George Lazareff to Alice Stone Blackwell, July 23-29, 1919

Atlantic Ocean, "Susquehanna"
23 -- VII -- 19.

My dear Alice:

Now I am amidst the Atlantic [illegible] elements. The weather is beautiful, the officers of the Susquehanna steamer are young and very obliging men. Some regular order of life is established. After some more close acquaintance the reserved relations became more intimate.

Not such was the situation at the moment of our start from Newport News. The officer of Uncle Sam [illegible] who was charged to arrange the embarkation of our party, finding that my name is not in the list of the officers, ordered to place me in the third class deck and in the lowest part of it, where I felt myself suffocating. The arguments or reasonings to take this into consideration my age or to be put at least on the upper part of the third-class deck, was of no avail. For explanation I was told that I was speaking in English and great many of American visitors address especially to me. They suppose, it is dangerous, such a direct communication of the newcomers from Russia, from Siberia, with American public. Evidently they are afraid of my Bolshevism and that of the Czecho-slovaks generally.

This fear of Bolshevism now became evident. Only here, in the U.S., I knew that the labor movement in America is very great, Bolshevism among the working class is in vogue, and it provokes corresponding reaction in the upper strata of the society in the U.S.

You know my views upon Bolshevism. I am an irreconcilable adversary of it by my conviction. I was fighting it before Revolution, during revolution, and will fight it to the end. Because Bolshevism is the enemy of democracy and of Socialism they are as dangerous as the enthusiasts of Monarchy and Atamanship are. They are both equally inacceptable for democracy -- civil as well as industrial.

Now I see in all countries is going the same process of differentiation of the social forces: extremists at right and extremists at left. Democracy being placed between these two extremists finds itself in the most unfavorable situation. It must fight on two fronts.

I believe, I am sure, there is not and there will be no Bolshevism in the United States or in England. Because the working men in these countries are sufficiently organized. Bolshevism is dangerous in the country where every thing is in a state of disorganization and ruin, where misery is reigning.

But the existing [labor] movement in America and Western Europe has nothing to do with Bolshevism. The matter is that old order of social and economic life after this war has gone. Nobody, in any country, can [reestablish] a despotic government and previous insecurity of the working class. If the existing governments will consider the demands of the working men for the better conditions of life as a criminal Bolshevism then the Bolshevism will grow. The repression will only increase disorganization and discontent, and bring the country to ruin, to general barbarity. For instance, why delay with the solution of economic problems in the U.S. and in Europe in general, in the scope of the whole state or country? Why let the working men of each enterprise make strikes separately in different localities and in different professions? It is an unnecessary waste of time, of industrial forces and energy. And who is mostly suffering from that? Society, or course, the State, the country on the whole, the working men in that number. Each working man is a producer but in his particular profession. In all other relations of social life he is a consumer. [page 2]

I earnestly desire that industrial movement in the world would go in more organized way, not isolately, locally as I see it even in the U.S.A. It brings harmful riots, disorder, general trouble in the country. Why not put boldly the principle as a regle: the minimum of wages (living wage) and maximum of profit.

This requirement is a crying necessity, and at the same time the embodiment of justice and good industrial management.

The industrial competition ought to be substituted by national and international agreements by treaties. It is not a fancy or utopian idea; it is not, even, a socialism; it is a sheer social and economic necessity of the time.

I am glad to see that Lloyd George has come to this conclusion. I earnestly hope and ardently wish that your President Wilson would follow Lloyd George. I believe him. He proved to be a practical statesman, capable to stay at the front of international democratic movement. All what he needs it is energetic and organized support from the part of the public opinion. The most powerful agent of all social forces is the organized industrial democracy -- the working class. Why consider this movement as a Bolshevism movement?

On the contrary, all equivocals, all hesitations and delay at such a troublesome time with the solution of social, political and economic questions, are nothing but playing into the hands of criminal Bolshevism and reaction.

In Siberia the reactionary government of Atamans made all population of the country to come under the protection of the Bolshevik government. And this population is not a Bolshevist one, but they have no choice. The democracy is [illegible] knocked down twice, by Bolsheviki first and by reactionaries the second time.

