Наука. Общество. Оборона

2020. Т. 9. № 1

2311-1763

Online ISSN

Science. Society. Defense

2020. Vol. 9. № 1


Online First

УДК: 94(4):327(477) «1917/1920»

DOI: 10.24411/2311-1763-2021-10273

Поступила в редакцию: 14.01.2021 г.

Опубликована: 28.02.2021 г.

Submitted: January 14, 2021

Published online: February 28, 2021 


Для цитирования: Soldatenko V. F. The revolutionary era of 1917 – 1920 in the fate of the people of Ukraine: historical experience in assessing modern historiographic concepts. Наука. Общество. Оборона. Москва. 2021;9(1). DOI: 10.24411/2311-1763-2021-10273.

For citation: Soldatenko V. F. The revolutionary era of 1917 – 1920 in the fate of the people of Ukraine: historical experience in assessing modern historiographic concepts. Nauka. Obŝestvo. Oborona = Science. Society. Defense. Moscow. 2021;9(1). DOI: 10.24411/2311-1763-2021-10273.

Конфликт интересов: Ранее опубликовано на русском языке: в журнале «Гілея» (Киев. 2019. Вып. 148 (№9). С. 78–89) и в сокращённом виде в журнале «Россия в эпоху революций и реформ. Проблемы истории и историографии» (СПб. 2019. Т. 7. С. 285–302).

Conflict of Interest: Previously published in Russian: in the journal "Gіleya" (Kiev. 2019. Vol. 148 (№9). pp. 78–89) and in abbreviated form in the journal "Rossiya v epokhu revolyutsiy i reform. Problemy istorii i istoriografii" (2019. T. 7. pp. 285–302).

HISTORIOGRAPHY

Review

The revolutionary era of 1917 – 1920 in the fate of the people of Ukraine: historical experience in assessing modern historiographic concepts

Valeriy F. Soldatenko 1, 2

Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies Ivan Kuras NAS of Ukraine, 

Kiev, Ukraine

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2435-1123, e-mail: soldatenko.v.f@gmail.com 

 Abstract:

On the basis of the analysis of the dominant historiographical tendencies, an attempt was made to identify the coinciding and different approaches in the concepts of the Great Russian Revolution and the Ukrainian National-Democratic Revolution, to substantiate the role of the Ukrainian factor in the all-Russian revolutionary process of 1917–1920. Previously published in Russian: in the journal "Gіleya" (Kiev. 2019. Vol. 148 (№9). pp. 78–89) and in abbreviated form in the journal "Rossiya v epokhu revolyutsiy i reform. Problemy istorii i istoriografii" (2019. T. 7. pp. 285–302).

 

Keywords: 

 historiography, concepts, Ukrainian revolution, Ukrainian factor, Great Russian revolution, Civil war, social and national aspects of social processes

INTRODUCTION

 

In the ongoing search for optimal version of modern holistic concept of Ukrainian history (I think it is still far from at least an intermediate positive conclusion), many contradictions, essential doubts and questions are revealed.

 

Thus, revolutions, as an immanent progressive method of social development, are quite often denied altogether, or are resolutely condemned. A lot of effort is spent on proving that none other than revolutionaries are guilty of the shed seas of blood, rivers of tears, innumerable people's suffering and disasters.

 

Having paid a lot of attention to comprehending revolutionary phenomena over many decades of research, the author of this essay has invariably sought to focus on scientific theoretical approaches and criteria. One of the defining factors in this has always been a universal, constructive system of coordinates based on real historical knowledge, in which the evolutionary and revolutionary ways of solving social problems were perceived and interpreted as equally full-fledged natural vectors of the historical step. And no matter how abstractly preferable a comparatively more painless and low-conflict evolutionary vector may seem, one must be aware that a revolutionary option becomes inevitable if there are no satisfactory answers to the challenges of the time in the first direction, the resolution of pressing contradictions turns out to be impossible. It is equally important to adhere to the principle of concrete historical analysis in the study and fundamental assessment of reconstructed revolutionary events [1–9].

 

THREE REVOLUTIONARY EXPLOSIONS

 

Based on the ideas about the essence of social revolutions, as a historically determined breakdown of the previously dominant political foundations, an explosive break in evolutionary gradualness, qualitative leaps in life progress, in the history of Ukraine, three major, most radical shifts can be distinguished, including, and perhaps above all – in the national-state segment.

 

The first – in the middle of 17th century, the second – in 1917–1920 and the third – at the turn of the 80s – 90s of 20th century.

 

The revolutionary outburst of 1648–1654, most visibly manifested in the national liberation war, was directed against the brutal Polish national and religious oppression, oppression of Orthodoxy, the forcible imposition of Catholicism, the erection of barriers in the development of national culture, language, education. The main goal of the struggle was the conquest of state independence and conciliarity (unity) of Ukraine. All this was layered on overcoming the contradictions in socio-economic life: the emergence, in contrast to the archaic feudal order, a fundamentally new model of relations, characteristic of the new era. In the complex, events of the middle of 17th century in Ukraine quite "fit" into the parameters, typology of national, libertalist revolutions.

