The Russian Revolution, 1917: Eyewitness Account - Vol. 2

By N. N. Sukanov; Joel Carmichael | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 17
IN THE DEPTHS

'OUR country is definitely turning into some sort of madhouse with lunatics in command, while people who have not yet lost their reason huddle fearfully against the walls.' ( Rech, May 17th.) 'Russia is turning into a Texas, into a country of the Far West.' ( Rech, May 30th.)

The bourgeois gutter-press, without respite or repose, in creative self-forgetfulness and patriotic rapture, played variations on this theme in all conceivable styles--sorrowful, menacing, and playful. 'Anarchy' in large letters made its appearance as a standing headline. This press was now filled with descriptions of every possible excess and disorder. 'Arbitrary arrests', 'lynch-law', 'collapse', 'riots'. The struggle of the bourgeoisie against the revolution had expanded to its full scope.

There were indeed many excesses, perhaps more than before. Lynch-law, the destruction of houses and shops, jeering at and attacks on officers, provincial authorities, or private persons, unauthorized arrests, seizures, and beatings-up--were recorded every day by tens and hundreds. In the country burnings and destruction of country-houses became more frequent. The peasants were beginning to 'regulate' land-tenure according to their own ideas, forbidding the illegal felling of trees, driving off the landlords' stock, taking the stocks of grain under their own control, and refusing to permit them to be taken to stations and wharves. The terrific destruction of a great lord's estate in the Mtsensk district caused a special uproar in the first half of May. Quite a few excesses were also observed amongst the workers-- against factory administration, owners, and foremen. But more than anything else of course it was the unbridled rioting soldiers who were 'destroying law and order'.

In the idle garrisons of the capital and the provinces, in an atmosphere of unprecedented freedom, military discipline naturally collapsed. The iron shackles had weakened. The ignorant wantonness of the grey mass made itself felt. All garrison service in the rear became more or less disrupted; there was almost no training; orders were frequently ignored, sentries

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