THE STORY OF MARXISM AND COMMUNISM by Katharine Savage

THE STORY OF MARXISM AND COMMUNISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The story of Marx and the Soviet regime, with historical discussion of China and side glances at Eastern Europe. The description of Marx's milieu--Enlightenment doctrines, 19th century Germany and England, left-wing movements and ideas--is well done. The exposition of Marx's thought is not. Mrs. Savage sustains the conventional emphasis on ""dialectical materialism,"" which has little to do with Marx himself; she fails to mention early issues like alienation or give any idea of the subject-matter of Das Kapital. Such capsules from the Communist Manifesto as ""unfortunately, capitalism created modern industry which led to the exploitation of the working class"" are strictly speaking wrong and, more important, far too abstract. A broad frame of reference is demanded of the reader: the meaning of concepts like ""bourgeois pattern of family life"" and the rationale of goals like ""abolition of nationalities"" are never explained. In these respects Carmichael's Karl Marx (for older readers) and Johnson's Communism (for younger ones) are superior. Unlike Johnson's conceptual transition from Marx to the Bolsheviks, Savage makes a historical link through Bismarck. Also unlike Johnson, she does not deal with Lenin's theory of imperialism or provide a feeling of Stalinism from its victims' point of view. The conclusion underlines the persistence of un-Marxist nationalism, but in general the author dwells on presupposed continuities between Marxism and Communism rather than on discontinuities and departures. Her historical outlines are clear but less full than Goldston's works on Communist China and the Soviet Union, and there is not enough substance in her discussions of ideas to compensate.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Walck