People under communism; Russian revolutionary movement
This is people under communism a series of documentaries interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union. The series is presented transcribed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in consultation with scholars from the Russian Research Center Harvard University the Russian Institute of Columbia University and the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University. The program you're about to hear people under communism is on the Russian revolutionary movement and the rise of Bolshevism. It's a talk by Dr. Murray things-I professor of Government at Harvard University. Dr. Fins Saad is not only the author of books on American government but is also known for his writings about the government of the Soviet Union. He has travelled in Russia interviewed many former Soviet citizens who escaped to the west and is director of political studies at Harvard's Russian Research Center.
Up to things I should like to talk to you today about the origins of Bolshevism. To understand the rise of Bolshevism it is necessary to know the background out of which him it emerged. The long tradition of protest of revolution and of dreams of freedom on which the Russian revolutionary movement was nurtured. The first point that needs to be made about the Russian revolutionary movement is that it is a revolution from above that its leadership comes from the intellectual classes. What the Russians call the intel against these leaders start out as the rankest amateurs of revolution. But as I shall try to demonstrate some of them out of the fire of their experiences emerge as professionals expert practitioners of the revolutionary art. The first important episode in the
19th century history of the Russian revolutionary movement was known as the Decemberists revolt because the insurrection took place during December 18 25 at the time of the death of the Emperor Alexander first and the accession of Nicholas affairs. The members of the Decemberists movement were mostly army officers of liberal inclinations who had become familiar with French liberal ideas during the Napoleonic wars and who hoped to see Russia reformed after Western constitutional models. They advocated the abolition of serfdom the adoption of a national constitution. The extension of education the reform of Justice the establishment of institutions of local self-government and the protection of individual rights and freedom of conscience. These ideas were disseminated in small societies organized for the study of political and social
questions. Society is mostly patronized by the intel against Syria and especially by an ex Army officers among them. They had no popular following the insurrection which they sponsored was intended to capitalize on the confusion of the change of rain but it proved abortive. The leaders were executed or banished and Nicholas the first who succeeded to the throne dedicated himself to the task of eradicating any trace of liberalism in the Russian empire. The press censorship was made more rigid and iron discipline was a stablished in the Army and the bureaucracy. The intellectual classes at least those members of it with independent ideas were virtually forced out of political life. This helped to produce one of the tragedies of the Russian liberal intelligentsia that it was deprived of the opportunity of acquiring practical political
experience that it was virtually forced into a life of loose word spinning and endless discussion of the future of Russia. All in conspiratorial secrecy. During the reign of Nicholas the first which lasted from eight hundred twenty five to eight hundred fifty four. The loyalties of the intellectuals began to divide themselves among two rival camps the camps of the slab of hills and the camp of the Westernized years. The experience of the Napoleonic Wars strengthened the national consciousness and poets novelists and authors now began to express their pride in Russia to express the feeling that the West was decadent and that the Slavs where the people with a future searching for the unique features of their own strength. The more reactionary among them founded in a talkers say the church and the peasant land commune which was called the meteor.
It was against the background of this slab a feller's M that Nicholas the first minister of education count to vote off developed his famous trinity of orthodoxy talk recy and nationalism while a nationalistic or a slab a failed train and naturally bucked large in the public consciousness because of the favor with which it was regarded by the autocrat. A strong undercurrent of protest continued in the circles of the intel against you. Bill Linsky who became the leader of this protesting group of westernize years continued to condemn the backwardness of Russia violently attacked what he called the nationality of birchbark sandals and peasant smocks and sat as the object of of his group a love of freedom of thought and a hate of all that limited it. Some there were who tried to achieve a synthesis between slabs of Elysium
and the Westernized years such a one for example was Alexander Harrison who was largely responsible for introducing socialism into Russian cloth. But he despised the political forms of Western Europe the whole apparatus of parliaments and representation. On the other hand he admired the Russian village with its principle of cooperative fellowship and the Plain Folk who composed it. Joining his likes and dislikes together he called on Russia to throw off serfdom the nobility the bureaucracy and the Byzantium Nies church and basing her future destinies on the peasants partnership of the Mir to establish a Federation of Free communes under the Czar. This dream may seem fantastic but it became important in Russia because a system of agrarian socialism and free Federation which parents and wove together supplied the staple
