Talk:History of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union (1917-1927)

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After reading over a good deal of the Soviet History article, I would also have to dispute the neutrality, especially the early Bolshevik period section, it strikes me as having a view of the regime that is too favorable to be neutral.

List of terms for periods of Soviet history[edit]

Would in be a good idea to have an article for this list?

Other "named" periods?

The list could be with brief summaries. Mikkalai 17:37, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Forgot about the war?[edit]

ATM the article does not mention Polish-Bolshevik War at all! If I didn't know better, I'd say that Soviet censors were still at work here :> And yes, I checked, the civil war article does mention the war - in one sentence 'as the Red Army returned from the Polish-Soviet War blah blah'. I added some material from the war article, but I'd appreciate some assistance here. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus 22:57, 9 Jan 2005 (UTC)

For how long lasted the civil war?[edit]

Found some conflicts about time. In Russian Civil War it says that the war was from 1918 to 1920 while this was said here:

"During the Civil War (1917-1921)..."

"...resulting in years of all-out civil war, which lasted until 1922..."

This is important and needs to be fixed!--V7ndotcom elursrebmem 11:44, 18 January 2006 (UTC)[]

The history of USSR - question for the West.[edit]

(Below is the discussion that occurred at the Talk:Military history of the Soviet Union. Moved to this page where it really belongs. Maybe deleted or archived when it is settled or becomes too old). Irpen 18:33, Mar 29, 2005 (UTC)

There is one question which bothers me. It is not directly related to the history USSR but it is prompted by the history of USSR. I will talk mostly obvious facts.

At the time of the October Revolution, Russia was a backward country. The industrial revolution did not really occur yet. This is 1917 when the Western Europe and US were already highly industrialised. Russia was then about 100 years behind the West in the industrialisation. Similarly social changes were way behind. Democracy has not yet started. The October Revolution occurred in the middle of the WW1 (the Great War) and Russia was incurring heavy losses. A civil war followed into early 1920s.

25 years later the II World War comes to Russia. It is the main front of the war. Wars are devastating but this one was extremely devastating for Russia. The statistics of the Eastern Front are staggering (just at Stalingrad the Germans lost 300,000 soldiers and the Russians about 500,000 – this is just a single battle, compare it to the Pacific Campaign). Overall Russia lost over 20 millions lives, close to 10% of its population (probably 20% of its workforce) with many industrial cities (like Stalingrad, Leningrad) destroyed or wiped out.

The system in USSR was highly abusive (Stalin, who died in 1953, was worse than Hitler) and it was a system deemed economically inefficient by western experts.

How then such a system was able not only to put a major contribution to winning the II WW but rebuild the country from immense war destruction (destruction difficult to express), was a major force in rebuilding the satellite countries from their war destruction and went on to became the world’s leading superpower by the 1970s? It was not just a military superpower but scientific and technological power, having edge scientific research in many fields.

In its 55 years Russia catches up with 150 years and then comes first with enormous obstacles on the way.

It is quite clear that lack of democracy was the major factor in the collapse of the USSR. Democracy is a prerequisite of educated and sophisticated society which in turn is prerequisite for sustained successful development of highly complex projects in order of further progress. I mean educated society not engineered - it has to be broad educated to be wise not just good in applying standard solutions or algorithms (see Nazis).

To get to the point where the USSR got to, it had to have a broadly educated society. Could education be the single reason for the collapse? In the 70s the Russians were better educated than the Westerners. Almost all young people completed high school; the Universities were producing a lot more graduates than the US. It must have a huge impact on the nation and the effectiveness of communism propaganda.

The fact is that in 55 years Russia catches up with its backwardness of 150 years and then comes arguably first with enormous obstacles on the way.

The history of USSR demonstrate that the Western system is not as efficient as one could think. Because if our system was efficient then, looking at the USSR achievements, we should have achieved a lot more. For example, have solved our problems with interest rates and unemployment.

Why the Western system is inefficient? What are the reasons making it inefficient?


