But the Great Crash did not happen. The powers managed to sustain their apparently suicidal conflict despite vast financial cost and appalling human casualties. Once again, it seemed, capitalism was showing its adaptability. It was Lenin who offered a way through the intellectual logjam, like Engels using the rapier of a political pamphlet rather than the bludgeon of a scholarly tome.
In the end, after dithering on into the autumn, Lenin went for the jugular. He drove through the Bolshevik coup against the instincts of most of his colleagues and then accepted the humiliating peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk in order to preserve the new regime and foster revolution abroad. His aim was to turn the imperialist war into a Europe-wide civil war. Then I will close up the shop.
Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life | Reviews in History
In the s, when Trotskyite millennialist hopes fizzled out, this paradox was institutionalised in the Narkomindel and Comintern. The former was a conventional foreign ministry, seeking to build diplomatic and commercial relations with the capitalist world to avoid war and encirclement, while the Third Communist International dedicated itself to spreading revolution, especially in the colonial world.
Stalin was the supreme exponent of the pragmatic side of this dualistic foreign policy. In , to buy time for rearmament, he signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler in defiance of all Marxist-Leninist verities. When Hitler reverted to type in June and threw three million men against the USSR, Stalin — after a brief nervous breakdown — contrived a smooth U-turn to ally with the British empire and then capitalist America.
In , as the wartime alliance blossomed, he even abolished the Comintern. Revolution is no longer necessary everywhere. This was not mere rhetoric. After a ruinous war, in which perhaps one-seventh of the pre-war population had died, the USSR would need international peace and capitalist aid in order to rebuild. However, when the Bolsheviks gained only 25 percent of votes in the elections, Lenin overturned the results and used military force to prevent democratic assembly.
He established several state-centered government programs and policies that would continue, in some form, throughout the reign of the Soviet Union. His plan for national economic recovery, the GOLERO Plan was the first of this type and was designed to stimulate the economy by brining electricity to the whole of Russia. Lenin established a national free healthcare system and free public education.
He also established the Cheka, a secret police force to defend the success of the Russian Revolution and censor and control anti-Bolshevik newspapers and activists. Following two failed assassination attempts, Lenin, following a suggestion from a military leader named Joseph Stalin, authorized the start of the Red Terror, an execution order of former government officials under the Czar and Provisional Government, as well as the royal family.
- Search form.
- Short and Profane - A Political Humor Article Peppered With Profanity.
- All-American Boy;
- Works of Frances Harper?
- Karl Marx, Yesterday and Today | The New Yorker.
Shortly thereafter, the country dissolved into civil war between the ruling Bolsheviks and the White Guard, a loose alliance of anti-Bolshevik parties including tsarists, right-wing parties, nationalists and anti-communist left-wing parties. Following the end of the war in , Lenin established the New Economic Policy, which allowed for private businesses and a market economy, despite its direct contradiction with Marxist ideology.
He died in January of a heart attack.
Your guide to Karl Marx: who was he, what was the Communist Manifesto and why is he important?
As General Secretary under Lenin, he also oversaw brutal military actions throughout the civil war and led the invasion of Georgia to overthrow an unfriendly social-democratic government. In Georgia, Stalin took the lead in establishing a Bolshevik regime in the country hard-line policies that forcefully repressed any communist opposition. Over the next few years, Stalin isolated his major opponents in the Communist Party, eventually throwing them out, and became the unchallenged leader of the Soviet Union.
Marx has been for over a decade alternately celebrated or condemned as the prophet of 20th-century communism. Even more than 20 years after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the end of the Cold War, the association of Marx with the Soviet experience remains strong. Some undergraduates, encountering the subject for the first time, are even surprised to hear that Marx did not actually live in the 20th century.
The roots of this problem lie in the long history of tendentious writings on Karl Marx. Especially in the politically charged environment of the Cold War, one had to take sides.
Karl Marx at 200: What remains of his legacy?
Marx was idealized as a person and a thinker, and those elements of his thought were highlighted that bore most relevance to contemporary concerns. The first biography of Marx appeared two years after his death, written by Gustav Gross in In its fourth edition, it has been one of the most read works on Marx in English. The fact that Sperber needs to highlight the point that Marx was a figure from the 19th century shows how hard it has been to shake off the contemporary associations.
Sperber stresses, re-stresses, and ultimately perhaps over-stresses that we need to understand Marx as not primarily, but exclusively a 19th-century figure that by no means equates to, and in fact has virtually nothing to do with, the version of communism that came to be realized in the Soviet Union.
As Sperber describes the purpose of the book:. It might even be that Marx is more usefully understood as a backward-looking figure, who took the circumstances of the first half of the nineteenth century and projected them into the future, than as a surefooted and foresighted interpreter of historical trends. Such are the premises underlying this biography p.
While the associations of Marx and the Soviet Union might be waning, other presentist invocations have replaced them. It has for example become common in popular writing on Marx to begin with the claim that his ideas need to be better understood given the most recent crisis of capitalism. Such historiographical revisions have included downplaying the effects of the industrial revolution, and highlighting that religion was much more central to the period than previously assumed. Aside from the literature Sperber mentions, there has recently also been a revision of the history of socialist thought.
Intellectual historians such as Gareth Stedman Jones, Douglas Moggach, Warren Breckman and David Leopold have tried to correct the generalisations of older Marxist historiography with their detailed studies of Marx and his contemporaries, bringing to light the complexities of their ideas in their historical context. This means that almost everything Marx ever wrote, including mundane notes, is now available to the reader. The book, which is by the way a beautifully bound edition, stands out for its accessibility, clarity and the colourful picture it paints of its protagonist.
Throughout Sperber is concerned to explain as plainly as possible Marx and his circumstances, and to present him first and foremost as an accessible and understandable person. The book is characterized by great frankness. Sperber wants to demystify Marx and in order to do so he draws on all sorts of detailed stories and expert insights. Medical knowledge, for instance, is utilized throughout the book to explain facts such as the precise nature of the skin condition that Marx developed with age. This directness is a chief virtue of the book.
It is a demystifying mission which does not make Marx any less interesting — certainly an achievement which requires a greatly skilled historian.
- The Father of Communism influenced world events..
- Marx as prophet of the bottle collectors.
- Organix: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church.
The book is divided into three parts, each roughly pages in length. The early engagement, long before Marx was in a position to have a secure income, to a woman four years his senior without a dowry, defied 19th-century conventions.
Related The Fathers of Socialism: The Life and Legacy of Karl Marx
Copyright 2019 - All Right Reserved