europe will be ephemeral, and its prospects in Africa seem to be no brighter on a long view. This or that African country may be willing to accept Chinese aid against some African neighbour with which it has a local quarrel, but, in the long run, China's presence in Africa is surely going to be as unwelcome to Africans as Russia's presence or as the presence of the United States and the ex-imperial west European Powers. The only country outside Eastern Asia in which China's prospects of exercising an enduring influence look promising is a non-communist South Asian country, Pakistan. The common interest that draws China and Pakistan together is a nationalistic one. Both countries have a common enemy in India.
{p. 18} To sum up, China's prospects of being able to extend the range of its political domination seem unpromising everywhere. It has better prospects of re-establishing its cultural influence - but this only in Eastern Asia, not in the other half of the world. If this is the truth, China's prospects, outside its own frontiers, are mediocre. Yet by comparison with Russia's prospects, China's are relatively good. China can look forward at least to recovering its traditional cultural prestige in Eastern Asia, whereas Russia - notwithstanding its recent achievements in atomic weaponry, rocketry, and spacemanship - seems likely to continue to be looked down upon, as being culturally inferior, in the other Eastern Orthodox Christian countries, as well as in the West. Even within the bounds of the Soviet Union itself the western provinces are restive under Russian ascendancy, because they feel that Great Russia is relatively backward in civilization. There is the same feeling in the Soviet Union's two Eastern Orthodox Christian allies, Romania and Bulgaria, and the reaction is still stronger in the three Western Christian countries, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. All the east European former satellites of the Soviet Union aspire to regain their complete independence, as Yugoslavia has already gained hers. Russia has never been a 'Middle Kingdom' for any of its neighbours - except, perhaps, for some of the more backward peoples in Siberia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. This lack of cultural prestige is a formidable handicap for Russia in its present effort to spread its influence round the world.
This view might seem to be belied by the depth and persistence of the devotion to Russia exhibited by some leading western writers, artists, and intellectuals. For the hopes raised by 1917 were not confined to the more radical sections of the organized labour movement. On the European continent particularly, and to some extent in the United States, large numbers of writers and artists and intellectuals felt deeply drawn to the new regime, and responded to the promise of a new beginning in human history that would substantiate the belief expressed by Marx and Engels when they wrote that with the triumph of socialism mankind would move from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom. Shaken and outraged by the war, as these western intellectuals were, to them the first act of the new government - the decree on peace passed on the day following the seizure of power - demonstrated both the guilt of their own society and the possibility that its evils could be eradicated. To these convictions were added the infection spread by the excitement and optimism which informed the work of Russian writers and artists in the early years of the revolution, ephemeral though they turned out to be. Together, they generated a sense of commitment to a lofty cause that long outlived its origins. The intellectual life of Europe after the First World War cannot be understood unless the strength of the attraction exercised by the events of November 1917 is given its full due.
In the thirties the myth of 1917 gained a new lease of life. When millions were unemployed and hungry people demonstrated in the streets of London and New York, Paris and Berlin, when the problems of the capitalist system seemed more intractable than ever before and its apparent requirements more nonsensical, when Hitler's party was making its way to power, the need to believe in the existence of a more rational, more humane society, brought new recruits into or near the communist fold. For some, a closer acquaintance with the realities of Soviet life was enough to put an end to their attachment - Andre Gide is perhaps the outstanding example. In Germany the stupidity of the policy imposed by Moscow on the German Communist Party drove many of its leading intellectuals into opposition. For others - and this seems to have been particularly the case in the United States - the series of public trials and the execution in 1933-39 of so many of the outstanding figures of the revolution, the suicide of others, and the assassination of Trotsky cut the cord. On those who witnessed them, the realities of communist policy in Spain made a similar impact, and the Soviet- German agreement of 1939 generated another wave of resignations. The same pattern of disillusion and rejection was repeated after the war when Stalin excommunicated Tito, and when Soviet troops crushed the risings in Berlin in 1953 and in Hungary three years later.
