RUSSIA IS SCENE OF NEW BRAND OF “LIBERTY”
That Russia under the dictatorship Of the underdog is not exactly a land of liberty is one of the first discoveries of the foreigner visiting Moscow.
The Bolsheviks like to call Russia the “free communistic republic.” As a mater of fact, there are no laws, as they are known in other lands. But in their place there are several million manifestos, or proclamations, that have been issued by various Soviets.
Nobody knows just how many there are, nor has anybody taken the trouble to write them all down. Any soviet can issue manifestos. and all of them are prolific in exercising the privilege. Usually new manifestos are posted up on walls or are published in some paper.
If you act contrary to one of these manifestos, and a commissaire catches you a commissaire is a Bolshevik official a tribunal settles your case. The tribunal is made up of three Bolsheviks. It bothers not about either laws or manifestos, there being none of the former and too many of the latter. The tribunal simply decides what it thinks ought to be done to you, which may be anything from pardon for killing a man, to being shot at sunrise forstealing a loaf of bread, and it is done–that is Bolshevik justice.
In soviet Russia, you are entirely at liberty, according to the Bolsheviks. However, you cannot do any of the following things:
You cannot be at large without a permit to live issued by the commissaires. You need that for the right to breathe.
You cannot buy a pair of socks a shirt, or any kind of clothes or merchandise. It is forbidden for stores to sell or people to buy merchandise. They are supposed to wait until it is issued.
It is forbidden to leave town, or travel anywhere, except on official business. Individuals cannot go from one town to another on private business or because they want to travel.
You cannot rent a room or move into a new house, unless the commissaire assigns you to new quarters. You have to go where he says. Hotels do not exist. They are confiscated for headquarters.
It is forbidden to quit your job if you do not like it. You are considered an enemy of the government if you strike. The government can mobilize you to any job it wishes, just as though you were a soldier.
You cannot have a bank account, own a bicycle or an automobile, own firearms unless you are a Bolshevik, or be the sole proprietor of anything of commercial value.
Otherwise, you are perfectly free–with a few more exceptions.
The Bolshevik idea of liberty was impressed upon the United Press correspondent when first arrived in Moscow. He was under guard, and was taken first to the police station. There, among all the millions of manifestos, the police guard could not find any which outlined regulations regarding foreign press correspondents who came into soviet land through the back door the Lithuanian front.
The police commissaire decided to “pass the buck” to the foreign office secretary. “Why have a foreign office if it can’t decide whether foreigners we catch here have any right to live, or not? ” he asked.
Under guard. but otherwise unheralded and unsung–as well as unwashed, unshaven and unclean from the long trip–the correspondent was ushered before the foreign secretary, whose first act was to heap a tirade of abuse of all Entente lands upon the head of the only specimen in captivity at the time.
Finally he relented and said, “We’ll let you stay here a few days. I suppose the first thing is to get you out of arrest. Wait here while I see if it can be done.”
Half an hour later the assistant came back and announced with a not of triumph, “Well, you’re free. You’re at perfect liberty.”
“Thanks, that’s fine. I suppose I can hunt up a room now and clean up. Can you recommend a hotel?”
“No, I can’t,” replied the Bolshevik. “There aren’t any hotels. They’re confiscated. “I’ll take you home with me tonight.”
“Can you recommend someone I can hire for interpreter?”
“No; it can’t be done,” said the Russian. “You can’t hire anyone. You’d be a capitalist if you did.”
“Is there any objection to my taking some pictures? I brought a camera.”
“You cannot do that, either,” ruled the Bolshevik. ‘It is forbidden for the private individuals to have cameras. You’d better keep yours under cover or it may be confiscated.”
“Guess there isn’t much 1 can do right now, is there?”
“No, extent read these pamphlets,” he said, handing over a pile of propaganda. “You’ll have to be interned now for a couple of hours, until I get through. I don’t think you’d better wander about alone. You might get lost or be arrested if you have no guide.”
But otherwise you have perfect liberty in Bolshevik Russia.
[Mohave County Miner And Our Mineral Wealth, Kingman, Arizona, July, 19, 1919. Vol. XXXVII. No. 38 Pg. 4]