Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920-1924

By Stephen White | Go to book overview

5

Soviet Russia and
Revolution

Early Soviet foreign policy was based upon the assumption that two social orders representing the interests of different and antagonistic classes could not long coexist, and that in the struggle between them socialism would be triumphant. Soviet diplomatic activity, accordingly, devoted rather more attention to appeals to the 'working class of all countries' than to the governments which, at least formally, represented them. 1 There was indeed some doubt as to whether it was proper to speak at all of a 'Soviet foreign policy' as distinct from the revolutionary policy of a socialist party in power. 'What? Are we going to have foreign relations?', Lenin is reported to have remarked. Trotsky, on his appointment as the first People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, announced simply that he would 'issue some revolutionary proclamations to the peoples and then close up shop'. 2

The gradual accumulation of international commitments, however, the most notable early instance of which was the trade agreement with Britain, together with an apparent stabilisation in the European political situation, brought with them a growing realisation that 'state' and 'revolutionary' policies might not always readily be reconciled. It would be wrong to suggest that a definitive endorsement of either perspective was made by the Soviet leadership within the period we are considering: the question remained an open one until the failure of the German insurrection of 1923, and probably beyond. But the 'revolutionary' perspective, in the European context at least, become an increasingly hypothetical and long-term one; and the Bolsheviks, from about the end of 1920, increasingly devoted their attention to the real if more modest advances which it appeared possible to achieve in the East.

It was clear that their main adversary in this regard must be the British government, whose colonial possessions and areas of

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Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920-1924
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution - A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920-1924 *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • List of Abbreviations *
  • Part I - Negotiation *
  • I - The Trade Agreement *
  • 2 - Labour and Soviet Russia *
  • 3 - Conferences *
  • Part II - Imperial Confrontation *
  • 4 - Imperial Crisis and Soviet Russia *
  • 5 - Soviet Russia and Revolution *
  • 6 - The Curzon Note' *
  • Part III - Labour, Business and Recognition *
  • 7 - 'Entente Commerciale' *
  • 8 - Soviet Russia and Labourism *
  • Conclusion: - Class, Party and Foreign Policy *
  • Notes *
  • Select Bibliography *
  • Index *
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