What kind of government would Russia have if the Whites won the Civil War

What kind of government would it be?

  • Democratic

    Votes: 15 10.4%
  • Authoritarianism

    Votes: 129 89.6%

  • Total voters
    144
As much as I hate the USSR, the alternatives are bleak. The Freaky Friday switching of places between Fascist Russia and Communist Germany is appealing for its irony, but the Western powers have greater opportunity to intervene in Germany, unless the rank and file of the Army are willing to fight, or if the war is far less won, for example no American troops. And an undefeated Imperial Germany always look too exhausted to intervene, just as the Western powers found it too unpopular. I would have to say that this proto-Fascist Russia is eerily similar to the warped Nationalism, twisted socialism, and paranoid anti-Semitism of Hitler, but I suspect it differs poignantly. The Church would be a unifier and I guess it stays more conservative, capitalistic and traditional, but its power base is still the peasantry who enacted land reform and I am curious if that is sustained. I can see a disintegration into warlordism and since we still get a civil war the wholesale destruction of Russia. I would agree that we likely get only the core surrounding Moscow and lose the areas not fully ethnic Russian, the Whites likely offer little to keep them and are too weak to bring them back. Thus I think it looks eerily similar to the break-up of the USSR, the spin-offs going on to there own dictators and messy transitions to independence, those with some history better moving forward while others struggle, especially with a revanche Russia lurking about. On balance it might still be better than the institutional repression and purging of Stalin and his ilk, this Russia takes far longer to stabilize, recover, industrialize, democratize and emerge as a modern nation, but it might do it at less cost and with a better foundation for its future.
 
What would he do if he was in power????
Denikin, like most of the Tsarist Generals who took on leadership of the White armies, lost his faith in politicians and democratic institutions during the events of 1917 and, if you take the events around the Don as the Volunteer Army was assisting Krasnov in raising a Cossack force to be any indication of his moral calibre, the Volunteer Army under his command beat up, harassed and killed non-Cossack peasants in order to supply his forces, shooting anyone suspected of Bolshevik sympathies. The Whites in general rarely understood the political situation that they were in, they failed to offer any concessions to national movements, they failed to understand the peasants movements for land reform, and they conducted the war with essentially the aim of winning militarily but without understanding the broad social upheavals that made a military victory impossible. Denikin set up a propaganda agency called OSVAG which, instead of working to convince peasants and workers to support the White movement and thus supply their forces, spent most of its time courting the Allies.
 

samcster94

Banned
Denikin, like most of the Tsarist Generals who took on leadership of the White armies, lost his faith in politicians and democratic institutions during the events of 1917 and, if you take the events around the Don as the Volunteer Army was assisting Krasnov in raising a Cossack force to be any indication of his moral calibre, the Volunteer Army under his command beat up, harassed and killed non-Cossack peasants in order to supply his forces, shooting anyone suspected of Bolshevik sympathies. The Whites in general rarely understood the political situation that they were in, they failed to offer any concessions to national movements, they failed to understand the peasants movements for land reform, and they conducted the war with essentially the aim of winning militarily but without understanding the broad social upheavals that made a military victory impossible. Denikin set up a propaganda agency called OSVAG which, instead of working to convince peasants and workers to support the White movement and thus supply their forces, spent most of its time courting the Allies.
They always seemed to be autocratic, but extremely incompetent.
 
Denkin was a benign autocrat. He didn’t share the anti Semitic ideas, of some of his underlings. He was no saint, but further along than the remainder.
What would he do if he was in power????
Wrangel's view of Denikin, who he despised, was that of a man who hadn't any authority, too much willing to please everyone and unable to take the necessary measures to establish some degree of discipline and rein in rampant corruption. Hardly a man to run and hold a country together.
As of Kolchak, the man was surely a competent officer to lead a navy, but much less so to lead an army and even less to rule a country. For all the faults Denikin had, he at least was lucid on political stakes where Kolchak was oblivious to these realities and unable to formulate effective policies even only in intent.

