D H
Feb 24 · Last update 6 mo. ago.

Did the Red Terror destroy the Russian Revolution?

The Red Terror was a brutal period of political repression and mass murder carried out by the Bolsheviks’ secret police (the Cheka) and Red Guard against counter-revolutionaries during the Russian Civil War. Estimates of the death toll vary wildly, as around 28,000 were killed annually between 1917 and 1922, anywhere from 100,000 to 1,300,000 million in total. The Red Terror was the beginning of many acts of political repression that continued in Russia throughout the 20th century coming to a crescendo under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. This practice of state terror and political repression arguably led the communist revolution away from the establishment of a socialist democratic state led by soviets (workers coalitions) to one of oppressive state authoritarianism. Did this period of political violence destroy any hopes for democracy in Russia? Did the Red Terror destroy the Russian Revolution?
Stats of Viewpoints
No, an oversimplification
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Yes, a pattern for communist revolutions
0 agrees
0 disagrees
No, it was one side of a brutal civil war
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Yes – set the stage for Stalin’s bloody reign
0 agrees
0 disagrees
Viewpoints
Add New Viewpoint

No, an oversimplification

The Russian Revolution succeeded; it ended the monarchy, the Russian participation in the First World War, and established a short-lived Russian republic, quickly followed by the Soviet republic after the Civil War and the subsequent establishment of the Soviet Union. However to really answer this question it's useful to ask what the aim of the Russian Revolution was; to establish a federal government and reorganise the former empire into the first socialist state, and to practice soviet democracy on a national and then international level. Much of this was actually achieved, although a transition away from an effective democratic system began in 1921, with the ban on factionalism by the Russian Communist Party under Vladimir Lenin.

In 1920 Lenin had become concerned with opposition groups within the Communist Party and a possible deviation towards syndicalism and anarchism. However this ban on factionalism led to Stalin's consolidation of power and ultimate usurpation of any meaningful democracy, democratic procedures became an empty formality and power progressively rested in the hands of party officials and the politburo. Therefore the Russian Revolution failed when it failed to be actually be run by the Soviet democracy, and is not directly linked to the Red Terror in this way, which was more accurately explained itself by the influence of the French Revolution on the Bolsheviks. Other modern nations have been based on just as much bloodshed as the Red Terror and have lasted, the Soviet Union eventually fell apart as it was steered away from democracy and became as paranoid hollowed out system decaying from the inside.

marxist.com/russia-rev-to-counterrev-part-one.htm coursehero.com/file/p6benbs/Lenins-Levy-and-the-ban-on-factionalism-Stalin-was-able-to-secure-his-rise-to murrieta.k12.ca.us/cms/lib5/CA01000508/Centricity/Domain/1814/struggle%20for%20power.pdf

Agree
Disagree
Latest conversation
D H
Apr 6
Approved
DH edited this paragraph
https://www.marxist.com/russia-rev-to-counterrev-part-one.htm https://www.coursehero.com/file/p6benbs/Lenins-Levy-and-the-ban-on-factionalism-Stalin-was-able-to-secure-his-rise-to/ https://www.murrieta.k12.ca.us/cms/lib5/CA01000508/Centricity/Domain/1814/struggle%20for%20power.pdf

Yes, a pattern for communist revolutions

Communist revolutions have all been doomed to failure no matter where they have taken place in the world, all have ended in widespread violence similar to the Red Terror, and resulted in continued state violence and repression. But the Red Terror in particular, just as it was inspired by the French Revolution, inspired a number of other communist terror campaigns across the world, wherever communism begun to take root. Examples of mass murder campaigns that are comparable to the Red Terror have been noted in Hungary, the Spanish Civil War, the Greek Civil War, in Ethiopia, in China, and even as recent as 2007 in Nandigram, West Bengal. So yes, while the Red Terror contributed to the establishment of a violent dictatorial state it did undermine the utopianism of the Russian Revolution. But at the same time the answer is no, the Red Terror was also just a symptom of communism, not the reason for its falling.

