|Anna M. Cienciala (firstname.lastname@example.org)||
The Rise and Fall of Communist Nations
Spring 2002 (Revised Spring 2010)
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at web.ku.edu.
Marx and the Marxists.
The Origins and Development of Marxism in Western Europe; Russian History: Key
Problems and Revolutionary Traditions; Russian Marxism before 1914.
Socialism is defined as (a) the common [social] ownership of the means of production
and (b) the just distribution of the fruits of production: "from each according to his ability,
and to each according to his work" (Karl Marx).
Communism is supposed to bring about: (a) the common ownership of the means of
production and (b) distribution of the fruits "from each according to his ability, and to each
according to his needs" [wants];" (c) the state will wither away (Marx). a
I. The Precursors of Marx.
(a) The ideological roots of common ownership in the West are found in Christianity,
as practiced by religious orders of monks and nuns. Christianity also teaches the equality of
all souls before God. This was not taken to mean equality of all human beings on earth; on
the contrary, each man was subject to higher powers (St. Paul). However, the 14th century
followers of the English religious reformer, John Wycliff [1320-84], said: "When Adam
plowed and Eve span, who was then the Gentleman?"
Like Wycliff in England, so Jan Hus [1368-1415] in Bohemia (Czech lands), attacked
the abuses of the church and denied the authority of the pope. In fact, he led a Czech revolt
against the corruption of the German-controlled church in his land, which was, in turn,
controlled by Rome. Thus, Hus preceded Martin Luther by about 100 years. Common
ownership of property was practiced by the Taborites in 15th century Bohemia, while equality
on earth was taught by the Anabaptists in 16th century Germany and their descendants, the
Mennonites. (Some of the latter emigrated to the American colonies in the late 1600s, and to
southern Russia in the late 1700s; most of the latter emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in the 1800s). Equality
was also taught by the Levellers of 17th century England. Of course, communal property also
existed in non-Western societies, e.g., the Native Americans and is also practiced by
(b) The Enlightenment of the 18th century evolved the idea of inalienable human
rights, which were then proclaimed by the American constitution of 1788, the American Bill
of Rights, 1789, the French constitution of 1789, and the Polish constitution of May 3,
1791. The key right was equality, which meant equality before the law.
(c) The French Revolution, which began in 1789, and lasted until Napoleon Bonaparte
(1769-1821), became First Consul in 1799, marked not only the great breakthrough of
egalitarian ideas in Europe, but also -- unlike the American Revolution -- the
destruction of most of the old social-economic order in France, as well as in some of the countries
conquered by her armies in the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
The most important act of destruction was the abolition of feudalism, which freed the peasants..
In revolutionary France, there was violent conflict and foreign wars, which led to the
persecution of the church and the nobility. For a time, to a reign of terror affected many
French citizens. For a short period of time, in 1792-94, the government controlled prices and
centralized arms production to improve war supplies. France was then at war with powers which opposed its revolutionary slogans and, especially, the execution of the King and Queen of France..
However, when the French radical Francois-Noel Babeuf (1760-1797) -- known after
a Roman tribune as "Grachus" -- formed the "Conspiracy of Equals," demanding the equal
distribution of goods to all, this was too radical even for the French revolutionary government of
the time, and he was guillotined in 1797.
Napoleon Bonaparte made himself Emperor of the French in 1804, thus abolishing
the Republic. After his defeat by the Western powers and Russia in 1815, France was by turns
a monarchy (1815-48), the Second Republic (1848-52), the Second Empire (Napoleon III,
1852-70), and the Third Republic (1870-1940). [The Fourth Republic was established in
1944; it was followed by the Fifth Republic which exists today].
It took France almost a hundred years to establish a true democracy, i.e., rule by a
democratically elected majority (1870), but Frenchmen remained divided over the legacy of
the French Revolution almost down to our own days. The problem is that the legacy of the
French Revolution is a dual one: of both democracy and terror. Therefore, Frenchmen were
deeply divided between the defenders of this legacy, the Republicans, many of whom were
anti-clerical, on the one hand and the Catholic Church and the Monarchists, later Conservative, on the other.
This division persisted in some ways until August 1944, i.e., in French right-wing movements
and then the government of "Vichy France," under Marshal Henri Philippe Petain (1856-1951), who collaborated with Hitler's Germany in 1940-44. * This division was also visible in
some parts of France during the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the revolution in
1989, and exists among historians even today.
*(Petain believed that surrender and cooperation with Hitler was the only way to save France from the massive bloodletting that she had suffered in WW I, 1914-18. Most Frenchmen agreed, at least for a while. He was condemned to death for treason in 1945, but ended his life in jail at age 95.)
Although the French Revolution inspired revolutionaries all over the world, the Russian revolutions of 1917, and communism gained ground thereafter, democracy prevailed in most of western Europe.*
*[For Central and Eastern Europe, see Hist. 557, Nationalism and Communism in Eastern Europe:htt://web.ku.edu~eceurope/hist557.]
(d) Utopian Socialism [a term coined by Karl Marx, although his was no less utopian].
This was both a protest against the evils of early industrialization, and a continuation of the
Enlightenment quest for human happiness. The most famous early socialist thinkers were
Frenchmen: Claude-Henri de St. Simon (1760-1825), Francois Marie Charles Fourier (1772-1837), Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865), Jean Joseph Louis Blanc (1811-1882), and
Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881). They tried to work out economic-social systems to
benefit mankind. They opposed private property, capitalism, and the powerful state. Indeed,
Proudhon, the anarchist, opposed the state on principle.
In England, the first organized welfare community for workers was created by the
industrialist and philanthropist Robert Owen (1778-1858), at his cotton mills in New Lanark.
He later organized experimental communities in Orbiston, near Bothwell, in Harmony,
Indiana, in County Clare, and in Hampshire, England. However, all these experiments in
utopian socialism ended in failure.
II. Karl Marx.
Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883) is generally recognized as the "father" of modern
socialism. He was a bitter critic of early industrial-capitalism. His thinking was influenced
profoundly by two German philosophers. They were:
(a) Georg W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), a German philosopher, who created the concept
of the "dialectical process of history," i.e. thesis, antithesis and synthesis. He conceived it as
a spiritual process, i.e., the will of God in History, and saw its culmination in the Prussian
(b) Ludwig A. Feuerbach (1804-1872), a German philosopher who taught that "man
is what he eats," and thus originated the philosophy of materialism.
Marx combined these two philosophies into the concept of dialectical materialism -- the
conflict of opposites leading to constant, progressive change-- and the closely allied concept
of historical materialism, i.e. the Marxist analysis of history in which clashes in production
relations, i.e., between classes of society, are paramount [see under "Key Ideas of Karl Marx,"
The Life of Karl Marx.
Karl Heinrich Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in the city of Trier, in the Rhineland. This region
had been ruled by local German princes and was awarded to Prussia by the Congress of
Vienna in 1815. His father, a prominent lawyer, converted from the Jewish faith to
Protestantism in order to preserve his post as a Prussian civil servant; he also married a Christian.
Marx studied philosophy at the universities of Bonn and Berlin, where he was strongly
influenced by Hegel and the movement of the Young Hegelians, who rebelled against
organized religion and the Prussian state. In 1842, the newspaper he edited was closed down
by the Prussian government. He went to Paris in 1843, where he met Friedrich Engels (1829-95), a German industrialist, whose father owned textile factories in England. Friedrich became
a life-long friend and financial supporter of Marx.
In 1845, Marx and Engels were both in Brussels and helped establish the Federation
of the Just, which later became the Communist League. On the invitation of a London
organization of workers, they wrote The Communist Manifesto, which came out just before
the February 1848 revolution in Paris. The manifesto was a bitter attack on capitalism,
forecasting its "inevitable" decline and replacement by communism.
Marx then settled in London, England, where he spent most of his time in the British
Museum (now the British National Library), studying economic history. He wrote Das
Kapital, a critique of capitalism (vol. I, 1867), and founded the International Workingmen's
Association in 1864. Known as the First International, it was supposed to direct the
worldwide struggle for the revolution, but internal splits made it too weak to do so and it was
dissolved at the Philadelphia Congress of 1876. (1)
The Key Ideas of Karl Marx.
These must be seen in the context of (a) the egalitarian and humanist ideals of the 18th
century Enlightenment; (b) the radical phase of the French Revolution; and (c) the evils of
early industrialization, i.e., long hours; low wages; the terrible working and housing conditions of the workers.child labor; enormous profits for the
capitalists; and"boom and bust" cycles of production which led to unemployment.
Marx, who had been educated in the spirit of the Enlightenment, had rebelled against
the Prussian state. He also violently opposed the evils of industrialization. Influenced by the
Enlightenment and by the general interest in science, as well as by French socialists and
German philosophers, he sought to construct a "scientific" explanation of history, and thus
a "scientific" forecast of the future -- one that was to be very different from the past.
Marx's key ideas were:
1. Socialism. This was to establish common ownership of the means of production
(nationalization, i.e., abolition of privately-owned land, factories, shops); there was to be an
equal distribution of goods, according to work performed.
2. Capitalism was presented as the root of all evil. Therefore, private ownership of the means
of production, the profits drawn from surplus value [the difference between the value of the
product and the value of capital input], and the market economy, were all condemned as the
exploitation of the working class, which was called the proletariat (from "proletarius," the
lowest, free citizen of ancient Rome). This proletariat was said to be exploited by the ruling
class, which was called by the French name of bourgeoisie (from "bourg," the name used for early medieval
European towns), i.e. the middle class.
3. History was seen as the history of class struggle (see "Historical Materialism" below).
4. Private property was perceived as the basis of class divisions.
5. The state was seen as the instrument of the ruling class, which used it to defend its own
interests, the basis of which was private property. Therefore, the abolition of private
ownership of the means of production (in the capitalist-bourgeois system this meant land,
machinery, factories, etc.) would, Marx taught, abolish classes and thus create a classless
society. Since this society would not need a state, Marx said that "the state will wither
On these assumptions, Marx built the following concepts:
1. Historical Materialism. According to this doctrine, the economic base (property
relations) determines the political and cultural superstructure (the political system, culture,
History was viewed as proceeding through defined stages of economic development:
(1) Primitive society with common ownership (here Marx used American Indian tribes as
examples); (2) Slave societies (e.g., ancient Egypt); (3) Feudal society (medieval Western
Europe was the model); (4) the capitalist-bourgeois society, as in 19th century Western
Europe; (5) socialism, and (6) communism. Except for stages 1 and 6, where all property was
held in common, the ruling class owned the means of production, i.e. land, trade, industrial
2. According to Marx, the dialectical process of economic development meant there
were contradictions within each stage of development; these led to conflict, whose resolution
led to a new stage. For example, the feudal society (thesis) had its antithesis (contradiction)
in the bourgeoisie; this led to a clash (revolution) and to a new synthesis, i.e., bourgeois
society. This in turn had its antithesis in the workers (proletariat). A workers' revolution
against the bourgeois-capitalist state would lead to a new synthesis, socialism. This stage
would, with time, peacefully develop into the final stage of economic-social development, i.e.,
3. The decline and disintegration of capitalism were seen as inevitable, because the
free play of the market economy would lead to cycles of overproduction, i.e., "boom and
bust." Overproduction, together with the shrinking of markets, would lead not only to
massive unemployment of the workers', but also to the impoverishment, ruin, and, therefore,
"proletarization" of the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, according to Marx, capitalism was bound to
collapse and open the way for socialism.
