The Baltic Caucasus And Elsewhere

Nationality movements in the Russian Empire shared many common features, and so the Ukrainian case study suggests many of the main features of them generally. Still, each major nationality had its own special situation and each movement its own characteristics. The neighboring Latvian and Estonians were both peoples incorporated into the Russian state during the eighteenth century and divided among multiple administrative districts. Both were traditionally peasant peoples, but with recently developed urban working and middle class populations. The minority "Baltic German" pop-

illation had long dominated the area politically and economically, and thus emerging national consciousness was directed more against them than Russians. In both areas, strong national movements developed rapidly in 1917 and demanded the creation of separate administrative entities based on ethnic lines. They prospered by combining extensive socialism with ethnic identity and calling for autonomy within a federal Russian state, use of native language in schools and administrations, ethnic military formations, and other demands common to most nationality autonomy movements. In Latvia, the Bolshevik-dominated Latvian Social Democratic Party combined national identity and demands for radical social-economic reform to become the principal party by summer 1917. In Estonia, the nationalists were a combination of liberals and moderate socialists, and were challenged by city soviets representing mostly Russian and other non-Estonians and inclined toward the Bolsheviks and Left SRs. In both Latvia and Estonia, workers and peasants appear to have been concerned primarily with economic issues and to have supported parties with strong social platforms. How important nationality issues were is hard to gauge as all successful parties, including Bolsheviks, used the Estonian or Latvian language and stressed national language use and local autonomy in their platforms.

Across the Russian state in the Caucasus Mountains region, the demand for national political autonomy was weaker and a clear nationalist movement developed somewhat more slowly, although ethnic-nationality identity was quite strong. The situation differed among the three major populations. Armenians, an ancient and distinct Christian people, were spread across the Russian, Turkish, and Persian borders, and had been profoundly affected by the massive massacres of Armenians in Turkey before and during World War I. Their large merchant class, dispersed among the cities of the area, also gave Armenian identity a peculiar twist. The result was the emergence of a dominant political movement that stressed cultural-national identity and ethnic survival above all else, with only mild socialist tendencies. Most important, their survival depended on Russian protection from the Turks, and so autonomy sentiments were muted throughout 1917, emerging only with the collapse of Russian state authority at the end of 1917. In Georgia, a national movement somewhat similar to that in Latvia unfolded. A Marxist party, in this case Mensheviks, already had succeeded in blending national identity with class (Georgians were mostly rural, while (he capital city of Tiflis [Tbilisi] was dominated by an Armenian merchant class and Russian political administrators). Despite the heritage of their own Orthodox Christian church and language, and a historic Georgian state before being annexed by Russia at the beginning of the nineteenth century, nationality-based autonomy had only weak appeal in Georgia. The domi nant Menshevik party rejected nationalist separation, and that plus the security provided by Russia worked against separatist sentiment. The latter emerged only after the Bolshevik seizure of power and collapse of central authority forced the issue in the winter of 1917-18. The third major population group, Muslim by religion, Turkish ethnically, and culturally influenced by Persia, had an even weaker sense of identity and was just beginning to be collectively celled Azerbaijani. Although they too were forced to form an independent state after the breakup of Russia in early 1918, this flowed more from events than as a result of a vigorous nationalist movement.

The large Muslim and mostly Turkic-speaking population of Russia was united by a common religion, but divided in many ways: by spoken language, history, geography, social- cultural characteristics, social-economic class, nomadism, ethnicity, and a sense of being different peoples. In many areas, especially Central Asia, identities were not well fixed in modern nationality terms. Although Central Asia produced movements for territorial autonomy along ethnic lines, as well as an unsuccessful pan-Muslim movement, the most important conflicts of 1917 were between Muslim modernizing reformers and culturally conservative, clerical-led forces. There were, however, major conflicts between "natives" and Russian settlers (especially in Central Asia), between Russians and Tatars along the Volga River, and between Armenians and Azerbaijani in the Caucasus, as well as among other groups. Nonetheless, nationality-oriented movements gained strength through the course of the revolution and civil war, with great importance not only for the civil war, but for the contemporary history of these areas and the modern states now existing there, and their relationships with Russia.

The situation and behavior of one of the largest minorities, the Jews, was unique. Russia's Jews greeted the overthrow of tsarism enthusiastically. Jews had been especially subjected to official discrimination as well as anti-Semitic riots—pogroms—in late Imperial Russia. More than any group, they benefited directly and immediately from the abolition of laws discriminating against people on religious or nationality grounds. The end of the restrictions led to a remarkable outpouring of activity: publication of newspapers and books in Hebrew and Yiddish, Jewish musical societies, Yiddish and Hebrew theatrical performances, expansion of religious schools, establishment of self-governing councils, and other expressions of Jewish identity and culture. Individuals obtained the freedom to pursue previously restricted professional and educational opportunities and to hold important public positions. At the same time, the revolution forced Jews to debate their identity as a people, perhaps as a nationality, and how they as an identi-

fiable group should respond to the revolution. This was complicated by the fact that Jews were scattered geographically along the western edge of the state rather than occupying a traditional homeland in which they were the majority, as other groups did. Moreover, more than a third of Russia's Jews were in territories under German occupation. Given their dispersed settlement, most Jewish leaders argued for some kind of national-cultural autonomy rather than national-territorial autonomy, as most large minorities did. National-cultural autonomy assumed that the Jews were a nationality who should have some kind of regional and nationwide assemblies within a federal Russian state to speak for all Jews no matter where they lived, as well as communal self-governance for their communities within the cities and towns where they resided. A special and internally divisive Jewish issue was the Zionist call for emigration from Russia to set up a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

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