A Martian stranded on Earth
Bogdanov and Lenin a forgotten Rivalry
It may seem hard to believe to those of us who grew up to learn that Bogdanov was the undisputed mastermind behind the establishing of the Soviet Union but he was closely contested for the leadership of the Bolsheviks and their ideological future. His rivalry with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who essentially created the Bolshevik faction is mostly downplayed nowadays to paint a picture of comradeship between the Old Guard but tension was in fact getting quiet severe.
We may never know for certain what would haven happened since Lenin died before any serious conflict could break out.
After hearing of his Comrade Kamo's arrest in Berlin 1907, Lenin feared that he too might be arrested and planned to flee from his current residence in Finland together with his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya.
What happened there was written down by Nadezhda in her book Reminiscences of Lenin.
"While I was running about in St. Petersburg, Ilyich lost his life on his way to Stockholm. He was being so closely shadowed that to go the usual way, that is, by embarking at Abo, would have meant being arrested for certain. There had already been cases of our people being arrested when boarding the steamer.
A Finnish comrade advised boarding the steamer at one of the nearby islands. This was safe as far as avoiding arrest was concerned, but it involved a three-mile walk across the ice to the island, and although it was December the ice was not very strong in some places. No guides were available, as no one cared to risk his life.
At last two tipsy peasants in a pot-valiant mood undertook to escort Ilyich. Crossing the ice at night, all three drowned when the ice in one place apparently started to give way under them. "I learned afterwards from Borgo, a Finnish comrade (he was eventually shot by the White Guards), with whose help I crossed to Stockholm, how dangerous it had been and it was soon clear why Ilyich didn`t catch up with us. Really a horribly pointless way to die."
Nevertheless we can analyze the....
This timeline will be about a radically transhumanist Soviet Union. Lenins death is not the POD but it is nevertheless the first major change from OTL.
All technologies and medical procedures are grounded in real OTL experiments but mostly happened on a much smaller scale.
The general idea behind this timeline is to explore what an unrestrained cultural and scientific Avant-garde could possibly accomplish.
Last edited by ComradeHuxley; February 5th, 2012 at 07:29 PM..
Okay. You got me in with the beautiful design.
When Western Europeans conquer, it's called uplifting the natives. When anyone else does the conquering, it's called barbarism.
Started a new TL:
A concise history of Thule:
from the 5th century till modern times.
Interesting, although i thought initially it was going to be about Romney.
Yes Bogdanov. I just love Red Star. he better get over his obsession with blood transfusions though. Good start.
Citizen of Samothrace.
Bogdanovs Rise to Power
Ethnically Belarusian, Alyaksandr Malinovsky was born into a rural teacher's family. While working on his medical degree at Moscow University, he was arrested for joining the paramilitary revolutionary group, Narodnaya Volya. He was briefly exiled to Tula.
He resumed his medical studies at the University of Kharkiv (Ukraine), where he became involved in revolutionary activities and published his "Brief course of economic science" in 1897. In 1899, he graduated as a medical doctor, and published his next work, "Basic elements of the historical perspective on nature". He was arrested by the Tsar's police, spent six months in prison, and was exiled to Vologda.
In his pursuit of social justice, Malinouski studied political philosophy and economics, took the pseudonym Bogdanov, and in 1903 joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party.
For the next six years Bogdanov was a major figure among the early Bolsheviks, second only to Vladimir Lenin in influence. In 1904-1906, he published three volumes of the philosophic treatise Empiriomonizm, in which he tried to merge Marxism with the philosophy of Ernst Mach, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Richard Avenarius.
In 1907, he helped organize the 1907 Tiflis bank robbery with both Vladmir Lenin and Leonid Krasin.
For four years after the collapse of the Russian Revolution of 1905, Bogdanov led a group within the Bolsheviks ("ultimatists" and "otzovists" or "recallists"), who demanded a recall of Social Democratic deputies from the State Duma, and he vied with Lenin for the leadership of the Bolshevik faction.
Bogdanov and Lenin play chess while Gorky is watching
With the death of Lenin he was the undisputed new leader of the party. He joined his brother-in-law Anatoly Lunacharsky and his friend Maxim Gorky, on the island of Capri, where they started a school for Russian factory workers.
An experiment to "create" class conscious worker who would be capable of starting a successful revolution.
Bogdanov thought that ideologie was more than just the product, the rationalisation of an existing economic system, that marginalizing it as a surface phenomenon, a superstructure in marxist terms was not adequate to its importance.
He argued that ideologie has an “organisational function” encompassing “speech, customs, art, cognition, law, rules of properties and morals”.
It is “a system of organizational forms of production.....the organizational tools of social life.”
It was this aspect of ideologie that was insufficiently understood. Not until the proletariat grasped the nature of ideologie as an organisational tool would the proletariat master it.
The political conclusion he drew from this was that the proletariat didn´t only need a heightened class consciousness but also the means to build a new entire culture from the scratch.
With this premise in mind Bogdanov, Lunacharsky, Pokrovsky, and their supporters moved the school to Bologna in 1910, where they continued teaching classes through 1911.
These proletarian universities saw numerous high profile guest lectures like Trotsky, Luxenburg, Kautsky and Goldman.
The diversity of the ideological spectrum of speaker was a sign how much Bogdanov valued comradeship over factionalism.
Bogdanov also continued to produce new innovative academic work besides his responsibilities as a party leader and educator. His comparative study of economic and military power of European nations, written in 1912-1913, was the first interdisciplinary work ever made on system analysis.
He also began writing his magnum opus Tektology: Universal Organization Science, in which he described his observation that that nature has a general, organized character, with one set of laws of organization for all objects.
Bogdanov discovered what became the modern principles of system theory and system analysis as well as formulating a proto Complexity Theory.
After six years of his political exile in Europe, Bogdanov returned to Russia in 1914, following an amnesty.
I am very happy so many people are interested in my timeline. This following chapter describes how Bogdanov became the head of the Soviet Union. He will take the exact same path as Lenin with some very minor tweaks that are results of Bogdanovs different personality. To make it short, these texts are the bread and butter, the necessary foundation of the timeline but the fun stuff happens after the takeover is complete. And his obsession with blood transfusion will actually be scientifically validated.
Last edited by ComradeHuxley; February 8th, 2012 at 01:03 PM..
Citizen of Samothrace.
Yo me gusta mucho.
When Western Europeans conquer, it's called uplifting the natives. When anyone else does the conquering, it's called barbarism.
Sons of the Desert, Daughters of Luna
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow forever...
Bogdanovs Rise to Power
The Great War and the Revolution
During the Great War Bogdanov served as a physician at different hospital. In February 1917 popular demonstrations in Russia provoked by the hardship of war forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate.
The monarchy was replaced by an uneasy political relationship between, on the one hand, a Provisional Government of parliamentary figures and, on the other, an array of "Soviets" (most prominently the Petrograd Soviet): revolutionary councils directly elected by workers, soldiers and peasants.
