All the world saw what happened; it saw the glorious revolutionary machine, in which Jimmie Higgins had put all his trust, run into a ditch and land its passengers in the mud. The German armies marched, and the Socialists in the German armies did exactly what the non-Socialists did—they fired upon the red flag, as they would have fired upon the flag of the Tsar. They obeyed the orders of their officers, like true and loyal Germans; they drove back the Bolsheviki in confusion, taking their guns and supplies, and destroying their cities; they led off the Russian women and children into slavery, precisely as if they were Belgian or French women and children, destined by the German Gott as the legitimate prey of Kultur. They sacked Riga and Reval, they overran all the Eastern portions of Russia—Courland, Livonia, Esthonia; they moved into the rich grain country of Southern Russia, the Ukraine; they landed from their ships and took Finland, wiping out the liberties of that splendid people. They were at the gates of Petrograd, and the Bolshevik government was forced to flee to Moscow. Of all which military feats the German Socialist papers spoke with stern pride!
Poor Jimmie Higgins! It was like the blow of a mighty fist in the face; he was literally stunned—it was weeks before he could grasp the full meaning of what was happening, the debacle of all his hopes. And it was the same with Ironton’s Bolshevik local; all the “pep” was gone out of its proceedings. To be sure, some noisy ones went on shouting for revolution the very next day—men, who had been talking formulas for twenty or thirty years, and had no more notion of a fact than they had of a pseudopodium. But the sensible men of the group knew that their “St. Louis resolution” was being shot to death over there in the trenches before Petrograd.
It was interesting especially to see Rabin. The common belief of Americans was that a Jew could not be induced to fight; they told a story about one who cried out to his son, asking why he was letting another boy pummel him, and the son whispered in reply, “Keep still, I got a nickel under my foot!” All through the war the Jewish Socialists in America had been, next to the Germans, the most ardent pacifists; but now here was a social revolution managed by Jews, here was a Russian government which gave the Jews their rights for the first time in history! So the little Jewish tailor stood up before these American Bolsheviki, and with tears running down his cheeks declared: “Comrades, I am already tru vit speeches; I am going into dis var! I vill put myself vit de Polish Socialists, vit de Bohemian Socialists—I fight de Kaiser to de death! So vill fight every Jewish Socialist in de vorld!” And this was no mere braggadocio—Comrade Rabin actually proceeded to shut up his tailor-shop, and went away to join the “red brigade”, which was being organized by the Jewish revolutionists of New York!