4. But, we may ask, if the fall of capitalism was inevitable, why was revolution
necessary to bring about socialism? After all, Marx taught that no new stage of economic
development could appear before the full development of the productive forces of the
previous stage had taken place, and before these forces had disintegrated. Marx explained that
revolution was necessary because the ruling class would fight to defend its power, as it did
in the revolutions of 1789, 1830, 1848. For Marx, revolution was the force moving history
However, he did see a possible exception to this rule in countries which had developed
democratic systems in his time, i.e., Britain, Holland, USA. (Note: This possible exception would lead to "revisionism," i.e., the concept of "democratic socialism," see sec. III below).
For a while, Marx even saw the possibility of a socialist revolution in economically
backward Russia, i.e. without its passing through the capitalist-bourgeois phase. He saw a
bridge to Russian socialism in the traditional communal landholding system as practiced in
the Russian village commune (mir). However, after Marx's death, Engels abandoned this idea.
5. How did Marx see the establishment of socialism? He said that revolutionary
workers would seize power and destroy the old state apparatus. For this purpose, there would
be an interim stage called the dictatorship of the proletariat. Once the old state apparatus had
been destroyed, a socialist society would be established and this would lead to a communist
Here we should note that Marx based his concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat
on the Paris Commune of March-May 1871. Since this brief phase of French history was very
important for the evolution of radical socialism, a brief summary of it is given below.
The Paris Commune of 1871.
After the defeat of the army, led by Napoleon III, by Prussia in the
Franco-Prussian War of September-October 1870, Paris underwent a 4 month siege and
capitulated to the Germans on January 28, 1871.The French government signed a humiliating
armistice. Elections were held all over France and produced a right-wing government, which
signed a peace treaty with Germany.
The people of Paris rejected the peace treaty and established their own government
on March 18 1871. It was based on the National Guard (city militia), and called itself the
Commune. Government was carried out by a Central Committee of the Paris National Guard.
The new French government sent troops and guns against the people of Paris and fighting
Out of eighty-one elected members of the Commune, thirty-five were artisans (skilled
workers who produced goods by hand); eighteen were middle class intellectuals; about
forty had been involved in labor movements and belonged to Marx's International; nineteen
were members of the National Guard. (2)
Although there were many shades of view in the Commune and it existed only
for two months, its social legislation was striking. For example, workers were allowed to take
over the factories of absentee owners who had fled Paris . Attempts
were made to organize arms production on a cooperative basis. There was to be basic,
elementary education, free of charge for all and special attention was given to women's
However, without the support of the rest of France, the Commune was bound to
collapse in the face of superior military force. This happened after a week of bloody fighting
("Bloody Week," May 21-28), when French government troops prevailed over the Commune
forces. The Commune's military commander was a Polish revolutionary, Jaroslaw Dabrowski (1836-71,
pron: Yaroslaf Dombrofskii), who died on the barricades. There was great brutality on both
sides; the "Communards" executed two captured generals and some priests, including an
archbishop; in revenge, the victorious government executed a number of revolutionaries,
while imprisoning and deporting many others to the colonies.
Nevertheless, the spontaneous "people's" rising which led the Commune, as well as
its political structure and social legislation, provided the model of a future state for both
socialists and anarchists. In November 1917, the Russian Bolshevik leader, Vladimir I. Lenin, was to count the days to see whether the
Bolsheviks would hold power longer than the "communards" of Paris in 1871.
6. However, although Marx evolved the concept of the dictatorship of the
proletariat, which he based on the Paris Commune, we should note that he opposed the
establishment of a communist party. His view was that educated believers, i.e., communists,
should educate the workers politically, but should not form a political party of their own.
1. All of history is not just a history of class struggle. In fact, the major wars of history
were fought by societies of the same type against each other, i.e., slave, feudal, bourgeois,
societies. Furthermore, in our own century, we have seen splits between communist
countries, e.g. the Soviet-Yugoslav split of 1947-55, also the Soviet-Chinese split, which
became public in 1960 and was not resolved before the fall of communism in the USSR in
August 1991. Fidel Castro of Cuba refused to acknowledge that the reforms of Mikhail S.
Gorbachev (top Soviet leader 1985-end 1991), or the collapse of communism, had any application to Cuba. Likewise, the rulers
of communist North Korea, Vietnam and the People's Republic of China, have refused to
develop democracy, although the last two have been experimenting with a limited free market
There was also a long drawn out war in Kampuchea (Cambodia) between the
communist Khmer Rouge and communist Vietnam, in which China supported the Khmer
Rouge, while the USSR supported Vietnam. The United States supported Prince Norodom
Sihanouk - while opposing the Khmer Rouge, which he recognized - and the Cambodian
government set up by Vietnam (see ch. 12).
We should also note that during World War II, countries with different political-economic systems made agreements and cooperated with each other, for example, Hitler's Germany and
Stalin's USSR in 1939-41. After Hitler attacked Russia in June 1941, there was an alliance
between the communist USSR, on the one hand, and capitalist Britain on the other, while the
capitalist United States gave enormous material aid to both against capitalist Nazi Germany.
Thus, national interests have proven stronger than political-economic systems in determining
2. Capitalism has not collapsed, although it came near to collapse in late 1929, setting off the Great Depression, and a Great Recession in 2008, both of which began in the USA and affected the rest of the world. On the whole, however, Capitalism has evolved and adapted itself to changing times. In fact, capitalism cannot survive without the buying power of masses of consumers who must, of course, be employed in order to buy goods. Western capitalist societies have become democratic societies in which the people participate as voters and thus influence policy.
3. In the so-called "socialist states" such as the former USSR, its former Central and East
European satellites, also in today's People's China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba, the state
did not wither away. On the contrary, it had, and has absolute power over the people.
4. The ideal of a classless society was not realized in any "socialist" state ruled by
communists. In fact, equality was mostly theoretical, since each "socialist" state had its own privileged elite made up of high party officials, industrial managers (all party members), security police officials, as
well as officially sanctioned artists, writers, scientists, doctors, and athletes. All these people enjoyed
a much higher standard of living than the vast majority of the people. At the same time,
communist states did provide free education and services to their peoples - except, of course,
for those perceived as political or class enemies, or as politically unreliable.
They were usually condemned to prison, or forced labor, or shot.
5. Socialism has failed as an economic system. After initial and sometimes impressive
economic growth, the centrally planned and controlled economies of the USSR, Central and Eastern
Europe, began to stagnate in late 1950s or early 1960s, depending on the country. Some
"socialist" states, e.g., Hungary under Janos Kadar (ruled 1956-89) and China under Deng
Xiao Ping (1979-99), experimented in compromises between centrally directed economies
dominated by the party on the one hand, and a certain amount of private enterprise on the
other. These experiments proved largely unsuccessful, except for Chinese private farms and
commercial enclaves in some of the coastal areas. China has, however, emerged as a great industrial and military power.
Since 1989, some of the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe have succeded in the transition from a "socialist"
(really Stalinist) model of the centralized and nationalized economy, to a capitalist
economy. Poland has been leading the way in this direction since the creation of the first
majority non-communist government in Eastern Europe in September 1989.
6. There is a basic contradiction between Marx's insistence that there must be a
revolution to make socialism possible, and his admission that there may be some exceptions
to this rule in democratic states. In fact, democratic socialism has won through the ballot box
at various times during this century in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Scandinavian
countries, Spain, Portugal, and others.
Lenin, of course, developed the concept of dictatorial or totalitarian socialism, but we
will come to that later.
III. Socialism in Western and Central Europe to 1914.
Traditional European socialist parties are democratic, in the true sense of the word,
i.e. they abide by the ballot box. Although socialist parties developed in all European
countries in the late 19th century, the two major parties were the German and French socialist
parties. (An American Socialist Party was founded and led by Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926),
who ran unsuccessfully for President in the elections of 1900, 1912 and 1920).
The German socialist, Edward Bernstein (1850-1914), developed the concept of
revisionism, i.e. that socialists should come to power not by revolution but by winning the
majority of votes in free elections. The French socialist leader, Jean Jaures (1859-19l4)
accepted the same premise. Thus, by the late 19th century, the West and Central European
socialist parties, including the vast majority of Austrian, Polish, Czech and Hungarian
socialists, had abandoned the dogma of revolution as the means of coming to power. Finally,
the British Labour Party never espoused revolution. (4)
But there was also a radical strain in Central European socialism. Two socialist leaders
who violently opposed revisionism were Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919), a German socialist,
and Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919). Rosa came from a prosperous, assimilated Jewish family
in Poland. She was a cofounder of the left-wing Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of
Poland and Lithuania (Polish acronym: SDKPiL, see "Socialist Parties in the Russian Empire,"
below). However, she was active mainly in the German Socialist Democratic Party (German
Rosa Luxemburg witnessed the mass strikes in Warsaw (at that time in Russian
Poland, a part of the Russian Empire) during the Russian Revolution of 1905. On this basis,
she developed the concept of "spontaneous revolution" evolving from mass strikes.
Therefore, she saw Lenin as a "Red Tsar," i.e. she condemned his doctrine of a centrally-led
communist party with decision-making at the top (On "Democratic Centralism," see Lenin
below). In January 1919, she was a co-leader with Karl Liebknecht of the failed "Spartacist"
revolution in Berlin, when they both lost their lives (see ch. 2).
IV. The Key Problems of Imperial Russia and the Influence of Russian History on the
Soviet Political System.
1. The Political Legacy of Imperial Russia.
To understand the undemocratic development of Marxism by Lenin and Stalin, we
must bear in mind the influence of Russian history, and in particular Russia's absolutist political
Despite some power sharing with the "boyars" (nobles) in the "Zemskii Sobor"
(Assembly of the Land) and "Boyar Duma" (Noble Legislature) in the middle ages and early
17th century, an absolute monarchy developed in the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, which
expanded over time into the Russian empire. The latter was characterized by the absolute
power of the Tsar until the revolution of 1905. From 1906 until 1917, Russia was ruled by
a pseudo-constitutional monarchy. Thus, there was an elected legislature, the Duma, but it
was produced by indirect elections - not by all citizens, but by classes, each of which had a
limited number of votes - and it did not control the budget, although it could influence its
allocation (see "Revolution of 1905," below).
