Comrades!: A History of World Communism
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Almost two decades after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, leading historian Robert Service examines the history of communism throughout the world. Comrades! moves from Marx and Lenin to Mao and Castro and beyond to trace communism from its beginnings to the present day. Offering vivid portraits of the protagonists and decisive events in communist history, Service looks not only at the high politics of communist regimes but also at the social conditions that led millions to support communism in so many countries. After outlining communism’s origins with Marx and Engels and its first success with Lenin and the Russian Revolution in 1917, Service examines the Soviet bloc, long-lasting regimes like Yugoslavia and Cuba, the Chinese revolution, the spread of communism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and the international links among the hundreds of parties. He covers communism’s organization and ideology as well as its general appeal. He looks at abortive communist revolutions and at the ineffectual parties in the United States and elsewhere. Service offers a human view of the story as well as a global analysis. His uncomfortable conclusion―and an important message for the twenty-first century―is that although communism in its original form is now dying or dead, the poverty and injustice that enabled its rise are still dangerously alive. Unsettling and compellingly written, Comrades! is the most comprehensive study of one of the most important movements of the modern world.
communism in the past and present. But something was lost in the process. Writers in the 1960s – and this included Carr and Deutscher as well as Conquest and Pipes – had agreed that the Soviet state was characterised by huge central power which was frequently wielded with extreme brutality. Revisionists suffered a lapse in analytical imagination; in some cases this bordered on moral blindness.27 Yet the angry discussion directed light on to shadowy corners of communism. More was known than in
United Nations Security Council, 25 March 1982, Comunicado de Prensa: Permanent Mission to the U.N., no. 035 G. Orwell, Animal Farm (London, 1945) F. M. Ottanelli, The Communist Party of the United States: From the Depression to World War II (New Brunswick, 1991) A. Paczkowski, The Spring Will Be Ours: Poland and the Poles from Occupation to Freedom (Philadelphia, 2003) R. Page Arnot, A Short History of the Russian Revolution: From 1905 to the Present Day (London, 1937) A. V. Pantsov, ‘Kak
daily responsibility to a small number of leaders. Even the five-person Politburo met infrequently. Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov operated a virtual diarchy until Sverdlov’s death in March 1919.4 The same trend existed at lower levels. As leading activists volunteered or were mobilised for army service, party business fell to committee chairmen acting alone or with a handful of subordinates. Although in 1920 the chairmen were redesignated as ‘secretaries’, the more modest title disguised an increase
elevated it still further. The subsequent failure of central and western far-left socialists to reproduce this revolutionary success added to the status of Lenin, Trotski and their comrades. It was in this situation that the Comintern Second Congress agreed to the twenty-one conditions for membership which Lenin had drafted. These conditions were modelled on the rules of the Russian Communist Party. Principles of centralism, obedience and selectivity were imposed. The Executive Committee of
and obtain paid employment. Attitudes were transferred from countryside and were hard to dislodge. Having evacuated the space reserved for religion, communist officials witnessed it being filled by notions which predated the spread of Christianity to Russia. PART THREE DEVELOPMENT 1929–1947 14. WORLD STRATEGY The jettisoning of the New Economic Policy in 1928 helped to buoy up the revolutionary radicalism of Soviet foreign policy. Comrades around the globe were ordered to