TOEICの事なら!Best Value for Your Money! English Cabin

すぐ役に立つ、すごく役に立つ天白川のそばの TOEIC 対策専門寺子屋

【English Cabin】TOEIC 対策専門寺子屋


お問い合わせはこちらから TEL:052-804-9117

英文解釈の思考プロセス 第171回


今回の題材は、2017年3月6日付の The New York Times 紙に掲載された、ジョン・クイギン氏によるエッセイ、The FebruaryRevolution and Kerensky’s Missed Opportunity  ”2月革命と、ケレンスキーが逃した絶好の機会”  です。歴史に  ”もし”  は禁物であるにしても、1917年の7月に、ケレンスキ―が戦争の継続を断念していたら、レーニン、スターリンそしてヒトラーさえその後の歴史の表舞台に登場することはなかったのではないか、という点を指摘している非常に興味深いエッセイです。尚、このエッセイは、ロシア革命から100年目となる本年、The New York Times 紙に連載中の共産主義運動の遺産と歴史を振り返るシリーズの一部となっています。全文の和訳はオリジナルの次にあります。

The Opinion Pages

The February Revolution and Kerensky’s Missed Opportunity


John Quiggin




Aleksandr Kerensky reviewing the troops in 1917. CreditKeystone/Gamma, via Getty Images

Brisbane, Australia — The February Revolution is one of history’s great “What if” moments. If this revolution — which actually took place in early March 1917 according to the West’s Gregorian calendar (Russia adopted that calendar only later) — had succeeded in producing a constitutional democracy in place of the czarist empire as its leaders hoped, the world would be a very different place.

If the leading figure in the provisional government, Aleksandr Kerensky, had seized on an opportunity presented by a now-forgotten vote in the German Reichstag, World War I might have been over before American troops reached Europe. In this alternative history, Lenin and Stalin would be obscure footnotes, and Hitler would never have been more than a failed painter.

By February 1917, after more than two years of bloody and pointless war, six million Russian soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. Privation on the home front was increasing. When the government of Czar Nicholas II announced the rationing of bread, tens of thousands of protesters, many of them women, filled the streets of St. Petersburg. Strikes broke out across the country. The czar tried to suppress the protests by force, but his calls to the army were either met with mutinies or simply ignored.

By the beginning of March, the situation was untenable: Nicholas abdicated, bringing an end to the Romanov dynasty.

The vacuum created by the collapse of the autocracy was filled in part by a provisional government, formed from the opposition groups in the previously powerless Duma, or Parliament, and in part by workers’ councils, called soviets. At the outset, the initiative lay with the provisional government, which seemed to embody the hopes of a majority of the Russian people.

The most immediate of these hopes, the replacement of autocracy by constitutional democracy, was inscribed in the very name of the party that came to power after the February Revolution. The Constitutional Democrats, or Cadets, who had emerged from a failed revolution in 1905, were moderate liberals with substantial support from intellectuals and the urban middle class. Prince Georgi Lvov, a middle-aged aristocrat, became the prime minister, but he was generally seen as a figurehead. The Cadet leader and foreign minister, Pavel Milyukov, was the dominant figure in the early days of the revolution.

The Cadets were the most moderate of the parties that jostled for power in the wake of the February Revolution. To their left were the Social Revolutionaries, who, despite their radical-sounding name, were a relatively moderate and democratic group, focused mainly on breaking up the big feudal estates and redistributing land to the peasants. Even more confusingly from a modern perspective, the real revolutionaries were known as Social Democrats, a term now used by European parties of the moderate center-left.

The Social Democrats were further divided into two also misleadingly named factions. The smaller, dominated by Vladimir Lenin, went by the name Bolsheviks (or majority socialists), while the larger group, which included most of the notable leaders other than Lenin, were the Mensheviks (minority socialists). In claiming the mantle of majority for his group when it won a minor procedural vote, Lenin foreshadowed the determination and ruthlessness that would propel him to supreme power.  Those were only the biggest groups. Anarchists, syndicalists and a specifically Jewish leftist group, the Bundists, allcompeted with, fought against and sometimes allied with one another.