2. The Multinational State.
We should also remember that the Russian Empire was, like the USSR, a multinational
state, i.e. only about 50% of the population was Russian, although Russians formed the
single most numerous ethnic group and ruled both states. Furthermore, Russia and then the
USSR were Eurasian powers, i.e. they were part European and part Asiatic, so part of the
population in both cases was Asian.
The "Great Russians" (Russians proper) had conquered and then dominated the non-Russian peoples of the Russian empire, just as they did in the USSR. It is true that Joseph V. Stalin (1879-1953) was an ethenic Georgian, but he adopted Russian thinking and traditions to become one of the most powerful rulers in all of Russian history. The multinational
character of the Russian Empire and the USSR meant that each state had a "nationality question." This is also to some extent true of the Russian Federation today.
3. The Nationality Question and the Non-Russian Peoples of the Empire.
In imperial Russia this was not a serious problem, except for Russian Poland which
revolted several times in the period 1794/1905-07. However, the multinational makeup of
the empire was a potential disintegrating factor; therefore, it worried Russian rulers and
statesmen. Indeed, disintegration did take place briefly during the period of revolution and
civil war in 1917-21, but the Bolshevik-led Red Army managed to crush independence
movements and subordinate to Moscow most of the nationalities that had been part of the old
empire. Nevertheless, Poland, the Baltic states managed to win and retain their independence
until 1939/40. (Finland also became independent in 1918, but lost some territory to the USSR
As the USSR weakened and as Mikhail S. Gorbachev (b. 1931. top Soviet leader 1985-91) tried to introduce both economic and
political reforms, the nationality question came very much alive in the USSR, especially in
the Baltic states, -- Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), also in Ukraine --in the Caucasus, i.e., Georgia,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, and in Soviet Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan). By
spring 1991, the non-Russian republics proclaimed their sovereignty; they
became independent after the failed right-wing coup against Gorbachev in August 1991. Boris
Yeltsin tried to maintain cooperation with some of the former Soviet republics in the
Community of Independent States (CIS), but in practice this has worked only with the
Belorussian Republic (Belarus,see ch. 8)..
[To help the reader understand the disintegration of the USSR into national states,
short histories of the major non-Russian peoples are given in the Appendix at the end of this
4. Economic Backwardness.
Despite significant economic development in the period 1892-1914, the Russian
Empire was an economically backward power on the eve of World War I. Out of a population
of some 166 millions, only about 2 million were industrial workers most of whom lived and
worked in the western part of the Empire. Only about 1% of the population belonged to the
middle class in the Western sense of the word, and about 1% consisted of nobles
Russia's economic and social structure was the combined result of the economic and
social backwardness of most of Eastern Europe, and thus of the region's history. The Ottoman (Turkish)
conquest of the Balkans (Southeastern Europe) in the period 1350-1526, and the shift of
trade routes from the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas to the Atlantic, which took place with
the discovery of America, meant that most of Western Europe developed trade, together with
urbanization and a middle class, while most of Central and Eastern Europe retained an agricultural-feudal
system. Unlike western and central Germany, western Poland and the Czech lands, which
developed along western lines, former East Germany, Slovakia, eastern Poland, Hungary, the
Balkan lands and Russia failed to continue the development of towns and trade which had
flourished in their lands in the Middle Ages. In southern and central Russia, this development
was crushed in the mid-1200s with the Tatar/Mongol invasion, although trade continued to
flourish in the city of, Novgorod. However, Novgorod was annexed to Moscow by Ivan
III, the Great (1440-1505), who deported much of the population and ended the city's self-government.
The shift of trade to Western Europe meant that in the period from about 1500 the state of
Poland- Lithuania -- which included Belorussia and Ukraine -- supplied Western Europe
with grain and raw materials (e.g. timber, leather, linen, flax, etc.). Russia was also a supplier
of iron, sailcloth, and rope for western countries. In both areas, the period from around 1500
onward saw the growth of large estates and the enserfement of the peasants who were tied to
the land, along with increasing labor obligations to their landlords.
Although the situation of the peasants was bad all over Eastern Europe, it was worst
in Russia. Here, they could be bought and sold until the middle of the 19th century, although
in most cases they went with the land. Thus, except for the latter, they resembled the African-American slaves in the ante-bellum South. The emancipation of both these peoples came at
about the same time, in Russia in 1861, and in the U.S. with the victory of the Northern states
in the civil war in 1865, although Lincoln's decree freeing the slaves came two years earlier. However, emancipation did not solve the peasant question in Russia
(see point 5 below).
When modern industry developed in Western Europe, most of Central and Eastern Europe --
except for the industrially well-endowed Czech lands-- fell even further behind. However, we should note that economic
development was not uniform in all of Western Europe either; thus, Portugal, Spain, and most
of Italy remained underdeveloped until the second half of the 20th century.
5. The Peasant Question in the Russian Empire.
For a longer time than was the case in East Central Europe (where emancipation took
place mostly as the result of the revolutions in the Austrian Empire in 1848), at least half of
the population of the Russian empire was made up of peasants, who were landless serfs, until
the Emancipation of 1861. Sometimes, however, even serfs shared the land with nobles,
though neither had title to it. After emancipation, however, the peasants did not have enough
land to support themselves and their families. Therefore, the key social-economic problem in
the Russian empire, both before and after 1861, was the peasant question.
6. Industrialization and the Worker Question.
Large-scale industrialization in Russia began around 1880, i.e., much later than in
Western Europe. In fact, it was a good hundred years behind Great Britain and about forty
years behind Prussia (later the German empire). We should note that this was also true of
most of East Central Europe, with the exception of the Czech lands and cconomic
backwardness also persisted in S.Eastern Europe,also known as the Balkans.
Russian industrialization brought with it the same evils as in Western Europe: low
pay, long hours, bad working conditions, and child labor. Furthermore, Russian workers were concentrated
in large numbers in key industrial centers such as St.Petersburg (later Petrograd, Leningrad,
and now again St. Petersburg), Moscow, Kharkov (now Kharkiv), and Krivoi Rog. Many also worked in the oil
industry whose center was in Baku (later, the capital of Soviet, now independent Azerbaijan).
These workers constituted the Russian "proletariat," which later formed the mass base for the
socialist parties of Russia (see below).
V. The Russian Revolutionary Tradition and the Intelligentsia.
Tsarist absolutism, as well as the injustice inherent in the social-political structure of
the empire, led to criticism, protest, and finally revolutionary movements.
We should distinguish here between traditional peasant revolts, the greatest of which
occurred in 1670-71 (Stenka Razin) and in 1774 (Yemel'yan I. Pugachev), on the one hand,
and the political revolutionary tradition, on the other.
Peasant revolts aimed at seizing the land. At the same time, the peasants looked to the
Tsar as their "father," who, they believed, was misled by greedy landlords and would listen
to them if only they gained access to him. Although the revolts were put down ruthlessly, the
myth of the "little father" persisted until the workers' massacre in St. Petersburg on "Bloody
Sunday," which set off the Russian Revolution of 1905-07. Unlike the leaders of the peasant
revolts, political revolutionaries aimed to change the political system.
1. Revolutionary Nobles.
The first genuine political revolt occurred in December 1825 with what is known as the Decembrist Revolt in St. Petersburg. Here, a group of some 200 nobles tried and failed to prevent Nicholas I from mounting the throne after the death of his brother, Alexander I. Most of these nobles had read the works of key Enlightenment figures; many fought against Napoleon and reached Paris with the army of Alexander I. Thus they had seen France, loved Paris,* and some had spent time in England too. They aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy in Russia.
*[According to hearsay, the name of a French type of bar with quick service, the "Bistro," comes from the Russian word for quick"bystro."]
They wanted to establish this type of monarchy, not under Nicholas I -- who was
known as supporting absolute monarchy and succeeded Alexander I (1771-1825, ruled 1801-1825) -- but under his older brother, the Grand Duke Constantine, the viceroy in Russian
Poland. He had married a Polish lady and, therefore, renounced his claim to the Russian the
throne in favor of Nicholas, but this was a state secret unknown to the revolutionary nobles.
Those who wanted to establish a constitutional monarchy assumed that Constantine would
accept the throne of Russia along with a constitution. After all, Alexander I had granted a
constitution to the Kingdom of Poland, which was ruled by Constantine. However, the latter
had no knowledge of the plot and from what we know about him, was unlikely to
have agreed had he known of it.
In any event, Nicholas I (1796-1855) easily crushed the revolt, after which 193 nobles were arrested. However, the goal of
establishing a constitutional, and this time democratic monarchy, was reborn in the shape
of late 19th and early 20th century Russian liberalism (see "Revolution of 1905," below). But
before we proceed to that period, we should consider some key views on Russia's history and
2. Key Views of Russia's History and Destiny.
Before 1861, there were two main schools of thought on the future of Russia:
(a) On the one hand, the Westernizers condemned Russia's backwardness; they taught that
she must abandon her primitive traditions and learn from the West. Their first spokesman,
Peter Y. Chaadayev (1793-1856), was declared "insane" and confined to his house under a
doctor's care by Nicholas I. * Although the Westernizers were a minority among educated Russians, but their view that Russia must learn from the West found many adherents later on.
(For the intelligentsia, see point 3 below).
(b) On the other hand, the Slavophiles (lovers of the Slavs) taught that the West was old and
decadent, while Russia was young and pure. They believed that Russian peasants were the
hope and promise of the future; that the Russian Orthodox Church and Tsarist absolutism
were the best religious and political systems in the world. The Slavophiles' chief contribution
to future debates was the idealization of the Russian peasant. At the same time, they also
claimed that Russia was the natural leader of all Slavic peoples. The key challenge to this last
doctrine came from the rebellious, Catholic, Poles, whom the Slavophiles detested.
These two philosophies were to influence the revolutionary thinkers of Russia for a
long time to come.. They became part of various political doctrines and are still present in the
political debates going on in Russia today between advocates of western economic-political
systems and those who claim that Russia must follow her own special path.
While the first revolutionaries were nobles who wanted a constitutional monarchy,
from the mid-19th century onward they were mostly radicals who came from impoverished
noble families, or the sons of priests, who thus had some education. They went into the liberal professions or the civil
service, but were devoted to reforming Russia. These educated, concerned, people made up
a special class called the intelligentsia.
3. The Intelligentsia.
In Russia, as in East Central and Southeastern Europe, a special class developed in
the 19th century, called the intelligentsia. This meant people with a high school and/or
university education, who were also, in various degrees, devoted to reforming the political
and social system.
