My Disillusionment in Russia : Preface (Revised) to Second Volume of American Edition
(1869 - 1940) ~ Russian-American Mother of Anarcho-Communism : She is an Anarchist, pure and simple. She represents the idea of Anarchism as framed by Josiah Warren, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tolstoy. Yet she also understands the psychologic causes which induce a Caserio, a Vaillant, a Bresci, a Berkman, or a Czolgosz to commit deeds of violence. (From : Hippolyte Havel Bio.)
• "...it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think." (From : "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For," by Emma Go....)
• "The political superstition is still holding sway over the hearts and minds of the masses, but the true lovers of liberty will have no more to do with it." (From : "Anarchism: What It Really Stands For," by Emma Go....)
• "The individual educator imbued with honesty of purpose, the artist or writer of original ideas, the independent scientist or explorer, the non-compromising pioneers of social changes are daily pushed to the wall by men whose learning and creative ability have become decrepit with age." (From : "Minorities Versus Majorities," by Emma Goldman.)
Preface (Revised) to Second Volume of American Edition
The story of that painful experience might well make another chapter,
but for the present it is sufficient to give the bare facts of
My manuscript was sent to the original purchaser in two parts,
at different times. Subsequently the publishing house of Doubleday,
Page Co. bought the rights to my work, but when the first printed
copies reached me I discovered to my dismay that not only had
my original title, "My Two Years in Russia," been changed
to "My Disillusionment in Russia," but that the last
twelve chapters were entirely missing, including my Afterword
which is, at least to myself, the most vital part.
There followed an exchange of cables and letters, which gradually
elicited the fact that Doubleday, Page Co. had secured my MSS.
from a literary agency in the good faith that it was complete.
By some conspiracy of circumstances the second installment of my
work either failed to reach the original purchaser or was lost
in his office. At any rate, the book was published without anyone
suspecting its incompleteness.
The present volume contains the chapters missing from the American
edition, and I deeply appreciate the devotion of my friends who
made the appearance of an additional volume possible in America
and this complete edition possible in England--in justice to myself
and to my readers.
The adventures of my MSS. are not without their humorous side,
which throws a peculiar light on the critics. Of almost a hundred
American reviewers of my work only two sensed its incompleteness.
And, incidentally, one of them is not a "regular" critic
but a librarian. Rather a reflection on professional acumen or
It was a waste of time to notice the "criticism" of
those who have either not read the book or lacked the wit to realize
that it was unfinished. Of all the alleged "reviews"
only two deserve consideration as written by earnest and able
One of them thought that the published title of my book was more
appropriate to its contents than the name I had chosen. My disillusionment,
he asserted, is not only with the Bolsheviki but with the Revolution
itself. In support of this contention he cited Bukharin's statement
to the effect that "a revolution cannot be accomplished without
terror, disorganization, and even wanton destruction, any more
than an omelet can be made without breaking the eggs."
But it seems not to have occurred to my critic that, though the
breaking of the eggs is necessary, no omelet can be made if
the yolk be thrown away. And that is precisely what the Communist
Party did to the Russian Revolution. For the yolk they substituted
Bolshevism, more specifically Leninism, with the result shown
in my book--a result that is gradually being realized as an entire
failure by the world at large.
The reviewer referred to also believes that it was "grim
necessity, the driving need to preserve not the Revolution but
the remnants of civilization, which forced the Bolsheviki to lay
hands on every available weapon, the Terror, the Tcheka, suppression
of free speech and press, censorship, military conscription, conscription
of labor, requisitioning of peasants' crops, even bribery and
corruption." He evidently agrees with me that the Communists
employed all these methods; and that, as he himself states, "the
'means' largely determines the 'end'"--a conclusion the proof
and demonstration of which are contained in my book. The only
mistake in this viewpoint, however--a most vital one--is the assumption
that the Bolsheviki were forced to resort to the methods referred
to in order to "preserve the remnants of civilization."
Such a view is based on an entire misconception of the philosophy
and practice of Bolshevism. Nothing can be further from the desire
or intention of Leninism than the "preservation of the remnants
of civilization." Had my critic said instead, "the preservation
of the Communist dictatorship, of the political absolutism of
the Party," he would have come nearer the truth, and we should
have no quarrel on the matter. We must not fail to consider the
Bolsheviki continue to employ exactly the same methods
to-day as they did in what the reviewer calls "the moments
of grim necessity, in 1919, 1920, and 1921."
