«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

FEBRUARY REVOLUTION: A VIEW THROUGH THE CENTURY

1881
FEBRUARY REVOLUTION: A VIEW THROUGH THE CENTURY
100 years ago there was the February bourgeois-democratic revolution. Exclusive interview about this to NDH portal gave a professor at the Institute of Russian History Dina Amanzholova

First reports about the victory of the February Revolution in Petrograd were obtained in Omsk - the heart of the Steppe Territory on March 1, 1917 and on March 3 the State Duma Executive Committee Message on the overthrow of the autocracy took telegraphists in Akmolinsk.

How and why there was a revolution, how today is positioned this non-routine political event and what consequences it had for the Kazakh society to National Digital History portal told a doctor of historical sciences, professor, leading researcher at the Institute of Russian History RAS Amanzholova Dina Akhmetzhanovna.

In the mid 90-s D. Amanzholova defended her doctoral dissertation on the topic "Russia and Kazakh autonomism. Alash movement history (1905 - 1920)" The revolutionary events of 1917 are fully applicable to the history of the Kazakh Alash movement, which originated during the First Russian Revolution. Specific political history of the February Revolution of 1917 was covered very superficial and one-sided, largely due to the prevailing principles of Soviet historiography.

- In 2017 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the revolutionary events in Russia and the creation of Alash movement. During this time many things changed, but revolutions permanently appear on the post-Soviet space. What in your opinion are the reasons for the revolution?

- Modern society as an example of the so-called "Color revolutions" fell under the impression that the revolution is something what someone thinks up and technologically controls externally. And there is a reason. It is easy to note that in today's "revolution" does not take place that what is in the classical scheme - the change of economic structure or system, political system, social structure, etc. In recent history of the so-called "revolutions" is carried out a change of the ruling competing elites. It after all while preserving the objective reasons for the change disappoints the society, the instability and the risk of serious, inclusive crises and revolutions.

Telegram of Tsar to General Khabalov

February 25, 21 pm

To the General Staff Khabalov

I order tomorrow to stop riots in the capital, unacceptable in a difficult time of war with Germany and Austria.

Nicholas

As for the causes of the February Revolution of 1917, they are complex. The deterioration of the economy, food shortages and daily goods, death of relatives in the war were combined with the difficult situation on the front, clashes and natural disturbances up to the uprising in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Incomplete industrialization, an imbalance between the industrial and agricultural sectors, a deep social division played a major role. Add to that discredit of the authorities, the head of state’s authority comedown, a ministerial reshuffle, squabbling in the parliament - the State Duma, the activities of anti-government parties, especially the socialist. Split of the society, irresponsible elites, the reluctance and inability to act on the preservation and consolidation of the state, resistance to the demands of different social strata and the objective modernization were tragic.

- What can you say about the reaction of the Kazakh intelligentsia? Were they ready for the change?

- It is significant that the abdication of the emperor was greeted by the vast majority of the country with enthusiasm and romantic expectations. Archives store multiple telegrams from different regions to the Duma, including from Kazakhstan, the Kazakh public, as written in a blueprint: "The freedom sun rose!" It seems nobody thought in the euphoria - and then what? Those, who recently wrote a petition and a request to the Tsar went to celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, and even those who spoke in opposition and criticized the authorities they did not always demand its abolition.

In fact, whether society was ready, the so-called responsible agencies, politicians, public figures to keep at least the relative order in the country during the transitional period, to ensure the safety of people and the ability of control agencies in the field? Our culture always personifies power, but power itself traditionally acts as a vertically organized hierarchy. This is not bad and not good, it is a reality, and it must be considered. You can not just move to another stage some ideal or held somewhere else ideas of democracy or progress.

Kazakh intelligentsia, like most educated people reacted to the collapse of autocracy as open up opportunities for democratization and solving overripe problems. Its representatives, as it is well known, were actively involved in the formation of new structures of local authorities - public executive committees, boards of different social groups (workers, peasants, Cossacks), zemstvo and national committees. At the same time they were expected especially in connection with the formation of the Provisional Government and its personal staff to establish contact and reforms. The most important were the termination of abuse of social and inter-ethnic conflict, which began in 1916, rehabilitation of victims and returning tyloviks, participated in the elections to the Constituent Assembly, the creation of democratic local government, practical implementation of the decisions taken by the new government. At the same time in a small intelligentsia showed different political preferences.

The interim government found it necessary to draw authoritative figures in Kazakh Turkestan Committee, as commissioners of the government M. Tynyshpaev and A. Bukeyhanov worked in Semirechye and Turgay region, respectively; where an uprising in 1916 had particularly severe consequences. The cooperation with the All-Russian Muslim movement intensified, as well as regional projects - I mean Siberian regionalism. In the short period from February to the end of 1917 the Kazakh intelligentsia took a huge step in political development and self-organization (All-Kazakh congresses, development program, the formation of the party, the proclamation of autonomy).

- What changes did occur after the revolution? Were they in line with expectations of the national intelligentsia leaders?

- In fact, February really revolutionized the country: people are no longer subjects and become citizens, proclaimed previously unimaginable freedom, including universal suffrage, women's rights in the equation, the 8-hour working day, introduced democracy, i.e. in fact - a republic, and it was stated in the Declaration of 1 September. Called to the rear work Kazakhs and representatives of other nations were demobilized and returned home.

At the same time the continuation of the war gave rise to new costs and sacrifices, and the transition authorities deem it necessary to remain faithful to the international obligations, despite the all-encompassing desire to end the war. Farmers - the vast majority of the population - did not wait for laws. They understood – if no Tsar, i.e. no vertical of power, in addition to this before their eyes the former authorities in the field collapsed or were in confusion, you could finally divide the land, and indeed all around.