Now, all our allies' governments are fighting or continuing to fight Russian Bolshevism hand by hand with monarchists and in the interest of reaction and despotism of the worst shape. Babushka now would be killed or expelled from Siberia [illegible] and she ought to look for protection on the side of the Bolsheviki. ... Great many of her friends have already been shot or killed, openly or secretly. I had been persecuted by Bolsheviks and not once I was about to be shot by them. Now I was to live and in Siberia act illegally under the daily danger of being shot or secretly killed. Many of my friends have perished. The Czecho-slovacs and American armies in Siberia are considered now by the [Cossacks], atamans and by the band of the speculators as being in sympathy with Bolshevism. They spread all sorts of calumny upon them. Only the Japan is earnestly supporting these reactionaries. Admiral [Kolchak] is nothing but a doll in the hands of different atamans, speculators, and monarchists, he himself is tolerated as long as he is doing all this band of adventurers wish.

We, and all Russian democracy, lived under the fear of recognition -- first of the Bolshevik government (the Princess Islands) and last time of the [Kolchak] government.

The trouble with is that you all living in America and Europe know nothing about the real situation in Russia and especially in Siberia. And we, who live in Siberia, know very few or nothing about what is going on in America and Europe.

The telegram of Babushka to Mr. [Pankratov] in Siberia and his answer to her made me come to America to inform the public opinion what is really going in Russia. You may guess how sorry I am not being able to stay in America and to see you and Babushka. Otherwise I should stay in Russia. Now I have not been allowed not only to stay in America but to read the American newspapers. I got them sometimes ↑but↓ occasionally. The fear of Bolshevism was so great [page 3] that all our party was not allowed to go to the cities we passed without special watchmen. The whole of our party could not see and talk to the common visitors. Only the Y.M.C.A. and Knights of Columbus and the Salvation Army's folks could see, meet, and entertain us. Only cakes, movie pictures, cigarettes, and so on, blessings of the civilized world, gave us the knowledge of this wonderful country of yours, that plays now a leading role in the future destiny of the whole civilized world. But ...

It seems to me it is a wrong policy to isolate the Czechoslovak party from the working population of the United States. Nobody knows what Bolshevism in Russia means better than the Czechoslovaks who more than one year victoriously fought them. I have seen Mrs. Meredith in [illegible] Washington. She gave me a note to verify my personality. But I have some reason to believe that the money you could send to me are not delivered intentionally. I needed indeed the American money for my trip to Europe, because I must go now probably directly to Prague, of Bohemia, without seeing my wife, if she is alive. I lost a good chance to see you and to fulfill my duty and mission. I must try to do what I can in other places. ...

During my stay in America we could not leave our camps for cities, to buy newspapers we wished. Only the papers and literature granted by kindness of Y.M.C.A. men and women and by Knights of Columbus became very familiar to us. I had not chance to procure some newspapers in Newport News in order to [illegible] make acquaintance with what is known in America about the situation in Siberia. Here in the steamboat of "Susquehanna" I have found the periodicals of June. I am glad to see here the first the "New York Times" from 15th to 25th of June.

July 28, Atlantic Ocean

It takes 12 days to cross the ocean from Newport News to Brest. In two or three days we shall reach old Europe. My dear friend, I earnestly beg you to help me by sending periodicals, "The Outlook" the best, I think. I must be acquainted with what is and what was going in America for this year. If the "Survey" is still existing it would be a reliable source of information. All interesting articles (important articles) you find, kindly send me. I know you are too busy but please ask your friends to call their attention to useful articles. ... I know nothing about what is going on in Siberia, since my start from there, but I believe Bolsheviki will clean all Siberia from all this band of atamans, brigands, and will "reign" in killing the men and devastating the country as now the [Kolchakists] and ataman brigands do. That is the tragedy. I saw General Graves the commander of the American army in Siberia, and warned him that he and his army necessarily will be involved in an actual ↑active↓ struggle with the Siberian population, in spite of his very reasonable, cautious, and humane policy of [noninterference]. The existing military forces of all the Allies in Siberia are not sufficient not only to withstand Bolsheviki but they are not sufficient to keep in safety the Siberian railroad line along almost 5000 miles. It is too late. The Siberian population, excepting speculators and reactionists -- are now against [illegible] the Atamans, against [Kolchak] government. Along such a distant line of [railway], Bolsheviki easily can break the thin string of the railroad guards at any place and at any time. I had seen and talked to General Graves when I did not know yet that I'll go to America. He is very kind man enjoying a good reputation among the East Siberian peasants for his protection of defenseless population both from atamans and from Bolsheviks.

