1990s >> 1991 >> no-1048-december-1991

Book review: What about Lenin?

Stalinism in Crisis. By Robert Knight. Pluto Press. 1991. £9.95.

Stalinism and the Seeds of Soviet Reform By Moshe Lewin. Pluto Press, 1991.

Current events in Russia have left Trotskyists (not to speak of Stalinists and other Leninists) in complete confusion. These two books illustrate two contrastingTrotskyist responses to Russia’s changing from bureaucratic state capitalism to private capitalism.

Knight, a writer for the RCP’s Living Marxism, sees the Russian ruling class as trying to “restore” capitalism in Russia and to convert itself from a bureaucracy ruling an inefficient statist economy into a capitalist class. Lewin won’t even concede that Russia has a ruling class or that it is heading for the sort of capitalism that exists in the West. In his introduction to this new edition of his book that first appeared in 1974, he seems to be saying that Gorbachev was engaged in converting Russia from a “degenerate workers’ state” (whatever that might be) into some sort of “socialist” democracy!

And, of course, it is altogether too easy to blame, as the titles of both books seek to, the Russian dictatorship on to Stalin, when the bases for it were laid under Lenin.

Adam Buick