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A first-rate analysis of Lenin's last half-year in power, explicitly related to general problems of development in a backward country, by a single party. Professor Lewis stresses the fact that the Bolsheviks had seized power without an adequate infrastructure. And the workers were in the minority in the party and the nation. The costs of civil war and the threat of a worker-peasant split made Lenin stress transitional, moderate programs. Hence a supposedly socialist revolution was obliged to restore capitalist forms through the NEP. Hampered by illness, confinement and interference, the ""last struggle"" was Lenin's effort to reform the civil service and the party itself. Lenin had always scorned bureaucratism. But, as Lewin puts it, the party had to resort to state-machine control for lack of spontaneous pressure ""from below."" And Lenin did not realize that the bureaucracy had replaced the working class as the regime's social base. It is this ""substitution of the dictatorship of the party for that of the proletariat"" which permitted the Stalinism of the '30's (and the '60's). As for Stalin himself, Lewin shows how by January 1923 Lenin wanted to crush him politically. The ""Georgian affair"" is discussed at length. It too has implications for the present: Lenin ended by reproving Stalin as an ""imperialist bully"" for his efforts to subordinate the Georgian Communists to Russian control. The book, which was published in France in 1967, is clearly and sensitively written; it makes full use of new sources; it is, in short, one of the best available studies of a surpassingly important period.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1968
ISBN: 0472030523
Publisher: Pantheon