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The Peasant Revolution in Ukraine

Description: CIUS Seminar Audio Part 1 and 2.

Bohdan Chomiak and Jars Balan, graduate students at the University of Alberta, presented a joint seminar entitled, "The Peasant Revolution in Ukraine" on April 3, 1979.

The seminar began with a brief introduction of three parts: (1) an examination of the current state of peasant studies; (2) a comparison between various Marxist and Narodnik (Populist) theoretical positions on the peasantry and the political perceptions held by the peasantry prior to the revolution; and finally, (3) an examination of the Ukrainian revolution, 1917 to 1921, whose unique features were described in comparison to the conditions in revolutionary Russia. The conclusion of the introduction gave the central themes for the seminar: a critical examination of the theoretical assumptions of Populism and Marxism concerning the peasantry, and an interpretation of the events of the peasant revolution in Ukraine.

The theoretical assumptions of Populism and Marxism did not have time to change during the revolution, and these movements acted on the basis of their prior beliefs. The speakers showed that both Marxism and Populism had inaccurate interpretations of the peasantry. The Marxist interpretation of the peasantry was inadequate because it had an unjustified belief in rural idiocy and in the cultural superiority of industry and city life. The Populist interpretation was incorrect because it overindulged in a romantic vision of the peasantry. The speakers traced both theories historically.

The peasant revolution occurred because of land hunger; war and revolution offered them the means to resolve this problem. The peasants measured different and successive regimes on the basis of their agrarian policies. The reaction of the peasantry to each regime manifested itself in four types of revolt: (1) land distribution, (2) cessation of cultivation, (3) political otamanschyna, and (4)banditry. Both speakers concluded that the peasant revolts stemmed from the failure of each regime to understand peasants’ needs; that the Bolsheviks won because they had urban support and because they gave concessions to the peasantry; and that the Bolsheviks would have lost had the peasantry not exhausted itself militarily.

Found in CIUS Newsletter Vol 3 Issue 2 (Spring 1979)
Author: CIUS
Publisher: CIUS
Date: April 3, 1979
Language: English, Ukrainian
Original Format: Magnetic tape, audio cassette

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CIUS, “The Peasant Revolution in Ukraine,” CIUS-Archives, accessed September 22, 2019, http://cius-archives.ca/items/show/1998.
Unless otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license .