In the early 19th century, higher education meant having a high school diploma,
generally known as the "matura" or certificate of maturity, which is still required in Russia
and much of Europe for entering a university. This diploma was given after passing exams
based on a rigorous high school education roughly equivalent to, and often more extensive,
than our present bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees. From the mid-19th
century on, there was a growing number of highly educated professionals, such as teachers,
physicians, scientists, engineers, lawyers, architects, writers, journalists, etc., who formed the
Most of these people wanted reforms in the political system. However, while some wanted liberal, democratic, and constitutional reform, until about 1890, most saw revolution as the only way to change the system. Thus, until that time, the word intelligentsia meant educated people who were radicals, i.e. they wanted the overthrow of the Tsarist regime. But after about 1890, the professional intelligentsia, whose members supported liberal and peaceful reform, came to outnumber the radical or revolutionary intelligentsia.
Since the majority of the professional intelligentsia did not support violent revolution, this
created an identity crisis for the Russian intelligentsia as a whole.
There are various estimates of the number of people with high school and/or university
education on the eve of the first and then the second Russian revolutions of 1917, but it was probably around 2% out
of a population of about 168,000,000. (This included Russian Poland, where, however, the
combined noble-intelligentsia percentage was much higher, i.e. about 8-10%). This estimated
2% of educated people in the Russian Empire included the some 240,000 bureaucrats and
officials who were, of course, overwhelmingly loyal to the government, and some 130,000
owners of large estates, many of whom favored moderate, liberal reforms, while others were
satisfied with the reforms of 1905-06.
Although on the eve of World War I, the active Russian radical or revolutionary
intelligentsia was a minority of this class as a whole (in 1900, radicals probably numbered no
more than 50,000), they were to play the key role in the revolutionary movements of the years
Here we should note that up to 1861, the revolutionary intelligentsia's chief objective
was the emancipation of the peasants. This had been first demanded in 1790 by Alexander N.
Radischev (1749-1802), who portrayed the inhuman treatment of the peasants in his book The
Journey from St.Petersburg to Moscow. He even called for revolution and was sentenced to
death, by Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great, 1729-1796, ruled 1762-1796).
However, she commuted his sentence to banishment in Siberia. (He was allowed to return to
his estate and was recalled to St. Petersburg by Alexander I in 1801, but became despondent
over the chances of emancipation and committed suicide the following year).
4. The Emancipation of the Peasants.
Tsarist officials had studied means of effecting emancipation for some time before
1861. The key problem was that serf labor was seen as vital to the continued existence of the
landed estates, which in turn provided the livelihood of the Russian nobility. They, in turn,
provided the Tsar with his high officials and army officers.
Finally, the defeat of Russia by France and Britain in the Crimean War (1854-56) and
the simultaneous outbreak of peasant revolts in the empire, led Tsar Alexander II (1818-81,
ruled 1855 81), to decree the emancipation of the peasants in 1861. The reform was
enthusiastically welcomed by the intelligentsia and Alexander II was called the "Tsar
Liberator," both for emancipating the peasants and for liberating the Bulgarians from Turkish
rule in 1878 the Russo-Turkish War). He also liberalized Russian cultural and political life.
However, the emancipation proved to be a great disappointment. Most of the peasants
did not get enough land to live on, and also had to pay a high price for the little land they had,
so their redemption payments were spread out over many years. The government issued
bonds to the nobles to compensate them for the loss of serf labor; but its value, as well as that
of the land "sold" to the peasants, was fixed much too high. The redemption payments were
intended to recoup the government for the bonds issued to the nobles, but the payments were
50 years in arrears when they were finally cancelled in 1906.
New revolutionary movements stemmed from the disappointment with emancipation.
This led to the assassination of the "Tsar Liberator" in 1881, and then to a new period of
repression. Thus, after 1861, and especially after 1881, new revolutionary movements came
into being: anarchism, nihilism, and populism. Of these three, the last was the strongest and
the most significant, so it will be discussed below.
Populism, or "going to the people," began in the 1870s. Idealistic members of the
young intelligentsia, called narodniki (from narod = the people), went to live in the villages
to help the peasants improve their lives, and above all to educate them into a revolutionary
force. However, the peasants did not trust these people and betrayed most of them to the
After this experience, in 1879, some populists formed a revolutionary party, the Narodnaya Volya (People's Will), which aimed at revolutionary change through killing key members of the ruling elite. Thus, Narodnaya Volya carried out a number of assassinations, including that of Alexander II; they also attempted, but failed, to assassinate Alexander III in 1886. Later, its younger members joined the Bolsheviks (1903), but the majority joined the Socialist Revolutionary Party (see "Socialist Parties of the Russian Empire," below).
Most actives socialists lived in exile in western Europe, e.g. Vladimir.I. Lenin (1870-1924),
the future Bolshevik leader, and Georgii V. Plekhanov (1857-1918), the "father" of Russian
6. Revolutionary Thinkers and Writers.
Revolutionary thinkers, who were also writers, spread their ideas among the
intelligentsia, for the vast majority of the people was illiterate.
Among the revolutionary thinkers and writers of the 19th century, we should note the
following names: Vissarion G. Belinsky (1811-1848), Alexander Herzen (1812-1870), and
Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876), who was the most prominent anarchist of his time. Nikolai G.
Chernyshevsky (1828-1889) established the basis for revolutionary populism, preparing the
ground for Russian Marxism, while Piotr N. Tkachev (1844-1885) contributed organizational
Of the revolutionary thinkers and writers of the late 19th century, the ones who had
the greatest impact on Vladimir I. Lenin were Chernyshevsky and later Tkachev.
Chernyshevsky wrote a political novel that greatly influenced two generations of the Russian
intelligentsia, including Lenin. In What is to be Done, the author's model for a future, just,
society was a cooperative; in this case, it was a group of independent women who earned
their living by working as seamstresses and dressmakers. He was a follower of the French
socialists; he also preached that the arts must serve revolution. As for Tkachev, he believed
that revolutionaries must be professionals; they were to devote their lives to working for the
revolution. They should form a small, tightly-knit, revolutionary party, seize power, and
implement socialism by using the machinery of the state under their control. It is clear that
both these thinkers had a great influence on the creators of the future Soviet Union. Indeed,
Tkachev has been called "the first Bolshevik." However, it is unlikely that he exerted any
influence on Lenin before the early 1900s, by which time Lenin had already formed his
political ideas and organizational structure.
7. Russian Liberalism.
There was also, however, as mentioned earlier, a moderate school of political thought,
which looked to Great Britain as a model and had its Russian antecedents in the ideas of the
Decembrists of 1825. Russian liberalism developed among progressive nobles and
professional intelligentsia. Both saw local self-government (instituted under Alexander II) as
a stepping stone to a constitutional monarchy, i.e., a parliamentary system on the British
The Russian liberals were able to organize themselves politically after the revolution
of 1905 (see below).
VI. Russian Marxism Before Lenin.
A Russian translation of Marx's Das Kapital came out in 1872. The Tsarist censors
approved its publication because it was so difficult to read. (Try it you'll see!) Therefore, the
censors assumed few people to read it, and assumed it would have little or no impact. They turned out to be quite wrong, for
Marxism became the leading revolutionary doctrine in late 19th century Russia.
The first Russian Marxist group was The Liberation of Labor, founded in 1883 in
Geneva, Switzerland, by Georgii V. Plekhanov (1856-1918), Pavel B. Axelrod (1850-1928)
and Vera Zasulich (1849-1919), all of whom were revolutionary intellectuals. The key
question they faced was: how to establish socialism in backward Russia? As mentioned
earlier, Marx thought at one time that the Russian peasant commune might provide a bridge
to socialism, but the idea was dropped by Engels. Plekhanov and his supporters concluded
that a Socialist revolution could not succeed in Russia unless it coincided with such a
revolution in economically developed Europe, an idea adopted later by Lenin. Plekhanov
also developed the concept that a socialist-democratic party had to lead the workers to
revolution, another concept taken over by Lenin..
1. The first Socialist Workers' Party in the Russian empire was established in Warsaw, Russian Poland, in 1882. It was founded by Ludwik Warynski (1856-1889) and was called Proletariat. It had very few members and was soon crushed. Warynski died in the infamous Schlusselberg Fortress prison in St. Petersburg.
2. In 1892, the Polish Socialist Party (Polish acronym: PPS) was established in Paris.
This was both a national and a socialist party, for it aimed at the restoration of an independent
Poland as a democratic, socialist state. One of its early members was Jozef Pilsudski (pron:
Joosef Peewsoodskee, 1867-1935). He fought for Polish independence, became the head of
the restored Polish state in November 1918, and defeated the Red Army, which almost reached the gates of
Warsaw, in August 1920. Later, he established an authoritarian type of government. Most Poles view him as the greatest statesman of 20th century Poland.
3. In 1893, a rival party was established (mentioned earlier), The Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland; later it added the words and Lithuania (Polish acronym: SDKPiL). Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) was its co-founder, along with Feliks Dzierzynski (pron: Dzierzhynskee, 1877-1926). However, the SDKPiL never had more than a few thousand members and that mostly during the revolutionary years, 1905-06. This was so because it opposed an independent Poland, condemning independence as a "bourgeois" idea. It was, therefore, "internationalist," for it worked for an international, socialist, revolution.
*[ He later became the first head of the Cheka, or Bolshevik
security police, the forerunner of the OGPU, NKVD, later KGB, today the FSB.]
4. 1897 saw the establishment of a Jewish Socialist Party, called the Bund (the
association). We should note that millions of Jews lived in the Pale, i.e. the zone of Jewish
settlement originally established by Empress Catherine II. The Pale encompassed former
eastern Poland -- now western Ukraine and Belarus -- Russian Poland, and Crimea. (see Appendix at end of chapter, section e).
5. In 1898 came the establishment of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party
(Russian acronym: the RSDRP), which united all Marxist groups, including Plekhanov's. Its
chief ideologue, Peter B. Struve (1870-1944) wrote the party's manifesto. It stated that the
Russian working class must help the small, weak, Russian middle class make a revolution to
overthrow Tsarism. This was an adjustment of Marxism to the Russian situation, in which
the bourgeoisie was too weak to accomplish a bourgeois revolution by itself. (A few years
later, however, Struve joined the Constitutional Democrats, or Cadets). Marxist movements
and parties also developed in Finland and Georgia, then parts of the Russian Empire.
6. The Socialist Revolutionary Party (S.R) was established in 1902. Its key leaders
were Victor M. Chernov (1873-1952), and Nikolai D. Avksent'yev (1878-1943). After
initially following a terrorist policy of assassinating high government officials (including
Stolypin in 1911, see "Revolution of 1905, Reforms," below), the party adopted a policy of
pursuing its aims by peaceful means.
The S.R. program proposed the establishment of a federal Russian state with self-determination (self-government) for the non-Russian peoples. Most importantly, it proposed
the socialization (nationalization) of the land, which would then be leased to peasant farmers
to be worked collectively along the lines of the traditional Russian peasant commune (mir).
