The long awaited re-release of Emma Goldman's My Disillusionment in Russia was well worth the wait. This is simply a marvelous book.
This book continues the tradition of Bakunin (a contemporary of Marx) who argued that Marxism would lead to a state authoritarianism that would be just as exploitive and alienating as bourgeois capitalistic "democracies" if not more so. Goldman shows, as she would later argue in her essay "There is No Communism in Russia," that Marxist run economies and governments merely supplant the bourgeoisie as employer and coercive authority. They do not empower workers and communities to run their own affairs along free and cooperative socialistic lines.
Like many leftists during her time, Goldman initially supported the communist accession to power as preferable to the Tsarist regime. But her support was largely based on reports given by communists in the pay of the Bolsheviks. Goldman was deported from the USA because she spoke publicly against the draft. Although she probably would have won the case, she decided not appeal the deportation order because she wanted to lend her services to the Russian people and their revoution. It required little time for her to realize that Bolshevik claims for progress belied the reality in Russia. Everywhere she saw evidence of mass starvation, extreme censorship, political oppression, cronyism, mass imprisonments and executions, and the tacit contempt the Russian people had for the Bolsheviks. Her descriptions of Lenin should help to settle oft-repeated lie that Stalin was a Leninist aberration. He was the natural, if more efficient, successor of Lenin.
She deftly refutes the Marxian apologetic that only countries that have experienced extensive capitalistic development are best suited to enter into a revolutionary phase. If that is so, she asks, then why haven't England, Germany and the USA experienced the social revolution Marx predicted? She demonstrates that the Bolsheviks were more concerned with power than socialism and replaced the revolution with statism. The people, not the Bolsheviks, brought about the revolution in Russia, she argues. The Bolsheviks stole and then murdered it.
The narrative style of this work makes it riveting and real. Readers will get a good sense of the distinction between the libertarian socialism advocated by anarchism and the faux socialism advocated by Marxism. This is a great book.