The political transformation of peasant Russia : peasant soviets in the middle Volga, 1917-1920
This study gives an account of village politics and social relations during the Russian Revolution and Civil War. It uses local archival materials and government publications from the middle Volga region (Samara, Saratov and Simbirsk provinces), which allows it to describe the events of these years from the viewpoint of the village and the volost (rural district). Section I examines the agrarian revolution of 1917 and, in particular, its peasant organisations, which, it is argued, emerged (in the form of peasant soviets) as the central political authorities in the countryside, once the old state structure had been destroyed. Left to themselves by the Bolshevik government in its first months of rule, the peasant soviets carried out the smallholding and egalitarian social ideals of the peasantry through vernacular forms of village democracy. Section II looks at these forms and their activities in the fields of trade control, property redistribution and land reform. The section also examines the relationship between the farming peasantry and other rural classes (eg. craftsmen, priests, immigrants).