Nevertheless, the attraction endures - the names of Picasso and Sartre come to mind (not that either of them has ever formally been a communist). Their case illustrates two curious features of the situation of the communisant intelligentsia of the West. First, their support for Russia has very little that is positive about it - this is not the reflection of Russian prestige, it is almost entirely the automatic corollary of their dislike of their own society - Sartre's 'I shall hate the bourgeois to my last breath'. (Among the younger generation this dislike - 'alienation', to use the current jargon - takes non-political forms; in politics, as in other respects, they reject the paths chosen by the generation of the thirties.) It is less easy to explain the paradoxical contrast between the style - using the word in its widest sense - of Russian arts and letters, and the style of Moscow's supporters outside the USSR. Long after radical experiments in these fields were suppressed in the Soviet Union, and the dead hand of the bureaucracy imposed its disciplined conformism, many of the least conformist, least disciplined writers and artists outside remained unmoved. Picasso's 'formalism' is anathema to the Union of Soviet Artists; Sartre's existentialism is sometimes condemned, usually ignored, by Soviet philosophers. Brecht is far less often staged in Moscow and Leningrad (for many years not at all) than in New York, Paris, and London. Socialist realism, still the offlcial creed of Soviet literati, finds no room for the innovations and experiments of 'progressive' writers in the West. Composers were at one time asked - indeed instructed - to turn out 'tunes' that would appeal to the widest audience of the toilers. The Russian translation of a Gunter Grass novel omits all the 'erotic' passages. And though Louis Aragon may publicly deplore the imprisonment of some Soviet writers and the boycott of others, the need is still strong to preserve the myth, to keep bright the picture of a world that, if not ideal, is better than their own.
Understandably, there is for them something attractive in the importance attached by the Soviet authorities to the artist's function, to his purpose in society, to the services he can perform in education and propaganda, in helping to shape the 'new Soviet man'. The strength of the concern they show, their serious (if misguided) appreciation of what the artist and intellectual can contribute to a country, though it carries with it the acceptance of the tastes and judgments of a philistine bureaucracy, may seem preferable to the position of perpetual suspect outsider whose job is to entertain, divert, and please.
But for the enhancement of its prestige, Russia's greatest asset is the technological and economic progress that it has succeeded in making during the first half century of its communist dispensation. This is no doubt one of the reasons why it is spending on spacemanship resources that, from any other point of view than that of publicity and propaganda, would be better employed on productive public works. Communist Russia's spacemanship is a crude but easily understandable advertisement of its technological success, and this advertisement is calculated to make Russian communism look like a talisman for countries that possess great undeveloped natural resources but that, under non-communist regimes, have failed so far to develop these resources for the benefit of the indigent majority of the population. Venezuela and Libya are examples of such countries in which natural wealth abounds while the mass of the people still remains poor. This is a politically explosive situation, and it is one from which communist Russia might profit politically in virtue of its impressive technological and economic record. Here Russia has a potential political leverage which China does not possess - at any rate, not yet.
An estimate of communist Russia's and communist China's influence on other parts of the world up to the year 1967 would be incomplete and therefore unrealistic if it took account of positive effects only. Negative effects are just as real, and they may eventually turn out, in retrospect, to have been more important. The most potent negative effect of communism outside the communist countries has been in the United States. At the present moment, China, not Russia, is the American people's and government's principal communist bugbear, but it is Russia - which went communist nearly one-third of a century earlier than China did - that has had the portentous effect on the American outlook and on American policy - and this in the domestic American field, as well as in the world-wide ideological, political, and military arena. This effect of the communist revolution in Russia on the United States is of major importance in its influence on the course of the world's history, considering that, as the cumulative result of the two world wars, the United States has become the leading western Power.
