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International Socialism, Spring 2006


Kevin Murphy

The light that hasn’t failed


From International Socialism 2 : 110, Spring 2006.
Copyright © International Socialism.
Copied with thanks from the International Socialism Website.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Kevin Murphy’s book Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory is a landmark in the study of Soviet history. [1] Based on painstaking research in four factory specific archives, it is, as the publisher claims, ‘unquestionably the most thorough investigation to date on working class life during the revolutionary era’. The book is a stark challenge to the conventional idea that ‘Lenin led to Stalin’ – i.e., that Stalinism arose on the basis of the 1917 Revolution instead of in opposition to it. Kevin discussed the issues raised by his book, which won the 2005 Deutscher Memorial prize, with Pete Glatter.

Can you give us a brief idea of how this research project originated? Why concentrate on a single factory (the Guzhon/Moscow Metalworks, later the Hammer & Sickle Factory)? How could you establish the extent to which what was happening in the factory was indicative of the general situation in the working class? What was your political outlook and academic background?

As a young socialist I became fascinated with the Russian Revolution. I read Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution and then Tony Cliff ’s first two volumes on Lenin [2], but when I tried to follow that up I discovered that there was very little else – almost everything coming out of academia was State Department rubbish. If you pulled almost any book off the shelf it would fail the smell test within seconds. Then came The Bolsheviks Come to Power by Alexander Rabinowitch and Steve Smith’s Red Petrograd. [3] I can still remember my excitement when these two books came out – two brilliantly researched books on the Russian Revolution that were actually sympathetic to the popular movement! I wore out the covers on them, took extensive notes, and used them to challenge my right wing professor at Amherst College, where I took my first course in Russian history.

Rabinowitch and Smith were my inspirations. While I was working on this project I constantly reminded myself of my initial exhilaration at reading about the Russian Revolution as someone newly radicalised by the US war against Vietnam. I also knew my intended audience – not the drab, tired milieu of anti-Communist academics who dominate the field today – but the growing numbers of young people outraged by the US war on Iraq and the exposure of capital’s priorities in the response to Hurricane Katrina. The marines secured the oilfields within 48 hours after the invasion of Iraq but the American government could not get water and food to its own citizens for over a week.

That says much about Bush administration priorities, but there is a price to be paid for such policies. My nephew lives in Hunterdon County, rural New Jersey – hardly a bastion of radicalism. He’s told me that half of his high school classmates wear black clothes, have purple hair and now hate the government. Half! This hasn’t necessarily translated into political activism, but it will. On 29 October several thousand young people demonstrated on the Boston Common. Some of these activists will inevitably start to ask questions about the most important social movement in world history. I hope that over the next decade or so a few of them will pull my book off the shelf, and that in it they will find a chapter in history with incredible relevance for our own time, and some ammunition to use in challenging their own professors.

Why a study of one factory? When I started my postgraduate work at Brandeis University I had delusional aspirations of writing a grandiose tome on the Russian Revolution. My adviser convinced me that rather than writing yet another general study, a micro-history of a single factory would be far more useful in showing the ebbs and flows in workers’ activism. I believe that this approach was correct, but that is for others to judge.

Have I proved that the events in Hammer & Sickle were indicative of the general situation in the working class? I used the recently published Sovershenno Sektretno (Top Secret) series reports to Stalin during the 1920s to draw a comparative framework. There were some minor differences in Hammer & Sickle compared to other factories – for example the strength of oppositionists was unusual – but the Sovershenno Sektretno reports show that the contours of events were the generally the same throughout the Soviet Union.

If we look at the two formerly dominant explanations for the rise of Stalinism we can see how fundamentally flawed they were. Overreacting against the Cold War establishment, many ‘revisionist’ historians of the 1980s naively repeated the standard Soviet argument that Stalinism was able to draw on a significant section of working class support for its policies. We now know that this is complete nonsense: 15 years have passed since the archives opened up yet the revisionists have yet to find a single factory anywhere in the Soviet Union where workers were enamoured with Stalinism. This school of thought is now completely discredited.

