The following paper analyzes the socialist debates on the national question up through 1914. I argue that an effective strategy of anti-colonial Marxism was first put forward by the borderland socialists, not the Bolsheviks. Lenin and his comrades lagged behind the non-Russian Marxists on this crucial issue well into the Civil War – and this political weakness helps explain the Bolshevik failure to build roots among dominated peoples.
Consequently, the Bolsheviks were either too numerically weak and/or indifferent to national aspirations to successfully lead socialist revolutions in the borderlands, facilitating the isolation of the Russian workers’ government and the subsequent rise of Stalinism.
Given that activists today continue to look to the Russian revolution for lessons on how to successfully challenge capitalism, engaging with this history has important implications for contemporary political practice.
The above quote is from the essay “National Liberation and Bolshevism Reexamined: A View from the Borderlands” by Eric Blanc; you can read the whole thing on the Socialist Project’s Bullet website here.