Social Visions 1917–21

  • Roger Pethybridge


Those social and intellectual characteristics which tended to set most of the leading Old Bolsheviks apart from the masses were mentioned in the preceding chapter. More important within the context of this chapter, it has been hinted that the vulgarised Marxist theories the Bolsheviks inherited were ill-suited to Russia’s specific social conditions. Yet during the first years of Soviet rule certain aspects of these scarcely adumbrated ideas of Marx and especially of Engels were seized, enlarged upon and immediately applied in an extreme form to Russian society. Had Marx survived to witness these short-lived experiments, it is more than likely that he would have branded them as ‘utopian’ and therefore quite alien to his own social aims as they were expressed in his maturity. In order to understand the problem, Marx’s attitude to utopia must be summarised, then set beside the more usual non-Marxist view. In the light of these two disparate approaches the impulses of the Bolsheviks can be diagnosed and the social experimentation in the period 1917–21 examined in a few selected case studies.


Trade Union Russian Society Social Vision Early Socialist Peasant Family 
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Chapter 2

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© Roger Pethybridge 1974

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  • Roger Pethybridge

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