ideas of the narrowed Nickie or populists of the seventies and the socialist revolutionaries later. So during the period of Nicholas the first rain the ferment of critical ideas continued though it was confined to small circles and not permitted public expression. It was still predominantly the ferment of conversation but there was already one important exception. Michael Bakunin who is particularly important for our purpose because of his influence on the Bolsheviks. But Putin's importance consists in the fact that he is the first of the intellectuals of his generation to burst the bonds of conversation and to take on the career of a professional revolutionary from 1848 on. We see this Russian giant with his enormous vitality rushing and roaring and swearing all over Europe devising
conspiracies against Russia against Austria against German and Italian rulers lighting fires wherever there was something to burn. His ideas were confused is objectively far from clear. He was if anything an anarchist but he what he loved above all was action and revolution. A Frenchman who worked with him in Paris said he was a treasure on the first day of a revolution but it was a good idea to shoot him on the second. Nicolas the first judgment was also to the point. He is a brave fellow Nicolas said. But we must keep him locked up. What makes book Human important was not his romantic madness but the fact that he developed in a thoroughgoing form the theory and practice of a conspiratorial band of professional revolutionaries who would be able to see these and hold power
almost regardless of the attitude of the mass of the people. But Kunin sought to construct an organization that was strictly selective but was bound to absolute a BD ans toward the superiors of the organization that was severed from all connections outside the organization and it knew no moral obligations outside the good of the organization. In the hands of the disciple your child if the idea miscarried and produced a great scandal when a student who was suspected of the intention to turn informer was murdered but the scheme in its essential is as I have described it became a living part of the activist revolutionary tradition in Russia which produced Bolshevism Dostoyevsky's novel the PO's interest with its account of the conspiratorial five. I will give you the pattern. What is important for our purposes is
that the essential is of the scheme of organization not the ideas were later taken over by Lenny and became a part of the organizational philosophy of Bolshevism. To continue this analysis of the development of the Russian revolutionary movement into the reign of Alexander the second from 1854 to 1881. You remember that when Alexander the second came to power after the disastrous defeats of the Crimean War he came in promising radical reforms. The result was to produce a great intellectual awakening among the intel against the six newspapers of Nicholas the first day multiplied to 66 the nineteen monthly increase to one hundred fifty Dostoyevsky has left us an unforgettable picture of the intellectual excitement of the Psalms in the novel The Possessed. They talked Dostoyevsky's said of the
abolition of the censorship and a phonetic spelling of the substitution of Latin characters for the Russian alphabet. Of splitting Russia into nationalities united in a free Federation of the abolition of the Army and the Navy of the restoration of Poland of the peasant reforms and of the manifestoes of the abolition of the hereditary principle and of the family of children of priests and of women's rights. But the first flush of enthusiasm died down when the conditions of the act of the emancipation of the Serbs of 1861 became known when it appeared that the peasants were being condemned to what amounted to perpetual poverty. As a result of the small size of the land allotments and the high prices and interest rates charged for their purchase a strong current of disillusionment set in the mung the intel against it. And it is in this phase of the development of the Russian revolutionary
movement that the insurrectionist and terrorist elements began to come to the fore. Great hopes were placed in the revolutionary potential of the peasantry. A secret organization land in Liberty planned a peasant rising for the summer of 1863. But nothing came of it and a number of the leaders were executed an attempt was made to assassinate the Tsar in April 1866. But it also was a failure of the societies that helped to plan the assassination were discovered and many of their members were sent to Siberia. But the plan which failed in 1866 was eventually successful in 1881. But Russian revolutionaries during this period were by no means united on conspiracy insurrection and terror. There was also an important group gathered around Peter Love Roth who preached education and
propaganda. No revolution was possible said lover of without preparatory education of the people. What the intel against CIA had to do he argued was to stop talking with each other and go out into the villages to teach and help to awaken the peasant masses of Russia. The result was something which assume the proportions of a crusade. The famous movement of going to the people. Students teachers lawyers physicians officers all joined in and from the summer of 1872 to Le summer of 1874 the countryside was covered with the crusaders and the evangelists. What happened is depicted in unforgettable fashion in the novel of two again yet virgin soil. Rural Russia could make nothing of its missionaries. The Gulf which divided what the Russians call people and persons was too deep. Most of the intel
