More on the revolution

I have an article in Saturday’s edition of the Ottawa Citizen, which further examines ideas of political legitimacy with reference to the Russian Revolution. You can read it here.

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5 thoughts on “More on the revolution”

  1. ” … the purpose of the revolution was not at all to shatter the existing
    economic and social system, …; rather, it was meant to strengthen the
    system and … ”
    About 80% of the population were rural peasants and, I believe, that
    more than 5% were urban peasants working in cities but returning to
    their family farms each spring and fall. Life was very nasty in the
    cities and very hard in the villages. I doubt that 85% of the population
    wanted to ‘strengthen the system’. Perhaps the terrified landed
    nobility, but not peasants and city workers. And, what about the
    national minorities?

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  2. Actually, there is a certain amount of evidence that rank and file soldiers, and many ordinary civilians, viewed the February revolution in terms of eliminating the ‘inner Germans’ which they believed were undermining the war effort. Allan Wildman provides some information to this regard in his history of the Russian Army in WW1. If I remember correctly, also illuminating on this matter is Boris Kolonitskii, “Tragicheskaia erotika:” obrazy imperatorskoi sem’i v gody pervoi mirovoi voiny (St Petersburg: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2010).

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  3. Professor, your article about the February Revolution is just… amazingly good! It’s accurate, to the point, brief and has a “moral lesson” in the end. Judging by the comment section below the article though, the target auditory is hopeless.

    The points that you make there, drawing attention to the fact that the so-called West and countries unbeholden to it (be it Russia or other countries) have a “values dissonance” as to what constitutes the source of legitimacy. I’d like to add that when I was saying the exact same thing, mentioning the exact same “pillars” of legitimacy in Russian and Western cases, I did it without knowledge of your article’s contents. Could I be actually considered right then? 🙂

    Yet, there is obligatory fly in the ointment of otherwise nice, good article. Your use of the term “nationalism” as one of the pillars of the legitimacy. We had this talk before (well, attempt of the talk) on the issue of what does the term “nationalism” mean. You are using it, apparently, knowing your target auditory and how it would interpret this particular term. Am I correct? So, you willingly used the term, which most Westerners (especially of the liberal persuasion) view negatively, and the ones who do it positively tend to interpret it as “ethno-nationalism”? How do you think, is it really the case? That we, Russians, base our legitimacy on “ethno-nationalism” and not on, say, patriotism? Then why you didn’t use the term “patriotism”? Or when talking about foreign countries you can’t actually use it?

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    1. Thanks, Lyttenburgh.

      Frankly, the patriotism/nationalism distinction is a semantic minefield. I’m not sure why I used the one not the other in this case.

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      1. “I’m not sure why I used the one not the other in this case.”

        I’m not ESPer, so you will have to tell us what connotations do you include in the term “nationalism”, as a distinct pillar of Russian legitimacy.

        Note: I heard that some Westerners tend to translate “narodnost” from Uvarov’s famous Triad as “nationalism”. This is incorrect translation, made, possibly, due to some idealogical bias.

        P.S. Commenters proved themselves to, mostly, loose the point completely. They, apparently, are still unavare who grabbed the power following the February Revolution.

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