Lenin: a biography

30 September, 2007

Robert Service, Lenin: a biography. Macmillan, 2000

Unlike Orlando Figes, Robert Service notices Lenin stating in 1920: “We’ve always emphasised that a thing such a socialist revolution in a single country can’t be completed”. “Lenin’s zeal for spreading the October Revolution was undiminished… The prospects for an isolated Russia were pathetic”. Read the rest of this entry »

A People’s Tragedy

30 September, 2007

Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924. Jonathan Cape, 1996

Of Tsarism, the bourgeois liberals under Tsarism, the Provisional Government in 1917, the Whites in the Civil War, and even the Mensheviks and the SRs, what Figes has to say is pretty much what the Bolsheviks said of them. Read the rest of this entry »

Revolution et democratie chez Marx et Engels

14 September, 2007

Jacques Texier, Revolution et democratie chez Marx et Engels. Presses Universitaires de France, 1998

Reformist socialism? Who is there, who could there be, who would hold to such a doctrine today? As a positive scheme for a society of free and democratic cooperation, rather than as a negative hesitation at greater radicalism? Read the rest of this entry »

The God Delusion

10 September, 2007

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. Black Swan, 2007.

Like Clive Bradley in his review on the Workers’ Liberty website, I’m very glad that a book as combatively atheist as this has become a best-seller. Read the rest of this entry »

Mussolini’s Italy

9 September, 2007

R J B Bosworth, Mussolini’s Italy. Penguin, 2006.

Bosworth evidently has leftish sympathies, and his book gives a basic account of fascist Italy from Mussolini’s seizure of power in 1922 down to his last stand in the Nazi-backed “Salo Republic” in northern Italy in 1943-5. Along the way it offers many interesting snippets of fact. Read the rest of this entry »

La guerre civile russe, 1917-22

9 September, 2007

Jean-Jacques Marie, La guerre civile russe, 1917-1922. Editions Autrement, 2005.

Notice the dates: 1917-22. J-J Marie establishes that the conventional account, according to which the civil war was over by the start of 1921, and all the “emergency” measures by the Bolsheviks after that stemmed only from the Bolsheviks’ supposed lack of democratic understanding, is false. Read the rest of this entry »

Le mouvement ouvrier pendant la premiere guerre mondiale

9 September, 2007

Alfred Rosmer, Le mouvement ouvrier pendant la premiere guerre mondiale. Editions d’Avron, 1993 (two volumes)

Alfred Rosmer was a leading figure on the left of the revolutionary syndicalist movement in France before World War 1. Read the rest of this entry »

Before Stalinism (part 1)

9 September, 2007

Samuel Farber, Before Stalinism. Polity Press, 1990.

Sam Farber, justly respected for his critical Marxist writings on Cuba, sums up his attitude in this book by quoting Victor Serge, an anarchist who rallied to the Bolsheviks after October 1917, became an activist in the Left Opposition, and then parted ways with Trotsky over his, Serge’s, rejection of Trotsky’s criticisms of the POUM in the Spanish Civil War. Read the rest of this entry »

Before Stalinism (part 2)

8 September, 2007

Click here for part 1 of this post.
By early 1921, the civil war had finished, and so there was no good reason for relaxing the emergency measures? Read the rest of this entry »