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Thousands and thousands of foreigners went to Stalins's Soviet
Union for many different reasons. Some stayed for only a
few days, some stayed for many, many years. Some stayed
for their whole lives and never came back. Many of them
went unconvinced that the political system and economic system
were viable and changed their minds and became sympathetic.
Many went convinced that the economic and political system were
the future and changed their minds the other way. What you
see is people projecting their dreams onto the Soviet Union.
In the 1920's many immigrants from Russia to the United States
tried to go back to their country and tried to participate in
the new world, in the Revolution. There was a project way
out in the middle of Syberia known as the (Russian) Basin, where
a group of foreigners, most of whom had American citizenship,
tried to create a new world in a kind of commune or community
based upon coal and industrialization of westen Syberia.
They came up against the Communist party, they came up against
jealousy, they came up against misunderstanding, they came up
against bureacracy and their community was crushed, destroyed
, defeated and by the end of the 1920's disappeared. These
kinds of lessons were not assimilated. The difficulties
of not only getting inside the Soviet Union, but realizing that
on your own terms the building of the new world. This experience
in western Syberia was not assimilated, or was in fact, not very
well known or forgotten. All the problems that we saw with the
original groups of people who went into the Soviet Union in the
1920's were repeated on a larger scale with much more people in
the 1930's. They couldn't understand why it was there was
so much bureacracy. They couldn't understand why it was
that people would get arrested for no particular reason.
They couldn't understand all the (mumble) intrigues and the politics.
They couldn't understand why things couldn't be done in a straightford
manner. There was tremendous misunderstanding, on both sides
in fact and the archival documents show you a clash of cultures
and a clash of political understanding and a clash of political
systems. Even among groups who are both on the left side
of the political spectrum, people from the Soviet bureaucracy
and people from leftist parties in the West, including the United
States. In the end, perhaps it is predictable that the collaboration
wouldn't work. That most people would be disillusioned, that most
people would leave the Soviet Union. That most would leave
and either remain disillusioned or become activitists or fighters
against Communism. Perhaps it was predicable that disillusion
would set in and many people would be goaded into resisting the
Soviet Union in the post war period, but, you must understand
that in the beginning the dreams were great, the horizons were
very wide. People thought for sure that this was the new
world and they wanted to participate in it and they were the envy
of their collegues who didn't go or couldnt go , or, had less
of a sense of adventure, who were more at risk to leave behind
than those who went, like John Scott. He left behind many,
many priviledges and many possibilities to go the Soviet Union
to try to live his dream, to try to participate in their dream
only to be disillusioned and only to convert that disillusion
into mobilization against the Soviet Union in the post war period.