counterorthodoxy to the Bolshevik interpretation became
established thanks mainly to the efforts of Russian émigré
writers and scholars who fled abroad to escape the Revolution.
Most of them, naturally, bore a grudge against the Soviet regime
both for personal and political reasons. They argued that the
imperial Russia was steadily transforming itself into a modern,
democratic, industrial society until weakened by the Great War
and subverted by the Bolsheviks. They saw the October coup as a
rather unfortunate reversal of what was presumed to be Russia’s
painfully slow evolution towards constitutional democracy.
This line of
argument gave rise to the emergence of the liberal school of
historians, who concentrated their studies on the activities of
leading individuals, such as Nicholas II, Kerensky and Lenin, or
principal groupings, such as the Fourth Duma, the Petrograd Soviet,
the Provisional Government, the Bolshevik Central Committee.
analysts reject the determinist view of the Russian Revolution.
Instead, they are inclined to see the Bolshevik coup as a result of
circumstances, when the weak Provisional Government, the victim of
its own errors, was overthrown by the ruthless, cold-blooded
determination of a small group of criminal conspirators. The October
coup was a reckless but successful gamble by Lenin and his
Bolsheviks who were carried to power by a wave of anarchy which they
exploited cynically, without any moral scruples.