As the Defining Epoch of Modern Russian History
© Alan Kimball
Table of contents
(1) The "Long Duration" of Russian political culture [Skim the
following list = TXT of HIST 4/545 syllabus]
(2) The General European and Global Setting [TXT]
(3) Phases Preparatory to the Revolutionary Twentieth Century [TXT of HIST 4/545 syllabus]
(4) The 1905 Revolution
(5) Continuity and Disruption = WW1, the Revolutions of 1917, Civil War, NEP
(6) Dénouement = "Stalinism"
(7) The Legacy Born Again? = Gorbachev and Post-Soviet Russia
(8) Two SAC bibliographies = [#1] [#2]
The main implication of the scheme outlined in the Table of Contents above and expanded below is that the Soviet Revolution of 1917 [ID] should not be thought of either as a transformational moment or as an alien intervention into Russian history. The events of 1917 do not represent a curtain down on a failed spectacle, and then a curtain up on a wholly new era. If there were no other reason this is so, just consider the three years of war that precede 1917 [ID] and the three years of war that followed [ID]. Consider the pre-revolutionary years of Stolypin reforms [ID] and the post revolutionary years of the New Economic Policy [ID].
If there were transformational or alien interventions into Russian history within the history here outlined, it would be World War One and the Revolutionary Civil War that followed the Soviet Revolution. By implication, World War Two [ID] would also have to be considered just such an intervention into the Russian historical experience, even though these wars had roots in the deep domestic course of Russian history.
A significant auxiliary implication of this scheme is that the concept of civil society and public mobilization must keep open lines of inquiry into the behavior and structures of state power as well as the larger behavior of what used to be called the "political economy", the evolution of the mode of production and distribution of things of value.
There are continuities over the long duration of Russian history. In the past century and a half, the rise of a Russian concept of civil society and traditions of public political mobilization are among the most important continuities [EG]. But one might also say that the journalistic tendency to call Vladimir Putin "a new tsar" is not altogether simple-minded or silly (not altogether, but largely so). Political structures, like cultural traditions and broad social-economic trends can also have histories of long duration.
And, finally, the story of modern Russian political culture cannot be told in isolation from that of the broader European and even global setting.
Therefore, yet another implication of the scheme outlined here
is this =
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 was also not an utter break in time.
Each researcher will work up an individual big research paper on some select aspect of Russian political culture.
THIS IS THE ONE-HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OUTBREAK OF THE GREAT EUROPEAN (perhaps we should say global) CATASTROPHY = WORLD WAR ONE [WW1]
Without making it an obligatory feature of the group, we will try to array our various topics around the theme of "War and Revolution" in Russian political culture.
The 1905 Revolution
*1899:1906; "The first Russian Revolution" (could be called the third Russian
revolutionary situation) [SAC]
The Legacy of 1905: Continuity and Disruption
*1921:1927; The New Economic Policy (NEP), the first resurrection of
the 1905 legacy? [SAC]
*1927:1941; When Joseph Stalin and the administrative or managerial
elites associated with him rose to power within the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the revolutionary era was brought to a
close. Critics of Stalin, including Marxists, accused him of restoring an even
harsher "Asiatic despotism" than that of previous tsarist regimes. Familiar Russian absolutist
centralization and social/service hierarchy were restored. Civil society
dissolved itself once again in crouching, atomized and private kruzhoks. Lexical
neologisms were created to describe this phenomenon of the 20th century = "Statism"
or more dramatically "Totalitarianism" [ID]
*1945:1985; Cold War stagnation and opportunity,
punctuated by the Khrushchev flourish and the rise of a dogged dissent movement
The Legacy Born Again?
*1985:1991; Did Mikhail Gorbachev revive the 1905 legacy with his vast programs
of "Perestroika"? [LOOP]
*1991+:A troubled era of adjustment followed