It has been a while since I wrote more for my essay for the upcoming project with historic.ly. The team has been churning out content and I am so very happy they are so good at what they do. While I certainly wish I had been more active I am committed to putting in the best possible essay for the final product. However, our patrons and our team deserve an update.
First of all, I would like to talk a bit about my own personal thoughts and interpretations of what I have learned. The actual essay will stick as tightly as possible to what I believe are as close to objective fact as possible. But if there is one thing I have learned about reading more history, it is that history is only a brief window into a dark and vast network of unexplored territory. We can only do our best to figure out history but considering how much we don’t know, it is important to understand that we are all children of history.
The complex relationships between the major powers during the time of the Russian revolution was something that means that any neat narrative quickly falls apart. The idea of statecraft as chess game is unfortunate and I dislike the metaphor as a chess player, but it is apt. The relationships between the British empire, Germany, the Soviet Union, and even Japan are all things that are taken into consideration. It is also important to recognize that the real threat of societal upheaval was only possible because of the strength of the Soviet Union and the endurance of certain ideas. Often we are told we need to invade countries to protect a certain way of life these days but it wasn’t as easy back then. There was a real threat of retaliation. Also the British Empire was a factor. Japan was seen as another threat and Germany was just as much a perceived threat as the Soviet Union. In fact, Germany and the Soviet Union have quite the history of despising each other. Geography is everything and the vast majority of hostilities were on the European continent. The first Great war was crippling for the continent and would, for a long time, make most of Europe cautious about imperialism. There was also a great cultural divide between the British and the Germans. Both considered the other alien and untrustworthy. The United States, would, during this time show a remarkable ability to intervene in a variety of ways in order to manage public perception while sticking to the moral codes the men in power had. It is so important to understand that order is always more important to the powerful than true democracy or being perceived favorably. Wilson would try economic aid through various shell groups including the French embassies and British embassies. They even used their own embassy in the Soviet Union to promote the anti-Bolsheviks. It is also super important to recognize that in the Soviet Union, there wasn’t just two sides in a neat dichotomy. Most other countries have various political parties and the Soviet Union was no different. The Bolsheviks often did horrible things due to outside attempts at intervention from Western powers.
My own personal feelings about the war are very mixed. It is difficult to judge past leaders by modern morality and the world is also very different. However, I will say that I wish that we hadn’t intervened at all. The threat of alternatives to capitalism were, in many ways very real. The revolutionaries were sometimes very cruel and did horrible things. But they didn’t do it in a vacuum. Any time there is a possible alternative we see the western powers attempt to thwart it at every turn. The industrialization used by the Soviet Union to rapidly modernize was very cruel and squeezed in technological and economic development in a narrower length of the time than capitalism had done. Because of how rapid it was it caused more suffering and death in that time period. But one must remember that from day one, the West would attempt to thwart it at every turn. The West, whom had already done the process and would not tolerate another system. Capitalism, during its development only had city states, and feudal economies to deal with. The speed of growth of capitalism, and the strength of the British navy, helped prevent the development from being hindered. The rest of the Europe had to adapt to capitalism. The world doesn’t stand still.