The S.R.s were the peasant party of Russia; they were to gain majorities all over the country
after the Russian revolution of March 1917. However, they also had a Labor wing, the
"Trudoviki," one of whose leaders was Alexander F. Kerensky, (1881-1970), later head of
the Provisional Government in 1917.
VII. Vladimir Il'ich Lenin (Ul'yanov), 1870-1924.
1. The Young Lenin.
Lenin (his revolutionary name) was born in Simbirsk (later Ul'yanovsk), about 120
miles southwest of Kazan, into an intelligentsia family. His father was an inspector of schools
and thus an ennobled civil servant, a great achievement given the fact that Lenin's
grandparents had been serfs. Lenin's elder brother, Alexander, was a revolutionary populist,
and was executed in 1887 for his involvement in the plot to assassinate Tsar Alexander III.
(Note that Jozef Pilsudski's elder brother was involved indirectly in the same plot and both
were exiled for several years to Siberia).
Lenin read widely in his brother's library, which had many books by Russian
revolutionary thinkers. According to historian Richard Pipes, he became a revolutionary
populist (Narodnaya Volya) and then a Marxist. In fact, as he later admitted, he had tried to
reconcile Marx with Narodnaya Volya. (5) After expulsion from the University of Kazan for
his presence in revolutionary activities, he obtained a law degree as an external student of the
University in St. Petersburg. However, he had great contempt for "bourgeois law." He went
on to teach workers to read, write, and be revolutionaries. He was arrested in 1895 and exiled
to a village in Siberia, where he was able to read widely. After his release in 1900, he went
to Geneva, Switzerland, and joined Plekhanov's Marxist group there, which dominated the
RSDRP (Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party).
2. Lenin's Key Political Ideas and the Split in the RSDRP.
Soon, however, Lenin split away from Plekhanov's group because of his belief in the
need to: (a) create a small, tightly knit professional revolutionary party, in which he was
influenced by Narodnaya Volya, his reading of Chernyshevsky and Nechaev; and (b)
Democratic Centralism. The first meant that only those people ready to devote their entire
lives to the revolutionary cause should be party members; the second meant that leading party
organs were to be elected in a hierarchical step-by-step fashion, i.e. delegates elected at the
lowest level proceeded to elect delegates to the next level and so on. There was to be free
discussion on policy matters, but once decisions were made by the leadership, they were to
be obeyed by all party members.
The RSDRP split over these two issues at the party congress of 1903, which opened
in Brussels but moved on to London. Here Lenin was opposed by Plekhanov and most other
delegates, who wanted a large, democratic party, including sympathizers. Also, all party
members were to debate policy freely at all times.
Lenin's supporters won some resolutions at the congress and lost some, but they
happened to win a majority vote on the two key issues when most of their opponents had left
for dinner. This victory led them to adopt the name "BOLSHEVIKS," or the majority (from
the Russian word: bolshinstvo = majority), while the minority were called "MENSHEVIKS"
(from: menshenstvo = minority). There were temporary reconciliations between these two,
but they failed to reunite.
The Mensheviks, led by Yuliy O. Martov (1873-1923, real name: Tsederbaum), were
orthodox Marxists. They believed that there must first be a bourgeois revolution in Russia,
and only after the full development of capitalism could there be a socialist revolution. They
also believed in socialist democracy, i.e. the right of all socialist parties to exist, and in their
subordination to "the will of the people." They opposed the use of violence and were, in fact,
the majority in the RSDRP until June 1917.
*[Note on Dates: Until 1582, the Catholic world used the Julian Calendar, introduced
by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. In 1582, Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian Calendar established by Pope Gregory XIII. because the Julian calandar was 10 days behind the
correct date. England and the United States continued to use the Julian calendar until the 18th
century. Russia continued to use it until Feb. 1918. In Russian dating , this is called the "Old
Style," (O.S.); hence, many dates before that time are given in OS. In the 20th century, it was
13 days behind the western calendar. The Russian Orthodox Church continues to use the
Julian Calendar alongside the Gregorian.]
3.The Revolution of 1905-07.
The revolution of 1905-07 was the result of three main factors:
(a) the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), due to Japanese military-naval superiority, as well as Russian economic backwardness, corruption and reckless leadership;
(b) workers' resentment against low pay and bad living conditions;
(c) the peasant desire for more land.
These factors were aggravated by famine, caused by a series of bad harvests. Of
course, most of the Russian intelligentsia wanted political reform, but their numbers were too
small to accomplish it by themselves.
The revolution began with Bloody Sunday, January 22 [9 O.S] 1905, when a procession of
workers led by the priest Georgii A. Gapon (1870-1906) -- who worked to help Orthodox workers with the knowledge of the security police and had apprised them
of this event -- approached the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. They wanted to present a
petition to the Tsar, but he was at his residence outside the capital, Tsarskoe Selo. The
commander of the troops lost his nerve and ordered them to shoot at the people, killing many
of them. The massacre of Bloody Sunday changed the attitude of the workers and peasants
toward the Tsar. Many of them ceased to look to him as the "Little Father," and began to
think that only revolution could change the system and thus improve their lives. We should
note here that Gapon had been working with the knowledge of the Tsarist police. After the
massacre, he went abroad and joined the Socialist Revolutionaries. However, the discovery
of his former ties with the police led to his assassination by three SRs in 1906.
In many ways, the revolution of 1905 was a "dress rehearsal" for the Russian
Revolution of March (February O.S.) 1917. In 1905-06, there were mass strikes all over the
Russian empire, including the major industrial centers in Russian Poland: Warsaw and Lodz.
A Soviet (from the Russian word: sovetovats = advise) i.e. a Workers' Council was first
organized spontaneously by striking workers in the industrial city of Ivanovo, about 150 miles
northeast of Moscow. Then a Soviet was established in the capital, St. Petersburg. Its second
Deputy Chairman was Leon Trotsky (1879-1940, real name: Bronstein), who was then a
Menshevik. However, despite the defeat of Russia by Japan, the army remained loyal to the
Tsar, so the revolution was crushed. Trotsky escaped to the West, where he continued to
work for the Mensheviks.
4. Political and Economic Reforms after 1905.
The key effects of the revolution were political and economic.
In the political sphere, the Tsar granted a constitution, which recognized civil rights,
including the right to form political parties, and the establishment of a legislature, called the
Duma (from the Russian word: dumats = to think).
Of the right-wing political parties established at this time, the most important were:
(a) the liberal Constitutional Democratic Party, known as the Cadet Party, which
was led by the historian Paul N. Miliukov (1959-1943) and Peter Struve.
(b) the conservative, loyalist Octobrist Party (named after the Tsar's manifesto of
October 1905), led by Alexander I. Guchkov (1862-1936) and Mikhail V. Rodzyanko (1859-1924). The Duma also included left-wing parties, including the RSDRP. However, the
government soon made restrictive changes in the electoral law, so that the Octobrist Party
came to dominate the legislature. After an initial decision to boycott the Duma, Lenin decided
that the Bolsheviks should sit in it to propagandize their political ideas.
In the economic sphere, the most important factor was land reform. This was carried
out in the Stolypin Reforms, named after Peter A. Stolypin (1862-1911), who was Minister
of the Interior from 1906 until his assassination in 1911 by an S.R. terrorist - who managed to get through Stolypin's guarads because he worked officially as a police agent.
These reforms aimed at creating a wealthy peasant farmer class, which would be loyal
to the Tsar. This meant the gradual abolition of the village commune (mir). Private family
farms were to be created by peasants buying up and then consolidating the land, hitherto
divided into strips subject to periodical redistribution among the families of the mir. The banks
gave credit at easy rates to peasants who had already shown success in farming. The poor and
landless peasants were expected to emigrate to Siberian farms, or to work in the growing
industries in the urban centers of western Russia.
These reforms had been long debated by government bureaucrats, but Stolypin was
able to implement them due to the shock dealt to the government by the revolution. He
brought about a cancellation of the peasant "redemption" debts (payment for the land they had
acquired in 1861), and created credit facilities for buying more land and tools. However, only
a small percentage of peasants was able to benefit from these reforms, while most remained
either landless, or without sufficient land to make a living.
Thus, the peasant problem remained the key problem in Russia even after 1905.
Perhaps a few decades of peace, along with major industrial expansion, would have mopped
up much of the rural overpopulation, but the First World War broke out in 1914.
5. Lenin's Conclusions from the Revolution of 1905.
Like other socialists before him, Lenin believed that a socialist revolution was not
likely to occur first in Russia. Still, after the 1905 revolution, he accepted the need for
cooperation between workers and peasants. He had great contempt for the peasants, but
realized that their desire for land could be a powerful revolutionary force. This concept of the
worker-peasant smychka (rapprochement, fraternization) was another adaptation of Marxism
to Russian conditions.
6. Lenin's Political Concepts on the Eve of War and Revolution.
The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 found Lenin abroad, first near
Krakow in Austrian Poland, and then in Zurich, Switzerland. He strongly opposed the war,
calling it an "imperialist, capitalist, war," and appealed to workers everywhere to rise up and
end it. However, the socialist parties of the belligerent powers supported the war, and only minority left-wing radicals everywhere opposed it.
(Note: Russia was an ally of Great Britain and France: The Triple Entente of 1907, also Japan. These powers fought against Germany and Austria-Hungary, known as the Central Powers. Italy was a non-belligerent on the side of the latter until 1915, when it entered the war on the side of the Entente Powers).
Although Lenin did not believe the revolution would come in his lifetime, by 1917,
he had developed a set of political concepts, some of which worked, while others did not.
These concepts were:
(a) The need for a small, professional, highly disciplined, revolutionary party;
(b) Policy matters were to be debated by all party members, but once a decision was
made by the leadership it was binding on all party members. This concept, which Lenin called
"democratic centralism" was taken from Narodnaya Volya, and was also laid down by
(c) All other socialists were treated as rivals and/or enemies. They were faulted for
"trade union consciousness," that is, stressing the improvement of workers' pay and
conditions, instead of revolution. Later, the Bolshevik tactic would be to split these parties
into right and left wings, and annex the latter.
(d) The need for a peasant-worker alliance, the smychka,
to bring about revolution in Russia . This idea came from Lenin's conclusions about the revolution of 1905-07.
(e) The need for a successful revolution in one or more economically advanced
countries of Europe, which would then help the Russian revolution to survive and implement
socialism. This was originally an idea formulated by Plekhanov.