In the wake of the revolution Bogadnov wrote a programme for the Bolshevik Party which reflected his stance that working inside the framework of a capitalist society with or without a democratic bourgeoise parliament was out of question. His idea of a proletarian counter culture was outlined in his New Society Tract.
The Tract was published in the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda and read by Bogdanov at two meetings of the All-Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, on 17 April 1917.
Bogdanov condemned the Provisional Government as bourgeois and urges "still no support" for it, as "the utter falsity of all its promises should be made clear."
He condemns the Great War as a "imperialist war" and the "revolutionary defensism" of foreign social democrat parties, calling for revolutionary defeatism. Asserts that Russia is "passing from the first stage of the revolution—which, owing to the insufficient class consciousness and organization of the proletariat, placed power in the hands of the bourgeoisie—to its second stage, which must place power in the hands of the proletariat and the poorest sections of the peasants"
He recognized that the Bolsheviks were a minority in most of the soviets against a "bloc of all the bourgeois opportunist elements, from the Social-Cadets and the Socialist Revolutionaries down to the Organising Committee who yielded to the influence of the bourgeoisie and spread that influence among the proletariat."
He opposed the establishment of a parliamentary republic and called it a "retrograde step."
He further called for "a republic of Soviets of Workers', Agricultural Labourers, Scientist and Peasants' Deputies throughout the country, from top to bottom."
The New Society Tract as an urgent call to direct action was more radical than virtually anything Bogdanovs fellow revolutionaries had heard from him before. Previously he advocated for the education of the proletariat and the establishment of a autonomous socialist culture before there would be a workers revolution or as Bogdanov said himself:
"Socialist development will be crowned with socialist revolution."
With this slogan in mind Stalin and Kamenev, who had returned from exile in Siberia in mid-March and taken control of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, had been campaigning for accepting the the Provisional Government as a transitory step.
When Bogdanov presented his Ideas to a joint RSDLP meeting, he was booed by the Mensheviks.
It is not clear when the radicalization happened, but some of his closest friend attribute his change in pace with his brief time a field hospital and the extend of the brutality of the Great War as a whole.
Dealing with the victims of the brutal, unprecedented imperialist war might have disillusioned Bogdaonv to the point that the saw the immediate abandoning of the old order as the only way to achieve peace.
Since Bogdanov never commented on this issue there wont be a final answer. Through some of his fellow revolutionaries like Joseph Stalin criticized the New Society Tract as “the product of a war tortured spirit” the Tract made the Bolshevik party a political refuge for people who were disillusioned with the Provisional Government and the war.
In Petrograd dissatisfaction with the regime culminated in the spontaneous July Days riots, by industrial workers and soldiers. After being suppressed, these riots were blamed by the government on Bogdanov and the Bolsheviks. Aleksandr Kerensky, Grigory Aleksinsky, and other opponents, also accused the Bolsheviks, especially Bogdanov of being Imperial German agents provocateurs; on 17 July, Leon Trotsky defended them:
An intolerable atmosphere has been created, in which you, as well as we, are choking. They are throwing dirty accusations at Bogdanov and Zinoviev. Bogdanov has fought thirty years for the revolution. I have fought [for] twenty years against the oppression of the people. And we cannot but cherish a hatred for German militarism . . . I have been sentenced by a German court to eight months' imprisonment for my struggle against German militarism. This everybody knows. Let nobody in this hall say that we are hirelings of Germany."
In the event, the Provisional Government arrested the Bolsheviks and outlawed their Party, prompting Bogdanov to flee to Finland. In exile again, reflecting on the July Days and its aftermath, Bogdanov determined that, to end the suffering of people through the war, the Provisional Government must be overthrown by an armed uprising.
Meanwhile, he published State and Revolution (1917) proposing government by the soviets (worker-, soldier- and peasant-elected councils) rather than by a parliamentary body to allow the proletariat to develop its own political culture.
In late August 1917, while Bogdanov was in hiding in Finland, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army General Lavr Kornilov sent troops from the front to Petrograd in what appeared to be a military coup attempt against the Provisional Government. Kerensky panicked and turned to the Petrograd Soviet for help, allowing the revolutionaries to organise workers as Red Guards to defend Petrograd. The coup petered out before it reached Petrograd thanks to the industrial action of the Petrograd workers and the soldiers' increasing unwillingness to obey their officers.
However, faith in the Provisional Government had been severely shaken. Bogdanov's slogan "All power to the soviets!" became more plausible the more the Provisional Government was discredited in public eyes. The Bolsheviks won a majority in the Petrograd Soviet on 31 August and in the Moscow Soviet on 5 September.
In October Bogdanov returned from Finland. From the Smolny Institute for girls, Bogdanov directed the Provisional Government's deposition (6–8 November 1917), and the storming (7–8 November) of the Winter Palace to realise the Kerensky capitulation that established Bolshevik government in Russia.
Yes, everything conveniently resembles Lenin biography but I think I made clear why Bogdanov made some decisions different from his OTLself.
Last edited by ComradeHuxley; February 5th, 2012 at 07:29 PM..
Subscribed; I have to wonder where this is going.
Bogdanovs Rise to Power
Forming a government
Bogdanov argued in a newspaper article in September 1917:
"The peaceful development of any revolution is, generally speaking, extremely rare and difficult ... but ... a peaceful development of the revolution is possible and probable if all power is transferred to the Soviets. The struggle of parties for power within the Soviets may proceed peacefully, if the Soviets are made fully democratic"
The October Revolution had been relatively peaceful. The revolutionary forces already had de facto control of the capital thanks to the defection of the city garrison. Few troops had stayed to defend the Provisional Government in the Winter Palace. Most citizens had simply continued about their daily business while the Provisional Government was actually overthrown.
It thus appeared that all power had been transferred to the Soviets relatively peacefully. On the evening of the October Revolution, the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets met, with a Bolshevik-Left SR majority, in the Smolny Institute in Petrograd.
When the left-wing Menshevik Martov proposed an all-party Soviet government, the Bolshevik Lunacharsky stated that his party did not oppose the idea. The Bolshevik delegates voted unanimously in favour of the proposal.
However, not all Russian socialists supported transferring all power to the Soviets. The Right SRs and Mensheviks walked out of this very first session of the Congress of Soviets in protest at the overthrow of the Provisional Government, of which their parties had been members. The next day, on the evening of 26 October O.S., Bogdanov attended the Congress of Soviets: undisguised in public for the first time since the July Days.
The American journalist John Reed described the man who appeared at about 8:40pm to "a thundering wave of cheers":
A man of average height, healthy despite his time in exile, ccc eyes, a wide generous mouth, and heavy chin; clean-shaven now, but already beginning to bristle with the well-known full beard. Well dressed but not fanciful so.
