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On This Day



In On This Day

By Nicola Gauld

On This Day, 12 November 1917

On 12, Nov 2017 | In On This Day | By Nicola Gauld

Birmingham Daily Gazette

Monday 12 November 1917



The fact that the Russian censorship has passed from the Leninites, or largely so, is a good sign. M. Kerensky and his friends appear to have maintained or recovered command of the bulk of the Army, and from the scanty news to hand the revolution within the revolution may soon be a thing of the past. If its failure is as complete and condign as we all hope it may be, the result may be all to the good of Russia and the Allies. It may again draw together the moderate elements in the Soviet represented by M. Kerensky and the middle-class elements of the Duma, who between them brought about the fall of the Czardom. But on the side of the “Cadets” this must pre-suppose the relinquishment of the Imperialist designs which recently found voice in the revival of ambitions like the “annexation” of Constantinople. For it becomes clearer day by day that the centre of Russian authority resides in Kernenskyism. And M. Kerensky may again dominate Russia from Petrograd. So swiftly do events march in this amazing historic drama.

But if Kerenskyism emerges once more in command of the situation after having defeated the Korniloff coup on the extreme Right and the Lenin coup on the extreme left, the final opportunity of understanding and cooperation between England and democratic Russian will be thrown away unless such mischief makers as the “Times” and the “Morning Post” are put in their proper place. The stupidity of our censorship is almost incredible. Russia opinion is highly sensitive to English opinion. But Mr. Michael Farbman, the London correspondent of two Petrograd papers, makes some startling statements in the “Nation” this week on the way in which every encouraging fact or expression of opinion is suppressed on this side-while the licence given to the papers which have crabbed the Revolution and all its works is notorious. Mr. Farbman was not allowed to send news of the Japanese-American plans to lend aid in the supply of munitions and military assistance. He was not allowed to explain the Blackpool vote on Stockholm “as not a defeat for the idea of the conference as such, but only one in favour of its postponement until a preliminary agreement on war aims had been established among the Allied Socialists.” He attempted to pillory the nonsense of the French writer, M. Loyson, who contributed certain articles from Petrograd to the “Sunday Times” in which Revolutionary Russia was described as a “herd of lunatics headed by a gang of scoundrels.” He was refused permission.

Not only is Mr. Farbman refused the right of rebuking and exposing slanders; he is even stopped from sending comments friendly to democratic Russia in its unparalleled difficulties from such an orthodox Imperialist source as the “New Europe”- a journal understood to be in sympathy with the war aims of our own War Cabinet. The “New Europe ’’ wrote:—

‘We are aware of an intense and growing indignation in Progressive Russian circles at the charges so frequently levelled against Russia in misfortune and we venture to hope that the Government will take advantage of Parliament’s re-assembling to rebuke publicly such disloyal tactics towards our Ally in the East…’

That was blacked, and he concludes:-

‘Reviewing treatment of my cables during the last three months’ I am bewildered. All references to British jusqu’ a-boutisme, every quotation from a Conservative newspaper, or speech that illustrates dislike to the Revolution, has been let through by the British Censor. All references of an opposite kind, every quotation of an article or a speech which dealt with the need for people’s peace has been deleted as if automatically and inevitably.’

It is only necessary to read such extracts from the Russian papers as leak through into this country to realise that these methods of our censorship are calculated to hasten an end which every one would deplore. The “Novaya Jisn” of Petrograd complains, for example, that the Northcliffe Press “called Kerensky a chatterbox” and showed “obvious regret over the failure of Korniloffs attempt.”

A new attitude to M. Kerensky and his followers in the demand for the postponed War Aims Conference in Paris is not less urgent than an end to this filling of the outward wires with reactionary sneers which caricature liberal-minded opinion at home as much as they distort and deride the aims of democratic Russia. If our Government is not wise in time on both these points, M. Kerensky may fight his way through this last crisis in vain. Russian may be lost; and the loss may lie at our door.


For further reading on how the Russian Revolution was reported, follow this link to the British Library website: