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Russian Revolution and International Reaction Essay

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Updated: Sep 15th, 2021

Western involvement in the conduct of the Russian Civil War

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Russia underwent several major revolutionary campaigns, which eventually led to considerable changes in the country’s political, economic, and military life. The revolution of 1917 is said to have brought “a huge social change” and to have rejected “imperial autocratic power.”1 Scholars remark that Bolsheviks, who formulated the majority of the country’s revolutionary power, were very well-organized due to having a variety of committees, organizations, and unions.2 However, the top-down approach employed by Bolsheviks was not effective for ordinary people. Therefore, a bottom-up power was a necessity, but it manifested social reality.3 As a result of revolutionary leaders’ inability to resolve the most pressing issues prevailing in Russia, a civil war broke out.

Two major sides were fighting in the Russian Civil War: the Red Army, which represented Bolsheviks, and the White Army, which was composed of various forces that were loosely connected. Socialism, which was favored by Lenin, was aimed at “preserving the peace of mind.”4 However, Lenin’s opponents considered him as “a man completely played out, standing apart from the movement,” and did not treat Lenin’s endeavors as capable of reaching success.5 The Russian Civil War started on November 7, 1917, immediately following the two revolutions.6

An essential role in the course of the civil war belonged to Western involvement. Different forces came together on the European Russia’s boundary, some of them to overthrow the revolution and others to create “different versions of revolutionary society.”7 The so-called White Armies were formed by former czarist generals and soldiers. The most conservative representatives of the Socialist Revolutionary Party tried to initiate a separate revolutionary government. Meanwhile, there was also an anarchist group that resisted any powerful central government, which pursued the goal of controlling the South of Ukraine.8 In the situation that occurred, several capitalist countries decided to offer military help to the White faction. The most powerful of these states were Britain, Japan, and the USA.

However, the military endeavors of the White Army were cut off by the creation of the Red Army, which included volunteers first, and then was enlarged using enlisted soldiers. At the core of the Red Army, there were hundreds of thousands of Communist Party members and industrial workers.9 The leader of the Red Army, Trotsky, was ambitious and charismatic. Over some time, the Red Army increased in number, reaching up to five million soldiers.10 By 1923, the Red Army won due to several reasons. The principal causes of the failure of the Allied Powers to help the White Army included the disagreement in goals and the general weakness of the Western involvement forces after World War I. Additionally, there was rather a low level of support from the local people. As a result, the anticipated positive role of the Allied Powers in the White Army’s military efforts did not bring about any positive outcomes.

The international response to the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution was an attempt of ordinary people, the majority of whom were peasants, to reshape the Marxist vision, which would make the new trajectory attractive to both peasants and industrial workers.11 It was hoped that the Constituent Assembly would define the new regime’s legal status and would legalize it.12 However, as Mironov notes when discussing the Assembly, it gathered too late, and the Bolsheviks “broke it up.”13 The international response to the Russian Revolution and the reception of the new regime was not warm. According to Daly, the Bolsheviks did not succeed in explaining their concepts enough.14 Instead, they selected the strategy of complete rejection of the previous thoughts and customs in an attempt to “make the world a better place.”15 In a negative assessment of Bolsheviks’ governance, Daly refers to it as highly inappropriate, mentioning that its “horrors” emerged from Bolsheviks’ “repudiation of the precious fruits of Western political thought.”16

The opinion prevailed that Bolsheviks’ seizure of power in 1917 was an unthoughtful endeavor. 17 Marx expected that the transformation of socialism would happen in the most progressive countries first due to large numbers of working-class people that could be exploited as the basic support for the new regime. Meanwhile, the industrial working class in Russia, despite being revolutionary, contained only a small ratio of the total population. In his turn, Lenin was convinced that the uncommon political situation presented a rare opportunity18. Russia shattered from the activities of revolutionary peasants and rebellious armed forces who endeavored to find alleviation from economic exploitation and the hardships of war. Such opinions were treated by other countries as the aspiration to create a social order that demanded behaviors that Russians could not sustain.19 The international reaction had an encouraging effect on Bolsheviks, serving as a trigger to initiate industrialization as soon as possible.20 Bolsheviks understood that if capitalize nations, which treated the Russian new regime with estrangement, started a military attack, Russia would require heavy industry to produce weapons that might be needed to defend themselves from enemies.

Bibliography

Bickmann, Mitchell, and Brad Seidman. “Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.” Social Science Docket 7, no. 1 (2007): 41–46.

Daly, Jonathan. “Bolshevik Power and Ideas of the Common Good.” Modern Age 54, no. 1–4 (2012): 77–88.

DeFronzo, James. Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements. 5th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014.

Goldstone, Jack A. Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Cengage, 2003.

2007. Web.

Mironov, Boris N. “The Russian Revolution of 1917 as a By-Product of Modernization.” Sociological Research 53, no. 5 (2014): 81–97.

2007. Web.

Trotsky, Leon. “The Russian Revolution.” The Saturday Evening Post 203, no. 48 (1931): 16–120.

Footnotes

  1. The People’s Revolution, 2007, Web.
  2. Lenin’s Revolution, 2007, Web.
  3. Lenin’s Revolution.
  4. Leon Trotsky, “The Russian Revolution,” The Saturday Evening Post 203, no. 48 (1931): 117.
  5. Trotsky, “The Russian Revolution,” 117.
  6. Mitchell Bickmann and Brad Seidman, “Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia,” Social Science Docket 7, no. 1 (2007): 42.
  7. James DeFronzo, Revolutions, and Revolutionary Movements, 5th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014), 47.
  8. DeFronzo, Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements, 48.
  9. DeFronzo, 48.
  10. Ibid., 48.
  11. Jack A. Goldstone, Revolutions: Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Cengage, 2003), 183.
  12. Boris N. Mironov, “The Russian Revolution of 1917 as a By-Product of Modernization,” Sociological Research 53, no. 5 (2014): 82.
  13. Mironov, “The Russian Revolution of 1917,” 82.
  14. Jonathan Daly, “Bolshevik Power and Ideas of the Common Good,” Modern Age 54, no. 1–4 (2012): 77.
  15. Daly, “Bolshevik Power,” 78.
  16. Daly, 78.
  17. DeFronzo, 46.
  18. DeFronzo, 47.
  19. Daly, 78.
  20. DeFronzo, 47.
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