The fact is that despite capitalist myths a planned socialist economy can actually be far more efficient than a free market one. If it wasn't then the war economy that all nations undertook during World War II wouldn't have been necessary. However, because fear and terror were a component of the Stalinist system the planned economy in the USSR was not as efficient as it could have been ie it was not a democratically planned economy based on honest feedback but a bureaucratically planned one based on inflated reports of production. Ultimately, because of the lack of a democratic component it was unable to meet the actual needs of people or the real conditions of society leading to its calcification and collapse. AndyL 04:04, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The USSR did not advance the state of the art in many areas, what it did do was provide a second taken on westenrn mechanisms, the T-10 tank being an example. The methodology in engineering was different as well. Being able to see from the outside provides a good view. --Jirate 04:07, 2005 Mar 26 (UTC)
Like the US at the start of its industrialization, the USSR had a wealth of natural resources to exploit. It had a huge, at the time subsidy, of on the order of $11 billion from lend lease, much of that wealth was still in existance at the end of the war, and the USSR essentially stole it for "free" by refusing its payment obligations, until it settled decades later for a fraction of the amount. It exacted reparations from East Germany, for further financing of its industrial development, and it kept a slave labor force of its "own" population and those of its sattelite states, which had to accept less than market wages because they would be shot if they tried to escape and they could be exploited with little regard for compensating consumer goods, so all the efforts could be focused on heavy industry and the war machine and prestige projects like the space program, and they lied about their production. After the cold war it became clear that the soviet production had always been consistently overstated by the Soviets and overestimated by the west.--Silverback 09:26, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)
That depends on what form of production you're talking about. As is noted in this very article, Western estimates on military production were grossly underestimated. Anyway, this debate is really not appropriate here. Please find a message board and discuss this there. Ryan Anderson 10:29, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Actually, Silverback, much of the increase in production seen in the USSR happened before the war so you can't attribute it to lend-lease or German reparations. AndyL 14:30, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Wasn't most of that production in the west, and destroyed or packed off east of the Urals? Lend lease was clothing, food, trucks, over 18000 planes, over a million tons of various metals and other raw material, etc. It started arriving before the tide of the war turned and arguably made it possible. $11 billion was over half the total annual pre-war production of the US.--Silverback 15:22, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Silverback, Soviet post-war propaganda used to present lend-lease and other allied help as something of a laughable scale. But don't err on the opposite side by overestimating it. Lend lease amounted for about 10-12% of the Soviet own war production. This number is given by western reputable sources and can be easily checked on the web in 5 minutes. Not 4% like presented later by Soviet propaganda, but still 10-12%, while a significant fraction, is what it is: one-tenth. So, it does not answer this question. Maybe part of the answer lies in the relative poverty in the USSR (by western standard).The outcome of the increased production didn't go to people (I mean went to people in a lesser scale than in the west) which allowed the state that had control over everything produced to direct the production and investment into the areas where the SU succeeded or at least became relatively developed (Space, military, education, infrastructure, etc.). HTH, Irpen 18:37, Mar 26, 2005 (UTC)

The help from the West to Soviets during the II WW was important part of the effort. However I am not certain if it was critical for the war. By the time the Western help begun to arrive the Soviets had stopped the German advance at Leningrad and Stalingrad. They had thrown the Germans back from Moscow and the Germans were in retreat (at one stage the Germans could see the Kremlin that how close they got). In other words the Germans were stopped and lost initiative. The war momentum was already turning unfavourably to the Germans. The battle of Kursk, which was the largest tank battle in history, was fought between Panzers, Tigers and T-34s.That battle is seen as the "battle which broke the Germans". After Kursk the German had no chance to regain initiative. So in critical parts of the war the Western help was not visible. By the way T-34 was the best tank of the II WW. Mind you that the US Sherman tank was not a threat to a German Tiger yet T-34 was better than the Tiger - first use of slopped armour plates were in T-34 making the tank about 15 tonnes lighter than the Tiger yet having effectively thicker armour. In the end, the Germans were copying the technological solutions from the Russians not the other way around. In airplanes one has to remember that the German fighter planes were equal or better to the British or American until the P51 Mustang. The war on the Eastern Front was predominantly a land war and the Soviet planes were a lot more resilient to ground machine guns fire than the German fighters (and the British - ask any pilot making recognisance flights in preparations to the invasion of Europe). A feature essential for a plane when you attack ground forces (out of all Mustangs P51 lost during the war, 80% of them were shot down by machine guns ground fire when Mustangs attacked ground targets). So again the Russian's practical sense gave them advantage.

