It would naturally be impossible in one volume of documentary materials to cover a subject as broad and complex as communism from every point of view. The careful description of political institutions, events and everyday life as they have proceeded over the years under communism would require whole shelves of source materials. The present work has been deliberately focused on the subject of Communist thought and doctrine, for reason of its commanding importance, its relative uniformity within the Communist scheme of things, and the appropriateness of the documentary approach to its elucidation. We will be primarily concerned with the evolution of top-level guiding ideas, policies and intentions among the Communists. Statements of deviators of all sorts are included along with the official line of those in power--we may regard anyone who claims descent from Lenin as equally meriting the label "Communist." Through the pronouncements of its leading figures, both those who have ruled and those who have fallen from grace, we may arrive at a reasonably approximate picture of what communism actually is, historically considered.
The problems of selecting materials for a purpose such as this never permit a fully satisfactory solution. I have attempted a fair digest and representative choice of statements expressing all the main concepts and currents in communism. Many readers, however, will find that their areas of interest are under-represented. This failing is the price that must be paid in an effort to survey the entire Communist movement in one documentary volume, and meet the needs of the student, the general reader, and the scholar who is not a specialist in this field.
The present work would never have materialized without