World Significance of the Russian Revolution - G. Pitt Rivers

Prefatory Letter

Dear Mr. Pitt-Rivers,

When you first handed me your MS. on The World Significance of the Russian Revolution, you expressed a doubt about the propriety of its title. After a perusal of your work, I can assure you, with the best of consciences, that your misgivings were entirely without foundation. No better title than The World Significance of the Russian Revolution could have been chosen, for no event in any age will finally have more significance for our world than this one. We are still too near to see clearly this Revolution, this portentous event, which was certainly one of the most intimate, and therefore least obvious, aims of the world-conflagration, hidden as it was at first by the fire and the smoke of national enthusiasms and patriotic antagonisms. It was certainly very plucky of you to try and throw some light upon an event which necessarily must still be enveloped in mist and mystery, and I was even somewhat anxious, lest your audacity in treating such a dangerous subject would end in failure, or what is nearly the same, in ephemeral success. No age is so voracious of its printed offspring as ours. There was thus some reason to fear lest you had offered to this modern Kronos only another mouthful of his accustomed nourishment for his immediate consumption.

I was, I am glad to report, agreeably surprised, — surprised, though not by the many new facts which you give, and which must surprise all those who take an Interest in current events — facts, I believe, which you have carefully and personally collected and selected, not only from books, but from the lips and letters of Russian eye-witnesses and sufferers, from foes as well as from friends of the great Revolution. What I appreciate more than this new light thrown on a dark subject, more than the conclusion drawn by you from this wealth of facts, is the psychological insight which you display in detecting the reasons why a movement so extraordinarily bestial and so violently crazy as the Revolution was able to succeed and finally to overcome its adversaries. For we are confronted with two questions which need answering and which, in my opinion, you have answered in your pamphlet. These questions are: (1) How has the Soviet Government, admittedly the Government of an insignificant minority, succeeded not only in maintaining but in strengthening its position in Russia after two and a half years of power? And (2) Why has the Soviet Government, in spite of its outward bestiality and brutal tyranny succeeded in gaining the sympathies of an increasing number of people in this country? You give the answer: Bolshevism was opposed by Democracy only, and a Democracy which was too cowardly to draw the last consequences of its own creed, which, of course, is ultimately nothing else but Bolshevism. The Bolshevist simply did what his father, Mr. Democrat, said he would do if he could but never dared to do — hence the latter's vacillation and hypocrisy and failure, hence the former's energy, sincerity and success. "No movement" you rightly say on p. 14 about the "White Opposition" — "representing a heterogeneous jumble of contradictory elements can ever defeat another movement, which at any rate knows its own mind and allows of no compromise." . . . . What, then, is this wonderful "own mind" of the Bolshevists? You rightly recognize that there is an ideology behind it and you clearly diagnose it as an ancient ideology. There is nothing new under the Sun, it is even nothing new that this Sun rises in the East. The Sun has a habit of rising there, his rays, thousands of years ago, used to select for a first visit the deserts and mountains of Palestine, where lonely Prophets caught this radiance and whence eager apostles brought it to pagan and less "enlightened" countries. It was by them that the light was carried to Europe, where, it is true, it was received at first somewhat unwillingly and distrustfully. After a couple of centuries this resistance was overcome, and moreover, what yonder was called the Reign of God and the Millennium of Brotherhood, became with us in Europe the "Reign of Liberty," the "Reign of Reason," the "Reign of Equality," and finally the "Reign of the Proletariat."

