Menshevik (Mis?)interpretations of the Russian Revolution

Saturday 21 January 2017, 2.00 p.m.
Marx House, 37a Clerkenwell Green,
London EC1 Nearest tube: Farringdon

Speaker: Francis King
Editor of Socialist History, lecturer in modern European history at East Anglia, and translator of Fedor Dan’s memoir.

Across the Russian empire, the fall of Tsar Nicholas in March 1917 suddenly thrust revolutionaries and socialists into positions of power and influence. For many years before, they had worked, organised and planned for this revolution. Now the time had come to put their perspectives and programmes to the test. Working in soviets, state bodies and committees across Russia in the first six months of the revolution, the social-democrats (Mensheviks) tried to shape events in line with how they supposed the revolution must develop – towards ‘freedom’ and a parliamentary republic. Their failure allowed their rivals in the workers’ movement, the Bolsheviks, to take power in October 1917 in the name of the soviets and proclaim a socialist revolution. This talk looks at Menshevik attempts to make sense of realities which proved hard to square with theories. It marks the publication for the first time in English of Menshevik leader Fedor Dan’s memoir of the civil war period, Two Years of Wandering. The book recounts Dan’s experiences in civil war Russia, gives his observations on life and conditions, and attempts to make sense of what was going on at that time.

All welcome. Entry free, retiring collection.