The other main attempt to explain early Soviet industrial relations was based on the Cold War myth of early Soviet repression. The argument that the revolutionary regime incarcerated large numbers of its own citizens, including workers, has now been proven to be ‘a pack of lies’, to use George Galloway’s phrase. We now know that less than a hundred thousand people were incarcerated across the entire Soviet Union in 1925, and Sovershenno Sektretno shows that in the face of over 4,000 work stoppages during the New Economic Policy (NEP) striking workers were arrested in only about a dozen cases.

The US president Woodrow Wilson – who secretly funnelled tens of millions of dollars to anti-Semitic Cossack bandits during the Civil War in an effort to install a military dictatorship amenable to US interests – incarcerated over 5,000 workers during the eight weeks of anti-Communist raids in the US in 1919–1920 (known as the ‘Palmer Raids’, after his Attorney General). This was more than the Soviet regime did during the entire eight years of NEP. It is quite fitting that Russian Studies think tanks in the US that were founded by the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) are named after war criminals like Wilson and George Kennan, who was one of the main architects of US imperialist strategy after the Second World War. But we shouldn’t allow the people who come out of these propaganda mills to set the agenda in a discussion of repression and violence during the Russian Revolution. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Soviet citizens died because of the western blockade and because of imperialist support for the White mercenary armies. The argument that I think we should make is, yes, let’s have discussion on the Red Terror but let’s also have a sense of proportion. And let’s start by discussing the Red, White, and Blue Terror.

How would you sum up the way in which the workers in the factory overcame their internal divisions and linked up with a wider movement of revolutionary solidarity? How did this relate to the ascendancy of the Bolshevik party?

I’ve tried to show that the strengthening of class solidarity was integral to the process of class struggle and was in many ways a response to the intransigence of Guzhon factory management and the brutality of the Tsarist regime. With the threat of being exiled to Siberia or sent to the front, the choice was either to acquiesce in management’s war profiteering or to move forward and develop new forms of organisation to combat them, such as holding secret meetings, electing representatives with demands that there be no reprisals, etc. Workers learned at an incredible pace through struggle, and forging solidarity meant that they had to start championing the concerns of all workers, including women and unskilled younger workers. This was particularly evident in the economic demands that they pressed in 1916 and 1917, which took up the issues of higher pay for less skilled workers. It was not coincidental that as workers’ demands became more inclusive, solidarity within the workforce was also strengthened. Of course there was a political aspect to this solidarity, and revolutionaries played a key role in this – Bolsheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs). From the Lena massacre in April 1912 until 1917 there were some 30 rounds of political strikes. Thirty! While I believe the ‘us against them’ mentality reverberated in every factory in the empire, political strikes necessitate organisation, and as the war dragged on the Bolsheviks repeatedly stuck their necks out. They paid the price in the short term with mass arrests and exile, at a time when the SRs continued to support the war and retained their membership. The fundamental ideological differences really only began to come to the fore late in summer of 1917, when the question of state power became paramount. Liberal social historians try to claim that the Bolsheviks suddenly became ‘lucky’ in this period, but I try to show that the ascendancy of the radical solution made sense to workers after years of escalating class confrontation. The Bolsheviks won the ideological battle for Soviet power that took place in every factory, not just in Guzhon’s enterprise. As Rabinowitch has shown, 503 of 670 delegates came to the Second Congress of Soviets committed to Soviet power. For obvious reasons, this is a hard pill for anti-Communists to swallow.

