“Russian street” as a Social Communication Phenomenon within the Context of the Early 20th Century Socio-Political Crisis

Author: Nazarov A.D.

Communicology. 2019. Vol.7. No.2
Nazarov Alexander Danilovich, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), Professor at the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Institute of Foreign Languages  of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI).

Abstract. The article is devoted to the analysis of the sociopolitical and social phenomenon that dominated the life of Russian society in the pre-revolutionary period and the years of the Civil War of 1917-1922, known in expert circles as the “Russian street”. This phenomenon is marked by a significant dynamic of spontaneous protest moods, accompanied by moral and psychological problems, hunger, illness, the “horrors of life” of the protracted war, the inability of the tsarist and then the Provisional Governments to reverse the situation that gives Russians a sense of hopelessness, bitterness and hopelessness.
At the same time, the “street” served as a center of a certain type of democracy, where everyone could take part in political life, demand recognition and feel the course of history. Workers from the outskirts of large cities who went to their centers thus declared the streets “their own”, while acts against well-dressed people served as an expression of “self-affirmation and public authority”. As the economic crisis increased, the number of thefts, robberies and murders in the capital and large cities grew. In the post-October period, lynching, “pogroms of wine” spread, city streets became even more “kingdom” of refugees and homeless people, including beggars, criminals, young homeless. The de-urbanization process that began, as evidence of the desperate situation of the townspeople, their outflow to the villages, undermined the social base of the working class, curtailed its political activity, protests of this kind more and more often poured out into the streets, expressions of dissatisfaction, disappointment and even resistance prevailed. Calls not to forget about the historical significance of the proletarian revolution and the bright future, solidarity and patience did not act on the workers. Strikes at factories and plants periodically continued throughout the entire Civil War.
Western experts are not inclined to romanticize these protests, believing that the myth of a rational and disciplined proletariat was thus dispelled, and the Bolshevik government began to rule more and more on its behalf. Moreover, the working class in the person of its avant-garde RCP (b) turned into the ruling party, participated in the creation of the state apparatus at all levels, which gave it the right to solve the acute problems that arose with the use of violent methods, replacing political methods in time as the discontent grew. Prof. Paul Avrich called the striking feat of the Bolsheviks their success in curbing the rush of the working masses to a chaotic utopia.

Keywords:  revolution, civil war, protest moods, «Russian street» as the epicenter of public actions and meanings, the proletariat, social and political crisis, street violence, children’s homelessness

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For citation: Nazarov A.D. “Russian street” as a Social Communication Phenomenon within the Context of the Early 20th Century Socio-Political Crisis. Communicology (Russia). 2019. Vol. 7. No.2. Р. 165–175. DOI 10.21453/2311-3065-2019-7-2-165-175.

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