We all remember from History these passionate followers of St. Peter and St. Paul — though more of the latter than the former — who, in Apostolic succession saw the coming "Dawn," and preached the Holy Faith. There is a direct line from Savonarola to Luther, and from Luther to Robespierre, and from Robespierre to Lenin . . Lenin, the Lenin of today, may have been partially converted by that experience of men and affairs which has converted many an enthusiast and, alas! has frequently made a cynic or a rogue of him: one certain thing that may be gathered from his writings is this, that he was before the Revolution a dreamer and a visionary, and one quite worthy of his spiritual ancestors, of whom I have only named some, while omitting many other important names. It is quite certain that he started his revolutionary career as a true and convinced Apostle of "Light and Faith," which he preached as the orthodox disciple of his spiritual father, who inspired the "Newest" testament "Das Capital!" In M. Landau Aldanov's book, Lenine, there is to be found an account of a young student who visited the Smolny Institute in order to witness the first public appearance of Lenin after the Bolshevist coup d'etat. Neither Trotsky nor the others made much impression upon the young man, but Lenin received with rapturous applause completely turned his head. "One could not say that it was a political harangue. It was the cry from the soul of a man who had waited thirty years for that moment." "I thought," the witness adds, "that I was listening to the voice of Girolamo Savonarola!" . . . Poor Savonarola — he, a man no doubt of finer grain than his Russian progeny, was heard complaining one day, that he had to fight for his Heaven with the weapons of Hell.

"To Hell with such a Heaven!" That is the answer that you, would give to the outpourings of these enthusiasts and fanatics. You could give that answer honestly, indignantly, even passionately. For you have lost faith in Democracy and yours has become another aim, another valuation, another vision for the future of Mankind. One day, it is quite certain, this vision of yours will overcome its inspired opponent, whose representative now sits, though none too safely, upon his bloodstained throne. "A definite, positive movement," to quote your own words, "alone can defeat another definite movement!" But how could the undefined and undefinable Democrats, the Democrats of Statistics and Economics, the frequenters of Lecture Rooms and Debating Societies, the professors of "progress and evolution," ever even dare to oppose a movement that realised so gloriously what they themselves had always professed to believe, to hope, and to cherish! How could they ever venture to attack with their paper-dart arguments the heavy armour plate of pure conscience and inspired belief? How could this democratic powder ever allow itself to collide with the Bolshevist fire? For Bolshevism is a religion and a faith. How could these half-converted believers ever dream to vanquish the "Truthful" and the "Faithful" of their own creed, these holy crusaders, who had gathered round the Red Standard of the Prophet Karl Marx, and who fought under the daring guidance of these experienced officers of all latter-day revolutions — the Jews?

I am touching here on a subject which, to judge from your own pamphlet, is perhaps more interesting to you than any other. In this you are right. There is no race in the world more enigmatic, more fatal, and therefore more interesting than the Jews. Every writer who, like yourself, is oppressed by the aspect of the present and embarrassed by his anxiety for the future must try to elucidate the Jewish question and its bearing upon our Age. For the question of the Jews and their influence on the world past and present, cuts to the root of all things, and should be discussed by every honest thinker, however bristling with difficulties it is, however complex the subject as well as the individuals of this Race may be. For the Jews, as you are aware, are a sensitive Community, and thus very suspicious of any Gentile who tries to approach them with a critical mind. They are always inclined — and that on account of their terrible experiences — to denounce anyone who is not with them as against them, as tainted with "mediaeval" prejudice, as an intolerant Antagonist of their Faith and of their Race.

Nor could or would I deny that there is some evidence, some prima facie evidence of this antagonistic attitude in your pamphlet. You point out, and with fine indignation, the great danger that springs from the prevalence of Jews in finance and industry, and from the preponderance of Jews in rebellion and revolution. You reveal, and with great fervour, the connection between the Collectivism of the immensely rich international Finance — the Democracy of cash values, as you call it — and the International Collectivism of Karl Marx and Trotsky — the Democracy of and by decoy-cries. . . . And all this evil and misery, the economic as well as the political, you trace back to one source, to one "fons et origo malorum" — the Jews.

Now other Jews may vilify and crucify you for these outspoken views of yours; I myself shall abstain from joining the chorus of condemnation! I shall try to understand your opinions and your feelings, and having once understood them — as I think I have — I can defend you from the unjust attacks of my often too impetuous Race.

