Fifty Years of Communism: Theory and Practice, 1917-1967

By G. F. Hudson | Go to book overview

III
MARXISM AND THE RUSSIAN
NARODNIKS

IN Western Europe Marxism was only one among several varieties of socialist political thought, but none of the other varieties was able to oppose it with a doctrine of comparable intellectual appeal. In Russia, however, it encountered a rival form of socialist faith, which not only proved a most formidable competitor, but had in the long run a profound influence on the development of Marxism itself, so that the "Leninist" variant of Marxism, which after the Russian Revolution of I9I7 became the official ideology of the new Soviet régime, showed characteristics which could only be traced to non‐ Marxist origins.

This rival doctrine was that of the Narodniks or Populists, and its main distinguishing feature lay in its "peasant orientation". The narod or "people", to whose cause they dedicated themselves, meant primarily the peasantry, and this corresponded to the fact that in nineteenth-century Russia the peasants were the great majority of the population. Compared with most of Western Europe, Russia had remained essentially an agrarian country, and this was synonymous with its general economic backwardness. At the beginning of the nineteenth century less than five per cent of the population of Russia lived in towns, and at the end of the century not more than twenty per cent. The vast continental land mass of Russia which rendered it so difficult for a foreign conqueror to subdue it—as Charles XII and Napoleon had found to their cost—

-27-

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Fifty Years of Communism: Theory and Practice, 1917-1967
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Fifty Years of Communism - Theory and Practice I9i7-1967 *
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • I - Jacobin and Communist i
  • II - Social Democracy and the Non-Revolution 14
  • III - Marxism and the Russian Narodniks 27
  • IV - Lenin 38
  • V - The Capture of Power in Russia 50
  • VI - Foreign Intervention and Civil War 63
  • VII - The Comintern 76
  • VIII - The Retreat from Socialism 87
  • IX - Stalin and the Revolution from Above 97
  • X - Stalin and the Great Purge 110
  • XI - The Rise of Communism in China 124
  • XII - The Idea of the Popular Front 135
  • XIII - Communism and the Second World War 146
  • XIV - Communism and the Cold War 157
  • XV - Russian Communism after Stalin 166
  • XVI - Peaceful Coexistence 175
  • XVII - Polycentrism 184
  • XVIII - Maoism 194
  • XIX - Communism and the Third World 206
  • XX - Fifty Years After 217
  • Select Bibliography 226
  • Index 231
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