AN IDEOLOGY IN POWER: Reflections on the Russian Revolution by Bertram D Wolfe

AN IDEOLOGY IN POWER: Reflections on the Russian Revolution

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A wide range of articles from the past twenty-five years' work of one of the better-equipped American experts. The early essays on ""totalitarianism"" make no distinctive contribution, and Wolfe has less to say than one would expect about the debasement of Marxist-Leninist thought into ideology. Despite Wolfe's own ideological perorations and the superficiality of his attempts to connect ""peaceful coexistence"" policy with internal developments, he gives the convergence theorists a fight. The sections on culture, labor and foreign relations seem makeweight in comparison to the pieces on political structure, which in turn are less significant than the discussions of pre-Soviet history, modernization, and World War I. The most interesting articles try to relate Lenin to his Marxist background and Party impact. It is necessary to keep separating Wolfe's fruitfully debatable thesis (e.g. the inevitability of Stalinism) from his name-callings, which often miss the point (e.g. Lenin's ""defeatism"" on the separate peace issue) and reveal that Wolfe's grasp remains less sophisticated than that of other ultra-anticommunist historians -- like Leonard Schapiro, whose foreword also misses the point by calling the collection ""a handbook of totalitarian behavior."" What merits it has stem from its attempt to go beyond a catalogue of horrors, and to raise theoretical questions about revolutionary development.

Pub Date: July 31st, 1969
Publisher: Stein & Day