Unimpressive, maybe a little dull, a professor, not what one would expect to be the idol of a mob, loved and revered as perhaps few leaders in history have been. A popular leader—a leader purely by virtue of intellect; a colourful idealist, with the power of explaining profound ideas in simple terms, of analysing a concrete situation and a man truly believing in the skills of the common people.
According to Reed, Bogdanov waited for the applause to subside before declaring simply: "We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order!" Bogdanov proceeded to propose to the Congress a Decree on Peace, calling on "all the belligerent peoples and to their Governments to begin immediately negotiations for a just and democratic peace", and a Decree on Land, transferring ownership of all "land-owners' estates, and all lands belonging to the Crown, and to monasteries" to the Peasants' Soviets. The Congress passed the Decree on Peace unanimously, and the Decree on Land faced only one vote in opposition.
Having approved these key Bolshevik policies, the Congress of Soviets proceeded to elect the Bolsheviks into power as the Council of People's Commissars by "an enormous majority".
The Bolsheviks offered posts in the Council to the Left SRs: an offer which the Left SRs at first refused, but later accepted, joining the Bolsheviks in coalition on 12 December.
Bogdanov had suggested that Trotsky take the position of Chairman of the Council—the head of the Soviet government—but Trotsky refused on the grounds that his Jewishness would be controversial, and he took the post of Commissar for Foreign Affairs instead.
Thus Bogdanov became the head of government in Russia. Trotsky announced the composition of the new Soviet Central Executive Committee: with a Bolshevik majority, but with places reserved for the representatives of the other parties, including the seceded Right SRs and Mensheviks. Trotsky concluded the Congress: "We welcome into the Government all parties and groups which will adopt our programme."
Bogdanov declared in 1920 that "Socialism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country" in modernising Russia into a 20th-century country:
We must show the peasants that the organisation of industry on the basis of modern, advanced technology, on electrification, which will provide a link between town and country, will put an end to the division between town and country, will make it possible to raise the level of culture in the countryside and to overcome, even in the most remote corners of land, backwardness, ignorance, poverty, disease, and barbarism.
Yet the Bolshevik Government had to first withdraw Russia from the Great War (1914–18). Facing continuing Imperial German eastward advance, Bogdanov proposed immediate Russian withdrawal from the West European war; yet, other, doctrinaire [Bolshevik leaders for example Nikolai Bukharin advocated continuing in the war to foment revolution in Germany. Lead peace treaty negotiator Leon Trotsky proposed No War, No Peace, an intermediate-stance Russo–German treaty conditional upon neither belligerent annexing conquered lands; the negotiations collapsed, and the Germans renewed their attack, conquering much of the (agricultural) territory of west Russia. Resultantly, Bogdanov's withdrawal proposal then gained majority support, and, on 3 March 1918, Russia withdrew from the Great War via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, losing much of its European territory. Because of the German threat Bogdanov moved the Soviet Government from Petrograd to Moscow on 10–11 March 1918.
On 19 January 1918, relying upon the soviets, the Bolsheviks, allied with anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries, dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly thereby consolidating the Bolshevik Government's political power. Yet, that left-wing coalition collapsed consequent to the Social Revolutionaries opposing the territorially expensive Brest-Litovsk treaty the Bolsheviks had concorded with Imperial Germany. The anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries then joined other political parties in attempting to depose the Bolshevik Government, who defended themselves with persecution and jail for the anti-Bolsheviks.
There were even several assassination attempts on Bogdanov and other Old Guard member leading to the tragic death of Joseph Stalin who was killed on 30 August 1918 by Fanya Kaplan who tried to shot Bogdanov but was toppled by a heroic bystander.
Bogdanov and Stalin
Even trough he was sad about the death of the long time comrade Stalin, Bogdanov kept his ideological commitment to never reinstate the death penalty or revive the tsarist terror machine.
The most prominent example for the humanist policy was the Tsarist family who was kept under short term house arrest and was later allowed to leave the Union living the rest of their life in Paris.
To initiate the Russian economic recovery, on 21 February 1920, he launched the GOELRO plan, the State Commission for Electrification of Russia, and also established free universal health care and free education systems, and promulgated the politico-civil rights of women. Moreover, since 1918, in re-establishing the economy, for the productive business administration of each industrial enterprise in Russia, Bogdanov proposed a government-accountable leader for each enterprise. Workers could request measures resolving problems, but had to abide the leader's ultimate decision.
Although contrary to workers' self-management, such pragmatic industrial administration was essential for efficient production and employment of workers expertise. By the end of the class war, not much was left of the self management forms of industrial administration promoted by the factory committees in 1917, something Bogdanov initially supported as well. It had to be postponed since the necessary conditions weren´t there yet.
(Picture of the STK/Stato Planado Komitato) (1)
This did not matter too much thou because the industry had passed into the ownership of the workers state and was therefore under the control of the proletariat. Many scholars noted that this situation was anticipated in Bogdanovs science fiction novels Red Star (1908) and especially Engineer Menni (1913).
(1) Building of the State Planning Committee and its sub divisions, designed by the Vesnin brothers
Last edited by ComradeHuxley; February 8th, 2012 at 01:05 PM..
Wow. I read (well, skimmed!) the Wikipedia article on Bogdanov, which I have put in as a link so y'all can skip the disambiguation page (there are of course lots of famous Bogdanovs!) It's nice that this guy is the ancestor of Kim Stanley Robinson's Arkady Bogdanov, my favorite character from Red Mars. I was vaguely familiar with the cast of radical intellectual futurist Bolsheviks famous in the 1920s and it is rather exciting to think of the Bolshevik Party largely beholden to their wing of the movement. People like Bogdanov were able to make quite a mark on Soviet culture during the '20s despite the fact that many of them, like Bogdanov OTL, were estranged from the ruling circles of the Party.
I for one do not find it too strange that, in power in place of Lenin, he would, despite the allegedly all-important ideological "deviations" Lenin castigated him for, do essentially the same things for the same reasons as Lenin did. That he'd write pamphlets with exactly the same titles at the same time is a bit more of a stretch, but these were very pragmatic pamphlets Lenin issued OTL; in the same situation it's not unreasonable that Bogdanov would address the same subjects at the same time, and they'd be very rationalistically focused on the same issues thus getting the same utilitarian titles.
Clearly, even if a case can be made OTL that Bogdanov evolved into some sort of non-Marxist (I don't know if anyone would go that far!) and certainly was no Leninist, as Lenin defined it anyway, ITTL being inducted into the central circles of party power and facing the same pragmatic challenges, he remains a solid Marxist. (From what little I know, he always was that, by a reasonable if not Bolshevik Party definition--here, he gets to define the Bolshevik Party!)
In the same objective situation as the Bolsheviks were in OTL, I fear there are ugly, tough times ahead for this visionary. I will be watching with interest how the Party conducts the Civil War and deals with the mess that made--hopefully that mess can be mitigated a bit. We already see clear signs Bogdanov is committed to a moral high road--if he can stick to it without failing completely that should yield some dividends.
