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The Impact of the October Revolution on International and Inter-Ethnonational Relations

  • Egbert Jahn
Chapter

Abstract

Research into the reasons why during the twentieth century, the rule of the Communist Party, which was guilty of mass murder, was greeted with enthusiasm and led to the mobilisation of countless millions of people for three generations, is far from having been completed and has still not provided satisfactory results. The October Revolution is generally interpreted as a socially motivated event led from below by the suffering lower social orders and by a number of middle-class, property-owning intellectuals and the aristocracy. This view takes insufficient account of the fact that all communist regimes, with the exception of the Cuban regime, were created as a result of military defeats in the two world wars and in several colonial wars. In order for the communist parties to win, the concept of capitalism as the root cause not only of social exploitation, but above all also for war, militarism and nationalism, played a decisive role. The promise of an entirely new way of organising relations between the ethnic nations and the states in the name of internationalism, and not of cosmopolitanism that was without nation or state, was a key factor in the success of the communists.

Lenin was a proponent of a global republic with a centrally administered global economy, a single global corporation and a global office led by a global party. However, for tactical reasons, he propagated the right to self-determination of the people, the dissolution of the large continental and colonial empires and the formation of national republics, to be brought together under one umbrella as federations. In the long term, he anticipated not only a rapprochement between the nations, but their “amalgamation”. The multi-national USSR was not intended to act as a successor state to Tsarist Russia, but as an alternative to the capitalist League of Nations, and as the core of the global Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

After the failure of the global revolution, Stalin developed the concept of socialism in one country, and later of Soviet patriotism. He assumed that in the future communist global society, humanity would speak just one language, Russian. Accordingly, the non-Russian nations among the Soviet peoples were to “voluntarily” adopt Russian as their second native language. The Communist International as an organisation of the global party, which was separated according to the different nations, was now to act as a tool of Soviet foreign policy. After 1945, the new states that fell under communist rule were not integrated into the USSR, but were rather to form a closed “socialist community of states” with a common foreign policy. In the longer term, the emancipation of the communist nations of Yugoslavia and China was the first step on the road towards the end of communism.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Egbert Jahn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MannheimMannheimGermany

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