Your chapter on class conflict during the NEP traces a complex and contradictory situation: the Communist Party and trade union organisations in the factory degenerate but the factory committee remains democratic, the workers assert themselves pretty freely and have an impact on the institutions of the regime, and the Rates Conflict Committee obviates the need for industrial action by resolving a large proportion of disputes in the workers’ favour. The workers had exercised real control in 1917, both economically and politically. But the regime had been crippled by the civil war of 1918-1921 and by an international blockade. The NEP was a retreat in the face of unrest like the 1921 Kronstadt Revolt. It involved a partial reintroduction of the market and the tightening-up of one party rule. But workers still had partial control; they still participated in some sense in the exercise of power. However, Simon Pirani, who has also been doing archive-based research, argues that the soviets and factory committees of 1917 were the main elements in a ‘participatory democracy’ which ‘aimed at including the working class (and to a lesser extent the peasants) in creative decision-making’. He contrasts this with mass mobilisation techniques, which, he argues, were first used by the Bolsheviks in the Civil War, and were then refined and perfected during the following two years – the first two years of the NEP – as ‘an alternative to participatory forms of democratic organisation’. He concludes that the Bolsheviks themselves subverted revolutionary democracy in Russia, essentially because they saw themselves as an elite vanguard. [4] What do you think of his case?

We’re really talking about different topics here: apples and oranges. Simon Pirani has very little positive to say about early Soviet society. This notion of mass mobilisation is really a red herring. Mass mobilisations started several weeks after the revolution, with a demonstration a quarter of a million strong in support of the Brest peace proposal [i.e., to make a separate peace with Germany]. May Day and 7 November demonstrations (the anniversary of the Soviet/Bolshevik seizure of power), subbotniki (Saturday voluntary work) continued in various forms throughout the Civil War, the NEP and then in a contrived, mandatory form throughout the Stalinist period and beyond.

The real question seems to me to be whether workers had any say in the process of production and actively participated in workplace institutions (rather than being coerced to do so as under Stalinism). The answer is yes. As I tried to show, workers repeatedly turned to their union representatives to solve a range of grievances. Working women participated in delegate meetings because they expected and received a generally favourable response. And, as the factory director admitted, the trade union rather than management held ultimate power on the shop floor. There was still a very vibrant, vocal, and assertive political life in the factories during the NEP. My findings are somewhat similar to the work of Diane Koenker on print workers. Although she draws completely different conclusions from mine [5], Koenker argues that workers still had control over the process of production during the NEP. My own position is that NEP factory politics illustrate that, despite the many flaws, the revolution was still very much alive, and the system in the factories fundamentally different from that under capitalism.

I think that Simon is correct when he says that the Bolsheviks could have opened up elections to the soviets by, for example, collaborating with a non-party group in Moscow in 1921, but I also think that he is mistaken in castigating the Bolsheviks for the formation of a one-party state. That discussion really has to be framed by the question of whether or not one is in favour of the October Revolution and soviet power or not – most of the Mensheviks and SRs were against soviet power in 1917 and later attempted to manipulate the food crisis and rising expectations at the end of the Civil War. Historians who champion the Menshevik and SR cause today are similarly horrified by the October Revolution and soviet power. On what basis can anti-Communist historians who are adamantly opposed to Soviet power in the first place, and who ignore Western-funded mass violence perpetrated against soviet citizens during the Civil War period, be part of a retrospective discussion on how the proletarian basis of the regime could have been strengthened?

These important qualifications aside, though, like Simon I believe that the Bolsheviks could have opened up the soviet elections during the early NEP and that they should have been more confident about defeating their tub-thumping adversaries in soviet elections. By doing so they could have strengthened working class power and workers’ participation in their own state. We should remember, however, that Left SRs in Hammer & Sickle did put forward candidates and argued their positions publicly, and without obstruction, in 1922. This is a party that had tried to organise a military coup and the assassination of Lenin in 1918 and then were given political amnesty in 1919.

You present the NEP regime, with all its faults, as being fundamentally different from the Stalinist counter-revolution after 1928, which imposed an extreme, all-embracing productivist agenda – ‘production for production’s sake’, a fundamental feature of capitalism. Why did the workers not make more of an effort to defend the NEP regime and their place in it, especially given your argument that ‘terror was not Stalinism’s primary, or even most efficient, tool for disciplining the workforce’? After all, you make the case that the workers gave little sign of enthusiasm for Stalinism in the factory, ie, for the smothering of opposition, the fall in wages, the transformation of the workforce, the emasculation of the factory committee, the abolition of religious holidays, etc.