 

The cornerstones of the four-year program of the national-democratic revolution of 1917–1920, which was woven into other revolutionary processes, were the most important goals - the revival of the nation, the creation of its own state, ensuring its independence, sovereignty, conciliarity, the achievement of true people's rights, deep social transformations, full-blooded Ukrainization of all spheres of public life. Despite the defeat, symbols, ideals of the revolution were inspiring landmarks, meanings for subsequent generations of fighters – patriots.of Ukraine.

 

Content, significance, results of deep movements that began in Ukraine at the turn of the 80s – 90s of the last century and continuing now, can also rightfully be classified as revolutionary. It is, first of all, about the achievement of national-state independence by Ukraine, the creation of all the necessary prerequisites for accelerating and completing the process of forming a modern political nation (as a rule, in world experience, this is the task and essence of national liberation revolutions), a radical change in property relations, structure property (the core of most social revolutions), a revolution in the entire political system (an indispensable condition for every revolution). Such qualifications can be projected on the transformation in international guidelines, in the ideological, spiritual, legal spheres of social life.

 

In chronologically quite remote from each other revolutionary phenomena, one can see something in common, defining – the desire to give answers to the challenges of the time, to overcome the antagonistic contradictions that have arisen, to reach a higher level of opportunities for the disclosure and implementation of accumulated potentials, to "break out" to broader horizons of creative creation, embodiment into the practice of new civilizational frontiers of social, national, spiritual progress.

 

“Along the way” it is worth recalling the remaining more rhetorical questions: Could Ukraine have achieved in another way, that is, in an evolutionary, reformist way, what the three mentioned revolutions brought it? Is it possible to compare the pace, scale, qualitative characteristics of the progressive step of Ukrainians over the centuries and decades of smooth, unhurried drift with transformations and achievements in short stages of revolutionary "assaults"?..

 

However, it is much more important to try to find reasoned, as far as possible, the most convincing answers, keeping in mind that only a systemic, comprehensive, unbiased analysis can help to approach objective conclusions regarding extremely important, critical, truly fateful milestones in Russian history.

 

ABOUT THE CONCEPTS OF THE GREAT RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN REVOLUTIONS

 

Perhaps the most difficult questions arise when analyzing modern historiography, dedicated to clarifying the role of revolutionary factors, phenomena in the life of the people of Ukraine in 1917–1920.

 

Realizing the impossibility of a detailed analysis of the available huge layer of historical works, it seems justified, within the limited publication limit, to touch mainly on one, but undoubtedly the most important aspect – the objective "collision" of two practically polar points of view, approaches, and positions that have appeared in recent years. It is about the scientific interpretation of revolutionary events in one of the largest national regions – Ukraine.

 

In the Russian Federation in connection with the centenary of the revolutionary upheavals of 1917 there was a real boom of publications, a significant, perhaps even dominant, which took place in work, justifying and promoting the concept of the Great Russian Revolution. [10–14]

 

One of its fundamental components is the denial (in a milder version – doubt) of the presence in the historical experience of national revolutions, primarily Ukrainian. What happened in the largest and most developed in the economic and political national region is qualified as a harmful separatist destruction that destroyed an integral centralized state, the preservation of which is seen as one of the main goals and basic values of Russia's modernization. In a certain sense, the final two-volume edition of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences "The Russian Revolution of 1917: Power, Society, Culture" [15].

 

Having taken the position of ideological and professional confrontation (probably not by chance in the year of the centenary of the scientific publications, in any case, there were practically no noticeable publications devoted to the Russian revolution in Ukraine), Ukrainian historians tried a lot in advance to prove that the events of 1917–1920 in the region were fundamentally different from the processes that filled life at that time in the provinces of Central Russia. Resolutely ignoring the facts of interdependence and mutual influence between the October Revolution ("coup") and the process of national-state self-determination in Ukraine, allegedly embodying fundamentally divergent social vectors, it is emphasized that they separated the political center of the country and the outskirts not just on different sides of the barricades, but and scattered on different, irreconcilable front lines, on which the bloody extermination of neighboring nations took place ("Ukrainian-Russian", "Ukrainian-Bolshevik" wars). It is declared that there were no serious internal contradictions in Ukraine (in particular, on ideological grounds) and this a priori excluded the Civil War, and the colossal victims of 1917–1920 were the result of unprovoked aggression by the "northern neighbor". Such positions are most consistently and fully carried out in the two-volume essay of the Institute of the History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, dedicated to the Ukrainian revolution [16].

 

The author's recent monograph [17] was a kind of reflection on opposing tendencies.

 

Continuing to reflect on the aggravated problems in historiography that lead the representatives of one – "the historical workshop of two countries" – to opposite, polar positions, it seems possible and necessary to pay additional attention to some, mainly historical and theoretical, aspects.

 

The starting point and the most basic point of public dispute – was there a Ukrainian revolution at all? Is this not an idle fiction of historians inclined to opportunism? Is the term itself legitimate at all?..

 

The phrase "Ukrainian revolution" appeared already in spring of 1917, it was widely used in programmatic and other political documents of national parties [18–22], in the ideological lexicon of that time. It meant a fairly fast, almost lightning-fast transformation of the explosively surging national liberation movement into such a scale, qualitative characteristics, and the consequences that involved almost the majority of an actively minded national community, representatives of all its strata, into their force field, were marked by essential shifts in all spheres of life Ukrainians, including in the matter of national self-determination, revival of statehood, spiritual and cultural progress.

