“I. I. Mints and the Representation of Reality in History”,

A full MS version, with added hypertext links to SAC
An abridged text was published in *1976de:Slavic Review, pp. 716-723.
This is a review essay, reflections on the final and most extensive official Soviet history of their revolution =
Isaak Mints’ massive 3-volume ISTORIIA VELIKOGO OKTIABRIA [History of Great October]
(Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Nauka [Press of the Soviet Academy of Sciences], 1967-72).

Vol. 1 = SVERZHENIE SAMODERZHAVIIA [The fall of autocracy] 930pp;
[The fall of the Provisional Government: Establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat] 1151pp;
Vol. 3 = TRIUMFAL'NOE SHESTVIE SOVETSKOI VLASTI [The triumphal advance of Soviet Power] 1007pp]

If you wish, hop to the discussion of the relationship between World War One and the Russian Revolution

The historian I. I. Mints, like the fabled Boian [ID], fulfills a court duty by reciting epics of origin and destiny.

Since the late 1920s, Mints labored over the leading problems of Russian revolutionary history. Born in 1896, Mints joined the Bolshevik Party in 1917 and served the party for nearly sixty years [up to his death in 1991]. He completed studies at the Institute of Red Professors in 1926 and subsequently has been associated with the Higher Party School, Moscow State University, and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (member since 1946). Mints was an editor of Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny (The History of the Civil War) in the 1930s, and wrote extensively on military history, foreign intervention, and the Revolution. In a series of monographs published in the 1950s and early sixties, he provided the "basic solution" to the problems of Bolshevization of the Soviets, foreign policy of the Soviets, and the "meaning of October". (See E. N. Gorodetskii's review essay in Istoriia SSSR, 1967, no. 5, p. 12.) Mints was one of eleven members of the writers' collective (avtorskii kollektiv) who, working under the direct guidance of V. N. Ponomarev, candidate member of the Politburo and secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, edited and wrote the latest edition of the official Istoriia Kommunisticheskoi Partii Sovetskogo Soiuza (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union). In 1974 the Central Committee and the Soviet of Ministers of the USSR awarded Mints the Lenin Prize in the field of science and technology for his three-volume rendition of "Great October" [also known in different traditions as the “Soviet Revolution”, “Bolshevik Revolution”, “Communist Revolution”, or “October Revolution”]. Mints began publication of his epic on the 50th anniversary of “Great October”. His account may be taken to be the official saga of the Russian Revolution of October 25, 1917 (OS), which brought the Bolsheviks to power.

The reading public outside the USSR has come to expect certain predictable distortions and lacunae, largely the result of an enforced ideological conformity in Soviet historical writings. For outsiders, these sanctioned tales have no intimate purpose or constituent meaning -- epics are not history. Scholarly reviews properly concentrate on the shortcomings of official histories, but in so doing they perhaps fail to explore adequately the underlying meanings and indigenous objectives of these historical recitations by modern, revolutionary Boians. [Epics may not be history, but they are worthy of historical deliberation.] Why are these sanctioned tales written as they are?

In Mints' Soviet homeland the Revolution has become the creational moment of a mythic epic of national "becoming". The Revolution was followed by subsequent moments of “becoming”. The Bolshevik party renamed itself “The Communist Party” in 1918. It won the Revolutionary Civil War in 1920. It created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922. It announced in Stalin’s time that “socialism” had been achieved in the USSR. It promised in 1964 that “communism” would be achieved by 1984. The current [1976] leadership and their historians, all heirs of the Revolution, would make the main events and figures of 1917 allegories of right and wrong, ancestral sources of accomplishment and adversity, and models for current policy as well as prophesies of a still bright unfolding future. [In this vision of historical identity and destiny, there is no hint of the coming disintegration of the USSR in 1992.] The Revolution happened and has had its consequences, some worthy of emulation, others best forgotten, suppressed, or at least "corrected". But the meaning of the Revolution as radical myth does not consist primarily in the thorough calendar of its past with its temporal wholeness, its inevitable inclination to tangible error and finished imperfection. Instead, the meaning consists in an impending, still unfolding rightness. [Is it possible that the Putin generation of Russian leaders are inspired by some part of this mythic vision?] The central actor, Lenin, is therefore not a historical figure in the conventional sense. He, like the Revolution, is a goal imminent in the complexity of events. He is a figura.1

1. Erich Auerbach, in Mimesis: Dargestellte Werklichkeit in der abendlandischen Literatur (Bern and Munich, 1967), defines figura as a representation of reality which, without sacrificing any of its concreteness,

establishes the interrelationship between two events or individuals, when one signifies not only itself, but simultaneously a second, or another, which in turn contains or fulfills the first. The two poles of the figura are separated in time, but as real events or persons they lie on a chronological plane. Both are contained within that flowing stream which is historical life, but the understanding, intellectus spiritualis, of their interrelationship is transformed into a spiritual act.
The citation is from the Russian translation: Mimesis: Izobrazhenie deistvitel'nosti v zapadnoevropeiskoi literature (Moscow, 1976), p. 90.

For a more recent article on Mints and his career, see Elaine MacKinnon, "Writing History for Stalin Isaak Izrailevich Mints and the Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny [History of the Revolutionary Civil War]" [E-TXT]

Lenin has taken on dimensions larger than normal historical life. He appears on well over one-fourth of Mints’ 3,088 pages, both as actor and as analyst of his and others' actions. He appears three times more frequently than the second most prominent figure, Alexander Kerensky; eight times more frequently than the third, Paul Miliukov; ten times more frequently than Nicholas II or Alexander Guchkov; nearly twelve times more frequently than Lev Kamenev; nearly fifteen times more than *Viktor Chernov; over seventeen times more than Leon Trotsky (even Viktor Nogin, the Moscow activist, appears more frequently than Trotsky); twenty times more frequently than Stalin; and nearly thirty times more than Nicholas Bukharin. "Lenin is the most living of all living men", read a recent [1977] Moscow poster. He cannot be treated in terms short of hyperbole or epic exaggeration, not even by a member of the Academy of Sciences, not even in what is meant to be the standard "scientific" narrative of the Revolution. Herein lies the shocking lese majesty of Solzhenitsyn's Lenin v Tsiurikhe. Solzhenitsyn's Lenin is not the figura of timeless potential but a man of time and place, driven by strong ambition and harried by jaundiced affections.

Lenin provided a definition of his own elevated status for Mints and his Soviet heirs. In Chto delat'? (What Is To Be Done?, 1902) [TXT], Lenin concluded that the Marxist revolution in Russia required a disciplined organization which would attract revolutionists from all "classes" of society but would aim to transcend and protect itself from certain defined Russian historical peculiarities. The party must engage the mechanism of Russian history at one point while maintaining an essential clearance from the rest. Thus the party promoted a latent proletarian revolutionary potential in a hostile historical environment. Lenin dared to dream (mechtat') that the party could overcome the historical limitations of the Russian socio-economic system and shape circumstances to that dream. He granted a substantial power to the prophetic consciousness of party activists, elevating the party above the normal workings of the historical dialectic.

George Plekhanov drew much the same conclusions at the very beginning of Russian Marxism. In Nashi raznoglasiia (Our Differences, 1884), he conceded that, on the whole, individuals are firmly fixed in one of two antagonistic class groupings and bear the character of their class, but

some individuals have the possibility to make a conscious choice between the two opposite poles. It is to these individuals that our so-called "intelligentsia" belongs. It will depend on their own moral and intellectual development what attitude they adopt to the cause of the working class.

At least in Russia, the revolutionary intelligentsia possessed a special transcendent power of moral choice and commitment. Marxist leaders transcend and mend the faults of the history-bound Russian "mode of production." The leader becomes the "mind" otherwise missing in the body politic, the source of political memory and revolutionary continuity.

