HISTORY OF THE PRE-REVOLUTIONARY ORIGINS OF THE USSR
2 April 1951
INTRODUCTION--Dr. M. S. Reichley,
Director of Instruction, ICAF
SPEAKER--Dr. Carroll Quigley,
Professor of History,
School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.
Publication No. L51-134
INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE OF THE ARMED FORCES
Washington, D. C.
Dr. Carroll Quigley, Professor of History, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 9 November 1910. He was educated at Boston Latin School (1924-1929) and at Harvard University, obtaining an A.B. (magna cum laude) in 1933, an M.A. in 1934, and a Ph.D. in 1938. He was an instructor in History at Princeton University (1935-1937), leaving there to do research work at the public archives of Paris and Milan on the Woodberry Lowery Traveling Fellowship of Harvard University. While abroad he wrote his doctoral dissertation on "The Public Administration of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, 1805-1814." From 1938 to 1941 he was instructor and tutor in the Division of History, Government, and Economics at Harvard University. Since 1941 he has been at the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University, at first as lecturer in History and now as Professor of History and Head of the Department of History. He is regarded as an authority on the comparative history of civilizations and the history of Europe in the twentieth century. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the American Economic Association, the American Anthropological Association, and other learned societies. He is engaged at present in writing two books, a two-volume general history of European civilization to be published by Knopf in May 1953 and a history of twentieth century Europe for which publication plans are still indefinite. His last published work was "Falsification of a Source in Risorgimento History" appearing in the "Journal of Modern History" for June 1949.
HISTORY OF THE PRE-REVOLUTIONARY ORIGINS OF THE USSR
2 April 1951
Gentlemen, this morning we are beginning a series of lectures within the Economic Potential course on the Soviet Union. Most of these will be basic in nature and are designed to lead to a more nearly complete understanding of the antecedents of present-day Russia. They will encompass historical regions, the geography, the people, the economy, and the military.
In scheduling this morning’s lecture, we came to the conclusion that our knowledge of modern Russia--that is, since the revolution--is fairly good. Contrarywise, we concluded that our knowledge of Russian history prior to the revolution is inadequate. Consequently, we called on Dr. Carroll Quigley, head of the Department of History, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, to lecture on this early period of Russian history. I am sure you can appreciate the job we have given him--l,900 years in 40 minutes. It gives me great pleasure to welcome to the college Dr. Quigley.
Dr. Reichley, General Holman, gentlemen. I am glad that Dr. Reichley began by pointing out the difficulty in this task. I was going to spend about 25 minutes of these 40 minutes emphasizing that fact. Now I won’t have to do that. This means I will have to get to the subject.
I want to begin by saying a few words about why we should study the history of any country, and I can perhaps point that out best by recalling to your minds the fact that a psychologist, when he wishes to inquire into your mental condition, when he wants to explain why you behave the way you do, usually commences by going back to your past. He will get you in at perhaps 25 dollars an hour and will ask you to recline on a couch and tell him what has happened to you up to that time--the further back you go the happier he gets. In fact, the theory of all psychology is that you can go back to the womb, apparently under the impression that what happened at that time has had a great effect on your behavior now.
Similarly, the historian believes that the patterns of thought and behavior, the ways in which a country reacts, are to be explained very largely in terms of its past experience. That is clear enough, I think. But causation is a multiple thing. I don’t think that the behavior of the Russian people or of the Russian Government can be explained by any single cause. There have been explanations based upon single causes given in the past, particularity in the past 10 years. For example, you will find books which will tell you quite simply that Russia is a barbaric country. Having given it that name, they have explained it. Or you will find those who will explain it in terms of the fact that it is an Asiatic country and that, after all, this conflict between the Russians and ourselves is a conflict between western culture and Asia. Or again, a very interesting book, which appeared five or six years ago, pointed out that Russia is a frontier community, and you can explain it in terms of that. It is a conflict in which people have been constantly going out and opening up new frontiers, at first in the wilderness; later in the open steppes and plains of Asia itself. This last explanation--that Russia is a frontier country--is the currently fashionable explanation.
But I would like to point out that all of these explanations are partial and not very satisfactory. Twenty years ago or 25 years ago the fashionable explanation of the United States was that it was a frontier community. That explanation, which was invented or discovered by Frederick Jackson Turner and is sometimes known as the Turner thesis, said that America is democratic, self-reliant, full of initiative, go-getiveness, and so forth, because it is a frontier community. Now if that is so, how can we explain Russia as a frontier community when we find in Russia characteristics which are quite distinct, in many places the exact opposite of those which we find in the United States. It is pretty clear to us that the United States and Russia are very different. Any explanation which would explain their characteristics in terms of the fact that they are both frontier communities is quite unsatisfactory. It is, however, apparently quite satisfactory to many Europeans, and at this moment, I suppose, in Europe the explanation that Russia is a frontier country, that the United States is a frontier country, and that they are both objectionable giants is widely accepted.
All this is by way of introduction. I am going to continue the introduction for a moment more and in the rest of this introduction I am going to try to give you my explanation. I want to begin, not by going back to Russia’s childhood or to the womb, but to Russia’s parents. Russia has two parents, just like most of us.
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