CHAPTER X
FATHER GAPON AND AZEFF

GEORGE GAPON began his public career by joining one of those amazing organisations which the bureaucracy in the last days of its decline created for its defense. It came of an application of the method of exorcising Beelzebub by Beelzebub. The principle and expediency of borrowing something from the democratic movements of the west to serve as a prop for the autocracy of the east had taken root in the fertile brain of Plehve, the organiser, and he set scores of agents working at various aspects of this fascinating problem. I met several of them. One of these was a certain Zubatoff, who organised the Moscow factory hands into a puissant association under the unavowed supervision and direction of the secret police and in opposition to the inchoate unions directed by the socialists. The project was audacious, for it included the getting up of economic strikes for higher wages and better conditions, which the authorities generally brought to an end by taking sides with the workmen against the employers. To such expedients was the autocracy reduced! I had met Gapon once or twice when calling on Bishop Antoninus, who played a part in the religious Philosophical Society, but I can hardly say that I was acquainted with or impressed by him. I distinctly remember, however, Witte's indignation at the immorality of Zubatoff's expedient, and at the harm it was inflicting on industry. From Moscow bitter complaints had been received from directors and owners of factories, and Witte, appealed to as Finance Minister, took their part unhesitatingly. "It is not for the secret police," he once said to me, "to organise strikes which are forbidden by law. If strikes are desirable, necessary, or permissible, they should be left to the men whose interests are furthered by them." Gapon at first worked under Zubatoff and later alone, and as he confessed to me

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