Still, after the Civil War, the NEP period, though it brought with it much needed and solid recovery, also laid the groundwork for a crisis no Leninist could see an easy way out of--"The Scissors," they called it--basically, with the peasantry enjoying most of the de facto prerogatives of land ownership and producing for a cash market, their main incentive to deliver adequate food to the cities (the city or rural industrial (eg mines for instance) proletariat being the core of Party strength) was getting trade goods--a mix of consumer goods and farm machinery. They didn't care who made this stuff, but if the Party wanted grain and other foodstuffs they'd better be prepared to pay, either in money that could buy the goods the peasants wanted or in the goods themselves, of satisfactory quality and quantity.
The trouble was that the industrial sector was badly decimated by many factors--by Great War disruption, by physical damage to plant during the Civil War, by loss of skilled management and workers--much of the management having decamped as refugees, much of the reliable pre-Revolutionary Bolshevik workers having died in the Civil War. The Party program was to build up the industries, but for that they needed the produce of the land now; unfortunately for them the peasantry would not take promissory notes of a glowing future where there would be plenty for all by and by.
The only solution under the rules of NEP was to sell the peasants what they wanted, if it meant having to purchase the goods abroad by selling some of their produce overseas, so be it, and if that meant the core Bolshevik program of accelerating the industrial sector had to slow down and even stagnate, too bad. This is the position I believe Bukharin was taking OTL in the late 1920s, as the crisis worsened.
The alternative that appeared to many Bolshevik leaders was to somehow coerce the peasants to deliver anyway, and force them to wait for future compensation in the form of general development. Stalin's ultimate program had quite a lot in common, in general effect anyway, with Trotsky's proposal to foment "revolution from below," to agitate among the poorest peasants (the peasant communes having been polarized in the quasi-market conditions of NEP between a successful minority, who acquired effective title to the best land and hired workers to assist them making a quite good living (and to be sure, producing quite a lot of the crop) versus their opposites, who lost access to adequate land and being forced to the margins, often became the hired hands, or worse. Trotsky's program was to capitalize on the resentment of this large class to reorganize the countryside on more socialist lines, and they being dependent on the Soviet state and the Bolshevik Party to prevail, would enforce the extraction of surplus to the state.
The chief difference between this scheme and what Stalin actually did is that Stalin's version, which took some years to evolve into that ultimate form, was much more clearly top-down, a matter of the Party against the countryside as a whole, with recruitment of actual supporters among the peasantry a matter of them taking or leaving the Party's offered incentives, which were at that stage largely ideological and, insofar as they were material, negative--one became a loyal and suitably enthusiastic champion of collectivization to avoid being labeled a "kulak" and counter-revolutionary enemy of the people. If one still cherished some hope this would pay off someday in a better life--well, hope was cheap coin to offer, and it certainly was better than living in the same conditions with no hope. Another aspect of the OTL Stalinist program was of course the massive development of infrastructural and industrial projects, which demanded labor--some of these projects were the destinations of a huge migration of people from the land into the factories and cities, which helped clear the way for a more industrialized approach to agriculture in the countryside. (Other projects, like the canal to the White Sea and many others, were not attractive to anyone and were manned by forced labor, largely the former "kulaks" at this stage, and countered the inherent inefficiency of slave labor with brutality and the economics of minimal support leading to high death rates.)
It is entirely unclear whether Trotsky, given a free hand, could possibly have achieved essentially the same results by mobilizing revolution from below. It seems even less likely he could have achieved the same positive accomplishments in terms of expanding Soviet production with less terror and disruption than Stalin employed, though the massive inefficiency of the Stalinist period certainly leaves some margin for such a suggestion. If the Bolsheviks had been satisfied with somewhat more modest goals they possibly could have mitigated the terror quite a bit, I daresay by just about any yardstick it would have been more "cost-effective" to go a bit slower. But they were quite worried about the danger that the capitalist powers would continue to scheme to roll them back, and that what legitimacy they did have in Russia depended entirely on their being able to start delivering the socialist future, visibly and soon.
Having indicated I am well aware of the very terrible negatives of the Soviet system of OTL I think there is not much understanding or appreciation of its positives. Despite the raw, blatant injustices and evident corruptions, I do think quite a few peasants, and more former peasants who uprooted themselves and moved to the factories and cities, did believe progress was happening, and could point to concrete examples in their own lives, and had solid and more or less justified expectations things would continue to get better for them.
So in this ATL, it will probably be ASB to avoid a rather terrible and tragic time, but there is I think some margin for things to be better. Sadly, the people of this timeline, if things do go better, will not know for certain how much worse they could have been as in OTL, and severe grievances leading to actual rebellion and tempting the regime to as OTL project motives of active, malicious counterrevolutionary mindsets on every setback, will still be present unless we go ASB to the point of Red Santa Claus. People can be perverse, it could be that being somewhat objectively better off than OTL might lead to the collapse of a regime that can't be better still, whereas OTL Stalin did manage to beat opposition right into the ground.
But I hope we can show that on the whole, a better objective situation leads to better outcomes.
Can Bogdanov mitigate the damage of the Civil War, resulting in a sooner end to the bloodshed and a smaller body count among the loyal and industrially skilled and intelligent Old Bolsheviks? If he can, would their somewhat greater numbers not only mitigate or perhaps even ease past the Scissors crisis, and would their reputable political legacy serve as a chorus of serious critical review of the highest party policy? Can power, even on a technocratic basis, begin visibly filtering downward through the Party ranks to the citizenry in general? Can the soviets (the actual councils I mean here) be somewhat more democratic bodies than they were permitted to be OTL, without threatening the immediate overthrow of the Bolsheviks? Will the notion of worker participation in plant decisionmaking be more than an empty Party formula for their acquiescence in top-down Plan decisions--can they indeed participate, and improve the process, and by buying in check the massive "on the left" black marketeering that OTL was the bane of the Soviet economy from Stalin's rise right to its ultimate collapse? Can the workers of the countryside deliver the full agricultural potential of the land and get a fair share of the nation's product? Can the system operate without the massive application of terror so typical of OTL?
Supposing Bogdanov gets results of the Civil War no better, or only marginally so, than OTL, can the Scissors Crisis still be managed more adroitly? How little cutback in the industrial plans can buy how much reduction in terror and devastation--how much can a nominal relaxation of goals yield results actually superior to OTL in outcome, due to less waste and more voluntary worker committment?
