Comrades!: A History of World Communism

Comrades!: A History of World Communism

Robert Service

Language: English

Pages: 592

ISBN: 0674046994

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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Dairen for their naval facilities. Moscow also obtained rights over the railways in Manchuria. The Big Three still stayed together despite rising mutual distrust. They had agreed before the end of the war to the formation of a body to succeed the League of Nations. This would be the United Nations Organisation (or UN). Inaugurated in San Francisco, it was given permanent premises in New York. Its main purpose was the prevention of war in general. The USSR took its majestic place on the UN’s

communist parties were resilient under such pressure. Palmiro Togliatti, after years of Moscow exile, pestered Dimitrov for permission to return to Italy, where Pietro Secchia, soon to be made his party deputy, headed the Italian anti-fascist resistance.2 French communist leader Maurice Thorez too had spent the war in the Soviet capital, while his deputy Jacques Duclos stayed behind to co-ordinate the communist activity in the Maquis – and Thorez was itching to go back to his country. The

introducing political pluralism. When in 1990 he repealed the one-party system he was taking a huge gamble – and the resultant competition did much to undermine the Soviet order. The conclusion must be that communist governments grew stronger in direct proportion to their implementation of the Soviet model developed by Lenin and Stalin. Those states which could not or would not copy its fundamental features were vulnerable to internal dissolution or external intervention. Not only Nagy and Dubek

the Soviet Bloc, pp. 135–8. 29. Prezidium TsK KPSS, 1954–1964, vol. 1, pp. 196–202: Presidium meetings of 2–4 November 1956. 30. J. Callaghan, Cold War, Crisis and Conflict: The CPGB, 1951–1968, pp. 76–7. 31. Letter to the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee, 30 October 1956: reproduced in V. Zaslavsky, Lo Stalinismo e la sinistra italiana: dal mito dell’URSS alla fine del comunismo, 1945–1991, pp. 190–1. 32. Ibid., pp. 192–4. 33. M. P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power. National

exposing seeds to the cold of the Russian winter. Lysenko upheld the idea that plants could adapt themselves to virtually any conditions, acquire new characteristics and pass them on to the next generation.6 This way of thinking in the natural sciences gelled with how Stalin thought about humanity and about its potential for transformation. Outstanding genuine biologists such as Nikolai Vavilov perished in labour camps as counter-revolutionaries. Stalin later also laid down that Einstein’s theory

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