Communism: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)
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.
1910 it stood at 10,000 or fewer in a country of over 150 million inhabitants. The Bolsheviks attracted largely Great Russians, while the Mensheviks had a higher proportion of the minorities (such as Jews and Georgians). Neither recruited many workers, being composed overwhelmingly of intellectuals. Then came the Great War. The Russian social democrats, Mensheviks and Bolsheviks alike, were—with the exception of the Serbians—the only socialists to vote against war credits. For their opposition,
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
terrorised and enslaved. Malcolm Muggeridge1 Preface This book is an introduction to Communism and, at the same time, its obituary. For it is quite certain that even if the quest for perfect social equality that had driven utopian communists since antiquity ever resumes, it will not take the form of Marxism-Leninism. The latter’s rout has been so complete that even post-Soviet Communists in Russia and elsewhere have abandoned it in favor of an eclectic social democratic platform laced with
improved because of two events that deeply affected the West’s self-confidence: the Depression and the rise of Nazism. The massive unemployment that struck the industrial democracies seemed to confirm Marx’s prediction that capitalism was condemned to undergo crises of mounting severity until it finally collapsed. The contrast between Communist Russia forging ahead with her grandiose program of economic construction that assured full employment and the idleness of Western industries convinced
in the 1860s. Until then, the vast majority of Russians, serfs of the state or of the nobles, had neither legal nor property rights. The earliest representative institutions, limiting the power of the Crown, emerged in 1906, centuries after European parliaments had come into being. There was no social legislation. This historical legacy meant that the majority of Russians and the nations they had conquered felt no stake in their government. They obeyed because they had no choice; their ideal,