(f) During the war, Lenin also developed a concept which explained the continued
existence of capitalism and predicted its final demise. In 1916, he wrote a book based on the
ideas of two Western economists -- the Englishman, John Atkinson Hobson (1850-1940) and
the Austrian ( later a naturalized German) Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941). Lenin's book was
titled Imperialism. The Highest Form of Capitalism. In it he argued that once the great powers
lost their colonies they would lose the markets that capitalism needed to survive. Thus, he
explained the survival of capitalism by the existence of imperialism, and, therefore, predicted
that the end of the latter would also be the end of the former. This theory was to be the basis
of later Soviet policy, which supported anticolonial revolts. Finally, Lenin saw Russia as the
weakest link in the imperialist-capitalist system. As it turned out, the theory was disproved
when European powers lost their overseas empires after World War II, but capitalism did not
1. The Second International was founded in Paris in 1889 and lasted until 1919. The Third
International, founded by Lenin in Moscow in March 1919, was known as the Comintern
(abbreviation of Communist International), and was officially dissolved by Stalin in May 1943.
Stalin took this step in order to calm Western suspicions, but he did not lose control of
communist parties abroad, which continued to take their directives from Moscow.
2. These were not necessarily separate categories, since some members belonged to more
than one, see Stewart Edwards, ed., The Communards of Paris, 1871, Ithaca, New York and
London, 1973, pp. 27-30; the book has a bibliography of the subject.
3. Free, compulsory, elementary and middle school education became the norm in Europe after 1870. Most people did not have the means to support their children through High School, necessary for access to university studies.
4. For the British Labour Party, see John Saville, The Labour Movement in Britain, London,
Faber and Faber, 1988.
5. Lenin to Karl Radek on his attempt at reconciling Narodnaya Volya with Marxism, see
Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1990, p. 347.
The Non-Russian Nationalities of the Russian Empire.
1. The Peoples of the Western Provinces of the Empire.
(a) The Baltic Provinces, inhabited by the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian peoples
were, for most of their history, ruled by foreign powers. The first two peoples living in what
was known in German as Livland, or Livonia, were conquered in the early Middle Ages by
the German Knights of the Sword, while the Lithuanian ruler Wladyslaw Jagiello [Lith. Jogailo] married
Queen Jadwiga of Poland in 1386, laying the foundations of the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth. All three Baltic peoples were taken over by Russia in the course of the 18th
century, partly from Sweden and partly from Poland. Russian statesmen came to believe that
Russia had to control these territories, since they could prove to be an invasion route into
Russia, as shown by Napoleon's invasion of Russia from Lithuania in 1812. In fact, however,
Russian-controlled Poland was seen as the key to Russian defense against invasion. At the
same time, the Russian Empire exploited the Baltic seaports, especially Riga and Tallinn,
which were generally ice-free in the winter.
National consciousness evolved among the peoples of this region in the second half
of the 19th century, when they developed their own written languages and literatures. In the
years 1918-40, there were three independent states -- Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
However, in the secret protocol to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939, modified by
the German-Soviet Treaty of September 28, 1939, these states were placed in the Soviet
sphere of influence. (Germany first obtained a part of northwest Lithuania, but exchanged it for some
Polish territory in the treaty of September 28, 1939, and Stalin also paid Hitler $3,000,000
for it). In the second half of June 1940, they were occupied by the Red Army, after which
rigged elections were held to make them into Soviet republics. They were conquered by the
Germans in summer 1941, but were reconquered by the Red Army in 1944/45, when they
again became Soviet republics. In both 1940-41 and again in 1944-48, Soviet authorities
killed and deported thousands of native citizens. After World War II, they implemented a
policy of settling Russians, who thus came to form significant percentages of the population
in Latvia and Estonia. They regained independence in 1990. (For developments since 1988, see ch. 8).
(b) Finland was annexed by Russia from Sweden in 1809, but was granted
autonomous status. It was an independent state in the years 1918-45, but lost some territory
to the USSR after the "Winter War" of 1939-40. It was an ally of the USSR in 1945-89, but
enjoyed self-government and pursued its own economic policies.
(c) Belorussia and the Ukraine were under Polish rule from the 16th century until the
partitions of Poland in the late 18th century, when they were annexed by Russia (which had
taken eastern Ukraine in 1654). As a result of the Polish victory in the Soviet-Polish War in
1920, their western regions came under Polish rule until September 1939. As a consequence of the
secret protocol of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23, 1939, modified by the German-Soviet
Treaty of September 28, 1939, these territories -- where the majority was Ukrainian and Belarusian, with 33% of the population ethnically Polish and about 10% Jewish-- were annexed by the USSR. Soviet authorities held rigged elections to local
Soviets in October 1939, which then "requested" union with the Soviet Belorussian and
Ukrainian republics. They also deported about 300- 400,000 people in 1940-41, mostly ethnic Poles, many of whom -- mostly the very old and very young -- died by late 1941. The territories were conquered by the Germans in
summer 1941, but were again annexed by the USSR in 1944 (see ch. 5).
National consciousness began to develop among these peoples in the second half of
the 19th century. The policies of russification implemented harshly by the Russian government
after 1880, served to strengthen national consciousness.
We should note here that the greatest development of Ukrainian national
consciousness occurred not in eastern and central Ukraine, which were part of the Russian empire, and
where the Ukrainian language was repressed, but in East Galicia, which was part of Austrian
Poland in the period 1771-1914. In the years 1867-1914, the Austrian government fostered
the development of the Ukrainian language, literature, education, and a rural cooperative
movement. These trends continued under Polish rule in the period 1919-39, but by that time
the Ukrainians of this region wanted independence.
In East Galicia, as in Lithuania, the Poles formed the upper class; they owned large
estates and formed most of the intelligentsia. Therefore, both the Lithuanian and Ukrainian
national movements were anti-Polish, though both were also anti-Russian.
Ukrainian and Belorussian national movements, repressed by Stalin and his successors,
revived after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and led to independence (see ch. 8).
(d) Russian Poland and the Poles.
In the Polish lands, the largest of which was Russian Poland, national consciousness
was more highly developed than in the other nations of Eastern Europe, which were under
foreign rule. This was due to a long history of Polish statehood (966 A.D. to 1795) and thus
the development of a large, educated, noble class. The latter was followed by the Polish
intelligentsia, which emerged from impoverished gentry in the second half of the 19th century.
Poland also had a strong Roman Catholic Church, which was part of the Polish national
identity. The nobles, the intelligentsia, and the church preserved and developed the Polish
national identity under foreign rule.
Here we should note that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest and
strongest power in Eastern Europe between 1410 and 1648. It developed a parliament and
a noble-gentry democracy. The Commonwealth was made up of Poland, Lithuania and
Belorussia. It also ruled the Ukraine, but Polish 17th century attempts to make it a full-fledged member failed due to the opposition of the Cossack masses. The Polish nobles
constituted the ruling class. Hence, though its official name was the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth, it is also called Poland.
There were many Polish-Russian wars over the "borderlands:" the Baltic Provinces,
Belorussia, and Ukraine. Although Poland was the victor in some of these wars, especially
in the late 1500s, it began to decline in the mid-17th century. This was due mainly to a long
series of wars with the Swedes, Cossacks, Russians, and Turks. The wars bankrupted the
crown and led to the rise of great magnates with private armies. At the same time, Poland's
neighbors, Prussia, Austria, and Russia, developed strong absolute monarchies and great
armies. From 1648 to 1772, Russia expanded westward at Poland's expense.
Though Poland was partioned between Russia, Austria and Prussia 1772, 1793, and
1795), its national identity was not destroyed. Indeed, by the end of the 19th century, Polish
national consciousness embraced all classes. This period witnessed a second great age of
Polish literature (the first was in the 16th century), and the spread of literacy, especially in
western and southern Poland ( Prussian and Austrian Poland), and to a lesser extent in central
In 1815, Russian Poland was given the status of a Kingdom within the Russian empire.
This was known as the "Congress Kingdom," or "Congress Poland," since it was established
at the Congress of Vienna, which ended the Napoleonic Wars. Under the liberal constitution
granted by Alexander I, the Kingdom had its own legislature, administration, army, and
educational system under a Russian viceroy, the Grand Duke Constantine. However, when
Alexander I died in 1825 and was succeeded by the repressive Nicholas I, the Poles chafed
against Russian rule and revolted in November 1830. Though the revolution was crushed in
1831, emigre politicians, soldiers and writers continued to struggle for independence from
abroad. In the years 1831-64, the "Great Emigration" was based mostly in France.
A second revolt against Russian rule took place in 1863-64. As in 1830-31, lack of
outside aid led to defeat. This time, the Poles were subjected not only to ruthless oppression
but also to russification. Both defeats, but especially the second, led to the deportation of
thousands of Poles to Siberia. However, the struggle for independence revived after 1880,
under the leadership of a new generation of young patriots. Some fought again for Polish
independence in the revolution of 1906-07, which included Russian Poland.
The important point to note here is that the rulers of Russia regarded Polish
nationalism as the most dangerous threat to their country, fearing that a reborn Poland would
again lay claim to their western borderlands. At the same time, most Poles saw the Russians
as their greatest oppressors and later, as the greatest threat to their independence. This dual
legacy was to have a decisive impact on Polish-Soviet relations after 1917.
Austrian Poland, known as Galicia, enjoyed free political and cultural development in the period 1868-1914; therefore, it replaced Paris as the center of the national movement. Prussian Poland, however, was subjected to a policy of germanization in the period 1871-1914.
Of course, all the peoples of Russia's western provinces wanted autonomy or
independence from Russia. They were to get their chance with the collapse of imperial Russia
in 1917, the defeat of the Central Powers in 1918, and then the Russian Civil War of 1918-21
(see ch. 2).
(e) The Jews.
Another non-Russian people of the western part of the Russian empire were the Jews.
They had been welcomed by Polish medieval kings, who valued them for their skills as
financiers, merchants, and artisans. Escaping persecution in other European countries, they
flowed into Poland in the Middle Ages. Here they enjoyed freedom of religion and extensive
As Poland expanded eastward, the Jews came into Lithuania, Belorussia and the
Ukraine, especially the latter, where they often managed large Polish estates; they also settled
in the towns and later in villages. Here, they were the tavern keepers, which meant they traded
with the peasants and were the local money-lenders. The first anti-Semitic violence occurred
in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1648, with a pogrom (destruction) of the Jewish population by Ukrainian
Cossacks, who also massacred Polish nobles. This pogrom was similar to the anti-Semitic
outbursts in medieval and early modern Western Europe.
When the Russian Empress Catherine II, the Great (1729-1796, ruled from 1762-1796) annexed the eastern Polish lands, she found that Russian merchants resented Jewish
competition. Therefore, in 1772, she set up a special Jewish zone in the Russian empire called
the Pale. In 1804, it was extended to include the Caucasus and, in 1835, Lithuania,
Belorussia, the Ukraine, Russian Poland and "New Russia:" the region along the Black Sea.
Jews could not travel or work outside the Pale without special permission, though their
religion and communal institutions were generally respected.
