He has a plan for establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat, but how does the proletariat feel about it?
My old friend and enemy, Mr. William Z. Foster, who joins himself to Mr. Eugene V. Debs and Mr. Big Bill Haywood in vigorously but vainly apprising the Daughters of the American Revolution that our greatest outstanding American radicals are amazingly inclined to be of pure indigenous 100 per cent American birth, was in Washington for a few moments the other day and indulged himself in a few amiable comments on the American so-called labor movement.
Mr. Foster, I guess, has spread more alarm in our dovecotes than any other native or imported bird of prey since the days of the human eagle who called himself the Tin-Toothed Terror of Tennessee and sent innumerable creeping thrills of agreeable horror down the spines of the patrons of yellow book-stalls in my early boyhood.
Mr. Foster tells me that he still believes with all his might in the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” When Bill says such things, he seems to freeze the gizzards of some people. These people must surely be of some recent immigration quota within the ports of this country. As for myself, when Bill says such things, I hasten to reflect on my noble ancestors who lay in taverns on the hills of Vermont meditating their wrongs until they burst forth and confiscated all the property of their affluent neighbors and condemned it to the use of the Continental Congress and of the Eternal Jehovah and became numbered among the immortal (with a “t” in it) Boys of the Green Mountains, and I gulp a couple of times and say to Bill:
“See here, I don’t know how it came about, seeing that we both derive from the New England soil; but somehow you seem to have got to be a proletarian while I’m still a bourgeois; but I want to tell you by the Continental Eternal that even if I am only a bourgeois I don’t have to run to any court in Michigan to make you stop saying you’re rougher than I am. I tell you I’m rougher than you, whenever you start.”
The truth is it looks more or less easy to be rougher than Bill, except that his eye is so clean and clear and his smile is so bland and blithe that a certain suspicion is aroused that here in Bill Foster we may have a typical specimen of that standard American type: the gentle-mannered slow-spoken hair-trigger “bad man.”
It happens, however, that Bill is not interested in fire-arms. In twenty-two years of reporting I have found hundreds of notable conservatives who were interested in fire-arms. As an American of respectable stock, I am scandalized contrariwise by the lack of interest shown in fire-arms by American notable radicals. A. Mitchell Palmer and I on this point have had the same experience. Out of all his raids on reds he got enough guns and cartridges to justify the beholder in believing that he had committed perhaps one raid on one third-rate week-end club of claypigeon shooters.
I have met two radicals of importance who had thoughts on guns. Years ago, I observed Victor Berger in profound contemplation of the idea that some day there might be an outright war between the classes; and so, accordingly, like Frank Simonds, he read books on strategy, I think he told me. More lately I have had Senator Brookhart tell me that if he had me in his school of rifle practice at Camp Perry in September of each year, he would make me stop smoking. He thinks it silly to smoke when by not smoking (so he says) one can shoot straighter.