He will bring consciousness into the working class, and without that it is impossible to begin a serious struggle against capital. And once he brings that consciousness he will give the revolutionary movement a strength, endurance and intensity that cannot even be dreamed of when one holds to the old "programs".

Plekhanov was hardly the first to recognize the significance of leadership. Nicholas Chernyshevskii's "new men" and Peter Lavrov's "critical minded individuals" were also predecessors to the Leninist definition of the status of Russian revolutionary leaders.

Leaders are guardians of the "dream" in a history-scarred nation. Soviet historians are expected to carry on their work within the fundamental definition of party status. Mints follows in the tradition of Lenin. He does not explore extensively the early history of Russian Marxist ideology and organization, but, like Plekhanov and Lenin, he makes a good effort to "overcome" Russian historical peculiarities.

The difficulty of the task is evident. Nearly meaningless terminology, such as "the dictatorship of the serf-owning gentry", clouds the narrative (vol. 1, p. 94). Critical terms (and not just "dictatorship"), for example, "gentry" and "bourgeoisie", are used carelessly. Despite strain and confusion, Mints always tries to emphasize that prerevolutionary development was somewhere between the West and "underdeveloped" or "backward" nations. He insists that the Russian people suffered from both "pre-capitalist" and capitalist exploitation. While Russia was typically imperialistic in dealings with Persia, Manchuria, and Mongolia, her internal structure was "military-feudal", "feudal-servile", "semi-feudal" or, during the World War One, "state-monopolistic", and the subjects within the borders of tsarist power suffered under an "internal colonialism". This is all a bit puzzling, but a significant step beyond the simplicities of a more "vulgar" approach which holds that Russia was an infant bourgeois capitalist country.

Caution is required in these sensitive areas. Mints warns that both exaggeration and minimization of Russian peculiarity are to be avoided. Although the economic structure of pre-revolutionary Russia has still not been studied adequately (vol. 1, p. 32), the "correct" interpretation of Lenin's term, voenno-feodal'nyi (military-feudal), was established at the first meeting of Marxist Historians as long ago as 1929 (vol. 1, p. 94). Mints has the authority of the party behind his statement that very few historians will misinterpret this issue, even in the absence of detailed studies.

It is the Party that makes Russia ready for Marxist revolution, whatever the unsettled complexities of the pre-revolutionary "mode of production". Mints credits the Bolshevik Party and its Leninist leadership, untouched by the peculiarities and unencumbered by the obstacles of the past, with helping Russia mightily on her way toward socialist revolution. No other party receives as much detailed attention. Furthermore, only the Leninist party is dealt with as a political organization. The non-Bolshevik political factions -- Socialist Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, Kadets, and Octobrists -- are portrayed as merely loose collections of social class interests (predominantly "bourgeois").

The Bolshevik leaders are spared the analysis of their class origins. In the Leninist tradition, Mints assumes the party to be essentially independent of the class origins of its separate members; that is, the party allowed its most resolute members to transcend class. 2

2. Steven Marcus (Engels, Manchester, and the Working Class) observed that the dilemma of middle-class revolutionists in ironic alliance with the proletariat can be traced back at least to Marx and Engels. Engels asserted that the more "intelligent" of the bourgeoisie could become a part of the workers movement as a result of pure rational choice. Marcus observes that this notion bears strong resemblance to Matthew Arnold's idea of "Culture": "A notion of an ideal allegiance that transcends conflict and class interest, and binds humanity together in a society that has gone beyond politics" (see A. J. P. Taylor's review article, Times Literary Supplement, October 25, 1974, p. 1181).

Thus, Bolshevik leadership was decisive and nearly ubiquitous in Petrograd and Moscow throughout 1917-18. It was less so in the provinces, but even there it was indispensable. Arguing with "bourgeois" historians, Mints contends that Bolshevik success in the provinces was not the product of chaos and local accident. Bolsheviks in Moscow gave immense help to the provinces in the form of "general political leadership, sent detachments, military commanders, propagandists and agitators" (vol. 3, p. 703). At the head of a gigantic, newly aroused mass of rebelling nationalities and peoples of the old empire stood the veteran Bolsheviks, "inspiring, organizing, and directing them to the struggle; the October Revolution, consequently, was truly a people's revolution" (vol. 3, pp. 707-8).

