Ettore Cinnella - The tragedy of the Russian Revolution: promise and default of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries in 1918.

Left SR leader Maria Spiridonova (center, wearing glasses).

The unpublished minutes of the three congresses held by the Left Socialist Revolutionaries (PLSR) in 1918 are the main source of this article. Its starting point is the crisis the old Socialist Revolutionary Party (PSR) suffered during the fall of 1917 and the rise of the Left SRs.

Though the Left SRs actually agreed with the Bolsheviks on the crucial questions of land and peace, they were mistrustful of the way in which the Council of People's Commissars governed. Between November 1917 and the first months of 1918, the countryside was the scene of the crucial battle for the survival and consolidation of the new power. The PLSR played a very important role in making available the institutional tools for reorganizing land ownership (land socialization). Their activity during this period was fruitful because it answered the deepest aspirations of the rural world. But the Left SRs were enthusiastic and intransigent internationalists and indeed this dream so blinded them that they lost sight of more urgent tasks. How can we explain the collapse of a party so strongly rooted in the countryside as was the PLSR? It can be ascribed to the murder of Mirbach and the party's quixotic quest for intemationalim. However, there is another important reason: the erratic and contradictory response of the Populist left to the introduction of the kombedy (committees of village poors).

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