A Short History of Communism

A Short History of Communism

Robert Harvey

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0312329091

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Today global communism seems just a terrible memory, an expressionist nightmare as horrific as Nazism and the Holocaust, or the slaughter in the First World War. Was it only just over a decade ago that stone-faced old men were still presiding over "workers" paradises in the name of "the people" while hundreds of millions endured grinding poverty under a system of mind-controlling servitude which did not hesitate to murder and imprison whole populations in the cause of "progress"? Or that the world seemed under threat from revolutionary hordes engulfing one country after another, backed by a vast military machine and the threat of nuclear annihilation?

In the 1970s, with the fall of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the march of Marxism-Leninism across the world seemed irresistible. Less than two decades later the experiment had collapsed, leaving perhaps 100 million dead, as well as economic devastation spanning continents. Even China now increasingly embraces free market economics. Only in a few backwaters does communism endure, as obsolete as rust-belt industry.

This book is the first global narrative history of that defining human experience. It weighs up the balance sheet: why did communism occur largely in countries wrenched from feudalism or colonialism to twentieth-century modernism, rather than--as Marx had predicted--in developed countries groaning under the weight of a parasitic middle class? Were coercion and state planning in fact the only way forward for backward countries? What was the explanation for its appeal -- not least among many highly intelligent observers in the West? Why did it grow so fast, and collapse with such startling suddenness?

A Short History of Communism sets out the whole epic story for the first time, a panorama of human idealism, cruelty, suffering and courage, and provides an intriguing new analysis.

The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

Essential Works of Lenin: "What Is to Be Done?" and Other Writings

The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky

Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life




















country in the world; and by 1975 real wages had risen by 40 per cent. The effort could not last: inflation and borrowing soared dizzyingly. Furthermore, the government’s efforts to increase private food production had not worked, so it began to backtrack. When the government felt it had to raise food prices in 1976, this provoked a furious outbreak of rioting by the workers, notably in Ursus and Radom, which the authorities dealt with very harshly. Poland was like a volcano, this explosion in

public outbreaks of strikes in February and March, the second of which brought further rumbles from Russia. A bitter power struggle took place between Walesa and the more militant members of Solidarity. In June, Russian growls grew to a roar as the Polish Workers’ Party Congress met to consider internal ‘democratization’. Infected by Solidarity’s example, the delegates were elected by secret ballot, demanded changes in the agenda and voted seven-eighths of the members off the Central Committee. A

real debate. Cossutta’s support, however, was derisory. The third group was the Party’s radical liberation wing, headed by the charismatic Petro Ingrao, some of whose followers had broken away in 1969 to form the far-left Manifesto group. By appealing to this group, which also favoured a left-wing alternative, Napolitano hoped eventually to gain a victory in the Party. In France the Communist Party went the other way. Faced by its inability to advance electorally, the Party did its utmost to

‘those fighting a jihad’, an Islamic holy war) also increasingly used arms captured from Russian and Afghan soldiers, and received some assistance from the Chinese. The Americans, for their part, only began supplying arms on a large scale under the Reagan administration: a few Sam-7s, in particular, the weapon the Afghans most wanted, found their way in to combat Russian Su-77 helicopter gunships. This supply of arms infuriated the Russians, who at first threatened Pakistan with dire retaliation

spontaneously in a number of cities and factories. Unlike previous protests, the army and the Cossacks did not intervene. With the best troops at the front, officers could not rely on raw recruits to fight strikers demanding relief from the hunger from which most of the soldiers’ families were suffering. On 11 March, troops fired on demonstrators in Znamenskaya Square on the orders of General Kharkov, who commanded the military district of Petrograd (as St Petersburg was now called). But

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