|Elites and Continuity: Georgii Chicherin and the foundations of Soviet foreign policy, 1904-1922|
|The theme of this presentation is continuity and change in the position of foreign political elites during the Russian revolution. It will be observed in the context created by changes in the legitimation of the state in modern society, after the French Revolution.
The person and policies of Georgii Vasilevich Chicherin (1872-1930) forms the case, through which theme of continuity and change in the Russian/Soviet foreign political administration and elites can be studied. The conflicts between continuity and revolution manifest themselves directly in the personal history of Chicherin, the founder of Soviet foreign service.
Chicerin’s background could have made him somewhat unexpected choice for the role. He came from an established and old Russian noble family, claiming heritage to the late 15th century, and having, at least since the 19th century, a tradition of diplomatic service in the Russian imperial administration. Chicerin had became interested in revolutionary movements after a personal crises in 1904, however supporting more often the mensheviks than the bolsheviks during his emigration from Russia in 1904-1918. Because of all this, it was by no means obvious, that he would succeed Trotsky as the people’s commissar of foreign affaires in 1918, almost immediately after his return to Russia. The main achievements of his tenure were the diplomatic defence of the new revolutionary regime under the challenges of the Russian civil war, and after it, the treaty on cooperation in Rapallo in 1922 with the Weimar Germany, the other “loser” of the “New World Order” after the First World War.
The central questions this presentation aims to deal with are as follows: What consequences the crisis shaking the Russian empire in 1905 and then breaking it in 1917-1922 had for both different interest groups aiming to power and to the established elites? Why a nobleman decided to join the revolutionaries, and how this became possible? What was his role in the formulation and implementation of the revolutionary regime’s foreign policy? Had the differences and continuities in Russian/Soviet foreign policy a connection to the challenges nationalism creates to multinational states, e.g. Russian empire or the Soviet Union?
Explanations to these questions will be based in roles of political interest groups in modernization of state administration, changing principles of legitimacy and differences in state-making between a nation-state and a multinational state. Comparisons of continuity among other elites, e.g. with the new Red Army, will also enlighten the case studied here.