No Illusions: Russia's Student Generation

As Russia navigates its current time of troubles, the identity of its youth, especially the elite in higher education, takes on greater importance than at any time since 1917.

Issue: Spring 1996

A century ago, the youth of Russia were notorious for their radicalism. By the end of the nineteenth century, their more extreme representatives had pioneered strategies of political terrorism against the Czarist state; attacked and led an ill-fated "crusade to the people" intended to spark insurrection among an allegedly restive peasantry; and embraced versions of Marxism that demanded the total, and if necessary violent, reconstruction of society. In the Bolshevik Revolution, this student generation came to power under the leadership of such figures as Lenin, Bukharin, Trotsky, and Stalin, all former student activists who had been expelled from college or otherwise punished for their radicalism.

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