The period from 1925 to 1928 was indeed one of continual backsliding on almost every issue: a modest reduction in real wages, real weakening of the trade unions, the demise of working women’s organisations, a crackdown on party political dissent, and so on. But Stalinism in 1925 was not the same thing as it had become by 1929. I think we have to attempt to avoid reading back into events because we know the brutality of how things played out later on. We have to remember that these working class institutions had a history of defending workers, so I think it was quite natural for workers to have retained some hope that they could be pressured to do so again. It’s no coincidence that where trade unions were the weakest – among textile workers in Ivanovo, the ‘Russian Manchester’ – workers did build new, independent networks of opposition outside the official channels during the NEP and continued to strike and resist developing Stalinism into the First Five Year Plan. Unfortunately, Ivanovo was the exception and not the rule.

Given the history of resilience and militancy of the Russian working class, of course we are disappointed to find that there was not more generalised resistance. In many ways, however, the working class’s retreat in late NEP displayed attributes that were the norm in Europe and the US when labour was on the defensive: employers used the cudgel of unemployment to wrest concessions from the unions; union leaders backtracked and tried to secure whatever small victories remained possible; disgruntled workers voiced increasing displeasure, and started to blame other workers as the bonds of solidarity weakened. We can’t take this analogy too far though. The big difference compared to various Western workers’ movements in retreat was the nature of the regime and what came before and after. But Stalinism could not have triumphed so emphatically during the First Five Year Plan without working class solidarity already having been undermined.

1928 marked the crisis of the NEP – the failure of the second harvest in a row, the reintroduction of grain requisitioning in the countryside, hunger and rationing in the towns, widespread protests and food riots. Within the working class there were two seemingly contradictory trends. On the one hand, many of the divisions were magnified: between shops, between male and female workers, between urban and newly arriving former peasants and so on. Many workers also started looking for individual solutions to the crisis. On the other hand, seething discontent was discernible among a significant minority of workers. I believe that there was a very narrow gap between this anger and widespread revolt. Collective action by the militant minority could have very easily shifted the confidence among the entire class. This was the experience of Russian workers for the previous 30 years.

Historians who connect the dots between the early Soviet regime and later Stalinism must necessarily write the workers out of the equation, as if they were merely victims with no choice. But if you look at the 1928 OGPU (political police) reports you see that these sentiments reverberated in factories throughout the Soviet Union. I don’t see how anyone reading these reports could possibly argue that defeat was inevitable – if anything, pressing the workers further during the crisis was a great risk. So 1928 was a real litmus test for developing Stalinism because it gave the new rulers confidence to move onto the offensive against the working class in more ruthless terms: the strategic use of food as a social engineering tool, the transformation of the factory committees from institutions that defended workers into management institutions for the productivity drive, and the silencing of dissident voices during the First Five Year Plan. It was also necessary for the Stalinists to arrest thousands of oppositionists and later untold thousands of workers, but this terror was only possible because of the already weakened solidarity among workers.

In a broadly favourable review which pays tribute to your research, John Eric Marot contends that you are wrong to describe the NEP regime, or at least one aspect of it, as ‘developing Stalinism’. The Stalinists as a faction within the state bureaucracy failed to extend their power down to the point of production, he argues, until they replaced the NEP with the First Five Year Plan in 1929. Your own work, he says, demonstrates ‘in a manner never before accomplished’ that ‘the institutions and practices through which workers exerted power and defended their interests on the shop floor retained their vitality throughout NEP’. [6] Marot describes you as offering little evidence for the case you make that the workers had largely been tamed by the late NEP. The productivity drives under the NEP which represented the cutting edge of Stalinism got nowhere against the continuing power of the workers in a workers’ state, even though this was, in Lenin’s phrase, ‘bureaucratically deformed’. How do you respond to these criticisms?

