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The Making of a Moderate Bolshevik: an Introduction to L. B. Kamenev’s Political Biography

  • Catherine Merridale

Abstract

Political biography has not always been regarded as an entirely respectable topic for serious historians. The broader reinterpretation of issues such as class, gender and social conflict which preoccupied the historical profession in the 1960s and 1970s allowed little space for the study of individual political actors, and high politics, let alone the individual politician, was seldom the focus for innovative research. Biography more often than not appeared to be a pastime for the amateur. To some extent, recent interest in psycho-analysis and postmodernism has reversed this trend, provoking some historians to rediscover the individual in a new context, but so far this sort of work has had little impact on historians of Soviet Russia. The latter have been obliged, whether or not they subscribe to a Marxist theory of history, to address the explicitly Marxist political and historical debate embedded in Soviet Communism. Some, therefore, have chosen to explore economic and political developments in the broadest analytical terms. Ironically, however, at the same time historians of the USSR have had to face the inescapable fact that two key individuals — Lenin and Stalin — exerted an influence over the political process which is almost without parallel in the history of the modern state.

Keywords

Private Tutor Marxist Theory Historical Profession Habeas Corpus Coalition Discussion 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888–1938 (London, 1980)Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Armed, Trotsky, 1871–1921 (London, 1954)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed, Trotsky, 1921–1929 (London, 1959); The Prophet Outcast, Trotsky, 1929–1940 (London, 1963). In practice, despite this disclaimer, it remains difficult to write a biography which does not, to some extent, apologise for its subject.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    L. Trotsky, Stalin (London, 1947), p. 283.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World (New York, 1934 and 1982), p. 36.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    L. Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution (London, 1934), p. 303.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Stankevich, quoted in ibid., p. 303.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    This marked her out as an exception among women of her social background, and especially among Jewish women in Russia at the time. Bestuzhev courses were aimed at young women intending to pursue careers in secondary teaching. They were founded in 1878 by a progressive group of academics headed by Professor A. N. Beketov. For another account, see Lydia Dan’s recollection in L. Haimson et al. (eds) The Making of Three Russian Revolutionaries (Cambridge, 1987), p. 73.Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    The point was made by F. Samoilov, reminiscing about Lenin in Cracow in January 1914: Proletarskaya revolyutsiya (hereafter PR), 1924, no. 3 (26), p. 175.Google Scholar
  10. 37.
    N. K. Krupskaya, Reminiscences of Lenin (Moscow, 1959), p. 223.Google Scholar
  11. 45.
    PR, 1929, nos. 8–9 (91–2), p. 36, and see L. Kamenev, Mezhdu dvumya revolyutsiyami (Moscow, 1923), p. 234.Google Scholar
  12. 64.
    Initially, an attempt was made to limit him to unsigned contributions. R. C. Elwood (ed.), Resolutions and Decisions of the CPSU, vol. 1: The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, 1898 - October 1917 (Toronto, 1974), pp. 202–3.Google Scholar
  13. 80.
    Trotsky, Stalin, p. 344, plays this down, emphasising Lenin’s impatience with Kamenev on the issue. But see J. Keep, ‘Lenin’s Letters as an Historical Source’, in B. W. Eissenstat (ed.), Lenin and Leninism: State, Law and Society (Lexington, MA, 1971), p. 260, citing an example from the Ukraine.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Merridale

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