Besides, the first and most essential point to remember in this discussion is that Whites were anything but a monolithic crypto-fascist bloc. There were monarchists, conservatives and anti semites, but there were also liberals and socialist-revolutionaries (the Right one, but still socialists).
What would define the form of the government, whether an authoritarian non communist democratic-socialist regime or a weak right wing central government unable to rein in regional warlords in the Chinese way, is which of these factions win.
Clearly, into 1919, the right wing factions were dominating the White side with Denikin in South Russia and Kolchak in Siberia (just after overthrowing the SR government). However, back in 1918, during the initial drive of the Czechoslovaks up to Kazan, the more significant faction was the Right SRs who run the provisional government that had been set up in Czechoslovak controlled areas and raised a powerful militia of their own (with Kappel as one of its famous leaders); meanwhile, the right wing Whites were still bottled up in the Caucasus and wouldn't really break out until the spring of 1919
 

CalBear

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Hitler represented Freemasons and Stalin did Masonic symbols.
Uh...

This is an ALTERNATE HISTORY site. Not Alternative History. Freemason conspiracy theories are way out there on the outer edge of the genre.

DO NOT repeat.

NOTE: Post # 29 was also considered in this action.

Kicked for a week.
 
However, back in 1918, during the initial drive of the Czechoslovaks up to Kazan, the more significant faction was the Right SRs who run the provisional government that had been set up in Czechoslovak controlled areas and raised a powerful militia of their own (with Kappel as one of its famous leaders); meanwhile, the right wing Whites were still bottled up in the Caucasus and wouldn't really break out until the spring of 1919
The army raised by the Komuch, the SR government in Samara, was one of the most prone to desertion and its leadership was a centre for right-wing anti-socialist officers as the majority of the former SR officers and Commissars had joined the Bolsheviks. The SR government was pretty much propped up by a foreign force who quickly wanted to get out of Russia more than continue fighting and as the Reds were getting better organised and started defeating the Czechs, the Czechs essentially split apart into petty bands, some even going over to the Reds as fellow socialists. When the Komuch organised a peasants congress in Samara, the peasants called for peace and negotiations with the Bolsheviks - they wanted little to do with the fighting and hated the conscription forced upon them by the Komuch's 'People's Army' and the idea of continuing the war with Germany was alien to them. Eventually the Komuch was forced to flee the advancing Red Army and in Ufa they were completely subsumed by the right-wing officers who wanted nothing to do with democracy or moderate socialists. They were essentially a paper tiger.
 
You forget the time schedule. Nothing stayed the same along the duration of the civil war, neither quality of troops, morale, meddling, or politics.

Desertion was plaguing every side of this civil war, and surged everytime one side suffered a defeat.
And opposition to conscription and war was opposed on both sides by the peasants who were essentially reduced during the entire civil war to make either a bad choice or a worst one. Cease fire was never a serious consideration especially as the Bolshevils were adamant about keeping their monopoly on power, an objective they were consistent with during the entire conflict ever since they dissolved the constituent assembly. Any time they sought to reach a deal with other socialist factions, it was to join their side on their term, not a true alliance nor a power sharing agreement.

Then the people's army and its cadre turned right after Kolchak's coup against the provisional government in november 1918, coup which alienated the SR support of the anti-Bolshevik government.
Actually, involvement of the Entente powers into White politics was relatively limited and late. Actually, the first to intervene were ironically the Germans who supplied the Volunteers Army with weapons and ammunitions (the White generals disliked the Germans but hadn't much choice) and sent forces into Finland to help the Finnish Whites.
Entente intervention would only really grow in importance beginning with the Japanese occupation of Vladivostok in the late summer of 1918.
Up so far, the Czechoslovak legion hadn't any political agenda and were content with allying to the anti Bolshevik governments propping up under their umbrella. These were set up by SRs, the largest, most significan/powerful opposition force to the Bolsheviks as showed by their performance in the Constituent Assembly.

