Doubleday, Page & Co. 1920.
|I have to apologize to readers of
this review (if there are any) since it includes a lot of references to another book,
"Russia from the
American Embassy, April 1916 - November 1921" that was also written by an
American ex-mayor (David R. Francis, St Louis mayor and Governor of Missouri) and
published in 1921, one year later than "Americanism versus Bolshevism".
The author of this book, Ole Hanson, was mayor of Seattle from March 1918 to August 1919 and both he and Francis were first hand witnesses of minority Bolshevik coups against Democracy, Hanson in the United States, and Francis in Russia as the American ambassador based in the St Petersburg centre of the revolution.
The big difference is that the Russian Bolshevik revolution succeeded and the American Bolshevik I.W.W. (International Workers of the World) revolution failed.
It is fascinating to compare the two texts since they were both written by Americans from the Declaration of Independence tradition who strongly supported Democracy and individual rights and they give detailed blow by blow account of each revolution as the events unfolded. Francis was inevitably a bystander although he had regular contact with the main players like Kerensky and Trotsky, whereas Hanson had to directly defend his city through his responsibility as mayor.
The main features that emerge for this reviewer from a comparison of the two texts would be the following:
- The Bolsheviks successfully subverted the loyalty of the 125.000 soldiers in St Petersburg with (false) promises of private land, farms, stopping the war, avoiding the return of landowners etc. In contrast, the I.W.W. activists had no success getting American soldiers on board despite copying the name of the Russian Bolshevik commune, "The Soldiers, Sailors and Workingmen's Council". The U.S. military was well organized and loyal in contrast to the poor conditions experienced by the Czarist troops who were in the process of losing WWI.
- The Bolsheviks unilaterally issued General Order Nš1 producing chaos in the army and weakening a force that could be used against them. Soldiers were instructed to disarm their officers, remove their insignia and elect new ones from the ranks. The I.W.W. never made a call like this since they saw that they had no support in the U.S. military.
- As leader of the internationally accepted Provisional Government, Kerensky could have arrested Lenin and Trotsky when they proclaimed the death penalty for all people with property(if they refused to hand it over). In the event he did nothing and his government collapsed. In Seattle it was of great chagrin to Hanson that I.W.W. activists were not deported or even convicted of their crimes after the defeat of the 1919 General Strike, suggesting that they were receiving some higher level political protection.
- Francis knew Kerensky well and saw him as more of an orator than a statesman (i.e. ineffectual) whereas Hanson was every inch a statesman and was active in preparing for the General Strike. On the second day he published a "Proclamation to the People of Seattle" guaranteeing them absolute protection, (top)
|calling on every person to show
their Americanism and guaranteeing the provision of water, electricity, gas, food,
transportation and all other necessities. He was able to do this with detailed preparation
and a personal call for loyalty to the workers, troops and police involved. Kerensky was
never able to guarantee law and order and basic services.
- The Bolsheviks took full advantage of a stupid argument between Kerensky
and Korniloff (the Commander in Chief of the Russian forces) whereby Korniloff said that
he would march on St Petersburg (which he never did) and Kerensky foolishly armed the
"Soldiers, Sailors and Workingmen's council" (Bolsheviks) to defend the city. Of
course they used the arms against Kerensky's own provisional government. In contrast, the
I.W.W. never had access to weapons so were not able to quickly murder thousands of their
opponents as their Bolshevik brothers did in St Petersburg.