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

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

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

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

Excerpt

This study deals with the development of Anglo-Soviet relations from the revolution of 1917, when they began, to the recognition of the Soviet by the British government in 1924, when they reached an at least provisional terminus ad quem. As the immediate post‐ revolutionary years have been considered reasonably fully elsewhere I have preferred to concentrate upon the latter part of this period, and the bulk of the volume is accordingly devoted to an account of the short but turbulent years between the conclusion of the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement of March 1921 and the formal act of recognition of February 1924. So far from establishing fully 'normal' relations between the two countries, I shall argue, the trade agreement in fact gave rise to a series of diplomatic manoeuvres designed to undermine the Soviet government or otherwise commit it to Allied purposes which in political terms represented a continuation of the military intervention of the immediate post-revolutionary period. The first part of this volume deals with the attempt of the British government under

Lloyd George to achieve this objective by direct negotiation; the second considers the attempt of the Conservative administration which succeeded it to achieve the same objective by more openly 'confrontationist' tactics. The third part, 'Recognition', deals with the change in business opinion regarding the desirability of closer relations with Russia in the latter part of 1923, a change which, it will be argued, is crucial to an understanding of the recognition of the Soviet government at the beginning of the following year by the first Labour government.

The treatment which follows, accordingly, ranges somewhat more widely than diplomatic history as conventionally understood. In particular, I have tried to relate the development of formal inter-state relations to three broad themes: first, the politics of the labour movement towards revolutionary Russia, a variable factor which (though I shall argue it is somewhat sentimentally described as 'solidarity') did play a part in first limiting . . .

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