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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 7, No. 4 June 7, 1944

Dawn In Siberia

Dawn In Siberia

A cycle of human social development is shown by C. D. R. Phillyss in "Dawn in Siberia," an account of the struggles of the little-known Buryatians against continual pressure from their enemies, the property owners within, and imperial administrators. The rise of individual wealth and feudalism, inevitable and sharply defined in such a fertile and isolated country as Buryatia, is traced up to its tyrannical climax. The cycle is completed by the advent of the Soviet Government, bringing back a communism on an infinitely higher plane than the early clan system.

Legends and a rich description of the country and customs of Buryatia reveal the nature of the people and their problems. Division of labour between rich horse-dealers and hunters comes when trade is introduced with furs as currency for foreign merchandise. This leads to slave-labour and feudalism.

History shows foreign exploitation interacting with the local magnates when Imperialist Russia conquers Buryatia in the seventeenth century. There are tales of unbridled greed and cruelty.

Such a history naturally brings out to its full extent the emancipating effect of the Soviet Colonial policy.

An interesting feature of the book is the parallels to be drawn to present-day situations. Puppet governments are made of self-seeking local powers; religion is used by conquerors as further impetus of persecution; the Imperialist colonial policy conforms fairly well to the treatment of backward nations in the British Empire. These are characteristics, then, of all totalitarian conquests.

We see also the history of this small country related to the history of the Soviet Union. The more closely the democratic system of the State approximates to complete freedom of secession, the rarer and weaker will the striving for secession be in practice.