One has to take care when cites the Western help to the Soviets for this simple reason that the package had to get there. Most of the equipment followed a route from the East US to Murmansk, Russian port above the Arctic Circle. The convoys were attacked by U-boats on the way to UK, while crossing the Atlantic. Then, once they sailed around Scottsland, were attacked from German air bases in Norway. The plight of the PQ17 convoy is fairly well known when more than 80% was lost at sea. If you consider that getting the equipment to the front was not always easy the 14 percent sent can easily be reduced to 4-5 percent in action on the Russian front. So surprisingly both sides may be correct.

However the main question: why the Soviets become a leading superpower in such a short time starting at least 100 years behind the West and with enormous obstacles on the way still remains.

This discussion already helped to point out one attribute: the Soviets appear to be more practical. Being practical means that information processing has good feedback from low levels, from the interface representation of reality - reality itself. This leads to less effort and resources needed to achieve good outcome than in the case poor feedback.

For a contrast, Americans have some puzzling examples of impracticality. P51 Mustang was originally an American plane of 1942 design improved by the British and returned to the US for consideration-you guessed it the Americans put it on the shelf until the bombers losses become unsustainable and something had to be done. Another is the Sherman tank- the British put a larger gun making it hell lot more effective against Tiger-you guessed it, the Americans decided to simply ignore that and produce 4 Shermans for one Tiger (3 Shermans were not enough to beat a Tiger). Another example is AK47 versus M16: in a laboratory M16 beats AK47 in every feature, however you take it to a battle field and AK47 becomes a better weapon - again it is more practical.

Perhaps a blind pursue of profit makes the West less practical. The nature (or evolution) clearly tips that "being practical" is the winning solution. After all, 4 Shermans produced more profit than fitting a larger gun to a single tank, not introducing P51 sooner could have brought more profit for the manufactures of bombers and other planes, more sophisticated and more precise M16 could make more profit than simpler and less precise weapon like AK47. The pursue of the profit for the sake of it appear to be a source of resource wastage in Western society. Why then competition does not force a balance between profit and practicality? Chris

The decisions you are criticising are largely beaurocratic rather than capitalistic. Why did the USSR take so many more human losses? I submit it was because Stalin didn't care. His failure to evactuate non-combatants orders to fight rather than withdraw various military units wasted human lives. The failure to allow individual choice appears to be a source of human wastage in communist society.--Silverback 13:04, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The British considered the US wastfull of lives. The US conserderd the British over cautious. One critism I heard was when the British came under fire the dropped back and mortared the position, the US charged in.--Jirate 15:10, 2005 Mar 27 (UTC)
Aggressive strategies can save lives in the long run but at least in the West at least there wasn't the lack of concern displayed in WWI. The West of course deserves some blame for the slaughter in the east since they were more than happy to let Stalin expend lives that weren't his to spend. Stalin had a gift for raising the morale of his people too, shoot the "defeatists".--Silverback 15:36, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I think the US army is still gung ho and fool hardy. If you look at operations like monti casino, not a lot had been learn't. If you look at US operations today the same kind of beleif in aggressive stratergies has just been translated into killing civilians on the opposite side. Tee entire US war philosophy can be described by the reference to meat grinders etc. If the US ever came up against anyone using it's own tactics, it would be crying inhuman immediatly.--Jirate 15:50, 2005 Mar 27 (UTC)