When the Entente started meddling in and support more right wing leaders and faction, going as far as couping the SR government through Kolchak, they incidentally took away any degree of popular legitimacy the White government was holding. Now it wasn't a government dedicated to reforms, it was made up of conservatives and reactionaries whose displayed intent was to restore the hated pre war socio-economical systems, the privileges of land owners. At the same time, the coup discredited the SRs as they were showed unable to deliver on their promises and cause their own base to switch to the lesser evil that were the communists. At this point, only the most anti communist elements of the SRs stayed on the White side, but had lost all influence.

As of the Red Army being superior to the Czechoslovaks, it wasn't much of a reality early on.
The Red Army was initially more of a militia built on the ashes of the Russian army and wasn't able to fight the civil war at its beginning. It was the army that was chased by the Germans before Brest-Litovsk (fleeing would be the right word), routed and expelled out of the Caucasus by the very numerically inferior Volunteers Army through spring and summer and was forced to abandon practically all of its equipment in the process. It was this makeshift army that attempted to disarm the largest professional military force in Russia in the spring of 1918 and was compelled to flee all the way to Kazan through the summer, from a rail station to another.
The mood of the summer of 1918 was for Bolsheviks one of disasters after disasters, not to mention the left SR coup attempt in July and the assassination attempt against Lenin the month after. Desertion rates were appalling and the Red Army had serious troubles to raise enough men to keep the fighting on.
It was left to Trotsky to transform it into a real fighting force, which he did at great cost, hiring former Czarist officers, enacting conscription and enforcing harsh discipline, which wasn't to give results until the Kazan campaign. That success of the Red Army, still a very close matter, owed as much to Trotsky's capacities as to the overextended lines of the Czechoslovaks and Komuch army. That success was capital for the Bolsheviks as it gave a new breath to the Red Army and a much needed morale boost to go on a counter-offensive. Into 1919, the Red Army wasn't still a high quality fighting force, but none of the armies fighting that civil war were either; at least it was a force capable of standing on the field. Meanwhile, the numerical relevance of the Czechoslovaks faded away as each side was raising its own forces ("quantity has a quality all its own" as per the old say).
Then, into 1919, the advantage was the Bolsheviks', as they had alone an industrial capacity while the Whites relied on foreign supplies, and had a morale advantage as I spoke of above, being the "lesser of the two evils" in that war, so they had more popular support. But this "lesser of two evils" choice wouldn't be without consequences as it would give way to third party insurgencies, the so called Green armies (Makhno's anarchists, Tambov rebellion).
 
Desertion was plaguing every side of this civil war, and surged everytime one side suffered a defeat.
And opposition to conscription and war was opposed on both sides by the peasants who were essentially reduced during the entire civil war to make either a bad choice or a worst one. Cease fire was never a serious consideration
The People's Army raised around 8,000 troops mainly from unemployed amongst the urban towns or from refugees. The peasant villages were more adamant about staying out of the fighting and if there were any peasant detachments raised they were, as you say, Greens who would prefer to defend their homes than to go fight for nebulous concepts like the Constituent Assembly. The Komuch engaged in conscription as a result of a lacklustre response to their call for volunteers.

the Czechoslovak legion hadn't any political agenda and were content with allying to the anti Bolshevik governments propping up under their umbrella. These were set up by SRs, the largest, most significan/powerful opposition force to the Bolsheviks as showed by their performance in the Constituent Assembly.
For the average peasant community, the most significant form of governance was the village assemblies or soviets and the Constituent Assembly was a distant figment that had been promised to them so long but never delivered. I could potentially discuss the split of the peasants support in the SRs - between the radicals of the Left-SRs who, essentially, supported the Bolsheviks or the Right-SRs who were more conservative - that wasn't reflected in the election but honestly the salient point is that the majority of the peasantry supported land reform and the confiscation of the estates of the landed gentry. The Komuch, and the Right-SRs who made up the Samara government, refused to put land reform on the agenda and as a result sealed their fate by failing to secure the support of the peasantry.

