Time for the Political Compass of the Revolution!
March 5, 2017 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Who are you in 1917 Russia? Товарищи! We are about to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the February Revolution. Time to brush up on your knowledge of the rather eventful months that followed it or, if you find yourself in London, go admire the art that sprung from it. But isn't the most important question to answer, as times of trouble seem to arise again in Europe and America, what would we have done 100 years ago in the unbelievably complex political landscape of revolutionary Russia? Knowing that for sure, wouldn't we be better armed to face today's struggles and determine who to ally with, who to banish and who to summarily execute? Take that test, comrades, and you shall have that knowledge.
posted by susuman (56 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Who woulda thunk? I'm an anarchist.
posted by RedEmma at 8:46 AM on March 5 [14 favorites]


(I should say, "Still an anarchist!" because sometimes I feel I've been drifting with age.)
posted by RedEmma at 8:48 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Menshevik Internationalist!
posted by LiteOpera at 8:58 AM on March 5 [10 favorites]


I'm an anarchist! My spouse will be so pleased.
posted by epj at 9:06 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I always thought I'd be a Menshevik but I'm a Leftist SR.
posted by dame at 9:06 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Likewise, LiteOpera. I guess I'll see you in Germany, if we escape Siberia.
posted by mrdaneri at 9:08 AM on March 5


I feel in my heart that I would be an idealist who gets purged after the initial success of the revolution...

Oh look, I got anarchist.
posted by Artw at 9:10 AM on March 5 [6 favorites]


So, I've been thinking about the Russian Revolution in the context of the current radicalization of the Republican party. Traditionally you'd think that if there's a collection of competing interests with different beliefs that you'd settle somewhere in the middle. That's the theory behind the democratic parliamentary form of government, right?

But that didn't happen here, because the logic of inter-party politics overwhelmed the wishes of the majority; the 'extremists' won.

I feel like the Republican party today is in some ways very similar to the communist party in terms of 'purity' tests. Any disagreement is dis-allegiance is betrayal. You can't be 'too' revolutionary (or 'conservative') so everyone is rushing to out-flank each other and label their opponents counter-revolutionary (or RINO) All that outflanking leads the whole group off a cliff, with a platform far from what the vast majority of the people want. They're completely radicalized, trying to force through legislation that the clear majority of the country doesn't want. Paul Ryan is trying to privatize Medicare, for Christ's sake, and most seniors (who vote Republican) are appalled at that idea.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:18 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


I also got Menshevik Internationalist. One advantage in that result is chances of survival are slightly longer, as they merged with the bolsheviks in July 1917 (Trotsky was one of them for a while, as well as Lunacharsky and a bunch of others). So I guess that leaves us around 20 years before being purged.
posted by susuman at 9:27 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]


I agree w/leo above. I've basically been saying that the Republicans succeed because they take the Bolshevik/Democratic Centralism approach. They don't splinter, despite their complaints all the way up to Trump getting the nod... They fell in line.

Once the party makes a ruling/vote - you don't question it in public - you support the party in action. "Freedom to criticize, Unity in action" as Lenin said in 1906.

When I watched all the "moderate" Republicans turn and kiss Trump's ass once (aside from a few symbolic protests here and there) he got the nomination, I realized this is what Democratic Centralism looks like.

Anyways, I got the Right SR for some reason. Always pictured myself LeftSR/Anarchist.

Least I'm not a tankie.
posted by symbioid at 9:33 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I am the Czechoslovak Legion. Choo-choo!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:37 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I got "Right SR" but I didn't think very hard about some responses. At least that put me in the right general quadrant of alignment I feel most comfortable in: leftist, non-authoritarian. I guess I'm just more of an incrementalist in some ways than the hard left SRs, but I do think it was a mistake in principle to postpone "true socialism" and take the control out of the local/rural Soviets.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:37 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I got "I am far away from the political forces of 1917 Russia." Well...yep!

Matthew Weiner of Mad Men fame is making a new episodic drama called "The Romanoffs" about (fictional) modern day people who believe they're Romanov descendants. My dad grew up across the street in the 1940s/50s from an older woman who claimed to be Anastasia.
posted by sallybrown at 9:37 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]


Also a Menshevik Internationalist. I tried to answer the questions in context, imagining what I might believe in that time and place. It's difficult to know, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:43 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]


(2,4), i.e. a tad northwest of the anarchists, a smidgen directly below the Left SRs.
posted by busted_crayons at 9:48 AM on March 5


I'm a Dadaist in 1917, I don't know what I'm doing in Russia.
posted by sfenders at 9:48 AM on March 5 [20 favorites]


I'm Generation P.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:53 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I was hoping to get "Dostoevsky." :(
posted by saulgoodman at 10:11 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I'm right in the middle of the Left SRs, the Center SRs, the Anarchists and the Menshevik Internationalists.