Clearly the definition of the party's status also defines "people's revolution". The scholarly reviewer, even one who lives outside the spell of this particular revolutionary myth --and outside the generalizations and paradigms which make the myth a living epic and sustain an elaborate ritual in the USSR today -- would be wrong to forget that October 1917 is the genesis of a fundamentalist polity, a polity whose "dream" is still not fully realized. As Lenin wrote years ago in his sharp critique of the memoirs of the émigré Menshevik, Nicholas Sukhanov, who carped at the Revolution from abroad, October is nasha revoliutsiia (our revolution). The party of Lenin still aspires toward its "dream", but it is also (temporarily) preoccupied with the obstacles of the actual imperial past. The unifying "dream" occupies the central place in the party's historical self-consciousness; the divisive obstacles of the actual past are obscured.

Successful revolutions perhaps spawn uninteresting histories. Those who might have protested consensus were defeated. They became émigrés like Sukhanov or exiles like Solzhenitsyn. Those for whom the Revolution is a story of victory are in power. But success and power are faulty and incomplete explanations of the predictability of Soviet histories of the Revolution. In the USSR, the absence of historiographical conflict does not reflect an absence of social and political conflict. The writing of Soviet history does reflect a powerful need for shared origins and justified consensus. Soviet historians, in pursuit of the highest possible constituent objectives within their polity, do not publicly question these needs. Against the homegrown and foreign complaints about the Revolution in power there is only one intellectual weapon in the Marxist arsenal: history. History is the only valid vehicle back to the "dream," a reminder that the past can be transcended. It is not because the Revolution was successful but because it is not yet successful at all that the epic must be sung and sung again. Everything deserving memory, everything in the tale that might "guarantee success" (in Plekhanov's phrase), must be properly preserved and repeated. Until the "dream" is realized, the figura of success, of meaning and purpose, must be kept up front. Dissent from that meaning and purpose must be refuted. Mints, therefore, takes on the "culture bearing" obligation predicted by Plekhanov and put into organizational form by Lenin, even in the face of the vexing obstacles of the actual Russian past.

Mints makes no surprising deviation from standard Soviet interpretations in Istoriia Velikogo Oktiabria, but he does present much new material from Soviet archives, especially from TsGIA and TsGAOR [renamed after 1992]. His discussions of the influence of foreign capital in prerevolutionary Russia (for example, vol. 1, pp. 165 ff) and other economic topics, local Bolshevik organizations, workers organizations, the revolution in the army, the resistance of the All-Russian Executive Committee, the Railway Workers Union, and some special topics (for example, "sabotage" and "wrecking" activities of the All-Russian Union of Societies of Factory and Mill Owners [vol. 3, p. 807]) are particularly interesting. Characteristically, the apparently bottomless and remarkably well-administered Soviet archives seem to offer an inexhaustible yield of novelties.

Unfortunately, the new material often is used only to reinforce old stories. The work might be said to occupy two planes simultaneously -- the plane of specific information and the plane of speculative but standard generalization. The two planes are not always mutually supportive. Frequently, chapters filled with challenging detail are summarized too abstractly. Many readers, however, will find the factual sections of the book useful however skeptical they may be of the concluding generalizations.

The chapters dealing with the impact of the First World War on Russian society and institutions, and thus on the course of the Russian Revolution offer a good example of misfit between detail and interpretation. Mints accepts Lenin's suggestion that the First World War "hastened" to maturity a revolutionary situation deeply ingrained in the prewar social and economic setting. He is anxious to show that the 1917 Revolution was a product of class antagonisms that predated the war. This is an interpretation which has, in somewhat different form, gained currency among American historians (see, for example, Leopold Haimson's essays in the Slavic Review, 23, no. 4, and 24, no. 1).

