Bukharin in Retrospect

Bukharin in Retrospect

Bukharin in Retrospect

Bukharin in Retrospect


This volume is the product of an international conference held in the autumn of 1988, around the time Nikolai Bukharin was officially rehabilitated - a benchmark in the history of glasnost and the process of legitimating perestroika. Conference participants from 19 countries, including the USSR and China, took occasion to reconsider the record and legacy of Bukharin as revolutionary, economist and political theorist. They offer a many-sided but critical re-examination of Bolshevism's "internal alternative" to Stalin and Stalinism.


Moshe Lewin

This book is the product of a conference that was held just about the time Bukharin was officially rehabilitated. His widow, as she herself tells us in a friendly note to the editors, could not attend because of another historic event occurring in Moscow at the same time--the first public meeting in Bukharin's honor. That was in 1988.

But the Soviet scene is changing with enormous rapidity. Only a short time ago, Bukharin's rehabilitation and the publication of materials about him (which still continues) created much excitement, as well as relief, among the proponents of perestroika: It was a sign that the still fragile wave of reforms was actually continuing and the expected conservative backlash was either broken or at least blocked.

Yet only a year or so later, Bukharin, both as a man and as a symbol, was once again virtually forgotten in Moscow. Another landmark event was drawing attention: the election of a parliament. in the aftermath of that event--as a natural consequence--the party agreed to relinquish its claim to a monopoly of power. in fact it had no choice: It was deprived of its monopoly constitutionally by a decision of the new parliament. With this came a steep decline in the party's legitimacy, a growth of public political activity, mostly directed against the ruling party (especially against its apparatus), and the proliferation in newspapers of far-reaching revisions and reassessments of Soviet history. Much of this reflection, notably concerning Stalinism, permitted many schools of thought to emerge, most, if not all of them, ideological and political, often emotional, and directed against all symbols, ideas, and ideals to which the previous regime had claimed to adhere. There is undoubtedly some degree of justice in this, as all that had been suppressed comes back in force. the unavoidable and posi-

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