The Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly as a Left-Democratic Alternative to the Communists and the Whites in the Civil War
Keywords:Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly, Soviets, people’s army, social state, agrarian and food issues
The Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly (Komuch) was an option in the Civil War that was essentially distinct from both the Soviet and the White alternatives. Komuch differed from the Soviet and the White authorities, as it was characterised by a combination of advanced socioeconomic policy and a dogmatically principled commitment to parliamentary democracy. In the event of the military victory of such a power, the success of the social democratic model was not guaranteed (as the history of Europe during the interwar period demonstrated), but Russia’s chances of moving along a path that combined a social state and democratic institutions would have increased markedly. While criticising, and in many respects rightly so, the military policy of the Bolsheviks, the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks had to partially restore market capitalist relations. Their successful development was possible with the cooperation of the government and the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie demanded the dismantlement of “socialist conquests”, which Komuch was not going to do – both for ideological reasons and because the capitalist economy had begun to disintegrate during World War I and the Revolution. Komuch’s path involved the combination of a market economy (not necessarily just capitalist), state regulation, and broad social rights. After the Bolshevik promises, the workers and peasants took it quite calmly, fearing the possible cancellation of the social gains of the Revolution and expressing dissatisfaction with violations of promised civil rights. But the bourgeoisie, convinced of the “inconsistency” of dismantling institutions that infringed on the right of private property, stood in sharp opposition to Komuch, betting on its opponents in the anti-Soviet camp. At the same time, Komuch did not have time to build a state system for monitoring compliance with social rights and had to rely on the activity of trade unions, which, due to their social function, were critical of the government – in this case, Komuch. Komuch followed the law regulating the socialisation of land adopted by the Constituent Assembly and proposed a relatively successful version of regulating the food supply for the cities. Initially, the people’s army created by Komuch was also successful (enjoying support from the Czechoslovak Corps). However, Komuch faced a blockade by the Provisional Siberian Government. It was the opposition of more right-wing forces in the rear that predetermined the defeat of the Komuch alternative.
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