Customer Reviews

1 Review
5 star:    (0)
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
Most Helpful First | Newest First

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Third Camp' socialism, 16 Mar. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Fate of the Russian Revolution: v. 1: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism (Paperback)
Socialism against Stalinism
One fact, and one fact only, gives intellectual weight to the Right's claim about the "old left" being discredited. That fact is the history of the USSR and the left's attitude to it.
For much of the 20th century most socialists saw the USSR as some sort of progressive alternative to capitalism. Many of them deplored or even denounced the regime in the Kremlin, and criticised its backsliding from socialist ideals. Nevertheless, they saw a thread of connection between 1917, the great-power Soviet Union after 1945, and the revolutions which were made more or less under the Soviet Union's protection and on its model, in China, Vietnam, Cuba and other countries. All these were landmarks on history's way forward, although that way had many more twists and potholes than they wished.
The collapse of 1989-91 in Eastern Europe and the USSR, and the events in Tienanmen Square in China, showed that this whole imposing structure of supposed progress was rotten inside. It was not incomplete, partial, or distorted progress, but no progress at all.
Back in the 1930s and 1940s, however, a small but talented group of socialist writers had developed a critical analysis which showed that the Stalinist system was no progress at all from a socialist point of view. These writers - who included Max Shachtman and CLR James - rediscovered and developed old radical ideas like James Connolly's: "State ownership and control is not necessarily socialist - if it were then the army and the navy, the judges, the gaolers, and informers and the hangmen would all be socialist functionaries, as they are all state officials..." They worked out their ideas step-by-step, through responding to events as the USSR developed from a beleaguered outpost to become the second - after the USA - of the world's two great rival bastions of entrenched minority power and privilege. They did much of their work in the teeth of all conventional wisdom, in the wartime years when the Establishments of Britain and the USA suddenly became great admirers of "Uncle Joe" Stalin. Their ideas were marginalised in the hard years of the 1950s and '60s, when the idea of socialist opposition to both capitalism and Stalinism seemed impossibly remote, and largely unavailable to the new lefts that developed as the Communist Parties lost their dominance of radical thought.
As we look to remake socialism as a critical force for liberation and change - it is well worth critically examining the past with an eye to ensuring the socialist movements of the future are committed to democracy and liberty.
I think this book helps. The writings are clear, sharp and often brilliant. If you haven't read Shachtman before - get this book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Fate of the Russian Revolution: v. 1: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews