March 6, 1920 | The Southern Lumberman
Cincinnati, Ohio, March 1—An interesting talk on Bolshevism was made before the Lumbermens’ Club of Cincinnati at its monthly dinner at the Businessmen’s Club here tonight by the Rev. Jesse Halsey, pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati. Mr. Halsey was an agent of the United States department of state in Russia for eighteen months and was an eye-witness to the development in the country during the time that Lenin and Trotsky gained control. He was stationed at Murmansk, north of Archangel, for a time and visited in Petrograd and Moscow, besides traveling over a large part of Siberia.
Mr. Halsey differentiated between Bolshevism as a political and economic program as applied to Russia and the term as it is now commonly used to denote the radical spirit of unrest throughout the world. He said many people were now applying it indiscriminately to people who differed in opinion with them over political-economic questions.
As to Russian Bolshevism as exemplified under the government of Lenin and Trotsky, Mr. Halsey declared that in practice their program had been greatly modified from the ideas they had enunciated when gaining their power over Russia.
“Bolshevism as a political program has been greatly modified in Russia,” Mr. Halsey declared. “Lenin has resorted to a system of capitalism in Russia to force production. After ten months of a government of destruction he now reverted to a system of capitalism of the most reactionary character. As applied at first the principles of Bolshevism meant nothing but destruction, and whatever of a constructive nature there has been in Russia has been along lines that in theory at least the Bolshevists have most of denounced.
“The ideal six-hour workday of the Bolshevists has now degenerated into a sixteen-hour workday, with the workmen kept under a strict military discipline to force production. The government, in order to attract Russian capital to its industries has offered high rates of interest and are now offering all sorts of guarantees and high rates of interest to foreign capital to come into the country.
“The people who have suffered most under the Red Terror of the Bolshevists were the intellectual radicals who were responsible for the overthrow of the Czar. They are the ones the Bolshevists have persecuted and not the old retainers of the Czar. As a matter of fact many of these have come to the support of the Bolshevist government and the leader of the army against the Rumanians is not a general developed under Trotsky, but an old-time general of the Czar.
“The intellectual class of Russians have been weak and indifferent to the crisis through which their country has passed. The Russians have a word, ‘Nichevo,’ which described their spirit and attitude to things. It indicates a shrug of the shoulders and ‘I can’t help it, I don’t care’ spirit.
“The Bolshevists gained their power by appealing to the emotions of war-worn and hungry people. They offered food, division of the land and peace to the country at a time when the people were dispirited and hungry. They have retained their power by military discipline over the people. They have disarmed all who belong to parties other than their own and having all the arms and ammunition in the country are able to effect their will without a military opposition.
“The Bolshevists are a majority party of the radicals, but do not represent a majority of the Russian people. At the best only between 20 and 30 percent of the Russian people were Bolshevists.
“Bolshevism will never conquer America,” Mr. Halsey asserted. “The long period of evolution in which our political and economic system has been developing together with the fact that the great mass of Americans are educated, is a great bulwark against any red revolution in America. In Russia there was no middle class and 85 percent of the people were illiterate. When Kerensky and his radical government took the helm, there was no background among the Russian people for his experiment. To America the development of our institutions since 1776 will prove an effective armor against Bolshevism.”