Vladimir Lenin in 1920:
Even now, all the agricultural production of Russia is not peasant production. We have, in places, large scale agriculture. The Government is already running big estates with workers instead of peasants, where conditions are favourable. That can spread. It can be extended first to one province, then another. The peasants in the other provinces, selfish and illiterate, will not know what is happening until their turn comes...
From H.G. Wells's Russia in the Shadows, 1920:
Russia in the Shadows: I was very curious to see him, and I was disposed to be hostile.... I encountered a personality entirely different from anything I had expected to meet.... The shrill little pamphlets and papers issued from Moscow in his name, full of misconceptions of the labour psychology of the West and obstinately defensive of the impossible proposition that it is the prophesied Marxist social revolution which has happened in Russia, display hardly anything of the real Lenin mentality as I encountered it.... [T]he set ideas and phrases of doctrinaire Marxism... may be the only language Communism understands.... Left Communism is the backbone of Russia to-day; unhappily it is a backbone without flexible joints, a backbone that can be bent only with the utmost difficulty and which must be bent by means of flattery and deference....
The Kremlin as I remembered it in 1914 was a very open place, open much as Windsor Castle is, with a thin trickle of pilgrims and tourists in groups and couples flowing through it. But now it is closed up and difficult of access... passes and permits... filtered and inspected.... This may be necessary for the personal security of Lenin, but it puts him out of reach of Russia, and, what perhaps is more serious, if there is to be an effectual dictatorship, it puts Russia out of his reach. If things must filter up to him, they must also filter down, and they may undergo very considerable changes....
Lenin... a little figure at a great desk in a well-lit room.... I had come expecting to struggle with a doctrinaire Marxist. I found nothing of the sort.... Our talk was threaded throughout and held together by two—what shall I call them?—motifs. One was from me to him:
What do you think you are making of Russia? What is the state you are trying to create?"
The other was from him to me:
Why does not the social revolution begin in England? Why do you not work for the social revolution? Why are you not destroying Capitalism and establishing the Communist State?
These motifs interwove, reacted on each other, illuminated each other. The second brought back the first:
But what are you making of the social revolution? Are you making a success of it?
And from that we got back to two again with:
To make it a success the Western world must join in. Why doesn't it?
In the days before 1918 all the Marxist world thought of the social revolution as an end. The workers of the world were to unite, overthrow Capitalism, and be happy ever afterwards. But in 1918 the Communists, to their own surprise, found themselves in control of Russia and challenged to produce their millennium.... At a hundred points—I have already put a finger upon one or two of them—they do not know what to do. But the commonplace Communist simply loses his temper if you venture to doubt whether everything is being done in precisely the best and most intelligent way under the new régime. He is like a tetchy housewife who wants you to recognise that everything is in perfect order in the middle of an eviction.... Lenin, on the other hand, whose frankness must at times leave his disciples breathless, has recently stripped off the last pretence that the Russian revolution is anything more than the inauguration of an age of limitless experiment. "Those who are engaged in the formidable task of overcoming capitalism," he has recently written, "must be prepared to try method after method until they find the one which answers their purpose best."...
Did I realise what was already in hand with Russia? The electrification of Russia?
For Lenin, who like a good orthodox Marxist denounces all "Utopians," has succumbed at last to a Utopia, the Utopia of the electricians. He is throwing all his weight into a scheme for the development of great power stations in Russia to serve whole provinces with light, with transport, and industrial power.... Projects for such an electrification are in process of development in Holland and they have been discussed in England, and in those densely-populated and industrially highly-developed centres one can imagine them as successful, economical, and altogether beneficial. But their application to Russia is an altogether greater strain upon the constructive imagination. I cannot see anything of the sort happening in this dark crystal of Russia, but this little man at the Kremlin can; he sees the decaying railways replaced by a new electric transport, sees new roadways spreading throughout the land, sees a new and happier Communist industrialism arising again. While I talked to him he almost persuaded me to share his vision.
"And you will go on to these things with the peasants rooted in your soil?"
But not only are the towns to be rebuilt; every agricultural landmark is to go.
"Even now," said Lenin:
all the agricultural production of Russia is not peasant production. We have, in places, large scale agriculture. The Government is already running big estates with workers instead of peasants, where conditions are favourable. That can spread. It can be extended first to one province, then another. The peasants in the other provinces, selfish and illiterate, will not know what is happening until their turn comes....
It may be difficult to defeat the Russian peasant en masse; but in detail there is no difficulty at all. At the mention of the peasant Lenin's head came nearer to mine; his manner became confidential. As if after all the peasant might overhear.
It is not only the material organisation of society you have to build, I argued, it is the mentality of a whole people. The Russian people are by habit and tradition traders and individualists; their very souls must be remoulded if this new world is to be achieved. Lenin asked me what I had seen of the educational work afoot. I praised some of the things I had seen. He nodded and smiled with pleasure. He has an unlimited confidence in his work.
"But these are only sketches and beginnings," I said.
"Come back and see what we have done in Russia in ten years' time," he answered...