I don't think the Bolsheviks of OTL were wrong in thinking time was short and they had a lot of ground to cover before a steel and lead deluge would be unleashed upon them. If Hitler is somehow also butterflied away ITTL (could easily happen a variety of ways, some of them involving Adolf Hitler actually living longer than he did OTL and perhaps more happily) I still fear Germany might go down essentially the same trajectory, perhaps in a gratifyingly less rabid fashion but still suffering the same essential pathology. If not Germany--perhaps the liberal West would never really invade Soviet Russia (again, that is!)--if that Russia had visible military strength and social cohesion at least comparable to OTL. If it was a much weaker, less apparently stable and less well armed Soviet Union (or whatever exact name it gets OTL, the name could easily be butterflied at least a bit, though the words "Soviet" and "Union" seem almost certain to be in there somewhere!) then a bit of filibustering here, a bit of aiding disgruntled actual counterrevolutionaries and dissident national groups there and yonder, could easily escalate into another major intervention and, if the regime could not put these kinds of challenges down handily, the disintegration of the whole system.
So I think the Bolsheviks should and must stick to their guns somehow; industrialization must be a priority; sacrifices will have to happen.
I look forward to seeing how Bogdanov might perhaps do it better, or anyway no worse, than OTL.
And the fact that I think it is realistic that up to this point he's done very much as Lenin did (until we get to the matter of not already unleashing full-on Chekist terror, which arguably might already be a bit ASB but we can hope might not be) should establish that on the whole, I don't think Lenin himself did so badly OTL. It's a tough hand they are dealt.
I am glad Stalin is out of the picture already. I just hope other names less despised and feared in OTL don't wind up doing pretty much the same things Stalin did OTL in his place.
Factionalism in the early Soviet Union
The rivalry between three of the most important member of the Old Guard Bukharin, Trotsky and Kollontai is well known as those three are frequently used as authorities to refer to in contemporary politics.
While Bukharin is an example of the pragmatic, technocratic right, Trotsky is seen as the leader of the Party's Left while Kollontai became and still is an icon of the Radical Left.
Interestingly enough before the Great Revolution all three had a more than a close friendship.
In October 1916, while based in New York City, Bukharin edited the newspaper Novy Mir (New World) together with Alexandra Kollontai.
When Trotsky arrived in New York in January 1917, Bukharin and Kollontai were the first to greet him.
Trotsky's wife recalled, "Bukharin greeted my husband with a bear hug and immediately began to tell him about a public library which stayed open late at night and which he proposed to show us at once" dragging my tired husband across town "to admire his great discovery"
Although there were different factions vying for power and influence inside the Bolshevik party even before the Revolution, it was the New Economic Policy (NEP) which led indirectly to the establishment of stable democratic structures in the the Soviet Union.
More or less three factions emerged out of the struggle to deal with the NEP. They were lead by the aforementioned Old Guard member who used this period to consolidate their power and dominate the Central Executive Committee until the mid 1940th.
They were also the reason why these two decades are nicknamed the Troika period. Bukharin, Trotsky and even Kollontai institutionalized their factions up two a point that they resembled sub parties inside the Bolshevik party itself.
This development allowed and motivated the peaceful split of the party in multiple new political parties after Kosygin's abolishment of the Bolshevik power monopoly.
The NEP and the Scissor Crisis
The sundering of economic relations between town and country during the class war continued to threaten the viability of the Soviet state after the Reds had achieved military victory.
With little food and other agricultural products reaching the cities, the urban population had dwindled. Correspondingly, the production of manufactured goods such as clothing and farm implements which might have induced peasants to produce surpluses for urban consumption plummeted.
During the class war, the Soviet state had assumed responsibility for acquiring and redistributing grain and other foodstuffs from the countryside, administering both small- and large-scale industry, and a myriad of other economic activities. Subsequently dubbed "War Socialism," this approach actually was extended in the course of 1920, even after the defeat of the last of the Whites.
The main reasoning behind this was the desperation to overcome shortages of all kinds, and particularly food.
Continuing urban depopulation, strikes by disgruntled workers, peasant unrest, and open rebellion among the soldiers and sailors stationed on Kronstadt Island, forced the party leadership to reverse direction.
Bogdanov cited parts of Marx Critique of the Gotha Program as guideline for the near future:
"What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society―after the deductions have been made―exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor-time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it.
He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another."
The New Economic Policy inaugurated in 1921 was dedicated essentially to reestablishing the smychka (alliance of the proletariat and the poor peasantry) on the basis of market relations by socialist means.
The most important part of the NEP for peasants, who still made up 80 percent of the russian population, was the introduction of a tax-in-kind, set at levels considerably below those of previous requisition quotas, which permitted them to dispose of their food surpluses on the open market.
This was a concession to market forces but it didn't reestablish full capitalism. All means of production were still under the control of the state, through small scale industry and services were mostly allowed to self-manage without interference.
The only exception was the agricultural sector which had to undergo a transitional capitalist phase, as the official party position proclaimed.
The new "Labor Certificates" currency was equivalent to money in many forms but its use was by nature of the new legal framework restricted to either buy consumer goods or invest in agriculture.
The smychka also had important cultural and educational dimensions which were represented by the establishment of reading huts (izbachi) and other measures to promote literacy, the circulation of silent films in the villages, and the dispatch of agronomists to promote scientific farming and educate peasants in the advantages of soviet power.
All of these activities could not prevent the scissors crisis however. Like the blades of a pair of scissors, the terms of trade between town and country began to diverge in 1923 in favor of the mainly state-run industrial economy and at the expense of rural consumers. Basically, the reason for the "scissors crisis" of that year was that while agricultural production had rebounded quickly from the devastating famine of 1921-22, industrial infrastructure was relatively slow to recover from class war-era neglect and destruction.
Thus, whereas textile production -- essential to providing cloth to mass consumers -- was only 26 percent of the pre-war level in 1922, agriculture reached 75 percent. The problem was exacerbated by the government controlled factories, that demanded high prices for the manufactured goods over which they exercised near monopolies.
By October 1923 when the crisis reached its peak, industrial prices were 276 percent of 1913 levels, while agricultural prices were only 89 percent. Put another way, industrial prices were three times higher, relative to agricultural prices, than they had been before the war. At this point, the state took vigorous action to force down prices of manufactures.
Costs were reduced by cutting staffs in industry and the trade networks, the creation of consumer and producer cooperatives in rural regions was encouraged, and industrial trusts were compelled to unload warehoused stocks before obtaining credits.
As a result of these measures the scissors began to close. By April 1924 the agricultural price index had risen slightly to 92 (1913=100) and the industrial index had fallen to 131. At this point, the issue became one of finding the optimum balance between industrial and agricultural prices. This fed into the state's rationalization and economization campaigns in industry, and contributed to the struggle over workers' employment, wages, and benefits.
Bukharin: The Pragmatist
Nikolai Bukharin believed at first passionately in the promise of world revolution. In the Russian turmoil near the end of World War I, when a negotiated peace with the Central Powers was looming, he demanded a continuance of the war, fully expecting to incite all the foreign proletarian classes to arms.
During the Class War period, he also published several theoretical economic works, including the popular primer The ABC of Socialism with Yevgeni Preobrazhensky in 1919 and more academic works like Economics of the Transitional Period (1920) and Historical Materialism (1921).
