Sunday, November 11, 2007

Revolution and "Revision" in History

The other day I heard an outrageously biased piece on NPR about the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. I wrote the following in response.

Dear people,

I am dismayed by your highly ideological piece on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

It started with the assertion that this event "led to" a dictatorship that killed millions of people. Who decides what leads to what? This is a matter of interpretation, not fact.

For instance, one might just as easily say that the Great French Revolution "led to" the Napoleonic dictatorship and wars of conquest. Yet, because it's politically fashionable to condemn the ideology of socialism and not that of democratic republicanism, people don't generally do this.

On the other hand, the greatest period of political and cultural experimentation in Russia's history to date was during the early years of the Soviet republic. Yet, because this doesn't support the dominant ideological narrative, one rarely hears it mentioned.

A different ideological narrative might say that the Bolshevik Revolution was followed several years later by a Stalinist counterrevolution, which was in many ways supported and rewarded by Western powers and their spokespeople. For instance, the New York Times editorialized in favor of Stalin over Trotsky, and FDR followed up by normalizing diplomatic relations with Stalin's regime.

Sincerely,
Eric Hamell

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