This letter appears in Anarchy Archives with the permission of the Emma Goldman Papers Project, U.C. Berkeley.
Roger N. Baldwin
108 Fifth Avenue,
New York, Nov. 24, 1924.
Miss Emma Goldman,
3 Titchfield Terrace,
London, NW, 8, England.
My dear E.G.:-
Your letter of November 6th deserves a much more careful, reply than I can give you in the midst of the business which has accumulated during a two-weeks trip in the West; but I cannot let it go without acknowledgement, though I cannot give you a fitting reply.
It is so good to know about you from yourself. I have heard from others, but I have needed this word from you to be assured of the real facts.
I am so anxious to see you active in the kind of work you can so magnificently do that I an venturing to write to my friend, Harold Easki, suggesting that he and some other of our friends avail themselves of you services on the lecture platform.
In regard to the one practical manner in hand, namely the treatment of political opponents by the Russian Government, let me say that Berkman seems to have the study pretty well in hand. You don't quite seem to get the point. I could go ahead with the list of Politicals and the other material in hand and make a fair showing among radicals and other opposed to the tactics of the Russian Government, but I could not get very far. In order to make a case against all the misrepresentation and prejudice, we have got to be loaded with an abundance of material which is disappointingly stated, so accurate that it can be challenged, and so comprehensive that it will give a fair picture of the entire situation. To date nothing of the sort has been done, and it is useless to try to go to the press or to [literals] with the material in hand. That is why we felt that the situation justified both delay and a heavy investment of time and money.
I think you underestimate the importance of this kind of work. I hope my approach to it has not been dictated by any degree of timidity. I am not by nature timid, but I am cautious when it comes to making statements of fact which I cannot back up. I know how difficult it was to get the facts about American political prisoners across to any but the radical public. It took months of hard work to collect and distribute documentary evidence of unimpeachable character. It is a much harder task with the Russian situation.
Dr. Ward's reports on Russia are quite the most illuminating material I have seen. They are fairer in tone, more complete in their statements of fact, and more documentary in their supporting evidence. He did not say, as you have heard, that there is remarkable friendliness between Russian Poiliticals and the Russian Government. His statement was a complete but dispassionate indictment of the system of political terrorism.
Outside the particular field of persecution, I view the Russian situation as much more complicated and much more significant from a revolutionary standpoint than you. I haven't the time now to go into details except to say that in the rebuilding of a national economy there are practical problems of immense difficulty which cannot be solved by revolutionary theories. I have been through three years of an effort to apply the principles of autonomous local control in producing coal, coke and chemicals in [Kuzbass], Siberia. I was, as perhaps you know, indicted last year for my participation in that work. I have been through every phase, argument and practical problem that surrounds making the wheels of industry go with the utmost possible participation of the workers themselves.
From my contact with that one experiment I am not prepared to make any sweeping declarations regarding the compromise with capitalism. On two points only I am quite clear bout the internal policies of Russia:
1- That the persecution of opponents is not only wholly unnecessary but destructive of revolutionary progress, not only because it kills those whose contributions are most needed, but because it imposes the temper of tyranny on the ruling class;
2- That the centralization of power in the hands of a bureaucratic government is having the same effect of killing off those spontaneous experimental growths toward communal production and distribution which alone seem to me an enduring basis of economic stability, in which the individual can find his widest freedom.
I know that any discussion which covers as wide a range as this cannot be carried on by letter, but I am confident that the points of substantial agreement can be found between us on the particular matter we have in hand.
With warmest greetings,