Communism: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)

Communism: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)

Richard Pipes

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0812968646

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


With astonishing authority and clarity, Richard Pipes has fused a lifetime’s scholarship into a single focused history of Communism, from its hopeful birth as a theory to its miserable death as a practice. At its heart, the book is a history of the Soviet Union, the most comprehensive reorganization of human society ever attempted by a nation-state. This is the story of how the agitation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, two mid-nineteenth-century European thinkers and writers, led to a great and terrible world religion that brought down a mighty empire, consumed the world in conflict, and left in its wake a devastation whose full costs can only now be tabulated.

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outbreak of the war). The combination of bad news from the front, political disaffection, and economic distress in the urban areas (the countryside was quiet, benefiting from higher prices on foodstuffs) created by October 1916 a revolutionary situation. The Russian Revolution of 1917 may be said to have begun in November of the preceding year, when the government came under intense assault from liberal and conservative Duma deputies for its conduct of the war. The leader of the liberals, Paul

an attempt to broaden Communism’s electoral appeal by disassociating it from its identification with Soviet repression and economic backwardness. The Eurocommunists, especially strong among intellectuals in France, Spain, and Italy, wanted to pursue a path more in conformity with Europe’s political traditions. Santiago Carrillo, the general secretary of the Spanish Communist Party, defined the movement’s objectives in 1976 as follows: The parties included in the “Eurocommunist” trend are

Communism struck root only in underdeveloped agrarian societies. Hence the recurrent pattern. The features of Marxism-Leninism that such countries copied were: 1) rule by a single, monopolistic party organized along military lines and owed unquestioned obedience; 2) this rule being exercised without any external restraints; 3) the abolition of private property in the means of production and the concurrent nationalization of all human and material resources; 4) disregard of human rights. Such

relearned it in 1920 when Polish workers and peasants rallied to defend their country from the invading Red Army come to “liberate” them from exploitation. This experience recurred time and again. Nor was it confined to so-called class societies. Even countries ruled by Communist governments, formally classless, chafed under Soviet domination and, whenever given a chance, broke loose of it. This happened first in Yugoslavia but most strikingly in China. Within a decade of coming to power, the

revolutionary Erfurt Program. In practice, however, it did exactly what Bernstein advocated, that is, emphasize trade unionism and electoral politics. (It formally abandoned Marxism only in 1959.) Thus European socialism during its heyday, the quarter century preceding the outbreak of World War I, moved in fact, if not always in theory, away from violent revolution and toward peaceful reform. But it steadfastly adhered to the belief in labor’s transnational solidarity. The Second International

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