To recognise the peasant revolution would have been to recognise the soviets and village assemblies and the SRs wanted to reinstate the Duma and Zemstvos as part of fulfilling a schematic democratic revolution but instead just reminded the peasants of the old Tsarist system. Some of the officers of the People's Army were raised from volunteers from former local gentry many of whom had their lands seized in the peasants' revolution and used this time to secure their land and punish the peasants who seized it. The urban workers in the towns and cities controlled by the Komuch continued to organise in soviets despite the soviets being declared illegal by the Komuch and continued to pass Bolshevik legislations in the face of a government who tried to restore factories back to their former owners. Essentially, huge swathes of the population under the control of the Komuch barely recognised it as a legitimate government and during August the Komuch organised a Duma election where only 15% of the population voted in support of the pro-government parties whilst two-thirds of the electorate did not even bother to vote.
 
The Soviets (referring the council) and the Communists weren't the same thing at the time; a slogan frequently put up was then something like 'all power to soviets, down with the communists".
As for the Constituent Assembly, it had barely existed enough to be despised for what it didn't do, but more for the source of legitimacy the SRs claimed through it.

I didn't say the peasant massively supported the SRs. But to speak of supporting the Bolsheviks, that wasn't the case either. The Bolsheviks equally if not more engaged into unpopular conscription and crops requisition efforts. At best, the peasant mass was neutral and apathetic towards both sides. Their shift towards the Bolsheviks was more clear once the SRs, who suffered from the fallout over the failure to get a quick victory against the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the Kazan campaign, were removed from the equation by the Kolchak coup. The window of opportunity of the SRs was barely these first 6 months of civil war through spring to september 1918, after which the right wing Whites took over and the Red Army had raised itself to battle worthy status.

To return to the topic of the government form put by this thread, as long the SRs are in charge of the government that would have brought in the victory against the Bolsheviks, they would be the ones to define the form of the post civil war government, and with a victory on their hands, be the recipients of international recognition as the legitimate government instead of being an insurgent one.
Such a thing would have been possible if they had won at Kazan, sealing the fate of a then faltering Red Army; remember the situation through the summer of 1918 was disaster after disaster, rampant desertions within an army that was barely worth the name, and massive outbreaks of typhus, not to forget the left SRs waging a coup attempt and engaging into assassinations against Bolshevik figures.
The only non SR "nominally" led/allied force then was the Volunteers Army in Caucasus which could have chosen either to fight the new SR government or submit and disband. SRs would have been much prone to authoritarianism but within a much loosened frame that the one set by the Bolsheviks, more one along the lines of "democratic-socialism".
By contrast, the later conservative and reactionary Whites hadn't much of a political agenda but to return things to their pre war situation and violently suppress any dissent.
 
At best, the peasant mass was neutral and apathetic towards both sides.
This much I agree with. I wasn't trying to suggest that the peasantry, by being hostile or indifferent to the Komuch, was automatically pro-Bolshevik, only that the Bolsheviks played a smarter game in the countryside and supported the peasants' revolution where the Komuch and the People's Army didn't.

I'm not going to extend this discussion much further, I feel you vastly overestimate the authority and power of the Komuch. Through the Czechoslovak Legion, a foreign force that just as readily wanted to go home, they won a series of victories against a disorganised partisan Red Guard, they failed to raise any significant army of their own or secure any decent support, and then by September of 1918 the Reds had organised a force of 70,000 which was over double the amount of forces that the Komuch had available to them and the Komuch was dissolved when the Reds took Samara in October with the remnants fleeing East to Kolchak. They were in essence an extension of the government of Kerensky - disliked on all sides and unable to assert its authority until crushed between the turning gears of Red revolution and White counter-revolution.
 