I guess I could casually squeeze in one of them. Or be executed as a traitor by all.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:13 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


I'm in that region too. Took it twice and got Anarchists and Left SRs but reading about them and looking at their positions I'm probably best suited for the Menshevik Internationalists.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:19 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I feel like the Republican party today is in some ways very similar to the communist party in terms of 'purity' tests. Any disagreement is dis-allegiance is betrayal

Are you sure you're not thinking of the modern left? Cause, uh, that sounds a whole lot like leftist Twitter. Lessons of the past, doomed to repeat them, etc.

Anyway I got Menshevik Internationalist, which, yeah, sounds about right.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:20 AM on March 5


If you happen to find a unified face of the left please let us know, because that is something else.
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


I'm an Ararchist, which I find a little surprising.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:50 AM on March 5


Anarchist, unsurprisingly.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:55 AM on March 5


I got low-church Anglican.


How the fuck did that happen?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:19 AM on March 5 [15 favorites]


Somehow I ended up "Far away from the political forces of 1917 Russia." I walk to the beat of my own drum I guess.

I'm pretty sure every ideology has a purity test.
posted by Braeburn at 11:33 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Apparently I'm to the left of everyone, but close enough to the anarchists to be categorized there.
posted by eviemath at 11:40 AM on March 5


This was interesting to me, because the questions were unexpectedly difficult to answer. I'd never tried to think about these issues without also knowing what happened in Soviet Russia, and pretending I didn't, for quiz purposes, was not easy. How could I have an opinion on statements like "land should belong to all the people" without having an informed opinion on what people are, in fact, like? And how could I have that opinion without having already learned what happened in Soviet Russia?

As a kid growing up in Reagan's America, I learned what I was told: the Soviets didn't want anybody to have anything that anyone else didn't already have. They didn't want anybody to be different. They didn't want anybody to have free speech or believe in God. I always thought that these lessons didn't do me any lasting damage, since I got more solid information as soon as I could. But maybe they did.

Anyway, I got Right SR, which was more or less what I expected: too woke to keep my fool mouth shut, too moderate not to get purged.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:05 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Another Menshevik Internationalist!
posted by merriment at 12:29 PM on March 5


I got Menshevik Defensist --- well, not really, but they gave me that because that's the closest party to my stance. (My red dot ended up below the Defensists, but to the right of the Internationalists.) And from the way my answers veered from the Bolsheviks, I'm going to be purged pretty soon. Been nice to know ya!
posted by easily confused at 12:38 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'm not quite a Bolshevik, but I can certainly denounce any accusations of being a Menshevik once and for all!

(Incidentally, my spellcheck refuses to acknowledge Menshevik and suggests I replace it with Bolshevik... Talk about propaganda!)
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:40 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Menshevik Internationalist! I'm hotsky to Trotsky!
posted by briank at 1:33 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Also a Menshevik Internationalist.

This was interesting to me, because the questions were unexpectedly difficult to answer. I'd never tried to think about these issues without also knowing what happened in Soviet Russia, and pretending I didn't, for quiz purposes, was not easy.

Yeah, I mean, even harder for me who had family members live through it. It was surprisingly hard to answer when family tradition has taught me that the correct answers are, "oh my God, get on that train and flee - get to Vladivostok before they catch up with you and hop a boat to Shanghai, quickly quickly unless you want to starve!!!!!"
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:44 PM on March 5 [9 favorites]


To the left of anarchist, but marginally more authoritarian. Completely unsurprising.
posted by threecheesetrees at 2:19 PM on March 5


> I got "I am far away from the political forces of 1917 Russia." Well...yep!

Same here! I'm actually an anarchist, but I knew going in I wasn't wild-eyed enough to be a 1917 Russian anarchist.
posted by languagehat at 3:13 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


Oh, and by the way, everybody who isn't following Project1917 should be: February [March NS] Revolution coming up!
posted by languagehat at 3:15 PM on March 5 [8 favorites]


No place for BWA in the new Russia
posted by BWA at 4:18 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


sfenders: "I'm a Dadaist in 1917, I don't know what I'm doing in Russia."

Convert to Constructivism.
posted by symbioid at 4:20 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionary Party. I'm just going to enjoy a brief moment of independence over here, before you all start cramping my style.
posted by Kabanos at 6:32 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Apparently, I am wild-eyed enough to be a 1917 Russian Anarchist.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:53 PM on March 5 [3 favorites]


To the left of the Left SR's. Can I change my vote and be a Dadaist too?
posted by evilDoug at 7:06 PM on March 5


Sometimes, I wish that these quizzes also had a 'what are you willing to settle for?' smear on them, rather than a single point, because of course if you ask me what I believe, I'm going to be down in the bottom left with the anarchists, as I was in this quiz, but I'm at least prepared to negotiate with socialists.

