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What if the White Army won the Russian Civil War

Discussion in 'World History' started by Normal Person, Nov 1, 2020.

  1. Normal Person

    Normal Person Chieftain

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    this is a question I've always wanted to know by people, and what they think about it. Here's the things I'm questioning:

    • What will Russia look like
    • What happens with Russia
    • How will this new Russia effect the World
    I wonder what you guys/gals think?
     
  2. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Biggest question is what do you mean by "won the civil war"? As in, kick out the Communists and retake all of Russia, or set up a rump state in the Far East?

    Both short and long term, I can't begin to imagine the changes. So much interwar history is reliant on the presence of the Soviet Union it would be like asking how the history of Rome would have changed if Caesar had been killed when captured by pirates.
    Without a Soviet Union, there is no sense of impending "world revolution" that drove so much of interwar politics. However, that doesn't mean socialist and communist parties are weaker. For the Whites to have survived it would have required even larger foreign interventions; it would also have allowed national communist and left wing parties to chart a national program without a need to stay on-side to the Soviets.
     
  3. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    The White Army was a very loose coalition of often radically opposed groups, held together mostly by their shared hostility to the Bolshevik government. Tsarists, liberals, ethnic nationalists, Cossack traditionalists, deranged messianic warlords. If the Bolsheviks are gone, these factions turn on each other and the conflict just rolls on, fighting each other. The tensions which toppled the old regime had erupted into open conflict before Lenin left Switzerland, and wouldn't simply dissipate if he left Moscow.

    It would probably turn out like Mexico, dragging on for a decade or more, and the factions and personalities who end the conflict are totally different from those who started it.

    I think that you probably end up with some conservative nationalist regime, but what that regime looks like or calls itself, and what it's borders turn out to be, is anyone's guess, and would probably have been as much a surprise to the participants as it would be for us.
     
  4. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Deity

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    I'd expect a Kolchak/Denikin/Wrangel figure to prevail over liberals and Ungern-Sternberg-like loons. The regime could be nominally republican or a Franco/Horthy-style "kingdom without a king" (the latter could pose some problems in relation to popular czarist ideology). The victors would have to accept some national independence on the periphery in order to prevail, but they definitely would attempt to assimilate Ukraine/Belarus completely.

    I don't think it would be possible for Whites to win without offering some concessions to peasants - something they IRL firmly refused to do until near-defeat. In the alternate history of their victory, some populist "land toilers stand with God and the general" agrarianism is likely as a justifying ideology.

    The new regime would be quite antisemitic, although the extent of it depends on the circumstances of the victory.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2020
  5. sendos

    sendos Immortal

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    Perhaps the end result would be a return to the Tsar, or some new monarch or sorts. Whether it would be imperialist or not is another question altogether.

    What I'd imagine is how would WWII would have panned out? I reckon the Nazis would have rolled over Russia and knocked them out of the war (again, considering WWI). At least WWII would have lasted longer to a point that the US would probably have nuked Germany as well to end it.

    Then imagine the Cold War, instead of 40 years of cold war rivalry, you have 70 years of uninterrupted US hegemony and counting. That then leads to questions whether communism would have taken hold in other countries, especially China, because they were inspired by the Bolsheviks? It is certainly a far reaching hypothetical.
     
  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    That would probably depend on how the war ends. One of the things that happened between 1914 and 1918, in part as a result of the Russian Revolution, was a shift in the "default" form of government in Europe from monarchy to republic. All of the Christian states pried away from the Ottoman Empire were constituted as kingdoms, as were the planned puppet-states which the Germans created along the Russian border. Even the Irish Volunteers briefly flirted with a monarchy for an independent Ireland, which would like the rest be filled by some minor Hohenzollern or other. (There's an angle from which pre-war European nationalism can be viewed as a sort of make-work scheme for underemployed German princes.) But the new regimes that emerged in the former Hohenzollern, Romanov and Hapsburg empires after 1918 were almost uniformly republican; even the one nominal kingdom, Hungary, never actually crowned a monarch.

