AN immense literature exists on the subject of Soviet Russia and the Russian Revolution -- documented and journalistic, scientific and sentimental, condemnatory and adulatory. This book does not attempt to compete with what has already been written and instead seeks to fill a definite gap. Up to the present there has not been available any history of the evolution of Bolshevism from its roots in Karl Marx through the individual stages traversed by Lenin, down to the theories and tactics of Stalin in 1932. It has thus come about that false notions are common in the widest circles on the subject of Bolshevism. It is either under-estimated or over-estimated and never appreciated for what it really is.
Ideas are the products of actual conditions and not of a vacuum. It is therefore necessary here to take note of the factors in the development both of Russia and the world in so far as they are essential for a proper understanding of Bolshevism. It would have been beyond the scope of this book to have attempted to describe fully any one event in the Russian Revolution or -- for example -- to analyse the FiveYear Plan in detail.
The problem which I have attempted to solve in this book is scientific and not a problem of Party politics. At the time of the split in the Independent Social Democrat Party in Germany in 1920 I joined the Communist Party in common with the majority of the USPD. I was for years a member of the Berlin Committee, the Central Committee of the KPD, and the Executive of the Third International. I was forced to resign from the Communist International in 1927, as so many Communists of all countries have been forced to do before and since. Since then I have not belonged to any political Party nor to any of the small groups comprising the Communist Opposition. I have not written this book to please any Party or group, and I am not conscious of any desire to make 'revelations' or to 'settle accounts'. Those who hope to find in this book anecdotes about Stalin and the 'torture chambers' of the GPU will be bitterly disappointed.