The capture of the Russian Empire by communism in and after 1917 was the first event in the Old World, since the creation of the United States, that awoke American minds to an awareness of the possibility that the American way of life, and perhaps even the political independence of the United States, was, after all, not secure. The awakening was sudden, and the subsequent effect of it has been traumatic. This has been a psychologically revolutionary new departure from what had been the prevalent American attitude towards international affairs since the achievement of independence. The United States severed its political ties with Britain after Britain had evicted France from North America. The two events, taken together and followed up by the Louisiana Purchase and the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine, made the American people feel that they had achieved not only independence but also security within the broad bounds of their own hemisphere. This belief, in its turn, made them feel that they could afford to be indifferent spectators of any events, however earth-shaking, in the Old World.
The most recent and most surprising illustration of this traditional American sense of security was the American people's failure to appreciate the gravity of the German threat to the security of the United States in both the First and the Second World War. In both wars their impulse was to remain neutral, on the assumption that, as far as America's national interests went, it was a matter of indifference for America which of the European contending alliances won. The United States did, of course, eventually intervene in both wars, and in each case its immense industrial potential made Germany's defeat inevitable. Yet probably the United States would not have become a belligerent if it had not been driven into belligerency - by Germany in the first war and by Germany's ally Japan in the second. Even after its experience of the German temper in the two wars, the United States still appears to feel no mistrust of German militarism. Since the Second World War it has deliberately re-armed Germany to serve as its ally against the Soviet Union.
In the two wars, the United States suffered serious injury at German hands. The Germans killed or wounded hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and sank many dozens of American merchant ships. By contrast, no American soldiers have been killed, and no American ships sunk, by Russian hands so far. Again, any atrocities that the Russians may have committed under the Tsarist and the communist regimes in Russia are eclipsed by the atrocities committed by the Germans, especially under the nazi regime. Yet the American people have never been either seriously alarmed, or even passionately indignant, at any German acts. In spite of these acts, the Americans have had a strong desire to think of the Germans as being innocuous and respectable. On the other hand, since Russia went communist in and after 1917, the majority of Americans - though they have suffered no injury at Russian hands - have thought of the Russians as being ogres, and since the end of the Second World War they have eagerly accepted any anti-Russian regime in any country as their ally. However black the record of an anti-Russian regime may be, its anti-Russian attitude is a warrant of respectability in a great many American eyes. This contrast, within the last half-century, between the respective American attitudes towards Russia and towards Germany is startling. It requires explanation; and the explanation is to be found in the violence of the American reaction to the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Since 1917, the traditional policy of the United States has veered round to its extreme opposite. In the days of the Holy Alliance, American sympathy was always on the side of peoples that were struggling to liberate themselves from despotic governments - and this not only in the western hemisphere but all over the world. Read what Metternich wrote to the Emperor Alexander I apropos of the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine:
{quote} These United States of America have astonished Europe by a new act of revolt, more unprovoked, fully as audacious, and no less dangerous than the former. ... In fostering revolutions wherever they show themselves, in regretting those which have failed, in extending a helping hand to those which seem to prosper, they lend new strength to the apostles of sedition, and reanimate the courage of every conspirator. If this flood of pernicious example should extend over the whole of America, what would become of our religious and political institutions, of the moral force of our governments, and of the conservative system which has saved Europe from complete dissolution? {endquote}
