Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Soviet Russia | 1934

Review of “Russia’s Iron Age” by William Henry Chamberlin
Jesse Halsey

Sentiment concerning Russia seems again to be radically changing. With American recognition a more favorable appraisal had come to the American mind; but recent disclosures of the events of the last three years have swung the pendulum back. There is a decidedly unfavorable reaction.

Some of this, at least, is due to Chamberlin. He has spent a dozen years in Russia as representative of the “Christian Science Monitor” and is the author of authoritative books on that country. His “Soviet Russia” is judged by many discerning critics as the best book in English on the Soviets. Certainly, “Russia’s Iron Age” deserves high praise and wide reading.

Chamberlin, after this long residence, is now permanently leaving Russia for Japan and, likely, feels that he can speak with frankness and abandon.

He is unsparing in his criticism of the stern and sinister aspects of Stalin’s administration, but gives more than grudging admiration of the material accomplishment of the Soviets. There is a fine appraisal of religion. Communism is “a faith without God” and the Communistic organization has a distinct parallel with religious organizations, including the analogue of a class meeting.

In the last years, the peasantry suffered under this government of terror and three to five million have been ruthlessly starved among the Kulak class in order to force their cooperation in the collective farming. It is a government by terror and propaganda in the hands of a ruthless autocrat.

The author discusses the cultural and home life of the people. He indulges in mild prophecy. He gives two long chapters to the consideration of the religious aspects of the revolution. It is a book marked by balance and just and fearless appraisal of all factors.

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