 

It was in this understanding that its leaders, who became its first historians, perceived and propagated ideas and experience of the Ukrainian revolution [23–28]. Their works appeared mainly outside the borders of Soviet Ukraine. However, in the first post-revolutionary decade, many Soviet historians also resorted to the term and its corresponding filling [29–34].

 

But since the beginning of the 30s this term in its original meaning has disappeared from domestic publications, identifying the phenomena and processes it implies with the bourgeois-nationalist counter-revolution.

 

At the turn of the 80s – 90s of the last century in Ukraine, works of M.Grushevsky, V.Vynnychenko, S.Petlyura, D.Doroshenko, I.Mazepa, other diaspora and foreign historians began to be reprinted, dissertations began to be defended (their count went to hundreds), numerous books and articles to be published in which the events of 1917–1920 considered from the point of view of the Ukrainian revolution. At the same time, the negative aspects of an uncritical attitude towards sources that bore the stamp of the ideological struggle of previous decades appeared very soon: the absolutization of the national aspect, exaggeration of the significance of national-statist aspirations while neglecting social factors, the realities of class, intra-national conflicts [35–38] (1). Ignoring other, interrelated, partly parallel development of social processes led, in particular, to the fact that the entire period of 1917–1920 began to be called time, historical stage, the era of the Ukrainian revolution, as well as to name the corresponding topics of educational programs and textbooks [39; 40].

 

Not being limited by the desire to extol the regularity and significance of the Ukrainian revolution in all possible ways, in parallel, persistent attempts were made to present the meaning and content of the Russian revolution in a completely different way. Perhaps the most active is S. Kulchitskiy, who is the author of both special monographic works [41; 42] and collective publications, including the sections in the above-mentioned essays [43; 44, p. 7–20].

 

The essence of the approach is presented in this extremely categorical way. "...The Soviets are a phenomenon of the Russian revolution, although they politically manifested themselves in the Ukrainian revolution," says one of the works. “On the shoulders of the Soviets, the Russian Bolsheviks came to power and, with the help of a hastily created organization of the Chekists, destroyed all their political rivals and competitors. After that, the Leninist party left only a shell of the soviets, turning them into a helpless appendage of its own dictatorial power.

 

Under these conditions, the Bolsheviks found it easy to use the two-pronged structure of power, called the Soviet, in order to replace national states on the outskirts of the former Russian Empire with puppet Soviet states. They strangled the people's revolution, which had been developing since 1917 in two alternative forms - democratic and Soviet, in order to replace it with their own, Communist Party “revolution from above” ” [45, p. 5].

 

According to the invented scheme (let's leave the analysis and assessment of its essence "out of brackets"), even a research structure is built that presupposes an artificial effect – the social and national revolutions should not "intersect", they cannot even touch - for "greater persuasiveness" their history should be recreated not only in different, non-contiguous sections, but also in different volumes [44,  p. 7–20; 46, p. 412–499].

 

Against this background, three main tendencies were most visible.

 

  1. A certain part of scientists (both Ukraine and Russia) believed that in this case, the role of the national revolution in general is exaggerated, up to mythologization [47], that it is much more justified to speak only about one or another, even if significant, specificity of development in Ukraine. The October revolutions, however, do not give sufficient grounds to take the events in Ukraine as a separate, special revolutionary stream – a phenomenon [48]. Therefore, it is more reasonable to limit ourselves to their qualification as additional unique manifestations of the all-Russian process, all-Russian collisions and shocks [49–51].
  2. Another part of the experts tried to prove that in fact the picture was completely different. The Ukrainian revolution was not at all a manifestation of all-Russian battles and advances. By and large, it took shape, became a historical reality because, formally speaking, it “did not fit” into the standards, the contours of the Russian revolution, in orientations, programs, specific actions, it significantly went (because it was forced to do so) beyond their borders [52]. The historian V. Verstyuk developed his views most consistently and continues to develop in this direction [53; 54]. One of the arguments by some researchers even put forward a territorial (administrative-geographical) factor – since the context of the Ukrainian revolution included events in the Western Ukrainian lands that were part of Austria-Hungary until November 1918, then this, they say, brought the national revolution from its introduction to the all-Ukrainian processes "outside" the Russian revolution [55, pp. 46–79].
  3. Some historians, responding to the obvious exaggeration of the national moment, the national idea, the national cause by the majority of Ukrainian researchers, considered it necessary to take into account the social component of the concept of the Ukrainian revolution, the orientation towards the people's legal (doctrically close to socialist) state-political models, their organic relationship with the desire to realize the national interest and the simultaneous interconnection and dependence on processes and events in the revolutionary centers of the country, which gave impetus and direction to events and shifts mainly in the social segments of life [56–61]. 

 

Perhaps the last semantic trend turned out to be relatively less represented in the historiographic stream. It is substantively supported by authors who are more engaged in the study of the historical and party problems of the period and inevitably turn to the really existing effect of the interweaving of facts and events on a political cut [62–66].

