The October Revolution in the American Press

28. Greetings to Russian Artists

In April 1918, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, composed of American authors, artists and composers, sent their greetings to fellow artists in Russia.

We rejoice with you in the success of the recent revolution by which, once for all, a death-blow has been given to Russian autocracy by this courage, this devotedness and the wise moderation of the leaders of the people, ensuring to your great country the blessings of representative government.

We congratulate you on this result, the more particularly because, like you, we are not merely practitioners of our several arts but citizens of the great world of idealism, which through the long and desperate contest for a free Russia, you have so nobly represented by your loyalty to the spirit of liberty.

With you we honor the names of those great writers and other artists no longer living who have contributed so largely to the result by their vision and their courage, and whose fame will forever be a cherished possession, not only of Russia, but of America and of all the rest of civilized mankind.

America welcomes your country to the family of the world's democracies. With one master stroke the leaders of the Russian people have made the greatest reinforcement of half a century to the cause of popular government. Your own contributions to this in sacrifice and wisdom are fortunate omens for the future of your country, and reassures us that only by the vigilance of the people can their rights be safeguarded against the intrigues of a reigning caste long entrenched in power and secrecy. We look forward to the time when your example in throwing off the yoke of tyranny shall inspire other nations with a like resolve.

At this moment, when America is enlisted with Russia and her intrepid allies in combating the last effort of autocracy to maintain its foothold against the tide of democratic aspiration, we extend to you the open hand of fellowship and pledge to you in the cause of human freedom and brotherhood, our sympathy, our faith and our utmost and unremitting cooperation.

- The Art World, May 1918.

29. Conference Endorses Soviets

The following report is important in illustrating support for the Bolshevik revolution by labour, radical and socialist groups. The resolution protesting armed intervention in Siberia by the United States is significant in revealing that although it was not until 16 August 1918 that the first American detachments landed in Siberia, reactionary forces were already at work in early May to destroy the revolution. Wilson was under great pressure from Britain and France to support the Japanese invasion of Siberia and to send in an American force. Although he resisted this pressure for several months, Wilson did eventually consent to send American troops.

The three-day conference of labor, radical and Socialist groups adjourned last night after having passed resolutions endorsing “the revolutionary spirit of the labor and reconstruction program of the Russian Soviets and the British Labour party. The 216 delegates present represented 29 states, 16 trade unions, 20 locals of the People’s Council, 17 Socialist Party branches and central or local organizations of the Socialist Consumers’ League, the Young People’s Socialist League, the Fabian Society, the Women’s Peace party, the National Civil Liberties Bureau (represented by its entire executive board), the American Union Against Militarism, the Collegiate Anti-Militarist League, the League of Small Nations, the American Liberties Defense Union, the Workmen’s Circle, the James Connolly Socialist Club, the League for Democratic Control, the Professional League and the New Thought Society.

The text of the resolutions on the work of Russian Soviets and the British Labour party is as follows:

“The second conference of labor, Socialist and radical movements declares that we are in full accord with the revolutionary spirit of the labor and reconstruction program of the Russian Soviets and the British Labour party. This conference feels it incumbent upon American labor to adopt a plan embodying the same revolutionary spirit in a form adapted to American conditions...”

The resolution protesting against intervention in Siberia, as presented by Mrs. Rose Pastor Stokes, and which was unanimously adopted, read:

“Whereas, daily efforts are being made by reactionary forces in the United States in favor of armed intervention in Siberia by the United States, and whereas in Finland and Ukraine and in other parts of Russia it has been shown that the Bolshevik forces are the only organized opposition in Russia to German imperialism; and whereas, the forces which have cooperated with German militarism to crush the revolutionary democracy of Russia appear to be the same forces which are working for Siberian intervention, therefore, be it resolved, that this assembly emphatically condemns such policy of armed intervention in Siberia.”

- New York Evening Call, 6 May 1918.

30. A Dream No Longer

Abraham Cahan, editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, the most widely read Yiddish language newspaper in the United States, had been among the few socialists who had refused to endorse the party’s otherwise enthusiastic support of the Bolshevik revolution. But when Cahan learned that the Bolshevik government was erecting a statue of Karl Marx in Moscow, he urged that every socialist critic of the Bolsheviks, “should forget his former feelings and become inspired with affection and enthusiasm for them." Cahan’s “affection and enthusiasm’’ lasted until 1922 when he began to feature anti-Soviet articles.

Some days have passed since we published the special telegram from our Petrograd correspondent, telling us, among other things, that the Bolshevik government had erected a monument to Karl Marx in Moscow. Some days have passed and that statement won’t leave my mind.