Which, I guess, leaves me at 'doesn't learn well from history' as an ideological stance.
posted by frimble at 7:40 PM on March 5 [10 favorites]


Before even opening it, I jokingly quipped to myself, "I hope I'm not a Menshevik — those guys get screwed."

Yep, Menshevik.
posted by klangklangston at 11:18 PM on March 5 [1 favorite]


"Democratic Right", right next to... the chirping crickets, I guess? "Far away from the political forces of 1917 Russia" indeed.

I know it's much harder to predict the future than it is to retrodict the past, so this is almost certainly hindsight bias talking, but I can't help but feel like the gross unpopularity of "don't murder everybody and take all their stuff" might with a little foresight have allowed one to anticipate the subsequent waves of people being murdered and having all their stuff taken.

It's not like it was just the "idealists" or the "moderates", either. There's a pretty straight path from "We must rid ourselves once and for all of the Quaker-Papist babble about the sanctity of human life." to "Hey, what are you doing with that ice axe?!"
posted by roystgnr at 6:10 AM on March 6


I got Right SR and Countess Elena you described it wonderfully -- "too woke to keep my fool mouth shut, too moderate to not get purged"
posted by SA456 at 7:01 AM on March 6


I know it's much harder to predict the future than it is to retrodict the past, so this is almost certainly hindsight bias talking, but I can't help but feel like the gross unpopularity of "don't murder everybody and take all their stuff" might with a little foresight have allowed one to anticipate the subsequent waves of people being murdered and having all their stuff taken.

It's not like it was just the "idealists" or the "moderates", either. There's a pretty straight path from "We must rid ourselves once and for all of the Quaker-Papist babble about the sanctity of human life." to "Hey, what are you doing with that ice axe?!"


I was with you on the hindsight bias, but you went in a totally different direction than I was thinking. I own three ice axes and two of them are very sharp. If people aren't alive, it was there stuff. Now the question becomes how it is redistributed... does it go to heirs or to the people stepped on in order to get all that stuff?

Anyways, it is warming up, but I'm willing to keep my ice axes sharp for the next winter season.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:31 AM on March 6


From the latest update to Project1917:
Maurice Paleologue [French ambassador]:

Petrograd is short of bread and wood, and the public is suffering want.

At a bakery on the Liteïny this morning I was struck by the sinister expression on the faces of the poor folk who were lined up in a queue, most of whom had spent the whole night there...
Things are happening fast, folks; get your political compass recharged sooner rather than later!
posted by languagehat at 8:07 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


This quiz is missing a few factions. Where are the Octobrists?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:03 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


im kropotkin
posted by poffin boffin at 10:43 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I got "Left SR." I like how clear they are about the period they mean to represent, given the realities of partisan politics in general and at the time. One problem with the original two-axis political graph was that it over-generalized to an absurd degree without acknowledging that it had done so. The after-test comparison of your answers to the various factions' supposed answers is fun, too: I'd forgotten that the Bolsheviks were free-speech and free-assembly absolutists at the time because a free press and free assembly favored them then.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:08 AM on March 6 [4 favorites]


I am a Menshivik Internationalist, which does not surprise me. My grandfather, however, was actually fighting with the White army in 1917. He was captured by the Germans, but escaped. He went back to the White Army and was accused of being a German spy, but was exonerated. He was then captured by the Red Army, but someone vouched for him and he was released. He then got the hell out of Russia. That graph needs an escape axis.
posted by acrasis at 3:37 PM on March 6 [7 favorites]


I got Anarchist as well. Probably I am more Anarchist with age.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:56 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]




"When Art Meets Power"

Wow. Perhaps with some elaboration, that should be a post.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:13 PM on March 9


I encourage you to post it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:33 PM on March 9


Eh, sounds like a neat exhibit but I'm not impressed by the writeup.

in October, led by Lenin, the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Place in St. Petersburg

No they didn't, that's Bolshevik propaganda. They strolled in and arrested the idiot Provisional Government ministers who were sitting around a table waiting for whatever might happen (except for Kerensky, who had the sense to get the hell out of town in a US Embassy car).

As early as 1921, hope of free expression was fast vanishing and artists, writers, and musicians were increasingly disillusioned. They had seen the establishment of the Politburo in 1919 and the new “corrective” prison camps.

The establishment of the Politburo? Ooh, scary! The Politburo was the executive committee of the Bolshevik (Communist) Party. I mean, the Bolsheviks turned out to be pretty scary, yes, but she seems to think "Politburo" means something like "mass torture committee." And very few people had seen any prison camps by 1921.

And a lot of the piece consists in personal reaction presented as fact: "the dwarfed crowds seem to cower as much as to rejoice"; "the women ... look like mechanized ghosts"; "The shimmering birch trees and quiet lakes ... look like a longing escape." Speak for yourself.

Some may think it obscene to celebrate this period in Russian art

Huh? Who? Why?
posted by languagehat at 2:23 PM on March 11


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