 

Despite its scarcity, it turned out that it was publications of this kind (approach, content, character) that at a certain stage were the real "logical bridge" on which the positions of Ukrainian and Russian studies began to converge from different sides, and the achievements of Ukrainian historians were recognized [67–70] and used in Moscow and St. Petersburg editions of Russian authors [71–74].

 

There were outlined paths (logical threads) to the synthesis of knowledge – points of view, approaches, which indicated a positive effect for both (conditionally – Kiev and Moscow) parties. However, not having time to develop and gain a foothold, potentially fruitful and promising undertakings faced the negative impact of the political environment. The bias towards national centrism, which has significantly increased in Ukraine since 2005, created deliberately favorable conditions for those who, in spite of everything, put the Ukrainian factor at the fore. Taking advantage of the situation, the supporters of the confrontation with Russian historiography did a lot to prove: everything, or at least everything important, the main thing that happened in Ukraine and with Ukraine in 1917–1920, was different, different from the all-Russian, more precisely – Great Russian, bringing the image of understandable natural features and peculiarities to the level of intrinsic value, self-sufficiency.

 

It is difficult to judge with all certainty, but it is possible with a high degree of probability to assume that such a turn had its effect on the newest conceptual approaches of Russian colleagues, in a sense, psychologically influenced the meaning and content of the response. As a result, the divergent vectors syndrome created a situation close to a stalemate, in any case, intractable in the short term.

 

In striving for a positive result, which seems possible and achievable only on the path of mutual understanding, interested conscious movement towards a joint agreed (consolidated) version of the fundamental vision of the essence of the processes of the revolutionary era in Ukraine, it seems necessary to carry out a scientific restoration of the historical picture from the standpoint of objectivity, trust in provability, persuasiveness. This means, first of all, an adequate perception of the Ukrainian revolution as a vital reality generated by the action of a combination of objective and subjective factors. These include:

 

- The desire of the Ukrainian elite, supported by a significant part of the ethnos, its politically active elements, to resolve the national question, to provide conditions for the revival of the nation, its full development in all spheres of its existence.

 

- Ukrainian political parties were the initiators, inspirers, organizers of the national democratic revolution. Having originated at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, they achieved the greatest strength, number, influence after the overthrow of the autocracy, the democratization of life in the country. By the end of 1917, there were already at least 100 thousand people in their ranks, and during the entire revolutionary era there were 33 parties in the Dnieper region and 9 more in the Western region. In their names, they necessarily contained the element "Ukrainian", thus emphasizing the central, primary goal of their activities – the solution of the Ukrainian question, the embodiment and protection of the national interest. The Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labor Party, and the Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Federalists enjoyed special authority and support.

 

- Ukrainian political parties during 1917–1920 together with other mass public and other national organizations created two centers of revolutionary action, mainly with coordinating and directing functions – the Central Rada (March 1917) and the Directory (November 1918), which, with the development of events, emerging needs, a leading role in the public-national life, and with the formation of statehood – in state building and management.

 

- The political elite of the nation offered the masses a scientifically grounded concept of the Ukrainian revolution (the main role here belonged to a prominent scientist – historian M. Hrushevsky). Its main components were the active support of the processes of comprehensive democratization of public life that began after the overthrow of the autocracy, involving the achievement of popular rule (a democratic republic), the decentralization of the former empire and the creation of a federal democratic republic of Russia, in which Ukraine, like other administrative-territorial entities that arose on the ruins of the former "Prisons of peoples", would have received the status of national-territorial autonomy.

 

The proposed strategy was almost unanimously officially supported by the Ukrainian National Congress (congress) on April 6–8, 1917, in which about a thousand envoys – elected from all regions with a predominantly Ukrainian population (nine provinces – Podolsk, Volyn, Kiev, Chernigov, Poltava, Kharkov, Yekaterinoslav, Kherson and Tauride (mainland districts, without Crimea)). At that time, the demands of the state independence of Ukraine were not supported, since the absolute minority of the national politicum adhered to them.

 

- The proposed and approved strategy, although not without difficulty, more external resistance, began to be implemented. Naturally, with the change of circumstances, she could not remain unchanged. At a certain stage of the revolutionary step, the answer to new political demands was the task of giving Ukrainian statehood an independent, independent status.

 

It so happened that after a significant upsurge, the Ukrainian revolution experienced a deep crisis and a rollback from the positions it had won, the offensive of reaction, personified by the hetman regime, an attempt to restore the pre-February social order. However, the nation did not accept "conservative" – counterrevolutionary projects, at the call of the leaders of the Ukrainian revolution rose to an anti-hetman uprising (sometimes called the Second Ukrainian Revolution), overthrew the authoritarian-monarchical rule, based on the occupying Austro-German armed forces.

 

The new conditions required a new adjustment of the program of the revolution. It was developed by V. Vinnichenko, and approved by the Labor Congress of Ukraine on January 23–28, 1919. Its essence consisted in the creation in Ukraine of the Republic of the Working People on the basis of labor councils (without representation of exploiting elements) and the achievement of peaceful relations, an alliance with Soviet Russia " to fight against the world bourgeoisie”.

 

- Hundreds of thousands and millions of Ukrainians, as well as representatives of other nationalities, rallied under the slogans and banners of the national democratic revolution, demonstrating a desire to achieve their goals and proving this by the practice of active participation in events. Thus, at the call of the Directory to revolt for the revival of the revolutionary conquests in November-December 1918, more than 300 thousand volunteers, mainly peasants and former soldiers, joined the insurgent army. In other periods, the military formations of the Ukrainian revolution numbered tens of thousands of people, forming confrontation fronts with other revolutionary streams and camps.

 

- Among the immediate results and achievements of the Ukrainian revolution was the revival of Ukrainian statehood: on November 7, 1917, the Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed as an integral (autonomous) part of the Russian Federal Republic. This became one of the largest conquests, the apogee of the Ukrainian revolution [75; 76].

 

The creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic marked the realization of a fundamental historical pattern. With deep historical roots, strong traditions, original customs and achievements, rich culture and spirituality, their own language, the Ukrainian people for centuries languished under social and national oppression.

 

Over the centuries of oppression and exploitation, the ethnos has accumulated a gigantic liberating potential of protest, a natural striving for freedom, will, an irrepressible striving to choose the perspective and manage social life. Therefore, from the first days of the February Revolution, the Ukrainians joined the social process of democratic reforms as a powerful stream, making a significant contribution to the irreversibility of the begun reorganization of society.

 

The core, the defining content of the Ukrainian revolution was the struggle to achieve a magnificent goal – the revival of the Ukrainian nation in all, without exception, manifestations of its existence - economic, political, statist, spiritual. The leaders of the Ukrainian cause believed that a full-scale solution to such a problem was inconceivable without its organic linking with urgent social transformations in favor of the absolute majority of the nation – the working people. It was in this that the deep democratic meaning of the started struggle was seen, and it also determined the essential content and character of the national revolution.

 

And the first, undoubtedly, the most difficult historically conditioned and decisive, fateful step was taken in the national revolutionary impulse.

 

- The formation of the Ukrainian People's Republic became that starting base, a solid platform on which subsequent actions and advances took place – the proclamation of Ukraine as an independent, independent, free, sovereign state of the Ukrainian people, the annexation of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic to the Dnieper Ukraine in January 1919.

 

For the first time in many centuries, the people had the opportunity to name their homeland, the conquered statehood – the republic – by their own, Ukrainian name. With this name, the revived statehood appeared before the whole world and has never disappeared from the political arena as a subject of international life.

 

- Proclaiming the establishment of Soviet power in Ukraine, the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies (December 1917) retained its official name – the Ukrainian People's Republic. Paying tribute to the extremely important and popular idea of the federal reorganization of Russia at that time, the envoys of the Soviets of Ukraine unanimously declared that Soviet Ukraine was becoming a federal part of the Russian republic, of course, a Soviet, socialist one.

It should obviously be taken into account that the territory of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, up to 1939, was determined by the boundaries outlined in the documents of the Ukrainian People's Republic at the time of its birth.

 

Therefore, the Ukrainian Revolution, the Ukrainian People's Republic deserve to be recognized as extremely important, turning-point and starting historical milestones in the life of the Ukrainian people, occupying a special place in their consciousness and national memory.

 

SOCIAL AND NATIONAL COMPONENTS OF THE POLITICAL STRUGGLE

 

Naturally, the implementation of the basic outlines and parameters of the concept of the Ukrainian revolution, briefly recreated above in general form, in a concrete approximation turned out to be a very difficult matter, and the calculations and conclusions of the leaders were not always justified. This was especially evident in the context of relations with all-Russian processes.

 

- In this regard, it is extremely important not to limit ourselves to the historical reconstruction of events in the region that fall under the concept of the Ukrainian revolution. Indeed, here, as in a constituent part of Russia (at least – until January-March 1918), processes developed, the impulses of which emanated mainly from Petrograd. And here, the tendencies of the social revolution were fully embodied, which somewhat earlier were usually qualified as the transition from the bourgeois democratic revolution to the socialist one, the defense of the latter's gains in the Civil War. Moreover, the scale and intensity of revolutionizing social processes in Ukraine often exceeded (and sometimes seriously) the analogous values in other regions. For example, the growth rate of the most radical force – the Bolsheviks in 1917 in Ukraine was twice as high as the all-Russian indicators. The proportion of Bolshevized Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies turned out to be much larger in the fall – winter of 1917. Due to objective factors, a relatively higher number, degree of concentration and social activity of the proletarian Left Bank, outstripping the aggravation of contradictions on the "distant" – Southwestern and Romanian fronts and in the front-line zone, including due to the looming crisis in relations with the Polish landowners of the Right Bank – in Ukraine as a whole, the gravitation towards socialist ideas and their immediate implementation was undoubtedly relatively stronger than in other national regions and in many Great Russian provinces.

 

- Naturally, these tendencies were not only quite serious organic components of the all-Russian processes, but the further, the more, especially after October 1917, they came into conflict with the course of the Ukrainian revolution, whose leadership entered the path of confrontation with the new Petrograd government. Awkward attempts to give them a foreign policy coloration (Ukrainian-Russian) "sin" with bias, elementarily at odds with the facts. The appeals to the “fifth column”, which are called the Russian or Russified proletariat of Donbass and the industrial Left Bank, are not “saved” either. Did the inhabitants of the region cease to be citizens of the same Ukraine by the time of the revolution, and in the overwhelming majority in the second or third generation? And for the sake of objectivity, it should be admitted that the main cause of the Civil War was the internal split in the Ukrainian society, which reached its climax by the beginning of December 1917, which soon grew into large-scale military operations. This gives reason to believe that it was then that the first salvoes of the Civil War in Ukraine were fired, which lasted for another three long years, which brought numerous victims and devastation.

 

The fact remains that the supporters of Soviet power in Ukraine for all three years relied on moral and material (including military) support, the help of the RSFSR, which largely predetermined the outcome of the struggle for power in Ukraine.

 

An important role was played by the fact that the Soviet government in Ukraine and in Russia consistently defended the interests of the main, predominant mass of the people – the working strata. In addition to the social policy oriented towards them, the supporters of the socialist revolution proposed and implemented a constructive national policy, which was based on the equality of nations and the expectation of their cooperation and mutual assistance. If, however, in this delicate, sensitive area, mistakes and mistakes were made, as, for example, in 1919, the leadership of the Communist Party found ways to respond quickly, adjusting the course, taking into account national sentiments and interests.

 

- The most important point for the essential and terminological designation experienced by Ukraine in 1917–1920 historical period is the fact that, in addition to the above-mentioned really unfolding Russian and Ukrainian revolutions, the events in the region were also greatly influenced by the November (1918) revolution in Germany, the revolutionary collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the fall of the same year, the liberation (national-democratic) revolution in the Western Ukrainian lands (Eastern Galicia, Northern Bukovina and Transcarpathia), which led to the formation of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic, the revolution of the spring of 1919 in Hungary. Taking these circumstances into account speaks in favor of the fact that the definition of "Ukraine in the revolutionary era of 1917–1920" is more rational and adequate to the actual state of affairs. (as an option – "The revolutionary era of 1917–1920 in Ukraine") or other options in the indicated logic.

 

- Returning to the internal Ukrainian tendencies, it is fundamentally important to pay due attention to the transformations that the Ukrainian political parties have gone through, primarily the most influential of them – the Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionaries and Ukrainian Social Democrats in 1917–1920. As a result of fermentation, vacillation, splits, delimitations, their most active, business-like elements (parts) emerged from their midst, evolving to communist positions, forming national-communist parties – the Ukrainian Communist Party (Borotbists) and the Ukrainian Communist Party. Having entered into an agreement with the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine, having turned into government entities, it was they who predetermined the vector and filling with a new content-orientation of the Ukrainian revolution in 1919–1920 – transformation of the originally proper national-democratic revolution into a national-socialist one. The masses who followed in the same channel, at least their critical majority, finally tipped the political choice in favor of the ideas and camp of the socialist revolution.

 

THE UKRAINIAN FACTOR AND THE ALL-RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS 

 

The crystallized and the above scheme-plot of the development of revolutionary events in Ukraine, based on real facts, documents in their unbiased, unbiased interpretation with the help of scientific methodology, reliable research logic, today seems to be approaching objective and constructive, can quite organically "fit" into the concept of the Great Russian Revolution. At the same time, it is important to emphasize once again that the consideration of the problem should be carried out not only along the line of the Russian revolution – the Ukrainian revolution (this, as can be seen from the above, although important, but still only part of the complex political, social spectrum). It may be preferable, more productive to talk about the place and role of the Ukrainian factor in the all-Russian processes, as well as their interconnection, mutual influence [77; 78].

 

Of course, at different stages, the aforementioned effect of individual components of the Ukrainian factor (in some understanding and measurement of the Ukrainian issue) was unequal, changeable, “pulsating”. So, for a long time, the leadership of the Ukrainian revolution tried to prove to the Provisional Government that it is a loyal ally of the Russian government in democratizing public life in the country, which must be a component of obligatory progress in resolving the national question. When the very limited, modest proposals of the Ukrainians (the promise of introducing territorial autonomy) were followed only by refusals and threats from official Petrograd, experiencing powerful mass pressure from the "lower classes", the Central Rada went on to proclaim the autonomy of Ukraine (of course, without breaking away from Russia). This move caused a stir in the ruling circles. On an emergency basis, 4 out of 12 ministers of the Provisional Government who made up the then cabinet (i.e., the third part) went to Kiev for negotiations. The aim was to muffle the possible resonance from the "daring initiative" emanating from the largest national region, perceived as the most dangerous (even treacherous) step aimed at splitting the country, and even in the context of the ongoing war.

 

Certain concessions (in essence – legalization of the actions of the Central Rada and the General Secretariat) made by the Provisional Government to save the situation are very convincing and indicative evidence of the objective introduction of the Ukrainian problem into the highest political, state orbit of the moment, which had difficult consequences for the revolutionary dynamics as a whole.

A vivid proof of the leading role of Ukrainian figures in the national movements of the whole country was the Congress of the (formerly "non-state" – "oppressed") peoples of Russia on September 8–15, 1917 in Kiev.

