ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bolsheviks and Feminists

Marxist attempts at integrating gender in the class-struggle framework was uneven in the Russian revolutionary movement. A class reductionism often held back the Bolsheviks, but contests with the liberal feminists, as well as the objective reality of more women entering the labour force, led to changes. Women activists took the lead in this. The Revolution of 1917 saw a much greater degree of women’s involvement. Women workers provided leadership in the early stages of the February Revolution, though it often remains unacknowledged by mainstream (including mainstream left) historiography of the revolution. At the same time, gendering the practice of class went hand in hand with a sharp rise in class issues against undifferentiated feminism, for liberal feminism supported the war and the bourgeois Provisional Government.

The Thucydides of the Russian Revolution

Leon Trotsky’s The History of the Russian Revolution (1930) remains the best detailed introduction to the revolution, its social complexities, its narrative, and its class dynamics. Embedded within the narrative of the three-volume tome is a contribution to the development of the tools of a materialist understanding of history and a number of theoretical and analytical issues. Importantly, Trotsky shows that only through crises and interactions between masses, cadres and leaders could the revolutionary process go forward. The ultimate success of the Russian Revolution however depended on a wider context—it had to be a part of a bigger international socialist revolution.
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