The American papers were shocked because the Russian Socialists were deserting the cause of democracy, and giving Germany a chance to win the war. The American papers called them German agents, but Jimmie did not take any stock in such talk as this. Jimmie was familiar with the “frame-up” as it is operated against the workers in America. He saw that the first thing the Bolshevik leaders did was to make an appeal to the revolutionary workers of Germany. The Russian proletariat had shown the way—now let the German proletariat follow! Literature was printed and shipped wholesale into Germany, leaflets were dropped by aviators among the German troops; and when Jimmie and Deror read that the German generals had protested to the Russians against such practices, they laughed aloud with delight. Well might the war-lords squeal; they knew what was coming to them! And when in January Jimmie and Deror read of the revolting of a brigade of German troops, and a strike of several hundred thousand working men throughout Germany, they thought the end was at hand. The little tailor got up in local Ironton and made a motion that it take to itself the name “Bolshevik”—which motion was carried with a whoop. And these American Bolsheviki went on to consult with the labour-unions, suggesting that they should form “shop-committees”, and prepare for the taking over of industry a la Russe!
But something went suddenly wrong with the newly built revolutionary steam-roller. The German military chiefs seized their strike-leaders at home and threw them into jail, or shipped them off to the front trenches to be slaughtered. By terrorism, shrewdly mixed with cajolery, they broke the strike, and sent the grumbling slaves back to their treadmill. And then the German armies began to march into Russia!
It was the crisis to which Jimmie Higgins had been looking forward ever since the war began. Tolstoi had taught that if one nation refused to fight, it would be impossible for another nation to invade it; and while Jimmie Higgins was no mystic or religious non-resistant, he agreed in this with the great Russian. No workers in an enemy army could possibly be brought to fire upon their peace-proclaiming brothers!
And here at last was the test of the theory; here were German Socialists ordered to march against Russian Socialists—ordered to fire upon the red flag! Would they do what their masters, the war-lords, commanded? Or would they listen to the clamorous appeals of the international proletariat, and turn their guns against their own officers?