I have good news for you about the woman's movement in Russia, and especially among the [Muslim] population of 30 millions at least. Bolsheviki first and the Atamans after, have ruined all their particular national organizations. It was a remarkable movement indeed and of great success. [page 4]

At their own national Woman Congress in Kazan city and after at the National Congress of all [Muslims] of Russia, where over one hundred women delegates were present, they passed the resolution of abolition of polygamy among Russian [Muslims]. It is a long story to write here. But you know I was enjoyed very much in Russia in spite of all tragedies I lived through. I am sorry I could not see you to make you acquainted with this movement. -- I feel myself some tired. And I do not know yet now where I am going to. All my plans are in confusion.

If you like to print something of this information, please refer to "an authoritative [illegible] or reliable source". Let nobody know, but you and our friends, about my crossing the American continent.

You did not forget my address? Baugy sur Clarens.

We are approaching the European shores. I hope to send these lines with some American man on the Steamer, and I cannot say where it is happened to be in some days, in France, Switzerland, or Bohemia. Today by radio I call out some of my friends to come from Paris to meet me in Brest.

I have read here the Outlook of February 26, 1919, about inquiry of Senate Committee on the Bolshevism in Russia and the reply of Babushka, who said, "I had served 32 years in prison and exile to save Russia from the Czar; but I would serve 32 years more to put him back if this is to go on instead. Certainly we prefer a Czar to a Trotsky". As an expression of personal feelings, at the bottom, she is right, of course. But politically, -- from the point of view of expediency, -- such a dilemma is "not our business". Neither Czar nor Trotsky! Not a moment of strife to put back either of them. They say: in Hell there are even seven circles or kinds or manners of torturing the sinners. If his Majesty Satan would propose to me to choose the best for myself, I should prefer to send [His] Majesty to the devil and to fight against all of them ... In an intimate company of friends I should say just what Babushka said, but when Bolsheviks and reactionaries catch every word, to pervert it and to spread calumnies, at all official inquiries and on the public platform I would be cautious. It is a misfortune that all the attention of public opinion and the state administration is riveted to the immediate fight against Bolsheviki not against Bolshevism. Bolshevism is not Socialism. They do not wish to call themselves "socialists" but "communists". ... They deny the interests of "Society" as a whole; they stick to "class interests". They are "class socialists" not socialists. Bolshevists are nothing but logical and consequent "Marxists". All other "Marxists" are illogical ones. Only Socialists who recognize democracy, as the absolutely necessary means of social transformation, -- only they can effectually fight Bolshevism. We Russian socialists of the shape of Babushka call ourselves "revolutionary", because we fight for democracy first, and against any despotic state, for the democratization of the State, not against any State. We are not Anarchists, we are the most resolute adversary of them. Bolsheviks and Anarchists both deny and fight democracy. But we are not only pure democrats, we are socialists. Our final aims to get not only political but also economic transformation ↑of society. [illegible]↓. We are going to Socialism through democracy. We, "revolutionary" socialists are "feminists" in the sense that the enfranchisement of women is an essential part of our program, democratic program, but he is not a Socialist, who is fighting for enfranchisement of women but denies equality of religious or national rights, and the rights of the working class for amelioration of their life and their organized actions for abolition ↑of↓ the very classes of Society as well as all kinds of artificial inequality among human beings. To deny this means to deny religious feelings, which are inherent in human nature. [page 5]

[Religion] is not a Church. Man can live without a Church, but he cannot live without religion. Beasts are deprived of the religious feelings. I do not belong to and do not recognize any Church, but I love life and wish to feel myself as a member of the whole Humanity of the Past, Present and -- as far as I can -- of the Future.

