Staunton, January 2 – This year marks the 100th anniversary of the moment when it appeared that the Russian Empire was going to disappear from the map of the world forever, Sergey Shelin says. Most of its periphery was in the hands of people who were actively seeking independence and even enjoyed the support of the international community.
But only two and a half years later, Lenin and the Bolsheviks from their tiny fiefdom in central Asia were able to recover almost everything that they appeared to have lost. And that raises two important questions, the Rosbalt commentator says. Why were they able to do so, and why is present day Russia not? (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/01/01/1670225.html).
The reasons are many and varied, he suggests, but the core one is this: the Bolsheviks did not proclaim that their goal was the restoration of the past while their opponents, the Whites, openly proclaimed it – a pattern that should be a lesson to those in Moscow today who are openly pursuing a revanchist policy toward the former Soviet republics.
“If the Bolsheviks had openly or even secretly set themselves the task of restoring the old empire, nothing would have come of it,” Shelin says. But they didn’t, instead proclaiming that they wanted to spread their revolution are far as possible and without regard to the former borders of the Russian Empire.
They were fortunate that the forces arrayed against them weren’t prepared to give up on the imperial idea or the social system it was based upon until as with the case of Baron Wrangel it was far too late to achieve anything. And they were fortunate that they proclaimed the USSR “a union of sovereign states” and thus created a bulwark against the anti-empire forces.
“Of course, this was only on paper,” but words matter and the Bolshevik’s decision not to mention the word empire in the name of their new country meant that they would not be challenged by those who felt themselves the subjects of it – at least not in a fatal way and immediately.
This logic worked for two or three generations, Shelin continues. But then it too collapsed, leading to the disintegration of “all socialist federations, not only the Soviet Union but also Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. And this time to an irreversible situation because Moscow does not have or ever will have unifying ideas of the power” of those the Bolsheviks did.
Again, that is something that today’s Russians who want to restore the empire should reflect upon before by seeking to extend the borders of their country they lose portions of it.