A Reformer's Sympathies

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For The Public.

"I am content to see them trying to pound some sense into each other."

"But don't you hope the Japs will win ? They are progressive, and seem sent by Providence to smash the power of that Russian despotism.

"If they are sent by Providence to do that, I am glad to see them do it. But the despotism of Russia is a military despotism, is it not—a tyrannical aristocracy sustained by the army?" "Yes, and by the police." "But it is the Cossacks that inflict outrages, knout the crowds and suppress resistance to the tyranny?" "Of course."

"And what evidence is there that the Japanese aristocracy at the end of this war would make any better use of an army out of a job?"

"Well, even if they would not, you must admit that as Japan was the one threatened by Russia's practical annexation of Manchuria the Japanese people are in the right"

"Do you think the Japanese people or the Russian people, the peasants who never heard of Manchuria and don't know where it is even when they get to it, care anything about who annexes it?"

"Certainly not, but if Russia were allowed to annex it the next thing would be they would attack Japan from that point of advantage."

"The Russian peasants are much like the Japanese peasants, are they not? They don't want Manchuria or to attack Japan, do they?"

"No, they don't; but the aristocracy does."

"Then would the Russian aristocracy attack Japan?"

"Not themselves, of course; but they would send the soldiers, the peasants you talk of, to attack the Japanese people."

"Oh, then it is the harmless peasants who would attack other harmless peasants, and it is the attacked peasants that you are sorry for?"

"Well, yes; the attacked ones are certainly to be pitied."

"But you said the attacked are just the same sort of peasants as the attackers; neither of them have any sense till they pound it into one another."

"Well, but others than the peasants will suffer if Japan comes under the Russian tyranny, the well-to-do, the selfsacrificing reformers, the men of progressive ideas."

"The intelligent and progressive can evade the tyranny themselves, can they not? or they can leave the country?"

"They can, but that leaves the peasants in ignorance, and suffering for their Ignorance."

"True, so if they stay, they stay because, being such as they are, they want to stay. But will not the Japanese peasants, flushed with victory and excited by the praises of their women and by loot, be very likely to thirst for more war—to think national glory and success belong to force, and that they are the nation that has the force?"

"It seems probable that it would be so, unless as you say, somebody pounds some sense into them."

"Yes, unless those poor deluded 'foreigners' find by trial that the way of transgressors is hard, and unless somebody—men like Crosby or Tolstoy— teaches them and our poor deluded workingmen the better way with trumpet voices, and men like you and me wheresoever we can make our voices heard."


  • Bolton Hall, “A Reformer’s Sympathies,” The Public 7, no. 351 (December 24, 1904): 603.