 

The unwillingness, as well as the inability of the Provisional Government to objectively assess the strength, scale of the Ukrainian revolution, attempts to oppose it in every possible way, led to the fact that on critical days for the Russian Republic (late October – early November 1917) the Central Rada in one of the most important the whole country of the points of confrontation (Kiev) at first took a neutral position between supporters and opponents of the socialist revolution, and then considered it expedient to abandon interaction with military formations that remained loyal to the Provisional Government, calmly observing their "exodus" to the Don, or even considering it as the relaxation of the conflict, which promises to facilitate her way to power.

 

There are many examples of Ukrainian factors influence (in the person of the Ukrainian revolution) on the course and breaks of the Russian revolution. Among those that had very serious consequences were the upheavals at the Brest Peace Conference, the treaties signed on behalf of the Central Rada, which had a most serious impact on development of the pan-European revolutionary crisis and led to considerable complications in the position of RSFSR, in prolongation of the socialist revolution.

 

And in the spring of 1919, the army of the Ukrainian People's Republic became an obstacle to the implementation of the emerging plans for the formation of a chain of Soviet republics – RSFSR – Ukrainian SSR – Hungarian Soviet Republic, which assumed spread of socialist revolutions to the West.

 

Naturally, the Ukrainian factor made itself felt in another dimension, in particular, in the formation of a united front in the struggle against the forces of internal and external counterrevolution. This was especially effective after the formation of the Military-Political Union of Soviet Republics (June 1, 1919). The latter's assets include joint victories over the White Guard troops of A. Denikin and V. Wrangel, Polish interventionists, Petliura formations and anarcho-insurgency.

 

Obviously, a clear underestimation of the potentials and real actions of just such a (cumulative) Ukrainian factor is its interpretation, which is being formed today, in the concept of the Great Russian Revolution. Only one of the social flows in the region is taken into account – the national liberation one (which actually existed and quite powerful, partly with an increasing anti-Great Russian component). Therefore, there is a negative attitude towards the Ukrainian revolution, as well as towards other national revolutions.

 

Most likely, this position is the embodiment of a one-sided approach and can (yes, indeed, it should) be adjusted. The direction of the necessary clarifications and changes is already visible today quite transparently. So, within the framework of a special Project, implemented under the auspices of the North-West Branch of the Scientific Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences "History of Social Reforms, Movements and Revolutions", a content analysis of the responses of 25 prominent Russian and foreign historians to the question: What impact did the "national question "on the outcome of the civil war in Russia? (naturally, it can be projected with good reason on the question of the role of the national question in the fate of the Great Russian Revolution). 14 researchers gave the answer: "Very important", 7 – "Relatively unimportant", and 3 formulated other, their own considerations [79, pp. 11–183, 192, 244–248].

 

It should be noted that in the last three answers, in essence, they also support, although more with an emphasis on a differentiated regional approach, the idea of the great importance of the national question [79, pp. 247–248]. However, 4 out of 7 who chose the answer "Relatively unimportant" did so with various reservations, recognizing the importance of the national issue at least in part, or under certain conditions, at certain stages [79, pp. 246–247]. And only three respondents gave a categorical answer "Relatively unimportant" without explanation [79, p. 247].

 

The conclusion of the scientist who carried out the content analysis, a prominent specialist on the problems of the period V. Kalashnikov, is justified and convincing in all respects: “Most authors consider the national question a very important factor – one of those that determined the outcome of the Civil War all noted the advantages of the national program of the Bolsheviks in comparison with the program of the white movement. At the same time, a number of authors saw these advantages not only for achieving a military victory over the enemy, but also for recreating a multinational federal state from parts of the disintegrated Russian Empire” [79, p. 248].

 

The above conclusions and considerations, summarizing the results of serious research, based on a real research base, indicate that the revolution in Russia, inhabited mainly by non-Russian peoples and nationalities, was great and victorious also because in the difficult contradictory revolutionary struggles the vectors of most streams at the end the ends came close and coincided. And this happened to a decisive extent because social and national interests and factors, aspirations of the majority of residents of the center and periphery, the outskirts of Russia, converged on a common denominator.

 

It seems that taking into account the above point of view can at least to some extent affect the "reconciliation" and coordination of the concepts of the Great Russian and Ukrainian revolutions. The historiographic effect seems to be undeniable, capable of benefiting the scientific comprehension of one of the most complex and confusing problems of our common past.

 

CONCLUSION. ACTUAL HISTORIOGRAPHIC PROBLEMS

 

Summarizing the above conclusions and assessments to the level of several lapidary, most important, key considerations, which in a certain sense can be considered both as a generalized result of the research work carried out, and as emerging proposals (of course, of a subjective nature) for further comprehension, substantiation of conceptual foundations of very difficult conflicting pages of historical experience at one of its turning points, one can conclude:

 