When war broke out in Europe in the summer of 1914, most of these groups, despite their opposition to the czarist regime, had supported what they saw as a defensive war caused by the aggression of the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary. In this, they were similar to a majority of European socialist and social-democratic parties, which abandoned their professed internationalism and rallied around the flags of their national governments.

Among the minority of political leaders who opposed the war, the most important was Lenin, along with the leaders of the left-wing strand of the Mensheviks, Yuli Martov and Leon Trotsky, all of whom were in exile. From faraway Zurich, Lenin could do little but write denunciations of the “social chauvinists” who supported the war.

As the war dragged on, however, support ebbed among both the political class and the Russian people. The Brusilov offensive of 1916, hailed as a great victory at the time, ended with as many as a million Russians killed or wounded, with nothing of substance in the course of the war changed. Czar Nicholas’s decision to take personal command of the Russian armed forces produced even greater disasters, discrediting both Nicholas and the monarchy as a whole.

The rapid collapse of the regime was, therefore, not surprising. But having come so suddenly to power, the provisional government faced the usual problem of revolutionary regimes: how to satisfy the often contradictory expectations of the people who had put them in power.

The provisional government rapidly introduced reforms that would have seemed utterly transformative in peacetime, instituting universal suffrage and freedoms of speech, assembly, press and religion, and addressing the demands of the many national minorities who made up much of the Russian empire’s population. But none of this delivered the three things the people wanted most: peace, bread and, for the peasants, land.

Of these failures, the most important was the failure of peace. The war continued, and in April it emerged that Milyukov had sent a telegram to the British and French governments, promising continued Russian support. He lost office shortly thereafter, and the Socialist Revolutionary leader Kerensky emerged as his successor.

Despite the obvious lessons of Milyukov’s fall, Kerensky, too, continued the war. After touring the front, he succeeded in rallying the weary troops for yet another offensive. Despite some initial successes, the Kerensky offensive stalled, with heavy loss of life, repeating the grim pattern of World War I.



Troops summoned by Aleksandr Kerensky from the front to suppress an uprising in 1917. CreditBridgeman Images

The zenith of Kerensky’s authority came with the July Days, a mass demonstration undertaken by the Bolsheviks but defeated by forces loyal to the government. With the failure of the July Days protest, Kerensky consolidated his position by becoming prime minister, replacing Lvov.

At almost exactly the same time, far away in Berlin, the socialist and social-democratic parties repented of their decision to endorse the war. Germans were almost as war-weary as Russians, with terrible casualties and widespread shortages caused by the Allies’ blockade. A resolution in the Reichstag, the German Parliament, passed by a large majority, called for a peace “without annexations or indemnities” — a return to the situation that had prevailed before war broke out.

By this time, however, Germany was effectively a military dictatorship. Power lay with the High Command, run by the generals Ludendorff and Hindenburg, both of whom were later to play prominent roles in bringing Hitler to power. Unsurprisingly, Ludendorff and Hindenburg ignored the Reichstag motion.

What is surprising, to anyone who has absorbed the standard victor’s view — according to which the Allies were fighting a defensive war to liberate small states — is that Britain was disingenuous about its war aims, while France declined to state them at all. The reason is that those aims were too discreditable to avow openly. In a series of secret treaties, they agreed in the event of victory to carve up the empires of their defeated enemies.

From the Russian viewpoint, the big prize was the Turkish capital, Constantinople, now called Istanbul; this was promised to Russia in a secret agreement in 1915. The subsequent publication of this and other secret treaties by the Bolsheviks did much to discredit the Allied cause.

