Some Military and Political Aspects of the ‘Militia Army’ Controversy, 1919–1920
For many months in 1917 the Bolsheviks worked assiduously to cripple an army rather than labouring to create one. The party’s specialists in ‘military affairs’, the propagandists and agitators of the ‘Military Organisation’, were bent on paralysing the Imperial Army which otherwise might have been used against them, but once in power these same Bolsheviks, practised as they were in demolition and demoralisation, faced a fight for survival which demanded nothing less than the raising of a military force — an army — which would be capable of defending their new-found regime It was a task for which, as Lenin himself subsequently admitted, neither ideological nor political preparation of any kind had been made.1 Though rejecting the idea of using the prevailing military machine in the service of a revolutionary regime and propounding in turn the idea of a class-based revolutionary force, Marx and Engels had perforce little, if anything, to say about the form and function of the armed forces in post-revolutionary society; emotionalism filled the gap left by defective theorising and expressed itself in the radicals’ loathing of the standing army, the idealisation of the levée en masse and the yearning to establish a wholly ‘new’ type of army.
KeywordsField Staff Soviet Republic Military Organisation General Staff Military Affair
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