The Daily Telegraph

1917 – AND NOW.


Those of us who know both England and Russia will not be deluded into expecting the same results here as in Russia. The strong similariti­es which we see in the two situations – the Russian in 1917, and our own now – are interestin­g to us primarily as proofs that the organisati­on is in both cases the same. In nearly all other respects the data are quite different. Bolshevism, on near acquaintan­ce, has had a complete set-back in England in the last six months. The present tangle is due, indeed, to the universal disgust of war, but also to a distinctiv­ely British instinct of aversion from interventi­on in the affairs of other countries. Those of us who have taken part in British action in Russia, whether we believed or did not believe in the efficacy of military assistance, have practicall­y all interprete­d our task – as indeed our Government from the outset interprete­d it – as helping forward a settlement of all Russian affairs by a majority of the Russian people, and by no one else. But these aspects of the question are only for those who know that Russia has been turned into a vast No Man’s Land, and that precisely the crime of the Bolsheviks is that they have destroyed those elements which might have made possible a Russian settlement for Russia.

Some of us have long watched the slow and difficult growth of those elements, and we have realised that their wholesale destructio­n is not revolution at all, but sheer coup d’état, reaction, and oligarchy. But this, so apparent to the average Englishman of any class who knows Russia, cannot possibly be realised by those who only know England or Western Europe; and there is no instinct of which Englishmen have more reason to be proud than that which tells them to leave other people to settle their own questions. It is this factor that has made possible the present political position; and that very instinct which makes Englishmen unwilling to intervene; whether in Russian or in Polish affairs, will serve us from the moment that it is a question of imposing on England itself an entirely anti-democratic régime of foreign origin. In the disentangl­ing of these two totally different issues consists the statesmans­hip of the present, and for no one more than for the British Labour party, which now stands at the threshold of success and power, and has infinitely more to teach Russia than to learn from her.

As to Russian affairs – and this was impossible as to our own – England has been fed for months past on what is exactly the opposite of, the perversion of, knowledge – pure party propaganda.

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