Maxim Gorky: When “cause of freedom for man” means money for armaments
From The Specter (1938)
Translated by Alexander Bakshy
“Here comes Aristide the traitor,” said Marina.
On the rostrum stood a debonair individual, also with a large head, his brown hair carelessly rumpled; he had a thick-set body, rather heavy and a little stooped. The thick cheeks of his wide face were puffy. Alternately opening his lively, smiling eyes very wide and screwing them up tightly, he stretched out his neck and nodded to a deputy in the front row of seats. Then he grinned, and began to talk in a conversational, chatty manner, his left hand caressing the lapel of his coat or the edge of the reading-stand, his right hand gently wafted in the air as if dispersing an invisible smoke. He talked fluently, his strong voice slightly husky. Clean-cut words chased one another jovially, tenderly, with pathos and sorrow, tinged with the merest trace of irony. He was attentively listened to. Many heads nodded approval. There were short, interested exclamations. One felt that his friendly smiles evoked responsive smiles from his listeners. One deputy, completely bald, wriggled his gray ears like a hare. Briand raised his voice, and arched his eyebrows. His eyes distended. His cheeks flushed. Samghin caught a particularly sizzling phrase:
“Our country, our beautiful France, our supreme love, has dedicated herself to the cause of freedom for man. But let us not forget that liberty is achieved by struggle.”
“Money for armaments,” said Marina, consulting her watch.
Briand was applauded, but there were also shouts of protest.
“I’ve had enough of this. I have forty minutes for lunch. Would you like to go with me?”
“So that’s the man,” she said, as they emerged into the street. “The son of an innkeeper, once a Socialist, like his friend, Millerand, who, not so long ago, gave orders to shoot down strikers.”