Moscow's Lost Empire

Moscow's Lost Empire

Moscow's Lost Empire

Moscow's Lost Empire

Synopsis

This volume gives an overview of the regional, ethnic and political structure of the Soviet empire from its establishment through its ultimate disintegration. It provides a corrective to the Russocentrism and Great Power bias that has marked most studies of the Soviet Union.

Excerpt

The Soviet empire, heir to that of the tsars, was the last great European empire to succumb to the inevitable. The Ottoman, Habsburg, and Romanov empires had fallen after World War I, and the remaining West European empires after World War II. But the Romanov empire in a new form would manage a second lifetime of seventy-two years.

It was the attraction of the communist ideology that allowed the Russian empire to outlive its peers. True, the recovery of territories lost in the initial disintegration was achieved by military force, but that alone would not have been sufficient. The new Soviet regime offered powerful enticements as well: recognition of the separateness of its many nationalities, formal institutions of national self-government, and the principle of equality of nations within the Union. No longer were the component nations to be treated as simple provinces of Great Russia. The larger nations were granted republic status (as "union" or "autonomous" republics) along with other attributes of statehood: governments, parliaments, ministries (initially called "people's commissariats"), constitutions, codes of law, national anthems, and so forth. The principle that "all nations are equal" was enforced and ethnic discrimination was outlawed. And what is even . . .

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