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Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 5.1 (2004) 207-217



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Party History—What It Is and Is Not

Frederick C. Corney
Dept. of History
College of William and Mary
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-3755 USA
fccorn@wm.edu


Men'sheviki v 1918 godu [The Mensheviks in 1918]. Edited by Ziva Galili and Al'bert Pavlovich Nenarokov. Compiled by Dmitrii Borisovich Pavlov. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1999. 798 pp. ISBN 5-82430-038-0. Part of the series Men'sheviki v bol'shevistskoi Rossii, 1918-1924 [The Mensheviks in Bolshevik Russia, 1918-24], in turn part of the series Politicheskie partii Rossii: Konets XIX-pervaia tret' XX veka. Dokumental'noe nasledie [Political Parties in Russia: The End of the 19th and First Third of the 20th Century. The Documentary Inheritance], under the general editorship of Valentin Valentinovich Shelokhaev.
Men'sheviki v 1919-1920 gg. [The Mensheviks in 1919-20]. Edited by Ziva Galili and Al'bert Pavlovich Nenarokov. Compiled by Dmitrii Borisovich Pavlov. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2000. 935 pp. ISBN 5-82430-039-9. Part of the series Men'sheviki v bol'shevistskoi Rossii, 1918-1924 [The Mensheviks in Bolshevik Russia, 1918-24], in turn part of the series Politicheskie partii Rossii: Konets XIX-pervaia tret' XX veka: Dokumental'noe nasledie [Political Parties in Russia: The End of the 19th and First Third of the 20th Century. The Documentary Inheritance], under the general editorship of Valentin Valentinovich Shelokhaev.
Partiia sotsialistov-revoliutsionerov: Dokumenty i materialy, 1900-1925 [The Socialist Revolutionary Party: Documents and Materials, 1900-25]. 3 vols. Compiled by Nikolai Dmitrievich Erofeev. Vol. 3, pt. 2: Oktiabr' 1917 g.-1925 g. [October 1917-1925]. Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2000. 1,055 pp. ISBN 5-82430-109-3. Part of the series Politicheskie partii Rossii: Konets XIX-pervaia tret' XX veka. Dokumental'noe nasledie [Political Parties in Russia: The End of the 19th and First Third of the 20th Century. The Documentary Inheritance], under the general editorship of Valentin Valentinovich Shelokhaev.

It is perhaps fitting that this review essay for a special issue devoted to the "new" political history should find common cause with the dean of the "old" political history. Reviewing several Soviet and Western texts on the history of the CPSU some 40 years ago, Robert Tucker implied that historians had failed to recognize the constraints within which they had written their works. [End Page 207] While the Communist Party was politically and ideologically committed to the writing of post-1917 Soviet history as a history of the Party, Western scholars, Tucker noted, had often unwittingly replicated this approach with their own works. 1 His point has wider relevance. Scholars have tended to examine the revolutionary politics of early Soviet Russia through an early 20th-century image of European party culture, evaluating the former according to its inability to measure up to the latter. For many scholars, the fleeting possibilities of Russian Social Democracy (its very capitalization implies a place among the mass social-democratic movements of Western Europe) in the post-October reality became the political model against which the maximalist, exclusionary policies of the Bolshevik Party were measured. Similarly, the measure of success of the more broadly popular, if perhaps less "democratic" (in many scholars' eyes), Socialist Revolutionary Party (PSR, its members the SRs) came to be the "appropriation" of its policies by Bolshevik authorities desperately clinging to power after October 1917. In this insistently party context, other much more broadly employed modes of political expression or action, including the voice of the worker plenipotentiary (upolnomochennyi) and nonparty person (bespartiinyi) , have been implicitly or explicitly drowned out by the party voice. 2 It also implicitly shifts the burden for the failure of the Mensheviks and the SRs in particular to the groups these parties claimed as historical social bases. The political immaturity of the peasantry and of broad sections of the working classes, exposed in the vicious conditions of the Civil War, made the principled positions of the Mensheviks in particular a hard sell. By following their existential, individualistic instincts to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-5000
Print ISSN
1531-023x
Pages
pp. 207-217
Launched on MUSE
2004-03-18
Open Access
No
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