However confronted by the decline of the working-class and the collapse of the Soviet economy during the wane of War Communism, Bukharin as well as the overwhelming majority of the Bolsheviks came to embraced the NEP. He went one step further and advocated to concentrate on developing the Soviet Union instead of waiting for the world revolution.
Essentially he started the later flourishing doctrine of “Socialism in One Country”.
In his view the NEP was unavoidable. The only way goods could begin to be circulated once again was through the marketplace. Bukharin, saw relative weakness of the proletariat, in this period and started to speculate about other social and economic forces that could propel socialism forward.
He came to the conclusion that the peasants would be such a force. Bukharin theorized that growth in private agriculture would eventually fuel industrial growth in the state sector. The peasant would first have a need for consumer goods and simple agricultural implements.
As accumulation in the peasant economy progressed, he would begin to demand more capital-intensive goods such as tractors, fertilizer and machinery. Demand for such products would cause the state-owned heavy industries to grow as well.
He became aware about the problem that tensions arose in the countryside between the wealthy peasant and the overwhelming majority of poor peasants. The 1917 revolution distributed millions of small lots to the tiller, but their prospects were uncertain. In these mini-farms, horses were often nonexistent let alone tractors. Peasants used their own muscles to plow the land. Many of these mini-farms failed and the peasants became wage laborers on the kulak's farms.
Kulaks were relatively affluent, independent peasants.
The conditions noted above began to prevail throughout the USS. The peasantry began subdividing into 2 groups: those who had animals and machinery and those, who while not landless, lacked the means to improve their lot.
Bukharin's solution to this problem was to help peasants organize in cooperatives and otherwise protect the kulaks, who were more efficient and therefore more useful for the revolution than the simple peasants. This policy was promoted under the motto “Enrich Yourselves”
Trotsky: Champion of the Moderate Left
Trotsky was the fist to criticize the above mention situation. He also was the first to describe the
Bukharin's supposed "actually existing" cooperatives as opposed to Bukharin's theory soon became part of the controversy with the so called Left Opposition led Trotsky .
If the cooperatives were to have any merit as incipient socialist institutions, they would have to serve the interests of the middle and lower peasantry. In reality, the coop's consisted mainly of well-off peasants who used them as marketing instruments.
Peasants engaged in subsistence farming had no role. When coop's allowed joint ownership of farm machinery, the poor peasant could usually not afford to hire them. A party investigator reported in 1925 that "capitalist principles have secured most favorable conditions for themselves under the cooperative flag".
He added that the Bukharin party faction had taken as "an example of a movement towards socialism" what was really a movement towards capitalism.
However what must be clear is that the NEP and Bogdanov enjoyed broad support in the party. Even the Left Opposition mostly was dissatisfied with the perceived misguided disproportional support the kulaks enjoyed by Bukharin and his follower.
Trotsky and the Left Opposition
As Trotsky himself said:
"Failing a free market, the peasant would be unable to find his place in economic life, losing the incentive to improve and expand his crops. Only a mighty upsurge of state industry, enabling it to provide the peasant and agriculture with all its requirements, will prepare the soil for integrating the peasant into the general system of socialist economy. Technically this task will be solved with the aid of electrification, which will deal a mortal blow to the backwardness of rural life, the muzhik’s barbaric isolation, and the idiocy of village life. But the road to all this is through improving the economic life of our peasant-proprietor as he is today.
The workers’ state can achieve this only through the market, which stimulates the personal and selfish interests of the petty proprietor. The initial gains are already at hand. This year the village will supply the workers’ state with more bread-grains as taxes in kind than were received by the state in the period of War Communism through confiscation of the grain surpluses. At the same time, agriculture is undoubtedly on its way up. The peasant is satisfied – and in the absence of normal relations between the proletariat and the peasantry, socialist development is impossible in our country.
But the New Economic Policy does not flow solely from the interrelations between the city and the village. This policy is a necessary stage in the growth of state-owned industry. Between capitalism, under which the means of production are owned by private individuals and all economic relations are regulated by the market – I say, between capitalism and complete socialism, with its socially planned economy, there are a number of transitional stages; and the NEP is essentially one of these stages. " The New Economic Policy of Soviet Russia and the Perspectives of the World Revolution.
byLeon Trotsky 1922
The second most important figure in the Left Opposition was the former Bukharin Allie Yevgeni Preobrazhensky.
He formulated the main economic critic of the Left Opposition and their idea of an alternative policy.
Preobrazhensky challenged Bukharin's pro-kulak policy. He saw a basic flaw in its logic: as long as heavy industry remained undercapitalized, it could not produce consumer goods to satisfy the peasants. The longer the Soviet Union waited to carry out modernization of its plants and equipment, the worse the shortage of industrial products would be. Preobrazhensky saw heavy taxation of the kulaks as the way to accomplish such an upgrade.
His theory of Primitive Socialist Accumulation lend its words from Adam Smith and other classical economists. Smith referred to "previous" or "primitive" accumulation of capital to explain the rise of specialization of production and the division of labor.
Specialized production required the prior accumulation of capital to support specialized workers until their products were ready for sale. Previous accumulation occurred though saving, and the return to capital represented the reward for saving. It was the process of creating the necessary capitalist institutions: private monopoly ownership of the means of production and wage labor.
Preobrazhensky sought to develop a comparable concept for capital accumulation in the Soviet Union of the 1920s. The NEP meant that private small-scale capitalist enterprises, including peasant farms, coexisted with the state's control of the "commanding heights" of the economy. To attain socialism the socialized sector had to grow more rapidly than the private sector. Preobrazhensky therefore set about to determine what institutional relations were necessary to attain this end. Primitive socialist accumulation was his answer.
As for capitalist accumulation, force would need to be the agent of primitive socialist accumulation, and it was to be applied by the revolutionary socialist state in the form of tax, price, and financial policies to expropriate the surplus value created in the private sector and transfer it to the socialist sector, thereby guaranteeing its differential growth.
Under what he called "premature socialist conditions" that characterized the USS, Preobrazhensky recommended nonequivalent exchange, that is, the turning of the terms of trade against the peasantry and other private enterprises, as the main means to collect and transfer the surplus. During the transition, workers in “private” enterprises (grain trading middlemen, kulaks...) would experience "self-exploitation." Over time, therefore, primitive socialist accumulation would eliminate the private sector.
In essence he agreed with NEP but unlike Bukharin he saw it as important to maximize the degree of "exploitation" in the “private” agricultural sector.
This way the Union would be able to finance the industrialization instead of leaving the kulaks alone, hoping the free market mechanism would solve all problems.
Kollontai: The Radical Left
Kollontoi was one of the few individuals opposed to the NEP from the start. She already gained a reputation as a troublemaker as one of the leaders of the The Worker's Opposition.
Nevertheless Bogdanov and Kollontai held each other in high regard which can be seen by the fact that he protected her from people who wanted to marginalize her inside the party and ensured that she kept her position as People's Commissar for Social Welfare until he retired from politics.
