Sukhanov, a left-Menshevik hostile to … McMeekin writes that Lenin was merely “an afterthought” in 1905 and “barely worth the attention of tsarist police agents” until he returned to Russia in April 1917. The Russian Revolution dramatically changed Russia from an autocracy to a communist system of government. He reinstated the death penalty in an effort to get the armed forces under control, provoking much outrage. The movement from capitalism to socialism (and vice versa) is not inevitable and can be reversed; teleological thinking leads to strategic blunders and gross misinterpretations of reality. Politically, the people of Russia resented the autocracy of Tsar Nicholas II and the corrupt and anachronistic elements in his government. Severe penalties were imposed for striking. It would be as well to ask in face of the difficulties and griefs of personal existence: Is it worth while to be born? I like to think of historians actively engaging in debate: stating their case, disagreeing and agreeing over various issues, and contributing their own particular insights. Error rating book. Logged in as  Once again, economic inequality is a pressing political issue around the world. build a holistic view of Russian society. Certain savages, in order to bring good weather, wave in the air a shingle on a string. How historians narrate the story of the Russian Revolution tells us much about their philosophy of history, as well as about their attitude toward the revolutionary project and the politics of the left. Like every sect which founds its teaching not upon the actual development of human society, but upon the reduction to absurdity of one of its features, anarchism explodes like a soap bubble at that moment when the social contradictions arrive at the point of war or revolution.”, “The so-called “breeding” of the tsar, his ability to control himself in the most extraordinary circumstances, cannot be explained by a mere external training; its essence was an inner indifference, a poverty of spiritual forces, a weakness of the impulses of the will. The German government was also willing to arrange for Lenin’s journey back to Petrograd. The external rout was completed with an internal one.”. } Politics cannot be contained in the sealed train cars of superpowers, and social movements cannot be treated as simple instruments in great games. Stephen A. Smith Dmitri Volkogonov Liberal- Revisionist Most of my work to date has explored the inter-relationships between social and political history, particularly in the context of revolution. From his exile in Zurich, Lenin expressed his disgust at the new arrangement. McMeekin also points out that the czarist secret police was small, though very efficient, and rather lenient. Russian Revolution historians These pages contain some profiles of prominent Russian Revolution historians. By noon, about 50,000 protesters were participating in a spontaneous strike. When I began my academic career in the 1970s, the shadow of the 1917 Revolution loomed over the whole of Russian history. Oh, how [the Soviet leaders of the February 1917 revolution] feared the masses! Sign Up For Take Action Now. The revolutionary elements were thrown from the factories to the front. Of the three books under review, Smith’s is the most sympathetic to emancipatory politics, and it offers the most persuasive explanation of the Russian Revolution’s origins and terrible failures. As I watched our ‘socialists’ speaking to the crowds … As a steam-hammer converts a sphere and a cube alike into sheet metal, so under the blow of too great and inexorable events resistances are smashed and the boundaries of “individuality” lost.”, “Between his consciousness and events stood always that impenetrable medium — indifference.”, “A revolution is always distinguished by impoliteness, probably because the ruling classes did not take the trouble in good season to teach the people fine manners.”, “The boycott of parliamentary institutions on the part of anarchists and semianarchists is dictated by a desire not to submit their weakness to a test on the part of the masses, thus preserving their right to an inactive hauteur which makes no difference to anybody. The planned coup was an open secret: Kerensky begged the British to help him negotiate an armistice in the war, understanding at last that peace offered his only hope of remaining in power. Explore 1000 Revolution Quotes by authors including John F. Kennedy, Victor Hugo, and Henry Ford at BrainyQuote. This philosophy produced one of many historical examples indicating that while violence is often the most effective way of seizing power, antidemocratic coups do not usher in utopia; more often, they devolve into terror. After an absurd series of scandals and intrigues involving his own generals and officers, Kerensky released most of the Bolshevik prisoners, whose comrades had already made substantial progress in indoctrinating the rank and file of the army and navy. Other Bolsheviks walked into the Central Telegraph Office and disconnected the phone lines to the Winter Palace. The workers’ press was swept away. tn_loc:'atf' The revolutionaries set up the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. As in the early 20th century, we are living in an age in which mass movements and popular fury have a new currency. Attempts to strengthen Tsarism, 1905-1914. still unfolding, The Soul of the Russian Revolution (New York I9I7). tn_keyword: ['communism', 'russia'], Start studying historians quotes (Russian revolution). Even as Russia attempted to keep up with the rest of the world—and maintain its status as a great power—the social system underpinning the autocracy was eroding with the emergence of new classes like industrial workers and a professionalized middle class. But nevertheless what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.”