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Filling «blank pages». New questions and answers on the Russian revolution.
Author/s: Aldo Agosti 
Year:  2017 Issue: 102 Language: Italian 
Pages:  28 Pg. 19-46 FullText PDF:  204 KB
DOI:  10.3280/PASS2017-102002
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How has scholarly understanding of Russian Revolution and of revolution in general changed over the last three decades? How the new source-material which became available since the fall of the Soviet Union has changed the basic interpretations of this event and its aftermaths? Has it affected some pivotal questions such as the possible alternatives existing to the the revolutionary outburst of 1917, the degree of violence and coercion inherent to the original spirit of Bolshevism, the continuity or discontinuity between Bolshevism and Stalinism? Three well known scholars, Laura Engelstein, Silvio Pons and Stephen A. Smith answer these and other questions.
Keywords: Russian Revolution, Bolshevism, Stalinism, Violence, Historiography

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  2. Li Zehou-Liu Zaifu, Gaobie geming: huiwang ershi shiji Zhongguo [Farewell to Revolution: Looking Back at Twentieth-Century China], Cosmos, Hong Kong 1996.
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  5. Id., On History, Abacus, London 1998, p. 311.
  6. Reference to detailed work can be found in S.A. Smith, The Historiography of the Russian Revolution 100 Years on, «Kritika», 16 (2015), n. 4, pp. 733-49.
  7. J. Smele, The “Russian” Civil Wars, 1916-1926: Ten Years that Shook the World, Hurst, London 2015; Id., A Historical Dictionary of the Russian Civil Wars, 1916-1926, vol. 2, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham 2015.
  8. E.N. Burdzhalov, Vtoraia russkaia revoliutsiia: Vosstanie v Petrograde, Nauka, Moscow 1967; D.J. Raleigh, Translator’s Introduction, in Id. (ed. by), Russia’s Second Revolution: The February 1917 Uprising in Petrograd, Indiana UP, Bloomington 1987.
  9. L.B. Miliakova (pod. red.), Kniga pogromov: Pogromy na Ukraine, v Belorussii i evropeiskoi chasti Rossii v period Grazhdanskoi voiny 1918-1922 gg.: Sbornik dokumentov, ROSSPEN, Moskva 2007; V.L. Genis, Pervaia Konnaia armiia: Za kulisami slavy, «Voprosy istorii», 1994, n. 12, pp. 64-77.
  10. I.V. Narskii, Zhizn’ v katastrofe: Budni naseleniia Urala v 1917-1922 gg., ROSSPEN, Moskva 2001; B.I. Kolonitskii, Simvoly vlasti i bor’ba za vlast’: K izucheniiu politicheskoi kul’tury rossiiskoi revoliutsii 1917 goda, D. Bulanin, St. Petersburg 2001.
  11. V. Danilov-T. Shanin et al., Krest’ianskoe vosstanie v Tambovskoi gubernii v 1919-1921 gg., “Antonovshchina”: Dokumenty i materialy, Intertsentr, Tambov 1994 and other volumes edited by Danilov and others in the last 20 years. For example, A.V. Posadskii (pod. red.), Krest’ianskii front, 1918-1922 gg.: Sbornik statei i materialov, AIRO-XXI, Moskva 2013. On workers: S.V. Iarov, Proletarii kak politik: Politicheskaia psikhologiia rabochikh Petrograda v 1917-1923 gg., D. Bulanin, St. Petersburg 1999; D. Churakov, Revoliutsiia, gosudarstvo, rabochii protest: Formy, dinamika i priroda massovykh vystuplenii rabochikh v Sovetskoi Rossii, 1917-1918 gody, ROSSPEN, Moskva 2004. On Kronstadt: V.P. Naumov-A.A. Kosakovskii (pod. red.), Kronshtadt 1921: Dokumenty o sobytiiakh v Kronshtadte vesnoi 1921 g., Mezhdunarodnyi fond “Demokratiia”, Moskva 1997.
  12. A.B. Nikolaev, Revoliutsiia i vlast’: IV Gosudarstvennaia Duma 27 fevralia-3 marta 1917 goda, RGPU, St. Petersburg 2005; O.A. Shashkova (pod. red.), Fevral’skaia revoliutsiia, 1917: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov, RGGU, Moskva 1996.
  13. Le storie generali del comunismo pubblicate nell’ultimo decennio hanno contribuito a delineare una visione globale, sebbene quasi esclusivamente incentrata sul comunismo al potere e sulle sue dinamiche: cfr. R. Service, Comrades. Communism. A World History, Macmillan, London 2007; A. Brown, The Rise and Fall of Communism, Harper&Collins, New York 2009; D. Priestland, The Red Flag. A History of Communism, Grove Press, New York 2009. Un’ottica rivolta anche al di fuori della storia dell’Urss, della Cina e del “campo socialista” è adottata da S.A. Smith (ed. by), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism, Oxford UP, Oxford-New York 2014; S. Pons (ed. by), The Cambridge History of Communism, 3 voll., Cambridge UP, Cambridge 2017.
  14. S.A. Smith, Russia in Revolution. An Empire in crisis 1890-1928, Oxford UP, Oxford-New York 2017. Cfr. O. Figes, A People’s Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, Pimlico, London 1997.
  15. S. Kotkin, Stalin, vol. I, Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928, Penguin Press, New York 2014.
