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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 17.djvu/134

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BOLSHEVISM US BOLSHEVISM

by the Intemational Socialist Commission at Berne, the wealth-owning classes and land-owning peasants The Bolshevist proclamation of 1 May, 1916, con- came as a natural result of the principle of class tained a direct appeal to "the conquest of political war, which was proclaimed as the basic credo of power and abolition of private property by the triumphant Communism. Wholesale executions, working class*' as the only guaranty for "immediate drastic persecution of the Christian Church in all peace without annexation." The economic disturb- its denominations, forced labor imposed upon the ances caused by the World War and the general so-called bourgeoisie, were the accompanymg fea- discontent resulting therefrom largely contributed tures of Bolshevist rule. At the same time the to the impetus of Bolshevist propaganda both in motto of Karl Max, "Expropriate the expropria- Westem Europe and Russia. tors, was sipplied to the industrial life of Russia.

The Central Powers, threatened with the growing The industrial management of olden times was military preparedness of Russia, decided to use forcibly replaced by the so-called local "Workers' Bolshevism as a weapon for the destruction of the Councils," which took charge of the factories, mills, Russian military apparatus. On the other hand, and n^nes. The consequences of this measure were international German-Jewish finance, which for alarming. In the course of six months production decades in the past proved hostile to imperial had almost ceased. In some branches of industry Russia, threw its influence onto the scale of the the decrease reached a level of 90%. Because of Central Powers, contributing its financial support the complete stoppage of coal digging railways were to the organization plans of the German military left without fuel and the whole trai^ortation eyB- stafif for spreading revolutionary prppaganda in the tem became hopelessly wrecked, rear of the Russian army. The. task of the Bol- The effects of civil war contributed to the general sheviki was greatly facilitated by the outbreak in economic and social disaster. Organised and ele- Russia of the March Revolution of 1917. With mental revolts against Soviet rule threw Russia into the formation of the so-called Provisional Govern- a continuous civil strife, which has not ceased up ment, headed hy weak and incompetent politicians to the present time. Vast territories, formerly be- (Kerensky, Miliukov, and Prince Lvoff), a revolu- loneing to the Russian Empire, were broken up tionary apparatus was set up by the extreme reyo- and independent states formed with the specific lutionary factions, namely, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, object of evading Bolshevist rule. Aside from that and Social Revolutionists. It became known as the Brest-Litovsk treaty, concluded between the the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Bolsheviki and the Central Powers, was a deliberate Deputies. While the Provisional Government was scheme for the further dismemberment of the engaged in the ruin of Russia's political structure, Russian Empire. The result of these combined the Petrograd Soviet, and later the Soviets in other factors was famine, degradation, and an appalling Russian cities, imdertook the violent destruction spread of virulent epidemics. As far back as in of social and economic foundations of the Russian 1918 Trotzky and other Bolshevist leaders were State. Although in the beginning the Bolsheviki forced to admit that gradual starvation was Uie were in a minority in Soviet organizations, yet fate of millions of Russian citizens, doomed to because their program was the most radical their misery and destitution. It also became apparent influence grew stronger with each succeeding that the workers' management of industries could blimder made by the Provisional Government, not succeed and that production would cease en- Appeals for "bread and peace," launched by Bol- tirely. Lenin soon publicly announced that the shevist and Socialist agitators, met with consider- Bolsheviki woul^ have to "take a step backward" able success among the masses of the Russian peo- because of the impossibility of keeping up the pie who were tired of the war and believed that processes of production without the active assis- with peace economic conditions would improve tance of experts and skilled labor. The year 1919 over night. was the period of hunting for experts to whom in-

The dissolution of the Russian front proceeded dustry could be entrusted. These endeavors, how- with ever increasing velocity, and by the fall of ever, completely failed for Red terror and starvation 1917 the resistance of the Russian army had prac- had demoralized the nation's brains. In addition, tically ceased. Tens of thousands of deserting Rus- the continuous struggle against the White armies sian soldiers moving eastward abandoned their and the rebellious peasants opposing Soviet rule trenches, seizing the lands of the nobility and of made it impossible to effect the least improvement the wealthier peasants. With the complete inability in industrial and economic conditions. The burden of the Provisional Government to cope with the of Red militarism and the building up of a huge grave situation, Bolshevist tactics grew daily more Red army consumed all the energy of the Soviet arrogant. While the first July uprising of the Com- leaders. Instead of the promised peace, uninter- munists, staged by Lenin and Trotzky, was quelled rupted warfare was inflicted upon Russia. Military by Cossack troops brought from the front, still operations against Poland terminated in 1920 in Bolshevism continued to oe an impending danger, a humiliating peace concluded at Riga. Vast ter- The military authorities, having arrested the Bol- ritories were ceded to Poland, the boundaries of shevist leaders, including those above mentioned, Russia having been restricted to those of the seven- were thereupon, by the personal interference of teenth century.

Kerensky, compelled to release them. For a few The growing dissatisfaction with the Soviet regime months Bolshevist headquarters were removed to was taken as an excuse for increasing the authority Finland, whence destructive propaganda was of the so-called "Extraordinary Commission for directed. In the meantime economic disintegration Combating Counter-Revolution, Speculation, and continued unhampered, food conditions in the large Sabotage," familiarly known as the Cheka. This cities becoming more acute. On 28 October, 1917, Russian Extraordinary Commission, with its local Kerensky's government was overthrown and a ramifications {Goubcheka), became a notorious ma- Soviet dictatorship was established. Soon after- chine of oppression and its actual power is greater wards similar revolutions occurred in Moscow and than the power of the Council of the People's in other Russian cities. Almost simultaneously Commissars, combined with the Central Executive the Soviet Government began to put into effect Soviet at Moscow. The Cheka is a kind of revolu- its program of "nationalization" of industries, banks, tionary tribimal which carries on its main activities and pnvate property in general. Red terror against through an elaborate system of secret agents and