Russian participation in the Second International, 1889-1914
Nicoll, George Douglas
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The modern international socialist movement experienced its infancy and childhood in the form of the International Working Men's Association, or First International (1864- 1876). Its maturity seems to have been reached in the wake of the successful Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 with the founding of the Third International, or Comintern, and the expansion of Marxism-Leninism throughout the world under Soviet leadership. The period between these two phases, the adolescence of international socialism, was the period of the Second International (1889- 1914). During this period the socialist movement rose upon its earlier foundations and became a significant social and political force in almost every European nation. At the same time the Russian revolutionary socialist movement was growing within the tsarist empire and among its exiles. While Russian Socialists were developing the strength necessary to overthrow the tsarist regime, they also participated in the Second International. Since no systematic study has been made of the interrelationship between the Second International and the Russian Radicalism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this dissertation seeks to demonstrate the extent and nature of Russian participation in the Second International. This study reveals a certain degree of Russian independence from the main stream of European socialism. The Russians stood in opposition to reformism both in theory and in practice. This opposition was due, in part, to the particular state of Russian political and economic growth. As the Russians became aware of the reformist nature of the actions of their international comrades, they became critical of the activities of the Second International. In their response to the outbreak of World War I the Russians did not differ too greatly from other Socialists, but as the Russian socialist movement became increasingly dominated by the Bolsheviks, who stood clearly apart from the leaders of the International on the issue of the war, the independence of the Russians became apparent. These observations suggest that whenever the main stream of thought and action in the Second International ran counter to the basic interests and attitudes of Russian socialism, the Russians assumed a position independent of that mainstream. This independence explains, in part, the relative unimportance of the Russians as a Group in the Second International. It also suggests what the nature of the relationship of Russian socialism to the international socialist movement would be in the years following the Second International. Most Russian Socialists divorced themselves from any effort to revive the Second International and supported the Bolshevik-dominated Third International which was not a representative of international socialism but an instrument and protector of Russian communism. In the Second International the Russian participants assumed their most active role in the open discussions of the congresses and meetings only 2hen the issues directly affected them or were irrelevant to conditions in Russia. It is impossible to rank the contribution of the Russians as a national group, because aside from the Germans and the French, the important roles in the Second International were played by individuals. The primary sources used in this study include the available documents and records of the Second International. This means primarily the records of the congresses of the International, direct reports of the activities of the Second International and its participants, and the pertinent memoirs of its leading figures. The records of the International Socialist Bureau have been lost. Valuable secondary sources were the significant studies of international socialism, the Second International, cand the Russian revolutionary movement. Virtually all relevant material is available in the libraries of the United States.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
RightsBased on investigation of the BU Libraries' staff, this work is free of known copyright restrictions.