Lenin (Reaktion Books - Critical Lives)
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After Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924) is the man most associated with communism and its influence and reach around the world. Lenin was the leader of the communist Bolshevik party during the October 1917 revolution in Russia, and he subsequently headed the Soviet state until 1924, bringing stability to the region and establishing a socialist economic and political system.
In Lenin, Lars T. Lih presents a striking new interpretation of Lenin’s political beliefs and strategies. Until now, Lenin has been portrayed as a pessimist with a dismissive view of the revolutionary potential of the workers. However, Lih reveals that underneath the sharp polemics, Lenin was actually a romantic enthusiast rather than a sour pragmatist, one who imposed meaning on the whirlwind of events going on around him. This concise and unique biography is based on wide-ranging new research that puts Lenin into the context both of Russian society and of the international socialist movement of the early twentieth century. It also sets the development of Lenin’s political outlook firmly within the framework of his family background and private life. In addition, the book’s images, which are taken from contemporary photographs, posters, and drawings, illustrate the features of Lenin’s world and time.
A vivid, non-ideological portrait, Lenin is an essential look at one of the key figures of modern history.
likely combination of qualities. Someone who combined both these qualities was the ideal ‘professional revolutionary’ – a functional necessity of an underground specifically of the konspiratsiia type. The conspiratorial revolutionary of the earlier populist underground was meant to replace a mass spd-like party, deemed impossible under Russian conditions. In contrast, the professional revolutionary of the konspiratsiia underground was supposed to make something resembling a mass spd-like party
bemoaned what he called ‘the revolutionary whirlwind’, a destructive and unhinged period during which the unreason of the mob left no 93 room for insight and intellect, as opposed to the safe and sane days of reasonable and constructive progress. Lenin exploded against this attempt to ‘spatter revolutionary periods and revolutionary methods of creating history with the slime of philistine indignation, condemnation and regret’.7 In response Lenin made a stirring defence of the ‘insight of the
thus a new party. Shortly after the Prague Conference Lenin and Krupskaya, accompanied by Zinoviev and his family, moved from Paris to Krakow in the Austrian section of Poland. Krakow was closer to Russia than any of Lenin’s previous exile locations and communi cation with Petersburg was relatively easy. The Bolshevik leadership nucleus considered this only a semi-exile. Lenin’s change of residence coincided with a new mood in Russia – an upsurge of disaffection and militancy. The shooting down
workload would be eased somewhat if war actually broke out, since his connections with the Russian underground would be thoroughly disrupted.1 But when war did come it brought some devastating surprises. Even after Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August 1914, the Social Democratic parties in Germany, Austro-Hungary and France were still organizing mass protests against war. The main German party newspaper, Vorwärts, continued to thunder against the imperialist war and to threaten the
revolution itself. Each of the three decades of Lenin’s political career matches up neatly with one of the three episodes. The full breakdown is given 196 in the table overleaf. The heroic scenario thus gives us a handy device for recalling the overall contours of Lenin’s career. Since the scenario was an interpretive framework for events, not a prediction of concrete outcomes, it could be mapped onto events in a variety of ways. For example, Lenin’s scenario posits a rapid spread of Social