These words might have been written by John Foster Dulles apropos of the Soviet Union. On the map of the United States you will find a number of places named after nineteenth-century European fighters for freedom. As late as the close of the nineteenth century the United States intervened to liberate Cuba from Spain. As late as that, the American people still thought of themselves as being the champions of freedom - a free people that was eager to see other people win, in their turn, the freedom that the American people had won for themselves. Today, 'so-called wars of liberation' excite far less American sympathy. If they evoke any American action, this takes the shape of an American expeditionary force to extinguish the 'brush-fire'. The American argument is that an insurrection that is liberal at the start may turn communist later, so the United States cannot afford to let even a liberal revolution run its course without American intervention against it. When Fidel Castro took up arms against the Batista regime in Cuba, he did not win the wholehearted American sympathy that had been won by the Cuban insurgents against Spanish rule in the eighteen-nineties. For a brief interval there was indeed a good measure of support and approval, since the regime against which Castro was revolting had been an abominable one. But these were soon forfeited, and the American attitude settled down to one of deep suspicion and hostility.
This reversal of American policy has been dramatic. What, then, is the explanation ? The ultimate explanation is, no doubt, 'the deceitfulness of riches'. Wealth does produce, in its possessors, the unhappy moral effects that are denounced in the Gospels; and, between the date of the United States' achievement of independence and the capture of Russia by communism in 1917, the United States had become an incomparably rich country.
To the minds of well-to-do Americans, communism looked, from the date of its triumph in Russia, like an infectious disease that might prove catching even in the United States itself. When, later, the American people woke up to the truth that the annihilation of distance by the progress of technology had deprived them also of their fancied security against military attack from abroad, there was bound to be a cumulative American reaction. If it was true that the width of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans no longer gave the United States physical protection against potential attempts from abroad to rob the American people of their wealth, then the United States' traditional policy of isolationism could no longer give her the security she was still determined to have. This novel precariousness of the situation suggested to some American minds - for example, Mr John Foster Dulles - that henceforth, in order to make itself secure at home, the United States must sally out beyond its own frontiers to nip in the bud any subversive movement anywhere in the world, even on the opposite side of the globe. If this policy had been carried out to its extreme logical conclusion, and if the United States had not been a democracy in which issues are freely and vigorously debated, and in which the Administration's will is not law, the United States might have found itself committed to Metternich's policy of worldwide repression - a policy that the American people detested when it was practised by Metternich himself. This would have been calamitous because that policy is bound, by its very nature, to fail sooner or later, as Metternich's own experience has demonstrated. The Metternichian policy is to stop change; and change cannot be stopped, because change is another name for life.
The American people's enrichment would presumably have induced them to adopt a defensive-minded conservative stance sooner or later. But the event that moved the country to become the conscious and deliberate champion of conservatism and to drop its traditional championship of revolution was the Russian Revolution of 1917; and in restrospect the effect of this revolution on the United States may prove to have been more important - and possibly more lasting too - than its effect on Russia itself. Since 1917, the United States has fancied itself in the role of the world's defender against monolithic world communism.
Monolithic world communism was originally a dream of Lenin's, and the passage of half a century has demonstrated that this dream is an illusion. Today, each of the communist countries is just as narrowly nationalistic-minded as each of the non-communist countries, and this is recognized in the communist countries themselves. In the Soviet Union, in the east European countries allied to it, in Yugoslavia, in China, no-one any longer pretends that communism is presenting a united front to the rest of the world. The only country in which Lenin's dream is still haunting people's minds today is - paradoxically - the United States.
