• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Impact of the Russian revolution - Ideology matters.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

IMPACT OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION: IDEOLOGY MATTERS I. BACKDROP: GERMAN IDEALISM AND RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONARIES German philosophers in the 19th century were often "Idealists," that is to say that they maintained that ideas have a force, power, and reality that is more "real" than that concrete, reality that so consume us in our daily lives. German idealism dominated the 19th-century Russian revolutionary movement from the Decembrist Revolt of 1825 until long after Lenin's successful revolutionary coup that we call the October (or Bolshevik or Communist) Revolution of 1917. While I never want to downplay the central role of raw hypocrisy in human affairs, much of what we in the United States have interpreted as hypocrisy in the Soviet Union-the dissonance between the profound humanism of Marx's ideas and the coarse violence of the Stalinist dictatorship-this hypocrisy can also be seen as the desperate attempt to coerce reality through the power of belief-through the power of the Idea. And one way to interpret the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was that the Soviets had lost their ability to convince themselves that the Leninist/Stalinist Idea had the power to transform reality into a better future. With the collapse of this self-justifying, central Myth that legitimized the Soviet experience, the Soviet Union died not with a bang but rather whimpered into Lev Trotsky's "dust bin of history." With this introduction, I would now like to offer three examples in the Russian Revolutionary experience where Ideas profoundly affected the future course of events. Only toward the end of the Twentieth Century have these effects begun to run out of steam. II. THREE EXAMPLES A. "MODERATE" SOCIALISM AND THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION OF 1917 The first example involves the reaction of moderate socialists to the February Revolution in Petrograd in 1917. Moderate Socialists, including the Marxist Mensheviks in contrast to Lenin's Bolsheviks, had adopted a position that Russia was not yet ready for a Socialist Revolution; reading Marx's Stages of History quite literally, they understood that the Bourgeois Revolution had to come first and had to take place under the leadership of the bourgeoisie. ...read more.

Middle

I would argue that many Third World leaders, for two contentious examples Ho Chi-Minh and Fidel Castro, who led revolutions to assert national pride, independence, and prosperity, turned to Communism because Lenin had provided a vocabulary with a coherent explanation for colonial degradation and a means for asserting national regeneration. Additionally, of the major powers, the Soviet regime alone more-or-less consistently supported the aspirations of those wishing to throw off the oppression of colonialism and capitalism. Of course, today, the Communist model no longer holds the same allure it once did. C. TWO MARXIST HERESIES: LENINISM/STALINISM AND MUSSOLINI'S FASCISM The final example of the power of ideas generated during World War I involves the intimate, kissing cousin-relationship between Stalinist Communism and Mussolini's Fascism. Despite facile assumptions, Fascism and Communism were not antipodes. Although their exact relationship remains difficult to define, there exist commonalties, as one author has pointed out: Fascism was the heir of a long intellectual tradition that found its origins in the ambiguous legacy left to revolutionaries in the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Fascism was, in a clear and significant sense, a Marxist heresy. It was a Marxism creatively developed to respond to the particular and specific needs of an economically retarded national community condemned, as a proletarian nation, to compete with the more advanced plutocracies of its time for space, resources, and international stature. Was this kind of self-awareness present as thinkers and politicians struggled to define these two ideologies as they co-developed earlier in this century? In fact, many did recognize that their common interests held much greater weight than did the Talmudic differences between Fascism and Communism. Arturo Labriola's Avanguardia Socialista of Milan by 1903 had become the forum for Italy's Sorelian syndicalist revolutionaries, who were struggling to make Marx relevant and against reformist socialism. Such luminaries as Vilfredo Pareto and Benedetto Croce graced its pages, followed shortly by a second generation of Sorelian theoreticians, who came to dominate Italian radicalism for more than a generation. ...read more.

