Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Russian Revolution Was Not Engineered

Admid all the distortions and misinformation regarding the Russian Revolution/Communism, there is one to which I would like to give brief attention.

It is commonly held that the Revolution was initiated and engineered by the Marxist intellectual elite: essentially a coup instigated by militant academics. It was Lenin's return to Russia (aided by the Germans, who were purposely trying to destabilize the country [this claim is true]) that enabled the Revolution.

In fact, Lenin was only opportunistic. A small subset of revolutionaries, led by Lenin, were able to coopt, by force, what was actually a much larger movement. There had been repeated peasant uprisings and other such turmoil for a while before the Revolution of 1917, and Lenin did not have much, if anything, to do with any of these acts of resistance.

It is severely misguided to assume that without Lenin, or even without the Bolshevik party as a whole, the Revolution would not have taken place. The revutionary forces minus the Bolsheviks were so strong that it is hard to imagine that peace could be kept. Granted, I do not believe that, without the Bolsheviks, there would have been a communist utopia. Probably some sort of milktoast social-democratic variety of capitalism would have prevailed. And then there would have been some other justification for the Cold War (assuming Russia would still have been imperialist), other than the pseduo-ideological one.

The point, however, is that the Russian Revolution is reflective of real anger and real determination to affect change, felt by a significant portion of the population. People were fed up!

This came to mind as I was reading Langston Hughes' biography, in which he describes the way his eastern European classmates (a large demographic in his high school) reacted to the developments abroad. They fiercly supported the Revolution and celebrated when the communists and socialists made advances.

The Revolution was not only a power struggle between the Old Guard and an Intellectual Elite. It was, in the beginning, a movement of the people.

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