The tendency to privilege production over workers’ needs was most definitely apparent before 1929 and is described in detail in chapters 3 through 5. If workers’ strength at the factory level had retained their vitality as John Marot claims then how did factory management successfully cut real wages, curtail the power of the factory committee on hiring, job classification and grievance issues, shut down the women’s section, and silence political oppositionists? I wish John were correct, that workers’ organisations were stronger when Stalinism decided to put the boot in, because then there would have been much more resistance in 1928 and then during the more dramatic offensive against the working class launched with the First Five-Year Plan. Again the outcome was not preordained at all but the regime’s more aggressive assault on workers after 1928 reflected the new rulers’ confidence that they had the upper hand in the class conflict. I believe this assessment was correct.

Having said that, I think that John and Mike Haynes are correct to imply that I should have included a much more emphatic statement about the nature of the regime. Despite all this backsliding during late NEP there was an element of workers’ power, even as late as 1928, and it was still a system very different from capitalism, because political considerations rather than competition were paramount in production. Lenin’s formulation of a ‘workers’ state with bureaucratic deformations in a peasant country’ is quite apropos, but the trajectory was away from this by late NEP. The tenuous thread with October was cut with the First Five Year Plan. When Stalin eulogised Peter the Great for building factories and mills and then talked about catching up with the West in ten years, he was doing so as ruler of a new class that saw itself in competition with the West, not as a participant in a workers’ state.

I would like to take up your point about the nature of the NEP regime. During the Cold War it was vital to stress that the Soviet regime degenerated during the 1920s to a point at which it no longer had anything in common with socialism. This was because the illusion that the Soviet Union was better than the West was a widespread weakness on the left. Now the extinct Soviet Union is being held up as an example of how any alternative to global capitalism is bound to be even worse. In this situation, I think we can stress the positive achievements workers were able to make during the NEP, even though they were achievements against the stream in a regime which was a shadow of its 1917 self. If the women in Hammer & Sickle could win a kindergarten in 1922, think what they would have been able to achieve had not civil war and isolation knocked the guts out of the Soviet state! Does that fit with your view of the NEP?

I think that you are correct to suggest that the positive aspects of early NEP society would have been more substantial and apparent had it not been for the Western-backed military campaign against the Soviet regime. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t many honest historians working the field today like W. Bruce Lincoln, who not only became internationally known but also wrote a serious and readable account of the Russian Civil War. [7] Lincoln does write about the massive Western military aid to the White armies and explains how this support helped drag the Civil War on. I’m sure if he was still alive that a revision of his book on the Civil War would have included David Fogelsong’s findings on the secret US funding to the Whites. [8] The unseemly aspect of the complaint by American historians that the early Soviet regime does not stand up to their lofty standards is that they are conspicuously silent on the issue of US war crimes against the first workers’ government in history.

The history of the NEP has yet to be written but it won’t be written by American academics because their mission is to discredit the Revolution. I tried to let workers’ own sentiments illustrate their hopes for a society that had emerged after being pushed to the brink by Western imperialism. The most exciting aspect of NEP for me was the women’s section meetings and the general level of working women’s activism. I remember telling a comrade when I returned from working in the Moscow archives that although there were some positive moments, overall the women’s work was not that impressive, and that I dreaded writing about it. But when I started organising my notes scattered about in some 30 notebooks, the contours started to emerge: fantastic work during early NEP in which women participated en masse, middling activity during mid-NEP and simply awful problems during late NEP. I started poking around for information on this early NEP proletarian women’s movement and could find nothing – it has been completely written out of history.

I’d like to take credit for other finds but the truth is that the story was simply there to be told. I wanted to bring workers’ own experiences and hopes to life because their desire for an egalitarian socialist society based on need rather than profit is more relevant than ever. The future history of the Russian Revolution will be ours because we don’t have to selectively include or omit evidence to write its history. We cannot concede the Russian Revolution to the anti-Communists.