But Mints’ richly detailed discussions of the impact of the war, the deepening of the revolutionary crisis, and the growth of the workers movement suggest that simple continuities from prewar to revolutionary times were rare. An incipient revolutionary situation may have predated the war, but did precisely the same situation survive the massive dislocations caused by the war? Did not new wartime dislocations underlie wartime events? Mints’ evidence points toward a negative answer to that first question and a positive answer to the second, in contradiction to his own conclusions.

World War One looms on his pages as a virtual metamorphosis but his language shields us from the extent of wartime transformations. He employs a verbal legerdemain -- "workers movement", "impact on the economy", "party organization"-- each phrase suggesting a continuity which remains essentially untouched by the course of events, a core "identity" and even "consciousness" that links the "workers movement", "economy", and "party organization" of 1917 with that of 1913.

The upheaval of war, however, appears to have severed most strands of continuity except those beyond the war's immediate influence. World War I was about as close as history comes to a real "turning point".

The management of the prewar economy bore little resemblance to the management of the mobilized economy of 1917. For example, a sizable chunk of territory, including the locations of many of the most important prewar enterprises, fell into enemy hands. The remaining enterprises experienced changes tantamount to transformation in the very "mode of production". Mints calls the transformation "a development [overgrowth -- pererastanie] of monopolistic capitalism into state-monopolistic capitalism" (vol. 1, p. 158). Thousands of prewar enterprises closed down and thus ceased to figure in the "economy" (vol. 1, p. 324). About three-fourths of industrial enterprises shifted to war goods production. The transportation industry was thoroughly disorganized and crippled.

The "workers movement" experienced changes which corresponded to changes in industry and the work force. By 1917 nearly nine million men were at the front, in the immediate rear, or in frontline organizations and other paramilitary organizations; 2.3 million men had died at war and 7.04 million more were wounded. The rural labor force had declined by 47.7 percent and the industrial labor force had grown ("been renewed", obnovilos') by more than 29 percent. Women and children flooded the job market to replace males put into uniform. Deserters and other criminals were forced to function as slave labor in punishment for their crimes. Mints speaks of a katorzhnyi rezhim in many wartime factories (vol. 1, p. 342). In Petrograd the number of workers increased from 275,000 to 413,000 during the war. The number of large factories, where most of the worker discontent was to be found, increased from thirty-three to seventy-two. These factories also grew 60 percent in size in only a few months. Nineteen were crown enterprises devoted to armaments production.

The war not only abruptly increased the size of the "proletarian" class in Petrograd and Moscow, the critical cultural and political centers, but it also changed the make-up (sostav) of that class: women, children, peasants, and others were brought into the ranks of the working class.

Vast changes are evident in every branch of the economy, in society, in the state, and even in the Bolshevik Party. About half even of leading Bolshevik activists in the war years and in the early months of the Revolution joined the party after 1914.3

3. My own reading of the nearly 250 biographies and autobiographies of leading Bolshevik activists in the October Revolution, published in Entsiklopedicheskii slovar' russkogo bibliograficheskogo instituta Granat, vol. 41, parts 1-3, confirms the estimate of Georges Haupt and J. J. Marie, eds., The Makers of the Russian Revolution (Ithaca, N.Y., 1974), pp. 22-23.

The February Revolution brought leaders of the powerful mezhraiontsy [Inter-district activists] -- Trotsky, Lunacharskii, Volodarskii, Ioffe, Manuil'skii, Uritskii, and others -- along with some four thousand followers into the Bolshevik camp. By no means was Trotsky the only "new Bolshevik" to play a central role in subsequent revolutionary events. A. A. Andreev and S. G. Roshal, leaders in the Putilov Factory, were new to the party since 1914; Antonov-Ovseenko, the man who arrested the Provisional Government in the Winter Palace in October, joined the party during the war. After the July Days, Iu. Larin and the "left bloc" of the Mensheviks in Petrograd came over to the Bolsheviks one thousand strong, and the massive and conclusive influx of soldiers and sailors into the party from the Petrograd garrison and Kronstadt naval base represents the most overwhelming instance of wartime transformation of the party. In most areas the rank and file were relatively new to the cause of revolution.