Geoffrey Swain has argued that there were in effect two Russian civil wars: First, the one between the Bolsheviks and the "patriotic socialists" (mostly SR's but also some Mensheviks amd Popular Socialists); he calls this the "Red vs. Green" civil war (see http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=1295 for a critique of this usage) which came to an end with the Kolchak coup. The second civil war was between Reds and Whites. In any event, when people talk about the "Whites" they do not generally mean the SR's. To be sure, the White leaders who succeeded the moderate socialists as leaders of the anti-Bolshevik forces were not monolithic; their political advisers ranged from Kadets to the extreme right--but it is striking how far to the Right even the Kadets had moved. Indeed, it was Denikin's Kadet advisors who were among the most opposed to concessions to the national minorities. https://books.google.com/books?id=irWQQCXwhwwC&pg=PA174
 
Actually, the first to intervene were ironically the Germans who supplied the Volunteers Army with weapons and ammunitions (the White generals disliked the Germans but hadn't much choice) and sent forces into Finland to help the Finnish Whites.
Entente intervention would only really grow in importance beginning with the Japanese occupation of Vladivostok in the late summer of 1918.

Admittedly I feel I fall into the pessimistic crowd and I don't like the outcomes. From most discussions I gather that the PG felt compelled to continue the war others have argued that the citizenry and Army simply would not talk peace, but is their anything to argue for them entertaining German peace feelers and surviving? Here I assume the Germans are not being defeated and the war has no obvious end (the usual no Americans coming). I also believe the Kaiser was not going to favor destroying the Russian monarchy but he would support the abdication of Nicholas. Once we get a final defeat, and I presume B-L "harsh" peace, is there still a window for the Germans to support the "Whites" and push them through to resist the Communists? I assume in such an altered war the Germans really are the only ones on the ground to do it. My feeling is that like the Allies the CPs are too extended and have too much home front pressure to massively intervene but shipping weaponry is certainly on the table. Best case scenario it is the PG that signs the B-L peace and gets German support, losing a lot of disgruntled elites and Generals, but getting that dose of aid? Could land reform at least been left on the table? Peace and the promise of reform enough to sway the masses to ignore the Communists and give the PG time to pick up the pieces? Long-term I think the post-war German governments move leftward and reformist, the SPD is going to get the seats to match its votes, maybe becoming the majority coalition party and driving the bus, a government better situated to build bridges to a possibly leftist Russian Dumaeven if it vobbles authoritarian.
 
I'm not going to extend this discussion much further, I feel you vastly overestimate the authority and power of the Komuch. Through the Czechoslovak Legion, a foreign force that just as readily wanted to go home, they won a series of victories against a disorganised partisan Red Guard, they failed to raise any significant army of their own or secure any decent support, and then by September of 1918 the Reds had organised a force of 70,000 which was over double the amount of forces that the Komuch had available to them and the Komuch was dissolved when the Reds took Samara in October with the remnants fleeing East to Kolchak. They were in essence an extension of the government of Kerensky - disliked on all sides and unable to assert its authority until crushed between the turning gears of Red revolution and White counter-revolution.
During the civil war, the Red Army was frequently defeated by forces that were numerically very inferior with a stronger ratio than 2:1, such as during the second Kuban campaign.
They suffered then a heavy disadvantage on their quality and morale, which Trotsky would be only able to bring back after Kazan; meanwhile, the White forces in the south and Siberia could count on their higher number of officers and the professional Czechoslovak troops which could stand against very superior forces and still beat them. That's why I think Kazan would make a perfect POD, keeping the string of success enjoyed by Komuch and Czechoslovak forces uninterrupted, preventing the Red Army from having the morale boost that prevented its collapse, keeping desertions at high level, preventing further adhesion from the people for a side that is clearly loosing. The next step after Kazan would have been Nizhnij Novgorod from which the railroad would lead directly to Moscow.
That's the POD I had in the TL I'm working on (link, with an ATL RCW focused recap on this post) with Trotsky being captured and executed in the midst of the battle (he barely escaped capture on two occasions IOTL), prompting the collapse of the 5th Army, putting an end to Trotsky's efforts to transform the Red Army into a capable fighting force and leaving the road to Moscow open. In southern Russia at the same time, Tsaritsyn was besieged by Krasnov and would likely fall in the event Lenin and Vatsetis took whatever reinforcements they could find to set up a defense of Moscow, weakening their southern flank and opening another gap; all while the German army is still occupying the western provinces under B-T provisos.
 
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