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on 5 March 2018
I read these books years ago when studying for my first degree by the Russian Historical Specialist E.H. Carr - great books were wonderfully written and incisive - however, I saw the set of books being advertised and decided to buy them from "World of Books Ltd" they only sent the 3rd - and lied in order to justify the non-sending of the other two books
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on 12 August 2010
This is the first volume in Carr's monumental, 14-volume History of Soviet Russia. This brilliant introduction looks at the main lines of future development.

Carr mentions `the bloodless victory of the revolution in October 1917'.

Lenin defined the rule for party membership: "A member of the party is one who accepts its programme, and supports it both materially and by personal participation in one of its organisations." As Plekhanov wrote sensibly, "When we are told that social-democracy ought to guarantee full freedom of opinion to its members, it is forgotten that a political party is not an academy of science. ... Freedom of opinion in the party can and should be limited precisely because a party is a freely constituted union of men of like mind. Once identity of opinion vanishes, dissolution becomes inevitable." Carr sums up, "party members retained their freedom of action until, though only until, the party decision had been taken."

Carr cites a revolutionary who said, "In the struggle which was necessary many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and, with them, some innocent. These I deplore as much as anybody and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree." Who said this? Lenin? Che? No, the great American democrat Thomas Jefferson.

When the Menshevik authorities fired on a workers' gathering, in 1918, Lenin commented, "When we use shootings they turn Tolstoyans and shed crocodile tears over our harshness. They have forgotten how they helped Kerensky to drive the workers to the slaughter, keeping the secret treaties hidden in their pockets."

As Carr notes of the Social-Revolutionaries' attempted coup in May 1918, "the open revolt of the last considerable independent party had driven the regime a long step further on the road to the one-party state."

The separation of powers is only relative in class society. The idea reflected the brief period of triple power in early 17th-century Britain, when the king wielded executive power, the aristocracy ran the House of Lords and the bourgeoisie ran the House of Commons. But with the Commonwealth, the state became unitary. The legislature, the executive and the judiciary were different tools doing the same job, keeping the ruling class in power. This is true of bourgeois as of working class dictatorship. The notion of a separate and independent judiciary is a myth; the Lord Chancellor has legislative, executive and judicial powers; law is always an instrument of state power. (See J.A.G. Griffiths, The politics of the judiciary.)

Carr argues, "The very notion of a constitutional act implied in western thought a law to which the state itself was subject; this conception was incompatible with a doctrine which regarded law as a creation of the state." But this is undialectical: who makes the law? The people create both the state and the law. The people can apply to the state the laws they create.

Carr points out that the phrase `dictatorship of the proletariat' specifies which class rules; it is neutral on the form of government. The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is often wielded through a representative parliament. Dictatorship, in `dictatorship of the proletariat', does not necessarily mean the rule of one or a few.
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