Charles wrote:There you are getting into a problem which has interested theorists for years without coming up with a definitive answer, namely what causes a Revolution?
A sitting government, with access to an army, police, courts and prisons is usually well placed to divide, marginalise and suppress its enemies.
If you look at Tsarist Russia in 1917, the government of Nicholas II had been in a state of immobility for years. Russia was developping, industrialising, developping a business class, but the government had granted very few democratic freedoms or needed legal and social reforms. The mass of the population in the country was still living in primitive conditions under archaic laws. The Tsarist governement had a very thin layer of support (nobles, army officers, rich businessmen). Nicholas II himself was a very poor statesman unable to understand or cope with the situation. With the large loss of life and poor results of WW1, he lost what little support he had left and abdicated in early 1917.
At that point, total anarchy broke out, Russia went from a country where nothing was permitted to where everything was permitted. Workers, peasants, soldiers started making all sorts of pie-in-the-sky demands, as a result, the bureaucracy and the economy collapsed. In other words, the liberal Kerensky governement was completely unable to meet the suddenly enormous expectations of the population. That anarchic situation is what allowed the Bolsheviks the opportunity to seize power, basically by getting in front of the crowd.
of course, that is just one theory.
Carrington wrote:Actually, I think there's a fair argument that Russia 1905-1914 was making some political progress, if nothing else because defeat by the Japanese in 1905 had had some salutary impact. Certainly, Russian wartime performance 1914-1916 must be viewed 'glass half-full' or 'glass half-empty' rather than as a sign of complete social or political bankruptcy. Remember that both Russia and France were on the verge of collapse by 1916, but France could call upon Anglo-American military and financial support in a way that Russia could not.
Charles wrote:Another factor to consider was the resiliency of institutions. In say France, the UK and Germany, you had developped and resilient institutions, local governments, police, army, news media, local notables (farmers, businessmen) who were loyal to the existing system and actively participated in squashing any potential communist uprising. In Russia, for a variety of reasons, those institutions were weaker and thinner on the ground and were not able to provide the same level of support.
Carrington wrote: (I might even tease you that your Marxist-Leninist-(Trotskyist) stripe is showing through)
#2 - social conditions were different in Russia than elsewhere; in which case it was a particular set of objective conditions existing in Russia which allowed the Revolution to succeed.
I tend to favour theory #2 since if you examine all the countries where a home grown communist revolution has succeeded (Russia, Yugoslavia, China, Vietnam, Cuba), you see a roughly similar pattern: weak government with little popular support, rural/semi-industrialised economy, poor standard of living, etc.
If you look at the initial Bolshevik coup of oct. 25, 1917, a handful of party members seized key government buildings in Petrograd and Moscow. At that time, the Russian Army still had millions of troops in the field. It would have been a simple matter to bring back a few regiments and establish order. It is hard to see the same stunt succeeding in London or Berlin.
The fact that the Bolsheviks were left in place and allowed to consolidate power shows that they had a certain level of popular support. Partly, of course, this is due to the fact that Lenin and the boys were very adept at crafting their policies to match public opinion, but the overall objectives of the Party at that time did match the popular mood in many segments of the Russian society.
Now, no doubt that episode was embellished by Soviet propaganda, but it is hard to see the same thing happening in London or Berlin.
Charles wrote:#2 - social conditions were different in Russia than elsewhere; in which case it was a particular set of objective conditions existing in Russia which allowed the Revolution to succeed.
it's like being a catholic, it never entirely rubs off.
Carrington wrote:One thing I notice is that Liberals and Marxians share a blind spot when examining social conditions. In general, they neglect to consider war and its aftermath as a crucial 'social condition' for revolution... this despite the fact that, empirically, failed war seems a necessary (though probably not sufficient) condition for revolution within a great power.
Within that context, I'd argue that the particularities of war become very important: vis. the failure of revolution in Germany (1919) has almost everything to do with the fact that the Armistice left German state structures (and the German military) threadbare but essentially intact. The Tsarist state, by contrast, had shredded itself in its supreme effort to withstand the German onslaught. The question was not whether the state would topple, but rather who could fill the vacuum
Raptor1 wrote:How would you explain Hungary in 1919, then? Hungary was fairly developed and used to be the seat of one of the most powerful monarchies in history, yet it became a Soviet Republic, which, unlike the others in Germany, only fell when the Romanian army marched into Budapest. The main difference was that, beside the Republican government having little support, the Communists held all the guns.
marcusjm wrote:Main reason like I wrote before, was stronger Social Democratic parties, they soaked up alot of the potentials. They also had longer time to build up their base support.
Another reason was of course that the extreme blodshed in Russia made it harder to recruit those on the fence .
My money is still on Germany (or at least state side), going Communist had not the Bolshevik takeover succeeded.
Baris wrote:Cooperatives without state should be the latest stages of "Utopia" , according to Marx. It wasn't possible in under developed Russia.
ERISS wrote:Maybe Ukraine was more developed than Russia, as real federated soviets were possible, in the freed makhnovist area. They managed the common life and met to solve big problems.
Those ukrainians went directly at the latest stage, as the so previous stages were useless and even very dangerous (bolshevist state->cheka,etc).
Charles wrote:I was looking at the wiki entry for the failed revolution in Germany 1918-19
I can't vouch for its accuracy, but did not see any obvious errors.
That was an anarchist/ultra-left revolution (the bavarian republic was the more "succesfull"), they were against Lenin and its Bolshevists.
The "right wing" of this revolt was the more known of this revolution, and the less numerous!: the spartakists.
The german Socialist Party just wanted the power, and its hierarchy used the ultra-right soldiers (in 1920 some went the 1st nazis) to slaughter the revolution. This socialist party had to kill many of its own militants.
Baris wrote:will be happy to read more about Ukranian Makhnovism. and ideas about "Nestor Makhno"
Baris wrote:Spartakists and Rosa Luxemburg was right wing? Social democrats? You mean they were not anarchists?
ERISS wrote:"Nestor Makhno, Le Cosaque libertaire, 1888-1934 (La Guerre Civile en Ukraine, 1917-1921)", Alexandre Skirda, Les Editions de Paris, 21€
In English I don't know, but, if translated, all books where Alexandre Skirda is involved are very good.
The "right wing" of this revolt: The other revolted were more to the left! (yes it can be lol)
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest