A collection of lectures, articles, interviews and discussion transcripts representing the recent thought of the late author of the best extant biographies of Trotsky and Stalin. Deutscher, a Polish-born follower of Trotsky, was expelled from the Polish Communist Party and emigrated to England; one of the book's two strongest pieces is a 1958 discussion of the Polish CP, which Stalin dissolved in 1938, executing its leaders. The other is an essay on the Marxist literary critic George Lukacs: the two pieces suffice to make the book worthwhile. Other selections include a rudimentary speech on Trotsky, a discussion of Marxism and nonviolence, an essay on the roots of bureaucracy, a 1967 article on ideological trends in the USSR, and polemics with New Leftists. One of the book's emphases falls on the hardships and anomalies of trying to conduct a socialist revolution in poor, backward regions: this he applies to romantic Third World theories as well as to the history of the Russian revolution. Deutscher lacks the Luxemburgian capacity to grasp and extend Marx's work; his theoretical contribution consists in modestly but energetically contesting vulgarizations of Marx and regressions to pre-Marxist utopianism. What is most valuable is his sense of history and especially the experience of the 20th-century left. Unfortunately, his injunction not to give up on the revolutionary potential of the American working class can be taken as dogmatic because he offers no developed arguments about its potential or about future political-economic developments. But such limitations stimulate, rather than stultify, and since Deutscher's strengths are rare among leftists of any generation, the book will draw both an academic audience and a general left-liberal readership.
Pub Date: July 12, 1971
Page Count: -
Publisher: Ramparts Press -- dist. by Simon & Schuster