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Trials of the Russian Revolution

Reavis, Dick J.

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/11/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article

Book reviews of The Dilemmas of Lenin: Terrorism, War, Empire, Love, Revolution by Tariq Ali; The Russian Revolution: When Workers Took Power by Paul Vernadsky; The Russian Revolution: A New History by Sean McMeekin; and Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 by S. A. Smith.



Most of the rural population was partisan to the faction-ridden, somewhat loose and populist, sometimes pro-war Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR). By late 1918 a variety of factors -- including the German occupation of Ukraine -- precipitated a bread shortage in the cities. Units of Bolsheviks marched into the countryside to requisition stores of surplus grain and in many areas the peasants resisted, village by village, commune by commune.

The tillers owned, not their parcels of land -- those belonged to their communes -- but their produce, which they sold on the "free" market. That arrangement had the blessing of the SRs. But the Bolsheviks, until they adopted the SR program in October 1917, had advocated nationalization of the land and its collectivization with the benefit of agricultural machinery and wage labor.

The Bolsheviks never really embraced the SR program, and sadly planters, tractors and combines weren't at hand. The result, at least until the mid-twenties, was that Leninists could not christen a democracy in the usual, one-citizen-one-vote sense of the term. The Socialist Revolutionaries would have won and thrown them out.

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