Courtesy Reuters

Eastward the Course of Soviet Empire

THE ultimate criterion of Soviet success will be the dynamic power of the system to sustain its revolutionary momentum. That is a dictum which will be disputed by few historians. But to maintain that momentum new fields of conquest must be found. Now, according to Marxian precept the existence of a class-conscious proletariat is considered a sine qua non for initiating social revolution in any present-day society. It has therefore been assumed that the inevitable direction of eventual Soviet expansion would be external and westward, in an effort to win the already industrialized countries to World Revolution. But events of the last five years indicate that exactly the reverse is taking place. As the political issues within Russia are solved, and as the wider horizons of Soviet planning come into view, we see that the direction of expansion is definitely not external and westward, but internal and eastward, into the virgin soil and out amongst the backward non-proletarian peoples of Asiatic Russia.

In this there is more of logical sequence than change in policy. During the first decade of their power, the Bolsheviks seemed obsessed by fears that a European coalition would organize an offensive against them. They sought to defend themselves against this peril not only by direct measures in Europe, but by indirect assaults against the vulnerable salients of western imperialism, the semi-colonial states of Asia. The launching of the First Five Year Plan, however, signalized a change in attitude. And the results of this plan modified the Bolshevik outlook still further. Not only was Russia freed from the traditional economic dependence on the West, but the country was for the first time equipped with an adequate industrial basis for military defense. The new strength, acquired through prodigious effort, tended automatically to lessen the old fear psychosis and to give the Bolsheviks a feeling of increasing economic security. Consequently, while pursuing a highly successful peace policy abroad, they were able to advance to the next major task on their

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