[Marxism] Re: Brenner's response (the Bolsheviks and the peasantry)

Bill Hutton wsh291 at bellsouth.net
Fri Dec 3 12:03:53 MST 2004

Fred Feldman wrote:

"(By the way, I know I should ask this offlist, but is Bill Hutton the
Bill Hutton I knew in the Oakland-Berkeley branch from 1970-72?)"

Bill Hutton:  Yes.  One and the same.


The workers vs. peasant thing was deadly for the revolution
from the beginning. That begins (I now suspect) with the assumption that
you could not overturn capitalist property relations in industry without a civil war
in the peasantry -- an ideological presupposition which Lenin and
Trotsky both held.  But what is the evidence aside from the split of the
Left SRs that it was true?


Roy Medvedev in his book "The October Revolution" argues that if the Bolsheviks had initiated the NEP or something like it in 1918 the peasantry would not have risen against the Bolsheviks and the counter-revolution would have remained marginalized.  Also the revolution had more resources in 1918 than in 1921.  Also Alexei Tolstoy in his novel "1918" describes the villages rising in the rear of the Red Army and throwing out the Poor Peasant Committees and the Bolsheviks.  The split with the Left SR's which Medvedev says represented the majority of the peasants didn't occur until after the "Poor Peasant" "Take the class struggle to the countryside" orientation of the Bolsheviks.  The Left SR's left the Supreme Council of Commissars after the Brest-Litovsk treaty, but remained in the Soviets until the Poor Peasant committees.

Re-reading the history of the Russian Revolution has made me think more about the rural issue in the US.  Russia had about 20% of its population in the cities and the split with the peasantry led to famine conditions in the cities.  In the US the urban population in 80%.  Any revolutionary organization here should have a well thought out approach to worker/farmer alliances.

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