Whatever I say, whatever I do, the picture is continually thrusting itself upon my imagination: a statue of Karl Marx in the very heart of the Kremlin, in the very heart of that section of Moscow 'sacred' to the palaces and temples of the Tsars.

A statue of Karl Marx in the Kremlin! A monument to the father of the Socialist movement in the “holy of holies” of Russian darkness and Russian despotism! It sounds incredible, but it is true nevertheless. It is a gorgeous piece of historical reality.

Those who are not familiar with Russia and her history will scarcely realize to the full what it means. The Kremlin was the most important, the most inviolable, the most awe-inspiring spot in the Russia of the Tsars. There it was where the despotic rulers were crowned ever since Moscow became Moscow. Every inch of the ground in the Kremlin was sacred ground. The remains of the old Tsars lie there. The throne of the Tsars stands there. The oldest and greatest churches and the most gigantic church bells are there. And now behold—a statue of Karl Marx stands there.

What has been one of our golden dreams has become an inspiring actuality.

It seems to me that in view of that glorious monument to Marx which now stands in the Kremlin the most bitter opponent of the Bolsheviki among our comrades should forget his former feelings and become inspired with affection and enthusiasm for them.

The First of May festival was combined in Moscow with the celebration of Karl Marx’s hundredth birthday. It was the Socialist government of Russia that celebrated the two events. A national holiday was made of it. Workingmen marched through the streets, and with them the ministers and all other officials now residing in Moscow.

Ah; what a joy it would have been for us comrades of New York to participate in that pageant!

Truly, it reads like a story of the coming of the Messiah.

How, then, can one bear the Bolsheviki a grudge? How can one experience anything like a hostile feeling against them?

We have criticized them; some of their utterances often irritate us; but who can help rejoicing in the triumph? Who can help going into ecstasy over the Socialist spirit which they have enthroned in the country, which they now rule.

The antagonists of the Bolsheviki are continually endeavoring to show that it will be impossible for them to retain their power. The present writer has remarked on more occasions than one that there is nothing in the program and aspirations of the Bolsheviki; that nothing, in fact, is impossible these days. And now, as one visualizes that monument to Karl Marx, as it rears its venerable head in the Kremlin, one’s heart swells with an ardent wish, with a prayer, that their victory should prove to be a lasting victory and that the exalted figure of Marx should forever remain standing in the Kremlin.

Try to picture the Bolsheviki driven from power and the monument to Karl Marx dashed to the ground—can a real Socialist afford to wish for such a day?

Our cherished dream has come true.

If 15 years ago, some one had depicted Tsar Nicholas as an inmate of a Siberian prison, while a Socialist government is erecting a monument to Karl Marx, he would have been set down for a madman, yet this is exactly what has taken place; and with this vision for a hard tangible fact, the hope of seeing Socialism established all over the world is no longer a piece of remote idealism but something on the threshold of realization.

When the Bolsheviki had brought about their revolution, the present writer was one of those who criticized them adversely. He acclaimed as well as criticized them, in fact. But since then there have been so many changes; so many great events have taken place. We are living at a time so eventful that a single day is often more pregnant with epoch-making occurrences than is a quarter of a century in ordinary times. Circumstances are altering cases so rapidly that what was white yesterday may be black today and what is black today may become white in 24 hours. Where is the sense then in assailing the Bolsheviki with the same arguments which were advanced against them seven months ago? Indeed, such arguments sound like the words of an old calendar.

At the end of seven months we see the Bolsheviki not weaker as has been predicted, but much stronger than they were, stronger in their grip upon the country and stronger as a moral force. Many of their sworn enemies, even among capitalists, have since been fascinated by them. How, then, are we Socialists to tell?

Is it not about time for all of us to cast off our former bitterness and venom? Is it not about time to clear our hearts of all factional pique, fix our mind’s eye upon the monument to Karl Marx as it stands in Moscow and wish our victorious comrades in Russia further success and happiness?

- Jewish Daily Forward, 17 May 1918. (An English translation was published in the New York Evening Call, 30 May 1918.)

31. A New Page in History

... I am safe in saying that for the historian of the future, the revolution in Russia will be of greater importance than the entire war. The war will pass some day; it cannot last forever. Conditions in the world will be readjusted. But the fact that one of the greatest countries in the world has broken away from the old capitalistic moorings, has once and for all turned a new page in history, a page of the domination, of the control, of the rule of the people, instead of ruler, the fact that this country has broken all past traditions, all past prejudices, the fact that it has created a living idea for the workers of all countries to follow— that cannot pass without the most vital effect upon the whole world.

- Morris Hillquit, Address to Convention, Report and Proceedings, Fourteenth Convention of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, Boston, Mass., 20 May to 1 June 1918, 142.