The Impact of War

  • Roger Pethybridge


The regimentation of social and political life in Russia is often said to have come about in the Stalinist period, but in fact Russian society has been militarised to a greater or lesser extent since the sixteenth century. Tsarist Russia has been called a ‘barracks state’, with a rigid hierarchy of social and political command culminating in the person of the autocrat. Perhaps just because Russian society has been subject to military influences for so long, it is difficult to distinguish a specifically military role in the councils of the government, whether Tsarist or Soviet.1 This leads to the central paradox of the present chapter, that although the Civil War had enormous influence on the character and organisation of early Soviet socio-political life, it did not mean that the military ceased to play its traditional Russian role of obedience to the ruler. Nevertheless the resuscitation in new guise of the militarised aspects of Russian society had a crushing effect on utopian experiments during the Civil War and continued to infiltrate Soviet life in the peace which followed.


Civilian Population Secret Police Standing Army Political Commissar Regular Army 
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Chapter 3

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© Roger Pethybridge 1974

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  • Roger Pethybridge

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