Views on Revolution
Dr. Hourwich Predicts That Liberty's Cause
In Czars Empire Has Received an Im-
petus That Cannot Be Halted.By I.A. HOURWICH, Ph.D.
Dr. Hourwich is well qualified to discuss conditions in Russia. He was born there and lived in the Czar's domain for thIrty years.
He was graduated from the University of Russia and practiced law several years ears before coming to the United States. He made made a special study of the condition of the peasantry of his country and contributed articles on on the subject to several Russian newspapers and magazines.
He entered Columbia College at New York soon after reaching this country, and was graduated with the degree of Ph.D., his thesis being "The Economics of the Russian Village."
Dr. Hourwich has written numerous articles on Russia for American magazines and scientific reviews.
The massacre last Sunday in St. Petersburg has suggested analogies with the great French French revolution. The comparison lacks, however, the most essential element, viz., acts of violence on the part of the people.
This procession of men, women and children, led by a priest with a crucifix, the symbol of "peace on earth and good will toward men," as their only weapon of defense against machine guns, brings to mind the description of the Roman arena in Sienkiewicz's "Quo Vadis," at that moment when by order of the Emperor, wild beasts are let let loose upon unresisting Christian fathers and mothers clasping their babes in their arms.Personnel of Strikers.The ranks of the St. Petersburg strikers are made up, in about even numbers of city residents and natives of rural districts; the former include most of the skilled mechanics, the latter are mostly most common laborers. Many of these laborers go home every summer to help on their farms; they represent the poorest section of the factory population.
The peasant farms are as a rule too small to support the farmer with his family, while the taxes in many sections of the country exceed the rental value of the land; when the children grow up, the boys, and often the girls, too, go to the city to help with their earnings to pay the taxes.
Nothing Exempted From Tax.
Exemptions from public sale for arrears in taxes are unknown to the Russian law; the tax collector may levy upon the working cattle, the milch cow, the household goods, the wearing apparel; it goes without saying that under pressure from the tax collector the peasant laborer will accept any terms that the employer is willing to offer.
Among the demands of the strikers is noted a minimum rate of one rouble, that is, 51 cents, per day for men and 75 copecks, that is, 38 cents per day for women.
The cost of living is about about as high in St. Petersburg as in Philadelphia or Chicago. Russian industries are protected by a high tariff and many Russian manufacturing corporations, according to the official "Financial Review," pay dividends at the rate of 50 per cent per annum.
These facts explain why public sympathy in Russia is with the striking workmen.
No Trade Unions.
There are no trade unions among the workmen of St. Petersburg; a trade union is regarded by the law as a criminal conspiracy; no public meetings are permitted, except when called by chartered societies or corporations; proprietors of public halls or private dwellings are prohibited, under heavy penalties, from letting their premises for unauthorized meetings.
The law is very rigidly and efficiently enforced. As a result secret organizations have come into existence, whose membership is composed of men who are determined to defy the law at the risk of their liberty.
The beginning of organization among the workmen of St. Petersburg dates about ten years back. The first secret societies were organized by college-bred young of socialistic opinions; political agitation, however, was at first excluded from these unions.
Their membership was limited, but they the soon gained an influence over the unorganized masses of workmen, and inaugurated a series of strikes which met with varying success.
Strikes Under Ban.
Strikes are prohibited by the Russian law; the strikers were thus inevitably drawn into conflict with the government, and the labor movement assumed a political aspect.
During the last few years it has been under the leadership of the Social-Democratic Labor party. The latter is a secret socialist organization, composed mostly of workmen who by reason Of their superior intelligence, exert an influence over their fellow-workers, with a generous sprinkling of college-bred agitators.
The avowed aim of the Social-Democrats is the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a republican form of government.
It is, therefore, plain that the idea Of petitioning the Czar for the redress of grievances and political reforms did not originate with the Socialists; it was, most likely, a spontaneous impulse of the simple-minded rustics, who still clung to their traditional faith in the Czar.
The Socialists would, nevertheless, join in the march out of sympathy with their fellow-strikers; the Czars recent manifesto left no room for delusions as to his attitude toward the demand for constitutional government; but the skeptics were satisfied that the failure of the petition would impair the prestige of autocracy with the masses.
