Thinking like a Communist: State and Legitimacy in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba

Thinking like a Communist: State and Legitimacy in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba

Thinking like a Communist: State and Legitimacy in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba

Thinking like a Communist: State and Legitimacy in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba

Synopsis

This particular study shows how the theories of Marx and Lenin have shaped communist practice, in particular how Lenin's model adapted to diverse conditions in Russia, China, and Cuba.

Excerpt

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound distinction between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should be tested.

—Lenin, State and Revolution (1917)

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

—1 Corinthians 14:8

Marxism-Leninism, or communism, as it is more popularly known, is the most important ideological force of the twentieth century. Today at least one-third of the world's population lives under communist governments, while tens of millions more from lands as diverse as Italy and India explicitly subscribe to the communist creed. When the history of our century is written, the communist revolutions in Russia, China, Cuba, and Vietnam will surely emerge as its central political event, every bit as much as the rise of the middle class, and with it the growth of democracy and the global spread of industrial capitalism, was the hallmark of the nineteenth century. Whatever one's political beliefs, one cannot be indifferent to the worldwide expansion of this militant ideology.

Acting like a communist presupposes thinking like one. The purpose of this book is to provide a brief, readable account of what it means to think like a communist. A number of excellent studies on communist history and ideology already exist, of course, but these works are usually intended for specialists. They are therefore either too limited in scope . . .

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