The Pilgrimage to Russia Author:Sylvia R Margulies "I have been over into the future, and it works." — So Lincoln Steffens described the Soviet experiment in Communism when he made his pilgrimage. And so also did the Soviet regime hope to convince its other visitors during the period 1924 to 1937 that it had been successful in creating a Marxist Utopia. — In The Pilgrimage to Russia, Professor Sy... more »lvia R. Margulies explores the means by which the Soviets sought to select and control visitors to the USSR from the mid 1920's until 1937, when internal political imperatives and major problems of foreign diplomacy decreased Stalin's interest in showing off his state to the Western world. The discussion of why the Soviets encouraged travelers, how they tried to manipulate their guests, befre, during, and after their trips, and how well their attempts succeeded forms the core of The Pilgrimage to Russia.
Special targets of Stalin in his campaign to win friends and spread the gospel of Communism were opinion leaders, many of them respected non-Communists, from various sectors of Western society - industrialists and workers, intellectuals and professional men. Ford Motor Company sent delegations in 1926 and 1929. Educator John Dewey, sociologist Helen Hall, economist John Maynard Keynes, novelists John Dos Passos, Theodore Dreiser and Andrew Gide, and scientist-philosopher Julian Huxley, among others, found a welcome on Soviet soil. The regime employed a variety of unproletarian blandishments, from special stores to first-class luxury trains, to persuade its visitors that the Soviet Union was a thriving industrial society, a workers' haven, and an intellectuals' paradise.
Favorable responses from visitors to the USSR offered valuable benefits to the new nation. It desperately needed the foreign trade and exchange that businessmen could provide and the technical know-how that companies like Ford could demonstrate on the Soviet assembly line. Stalin wanted diplomatic recognition (eventually gained from the United States in 1933), and he wanted to avoid foreign military invasion of Soviet territory. But not least important by any means was the evangelistic desire to gain friends for, if not converts to, Communism.
Professor Margulies describes in documented detail how Lenin's disciples followed his organizational axioms for manipulating their guests. She interiewed forty people who had visited the USSR, or lived there temporarily, during this period and examined the files of the State Department and the publications of the Soviet Communist party, the Comintern, and the national Communist parties and front groups in France, Great Britain, and the United States.« less