To be sure, the marching of unauthorized bodies is prohibited by law; but under the lenient regime of Prince Sviatopola-Mirsky the severity of the law had been been relaxed, and no one could have anticipated the firing upon unarmed men, women, and children, who meant no harm.
This demonstration, be it noted, was not without precedent. Twenty-seven years ago, in the the spring of 1878, the striking employes of a St. Petersburg cotton factory marched in a body to the palace of the then heir to the throne, the father of the present Czar, to solicit his intervention in their behalf.
Those were troublous days for the Russian government, yet the parade was Was not interfered with, the strikers were courteously received at the Anitchkov palace by the chief of police, who promised to submit their petition to the heir-apparent, and the strikers peaceably dispersed.
The shooting of the strikers, their wives and children last Sunday has wrought a radical change in the political situation of the country. Only a few weeks ago a conference was held at Paris which was attended by delegates of a number of Russian, Polish, Finnish, and Armenian liberal and revolutionary organizations; the Russian Revolutionary Socialist Party, that is, the terrorist organization, was also represented.
The conference adopted resolutions favoring constitutional government and universal suffrage; the published report of the conference contains, however, no demand for a republican form of government.
Monarchy the Issue.
But now that the Czar has himself declared war to the people he has as made monarchy the issue.
The public outside of Russia scarcely realize how far the disaffection has spread in the nation.
The demands of the zemstvo conference were indorsed at a series of political banquets held in St. Petersburg, Kiev, Odessa, Kharkov, Saratov, Tagunrog and other cities; these banquets were attended by lawyers, physicians, university professors, journalists, marshals of the nobility, city mayors and other leading citizens.
A portentous incident occurred last month in St. Petersburg at the annual meeting of the Society of Engineers which numbered among its attendance presidents and directors of industrial corporations and other men prominently identified with the business interests of the country.
After indorsing the demands of the zemstvos, the society expressed by a rising vote its sympathy with Sazonov and Sikorshy, the two men Sentenced to penal servitude for the assassination of Plehve.
Outcome of the Crisis.
What is likely to be the outcome of the present crisis wou1d be difficult to foretell. The government may have forfeited the confidence of the nation, yet it has ample military force to overawe the people.
The ownership of firearms without a special permit [such as the N.I.C.S. background check?] is prohibited in the cities; the sale of firearms to persons who fail to produce a permit is enjoined under heavy penalties. The great bulk of the Russian people are unarmed and unable to offer serious resistance to autocracy, backed by the soldiery.
Can the troops be relied upon to obey orders to shoot?
The seeds of revolutionary agitation have here and there taken root in the army; on the whole, however, the Russian soldier has so far proved an ideal machine gun.
In an n open fight all odds are in favor of the government. But assuming that all open resistance has been put down regardless of the sacrifice of human lives, will that be the end?
Ready to Die for Principles.
The events of last Sunday have demonstrated the readiness of men and women of all classes, university students as well as common laborers to die for their principles.
People who are prepared to die are dangerous enemies.
Heretofore the liberals have deprecated violence, hoping to obtain concessions from the government government by peaceful petitions. On the other hand, the Social-Democrats have strongly opposed the terrorist policy of the revolutionary Socialists, hoping to overthrow the autocratic government by an open revolt of the working class.
If the success of the government in supporting both peaceable agitation and armed rebellion should defeat the plans of the liberals and of the Social-Democrats, the revolutionary Socialists will gain the support of all those who will not be reconciled to the iron rule of autocracy.
Fight to Bitter End.
This means a fight to the bitter end between the revolutionary Socialists and the officers of the government, with executions and assassinations as the regular order of business.
How long can it last?
The new governor general of St. Petersburg is reported reported to have given the strikers twenty-four hours within which to resume work, threatening to deport all those who will remain idle after that. That will have the effect of detailing thousands of revolutionary emissaries to stir up trouble in the rural districts, and it is from the rural districts that the majority of the soldiers are recruited. The term of active service in the army averages today only three years. Should the loyalty of the moujiks be gone, how long will it be before the renewed personnel of the army will become unreliable in an open conflict with the people?
I.A. HOURWICH.[The Washington Times, Washington, [D.C.] Friday Evening, January 27, 1905. Number 3883. Pg. 4]
This begs the question; Are YOU prepared? Our forebears sure were. They took on the best military machine in the world at that time. And they kicked their tyrannical behinds all the way back across a vast ocean.