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The revolutionary career of Viktor Mikhailovich Chernov (1873-1952)

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posted on 2023-05-27, 14:17 authored by Trapeznik, A
Viktor Mikhailovich Chernov (1873-1952) was a Russian revolutionary figure and chief theoretician of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. During the 1890s he led the Populist groups away from a program of anarchism, violence and despair into a closer harmony with the new problems facing Russia at the turn of the century - urbanisation, Marxism and industrialisation. He played a central role in shaping the political perceptions and tactics that came to be the hallmark of 'neopopulism'. Chernov was instrumental in the coalescing of discordant Populist elements into the formation of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and despite splits and seccessions he remained at its helm until its final demise around 1920. He was concerned with the overthrow of autocracy and socialist revolution. He persuaded his fellow party members to accept the existence of an industrial proletariat in Russia and of its revolutionary vanguard role, leading the peasantry as a mass strike force. He argued that the small peasant producers formed part of the working class with a similar interest in socialism to that of the proletariat. Chernov also succeeded in forming an agrarian policy which was summarised in the slogan 'the land belongs to no one and labour alone confers the right to use it'. Virtually all that Chernov wrote between 1899 and 1917, during his long stay in Europe, broken only briefly in 1905, was designed to adapt Western political strategy to the peculiarities of the Russian situation. However, the endeavour, at times, suffered from obvious defects and weaknesses. He took an 'internationalist' stance to the First World War and returned to Russia in April, 1917, and in May, he joined Lvov's Provisional Government as Minister of Agriculture. Chernov proved to be an ineffectual and impotent minister, and he resigned from the Provisional Government in September, 1917. He was powerless to prevent the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks. As leader of the majority party, he was elected president of the Constituent Assembly in January, 1918. Upon its dispersal by the Bolsheviks, he fought a propaganda war on 'two fronts' against the Bolsheviks and the reactionary forces, arguing that the SRs constituted a democratic 'third force'. Harassed by the Cheka, Chernov left Russia in 1920, once again for a long and melancholy exile in the West.


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Copyright 1988 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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