Russian Studies Two-Pack
Winston Churchill once observed, the further back you go, the farther forward you can see. We know little of Russia and its history beyond bears, Siberian winters, the Kremlin and Doctor Zhivago. The United States emerged victorious at end of the Cold War. An era of cooperation was to be ushered in. What should have been an opportunity to create a structure for peace and stability did not happen. Instead of an inclusive security system the U.S.-led NATO military alliance expanded to the east. Hardliners in Washington goaded by the military-industrial complex, seeking more profits from weapons sales, have vilified and demonized Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. The media followed in lock step. A reheated Cold War with a new arms race and the catastrophic dangers of hot war are the last things that humanity and the planet need. Interview by David Barsamian.
The upheaval and regime change in Russia in 1917 “shook the world” in the words of journalist John Reed. In place of the feudal czarist monarchy came radical revolutionaries. A civil war ensued pitting former regime elements against the communists. In addition, a number of countries, including the U.S., Britain and France didn’t like what they saw and heard from Lenin, Trotsky and the other Bolshevik leaders. They invaded Russia in an attempt to destroy the revolution and bring back the old order. Churchill said the Russian Revolution must be “strangled in its cradle.” They didn’t succeed. A few years after Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin takes over the country. His rivals are sent into exile, jailed or killed. The dictatorship calcifies. In 1991 the Soviet Union ends. The centenary of the revolution has sparked renewed interest in its history.
Stephen Cohen, regarded as one of the foremost experts on Russia, was professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at NYU and Princeton. He was a Nation contributing editor and author of many books including The Victims Return, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives and War with Russia? He died in 2020.
Todd Chretien is a member of the International Socialist Organization and is a frequent contributor to Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review. He is the editor of Eyewitnesses to the Russian Revolution.