What Might Have Been
The Russian Revolution is not a popular era of history to talk about. It is dark, bloody, and often times thrown in with the first World War. Although it took place at the end of the war, it is much different from it. It was the cause of many major historical events of the 20thcentury.
In Simon Sebag Montefiore’s opinionated article, “What If the Russian Revolution had Never Happened”, Montefiore takes a deep look at history and does his best to figure out what the outcome of the 20thcentury would have been, had the revolution never occurred. The author convinces the reader that this would have been a more peaceful century and far different from the world as the modern person knows it. The article states that without Vladmir Lenin and the Revolution, World War II would have never happened because Hitler’s rise to power came largely from the German, conservative elites who feared a Bolshevik revolution in Germany. Their fear easily fueled Hitler’s success. Similarly, Mao Zedong would not have conquered China without the aid of the Soviets. Stalin would have never come to power, meaning millions of lives would have been saved.
The Cold War would have never occurred either, but sadly, all these things did. As Montefiore’s thesis says, “The October Revolution, organized by Vladimir Lenin exactly a century ago, is still relevant today in ways that would have seemed unimaginable when Soviet Communism collapsed. (Montefiore)” Although it is a short thesis, it tells what the reader should expect to see in this article, and that is what is seen. “What if the Russian Revolution Had Never Happened” is a mediocre example of persuasive communication because the author speaks negatively of President Trump, bases his argument on what a non-revolution could possibly look like, and talks about the genocides that could have been avoided.In “What if the Russian Revolution had Never Happened”, Montefiore uses the technique of ethos to convince the reader that he is a credible, believable person. One of the first things he says in the article is, “President Trump is some ways the personification of a new Bolshevism of the right where the ends justify the means and acceptable tactics include lies and smears, and the exploitation of what Lenin called useful idiots.
(Montefiore)” Although the author’s writing is confusing, it is obvious that he is speaking negatively of the president.This idea may draw in a few people who do not appreciate Trump, but could also turn many readers away from this article. This also compares the leadership of the United States to that of Russia, which may be taken as a great insult by the reader, especially these days. Montefiore does have a couple good aspects of his use of ethos. He states accurate historical details such as the fall of the Ottoman empire, the Habsburgs, and the Romanovs.
He also tells about the reenactment of the storming of the winter palace in 1920. This could also be considered a fallacy. The reader is expected to take the author’s word for the fact the reenactment wasn’t an accurate representation of the original storming in 1918. All in all, Montefiore’s ethos usage was not very convincing and could have been used in a much better way.Montefiore also uses the logos appeal in his article. His entire argument isn’t based on something real.
It is what he imagines the world would have been like if the Russian Revolution had never happened. There is no proof that his article has value or truth. This could be considered a faulty causality. The author is saying that if there was no Russian Revolution, World War II would have never happened. Surely there were more causes and influences of the war than fear from German elites. Montefiore’s logic is off in that area as well as multiple others.
He is making many assumptions when it comes to predicting what might have been. There isn’t much evidence for his ideas. He presumptuously states, “Without the Russian Revolution of 1917, Hitler would likely have ended up painting postcards in one of the same flophouses where he started. No Lenin, no Hitler and the 20th century becomes unimaginable. (Montefiore)” What evidence is there that Hitler would have gone to art school and not been kicked out for a third time? The author is making a hasty generalization about what the 20thcentury might have been.
His logical appeal is not very strong and has many obvious flaws in it. In the end, this appeal is not very convincing and should have been stronger.A final technique used in Montefiore’s article is the Pathos appeal. He uses this skill wisely. He talks about how the world could have been more peaceful and the monarchies that would still be in place. More importantly, he talks about the millions of lives that could have been saved.
The author says that because of the Russian Revolution, many dictators were influenced to start mass genocides in their countries. This is a perfect way to bring out people’s emotions, just like the sentimental appeal. Many readers may have had a relation to one of these genocides. Although it may seem like a cruel way to convince someone, it definitely works.”It also gave birth to slave labor camps, economic catastrophe and untold psychological damage.
” This is also one way he is able to convince the reader of his opinion. By using this emotional appeal, Montefiore is showing where his strongest skills are. He is best at convincing readers through emotional appeal. Although he still uses some fallacies, this is one of his most convincing points throughout his article.Throughout “What if the Russian Revolution had Never Happened”, Simon Sebag Montefiore struggles to find something to convince readers of his point. All through the article, there is the underlying theme of pathos as he talks about genocide, but his usage of ethos and logos are not up to par.
He uses methods that are not necessary to make his point. His logic is off and the entire article is based on his assumptions. Although it was an intriguing article, the styles and techniques used throughout it are not as convincing as they could be. “What if the Russian Revolution Had Never Happened” is a mediocre example of persuasive communication because the author speaks negatively of President Trump, bases his argument on what a non-revolution could possibly look like, and talks about the genocides that could have been avoided. Due to the Russian Revolution, many things occurred that may not have if the revolution never happened, but the world will simply never know what might have been.
Works Cited:Montefiore, Simon Sebag. “What If the Russian Revolution Never Happened.” The New YorkTimes. 6 November 2017. nytimes.com/2017/11/06/opinion/russian-revolution-october.html.Accessed 28 September 2018.