Individual, physical life is very short, too short perhaps; it is a twinkling of an eye between Eternity of the Past and Eternity of the Future -- And I know I am at the end of my life. And I will try to live through to my end [illegible] thoroughly, consciously; it means in touch with all humanity. It is my religious feeling. After my death, let God, Devil, or Nature care of my rest. ...

Excuse my dear and beloved friend. ... my blasphemy, if your religion is in [discord] with mine.

Believe me I brotherly love all my American friends. Remember me when you see or write them. But religion is "private Sache".

I am told just now that there is a post-office on the boat. I'll try to register it tomorrow. After midnight from Thursday to Friday we shall come to the shore.

I forgot to ask you whether [Marie] Yarros has safely reached home, had you seen her and whether she got to see Babushka and deliver my letter from Siberia? I know nothing about it.

From different old periodicals I see your supreme aim will be soon realized -- the Amendment of [Susan Anthony] will at last pass. But why postpone it? Why not utilize the American woman's energy on the other field of social life? If the enfranchisement of women is also bolshevism? Is the movement of the Non-Partisan League of the Farmers of North Dakota also Bolshevism? Is the Railroad Brotherhood in the U.S. also bolshevism? Nay, it is an absolute necessity of the moment. ...

Twenty [illegible] ↑millions↓ of human beings have been killed or mutilated during the war. Is it possible the return to the previous absolute order of things? To think so means to support Bolshevism. The stupid reactionaries make Bolsheviks the defenders of the right and just cause ... Meanwhile in America [illegible] there are people who consider as Bolsheviks all who defend democracy and organization of new order of social life.

My dear friend ... I am absorbed in reading old papers and periodicals that I found on the steamer "Susquehanna". I have found an article in [illegible] "The New York Times" June 16, 1919, "How Robins would down Bolshevism". Colonel Robins is our former friend ... He also defends democracy and blames Bolshevism but he wants to cooperate with them ... That is a sample of duplicity and differentiation of the democrats. Some of them prefer to cooperate with Bolsheviks; the others with [Kolchak], Atamans, and monarchists. Both are equally right or wrong. The really social democracy now is not in vogue. It must fight on two fronts -- Bolshevism at left and Bolshevism at right.

I will go straight up.

I hope to have your excellent "The Women's Journal" anyhow. To know American life it is necessary to read American periodicals. My heart with our American friends. [page 6] 

I find myself sometimes so lonesome on the boat, that reading in seclusion about what is going on in the world I drop my paper and write to you or am make notices in my pocket-book.

Excuse my lead-pencil writing. My hope to get in America a fountain pen is lost forever. In Siberia the lead-pencil is a luxury. All my treasury (of European cloths) I had to leave to the Bolsheviks. I wear a soldier's "Siberian" uniform. And I am sorry. You have lost the chance to see me in a very particular form.

Bless you and your friends the forces of Heaven and Earth.

Yours ever truly,

George Lazareff

Midnight, July 28, 1919. Wednesday

Tomorrow the last day on the "Susquehanna". Nice boat, taken from Germany, but made in England.

P.S. 29, VII -- 19.

We are going slow with all precautions against the mines. I see in the monthly "McClure's" for June an article "Raymond Robins Sensational Story of Bolshevist Russia begins in the Metropolitan". This story of Bolshevist Russia, as told to William Hard, begins in the June Metropolitan and will run for six issues. For anyway it is necessary to have these issues.

I know nothing about Westover School, Miss Helen, Mr. I. Herreshoff. How are they getting along? Your letter I got in Washington. I do not know where is Babushka. I did not see June! ... I believe he is now a student of the University? I shake his hand. The letter I sent you c/o Mrs. Meredith was destined to Mrs. Mabel, but I hope you got it. My heart for all.

George L.