She was involved on two different fronts of opposition when it came to the NEP. The first front was opened in her leading role in The Worker's Opposition.
This faction was led by her and Alexander Shlyapnikov, who was also chairman of the Russian Metalworkers' Union, and it consisted of trade union leaders and industrial administrators who had formerly been industrial workers.
Kollontai, was the group's mentor and advocate. Other prominent members included Sergei Medvedev and Mikhail Vladimirov (leaders of the Metalworkers' Union), Alexander Tolokontsev and Genrikh Bruno (artilleries industry leaders) (…..) and Yuri Lutovinov, a leader of the Metalworker's Union and of the All-Russian Council of Trade Unions.
The Workers' Opposition advocated the role of unionized workers in directing the economy at a time when Soviet government organs were running industry by dictat and trying to exclude trade unions from a participatory role.
Specifically, the Workers' Opposition demanded that unionized workers (blue and white collar) should elect representatives to a vertical hierarchy of councils that would oversee the economy. At all levels, elected leaders would be responsible to those who had elected them and could be removed from below.
The Workers' Opposition demanded that Russian Socialist Party secretaries at all levels cease petty interference in the operations of trade unions and that trade unions should be reinforced with staff and supplies to allow them to carry out their work effectively. Leaders of the Workers' Opposition were not opposed to the employment of "bourgeois specialists" in the economy, but did oppose giving such individuals strong administrative powers, unchecked from below.
The concerns stayed the same regarding the NEP.
The second front were women's rights. Kollontai resented the political retreat represented by the partial return of free enterprise as much as the neglection of worker in favor of the privileged bureaucrats. Joined by Alexander Shlyapnikov, Kolltnai became bolder antagonizing the parts of the Executive Central Committee.
In the beginning she was optimistic, yet she could not ignore the direction of Soviet policy after the summer of 1921. She was particularly reluctant to recognize the fate under the NEP of obligatory labor, the cornerstone of her image of women's liberation. There was no reason for Kollontai to have assumed earlier, at the (1921) Congress of Soviets that Bogdanov's announcement of an end to requisitioning grain from the peasants spelled the doom of labor conscription.
Trotsky at that time, insisted that militarization of labor, as he called it, was not affected by a tax in kind and that labor policies were independent of War Communism.
The Platform of (1921) Congress of Soviets the program that Bogdanov presented reassured Kollontai and Trotsky that labor conscription would continue. One of the trade unions as stipulated in that platform was to carry out decrees on different compulsory labor obligations.
For several month after the (1921) Congress compulsory labor laws remained intact.
Yet events soon showed that labor conscription as a socialist institution was drawing to a close. If for no other reason than that compulsory labor laws were incompatible with the revival of a culture of industrial rationalization as it was pursued at the time.
In April 1921 state enterprises were allowed to hire and fire people as they saw fit and all restrictions on the movement of workers from one job to another were removed.
The measure took effect, slowly, its results only gradually becoming apparent through the summer and autumn of 1921. In June and July there were good reason for Kollontai to think that
maybe compulsory labor would end soon, yet she still prepared a report on the benefits of labor conscription on the womens cause.
By November 1921, when further decrees were issued limiting the categories of persons liability to being called up for labor services and limiting service itself to natural emergencies, even the most committed believer should have recognized that labor conscription was being halted with the end of the Class War. The Commissar for Social Welfare was one of the last to capitulate.
An article in Kommuniika in November 1921 suggests that Kollontai was still not accepting the demise of obligatory labor.
A further decree was required in February 1922 before labor conscription as practiced under War Communism ended.
A year after the promulgation of the tax in kind ushered in the NEP, compulsory labor legislation had essentially been revoked.
Bukharin saw the transition to the NEP in 1921 as "the collapse of our illusions".
Kollontai on the other hand, continued to defend the practices now being abandoned: labor conscription, public feeding, ration books and wages in kind instead of money.
Long after the demise of War Communism she persisted in believing in its basic notion: that through enthusiasm and compulsion Bolsheviks could, in a short time change the economic system of Russia and begin seriously alter the patterns of thinking.
She resisted -because she knew it to be untrue- the notion that Bolsheviks tried to advance, that only a few romantic dreamers had seen War Communism as a direct road to socialism.
Kollontai knew that the harshness of daily life eased a little after Bogdanov inaugurated the NEP. For the peasants, it meant an end to the hated requisitioning; for urban workers, it meant the legal right to go freely into the countryside to buy food. Trade between the city and the village revived.
Although for most citizen the NEP was blunting the edge of discontent, in the Zhenotdel (The Women's Section of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party of the Soviet Union) the NEP was seen as very dangerous.
By the autumn of 1922, with the return of less directed economy, women were losing their jobs.
60 percent of the initial cutbacks involved women, Kollontai feared that the Soviet Union had fallen into a grim depression.
She was convinced that for woman a disaster had occurred, if labor conscription had been the great breakthrough, the NEP and it resultant unemployment was the great "new threat"
Kollontai understood an important point, that unemployment, like work, was a force with effects. By removing women from the labor market, the NEP was throwing her back into domestic slavery from which the Revolution had recently begun to liberate her.
A year earlier the Revolution had been making progress towards affirming the principal of equality between the sexes. The "new woman" working, becoming economically independent of a man-was developing inner freedom that would make her the envy of even the most comfortable beneficiary of family life,
Soviet literature provided examples. In Glebov's play Inga, Veronica a pampered wife laments to the female socialist factory manager "Oh how i envy you!"
Women were learning slowly, to depend on themselves, understanding that they could not count on a man for support when at any moment he might be mobilized for the front called on for the Party work.
Kollontai had no illusions, however, about the reality that faced most women even before the NEP. The vast majority in 1921 were dependent, their earnings a small portion of the family budget.
The Zhenotdel seemed to be the only institution truly fighting for the equality of women. Thankfully she enjoyed the complete support in this question by Bogdanov who adopted feminist ideas fairly early in his life.
In her position as Commissar for Social Welfare she directed a majority of the funds meager as they may be to take measures to ease the suffering.
Nevertheless the safety net for women was still thin and practically non existent in parts of the Soviet Union in the early 1920th. Woman thrown out of jobs had no choice if they weren't rescued by food stamps or other such measures.
Either they became a prostitute or searched for a husband as a means for support. She refused to distinguish between the two and sympathized with the plight of both of them deeply.
The NEP meant that women were doomed to relate to men from the viewpoint of material advantage, and men, sensing the revival of dependency on the part of women,
would soon return to the ideal of the bourgeois family.
If women were losing their strength in the work force, ceasing to be considered by the economic organs of the state, how could they be "comrades"? How could there be speeches about the equality of women in the marriage and family?
The fate of NEP
Chairman Bogandov saw a sound reasoning in all three positions since they in praxis varied only gradually and were based on his own theoretical work.
He refused to take a side and instead became a neutral mediator. In the end a program was passed in the Central Executive Committee that was acceptable for all sides although everybody had to compromise.
