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Were Zinoviev and Kamenev right?

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Soviet cogitations: 3
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Mar 2018, 00:45
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Post 06 Apr 2018, 11:58
Ok so I'm fairly new to Soviet history so feel free to point out any errors I've made here.

After the February Revolution in 1917, it seems there was division in the Bolsheviks. While Trotsky was calling for permanent revolution, the more orthodox members of the party like Kamenev and Stalin were saying that it was too soon to push for a proletarian revolution - the bourgeois must have a chance to develop industry under capitalism before socialism was possible.

When Lenin came back to Russia, he abandoned this orthodox cautious view in favour of supporting Trotsky's view. Most of the Bolshevik party (including Stalin) seemed to now support him in this - apart from Zinoviev and Kamenev who stuck to their guns even going so far as to write articles telling people not to join the revolution in a Menshevik newspaper.

Although Lenin was outraged at their actions here, the more I read about the early Soviet Union, the more I think Zinoviev and Kamenev were right and Lenin was wrong. Lenin and Trotsky hoped that revolutions elsewhere in the world would make up for the backwardness of Russia but these were brutally stamped out. The civil war was brutal and required conscription of peasants and confiscation of their food for the army.

After the civil war, Russia was economically devastated and surrounded by hostile capitalist nations more industrially advanced than it. They had four options:
1. Try to encourage revolutions in these enemy countries
2. Introduce mass collectivisation to build up industry quickly
3. Stick with the NEP and hope that it's slow growth would develop industry before Russia's enemies invaded
4. Expand the NEP to allow for faster growth

All of these options were problematic. Option 1 was a bit of a gamble as nations were now recovering from the devastation of World War 1 and fascism had arisen as a way to absorb the disaffected working class - often supported by liberal governments who considered it the lesser threat than socialism. Attempting to stir up revolution in these nations may also have invited their wrath quicker.

Option 2 meant brutal enforcement, starvation and sowing discontent.

Option 3 relied on Russia's enemies leaving it be which seems unlikely.

Option 4 could be perceived as a betrayal of the October Revolution and would create a new exploitative class.

In the end after a power struggle between Trotsky, Stalin, Zinoviev and Bukharin, Stalin and Option 2 prevailed. I'm not going to argue that Stalin was a monstrous tyrant here - perhaps Option 2 was the best of a bad lot and perhaps Stalin's brutality and paranoia were the only ways to ensure the survival of the USSR. But his rule (no doubt exaggerated by anti-communist and perhaps Trotskyist and Khruschevite propaganda) certainly didn't do much to promote the appeal of socialism, thereby weakening the chances of world revolution.

The threat of socialism also saw two reactions to prevent it occurring - social democracy (to bribe the working class into supporting capitalism) and fascism (to blame scapegoats for capitalism's flaws). Had Russia not "jumped the gun" perhaps neither of these reactionary tactics would have surfaced and a world revolution - including within the bourgeois Russia that Zinoviev and Kamenev argued the Bolsheviks should have supported - might have occurred.
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