The Russian revolution in 1917 promised freedom, yet the revolution as a form of collective political action removed restraints on the exercise of power, and prepared the way for a greater despotism. The Bolshevik regime operated within the parameters of a revolutionary socialist ideology with a very strong Enlightenment perspective of progress, deculturation and denationalisation. Walicki has convincingly argued that the Bolshevik revolution remained remarkably loyal to the basic Marxist vision of the destruction of commodity production . Even Stalin in his own way was guided by his interpretation of the Marxist classics and did not simply use ideology as a philosophical camouflage to disguise his undoubted striving to gain and maintain power . In the end the USSR represented a transient challenge. We now know that Bolshevik practices largely vitiated any ‘progress’ that may have been achieved, not only in the sense that the price in human lives and suffering was enormous, but that the very structures that the Bolsheviks built, in the economy, society and the polity, proved unsustainable. The Bolshevik regime solved none of the most urgent tasks facing Russia — not the national question, economic development or political coherence.
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