This is dreamland, not reality; for communism has proved not to be the world-unifying ideological force that Lenin predicted it would be. It has proved not to be the strongest ideology in the present-day world. It has been defeated by nationalism, and this is unfortunate for mankind; for in the atomic age nationalism is a far more serious threat than communism is to the survival of the human race. There is, however, an impersonal force at work in the present-day world that is still more powerful than nationalism, and that is technology boosted by the systematic application of science. In the modern world, technology is the key to material power, and therefore, on a planet whose habitable surface is partitioned among about 125 local sovereign States, every State must have up-to-date technology. If a country were to fall behind in the race for technological development, it would go under. In order to have up-to-date technology, a country must have efficient technicians, scientists, and administrators. The representatives of these walks of life are birds of a feather, in whatever country they may happen to be working and whatever the ideology that happens to be professed by that country's government. The technicians, scientists, and administrators of the worlds 125 States can understand each other; they are, in fact, the nucleus of a new citizen-body - a body of people who are citizens of the world rather than citizens of some fraction of it.
{p. 26} Through the uniform professional action of this nucleus of world-citizens in every country, life is now being standardized in all countries. In consequence, our distinctive ideological labels, which are focuses of such strong emotion, are becoming less and less relevant to the facts of life. No doubt the labels will be retained long after the local ways of life which the labels purport to distinguish have in truth become indistinguishable from each other. These cherished emblems of perilous discord will die hard, but it can be prophesied that they will all die sooner or later - unless, of course, they first inveigle the human race into committing mass suicide by fighting an atomic world war in the near future. We may guess that the United States' anti-communist label will prove rather more durable than the Soviet Union's communist label, but we may also guess that both labels will gradually fade out. By the end of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' second half-century of existence, the terms 'Soviet' and 'Socialist' will have become meaningless, because the de facto constitutions of the Soviet Union and the United States will have become virtually identical.
We may even guess that, by that date, neither the Soviet Union nor the United States will any longer be sovereign (except, perhaps, in the nominal sense in which each of the component states of the United States is sovereign today). One of the characteristics of the evolution of technology is that, in order to continue to operate effectively, it has to operate on a constantly expanding scale. The day is now not far distant at which the minimum unit of effective technological operation, for all purposes of any importance, will be the entire surface of this planet, together with a thin but progressively thickening envelope of outer space. Technology, like truth (and technology is a prosaic form of truth) is mighty and will prevail. Nationalism seems to have no prospect of being able to stand up to technology, powerful though the hold of nationalism over human hearts still is. Nationalism's only chance of stopping the march of technology would be to make a holocaust of the human race, and in that case nationalism itself, as well as technology, would be consumed in the burning fiery furnace.
The present essay is a general introduction to the theme of this book. Some of the more important aspects of the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on the world during the first half century after 1917 are discussed in the following essays in detail.
{p. 27} Professor Seton-Watson deals with the political effects of communism on nationalism and imperialism, both inside the Soviet Union and in the rest of the world.
Communism, Professor Seton-Watson points out, has proclaimed itself to be the champion of national self-determination, and, in the Soviet Union, the component nationalities have, in theory, the right to secede. Actually, on the other hand, the Soviet Union has firmly held together the former Tsarist colonial empire. This is, indeed, the one great colonial empire that is still substantially intact. Is the maintenance of the former Russian Empire in the form of the Soviet Union going to be permanent? Or is this empire, too, going to dissolve, as so many former colonial empires have dissolved - partly through the action of communism - within the last half century?