against it did not know how to talk to the people when they reached them. The peasants did not understand what they were driving at. Many of the social missionaries were delivered over to the police in other cases of peasants under the influence of the church regarded the missionaries as anti-Christ. The experience of the intel against it was sobering and disillusioning some of the more soft committed suicide. But others for the first time were brought up against realities they began to recognise in vague idealism was not enough that the task of educating the peasant was more than a weekend in the country. The patient organisation was required and the whole life had to be lived together. A few too few digested the lesson and settled down in the countryside to undertake the long disagreeable task of overcoming suspicion and proving their usefulness. Many too many
flocked back to the towns and cities to agonize their sick consciences in conversation and when the pressure became too great to break out with a heroic act of terrorism which brought the police down on Town and Country alike as one of the organizers who stayed behind said as soon as we have started something going bang the intellectuals have killed somebody and the police are on us. Why don't they give us a chance to organize. I shall not try to trace in detail the various not rotten acre populist groups which appeared during the seventies. Their primary concern was with the peasants and their liberation. That liberation could not be secured they felt without the establishment of a constitutional regime in Russia. But in their efforts to secure such a regime constitutional means were denied them. An
inner ring of the people's will party planned the murder of Alexander the second and achieved it in 1881. But instead of ushering in a constituent assembly what the not Raudonikis succeeded in creating was more repression than our ordinary groups were broken to pieces by the authorities until in the words of one boasting official revolution was reduced to a cottage industry than our old Nikkie thus dwindled ineffectiveness. Although many of their ideas were to be revived again in the 20th century by the Socialist Revolutionary Party which was led by chair and which became the voice of the peasants. I want to turn now to the coming of Marxism to Russia and the growth of the Bolshevik Party. It's perhaps words recalling that the first Russian translation of a Communist Manifesto which was made by the
Kunin did not appear until the early 60s during the 70s Marxist ideas were very slow to penetrate among Russian revolutionaries. This was the era of the Rodney King. The first systematic explanation of Marxist doctrines in Russian was given by George Pelecanos in his book socialism in the political struggle. And our disagreements which were written with the object of converting the Narada Nikita Marxism although play a con off dealt tenderly with the peasant worship which was at the heart of the not Rodney King doctrine and welcomed the peasant as an ally. He also made clear that it was the proletariat the working class which was to be the prime revolutionary force in 1884 a Marxist group the liberation of toil was established by 1887 Marx's Capital was said to be
the most widely read book among Russian students. To understand the appeal of Marx in Russia this time it is necessary to see it against the background of the very rapid industrial development which was beginning to take place in Russia. Toward the end of the 19th century railroad construction mining machine building and textile industries were all swiftly expanding the number of industrial workers in this peasant Empire increased from six hundred seventy four thousand eight hundred sixty five to two million six hundred 24000 in 1900. Most of them were concentrated in a relatively few large industrial centers. Two intellectuals despairing of the peasantry here seemed to be the voice of the future the populist leaders were confused by this development and the Marxists press their advantage in 1895 a
Petersburg fighting union was formed with Leneen as one of its leaders. This was the germ of the Russian social democratic party from which the Bolsheviks were an offshoot of the textile workers strike of 1896 in St. Petersburg with 30000 persons participating further strengthen the conviction of many intellectuals that the proletariat represented the wave of the future. But it was by no means clear in the 90s that the Russian marxists did have the future in their hands. The first social democratic congress held in means can 1898. That hardly concluded its sessions before many of its delegates were arrested and sent into exile. Leneen was sentenced into exile in 1897. The Russian Marxist seemed to be falling apart. Some of them led by Struve are associated themselves with the revisionist movement of Baron Stein in Germany
and called for social reform and peaceful parliamentary action instead of a revolution. Others the so-called economists wish to disclaim the use of the political weapon altogether and to limit the action of the working class to the economic sphere that is to trade union activity. The factionalism which was threatening to destroy Russian Marxism came to a head at the second party congress in 19:3 which was begun in Brussels and concluded in London at the 903 Congress of the Russian social democratic party divisions developed the party divided into so-called hards then softs and the division was over the character of party organization. The hards who were led by Leneen wanted to build a conspiratorial party a disciplined professional revolutionaries who would lead the mass of the working class. The softs aware led by Mark tof wanted an