    If the background to a White victory is the victory of the Central Powers in the Great War, then we might expect the new Russian regime to be a monarchy, although I would expect this to involve a dynastic change and a restyling as something like "King of the Russians". If the Allies win, I think we see a restored Russian Republic, if perhaps not a very democratic one. I think Tsarism was a dead letter even by 1918; the closest outcome is some Romanov cousin taking the throne with some of the trappings of the old monarchy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
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  7. sendos

    sendos Immortal

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    Perhaps. This might be stereotypical of Russians, but I thought they tend to revere authoritarian leaders more, and thus be more inclined to some form of authoritarian regime.
     
  8. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I think that "strong man" regimes, are a symptom of weak or poorly-trusted institutions, not of cultures. Some sort of authoritarian regime is likely to have emerged in a hypothetical White victory in Russia, but for the same reasons that they emerged in Mexico, Poland or Turkey: the institutions of the old regime were rotten, and to a great extent did not survive the revolutionary period, so the new regime is compelled to present some great, heroic personality to hold things together. In countries where civic institutions survive a revolutionary period intact and with a high degree of credibility, like Ireland or Finland, authoritarian regimes don't tend to emerge.
     
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  9. onejayhawk

    onejayhawk Afflicted with reason

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    To me the question is whether one person would be able to take over the after war government. The specific person is less important than the end of the factionism. If not, the islamic south might have been able to break away. Japan might have annexed the far east prior to their invasion of Manchuria.

    It is entirely possible a different oligarch would have arisen, but it is hard to imagine someone worse than Stalin. That would be the biggest change.

    J
     
  10. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

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    A great question, and indeed one with far-reaching hypotheticals. I think it's more interesting than, "what if Caesar had been killed by pirates?" because Caesar was not the first to cross the Rubicon (figuratively), and in all likelihood would not have been the last. Whether it had been Crassus, Pompey, or someone else a decade later, the Roman Republic was in all likelihood too far gone to avoid its fate by 50 BC.

    Whereas the formation of the Soviet Union was far from a foregone conclusion, and the actual change of stature of the USSR on the world stage relative to Tsarist Russia was much greater than the change in stature of the Roman Empire relative to the Roman Republic.

    One angle that has only briefly been touched on here that I find interesting is what if the reason the Whites win involves the Great War going differently? As it was, by the time Lenin made peace with Germany, the ball was already rolling, and the appetite for foreign influence to change the outcome was limited at best. But what is Tsar Nikolai had been more in tune with the domestic problems, and prioritized them, instead of going off to lead the troops on the front while leaving the Tsarina in charge of a deteriorating situation in St. Petersburg? What if he had read the tea leaves and pressed the Central Powers for a separate peace in 1915 or early 1916? Would the Tsarist regime have collapsed? If there had been a civil war, it would arguably have been in a considerably stronger position to resist the Communists than it was in real life. If not an outright victory, perhaps the Tsar could have at least negotiated a compromise where he retained some of his powers but ceded others to the Duma.

    And how would that have affected the rest of the war? By securing peace on the eastern front in 1915 or 1916, Germany would have been able to reallocate hundreds of thousands of troops to the west a year or two earlier than they really did, quite possibly overwhelming France; similarly Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire would have been able to allocate more troops to defeating Italy. The United States may not have ever entered the war. Even if the Central Powers didn't outright win, they likely would have made some gains and perhaps been able to secure a favorable peace treaty with the Western Allies. Thus avoiding the Treaty of Versailles, the stab-in-the-back theory, and many of the causes behind the rise of Nazism in Germany. Maybe World War II could have been avoided, or at least not featured as many horrors.

    Or perhaps Kaiser Wilhelm imposes a Versailles-like treaty on France and we see a Paris-Rome-Tokyo Axis as a result. There are myriad possibilities.
     

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