After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism

Excerpt

The essays in this book explore the historical meaning of Communism's meteoric trajectory across the twentieth century. They also assess the consequences for socialism and socialists of the debacle and disaster of Communism since 1989. The concern here is with understanding the reasons for Communist failure and exploring its wider significance, not with telling the story of the various dramatic, heartening or tragic events of that and subsequent years. However the reader should bear in mind the time at which each of the essays was written, since they are published here with little or no revision. They were all written while the shock of the events they concern was still palpable, though they have been selected because they succeeded in putting those events in a wider theoretical and historical perspective. Indeed, even the briefest of these reflections are the fruit of a lengthy prior critical engagement with the fate of Communism and the other topics they concern.

The brutal suppression of the Democracy movement in Beijing in June 1989 was the occasion for the essays by Norberto Bobbio and Ralph Miliband which open this collection. The killings in Beijing and a dozen other major centres, numbering several thousand in only a few days, were especially shocking because the Chinese government was here shooting young people who were urging Communism to reform itself, to deal with corruption and democratize the structures of power. Bobbio, in his brief but pithy reflections, saw these events as revealing the way in which the Communist exercise of power has inexorably turned into a cruel caricature of the noble ideals it proclaimed. In scholarly works and political polemics which range over more than fifty years Bobbio has maintained that the norms and institutions of liberal democracy are essential to socialism. While he sees the tragic slaughter . . .

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