About the Author
Jay Bergman is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. He received his BA in history from Brandeis University in 1970, and subsequently received his MA (1972), MPhil (1973), and PhD (1977) from Yale University. Bergman is the author of Vera Zasulich: A Biography (1983); Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov (2009); and articles in modern Russian and European history. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Scholars, and in 2009 was named a member of the Connecticut Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, on which he served for two two-year terms.
Because they were Marxists, the Bolsheviks in Russia, both before and after taking power in 1917, believed that the past was prologue: that embedded in history was a Holy Grail, a series of mysterious, but nonetheless accessible and comprehensible, universal laws that explained the course of history from beginning to end. Those who understood these laws would be able to mould the future to conform to their own expectations. But what should the Bolsheviks do if their Marxist ideology proved to be either erroneous or insufficient-if it could not explain, or explain fully, the course of events that followed the revolution they carried out in the country they called the Soviet Union? Something else would have to perform this function. The underlying argument of this volume is that the Bolsheviks saw the revolutions in France in 1789, 1830, 1848, and 1871 as supplying practically everything Marxism lacked. In fact, these four events comprised what for the Bolsheviks was a genuine Revolutionary Tradition. The English Revolution and the Puritan Commonwealth of the seventeenth century were not without utility-the Bolsheviks cited them and occasionally utilized them as propaganda-but these paled in comparison to what the revolutions in France offered a century later, namely legitimacy, inspiration, guidance in constructing socialism and communism, and, not least, useful fodder for political and personal polemics. (From Oxford University Press).