Why Lenin? Why Stalin? A Reappraisal of the Russian Revolution, 1900-1930

Why Lenin? Why Stalin? A Reappraisal of the Russian Revolution, 1900-1930

Why Lenin? Why Stalin? A Reappraisal of the Russian Revolution, 1900-1930

Why Lenin? Why Stalin? A Reappraisal of the Russian Revolution, 1900-1930

Excerpt

We exist and survive by making judgments. In the big issues that shape the fate of men and nations our judgments are based on simplifications and generalizations, on "images." The present world of baffling complexities therefore demands the reduction of mazes which only experts can follow--and even they imperfectly--to simple patterns comprehensible to ordinary men and women. All people, particularly in a democracy, deal with and judge these issues, one way or the other. The choice before us then is not of simplicity or complexity but of good or bad, penetrating or misleading simplification. Generalizations guide public opinion, public opinion influences and sometimes determines government policy, and government policy holds the fatal trigger of war and peace, particularly when the subject is Russia and communism. Let our generalizations, therefore, be knowledgeable and just.

This essay offers a novel explanation of the rise of Lenin and Stalin. It attempts to view the emergence of Russian communism as an integral part of European and global history, treating it, as it should have been from the start, as a problem of comparative studies, not as an isolated phenomenon to be explained largely from Russian conditions alone. Its bent of argument thus runs counter to the tendency of some cultural anthropologists and their followers in sociology and political science to derive the causes of modern Russian development chiefly, if not exclusively, from internal factors. Without denying the importance . . .

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