The Russian Revolution As a Direct and Indirect Cause of Fascism Essay

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The relationship between the Russian Revolution and the rise of fascism is distinct and marked. Both movements were revolutionary in their own way, and both were provoked to a certain extent by a Marxist inspiration. Lenin was one of the leaders of the Russian revolution and he was a committed Marxist. He did not want Russia to participate in any part of the war, but was the one who surrendered to German invasion. When Lenin died, the gap that was left open in his death was quickly taken over by Stalin. Fascism was the outgrowth of a revolution that was meant to create more freedom, justice and equality. This is because the Russian revolution and the nation were vulnerable during this time of transition: this vulnerability meant that someone strategic could have the power to come in and corrupt the policies in place. This paper will explore the nuances, events and changes in and around the Russian revolution that created a space for fascism to thrive.

The Russian Revolution meant that large amounts of people were involved in politics—the times of the majority putting their heads in the sand around politics were long over. As Paxton explains one requisite for fascism was “…mass politics. As a mass movement directed against the Left, fascism could not really exist before the citizenry had become involved in politics.”[footnoteRef:1] The Russian Revolution meant that there were now huge groups of people who were involved in politics, who understood the changes they wanted to see in society and how to articulate them. This meant that fascists had people they could more easily reach out to and manipulate, using the mutual knowledge that they shared. “Unlike conservatives and cautious liberals, fascists never wanted to keep the masses out of politics. They wanted to enlist, discipline and energize them.”[footnoteRef:2] Hence, from a fascist’s point of view the Russian revolution was something that offered an opportunity to initiate the masses into politics.

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Fascists could then approach this now initiated mass and start to mold their way of thinking. [1: Robert O. Paxton and Arthur Morey, The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Knopf DoubleDay Publishing, 2017), 42.] [2: Paxton and Morey, Anatomy, 43.]

The instability of Russia during this era and the fact that “large portions of the middle class were still struggling for the most elementary rights”[footnoteRef:3] was what gave communism a foothold. With that foothold, fascism was able to thrive ultimately as well. As Paxton points out, “Fascism too, has historically been a phenomenon of weak of failed liberal states and belated or damaged capitalist systems rather than of triumphant ones.”[footnoteRef:4] Given the inequality that the existed in Russia at the time (and which had existed there for so long), it was no wonder that capitalism seemed like failed and wayward system, that made the nation ripe for fascist influence. There are echoes of this notion buried in the Communist Manifesto, when it discusses the plight of Modern Industry and how it was turned the worker into a dehumanized slave. This manifesto describes workers crowded into factories, “Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself.”[footnoteRef:5] This was the discontent that pervaded society at the time and that fascism was thus able to gain a foothold in. Existence for most people was grim, and the future looked just as bad or worse. [3: Ibid, 81.] [4: Ibid, 81.] [5: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (2018)]

Discontent was pervasive, the Russian revolution had….....

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Bibliography

Hobsbawm, E. J. The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.

Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. 2018.

Paxton, Robert O., and Arthur Morey. The Anatomy of Fascism. New York: Knopf DoubleDay Publishing, 2017.

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