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Book Review: 'Political Pilgrims - Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China and Cuba'

The pilgrim's tale

Book Review - Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China and Cuba. Paul Hollander (Harper, 1983)

This book provides a comprehensive catalogue of the statements, of varying degrees of fatuity, of those who have visited Russia and other so-called communist countries and have mostly come back with tales of how very much better things are over there. Two quotations show how ridiculous widely respected individuals can become when they put their critical faculties to one side. One of the earliest pilgrims, Bernard Shaw (Rationalisation of Russia) had this to say about the Russian prison system:

Bolshevism and the Third International

By no means unanimous will be the interpretations placed on the programmes formed at the recent seventh World Congress of the Communist International. The official Communist Parties, of course, hail these programmes as the highest expression of revolutionary political wisdom, calculated to promote the best interests of the world proletariat, at the same time aiding the "Socialist Fatherland" in its unparalleled task of building up Socialism within its borders. The Communist opposition parties, with Trotsky as their moving spirit, see in these programmes full justification for their claim that as a force making for world revolution the Communist International is utterly dead. Groups like the Proletarian Party of America will no doubt continue in their role of reluctant apologists for the rank opportunism of the Communist International. Socialists, however, will content themselves with pointing out the non-Socialist character of these programmes.

Book Review - 'The ABC of Communism'

Bolshevik primer

'The ABC of Communism' by N. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky. Penguin, 8s.

For half a century Bolshevism has been a blight on the working class movement. But recent years have seen an important tendency, especially among many young workers, not only to recognise Russia as state capitalist but also to question Bolshevik methods and the theories from which they are derived. To do this many have been going back to the classics of Marxism and Leninism and it is no accident that over the last few years several major works which have been unavailable for decades have suddenly been republished as commercial propositions. So the very fact that Penguin now find it profitable to bring out from its mothballs the ABC of Communism is significant.

The Death of Khrushchev

The former director of Russia, who died last month. was not a member of the SPGB so this is not that kind of an obituary. Nor is it a salute to the passing of a "great man" in the manner of the capitalist press (whether so-called left or right). Rather do we take the opportunity of the passing of the former despot (one of the rare cases in the Soviet Union of an ousted top man who managed to die of old age), to point out that this man, who started to climb the ladder of Russian power nearly fifty years ago, has contrived to die with his country as far from justifying its assumed title of socialist as ever it was. In fact it is probably true to any that nowadays there are far more people around who fail to register shocked surprise at our contention that Russia is a capitalist country, like all other countries in the modern world.

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