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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was as easy as “lifting a feather.” The reason was that he had cleverly camouflaged the seizure of power by himself and his party as the transfer of “all power to the soviets,” which slogan promised grassroots democracy rather than dictatorship. Even Lenin’s socialist rivals, who suspected his intentions, were not terribly upset, convinced that a Bolshevik one-party dictatorship could not possibly last and would soon yield to a socialist coalition. They preferred to let him exercise power for a

“Fascist” varieties lies in the fact that the former thought globally while the latter focused on the nation: “Fascist” regimes, too, accepted the notion of class conflict but saw it as one between “have” and “have-not” nations. This was articulated by Mussolini in a speech to the Chamber of Deputies in 1921, a year before he seized power. Addressing the Communist deputies, he said: Between us and the Communists there are no political affinities but there are intellectual ones. Like you, we

veered leftward. He introduced a one-party government, carried out a radical land reform, and in 1960, with Soviet encouragement, expropriated all U.S. holdings, which led President Eisen-hower to retaliate with a trade embargo. The embargo in turnmade Cuba increasingly dependent on the Soviet Union. Moscow, though initially cautious in supporting Castro for fear of U.S. reaction, nevertheless found itself gradually drawn into Cuban politics, especially after April 1961, when Castro proclaimed

purposes: to seize private wealth and to qualify for Communist bloc assistance against domestic and foreign enemies. A classic example of such fraudulent invocation of Marxism is furnished by the Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who between 1974 and 1991 transformed his country into a full-fledged Soviet satellite. Member of a group of army officers disgruntled by slow promotions, Major Mengistu took part in a revolt that in September 1974 overthrew Ethiopia’s venerable emperor Haile

Chinese Communists claimed the right to practice and spread their own brand of Marxism and, to assert it, nearly waged war against the Soviet Union, their model and mentor. The Khmer Rouge went even further, seeking total self-sufficiency and insisting that its kind of Communism had nothing in common with the Russian or the Chinese. European Communist movements similarly demanded pluralism (“polycentrism”) even when Soviet power was at its height. The only way Moscow could neutralize these

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