In his review of your book Mike Haynes wrote that it would be unpopular in academic circles because it was such a serious challenge to the orthodoxy which stresses the continuity between 1917 and Stalinism – and because of its uniquely strong basis in archive sources. [9] Incidentally, I find it ironic that the same people who stress the continuity between 1917 and Stalinism, although the two were divided by a complete transformation of society and the state, also argue that there was a fundamental discontinuity between the Soviet Union and successor nations like the Russian Federation even though their social structures and ruling classes are almost exactly the same, change being largely confined to what Alex Callinicos has called the ‘political regime’. [10] Be that as it may, you make the point in your introduction to the book that the opening of the archives of the former Soviet Union has made possible much more of a ‘history from below’ approach. But you add that yours is the first such history to appear. You also make the point that the results of the belated turn to postmodernism in Soviet labour studies have largely been unsatisfactory when it comes to the big questions of interpretation. The study of the history of this period in the West was dominated by Cold Warriors for over 40 years. What is its current state?

Given the politically charged implications of the Russian Revolution, contemporary politics has always been the most important factor shaping its historiography, although the academy lags behind by a decade or more because of its innate lethargy. The social historians of the 1970s, influenced by the 1960s radicalisation, effectively dislodged the CIA-trained historians. [11] This generation of scholars came of age at the precise moment the Soviet Union was collapsing. Peter Kenez’s 1991 review of Richard Pipes’ The Russian Revolution [12] is a good example of the enormous gulf between their mostly liberal politics and that of the arch-conservative Pipes. Kenez takes Pipes to task for ignoring the best social history on the revolution, including Rabinowitch, and for his many absurd assertions, most ludicrously in his arguments that the Red Terror was worse than the White Terror and that the Bolsheviks willfully unleashed the Civil War.

Over the past 15 years the historiography has shifted to the right – not because the conservatives in the field have reasserted themselves, but because of the political and moral collapse of American liberalism. US historians still dominate the field because academic institutions there have the most money for research. Obviously the stakes are still considered quite high and Americans want to set the parameters of the discussion. The findings of best social historians like Rabinowitch have to be evaded or written out – you simply can’t talk about Bolsheviks and democracy in the same sentence today. For example, Peter Holquist, in his book on the Don Cossacks, asserts many of the same arguments as Pipes with no more evidence. [13] He asserts many of the same arguments as Pipes with no more evidence – that the Red Terror was much worse than the White Terror, that it was a regular and calculated part of the Bolshevik programme, that the Bolsheviks engaged in policy of ‘De-Cossackisation’, and so on. Yet if you look at his evidence it is astounding how little Holquist presents in support of these wild assertions. To make his prosecutorial case he must rely on pure speculation, asserting completely inflated numbers on Red Terror victims, claiming that a Bolshevik call for terror against wealthy Cossacks was really aimed at all Cossacks, and disingenuously splicing a quote from Trotsky that is actually an appeal to the poorer Cossacks. You also won’t find any mention that the US secretly funded Cossack terror in an attempt to set up a military dictatorship. This is extremely shoddy scholarship, really pathetic stuff. But what is truly astounding is that the senior historians applauding Holquist are not conservatives but liberals (even if they are ashamed to describe themselves as such): William Rosenberg, Daniel Orlovsky, and Donald Raleigh.

The end of the Soviet Union accelerated this shift to the right. It caused liberals like Kenez to accept that any attempt to build and maintain a modern society based on the principles of 1917 was impossible. Such comments were widespread a decade ago but they say much more about the confidence and arrogance of American politics in the wake of the Cold War victory than they do about the Russian Revolution. The post-Soviet economic catastrophe and the Iraq occupation have started to erode some of this thinking about the wonders of modern capitalism.