Under conditions of severe repression, there was little continuity in party committee membership. The Petrograd organization was smashed at least thirty times during the war (vol. 1, pp. 253-54). Mints describes how new personnel sprang up to take the place of arrested committeemen, in imitation of the "legendary Phoenix from the ashes" (vol. 1, p. 276). Mints is vague about the actual size and extent of the party organization at the time war broke out. He has a habit of using statistics relating to Bolshevik publications as evidence of organization and membership. His information, nonetheless, does point to a significant growth of the party, a growth that may have resulted in what Marxists (but not Mints) like to describe as "quantitative change becoming qualitative change". At the first legal meeting of the Ivanovo-Vosnesensk organization, March 9, 1917, twenty-five delegates from twelve factories and mills were in attendance; within a few weeks membership grew to 3,564. There were sixty Bolsheviks in Saratov in early March; by April membership had grown to 1,600. The Kronstadt organization was formed on March 8, and by April had 3,000 members.

Mints is probably right when he argues that it is not "reasonable" to assume that these figures are an accurate indication of the pre-revolutionary size of the party, nor are they a precise measure of party growth after February. Many members were slow to come into the open and be counted (vol. 1, pp. 319-20). But even as crude indicators, these figures describe a major transformation or metamorphosis in the party, at least at the local level. Viewed as a whole, the party had its past, and an important past it was. But the memory of that past, the element of identity and consciousness, something like what Auerbach would call a figura [ID], was broken or altered insofar as the continuity of organization was broken or altered in the crucible of actual historical events.

Recognizing that so much transformation and dislocation places his larger purpose in jeopardy, Mints assures the reader: "The school of the class struggle, the influence of the old cadres of the proletariat, the immense work of the party helped attract new workers into the general proletarian struggle" (vol. 1, p. 350). "The general proletarian struggle" is the continuity, identity, and consciousness that Mints hopes to protect in this statement.

Once again, the formula, "general proletarian struggle", bears only a distant relationship to the actual events of the wartime Revolution. It could be argued that such formulas are essential to the flow of any complex discourse, but close reading of Mints’ statement suggests tautology = the class struggle nurtured the class struggle. "Old cadres" and "work of the party" afford some escape from tautology, but the argument needs extensive, detailed socio-historical analysis of the "old cadres." Until that happens, however, "work of the party" will just have to do. In essence, party cadres nurtured the class struggle. In Mints’ account, therefore, the decisive element of identity and consciousness was preserved in the top party leadership. The "mind" of the revolution, in accord with Leninist ideology, remained Lenin and his closest associates, especially the émigré leadership sequestered in Switzerland at some remove from the war's immediate dislocations. In Mints’ account, the course of events is not controlled by "old cadres" so much as by the party leader Lenin.

In April 1917, the head of the party arrived at the Finland Station to help give shape to the metamorphosis at hand. Lenin's "April Theses" shocked, chastened, and redirected a revolution that was about to sag into permanent provisional government irresolution and military disaster. And in October, the discontent and rebellion of soldiers, industrial workers, aroused peasants, and numerous national minority movements were first submitted to the Bolshevik Party's definitions and solutions. The party forced the chaos of events into an overarching context of meaning, an epic sweep of origin and destiny.

So it is that Mints’ Istoriia Velikogo Oktiabria is a comprehensive history of a continuous nation-building event. The Revolution is an instance of what the Soviets call otechestvennaia istoriia (the editors of Istoriia SSSR translate that as "home history"). This kind of history always contains more than a small trace of prophecy. Mints has retold the old tales so that the young might know and emulate what the fathers and the grandfathers knew and did. At the same time, the old tales teach what not to imitate. There are continual warnings about the perils and perfidy of telling the story incorrectly. An inaccurate narration of the old stories can misshape the future as surely as improper action.

