Comintern and Peasant in East Europe: 1919-1930

Comintern and Peasant in East Europe: 1919-1930

Comintern and Peasant in East Europe: 1919-1930

Comintern and Peasant in East Europe: 1919-1930

Excerpt

The early history of the Third or Communist International is a challenging and treacherous area for research. Challenging because it offers an extremely rich interplay between ideas and cultures, men and political power, revolutionary experience and revolutionary aspirations. Treacherous because it involves an excursion into relatively unexplored territory with little reliable guidance from scholars or sources. Yet the rewards are great for those who undertake the study, because the early history of the Comintern reveals a great deal about the mechanics of international Communist organization, the appeals of communism, and its drawbacks as a revolutionary movement.

The history of the Comintern makes unusual demands on the investigator. Like most organizations which combine conspiratorial with legal political activity, the Comintern scarcely ever revealed its real intentions and actions in the published records of its meetings and conferences. To study the Communist International one must be both archivist and detective. The methods of research probably have more in common with those used in the study of the early Middle Ages than of modern political history, because, like the medieval scholar, the historian of the Comintern has to rely heavily on internal evidence and scant bits and pieces of external evidence, which can be brought together only by deduction, imagination, and even intuition. As a result, the end product is unquestionably more a work of art than a scientific accomplishment.

It is possible, of course, to confine oneself to the history of Comintern theory and doctrine, relying on the printed evidence and indulging exclusively in exegetical analysis. Such research--the least hazardous and the least subject to error--is therefore the most common in English. But by failing to venture beyond revolutionary . . .

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