The other negative influence has been postmodernism, which struck a particularly strong chord in the field of Russian history. If you look at the scholarly debates in the late 1980s and early 1990s they were quite nasty – revisionists calling the older generation Cold Warriors, while the revisionists were denigrated as apologists for Stalinism. Postmodernism gave apolitical historians a safe haven from all this mud slinging while also providing a veneer of sophistication for investigating the most obscure topics imaginable under the rubric of ‘cultural history’. It was particularly attractive to scholars with no interest in the larger interpretive issues of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet system. Yet, as I tried to show in the chapter on everyday life, cultural policies did not take place in a vacuum: they were inextricably linked to changes in Soviet society.

Even with all these problems, there have been a few very positive developments, particularly in the study of nationalities within early Soviet society. Terry Martin’s fabulous book which describes the Soviet Union before Stalin took over as an ‘affirmative action empire’, was one of a number of books in the first post-Soviet decade which revealed the extent of Bolshevik support for the non-Russian nationalities during the 1920s. Typically, however, Martin failed to see this as part of the growing evidence against the establishment case that ‘Lenin led to Stalin’. [14] There are also signs of new life in research on the Soviet working class. Donald Filtzer’s book on Soviet workers after the war is superb [15], and thanks to Don, Simon, Wendy Goldman, and Gijs Kessler and the Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, there is now a bi-annual conference on Russian and Soviet workers.

What does winning the Deutscher prize for the outstanding Marxist book of 2005 mean?

This is obviously a great honour for me, but also a vindication of the very foundations of the tradition pioneered against colossal odds by Cliff and embodied in the International Socialist Tendency (the international grouping of socialist organisations to which the Socialist Workers’ Party belongs). The worst fear for a historian is that your work is all for naught, that the book will be just another dust collector, sitting on the shelves of university libraries. Most Russian history books published these days are dust collectors and, quite frankly, they probably should be. Given that my work takes issue with the prevailing historiography I do not expect a positive academic response, but as I mentioned earlier – this milieu is not my intended audience. The Deutscher Memorial Prize will hopefully give the book a much wider audience among those thousands of activists who are starting questioning the system.


1. Kevin J. Murphy, Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory (New York NY: Berghahn Books, 2005).

2. Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution (London: Pluto Press, 1997): Tony Cliff, Building the Party: Lenin 1893–914 (London: Bookmarks, 1986), and All Power to the Soviets: Lenin 1914–1917 (London: Bookmarks, 1985) – these are the latest editions but all are out of print.

3. S.A. Smith, Red Petrograd: Revolution in the Factories, 1917–1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Alexander Rabinowitch, The Bolsheviks Come to Power: the Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (London: Pluto Press, 2004).

4. Simon Pirani, Mass mobilization versus mass participation: the Bolsheviks and the Moscow workers 1921–22 Paper presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Slavonic Studies, December 2004, pp. 1, 16.

5. Diane Koenker, Republic of Labor: Russian Printers and Soviet Socialism, 1918–1930 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005).

6. John Eric Marot, The Rise and Fall of the October Revolution, New Politics, Summer 2005, p. 177.

7. W. Bruce Lincoln, Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War, 1918–1921 (Da Capo, 1999).

8. W. Bruce Lincoln, Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War, 1918–1921 (Da Capo, 1999); David Fogelsong, America’s Secret War Against Bolshevism: U.S. Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1917–1920 (University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

9. Mike Haynes, Rediscovering the revolution, International Socialism 2 : 107, Summer 2005, pp. 178–180.

10. Alex Callinicos, The Revenge of History: Marxism and the East European Revolutions (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992), pp. 50–66. See also the illuminating discussion in Colin Sparks with Anna Reading, Communism, Capitalism and the Mass Media (London: Sage Publications, 1998), pp. 80–106.

11. See my review of Rabinowitch’s The Bolsheviks Come to Power on H-Russia,

12. Peter Kenez, The Prosecution of Soviet History: A Critique of Richard Pipes’ The Russian Revolution, The Russian Review, 50 (1991), pp. 345–352.

13. Peter Holquist, Making War, Forging Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).

14. Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923–1939 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001). See also Dave Crouch, The seeds of national liberation, International Socialism 2 : 94, Spring 2002.

15. Donald Filtzer, Soviet Workers and Late Stalinism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

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