open legal man's socialist party built on the Western European model. At the 19:3 Congress the views of marked off one party organization try and temporarily but in the election of officers at the end of that congress led means faction carried the majority. And because they receive the majority of the votes at the Congress they became known as Bolsheviks from the Russian word Boesch instable which means majority and Lenny means opponents became known as Mensheviks from the Russian word mentions fall which means minority. Now these two factions for a little while still preserved unity in the same party. But under this facade of unity they engaged in bitter factional strife and finally in 1912 Leneen and his faction broke away and
organized a separate Bolshevik Party. The name communist was not adopted until after the revolution in 1918. The reason that it was adopted then was to distinguish the Bolsheviks from their enemies. The Social Democrats of Western Europe who the Bolsheviks thought had betrayed socialism. In the first month of the 1917 revolution the Bolsheviks played a minor role. Their total party membership on the eve of the march revolution was less than 25000 in a nation of a hundred fifteen million people. Yet in the short space of eight months this tiny band of professional revolutionaries was able to build up enough leverage to seize power. How can we explain one major source of Bolshevik strength was its highly
centralized leadership and organization its activists disciplined membership and its clarity about its goal. Let names great feat as a revolutionary strategist was to identify a Bolshevism with all of the major moving forces of mass discontent in Russian society. He did not of course create the war weariness which permeated the army and the nation in 1917 but he knew how to exploit it with one word peace. He fused it into the spark of revolution. The land hunger the peasants was an ancient grievance. His political opponents the socialist revolutionaries had built their power in the villages on the promise to satisfy it while the s rs temporized Leneen acted and stole their programme from under their noses with one word of land.
Lenin bought the neutrality of the villages factory workers constituted the most important basis of Bolshevik strength. Lenin promised to take from the rich and give to the poor. With two slogans. Bread and workers control. He captured many of the workers away from the Mensheviks. The Bolshevik revolution of November 7th 1917 was not a mass movement. It was a carefully planned and remarkably well managed insurrection. The last free election in Russia. The election to the constituent assembly which took place at the end of 1917 clearly demonstrated that the Bolshevik voting straying in the country at large was not more than 25 percent. But as Lineen subsequently observed the bush beaks did have an overwhelming preponderance of force
at the decisive moment in the decisive points in the areas which were strategically important for the success of the insurrection Petrograd Moscow. The Baltic fleet the garrisons around Petrograd Boesch of a key influence was in the ascendant. The enemies of Bolshevism were numerous but they were also weak poorly organized divided and apathetic. The strategy of Leneen was calculated to emphasize their divisions to neutralize their opposition and to capitalize on their apathy in 1992. Leneen had written give us an organization of revolutionaries and we shall overturn the whole of Russia. On November 7th 1917 the wish was fulfilled and the deed was accomplished. But it was accomplished not as
Marx had anticipated. In a highly industrialized country but in an industrial a backward country it was accomplished not by working class which constituted a majority of the country but by an elite party which purported to speak in the name of a working class wish which was itself a minority element in an overwhelmingly peasant country. In Lenny Skeen Trotsky once observed the party takes the place of the working class. The party organization displaces the party. The Central Committee displaces the party organization and finally the dictator displaces the Central Committee. The utterance was to prove prophetic one's power was seized. The Bolsheviks marched in next or oblique toward the consolidation of dictatorship.
The dream of freedom which had moved successive generations ended in the new prison house of Soviet totalitarianism. The Russian revolutionary movement and the rise of Bolshevism a talk by Dr Moreau thing Saad director of political studies in Harvard University's Russian Research Center after things sides talk was another transcribed programme in the series people under communism. The series as a whole was prepared in consultation with scholars from the Russian Institute of Columbia University the Hoover Institute and library Stanford University and the Russian Research Center Harvard University. Your program producer Ralph Tang me. This is Parker Wheatley. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational
broadcasters. And are made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the N A B tape network.
- People under communism
- Russian revolutionary movement
- Producing Organization
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program presents a talk by Professor Merle Fainsod of Harvard University: "Russian Revolutionary Movement and the Rise of Bolshevism".
- Series Description
- A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
- Broadcast Date
- Politics and Government
- Media type
Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Fainsod, Merle, 1907-1972
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “People under communism; Russian revolutionary movement,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 27, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pn8xfd9f.
- MLA: “People under communism; Russian revolutionary movement.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 27, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pn8xfd9f>.
- APA: People under communism; Russian revolutionary movement. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pn8xfd9f