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Leninism

Book Review: 'Lenin Life and Legacy'

Come to bury not to praise

'Lenin: Life and Legacy', by Dmitri Volkogonov (Harper Collins 1994. £25.)

The author of this 500-page book is a high-level Soviet Army officer who from the mid- 80s held the post of Director of the Institute of Military History and in August 1991 became Defence Adviser to President Yeltsin. Initially trained as a philosopher and historian, he researched and wrote a biography of Stalin in 1985 which found some disfavour in the military hierarchy, reinforced in early 1991 by his "un-Soviet" views in a history of World War Two.

Was Antonio Gramsci a Socialist?

This month sees the 80th anniversary of the death of an icon of the left – Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci (1891-1937) was an Italian political activist who was imprisoned by Mussolini’s Fascist regime in 1926 and died while still a captive 10 years later from a combination of illnesses. He was an undoubtedly courageous figure who fought difficult family circumstances when young to educate himself and became a prolific writer and editor for the emerging left-wing press in Italy in the second and third decade of the 20th century. He wrote intensively of the need for both workers’ rights and workers’ revolution and actively involved himself in the political action he advocated.

Jack Dash

When I last saw Jack Dash he lay dying in an East End hospital; he said he knew that his time had come, but hoped that he had contributed his bit to the struggle of his class. The time before that we sat in a pub and argued with the ferocity that good friendship allows. Although we were separated in age by half of a century, and in ideas by an even greater gulf, Jack and I were real mates. He was a marvellous story-teller, and able poet who could recite with passion and sing old cockney songs in ways that brought their class origins to life.

Book Review: 'The Seeds of Evil - Lenin & the Origins of Bolshevik Elitism'

Trotskyist Zealots & Stalinist Neanderthals

'The Seeds of Evil: Lenin & the Origins of Bolshevik Elitism,' by Robin Blick, Ferrington Press. 31-35 Gt. Ormond Street, London WC1. £5.

The front cover of this book shows a Russian doll. The top one is Stalin, underneath is Lenin and underneath Lenin is Robespierre, the Jacobin dictator who ruled France briefly in 1794. The theme of the book is that Lenin's elitist view that the workers needed to be led, and then ruled, by a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries had nothing in common with Marx's theory of the democratic self-emancipation of the working class, but derived ultimately from an organisational form developed to further the bourgeois minority revolution in France.

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