Mr Mclnnes deals with the effects, on the socialist and labour movement outside the Soviet Union, of the Bolsheviks' capture of the Russian State. He is chiefly concerned with the effects in western countries. He points out that Russia has produced a special Russian type of revolutionary leader and a special Russian conception of the meaning of revolutionary orthodoxy. It is indeed true that the historical figure of Lenin was foreshadowed in Turgenev's imaginary picture of Bazarov in Fathers and Sons, while both the self-appointed leader and his despotic method of organization are prefigured by Dostoevsky in The Possessed. The leader is not a democratically commissioned representative of the oppressed masses whose wrongs he has set out to redress. He has commissioned himself, and the first and last duty of the rank and file is obedience to him. Orthodoxy means faithfully following the party line along whatever twists and turns it may be given. Nominally the line is determined, from moment to moment, by a majority of the party itself. Actually, it is determined by a small directing inner ring. The essence of orthodoxy is that, however the line may have been determined, it must be followed blindly. In the figure of the leader we may see a descendant of serf-owning Russian nobles who has changed his creed without having changed his behaviour. He expects from his political henchmen the subservience that his forefathers exacted from their serfs. As for the Russian communist conception of orthodoxy, it is reminiscent of the classical Christian conception of it. In the successive church councils that shaped Christian orthodoxy in the course of the fourth and fifth centuries, the shape underwent repeated changes that were nominally approved, on each occasion, by a majority of the fathers, but were usually imposed, in truth, by some domineering minority. Here, too, unquestioning obedience was demanded for each successive decision, however this might have been reached. The vein of authoritarianism in the Christian tradition had not been eroded in the Eastern Orthodox Christian countries by any counterpart of the revolt against the passive acceptance of authority that had begun to assert itself in the West before the close of the seventeenth century. A nineteenth-century Russian revolutionary who had rejected the tenets of Eastern Orthodox Christianity might not have shaken off the Christian tradition of authoritarianism.
One element that communism inherited from its repudiated Christian background was the church's belief in its mission to convert the whole human race. Russian communism is, or at any rate began by being, a missionary religion. This is the aspect of it with which Mr McInnes is particularly concerned in his essay. He brings out the point that the features of Russian communism that were propitious for its victory in Russia have been handicaps for it abroad, and this especially in western countries. Moreover, the western industrial workers had been so successful in gaining an ever increasing share in the amenities of the bourgeois way of life that it had become inconceivable that they would turn back from the revisionist policy that had paid these dividends to a revolutionary policy that would now have jeopardized the workers' own economic and social gains in attacking the bourgeois regime. In fact, the western workers had become bourgeois-minded, whereas in Russia the bourgeois way of life had never gained a firm foothold.
Mr McInnes shows that the main effect of communism on western socialist and labour parties has been to sabotage their left wings and to drive their right wings farther and quicker towards the goal of absorption into bourgeois society - a goal towards which they were already moving and would no doubt have continued to move in any case, even if the advent of communism had not given them an additional push in this direction.
Would it be an exaggeration to say that, in the West, the ultimate effect of the impact of communism has been to make it doubly sure that the future of the West will be a bourgeois one?
Professor Richard Lowenthal analyses the nature and structure of the communist regime in the Soviet Union, and goes on to consider how far this has been taken as a model elsewhere.
He points out that the word 'Soviet', which is part of the official title of the country and of each of its constituent republics, does not correspond to the actual political facts. 'Soviet' means an elected committee, whereas in reality the Soviet government is not amenable to any elected body; it is a totalitarian single-party regime. The party's fiat is, indeed, not merely above the law; it is the law.
The totalitarian system of government was improvised by Lenin in the course of his seizure of power and was a necessary means to this end. He did not create the system out of nothing; he found it ready to hand (to a Russian hand, that is) in the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionary tradition. The nineteenth-century Russian revolutionaries had professed to be carrying out the will of the people, but in truth they had been, not the people's representatives, but self-appointed leaders who imposed their own will on their rank and file. Lenin was familiar with this tradition, and he followed it.
