The Great Challenge: Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917-1930

The Great Challenge: Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917-1930

The Great Challenge: Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917-1930

The Great Challenge: Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917-1930

Synopsis

In this enlightening and provocative book, a distinguished writer on international affairs traces the failure of Soviet nationalities policy to the formative years of the Bolshevik regime when that policy was formulated and implemented. The author explores the unfolding of the national question from pre-revolutionary period through 1930 bringing to light the broad array of national issues and nationality groups that made history in the old Soviet satellites around the Baltic.

Excerpt

Richard Pipes

Ethnic strife in the Soviet Union has caught the unsuspecting world by surprise. The violence in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Moldavia, the clamor for sovereignty of the Baltic peoples and the Georgians, and, most unexpected of all, the separatism of Great Russians were events for which, apart from a small body of experts, no one had been prepared. Why this was the case it is difficult to say because the evidence of latent ethnic tension in the USSR was not invisible. Perhaps it was due to the successes of Communist propaganda in depicting the USSR as a country in which national animosities had been neutralized and the diverse peoples learned to live in peace. The power of Russian culture blinded many to the existence of non-Russian peoples under Soviet rule. Whatever the reason, five years ago, when Gorbachev assumed office, the cohesion and stability of the Union were taken for granted not only by the public at large but by the chanceries of the Western world. It has been the experience of the author of these lines that all efforts to have the United States strike a more positive attitude toward the non-Russian peoples of the USSR, if only by acknowledging their right to self-determination as guaranteed in the Soviet constitution, fell on deaf ears.

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