I’ve read a few accounts of the immediately post-Russian Revolution era now. The US-Jew anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote a bitter repudiation of the commies with his The Bolshevik Myth, following his tour of Russia. You could make a case that Atlas Shrugged is a fictionalisation of the same years, transposed into the USA thirty years later. Ayn Rand stated that it was the economic collapse of 1921 in Russia that inspired the book and it certainly reads that way. Added to this short list is Paul Duke’s Red Dusk And The Morrow: Adventures And Investigations In Soviet Russia.
Towards the end of this book, after having savaged the Bolshevik system with a comprehensive strategic analysis, Paul Dukes relates a conversation he had with a returning Lithuanian diplomat . The diplomat had asked a prominent Bolshevik leader in Petrograd how they keep control. He’d replied:
“Our power is based on three things: first, on Jewish brains; secondly, on Lettish and Chinese bayonets; and thirdly, on the crass stupidity of the Russian people”.
Red Dusk was written in 1922 by a former MI6 spy sent by Whitehall to get abreast of the developing Russian situation immediately following the 1917 revolution. The first half is a memoir of his infiltration, poking around, and escape. The second half is an overview of how the Bolshevik regime is run.
Dukes explains the Jewish brains of the above quote is a half-truth. He observed that almost all the intellectual work of the Party was given to Jews, but he points out there were at least as many Jews who were opposed to the regime. Only, they were all in prison and couldn’t offer a public opinion. Whereas Churchill or Solzhenitsyn consider the Bolshevik regime to be a Jewish attack upon Russia, Dukes seems to think it was mostly a put-up job by foreign radicals who’d grabbed the megaphone and the Army.
He describes many cases where soldiers in Petrograd and Moscow could not be relied upon to shoot at their fellow man, so the Bolsheviks imported their enforcers from Eastern Russia and Latvia. Foreigners have no such compunctions.
Where Dukes disagrees with the unnamed Bolshevik leader’s comment is in the Russian people. Throughout the book Dukes speaks highly of the peasants in particular, saying they were mostly outside the Bolshevik propaganda system due to distance and a poor rail network. 1920s Russia lacked radio and television, and pamphlets were used as roll-up paper for marchorka cigarettes. So, unlike the populations of cities who were constantly bombarded with speeches, councils, and parades, the peasants just got on with their lives .
Dukes believes that for the whole of his time in Russia, the populace believed Bolshevik rule was a passing phase. They were so utterly incompetent and venal that few believed the regime could last. Remember the civil war was still going on, with the (Allies-supported) White army fighting the Reds in the West and the South. Dukes argues that the Whites were themselves venal and brutal but had the additional handicap of representing the former Tsarist landlords and often shot themselves in the foot by declaring they’d return the seized land occupied by peasants back to it’s aristocratic former owners.
Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with the peasants.
Faced between a brutal, incompetent and likely transitory regime with the Reds, or the same thing with the Whites but likely to return to a centuries-old status quo, the peasants and city dwellers weren’t particularly inclined to get involved. Naturally, they never foresaw Stalin’s rise to power and his utter destruction of the country.
“Every Communist organisation throughout Russia has to present periodical reports to headquarters on the progress of its [recruiting] labours… Thus it is in the interest of the Communist officials to coax, cajole, or even compel soldiers to enter the ranks of the Party. The statistics supplied are compiled at headquarters and summaries are published. It is according to these statistics that the membership of the Communist Party is little more than half a million, out of the 120 or 130 million inhabitants of Soviet Russia.”
Remember this when looking at the Left now. The true believers are a tiny proportion of the population. The Right is much bigger than the Left and always has been. As all the money is stripped from the Left, preventing it funding all the astro-turfing like Black Lives Matter, the European Union, NGOs, and public sector unions, we see it’s true size.
Everyone hated the commies and, as Dukes describes, when they carried out a 1921 purge of party membership to remove people who’d joined simply as grifters looking for better rations and housing, their membership took a harder than anticipated hit:
“The result was that, besides those who were expelled for misdemeanours, many Communists, disquieted by the introduction of so stringent a disciplinary measure, profited by the re-registration to retire, and the membership was reduced by more than 50 per cent. A total of less than 4,000 was left out of a population [of Petrograd] of 800,000”
He paints a picture of unbelievable delusion and duplicity. First he explains how Bolshevism and the Soviets are completely different things, and completely at odds. By Bolshevism he means the Party, its members, its ideology and its actual practices. By Soviets he means the bottom-up collectivisation of factories, farms, and housing in which small councils are elected which then send representatives up a tier and so on right up to national government.
As anyone who has ever been in a meeting with Lefties knows, especially of the modern SJW variety, these people have absolutely zero respect for democracy.
Dukes gives numerous examples, noting first that only Communists were allowed to be elected to soviets, and thus despite being only a tiny fraction of the population they controlled all of the institutions. Elections were nominally free and non-Party candidates could stand but this rarely happened because (i) Despite having secret ballots as a Party principle before seizing power, they immediately reneged on it once in power  and (ii) anyone standing as or voting for a non-Party candidate would be harassed, arrested, and possibly shot.
This led to the bizarre situation where the Bolsheviks would operate sham Soviets, constantly exhort their centrality to the revolution being “of the worker” but no-one believed a word of it.
Dukes also points out that although the Bolsheviks claimed to rule for the workers, no workers were actually allowed to join the Party! Membership was almost entirely the intelligentsia and former Tsarist experts brought back to rescue the Bolshevik administration form its own chaos. It wasn’t until the commies were desperately trying to grow membership following the disastrous 1921 purge that they opened up places to some workers.
Not a lot happens in the memoir portion of the book because Dukes explains he had to leave out any stories that could be traced to people still living in Russia and, given this was written only a year after he escaped, that’s a lot of people and likely all his best stories. So instead he gives a glimpse into life in Petrograd and the border regions with Finland. It’s dismal, and chimes exactly with how Berkman and Rand describe it.
Most striking to me is the constant flirtation with famine, the utter pointlessness of Party decrees , the atmosphere of permanent suspicion and betrayal, and lastly how pretty much everyone ends up getting shot by the Bolsheviks eventually. Their solution to everything was either issue a decree or murder whoever was causing them irritation.
Most people in the UK and USA don’t realise how close we came to tyranny in 2016. Even as Donald Trump is fixing the world, half the population is trying to reinstate the Communist traitors who almost turned the USA into another USSR. As I read this book I was constantly looking for parallels with current times and they abound. The Left of 1922 is the same Left of 2018. The only difference is the amount of power they hold.
If you’d like to get your hands on some great memoirs, just hold your horses two weeks until I announce what I’ve been working on lately.
1. This is in 1922 and thus before Russia invaded Lithuania and forced it into the USSR
2. Stalin would change that rather dramatically
3. “One person, one vote, once” is the real Communist attitude to democracy.
4. As if you can ban famine by simply decreeing it illegal