What is remarkable, and unusual, about Lenin's totalitarian regime is its success in surviving. It survived the defeat of the counter-revolutionaries in the Civil War; it survived the New Economic Policy. It succeeded in harnessing the Russian people's economic energies to purposes that were not the people's own, and it was thus able - at a high cost to Russia - to give the Russian economy and society an abiding twist in the direction of the Bolshevik ideology. Lenin and his companions were not visionaries, however. One of the reasons for their success was that they invariably sacrificed their ideology whenever this was proving an obstacle to their retaining their power and making headway with the process of modernization. They did succeed in creating a distinctively Russian new form of government. It was new in the sense that it demonstrated the capacity of ruthless government to drive a coach and horses through social 'laws' that had been thought, by Marx and by the liberals alike, to be immutable by man. The one thing that the Russian communist totalitarian regime has failed to do has been to achieve its professed, and never repudiated, objective of giving power to the proletariat and establishing an egalitarian society.
The Russian-ness of Lenin's communist totalitarianism made the fortune of this form of government in its, and Lenin's, own country. But its strong point at home in Russia has proved to be its weak point in western countries. The arbitrariness of this system of government has made it hard to swallow for western communists, who have been brought up, like other westerners, in the western, not the Russian, tradition. The Russian model has, in fact, been virtually abandoned by the French and Italian Communist Parties, which are the only two in the West that have come to play an important part in the national life of their respective countries.
On the other hand, totalitarianism of the Russian type has been seized upon, as the very tool that they needed for their purpose, by leaders of revolutionary movements in non-western countries whose objective was to modernize their peoples' lives on capitalist, not on communist, lines. Professor Lowenthal takes Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's political career as a classical example of this. Ataturk suppressed the Turkish communists, but at the same time he followed in Lenin's footsteps in his progressive imposition on Turkey of a totalitarian one-party regime. Mr Lowenthal points out, however, that this non-communist one-party regime in Turkey did not have the staying-power that its communist prototype in Russia has had. Opposition parties were allowed to revive in 1946, and in 1950 the party that had previously held the monopoly of power allowed itself to be put out of office by the verdict of a general election - a concession to liberalism that, in the Soviet Union, was still out of the question on the fiftieth anniversary of the revolution of 1917.
Professor Peter Wiles discusses the Soviet impact on economic policy in non-communist countries. His field is large, and, in each national compartment of it, he goes into illuminating detail. It would be superfluous to try to give a resume of this in the present introductory essay. Mr Wiles's general conclusion is that the non-communist governments and classes and peoples that have reacted, on the economic plane, to the Soviet impact have, in most cases, had no more than a vague idea of what the Soviet communist doctrines, objectives, and achievements really are. What they have been reacting to is an enigmatic new menacing presence in the world which might bear down upon them, with possibly dire consequences for them, if they did not forestall this danger by moving of their own accord in the direction in which their pursuer would drive them if they were ever to allow him to overtake them.
I have just called Soviet communism a 'new' menacing presence, but it might be more accurate to say that, for Jews, Christians, and Moslems, this is a familiar presence that has merely assumed a new dress. In the world of the Judaic religions, has not Soviet communism been playing the traditional role of the Devil, alias Satan or Iblis? The Devil's traditional service to human beings has been to scare them into doing things that they ought to do rather more quickly than they might have been willing to move if they had not observed that the Devil is on their tracks. If communism is performing this service for the non-communist world, we may presume that capitalism is performing it for communists. This reciprocal service as substitutes for the traditional devil is one of the rare useful functions of the two antithetical ideologies. In an age in which the historic religions are losing their former hold on human consciences, a convincing replacement of a no longer convincing devil may be one of the necessities of social life.
I cannot close this introductory chapter without expressing, on my fellow contributors' part, as well as on my own, our gratitude to Mrs Jane Degras, who has been most generous in bringing her expert knowledge to bear on the subjects with which this book, as a whole, is concerned, and who edited and prepared it for the press.

Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) was the nephew of Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883)

Sunday, March 04, 2001

American Caesar

Douglas MacArthuer (1880-1964)
by Willaim Manchester

IIV. At High Port (!944-1945)

{p. 438} He had no illusions about the savagery that lay ahead — he told Stimsom that Downfall would "cost over a million casualties to American forces alone" — but he was confident that twith the tanks from Europe he could outmaneuver the defenders on the great Kanto Plain before Tokyo. Whether he would be as adroit with Eisenhower's generals, not to mention Ike himslef, was another matter. Granting an interview to Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune, he said that the ETO {European Theater of Operations} commanders had made "every mistake that supposedly intelligent men could make," that "the North African operation was absolutely useless," that "the European strategy was to hammer stupidly against the enemy's strongest points," and that if he had been given "just a portion of the force" sent to North Africa in 1942, he "could have retaken the Phillippines in three months because at that time the Japanese were not ready."123

{p. 441} ...One of his first acts, he told Bonner Fellers, would be to give women the vote. "The japanese men won't like it," said Fellers, and indeed, as events would prove, many of them regarded it worse than sexual assauly. The General said, "I don't care. i want to discredit the military. Women don't like war."

VII. Last Post (1945-1950)

{p. 461} ...the Japanese Diet provided only the trappings of democracy. It was more authoritarian than the Riechstag. There was no middle class. Women were formally ranked as inferior beings. Real power was vested in the gumbatsu, the militarists, and, later, the zaibatsu, the eleven great industrial families — The Mitsubishis, Mituis, Su-
{p.462} mitomos, Yasudas, and the rest — who controlled 75 percent of the country's commerce, raw materials, and transportation. peasantrs were sharecroppers, shackled to the land by ground rents and surcharges, supporting 100,00 absentee landlords. The Jpanese religion, Shinto, which had been declared a "national structure" (kokutai in 1884 was not really a religion at all; it was what National Socialism would later be in Germany, an indigenous folk creed promoting the national character, the martial virtues, and the inferiority of other races. There were 110,000 Shinto shrines, all supporterd by the state. In addition, every home, down to the last thatched hut beside the most remotre rice paddy, had its small shrine, or "god shelf" (Kami-dana, at which the family would gather at certain times of the day to genuflect in the direction of the Imperial Palace. The people had no civil liberties, no civil rights, no habeus corpus. Instead they were given the absilute obligations to obey orders. Truth was unknown. The purpose of conversation was to be polite, not to convey information. The smallest departure from courtesy was prohibited by law. the kempei-tai, the Japanese gestapo, imprisoned countless thousands for harboring, or giving the impression of harboring, "dangerous thoughts." It was, MacArthur wrote, "more ... akin to Sparta than any modern nation." It was also imitative of Europena totalitarianism.5

{p. 472} ...Clearly a political hanami lay ahead, but the General's liberal programs were preempting the reform issue. Some Japanese had even mad a pun of their pronunciation of his name, "Makassar," since the kanji characters for it can be read as "left-red," and it became more appropriate with each decision he made. Moreover, the number of Marxist converts dropped sharply when Stalin, breaking a wartime commitment to roosevelt and Churchill here as in so many matters, decided to keep 376,00 Japanese soldiers of the Kwantung army, who had been stationed in Manchuria, as Siberian slave laborers.26

{p. 503} In Japan {women} had never been equal. Concubinage and family contract marriages, consigning wives to servility, had been lawful. Women had been forbidden to own property; indeed, they had had no economic, legal, or political rights at all. Girls had gone to their schools, if there were any, after the sixth grade. Public-scholl courses had been segregated by sex — with the curriculum and textws pitched lower for girls — and there had been no colleges for women. Adultry had been licit for husbands but illicit for wives. The new Diet had to face this form of sexism squarely in an early session. Under the MacArthur constitution, lawmakers had a choice: either
{p.504} both partners to an adultry were punishable, or neither was. After anhuished debate, the legislators invited correspondence from their constituents. In the past, voters had never written the Diet; the had read its edicts, trembled, and obeyed. Now, in the new spirit, a blizzard of mail arrived, and after reading it the delegates abolished adultry as a crime.

Contract marriage went; so did concubinage. Marriage and divorce statutes were rewritten. High schools became coeducational, and twenty-six women's universitites opened. In the provinces women were elected to public office in increasing numbers: 23 to the prefectural assemblies, 74 to the city councils, and 707 to town assemblies. by the third year of the occupation a tradition had been established that every national cabinet must include a woman vice-minister, and before macArthur left japan, two Diet committtees would be chaired by women...



123 MacArthur Reminiscences 261; Forrestal 17

5 Reischauer Japanese 78-84; MacArthur Reminiscences 284; Gavin M. Long 188; Sheean in Holiday 12/1949, "Making Milwaukee Famous," Newsweek 7/28/1947; Brines 27

26 Reischauer Japanese 105; "I Remember Mac," Newsweek 4/19/1948; "New Door to Asia," T 5/9/1949

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