According to Mints, "bourgeois falsifiers" lurk at every critical moment in the tale. He makes the mistakes of Kamenev, Zinoviev, and others both a part of the epic story itself and a part of the warning against mistaken versions. He claims that Bukharin's and Trotsky's later deviations were manifest even before the February 1915 Bern Party Conference (vol. 1, pp. 232 and 243), but he finds Zinoviev's treachery a more difficult matter to assess. Even though Zinoviev was the constant companion of Lenin in 1917, arrived with him at the Finland Station in April, perhaps helped write an early draft of what became the "April Theses," and went into hiding with him after the July Days, Mints still insists that Zinoviev must be remembered as a scoundrel. Stalin's "errors" are noted, but Mints is quick to point out that Stalin recognized and presumably corrected his errors himself (vol. 2, p. 60). Stalin is, incidentally, given an especially decisive role at the important Sixth Party Congress. Among other things, he presented a major report and struggled against the "errors" of Bukharin. Stalin "elucidated the Leninist analysis of political conditions in the country" (vol. 2, p. 685). Higher praise is not possible. Later Mints ranks Stalin, as commissar of nationalities, third in the Soviet government after Lenin and Iakov Sverdlov; Trotsky is not ranked (vol. 3, p. 743).

In fact, Trotsky is denied any "particular role" in the Revolution throughout this work. Although he voted for the armed uprising he did not really believe in it. Western "falsifiers" are responsible for the mistaken notion that Trotsky was at the center of events (vol. 2, p. 1007). Of the Bolsheviks, Kamenev appears in Mints’ tale with a frequency second only to Lenin. Kamenev is a leading party member, but when he appears, it is to err. He was "profoundly in error" because he did not understand Lenin's "April Theses." He failed to believe in the possibility of socialism in Russia. He questioned the possibility of success, an issue as vital today as in 1917. He was, for all important purposes, like the Mensheviks. In Mints’ view, therefore, he also becomes a model for all subsequent "bourgeois falsifiers" of the Revolution. In a sense, he is a forerunner of Leonard Schapiro and Robert Daniels, the two historians toward whom Mints most often directs polemics.

Kamenev contributed to the very beginning of the epic wrongly told. He thus betrayed nashu revoliutsiiu. He was hampered by a Kautskyist (German, foreign) ideological literalness; he failed to see that "life is always more complicated than any scheme" (vol. 2, p. 88). He could not see the dictatorship of the proletariat in "embryo" (zarodysh). He did not share Lenin's dream [ID].

Lenin's dream was much like earlier dreams of revolution in the 1870s. Although Lenin explicitly rejected large portions of his own legacy, "nihilism", "populism", and much else, he could not wholly escape his own native lineage, perhaps the authentic Russian political figura or skvoznaia liniia as the dramatist Stanislavskii called it [ID]. He came into a revolutionary inheritance constituted primarily of the promise of a particular place for Russia in the scheme of modern progress and of the special opportunities and obligations for progressive men and women of intelligence. Progressive men and women of intelligence, revolutionary "culture bearers," today hold the future in trust for native-born, proletarian Zheliabovs and Bebels, nurtured by the party and schooled on its history of achievement, lifted up and out of a malformed past, just as predicted by Lenin in What Is To Be Done?.

Isaak Mints is [was] a natural heir to Lenin's dream, and it defines his place in the much broader Russian native lineage, that still flowing stream which is historical life. His version of "Great October" is a tale of a heroic struggle to realize the revolutionary dream and, as such, is a contribution to the fulfillment of that revolutionary figura. His implicit purpose is to protect the dream not only from foreign "falsifications", not even so much from that but from the corrosive internal influence of routine and cynicism, error and disenchantment with events since 1917. Success in this endeavor would certainly merit a Lenin Prize, and might have meaning long after Lenin Prizes are distributed.