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The "Liberal School"


A liberal 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 Russias painfully slow evolution towards constitutional democracy. 

1917 Insurrection. By E. Kibrik

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.

Liberal 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.

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