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The attitude of American/ British observers to the Russian Revolution 1917



Chapter I: The Russian Revolution 1917………………………………8

1.1. The presentation of the question………………………………...8

1.2. The Background of the Revolution 1917………………………..9

1.3. Social relations in Russia 1917 through the eyes of American/ British observers………………………………………………………16

Chapter II: American/ British observers about the level of life in Russia 1917…………………………………………………………………. 25

2.1. The level of life in Russia 1917 through the eyes of American/ British observers: economic causes of the Russian Revolution………25

2.2. The Wages and cost of living before and during the revolution…29

2.3. The cultural life 1917…………………………………………….36

Chapter III: The attitude of American/ British observers to the Russian revolutionaries………………………………………………………...38

3.1. Lenin through the eyes of American/ British observers………….38

3.2. The attitude towards the Bolsheviks…………………………… 43

Chapter IV: A choice of a political positions by the Russian intelligency in the autumn of 1917 from the point of view of Russian and American/ British historians………………………………………………………52

4.1. The attitude of American/ British observers to Russian intelligency 1917…………………………………………………………………...52

4.2. Historiographical situation……………………………………….58




The theme of this research is “The attitude of American/ British observers to the Russian Revolution 1917”. We try to reveal this question considering the Background of the Revolution 1917, social relations in Russia 1917, the level of life in Russia 1917 through the eyes of American/ British observers and the attitude of American/ British observers to the Russian revolutionaries and intelligency. It is not a simple task because of subjective views of American/ British historians in this question who are apart from the socio-cultural context of Russia.

For the English-speaking authors there are some difficulties in writing Russian history. It is understandable that the attempt to write a history of Russia, since October revolution of 1917 is reckless, and the one who indulgently concerns to this attempt may be will forgive also lacks admitted at its realisation. A history of Soviet Russia written by the Englishman or by American, who didn’t know Marx’s philosophy thoroughly, who wasn’t from Russian, seems especially risky undertaking. But it is justified by necessity to fill in a wide and obvious blank. The books about Western or Central Europe written in Great Britain and the United States, frequently are spoilt by involuntary reliance of their authors that it is possible to understand politics and institutes, for example, of France, Italy, or Germany by analogy to Great Britain or America. To measure Russia, Lenin, Trozki and Stalin by parameters taken at England or at America nobody will decide to do. Before the historian writing about Soviet Russia, at each stage of his work there will be a double task arising before each serious historian: to combine figurative conceptions about ideas and purposes dramatise personal with clear appraisal of general value that has taken place.

In this research it’s important for us to describe not only the chronicle of revolutionary events (many authors have already made it), but the history of the political, social and economic systems, which have arisen as a result of these events. Such work should become not the detailed annals of events of the given period, but analysis of those events, which have determined the basic directions of the further development. " Ten days, which have shaken the world " by John Reed (1919) and “My Reminiscences of the Russian Revolution” (1921) by M.Philips Price give an alive picture of the revolution, and we are also interested by the detailed description in English of period of civil war and find it in "History of the Russian revolution, 1917-1921. " by W. H. Chamberlin, 1935.

In works devoted to the modern history there are some dangers. But for the historian writing about more remote past there are larger dangers: the evidences in due course disappear, decay, the time reduces them up to such amount which historian can cope with, but it does not mean at all that the most valuable facts are kept. They say usually that there are special difficulties before the historian writing about Soviet Russia, because of the lack of sources or because of their unreliability. If in the period after 1928 it seems to be so, but the period considered here does not give the grounds to assert so: there are a lot of materials of this period and the facts in them are informed with exclusive frankness and the different opinions are expressed.

According to the opinion of Edward Carr “Soviet authorities acted incorrectly, because they didn’t give the opportunity those who was not the communist but study their history and institutes to come to the USSR and to work in libraries: I had basically to use libraries of other countries. The most valuable materials in my subject are in libraries of the United States” [1, p. 63].

Since the 1980s, there has been an ever growing literature on the social history of the period, with work such as S.A.Smith's book on the factory committees or William Rosenberg and Jonathan Aves' writing on the strike waves of 1918 and 1921. Though many social historians have some sympathy with the Bolsheviks, much of their work has been overlooked by the left.

This work should show that Bolshevik policies were problematic from the start. In 1917 Lenin argued that, as private capitalism could not develop Russia, a revolutionary state would have to use 'state capitalism' to build the prerequisites.

