The Russian Revolution Was Russian, Not Jewish

“R” asks Walter Block “Was the Russian Revolution Russian, or was it Jewish?”

There were three revolutions in the early 20th century, in 1905, in February of 1917 and in October-November (depending on calendar) of 1917. The 1905 revolution had a broad Russian base, not specifically identified as Jewish. The 1917 revolutions also had a broad base: “Corruption and inefficiency were widespread in the imperial government, and ethnic minorities were eager to escape Russian domination. Peasants, workers, and soldiers finally rose up after the enormous and largely pointless slaughter of World War I destroyed Russia’s economy as well as its prestige as a European power.”

A revolution is in some ways defined by broad participation, impact, acceptance, radical change, motivation and spirit. Otherwise it’s a coup or something less like a rebellion or an insurrection.

If some minority group is present out of proportion to their numbers in the population, such as Deists in the American Revolution, this doesn’t make it a Deist Revolution. Jews have participated in various movements, sometimes in numbers more than their percentages in the population, such as the American civil rights movement as Freedom Riders. Nonetheless, the movement was an African-American movement in the sense of broadness, impact, motivation and spirit.

In the same ways, there is no doubt at all that the Russian revolutions were Russian, involving and affecting Russians broadly, changing Russian government, and supported by Russians broadly. There is also no doubt that Jewish leaders participated in various capacities and likely out of proportion to their numbers as a minority in Russia. The participation doesn’t mean that these revolutions were “Jewish”.

For one appraisal of the Jewish role within the Russian situation in quite a lot of complexity, see this article.

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9:36 am on March 11, 2019