How did the idea of the "Soviet Union" (a union of councils) mutated/evolved into a “people's republic” (a certain ethnofederalism) with the ethnicities as the main building blocks?

For instace, a multi-ethnic Soviet republic like the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic dissolved into several ethnic people's republics.

Has the idea of an ethnicity-centered people's republics emerged at some point in the history of the Western-European Left, or is it observered only in the East Bloc?

Why the idea of the people's republics became the main form of the communist/socialist states in the East Bloc and the Third World?

  • 2
    The term itsself probably comes from the notion of a country being ruled by its peaple, as apposed to being ruled by a monarch. Otherwise see: People's republic - Wikipedia May 30, 2022 at 11:33
  • 2
    When learning about these "people's republics", keep in mind Voltaire's remark about the Holy Roman Empire: "This body which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was in no way holy, nor Roman, nor an empire." May 30, 2022 at 14:04
  • 3
    Is it possible that you misinterpret 'people's republic' (an established, albeit ambivalnt term) with perhaps sth like 'peoples' republic' (your assumed meaning, as I gather from your ethnofederalism angle)? An inquiry into the origins of the established term is answered differently than one into the origins of the 'ethnic' & thus basically nationalist resurgence in organising states. Please document your prior research & clarify which angle you mean. May 30, 2022 at 14:11
  • 1
    If I understand the question correctly (it's a little unclear to me), this is your answer: lib.uchicago.edu/collex/exhibits/soviet-imaginary/…
    – Brian Z
    May 30, 2022 at 14:25
  • 1
    I suspect that the dictatorship of the proletariat plays a role.
    – MCW
    May 31, 2022 at 14:28

1 Answer 1


Russia was a multi-national empire, like Austro-Hungary or Turkey, and there were strong national liberation movements since the second half of 19 century.

When the Russian monarchy was overthrown, some of them immediately declared independence. The first people's republics were Ukraine (1917) and Belarus (1918). In the process of civil war, Russia conquered them, but it was impossible to conquer them by a brute force only, a compromise had to be found. And this compromise was a federal state consisting of "people's republics".

  • From whom did the original idea come from? Are there any historical documents regarding the formation of this idea and its embedding within the Soviet model?
    – AlQuemist
    Jun 2, 2022 at 19:10
  • Furthermore, as I mentioned in the question, a non-ethnic political entity (like Bukharan People's Soviet Republic) were finally dissolved into several ethnic people's republics; why?
    – AlQuemist
    Jun 2, 2022 at 19:13
  • @AlQuemist: the documents that I know are in Russian.
    – Alex
    Jun 2, 2022 at 22:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.