self.gutenberg.org/articles/Red_Terror libertarianinvestments.com/2018/03/02/communism-socialism-produce-violence thefederalist.com/2017/11/08/final-3-phases-slide-freedom-communism theguardian.com/world/2007/nov/12/india.randeepramesh

Agree
Disagree
Latest conversation
D H
Apr 6
Approved
DH edited this paragraph
Communist revolutions have all been doomed to failure no matter where they have taken place in the world, all have ended in widespread violence similar to the Red Terror, and resulted in continued state violence and repression. But the Red Terror in particular, just as it was inspired by the French Revolution, inspired a number of other communist terror campaigns across the world, wherever communism begun to take root. Examples of mass murder campaigns that are comparable to the Red Terror have been noted in Hungary, the Spanish Civil War, the Greek Civil War, in Ethiopia, in China, and even as recent as 2007 in Nandigram, West Bengal. So yes, while the Red Terror contributed to the establishment of a violent dictatorial state it did undermine the utopianism of the Russian Revolution. But at the same time the answer is no, the Red Terror was also just a symptom of communism, not the reason for its falling.

No, it was one side of a brutal civil war

No, the Red Terror did not destroy the Russian Revolution, it was just one side of a brutal civil war and probably comparable to the counter massacre of the White Terror, carried out by the White Guard and anti-Soviet governments against Bolsheviks and the Red Army. Around 2 million soldiers lost their lives in the Russian Civil War, while a Typhus epidemic and famine took the lives of a further 9 million civilians, both the White Terror and Red Terror were minor in comparison to civilian loss of life in this tragic period. But the Tsar regime was equally as repressive as the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, but rather than the classic top down model of violence historians are beginning to take a more nuanced view. In addition to state-sanctioned terror many local squabbles and conflicts overlapped from the bottom up, spiralling into often indiscriminate violent outbursts of grassroots terror, and while the Red Army gradually gained a monopoly over this violence it was utilised by both sides throughout the Civil War.

marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1920/terrcomm/ch04.htm en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Terror_(Russia) publications.hse.ru/mirror/pubs/share/folder/n6znhhtdy1/direct/146718449.pdf

Agree
Disagree
Latest conversation
D H
Apr 6
Created

Yes – set the stage for Stalin’s bloody reign

The Red Terror set the stage for Stalin’s bloody reign in the successor state of the Soviet Union, in this way any hope for the flowering of democracy during the February Revolution was destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. These hopes were put further out of reach by atrocities such as the Red Terror during the Russian Civil War, which set a precedent for violent repression that continued through the Soviet Union and the reign of Joseph Stalin. Under Stalin the Soviets established concentration camps known as Gulags and carried out the largest mass repression of history, imprisoning tens of millions of Russians from 1929 to 1953.

The Red Terror established a political reality that could only generate further atmospheres of paranoia that reached a bloody climax under Stalin, but the Bolsheviks were already targeting other socialist factions during the reign of terror, anyone that strayed from their prescription of Russia's political future. In much the same way as Stalin the Bolsheviks were simply vying for power, not a truly democratic, socialist, or worker-led state. Even leading Marxist theorists of the time criticised the terrorism of the Bolsheviks, as well as other similar bloody revolutions. Karl Kautsky blamed terrorist tactics such as the Red Terror for destroying meaningful change during revolutions, deviating from the common association that revolution always ends in violence, Kautsky criticised the Bolsheviks for turning aside from their true socialist path.

nationalgeographic.com/history/article/red-terror-set-macabre-course-soviet-union warwick.ac.uk/services/library/mrc/archives_online/digital/russia/opposition time.com/5386789/red-terror-soviet-history marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1920/terrcomm/ch04.htm

Agree
Disagree
Latest conversation
D H
Feb 24
Created
Translate