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History Teaches: The Frontiers of Political Imagination

  • Teodor Shanin

Abstract

To hammer home a point, the originality claimed for the strategies of those political leaders of Russia whom we are now to discuss was not a matter of some abstract ‘newness’, full of coherence or finality. Elements of views already expressed and borrowed were integrated with new ideas, as well as with pragmatic devices and tactical compromises. The result was very often contradictory and ever in flux. What united them, made them particular and provided for their political impact was their analytical vitality — their ability to leave behind the reigning assumptions of the past and to move into uncharted waters while reacting to the unexpected Russia which came to light in its revolution. On a personal level, this ability was underpinned by the capacity to be merciless enough towards (or distanced enough from) one’s own social and intellectual origins and to ‘think big’, that is, to be able to go beyond intellectual tinkerings toward grand designs of social reconstruction. The outcome depended on the general social context but also on the ability of the leaders to pursue effective political tactics and in particular to tie together a coalition of allies and lead them in the harsh political confrontations which inevitably resulted from challenging holy cows and their loyal cowmen.

Keywords

Central Committee Electoral College Agrarian Reform Administrative Reform National Problem 
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Notes and References

6A Stolypin and Revolution from Above

  1. 1.
    G. Kryzhanovskii, vospominaniya (Berlin, 1925);Google Scholar
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6B Trotsky and the Permanent Revolution

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6C Zhordaniya and the National Front

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6D Lenin: Revolutions and the Post-revolutionary State

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    For evidence and discussion see T. Shanin, Late Marx and the Russian Road (London, 1984)Google Scholar
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    For discussion see P. Sweezy, The Post-Revolutionary State (New York, 1980)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Teodor Shanin 1986

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  • Teodor Shanin

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