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The Soviets' delegation at Genoa, through Comrade Rakowsky, has given an ingenious explanation justifying Russia's confiscation,--or "expropriation", to use the preferred Bolshevik term,--of allens' private property Pointing to the right of eminent domain exercised by all "bourgeois" governments, they declare that under the Russian scheme the same result is obtained, merely in a different way; for instead of paying for the property, it is merely nationalized, "given to the people",--which, they say, is obviously the same in the end as direct compensation.
It is reasoning such as this, emerging from the heavy fog-bank which surrounds Russia, that has given us what knowledge we possess of the typical Bolshevik and his scrambled philosophy. In an individual case it means simply this: the Soviet Government backed by the secret police, supported by Red bayonets, representing the extreme wing of a radical party with a membership of 600,000 out of a population of 150,000,000, "expropriates" a man's property without compensation. This property is then 'given to the people",--that is to everybody except the bourgeoisie, the former property owners, and all the twenty-one other classes barred in one way or another from any consideration, by the Soviet Constitution. Thus this representative minority, the "people", have the right to take over any property without return, except such return as the former owner may be said to derive from his share of the benefits of Bolshevik rule,--and in a population of 150,000,000 this share may be considered to be somewhat diluted.
It is this trivial difference over phraseology, at least according to the Russian delegation, which has caused no end of trouble at Genoa. The Communist, who never admitted the right of private property in the first place, cannot understand how anyone can find anything extreme or unreasonable in "expropriation". When the other members of the family of nations demur, and refuse to allow their citizens in Russia to suffer by this piece of Bolshevik logic, M. Kakowsky and his colleagues assume the attitude of injured innocence.
Hidden behind this "trivial difference" over the status of private property is what is coming to be regarded as the new alignment of the Powers. France, England, and Italy are all nations firmly founded upon the fundamental security of private property. Behind all of them stands the tremendous shadow of Roman civilization. Russia, and to a certain extent Germany, never came under the sway of Rome and never became so wholly saturated with the traditions of private property. Napoleon's famous saying, "Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tartar", is being vindicated. Russian civilization, at least its representatives in the saddle today show all the characteristics of the wandering, nomadic tribes of the Steppes. Until some common ground of understanding can be found between them and the Western Powers; it is hard to see on what basis relations can be permanently re-established.
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