In this research we use generally three main works. The first one is John Reed «Ten Days that Shook the World». This book is a slice of intensified history—history as Reed saw it. It does not pretend to be anything but a detailed account of the November Revolution, when the Bolshevik, at the head of the workers and soldiers, seized the state power of Russia and placed it in the hands of the Soviets. In this book Reed confined himself to a chronicle of those events which he himself observed and experienced. John Reed answers many impotent questions: What is Bolshevism? What kind of a governmental structure did the Bolsheviks set up? If the Bolsheviks championed the Constituent Assembly before the November Revolution, why did they disperse it by force of arms afterward? And if the bourgeoisie opposed the Constituent Assembly until the danger of Bolshevism became apparent, why did they champion it afterward? Certainly all this questions cannot be answered here.

The second work is “A History of Soviet Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923” by Edward Carr. This scrupulous professional work of good quality has reflected the sights, rating, opinions of that generation of the people - both foreign and Soviet - state, political, public figures, scientists and representatives of people, who were the contemporaries of the October and the post-october events. Many of them considered Lenin’s activities as significant and considered Stalin as the great figure.

The third work is “The Russian Revolution, 1917” by Rex Wade. Rex Wade presents a new account of one of the pivotal events of modern history, combining his own long study of the revolution with the best of contemporary scholarship. Within an overall narrative that provides a clear description of the 1917 revolution, he introduces several new approaches on its political history and the complexity of the October Revolution. Wade clears away many of the myths and misconceptions that have clouded studies of the period. He also gives due space to the social history of the revolution and incorporates people and places too often left out of the story, including women, national minority peoples, and peasantry front soldiers, enabling a more complete history to emerge.

For our research the other sources were also very important, for example: “A Concise History of the Russian Revolution” by Richard Pipes; “The Russian Revolution: The Overthrow of Tzarism and the Triumph of the Soviets” by Leon Trotsky [2] and many others.

We can follow the British/American interpretation of Russian Revolution 1917 analysing not only the works of the historians where the subjective opinions are expressed, but also encyclopaedias of the countries. Exactly in encyclopaedias we can find the common understanding of the events.

The main aim of our research can be formulated in the following way: to give the historical reconstruction of the events of the Russian Revolution 1917 through the eyes of American/ British observers.

For the realisation of the aim we need to implement the following concrete tasks:

- To consider the Background of the Revolution 1917;

- To analyse social relations in Russia 1917 through the eyes of American/ British observers;

- To describe the attitude American/ British observers to the level of life in Russia 1917

- To define the attitude of American/ British observers to the Russian revolutionaries: to Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

- To characterise a choice of a political positions by the Russian intelligency in the autumn of 1917 from the point of view of Russian and American/ British historians.

The practical application of our research consists in use of the given theoretical material in course of a history for the English students.

1. Carr, Edward A History of Soviet Russia The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923 Volume on Еd. Carr 1950London МacMillan 1950.

2. Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution, 1899-1919, 1990; Carr, Edward A History of Soviet Russia The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923 Volume on Еd. Carr 1950London МacMillan 1950; Trotsky, Leon. The Russian Revolution: The Overthrow of Tzarism and the Triumph of the Soviets. Edited by F. W. Dupee, from The History of the Russian Revolution. New York: Anchor Books, 1959.

The chapter I: Russian Revolution 1917 through the eyes of British/American observers

1.1. The presentation of the question

In 1917 Russia went through two revolutions: February 24 - 29 and October 24 - 25. The first revolution overthrew the tsarist government and replaced it with a Provisional Government of Duma members (mostly members of the Cadet party), who allowed a Contact Commission of the Petrograd Soviet to advise the government. Protests and strikes against the new government quickly grew as Russia's involvement in World War I lingered on, and the Provisional Government responded by establishing a Coalition Government with the Petrograd Soviet. This Dual Power however, created a confused bureaucratic quagmire, leading the government to inaction on urgent issues such as the widespread famine and slaughter on the front.

On October 24 - 25 the Bolshevik party led Russian workers and peasants to revolution, under the slogan of: "All power to the Soviets". On October 25 - 26, the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets met and created the Soviet Government through the elections of a new Council of People's Commissars and Central Executive Committee. The new government resolved to begin construction on a Socialist society, but soon encountered extreme obstacles: while attempting to come to peace with all warring nations, only Germany agreed to peace (see the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk). When World War I ended, fresh off the battlefields of the Western front, the Entente powers (US, UK, France, Japan) invaded Russia from all directions, assisted by tsarist generals and provisional government politicians. A four-year Civil War ravaged the country with catastrophic famine and casualties, forcing the government to adopt War Communism in order to survive. By the end of the war, a devastated Russia began to slowly rebuild with such programs as the NEP. On January 24th, 1924, Lenin died. With Lenin's death, the direction and practices of the Soviet government drastically changed.

1.2. Background of the Revolution 1917

On October 14th the official organ of the “moderate” Socialists said:

The drama of Revolution has two acts; the d


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Примечаний нет.


Дисциплина: История