Accounts written solely from official records can be seriously misleading. A history of the principate in the Rome of Augustus would be defective if based mainly on his decrees; and classical Athens is barely comprehensible if the archaeological evidence, as in monuments and inscriptions, is used to the exclusion of eyewitness reports. This caution needs to be applied with the same rigour to more recent times. The decrees of the Bolsheviks in the Civil War must not be treated as an accurate gauge of reality. Few states in history had announced punitive sanctions as severe as the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Nor were Lenin and his colleagues pusillanimous in the exercise of repression. Merciless struggle, monolithic unity and and the strictest discipline were catch-phrases of Bolshevik public life. Yet practical implementation was patchy. The legislation, moreover, tended to become more severe as previous laws, already themselves severe, had proved ineffectual.
KeywordsPolitical Life Central Committee Soviet Republic Central Party October Revolution
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