The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

enlightenment requires first a more critical and discriminatory consideration of what it is that is of primary significance in American life.


28
LIBERALISM AND THE RUSSIAN MIND

AMERICANS are generally impressed by the insistently violent notes of Russian life, by the marked weakness, if not absence, of the spirit of tolerance, moderation, and compromise which goes to make up our traditional liberalism. In politics this shows itself in the preponderance of the extremist parties, Czarists and revolutionists, and the almost negligible role of the parties we should call liberal, such as the Constitutional- Democrats. Within the monarchist and Socialist parties themselves the extremists again preponderate. In other countries, the Socialists who believe in immediate and complete revolution (Spartacists or Communists) are in the minority; in Russia they are the majority. A similar temper prevails among the monarchists. The revolution of 1905 failed because the Socialists insisted on the immediate carrying into effect of their whole program, without any compromise with the "bourgeois" parties that helped to bring about the revolution; and the failure of the monarchists to get back into power, despite the generous aid of the Allies, was similarly due to their refusal to give up an iota of their old prerogatives, as illustrated in their insistence that the landlords' agents administer things in the old ways in all the territories conquered for them by Kolchak, Denikin, et al.

____________________
Published in The Survey, Vol. 49, p. 731 ( March 1, 1923).

-261-

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