But first of all, I have to say this: There is scarcely an event in modern Europe that cannot be traced back to the Jews. Take the Great War that appears to have come to an end, ask yourself what were its causes and its reasons: you will find them in nationalism. You will at once answer that nationalism has nothing to do with the Jews, who, as you have just proved to us, are the inventors of the international idea. But no less than Bolshevist Ecstasy and Financial Tyranny can National Bigotry (if I may call it so) be finally followed back to a Jewish source — are not they the inventors of the Chosen People Myth, and is not this obsession part and parcel of the political credo of every modern nation, however small and insignificant it may be? And then think of the history of nationalism. It started in our time as a reaction against Napoleon; Napoleon was the antagonist of the French Revolution; the French Revolution was the consequence of the German Reformation; the German Reformation was based upon a crude Christianity; this kind of Christianity was invented, preached and propagated by the Jews: therefore the Jews have made this war! . . . Please do not think this a joke: it only seems a joke, and behind it there lurks a gigantic truth, and it is this, that all latter-day ideas and movements have originally sprung from a Jewish source, for the simple reason, that the Semitic idea has finally conquered and entirely subdued this only apparently irreligious universe of ours.

It has conquered it through Christianity, which of course, as Disraeli pointed out long ago, is nothing but "Judaism for the people." The Ideal of Democracy contained in this appeal of the Jews to the people was their successful battle cry, their most wonderful propaganda work, their "Dieu le veult," that finally forced the world to follow them. With it they have inspired — or, if you will, infected — Lollards and Hussites, Protestants and Puritans, Socialists and Bolshevists alike. Now Democracy, as we all know, declares — or pretends to proclaim — everybody free and equal: it was therefore bound to destroy the bond, feudal or patriarchal, between lord and serf, master and servant, and it replaced it, had to replace it, by another bond (a bond it had to invent for the occasion) that of wages and salaries. Democracy, as we all know, abolished slavery — that natural slavery in which the master took an interest in his slaves, because they were part and parcel of his most valuable property; but it reintroduced it in the form of Wage Tyranny, by means of which the "freed" serf could be freely exploited and even squashed out like a lemon without any harm being done to the Master's interests. Thus ended this glorious liberty principle of the Reformation and the Revolution: the finest theory that has ever been invented for the most miserable of all practices, that have ever defiled this world. No doubt the Jews are responsible for this, as they are responsible for everything, because they are the spiritual fathers of Democracy and therefore of plutocracy.

But now let me ask you this one question: "Have they perchance introduced these theories into this country? Were Cromwell and his Ironsides Jews? Was the Puritan Revolution inspired by an English Trotsky? Was Charles I beheaded at the bidding of a Jewish commissary of the people? . . . Why, there were no Jews in this country before Cromwell. The Roundheads of the Great Rebellion, it is true, chanted and rechanted the Hebrew psalms, but their poetry alone and not the poets themselves had up to this time been admitted to England. The Christians did the wonderful thing all by themselves, just to prove to the world, what good Jews they could be if "the Spirit moved them!" And when Jews were once admitted, they and the Christians alike became the victims as well as the exploiters of this Puritanism, this democracy, this idealism, this plutocracy. The Scotch and American financier succeeded as well as his brother of the original Puritan faith. The Christian usurer took his pound of flesh with the same gusto as did his colleague of the Jewish persuasion. And as to the factory system, that destroyed and destroys the soul and body of men as well as the bounty and beauty of the land; it has been and is carried on by blonde and flatnosed Jews — at least in this country — as successfully as by their dark and sharp-featured brethren on the Continent of Europe.

