Civil wars begin in many ways, but one is when a radical minority seizes power by force and seeks to impose its agenda on a largely unwilling population. Most people aren’t interested in politics and just want to get on with their lives. But in such circumstances, some will be found who decide to fight back. So it was in Russia between 1917 and 1921. In this week’s book, Geoffrey Swain puts the blame for the Russian Civil War firmly on the shoulders of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. As Swain says:
The Russian Civil War was an unnecessary war. It was a war brought about by Lenin when he wrecked the Railway Workers’ Union talks on 4 November 1917. … [He] realized that in the absence of an international civil war he would have to impose his views through a civil war in Russia, and could do so by relying on the greed of the German imperialists.
That seems a fair conclusion to me, but no doubt the Leninist sympathizers among my readers will disagree.