The Soviet Crucible: Soviet Government in Theory and Practice

The Soviet Crucible: Soviet Government in Theory and Practice

The Soviet Crucible: Soviet Government in Theory and Practice

The Soviet Crucible: Soviet Government in Theory and Practice

Excerpt

"Revolutions," wrote Leon Trotsky--who made no small contribution to the art and to the commentary--"are always verbose." And what is true of revolutions generally is even truer of the Bolshevik revolution. Probably more has been written about the "October" revolution, and its philosophic and historical background and aftermath, than about any other revolution in the history of man.

This, obviously, poses some difficulties for an editor of a Book of Readings. Clearly, anything resembling consensus on what ought to be included is precluded. At the same time, it becomes all the more necessary for the editor to state the presuppositions and premises that guided his selections.

No serious and conscientious student of Soviet affairs would deny that wide differences of opinion--often tenably supported--exist among scholars and writers regarding the development, nature, and prospects of the Soviet system. A basic premise on which this book proceeds, accordingly, is that understanding is likely to be enhanced by recognizing and giving consideration to variant positions on complex and controversial issues affecting the U.S.S.R.

It is another premise that both the form and substance of Soviet rule in the U.S.S.R. were considerably affected and influenced by peculiarly Russian history and circumstances. Selections deal, therefore, with the Tsarist heritage generally and, in greater depth, with the history of Russia from about the end of serfdom to the Bolshevik revolution.

A fundamental assumption, reflected in the plan of this book, is that a knowledge of Marxist and Leninist theory is of great importance for a true understanding of the Soviet order; for, while Leninist theory, in vital respects, departed from Marxist theory--and Marxist-Leninist theory has, in some fundamentals, been attenuated or discarded in Soviet practice-- theory not only played an important role in organizing the Bolshevik revolution and state but is part of the ethos of Soviet society. It has, as Edward Hallett Carr has written, "the status of a creed which purports to inspire every act of state power"; so that even the process of emasculation requires appropriate genuflection. Certainly, Marxist-leninist theory--however distorted--continues to inspire Communist-led revolutionary movements. As Lenin wrote: "Without a revolutionary theory, there can be no . . .

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