The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution effected less change in the Soviet Union than most people think, Professor Richard Pipes said at a symposium yesterday.
Less than five years after the revolution, "tens of thousands of old bureaucrats" were back to work for the government, said Pipes, the Frank B. Baird Professor of History. In addition by 1921, about 85 percent of the armed forces were officers commissioned in the Tzarist era, he said.
While the Bolsheviks renounced Russian expansionism under Tzar Nicholas, within several years, they "began to behave in the imperial tradition," he said at the symposium on "Russia: The Continuities of Bureaucracy: State Power and Continental Empire."
Jane Burbank, a professor at the University of California, said Pipes' theory of continuity was "too general to have usefulness." Although the revolution tended to, Burbank said it spawned more changes than Pipes acknowledged.
As evidence, she argued that large changes must have occurred in Soviet society since it transformed from an agrarian state before the revolution to an industrialized world power 70 years later.
Adam B. Ulam, a professor of history and political science, said he believes that little change has occured in the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union has been expansionist throughout history and will continue to expand because, "that which stops growing begins to rot," Ulam said quoting a Soviet official.
Because of the many different nationalities inhabiting the Soviet Union, it cannot liberalize without running the risk of several nationalities "demanding autonomy or even independence," he said.