  16. Id., Modern times: The Soviet Union and the inter-war conjuncture, «Kritika», 2 (2001), n. 1, pp. 111-64. Tra i numerosi contributi della “modernity school”, cfr. P. Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution: Russia’s Continuum of Crisis, 1914-1921, Harvard UP, Cambridge 2002; D. Hoffmann, Cultivating the Masses: Modern State Practices and Soviet Socialism, 1914-1939, Cornell UP, Ithaca 2011.
  17. S. Pons, La rivoluzione globale. Storia del comunismo internazionale, Einaudi, Torino 2012 (trad. Oxford UP, Oxford-New York 2014); J.C. Häberlen, Between global aspirations and local realities: the global dimension of interwar communism, «Journal of Global History», 7 (2012), n. 3, pp. 415-37; B. Studer, The Transnational World of the Cominternians, Palgrave Macmillan, London 2015.
  18. B. Kolonitskii-Y.E. Cohen, Russian Historiography of the 1917 Revolution: New Challenges to Old Paradigms?, «History and Memory», 21 (2009), n. 2, Special Issue: Historical Scholarship in Post-Soviet Russia, ed. by Gabriel Gorodetsky, pp. 34-59.
  19. Tra i contributi più recenti cfr. S. Dullin-B. Studer (sous la direction de), Communisme Transnational, «Monde(s) histoire espaces relations», novembre 2016, n. 10.
  20. C. Kurzman, Democracy Denied 1905-1915: Intellectuals and the Fate of Democracy, Harvard UP, Cambridge 2008. Cfr. anche S. Conrad-D. Sachsenmaier (eds. by), Competing Visions of World Order. Global Moments and Movements, 1880s-1930s, Palgrave Macmillan, London 2007.
  21. J. Sanborn, Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire, Oxford UP, Oxford-New York 2014.
  22. Id., The Genesis of Russian Warlordism: Violence and Governance During the First World War and the Civil War, «Contemporary European History», 19 (2010), n. 3, pp. 195-213.
  23. R. Gerwarth, The Vanquished. Why the First World War Failed to End, Straus and Giroux, New York 2016; M. Edele-R. Gerwarth, The Limits of Demobilization: Global Perspectives on the Aftermath of the Great War, «Journal of Contemporary History», 50 (2015), n. 1, pp. 3-14.
  24. Smith, Russia in Revolution cit., p. 383.
  25. 25 D. Beyrau, Der Erste Weltkrieg als Bewährungsprobe: Bolschewistische Lernprozesse aus dem “imperialistischen” Krieg, «Journal of Modern European History», 2003, n. 1, pp. 96-124; D. Beyrau, Brutalization Revisited: The Case of Russia, «Journal of Contemporary History», 50 (2015), n. 1, pp. 15-37.
  26. J. Baberowski, Scorched Earth: Stalin’s Reign of Terror, Yale UP, New Haven 2016, pp. 33, 42 (ed. or. Verbrannte Erde: Stalins Herrschaft der Gewalt, Beck, Munich 2012); Id., Gewalt verstehen, «Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History», 5 (2008), n. 1, pp. 5-17.
  27. F. Schnell, Der Sinn der Gewalt: Der Ataman Volynec und der Dauerpogrom von Gajsin im Russischen Bürgerkrieg 1919, ivi, p. 23; F. Schnell, Räume des Schreckens: Gewalt und Gruppen militanz in der Ukraine 1905-1933, Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2012, p. 15. Vladimir Buldakov sees «violence» and «chaos» as fundamental characterizations of the revolution and Civil War: Id., Krasnaia smuta: Priroda i posledstviia revoliutsionnogo nasiliia, ROSSPEN, Moskva 1997 (rev. ed. ROSSPEN, 2010).
  28. J. Baberowski, Scorched Earth cit., p. 49.
  29. P. Holquist, Making War cit., p. 3; Id., Violent Russia, Deadly Marxism: Russia in the Epoch of Violence, «Kritika», 4 (2003), n. 3, pp. 627-52.
  30. Id., Making War cit., p. 7.
  31. On the broader context: J. Böhler-W. Borodziej-J. von Puttkamer (eds. by), Legacies of Violence: Eastern Europe’s First World War, Oldenbourg, Munich 2014; R. Gerwarth-J. Horne (eds. by), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence after the Great War, Oxford UP, Oxford 2012; W.G. Rosenberg, Paramilitary Violence in Russia’s Civil Wars, 1918-1920, ivi, pp. 21-39.
  32. R. Gerwarth, The Vanquished cit., p. 10.
  33. J.D. Smele, The “Russian” Civil Wars, 1916-1926 cit., pp. 1-2.
  34. Ivi, p. 8.
  35. S. Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (1982), Oxford UP, New York 2008; S.A. Smith, Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928 cit.
  36. A.N. Artisov et al., “Ochistim Rossiiu nadolgo…”. Repressii protiv inakomysliashchikh, Konets 1921-nachalo 1923 g., Mezhdunarodnyi fond “Demokratiia”, Moskva 2008.
  37. P. Holquist, Making War cit.
  38. M. David-Fox, The Implications of Transnationalism, «Kritika», 12 (2011), n. 4, pp. 885-904; Id., Crossing Borders. Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh 2015.
  39. A.J. Rieber, Stalin and the Struggle for Supremacy in Eurasia, Cambridge UP, Cambridge 2015, p. 66.
  40. S. Kotkin, Stalin cit., pp. 407-8.
  41. Tra le storie generali del comunismo, il tema del rapporto tra ideologia, mobilitazione dall’alto e modernizzazione è stato soprattutto affrontato da D. Priestland, The Red Flag cit.

Aldo Agosti, Filling «blank pages». New questions and answers on the Russian revolution. in "PASSATO E PRESENTE" 102/2017, pp. 19-46, DOI:10.3280/PASS2017-102002


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