UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Peaceful coexistence : the development of a Soviet ideology, 1917-1963. Lahey, Dale Terrence


This essay, as the title suggests, traces the ideological development of the Soviet conception of 'peaceful coexistence' from the October revolution of 1917 to the present. It is limited to an analytical and historical study of the Soviet doctrine, ignoring the Yugoslav and Chinese versions of the same doctrine. As a consequence the research material has been confined wherever possible to Russian sources. The essay is organized into seven chapters. Chapter I is concerned with introductory material outlining Marx's law of capital accumulation', Lenin's 'law of unequal development', and Trotsky's 'law of continuous development'. An attempt is made to show that 'peaceful coexistence' is a marked departure from the earlier Marxian theories of revolutions. Chapter two traces the development of peaceful coexistence from 1917 to 1922. First used by Bukharin to attack Lenin's 'breathing-space' tactic, peaceful coexistence by 1920 had become firmly linked with-the Soviet government and its reluctance to attempt a trial of armed strength with the West. By 1922 peaceful co-existence was used, on the one hand, to justify Soviet abandonment of its military commitment to the proletariat abroad, and, on the other, to gain respectibility and equality for the Soviet Union at international conferences. Chapter III outlines the brief period between 1923 and 1927 during which peaceful coexistence underwent a change of name from mirnoe sozhitel'stvo to mirnoe sosushchestvovanie marking a hardening of Soviet attitude towards the West as communist military and economic strength increased. Chapter IV chronicles the period before the war (1928-39) during which peaceful coexistence degenerated as an ideology, serving first as justification for Soviet industrialization and finally as a tool to assure Russia's exclusion from the impending war. Chapter V covers the period 1940 to 1955. It traces the re-establishment of orthodox marxist doctrine, and the revival of 'peaceful coexistence' as a tactical means to allay the fears of the West. Its tremendous ideological development during the Malenkov interregnum and its crucial connection with the Indian pancha shila resulted in its transformation from an ideology of disengagement and isolation to a revolutionary doctrine equal, if not superior, to the pre-revolutionary Marxian theories of revolution. Chapter Six is a synthesis of development between the XX Party Congress of 1956 and the present. After a survey of the period the fully-developed basic theory of peaceful coexistence as a great revolutionary idea is outlined. Against this background are viewed the Soviet conceptions of morality, war, the class struggle, proletarian internationalism, revolution and counter-revolution, international law, the ideological struggle, and competition and collaboration. From this analysis an attempt is made to synthesis the real principles of peaceful coexistence. Chapter VII is a concluding chapter in which peaceful coexistence is presented as a moral, challenge to the West. This moral aspect is radical reinterpretation of the economic viewpoint of Marx and the political and military conceptions of Lenin and Trotsky. Peaceful coexistence is presented as a moral dilemma for the West to solve. The notes have been placed at the end of each chapter. The bibliography follows the notes to chapter VII. The translations of Russian texts, unless otherwise stated, have been made by the author.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.

Usage Statistics