Humanity has produced many Cassandras over the years. Maxim Gorky was one of them. Or at least he was during the critical years 1917-18, when he edited Novaia zhizn’ (New Life), an independent socialist newspaper. Would that Russia had listened to him. Here are some of his more prophetic passages:
“Imagining themselves to be Napoleons of socialism, the Leninists rant and rave, completing the destruction of Russia. The Russian people will pay for this with lakes of blood.”
“All this (the Bolshevik experiment) is unnecessary and will only increase the hatred for the working class. It will have to pay for the mistakes and crimes of its leaders – with thousands of lives and torrents of blood.”
To the Russian workers:
“You are being led to ruin, you are being used as material for an inhuman experiment, and in the eyes of your leaders you are still not human beings.”
“Therefore I keep on saying: an experiment is being conducted with the Russian proletariat for which the proletariat will pay with their blood.”
Sad, isn’t it, that there are certain things mankind just seems to have to learn the hard way? Of course, when it comes to the messianic quasi-religion of Communism, there were many other Cassandras. Sir James MacKintosh, a brilliant Scottish thinker who died in 1832, long before Communist ideology was systematized by Marx and Engels, nevertheless saw what was coming. Socialist ideas were already quite familiar to the intellectuals of his generation. He remarked that the zealots of the new ideas might eventually succeed in gaining power, but they were doomed to failure. The reason? Unlike religious fanatics, with their celestial heaven, they promised a heaven on earth, and would be exposed as false prophets when it failed to materialize.
We should have listened to Sir James. Instead, it took more than 150 years and tens of millions of corpses before the rest of the world caught on.