The Dream That Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union

By Walter Laqueur | Go to book overview

Preface

Leopold von Ranke, the great German historian, once asked whether anyone would bother to study history but for the dramatic impact of current events; the number of students would certainly be small. But for the breakup of the Soviet Union, there would be no rethinking now of the Soviet experience and of Communism. The year 1991 saw the end of a whole historical epoch and the beginning of another, the contours of which are as yet only dimly discernible. Not only the heritage of Marx and Lenin, but the wider issues of socialism and nationalism in the modern world have to be reconsidered. Why did the Soviet system collapse, and why were the signs ignored?

Where should the rethinking start? A reasonable case can be made in favor of encompassing in a postmortem most of Russian history, for that history has been in many ways sui generis, different from that of other European nations. If the question of a Sonderweg, a particular "way" of development, has preoccupied students of Germany for some considerable time, this applies even more strongly to Russia. History, as frequently observed, is a seamless web: Gorbachev and Yeltsin cannot be understood without the preceding "period of stagnation," which in turn can be explained only with reference to the era of Stalinism. If one wishes to discuss the revolution of 1917, it can be done, needless to say, only in conjunction with the state of affairs in Russia under Nikolai II.

I do not take the arrival of the Vikings in Russia in the ninth century as a starting point, but some comments on Russia on the eve of the revolution are called for. The circumstances of the downfall of the Soviet empire are well remembered. The early, "heroic" period of Soviet Communism, though, is now all but forgotten; yet it is essential to recall that there was a time when enthusiastic belief in and mass support for the system existed. A small group of professional revolutionaries seized power in a giant country, but it is unlikely that but for wider support Communism would have prevailed in the civil war of 1918 to 1921. The question why the Soviet system stayed in power for some considerable time is as pertinent as the questions concerning its decline and fall.

-v-

Notes for this page

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
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Dream That Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • 1 - The Age of Enthusiasm 3
  • 2 - 1917: The Russia We Lost? 28
  • 3 - The Fall of the Soviet Union 50
  • 4 - Totalitarianism 77
  • 5 - Sovietology: An Epitaph (I) 96
  • 6 - Sovietology: An Epitaph (II) 110
  • 7 - How Many Victims? 131
  • 8 - The Nationalist Revival 147
  • 9 - East Germany: A Case Study 163
  • 10 - Conclusion 183
  • Notes 195
  • Index 227
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 231

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.