. Hundreds of thousands of women, boys, peasants, poured into the workshops. In order to comment, you must be logged in as a paid subscriber. Banks refused to release funds to the Bolsheviks; Lenin’s commissars began taking bank employees hostage and demanding ransom. The meeting became a mass walkout; as the women headed for the Neva River, other people—men and women—joined their ranks. tn_subject: ['biography', 'history', 'world'], Buy this book The unfavorable result was explained away with allegations of electoral abuse and fraud, while the Cheka closed the Tauride Palace to prevent the opposition from gathering there. Of the three books under review, Smith’s is the most sympathetic to emancipatory politics, and it offers the most persuasive explanation of the Russian Revolution’s origins and terrible failures. Nicholas II abdicated, passing the throne to his brother, who took fright and refused the next day. Churchill’s image of Lenin is clearly linked to his loathing of communism, the red plague. Copyright (c) 2021 The Nation Company LLC, As its title suggests, Catherine Merridale’s, In fact, he and other Russian revolutionaries. Smith’s approach to history, with an emphasis on long-term factors and the experience of ordinary people, also feels the most relevant to our own historical moment. But the notion of Lenin, or communism, as a bacillus betrays a willful blindness to the larger constellation of factors that make profound social change possible. The question is teleological and therefore fruitless. Workers flocked into Petrograd for a three-day general strike. Exiles received a living allowance for clothes, food, and rent, and they could bring along family members or hire domestic servants. She is the author of Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Lenin did not seek to make the lives of those already living better; he believed that revolution would cleanse the world of injustice and create an entirely new society. In October, Lenin returned to Petrograd in disguise and argued forcefully that the Bolsheviks should seize power before the November elections. Its members couldn’t decide on what they wanted, either, with some hoping for a social-democratic system and others a constitutional monarchy. Such a support was guaranteed to it by the agrarian problem.”, “Slavophilism, the messianism of backwardness, has based its philosophy upon the assumption that the Russian people and their church are democratic through and through, whereas official Russia is a German bureaucracy imposed upon them by Peter the Great.”, “The serious and critical reader will not want a treacherous impartiality, which offers him a cup of conciliation with a well-settled poison of reactionary hate at the bottom, but a scientific conscientiousness, which for its sympathies and antipathies—open and undisguised—seeks support in an honest study of the facts, a determination of their real connections, an exposure of the causal laws of their movement.”, “The war produced a dreadful desolation in the underground movement. The Bolsheviks’ victory was brought about by Lenin’s skillful but risky effort, at a moment of Russian vulnerability, to transform the “imperialist war” into a civil war by infiltrating the armed forces and “turning the armies red,” spurring mutinies and mass desertions by soldiers who took their weapons with them. The Russian Revolution of 1917 is a collective term for two so-called revolutions—one in February and one in October—that occurred in Russia in 1917, which dismantled the Tsarist autocratic regime and led to the creation of the Soviet Union and, ultimately, several decades of communist dominance. In fact, he and other Russian revolutionaries were being financed by the German government, which hoped that they would destabilize Russia and weaken its military efforts. 1. In contrast, historians of the Russian Revolution of 1917 can jus-tifiably say: “the revolution is continuing.” Researchers, politicians and ordinary citizens in Russia continue to identify with the main figures of their revolution and view the events of ninety years ago through the eyes of their participants. The most historians consider the first change the Russian Revolution and the second the Bolshevik Revolution. For Reprints and Permissions, click here. Churchill’s image of Lenin is clearly linked to his loathing of communism, the red plague. The provisional government, the Petrograd Soviet, and others argued over whether the country should continue fighting the war—and, if so, on what terms. With his typical pragmatism, Lenin decided to make the trip, but he insisted on a “sealed train”—a fiction that would allow him to plausibly deny charges of collusion with the German enemy. In the early hours of October 25, 1917, armed Bolsheviks approached cadets guarding key choke points in Petrograd and told them that they were being relieved. On November 8, the Union of Unions called for a general strike of government employees. Much of the work based on the writings of Russian émigrés who fled Russia after the Revolution. It wasn’t a surprise that these latter groups welcomed the more radical Bolshevik position. In their petition, they called themselves oppressed, … “If there had been no Rasputin,” said Senator Tagantsev, a man of the old regime, “it would have been necessary to invent one.” There is a good deal more in these words than their author imagined.”, “At the first sound of the drum, the revolutionary movement died down. Lenin’s liability was his history of German support, which Kerensky and others tried to use against him. The … Stalinism was thus the deformed offspring of Marxism and Russian political culture, warped by larger social, economic, and political factors that often had little to do with ideology. In the factories in those days, nobody dared to call himself “Bolshevik” for fear, not only of arrest, but of a beating from the backward workers.”, “...you must remember that the political development of the masses proceeds not in a direct line, but in a complicated curve. They were surprised by a mutiny in the elite Pavlovsky Regiment, whose cadets rebelled when they heard that their fellow soldiers had shot civilians. Melancholy reflections have not so far, however, prevented people form bearing or being born. Learn more about the Russian Revolution in … No revolution is inevitable, but it feels perverse to minimize longer-term factors so energetically. Demonstrators in homemade helmets and padded jackets waved red banners demanding an end to Russia’s involvement in the world war. 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