We are in 1925. The military fronts have long ago been liquidated;
internal counter-revolution is suppressed; the old bourgeoisie
is eliminated; the "moments of grim necessity" are past.
In fact, Russia is being politically recognized by various governments
of Europe and Asia, and the Bolsheviki are inviting international
capital to come to their country whose natural wealth, as Tchicherin
assures the world capitalists, is "waiting to be exploited."
The "moments of grim necessity" are gone, but the Terror,
the Tchecka, suppression of free speech and press, and all the
other Communist methods of former years still remain in force.
Indeed, they are being applied even more brutally and barbarously
since the death of Lenin. Is it to "preserve the remnants
of civilization" or to strengthen the weakening Party dictatorship?
My critic further charged me with believing that "had the
Russians made the Revolution à la Bakunin instead of à
la Marx" the result would have been different and more satisfactory.
I plead guilty to the charge. In truth, I not only believe so;
I am certain of it. The Russian Revolution--more correctly, the
Bolshevik methods--conclusively demonstrated how a revolution
should not be made. The Russian experiment has proven the fatality
of a political party usurping the functions of the revolutionary
people, of an omnipotent State seeking to impose its will upon
the country, of a dictatorship attempting to "organize"
the new life. But I need not repeat here the reflections summed
up in my concluding chapter.
A second critic believes me a "prejudiced witness,"
because I--an Anarchist--am opposed to government, whatever its
forms. Yet the whole first part of my book entirely disproves
the assumption of my prejudice. I defended the Bolsheviki while
still in America, and for long months in Russia I sought every
opportunity to cooperate with them and to aid in the great task
of revolutionary upbuilding. Though an Anarchist and an anti-governmentalist,
I had not come to Russia expecting to find my ideal realized.
I saw in the Bolsheviki the symbol of the Revolution and I was
eager to work with them in spite of our differences. However,
if lack of aloofness from the actualities of life means that one
cannot judge things fairly, then my critic is right. One could
not have lived through two years of Communist terror, of a régime
involving the enslavement of the whole people, the annihilation
of the most fundamental values, human and revolutionary, of corruption
and mismanagement and yet have remained aloof or "impartial"
in the critic's sense. I doubt whether the latter, though not
an Anarchist, would have done so. Could he, being human?
In conclusion, the present publication of the chapters missing
in the first edition comes at a very significant period in the
life of Russia. When the "Nep," Lenin's new economic
policy, was introduced, there rose the hope of a better day, of
a gradual abolition of the policies of terror and persecution.
The Communist dictatorship seemed inclined to relax its strangle-hold
upon the thoughts and lives of the people. But the hope was short-lived.
Since the death of Lenin the Bolsheviki have returned to the terror
of the worst days of their régime. Despotism, fearing for
its power, seeks safety in blood-shed. As timely as in 1922 is
my book to-day.
When the first series of my articles on Russia appeared, in 1922,
and later when my book was published in America, I was bitterly
attacked and denounced by American radicals of almost every camp.
But I felt confident that the time would come when the mask would
be torn from the false face of Bolshevism and the great delusion
exposed. The time has come even sooner than I anticipated. In
most civilized lands--in France, England, Germany, in the Scandinavian
and Latin countries, even in America the fog of blind faith is
gradually lifting. The reactionary character of the Bolshevik
régime is being realized by the masses, its terrorism and
persecution of non-Communist opinion condemned. The torture of
the political victims of the dictatorship in the prisons of Russia,
in the concentration camps of the frozen North and in Siberian
exile, is rousing the conscience of the more progressive elements
the world over. In almost every country societies for the defense
and aid of the politicals imprisoned in Russia have been formed,
with the object of securing their liberation and the establishment
of freedom of opinion and expression in Russia.
If my work will help in these efforts to throw light upon the
real situation in Russia and to awaken the world to the true character
of Bolshevism and the fatality of dictatorship--be it Fascist
or Communist--I shall bear with equanimity the misunderstanding
and misrepresentation of foe or friend. And I shall not regret
the travail and struggle of spirit that produced this work, which
now, after many vicissitudes, is at last complete in print.
* The second volume, as explained in this preface, was issued under the title of "My Further Disillusionment in Russia." It is printed here because an explanation is necessary to avoid confusion on account of differences in publication of the American and English editions.
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