All this "tu-quoque" argument is, of course, no excuse whatever for the Jews. There is no doubt that the Jews regularly go one better or worse than the Gentile in whatever they do, there is no further doubt that their influence to-day justifies a very careful scrutiny, and cannot possibly be viewed without serious alarm. The great question, however, is whether the Jews are conscious or unconscious malefactors. I myself am firmly convinced that they are unconscious ones, but please do not think that I wish to exonerate them on that account. . . . A conscious evil-doer has my respect, for he knows at least what is good, an unconscious one — well: he needs the charity of Christ — a charity which is not mine — to be forgiven for not knowing what he is doing. But there is in my firm conviction not the slightest doubt that these revolutionary Jews do not know what they are doing; that they are more unconscious sinners than voluntary evil-doers. I am glad to see that this is not an original observation of mine, but that you yourself have a very strong foreboding about the Jews being the victims of their own theories and principles. . . . On p. 39 of your pamphlet you write: "It may be that the Jews have always been instrumental in bringing about the events that they most heartily disapprove of; that maybe is the curse of the Wandering Jew." If I had not the honour, as well as the pleasure, of knowing you personally, if I were not strongly aware of your passionate desire for light and your intense loathing of unfairness, this sentence, and this sentence alone, which tells the truth, will absolve you in my eyes from the odious charge of being a vulgar anti-Semite. No, you are not a vulgar, you are a very enlightened, critic of our Race. For there is an antisemitism, I hope and trust, which does the Jews more justice than any blind philo-semitism, than does that merely sentimental "Let-them-all-come Liberalism," which in itself is nothing but the Semitic Ideology over again. And thus you can be just to the Jews, without being "romantic" about them. You have noticed with alarm that the Jewish elements provide the driving forces for both communism and capitalism, for the material as well as the spiritual ruin of this world. But then you have at the same time the profound suspicion that the reason of all this extraordinary behaviour may be the intense Idealism of the Jew. In this you are perfectly right. The Jew, if caught by an idea, never thinks any more in water-tight compartments, as do the Teuton and Anglo-Saxon peoples, whose right cerebral hemisphere never seems to know what its left twin brother is doing: he, the Jew, like the Russian, at once begins to practise what he preaches, he draws the logical conclusion from his tenets, he invariably acts upon his accepted principles. It is from this quality, no doubt, that springs his mysterious force — that force, which you no doubt condemn, but which you had to admire even in the Bolshevists.

And we must admire it, whether we are Jews or whether we are Christians, for have not these modern Jews remained true to type, is there no parallel for them in history, do they not go to the bitter end even in our day, do they not take the Cross upon their shoulders, as once did their great Brother in Race? Their brother in Race as well as in Revolution, He, against whom the accusation, as found in the Gospel of St. Luke xxiii. 5, ran, "He stirreth up the people teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place." . . . . Who stirred up the people during the late war in Germany? Who pretended to have again the truth, that truth about which Pontius Pilate once shrugged his shoulders? Who pleaded for honesty and cleanliness in Politics, that honesty which brings a smile to the lips of any experienced Pro-consul of to-day? Writers, who were mostly Jews: Fried, Fernau, Latzko, Richard Grelling — the author of "J' Accuse." Who was killed, and allowed himself to be killed for these very ideas and principles? Men and women of the Jewish Race: Haase, Levine, Luxemburg, Landauer, Kurt Eisner, the Prime Minister of Bavaria. . . . From Moses to Marx, from Isajah to Eisner, in practice and in theory, in idealism and in materialism, in philosophy and in politics, they are today what they have always been: passionately devoted to their aims and to their purposes, and ready, nay, eager, to shed their last drop of blood for the realisation of their visions.

"But these visions are all wrong," you will reply. . . . "Look where they have led the world to. Think, that they have now had a fair trial of 3,000 years standing. How much longer are you going to recommend them to us and to inflict them upon us? And how do you propose to get us out of the morass into which you have launched us, if you do not change the path upon which you have led the world so disastrously astray?"

To this question I have only one answer to give, and it is this: "You are right." This reproach of yours, which — I feel it for certain — is at the bottom of your anti-Semitism, is only too well justified, and upon this common ground I am quite willing to shake hands with you and defend you against any accusation of promoting Race Hatred: If you are anti-Semite, I, the Semite, am an anti-Semite too, and a much more fervent one than even you are. We have erred, my friend, we have most grievously erred. And if there was truth in our error 3,000, 2,000, nay, a 100 years ago, there is now nothing but falseness and madness, a madness that will produce an even greater misery and an ever wider anarchy. I confess it to you, openly and sincerely, and with a sorrow, whose depth and pain an ancient Psalmist, and only he, could moan into this burning universe of ours. . . . We who have posed as the saviours of the world, we, who have even boasted of having given it "the" Saviour, we are to-day nothing else but the world's seducers, its destroyers, its incendiaries, its executioners. . . . We who have promised to lead you to a new Heaven, we have finally succeeded in landing you into a new Hell. . . . There has been no progress, least of all moral progress. . . . And it is just our Morality, which has prohibited all real progress, and — what is worse — which even stands in the way of every future and natural reconstruction in this ruined world of ours. . . . I look at this world, and I shudder at its ghastliness: I shudder all the more, as I know the spiritual authors of all this ghastliness. . . .

