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Home Uncategorized The Russian Troika

The Russian Troika

Pádraig Murphy
Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890 to 1928, by SA Smith, Oxford University Press, 472 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0198734826 Historically Inevitable? Turning Points of the Russian Revolution, ed Tony Brenton, Profile Books, 384 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-1781250211 The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution, by Robert Service, Macmillan, 400 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-1447293095 The Soviet Tragedy: a History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991, Martin Malia, Free Press, 592 pp, €25.95, ISBN: 978-0684823133 To the Finland Station, by Edmund Wilson, first published in 1940; republished with a new introduction and revisions in 1972 Rus, are you not similar in your headlong motion to one of those nimble troikas that none can overtake? The flying road turns into smoke under you, bridges thunder and pass, all fall back and are left behind! … And what does this awesome motion mean? And what mysterious strength is in these steeds unknown to the world? Does the whirlwind find a home in your manes? … Rus, whither are you speeding? Answer me. No answer. The middle bell trills out in a dream its liquid soliloquy; the roaring air is torn to pieces and becomes wind; all things on earth fly by and other nations and states gaze askance as they step aside and give it the right of way. Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls Last year we marked our own significant centenary. The question of how to celebrate it appropriately was not a simple one. The appropriate interpretation of a complicated history was much discussed, and there were many strands of remembrance which had to be taken into account. This year marks the centenary of a world-historical event – the Russian Revolution of 1917 – which sparked off the spread of an ideology which came to provide the basis for regimes which not so long ago governed one-third of the human race. It thereby influenced world history profoundly and, in China, continues to influence it. In Russia itself it can also be seen, and often is seen, as a historical turn which derailed the country’s development for more than a century. Further, while twenty-five years ago it was almost received wisdom that Marxian socialism and the kind of regimes it inspired had been proved wrong by history and, so to speak, buried at the crossroads with a stake through the heart, it is not so clear today that this is the…



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