Russia's Iron Age

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Read Books, Mar 1, 2007 - History - 552 pages
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RUSSIA SINCE 1917 Frederick L. Schuman WOODROW WILSON PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, WILLIAMS COLLEGE RUSSIA SINCE 1917 Four Decades of Soviet Politics MAPS BY GEORGE D. BRODSKY NEW YORK ALFRED A KNOPF 19 57 To the memory of my parents AUGUST SCHUA1AN September 13, 1871-April 21, 1917 from whom I learned much about Marxism AND ELLA SCHULZK SCHUMAN December 4, 1878-July 9, 1956 - from whom I learned more about the human condition v Preface WHEN GEN. NATHAN F. TWINING, Chief of Staff of the USAF, returned from the Soviet Union on July 4, 1956, he was quoted as saying Nobody is an expert on Russia. There are just varying degrees of ignorance. A similar com ment was made by British journalist Paul Winterton during World War II, when the course and outcome of the savage combat across the steppes confounded most Western experts. If wisdom regarding Russia were proportionate to the stagger ing number of books, monographs, and articles on Soviet affairs pub lished since 1917 in English, French, and German, all literate citizens and statesmen throughout the Atlantic communities would be wise indeed. All seekers after truth are deeply indebted to these many laborers in the vineyards of Russian studies. Without their toil no such task as is here attempted could be contemplated. Yet darkness and fear have not been dispelled by these millions of printed pages. Few are available to the peoples of the USSR. Even the Lenin State Library in Moscow, claiming to house the largest collection of books in the world, contains almost no works in any language by writers who are hostile toward, or critical of, or objective about, the Soviet way of life. The gigantic output of the Soviet publishing business, cateringto a domestic market which is insatiable, is far more readily available to Western scholars, particu larly to readers of Russian with much accessible in translation for those to whom the Cyrillic alphabet, the Slavic root-words, and the two aspects of the verb are impenetrable mysteries. This literature, however, answers only a few of the questions about Russia in which Western peoples are most interested. When reality is projected through the lenses of dogma, truth is seen only through a glass darkly. Many Western efforts to explain Russia display similar viii Preface distortions, with more heat than light generated in the processes of refraction and reflection. The sheer volume of publications about Russia obliges anyone who adds to the mass to try, as best he can, to justify his conduct. What new truths are here revealed What claims, if any, to exper tise can the perpetrator of these pages plausibly put forward Such queries are better answered by readers and by critics than by au thors. One mans view of the problem may yet be worth setting down. From time to time, it seems to me, some semblance of insight into the Marxist Muscovy of the 20th Century can best be attained by trying to see beyond specialized studies of particular aspects of Soviet experience and to transcend the polemics of Marxism, Lenin ism, and Stalinism and of anti-Marxism, anti-Leninism, and anti-Stalinism. The rarefied atmosphere at the summit of an intellectual Mount Kazbek may, to be sure, induce dizziness rather than clarity of vision. But if the searcher in Sovietland will keep his eyes on people as well as on programs, on the imposing spatial dimensions of his subject along with the color of localities, andon the equally imposing temporal dimensions of a society which has endured through many vicissitudes for more than a thousand years, ho may be able to arrive at a synoptic view, at a new synthesis, and at an illuminating reinterpretation of this incomparably dramatic and dynamic chapter of the human adventure. Such, at any rate, is the purpose of this book, as it was of rny earlier book, Soviet Politics at Home and Abroad, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1946 and by Iwanami Shoten of Tokyo in a Japa nese translation in 1956...

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