Kerensky could have repudiated the deals made by the czarist empire and announced his willingness to accept the Reichstag formula of peace without annexations or indemnities. Perhaps the German High Command would have ignored the offer and continued fighting (as it did when the Bolsheviks offered the same terms after the October Revolution at the end of 1917). But the circumstances were far more favorable in July than they were at the end of 1917. As the Kerensky offensive demonstrated, the Russian Army, while demoralized, was still an effective fighting force, and the front line was far closer to the territory of the Central Powers. Moreover, Kerensky commanded credibility with the Western Allies that he could have used to good effect.

Kerensky’s determination to continue the war was a disaster. Within a few months, the armed forces were in open revolt. Lenin, who was transported across Germany in a sealed train with the High Command’s acquiescence in the hope that he would help to knock Russia out of the war, seized the opportunity. The provisional government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution. This Bolshevik Revolution consigned the February Revolution to historical oblivion.

After accepting a humiliating treaty imposed by the Germans, Russia was soon embroiled in a civil war more bloody and brutal than even World War I. By its end, the Bolshevik government, launched as a workers’ democracy, was effectively a dictatorship, enabling the ascendancy of a previously obscure Bolshevik, Joseph Stalin, who would become one of the great tyrants of history. On the other side, the German High Command’s rejection of peace similarly led to defeat, national humiliation and the emergence of the 20th century’s other great tyrant, Adolf Hitler.

We cannot tell whether a positive response from Kerensky to the Reichstag peace initiative would have achieved anything. But it is hard to imagine an outcome worse than the one that actually took place. The years of pointless bloodshed that brought Russia two revolutions turned out to be merely a foretaste of the decades of totalitarianism and total war to come. Kerensky’s failure was one of the great missed opportunities of history.

John Quiggin is a professor of economics at the University of Queensland.

This essay is part of a series about the legacy and history of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.

< 全文和訳例 >

オーストラリア、ブリズベーン発 ― 2月革命は、歴史における ”もし~だったならば” の非常に興味深い事例の一つと言えます。もし、この革命が ― 実際には、西欧の標準歴であるグレゴリウス歴(ロシアが採用したのは革命後のことです)によると3月初旬に発生しました ― その主導者達が望んだ様に、皇帝(ツァー)による専制支配を終わらせて立憲民主主義体制の樹立に成功していたならば、現在の世界は大きく様変わりしているはずなのです。










戦争に反対していた少数派に属する政治的主導者の中で、最も重要な人物がレーニン、及びメンシェヴィキ左派のユーリ・マルトフとレオン・トロツキーであり、彼らは皆国外に亡命していました。ロシアから遠く離れた亡命先のチューリヒにおいて、レーニンは、戦争を支持した人々を “社会的(好戦的)排外主義者” として非難する以外に、ほとんど為す術はありませんでした。







これとほぼ同じ時期に、ロシアから遠く離れたベルリンでは、社会主義及び社会民主主義を奉じる諸政党が、祖国の戦争遂行を支持したことを悔い改めるようになっていました。ドイツ国民も又、膨大な数の戦争犠牲者の発生や連合国による海上封鎖によって物資が不足していたことにより、ロシア国民と同様に戦争に嫌気がさしていました。ドイツ帝国の議会であるライヒスタグは、”新たな領土の変動や損害賠償” を一切求めない和平の実現 ― 大戦の開始以前の状態に復帰させる ― を要求する決議を圧倒的多数の賛成によって可決しました。


誰であれ、勝者による一方的な歴史的見解(勝てば官軍) ― それによると、英仏を中心とする連合国は、中央同盟国軍によって占領された小国を解放する為の防衛戦争を遂行していることになっていた ―  を受け入れている者にとって驚くべきことは、英国は戦争の目的に関して極めて不誠実であったというものです。その一方でフランスは秘密条約の存在について触れることを拒絶していましたが、その理由は、それらは公言するにはあまりに恥ずべきことだったからです。一連の秘密条約によって連合国は、勝利の暁には中央同盟を構成していたドイツ帝国とオーストリア・ハンガリー帝国を分割することに同意していました。






To be continued.