  • In the context of the increasingly influential concept of the Great Russian Revolution, it seems promising to deepen, concretize the study of diverse and multidimensional events in the national regions of the country, in particular, in Ukraine, focus on additional substantive assessment (maybe a certain revaluation) of the so-called, but completely not a formal or secondary and insignificant, Ukrainian factor in the all-Russian revolutionary processes. It is required to find a reasonably balanced, scientifically verified assessment of the contribution of the population of the largest national region, together with other societies, to the social progress of the whole country, which, in fact, constituted the essential core, the ideological orientation of the Great Russian Revolution, became an integral part of its development and, ultimately the result, a successful implementation.
  • Developing and improving the scientific plot of the Ukrainian revolution, it would probably be logical, it would be advisable to make efforts to reveal the real correlation, the combination of social and national components of the then social life, to substantively understand the relationship and interdependence of the development of events in the center of Russia in retrospective reconstructions of the difficult past and on the periphery, in Ukraine. The most important task is to comprehend, in all its complexity and multidimensionality, the degree of influence of national liberation tendencies, national-state aspirations, self-determined actions caused by them on the revival of national life in conditions of an incredible aggravation of the class struggle and cardinal socio-economic, political changes, and an increase in the level of public consciousness. It is necessary to develop a scientific qualification, adequate to the experienced experience, of the obvious achievements, gains of the national democratic revolution, while objectively taking into account the remaining unresolved problems, miscalculations, shortcomings, mistakes, failures and final defeat. A certain correction of the general view of the essence and assessment of the Ukrainian revolution can be counted on with a constructive desire to "fit" the national phenomenon as organically as possible into the outline of the European revolutionary tendencies and upheavals that filled the era.
  • It seems quite rational to apply the indicated approaches to overcome the existing disagreements regarding the perception and interpretation of the Civil War – on the one hand, a derivative of revolutionary cataclysms, and on the other, having very essential, characteristic differences. It is hardly justified, in particular, to once again resort to schemes rooted in the theory of classlessness and bourgeoisness of the Ukrainian nation, long debunked and refuted by real facts. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to get away from the relapses of one-sided, selective interpretations of such phenomena as foreign aggression and occupation, which are firmly intertwined with the Civil War. At the same time, special attention should be focused on military statistics, careful consideration in each separate armed action, campaign of the ratio of foreign, foreign military contingents and participants in heterogeneous processes from local citizens, that is, external and internal subjective factors.
  • Undoubtedly, the more consistently, more fundamentally scientific principles, criteria will be adhered to in research practice, opportunistic bias, bias, ideologization, politicization of historical experience will be excluded, limited, the more sincere the interest in penetrating into the meaning of creative searches of competing schools, understanding and perception inherent in another (the opposing) side of productive achievements, the more there will be reasonable hopes for approaching historical truth, drawing instructive lessons from the past, grounds for reliable forecasting and choosing the best ways to strive for the future.

Notes

  1. The Institute of Ukrainian History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine periodically publishes a scientific collection entitled "Problems of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921 history research." To date, 15 of its have already been released. From time to time (primarily to the anniversary dates), scientific conferences of various levels are held, the problems of which are subordinated to the study of the history of the Ukrainian national-democratic revolution.

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  59. Soldatenko V.F., 2001, Kontseptsiya ukrayinsʹkoyi revolyutsiyi: sotsialʹnyy aspect [The concept of the Ukrainian revolution: the social aspect]. – Sotsiokulʹturni chynnyky rozvytku intelektualʹnoho potentsialu ukrayinsʹkoho suspilʹstva i molodʹ. Naukovi pratsi ta materialy konferentsiyi [Social and cultural officials develop the intellectual potential of the Ukrainian suspension  and  the  young.  Science  and  technology  conference  materials]. Kiev, 2001. P. 263–270. (In Ukrainian)
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Information about the author

Valeriy F. Soldatenko, Dr. Sci. (History), Prof., Corresponding Member of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Chief Researcher, Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies Ivan Kuras NAS of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine.

Corresponding author

Valeriy F. Soldatenko, e-mail: soldatenko.v.f@gmail.com

ИСТОРИОГРАФИЯ

Обзорная статья

Революционная эпоха 1917 – 1920 гг.

в судьбе народа Украины: исторический опыт

в оценке современных историографических концепций

 В. Ф. Солдатенко 1

Институт политических и этнонациональных исследований им. И. Ф. Кураса НАН Украины, 

Киев, Украина, 

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2435-1123, e-mail: soldatenko.v.f@gmail.com

Аннотация:

На основе анализа доминирующих историографических тенденций предпринята попытка установить совпадающие и различающиеся подходы в концепциях Великой Российской революции и Украинской национально-демократической революции, обосновать роль украинского фактора в общероссийском революционном процессе 1917 – 1920 годов. Ранее опубликовано на русском языке в журнале «Гілея» (Киев. 2019. Вып. 148 (№9). С. 78–89) и в сокращённом виде в журнале «Россия в эпоху революций и реформ. Проблемы истории и историографии» (СПб. 2019. Т. 7. С. 285–302).   

 

Ключевые слова: 

 историография, концепции, Украинская революция, украинский фактор,

Великая Российская революция, Гражданская война,

социальный и национальный аспекты общественных процессов

Информация об авторе

Солдатенко Валерий Федорович, доктор исторических наук, профессор, член-корреспондент НАН Украины, главный научный сотрудник Института политических и этнонациональных исследований им. И. Ф. Кураса НАН Украины, Киев, Украина.

Автор-корреспондент

Солдатенко Валерий Федорович, e-mail: soldatenko.v.f@gmail.com

Наука. Общество. Оборона

2020. Т. 9. № 1

2311-1763

Online ISSN

Science. Society. Defense

2020. Vol. 9. № 1


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