But its authors themselves, unconscious in this as in all they are doing, know nothing yet of this startling revelation. While Europe is aflame, while its victims scream, while its dogs howl in the conflagration, and while its very smoke descends in darker and even darker shades upon our Continent, the Jews, or at least a part of them, and by no means the most unworthy one, endeavour to escape from the burning building, and wish to retire from Europe into Asia, from the sombre scene of our disaster into the sunny corner of their Palestine. Their eyes are closed to the miseries, their ears are deaf to the moanings, their heart is hardened to the anarchy of Europe: they only feel their own sorrows, they only bewail their own fate, they only sigh under their own burdens. . . . They know nothing of their duty to Europe, which looks around in vain for help and guidance, they know nothing even of their own great ancestors, to whose heart the appeal of pity was never made in vain: they have become too poor in love, too sick at heart, too tired of battle, and lo! these sons of those who were once the bravest of soldiers are now trying to retire from the trenches to the rear, are now eager to exchange the grim music of the whistling shells with that of the cow-bells and vintage songs in the happy plain of Saron. . . .

And yet we are not all Financiers, we are not all Bolshevists, we have not all become Zionists. . . . And yet there is hope, great hope, that this same Race which has provided the Evil will likewise succeed in supplying its antidote, its remedy — the Good. It has always been so in the past — was not that fatal Liberalism, which has finally led to Bolshevism — in the very midst of that dark nineteenth century, most strenuously opposed by two enlightened Jews — by Friedrich Stahl, the founder of the Conservative Party in Germany, and by Benjamin Disraeli, the leader of the Tory Party in England? And if these two eminent men had no suspicion yet that their own race and its holy message were at the bottom of that unfortunate upheaval, with which their age was confronted: how eager, how determined, how passionate will be the opposition of the Disraelis of the future, once they have clearly recognised that they are really fighting the tenets of their own people, and that it was their "Good," their "Love," their "Ideal," that had launched the world into this Hell of Evil and Hatred. A new "Good," as new Love, a true Love, an intelligent Love, a Love that calms and heals and sweetens will then spring up amongst the Great in Israel and overcome that sickly Love, that insipid Love, that romantic Love, which has hitherto poisoned all the Strength and all the Nobility of this world. For Hatred is never overcome by Hatred: it is only overcome by Love, and it wants a new and a gigantic Love, to subdue that old and devilish Hatred of to-day. That is our task for the future — a task which will, I am sure, not be shirked by Israel, by that same Israel which has never shirked a task — whether it was for good, or whether it was for evil. . . .

Yes, there is hope, my friend, for we are still here, our last word is not yet spoken, our last deed is not yet done, our last revolution is not yet made. This last Revolution, the Revolution that will crown our revolutionary work, will be the revolution against the revolutionaries. It is bound to come, and it is perhaps upon us now. The great day of reckoning is near. It will pass a judgment upon our ancient faith, and it will lay the foundation to a new religion. And when that great day has broken, when the values of death and decay are put into the melting-pot to be changed into those of power and beauty, then you, my dear Pitt-Rivers, the descendant of an old and distinguished Gentile family, may be assured to find by your side, and as your faithful ally, at least one member of that Jewish Race, which has fought with such fatal success upon all the spiritual battlefields of Europe.

Yours against the Revolution and for Life ever flourishing,

—Oscar Levy.

Royal Societies Club,
St. James' Street,
London, S.W.
July, 1920.

Power quickly passed from the middle to the extreme. The middle, the Kerensky party, was the party of compromise, indecision, vacillation, greedy opportunism, inept utopianism and hopeless incompetence. The middle was aided by the extreme in the initial stage for the latter's own purpose, and cast aside as soon as it had served its purpose. In the same way the extreme was also aided by Germany, who hoped thereby to score against the Allies.