Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War: Political Parties and Social Movements in Russia, 1918-1922

By Baker, Mark | Canadian Slavonic Papers, September-December 1996 | Go to article overview

Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War: Political Parties and Social Movements in Russia, 1918-1922


Baker, Mark, Canadian Slavonic Papers


Vladimir N. Brovkin. Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War: Political Parties and Social Movements in Russia, 1918-1922. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. xiii, 455 pp. Bibliography. Index. $55.00, cloth.

Vladimir Brovkin has written a compelling and provocative account of the civil war that raged across the lands of the collapsed Tsarist empire from 1918 to 1922. Brovkin conceptualizes this protracted and horrific struggle as the simultaneous unfolding of a number of different, competing and overlapping conflicts, rooted in the national, regional, local, and class identities of the participants. At the same time, it was the clash of "a heterogeneous and premodern society... with the power of a new dynamic state, guided by the goal of destroying all old identities and creating a new identity for all-that was the essence of the Russian civil war" (p. 403).

The newest and most compelling aspects of Brovkin's account concern not the conflict between Red and White forces, but those innumerable, small, violent, and spontaneous uprisings of peasants Behind the Front Lines. Brovkin argues that this other civil war was far more widespread and decisive than the war on the external front: "Thousands of small engagements, ambushes, mopping up operations, raids across the countryside, artillery shellings of villages, roundups in the forests-these were the scenes of war, the war that is associated with the term `civil war' in the national memory. There were no Whites in central Russia, but there was a civil war" (p. 162). In 1920, simultaneous with the retreat of Denikin's forces, arose a massive "Green tide" of peasant resistance so widespread that "every province in European Russia was affected by peasant insurgency. Civil war was raging in every uezd and every volost' of Russia, and that was after the Whites had been crushed" (p. 325). Indeed, Brovkin concludes that the Bolsheviks' retreat into NEP was none other than the clearest indication that it was actually the peasants who (temporarily) won the civil war (p. 421).

Brovkin's research is prodigious, his thesis provocative and on the whole wellargued, and his description graphic and detailed. By focusing on identities as the defining feature of the civil war, Brovkin has overcome the rather simplistic assumptions historians have made about the allegiances of "the masses," about "sides," "fronts" and "the enemy" during the civil war. "Identity defined allegiance, and allegiance determined participation in the civil war" (p. 8). Some peasants supported and fought in the Red Army, then switched to the Whites, then the Reds again, and/or supported more locallybased "Green" movements, and some supported the national movements in the borderlands, especially in Ukraine. But all they truly desired was to be left alone. Workers, who at first supported the Bolshevik regime, soon became disaffected with the regime's inability to provide basic necessities. Many then tried to flee to the countryside, but the Bolsheviks forced them to stay and work in the cities, further antagonizing them. By September 1920, "a rank and file Socialist Revolutionary" reported that in Petrograd "profound hatred among the workers is rising against Soviet power. Sooner or later this hatred is going to lead to an open insurrection" (p. 283). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War: Political Parties and Social Movements in Russia, 1918-1922
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.