The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase, 1917-1922

The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase, 1917-1922

The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase, 1917-1922

The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase, 1917-1922

Excerpt

This is the story of how a group of determined men seized power for themselves in Russia in 1917, and kept others from sharing it; and of the consequences which ensued both for themselves and for their political rivals when it became evident that they enjoyed but little popular support. These are the bare bones. The flesh and blood of the story are to be found in the passions which animated the actors in the drama. For all of those who figure in my narrative were revolutionaries. I have scarcely touched on the opponents of the Bolsheviks in the battlefield whose aim was to restore the overthrown monarchical rágime, but have confined myself to political opposition during the active years of Lenin's life after the revolution.

The Bolsheviks believed passionately, though I think erroneously, that they were carrying into effect a revolution of the kind which had been written of by Marx. The Mensheviks, marxists of a different kind, believed the Bolsheviks' reading of the sacred books to be wrong, and their action accordingly premature. The Socialist Revolutionaries, not being marxists at all, were inspired by doctrines derived from an entirely different tradition. Among the Bolsheviks, different groups at different times challenged the particular lines along which Lenin strove to guide the policy of the party. But, I repeat, all were revolutionaries. Hence, the struggle between the various groups and individuals never took the form of a straightforward struggle by force of arms in which the stronger, or more popular, or more skilful, or more righteous side won. That is what makes the story one of particular human interest, and also gives it its true quality of tragedy.

It is strange that the story of political opposition to Lenin has never before, so far as I am aware, been told in detail or as a whole -- there are several good short accounts of aspects of it, incidental to more general histories of the Russian revolution and civil war. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that we have all been inclined to accept the bolshevik revolution as a marxist revolution in character and pattern. Hence, those who accept marxist doctrine as true tend to dismiss the elimination . . .

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