Silverback, Stalin did not care about human lives at all. One could say that he is responsible for 20-40million dead. Shortly before the war he executed large percentage of his field commanders because they wanted to prepare for Germans invasion. He did not allowed for relocation of the Soviet air forces from their permanent bases which was a contributing factor to, that Soviets lost 1000 planes during the first day of the war - on the ground. His decisions were directly responsible for huge defeats in the first few months of the war, notably the battle of Kiev where the Germans took 600,000 POWs. The Germans took so many POWs that they had no chance to feed them hence the horror stories from those times. German propaganda was showing those POWs as sub humans. Mind you that cannibalism was not uncommon among German troops during the battle of Stalingrad - this of course, was hidden from German public.

Huge human losses were not only in Russia. Another nation which suffered huge losses was Poland. 6 million lives were lost which was about 15% of its population. It may indicate that the type of war the Nazi Germany raged was largely contributing to the number of people killed, not just Stalin.

I think your point about the failure to allow individual choice is very valid. The society was not developing in a balanced way. In long term this failure was contributing to the USSR collapse. Apparently the early Bolsheviks believed that small business should stay in private hands and only the larger businesses were to remain state owned. If it was followed through then it would be a mechanism to allow some individual choice. It was Stalin who quashed this idea and, of course, "terminated" those Bolsheviks.

But all this only highlights the need to answer why the Soviets became a leading superpower in such a short time, starting at least 100 years behind the West and with enormous obstacles on the way. The plasma holding vessels for fusion research were proposed by the Soviets. Militarily, for example, Su-35 forced the US to re-think the Raptor (Su-35 is hips cheaper than Raptor), the Apache helicopter we rightly are so proud of, the Soviet had an arguably better version approved for production in 1990 (the collapse stopped it only a few prototypes remain). In microchips they were developing a processor where the signal was sent as a wave on top of the electrical particles. It was estimated to provide minimum 10 to 100 times increase in processor speed with the ability to regulate it (power requirements) - that was when the top computers operated at a few hundred MHz. And of course the space program: the Americans lost the capability to fly to the moon but the space station is in orbit and being developed, some of the long range probes the Americans sent to other planets in the 1990s are using Russian ionic engine technology (probes still in flight).

I think there is a case we could learn something from. We know the bad and horrible part of USSR. Isn't it time to find out the good ones?

Problem is that the "bad" part of the USSR are mostly myths. We have to focus and debunk these myths before we can move onto the good parts. There has been 50 odd some years of Nazi and then Americn propaganda directed towards the USSR.


Fake TOC[edit]

That fake TOC is really really bad. It's highly misleading, as standard Wikipedia behavior is to have TOCs actually correspond to sections, and link only to within the current article. Faking the interface but making it do something different is no good at all. --Delirium 03:07, May 21, 2004 (UTC)

This is the TOC box for the entire article-- a single article consisting of four pages. I does correspond to sections. 172 23:08, 21 May 2004 (UTC)[]
I agree. I just came back to this article and spent four minutes trying to figure out why half of the article sections were missing. And I'm no newbie. This is totally confusing and misleading. And one section doesn't appear in the TOC, demonstrating another problem with this approach.
And there is no such thing as a single article consisting of four pages on Wikipedia. What we have here is History of the Soviet Union up to 1927Michael Z. 2007-07-21 19:04 Z
The article section Soviet Union#History summarizes the topic, and points to this so-called "main article", which only deals with 1/4 of it. Folks, please read Wikipedia:Summary style. How can there be no main article on this very important topic???? Michael Z. 2007-07-21 19:24 Z
I'd say the current article focuses on the first period of post-Revolution Russia, and thus it could be renamed as simply History of Soviet Union (1917-1927). The Russian Civil War needs more work though. --Kuban Cossack 20:47, 21 July 2007 (UTC)[]
That occurred to me, but a problem is dealing with 190 links to "History of the Soviet Union". I'm surprised there are so few, but there should be a summary article for this important topic.
Perhaps the quickest solution is to rename the article, and change the links to Soviet Union#HistoryMichael Z. 2007-07-23 18:23 Z