From Revolution to Modernising Counter-Revolution in Russia, 1917–28

In: Historical Materialism
David Camfield Labour Studies Program & Sociology Department, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba Winnipeg Canada

Search for other papers by David Camfield in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This article presents a historical-materialist approach to key issues of revolution and counter-revolution and uses it to analyse what happened in Russia between 1917 and the late 1920s. What took place in 1917 was indeed a socialist revolution. However, by the end of 1918 working-class rule had been replaced with the rule of a working-class leadership layer that was improvising a fragile surplus-extracting state of proletarian origin. The eventual transformation of that layer into a new ruling class represented the triumph of a modernising counter-revolution. The decisive determinants of these developments were material pressures acting, first, on a working class plunged into catastrophic social crisis and war and then, after the Civil War, on the party-state leadership layer that sought to maintain its state against both European capitalist societies and the classes from which it had to extract surpluses. However, aspects of Bolshevik ideology also played a role.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1149 130 7
Full Text Views 191 14 0
PDF Views & Downloads 324 29 0