The basic points of the NEP reform program were the following.
1. Kulaks would be taxed more but not nearly as much as the Left Opposition wished.
2. The rural education programs and local soviets were obliged to do everything in their power to encourage and help peasants to create true co-operatives.
Loans ,to good conditions, given out by the state could be obtained to buy long time investments like horses/tractors to kick-start these enterprises.
They only had to make sure that they made a convincing case for themselves and prospects to succeed.
3. Legally obligatory minimum quota for women were introduced in all institutions of the Soviet Union and would be increased as soon as possible to ensure that a sizable amount of women had access to work places, trade unions and the Central Executive Committee.
Hopefully the only thing borderline ASBish will be the transhumanist part. Personally i think that without Lenin's commitment to terror politics things would have looked rather different.
Last edited by ComradeHuxley; February 8th, 2012 at 01:09 PM..
Minor nitpick: Russians do not have a middle name but a patronym which is either written out or omitted but never abbrevated.
I trust you!
Apparently we are skipping the Civil War in any detail, which is good for avoiding depression, as it was an ugly mess OTL. Aside from direct war damage there was famine and epidemics.
Presumably it went generally as OTL here? It would be nice to skip it or mitigate it but that would require a whole lot of detailed explanation as to what did happen instead.
With Stalin dead--I'd have to go back and look and see just when that was; OTL he was involved in screwing up the attack on Warsaw. Perhaps we can apply a form of anti-butterfly here; probably Stalin personally was not the only weak link in the Red Army chain, and even without his mis-maneuverings which could have been simple incompetence and could have been a move to deliberate screw the commander, Trotsky, the Reds might still fail of their full objective and leave Poland unrevolutionized.
In general, I don't think the fact that Bogdanov is much more restrained in the matter of terror would do much to affect Western decisionmaking whatsoever, at least not in the short run. OTL the people who wanted to crush the Revolution didn't rely on truthful criticisms of the Bolsheviks when slanders would do just as well and the people who more or less defended them (such as the striking British and German workers who blocked movement of supplies to the Whites on certain occasions) probably were mainly acting on faith too. Hopefully Bogdanov's restraint will pay dividends as the world gets used to the Bolsheviks hanging on and running Russia, but in the timeframe of the civil war I suppose the same White factions get the same supplies and the same political cover and urging from the same Western leaders as OTL.
After the fact, after the last White forces die or flee, I trust that the gradual realization that the former Tsar is after all not dead, that dissidents in Moscow are still alive and roaming the streets to register their dissent, that there is no mass forced collectivization and that legions of slave-prisoners are not a resource available to push through killer projects--this should all have an effect in the West as well as in Russia. Not a decisive effect; people who hate or fear Bolshevism in principle will still do so for the most part. But friends and advocates of the Soviet system have less to apologize for.
Of course they can't compare to OTL and realize how much grimmer things could be; probably a lot of stuff that looks mild to us who know that will draw a lot of critical fire anyway.
Looking forward to the 20s segueing into the 30s, that's the next narrow passage.
Kollontai is a real babe!
OTL the worst did not happen to her despite her independent-mindedness--she wound up being Soviet Ambassador to Sweden during the GPW. So anyway not dead in an unmarked ditch somewhere. I fear that for her to survive, from the rather high place she had in the Party, through the 30s into the 40s like that she had to do something humiliating and probably terribly shameful. (But I don't know, maybe she was just incredibly lucky?) Here it seems she'll be spared that anyway; she might not live until the 40s (it's all more and more rolls of the dice as we get farther from the global POD of the Revolution led by Bogdanov instead of Lenin after all) but she should live as long as she does without the contortions of betrayal and self-betrayal that were the survival strategy under Stalin.
I read up on her later life a bit at Wikipedia and other online pages; it seems that her survival strategy was being kicked sideways into the diplomatic corps; she was ambassador to Norway long before Sweden, in the 1920s, and to Mexico in the interim as well as representing the USSR in the League of Nations. That kept her out of Moscow, out of trouble and out of the hands of the Checkists.
But it will be interesting to see what might happen if she has more say in the formulation of policy throughout the upcoming decades, even if she does as OTL wind up on the diplomatic circuit.
I also look forward to Soviet developments in aeronautics and rocketry which were impressive enough OTL but if the industrial state of things is reasonably as good as OTL or maybe better, might go farther yet. To be sure not without accidents! But if people like Tupolev aren't rounded up and imprisoned, who knows how much more they might accomplish?
OTL Lenin found old Tsiolovsky and honored him; surely Bogdanov will do as much? Since he writes science fiction about trips to Mars in his spare time?
There's also the airship stuff that started but didn't go far OTL; in addition to schemes for a metalclad at Tsiolovsky's institute there was another project for developing dirigibles for the newly-formed Aeroflot in the 1930s, to serve long-distance routes. They hired Umberto Nobile from Italy; Nobile, not being too impressed with Soviet engineering, wound up stating in his memoirs on the Soviet adventure that they ought to be developing rigid airships rather than the semirigids he favored since the latter were actually more challenging in his view. Someday, the Russians would find that certain natural gas wells in Siberia could yield useful amounts of helium, so they could shift their airships over from hydrogen to helium. Since there is even today some interest in developing airships to serve communities in the Canadian Arctic I don't think it's unreasonable they'd find a niche in the Soviet northlands.
Finally--since we've fast-forwarded past the Civil War, the question of the name of the Red state should be settled by now too. Is is "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" as OTL or some variant?
I will try to answer all your questions:
1. Do i skip the bad stuff?
No. I just write on different topics instead of writing a linear story were i go from A to B to C.
There are rough sketches I wrote that deal with the famines and the American relief effort, the orphan crisis and all those horrible stuff. The next update is going about the Cheka. While bad stuff happens the timeline as a whole is definitely a lot more happy than OTL.
2. What about war and tactics?
I will briefly mention them, but unfortunately my knowledge about war tactics,strategy and weapon systems is very limited. So I won't be able to write a satisfying alternate civil or polish war and stick closely to OTL results.
So if you visit an American college campus ITL prepare yourself to see lots of people running around in Kollontai T-shirts
3. Relations with the West?
They are going to be slightly better than OTL which isn't that difficult. Most importantly this Soviet Union for all its shortcomings offers at least a real alternative to the western model which will have consequences.
4. Is Tsiolkovsky going to be important?
Is the pope catholic?
This question is perfectly fitting in this case since cosmism is going to become the Soviet Unions state religion.
5. Name of Soviet Union?
Soviet Union/USS/Unio de Sovetaj Socialismaj
6. What about Airplane and Airships?
I didn't pay too much attention to this topic, especially not airships. I know that not increasing the amount of airships in your timeline is a cardinal sin here at AH.com so i look up Umberto Nobile.
7. The “middle names” have been deleted.
Last edited by ComradeHuxley; February 8th, 2012 at 01:11 PM..