The vast majority of the Jews living in the Pale practiced the Jewish religion, mostly
of the Hassidic or Orthodox type. In the Ukraine, many lived in Jewish villages called
"shtetls," though most lived in small provincial towns. A small minority chose to assimilate,
i.e. become Russians, while a small number of those in Russian and Austrian Poland, became
Poles. We should note that unlike the Jews of Poland and Russia, the vast majority of Jews
in Austria, Hungary, Germany, Western Europe and later the United States, became fully
assimilated citizens of those countries.
Violent anti-Semitism appeared in Russia in the last quarter of the 19th century. It
stemmed from religious-linguistic differences, as well as from resentment against the
economic status of the Jews. Though the vast majority of the Jewish population was poor,
the Russian peasants saw them as rich shopkeepers and money lenders. This anti-Semitism
was expressed in pogroms, which meant attacks on Jews and destruction of their property.
These attacks were condoned by the Russian government.
The pogroms took place mostly outside of Russian Poland. Although there was one
in Warsaw in 1882, it was fomented by the Russian authorities and was condemned by Polish
public opinion. It was only in the 1890s that the National Democratic Movement, led by
Roman Dmowski (pron: Demofskee, 1864-1939), began to preach anti-Semitism in Poland.
At this time, anti-Semitism also developed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the German
Empire, and even raised its head in France (the Dreyfus case). The bloodiest pogrom in
imperial Russia took place in Kishinev (now Chisinau, Moldova) in 1903.
The pogroms led to the emigration of large numbers of Jews from Russia proper to
Russian and Austrian Poland, thus increasing the already high percentage of Jews living there.
Many also settled in Vienna. After 1885, many Russian Jews emigrated to the United States.
Another Jewish reaction to both Russian and Austrian anti-Semitism was the Zionist
movement, founded in Vienna in 1896 by Theodor Herzl (1860-1904). He advocated the
establishment of a Jewish state and decided this should be Palestine. A few Jewish settlers
arrived there before 19l4, when it was still part of the Ottoman (Turkish) empire.
Finally, a certain number of young Jews broke away from their religion and culture;
they joined the socialist parties of the Russian empire, or their own party, the Bund (see
"Socialist Parties in the Russian Empire" in ch. 1 above). A secular Jewish literature, theater
and press developed, written in Yiddish (based on German). Jewish culture and politics
experienced their greatest development in Russian Poland, and were to flower in independent
Poland. However, the vast majority of the Jewish population here was religiously, socially,
and politically conservative; it continued to lead its closed, traditional way of life.
f. The Volga Germans.
These were the descendants of German colonists brought in by Catherine II, the
Great, to improve Russian agriculture. They were mostly Catholics and settled along the
banks of the lower Volga, near Saratov, in the 1760s. Many emigrated to the U.S. in 1870-80 to escape compulsory military service, and some settled in and around Fort Hayes, Kansas,
where they built St. Catherine's Church.
In 1918, the Volga Germans were organized into an Autonomous Workers'
Commune, transformed in 1924 into an Autonomous Republic. However, Stalin abolished it
soon after the German invasion of the USSR on June 22, 1941, and had most of the
population deported to labor camps in Siberia, where many died. Along with the Crimean
Tatars, the Volga Germans were excluded from Khruschev's 1957 decree "rehabilitating"
peoples deported in the Stalin era. Since that time, however, many were allowed to leave the
USSR for West Germany; most of them left after Gorbachev came to power (1985). In spring
1991, the Soviet government restored the Autonomous German Volga Republic.
2. The Peoples of the Transcaucasus.
The peoples of the Transcaucasus, the Georgians, Armenians (the latter of whom
also lived in Turkey), and the Azerbaijanis or Azeris, were conquered by Russia in the course
of the 19th century. The Armenians were the first people to convert to Christianity (303
A.D.) and had their own "Gregorian Church," while the Georgians are Greek Orthodox
(same church as in Russia, but with its own head). The Azerbaijanis are Moslems. All three
developed national movements in the late 19th century, though the Georgian national
movement became fused with the Marxist movement in the Russian Empire. All three peoples
experienced brief independence in the wake of the Russian revolutions of 1917 and civil war
(1918-21), but were then conquered by the Red Army and made into Soviet republics. Their
movements for independence revived in 1988-90 (see ch. 8).
3. The Peoples of Central Asia.
The peoples of Central Asia, are the Kazakhs, the Kirgiz, the Turkmen, the Uzbeks,and the Tadzhiks.
They were conquered by Russia at various times during the 18th and 19th centuries;
they were (and are) Moslems. Again, all of them developed various degrees of national
consciousness, which they expressed during the period of the Russian revolutions and the civil
war, i.e., 1917-21, but were crushed and made into Soviet republics. Their movements for
independence revived in 1989-90.
4. The Tatars.
The Tatars (or Tartars) are the descendents of the Mongols, who invaded Russia and
Eastern Europe in the 13th century. They founded their own states in areas south and
southeast of Russia proper, adopted the Moslem religion, and were for a time under the
sovereignty of the Ottoman empire. They are divided into (a) the Kazan Tatars on the Volga
and Kama rivers; (b) the Crimean Tatars; and (c) the Tatars of Turkestan.
They were conquered by Muscovy in the 16th century (Kazan), then by the Russian
empire in the 18th century (Crimea), and in the 19th century (Turkestan).
The late 19th century saw the development of a Tatar press and a Tatar Moslem
identity. The Tatars tried to establish an autonomy of their own in the period of the Russian
revolution and civil war, but failed. Stalin deported the Crimean Tatars as punishment for
their alleged collaboration with the Germans in World War II. (Some did collaborate, and
some even joined special units in the German army; however, it is difficult to say what
percentage of the population really supported the Germans). They wereexcluded from the
"rehabilitation" of deported peoples in 1957, and their leaders are still struggling for
permission to return home. However, this is a very difficult problem because their living space
in the Crimea has been taken over by Russian and Ukrainian settlers.
1. Marx and Marxism.
(a) Biographies of Karl Marx.
Isaiah Berlin, Karl Marx. His Life and Environment, London, 1939.
F. Mehring, Karl Marx, Eng. transl., New York, 1936.
Boris Nicolaevsky and Otto Maenchen-Helfen, Karl Marx: Man and Fighter, Penguin Press, 1973, Pelican Books, 1976, Great Britain.
Fritz J. Raddatz, Karl Marx. A Political Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1978.
(b) Surveys and Interpretations of Marxism.
Sidney Hook, Marx and the Marxists, New York, Anvil, 1955.
Sidney Hook, World Communism, New York, Anvil, 1961.
Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism; vol. I, The Founders; vol. 2 The Golden Age; vol. 3 The Breakdown; Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1978. (By a Polish philosopher, formerly a Marxist, this is now considered one of the best works on the subject).
George Lichtheim, A Short History of Socialism, New York, Praeger, 1970.
(c) Russian Marxism.
Avraham Asher, Pavel Axelrod and the Development of Menshevism, Cambridge,
Samuel H. Baron, Plekhanov: The Father of Russian Marxism, Stanford, California, 1966.
Nicolas Berdyaev, The Origin of Russian Communism, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1948, 1955. (A Russian philosopher's view, stressing Russian antecedents).
Robert J. Brym, The Jewish Intelligentsia and Russian Marxism, New York, 1978.
Israel Getzler, Martov: A Political Biography of a Russian Social Democrat, Cambridge,
Leopold H. Haimson, The Russian Marxists and the Origins of Bolshevism, Cambridge,
Neil Harding, Lenin's Political Thought. Theory and Practice in the Democratic and Socialist Revolutions, vols 1-3, first published in 1977, 1981, 1983; combined paperback edition, Humanities Press, USA, 1983. (This work covers the subject to 1914).
John L. H. Keep, The Rise of Social Democracy in Russia, Oxford, 1963.
Richard Kindersley, The First Revisionists: A Study of Legal Marxism in Russia, Oxford,
Martin Malia, Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism, 1811-1855, Cambridge,
Arthur P. Mendel, Dilemmas of Progress in Tsarist Russia: Legal Marxism and Legal
Populism, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1961.
Donald W. Treadgold, Lenin and His Rivals: The Struggle for Russia's Future, 1898-1906,
New York, 1955.
Henry J. Tobias, The Jewish Bund in Russia: From Its Origins to 1905, Stanford, California,
Adam B. Ulam, The Bolsheviks. The Intellectual, Personal and Political History of the
Triumph of Communism in Russia, New York, Collier Books, Macmillan, 1965. (This
has much information on Lenin's youth and the development of his ideas against the
background of the Russia of his time; it also covers the revolution and his years in
power. See also books by R.Pipes and D. Volkogonov).
Franco Venturi, Roots of the Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements
in Nineteenth Century Russia, New York, 1960.
Albert L. Weeks, The First Bolshevik. A Political Biography of Peter Tkachev, London and New York, 1968.
2. Russian History, Society, Literature and the Arts, Before 19l7.
Richard Pipes, Russia under the Old Regime, London, 1974.
Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution, New York, 1990 (chaps. 1-5; this is the most recent
western historical treatment; excellent on Lenin's youth on which see also: Dmitri
Volkogonov, LENIN. A New Biography, trans. by Harold Shukman, New York,
1994, ch. 1,2).
Marc Raeff, Understanding Imperial Russia. State and Society Under the Old Regime, New
Hugh Seton-Watson, The Decline of Imperial Russia, 1855-19l4, New York, 1952, 1960.
Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801-19l7, Oxford, 1967.
Teodor Shanin, Russia as a 'Developing Society.' The Roots of Otherness. Russia's Turn of
the Century, vol. I, New Haven and London, 1988.
Tibor Szamueli, The Russian Tradition, London, 1974 (by a former Hungarian Marxist who
(b) The Peasants.
Jerome Blum, Lord and Peasant in Russia, Princeton, New Jersey, 1961.
Joseph Bradley, Muzhik and Muscovite: Urbanization in Late Imperial Russia, 1985.
David A. J. Macey, Government and Peasant in Russia, 1861-1906. The Prehistory of the
Stolypin Reforms, DeKalb, Illinois, 1987.
G. T. Robinson, Rural Russia under the Old Regime, New York, 1931 (and later reprints,
compare with R. Pipes book with same title).
(c) The Workers.
Victoria E. Bonnell, Roots of Rebellion. Workers' Politics and Organizations in St.Petersburg
and Moscow, 1900-19l4, Berkeley, California, 1983.
Victoria E. Bonnell, ed. The Russian Worker. Life and Labor under the Tsarist Regime,
Berkeley, California, 1983.
(d) The Revolutionary Intelligentsia and Movements.
James H. Billington, Mikhailovsky and Russian Populism, Oxford, 1958.
Vera Broido, Apostles into Terrorists. Women and the Revolutionary Movement in the
Russia of Alexander II, New York, 1977.
Anna Geifman, Thou Shalt Kill: Revolutionary Terrorism in Russia, 1894-1917, 1993.
Richard Pipes, ed., The Russian Intelligentsia, New York, 1961.
