The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

Vladimir Tismaneanu

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0520239725

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Devil in History is a provocative analysis of the relationship between communism and fascism. Reflecting the author’s personal experiences within communist totalitarianism, this is a book about political passions, radicalism, utopian ideals, and their catastrophic consequences in the twentieth century’s experiments in social engineering. Vladimir Tismaneanu brilliantly compares communism and fascism as competing, sometimes overlapping, and occasionally strikingly similar systems of political totalitarianism. He examines the inherent ideological appeal of these radical, revolutionary political movements, the visions of salvation and revolution they pursued, the value and types of charisma of leaders within these political movements, the place of violence within these systems, and their legacies in contemporary politics.

The author discusses thinkers who have shaped contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements—people such as Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes, and Robert C. Tucker. As much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures, this book deals with the incarnation of diabolically nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals. Ultimately, the author claims that no ideological commitment, no matter how absorbing, should ever prevail over the sanctity of human life. He comes to the conclusion that no party, movement, or leader holds the right to dictate to the followers to renounce their critical faculties and to embrace a pseudo-miraculous, a mystically self-centered, delusional vision of mandatory happiness.

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Radio Moscow. He returned to the country with Ana Pauker, Vasile Luca, and Valter Roman, and initiated a domestic version of Zhdanovism. In one of his most vehemently Zhdanovite speeches, “Against Cosmopolitanism and Objectivism in Social Sciences,”92 R{utu declared war on everything that was worthy in the national culture: “The channels by which cosmopolitan views become pervasive, especially among intellectuals, are well known: servility to and kowtowing to bourgeois culture, the empty talk of

contrast with the slow, bureaucratic functioning of CEMA [Council for Economic Mutual Assistance]. We thought about acquiring . . . modern technology and joining in the greatest achievements of world culture. In other words, we dreamed of reforming Russia.”75 In other words, if for some revisionist intellectuals in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union the conclusion of the events of 1968 led them toward liberal opposition, for others, especially in the Moscow center, the lesson was a different

credibility. Gorbachev’s injunctions received lukewarm support from those he wished to mobilize. It was no surprise that it was the liberals and the radical Westernizers who ousted Gorbachev from power. The CPSU leader became a victim of his own policies because he underestimated the detachment between the will for revolutionary change in the Soviet bloc and the preservation of the organizational big picture in the area. He overlooked what I would call, employing Mark Kramer’s terminology, “the

Soviet interventionist regime (under the Brezhnev doctrine), now proved the catalyst for the lightning speed of change and for the flux of ideas about it: Having begun as a largely unidirectional phenomenon in 1986–1988, the spillover became bidirectional in 1989 but then shifted back to a unidirectional pattern in 1990–1991. Unlike in 1986–1988, however, the direction of the spillover in 1990–1991 was mainly from Eastern Europe into the Soviet Union. . . . The paradox of the changes that

freedom is to be replaced by “species freedom”—the liberation of mankind’s communal nature.42 Subsequently, the fundamental utopian element of this totalizing polity was the drive toward fulfilling such a free society. Leninism argued for a telos of “democratic dictatorship” (allegedly the only real democracy) and for communism, with the party as the magical entity injecting the necessary consciousness and offering the type of leadership for the completion of this journey.43 Neil Robinson argues:

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