Conclusion

He lamented, "that which Fascism consciously sought, [the Soviet Union] involuntarily constructed." For him, the governments of Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and even Roosevelt were lurching toward a global system of "bureaucratic collectivism," a new form of class domination. Fascist theoreticians agreed with such convergence notions. By 1925, Panunzio claimed that Fascism and Bolshevism shared crucial similarities. Fascists noted that the Soviets had created an armed, authoritarian, anti-liberal state, which had mobilized and disciplined the masses to the service of intensive internal development. The supreme state generated and allocated resources, articulated and administered interests, and assumed and exercised paramount pedagogical functions. Thus, while the first Fascists were formulating the rationale for a mass-mobilizing, developmental, authoritarian, hierarchical, anti-liberal, and statist program guided by a charismatic leader, events had forced the Bolsheviks along the same course. Both intended to create a modern, autarchic, industrial system, which would insure political and economic independence for what had been an underdeveloped national community. With forced industrialization and "state capitalism," the Soviets hoped to bring Russia all the benefits of bourgeois modernization. In the face of required austerity, to mobilize their respective populations, the Communists and Fascists alike supplemented economic incentives with pageantry, ritual, ceremony, and parades. All this, coupled with territorial aggression, completed a compelling picture of "systemic symmetry." III. CONCLUSION I have presented three diverse examples of the impact of the Russian Revolution on subsequent history. There are other potential examples. I find it interesting that events so crucial to the twentieth century, now seem to be fading so rapidly in their influence. One real benefit of examining the Communist Revolution within the larger question of "how best to develop" is that the Revolution loses its sense of seminal criticality. For all the pathos surrounding the effort, it becomes just another interesting attempt at rapid development-a failed attempt at that. While I would happily argue that Marx still has relevance for us today, especially in his critique of capitalism if not particularly in his solutions, clearly Lenin and Stalin no longer do. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Did Stalin betray the Russian Revolution?

    These were elements of the monolithic power base which was the antithesis of everything Marx envisaged. Yet everything Stalin did in power was justified by reference to Marxist-Leninist doctrine. It was ironic that the Communist movement had become so dependent on one man in spite of its doctrine, which warned

  2. Lenin and the Bolshevik revolution.

    June to this right "...shattered [the politically conscious minority of workers] faith in the moderate socialists, for it was seen as tantamount to sabotaging the gains of February". This according to Stephen Smith, who also argues that this dispute did more than anything else to radicalize the politically conscious minority and cast them into the arms of the Bolsheviks.

  1. How secure was the Tsars power up to 1904

    The prisons are overcrowded with convicts and political prisoners. At no time have religious persecutions [of the Jews] been so cruel as they are today. In all cities and industrial centres soldiers are employed and equipped with live ammunition to be sent against the people. Autocracy is an outdated form of government...."

  2. Assess the Impact Lenin Had On Russia and Its People Lenin was a great ...

    "One might have thought that these were not factories but the forced labour prisons of the Tsarist times" Trade unions became disallowed and workers were not allowed to leave their own cities. Food than became rationed, but you were only allowed ration card if you were working.

  1. Assess the impact that Lenin had on Russia and the Russian people.

    Lenin had changed Russia hugely, but some things never changed. People in rural areas were still poor and still didn't have any say in how their lives or country was run. This shows that although Lenin had a dramatic impact on Russia and improved it economically and in many other

  2. How far did Russia undergo economic and political modernization from 1881-1905?

    The number of these also increased as people got more and more angry at the Tsar and upper class?s governing incompetence. Russia?s political backwardness was also highlighted by the existence of the ?dark masses? who were feared and viewed with contempt by the governing elite.

  1. The Impact of Stalins Leadership in the USSR, 1924 1941. Extensive notes

    during the first part of this plan that targets were increased in December 1929, with calls to fulfil the plan ahead of schedule. The emphasis was on strengthening Soviet defences against a hostile invasion. Key features of the plan: 1.

  2. Compare the characters and beliefs of Lenin and Stalin.

    If we sum all these aspects we may see that ,although, Stalin didn�t worry about the Russian, we must admit that he showed to be worried about them, and introduced many leisure innovations, this would keep the Russians happy, and for a while they wouldn�t protest.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work