Everywhere sharply increased social activity of people, along with experienced political parties to quickly formed new, particularly ethno-political associations (movements, parties, unions, and others). Especially popular in the ethnic regions of the former empire were the idea of federalization, which among all-Russian parties supported the SRs. In general, socialist ideas and the requirements of social justice were very popular. Competed with the Socialists supporters of the so-called bourgeois democracy, but they were in the minority.

- How would you comment on the evolution of views and assessments on the value of the revolution, for example, in the Soviet and modern periods or views of foreign scholars on the revolution?

- This is a very broad question. The short answer is the Soviet historiography was based on an assessment of the revolution as a bourgeois-democratic (self-definition appeared in the early 1930s) and therefore insufficient. After all, the aim of the Bolsheviks, who, as you know, took no part in the overthrow of the monarchy (incidentally, all the other parties) was socialism. Therefore, Lenin returned to Russia in April and urged to continue the fight, and then he rightly saw the possibility of a peaceful way of the transfer of power to the Soviets, even though it was short.

In Soviet historiography February 1917 was seen as a prelude to the main and decisive event - October 1917. The events of October were of great attention, respectively, everything that happened from the overthrow of the autocracy before it, treated as a forward motion of the Bolsheviks to the legitimate victory in spite of all difficulties and machinations of enemies. And the actions of the Provisional Government and all its most important democratic reforms mercilessly criticized. And, of course, all considered within the formation approach to the historical process.

A detailed study of the potential of liberal democracy and the reasons for its failure in practice carried out by historians, and here we must highlight the serious works of P.V. Volobuev, E.N. Burdzhalov, I.P. Leyberov, I.M. Pushkareva, M.G. Vandalkovskaya, S.V. Tyutyukin, V.V. Shelohaev and others. But the priority was the history of the Bolsheviks (communists) and only in the context of its unquestionable rightness treated all subjects and personalities related to other political forces.

Foreign historiography developed in the framework of the rule of the ideology of the "cold war", and determined all assessment and treatment. Among Sovietologists for a long time dominated representatives of the so-called "Totalitarian" direction, and they could not work in our archives, which severely weakened their arguments, plus they acted the political situation. Only much later the so-called "Revisionists" began to reconsider many straightforward and simplified evaluation, strove to see the pattern, rather than an accident of the revolution, to reconstruct the complex and divergent events, including imagine this grandiose in the history of the world breakdown in connection with October 1917 and through the actions of the major figures of the era. Here we should mention works of I. Rabinovich and R. Payps.

Abroad were published memoirs of many of them, such as A.F. Kerensky, A.I. Denikin, V.A. Maklakov, I.G. Tsereteli as well as works of other immigrants, for example, the leader of the Cadets P.N. Milyukov. They, in particular, N.A. Berdyaev and others paid attention to the spiritual origins of a revolutionary crisis.

- Are the February events the subject to current research? Can we use any new methodological approaches?

- Revision of February and generally revolutionary 1917 began with perestroika in the Soviet Union. To the scientific and social fields introduce repressed Bolsheviks, open archives; active contacts with Western historians begin. P.V. Volobuev, B.V. Anan'ich, Y.I. Kiryanov, V.P. Buldakov, A.N. Medushevsky, S.S. Sekirinski and others put and discussed the problems of systemic crisis of the empire, the unity of the revolutionary process with peaks in February and October 1917, clashes of modernizm and traditionalism, the communal revolution, desecration of the government and others. For example, V.P. Buldakov used the image of "social madness", describing the February revolution. The understanding of the revolution is becoming more multi-dimensional.

In Soviet times the historical process considered through the actions of social strata and groups that were targeted by the parties. Now enhanced attention to the analysis of the revolution through the prism of social psychology and political culture of the masses - the peasants, their life and morality and mentality. The behavior of the intelligentsia of urban middle classes was studied in more detail, too. The nobility and bourgeoisie is represented today not as a monolithic group, and their behavior and role in the revolution appear to be ambiguous. Of course, a great role was played by the expansion of the source base studies due to the opening of many archives.

- Well, in conclusion, I would like to hear your opinion about the meaning of the revolution in the history of Kazakhstan?

- Partly I answered this question in connection with the Kazakh intelligentsia. The value of the revolution in the history of Kazakhstan should be viewed in the context of the overall developments in the former Russian Empire. The old order collapsed, amplified chaotic social life, a struggle for power, where legitimate and illegitimate means were used by all participants. Instead of the desired objective, vital modernization of all aspects of social reality and statehood eventually began demodernization. It intensified with the full deployment of the civil war in 1918.

In my opinion, today the majority of ordinary people who survived on the "hard way" revolutionary fracture of the end of XX century now realized the disastrous of destruction of all foundations and to each person, and for the state. Evolution is preferable to revolution and historical experience of different countries show this. It is important, as in all other cases, use a round date to try to learn the lessons. We must try together to understand how the power of creative and scientific elite, every responsible citizen of the country learn how to organize life and work in the general interest, not to bring up to such terrible tragedies that experienced Eurasian peoples during the First World War, Revolution and Civil War.

- Thank you for such interesting and detailed answers! We wish you further success!

- All the best! And let us live without a revolution!

By Arman SULEIMENOV

Translated by Raushan MAKHMETZHANOVA

Use of materials for publication, commercial use, or distribution requires written or oral permission from the Board of Editors or the author. Hyperlink to National Digital History portal is necessary. All rights reserved by the Law RK “On author’s rights and related rights”. To request authorization email to kaz.ehistory@gmail.com or call to (7172) 79 82 06 (ext.111).