Marc Raeff, Origins of the Russian Intelligentsia in the Eighteenth Century Nobility, New
Christopher Read, Religion, Revolution and the Russian Intelligentsia, 1900-19l1, London,
1979, New York, 1980.
Avraham Yarmolinsky, Road to Revolution (A Century of Russian Radicalism, New York,
(e) Philosophy, Politics and Political Thought.
Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists, Princeton, New Jersey, 1967.
J. M. Edie and J. P. Scanlan, eds., Russian Philosophy, 3 vols., Chicago, Illinois, 1976.
Hans Kohn, ed., The Mind of Modern Russia. Historical and Political Thought of Russia's
Great Age, New York, 1955.
Hans Kohn, Pan-Slavism. Its History and Ideology, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1953; rev. ed.,
New York, 1960.
Robert Edelman, Gentry Politics on the Eve of the Russian Revolution. The Nationalist Party,
1907-19l7, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1980.
George Fischer, Russian Liberalism: From Gentry to Intelligentsia, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1958.
Richard Hare, Pioneers of Russian Social Thought, London, 1951.
Anatole G. Mazour, The First Russian Revolution, 1825. The Decembrist Movements, Its
Origins, Development and Significance, Berkeley, California, 1937 and repts.
Martin A. Miller, Kropotkin, Chicago, Illinois, 1976.
Paul Miliukov, Political Memoirs 1905-19l7, edited by Arthur P. Mendel, Ann Arbor,
Richard Pipes, Struve: Liberal on the Left, 1870-1905, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970.
Richard Pipes, Struve: Liberal on the Right, 1905-1944, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980.
Marc Raeff, ed., Russian Intellectual History: An Anthology, New York, 1978.
Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Russia and the West in the Teaching of the Slavophiles,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1952.
Thomas Riha, A Russian European: Paul Miliukov in Russian Politics, Notre Dame, Indiana,
Leonard Schapiro, Rationalism and Nationalism in Russian Nineteenth Century Political
Thought, New Haven and London, 1967.
Charles E. Timberlake, ed., Essays on Russian Liberalism, Columbia, Missouri, 1972.
Adam B. Ulam, Ideologies and Illusions: Revolutionary Thought from Herzen to Solzhenitsyn, Cambridge, Massachuetts, 1976.
Adam B. Ulam, In the Name of the People. Prophets and Conspirators in Prerevolutionary
Russia, New York, 1977.
Andrzej Walicki, A History of Russian Thought. From the Enlightenment to Marxism,
Stanford, California, 1979.
Andrzej Walicki, The Controversy over Capitalism: Studies in the Social Philosophy of the
Russian Populists, Oxford, 1969.
Andrzej Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy, Oxford, 1975.
V. V. Zenkovsky, History of Russian Philosophy, 2 vols., London, 1953.
(f) The Church.
John S. Curtiss, Church and State in Russia. The Last Years of the Empire, 1900-19l7, New
(g) Reform and Industrialization.
Theodore Von Laue, Sergei Witte and the Industrialization of Russia, New York, 1963.
(h) The Russo-Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905.
Sidney Harcave, First Blood: The Russian Revolution of 1905, New York, 1964.
Howard D. Mehlinger & John M. Thompson, Count Witte and the Tsarist Government in the
1905 Revolution, Bloomington, Indiana, 1972.
Solomon M. Schwartz, The Russian Revolution of 1905. The Workers' Movement and the
Formation of Bolshevism and Menshevism, Chicago, 1967.
Teodor Shanin, Russia, 1905-1907. Revolution as a Moment of Truth, vol. 2 of The Roots
of Otherness, New Haven and London, 1986.
Leon Trotsky, 1905, New York, 1971.
David Walder, The Short Victorious War. The Russo-Japanese Conflict of 1904-05, New
(I) Foreign Policy and the Military.
Dietrich Geyer, Russian Imperialism. The Interaction of Domestic and Foreign Policy, 1860-1914, New Haven and London, 1987.
Barbara Jelavich, St.Petersburg and Moscow. Tsarist and Soviet Foreign Policy, 18l4-1974,
Bloomington, Indiana, 1974.
Bruce Menning, Bayonets Before Bullets. The Imperial Rsusian Army, 1861-1914,
Bloomington, Ind., 1992.
(j) The Penal System.
Fyodor M. Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead, (by one of Russia's greatest writers, various
George Kennan, Siberia and the Exile System, (abridged from 1st ed. of 1891), Chicago,
(k) The Last Tsar and His Times.
Peter Kurth, with Photographs by Peter Christopher, The Lost World of Nicholas and
Alexandra. TSAR. Boston, New York, Toronto, London, 1995 (beautiful album with reliable
Edvard Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, The Life and Death of Nicholas II, New York, 1992 (a
dramatic account by a Russian playwright, based on documents,).
S. S. Oldenburg, Last Tsar. Nicholas II, His Reign & His Russia, 4 vols., Gulf Breeze,
Theofanis G. Stavrou, ed., Russia under the Last Tsar, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1969.
(l) Literature and Art.
Ronald Hingley, Russian Writers and Society in the Nineteenth Century, rev. ed., 1977.
Dimitrii S. Mirsky, A History of Russian Literature, New York, 1949.
Marc Slonim, The Epic of Russian Literature from Its Origins through Tolstoy, 1950.
John Bowlt, Russian Art of the Avant-Garde: Theory and Criticism, 1902-1934, 1976.
Richard Hare, The Art and Artists of Russia, 1965.
Boris Asafiev, Russian Music from the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century, 1953.
Gerald Abraham, Masters of Russian Music, 1963, 1971.
2. The Non-Russian Peoples of the Western Borderlands of the Russian Empire.
Lubomir Hajda and Mark Beissinger, eds., The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and
Soceity, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1990, ch. l., Roman Szporluk, "The
Imperial Legacy and the Soviet Nationalities Problem," pp. 1-23.
Bohdan Nahaylo and Victor Swoboda, Soviet Disunion. A History of the Nationalities
Problem in the USSR, New York, Free Press, Macmillan, 1989, ch. 1, pp. 3-17.
Edward C. Thaden, Russia's Western Borderlands, 1710-1870, Princeton, New Jersey, 1984.
(a) The Poles.
Lucjan Blit, The Origns of Polish Socialism. The History and Ideas of the First Polish
Socialist Party, 1878-1886, Cambridge, England, 1971.
Robert Blobaum, Feliks Dzierzynski and the SDKPiL. A Study in the Origins of Polish
Communism, Boulder, Colorado, 1978.
Edward Chmielewski, The Polish Question in the Russian State Duma, Knoxville, Tennessee,
Casimiera Cottam, Boleslaw Limanowski (1835-1935): A Study in Socialism and
Nationalism, Boulder, Colorado, 1978.
Norman Davies, God's Playground. A History of Poland. v. 1, The Origins to l795; v. 2, 1795
to the Present, New York, 1982.
Norman Davies, Heart of Europe. A Short History of Poland, Oxford, 1984.
Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, Jozef Pilsudski. A Life for Poland, New York, 1985.
Stefan Kieniewicz, The Emancipation of the Polish Peasantry, Chicago, Illinois, 1969.
Piotr S. Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, l795-1918, Seattle, Washington, 1974.
Adam Zamoyski, The Polish Way. A Thousand Year History of the Poles and their Culture,
(b) The Jews.
Louis Greenberg, The Jews in Russia: The Struggle for Emancipation, 2 vols., New Haven,
Hans Rogger, Jewish Policies and Riht-Wing Politics in Imperial Russia, 1986.
Isaac Max Rubinow, Economic Conditions of the Jews in Russia, New York, 1975.
Bernard D. Weinryb, The Jews in Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish
Community in Poland from 1100 to 1800, Philadelphia, 1973.
(c) The Ukrainians.
W. E. D. Allen, The Ukraine. A History, New York, 2nd ed., 1963.
Ralph C. Elwood, Russian Social Democracy in the Underground: A Study of the RSDRP
in the Ukraine, 1907-19l4, Assen, Holland, 1974.
Orest Subtelny, Ukraine. A History, Toronto, 1988.
Roman Szporluk, Ukraine: A Brief History, Detroit, Michigan, 1982.
(d) The Belorussians.
Nicholas P. Vakar, Belorussia: The Making of a Nation, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1956.
(e) The Finns and the Baltic Peoples of Russia.
Edward C. Thaden, ed., Russification of the Baltic Provinces and Finland, 1855-19l4,
Princeton, New Jersey, 1981.
David G. Kirby, "Finland and Russia," in: Juhani Paasivirta Finland and Europe: International Crises in the Period of Autonomy, 1808-1914, 1981.
Constantine R. Jurgela, History of the Lithuanian Nation, New York, 1948.
Juhani Paasivrirta, Finland and Europe; International Crises in the Period of Autonomy,
1808-19l4, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1981.
Toivu U. Raun, Estonia and the Estonians, Stanford, California, 1987.
Arnolds Spekke, History of Latvia: An Outline, Stockholm, Sweden, 1951.
John H. Wuorinen, Nationalism in Modern Finland, New York, 1931.
3. The Peoples of the Transcaucasus.
Firuz Kazemzadeh, The Struggle for Transcaucasia, New York, 1951.
(a) The Armenians.
Sirarpie Der Nersessian, The Armenians, New York, 1970.
David M. Lang, Armenia, Cradle of Civilization, London, 1970.
(b) The Georgians.
W. E. D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People: From the Beginning Down to the Russian
Conquest in the Nineteenth Century, London, 1932.
David Marshall Lang, The Georgians, London and New York, 1966.
Ronald G. Suny, The Making of the Georgian Nation, Bloomington, Indiana and Stanford,
California, Hoover Institution Press, 1988.
4. The Peoples of Central Asia.
Edward Allworth, ed., Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule, New York and London,
Elizabeth E. Bacon, Central Asia under Russian Rule, Ithaca, New York, 1966.
Lawrence Krader, Peoples of Central Asia, Bloomington, Indiana, 1963.
Martha Brill Olcott, The Kazakhs, Stanford, California, 1987.
R. Pierce, Russian Central Asia, 1867-19l7, Berkeley, California, 1960.
Michael Rywkin, Russia in Central Asia, New York, 1963.
Geoffrey Wheeler, The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia, New York, 1964.
Geoffrey Wheeler, The Peoples of Soviet Central Asia, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, 1966.
Stefan Wurm, The Turkic Peoples of the USSR, Oxford, 1954.
Serge A. Zenkovsky, Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1960.
5. The Tatars.
Alan Fisher, The Crimean Tatars, Stanford, California, 1985.
Charles J. Halperin, Russia and the Golden Horde. The Mongol Impact on Medieval Russian
History, Bloomington, Indiana, 1987.
Azade-Ayse Rorlich, The Volga Tatars, Stanford, California, 1986.
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