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his occasional recollection that the great Cretan had been in continual rebellion against constituted authority-even against that of the Sultan Abdul Hamid. This observation tells us more about Mr Lansing than it does about Venizelos ; but it raises conveniently the question when and how a revolutionary can also be a constructive statesman.
Can Lenin and Mussolini be regarded as builders of substantial political edifices in the same way in which Wilson and Venizelos can be so regarded ? Although there can be no final judgment, a provisional answer may be attempted.
In the case of Russia, the traditional Government, as the result of a disastrous war and of its own superhuman incompetence and corruption, collapsed suddenly ; and with its fall, the whole fabric of constituted authority began to crumble away. The efforts of the Russian Liberals to arrest the disintegration failed lamentably, for psychological reasons that I have endeavoured to emphasize. The advent of Lenin was the success of a man who has known how to shoot the rapids of a revolution that he did not make. He had at first no desire to calm the tumult that was raging in the land, rather he tended in a characteristically Russian way to regard the work of destruction as in itself of positive significance, a holy work, and a casting down of idols, implying the simultaneous triumph of his faith. This attitude of mind—which may be called apocalyptic—was his strength; because without it he would never have made his voice heard above the clamour. His belief in revolution, and world-revolution, as in itself creative, proves him to have been sufficiently far removed from Marxian thought : because he chose to use a certain terminology and had a gift for polemics, he does not thereby qualify to be regarded as a scientific thinker.
But the essential point is that he and his party found themselves, as the result of an unparalleled convulsion, and of their own sublime self-confidence, the sole possible centre of authority and reconstruction in Russia. Their opponents, whom they so ruthlessly cut off, had had their day of power, and had not known how to use it; Russia was in ruins ; whatever then the Bolsheviks did that has given the State some semblance of a new existence will probably pass into the fabric of the future Russia. The system of Soviets, a spontaneous creation of the revolution, has been organized by the Bolsheviks who work the machine they have created. But the machine would work without them. This possibility
Lenin divined, and he regarded it frankly as a danger. “The Communist Party,” he declared, “must refuse to allow itself to be Sovietized." But in view of what Mr Farbman has called “the transformation of the Communist Party," can it avoid the fate of being absorbed into its own system? Sooner or later the vast moral energy of the Russian Communists must expend itself ; their successors will probably have to accept not only the result of their destructions, but also of their creative efforts.
With Mussolini the case is different. As I have endeavoured to show, he has exploited a reactionary movement of which he and his party were not the inspiration. Revolutionary communism was already defeated by the good sense of the Italian people before the triumphant Fascists fell on its disordered forces. Their claims grew with their successes, and they seized the government of Italy. It needed renovating and strengthening, or rather the men who worked it stood in that need. It is easy enough for the clumsy workman to blame his tools. But the rôle of the restorer of the Commonwealth has not appealed to Mussolini as it appealed to Venizelos. He seems resolved to retain power until he has translated his hatred of liberalism into a system. Like Lenin, Mussolini seems to be a mystic in his political conception, but he has not had Lenin's opportunity. Mussolini has not razed to the foundations the work of Charles Albert and of Cavour, nor has that work fallen into ruins. His refusal to confine himself to the only task he has had the full opportunity of carrying out-the task of restoring and vindicating the constitutionhas led to a deadlock. The liberal tradition in Italy is strong, and is becoming stronger. Mussolini is in power, and intends to maintain himself in power, if necessary by force.
But the constitution of 1848 hangs round his neck like a millstone; nor is it difficult to foresee his failure, which already seems to define itself as the failure of one who is not a revolutionary on occasion, for clearly envisaged and swiftly realised ends, but a permanent revolutionary, who believes that the unravelling of political tangles is an unworthy pastime, and who is ever ready with a high gesture to cut the Gordian knot. On the lips of such a man, what can “normalization” mean but the recognition of the unchallenged supremacy of Fascismo ? After all, there is some difference in political maturity between a Russian moujik and an Italian peasant ; between the victim of successive despotisms and of his own lack of self-control, and the heir of that new birth of liberty, the Risorgimento. A revolutionary reconstruction was possible in Russia, because the collapse was so overwhelming : that prerequisite, fortunately for the happiness and peace of the Italian people, was absent in Italy. Adjustment and rehabilitation, not destruction and revolution, are her needs. But the master of force stands true to his past in this, that he remains bent on re-making the political life and institutions of his country, instead of strengthening them—in a word, he remains a revolutionary, but without that “revolutionary situation which would afford him elbow-room to create a new polity.
I do not claim this book to be a work of historical research. It is simply a sincere attempt to reconstruct a coherent narrative of the lives of these four political leaders, from what material lies more immediately to hand, and such as my opportunities and limitations allowed me to utilize. From the form of essay adopted I fear I have sometimes been led to take up a dogmatic attitude at points where the facts are far from certain, and where a discussion would have been more in place. For this, for the inevitable mistakes of any attempt to tell the story of lives lived so near us in time, and for the disproportions of which I am conscious, I desire to apologize in advance. My hope is that these biographical studies may be interesting, and perhaps even useful to some readers, since I have tried in every case to indicate my sources.
I wish to thank with a deep sense of my obligation to their kindness, Mr N. Eumorfopoulos, Mr John Mavrogordato, and Mr E. C. W. Hannan, who placed at my disposal material, some of it unpublished, to which I could not otherwise have gained access. To the Baron Meyendorff, who was good enough to give me valuable time in answering my questions ; to my brother, Mr Herbert Box, who read my work both in manuscript and in proof; to Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Salmon, and to Mr J. D. Mackie, who lent me newspapers and books; and to Mr Ă. O. Anderson, for his unfailing encouragement and valuable criticism, my cordial thanks are also due.
Needless to say, I am wholly responsible for all opinions expressed in these essays.
PELHAM H. BOX THE UNIVERSITY ST ANDREWS, December 1924